Life, Life-condensed

I’m a Proud Daughter

My mother is so crafty – and I mean that in the actual arts and craft sense.

She can take an ordinary object and create something beautiful out of it. Take this rock for example:

Seriously. How cute is that?!?

She entered it in a special contest at our county fair and won 3rd place!

In fact, she entered 20 items total and won 18 ribbons! She astounds me because my mom does this every year and every year, she virtually OWNS the fair with her talent.

(Yes. I’m bragging. She’s awesome, okay?)

And even though she walks away from the fair every year with a pocket full of ribbons, she’s never won the big, purple Champion ribbon. (The Champion ribbons are the “Best-of-the-Best”).

Until this year.

Congratulations on your Champion ribbon, mom!!

Here’s what my mom said about her Champion-winning shawl:

But my proudest moment was when I saw the purple shawl I knitted. It not only had a first place blue ribbon on it, but it also had a Champion ribbon AND a Sponsors Choice Award attached to it. In all the years that I’ve entered my projects in the Fair, this is the first Champion ribbon I’ve ever gotten! And it’s the first Sponsors Choice Award too. Wow!

A lady that works at the Fair said that she was there when it was being judged, and the judge said that it was “perfect”! I won the Champion ribbon over all the knitted items in the whole section. That made me feel really proud.

That makes me really proud, too.

Congratulations mom!

Cruise 10, Vacations

Vacation 2010: Cruising the Carnival Glory

Cruise '10

Here’s the thing about cruising – it’s like five vacations rolled into one package. Or in our case, three vacations rolled into one package. (Unless you want to lump New York in there and then it’s four, but you get what I mean).

You have the cruise itself, then each port of call. And where else can you have so much fun while getting there??

I’m telling you, if you have never taken a cruise, I HIGHLY recommend it. And it’s not as expensive as you think it is. When you take in the cost of a hotel room (cabin), WITH food, WITH entertainment, WITH babysitting (the cruise camps are awesome programs for children keeping them busy while you go do your own thing – and this includes programs for pre-teens and teenagers), THEN the cost of traveling TO the ports of call, well … you have one heck of a deal.

It makes traveling places FUN. (Not to sound like an infomercial or anything).

The boys had their own cabin.

Our favorite part about cruising, and all four of us concur on this, is the food. The guys LOVE being able to eat at anytime. I love that the guys can eat at any time. This means, I don’t have to stress about finding someplace to eat, and then getting grumpy about having to pay an arm and a leg for it. If you’ve ever gone on vacation and struggled with the “where are we going to eat” question, then you can appreciate what I’m saying.

This was our third time on a cruise, the boys’ second time. We sailed on the Valor last year, the Glory this year. The Glory is the Valor’s sister ship so other than the (gaudy) decor, everything was pretty much the same – we didn’t have any trouble getting around. (Though we continue to get mixed up no matter how many times we’ve cruised).

Look at the tables. Now look at the seats. (And yes, they were VELVET!) Tacky!

Kevin and I have a theory about the decor on these cruise ships – we think the company must get the rejects or overstocks on fabrics and other items and use this stuff on their ships to save on cost. I mean otherwise, do they really PAY someone to decorate their boats like this on purpose?! Wow.

Though I love everything about cruising (well, except for the seasickness part, but that can be knocked out with a Draminine or two), I think my favorite part is leaving the port. There is something SO EXCITING about being on the deck of the ship and watching the city you just navigated like crazy in order to make the boat on time get smaller and smaller.

But this departure was my favorite, I think. We had a bird’s eye view of New York’s breathtaking skyline.

I'm seriously thinking of blowing this up and framing it, I love it so much.

The only time we actually SAW the Empire State building while in New York.

(In fact, Kevin edited a few of the New York skyline pictures, you can see one here and here).

There’s a sense of anticipation and your nerve endings start tingling with adrenaline because you know you have DAYS of fun and adventures ahead of you – it’s hard NOT to get excited.

See the people in the hot tubs? It's like "Dude. Could you not wait TEN MINUTES and appreciate the view before jumping into hot water swirling with bacteria?"

Jazz is such a goofball. (And I wouldn't want him any other way).
See that large white ball near the tail of the boat in the above picture? We were standing on that same deck, only toward the front of the boat and to say it was a tad windy? Would be pretty accurate. 😀

Another reason I love cruising is because we’re forced to sever all ties with the world. Our cell phone service stops working and there isn’t any Internet. Wait, scratch that, there’s an Internet Cafe that you’re welcome to use on the boat, if you don’t mind paying $25.00 for ONE hour of service.

