Sunday, September 28, 2008

Call 1-800-CANT-TALK

Why? That's all I can ask, is why? Why is it so difficult to follow the rules? No, not for me, personally, but for the teen apparently. You talk to any parent of a teenager and they will tell you that they would rather have a toddler than a teenager, and I fully agree.

Saturday morning I was blissfully sitting at the computer when I went to check my e-mail. My cell phone statement was waiting for me. Now, for reasons that I cannot explain, I never looked at the cell phone bill last month and apparently didn't pay it, either. I'm an idiot, I admit it. So I click to open this month's bill and nearly had a heart attack. My bill is now close to $200 more than it should be for a two month period! So, I calmly scream at everyone to leave me alone while I research this matter but the person who should have heard the scream was at work. Now, the teen was already in trouble at this point for many, many reasons. Mostly because he is not keeping up with his school work. I give and give and give - I give the gift of time - what I get back is a big, fat kick in the face. So, we were already dealing with issues with him on Friday night and now it looked as if we were going to have MORE issues when he got home on Saturday.

After 30 minutes of intensive research it looked as if our family plan should really just be called the "teen" plan because only HE gets to use all of the minutes. Shocking, right? On our 700 minute plan - and yes, I know you're all saying "OMG, that's such a small amount!". But these phones are not our PRIMARY phones! These phones were to be used when we are out and about and need to get in touch with one another, NOT to call our friends 24 hours a day! Just a couple of weeks ago I asked the boy to NOT use the cell when he is at home. I mean, you can use the land-line 24 hours a day and my bill will not change. I even have unlimited long-distance. Go ahead. Talk. All day. All night. I DON'T CARE! I mean, here I was giving him permission to talk to his heart's content - on the HOME PHONE. But did he do that? No. So last month he used 659 minutes of our combined 700 and this month he used over 800. I am so not pleased. So while the boy is writing out his "wish list" of items that he wants to buy with each new paycheck, he has now had to add "Money to mom and dad for cell phone stupidity" which is all fine and well but it will take him about 2 months to pay us off and we have to pay the bill NOW.

There is no real parenting lesson here. I mean, he needs a cell phone. He is going to pay his debt to us. We gave him the rule of how we want him to communicate and he disobeyed us. Severely. I'm not going to take his phone away and I believe that the loss of his money will be punishment enough. I'm just disappointed. I mean, we don't have a lot to give but what little we do have, we want to share with our children.

Why is it never enough?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Smile and Shoot...(me in the foot, preferably)

A couple of weeks ago I took Nick to get his portrait taken. Since we started homeschooling him again, I have sort of slacked off on getting his picture done, while Michael gets a new picture every year at school. Tired of hearing the relatives go on and on about how I 'clearly' favor Michael because he has portraits, I took Nick to get a new picture.

Who knew that picture taking, for a 16-year old, was on par with have root canal or a limb amputated? I sure didn't. But man, did that boy GRIPE on picture day! The appointment took a very long time but overall, I was thrilled with the results. I missed picture day for Michael this year. Oh, I was prepared - I picked out nice clothes for him, made sure that his mass of curly hair wasn't too out of control, filled out the order form and sent him on his way. Where did I go wrong? I never actually PUT the order form in his backpack. So, now I had the option to wait for the picture make-up day or just take him to the darn Walmart and get the $4.99 package like I got Nick and be done with it. I chose option number two.

So today was picture day at Walmart for Michael. He had early release from school, came home, showered, chose a nice outfit to wear and looked as cute as can be as we headed out. I'm figuring this will be a breeze because, well, he's just not as difficult as the teenager about things like this. Trust me, he is difficult with many, many other things, but I did not believe this to be one of them. So we get to the portrait studio and sit in the waiting area and the first thing I notice is that there are blue 'spots' on his jeans. I'm like "What in the world is this?" His response? "Well, you told me I looked okay." Sigh. Yes, I did and it was my fault for not breaking out the magnifying glass before exiting the house. So okay, maybe we won't get any full-body shots and I'll be okay. The photographer was ready for us, and called us to the back. Now, I don't know if there are any "Friends" fans out there but if there are, do you remember the episode where Chandler and Monica go to get their engagement picture taken and Chandler can't smile? Well, that was my son. I mean, he literally could not do a natural smile. He showed teeth, his lips were curved, but it came off like he was facing a firing squad mixed with a deer in the headlights. It was weird. The photographer could not get him to smile, so another photographer comes in to help. She tells Michael (very nicely) that he wasn't giving us a REAL smile and his response "This is the only way I know how to smile." At this point I am reaching for my cell phone to call Frank and vent because it is HIS fault that our son can't smile! It's true.

We have two sons - one came out of the womb photogenic. He never really takes a bad picture (except now that he's a moody teenager). The other one is CLEARLY uncomfortable with the whole process of picture taking. I have to take a LOT of pictures of Michael to really get a good one. He's just not comfortable and it shows - just like Frank. So the second photographer has to resort to some ridiculous measures to get the boy to smile. First came the dancing teddy bear. I mean, seriously, no 8-year old should need a dancing bear to make him smile normally! Next came the poking and tickling. Then I had to chime in with a reference to "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown". It was beginning to feel like an aerobic workout now just to get some pictures! By the time they felt they had taken enough to give us some options, I was mentally and physically exhausted! We walk back out to the waiting area and I'm like "Thanks for cooperating" to Michael. His response? "Sorry" - though there was not a trace of sincerity in it.

When they called us to view the pictures I almost cringed. His discomfort was so obvious that I felt bad for even putting him through this! I mean, how cruel am I that I need portraits so badly that I have to resort to this kind of torture? It's just not right! I decided on the one pose that I want for the package deal but there were two other that I thought were cute. Now the child choses to come out of his shell and offers his input as to which pictures he wants! I'm like "Look, dude, after that stunt show you put on, I will be the only one making the decisions here, got it!" Yet another social-services moment brought to you by Stace.

I got out of there spending an extra $40 because I wanted the stupid extra poses and now it was no longer cheaper than the school photo package. Lesson learned? Next time I miss out on picture day, wait around for the make up. I don't think I could possibly survive another round of professional photos with my kids.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Vacation Diaries - Now it's time to say good-bye, to all our company...

Well, the final day has arrived. I had a crappy night's sleep - too many cramps and too much snoring! I woke up at 7:20 so I missed my quiet time on the beach! Obviously, I'm cranky. So I got up, popped some Advil like it was Pez and went out on to the balcony to call Frank. We all can't wait to see eachother tonight. I came in 15 minutes later and woke up the gang. We ordered room service and ate breakfast in bed. I had two eggs over-easy, bacon, homefries, a biscuit and juice. That same exact breakfast that I order at the Border restaurant next to my house for $2.99 cost me $20! Only in Disney.

Now it's time to shower, dress and pack. We're doing the Hollywood Studios today where I have to get the rest of my souvenirs for the boys and ride the Tower of Terror and Rock n Rollercoaster with Aerosmith. Always a good time. We left the room and were at the bus stop at 9:30. The bus took FOREVER to get there! When we first asked the Floridian guy when the bus was expected he said "5 minutes" but the more time that passed and the more people that complained, suddenly his story changed to there is "construction" and "accidents" all over the place delaying the busses. Funny, when the bus finally did arrive and we drove over to the park, the roads were as clear as can be. Not an orange cone is sight!

