Family Vacay 2014

So. We are back. Thank God for traveling grace!

This is probably going to be a long, rambling post. Consider yourself warned :)

This year’s vacation was a road trip! My parents drove from Cali to Houston, picked up my niece and nephew (ages 12 and 9) then drove to MS where LG and I joined in the fun. We then drove from Mississippi through Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, and Virginia to arrive at our destination – McGaheysville, VA.

On our first day’s drive we stopped in Birmingham, strolled around Kelly Ingram Park taking in a bit of civil rights history then went over to the Civil Rights Institute where we happened upon a performance that a theater camp was putting on detailing the civil rights era. Let me tell you something – those kids were phenomenal. They ranged in age from 10 to high school seniors and they were a talented bunch. I couldn’t believe that they’d only put in two weeks of work for their show. They’ve been received so well that the Civil Rights Institute has requested they perform throughout the summer and not just for the week-long run they’d originally scheduled. I wish I could remember the name of the group, but if you are going to be in/near Birmingham this summer, I strongly suggest you catch one of their performances at the Institute – and it was free :)

We spent the first night in Knoxville, TN then drove another six hours to our vacation destination.

McGaheysville, VA is home to the Massanutten vacation resort and is where we spent a week in chill (mostly) mode.I thought Massanutten was absolutely gorgeous. I’d never been in the mountains of Virginia before and everything was so green, so lush, just idyllic. There were deer bouncing around and fat little groundhogs chilling everywhere. The thing I didn’t like was that everything cost. And I mean everything. I wish I’d been better prepared for that. I knew it, but I didn’t know it, know it. The kids went to the waterpark, we all ziplined, they went “mining” for gems. There were a bunch of other activities to participate in, but we didn’t because like I said – they cost and with three kids those costs add up quickly! If I were to go back, I’d definitely budget differently. I’d love to tube down the river and maybe go horseback riding.

We spent a day in D.C. and it was crazy. I should’ve planned better. We toured the Capitol building. Then walked to the White House and the MLK memorial. Those three things – plus a brief detour for lunch at the world’s most hood McDonald’s (security with a gun AND a bullet proof vest?!?!) – took us ALL day. I don’t know how that happened, but I’ll take the charge for it. We got in at least 12 miles. By the time we made it to the Smithsonian? They were closed. And I was really hoping that we’d be able to pop in to at least two of them. Oh well…moving on.

The rest of our time was spent on the grounds, at a group dinner (there were 32 people in our group with all the cousins, in-laws, family friends, etc.), and at the African American Day in Harrisonburg, VA which we hit up on our way back home.

My next vacation? I want to relax. This was a do your own cooking/laundry type deal and I don’t want to cook, do dishes, or laundry on my next vacation. I want to lay around, do the activities I want to do, and leave the chores at the house! The cousin who organizes these trips (same group we went to Spain with) is vehemently opposed to cruises. And while I get her arguments against them (and even agree with some of them) I think for a group as varied as we are, a cruise would be a good, relaxing choice. We shall see….

On the way back to Mississippi we stopped at Ruby Falls and Lookout Mountain. Absolutely breathtaking. Ruby Falls is an underground cave that just so happens to have a waterfall in it. Lookout Mountain – specifically Rock City – was once a private garden that’s been open to the public for years. I know a garden doesn’t seem particularly spectacular, but it was. It’s huge, has all sorts of paths, caves, sculpture, and greenery and from the top? You can see seven states – NC, SC, AL, GA, TN, VA, KY. I didn’t even know such a place existed and I’m so glad we stopped to see both of these points of interest.

Now. Let’s talk about the dynamics of vacationing with one’s parents, child, niece and nephew. Whew! My parents are not used to kids and the kids are not used to my parents. I felt a little trapped in the middle because I’m used to both of them :)

My parents? They fuss. A lot. And I really didn’t want to hear all of that on vacation. There’s a lot to be said for correction. But not all the time.  My mom was all “well, they’re way different than y’all were as kids.” Well, of course they are. They’re being raised by different parents in different times. We were different kids than our parents were but I don’t remember my grandmothers fussing at us like that.