Seriously. Only, that’s nothing compared to what it was last year – $60.00 for one hour. Oh yes, yes it was.

This means that the boys? Have nothing better to do than actually TALK to us. I love it. It’s so nice to have their full attention and I can’t tell you the number of times they’ve surprised me with things they’ve said or an opinion they had about something that I didn’t know before simply because we were all too distracted to listen to each other.

I honestly think that’s the number one reason why I love cruising so much – it gives us a chance to bond as a family and I hope the boys are taking some pretty awesome childhood memories away from these trips so they can wistfully sigh as they retell the stories to their children.

We relaxed and goofed off our first day at sea. This was exactly what Kevin needed to recuperate from the whirlwind that was New York City. The boys played video games. I mentioned before they have clubs for the kids – they have three, actually. They have Camp Carnival for kids 2 – 11, Circle “C” for tweens (12 – 14) and Club O2 for kids 15 – 17. If you have social kids (I do not), your kids will love these clubs. They have all sorts of activities that the kids can get involved with and it gives them a chance to make friends their own age on the boat instead of hanging out with boring mom and dad.

While the kids played video games or hung out in the cabin, Kevin rested on deck

and I cuddled with my Kindle.

I was wearing a jacket because the closer we got to Canada, the colder it got.

This cruise was different for us. The last two times, we cruised to places down by the Equator so it was hot. So hot, in fact, that I had had to edit the sweat stains out of our vacation pictures. (True story).

But this time, since we were sailing toward Canada, the temps dropped and we actually had to wear jackets at one point. In fact, about four hours out of New York, we ran into some dense fog. So dense, in fact, that we couldn’t even see the water. While standing outside, and leaning over the railing.

It was really strange. To top it off, the ship blew it’s fog horn every five minutes so it was sort of an eerie feeling. Though it was still warm, the air was cool, like outdoor air conditioning. It was quite pleasant (initially, too long though and it was chilly) and quite a different experience for us.

It's like I'm standing next to a green screen, only it's fog!

Kevin took a video. Listen carefully, you can hear the fog horn in the background. And note the people out in bathing suits – it was an odd juxtaposition of warm and cold.

I also made a short video about our first day of cruising:

I mentioned that we were going to go play the slot machines, we did. We allotted $10 and when that $10 ran out? We’d stop. That lasted for five minutes and I’m sad to report, we did not win that BMW. *sniff*

The boys loved relaxing in their very own cabin.

I’m seriously thinking about taking a cruise to no where one of these days. We all really love just hanging around the boat and relaxing. It’s so nice to be waited on, to have food readily available and to have entertainment decks away.

One of these days, we might just do that.

Next stop? Saint John, New Brunswick.

Cruise 10, New York, Vacations

Vacation 2010: New York (Part Three)

(You can read parts one and two here).

If you’re just tuning in, my husband was in a motorcycle accident back in April – a pretty serious accident. He crushed his pelvis, had to have three surgeries and when we went to New York? He had only been up and walking for three weeks. (I know!)

The first day we spent the day riding the New York subways and walking all over New York (okay, not really, but it felt like it), the second day I meant to take it easy on him. I had every intention of letting the man rest.

Honest.

Only, it didn’t quite work out that way.

Now before you go and think I was a cruel and heartless task master and wielded a whip over the man’s head, I didn’t. In fact, I begged him to stay around the hotel and just take it easy. The boys and I would go around the city, take pictures and show him later.

But he refused (just one of the reasons I love him so much – his stubborn streak) and he insisted on coming with us. Since we were only planning on going to Rockefeller Center and Central Park later, I thought, what could it hurt?

Famous last words.

Look at those geniune, relaxed smiles!
We headed out to Rockefeller Center. The highlight of our New York trip, for the boys, was our trip to Nintendo World.

The boys are big-time gamers. BIG TIME. They live for games. They talk, eat, sleep, breathe games. So getting a chance to visit the Nintendo World Store in New York City was a dream come true.

