Tuesday, November 30, 2010

(43-126) Wanted At Last

I don't typically think of myself as unusual; but the other day I was watching a DVR'd episode of "The Talk," and they were discussing the fact that Rosie O'Donnell thought that she might have breast cancer.  They went on to discuss how Rosie was only ten when her mom had passed away from breast cancer; and they went on to talk about how much their own mom's meant to them.  They each said that they couldn't imagine what their wedding days would have been like had their mom's not been there; and it was at that very moment, that I thought, hmm; maybe I am a little unusual.

I absolutely hated the fact that neither of my parents (ESPECIALLY, my mom;)  could be with me (physically) on my wedding day, and even worse; it breaks my heart to know that she will never get to know my children nor will they they ever have the benefit of knowing her.  I know that she would have just adored them; and that their lives would have been all the better for having had her in it.  So, needless to say, I was a bit sad; after listening to their conversation and relating my own experiences.  But last night, not only did my cousin Jackie call me; but her Mom and dad did as well; and I felt a kinship that I have honestly, never known.

My aunt and uncle were calling to share some good news that my Uncle had gotten while at the doctor's and I was so touched that they included me.  My aunt told me that my uncle had asked her if they should call me; and she said "Of course.  She's family."  I thanked her sincerely and she told me that they loved me and that they were so happy to be in my life."  

Jackie and I spoke afterwards; and we just chattered and giggled like life long friends; and I'm certain that the smile that was in my heart, was just as big (if not bigger) than the one that was plastered across my face.  Jackie and I discussed possible visits (amongst other things;) and she welcomed my family to come to her home.  Jackie knew that we'd been considering taking a Disney trip and she told me that if we stayed at her house we could just leave very early to get down to Disney.  She then said "and I'm coming with you of course."  To which I replied, "I wouldn't have it any other way."

I'm always very excited after I talk to Jackie; because she makes me feel wanted; in a very different way than Luis and my kids do.  With the absence of my parents and my extended family; I felt very alone for many, many years; and I don't feel that way anymore.  It now seems possible that I can have a connection to the family that I lost; and maybe put some of the pieces of my ancestry back together.  After all, how can you know where you're going, if you don't know where you came from?

Jackie instant messaged me on Facebook tonight, right after I had instant messaged her daughter, Becky.  I was having fabulous chats with both of them, and couldn't help but think to myself that not so long ago, I never could have imagined that this would be possible.  I've said it before, and I'll say it again; sometimes, the universe just gives you what you need.  I waited a REALLY long time, to get what I needed; but maybe the universe knew that  my 43rd year, would be exactly when I needed my family most. 

I am overjoyed and ever so gratified by the love and positive energy that Jackie and her family are bringing into my life.  I can truly say that I am moved beyond words; and for me, that is big! (Say it with me;) HUGE! 

You know, I don't like to be all preachy about certain topics (CERTAIN topics I said;) but I am going to recommend that if you are fortunate enough to have family that make your world a better and safe place for you; give them a great, BIG, hug the next time that you see them; and let them know how blessed you feel to have them in your life; before it's too late.  Also, savor every minute and be grateful for the time you have.
Till next time..

Monday, November 29, 2010

(43-125) WHAT Was I Thinking?

I now can say that I know MOST certainly, why Thanksgiving is always on a Thursday.  And the reason is... because the cooks will require the three whole days afterwards, to recover from all of their hard work.  Now, I know what you must be thinking; "Paige, Thanksgiving was last week, and you didn't even cook; so why are you bringing this up now?"  Ahhh, why, indeed!
If you'll recall, in "You Know It's Love When..." I explained that I had decided not to cook Thanksgiving dinner this year; because in Thanksgiving's past, I was the only one in our family who had any interest in the traditional fare.   Well, while we were at Thanksgiving dinner; Luis and the kids actually consumed quite a bit of food that is typically associated with Thanksgiving dinner, including turkey; which they previously had shown no interest in. So, being the kinda wife and mom that I am; I suggested that I would buy a turkey breast during my Sunday grocery shopping and make it with a couple of side dishes for dinner one night.  Everyone seemed to like this idea; so I added all of the necessities to my grocery list.

Well, on Sunday I went to Sam's Club after the gym, and they had whole turkeys on sale.  I figured that I could just make a whole turkey since the prices were so good; and I looked for the smallest one that I could find.  I thought that an 18lb turkey for $12.50 was a really good deal; so I started to defrost it, and I planned to make it for dinner on Monday.

While the kids and I were having lunch yesterday, we were watching a DVR'd episode of "Diners, Drive-In's and Dives," and Guy was showcasing Thanksgiving foods.  One chef had used an oven bag to cook his turkey; and since I'm a BIG fan of the oven bag (I use one to make pot roast, and sometimes brisket;) I thought this was the way to go.  I searched my cabinets, because I remembered that one time I meant to buy large oven bags and I'd bought the turkey size by mistake, and I was pretty sure that I still had them in the house; and I did.  I set the bags some place that I would remember them; and I felt content that I had a great plan to make my "little" Thanksgiving dinner on Monday.

I tried to plan everything just right.  I took my lunch break late in the afternoon today, so that I could use my time to prepare the turkey.  I don't think that I'd say that this was a big mistake; however, I felt extremely rushed; and that wasn't very comfortable for me.  I would have to estimate that at least two or three times during the course of the turkey preparation I  uttered out loud, "What was I thinking," as I raced the clock to get the bird cleaned, dried, seasoned, into the bag and then into the oven; but alas, I DID IT; with time to spare.

It wasn't long before my house had that wonderful roast turkey smell; and since it's particularly cold in Phoenix right now (about 52 degrees today, and we're expected to be around 36 tonight;) the warmth from the oven was delightful.

I picked up the kids from school, finished working for the day, filled out some paper work for Luis' doctor's appointment tomorrow; then went to Safeway to buy mushrooms for my stuffing and sour cream for the mashed potatoes. As soon as I got home, I began preparing, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes and stuffing.  What was that I'd said about making them a couple of sides?  Well, I guess if I was going to do it; I was going to DO IT!  Go big or go home; right??

When Luis and Nicky got home from Nicky's soccer practice; Luis commented that the house smelled sensational (OK, maybe sensational wasn't his exact word; but I just love the alliteration.)  Nonetheless, he paid me some compliment, and it made all my hard work worth it.  We all ate our not-so-typical Monday night dinner; and although it was lovely to have; I definitely thought to myself; "I need a rest!"

