How Hard Can It Be To Keep a 6 Month Old For A Weekend??

Parker will be 6 months old on the 28th of this month and this marked a very important weekend for Robby and me.  You see, it was Justin and Sarah's anniversary and they asked us to keep Parker while they snuck out of town to celebrate...for the WHOLE WEEKEND...for the 1st TIME EVER.  In my excitement about getting to keep our grand daughter for an "over nighter", I began to think that perhaps I had forgotten a few things regarding babies.

Having been a stay at home mom, with 4 small children, many things were now a blur for me.  I did, however, remember a few things that...well, let's say frightened me even in memory.  One of those things was sleep deprivation.  It had been MANY years since I had been woken up by a baby in the middle of the night.  Upon giving me the baby's schedule, I noticed that Parker would be doing just that...waking up during the night to eat.  So, as Robby and I were laying in bed discussing our "over nighter" with Parker, Robby announced, "I guess I will just go sleep in Caitlin's room while the baby is here."  A little shocked, I replied, "WHAT??"  He said that he knew Parker would be getting up during the night.  "OK...and your point is??", I asked.  "Well," he explained, "I figured you would make me get up with her."  WHAT?!  "Oh, don't act so shocked", he said..."I got up ALL THE TIME with our kids when they were little."  HMPH!!..."ALL the time, you say?"  OK, I will (and did...) admit that he did indeed get up a good bit with our children.  However, I talked him into staying in our bedroom and promised that I would be the one to get up for the late night feedings.

Day one came and Parker and I pretty much stayed on our routine, with lunch and feedings and nap time.  Sarah is a breastfeeding mom, as I once was, and had pumped plenty of milk for the weekend.  Everything seemed to be going well until it hit about 6 O'clock in the evening.  Robby came home and as we prepared for her dinner and bath, she began to get a little fussy.  Having done really well eating her lunch that day, I suggested that Robby slip her in her little chair and feed her...unfortunately, she was having none of that.  I don't know what had suddenly happened to the complacent little darling from that day, but in her place was someone who was really pitching a little fit.  Robby fixed that...he took her out of her seat and fed her in his arms, standing up.  Well, well, well...it seemed that the baby was going to make the rules around here.  And I suppose that was alright (did I just say that?!...you can tell I'm the Ya-Ya and not the Ma Ma).  After that, I gave her a quick bath, which she didn't seem to enjoy very well since she was getting sleepy.  I dressed her for bed and rocked her to sleep.  Hey!  That seemed easy enough.  I laid her down at 8 and she was awake by 8:05.  Hmmm...so much for getting her into bed early.  After some more rocking, she was back in bed by 9 O'clock.  Not knowing what the night had in store for me, I got in bed, myself, shortly thereafter.  At 1:15...Waaahhh!!!  I hit the floor, grabbed her bottle and plopped down in the rocking chair.  I've never seen a baby drink a bottle that fast in my life!  She "appeared" to fall right back to sleep...5 times!  And...OK, although I did not "officially" make Robby get up, I WAS loud enough that he couldn't sleep while I was up either;  sorry, but it's true that "misery DOES love company".  Finally, at almost 3 a.m., she REALLY went back to sleep and I fell quickly into bed.  At 5:30, she awoke for another bottle and went back to bed instantly.  We both woke up around 8:30.  I had survived night one of the "over nighter" with Parker Ann; now, onto Day 2.

