Tag Archives: Miami

Miami Friendship Challenge

I am starting a new challenge today.

And in the spirit of a new diet or a new budget I am declaring my intentions here on this blog so that you might hold me accountable.

Beginning now just after Labor Day, 2012 and ending at the end of my children’s school year, on Memorial Day, 2013 I promise to TRY ONE NEW WAY EACH WEEK TO MEET A FRIEND IN MIAMI.

Because, at the moment, I can’t figure out how people make friends in this city.

The truth is I moved to Miami 8 months ago, without knowing anyone, and I have two and a half new friends. Some of you might think that sounds like plenty of friends. With 3 young, active children, an adoring husband and a couple of friends, what more does a girl really need?

Well, that question has caused many pep talks from my inner cheerleader and several “talking-tos” from my inner drill Sargent (both of whom can get annoying, but when a girl is short on friends she must resort to a little self talk). After a few of these conversations and a bit of thought this is what I’ve come up with in answer to the question “why exactly do I want more friends?”

(1) I like people. My mom has always told me I am a people person and have been outgoing since birth. I was voted “friendliest” in both junior high and high school. I was social chairman of my sorority at Ole Miss, president of a large early childhood PTA in Dallas, and have always heard, “you seem to know everyone.” The maid-of-honor in my wedding told me that she sought my friendship because I was the girl in our sorority who knew everyone’s name at the party on Friday night. All of these things could be considered super cool or super dorky, depending upon who you ask. The truth is I really like people and enjoy the process of getting to know the intricacies about each individual that eventually I call friend. Even more basic than that though, I am used to having friends around.

(2) As a mother and wife I find it hard to find the time required to develop a “best friendship.” When I moved back to Dallas with my boyfriend (now husband) 14 years ago I found myself in the same predicament that I am in now: in a new city with no friends. During the 12 year period I lived in Dallas (we spent two years living in Zurich, Switzerland which makes my math work) I would not say I made a best friend, but a lot of good friends. This was nice because, although best friends are certainly wonderful, there were quite a few women I could call upon during an emergency, if I needed a favor or if I just wanted a partner in crime. As our families grew both mine and my friends’ free time seemed to dwindle. It was nice to have a large circle of friends because the same person was not available all of the time. I would like to have more friends in Miami so I have someone to call when I need or want her and she can be there.

(3) I much more enjoy the things that my 4,6 and 8-year-olds find fun when there is another adult around. My husband works great for this companionship but during the summer, after school and during the day with a part time pre-schooler (I have one left) he is not available. Pre-Miami, I spent a lot of time with women at soccer practice, dance recital dress rehearsals (maybe the worst) the zoo, little gym, the splash park, well, the list goes on and on… I would like to have more friends because it makes life more fun.

(4) Also, I would like to have friends so I can gossip. I like girl talk. I like hearing every detail of your latest dinner party, from the decor to your recipes. I want to tell you about my favorite new nail color or the latest shirt I saw at the Target across town (because it was not at the two locations closer to our neighborhood). I want to try to decipher why Justin is marrying Jessica and explain why even though she isn’t my favorite, I do think she is a better choice than Cameron who is gorgeous but is probably pretty nutty.

My sweet husband tries to be a gossip sounding board for me and although I appreciate it, he is not quite the same as one of my running partners or the moms on the Lightening soccer team. He doesn’t know the subject matter and can’t provide any reciprocal insight. The lead story on Access Hollywood does not fall high enough on the importance scale to waste an out-of-town friend’s precious phone time. And although I’ve exchanged some great texts on such matters, it’s just not as fulfilling. I’d like to get some good acquaintances in place for the not-so-important conversations that I find oh-so-important to lighten-up some days or make baseball practice not seem as long.

So, you might be wondering, “well Miss Friendliest, what is the problem? If you’re so good at making friends then get to it. ”

But that is just it! I am stumped. I have tried to make friends and what I thought I knew was the magic formula for friendship just isn’t working for me in Miami. This friendly Houdini can not figure out how the “Magic City” is pulling the rabbit out of her hat.

