Thursday, March 31, 2011

(43-247) My Real Life Love Story

Call me crazy, but when I told you in "My Something Special," that I had entered the "Glamour Magazine" Essay Contest, I really did believe that I had the winning story.  I submitted my entry in September, and waited patiently, as the rules stated that the essays would not be read until on or about February 1, 2011.  I had no idea how long it might take them to read all of the submissions and chose a winner, so even up until a couple of days ago, I still remained optimistic.  At the beginning of this week I decided that ignorance was definitely not bliss;  so I checked to see if they had announced a winner somewhere, and surely they had.; but obviously, it wasn't me.  I was disappointed to hear that I hadn't won; but I'm not going to let it stop me.  I am choosing to believe that my rejection does not mean no forever, just not right now.

I previously promised that if my essay did not win the contest, that I would share it once and for all, here on "The Bumpy Ride," where it really belongs.  I had considered waiting until July 2, since that's my wedding anniversary; but since we never know what tomorrow will bring or if there will be a tomorrow for that matter; I say, there's no time like the present.  So, without further ado, I am very happy to share my real life love story with you.

In November 1993, I was 26 years old, living in New York (where I was born and raised), working as a Social Worker at a Residential Treatment Center for emotionally disturbed children, and attending graduate school for my Masters degree in Community and School Psychology. I’d had an unusual life up until this time, as both of my parents had passed away by the time I was 19 years old, and shortly thereafter I lost my grandparents as well. I had a younger brother, but we were not close; and so my friends became my family.

Thanksgiving was approaching and in the years that followed my parents deaths, I found that the holiday didn’t hurt so much, if I spent it on vacation rather than with a friend’s family. My friend Stacy graciously agreed to sacrifice her family holiday and go on vacation with me.

In March of 1992 I had made my first trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico with my friend Hollie. The only thing that I knew about Puerto Vallarta, was that it was a “Love Boat” port; but the price of the trip was right, so I was willing to give it a try. On two earlier vacations I had gone to Cancun, but I thought that Vallarta was heaven on earth. I had never been to a place with so much to offer. Between the ocean, the mountains, the jungle and the colonial town with its cobblestone walkways, I found Puerto Vallarta captivating.

I made two more trips to Vallarta between May 1992 and May 1993 but Stacy was unable to join me either time. So, while we were planning our Thanksgiving trip, we felt certain that Puerto Vallarta should be our destination.  We spoke with several travel agents, but for some reason, no one was able to find us a good deal for Vallarta. We considered going anywhere and everywhere else, but nowhere appealed to us as much as Vallarta.

 The day had come when we HAD to make a decision about our vacation, and as luck would have it, a travel agent called with an offer that we couldn’t refuse. The agent had found packages for two beautiful properties, both for the same price. We just needed to decide which one to choose. Ultimately we booked the Sheraton Buganvilias because I remembered that my friend Kate, (who was very well traveled) had once told me that the Sheraton Buganvilias in Puerto Vallarta was the nicest hotel that she had ever stayed at.
Thanksgiving day was very low key and exactly what I had hoped for. We took a walk on the beach and relaxed by the Pool. Stacy decided to go back to our room and a little while later, I did the same. As I was walking through the lobby (make-up free and frizzy hair abounding;) I stopped dead in my tracks when I noticed the handsome, sales agent that was sitting at the National car rental desk. I took a moment to discreetly check him out and quickly took off for my room, before he’d had a chance to notice me.
As soon as I walked through the door, Stacy said “I SAW THE MOST PERFECT GUY FOR YOU.” I said, “I KNOW. ME, TOO.” And at the exact same time, we said “THE NATIONAL CAR RENTAL GUY!!“ Then Stacy said “You know that you have to meet him, right?” And we joked about how this might be accomplished. We showered and got ready to go out for the evening, and as we walked through the lobby there he was again. Stacy started clapping her hands and I was completely mortified. I asked her what she thought she was doing and she explained that she didn’t know how to whistle or snap and she was trying to get his attention.  I was desperate to leave the hotel immediately, but Stacy would not relent and she walked over to look at some plants. While pretending to be interested in the foliage, a timeshare lady (who sat right across from the car rental desk) called us over; and for proximity’s sake, we went. While the lady was offering us the moon and the stars, I glanced over my shoulder a couple of times, (okay, three times,) to look at the man of my dreams. Well, I guess three times really was a charm because he crooked his finger and called me over. Just as fast as if someone had lit a match under my butt I was sitting at the car rental desk, directly across from my heart’s desire. Luis introduced himself. He spoke perfect English though with a bit of an accent. He told me that he was from Vallarta, and that he was 28 years old. He also told me that his birthday was on Christmas day and I was flabbergasted, because Christmas was Stacy’s birthday too. I chatted nervously about the picture of the Yellow Geo Tracker that he had on his desk, because I had that exact same jeep at home, same color and all; and I thought that all of  these coincidences seemed quite unusual. Luis asked where we were going and I told him that we were going to have dinner and then go dancing and I invited him to join us. I don’t know what it was about Luis that made me so excited. I had dated very attractive men before and I didn’t usually have any trouble meeting guys but there was just something about Luis that sent my heart reeling from the get go.  Luis met us later that night after he’d finished working and it was the best time that I’d ever had. We danced, we talked, we walked through romantic Vallarta and for the first time in a long time, I truly felt that I had something to be thankful for. Luis was off from work the next day, so I didn’t see him at the hotel but he did call to ask me out that night. After our second incredible date I did something that I never thought I would do. I asked Luis (half joking) if he wanted to get married and come back to New York with me. Although many people may have been shocked by this question, Luis softly asked “You want to marry me?” And I said “I think so.” Luis then said “Well, I think that if you come back a few more times; I will marry you.” Crazy, I know but somehow it just felt like the right thing to do. Back in New York I was always on my guard and trying to figure everything out. I wasn’t happy at my job, and my personal life had been a bit of a mess. I don’t think that I had a chip on my shoulder about losing my parents so young; but up until that point, I didn’t think that life had treated me well. When I was with Luis I felt positive, and hopeful and safe; and these weren’t feelings that I was accustomed to. So, I got caught up in the moment and let my spontaneity get the better of me. I knew that most people would suspect that Luis just wanted a green card. But, I had to trust my heart and I KNEW that this wasn’t the case. Luis was one of six children (and the only one who spoke fluent English.) His family all resided in Vallarta and he had no interest in leaving, although he did have an interest in me. I told Luis that as a Social Worker I got four weeks vacation per year and I had quite a bit saved up. I told him that if he was serious about trying to have a relationship with me and if he was willing to commit to not date other girls, then I would come back in a few weeks to see him again and he fully agreed.

