Monday, November 30, 2015


So the second question I get a lot about cruising is, “What do you do in the ports?” And generally the answer is, “Usually nothing. I stay on the ship.” To which that person is either aghast, incredulous, or completely okay with it. And here are my reasons why …

Most of the time, I’ve been to these ports. And most of the time, the ports are in the Carribbean or Bahamas. And unless you’re going shopping or to the beach, they’re all very similar. And none of those port activities particularly interest me. Sure, sometimes I book an excursion that interests me that involves a Segway tour or a medium hike. And I always get off in an Alaskan port, because that’s my favorite. But generally, unless it’s a new port to which I’ve never been, I stay on the boat. And that’s because …

The ship is sooo quiet when most of my fellow cruisers are off the boat. The Rainforest Room is empty as is the adult pool and hot tub. The movie theater is empty and the dining rooms are quiet. In fact, the entire ship is quieter. And I like quiet.

And finally, I don’t cruise to get somewhere. If I wanted to visit a particular port, I would get there as quickly as possible and stay there. I cruise because I like being on the ship. I like the attention and care and pampering that I receive. That’s a vacation to me.

So, today we docked in Cozumel. I didn’t get off the ship. But it was a great day to be here!

Thankful today for: peace and quiet on the ship; shrimp and more shrimp; beautiful day

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Sea Day!!

Today was a lovely day at sea. Last night’s ride was a bit bumpy – just the way I like it (that would be bumpy while on the sea, NOT in the air). It sort of just rocks me to sleep. After breakfast at Cabanas, I headed for the Rainforest Room for a little hot tub and warm lounger time. The girls joined me and the morning melted into lunch. The rest of the day involved food and drinks and movies. And naps, of course.

Some ask me why I cruise (question number one – question two will come tomorrow). The answer is because I can do nothing and anything and everything with very little effort. There are activities in which to participate, there is a clean room and several other spots in which to nap, there are pools and splash areas in which to get wet, and there are plenty of places in which to obtain a bite to eat. I don’t have to think hard about it or spend time getting to any of it – it’s all here within a five minute walk. Someone cleans my room twice a day and generally everyone is pretty happy to be here. Especially me!!

My home away from my cabin - the beloved Rainforest Room!
Thankful today for: wonderful day at sea; rest in the Rainforest Room; movies and dinner and naps - oh my!!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

I See The Ship!!

Today is the day our vacay starts!! Molly and I were up and ready to go – well after we dropped off the box of Black Friday purchases that needed to be mailed home (stuff that was needed, just not needed on this trip). Soon we were on our way to the port, after a stop at the airport to pick up Katie and Jessica (previous cruise mates turned family). They stopped to pick us up some breakfast, and soon we were on our way.

Just a short ride later we arrived at the car rental place to turn in the car. The last time Molly had a rental to return at the port, it took 45 minutes for her to catch a ride to the port. Today the cruise fairies were with us, and we got out of the car where a rental employee met us, she checked us in, and then directed us to the front of the building to await the shuttle (the last time Molly had to call for a cab). Sure enough, within 10 minutes we were on our way to our home for the next week.

We checked in and waited to board the ship. Once onboard, we headed to our rooms to dump our bags, and then to lunch. The rest of the day was spent getting settled (unpacking our stuff), taking a nap (in the Rainforest Room), and having a bite (or maybe several bites) to eat. The ship is decorated for Christmas and very festive – looks to be a great week to be on the ocean!

We were obviously third in line to leave the port!!

So long Florida!!  See ya next week!!
Thankful today for: hotel hosts that took our FedEx box; picking up Katie and Jessica at the airport and their bringing us breakfast; quick service at the car rental place; Molly's check-in buddy at the port; getting on the ship!!

Friday, November 27, 2015

Friday - Not So Black After All

So apparently Black Friday also means Thursday night shopping, so today proved to be quite easy. Molly and I needed to pick up a car at the airport and Steve had a golf date, so all three of us went to the mall when it opened. I actually managed to snare some new sneakers (calling them running shoes seems a bit daunting) for an amazing price (as did Molly and Steve). Once that was complete, Steve dropped us off at the airport for car pick-up (our choice of transport to the port tomorrow). Once that was complete, Molly and I decided to head for the Animal Kingdom.

Usually AK is the least busy of the parks. If the crowds there today are any indication, the other parks must be crazy busy. There were tons of people everywhere. Once we had done what we wanted to, we decided to leave and head back to the hotel. We needed to get our things together for our boarding the ship tomorrow (Molly had purchased a new suitcase so Steve could take her other one to get repaired). Eventually we ended up at Bongo’s for dinner and then got back to the hotel in time to meet up with Steve and call it a night. Tomorrow begins the real vacation!

Thankful today for: shopping with Steve and Molly; picking up the car and running errands and going to MK and Bongos with Molly; getting things together for the cruise!


Thursday, November 26, 2015


Remember my recent tirade about all things Black Friday. Well, guess where I’m headed today – down to Orlando with Molly and Steve for Black Friday. I know – I am all that and more.

Again, I don’t do Black Friday. I just go because I have an alternative agenda (and I fly free with Steve). So while they do their shopping thing, I will be in the hotel napping and whatever else comes up (which won’t be eating a big meal, since everything is closed on Thanksgiving). Do I wish I were at home, watching the parades and putting up my Christmas tree? A little. But this is what I’m doing – this year, anyway.

