Saturday, December 31, 2005

Random Comments

Okay, I'm guilty. I haven't posted in forever. (See Jay's post about the holidays and you'll know why.) I will post in more detail later, but I'm checking my email and some show is on about the cutest child stars, and it's hosted by these two hot young women, one of whom I finally recognize as Candace Cameron, the girl who played D.J. on Full House. The other one, not sure. Then Candace calls her Keisha, and I realize this really slim, hot girl is the girl who played Rudy on The Cosby Show. Looks like a model now! Wow she grew up much prettier than you woulda thought.

Also, I have a dear friend who's 33, and we were discussing movies we might want to see last night, and she asks what's Munich? I said, you know it's about the 1968 Olympics when the Israeli athletes were killed by the Palestinian terrorists. She goes "huh?" Yeah, I'm old. It's official.

More next week when the holidays are over.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Walk the Line

Hmmmm, that last post was really too long and probably should have been broken up into two or three. Gotta stop doing that.

So, went to see Walk the Line with Andy and Jay. I was never a huge Johnny Cash fan though I did appreciate his talent and legendary status, and I was familiar with most the songs used in this move. A few comments: Reese Witherspoon is WAY prettier than June Carter, and I think sings better, but she did a fabulous job. Joaquin Phoenix is weird, but a really intense actor, and as the movie progressed he just sort of BECAME Johnny Cash, somehow. Let me just say that the two times they sang a duet of Jackson, I got goosebumps. Both times. HUGE amount of chemistry between the two. Great movie. No nudity. Very few cuss words. Go see it.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Happy Holidays . . .

So, I've taken a seasonal job at Kohl's so we will have some Christmas cash. Now, most people don't give much thought to the workings behind a powerhouse department store chain like Kohl's, but let me tell you they take their business very seriously, especially in the area of customer service. I went to a three hour orientation, then two days of 6 hour training, including watching several videos and taking two tests on the computer. Kohl's believes in a "Yes We Can" policy, and gives the Associates (that's what they call the worker bees there) the power to do quite a bit, including honoring a sale price on the customer's word rather than checking, giving some extra discounts up to 50%, no more than two customers in line at once (Christmas time being the exception but they set up a queue line), etc. I have been quite impressed. Except for the fact that the training CD and booklet I used to train on the register told me to do some things that were incorrect and not how they do them (being anal retentive as I am, that really bugged me a lot). But, all in all, everyone I've met has been extremely nice, and I think it will be fun, though the first night I worked a shift at the register, my feet were hurting so bad (partly because I wore some shoes that were a little tight). But I saw several people I knew come through my line, and I think I did a pretty darn good job for someone who hasn't done retail in 20+ years. I just hope I can keep up the pace along with building my massage business and working 16 hours a week at my office doing insurance stuff.

I've been stressing a lot in the past week or so, to the point I have a knot in my trapezius muscle (the one between your neck and shoulder), and at one point yesterday I just had to step outside and take a few deep breaths. And worse than that, yesterday I actually got teary-eyed when I heard the Christmas Shoes song (which I normally hate), on the radio. You know I'm on the edge when that happens since I'm just not a weeper. Though Christmas music can put me there quicker than any - it's just that so many Christmas songs have powerful memories attached to them - both bitter and sweet. Jay says, and he's right of course, he's always right, darn him - that my problem is that I've lived my entire life in a very structured way and all of my coping skills are aligned with that paradigm, and now my life is very unstructured, meaning that each day has a little bit different schedule, and I just don't have a set of coping skills for that kind of lifestyle, and consequently I am stressed and anxious about being able to get everything fit in somewhere, and juggling a lot of smaller tasks and time frames. Sometimes I'm not sure what the schedule is going to be until that day, and believe me, if you know me, you know I am a person who likes to put things on my calendar WAY in advance if I can. Jay and Andy call me The Scheduler, and they are only partly kidding me. These days, I work 4 hours a morning, four mornings a week, plus whatever Kohls gives me which will never be consistent, plus whenver I can schedule massages here and there, plus making time to pick up Andy every day, plus finding time to clean the house, do the laundry, pay the bills, run errands, market my massage practice, and schedule various social things, not to mention it's the holiday season so there's decorating the house, Christmas shopping, two birthdays and Thanksgiving in November, etc., etc. I honestly have no idea how I got everything done when I was working full time, but I think that what happens is that when you know you just have this many hours in the evening plus the weekend, you are more diligent about making sure you get everything done at certain times, etc.

So, bottom line, I've been a very tense person lately. It's been a really weird year - first working at MISD, then going to school half days and having free afternoons, then doing my internship all day, then being completely unemployed for two months or more, then slowly getting hours to work and stuff. When I had too much free time I didn't manage it well, and was griping about needing more stuff to do. And now, well, you get my drift . . . there must be a happy medium somewhere. I also have gained several pounds in the last six months, enough to put me up another size. Very depressing. My own fault. Too much time sitting in front of the computer or TV, and eating and snacking late and poorly, and no exercise at all. It's getting serious as far as clothes fitting. I have begun trying to walk several times a week, not only for weight loss but stress control, but I am having a hard time fitting that in too. I need to walk in the afternoon, because it's dark in the morning and at night and I don't walk in the dark. Lindsay and I are talking about trying to walk together and pushing Sam in the jogging stroller, but we'll see how hard that is to schedule. I find it way too easy to postpone. And then I try to find something to wear and everything's too tight and I look at this belly and just loathe the way I look. Geez, I sound like someone on Oprah or Dr. Phil. This entry has turned into my therapy entry I guess. Started out to be about Kohl's didn't it?

To end on a happier note, I love, love, love Christmas music, and I found out yesterday that KLTY, the station I rarely listen to anymore, is already playing it all the time. Christmas music can lift my mood like nothing else. I love the holidays, even when we are too busy. I love the food, the music, the decorations, visting with family and friends, all that stuff. I have incredibly fond memories of watching all those sappy Christmas variety specials on TV when I was a kid - never missed the Andy Williams one or A Charlie Brown Christmas, which I have seen every single Christmas since 1965 when it first showed on TV, and watch several times each season now since we have the video. Yep, I love Christmas, and not for the presents, but all the other stuff, the things that call forth the sweet memories like a genie from a lamp. Happy holidays!!!!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

At a loss for words . . .

One of Andy's friends on the Martin Cross Country team was hit by a car yesterday while riding his bike, and today he died after being taken off life support. I did not know him, but he was the same age as Andy and he says that he and Kevin and Taylor were good pals on the team. I am totally at a loss of what to say to my son. He seems sad but mostly just says it doesn't seem real yet. I have never, at least so far in life, lost a friend, only parents and grandparents, so I have no experience to call on to comfort him. I don't know if the boy was a believer in Jesus or not, but I hope so. Andy made a t-shirt that said "Kevin Wood Is My Hero." I asked him about it and he just said it was the kind of thing Kevin would have liked. I just told him that whatever he felt like doing to honor his friend was appropriate. He is taking an extra shirt to school, and if there is a memorial of some sort set up at school, he will leave the shirt that he made there. I think we will drive by the spot where it happened (Bowen and Green Oaks) to see if something is set up there as well. I want to say something, do something, to help him feel better, but he doesn't seem to want to talk about it much. Maybe in the days to come he will. It makes me so sad that he has to deal with something like this at 14 - you shouldn't have to be mourning your friends at 14.

All I can seem to think about is the parents - how devastated we would be if it had been Andy. It's hard to even get my mind around that thought. It just brings home the fact that you never know when today is your last day on earth, and so you better live like it was. Hug those you love just one more time, tell them you love them, do something nice for someone, let the housework and laundry go and do something fun with your kids . . . those all seem like cliches, but think about it - what's gonna matter at the end . . . whenever it comes. Tomorrow will be a very hard day for the freshmen at Martin (and the others as well). Pray for them, and for Kevin's family, especially his parents. There are no words . . .

Has it really been 30 years?

I am a huge Good Morning America fan. I've been watching that show for a very long time. I remember watching when Lindsay was a baby, but I probably was watching before that, and pretty much have watched it every morning since at least 1980 or sooner, excepting vacations, illness, etc. when I wasn't near a TV at 7am. I should say, watched a portion of it, depending on what time I had to be at work. But for sure at least the first half hour to hour.

Today they are having their 30th Anniversary Celebration Show, and it's quite a trip watching it. Seeing news clips from the last 30 years really takes me back. Man, the stories, the history, the clothes, the hairdos . . . I'm really old. But it is so fun to go down memory lane with this show that has been a part of my day for so many years.

GMA was the background of my life, especially during Christmas vacations, etc. when I would get the pleasure of seeing the whole show (they were playing the old theme music and I had a major flashback). I loved David Hartman and Joan Lunden, and was crushed when they left. I was there through the days of Kathie Lee Johnson (Gifford) - meh, and several others. I was there when it was Joan and Charlie Gibson, who had to grow on me. I was crushed when Spencer Christian left, but now I love Tony Perkins (who I hear is leaving also, dang it). When Joan Lunden left, I thought the show would never be the same. She had a baby around the same time I had Lindsay (she even had another daughter named Lindsay). Eventually they brought on Diane, who I loved from the first day. I was there during the unfortunate period when Charlie and Diane left and some new people who I don't really even remember filled in and it was just not the same. But then Charlie and Diane came back, and it was a good day in GMA land. Yep, I'm old, but it's been quite a party.

Wow, Carlos Santana is on GMA now, doing Black Magic Woman. Man, he's still got it after all these years. Great music. And he looks really cool in an all white suit and beret. I guess he'd look cool in anything. Yeh, I'm reaaaaalllly old. But I'm still cool. . .

I know this topic may be of no interest to most people, but it's what I'm thinkin about today.

