Do These "Smart Phones" Come With Your Own Personal Computer Geek?!

I dare not complain too loudly concerning my recent cell phone upgrade.  If you all remember correctly, it was me who was complaining a few months ago about the pitiful service that our previous provided had.  Well, that little problem has been solved, but now there is a new one in its place...this "Smart Phone" is apparently smarter than I am!

Robby changed our cell phone provider this week and our new i-phones arrived as well.  With the kids spread out all over the country, we had each person's shipped to their home and that left everybody to fend for themselves concerning the activation process.  This would not be a problem for the kids, because these younger people were raised on computers and technology, therefore, it is second nature to them.  Robby and me....now THAT'S another story.  Actually, Robby and I each know enough bits and pieces about technology that if we were so inclined to combine that information, we MIGHT know about one-third of what the children do. However, when the phones were delivered late that evening, Robby opened them and began the activation process immediately.  At one point, he asked me how many contacts I had on my phone and I told him not many and that I could definitely put mine in manually.  He replied that he could not since he had hundreds on his phone.  And THAT was the only question I was asked during the entire process.  As I glanced his way every now and then, I noticed that he was concentrating fiercely on this technological project.  He had computers and i-pads and phones and cords strewn all out on the kitchen counter top and as I eventually prepared for bed, he was still sitting there with his hair standing on end, looking a bit like Lyle Lovett.  I warily glanced his way, thought better of commenting on what he was attempting and turned in for the night.

Upon awaking the next morning and making my way to the coffee pot, I noticed that our i-phones were each plugged into our chargers; Robby must have completed his project.  Entering the room, he affirmed that he had indeed successfully activated our phones... there was just one little problem that had occurred.  Now, THOSE are NOT words I like to hear.  "Hmmm...what's that?", I asked.  "Well, those contact I mentioned last night..."  "Yea...", I cautiously I replied.  "Something happened when I hooked the phones up to the computer and you got all of MY contacts."  I slowly turned around and bit my tongue while thinking, WELL THAT'S JUST PEACHY!  HUNDREDS of phones numbers.  Problem number 1:  Ask Justin how to get those numbers off of my phone.  With a quick kiss and hug good-bye, he headed out the door without further instruction of how to use this new piece of equipment; SURELY I could figure out how to make a phone call.  I would soon discover that apparently I COULD NOT.

Rushing out of the house that morning, I threw the phone in my purse, jumped into my car and headed toward the gym.  The first thing I quickly became aware of was that my blue tooth had not been hooked up.  Reaching for the phone, itself, I attempted to call Robby.  Finding the keypad icon, I touched it and...it said I needed to set up a voicemail.  WHAT?!  CRAP!  I just needed to make a phone call; I couldn't do all of that driving down the road.  I knew what I could do; I would just hit my "contacts" icon and call him.  UGH!!!  He wasn't on his own contacts list and my contacts weren't on the new phone yet.  What to do, what to do...I went back to the contact list, hit Justin's name, talked to him and told him to call his dad and have him call me; I would THEN have his number on the phone if I needed to call him again.  I may be technologically challenged, but I DO possess some critical thinking skills!

Arriving at the gym, I headed straight to my trainer, told him my "cell-phone plight" and he said, "Hand it to me."  He showed me where the settings were and began to assist me with my obviously "Smarter Than A Person Smart Phone"; YES!  FINALLY someone who had the time to give me a quick tutorial.  He asked if I wanted a new ring tone set and I definitely did; the one that was currently set sounded like a very soft version of a child's xylophone playing...I would NEVER hear that sound ringing inside my purse.  After the short instructional session on the usage of the new cell phone, it was time to work out...Heaven KNOWS I was beginning to feel a little bit of stress.  After lifting weights and completing my cardio, I found myself still fidgeting with my phone.  I was about to go into a yoga class and wanted to make sure my phone did not ring.  Hurriedly I ran over to my trainer again (boy, he was really earning his money this morning) and asked him how to put my phone on silent.  He told me to just turn the volume down on the side.  I said, "Well, if it goes off during class, I'm going to tell them it's YOUR fault."  It didn't actually ring, but when a message would come through, it made a little trilling sound (blip...blip...blip...).  I looked at it (and the woman on the mat behind me that also heard that little blipping sound), picked it up, walked out of the room and directly over to my trainer again...where I placed it in his hand and asked him to please just put it on his desk because I simply couldn't deal with it right now.  I NEEDED yoga more than ever this morning now.


As the day wore on, I continued to work with my new phone, learning more about it with each icon I touched.  I needed to reach Justin at work, so I pulled up my (very extensive) contact list, hit "ACE" and waited for someone to answer on the other end.  When they did, I did not recognize the voice as I asked to speak to Justin.  The individual on the other end seemed as confused as I was.  She continued to inquire as to what Justin's last name was and as I gave her that information. She then asked what department he was in...WHAT?!  He's the store manager.  How does she not know who her boss is?  And THAT'S when it hit me...I was speaking to the corporate office in CHICAGO!  Ugh...Note to self:  Get that contact list removed from my phone ASAP.

Well, as the weekend continued, I became more familiar with my new phone.  I learned how to text, hooked up my blue tooth and added quite a few apps to it.  I still have all of those hundreds of Robby's contacts on there; finding someone with the knowledge of how to remove those, is a task I will tackle this week.  And I could definitely still use my "Own Personal Computer Geek" to assist me, because I'm pretty sure that there are things this phone does that I have absolutely no knowledge of.  I have come to the conclusion that these "Smart Phones" are definitely smarter than the average person! 
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Hey Mama!... There's A Fish In My Closet!

