Sunday, December 4, 2011

Winter Wonderland....Florida style

This morning we had brunch with Santa...Mira Bay style. James loved sitting in Santa's lap and eagerly told him that he wants a scooter for Christmas. Not an electric one, just a push one because he can go "super fast!" Works for us! And with that smile, how can you say no?
Then it was time to head outside for the Winter Wonderland. It was already 80 degrees, so they couldn't do much but that didn't stop the kids from having a blast!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving Break 2011


  • presenting my favorite Mira Bay girls with personalized, special-ordered Team Mango t-shirts. Mango... it's not a drink, it's a lifestyle.

  • a community yard sale where I got rid of tons of baby gear. Mama's going shopping!
    celebrating a good friend's birthday with micro-brewed beers at Cold Storage Craft Brewery (awesome, low-key place with awesome brews!)

  • a wine tasting event at the clubhouse.

  • a beautiful sunny day by the pool.

  • a trip to the "doc in the box" for all three Haymans. Ear infection for the little man, walking pneumonia for me and upper respiratory infection for the hubby. yeah.... go BIG or go HOME!

  • time to finish reading all three books in the Hunger Games trilogy. Love, love, LOVE this series! I want more Katniss Everdeen!

  • finally time to catch up on some movies I've been wanting to see- The Change-Up: B rating, it was okay, LOL at times; Bad Teacher: C+ considering I fell asleep during the middle of it; Crazy, Stupid Love: A-... I really liked this one, loved the fight scene towards the end and love me some Ryan G. Yep, he's made the list.

  • serving a thanksgiving feast for 18 of our closest friends and their kids. Then having another 4 join us for dessert. The evening ended with only one broken wine glass (it's becoming a thanksgiving tradition at this point) and all the boys jumping in the pool!

  • Turkey Trot 5k: I still had too much chest congestion to run, but Uncle Tom stepped in and ran with James in the one mile fun run. Apparently there was some sort of melt down in the middle when James realized he wasn't going to win the race. Yep, we are still working on sportsmanship and not always "winning."

  • putting up Christmas lights (yes, I said Christmas, not holiday!) and decorating the Christmas tree.

  • having enough leftovers of desserts and wine for another gathering with friends and good food.

  • celebrating Tom's birthday and Michigan's big win with Veronica.

  • our yearly family photo shoot.

  • another sunny day by the pool, tan lines included.

  • too short.

Almost ready for Christmas....

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A few months in review....

Hello out there in Bloggy-Land! I realize I've been MIA for the past couple of months. I would normally blame my lack of postings on the following:

  • Learning a new job and struggling to get ahead of the power-curve with paperwork. I accepted a position as a EET Peer (teacher) Evaluator. Check out my prof bio here for my street creds.

  • Maintaining a busy social weekend calendar with the best friends and the best neighbors around. No, really. These women are amazing and their hard-working husbands deserve a shout-out too!

  • Managing the household events/chores/duties while Will finishes up his online coursework with University of Phoenix. It literally consumes almost every single waking minute aside from when he's actually at work. So, let's just say I will be very happy once all of his coursework is COMPLETE!

Yeah, I could say all of that, but I'm going to use the "F" word instead. Yep, I blame my lack of blog posting on Facebook, because let's just face it, Facebook is faster to upload photos and you get that instant gratification of posting exactly what you are thinking/doing and get feedback almost immediately. Instant gratification at it's finest. Or worse.... whatever your stance may be.

Anyway, here are some pictures that capture a glimpse of what's been keeping us busy over the past few months. Hope you enjoy......

The first day of school photo. A classic. Except James insisted on doing a "crazy" pose for the first one. Ham!
I finally got a nice smiling, handsome shot of my little sunshine (and his goofy grin). Man, when did he get so big and grown up looking? Sniff. Sniff.

Of course, with the start of school (well, pre-kindergarten) comes homework. When we can get James to sit still and focus, he actually does focus! I just had a conference with his teacher today. She stated that he is very, very booksmart and is ready for kindergarten. But his social skills sometimes get in the way of his listening and focusing.