Saying good-bye to Luis was excruciating and I think that I cried all the way back to New York. I had finally come to understand why I felt so compelled to keep returning to Vallarta. It was because there was something there that I was meant to find.  Once I got home I couldn’t wait to tell my friends my exciting news. People were skeptical of course; but my friend, Hollie suggested that Luis and I apply for a fiancé visa. Hollie explained that if we were given the visa, Luis would get to come to the states for 90 days, but if we didn’t get married within that time, Luis would have to return to Mexico. I thought that the fiancé visa would give us the opportunity to get to know each other under real life circumstances as opposed to the fantasy of vacation and so I called Luis to see what he thought. Luis sounded happy to hear from me, but he told me that he had lied to me about something. My heart sank to the pit of my stomach and I was fearful of what he was going to tell me. I asked what he had lied about, and he explained that he wasn’t 28; he was actually 23. I asked why he lied, and he said “When I saw you, you stole my heart, but I knew that you were older than me and I didn’t think that you would take me seriously if you knew how old I was. So, I lied.” I asked if his birthday was really on Christmas and he said “No” I asked why he had lied about his birthday, and he wasn’t sure. I told him that I understood why he did it but that he could never lie to me again.  In all fairness though, I have to say that both lies actually worked to his advantage.  He was right. If I had known that he was only 23, I wouldn’t have taken him seriously. During our time together, he never gave me any reason to suspect that he was younger than what he had originally told me. Learning he was only 23 was not a deterrent to me. After lying about his birthday, it turned out that Luis was really a Scorpio, and I’d had other UNSUCCESSFUL relationships with Scorpio men in the past; so if I'd known that he was a Scorpio, I probably wouldn’t have given him a chance. Once we had moved past the lies and I could breathe again, I told Luis about the fiancé visa; and he said “Get the papers.”

In late January, Stacy and I returned to Vallarta again. Luis and I had been speaking on the phone at least once a week, in addition to writing each other letters. I couldn’t wait to see him. We had another amazing, week together, and we completed all of our paperwork to file for the fiancé visa. As difficult as it was to leave Luis the first time, the second time was even worse. As we drove to the airport, our cab driver asked if Luis was going with me. We said no and questioned why he was asking. The cab driver explained that he had picked us up from a club a few nights before and he couldn’t believe that Luis was letting me leave without him.
I went home and filed for our fiancé visa and Luis and I increased the frequency of our phone conversations, to the tune of $2000 phone bills for me. On St. Patrick’s Day I found out that our fiancé visa had been approved (after providing copies of our letters, our pictures, and a testimonial from Stacy). After giving them copies of my phone bills and flight and hotel receipts, the government had believed that Luis wanted to come to the states to marry me. And, so did I.  I started to think that I might be crazy. Was I honestly considering marrying a man that I had spent less than two weeks with? I decided that I had to go back to Vallarta to spend more time with Luis, and that this time, I had to go alone. So in April 1994, I went to Vallarta for two weeks and I fervently hoped that by the time I had to return to New York, Luis would have all of the necessary paperwork to come with me.
This trip was the best thing that I could have done, because instead of lounging by the pool and going to clubs, we were living our day to day life. Luis hadn’t officially proposed, but I sincerely believed that we were going to get married. I told Luis that Disney had started doing weddings and that it was something that we could plan via phone and fax; so that if we did decide to get married within the 90 days, we could have  a “REAL” wedding and not just a town hall ceremony. Luis told me to start planning the wedding. He explained that he didn’t want to propose to me until he was in New York and I saw for myself how much he wanted to be with me.

In addition to talking about the wedding, we had many serious conversations. We talked about religion, because I was Jewish and he was Catholic. We talked about children, and education and where we would live. We agreed that he would come to the states since he spoke fluent English and I didn’t speak fluent Spanish, but that someday (sooner than later,) we would move back to Vallarta. We spoke with his parents and his dad questioned me about my commitment to Luis. He wanted to make sure that I was taking this matter very seriously, since his son was going to be leaving his family and moving to another country to be with me. I assured him that I was going to take care of his son for better or worse. It all seemed like everything was happening so fast, and yet nothing was happening fast enough. And then one night we were taking a walk, and I suddenly felt a great sense of peace come over me, because I had a realization that changed my life. After both of my parents had passed away, I had a strong feeling that something very special was going to happen to me - something uncommon; something that others wouldn't experience. It’s wasn’t that I thought that I was owed anything; it was just a notion that I believed wholeheartedly and that I took great comfort in. At times I would wonder what that something special would be. Maybe I'd be the first woman President, or achieve an uncommon goal; but walking down the street hand in hand with Luis I finally knew what it was. I KNEW that Luis was MY SOMETHING SPECIAL and that we were going to have a love that was beyond compare. Luis’ paperwork did not arrive by the time I had to go home to New York; so once again I had to say good bye and leave Vallarta without him. Although it was painful, I left knowing that this time was different because within a few weeks, Luis would be flying to New York and we would be starting our life together.

 I planned a small, Fairy Tale wedding for July 2, at the Disney Yacht and Beach Club, with Stacy as my maid of honor. I moved into a one bedroom apartment; and I prepared for Luis to arrive. Luis and I spoke on the phone daily, and I couldn’t wait for him to get to New York; despite the cynics that surrounded me. Since Stacy was the only one who had met Luis; she tried to explain to people what she had witnessed between us; but our friends found it hard to believe.  Luis arrived in New York on May 12, 1994 and he proposed to me that night. We were married, as planned on July 2, 1994 in a beautiful ceremony, surrounded by my closest friends and sixteen years later, I STILL believe that Luis is MY SOMETHING SPECIAL.

Although our life hasn’t been perfect, I don’t know anyone whose is. All I know is that loving Luis has changed me for the better and that I am so glad that I didn’t let reason prevail and that I listened to my heart; because my relationship with Luis has made me the person that I am today. Luis has sacrificed all that was important to him to be with me and I love him even more today than I did sixteen years ago. We have three beautiful children. We live in Peoria, Arizona. And, to the best of my knowledge, since his original fibs, Luis has NEVER lied to me again.

When I found out that I hadn't won the contest, I called Luis to tell him.  He could tell that I was discouraged, but he was at work and he couldn't say much.  Shortly thereafter I received an email notification that Luis had posted something on my Facebook wall, and it said "TO ME YOU ARE A WINNER..!!! SIEMPRE.!!"    (Siempre is Spanish for ALWAYS .)  Is it any wonder that I fell in love with him?
Till next time...
Queen of EVERYTHING                                    

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

(43-246) The Evening News

I had a lot more balls in the air than usual this afternoon.  Although it's true that I typically try to do a number of things at once, today was a lot, even for me.  I finished work around 320, and immediately started writing Luis' DJ bio; because my boss needed it for his website.  I picked up the kids from school, emailed the bio to my boss, and then had a photo shoot with Luis, so that we could get the perfect picture to go along with his bio.  Once these tasks were done, it was time to start dinner, AND Luis needed help with his 2000's mix.