When Ryan was a little boy, he very seriously came and got me to come to his room.  He was quite concerned and I suppose a little afraid as he told me there was a fish in his closet. Now, Ryan was not the child who came into the living room after being put to bed every night with an excuse to get up...that was David.  He came to the end of the hall every night wanting a glass of water.  So when Ryan told me there was a fish in his closet, I just assumed that he had experienced a bad dream.  Walking into his room, I turned on the overhead light and tried to assure him that there was no fish in there.  That is when, with big eyes, he nodded his little head and said, "Yes, there is; he was just sitting on the end of my bed."  WELL...now how do you argue with that?!  In order to at least half way convince him that there was no fish in his closet (or room for that matter), I began to take everything out of his closet to prove my point.  Needless to say, there was no fish in his closet, even though he still appeared doubtful after looking inside for himself.  I bring up all of this "closet talk" because I have begun a very daunting and loathsome task...cleaning the closets (ugh...)

Why, oh why, oh why do I allow my closets to get this bad, I ask myself every time I find myself in this position.  I actually keep a very neat and clean house; I am very particular about that.  However, I am a "junk drawer junkie" from way back.  Let me give you a little example.  When I was a teenager and still living at home, I had this night stand table just beside my bed.  And stuffed within that table was a TREMENDOUS amount of...STUFF (OK; crap...).  Anyway, it was so stuffed full that I could only open it a tiny bit; just enough to stuff a little bit more inside!  Unfortunately our home was burglarized...fortunately the burglars could not get that drawer open either!  Because if they had, they would have found another several hundred dollars that I had stuffed in there.  So...I guess this story sort of justifies having a "junk drawer" in my mind some way.  However, it does NOT justify it for Robby at all.  I can hear his moans and groans as he has to open one of those drawers to search for something.  Well, I hate to admit it, but my closets get the same way...EXCEPT I DO try to clean those (at least mine) out each week.  The problem is though that no matter how many times I promise myself that I am not going to just throw things on the floor in there, I do it again..(.THUS, you will NEVER see this on my New Year's Resolution List)! 

The current "problem closets" that I am going to focus on are Ryan's closet, my closet...and unfortunately I'm still packing up Christmas decorations upstairs to put in the attic (HEY!  Don't judge me...I've been busy).  I know, I know...Ryan doesn't even live here; how could his closet need cleaning?  That is exactly the reason it does need cleaning...it was available to junk up!  You see, it is downstairs and quite convenient for those things I need to get "out of sight, out of mind" quickly.  Well, I decided that this would be the week I would tackle that project.  Along with that, I will be focusing on getting the rest of those Christmas decorations in the attic.  They made it to the room upstairs, but there were so many...and I wanted to make sure I somewhat organized them before putting them back in the attic (I'm sure that won't happen as planned...) so I wouldn't have to search for items next year.  Then, the REALLY BIG PROJECT is my closet.  I'm sad to say that I am STILL unpacking my suitcase from my Washington, D.C. trip.  But that isn't the real issue.  The real issue is the fact that I have way too many pieces of clothes that I just simply need to get rid of.  You see, I love fashion and each season I continue to add to my wardrobe.  However, I do not get rid of all the old items that I don't wear any more.  Once I even made myself a promise to get rid of all the items that I hadn't used in the last year...and I meant to do that, but when I start going through my closet, I just think that they are such great items that surely I will wear them again.  Alas...I don't.  And there they hang in my closet, not making room for the new things.  And also it brings to Robby's attention that my side of the closet is WAY more overstuffed than his.  So, I plan to embark upon this daunting task this week.  Do I think I will finish?  Most likely not THIS WEEK.  However, I have made a plan to make a plan to get the job done!  And I intend to stick with it...Well, that is until I find something more interesting to distract me!
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21, 23, 25 and 27...NO! Those are NOT my lucky lottery numbers!

21, 23, 25 and 27.  It suddenly occurred to me this week that these were not only currently the ages of my children, but they also held other significance.  These numbers were MY ages when I gave birth to each of my four children!  How cool is that?!

I never really think about how old (or young) I may have been when I gave birth to my children.  All I remember is that the 80's are all pretty much a big blur of giving birth and raising young children.  However, the other day I was just riding down the road when it suddenly hit me that their exact ages were the same ages that I had been when I gave birth to them.  Now THAT fact really put things into perspective for me.

Caitlin is 21 years old.  I gave birth to Justin, my first child, when I was 21 years old.  Then I thought about Caitlin and WOW!  It was very difficult for me to imagine her with a child.  At times, she still seems like a child, herself, to me.  I'm really proud of her for going off to Washington, D.C. this semester because she is not extremely independent and is also afraid of her shadow.  Taking care of herself is a big enough task ( one she still needs assistance with at times), so I could never imagine her at this point in her life having and taking care of a child.

Ryan is 23 years old.  I gave birth to David when I was 23 years old.  Justin was born on the 27th of September and David the 26th of March; this made them one day shy of being exactly 18 months apart.  My mind cannot even conceive Ryan having a child at 23.  Although he is child #3, everyone (including him) will agree that he is "Mama's little baby".  You see, I really wasn't sure that I would go for child #4, therefore, I held,, rocked and babied Ryan much of the time.  And he was such a great child to do that with.  He was always very easy going, never cried or complained and all he ever really required was his blankie. Ryan is still that child who never asks for anything and is a very low maintenance person.  At 23 could I imagine Ryan having two children?...NEVER!

David is 25 years old.  When I was 25, I gave birth to Ryan, making the number of little boys I had, grow to three.  Justin was the typical, obedient first child and Ryan the easy going child.  David?...He came into this world lively and has never settled down (although none of us would have it any other way).  Being married for 6 months now, I could actually see David with children...maybe not three at this time in his life, but David definitely loves children and I hope that one day he has 3 little mischievous boys of his own!  I can still remember when Caitlin was born; the boys were 2, 4, and 6 years old.  When they would get home from school each day, David was the one who would run to my room and just lay down in front of Caitlin and look at her.  He loved her from the very beginning.  There are lots of old family photos of the kids, where you can usually find David holding Caitlin.  He still loves kids and they love him; perhaps it is that free spirit of his.  One day I could see him having kids...but at 25?  He's just now beginning to settle down at little, himself.

