07 January 2010

Home again...

at Walt Disney World! Got in about 3pm this afternoon. After unloading and scaring a poor bellman with all out "stuff" (hey, we're staying two weeks!), we headed to Target to get the groceries. Got back and went to the Dolphin Hotel to Shula's Steakhouse and had one of the best filets we've ever had! We came one day before the kids to get things set up and ready to go.

The half-marathon is Saturday and it's going to be COLD! That's when Mike's running. Then Sunday is the marathon (make that Marathon with a capital M) when Tim runs - and they expect the temps to be in the 20s - oh. my. word. I don't know if he's ever run in such frigid temps let along 26 miles! It's gonna be interesting. And both races start at 5:30am.

After midnight now - our car has turned back into a pumpkin I'm sure, but I'm not going to go out and check. Instead, I'm going to bed. And pray that all the kids have safe journeys here.

'Nite, all.

03 January 2010

Christmas - Part 1

We had the requisite multiple Christmases this year. Our "first" Christmas was on Christmas Eve with Jennifer, Jason, Ben and Luke coming over that evening for stockings, dinner and gifts. I made up a huge batch of Beef Stroganoff, fresh fruit salad, broccoli and hot rolls. My friend, Marilyn, had come over to the house in Katy the previous week and given me a much appreciated tutorial on how to make her DELICIOUS yeast rolls - oh my, they were good. Earlier on Christmas Eve I made a double batch so we'd have cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning and rolls for both Christmas Eve and Christmas Dinner. She "done good" because I was able to remember and they were super delicious if I do say so myself.

I am nothing if not humble.

So back to the recap. We'd started the day with overcast skies and mid-to-upper 30's temps. I was in the shower getting ready when Mike comes in and says, "You're not going to believe it but it's snowing outside. Not much but the flurries are nice." We still needed to run a few more errands so we loaded up the car with Jen, Ben and Luke tagging along and headed out. The flurries by now had turned into bonafide snowfall and it was started to get thick and heavy but with a very gusty wind causing it to sting our faces when facing the wind. Visibility was beginning to be low and we decided to get some lunch, meeting Jason there on his way home early from work, and then get home. Good thing we did as it really got hard to travel by mid-afternoon. Pools of water iced over fairly soon after dusk making it dangerous to go very far. Fortunately, Jen and Jason's home is just around the corner from our place so they slipped and slid over. I had forgotten a grocery item so Jason went to get some from their house. He was gone a LONG time we finally called to find out it had taken him 20 minutes to get the car into the garage without sliding back into the street. He finally got it in and decided to get the food item I needed and WALK over. That was some serious weather and just the day before it was in the 60s! And did I get a photo of it? Of course not!

We ate dinner and then got down to the serious business of opening gifts. Ben was able, for the first time, to read some of the tags making him the perfect elf. I'll let the photos tell the rest of the story. Next post I'll try to do Part II - Christmas Day with Tim's family and Chris' family.

It's always darkest before the dawn...

...or so I've been told. And I hope that it's true as our New Year's holiday long weekend was spent on the couch, basically, with Mike and I both sick. Yesterday I was beginning to think our upcoming trip was going to be tainted as I felt the worst I've felt. Bad enough to decide to get the "emergency" RX for steroids filled. So out we trouped yesterday evening to the almighty Walgreens to get me some hard-hitting meds. And hard-hit they did - I slept really well last night and have felt measurably better day.

Yeah, drugs!

So I have renewed hope that I might actually be in the Land of the Living by the time we start. Mike seems to be better but you know men - stoic. I gather either he is feeling better but not 100% or he's mad at me. :) You know what I mean? I'm banking on the feeling better part.

I am now officially getting excited, I mean EXCITED, about the Disney trip. Laundry is being done. Reservations are made. I'm gathering stuff to be packed. Shopping lists are being compiled. And the Post-It note mountain is taking on gargantuan proportions. Sounds like a vacation to me.

Mom's not going. She went with us in 2007 and, in her words, "I went once and I'm glad I went. But I'm not really interested in going again." So she is taking care of the house in our absence (take that all you lurkers finding folks who'll be gone).

