'Tis *Two* Tags Then a Tangy Trophy

*Scratch that and make it THREE!

'Twas a tidbit of T alliteration for you. Remember F Alliteration? You all thought I was cussing...which is not uncommon mind you, sometimes only a good old fashioned curse word will do. I just don't normally cuss on my blog. It just seems cruder (somehow) to cuss in print rather than verbally.

But I wasn't tagged for cussing or not cussing now was I? So, what am I on about? Off I go...

Tag #1
The VERY beautiful Jessica my co-worker and friend, tagged me some days back with a little thing called Picture Tag.

Seems I am to do the following;

1. Go to the 4th folder in your computer where you store your pictures.
2. Pick the 4th picture in that folder.
3. Explain the picture. (what, no 4?)
4. Tag 4 people to do the same!

The sad thing is, I'm at home and there aren't many picture folders or pictures IN the folders. The other sad thing is, I'm at home and the computer I have thinks it funny to sit there pretending you haven't clicked on a link or typed a few hundred paragraphs. It gets a small thrill out of your mounting frustration as you move the mouse (like THAT helps) back and forth like a mad woman. On crack. On an etch a sketch. On crack.

SO, finally when it does load I see the picture that is nominated and I am thinking "Oh dear Lord in your never ending compassion have mercy on my soul I am in so much trouble." But I play fair and square even if the outcome is life threatening or not...

Here it is:

Looks innocent and rather sweet don't it?

Don't be fooled gentle folk. If your momma told you once, she told you a million times "don't be deceived by a picture thinking it's all innocent and rather sweet just because of its beauty" or something like that...It is rather Venus fly trap in its deception. Especially with the head turned to the side and those beautiful eyes smiling back at you. Oh, but sweetness turns bitter with the slightest of ease and this one can morph in to an unrecognizable beast in a half a turn of the knob.

The fact is, this picture is from (almost exactly) one year ago. The childling (and her brother) just got her braces on and we wanted some pictures to show progress. Somewhere in the time since then she's decided all pictures either before-braces-or-just-after-braces shall henceforth be spat upon, torn to tiny little pieces and then after pouring copious amounts of acid upon them they shall be burned. And, henceforth, anyone in possession of aforementioned contraband shall be spat upon, torn in to tiny little pieces and then after pouring copious amounts of acid upon them they shall be burned. And hanged. Oh and then quartered. While hungry. While she screams at you.

But that's the risk I take in order to bring you the kind of honest blogalism you deserve.

Next we have the 8 Things Tag:
The ABSOLUTELY gorgeous Mrs. Ali from across the pond has tagged me for the following (here's where the THIRD tag comes in...) and the ABSOLUTELY ravishing Miss Sharona also from across the pond if only in our heart:

8 Things
8 TV Shows I Watch -
1. Lost
2. American Idol
3. What I Like About You
4. Tyler's Ultimate, Malto Mario, Barefoot Contessa, Paula Deen and the Iron Chef and just about anything on the Food Network because I'm addicted to cooking shows.
5. Dancing With The Stars
6. CSI: Las Vegas (I also watch NY and Miami as well as NCIS)
7. Um...really, don't watch much tv.
8. My husband asked me to put this: Monday Night Football.

8 Favorite Restaurants -
Oh this is a little hard since the surgery. But, I will list previous and still very worthy of eating at favorites.
1. Starbuck's. So, yeah, not technically a restaurant I know...however they do serve food (which I don't eat) but I am there more often than any other place listed below.
2. Taste of Texas
3. Ciro's
4. P.F. Chang's
5. Spanish Flower
6. Yia Yia Mary's (yes, Jessica my love, still. I think you just went on an off day)
7. (my husband asked me to put this): Casa de Moya
8. Fogo de Chao

8 Things That Happened To Me Today (actually this was several days ago, I've just not had time to post!)-
1. Made coffee at home. (that is major happenings folks, if you know me)
2. Talked to my heavenly Father.
3. Went for a walk. It rained I went home.
4. Cooked breakfast.
5. Read.
6. Wrote.
7. Talked to a neighbor.
8. Checked Facebook, email, weather, blogs and was bored.

8 Things I Look Forward To -
1. Every morning with my coffee.
2. Every evening with my family.
3. Every moment with my husband. When we aren't fighting. Okay, even when we are fighting.
4. One step closer to being healthier - physically, spiritually & mentally.
5. My 3 kids coming home from war make that everybody's children coming home from war.
5. The war ending.
6. Jesus returning.
7. Heaven.
8. Ali's trip to Houston!

8 Things I Wish For -
1. See above?
2. Okay that's a cop out. Freedom from depression.
3. A lap top computer.
4. More confidence.
5. My children's lives to be successful - not as the world sees success.
6. More time with people I love.
7. Um...
8. Ooops...skipped a few.

8 People I Tag -
1. Anyone who wants to play along!

And now folks for the trophy. Eh, hem. *Cue fanfare, marching band and confetti!* One of my favorite blogs to read is One Thing. Jenni is funny, smart, creative, interesting and REAL. There is much to learn about her and even much more to learn from her and I admire her so very much. YES, Jenni, I do believe that. All this and she has the nerve to give ME an award. Truth is, she was given this very same award and it seems the idea is to pass it forward after you've reveled in its glory. Jenni did not revel. Not one bit. She's so humble.

So here it is, The Most Highly Esteemed Ever Sought After Only A Few Can Aspire to Lemonade Award:

See, she said I take the Lemons That Life Hands Me and make Sweet Lemonade. I'm not sure I am deserving of such accolades but I do know some people who are...And the winners are (in no particular order other than alphabetical):

Ali - For taking those lemons thrown at you and squeezing back. Real hard. Ali, my hat is off to you. You make me laugh out loud often and wish I had such a cool accent! I am so looking forward to meeting you!

Candy Rant - For those of you who don't read Candy's blog, your loss. This is another woman of faith who is raw bones real with life. She takes the lemons and makes you wish life would have given you the gift of making lemons sound so dang tasty. And funny. And why didn't I ever see lemons that way? Truly a gifted writer. I anxiously await your book Candy!

Sharona - All of the above and then some. Sharon is one of my closest friends and I cherish her every word. Sharon has taken the puddles of lemons meted her way and learned to jump them. Splash all up in them. She revels in the scent for it means there has been victory over the lemon. She too is a gifted writer and I cannot wait to see her published.

and Nancy - Okay, you see the pattern here, but it bears repeating. Funny, smart, real, makes me laugh out loud, (sadly, she doesn't have an accent) A woman of faith who makes me long for God to speak to me as clearly as He does her. Of course she talks to Him more clearly than I do, so perhaps that's the key? She takes life's lemons and uses them to teach, makes them funny, and makes them seem not as sour as I know they have been. I am honored to know her and am glad that God has given me the chance to see Him work miracles in her life.

Ladies, do your **thing.

**EDIT - which means, post your award and tag someonee you know who you feel deserves the Lemonade Stand of Glory.

Weight Bearing Walls

During the first 4 months after my weight-loss surgery the pounds rapidly melted off of me as if a magician were pulling pound after pound after pound from his sleeve then a wave of his hand and a tap of his wand, voila! Gone. Each day I greeted the scale with a smile and it always, always, smiled back. *Sigh* We had such a good thing. At least that is how I remember it.

