Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Bloggy Giveaway

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketDo you like free stuff? That's what I thought. This post is part of the Fall Y'All Bloggy Giveaway hosted by Shannon at Rocks in my Dryer. Be sure to click here for a list of all the other bloggers giving away stuff. Maybe you will luck out!!

But first! I am also giving away some cool stuff. For the kids, I have a nice hardback copy of "A Classic Treasury of Nursery Songs & Rhymes" with a CD that accompanies it. For you moms, I have a pink Avon breast cancer awareness pack. In the pack, there are small containers of lotion, shampoo, conditioner, a lip balm and a little Aloe Vera soap. Both items will go to one lucky winner.

To enter my giveaway, just leave a comment for me. The contest ends for everyone at midnight on November 2. I'll use http://random.org/ to choose the winner and if you win, I will contact you for your address. Thanks for commenting! I hope you win something.

A Halloween Meme

Found this one floating around the blogosphere so I thought I would latch onto it.

1. What's the scariest movie you have ever seen?

Not a big scary movie fan, as all my family and friends know very well. I can do scary books, but the movies are just a little too real. Having said that, I did have an old boyfriend who took me to see "The Exorcist". When Linda Blair started talking in that growly voice, I got up and walked out. I have never seen the entire movie. Never will.

2. What was your favorite Halloween costume from childhood?

You're kidding, right? I can't remember what I had for breakfast this morning. I have no recollection of ANY Halloween costume.

3. If you had an unlimited budget, what would your fantasy costume be for this Halloween?

If I had an unlimited budget, I wouldn't waste it on a Halloween costume. Shoes, baby. Shoes.

4. When was the last time you went trick or treating?

Refer to #2 above. Although if you count taking my children trick or treating - more than 20 years. Long before people worried about x-raying their candy.

5. What is your favorite Halloween candy?

Oh, my God. How can I choose? Uh...let's see. I love anything caramel covered in chocolate. Love York Peppermint Patties. And Milky Way bars. And...well, actually. If it's chocolate. I am there.

6. Tell us about a scary nightmare you had.

My worst nightmares always involve falling or jumping into water and seeing a dark shadow in there. This was WAY before Jaws.

7. What is your Supernatural fear?

Oh, I don't know. I guess I'm just pretty much creeped out by anything when I am home alone. I have an unfortunately vivid imagination.

8. What is your creep-crawly fear?

Snakes. I don't even want to write about them.

9. Tell us about the time you saw a ghost. Or heard something go bump in the night.

I'd rather not. It might make those waking nightmares come back.

10. Would you ever stay in a haunted house overnight?

Not for a million dollars. Seriously.

11. Are you a traditionalist Jack 'O' Lantern carver or do you get creative?

I WISH I could be creative. But no.

12. How much do you decorate your house for Halloween?

I have a few decorations. Nothing overboard. Not like Christmas when the house is transformed.

13. What do you want on your tombstone?

Birth and death dates. Those who love me will remember me without some rock with writing on it.

OK, I'm tagging everyone reading this post. If you do this Halloween meme on your blog, tell us in the comments. Or just do it in a comment. I would love to read it.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Sands Of Time Run Out Fast

We had an assembly at school the other day. Test scores and raising them are both the focus of our lives at pretty much any school nowadays. We had a pirate theme going on and everyone had eye patches and pirate hats and there was more than one "Aaaarr" to be heard. I was talking to a friend about the assembly last fall when we were all gung-ho about the Star Wars theme and I was thinking aloud that I didn't remember being there when that was introduced and I must have missed it and then...I remembered.

That was when dad died.

We went to the pumpkin patch the other day to pick out pumpkins and eat apple pie and take a hay ride with the little blonde boy who is the center of all our lives and I was trying to remember why I didn't go to the pumpkin patch last year and then...I remembered.

I was at the funeral home that day making arrangements.

Hard to believe it's been a year. And yet it's easy to believe as well. Time slips by so quickly, so quietly, so seamlessly knitting up the days that you don't notice it at all. The days and weeks and months slip through our grasp until a year has passed and it seems like just yesterday they handed that folded up flag to my mom while the Marines saluted and it was a cool fall day and we were all crying.

Things change. Life happens. When I handed Wes a little wooden toy train car I got free from Toys R Us the other day, he laughed aloud and said "Thomas!". Clearly. Understandably.

When dad died, Wes wasn't talking at all.

Things change. Life happens. Some of it is sad. But we have to remember. Some of it is good. Very good.

