Monday, December 29, 2008

I need to get it out

We're home from a 3 day trip to Michigan for celebrations with my side of the family. We had a good Christmas. We had a good time. But then wouldn't you know it... Monday morning rolls around and my head is swirling with all kinds of thoughts about "what did she mean when she said?" "why can't we have an intelligent conversation about politics without berating people?"

Why is family so difficult? I mean, we had a great time with them - we really did, but then the day after hits and I try to figure out if I said anything wrong or offensive and why other people have no problem offending me.

And then I've been having an internal struggle for the last few days... I got some wonderful things for Christmas gifts, but I didn't get the few things that I really wanted. So internally I'm being a big brat. A big brat. And I really hate that. Its my own fault - I made my list too big. When I was putting it together, though, I didn't realize that I really wanted these certain things - I only realized it throughout the month as I was looking forward to Christmas and thinking, "I really can't wait to get my new Ipod Shuffle and my new Calvin clothes." Not sure why I assumed I would get them - I did - but I got other stuff off of my list instead. And like I said, its my own fault so I'm mad at myself for making my list too big.

And then I'm mad at myself for caring. I want to live a simpler life with less stuff... but then when I have a chance to get some stuff that I want, I turn into a brat about it. Truly, it shouldn't matter. So I have an internal battle with myself almost constantly. And it gets emotionally exhausting to do so.

Back to family... I just went and apologized to my brother-in-law for something I said. I made a joke at his expense at our party yesterday. Everyone laughed and he even acknowledged that it was a "good one", however, it was still at his expense and I feel bad about it. Why do we do that with family? Why is it okay? Shouldn't we be sensitive to them just like we are to others around us?

Family stuff is difficult for us for the simple fact that we think so differently than everyone there. I'm not saying we're better than anyone, just that on every single topic of conversation Dave and I think entirely different than all of them (sister, brother-in-law, cousins). We have really good conversations with my parents - they listen and are able to discuss with us, but not so much with the rest of the family. So we opt to shut up and not be a part of the conversation at all.

The big problem for us is not that we disagree with most of them, but that we don't feel comfortable talking about our opinions and thoughts because we feel like we'll be attacked, ganged up on and ultimately made out to be inferior. A lot of it is our own problem with our perception of things, but some of it is the way they act - the combination is difficult for us. They simply cannot understand our point of view because everyone they know shares their point of view for the most part.

So we come home feeling somewhat disrespected - but recognizing the fact that we opted to stay out of the conversation to begin with. The whole weekend is a balancing act - trying to be ourselves, yet trying not to be the outcasts and weird ones of the group. Sometimes it is simply easier to not "go there" than it would be to start the argument and end up feeling inferior. But then I get to spend today trying to decipher and process the weekend... hence the blogging to get it out of my head;)

Friday, December 19, 2008

An Alexander Day

Today was a no good, horrible, very bad day - and I should just move to Australia.

I will chalk this up as a day that I hated. A day that I am very not proud of. A day that leaves me questioning.

I'm asking God if I will always, forever, for the rest of my life struggle with my relationship with Nora. Will it always be like this? Is it just her age? Please, God, tell me it is just her age because I will be heartbroken if we - me and her - are always like this. She is a good, good kid. She is so loveable and sweet and kind and loving and many other good adjectives. But I struggle so much with her and I can't even identify why. God, what am I to learn with her right now? I need to do some changing somewhere in some way because I cannot be with her the way we were today for the next 40-50 years. God, teach me how to relate to her and how to love her in the best way for her. Help me to understand rather than to be understood. Change me.

And God? Did you really make ME to be a mom? Because sometimes I feel like it was a mistake. Sometimes I feel like with my personality I just wasn't supposed to be a mom. I'm not supposed to be smothered or have every minute of my day have a sound. Why am I a mom when I need silence and down time so badly? What am I doing wrong? How can I change this? Because today was a no good, horrible, very bad day. I love my girls. I adore them. But I feel very inadequate and unable to do it all the time - why doesn't it seem like other people feel like this... I know they get frustrated with their kids, but I feel like I'm the only one who feels smothered by it all.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

This Christmas

I am loving our new approach to Christmas and the holiday season this year. I feel so much more laid back and relaxed and able to enjoy what it is really about this year. It leads me to be very appreciative of the financial situation that has prompted these changes.

A few observations:

* We decided that we would only do three gifts per child this year. A friend told me that she only does 3 gifts because Jesus received 3 gifts - gold, frankincense and myrrh (don't judge me for my spelling). I thought this was a wonderful idea, because really... who thinks they're better than Jesus that they need more gifts than he got? So cutting down to 3 gifts for our girls has been amazing! I found that my list turned into a list of things that they would actually play with and enjoy throughout the year instead of my usual list of things that I thought they should have or should like to play with. A definite shift in focus for me. So they are each getting two gifts to play with, books and a gift from Santa (technically that is 4 gifts, but Santa's does not count).

I have alternately felt very happy with the situation and very inadequate and upset. Ultimately, though, I love it and think it is a great change that we will stick with in the future.

* We are doing our advent things and starting new traditions. We have done our advent wreath each Sunday and have been able to talk about Hope, Peace and Joy with the girls. Granted Ryann and Georgia are more interested in blowing the candles out, but they are getting the foundations and are remembering the names of the candles.

In addition to the advent wreath, we began our nightly Adore-naments last Sunday night. These are the 12 ornaments that correspond to 12 names of Jesus. There is a reading with each one - and I AM LOVING THIS!!! We sit down as a family every night before bed, light the advent candles - rename them and talk about the meaning of each one - and then we do the reading on a name of Jesus. So far we have done Immanuel, The Door, and The True Vine. This has given us a unique opportunity to talk about what each name means and to discover how it applies to Jesus.

Last night, Nora read about The Door. This was the first time that she has read scripture - at least in my presence. Tears welled up in my eyes as she spoke of Jesus being The Only Way and the only Door. What a memory. Never in a million years did I think I would be one of those moms who got teary over such a thing...

* Dave had all of these neat family outings planned for each weekend during the holiday season. The first weekend was the weekend after Thanksgiving and I was just too tired - emotionally - from some conversations over the weekend and I asked if we could skip it that weekend. He was disappointed, but understood. The next weekend was 14 degrees and was impossible to think about bringing the girls out in that kind of cold weather.

Last weekend, though, was in the 50's so we went to Long Grove, IL and had such a wonderful time! We went there on a whim two years ago and loved it and were excited to go back. I had wanted to go the previous weekend because they were having Santa and some Dickensian Carolers, but it was just too cold. We were able to do some shopping and get some treats - popcorn for the girls, coffee for me and some giant gingerbread cookies - like we had promised. AND we went on a horse and carriage ride where Nora got to actually drive! She told us it was the best day - EVER. I think they really enjoyed it... there's not a ton to do other than walk through the little shops, but its just a cute little town thats fun to be in and be a part of. And any time that we spend together as a family hanging out like that is so great.

* BFWW and I were chatting this morning about Christmas and buying gifts. We were discussing the reciprocity factor in buying gifts - someone buys you something and you feel you must buy something of equal or more value than they gave to you. I have to say, this year has humbled me in that respect - knowing that we simply cannot do it has been a blow to my pride. Granted we have not ever been truly reciprocal with some people - our parents spend way more on us than we could spend on them - but we have set a standard of an amount that we normally spend and we're not able to spend even close to that amount this year. I have been waffling between knowing that they understand where we are and what our situation is and feeling somewhat embarassed at the measly gifts that we are giving them this year.

In the course of the conversation, I was talking out loud about how I wish Christmas gift giving could be revolutionized. Could we please change it to buying gifts for those whom we truly want to buy gifts for out of love instead of buying gifts for people out of obligation? I LOVE to buy gifts for the people that I'm close to, but I definitely stress out about buying gifts for people that I don't know very well but am obligated to buy for. I would like to shop for someone with him/her in mind, knowing exactly what he/she would love and be able to buy it - no set budget... if it costs $10 and they love it, it would be as good as if it cost $200 and they love it. I don't know, I guess I get discouraged by obligations vs. authentic relationships if that makes any sense.

