Friday, October 31, 2008


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


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!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Day 1 - Sunday

Sunday morning our flight left at 9:00am. After a very restless night of sleeping - the whole don't-trust-the-alarm-clock-to-wake-me-up-in-time thing - we were finally on our way to this long awaited vacation. It had been officially earned in February, location options discussed for a month and registered for on April 1st. At that time it seemed like it would never get here and all of the sudden it was time to go.

Traveling is traveling. Nothing exciting - except for the fact that Cornbread's cousin, Jen, and her family were also traveling to Mexico that morning and we happened to be a couple of gates away from them and were able to have coffee with Jen and her husband for about an hour before we left. We were VERY excited about that!

When we got off of the plane in Los Cabos/San Jose Del Cabo airport a rush of HEAT hit us. We left the house that morning in cold, dreary weather and now we were standing in HOT, HUMID, SUNNY Mexico! We claimed our luggage and were quickly in the shuttle on our way to the resort. We have been repeatedly told by other FA's that when you go on a Diversification Trip you are treated like royalty. You don't touch your luggage until you get to your room, you get special treatment at check in, etc. etc. We were definitely looking forward to the royal treatment.

And we didn't get it. Ugh:) When we got off of the shuttle, Cornbread grabbed our carry on and we were going to check in. The shuttle driver told us to leave the carry on with the luggage and head inside. Without thinking we left it. After checking in we headed to our room and actually met the bellhop right outside our door as he was about to enter the room to drop off our bags. However, he had only 2 bags - the two that we had checked - he did not have the carry on. The bag with all of our money. We told him that there was one more bag and he said he would figure things out. We opened the door ready to enter paradise... and found a housekeeper mopping the bathroom - because the toilet had broken and overflowed. Great.

This trip was off to a fantastic start.

We went back to the lobby to talk to someone about our carry on and to wait for the room to get ready. And this was the view that we had while we were waiting:
Amazing. But were so stressed about that missing carry on, that we didn't truly enjoy it until later.

We were assured that they would find our bag and sent back to the room. By this point I had to go to the bathroom so badly so I walked in, went straight to the bathroom and the toilet was filthy - like really gross. And then when it was flushed water rushed out of the back of it. So we were back on the phone telling them that we could not stay in that room. We got a new room, our bag was dropped off and all of the tension left. We were finally ready for vacation - for two hours, though, we were quite disappointed in our vacation;)

We changed and went down to the pool where we met up with Cornbread's roomate from all of his training in St. Louis 3-4 years ago. He and his wife are super nice, but let me tell you - this girl does not stop talking! As nice as she is, she was a little exhausting for me LOL! We grabbed some lunch and hung out for the afternoon. The pool felt so nice in the 100 degree weather. Everything was beautiful - several pools, a beautiful ocean/beach, palm trees everywhere and sun! This was pretty much everything we had hoped for and we basically stopped thinking about anything for the rest of the trip.

Dinner was provided by EJ and was a big Mexican buffet on the Whales Terrace overlooking the ocean. And it wasn't burritos, fajitas or tacos, but shrimp, octopus and salads. It was delicious! We sat with Cornbread's roomate and his wife and two other FA's who had met on a previous trip and decided to each do this trip solo and hang out together - Kevin & J. Twidd (Jennifer). We hit it off with Kevin and J. Twidd right away and were excited to have some cool people to hang with throughout the week (I'm not bragging or anything, but lets be honest - not all financial advisors are as cool as us - as we would find out even more throughout the week;)

We also enjoyed the roomate's attempt at convincing the waiter to bring him 12 beers to bring back to his room (there was an open bar during the dinner and he was hoping to score some free beer for the rest of the week). He tried tipping the guy, he tried sweet talking him, he tried everything he could think of. He even thought he had gotten a deal worked out at one point and assured everyone at the table that it was happening - and then the waiter brought him 12 beers with the caps off and limes sticking out of the top. It was definitely one of those "you had to be there" moments;)

After dinner we went back to our room to unpack and go to bed. With the exception of a couple of hours in the middle, it was a good, good day. We were happy. We had no responsibilities for a whole week and nothing to think about. Cornbread was not going to think about the market and the tanking that was happening before we left. No stressing about his clients and their retirement accounts. This week was about leaving that all behind and hanging out together.

Monday, October 27, 2008

I'm back

Physically and mentally. I'm back in the states after a wonderful vacation and I'm back to blogging. Y'all have convinced me and reminded me of what this was to begin with.