Hmmmm... wonder where he gets that from?

All work and no play? No way!

I signed James up for soccer and he loves it! Of course, it involves his two favorite activities.... running and kicking things! He's actually pretty good at it and i love watching him practice! He's the kid on the team who doesn't stand back and wait for the play to happen, he runs forward and makes it happen. I LOVE that!

I mentioned earlier that we live amongst some of the best neighbors and best friends around. I feel truly blessed to have every single one of them in my family's life. These are just some of the precious kids that James is friends with. Here they are pre-trick or treating candy-coma.

Here's one of my latest fav pics. Mommy and Buzz Lightyear.

I love you little man.... to infinity and beyond!

Monday, July 11, 2011

All Aboard for the Birthday Boy!!!


On Saturday, we celebrated James' 4th birthday. These pictures were taken by James' godfather, "Uncle Tom." It was such a bright, sunny, beautiful day and his pictures really captured all of the cutie pies at the party.
I really can't believe he is four years old already. Some days feel like four years in itself, other days feel like four minutes.... oh well, such is life, I guess.
As for James' party, we followed our normal summer-birthday tradition and had a pool party. Six families (10 children total) were invited and all six families (10 children) came! It was a great turnout and James had a wonderful time playing and swimming with his friends.
He loved seeing present after present come through the front door and he "tried" to act embarrassed while we were singing Happy Birthday, but I could tell he secretly loved the spotlight!
Dear James,
Another year of your precious little life has passed and with it, you have grown by inches and leaps and bounds. Everyone tells me how tall you are for your age and with your verbal expression (chatty), most people think you are older than you really are. But, you are quick to correct them.
At just four years old, you love the water. You can swim across the pool, dive into the deep end and pick up objects from the bottom. You are very interested in mommy and daddy's scuba gear and have expressed a great desire to go "scuuuva diving" with us. We can't wait!
Once I explained to you what "summer vacation" was and that school would start back up in the Fall, you replaced your daily "Is today a school day?" question with "Can we go to the big pool?" You would spend every waking minute up at the clubhouse (big pool) and I can't really blame you. It has a massive, very fun, very fast water slide and you always seem to have friends up there.
Of course, making friends is one thing that you do quickly and easily. You don't hesitate to introduce yourself to others and then ask, "Want to go play?" It almost always works, too.
Speaking of play, we are still a "train-loving" household. Some generous neighbors donated a huge Geo Track set for you to play with. This is in addition to your wooden train track set and your Thomas and Friends track. You are constantly rolling your trains through the house, or flying an airplane or a spaceship around. Monster trucks, fire trucks and everything in between are also highly popular with you. You are very active and talk pretty much nonstop (wonder where that comes from?) You love to talk about anything and everything in the world around you. I love your curiosity and your desire to learn about everything, but honestly, sometimes, I just want to finish a sentence of my own to another adult or finish cooking dinner (again, the little things in life!)
You are still obsessed with Abby and Misha (our dogs.) You smother Abby with attention (and stickers and bandaids, etc). Poor dog!
But, you are still and will always be our little sunshine. You love to laugh and act silly. You rarely show your serious side, unless you are deep in "play." You love going to school and "reading" anything you see. I'm constantly having to read signs or words out to you. Every night, we read our bedtime books and you love to "read" the parts that you have memorized. I hope your love of reading continues.
Speaking of hopes,
I hope you always keep your enthusiasm and love of Life. I hope you keep that charming personality and ability to "go with the flow." I hope you learn to slow down sometimes and walk to where you are going (instead of a full-0ut run!) I hope that you feel loved every second of every day (even when I'm putting you in Time Out for misbehaving!) I hope you have a wonderful year full of four-year-old insights and experiences!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Summer Crush

Yes, I'll admit it. I have developed a summer crush. What's worse, it's a crush on a small island (only about 5 square miles) with no white, sandy beaches and takes three air flights to get there. It is part rock and part tropical forest. It is located in the Netherland Antilles, off the coast of St. Martin. On some maps, it actually doesn't even exist. It is called Saba, The Unspoiled Queen ( I LOVE that name!)
I would have never known about this little gem of an island if it weren't for my bestie Veronica and her lovely aunt Chris, who is retired and living blissfully on the island. The locals are hard-working immigrants. Those who first developed the island suffered through harsh, hot, rocky conditions. Most of those on the island who we met during this visit gave up careers in cooperate America to run their business blissfully on this island in the sun.
The hubs and I spent an entire week there on vacation and because I don't want to forget a second of it, please forgive me if this turns into the LONGEST. POST. EVER.