Justin is 27.  When I was 27, I gave birth to that 4th child.  When I think about it now, I wonder how in the world I ever survived.  I was a stay at home mom with four children...6 years old and younger!  Justin now has a 4 1/2 month old baby and it has been an adjustment for he and Sarah.  I look at them and think 27 is so old to just be getting started with a family, but then I have to remind myself that these are different times.  After all, it hasn't been long that Justin completed his master's degree and actually started a career.  Although he and Sarah are settling into having a baby, I could never imagine them having 4 children right now.

What is the difference?  How did Robby and I do it at that young age and we think that our own children could not?  Well, as I stated before, these ARE different times.  In 1980 I enrolled in college like many of my friends.  It was just something you did.  I wasn't that serious about it and had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.  All I was concerned about was getting married and starting a family.  And that is exactly what I did.  I put off my college education, got married and had a child every other year until I reached the magical number of 4!  THEN...I went back to college and finished my degree.  I know, it was a sort of backwards way of doing things...and definitely a more difficult path to take.  These days, kids (at least mine) are more focused on college and career.  In this day and age it is important to be able to have a specialized degree in order to find a good job.  Thus, we find people getting married later in life and having children at a later age.  Would I change anything about my life?  That is the question that I have been asked many times over the years by people.  And my answer to them is always the same...NOT ONE THING!  I have no regrets about how I did things (even if I landed in a little trouble at times...), regardless of how backwards they may seem to others.  Being a mom and wife has been the BEST job and BIGGEST accomplishment of my life.
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Get Me Some Ear Plugs Before I Pull My Hair Out!!!

After coming to the realization that I HAD to return home...and leave my baby in Washington, D.C., Robby and I prepared to leave. But not before having one last meal together.  Caitlin met us at our hotel for breakfast before heading out for her orientation activities that day.  I was definitely going to miss Caitlin; I was used to seeing her every weekend.  Trying not to focus on the "negative", I assured myself that I would be flying back soon to visit her...even if the weather here was less than desirable.

If the plane trip TO D.C. was an indication of every good omen and positivity, the trip back was beginning to shape up to be the EXACT OPPOSITE.  We flew into Ronald Regan and were scheduled to fly out of Dulles.  The trip into D.C. to our hotel took about 5 minutes tops.  As we got into our ride heading to Dulles, we kept driving...and driving...and driving; for about 30 minutes to be exact.  Exiting the car, our driver informed Roby that his fare would be 67 dollars!  OH MY GOSH!  THAT'S when it occurred to me that the guy at our hotel did not hail a taxi for us, but a car...Note to self:  ALWAYS insist on a taxi; their rates to and from the airport are fixed.  There was no curbside check-in today, so we headed to the counter to leave our luggage.  That's when we found out that the plane we would be returning on would not be a big plane, but a regional jet...GREAT: that meant that not only would we not be getting anything to eat, there would be no in flight movies and really crowded leg room.  This day was going nowhere FAST.  We were told that if we could make it to the counter 40 minutes prior to our flight, we could get the exit aisle seats, thus having a little more leg room.  Robby staked out the counter and did just that.

After securing our seats for the flight, we decided to go purchase food to take with us.  That is when I began to get a headache...a possible migraine.  There could be several possible reasons for the headache...I had not slept well for the past two nights, the cold weather had finally gotten to me or perhaps simply the stress of leaving my baby girl in this big city.  Whatever the reason, I reached for some prescription medication along with Advil and popped them in my mouth.  Within about 10 minutes, I was beginning to feel the effects of the medication and walked over to board my plane, with the hopes of sleeping for the next 3 hours.  I made my way to my seat, leaned back and shut my eyes as we prepared for take off.  That's when I heard it...the most annoying sound!  Two seats in front of me were 2 women sitting side by side; one could not be heard saying much, while the other one...OH MY GOODNESS...there are hardly words to describe her talking.  Her voice was VERY loud, with a tone to it that would wake the dead and in addition to that, I believe with all honesty, I can say I have never heard anyone speak at that rate of speed before.  And I'm not sure if any of you have ever experienced this before, but the more I noticed it...the more noticeable it became.  I began to get really edgy; to the point of finally thrusting my hands over my ears and squeezing my eyes shut...I felt a "SHUT THE HECK UP, LADY" coming on.  That's when my dear, sweet husband (his snoring the result of my sleepless nights) glanced over at me quite calmly.  I noticed he was reading a book on his i-pad...how the heck could he CONCENTRATE with all that talking going on?!  Noticing my hands covering my ears and the distressed look on my face, he asked if I would like to use his earphones; "YES!"  I shoved them in my ears as far as possible, without damaging or bursting my eardrums and I'll be darned...I could STILL hear that woman's incessant talking!  I jerked them out and said, "This won't work...it doesn't drown her out."  Then, he suggested that he put a little music on from his i-pad and I agreed.  FINALLY...some relief.  The man sitting directly in front of me suddenly JUMPED up and began frantically digging through the overhead compartment; he looked frustrated and pained.  I saw the relief flood across his face as he found what he was looking for...HIS EARPHONES!  He caught eye contact with me, pointed to the seat in front of him and mouthed, "I couldn't take it any more..."!  I settled in to the drumming of a rock-n-roll song that was much preferable to the chattering and cackling going on in front of me.  Who knew that with a pounding headache, "Cat Scratch Fever" blaring in my ears would be the lullaby that eventually put me to sleep.

