Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Uncommon Kindness

As the year is coming to an end, I want to tell you a story of an unusual act of kindness. I like to think of myself as a kind person; as are most of the people that I know; and on occasion I will go out of my way for someone, even if it means my own inconvenience; but I recently experienced an act of kindness that went far beyond that of what's common and as I was astounded by this person's generosity of spirit, I feel compelled to tell this story.

I have been working for my employer for approximately 12 years and although they've never paid me what I deserve, they have been very flexible with my schedule and they've even allowed me to work from home for the past 2 1/2 years; so I suppose you can say that I am sacrificing my pay for their adaptability. People often ask me why I don't get a different job and the truth of the matter is that I WANT TO BE A WRITER and until I can find a job as a paid writer, it doesn't make much sense for me to take something on that is just going to be another " JOB." Additionally, the hours that I would be available to work away from home would be limited, so it would have to be a very well paying JOB and in this economy such a position is hard to find.

Now, like I said a couple of posts ago, I've been sparing you the current woe is me of my life as I am acutely aware that my present situation is not unusual; but as it is pertinent to this story; I'm going to share:
In August all of the employees at my company were advised that business had not been going well; and therefore, we were all going to have to take a pay cut. I can't disclose the percentage of the cut; but suffice it to say that it meant hardship for my family.
In September Luis was told that he and all of the other managers at his hotel were going to have to take 8 days off without pay by December 31st.
And in October I was told that I needed to reduce my hours from 40 to 32 per week, as the company was having cash flow problems. The person who broke the news to me said "We're making reservations; we're just not collecting enough money for them." Now as the person who collects the money, this statement certainly left me to wonder "If I'm the person who collects the money, how can we afford for me to work any less?" I asked a question to this affect but regardless of the logic the company had decided that all 3 women in the accounting department were going to cut their hours and a number of other people were laid off. Ok, now I'm sure that some of you are thinking, "If the company claims to be having a problem collecting money, why aren't they firing Paige, if she's the one who collects the money?" And the answer my friends is simple; I am the Queen of COLLECTIONS! Not to toot my own horn, but I am EXTREMELY good at what I do and my employers know it; BUT, one person cannot be expected to collect money from 65,000 hotels worldwide, single handedly and that is exactly what they have been having me do. I should have a staff of at least 4 people; but instead it's just me and considering that it's just me; I've made them A LOT of money; just not ALL of their money.

The news of my new schedule immediately sent me into panic mode. My poor husband had already been working 2 jobs to try to earn some extra money, but between August and November our pay had decreased significantly and the money that he made at the pharmacy couldn't make up for all that was being lost. Much to his credit Luis remained positive and reassured me that we'd be OK; so I've been doing my best to refrain from acting like a nervous wreck.
My present deal with my company is that 3 days a week I work from home and 1 day a week I go into the office. I was in the office on December 17 and I was talking to my friend, (who for the sake of this blog I will refer to as DM;) and I told him that I got the distinct feeling that no matter how much money the company made they would never give my hours back nor restore my previous pay rate; and it saddens me to say that DM agreed. DM has been on my side for years. In fact he is probably the only person at my company who realizes how hard I work and what my contribution to the company has been. I shared my fear with him, he said "Well, I'll tell ya; after they cut your hours, I was thinking of going to the other guys and suggesting that we all take a little more of a pay cut so that you wouldn't have to lose a day. I realized that none of them were going to be willing to do it, so I thought that I would let them cut my pay enough to get your day back; but then I realized that if I let them do so, they'd never give my money back. So then I thought I would go to them and ask how much it cost to pay you for a day and offer to write them a check each pay period so that you could get your day back; and then after you, if I could, I would do this person and that person." And I don't think that I have to tell you that I almost cried. I think my jaw must have dropped to my desk because I couldn't believe how selfless DM was and what I was hearing. I thanked him profusely for even considering such an act, and assured him that I could never let him do so. We talked about how ridiculous it was that he recognized my value to the company while its owners did not and how his compassion surpassed theirs. And although his offer will never come to fruition, it is the fact that he even considered it that is extraordinary to me.

So often through the history of this blog, I have told you that I am all about the GREATER GOOD and THIS is a shining example of a man who in so many ways was exemplifying the greater good. He wanted the greater good for my family, and for our company and he was willing to try and contribute towards the greater good at his own expense. UNCOMMONLY KIND, is all that I can say.

We certainly don't all have the means to take on the financial burden of someone else, but we ALL can make a difference in someones life in one way or another. Whether it is to give a friend 5 extra minutes of your time when you really don't have it; or by volunteering, or extending a friendly greeting to a stranger ~ just because; we can all be facilitators of the greater good.
As we approach this new year, 2010; I hope that life continues to get better for all of you, in every way. May you all experience good health, both physically and emotionally, may you grow rich emotionally, spiritually, creatively and financially and may you put your dreams in motion and make them your reality.

As always I thank you for taking the time to take this journey with me. I thank you for your support and your encouragement, your laughter and your tears.
Till next time...

Friday, December 25, 2009


Although I'm Jewish, I've always been a fan of Christmas. When I was growing up, my parents wedding anniversary was on Christmas eve, and even though they were both Jewish, it was part of their anniversary tradition to put up a Christmas tree. Oh, there was talk in my predominantly, Jewish neighborhood, that one of the Howell's must NOT really be Jewish, but this was not the case. They just simply loved the festivity that a Christmas tree added to their anniversary and holiday season.
Our trees were always beautiful - always real and always at least 8 feet tall. The tree was adorned with 3 kinds of lights: the large old fashioned bulbs, small twinkling lights and bubble lights that sat on the branches with small tubes of colored oil, which when heated would bubble away magnificently. The ornaments were of different colors, shapes and sizes and each one was prettier than the next, and on top of the tree sat a ring with 3 pixies sitting around it, holding little lanterns which lit up. And it delights me no end, that to this day the pixie topper is still going strong and sitting on top of my tree. I guess if there's one nice thing I can say about Richie Howell, it's that he did a GREAT Christmas tree and he taught me how to do so as well.

Although we always had a Christmas tree, we never went to church or celebrated the holiday in any other way; after all, that's not what Jews would do. We did light our menorah and enjoy my mom's potato latkes and each year our parents would let us decide as to when we wanted to open our presents; at Chanukah or Christmas. We tried all different variations, like one present at Chanukah and teh rest at Christmas or all 8 nights of Chanukah and nothing at Christmas, but I'll admit, it was a little anticlimactic to have these Extraordinary trees with nothing under them, so we usually opted for the majority of our gifts at Christmas, but we forewent lighting our menorah and honoring our heritage.
After my parents passed away, I continued to celebrate both holidays; so marrying a Catholic guy didn't change my holiday traditions at all. We still light our menorah and decorate our tree; we just don't go to synagogue or church.

Many years ago, Big V gave me a Winnie the Pooh menorah. I had been a big fan for years; long before it was popular to be one. In fact, Luis calls me "Pooh," I'm assuming because of the resemblance of our bellies. Anyway, I went to take the menorah out of its box and it slipped out of my hand and broke (thankfully, nowhere near my feet.) I then took out my cheapie menorah that I've had forever and found that I only had enough candles for a couple of nights. "No problem" I thought, "I'll just go to Target tomorrow."