I had promised the kids that I would make Chicken Parmigiana for dinner, and I had already defrosted the chicken; so even though this time consuming meal was about the last thing I had time for, I didn't want to let them down.  I told Luis that if he would cut the chicken up, I would try and come up with a play list for his mix.  Luis agreed, and while he was showing me how to work the DJ program we got a call from (SMF) Big Mike. 
Now if you're new to "The Bumpy Ride," or it's been a while; SMF stands for (Sexy, Mother F___ers;) and you can read more about this in "OH What A Night!"

U turn ahead...  When I answered the phone, Big Mike said "Was that one of my SMF's on the news?"  I had NO idea what he was talking about, so I asked, "You thought you saw one of the SMF's on the news?  Which one?  Why?"  And he laughed and said "Luis."  Since Luis was sitting right next to me at the computer, I didn't have to go far to tell him that Mike thought he saw him on the news, and Luis said "Oh yeah.  Did I look sexy?  I said "What do you mean oh yeah?"  And as nonchalantly as possible he said "I was on the news."  I did a double take before exclaiming "WHAT?"  I handed Luis the phone and listened as he explained to Mike that various news teams had been at his hotel today, to interview his boss.  He said that while they were filming in the lobby you could see him in the background.

Luis gave the phone back to me and I thanked Mike for letting me know that Luis was on the news.  Mike said, "I thought you were pulling my leg when you acted like you didn't know," and I said "Nope, sadly that was for real.  I had no idea."  And we got a really good laugh out of that; and I got tonight's blog topic; which was a great relief since I had no idea how I was going to fit writing into my evening activities.

After I hung up with Mike,  I explained to Luis that when I asked how his day had been; being on the news was the type of thing that he might have mentioned; especially when he was going to be on EVERY local channel that night.   Luis told me that he'd been so busy it just slipped his mind.  Now that's busy!

Queen of MULTI-TASKING that I am; I managed to construct Luis a GOOD play list, make one of the best batches of Chicken parm that I've ever made, do 2 batches of laundry, go to the supermarket for a few essential items that we ran out of, quiz Nicky for his Social Studies test, clean up from dinner,  write "The Bumpy Ride,"  and watch Luis on the evening news.
Till next time...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

(43-245) A Sample Of The 90's...

I don't know why I persist when the interest has been minimal at best; BUT, since I do love a good game of beating the dead horse; (uggh, another foul animal reference, I'm sorry.) And since our 80's mix is still available on "Media Mishap Resolved?"  I thought I'd go ahead and share our 90's mix as well.

Although I helped Luis pick out the songs; this mix was ALL HIM!  I wasn't even home when he worked on it; and when I finally heard it, I was very impressed.  So even if you're not a big fan of 90's music, I think that you'll still enjoy this sample.  Once again, if something goes awry and you receive some type of error message or you're unable to listen to it for some reason; just email me and I'll be happy to send you the sample. 

I have to say, listening to all of these great songs, makes me want to go to a reunion.  I have yet to go to one of mine; nor we have we gone to Luis', but perhaps once he starts working as a DJ, I can tag along for a few.

Speaking of reunions...  If any readers attended high school in Arizona, I would love to get a peak at your yearbooks.  Well, not a real peak.  You won't need to bring them to me or anything.  I'm just interested in obtaining the names of the senior class officers, from ANY yearbook that you might have, for ANY high school in AZ; so If by ANY chance you can help a sistah out, please email me.

Thank you and ENJOY! 
Till next time...


Monday, March 28, 2011

(43-244) Media Mishaps Resolved?

In yesterday's post, "A Reason To Smile;" I told you that I'd been experiencing all kinds of technical difficulties while trying to provide you with Luis' 80's music mix and my kid's new claymation video. Well, dare I say, I THINK that I may have found a way or two around my media mishaps; however, I'm cautiously optimistic at best.

Today Lyndzi did some touch ups on the figurines that she made from inexpensive modelling clay; and then they re-shot the video using Nicky's cell phone. Unfortunately, I experienced the same problems downloading their video; but since there's more than one way to skin a cat, (God, that's an awful expression;) with Luis and Nicky's assistance, we were able to post it directly onto Youtube. I'm very happy to present you with their latest artistic endeavor, which they call "CLAY: Lets Play Frisbee."

Now the BIGGER problem - Luis' music mix. First I have to take a moment and tell you that we emailed my boss both the 80's and 90's mix. He responded after listening to them, and in regard to the 90's mix he wrote "AWESOME!!!!!" and for the 80's mix he wrote "love it! love it! love it!" YAY, Luis; and OK, yay me too!! Have I peaked your curiosity even MORE?  At this point I don't know if I'm so determined for you to hear Luis' mix because I'm proud of what a great job we did or because I have a never say die attitude and I don't want to let these glitches get the better of me. Either which way, I'm gonna take another stab at it, and attempt to provide you with the video, which is really just the 80's mix.  If you try to listen to it, and you get a message that it's blocked or unavailable or anything to that effect; PLEASE, just email me and put me out of my misery. Then I'll email you not only the 80's mix, but the 90's mix as well. That's right, act now, and you'll get BOTH the 80's mix and the 90's mix FOR FREE! But wait, there's more... No, really there's not; I was just on a roll and feeling a lil self indulgent.  Fingers crossed that we have finally put this matter to rest.   
Till next time...
Queen of EVERYTHING                                       

Sunday, March 27, 2011

(43-243) A Reason To Smile

If you read "Name The DJ..."then you probably know that I've been experiencing some technical difficulties.  This should come as no surprise really, since we all know that I am NOT the Queen of TECHNOLOGY; however, I can't take all the blame on this one.

When I first tried to include Luis' 80's mix in my post, I attached it via a link that he created, by publishing the mix on Youtube.  Everything seemed to have worked smoothly, by the time that I published my blog; but when I checked it last night, I found that the video was not available.  That darn Prince, is all I can say.  I didn't really understand why Luis couldn't put his mix on Youtube, when everyone else and there mother does.  Luis wasn't clear on this either, but speculated that it had something to do with the fact the he used "Little Red Corvette," and Prince watchdog's his material constantly.

Extremely disappointed over this new development, I wrote a temporary advisement to add to the blog; so that people who were just seeing it, would know that the mix was unavailable.  I did say that if you really wanted to hear it (and I hope that you do;) you could email me and I'd send it to you.  This still holds true.

Well this morning I managed to upload the mix as a video, and once again at the time that I published the blog, the music was available; but this is no longer the case - AAGGGHHH!