So we get to the park and do our last round of group photos on the Photopass - we were nearing 60 at this point - in front of the Sorcerer's Hat and then split up so that Karen and I could go do our thrill rides. We did Rock n Roller coaster first. The sign said 15 minute wait but it was more like 45. This, of course, set the others in our party in to a tizzy because they were planning on meeting us in 60 minutes and now we still had another ride to do. Oh, well. Deal with it, people! Now I have to admit, I usually get great anxiety from this ride but I LOVED it this time. I mean, I'm still not a huge fan of the going upside down part, but it really is a cool ride. I was a little disappointed when it ended. I looked at my sister and said "Was that it?"

We hopped over to Tower of Terror and that was a 30 minute wait but there were a TON of drops. We always just laugh our way through that one. Fun, fun, fun! So we get off the ride and called the group to tell them where we were at and find out that they are all at the first aid station because my cousin fell. So we're walking up the boulevard and a policeman on a stick horse stops us to wish me a Happy Birthday. We get a little closer and he asked when my birthday actually was. So in keeping with the whole 'birthday trip' theme, I tell him it was on Tuesday, so he wrote me a ticket for lying about my birthday! Then he asked where I was from and I said North Carolina and he added another $10 fine to the ticket!! Why the hate?? I took my ticket (which was signed by Officer Duncan Donute) and then we ran over to the Star Wars store to get Michael his Clone Trooper Blaster. He's going to be very excited.

The bus back to the hotel stopped at two other resorts before ours and we got to the hotel at 12:45 for a 1:00 check out. It was pandelerium in the room. I have so much stuff that I bought that it took three of us to pack the darn suitcase and zip it shut! Yikes! The bellman came and took all of our stuff, I said good-bye to Aunt Robyn and Jess who were off to go boating, and then I hopped on the limo-sized golf cart and rode off to the main building so that I could hop the monorail for my final solo-tour of the Magic Kingdom. Yippee!! Mom and Karen decided to hang out by the pool, because God knows they can't do that at their pool at home - and let me go off on my own.

I hopped the monorail over to the park. Alone. All alone. Sigh. I really should have called this trip my solo trip because this is the THIRD DAY IN A ROW that I am off by myself. But honestly, it wasn't as bad as I feared it would be. I walked down Main Street to Tomorrowland and rode the Tomorrowland Transit Authority. I don't know why I love it so, but I just do! It was a very relaxing ride and I took lots of pictures. Then I got my picture taken on the bridge between the castle and Tomorrowland. Alone. Next, I walked through the castle in to Fantasyland and did a little shopping at Sir Mickey's and Tink's Treasures. My next stop was to go and see Mickey's Philharmagic because no one would see it with me! It was just as good as I remembered. By the time I got out of there, I knew I had to start heading back to the hotel in order to pick up my luggage and meet the Magical Express bus. But on my way down the castle walkway, I noticed a Disney Photographer by my favorite statue - Parters. So I stopped and got my picture taken again. Hey, if people are going to blow me off, I'm going to hog the

Finally, I took my last walk up Main Street and exited the park. A sad moment. Sniff. I took one last monorail ride and them met up with mom and Karen in the Floridian lobby for one last good-bye. Karen treated me to a big pretzel by the pool while mom waited for my luggage. I left her by the pool and re-joined mom by the bus stop.

But anyway, I hopped the bus at 3:25 and was at the airport by 4:10. I checked in, shopped, called Frank, ate dinner and was at the gate by 5:30 for my 6:25 flight. The time went by pretty quick. So all in all, it really was a great trip. It was so not what I planned or expected but there is something very serene and comforting about doing so much alone. I feel like this was a complete mental-therapy kind of thing. I never thought that being alone in such a family-oriented place could be so much fun and therapeutic. I would do it that way again in a heartbeat.

So now I'm home, with just my pictures and memories. If any of you hear of my planning any kind of trip again with anyone other than my sister, you have my permission to slap the you-know-what out of me. But on the plus side, I was NOT the fat sister!

Mission accomplished!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Vacation Diaries - Day Three, So Magical!

I was up ridiculously early this morning and I don't know why. At 5:30 am I was up, used the bathroom and found myself wide awake. By six I gave up all hope of dozing and got dressed and headed out to the beach for my morning walk. It was still dark out! I called Frank and spoke to him and Michael for a little while and headed back to the room around 7:00. I showered first and then went about waking up mom and Karen. For once we were all in agreement - we wanted to be at the Magic Kingdom when it opened. So we all got ready and hopped the boat at 8:30 and were at the entrance to the Kingdom by 8:50.

We split up at this point because Karen and I were going on Space Mountain and no one else wanted to. Here's where it gets fun: We weaved our way up to the front of the crowd and all the way to the right. We were right behind the rope. When the Disney Cast Member was taking it down during the opening countdown, Karen and I were the first ones in to the park! We ran and laughed ourselves silly all the way down Main Street - constantly checking over our shoulders to see if the crowd was gaining on us! We took a short-cut through to Tomorrowland and found that to still be roped off. So we're standing there, gasping for air and chatting with the Cast Members - who were all wishing me a happy 21st birthday (I love them!) and I told them that my birthday/Year of a Million Dreams Wish was to be first on Space Mountain. And you know what? Cast Member Pedro came over and lifted the ropes for me and Karen and escorted us down to Space Mountain, gave us each two fast-passes to come back later, and sent us in to the ride! I was in the first seat on the first car in the mountain! Dream number two accomplished!

After that, we walked over and rode Buzz Lightyear - which we walked right on to - and then headed back to Main Street for breakfast at our favorite little bakery. We did stop and get our pictures taken first, though. The plan was to meet up with the group at 10:00 to ride It's a Small World (my mom's favorite), which we did, and then we went on to the Haunted Mansion. It was time to split up again so that Karen and I could do the other two mountains - Splash and Big Thunder - while the others rode the Walt Disney World Railroad. We got a great picture of us on Splash Mountain. We met up at Pirates, got some more group photos and it all broke down from there. In a big way.

We couldn't all agree on a place to eat lunch. Honestly, I was still full from breakfast and so was Karen. My mom didn't want to eat at the burger place my aunt and cousin did, either. My period started and they were all just annoying the crap out of me so we did a three-way split. Aunt and cousin went to the burger place, mom and Karen went back to the hotel to sun themselves and I wandered around Magic Kingdom by myself (again, singing "One is the Loneliest Number" in my head). I got some great shots of me alone, however, in front of the castle. Why? Because I kept control of the Photopass card! Ha, ha!! After about an hour, I got horrendous cramps and decided to head back to the hotel and get out of the heat. I think it was around 95 degrees out that day with 98% humidity. Ick! So I took the boat back to the hotel and once back at the room, I decided to just sit and enjoy the A/C for a while. Everyone else went out to the pool for cocktails.