Kelsie and I went to Target and much to my dismay I found nothing whatsoever for Chanukah or any other holiday but Christmas for that matter. I tried to ask an associate, but she didn't speak enough English to understand. She called over another associate who was also Hispanic, and looked at me like I had 3 heads when I told her that I was looking for Chanukah candles. She said "Maybe Linda," as Linda was the Caucasian associate who was heading our way; and when they called her over she politely said "How can I help you Ma'am;" and when I told her what I was looking for, her volume increased exceedingly. She shouted "OH, Chanukah! No, we don't have anything for Chanukah at this location. Maybe try the Bell road / Arrowhead store." She then said "I didn't know that there were that many people around here who were interested in Chanukah" (again speaking at the top of her lungs.) Next she told me that I could go online and let them know that I wanted this location to carry Chanukah stuff, and Passover and Yom Kippur too. She loudly followed that suggestion up with; "Do you know how to do that?" To which I calmly replied; "I think I can figure it out." Linda thought she was being ever so helpful when she wrote the store id # down on a sticky note for me; so I'm sure that she was shocked to find out that I went right to her manager to complain about her. OK, It's true, I was fuming. I was not only insulted that Target carried nothing for Chanukah, but then to be spoken to by Linda,the way that I was; honestly, if I was looking for items for my Kwanzaa celebration, would Linda have told me "Oh, I didn't know that people around here were interested in Kwanzaa;" if you know what I mean. When the manager came over I calmly told her that I wanted to make a complaint about the way I was spoken to by one of the associates. I went on to say "I was in your holiday section, but I guess you can't call it that since there is only one holiday represented over there." I then went on to tell her what had happened. I explained that Linda's raised tone of voice, which caused other shoppers to look over towards our conversation, made me uncomfortable and that I felt very insulted when she asked me if I knew how to leave a comment online; almost as if she was saying "You're Jewish so you must be stupid." And I told her that I was very disturbed by the fact that there were only Christmas items available. The manager apologized profusely, because of course that's all she could do - and we left the store, determined to find Chanukah candles before nightfall.
Disgusted by Target, we went to Walmart, but they too were void of any Chanukah provisions. I then went to the other Target location that Linda had recommended and again had to ask an associate as I didn't see any Chanukah anything. She told me that she thought they were on an end cap because they had recently been marked down to clearance and when we walked over to where she thought they were; there were none to be had. I suppose that no one in this area has an interest or use for Chanukah candles until they go on clearance. Out of desperation I went to Cost Plus, and they in fact had some beautiful Chanukah candles, for $12.99 and 50% off. I purchased the $7 Chanukah candles, shocked that I had to do so, but I reasoned that we spend a lot more money on Christmas than we do on Chanukah, so a $7 purchase for my holiday was justified. I tell you, I don't think there has ever been a year that I've wanted to light those candles and say my prayer more. I felt persecuted and sad, because it's not as if I live an area where there is no Jewish population; just a small one. I thought of my grandparents who were killed in the Holocaust JUST BECAUSE they were Jewish, and there was no way, that I would ignore Chanukah because it was difficult to find my candles.

Now, this experience didn't make me resent Christmas, or the good tidings for a Merry one. I LOVE Merry Christmas, I say it myself; because to me it isn't necessarily a religious salutation or sentiment; but a wish for a wonderful and special day. It is the one day of the year that most people share peace on earth and good will towards man but at the same time; no one else should be denied or slighted for their beliefs. And I think that I am feeling compelled to mention this because a day or so after my Target incident, a Facebook "friend" had put her status as something like, "I was so happy to see a Merry christmas sign at Target, " and then I can't remember her exact words but her implication was that she was tired of having to endure a Happy Holiday or Season's greetings sign and instead of Merry Christmas, just to be politically correct. Well, it was all I could do to keep from leaving a comment, but I knew that it probably wouldn't have made a difference if I had. She felt denied her preferred greeting, but I shouldn't feel bad that my holiday wasn't even acknowledged by this store or others? It's not like I was celebrating Festivus for crying out loud. On the other hand, a very kind soul sent me an email apologizing because she knows that I was raised Jewish, but she thought that she, may have sent me a Merry Christmas card as opposed to a Happy Holidays. I thanked her for being so thoughful and considerate and explained that I had no problem at all with receiving a Merry Christmas card. I don't expect someone to send me something different just because Christmas isn't my religious holiday. I am thankful for any kindness and I am happy to be the recipient of whatever well wishes the person wants to send.
And so, on this wonderful Christmas day; I wish you all the VERY Merriest Christmas, Season's Greetings, Happy Holidays and YES, a Happy Chanukah (although it's already passed.) I will not wish you a happy new year as yet; as I am going to try and rise to the occasion and complete another post by the 1st of the year and offer My new years wishes then.
Till next time...

Friday, December 11, 2009

Winter Wonderland

The older you get ,the faster time seems to go, (with the exception of time spent at work of course.) I mention this because in addition to it being the holiday season, it's also the birthday season at my home. Kelsie is celebrating making it to her 6th birthday today, and Lyndzi will be turning 8 just one week later on the 18th; so naturally I've been reflecting on how quickly these incredible years have passed and looking forward to all that I will share with my family in the years to come. As a parent it is bittersweet to watch your babies grow. In some ways you want them to remain small and always in need of your help and in other ways, it is delightful to think of all the endless possibilities that lay await and all of the new experiences that we will encounter at each different stage of their lives.
I think back to when I was Nicky's age and try to remember what I was like and what I was thinking then and it's hard for me to believe that we have already gotten to that point with our amazing boy; but we have. Nicky's grade recently had "THE Talk;" and it just doesn't seem possible to me that it could ALREADY be time for that, and yet it was. A few weeks after "THE Talk," Nicky came home and was very excited to tell me that he was going to be bringing home an invitation for the 5-8th grade Winter Wonderland, school dance and I was smacked in the face with the reality that my babies are no longer babies by any stretch of the imagination.

Nicky was really looking forward to going to the dance and protective mom (ok OVER protective mom) that I am, feared this dance would be his ruination, for despite the fact that Luis and I can both bust a move; our boy has no coordination whatsoever. To say that Nicky is rhythmically challenged might be going too far, but suffice it to say that my memories of the spasmic displays that I've seen during holiday parties and other dancing opportunities were not inspiring my confidence. I wanted to coach Nicky without insulting him and so I recommended that he subtly bounce to the beat and keep his hand gestures to a minimum. Thankfully he was receptive, as I explained that I knew first hand how cruel kids could be and that if anyone found a reason to make fun of his dancing, they'd probably never stop. And for those of you who are fans of psychology and may think that I was transferring my own stuff on to Nicky, so be it.

I was teased mercilessly as a child and pre-teen and if I could do anything to help my child avoid that; psychology be damned; I'm gonna do it!! Now, don't get me wrong, I certainly didn't want Nicky to be scared to go to the dance; just PREPARED; I mean it's what I would have wanted someone to tell me, if they knew something that could possibly protect me from a world of hurt; and luckily Nicky and I have the type of relationship that he knew I was trying to help him, not hurt or intimidate him.
I told Luis about the dance and he too was concerned that Nicky might not use the best judgment about dancing and ultimately do something to embarrass himself; so we agreed that one of us might volunteer at the dance just to give him some encouragement and keep a watchful eye. I asked Nicky if he'd like one of us to volunteer at the dance and though he is usually happy to have us on his field trips, he said " That's OK; I got it." And so we had to let him go.

Nicky got dressed for the dance according to the Winter Wonderland dress code: Black, Navy, White, Silver, or Red. He wore black pants, a long sleeve, stone grey, knit Henley shirt and black shoes ~ And my boy looked GOOD!! When we dropped Nicky off, we couldn't help but notice how grown up all of the kids looked and how excited they all seemed to be. Luis even commented on different kids outfits; in particular this one little girl in a red, shiny,shirt. Leaving Nicky at the dance was definitely taking a leap of faith for us, but we drove off hopeful that he would have a wonderful time.
The 2 hours flew by and we went back to pick Nicky up. Luis pulled up to the curb content to wait for Nicky to come out, but when I saw some other moms going in; I wanted to do the same. Luis felt confident that Nicky would come out on his own but I reminded him that I had friends inside that were teachers and I could try to find out how it went and Luis responded with a typically male "Do what you want to do." So the girls and I were off like a shot.
Upon entering the building we were greeted by Nicky's teacher; who told us that the dance had gone very well and that Nicky had danced with a girl (I will call "B") for most of the night. I said that I didn't know B and his teacher said that she was in the other class. His teacher told me that so many of the kids had come up to her and said how surprised and happy they were to see Nicky dancing, because he is SO shy and she told them to leave him alone so he could have a good time and reminded them that you can't judge a book by its cover. Well, of course I was on the verge of tears; but just then Nicky came over to me and I held it together. I asked Nicky if he'd had a good time and he said "Yes," and promptly gave me my change for the evening. There couldn't have been more than 2 minutes left to the dance so I asked him "Are you ready to go or did you want to finish up?" And he said "Can I finish up?" so I said "Sure," and with that, he went back out on to the dance floor and proceeded to put his arms around the waist of the little girl in the red, shiny, shirt. Her arms were around Nicky's neck and they danced slowly to the last song of the evening. I was frozen in my place as I watched my baby dance like a young man, in the arms of this pretty, little girl with hope on her face; and Nicky's teacher leaned over to me and said "That's B." Once again I was almost in tears, but in a way they were tears of joy, because I can now look forward to a new phase in Nicky's life. He had made it through the dance without incident and was beaming with a confidence that I rarely see in him. He said good night to B, and thanked his teacher and we got into the car. I whispered to Luis that the dance had been a success and that Nicky had danced with B most of the night and then pointed out that she was the girl in the red,shiny, shirt; to which Luis replied "Well, I noticed her first."