In other earth shattering news, I took down the Christmas wreaths. Nothing says "I'm away and possibly since Christmas" like Christmas decor up throughout January. Mike has to get the swags down; that's not in my job description. Anything requiring a step ladder falls under his purview. So we currently have a nice eclectic street look - spring/summer wreaths with pine swags. HGtv better come and film now - the new trend is coming. I can FEEL it!

Christmas photos coming soon. My public awaits. And waits. And waits. Sorry.

And no, that's not my house. But the one on the right would be mine. If only my neighbors would do me the honors. I like this photo. It amuses me.

02 January 2010

What's the point?

Working on booking "rest for the weary"

If they are from Marriott stays, frequent flier miles or other business related traveling, then the point is "frequent travel pays"! I spent last night and today figuring out a contemporary Sudoku puzzle of how to incorporate all the points from our various programs to the best advantage, finding the right hotels in the correct en-route cities, for three of our four families traveling by car to and from Disney. It was harder than I thought. But then success is so much the sweeter when the mission is accomplished.Starting off, the task reminded me of the dreaded (and much hated to this day) math questions from school, "If a train leaves New York going 60 mph towards Chicago and one leaves Chicago..." Well, you know the one. Only THIS time it was "If you have "x" points total and "y" rooms on different days in "z" cities, how many hours will it take to accomplish successful reservations?" (The question was a trick one because it takes more Advil than hours to do this.)

But the bottom line is, if we'd had to BUY these rooms, we'd have paid out close to $1000 whereas, thanks to Mike's traveling for business, hated though it may be by me, we paid ZERO. Nada. Nothing. Makes me tempted to do one of those MasterCard "Priceless" thingies but I'll spare you.

Especially since I used American Express.

So Operation: Get-as-Much-as-Possible-for-the-Least-Price is proving to be successful. Hey, I love a shopping challenge as much as the next red-blooded American girl. It's my calling. It's what I DO!

We have lift-off, Houston. And I think breakfast may just be included.

I do love a deal.

A Belated Happy New Year

It is now two days into the new year (technically...since it's 12:58am on Saturday now). I've been derelict in my blogging this past year I realize. I can't really pinpoint why - it just happened that way. And yesterday, a day when it would have been most convenient to start the New Year off with a Christmas recap with photos (because we ALL know how much the public at large LOVES photos of one's grandchildren), I spent the day basically on the couch, watching Season One of "The Mentalist" and trying to keep from coughing my guts up. Yes, the joy of being ill...

I admit that I can become mentally paralyzed when thinking about things that need to be done to the point where nothing (or little) is actually accomplished. Add in feeling "puny" and you have a perfect storm of apathy and procrastination.

I don't believe they have any drugs for that one. Yet.

You see, we leave VERY SOON for another trip to Disney with the kids/grands. And we are driving for the first time since 1996 when we went for Christmas following the pack-out of our household goods pending our transfer to the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. It was financially necessary to drive then. Now it seems like a rare treat vs. flying. It will be just Mike and I, taking our time to "mosey-on-over" to Florida, audio books and snacks on board, hauling golf clubs and strollers and extra car seats for those that ARE flying. However said you can't take it with you obviously has never traveled with me. But for us, there will be no security lines to go through. No weighing our luggage ahead of time hoping we don't exceed the limits resulting in even MORE costs to check luggage. No timetables. No airport food. Just us and I-10 and free hotels using Marriott rewards. Bliss.

But no matter how we end up arriving in Florida, the preparations to begin the journey are still in progress. And that's why I need to "unparalyze" and get on with it. But once the work is done, the car is packed and we've pulled out of the driveway, it's "aaahhhhhhhh!!" time when what's done is done, what isn't won't be and, heck, I'm on vacation, so I'm not going to worry about it.

So for tonight, I'll run on empty, hoping I can sleep with a croupy chest, a nose that could win marathons and dream of The Mouse.

Not exactly Magical, but that will come my friends. That. WILL. Come!

Happy New Year! And stay tuned as I bring updates from The Happiest Place on Earth (no, it's not the Half-Yearly Sale at Nordstrom's - although that might be a close second...)

Oh, and above is a little "before" photo. This was taken the LAST time we went in January 2008.