Today is a Good Day!

I woke up in a good mood, I only have to work half a day today. Granted, it is supposed to be my day off, but considering my last several weeks have been filled with 12 hour days, I'm feeling pretty darn good. I don't have to travel this month either. Things are looking up.

So I'm scuffling my slippered feet through the hall and into the kitchen to fire up the coffee maker, excited at the prospect of getting my Starbucks Sumatra Roast to waft through the house. I start making music. I begin breathing in rhythm to "Jingle Bells" (great rhythm). Much to my delight, my nose begins to whistle! So now I get to enjoy the sound, not just the breathing rhythm, of "Jingle Bells" as I make my way around the kitchen. This is truly going to be a great day. Oh, what fun...!

I managed to get more Christmas shopping done last night. My remaining list is getting shorter and shorter. I hope to be done here in the next couple of days and then I can start buying stuff for me! I like that part.

Merry Christmas everyone!


Utah Photos

I'm posting some of my photos that are from my trip to Utah. Have fun looking!

Utah Desert


Fitness Camp - Day 6 and 7

I didn't journal on Friday or Saturday, so here is a general re-cap on the last two days of my week.

Friday felt easy now that my body has gotten used to exercising and eating healthy. Heather and I walked Snow Canyon again, this time hitting the petrified dunes. What amazing rock sculptures. Heather is supposed to send me the photos since I didn't have my camera with me on Friday.

We had two exercise routines on Friday that were the most fun I've ever had exercising. An instructor we hadn't seen before, Scott, came in and taught "Living Drums" and a hip-hop exercise class. The drum class was where we used exercise balls on stands and drum sticks. We moved around with different dance steps from our ball to our neighbor's balls to the left and right, keeping up various rhythms he set out for us. It was a blast. The hour went by quickly and most of us felt we could have kept going! The hip-hop class was hilarious. Most of us were terrible but we laughed at our inept moves and had fun.

On Saturday Heather, Kris, Juliet, and Trina and I all drove to Zion National Park. The park is one of three canyons in a series of natural wonders that start with Bryce Canyon and end with the Grand Canyon. The Virgin River snakes through the park and provides the water for lots of trees and foliage that is absent in most of the surrounding desert area. Coming in the fall was wonderful since we got the honor of seeing the fall colors in their glory.

We met up with the rest of our Fitness Ridge class back at the compound and went to a buffet restaurant for dinner. The dietitian went with us and helped us look at our food selections to see if we were staying within our food "budget". I actually did really well and didn't even use up my full allocation of calories for my dinner (500). I was stuffed.

I learned a lot about the physiology of exercising and food: calories, fats, carbs, and more. I just hope I can take all this back home and keep it up. I want to establish a healthier lifestyle.

Our posse decided to keep in touch and hopefully blog to encourage each other (I will set that up) as we start into the holiday eating period.

In one week I lost 6.5% body fat! I lost 6 inches and when I weighed again on Tuesday 10/30, I had lost a total of 6 pounds!

I survived!

P.S., while waiting for the shuttle to the airport on Sunday morning, I tripped on a small bag and ungraciously went flying sideways onto the cement. Now I have a scraped up elbow and leg as well as a puffy ankle. Thankfully it is only damage to the same side as the bunged up toe. I had to do something to leave lasting memories with all the others there bidding me goodbye!

Fitness camp - Day 5 (Thursday)

Today was not so bad. I saw, I hiked, I sweated, I conquered.

I had to go back to the "Stop Sign" hike due to my foot. Heather and I walked a different trail that was flatter and went along the west side of the canyon. It was nice to have the change in scenery. I didn't have to worry about my foot hitting the end of my shoe, though it really hurt to even put my foot into the shoe today. I ended up walking on the outside edge of my foot to keep the weight off my toe.

It amazes me how one toe, particularly the big toe, can impact so much. You can't really run, walking can be painful, and even sleeping means sticking your foot out of the covers and dangling your leg off the side of the bed so nothing touches your foot. Stupid toe.

