Saturday, January 28, 2006

Nine Years

It's been nine years since my guy and I met, online. Boy, time fly's when you're having fun.

After chatting online, then on the phone, we met in person for the first time at the little coffee shop up the road from here. Every once in awhile now, when we drive by that coffee shop, we'll remember our first meeting there, and give each other a little wink.

Back then, his son was just 14 years old, my son was just 7 and about to turn 8 years old, and my daughter was 15. We had both been married for up-teen years, both divorced and just starting to date again.

One of the first memories of those early months was a birthday party for my son. My guy was so tickled at the "cake" I had for the kids. I made "a cup of dirt with worms" for each of all the kids at my son's party that year. The kids thought that was the greatest "cake" they've ever had! We still have a photo above our computer of my son and his cup of dirt with worms.

Another early memory was a trip we took to Monterey, California, just a few months after meeting. My parents still lived there, back then. My kids had gone to Monterey with my parents during spring break that year, and my guy and I went drove down later that week. We toured around Santa Cruz and went to Roaring Camp to ride the little steam engine through the redwoods.

We also spent some time in Monterey at the wharf, and in Pacific Grove... we had dinner at the Fishwife restaurant, a fresh fish with Latin accent restaurant. The hostess was unforgettable... she was probably in her early 70's and wished everyone well by giving them a hug and peck on the cheek as they left after dinner.

The Hale-Bopp comet was making it's appearance. Turns out we both were interested in astronomy. While driving across the Nevada desert on that trip to Monterey, we pulled off the road and up a side road in the middle of the night to stop and watch the comet. We even tried to video tape the comet, and weren't sure if we got it or not. We did. Technology is so good.

Over the years, we've had our ups and downs, together and in our own personal lives. He lost his Grandmother and then, his Dad. I lost my house and my car in a custody battle with my exhusband. We both lost jobs and were unemployed at the same time.

We have had bunches of good times that make up for any of the bad times, like traveling across America for a month in an 18-wheeler, big rig. I truly know the meaning of "America the Beautiful." Everywhere we went, I found myself saying, "Wow, it's beautiful here!" The south is absolutely BEAUTIFUL, and probably takes first place in beauty for me! From Arkansas to the Carolinas. Central and northern parts of Pennsylvania, Savannah and New York City were a few of the highlights of this trip. I'll have to do an entry on just that trip, someday.

Our kids are of the four-legged, fury kind. Our first was Harley. What a little character he was. His life was taken from us in a horrible accident, just over a year ago.

Lucy was our next, she chased after Harley from the moment we brought her home.

Then, came Molly. Molly is Harley's daughter.

A year later, Rodney, Ozzy and Peanut came home to us at different times, all three Harley's sons from the same litter.

Last year, we kept one of Lucy's puppies, Sadie. There's nothing like a herd of Yorkies smothering you with love the second you get home at night!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

No Excuses

Okay... this weekend was my birthday and I ate out for dinner, several times! I ate out with my guy, then out with his family, then out with my family, then cake with Gramma, and even snuck out for a late night dessert and coffee with my guy the last night he was home. Couldn't we just come together and go out once? Not! So, tonight's weigh in was close to what I expected. +0.4 lbs. for a grand total of -27.8 lbs! I weigh in most every Wednesday evening.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Committed To Me

There's something I haven't told you. It's like, if I don't tell anyone, I won't fail anyone, I couldn't fail myself. Ah... the mind can play such tricks on us.

I believe I'm past all this now. I feel new again, I'm happy with myself, I am proud of my accomplishment, and I can be totally honest with all.

When I booked our cruise, not so long ago, it was on the advice of one of the counselors I work with. Not specifically the cruise, but the idea of not having so much Christmastide in our plans. It was suggested that I go somewhere warm, somewhere less Christmas-like so not to be reminded so much of the traditional Christmases of my past. Christmas at home has always involved big family gatherings with all the best traditional celebrations, decorations, and homemade foods and treats.

Before talking with my co-worker, I was seriously thinking of New York City at Christmas. NYC, for me, would be the ultimate Christmas experience with the Radio City Rockettes, Rockefeller Center, horse drawn carriages, and shopping. It would also be full of Christmastide, something I was just not ready for. So, I booked a short cruise to Ensenada, Mexico. Let's get our feet wet in cruising.

