TBT: Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall

Last year the Disabled American Veterans sponsored the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall in Lady Lake for three days. The purpose of the traveling exhibit is to allow people to pay tribute to those who sacrificed their lives during the Vietnam War in locations near their home. With over 20,000 veterans living nearby in The Villages, Lady Lake is a popular location for this exhibit.


The Traveling Wall is a 3/5 scale of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C., standing six feet tall at the midpoint and stretching almost 300 feet from end to end. We were among the thousands of people who took time to visit during its stay in Lady Lake last November. Just as in D.C., volunteers assisted visitors in locating the names of family and friends listed on the panels of the wall so they could pay their respects.


Flags, flowers, pictures, letters, and other mementos lined the base of the wall by the third day when we visited, many providing stories of those lost so many years ago.


The Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall is making another stop in north central Florida this weekend, this time in Dunnellon. It will be located at Ernie Mills Park, 11899 Bostick Street, arriving today and on display until October 2nd. Don’t miss it!

Weeki Wachee: Minus the Mermaids

In the summer of 2014, we set out to visit as many of Florida’s springs as possible. So of course, we took a trip to Weeki Wachee Springs State Park. We planned to canoe down the river starting at the park, but we found that even on a weekday, it wasn’t possible to rent a boat for a paddle without a very early start.


Since all canoes and kayaks were rented when we arrived (at about 10:00), we decided to do the next best thing and go in the park to see what the mermaid show was all about. Our verdict: not much! The bubbles between performances were more entertaining than the mermaids, not only for us, but for the children in the audience as well.

We walked around the park, watched the peacocks wandering, and took a few pictures. We decided to pass on the water park…too crowded and not really our idea of a good time anyhow. However, we decided we would definitely return so we could paddle down the river.


So last month, a couple of weeks after school started, we got up at sunrise and drove to the park. We were certainly there early enough renting one of the first canoes of the day, and I’m so glad we were turned away on our first trip.

Without a doubt, this paddle qualifies as my favorite of all time. The water was absolutely beautiful. The color, the clarity, the fish, the quiet…perfect. There’s no way we would have had the same experience on that July day two years ago paddling and dodging other boats.

Upon our return to the rental facility, we were asked if we saw any manatee in the run. Apparently, they had been making regular appearances. No, manatee. Only otters. This brought oohs and aahs from the staff since it’s unusual to spot otters on the river. We not only spotted them, but watched them dart in and out of the brush along the bank between their sliding through the crystal clear water.


My first impression of Weeki Wachi Springs State Park: This isn’t anything. My impression this time: We’ll return so we can spend more time paddling on the river. I much prefer the otters to the mermaids!

Choose a Name Carefully

A couple of weeks ago I listened to a story on the radio about the number of parents who regret the name they’ve given their child. Sources cited indicate that between 11% and 18% of parents are unhappy with their choice of a name and that 4% of parents actually change the name of their child.


At first I thought four percent seemed too high, but what’s considered a name change isn’t exactly what I was thinking…lawyers, legal documents, court decrees. Instead, using a nickname, a middle name, or initials was considered a name change as well. That still seems like a lot of name regret.

So what causes name regret? Names that are difficult to pronounce, very unusual, too common, or just don’t fit the personality of the child. Mothers that were interviewed expressed doubts about the names they’d bestowed on their offspring: a boy named Harper (in the top 20 names for girls), Zoey (a top 10 name for dogs), Evelia (a name hated by the child as she tries to teach others to pronounce it), Andrew (didn’t fit the child that looked like his dad Vinny), Danielle (too popular), Tennessee (too different).

I know I gave my brother and sister-in-law a hard time about not naming their youngest son immediately. After all, they’d had nine months to figure this out, but they were looking for the name that fit. They wanted to meet him before assigning a name, and it was a smart move…no regrets.

So after all this discussion about names, it’s not baby names that I’m really concerned about. It’s grandparent names. For seven months I’ve been tasked with coming up with a new name for myself. I know Grandma was the first choice, but as far as I’m concerned that name has already been taken. My Mom IS Grandma, and as a child, I had a Grandma and two Great-Grandmas. That name doesn’t fit. Granny doesn’t fit either. John’s Mom WAS Granny, and I had a Granny and two great grandmothers I called Granny, so that name has been taken as well. I needed to come up with a name that’s me.

