Tag Archives: Key Biscayne

The Aristocrat: my first friend in Florida

On Saturday I launched a search for the best way to make friends in Miami (see my previous post linked below).

My family and I moved here from Dallas on New Year’s Day, 2012 and thus far I have made 2.5 new friends.

I met my first friend Mary in mid-February. After unpacking boxes and getting my three children settled in school I sat down and emailed the four friends of my friends whose addresses were given to me before I moved (did you follow that? Friend set-ups). I heard back from all but one.

With two of them I played a game of tag. We emailed back and forth until someone forgot we were playing. I am pretty sure it was not me. That left one potential new friend and honestly, I thought a 25% return for my email efforts was not so bad.

I get it. We are all busy and some people just don’t have any white space on their calendars. A dear friend from Dallas, who I vacationed with this summer said something like that: “You know Meredith, I have such a full, busy life, I don’t really want to make any new friends. I can barely keep up with those that I already have.” Why should these new girls work a stranger into their lives if they can barely make time for people they already know?

But Mary had her reasons. In fact, as soon as she read the name Sarah Brown, she said her fingers were flying with a reply (I love this story).

“Dear Meredith,

It was so good to hear from you. I would love to plan a get-together soon. What day will work for you? Sarah Brown was my very first friend at the University of Texas. I went to orientation without knowing a soul and Sarah was assigned the dorm room next to mine. She was from Dallas but seemed to know every Texan at the entire school and I was so thankful that she let me tag along with her for the weekend. When our freshman year began we pledged different sororities but always kept up. If I ever needed clarification on a Texas eccentricity, or really anything at all, Sarah was the first person I called. I would do anything for her.”

Well thank you Sarah. I thought that was a pretty awesome pay-it-forward twenty years after the fact!

We agreed to meet with the kids at Riviera Country Club on a Tuesday after school the next week. When I came home from our date I told my husband if anyone ever used the term aristocracy anymore I would call Mary an aristocrat!

The Junior League, University of Miami Art Board, TWO yacht clubs, never mind the golf club where we were sitting. Have you heard of the fancy resort in Key Largo that every U.S. President has visited? It is called Ocean Reef. Mary and her family are members there too! They take their beautiful 32 foot boat down for the day and sometimes spend the weekend in their condo in the Keys.

I hit the jack pot! Mary is a well of wonderful information, but it gets even better. She is SUPER NICE, but not in that sappy sweet sort-of way. Really nice which made me feel comfortable digging for information about Miami society.

She is also available. Not all the time, but enough. She works, has 2 young children and lots of family and friends in town. Mary and her husband both went to high school in the Gables… well look at me, I am already picking-up the local slang. “The Gables” is short for Coral Gables. Some would argue the Gables is the most beautiful suburb of Miami and I might agree, but I digress…

When I call, Mary always finds time to answer my questions. We have enjoyed dinner at a few Miami hotspots with Mary and her husband and spent a wonderful afternoon on Biscayne Bay with their entire family.

She lives close but our paths rarely cross. Our children go to different schools. If I was in a bind and my husband was out-of-town, I would be comfortable asking Mary or her husband for help. Just knowing that they are there feels nice.

Sometime before Christmas, when I get through my back-to-school to-do list, I will call Mary for a lunch date to hear about her typical Miamian’s summer, which means a summer not spent in Miami (they say it is too hot to stay here… we’ll save that topic for another day) and I know she will make it happen.

And when I am teaching and re-teaching my children the Golden Rule I will tell them the story of Sarah, Mary and me and remind them that you must always do unto others as you would have done unto you because you never know when you will need a recommendation for membership to one of the most exclusive yacht clubs in Florida every action causes a reaction and your simple kindness might brighten someone else’s life 20 years from now, and that is just well, super cool!
Key Biscayne Sand Bar

The Miami Lifeguard Stands Aren’t Just For taking Pretty Pictures

one of the 29 lifeguard stands on Miami Beach

You would think by the very nature of the word, “lifeguard,” i.e. “one who guards life” that it would have dawned on my to run toward the lifeguard stand when I scooped my daughter out of the Biscayne Bay when her entire face was covered with dripping blood.

But the thought never crossed my mind.

I grabbed that girl and was burning a path in the sand straight to my car, when I heard my friend yell, “the lifeguard stand. Go to the lifeguard stand.”

We had been at the beach for almost 3 hours and I didn’t even know it was there. As I took a moment to change directions a muscled man in a black speedo was at my side and took Anna Kate from my arms and easily carried her the remaining distance to the lifeguard stand (the thought of the sight I must have been working to run with my 40 pound 4-year-old up the sandy hill makes me giggle. the baby boot camp class should incorporate that drill into their next class- running with baby up sand-dune… it is not easy).

There were two lifeguards on duty. As soon as Anna Kate made it to the top of their stand they were ready. No one was sure where all that blood was coming from but before I knew it, the guards had her cleaned-up, calmed- down and bandaged with a compressed gauze on her forehead. They were ready to call 911 but I wasn’t sure which hospital they would take her, plus the cleaned-up wound didn’t look too big (stitch worthy, but not life threatening) so I thought we could make it to the hospital.

