Monday, August 30, 2010

The Gainesville Curse

If I never have to drive on I-75 South ever again, it wouldn't be too soon.

That is one LONG stretch of highway.

I left Chattanooga yesterday morning at 7:30 a.m. Within 5 minutes, I was on I-75 South. Little did I realize it would be 700 miles before I got OFF of I-75 South.

ALLLLLL the way through Georgia.

Almost ALLLLLL the way through Florida.

Atlanta was interesting. It was 9:30 a.m. on a Sunday morning when I hit it. And I-75 South was PACKED with cars, all driving - at a MINIMUM - of 80 m.p.h. I figured they must all be hurrying to get to church, because where else would they be going in such a hurry on a Sunday morning??!! Yikes.

Then, down through Macon, and on through Valdosta. Which I had never heard of before. Huh. The things you learn on a road trip. I kept wanting to call it Vidalia. As in Onion. Because I love fried Vidalia onions. And I was hungry.

I then hit Florida...which didn't excite me until I saw my first palm tree. That perked me up a bit. I was happy for awhile.

Until I hit Gainesville.


You see, I have "fond" memories of Gainesville...and I use that term "fond" very loosely.

Back in 2006, Hurricane Ernesto was in the Atlantic Ocean, chugging towards Florida. The American Red Cross kindly asked if I would drive the "ERV" (Emergency Response Vehicle) down to Florida to stage before the hurricane hit.

"Sure", I said.

My partner and I had been driving for two days - when the disaster hit. No, not Hurricane Ernesto. A different disaster. Of the man-made kind. A large, loose, deadly piece of tire tread - laying horizontally across the highway, outside of Gainesville - and no way to avoid it. That thing was 5' long. Going 80 m.p.h. in rush hour traffic - if we had swerved to avoid it, we would have tipped the truck. (The truck was loaded with tons of supplies.)

We crossed our fingers, said a prayer, and drove over it.

Big mistake. Unfortunately, karma and God was not on our side that afternoon, as we found out.

The tire tread ricocheted up into our chassis, knocking out a bunch of wiring - and our cooling system. Yowza.

To make a LONG story short, I spent a very long week in Gainesville, waiting for the magical, elusive "parts" to arrive in Gainesville, as well. These elusive parts were needed to fix the truck, and I was going nowhere without them. ARGH.

I spent a week at a small motel...swimming...walking across the road to a local mall, which to our delight, had a cinema...reading... shopping...sleeping...and cursing. Cursing our dreaded luck. Cursing Ford for not having the parts in stock. ARGH.

By the time our truck was fixed, Hurricane Ernesto had barely bounced off of Florida and was history. So, we began the long trek back to Kansas City.

So, yesterday, I was rehashing all of these memories of Gainesville, as I was driving down I-75 South, when the unthinkable happened.

I kid thee not.

A tire tread. Laying dead center in the highway. Outside of Gainesville. What were the odds??!!?

This time, though, I wasn't driving a huge, loaded truck. I was driving a little Mazda. With GREAT steering.

And I quickly dodged around that tire tread. And laughed.

"Ha, ha, Gainesville! Not THIS time! Pick on another sucker!!!"

And I sped on down the road to Ft. Myers, and waved goodbye to Gainesville.



Saturday, August 28, 2010

Eastbound & Down!

Eastbound and down...loaded up and truckin'....I'm gonna do what they say can't be done!

Yes - I'm on a road trip - heading east...but first...

Yesterday was "Part 2" of the surgeries...

If you recall, I had a Mohs procedure on my neck about a week I have this kickass scar on my neck that looks like Dracula - or the Wolfman - got ahold of me on a dark, spooky night. Pretty gnarly....but it makes for a great story.

I had the left hip done yesterday.

To my surprise, it was just as bad as the neck. I really didn't think it would be, for some reason...but it was. What made it even worse was the anesthetic - once again - didn't work, and when the doctor went to cauterize the wound, I felt it. OMG, that hurt. I now have what looks like a "shark bite" on my hip - which will be my story for that wound. "Surgery" just sounds so boring, right? Vampire bites and shark bites are much more fun.

After a somewhat rough night - pain, dropping blood pressure, fainting spells - I woke up this morning to embark on my Epic Road Trip.

