Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Putting my Write Foot Forward

You know, I always tend to jump into something head first and then doubt my ability to follow through.� This has always been especially true with writing.

I love to write fiction and I dabble in it on the side.� I love spinning a little tale, often for my own amusement or maybe for the eyes of one other person or even a message board of faceless writers.� My reviews have always held high praise but yet when it comes to the thought of writing a full length novel, I freeze up in terror.� I keep trying to squelch this particular fear but how do you decide for it to be okay to put your dream out there for someone else to judge?�

My weekend in DC has brought around an opportunity for a writing contest and yours truly signed up and is now doubting the wisdom of that decision.� A minimum of 10,000 words by January 15th.� A story of the Christian fiction nature.� Oh, I have the story in my�head; it is getting it down on paper that scares me and even more than that?� The first paragraph.

That first paragraph has to grab readers and I agonize over it even when just writing something anonymously.� First paragraphs are terrifying.� It's the selection of exactly where the story begins and sometimes beginnings can have several options, but it has to captivate the person who picks up the book in a bookstore and opens it.� The reader has to want to know what happens next in order to take that book to the register and purchase it.

Granted, I don't have to start writing with the first paragraph.� I can start somewhere in the middle, leaving only a rough draft of the beginning to go back to later when I am feeling more confident, but then it is looming over my head the whole time; that concern of will I come up with something good enough.�

And what if I pour my heart and soul into this only to fail?� That's the real fear, isn't it?� To find out that something you have always in your heart known you should be doing with your life is not good enough.� That you weren't as talented as you'd hoped.�

In doing a little blog reading today I found this quote:

"Of all the people I have ever known, those who have pursued their dreams and failed have lived a much more fulfilling life than those who have put their dreams on a shelf for fear of failure."� ~Author Unknown

Okay.� So it is time for me to step out and mean it this time.� How do I make that happen?� If anyone has been reading here for the last several years, I have declared before that I am going to write a book.� A few rough drafts later and it is tossed on a proverbial shelf collecting dust and nailed to the shelf by my fear.�

Does the fact that I can't let go of this dream mean that God is trying to guide me to it but I am resisting?� Sometimes I wish He were not so subtle.� There are times a brick upside the head would be too subtle for me.� I am a stubborn chick and at times that gift serves me well and at other times, not so much.

I have decided that maybe I need to approach this a different way, but for those of you here for a health blog, I should probably not go into my Christian-type plans.� Then again, do I have any need to be afraid of putting it out there?� Are you all going to judge me?� And isn't health about overall health?� About mind, body and spirit?�

So my spiritual health is going to be getting some work done very soon.� It's important and maybe in that work, I will be able to let go of my fears of failure with a sort of reckless abandon and stop allowing my fears to dictate what I do or don't do.� Maybe the work will allow me to listen with my heart and not with my mind, which is o so imperfect.� I need to find my ability to commit and to not doubt my abilities.

So what works for you?� What are you afraid of and how do you overcome it?


Monday, August 30, 2010

WOF and SB Day One

Sorry I was out of commission for a few days but our hotel wanted to charge 9.95 a day for internet, despite the fact that all other hotels in which I have stayed give you wireless.� But Women of Faith was fantastic.� Just a few highlights:

1.�Patsy Clairmont� and�Marilyn Meberg� are by far my favorites.� They are amazing speakers, making you both laugh and cry.�

2. Mandisa , American Idol cast off a few years ago is incredible.� The joy and honesty that pour from her are breathtaking.� She was with us last year in DC as well and spoke of how she had lost something in the vicinity of 60 pounds.� This year she confessed that she had been struggling with her weight once more and had gained back.� She spoke of how she labeled herself on Idol as "Fat Girl" and then last year as "Fat Girl in Remission" and now "Failure".� She spoke of trying to see herself as God sees her and wow, shouldn't we all do that?

3.�Andy Andrews.�� Look him up.� Wow, just wow.� I told Shell I would like to take him home in my pocket but he would not stay there and Shell remarked how it would be like trying to stuff a squirrel into my pocket.� Really high energy.� But I have his books on reserve at the library, my first one being "The Noticer" as he talked a little about the different kinds of people out there, comparing them to certain animals; very intriguing.� His most moving message: Never think that not every single thing we do matters to someone at some point in time.� He gave several historical examples of this that took my breath away.

4.�Steven Curtis Chapman� and his wife, Mary Beth. Many of you probably know that two years ago, the Chapman's teenage son was backing into their driveway when Maria, their five year old adopted daughter from China, got behind the car where he could not see her.� It was a tragic accident that took Maria's life.� Steven has written a few songs about Maria that have deeply touched me and this time it hit me that he would probably give anything in the world to have his little girl back with him and there are days I feel I cannot put enough distance between myself, The Genius and The Lawyer.� So, I am really trying...I am a work in progress and thankfully, God is patient with me.