Nicky regaled us with all of the details of the dance and it turned out that B had asked him to dance and he gladly accepted her invitation. Nicky had the time of his life and his new found confidence was thrilling. I told him that I was so, incredibly proud of him and that he probably made B's night; (because I totally can remember what I felt like after my first dance;) and I commented that he seemed so confident that he might even score a goal at soccer on Saturday; and HE DID! I actually heard one of the mom's say; "Nicky should go to a dance every friday night;" and I honestly wish that he could.
It is such a fantastic feeling to witness the growth of someone you love; whether a child, a spouse or a friend. To watch a person strive towards their potential and realize who they are, what they can do and what is out there for them. Life really is a wonderland!!!

Till next time...

Friday, December 4, 2009

Simple Pleasures

Seasons Greetings one and all!
When I first thought up the idea for this post, it was in response to the difficult economic times that we are all facing. I hadn't really been feeling like the Queen of ANYTHING which was certainly one of the reasons; OK, EXCUSES for my latest disappearance. Truth be told, I hadn't really had anything to write about that wouldn't make you want to slit your wrists after reading; so I thought it best to keep to myself. I know that things are tough ALL OVER and that everyone has their share of woes and sorrows, which is yet another reason that I chose not to regale you with my current state of affairs. So instead I decided to take the high road , and focus on the little things that make me happy; the simple pleasures, if you will. I had been compiling a list of things that put a smile on my face and bring warmth to my heart and now that I've waited so long to share this message ; the holiday season is upon us and I think it's an especially timely suggestion to reflect on those things that cost little to no money but bring us comfort and joy. I know, I know Kumbaya and all that - but I can't help it; I just gotta be me.

My Top Ten SIMPLE PLEASURES (in no particular order):
1. We recently discovered that a Hummingbird built a nest in the Lime tree outside of our guest room / office window. It appears that the hummingbird built the nest out of dryer lint and every time that I see the charming, little bird in her nest; it brings a smile to my face. (That's what I wrote WEEKS ago.) What happened next, was that Luis discovered that the Hummingbird had laid 2 eggs in the nest and so we now have baby Humming birds as well. How GLORIOUS! Don't ask me why, but I feel blessed to have them living in our tree. Luis, Nicky and I would go out daily and check on them and they are now big enough to fly. I am hoping that they build additional nests and continue to grace us with their presence; because they do make my heart smile.
2. My children's smiles.
(Need I say more?)

3. Hershey (my Chihuahua) When I originally wrote this down, (several weeks ago) it was actually; Taking walks with Hershey, because for various reasons; OK., EXCUSES - I hadn't been going to the gym. I was planning to go back but at the time it was SO beautiful outside, that I decided to take walks instead and take Hershey with me. It was invigorating to be outside on a beautiful November day and I must say that walking WITH Hershey and enjoying her companionship was just the icing on the cake. But on the 13th, I had a freak accident, involving one of my toes, due to another simple pleasure, "The smell of Pine;" and I haven't been able to go for a walk since. Now, before I go on and on about my wonderful dog; I know that I have peaked your curiosity about my toe. Let's suffice it to say that on Friday the 13th I was in Walmart and I wanted to smell a pine candle that they were selling (because I LOVE the smell of pine) and when I took it off the shelf, another candle came crashing down on my toe. The toe in question is an unsightly thing called a hammer toe (that I was born with, even though Michelle K has been trying to fabricate some type of accident that caused it.) Anyway the toe is is bent down and the glass candle landing on it has dislocated my joint. I know this because 2 weeks later, I actually went to see a Podiatrist, who had to give me a shot to numb it and a shot of steroids and informed me that I am going to require surgery. Now as fearful as I am of shots; you HAVE to know how painful this injury is in order for me to agree to take the shots; so hence NO WALKING or exercising has been going on. BUT, I can recall how loved and safe I felt walking with Hershey and since it was on my initial list, I have decided to let it remain. Truth be told, having her in my life brings me much happiness, no matter what we are doing.

4. A strong cup of coffee. I LOVE the smell, I savor the taste and it warms my body and soul. The first morning cup of the day is something that I really look forward to. Coffee can energize and inspire you. It can be social or something that you enjoy on your own. And I feel compelled to mention that my mom was a BIG coffee drinker and she always had a pot of coffee brewed, no matter what time of day. She drank it hot or iced; it was her beverage of preference and every time I smell or taste a cup I feel an irreplaceable connection. Ahh Coffee!

5. Getting a book that I want - at the library. I am almost giddy when I am fortunate enough to find a book that I really want to read, available at the library. it doesn't happen all too often, but when it does, I am on a high.

6. The smell of a barbecue. Even if it's not me who is going to get to enjoy the meal; I just adore that mouth watering smell.

7. A tidy house. I treasure the feeling of calmness that comes over me when I walk down the stairs in the morning and everything in our play room is in its place. There's nothing laying on the floor or overflowing from the bins; it's just TIDY, and I feel good!
8. I don't know that I REALLY have to say anything about this one; but this is me we're talking about; so of course I will. If you are a GLEEK like me, then I know you totally understand. If you haven't seen it but you like music, and a little bit a drama; you should definitely check out this show. If you don't, then I equate it to being a Trekkie.
This show isn't rocket science; it's not the best written thing on TV, it's just something that speaks to me. It's the first non-reality show that I've really gotten into in a LONG time and I look forward to watching it on Wednesday nights.

9. Making someone laugh. Now honestly, what better gift is there than a good laugh? OK, maybe you're thinking that a BMW or an all expense paid vacation COULD be better than a laugh; but let's be realistic. 1. A laugh is ALWAYS good for what ails ya, and tingles your being (ohh, that didn't sound EXACTLY like what I meant; butchya get the point I'm sure.) And 2. This IS the "SIMPLE pleasures" list. Now we know how good it feels to just crack up. To laugh so hard that you can't catch your breath or you think you're going to pee your pants; but to be the one who causes that laughter is a feeling that is far more precious than rubies.

10. Finishing a blog. The sense of satisfaction that I get when I complete a new post on "The Bumpy Ride" is beyond compare. I am always excited to add a new post to my repertoire because I feel as though I am taking one step closer to achieving my dream of becoming a professional writer. Every time I actually publish a post, I am tenuous about the reaction that I am going to receive, but I know that if I don't try, I am already failing and that is NOT acceptable to me. Even just sitting down today to finally get this post out; I felt as though I was really breathing for the first time in a long while. As my fingers started tapping against the key s and my words were appearing on the screen, I knew that whatever doubts I've been having were unfounded, because this is EXACTLY who I am and what I should be doing ~ I feel it in my soul. So yet, once again, I am getting up on that proverbial horse and I am going to try and ride this baby for all it's worth because WRITING is really not an option for me; it's a necessity.
And with that, I encourage you all to be who you are. Know your truths and pursue your dreams; whether personal or professional. I recently found out that a friend of mine passed away very unexpectedly. He was 39; and although I am profoundly saddened by this loss, I am using his example to remember to live for today and not waste a minute because none of us ever knows how many we will be given. Rommel was an extraordinary individual who loved life. He knew who he was and he lived accordingly and that is more than most of us do in a much longer lifetime. I urge you all to be thankful for the things that bring you simple pleasures, take care of yourselves and be who you are.
Till next time...

Saturday, October 17, 2009


I have been waiting for this day for weeks.... Opening day of soccer season for USA Soccer. I'm happy to say that I'm getting a reprieve this year in as much as my 3 kids will be playing on only 2 teams since Kelsie is playing up a year. Kelsie should be playing with 5 & 6 year olds; but since she started early (at age 3) everyone thought that she would be just fine to play with Lyndzi and the 6 & 7 year olds, so both of my girls are able to play together on The Shockers. WOOHOO!! Nicky will also be playing with The Shockers; but the 10 & 11 year old team and Luis is an assistant coach for both.

