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Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Florida vacation & June 08-45

Flordia vacation & June 08-45 by juliawhite1115, on Flickr

For years, my family has spent summer vacations soaking up the sun on different Gulf Coast beaches. It is one of my favorite ways to relax.

In July, we drove to Florida’s Navarre Beach. Situated between Pensacola and Destin, its welcome sign reads, “Florida’s Best Kept Secret.” I have to agree. If you are on assignment in northwest Florida or just looking for a place to rejuvenate, Navarre Beach is a narrow strip of heaven on earth.   

WHAT TO SEE AND DO

  • Playing in the sugar white sand and clear, emerald green waters is the number one reason to visit Navarre. Beach umbrellas and lounge chairs can be rented for $25 per day.
  • Walk or fish on the new Navarre Beach Fishing Pier, the longest of any piers in the Gulf of Mexico and a short stroll from our condo. Visitors pay $1 each to walk the 1,545-foot pier and $7 to fish. On weekends, live music plays at the adjacent Pier Restaurant.
  • Bike along the National Seashore–an eight-mile stretch of undeveloped shoreline protected by the federal government. Only ten coastal areas in the U.S. have received this recognition. Take a camera to snap photos of nesting sea turtles or the towering dunes.
  • Hang out at Juana’s Pagodas (look for the thatched roofs) beside the Navarre Bridge.  The complex includes a restaurant, bakery, and pub. You may also rent jet skis, a sailboat, boogie board, stand-up paddleboard, bike, and/or a surfboard.

WHERE TO STAY

If you are within driving distance but too far for a day trip, you may opt to stay overnight. My family and I stayed at the new high-rise condominium, Beach Colony West. Our 1,700-square-foot unit had three bedrooms and three bathrooms. A large picture window and sliding glass door in the living room provided views of the water. The best spot to enjoy morning coffee was the outdoor, circular porch with a table for four. This complex boasts the largest swimming pool in Navarre.

Condos are an affordable option for multiple families or couples who want to share the cost. Contact Gulf Blue Vacations (gulftbluevacations.com for information. Rates vary by season. (The condo, for example, rents for $2,420 per week in July.) After September 15, the weekly rate is half that amount. Taxes and cleaning fees are additional.

MORE INFORMATION

Visit floridabeachestorivers.com for tips on planning a laidback beach getaway.

Jim Twardowski, BSN, RN, CMSRN, is a travel writer based in Louisiana. His work has been featured in AAA Home & AwayGlobal Traveler, and QUEST magazines.

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Photo: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Every year, our family buys season tickets to Summer Lyric productions at Tulane University in New Orleans. For more than 45 years, they’ve been producing a made-in-America art form—musical theater.

We’ve seen singing nuns march down the aisles in “The Sound of Music,” and anxiously watched Norma Desmond—arms akimbo and eyes wide open—descend the staircase for her final close up in “Sunset Boulevard.”

Each season, three musicals are staged with a live orchestra and amazing casts. Attending these shows is one of the highlights of our summer.

Colleges across the country produce a wide range of theatrical performances from elaborate musicals and classic plays, to the avant-garde and absurd.

To find out what’s playing at a college near you, visit the university’s website and search for its theater or dramatic arts department.

The following schools have announced their 2012-2013 season:

Carnegie Mellon (CMU) — Pittsburgh, PA

The School of Drama Subscribers Series kicks off with a funny and sexy production of “The Rivals,” directed by a guest artist from Britain. The season also includes the Tony award winning “Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches,” the new musical version of “Spring Awakening,” and three modernized versions of Shakespeare plays. Visit the CMU School of Drama website for more information.

Florida State University (FSU) — Tallahassee, FL

The MaGrath sisters are having a particularly bad day in the Pulitzer prize winning, “Crimes of the Heart.” Additional highlights of the season include: “How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying,” “The Monster Under the Bed,” and “Much Ado About Nothing.” Visit the FSU School of Theater website for more information.

California State University (CSU) — Fullerton, CA

Wacky wit and black humor skewers Mom and Dad in “Baby with the Bathwater,” the season opener at California State University. Ticket holders can also see a range of shows from the mature and daring “Metamorphoses,” to the classic musical “Carousel.” Visit the CSU Fullerton Department of Theater & Dance website for more information.

Jim Twardowski, BSN, RN, CMSRN, is a travel writer based in Louisiana. His work has been featured in AAA Home & AwayGlobal Traveler, and QUEST magazines.

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Photo: Walt Disney Pictures

While your home base may be ever changing, one likely constant is that a movie theater will be in close proximity to wherever you’ve landed for your next assignment. Escape the dog days of summer with these surefire theatrical hits.

“Brave”

Starring: Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly, and Craig Ferguson

Disney/Pixar hits it out of the park once more with this animated gem. The story revolves around Merida, a fiery-haired archer who defies one of her kingdom’s age-old customs, landing her family at the center of a curse. Merida must undo the spell to save her loved ones and herself. “Brave” will make you feel like a kid again.

In Theaters: June 22

The Amazing Spider-Man

Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, and Martin Sheen

Bye, bye Tobey Maguire. This take on the “Spider-Man” films puts Andrew Garfield of “The Social Network” in the lead superhero role. Exploring Peter Parker’s high school years, our protagonist discovers a clue that may help him learn more about his parents’ mysterious disappearance when he was a boy, putting him face-to-face with Dr. Curt Connors, his father’s former partner and Spider-Man’s nemesis.