About an hour later, I was hungry so I went out to see if my sister wanted to grab a bite with me at the food court. She was too busy preparing more cocktails for everyone and so I went without her and brought my meal back to the room. When I got back, mom was there resting and enjoying the A/C, too. I had this great little Italian Sandwhich on focaccia bread with salami, provolone, ham and turkey, lettuce, tomatoes, onions and pesto. Very nice. It came with a cucumber salad and I got some veggies and dip to go with it too, and a bottled water. All in all, very yummy. After I ate, I went over to the gift shop to pick up our packages that were delivered. Seriously at this point, I'm just trying to kill time because dinner wasn't until 7:00 and it was just too hot for me outside.

At around 4:00, everyone finally got on board with getting out of the sun and coming in to relax. I left the room to check out some of the other shops in the resort and noticed a guy lying on the floor near the end of our hall. I see him and all I can think is "Huh, that's odd" and went on my way. When I got back 45 minutes later, Karen and Jess were out in the hall with Karen attempting to draw on this guys face because he's still lying there! I'm like "Did you call anyone?" And they're like "Yes, we're waiting for security". Karen really wanted to draw angry eyebrows and a mustache on him, but she didn't. Security came, hotel management came and finally the EMS came and took this guy away - who, by the way, never woke up during all of this commotion! Last we heard, he was still in the hospital. Now everyone started to get ready for our dinner at O'Hana's.

Aunt Robyn and Jess took the boat over, mom and I took the Monorail, and Karen decided to meet us over there because I think she wanted some 'alone time' to talk to her boyfriend. Dinner was nice, they changed the menu since we were there last and we had a nice quiet corner table. We dined on field greens salad with a honey lime dressing, pork dumplings with three different dipping sauces, honey bbq chicken wings, broccoli, asian noodles (lo mein), grilled pork, turkey, beef and shrimp and loaves of pineapple coconut bread. It was all really, really good. We skipped dessert because we were all so full and headed down the the Polynesian's beach to watch the Magic Kingdom's fireworks. I got some great pictures even though we were so far away.

Mom and I once again took the monorail back to the hotel while aunt and cousin rode the boat. Back at the hotel, mom and I grabbed our departing flight info and went down to the concierge desk to print out our boarding passes. Eventually, we met up with everyone again back at the hotel. Jess decided to go back to the room while the rest of us went for cocktails on the second floor of the Floridian in the Mintzer Lounge - I had my one and only alcoholic drink there. There were a bunch of conventioners there and one group was all Chinese and Karen was sitting next to me ad-libbing what she thought they were saying. I almost peed in my pants. Sorry, TMI, I know, but it was just that funny!

Her craziness continued back at the room and I was laughing so hard that I could not breathe! We finally calmed down enough to start packing and I could not believe that the trip was almost over! I got about 90% of mine done and I was completely exhausted. I crawled back in to the daybed - Yes, I had to sleep in it ALL THREE NIGHTS - and fell instantly asleep. In all fairness, I did choose to sleep in the daybed all three nights because the other two kept complaining how warm they were in their beds (and not in a good way) while I had stayed cool and comfortable in the daybed. So while I would have enjoyed having a queen sized bed to myself, the daybed was actually fine.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Vacation Diaires - I Feel Special!

I woke up really early today and started out my day alone. I was dressed and out the door at 6:45 and went out for a quiet walk along the beach. It was so beautiful and peaceful and the perfect way to start the day. I walked the entire length of the beach to the Floridian's Wedding Pavilion and back and then called Frank. Good thing I did because between the three of them, not ONE alarm clock went off. Honestly, I was a little scared for them all. We chatted as I watched the sun rise and when I hung up, I walked around the resort complex some more - taking pictures along the way - all the way to the marina. I got some awesome shots.

By the time I got back to the room, everyone was up and having their coffee. I don't drink coffee, so I didn't feel slighted in any way at all. They were all pretty surprised that I would get up so early and go out when I'm on vacation. What they don't realize is that it was something that I ENJOYED doing. We decided to split up the group again - and let me just interject something here, when you ask someone to PLAN the vacation and you give NO input in to it, don't complain when it doesn't meet your needs. I mean, no one gave me any ideas on how to plan this trip, I was just told to plan and I got nothing but grief about what I planned and where for each day! Never again, people, never again. So what was supposed to be our day at Epcot is now postponed until later. My aunt and cousin went to Hollywood Studios and the rest of us decided to go to a nice breakfast in the Floridian Cafe and then lounge by the pool. Those of you who know me know that lying in the sun for any length of time in on par with stabbing me in the eyes with a hot poker or shoving bamboo shoots under my finger nails. But for the sake of keeping peace, I decide to go with the flow. Apparently MY vacation wants and needs, are irrelevant. I had a scrumptious breakfast of lobster eggs benedict. It was amazing. Then we went to the pool. I lasted around 90 minutes total - I swam, I did the water slide, I think I actually sat on the lounge for about 30 minutes total and then I wanted to go back to the room. Well, everyone followed and after a quick 10-minute soak in the hot-tub, I was done. Too hot.

The plan was that we were going to meet up in Epcot as a full group at 3:00. Of course, there were snags in that plan. We got a call saying that my aunt got sort of lost and caught up in the transportation system and was wandering around Epcot already (by mistake) and that the monorail wasn't running but she wanted to come back to the hotel and change and rest. So it was decided that we would head on over there and just meet up with her later. The problem with this plan? Now SHE had the photopass card (we only had one for the group) and we wanted some pictures of our family. But we'll deal. We all shower, dress and head up to the monorail station. We see high-school Frank on our way over and he has his yearbook with him today! Oh, my. He still doesn't mention if he really remembers me but we laugh about how ridiculous we all looked with our big hair. That's always a good laugh. He tells us that he got us an 8:30 dinner reservation at Le Cellier and I am PSYCHED!! Dream number one, accomplished! The main problem with that? My aunt and cousin don't want to go there, they want to eat at the Mexico restaurant which we have a back up reservation for. So now my mom and sister start obsessing about how we are going to break it to them that we are going to eat dinner separately and I feel like they don't want to eat at the steakhouse just to keep the peace. Screw that, everyone! I can eat Mexican food any daggone time I want! Le Cellier is one of the top steakhouses in the country! I'm going even if I have to go alone!

As luck would have it, my aunt and cousin were just getting off the monorail as we were boarding and so we got the photopass back and were on our way. My mom obsessed almost the entire time about how my aunt did not look happy. Seriously, I didn't think there was a problem. It was very hot out, it sounded like she had a rough morning, I mean, the woman is entitled to not have a smile on her face. Let it go! I'm telling you, this stupid trip is getting way too hard because it seems like my mom is too worried about everyone else's feelings and wants us all do be joined at the hip. Not gonna happen. Sorry. We had to change monorails at the transportation center and got to sit in the front car. You know how I love that! I got my little co-pilot card and now I'm planning my scrapbook page. Ah, life is good.