My knee seemed to be o.k., but when I did "treading" this afternoon I found my knee being pretty weak by the time I hit the middle. Treading is HARD! We pick a machine: treadmill, elliptical, bike, etc., and then work on them for a few minutes getting warmed up (as if we aren't warmed up from exercising 3 to 4 hours already). Next, you go as hard as you can for 5 minutes. You go so hard you can't even talk; your heart rate is high (mine went to 170) and you're truly puffing and sweating. Then you bring it down for 5 minutes so you "recover". Then go 4 minutes as fast as you can go and 4 minutes to recover; then 3, then 2...all the way down to 30 seconds of each to finish. It was the most brutal of all workouts but felt like it was probably very effective. By about the 3 minute stretch my bad knee felt like it was a noodle. 'Course pretty much my entire body was noodlicious by the end. But the big point: I MADE IT!

I didn't die today.

Fitness Camp - Day 4 (Wednesday)

O.K., yesterday I was mistaken. I didn't die. Today I woke up dead. I can hardly move, hardly think, hardly anything.

I don't remember breakfast. I don't remember lunch or dinner either, though they are always good. I've been having a good time bonding with various ladies and we're encouraging each other to keep going. I've met Chris from the Buffalo, NY area, Mary Lou from Calgary, Juliet and Trina from Texas, and Heather from Hawaii. We seem to be congealing together as a group. There are lots of folks here that are going to stay for 2 to 8 weeks and more! There are a number of men and even some folks who don't seem like they need to lose any weight, but they love hiking and fitness in general and are zipping through the classes with ease.

Here's a typical schedule:

7:00 a.m. Breakfast
8:00 Hiking
11:30 Aquasize
12:45 Lunch
1:30 Food, exercise lecture, or cooking demo
2:30 Cardio workout
3:30 Kickboxing or pilates
4:30 Gentle stretch or yoga
5:30 Dinner
6:15 Lecture

My hike was grueling. I did the intermediate hike (they call it "moderate") and it was about 7 miles or so. The scenery was beautiful as always, but I am now part of the walking wounded. There was a section where we had to scramble down some steep, narrow passages and my knee popped. The pain was incredible. For about 10 minutes there I thought they'd have to medi-vac me out of there. Thankfully I kept walking and taking care. It slowly numbed up and the swelling helped swaddle my injured knee.

But wait! That's not all! In all the downhill scrambling, my left foot kept sliding some in my shoe and my big toe kept banging the tip of my shoe. By the end of the hike I could tell my toe was in serious danger of falling off. Sure enough, back in my room when I peeled my sock off, the toe nail was loose and I could see blood seeping out around the edges and the top. Thankfully, my beautiful pedicure hid the probable hideousness of it from the casual viewer. But I knew that serious puss-filled toe-jam was in my future if I didn't keep it clean and free of sock lint for the rest of the week.

Now I'm not sure how I'll keep up with the hiking for the next two days. I'll have to plot and scheme to figure out how to keep up with all my classes when my foot hurts so bad; oh yeah, and the knee.

They say most people "hit the wall" either Wednesday or Thursday. I think it was today. I saw a wall, hit it at a dead run and then, splat, my body slowly slithered to a lumpy mass on the floor.

Help, I've fallen, and I can't get up!

Fitness Camp - Day 3

My head hurt and my stomach was in major upheaval this morning - mostly due to the pain I think. Cathy, who is in the room next to mine, gave me a caffeine tablet that was equivalent to 1 cup of coffee. Within an hour my headache had subsided. Cool!

I thought sure I'd pass out. Today, I did the same exact hike as yesterday, and it was way harder! It has a 1000 foot elevation gain the last 2 miles, so even though the path was paved, it was hard. But I made it! 4.2 miles to the top and then back down. I was so happy I kissed the stop sign.

I did all my classes again today (if I do all the classes for the whole week, I win the "Fitness Challenge" T-Shirt).

I didn't think I'd make it, but I did...and I died.

Fitness Camp - Day 2

I woke up raring to go. We had fruit and high fiber blueberry pancakes for breakfast and then headed immediately out for our daily 2+ hour hike. On Monday's the whole group does the same hike, they call it the "Stop Sign" hike because the goal is to make it to the road at the end of the canyon that has a stop sign. The rest of the week there will be 3 choices depending on your hiking ability.