But no matter where I am, I am very thankful this year for a year full of blessings. Blessings of family and friends, good health, trips here and there, and a life full of joy and love. If you are reading this, then you are one of those blessings. And I pray that in spite of all the hardships that come our way, that somehow we remember those blessings that come our way in between the bad times. Because in the end, those blessings are the things that sustain us and keep us moving forward.

Happy Thanksgiving!

In case anyone in the airport
was curious as to my destination ...

The view from our room - Sea World.
Which I shall not be visiting ...

Thankful today for: safe, smooth, flight to Orlando; room ready upon arrival; quiet lunch in the hotel


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Doiksgiving Plop

Since we won’t be together tomorrow for Thanksgiving, we decided to celebrate it tonight. Molly said she would cook the dinner in her crockpot, which would be a recipe she saw. Basically it’s Thanksgiving Dinner in a pot. Although I do not know the actual procedure or order, the premise is to put all your Thanksgiving meal components into a crock pot and cook it all together. This is a great idea if you are a Thanksgiving meal component combiner, but a horrible idea if you prefer your components to stay separated in their own little personal spaces. Welcome to Davidson Doiksgiving.

In the pot (as much as I remember and probably not in the correct order) were regular mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, Brussel sprouts (not a Davidson staple, but in the recipe and also a Molly staple), cornbread dressing, and turkey (and maybe some other items). The turkey is a turkey breast, possibly cut up, and it cooks along with everything else (if you want this actual recipe, contact me and I’ll pass you along to Molly).

It all got cooked, and Molly brought it over for us to consume, and it actually tasted quite good. Some critics suggested that it needed more seasoning and/or gravy, but for my bland food preferences, it was delicious (possibly tainted by the fact that I had to do nothing and since I do enjoy all my food in a pile, it was right down my do-nothing alley). We declared the meal a success, and Molly has now named her dish Thanksgiving Plop, because that was basically how it was served – scooped out of the crock pot and plopped onto our plates.

And that’s what I love most about Thanksgiving – being thankful for my family who loves each other enough to be together to enjoy a meal – plop and all!

Thankful today for: Lindley and Everley time; Molly preparing Doiksgiving meal; family time


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

A New Door!!

Fresh off the heels of yesterday’s successful little library project, I was all pumped up about home projects. Thankfully I had already contracted professionals about today’s project – replacing the upstairs door. Let me explain …

Many moons ago when we purchased our house (and one of the main selling points) was that there were stairs leading to the attic. And by stairs, I mean a legit set, right by the front door that looked like it would lead to an upstairs. In this case, the upstairs was an unfinished attic that you could stand up in, but was unfinished nevertheless. Since we had three bedrooms and two bathrooms, we didn’t need the space, but liked the idea that there was space if (a) we ever needed it, and (b) we could ever afford to do anything with it. Unlike those House Hunter shows, when we buy a house, we barely have enough money leftover to purchase a can of paint, much less redo anything.

Anyhow, back to the door. The original door was great and served its purpose. While the upstairs was unfinished, the kids would go up there from time to time and play (it had electricity, just no heat or ac). The only problem with the door was that it opened onto the stairs instead of into the upstairs, mainly because the pitch of the roof was just as you walked into the room, and couldn’t accommodate a door opening into the room.

Fast forward several years (and an additional income), and we scraped together enough money to turn the upstairs into actual living space. We hired Sketchy Brothers Construction Company (advertised as “We Be Cheap”) and proceeded to allow them to makeover the upstairs (and subsequently disappear to some other city). We could only afford for them to put in walls and an HVAC, so any change to the roof line was not affordable. We kept the door for awhile, mainly because that was the only door upstairs. Eventually we took the door off (because opening the door required one to step down a few steps, open the door, and proceed up the stairs without falling down the stairs) and eventually replaced that door with a bi-fold, which meant you could open the door easily without falling backwards down the stairs.

All was good, until the recent remodel where we were able to pop out the room and really snazz up the upstairs (which was done after all the kids had flown the next, which they still question our timing). We kept the bifold door, because it seemed to work. At least until Minnie and Maggie cats figured out they could open the bifold door with just a little bit of concerted effort. Even this would not be a problem, except for the fact that one or both of them enjoyed going upstairs and finding a certain corner in which to poop (yes, they have a litter box, but they are cats – need I say more?).

I tried to remedy this situation with Velcro, failed door latches, stern lectures, and more Velcro, to no avail. Finally I called the professionals who had several suggestions, most of which I have already tried. We mutually agreed that a new door would be in order, one that actually closes with a doorknob, a skill that my cats have not yet mastered (yet that I am sure are contemplating). The good news is that now, with the popped-out roof, the door can open to the inside. Why I didn’t think of this when we were doing the remodel, I don’t know. Sometimes I don’t think as well as other times …

Anyhow, the professionals came with the door (that had to be trimmed to fit the short door) and within a few hours had it installed and ready to go. And I could be a little paranoid, but I think I saw the cats watching every their every step …

Thankful today for: nice door installer dudes; Sarah and Melvin saving me a seat at Lindley's Thanksgiving program; Lindley performing in her program; seeing Lindley's classroom and meeting her teacher

Monday, November 23, 2015

LaLa's Little Library

A few years ago while doing our 3-day training, our group came across a “little library.” For those of you who don’t know, a little library is a small box put outside a home. The box is filled with books, and passers-by are encouraged to select a book and read it, either right then and there, or by taking it home and reading it. I thought it was a great idea, and thought I would like to have one some day.