Charlie has become my favorite all time news guy. And Diane Sawyer is funny, smart, and just seems like the coolest chick ever. In fact, when someone asks what famous people you'd like to meet or have dinner with, they are on my list. I would love to just hear stories about all the interesting people they've met and places they've been, and they are both so brilliant. And of course I once had aspirations of journalism, so I guess I'm a Diane Sawyer wannabe (not necessarily on TV, but the journalist part).

Monday, October 24, 2005

In the Most Delicious Way . . .

Okay, that silly song phrase is from an Arrested Development Season 2 Episode, and if you are a fan you'll get it. Love that Tobias!

We went to CiCi's Pizza tonight at about 9:30, because we had made a trip to Target and it was late and we hadn't had dinner and it was close and cheap. We were the only customers there other than one couple, and they close at 10pm. The manager introduced himself to us and was so cheerful and attentive to us, and asked if we wanted any kind of pizza they didn't have out, and since Andy and I love the BBQ pizza, we mentioned it and he cooked one up for us special (I highly recommend it!) and brought us several pieces to our table. By this time we were the only customers in the restaurant. He stopped by our table several times to see if we needed anything, and then, to top off the great service, he brought us a box and told us to load it up with all the pizza we wanted. BONUS! He said the last customers get to take home all the pizza they want! We loaded up pizza and those incredible cinnamon rolls they have.

I love CiCi's and I don't know why we don't remember to eat there more often. I've decided we really get ripped off by Pizza Hut! Cause pizza ingredients all are about the same cost, but their pizza sure as heck costs more. Just remember that next time you want pizza. You can pay $3.99 for all you can eat, which will include dessert and salad and pasta, or you can pay $25.00 for a coupla large pizzas. Yes, you have to go there instead of delivery, but they will make any kind you want and it's sooooo good and fresh!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Will the real Kermit the Frog please stand up?

Yesterday Sam (he's the cutie in the pic to the left), my grandson who's 2, wanted to see Miss Piggy on my computer, and rather than go to the usual, I decided to search for something different to let him see. I stumbled upon a site called, and it had an article about how Disney, who now owns the rights to the Muppet characters (that's scary enough as it is) since apparently Jim Henson's company kinda split apart. I've included a quote here that tells pretty much the gist of the article:

You see, Disney paid a lot of money for the Muppet characters, and now they want to step up their campaign to get the Muppets back into the public eye. That's fantastic, and that's what we all want. Unfortunately, the way they want to do that is to have Kermit appearing simultaneously in different places. There'll be a Kermit performing on a Disney cruise line, and a Kermit greeting customers at the World of Disney store in New York, and a Kermit making an appearance on a local news show in Kansas City. And then somewhere in the world, hopefully, is a Kermit that's performed by Steve Whitmire. You remember Steve Whitmire, right? The guy who performs Kermit?

I, for one, as a 30+ year HUGE Muppet fan, longer really if you count how much I loved Rowlf the Dog on the Jimmy Dean Show when I was a kid, am thoroughly incensed and offended by this new venture. Muppets are real, at least to those of us who really love them, and they are individuals. Here is another quote that explains it better than I can:

One of the things that I like best about the Muppets is that they can appear out in the real world -- on talk shows, or awards shows -- and they're treated like they're real celebrities. That creates this amazing double-vision feeling, tickling our suspension of disbelief in a uniquely pleasurable way. Just by being there, the Muppets are poking fun at the show they're appearing on, turning the real world of show business into a parody. In order to do that, the Muppets need to be "real" to the audience. Kermit needs to be Kermit, not just some puppeteer playing Kermit.

If you are a Muppet lover and agree, please do the following: First go to the Touch Pigs site at and read the whole article. Then click on this link,, and get more information and addresses so you can write a letter to protest this.

I know this may seem like a silly cause to many people, but I raised three children, one in the 70s, one in the 80s, and one in the 90s, and now a grandson, all of whom have loved and learned from the Muppets, and who will always have special childhood memories of all of them, and I personally have derived so much joy and laughter from them over the years. I own all the Muppet movies (Muppet Christmas Carol is our family favorite and we always watch it several times over the holidays), and my grandson watches at least one of them every single time he is at my home. One of his early words as he was learning to really talk was Hupmits, which was how his little 15 month old mind said Muppets. He is now a little over 2 and can clearly say Muppets, and Muppets Space (his favorite), and can identify by name all of the main characters, including Pepe, Rizzo, Gonzo, and all the rest. The Muppets are a part of our family history going into the third generation, and I cringe to think of them being commercialized in a way that destroys their unique individuality. Jim Henson must be shaking his head in disgust . . .


Monday, October 17, 2005

Who can say if I've been changed for the better ?

But because I knew you, I have been changed for good. The main lyric line from the chorus of my favorite song from Wicked. It applies to my relationship iwth a dear girlfriend that has gone to a deeper level in the last six months. Today I found the courage to confront this friend about an incident that happened last night, not a big deal but something that hurt my feelings quite a bit (I probably overreacted).

Now that might not sound like a big deal, but in my entire adult life, I cannot think of a time (there may have been a couple but I don't remember any) where I actually was able to step out of my comfort zone enough to tell a girlfriend, hey, so and so that you did or said really hurt my feelings or made me angry or the like. My practice has always been to just say nothing, stuff my feelings and act like it never happened, or to talk to someone else about it. Even as a child I did this, though as a teen I had my share of silly snits with girlfriends. But my innate people pleasing nature, coupled with a conflict avoidance personality and a fear that if I say what I'm really thinking people will not like me anymore, pretty much has resulted in a very unhealthy way of dealing with conflict, with the exception of those very closest people (meaning my spouse and kids - not even my parents). With them, I felt safe enough to express my true feelings (sometimes too much I guess) knowing they would love me no matter what.

So though this may seem small in the scheme of life, it was a really huge step in personal growth for me, to step out of the "safe" zone and take the risk to tell her that she hurt my feelings. And of course, she totally understood, especially since I reminded her of a similar incident that had happened to her with a couple of other friends and she got her feelings hurt. She is much like me in her difficulty in forming female friendships, desire to please everyone, and conflict avoidance. We both come from pretty dysfunctional family backgrounds and have survived and turned out relatively normal, but with our own weirdnesses that come from that.

This day was kinda sucky in that I had a lot of things weighing on my mind, but this particular personal risk that paid off kinda makes the rest of it a little less heavy. I guess I need to step out of that zone more often . . .

Saturday, October 15, 2005

My Review of Wicked

Wow, I can't think of a proper superlative - how about supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! If you get a chance to see this show, SEE IT! It was well worth the ticket price! We were on the 16th row, and the venue is small, smaller than Bass Hall, so we could see the facial expressions and costume and set details. It was awesome. Fantastic music, great story. Incredible singing, both from the leads, who were fantastic, and the ensemble, which sounded much larger than it was. Many funny things that you must see the show to get, many clever references to the Wizard of Oz movie without actually tying it in. The show won a Tony for Best Musical, and I can totally see why. And bonus, we had no traffic troubles at all - straight shot down I-30, pulled into the parking lot right across the street, and when we left, once we got out of the parking lot, hopped on 30 and boogied home with no traffic.

All in all, a great happy early birthday to me! On a side note, I got a cool t-shirt that says Devy Gravity (a term from the show) on the front and Wicked on the back. It looks like a baseball t-shirt but with little cap sleeves. The funny thing is, those shirts are cut very small, "girl sized" instead of unisex, but are usually extremely tight, baby t fit. I got a 2X, which is the largest size they had, and it's a perfect fit, but believe me, I'm NOT a 2X. I would normally be a large or maybe extra large depending on the fit of the shirt. Kinda funny to me.

GO SEE WICKED, or at least buy the soundtrack. Can't get the music out of my head, neither can Andy.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Oh Yeah, WICKED!!!!

SCORE! Oh man, today I scored four tickets to see Wicked tomorrow night!!!!!! Me, Andy, Tiffany, and Peggy Moulden are going (Peter decided not to go so after all). Josh (Peggy's son) is looking for a single ticket so he can go too. Been trying for over a week to find some, at regular price of course, and no luck, all sold out. Today I decided I should check once more on Ticketmaster. I found one single ticket, but we needed four, so I decided to call the box office to see if they had any last minute tickets. They didn't, so I asked for a Ticketmaster number where I could actually talk to a live person to see if they had some singles all on the same night. I got a guy on the phone, told him what I wanted, and in a few minutes he came back and said - well, the only thing I have is for Friday night, but I do have four together. I said "you what?" So of course I begged him to hang on for a sec while I called Tiffany to make sure she could go tomorrow night before I committed my credit card number since there are no refunds. She of course said something to the effect of "OMIGOD, YOU DIDN'T!" so I got back on the other phone and told the guy I loved him and he made my day!

Now, you might be wondering why this is such a big deal and why in the world we are so excited about this. I only recently heard anything much about this musical, when Tiffany mentioned it to me and I borrowed Jody Lee's soundtrack because she told me the music was so great. Wow, some of the best music I've heard since Phantom! Very different, not at all like Phantom, but very memorable, clever lyrics and just some incredible singing. It is basically the story of the life of the Wicked Witch of the West and how she got that way. Not really to do with the Wizard of Oz, and yet it is. You can read about it online here and read a more detailed synopsis of the book (which in musical theater terms is the story part of the show) and also about the song lyrics, etc. here It is adapted from the novel Wicked - The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, by Gregory Maguire, and is a fascinating twist on the possible backstory of the Wicked Witch we all know and love from Wizard of Oz. It is a very political story, and the nature of good vs. wicked is explored. Brilliant, in my humble opinion!

Cannot wait! I will write my glowing review later. You may be jealous of me now . . .

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Stuff and Things

Hmmmm, haven't posted in a while. Watching a lot of TV - new season in full swing. Lots of good TV these days. If you haven't watched Lost, I highly recommend you rent the first season, catch up and start watching. Most amazingly complicated and fascinating show I've watched in a long time.