5. Though I am not a big fan, Sandy Patti confessed to getting a lapband and has now lost 70 pounds.� When her doctor suggested it, Sandi told her she felt as if doing that would be cheating God.� The doctor told her that if she was diabetic, would it be cheating God to treat it?� Or if she had a heart problem, would treating it be cheating?� However what would be wrong would be how cheated her family would be if something happened to her.� I liked her a tiny bit at that moment.

I love the conference.� I love the music, the speakers, spending time with Shell, finding fun places to have dinner, all of it.� I am already booked for next year.

I started South Beach today and so far so good.� I got my run in first thing this morning and since then have eaten: two scrambled eggs with lowfat cheese and a piece of turkey bacon (I do so miss my oatmeal tho), a South Beach snack bar, a salad with lettuce, cukes, light cheese and avocado, two light string cheese thingies , and some chicken and parsnips for dinner.� I also fixed potatoes and stuffing but did not partake of either.�

This week it will only be The Genius and myself as The Brit leaves for Memphis tomorrow and The Lawyer leaves for outdoor school.� Both will be back on Friday and The Genius will have cross country after school every day till 6:00.� I am planning on getting some stuff done around here uninterrupted.

I love them but sometimes less is good so I can get stuff acccomplished.�

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Interesting Day

I am still keeping my fingers crossed for a really cool opportunity which may not happen but at least I am in the running for it. I should know something by Friday, so keep thinking good generic thoughts.

I went to see "Eat, Pray, Love" today and I have to say...wait for the DVD. The movie seats are not�comfortable enough to sit through this.� The cinematograpy was beautiful but it was a rather dragged out movie with little point, IMHO.� Honestly, I thought it would never end.

Now, today my brand new HTC Evo arrived and I am quickly falling in love with it.� We looked at iPhones as my Sprint contract was up and we talked to Sprint as well about their newest product.� The iPhone would have have been way more expensive for very little difference between it and the Evo; in fact, the differences are so insignificant I can't even remember what they are.� The payments and the insurance would have been way more than Sprint, so we stayed with them.� I am tickled to death.� I never saw myself as a gadget girl, but I am becoming more and more of one, probably due to our society and our need to be connected.� Anyway, this thing does everything, music, apps, camera, etc.� I am still working on being comfortable with everything but it is really easy...it's just a matter of learning where it is and how it works.

So now I am all packed and ready to roll tomorrow for DC.� Kids have doc appointments in the morning, then I may stop in at work for a bit if there is time and then we are off.� Very excited!�

Was really happy with myself that I got up to run this morning, less then 12 hours after kickboxing and tomorrow morning I plan to run again.� The weather is cooling down a bit at least with the humidity, so running has been rather pleasant.� I am still constantly amazed that I run at all, yet alone close to three miles.� Still makes me think that anything I put my mind to is possible and I love it.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Back To our Regularly Schedule Programming Already in Progress

So now that the California saga is all finished, let me bring you up to date on my life.

The Genius quit the soccer team and joined the cross country team.� YAY!� His buddy up the road is also doing cross country, so that makes The Genius very happy.� His asshat coach did not even acknowledge him when we went to the school to speak to Coach M and the cross country coach.� I think he needs bitchslapped and given half a chance, I would gladly do it as a service to high school boys everywhere.

I am starting South Beach on Monday.� I barely have a plan.� I know I will be having eggs and turkey bacon for breakfast and damn, that seems like a lot for a girl who can just manage to put away one bowl of oatmeal and a banana in the morning and is positively stuffed stupid afterward.� Lunch will be a wrap of some sort...meat, cheese, something.� Dinner, your guess is as good as mine.� I still have a few days to figure it out and The Brit will be away a few days next week so I can work things out peacefully without impacting anyone.� The kids don't give a rat's ass what they eat.

I have started fall cleaning.� Cleaned our bedroom today and gave the walk in closet its quarterly cleaning.� No more till next week but I have a list a mile long in my head.

I hate winter but I miss my hoodies.� I actually wore one today as the weather was icky and it was chilly inside.�

I have a lunch date tomorrow with Kirk, Brent and Pook and we are going to see "Eat, Pray, Love" and I am very excited.� I love it when I have people to see a chick flick with as I live with all straight men. I have no issue going to the movies alone and have done it many times before but it is somewhat of a treat to have company.

Then on Thursday, Shelley and I are off for DC and the conference, so you may or may not have blog updates, but I will probably bring my laptop so it could happen.