About the same time I booked our cruise, my Mom had just completed her chemo and radiation therapies for breast cancer. You'd think being so sick from all the drugs in her body, she'd lose weight. Well, as it turns out, the drugs that kill cancer make some people gain weight, something my Mom did not need.

As my Mom regained her strength she decided to join Weight Watchers to help lose some weight. I started to follow along with the program from home, to encourage my Mom. Being overweight myself, I know after a few weeks on any weight loss program, it becomes harder to stick with it. So, I really wanted to be encouraging for my Mom, thinking the competition between us would help keep her going.

A few weeks later it dawned on me, I was going on a cruise. I couldn't go on a cruise and gain even more weight! Cruises. Gourmet food. Ack! I had been the heaviest I've ever been. I had even reached a point where I had stopped weighing myself, the numbers were just too scary.

So, this is it... I joined WW too! And just this last Friday, I went to the doc for a regular check-up and was excited to find that I had lost 22 lbs since my last visit in October. I know I lost some weight on my own, before any weight was documented, from that heaviest weight where I stopped weighing myself at home. WW has me down 19.2 lbs from when I started with them in October. From that highest home weight, I've lost a total of 28.2 lbs so far! I'm so excited!

My Mom has since taken a time off from WW over the holidays. She plans on returning soon. She was doing really well, before Christmas she had lost 18 lbs.

Right now, I am on fire with WW, yet I know I have a long way to go. I'm taking baby steps and making little achievable goals. I had worried about the cruise and what might happen. I had lost 23.8 lbs by the time we left on our cruise. I hoped to gain no more than 5 lbs but was sure, with all the food I ate while on the cruise, I would be closer to a 10 lb gain. I was really surprised I gained only 3.8 lbs at my next weigh-in. I seriously ate everything I wanted, I didn't hold back! And then, the following week I lost another 7.4 lbs!

Now that I have made this public knowledge, I plan to post my weight loss/gain each week. It'll be subtle, just a "WW -0.8/-28.2" with the current week's loss/gain before the "/" and the total loss from that highest scary home weight after the "/" at the end of my posting. Posting this will help me be accountable to myself.

Friday, January 20, 2006

It's Official

Yes! It's official! We received our Crown & Anchor Society cards in the mail today! We never had so much fun before and we are totally hooked. I'm already trying to plan our next adventure... Alaska, deeper into Mexico, Caribbean, New England, ???

Today, we also received our first car payment statement. Ouch! Okay, we'll have to really save for our next cruise. If there's a will, there's a way.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Back to Reality

We returned home from our cruise on Wednesday afternoon and had an extra day to adjust and relax before going back to work on Friday.

Thursday, we decided to go out for a late lunch - early dinner, and ended up driving by the car dealership that has the car I've been talking about for months. For at least six months, I have been eyeing this particular car. Everytime I saw one on the road, I'd point it out to whoever was with me. Well, there it was, sitting in the corner of the lot, all shiny and new looking. My guy decided to test drive it. I protested, "No! ...if we drive it, we'll come home with it!"

Well, we have a new car! I love it! It's the car I've been looking at and wanting for months. It's got all the bells and whistles from leather seats, gold tinted windows, sun/moon roof, stereo... just everything.

It's a used car and pretty much in perfect condition, a 2001 Lexus ES300. Reality has not hit our pocket books yet.

We missed my daughter for Christmas, she was here from Seattle and gone before we returned home. My little rock star has joined another heavy metal band, Day of Contempt, and moved to Los Angeles, CA, the day after Christmas. It's been kinda nice, she has emailed me frequently since she's been in L.A. The band is a bunch of guys from Australia and New Zealand, and she's the only gal, playing guitar and piano with them. I'm excited for her, excited that she has the opportunity to do what she wants to do in life and is actually do it. They started touring this week.

My son has been recovering well from his accident at work in November. We saw the doc last Monday and he expects my little guy will have a 70% recovery of the nerves in his finger. He has regained good mobility where before he couldn't move his finger at all. The feeling will take a long time to heel. The doc says it will take a year to regain what he'll have in feeling, to touch and sense hot and cold. The nerves will continue to recover as time goes on. My little guy is doing good. Other than his injury, he has finals this week and is studying hard. He had gotten far behind in all his classes when he had his accident. The teachers have all been very understanding and have allowed him to make up everything he's missed.