We hiked in Snow Canyon and it was spectacular scenery. I quickly ended up lagging towards the back of the pack due to repeated stops to take pictures. The rocks are ruddy red and in stately formations throughout the canyon; many rising hundreds, if not a thousand feet high. There were towers and petrified dunes that were windswept; carved into beautiful curves and lines. It was truly breathtaking.

The whole day was filled with back-to-back exercise regimes. What a day. I'm beyond exhausted. I also have a growing headache which is most likely due to caffeine withdrawals.

I had a massage at 7:00 and I hoped it would help. Unfortunately, it didn't. If this headache doesn't get better, I don't now how I can repeat this process tomorrow.

Walking the Plank - Day 1

As promised, I am blogging my journal from my stay at Fitness Ridge in St. George, Utah.

I'm nervous, yet excited. I hope I can lose 30 pounds in one week; just kidding (though it would be nice).

I woke up at 3:09 a.m. in order to catch my flight to Las Vegas. From Vegas I hopped a shuttle to St. George, about 2 hours away. I now get to say I've been in Arizona too. Highway 15 crosses over a little corner of Arizona before it continues on into Utah. So I've been in 4 states in one day: Washington, Nevada, Arizona, and Utah.

I sat next to a lady who lives in Australia. She was probably in her early 60's. Her story was pretty fascinating. She is from the U.S., but when visiting Australia on vacation, she met and fell in love with her husband and stayed on. Wow! That's love at first sight. She was on her way to visit a friend who was retired in St. George.

The Fitness Ridge facility is brand new, tidy and neat; though not large. They keep the number of guests down so that there is a good staff/guest ratio. We actually have one of the larger "classes" that they've had with a total of 32 guests. There are only 40 rooms and most folks opt to double up, though I paid extra for my own room. The decor is very nice; "organic" as the designers on TV would say, with natural woods, stucco, natural fibers and metals making up the furniture and adorning the walls. So far the staff is very friendly and I get the impression that most of them are related or close enough friends that they almost could be related.

After a light dinner of salad, vegetable pasta and a pumpkin souffle we had an orientation so we would know how it all works for the week. Following that I had a pedicure and manicure.

I hope to sleep hard tonight because it sounds like tomorrow is going to be a VERY full day staring at 7:00 a.m.

I hope I live.


Stormy Weather

I just had to share some photos from photographer Ross Fartheringham out of Everett. He managed to capture some shots of the Cathlamet and Kittitas, two Washington State ferries in the October 18th windstorm.

They are absolutely incredible. Check them out here:


I Thought I Died

After great soul searching this last summer, I decided that it was time to do something to really kick myself into a healthier gear. Up until about two years ago, I ate better, exercised more, and generally had my weight under control (except for the ubiquitous last 10 pounds that seems to hang around on most of us). I could point to a number of things that contributed to my spiral into this out-of-control-eat-whatever lifestyle: a couple of bouts of depression, schedule changes with my home-life that meant dinner times weren't consistent, health issues, and so on. However, those are really only excuses. I had become deeply discouraged, embarked on flagellating self-talk, and even considered plastic surgery to remove my butt.

After a few months of watching other parts of my body grow into pudgy marshmellowy lumps, I decided that I'd either better get it together or determine that I could be content being a soft and lovable pillow of mom, and someday grandmother. NOT! So I decided I needed to make some serious changes. I dug around in my closet and found my electrically charged cattle prod and started brainstorming the best ways to use it on myself. (Notice I'm still into the punishing mode).

I did a 3 week detox in Aug/Sept. What do you know! I made it through it, restrictive diet and all; I lived. While I didn't lose any weight, the nearly vegetarian diet that went with it encouraged me to take another step in the right direction. I began looking for fitness camps/spas. I started researching them on the Internet and making a list of what they offered and their program features and costs. My sister, Linda, really wanted to go with me too. Well I decided to do a quick one this fall during the one week my job could spare me. I hope to do another one this spring with her and maybe a few others I could rustle up to make it fun. I chose Fitness Ridge in St. George Utah.