I need to get up and run the next two mornings...ugh.� Not ugh on the running but ugh on the 5:30 thing. But it is my way of making certain my workout happens.

What are you willing to do to make sure you fit daily exercise into your lives?

Monday, August 23, 2010

California: Final Installment

Our final full day in California, we were up early, fed the dogs, grabbed breakfast and were out the door on our way to our half day fishing trip.� We didn't catch much, a few mackerel and The Genius caught a poisonous fish that had to be thrown back into the ocean.�

Many of you know I am now a die hard "Criminal Minds" fan and an even bigger fan of Derick Morgan from the show.� There was a deck hand on our boat that reminded me of him (though the real deal is way hotter) and gave me a little eye candy.� Jimnotmike has no idea who Morgan is, so for him, here is the real deal:

I mean, seriously...total hottness.

Now, I hate this picture of me, but The Brit was trying to get me and Morgan wannabe in a shot together:

Now, there is no doubt in my mind that Jimnotmike will not find either of them attractive, as that would be agreeing with me, but I am fine with that.� I can handle my celebrity crushes all by myself, thankyouverymuch.

After our boating trip, we did a little light shopping for last minute things to take home and we saw a guy we had seen earlier in the trip, hand feeding a squirrel...total California coolness:

We went to dinner at a very posh restaurant where I had nothing healthy and everything yummy.� Seafood mac and cheese?� I mean it doesn't get much better than that.

The Lawyer and The Genius at dinner.� I think they would flourish as California kids.

After dinner we watched a beautiful sunset:

So that was pretty much it.� The next morning at buttearly 'o clock, we were on our way to the airport.

So California, here's to you.

You got into my veins 31 years ago and are destined to remain there.� You will always be home where states are concerned and maybe one day I will reside with you again.� In the meantime, thank you to all my family and my oldest friends in the world for taking me in again, even if for a short time.� I love you all and miss you more than you know.�

California, I will see you in December and am already counting the days.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Road is Still Closed

Yeah, I was going to finish the vacay series today but there are other things going on that need to be said.

The Genius played soccer for his high school last year and went out for it again this year.� They started on Monday and on Tuesday he was expressing concern about whether or not he made the team.� Tuesday evening after practice, he told me he made the team and that the coach was going to call me, but he did not know what about.�� Soooo...

No call from coach on Tuesday.� Wednesday practice was rained out and by 7:00 that night there was still no call.� I asked The Genius again if he made the team and he said yes so we went out to purchase new soccer shoes as he had outgrown last year's shoes.

Fast forward to Thursday night at 9:37 PM when my phone rings and I recognize the name as the coach's on the caller ID.� Here is the conversation I had last night:

C: I noticed The Genius had on shoes today at practice.� Maybe you can take those back since he only wore them once. (Yes, this was the START of the conversation).� I want to ask The Genius and another boy to be team managers.

M: I don't think Dick's will take them back as he wore them today...what does being a team manager involve?

C: Well, he would be responsible for equipment.� I can't guarantee he would get much playing time.

M: He wants to play.� He wants to be part of the team.

C: He would be part of the team.

M: He would be a gopher.

C: I wouldn't call it that...

M: If he is running around after balls that is what he is.� Have you discussed this with him?

C: No I wanted to run it by you first.

M: He wants to play.

C: I'll talk to him tomorrow and get a feel for where he stands.

I could tell when we hung up he was annoyed with me, but WTF??� I have more issues with this conversation than I know where to begin.� First off, the way it started. Shoes?� Really?� Add to this that we had a $55 bill for a sport's fee to pay and had just found out the coach wants another $45 for jerseys....so my son can carry around a bag 'o balls.� Then the guy had led The Genius to believe that he had made the team...but saying he could try to take back his shoes is saying "Hey, he isn't even going to get practice time!" right?�

I was still seething�when I called the Athletics Director and told him the situation.� He was going to talk to the coach and then call me back but instead he dropped it in another coaches lap with no real explanation.� So Coach M. called me back and I re-explained it all.

Essentially what happened was that twenty-something kids came out for JV and The Genius and one other boy did not have the skill set as the rest of the players (I will give my opinion on that in a moment) so instead of cutting these two kids, the coach wanted to offer them these "Team manager" things.� Coach M was not happy at all with the way The Genius' coach handled the situation.� He should have spoken to The Genius first and not me.� He should have not led the kid to think he had made the team and if he hadn't made the team he should have spoken to the kid at the absolute latest, yesterday, before he wore the stupid shoes.� Asshat coach.�

I told Coach M. that The Genius had enough problems in school without the rest of the soccer team knowing he was sitting on the bench taking stats because he wasn't good enough to make the team.� I told him the kid had enough problems in the cafeteria.�

Then I took Coach M off subject and inquired on Cross Country.� I have been trying to talk The Genius into running.� Our youth group (one of whom is a former high school runner) has been trying to talk him into running.� The kid has the body of runner.� Coach M jumped on that explaining that the cross country team had a new coach this year and she was in desperate need of male runners.� He also said he had seen The Genius run on the field and the kid could run.� So, today, Coach M is going to speak to The Genius, have Coach Asshat speak to The Genius and then Coach M will introduce The Genius to the cross country coach and we will all hope for the best.