I thought that stay at home moms across the United States probably all made friends the same way. I knew that I had to be patient. We are a very busy group. But I believed if I consistently practiced the behaviors and routines that I did in Dallas, the women would just appear in my life and then I could nurture relationships into friendships.

But that just has not been the case.

In Dallas 3 of my closest friends were the ladies I ran with at 5:30 a.m 3-4 days a week but I have not found anyone that enjoys running before the sun comes up. It seems like everything happens a little later in the day here in MIA.

Another close knit-group of friends was my play group: 7 women with whom I met every Tuesday at 2:00. We rocked our babies and chased our toddlers while we shared stories or exchanged advice and sipped on coffee or water or wine or whatever we felt like that day (usually wine!). I have not found many women available during the week day in our new home town I do not have any research to support this, but it seems like there are a lot more women who choose not to stay home here in Miami than in Dallas. I think that is great, but I have not figured out when these working girls see their friends, or more importantly, when they might be able to see me!

I loved the women I worked with on the PTA board in Dallas. The percentage of parents who participate in the Parents Club at our new school is pretty small so not a large pool of potential new friends. I really enjoyed talking with the new school’s President and Vice President, who just so happen to be the owner of the school’s sister and wife, but those relationships did not progress once school ended in May. Their children left Miami for the ENTIRE summer for sleep away camp in the Northeast and I did not think either of them would be interested in hanging out with me and my 3 kids at the beach all day.

My son joined a baseball team and none of the other moms talked to me. But it wasn’t just me… none of them talked at all except for the two crazy ladies that yelled at their son, the coach and any one else who did not play the game to their liking. I am sure I could find one or two psycho sporting parents at every baseball field in the United States but what is the deal with the rest of the team moms not talking amongst themselves?

In Dallas, when school was out and the temperatures sky rocketed my family and I spent most of our time at the Knights of Columbus local pool. We had swim team practice every morning and it was a great place to cool off in the afternoons. Many of the worlds biggest problems were resolved there on Friday night, and then again on Saturday night when the topics seemed fresh because the previous night’s margaritas tasted so good. But there are no summer swim teams here and if anyone was swimming in the country club pool to which we bought a summer membership, it was most likely a member of my family.

I am not sure if it is the international demographics, the Northeastern influence (even though it is almost the southern most city in the continental United States no one would dare call Miami southern) or if I just have a lot to learn about people and how they make friends, but the fact is I have had no luck making friends in Miami.

But I am not giving up.

I am going to be creative.

I am going to be brave.

And by the end of next May I will have compiled a list of the top 10 ways to make friends in Miami.

And hopefully, I will have friends.

And if I do not, I will present to you “The Complete List of What Not to Do to Make New Friends in Miami” and maybe save you a little time.

Wait listen… can you hear that? That is the sound of me bracing the arms of my desk chair waiting for your comments that will set me straight. Am I making presumptions about Floridians that just aren’t true? Have I completely missed the Miami friendship cruise boat and instead bought a first class seat on the train to Loserville? Well I can take it. Bring it on. I really want to hear your comments and would appreciate a nudge in the right direction.


The opposite of anonymous

The opposite of anonymous: distinctive, named, known.

I like known.

Being known.

For me, the hardest part about moving across country is leaving the place you are known.

In your home town, friends honk when they see you and wave when they run by.

It might not be true, but it feels like an extra set of eyes are watching your children at school, because the principal knows your name.

The clerk at the laundromat has your dry cleaning pulled and ready to go when she sees your car pull into the parking lot.

Your running group never leaves at 1 minute after your designated meet time because they know you might show up in 5.

When you are sick, or recovering from surgery, you never know which friend or neighbor will show up at the door with dinner, or offer to take your children to play so you can have a quiet house.

And maybe, the waiter at your favorite restaurant will keep your glasses in his front pocket for 3 weeks until you return again, because he just knew you would be back soon.

But then all that knowing gets a little overwhelming.

The more people you know, the more people you have to say good-bye too when you leave.

Sometimes the right words don’t come.

You have to say good-bye to your family, your friends and even people you don’t know very well.