Anyway, despite this little pitfall, I managed to have a lovely day with my kids.  My girl's in particular.  We went in pursuit of new shoes for Kelsie, and while in the area; we ran into Michaels.  We were looking around, and Kelsie caught eye of a hat that looked like a bee.  She tried it on and it was darling.  She then tried on a monkey and a pig; but it was this last little number that we knew she HAD to have.   Kelsie was willing to spend her own money to purchase this charming cap; and I encouraged her to do so, because I thought that it would make people smile, to see her wearing it.  Honestly, I don't know how you can look at her in this hat and NOT smile.
Kelsie loved the idea of causing people to grin; and she wore her hat proudly. 
Right after she paid, I asked the cashier of they still honor competitor's coupons, because i'd just realized that I had one for Jo-ann; and the cashier said that they did.  Had Kels not paid with a gift card, I would have asked the girl to refund her and start over.  But since I didn't want to make things too complicated, I told Kelsie that she could choose another hat and I'd use the coupon to buy it for her.  Don't try to understand that logic.  It made sense to me at the time, because I felt badly that Kels could have spent less of her own money had i thought to pull out the coupon.  Just call me sucker.  Kels ran back to the hat display and before we could blink she was back with the piggy hat.  Both Lyndzi and I questioned her choice; but she said that she really liked the piggy and we were not going to try and change her mind.

Now while we were in Michael's Lyndzi found some clay that she was interested in purchasing; but I reminded her that she had a Targt gift card and some money left on a Joanne's gift card too.  I suggested that if she waited, to get the clay, she wouldn't have to spend any of her own money.  Lyndzi agreed and we walked over to Target.  Lyndzi found a whole clay kit for just $4.99 and as soon as we got home, she started sculpting herself as a little figurine.  I was astonished.  She then made Nicky, Hershey and a frisbee.  I proposed that she and Nicky get together and make a video with her figures; and they did.  But of course, since I've raved about how much I love continuity, life's handing me a big helping of it right now, because I can't download that video for you either.

I'm going to work on getting all of these lil technical snafus resolved; so that you can enjoy the clay video, the 80's mix and the 90's mix as well.  In the meantime, I'll share another pic of Kels in her hat, because I always love to give you a reason to smile.  
Till next time...

Saturday, March 26, 2011

(43-242) Name The DJ...

When you love someone, it's common to take on their worries and their woes; and often times, you take on their projects and their causes as well.  When I posted  "I Know My ABBA," I told you that Luis had his dream job (becoming a DJ,) dropped right in his lap.  I followed up by telling you about "Luis' DJ Debut," and then in "He's Got The Beat," I brought you up to speed on the outcome of Luis' audition.  I explained that my boss had asked Luis (and the other DJ's) to make three, ten minute music samples; 80's,90's and 00's.  The samples will then be posted on the reunion coordinator website, so that clients will be able to listen to the mixes and choose the DJ that suits them best.

Luis has been practicing nightly, and earlier this week, WE got started on his samples.  Luis and I both love music, and this was a fun project for us to work on together; but it was very time consuming.  We finished the 80's sample last night, and you may be surprised to hear that I'm not going to tell you what songs we chose.  Instead, for your listening pleasure, I'm gonna take you back to the day's of legwarmers and Pac Man fever; and share our 80's music mix. 
This morning we started downloading songs for Luis' 90's sample; and ya know, I'll be sharing that with you once it's been completed. The real task at hand, is something that we could use your help with. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it's time to play "Name The DJ..." Luis has the skills, and the tunes; but what he doesn't have is a DJ name. Last night he used his Facebook status as a platform to request suggestions; and although some of the responses have been absolutely hysterically, none of them are anything that he can use. So put your thinking caps on. We need to find Luis a GREAT, DJ name and we'd love to hear from you. Please send us your original suggestions by commenting right here or on Facebook.
Till next time...

Friday, March 25, 2011

(43-241) The Best Week Of "American Idol" EVER!

In my opinion, this has been the best week of "American Idol," EVER!   If you didn't have the pleasure of seeing it, let me tell you that you missed two extraordinary nights of entertainment.   Even if you've never watched an episode of "Idol" before, or you lost interest by season four; I highly recommend that you give "Idol" a(nother) chance, because this season is a whole new ball game.

When I wrote "Half Way There," I mentioned how much I loved the chemistry between Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler.  But I have to say that it's not JUST their rapport that makes this season of "Idol" superior.  It's also how they share their expertise in a straight forward, yet kind manner; which is a far cry from how Simon did it.   They don't demean and degrade the contestants under the guise of giving them constructive criticism.  You can tell that they sincerely care about the competitors and that they want to help them all further their careers.  At the same time, they make it very clear that it's a priority to provide the audience with phenomenal performances.

I can honestly say that what I liked best about "Idol" this week, were the surprises.   I was so moved when Steven Tyler went up onto the stage to give Jacob Lusk a hug and a kiss after his stellar rendition of my FAVORITE, Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell song; "You're All I Need To Get By."   I'm just loving me some Steven Tyler; but I'll get to that a little later.

Although I think that James Durbin is a very talented vocalist, none of his previous performances had been amongst my favorites; which is why it was such a delicious treat to hear James sing ND dance, to Stevie Wonder's "Living For The City."  I''m providing the link for this one, so that you can watch James in action.  

Now speaking of Stevie Wonder.  In years gone by, we had to wait until the finale to see guest stars perform WITH the contestants.  But during Thursday night's results show, not only did Stevie Wonder sing with the top 11; but he also sang "Happy Birthday to Ya," as a special  surprise to Steven Tyler, while they presented him with a birthday cake, and lavished him with hugs.  As soon as Stevie emerged on the stage, it was apparent from the expression on all three judges faces, that his appearance was entirely unexpected; and thoroughly appreciated.  It was a touching, encounter in every which way; and it made me feel good to watch it.

While on the subjects of the results show and feeling good; I have to mention the laugh that I got from Skeletor's, I mean Marc Anthony's, utter arrogance and obliviousness.  Now if by some chance you don't know - Marc Anthony is a singer, and he's got the good fortune to be married to Jennifer Lopez.  Well, on the results show they aired a segment in which they explained that Marc Anthony had been asked to work with the contestants, as many of them had been having problems with their pitch during the performance shows.   In his defense, I will absolutely admit, that it appeared as though his assistance was very valuable; BUT what I found so amusing was the way that he made it seem like he was the ONLY person who could help them; because he was such a BIG star.  If Roseanne Roseannadanna would have been watching, I think she would have said something like "So I said hey, Marc Anthony; get a clue!   The only reason that "American Idol" asked YOU to come to help  was because you're J-Lo's husband; and you were available.  Do you REALLY think that if Jennifer wasn't on the show, that the producers would be like, HEY, we know who to call;  we need Marc Anthony, because only HE can solve the contestants pitch problems.  Come on Marc, you're making me sick!"   But sick from laughing.  I really do enjoy some of his songs; I just prefer to listen to them with my eyes closed.