The Genius has always been a lot afraid of a lot of things.� Balls would be one of them.� In watching a few games last season, he just has a lot fear of really getting in there, risking injury to get control of the ball. He has fear of playing football with friends.� He is convinced he sucks in basketball.� But he likes being part of a team.� As a runner, a cross country runner,�it is just him out there; no other kids trying to wrestle with him for anything.� Even racing, you pass each other, you don't try to tackle each other to get what you want.

I am hoping this plays out well, despite how lousy it has played out thus far.� I told Coach M that I had been trying to get The Genius to run, but well, I am his mother.� He understood.� I told him with some encouragement from them, maybe he would do it.

I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Thursday 13: Randomness

1. I had am amazing run this morning.� Ran the majority of the three miles and felt fabulous.� It is these kinds of mornings that remind me of why I love running.�

2. I have a lunch date tomorrow with Kirk.� I miss lunch dates with friends during the summer and am glad to have them back.

3. I am going to be taking a refresher swim class at the YMCA in September and am really excited about it.� I really think I would enjoy swimming more if I were a stronger swimmer.� So once they start, I will have four weeks of a double dose of Tuesday workouts.� Kickboxing from 6-7 but I will skip the floor work for a few weeks in order to start my swim class at 7:00.

4. The Brit and I will celebrate our 12th anniversary on Saturday and we are finally going to LJ's...I think.� Either that or the Aqua 103...just looked at both menus and am leaning toward the latter.

5.� My entire body aches.� I had a massive Back to School, Back to the Y workout yesterday, ran this morning and then came home and worked outside for three hours.� I am big time tired.

6.� We have�a pool and pizza party on Sunday with the youth group and Brent will be here for it.� That makes me happy.

7. I am sitting here writing this and watching "Touched by an Angel" and loving it.� I am not ashamed.

8. Next weekend is one of my favorite weekends of the year.� It is a complete girl's weekend.� Not a girl's lunch or a girl's day, but a weekend.� It is the Women of Faith conference and Shelley is going with me again this year.� I cannot wait.� I love having three days of just being a chick.

9. As much as I hate the fact that winter is right around the corner, I do love this time of year and all the chores that go with it.� I enjoy yard work and fall cleaning inside; getting things all ready for winter.� Now, if I only we could skip from Fall to Spring, life would be grand.

10. I still need three more things and am too tired to think.

11.� I was cleaning litter boxes tonight and realized that one of them had not been used.� It must have been Jasmine's.

12. My cell phone has become retarded.� It turns itself off whenever it wants to and is totally annoying.

13. I may have to wait until after cantaloup season to South Beach as I can't have them for those two weeks and the season is almost over.� It's all about priorities!


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Wednesday, August 18, 2010


I will probably complete the California adventure on Friday as there is just one more installment and I need to be on my desktop home computer to do it for photo purposes.� Today, I just want to generally update on life and tomorrow I would like to get back to Thursday 13.�

Despite all the bad news on vacation, life is rolling along fairly well.� I gained between 8-10 pounds on vacation and have taken it back off with regular exercise, so I am back at my plateau number again, which I am planning to pass soon.� I am getting my ducks in a row... and not this duck, though he has been my chuckle for the day:

Anyway, my ducks are lining up to start Phase One of South Beach very soon.� I am picking up the cookbook from the library today in order to do this in such a way it does not impact the rest of the family negatively and result in�complaints.�

I am currently running and working out to support my carb addiction and I need to break that cycle and SB seems to be the way to go.� Tod believes it will get me through my plateau and truth be told, I am sure my plateau stems from two major things:

1. I can now eat more

2. I have a carb addiction

Learning to eat for life and for health is really hard work.� It is so easy to slip back into old habits, even on a smaller scale.� But I am dedicated.� I am hellbent I will work this out and get back on the losing track again.

My boys went back to school today and though in a way I feel bad for them that summer seemed rather short, their going back to school means I can get back to the gym and I can get some neglected things accomplished at home in peace and quiet and without all work being undone moments later by boisterous boys charging around through the house.� They both seemed excited though they would protest that it was excitement but they were both ready to go out the door early.��The Lawyer�got the one teacher he didn't want to get, who he says is mean, but I'm hoping it is all rumor.� I am hoping if she is mean, that she is mean enough to get the kid to read as that has been hopeless.� He CAN read but he hates it and avoids it at all cost, which means, though he can, he is not great at it and ergo, his spelling also suffers.