I'll write in my journal entries from that week stay so you can all stay abreast of what it was like, but suffice it to say, I am still here on this planet. I truly thought I had died on day 2. On day 3, I realized I was mistaken. Day 2 was only a little taste of the pain that greeted me early in the a.m. on day 3. By day 4 though my body began to even out and I felt like I could really make it through the week just fine. Friday and Saturday were easier yet.

Now the huge monster in the corner of my mind is this: CAN I KEEP UP THE HEALTHY EATING AND EXERCISING? Of course I can't exercise 5 to 6 hours a day, but it is imperative to keep myself active and moving, particularly since my job is so sedentary. Also, winter is coming and the endless days of gray drizzle that keeps most of us indoors.

I'm going to do this. I can be healthy. I can eat right and be full. I will survive.


I Just Bought $50 worth of Embroidery Yarn

Have you ever bought something you don’t need because you felt obligation to the sales person? They spent so much time, and were so helpful. You don’t even know who they are and you make the purchase because you felt like you should. Maybe it’s even a friend who has home party showing Tupperware or make-up. How about the time you changed your opinion to match that of a fiery co-worker, or entire gaggle of opinionated friends or associates, only to walk away wondering why you didn’t stick up for your own beliefs? In any given situation one can either influence, or be influenced. You tell me.

I spent years and years being influenced. Through school, I took on beliefs, philosophies, political views, and even religious doctrines, of others without thoroughly educating myself on why I believed what I believed.

We all are influenced to some extent simply because we educate ourselves, by reading other people’s works, listening to teachers and professors, and parents. But at one point I became aware that I was influenced way more than I was influencing. I even noticed that I took on the mannerisms of people around me, the favorite buzz-word, the hair smoothing gesture, that particular vocal inflection, or even a stylized giggle!

Our life is an amalgamation of everything we absorb around us. Our styles reflect each tidbit we pick-up along life’s pathway. Even though we all search for our individuality, the things that make us unique, distinctive, and memorable, we still are a sum of all that has stimulated us throughout our lives. There is no escape. Many influences are healthy and good, but it is important to also become the energizer or motivator and not just the seduced and led. One can break the cycle and take a quantum leap into the revolutionary role of being the leader.

The highly successful leaders of the world are known as influencing everything around them. Anyone can revolutionize things around them. Being a leader hinges on several characteristics. The Bible gives a run-down of some of those when speaking of leadership in the church (1 Tim 3:1-7).

1. Be above reproach - Have credibility and integrity in all areas

2. Temperate - self-disciplined, controlled. Life should not be out of control, or full of chaos, negative or obsessive behavior patterns.

3. Hospitable – Be able to create a warm environment where your relationships can be for relationships can grow and be meaningful in the positive sense. Being a part of an “inner crowd” or clique does not create this hospitable atmosphere, rather an exclusivist one.

4. Be gentle & not quarrelsome - gentle with words, a controlled use of the tongue

5. Sensible – be levelheaded and wise. But don’t let your definition of being logical or sensible turn into an attitude that keeps you from stepping out and embracing new things.

6. Respectable – be decent and gain the respect of those around you.

A few additional characteristics I’ve noted by examining other highly successful influencers around me:

1. Confident – one of strong belief; having no uncertainty. In other words, full of faith; or what I imagine the word faithfull to mean.

2. Knowledgeable – continuing to expand their knowledge. They know what they know and yet are able to say when they don’t know. They rely on others around them for expertise they don’t have. They are ever-reaching to better themselves by expanding their knowledge.

3. Visionaries – having keen foresight; they think long-term and fashion their lives around the future, and letting each day be filled with things that will enable that future.

Now there are many influential people who do not have these characteristics. Their only followers are those whom they can intimidate, so they take great pains to surround themselves with those types of people. A good example is this behavior is with gangs, and with bullies. Their work is done through intimidation, dominance. Much of the time these sorts have great charisma that adds to the attraction for their followers. But that’s not the kind of influencing I would encourage anyone to embrace. One is a godly way to inspire others; the other is an ungodly manipulative, bullying style.