Fast-forward a few years, and it seemed like the time was right to get this project started. I looked around at possible DIY plans, but decided against that – figured the eventual cost (mental, physical, emotional, and financial) would be exorbitant. I went to the best source I knew, Etsy, and studied a few different vendors.

I eventually chose a builder from Mississippi (my home state) who had several projects that he had completed in Mississippi State colors (that would be maroon and white). We corresponded back and forth, and a few weeks later my little library arrived in the mail (well actually in a huge FedEx box, but you get the idea).

The next step was installation. The little library came with installation instructions, which I naturally skimmed and put to the side. My first choice was for Molly to contact her friend Ashley, who does all kinds of DIY home projects, and ask her to install said library. Molly did, and Ashley said she would – on Wednesday. Of course I was impatient and would have preferred her to come right over that minute and do it, but since the alternative would be for me to do it, I agreed that Wednesday would work.

And then today turned out to be a beautiful clear day and library installation thoughts began to flood my poor little addled brain – after all, I had steadied and improved the mail box – certainly I could work wonders with this project. I started out by asking the family if anyone had a post hole digger (I was fairly certain that we had had one in the past, and perhaps had passed it along to someone). Alas, no one had a digger. So, off I went in my wee little car to Home Depot.

At HD, I had a list – a post hole digger, a bag-o-cement, a post on which to mount the little library, and some screws to secure the library to the post. The first two items were easy to procure – mainly because there wasn’t much of a choice to make. The main thing was selecting the post. First I looked in the mailbox section and really didn’t find anything to my liking. I wandered about in the wood/fence areas and finally came upon some mailbox posts and decided that I would go with the one that had a cross bar on it. I managed to heave it into the buggy, get the requisite (or so I determined) screws, check out, and wedge it all into my wee little car.

Once home, I had the foresight to pre-drill the holes in which I would be securing the library. Mainly because I knew my lengths of electrical extension cords would not reach from my house to the little library location (I am old-school and do not have one of those fancy big-battery drills). Once that was obtained, I got the digger, the concrete, and the post and headed outside (in several trips, mind you).

I knew that I wanted the library in the front yard, not too far from the street and driveway, but safe, and under a tree. Several hole attempts later, I found the location (mainly because it was the first place I attempted the hole where I did not run into one of the tree’s mammoth roots). I started the hole, and what seemed like years later, I actually had a hole that met my requirements (which I had questionably decided upon by some whackadoodle process inside after pre-drilling the holes). Anyhow, I dropped the post into the ground and started dumping the concrete in.

I had actually also brought out my level (mainly because the enclosed library instructions suggested it) and actually made sure the post was level (more or less) as I dumped concrete in. Once I decided it was level (more or less), I poured in the water, mixed it all about a bit, checked the level again, and decided all was good. Now all I had to do was wait for the concrete to set.

And so it did. I finished off the bottom similar to what I had done for the mailbox. Then I mounted the library onto its new home, filled it with books, and declared LaLa’s Little Library open for business! Now to see if I ever have any patrons …

Yup, that's where I live!!
Ready for checkout!!
Thankful today for: fun times at Home Depot; successful installation of little library; super-terrific little library and dude who made it; beautiful fall day; chat with neighbor about little library; Everley time

Sunday, November 22, 2015

I Got It - Black Friday Is Coming

I can accept, and even enjoy, the Christmas television ads that are popping up on television. But the blatant Black Friday ads? PLEASE STOP THE MADNESS!!

Sure, I get it that BF is coming up and it’s the biggest shopping day of the year and blah, blah, blah. And I get it that there are some really great deals that are happening on that day. And I get it that it is one of the days that people look forward to all year. But really, is it necessary to publicize it with such great ferocity?

Maybe it’s just me, or my television. Maybe it’s like my facebook, which seems to know what I have been shopping for online, or even looking at, and manages to slip some ads into my newsfeed. Maybe my television senses that I harbor some interest in BF, and is seeking to pique my interest even more. Or at least tempt my wallet …

I do not intend to participate fully in BF. By that I mean that I shall be accompanying Molly and Steve to Orlando, where they shall do their BF thing (okay, so I’m really going because Molly and I are getting on a cruise on that Saturday). And yes, they will probably text me things that they think I might be interested in, as they flit from store to store. But fully participate in the madness? No thanks.

Anyhow, back to the BF ads. It seems that everytime (and it seems quite often) a BF ad airs, the person on it is screaming BLACK FRIDAY every other breath. It hurts my ears and my brain – and probably ultimately my wallet.

So I guess I could just turn off the ads, but then I would miss the Christmas ads – you know, the ones where everybody opens the gifts, and the grandpa opens the baby sneakers; or the one where the brother comes home as a surprise and makes coffee; or the ones where the Clydesdales do whatever it is they are doing this year.

Maybe I should just go find that 24/7 Christmas carol radio station – they don’t do ads, do they?
Thankful today for: pedis and movie with Molly; beautiful fall day

Saturday, November 21, 2015


Because both her parents had to get to work early this morning (and I would have Everley all day), Everley spent the night with me last night (Steve is in Arkansas for the MSU football game). Everley likes to make up her own songs, so I thought I would share today's creation, all about mommies. And who loves them. Which is apparently girls and not boys. 

