2016-What a Blur!!
Better sit down, this is a crazy letter. To start the year off, we returned from a week-long trip to New Orleans on Jan. 1st. Later in Jan, Todd joined some friends for 2 days of a bike trip from Jax Bch to Pensacola. He detoured at Gainesville to catch a UF basketball game and conduct a meeting for one of his many startup companies he’s involved with.
In Feb we spent a weekend at a B&B in Cedar Key for a belated Bday present. We also spent our 6th anniversary in Orlando where I had my annual company banquet. At the end of Feb, Todd left for an 11 day trip to Haiti as part of his UF Masters in Entrepreneurship Program.
Todd returned from Haiti in March and then shortly afterwards headed to PA where he bought a car. On his drive to NC, he stopped in DC to catch an ACC Basketball Tournament game and a visit with his buddy Steve. Then he did some research in College Park, MD on his Grandfather’s WWII records. Then he went on to NC and picked Bayley and I up from the Train Station for a few days visit with friends and family. Todd completed an initial memoir on his Grandfather’s WWII journey on March 23rd in honor of what would have been his 100th Bday (Todd also shares his birthdate).
In April, my cousin Sandra joined us for a trip to New Orleans where we ate lots and initiated her and Bayley to Jazz Fest. Fun time by all. We also explored the WWII Museum, the Market, and Jackson Square.
In May, Todd’s Parents celebrated their 50th Anniversary by taking us and Crawford and NancyAnne to a week-long all-inclusive trip to Cancun. Although it was hot, we had a fabulous time. We visited Tulum, Chitin Itza, swam with dolphins (even Bayley liked the dolphins until they tried to kiss her cheek). Todd and I also tried our hand at Fly Boarding-what a rush to be boosted about 20’ in the air. We also enjoyed the beach, pool, and lots of food. Special Smith Family memories to cherish.
After a short stop home, Todd embarked on a 7 week trip to S. Africa with UF. After landing in Johannesburg, he took a few days drive through the country ending up in Cape Town for class and working with local businesses as part of his Master’s Program. While working with small businesses is a passion of Todd’s, community living and group projects with a bunch of 20 year olds is not. He did swim with great white sharks and see where Nelson Mandela was born (Eastern Cape) and was imprisoned for many years (Robben Island).
To break up my “7 week single parent stint”, Bayley and I went to Sapphire, NC with my folks and stayed at the “trip house” as Bayley calls it. We explored many waterfalls and picnicked, went swimming and played many rounds of Bayley style mini golf. Pop-Pop actually thought he was going to play 18 holes of “real” mini golf with a 3 year old-fooled him as she had played by her own version of the rules. My brother, Claire, Harper, and Charlie joined us for a few days, and we had lots of fun exploring with them. One thing I learned during Todd’s absence is that I found a new appreciation for single parents but also realized I’m not cut out to be one. Wow, it’s exhausting!
We celebrated Bayley’s 3rd birthday at the end of the month when Papa returned from S. Africa. She had a “Dora the Explorer” party at the park/splash fountain with some of her school friends and family.
In Aug, we took a trip to Ft. Lauderdale where we “surprised” my dad with a 70th bday party (about 10 days after his bday). It was great to honor my dad and surround him with about 40 friends and family. He deserves it for all he’s done over the years for his friends, family, and church. Thanks to Grammie (who was a dancer and is still involved today), Bayley started a “Creative Kids” dance class (mix of tap and ballet). She loves it!! She is always dancing around the house and even making us do her dance moves. Through it we have become friends with two girls in her class and their parents (Aubrey, who’s also her little BFF in school, and Tinsley). At end the month, Todd scored seats on the 1st commercial flight to Cuba in over 50 years where he had an action packed couple of days sightseeing in Santa Clara. He was in Havana before through a Master’s Program with Thunderbird.
To round out Labor Day Weekend with a visit with Mimi and Pop-Pop, I attended the FSU/Ole Miss game in Orlando with my buddy Chris (fellow alum), and what a comeback game it was. The season stared out with a promise, but… Later that month, we spent a weekend in Santee with Grammie and Grampie where we enjoyed an afternoon on a Pontoon boat which Bayley helped Papa drive.
In Oct, Todd had to cancel a trip to Boston for a visit to Harvard and to catch a Clemson game (poor Todd) as we took an unexpected trip to Troy, AL with a 3 year old and 14 year old dog, courtesy of Hurricane Matthew. We were fortunate to return home with only tons of tree debris to clean up. However, my house in Palm Coast and Todd’s house on Black Hammock Island were not so lucky, and we’re still dealing with the repairs.
Todd was still able to attend his annual Crowd Funding conference in Vegas. He even scored a ticket to see Jimmy Buffet in concert. He’s good at being in the right place at the right timeJ. We also spent the weekend in Panama City with plans to go to the FSU/Clemson game, but then decided to just watch it at our timeshare. We made it back in time to Trick or Treat with our little mermaid, 2 Elsas, and an Olaf (oh yea, the parents too!).
In Nov, we went back to the trip house to see the Clemson/Pitt game. We jinxed the Tigers by attending the game as they suffered their only season loss. However, Bayley became enthralled with the cheerleaders and now mixes her dance with cheerleading moves at home. Later that month, we enjoyed a quiet Thanksgiving dinner with Mimi and Pop Pop, but made for it the next day when my car died while Mimi, Pop Pop, and Bayley were returning from a day at the Zoo and seeing the Anheuser Bush Clydesdales.
December started with Todd and I having our first date in over 3 years–Thanks Aunt Tammy! We went to the ACC Championship game in Orlando where Clemson prevailed. Ok, so not the most romantical date, but it was a date. The following week, Todd headed to Turks and Caicos for business (rough I know). Later in Dec, we spent a fun night at Zoolights with our “Bayley Friends”. Before leaving for NC for the holidays, Bayley got to experience her 1st “school bus” field trip where the 3 and 4 year olds went to sing Christmas songs at Pablo Towers (retirement home) for a the “grandmas and grandpas to put a smile on their face”. Then they took the bus to Chick-fil-a for lunch. It’s hard to know what was here favorite (bus, singing, chick-fil-a). We spent a few days with family and friends in NC, and this was the first year that Bayley seemed excited about Christmas. She was most excited that Santa brought her “pink pom poms” (I know, who would’ve thought. My kid-a dancer/cheerleader who loves pink. Can’t win them all!).
We will round out the year with a belated Christmas with Mimi, Pop Pop, Aunt Tammy, and Uncle Chris as we watch football and celebrate the New Year. Florida State managed to squeak out the Bowl game so now it’s Clemson’s turn. As the “Good Wife” I am, I’ll be rooting for Clemson.
So, are you tired of the “trip” you took just reading this letter? I am just thinking about all that we did in 2016 and can’t even imagine 2017 can top it. I’m looking forward to a quieter 2017, but I doubt that’s possible since I’m married to the “Adventurer”. When you vote for the “Top 2016”, vote Debra for “Best Wife 2016”. I love you honey! J
We hope you all have a safe and wonderful 2017!!
Debra, Todd, Bayley, and Jazz too.