Happy 2012 … finally! I’m not the resolution-making type, but if I was, I’d say that one of mine is to not sweat the small stuff. And that includes not feeling bad/guilty/angsty about not posting in more than a week. Frankly, there’s just been no time to sit down for a moment and catch my breath!
After our New Year’s trip (more on that below), I went back to work on Monday and my mom and her boyfriend (that sounds weird for adults, huh? But using the word “partner” makes it sound like her lesbian partner — not that there’s anything wrong with that! But I guess we’ll stick with BF) were still here until Wednesday morning. And thank God they were. E’s school didn’t start again until Wednesday. Do her teachers hate us parents? I think all the parents was desperate for their kids to finally get back on their schedules!
Then, Wednesday night was our first night back to ballet and Thursday night we headed out to Disney to pick up DadJovi’s race packet for Sunday’s marathon! We got there just before it closed so there wasn’t a lot of time to look around the expo, which is probably a good thing for our post-holiday wallets. But there was enough time for E. to make a quick sign for her Daddy.
I may have helped her with the “G” a little bit but she was very excited to do the rest herself. I hope she still feels that same excitement in the predawn hours on Sunday!
We really said good-bye to 2011 in style. The week before New Year’s, my brother-in-law (DadJovi’s sister’s husband) called us to see if we wanted to come down to Naples for the weekend. He’s a private plane pilot and had flown his clients down there to golf for a few day (must be nice, huh?). So he had four days to kill, and he’s an avid boater. So he offered to rent a boat for the day AND to use his points to pay for our hotel room. I mean, that’s just all kinds of winning, huh? Plus, we’d never been there, so we were excited to check out a new area of Florida.
We took the scenic route down from Orlando, traveling south on U.S. Route 17. There’s a reason Florida is known for its orange juice — there are orange groves EVERYWHERE! Seriously, I had no idea just how many orange farms were still in operation. It was pretty awesome. Plus, they’re all ripe and ready to be picked, so we passed by thousands and thousands of acres of trees, all dotted with bright orange fruit.
My Otto the Orageman sticker really enjoyed looking for his citrus brethren, too.
We also passed tons of trucks, loaded to the tippy tippy top with oranges. So cool.
A quick three-hour drive later, we were pulling into our hotel in Fort Meyers. The hotel was located within the same complex as the Gulf Coast Town Center. Central Floridians, it was like a Winter Park Village on steroids. It was a big walking area with tons of restaurants and stores, including a Bass Pro Shop, boutique clothing and shoe stores, ice cream and fro yo shops and much more. After our long drive, we decided to stick local and walk over to the Ale House for dinner because we wanted to keep an eye on some games and we wanted to find a place where E. didn’t have to be on her best behavior. Loud restaurants are perfect for cooped up kids!
After dinner, DadJovi and E walked over to the movie theater to see “The Adventures of TinTin” (they loved it) while my mom, D. and I had our own mini bar crawl. We settled at Bar Louie’s outdoor bar, where we could hear a musician performing on the nearby open air stage.
The next morning, E. and I slept in while DadJovi made friends with the hotel’s treadmill. He was only a week out from his marathon, after all. Then, it was time to celebrate one of the things that makes Florida awesome in December — swimming!
There’s a reason we suffer all summer long — Florida winters. It was actually a bit too chilly for me, but the pool was heated, so they didn’t seem to mind. Then again, it’s got to be about 90 degrees for me to get into the water. Man, I’m such a wimp these days.
It was a nice, leisurely morning, well, other than my emergency shopping trip to Target. Apparently I packed for Orlando temperatures. Fort Meyers was at least 10 degrees warmer than Central Florida, so the jeans and long-sleeved shirts I brought for boat weren’t going to work. Oops! No worries. I’d been wanting to get E. a Harijuku something and they had the cutest mermaid skort. Sadly, I couldn’t talk her into the sailor dress. I mean, how perfect would that have been? This is why I should always shop alone.
At about noon, we made the 45-minute drive to Naples and picked up our ride for the day.
And before we knew it, we were on the water. It was a PERFECT day — sunny with a few clouds and about 77 degrees. Ahoy!