We stayed on schedule all morning long and after her nap, I informed Robby that we had to go to town to buy diapers.  He said, "Both of us?"  "Yes!  I can't go by myself...I might need help."  He looked at me as if to say, "Didn't you use to do this all by yourself with 4 kids?"  I KNOW that was what he was thinking, but he was smart enough not to verbalize that thought.  He came inside, got cleaned up and off we went.  She was a GREAT  little shopper!  And EVERYBODY commented on how adorable she was (of course, we LOVED that...).  After making our way home, Robby returned outside to work in his shop and Parker and I played for a while.  I could tell that she was getting tired, so I decided to rock her.  She's one of those babies that fights sleep...and I'm not really sure what to do during the fight because she doesn't give up easily.  I was the one to give up first on trying to get her to take a nap (another point for baby...zero for grandparent); we went outside to visit with Poppi.  Her head began to nod, so Poppi decided that he would give rocking her a whirl.  I was sort of glad to get a break and decided to take a bubble bath while he attempted that.  Suddenly, I head this very loud noise...I wondered what it was and cracked the bathroom door to listen.  Ahhh...it had been many years since I had heard it, but it immediately brought memories back and a smile to my face.  Robby, when rocking our children, had sang to them his "special version" of a couple of songs.  First there was "Old MacDonald Had A Farm"...except on the farm he sang about, it was actually an exotic animal ranch.  For there was every kind of animal in his song from the ones who lived on the farm to ones who lived in the jungle.  The other song was his rendition of, "Hush Little Baby Don't Say A Word"...In Robby's version, he buys MUCH more than a mocking bird.  It never mattered to me, because it seemed to be the perfect sleep potion for babies.  Night 2 went much smoother than Night 1; Parker only woke up once during the night!  Now, we only had to worry about timing things just right to get to church on time.

Sunday morning came and our little sweetie pie awoke with a smile on her face.  I fed her part of her bottle and then handed her over to Robby while I went to get myself ready for church.  As I walked back through the kitchen to get another cup of coffee, I glanced over to see Robby and Parker covertly doing something.  "What are you doing?", I asked.  Glancing around like a deer caught in the headlights, he replied, "Ummm...giving her a little rice cereal."  "WHAT?!  She doesn't get that yet.  I didn't tell you to feed her anything."  Sheepishly he looked at me and said, "I was just giving her a little snack."  Oh well, how could I get mad at them since he looked so cute and she looked so happy...cohorts in crime (I'm sure not for the last time...).  We made it out of the house and to church on time.  And she looked like a little doll, if I may say so myself! 

That afternoon, Parker's mommy and daddy returned.  And Robby said to me, "I'm sorta worn out.  God knew what he was doing when he gave babies to young people."  I was afraid that I had to agree with that.  It had been a very long time since we had, had a baby in the house.  I had forgotten how tired I had been back when my 4 had been young.  Although we had a great time with our little granddaughter on our "over nighter" weekend, I now understood why my friends always said it was so "Grand" being a grandparent.  You can definitely have all of the fun playing with the baby and spoiling them...but at the end of the day, you are not the one who has to deal with the daily routine of child rearing any more.  That's all left to mommy and daddy, who are younger and full of MUCH more energy! 
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Really Random Revelations!!!

I always have these really random thoughts that often run through my mind, so I thought I should perhaps just start writing them down and sharing them with you.  You might agree with some of them and some might even make sense.  However, if they don't, just remember they ARE just my crazy random thoughts and not meant to be some sort of intellectual, thought-provoking revelations.  Read...and hopefully a smile will cross your face once or twice as you do!

1.  It's OK to have FUN!...Even if your job requires you to be serious.  It allows people to know that you are
     human too!

2.  Babies' feet don't stink!  AND they are fun to kiss on.  It also makes the baby laugh out loud when you do
     this!

3.  I really like pretending.  We should all play with young children now and then because they have wonderful
     imaginations.

4.  It's GREAT to have Valentine's Day AND your birthday in the same month... double the sweets, jewelry and
     flowers!

5.  I'm not ADD...I'm just really accomplished at wasting time.

6.  If you have a baby at home it's OK to stay in your pajamas all day...well, it least you have a valid excuse for
     WHY you stay in your pajamas all day.

7.  Ice cream eaten directly out of the container tastes better!  AND I'm told that if you remain standing
     while doing so, the calories don't even count.