How do you say thank you for the organizational help when you were preparing to show the house, because your friend knows that organizing is really not your “thing?” Or to another that invited the neighborhood and everyone you have ever known in the city to a wonderful goodbye party? And then to your parents that came to every one of their 3 grandchildren’s soccer games, dance recitals, and swim meets not out of obligation but because they really wanted to be there.

The packing and planning and partying and packing and planning and… it all becomes so chaotic, there is a huge crescendo and then you are gone!

You move. And, after you unpack the boxes, and get the kids enrolled in school… it stops.

You become anonymous.

Someone hands you a clean slate.

AFter the craziness that moving can bring the silence of anonymity is nice.

You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do because you have no obligation.

Want to try a new church? Do it.

Want to be a faceless parent in the PTA, you can try.

Grown tired of the traditional furnishings in your house? Get rid of them. Your new town is full of contemporary furniture stores, why don’t you give it a go?

How about a belly dancing class at the gym? No risk someone you know will see that your hips don’t move like the rest of the class because you don’t know anyone!

Ever wondered if blondes really DO have more fun? Of if it is the red color, not part of their personality that give your sweet carrot topped friends their extra spunk? Why don’t you check it out?

Adding a little adventure to my life has helped ease the pain of leaving home. It has been fun! Thursday I entered La Bella Salon in Coral Gables a brunette and left like this:

Do reds have more fun?

And I have to tell you, I am feeling a little feisty! With this new color, I need to be careful. It might be hard to remain anonymous with my new flaming head.

Party tricks

Last week I wrote a bit about the Back to School Party we had at our house but I didn’t give you many of the deets (How do you feel about that word?).

Today I thought I would share a few of my favorite party tricks because I was real pleased with how the whole night turned-out. As I looked over the pictures I realized most of these ideas were stolen from two of the best hostesses that I know in Dallas- JM and the Other Meredith. If there is a team party, teacher appreciation, birthday celebration or even if there is no particular good reason at all, friends of these ladies ALWAYS look to them to host a gathering. I can not think of one time that either of them has not only agreed but been up for a party and opened up their beautiful homes.

Let me give you the skinny!

Both of my friends’ parties always have a theme and are kept as simple as possible. For my back to school party I used apples, books, globes and glasses to establish my theme and pre-prepared almost all of the food so no one was stuck in the kitchen. We used these baskets with liners, like I have seen the Other do many times (but not always of course, some occasions demand china!). The baskets are cute, cheap (the liners were from Amazon Prime and the baskets were already on hand), easy to eat from while standing or sitting AND make for an easy clean-up. LOVE THEM!

Memphis barbecue on the menu

The menu was in honor of my husband’s heritage- doesn’t that sound fancy? In other words, he’s from Memphis and we had barbecue- pork, not beef, that’s a Memphis thing! We tried a new pulled pork recipe done in the oven and it turned out great. Check it out (if the link is not working please scroll down to previous post below)

We served the adults, wine beer a signature drink which you will always find at the Other’s house. Not the same drink, a signature for each party that is a surprise at every event..

I stuck with my theme and served an apple mojito and it was AWESOME. You have to try this recipe (click ).

apple mojito

What is that you see written on the wall? It is chalk from a chalkboard pen! Have you ever heard of it? I had not until JM told me about them and I LOVE them. I bought a pack of 3 at Michael’s over a year ago for about $12 and they work great. I wrote directions so that guests could make their own drink and then labeled the containers of the ingredients (OK the mint was obvious, but the simple syrup might not have been)! I also used this pen to explain that the bright red punch was ‘kid friendly” but I should have written on that pitcher: liquid apple/cherry sugar… i thought it turned out gross, and the floated apples did not look so appetizing, but of course, the kids loved it and the candy-striped paper straws were also a big hit.

JM’s decor is always superb. She is a high-end make-up artist by trade but everything she touches, not just the faces of Dallas high society, should be called art because she is SO talented. Centerpieces scare me but I remembered the advice JM had given me (1) if you think it is too big, it isn’t and (2) it is almost impossible to mess-up a monocolor scheme. These photographs aren’t great because my dining room has no furnishings (the tables are portable and were just moved there for party) and the serving bowls are empty. Please ignore the naked walls and check out the tables.