Friday, October 26, 2007

And They Were So Pampered They Did Not Want To Go Home. But They Had To.

It's going to be kind of hard to adjust to not staying in a fancy resort. Not being pampered every minute. Not having a phone in the bathroom.

Not having flowers everywhere you turn.

Not even having to get your feet wet if you want to cross a little stream.

Not having to sweep the beach yourself. I hate that, don't you?

Actually having to get up from your beach chair to shop. Instead of having someone come to you.With what looks strangely like a VCR on their head. And Tom totally made fun of me for hours when I said that.

And having even more flowers everywhere.

I just don't know how we are going to manage. It's going to be hard.
If only there was just someone to make me a tomato and mozzarella appetizer for dinner tonight. If only.

Bye, bye, scallops appetizer. Bye, bye coconut ice cream. Bye, bye frozen drinks brought to us on the beach as we lounged in our chairs. Bye, bye sleeping late and long naps in the afternoon and having someone make our bed for us and not having one, single, solitary responsibility. Except thinking about our next meal.


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Ice Machines And Iguanas. But Not Iguanas IN Ice Machines. Because That Wouldn't Be Right.

When our bellman took us to our room in Puerto Vallarta, he showed us two very important items. The bottle opener under the counter in the dressing area (to open the drinks in the mini-fridge) and the ice machine in the hall. Tom was very excited about the bottles of Corona in the mini-fridge and I was excited about the cans of Diet Coke. All of which would be instantly replenished as we polished them off.

After we had our much-needed nap the first afternoon, I went out in the hall to fill up the ice bucket with ice while Corona boy went on the balcony to have a Corona.

However. Apparently, the bellman had neglected to mention that the ice machine had been built in approximately 1864 and was extremely cantankerous and arthritic. When asked to dispense ice, it grumbled, complained, shuddered and finally spat out a single cube. If you were very persistent and held down the button you could, just possibly, be rewarded with two cubes. Sometimes three. If you got three, you considered it a good day. It's the small things really.

And, on a similar topic...no. I have no transition between subjects.

On the way back from breakfast one morning, we happened to glance out the back window of the hotel, which backed up to the side of the mountain and noticed there were three iguanas out there. Luckily, this window was across the hall from our room. Even luckier, we were several stories up from the iguanas. So they were waaaaay down there. Because if they had been any closer to me, I would have run shrieking and gibbering to the nearest bar and had several mojitos. Not altogether a bad scenario, in hindsight. Anyway.

Dark gray with striped tails, they blended perfectly into the gray boulders at the base of the mountain. They moved sinuously, bobbing their heads and sliding their tails against the rocks. They were quite large, Tom estimated 3-4 feet long. I had to get a picture for you. I tried taking one from the window, but it was too far away. Tom suggested I go to the tennis courts which looked like they were right beside them. He did not suggest he go with me. He does not fully appreciate the concept of blogging everything interesting that happens. So I went to the tennis court alone. Luckily, there was a high wire fence between me and them. And I got a picture for you.

And looking at this. I'm once again glad we were waaaay up and there. And they were waaaaay down there.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Second Day In Paradise. Or When We Decide To Do Nothing But Eat And Lie On The Beach. Every Day.

Dreams Resort and Spa in Puerto Vallarta is located on the quite wonderful Bay of Banderas. Most of the other hotels in Puerto Vallarta are located in the hotel zone, which is near or in downtown Puerto Vallarta. I did not want to be in downtown Puerto Vallarta in the crowded hotel zone. I wanted a lovely, secluded hotel. So, that's what I found. And that's what we had. Here's the newer club tower, where we stayed. It backs up to the Sierra Madre mountains. Our room was just about in the middle of the tower.

The mountains come right down to the water on both sides of the beach. This makes the beach at Dreams very, very private.

The left side of the beach.

The right side of the beach.

The beach is completely secluded. If you don't want to go anywhere, you don't have to. If you don't want anyone to bother you, they won't. If you want to spend every day either planning your next meal or lying on the beach, you can do that.

So that's what we did.

We sat right here. Every day. And talked about our next meal. What we should order. Whether one of us should go get some more coconut ice cream. Whether we should apply more sun block. Or not. Whether we should take a nap now. Or wait until later. It took a great deal of time to make these decisions. Pretty much all day. Every day.

It was wonderful.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A Tale Of Two Foodies

Let me just tell you that if you are ever considering going to Puerto Vallarta and you, just possibly, like to eat? Go to Dreams Resort and Spa. All the reviews I read talked about how wonderful the food was, so we had high, high expectations. And they were met. Oh, baby, they were met.