The Genius started soccer practice earlier this week and I think he made the team.� I say "I think" because his explanation last night at dinner was a bit confusing, but if he still needs to go out and get new soccer shoes tonight, I will assume it is a done deal.� Getting him to talk is a huge undertaking at 15 years old; getting him to talk and to actually be able to understand what he is talking about is a different story altogether.

In other news, I have decided that this year is the year I will learn the game of football.� Not to play it.� To watch it.� Everyone gets all excited and gets to wear their cool jerseys and I am tired of sitting on the bench in a constant state of confusion.� So, with The Brit's help, I am beginning to learn.� I have picked my teams; The Baltimore Ravens and the San Diego Chargers and in�my first pre-game last night the Chargers won, which was cool...and I think I actually had a semi-understanding of how that happened.� It was actually at times kind of exciting to watch, once I worked out where the Quarterback was and knew which way my team had to run.� It will take time and much patience on The Brit's part, but I think I will eventually get it.

What about you?� Football fans?� What team?� How long did it take you to "get it"?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

California: Nearing the End

The run along the beach was magnificent and just what the doctor ordered.� The sky was overcast, the air cool and clean and there was an exercise community present at the early hour.� I passed runners, bikers, walkers, dog walkers and roller bladers, off every age, shape and size.� I was especially delighted to pass a runner who was slightly larger than me.� We do exist!� Runners who don't look like a typical runner!� Excellent!

The four of us headed downtown and found a great little place for breakfast called The Sugar Shack .� Very busy for a weekday, but the food was great.� I ordered a half of an english muffin with scrambled egg, tomato, avocado and�hollandaise sauce that was divine.� Everywhere in California they have avocado and I love the things!

We wandered around the town after breakfast and found a coupon for a whale watch in Newport Beach, which was just minutes down the road, for $15 a person, which was fabulous!� We booked our reservations and headed down the road.� Now, I have done several whale watches in my day, but this one had to be one of the very best.

We were surrounded by 100 plus of these beauties as they played in the waves alongside and behind our boat.

Then there were tons of these photo ops.� They give me goosebumps.

And our outing would not have been complete without California Sea Lions.

We ate lunch in a little place overlooking the harbor after our three hour tour (which ended well unlike the original) and then headed back to the house for one last dinner with family before we headed back to Vista to Doug's place.� We wanted to spend some more time with them as they were leaving to return to Vegas on Thursday night to be there for Jim's memorial service on Saturday afternoon.� As we were flying out Saturday morning, we would not be able to attend.

Wednesday, I rode with Margaret to take Chloe and Ed back to Ed's parents.� My nephew, Keith (Doug's middle son and Margaret's step-son) had been laid off from work that day.�� Good news seemed to follow us everywhere.� After dropping off the kids, we took our time coming home.� The Brit had taken JJ, both big and small one, and Aaron golfing for the afternoon, so Margaret and I popped in some shops so I could get some things to take home to people.� I needed a really good gift�for Robyn for dealing with the Jasmine issue and we finally found one.� We headed back and went to Doug's favorite pizza place for dinner and then home for wine and bed.

Thursday, we had a lovely mountain drive to Julian for pie...which I did not really like.� The pie.� Julian was delightful.� As for the pie, I opted for sugar free and it wasn't good.� Margaret told me it wasn't but as I have eaten sugar free here at home many times, I figured it would be fine as I like sugar free pie.� But it was really bad sugar free pie.� I have had much better at the Amish Market or at Railroad Junction here in town.� But the weather was great, the company was fabulous and that evening the Vista family packed up and left us for Vegas.� They left us in charge of the house and dogs.

Monday, August 16, 2010

California Phase 3...You Can't Really Go Home Again

Sunday after the news about Jim, we all headed for church for another amazing service at a second CA church.� Dynamic praise team and an amazing sermon.�

Following church, we headed to the Orange County Fair , which is a very big deal!� We apparently missed Adam Lambert by a week, which sucks as I love him.� But the fair is huge; rides, vendors, entertainment, food, wine, you name it.� We didn't even get through the whole thing.

The kids rode this, though Aaron came off it a wee bit green in the gills.

Which left me to have to ride this with JJ. Gotta love a Tilt-a-Whirl.� He hates it when I lean into the spin to try to make it go faster.

For the life of me, I cannot remember what we did for dinner that night, but Monday was a really busy day for us.� Beach Sister and Hubby were working, so we decided to head to my hometown of Monrovia .� So much had change, that I cannot even put it into words, but we did find my old house, which from the outside was still incredible.