In my parents defense, they haven’t had kids at home for a long time. They are used to getting up and going on their own schedule and not dealing with the mess and noise that kids create. And I get that. Look forward to it. But for the next decade or so? It is what it is.

Last night at dinner my mom told me there were some things I need to work on as it relates to raising LG. LG is too soft, has too many options, I’m not consistent enough, and I explain too much to her. And here I was thinking Smoochy was the lenient parent -_-

LG is kinda soft. She’s a sensitive kid. She doesn’t have siblings so she’s not used to that dynamic and when she’s teased she cries. Smoochy and I have talked to her about this. “You can’t take what people say to heart, stop crying, tease back, you have to decide for yourself that you’re not going to let things bother you, etc., etc.” I really don’t know what else to do. I don’t want her to think there’s anything wrong with being a little sensitive – I have those tendencies myself – but I do know that she can’t cry every.single.time. she’s upset. She cried nearly every day in K and 1st grade. We’ve made GREAT progress. We still have work to do. I think she’ll grow out of it.

And yeah, I need to be more consistent with her. Been working on that.

But. (You knew there was a but coming, yes?) I deliberately try to be…softer with LG than my parents were with us. I remember feeling tense a lot as a kid. My dad in particular is very critical and I never thought anything I did was good enough. I want LG to feel and know that she is good enough. Always. So maybe I err in being too accepting of what she does. I don’t know. Yes, we have standards and expectations of her but I refuse to flip out over every single thing she does or to stress myself or her out on a regular basis.

I told my mom I was trying to find a balance between being so critical and uptight and being overly lenient. She told me I’m not there yet. Sigh.

Talked to Smoochy about it. He basically said that our parents raised us well, but that we are not perfect and that we will all raise our kids well and they won’t be perfect either. Pretty much Smoochy, pretty much.

Anyhoo, all in all we had a good time. I’m glad we had this experience. And next time? We need separate lodging!

Do you vacation with your parents and children/nieces/nephews? Do you parent the same way your parents did? What do you/will you do with your children that’s similar/different than what your parents did with you?

(Photo dump tomorrow)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jackson, Memphis, Dallas, SoCal, …and Back!

So, at the last minute I decided I needed to go home and check on my Grandma. I started looking at ticket prices and the only numbers popping up on my screen were $979, $1125 and other such nonsense.

I said “Look God. I want/need to go home and see my granny. And I need this to happen for about $300. So I went to Price.line, put in $300 and the next thing I knew, my trip was booked. I did a happy praise dance right there in my office!

Thursday I worked half a day, then hopped in my car and drove to Memphis (cheap tickets aren’t always the most convenient…). After battling Memphis traffic I found myself at Psonya’s home where I chilled, watched Scandal, learned that those little Hawaiian roll sandwiches floating around on Pint.erest really are quite tasty, and slept.

Friday, I got up early in the morning and flew out. After a quick layover in Dallas, I was back in SoCal grinning in my mama’s face. We went home, hung around with my dad and middle brother (he came in from AR), shopped a little and then headed to L.A.to see my Grandma. She was surprised and happy to see me. I was happy to see her and find that she was doing soooo much better than she had been earlier in the week. We visited for a few hours, went to Roscoe’s for chicken/waffles, then back to the house.

Saturday my brother – who is training for a marathon – suggested that since it was his off day from running we all take a little walk. Cool? Cool. Except. I put on yoga pants, a tshirt and the only tennis shoes I packed – my Chuck Taylors. My dad came out of his room with hiking boots, a walking stick, water strapped around his waist, a hat, and shades. Sir. Where are you going?!?!? We all walk outside and he makes a move toward the car. My brother shouts “it’s a set up, don’t get in the car!!!!” Like a fool I get in the car. My dad drives us to some mountain trail where we proceed to hike up and down a trail for the next hour. -_-. I can’t believe I fell for the okey doke. But, it was a good little hike and as soon as I get the feeling back in my legs I’ll let you know. Brother and I then went to In-N-Out for burgers. I will fall off my “no beef” bandwagon for them! Straight hometown nostalgia. My mom and I then went and got Thai massages. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Thai massages are the bomb! Now, they’re not really relaxing affairs – those folks stretch and pull and knead you all kinds of ways. Gives new meaning to the phrase “hurts so good.” But when they finish? Whew Lawd! Greed dictated that I stop by Taco Nazo and have one fish taco, which I did. I was still full from my burger, but I had to have one! Then back to L.A. to visit my Grandma – at home! That’s right, they released her from the hospital and she’s back at the house. She’s happy about it as are we all! Only God knows what tomorrow holds, but right now, all is well in my world and for that I am thankful! Thank you for your prayers!