We started practicing just a couple of weeks ago and though all 3 kids were ready to start playing again it seems that Nicky has decided that this is the year for him to become a soccer player. Soccer seems to be making more sense to him lately and he is playing more purposefully which is so beautiful to see considering that he is not naturally an athletic kid. Nicky is an academic overachiever and he isn't used to be second best, but thus far at soccer he has not been a reliable, outstanding player and he is determined to change that NOW. Nicky has been plagued by an event that took place 2 years ago when he scored his first goal in a game but as luck would have it; after play resumed, the ref blew the whistle and announced that the goal hadn't counted and Nicky was devastated. All of the parents and his teamates assured him that it was an excellant goal and even though they weren't counting it, he still SCORED A GOAL; but he just didn't buy it and has been trying to vindicate himself ever since. So yesterday after practice, Nicky told me that he had been scoring many goals; that he knew that he needed to kick the ball to the side of the goal in order to score AND that he felt like he was going to score a goal on Saturday. He then said "What would happen if I scored a goal tomorrow?" And I replied "I would party like it's 1999." Which only served to date myself and confuse Nicky; but I thought it was hysterical.
Luis and I gave all 3 kids the usual pre- game pep talk. "We want you to play hard and give it your all; but most importantly HAVE FUN. It doesn't matter if you score a goal, (although it would be great if you did;) just try your hardest. And then we were ready to go.
We started our soccer day on the field at 730am. Nicky had the first of his double header at 8 and his team won 6-4. There was a noticeable difference in how Nicky was playing; so much so that one of the mom's commented; "Nicky seems to be playing with more confidence, he's more aggressive." And another said "I don't think it's going to be long before Nicky scores a goal," To which I replied "From your mouth to God's ears." Not because it's so important to me; but because it's important to him. We praised Nicky during half time, moms, coaches and players alike. Everyone told Nicky what a great job they thought he was doing and I think that really helped him. The game ended and we went on to watch a couple of friend's games before the girls warmed up at 1030.
Coach Russell decided to let Lyndzi try her hand at playing goalie and so in the hundred degree weather, Lyndzi put on the long sleeve goalie jersey on top of her uniform AND the soccer gloves, and she was raring to go. Lyndzi did a respectable job considering she hadn't had any practice as goalie and no one was really playing defender but for the second half she played forward and really played well. Lyndzi has scored goals in the past but today she scored an AWESOME goal and we all went wild. Now, what can I say about Kelsie? Kelsie is a natural fighter; so of course she played HARD. She held her own and then some and I couldn't have been more proud of my 5 year old running up and down that field, kicking with such determination and never giving up. Kelsie made a goal attempt and wasn't successful BUT I have no doubt that she will be scoring in the near future. The "Little" Shockers did far better than we had anticipated and it seems like they have a lot of potential; even though they lost.
Win or lose, I never tire of watching my kids play; which is a good thing since we had to head back over for Nicky's 2nd game of the day. We were joined by my friends Jackie, Tina and Kristin which just made our day even more special. I am so grateful to have friends who would sacrifice THEIR free time to come out to the soccer fields on such a hot day and watch MY KIDS play. And I am SO glad that they were there to witness Nicky in his glory. The game had only just begun and Nicky had a REALLY good kick. I was impressed by how hard he had kicked the ball and never in a million years would I have guessed that this kick would score a goal BUT IT DID! I felt like I had been watching the kick in slow motion; like Steve Martin in "Parenthood" when he is waiting to see if his son Kevin was going to catch the baseball. And although I didn't get on my knees and dance across the field, like Steve did; I screamed and clapped so hard that my hands hurt. Jackie said that she had NEVER seen me so excited and I coudn't agree more. I was SO overjoyed for Nicky and his accomplishment; that it was truly one of the best moments of my life. The moms were cheering, the coaches were astounded, and his teamates congratulated him; but MOST importantly, Nicky was satisfied. He was proud, he was confident, he was victorious. What a moment! What a day! Life is good!
Till next time...

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A Friend in Need

Up until 2 hours ago I had very different plans for tonight's post. Basically it was going to be a grammar lesson of sorts, or a tirade about grammar is probably more like it; but then I got this email from my friend Cheryl and suddenly grammar didn't seem quite so important (at least for tonight.)
The email was titled "If I Get 10 Donations by Friday Night, I'll Run/Walk 10 Miles in a Pink Wig!" And read: So I already know I am crazy training for a Marathon to try and cure blood cancers, but just to prove it to all my friends and family, if I can get 10 donations by Friday night I will wear a pink wig while I do my 10 mile training run. Pink is in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month and all of the women I’ve loved who have been taken by or have beaten this disease. Many of the advancements by Leukemia and Lymphoma Society funded researches benefit all types of cancers, including Breast Cancer. Just go to this http://pages.teamintraining.org/sfl/wdw10/cbakos link to make an online donation. You can also read about why I am on a Quest to Cure Blood Cancers, like the one that took my father from us over 10 years ago.

I’ve already gotten 1 donation since I sent this challenge out via Facebook. Will you be # 2, #5 or maybe lucky #10 (or #15?) I promise to post pictures on Facebook and email if you help me reach this goal. Some people have asked ‘is there a minimum donation?’No, I know you will give what you can (but do keep in mind that I will be trekking 10 miles in 90 degree weather in a synthetic pink wig.)

With love and Heartfelt Thanks

I'm running a marathon to find a cure for Blood Cancers
I know I can do it, because I know why I do it!

Well, I read that and I felt compelled to help her. September, someday between the 10th and 12th (I have blocked the day out of my memory) marked the 23rd anniversary of my Mom's passing and I could not in good faith refuse the opportunity to assist Cheryl in her fight to raise money; ESPECIALLY when she had offered to wear the pink wig to honor breast cancer awareness month. I immediately used the link and made a $25 donation and then because I wished that my donation could have been more, I forwarded Cheryl's email to my friends,with the following note from me:
The below email comes from my friend Cheryl; who I grew up with. Please take a moment to read her email and if possible make a donation to support her efforts. I know that our wallets are all a little lighter these days; but if you donate anything at all you will receive a receipt to use for your taxes including a tax ID #.
I believe that one of the women Cheryl is trying to honor is my mom, Lee Howell who passed away in 1986 after a terrible battle with Cancer and in her memory I would truly appreciate any donation that you could give to support Cheryl’s efforts.

Be Well!!

MUCH Love,
Within a few minutes I received 2 emails from Cheryl; and as she has given me her permission; I am going to share our correspondence with you because I think it is more powerful than any story I could tell:
Dear Paige
I cannot being to thank you enough for helping my efforts as I work towards raising money for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). It’s overwhelming (in a good way) to know that the people that have meant so much to me at different times in my life have reached out to support me now. I love the thought of honoring your mom as well as my dad. I remember so many fun times at your house, having tea parties and drinking Constant Comet. Your mom always made me feel so at home. I know how hard it must be without her sharing in your life now. I will always miss my father... but it's been nice to ‘spend a little time with him’ every Saturday morning, as I work towards erasing the very disease that took him from us. I know that once again he'll be there with me on race day, and I am so happy that together we can honor his memory in this way.

Please let me know if you want me to wear your mom’s name on my shirt when I complete the Marathon in January.

Hope you and the family are doing great. How wonderful that Facebook has put us back in each other’s lives.

With love,

PS: I will keep you posted about whether I hit 10 donations and wore the Pink Wig to training. You were the third donation, but I have a lot of faith that you won’t be last.

And then Cheryl sent another note in regard to me passing on her email:
This gives me perma-grin and tears me up. So very special of you Paige. Your mom will help me get through those 26.2 miles on January 10th. I will definitely keep you posted on my progress and get ready to see me in my pink wig soon.
To which I responded:
Hi Cheryl,
It would be my fondest wish to do the 3 day in honor of my mom one day, and so I figure until I can make that happen I will do everything I can to support you and your efforts to eradicate this cruel disease. I hope my email can bring you even one donation that you wouldn’t have had. If anyone donates PLEASE let me know, so that I too can thank them.
Thank god for the power of Facebook, for friendship and memories.
And then 3 more emails followed; one from my brother who also made a donation in honor of our beloved mother, one from my EXTRAORDINARY, friend Dawn who plans to make a donation and the last of the night from Cheryl, which said "Thank you – this means the world to me! Heading off to bed. Assured to have wonderful dreams now."

What more can I say? Silly question coming from me. But I guess I could quote my brother who just wrote to me and said "feels good to donate!" And you know what... He's RIGHT!! This donation has made me feel useful in a completely different way. I feel like I am contributing in hopes that others will not have to suffer the way that my beautiful mother did, or the way that my brother and I did or the way that Cheryl's dad or her family did AND since you too are my friends, I am asking for your help as well. After all, if THIS isn't about THE GREATER GOOD; what is?
I meant what I said in my email to my friends; ANY AMOUNT will due; so please help Cheryl to make this run / walk her most memorable and profitable yet. Your contribution would mean the world to us.
Till next time...