And to just express to you how truly wonderful all the food was? The first night, we took ONE picture of ourselves. We took FOUR pictures of the food.

The first morning, we had breakfast at the seafood restaurant, Oceana. And can I just add that the whole concept of me getting up in the morning and exercising before Tom woke up? Hah. I say again, Hah. The first night I slept from 10:00 until 9:30 the next morning. Tom said he woke up and was just a teeny, tiny bit concerned that I might be dead because I was lying so still. I think he was mainly concerned because that would have put a serious dent in our food consumption. Which turned out to be a PRIMARY focus of our trip.

So, about eating breakfast at Oceana. Can you just see yourself having breakfast with this view every morning?

We ordered fresh fruit. This is what it looked like. This was our first taste (pun intended) of what the food would be like.

The tables always had fresh flowers on them.

Here is the view from the Seaside Grill, where we normally had lunch. We are still dreaming about their homemade coconut ice cream.

The first night, we had dinner at Portofino's, the Italian restaurant. This is grouper with shrimp.

Sunset from Portofino's our first night.

Not only did we sigh over the beautiful sunset, we sighed over dessert as well. Tiramisu.

And chocolate cannoli.

The second night, we ate at Oceana, the seafood restaurant.

Shrimp eggroll for an appetizer.

Now, I have to share a story about this scallop appetizer from Oceana. Tom ordered this, took one bite and his eyes rolled back in head in ecstasy. I took my fork and speared one scallop, intending to take just one small bite. "Oh, I didn't mean to take one of your whole scallops," I exclaimed. Then I looked up into his face. "Well. You. Are." he said, very seriously. And his fork was dangerously close to my hand. I put the scallop back. And ordered my own.

The scallops in a cream/cheese/wine sauce. Oh my God.

The third night, we had dinner at El Patio, the Mexican restaurant. I wish I had gotten a picture of the roast cheese which tasted like cheese cooked on an open fire, but we stuffed it into our faces too fast for me to take a picture. I did get a picture of the sea bass and shrimp.

And the shrimp tacos.

Sadly, I never did find the coconut shrimp which had been recommended by someone online. I guess that means we'll just have to go back sometime soon so we can try that!

Chocolate mousse for dessert.

And...the diet starts back up today.

Monday, October 22, 2007

First Day In Paradise or How To Get Totally Snockered On Free Corona

Hola! Buenos Dias! Buenas Tardes! Buenas Noches! Mojitos! Tacos! Oh, sorry. I'm still on PUERTO VALLARTA VACATION MODE!!! But we are BAAAACK and I need to share every, single, little detail with you, my faithful readers, and then the experience will become really real. First, just let me say that I hope you appreciate your faithful blogger and all the blogging I had to do in between the many, many, many bouts of eating we experienced. And I'm not talking about sitting down and typing out a few words. NO. We didn't TAKE our laptop. So I had to engage in some serious LOW TECH blogging. Like this. But I did it. All for you. Now, for the details about our trip. But first. Before anything else. Before I even tell you about the horrifying experience at the airport. Look at the toilet paper in our room. A golden satin ribbon was tied around it. I am going to immediately do this at my house. Aren't you?

Anyway. All the problems I anticipated in this post? Non-existent. Tom was as excited as I was and he was up before I could even go in and shake him awake. We got a cab, we flew, yada yada, and then we were at the Puerto Vallarta airport. It was muggy and warm, but not unbearable. I had made arrangements online to be driven to the Dreams Resort and Spa by a private company. I had been warned time and again and again by reviewers on Tripadvisor to ignore the timeshare sales people in the airport. So we did. Or thought we did.

We checked in at a desk where they were holding up a sign with our name on it and got a VIP pass for the luxury car that would take us to the resort. Then the trouble began. A guy in some sort of uniform began to take our luggage and put it on a luggage cart. I stopped him. "Are you with Puerto Vallarta Tours?" I asked him. He replied (lied) "Yes." and took us to another desk where a guy spent 10 minutes telling our sweaty, exhausted selves all about Puerto Vallarta while we stood there, waiting for him to lead us to the car. Finally, finally, he mentioned that if we would just look at these condos for just a few minutes...and I realized we had been duped. I told Tom to get the luggage and we just rudely walked away. Finally, after dozens of people screaming at us that yes, they were just the ones we were looking for, we found the correct place and headed for our resort. We drove through the gates into a beautifully landscaped and gorgeous location.
Our room was not quite ready, so we went to have lunch. Right here.