Sunday we got up at the crack of dawn, headed to the airport and two flights and a three point five hour drive later I was back home. So glad to see Smoochy and LG! Smoochy left for work about minutes after I got home, I think LG caught me up on how she’d spent her weekend and the next thing I knew, my alarm was going off and it was time to get back into the swing of things.

How was your weekend?

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Psonya & Aidan!

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Roscoe’s! (Not as tasty as it used to be. I hate when that happens!)

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My brother. The most hot chocolate drinking grown man I’ve ever known!

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Before our “walk!”

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In-N-Out. That’s what a hamburger’s all about!

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Un taco pescado por favor. Muy delicioso!

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Until next time!

Road Trip!

My most brilliant of brilliant ideas usually come to me when I’m doing housework. I try not to do too much housework, because really, y’all couldn’t handle my constant brilliance. Trust me on this one.

Anyhoo, as I was slaving away ironing clothes the other day it struck me – I should take LG on a road trip this summer! A good old-fashioned, throwback to .78/gallon gasoline road trip.

Why? Because I want to go home and the thought of paying more than a grand to fly to Cali just pisses me off. So I decided I could take a couple weeks off, rent a itty bitty gas conscious something, pack a bag or two, throw LG in the back, and hit the open road. We’d save a couple hundred bucks (maybe), she’d see parts of the U.S. she’s not yet seen, and we could spend hour upon endless hour together. I’ve even thought about swinging by and picking up my niece and nephew so they could join us for this epic adventure.

Clearly, I’ve lost my mind.

But the more I think about it, the more excited I am about the possibility of making it happen :)

If I were coming through your neck of the woods, what sights, restaurants, experiences would you recommend? Have you taken a road trip with your child(ren) before? How’d that work out for ya? Any recommendations or tips?

DMV! Spain! Morocco! Gibraltar!

And here we go…

On Wednesday, July 3 LG and I hopped aboard a plane and headed to Washington, D.C.  She was excited, I was excited, and by the time we settled down, our plane had landed and we were in D.C. – okay, technically Virginia since we flew into Reagan, but I digress…my cousin J (whose completion of medical residency this whole trip was celebrating) swooped in, picked us up and asked what we wanted to do. Drop us off at the National Mall and let us do our thing por favor!  So that’s exactly what she did. LG and I soon found ourselves in the middle of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival.  Alrightie then.  We strolled around and checked out a few of the displays and then headed toward the Museum of African Art.  Out of all the museums, I was totally shocked that LG chose that one, but whatever.  We went and enjoyed strolling around looking and various and sundry African artifacts. Then…

We met One From Philly for lunch! For those that don’t know OFP is a frequent commenter around blogland though she does not actually blog.  As has been the case with everyone I’ve met IRL after communicating on blogs/twitter/FB she was good people. We sat around eating and talking about some of everything under the sun and then she headed back to work while LG and I headed to the Space and Aviation museum.  We then walked all the way down to the MLK Memorial.  Have mercy it seemed like we walked back to Virginia – I’m not altogether convinced that we did not.  The MLK Memorial was quite nice.  I particularly enjoyed the quotes that encircle the memorial.  I guess LG was feeling it too because at one point while I was reading quotes my girl stopped walking, threw her hand across her chest and started singing The Star Spangled Banner.  Alrightie then. We wandered around a bit more then hopped into a pedi cab to take us to a metro station – it was hot, we were tired, and we got a bit of a tour on the way back – best $20 I’ve spent in a long time!  We then caught the metro out to Greenbelt and met up with the rest of the family for dinner.  We hung around for a day and a half and then caught our flight to Europe at 10:00 p.m. Friday, July 5.  Oh, part of that hanging around included 4th of July fireworks at the University of Maryland.  Really nice experience.