* We received a Harry & David's gift tower last week. Fricken' baklava. Thats all I have to say about that.

* Dave received a Christmas card in the mail today from one of his clients. It had a $100 gift card to our local grocery store in it. He was a little upset... these are good clients of his, they live near us and they adore us. While he was very appreciative he felt like he couldn't accept it because he gets paid to help them with their finances. When he called to thank them for the gift they told him that instead of buying each other gifts this year, they decided to spend the money helping out some young families that they know - and we were one of them. Now, I loved these people before this, but holy cow - this made me cry. To know that they thought of us in that way and loved us enough to help us is almost overwhelming. To know that God is providing in ways that we don't expect and through people that come as a big surprise is amazing to me.


How has your Christmas season been so far?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Enough

Not sure where this is going to go or how long it is going to go...

I guess I'm just wondering when does a person decide that enough is enough? Like how much money does one need to have before one realizes that its enough. And by the way, I already think the word enough sounds funny since I've written it 5 times already.

I've been following the state of the economy pretty closely - well, if by reading the newspaper and listening to talk radio = closely. I've also had many interesting conversations with people. I've been appalled at the bahavior of public officials, of corporate ceos and the opinions of some of those that I hold dear...

In MY opinion - why in the heck does a corporate CEO feel it is necessary to earn multi-millions of dollars each year, receive a hefty (multi-million dollar) bonus each year, + stock options and other fringe benefits? I mean really, how much money is enough? Does one NEED $10 million dollars each year? And what about the people who are commanding that salary and at the same time are laying thousands - or hundreds of thousands - of people off. What is that about? Seriously, how much money is enough? I had a conversation with someone who's response was, "Why shouldn't he make as much as he can make?" I'm not sure that my jaw was able to be picked up off of the floor.

There was an article on CNN.com about how the CEO of Merill Lynch asked his board of directors for a $10 million dollar bonus this year because - get this - he deserves it because the company lost *ONLY* $11.67 Billion dollars this year. Really? And they're laying people off. They are putting people on the street without jobs, but this guy DESERVES a $10 million dollar bonus? Really?

Now, I'm not in favor of "distribution of wealth" and socialism, however, I am greatly in favor of responsibility and compassion to those around us. I'm just wondering when a person decides that he/she has enough and doesn't need to earn/command MORE.

I don't know - its kind of a tricky question, right? I mean, its easy to have these opinions when you're talking about ludicrous amounts of money like X million per year... but what about when you're in the middle class suburbs and $100,000/year doesn't stretch as much as you thought it would? (just using a round number). Polls show that most people feel like they'd be comfortable - and happy - if they earned just 20% more than what they currently earn. Really? What about when you get there - then is it enough? Are you done, then?

We all want to live the good life. Take trips. Have nice cars, nice clothes, nice houses. But when is what you've got enough for you? Do you need a bigger house? More clothes? A newer car? What about when what you have is sufficient to meet your needs? Do you still need more? bigger? better? Are we always going to be trying to move to the next level? 3,000 square feet instead of 2,400? and soon we'll need 4,000 square feet because 3,000 just isn't big enough. Nevermind the fact that an extra 1,000 square feet means more furniture, more carpet, more maintainence, etc. 1,000 square feet ends up costing a LOT more than what you thought.

Current events - the economy, the auto bailout, the bank failures, the IL governor - certainly have got me thinking about this, however, it is a nearly continuous conversation in our house. We want to live simpler - people don't understand that desire, but we do. We don't want bigger, better and more. We want to drive our stake right here and stay here. I feel like it is a constant battle though - trying to drive our stake, yet wanting more and better. I do want more and better, but I don't want to want more and better, you know?

At some point a person needs to recognize that what he/she has is enough and doesn't need more - right? Am I the only one that wonders this?

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Some random things mulling around in my head

1. A phrase I heard a couple of times last weekend: "If I don't take care of me, no one else will take care of me." Thinking. Thinking. Thinking. While in one perspective I understand this and I totally understand where it is coming from and why it is being said by this specific person, mostly I feel very sad about it. VERY sad about it for a multitude of reasons.

2. Another phrase I heard this weekend: "Expectations breed resentments." Holy cow - very insightful and true. For a long time I have been learning and talking about the fact that when expectations do not meet reality it equals disappointment. I try to keep this in the forefront of my mind every day as I navigate through a social world where one person's story affects my story and I may not know the other person's story (follow that?). I've tried to really think about my expectations of life and of people and figure out if what I'm expecting is realistic and change my expectations or have no expectations at all. This is difficult yet very rewarding and helps make the challenge of life a little happier.

3. Everyone has a story. This is something that I've realized in the last two or three years. Everyone has a story. Basically, everyone has a reason for acting the way he or she acts - and I may not know your story and pass judgement on you... but if I knew your story, I would instead have sympathy, empathy, compassion, understanding, etc.

For example (and this is a very simple example): A few years ago I was having major wisdom tooth pain and had to have it extracted. I went to the grocery store while in pain and I'm sure my already unapproachable face was even MORE unapproachable and perhaps even pretty bitchy looking. And the many people that I came into contact with that afternoon could (and perhaps did) judge me and decide that I was _________ - insert adjective (bitchy, stuck up, snobby, impatient, intolerant, etc. etc.) HOWEVER - the truth was, I was in pain and was miserable, but still had to run an errand. That was my story that afternoon - and if someone had known my story, their perception and opinion would have dramatically changed.

I was reminded over the weekend that everyone has a story. And when you get a chance to hear someone's story - or even a tiny piece of it - it is not only fascinating, but it also clues you in to why that person is the way he or she is. Keeping this in mind helps me be less judgemental of people - people I'm close to and random strangers on the street. I hope - HOPE - that people I'm close to do not feel judged by me. I have seen the misery that judging people causes to the person that is judging and I want no part of it. Lord, help me to love and to remember that everyone has a story.

4. Yesterday I read the story of Mary's cousin, Elizabeth. She was barren for many, many years and then conceived John the Baptist. When she found out she was pregnant she went off for 5 months and relished in her pregnancy. I also had a conversation with BFWW last week about how when our child's agenda does not match our agenda it equals frustration for everyone involved. So yesterday I decided to simply RELISH in my children and the little boy that I babysit and allow their agenda to lead the way (mostly). That isn't to say that they got away with whatever they wanted, but I took some time to simply enjoy them and to watch them be who they are, to cuddle, to kiss, to play, to slather on lotion after a bath, to read books, to allow them to play outside past the time I asked them to come in, to wear a pasta necklace that Ryann made me in school. What a happy day we had! My spirit feels lighter today because of it. My patience increased and my smiles multiplied.

5. The elderly deserve respect. Period. They are people, not objects. They have things to say - it may not be interesting to YOU, however, it is what is going on in their lives and it is their current story. And they have amazing past stories and wisdom to share if we take the time to talk to them and ask about life as a child or a newly married couple or a mother of little kids. All we need to do is ask and talk and prompt and wait for the stories to come. And then listen.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Christmas season 2008

After reading Jen's post - here - I got to thinking about our advent/Christmas season in our house and what I wanted that to look like.

Here it is in a nutshell: I want it to be joyful and relaxed and not stressful and full of greed. And I want the girls to start to *get it* about Christmas and what it really means. So how do we accomplish that? Some ideas for our family:

* Cut down on gifts - we are doing this mostly for financial reasons, however, it has the bonus effect of making the season [a little] simpler. We have cut down on our list of people to buy for, the amount we are spending for each person and therefore the amount of thinking and shopping that I have to do. For me there is more stress involved in thinking of the perfect gift rather than actually shopping for it or spending the money on it so the fewer I have to come up with, the less stress for me.

* Cut down on Christmas cards - I was going through my Christmas card list a couple of weeks ago and realized that most of the people on the list saw my children on a pretty regular basis either in person or on Facebook... so why in the heck do I feel it necessary to send them a picture of my girls - and spend the money on the card and the postage? I was going to cut out cards altogether, but was reminded that there are a few people who are not in that category and love getting their picture every year. I also realized that there are a few people (family and close friends) who probably put their picture up on their refrigerator for the whole year or show it off to their friends (my Gram)... so I'm sending out about 25 cards instead of 50-65.