In Theaters: July 3

“The Dark Knight Rises”

Starring: Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, and Liam Neeson

Picking up eight years after where “The Dark Knight” left off, Batman resurfaces in Gotham to battle it out with the series’ latest villain, Bane, who has plans to destroy his beloved city. Batman must also confront the mysterious and alluring Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman, who is a formidable associate of Bane’s. “The Dark Knight Rises” is intended to be the conclusion of the film series.

In Theaters: July 20

“The Campaign”

Starring: Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, and Jason Sudeikis

If superhero movies aren’t your thing, head to the closest theater for “The Campaign,” a laugh-out-loud comedy about two North Carolina politicians who duke it out over their own presidential aspirations. Given that it’s a cutthroat election year, there’s no better time to lighten the political mood than with this Will Ferrell flick.

In Theaters: August 10

“The Odd Life of Timothy Green”

Starring: Jennifer Garner, Joel Edgerton, and Ron Livingston

If you’re looking for a film that will leave you with the warm fuzzies, “The Odd Life of Timothy Green” is just the ticket. The story revolves around a married couple, Cindy and Jim Green, who can’t wait to start a family. The duo put all of their wishes for a baby into a box, which they bury in their backyard. When a young boy named Timothy appears at their door on a stormy and magical night, the Green’s lives are changed forever.

In Theaters: August 15

Kelly Bryant is a freelance entertainment writer based in Los Angeles, California.

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Photo: Jim Twardowski

Each year, as soon as spring has sprung, I head to the local garden center. This year, I find a flower bed filled with bright red impatiens, a manicured front lawn, and a backyard filled with blooming azaleas, gardenias, agapanthas, and hydrangeas.

When I travel, I enjoy spending time in lushly landscaped gardens. Walking amongst the blooming plants provides inspiration for my own yard.

You, too, can find public gardens by visiting the American Public Gardens Association website. Featuring information on public gardens in all 50 states, track down and learn about gardens ranging from sculpture and topiary to aviary and Japanese. Use the “Garden Search” tool to locate one in your state, and here is a sample of what you might find:

Pennsylvania

The Brandywine Conservancy preserves art and the environment in Pennsylvania. American art is exhibited in the Brandywine River Museum — a 19th-century grist mill. Surrounded by wildflower and native plant gardens, providing a variety of blooms from early spring until the first frost, the museum houses a collection of works by Andrew, Jamie and N.C. Wyeth, as well as American illustrations, still life, and landscape paintings.

Idaho

Hundreds of gardens are located on college and university campuses across the country, but the 63-acre University of Idaho Arboretum and Botanical Garden sits in a valley with the rolling Palouse hills as a backdrop. Geographically arranged, visitors will see Asian, European, Eastern, and Western North American plant groupings.

Georgia

The American Camellia Society is based at Massee Lane Gardens and hosts the Festival of Camellia’s every February. The 100-acre botanical garden is located in the middle of Georgia, and a nine-acre section contains over 1,000 varieties of camellias.

National Public Gardens Day is on May 11 and Better Homes and Gardens is providing free admission to participating gardens. Simply visit the BHG website and download the voucher.

Even if you don’t have a green thumb, visiting a public garden is a relaxing way to enjoy nature. And, you might just gain a greater appreciation for your own backyard!

Jim Twardowski, BSN, RN, CMSRN, is a travel writer based in Louisiana. His work has been featured in AAA Home & Away, Global Traveler, and QUEST magazines.

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Photo: Peggy Clark

I really admire my parents. Even in their 70s they are more active than many twenty-somethings I know.

They walk three miles together nearly every day, which means jumping on the treadmill during harsh Wisconsin winters.

My mother regularly attends exercise classes, and my dad is Mr. Outdoorsman regardless of the season.

I’m very thankful they are blessed with good health, but I often think about the day when they will require help attending to their healthcare.

For me, the hardest part of that scenario is living 2,000 miles away and being unable to be as hands-on as much as they may need. As mobile professionals, you too can understand the frustrations of being away from loved ones in need.

According to the American Society on Aging, approximately 100 million people deal with chronic conditions and nearly 25 percent of all households care for a family member age 50 or older. Now think about how those numbers will escalate as baby boomers age and require more services.

More and more of us will become caregivers for loved ones.

But you don’t have to permanently unpack in order to become involved. Of course, ideally, family members and trusted friends living close by could pitch in, but there are experts who can advocate in your place if that’s not a viable option.

A Geriatric Care Manager (GCM) is typically a nurse or social worker trained to address the multifaceted nature of elder care. They assess individuals’ physical and psychological well-being, address family dynamics, and connect people to local resources. In fact, GCMs are very well connected with senior centers, assisted living facilities, home care organizations, and other local experts including financial and legal advisors.

GCMs also stay current with clients’ lives, so they notice when subtle changes might indicate something larger at play, or when extra services or attention is required. They can be your eyes and ears on the scene.

So how do you find a Geriatric Care Manager? The National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers has compiled a membership database. Just type your zip code, city, or state into its Find a Care Manager Search engine. The results supply you with names, contact information, and areas of expertise for local geriatric care managers.

For now, I value my parents’ vitality because it allows them to enjoy their hobbies and interests. At the same time, it’s reassuring to know that a trained advocate is available for us when needed.

Special thanks to Andrea Gallagher at Senior Concerns.

Anne Baye Ericksen is a freelance writer based in Simi Valley, Calif.

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