When we finally located the store (we got a bit turned around trying to find it), the boys actually broke out into smiles. Even Kevin got into the excitement and we spent an hour roaming around the store and looking at all the Nintendo goodies. (I confess, I was a bit disappointed with the store. I was expecting something bigger and flashier, but the boys really seemed to enjoy themselves while we were there so …)

I told the boys that they could pick out one souvenir; I’ve never seen them put so much thought into shopping before.

What to buy ... what to buy ...

Dude ended up picking this character and Jazz picked this thing. I don’t know man, I don’t even pretend to know who these characters are or try to understand the appeal, but *shrug* to each his own, I suppose.

One good thing about hanging out at the Nintendo store though, it gave Kevin a chance to catch his breath and relax for a bit.

"Pa-PER" (Inside joke)

A dragon made out of Legos hanging from the ceiling at the Lego store. Cool.
We walked across the square and went into the Lego store. Again, I was a little disappointed – I was expecting something BIGGER and FLASHIER! I mean, we were in New York, everything was bigger and flashier. But it was a nice, two-story store with a bunch of Lego sets for sale along with a tower filled with an assortment of various Legos of every shape and color that kids could buy by filling up a cup for such-and-such price.

Can you imagine trying to get that cup of odd Legos home?

We headed back to the Subway after the Lego store. I think now, we should have just stuck around Rockefeller Center and hung out for a while. But instead, we spent our time trying to find somewhere to eat (we ended up at some Chinese joint), and navigating an indoor mall.

Since we didn’t spend that much time at Rockefeller Center and had some time to spare, I made the stupid brilliant suggestion of going to Grand Central Station. I had read about it in the tour book and they recommended going if for no other reason than to appreciate the architecture.

Standing at the heart of Rockefeller Center.

Again, I was thinking about Kevin. I knew he was getting tired (he was also sweating profusely – not only because it was hot outside, but because his body was working overtime trying to keep up) and I figured, “HEY! We’ll get to Grand Central Station, sit down, people watch for a bit and then head back to the hotel.”

Sounds like such a simple plan, doesn’t it?

Erhm … no.

Here’s why …

We found our way back out to the Subway platform from Rockefeller Center. We got on our train, then got off on the stop we needed to transfer trains – the “F” train. The “F” train platform is two floors down, this meant stairs, a lot of stairs. Not so bad going down, but hell for Kevin going back up.

Once we got off the “F” train and up the stairs from hell, we then had to walk another 1/2 mile before actually getting to Grand Central Station.

True. It was impressive.

New York '10

Yes. The building was magnificent.

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But until I could find someplace for poor Kevin to sit down, I didn’t really pay attention to the beauty or appreciate the magnificence because my poor husband was now a puddle of sweaty goo.

To my horror, and EXTREME annoyance, there was no place to sit down unless you wanted to go into a restaurant and buy something.

New York '10

Now I ask you, what sort of station doesn’t have places to sit?? (Though I’m sure it’s because New York doesn’t want to encourage homeless people from sleeping in the station – I get that, but STILL).

Now normally, this wouldn’t have been a problem. However, Kevin really needed to sit down and rest and since we couldn’t find any place to sit down, we did a “National Lampoon’s Vacation” moment: we looked around Grand Central Station, nodded, said, “Yep. Here we are. It’s quite grand” and then left.

We were there probably about five minutes, tops.

We walked the 1/2 mile BACK to the “F” train and were able to snag a bench for Kevin. He sat to catch his breath. Only, it was super hot (there is absolutely no air in the Subways until the cars whizzed by) so I know he couldn’t have been very comfortable.

We walked the two flights back down to the “F” train and back up two flights of stairs to reach our street. We made it back to the hotel and Kevin just collapsed onto the bed from sheer exhaustion.

Keep in mind that this whole trip? He was ONLY using his cane. He had nothing to lean on and help support him.

I felt terrible. I mean, really awful. I thought it would be such a simple trip out to Grand Central Station, that he would have a chance to catch his breath before we started back and … no. If I had had any inkling that there would be so much walking and then no place to sit down, I never would have suggested it.

Trust me when I say, Grand Central Station was Kevin’s least favorite part of this entire trip. 😦

We spent the rest of the afternoon at the hotel so Kevin could rest. We ate dinner at the Green Cafe

Then we headed to Central Park.

With his walker.

We hadn’t used his walker up to this point, but after our afternoon fiasco, well, I’m really glad we had it because it really helped him get around a lot easier.

Central Park was gorgeous.

New York '10

It’s so amazing that the city planners put this gorgeous, wooded piece of land in the middle of the madness that is New York City.