I could go on and on.  You KNOW I could.  About anything really;  BUT, truly about all of the great moments from this weeks "A I."  I'm a big (yes) HUGE Motown fan; so this week's theme made me very happy.   I was grooving to the beat and singing right along, when I heard "Heatwave," "Signed, Sealed, delivered," and  "You Really Got A Hold On me."  The songs, coupled with all of the surprises that I've mentioned, made for an awesome week of "Idol;" but one of the BEST moments ever, was when the judges had Ryan stop Casey Abrams from singing for his life; because they didn't need to hear the whole song to know that he deserved to be saved.  Casey was undeniably astonished when the judges decided not to send him home, despite America's vote.  They told him that they knew how talented he was and that they thought that he warranted another chance; however, they cautioned him to be careful of what Steven Tyler called his "crazy ass ego."  

How do I love Steven Tyler?  Let me count the ways...
I love his balls to the wall attitude, I love his energy, I love his candor, I love his compassion, I love his wit, I love his originality, I love his swagger, I love his expressions, I love his wardrobe, and most of all, I LOVE that he is a judge on "American Idol."  It is obvious that all of the contestants just adore, respect and admire him; and that the audience feels the same.  I'm so glad that Steven Tyler is giving America the opportunity to get to know him;  because I think that he brings out the best in EVERYONE.  Happy birthday Mr. Tyler!!
Till next time...

Thursday, March 24, 2011

(43-240) New York Bound

I was so excited to tell you about starting my new job the other day; that I didn't share my other, equally exciting news.  If you've been joining me on "The Bumpy Ride" for a while, then you may recall that the ball got rolling on my New York trip after I had posted that my cousin Jackie and I wanted to go to Las Vegas to see "Mamma Mia."  Shortly after making this announcement, I came to find out that "Mamma Mia" was no longer playing in Las Vegas; and my wonderful friend Rachel S, suggested that I could come to New York to see it since it's still playing there.

After Rachel put the bug in my ear, I knew that I was New York bound.  I asked my daughter Lyndzi and my cousin Jackie, to join me on this adventure, so that we could celebrate my 44th birthday.  I knew that our trip wouldn't be complete without seeing "Mamma Mia" on Broadway, and onTuesday, thanks to my amazing friends Big V and Rachel S, our tickets were purchased for the Sat. July 30th matinee.  WOOHOO!!!  Obtaining those tickets was like watching poetry in motion.  There were numerous emails that were exchanged very quickly, between Big V, Rachel and I; as Big V raced against the clock to purchase discounted tickets with great seats.  Via text, I was able to get in touch with all of my friends who were interested in tickets and in no time at all; Big V had sealed the deal. I can't believe it!!  If anyone would have told me a couple of months ago, that I'd be going to New York this summer, and going to see "Mamma Mia,"  on Broadway, I never would have believed it.  But now, in just 127 days, I'll be there.  God willing.

Everything about our trip is shaping up very nicely; and I really can't wait to go.  I find it very interesting that I didn't know how badly I wanted to visit New York, until I started planning everything.  I guess that's just part of self preservation.  Since I knew that my family didn't have the time or the money to make a trip to New York, I never thought about doing so. I didn't allow myself to want something that I thought I couldn't have.  But as soon as the opportunity presented itself; I realized how important it really is to me.

Planning this trip has given me the opportunity to reconnect with friends that I haven't seen in far too long.  I feel extraordinarily blessed, that so many of my friends want to spend time with me; and and I can't wait to hug each and every one of them.

Time is just flying by now, and I feel like I'm in the homestretch.  My future is waiting for me right at the finish line; and I can't think of a better way to move forward, than to go back to where I began.
Till next time...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

(43-239) Two Standouts

Season twelve of "Dancing With The Stars" began this past Monday; but I didn't get to watch it until today.  As usual there were some contestants that I could do without; but there were two standouts that I thoroughly enjoyed; and will be looking forward to watching week after week.

My first fave came as a big surprise to me.  It's none other than the "Karate Kid" himself; Ralph Macchio.  Ralph is paired up with Karina Smirnoff.  I've had mixed feelings about Karina during past seasons; but I must say that I like her a lot more, now that she's no longer engaged to Maksim  Chmerkovskiy.

My second fave is Kirstie Alley; and I swear that it's not ONLY because she's partnered by  Maksim Chmerkovskiy.  Now before I go on and tell you why I am am pulling for Ralph and Kirstie; I think that it's only fair to acknowledge my "slight" obsession with Maks.
If this isn't your first time at this rodeo, then you probably know that "DWTS" is one of my very, favorite shows; and that the thing that I like best about it, is Maksim Chmerkovskiy!  Maks has been mentioned countless times on "The Bumpy Ride;" so much so, that there's been more than one occasion where I've given my, "this is not becoming an all Maks blog disclaimer."  Some of you may even recall  "The Queen's Big Coup," where I shared the story of how I had come to meet, hug and have my picture taken with the drop dead gorgeous Maks.
Now even thought I absolutely hate how heavy I was in this picture; I'm going to share it again for those of you who've never seen it before; and for others who might like to see it again.     

U turn ahead:  Other than his hairdo, I found  Ralph's performance to be impeccable.  He had moves, he was light on his feet; and he was very entertaining.  I was pleasantly surprised to say the least; and I think he was well deserving of the 24 out of 30 points that he received for his performance of the Fox trot.  Following Ralph with 23 points, was my girl, Kirstie Alley.  First let me say, that for a 60 year old woman, I think that she looks amazing.  She's beautiful, sexy and vivacious; and I think that it takes a great deal of courage for her to go on a dance show when she is so often criticized and harassed about her weight.  Watching Kirstie, I definitely got the impression that she is comfortable in her own skin; and that she knows who she is, for better or for worse.  Her personality was infectious.  She's quirky, and funny, but most of all, she seems REAL, and I admire that; A LOT!   I thought that Kirstie had more rhythm than any of the other female celebrities and she had marvelous chemistry with Maks. 

Some might wonder "How difficult could it be to have chemistry with Maks?"  But I have to tell you that as much as I desire; I mean like him; I have gotten the impression in the past that he was not a fan of "big girls."  Seeing Maks interact and embrace Kirstie for who she is,  has given me hope that when Observational Humorist, Paige Ramos, gets the opportunity to dance the Samba with her partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy; he'll bring it, just like he would if he were dancing with Twiggy. But for now, I'll just have to be content to live vicariously through the effervescent, Kirstie Allie.
Till next time...