8. Learning to speak Italian the Rosetta way REALLY is easier!

9.  My computer sounds like there is a little rat running around on a wheel in there when I turn it on.

10. I like living in the south because we have days in February when the temperature gets to 80 degrees!

I hoped you enjoyed my randomness of the week.  Look forward the hearing some more of this silliness next Saturday morning too.  Feel free to comment on any or all of my random thoughts and hey!...leave a few of your own if you'd like.  Go out, enjoy the weekend...do something random...and by all means HAVE FUN doing so!
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Elle In Washington, D.C. Update: "Who KNEW I Had A Martian In My Class"?!

Reality has finally set in.  How do I know this?  Elle sent me a message that said, "I hate snow"!  Was this the same girl who just a month ago, giddily ran around saying, "It's snowing!  It's snowing!  I just LOVE snow!"?  Obviously reality had finally struck and Elle had come to the realization that this was really school and work...ugh!

Although the excitement of being in a new place is still there, the demand of work and school is beginning to set in...this isn't a "vacation" after all!  I'm pretty sure of this fact for one reason in particular: Caitlin now has an entire drawer of her desk set aside for chocolate candy (instant stress relief...).  Why, you may ask?...Well, let's see, because Elle is having to learn about new ideas and topics daily.  And let's face it...she ain't in the south any more, honey!  Life in the fast lane can be stressful.  For example, just the other day, she entertained me with a story from class about "Shalom".  Yep!  That's exactly what I thought...how can "shalom" be that complicated or stressful?  She explained that to me.  "First", she said, "We were required to read about 200 pages about shalom before coming to class."  I was surprised; I thought that shalom was just a Jewish greeting that meant "peace to you".  Although she could not relay to me what else was involved in the study of this word, she stated that they then had to sit through an entire lecture about shalom.  At that point, she had heard enough, but apparently they were not done with shalom yet.  The students had to break away into groups to discuss shalom...and THAT is where the "peace to you" ended for Elle.

I'm not sure if it was just the frustration of school and work or possibly the fact that she didn't have any chocolate on her at the moment, but the young man who asked her to tell the group how she felt about shalom most likely wished that he had never asked that question.  So, with the question asked, she answered..."If I hear the word, shalom, environment or pubic policy again today, I am going to ABSOLUTELY SCREAM!!!"  Calmly responding to her outburst (as the male population are wont to do...which frustrates the female population even more...), this young man then informed her that it was her responsibility to care for the environment.  Now, if Elle's endorphins had all been in the proper place at that moment, she may have agreed with him...instead, she told him that the world had been around for a very long time and people had been doing just fine taking care of it and SHE was NOT going to worry about it; her brain just could NOT hold any more serious information like that.  Then, he said it...the thing that REALLY set her off.  "Well, Caitlin, if you don't do your part in taking care of the environment, the Earth will one day look like Mars."  "MARS???...REALLY?!", Elle exclaimed!  "And you know this HOW?...you're from Mars?!  THAT explains EVERYTHING...YOU'RE A MARTIAN.  Men really ARE from Mars, after all; just like that book says!"  Well, needless to say, not much got accomplished in THEIR group discussion session about shalom; it was anything BUT "peaceful".

The snow, the public transportation, the constant discussion of politics, the foreign land...(OK, we southerners consider ANYWHERE that is not in the south a "foreign land"), Elle is beginning to have to consider issues in her life, other than that "super cute pair of shoes" in the store down the street.  And hopefully this little "day of shalom" has taught her a thing or two about having peaceful moments in her own life.  For instance, there is one thing she should obviously NEVER leave home without...Her Chocolate!  Because we ALL know that a little bit of chocolate makes a whole LOT of things MUCH better...even having to deal with MARTIANS!
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OK...Someone's Popping Their Gum In Yoga Class? REALLY?!

Every year at the first of the new year, people flock to the gym in droves.  I suppose it's New Year's resolutions and all.  And, believe me, I think everybody should get fit if they want to, but HEY!  There ARE some rules those rookies need to learn.

I dread the first part of the new year at the gym for several reasons.  One, the parking lot is absolutely full, therefore, one has to leave home even earlier than usual to search for a spot.  Two, all of the "newbies" are on the cardio machines, so one doesn't even know how to time things so that they can find a vacant machine to use.  And three, there are some "unspoken rules" that need to be learned by these "newbies".