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Central Park is literally a breath of fresh air after the noisy, crowded New York streets.

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A sweet haven from the madness.

I can see why New Yorkers love it so much.

There were runners, bikers, families with strollers, young lovers sprawled on the grass making out (that was uncomfortable) and even an amusement park for the kiddies.

New York '10

When we happened upon a clearing that had five baseball fields on it, we stopped to rest.

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Though it was still hot, it wasn’t AS hot and we savored the cool breeze while we watched a variety of different baseball games.

Many of the benches had small plaques that people had paid for with various messages on them. This one was my favorite.

The trip to Central Park was balm on our Grand Central Station wound.

New York '10

We didn’t get to explore Central Park very much. The evening was wearing on and we were ALL getting pretty tired by that time, but we saw enough to satisfy our curiosity.


(I apologize for the shakiness – Dude took this while we were walking through, but I thought you might be interested in watching it. You can see me helping Kevin at one point – I had my arm around him because we were walking up an incline and I was gently “pushing” him so it wouldn’t be quite so hard for him).

Even though we were only in New York two days, it felt like a week. We did a lot. We saw a lot, but not nearly enough. I’d like to go back someday. Maybe take in a Broadway show (if I can bring myself to cough up the money [expensive!]), visit the 911 Memorial, but I don’t see that happening any time soon.

Though New York fascinated me, I have to be honest, it simply wasn’t my bag of tea. I didn’t care for the noise, the sensory overload, the feeling I was being stuffed into a sardine can of humanity – I much prefer my soft, quiet, slow-paced town in the middle of nowhere.

But I’m glad we went. It was quite an experience.

Thanks for reading along. I’ll write about our cruise next.

At the Moment

At the Moment …

Do you ever get the feeling you're coming and going? This is one of my favorite vacation pictures, I think.

I’m getting ready to write the last entry on Kevin’s CaringBride page. I’ll likely leave it live for another two months and then delete it off the web. I plan on converting his journey into a softback book as a keepsake. Hopefully, I’ll never have to use the CaringBridge page again. (Though it’s been an awesome tool).

*****

We went to the bone doctor yesterday. They took fresh x-rays of Kevin’s pelvis and knee. Kevin said it was interesting because when they positioned him on the table (they had to remove his shorts because he was wearing cargo shorts and the metal would mess up the x-rays – he was pretty embarrassed about that), he made it a point of lying straight. However, the x-ray of his pelvis was clearly NOT straight. His right hip is higher than his left (which would also explain the fact that his belly button is off kilter – his entire pelvis has shifted position). The physical therapist said that that should work itself out as he heals and his bones and muscles heal.

And the bones are definitely healing. The doctor showed us where his fractures were and the white lines, that indicate new bone is growing, were indeed thicker and more pronounced when compared to his last series of x-rays.

His knee has healed. He no longer has to wear the leg brace (he hadn’t been wearing it for a few weeks anyway), so we don’t have to worry about that anymore. Kevin was concerned because he still can’t bend over enough to reach his feet (he has to twist his body into a pretzel to put his shoes and socks on – he hates asking me for help), but again, the doctor said that that would come with time. He just needed to be patient and continue stretching and exercising. The doctor said his pelvis will likely never be where it was before his accident, but over time, he should regain most of his mobility and flexibility back.

Kevin was also concerned about the continued swelling in his right leg. Some days are worse than others and his right leg swells to nearly twice it’s normal size. But since he sustained nerve damage in his right leg, the nurse told us that it takes a lot longer to heal than bone does. In fact, she said one inch of nerve usually takes about one month to heal and considering his entire leg was damaged, it could take up to a year or longer for that to completely heal, or at least heal as much as it’s going to. We were a bit discouraged to hear that part, but neither of us were surprised. He was involved in a pretty serious accident so OF COURSE it will take time for him to recover.

I think we’ve been so encouraged by his walking that we just thought he would continue to heal as quickly. But the doctor said no – generally speaking, the body heals quickly the first three months after an accident, and then the healing process slows down after that three months have passed. It’s like the body heals the most important parts first to get the body functional, and then concentrates on fine tuning the smaller areas later.