Now I hate the damned thing. Alas, a little too much time together and the newness of a relationship wears thin. The magic is exposed for the slight of hand illusion that it is and the memories, once cherished, are now seemingly empty and worthless.

We quarrel constantly - rarely seeing eye to eye on anything that should matter between us. I long to see it, so we meet and it quickly goes bad and I'm back to calling it off - for good this time. We've tried time apart, seeing others and seeing one another only on certain days of the week. Sadly, nothing seems to bring repair to our broken relationship.

It and all it stands for and in between, torments me. So much so, I've named the scale Dementor. Soulless and soul-sucking it feeds on my positive emotions, my happiness and my good memories. Whenever I'm in it's presence I relive my worst memories. I could devour a hunk of chocolate after our dates and I regularly scream Expecto Patronum! at its cold, dark self.

So why continue on with the wretched affair? I can only say it is done so in hopes that this time it will be different. I mean there are still moments when it is actually good between us, telling me what it thinks I want to hear. Teasing me with just enough affection that I, despite everything else, want to stick around.

But, for the past 4? weeks my scale has read the same number, over and over, to me. Although I know the inches are moving (because my clothes grow steadily baggier) I long with all my heart for the number to decrease. I long for it way, too, much.

I am coming to the realization (yet again) that, this information (not affirmation!) dispensing mechanism holds too much weight in my life. While not truly a weight-bearing wall in the construct of my heart, I treat it as such. Fearful of collapse upon removal and giving it full credit for the support of my entire being. Ah but deep down and truthfully (somewhere), I know it to be a non-weight bearing wall for it only supports itself.

In my mind, I know the number displayed does not display who I truly am, nor could it measure my self-worth or indicate how I should feel. It is a scale and not a thermostat registering the degree of my value on any level. Information, not affirmation.

I know this. But do I live this? No. No, at least not every day. Or even every moment of every day. I am a work in progress. Under renovation, as most of us are. Daily I am breaking down the lie of that deceptive wall so that I can have a better view of the truth. In its place, windows and open spaces. More room for lesser things.

So tell me, what holds too much weight in your life? What do you give credit for full structural support where no credit is due? What non-load bearing wall(s) should come down? And what would you do with the space it would create once it's gone?



On my scale I've written the following:

THIS holds no weight.

And I believe it.


Dana R. Moya
Born: December 10th, 2008 at 9:13 am
Weight: 155 lbs 3 oz
Lots of inches

Now go have a cigar!


Today is the 9 Month Anniversary of My Weight Loss Surgery!
Not sure all that needed to be capitalized, but hey, it's a major event to celebrate so why not...

To this day I've lost 155 lbs and I now weigh 160 lbs. I'm almost half 'n half! I am now wearing a size 8 or 10 depending on the brand. Hard to believe, a single digit size fits me.

And just like the pregnancy and birth of a child, the advent of my surgery has wrought many changes in my life. There has been much joy, there has been much loss, there are some sleepless nights and worries that plague me - some founded, others unfounded. There has been stretching. Weeping. Laughing. Kicking. Surprises. Sickness. Moodiness. Hello's & goodbyes. And all along these 9 months were the birth pangs of labor ushering in this new life. And there is so much more life now to live...

Want to see the pictures? Okay, okay, I'll be quiet now...

Same old fuzzy picture in the kitchen side view...Add in one Sunny dog eating breakfast.



Oh Christmas Tree.




Love this next one. Look at me hiding way in the back, arms crossed, leg kicked out...These gorgeous ladies were decorating the Education Suite tree. Rather, they were supervising the decoration of the tree. Apparently Rae was not happy with the placement of an ornament...



Oh yeah?



OH YEAH? Love the deathly pale look.


Okay...

Last out of focus, poorly lit, badly posed one for the day...

They say it takes a tribe to raise a child, I believe the same goes for every journey in our life. I say it takes a tribe to get us through, and oh how I love my tribe! You have cheered me on so! Keep taking the steps with me, big or small we can't journey it alone.

I Am Unique - Just Like Everyone Else

I saw this on Nancy's blog, who saw it on Jene's blog who saw it on someone else's blog (who happens to be an Ingrid as well) and so on...

It is kind of scary how spot on about me this actually is.

You Are an Ingrid!

mm.ingrid_.jpg

You are an Ingrid -- "I am unique"

Ingrids have sensitive feelings and are warm and perceptive.


How to Get Along with Me

  • * Give me plenty of compliments. They mean a lot to me.

  • * Be a supportive friend or partner. Help me to learn to love and value myself.

  • * Respect me for my special gifts of intuition and vision.

  • * Though I don't always want to be cheered up when I'm feeling melancholy, I sometimes like to have someone lighten me up a little.

  • * Don't tell me I'm too sensitive or that I'm overreacting!

What I Like About Being an Ingrid

  • * my ability to find meaning in life and to experience feeling at a deep level

  • * my ability to establish warm connections with people

  • * admiring what is noble, truthful, and beautiful in life

  • * my creativity, intuition, and sense of humor

  • * being unique and being seen as unique by others

  • * having aesthetic sensibilities

  • * being able to easily pick up the feelings of people around me

What's Hard About Being an Ingrid

  • * experiencing dark moods of emptiness and despair

  • * feelings of self-hatred and shame; believing I don't deserve to be loved

  • * feeling guilty when I disappoint people

  • * feeling hurt or attacked when someone misundertands me

  • * expecting too much from myself and life

  • * fearing being abandoned

  • * obsessing over resentments

  • * longing for what I don't have

Ingrids as Children Often

  • * have active imaginations: play creatively alone or organize playmates in original games

  • * are very sensitive

  • * feel that they don't fit in

  • * believe they are missing something that other people have

  • * attach themselves to idealized teachers, heroes, artists, etc.

  • * become antiauthoritarian or rebellious when criticized or not understood

  • * feel lonely or abandoned (perhaps as a result of a death or their parents' divorce)

Ingrids as Parents

  • * help their children become who they really are

  • * support their children's creativity and originality

  • * are good at helping their children get in touch with their feelings

  • * are sometimes overly critical or overly protective

  • * are usually very good with children if not too self-absorbed


  • So, what do you think? Sounds just like me right? Now tell me, who are you?


Take Are You a Jackie or a Marilyn? Or Someone Else? Mad Men-era Female Icon Quiz at HelloQuizzy

Thanksgiving Leftovers

Oh yeah. Pull out that picked over turkey carcass, grab some congealed gravy and warm up them 3 day old rolls baby and let's munch!

But first, the Ritual Giving Thanks Moment:
This year's Thanksgiving niblet was radically different from the gorge fest of every other year of my life. Using scrawny little contrasts like night and day or even black and white would be like describing a Botticelli with stick figures. It was as if I had moved from the palatial decadence of a mansion to the cardboard box slums of a beggar. And oh how I appreciate that box - So. Much. More.

I've found since my surgery that, whether traditionally food related or not, no event is what it used to be. Because before weight loss surgery, every moment of my life was food related. There was breakfast, lunch and dinner to celebrate and all the minutes in between. Life was one big meal.

And it's not that I would eat so much, it's just that everything I did or wanted to do seemed to be centered around food. Whether growing it, cooking or eating it, food is and, I'm afraid, ever will be an enchantment for me. It is art. It is pleasure. It is a basic human need. It effects every one of the senses and moves the soul to a form of worship. Which got me to where I was 9 months, 20 sizes and 152 pounds ago...a faithful disciple of the Church of Gluttony...eat, eat and be merry. Thank you Fodder.