Later, after Mathieu picked up Everley, Sam and Lindley came over. Sam had texted me, saying that he would be over in a bit - Lindley wanted her straggly remaining front tooth out, and Sam was trying to accommodate her.  He was being unsuccessful, unless you count success as stressing Lindley out by continuing to try to pull the tooth. He gave up the tooth quest, and they both came over. One look at Lindley as she walked in the door gave you pretty much her mood - like the world could go ahead and come to an end, if her stupid tooth was going to do nothing except sit in her mouth and cause her agony. I managed to convince her to let me try - but to no avail. I managed to get her to drink ice cold water in an attempt to numb her gums/tooth and maybe let me try it again. It worked to earn a second try - it did not achieve success in getting the tooth out. In my expert, 3-kid, tooth-yanking experience, this tooth was not coming out today.

Sam left to pick up dinner and a Sonic blast for Lindley (as a prize for letting us try to pull the tooth, and hoping that again, the cold would numb her gum for a potential future pulling attempt). Once the blast was delivered, Lindley promptly dug into her prize. On her second bite, she uttered a wail and showed us her spoon. And yes, her not-coming-out-today tooth was in it! I guess she froze it out and finally "let it go." Whatever - life for Lindley quickly became ice cream and cotton candy again!!

Thankful today for: Everley's songs; Lindley's bravery and willingness to let us try to pull her tooth; Lindley's tooth finally falling out; Lindley and Everley time

Friday, November 20, 2015

Flower Girls

Part of yesterday's cleanup yielded the flower girl dress that Maribeth had worn in her cousin Tricia's wedding. The wedding was 27 years ago when Maribeth was 3 or 4. I kept the dress because it was so cute (and for some reason have kept it hanging in my closet all these years). I also kept the pink basket and flower headband for a long time, but time was not kind to either of them (apparently time eats away at certain materials). Did I ever think Maribeth would have a daughter that would want to wear it? I'm not sure Maribeth ever wore it again after the wedding, so I certainly expected the apple (if there were any) not to fall far from the tree. Fast forward 27 years ...

Maribeth came over as I was finishing up my "clean up and out" project. I showed her the dress in order to see if she wanted it (and therefore it could be stored elsewhere). Everley happened to be in the room at that moment, and saw the dress. Of course, she wanted to try it on and wear it - as she did for the rest of the day (only taking it off after she dripped popsicle on the dress, which came out in the wash). She also decided she wanted the daisy flower headband (from the Bridesmaids Cruise this summer) on her head, and happily spent the rest of the day being a flower girl.

So I guess it was good that I kept this little dress. Because today, it has brought me joy - a whole lot of joy!!

Thankful today for: little girls and flower girl dresses and daisy headbands; Everley time and sleepover

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Does It Bring Me Joy?

Maribeth and Lynnette (I think) have recently read/heard about/skimmed the recent book about decluttering/cleaning out. I would tell you the name of the book, but I'm not really sure the name of it, and I certainly would hate giving you the wrong information. Basically what I've gleaned from their comments about the book is this:  to clean out/declutter your house/living space/life, first you get all that you have of something, and go through it piece by piece, asking yourself, "Does this bring me joy?"  If it doesn't, then get rid of it. That might not be the actual message the author is trying to convey, and there is certainly more to it than that, but since I prefer simple, easy to follow messages, that's what I'm going with.

So today I decided to clear out my closet. I think you're supposed to actually go with a category (like clothing) and get everything that falls in that category, but I decided to buck the system and go with a space. Like my closet. So I unloaded everything in my closet onto my bed, the thought being that I would go through all my clothes (and this is to include all your clothes from every nook and cranny of your home).  I deposited everything onto my bed, which ended up looking like this:
Maggie Cat could have been included in the process,
but she does bring me joy, so she was a keeper.

What a cleaned out closet looks like.
At first, it was a little bit worrisome. I would pick up an article of clothing, and consider it. Some were easy to discard. Not only did it not bring me joy, it actually made me feel dumpy/yucky wearing it. Some were worth considering, mainly because they had tags still hanging on them - okay, so they were Old Navy/Target on-sale tags, but still tagged. Some were worth considering because I "might need them one day and/or might fit into them one day." At first, I would put some to the side, but after awhile I ended up putting those in the discard pile, too. After a while, I realized that it was time to keep those things I actually currently use and get rid of the rest. Once I got through the hanging clothes, I went through the rest of the things on the bed that also once resided in the closet. Once the bed was clean, I went through all my bureau drawers and did the same thing. Once I was finished, I had five sacks and one box of things that went straight to Goodwill. Did I think about what was in the sacks? Maybe once - and it wasn't even a thought of regret. It was almost a thought of relief.
The clothes I kept. When your job consists of doing this and that,
you really don't need a lot of fancy duds ...
At the end of this task, it was nice to know that what I had left would actually be used. And besides, if I ever truly do need/fit into something I don't currently have, I believe there are stores that might have just what I need!!
Thankful today for: closet cleanout; MB's help in decisions and taking a few things; Everley time

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Tree Is Not Up

My Christmas tree is not up. I'm not sure if that makes me normal or abnormal, but luckily Christmas tree erection is not a major stressor for me. The good thing is that I have time to observe other people's Christmas trees and decide if they are for me. Which also makes a good blog post with photos ...

Bubba's tree ...  Possibly in the front yard ...

