I am currently writing to you from Florida though I will be back in wintry Michigan by the time you’re reading this. We loved kicking off the New Year here in Estero! I am happy to report that I’ve checked off item #20 on my bucket list: Entertain friends and family in our Florida home. I hope this is just the beginning of many more wonderful times shared together with our family and friends here in sunny Florida. We gifted our children and their spouse/significant other with a trip down here as part of their Christmas present. They all stayed at our home in Belleville overnight so we could make a 6am flight on December 31st. That left us pretty tired for ringing in the New Year that same evening but we managed. Our clubhouse had a ticketed event with the popular theme of Roaring into the 20’s. We all dressed as flappers and gangsters. We didn’t quite make it to midnight though and ended up heading home a half hour before the clock struck 12 where we rang in the New Year in our jammies. It was a lot of fun.
I will share a few of our activities in case you are ever in the Estero/Naples area. We hit the Miramar Outlet Mall which is maybe 10 minutes from our house. It is a very pleasant little outdoor mall with a lot of great shopping options, like Kate Spade, Vineyard Vines, Ann Taylor, Loft, Banana Republic and more. The next day, we did a little shopping in Naples, stopping to dine al fresco at Barbatella’s, a cute little Italian place which served the best Caesar salad I’ve ever had. Then we headed over to Naples Beach, which was crowded, but not unmanageably so. We ended the day with ice cream. We enjoyed walking around old Naples and the newer areas of Naples. We still have so much to learn and discover here and I am very much looking forward to it! The kids took a day trip to Universal Studios which was about a 3 hour drive each way. They loved the new Harry Potter ride, Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, despite the long wait in line. On their arrival, the wait time for this ride was over 6 hours. They managed to get in line later when it was a “measly” 2 1/2 hour wait. They said it was worth it. While they were busy having fun, we ran errands and met our dear friends for dinner at Cirella’s Italian Bistro and Sushi Bar (IKR? Italian AND sushi!) topped off with liquor infused ice cream (say what?!) from the Tipsy Cow. This little shop had super cute branding and the ice cream was yummy. They also had a non-alcohol option. It’s something we will definitely do again!
We also enjoyed having Mike’s mom over for a nice visit. She came bringing Mike’s favorite home-made cookies, which of course were a big hit. We brought her out to lunch and the kids had fun quizzing their Grandma on what kind of child their dad was: a good one, much to their dismay.
Mike’s thoughtful team gifted us a Tiki cruise departing out of Naples. I can not recommend this enough! It was one of the most memorable parts of our trip. The limit is 6 attendees so we were a perfect group. We elected to do the sunset cruise departing at 4:30. We boated past fabulous multi-million dollar homes while enjoying a cocktail or two. It is BYOB and we brought a nice selection with us. Captain Steve was experienced and an enjoyable narrator. The highlight of the trip though was spotting a couple of dolphins just swimming around. We were able to follow them for a bit. It was relaxing and enjoyable. We followed that with dinner at Watermark Grill which was also very good!
In other activities, the guys got in some golfing and we ladies did some shopping. We enjoyed spending time with our long-time friends who started the ball rolling by building down here in the first place. We squeezed in a few work outs at our amenity center and Mike and the kids enjoyed laying by the pool. All in all it’s been a fabulous time. We’ll be back in wintry Michigan soon enough though.
Here is a link to my original bucket list, if you want to have a peek. As far as item # 16: decorating our Florida home, our sectional was thankfully delivered the day of our arrival, along with our den desk and side tables. We are still awaiting our barstools which will be delivered on our next trip down. Mike and I also bought table lamps for our living room and our bedroom. The last layer of decor will be fabric selections for the all of the bedroom and bathroom curtains. I have an appointment with our awesome designer, Janet set up to select fabrics on our next trip down. We will need paintings, decor, and outdoor furniture for the lanai, once the pool is complete, which will hopefully be sometime during our next visit. It seems to go quickly once they begin each phase. They laid our patio pavers in one day while we’ve been here. Next up is the cage and gunite for the pool and hot tub. I am really looking forward to utilizing the outdoor area!
Moving on to other bucket list items, my year-end wrap up on reading for 2019 amounted to 72 books, which totaled 27,143 pages. Of the books I read, Goodreads rated the most popular at The Great Alone, which I also highly recommend. The highest rated book that I read was The Hate U Give. I exceeded my goal of 50 books by 22 books. I hope to have more time to read in 2020 so my goal will be 80 books. I am currently reading my first book of the year, The Guardian by John Grisham. I hope to finish it on the plane.
I am still on track with Duolingo. My streak is 872 days, I learned 10,301 words, completed 2,943 lessons and spent 197 hours on the app this year. I will be starting private lessons via Facebook live after the holidays through Alliance De Francais as I will be spending a lot more time in Florida and unable to regularly attend classes.
The unfortunate topper to our trip was a calf injury my husband Mike sustained while playing pickleball just hours before our scheduled departure. My son-in-law made a quick trip to CVS for crutches and with a little help from ice, an ace bandage and a wheelchair, we managed to catch our 9pm flight. I am still working on convincing him to go to the doctors but at this moment on Monday morning the man has hopped off to work with a swollen ankle and the inability to bear weight on it. I am working covertly with his amazing office manager Cathy to get him to go to Urgent Care at the very least. Not the best way to end our trip, but certainly a memorable one.
On to happier things, aside from my reading and language goals, I am still thinking over what I want to accomplish in 2020 and that is where I will leave it for now. So far my “lesson” has been to expect the unexpected! Happy New Year all! I hope the coming year brings new goals, new insights and amazing opportunities for growth and happiness to you all.