So here we are at the Thanksgiving holiday, one day a year held in reverence by millions of Americans. A day that we pay homage to with family gatherings, vacation, more football than should be legal and tables, stove-tops and counters loaded down with every comfort food imaginable. Even the most recognizable symbols of Thanksgiving - a very fat turkey and a cornucopia spilling over with the bountiful harvest of the season - denote indulgence.

And here I am with a stomach smaller than an egg. And the day - or rather what the day used to be - has turned the tables on me...so to speak. I still cooked. I made ham, cornbread dressing made from scratch, roasted red & sweet potatoes, roasted butternut squash with fresh yeast rolls. I even made a sugar free apple pie with an oatmeal & pecan crumb topping - I figured I would get one treat. I ate a bite of ham (no I didn't have the glaze but with or without glaze pork now tastes horrid to me), a few bites of dressing and a bite of sweet potato. Done. (had some pie later...it was eh.)

And there I sat while my family feasted till they absolutely hurt (which made me feel happy). We talked, told stories and laughed as we always do - we don't need a special day of the year to enjoy one another. But it took a moment for the reality of it to sink in. And it sank fast and deep.

Truthfully? At first it made me sad. But then, I began to give thanks and it wasn't for a slab of pie. And I remembered that I was full, but not from indecent mounds of food. And I rejoiced, but it was in the stripped down to the bare bones reality of it all version of what I'd known in my previous life. I imagine this is what it might be like for an alcoholic celebrating New Year's Eve or other events commonly celebrated with alcohol. Sober(ing).

And the stripped down to the bare bones version? It's far more enchanting. It is the rarest work of art. It is the sweetest pleasure. It is the most basic human need. And it effects every one of the senses and moves the soul to true worship.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

And now for the feast. I was reading through last November's posts. Most of which made me laugh. Really, really hard. I am so silly. So, in the tradition of all things Thanksgiving we shall feast on leftovers.

Seems I used to do this little thing called the Art of Conversation. In November we had the Art of Conversation at the Office.

The Hopefully Some Day it Might Actually Be the Annual Take Your White Friends to the Beach Day! Sigh. That was so much fun...We didn't get to go this year. Stupid hurricane.

There were Meme's & Mande Mondays.

There were Changes, Children and Chances to Win.

There were Disasters & Delusions.

Then there were my favorites Resounding and Rejoicing.

Happy Thanksgiving to EVERY one. It's not just for the fourth Thursday of November. It's not just for Americans. It is every moment of every day and the feast is in the bounty of love and grace poured in to our hearts by the Father, the Giver of all good things.

Google Me This

As a child I could not abide in even a moment of uncertainty. I passionately hated the unknown and incessantly plagued whoever was around with my interrogation tactics. I was an unceasing dribble of why or why not and a constant drip of what for. My curiosity was the Chinese water torture to my mom's peace and quiet.

So much so, she bought me a series of books poplar in the '70's written by Arkady Leokum. With titles like Tell Me Why, More Tell Me Why, More More More Tell Me Why and Still More Tell Me Why, (Uh, yeah, I didn't write them I just read them) these mini-encyclopedic style books were meant to appease my appetite for knowledge. That, and perhaps she hoped to lighten the ever burgeoning responsibility that had been placed solely upon her shoulders as a single parent. The shaping and guiding of such a young and hungry mind had to have been quite overwhelming. That and she got tired of making up the answers.

What? No really, she did. It's not an ill-reflection of her parenting skills, I promise, that's just what parents did back then. Hello, there was no such thing as Google.

Any way, these books, I could not get enough of them. I would read them for hours and hours. They were the internet, the Wikipedia, and yes, even the Google of my time.

Now, as an adult, the tidal flow of curiosity has not ceased in the least. Constant and persistent, it has remained a part of my life. Whether the queries are my own or my children's, is not the point. The fact remains...with all those books and now the internet, answering our innumerable Tell Me Why's...we have yet to plumb the depths of the inquisitive human brain.

For instance tell me why when my hair started falling out by the handful (due to rapid weight loss after my surgery) it ONLY fell out from my head? Sweet ones, the multitude of hair that persists in growing on my upper lip did not, not even for one hopeful second, thin in the slightest. Au contraire, mon fraire, it continues to grow just as lush, dense and dark as the jungle at night. Nor did the hair anywhere else on my face or body lose it's substance, abundance, denseness, profuseness nor any other adjective I don't particularly care for when discussing hair on anything other than the glorious follicles of vanity that should be covering my near-bald head.

More tell me why my 13 year old could possibly think it wise to voice aloud to my face that I have a huge back and an extremely flat butt. (Sweetie, lets work on those complimentary skills, shall we?)

Still more, tell me why on God's green earth she is still breathing after the voicing of such a statement. Oh, and while you are at it, answer why all of a sudden the idea that my butt might actually be extremely flat kind of really bothers me.

More more more tell me why how she could possibly still be alive - proof that miracles do really happen - when just a few days later she tells me that she likes a certain shirt on me. (that's better baby you are starting to get the idea) *wait for it* because and I quote "it makes you look like you actually have boobs." Oh hon, you know I couldn't breast feed for just that reason.

Here's one for the books Mr. Arkady Leokum, why oh why oh why (oh why) has the hair that has decided to return to my lovely little head, changed not only color (to a beautiful (not!) shade of GRAY thank YOU very MUCH) but changed TEXTURE as well? Suffice it to say, it makes for bad hair days months and I will just go ahead and inform you so you won't have to Google this one, L'Oreal? Oh they lie...it doesn't cover the gray. It just covers every single hair all around the gray ones and leaves those little heralds of aging to stand out like a lighthouse on the shore. (It covers gray like a band-aid covers an elephant's butt.)

Dear Mr. Leokum,

If you would please address the oh-so-very deep, heart felt and provocative questions listed above in your next book of the Tell Me Why series (probably titled - Tell Me Why and I Promise I'll Quit Whining) I would be most appreciative.

Your adoring, and not aged in the least bit fan,
Dana

Just Nothing Revisited

In my mind's eye I see the sky, almost white, as if it's being drained of the color of summer, along with its smoke thin clouds randomly placed along the way.

In my memory I can feel the gingerbread hued leaves under my feet, crisp and brittle from having given their all to the wind and the trees they once clung to.

From afar, a breeze carries to me the scent of fireplaces burning, the heart of someone's home rekindling the great romance of life that is the redolence of families gathered in and around one another in love.

These are the places my heart travels to; like a pilgrim to his holy land I return to the season of my sentiment.

Apparently this trek is an annual one. This post, although in a slightly different vein, is from the very same heartbeat.

Act I Scene X

We left our (not so very) brave and beautiful leading lady in the clutches of the ruthless cold villain known as The Smasher, The Crusher, Ice-Ice Booby, Bruiser and Bob. More commonly referred to as "you want me to put my what where so you can do what?".

Ah, but that time has since passed, and these days our loverly heroine lavishes in the luxury of complete peace and quiet mixed with the noticeable absence of drama *cue needle dragging across a record** music, conversation and action come to an abrupt and theatrical stop*

That's what life has been lately - a needle dragging across the record of my life cuing yet another scene of the never ending drama in the One Act Play called Life. Oh of course I know that we aren't supposed to live our lives in a consummate cake walk. That would be boring. What with all the sunshine and good health, geez who could stand it? Well, I for one could stand it just a little bit more of late!