* Put the tv down in the crawl space for the month - a couple of weeks ago in his sermon our pastor talked about how the kids he met in Africa were the happiest people he'd ever met - BECAUSE THEY DIDN'T KNOW WHAT THEY WERE MISSING. Wow. That hit me big time. And at the same time my girls had somehow found Nick Jr. on tv and started seeing commercials for toys. Pretty soon I began to hear "I want," "Can I have," and "For Christmas will you get me..." Kind of made me want to vomit, actually. My kids don't need ANYTHING except maybe a pair of boots right now. So we are stripping down and getting rid of the tv again so that MY kids won't know what they're missing (although other kids are now introducing them to wonderful things like American Girl Dolls instead of the tv doing it.)

* Start some advent traditions - Dave went out and got a fresh advent wreath this weekend (didn't know that I had a fake one in the decoration bin) and we did our first reading yesterday. I've had the fake one for a couple of years, but never got around to actually doing it. We are excited about doing it this year - I think the girls are old enough to sit still, listen to the scripture and join in our discussion. Yesterday we talked about hope and why we should hope for Christ coming again. It was good and I'm excited to be doing it with them!

In addition, I've had some ornaments for a few years that we haven't gotten around to doing that we're going to do this year. There are 12 ornaments that each have a picture that depicts a name of Jesus - The Door, The Vine, Immanuel, Light of the WOrld, Bright Morning Star, Lion of Judah, Lamb of God, Bread of Life, King of Kings, Giver of LIving Water, Good Shepherd, Savior - and there is a reading that goes along with each ornament. I need to count 12 days back from Christmas for our starting date, but I would like to do a reading every night for 12 days and put the ornament on the tree. VERY excited about this one, too!

* Allow the girls to help me bake for the holidays - We always do Christmas cookies, but we're going to do a little more this year because I really, really love to bake and am going to take a cue from Jen and bring stuff to the neighbors. However, it is SO hard and frustrating and time consuming to bake with 3 little helpers... so I am going to change my expectations and allow them to help me and have fun with it instead of getting frustrated.

* Reread and journal on The Shack - watch for it.

* Get up earlier, get done running earlier and get back to reading the Bible in the morning before my shower and before school routine starts. This means I need to be running by 6:30 at the latest, out of bed at 6.


I'm sure there are many more ideas for our family and I haven't even asked Dave what he would like to see this month be like. He has planned family outings for every weekend of the month and it should be fun - as long as I remember that these things are about the girls and not about what I want out of them (a little problem I have sometimes... focusing on the wrong agenda).

I'm looking forward to a wonderful Christmas season - not setting expectations, but am looking forward to just enjoying it this year rather than getting mired in the muckiness of the holidays.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Mission: Frugal/Save Money

Give me your best frugal tips - the ones that you're kind of embarassed to tell other people about because they will look at you like you're a cheapo (and the ones you're not embarassed to share).

I'll start:

1. I cut dryer sheets (fabric softener) in half. A 200 sheet box of Bounce dryer sheets that I bought on clearance at Target has lasted me over 1-2 years (can't remember when I bought them.

2. I put a bucket under the hose that comes out of the washing machine to catch the rinse water and I pour it into my next load for the wash cycle (water in Homer Glen is guaranteed twice as expensive as yours... $100/month vs. most people paying less than $100/quarter).

Buzzing

I've got a million things buzzing in my head right now and I'm not sure I can articulate any of them in a succinct manner... Hmmmm - I can't even organize them in my head.

Lets see if I can at least get the related topic out of my head and maybe expand at a later date...

* Per our 17 year old friend - America does not respect their elderly the way other countries do. This is a sad situation - they have wisdom that we do not, we should show them more respect.

* Feeling like it is an uphill, against the tornado like wind battle to create community when it seems like no one around me (physically) wants it. Also feeling distracted and held back by schedules and my own introvertedness. As discussed last night with Dave and 17 year old - we may not be able to change the world, but we can try to change our corner. But even THAT sounds overwhelming.

* I want to strip down to the basics in the month of December. Get rid of the distractions and be intentional about the holiday season. This will mean getting rid of the tv again.

* My children are out of control because I've been not-quite-100% for two weeks and have taken the path of least resistence... most often resulting in them watching tv and me playing computer games. I'm on drugs now and beginning to feel better and it is now time for Dykstra Boot Camp.

* We have more money than we thought in our home equity line which results in it lasting for possibly 6-9 months instead of 4-5 months. This is HUGE and probably warrants a detailed explanation at another time.

* I want to bake for the neighbors like Jen talks about here. But going door to door to our neighbors sounds very scary. Per Dave (who has knocked on every one of their doors for work) 9 out of 10 will not want to have anything to do with me, but I'm looking for that 1 that is craving community and love like I am. I'm not a statistics or math person, but that sounds like a lot of work;)

* This post by Dave's cousin, Amy, really has me thinking. Thinking about how to be intentional with my kids and how battle weary I feel with them most of the time .

* Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night and felt prompted to pray for someone? I had that twice last night for the same friend.


I need to get in the shower... I'm off to visit my friend's 90 year old mother who just moved into a nursing home around here from Florida. She has stories and she has wisdom and I am excited to have a chance to talk with her and learn from her.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Sometimes our choices result in suckiness

I chose to stay home with my kids. I quit my job as soon as I got pregnant with Nora. Partly because my boss continually took me on an emotional roller coaster for 3 years - that was the reason I quit immediately after finding out. But I also quit early because I knew I'd be staying home and I wanted to start figuring out how to live on one income before bringing a baby into the mix.

I have no opinion on whether or not other moms should stay at home or work when they have kids... I really don't care whether a person chooses to work or stay at home - I'm just going to put it out there. I think the debate is silly and I have no desire or intention to get started with it here - my personal opinion is that I have enough responsibility and stress in making my own decisions, that I really don't want or need to make anyone else's decisions - we do what works for our family, and by all means everyone else should do what works for their families.

We made this decision together. Dave and I agreed that we wanted someone home with our children and because he was in the money making job and I wasn't following a career path, naturally I was the one who was designated as the stay at home parent.

I am happy with our choice - most days. I love being a part of my girls' lives. I love being here for everything. I love being able to hug them and kiss them whenever I want to. I also love it when they go to school and get out of my hair for a while:)

There are sporadic times, though, where I kind of resent being in the position that I'm in. Not often anymore - especially not as often as when I had a baby on a nap schedule or had a newborn and an 18 month old. But there are times.

I have been sick for the last 10 days. Actually, I've been sick since the middle of October - started in Mexico - but one thing got better and a couple of days later another thing hit.

While in Mexico I started hacking up a lung for no apparent reason... no head cold, no congestion, just random productive coughing fits. A few days after returning I went to the urgent care because I thought I might have bronchitis and since I babysit an infant, I wanted to do something about it right away. It wasn't bronchitis, just a cold and I was sent on my way and it disappeared soon after.

A few days later, I started feeling head congestion and had a stuffy nose. Within a couple of days my head felt like it was going to explode. I actually skipped running one day - that is UNHEARD of for me (I ran in Mexico even though I was hacking up a lung at the time). It didn't seem to get better with the medicine that Dave bought for me. I was pretty sure I had a sinus infection and was going to head over to the urgent care again to get some antibiotics.

But then I got ticked. I'm sick of not being able to see MY doctor when I'm sick. I have gone to the urgent care every time I've been sick for the last several years. They don't treat me very nice over there and they charge twice as much. I wanted to see MY doctor this time and not be some random person in the urgent care.

But this turns into lots of drama - which is why I've been going to the urgent care. I babysit 3 days a week (this week was 4). The baby is 5 months old and cries - a lot - so I don't know how he's going to be in public and I'm not willing to find out in the doctor's office. So the days I babysit are out. In addition, I have a busy 3 year old who likes to hide in the cupboards or climb on the bench or open all of the drawers and take everything out (this is what she does at her doctor's office). If I am on constant vigil with her, how in the world am I going to be able to focus on the doctor and MY issues? So I choose not to bring my kids with me when I'm sick... even if I chose to bring them, I still have to work around bus and preschool schedules - so when I called today and found out the only appointment they had available was noon, I had to decline because Ryann starts school at noon and there's no way I'd be able to get her to school and myself (and Georgia & Nick) to the doctor by noon, without paying the school to have her come early.