Once at Epcot we first went on to Spaceship Earth, then headed over to the Land pavilion where we got our fast-passes for Soarin' and grabbed lunch at the Sunshine Seasons food court. I had a very nice grilled pork chop, carrots, a tossed salad and a slice of chocolate mousse cake. Are we seeing a pattern here? It was just so damn good! We met up with Aunt Robyn and Jess and all went on Nemo - I had a clamshell all to myself! Hee-hee! We got off and got some great pictures outside (gotta get them!). After that we went over to Test Track. There was only a 30 minute wait and being that we still had the Soarin' Fast-passes, we couldn't get another one. I love this ride and it was worth the 30 minute wait. After that we went and did some shopping at MouseGear. I got some amazing scrapbook supplies and so I was very, very happy. Now we headed over to World Showcase where the main intent was for them to drink their way around the world. So not my thing...

On the way over we stopped for some Photopass moments (keep em' coming, people! Times a wastin'!). We started on the Canada side. We stopped for drinks in France and I was bummed because Beauty and the Beast were gone for the day! I had a nice bottled water while they had their champagne and whatnot and just enjoyed the breeze. While sitting there, everyone decided that they didn't want to go on Soarin' after all. For the love of it! That is the BEST ride and now I have three passes and no one to go with! So you know what I did? I scooped up the passes and as we walked along World Showcase I grabbed the first boat back to Future World and told mom and sis that I'd meet them for dinner. Screw this, I am NOT wasting my vacation drinking and not going on rides. But on the boat ride over, the tide literally turned for me. I knew right then and there that I was going to spend most of our remaining time here alone and I could either be angry about it or I could enjoy it.

I chose to enjoy it. I called Frank and the boys and chatted for a bit and then went over and rode Soarin' twice. I saved the last fast-pass for my scrapbook. Ha. Karen called to say that they were waiting to seat us (which was a lie because they don't even check you in until your entire party is there) so I did a little power walk over to Canada. Luckily it wasn't too far from where I was. Dinner was awesome. The restaurant was okay to look at - I've seen prettier restaurants in Disney - but the food was incredible. I had a very nice shrimp cocktail for an appetizer and then had the filet mignon with a mushroom risotto and a white truffle herb sauce. OMG. There are no words for how incredible it was. We took our chocolate mousse to go (and it truly was a chocolate "moose") and headed back to the monorails. The park was almost completely empty because it was 30 minutes after closing time which made leaving a breeze.

When we got back to the room I had the BEST surprise...apparently Minnie Mouse had stopped by and left me a PRESENT!!! I kid you not. There was a giant solid white chocolate Mickey Mouse statue surrounded by gourmet cookies, chocolate covered strawberries and truffles. Plus, she left me a giant birthday card - which she signed herself. She has very pretty handwriting! It was a great way to end the day and I love whoever is responsible for sending it. And FYI, it was not from any member of my family. Hmmm....

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Vacation Diaries - The Adventure Begins

Okay, so I was up and wide awake at 2:30 a.m. on Monday and could not fall back to sleep no matter what I tried. I didn't even bother waiting for the 4 a.m alarm to go off and instead just got myself in the shower - all the while counting down the minutes until we could leave. Frank got up rather crankily (and who could blame him, it was still dark outside!) and we were out the door at 5 a.m. just as I needed to be. Now, I am a stickler about following all of the airport guidelines and we arrived 90 minutes before my flight. What no one really tells you is that NO ONE gets to the airport that early anymore and so I walked in, checked my bag, breezed through security and was at my gate with 85 minutes to spare!! Now my only job was to sit there and wait. And wait. And wait some more.

Southwest Airlines rocks. Totally. Such a difference from the whole Jet Blue fiasco and it just added to the magic of the trip. We took off on time and landed on time. I arrived in Orlando at 8:35, de-planed, called Frank and then went in search of the Arrivals board so that I could meet the others at their gate. Well, guess what? THEIR flight was delayed!!! So now, here I am at the Orlando International Airport by myself, anxious to get on the Magical Express to get to the Grand Floridian and can't go anywhere because I am the one holding everyone's vouchers! I could not believe my bad luck. So their flight was due to come in at 10:00 and I went and shopped a bit (at the airport Disney store - both of them), had a little something to eat and then went and sat at the Magical Express terminal. And sat. And sat. And then sat some more. At 10:15 they finally came down the escalator and my sister ran up to me screaming "CANTALOUPE!" - I did not take this as a good sign. We checked in with the shuttle, walked to the red carpet and were escorted out to the bus. We left the airport at around 10:30 and headed off to our resort laughing and giddy at all of the fun waiting to be had.

At the resort (which was BEAUTIFUL) we checked in and told them that this was my 40th birthday trip. We were each given carnations, we got adjoining rooms right by the pool and were told that our rooms were already ready for us. How cool was that? Now, when we first got off of the bus, we were greeted by many 'Cast Members' and noticed that one of them was from East Islip, NY, our home town. So after we went and freshened up in our rooms, we went back out to the bus stop so that we could go to the Animal Kingdom and tracked down the East Islip guy. Well, not only was he FROM East Islip, it turns out that we graduated in 1987 together and were in the same homeroom for three years! It really IS a small world! The funny thing is that neither of us remembered each other but this guy completely bent over backwards our entire trip doing nice things for us - all of which I'll get to later.

The bus to Animal Kingdom was taking too long so we decided to grab the monorail (which was in the resort) and go to the transportation center where we'd grab a bus. This was my sister's brilliant idea. Well, 45 minutes later, we were in the park sprinting to the nearest lunch counter before we all died of starvation. It was hot, the lines were long but the food was well worth it. Flame Tree BBQ: beef bbq sandwhich, baked beans, slaw, water and a slab of chocolate cake. Yummy! We split up after lunch because we had two very distinct groups - Karen and I do the thrill rides, the other three do not. So we first went and grabbed some Fast Passes for the Kali River Rapids (which amazingly, the others said they would try) and then went off to ride Dinosaur and Expedition Everest while the others went on safari. We said that we'd meet up in two hours. I mean, your in a Disney park, killing two hours is not a difficult task.

Or so one would think.

Karen and I walked to Dinoland, chit-chatting, laughing and rode Dinosaur. Then we walked over to Asia and rode Expedition Everest three times in a row. We received a phone call after our first ride that the others were done and waiting for us - only an hour had passed and they weren't sure what to do. Um, I don't know...SOMETHING ELSE MAYBE??? We stuck around to ride the coaster a few more times and then went over to meet them at the rapids ride. Now, you all know me, I am a planner. I told them all this and what they needed to have with them at all times. One of those items was a poncho. So, lining up for the rapids, no one had a poncho (other than me) and they were not selling them on the line like they have in the past. So we are watching people coming off of this ride completely drenched and daggers are being shot at me from the angry mob of relatives. Not my problem, people, I was prepared. So we get on the ride and needless to say, I was the only one who emerged somewhat dry.

By now it's only 4:00 and our early dinner reservation wasn't until 4:30 but we headed over to the restaurant anyway - Yak and Yeti. The place was nice - a sit down/table service restaurant but the service absolutely sucked. I mean, at one point, the waiter came over and asked us to hand him all of the dishes to clear away instead of doing it himself. Needless to say, Jay did NOT get a tip. It was Asian cuisine and I had some pork dumplings (potstickers) as an appetizer and some fabulous skirt steak and shrimp tempura with stir fry veggies as a main course. It was all very delicious but everyone was cranky because they were wet from the ride and the air conditioning was making them cold. Funny, I was quite comfortable, go figure.