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

You Know You Have A Problem When...#7

You Know You Have A Problem When you cut through a can with a "Forever Sharp Knife;" just so you can have black olives in your taco salad.

We don't use a lot of canned goods in our home; which I suppose is why we've never owned an electric can opener and always opted for the hand held kind. Now though we don't typically open a lot of cans; I distinctly remember that my hand held one had been giving me trouble for a while and that I needed to request Luis' assistance on more than one can opening occasion. Well, upon returning from our last camping trip, Luis deemed it necessary to throw away the can opener; so on my next trip to Walmart, I bought a new one. I perused the can openers (probably longer than most people would have ~ because I am the Queen of INDECISIVENESS) and I finally decided on a sturdy looking can opener that cost all of $1.97
Luis just happened to be home for my inaugural use of the can opener and I bragged "Look how great this can opener works. Who needs a $10 can opener?" I then proceeded to open a few more cans (because I was making pasta sauce) and with my inimitable Paige luck; the can opener ceased working. It was BROKEN. Well, now I know what you get for $1.97
I have yet to replace the can opener and apparently that slipped my mind, when I wanted to open a can of black olives for my taco salad the other night. Oh yes, I guess I could have gone without them; but what's a taco salad without some black olives? "Think Paige, think;" ~ and I did... Suddenly it came to me ~ "The Forever Sharp Knife."
A couple of months ago the kids and I were in Sam's Club and to make a long story short (yes, I will;) we saw a very impressive demonstration of the "Forever Sharp Knife." I had no intention of buying the knives but my kids were SOLD by the presentation, the price was super and the knives appeared to be awesome ~ so purchase them we did. The knives have been fine. Nothing extraordinary about them thus far; UNTIL I got the idea to cut THROUGH THE CAN with the knife. I remembered that the demonstrator had showed us how the knife could cut a hammer ~ so why not an olive can, I thought. I got out my "Forever Sharp Knife" and cautiously started
cutting THROUGH the can and within 5 minutes I had the can cut open. OH MY GOD!! I was SO HAPPY that I almost jumped for joy. And so now you're thinking "Wow, she must REALLY love olives;" but that's not it. I mean yes, certainly, I LOVE olives; but my delight came more from my sense of accomplishment AND the realization that I had proficiently completed this task without amputating one of my fingers in the process.
Oh those olives tasted divine in my salad, and I enjoyed every one of them; but I will promptly be purchasing a new electric can opener during my next vist to Walmart.
Till next time...

Monday, September 28, 2009

What a MAN!

The news of Patrick Swayze's passing was sad, but if I'm being honest; I didn't really give it much thought until I watched the tribute to him on "Dancing With The Stars" last week. Although it wasn't quite the same as watching the original; I thought the dancers did a very good job on the recreation and I will admit that I was moved to tears.
It really doesn't matter how many times I've seen the "Time of My Life" routine or who's dancing it; my reaction is always the same ~ I just love it! I love the song, I love the dance, and I LOVE the movie.
I was a junior in college when "Dirty Dancing" premiered and I couldn't wait to get to the theater. I so related to what this movie was about: a setting just like The Pines, a guest / staff romance, AND dancing. It seemed like this movie was made for me. I fell in love with "Dirty Dancing" and the character of Johnny Castle upon first viewing. No, it wasn't that I had a crush on Patrick Swayze but THE MAN that he was portraying. Yes, Johnny was such A MAN to the girl that baby was and I think he made all of us girls want A MAN. (A man as in a mature being ~ no offense ladies.)
I remember how hopeful I felt watching the love story of Baby and Johnny. How I cried when I watched the scenes between Baby and her father, because my father was gone; and I truly remember feeling that I was ready to have a MAN in my life as opposed to the boys that I'd been spending time with. And all of these feelings drove me back to the theater to see it, again and again and again.
I bought the soundtrack upon its release, the video and the DVD and yet, every time I come across it on TV, it's one of those movies that I can't pass up; even though I could just as easily take it out of its box and watch it commercial free. Oh who amongst us didn't want to crawl across the floor with Johnny to "You're the one," didn't want to dance with Johnny in his room while it poured, or have him for their very own? As a young woman I found watching their relationship exciting and compelling and I wanted one just like it; dancing and all. Oh I could list hundreds of reasons (and you know I could; ) why I loved / love "Dirty Dancing" so much, but I think that one of the most profound reasons is because it was actually the first romantic movie that I had seen where it wasn't just the man rescuing the woman. Yes, Johnny did rescue Baby, (from the corner) but she rescued him too. She showed him that his life could be different from what it had been and that he could choose to have whatever type of life he wanted; and then he even told her (and everyone else) that she had done this for him; which in my opinion made him even more of a MAN.

Not only did Patrick Swayze play a good MAN; he was also capable of playing a very good woman. For those of you who never saw "To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar;" I highly recommend it; if you are looking for a feel good, B rate movie that will give you a tickle; (and I am the Queen of B RATE MOVIES after all.) Patrick Swayze, Wesley Snipes and John Leguizamo in drag; need I say more? Probably not, but you know I will... Patrick Swayze's character, Vida Boehme was not just a man dressing up as a woman but a man trying to live his life as a GOOD woman. And I must say that he was a lot more graceful in body and spirit than a lot of the "real women" that we encounter in our day to day lives. Vida Boehme was the embodiment of what she believed a real woman should be: feminine, thoughtful, kind, well mannered, respectful and strong. She was poetry in motion; and we have Patrick Swayze to thank for that example.

During his life, Patrick Swayze may not have won an Oscar but he did win our hearts; and I'm sure that he will not be forgotten. I hope that Patrick Swayze had the time of his life and that he rests in peace.
Till next time...

Monday, September 21, 2009

Good Stuff

It's a BEAUTIFUL day in Arizona. It's still quite
warm but not excruciating and you can tell that Fall is on its way. Luis is at work, I dropped Lyndzi at a birthday party and since we're in the vicinity of Wet n Wild, I've brought Nicky and Kelsie over to the water park for an hour and a half while we wait for Lyndzi;(ahh the benefit of season passes.) Not feeling like putting on a swim suit myself, I put on my Queen of TIME MANAGEMENT hat instead because I thought I could use the time to write (excuses ~ BE GONE) and so here I sit, writing away, enjoying the slight breeze, and conjuring up another Bumpy Ride as I move from water slide to water slide with the kids.

Last fall I shared some of my favorite finds of the year in the post "Reasons to be Grateful (and a smokin travel discount opportunity.)" The post was very well received, and so in the interest of (say it with me) "The GREATER good," I have a few new finds / ideas to share.

1. Cinnamon Pecan Special K - I discovered this find a few months ago (when I first thought about writing this post - ahh time;) and I tell ya, I'm IN LOVE with this cereal. For some reason I keep referring to it Cinnamon Pecan Circle K; but nonetheless it's DELISH.
I actually think that I could go on the Special K diet eating this perfect combination of cinnamon, pecans and crunchy rice and wheat flakes. Even if you're not a Special K fan, give this one a try; it's a yummy way to start your day and even makes a super snack.

2. Spicy Sweet Chili Doritos - Now I know what you're thinking; how in the world do I expect to lose weight if I'm eating Doritos? And the answer is "EVERYTHING in moderation." Just because I tell you that I enjoy the Asian inspired, sweet and spicy chip, does not mean that I eat an entire bag in one sitting. Yet, I can attest that a couple with lunch from time to time makes lunch divine. Now you know that I am not usually someone who likes spicy food, but the particular spice of these chips is really different and uniquely pleasant; so when you're in the mood for something different with your sandwich give these delectable Doritos a try and let me know what you think.