I KNOW from experience how much hard work preparing a Thanksgiving dinner is; so why I thought that I could attempt it on a work day, during a week night; I have no idea.  I think that it is very safe to say that when it comes to preparing a whole turkey and all of it's accompaniments;  one should venture to do so when you have an entire day free and then a day to rest to follow.
Till next time...

Sunday, November 28, 2010

(43-124) Yes Wii Can!

In "Happy Birthday Luis!!!" I mentioned that one of the reasons that I LOVE, ADORE and CHERISH Luis is because "He loves to stay up all night and shop on Black Friday."  I think it was about four years ago, when Luis first started spending Thanksgiving night in Wal-Mart.  Although he can't explain it; there is something about Black Friday that Luis loves.  Even though we weren't shopping for much this year; Luis still wanted to spend the night at Wal-mart so that he could buy a wireless printer that was on sale for $44; and, he always likes to get the Norton antivirus; which this year he bought for just $9.99.  I asked Luis to look into buying Wii Fit Plus.  I told him that it's typically $99 (which I would have paid anyway;) but he was able to purchase it for just $67.

Our weekend didn't go as planned; but I think that it all worked out for the best in the long run.  On Friday we were supposed to go to the lake; and for a multitude of reasons, we decided not to go.  Instead, I ran a couple of errands and asked Nicky if while I was gone he could figure out how to work the Wii Fit Plus; because falling under the heading of I'm NOT the Queen of TECHNOLOGY; I would have had no idea how to set it up myself. While I was out and about, Nicky called to inform me that he'd set the Wii up and that he'd already burned 53 calories.
Nicky and the girls, immediately started using the Wii Fit Plus and they were really enjoying it.  Kelsie was anxious to teach me how to use it; but I had other things to take care of and had to postpone my tutorial.

On Saturday, as you know; we were supposed to go up to Sedona for the Red Rock Light Fantasy; but sadly, my friend Jen got a migraine; so we decided to re-schedule.  Now you know me; I'm A make lemons into lemonade kinda gal; and when things don't go as planned, I just punt; so I had no problem re-arranging our day.  FIRST, I told the kids that I now had time to do the Wii Fit Plus with them and they were happy to help me get started.  The kids had already made a Mii for me.  They even gave me glasses and a purple shirt.  The Wii asked for some personal information; but not my weight and it then informed me that my Wii age was 65 and I was obese.  OK, well, the facts are the facts; given my present weight and physical condition, I don't blame the Wii for thinking that I'm 65 but I'm definitely going to do something to change it.
The kids showed me my various exercise options, and the first thing that I wanted to do was box, which I found very gratifying.  Next I did some hula hooping, followed by step aerobics, some marching exercise, and a game that involved math and mushrooms.  I repeated the hula hoop and step aerobics routines at least three times each; and I boxed countless times.  Within an hour I had burned 446 calories, I felt terrific, and I'd had a lot of FUN!  The kids did the hula hoop and step aerobics right along with me and they encouraged me EVERY step of the way.
Today I went back to the gym, AND I worked out a little with the Wii as well; so all in all, that's day 5 of exercising in a week.  I can honestly say that I feel great and I'm extremely optimistic.  I'm going to continue going to the gym, but it's comforting to know that if for some reason I can't make it to there; I can exercise at home, and we can all benifit from the Wii.  Yes Wii Can!!

In the interest of (say it with me;) "The greater good;" I have to highly recommend that you purchase Wii Fit Plus, if you have a Wii.  Trust me, exercising has never been so much fun, AND it's something that you and your family can do together.  Even if you have to pay regular price for it; I assure you that it's well worth every penny.
Till next time...

Saturday, November 27, 2010

(43-123) Welcoming The Season...

I love the peace and quiet of a sleeping house; and the chill in the air, just makes it all that more magnificent. I find the sounds of silence very comforting and I'm trying to savor them while I'm sitting on the couch in my my guestroom / office / craft room, enjoying a cup of coffee and formulating my thoughts for today's post.

This afternoon we are taking our traditional holiday trip to Sedona. I think that we started going to the Red Rock Light Fantasy at Los Abrigados Resort, when Nicky was just two years old. Each year we do a turn around trip so that we can go see all of the beautiful light displays and really start off our holiday season; and the past few years, we've taken our holiday card photo up there as well.
Since I'm from New York, I always associate the holiday season with the cold weather and snow; so I love going to Sedona for the lights because it's always colder there than it is in Phoenix; and between the weather and the lights; it makes the holiday season feel more authentic to me. Sadly, Luis and my kids have never experienced a northeast holiday season; so they just have to take my word for it; and thankfully, they do.

I think that traditions are very important; and I am the first person to say, "to each his own;" BUT, I have always had the fervent belief that we should not start preparing for Christmas, until AFTER Thanksgiving. I have always maintained that it is not the "official" start of the holiday season until you see Santa come down the street at the END of the Macy's Thanksgiving day parade. And YES, Santa is a part of the parade; but it's to signify that the holiday season is beginning; so you are supposed to enjoy your Thanksgiving and THEN, focus on your Christmas holiday traditions. Which of course is why # 43 of my "Forty Three Reasons That I Am THANKFUL" is "That my husband understands the importance of waiting until the day AFTER Thanksgiving to put up our Christmas lights." Call it a pet peeve if you will; I'm OK with that. The truth of the matter is that I just don't like to feel rushed through my holidays and I believe that if we extend the December holidays the way the stores and manufacturer's want us to; it will diminish how special this time of year is. After all, doesn't something appear to be more valuable when you can only get it for a limited time? If we start getting ready for Christmas as soon as Halloween is over; as retailers are suggesting, then we miss out on how special everything in between is. I personally don't want to hear holiday music while I'm scouring through my kids tricks and treats; BUT, as Thanksgiving has now passed; I look forward to hearing some now.
So, with that being said; I am "officially" welcoming the season by sharing with you, Ten of my favorite holiday songs. I think this selection is as diverse as I am; and I hope that you enjoy them.
Till Next time...