I awoke several hours later free of my headache and feeling much better.  I looked around and noticed that "talking woman" had dozed off to sleep, herself.  I felt like we should all do what the people did at the end of that old "Airplane" movie...walk past her and shove her...wake her up...start talking in her ear.  But for now, I would just enjoy the peace and quite; we were about to land soon.  That's when she woke up.  It was merely like a tape had been paused, for she picked up right where she left off...same volume...same tone...same speed (ugh...).  Then I noticed that almost EVERYONE around her was also wearing their earplugs too.  Note to self:  NEVER travel without i-pod and earplugs. 

As we were preparing to leave the plane, the man in front of me said, "I have never heard anyone talk that fast before in my life."  Robby replied, "Perhaps an auctioneer."  The man quickly said, "Yea...and nobody was buying today!"  We made if off the plane in Houston and now had the last leg of our trip to complete before we were home; a 3 1/2 hour drive.  It had been a very long day; actually several days.  I hoped that we had done everything possible to get Caitlin settled in her new home.  I found it difficult knowing that I wouldn't see her for at least a month.  However, you will all be pleased to know that I did not make a fuss as we said our good-byes that morning...OK, maybe I just hung on to the end of Rapunzel's flowing locks a bit as she jumped out of that castle window!
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Cute Coat versus Warm Coat...How Will A Southern Belle EVER Survive These Temperatures Fashionably?!

OK...so, I will admit that Caitlin and neither anticipated how BITTERLY COLD it was going to be in Washington, D.C.  While Robby (in his practicality) secretly packed his thermal underwear, Caitlin and I packed our cute little sweaters and coats.  We were very quickly slapped in the face with the cold reality of that northern wind.

The next day of our trip, we bundled up, caught a cab and headed to Caitlin's new apartment.  I was still a little nervous about leaving my little fish in this big fish bowl.  However, upon arriving, I found her new abode to be in a safe, quaint area.  After she checked in, we prepared to tote her luggage...you've got it UPSTAIRS AGAIN (like I said, she is destined to NEVER have a first floor apartment...).  Tugging and pulling on that overweight luggage, we finally made it to her new residence.  It actually wasn't too bad.  There would be 6 girls, from all over the U.S. living in this one apartment; 3 sets of bunk beds in two bedrooms...and only ONE SHOWER.  OK...now what MAN designed this apartment?  6 girls getting ready for school and work should be interesting.  Caitlin threw open her suitcases and began hanging clothes up and stuffing them in drawers, while her father looked on in amazement at how much she had brought in those 2 suitcases.  I assured him that it was MUCH less than her move to Texas; he still thought it was ridiculous.  Finishing up with that task fairly quickly, we decided to set out and explore the city on foot.  What we did not take into consideration was the 30-something temperatures outside.

Leaving the warmth of the apartment, we had only made it a few yards when I immediately realized that I had NOT brought the best coat with me to D.C.  Oh, it was cute; a bright salmon colored pea coat amongst the sea of black attire found here, but definitely NOT the warmest choice.  I have never been a fan of cold weather and this day certainly did nothing to change my mind about that.  You see, in Louisiana, we may have a few days where the temperatures dip into the 30's, however, it usually doesn't stay there for long.  AND if it does dip into the 30's, it is in the 60's or 70's by noon.  I had a feeling that in D.C., these 30-something temperatures were going to stay constant all day long...and throughout my trip as well.  Determined to see some sights and take a few pictures, we continued to walk...and as we did, I soon could not feel my fingers, toes or nose.  Coming upon a building, we found it was a museum that housed plants...OK; a greenhouse?  How fortunate that we should find this just before hypothermia set in.  Dashing inside, with chattering teeth, we began to tour the various greenhouse environments.  It was very beautiful inside, but I have to admit that I may not have stopped to go through this particular museum if I hadn't been so cold.  Eventually we had to leave and I bundled up as best as I could to brave the harsh conditions outside.  Looking around quickly, I asked where the next nearest museum was.  Robby informed me that our next stop would be the Native American Museum...he had to see the museum that held the history of "his people".  OK...whatever, just get me there ASAP!!!  AND get me some hot chocolate or hot tea...or basically ANYTHING hot to drink!!!

After spending the rest of the afternoon in museums, it was time for us to head back for the day.  Caitlin had a dinner to attend and Robby and I would go out for dinner, ourselves.  SURELY we would not be walking back in these temperatures.  Thankfully, Robby hailed a cab.  As we were dropped off at our hotel, we told Caitlin goodnight and to call us the next day after her orientation.  I was beginning to feel a little better about her living here for a few months...although I was not sure how a southern belle would ever survive the cold.  I suppose I would have to get online and find her one of those unfortunate looking "puffy coats"...ugh!  Oh well, I guess there IS a time and a place for everything...even unfashionable attire (I cannot even believe I just said that...)!
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Rapunzel Prepares To Jump Out Of The Castle Tower...

Washington, D.C. will never be the same.  Elle (Caitlin) will be moving to Washington, D.C. in January to complete her college minor and work at an internship there.  Go ahead and paint the town PINK, because it will NEVER be the same once "Elle" makes her imprint there!

Like a little bird who walks across a freshly fallen snow, Caitin has made her imprint across the memories, hearts and lives of all who have ever met her.  There is no doubt in my mind that she will make her mark upon the memories of everyone she meets in our nation's capitol.  I am really excited for this opportunity and new experience in her life, however, it brings to my mind one question..."Is Mom REALLY ready for Caitlin to jump out of that tower?"  I use the "tower analogy" because when viewing the new Disney movie, "Tangled", we all decided that Caitlin not only looked like the star of the show, but was also very much like her in many other ways as well.