My favorite show list, in order of love: Gilmore Girls, Arrested Development, Lost, Everwood (those top four are my personal Must See TV), Desperate Housewives, Boston Legal, Alias, Nip Tuck (my guilty pleasure - I know I'm bad, but it's a great, edgy show, definitely an R rating - can't believe they can do and say that stuff on basic cable), Grey's Anatomy (love Sandra Oh and that Dr. McDreamy), ER (I'm still hanging with this show after 10 years, but I miss Carter and Dr. Greene), and a few new faves, Veronica Mars, My Name is Earl (hi-freakin-larious), Kitchen Confidential (can you say Bradley Yummy Cooper?), and The Office (still deciding on that one). I watched Supernatural once, it was really scary, but haven't watched again. Watched House, liked it, may try to catch it now and again.

Oh, and of course Sex and the City reruns. Love love love that show. Wish I had those kind of girlfriends. Yeah.

I admit it, as you must already be thinking, I watch a LOT of TV. I LOVE television. I was raised on TV, I am of the TV generation, and television shows throughout the years have defined the pivotal periods of my life, along with popular music. It shaped who I am in a really core way. There is a lot of really, really good writing these days on TV, and I am a big fan of good writing and good acting. I HATE reality shows, with the exception of American Idol (not even really sure why I like it but I do), and I used to like Real World until it got all skeevy. NEVER watch Survivor, or any of those bachelor or bachelorette humiliation shows or anything else. I like scripted shows with great writing that make me laugh and cry, not that make me squirm with the discomfort of someone else's pain (again, American Idol is the exception there).

I also LOVE movies. And I love to read. If I could spend my time doing anything I wanted, I would read, watch movies and TV and travel all the time. Better yet I'd write books and be a wildly successful writer who travels a lot. Hey, I can dream, can't I?

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Real Women Have Curves

Okay, so today I bought a pair of Lucky Brand jeans. Now, I've bought a lot of jeans in my life, but I've never, ever paid this much for them. Not gonna say how much, but it was probably too much, depending on your point of view. So why, you may ask, did I pay a most likely inflated price for a mere pair of jeans? Well, as most of my fellow girls (hmmm, that sounds funny) know, a good fitting pair of jeans is really priceless. I shall just say here that over the years, my body shape has changed from a nice, well proportioned size 9 to, well I'm not really gonna say, but let's just say I'm somewhere at the top of the size chart, and sometimes those are tight, but I'm too small for the plus size clothes in most stores. So what's a girl to do? I've given serious consideration to designing my own clothing line of hip, yet age appropriate, stylish and GOOD FITTING clothes for women size 14 to 18. Clothes that don't look like someone's grandma, and clothes that don't have huge armholes or presume that if you are a larger size girl, you have huge boobs and a huge waistline. Where are the shirts whose buttons don't gape open at the chest, and yet have a neckline that fits me instead of a linebacker for the 49ers? Where are the tshirts that fit without clinging, come down past the top of my pants, and yet don't have sleeves down to my elbows and armholes down past my bra? Where are the jeans that fit waist, hips, thighs, snugly but with room to breathe and move around without cutting off my air?

I digress. Back to the jeans. So I went to The Gap and tried on a pair of their new "curvy" jeans. I'm a curvy girl, right? Should be just the ticket. So I got the largest size they had in the store, which is the size I usually wear. (They make larger sizes but you have to order them online - I would never order jeans without trying them on!) Put them on, with some effort. Very tight in the thighs - I felt like that girl in the Moto Razr commercial. Zip - button. Look in the mirror - not bad, a little tight but not bad. Turn around for the all important butt view, and what have we here but my old friend the "butt gap." You know the one, where the waist fits you in the front but when you turn around there's about a 3 or 4 inch gap between your actual waist (or hip) and the pants. So I go out to show Lindsay, and she says "just wear a belt." Well, I don't like to tuck in my shirts due to another anatomical problem area, so that's out. Then the helpful young sales clerk guy said "Maybe you should try the Curvy Jeans." To which I replied with just a hint of sarcasm, irony if you will, "These ARE the Curvy Jeans." "Oh," he said.

So we're on to Lane Bryant. I've never had much luck buying clothese there are their smallest size is usually too big for me, but I'm willing to try anything. So the nice salesgirl, who was about my size, brought me some jeans to try on, and she was quite sympathetic to my plight. The jeans were okay but didn't really fit the way I wanted - Linsdsay called them "mom jeans," you know, the ones that come all the way up to your waist. So then the salesgirl tells me that she gets Lucky jeans at The Buckle. I comment that I can't afford Lucky jeans (celebrities wear them, if that tells you anything), and she remarks that a good fitting pair of jeans is worth it and she just gets one pair and wears them all the time.

So we move on, try a couple more stores but we are at the opposite end of the mall from The Buckle and Sam's getting tired and I'm weary of trying on clothes that don't fit, so we go home.

Then today I decided, what the heck, I'll go alone to the mall to try them and if they are just awful no one will know. Well you can guess what comes next, they fit pefectly! Well, actually the first two I tried on were too tight, but just like Goldilocks, the third pair was Just Right! They are sized by waist size, so I had no earthly idea what size to even try for, and I did not want a pair of the popular shredded ones that look like they are ready for the rag pile. A very nice young lady helped me find the right style and size and didn't even smirk or chuckle when I told her I was shopping for me rather than for one of my children. (If you know The Buckle, it generally caters to the 13-25 crowd.) They are a bit too long, but bonus, they do free alterations! She offered to pin them for me right then, but I asked if I could take them home and try them with different shoes so I could figure out the right length. You know, you have to get them long enough to wear with boots or shoes with heels, but not so long that they scrunch up too much at the bottom if you wear flat shoes.

I cringed at the price, but I consoled myself that I will only need this one pair (maybe for several years!). One bright side, I went to get a pair of all purpose jeans/pants shoes with a heel, to replace a worn out pair I got rid of last winter. I can't do tall boots because of yet another anatomical problem area - big calves and ankles. Maybe I need to design those too. So I found a pair that kind of look like boots under jeans, but they are really comfy. I looked all over the mall and found these at Foleys, and was prepared to pay more than I usually do for shoes just to get a comfortable pair, since comfort is almost as important as style these days. So when I went to check out, they were about half the price I thought they were! Double bonus! Don't know if they were on sale, or if I just read the price wrong, but either way, it took a little of the sting off the jeans tab.

Okay, so if anyone reads this who can design clothes and has any ideas, get with me and we'll start a specialty clothing line. I even have a name for it. Reality Chick. Yep, that's my idea. But I have no idea what to do with it. I just know that there must be other women out there who have the same fit problems I do, who are not plus size, but are on the "real woman" side of the size chart. Who want to look stylish, trendy, even edgy sometimes, without looking like a grandma (well, I AM a grandma, but you get my drift) or a sad woman clinging to her 20s. Oh, and the clothes don't need to cost as much as a ski vacation either!

I don't want much. Just clothes that fit. That fit a real sized woman with an imperfect but well proportioned moderately plus size body and make me look FABULOUS! Yeah, that's it . . .

Saturday, September 24, 2005

He has plans for me . . .

Wow,haven't posted in a while. Just not much to say, been waiting around for my license. But . . . I GOT IT, FINALLY. Well, sort of. I mailed in my stuff on July 22 and have been checking on it, and was told it was "in the mail." Finally, last Thursday, I was fed up and I called and just asked if they could please send me another one since this one obviously got lost in the mail. Well, the kind lady told me that they don't reissue temporary licenses, but that she could fax me a verification document that states I've been licensed. Now, I wish someone had told me that a couple of weeks ago . . . but I'm thankful this lady was kind enough to tell me. I had her fax it to the church, and I picked it up Friday. So now I'm official! I framed my little faxed piece of paper and hung it on the wall in my massage room. Now - well, now I'm really scared, to be perfectly candid, that I must now put all this learning and wishing and planning into action, and actually find clients and get them to come to me for massages and enjoy it so they will come back, and actually make a living at this. In my whole adult life, I've never been in a situation like this where the amount of money I make is totally unknown and dependent on my efforts and on good fortune or luck or whatever. It's very scary. I know I can always get another kind of job, but still, I've invested a lot of time and a lot of money both in school and supplies and in just living off savings while I have not been working, and I don't want to be a failure and have it all be for nothing. Of course, a couple of good friends have counseled me, wisely I know, that just the fact that I had the courage to really reach for something new that I wanted is an accomplishment in itself. But we do have bills to pay, so I can't be frivolous about these things. I am putting it all in God's hands, or should I say leaving it there, because I believe He is guiding me on this path, and so I believe things will happen the way they are supposed to.

On that note, I have an awesome story of God's incredible grace and demonstration of how he has such great plans for our lives. Today I had a long phone conversation with my dear friend Sandy, who moved to Arkansas last spring because her husband Mitch was called to serve as music minister in a church. She and I are very much alike in so many ways, and we both have the best of intentions of staying in touch but we just get busy with life. We think of each other often, but we just don't seem to get around to calling. She just happened to be at home and have time to talk, and we had an aweseome conversation. Last fall, she had just started doing the Believing God study by Beth Moore, and she and I and a few other women went to a Women's Ministry conference in San Antonio where Beth was one of the speakers. It was a totally cool and fun weekend, with some great conversation and sharing and laughing. Just one of those memorable weekends with girlfriends where everything just gels really well. During that weekend, Sandy and I both felt that God had specifically ordained us to both be there, as there were some things that came up that we both really needed to hear, and also we just had some similar things going on in our lives with our daughters, who are the same age and both are married with young toddlers. We just found that we were both dealing with some issues and it was great to share those things and pray with each other. We committed to be email prayer buddies, but that all kinda fell apart when she moved away, because the move kind of happened suddenly. Tying back to the Bible study - at the time she began to do the study, she and Mitch began praying for God to bring him a church position (he had been out of the ministry since his divorce some years before) and the position in Arkansas came about much sooner than they would have dreamed. Well, during the conference, which was BEFORE they knew for sure they'd be moving and accepting this church position, Sandy and I had several conversations about her recent deep conviction that God was moving her to work with children and troubled girls. Now she confessed to me that she had never ever wanted to work with children, and she couldn't really understand why she was feeling this, but that maybe she would work in an afterschool program or something along that line. She also shared with me at that time that she felt a strong pull toward working with troubled young girls, but wasn't sure where that might lead either.