So I'm back and I have a vacation to blog about:) I have to say that I'm hesitant to do this for a couple of reasons - a) its a little overwhelming to think about writing all of this down and b) I get worried that I will be viewed as bragging.

Let me address that up front - for my own sake. My husband works for a company that kicks their new advisors' rear-ends for the first 3-5 years. You earn a very small salary - Cornbread took a 75% pay cut - (although in a very small town, it is a sufficient salary) and they ask you to do some really difficult things that ultimately result in a battle of keeping your self-esteem. In return, you work for an absolutely incredible company (consistently voted in the top 10 companies to work for in the US & the #1 company to work for in Canada) and you receive some incentive/rewards along the way. One of those incentive/rewards is an opportunity to earn 2 trips each year. And the trips are amazing. The choices are incredible and the out of pocket cost is absolutely miniscule in comparison to what the trip actually costs (the advisor pays for excursions and lunches and thats pretty much it).

The advisor needs to hit a certain production level in order to earn a trip. In addition to hitting that production level, he/she has to hit goals in certain categories... by hitting those categories his/her entire book of business will be sufficiently diversified according to Edward Jones standards of practice and expectations - so its not JUST about hitting the production level, but hitting it in an intentional and appropriate manner. In other words, you're not going to earn a trip by reaching the production level by only selling insurance - you also need to have a certain amount in this fund class or that one, some applications for new hires, etc. etc. I'm putting this in very basic form to simply state that it isn't necessarily a sales incentive, but that the advisor needs to be intentional about how he is selling.

By the time the advisor has been with the company for 5-7 years he/she should be earning that production level pretty consistently and earning two trips each year (this is the typical timeline, there are, of course, people who earn them sooner and some that earn them later). This is a HUGE incentive/reward for Cornbread and me because it is going to give us an opportunity to travel to places that we would NEVER be able to afford to go to on our own. It will also eventually give us an opportunity to bring our girls to places that we could never dream of bringing them (we would have to pay upcharges to bring the kids in addition to their air fare... so this is not a cheap option and not going to happen for many, many years).

Our options for this trip, for example:
Mediterranean Cruise
Domincan Republic
Dublin, Ireland
Lake George, NY
Nevis, West Indies
Fall Foliage Cruise along the East coast
Napa Valley, CA
Albequrque, NM (hot air balloon festival)
Los Cabos, Mexico

Dave earned this trip back in February and we chose to take it in October to coincide with our 10 year anniversary. (He did not earn the next trip, but will now be working on earning the following trip which would take place in late summer/fall of 2009.) Very few of those trips were available in October - only 2-3 of them. In addition, the trip slots fill up pretty fast for some of the destinations (there are 4-6 weeks available for each trip and 50-75 slots for each week). So our choices were very limited. Napa Valley, for example, was an October trip, but it was full by the time Dave earned the trip so it was not an option for us.

So all of this to say, Cornbread worked very hard to earn this trip AND we have to pay taxes on it:) I am so proud of the work that he has done and I'm so proud and happy that he earned his first trip just in time for us to celebrate our 10th anniversary in a wonderful place! He has been beaten up for the last 4 years and definitely deserved this and earned it. We certainly don't have the money to pay for something like this on our own, but are very grateful and feel extremely blessed that he works for a company that offers this perk but requires you to earn it. We are also grateful that he works for a company like Edward Jones - it is such an amazing company and atmosphere/culture and we are blessed to be a part of it.

I am posting all of this because I worry that it will seem like I'm bragging when I post my daily adventures in Los Cabos, Mexico. I know that not everyone has the opportunity to do this kind of stuff. I also recognize that sometimes priorities are different between people and that sometimes causes tension. Cornbread and I place a high priority on experiences and that is what this trip and hopefully future trips provide for us! We are very fortunate and very blessed.

Thursday, October 09, 2008


Thats how I've been feeling about blogging lately. Wondering if I'm going to even continue.

Here is your opportunity to convince me to continue blogging and to provide me with suggestions on what to blog about. I need some inspiration - inspiration to continue and if I continue I need some inspiration on what to blog about.



Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Its over - or is it?

The month of September is finished. One whole month without sugar and one whole month with the tv in the crawl space (with a couple of exceptions.)

TV -
What have I learned?
Most notably, I learned that I'm not missing a whole lot and that I don't miss it. I watched a couple of the season premiers on the internet over the last couple of days. I've been called a cheater for doing this - which is probably accurate, but technically it isn't. While I was watching them and afterward I realized that I really didn't miss anything by not watching them. Even The Office wasn't spectacular or really worth watching. In fact, I kind of felt that the shows were pretty dumb and not worth watching at all... So will I add them back? I'm not sure. As of right now, I feel like I may do one night of TV per week - Thursday - but I'm not even sure I care too much about that anymore (before I watched those shows I was more adamant about wanting that one night.) I simply did not miss it and I would prefer to not get in the habit of turning the tv on when I'm bored.