Saturday- We left Tampa bright and early, flew to Miami, then to St. Martin and then finally boarded Winnair for Saba.

Sunday- We head to Sea Saba Dive Center for two morning dives. Unfortunately, since it was my first dives of the season and we had just flown the day prior, my ears did not want to cooperate and I was unable to clear my left ear. After hanging on the mooring line for several minutes, trying to get cleared, I waved off the hubs to join the rest of the divers and I went back onto the boat. I enjoyed the rest of their dive laying out and relishing in the gorgeous view of the island.
Luckily, my ears got their act together and I was able to join the rest of the divers during the second dive. It was along these lava fingers that extend outwards from the island, full of coral and sea life and I was in HEAVEN. It was so amazing to experience all of the noise and sea life. I truly felt several moments of PURE GRATITUDE that we were on this beautiful island experiencing such beautiful sights.
After the dive, we headed back to our adorable abode called Orchid Cottage at Juliana's Hotel on the island. The cottage and the view were so serene and relaxing. At night, the noise level of the tree frogs was intoxicating. I still miss it.

Monday- We enjoyed two more morning dives. Luckily, my ears got the memo that this was a dive vacation and I had zero problems clearing and descending. We traveled over to the Windward Side and dove along the lava fingers of Core Gut and David's Drop Off. They were relaxing, easy dives and I was able to completely get comfy under the deep beautiful blue waters of the Caribbean with my bestie dive buddy! During this dive, we dove over some mustard colored sand. The dive guide, Becca instructed us to dig our hands deep into the sand to feel the warmth of the active volcano forces bubbling up to the surface of the ocean. It felt spectacular to get a "warm up" at the end of a dive and "reach out and touch" an actual force of nature.
Monday evening, Veronica's Aunt Chris hosted a "Welcome to Saba" cocktail party in our honor. Her house is located at the top of Upper Hell's Gate, but it provides a beautiful view of the heavens. The food presentation was exquisite and tasted delicious. We really enjoyed the party and meeting some of Aunt Chris' friends, but we were diving early the next morning, so it wasn't a late night.

Another beautiful day of diving... The dive plan was to approach the pinnacles at Third Encounter and follow the dive master to the famous Needle. However, the current was ripping, so our wise leader Oswaldo kept us around the pinnacles. That was okay with me, now I have yet another reason to return to Saba. Must dive the Needle!
I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening lounging poolside at Tropics and reading the latest novel published by my favorite Furman professor, the one and only Dr. Butler Brewton. Warning, read this ONLY if you are in need of a hot, steamy, controversial read. :)
The rest of the group enjoyed a nurse-shark-filled night dive. Now, I have yet another reason to return to Saba. Ideal Night Diving location

We explored the beauty along Tent Reef Wall and I was amazed to see this massive wall of rock and coral extending from the depths of the ocean. Due to the kicking current, it turned into a drift dive, but that was just fine with our group. The sea life was tiny and colorful and abundant and fascinating. I truly felt blessed to "swim with the fishes" and observe such a rare beautiful sight.