Well, today she told me that recently their church asked Mitch to take on youth ministry as well since they had lost their youth minister. He was already handling music and family ministries, so he told the church that he could not handle it all, but that if they would hire Sandy as his assistant, that would be great and they could do the job together. So, she is now the Children's Coordinator!!!!!!! On staff at their church!!!!! When she shared this with me today, I just got all teary eyed, and reminded her of our conversations back last November, and we just talked about how God is so good and how he was preparing her even then, before she even understood why, to do the work he had for her this fall, almost a year later!!!! It is such an incredible testimony of how her obedience and her believing God to do something amazing in her life and to use her however he wanted has resulted in her being given more than she could ever have imagined. She is also teaching the Believing God study several times a week to women in her church. Now that might not sound so amazing, but if you know Sandy, she has always said, oh I could never teach a study or get up in front of people and talk. And now she is doing something that a year ago she would have told you she could not, would not, ever do! I just had to share this amazing testimony, and I know that some of you who read my blog know Sandy will rejoice with her and for her and will pray for her continued blessings in her ministry.

It was such an encouragement to me to talk to her today, and honestly I don't know what prompted me to call her today, of all days, when I've been meaning to do so for months. She is firmly convinced that all of these great things have come her way because she made a choice to believe God for great things in her life when she was doing that Bible study. And that very same Bible study, which I started after she shared with me how amazing it was, is the very thing that was the catalyst in starting me down the road of changing careers and starting on a new adventure in life.

I kinda wonder if God prompted me to call her today because I was feeling scared and worried and discouraged and wondering if I have made a big mistake, and talking to her was just a reminder that God will do wondrous things in our lives if we will place them in his hands. My favorite scripture since I made Jesus Lord of my life has been Jer. 29:11-13. That pretty much says it all right there, and it has proven true in my life over and over again. He does have plans for us - all we must do is seek Him with all our hearts. Thanks Sandy for being Jesus in my life today!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Unto the least of these . . .

Watching TV last night and Harry Connick Jr. was in NO to help out. He grew up there, and was in his old neighborhood to check on his father's house and see if it withstood the storm, which it did. Then a neighbor came by and told him about a man who was lying on his porch down the street or somewhere else nearby (can't recall) and needed help. They drove the boat down there (yeah, they were in a boat) and this old, frail black man was lying on his front porch, totally naked, too weak to move or go for help. Harry had on waders and a t shirt, and he took off his t shirt and put it on this poor man to just give him a shred of dignity, and then carried him to the boat and they took him to get food and shelter. I just teared up - it brought to mind that Jesus told us, whatever you do for the least of these, you have done it for me. What a beautiful example of this very thing. Giving that man the shirt off his back and carrying him in his arms like a baby, taking him to safety. I know plenty of celebrities are doing concerts and benefits and telethons, but the ones who are impressing me the most are the ones who are personally going into the trenches and getting sweaty and dirty and serving and loving on people. You can see in their faces that it's not just for publicity. Harry, Julia Roberts (no makeup, jeans and a t-shirt, hugging and crying with women and their babies and some teenage girls), John Travolta and his wife, Lisa Marie Presley, Chris Rock, Jamie Foxx, just to name a few. Doing what they can to help and to encourage and love on people, to make them feel they have value. That's what people want - they want to feel like they matter. Don't we all?

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Thoughts from the Safety of My Home

Wow, so I am blown away by the Katrina coverage. I've been watching every day, and it just gets worse and worse, and I keep feeling I should do something. Yes, I'm going to purchase some needed items and donate them through Jay's work. But that just doesn't seem like enough. To quote Casablanca, paraphrased, my problems don't amount to a hill of beans compared to those of the survivors.

It has been made clear in the last day or two that they are hurt and resentful at being called "refugees," understandably so. They live here, they are not seeking refuge from another country. They are survivors.

This is America - things like this don't happen here. I mean things like looting and raping of children and people left to die in filth beyond the comprehension of most all of us, people who have nothing and know nothing and are hopeless and helpless. I have been hearing lots of people saying, would this have happened if the hurricane had hit in an affluent, predominately white area? I must confess I seriously doubt it. It seems to me that race and class have played a part here, though most of us don't want to acknowledge that, most importantly our government. On Oprah today, she was touring New Orleans and talking to the Chief of Police and the Mayor. The Chief was almost unable to speak while telling Oprah about small children who were being raped and even killed inside the Superdome, and telling her of one of his officers whom he had convinced to take a day off and who had gone home and killed himself. The Mayor is angry - many of you have probably seen or heard him on the news. Angry with the righteous anger on behalf of the people under his jurisdiction whom he is helpless to aid. I saw and heard stories on this Oprah episode that made me cry like none I've heard on network TV. Lisa Ling was walking the streets with a camera crew and came across a family just walking around hoping to find a place to sleep for the night. Dr. Oz, a regular Oprah guest, was at the airport trying to help ill people and also talking about the huge problem with dead bodies and why they pose such a health threat. He came upon a young woman on the side of the highway who was already getting bloated. He covered her with a shirt he found nearby because there was nothing else he could do to give her a bit of dignity.

Almost all of these people are black - 2/3 of the population of New Orleans is black, and a great number of them are poor and had no means to leave the city. I'm so tired of all the rhetoric on TV about blame, where the buck stops, etc. These people are dying, homeless, and separated from their families. I have been proud, though, to read that Texas has been praised for it's quick and efficient response, taking in over 200,000 people, though as the majority of the survivors are coming to Texas, at least first, our resources are quickly reaching their limits.

I am finding that this is more painful to watch than the 9-11 coverage. There, people were reaching out to help each other, not killing each other. These are are fellow Americans, not victims of terror, but now increasingly victims of other fellow Americans. This shakes me to my core. I feel it is just a taste of what could come, someday, in our country. We are only one disaster away from this very experience ourselves. I urge anyone who reads this to find a way to do something to help. Sorry for such a downer of an entry, but this is what's on my mind right now.

Just When You Think You Know Yourself . . .

I've been suffering from a vague malaise lately (used that $5 word in a tribute to my English nerd friends like Julie and Josh), just feeling restless and bored, in spite of the fact that I have plenty of "projects" around the house that need tending to. I felt mildly depressed and just found myself wandering around this weekend. Jay and I talked about it Saturday night and came to the conclusion that my problem is most likely - da da da dum - A LACK OF STRUCTURE. Isn't THAT exciting! Of course, if you know me very well at all, that will not come as a big surprise to you, but in a way it was a surprise to me. I've always wanted to be a stay home wife and mom, but until this summer, I have never been unemployed and at home with this much unscheduled free time since - well in my entire adult life! Two stints of six week maternity leaves, but of course I had a baby to take care of, and a school age child also, so that really was not unstructured free time. This time, since we returned from our cruise and I have been waiting on my temporary massage license, since the end of July, I have pretty much been free to do whatever I want with the small restriction that I have to pick my high school age child (the only one left at home) up from school at 2:45, and I have to be at the school at 7:30 each Tuesday morning for a couple of hours to bake cookies. Other than that, there are no particular demands on my time. Yeah, I have to do laundry and buy groceries and pay the bills, and do a few other home administration type tasks, but those take up only a small portion of my time. In theory, all this free time should be liberating and joyful . . . and it was for the first few weeks. But now, as discussed in prior blog entries, I feel guilty if I goof off too much because of aforementioned "projects," and so instead of reveling in having time to read books (which I've done little of, in spite of my love of reading), have lunch with friends (I have done some of that, but it costs money to eat out), sleep late (have done some of that, and it is glorious, I'll confess), or catch up on movies, I feel guilty that I don't get more accomplished and just feel a vague sense of unrest which I have now identified as the fact that I need structure, and apparently need to either work or have some place to be and something I am supposed to be doing at least some portion of every day. It's been a relief in a way to figure this out, but also kind of startling and unexpected to find, after years of longing for less structure and demands on my time, of wishing I didn't have to go to work, that I actually need and want to have some work to do. Of course, the real answer is, I need and want to have fulfilling and meaningful and interesting work to do, which of course are the pieces that were missing before. That said, my hope and prayer now is that my new massage therapy career with the cool women at Integrated Healthworks will indeed fill all those gaps and will be the career that meets all my needs - interesting, fulfilling and meaningful work and a schedule that allows the free time I long for when I need it. I'm still shaking my head at myself and this new understanding about me that caught me totally by surprise. In fact, I didn't really figure it out, it was Jay who said maybe lack of structure was my problem. He's my personal live-in psychologist - I'm sure blessed that he is able to look objectively at things that are making me crazy and help me sort them out. Of course I'm blessed to have him for so many other reasons, but that's certainly a nice bonus. Honey, you are the BEST! BTW, one of my classmates emailed me that she received her temp license on Saturday, so I'm hoping that means mine is on the way!

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Movie Thoughts

Watched the movie Fight Club today. Not sure why I'd never seen it before, and how I managed to never hear the twist ending (glad I didn't), but it was one of the most interesting movies I've seen in a long time. Won't give away the twist, but I just want to say that if you have not watched it because you thought it was just about a bunch of guys hitting each other, it is much, much more than that. It is a commentary about basic human nature and the search for some way of feeling alive in the numbing lives that so many people live, where they are defined by what they own or where they work, etc. It was so much different than what I expected, and I find myself thinking a lot about it in the aftermath. In light of all the things going on in New Orleans right now, where both the best and the worst of human nature is being played out on nearly every TV channel and all over the internet, this movie is a reminder of how civilized behavior can turn on a few choices in the wrong direction. Lord of the Flies is a novel that illustrates this quite well also, as does The Stand (by Stephen King). All in all a fascinating, disturbing and important movie (cool music too). Can't believe it took me so long to see it.