I loved this house and they had apparently added a second floor, which was not there when we owned it.

My first disappointment was that, per the contractor who was on site, the inground pool we had put in had been filled in the week before and they were now making it a garage.� But even that could not prepare me for what I saw when I looked through the windows (the owner was not at home):

Every room we could see looked like this.� The contractor told us she was apparently a hoarder (Ya think?).� It was not a case of just moving in as she had lived there for five years.� The house had been on the market until just before our trip.� Cannot image why she could not sell it.� So disappointing.� It is a magnificent home and it deserves so much better.

From there, we went to my old school of First Lutheran .� The church was locked and there was a pull gate that separated us from the back of the school, which had just enough room for me to squeeze through.� My kids were freaking out by what I was doing but I could hear voices around the corner and wanted to see who was there and besides, I looked harmless enough.� Turns out, there were two adults and a bunch of kids there and the woman was nice and asked if she could help me.� I explained that I had gone to school here and was in California visiting.� She asked me what my last name had been and I told her and her face lit up and she said, "Kim!� It's Carla!"�

Carla and I had gone to school here together and she was the new principal.� I swear, this trip had me stepping back in time, to an amazing time in my life, before I had been torn away from my home.� Though I have wonderful friends in Maryland, the memories of being taken away from Monrovia more than once had been painful ones and for a day or two, it felt as if I had never left and that my parents had never been totally indecisive.� We chatted for a bit, she let me in the church and allowed me to tour the school, which was awesome.

The sanctuary.

My kindergarten room.

Sadly, I left Monrovia and we headed to the Griffith Conservatory , which was closed but we still had some great views of LA and most importantly, this semi-famous sign:

As it was Aaron's 15th birthday, we drove to the every lovely Malibu and treated him to a lobster lunch at Gladstones , which is known for celebrity sightings.� Sadly, we didn't see any, but I think Aaron enjoyed the lunch and the fabulous ocean view.

We drove back to Huntington Beach via the ever beautiful Pacific Coast Highway.� On the drive back to Huntington Beach, I got a call from Robyn that Jasmine, my sickly cat, was not doing well.

I would lose her by morning.� Though it grieved me greatly, I made arrangements for the vet to keep her body until Emily's hubby, Dave, picked her up to bury her for me.� I just could not go home and deal with that part of it, without having been there for her when she left this world.� She had been ailing with thyroid and heart problems and I knew we were not winning the battle and I knew we would lose her to this.� I just wish she had waited until I had gotten home, but maybe with losing Jim, I wasn't meant to deal with it.�

That morning, after getting the news and shedding some tears, I crossed something off my bucket list.

I had a run alongside the ocean.

Friday, August 13, 2010

California Phase 3

Sorry about the lack of blogging yesterday but the church yard sale took over my life until evening and by then I was too tired to think.

So we departed Nevada on Saturday morning for Huntington Beach, the home of Beach Sister and husband.� I was feeling anxious as I was supposed to have a 6:00 dinner date with Renee and Gina, who I had not seen in 30 years, so not only was I worried about not getting there on time, I was nervous about how awkward it would be to see two friends I had not seen since childhood.�

But we arrived at Beach Sister's by 4:00, giving us time to talk with her and her hubby and for me to change clothes and freshen up for dinner.� The Brit, the kids and the Beach Couple were going to go to dinner right across the street from Dukes , where I was meeting the girls.

When I arrived, Renee was standing out in front of the restaurant and though I knew what she looked like now thanks to Facebook, I still would have recognized her.� She greeted me with a huge hug and much excitement on both our parts as we chatted and caught up...if you can indeed catch up on 30 years, while we waited for Gina.� Renee had driven two hours for this dinner, and Gina about an hour.� Gina had caught some traffic but soon arrived and more hugs were exchanged before we went in to get our table, which was supposed to overlook the ocean but the World Series of Surfing had erected a building in the way though we could still see the ocean through a little gap.

Dinner was amazing, both the food, the wine and the company and they insisted upon paying the bill.� Years seemed to slip away as we talked and laughed and for me, this dinner was the highlight of my trip.� After dinner, the girls came back to the beach house for a firepit with the rest of my family, where we continued to laugh and talk.� This was true friendship; the kind of friendship where years and 3000 miles just don't matter.� It was easy, no one was afraid of offending anyone, it felt natural.� Gina was still every bit as funny and Renee still the compassionate one.� These girls were still very much my friends and it was not the kind of friendship time and miles could erase.�When they left, after Renee called across the street that she loved me, I teared up, hating for them to go.�� One night just hadn't been enough to be in their company.