I'm driving - solo - 1400 miles from Kansas City to Ft Myers, Florida. In my little Mazda Speed 6 that is loaded to the rafters with stuff to take to Florida. I know - somewhat stupid the day after a surgery - but I vowed to take it easy and to be careful. Besides, I've got the medicinal powers of a constant supply of Diet Dr. Pepper and Peanut Butter M&M's to assist me on this trip. And an endless supply of Tylenol.

I got a somewhat late start - but once on the road, its been awesome. The weather has been great; the traffic was great; and it was nice to enjoy peace and quiet. If I wanted "noise", I have Satellite Radio - so I can pull in my favorite tunes - and I have also been listening to an audio book, "Dead Silence", by Randy Wayne White. That's significant, because author Mr. White is from the Ft. Myers area and writes a lot of pretty cool adventure books.

My journey took me across Missouri, around St. Louis, and then into Illinois. In Illinois, I took a quick 3-minute detour to visit Metropolis. Does that sound familiar? It should - it's the boyhood home of Superman!

And you can't be the boyhood home of Superman without having a 25-foot statue of Superman in the town square!

I feel like Superman when I drink Diet Dr. Pepper and nibble on Peanut Butter M&M's on a Road Trip.

Oops...I, Illinois took me across the Ohio River, and down through Paducah, Kentucky...a short jog through Kentucky, and I was in Tennessee.

Tennessee is an awesome state - their roads are always in immaculate condition, and they have some of the neatest things to see and do. We took a 2-week vacation to Tennessee back in 2004, and visited all four corners - and had a great time. And no, I'm not getting paid by the Tourism Board to say these things - but maybe they should call me??!!

I've bunkered down for the night in Chattanooga, and I'm smack in the middle of the mountains - they were SOOOO pretty! I've vowed to come back here in the fall - I bet they're glorious in their autumn splendor!

Tomorrow, another 700 miles and I will arrive at the house in Ft Myers! Woot!

I'm trying to go to sleep about now, but I'm having a hard time...think it has something to do with caffeine and sugar???!!

Have a GREAT evening!



Friday, August 27, 2010

Hurricane Katrina...5 Years Later

As if there were any doubt...

Hurricane Katrina...

It's been five years since this devastating hurricane all but obliterated the Gulf Coast...

We know it was life changing. That much is evident. But most people will assume that it was life-changing for the worst. And yet - for me? It was life-changing for the better.

Katrina was an "aha!" moment that hit me hard - and led to some life-changing decisions on my part to refocus and rededicate my life to working for others...

I quit my job. I joined the American Red Cross. And I went on some pretty awesome mission trips, where I met some of the most amazing people and learned new things about myself.

My first trip to the Gulf Coast was in June 2006 - about 9 months after the hurricane hit. We spent a week in Ocean Springs, Mississippi - near Biloxi - which was "ground zero" for Katrina's huge tidal wave that destroyed everything in its path. While there, we worked on houses and talked with the residents and surveyed the damage - and were humbled and awed by the destruction we saw. I remember it was hot - our sleeping quarters resembled a MASH unit - we had tents everywhere - and the daytime temperatures would get up to 114 degrees. Bleh.

I saw this house while driving one day...interesting message...

We worked hard that week, painting inside the home of an elderly retired pastor and her husband, who was wheelchair-bound and in the advanced stages of Parkinson's. They went out of their way to welcome us and make us feel at home - and I often wondered, "Just who is helping who here?" as this couple's hospitality and warmth and love surrounded us all week.

I returned to New Orleans the following summer - 2007 - where we spent a week sheet-rocking inside the home of Miss Judy. Miss Judy was most appreciative of our help, sending us off with a last supper of mouth-watering jambalaya and shrimp po' boys. Although the food was absolutely divine, it was Miss Judy's smile and gratefulness and love that I will always remember.

I discovered that mudding a ceiling is very hard work...

In 2008, it was time to head back - and this time, I spent the week as the "gofer" in, "Go for some more paint!" or, "Go for a Miter Saw." Having access to a delivery van, myself and another lady made the rounds all over New Orleans, delivering tools and supplies to numerous other volunteer groups who were assisting the residents in the rebuilding effort.

Our group in 2008...I'm way up there in the back on the left...

That week was unique, in that it allowed me to go all over the city - and see the progress - or lack of it - since the storm. Some areas had rebounded quite nicely - and others, such as the Lower Ninth Ward - not so much. The Lower Ninth was enshrined in 6-foot weeds and overgrowth, giving it a desolate, hopeless feeling....three years after the floods.