Let me stop here to do two things.  One to note that there are a grip of Ethiopians in D.C.!  I’ve been on several occasions but never noticed this until this past trip.  Surely D.C. has the largest Ethiopian population outside of Ethiopia?  Too lazy to check right now, someone feel free to confirm/deny.  The other is to tell y’all who all went on this trip.  You ready?

The Mississippi Contingency – LG and me. (LG and I? I’m never really sure when to use me, and when to use I. I digress…)

The California Contingency – My mom and dad

The Arkansas Contingency – My middle brother and his wife

The Texas Contingency – J’s mom, her aunt, her cousin, her niece (9), another cousin (12), my niece (11) and my nephew (8)

The DMV Contingency – J, and her husband C

All total there were 15 of us and we somehow adopted the handle “B-15.”  Yes, the B stands for black.  Moving on…

All of us – with the exception of my parents, brother and SIL, flew from D.C. to Brussels, Belgium.  Those world travelers flew out of L.A. and had a 20 hour layover in Rome, so they got an extra bit of vacation that the rest of us did not. After a few hours in the airport, we were Malaga, Spain bound.  Both flights were fabulous, we had plenty of room to stretch out – I had an entire row to myself and most of us went to sleep.  I’ll let you guess who stayed awake from D.C. to Belgium – an overnight flight that took about 8 hours.  That’s right, my kid.  When I woke up the next morning and went to check on her, the child was staring at the monitor in front of her with tears flowing down her cheeks.  Why?  Because, and I quote, “I’m exhausted mama.”  Well of course you are – you stayed up all night watching movies and playing video games…while I was dead to the world.  Don’t judge my parenting skills mmkay?  Thanks!

Oh! I watched a really good documentary on the life of Miriam Makeba while on the plane. If you get a chance, you should watch it. I hope you don’t think I actually remembered the title ’cause yeah…

Okay. Where were we? Ah yes, we land in Malaga, Spain and after standing in line for over an hour to file claims because we thought ALL of our luggage had been lost when in reality luggage flown in from outside Europe goes to a different area of the airport, we headed to the rental car counter to pick up our rides for the week.  Did you know that to put a Citroen mini van in reverse you have to pull up on the shift stick? Yeah, neither did we. Feel free to imagine me trying to explain in broken Spanish that while we’d love to move out of the way, until somebody showed us how to put the daggone thing in reverse we were stuck. Finally someone understood what I was trying to convey and we were on our merry way.

We were headquartered at Laila Playa in Calahonda, about 25 kilometers down the road from the airport in Malaga. Absolutely gorgeous.

I’d like to pause here to say that the metric system not being used here in the U.S. definitely put us at a disadvantage when it came to figuring some stuff out. I have no idea how far a kilometer is or how much gas is actually contained in a litre.

Okay, we check in, divide ourselves up into 4 apartments and we (immediate family, no cousins) head to…McDonald’s to eat as nothing else is open due to the late hour.  While I’m no McDonald’s lover, I do find it interesting to see what’s on the menu in different locations around the world. In China there was a little egg custard pie. In Spain? Cerveza! That’s right, they serve beer at McDonald’s. The small beer is even on the dollar menu. They also serve chicken wings which everyone said were delicious.

After dinner, we walked on the beach. Until my brother decided we should race down the beach. Which was all fun and games until I face planted in the sand. I’m still spitting out little bits of gravel. Not really. Okay, yes, really.

The next day we learned that the beach – like most (all?) in Europe was top-optional. My nephew spent about 45 seconds gawking at a set of boobs and then went about his business playing in the ocean. I must say, I’m really impressed by the Europeans lack of hang ups about their bodies. Very refreshing.

On our 1st full day (Sunday), we just lazed around the resort. There was a kitchenette, so we went to the store and secured provisions, but other than that, we chilled. That’s right, we chilled. The pool was right outside our door and the ocean was about 50 steps away. So we spent our time watching the short people frolic in whichever body of water they chose at any particular time.