The stage darkens the curtains close and re-open on what we soon realize is a flashback. (as soon as we tell you that is) Flashback: The date, October 10th. Or 9th, no the 8th. Or something. Whatever, it's a Wednesday in October okay? Our beautimous leading lady is heading to the Dr. for her 6 month post surgery follow-up visit, only it's one month late thank you very much Ike.

She is in pain and has been for several days now. Clutching her stomach she patiently awaits her turn however, the pain has become increasingly worse over the past few days and is, at this point, almost unbearable. When she finally sees her Dr. he notices her tortured expression. He asks her a few questions, she answers, he prods her belly and then utters these exact words "blah, blah, hospital" and "something, something, surgery" and "right now" and "something, something, blah, blah, blah".

No! What? No. Wait, I have an exercise class today...I have a family...I need to go back to work...(all very lame excuses - except for the family - but like that made any sense.) Uh, hey Doc...don't you just want me to take some Gas-X and quit being such a baby? You know, this too shall pass and all that? Nope. Surgery. Surgery? Surgery. Gah! So, she obediently heads to the hospital, right after texting her husband and friends of course, and checks herself in.

Surgery happened the next morning. It seems WLS patients can easily get these little things called hernias. Which sound pretty harmless (to me) but can be extremely painful and can become life-threatening if not taken care of.

Our brave (and as some have noted, crazy) actress returned to the job she loves (eh, hem) apparently more than a few extra days off, the following Monday. *the word actress is used here rather than leading lady to denote the fact that this was indeed all an act. Who the heck returns to work that quick after surgery unless they are pretending to be insane? A leading lady would have stayed home and milked that puppy for all its worth*

Then there was the whole Crusher incident with several call backs for more pictures of you know what. Toss in a little scare due to a "questionable area" that looked like someone placed a cotton ball on my x-ray but actually turned out to be nothing. Well, not 'nothing' but nothing of importance. Whew. Rest. Breathe. Yay!

Nope.

Our beloved, brave, beautimous, loverly, insane heroine then decides it's time for an eye exam. Why not? I mean it is the end o' the year. Time to take care of all the body parts.

Eye Dr. does the usual look at this and squint at that. Performs the ever arduous and grueling task where she makes you decide ONE or TWO? TWO or THREE? Dude. DUDE! So much stress...I just know I am going to somehow fail her in my answer. Uh...four? To which she calmly replies, ONE or TWO? TWO or THREE?

After I fail that obstacle course miserably, she informs me there is something wonky with one of my tests. Um...NO.

Seriously? NO MORE DRAMA. I am quitting Broadway and going back to Kansas because this yellow brick road crap ain't fun anymore Toto.

The intra-ocular pressure in my eyes is high and there is significant nerve damage in the right eye. What does it mean Vern? Possibly Glaucoma. Go see a specialist. More tests. More concern. More drama.

Sigh. A heroine's job is never done.

**For my youngER readers a record was an ancient form we primitive elderly persons used to record sound, primarily music. These antiquated relics could be found in the form of what was known as vinyl and were approximately 10 inches across and round. Grooves were formed in the vinyl which, when you placed a needle of a "record player" on the grooves the record, began to play whatever was recorded. The sound was amazing. Not at all like the CD's or MP3's of today's generation. It was as if you were listening to scratchy muffled sound coming out of a can and through a wall. Oh and the crackling, scratching and skipping was a beautiful touch.

So, Do You Come Here Often?

*Fair warning to any male readers. This is not your usual love story.

I walked in to the dimly lit and crowded room. I could hear the white noise buzz mingled in with the sounds of soft jazz playing overhead.

I noticed my heart begin to pick its pace up a bit.

"
Calm down" I told myself.

"I'm not scared"
I replied.

Slightly apprehensive, maybe that would be a better way to describe it. I mean, this is my first time and all and I have heard the sordid tales about this very moment in other women's lives and I must admit, it was all just a bit intimidating. Sordid tales of torture that would chill you to your bones.

Then she walked in.

And she smiled at me.

I gulped. For lo, soon she would have me in her firm cold grip and at her mercy and there I was half naked and no where to run.

For any woman, the word mammogram strikes a chord of trepidation deep within the heart. Ahem, the, er breast if you will, and please, pardon the pun. Because with that word comes all the unknown possibles that tag along on its coattails like some stranger's snot-nosed whiny kid throwing a tantrum in the grocery store. Not yours, not cute and definitely something you'd like to just walk away from with your fingers in yours ears saying "la, la, la, la" at the top of your lungs.

Being an intelligent, well-informed, 42 year old woman who is concerned about her physical well-being, this should have been my third or fourth walk down mammogram lane. Should have been. IF I happened to actually be an intelligent, well-informed woman who might be concerned about my well-being. Or perhaps it would be better said if I weren't such a big stinking scaredy-cat.

I am woman, hear me whimper.

And whimper I did indeed. Not only did I whimper, I whined and pouted like a three year old faced with a bowl of cold spinach. But, stamp my feet and pout as I may, along I went - albeit kicking and screaming (all inwardly of course!) all the way to the Dr. to have my first ever mammogram this week.

And you know what? It wasn't that danged bad. In fact, it was rather painless, quick and simple. And I'll be darned if I didn't come away with the cutest little flower and rhinestone bandaids!

Ehem.

Any who, that said, as a woman I feel it is my duty to put an end to the horrendous lies that have been needlessly perpetuated on down through the ages.

And since I've discovered over and over that my imagination is a far scarier place than anything I've yet faced in my life, I wanted to put the truth out there for all to see. Uh, so to speak.

Now, before you go thinking I'm some sort of masochistic sicko, I feel I have to qualify my earlier 'not that danged bad' statement with I wouldn't put it up there with going to the spa.

Except maybe for the cute little bandaids.

Ehem.

Yes, well, where was I?

There was the usual small talk. Light hearted chit-chat and banter to make you feel a little more comfortable. Although I'm not sure just how comfortable one can get with a total stranger handling such an intimate area while casually flopping you to and fro like you were that night's pizza dough. You know, lightly floured, kneaded and hand-tossed. Bring on the rolling pin.

Once the technician gets all familiar with your....self, decorates her for her close up and gets her situated on the metal serving dish, the acrobatics begin. Hold this arm here, that arm there, hug this, turn your head so, lean to the side and hold.

The tech walks away and says this will just be a second. Pushes a button, a low hum comes from the machine and your eyes follow as the little plastic plate over your...self...lowers, and lowers, and lowers. Hold. Okay, breathe. You are free.

Wait. That's it? That was all? I mean, what happened to running my girls through the old-fashioned clothes ringer and slamming them between two blocks of ice?

NOT that I want THAT to happen. But THAT is exactly what I've heard a mammogram is like. And let me tell you, what a relief to find out that it is not. All that whimpering and whining was for naught.

So my lovely ladies. I beseech you, do not be afraid. Love yourself enough to go forth and mammogram.

Afterward I removed my adornments and threw them in the trash with all the other discarded decorations left from so many others who've passed through her life. As I dressed I wondered to myself if she would call. Would I ever see her again? We had such a brief few moments together, would I miss her? I can still hear our song.

I wasn't expecting to hear from her so soon, but she called me back the very next morning. What did this mean for us? I fretted as I waited on hold to speak to her. Her voice was unemotional, even after all we shared. But she did say she wants to see me again. Well, at least part of me.

