Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I've Resorted to Quoting Snookie

Because I've already admitted previously on this blog that I watch the train wreck that is otherwise known as "The Jersey Shore", we will skip over the fact that yes, it's an awful show, and yes, I feel somewhat guilty for enjoying it as I do, and no, I would never let my daughter watch it.

With all of that said, I wanted to mention that the opening credits each week show Snookie squealing in delight, "I'm going to the Jersey Shore, b**ch!"

So you can imagine what went through my mind when the Red Cross came calling after Hurricane Irene, looking to deploy me. I asked where I was going, and the answer was, "The Jersey Coast."

I had to immediately call my son and leave him a voice mail, squealing in delight, "I'm going to the Jersey Shore!" (But I left out the b-word. Really.)

So I flew into Philly at the crack of dawn today - snagged a great little Dodge Avenger - and drove up the Jersey Turnpike to a small town called Tinton Falls, New Jersey. I came in as a supervisor, and that's what I found myself doing - jumping in with both feet at Headquarters to assist the 18 ERV crews we now have here on site. That's a pretty-good sized operation, as we never did have that many in Joplin.

Speaking of Joplin - I'm seeing a lot of familiar faces within the Red Cross - having worked with a lot of these volunteers in Joplin. It's always so heartening to see the same people at different disasters across the country - the reunions can become quite joyful.

I'm settled in my rather-posh hotel room tonight...the Molly Pitcher Inn in Red Bank.

My (single & private) room overlooks a river:

and it's a far cry from the modest dorm room I had in Joplin.

The Molly Pitcher....

The MSSU dorm room in Joplin...

You just never know with the Red Cross where you'll be laying your head - it could be a FEMA tent on the tarmac of an airport in Galveston - or a church classroom - or a dorm room - or a loading dock of an abandoned Walmart - or at the Molly Pitcher. I'll take the Molly, please.

So - about to head off to sleep, as I sit here and type this on my iPad. Excuse any typos, because really? Have you ever seen the keyboard on an Apple iPad? Horrible.

Hope to have pictures later...in the meantime...



Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Any Car Mechanics Out There?


It was really never my intention in life to become the girl that everyone talks about.

You know...the girl that weird things happen to, so that everyone else has stories to tell while at parties.

You've all been there...standing around at a party, cocktail in hand, when someone says, "You'll never believe this one...I know a gal who...." and they go on to tell the most incredible, unbelievably weird tale about some unfortunate woman.

Well. I am THAT unfortunate woman.

Take yesterday, for instance.

After my daughter heads off to school, I sleepily stumble into the kitchen, where I encounter the following note on the counter:

Innocent enough, yes?


I know my kids.

And my suspicions are immediately aroused.

Why would my "innocent" 12-year old daughter leave such a note on the counter?

Something was up, but what??

Sure enough, when I headed to the garage, I found my next clue:

A post-it note stuck to the hood of my car.

Getting closer, it read:

If you can read between the lines of my daughter's total ignorance of the layout of a car, the note is warning me that I have a tennis ball stuck in my car.

Not UNDER my car.

Not as in, it rolled under my car and I may accidentally roll over it.


But, up IN my car.

As in, the tennis ball went under my car, bounced up with enough force, that it is now lodged somewhere "up" inside my car.

Or, to put it bluntly, I have a tennis ball stuck up the a$$ of my car.

I can see the Ford mechanic now...mingling at a party...beer in hand...saying, "Yeah, I had a gal come in one day who had a tennis ball stuck up her car's a$$!"

However, in my daughter's defense...she at least warned me.

And she at least apologized.

And she loves me.




Sunday, August 21, 2011

Wild Africa Trek

Rickety old suspension bridges are usually things that I try to avoid in my every-day life.

A deathly fear of heights - and an even-more deathly fear of falling - pretty much insures that I will NOT walk across bridges that sway, and creak, and are in the clouds.