Others have given advice:

Make sure you think about how the name will sound when your grandchildren are teenagers or adults. The cute name a baby calls you may not sound as cute when uttered from a six foot, two inch man.

Make sure your grandchildren call you GG. It stands for Gorgeous Grandmother. It’s perfect, and don’t answer to any other name.

Don’t worry about choosing a name. Let your grandchildren call you whatever they choose. It’s more meaningful.

Have fun! Be creative!

Well after all these months and trying out Nana, Mimi, Oma, and many others from the lists of grandparent names available online. I’ve decided on DeeDee…it’s a name on the grandparent name lists. It’s not that creative, but it’s me. I’ll recognize my name right away. And when I hear children calling Grandma or Granny I won’t be looking around for someone else like a fool.

DeeDee, Emily and Grace, Grandma
DeeDee, Emily and Grace, Grandma

Yes, I’ve heard DeeDee is a crazy character on Modern Family, and I’ve been told it may sound too much like I’m just being called by my name. But, that’s ok. DeeDee is who I am, and best of all, if I have naming regrets in a month or year…I can just change it!

Names are important so choose a name carefully.





Happy National Public Lands Day! As a way to explore our parks and other public lands, Adventure Cycling Association encouraged cyclists to get outdoors and go for a ride. Cyclists were encourage to ride in a national or state park, monument, or historic site, river, seashore, recreation area, preserve, forest, wildlife refuge, or parkway.
Last year on this date we were riding on the carriage roads in Acadia National Park, but this year we’re staying close to home (actually close to Orlando) as we await the arrival of Grace, our first granddaughter.

This didn’t stop us from participating in the Bike Your Park Event. We just rode the West Orange Trail, one of our favorites. And since we were riding on a Saturday, something we rarely do, we were able to enjoy Winter Garden’s Farmer’s Market.

We also enjoyed stopping in their Visitor’s Center where we purchased some orange juicers like the ones we enjoyed as children and picked up information on Winter Garden’s upcoming music festival. Looks like we may be able to take advantage of this event the weekend of October 7-9 on a future visit with Grace. (I’m sure she’ll be here by then…right?)

My Fitbit is Making me Fat!

After losing nearly thirty pounds in 2013, I enrolled in a class called Fit for Life to maintain my weight loss and to hopefully lose a few pounds that had creeped back. The class included free membership to an exercise facility, group and individual sessions on nutrition, a food scale and a Fitbit.

It's hard to find a picture of me when I'm not wearing my Fitbit.
It’s hard to find a picture of me when I’m not wearing my Fitbit.

I completed the first twelve week session and then moved on to the second continuing with exercise, nutrition classes and the use of the Fitbit.

While I’m no star student when it comes to meeting the daily goal of achieving 10,000 steps per day, I haven’t done too poorly. According to the badges I’ve earned, I’ve walked over 1,600 miles in total and have trudged up and down 50 flights of stairs in a single day. On two occasions I’ve pounded out more than 25,000 steps.

So when I heard reports this week on NPR and then on CBS that studies have found users of fitness bands have complained about weight gain, I searched for more information on this topic. And sure enough, I found articles with the following titles:

Fitness Trackers Didn’t Help People Lose Weight

Activity Trackers May Undermine Weight Loss Efforts

Fitness Trackers Don’t Help You Lose Weight, After All

Fitbit: Friend or Foe? Is your tracker hindering your weight loss efforts?

Wearable activity trackers may not boost weight loss

How Trackers Can Sabotage Weight Loss

I’ve complained not only about my inability to lose weight, but my inability to stop gaining weight in the past several months. I’ve talked about cutting out sweets and ending my love affair with soda. Eating out, snacking and big breakfasts have also been on the chopping block to get my weight under control.


So I’m elated to know that it’s the Fitbit! I’ll bury it deep in a drawer and I’m sure the pounds will disappear.


Back to Being Mom

The last time I posted on Mom’s Monday Memo was February 29th when I announced this blog was coming to an end as I moved on to something new. I’d designed a new website, Empty Nest Full Suitcase, and I planned to write about the travels of two recently retired empty nesters taking on new adventures.