What do you believe? Are you an encourager or are you someone who actual de-motivates the ideas and hopes of those around you?

Here are some examples of negative “influencers:”

• Parents – did your parents (or even friends) ever dash your hopes for an idea you had? Maybe you wanted to go to school to be a doctor or lawyer or start your own business. Did someone say to “You can’t do that,” or did you hear the “you’re too stupid,” or “you don’t have what it takes to do that.” Maybe it was a simple “we can’t afford that” without giving or even examining the alternatives that might be available.

• Spouses – have you had a spouse that was too fearful to let you branch out and express yourself in a new manner? Maybe you wanted to go back to school, or start a small business, or hobby. Did you get shut-down?

• Teachers – “You’re not bright enough,” or “You should look at something less demanding for a career.”

• Friends – The teenage years are full of angst and problems as kids learn how to deal with peer pressure and how to socialize in a very inhospitable world. If you don't wear the right clothes, listen to the right music, or party with the right people, then you don't measure up. Kids learn to measure each other up and discard anyone not fitting in. Sad, but with a huge impact on all, though particularly on those tossed to the outskirts of teenage society.

• Yourself – Your “self-talk” is probably the most powerful influencer of all. Do you let yourself think that you can do whatever you put your mind to, or do you always find reasons why you can’t, or shouldn’t?

A Godly motivator will encourage those around them to acts of faith. They will influence people to good works, faithfulness, righteousness, and Godly behavior. Prayers will be full of God’s promises, blessings and faith. (Other people may use prayer as a tool to pass judgment.)

Do you pressure people out of intimidation and bullying instead of using the Godly characteristics spoken of in Timothy? Do your interactions with others bring pain, hurt, and offense to others? Are you limiting someone in a destiny that God has mapped out for him or her by speaking things that are not encouraging and of God’s word? Or are you seasoning your talk with mercy, grace, faith, and encouragement? Are you speaking life into yourself and others?

More importantly is the maturing of our leadership qualities and abilities. I want to lead and not be led; influence more and yet influenced by the right things and people.


Beginning O' Summer

Today is beautiful and slated to be too hot for me to be expected to do stinkin' yard work the day I get the rest of my front flower beds done! It's only 10:45 a.m. and I've already been up and at it since 6:00 a.m. because it sounded like I was sleeping next to a chainsaw I awoke full of energy. I went grocery shopping, put them away, purchased the rest of my plants, cleared the front flower bed, added more topsoil, and am now thinking of bailing out here taking a short break before I finish planting. All-in-all, I've done more than a human should do in one morning a good bit of work so far.

We're supposed to get up into the low 80's today, which has me screaming for an air conditioner is not typical for this time of year. Tonight I'm hosting my kids and their spouses for our monthly Family Night where we all argue about what games to play have fun playing games and eating my food. We'll BBQ tonight I hope I don't burn it. Yumm-Oh!

OMG! I just scared myself spitless looked in the mirror and saw what I looked like. I have dirt sticking to my face, upper arms, and chest area. I look stupid very dirty indeed! However, I'll wait until I finish my planting and then go abandon James & let him clean up my yard mess clean up and then probably take a much-needed rest. I deserve it since he woke me up so early with his nasal chorus!

Happy June 2!


I love Gadgets

I've decided that I'm a techno-geek. I love gadgets. I seem to upgrade my digital camera every two years, then there's the ubiquitous cell phone step up at the end of every contract (unless one sends it down a nearby toilet - see earlier blog on this subject), Bluetooth headsets, VOIP phones, fax machines, printers, scanners, iPods, Xbox, pedometers, label makers,guitar tuners, among many other things. Now, I have an internet headphone and web cam. My office outlets remind me of the little charcoal snakes we used to buy for the Fourth of July where one little black pellet can spew out these thin spiral serpents. Well, I have so many gadgets that need their regular infusion of life support that every single outlet in my office seems to be extruding these snakes.