Jingle Bell Rock - Bobby Helms
The Carol Of The Bells - George Winston
Baby it's Cold Outside - Glee cast
Deck the Halls - Mannheim Steamroller
Feliz Navidad - Jose Feliciano
The Chanukah Song - Adam Sandler
Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree - Brenda Lee
Do They Know It's Christmas - Band Aid
All I want for Christmas is You - Mariah Carey
Sleigh Ride - The Ronnettes

Friday, November 26, 2010

(43-122) You Know It's Love When...

When I wrote "Eternally Grateful," there was an amusing anecdote about our Thanksgiving dinner that I wanted to include in the story; however, I liked the post just as I had written it; and didn't even endeaveor to work it in.  Nonetheless; as I seem to waste no opportunity to embarrass myself; I've decided to tell you about the incident now.

My husband, Luis is the front office manager at a resort in Scottsdale; and in the hospitality industry, you don't always get every holiday off.  Luis typically works on Thanksgiving, which has never been a problem for us; because when I do cook a holiday meal, we always eat around dinner time, rather than lunch time, like many families do.  Anyway, I decided not to cook this year, because in Thanksgiving's past, I was the only one in our family who had any interest in the traditional fare.  Instead we planned to go to dinner at The Talking Stick Casino buffet.  The room is beautiful, and the food is very good; so we reasoned that I could have turkey and it's accompaniments and everyone else could have whatever they liked.  We had invited (SMF) Mike K to join  us, along with his son Max; however, Luis called me around 10am to let me know that he called the casino to check the price, and they were charging $37 per adult and $17.95 for kids under 12.  Luis and I agreed that the prices were exorbitant; so I asked him to call Casino Arizona and see how much their buffet was.  Casino Arizona was priced a bit more reasonably; at $22.95 per adult and $12.95 per child; so we decided to go there instead.

God bless Luis, the patient man that he is; because as soon as he finished work, he headed over to the casino to see how long the wait would be.  He was told that it would be an hour to an hour and a half, so he agreed to wait on line, while we drove up to meet him.  By the time we arrived at the casino, Luis was at the front of the line, and he had even let a couple of people go ahead of him.

We were promptly shown to our table; and then perused the buffet.  Everything looked delicious and the kids were very excited to see the  chocolate fountain that awaited them for dessert.  The food was as good as we'd expected; especially my FAVORITE item of the night; a pumpkin and crab filled ravioli with a garlic, cream sauce.  Oh my God, it was to die for, and worth every extra minute that I will have to spend on the treadmill.  As everyone ate EXACTLY what they desired; I knew that we had made the right choice by coming to the casino. 

We were sitting at the table, taking some time before we had dessert, and Mike told me to smile.  I could tell by the way that he said it, that he was up to something, so  I was hesitant to show my pearly whites.  He repeated the instruction a number of times; and from behind my napkin, I just kept saying "no."  Finally he said "smile;" and I asked "Why," and he advised me that I had something black in my tooth.  I was mildly embarrassed, but when Luis told me to smile so he could see it; I did so; and then he and Mike burst out laughing like it was the funniest thing that they'd ever seen.  I didn't have a mirror with me and the bathroom wasn't conveniently located; so I did my best to blindly dislodge whatever it was that they'd seen.  Finally, Luis (being the compassionate man that he is;) grabbed his coffee stirrer and tried to remove whatever was near my tooth.  He loosened it a bit; but it was still visible.  And then Kelsie, in her infinite wisdom gave Luis a mini skewer from the chocolate fountain; and he used it to to dislodge what was actually just a bit of seasoning from the smoked salmon.

We all laughed; as I said "this is DEFINITELY going into tonight's blog. Who would have thought seventeen years ago, that we'd be sitting here tonight and you'd be removing something from my teeth with a skewer.  What a far cry from when we met."  What can I tell you my friends; YOU Know It's Love When, your spouse will pick at your teeth while you're in a public place.  Granted, all of this occurred as discreetly as possible behind my napkin; BUT nonetheless; ONLY someone who truly loved you, would assist with such an task.  I've said it before, and I'll say it again; "I am a VERY lucky woman!!"
Till next time...

Thursday, November 25, 2010

(43-121) Eternally Grateful

In yesterday's post, "Forty Three Reasons That I Am THANKFUL;" I wrote "Thanksgiving is my very, FAVORITE holiday. It always has been, and if you tune in again tomorrow; I promise that you'll find out one of the biggest reasons why..."  So today is the tomorrow that I was referring to; and first and foremost; HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!

When I was a kid, I LIVED for Thanksgiving. I remember Richie Howell taking me to the Macy's Thanksgiving day parade a number of times; and coming home to our house, that was filled with the delectable scents of the feast that my mom had been cooking since very early in the morning. My mom was an excellent cook and Thanksgiving dinner was the jewel in her crown. My mom would serve 3 course meals on a nightly basis; (I don't know how she managed it;) and on Thanksgiving she would prepare a spread that was beyond compare. My mom would make her own stuffing, from scratch, candied sweet potatoes and candied carrots, Turkey, of course; mashed potatoes, green bean casserole and if that wasn't enough, she made homemade stuffed cabbage as an appetizer. The stuffed cabbage itself could have been the meal; but it was just her way of showing us how special we were to her. I have enjoyed many Thanksgiving meals since my mom passed away in 1986; but I can honestly say that I've never had one as perfect as my mom's.

I ALWAYS treasured Thanksgiving. I'd wake up early to watch the parade on the years that Richie Howell didn't take us. I adored the aromas that would permeate our house, from our Thanksgiving fare. And I savored every minute with my Nana, and Papa, as all too often they were our only Thanksgiving guests.

Since Thanksgiving had always been so special to me; once my mom passed away, it became my most difficult holiday. I would typically be invited to spend the day with a friend and her family, and even though I was happy to have somewhere to go; I always felt very alone; because I wasn't with MY family. Which is why in 1993, I asked my friend Stacy if she wanted to go on vacation with me, during the Thanksgiving holiday. Now, I can't give you ALL of the details, since they're contained in my "Glamour magazine" essay contest submission; BUT, I can tell you this... Thanksgiving 1993 fell on November 25, just like it did this year. AND on Thanksgiving day, 1993; I met and fell in love (at first sight,) with my husband, Luis. Talk about having something to be thankful for!!