My parents are doing well. My mom has been cancer free and treatment free for a couple of months now. Her hair is starting to grow back, it'll be awhile before she'll be able to go without her wig. My dad seems to be doing well. They have been taking care of my grandmother's affairs while she is still in a Skilled Nursing home.

My grandmother is probably not going to be able to leave the nursing home. She is just not progressing as well as her caregivers had hoped. I made a promise to myself that I would stop by and visit with her most every day after work, she's just about on my way home. Today, she had been crying. She realizes she may never leave this facility. The goal was that she be able to get some rehab to get moving again, from the bed to the chair and back without help. Right now she still requires assistance, and she cannot go back to assisted living if she cannot transport herself. Her Medicare benefits run out in less than two weeks. Her reality is hitting her hard.

Me, I'm doing okay. You'd think I would be flying high with smiles after being a first time cruiser, then buying a new car, and Saturday will be my birthday. Of course, being gone from work for a week and it being just before year end, I am way behind at work. I'm working long hours every day to catch up. My guy has been gone since we got back from our cruise, two and a half weeks this run. I too have worked every day, except yesterday. He's coming home later tonight and will be home all week, loading and leaving again on Saturday, my birthday, for his next run. Yep, back to reality... work, work, work. Oh, but this time I plan to work for another cruise!

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Christmas Cruise - Day 3

Christmas Day... We had left Ensenada during our dinner the night before and would be at sea all day. They told us that about half way back to Los Angeles the Captain would turn off the engines and we would drift at sea for hours. We both were missing family on what's traditionally a family day. It was my first time away from my kids at my own doing. I found myself at the "Internet Center" where I got online and emailed my family, wishing them a very merry Christmas.

The fog was still with us, so not much sea to see, it was really thick fog. We toured around the boat, checking out all it had to offer. There were games and shows to see, and of course, there was always food.

For lunch we decided to go to the formal dining room. Everyone we met was really nice, and most had cruised many times before. Seemed like everyone we met had cruised before. It was interesting to hear just how many people had cruised before. And, not just once before, but many times before. I always thought it was incredibly expensive and cruising would be something I would never afford. I was thrilled to be there.

We checked out the "Love & Marriage" auditions and game, taylored after the "Newly Wed Game." What a hoot! Then, up on the upper deck there was a statue made of layers of glass in one of the lounges. Some of the photos in this entry are copies of photos found online of the things we saw on and around the ship.

Christmas dinner was wonderful. Both my guy and I chose the traditional turkey dinner. Mmmm. Father John and Ed both had something different and offered us tastes. Everything was really good. Towards the end of our dinner, the wait staff did a line dance through the restaurant. They balanced everything from bowls to bottles of condiments on their heads as they danced through the tables. The music and dance was lots of fun.

After dinner we met up with Father John and Ed again for the "Holiday Show" which was a Christmas dance routine the entertainment staff choreographed themselves in the two weeks prior to this cruise. The show was in the Sound of Music theatre.

We were to bed early as we had to be up and ready to leave the ship at 8 a.m. the next morning.

Back in Los Angeles, we went down for breakfast in the formal dining room. We had eaten breakfasts at the buffet on the 11th deck the other mornings. Breakfast was good and it was back to our rooms to finish packing to leave. We were able to stay in our room until our "color" was called for disembarking. Everyone was issued different colored tags, I think depending on which deck your room was on. The lines seemed to move right along. I won't lie, the lines were long, but they weren't bad. Before long, we were through US Customs and back on US ground waiting for our rental car.

It's amazing how big these ships are, and all that entertainment. And, the food! Everyone onboard is happy. The only thing missing on this cruise was sunshine. There are no regrets - we made our own sunshine, the trip was lots of fun, and we are hooked! We joined the "club" and hope to cruise again real soon.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Christmas Cruise - Day 2

Good morning, Ensenada, Mexico! We woke up to thick fog, which burned off some by the time we got up to the buffet for breakfast. The bay at Ensenada was beautiful. My photo, through the restaurant windows on the 11th deck, does not do the sight justice. The fog wasn't cooperating though. As soon as it burned off, it rolled back in. Ahh, but it was late Diciembre! La dia de la noche antes de Natividad! (My spanish is very rusty! Please pardon me if I have this backwards or wrong, I hope I'm close.)