Now I'm thinking my camera, bordering on two years old, may be due for my donation pile. I bought it about two years ago, and though I actually really like its features, I've been dismayed at the growing number of aftifacts rendered on the pictures; mostly those in moderate to low light. That will never do. I've really taken to photography and with travel being in my long-term plan, I really have to make sure my camera is taking top notch photos.

My son is telling me I should also get a Zune as well as the new Xbox 360l both being Microsoft products of course. But I think about my iPod. That thing cost me 3 months worth of Ricky's laundry to buy it off of him (I think I paid too much). I also have probably close to 1500 songs, of which probably 200 are iTune only compatible. I'd have to figure out a way to convert them to the standard MP3 (which I should do anyway). About the Xbox's only a matter of time. I'm running out of games I like for the old Xbox. I keep getting used ones from Game Stop and have about finished any of the ones that were of any interest for me. I bought two more to play while James was gone this weekend and ended up turning them off out of boredome. Ah'd think I'd find some other way to entertain myself.

What would it do without the Internet? I wouldn't be able to work from home, nor would I be able to search for the nearest RadioShack location or prepare for my next trip. I am to actually speaking to make computer right now and it is typing my blog. How cool is that? I do wish that it would do my dishes too. Maybe someday.

I've also been looking at house plans online. Tour hope is is to find some land sometime here in the next couple of months so that we can build a house after we sell this one. Our goal is to find two lots close to each other so we can build right next to Linda and Rod. There's so many house plans online that we have narrowed down to the type of plan we prefer. It's amazing what you can find online.

So between the Internet, gadgets, in my computer listening to me and typing whatever I say, things are sure getting more and more space age every day. I love it.


Just Checking In

I have a day off!! Normally every-other-Fridays I watch my two nieces (almost 4 and 6 months); but today they are enjoying the thrills of Sea World and all things cool in San Diego with their parents and Grandma. So I am footloose and fancy free.

So, what to do? James and I have tickets for Celtic Woman tonight in Portland, so we'll leave sometime here to head down that way. But before we go I still have time for....? Hard to choose because I have so many things begging for my attention. Things like:

- Painting my toenails
- Updating my blog (hah!)
- Send email out to family about Alison's upcoming birthday
- Prepare a sympathy card for my mom - her sister died and the service is Saturday
- Write another Mother's Day card for my mom (even though I already gave her one with her present last week; the family is seeing her on Sunday at Amber's Dance and I'd like to hand her something).
- Find out if the property we like in Federal Way is sub-dividable.
- Stop at Walmart for more puppy pads and quick dry red nail polish for my toes

Then there's what to do about a package that is due to come to me today. Do we stick around until UPS gets it to us, thus probably impinging on our joyful outing to Portland? Or do I let it sit and see if I can get someone to come get it and put it in the house so it won't get stolen?

Ah the choices...I think I'll try to do them all!



I'm Done!

A bunch of us went down to Florida for Mandy and Daniel's wedding on March 26Th. I had the added benefit of having to be down there for a portal conference so I ended up with 10 days in the Orlando area. I love the 80 degree weather. Even the day or two it was cloudy and rained, it was still pretty nice to have that warmth hitting the old bones. It felt good.

Mandy and Daniel's initial flights were delayed so they missed their connecting flight in Chicago. Due to it being Spring Break for the colleges, the flight alternatives for them were extremely limited. They nearly didn't get to Florida in time for their own wedding! Thankfully it all worked out in the end. The weather was warm with a slight breeze that made it very comfortable.

Sunday evening the Hunt family hosted a dinner for us all to meet and get acquainted. The group was big and boisterous, just what I like in a big family. That night the Hunt girls took Mandy out for her bachelorette party. They made her wear a goofy yellow net veil with a plastic tiara and plastic kid earrings. It was fun. We didn't get back to our house that we had rented until about 1:30 a.m! It was a great night.

Wedding day went well with the exception of the hairdresser who was an hour late. She did Mandy's hair in 45 minutes; a great job, I might add. Then off we went to the Cypress Grove Estate for the ceremony. It was a beautiful setting. It was a sweet ceremony. You can see photos from

Turns out Mandy got sick starting that very night! Daniel also picked it up a few days later. Speaking of which, James had gotten the flu and was sick nearly the entire time in Florida, Rosie was sick and Ricky was horribly sick before even coming down to Florida. When Rod and Linda joined us, Rod sounded awful too. I believe I'm the only one that wasn't sick at all, not even a sniffle. I guess the flu shot paid off this year.