(Left to right, Renee, Gina and myself)

I went to bed that night happy and so thrilled to have had this experience and already counting the days until we could have another reunion.

The next morning, we got the call that Jim had passed away.� The good news was that Connie had not had to make a decision as it has happened all its own, in God's perfect timing.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Mostly Wordless Wednesday

I am mostly just going to catch you all up on some photos today, as I got them downloaded.� Also, I know you all have missed my defending my position to Jimnotmike, so without further adieu....Our meal at The Olde Spaghetti Factory was not in San Diego.� We drove back to Vista and ate there, primarily because we had five kids with us, two of them being very young.� The fact that this place is a chain is news to me because I had never been there before but I did enjoy the food.� Had we spent more time in that area, we would have tried some other places (we did see the place you recommeded), especially were it only for the four of us.�

Anyway, a few photos for you to bring you all up to date.� If you are friends with me on Facebook, there is a full photo album there and if you aren't friends with me there, please friend me if you want to see all the photos.� I have only chosen a few so that the blog doesn't take forever to load for you, my readers!

Lovely harbor town of Oceanside.� Lots of boats, shops and the beach around the corner....

This is my great-niece, Chloe, who I fell in love with....

...and my great-nephew, Ed, who I fell equally in love with.� This was my first time meeting these two kids.

The only thing I waited in line for at the zoo and it was totally worth it!

The breathtaking Hoover Dam, which charges you for everything...well, not the dam itself, but its people!

Okay, more tomorrow with photos!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

California Phase Two

A more original title would be a good thing, but alas, I am not coming up with anything.�

I also forgot to mention church the day after we got to Vista, the day after our flight.� AMAZING!� Church consisted of a praise band "concert" for lack of a better word and a sermon that was actually interesting.� It didn't matter that it was 20 minutes long because when it is well prepared and brings the Bible into today's world, twenty minutes flies by!� I was actually jealous because I felt as if my spirit had not been fed by a pastor's words in a few years and it was good to finally have it happen.

Anyway, dinner on Monday after the zoo.� As a prequel to this, you should know that my sister, Connie and her hubby, Jim, live just outside of Las Vegas, NV in Henderson.� We had planned to pay them a visit on Tuesday or Wednesday and just stay about two days as I really wanted the bulk of my vacation to be in my state.� The Friday before we left for Cali, Jim was slated for a triple bypass, which was postponed because of his kidney values.� Jim has had problem with blood clots for years and he is diabetic, so in preparation for Friday's surgery, he was taken off his blood thinners and then the surgery was postponed until Monday, so that was additional time off the blood thinners.�

We didn't hear anything on how things went until we were at dinner at The Olde Spaghetti Factory when Margaret's cell phone rang.� Jim had come through the surgery fine...and then coded.� His blood had clotted in the new arteries to his heart and stopped his heart.� They were struggling to bring him back but finally had to place him on life support.� My sister was obviously hysterical and we all made the decision to drive to Henderson that night.

We went back to Doug's house and packed clothes and five kids into two cars to drive 4.5 hours in the middle of the night.� On the way, the Brit and I were calling to find a hotel as Connie would not be able to put all of us up and Connie and Doug are very close and it was best he be near her.� We found one at a casino/hotel off the strip (seriously, I don't think there are any hotels in Vegas without casinos.� There are even slot machines in the convenience stores for heaven's sake!) and continued driving, only stopping once for a bathroom break and once for coffee.

When we did the bathroom stop in the middle of the desert at a rest stop, Margaret and I went in and did our business.� She came out of the stall before me and this horrible little light brown cockroach charged her!� She jumped out of the way and quickly went to wash her hands as he had now turned and was charging her again.� I came out of my stall and the little bastard turned on me and rushed in my direction.� I am uber terrified of bugs of any kind and jumped over to the sinks to wash up and here he was again, racing in my direction!� We high-tailed it out of the bathroom, which apparently, this little asshole owned.

We arrived at my sister's around 4:00 in the morning.� She was a mess, and we spent some time talking and praying with her before we headed to our hotel for what was left of the night.� The next morning we made a plan.� So Doug and Margaret could hold vigil with Connie at the hospital, we would take all five kids and try to find some entertainment for all ages as we had the age range of 3-16.� Not as easy as it looks!� We did Hoover Dam (BRit, I really could use those photos!), and took them back swimming at our hotel.� We did the lions at MGM casino and Circus Circus.� We did a park that had water features.� It was a lot of running back and forth between Vegas and Henderson and the scenery in the area is boring.� Very brown, lots of traffic lights, lots of strip malls.� The mountains are breathtaking however as was the dam (and there will soon be pictures, I promise!).� In the evenings, we met up with everyone, including my niece, Danette and her three children, for dinner.