After breakfast we got ready and in line for our excursion to the wineries of Ensenada. There were several excursion options to choose from. All allowed you to see bits of the local culture of this part of Mexico. Some of the choices were to... the City Center for Folk Dancing and getting serenaded by the Mariachi band, seeing Fox Studios Baja which features films like Titanic, Pearl Harbor, Tomorrow Never Dies. Whale watching season had just started when we were there and runs through March...just to name a few.

Our excursion took us by bus to the wineries, over the hill and away from the fog of Ensenada. Our tour guide was "Macy." She was very comical, she had a great sense of humor. As we drove through the town of Ensenada, Macy would tell us about points of interest. The bus ride was a good 40 minutes to the first winery.

Our first stop, L.A. Cetto Winery... They have this huge fiesta patio overlooking the Guadalupe Valley. It's said they have private parties and weddings there. Below the patio is a bullfighting ring. I was glad there were no bulls to fight on the day we toured here, but I found it interesting that bull fighting is still very much alive in Mexico.

Valle de Guadalupe << The Guadalupe Valley was absolutely beautiful, and it was December 24th, winter! As I stood there, overlooking this gorgeous valley, I could imagine the field in full bloom and how beautiful it must be.

Our second stop, Bodega de las Misiones...

Then back to the ship, and the fog... On the way back from the wineries, Macy asked us how we all liked our tour. She then pulled out a bottle of tequila from the L.A. Cetto winery for us to toast to a great day! She passed clear little dixie cups and the bottle, telling us all to take as much as we wanted, as we trucked on down the road. As the bottle was being passed, Macy explained there was three ways to drink tequila. She told of the first two ways to drink tequila, and said the third way was nasty. All she could say was that she had tried this third way, three times, and now has three daughters! lol

Dinner was wonderful, again! Father John ordered escargot for horderves, along with his usual gourmet cheese and fruit selections. He insisted we at least try the escargot... How could I say no to a priest? I tried it, and it wasn't bad. There was an excellent garlic sauce over them. Yep, they were pretty good. I only had one though. Everyone's dinner was perfect.

Father John and Ed joined us after dinner for the Magic Show in the Sound of Music Theatre. They had spent their day preparing for the Midnight Mass which would be in the same theatre later that night. It was Christmas Eve. We got the impression that Father John cruises frequently, doing the Catholic holiday surmons. My guy was even invited to cruise with him this coming spring. I was told I would have to pay for myself if I wanted to go along...?? Hmm... split my share of the cost with my guy! Another cruise with my guy and Father John? Sure! Wouldn't that be great!

After dinner and before everyone left the dining room, the Head Waiter announced they would be having an unplanned Chocolate Bar outside the main dining room, at 11:30pm! (I wonder if they thought we were all tired and needed sugar to make it to Midnight Mass?) It sounded wonderfully delightful! Mmmmm....

We saw the Magic Show and barely made it back to our room. We both were so exhausted from all the excitement. We had every intention of going to the Midnight Mass, but fell asleep before the Chocolate Bar was even put out! We missed them both! Too much fun, too much good food, too much, too much... What a day!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Christmas Cruise - Day 1

We made it to our ship at about 2pm, the day of departure, after a 40 minute shuttle ride from the Bob Hope, Burbank Airport. We shuttled with two locals, a gal who lived in an apartment on Melrose Avenue, and a guy who lived above a museum in which he was recently employed, on Wilshire Boulevard in downtown Los Angeles. We let the two of them know, right away, that we were from Idaho, and our "guided tour" was on! They showed us all sorts of points of interest and gave us ideas on what we could do when we got back from our cruise. After the two of them arrived at their perspective stops, it was just the shuttle driver and us. The driver had a heavy accent and was very difficult to understand, but he tried very hard to continue our "tour" through Los Angeles to our port in San Pedro.

Arriving at the World Cruise Center, we were dropped off at the pier number noted on our travel documents. Our baggage was checked and thrown onto luggage carts then wheeled off to this huge warehouse to be xrayed and delivered to our Stateroom. The warehouse was the length of ship and almost twice the width of the ship. (...see the photo above, the building to the right of the ship pointing towards you...that's the warehouse and US Customs.) Our luggage would be in our Stateroom when we got checked in.