Where were you during Hurricane Katrina?

Did it change your life?

Did it give you pause for reflection...on what's really important? What really matters? How fragile and fleeting our lives can be?

And how - in the scope of things - it's not the "stuff" that matters...but the relationships, the family, the friends we have - that is our biggest treasure....



Wednesday, August 25, 2010

You Say Potato....

I'm getting ready to hit the road on Saturday and drive SOLO for 21 hours, 1400 miles, from Kansas City to Ft Myers, Florida.

Crazy? Insane? Stupid? Outrageous?

Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.

My goal is to get one of our extra vehicles - my "old" 2006 Mazda Speed 6 - down to our house in Florida so that we have a car while we're there. Hey - we rented a minivan last month for a week while in Florida, and it was over $1,000. A thousand dollars??!! That IS crazy and insane and outrageous! I refuse to pay one more dime in car rental fees, so hence the road trip.

So, I've decided to pack some things here at the KC house and transport them with car will be loaded to the rafters with all necessary stuff to make our lives easier in Florida. Hubs would beg to differ on what I consider necessary, but he doesn't get a vote in this. I'm the one putting my life on the line by driving all by my lonesome for 2 days - so I get to make the decisions. Such as what my cargo is.

One of the items that I consider a necessity is a giant carved wooden pelican. The pelican came with our house last year - so I guess you could say we "inherited" it. We certainly never bought the darn thing. "Woody Woodpecker" is 4-foot tall - and is actually a unique conversation piece. However, I've decided that the pelican would look so much better at a beach house in Florida than a log cabin at the lake. Theming, and all....

I was asking Hubs to help me lift it today, so I can get it into the car. The thing is solid wood and weighs a ton.

I sweetly looked at him, and said, "Honey...sweetie pie...can you lift the giant pecan and put it in the back seat for me??"

He looked at me and said, "What? Pecan? What the hell is THAT? And why would a PECAN be necessary in Florida?!"

I realized what I had just said, and busted a gut laughing. I said, "Hey - it's an honest mistake. I just left out a happens all the time, I'm sure...! I just left out the 'li' in 'pelican'! Give me a break! Pelican - pecan - potato - tomato. It's all the same!"

He shook his head and said, "No, doesn't happen all the time. Only YOU could leave an entire syllable out of a word."

I'm blaming it on the stress of the upcoming road trip - it's certainly NOT because I'm getting old.

Right? Right?



Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Oh, The Irony

I spent a good part of yesterday dealing with the aftermath of the Crashing Hard Drive Computer Disaster...

...and the irony of it didn't escape me.

Here I am - the Chairman of Disaster Services with the American Red Cross in Kansas City...supposed to be all about being "prepared" and "ready" for disasters...

I go out all the time and do presentations for people on the importance of being prepared and "Red Cross Ready."

I tout the importance of having a Tornado Kit in basements, in the event a tornado should strike. I tout the importance of having a go-to Evacuation Kit, in the event you need to quickly evacuate your home (chemical spill, flooding, etc).

...and for the most part, I am Red Cross Ready. I have the Tornado Kit in my basement; I have the Evacuation Kit in my bedroom.

...but when it came time to be prepared and ready in case my computer crashed?

Uh....not so much.

I wasn't backing it up - and consequently, I lost all of my data. Which is a HUGE disaster for papers, presentations, photos, financial records, etc, etc.

I am beating my head on the table as I write this.

So - lesson learned. I went out yesterday and got what I needed to always have a back-up on the laptop.

It's always after a disaster when we learn our hardest lessons....



Monday, August 23, 2010

Weekend in Review: The Crash Edition

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness...."

The famous words from the classic Charles Dickens' novel, "A Tale of Two Cities."

And thus describes our weekend....

It was another Freaky Friday - with severe thunderstorms, hail, rain, wind - the whole gamut of nasty weather that leads one to sit inside and thank God for shelter. The lightning got so bad, that we powered off all of our electronics and spent the evening reviewing State Capitals with our Daughter, in preparation of an upcoming test she has. Now - if THAT doesn't sound like an exciting evening, I don't know what does.

Saturday morning, Hubs and Sons went over to our "old" house (the one that is still on the market and hasn't sold yet) to do some yard work...and weren't they surprised to find a giant tree that had come crashing down in the storm the night before?! They got to spend hours cleaning up tree debris - not what they had really planned for the day. Thank goodness nothing was under the tree when it decided to crash.