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

(43-238) Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained

In  "Walk The Walk," I told you that I'd asked my boss if I could take on some additional work hours with his new, reunion coordinating company; and I'm thrilled to tell you that I started my new job today, and I LOVED it! 

Although I typically work at home Monday through Wednesday; I went into my office today, so that I could meet with my boss and begin my new position.  Within minutes of arriving, my boss told me that he had something for me to do; but I informed him that I felt there was something that I needed to get done first.  I explained that I'd been acquainting myself with his website; and I'd found several typos, as well as many changes that needed to be made.  I asked it I could edit his website and he told me to have it.  I spent the better part of my day re-writing the text on the website; and you have to know that I was in my glory.

Once I completed the website; I met with my other boss to discuss the changes to my schedule.  I explained that I'd been volunteering in my daughter's classes on Friday mornings and that I'd like to continue doing so through the end of the school year.  I asked if it would be possible for me to work for only four hours on Fridays and make up the additional hours on other days; and my boss agreed.  I offered to submit a schedule proposal and he welcomed me to do so.  By the end of the day, both of my bosses had approved the exact schedule that I'd requested and I was extremely pleased with myself (and them.)  Thank goodness I had the courage to ask for what I wanted.  Not only will I be able to work at both jobs and continue volunteering at school; but I'll also still have date day with Luis.  It's a total win, win situation for me and my family.  YAY!

As soon as my schedule was secured, I got back to work on my reunion assignment. I was so busy that my day flew by; and I didn't even take a lunch break.  What a great job!  Just one day of attempting something new and I feel rejuvenated.  I am so excited to finally be doing work that suits me and my skills so well.

When I turned 43, I said that I was going to make the most of this year.  I proclaimed that I was going to do things that made me happy; and try to make positive changes that would better my life.  Asking for this new job, has propelled me on my way to becoming my authentic self.  I am going to be A person who is doing things that I'm meant to be doing, in order to feel fulfilled and reach my full potential.  What a feeling! 

Because I'm so interested in promoting (say it with me,) "The GREATER Good," I want to remind you that none of us ever know how many days we're going to be given; so it's never too soon to start living the life that you want.  I highly recommend taking a step or making a change that will further your own success; whether it be personal or professional.  Remember, nothing ventured, nothing gained.  Be honest with yourself and believe that you know what's best for you and that you deserve it. 
Till next time...
Queen of EVERYTHING                               

Monday, March 21, 2011

(43-237) "Reel Life Wisdom"

 When I first got involved with Facebook; I used to post a status everyday.  Sometimes several times a day.  But then I became one of those people who only posted a status when I had something worthwhile or exciting to share; and sometimes I had to go looking for it.  Over the past few months, I've gained some valuable perspective from quotes that I've discovered; while looking for something meaningful to post as my Facebook status, and I even managed to parlay some of the quotes into blogs; as many of you know.  So yesterday, I again went in search of some inspiration.  I didn't really have a specific topic in mind; when I came across "Reel Life Wisdom," The movie quote directory  but it's proven to be an amusing and useful find.

The Reel Life Wisdom site has a multitude of categories to chose quotes from.  They break it down first by SELF, LIFE, LOVE & RANDOM BITS OF WISDOM.  THEN, they disseminate the quotes further, based on additional themes. For instance, under SELF, you may find quotes about Identity vs. Image, Perspective, Purpose, Hope and character; just to name a few.  For LIFE: Choice vs. Destiny, Freedom, Decision making, Achievement and Change.  Under the heading of LOVE you could find quotes about Men, Women, Feelings, Friends, and Sex, amongst others.  And RANDOM BITS OF WISDOM includes such subjects as Adversity, Reality and Truth, Respect, Responsibility, and Regret.  You'll have to check this site out for yourself; because the topics that I've listed are truly, only the tip of the iceberg.  They even offer teacher/parent tools so that movie quotes may be used to generate meaningful conversations with kids about self-management.

When I chose to write about "Reel Life Wisdom,"  I decided that I'd pick a topic and  share some of  the quotes that made an impact on me.  So, in the interest of,  (say it with me,) "The GREATER Good;" it should come as no surprise, that I've selected movie quotes about  MEANINGFUL LIVING...

“If you listen real close, you can hear them whisper their legacy to you. Go on, lean in. Listen, you hear it? Carpe diem, seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary.”
"Dead Poets Society" 1989

“Life is too short to be wondering, ‘What if?’” 

 "Paper Heart"  2009

“Take part. Contribute. Be interested in everything and everybody.”
"Now Voyager"  1942

“The effort must be total for the results to be meaningful.”
"Wit"  2001

“If you’re not excited by it, why do you do it?” 
 "Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian"   2009

For what it’s worth, it’s never too late to be whoever you want to be."
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"  2008

"I don’t want to survive, I want to live!"
"WALL-E"  2008

Till next time...

Sunday, March 20, 2011

(43-236) You Know You Have A Problem When...#10

You know you have a problem when you go from Kohl's to Kohl's to find a flawless     necklace, to exchange for the damaged one that you accidentally purchased.  It's been a while since I've shared one of my little compulsions with you; and this one my friends is a doozy.  Before I regale you with my ridiculous obsession; let me assure you that I INDEED know, that what I'm about to share with you is NOT normal; and yet for some unexplainable reason,  I have no hesitation about letting you know how far my dysfunction goes.

On several occasions I've mentioned how much I love Kohl's.  The reasons why are many; but just to name two, I think they have the best sales EVER, and their return policy can't be beat.  So, last Sunday I went to Kohl's to pay my bill.  Yes, I'm well aware that you can mail your payment or even pay online; but I always like to stop in to pay; ESPECIALLY when I've got a 30% off coupon at my disposal.  Before paying my bill, I went directly to the accessories area so that I could peruse the jewelry.  I didn't find anything that I HAD to have, until I wandered over to the Candies display, and there I found a number of stunning necklaces. 
I chose a silver, multi strand, with orange, coral, and pearl beads and a lace / tulle flower.  The necklace was  $24 on sale for $11.60 and I received an additional 30% off, so I purchased it for a mere $11.91 and I was delighted.

I decided to wear my new treasure that evening, but when I went to put it on, I found that one of the pearl beads was not perfectly round like it should be.  Instead it looked like an unpopped kernel of popcorn.  Although I hadn't noticed it before buying it; and others probably wouldn't see it either; I still wanted to exchange it for one that was in better condition.