There were two HUGE ships docked that day. I had never seen ships so big before, only on t.v. For first time cruisers, the sight of those ships was breathtaking! Our excitement was building!

We entered the check-in point. I expected the lines to be longer than they were but I was also surprised at just how many people were there. We thought we were early. Boarding stopped at 4:30pm and our ship was to depart at 5:30pm. The lines moved quickly.

As our documents were double checked, we were informed we were at the wrong ship! WHAT?!!? We both ran for our checked luggage being loaded on the wrong ship! Did I mention, the warehouse was huge!? I was yelled at, "LADY! You can NOT go in there!" by the warehouse guards. OMG! Our luggage! We prayed we would see the guy who checked our luggage. After a couple of real frantic moments, our luggage was found and we headed off to "our" ship. OMG! Can you imagine losing our luggage to another cruise ship? Whew! They told us, normally, our ship was at the pier we were dropped at, but this was a special weekend (Christmas) and there were two ships docking and "our" ship was up around the other side. Alrighty then...

Once we got over the initial shock of almost losing our luggage, we checked our luggage again. This time onto the right dock with the right ship. We were moving right through the lines, and the next thing we knew, we were entering the 4th deck of our ship...
The whole ship was decorated for Christmas! It was BEAUTIFUL! All that Christmas garland accented by all that shiny brass, it truly was beautiful. There were Christmas trees everywhere. The center piece was a gingerbread village with Santa and his reindeer...

We hadn't eaten all day... we left Boise at 6am, and we had been running ever since. We flew into Oakland, CA and took off again and landed in Burbank, CA. Then we caught a great shuttle ride to San Pedro. So, we found our room, dropped off our small carry-on luggage, met our Stateroom Attendant, Kenneth, and went up to the 11th deck for lunch. We were starving!

Cruise ship food? OMG! The lunch buffet was wonderful! Just incredible. Every meal was four star! Mmm...we just wanted a snack, dinner was in a couple of hours.

If you've cruised before, you know it's mandatory to do the life jacket drill before you set sail. I just couldn't wipe the smile off my face! I was so excited to be there! I wasn't too excited about the drill but understood it was necessary. After the drill, we went back to our room, left our life jackets and went checking out the ship. Dinner would be soon...

We were not assigned a table when we booked the cruise, so we had to wait in line for seating. We were assigned a small table of four (perfect!)

Some of you know, my Christmas last year was awful, to say the least. It was a major family breakup, with me caught in the middle. This year, I wanted to have nothing to do with Christmas plans at home. I just couldn't handle another Christmas like last year, it's still very painful for me to believe my family has become these strangers that I still love deeply. A short Christmas cruise to Mexico was my answer. My guy agreed, and the cruise was booked. I was so nervous about leaving my family, worried about this and that. But, bottom line, I just wanted to have fun, enjoy my time with my guy, and have a non-stressful holiday. Others may think I was running away from my problems, but seriously, I just wanted to be happy, I wanted to be away from the holiday stress. I didn't hide from my family, they all knew I was going away on vacation at Christmas this year, I told them long before the cruise.

Back to our cruise... Dinner... We received our table assignment. A quiet little table, near the back of the restaurant. We were joined by Father John and his Jewish assistant, Ed. I about died! (...picking my jaw up from the table...) A Catholic priest?!!? (guilt poured through me, yes, I was raised VERY Catholic). Here I am, intentionally spending Christmas away from my family, AND I'm divorced and living in sin! Oh my! My guy dove right into conversation with our table mates, and within minutes, Father John had me totally at ease. Having Father John and Ed at our table turned out to be a hoot! We thoroughly enjoyed their company. Again, we could not believe the food. It was INCREDIBLE! Four star. Our wait staff was wonderful. Father John ordered special appetitzers, over and above the regular menu, at every meal.

Our ship set sail as we were at dinner. After dinner we selected our excursion for the next day and hung out on the deck for awhile before heading to bed. We hadn't had much sleep getting ready for the trip the night before and we were exhausted.

I'll be back soon to tell about Day 2...

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Can You Say, WOW!?

Words cannot describe the fun we had!
I want to go again, soon!
This was our sister ship, leaving port the same evening as us.
Friday, December 23, 2005