The bay was teeming with wildlife. We saw at least a dozen dolphins, some so close we could almost pet them. They kept playing the wake of all the boats.
And then there were the birds. Everywhere we looked, we saw these giant nests.
My brother-in-law’s friend, who lived in Naples for 20 years, told us when we first started spotting birds that they were bald eagles. At first, we were all excited, but the more birds we saw, the more suspicious we got. Let’s take a look at the photos. Usually, we’d find the birds in pairs, guarding their nests. Check out this cute couple:
Let’s take a closer look, shall we?
Um, I don’t think those are eagles. Animal expert Google tells us they appear to be osprey. Whatever they were, those birds can build some pretty bitchin’ nests. Very impressive, no matter what kinds of birds they are.
We took the boat to the Snook Inn on Marco Island, and got out for a quick bite and some cocktails (none for the driver!). They had some great seafood chowder and peel-and-eat shrimp. We didn’t want to eat too much because we had dinner reservations a few hours later. But the Snook Inn is the kind of place I’d like to spend a few hours getting to know the locals. Hell, I bet Snooki herself would love to get her drink on there. It had several outdoor tiki bars and live music all day and night.
But we had to get the boat back, and I had some Titanic scenes to reenact.
I’m Queen of the World!
And I also had some real estate to check out. Yeah, I think I could slum it in this little shack on the water.
After we returned the boat, we headed back to the hotel to get prettied up for our New Year’s Eve night. Some of us clean up better than others.
Happy New Year!
My brother-in-law took us to an AMAZING restaurant in Naples called the USS Nemo.
It’s in a strip mall and one of those places you would have driven right by. My brother-in-law said he first found it a couple years ago when he saw a line of people outside in the middle of the afternoon. That’s always a good sign of good food! Since then, he’s been several times, and we knew we had to check it out.
We started with a couple orders of vegetable tempura that is some of the best I’ve ever had. It had sweet potatoes, green beans, portobello mushrooms, red peppers, carrots and onions. So good. They also bring every table a small platter with various breads, hummus and seaweed salad.
For dinner, I ordered the pan-seared grouper with a mushroom crust, sauteed chard, risotto and a grape sauce. At any other restaurant I would have been dying over this dish. And don’t get me wrong — it was delicious. But then I made the mistake of having a bite of the meal that most people ordered and mine paled horribly in comparison. They got the house specialty — Miso Broiled Sea Bass with citrus-ginger butter sauce, steamed rice, asparagus and carrot tempura. That fish may be the single best thing I’ve ever tasted. Seriously. It was so good I thought about sending mine back and ordering that instead.
I didn’t, but I predict a drive to Naples someday soon just for that dish.
One of the great places about the restaurant, too, was how kid friendly it was, despite the fact that it was a really nice restaurant. I was a little concerned about taking E. there on New Year’s Eve but she’s usually a great diner, especially when there’s an iPhone nearby.
I was pleasantly surprised to see how many other celebrators brought their kids along, too. I’m all for enjoying adults-only nights out, but I also think it’s great to include your kids on special nights like this. And exposing them to a restaurant like this is a great way to start a lifetime appreciation for good food (not that E. enjoyed any of it. She stuck to plain buttered noodles. Someday, though. Someday).
After a full day of swimming, boating and dining, E. was DONE. She didn’t even make it back to the hotel awake.
By 10:30, the three of us were in bed (yes, one bed. The hotel was out of rooms with two beds. Cozy, huh?) Then, it was time to tune into my favorite way to ring in the New Year — Kathy Griffin and Anderson Cooper. I know she’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I adore Kathy. I’ve watched D List since the beginning, we’ve seen her in concert and I’m halfway through her book right now. She just cracks the hell out of me and I think she’s the hardest working woman in show business.
It may not have been the wild and crazy New Year’s of my past, but I’m not going to lie — it was one of my favorite ones ever. Plus, no hangover the next day!
Even though I’m a few days late … HAPPY 2012!
What was your best New Year’s Eve ever? And what do you think — eagles or ospreys?