Also watched Sin City the other night. Wow, what a visually stunning movie! Like a comic book/film noir/B-grade detective movie come to life. Very violent, but like Kill Bill, violent in the cartoony sense (unlike Fight Club). Mickey Rourke, who used to be one of my favorite actors, is almost unrecognizable but is great in his role, and Bruce Willis is the perfect choice for this kind of movie. He can say the sort of cheezy detective speak without sounding foolish. If you are a movie buff at all, you should see this movie if for no other reason than to appreciate and marvel at the film techniques used.

Friday, September 02, 2005

School's In . . .

Still no temporary license in the mail! Still no income! This is getting kind of scary - can't go on forever not bringing in some moolah, and I'm getting pretty anxious. I have believed ever since I started this new venture that God was blessing it and taking a hand in working things out for me, and up until now things had been rocking along very smoothly. Now I know that just because it seems a little bumpy right now doesn't mean He is not still involved in what's unfolding in my life. In fact, it's quite likely that this time of uncertainty should be used as an opportunity for me to trust God even more with our finances, and with providing for our needs. It's really one of those times when if there was anything I COULD do, I would take steps to solve the problem, but I'm really helpless to do anything at all. Maybe that's just exactly where God wants me right now. I've been, well not exactly drifting away from God, so much as just not communicating very much in either direction. Taking Him for granted I guess, knowing He's there but being too caught up in my own stuff to talk to Him or more importantly to listen. My personal experience has been that sometimes God brings about a circumstance in my life in order to get my attention when He has a lesson for me. Not saying He causes bad things to happen, and I can't exactly explain what I mean, but if you've had the experience you'll understand. Sometimes you know without a doubt that a situation is the way it is because God has rung the schoolbell and it's lesson time. So I guess I'm at the place right now where I'm ready to listen and learn, because there's no other choice. Isn't it too bad that so often we have to get to the place where there's no other choice before we will turn to God? It's just so much our nature to try to fix things on our own, to bring about whatever we think needs to happen (a la Abraham and Sarah) instead of letting God's plan unfold on its own. So here I am, waiting - I'd like to say patiently, but I don't feel so patient - and still believing, though shaken a bit, that I am on a path that God is blessing and that I have made the right choice. And that if I am wrong, God will work that out for my best interests as well. The waiting, the not knowing - so hard to do. I pray for strength, trust and patience. And perhaps a little divine intervention . . .

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Parenting 101

Man, you try so hard to learn from your mistakes with the previous child so you will do a better job each time. Why can't I learn to not push Andy so hard and make him feel like he never quite lives up to my expectations! I don't really feel that way but I know that's how I come across. Just carrying on the fine tradition my mom started with me and that I do to myself as well. He is struggling with not wanting to be in orchestra anymore and just wanting to get through the year, and I just need to let it go and be okay with that, and encourage him in other classes and sports, etc. I have been accused by both him and Lindsay of trying to make them do what I would do and be like me, and that is painfully close to true, much as I hate to admit it. It's certainly not my intent, but that seems to be the result anyway. I want him to know I love him and am proud of everything he does and that I'm okay with whatever he chooses to focus on. Why is that so hard to just say? You'd think this would get easier after all these years, but not so much . . .

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Is That All There Is?

Well, got the blahs again. Happens many Sundays. Just am not feelin' it at SOBC right now. I have so many friends there, and I love to see them every week, and I love Paul and singin' in the choir, but other than that - bleh. Just not much to get excited about. I know it's not all about me, not even really much at all about me, and I know that probably the issue lies with me somewhere in the space between me and Jesus, but I just feel like I want something more. Don't know what though. That's the problem. Just feel dry and thirsty. Sometimes I feel like that song - Is That All There Is? It seems to catch up with me most on Sunday, and then I spend the afternoon feeling blecchhhh and unmotivated, when I should be enjoying my day of rest. Ha ha, day of rest. That's so not true for so many dedicated Christians - we've made it into the busiest day of the week for many of our members who wish to serve. Something just rubs me the wrong way about that.
Just my opinion.

Take the gun, leave the cannoli . . .

Well, we had a Godfather trilogy marathon this weekend. Well, not really a marathon since we spread it over three days, but nevertheless. Parts I and II, which I personally view as one film, are my second favorite movie(s) ever (To Kill A Mockingbird is #1, always and forever - that movie shaped me in a big way), and it's been a long time since I've watched them all in a row. Part III is not really great, just okay, but is much better if you watch it just after watching I and II, because there's a lot left unexplained and many gaps in Part III that you forget about unless you've just seen the others. I have seen these movies so many times that I have begun to catch the little continuity errors and timeline problems (although I solved one last night that I thought was an error but in fact was not). It annoys Jay. He doesn't care, just wants to watch the film. It's just a funny quirk of mine. Andy had never watched all of them all the way through, so it was fun sharing the movies with him, and being able to answer his questions. I am not sure why I love this story so much, but to me it just achieves a perfection in acting, sets, music, costuming, everything. Al Pacino was so cheated out of an Oscar for both Parts I and II, as was Robert Duvall (also ripped off for a Lonesome Dove Emmy). Anyway, I don't know why I'm writing about this, but there you go - stream of consciousness I guess.

Friday, August 26, 2005

My Sleep Number is . . .

I read a funny quote by George Clooney this morning, in an interview about some serious back surgery he had. He said "I've learned that after you're 40 it's just about plugging up holes in the boat." Yep, we have found that to be true around our house. Every doctor visit turns out to be "well, you're just getting older." Ha ha. On that note, we recently got a Sleep Number Bed. Now, I will grant you it was a semi-pricey investment, though not as much as I thought. But worth EVERY PENNY! We got one with a pillow top, not the top of the line, but close to the top, because we went in the store and laid down on all the different beds and this one was by far our favorite. We also got memory foam pillows ($100 each!). I never thought I'd pay this kind of money for a pillow, but since I got it, I have not wakened with a stiff neck even ONE TIME! I used to sleep with two pillows, which was kind of too much, and one wasn't enough and I was always having neck and shoulder pain, and of course Jay frequently had pains due to his arthritis. ALL GONE!

Now for the downside - well there isn't REALLY a downside, but we sleep so well on the thing that without an alarm, we might sleep half the day away. I have never been so comfy on a bed in my life. And our sleep numbers are funny, kind of matching our personalities. Mine varies from 45 to 60, depending on how I'm feeling that night, and Jay's is at about 40 or 45 and he leaves it there (you know Jay, if something works, why try anything else?). He wanted it lower, but I kept rolling to his side because of the difference, so I raised his number a little and he's okay with that.

I know this is probably boring, and sounds like a commercial, but I slept until almost 9:30 this morning because I was so comfy, so it was on my mind. If you need a new bed and can afford one of these, get one! If you have any kind of back pain, etc. it will solve your problem!

On a related note, got my dog Jason a doggie bed yesterday, and now I have to figure out how to get him to sleep on it instead of being afraid of it. He's rather neurotic about strange new objects.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Gettin' Too Old for This

Had a blast on the rafting trip! But wow, I'm wondering how many more years I can do this, physically. Long road trips and camping and rafting are pretty taxing and I just am not quite as mobile as I used to be. HATE THAT! Had a lot of laughs on the trip - Jody and Kris are so funny, they entertained us pretty much the whole trip. Acting out scenes from Phantom, cracking all manner of bodily function jokes, etc. And Josh and Christi are great - Christi had never been camping or in the mountains before, she's not much of an outdoor girl, but she was a trooper (except for a little melt-down on Friday night). We told her "there's no crying in camping!" Took a sight seeing trip to Breckenridge - that was so much fun. They have an alpine slide, minature golf, etc. in the summer. The weather was unbelievable, just reminding me again that I wish I lived in a mountain climate. I have truly never seen so many different, fabulous flowers in my life. Everywhere you look, baskets, pots, gardens, just an abundance of incredible color! God's country, for sure! Wish I had more to write about this, but just want to sum up - great time - if you get asked to go rafting, you should do it! It's like a Six Flags ride only real! Very exciting.

The Art of Guilt-Free Laziness

Is there a book on this topic? If so I need to read it, immediately. I was in the dumps yesterday because I am constantly struggling with the "I must get some projects done/I want to lay by the pool and surf the net and generally goof off" dilemma. Same song, forty-third verse, if you will. I was raised in an environment where my folks worked hard and I was an only child expected to help around the house and pick up after myself. Add to that a mother with addiction problems (alcohol, prescriptions, self-destructive behavior, depression, you name it) and growing up in the 50s-60s when the model family was portrayed on TV, and my way of coping was to be very neat and orderly because that was the only thing in my life I had control over. Mix it all together and you end up with someone who desperately wants to be able to just relax and let it all go and live in the moment and enjoy doing whatever I FEEL like doing rather than what I SHOULD be doing, but I just cannot seem to figure out how. I spend lots of time thinking about it, trying to analyze it, getting mad at myself. Jay and I were talking about it yesterday and I came to the conclusion that I have just never mastered the art of guilt-free laziness. Jay says I just have never given myself permission to be lazy, and he's right. It just goes against every grain I have. I have a short window of time where I'm not working at all, and it's not that I'm sitting around eating candy and watching soaps, but I do spend a lot of time reading stuff on the computer, and occasionally having lunch with someone or laying by the pool (I justify that one by the fact that soon pool season will be over so I must do it while I can), reading, and generally finding ways to use up the whole freakin' day and having not much to show for it. That's the problem - I feel I must have something to show for it. Apparently being here and available for my family and taking care of cooking, groceries and laundry is not enough. I need to be cleaning out closets, painting trim, hanging pictures, etc. All worthy projects that I need and want to get done, but I have not gotten one single one of the completed. But then I remember all the times I have read that you won't regret the projects you didn't do, you'll regret not spending more time doing things that really matter. So, I know all the right answers, I just can't seem to get myself to apply them and really enjoy my freedom instead of beating myself up for yet another day passing with no projects even started. Geez I'm neurotic . . . wonder where I got THAT?