That evening, Daughter had a sleepover at a friend's house, so Hubs and I took advantage of that and had a date. We had dinner at Habanero's, a great little Mexican restaurant here in town...and then headed to the show to see "Eat, Pray, Love."

Now...string me up by my thumbs if you must, but I really, really, really am NOT a Julia Roberts fan. In fact, it's a toss-up with me on whom I don't like more - Julia or Jennifer (Aniston.) Bleh. Give me someone edgier any day - like Angelina. That's more my style.

However, I AM a fan of Elizabeth Gilbert's book, "Eat, Pray, Love" - and so I enjoyed the movie. I was curious to see how they would take a book and condense it for the screen - and although it was interesting to see what they chose to focus on, it turned out better than I had thought it would.

I REALLY enjoyed the Italy scenes; I left the theater craving some serious wine, pasta and gelato. And some Javier Bardem. Yum.

Sunday...I woke up with eager anticipation for the day, as we had decided to have a Family Field Trip.

We used to do Family Field Trips on a regular basis - where we'd pack up the kids and explore our city and all it has to offer. And then - about a year ago - our life changed when we bought the lake house, and any free time we had was spent remodeling the house, decorating the house, living in the house, etc, etc. Our Family Field Trips fell by the wayside.

About two weeks ago, my 17-year old Son observed, "Mom...I miss Family Field Trip Day. Those were always fun."

Bam. Ouch. Pow. Right in the gut. That hurt. It was a serious wake-up call that we needed to sit back and rethink our priorities. We had let material things get in the way of spending quality time with the kids.

So, with a general plan for the day, I picked up my laptop to do a quick Internet search on operating hours for the venue we wanted to visit that day - when the unthinkable happened.

Not only could I NOT get internet - I couldn't even get the computer. It was kaput. Nada. Nothing. This was ominous. I quickly called Apple and made a reservation for later that day to bring in the laptop - surely it couldn't be serious and they'd be able to fix it in no time. Right?

So, we gathered up the kids (3 of them!) and headed to our first stop - lunch. We went to Gates BBQ - one of Kansas City's finest examples for the barbeque that we're famous for. I had not realized that my kids had NEVER been there! Never!!! That's ridiculous!

We chowed down on some fabulous BBQ beef and pork, and with our fingers and faces greasy and happy from the delicious sauce, we all declared that the BBQ was fantastic.

Our tummies happy, we headed to our next destination - the Arabia Steamboat Museum. In 1856, a steamboat sunk in the Missouri River. The passengers were saved - but the cargo was not. And what a cargo it was...200 tons of brand-new merchandise that sunk 45 feet down. To lay there for over 100 years, until 5 people from the Kansas City area decided to unearth this buried treasure - and it's now preserved in a fantastic museum here in town.

To see the cargo on display now is like visiting a Walmart from truly is amazing.

The kids were fascinated by all of the treasures on display - my oldest son loved the historical aspect of everything; my 17-year old son loved the giant paddle wheel; and my 11-year old pet lover was heartbroken to hear that the only casualty of the disaster was a mule...who went down with the ship.

Eventually, it was time to head down to the Apple store so they could diagnose my Mac and fix it up. Or so I hoped. We got to the Apple store, and after waiting an interminable amount of time to get called, the diagnosis was not good. My hard drive had crashed.

And had I backed anything up?

The Apple guru said he'd replace the hard drive on site, and I could come back in an hour to pick it up.

I was heartbroken. And mad (at myself). And sick. Wondering what I had lost. Wondering what it would take to rebuild everything.

Hubs and I went for a walk, and happened to discover a delightful little gelato shop.

How perfectly apropo. After seeing Julia Roberts consume that delightful gelato in the movie Friday night, it was only completely necessary for us to sample some.

And the verdict? A 8.0 for the Reece' was light and creamy and very refreshing. The chocolate - meh. Not as good as what I had in Italy...but still good. Perhaps a 6.5.

The new hard drive was ready to be picked up at 6:00 p.m., so we packed it up, packed up the kids, and headed back home.

17-year old son came in last night to kiss me goodnight, and said, "Mom - today was really fun. Well, except for the computer thing. Sorry about that. But the rest? It was REALLY fun!"

And that?

Is what it's all about.



