Mama Rapin In The House

Like, my house. My mom. In my house.

Pretty much the best thing ever to happen to Florida happened last week: my mom came to visit. Sweet little Mama Rapin hopped off a plane late Tuesday night to finally see what my new life is like, and it was pretty much the only thing I ever could have asked for. Homesickness is not all it’s cracked up to be.

I think I’ve mentioned before that one of the weirdest things about moving across the country is that I still chat with my friends and family all the time, BUT… I can talk and talk and talk and tell them that I went here and I hung out there and I saw this person and I went to the market and yoga and the weather is hot and know one really knows what I’m talking about. Even when I say I’m in my kitchen or about to go to bed or I’m sitting on the couch watching Orange is the New Black, they can’t possibly picture it. I can only describe so far, and it feels very lonely. 

So believe me when I say I was a whole mess of excitement and nerves and energy as I scrambled around our new house unpacking the last few boxes, finishing the guest room, and making sure everything was better than perfect. If I’m going to live this far away, I was determined to make Mom’s stay as nice as possible to ensure that she will want to come back quite frequently. I started a list of things to do weeks in advance, since she and I would be exploring together. I ran to Publix to get her Honey Maid cinnamon graham crackers for breakfast, her favorite Cheddar Munchies for the car, and her Chips Ahoy for a late night snack. I was determined to give her a great vacation and was seriously worried about everything. She had to love it here.

Well, she did. And there was no need for me to freak out. Obviously.

In fact, I can’t think of a time that my mom and I haven’t had best days ever when visiting each other. It just kind of happens. So let me let you into my world a little bit, just like I did for my mom touring her around Florida.

Here is our airport, and here is my mom being a great mom with a priceless face.

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I wasn’t the only one excited to see her.IMG_6329

The first day she was here, I took her down to Fort Myers Beach, which is about 10-15 minutes from my house. Since I was in awe the first time I put my feet into the warm bath waters of the Gulf of Mexico, I knew she would be too.IMG_6328

Bill had time for a nice dinner with us, so I also showed her the sunset from our little downtown River District, which overlooks the Caloosahatchee River and the bridges to Cape Coral and North Fort Myers. Although this area seems to be pretty dead in terms of people out and about, the view is always alive and well.
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One of the biggest planned events we had in mind was a trip down to Naples, which is one of the wealthiest resort and retirement communities in Florida. We, of course, were going all the way to Naples to get in a workout, as you can see below. If you’re wearing your brand new Fitbit, it’s not shopping… It’s exercise.IMG_63320

After so much exertion, we had to stop to recharge. Brio in the Waterside Shops offered tasty flatbread for Mom and a salmon salad for me off of their – wait for it – gluten-free menu. I have to admit, we mistakenly thought that we were a little beneath this place, but the great food was matched with the most welcoming service, and Naples demolished any uppity stereotype we might have brought along for the ride.IMG_6324

Well, except for the stereotype that we were going to be tempted to spend a shit-ton of money. Anthropologie was the demon of the day, gladly draining of us the most time and money. Why the photo of the multi-colored dish towels below? Because I’m a ninja, that’s why. My mom had pointed out that she had always wanted these but would never buy them for herself, and with one set left I wasn’t about to let a prime gift-giving opportunity pass me by. Let’s just say that I felt compelled to go up to the sales girl at the register to explain that she relay the message that the shiesty girl performing covert moves on the security camera was not, in fact, stealing their merchandise. Rather, she was simply buying surprise kitchen paraphernalia for her adorable little mom innocently studying a sweater to the left of the cashwrap.IMG_6323

Friday was a bit more relaxing, and it gave my mom a chance to familiarize me with the gallons of essential oils she brought. She has found her calling healing people through Young Living, and it makes her so happy to help everyone (including her daughter) with all that she has learned.IMG_6306

That afternoon we headed off to the Gulf Coast Town Center, and I took her to HomeGoods for the first time ever (for shame!). We then lazily retired to the lanai to watch the sudden downpour from the safety of a covered patio.IMG_6326

But the highlight of this day was by far the best example of just exactly how my mother and I roll. Before heading home we stopped at Grace and Shelly’s Cupcakes (and mayyyyybe Saks Fifth Avenue) at our funky little Bell Tower Shops for a sweet treat. Of course we couldn’t decide on a flavor (although the decision for me to cheat on my eating habits was easy), so we came home with twelve minis to split while parked on the couch watching HGTV. No, we didn’t eat them all in one sitting, but we might have in three.IMG_6242

Saturday was a big day, since Bill was finally off work to hang out with us. My mom couldn’t wait to go to Sanibel and spend more time at the beach, so we got going as quickly as we could. But before we could take off, I had to marinate the london broil for dinner that night, and I was caught in a rare poised moment that might fool you into thinking I have it together…
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…only to set the record straight immediately. I wouldn’t dare cook my mother a meal without making sure all the ingredients are of the highest quality and up to strict standards. Including the wine.IMG_6321