Today, I got up at 5:45 so I could shower, etc., take Andy to school and help bake cookies for the orchestra fundraiser. Came home about 10:30, and it's 1:15 and I've done pretty much nothing except stuff on the computer and having something to eat. So productive . . . I think I need counseling . . .

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Will Work for Cash

Here's the thing . . . I'm done with school, waiting on my magical piece of paper that says I can legally charge money to ply my trade (love that phrase). In the meantime, I'm startin to sweat this unemployed status. So I had lunch with my good friend Julie today, who is also on a similar "start a new career and be self-employed" journey, though hers involved getting a Masters Degree (go Jules!) and she is actually gainfully employed as a freelance writer/editor, in fact employed to the point of being too busy. She has hired a person to assist her, and may need another person to do some part time editing at home. Now that's just right up my alley, anal retentive wordsmith that I am, so I'm pretty excited that it might provide just that little bit of extra income to help things along as I'm getting my massage therapy clientele built up, and also just to keep my brain exercised as well as my body. She also mentioned a possible part time gig doing some financial stuff if her relative who is doing it now takes another job. My dilemma is that I also enjoy doing finanical work (go figure, since I hate math, but there's something rather satisfying about balance a checkbook, etc.). I don't think I will have time for both part time ventures (though I might at the beginning), so I don't know which to choose if they both in fact become a real possiblity. But I am encouraged that there might be some work I could do at home that will work around my already flexible massage schedule. I guess the scariest part (and Julie struggles with this some too) is that all this flexibility and being your own boss means you must be responsible for your own work habits and no one is going to make you do it - you have to make sure you work enough to get everything done on time, and that it's all done right, etc. because there's no one breathing down your neck (well, Julie does have deadlines, but you get my drift).

I hope one of these things works out so that I can ease my mind (and Jay's) by having a little income in the interim. This extended vacation is fun, but pretty soon the anxiety of no money coming in is going to overshadow the joy of a free schedule.

Dr. Visits

Okay, so I went to my retina doc today for my yearly check to make sure my retinas are still attached. My appointment was at 11:15. I was ten minutes late because there was a train at Abrams and Cooper that delayed me for over 10 minutes! So I sat in the waiting room until about 50 minutes had passed (from the time I arrived, not my appt. time), and finally went up to the desk to politely inquire. She checked in the back, and said "they are just about to call you in to dilate your eyes." And sure enough, about 5 minutes later (or less), they called me back. Now, call me cynical, but I'm convinced that they just move you to the front of the list when you COMPLAIN loud enough. I guess I'll never know, but I have strong suspicions that had I NOT gone to the front desk, I would have sat there for quite a while longer. I've had this same experience at my regular doc's office too. So, at this particular doc, they dilate your eyes (which involves putting several types of vile drops including numbing drops which not only make your eyeballs feel weird but also somehow affect your nasal passages - I think they are all connected). Then you sit for another 20 minutes or so, then the doctor sees you and shines impossibly bright lights in your eyes while making you look directly INTO the impossibly bright light WITHOUT blinking! Then you look up, down, right, left, etc. while the bright light is causing your eyes to water like nobody's business. BUT, once again, all is well and nothing has changed, which is good news! I finally left there about 1:35! Spent approximately 10-15 minutes with the actual doctor. Grrrr.

So that's my theory on the waiting time at the doctor's office. Whoever gripes the most gets to the head of the list . . .

I'm such a nerd

Okay, I am officially an internet-surfing, blog reading nerd! I swear I could spend an entire day just surfing the net, reading useless entertainment stuff, random news items, and the blogs of any and everyone I come across. I LOVE reading other people's blogs - it gives me so much insight into them and I just find it interesting from a human study point of view. I guess it's the writer in me. Observing others is fascinating to me. No judgments, just observations - people are just so weird and diverse and curiously unique. BUT, I find that hours just disappear when I am on the computer, it's like time stops. Probably not a good thing . . .

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Opposites Attract . . .

Isn't it funny how two people as different as Jay and me can have such a great relationship and have so much fun together? If you want to see examples of how different we are, read some of his blogs and then read some of mine. Yeah, we're different. I spill out all my random thoughts, and write about stuff that happens and how I feel about it. He write intellectual discourses. But he really is very funny and we laugh a lot - it just doesn't come through on his serious blogging style. Just strikes me funny. Sometimes you can tell a lot about a person through their blogs, especially if they are very candid like in a diary. But his blogs are for a particular purpose, so they only show one facet of his personality. But he would never just dump it all out like I do. Just one of the ways we are very different. Of course, sometimes I dump it out way too much . . . but he loves me anyhow! Go figure . . .

Monday, August 08, 2005

Living in Limbo

I'm in a really odd place right now. I am not working since I finished school and during the period while I'm waiting to get my temporary license. This is the first time in my whole adult life, except for maternity leaves and vacations, when I have not had to go to work. I am so content just puttering around the house, running errands, swimming, sleeping in a little, spending time with Sam, etc. But underneath the contentment is the knowledge that it will end soon and I feel some unease that I should (there's that ugly little word again) get a bunch of household projects done. I mean, even during school, basically since April, I've had much more free time, and yet I've barely gotten any projects done! I spend way too much time reading stuff on the computer, writing emails and blogging, and just doing basic tasks. But I should (there it is again) be working on my novel, working on my stuff to get prepared for my massage career, and doing stuff like painting and cleaning out closets, etc. But I'm so enjoying just having the time to do whatever, including reading out by the pool, which is such a huge, huge luxury! So even now, in one of the most content periods I've ever experienced, I struggle within myself between what I WANT to do and what I SHOULD do! It's so frustrating! I dawdle a day away, enjoying every second of it, and then later anguish because I got nothing accomplished. Geez, do I have a split personality or something? And of course, I'm having conversations with God, but I'm not going to Bible study, etc. Why can't I just allow myself to just enjoy this brief time of rest and relaxation for what it is?

I am getting prepared to begin working, and I am starting to get a little nervous about building up my business so that I don't run us into bankruptcy. I believe, still, that God is blessing this venture of mine, that He ordained my meeting with Carol and put all the puzzle pieces together for me and made it all work out so well, so I have no reason to believe things will go badly, but I guess I just need to believe in myself more. It's hard to be in school and be all pumped up and ready to go and then have to just sit and wait! I hope I can find a good balance of work hours and time at home and still make a good living. One of the points behind all this was to have a flexible schedule and to be my own boss so I'd have more family time. I just need to dig in there and not get easily discouraged - I know that it will take a while. Jay has been so supportive and patient. I just don't want to get lazy while I'm in this limbo period. I am liking it an awful lot . . .

I'm just a pain in my own behind! Lord save me from myself . . .

A Rafting I Will Go . . .

So, I'm off on another adventure. I am going on the college rafting trip, because Peter and Tiffany can't go due to Smoke on the Mountain not being performance ready or even close. Hope my knee holds out - I'm getting too old for these things . . . but I always have a great time! I'll write about it when I get back. We are leaving at 5:30 freakin' AM! on Thursday. It's a long drive! But, it's the Rockies in the summer, which is pretty amazing - fresh clean air and cool nights - yeah baby! And I'll get to hang out with some cool kids and Josh and Christi!

Interesting Movie . . .

Went to see The Chumscrubber last night. Very weird, very interesting movie. Kind of like a nightmare version of Desperate Housewives. All I can say is I hope most parents are not as clueless and stupid and self-involved as these parents. But I know many are, which probably explains why so many teens are so screwed up these days. I recommend this movie but be prepared for weirdness and perhaps some offense, but it's a twisted social commentary. I love twisted and weird social commentary movies, so it may not be your cup of tea. I think it's worth a look, good performances, pretty subversive. I liked it a lot.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Baby Let's Cruise . . .

Okay, up front warning, this is a REALLY LONG post, but I wanted to put down all the details of our cruise while I can still remember it all!

Hands down, the best vacation I've ever had! Eatin, soakin up the rays, eatin some more, strollin on the deck in the great breeze, eatin some more, watchin the parade of beautiful and not so beautiful people, eatin some more, shoppin for jools, eatin some more, swing dance lessons (what a fun and humiliating experience), eatin some more, snorkeling, (ohhh that turquoise sea), eatin some more, singing karaoke, and again, eatin some more. Yep, that's pretty much a cruise for ya.

If you have not been on a cruise, I cannot recommend highly enough that you go. Preferably with some really fun friends like Big Pete, Tiffany, Big Daddy James and Ange! (and of course Andy, the coolest son a person could want!) I have never had so much fun in my life, or laughed so much in one week! Or eaten so much food . . . BECAUSE I CAN!!!!! That was our motto for the week - I think I'll have some (insert delicious food item here) BECAUSE I CAN!!!! The coolest perk of a cruise is the food - I'm sure you've heard that, but I just have to repeat it. Can you say 24 hour pizza and ice cream? Yummmmmm. And many tasty, foofy umbrella drinks as well. Not that I had a lot in a row, just tried a variety over the course of the week. I felt so pampered and rich!