Edible Christmas tree - now we're talking!
And easy cleanup!!

That's a lot of cholesterol for a tree ...

I think this one would make me cross-eyed.
Or my OCD would make me crazy!

I'm sure Steve would love to donate his ties for this.
Or not ...

Molly actually accomplished this one, and it looks quite nice.
Mine, however, would have about three balls on it.
Because I got bored after three ...

I guess this is an "easy to recycle" tree ...
Anyhow, according to my calculations, I still have a few weeks to put up my tree.  Or at least decide on an alternative ...
Thankful today for: 90 minutes with Nikki at Massage Envy; Lindley time

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Waspy Time!

Last week I discussed my disdain for the stink bugs that were invading my space. And I mentioned the wasps that were bound to come. And today I saw my first one. Or should I say Minnie Cat saw it and alerted me to its existence.  Here's how it goes ...

In the South, we know all about wasps. We know they're pesky little critters who cause a big ruckus because they sort scare us. We know they probably aren't going to sting us like their yellow jacket and bee counterparts, but we're still a little wary because we don't know for sure they won't sting us. And we usually encounter wasps in the summer, when we're all hot and bothered and they're all hot and bothered, and we don't know for sure who is hot and bothered the most.

And then there's fall/winter in Nashville. This started a few years ago, and I've had several pest control people out to discuss this issue. They were of no help, except to say that it's no big deal. Here's how it happens ...

A wasp shows up at my windows, usually the living room and/or den. The wasp (singular) is not hot and bothered. In fact, it looks slow and sluggish, almost drunk. I never know where it comes from, because it is inside my house, and the doors and windows are all closed. Various pest control personnel have assured me they come from some leak in my house - but nobody can find it. Anyhow, the drunk wasp moves about, weaving around, staring at the outside through the window. Eventually it passes on to the great wasp hive in the sky - either through drawing its last drunken breath or at the paws of Maggie Cat. Each week a few wasps will appear and repeat this pattern until eventually no more wasps show up - either the word got around that it was time to hibernate or they found some other place to spend their last days.

Apparently today is the first day of wasp season. Maggie Cat watched the first wasp of 2015 for awhile until she got bored and moved on. I'm not sure where the wasp went - at last sighting it was headed for the fireplace. Oh well, I'm sure there will be another tomorrow!!
Thankful today for: ankle improvement; helping Maribeth install new microwave; finishing the laundry; quiet day at home

Monday, November 16, 2015

Back Home

It's always great to sleep in my own bed after a trip. And it's a lot of fun, if you know your bed has been used in your absence. In this case, Maribeth and Everley had used my bed on Friday night. The only family members left in town on that night were Maribeth, Everley, Lynnette, and Lindley, and they decided to all stay at my house (this was because Maribeth was going to work early on Saturday and it was easier for everyone to stay at my house, since Lynnette would be in charge of both Lindley and Everley). Anyhow, the point is that Steve and I have one of those softness/hardness adjustable beds (that's probably the first generation of that type). Steve keeps his soft and comfy and I keep my side firm and sturdy. However, Maribeth is like her father, and I told her to adjust it as she wished - to which I forgot until I heaved myself into bed, and almost sank to the floor (at least in my opinion)! I quickly readjusted the controls, and soon I was fast asleep.

Yes, it was good to be home, especially after yesterday's Davidson travel fun (you really didn't expect the trip to end on a routine note, did you?). After I finally limped back to the hotel room after the race, I had about 90 minutes to shower and change before we were supposed to be out of our room (that would be at 11am). The Super Shuttle to the airport was going to pick us up at 11:50 for our flight out of LAX. Everything was going fine - I had elevated my feet for awhile, taken a shower, gotten dressed, and was in the middle of finishing packing, when Molly looked at our SS confirmation. Apparently I had put in the wrong flight departure time. I had put that our flight was leaving at 2:50pm instead of the actual 2pm (and who knows when I made that SS reservation and how many times I had changed our flights since then). Anyhow, Molly and I began to question whether or not we would be making our flight, if we were going to be picked up at the 11:50 time. With race day traffic and LA traffic in general not knowing how many stops and where the SS would be making after our pickup and the distance to LAX, this didn't look too good.

We got all our bags and headed outside. Molly called SS and talked to someone who said it would be impossible to change our SS to an earlier one. We decided to just take a taxi (think $$$) instead and be sure that we could make our flight. We got to the airport in plenty of time to check our bags (we came with two carry-ons and were leaving with four, but thank you Southwest for not charging to check them). We headed through security, where the x-ray dude pulled our bags because he saw something suspicious in them. Of course we knew what they were - our race medals, which show up weird under x-ray. He pulled them to the side, and ignored them for 10 minutes. He also didn't bother to call for anyone to inspect them - I guess he wanted the three agents standing around to finish their conversation. Eventually he mentioned that somebody should check our bags, which they did, including running the tell-all swab around everything in our bags. We were deemed okay to travel, and headed to our gate.

Well, we started heading to our gate, only to figure out that it was the "down the hall in the back" gate that we had passed by. So we turned around and headed there, and came upon another 160 people waiting for their Southwest flight. To Nashville. That was a nonstop (ours wasn't going to be). The waiting flight was delayed an hour or more. Molly went to ask if we could go stand-by on it, which we could, but it would cost $260 more each, and if we got on, we would probably board last, which would mean sitting in the worst seats possible (which would be the last two seats on the plane that nobody wanted). We decided to stick with our original plans. And then because the flight that was delayed was not going to leave until ours was, our gate got changed - to the other end of the airport.