Remember, we were hot, and tired and thirsty. Very thirsty. When we sat down, Tom confirmed with me that ALL the food and drink were already paid for, correct? Correct. Then, he proceeded to drink three ice-cold Coronas. You have to remember that we are not big drinkers. Far from it. And I can't remember the last time Tom drank three beers. When I asked him if he was OK, he said he was just fine, NOT EVEN DIZZY! Then we stood up. He didn't actually stagger, but he did admit that his head was spinning. That was fine, because we got checked in, took a picture from our balcony...

And then took a serious, long nap. And then had dinner. But dinner actually deserves it's own post. In fact, the food deserves a post of it's own. Check back tomorrow for the food post. And have a snack on hand. You will need it.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

What He Doesn't Know Won't Hurt Him. Or Me.

So, we are in Puerto Vallarta!!!!!

Or, maybe not.

It depends on when you are reading this. If it is between 6:30 A.M. (Central time) and 1:00 P.M (Pacific Time), then we are probably still flying. After that, barring any unforeseen circumstances like a blizzard in Chicago (unlikely) or a bird in the airplane engine (much more likely) we should be in Puerto Vallarta getting ready to gorge ourselves at the lunch buffet.

Hopefully, at that point, my husband has not had a serious Aneurysm about the teeny, tiny little bits of information I kept from him about the trip until the very last minute.

1. When my family went on vacation, we left at the crack of dawn. Sometimes even before it cracked. It was always pitch black. My dad always wanted to get a couple of hours on the road before we stopped for breakfast. So, I am ready to go EARLY when we leave on trips. Tom. Not so much. He would really prefer to get up about 10:00, have some coffee and read the paper and then, very LEISURELY make his way to the airport.

Our flight leaves at 6:30 A.M.

2. We have a very, very, very comfortable bed. It has a pillow top mattress, soft comforter and high thread count sheets.

All the reviews of this resort talk about how incredibly, indescribably hard the beds are. Some may, just possibly, have even mentioned plywood.

3. Tom loves cold weather. He hates and despises hot weather. When we went to Cancun in January a few years ago, the weather was perfect. Slightly cool but warm in the sun and very cool in the evenings. I blithely assumed Puerto Vallarta would be like that in October. I checked the weather the other day to plan what clothes to pack.

It was 91. The weather report said it felt like 104.

These items are precisely why I am setting this to post on Thursday. After we are already in Puerto Vallarta. When it's too late for him to...shall we say...express his displeasure. After he has seen our fabulous resort and our fabulous room and had several fabulous Coronas.

And after he sees this when we get back...Hi, baby! Love you. Really. I do. And didn't we have a GREAT time?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Packing Should TOTALLY Be An Olympic Sport. I Would Win A Gold Medal.

So, we leave for Puerto Vallarta tomorrow. Perhaps I have already mentioned that. Perhaps

I love packing. Packing clothes for a trip I mean, not packing to move. Although I don't actually mind that either. But packing for a trip? Well, that's almost a religious experience for me.

I was talking to my friend Sallye the other day and she was saying they were driving to Chicago for a shopping trip and wasn't it too bad they had to drive instead of fly? And I said, Well, you have to just consider that day of driving to be part of the trip. Eat, laugh, talk and have fun. It's all part of the trip.

To me, packing is part of the trip. Just like planning for the trip. They are both fabulous for me. If I was leaving on a trip and my suitcase was not 99% packed the night before, you can bet that I have probably been stricken by the Ebola virus. I'm normally all organized and packed at least 3 or 4 days before a trip. I plan what I am going to pack right down to the matching underwear and accessories for each event on the trip. Of course, I throw in a few extra things in case there is a weather change or we impulsively decide to do something other than what is on my carefully prepared agenda. But normally I am completely organized.

Of course, I have to confess that I have arrived at locations without my hairbrush and toothpaste. But that's because it's so hard to remember to brush your hair, brush your teeth and then PUT THE STUFF IN THE SUITCASE, NOT BACK IN THE DRAWER. Anyway, those things are easy to replace. I have never arrived somewhere and not had the appropriate outfit.

For example.

That's what I'm wearing to the airport. Although that does not technically meet the definition of packing, it does require planning. Unlike some other individuals I have seen traveling at airports, I carefully plan what I am wearing to travel. Lee khaki pants with a little elastic for comfort. I can also wear these at the resort if it cools off. Stretch black turtleneck. Sleeveless because it will be warm when we get there. Jacket because the airport or airplane may be chilly. Cute, stylish, yet comfortable slides. The requisite matching black underwear is not in the picture. I didn't want to be too obsessive. What? Telling you all what I am packing is not obsessive. Is not.