So I'll start at the beginning. We arrived in Galveston, parked down on the Strand and went to a shop so Tiffany, Andy and I could get our temporary henna tattoos for the cruise! That's right, we're cool! (And Andy also wanted to go to Captain Bubbie's Army Surplus Store since he missed out on mission trip. He bought a goofy hat.) So we are walking around sweating because it's mid-afternoon in July in Galveston, need I say more? And the tattoo lady cannot put the one across the top of my shoulders that I want because I'M TOO DANG SWEATY! Gross. Anyway, I got a cool butterfly on my shoulder. Tiffany got a little flower thing on her shoulder blade, and Andy got barbed wire on his bicep and a Chinese symbol on his forearm. Now I would never get a real tattoo for several reasons, but the temporary ones look real for a while and it was fun for a trip like this. For $10.00 . . . So, our ship leaves at 4:00pm, and it's a about 3pm by the time we finish all this and we have to drop us and our luggage off, take the cars to the lot and the guys must catch the shuttle back. Now the cruise terminal is about two blocks away, so I'm not worried at all, but Jay (I love you honey) is in full stress-out freak mode, afraid we'll miss the boat. So they drop us off, unload all our luggage and he and Pete speed away to the lots. Very nice porters load our luggage on these big carts to take them to the entrance door. Mine was nicer than Tiffany and Ange's. He put all my stuff on, then started for the entrance and then I asked him to wait until they were coming too, and for some reason their guy was taking forever (probably because Tiffany had so much luggage (I love you too Tiff). She was struggling under the weight of her carry on bags and my porter offered to go back to where she was and he put her carry on things on my cart (her guy was just going to let her carry them). Anyway, we went in the terminal and as soon as Peter and Jay got back we got in the line to get on board. It all went pretty quickly and smoothly, and before you know it we were walking up the gangway to the ship! Woooo hooooo!

We walked in to the large atrium with the ceiling that goes all the way to the top with glass elevators, a bar, a spiral staircase, etc., which is the required "oooooh, ahhhh" moment. Then we went to our rooms, which were all right next to each other, another cool thing. They tell you that your luggage may not get to your room until midnight, but it was all there except on of James's bags I think by the time we got to our rooms, sitting right by the door! (That $20 tip did the trick all right!) The cabins are small but very comfy. Ours of course had an extra bed for Andy but the ones with just the king bed weren't too bad. You don't spend much time in there anyway. But the sheets were high quality, and there was a very nice, silky soft down comforter and fluffy pillows and nice fluffy towels. Very nice. One of the neatest things on a cruise is that every evening when they make up your room, they make the cute towel animals and leave them on your turned down bed with your little mints. Every night a different animal - we couldn't wait to get back and see what we had. I am going to try to post my pictures of my animals and some others when Jay gets home and can show me how. We had an elephant, a monkey, a dog and a pair of seals! I bought a book on how to do them and a little beanie baby size one in the gift shop (it's a dog and he's on my bed).

We had a dinner time of 8pm in the fancy dining room every night, and ate there most nights except one I think. Our headwaiter for our table, Clifford, was from Jamaica and he was really nice and funny and gave us great service. At dinner, they have starters, salads, entrees and desserts and you can order as many of each thing as you want! On formal night, we all had steak AND lobster (except Jay). If you don't like something, just order something else. It was very gourmet and fancy, and sometimes we weren't sure what the items were, but hey it's all paid for so you might as well try stuff! Andy only ate dinner with us once, and the rest of the time I think he just ate pizza (the pizza was really good!) On the last night the waiters were dancing and the guests were dancing with them, so Peter and Jay got up and danced a little - yeah baby, yeah! Jay did his church lady dance and his newest addition, the Kevin James "can't stop it" moves from Hitch.

One interesting note, nearly every crew member we met was from somewhere other than the US. Lots of folks from Eastern Europe, and the former Soviet Union countries, including Macedonia! Lots from Australia and New Zealand, Jamaica, Dominica, Indonesia, etc. Some spoke English, many did not speak much which made for some interesting exchanges. The Cruise Director, Rebecca, was Canadian and sounded like a DJ or a newscaster or someone else with much professional speaking experience. Very polished, very attractive, very efficient and nice. She made all of the announcements heard around the ship every day. The Captain and much of his crew were Italian, and the head chef was from India. Quite the international crew, for sure!

Speaking of Andy, after the first night we didn't see him but once or twice a day, except for random sightings around the ship. They have a dance club just for teens and he met a group of kids there and they pretty much roamed around the ship hanging out, eating, playing ping pong and basketball, dancing, and just having lots of fun. He came in about 3 each morning, slept in (except the two excursion days) till who knows when. He said it was the most fun vacation he'd ever had too. I'm so happy that he had a good time. It was pretty funny when he would walk and not see us so we could just observe him in his natural habitat, if you will. He's pretty easy to spot in a crowd. . . We tried hard not to embarrass him by talking to him unless we had to.

We went to the karaoke bar three nights after dinner and that was hilarious! Pete, Tiffany, Ange and I did Love Shack, and Tiffany did Sin Wagon (great job too!), and Pete and Tiffany did Summer Nights from Grease, and James did a You Never Even Called Me By My Name. Big Paul and Mike were the highlights of the regular performers. Also the DJ would make you get up and sing if he caught you not clapping, and he got to pick the song. Yeah, those were funny . . . Of course the fun part is singing along with everyone. The trick with karaoke is to pick a fun song everyone knows, so then they sing along and don't worry if you don't sing it very well. It's kind of a group interactive experience. Much fun!

We didn't go to any of the shows, except one comedian who was just raunchy, not too funny. But we did do a swing dance lesson. Okay, that was really fun but very humiliating. I just haven't danced in so long that I've totally lost all coordination. Jay was such a good sport and was doing okay, but he was just so funny, and I was laughing so hard I could never get the turn right. Pete and Tiffany and James and Ange did much better. Pete got to be the model for our instructor, a stunning English brunette, and he got a little tongue tied when she asked where he was from. Pretty cute . . .

Our first port was Progreso, which was a detour since the port at Playa del Carmen was damaged. We pretty much felt gypped, but it couldn't be helped. They only offered a handful of excursions, and all but one involved a long bus ride and hiking and climbing stairs at ruins, etc. Of course the beach one filled up fast, so we opted to just go to town, shop a bit and walk over to the beach. The guys told us later that "wow, I would have enjoyed seeing those ruins," or "gee, I would have enjoyed touring those historic haciendas." Grrrr. But where were they when we were trying to make decisions about our excursions? Not interested, that's where. Oh well. The market at Progreso was about the size of the square at Granbury, maybe smaller, and all OUTSIDE, in the unbelievably humid, hot, thick, sticky heat. At one point while Angela was getting her hair braided, some of our group went across the street to get Cokes, and it was a pollieria (a chicken butcher shop for those of you who don't speak Spanish). Apparently it was quite fragrant with warm chicken guts and blood smells. Yum. And to think I missed it all! So we bought hats and a couple of other things and then walked to the beach, just a couple of blocks. It was okay, but the water was kind of murky greenish, not the beautiful blue we expected. The girls went in the water, and the guys sat under a little thatched umbrella sipping their Cokes. Then we caught a taxi van back to the ship to avoid the lines for the shuttle bus from the market. $15 well spent, and we ended up double tipping the guy so he made a nice income. Fortunately we had James along who speaks really good Spanish to help us with taxis, etc. Most of the drivers speak a little bit of English but not much.

Next day we ported at Cozumel. We had signed up for a snorkeling excursion that started at 11am, so we had some time to shop at the stores right at the pier. I have never in my life seen so many jewelry stores. The little shopping area there is a couple of blocks long and very, very clean and nice, with colorful storefronts and nice brick paved streets (no cars). It's pretty much tailored to the cruise tourists. I must mention here our great Super Shopper on the ship, Kayleen. She was from New Zealand, and I want her job. She just goes to the different stores in port and negotiates discounts and great deals and free stuff, etc. for Carnival travelers, and she gives a great and very entertaining shopping talk on the ship, telling you specifically which stores to go to for the best deals, etc. She gave away some stuff and James won a bottle of some liquor which they call Mexican Viagra (it has some long Aztec name). So anyway, while we were in the pier shops, Jay was looking at a Caribbean topaz ring that he really liked and was waffling and Kayleen came in the store and got him another $100 off the price! It's really pretty - Caribbean topaz has many different colors - pink, purple, dark blue, orange, it's just gorgeous.

Then it was time for our snorkel adventure. We were in a large group and basically just broke up into small groups in taxis to the beach, which was not too far away. They gave us basic instructions and our equipment, and they had a nice locker room where we could change. I have never snorkeled before, nor had Jay or Andy. The hardest part was getting in the water, because instead of sand like I expected, it was limestone because we were at a reef, so me with my wimpy tender feet had a hard time walking out to where it was deep enough to put on my fins (which appeared to be about 4 feet long!). Then the guide had to hold me up as the tide bounced me around and I struggled my fins on. But once I got them on (by the way it's nearly impossible to actually walk in those things, but they are quite nifty for swimming at a brisk pace), I went out to the drop off and was able to float (we had life jackets of course) and then it was great. I quickly figured out the whole breathe only through your mouth thing and off I went! The water is just otherworldly - it's the color of a brilliant turquoise stone or a deep blue topaz stone. Just really unreal - clear and just the most beautiful thing you've ever seen! Even looking down off the ship in port, the deep water was a sapphire blue and the foam even had a bluish tint! Have to see it to really believe it. I didn't have my glasses on but I could still see the fish pretty well so it was fine. I only had one drink of Mexican margarita (which is what our instructor called the salt water). He was very funny. Jay and Andy fell behind as we were snorkeling and going out deeper, so I went back to look for them, since from a distance all the heads bobbing in the water looked the same. I ended up missing some of the larger groups of fish that everyone else saw because the guide threw out some food, and I didn't try holding my breath and going deeper, but I will next time. All in all, it was loads of fun but I would have liked to have more time. We could have stayed as long as we wanted, but we wanted to shop also.

Andy didn't want to shop, so he and Jay went on back to the ship and the rest of us went to the recommended shopping area. James and Angela wanted to shop first, and Pete and Tiffany and I were hungry so we walked about a mile down to the Shrimp Bucket (it's a long story but needless to say we would have been smarter to get the taxi to drop us at that end instead of the other, but we didn't plan ahead too well). Anyway, we had the most delicious fresh beer battered and coconut shrimp lunch! It was just the best. And our margaritas were large and tasty, doubly so since we had walked almost a mile at a good clip in the heat and humidity) and then our very nice waiter brought us complimentary Kahlua shots at the end of our meal. Very very good. Now I don't drink very often, pretty much only on special occasions, so don't get the wrong idea, but a nice frosty margarita sure tastes great on a vacation on a very hot day! Yessireee!