Today is the 17th anniversary of when Luis and I met; and I could not be more grateful. I went to Puerto Vallarta for vacation, in order to avoid how terrible I'd felt on Thanksgiving, after losing my mom; and I wound up finding the cure for what ailed me. No, of course Luis couldn't replace my mom; but within a few short months we were married, we became a family, and we started our own traditions. I had been to Vallarta three times before I ever met Luis, and I don't think that it was a coincidence that I met him when I needed him most. Once again, I had a reason to rejoice at Thanksgiving; and each year I have something EXTRA special to be thankful for.

Luis has transformed my life. He gave up everything that was important to him, in order to be with me; and I don't know that I could ever really express my appreciation enough. Luis and I have weathered many storms.  We created our amazing family; and we continue to work, plan and dream together. It's for all of these reasons and so many more; that I will forever be eternally grateful and celebrate Thanksgiving.                                               
Till next time...
Queen of EVERYTHING                                                                                       

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

(43-120) Forty Three Reasons That I Am THANKFUL

Thanksgiving is my very, FAVORITE holiday.  It always has been, and if you tune in again tomorrow; I promise that you'll find out one of the biggest reasons why... 
Now if you've read "The Bumpy Ride" before; then you know that I am all about giving thanks, and expressing my gratitude, for even the simplest of things.  And since this year in particular, I am grateful for EVERY day that I draw breath; I've decided to share my list of Forty Three Reasons That I Am THANKFUL this holiday.

In "100 MORE Random Things About Me;" I told you that I make lists; which is kind of ironic, considering that , in and of itself, that blog was a list.  But, at the risk of being repetitive or God forbid, predictable.  I'm going to have at it again; and in no particular order; here we go.

I'm Thankful:

  1.    To be alive
  2.    For my 3 AMAZING children; Nicky, Lyndzi and Kelsie
  3.    For my INCREDIBLE husband; Luis
  4.    For my cousin Jackie, and all of the love that she is bringing into my life
  5.    For Hershey, (my bilingual Chihuahua) and her daily companionship
  6.    For coffee
  7.    To live in the United States of America
  8.    For the men and women in our armed services; who keep us safe
  9.    For bottled water
10.    For my children's teachers
11.    That the Art Nazi is no longer working at my kid's school 
12.    For my kid's soccer coaches (ESPECIALLY the one who's a good kisser)
13.    That I have healthy children
14.    That I am my own person
15.    For people who take the time to read "The Bumpy Ride"
16.    For everyone that encourages me to keep writing "The Bumpy Ride"
17.    For my wonderful In-laws (ALL of them!!)
18.    For my laptop; which enables me to write my blog any time, anywhere
19.    For FREEDOM (each and every kind)
20.    For laughter and everyone that inspires it
21.    For ALL of my friends; old and new!
22.    For Facebook
23.    For my creativity
24.    For my ability to write
25.    That my children always thank me for every meal that I give them
26.    For email
27.    For fresh air
28.    That I'm determined
29.    That Bristol Palin didn't win "DWTS"
30.    For comfy pajamas
31.    For Dreyer's Slow churned 1/2 the fat ice cream (you can't taste a  difference; REALLY)
32.    For Diet Dr. Pepper Cherry and Diet Mountain Dew
33.    For our home
34.    For my job
35.    For Luis' job
36.    For unexpected surprises
37.    For Kohl's - their sensational sales and unbelievable return policy
38.    For The Macy's Thanksgiving day parade
39.    My health
40.    For new experiences
41.    For books
42.    For EVERY minute that I share with my family and friends
43.    That my husband understands the importance of waiting until the day AFTER Thanksgiving to put up our Christmas lights

In honor of Thanksgiving, I think it's important to take a few minutes and remember many of the reasons that we have to be grateful.  No matter how bad any of us may think that we have it; I'm absolutely certain that there are many who would be all to happy to trade places with us.  Thanksgiving is a time to acknowledge all that you have and not dwell on what you have not.   It's a time to be appreciative of experiences past and present; and all that we are blessed to have, from things that we take for granted to things that make our lives a little easier and things that we couldn't live without.

I wish you all a TERRIFIC Thanksgiving, and I hope that you gobble till you wobble.                                                   
Till next time...
Queen of EVERYTHING                                              

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

(43-119) I FEEL GOOD

When I posted "A Helping Hand," on Sunday; I told you that I had made my long, overdue return to the gym, and that I was planning to go back the next day... and indeed I did.  I went today as well, so if you're counting that's three days in a row, and although three days isn't much; it's three days more than I had gone in a long, long time; and I AM very proud of myself.

I am so grateful that Lesa G suggested that we go to the gym the other day.  I KNEW that I needed to get there; and yet I just kept standing in my own way.  Now that I've gone back, and I've been reminded of how good it feels; I believe that I'm going to stick with it.  After all, once upon a time I wrote post 43-3; and look at me now.  I'm already up to post  43-119; so before you know it, I'll be telling you that I made my 119th visit to the gym; and HOPEFULLY by then, I will have lost at least 20 lbs.  It's good to have goals.  Of course I need to lose a lot more than 20 lbs; because if you recall, in "100 MORE Random Things About Me;" I shared that I need to lose 100 lbs.  I'm going to approach my weight loss just as I am this blog; and I'm going to set small goals for myself; so that I can enjoy success along the way. 

I was talking to my friend Dawn earlier today, and she was telling me that she was very happy and proud of me for getting back to the gym.  Dawn suggested that I try a Zumba class; but I explained that I go to a no frills kinda gym and they don't offer any classes; they just have treadmills, stair climbers, ellipticals, circuit training machines and free weights.  Not even a shower; but that's OK because you get what you pay for; and I really don't pay very much at all.  I must say that although a class would be nice; I enjoy going to Fitness 19 because there are all kinds of people, all kinds of shapes and all kinds of ages; so where I had always thought that I'd feel self-conscious at a gym; that has NEVER been the case here.

It's only three days in; but I can honestly say that I FEEL GOOD; and when I'm saying that, I'm hearing James Brown in my head of course.  I'm not the biggest James Brown fan, but somehow it seems unavoidable. Dadda Dadda Dadda Da!
I don't want to get ahead of myself; but the promise of what can be, is extremely exciting.  I want to look like the picture on the side of my blog again, the picture on my Facebook avatar, and NOT the woman in the pictures that my friend Tiffany posted on Facebook yesterday.  For those of you who aren't familiar with Facebook; if a friend posts a picture and you're in it; they "tag" you so that the picture is associated with your account as well. This morning I actually removed my tags from my friend's pictures because I didn't want any of my other friend's attention being called to them.  SO SAD, I know.  I emailed Tiff and explained why I'd removed my tags; and I NEVER want to have to do so again.  This is it!!!                       
Till next time...