When she approached us with the opportunity to participate in an American Studies Program in Washington, D.C., we were not hesitant to let her pursue this endeavor.  Even during the application process and eventual acceptance into the program, we were still extremely excited for her.  It was only at some point during her Christmas break from school that the reality of the situation began to set in for me...my baby was going FAR AWAY for 3 1/2 months...WHAT THE HECK WAS I THINKING?!  So, as time passed and I helped her pack and ship items to Washington, I became more and more anxious.  Well, the day finally arrived this week when Robby and I were to fly with her to her new temporary home.

We had to drive to Houston a day early due to the fact that Robby's father was having surgery, so we would have a direct flight there...that was a good thing.  Our flight was at 1'oclock....that was also a good thing.  I was searching for all of the positives to focus on; not that Caitlin going to Washington wasn't "positive"...it was just the "unknown"; and for a mom, that was a little scary.  We made it to the airport in plenty of time to check our luggage, get through security and relax before our flight.  Caitlin was only allowed to bring 2 suitcases to this program...I KNOW...for 3 1/2 months!  THAT was a challenge.  So, what do you think Elle would do?...Why, find the largest suitcases she could in the attic...and stuff them full.  For once, I packed more lightly and was actually quite proud of myself.  That is until upon arriving in Houston, I found several of HER items in MY suitcase!  So, as the airport attendant began to weigh each piece of luggage, we soon found that one of her suitcases was 8 pounds overweight...and the other 12 pounds!  Standing with his hands on his hips, Robby simply instructed her to start "moving things around creatively" to get to the correct weight load.  This was nothing new; we (she and I) had emptied many  suitcases at the counter before...and so, clothes went flying as we stood watching in amazement at her "light packing".  Finally completing this task, we moved inside and made it through security without any problems at all...THAT was definitely a good thing.

We had a little lay over, so we decided to sit in the President's Lounge while waiting.  While there, Caitlin struggled to set her Kindle up on her i-pad.  You see, she had 2 books that had to be read by the start of class on Monday...yep, you heard me right!  There's nothing like putting something off to the last minute; but hey, I wouldn't expect anything less.  So, it was when she was fiddlin' with her i-pad that I saw him...  ELVIS entered the room!  No kidding!  This guy dressed like Elvis walked in and right over to a table.  As I sat there (sort of in amazement that a grown man would dress like this...at least in public), I wondered how I could get a picture of him...without him noticing me doing it.  Well, that didn't work.  It was time to board the plane...we were about to be a little closer to dropping my baby off; this was going to be harder than I anticipated.

The flight was only half full, so we all had empty seats around us and was able to stretch out and actually enjoy the flight...another good thing.  There were also in flight movies available...also good.  So far, this day had gone well with a good many "good things" happening so far; was this a sign to me that everything was going to be OK?  We landed in Washington and took a taxi to our hotel.  I had booked a room as close as possible to Caitlin's new apartment and as we drove up, the view of the nation's capitol greeted us from just down the street.  Tonight would be the last night for a while that Caitlin would be sleeping under our roof...or at least in the south.  We found our way to our rooms and anticipated the next day, when we would actually get to SEE Caitlin's new apartment...
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Hey, Lady...A Spa Day Is Supposed To Be Relaxing!

All of the guys decided to travel to Dallas for the Cotton Bowl (GEAUX TIGERS!) this weekend, so Caitlin and I decided to have a little fun of our own.  We booked spa packages at a local spa.  Nestled in the quietness of the woods, we couldn't wait for our relaxing day.  As I anticipated this, a thought suddenly crept into my head...once upon a time, I scheduled a spa day at the same place, only to have a "Cathy Chatty" assigned to do my facial.  SURELY that was a one time only thing.  There was no way that it could happen again...could it?

We booked our spa packages to begin at 9 in the morning; that way we could also go to lunch afterwards and basically just mess around since the guys wouldn't be in town.  So, arriving at the quiet spa retreat, they told us we would begin the day with spa baths.  How WONDERFUL!  Laying in that hot water, reading a book on my Kindle...what a great way to start they day.  Not really being a "morning person", I loved the quietness surrounding me.  The slight knock on the door came, signaling me it was time to get out of the tub and move on to my next service...a facial.

Still tugging at the corners of my mind was the vague memory of the "Cathy Chatty" girl from before...she gave me my facial too.  Sitting in the waiting area, reading and sipping lemon water, I was beginning to unwind.  It had been a rough week with Robby having the "Man Flu" and all; sleeping on the couch had worked me over (not to mention the stress of all that Lysol spraying...).  The door opened and a cheery looking lady summoned me to come with her for my facial.  Getting up, I followed her around the corner to her treatment room.  She instructed me to get on the table and she would return shortly.  Laying there, breathing in the eucalyptus oil, I had to smile at a distant memory of a cousin who once over dramatically ran from a room containing eucalyptus, coughing and gagging because she said it cut her breathing off.  Remembering this incident and how we all howled with laughter at her, I had to wonder if she would do the same upon entering this room...or possibly quite simply faint dead away.  Anyway, it wasn't a couple of minutes before the facial technician returned.  As I lay upon the table with my eyes closed awaiting a peaceful treatment, she began to talk...OH NO!  And the things she was talking about sounded vaguely familiar.  Although this was a different woman, the stories were just as odd. In her twangy accent, she informed me that she was a certified cosmetologist in 3 states:  Tennessee, Texas and Louisiana...well, that certainly explained the accent.  And imparting that knowledge on me was truly not of much consequence...it was the following information that had me a little disturbed; or shall I say that she shared it with me was a bit disturbing.  Trying to concentrate on the soft piped in music, with strains of ocean waves beating the shore, she continued to explain HOW she ended up in Louisiana (ugh...).  She said, (and I will paraphrase just a bit) "Yea, I didn't meet my real mom until I was 24 and my real dad until I was 25.  She ended up having 3 strokes in a row...and a baby.  I had to come down here to help her out.  It's a real Jerry Springer kind of story."  At this point, I opened my eyes...looked at her and merely said, "Hmmm..."  Hey!  I know better than to ask any questions about the specifics.  It's just like a fisherman throwing a line out and you (being the fish) taking the bait.  I closed my eyes again.  That's when she began to question my about my skin.  I told her it was a bit dry and that's when she informed me that I shouldn't exfoliate more than once or twice a week.  She said that was because as we age, our skin get thinner...OK, that's true.  THEN she said, "You know, you are only allotted so many skin cells in a lifetime and once they're gone, that's it!"  WHAT?!  I let her continue to explain..."Yea, you can't make new skin cells and your skin just becomes like paper; very thin.  I never knew this until I went to college."  Now, I'm not sure about all that and will definitely have to ask Doctor Dave about not being able to make more skin cells.  Anyway, she FINALLY got started with the treatment and leaned in close to me and said, "Now, you just go to your happy place..."  ALRIGHTY THEN!