So, why did I find myself traversing not one, not two, but SEVERAL bridges a few weeks ago????

Yeah...that's me...pretty amazing, huh?!

When I found myself experiencing a "Wild Africa Trek" in Orlando with my daughter in the Animal Kingdom park at Disney.

This was truly an AMAZING experience - and although it had me pushing my fears by doing things I wasn't comfortable with - it turned out to be a truly wondrous adventure for both of us.

Although the Trek is open to up to 12 people at a time, Mickey and I found ourselves to be the only two adventurers on the particular day we did it...of course, the fact that it was a mere 110-degrees heat index that day probably had something to do with it.

We began the tour by "suiting up" in over 10 pounds of equipment - which didn't exactly help keep us cool, but did insure that we were safe. Heavy. Hot. Uncomfortable. Ugh.

We then spent 3 hours crossing several suspension bridges, getting up close and personal with some animals, and having a delightful African lunch on the plains of the savannah, along with our own personal safari guide who told us everything that we were seeing.

Mickey and I with our safari guide

Part of the equipment included these harnesses - as you can see in this picture - where I could "latch on" as I traversed the bridge, so I wouldn't plunge to my death below. Good to know.

Mickey would always go first - I'd tell her it was to make sure she was safe, but really - it was so I could insure she wasn't jumping up and down on the bridge behind me.

What was below us that was gathering my attention here?

Why, just some hungry-looking crocodiles....

"Say cheese, Mr. Crocodile" I implore, as I aim for a better picture...

...and the crocodile obliges.

After getting my picture, I take in the scene in front of me...those crocs are looking awfully hungry - maybe it's time to move on.

Crossing back over the crocodiles to move on to the next experience....

How about some hungry hippos????

Our "up close and personal" view included great (& gross) shots like this...

"Smile, honey!"

After crossing the bridges and spending time with the scary animals, it was about time for lunch. Our own private jeep took us out to the middle of the African savannah, where a delicious lunch awaited us...

A delicious toast with our "Jungle Juice" - very refreshing. And cold. Thank goodness.

We dined while we watched the animals roaming around us...giraffes, elephants, and other critters...truly special.

On surely what was the hottest day of the year. Ever.

But at the end of the day, my daughter said to me, "Best. Day. Ever, Mom."

And it truly was.

The smiles of two ladies who pushed the limits and came out on top.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Swimming With Sharks

I couldn't help but hear the ominous soundtrack of "Jaws" echoing in my head...as I looked down below through the watery depths to see several sharks circling below....

My heart was racing, my palms were sweating, and my regulator was surrounded with bubbles as my breathing intensified. My adrenaline raced as I tried to quickly swim in the other direction of the huge creatures below me.

"What the heck am I DOING???" I thought to myself...."I must be CRAZY to be swimming with sharks."

What I was doing was participating in the Walt Disney World's Aqua Seas Tour, which allows guests an opportunity to swim in the world's largest salt-water aquarium along with 2,000 marine occupants. Including sharks.

My daughter and I took the plunge last week, and I'll have to say - with the exception of the sharks - it was truly a thrilling adventure and one not to be missed.

We donned wetsuits, oxygen tanks, fins and regulators...and with a 30-minute allotment of oxygen on our backs, we quickly jumped into the 78-degree water to observe the sea life in a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Four-hundred pound sea turtles swam up close and personal - as curious about us, as we were about them. It may sound hokey, but swimming along beside these magnificent, graceful creatures leaves one breathless.

In fact, I caught myself several times holding my breath..."BREATHE!" I'd remind myself, taking a quick puff of oxygen on my regulator.

Grouper...tarpon...stingrays...swimming by so close, they were brushing up against me as I maneuvered my way around the tank.

And then I saw the sharks. Circling below.

"Is he looking at me like I'm a big, fat juicy seal?" my mind wandered.

The people of Disney had assured me that the sharks had been well-fed that morning, and would leave me alone, but I couldn't help but think, "I think that guy is looking at me like I'm a piece of chicken."