We left the park and took a very full bus ride back to the Grand Floridian. I checked in with high-school-Frank about changing our dining reservations for the next day at Le Cellier. We had lunch reservations there but really wanted to eat dinner. So he made some calls and said to check back with him in the morning. At around 7 pm, me, Karen and my cousin Jess hopped the monorail over to Magic Kingdom. Mom and Aunt Robyn decided to lounge by the pool and have cocktails. We left them just as a tuxedoed server was delivering their drinks. As soon as we arrived at the park, we had our pictures taken. First in front of the Main Street train station and then again in front of the castle. I LOVE that first walk down Main Street. It just gives me a rush. We walked over and rode Pirates, then went on to the Haunted Mansion. And FYI, the ride vehicle does NOT seat three people comfortably. EVER! Then we headed over to Tomorrowland where Karen and I rode Space Mountain (the left side - very fast) while Jess rode the Tomorrowland Transit Authority. Unfortunately, Jess is not a thrill ride person so we had to split up.

We left the park and headed to the boat to take us back to the Floridian and got to watch about 75% of the fireworks while on the lagoon. We missed the first part because a family of three who were told NOT to get on, would not get off. Stupid people ruining my fireworks view!! Come on!! But the boat captain did have everyone sing Happy Birthday to me! When we checked in at the hotel, they gave me a birthday pin. It started to rain while we were on the boat and when we got to the dock at the resort we met up with mom and auntie and watched the Electric Water Pageant. All very cool. By this point, the younger ladies in our party were craving some snacks. So we left on a mission to find food. I wasn't too impressed with the room service menu and eventually Karen and Jess went out themselves to Gasparilla's (the 24 hour food court) and came back with gourmet pizza's, veggies and dip, chicken nuggets with chocolate pudding and cookies and milk. Seriously, I asked for chips and salsa and Karen translated that in to chicken nuggets and veggies with dip. It turned out she had taken her Ambien before leaving for the food court and then had a cocktail while waiting for the food and so...well, you see why we got the variety that we did.

At 11:30, it was lights out for us all after a very full day. It was just such a relief to finally BE on vacation after all of the planning. I took the day bed for the first night to make life easier and then mom announced that she did not have to take a turn on it so it would be Karen and I fighting it out each night. Hey, thanks for changing the plan! It's not like we didn't discuss this like a bajillion times before we left, but hey, no worries. I'm on freaking vacation.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

My Disney Diet - Day 125: The Final Workout

All I wanted to do today was lie around and relax. I was having a good time of it when Frank came over to me and asked if I was gonna do my walk. "Nah, I just want to relax today," I told him. This would be the point where a loving, supportive man would kiss me on the forehead and say, "That's right, sweetheart, you just relax today" and walk away. What version did I get? "You know, you really SHOULD get another walk in before you go, I mean, you want to be prepared for this trip, right?"

Um, excuse me, have I NOT been walking, dieting, exercising for like 4 FREAKIN' MONTHS???? I mean, I know I'm not the most disciplined person but I believe that I really worked hard these last 125 days and if I want a break the day before I leave, then I should get it!! He is so lucky that I am leaving in the morning. He did leave the room after reminding me one last time that I probably wouldn't feel so tired and lazy if I'd just get up and do my workout. Seriously, he's lucky that I am leaving in the morning and I don't want to risk being arrested. So not wanting to be a total slug, I DID get up and I DID do my workout - the extended version! I did 30 minutes of light-weight training and 50 minutes on the treadmill and if he wants to say even ONE MORE thing about what I 'should' be doing, the only pictures you will see of me on this blog, will be my mug-shot.

All things considered, he was right. I do feel better now that I've exercised. I have a slight case of PMS (another poorly-planned Disney moment) and I want to eat a lot right now, but I'm not. My suitcase is 98% packed and my countdown clock is reading 13 hours and 28 minutes until I leave for the airport. I am SO excited. Grand Floridian, here I come! Scary rides, here I come! Food in fancy, exotic restaurants, here I come! Swealtering Florida heat, here I come...stupid love-bugs, here I come...hmmm, I'm losing it here.

This will be my last blog until Friday, my friends. I thank all of you who helped me get ready for this trip and I can't wait to share all of my adventures when I get back. Please continue to think-thin for me.

Have a magical week!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

My Disney Diet - Day 124: The Finish Line is Within Sight...

Okay, I leave for Disney in one day, nineteen hours and 59 minutes! Woo-hoo! I don't know these actual numbers in my head, I have a neat little countdown clock on my computer. LOVE IT! So, as I mentioned previously, this last month on the diet has been a real struggle. I lost some of my 'umph' for it and therefore, did not lose the weight the way that I wanted to.

I woke up this morning and first took out the tape measure to get my measurements ( I figured if they were good, I'd want to get on the scale). Well, in the last week, I lost 2 3/4 inches total body! Now I want to kick myself because of the time that I wasted being lazy! Since I started this crazy diet some four months ago I have lost 3 1/2 inches in my waist, 3 1/4 inches in my hips, 2 1/2 inches in my bust, 3/4 inches in each arm and 2 3/4 inches in each thigh for a grand-whopping total of 16 1/4 inches total body!!!! If I hadn't been so daggone lazy this last month, I probably could've lost 20 inches! Stupid, stupid, stupid! So now I'm feeling sassy and go and get on the scale. And you know what? I finally broke in to the 140's. I can't even remember the last time that happened! I am at a total weight loss of 22 pounds - three pounds less than my goal but I still feel like I did an amazing job.

Now, here's the kicker...for the first time ever (or at least that we're aware of), I weigh LESS than Frank! He has always been the thinner one in this relationship even though he is so much taller than me and now I weigh 17 pounds less than him! WOO-HOO!!! We're sort of working on a friendly wager for me to get to be 25 pounds less than him. Oh, I'm determined to do it, don't you worry.

I am so excited that I accomplished this. I took out the photo albums of my last two trips with my sister and I almost cried after seeing our first trip. It's not that I was so overweight, but I knew I could've looked way better - and probably could've felt better on the trip. At the beginning of this summer I bought myself a bathing suit that disguised/covered a LOT. Last week I bought one that was your standard tankini and I actally feel good wearing it. Frank even said that it looked better on my than the 'disguise' one! Now THAT made me feel good.

Be prepared for when I get back next week because I will most definitely be posting vacation pictures. I'm just so excited! I'm off to get my eyebrows waxed. The fun never stops here!

*The above is my submission to Scribbit's January Write Away Contest. For more details on this - or if you just want to read a great mom blog - then just go to and check it out!*

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Ode to a Beeg...

Did you ever have a friend that you have such a great relationship with but you can't put it in to words because no one would understand what in the world you were talking about? And I don't mean that in that sappy way like "Words cannot describe our friendship" but in the way that your relationship is so silly and ridiculous that most people wouldn't get the humor in it.