Saturday, August 21, 2010

Post Surgery Observations

Two days post skin cancer surgery...

...I got to take a shower today! Woot! It's the simple things in life we often take for granted, and showers are one of those things. I couldn't take one yesterday because of the humongous bandage/dressing on my neck. I had to leave it on until this morning - and it could not get wet. It's amazing how "better" one feels physically when one's hair is shampooed and one feels "clean." I'm sure my family is happy, too. (wink)

...No exercise for at least a week, which bums...Apparently, this can promote bleeding, and we don't want that. I feel stifled. I would like to kayak, but I can't take the chance of tipping - and getting the incision soaked in the lake. I am bummed. Melancholic. Restless.

...some bruising - a little swelling - but my "Vampire" bite is looking better and better...right? Right?

...I began having some pretty awful & disheartening symptoms yesterday, and eventually deduced that it was the antibiotics causing them. The side effects I was having are listed on the serious" side - and so I stopped taking the antibiotic "immediately" - per instructions - and must now get ahold of my doctor so that he knows. Sigh. There's always something.

...not much pain today at all - which is wonderful! I think I may be able to go all day today without any pain pills.

So, all in all, life is good - other than the antibiotic incident. Now, I'm off to enjoy the day - quietly, though. Nothing strenuous. Perhaps I'll just sit and enjoy the fabulous sunshine we have going on here in the Heartland.



Thursday, August 19, 2010

Kissed by a Vampire

If I sound loopy in this post, blame it on the drugs.

This morning, I had the unmitigated joy of having some minor surgery done on my neck...ever hear of the MOHS surgery? It's a chemosurgery often done to treat common types of skin cancer.

I now have this HUGE kick-ass bandage on my neck that looks like every single vampire between Dracula and Edward Cullen (from "Twilight") had their way with me. It's pretty freakin' awesome.

The doctor - who looked like Doogie Howser, only blonde and with glasses - was kind, and actually put the stitches INSIDE my skin...he said that this way, I wouldn't look like "Frankenstein" ...his words, not mine. He then went on to say, "Yeah - I don't think you want a railroad track scar on your neck."

I was kinda' looking forward to having a kick-ass scar to show off to the kids...but deep-down, my vanity is very thankful for the doctor's actions today. A "Railroad track" scar? Um, yeah...don't think so.

The surgery went well, for the most part. I warned Dr. Doogie ahead of time that I am somewhat immune to anesthetic...if you give the normal person, say, 500 mg of an anesthetic, I will need double that. I know this, because I have had lots of surgeries and procedures, and it has happened every time. Every time. No exceptions. I mean, I know ME better than anyone else knows ME. I am the EXPERT on ME. And I know what I need.

He didn't believe me...and sure enough, after he gives me the shot in my neck to numb it, and starts cutting, YOWZA!!!

I felt it. It HURT. Like Hell.

He says, " felt that?"

Uh, yeah...I did. What gave you that idea, Doogie? Perhaps when I screamed and shot off the table 3 feet??!!

He gave me a second shot, and I held back the, "I told you so!" comment that was on the tip of my tongue.

Don't piss off a doctor who's holding a needle in one hand and a scalpel in the other.

I've learned that, too, in all of my surgeries and procedures.



Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Yaking in the Morning

There's something very calming when you are alone...on a the early morning hours...

...just me and my vessel of choice...

...a bright turquoise kayak...

...I love to hear the paddle dip into the water...the sounds of the water gently splashing and trickling...while the rest of the world sleeps, and there is quiet...

...there's something very empowering, knowing that it is me and my strength that powers this vessel and makes it glide smoothly across the glistening waters...

...and I love to interact with the birds of the lake as they have come to accept me as just another constant in the morning...

...the blue heron squawks as he takes flight...the buzzards circle around, perhaps hoping I'm their next meal...the ducks and the geese swim slowly by, enjoying the morning sunshine... morning "yaking" is becoming my zen...what I look forward to before I begin each day...

...I am already dreading when the weather turns cold and the ice takes over the lake, which will prevent me from my morning ritual...

...but until that day comes, I eagerly awaken each day and conquer the lake, one stroke at a time....



Monday, August 16, 2010

Weekend in Review: Cracking Watermelons

Oh, come, you go, so fast, so sweet....