What a headline THAT would be..."Mom eaten alive at a Disney park by hungry shark. Details at 10."

As I warily watched the sharks below, I did everything I could to NOT look like a seal. Hard, when you're dressed in a black wetsuit. That looks like a seal.

The sharks left me alone, though, and I was able to gaze in wonder as they swam by...

...knowing that my 30-minutes would come to an all-too-soon end.

At the end of our adventure, I asked Mickey how she did, and she answered, "Mom...? That was...AWESOME!!!!"

I'll have to agree.



Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Arch Nemesis

Damn Yankees.

Growing up a Royals fan, it was always very easy to hate the Yankees.

Tonight, we had tickets to the Yankees vs Royals baseball game, and even with the foresight that we would probably get swept under the carpet by the boys in pinstripes, we gathered up the family and headed to the stadium.

The Yankees took the lead in the very first inning, and so we settled in for what could be a very long night....

So, imagine our surprise and delight when the Royals battled back and took the lead...we saw some amazing home runs, some amazing defensive plays, and we almost got scalped by a line-drive foul ball.

A truly perfect night at the baseball game, made even more special by spending it with the family.

And the Royals?

They squeaked by with a victory.



Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Seeing Red at Target

My first post in...ahem...a long time, and it's a rant.

I really hate to do this - I mean, not hearing from me in weeks, and the first thing I do is complain when I get an opportunity to write something, it's probably SO rude...but today's experience was rather...rude. To say the least.

So, I'm back in Kansas City from my 5-week long odyssey in Florida. Daughter and I returned last night....

Tomorrow is the first day of school.

My daughter and I visited a store while in Florida to purchase some school supplies, but we didn't quite get everything on "THE LIST." (Typed in all capitals on purpose, as we all know how important and vital "THE LIST" is.)

And we hauled all of our purchases home in our suitcases, not knowing how much time we'd have before tomorrow to get our supplies.

However, we were still in need of a red marking pen.

(And really....a red marking pen??? Isn't it the teacher's responsibility to do the marking in red? Since when did it become the student's job to grade papers??? But I digress....)

So, today...we visited our local Target store in quest of the elusive red marking pen.

We were standing in the school supply section, searching hopelessly for the pen, when a 40-some year old Target store clerk standing there says, "If you're looking for the red marking pen, you're out of luck."

"Oh, shoot," I said. "That's EXACTLY what we were looking for."

He then said, dripping with disdain, "Well...if you hadn't waited until the last MINUTE to do your shopping, you'd probably have had better luck."

Not sure if he was attempting to be funny or not, I hesitated before replying, "Well...we were out of town for the last few weeks."

"You couldn't have bought your supplies wherever you were???" he shot back.

Really? I'm being challenged in the store by an employee on when and where I do my school supply shopping?? REALLY????

So I answered, "Well, last I checked, Disney doesn't exactly sell red marking pens in their souvenir shops. Their loss, I guess. Guess I'll start taking my business to Staples - perhaps THEIR employees won't give me a lecture about when I do my shopping."

And I walked out of the store.

Moral of the story: If you must have a red marking pen, don't wait until the last minute...and don't go to Target.



Monday, August 8, 2011

Where In The World???

Where in the world have I been????

I've been very busy in my absence here in the blogging world...

I've been hanging out with super heroes, perfecting my super hero pose...

I've been on a safari through the deepest plains of Africa...

I've climbed to the top of Mount Everest and encountered the terrifying Yeti...

I've dined with royalty in a castle straight out of a fairy tale...

I've rocked out with Aerosmith and oogled at Captain Jack Sparrow...

...and I've spent an incredible few days with my daughter, as we have been immersing ourselves in all-things Disney World to celebrate her 12th birthday.

We've been here in Orlando since the 2nd, and we have some fantastic stories and photos that we'll share later...and in the meantime, back to making some incredible memories with my daughter.