I also have to work around Dave's schedule. He usually gets home between 6:30 and 7 - doctor's office is closed. And he has multiple appointments/meetings throughout the day... If I could schedule my illnesses 2 weeks in advance he would have no problem finding a time to come home to stay with the girls while I go to the doctor. As I have yet to figure out how to do that, I instead go to the urgent care.

But like I said - I got ticked off about it over the weekend and refused to go to the urgent care anymore. Somehow, something would have to work out differently.

Fortunately for me, I started to feel better the very next day and didn't feel like I needed to see the doctor anymore. And then last night the pressure came back and I'm back in the full-swing of a sinus infection.

My wonderful husband - knowing my feelings about going to the urgent care again - told me to try to get an appointment tonight after 4 or any time tomorrow. He had too many appointments today to be able to help me out today, but he was sure he could move people around tomorrow if necessary. I love him. I'm going tomorrow at 9.

Anyway, back to the resentment thing. This is it - I resent not being able to live my life on my schedule and do things at the times that I want to do them. I know that I choose to make things a bit more difficult by opting out of the children-along-for-the-ride thing, but I don't see how bringing them with me would make things less stressful or easier or more productive. When Dave is sick, he just calls the doctor and fits it in. When I'm sick - or want to get a haircut - I have to consider 4 other people before I can try to work into someone else's schedule. I long for the day when I can just pick up and go when I want to.

I am now done whining.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I had an interesting conversation the other day. We were at a company holiday party (how brilliant is a Thanksgiving party vs. a Christmas party?) and I was talking to two wives of veteran FA's (both have been with Jones for 15 years). They were talking about how crabby their husbands are because of the market and how it is affecting their clients...

Paraphrase/summary of conversation:

Wife 1: We haven't seen anything this bad in the 15 years that we've been doing this.

Wife 2: Well, 9/11 was pretty bad.

Me: Its pretty difficult right now.

1: Is Dave crabby too? It will get better.

Me: His paycheck was $700 last month. After our tithe that left almost nothing. Our mortgage payment is almost $2000.

2: Then I think its time to rethink your tithe. God doesn't want you to lose your house.


I whole-heartedly disagree with that statement - the part about rethinking the tithe. First of all, the tithe wasn't the difference between paying our bills and not paying our bills. Second, our tithe is non-negotiable... it doesn't get rethought - there is never a question about whether or not we will pay it. We do. And thats it.

Before we were married my dad had a conversation with us in the car one night. Dave will never forget this - it really, really stuck with him. My dad told us - when we were discussing some kind of money matter and marriage - that we needed to start tithing right then because if we didn't we never would. It would be much easier to do it at that point while we didn't have as many bills/responsibilities than it would be to try to add it in a year, 2 years, 10 years down the road. My dad was never super involved in church - he had been disillusioned with the politics while on consistory as a young man (that is to say, he attended church regularly, he just didn't get involved beyond that). He told us that night that although he didn't volunteer or involve himself more, he could and always did financially support the church and that tithing was his spiritual gift.

We can argue that or not argue that point (tithing = spiritual gift) - it doesn't matter. The broader lesson for us was: You tithe. Period. And you start as soon as possible. My dad encouraged me and my sister as high schoolers to give part of our paychecks back to God and while I didn't do so consistently, I can say that I occasionally did. I tried to tithe in college, but since my church attendance was so sporadic I think my tithing was as well. But from that conversation forward we have always tithed and as I've said, it has never been negotiable. This wasn't a huge lesson for me because I grew up learning it, but it was a big lesson for Dave and he became as committed to it as I was already.

Our pastor preaches on tithing every year. And every year he uses a verse from Malachi where God says, (big time paraphrase because I don't know the exact verse) "Test me on this. Bring your tithe back to the storehouse and I will open the floodgates of blessing on you." While our pastor is diligent in reiterating that this does not mean that God will bless us financially by bringing our tithe, it does sometimes come across that way. We don't tithe because we want something back for doing it, we do so out of obedience. And believe me, this is probably the only way I am consistently obedient;)

In addition, while we are really struggling with finances right now I could not cut out our tithe - for the same reason my dad advised us to start right away: because if I cut it out, how will I ever be able to add it back in?

Do I think God wants me to lose my house? No, absolutely not. I think God is providing for me in ways that I'm unaware of right now. I believe that he knows the future and I do not. He tells me to bring him a tenth of our earnings and I do so because I want to honor and obey him.

Is this a test of faith? HECK yeah - especially because not only are we tithing, but we've committed to a monthly amount above that for the capital campaign at our church (a number that somehow we individually came up with while praying about it on our own... somehow the numbers matched without ever having a conversation about it). Dave and I have lived our married life with the understanding that sometimes God asks us to take steps in faith - I have many examples where we have had that conversation because the move we were about to make made absolutely no sense whatsoever. Tithing right now probably doesn't make sense to many people, but it is my step in faith right now. God has always provided after our previous steps and I know - even if we do end up losing our house - that he is providing right now and will continue to do so. My measly tenth isn't changing the world right now, but it continually changes me.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Keeping it real

So here we are... I'm private and I'm real from here on out. Beware - and I'm warning myself, too - being real for me may mean sharing actual numbers and actual realities of life in our house and in our family. I continually wonder how people can be authentic with each other without being honest... If I don't share real stuff and real numbers with someone, how will that person know me and know my situation. If I'm vague, it leaves opportunity to assume or come to conclusions. If I'm specific it doesn't. I also recognize that being specific opens me and my family up to criticism and judgement. So thats what I'm most scared of...



However, Dave (no more Cornbread), was telling me the other day that he started feeling better once he realized he had to get off of the island and reach out to other people. No more living on an island with a cell phone that I won't use, hoping for rescue... hoping that someone will just KNOW that I need help getting off of the island. It is by reaching out to others that they will know that I need help - whether it is specific help or prayers or whatever. And please hear me - I'm not in desperate need of help, I'm just saying that living on an island and trying to do things all on my own and not reaching out really sucks. Like I said before - I WISH that people would just support me in the way I need it without me asking for it, but it doesn't happen that way - especially when life is perpetually "fine".



So that brings me back to being real, authentic and honest and bold and trusting. I know there are certain topics and specifics that aren't generally discussed, but sometimes I feel like they need to be out there in order to have a real discussion. If I tell you that we had a really rough month last month and Dave's paycheck was low that allows you to assume that maybe he just barely made the bills, or he fell a couple of hundred dollars short and we have to dip into savings to cover it. However, if I tell you that his paycheck was $743 for the entire month and that covers our tithe and only part of our groceries, well, that allows you to assume that financially things are really, really sucky right now:) And stressful - but I will get further into that later. In addition, a year from now (hopefully) when he is finally making enough money to pay our bills, having known the specifics our our situation allows you a greater opportunity to rejoice and praise with us and to further understand how amazing it feels on our end - see how that works?!!



As I said before, one of the reasons for going real and private is so that I can look back years from now and remember how life was at this time. I can draw from this experience and help others who may need it in a similar way. In addition though, I want my girls and my grandkids to have this - to know this, to understand this about us someday. I LOVE to hear stories of my grandparents when they were first married and how they got through the difficulties of their early marriage. I never hear those stories from my parents, but I would love to. I think hearing it from my grandparents gives me a perspective of faithfulness and hope and an understanding of them and how they became who they are and why they have the faith in God that they have. Theirs is a journey of faithfulness - from God and from them. I want my kids to have that.