When I need to make an exchange or return, I like to take care of it promptly because it just kinda niggles at me knowing that I have something to resolve.  And yes, I'm well aware that this is definitely the first part of this problem.  Anyway, I didn't want to exchange the necklace at the location where I'd purchased it, because I knew that they only had two others and they were kinda tangled up; so Kelsie and I went to a Kohl's that was a little further away from our home.  Interestingly enough, this Kohl's also had 2 of my necklace; but neither looked as nice as the one that I was going to exchange.   I know that sounds nutty; but neither was as shiny as the one that I purchased and I decided that my defective necklace was still better than the alternatives; so I kept mine.  Because Kelsie knows me so well; this didn't seem to phase her.  I told her that I'd go to another Kohl's the next day, but she suggested that we go back to the one where I'd originally bought mine, because she wanted to spend a little more time with me.  How could I resist?
We went to our second Kohl's of the evening.  They still had the two necklaces, and they weren't tangled up anymore; but one was dull, just like the first of this night's stores; and the other's flower wasn't nearly as nice as mine; so again I decided to pass.  I told Kelsie that there was a Kohl's not far from where we were going to camp on Thursday, so I could check that one over the weekend.

Last night I met Michelle M at Kohl's #3, in the hopes of exchanging my necklace.  This store also had TWO for sale, but one was broken; and the other's flower wasn't as nice.  I now dragged Michelle into my compulsion by showing her my necklace and comparing it to the one in the store.  Michelle said that she would keep mine because even though the bead was imperfect; my flower was much nicer and people would notice that before they would, my one faulty bead.  And so I returned home yet again with my original necklace.

Well as luck would have it; Kohl's emailed me a $10 coupon for any purchase of $10 or more; and of course it was only good through today; so my friend, Tina, Lyndzi, Kelsie and  I, went to yet another Kohl's.  This Kohl's also had two of my necklace for sale; and with some hesitation (I know, I know;) I finally exchanged my necklace for one of the ones that they had.  Whew!

The first step is admitting that you have a problem; and you certainly don't hear me denying it.  Sadly, my savings have probably gone out the window with all of the gas that I've used driving from Kohl's to Kohl's trying to find the PERFECT replacement for my new necklace; but what can I say...  This isn't the first time that my quest for perfection has gotten the better of me; and I have a feeling that it won't be the last.
Till next time...

Saturday, March 19, 2011

(43-235) The Verdict Is In...

Well, it's official.  On Friday I wrote "Pros & Cons Of Camping," and I told you that I still wasn't sure if camping was worth all of the prep and hard work that's involved.  But, the verdict is in; and after spending a night camping in the White Tank Mountains, I can now say without a doubt; that for me, it definitely IS worth it.

Now let's take a U turn.  If you've read "Pros & Cons Of Camping," then you know that we had planned on camping at Lake Pleasant this past Thursday night, but since they were full; we went up to the White Tank Mountains instead.  We arrived at nightfall and the camp host scared my kids out of staying there when he mentioned the Diamond Head Rattle snakes that were abundant in the area.  Our friend Jenny and her kids didn't scare as easily; and they decided to stay.  I promised that we'd come back out the next day; AT LEAST for the day; and I had every intention of keeping my word.

We got a very slow start on Friday; and around 230 we headed out to the White Tanks with all of our camping gear packed; in case we decided to stay.  We arrived around 3pm but Jenny and her kids were no where to be found.  We spoke to the camp host; (the same one who'd frightened my kids the night before;) and he was in a much more helpful mood.  We asked him how to get to the waterfall trail playground; because we thought that our friends might be there.  He gave us directions and told us that there were quite a few campsites available today; one right next to Jenny's even; in case we wanted to stay.

We talked about it for a minute and decided to pay the $17 fee to stay the night.  We reasoned that by paying now, we could reserve the spot next to Jenny's;  JUST IN CASE we decided to stay.  We found the waterfall trail playground; but our friends weren't there.  We were unable to contact them by phone; so once again we discussed the situation.  Our kids all agreed that everything looked much better in the daylight,  so we decided that we should set up our camp and spend the night.

Luis and I put up our tent.  YES, you read that right.  Luis AND I, put up our tent; in what seemed like no time at all.  We unloaded our supplies while the kids went to the playground that was within eye shot from our campsite; and we enjoyed being outdoors.  YES, WE enjoyed being outdoors.  Once our camp was set up, I had to go into town to buy some pillows; because we had forgotten to put ours back in the car before we left home.  As I was driving down the mountain, I saw Jenny driving back up; and shortly thereafter I saw her husband, David driving up as well.

It only took me about 15 minutes to get to Sam's Club.  I bought a bunch of new pillows and drove back up to camp.  By the time I got there, Luis had the grill going and burgers cooking.  He had a pot up to boil water for corn on the cob; and we were finally able to spend some time relaxing with our friends. 

It didn't take me long at all; to acknowledge to myself that all of the prep that's involved in camping, really is worth it for me.  I've never been what I or anyone else for that matter, would call an outdoors woman; but I really do like the time that I spend camping with my family and friends.   The view from our campsite was unlike any other that we've had before, because we could see all of the city lights; and it was beautiful.  We sat around the fire, while the kids played Telephone; and made Smores and it was great  to breathe the fresh air.

We went to bed around 1030, and discovered that our Aerobed had lost some air.  Luis re-inflated it; and we thought the problem was resolved; until around 2am when I got back from taking Hershey for a walk; only to discover that our bed had once again lost a considerable amount of air.  Luis deduced that there must be a small hole; and we had no choice but to rough it with the bed as it was.  By morning my butt was sunk to the ground; but it was still as wonderful as ever to wake up in my tent; and feel the cool breeze.

Just in case you're really taken aback by this post; let me assure you that it wasn't written by a guest blogger.  Believe it or not,  it's all me.  The me that I've become over the past 43 years.  The me who has grown to appreciate the comfort and the solitude that being out doors can offer.  The me who can't wait to go camping again.
Till next time...

Friday, March 18, 2011

(43-234) The Truth About Ladybugs

I am a fan of ladybugs.  Although I shudder at the sight of an ant; and I detest insects in general, whenever I see a ladybug ~ I smile.  I find there to be something very sweet and hopeful about ladybugs which may be why I often refer to my daughters as "ladybugs," instead of just saying ladies.
I think they're cute, and cheery; just like my girls.  In fact, my friend Dawn has heard me refer to Lyndzi and Kelsie as "ladybugs" a number of times; and as part of my birthday present last year, she chose a little ladybug charm for the Brighton key chain that she gave me.

One day when we were in California visiting my cousin, Jackie; we went to a beach and saw a remarkable number of ladybugs there.  Jackie had made a comment about the male vs female ladybug; and as embarrassed as I am to admit it; I honestly NEVER thought about there being a male ladybug.  It took me all of 2 seconds to realize that ladybugs wouldn't be able to reproduce if their were no males; so I realized that she was absolutely right; and that I was pretty much a moron.  Shortly thereafter, I heard somewhere that ladybugs are Hermaphrodites; and I felt slightly better about my misconception.