Friday night presented a huge dilemma for me...on one hand, we had season tickets to Starlight Theater to see "Beauty and the Beast." Call me a sentimental fool - but I love, love, love this musical...! I love Belle and Gaston and the Beast and Luminere and Mrs. Potts - need I go on?! However - it is an outdoor venue, and Friday night was, like, 115 degrees in the shade.

Friday night was also the FIRST pre-season game for the Kansas City Chiefs. Okay, call me a football fool,but I have been waiting for this night for MONTHS! I realize it's only pre-season - but it would be my first opportunity to see our new players, our new offensive coordinator, our new plays - on television, in the comfort of my air-conditioned home.

What to do, what to do? Beauty, or the Chiefs?

In the end, knowing that I don't tolerate heat very well, I sent Hubby and Daughter to see Beauty, while I stayed home to watch my football game.

In the end, I don't know who got the worst deal...Hubs and Daughter got drenched in a soaking, severe thunderstorm during the show - which ended up being called off 3/4 of the way through, due to the lightning and 60 mph winds...while I watched a horror show on TV, as the Chiefs lost to the Atlanta Falcons, 20-10. Grrrrr.

On Saturday, we were shocked, SHOCKED, when our doorbell rang and it was Hub's sister and her hubby....we have not seen them in a year, although they live a mere 20 miles away. They are very nice - but they aren't social creatures - and it was fantastic to see them. And thank goodness the house was clean - because, of course, they wanted a complete tour of the new house.

Saturday evening was date night for Hubs and I. We have season tickets to the American Heartland Theater, which is INDOORS and air-conditioned, thank goodness....The show we saw was the Tony-winning, "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee."

This show rocked. It rocked. We laughed so hard at times, we were crying...we couldn't catch our breath between jokes! Hubs said later, "I'd go back again next week to see that show." Which means a lot. Cuz' he doesn't often say that, let me tell you.

Anywho, if you EVER get a chance to see this show, DO IT! You will not be disappointed!

On Sunday, we had a family party for Hub's side of the family - a birthday party for Daughter, and a going-away party for our son-in-law, who left today for Army boot camp for 5 months.

The party was at our house, so I went to the grocery store to buy stuff for tacos, as well as pick up the cake and drinks. Hubs was dying to have watermelon at the party, so for $3.99, I got a 55-pound watermelon. You think I'm exaggerating on that - but I swear, it weighed 55 pounds.

While in the parking lot, I was lifting the watermelon from the grocery cart to put it into my trunk, when the unthinkable happened.

That huge sucker rolled right out of my arms and hit the concrete. THUNK!




It wasn't TOO bad - just a crack right down the middle - so I picked it up, stuck it in my trunk, and drove hurridly home - knowing that watermelon juice was now soaking my back seat. Ew.

We had a great party last night - tacos, chocolate cake, peach cobbler (that I made - BY HAND, mind you!), ice cream, and, of course - watermelon.'s supposed to be a beach, but I think HyVee dropped the ball on this one...which is better than dropping a watermelon!

And the best part of last night? Our daughter #2, along with her Hubs, showed up with the mixins' for chocolate martinis...and I learned how to make them - all by myself!!!!

Okay, that may not sound like much, but take a look at that Bucket/Life list on the side of my blog...See #5? Make a martini without a recipe!

I DID IT! I DID IT! And they were SOOOOOO awesome!

At one point, I added some Caramel ice-cream topping to the chocolate martini, and christened it the "Snickers" martini. Hey - not only can I make them without a recipe, I'm inventing new drinks!!!

How cool is that?!

Okay, it's not that big of a deal. But it was still exciting for me....

...And it sure was a whole lot better than watching the Chiefs implode on Friday night. Next time I watch football, I'm going to have a whole buffet of martinis in front of me.

I'll need them - if they continue to play like they did Friday night.



Sunday, August 15, 2010

Summer Musings

Oh, summer...where did you go?

School starts next week for the kiddies, and I find myself musing on all of the grand plans we had for the summer...the mountains we would climb, the oceans we would explore, the worlds we would conquer...

...and I found myself reflecting on what we DID accomplish these past few hot, hazy and humid weeks....

...I huffed and puffed while hiking up a (small) mountain in Guatemala in mid-July, so I guess I did climb a mountain...

...we frolicked and splashed and refreshed in the Gulf of Mexico as we enjoyed our new house in, I guess we did explore an ocean...

...and the worlds? We explored our own backyard, as we took the boat out for numerous tubing trips...