In addition, I learned that it is really, really nice to not be deluged with advertisements all the time. The nice thing about watching shows on the internet is the lack of advertising. The breaks are much shorter (30 seconds) and you can turn the sound off.

I also learned that tv was much more of a habit than anything else... put the girls to bed, get my soup, sit on the couch, flip the tv on and stare at it for 2 hours before heading up to bed, get ready for bed, flip the tv on again to watch what I may have missed on a previous night or to watch a sitcom, then roll over and go to sleep. It was a routine. And it was the routine that was harder to let go than the actual shows.

I used to say that after a long day of dealing with the girls, all I wanted was some mindless entertainment - tv definitely provided that. I've learned that I enjoy life more when I have mindful entertainment like reading, talking, doing a puzzle, listening to a ballgame while picturing it in my mind. Its better - it is really much, much better!

How will we phase the tv back in?
This has been an ongoing discussion between me and Cornbread for the last 1/2 of a month. Neither of us are wanting to bring the tv back full force - we both greatly enjoyed the last month. We discussed bringing a couch to the basement and only having a tv in the basement. We also discussed allowing the girls to have a set amount of time every day to be able to watch - or allow them to pick one show per day and limit their watching to that show.

My opposition: it is so easy (for me) to allow the tv to become the babysitter. I get so absorbed in things that I'm doing and when they're quiet and not bugging me I get more of it done and don't realize how long they've been sitting in front of the tv. They also fight more when they watch more tv - not sure why that is. And if the tv is around it is very easy for them to come down in the morning and put cartoons on until it is breakfast time.

They haven't missed the tv at all.

Our solution: have the tv out (whether upstairs or in the basement) but take the cable cord off of it. If anyone is going to watch anything, then there is a bit off a hassle to doing so - and the girls can't reach the cord or attach it themselves.

We are still working on this phasing it back in issue. I could be ready to get rid of it all together, however, the White Sox just made the playoffs, it is Bears season and the debates are on - so we will have tv in some way for a while yet and maybe forever.

This was such a good exercise for our family - and probably mostly for me.

Sugar -
What have I learned?
That I can live without it. What a major epiphany for me! I love sugar. I love sweets. But I don't have to have them and I can go without them and I'm not missing out on anything. I've also learned that I feel better about myself when I'm not allowing a little here and a little there.

And as I've noted in previous posts, I've learned that having no option is better for me than telling myself that I'm going to eat better and then allowing myself to indulge because the situation warrants it. I've learned that parties and get togethers are just as fun without it and I've learned that I was eating more than I realized.

I've also learned that it could have been contributing to a weight loss plateau that I was experiencing. Before my sugar fast I was consistently bouncing between 126.6 & 129.8. I could not break 126.6. On September 2 I weighed 132 (Labor Day weekend at the cottage:) Today I weighed 124.0! Now I'm pretty certain that most of that was water retention (since my weight went from 132 to 127.6 in 3 days), however, I was finally able to break 126.6 and have seen pretty consistent small losses in the last month... or at least have been able to maintain lower weights than I previously had. Did I lose a ton? No (however, 3 pounds on me is pretty noticable), however, I think it helped break a plateau.

Where do I go from here?
I've thought a lot about this, actually. I don't miss sugar at all. Do I really want to phase it back in? No. So my thoughts on this:
* continue complete sugar fast until middle of October when Cornbread and I go to Mexico
* after vacation, continue sugar fast, however, allow myself to indulge on things that are worth indulging in - like homemade chocolate chip cookies, GOOD cheesecake, homemade desserts, etc.

My conclusion is that there really isn't much that is worth indulging in. Eating sugar for the sake of eating something sweet is not a good reason for me any longer. It is now time for me to be intentional in what I indulge in and when - no more allowances and justifications. I can do it. I'm afraid, though, that one sweet thing will launch my slippery slope - so we will see how this goes. Its likely that sugar will forever be a struggle for me.

Whats next?
I'm considering my next eliminations - but I won't start until November due to our vacation in the middle of the month. I've considered dairy, red meat (which isn't that difficult since I don't eat a whole lot of it anyway), gluten (that one would be tough), caffeine, alcohol, internet, etc.

I have a month to think about what things I am too dependent on.

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