Now, here's what I'm wearing to go out to dinner our first night. The restaurants are all pretty dressy and the men are required to wear long pants. I'm sure this means some people will show up in jeans and t-shirts and God knows what else. These people, however, will not include us. We will be classy. And we will look damn good. I know Tom will look damn good because I chose all his clothes and packed them for him. After all, his appearance is a reflection on me.

And the other two nights to go out to dinner.

Two pairs of shorts and three interchangeable tops. I also packed a couple of extra tops and a light white cardigan in case it gets cool.

I didn't take a picture of my bathing suit or my pajamas or my exercise clothes. I did use some restraint. See? Not the least bit obsessive. Yes, I plan to exercise every day. Yes I do. Shut up. Considering the endless buffets and the fact that all our food and alcohol is already paid for, I'm sure we will be getting our money's worth as far as food. And, to be honest, part of the exercise plan is because Tom normally sleeps a little longer than me. Unless I want to curl up on the bathroom floor with a book, this means I need to vacate the room. This is good because a little time on the treadmill will be just what I need to work off all those strawberry margaritas and coconut shrimp.

So, aside from a pair of shorts which is in the dryer as I type this, both of our suitcases are completely packed. We will add our toiletries on Thursday morning and carry everything out to the cab and head for the airport.

And hope that nobody steals anything out of my suitcase, which happened to another friend of mine. I have lost a suitcase full of clothes once in my life. I don't want it to happen again.

Just hand over that gold medal any time. You know I deserve it.

I TOTALLY think I should be allowed to leave school early today. I need to get a bright red pedicure for my trip. Don't you think so? I knew you would agree.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

They Never Rolled Down A Car Window

Beloit College in Wisconsin puts out a yearly list for their entering freshmen which lists all the things these students have never experienced or simply don't realize ever even existed.

It's pretty interesting.

Especially if some of those things actually happened in your lifetime. Or a lot of them. Or even. To be completely truthful. All of them.


Monday, October 15, 2007

Drilling For Oil In Alaska. No. No. No. Noooooo.

Bloggers Unite - Blog Action Day Today is Blog Action Day. Bloggers around the world are uniting to talk about a single topic. The environment.

I care about the environment about as much as the next guy, maybe a little more. I recycle as much as I can. I drive a hybrid vehicle. I worry about the environment. What we are leaving for our children and grandchildren. Global warming. Hurricanes and tsunamis destroying cities. Animals becoming extinct daily. The rain forest being depleted. I don't know a lot about the hot political issues. I couldn't have defined ANWR a few years ago. But I know now. Now that I have been to Alaska. Now that I have seen it. An unspoiled, magnificent wilderness.

ANWR is the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Some people want to drill for oil there. Some political people. I understand the need for oil. I understand that it is incredibly expensive. I understand that it would be nice to have our own oil instead of having to pay foreign countries for it. However. When you start drilling for oil in a gorgeous wilderness populated with wild animals, things happen. Like oil spills. In 1989, the oil tanker Exxon Valdez ran aground in the lovely Prince William Sound, off the coast of Alaska. Wild animals don't understand oil spills. They try to escape them, even when it is impossible.

There's not very many towns that have a view like Juneau, Alaska.

But that view can be spoiled when the environment is destroyed by an oil spill. Those are seabirds lined up on that beach. Covered with oil. All dead.

So instead of the view we saw through our sight seeing float plane.

Everyone saw oil creeping closer and closer to the coastline.

I want my grandson to see the same view of Alaska in twenty years that we saw.

And just in case you think the Exxon Valdez was an isolated case? One that just happened a few years ago and couldn't even happen again? In March, 2006 someone working on a pipeline in Alaska heard a gurgling sound. Before they could figure out what it was, a small leak in the pipe had released thousands of gallons of oil into Prudhoe Bay.

I know cars can run on electricity. So why can't ALL cars run on electricity?

Friday, October 12, 2007

Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall But Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining

I did not want to get up this morning. I did not want to drive to work. I did not want to work. I did not want to get out of my soft, warm, comfy bed. But then I did. Because I remembered. In less than a week I will be here.

And I will sit in one of these lounge chairs on the beach.

And a white-clad waiter will bring me one of these.

And then maybe. Just maybe I'll have one of these.

And I forgot all about how I didn't want to get up today. Because I won't have to get up early for four whole days. In paradise. And life is good.

Very, very good.