Two Things Are Certain

Hmmmmmmm for everyone's sake it's a good thing today is a nice day. I couldn't stand to pay taxes on a cold wintry like day in April.

Oh well, I got a truckload of other important things done today. Made plans for the weekend, did a little scrap booking...I should finish 2003 by tomorrow.

 Cooked a couple of meals, learned how and what to do for the stinkbug infestation upstairs....thank you google.

Ordered Melissa some music for POP GO THE SAILORS.

And I got started on the middle floor today. I’m cleaning, de-cluttering and sneezing in no particular order. I put some white lights, baskets, old tins, and greenery on top of my kitchen cabinets in 1997. I took it all down today. I've come to the conclusion that being a collector is only profiting one industry. Dust. I'm done. The only thing I'm collecting any more is memories. You can't take it with you.

So yeah, there's death and taxes. Lovely. At least, I still have menopause to look forward too. Hope you all had a nice day.

Let's go Red Wings.


Lost Episode

You may want to scroll down to Day 1 and read these in order; sometimes I don't make any sense when I am blogging daily...so it's kinda scary to blog backwards.

I'm not sure what day this happened but just like Christmas decorating has rules, there is a certain beach etiquette and definitely lines you don't cross!

One day on the beach, after everyone had headed to the condo pool, I was laying face down with my eyes closed; I may have even been drooling.

When to my surprise a family of 4 or 5 started to lay their blankets down within my beach space bubble...at least 20 feet around any towel grouping is no man's land. They have a couple of bratty kids that think feeding seagulls is more fun than jumping into the Gulf of Mexico.

For crying out loud, the beach is practically forsaken by the locals...move it on down. And for pity's sake, if you do invade someone's space have the decency to not stand around and yell to all your yuppie friends, "We're over here, we're over here!" They can see and hear you; you have a microphone attached to your larynx.

And why is it always the type "A" control freak, personality that has the loudest vocals. Discipling everyone's children, making dinner plans, scheduling all activities, and using his cell phone to relay every move he made to some poor soul back in Minnesota that must have been some kind of sadomasochist.

Then the biggest faux paux of all was talking business on vacation. He knew how to run fortune 500 companies, not his own, just random companies.

When I couldn't listen for one more second I gathered my things and headed up to the pool. I found an empty chair and soon I was lulled to sleep by the strains of sweet 6 and 7 year olds playing Marco_____Polo.


Trailer For Sale Or Rent

The most relaxing, rewarding, refreshing, and calming vacation I've ever been on is making its way into my memory bank.

This quaint trailer park that I have called home for the last 6 days is in actuality a curious, out-of-the-way collection of eccentric characters from all over the U.S. They come from Canada and a rash of northern states.

They start out driving their mini-vans down for the winter. The telltale sign is the variety of license plates that claim: Hoosier State, Land of Lincoln, The Garden State.

Then their plates carry the universal sign for handicapped.

The bicycles that once had two wheels now have three.

They shuffle board together.

And once a week they potluck in the clubhouse. I went to that once and dubbed it "Dinner with the Characters."

They started out as snowbird couples. Now some come alone. Life is just that way.

The population at the trailer park won't change much in the next decade. The replacements will move in and take over. It will be a gradual change. It's called the circle of life and I don't like it that much.

Heaven must surely have 3 things, no 4, for me to call it home. Beaches, sunrises, sunsets and loved ones.


Day Six And Seven

All good things must come to an end ...

Our last full day was about the most relaxing of all. We hung back at the trailer until later in the day. Used the pool, read, relaxed, and were just plain lazy.

Gram and Grandpa joined us for our last rendezvous at the beach. We shopped, walked the boardwalk, and decided to eat at the Beachouse to catch the sunset.

Met up and said our goodbyes to the Mona Shores families. The entertainment was a one-act musician that sang mostly typical songs.   Carolina, We're Coming To America, Fools Rush In, Annie's Song, Fire And Rain, American Pie--bye bye.

Grandpa got up and danced by himself to Boot Scootin Boogie.

Ran down to the beach to take a few last photos, I already have the title (and subtitle) for this year's scrapbook: Julee, Melissa, and Mary's Big Adventure/ Spring Break '98. Don't ask, it just sounds better than Spring Break '04.

The next morning we got up at 6am to head back to the beach once more. Melissa said it was to look for sand dollars, but I think she just wanted to say she went every day. No luck with the sand dollars, but the sunrise was like winning the lottery.

The minute we got back M & M fell back asleep and then we hung at the pool to soak up the last rays. We defy all odds and skip the sun block. Hard core.