He no longer has to take Coumadin (blood thinner). Thank God for that. I was never too happy about him being on that to begin with, but it was necessary given the injuries he sustained. They stopped prescribing the narcotic he was taking for pain and have prescribed a less powerful pain killer for him. Which is fine because Kevin usually only ends up taking two pain killers a day – one shortly after lunch and then again at bedtime. He says he’s not really in any pain anymore, he’s just really sore at the end of the day. Other than the pain killer, he’s not on any more drugs. He’s continuing to take calcium and vitamin D every day, just to build up his bone mass.

He now needs to concentrate on straightening his left knee out (it still wants to bend and that affects his walking), and to lie on hard surfaces to stretch his lower back out. This will help him walk straighter.

He still walks like a toddler (especially when he’s tired), but his gait is definitely getting better. We’re honestly just happy he’s walking at all. With God’s help, he’ll return to a normal walking pattern over time.

He doesn’t have to go back to the doctor until October. It’ll be interesting to see how much improvement he’s made by then.

*****

The woman who hit Kevin was scheduled to appear in court on the 23rd. We haven’t been going to court (this was the third time the woman was supposed to be in court) but have been keeping track of what’s been happening through a court website. She was supposed to appear with her lawyer, but according to the website, she never showed up. (Probably because she couldn’t find a lawyer dumb enough to take her case).

A warrant has now been issued for her arrest.

This is both satisfying and frustrating. I mean, the only way they’re really going to catch her is if she breaks another law and they pull her over for that. It’s maddening to think she’s STILL out on the streets, living her life, probably driving around, and endangering those around her. She’s a menace and needs to have her license revoked and probably some jail time.

I’m not holding my breath.

Honestly, I could say so much more about this … person …, but I’ll just leave it at that.

*****

Jazz got his PE grade in the mail yesterday – an A. (I didn’t expect anything less). I’m glad we received something, I was beginning to wonder if he was going to get credit for it.

He also got a mailing from his band director about the band program this year. The show sounds like it’s going to be AMAZING. I can not WAIT to view it on August 17th. I’m also looking forward to playing around with my Canon Rebel zoom lens that Kevin gave me for Christmas specifically so I could take some pictures of Jazz on the field. Since we can’t take video, this is an acceptable second option.

His schedule is going to be insane, which means OUR schedule will be insane. In addition to band camp, Tuesday night practices and (nearly every) Friday night football games, his band will be competing every weekend in October. It looks like we’ll be going to Tulsa, OK one weekend, Broken Arrow, OK another weekend and St. Louis two weekends in a row. (They might possibly be going to Columbia, MO the last weekend).

I can not wait!! I get pretty excited about marching season – if you couldn’t tell. 😀

*****

I made a decision.

I’m going to pursue yet another dream of mine.

The first was to graduate from college.

I did that in 2003.

Next? Pursue a career as a law clerk and/or a paralegal.

I know. Call me crazy. But this is something I’ve wanted to do since … forever, but Kevin talked me out of it.

“You really want to work for a bunch of *bleeps*?” he asked.

Well ….. yeah.

I love to research. And that legal mumbo-jumbo is interesting to me.

Like I said, call me crazy.

(I had originally thought I would pursue nursing, but after researching it? I simply don’t have the stomach for it).

But here’s the deal: the kids? Don’t really need me anymore. Dude is driving. Jazz will be driving soon. They can take care of themselves. They will be living their own lives in a few (very few) years.

It’s time for me to focus on my career.

I’ve been researching what I need to do. Since I already have a Bachelor’s of Science in Professional Writing, all I really need to do to get started is take some classes. Then, I can get a clerical job in a law firm and work toward my certificate and become a full-fledged paralegal.

Easy, right? Well, no. But I’m up to the challenge.

And I’ve already taken the first step. I registered to take the first class at Ozarks Technical College. It’s an online class and they “meet” twice a week. The classes are only six weeks long and there are a total of six classes that I would need to take before I could really look for a clerical job.

I start September 15th. (I would have started sooner, but August 1st is when I will be BOMBARDED by emails from schools wanting me to update their websites and I know, from past experience, that August and September are the busiest months for me when it comes to my website work).

In between my website work and my classes, I’ll most likely get a part-time job somewhere, though I’m not sure where. Kevin is pretty adamant about me not working for a retail store (though Kohl’s has a “Now Hiring” banner up at their store and HELLO, discounts!!) because he doesn’t want me working nights and weekends, but honestly, I don’t see how I can get out of NOT working those hours and be part time. Part time people always get the crappy hours – that’s just how it works.

So, we’ll see. My options are wide open and … I love that.

Though Kevin talks about getting a job, I’ve been discouraging him. I mean … why? The man has worked his ass off for twenty some-odd years to support me and the boys, now it’s my turn. I’m willing, I’m able and I’m ready to take on that role. I think he should just take it easy and try to work out some sort of deal where he works freelance and out of our home.

It really would be the perfect option for him. Since he’s an accountant, I’m pretty sure he could make that happen.

But again, we’ll see.

I just thank God, every day, that we’re in a position where we have options. Not a lot of people do at this point.

Cruise 10, New York, Vacations

Vacation 2010: New York (Part Two)

See the boys' serious faces? I think it's safe to say they weren't exactly loving New York.

We slept well in New York, despite the fact that there is an infestation of bed bugs (and many other places, apparently). We were first clued in to the bed bug problem by all of the ads for getting rid of bed bugs on TV. Though we know what bed bugs are (sort of), it never dawned on us that it could become such a problem that an entire city had to advertise to get rid of them. They hang out in hotels and snuggle down into suitcases so that the unsuspecting traveler inadvertently takes them home with them.

You can imagine how that could quickly become a country-wide problem.

But so far, it looks like we left those critters back in New York – at least no one has come forward with tiny little bites all over their body.

One night, we were woken up at 3:00 in the morning by loud pounding. You’d be hard pressed to NOT find any sort of construction going on in New York and our street was no exception. In fact, a few doors down, they had imploded a building (not while we were there), and were working on building it back from the ground up. WHY they were working at 3:00 in the morning is beyond me, but it was very annoying to wake up to. Seven o’clock in the morning I can understand, but three o’clock in the morning?? Listen here New York, YOU may not like to sleep but WE do!

Other than that, Kevin and I slept fine. Dude and Jazz, on the other hand, didn’t get much sleep. One was always kicking the other or hogging covers so they spent the majority of the night trying to find comfortable positions or silently cursing each other.

Heading to the subway.
Because Kevin had only been walking for three weeks and really couldn’t physically handle a lot of activity, we purposefully kept our itinerary low key. I really wanted to see the Statue of Liberty and Central Park and Kevin really wanted to see Times Square, so we made plans to try and squeeze those things in.

We decided to go to the Staten Island Ferry first. (If I had known our cruise boat would sail right past The Statue of Liberty [in fact, it got a lot closer than the ferry did] we would have skipped this activity all together. Ah, for the gift of foresight).

But we needed to find a way there. I didn’t want to spend half our vacation budget on taxis, but I wasn’t sure if Kevin would be able to handle the subway, mainly the stairs down into the subway. So, we asked the front desk if there was a handicap accessible entrance anywhere close and luckily, there was one one block away. We used the elevator to get down into the subway, purchased our Metro cards and waited for our train to arrive.

Now, we have some experience with subways from our trip to Washington D.C. a few years back, so we knew what to expect. And to my surprise, the cars weren’t all that crowded (but filled up fast around rush hour). And we easily navigated the subway routes while we were there, though not all of our stations had an elevator for Kevin. So he ended up navigating way more stairs than we thought he would have to. But as usual, he handled his discomfort like a champ.

Standing in front of a forest-y looking divider at a subway station.

The ride out to Staten Island was quite long. We must have gone through close to ten stops before we reached the one we needed. As usual, there was a lot of construction going on, so it was noisy and a bit congested as people had to walk around it, but we entered the HUGE building. There weren’t that many people there (though it filled up close to the time another ferry was scheduled to arrive) and Kevin had a chance to sit down and take a load off while we waited for the ferry.

New York '10

We waited about thirty minutes, boarded the ferry and started making our way across the harbor.

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I actually ended up on the wrong side of the ferry (the Statue of Liberty was on the other side), and it was so crowded that I didn’t even try and make it – I would just make sure I was on that side on the way back. In the meantime, we spent a relaxing fifteen minutes or so admiring the New York skyline.

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We made it to Staten Island, read a little about it’s history, grabbed some hot dogs wrapped in pretzels and then caught another ferry on the way back to Manhattan.

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This time, I made sure I could see the Statue of Liberty.

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A myriad of emotions washed over me when I finally saw her: pride, freedom, accomplishment, strength, confidence, hope … it was amazing. There is just something … awe-inspiring about actually seeing the Statue of Liberty. She’s beautiful and it was interesting to watch people gaze at her. The boat got quiet as we passed her and you could almost reach out and touch American Patriotism.

It wasn’t nearly as crowded on the ride back and we sat back and enjoyed the cool breeze.

New York '10

We got back on the subway and rode uptown toward Times Square.

Though there were more people on the subway by this time, they were surprisingly quiet. I guess I was expecting there to be a lot of chatter, but there wasn’t, everyone kept to himself/herself. And it was interesting to see the number of people who offered Kevin a seat, which we thought was really nice (of course, I later found out that they are required to give up their seat if a disabled person is in the vicinity – it’s the law. So … even though I’m sure they were being nice, I’m also sure they were sort of forced to be nice).

How cool is it that the truck behind Kevin says "Inspire."
We arrived at the Times Square stop, walked up the stairs and out into pure chaos.

It was loud.

It was noisy.

It was crowded.

It was completely overwhelming.

I felt like I was in a movie – I turned around and kept being bombarded by over stimulation. There was so much to see, so much to hear, so many people pressing in on us from all sides – it was insane.

The boys almost immediately shut down. I’m pretty sure they frowned the whole time we were in Times Square. They didn’t care for it, at all. Kevin was fascinated.

We didn’t stick around Times Square too long, Kevin was starting to get really tired so we headed back to the blessed quiet of our hotel room.

We stuck around the hotel room and rested until rush hour was over, then we walked a few doors down from our hotel to a quaint cafe to eat dinner.

Even though Kevin didn’t complain, I could tell that our day had taken a lot out of him, poor guy. So, I told him the next day we would take it easy on him.

Unfortunately, I lied.

(… to be continued)

Cruise 10, New York, Vacations

Vacation 2010: New York (Part One)

Part Two
Part Three

There are currently 13,000 taxis in New York.
Though I’ve always wanted to go to New York, we hadn’t planned on going to New York quite so soon. All we really wanted to do was catch a boat out of the New York harbor and sail to Canada for a few days.

But, since we were planning on cashing in our frequent flyer miles (not a sponsored link – calm down) in on four free (well, we paid $10 bucks a piece for tax and then we paid $20 bucks a piece for our two bags) flights, our fly options were limited. Even though I understand why American Airlines does this (after all, they’re flying us for free – why would they reserve prime-time money-making flights for us?), it’s still a bit annoying that we only have a narrow window of opportunity to work around.

But hey, I’m grateful they even HAVE this program, let alone still running it after Obama’s “hope and change” crap he’s pulled since being in office, so I am not going to complain; the program has saved us boo-coo bucks over the years. (I mean, you’re going to buy/pay for stuff anyway [groceries, utilities, etc], why not earn points why you do it? Just be sure and pay it off at the end of the month so you’re not paying interest. If you can’t pay it off, then don’t charge it. Just sayin’.)

Check out the reflection in the building.
Anyway, since we were cashing in our points, our options were limited as far as when we could fly out to New York. I have learned, from our 10th anniversary cruise, that I will NEVER AGAIN fly out and try to catch a boat on the same day. It’s WAY too stressful. So, ever since then, we’ve made a point of flying out at least one day ahead of time so if there are any delays, we won’t miss the boat.

So to speak.

The closest time we could get to New York and still make our boat was two days. So, we thought, “hey, we’re going to be in New York anyway, let’s just splurge on a hotel room and hang out in New York for two days.”

And that’s what we did.

We started planning this trip back in January of this year. January has become our “vacation planning” month. We plan, book and by the time vacation time rolls around, it’s paid for. The only money we have to dish out is last minute expenses.

Only this year, Kevin had his accident in April and suddenly, we weren’t sure what to do about our pre-paid vacation. Though we had purchased insurance on our cruise (which sounds like a waste of money, but something you’re REALLY GLAD you have in case something comes up and you might not make it, like we did), we hesitated on canceling it. The accident happened in April, our vacation wasn’t until July – that’s a lot of time to heal and get back to normal. Since the doctors were confident that Kevin would walk again, we remained optimistic.

We oscillated between taking the vacation and canceling the vacation. I had doubts, but I left it up to Kevin on whether he wanted to cancel or not – it all depended on what he felt like doing and what he could handle.

Obviously, he decided to wait it out and we ended up going.

My guys at Times Square.

I was a little worried about getting him through security.

I needn’t have worried. Though he did indeed set off the alarms in the Springfield airport, that was largely because he was wearing his leg brace. Why do I know this? Because when we went through airport security in Newark, NJ, he wasn’t wearing his leg brace and the alarms didn’t go off; he sailed through without a second glance. (Though we did have to put his cane and his walker through the x-ray machine).

Our flight up to New York went off without a hitch. Everything was on time and we arrived in New York at 6:30.

Look at how thin the building on the left is.
We hailed a taxi. Though I had read a lot about New York taxi drivers and that was enough to make me nervous using them, I was so concerned about getting all of our luggage, Kevin’s walker and Kevin himself settled into the car that I didn’t give myself time to really BE nervous. We ended up having to put the walker in the backseat – me, Dude and Jazz had to hold it on our laps, which was uncomfortable and cramped, but we dealt with it.

Since I was sitting in the backseat, I couldn’t see. And it’s a good thing. Because every hair-raising story you’ve heard about New York taxi drivers weaving in and out of traffic and getting within inches of the surrounding cars are absolutely true. I would NEVER survive driving in New York. I’d be a bumbling basket case, even more so than I am now.

We arrived at The Salisbury. Since we had used Google maps at home and saw what it and the street looked like, there were no surprises; it was exactly what we expected.

The bellman took our luggage up to room 611. We had read reviews of the place on hotels.com (in fact, we booked our hotel through them – recommend them, by the way), and one of the complaints were the slow elevators.

They weren’t kidding. There were only two elevators for 15 floors and yes, they were slooooow. Ordinarily, this wouldn’t bother me, we would just take the stairs. But since Kevin doesn’t do stairs very well, we were forced to wait.

And wait.

And wait.

The hallways were also really, really hot and stuffy. I don’t know if the hotel was trying to save money on their utility bill or what, but it was unbearable, especially in the afternoon after the building had had a chance to bake all day. (New York in July is HOT and STIFLING).

How appropriate for my musicians to stand in front of Carnegie Hall.

However, that is the extent of anything bad I have to say about The Salisbury – everything else was great. We had our own window unit, so our room stayed nice and cool (in fact, I was amazed to see just how many buildings in New York had window air conditioners – I guess this is because most of the buildings in New York are so old they may not even HAVE central air installed). The hotel is indeed old, but it was clean and we loved the location!! There was an entrance to the Metro just one block away and Central Park was literally around the corner. There was a coal-oven pizza place next door (they have since outlawed coal ovens so it was cool that we were so close to one and could sample a coal-oven pizza), and a quaint cafe that we ended up going to several times while in New York.

We couldn’t have asked for a more centrally located hotel. (I’d recommend staying there – though I forgot to mention that though The Salisbury advertises a continental breakfast, you don’t figure out, until they drop off the voucher that you are required to give them if you want the breakfast, that the continental breakfast? Is $6.00 PER PERSON. Twenty-four bucks for doughnuts and bagels?! Yeah, we did that exactly ONCE).

(Side note: We had pizza the first night we were there and I took one bite and burned the ever-loving CRAP out of my lower lip because the cheese was so hot. My lip was numb throughout the rest of our trip. 😦 )

This truck in the background was stalled in the middle of the intersection and it was pure chaos.

We didn’t do much our first night in New York. We arrived, got settled, ate some famous New York pizza and crashed. But we had been in New York long enough for me to understand what people meant when they said NY was the city that never slept. The energy was nearly palpable. I felt small, insignificant, lost, overwhelmed, and naive.

But I was already hooked and couldn’t wait to see more.

(…to be continued)

Abundant Life

Teaching: Love: The More Excellent Way (Part Five [Final])

Every Sunday I provide videos and valuable links to the Truth or Tradition teachings. We’ve been following the Truth or Tradition teachings for many years now and they have truly blessed our family. We have found peace and happiness through our beliefs and we walk confidently for God. My hope, by passing on this information to you, is that what you find here, or on the Truth or Tradition website, will guide you to a better, more blessed and abundant life.

If you would like to read my views on religion and how we got started with the ministry, you can read this.

Let’s get started:

Watch Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four

If you have any questions, or would like to learn more about God’s wonderful message, please visit the Truth or Tradition website. You can also keep track of the ministry through their Facebook page, their YouTube Channel, or follow them on Twitter.

Thanks for reading.

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