More pictures? Different angles? Sure. When? Soon? Okay. See you then. Bye.

Sigh. I feel so easy.

Houston Thanks YOU

Question: How do you feed a half a million people?

Answer: One meal at a time of course.

And that is exactly what the Red Cross, The Disaster Relief Team of SBC and Americorps have been doing for the past 4 weeks.

Our church, my work, has literally housed 150 volunteers and the parking lot has been a staging center for these teams as they work together around the clock to prepare roughly 30,000 meals a day for the City of Houston and surrounding areas.

Sadly, they are leaving us this week and I wanted to give a big Thank You to each of them. They have not personally fed, clothed or sheltered my family. But they have, so willingly, done this and so much more for many others.

Without question, Ike has left an indelible mark on Houston. Some of its effects are clearly visible. Just take a look around and see the buildings, trees, curbs and rooftops bearing the wounds and scars all over town. Some of the effects are not as easy to see, but no less profound.

Like these volunteers. They have left their very own indelible mark on my heart. They have come from all over our nation to provide a ministry to our city and this speaks to me of the love we can have for one another, regardless of anything we choose to lay claim to and define ourselves with.

I notice them each and every day in their meetings, in the comings and goings of their daily routine and they almost always have a smile, a readiness to talk and a kind and kindred spirit. This in spite of the fact that they don't get much rest and when they do sleep it's on a cot or an air mattress in our GYM. This in spite of the fact that they've worked 4 weeks straight under less than pleasant conditions. This in spite of the fact that all they have done since their arrival is give completely of themselves.

Here I am thanking them, and rightly so...yet, there is a poster just outside our Fellowship Center thanking us! Go figure...it is the most amazing thing to read, check it out:

Not sure you could read that. Here is a closer shot.


And more kind words.


And even more.


This poster truly touched my heart and every time I pass it I stop to read it again. It made me so thankful for what we as a city have seen rise up out of the loss and destruction. Love.

But you know what? I think of all the words written on this poster, these below in blue mean the most to me.

Comes in 666 Flavors I Might Add

So today in Sunday class we walk over to the snacky-snack section where we have a veritable smorgasborg of breakfast selections. There's the standard bacon or sausage and egg tacos, fresh cut seasonal fruit, orange juice and of course yogurt.

Me, I have my sustenance already in hand. That's right children, a grande bold brew from Starbuck's.

Also known as The Cathedral of St. Arbuck's. And since it is Sunday and I do love my coffee...it does seem apropos.

My husband goes for the yogurt.

I eye the brand and give my two cents about the nutritional value of that particular brand. (cause I's the expert now. um. not.)

He looks at it and says "Naw, it's okay. It's Damnation yogurt..."

"Hon, I believe that says Danimals."

I'm pretty sure you can find the Damnation-Free Yogurt (with live and active script-cul-tures) on aisle 3, right between the Testamints & Veggie Tales.

The Sound of Music

As I was leaving work yesterday a harmless little song popped in to my head. And stayed there. For hours...and hours.

So, you say? Happens all the time, you say. Yes. Yes, I know. But this particular ditty (no longer considered harmless after thirty minutes of repetition) is one I've not heard (at least that I know of) in over 30 years. Although 30 years ago I am most certain I heard it hundreds and hundreds of times. But isn't really a song. At least not one that would make the Billboard charts...

Take a listen....



Apparently the fragrance is not the only thing that is here to stay...can you say Earworm children? I knew you could.

So tell me, what is the worst ear worm (definition #2) you've ever had?

On Being 12

A size 12! Thank you very much.

Well, I promised a weight-loss update so, true to my word, here you go my adoring fans. I must insert the usual "be forewarned" disclaimer that I've merely got a camera phone and my photographer is usually my daughter who forgets to tell me "when". So, with that said, some of the pictures are less than good. Dude, what can I say? I'm no Stan Kwan.

Just to refresh your memory let's begin with where else? Uh, the beginning, duh.

A 315 lb me Nov. 2007


That bears repeating, 315 lbs!

Then...

1 month after surgery.

Then....
3 months after surgery.



And now for the latest photos...


Me...almost 7 months post-surgery. 133 lbs lighter and a size 12.

Shut up! A size 12...Can I just tell you I giggled when I tried these pants on?
I just did.

Me. Again....oh yeah, it is my update.
What's with the funky face?
(That would be the NO warning I referred to earlier.)

Alas me lovies, that's all the blurry, poorly lit, horribly posed, same old kitchen for a background photos I have. For now.

Where from here? Not sure. If the weight loss gods* have forsaken me and left me for greener pastures, then I am just hunky-dory with that. I consider this weight loss surgery journey a success so far.

Considering that I've gone from 2 diabetes injections, 2 to 4 blood sugar finger tests, 2 blood pressure meds, a handful of pain meds A DAY to none of the above a day. I've gone from a size 26/28 to a size 12. From 315 lbs. to 182 lbs. From 165 pounds to goal, to 33 pounds to goal. I've gone from not being able to sit in a chair comfortably (without my hips hanging out the sides and over the edge) to...well...it's still not comfortable but it's now because I have very little cushion between my tail-bone and the chair...I've gone from wanting to sleep all the time to, oh wait, ha, that's still true. From not being active with my family to being active....Any way, you get the picture. If not, scroll up and start over.

So, that's it for now. I will update again at 9 months. The same amount of time of a full term pregnancy. Except by then it will be as if I've given birth to a full grown man.

*(please do not take offense. I am a Jesus loving, scripture believing, Holy Spirit filled girl...I would never be so silly as to truly think that the weight loss gods have forsaken me...so there.)

A Tale of Two Cities

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair. . . .

The lines have been drawn and the city has been divided. There are those with and those without. No matter where you are or what you are doing the mutual concern sounds and common question rings in everyone's conversation, "Do you have power?" The ones who have seem almost apologetic to answer yes to those who have not. Those who are without are merely seeking a fellow sufferer to commiserate with.

And it has been suffering. True, we still have a home. True, we can now go to the store without a two hour wait in line. And true, we can run to the nearest fast food place for a quick bite to eat and a breath of fresh air conditioning. But then we must return to our muggy, dark and eerily quiet homes to rummage in the blackness for our belongings and lay in our bed praying for the slightest breeze.

Time has been divided as well. There is Before the Storm and After the Storm. Or perhaps you go by Before Ike and After Ike. The novelty of it all (if there ever was any) has certainly lost its shine. The first week After the Storm was filled with busyness and gratefulness and sheer determination to be strong in the face of whatever may come. The second week has been filled with deep sighs at yet another day of hurricane hair, showering by flashlight and eating cheap fast food. Also the petty envy and the childish whining that fills my heart while longingly looking out my window at the porch lights of my neighbor across the street. Wah.

One thread runs common through all of us, whether in a season of light or a season of darkness, we are all very tired. I've decided we are all suffering from P.I.T. Post Ike Trauma or P.I.S.T. Post Ike Severe (or Stress &) Trauma. Symptoms include: Crying/laughing or cussing at the sight of a porch light (not yours), a bag of ice, a gas can, a grill or the sound of a generator. Exhaustion. The appearance of having chicken pox (from the hawk-sized mosquitoes biting you while you sit outside at night trying to catch a cool breeze while staring plotting ways to run electricity from your neighbors house to yours). Scratches, bruises, blisters, sunburn, heatstroke and callouses from hauling the forest from your backyard to your curb. Exhaustion. Forgetfulness. Repeating the following Do you have power yet? Is that the microwave? Is that a power line truck? Who has ice? Do you have power yet? and exhaustion.