That was no problem, since our flight was late getting in. It was even later getting to our gate, because while the airport told us to change gates, they neglected to tell the pilot that our gate had changed. But soon it arrived, deboarded the passengers, and we started loading. While everyone was getting on and finding a seat, the lady pilot got on and apologized for being late, and then said the words that I want to hear from the pilot - "There are rain showers over the mountains, and it was really bumpy coming in." Yippee. She then partially made up for it by saying that she has a lead foot and was going to try to get to San Antonio (our first stop) really fast (which she did). But my hopes for a smooth flight were dashed.

Soon everyone was boarded and we took off. And I braced myself for a bumpy ride. Of course, I prayed to God that He would find us a smooth ride and push those rain clouds away. And do you know what He said to me? He said, "Don't look out, just trust in Me." And so I did. Every time I wanted to check on those rain clouds and/or the mountains, I just kept repeating His instructions. I told myself to keep doing that until He told me to look out the window. And I did when He told me to, and there were no rain clouds to be seen. We made it to San Antonio with no problems, and landed just in time to get lined up for our flight home, which was a little lumpy, but was okay.

I don't know if I will ever really like flying. But I do know that every time I get on a plane and am up in the air, I am never alone. I don't know if a flight will be bumpy, lumpy, or smooth. But I know that the One who controls everything is with me. All I have to do is listen and trust. Just like I need to do every day of my life.
Thankful today for: taking Everley to school and chatting with her teachers; Molly going to the doctor and getting meds for her cold; lazy day of doing nothing

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Well, That Was Fun ...

Today started with a repeat of the previous two mornings - get up, get dressed, head to the start line. And soon we were off, this time for 13.1 miles. The race started off running around the two parks, then out on the streets of Anaheim, out to Angels Stadium, and then back to Disneyland for the finish.

All was going well, at least for me, until the middle of the race, Mile 6.5. Part of the course is on a dirt path. I was doing fine until my crazy right foot/ankle hit something and my ankle decided to roll/twist/turn. And it was a good one! It was so good that it involved my hobbling to the other side of the path (the side I was on was next to a fence) and sitting down. The racers that are in my part of the race are all good eggs - we all have the same goal of finishing. So, as I sat on the ground, they were all asking if I was okay (and a few even stopped). I assured them that I was (one even told me how to get to medical). At that point I had a decision to make - to either stop and find medical and quit the race, or keep going. Decisions, decisions ...

But, because rolling my ankles is a fairly regular occurrence (I wear ankle braces religiously during a race, but they are not foolproof), I knew I could keep going (never mind the intelligence of such a decision). All I had to do was wait for the initial stabbing pain to subside so I could walk. Eventually after about five minutes, the pain was manageable, so I got up and started where I left off on the course. Fortunately, the medical dudes on the bicycles hadn't found me (I'm sure the racers who passed me told the medical dudes about some fat old lady who was sitting down a ways back), so they didn't impede my progress. At the next water stop I downed my other two Tylenol (another regular practice during a half-marathon), hoping they would kick in.

As for my ankle? Sometimes it felt normal and other times it ached a bit. But I rationalized that it would be okay, since it was secure in the ankle brace. I kept going, getting slower and slower until eventually I crossed the finish line. I eventually made it back to the room, where Molly had already finished and we got ready to leave for the airport.

Did I learn anything from today's race? Probably. I probably know more about smart things I should have done, but I prefer to ignore those things. The thing is that I kept going and finished. And while it may not have been the prudent thing to do, I did it anyway. I think this super hero race may have gone to my brain!!

Thankful today for: new RT shirt that was perfection; seeing Tammy pass me as we left Disneyland; nice racers when I took my seat; seeing Sharon after Angels stadium; finishing the race and getting the challenge medal

Saturday, November 14, 2015

10K Day!

Today's agenda consisted of the Captain America 10K. Just twice the length of yesterday with the same start time. Again, Molly took off ahead of me and we met up in the room. We ditched our medals and bibs and headed for breakfast. Along the way we found Tammy and Sharon, two ladies we met a few years ago at a Disneyland race. They both live in California and we stay in touch through facebook and our mutual love of Earl of Sandwich (which happens to be where we saw them). It was great to see them and catch up for a few minutes before we headed off for brunch (unfortunately, while they were eating at Earl's, we had opted for somewhere else, which proved to be a terrible decision). Of course, I didn't take a picture of us together - guess that will have to wait until the next DL race (until I get them to come to Disney World for a race there).  The rest of the day we took it easy - we had used up our parks tickets. Molly is in the middle of a terrible head cold/cough, so she needed the rest (and to take appropriate meds). Besides, tomorrow is the big deal - the Avengers Half Marathon!!

Passing by Paradise Pier on the way to the eventual finish.

Finished!  Thanks to my Captain America shirt!
Thankful today for: 10K race and finish; last minute expo shopping; helpful ice wrap dude

Friday, November 13, 2015

5K Day!

Avengers 5K complete! Thanks to my Iron Man shirt that
I got at Target after Halloween for $7.
My outfit was mild compared to the other participants.
One of the cool things about Disneyland at Christmas is
that they completely transform Haunted Mansion into
"The Nightmare Before Christmas." It's really amazing!