I think that everyone should have at least ONE friendship like this. You know how twins sometimes have their own language with one another? Well, think along those lines except it's you and your BFF and when you are rolling on the floor laughing, no one can understand why. That is the kind of relationship Michelle and I have. She asked me today why I never mention her on my blog and I really had to think about it but in all seriousness, it's because we talk every day and laugh to the point of exhaustion at times but it's something that can't be re-created here in writing. If I tried to explain our catch-phrases from movies like "You, Me and Dupree" or "The Pink Panther" and how we've modified them to fit our lives, we'd come off like a couple of idiots. I'm laughing, even as I'm writing.

We go out or try to go out for a girls night once a month and to some outsiders, we might not even like each other - we're a little snarky in our comments at times - but we know what we're doing and it's hysterical! When Michelle had her tonsils out back in February and couldn't talk for several weeks, I just about lost my mind. I'd call her house and make her poor husband talk to me because I was having withdrawals! When one of us goes away on vacation, our husband's have learned to deal with the fact that we're going to call each other. She's learned to not be so obvious in her jealousy over my smokin-hot-highlights and I've come to grips with the fact that her brain is bigger than mine. Puh!

Together, we truly make up one scary brain that can read each other's minds and finish one another's sentences. Next week when I'm on my much needed vacation, I'll be honest with you, I'll be wishing that she were there with me instead of my family. And although she won't admit it, I KNOW that on her next trip, she'll wish I was there with her too, right? Why? Because we just have way too much fun together, we care about each other's feelings and have each other's back's when things are going on around us.

It doesn't matter how old you get, having a BFF makes life a much better place. We don't really refer to ourselves at BFF's, we kind of stole from "You, Me, and Dupree" and coined the phrase "B.G." or Beeg. B.G. stands for "Best Girl" (in the movie it was BM and stood for Best Man).

So here's to you Beeg, now that I know you want me to write about you, I'll be sure to include some of our daily hilarity for all the world to enjoy - and not understand!

There should be a place for people like this...

So I'm at work yesterday. I'm standing at the desk talking with a friend who is also a teacher at the store. One of my bosses is standing about 5 feet away. A woman comes in - who I've known for quite a while, we've gone to church together and were part of MOPS together. She comes to the desk and starts to ask me about our consignment policy. She's consigned with us before and is sort of "demanding" all sorts of lists/accounts of what has sold what it was priced at, blah, blah, blah. Now, I will admit that I had made a mistake on her account last month - and by mistake, I mean that I forgot to add her name to the list of people who were to receive checks - and I admitted that to her and she said that was fine. But the whole time she stood there, she spoke over me with all of her demands. I never said that I WOULDN'T help her, I just COULDN'T give her what she wanted at that exact moment. She seemed miffed, but left. And a word about consignment, if you are THAT concerned with what your stuff is priced at, then we ask that you please price it yourself. If you are concerned about keeping track of it, then you should keep a copy of your list for your own convenience. She chose to do NONE of these things.

Well, today this person e-mails my boss and just flat out lies about the events that took place. She said
that I refused to write her a check - she didn't ask for one while standing there and I am not authorized to cut checks. She said that I told her that we could not (as in EVER) give her the information that she wanted. When what I ACTUALLY told her was that the report she was looking for, had never been done before and it would take me a couple of days to figure out and I could do it then (we have a new computer program that we all haven't learned how to use yet for such stupid things). THEN she sort of insinuated that my boss would not handle this situation in a "Christian" manner or professionally!


Again, I am shocked by people behaving badly and then throwing the Bible up as some sort of self-righteousness and excuse for their behavior. Just because you sign your name with "Serving In Him" does not make your nasty comments seem sweeter. This woman was demanding and rude, showed no grace what-so-ever, and when she did not get what she wanted at the exact moment she wanted them, she showed what is TRULY in her heart. Everything that I said to her yesterday was met with "Oh, that's fine" when clearly it wasn't. Do you know what I will think every time I see this woman? Liar. Petty liar.

I am fortunate that one of my bosses over-heard the entire conversation and knows that this woman is lying. He has my back on this. It just really makes me sad that twice in one week I have witnessed such nastiness coming from Christian women in leadership. Perhaps I should follow her lead and maybe send an e-mail to where she is serving and let them know about HER bad behavior and ask her fellow ministry workers to look at how they do things with her in leadership.

Now that would be fun.

I hate liars.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

What would Jesus do? Seriously...

So I'm at work today and Nick is with me because he had a class this morning. He was helpful when I needed him, he did well in class and even came out to socialize with some of our customers/friends. About 30 minutes before we are scheduled to leave, a customer comes in who we've known for over 10 years. We've gone to church with this woman for many years, we went to her eldest daughter's wedding, I mean, we know her.

Nick was dressed as he usually is - shorts, graphic t-shirt, sneakers, his PSP playing music in his ear. His shirt was white with a heavy metal/guitar theme on the front that had some skulls and some words but he's worn it like a thousand times and I don't find it offensive and until today, no one else had. Well, this woman greets him very nicely "Oh, Nicholas, I haven't seen you in a while!" Everyone's friendly, everyone's fine. Then she starts commenting on his shirt. "What's with that shirt? With the skulls and...blah, blah, blah. Do you think that you are representing Christ with that shirt? What are you listening to? Is that music glorifying Christ?" I mean, it went on and on and on and on for several minutes. Now with every comment she made, I tried to point out something positive, but she clearly wanted none of it. When we explained that he was listening to CHRISTIAN metal and how his shirt was autographed by a band from the "Scream the Prayer" tour, she said "Funny, I don't remember Jesus screaming."

Okay, now the gloves are coming off! Now, I am so proud of Nick because he was completely respectful and was polite to her during her entire attack. Luckily, this woman's children distracted her with their need to use the restroom and she finally relented. I had Nick get his gear and go wait somewhere - ANYWHERE - else.

Now, Christian or not, does anyone out there think that Jesus would attack someone like that? Whether you know your Bible word for word or not, did Jesus only hang out with the people who looked, thought and spoke EXACTLY like Him? NO! If my child were not a Christian do you think attacking him - in front of his mother, her boss, other customers - would be a way to WIN him over to Christ or do you think you would have just pushed him away? Do you think that verbally attacking someone glorifies God? Do you think embarassing them in front of people 'represents' our Lord and Savior? I mean, I am certainly no Bible scholar but even I know that no where in the Bible does Jesus behave in such a way. No where in the Bible does it say that you can only sing about and worship Him to hymns! If screamo-metal (I don't know the 'actual' word for his music) speaks to the teens of today and helps them form a relationship with Christ and makes them excited about being a Christian, then SHUT UP!

I'm not a teen and I don't particulary like the screamo stuff, but neither am I a hymn person. Personally, they put me to sleep. I like contemporary Christian music. When our last church changed from contemporary to more traditional music, it actually HINDERED my spiritual time. I can guarantee you that I am not alone. Not everyone has to worship God in the same exact way - just as long as you worship Him. Not everyone dresses the same, not everyone speaks the same, not everyone has to BE the same!

Last I checked, one of the last people who thought that way put millions of people in to a gas chamber.

Would that be better for you, friend?

Monday, September 8, 2008

I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends...

I know an awesome group of people. Seriously, every day I sit back in amazement at all of the great people God has placed in my life. I'll give you a typical example of a day in the life of Stace...