Going to my "Happy Place" was a little easier said than done.  Where I liked the smell of the eucalyptus, I began to have a little bit of anxiety as she sprayed something in my face not 1 or 2 times, but 3 TIMES! That choked me a little bit; actually made my heart race and then I would settle down again.  Next, she decided to paint a mask on my face.  This is not something unusual, but painting it over my LIPS too sort of freaked me out!  I've never had the mask put on my lips before and I surely didn't want that stuff getting in my mouth...so I just laid there very still...waiting for it to dry so I could get it all washed off.  And as I was laying there, I kept thinking about the guy who used to work there and do facials.  He was WONDERFUL (OK, girls, I'm sorry, but a gay guy just gives a much better facial than you ever could...).  Not only did he not talk while giving you a facial, he could almost put you in a trance of total relaxation where you were floating somewhere between being awake and asleep.  I longed for that kind of facial once again...I suppose it was not to be.

Later that afternoon, Robby called to see how our spa day had gone.  I told him that it was OK.  He said, "It was just OK?"  "Yea, I said...there was no need to really explain, for you see, he knows that at times my expectations are a bit higher than humanly possible.  Oh well, I did get to spend a wonderful weekend with my daughter before it was time for her to return to school...and THAT was worth every weird moment at the spa...as the say, "PRICELESS". 
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Good-Bye Christmas...Hello Mardi Gras!

I suppose one of the great things about living in Louisiana is that there is not much post holiday depression here.  That is in part due to the fact that the party has not stopped for us...it has just begun!  As quickly as we take down those red and green Christmas decorations, the purple, green and gold of Mardi Gras adorn our homes.

Truly, a catholic based holiday, down here in the deep south, we ALL have adopted this festive holiday.  Years ago, only New Orleans and areas very close to south Louisiana celebrated this holiday with its Balls and parades.  However, in recent years, we here in central Louisiana celebrate just as heartily as other areas in the state.  How...you may ask?  Well, for starters, Mardi Gras has its own school holiday.  Most state schools, have the Monday and Tuesday (Fat Tuesday) off...even the state colleges!  Hey, what better way to get rid of those "winter doldrums" than a little holiday in the midst of February.  Many people stay around for the festivities, but just as many also head to the slopes during this quick mid-winter break. 



Some of you may be familiar with the term Mardi Gras, but only as it is associated with New Orleans and a BIG party.  Actually, there is some rhyme and reason behind the festivities.  Although most of us begin putting up our Mardi Gras decorations as soon as we take the Christmas ones down (it's just easier that way), January 6th is the official beginning date of the season.  This is a celebration of the Twelfth Night Feast of the Epiphany; the time that is traditionally thought the 3 kings visited the Christ child.  It occurs 46 days before Easter, with parades taking place, quite frequently, the two weeks prior to Fat Tuesday.  Fat Tuesday is the "Big Blow-Out Day" before Ash Wednesday, which begins the Lenten season.  During Mass, the catholics have ashes smudged upon their foreheads, indicating that the Lenten season before Easter has begun. 

However, before Ash Wednesday and Lent arrives, there is LOTS going on down here in the south.  First, the round of King Cakes begin.  An oval-shaped, sugar coated confection with a little plastic baby stuffed inside makes it rounds among the party goers, with each person who finds that little baby tucked within their piece being responsible for providing the next cake.  In addition to the King Cake tradition comes the round of Mardi Gras Balls.  As soon as Christmas is over, the snacking stops and the dieting begins for most women, who are all out in full force searching for that perfect Mardi Gras formal.  Robby and I have been to a few of these over the years and they are great fun.  The evening is filled with food, drinking and dancing (usually to a live band) and ends in the early morning hours with a full hot breakfast; there is even a King and Queen at each Ball as well.  Yep!  We sure do know how to "Do it up BIG" here in the south.  And as I mentioned before, there are numerous adult and children's parades that take place before Fat Tuesday arrives.  The Krewes (a club that consists of women who are responsible for putting the Balls on and sponsoring the parades) climb aboard fantastic floats, throwing everything from colorful beads, doubloons (colored coins) and plastic cups to the literally thousands of people (over 100,000 here in our little town!) with their hands out saying, "Hey Mister, Throw Me Somethin'!"



Needless to say,  Mardi Gras is a festive, happy season here in Louisiana that we all look forward to each January and February.  So, as I write this, I have already hung the colored lights, wreaths and ribbons on my  front door, the first King Cake has been bought (and half eaten) and boutiques around town have already put out their new Mardi Gras decorations of the season.  SO...as we here in Louisiana like to say, "Laissez les bon temps rouler!"...LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL!!!



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I Don't Want To Say It, BUT...(maybe) I TOLD YOU SO...

I would like to say that I'm not the type to say, "I told you so"...but I AM.  However, I DO have enough sense to know WHEN it is safe to say it.  Remember me thinking that Robby had the flu?  OK...so, it was actually the "Man Flu".  Haven't ever heard of that?  Let me explain, then.