And finally, like the Other I love to find favors that the kids are excited to take home and can be used to take great party pictures during the party. The globe beach balls and “nerd” glasses did just the trick. I ordered both from the Oriental Trading Company.
Back to school party
Back to School Party

How about you? Do you have any go to party tricks that help make your events a success?

Pillow talk comedy

Six-year-old: Why does AK’s stomach hurt?
Mom: Well apparently she swallowed part of her granola bar wrapper.
Six-year-old: She did not.
Four-year-old: Yes I did (then in a whisper), and I think it is stuck in my throat.
Six-year-old: If it was you would be coughing like there was a frog in your throat.
Four-year-old: Ribbit, ribbit.

6 and 4

Uninvited guests showed-up at our party

It has been a hectic week.

All 3 of my children started school and for my 6-year-old that meant she started her 6th NEW school and I was a little bit nervous about it.

If God did in fact create shy bones, then Chloe is the only one in our family of five that has one, or maybe ten, in her body. Not only that but she is very cautious. She has had many “starts” in her short life where she has reported “yes, I did have fun today, but I think I won’t go back tomorrow.” She would rather stay home and skip day two rather than risk that the first day was a false start of fun.

I felt bad. Another new school? I had not done a very good job of explaining why we hadn’t seen her kindergarten friends since the last day of that school in May. It was a very small class, and the three other girl moms and I did not click… but I did try. Denise’s mom only spoke Spanish, Sarah’s mom kept her only child on a super busy schedule and could not seem to fit us in and the African twins’ turban-wearing, missionary mom was super sweet, but they moved away in July to take a year-long sabbatical.

I really hoped, or rather still hope, that at her new school both Chloe AND I will meet some first grade families with whom we can become friends. SO, I decided to have a back to school party to get that friendship ball rolling.

Monday, Chloe joined her brother, who started the third grade, at a wonderful elementary school that did not have room for her when we moved to Miami last January. My Back to School invitees included 7 of my son’s favorite 3rd grade friends and their families and 8 first grade families whom I had never met before. I did a little research in the school’s online directory and was so happy to find that 8 of the 60 incoming first graders were girls that lived in our zip code!

The party happened last Saturday night. I sent an evite two weeks prior and then on the Thursday before I phoned those that had not responded (note to self: evite etiquette good topic for future post). A day before the event I was counting on 5 families attendance, which was great. Yes, I would have been happy if a few more could have come, but 13 adults (my mom was in town) plus kids would make a nice size gathering.

The party was great: the food was yummy, the decor turned out just as I had pictured it would and all aged guests seemed to have fun.

Ready to hit the books
Memphis barbecue on the menu
Back to School Party
Back to school party

That night my new Floridian family went to bed with a clean kitchen (my mom’s head never hits the pillow until the dishes are done, no matter what time the last guest leaves) and the satisfaction that it had been a succesful Saturday night.

At 3 a.m. I woke to the familiar sound of my 4-year old daughter’s voice asking…” Mommy, can I get in bed with you?” Always afraid that I might not be able to fall back asleep, I let one eye flutter half-way open. “Is everything, OK?” I barely got the question out before both eyes popped to full attention as my daughter scratched at her head like a dog with fleas. “Sure, I’m fine my head just itches a little bit.”

OH NO!! I KNEW WHAT THAT SCRATCHING MEANT. They were back. But how did those nasty varmints find us here in paradise? I thought we left those lousy lice back in Texas… this could not be happening.

I pulled my daughter close to me hoping if we both closed our eyes we might wake-up from this nightmare. We did in fact fall asleep but it didn’t work, the lice were still there and I had to suffer through 4 hours of dreams involving giant insects eating our new house with us inside.

At 7 am I jumped out of bed and shouted to my husband. The lice are back we’ve got to get to work! You see, the first and last time these annoying little creatures set-up camp on my children’s’ heads it took me SIX WEEKS TO GET RID OF THEM. I swore the next time they paid us a visit I would be super vigilant. I was sure I had just not worked hard enough to get rid of these uninvited guests, so I formulated an evacuation plan (not too dissimilar from the plan we just formulated to deal with Isaac. A guest from the sea who is also NOT invited to my home but might show up anyway).