I hope this doesn't come across as whiny and negative. As I said before there are pockets of joy we've been able to delve our little hands in to and grab hold of some semblance of peace. We have learned much about ourselves and one another. Found reserves of strength deep within that would not have been discovered if not for the current situation.

For instance I have learned that it is possible to cook pasta, make coffee and even bake a pie on a grill as well as a variety of dishes only thought possible with the modern miracles known as KitchenAid, Cuisinart and General Electric.

I've found it is possible to live without tv, radio, internet and sometimes air conditioning, but NOT Starbucks. You can have serious, even life threatening withdrawals from Starbucks. And I don't even drink the fancy stuff. Just straight coffee ma'am, thank you very much. You would have thought they were giving away the store the day I found they were open again. I squealed with the delight of a preteen viewing the Jonas Brothers when I saw the Open sign finally return to my crack dealer Java Love Distributor. Sigh.

I now know I am still able to do my own pedicure. (dangit) I have become quite the spoiled little brat regarding my feet and was at the point where I refused to even think about touching them myself. I must say, they aren't as pretty nor is it as relaxing as having My Le, sorry Tammy give me a pedicure, but nonetheless still possible. At least I can reach them now...(small weight loss surgery update: I've lost 133 pounds and have 32 to go. I have gone from a size 26/28 to a 12/14. I am at almost 7 months post surgery and will post pictures soon barring another hurricane of course.)

I have discovered it is possible to be in the close proximity of two teenagers and one husband for 24 hours a day and 14 days straight without committing murder. Although I must say I've not been happier in the past two weeks than the day the kids went back to school and I was able to spend 8 child-free hours - even if it was at work.

Tomorrow marks 14 days without for our family. Oh but weep not for me for there is hope...yesterday as we entered our neighborhood the sight of huge orange and white trucks filled my heart with joy and my eyes with tears. When we got home there were 4 large, smelly, filthy and sweaty men in my backyard fixing the the power lines and I've never wanted to hug a stranger more. While we are still without and others around us may have light, we have each other, we have the love of fa...oh who am I kidding? I WANT MY LIGHTS ON NOW!!!!

I see a beautiful city and a brilliant people rising from this abyss, and, in their struggles to be truly free, in their triumphs and defeats, through long long to come, I see the evil of this time and of the previous time of which this is the natural birth, gradually making expiation for itself and wearing out.

Ikelings

Well, Ike is gone. We are safe. The world around me looks like one big lawn cleaning party. Piles and piles of limbs and cut down trees line the streets and neighborhoods.

Everywhere we go the strain of the past few days is etched deeply on the faces of the people we talk to. No lights. No water. No phones. No place you can go without waiting for hours and hours in lines of people or cars for, what would be in a normal world, everyday conveniences acquired hastily and without pause. Gas, bread, water and ice seem such precious commodities now.

We have survived. No damage to our home. No damage to our bodies. And, as the past few days have proved, no damage to our spirits. If anything, this storm has fortified our will to carry on and make do with what we have.

You've seen it on the news, neighbors helping neighbors. People reaching out to one another extending support and exhibiting selflessness. It's the same story in our area. No one will go without necessities if we can help it.

We came up to the church to check on things. My husband has come here to work for the past few days. Repairing things around the building. Cutting down fallen trees. Hauling off trash. I took a moment to check emails and post this little note.

It feels kind of strange to see pictures on websites of all that has been going on since I have been long without communication to the outside world. As my neighbor said, you can only watch the news after hurricane if it doesn't strike you. I am sure the devastation is far reaching and incredibly depressing to watch. At least it has been whenever I've seen the aftermath on the news.

But this post is to let you know, that the news is not all bad. There are pockets of joy. There are areas of blessing.

If you are here in Houston, then this post is to let you know I am fervently praying you are okay. Hoping all is well and asking you to let me know if you need anything.

If you are not in Houston, then this post is to let you know what is happening here in my stretch of land. Asking you to pray fervently for those of us who have lost so much that we would hold dear to what we have left. Each other.

I will check back soon I hope.

Storm Report

The word hurricane strikes a chord of fear in most people's hearts. And reasonably so. As my boss said, we not only live in a post-9/11 world, we also live in a post-Katrina world. No longer can we stare down the throat of a storm of any magnitude with the nonchalance and bravado of a circus lion-tamer.

Being born and raised here in Houston, I must say that hurricanes are simply part and parcel of life on the Gulf Coast. Although I am too young to have seen the destruction of Carla, I do remember well Hurricane Alicia and Tropical Storm Allison as well as a slew of other storms whose names I can't remember. I remember being afraid but we were always prepared, ready to "hunker down" and bear the brunt of whatever devastation and destruction the storm might bring.

With Ike barreling down on the Texas shore, those fears of destruction and devastation begin rising up in our minds like the storm surge, crashing against our sensibilities way before we even face the actual storm.

Hurricane Ike rides in on the tail of several other storms that have wrought their own destruction in one way or another in our life as well as the lives of others in my life.

For me the word teenager strikes more fear in my heart than any old hurricane ever could. A hurricane's path is somewhat predictable and blows over pretty quickly. In comparison to a teenager it is a breeze, pun very much intended.

My youngest son is 15. That alone would make the most seasoned parent shudder. Add to that he has some factors that augment what is already - in my opinion - a category 5 situation. Some would label these factors as disabilities, I would rather see them as challenges or opportunities to rise above the waves that would drag you down and toss you about like a a flimsy piece of driftwood.

As I've said before, I foolishly thought we would somehow escape the onslaught of hormones and teenage angst because I had a very close relationship with my son. My hopes were soon dashed upon the rocks and lay strewn like so much garbage waiting for the vultures to pick it apart. Oh. Woe. Is. I.

I've waited and waited for the return of the son I once recognized as my own. I have sent out my pleas to the alien beings who, I believe, abducted him about a year ago and replaced him with the venom spitting, surly tempered, Tasmanian devil that closely resembles the churning swirl of color looming ever near us in the Gulf.

This school year my son has decided he will no longer go to school. He just wants to stay home and sleep all day. Well don't we all silly boy, but sadly this is not an option the real world offers. Well, not unless you are Warren Buffet. And he didn't get there without an education and lots of hard work.

On Tuesday we got a call from the school that he was receiving in school suspension for one day because he refused to wake up and do his class work. On Tuesday evening we came home from work to discuss the matter with him. During this discussion is when we were informed we had not a clue what he meant about anything and that he simply was not going to school and if he could not stay in the house he would leave and become a (eh, hem) vagabond.

We truly thought when he walked out the door, that he would be back within an hour after having walked the block and come to his senses. We spent the next 4 hours and 45 minutes in agony. It was every parents worst nightmare and every teenagers attempt at independence.

I cannot tell you the amount of tears I shed nor the number of times that I begged God he be returned to me safe. I cannot describe the places my mind went to for they were dark, vile and void of hope, places that a parent's imagination should never have to roam.

I remembered every news story of every child who went missing. I remembered every parents interview. I remembered thinking I hope that is never me. I remember thinking oh God, don't let it be.