Monday, November 22, 2010

(43-118) Hide The Turkey

Hiding or disguising the turkey is a traditional Thanksgiving activity for the kindergarten and first grade classes at my kid's school.  The kids are given a piece of paper with a plump, Thanksgiving turkey on it; and as a family activity, you are supposed to hide or disguise the turkey, so that he won't be eaten.

When Nicky was in Kindergarten, we disguised his turkey as Santa Claus and turned his plumage into a sack of toys.  Then, in First grade, Nicky's turkey masqueraded as a pirate.

When Lyndzi was in Kindergarten, we hid her turkey underneath an old fashioned gumball machine and in First grade, her turkey was transformed into a butterfly.

Last year, Kelsie's turkey assumed the identity of a ladybug and this year it's camouflaged as a bucket of popcorn. 

I wish that I had thought about doing this blog BEFORE I covered the turkey up.  I tried to find a replica of the original turkey so that you could see how well we'd done; but alas, he was REALLY allusive; so you'll just have to take my word for it... he's under there; and he is as large as the bucket of popcorn. 

Can you tell that I LOVE this activity? The kids and I always have a fantastic time deciding what to do with the turkey and creating something together  I am THANKFUL for these times, indeed.

Till next time...

Sunday, November 21, 2010

(43-117) A Helping Hand

I finally went back to the gym today.  No need to read that line again; I'll repeat, I FINALLY WENT BACK TO THE GYM TODAY; hallelujah!!  It was a long time coming; but I did it; AND, I'm going back tomorrow.
After the gym, my dear friend, Lesa G and I had coffee at Starbucks, and caught up.  Following Starbucks, I went to Sam's Club, and when I tried to start my minivan; it was dead.

I called Luis to ask if we had jumper cables in the minivan, and he told me where to find them.  Then just as I was removing them from their location, it started to rain.  I had to laugh; I mean for the amount of times we actually get rain in Peoria, Arizona; for it to rain right then and there, I found ironic.

I do have AAA but I know that it usually takes a while for them to get to you. I had just purchased milk and chicken; which I didn't want to go bad and thankfully, I had parked close to the tire center entrance; so I walked over to see if someone there might be able to help me. I explained that my car wouldn't start and that I had jumper cables, and I asked if someone could help me out.  The gentleman couldn't have been nicer; and he immediately came out to help me.  I popped the hood so he could see where my battery was located; and then he pulled his car over.  There was a car parked on either side of me, as well as in front of me; but fortunately the cables were long enough to reach from my car to his.   As soon as he started to hook up the cables, the rain started coming down a lot stronger; and again I had to laugh because behind my car and to the side of my car, there were beautiful blue skies; yet right over my car; POURING RAIN.

In no time at all, my car was up and running.  I offered the man a tip of the couple of dollars that I had in my purse; but he told me that they were supposed to do anything that they can to help; and they weren't permitted to accept tips.  I thanked him profusely, wished him a Happy Thanksgiving, and got on my way.

I am so pleased that I have a tale of kindness and cooperation to report, since all too often I am telling you about situations that have gone wrong or customer service agents who weren't up to par.  How refreshing to be able to say that there was a well trained, gracious man, working in the Sam's tire center today and he didn't think twice about lending me a helping hand.  
Till next time...
Queen of EVERYTHING   

Saturday, November 20, 2010

(43-116) My Girl's Got COURAGE

We've been having a sensational soccer season.  At the risk of jinxing us; I'll tell you that all three of my kid's teams are undefeated thus far.  Lyndzi and Kelsie have each had one tie in addition to their victories; and Nicky's team has won every game.  Although all three kids have very different skill levels, each of the games have been nothing short of fantastic.

Today Lyndzi's coach wasn't at the game, because he went backpacking; so a couple of Dad's filled in coaching The T-N-T for him.  The coach had provided the Dad's with a lineup; that included Lyndzi playing forward or defender in the first half; and goalie (her preferred position,) in the second half.  We were playing a team that we've beaten before; but two seasons ago, this team was the team to beat; and our kids remember that.

The first half was a little tougher for us than usual, and by the time half time arrived we were losing one to two.  Lyndzi told me that she was a little nervous to play goalie, since the other team was playing so hard; and they were losing for the first time this season.   Lyndzi felt that if they lost, it would be her fault; so she wasn't sure that she wanted to take that chance.  The Dad's called the team together for a pep talk.  They asked Lyndzi if she was ready to be goalie; and I heard her tell them that she was a little nervous.  I "thought" that they were looking for a replacement; but the next thing I knew, my girl was putting her goalie jersey on.  I went over to the meeting and gave Lyndzi a BIG hug, and told her how very proud of her I was, for being afraid and trying anyway. 

As she took to the field, the Dad's were talking her up, telling her what a great goalie she was; and that she had nothing to fear.  They said that as long as she had a good time playing, everything would be OK.

T-N-T was back in true form by the second half and they scored early, scored again, and again and again.  The opposing team scored one goal on Lyndzi and one goal only; although they attempted four.  The game ended with T-N-T winning five to three.

EVERYONE was so proud of Lyndzi and told her what a terrific job she did; and just as we were about to walk away, one of the Dad's said "Lyndzi, how many goals did they score on you?"  And Lyndzi quietly said "one."  He then repeated his question, and with a bit more confidence and a big smile; Lyndzi answered "ONE."  He then went on to tell Lyndzi; "They scored one; and you were right where you were supposed to be.  You went for it, and it slipped; but it was a lucky goal; not one that had anything to do with your error."  He then said, "Lyndzi, win or lose; as long as you give it your all and have fun, that's all that any of us care about."  He told her that she did a great job; and I thanked him very much for talking to her.

John Wayne said " Courage is being scared to death - but saddling up anyway;" and today Lyndzi did just that.  I think that she was very brave to face her fear; and I'm so glad that she was successful despite it.