By the time both of my feet hit the floor I was running, with AK at my heels, scratching her head as we went. “Honey, I’m headed to the store,” I yelled to my husband “you grab the sheets… anything soft or furry needs to be sealed up in a bag and if we can’t remove it, we’ll put a trash bag over it.”

Now Vince is not one of those husbands that responds to barking orders (you know there are those that do… and when we meet him my husband and I usually share a good eye roll or a sympathetic glance, depending on the degree of tongue lashing he is receiving from his wife). But at this moment, we were dealing with an enemy invasion and I needed a little kowtowing. I continued to let the orders fly and pretended that they were not falling on deaf ears as my husband rolled-over in bed and my son turned up the TV.

When I returned from CVS I was pleased to see Vince had bagged up most of the linens in the house and was working on the sofas. He remembers our recent Hundrerd Year War on the lice and was not going to fight a loosing battle again.

My mom was also out of bed and armed with trash bags. I had not bothered waking her because I wasn’t sure how she would react and didn’t have time to drive her to the airport if she decided she did not want to hang around my insect infested home. She has come along way from her first encounter with lice. I will never forget shivering naked in a bathtub with my mother looking down on me in horror as she tried to gauge how far back she could stand and still get a squirt of the lice shampoo on my head. She is a good shot, but the bathroom was small. She had to stand much closer to those animals than she would have liked (the look in her eyes told me she saw these lice as giant beasts).

I grabbed my $100 worth of lice fighting over-the-counter medicine and went straight to ground zero… my four-year olds’ head.

As I shampood and rinsed and nit-picked the kids’ hair (lice eggs are called “nits” YES, that is where the saying came from) a thought landed on my shoulders like a ton of bricks. We just exposed 8 children (some guests didn’t show-up) to LICE and I think I have to call their parents to give them fair warning.

I asked my mom for her thoughts…. “do I have to?”

“Well, I don’t think I would tell that Joanie, she WILL DIE! She seems very particular.”

“But are you sure? If they shampoo tomorrow they can prevent further lice procreation on their children’s’ heads.”

I texted a friend: “Do I have too?”

“Yes,” she said. I did. So with a red face that I just knew they could see through the phone, I explained. “It was so nice to meet you last night. I’m calling this morning because I’ve got some bad news… Sally might have BUGS CRAWLING ALL OVER HER HEAD RIGHT NOW been exposed to lice.”

So much for new friends.

Honestly, we were lucky and everyone was nice and very calm, even Joanie.

I am happy to report after nit-picking, lice shampoo, a homemade concoction that included vaseline and 3 days of peanut butter scrubbing and then a trip to the salon to remove the vaseline, we have won the war. The lice are gone. The vaseline still lingers, but the lice have disappeared. And I haven’t had any reports from parents that their child contracted lice in our home.
Lice, lice go away

But this wasn’t our only victory. Tuesday I asked my sweet shy child, “Did you talk to anyone at school today?” First, I got an adamant head shake “NO.”

“Really, no one?” I persisted.

“Well, I did talk to Laura for a minute… you know the girl I met at our party. She is nice.”
First and Third Grade

Oh those summer nights

Today I went to school and helped with the back to school teachers’ luncheon. The end of school year luncheon was in the same room, run by the same volunteers, with the same guests in May. It felt like we were just in that cafeteria yesterday saying goodbye to another school year. Did the summer really go by that fast?

I drove away from school feeling so sad. Had we done everything that we planned to do during the break? Did the kids have fun? Why did I have to yell at them so much? My husband says that being an only child I just don’t understand that the bickering is normal… maybe I should have brushed it off more. And I can’t please everyone, right? Why did I let it get to me when just one of them was complaining when I took them somewhere fabulous… couldn’t I have rolled with it a bit better?

When we were on vacation last week I got to see my children through my friends’ eyes. They are wonderful and kind and precious and their manners don’t seem to be as bad as I thought they were (I was convinced Emily Post would have Child Protective Services arrest me if she ever happened to walk in on dinner at our house). I was so sad today that they are about to leave me for 5 days a week to go back to school. And I was feeling guilty that maybe I had been too harsh on them and that I wasted time on discipline/reprimanding that could have been spent having fun.