We ended up chilling for three of the six full days we were there. So, Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday were spent at the resort, walking across the street to the grocery store, and eating out – Chinese one night, Indian one night, breakfast at a Spanish cafe one day. All other meals in Spain were tasty delicious treats (not!) that we whipped up in our rooms.

I lied. One of the days in Spain was spent about 35 minutes away from the resort at a bullfight. The same damn bullfight I swore up and down I was not going to? Yeah, I went. And it was…okay. Everyone was all excited talking about pageantry, artistry, athleticism, but really all I saw was a poor bull lead into a ring, stabbed a few times in the back and then killed and drug out of the ring by two horses. It wasn’t as gross as I thought it might be, I just didn’t get anything out of it. I definitely could’ve stayed posted up by the pool. Let me just go ahead and confess – I fell asleep at the bullfight. LG had gotten overheated, so we climbed all the way to the top of the arena where there was a bit of shade. A breeze blew through there and the next thing I know, I’d fallen asleep and LG was waking me up to ask if we could go back down to where the rest of the crew was. My bad. One of the bullfighters really was more of a showman – all dramatical and things – and I enjoyed his two turns in the ring most of all. Did I mention he cut a bull’s ear off and threw it into the crowd? Well, he did. Or so I heard – I missed it ’cause I was sleep. Oops.

On another of our days in Spain – I really should’ve written this down while on vacation – we went way, way, way, way up into the mountains to some fancy dan resort to take a cooking class. Except it wasn’t really a cooking class, more like a cooking demonstration where you could chop a few vegetables or shake the paella pan if you so desired. First up – salad. Can’t remember the proper name, but apparently it’s big in Spain. Parboiled potatoes on the bottom, next layer was frisee, then there were olives, tuna and orange slices. Weird combination in my American opinion, but relatively tasty. Then the chef stood up there and talked about infusion, flavor, etc., etc., and proceeded to hand us some of the blandest prawn I’ve ever tasted. How could you do that much to a small crustacean and still have it taste like nada? Moving on. Paella! Except that wasn’t good either. Y’all. I was so disappointed. Not only did we pay good money for this experience (remind me to never let two practicing doctors be in charge of any other vacations I may take. They can go, but they can’t plan. Our budgets are far, far different), but this was paella – a famous Spanish dish. And it was bad. Whomp, whomp. Next up was dessert. Tiramisu. Outside of the delicious rolls (they really were tasty) the tiramisu was my favorite part of the meal. And I don’t even like tiramisu. The kids had a ball putting it together though I think the chef wanted to pull out the little hair he had left, and it was good. The setting was absolutely gorgeous and we really did have a good time just being together and chillaxing. But the food was bad. Real bad. Michael Jackson.

Here is where I tell you that Spain, or at least the portion we were in, looks a lot like Southern California. At one point we were on the freeway and I would’ve sworn we were on the 210 freeway. Some greenery, a whole lot of oleander bushes, kind of dry. So, nerd that I am I pulled up a world map and it looks as though California and Spain are indeed on the same imaginary line on the map.

Monday we drove to Tarifa, Spain to catch the ferry over to Tangier, Morocco. I was so psyched about this – I mean, it’s Africa. Okay, maybe not the portion of Africa where I’d see anyone who looked like me, but still – Africa! So after our 45 minute ferry ride and getting about a zillion stamps in our passports, we met our guides. Whose names I’ve forgotten. Wait. I think two of the three were named Sayed. Anyhoo, we drove around, had some of the history of Tangier and Morocco told to us, and one small, nerdy child asked if Morocco was a Francophile. Please…feel free to blame Jameil! Moving on – we rode camels, had a snake hastily thrown around our necks (whack ass snake charmer), had lunch at a Moroccan restaurant – the olives were delicious as were the chicken pie (chicken b’stilla) and couscous. Then they told us we were going to the souk (marketplace) to shop. I was all kinds of excited – the only thing I planned to buy on this trip was a pair of earrings, and I figured Morocco would be the best place to buy a pair. Sayed the First took us to a large shop that had everything from jewelry to leather goods to antique chests and told us to shop away. I found a pair of earrings – not nearly as exotic as I was hoping for, but still cute. And then we were told it was time to catch the ferry back to Spain. Say what now? I felt a little gypped in that we didn’t really get into the souk to haggle with and purchase from the vendors in their stalls – instead we were given a slick, touristy experience. Ah well. Still enjoyed it, but I do think my biggest regret of the trip was not having more time to wander around in the souk. I’d definitely like to spend more time in that part of Morocco if ever given the opportunity.