Thursday- Our last day of diving. It was so bittersweet! The highlight of the first dive among the lava fingers was during the ascent along the mooring line. Dive Master Extraordinaire, Oswaldo, entertained me during my safety stop by "walking the tightrope." I felt the line shaking and looked down to see him with fins off, "walking" up the mooring line and doing a "tightrope" act, complete with a backflip. Show off! I showed my appreciation and enjoyment by applauding and bowing down to his efforts of entertainment. I was laughing so much that water kept leaking into my mask! It was this type of "fun-ness" surrounded by knowledge and professionalism that made Sea Saba Dive Center a favorite with us!
During our second dive, We were able to make it to the ever popular Diamond Rock and I was simply amazed at the beauty of this massive structure extending from the depths of the ocean. The coral/rock structure was covered in sea life and the sound of the live coral was deafening at points during the dive. It was a symphony of sounds and sights. All provided by Mother Nature herself!
Thursday evening was spent at the fabulous Shearwater Resort and Hotel overlooking the Windward Side of Saba. The hotel offers a breathtaking view, decorated in trendy, sexy decor and provides luxurious accommodations for it's guests. We enjoyed a wonderfully prepared dinner and drinks and desserts. But, we enjoyed the company of good friends (old and new) most of all in it's beautiful setting.

Friday- Our last day on the island. We chose to sleep in, lounge around the pool at Juliana's, then the girls hiked down to the Sulphur Mines. It was a short, twenty minute hike down the Windward Side. At the end, we planted ourselves on a bench along the cliff, downed some cold beers and shared some stories of family, fun and friendship. It was such a special time that I will never forget.
Friday night, we went for pizza at the local joint, Saba Treasures. Then, Tanya, Aunt Chris and I headed out with the locals for a late night of karaoke and dancing. Good times!
I forgot how absolutely wonderful it is to be on vacation with my husband and enjoy special moments together. I highly recommend it for all mommies and daddies!
(Disclaimer: James stayed happily at home with his favorite sitter, Miss Emily. I was truly grateful to have him safe at home and happy. If I had to spend a week away from my little sunshine, what better company than with my husband and our best friends!)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Spring Break 2011

Spring Break 2011 was...
  • 2 good books (A Place of Yes and The Glass Castle)
  • lots of swimming and sunning by the pool
  • Easter egg hunt and a visit with the Easter Bunny
  • a newfound appreciation for Slurpees (I mix 1/2 Blue raspberry and 1/2 coconut, I call it Blue Hawaiian and it is DE-LISH!)
  • lunch and a massage with a good friend
  • more swimming and sunning by the pool
  • a beach day at the Don Cesar
  • a trip to Dinosaur World (who doesn't want to go there on their spring break?)
  • a birthday dinner for a friend
  • babysitting a precious six-week old angel for a friend so she could take her hubby out for a birthday lunch/activity
  • attending a launch party for a friends "uber" cool online radio station! Check it out HERE!
  • going to the 4th annual blueberry festival at Keel and Curley's winery
  • tractor rides, face painting and bouncy houses at the blueberry festival!
  • more swimming and sunning by the pool!

Friday, April 22, 2011


Prog-ress: (noun)
1. a movement toward a goal or to a further or higher stage:the progress of a student toward a degree.
2. developmental activity in science, technology, etc.,especially with reference to the commercial opportunities created thereby or to the promotion of the material well-being of the public through the goods, techniques, or facilities created.
3.advancement in general.
4.growth or development; continuous improvement: He showsprogress in his muscular coordination.
5.the development of an individual or society in a direction considered more beneficial than and superior to the previous level.