There was a roller coaster ride with Jim.� There was concern about brain damage.� They had gotten his heart beating on its own, but he still had life support breathing for him.� On Tuesday, they were seeing involuntary leg activity, which was a good sign.� One doctor said his pupils were reacting to light; another good sign.� Then the next day, there was no involuntary movement even with stimulation and the main surgeon said they should not have been told his pupils were reacting to light because they were not.� So it was hope, then little hope.�

On a personal note, I hated Nevada.� The Brit says if it had just been the two of us, it would have been different and he is probably right, but there isn't a lot to do for kids there that does not cost a fortune.� If we had wanted a tour of the dam, it was $30 a person.� Even to go into the FREAKIN' VISITORS CENTER cost $8 a person, so we didn't go in there either.� Vegas is all about the casinos and some are very beautiful.� We did see the fountains at the Bellagio, which were stunning as was the Bellagio itself.� But in the Bellagio, between four of us, we had a soda, an orange juice and a small gellato for $20.� Incredibly expensive.

On Wednesday, they did a brain function test on Jim and results did not come in until Friday, so it was a long wait.� The Brit and I had already decided we were going to leave for California on Saturday morning.� It was a tough decision to make if you read my one blog post while I was away, but Doug and Margaret were leaving by Sunday and I had two boys with me, who had never met Jim.� I hadn't seen him in 15 years, not that it made it okay to go.� I agonized over the decision all week.� I wanted to help support my sister but I couldn't have two kids sitting in the hospital for another week.� Then there was the selfish side of me I really struggled with; the side of me who wanted to be back in California where I had dreamed of returning to for the last twenty years.� Hard stuff.

But we left on Saturday morning after a conversation with Connie Friday night.� She was distraught and begging God that she would not have to make the decision to take Jim off life support.� The brain scan had shown very little activity so the prognosis was not good, but no one would want to make the decision to let him go.� Connie wanted Jim to go on his own.� She kept apologizing to me about ruining my vacation, though I kept telling her no one could have foreseen anything and we were obviously placed here at this time for this reason.� She was still holding onto hope that a nurse had given her; telling Connie about all the miracles she had seen in her time as a nurse.� I was praying he would recover, but knew in my heart it was unlikely.� Before we left I reminded Connie that no matter how this turned out, Jim was going to be fine.

Monday, August 9, 2010

California Journey Phase One

On Saturday, the 24th of July, my birthday, we departed from Reagan Airport in DC for San Diego, California.� I was totally stoked about finally getting to go home and when I could see the bright lights of San Diego against the night sky as we began our descent, I got a little teary eyed.� Though I only lived on the West Coast for 13 years, I was born there and it has always been "home" where any state or location is concerned and I have missed it greatly.� I think in many ways, California is more than a state but a frame of mind that I have always had.� My mother, since I was a little girl, has always described me as "happy go lucky" and I think this attitude comes from being a West Coaster at heart.�

We got to Doug and Margaret's (my�oldest brother and sister in law)�at 1:00AM, which to our bodies was 4:00 AM and were greeted by not only them but JJ, their teenage son, and their two dogs, Isaac and Chester.� Upstairs sleeping were D & M's two grandkids, Ed who is 3 and Chloe, who is 5, who would be with them for the two weeks we were all on vacation. We talked for an hour and then retired, everyone exhausted.

The next morning, I helped Margaret make eggs, waffles and bacon for breakfast and then we took my two kids, and Chloe and Ed down to Oceanside to the harbor.� Though we had no big plans for the day due to some jetlag, Margaret wanted to make sure I got to see the ocean my first day (this was foreshadowing as I� would not see it again for awhile). While Margaret kept saying how hot it was, I found the temps to be amazing.� I actually needed a jacket in the�mornings and evenings as there was no humidity in the�air and

"hot" to Californians is the mid to high seventies!� So we walked around down there and did a little window shopping and treated the kids to ice cream.� Going back home, Keith who is Ed's dad and Ed's mom, Angie were there to join us for dinner.� We cooked out and had some fab steaks and seasoned potatoes.�

Monday morning we headed out early for Seaport Village in San Diego; lots of cute shops and things to see and from there we took all the kids to the San Diego Zoo.� The weather was wonderful; warm but not humid.� Perfect.� The zoo is huge so there was no way to see all of it, and I promise you pictures soon but The Brit has them all on his computer and has promised me a CD so I can have access (I am hoping this might happen today) to them.� But what we did see was wonderful, my favorite being the pandas.�

We left there around seven in the evening and went to The Old Spaghetti Factory for dinner.� It was toward the end of our meal when we got the phone call that would change our plans for the rest of the trip.