3. Wendy's Iced Coffee - Yes, ANOTHER food item; and for this one I refer to my "100 Random Things" post ...#34 - I love iced coffee and even drink it when it's cold. So with that said; on Wednesday I was going to work at soccer registration and I was picking up a quick dinner for my kids but none for me, in the hopes that registration would be too busy to allow me the time to eat. I had planned to have a salad when I was done and so I thought I would just get something to drink for the meantime. I wasn't in the mood for a diet soda or an iced tea and I wanted something more than the bottled water that I'd brought, so I gave Wendy's iced coffee a try and it blew me away. The strong coffee flavor was far superior to McDonald's and I savored EVERY sip. So, if you are an iced coffee fan, I highly recommend this drink. I always order mine light on the syrup because I don't care for drinks that are too sweet. A large drink has 6 pumps of Vanilla, Mocha or Hazelnut syrup and I think 4 is plenty - if ordering a medium, modify accordingly and ENJOY!
And for a bonus plug for Wendy's I'll tell you that if you are stopping by at breakfast time, their biscuits ALSO top Mickey D's. They are BIGGER, less greasy, and taste more like homemade, so ultimately you are getting a lot more bang for your buck by purchasing THEIR biscuit breakfast sandwich. And no, I do not now nor have I ever had a relative who has worked at Wendy's ~ I just like to pass along good info about good stuff, when I find it.

Ok, so if you know me, or have ever read "The Bumpy Ride" before, you know that a close second to my love for food is my love for a GREAT DEAL. So # 4 is more of a tip and it is certainly not meant to insult your intelligence any ~ I'm just passing along an idea in case you haven't already done this yourself; because in the face of this disastrous economy I think EVERYONE deserves to save a little money. So # 4 will be called "The Disconnection threat." In the interest of saving some money any way I can, I was considering switching from my current cable/Internet/phone company to another service. I did some investigating and then I called my current cable etc. provider and to make a long story short, (oh yes I WILL;)
I ultimately got a great discount on my exact same service, by threatening to disconnect my service. Now not only did I get a discount for the upcoming 6 months, but I was told that as that time was coming to an end that I should call back and tell them that I wanted to continue at that rate and I would be able to do so. Imagine that!! So my neighbor is most likely getting the exact same service as me, for several dollars more all because I threatened to discontinue my service - OK works for me. I mean don't get me wrong, I think it's pathetic that it has to be done this way but nonetheless I am thankful for my savings so I thought I would pass along the tip; especially because I just had a very similar experience with my cell phone provider and Yup, I threatened to disconnect and I am now saving well over a hundred dollars on my new phone. SO, if you would like to save some money, I would suggest taking a few minutes and making a call. You don't have to be nasty, remember you get more flies with honey; you just have to tell them that you are going to disconnect, and believe me they won't ever say OK.

Lastly, I would like to share my newest, favorite TV show. Rachel K had mentioned Top Chef to me a number of times, but guess
what; I could never find the TIME to watch it. Well, the kids and I dvr'd the Top Chef Masters marathon and we enjoyed it no end. We may be some of the last people to have caught on to this great show, but just in case a few of you haven't seen it either; I want to recommend taking the time to check out "Top Chef." In our opinion, Top Chef kicks Iron Chef's butt because the challenges are a lot more specific and they are always different. I could go on and on (and you know I could;) and tell you more about why I enjoy this show but let's just suffice it to say, if you fancy the Food Network, Food Challenges, or just shows about Food in general, I think you will really eat up Top Chef on BRAVO, Wednesday nights.
So there you have it; just a couple little tidbits to make life a tad more enjoyable. Like I said in the beginning of this post; Fall is on its way and though that is the time that we usually remember what we have to be grateful for; I say be grateful for life's little delights as you find them. Don't reserve your time for being grateful to Autumn only and in the interest of (say it with me) "The GREATER good" share your finds with your friends ~ I'm always so thrilled when mine share with me. I am grateful to Michelle K for her Dr. Pepper rib recipe as well as her BBQ chicken legs in a bag. I am thankful that I have hardworking friends who inspire me by their success and compel me to pursue my dreams. I am grateful that I still have a job, although I now get paid less to do it. I am thankful for my wonderful children who love me and make me SO proud on a daily basis. I am grateful for my husband who nurtures and loves me more than I usually deserve. I am thankful that soccer season is upon us because I am a total soccer mom and I love to watch my kids play and laugh, not to mention that I thoroughly adore the camaraderie of our league (Yay, USA Soccer!) I am grateful for new friends and new readers, I am thankful for old friends and dedicated readers. I am grateful that Luke proved to the world that "More to Love" actually was worth watching and I am so pleased that he thought not only with his heart but with his head and made the best TV love connection that I have seen in a very long time. And lastly (for now,) I am grateful that all of my favorite TV shows will be back on the air within a matter of weeks so that I will have hours of viewing pleasure and hopefully, some observational humor to share.
Till next time...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

To Camp or Not To Camp...

Do you ever feel like you are making nothing but excuses? Well, typically I don't; that's just NOT how I roll. I'm a do what I say I'm gonna do, keep me word, you can count on me kinda girl; though lately - not so much. Lately I have been feeling like The Queen of EXCUSES even though most of them are made to myself oh and yes, of course to the readers of "The Bumpy Ride," which troubles me no end. Geez, wasn't it ME, who just a few short months ago was writing that I wanted to try to commit to writing 2 posts a week? Um, yes it was. And now, not only aren't I giving you 2 posts, I'm not even giving you one. Well BELIEVE me, it's not for lack of wanting to (yup, say it with me... "HERE COME THE EXCUSES.") Trust me when I tell you that no one wants me spending time on "The Bumpy Ride" more than I do. I've told you before that I want to write so badly that I physically YEARN for it. Which is why I probably could have produced a fabulous lay out for "Scrapbooking from The inside Out" this month, since the theme for September is yearning ~if only I could find the time. Now of course I know that we are ALL busy, so before you say "Queen get over yourself;" let me provide you with a few more of my excuses...
A couple of months ago I wrote a post about me and the kids going to Sweet Tomatoes and I mentioned that Luis was at a class, though I didn't say what for. Truth of the matter is that back in the spring Luis got a second job and has been working part time as a pharmacy tech; so he is now working Mon-Thurs until 10pm. I am so proud and grateful for my hard working husband, but that means that even though he is the one with the second job; I now have a lot of second jobs too. Basically it feels like I am a single mom Mon-Thurs and lord knows I give props to all you single moms out there; but for someone who is used to having an active partner it is a big adjustment on time. I'm still working my regular 40 hour job, but I'm now responsible for 3 meals a day for 3 kids, all school drop off and pick up, all homework, all housework, and all other parental duties that 2 usually share. Now, PLEASE don't get me wrong; I'm not complaining AT ALL; I'm just giving you my excuses for my lack of time -remember? Anyway, in addition to the fam, I have been working at soccer registration for 3 weeks now and seriously by the time I finally stop doing everything that I am REQUIRED to do in a given day, it's either write "The Bumpy Ride" or do laundry; so clearly I haven't had much of a choice. Now typically I think that I am a pretty good time manager but the reality is that you can't manage something that you don't have. So blah, blah, blah, whine, whine, whine; now you know where I've been, and I do make this promise ~ more to myself really, than to anyone else, but by hook or by crook I AM GOING TO WRITE! I said that this was my year to create AND I MEANT IT; because I am a do what I say I'm gonna do kinda girl! Nuff said.

