What I Love About Jacksonville

To be perfectly open, I still have quite a few days when I look around and think, "why the heck are we living in Jacksonville?" Of course the answer is a really good one (Michael's job is here) but still, if I let myself, I can get pretty down about living here. I could give you a many number of reasons why I feel this way, however, the point of this post is not to dwell on those reasons, but instead to list all of the good things this city has to offer. Although I cringe using "love" and "Jacksonville" in the same sentence, there really are some pluses to living here. So, in my resolve to be more content this year, this is me dwelling on the positives! 

1. It has a pretty great food scene. Really delicious donuts at Sweet Theory, wonderful baked goods and eats at Community Loaves, some incredible restaurants such as Orsay. Oh, and several locally owned cool coffee shops. St. Pete kinda needs to step it up and give Kahwah a run for it's money.


2. There are seasons here! In springtime, there are beautiful blossoming trees everywhere that I'd never seen before living in Jacksonville. In the fall, leaves turn colors. And it gets cold here. Like, really cold. But the summers are just as hot as any.

3. Everything is really spread out, which may seem like a negative (and sometimes it is) but the bright side is that it has taught me that it really isn't a big deal to drive 30 minutes. Living in St. Pete, everyone talks of driving to Tampa as if you're driving to the ends of the earth, when in reality it is less than a half hour. Here, just about everything and everyone is 30 minutes away, so I've gotten used to it. 

4. There are a lot of parks and nature-y things to see here. Washington Oaks State Park isn't too far, Big Talbot is really neat to visit, and there are many more places nearby that I've heard of which are on my list to see. Also, the Jacksonville Zoo is very nice! Never thought I'd say that about a zoo.

5. Adding on to that, there seem to be so many places to choose from when selecting a location for a photo session. As a photographer, obviously that's a big plus for me!

6. Jacksonville is close to a lot of other places. For example, charming Savannah, Georgia is only 2 hours away. Charleston is a bit further at 4 hours, but still pretty close! St. Augustine is 45 minutes away, which we visit on the occasional date night. Also, being so close to Georgia, we can go blueberry picking in the summertime! Another great advantage of living here is that we live less than six hours from Michael's side of the family. If we were living in St. Petersburg still, I know we would see them a lot less, so I feel grateful for how easy a trip is between us and my in-laws.

Lastly, I feel I can't end a list of what I love about Jacksonville without mentioning that we have met some wonderful people here who have become dear friends. Any place seems dull and empty without people to love and share life with.

Charlie Lately no. 2

Charlie is growing up before our very eyes and we want to freeze him exactly how he is right now (minus the recent bought of sleepless nights and skipped naps). It has been a while since I've written down all that he is doing and it had also been a while since I unloaded pictures from my camera. So here are some cute little peaks of him playing in blankets and laying on pillows - his favorite thing!  

 

There is a lot I want to remember about him right now, so this is a rather extensive list. If you're not a grandparent reading, feel free to skip : )
 

Charlie, Age 22 months

  • He asks us to sing for nap time and bed time
     
  • Points out ovals and circles all around town (he knows all of his shapes! he'll see the moon and say "half-circle!")
     
  • Loves flowers and insists on smelling and holding one when he sees it
     
  • Calls carrots “honey” for some reason (my theory is that honey rhymes with bunny and bunnies eat carrots, as he sees in one of his books)
     
  • Opens the refrigerator and looks for things he wants to eat
     
  • Climbs up into his highchair on his own (has been doing this for several months)
     
  • Loves watching Curious George
     
  • His favorite book is “My ABC of God Loves Me” and he even asks us to read it to him in the middle of the night
     
  • Tries counting and often recites numbers in correct order; he counts objects, “one ball, two balls!”
     
  • Sings most of the ABC song correctly
     
  • Asks to go visit our next door neighbors Robert and Virginia (he says “Robert” and “Ginia”)
     
  • Loves playing in the courtyard, digging in the dirt, kicking a ball, but mostly just finding acorns and dropping them through the grate of the storm drain
     
  • He gets his shoes out of his room and asks to go outside
     
  • Sleeps really deeply during his naps which means I can finally let him fall asleep in the car and transfer him to his crib successfully
     
  • Is talking so much I can’t even keep up with a list of all he says
     
  • Is putting words together, such as “Mommy’s shoes," “Daddy’s coffee,” "Found it!," and "Where are you?"
     
  • Often asks for his Grammie and Pop Pop and his Nona and Papa. He’ll say their names and then ask to “see them?” Breaks my heart!
     
  • Holds out his hand for ours and says “hand” and then leads us wherever it is he is wanting to go
     
  • Enjoys eating tomatoes, eggs, yogurt, and pickles & enjoys drinking smoothies and coconut water

Day Trip to Washington Oaks State Park

Earlier this summer, our family of three took a trip to Washington Oaks State Park. It is an easy one and a half hour drive from where we live. Two very different worlds seem to meet in Washington Oaks. In one area there are grand, swooping oak trees with moss dangling from the branches and meadowy patches of grass. Then, not far from there is the beach, speckled with coquina rocks and little pools of water. I'd love to venture back to this place when the coolness of autumn sets in.