And its not only that. I need this too. I need to write it out for myself to get it out of my head, but I also - probably more importantly - need to be able to go back and read about God's faithfulness and provision and the amazing ways that He worked in our lives. And I can't see that if I'm not real about it. I have a very poor memory... we have some very incredible examples of God working in our 10 year marriage, but even now I'm kind of like, "Wait, how did that go again?" So hopefully a current journal will aleviate that issue 10 years from now:)



I'm excited about this - I need this.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Authenticity

As of next week my blog is going private. There are several reasons for this... mostly because I'm having a huge urge to be truly authentic and real and honest in my journaling right now. I'm not interested in putting on a facade, but am looking for authentic, real community. We are struggling right now and I have very few avenues of really getting my feelings out -writing is the best thing for me. I've tried the private, no other reader journal/blog, but I found that I missed having interaction and other thoughts/suggestions and communication with others.

Cornbread was telling me this morning, that in a conversation with a friend, it was suggested that instead of trying so hard to try to plan for the future and figure out what we're going to do "if", that we should be focusing on the present and living life in wonder and awe of how God is miraculously working in our lives. We are learning dependence in a way that I never thought we'd have to learn... and God is working. It is hard, though, to recognize it or to realize that God can work in our lives while he is working in others' lives. Cornbread was relating to our friend that while we are struggling and scared, there are others around us who have it even worse than us and it feels selfish to ask God to prioritize us above them... but the real deal is that God doesn't prioritize... He works good in the lives of all those who love him - not just those who need him worse than others.

It has been a really rough few months for us and it doesn't promise to get any better, but God has been faithful in the last 10 years - and very evident - and there is no reason to think that He has abandoned us or won't continue to be faithful. I feel like I need to get stuff out of my head and into words so I can recognize Him or have someone who reads this recognize him for me:)

In addition, I've been thinking about the purpose of my blog. It is a nice way to share pictures and share stories of the girls with our families, but really that isn't all of me. I have always wanted to have a journal of life right now - life as a stay at home mom with three small children, life as the spouse of someone trying to build a new business... because in a lot of ways, I feel unsupported - I'm not complaining or blaming anyone. The problem is most of the reason I feel unsupported is because I don't share with people that I need support or how I can use help. I can do it on my own, you know? So one of my biggest desires is that I would be able to draw on my previous experiences in order to support other women that are in my position when I have long moved out of it. I wish that people in my life would just offer up the support I need without me having to ask for it - doesn't everyone? But it doesn't work that way. However, if I can read about my current life 10 years from now and recognize how I might have needed help and then be able to do that for someone else without them having to ask, then I will be happy.

So those are a couple of reasons why I'm going private. I have no intentions of complaining about people or spouting opinions on people or their actions or decisions. I'm not going private so that certain people don't have access to my thoughts, I'm going private because I'm going real. I once had a blog where I journaled my actual thoughts about a certain situation and people in my life and it was found and created some serious pain in my life and in our family. I made a very poor error in judgement in putting those thoughts on the WWW, which is part of the reason why this blog has been so vague and surfacey. This is not about that, though. This is about our real life and I don't think anyone and everyone needs to be a part of it.

I invite you to join me if:
* you are will to read about my real life without judging me
* you are willing to participate by leaving comments
* you are willing to be authentic in your relationship with me
* you are willing to hold me accountable when necessary
* you are willing to be a truth teller
* you are willing to share how God is working in your life

I think I need your email address in order to give you access to the blog. Please email me at jddykstra@comcast.net if you are interested.

I will be blunt: I'm going to be vigilant about maintaining the list of people who can access this - if you have been reading, but haven't been participating in a while you will be deleted. I'm not trying to allow a bunch of people into my life, but rather am trying to build a community of friends who share lives.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Day She Turned 3

On each of the girls' third birthdays, I have recorded the day in photos. Nora's happened before I started this blog... I'm going to have to post that one someday. But you can see Ryann's here.

So our Bugly turned 3 yesterday... She had an exciting day of eating and playing:)

Waiting for breakfast with Nora:

Eating a snack at Doug & Jenny's (We went there to hang out during the Bear's game):

Showing off Toto - her new puppy in a purse:
Playing ghost, I guess:)
Coloring - on paper:
Watching Nemo - waiting for Nemo to touch the butt:
Hiding while Nemo gets yelled at:
Rearranging picture frames - because this is what she does when she's there:
Hitting the need-a-nap wall. Here she hurt her toe:
And here, well, we just don't know what was wrong here:
Sleeping on Mom's lap:)
Mmmmm.
Still sleepy from her nap and in David's arms - one of her favorite places ever:
Leaving Doug's - not happy because she's cold:
Playing with her new snugglekins - monkey named JoJo:
Birthday French Toast in front of the tv - quite a treat - watching the all new Hannah Montanna:
Changed into jammies and posing for a nice picture (obliging mom's request):
Playing with her new Lite Bright:
Getting ready for bed: Trying to comfort Jo Jo:
Putting JoJo to bed while Daddy reads to Nora and Ryann helps:
Reading in bed:

Its hard to believe she's 3 already:)

Friday, November 07, 2008

Things I really learned in Mexico

Here are some lessons/thoughts that I brought home with me from Mexico:

* Everyone sweats. No one cares. The Mexicans do construction work in the 100 degree heat and humidity while wearing sweatshirts. This is kind of a big deal for me because I sweat. A lot.

* 100 degree heat and humidity feel much different in an oceanside city than they do in the Midwest.

* Running in that climate = sweating in places that you didn't think actually sweat. I would look down while I was running and my shoulder and biceps were sweating... I never sweat there. Totally weird.

* I can eat chips and guacamole every day and that is one of the things I miss the most about our trip.

* Real Mexican food is much different than American Mexican food (mexican food in the states). We have a very favorite Mexican restaurant by us - El Cortez. We LOVE it... mmmm, I'm getting hungry. But Mexican food in Mexico is much different - at least in the coastal town that we were in. They used very little cheese, unless we actually ordered nachos. We hardly saw cheese. We didn't eat any ground beef. Tacos were not on the menu at any of the restaurants that we ate at (with the exception of fish tacos at a few of them). They use fresh foods and lots and lots of vegetables and very little cheese. The food wasn't greasy at all and it didn't cause internal intestinal distress which sometimes comes along with American Mexican food (tmi?).

All of this may not be the case for all of Mexico, but it was for this area. It was MY IDEAL FOOD - I loved every bit of it and wish I could eat like that every day... it was much healthier than at home. In fact, I ate 3 good sized meals everyday, desserts on a couple of nights, chips and guacamole at least once a day, and had at least one beer every day, sometimes two - probably more than twice as much as I eat normally at home - and I didn't gain a single pound. Not one.

* Mexican salsa is much different than salsa you buy here in a jar - or even salsa that I've made from scratch. Basically, they chop up tomatos and onions, add a little bit of jalepeno pepper and some fresh chopped cilantro. Thats it. It was sooooo good. It wasn't soupy like what we eat here, but fresh and chunky. I LOVED it and plan to make it that way all next summer. Mmmm.

* Time is never an issue for Mexicans... We ordered room service for breakfast every morning. One day it would come in 15 minutes, one day it would be 45 - and we always ordered the same thing: granola, a fruit plate and either waffles or french toast and orange juice. One night we were coming home from Cabo and had gotten the 9pm shuttle back to the resort. Our shuttle was full - packed. We were sitting very close to each other and it was hot. Our driver decided that it was no big deal to sit outside and chat with his friend for 20 minutes while we sat and waited for him. What? Can you imagine if that happened here? There is simply no sense of urgency there.

* Unfinished projects do not seem to bother anyone - I would totally fit in there;) For example, our resort had started a new development project behind the building we were staying in. They got the support beams up for 5 or 6 new 4 story buildings. And then they stopped. Not sure why. But there the "buildings" stood with no one working on them. We saw other examples of this throughout the week... things that had gotten started, but never completed. This is totally me.

* When ordering water in a restaurant it was IMPERATIVE that you order house water instead of bottled water. If you didn't specify that you wanted house water"you would get bottled water and be charged for every bottle they used to refill your glass. One couple told us that they went to dinner and had $60 (US) in charges just in water. House water was water from a pitcher and it was fine - we drank it all week and had no problems whatsoever.