I got to work this morning and really wasn't looking forward to the day. New classes were starting up, it was a full schedule and people just seem to not want to think for themselves and want me to answer ALL of life's little questions. But I'm going on vacation in a week, so I figure I could handle it. I was running around doing my thing and a friend came in and said that she had a surprise for me. The last time it was chocolate (yummy!) but she knows it's my final week and did not want to tempt me. So my curiosity was piqued and when I got back up to the desk she gave me a Winnie the Pooh Disney pen! Now you know what makes this gift even more special? I had just bought a journal to take on the trip so that I could write down all of the things that I will want to put in my scrapbook and now I will have a fun little pen to go along with it. Thank you, Nani!

Then, I'm talking with a customer who I've gotten to know a bit at the store and we're talking about my upcoming trip and the diet and all that and she tells me her own diet story and how one of the things that has been helping her is this great web-site: This is a great diet-tracking web-site that will either work out a menu for you, or keep track of what you are eating once you log it in. It counts calories, fat,etc. and based on the weight that you are (which you enter in your profile) it tells you what number ranges you need to keep in. Now, I've been writing down my stuff but I never knew exactly what was what or if I was truly keeping in a good range. She claims that in her first week of doing it she lost 4 pounds - without exercise. So I'm navigating my way around the site and I really like it. Maybe it will give me that final push I need this week. Thank you, Donna!

Next up, is my favorite little co-worker. She just makes me smile. Seriously, every time she comes in to work she is just filled with such a joyful spirit that you can't help but smile. She came in for me today so that I could go home early and get some bill paying and paperwork done. I mean, she just comes in, takes over and wishes me a wonderful day. God Bless Her! Thank you, Danette!

I mean, those are just SOME of the people that I came in contact with today. I totally love them. I spent a good amount of years with just a small group of friends - and we didn't get together very often. I find that the older I get, the more social I get and the more amazing people I meet. So go out with your friends! Call a friend that you haven't seen in a while and make some plans. I'm telling you, it will make your day.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

My Disney Diet - 7 Days To Go!

So you know how I've been doing all this crazy dieting and working out so that I won't be the fat sister? It's been like, 4 months. I've lost 20 pounds and the last five refuse to vacate the premises! What is up with that???

So I'm on the phone with mom and sis tonight and while talking to my sister she decides to get on the scale. Why? No one knows. Seriously, do any of you get on the scale at 8:00 at night while you're on the phone? NO! Of course you don't because it is ridiculous!!! We're talking and she's like "You know how I lost those 6 pounds while I was in the Dominican last week?" Yes, I remember. "Well," she goes on, "I've been so busy this week with this big catering that I haven't eaten anything in like two days!"

There are no words to describe what was going on in my brain at this point.

She steps on the scale and goes "Oh, good! 136! That's totally cool."

Let me point out just SOME of the reasons that I am wishing that I had the capability to reach a hand through the phone line and slap her. All this time that I have been dieting and going crazy, she has maintained that she only weighs 135 pounds. She has always said that. Frank always says that she's lying but I never like to believe that someone would lie to me - particularly about something stupid like how much they weigh! I mean I'm no math whiz (right, Cathleen?) but even I can do the math here. If you weigh 136 now, and you've lost 6 pounds, that means that you weighed somewhere around 142 pounds. And if you're at 136 pounds now after starving yourself for 2 days, I'm thinking you had to weigh even more than that!

Honestly, there are times that I feel like Wyle E. Coyote chasing after the Road Runner. I just keep coming up with these evil-genius plans to make me look better, feel better and there she is just running through my poisonous pile of bird seed without a care in the world!!!

Okay, but I'm over that now because I have SEVEN DAYS to finish this race and be mentally prepared to look smokin hot in Disney! I am refusing to get on the scale until this weekend. I am so motivated right now and though I might not hit that magical number that I was going for, I'm feeling pretty good about Stace right now. So continue to think thin, friends. I'm going to need all of your prayers and support to finish the race strong.

I'll check in with you all again tomorrow.

Beep, beep!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Crazy Nancy, Round Three

Last night I'm on the phone with my mom and she says "You're sister has an announcement to make!" and all I could think was "Oh, crap! She's going to marry that lying, idiot, fake-doctor!" Sister gets on the phone and says "Do you still have your bridesmaid dress?" I am fearful to ask, but procede - "Why? Who's getting married?"


"Daddy!" she beams.
"To who?" I ask. The last I heard, he had broken up with Ann - the dead ringer for wife number two.
"To Nancy, apparently."

To those of you new to my blog, way back in the beginning I shared a story about how my dad was supposed to marry a woman who I only knew as "Crazy Nancy." Why? Because everytime she and dad broke up, dad would call to tell me about it and say "Stace! She's crazy!" Hence, Crazy Nancy.

"Didn't they break up? Like a while ago?" I ask.
"They're back together."

The wedding is planned for the end of the year. Back to finding the yellow chiffon.

How far can you bend before you break?

If you've ever been in a relationship, you know that it is a give and take thing. In a marriage, it seems like opposites attract whereas in friendships, you look for someone with all of the same interests.

Frank and I have always joked about how it is that we could possibly even BE together because we are so different. Honestly, I don't know how it's possible because there are times that we make each other crazy. For example, he is a smoker, I am not (and kind of allergic to cigarette smoke!). Frank is a night-owl, 11:30 is my limit. Frank can sleep with the lights and TV on, I need complete blackness and only the white-noise of my fan to get a somewhat decent sleep. I like spicy foods, he likes mild. I mean, the list just goes on and on. But at what point on the list do you hit the "THAT'S IT!" mode? How many couples out there just have had enough of their differences? I can't imagine hitting that point but there are times...

We hang out with different types of people. It makes it very hard to hang out as a couple because of this fact. To be with my friends means that he has to "straighten up" - i.e. no cursing, no yelling, being polite. To be with his friends I have to 'relax' - i.e. listen to a lot more 'off-color' stories, jokes, curse more, cough more from all of the smoke. Neither one of us is comfortable when with the others friends so we keep things like that to a minimum. The problem? I am a very social person. I enjoy being around people. It kind of sucks when you have to limit your social life because it is not your spouse's 'thing'. But I deal.

This is why I take a girls-only trip every 2-3 years. This is why I try to do a girls-night out once a month. This is why I BLOG!!! Frank goes out one night a week with his friends and he tries to jam with his band at least twice a month. Sure, in the immediate sense, he gets more time out doing the things he likes with the people he likes but I get to go on a really awesome trip every couple of years ALONE.

All in all, not a bad trade-off.

Now, what about friends? Again, even in a friendship it should be a give and take thing. No one friend should be the giver and no one friend should be the taker. I have a friend who is planning a rather large event. She started planning this event over two years ago. At some point she asked my opinion about food and the next thing I knew, I was supposed to coordinate it all! She never asked, she told me. The problem with that? Besides the obvious? Is that she did not seem to want me to coordinate it, she wanted to do all that and then just pay me to work the kitchen the night of the event. Well let me tell you, that is SO not my thing. I mean, I like to cook, I've worked in deli's, I don't do food for 100+ people without any help or having a say in what we will serve. I mean, please, let's be reasonable.