But then, I came home.

The sitter arrived at 9 a.m. and I asked her to limit the “screen time” today both on the tv and gaming devices (my iPad, her iPhone, or whatever electronic device they can get their little grubby paws on) and gave a few instructions on lunch. She was staying until 3 o’clock so that means I challenged her to 6 hours in my home with no TV or games. She did it (yeah!) but she was so frazzled.

When I walked in the door the kids reeked of chocolate (I don’t think I’ve ever used those two words- “reeked” and “chocolate” in the same sentence) after a later confessed reconnaissance expedition into the pantry. The playroom was littered with thousands of puzzle pieces and plastic horses. My 4-year-old had not changed out of her pajamas nor her night-time pull up for the entire day and decided that this had been a good idea because she did not have to waste any play time to visit the toilet (which she has been trained to use for at least a year and a half). AND reportedly my oldest had been yelling “this is boring, I would rather be at school” at the babysitter, for most of the day (note to self: plan boring day with sitter a week before 4th grade starts so son is dying to start back to school).

Don’t they sound like little angels? Well, they are, REALLY, they are… but I think it is time for all of us to have a little change of scenery. And maybe a little academic stimulation (I’m afraid Phineus or Ferb could be sucking the brain cells out of their precious little heads every time someone turns on the Disney Channel).

As I waved goodbye to the babysitter, whom we might never see again, I thought IT IS TIME. We are all ready for school to begin. And next week, when that bell rings, and the kids are safely in their new seats in class I can reminisce from my quiet home about the Summer of 2012. I’ll forget about any fighting, whining, crying, complaining or disrespectful craziness that might have happened, and just appreciate the good stuff.

It is official. The Summer of 2012 will go down in Kallaher history as fun and exciting, yet relaxing and filled with great family bonding moments. We laughed hard, tanned well (we still don’t know where Chloe gets that dark skin) and tried a few new things too (golf, horseback riding, reading…).

And tomorrow… we are going to iron all of the uniforms, and get their new backpacks packed and if you are looking for us on Monday morning, we’ll be the smiling family in the first car in the carpool line.

South Beach

My favorite parts of vacation

Last week, my family and I travelled to Estes Park, Colorado from our home in Miami, Florida. We were able to escape the humidity and enjoy the beautiful mountains while spending time with our closest friends. It was a wonderful week.

19 of us stayed in a gorgeous house plus guest house on the edge of Rocky Mountain National Park.

First One Up

I thought I’d share a few of my favorite moments via my Instagram photos. (My Instagram posts sadly ended on Thursday when I dropped my phone from the gondola bridge on the mountain and it smashed into several pieces. At least I was able to save the hardrive):

There were 5 six-year-olds with us, the girls and Max.

the 6 year olds

Max was such a great sport and really got along great with everyone, except when we went bumper boat riding with water guns!

About half way through their ride Max stood up in his seat and seemed to be yelling at the other kids while his brother still navigated their boat around the pond. All of us on shore kept yelling for him to sit, but he just wouldn’t seem to listen. Finally, the driver ended the ride and Max’s boat came ashore and we realized that he wasn’t yelling at the other children, but the parents: “how dare you shoot me in the eye with water,” he scolded. “I will never listen to any of you EVER AGAIN.” Not only the boats armed with guns, but the off shore observers also got their turn. It appeared Max took a shot straight in the eye from someone on land and he was not amused. We (the adults) soon received a puppy dog-eyed apology for the tongue lashing after our belly laughs at the tow-headed’s tenacity.

When a bear ran across our back yard for the week two moms ran for pots and pans while the other two grabbed their cameras. Can you guess how this blogger reacted? I was armed and ready to make some loud kitchen music before my friend got this shot! It turned-out no noise was necessary.. He just ran on by!

19 of us went fishing and came home with only one fish!

the 4 year olds

Estes Park

While the kids were at camp we hiked and conquered Deer Mountain.

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2 moms and 6 kids went river rafting and our guide said it was the lightest “8 load” he had ever navigated down the Poudre River!

But my favorite part was just living and eating at this wonderful house in the beautiful place with our family and close friends!