You all know that my kids make me proud on a daily basis; but today is different.  Today I am proud FOR Lyndzi because she made her own difficult decision and showed everyone her strength of character and ability. ANYONE can agree to play goalie when they have a big lead or are playing a weaker team; but to know that you might lose and give it your all anyway; now THAT is courageous.
Till next time...

Friday, November 19, 2010

(43-115) HAPPY Together

It's amazing how the most mundane tasks can actually be delightful when you do them with someone that you adore. 

It's Friday, so it's date day; but today we just ran some routine errands.  Luis and I went to his 11:15 doctor's appointment and then we had lunch at Del Taco.  Now, that might not sound appealing to some of you; but I can tell you that it was a GORGEOUS day in Arizona today and we dined outside, amidst a stunning mountain view; and it turned our simple meal into a real treat. 

I don't put Del Taco in the same category as the "Ass Burrito" places; I just think of it as fast food and when Luis and the kids want to have Del taco, I usually get Subway instead.  Well, the other night after soccer. Jenny and I went to grab something quick to eat with the kids and Subway was closed for renovations; so I ate at Del Taco, and I have to say, it was actually good - and by good I mean tasty, not greasy; AND something I was willing to eat again.  Now even thought I told you in "100 MORE Random Things About Me," that I don't typically like refried beans; for some reason; I am keen on the bean and cheese burrito with green sauce, at Del Taco.  They also have a new Carne Asada taco for $1.79 and it must say that it's quite yummy.

We left Del Taco and drove to my office because when I was there yesterday, I accidentally left my bag of paperwork behind.  In order to get to my office we drove up a mountain and Luis commented that he used to drive fast on this mountain to make the kids laugh, which gave me the biggest laugh ever; because Luis never drives fast ANYWHERE.  We don't call him the snail for nothing.

I picked up my paperwork, and we headed to Wal-Mart for water, mushrooms, Swedish Fish for Michelle M (because we were supposed to be watching "Grown Ups" together tonight;) and a gift card for Michelle's son Max; who turned nine on Sunday.  While we were at Wal-mart, Luis suggested that we check the Redbox to see if "Grown Ups" was in; but it wasn't; and neither were Michelle's Swedish fish.

We decided to go to the Ninety Nine cent store, to see if they had a box of Swedish fish; but their cupboard was bare as well; and the Blockbuster box showed that "Grown Ups" was checked out.  We tried another Redbox down the street from our house; and after trying alternative ways to look up the title of our movie; we were victorious.  We spent all of $1.09 to rent "Grown Ups;" which would have cost us $4.99 plus tax had we used ON DEMAND. Luis was giddy because he had never personally used the Red box before; and he found it to be FABULOUS.
We got home in time to start picking up our house.  We cooked dinner together; and Luis totally cleaned our dishwasher out, because it was too gross for words.

Sadly Michelle had to cancel on our movie night, because she got food poisoning.  Although she'll be missed; we're going to settle in and watch our dvd; because this is one of those rare occasions where Luis and I actually want to see the same movie.
You know it really is true; with a Best friend, ANYTHING can be fun; and I feel so very blessed that we're still so HAPPY Together.  
Till next time...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

(43-114) Heartthrobs

Number 22 of my "100 MORE Random Things About Me" list was, "I've never been an Oprah fan; but I've actually started recording her show."  Well, a couple of weeks ago Dawn told me that Oprah was having a "Sound Of Music" cast reunion, so I DVR'd it. I thought that I'd watch the one episode and Oprah and I would part company; but when I saw the promo for Oprah's interview with Portia De Rossi, I decided totape that as well.  The interview was very interesting but it was the promo for the next day's show that made me add Oprah to my daily DVR schedule.  Oprah was going to be interviewing Ricky Martin and there was NO WAY that I was going to miss it.  I LOVE Ricky Martin; and I have since his days as long haired, Miguel on "General Hospital."  I had never been a fan of long haired men, but Ricky with long hair, made me drool.  I thought he was a hottie for sure, but what REALLY sold me on him, was when he performed "Maria" on "GH."  Ricky and Oprah had a wonderful interview and at the end, Ricky performed his new song with Joss Stone, "The Best Thing About Me Is You;" and it was delightful!!

Now time being limited, I don't watch Oprah everyday, although I continue to DVR it; and the other day I watched Oprah's Heart Throb episode and there he was; one of my very first celebrity crushes; Shaun Cassidy.  I was a big, (yes,) HUGE; Shaun fan back in the day.  So much so that I almost included "That's Rock 'N' Roll" on my play list a few weeks ago.  Well let me tell you, Shaun was so adorable in his interview with Oprah, that I could actually have a little crush on him all over again.  Shaun was very kind and humble, and funny.  He put some weight on; so instead of being this skinny teen, he's a hunky man.  He seems to be happily married and he's a committed dad; and even though he hasn't performed in about 30 years; I thought that he sounded great, when he performed a medley of his hits. 

Peter Frampton closed the show, and even though he was never one of my heart throbs, I've always enjoyed "Show Me The Way" and "Baby I Love Your Way;" and he didn't disappoint. I wouldn't have
recognized Peter Frampton if I tripped over him; but his live performance was as good as anything that he'd ever recorded.

I'm going to continue to record this final year of Oprah; and I'm sure that I'll have a lot more to share with you, if the shows continue to be as informative and entertaining as the ones I've seen thus far.
Till next time.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

(43-113) The Results Are In...

I think I did a very good job of remaining calm, despite the potentially bad news that I was awaiting.  I refused to let negative thoughts consume me; and I chose to take my friend Jimmy's advice instead, and pray.

My cousin, Jackie called to check on me after reading "The Glass Is Half Full," and I was moved to tears over her concern for me.  I told her that I thought that my doctor's office would have contacted me weeks ago if something was wrong; and that this was probably just a mishap. 

Around 1130, I still hadn't heard from my doctor's office, so I gave them a call.  The receptionist checked my records and told me that my last mammogram results were from October 2009 and that they hadn't received anything from the radiologist recently.  She told me to call the radiologist and have them fax the results over.  I called the radiology office and asked for the office manager, but this person was not going to be until 5pm.  I explained EVERYTHING to Brenda, the lovely woman that had taken my call; and she assured me that she would fax my results to my doctor and call me back once the fax went through.