When it became obvious he was not coming home soon, and we had searched the entire area. I texted friends that I couldn't talk, but to pray because he was missing. Our neighbors set out and searched surrounding areas as well. My friends texted every few minutes "praying" and "love you" and "is he home?". One even showed up at my door because she just couldn't take it anymore. What would I have done without them? These loved ones surrounded us, anchored us and shored us up against the storm. They were our life lines when we would have otherwise drowned.

When he walked in the door I began to wail as if I'd been told the worst. He began to weep as we hugged and I repeated over and over "thank you God!". For as many times as I had pleaded for his return, I thanked Him. For every tear that was shed, I matched it with thanks and praise.

We talked that night and for now the storm has abated somewhat. But I know from my own teen years that were fraught with drama that the storms return quite quickly, that perhaps this is merely the eye and we've yet to get through the other side.

Some might think we simply ignored all the news flashes and flag warnings posted. That we must have turned a blind eye to the obvious signs and symptoms of an impending storm. This however, is not the case. We have all we could. The advent of teenagedom was, after all, inescapable.

Ours is not the only storm that has blown it's course.

One of my closest friends who I've known for over 30 years, recently faced the very real threat of cancer. Cancer comes more in the form of a tornado than a hurricane. Coming at you out of nowhere and striking with ferocity and vengeance. Taking with it anything that may be solid or firm in its path - everything you've built - wrenching it away. Behind it no trace is left of anything you knew. Mere shambles and rubble left where you once felt secure.

Another close friend is dealing with the ugly truth of cancer being fleshed out in her mother. Having faced this very storm once before, they are very aware of everything they have ahead of them. I am not sure if that makes it easier or worse.

Yet another close friend who has struggled with her health for some time now was recently told that her heart is not operating at full capacity and has perhaps suffered a heart attack.

While Ike is doing its worst to tear our world apart and the other events are attempting to take their toll on us as well, we have hunkered down (a very popular phrase right now), sheltered in place, boarded up the weak areas, gathered our supplies and prepared for the worst.

But instead of the worst, I continue to hear awesome reports of faith and friendship coming out of these trials. Reports reminding us we are going to be okay, no matter what.

Life Has Been Life

Deep right? THAT should go on a bumper sticker. Or at least in a fortune cookie...

And while it's an excruciatingly simple statement that explains absolutely nothing, my friends it's so very, very true. For the past few weeks I've done my share of avidly pursuing life, liberty and personal happiness.

I don't think I caught anything but a wretched summer cold.

And so while sniffling my way through the chase I've not stopped long enough to post anything to my beloved blog except for a meme, thank you Ali.

I will say that I started several posts yet I never finished them and as I go back and read them they seem rather uninteresting and so very much yesterday's news.

So rather than drone on about the past, I thought I'd give you a Cliffs Notes version of it all to keep it short and sweet. Okay, maybe just short.

There will be a test later, with a written essay portion so please pay attention. Or...not.

*takes exaggerated deep breath*

Well, we got back from Florida and went back to work and there was plenty of work all around the church like the worship center, which is in it's final days of being renovated here at work/church and some of the work they were doing was producing "non-toxic" fumes which made it impossible to work in some areas in fact for several days the fumes were so strong we had to relocate our office in to the Fellowship Center which made for a good time as I've not had a window in my office in a while so I could look out and see it raining which it hasn't done that in a while even though we've had SEVERAL threats and near misses which is kind of disappointing because even though I don't want the damage and destruction a hurricane can bring I have an odd fascination with, or perhaps better stated, I am obsessed with and love having bad weather and would just like to have one day home with a really blustery thunderstorm or two but that isn't anywhere in our near future for the next week we are only getting hot weather and no surprise there because it's Houston which is not Beijing where the Olympics were and were very exiting indeed especially all the swimming although perhaps not as exciting, momentous or as strenuous (at least on my nerves) as going back to school - that is at least to my children who have moped and whined and complained and murmured every day since it's beginning this year even though we've done hardly a thing during the summer other than Florida to keep them entertained and distracted from the fact that they had nothing to do which led to mostly sleeping and reading and eating all great things in small quantities to be sure but not for three months straight but rather than head back to seeing and spending great gobs of social time with their friends and learning new and exciting things about our world they would rather be at home watching Camp Rock - which has the Jonas Brothers & Naruto - which doesn't have the Jonas Brothers but is apparently just as interesting but not as appealing on a poster or in a Disney movie and speaking of movies since we are in Houston and it has been so endlessly hot we've done our fair share of staying out of the heat and in theaters watching movies like The Dark Knight (amazing - absolutely amazing), The Incredible Hulk (great), Get Smart (funny) Speed Racer (ugh, waste of money, don't get me started but I was a fan as a kid so I wanted to see it and now I wish I had gone to see...) Iron Man (I hear it was fantastic) & Hancock (eh, didn't care for it so much) and I guess that about brings you up to date other than this week is the week before my birthday and I don't have really big plans other than spending more time out of the heat and indoors with my family which includes my brother who is coming to visit from Virginia with his wife, step-daughter and my nephew all of whom (who? that one always gets me along with effect or affect no matter how many times I look it up) I've never met (well, duh I've met my brother) other than in pictures and speaking of pictures along with my brother's visit and my birthday, my 6 month post-surgery anniversary is coming up and I hope to be posting more pictures of the progress along with birthday/family re-union photos.

*takes not exaggerated deep breath and sighs*

There. You are now up to speed and fully informed of all the events of the past few months in the unceasingly exciting lives of the Moya's.

Now, if you will, please take out your #2 pencils....

Tell Me, Meme, What Were You Doing When...?

The sweet Irish Ali knows I've not been a blogging of late and sent me a little help. Thanks Ali for the meme push!!


The following are 5 major events and the impact they had on me:

Princess Diana's death - August 31, 1997
I heard about it on our car radio I do remember that but I cannot remember exactly where we were. In reading and hearing the story of her death over the following days I didn't shed tears but I know my heart was very heavy. Princess Di exemplified, to me as well as to so many people, grace, compassion and love in action.

Margaret Thatcher's resignation - November 22, 1990
No clue. But, I did Google the date to see if surrounding events would jog my memory a bit. Seems my memory doesn't like to exercise and still doesn't remember her resignation. I did see that the oh so very talented (puke) and highly acclaimed (not) Milli Vanilli were being outed as fakers (duh). This truly shocking and devastating moment in history might explain why I wasn't paying attention to the end of Maggie's political career.

Attack on the twin towers - September 11, 2001
This moment is unlike any other in my memory. It is the most vivid remembrance I have. (Yes, even more vivid than the birth of my children because dude, seriously? I'm a wuss and I was drugged.) Down to clothing, aromas, sounds and names, the most intricate details are there. I was in the pharmacy at the hospital, which is where I worked at the time. A co-worker came rushing down the aisle where I was standing along with 2 other co-workers and told us of the first plane. At the time it was thought to have been merely an accident and not one of the most horrific events in American history. Then the report of the second plane came and we were all dumbstruck. Several of us put aside our work for a moment and went to a nurses station where there was a t.v.. There we sat with many other employees, patients and visitors and watched as the towers burned and then fell. No one talked. No one said a word. But most of us cried. All around us, activity was continuing as usual in the hospital, it had to. But it felt almost profane for it to do so in light of what we were seeing.

England's World Cup semi final v Germany - July 4, 1990
I remember it like it was....no wait, I'm lying, I don't remember that at all. I wonder why? Oh that's right, I don't follow soccer or football as the rest of the world calls it. Oh and I Googled this date as well and yeah, nothing.