..I took my kayak out to explore deep, dark coves in the early morning, with only the buzzards and the blue herons for company...

...we tromped through a museum in Ft Myers that took us back to the days of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford...

...I played with children in a tiny, little church on a hilltop in the mountains of Guatemala, laughing and struggling with my pathetic attempts at Spanish and Cakchiquel dialect....

....we all delved into piles of books we had checked out at our local library, taking us to places we could only dream about..., I guess we did explore the world...

We DID climb mountains...We DID explore oceans...and we DID conquer worlds...

What a great summer. We're glad to have had you.



Saturday, August 14, 2010

Lightning-Induced Redness

Oh, the things we learn from our children...

...this morning, Dear Daughter woke up with a very noticeable bloodshot eye...

...I, being the good and kind and concerned Mom, ask, "What have you done to your eye? Did you scratch it?"

...Daughter replies, "No....why?"

...I answer, "Because it's all red."

...She says, "Well...I DID look directly at the lightning bolts last night during the thunderstorm....I think that caused it. I tried not to, but I couldn't help it."

Huh. Who knew?



Friday, August 13, 2010

Good Intentions

Last night was the best night for viewing the Perseid meteor showers. Supposedly, if you had a clear night (we did), with little light (we're on a lake, so it's pretty dark), you would be able to see up to 40 meteors per HOUR around 3 or 4:00 a.m.

I went outside about 11:00 p.m. and saw a couple of streaks across the sky, which was pretty I decided I would make the effort to get up at the crack of dawn to see the entire show.

I carefully set my alarm for 3:25 a.m.

Hubby looked at me, aghast... "Are you SERIOUSLY going to get up at 3:25 a.m. to watch a meteor shower??!!" he asked, incredulously....

I calmly said, "Yes. Don't look at me like that. I can get up early when I have to." Oh, hubby of little faith...thinking I can't drag myself out of bed before noon. Geesh.

So, at 3:25 a.m., my alarm goes off...rudely interrupting a wonderful dream which was something about Brad Pitt and piles of chocolate and oodles of new shoes.

I rolled over in bed, smacked the alarm so hard, I knocked it into next week, and promptly rolled back to sleep.

As I was drifting back to la-la land, I heard Hubby say, in a sing-song voice, "Honey! It's time to get up! Come on - you can DO this! Rise and shine!"

I mumbled something incoherently, but it sounded a lot like, "Meteor, can wait until next year."

Hey. A girl has priorities, right? And I'm sorry - but Brad and chocolate and oodles of new shoes beats a meteor shower ANY day in my book.



Thursday, August 12, 2010

Happy Birthday, Warrior Princess

Eleven years ago today, my baby girl came into the world.

She arrived a bit early...she wasn't SUPPOSED to come into the world until August 30th...but hey, once a baby's coming, it's awfully hard to stop it.

And what an interesting journey it has been with my unexpected, delightful surprise....

1. She is truly a "mini me." Not so much in looks, but personality? Gah. She is EXACTLY like me. Which I know drives my Hubby insane - having to deal with TWO Drama Queens...but hey...she will at some point cease being our problem and will be someone else's. Prayers to her future life partner.

2. She is an independent, free spirit - she does what she wants; she wears what she wants; and she doesn't give a fig about peer pressure or following the rest of the goat herd. If the rest of the world is wearing white, she will wear black. If the rest of the world is heading north, she will head south. I like that about her - sometimes. Sometimes...that strong will can drive me CRAZY.

She's 2 in this photo...notice the Halloween "anklet" she has on...that was her own doing...

3. She is an "animal whisperer." She's never met an animal that she doesn't like, and that doesn't like her back. I've never seen someone who uncannily can relate to any animal she's ever come into contact with...they respond to her in ways that are a little freaky.

All she has to do is lay down, and the animals come running...

4. With that free, independent spirit comes a true artistic soul...she is my future Monet, my future Van Gogh...her imagination knows no bounds and her creativity jumps from the page in her artwork. What I express in words - she expresses with color.

My baby at 7 years old...

5. She has a passion for Japanese anime...why? Who knows...again, she does her own thing and she will not follow the crowd.

I have learned to not hold this child back - but to let her stretch and explore and grow. I have learned to sit back and watch her as she grows into a beautiful young lady who will stand tall and proud and strong.

She is my warrior princess.

Happy Birthday, Baby.

My years strong...