This morning we got up early for the Avengers 5K, which started at 5:30am. The best part of races at Disneyland is that you can get up and walk to the start. As in get up and out the door at 5am, as opposed to 3am for Disney World races. And so that is what we did, arriving in our start corral in plenty of time for the start. The race was uneventful and quick through the back sides of both parks. Of course Molly took off and never looked back (well, maybe once or twice as she sped away), but we eventually met back up - in the room. The rest of the day was spent napping and going to the parks. We had planned to stay for Fantasmic, but in the end decided not to stay awake. Oh well, another great day at Disneyland!!
Thankful today for: fun 5K finish; going to the parks with Molly

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Expo Day!

So today was the day that we were supposed to report for our "secret mission." Which basically meant that we were getting early access for race shopping and packet pickup. The only downside? We had to be at the expo at 6:30am! Which really wasn't a big deal, since the expo was within walking distance of our hotel, and by our Nashville body clocks, it was really 8:30am.

Anyhow, we made it to the meeting spot and got our neck tags that signified that we were "special" people. Our group went into the race souvenir shopping spot and started shopping. Of course, Molly and I had no intention of really buying anything - except then we found a lot of really cool things, so of course we did. We justified it (as if we needed to) by saying that we wanted to make sure it was worth coming a day early!! We also had our photo made with a few of our Avenger friends!

After we were through shopping, we had a few hours to kill before we were scheduled to go to the next thing - picking up our race packets. We managed to spend that time having some breakfast and then shopping at the World of Disney store (in case there was some stuff to get there - and there was). Soon it was time to meet with our peeps at packet pickup. Basically, we were all directed to one of the meeting rooms, where we were treated to our race packets/shirts already there - we just had to present our waivers and pick up our stuff. We were also given a free RunDisney small rolling suitcase, and treated to coffee, juice, and various pastries. Of course by this time, we were so happy we came a day early!!

 By the time we had finished all of the above, it was time to return to the room and dump all of our new stuff. We had tickets to the parks, so we went there for a few hours before returning to the room for a nap. We returned to California Adventure later in the evening for some Boudin bread bowl soups and to watch "The World of Color." By that time, it was time to turn in for the night. Tomorrow is the 5K!

Thankful today for: secret mission fun and perks; shopping with Molly; bread bowl soups and watching World of Color

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

We Made It!!

After yesterday's fun with airline and hotel reservations, who knew how today would turn out? And it turned out just fine. I had a good flight out, got on my Super Shuttle, arrived at the hotel and checked in, and enjoyed the room for a few hours. Molly had a good flight (flying first class - so what would one expect?), got on her Super Shuttle, and arrived at the hotel some time after 10pm.

I was very hungry when I got to the hotel, so after dumping my bags in the room, I decided to have some dinner. After seeing the lines at all the other restaurants, I opted for the hotel quick service place. I scanned the menu, and decided on the grilled chicken sandwich. Which had this huge slimy thing on it. It looked like a banana, although Molly assured me was a pepper, once she saw this photo. Needless to say, I scraped it off before consuming the sandwich.

Our room overlooks Downtown Disney, and are able to see the Disneyland fireworks from our room. Molly was on her shuttle about the same time, and saw them as she was getting in. Finally her shuttle pulled up to the hotel and I met her in the lobby. Once we got to the room, we were both ready for bed (since our Nashville body clocks told us it was way past our bedtime). Molly wasn't hungry, since apparently you get plenty of food when you fly first class, so it wasn't long before we were both snoozing. Besides, we wanted to be ready for tomorrow morning - after all, isn't that the reason we're here?!

Thankful today for: My and Molly's safe flights to LAX; super shuttle rides to the airport; great room location and watching the fireworks

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Davidson Travel In Motion

So Molly and I each got an email from Run Disney that said, 
You've been selected for a Secret Mission with an elite group of Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend Participants.

To enhance your runDisney experience, we're making the following exclusive services available to you on Thursday, November 12th. We invite you to join our mission experience free of charge, and should you elect to participate, we'll be asking for your feedback for future opportunities at runDisney Events.
Basically, we were part of a group that would be able to enter the expo early, shop early, and get our registration stuff without having to wait in line. The only problem was that we would have to be available at 6:30am on Thursday. Our flight wasn't scheduled to leave Nashville until that time, and we wouldn't be at the expo until 11am. What were we going to do?

So of course, we decided to go early on Wednesday night. Molly called and extended our hotel stay to include the earlier night (and thankfully she did, as she found out that our hotel rate was wrong - like twice the amount - but she got that fixed). Then came the fun part.

We were flying Southwest, so changes to our flights were no problem, without any kind of penalties. I changed our flights to Wednesday night, late enough for Molly to put in a full day of work. The flight wasn't a nonstop and we weren't getting in until midnight, but we would be there on Wednesday night.

And then Molly found two other flights, one on United and one on Delta, that would get us in earlier, and were basically the same amount as the change for our Southwest flight. But we would have to make sure that we wanted to go on those flights, since those flights would incur penalties if there was a problem.  We debated and debated, and decided to go Delta.

So I cancelled the Southwest flights, which again was no problem, because we would be able to use the flight credits for future flights. And then I discovered (as I was messing around with some other Southwest flights) that the credits for the flight I just cancelled would expire in early January. And I had no real flights planned until then (at least not any whose flight credits wouldn't expire until after that). And so, if I proceeded with my current Delta flight, then I would lose a large amount of Southwest $$$.