Before we know it we're taxing down the runway. Thankfully we did not have to sit by the cheerleader girl and her teen-age wanna be mom. While eavesdropping on their conversation in the terminal, we learned this child's schedule from the day after her spring break until her 1st child was to be born. Why can't parents just let kids be kids? I would never interfere in my child's life, like that--I would use sneaky ways of control and come around through the back door with my control games.

 Besides life is too short to schedule everything. Another uneventful flight and within 15 minutes we have our luggage, pizza ordered, and heading back to Jennifer and Ben's apartment.

We catch up on American Idol, chat with Jen and my head starts to jerk back and forth like on the Paris flight. I hear my name being called over and over. Not until I finish my pizza, wash the sunless tanning lotion off my face, and tell all goodnight did I realize that is was Jen's bed calling my name. We sleep in on Thursday morning; take Jen out for breakfast, grab our winter coats and we are

 Homeward Bound.


Day Five

Today we partied on the beach with Larry, Sue, Amy & Casey.

That family is just about the nicest set of folks I know. I am so looking forward to cultivating some friendships, now that work does not occupy most of my time.

Those guys and the Wiseman’s are just fun, interesting, humorous, vivacious, and have personality traits that do not quit. It's like I want to date them. I know, weird!

We didn't want to crash their beach party for too long and I think Mary might be coming down with a slight case of sun poising.

So home to dinner; Mac’s and cheese, baked beans, and hot dogs, we kept it healthy for desert with banana splits.

Our evening consisted of the basketball game, a round of shanghai, and a late night swim.

To be continued...


Day Four

How could they hail him as King one week, and merciless crucify Him on Friday?

Spring forward fall back!

Slept in until 8, which was really 9. Melissa and Mary a few hours more. Grandpa and Gram head for church and my mind wanders again. (Thankfully, I've never lost my mind when it wanders!!)

The ripple effect of last night's reminiscing causes me to ponder the long reaching and everlasting consequences of a life lived for Christ, not self. All the twists and turns in my parents’ lives can only point to one thing ~ God was driving the car most of the time. They were compliantly riding shotgun. Grandpa obediently searched and questioned till he found the biblical answers he was looking for. Grandma packed up a suitcase and her parents put her on the train to Chicago. Because of her obedience she ended up rooming with grandpa's sister (Hi Aunt Evie!!) and working for the Gideon’s who have placed millions of bibles in the hands of students and hotel guests.

Oh sure, there will come a time in all our lives when we make wrong choices. God doesn't have a plan "A" only, and if you miss it, you're fired. Yes, you do have to pay the consequences, but after they're paid (or even during the payment plan) you can always toss the keys back over to Him.

I am always amazed and encouraged by the boundless and infinite love the Father has for his children. And I am forever grateful that my parents passed their legacy of truth down to me. It's more than a story; it's the gospel truth. It's a great train; you ought to get on it.

Well, by now, the church choir of birds has finally awakened Mary and Melissa and we discover that the busiest day at the beach will be today. We stay until Melissa gets a shade darker and Mary's pink starts to turn red. They are invited to the Mona Shores shrimp boil and I relax with the locals.

I pick a book from grandma's library. Titled, One Tuesday Morning, a novel about 9/11 and finding a loving God through disastrous circumstances.

M & M get dropped off around 11:00pm and the three of us lie on my bed and discuss eternity, friendships, school, and why vacations cause people to not be quite as annoying as in everyday life. We need to get some sleep; tomorrow is another day of sleeping late, lounging around, and driving to the beach.



Day Three

Mom and Dad wake super early to drive Ardy and Ariel back to Orlando.

Man the sacrifices those two make to compensate for all the mistakes us kids make. Becoming self-employed does not provide a steady paycheck and I absolutely could not have done spring break without a free place to crash.

I can't thank them enough for semi-retiring in warmth and sun and for all their hospitality without grumbling.

Melissa, Mary, and I get to sleep in because all was quiet again by 7am. I am now a firm believer in packing light. By all accounts, for spring break you need: jean shorts, white pants, T's, flip flops, 1(one) other pair of shoes, and your swim suit. Enough is enough.

After a light breakfast, packing the cooler, and connecting with some other families from school, we wait for our ride to return and soon we're off to Anna Maria Island.

Melissa and Mary hear all the latest from the two days of school they missed, including who made chamber choir, and rumors of budget cuts. Two applications of sunscreen later, all the condo people invite Melissa and Mary up to the swimming pool...and so I am left to myself and my mind starts to wander as it so often does.