It was an hour later when Brenda called.  Brenda explained that her contract with my doctor's office required test results to be hand delivered to them and according to their records, my results were deliveres on November fifth.  Brenda told me the name of the person who had signed for the results and went on to say that my doctor's office had no idea what had happened to that delivery.  My doctor's office agreed that Brenda could fax my results over, and Brenda told me to follow up with them in a half hour.

This was becoming a comedy of errors; unfortunately there was nothing funny about it.  I waited a little more than a half hour and called my doctor's office.  I asked to speak to the office manager, but she was on her way to a short meeting, and the receptionist advised me that she'd call me back when she returned.  I told the receptionist that I also needed a nurse to call me back with my test results, and she said that if I'd hold on, she would get a nurse on the phone with me now.  I was on hold for over five minutes when the receptionist came back and said that she couldn't find a nurse.  The receptionist asked me to leave a message on the office managers voice mail, and said that she could have a nurse call me as well.

Within 15 minutes, Diane the office manager called me back.  I explained what had happened, and how someone had signed for my test results, but they were no where to be found.  Diane was very compassionate and aptly apologetic.  She was also quite disturbed because there must have been other people whose test results were misplaced as well.  I asked Diane if she could have a nurse call me with my test results, but she told me that she had them and that everything was negative and I was absolutely fine.  Hallelujah!! 

I knew in my heart that there was nothing wrong; and maybe that's why I  was able to remain positive.  As soon as I hung up with Diane, I called Luis to let him know that I was OK; and I texted Jackie. 

It is my 113th day of being 43 and I am delighted to say that  I have a clean bill of health.  What a fantastic way to celebrate my 250th post of "The Bumpy Ride."
Till next time...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

(43-112) The Glass Is Half Full

When I wrote "BOOBS," on October 27; I told you that I had gotten my annual mammogram done.  The radiology center that I go to always has us complete a self-addressed postcard so that they can send us a quick note to give us peace of mind that all is well.  Or at least those are always the kind of postcards that I'd received from them in the past.

I've been watching my mail, but to date I haven't received a card, so I was starting to get a little worried.  Now my mail carrier is not the best by a long shot and several times I've gotten someone else's mail, so I thought it could be very possible that someone else had gotten my card.  Just to be on the safe side, I called the radiology center and had a rather frustrating experience.

When I first called I got a man on the line.  I said "Hello" and started to say "I was there on October 27 for my annual mammogram," to which he mechanically said "what do you need ma'am?"  And I replied "Well, I was trying to tell you before you interrupted me."  I then went on to explain that I hadn't received a postcard from them, so I was just calling to follow up and he blandly said "hold on," and transferred my call.

A woman picked up the line, and again I stated my purpose for calling, but before I could finish, the woman interjected "So you need to re-schedule your appointment?"  I said "No."  And then asked what was wrong with the listening skills of their personnel.  I re-stated my reason for calling, and the woman was extremely apologetic.  The woman said that she would look into the matter and someone would call me back.

Within about fifteen minutes I got a call back and the woman advised that they'd found my test results, but she couldn't tell me what they were; however, she suggested that I call my doctor.  She also said that the cards were being sent out and she apologized for the delay, and the earlier misunderstanding.

To say that I was nervous, would be an understatement.  I wasted no time and promptly called my doctor's office.  I had to leave a message and the receptionist said that the doctor or her assistant would call me back.  I asked if it would be today, but was told that it might not be until tomorrow.  I tired to remain calm, and didn't want to think the worst.  I ran over all of the possible scenarios in my head.  Maybe she told me to call my doctor because it was bad news.  Perhaps she was trying to be nice and thought the doctor could tell me that everything was OK, quicker than I'd get the card in the mail; or maybe she was trying to worry me unnecessarily for pointing out how rude she and her co-worker had been.  At this point I can't say which reason it was, because sadly I have yet to hear from the doctor or her assistant.

For the most part, I find imagination to be a wonderful thing and I use mine quite regularly; BUT imagination can also be a breeding ground for fear.  If we allow our negative imagination to get the better of us; we can drive ourselves crazy, and that's certainly not what I want; so I've made the conscious decision to believe the glass is half full.  I don't want to dwell on the possibility of a problem; when there might not be one at all. Now taking this stance doesn't come naturally to me, because I'm prone to worrying; but I don't want to waste my energy on that.  Although it would be simple for me to fear the worst; there's also a chance that all is well; and that the woman that I spoke with was trying to help me get the fastest results possible.  Worrying needlessly is a waste of time and energy and since I have neither to spare, I'm going to focus on the fact that  I am surrounded by love and positivity and  I'm going to savor every minute of it.  Please send your love, good thoughts and positive energy my way.
Till next time...
Queen of EVERYTHING                                  

Monday, November 15, 2010

(43-111) The Four Seasons

When we were driving back from the lake on Saturday night, I got a text from Michelle M that said "Rock the boat is on 94.5 FM."  I immediately turned the radio on and turned the station to 94.5 so that I could sing along; OK, and dance, to the remainder of the tune.  I've always LOVED "Rock the boat," by Hues Corporation, so even catching a portion of the song, puts a smile on my face; and thankfully, Michelle M knows it.
"Rock the boat" was followed by "Dream Weaver," which I enjoy, but Michelle was none to happy to hear.  I was thinking that 94.5 was playing some good "old" music for a Saturday night, and then they played one of my ALL TIME FAVES, "December 1963 (Oh What A Night,)" by The Four Seasons.  LOVE IT!  Luis and I were both singing along, happy as can be.  Isn't the power of music just amazing?  I mean Luis and I were both in very good moods heading back from the lake, so it's not that these songs turned our moods around; however, I KNOW, that when I'm in a less than cheery mood and I hear one of my "HAPPY" songs, it can definitely lift my spirits and improve my day.

It's been a couple of days since I heard "Oh What a Night," but I haven't been able to get it out of my head ever since.  In fact, I'm actually thinking that a ring tone may be in order, so that I can hear a little tidbit of this treasure a couple of times a day. 

I can't tell you exactly what it is about either of these early seventies songs that I find so appealing; so perhaps I'll just have to quote a standard line from "American Bandstand;"  "It's got a good beat and you can dance to it." 