I like working out mainly in the mornings for several reasons.  It starts my day (and metabolism) off right and the gym is not quite so packed at that time of day either.  EXCEPT at the beginning of a new year.  This year has been especially bad.  I mean, some classes will always be full, but for the most part, morning classes always have  lower attendance. Which, by the way I like!  I attend a couple of late afternoon classes and I must say that the afternoon crowd is a bit more aggressive than the morning one.  If one plans on attending an afternoon class, they must come early, hover outside the classroom door and when it opens rush in (push a few people if necessary...) and jump into a spot quickly.  If you don't go by those rules, you will be shoved to the back corner and never even know what happened.  Anyway, the one class that I REALLY enjoy is yoga.  Yoga has even been filling up like crazy; with people I  have never even seen before.  And in yoga, we all have "our spots".  There is a group of us who have been in this class for years and it's sort of like having your special spot you sit in, in church.  One day (before I realized that yoga was going to be taken over by newbies too...), I walked in to find my place taken...ugh!  I had to go to the middle of the room and when class was over, the instructor told me everything seemed to be out of balance because she just wasn't used to seeing me there (See!  Even she knows where our "places" are...).  So, the next day, as she was walking to the class, she ran over to me and grabbed my mat and said, "I'm just going to go ahead and put your mat down in your "place".  I know I may seem to be rambling to some of you, but this REALLY IS going somewhere.  It's going back to the "unspoken rules".

The thing about yoga is that it is supposed to be a relaxing experience.  It is cool, dark and quite in the room.  Only very soft music is playing and the teacher has a voice that is calm; almost a whisper.  We have our own little mats and hey...come to think of it, I probably like it so much because it reminds me of being in kindergarten!  And THAT is why NOBODY chews gum in yoga.  Except today!  The room was quite crowded (for some reason, the newbies were still coming...and it was almost March!) and the instructor turned the lights down and soft music began to play.  I could feel the stress leaving my body as I closed my eyes and began to relax.  And then I heard it..."POP!"  And my eyes flew back open as I thought to myself, "Was that gum popping?  SURELY NOT!"  I took a deep breath as we made our way to lay flat on our backs to complete the class.

As we stretched our bodies into spinal twists and happy baby poses, I began to find myself unwinding again...and then KAPOW!  There it was AGAIN!  Opening my eyes, I turned my head toward the sound, trying to locate the guilty party.  I found her...a Newbie Yogi (I should've known...) and she was not only CHEWING gum, she was also POPPING IT; a double infraction!  Forgetting the purpose of my class, I kept my eye on her for a while.  I thought perhaps if she felt my eyes on her, she might look my way and I could give her the proverbial "evil eye".  No luck there, but the gum popping stopped and I turned back around and closed my eyes.  As the class ended, we settled down for the relaxation phase.  "Close you eyes, take a deep breath, let you body relax..."  POW!  OH NO...How could she?!  Popping gum is NOT relaxing...well, at least not for those of us listening to it.  I gulped in another HUGE breath of air to relax myself as we finished up.

As we rolled our mats up to leave the fitness room, I thought about how lucky that Newbie was.  Had this been a couple of weeks ago, I may have gotten up during class, gone over and jerked that gum right out of her mouth (OK...I was just a LITTLE hormonal that week).  However, I had been nice enough to simply take into consideration that she WAS indeed a "newbie" and didn't know those "unspoken rules" of yoga.  She got a free pass today, but look out...if she returned, I might have to give her the low down on the rules of yoga; which include NO GUM POPPING IN YOGA!
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I'll Eat Cheetos For Breakfast If I Want To...It's My Birthday!!!

It wasn't that I really WANTED to eat Cheetos for breakfast...and by the way, they were Baked Cheetos; does that make it sound a little better?  But I found myself out of...well, EVERYTHING as far as groceries go.  So, making a quick search of the pantry, I found the Cheetos.  And cheese IS pretty nutritious, isn't it?  OK...so it wasnt' the first time I had done this, but it was REALLY important for me to eat something for breakfast today, because I had BIG plans...it was my birthday!