* The crime rate in Los Cabos/Cabo San Lucas is extremely low because everyone has a job. I learned this from my surfing instructor, Manny. After hearing that, Cornbread and I realized that while we were exploring the town on Monday we had felt very safe - never felt uncomfortable, never felt the need to look over our shoulders, just very safe. Probably safer than we feel sometimes in Chicago (depending on where we're walking).

* Surfing is the most exhausting, but exhilirating thing I have ever done. Most of the time is spent paddling against the waves and being beaten up by the waves. You fall off, get back on and paddle back out to wait for another one, which you may or may not get on and which will last all of 30 seconds. But holy crap, the challenge of it all is amazing... the learning process... the fun and elation of actually standing up and riding a wave all the way to the beach... the challenge of finding and trying the next wave... It is nothing I can describe and nothing I've experienced before. It was amazing.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Things I learned in Mexico

Roll your eyes if you must, but I want to move to Cabo San Lucas... its not just about being on vacation its about life there. And if something happens here where we lose our house, Cornbread loses his job, etc. etc. we are going to look into it - I'm not joking. There was a point where I was sitting at the table, reading the newspaper and drinking my coffee where I thought, "Why are we living here? We could live anywhere in the world - why aren't we living somewhere beautiful with a simpler life?"

We are trying to live a more simple life here in Homer Glen - a southwest suburb of Chicago. However, I feel like it is a constant battle. It is counter cultural to want less stuff instead of more and I get weary of the fight. I'm not saying that people are fighting me, but that I am fighting with myself and my desire to live a certain way but being drawn to consume and accumulate anyway. Sometimes I feel it would be easier if I just gave in and lived in a reactionary way instead of trying to be intentional... but then I remember how I felt at the end of this summer and know that makes me unhappy.

In Los Cabos, they aren't fighting to consume. It is a third world country - yes - so they are fighting more to eat and feed their children. I understand that. I also understand that the grass is greener on the other side, but I feel like a burden would be lifted from me if I lived in a place like that (this also explains my desire to move to a small town).

And then lets talk about beauty. Illinois is nice. Our neighborhood is nice. But if you look outside right now it is drab and kind of dreary. The last few days have been wonderful - 70's in November - but it isn't PRETTY outside right now because its fall. Los Cabos has desert (which is not pretty) and mountains (which are) and the ocean... and it is sunny and beautiful. Why wouldn't I want to surround myself in that everyday and be in a place where I can surf every single morning?

Again - I fully recognize that the grass is greener on the other side and everything there looks perfect from here. I struggle, though, with the busyness of life here and the quiet, calm, laid back life of Mexico looks good to me.


Wow - I wasn't planning to blog about that today;) Here is my list of things I learned in Mexico - I will discuss in more detail later:

* Chips and guacamole
* Mexican food vs. American food
* Mexican salsa
* Time
* surfing
* unfinished projects
* house water
* crime rate

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Interesting Election Results

It has been 2 years of campaigning. Two years of discussing and debating. Two years of some of the nastiest things I have ever heard - not from the candidates, but from the people voting for the candidates. Quite frankly, I've been shocked and disappointed at some of the stuff that people have said and the inconsistency in character that the resulted from the comments.

Cornbread and I have had many discussions about the candidates and who we should vote for and why we should vote for that person. To be honest, neither of us made up our mind until this past Sunday...

What I found interesting, though, is that even though we kept our cards very close to our chest with our girls (not on purpose, just happened to be that our discussions happened while they weren't around) and never indicated to them who we would be voting for, they both chose McCain when they voted at school this week.

I asked each of them "Why?" We haven't really discussed anything in front of them. The could not have based their votes on our votes because they didn't know our votes. Yet, they chose McCain and I was curious how they came to that decision. Neither could give me an answer - neither had a reason. They just did.

So are they natural republicans? Are they natural conservatives? Or does McCain look like a nice grandpa to them?

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

saturday

Saturday was our last day/travel day. We were quite lucky that our flight was at 1:15 and we didn't have to leave at the crack of dawn like some of our friends. We were able to hang out until 10 and enjoy a little bit of the morning.

We got up, worked out, showered, packed our final things and left our luggage at the door for the luggage pull (minus our carry on this time). We had decided earlier in the week that we would wait for the breakfast buffet until Saturday (it was quite expensive and we figured it would be good to overfill that morning because we probably wouldn't eat again until dinner).

I LOVE BREAKFAST BUFFETS!

After eating our fill, I then commenced on the juice course... they had all of these weird juices and I felt it was my duty to try them before we left. We had a bunch of glasses on the table and I didn't think Cornbread was going to partake, but he was a champ and tried them all.

Pear: tasted like apple juice
Melon: Ick - tasted like honeydew melon, which is good as a food, not as a juice
Papaya: Ick - I don't like papaya and having it in juice form doesn't make it any better
Celery: this one was bright green and a little scary for me. It wasn't too bad - tasted exactly like celery, but sweeter.
Beet: Ick - smelled like dirt and tasted like dirt and was chunky. Cornbread didn't think it was as bad as I was saying, but trust me it was nasty.

After the juice course was over, we went to the lobby to wait for our shuttle and I stared at the ocean for another 15 minutes before being dragged away. We weren't ready to go home yet - we both decided that one more day would have been nice... and in the future we may extend our stay by one day. We really weren't missing or even thinking about the girls - we had talked to them once during the week and they were fine. It was nice to be away and to escape the stresses of home, but as I mentioned before the constant socialness of this vacation was tiring for me - if we had one more day without everyone else, it would have been perfect.

The rest of our day was spent traveling. Our plane landed at 6pm and we were picked up at 7 and home by 7:45. We were greeted by our girls running to us... okay, well Nora and Ryann did. Georgia couldn't be bothered by our arrival at first;) While I would have liked another day, it was good to finally be home and to see them and hug them.

And I've been amazed at the increase in patience I have had since being away from them;)

Monday, November 03, 2008

Friday

Friday was our last real day in Mexico, so we had decided to do nothing for the day and just enjoy the weather and the resort. I got up that morning and worked out - first time ever on an eliptical and still not sure what I thought about it - and came back to the room for our daily room service breakfast. I was loving the daily breakfast on the balcony... I had the same thing every day - granola and a plate of fruit - and we enjoyed the breakfast, coffee, the birds building a nest in the palm tree in front of us, the woodpecker giving himself a headache, and the random people that we would see below (not many before 10am). We discussed Cornbread's business, the stress of everything going on and the ideas we were getting from the people we were meeting. It was peaceful, quiet and time by ourselves.
We eventually made our way down to the pool and grabbed some chairs by the roommate and his wife and a few others. We got a game of pool volleyball together - the weather had changed at some point on Thursday: the humidity had broken and it had cooled down to around 80 degrees... now the pool felt kind of cold and I had no interest in staying in for too long. In fact, it felt much better to sit on the chair in the sun. My biggest problem of the day was that I was at the best part of my book and I was struggling with wanting to read it and not wanting to put it down and wanting to save it for the plane ride;)

We had lunch and decided to spend the rest of the afternoon on the beach. We grabbed some chairs and read for the rest of the afternoon... I finally got up around 4:30 to go to the room to shower, change and pack.

Our farewell dinner was on the same terrace as the welcome dinner. The weather was nicer - we didn't sweat just by breathing this time - and the view was still amazing. We sat with Kevin and J. Twidd, the couple from Albuquerque that had gone surfing with us, and the head of Compliance and his wife (another general partner who was hosting the trip). Dinner was surf and turf - a big fillet felt kind of heavy and wrong to me in Mexico sitting by the ocean, so I focused on the shrimp portion:)

Dinner was nice, but I was emotionally and socially exhausted by this point and decided to go back to the room by myself for a little bit. It was only 8:30, but I needed to be by myself for a while. It occurred to me that this trip was awesome and amazing and a wonderful gift, but it was exhausting for me... we endured nearly constant small talk for a week. There were 75 other FA's and their spouses at the resort and it was almost impossible to go anywhere without running into someone that looked familiar. It always involved the same 5 minute conversation: "How many years have you been with Jones? Where are you from? How many trips have you been on? Where have you gone? Which was your favorite?" Occasionally, the conversation would go further, however, relationship building was not really on anyone's mind. Which is totally understandable, but just difficult for me to endure for 5-6 days straight and I needed to get away from it.