Some other day – I’m thinking it was Friday – we all piled into our various rides and headed over to Gibraltar. Gibraltar is a British territory – a peninsula which shares it’s one land border with Spain. We toured St. Michael’s Caves – an underground maze full of stalactites, went to some sort of military museum, and the highlight – interacted with the famous Barbary macaques. Yep, apes. There are approximately 240 apes on the peninsula, divided into 6 family groups. They are used to humans – tourists – and being so close to them was a trip. I fully confess – I’d prayed long and hard that none of them saw fit to jump on me. My prayers were answered. My cousin and brother must not have said the same prayer – both of them ended up with apes on their shoulders. My cousin screamed. My brother was thoroughly amused and he and his ape bonded I believe. The apes were walking around snatching bags of potato chips from unsuspecting tourists, nursing their babies, going through women’s purses, and snatching caps off of men’s heads. I was so tickled to observe it all. Gibraltar really is a bit of England right across the Spanish border. The accent changes, the language changes, the money changes. Just a really cool little spot in the world. We lunched on fish and chips. I’ve had fish and chips in England. They were good. These were not. I don’t know why our food experience on this trip was less than, but it was. Ah well.

I think that’s it? We flew back to the U.S. on Saturday and arrived in D.C. on Saturday. (Parents, brother, SIL left later that day, flew into New York City, spent a day, then back to Cali…and Arkansas). The Houston crew flew out early Sunday morning and LG and I flew out early Monday. Finally arriving in Jackson at around 1:30 or so.

The trip was great – I really enjoyed traveling with extended family and getting to hang with my niece and nephew for a good amount of time. We don’t see them nearly as much as we should and I’m going to work on that. They’re great kids and seeing them and LG play, fight, and make up just made me happy. I’d love to go back to Spain and experience it more than we did. Get into some of the smaller towns and experience life away from the resort.

Things I wish I’d done differently in preparation for this trip:  exchanged at least some money before I got to Spain. The hotel could exchange money, but they were forever running out. One of the three banks across the street exchanged money, but we didn’t find that out until well into the trip. I was forever running out of Euros. No bueno. I am also setting up a dedicated travel fund and making sure that the ATM card for this fund can be used internationally. In Europe, there’s a chip in cards which we don’t have here. So…some cards work in some places and others don’t.  I also need to find some sort of sunscreen that my skin can tolerate. I wore a maxidress on the beach…and still ended up with a heat rash that has only now begun to go away. I cannot imagine what I’d be dealing with had I put on a bathing suit and exposed more of my skin.

Things I’m glad I did: packed light! LG and I each had one rolling carry on bag and a backpack. That was more than enough. I washed clothes twice while we were there and that was a relatively hassle free process. I cannot lie – had we flown directly to Spain I probably would’ve packed more as each passenger is allowed one free checked bag on most international flights. But, the thought of paying for a bag helped me cull down our packing list and we weren’t constantly wrestling with a bunch of bags. So glad we traveled light. Also glad that we took our tablets. I was a little concerned about dragging them all over the place, but keeping up with them wasn’t an issue, and having the entire 2nd season of Suits downloaded helped me catch up on the series and gave me something to do when my internal clock was thrown off and I was wide awake at 2 in the morning. And when LG wanted alone time away from the other kids, her tablet kept her occupied.

I think that’s it!

I will post a “pictures with captions only” post a little later on. Cool? Cool.

Until then, here’s the one pic I have on my cell phone – if we’re friends on FB, you’ve already seen it. This is me – on a camel – in Morocco. The baby camels were adorable!  I think a pic of LG petting them is forthcoming ;)

 

 

 

 

WWYD – Travel Edition

So y’all know LG and I are going to Spain this summer right? Right! You know we’re excited, right? Right!