The "Man Flu" is a medical condition where a "man" contracts the flu (same flu as everybody else has...), BUT it is MUCH WORSE...why?  Well, of course, because a MAN has it!  You see, I have found that when men get sick there are several things that almost always happens...universally.  First, they are in denial and refuse to take any advice from their spouse; who, by the way has been taking care of not only sick kids for years, but also herself.  So, the conversation between the (sick) husband and wife goes a little like this:

Husband:  "I feel terrible; sort of achy, might even have a fever."
Wife:  "Well, have you taken your temperature?
Husband:  "No, I haven't taken my temperature.  Could you go get me the thermometer?"
Wife:  "OK."

Wife takes husband the thermometer and indeed he does have a low-grade temperature.

Wife:  "Would you like some Advil?"
Husband:  "I guess."

Wife takes husband the Advil and glass of water.

Wife:  "I think you might have the flu.  You need to call the doctor and get some Tamiflu.  If you start taking
           it within the first 24-48 hours, it won't get bad."
Husband:  "I don't have the flu!"
Wife:  "Well, your symptoms sure do seem like it to me."

Wife goes to the store and buys some Theraflu.  Husband acts like a small boy as he holds his breath and shutters as drinking it.  Wife says. " You need to stay home tomorrow and rest."  Husband gets up the next day and goes to work.  When he comes home, he feels a little worse.  Wife asks, "Did you take your medicine this morning?"  Husband says, "No...it tastes terrible."  Hmmm...OK.  Wife says AGAIN, "You really should try to get the doctor to call that Tamiflu in for you...AND stay home tomorrow."  Husband gets up the next morning, actually takes the Theraflu (probably because he is beginning to feel MUCH worse by then), BUT goes to work again.  When he comes home in the evening, he REALLY feels bad and his fever has gone up.  The wife (OK...ME) is thinking, "If you had done like I TOLD YOU TO and gotten your flu shot, you wouldn't even be going through this right now." 

The next morning, the husband gets up and overnight has become a surly bear.  The wife doesn't know this because she has not been sleeping in the same room with him, because although SHE got HER flu shot, she is taking no chances on getting sick.  So, she offers to get the husband some juice or Advil or whatever he might want.  Snapping at her, he insists that she FIND HIM A DOCTOR, so he can see what is wrong with him.  The wife is a little confused, because not only does she KNOW what is wrong with him, she has been telling him for 3 days now what to do.  However, although he refers to her as Nurse Ratched, she makes a call to her doctor and gets him an appointment...sprays the house with more Lysol and gets out of there.  Calling later, the wife inquires about the doctor visit.  The husband informs her that the flu test came back negative, but the doctor said it could be wrong; he thinks he will treat him for the flu...with what?  Tamiflu!  OK...so I still did not say, "I TOLD YOU".  And that's because...well, WHY would you tell a grouchy old surly bear something like that?!  He would definitely growl at you.  He feels so bad now that he actually stays home from work.

The husband starts taking the Tamiflu, but you know it takes a little while for that to start working.  In the meantime...this "man flu" causes MUCH more grouchiness.  Doctor Dave (middle son who is presently in medical school rotations) calls to check on him.  As I listen to their conversation, I notice that the surliness has subsided into childlike whimpering.  Then, he says, "Get on the phone and talk to David."  I get on the phone...but he doesn't hang his end up.  The surliness reappears and we are fussing at each other on the same phone line...in the same room...looking at each other!  How CRAZY is that?!  David (in his newly acquired, soft "doctor voice") instructs me not to raise my voice to dad because he is sick...ugh!  David (and the other boys) are worried about getting him well by Friday.  Why, you may ask?  Oh, did I fail to mention that they all have tickets to the Cotton Bowl in Dallas?  You would have though THAT FACT ALONE would have been incentive enough to listen to the wise advice of his wife.  After a good deal more sniffling, sighing and shuffling through the house, he EVENTUALLY retires to the bedroom...and I to the couch.

The other thing these men do who have the "man flu"?  They don't consider that other people do NOT want to also be infected by their sickness.  Oh yes...they insist on sitting in the same room with all of the well people in the house.  And it might not be so nerve racking if they didn't move from place to place...getting their germs on EVERY surface in the room!  I found myself literally running from couch to chair to counter tops, spraying with the Lysol.  At one point I began to sneeze and almost freaked out, thinking that I might be coming down with something, myself...when I realized that it was merely a combination of the excessive Lysol spraying and Vicks VapoRub that I was putting up my nose.

Well, it is the night before the Cotton Bowl and Robby is feeling better, but not perfect.  He is still taking Tamiflu and I am still spraying Lysol.  The boys have been calling and when I asked if he was still planning on going to the Cotton Bowl, he answered, "Of course!"...After all, he didn't have the flu!  I shake my head in agreement because I know that is true...he had the "Man Flu"!
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Was The Name Of That Fitness Class Called "Kickin' Abs" or "Kick Your...YOU KNOW WHAT"?!

On my continuous quest for fitness, I decided that perhaps it was in line for me to branch out a bit and try some new fitness classes at the gym.  Perusing the schedule, I saw that there was a class called, "Kickin' Abs".  Upon inquiring about it, I was told by a friend, "This is a fun class".  Well, heaven knows I'm all about having fun while working out, so I decided to give it a whirl.

It was an afternoon class and I generally work out in the mornings.  This particular morning, I had to pick Caitlin up from the airport, so as I bopped up to the group fitness room, I was feeling pretty confident that this class was going to be a fun and enjoyable experience.  After all, my friend who convinced me of this was there too.  We stood around chatting while waiting for the instructor to show up and as she walked through the door, I realized that she was the "super fit, muscular instructor"...whose class I had never taken before.  Oh well...ANYBODY can hang in there for an hour (can't they?)