We've been dancing around this event for a while and she seemed to have it all under control. It is now a month away from the big day and we were supposed to get together and shop and plan so that she knew what kind of supplies would be needed to get all of this food heated and ready to serve. Okay, I set aside a morning -at a VERY early hour and I am NOT a morning person - and she did not show! Then she told me she'd come to where I work to talk with me and guess what? She didn't show!

How much of this am I supposed to take? When can I say THAT'S IT? How do I back out now because this is just not working for ME? How do you tell someone that you aren't going to help them because they have been that inconsiderate? Is there a gracious way out? Is there some sort of Miss Manners protocol? If so, I'd love to hear it.

I've hit my breaking point with the friend.

I'm still in love with my husband.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

My Disney Diet - Crunch Time!

Okay, so I can't find my little diet journal. I stopped writing in it several weeks ago and let me tell you, I have to find it because it seems that that stupid little book was what it took to lose weight! Who knew?

I did gain two pounds but lost them again and so here I sit at the 20 pound mark with two weeks to go and five pounds to go to reach my goal and win the friendly diet challenge I am in with my dear friend Cathleen. I had good intentions yesterday. I ate a very healthy lunch (grilled steak and salad). Then I headed to a friend's house for a BBQ and it was as if I had been stranded on a deserted island like Tom Hank's in "Castaway" and couldn't get enough to eat. If Wilson was there, I would have eaten him too! I had some beer bread and dip, I ate mac and cheese, I ate a gi-normous baked potato with sour cream and then a slice of chocolate cream pie! I also had some steak and greek salad in there too.

Um, hello, fat-girl, table for one.

I started out the day with a 30 minute walk and a strength-training session of my Power 90. I felt good. Sore, but good. When I got home last night I did another session. I got up this morning and did my 30 minute walk and after I take Nick to work today, I'll go home and Power 90 some more. Twelve Days! I have TWELVE DAYS to lost 5 pounds. How in the world am I going to do it??? Think thin, everyone. If you see me eating anything that I am not supposed to, you have my permission to just SLAP it right out of my hands.

Although be warned, I slap back.

Monday, September 1, 2008

I'm Lost

When we moved down here over 13 years ago, we were not church goers. Frank and I had both been raised Catholic but only attended church for things like weddings and funerals. We had really bad experiences with the Catholic church when we got married and when we had Nick baptized. So when we moved down here - to the Bible belt - we knew that something had to give. We needed to find a church. Just not a Catholic one.

I was fortunate enough to find exactly what I was looking for the first time out. I found my home at a kind-of-small baptist church. They were a young church, most of the families were around our age, it was contemporary and just so much what I always hoped a church would be that I felt right at home. I stayed at that church for eight years. I became a Christian there. I was baptized there. I participated in small groups, bible studies, women's ministries, MOPS (Mother's of Pre-schoolers) and worked in the nursery. It took a long time before I was no longer viewed as the "baby Christian" and was taken seriously in my pursuits. But after a time, things started to change. Suddenly my nice, friendly church, was no longer about what we originally thought, but was now all about the new building they were constructing. It wasn't enough that you were growing and serving, you had to be 'signed in' for everything. Your every moment on their property seemed to require approval and you had to be 'assigned'. That was SO not what I wanted in a church. This 'forced servitude' really put me off. My spiritual growth stopped and I became kind of bitter about the sudden change of rules. Wasn't serving a heart matter? Jesus never told us that you had to clock in, serve here/there in order to be in His presence! After much heart searching and inner debate, I knew it was time to move on.

Church number two was very, very small. I knew the pastor's wife and she had invited me many times and so when I finally showed up, she was thrilled. I didn't realize how small there church was, however. It was the kind of small group where EVERYONE knew when you arrived, when you left, how long you stayed, what you were wearing and what color socks you had on. I'm talking small. It was a nice group, but not truly what I was looking for. I decided to stay mainly because I wanted a church home and thought that after going through the 'bad growth' of my former church, maybe this little church would be a good thing. I became the head of the women's ministry, did a newsletter, and lead a bible study. But again, as time went on, the pastor was making demands on our time - telling us when to fast, when to pray. I don't know, maybe this is not a big deal to some people, but I believe that prayer and fasting, again, is something between me and God. If I am fasting because God told me to, then I would, my prayer time with Him is very personal. I am not going to fast because the Pastor said it fit in to his schedule and so we all should. By this point, the church had shrunk considerably and within a matter of about a month, had closed its doors.

We all moved on together to church number three which was an ENORMOUS church and easy to get lost in. I kind of liked that aspect of it at first. I spent over two years here trying to get in to it. Trying to find that spark of interest in anything. It just never came. I could sit through a sermon and not be able to tell you a thing about it when it was over. Not one of their Sunday school's held any appeal to me to make me want to try them. And to top it all off, Frank hated this church. He hardly ever goes to church to begin with , but with this church, he refused to go with me at all. That weighed heavily on my mind. So I stopped going.

It has been about a year since I've been in church. I miss my spiritual life. I can't seem to get up the enthusiasm to go out and find another church. Nick goes to church with his girlfriend and Frank has expressed interest in going there just to see what it's about. He's not looking to attend, so everyone just calm down. I've had friends invite me to their churches but I don't feel that 'pull' to go. When I was invited to that first church, I couldn't wait to go. When we were invited to the second church, I looked forward to trying it. When we hit the third church, I felt as if it was where I was supposed to be. But now? I am lost. I have no idea where to go or where to turn. I want the closeness and familiarity of that first church. I loved listening to that pastor. I could listen to him all day long. When Frank went with me, we could talk about the sermon all day long.

Why do churches have to change? Why do they feel the need to put such restrictions on things? How can you preach the New Testament and then put Old Testament rules on everyone? I don't get it. I want to pull a 16-year-old temper tantrum and yell "It's not fair!" and demand that everything go back to the way that it was, but I know it won't do any good. I want to go to church, I want to be fed with God's word and grow again spritually.

The only comfort I have in this right now is that I have met MANY people who are saying the same exact thing. I know that there is no perfect church and that we need to not focus on 'what the church can do for me' and instead focus on 'what can I do', but I'll tell you what, I can't go in to a church and tell a pastor that his sermon's are boring, change the music and find some interesting Sunday school's. I can't preach, I can't sing or play an instrument and I am not a teacher. If I could do even ONE of those things there might be hope. But right now there isn't.

Lost hope. That's how I feel right now. I have a friend who keeps reminding me that I need to be in church. Well, duh! But you know what, I'd rather never attend church again than sit in one and be a hypocrite. She is not one but I'm just saying that there are many who go to church every Sunday, they sing, they tythe but their hearts are not in it at all. So many people SEE them there and think "Oh, look, so-and-so's here so they must be a Christian". Well, you know what? I can guarantee you that a good percentage of the people sitting in the pews are not Christian and they are sitting there to shut someone else up. Cold, I know.

Somewhere out there, there is a church for me. I know that God has been trying to get my attention lately. I hear Him. I'm trying. I'm lazy. He knows that, too. I'm not perfect. I just pray that I find that home before all of my hope is gone.