This was the last year of my forties...WHAT?!  OH MY GOSH!  How in the world did this happen?  It seems like I just blinked and BOOM!  I was almost half a century old.  Well, in this last year of my forties, I planned to accomplish a few things I had always intended to do.  And on this day, I would be participating in a fitness event.  Don't get all excited now, I DIDN'T  decided to run a 5K or marathon...I'm not THAT ambitious!  I did, however, decided to participate in a 3 hour Zumbathon for the American Heart Association.  As some of you may recall, I said I was going to try Zumba, after deciding that Kickin' Abs was not for me.  Indeed, I did join the Zumba class at my gym...and I LOVE IT!  The class is a fun-filled hour of Latin dance, with upbeat, lively music.  Not only is Zumba fun, but it is also a total cardio work-out; thus, a great way for people to help raise money for The American Heart Association.  I was definitely "IN" when I heard about this event!

Robby had plans for the day (a golf tournament...what's new, pussy cat?!), so I signed up to participate in the Zumbathon.  What else did I have to do anyway?  It was to take place from 9 until noon.  We would have a few breaks for water and there was a table set up with fresh fruit, muffins and granola bars on it.  Not many in my family were surprised that I would choose to do this...but Caitlin (who had gone to Zumba with me only once) thought I had lost my mind.  We took to the basket ball court instead of the fitness room, to accommodate the large number of participants.  Those of us who came to class earlier in the week, were asked to wear red for the event.  And as people began to arrive, there was a sea of red settling over the floor...all excited and prepared to dance.  I took my place beside my Hispanic friends (3 ladies who attend my class...one from Mexico, one from Argentina and one from Cuba) because let's face it...they inspire me as far as Latin, hip-shaking salsa goes!  I find myself watching them out of the corner of my eye and mimicking the manner in which they saucily move across the floor.  The music began and we were off to dance the morning away.

3 hours seemed to pass quicker than I thought it would.  I wasn't too tired, but I WAS drenched with sweat when I left the gym.  I had actually done it!  3 hours of Zumba.  Now, I'm not saying that I would be able to move the next day, but I had accomplished what I set out to do.  This may be the first day of the last year of my forties, but I was going to make it the BEST year of my forties as well!
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Elle In Washington, D.C. Update: Hey! I Don't Even Know What Public Policy IS!!!

Robby and I encouraged Caitlin to go to this American Studies Program in Washington, D.C.  She is a business major and her university requires that each student also leave their school with a minor degree as well.  When this opportunity came up, it was perfect; she could complete her minor in Political Science in one semester.  There was only one little problem with that...she had NEVER even taken a political science class!

Caitlin is the one person in our family who has never kept up with the news or current events.  I tried to get her to watch the news, but she simply was more interested in "fashion and fun stuff".  And THAT is precisely why Robby and I thought that going through this program in Washington, D.C. would be great for her.  She would be actually living in the city where it all happened.  And being submersed in the history and politics would force her to look at and understand the world around her better.  We found that what we had actually done was thrown our little guppy into a huge shark tank...I just hoped she wouldn't get eaten up!

The first indication that perhaps the political arena was not for her, was when Caitlin called to say that she had never read so much in her life.  They had immediately thrown several political type books at the students to have read before class even started.  Then she stated, "Yea...if there is anything I hate more than READING about politics, it is politics THEMSELVES."  Hmmm...now this just MIGHT prove to be a very long and interesting semester.  Well, at least Washington was also filled with "fashion and fun stuff", if she got too bored with all of the political talk.  Then, the assignment came..."THE ASSIGNMENT".  You know, that one assignment that every program gives its students that makes them actually feel physically ill?  She called to tell me about it.