Here’s the deal:  this is a family trip. In addition to LG & I, my parents, one brother and SIL, my niece, my nephew, and some extended family are making the journey. The plan is for us to all arrive and depart on the same dates. However….ticket prices have increased more than we originally thought when we decided to go on this trip.

So LG and I can:

A. Stick to the original plan, arrive and depart on the same date as the rest of the crew, pay around $1500 per ticket.

or

B. Deviate from the plan, arrive two days earlier, pay around $1100 per ticket, book a hotel room for about $50 a night, and meet up with the family (and change hotels) when they arrive two days later.

What would YOU do? Would you stick with the pack – safety in numbers and all that jazz or would you seize the day and travel halfway around with the world with a…spirited 8 year old and limited Spanish skills?

What do you think I’m going to do?

 

 

 

I Ask, You Answer ~ Vacation Version

  1. Are you going anywhere for vacation this year?  Have you already been on vacation?
  2. Do you have a packing list that you use to help you plan your vacation wardrobe?
  3. If your trip includes lots of walking, what type of shoes do you prefer?
  4. If you travel internationally, do you take your tablet, your cellphone, or both?
  5. What type of souvenir do you usually purchase for yourself?
  6. Do you prefer laid back, relaxing trips, ones where you pack in as much activity as possible, or a combination of the two?
  7. How many pairs of shoes do you pack for a one week trip?
  8. What was your favorite vacation?

 

Homecoming 2011

A few random thoughts from my short trip to the Bluff this weekend:

  • I’ll never skip the game again.
  • Who are these people?
  • Good googley moogley – everybody’s gained weight.  I have to squint to recognize folks.
  • New fitness goal: remain recognizable.
  • Next time Baboo da Que throws a party, skip it.
  • I am so glad I went to UAPB.
  • I am so glad I don’t live in Pine Bluff.
  • Why do people think this two-tone plastic helmet hair looks good?
  • Why do all these old men keep asking me to dance?
  • Being on the dance floor when “Freaky Tales” comes on is a mistake.
  • Did this chick just say I was sitting in her chair? Yeah, okay.
  • Aisha’s chicken is just as tasty now as it was when we were in school.
  • I think I’m going to invent myself a line dance.
  • Next year: get a room, stay two days, make Smoochy take a day off and join us!

I managed to take one picture. Of chicken. From Aisha’s. Don’t judge me!

Nom nom nom

I’m Baaack!

Y’all!  I had such a loverly vacation.  Alas, like all good things it had to come to an end, so here I am back at work.  Sigh.  But, I’m thankful to have a job, so I won’t complain!

Christmas in Cali was good, real good.  We had a few moments of family drama, but that’s par for the course!  The biggest issue?  My oldest brother making us all late for church…yeah, we get it in.

Anyhoo, three out of the four of us were home.  I was especially excited that Lovegirl got to play with her cousins – they all seemed to have a good time and Lovegirl and my nephew are particularly smitten with each other.  It was great for them to have that time together.  I am definitely planning to hit the road to Houston more often – it makes no sense for us not to see them more frequently.

We hit the Aquarium of the Pacific, Mountain High for a snow day, and more shops in between than I am willing to discuss!  My middle brother’s girlfriend is a shopper like you would not believe!  She puts all shoppers I know to shame.  I didn’t buy much – a tank top from The Rack and a jacket from Ross.  That’s it.  Packing carry on luggage is definitely good for the wallet!

My parents treated me to a mani, pedi and Thai massage for one of my Christmas gifts.  Have mercy!  If you have never had a Thai massage might I suggest you get one post haste?  The masseuse walks on your back, kneads you with her elbows and knees and pushes and pulls you into a loose relaxed puddle.  It hurt.  And it felt good.  And I’m definitely putting Thai massage on my list of things to do when I’m home.

Smoochy got me an iPod Touch.  I didn’t even know what the thing was.  I sent P a text message and was like “I’m not sure I want this…”  Yeah, a few downloaded books and games of Words with Friends later and I am hooked!  All I wanted was a nano to help me get back in the workout swing of things.  I’m so glad Smoochy went above and beyond.  If you want to play WWF, I play as….get ready….Nerdgirlms

Lovegirl was the recipient of all things noisy this year – a Paper Jamz guitar and a karaoke machine.  She is loving them and the various and sundry dolls, plastic toys and pajamas she received.

Right about the time we were tiring of fun in all the non-existent California sun, it was time to come home.  We came back on Saturday night, I washed clothes and my hair last night, and today here we both are at my j-o-b.  I’d like to send a special shout out to the geniuses who decided that the kids don’t go back to school until Wednesday…

Pictures you say?  If you insist: 

 

Anyhow, that about wraps it up.  How was your Christmas?  New Years?

I lied. One more thing.  On New Year’s Eve my parents, Lovegirl, and I ended up at the home of their pastor where we played charades.  Everyone was asked to choose one television show, one song, and one movie for others to guess – men v women.  When it was one lady’s turn she looked dazed and confused.  She didn’t know which of the categories her clue fell into.  So all the men came up to see if the clue was theirs and to help her out.  It ended up being my father’s.  It was a song.  Which song you ask?  So glad you did.  For his song my father chose…get your mind right for this one…”From Cairo to Benghazi”  o_O

Okay, now I’m done!

Lions, Tigers, Bears and Other Randoms. Oh my.

  • Whoo darn hoo!  I have scored not one, but two pairs of new boots!  In case you couldn’t tell, I am ridiculous with excitement!  Do you know how hard it is to find a pair of decently priced boots in my size?  Well trust, it is.  The best part?  They were CHEAP!  I scored two pairs of tall, leather boots for less than $80!  Dear 6pm.com:  I love thee.
  • I have decided to travel using only carryons when Lovegirl and I go to Cali for Christmas.  At first I was like “I’m checking bags – I don’t want to drag bags and Lovegirl through various and sundry airports all by myself.”  But now I’ve decided the challenge of jamming everything in two small bags and saving $$ on checked bags is well worth it.  I found a slide show some stewardess did on packing in a carryon and am going to follow her lead.  You can check it out here:  http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2010/05/06/business/businessspecial/20100506-pack-ss.html.  I don’t generally overpack, but I like to know I’ve got room in my bag to bring stuff back.  I guess this will help squelch any impulse shopping urges I may get.  Do you overpack?
  • I mentioned this on FB this a.m., but I’m seriously considering dressing up for Halloween for the first time in my life.  If I decide to dress up, I’ll be dressing up as none other than Phaedra from RHOA.
  • I slipped up – a lot – on Operation Buy Nothing ’til December.  But it’s going into full effect beginning November 1.  I shall buy no clothes, accessories, etc. for myself until at least the end of November.  For real this time.  For real.
  • The Chipmunk has been talking about moving out of state.  Hope springs eternal!
  • Recently, the University of Missisippi changed its mascot from Colonel Rebel to the Rebel Black Bear (couldn’t find a pic).  I was telling my Mom that my alma maters were now Lions (UAPB), and Tigers (JSU), and Bears (UM) oh my!  I find that hilarious.  My mother on the other hand wanted to hang up in my face. 
  • My quads?  They are a burning.  I think this challenge is gonna get me right!  And I’m looking forward to the day when I can walk totally upright and pain free again.

Mmkay, that’s all.  Maybe something earthshatteringly awesome will happen on my daily 15 minute walk and I’ll be back with more interesting blog fodder.  But I doubt it.  All I’ll see are large women in cut out tops, dudes whose sole purpose in life is to be the next Wacka Flacka, and butt cracks galore.  And that’s just the employees – don’t get me started on the patients’ families!  Holla.

21 – Another Moment

One of my favorite  moments was doing the Cupid Shuffle on the Great Wall of China with my parents, middle brother, and his girlfriend.  I was still in awe that I was in China (though our trip was nearly over) and thought that our dancing (and singing) was just a great way to commemorate that portion of our trip.  Some travelers brought a special bottle of wine to mark the occasion.  Others took professional-grade pics.  Me and my people?  We did a line dance! 

I’ve posted the video before, but some things?  Bear repeating.  And the fact that my father who we told of our plans numerous times still decided not to learn the dance but participated anyhow?  Priceless!