Now, with all of this extra work for everybody, we thought a get away was certainly in order, so a couple of weekends ago we got the heck out of Dodge and went camping with The Kalka's. Ahh camping! Camping is something that sounds so good when you think about doing it; but then you have to start shopping for it and packing for it and all of a sudden you realize that camping isn't really as relaxing as you think it's going to be. So in addition to all of my other TIME consuming activities I had to fit camping shopping and camping packing into the mix and by the time we got up there I was exhausted. While we headed off to do the dishes, I actually commented to Michelle K "ya now, camping is a lot of work and I'm starting to wonder if it's worth it? Don't get me wrong; I still love the peace and quiet. I love being in the Pines, I LOVE sleeping in my tent but as far as vacations go, there are definitely things that you could do that would cost the same and require a lot less work." And I started thinking "To camp or not to camp...?" So Michelle and I carried all of our dirty pots and pans etc. over to where we thought there was a faucet that we could use. Upon finding the faucet we found a sign that said that we could take the water but we could not clean our dishes there. Now here was the dilemma... the guys had forgotten to bring a water carrier which is why we schlepped the pots and pans to the faucet. In order to transport water we now needed to fill our biggest pot with it, but then it was far too heavy for us to carry back and so I made the Lucyesque decision that we were going to run a covert pot and pan washing operation in the bathroom where there was ALSO a sign telling us NOT TO WASH DISHES IN THE SINK. OK, well you know me; I am Queen of FOLLOWING THE RULES, but this time I just used a loose interpretation of them and I told Michelle "OK, here's what we're going to do. We won't blatantly disregard the rules and wash the pots and pans in the sink; instead I am going to use the clean water that we just got and wash everything in the bathroom stall." After laughing at me for a couple of minutes, Michelle agreed and kept watch outside the bathroom door. She told me that our code word was "Not you fat Jesus," compliments of "The Hangover;" and if I heard her say that, it would mean someone was coming. I managed to get everything all washed up and even though I heard her say "Not you Fat Jesus" a couple of times; no one actually bumrushed our show. We toted all of the SEMI clean pots and pans back to our site and sent the guys for more water so that we could boil it and give everything a good rinse. I know, you probably NEVER want to go camping with me now; but remember there is supposed to be a certain element of roughing it when you camp and thankfully no one got sick. Now when all was said and done with this fiasco I definitely was leaning towards - NOT TO CAMP; but I have to say that for all the hard work, when you actually get to sit down, relax and enjoy your family and friends, it is more relaxing than any other time I can think of. It is so nice to get back to basics and see the kids run around and play. It is so nice to sit by the fire and talk and sing songs and we even threw in a G rated family version of truth or dare; that I don't know if Lyndzi will ever recover from. First of all I don't know what kind of truth or dare they play in Mexico, but when it was my turn Luis said "oh, I have a question for you;" so of course our ears perked up and I even had hopes that the question would be blog worthy, but then my husband said "True or false the earth is 5 million miles form the sun?" "Um, what?" "Can you repeat that?" And he did. He was serious. And so I responded "I don't know." That's right; me, NOT the Queen of SCIENCE said "I don't know; so rather than guess and look stupid I'll just tell you that I don't know." What the ??? I honestly didn't think that Luis had married me for my knowledge of science, but THIS,of all questions that I should have to tell the truth about??? OK! So it was clear that even though no one else was asking a question in this manner, Luis wasn't paying attention and then score 2 for Luis. The kids and I got together and decided to ask "Luis, Do you love Hershey?" And we asked this because he always says that he likes her but he doesn't love her and we really thought this was going to be the time that he told THE TRUTH and admitted that he loved her, but alas, he said "NO! I like her but I don't love her" and then Lyndzi got this mortified look on her face and started crying; "You don't love her???" She just couldn't believe it and thought it was the saddest thing that she had heard. I felt so bad for my part in orchestrating such a revelation; but what was I to do..."Smores anyone??"
In his defense, Luis did explain (to the adults) that when he was a boy he had a dog that he loved very much and he hurt so badly when the dog died, that he didn't ever want to get that close to a pet again; and how could we fault him for that?
Yes, this camping trip had been a time for many discoveries. Michelle and I even toyed with the idea of opening our own private investigation company after we conducted our own mini surveillance on a gentleman that she and Mike found to be suspicious. Michelle and Mike had noticed this guy when he was walking his dog past our site. They thought that he had observed our kids for a little too long and they were concerned that he might be a danger to them. Michelle and I decided to play amateur detectives and we drove Mike's truck around the campground a few times to gather pertinent information. When we pulled up near the rest room, we had a clear view of our suspect. He was by himself, but yet he had 2 chairs and 2 bicycles which Michelle was convinced were being used as decoys to give the appearance that he wasn't alone (even though she believed he was.) We wanted to get his license plate but we were too far away. I said "If only we had some binoculars" and voila, there they were. Michelle had found some in in Mike's trunk (I'm guessing because of sporting events; but I didn't want to ask.) Anyway, The binoculars worked GREAT! I got the license plate number, gave a full report on what he was making for dinner and then I proudly announced that I didn't think this man was alone because his tent looked too complicated to put up by himself and Michelle seemed impressed by this deduction. We drove back to our site and I decided to continue our surveillance with a technique that I called "Walking the dog;" and so Michelle and I took Hershey for a walk because I expected that she would see HIS dogs, start barking at which point I would apologize to him and a conversation would ensue and we could then get a better idea of what he was up to. My plan did work, although it was his dogs who barked and not Hershey. He and the woman he was with (see I told you he wasn't alone;) started talking to us and we concluded that our imaginations had gotten the better of us and they were perfectly nice and harmless people. Case SOLVED.

I would say that despite some hard work, our camping trip was an overall success and a good time was had by all. So is camping worth it? The jury is still out on that one; but I guess I will continue to take these camping trips until I can decide for sure either way and I will be certain to let you know. In the meantime I am going to do my best to get this blog back on track. I can tell you this, it's not so much that I WANT all the posts to be long; it's just the way they are. Anything that seems worthy of writing about, just seems to take me while. Queen of brevity I am not. No one has EVER accused me of being brief or providing too little information or leaving too much to the imagination; that's just not the kinda girl I am and that's just not the kinda blog this is.
Till next time...

Friday, August 14, 2009

Shame on FOX

Although I LOVE to write, I find that when I haven’t done so for a while I get the same feeling as when I’ve been away from the gym. The longer I wait the easier it gets to stay away and I can always find reasons not to go back; BUT this week I went back to the gym and I’m coming back to “The Bumpy Ride too.” Now as usual I gave A LOT of thought to what I was going to write about. I thought about explaining my absence, or about my kids going back to school and I came to the conclusion that I had 2 choices ~ I could write something nice and sweet and play it safe or I could speak my mind and call it like I see it. Well, get ready riders, cause I’m writing this post with guns a blazin….

I had more than just my 42nd birthday to look forward to on July 28th ~ I was taking a trip to Sedona with Jackie, Susie and my kids, I was having dinner at Carraba’s, Luis bought me a delicious Tiramisu cake AND FOX was premiering their new show “More to Love.” I was SO excited about the prospect of a show that featured average and plus sized women as I thought it was an opportunity for FOX to show the world that average and plus size women were THE RULE these days and NOT THE EXCEPTION; but I must say; ”Boo FOX, Boo!” How dare you give such a degrading title to a show whose subject matter could have been ground breaking? “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” make no references to the size of the contestants and I don’t understand why Fox felt the need to. I wonder if FOX thought that the fact that these were supposed to be average and plus size women would allude the audience during previews, without the assistance of the telltale name. “Boo FOX, Boo!” Why must the ladies weights be displayed along with their personal information? If this is supposed to be a show that’s giving average and plus size women a chance at love, why does FOX feel the need to deliberately call more attention to their weight by posting them? Why should it matter? I feel like FOX wants us to believe that being average or plus size is a handicap; but I can tell you that I presently weigh more than most of these contestants and my husband still thinks that I am beautiful. Although I was thinner when we met, I was in no way a tiny thing and even at my lowest adult weight I still could have qualified (weight wise) for this show; and yet, I was never lacking for male attention or someone to date; but apparently a truth like that is a little to REAL for this reality show.
“Boo FOX, Boo!” How are 20 average and plus size women competing for the love of ONE man any more pathetic than 20 size 2’s doing so on “The Bachelor;” and why is this the picture that FOX wants to paint?
I say “SHAME ON YOU FOX” for allowing your casting department to choose women who have never had dates before (which they attribute to their weight,) and women who always thought that their boyfriends thought they were ugly (because of their size.) These are women who need counseling, not women who are ready to be looking for a husband on TV. Really, in this day and age you want us to believe that a 21 year old girl who has never had a date before would be ready to get married to this guy that she competed for on TV; REALLY? In my opinion there was only one average to plus size woman of merit cast; and ironically she didn’t make it past the 2nd cut. Why did they choose all the forlorn, basket cases when I am sure that there were / are so many more average and plus size girls out there who would have represented us in such a more positive way. Average and plus size women who would have shown that we may be bigger but we can also be better. Women who would have made it clear that there is nothing strange about us compared to smaller women; but that’s not what they’ve chosen to do. Instead “More to Love” will have people believing that all the average and plus size girls out there either believe they are unlovable because of their size, have little confidence, or are desperate and I am here to tell ya; this just ain’t so. Like me, most of my friends are average or plus size women and they are positive, beautiful, funny, successful and committed; either to a relationship or to themselves (by giving themselves the lives they deserve.)
Oh shame on you FOX! I think Paula Abdul said it best “Take 2 steps forward; take 2 steps back.” This show had the potential to change the way America viewed average and plus sized women on TV and they have blown it, in my opinion. FOX has done us such a disservice and has turned what could have been a milestone into a mockery.
Now, on a positive note; I am happy to say that I think Luke (the fella) is adorable and I am so thrilled to hear him talk about how and why he likes bigger women; I just wish that they had found him some that he didn’t have to therapize. I mean c’mon, it’s not healthy to start off any relationship by airing all of your dirty laundry; but that is exactly what’s been going on here. I don’t think that Luke needs to hear all of their horrific or non-existent dating histories. I don’t think that Luke should have to try to convince them that they are lovable and worthy of his love. They need to see a Doctor for that. No, any woman who needs to be validated by a man is not a woman who is going to be in a partnership with a man. I think they should have found women who already knew that they were deserving of love just like everyone else and regardless s of their weight. Women who weren’t going to let their size be a crutch or get in their way. Women who could offer Luke a healthy, mutually beneficial relationship; but they haven’t.