I went back to our room and reluctantly finished my book;)

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Thursday

Neither of us slept very well while we were in Mexico. I think my problem was the pillows - they were those super soft down pillows where your head sinks all the way to the mattress so it feels like you're not really sleeping on a pillow. I'm not sure what else it could have been - actually its probably more likely that we consistently get enough sleep at home (7-8 hours every night) and were going to bed at a decent time in Mexico and didn't need more sleep than what we were getting. Whatever the case, we woke up at 5:30/6:00 every morning on vacation - without an alarm. Both of us. Every day.

I get bored pretty quickly, so the options at that time in the morning were: workout or go to the beach to watch the sunrise. We had decided that we wouldn't workout on the days that we had excursions, so on Thursday morning we went down to the beach to watch the sunrise.

When we got down there around 7, the sky was light with a pinkish stripe along the horizon. We hung out and took pictures for about 10-15 minutes before we saw this:
It looked like someone lit a lantern just beyond the edge of the world. And over the course of the next 5 minutes the sun came up like a perfect, round circle in the sky. It was pretty amazing.

The resort is very quiet at that time of the morning, too - only a few employees are out and we only saw 1 or 2 other guests on the beach. It was very peaceful.

We went back to our room, had breakfast and then took our books down to the pool to read for a while before our snorkeling excursion.

We met in the lobby at 11am for our snorkeling excursion. There was quite a bit of confusion about the cost of the trip and the need to pay for transportation - amongst MANY of us. Basically, it appeared that people were paying different prices for the same trip... we (and a few others) paid $119/person, someone else paid $49/person and others paid $59/person. In addition, those of us who paid the higher rate had been assured that transportation was included - and now they were telling us it wasn't. We hadn't brought any money with us so Cornbread had to run back to the room to get some. We were not the only couple who had this issue. Ultimately, we all paid the $49/person rate, but we didn't find that out until we got back to the states... it was kind of upsetting and a whole lot of mass confusion.

At any rate, we all went on the snorkeling excursion. Basically it was a booze cruise (and we didn't realize that was what it was going to be until it was too late). There were about 75-80 of us on a catamaran and the crew had an open bar with several kinds of liquor and were doing their best to create a party atmosphere... I don't think they realized, however, that they were trying to create a party with a bunch of conservative financial advisors. They worked pretty hard at it, but I don't think they were all that successful;)

We left a marina in Cabo and went past the arch. Cabo San Lucas is located at the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula. The most southern part of the peninsula is a group of natural rock formations - one of which is a natural arch. This is a picture of the whole group (not my picture):
And a picture of the arch (again, not my picture). While we were going past it, there was a bunch of seals on the rock to the left of the arch. We heard them before we saw them and then watched a couple of them fall/jump into the water and play around by our boat.
We were pretty happy that we had a chance to see the arch up close (which we later decided was worth the price of the excursion). After this, we sailed north - past our resort - to a cove between Los Cabos and San Jose Los Cabos (it was probably an hour+ sail). We anchored in the small cove - next to two other boats with groups the same size as ours - and we jumped off to snorkel. I stayed in the water for, oh, about 4 minutes before I swam to the shore and sat on the beach for the rest of the time. The snorkeling was horrible - it was a small cove, there were too many people so you couldn't swim without touching someone else, there weren't that many fish, and the current was strong so I felt like I was being pushed into the rocks. Cornbread and I have been spoiled by previous snorkeling (Jamaica & Cozumel) and this was terrible. So we sat on the beach until the crew called everyone back.

We had lunch while we sailed back to cabo and then the crew came around to give everyone a shot of tequila. We both refused and they couldn't understand why... it was a very interesting trip - it was very apparent that they were used to a different crowd;)

When we got back to the resort we went to the pool and hung out with Kevin and J. Twidd for the rest of the afternoon. It was really nice to be with friends and not have to do the whole small-talk thing anymore... just hanging out, chatting and laughing like we had been friends for much longer than 4 1/2 days.

We had been invited to another dine around dinner, but this time with a wholesaler. We were with a group of 5 other EJ couples and this group was MUCH better! We had dinner at Peacock's and had a wonderful time! We really enjoyed the company and the food was fabulous (although still wasn't as good as my Ranchero Shrimp at The Shrimp Factory). The nice thing about this dinner was that it was kind of a sales thing for the wholesaler, so everything was flowing very freely - we had bottle after bottle of really good red wine (a lot of bottles for 13 people), a bunch of appetizers, soup, dinner and dessert. Basically whatever we wanted... it was certainly very nice to be wined and dined like that... Cornbread gets this a lot, but his wife doesn't:)

It was nice to connect so well with some of the other people. We talked extensively with a regional leader/general partner from Arizona (and his wife). We also talked with an FA from Montanna who brought her sister... People are so interesting! Unlike the previous night, we were disappointed when dinner came to an end. It was definitely the best evening of the trip.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Wednesday

We didn't have any big plans for Wednesday except for dinner with the general partner that evening. We still had to get a new suitcase and some souvenirs so we decided that we'd go into Cabo that afternoon for some shopping and lunch.

We went to the gym that morning to workout and then had room service on our balcony (not only was the view nicer than at the restaurant, but it was slightly cheaper to have room service). We read our books for a while (I was reading Harry Potter 7) and then went to the pool for the morning. It was still very hot outside and sitting in the pool with a book was nice!

Before catching the shuttle we had to exchange some money. Cornbread was VERY excited because the US dollar was getting stronger and the exchange rate was getting more and more in our favor - when we left it was 10 pesos per dollar, on Monday it was 12 pesos per dollar and on Wednesday it was 13.5 pesos per dollar. Cornbread was excited that we just got some free money LOL!

So we went into town and decided to shop for the girls first, then get the suitcase and then lunch. Since we had done some looking around on Monday night we had a good idea of prices which definitely worked in our favor in terms of haggling. In addition, the locals were using a 10 peso to a dollar exchange rate so we would bargain in terms of US Dollars and then when it came time to pay we would flip to pesos and get an even better deal. For example: buying a bracelet... the guy talked us down to $10 (US), which we finally agreed to just to get out of his store and we flipped it to 100 pesos which comes out to $7.40 (US). We got some great deals on some leather sandals for Cornbread, tshirts for the girls and a coffee mug and keychain for me. We tried to haggle for the suitcase, but didn't do so well - Cornbread wasn't sure why the store owner would haggle at all since he was the only one in the city that sold suitcases.

We got the suitcase - the biggest piece in a luggage set... it was huge - and dragged it all over cabo with us. The locals were making fun of Cornbread and the taxis kept stopping to ask us if we needed a ride. I think Cornbread was a little embarassed, but we had no choice - we couldn't get our clothes home in the one we brought with us:)

We went to the BEST restaurant for lunch: The Shrimp Factory. (our table was the empty one on the left):

Cornbread got a combination plate with 5 different kinds of shrimp (beer battered, coconut, butterflied, breaded and imperial - which was shrimp wrapped in bacon and stuffed with cheese) and I got the ranchero shrimp. My meal was so excellent I can't handle even thinking about it. It was by far the best meal I had the whole week. MMMMM.


Here is a picture of their staff that I grabbed off of the website. Our waiter was the guy furthest back in the middle (blue shirt, between the lobster tails). He looked and carried himself like Ray Liotta - like he would beat the crap out of us if we weren't happy with his service. He was very nice, but he was kind of creepy like that.

We got back to the resort around 3 and spent the rest of the afternoon reading on the beach.

We had been invited to a dine around dinner with the general partner so we met her and the rest of our group and went back out to Cabo. We had dinner at Mi Casa and it was kind of a miserable experience. We dined with the general parter and her husband and two other EJ couples. One of the FA's spent the entire dinner kissing up to the general partner and the wife in the other couple was a bit strange and every time she thought something was funny she stuck her tongue between her teeth. In addition, the GP and her husband and the tongue biter and her husband had been on an EJ trip to Rome (separately) and talked about Rome all night. They were very, very nice people - we just simply did not connect with them. And when that happens, the night seems to take forEVer... and when we had to order dessert it felt like a life sentence;)

We survived the dinner - barely.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Tuesday (warning: very long:)

Tuesday morning we woke up a bit nervous. It was the day we were scheduled to take surfing lessons - and in general, many people we spoke to found it was their duty to freak us out. Drowning, sharks, you name it and people brought it up. We tried to get Kevin & J. Twidd to join us, but ultimately they were pansies;)

We had ordered room service breakfast and ate it on the balcony while trying to steel up our courage. We had a pretty light breakfast since we knew we'd be pretty active and went to meet our group.