The late night talk with my sister-in-law about teenagers, boundaries, love languages, and plain old mother-child relationships causes me to reflect on how I'm doing as a parent. Better late than never.

In hindsight, and I hope somehow I've portrayed this to my kids...I did the best I could and I actually believe our parents did so also. I studied the books, listened to the experts, and experimented with Ben, sorry son!

In the end, it all comes down to one small word: example. If I made smart choices ~ they would follow my lead. If I didn't let the "sins" creep into my life; selfishness, materialism, lack of respect, pride, gossip, exaggerations (lying) ~ they would hold those areas at bay in their own lives.

If I spent more than I made ~ they would feed into that lifestyle and expect more than they deserved. If I procrastinated and got lazy ~ they jumped on that bandwagon immediately.

So in the long scheme of things I have come to believe that; #1 Children learn what they live. And #2, the sins of the father will somehow affect their children.

Later that evening, the neighbors heading back north, dropped off a spaghetti dinner and Grandpa told the girls the story of how he came to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Grandma chided in with how God brought the two of them together in, of all places, Chicago! It is quite a story, and both girls were eating it up like candy. More on that later.

The NCAA gets narrowed down to deuce; strawberry shortcake for desert and that was my 3rd day in Florida.


Day Two

Pancakes and bacon, white sand, turquoise water, sunscreen SPF 100, breezy and warm, waves crashing, clouds nowhere, peanut butter and jelly, horizontal and drifting in and out somewhere between vacation and heaven, lather, rinse, repeat for 6 days.


Day One

I contemplate playing a "flight's been cancelled" April fools joke on Melissa, so, thankfully I pretend to check our flight status and I discover that the correct departure time is 1:05p not 10:50a.  I hold off on that prank, but a plan begins to formulate in my mind. We discuss ways of getting to the airport, besides Jen taking us, and opt to stay with the original plan.

Have I mentioned that I love Midway in Chicago...it is just so doable. We have a big breakfast at Harry Carey's, do a little airport shopping, find our gate, and begin the wait. I could people watch all day, so it doesn't seem long until they're calling our seat row. After getting situated I begin watch the guy in front of me pull the headrest towards his head and miraculously it stays put.  I try mine.  Instant pillow. I quickly flashback to my nine hour head jerking trip to Paris and wonder if all modern planes have this luxury.

Sleep does not come easy because of Mary and Melissa's constant chatter about 6 full days of beach and sun. My plan to April fool her starts to take a nasty turn. Now to set up the joke fully, I must describe the characters that will play the parts. I'll start with grandpa and grandma. They like to do things certain ways and who can blame them? They have just entertained my brother's family of 5 for a week and we heard nothing but exciting stories including a day trip to Disney. Then they traveled back to Orlando to pick up my sister-in-law and niece so they could spend 3 days while waiting for their cruise ship to sail.

Let me see, we each had a suitcase and a carry-on, and I never did get a final suitcase count from the other relatives, but I say all that to say this...it's ok to say, shoes go here...makeup goes on the left of the bathroom sink...we'll take your suggestions into consideration but we'll pick the restaurant. AND sleeping arrangements have been predetermined. Long story short, I'm a little worried about Melissa getting to the beach EVERY day, because I want to meld my schedule into theirs. Foremost in my mind is April 1st, as I start my sermon to Melissa that consideration and respect to Gram and Grandpa might mean using the trailer park pool instead of the beach!!!

She understands the consideration part but she's having nothing to do with the pool vs. the beach. After touch down in St. Pete/Clearwater, we head to Bradenton via the Sunshine Bridge, and past the Pittsburgh Pirates spring training ballpark where Grandpa belted out the national anthem a few short days ago.

We eat supper and catch up with Ardy, and then I pull Gram aside to give her the game plan. She doesn't want to comply, at first, but when I tell her Melissa has fooled Mark and I every year since she was about 5, she jumps on board. Gram starts in with everyone on the "rules" of the trailer, then she talks about how tired she and grandpa are this year and that the pool is just going to have to do.

It almost sounds like we're not going to the beach at all. Melissa's face starts to turn a pallid shade of white. Then grandpa jumps in and says this is just the way it's going to be and that the pool is going to be good enough. Melissa is now looking somewhat horror stricken. Aunt Ardy takes the side of the pool and says how you don't get all sandy and that the water temp is set on about 98.6 degrees.

Finally Melissa sheepishly starts to ask for at least one day at the beach and we can't hold out any longer...April Fools. I finally got her good and it's close to midnight, by now, so I don't have to worry about any repercussions. It's good to be me and in Florida.