When the music started, it started with a BANG!  Techno is the word for it, I believe.  I haven't worked out to music that fast and furious since the 80's doing high impact Jane Fonda aerobics.  "Wasn't there going to be some sort of warm-up period?," I thought.  Apparently NOT, I soon found out.  OK, so the first thing I needed to do was to catch on to the choreography...footwork AND fist punching.  That wasn't too bad; I never have had much of a problem catching on to that sort of thing...However, I could tell that the pace of this class was about to kick it up a notch...and THAT was what would  kick my butt!

Determined to keep up, I continued to punch, jump and squat until I literally thought I was going to throw up!  Either that or have a coronary.  I couldn't tell which was more elevated; my heart rate or body temperature.  But I kept moving...and concentrating...and thinking over and over again, "Anybody can do this for just one hour...anybody can do this for just one hour..."  That's when I glanced at the clock on the wall...HOLY CRAP!  The clock MUST have stopped.  There was NO WAY I could possibly survive 30 MORE MINUTES of this insane class.  I glanced over at my friend ( who apparently had more stamina and better lung function than I ) and she actually had a pleasant look on her face.  I motioned toward the door and mouthed..."I'm going to get some water."  Walking out of the room and to the water fountain, I hoped that I did not pass out from low blood sugar or lack of calories left in my body.  I HAD to return to the class...I COULDN'T be a quitter.  Walking back into the room, I jumped right back in and with sweat drenching my shirt, finally made it through that portion of the class...OH YES; there was more to come.  We got out the mats and then began the REALLY INTENSE  workout on our abs...that is when it came to my attention that I possibly had a sunburn on my face...I WAS BURNING UP!  As I glanced again at the clock, I saw that there was only 5 minutes left...PRAISE THE LORD!  We stretched a little, the instructor told us to give ourselves a hand (couldn't move mine to do that...) and we were free to leave.

Whew!  I had actually made it.  My friend asked me if I was staying for the next class also...ummm, that would be a NEGATIVE!  Well, I didn't actually say it like that.  I said, "Oh, I can't tonight; I could only take one class tonight and chose this one."  Inquiring if I would be back next week, I informed her that I would be out of town (which was not a lie...), but would definitely return the following week.  BUT, then I plan on trying the other class...Zumba!  It's a dance class...and I've been told, "It's so much fun!"  Heaven knows I'm all about having FUN while working out, so I think I'll just give it a whirl!
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Mrs. Monk Arms Herself With Lysol and Vicks VapoRub!

OK; so I will admit it (as if most of you didn't already know) I am definitely a germ-a-phobe.  Maybe not as bad as Mr. Monk, but pretty bad by most people's standards.  I am currently having a bout with this germ-a-phobia due to the fact that Robby woke up with a few body aches, a head ache, low grade fever and a slight cough yesterday.  My mind instantly went into a tailspin as my anxiety level skyrocketed and all I could think was...FLU!!!

I am absolutely terrified of catching the flu.  Let me explain.  You see, 3 years ago, I actually caught the flu and was terribly sick and in bed for 2 weeks.  Still weak and truly not feeling well enough to be out, I attempted to return to my daily routine.  That was not a good idea, for 2 days later my cough worsened and upon returning to my doctor, I found out that I had developed pneumonia.  I was given 3 shots, more prescriptions, a couple of inhalers and strict instructions to get into bed and stay there.  NOW do you understand my fear of contracting the flu again?  Well, after that year, I decided to take my doctor's advice(imagine that) and get not only the flu shot, but the pneumonia shot as well.  Up until now, I have been fortunate not to have gotten the flu again.  This year, I insisted that Robby also get the flu shot...thinking that he was tougher than the flu, he did not.

Robby always tries to down play getting sick because he says he doesn't want to be subjected to the "quarantine room".  You see, I have this theory (I KNOW...I have MANY theories) about getting sick and spreading germs.  I feel like the sick person should be put in a room by themselves so they don't get anybody else sick.  And while they are there, the rest of the house (and the "quarantine room") must be sprayed with Lysol...several times a day.  OK...and if the sick person is sleeping at the time of the Lysol spraying, they MIGHT get sprayed a little too (you never can be too careful...).  In addition to the Lysol and "quarantine room" there are other precautions that can be taken to ensure that no one else contracts the flu (or any other contagious illness for that matter).  First, there is the surgical mask.  You read that correctly.  I bought a box of surgical masks last year when Caitlin got the Swine Flu and made sure that when I was around her, I wore one.  People say that the germs go up your nose and the mask protects you from that...which also brings me to my next preventive measure; Vicks VapoRub.  My grandmother always used this on me when I was a little girl.  She had lots of old timey remedies, but this one I truly believe helps.  I just put a little of that "Vicks Salve" (as she used to call it) up my nose...to keep those germs from getting in!  And just one more little precaution that can be taken is hand washing.  It really IS important to keep your hands clean...and I actually taught Robby a little trick (that he now can't get out of his head) concerning this hand washing routine I have.  As you are rubbing that soap around on your hands, sing the "ABC Song"!  Don't act like you haven't heard of this...I know you moms, teachers, nurses and child care professionals have.  Robby said that ever since I told him that, he can't wash his hand without singing it (missions accomplished)!

I know that you must be thinking by now that I am more OCD than germ-a-phobic, but REALLY, I'm not.  I am just very cautious where germs and illness are concerned...which explains why I insisted on also sleeping on the couch last night too (couldn't take a chance...).  OK...so I AM a little more like Mr. Monk than I originally thought.  Except I don't have to have someone walk around beside me handing me hand sanitizing wipes...I have my own in my purse; which is perfectly clean because it only has MY germs on it!
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