Then we trekked back to find a couple of shops we wanted to hit, realizing it was about 3pm and we had to be back on the ship no later than 4:30. About the middle of the strip which was almost a mile long, I wanted to stop at the loose gemstone shop, so I told Pete and Tiffany I'd catch up with them. Well I found some Caribbean topaz stones at a great price and they said they could mount them in some earrings for me right away. So I was pacing around worrying that they'd think something happened to me, and the sales girl suggested that I go find them and then come back. So I race walked about five blocks I think, maybe more, past all the guys hawking their stuff, etc., melting with sweat, and my legs were aching so bad. About a block and a half to the end I saw Peter go into a store, so I finally caught up with them. It was kind of creepy, all the tourists were gone, headed back to the ship, so we really kicked it into gear then. They paid for their stuff and then we all three race-walked back to my store (by this time it's close to 4pm and we are rushing!). When we got to the store, the sweet sales girl was standing on the steps outside holding my bag with my earrings! I should have given her a tip, but we were in such a rush! Pete hailed a cab immediately and we got in and headed back toward the pier, but the traffic was so heavy. Our driver was chatting on his CB with one of his friends the whole time, and now and then we'd catch an English word. We got back to the pier about 4:15, and I could just imagine Jay sitting on the ship tapping his watch and saying "they're gonna miss the boat and get left behind . . ." We started walking through the long corridor of duty free shops right at the end of the pier and this really, really drunk woman and her friend staggering through, and this woman was hollering, really loud, "How you doin?" to literally EVERY person in her path! All the way to the gangway of the ship! She was so loud and drunk and obnoxious!

We went to the shorter gangway line, got back on the ship and I went immediately to our cabin to find Jay and let him know I had not gotten left on shore or kidnapped, but he wasn't there. I then proceeded to spend about 45 minutes looking for him, to no avail. (By the way, this happened to us enough times that next time we are taking walkie talkies - the ships are so big you could spend all day passing each other and never find each other). So I went back to the room to take a shower, and later when we met up I found out that he had been waiting for us at the OTHER gangway and didn't see us pass by.

I'm backing up here but we had great fun on formal night too. We all dressed up and went to the Captain's Cocktail party and then dinner and took some really great pictures. We spent a lot of time just walking around the ship, sitting on the deck people watching or laying in the sun, just talking and laughing, etc. The non-duty shops on the board put new stuff out every day so we looked there a lot.

Jay bought me the most gorgeous tanzanite and diamond wide band from the ship gift shop. They had some incredible jewelry at great prices and they have a one year guarantee. I was just looking while Angela was trying on rings, and I saw this one and just thought I'd try it on, and "Waaaaaaaaaa" it was love at first sight! I told Jay he didn't have to get me an anniversary present for several years since this ring is so awesome. We found out that tanzanite has tripled in value in the last few years since they can only get it from one mine in Africa. The value goes up with the size and depth of blue of the stone. Then Peter bought Tiffany this gorgeous earring, necklace and bracelet set of blue topaz and peridot, and surprised her with it. And James came back and bought Angela the tanzanite ring she had wanted, but then it was too big and they traded it for another, and then while in Cozumel found an even prettier ring with a larger stone and a better bargain, so they got that one and returned the one on the ship. We girls all got lucky with some beautiful bling from our great hubbies!

The last night we toasted our wonderful trip with some champagne that Peter had won earlier in the week. Clifford iced it down for us and brought us glasses and strawberries! Then later in the night we had some excitement. Andy had been coming in about 3 and for some reason I was having trouble sleeping, and about 3 I was awake, and he was still not back at 3:30 and I was a little concerned. Then a little before 4am an announcement saying "Attention all crew Operation Bright Star Empress Deck starboard side." Well I knew that was some kind of emergency and my son was not back in the cabin, so I did what any mother would do and threw on a denim jacket and flip flops with my gown and made a beeline for that location. It was the big atrium area, and as I walked down the hall I could see people milling around and my anxiety level was rising, but as I came into the atrium area I saw Andy standing over by the staircase, and he pointed up. He said that some guy fell, and at first I thought he meant one of his friends had fallen over the rail into the atrium. But what happened was a really really drunk guy fell between the stair railings in the corridor behind the atrium, about four decks down to a carpeted area. Andy and his friend we walking down the corridor to come back to their rooms and they heard a thud, and walked around the corner and saw this guy lying there with a huge gash in his head, and Andy said he was unconscious and gurgling. The people who had been with him were standing there and they had called the doctor and brought a stretcher, and the crew shooed everyone away and that's when I found him. He was a little shaken up, because the guy was clearly in a bad way. On the way back to our cabin we met two other moms who were looking for their sons because they had heard the announcement and their kid wasn't back yet. We assured them the person who fell was an adult, so I'm sure they found their kids. We had a bit of a time getting back to sleep after that, needless to say. But of course the next day we heard nothing about it and I've seen nothing on the news so I assume he recovered, hope so anyway.

The journey home was kind of rocky because the captain was dodging storms in the Gulf, so we noticed the movement of the ship quite a bit more, but it never really bothered me much. We arrived in Galveston early Saturday morning, but they let you off by decks, so we had plenty of time to eat breakfast, etc. and got off the boat about 10:30am. We didn't want to leave!!! Can't wait to go back again . . .

So, inside jokes . . . look at those nostrils . . . mmmmmmm hmmmmmm . . . BECAUSE I CAN! . . . HOW YOU DOIN? . . . do they have pancakes? . . . there goes the Shrub . . . are we leaning? . . . let's have some pizza/ice cream/dessert . . .what happens on the ship STAYS on the ship (or in Mexico). Great memories, great friends, great times . . . let's do it again!

Better Late than Never, Right?

Okay, wow, it's been a loooooong time since I posted. The last month or so has been a blur. I finished school, completed my internship and graduated (yay me), went on mission trip, went on a cruise (more about that in a separate post) and now I'm unemployed until I get my temporary license from the good ole State of Texas, yet I still seem to be finding more things to do than I have time for. How the heck did I ever do all this stuff while I worked full time? I have a large list of errands, tasks, etc. to do, and I've already done a bunch of them this week so far!

So, on to mission trip. So glad I decided to go, God blessed as He always is faithful to do. We had a safe trip down, though I drove my car alone since everyone wanted to be in the vans where the fun was (don't blame them). But it was okay. When we arrived in Galveston, our rooms weren't ready as it seems there was a miscommunication and the night manager (it was about 10:30pm or so) had no idea we were coming, but thought we'd arrive on Monday night instead. So several vehicles idled in the Wal-Mart parking lot next to our condos while Josh and Christi gently strong-armed them into getting our rooms ready, etc. Somewhere shortly before midnight we got our rooms, but with the understanding that some of us might have to move the next night. We were supposed to all be in the same building, but the first night we just had to take what was available. Some of the rooms didn't have enough beds for the people assigned to them, so we had to do a little shifting, but all in all, by the second evening, everyone was settled in and mostly happy. The condos were quite nice, though small, and across the street from the beach. Now if you've never been to Galveston, let me just say that it is not the most attractive beach in the world, but it is a beach, so many of our kids were quite excited. It was very humid, of course. A couple of times I walked out of our condo onto the balcony and my glasses fogged up! We had wonderful A/C and kept our unit quite frosty all week, which felt great when coming in from the heat. The pool was very nice, but kind of like bathwater, not too refreshing but at least it was wet.

Early on in the week, lots of the kids seemed a little uncomfortable that here we were on a mission trip and we were staying in a really nice condo at the beach, not suffering in a crowded gym like we did in Mexico. Seems lots of them felt guilty for having such luxury, and were a little unsure that the people in Galveston could be as needy as the ones in Mexico. Fortunately, as the week went on they soon began to see that there are hurting, poor and lost people everywhere you go, people who need to see and feel God's love through the touch and hugs and ministry of others. I won't go into great details, but we did VBS sites, worked at a homeless shelter, and did some ministry at Josh's dad's church as well. My group had to improvise some as our planned VBS at a neighborhood park got no response, so we took bottled water and salvation bracelets to the Seawall and set up tables and gave them out free, and talked to people when given the opportunity. The kids did all the work, and they were AMAZING! I am waaaay out of my comfort zone talking to strangers on the street, but they just went up to everyone with such enthusiasm, and people were generally very appreciative, though many of them were suspicous of why we would give a way free water, what was the catch, some even tried to give us money which we declined. Then the last two days we went to the Shriner's Children's Hospital burn unit and visited and played with some of the kids there. They were all from Mexico and had varying degrees of burn injuries, some quite serious, and none spoke English so our young Spanish speakers (and Bushy) got the chance after all to use their skills. That hospital is incredible and they cover all costs for medical care for the kids and for housing their families while they are being treated. Burns are a horrible thing, but these kids seemed just like any others, having adapted to their injuries including lost fingers, limbs, hair, etc.

All in all, it was a great trip, and Josh proved to be a great leader and able to quickly deal with whatever circumstances arose without losing his cool. He and Christi are a great team and this week really forged some bonds between them and the kids. And he didn't mind when we made fun of him for his walkie talkie lingo . . . "Attention all van drivers, attention all van drivers. This is Josh. We will be taking exit 5-7-1, that's 5-7-1, in approximately 3.2 miles. " and so on. Hilarious, but it worked. No one got lost or separated, etc.

Of course there were many inside jokes, Poooooop Deeeeeck being the main one. There was a restaurant we passed every day called the Poop Deck. And for my room and some others, there was Kappa Kappa Chino, the first Chinese sorority (love you Cami!). And many more. Much fun was had. God is good, all the time! I don't know what I'll do when I'm too old to go on youth trips . . .