So, I cancelled my Delta flight (which you can do without penalty in the first 24 hours of booking Delta) and rebooked my Southwest flight. Except that, since Molly was going to stay with Delta, I could go anytime. Which meant I could go on the nonstop Southwest flight that would leave Nashville after lunch.

Meanwhile, Molly discovered that she had some Delta miles and could upgrade her flight to first class with her Delta points. But she couldn't do it with her current Delta reservation. So she cancelled her Delta flight (again, without penalty) and rebooked it. And then upgraded to first class with her points. So, she would be getting to LAX around 10pm, nonstop, and first class. Win/win/win for everyone!!

Now, here's to hoping that our hotel reservation has the right rate attached to it ...
Thankful today for: fun with Southwest and Delta; Molly getting hotel reservation fixed; Lindley time

Monday, November 9, 2015

Just Another Day At The Office

Okay, so I don't technically have an office. But if I had one, this would be a good one. Today was my regular blood donor day.

My last donation was on September 11. A few weeks later, I got an email from the Red Cross that said in part:
Thank you for giving blood with the American Red Cross on 9/11/2015. After first ensuring that local needs were met, your blood donation was sent to Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston Salem, NC to help a patient in need. Your donation is on its way to change lives!
I don't know who my blood went to, or how it was used. But it's cool to think that I actually did something that might have helped someone else. It makes my day seem like I really did something.

Especially since I don't really have an office ...
Thankful today for: Red cross blood center and pre-registration; chatting with handyman about changing door

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Headed Back Home

Since Dollywood didn't open until 2pm today, and since some people had school and work responsibilities tomorrow, we got up and after one last swim in the pool, loaded the car and headed home. We stopped for lunch before leaving Pigeon Forge, stopped at Walgreens for more DVDs for the ride home (remember that we didn't pack a sufficient amount on Friday), and then drove the back roads to eventually end up on I40-W (this to avoid the huge traffic jam in PF - and thanks to Molly and Waze). We stopped once for a potty break and gas (and perhaps a meltdown based on not purchasing chips from the store) and rolled on into Nashville (perhaps with a nap by a couple of the van's inhabitants). After depositing everyone at their respective domiciles and/or personal automobiles, I went home to unpack, wash clothes, and catch up on the few days I was gone.

Steve is in South Carolina and will head to California tomorrow. Sam is in Nashville and will head to California on Wednesday to meet up with Steve. Molly and I will leave on Thursday to head to California (although not to meet up with Sam and Steve). Lynnette will head to California on Saturday (although not to meet up with any of us). Sam, Molly, and I will return on Sunday, but not on the same flights - well, Molly and I will. Steve will stay in California for a few days, as will Lynnette. In other words, typical Davidson travel.

Eventually everyone will return home. At least for awhile. Because that's what Davidsons do.
Thankful today for: OG lunch with the girls (well, most of them); Molly's Waze way home; safe travel to Nashville; fun at the gas pumps with Everley; sleeping in my own bed

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Dolly's Christmas Lights!!

This morning everyone managed to get up, eat breakfast, and get on the shuttle - eventually. There were many people at the resort who were also going to Dollywood, so we had to wait for our turn. Lindley and Everley managed to entertain themselves by tossing coins into the fountain - and making some secret wishes.

Once we arrived at Dollywood, we set out in search of Christmas fun. We found it by making candles, decorating cookies, and watching Lynnette blow glass. It was a fun, great day, even with the sprinkles of rain that came throughout the day. We left to return to the resort after lunch, and Lindley, Everley, and I had some pool time while Lynnette and Molly went to the outlet mall. Once they returned, we headed back to Dollywood to see the lights at night, and ride the train (where perhaps some people took a little snoozer) and sing carols along the way. We closed down Dollywood for the night, returned to the resort, and headed for bed. What a great day!!

Making wishes while waiting on the shuttle.

One of the best things all day?  Jumping in rain puddles!
Thank goodness we brought rain boots!!

First stop was dipping candles.
Without getting burned by hot wax.
We were successful.
Some people did not want to get a photo with Rudolph.
Luckily there was a coloring wall nearby ...

Next it was time to decorate the cookies.

NetNet was available for consultation. And selfies.

Artist #1 at work.

Artist #2 with her completed work.

And then it was time to sample the completed project!

Artist #1 also sampling ...
Meanwhile, Moo makes a new friend ...

And so does NetNet ...
Which led to new shirts/hoodie for some.
And new gloves for others (who didn't want a shirt/hoodie).
Including the one who did not wish to be in the photo.
The back story is the hour it took the three adults to choose the shirts/hoodie ...
Lynnette needed to learn how to blow glass to make her ornament.

And she was successful!!
Look for her on Pinterest soon ...
Back at the resort, we found a nook.
Luckily for world peace, there were two ...
Someone managed to pull the plug and darken the tree lights.
But Moo came to the rescue and saved Christmas.

And then there's the stairway railing pose.
With new gloves, of course.

On the last shuttle back to the hotel.
On one's own personal bench.
With one's own personal seat belt.

With some personal caroling.
Everyone was not a fan ...
Thankful today for: fun times at Dollywood and all the Christmas decorations; pool time with Everley and Lindley; night time lights at Dollywood and fun train ride