Yes, people, any way you look at it... we are making PROGRESS. And, it's exhausting...
Let me count the ways-
He moved in with us on March 17 for a change of scenery and to make some lifestyle/life choice changes. I'm very proud to say that not only has he been able to follow "Hayman Household Rules" but he is working full time, making positive decisions and just being a great "kid" to have around. I call him my "kid" or "baby" brother, but the truth is that he towers over me. Oh well, I can still take him.... But, best of all, he is making PROGRESS with his life. :)
2. Will's degree.
Last summer, when my grad school courses really picked up and we realized that my fall course schedule was going to be even more demanding on the household, Will took time off from his online advanced degree to "pick up the slack" around the house so I could finish my degree. That set him back several months, but now, he is back full force in online coursework. Ugh.... I will be SO glad when we are both done with school and extra degrees and such! My graduation gift was a $35 watch from my favorite accessory store in South Tampa. His graduation present is going to be a boat. That's fair, right? :) Either way, this degree has been a goal of his for a LONG time now and he is making PROGRESS! It sucks right now as he is missing day trips and events with James and I, but I'm trying to keep the BIG PICTURE in sight. :)
3. A new position for me.
Last Thursday, I had an interview with a six-person panel to be a teacher evaluator for the district. The official term is Peer/Mentor Evaluator. It's a very controversial position because you spend your days observing and evaluating teachers in your field/grade level. Your evaluations correlate with their yearly evaluation score and for some teachers, their salary. Yes, it's high stakes people. But, I went through this observation/evaluation process this year and survived and I'm convinced that the process can be effective, informative and objective. As for the interview itself, I LOVED IT! Twenty whole minutes to myself with people asking me questions about teaching techniques and classroom theories and evaluation of techniques? Yes, please! I've always been a pretty good interviewee and even though I was sick to my stomach before the interview, once I got into the "hot seat" and into my zone, it was smooth sailing! Nothing is set in stone yet as I haven't accepted the position officially, but I do have the support and blessing of my principal, assistant principal and fellow teachers, which means the world to me. When I return to the classroom in 2-3 years (it's a temporary position), hopefully I will be a better, stronger teacher for participating in this experience. Yep, this Life Long Learner is hoping to make PROGRESS in the classroom! :)
4. James
I can't make a post without at least ONE comment about the progress of our Little Sunshine! A few weeks ago, while going for an evening swim before bedtime, James announced that he wanted to dive (instead of jumping off the side.) So, I coached him how to put his toes on the edge, bend his knees, tuck his head down and point his fingers. Sure enough, perfect dolphin dive off the side of the pool. Ever since then, he loves diving off the side (and does it very well!) Now, he will dive off the side and swim across to the other side. Or, a new favorite is to dive down to the bottom of the deep end and touch the drain. He also loves "racing" me across the pool. He can actually go pretty fast once he coordinates both his legs and his arms. Michael Phelps, watch out! I love seeing his PROGRESS in the water. His comfort level and ability continue to amaze me!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Conversations with James

It is very hard (for me anyway) to believe that my baby is almost FOUR years old. I mean, seriously, when did I become the parent of a four year old? But, I digress...
Lately, my little socialite/conversationalist has taken our conversations to new heights.
Yes, he has introduced that little, three letter word that every parent dreads- W-H-Y?
I don't know what I was thinking or WHY I thought we would skip this phase of Life, but it completely caught me unguarded. And overnight (it seemed) every sentence, utterance and conversation would be saturated with the word/question/demand "why?"
We read to him every night. Sure enough, after EVERY page of EVERY book, "Why mommy?" And most of the times, no matter how many times I answer him. He always comes back with "Why?"
Therefore, I have been forced to institute the go-to-ever-popular-mommy-phrase "Because I said so."
Scenario- Driving home from school
James: "Mommy, fish can't talk."
Me: "You are right James. Fish can't talk."
James: "Why?"
Me: "Because they live underwater."
James: "Why?"
Me: "Because that's where they live."
James: "Why?"
Me: "Because that's where their home is"
James: "Why?"
Me: "Because they have gills instead of lungs. They don't have vocal chords to produce sounds like we have because we are humans and they are fish."
James: "Why?"
Me: "Because I SAID SO!"
James: "Oh, Okay Mommy."

Boating with Friends

I'm a firm believer that it's better to have friends with boats than having a boat of your own. Unfortunately, the hubs doesn't share this same philosophy, BUT he IS a saver. So, until our "boating" saving account holds enough for the boat of his dreams...
we rely on the kindness of our friends for our boating adventures.

Last Sunday, our friends invited us out on their boat for the afternoon. We gathered up the kids, snacks, drinks and plenty of sunscreen and headed out to a nearby island. I captured this picture of James as we were heading back into the neighborhood. He was completely enamored with the "boating scene" and loved every minute of it.
Here he is with his friend Steven, enjoyed some cool Capri Suns on the bow of the boat.
Once on the island, all of the adults got to relax in the sun/surf while the kids played in the sand. It was such a perfect, relaxing, fun day! And best of all, I got to share it with my "baby" brother who is staying with us for a few months. I'm looking forward to the summer and more boating trips!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Blue Or Blues Clues?