And we did…

When I got to my car with my injured daughter, the two friends I was with at the beach that day had loaded all my things in my car. One mom had put my 8-year-old son in her car with plans of swimming at her house all day, or at least until we were done at the hospital, and the other jumped in the driver’s seat in her own car and guided me to the valet stand of the “cleanest, best staffed children’s hospital in the county” recommended by a fine doctor we both trusted (her husband).

Nate, Kelly’s husband, did not steer us wrong. Miami Children’s Hospital was great. We valet parked at no cost (not sure why, because there was a $5 charge sign, but the gentleman would not take our money); Anna Kate road in a wheel chair from the car to the lobby, not because she needed to but because she wanted to and everybody was cool with that; they had complimentary kid’s crack apple juice in the lobby; and a TEENAGER was leading a crafts table in the corner while we waited. We walked out of that ER with 2 stitches, pockets full of princess stickers and an enormous purple popsicle and both of us were extremely happy.

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I share this story with you because I thought you might benefit from the lessons I learned:

1. The head bleeds A LOT. When you figure out where the injury is put pressure on it. Nate (the doctor) was able to minimize the blood that came from his own son’s cut that he suffered on a metal bench at Disney World. Kelly said as soon as Jeffery fell, Nate scooped him up and pressed his hand on the wound. If I could have gotten to Anna Kate sooner, and reduced the amount of blood we BOTH had to see I think I could have drastically reduced the fear level in both mother and daughter (Did I mention it looked like someone had taken a machete to her head? OMIGOSH THERE WAS SOO MUCH BLOOD).

2. At a minimum, life guards are certified and must maintain the (a) Red Cross Standard First Aid, (b) the Red Cross Lifeguard Training and (c) the American Heart or Red Cross Basic Life Support. Next time I go to the beach I will make sure I know where the life guard is located and will head that way first if there is a problem.

3. When I am in a new city,whether it be for a move or vacation, I will find the location, at least on the map, of the closest and most highly recommended emergency room for both kids and adults (because they could be different).

On that note, if you come to Miami, I highly recommend Miami’s Children Hospital in Coral Gables.

4. If a friend’s child is injured while I’m there I will take charge. Last week, when I saw all of that blood I felt a strange calmness come over. I”m not sure where that came from but I think I just knew that my daughter’s fears would not be calmed by a hysterical mother. What totally flew the coop was all other signs of intelligence and reasoning. If my new friends had not been there I would have bypassed the lifeguard stand thrown my bloody daughter in the car, buckled my 8-year-old son, who never left his sister’s side, next to her and fumbled to pull up the closest hospital on my iPhone (which could have caused the second accident of the day).

The three of us would have done a barefoot crazy dance, dressed in only our swimsuits into the county ER. Anna Kate would have still been bleeding; Charlie would have not stopped talking, recanting the long version of what happened to each person that we passed even though they were only willing to give him a short moment of their time; and I would have been the losing my mind.

So thank you to the Key Biscayne life guards, to the people of Miami Children’s Hospital and to my sweet friends Kelly and Jen. What do you say we celebrate our happy ending with purple popsicles on the beach? You pick the spot and I’ll bring the cooler. The boogie boards and buckets are still packed in my car.

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Hope you make it to your favorite spot this weekend

There is so much to do in South Florida, it is overwhelming! Besides the beautiful beaches, every weekend there seems to be a farmers market, festival or outdoor moonlit picnic that we would just love to do in between baseball games and homework. Not too mention all of the super cool areas of Miami that I can’t wait to explore: Brickell, Bal Harbor, Coral Gables, the Design District, the Arts District, South of Fifth….

The possibilities seem endless! While we are slowly working through our options one place we always come back to is “our spot” on Key Biscayne.

Key Biscayne is a tiny island just off the coast of Miami, about 3 miles from downtown and 4 miles from our home in Coconut Grove. There is only one way on the island by car, over the Rickenbacker Causeway (or the Miami Mountain as the runners and bikers like to cause it. There is one 5 star hotel (the Ritz Carlton), one public golf course, one gorgeous tennis facility and a few yummy restaurants and homes.

We rarely see very many people on the beach. Maybe a wayward competitor from one of the weekly triathlon, or one of the few residents of the Key, but usually, it feels like our own private island.

We are in Miami though, home of all things beautiful. So we were not surprised at all when we returned to our car one day and saw a professional photographer photographing a bikini clad model.

However I was surprised when I opened the May issue of In Style magazine and saw “Our Spot” on page 377! There she was… Olga Kurylenko in the shots that we had witnessed, just a few weeks before.

Quick story: See that palm tree in the picture with Olga above? Well I am not sure if it is that exact tree, but I believe a copy of last month’s In Style magazine might still be stuck there! We had an onlooker in hysterics trying to retrieve a wayward frisbee. The frisbee lodged in one palm tree, so we tried several times to knock it out of the tree by throwing anything heavy we could find. In my hand was the magazine and I through it up, and over my target and PLOP into the top of the leaves of a second tree! Forget the frisbee… I hadn’t read my magazine!

Finally, a man getting his picture taken with his 9 month pregnant wife walked out of his pose (his wife did not look amused) came to help. I just think throwing shoes at a Palm Tree looked like more fun than what he was doing. The frisbee came down, but I did not see the magazine again… hoping it made a bird a real nice nest.

Here’s to hoping that you make it to your favorite spot this weekend! Enjoy.