Upon entering the program, each student had to choose a course path to take; either journalism or political science.  Caitlin chose political science.  I assumed (yea...I know what assuming gets you) that they would take some basic political science courses and then just be totally submersed in the Washington scene.  Well, that was about the time "THE ASSIGNMENT" was revealed.  Oh, the students would have to attend lectures  around the city at various sites, listening to a number of speakers on different topics.  They would also be required to keep a blog on their experiences with their internships, but the really big shocker ("THE ASSIGNMENT")  was to come in the form of a 30 page paper that was required to have 78 sources!  And the subject?...PUBLIC POLICY!  Oh yea, and it gets better than that... the subject matter had to do with something that has an environmental impact or something concerning energy.  My mind was racing at warp speed.  Clearly, I was going to have to move to Washington, D.C. for the semester..but WAIT!  30 PAGES?!  78 SOURCES?!  I had never written a paper that long in my life...and where the heck does one find 78 sources?!  THAT'S when she explained that they had to set up interviews with people around Washington to make up most of these 78 sources.  PEOPLE??? WHAT PEOPLE?  "Oh...senators, representatives and other people in the political world", she told me.  I was REALLY sweating now.  Elle had to go get interviews with all of these Washington political powerhouses?  I was clenching my teeth and could feel the stress creeping up the back of my neck...it was time to have a glass of wine on my back porch.

As I sat there, the phone rang. It was Caitlin, who sounded a little stressed, herself.  She said, "I don't even KNOW what public policy IS...WHY would I choose to take this class?!" Ummm...maybe because you aren't a journalism major, writing for the Washington Post (THANK THE LORD!), I thought. I asked her if any of the other students were stressed out about it too and she said, "Let's just say...when the professor was telling us about the assignment, I looked around the room and everybody's mouth was dropped open.  One guy's face turned so red, I thought he was going to cry and I personally felt like I was about to throw up."  OK...well, at least she wasn't alone in her misery...you know that old saying.  She did say that one of her roommates (she calls her the "genius") had actually done one of these papers before.  She said she felt sorry for her and would help her as much as she could; that sounded like a plan to me.  However, the time was drawing near for the title of the paper to be turned in...in JUST 2 DAYS!  And she didn't understand ANYTHING about the subjects that were listed on the paper.  NOW, I felt nauseous!!!

The next day, I called to talk to Caitlin and see how the search for a research topic was coming along.  Oh...she still had another day to decided on that.  WHAT?!  I wanted to say.  "Well, what are you doing today?", I asked.  "I just went to D.C. Cupcakes.  They are AWESOME!  And the shopping over here in Georgetown...OH MY GOSH, Mom...we're definitely going to have to come here when you visit again!"  CLEARLY, she was having some sort of stress induced denial episode.  Here I was still worrying about "THE PROJECT" and she was having a CUPCAKE and a little RETAIL THERAPY.  Should I have expected anything less from Elle?  I guess she will eventually learn what public policy is AND finish that 30 page paper.  If she can take the stress by eating a cupcake and having a little retail therapy, I guess I can deal with the stress by taking adopting my Scarlett attitude...and just think about it another day too!
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A Picnic In February?!...ONLY In The South!

While other parts of the country are suffering from freezing temperatures and snow, we here in the south are enjoying spring like conditions; our temperatures have been in the 70's this week.  It is difficult to believe that merely a week ago, we had ice everywhere and fireplaces blazing.  Oh well...they say the south is the BEST place to live because the weather changes so much here.  No matter, Valentine's Day turned out to be the most PERFECT day for a picnic!

Generally, Robby and I stay in and eat and watch movies for Valentine's Day; avoid the crowds.  However, this year I thought it might be nice to go out to dinner.  I called one of our very few nice restaurants in town the Monday prior to Valentine's Day, only to find that they were booked solid.  Oh well, I guess we would try again next year.  THAT'S when Robby had the most wonderful idea.  We were heading to Hattisburg to see David and Codi and then on to New Orleans to see Ryan..."Why don't we just stay in New Orleans for Valentine's Day?", Robby suggested.  Now THAT sounded GREAT to me.  We made our hotel reservation for an extra night and also made a reservation at the The Red Fish Grill for dinner.  Ryan had a test that day, so we knew he would be ready for a break and invited him to join us.  YES!  I invited one of our kids to our Valentine's Day dinner...I have absolutely NO problem with that.  But earlier in the day, we actually went out to another area of New Orleans where we rarely have time to explore...and THAT is where the idea of a picnic was born!