Only 3 other people decided to test fate that morning. A married couple from Albequrque, NM and a spouse from Texas. Our instructors, Manny and Carlos met us in the lobby and we were on our way. Manny had long, red dreadlocks and very light skin for a Mexican. Carlos had longish curly hair. Both were very friendly and nice on our way to the beach, but to be honest, Cornbread and I hardly talked on the way there:)

When we got to the beach there were 5 surfboards and 5 chairs and umbrellas waiting for us. We sat down. Manny went out to get ice and Carlos gave us a dry lesson on surfing. He went talked about waves - right to left? - and speed and paddling and had us practice getting on our feet from laying down. As with most things (for me) none of it made any sense until I was actually doing it...

Manny came back and Cornbread, Susan (Tx) and I strapped our ankle bands on and went out with our boards with Manny and Carlos. Manny worked with me, Carlos initially worked with Susan and Cornbread waited. We paddled. And paddled. And paddled until we got to the point where we waited. And waited. Manny watched for the waves and when a good one (not too big at this point) came, he turned me, told me to paddle hard and STAND UP! I don't think I got up on the first wave, but very soon after that I did. And with the first one that I surfed I was hooked for life. Seriously. This was the most fun I have ever had.

After about a half hour I went back in so that the other couple could come out and I could take a rest. They went out for one or two times and decided it was not for them, so I went back out with Manny. Manny and I stayed out there for 3 more hours. This rocked - I was getting personal, private instruction because no one else wanted to be out there. Susan came out one more time for a short time, but spent most of the time on the beach. Cornbread came out two more times and stayed out for a while and was also able to get up. He had a little more trouble getting his balance figured out, but he did really, really well. Unfortunately we only have pictures of me and not any of him.

By the time I rode my last wave all the way in to beach, I was so exhausted I could not lift my head off of the surf board. Really. Honestly. I got almost to the beach, fell off, got back on and prayed that the tide would bring me in and that I wouldn't inhale water on the way in. My arms were so tired. My body had been pushed as far to the limit as I have ever pushed it. I NEVER imagined it would be that physically exhausting! But it was SO MUCH FUN. I cannot explain how much fun it was - I cannot articulate it in words. Suffice it to say, it was seriously the most fun I have ever had.

While waiting for waves, Manny and I had many conversations... we talked about the simplicity and happiness of Mexico, the attitude of accumulation in the states, the economy, his background, surfing, his near death surfing experience in Hawaii, his job. By the time we left we were best friends:) He implored Cornbread to buy me a board... however, I don't think he quite understands what the midwest is like lol!





When we got back to the resort (around noon), we were famished. Have you ever been so physically active that you feel like you can't stop eating and can't get enough calories? That was both of us. So we grabbed lunch - nachos and pizza - and then went to hang out at the pool. The rest of the afternoon was spent playing some super competative pool volleyball. It always amazes me at how competative these FA's are - even at something recreational like pool volleyball! It was a blast, but I was sooooo physically wiped and the water depth was 4 1/2 feet (I am 5'1" so I wasn't much use to my team).

Tuesday night was the theme dinner provided by EJ. They bussed our entire group to the Los Cabos Country Club. Our coach busses were met by an 8 piece mariachi band. I felt so bad for them - especially the trumpet players - because it was SO hot and they were wearing full mariachi band uniforms/costumes. Long sleeved, heavy coats and long, heavy pants. Ugh. And then those trumpet players had to play the super high notes over and over - which, if you are a trumpet player (which I was) you would understand how hard that is in cool weather and how horrible it would be in hot weather. They were good and they stayed in one place and didn't come and serenade us:)

We had cocktail hour and then another mexican buffet. The food was so good - especially the shrimp fajitas. I think this was the first night that I had shrimp while we were there... and I never stopped after that. So far the mexican food we were eating was much different than any mexican restaurant we've been to in the states. The food is so fresh. They don't use cheese. And everything comes with guacamole (one of my favorites). Oh my - I simply could not get enough. And by dinner time, I was ravenous AGAIN - after a morning of surfing and then an afternoon of pool volleyball, I just couldn't eat enough... so I loaded up a couple of times!

Mmmm. REAL mexican food. My mouth is watering right now.

At the theme dinner:
J. Twidd and Me at the theme dinner (trying not to look sweaty):


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Monday

On Monday morning we both had meetings to attend so we got up early to workout in the fitness center. We were a bit disappointed that there weren't running trails on the property, but given the heat at 6:30am it wasn't such a bad thing. We got to the gym and it was closed - didn't open until 7 - so we left to take a walk. It was still very dark so we weren't totally feeling comfortable, but it was what it was. After 5 minutes we heard someone calling to us - an employee of the resort was chasing us and told us that they'd open the gym for us. Rock on - so we followed him in and he made us fill out a form. I soon realized that the form was a bill - we were being charged $10/person/day to use the fitness center. What? I was aggravated, but we continued on. Another guy walked in right after us and didn't have to complete the form - I asked him if he had to pay and his response was, "I'm with another group and we have a deal worked out." Then this: "And you should thank me because if it weren't for me, they wouldn't open the gym early." So I promptly got down on my knees and kissed his feet - jerk. It turns out that the fees were waived, but it was kind of annoying;)

The other annoying thing was that it was so hot there that after working out and showering we could not cool down. We went to breakfast (EJ provided buffet) and I had sweat pouring down my back and my face in the air conditioned room. I HATE that!

Our meetings were both done by 11am so we changed and went down to the pool. It was soooo hot and the pool felt awesome! We hung out by ourselves for a while and decided to go into Cabo San Lucas in the late afternoon and for dinner. Monday night was going to be the only night that we had to pay for dinner because we had been invited to go out for dinner one night with the General Partner that was hosting the trip and another night with a wholesaler that was hosting the trip. So we decided to celebrate our anniversary in Cabo, but needed to do some shopping around before dinner (our suitcase broke and we needed to buy a new one before we left).

We took the 4:00 shuttle into town (about 20 minutes) and set out to explore Cabo. We walked almost the entire city and were sweating like pigs. At that point, I decided that sweating was just a way of life there and I needed to get over it. I wasn't the only one who was going to smell by the end of the day! We went through a bunch of the market shops, said No to all of the vendors even when they were asking us to make them a deal, and finally found the one store in the city that sold luggage. They weren't open later that night and we didn't want to drag it behind us all night so we decided to come back later in the week.

We set off for our dinner reservations. We had decided to go to a restaurant called Edith's - one of the spouse's had recommended it in my meeting that morning. By that time we were exhausted - we had been walking the city in the 100 degree heat for 2+ hours. We finally found the restaurant after walking up a super steep hill, looked at the menu and realized that it was WAY out of our price range so we left to find another restaurant that people had recommend, The Office.

The restaurant is right on the beach - our table was in the sand. It was awesome to be able to sit down and take my flip flops off and put my feet in the sand right at my table. Other diners would leave their tables to take a quick swim in the ocean and then come back. It was pretty cool. Until the mariachi band showed up. I really hate that - the whole being serenaded thing. I especially hate it when they won't leave even though you've asked them to. But they did a mexican version of an Elvis song per Cornbread's request (I hate Elvis) and he tipped them and they went on their way.

After dinner we decided to walk the beach instead of the streets to get back to the shuttle. Our shuttle wouldn't be there until 9:00 so we had lots of time. We walked for a while and sat for a while. We stared at the water and the sky for a while and just sat there and talked. We eventually got up to find the shuttle, got back to the resort and went to bed. We were exhausted!

  © Blogger template 'Ladybird' by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP