Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Travel Adventure Wrap-UP

So now that we are paranoid about using our rental car, we head off the next day to a permanent swap meet. It was four long buildings with booth after booth after booth. We were planning to return the next day, so this first day, we were just going to look and we would buy the next day when we were sure of what we really wanted.

I bought a couple of things I was sure of the first day and one of my sisters bought a couple of popcorn/bubble shirts. These shirts look the size to fit a large doll or an infant but stretch to fit many body sizes.

So that night we all tried on these shirts. We are all different body sizes. We were very surprised that they looked good on all four of us. So the next day we all went crazy and each bought several of these shirts.

Now came the hard part, getting it all in our suitcases. My stuff barely fit but I made it.

We set four different alarms to make sure we got up at 4 AM to get to the airport, praying the car would work. We made it fine and caught our planes.

We had a lot of fun on our few days away for girl’s time. We're already planning our next one.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Traveling Adventure #2

The next day we went to the mall and a special store call the Tinker Bell Store. I love Tinker Bell. We looped through the mall, hit Borders then later we had dinner at the Organ Stop Pizza.

This place is cool. They have a huge theater pipe organ with an organist who plays the whole time you’re eating. All of the pipes, bells, drums, bellows, and even puppets are visible. It’s quite a show. We had fun there and the food was good.

We’d had a full day and were ready to head back to our room to play some games. We got into the rental car, started it, but we couldn’t get it out of park. Yes, we had our foot on the break. We tried pressing the break harder, softer. Turn the car off and back on. Seatbelts off, seatbelts on. Door closed, door open. Whatever we did, we could not get the car out of park.

So I called my husband (two states away) and asked him if he knew anything. He said that it was a break thing. We’d tried that already. I called my oldest son (also two states away). He said the same thing and tried to give some other advice. Nothing worked. Someone walking through the parking lot thought it might be a fuse. Some men stopped who worked for other rental car companies and they couldn’t get it to work either. We called the rental car company and had already done all the things that they said to do. So they sent out another car that would take 90 minutes. That kind of blew our evening, sitting in a parking lot watching the Organ Stop Pizza employee making his rounds around the parking lot, over and over and over and over, etc.

Meanwhile, my son had looked up on the Internet the particular model of car we rented and found out that this is a common problem with it. When the tow truck guy got there, he said the same thing. He literally had to break a piece of melted plastic in the gearshift area to free the gearshift to drive it up onto the truck bed.

I asked my son if there were any issues we needed to look out for in this new rental, different make and model. He said that it wasn’t much better. He gave me a list of its issues to watch for and how to avoid one of the issues. Great! Now we are paranoid this car will break down.

I’ll finish up the trip tomorrow.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Adventures While Away

Well, I’m back. I survived traveling. It’s the nervousness and stress of making sure you don’t over sleep so you hardly sleep at all, getting to the airport in time with time to spare for unexpected problems like traffic at 4:30 in the morning, returning a rental car, finding the right shuttle from one end of the airport to the other, checking in then finally “relaxing” in an uncomfortable chair while you wait for your flight, then having to go to the bathroom just when it’s time to board. No wonder it stresses me out.

Well, I had a great time with my sisters and mom. We rented a car so we could get to the places we wanted to go while there. The first stop was getting to our hotel room, adventure #1.

So we crammed all our suitcases into the trunk and between us in the car (next time we get a van. Four women with luggage and one midsize car!). We followed the airport exit signs and managed to get off the airport. Then there are like four different highways straying from the airport but not the one we wanted. The ones going east and west looked like they were going north and south on the map. We didn’t know which one to get onto to get to the highway we wanted because that was the only one not going into or out of the airport. The signs on the side of the road were vague and unclear. We were all helping drive by giving different opinions on what way we should go. What was the poor driver to do? I was not the driver, but I was giving some of the nonsense directions. We started heading back to the car rental area. (Not on purpose.) We made a few guesses and a few missed turns but finally got on the highway we thought would take us to the highway we wanted and in the direction we wanted.

We finally arrived at out hotel, actually it was a suite at a golf resort, none of us golf, but the price was right and we enjoyed having the two rooms. We unpacked, found a nearby (across the street) grocery store and bought a few provisions. Then we could relax.

Next time I’ll post on adventure #2. I’ll try to do that tomorrow and wrap up my trip on Wednesday.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Leaving On A Jet Plane

I’m leaving this morning to meet up with my mom and two sisters in Arizona to have some girl time. It's going to be a lot of fun.

But . . .

I don’t travel well. It’s not that I’m afraid to fly, I’m fine with flying, it’s traveling that gets me. All the nerves inside me go bonkers no matter how hard I try to keep them in check. Unruly little things.

I’m still going to try to post Friday’s chapter for you all.

Have a great rest of the week!

Monday, February 16, 2009

He's Just Not That Into You

Movie Review

I went and saw He’s Just Not That Into You with Drew Barrymore and Jennifer Aniston yesterday.

This movie is about the struggles of dating and finding the right person in the 21st century. All the things the twenty-something crowd does right but mostly what they do wrong when looking for love. How to read signals to tell if the other person likes you and will call you or should you call them. This movie is very up to date with all the current technology being used in the modern dating ritual.

At times this movie was hard to watch be cause of the struggles and pain involved with rejections. I was rooting for Gigi to find a nice guy who would treat her well. As she tried over and over to find Mr. Right, she kept waiting for a Mr. Wrong to call her back. They never did. This I didn’t understand. She was so sweet and likeable.

There are several romance and anti-romance story lines. There is Gigi who is actively searching for love. There is a married couple who is struggling. There is a guy who likes a girl who likes this other guy who is married. There is a couple where she wants to get married but he doesn’t. And there is Mary (Drew) who meets men via technology but never in person. I liked the way the unrelated stories had character connections.

I would watch this movie again. I thought it was a good study in the current dating culture. I would recommend this movie to my friends. ☺

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Movie Review #1

Last Chance Harvey

Harvey is played by Dustin Hoffman and is about a down and out music writer who has hit bottom writing jingles. The company he works for is giving him one last chance but the votes are already in before he has his chance. He is divorced and is in England for his adult daughter's wedding. His ex-wife is remarried to Mr. Wonderful, everything Harvey was not. Harvey disappoints his daughter by telling her he has to leave early and can't stay for the reception. He loses his job and is stuck in an England Airport.

Emma Thompson plays his love interest. I would guess she is forty-something and a want-to-be writer whose job it is to take surveys of travelers in the airport. She stops wary travelers to ask them questions. She does not live with her neurotic mother but her mother calls her several times a day. During the movie her mother believes the neighbor is hiding bodies in his smokehouse.

The first half of the movie is a bit hard to watch as Harvey’s life turns from bad to worse. You feel for him from the start. Also Emma’s character isn’t much better. She really has a pathetic life. Between the two of them, it is a bit depressing.

But once these two downtrodden people meet and start spending time together both of their lives improve even though it is only a few hours. But it is not all smooth sailing and Harvey still has his daughter’s wedding reception to ignore and then there is his daughter’s perfect step-father. And we can’t forget the body-hiding neighbor.

Despite the depressing start, I came out of the theater feeling good. It ended well and I really enjoyed the movie. I would definitely recommend this movie to friends and family.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Dreams, part 2

Dream the Impossible Dream.

Dreams of the future are things you want to reach for. These are akin to goals. Goals are more tangible. Dreams intangible. Goals lead us one step closer to our dreams. A dream is out of our control. Goals are within our control.

So once upon a time, I dreamed of selling a book and having it in print. I had no control over whether or not a publisher bought and published my book. In order to sell a book you have to write it and write it well enough to be publishable. So I set some goals, write 2 pages a day and learn how to write well. These were within my control. So I sat at my computer everyday and wrote. I also read books on the craft of writing and went to writer’s conferences to learn to write better. So I had goals leading to my dream. Then one day I did get a contract. Dream realized.

Dreams give us hope. Hope for something new, different, or better in the future. Hope is important. If we have no hope, we despair. Life is drudgery. Life is meant to be exciting and alive.

If you don’t work at your goals then your dream is flat and there is no hope in it. You can’t dream something and just wait for it to magically happen. You have to make your dreams come true. And you can do that.

So I’m dreaming of a time when my husband can quit working out there and work from home. I dream of having my house paid off. I dream of my children moving out and NOT asking for money for rent or food. I love my children, but it is right for them to live on their own. I do not want to have a 30-year-old child living in my basement. It’s just not right.

Two of my three children have moved out and it has given them a boost to their self-esteem to be taking care of themselves and being independent. They feel good about themselves even when they don’t have quite enough to eat. I am realistic that there might be a season that one or both will have to move back in for a season, but they are doing well and I am so proud of them. I just wish that they would visit more often.

My husband and I are setting goals and working toward him being able to work from home which would also help us to pay off our house and be able to give more to charities and help out family, including said moved out children. We have had some huge financial set backs this past year so this dream has become bigger, but I have more hope of it coming true now because we have goals and are working toward them.

There is something inside the human heart that dies without hope.

So dream big and dream small. Then set goals to reach your dream and commit to achieving those goals. Then you will know that you have done everything you can to attain your dreams.

What is your impossible dream?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Odd Thomas - Book Review

I just finished reading Odd Thomas for the second time and LOVED it once again.

Odd is sweet, sensitive and definitely the reluctant hero, but wherever people are in danger Odd is right there on the front line to do whatever he can to help save anyone he can. He is a simple man, a short order cook and is good at his job. He does not have lofty goals; he just wants to live a quiet normal life with his love, Stormy Llewellyn.

I have heard Odd Thomas, the main character in the series of books by Dean Koontz, described as the boy from Sixth Sense grown up. Odd is his first name, and he is indeed a bit odd. He sees dead people and the dead don’t talk.

The lingering spirits of the dead come to Odd for a variety of reasons, some come for him to help them. One spirit hangs around him daily, Elvis. Though Elvis doesn’t talk, he is quite a character. He also sees demon spirits that clue him into that something terrible is about to happen. So he goes off to figure out what this terrible thing is, when it is going to happen, and try top stop it.

Even though there is suspense and people could die and Odd sees dead people, Odd Thomas differs from The Sixth Sense in that the story is filled with humor, littered with it. The light tone that Dean Koontz uses through the eyes of his main character is masterful. As in the opening scene where Odd is chasing a child killer through someone’s house and up into a child’s bedroom. He grabs a lamp to smash over the killer’s head, but not just a plain boring lamp, a panda bear lamp, and not just a panda bear lamp but a smiling panda bear lamp. In the fight and flurry of the chase, the contrast to the smiling lamp can hit you as funny. I laughed many times while reading this book even though Odd was racing toward doom and danger. I laughed, I cried, and I held my breath. I would give Odd Thomas 5 out of 5 stars.

So far there are four Odd Thomas books, Odd Thomas, Forever Odd, Brother Odd, and Odd Hours. I have read them all and loved them all. I have heard that there will be maybe up to seven books in the Odd series. I can’t wait for the rest.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Dreams part 1

Taking a deep breath.

I think dreaming is important. I don’t mean the kind of dreaming you do when you are asleep, though I understand that it’s quite important for one’s sanity. But the other two kinds of dreaming: daydreaming and dreams of the future.

Daydreaming: wishful creations of the imagination, letting your mind drift, pleasant visions.

Daydreaming helps us relax and recharge. We live in a society of go, go, go. Do, do, do. Faster and faster and faster until we can’t keep up. I think a lot of people look at daydreaming as a waste of time and that you’re lazy if you do it. I believe we need daydreaming to recharge. If you just keep going all the time you will burn out, life will be a chore instead of a joy. We all need to take time for ourselves, “me time.”

When we slow down and relax, God can meet us there. He patiently waits for us to slow down and stop. Waiting for us to enjoy the life He has given us. He did not give us a life that rushes so fast we cannot enjoy all the beautiful things in this life. So that we can’t enjoy Him.

We have forgotten the old saying: “Stop and smell the roses.” We say that we are too busy. What roses? I don’t see any roses. Don’t they have thorns or something?

Like the White Rabbit who says he is late for an important date, hello, good-bye, I’m late. We are so much like the White Rabbit rushing here and there, never giving ourselves enough time to get anywhere without being late and then we are stressed because we are late.

Our bodies weren’t designed for this kind of hurried life. They were designed to slow down and to be still. Do you know that if you are always go, go, go that sticky platelets build up in your arteries? Eeew! This can lead to heart attacks or strokes or something. Have you ever noticed that when you go, go, go, you eventually get sick and have to stop and sleep for a few days to get well. That is your body telling you to slow down. You can either have forced rest where you are miserable or you can choose when you rest and enjoy it.

One of my favorite children’s books is The Missing Piece by Shel Silverstein. There is this “It.” It is a circle with an eye and a wedge out of it. It looks a lot like PacMan. So It is spending all it’s time looking for It’s missing piece, the wedge. It rolls along singing and enjoying the small treasures of life. His favorite is when the butterfly lands on him. He finds various pieces but they don’t fit. Finally he finds a piece that does fit and they roll along but he can’t sing very well now with his mouth full, and he rolls faster and faster. He rolls so fast that he can’t enjoy the small treasures of life. And the butterfly can’t land on him. So he stops, sent down the piece, and rolls away singing that he is looking for his missing piece. And the butterfly lands on him and he is happy.

We have become a society so consumed with going and doing we don’t slow down to enjoy life. My pastor is challenging all of us in the church to slow down this year. He admits it is hard for him to do. He used Psalm 46:10a: “Be still, and know that I am God.” He said that maybe being still is too much for us all at once, maybe start with slowing down. With all the pressure our society put on us to produce, do, and go, go, go, it is hard to slow down and nearly impossible to be still. But I’m going to try.

Take a deep breath, slow down, and enjoy life.

Blessings,
Mary
:-)

Next Monday I’ll ponder on future dreams.