So now both my offspring have found the love of their lives and are settling down to a rich and fulfilling life.

I'm Done; or am I...?


Money Laundering

James and I went to a far flung casino last weekend; a small one there on the water in Anacortes. I hate carrying a purse around there, fearful that it might get nabbed or I might leave it behind, so I put my ID, cell phone, and cash into my coat pocket. After a short time of playing tables and slots I get too warm and tie my lightweight jacket around my waist (which James won for free in Marysville on the way up there. He spun some wheel at the local Washington Mutual bank and got the grand prize - this nice buttery colored windbreaker in my size).

Of course I have to go to the bathroom at some point and I head off to the ladies room. It was very nice, beautiful color scheme, artfully placed custom tile work, auto-sensory water faucets and hand towel machines and the like. Very nice in all. After leaving my share of liquid in the receptacle, I moved to rise from my sitting position; plunk! All my cash, ID, players card, and cell phone slid easily out of my coat pocket plopped right into the toilet. I froze, knowing that the toilet would automatically flush the minute I moved away from the toilet. What are my options? To reach or not to reach, that was the big question. Do I let 'em all flush? Do I want to lose the over $100 in cash and a cell phone? (Who cares about the ID, that is easier to replace.) I make my decision and quickly whip around, pants still around my ankles, and fish out the bundle, barely making the grab as the toilet began to flush. I think a dollar or two actually got sucked down even. But I did rescue the phone and a bulk of my money and my ID and players card.

I spent the next 20 minutes washing every bill, every card and carefully wiping down the cell phone. I'd have to deal with that one later. Once my money was clean again (though very wet). I immediately went and stuffed it into a ticket machine and traded it in for a slot ticket. I then went and cashed in my slot ticket. I laundered my money!!!! Cool. However, the cell phone was another problem. I managed to find a basket of hand wipes near the bar for player's use. I grabbed a couple and thankfully noticed they were antiseptic. Nice. I sat down and wiped down every nook and cranny of my phone, even emoving the battery. I kept the now cleaned phone off and in pieces in my pocket.

When we got back to our room later that night I put the phone, open and without the battery, and on the heat register. My hope was that it would help dry out the innards. It really was only in the toilet for a few short seconds before I fished it out. Surely it would be o.k.

Not. Even after a few alternate methods of heating the phone up to try and dry out components, it still doesn't work right. Oh it turns on o.k., but it keeps beeping, turning the speakerphone on and off and on and off, and it won't let me call or receive calls. I think it is pissed at me (hah!).

So there's the saga of the phone.


Where Did I Put My Big Stick?

I constantly beat myself up; and I carry a really, really big stick. I've been plagued with some stupid low self esteem thing, which I've been told is really a version of pride, forever. How it translates to pride, I'm not sure (I think I used to understand), but I know I certainly don't feel proud about myself.

My most vigorous beatings are related to my weight. Those who know me best know this is the case. I've been on a diet for about 10 years now. I figure I've lost hundreds of pounds over those ten years. I lose a few pounds, then gain them back, then lose them again, then gain them back. I keep extra ones in the closet just for the joy of losing them every month or so; just for kicks.

No, I'm not terribly overweight. It's not a huge amount of weight we're talking about here; probably less than 20 pounds. My family tells me I look fine. Right. They're being nice. But the problem is, is that I don't feel fine about myself. I spent all but the last 10 years of my life being underweight, even anorexic through many of those years. Now, since a hysterectomy, my weight has slowly crept up year after year. The last six months have been notably horrendous and most of my clothes don't even fit right now.

What is my problem? Why do I care? Should I give up and just throw out anything that doesn't fit and realize that I'm not young anymore and this is just what happens? Or should I continue to fight this and stretch my decade long diet into infinity and beyond?