So, after a really demanding week at school and having to worry about some serious family issues that will require me to make a really difficult trip home, I've been a little frazzled (maybe a lot) and a little depressed/down lately. I know that with most things, "this too shall pass" but until it passes, sometimes Life just sucks the wind right out of you.
Time to take a deep breath, accept the things I cannot change and wish for the wisdom to know the difference (or something like that). And oh yeah, take things one day at a time.
I came home today and was enjoying some quality family time with James. Well, by quality family time, I mean that James was finishing his dinner and watching cartoons while I was cooking dinner, unloading the dishwasher and putting away groceries (you know how it goes....)
One of his favorite cartoons is the old-school-childhood-favorite BLUES CLUES!
This evening's episode was titled, "I'm so happy!" Of course, during the show, the host was "interacting" with his audience about things that make him happy. In time, he asked the boys and girls what made THEM so happy. James loudly proclaimed to the TV, "Christmas lights and Christmas presents!"
Of course, this made me smile because at least once a week since Christmas, James asks me if it's Christmas yet. (Do you think he had a good Christmas or what?)
That got me to thinking... what makes ME so happy?
Well, it tends to change from week to week. But there are some constant things that make me happy.
I won't bore you with the details of my inner heart-happiness.
But, I ask.... what makes YOU happy?
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Saturday, February 5, 2011

January was...

  • having to take Abby to the vet for emergency bladder surgery to remove three very large stones. Poor thing wore a cone for two weeks! No embarrassing photos were taken during the poor pooches recovery period, but we are glad to have a happy, healthy Abby back!
  • taking James to the annual Gasparilla Children's Parade. We had front row bleacher seats (thanks to a generous parent in my classroom) and he RACKED in the beads! About half way through the parade, we had to "de-bead" James so he could stand up straight. From then on, every time he got a single strand, he would take it off and add it to his stash. He had a great time and we enjoyed the fun, family memories!
  • partying with our friends during the Gasparilla Pirate Invasion. They have a very large, very nice boat and it's perfect for entertaining a bunch of pirates and wenches! We head out Saturday morning, follow in the invasion of pirates, partake in some adult beverages and let the beads fly! Seriously, there is so much bead-throwing from boat to boat, you never really run out of beads! It was a beautiful, sunny, warm Florida afternoon. Perfect for making memories (and loosing some brain cells in the process) with friends!
  • finally deciding where I want to send James to school for kindergarten. Yes, I know what you are thinking... he's ONLY 3 years old. But, next year starts the ever important VPK (voluntary pre-kindergarten) year and after that, Kindergarten! It shocks and amazes me to think that I will have a child in school within two years (seriously, where did the time go?) And I have been deep in thought for a while about where I want him to go. If he goes to school with me, I have the luxury of "watching" over him throughout the day and being a part of his school day. Then, there's the issue of what to do with him after school is over. His school day will be complete, but I usually have an hour or two of work to do. Let's just say that trying to get work done around James is like trying to do needlepoint with oven mitts on. Also, my school is a magnet school, which means that the students come from all over Tampa and the surrounding areas. It's not what you call a "neighborhood" school. There's also the fact that I might be considering job options elsewhere, just for a change of pace. But, that's a whole other blog conversation for another time. So, after much internal debate and after much discussion with other mommies, I've decided (I think, for now) that I want James to go to our neighborhood school. The parents who have children there now LOVE it. It's not the best of the best or the cream of the crop as far as elementary schools are concerned, but we don't live near any of those schools. The main reason why I want him at this school actually has nothing to do with academics. It's purely for social reasons. I want him to have a sense of "community." You see, we have no family here and James doesn't even know/remember his cousins. He doesn't have that built-in sense of family community. So, I want to build that with his school community. I want him to play with his friends on the weekends from the neighborhood and then see them during the day at school. He is such a social child (are you surprised?)
So, how did you (out there in bloggy land) pick your child's first school and was it a big decision? What factors were considered? Any regrets, tips or suggestions?