So, yesterday I was driving and a ladybug landed on my windshield, and I remembered this whole scenario about Jackie and the ladybugs at the beach; and I decided that's what I would blog about.   Given everything that happened with our camping fiasco yesterday I knew that I had to put the ladybugs on hold; BUT, I've now researched it (yes, researched;) and the truth about ladybugs is, they are NOT Hermaphrodites.  There are indeed both male and female ladybugs; although they're insects; and not true bugs according to scientists.  Another myth about ladybugs is that you can tell their age by the number of spots that they have... not so.

Now if this was another kinda blog; I could go on and on about the Etymology, Biology, Habitat and life cycle of the ladybug; but y'all know I have NO interest in doing that; and I think it's safe to assume that you don't read "The Bumpy Ride" for that kinda information.

I'm just keepin it light and simple today.  So ladybugs and gentlemen; 
Till next time...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

(43-233) Pros & Cons Of Camping

A couple of weeks ago, my friend, Jenny M, asked me if I'd like to take the kids camping at Lake Pleasant for a couple of days during Spring break.  I thought that sounded like a good idea; until it became more apparent to me that she meant SHE and I take the kids camping.  As in, no husbands; and I jovially reminded her that this was ME she was talking to.  As much as I enjoy camping.  Yes, OLD friends; you read that right.  I said as much as I ENJOY camping; and yes I mean REAL camping with a tent; but admittedly, I wouldn't go without my Aerobed; nor would I go to a campsite that doesn't have flush toilets.  But the fact that I sleep in a tent; and spend time outdoors; now that's gotta count for some camping credits; but I digress.

Jenny told me that Luis was welcome to join us; but David had to work on Friday.  I didn't think that Luis would mind camping with just the women and kids; and sure enough, I was right.  Luis happily agreed to go; and for some reason that I still don't understand; I didn't make the big  deal planning, shopping and packing for this trip, that I usually do; but, I can tell you that this was a mistake.  Yup, a big mistake; (say it with me,) HUGE mistake; because I was rushing my kishkas out; (Kishkas ~ guts for anyone unfamiliar with that Yiddish term;) and I was exhausted by the time we left for camping. 

Now let's take a U turn.  While the kids and I were having lunch today, Jenny left me a message, saying that she had been in Wal-mart and it seemed that a lot of people were buying camping equipment; and that perhaps we should consider what we would do if there were no spots available for camping at Lake Pleasant, since it's a first come, first served camp site and not one that takes reservations.  I suggested that we try Lake Pleasant first and if they didn't have room we could go to the White Tank  mountains; and Jenny agreed.   I tried to call Lake Pleasant to see if someone could tell me if there was still availability; but I had to leave a message.  I then called the White Tanks and a lovely woman, checked and told me that there was still plenty of room.

I shared this info with Jenny; and we agreed to take a chance and try Lake Pleasant.  As I was trying to pack up our clothes, our  food supplies, our cooking utensils, our hygiene products and medications AND make potato salad; I found myself thinking yet again, "Is this really worth it?"  Yes all of the doubts that I'd expressed about camping in, "To Camp Or Not To Camp..." just resurfaced.

Jenny called and said that she would be on her way to the lake by 5pm.  I told her that I needed at least another half hour to get ready; because in between all of the things that I'd been working on; I spent over 40 minutes at the Orthodontist with Nicky.  Jenny and I agreed that she'd call me if there were no spots available at the lake; and if there were; she'd find two.  Just before 6pm we finally turned off of our street.  We'd only gone back to our house twice since pulling out of the driveway; because of forgetting everything from Hershey's food; to a can opener.  A knife, a cutting board and Kelsie's allergy medicine.  We finally hopped on the highway, destination rest and relaxation; and within seconds of getting off our first exit; Jenny called to let us know there was no room at the Inn.

We immediately put plan B in action and headed towards the White Tank mountains.  I was slightly apprehensive about the White Tanks, because with all of my rushing around, I still had to write and publish my blog; and since I'd never been there before and I had no idea how far the nearest McDonald's or Starbucks was; and I would need to go to one for Internet access.   It didn't take us very long to get to the White Tanks; and just as we arrived at the entrance; Jenny pulled up right behind us.  I asked the kindly gentlemen that greeted us if there was any availability and he told me that he thought they had two spots left.  I told him that we in fact needed two spots and he contacted the park host to confirm.

The park host told him to send us up and he'd show us the spot.  We were told to drive about three miles; and as we stopped to use the restroom; we saw a young deer.  We continued on our journey and met the less than charming, park host; who advised us that he'd had a very long day and worked very hard.  He told us that he had two spots left in the trailer parking area; but he felt that he should wait to see if a trailer came in within the next 55 minutes; before giving them to us.  He seemed very reluctant to permit us to stay in the trailer area; even though it was well within the rules; and took us to a restricted area, where he said we'd be welcome.  The sun was setting, and the scenery was beautiful but it was his over enthusiastic warning about snakes, that sent my kids into a tailspin.  The host said that there were a lot of Diamond head rattle snakes there; and I must admit, that scared the bejeezus outta me.  This is when I started weighing some of the pros and cons of camping.  Hmm, Con - I rushed around like a loon trying to pack up.  Con - the work that it takes to load, unload and set up camp; not to mention breaking it down too. Con - having to put up our tent in the dark.  Con - SNAKES.  Pro - when not unpacking, setting up or breaking down; camping is relaxing.  Pro - the peace and quiet. Pro - the cool breeze.  Con - three crying children, who are afraid to stay at this campground because the camp host has scared the crap outta them with his vigorous, warning about the snakes.

At this point; I'm still not willing to make a final determination about camping being worth it.  But, I can tell you that after all of our hard work and preparation; we decided not to camp tonight.  Nope; not gonna do it.  Not gonna have crying kids, miserable and afraid; so instead, we went home.  Jenny, brave soul that she is, decided to stay; and I apologized profusely.  I know that her kids were very disappointed that we weren't going to stay; but I said that we would come back the next day; and MAYBE we'd decide to stay then.  Jenny's kids  replied "OK, but come early!"  I KNOW that my kids feel badly about disappointing their friends; and I was very happy to see that they recognized and owned that; but I explained that if they were afraid and uncomfortable, they couldn't chose to stay just to avoid disappointing their friends.  My kids seemed very relieved to be heading home; even if it only was temporarily; and, I must admit, that for the sake of keeping my commitment to writing "The Bumpy Ride" daily this year; it was the best decision for me too... for now.

What can I say?  It's been A DAY!  I am utterly exhausted, and I barely made it through telling this story; but I am very interested  to see how things will look in the light of day tomorrow.   Perhaps the pros will outweigh the cons and we'll camp after all.
Till next time...