Bags are still packed waiting for adventures.

However, I’ve come to realize that while I love this idea, and I love the title and set up of the new blog, and while there’s been no shortage of travel to write about, I do not love writing only about travel.

Planning for the next road trip.

In fact, it’s been torture. I don’t write to earn money or to promote products, I just write for fun. And since I’ve haven’t written for 21 days, not once in the month of September and only four times in August, it’s obvious this hasn’t been fun.

So I’m going back home. Back to where I started. In November 2012, I attended the Sanibel Writer’s Conference, learned blogging basics and started writing. Writing and posting EVERY day for over three years. My daughter’s haven’t been able to escape the Monday memos from Mom so I guess that’s where my writing heart belongs…jotting down messages to share with my girls.

Meghan at infant and child CPR class…a family affair.


I’m not sure I’ll be able to keep up with the daily posts of the past since we’ll be welcoming two new family members in the coming months. Grace will be here any day now and Baby Patty’s birth will usher in the new year so I expect to be distracted by things pink and blue. Distractions that may interfere with a daily writing routine.

Emily…10 days and counting!



Our bags are still packed. We’ll still be traveling. But I’ll be doing what I enjoy. Writing about this and that…family, travel, food, bicycling and whatever else strikes my fancy. And of course, I’ll be dishing out advice from Mom.

Sarah…ready to ring in the new year with Baby Patty.


Embrace Change

Check out my new blog: Empty Nest Full Suitcase

In November of 2012, I wrote and posted my first blog on Mom’s Monday Memo with a piece of advice to my adult daughters. For over three years I’ve written and posted almost everyday sharing poetry, photos, recipes, travel ideas and other random thoughts.

Thank you for following Mom's Monday Memo!
Thank you for following Mom’s Monday Memo!

Today is the last day I’ll be posting to this blog.

That doesn’t mean I plan to stop writing or blogging. It just means that it’s time for a change. I’m going to put Mom’s Monday Memo to rest as I start a new blog. This time with some help (at least occasionally) from my better half, since the new blog will focus on travel.

John and I will be writing and photographing our travels including:

  • biking and hiking trails
  • water adventures
  • camping
  • daycations
  • sports, festivals and special events

We’ll be writing about our adventures around the state of Florida as well as in other of the 50 states as well as documenting trips in Canada and even farther as we plan for trips to Iceland, the Netherlands and Toronto later this year.

Backpack suitcase and hiking sticks – the logo for the new blog Empty Nest Full Suitcase

I hope you’ll check out the new blog Empty Nest Full Suitcase. You’ll find it at EmptyNestFullSuitcase.com and you’ll also find several of the travel related posts from Mom’s Monday Memo on the new site since I’ve been preparing for the launch for the last couple of weeks.

Please leave comments with feedback or suggestions so we can make this new writing adventure even better.

Change is good. Even the calendar changes every four years by inserting an extra day. Embrace change.





What’s Happening in March?

There are so many special events taking place in the month of March. It’s time to add one or more to your calendar.

March 5th Ocala

3rd Annual Habitat for Humanity Strawberry Festival – The 3rd Annual Strawberry Festival is the place for everything strawberry…shortcake, ice cream, pancakes and of course, flats of strawberries for sale.


March 5th-6th Natural Bridge Battlefield Historic State Park (about 15 miles south of Tallahassee

151st Battle of Natural Bridge (re-enactment) – Military camp, artillery demonstrations, Civil War Dance with the highlight of the weekend, the 39th Annual Re-enactment of the Battle of Natural Bridge taking place on Sunday at 2:30.

March 11th-13th St. Augustine

St. Augustine Celtic Music and Heritage Festival – Irish Tenors, The Celtic Ladies, Whiskey Tasting and a Parade are only a few of the events scheduled to celebrate St. Paddy’s Day. (Discount tickets available until 2/29…so hurry and get yours now!)

March 11th-13th St. Pete

Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg – Located along the waterfront in St. Petersburg, street racing, music, food and exhibits will entertain for the weekend.

March 13th Miami Little Havana

39th Annual Calle Ocho – The internationally known block party celebrates Hispanic cultures on Miami’s Calle Ocho (8th Street). Latin music, street dancers and food booths will bring the 19 block strip to life.

