Thursday, January 28, 2010

Olivia's First Haircut

Livvy's hair is getting long and she refuses to wear a ponytail or barrette or anything. I finally broke down and cut her bangs. It was a big day for us and made me a little sad.

Before:





After:


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Lovely Atlantic

Since I arrived in Daytona Beach, I could hear the sea calling to me. I’ve had so much to do with cleaning and unpacking that I had to ignore it but on Sunday afternoon, the siren finally lured me in and Gabe and I headed to the coast. We skipped the main beach in Daytona because the crowd there is not our speed and opted for the very lovely, more upscale town of Ormond Beach. We headed across the river over the bridge on Granada and turned north, away from Daytona on Atlantic Ave. We turned right on Neptune and found some empty beach parking with access to the shore. We loaded up the baby and padded down the ramp. I could smell the salty air and my heart pounded a little at the sound of the gulls and the waves. We stepped off the cement ramp onto fine, red sand. It was very soft and the wind was able to whip it around a little, making beautiful patterns and skiffs. Unlike the barren, rocky nature of the Pacific beaches, this beach had vegetation growing right up out of the sand. Houses that line the beach have back yards green with sea grass and reeds and their extensive wood decks reach almost to the water because they can; there’s no violent tide reaching up to try to wash them away.

I could hear that the waves were different from my beloved Pacific ones even before I had a chance to take a good look at them. Rather than crashing to the shore, furiously trying to drag some of the land back with them, these waves broke several hundred yards from the shore and rolled in gently, greeting the sand like and old friend. The water calmly spread across the sand, forming little pools of fairly warm water that Livvy liked to splash in and then carefully slid back to sea, leaving everything on the shore the way it was before. It was like a courteous tea party between the sea and the shore, at the end of which the sea kindly left a parting gift, a jelly fish or a pretty shell, before heading back home for an afternoon nap. Comparatively, a Pacific wave seems like a police raid where the door is broken down with a battering ram and the wave hastily overturns every item of furniture until it seizes whatever it was looking for and heads back to the station, deserting the shore before it’s had time to clean up or even hear any complaints.

I stopped for a minute to stare out at some “surfers” easily navigating the calm water and could tell that there was something else different. The horizon seemed closer to me than I was use to. I thought a minute, trying to figure it out and decided that it’s because the waves break so far out, the shore feels closer to the horizon. That coupled with the balmy air gave me the feeling that I was safer and less exposed to the elements. It was a stark contrast to the wild, untamed feeling I get from the Pacific coast. There, the sharp wind nips at my face, warning me not to go out too far and the ocean is a huge, vast landscape that leaves me feeling insignificant and a little reckless.

When we were ready to go home, Gabe headed back to the car with the baby a little ahead of me and I stood alone in the quiet for a minute, the only person on the shore for as far as I could see. I could feel the history of the place with the historic houses with their huge decks and balconies behind me and I knew that so many people had stood there before me. I could almost see an aristocratic woman from the 1800s standing there next to me, with her big veiled hat and her petticoats reaching all the way to the sand, spending a summer on the shore in a weak attempt to escape the stifling, heavy heat of the East Coast.

I could go on and on but I’m sure you’ve had enough and Olivia wants me to put her tutu on so… back to life. I hope you like the pics and I hope they can give you some sense of how clashingly different the two coasts are; the one that I’ve loved all my life and the one I’ve loved for about 2 hours.
Livvy had fun, as always:



Some long views of the beach:

Take a closer look at these pics and you'll see that the sand here has huge swaths of red. That's because a lot of it is made from cocina shells:

Here are a few of the houses that line the beach that I really loved. These are their back sides:

This one's my favorite and it's for sale, only $1.2 mil.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Home Sweet Home



This part of Florida is very beautiful. The mainland and beach are separated by the Halifax river and a coastal strand called the "beach side" which means this town has two water fronts: a beach front and a river front. There is wild life everywhere and the vegetation grows wild, uncontolled and GREEN. Daytona Beach is certainly not what I expected. The West Coast perception of "The World's Most Famous Beach" is a coastal party town full of Nascar fans and girls in bikinis. I was a little nervous that it would be too much for me to handle compared to the laid back Pacific Beach, but my concerns were for naught. There are no people in Daytona Beach. No rednecks, no bikini girls. No night life, no day life... no signs of life. I tell you, it is the strangest town. There are hotels, gift shops and restaurants everywhere, but they're all closed down. Everyone is out of business and all of the buildings are for sale. The entire county, as far as I can tell is totally run down for the most part. Everything is dirty and in disrepair and the only industry that seems to be thriving are the thrift shops. The beach front property is the worst part of town, drug ridden and full of prostitutes. The nice homes in town are on the main land on the river front and even those need some serious love. I'd say at least one in four homes along the river are empty and for sale. I can see that this town has been hit very hard by the slow economy and I'm just praying that we can find jobs here to get us through Gabe's school; it's not looking too promising. It's a shame because it's such a beautiful area and the town has so much history and tons of potential. I just wish I had a bajillion dollars so I could fix it up.

After a little drama, Gabe and I were able to find a cute little house just north of Daytona Beach. It was FILTHY when we moved in but beggars can't be chosers so we cleaned for days and finally got unpacked. Click on the link below for a virtual tour of our new digs:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OXgnt2rCQ-4

More Daytona info and stories to come in the very near future.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

FL Blues

Getting settled into Daytona has taken a lot longer than I anticipated. I feel like I haven't had time for anything lately except cleaning, cleaning and cleaning. Olivia is starting to get use to her new surroundings though, which is nice. She has been so stressed out since we left her cousins that she threw her first public temper tantrum a few days ago. Yesterday she was much more calm though and I was able to take her to the park and to Toddler Time at the library. I have my fingers crossed for a good day today too.
We're so glad we had a little time in uT before we headed out here. It gave us the chance to catch up with some old friends and gave Olivia a chance to spend some time with her cousins who she LOVES! She was so happy there. Here are some pics from Livvy's "salad days."