Although I've never thought of myself as a Four Seasons fan; I guess I really am.  I have yet to see "Jersey Boys," the Broadway show about Frankie Valli and the Four seasons, but I'm sure that I'd revel in it; because when it comes right down to it, I fancy so many of their songs. (Did you hear that sentence with an English accent?  I love to say "fancy" instead of "like" but we rarely do here in the States. Perhaps I need to start a campaign, just like when I wanted to bring back "Keep On Truckin," but I digress. 
Who Loves You," (which of course I had to share the disco version;) "Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You," and "My Eyes Adored You;" were the Four Seasons songs that I could think of right off of the top of my head; but me being me, I had to double check myself, so I looked up a list of Four Seasons songs to see if there were any others that I'd  want to mention.  I found that they had recorded a song called "Heaven Must Have sent You," and since Bonnie Pointer's "Heaven Must Have Sent you;" is another song on the top of my "Happy"  song list, I checked to see if it was one and the same; but it wasn't.  However, now that I've mentioned it, I feel compelled to share this oldie but goodie as well.

I hope that at least one of these tunes gets your toes tappin, your blood pumping and puts a smile on your face.
Till next time...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

(43-110) Unexpected Happiness

This morning I had my first conversation with my cousin Jackie; since I found her on Facebook on Thursday night.  Just like I told you in "Just What I Needed," even though we're first cousins, I don't know Jackie at all.  But as soon as we were on the phone together, we chatted like we were old friends.  It was strange to speak about other family members and know that they were her relatives too.  I had to stop myself from saying MY grandmother; and just say Nana instead, because MY grandmother was also Jackie's grandmother; even though Jackie didn't really now OUR grandmother.  It was amazing to discuss other family members and know that they were people that we had in common, even though we barely knew them or each other.

Connecting with Jackie has already brought me, such unexpected happiness, and I think that I must have had a smile plastered on my face the entire time that we talked.  There was something about her voice that was so kind, comforting and loving.  And when she laughed, it sounded to me VERY much like my laugh; and she thought the same.  We spoke for at least an hour and a half, and we discovered that we had many likenesses.  Jackie asked me if my wedding bouquet was Sterling silver roses, and when I said yes; she told me that those were her favorite roses as well.   We both have made and sold jewelry as a hobby, and her youngest daughter is an avid scrapbooker.  Jackie told me that she loves to make things with her hands and do crafts; and I felt assured that we were cut from the same cloth.  We revelled in our similarities and were comforted by our commonalities.  We recognized that even though there had been years and miles between us; it's remarkable that we were so alike.  We both told each other repeatedly, how thrilled we were to have found each other.  And we concurred that we never had to long for family again; because now we have each other.

Jackie told me that her heart was now full; and I must say that this is EXACTLY how I feel.  I am exuberant, I am delighted; and I feel loved.  Jackie is the first person in my biological family who has shown any genuine concern for me in the past 20 years; and I feel blessed to have found her. 
Till next time...

Saturday, November 13, 2010

(43-109) LIVE From Lake Pleasant, It's Saturday Night!!

Today’s post is being written as day light fades on Lake Pleasant. Here I sit in my camping chair, typing a word doc on my laptop, while Luis barbecues steak and grilled veggies, Jenny makes Guacamole at our table; Michelle M offers up Jell-o shots and other alcoholic beverages (although I'm not partaking:) and all of our kids play happily. What a FANTASTIC evening!!

The original SMF’s, Jenny, Michelle and I wanted to go camping, but we couldn’t fit it into our schedule; so we decided to make a day trip to Lake Pleasant. Michelle, Jenny and I went shopping for groceries last night; and even that was a TERRIFIC time. We all met at soccer at 710am this morning, since we had team pictures in addition to our 3 soccer games. Well, mine and Jenny' kids had 3 soccer games; and Michelle the trooper, went to Costco while we were at our third game, and purchased the steak and mushrooms that we needed for tonight's dinner; AND chunkeds up the vegetables that we were going to grill. Then by 315 we headed out to the lake.

Michelle and Jenny arrived before we did, and they told me that they had bought a day pass for $6 each, (2 for Jenny, because she had 2 vehicles;) and they said that I should check with the park ranger to see where we needed to go and what we needed to pay, in order to be able to stay into the evening, because they were under the impression that the $6 only entitled them to stay until 6pm. I told the park ranger that I had some questions, and he cheerfully told me that he had answers. Unfortunately, he had the wrong answers. He told me that we could stay until 10pm with the day pass and he pointed us towards the day pass areas. We met up our friends and headed off to the day pass areas. We chose a spectacular spot, overlooking the lake
with an abundance of tables under one awning; and we unpacked our cars. There was no fire pit as promised, but we noticed remnants of a fire and so we thought we’d be OK where we were; but Mike grew doubtful. I suggested that Mike look to see if he could find a sign stating that fires were prohibited and he didn’t but he was concerned about the signs that said the area closed at Sunset.

Mike called the park rangers and was told that in fact we could only stay where we were until sunset. They said that they would refund us on one of the day passes but that we’d need to buy an overnight pass. The overnight pass, was $17, and 2 cars were allowed for that price. Each additional car would be $6, so we’d owe a total of $29 and we’d already paid $24, but being the Queen of FAIRNESS, I didn’t think that we should have to pay anymore since we’d been given incorrect information, and spent most of our time packing up and moving around. Mike and I drove back to the park ranger, and I went up to the booth, sweet and friendly as can be. I told the park ranger (the same one that had “answered” my questions, that I was confused. I reminded him that he’d said we could stay until 10 with the day pass, but we were now being told that it was not so. I explained that we’d been moving around accordingly and asked if we could just trade the passes that we’d paid for and get an overnight pass instead; and he willingly agreed. OK, I’ll admit it; I was VERY satisfied with myself. And Michelle and I agreed that I missed my calling. Michelle said “No one can argue as good as you, when you’re right;” and I added “and even when I’m wrong.”

Mike and I scouted out a new location, staked our claim, rounded up everyone else; and finally settled in. There’s just something about being outdoors in the Arizona Autumn, that’s absolutely amazing. We have 7 children and 7 adults, and yet it's calm and quiet. Maybe the full day of soccer prior to getting to the lake, has tired everyone out and we are all in relaxation mode.

The sun has now set, and I’m typing in the dark; so I think I’m going to have to conclude. We’ve got dinner, Smores and a campfire ahead of us; and I need to help my friends. Today has been full of everything that I love; watching my kids play soccer, spending time outdoors and enjoying the company of our fabulous friends.
Till next time…