March 18th-20th Marco Island

Marco Island Seafood and Music Festival – A weekend celebration of music and your favorite seafood including: grouper, crab cakes, stone crabs, shrimp and chowder.

March 18th-20th Safety Harbor

Bloom N Chalk N Art Festival – For those who can’t wait for the the Venice 3D Chalk Festival to return, here’s your chance to stroll along Main Street in Safety Harbor the sidewalk chalk creations by international artists.

March 25th-27th Amelia Island

Florida International Dog Surfing Championship – A chance for dogs to show their stuff on the waves of northeast Florida. Billed as a dog lover’s dream.



Urban Camping

It’s not cheap to stay in Miami in February. What with all the snowbirds and events like the South Beach Wine and Food Festival. But we were determined to cheer on the Canes baseball team the final weekend in February as they hosted the Gators, without spending a fortune.


With no state park campgrounds in south Dade, John found a county park, Penny and Larry Thompson Campground. The reviews looked good and he remembered his aunt and uncle camping there in the ’60s and ’70s so we decided to give it a try.


For $17 a night (tent site), we paid less for our two night stay at Penny & Larry Thompson Campground than the daily $35 parking fee in Coconut Grove where we usually stay. And with nearly 300 sites, a community center, pool, showers and a laundry, it provided more facilities than we needed.


We set up in the area designated for tents in less than thirty minutes and then we were ready to hit the road for a night of baseball.


The campground is carved out in a residential area, and while it’s a little farther west than we’d like, at such low rates, how can you complain? We won’t be camping here in the summer months, but we’ve already scheduled another three days at Penny & Larry Thompson Park in April.

2 Down; 14 To Go

In January, we checked off the first item in our list 16 in 16 when we attended a Jackson Browne concert. On Monday, February 22nd, we finally found the perfect day for another of the planned events for 2016 when we spent the day in St. Petersburg for a Daycation.

We waited for a warm and sunny February day because our plan was to bike ride the city trails and visit several of the museums. We started the ride on the trail behind the Morean Center for Clay, one of the museums on our list and rode in to the city. I was somewhat reluctant to ride downtown because I “don’t do traffic”. Fortunately, a concrete barrier divided the trail in the city from the traffic. We even had stop lights to make for a smooth flow downtown.

Traveling past Tropicana Field, through downtown, to the bay and then before the end of the day toward Treasure Island until we reached an end of the trail due to construction, our 17 miles on the bike met our goal for the active part of the day.


Parking at the Historic Seaboard Train Station, our first stop was a tour of the Morean Arts Center for Clay.


Here we were surprised to find the center closed on Mondays, but when a staff member realized we’d driven two hours, she permitted us to walk through the facility where artists were working in the shared spaces. Actually, we enjoyed looking at the art outside as much as the displays inside the center.


From the train station we rode our bike downtown to see the Chihuly Collection at another of the Morean Arts Centers located on the city’s waterfront. A 20 foot sculpture located outside the center ushers guests into the building that was specifically designed to display the glasswork. The price of admission includes a docent led tour, but we decided to enjoy on our own instead of traveling from room to room with a crowd.


Next, we stopped for lunch at Fresco’s Waterfront Bistro with margaritas overlooking the water.


We purchased a bundled ticket which included a visit to the Morean Galleries as well as to the Glass Studio and Hot Shop with our ticket to the Chihuly Collection. Unfortunately, the Morean Galleries were in the midst of changing out the exhibit so we saw more cardboard boxes than art. Next time we’ll know to call ahead since this information is not provided on their website.


But while the galleries were a disappointment, the highlight of the trip was the time spent in the Glass Studio and Hot Shop where we sat in bleachers watching David Sturgeon create a piece of glass art with the assistance of the narrator, Jeremiah. For fifty minutes, the glass was shaped, colored, twirled, heated, cooled, heated, cooled, and heated and cooled some more until the piece was completed.


A successful daycation of bicycling and art. Not the first of the year and certainly not the last.

Costs: $106

  • Gas $16 (about 8 gallons at $2/gallon
  • Tickets for Chihuly Collection, Glass Studio and Hot Shop $40 (tickets for two)
  • Lunch $50 (2 margaritas accounted for half this cost)