I know I could fight this better than I am. Firstly, I used to work out regularly and I stopped that last summer. I had a terribly depressing family issue that kinda got me started into this downhill slide, plus I had my schedule loaded which made making the time difficult. However, now I do have the time and I don't workout like I used to. I do some, but not like I should. I'm way to sedimentary.

My second issue is that I do eat too much. Hubby eats out a lot, we go places, we see people, we do things; many of which mean I'm not at home where I can keep the calories in check. I know, we're supposed to learn to eat smart at restaurants. But, be honest. When you're faced with a great pasta dish with chicken and cream with a side Caesar, are you going to do that, or eat a vegetable plate? Hmmm??? Oh yes, give me the veggie plate! NOT!!!

I have to figure out how to come to terms with my lack of will power. Obviously I don't want to be thin enough to make the appropriate effort to make the pounds drop off and stay off. I should be able to make it happen. I must not want it bad enough. I must want to flog myself daily about my food failings.

Enough for now, I have to go find my stick.


It's Done

My son got married two weeks ago. He's my youngest child. I was not prepared for the emotional upheaval it created in my heart. My heart stirs with various different emotions and it is hard to flow with each one. I'm prouder than proud of him and what he's accomplished; his success in life in general, but more importantly, his stance and passion for the Lord. Yet, there's also a subtle emotion of vacancy, for lack of a better word. I'm not the most important woman in his life anymore. I've always felt a strong bond with my son. While I don't think the bond is less, it is just different. I'm not sure how to articulate it, but it doesn't hurt really; just different than anything I've experienced before.

Mandy, my oldest daughter, is getting married here in about 6 weeks. Maybe I'll go through all that again??? I kinda doubt it though. She's been married before and my bond with her is unlikely to change much being female to female. Ahhh the joys of getting older and watching my children grow up, sigh...

Another subject. I'm very frustrated this week. Mandy and James (her Dad, my husband) had a big blow up on Monday. Now they both are talking to me about how the other person is this or that, and should have done this or that. The weird thing is that I see both points AND they are both very similar. I think that's why they butt heads so much. Mandy wants her Dad to just call and say hi and quit studying her every action and word under a microscope and telling her everything she's doing wrong. James wants Mandy to not be so aggressive and opinionated and grouchy. I think they bring all that out in each other.

The big problem is that their conflicts reach everyone who touches them: me, Ricky & Rosie, Daniel (Mandy's soon-to-be husband). If those two don't get along, then it kinda ruins it for the rest of us. I'll just have to keep praying on this one.

Lord help us all!


Cool Photos

I'm posting some of my photos that are from the last two trips to Italy. Have fun looking! I hope to go back again sometime in the next five years or so.

Beautiful Italy

I Know....

I know it's been a very long time since I've said a word. What can I say? Sorry.

Well, we decided to keep the house and rent it out. The new Narrows Bridge will be complete in the next year or so and we're banking on the fact that better traffic flow could help prices in that area.

When we went to refinance the house (the loan we took over from the buyers was at a very high interest rate) we found out that there was a hidden feature that took us by surprise. Turns out the original loan the couple had negotiated included a pre-payment penalty! The amount was almost $5,000! Aww shucks! Now, even if we had decided to sell it, we probably would have made only a couple of thousand dollars. Not much considering all the work. Not a good deal in my book. So we bit the bullet, paid the penalty and refinanced the house. The savings in the house payment ends up making the decision a good one in the long term. We hope to keep it for a few years and then sell it.

We got it rented this last week and all is good to go. The house looks beautiful and the new renters are very happy with how it looks.

Thanks for sticking close during the renovation process. It was a wild 12 weeks of rehabbing! The big question for me is: would I do this again? I've mulled it around for a while and determined that I would, but only with a few stipulations. 1) I would not do it while I was working; I'd have to take at least a month off. 2) I would try to stick to the project management portion of the job and leave more of the actual work to others. (I'm getting too old for this). However, maybe if I weren't working a 40+ hour week job, this wouldn't be such a big deal.

Now I can turn my blog back into other issues to write about: life, kids, travel, cool photos I've taken, and other nice and fun things that occupy my time.

See you all soon!