President Kennedy's Assassination - November 22, 1963
I was merely the ripe old age of -3 (yes folks, that's a negative) at the time. So, like Ali, I was not...um, not yet. And like Ali the first death of a celebrity I experienced (or that I remember) was Elvis'. However, unlike Ali, I was 11 and I did not cry. I know, I am a cold and heartless woman. I mean come on, it was Elvis! But alas, I am (gasp!) not now, nor was I ever a fan.

Now on to the task of passing this bit of fun on...
I hereby nominate for the post of the What Were You Doing When Meme:

Meg of Meg's Garden

Jen of Lessons Learned

Courtney of Schiskablog

Sharon of Shae's Window to the Soul

and drumroll please......

Nancy of Nancy's Monablog

Happymess is a State of Mine

Gah! Has it really been almost 2 weeks since I've posted?

Geesh. Sorry folks. I'm not sick, depressed, in prison or off on a top-secret mission in the jungles of some unnamed uncharted island fighting power hungry sinister villains bent on world domination. And vacation is over, so what could possibly be my excuse this time?

Perhaps it's the shock & awe of returning to the Real World. You know, the one where you have to wake-up to an alarm, wear something else besides flip-flops and a bathing suit, actually cook your own meals (with or without help), make your kids do their chores, put on your happy face (aka mask, make-up, camouflage or war-paint), clock-in and actually do some work so you can get paid?

This is, of course, the antithesis to the universally popular world of Dreamville otherwise referred to as The Vacation World. Sigh.

It was - how shall I say this? FANFREAKINGTASTIC. AMAFREAKINGZING. As well as AWEFREAKINGSOME. Just to throw out a few adjectives.

No really, it was just that nice. Here are pictures to prove it:


Ocean water as it should be.
Pensacola, Florida



Beach sand as it should be.
Pensacola, Florida



Good Lord Lawrence, that is beautiful!
Pensacola, Florida




I spy with my little eye gorgeous white sand, empty beaches
and beautiful blue water.
Pensacola, Florida!
Dang. You guessed it.



Ahhh.


It warms the cockles of me heart and truthfully I'm a little teary-eyed just looking at them....


Oh, you want to see pictures of us there? What, you don't believe me??? Okay, here is your evidence oh doubting Thomasessesess...



The day of our arrival, road weary but happy to Arrive Alive.
(Florida's ad campaign to buckle-up)
We made it!



Elena & her cousin Gina ready for a day at the beach. Literally.




Jesse & the girls.


Here is evidence that even my son had fun. Um, sort of.



Sort of because in this picture (look on top of our vehicle) he was bound and determined to "NOT have any fun! NOT going in the water or near that yucky sand!"


Yeah, that lasted all of five minutes....

Sand fight!!!
(I started it and dang! it were fun! I am SOOOO mature.)



J. Cool, posing all gangstariffic in his Sponge Bob swim-trunks.
He is sooooo dreamy.


Stop yer yic-yacking, I can hear you. I was too there. Who do you think took all of these lovely photographs??? Again with the doubting? Okay, okay...


HERE is your proof. One very white foot. In very white sand.
That is all you're getting folks.

There are things we didn't get pictures of...like all the road trip drama and laughter and hotel high-jinks.

Okay, no, there weren't really any hotel high-jinks...unless you count Jesse unplugging the elliptical machine in the hotel gym while some lady - who, if looks could kill, Jesse would be buried next to Eddie in the Florida sand, only much deeper and without any way for him to breathe - was trying to get her workout on...he was so embarrassed.

What? It was just a suggestion and he didn't have to listen to me! I just thought maybe it would help the treadmill start back up since the computer on the dang thing was frozen and he couldn't get it to do anything. What do I know??? Geesh.

Other than that it was completely mindless, effortless, work-free, exhausting, ended way too soon fun-filled vacation. We came, we got burnt and we went home with more sand than should be legally allowed. Good thing they don't charge you by the pound for that...trust you me, we took home half a beach and it was in everything and everywhere...Like Elena said, "Mom, I went to pull my bathing suit off and a sand dune fell out."

She's so cute.

Right Hand Red, Left Foot Green

I'll bet you know what that's from. That's right folks, Twister, the game that ties you up in knots. That's also the name of an exercise class that I've started taking.

No wait, that's just the way your body feels during the exercise class...and the tied up in knots part is what you feel for days afterwards.

You read that right me lovies no need to break out the reading glasses and call in the family to point at the screen and laugh. Me. An exercise class. Me. Who would have thought? Well certainly NOT ME...

Yes, yes, it was me who, if asked to go work out at a gym, would loudly profess "I don't believe in public humiliation."

And yes, it was me who swore she wouldn't be caught dead trying to keep up while sweating with a room full of shapely bodies. Bodies that don't actually need to sweat to the oldies.

Yes, yes, yes, I would put working out in public right up there with having your teeth pulled and trying on bathing suits - I thought of it as just that painful.

Yes that was me. Ah but how quickly the treadmills turn for that was me then and scarily, this is me now. And I've discovered crow goes down much easier with a little Crystal Light.

This is me now, in all my glory and all its jigglyness, poured into a pair of sweats huffing, puffing and flailing around the room and actually enjoying - quite profusely I might add - the torture being meted out to me and 10 others. I think I might need some intense psychotherapy folks because I'm not quite sure just who I am anymore.

And, if I am to be at all fair in giving you a complete picture, I must give you these bits of information, for it would be slightly untruthful and less than forthcoming not to. I am participating in this bit of human degradation at a gym in a church. This is an exercise class with co-workers, all of whom I know and love. And this is a beginners weight training class - well, supposedly for beginners but none of us are buying that bridge.

Now, with all that said, it is still a gym. And all that aside, there are still witnesses in the room. And, all things considered, this is still to be filed under the category titled public humiliation.

Now you would think when he started the class with how many? jumping jacks I would have run Forrest, run screaming out of the room. Nope. I obediently began to jump. If you could call it that - looked more like jack. I thought dude is this high school? It has that same utterly embarrassing feel to it. The instructor looks like my old high school gym teacher - thick mustache, big muscles and deep voice, except this time it's actually a man.

Then I hear the sound. I try to place it. Kind of sounds like hands clapping slowly. Who is that, is someone keeping beat???

Wait.

Oh. My. Word.

That. Is the sound. Of my thighs. Slapping together. Seriously? Oh yes. Gulp. This could get ugly. Truthfully, it already is quite ugly. Uber. UBAR.

Gratefully no one can hear the mini-ovation over the grunting and gasping for air. Either that or everyone is just too kind to laugh in my face.

The next hour proves to be one that shows - no matter how strong, healthy, in shape I might foolishly dream I am - I am not. I am a sad sack of jelly fish and every muscle in my body is at that very moment screaming for me to be taken down by a licensed professional at close range. And the gelatinous things that used to be my legs and previously had held me up so stoically now feel like I am being cattle-prodded and tasered simultaneously and the traitors have abandoned ship. They've mutinied along with my lungs and every other cell in my body.

Once class is over we look around taking a mental body count as we smile at each other. I hear myself pant and wheeze. I take a swig of water hoping to hide my asthmatic sounding breathing. I wheeze louder. And then I praise God I made it through without passing out or passing gas and wobble out the door. And look forward to next week for more of the same.

Sicko.