So, will I continue to watch the show? Yes I will, because I am just too into this B rate, sappy type of stuff ~ but I am thoroughly disappointed about FOX’s missed opportunity; Oh, what could have been. Boo Fox, Boo! You should have taken the high road.
Till next time…

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Tale of the Dog ...

When last we left off in the tale of the dog; we had just brought our Chihuahua, Hershey home from Mexico. We were all getting used to having a puppy and loving every minute of it. Fast forward, seven months later and we are STILL loving every minute of it. We are all enamored with Hershey, and she seems to have this effect on all who meet her. No, Hershey is not like most Chihuahua's ~ she loves to snuggle and play. She is very endearing, and affectionate, until she's not. You see Hershey is a monogamous dog, at least "in the moment;" which is to say that if someone is loving on her and someone else comes along and tries to pet her or get her attention, she responds quite adversely. It starts with a low gurgle of displeasure and it then can build up to all out snapping. Now although she has not hurt anyone thus far and we have all learned how to tame this beast; we have a bit of a conflict because although Hersh enjoys momentary monogamy, my kids are more of the orgy type; which is to say that just as soon as someone sees Hershey enjoying the company of someone else; they think it looks good and they HAVE to get in on the act. Of course Hershey would prefer to love the one she's with, so a conflict ensues; and I probably don't have to tell you who her biggest opponent is ~ that's right, it's Kelsie or as she'd be known if she was Native American "Hated by dogs." I had actually thought that Kelsie and Hershey just had a love / hate relationship but then today Kels tried to befriend Tina's dog Max, in her typical dog tormenting fashion and I heard that same displeased gurgling sound rising up from Max and so I've come to believe that my girl just might not be a dog's best friend. Now don't get me wrong; Kelsie isn't what I would call mean to Hershey (because I wouldn't stand for it, ) it's just that they are so much alike they tend to butt heads. Both require a lot of love and attention (and it's my pleasure to give it to both of them.) Both are strong willed, both can be mischievous, both like to have what they want when they want it, both like to bark and whine and both can nag like there is no tomorrow (oops, nope that's just Kelsie.)
Now, although Hershey gets very frustrated with Kelsie, they both love each other regardless. (This picture is the perfect example of the Kelsie / Hershey dynamic. Kelsie was so happy to be taking a picture with her puppy, and Hershey is devilishly biting on her.) Regardless of how Kelsie can annoy Hersh, there have been many times when Kelsie has fallen asleep downstairs, and Hershey has laid down right on top of her or right next to her, as if to protect her. I know that Hershey loves Kelsie; she just seems to like her better when she is sleeping.

Oh to love a dog the way that we all love Hershey is not anything that I expected. When we took Hershey for her Rabies shot,our Vet had asked about getting her spayed. Up until that point we honestly hadn't thought about it, although Michelle K did express an interest in having one of Hershey's puppies if ever she was to have any. The Vet explained that if we were going to breed Chihuahuas, we would need to have a couple thousand dollars saved in the bank as often times Chihuahua's require emergency C-sections. I asked why and the Vet explained that because their heads are so big, they often have a hard time with the delivery; and even though I am pretty sure that most Chihuahuas in Mexico were not born via C-section; we decided to have her spayed because we didn't want to risk her life.
We took Hershey to the Spay clinic at our Vet's office but it was a very emotional experience. No matter how many times I explained the procedure to Lyndzi, she couldn't help but be upset. Based on what I had heard form other dog owners I had told the kids that Hershey might have a little space collar on to keep from biting her stitches, and even though I offered to show them a picture on the Internet, Lyndzi declined, but proceeded to get hysterical. She actually said, in between sobs "I don't want her to live like this!" I explained that Hershey was not sick and she was going to be just fine, but Lyndzi asked if she could stay home in the morning as she didn't feel that she could leave Hershey at the Vet's office. I agreed; and took Kelsie with me. Kelsie was wonderful ~she held Hershey in the car and gave her a pep talk and then when we got home, she reassured Lyndzi that Hershey was going to be just fine.
Time passed very slowly on Spay day as we awaited the Vet's call; but once we got it, we were all overjoyed to hear that Hershey was doing well. The kids could not wait to bring her home, and so I rearranged my schedule so that I could go and get her. When we walked in to the Vet's office, one of the Vet's assistants was telling us how adorable she thought Hershey was, but no sooner were the words out of her mouth, another assistant came out and said "I'm going to let you get her because she is growling at me." I picked up my little angel and we brought her home. She was doing well, but had an accident and peed on the couch. The kids kept telling her "that's OK Hershey, it was an accident, we know it was an accident;" and I'm sure she found it very reassuring in a Charlie Brown teacher's voice kinda way, but I think they were more so trying to reassure themselves because they thought that Luis would get rid of her if he knew that she had peed on the couch. Well I'm on their team so they needn't have worried about my reaction. I peeled the slip covers off of the pillows and threw them in the wash, and just in the nick of time, I zipped up the last pillow as Luis walked through the door. I mean I was like Tom Cruise in "Risky Business" when he finished placing his mom's Faberge egg on the mantle JUST as his parents walked in the door. I took a deep breath and let out a sigh of relief, and then asked Luis if he could pump up our Aerobed because we all wanted to sleep downstairs with Hershey in case she wasn't feeling well; since we knew he wouldn't let her sleep with any of us. We ALL slept downstairs for a week and Hershey made a lovely recovery just in time to go camping.
Hershey enjoyed the camping trip (from what I could tell) and she has been such a good traveler that we just assumed we would be bringing her on our next vacation with us. We changed our plans so many times that we never thought that we would be taking a trip that she wouldn't be able to join us on; but alas that is what happened. We were supposed to meet my friend Susie in Vegas, and since Paris Hilton and other pet toting celebs seem to take their pooches everywhere, it never dawned on me that the MGM Grand might not allow pets; however, they do not. Perhaps one day when I am "Observational Humorist ~ Paige Ramos" rather than "just your average girl next door," but for now, NO DOGS ALLOWED. We revamped our trip and changed Susie's flight, however, we could not plan a cost effective trip that included Hershey, so I needed to make pup care arrangements. Now, asking for a favor does not come easy to me, even though I would give a friend the shirt off my back. I did bite the bullet and ask a couple of friends but for various reasons no one could take care of her. I called the Pet Smart hotel to see how much they would charge and although I didn't think the $27 a day was bad I didn't think that walking her twice a day would be enough; so I made arrangements with my babysitter who agreed to come over four times a day to let her out, feed her and play with her. I was concerned about the time that she would spend by herself; and so when our friends Russell and Shelly came over the other night and Russell was snuggling with Hersh, I asked if he would be willing to come check on her while we're gone and then he magnanimously offered to watch her the whole 4 days. Whew - what a relief. I let my babysitter know that we had made other arrangements for Hershey; just because we thought she would do better with more attention and she was clearly disappointed and I don't think it was just because of the $100 I was going to pay her. I then worried if we were doing the right thing. I mean I liked the idea of Hershey being in her own home, I just thought that she would be lonely; and I liked the idea of Hershey having company and being well cared for at Russell and Shelly's I just worried that she would think that they were her new family and that we gave her away. Both Michelle K and Rachel have assured me that staying with Russell and Shelly will be the best thing for her. Rachel suggested that I put one of my shirts in her kennel so that she can smell me while we're gone and I think this is an excellent suggestion; so I will make sure to bring over a shirt, along with my picture which I would like them to show her several times a day - LOL (just kidding ~ OK maybe I'm not.)
I honestly don't know how we are going to survive this vacation without her considering how poorly we did while she was at the Vet's but maybe that was because we knew she was having surgery. It's funny how a little animal can change your life. We all love her more than we ever thought possible; especially Nicky who never even thought he wanted a dog. I guess the universe really does give you what you need.
Till next time...