After all of that red meat marinating, we all realized we were starving. When our original plan of Sanibel’s Doc Ford’s Rum Bar and Grille fell through with a sign on the front door declaring they were closed for lunch (the nerve), we headed to Captiva Island toward the highly recommended Bubble Room. Best change of plans ever. This place is a must-see.IMG_6315

The outside was a candy-colored explosion, which made my rainbow-loving mom beyond happy.IMG_6319

The inside wasn’t any less bizarre, with five dining rooms draped in Christmas lights, chandeliers, antiques, toys, and animatronics. Not to mention that my honey and pineapple-glazed salmon was delicious.IMG_6318

With full tummies, it was on to the main event of the day: shell-hunting on Sanibel. Knowing my mom would squeal with joy (at least on the inside) at the mounds of seashells piling the shores, I was looking forward showing her how gorgeous our new home in Florida could be.
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Don’t mind the overdue pedicure.
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I was right, of course, that my mom would truly appreciate the area. With her inner peace on overdrive, I think I may have convinced her to move…IMG_6310

And if I actually hadn’t persuaded her already, I think I may have hammered it home with views of the working lighthouse from the white sand beaches at the end of the island.IMG_6308

And so we headed back home, where Bill blended up some piña coladas…

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I whipped up a little dinner…IMG_6341

And Mom ended her little vacation with a fruity drink with an umbrella in it, as promised.IMG_6343

We went to bed happy for the days we got to spend together, but sad for the goodbyes of the next morning. Mom finally got to see my new world, which surprisingly makes it easier to be here knowing that someone understands what I mean when I talk about my daily life. It makes everything a little more real, a little more doable, and little more like… home. 

Just a little. But that’s something.

❤️ On The Inside ❤️

“Call your mother and tell her you love her… After all, you are the only one who knows what her heart sounds like on the inside.” – Unknown, borrowed from Lorna Jane

It’s Mother’s Day! I personally love love love this day, since the only reason it exists is to celebrate the most important woman in anyone’s life – their mama. I could gush on and on and on about how much I owe my mom, for all the times she fed me her famous teriyaki flank steak, rushed me to the emergency room (more than once) for horrifying accidents, brought me one of my favorite teddy bears back from her longest trip, cried when we finally found the perfect wedding dress, or dropped everything and took care of me for an entire week after my eye surgery. Oh yeah, or that she is always there and the first person I call anytime anything happens to me, whether I got a new job or degree or fiancé… or there’s a giant bug in the house and Bill’s not home. She listens when I need her to. She offers the best advice: “Here’s what you do. You pour yourself a glass of wine and contemplate the state of your affairs.” She is my biggest fan, whether on the soccer field or the stage or even this silly blog.

I could tell you all of that, but instead, I’ll just tell her this:

Mama, I love you so much. You mean the world to me. I don’t know who or what or where I would be without you. So thank you, from the bottom of my heart – and the inside of yours.

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So while today is about celebrating my mama, I also know quite a few other incredible mamas who deserve shout-outs today! Here is my list of inspiring moms who I admire, cherish, and celebrate on a day like today.

First, my fabulous beyond belief grandmother Mary-Ellen Martin, with her amazing sense of humor, her wealth of stories, and her passion for life!

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Nanny, my paternal grandmother, who taught me what it means to truly enjoy family through home-cooked meals, piano lessons, fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies, evening card games, the Price is Right, and being the best babysitter EVER!

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Sue, my sent-from-heaven step-mom with her contagious laugh, her gourmet food, her light spirit, her designer jeans, and a bigger heart than any woman I have ever met… How is it that someone you’ve just met can instantly feel like family? It’s hard to believe it’s been 8 years since she danced her way into our lives!

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If there is one bet I will always make, it’s that I am the luckiest girl with the best mother-in-law. Nancy Halter has welcomed me in to her, her son’ life, and her one-of-a-kind family with the most open arms. Without her kind words, warm heart, and Minnesota recipes, my life would be a lot less cozy.

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My sister Jessica, who stole my heart from the beginning. I want to bake with her, run with her, watch zombie movies with her, drink wine with her, and laugh with her every single day of my life. Not to mention she’s responsible for bringing my nephew Tyler into this world… A huge piece of my heart lives in San Diego on a permanent basis.20140511-081311.jpg

And where would I be without JJ, my matron-of-honor? As one of the bravest, smartest, and – let’s face it – hottest women I know, it has been such an honor to have her by my side on big days and small days, wedding days and every days. I am so grateful for her friendship, her openness, her advice, and her love, and for one of the most amazing experiences in my life holding Audrey less than 24 hours after her birth. And if anyone doubts JJ for a second, you better believe that while I was holding that brand new baby, she said, “It really wasn’t that bad! Let’s do it again!” when I asked her about childbirth. She is one bad-ass woman.

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These women are my biggest sources of inspiration, today and every day. They remind me what is really important, they teach me the true meaning of love, they hold me up when I can’t do it on my own, and they brighten my existence. Seeing the lives these women lead inspires me in every way, and they make it hard to wait until I can join their ranks. Until then though, I will reap their rewards and share in their joy, one little one at a time.

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Don’t we look good together? Audrey, you slay me.

xo