We drove through the Garden District on our way to Magazine Street.  We had never been there to shop.  When we visit New Orleans, we usually just stay around the French Quarters.  This would be a nice change.  The thing we were really looking for, was children's clothing boutiques.  I KNOW!!!  Who would have thought that Robby would EVER be searching for children's boutiques?!  Well, I suppose becoming a grandparent does that to you.  We found Magazine Street to be filled with not only wonderful little boutiques, but also quaint little bistros...and everyone, apparently enjoying the fabulous spring like weather , seemed to be eating lunch outdoors.  That's when we spotted the Whole Foods Market.  I was excited upon seeing this market, because I have always wanted to go into one.  WOW!  I must say, WHAT A GREAT STORE!  If we had one in our town, I would definitely be shopping there.  Anyway, Robby said, "Hey, since it is so beautiful outside, how about us getting some food and wine here and head over to the park for a picnic?"  OH, how I LOVE picnics!  YES, YES, YES...That was the best suggestion I had heard in a long time.  So, we went over to the prepared food section and finally made a decision on our foods; we chose some pasta and risotto cakes and squash fritters, Robby had some sort of chicken and we picked out a nice white wine from Portugal.

We drove over to the park, grabbed our picnic lunch and found a table underneath the shady branches of the huge oak trees.  The weather was perfect, the quietness of the area peaceful and I wished for a picnic EVERY day.  After we finished eating, we walked through the park and over to a bench by the water's edge, where there were literally hundreds of ducks swimming around.  Robby said, "Ahhh...spring is here."  And, although, I was really enjoying this wonderful spring like day, I tended to disagree.  It WAS only February and STILL officially winter.  Even if that old groundhog said we would only have 6 weeks of winter left, I would go by what my grandma and mama always said..."There will be another cold snap before Easter."  And Easter is not until late April this year.  Oh well, I will take these beautiful, warm days as they come and enjoy every minute of them.  A picnic in February?!...What a wonderful Valentine's Day gift for those of us in the south!
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I'm A Beauty Pageant Diva...NOT!!!

Have you ever watched that television show "Toddlers and Tiaras"?  I had seen it listed on the viewing menu many times but had never stopped to take a look...until the other day.  Now THAT show is scary!  Wow, what prissy little divas...and their mothers; it's a little much to take.  I can remember when Caitlin used to BEG me to be in a pageant.  It, like many other things she endeavored, was not quite as "Fun" or "Glamorous" as she thought.

I was never really one of those moms who felt compelled to enter my children in all sorts of contests.  Beauty pageants, in my opinion, are just that.  Oh, when a girl becomes high school or college age and can decide for themselves  that it is something they want to do, I suppose it is alright...to each his own.  However, if one has never been in a pageant at that age and just decides to "jump" into the pageant world...BEWARE!  For THAT is exactly what we did.

Caitlin was a freshman in high school and she had begged for quite a while to be in a pageant.  When an advertisement for one being held in New Orleans came in the mail, I relented.  From all of my research and everything I read, it should be a "Stress-Free pageant that only built a girl's self-esteem; a really positive experience for any girl."  HMPH!!!  Well, just let me tell you this (for future reference...); all of those words previously mentioned?  Should NOT be used in the same sentence as the word pageant!

Since I bought into all of the "No pressure" associated with the pageant, I decided to not enter all of the other categories (which each cost an additional fee...); just the main contest.  She would need a formal (check...already had that) and no suit was required, she could just wear a nice skirt and top (check...had that too).  The brochure stated that the interview part would be "very low-key, with no serious questions being posed to the contestants".  Although I was not crazy about participating in a pageant per se, this appeared to be the "Perfect" one for us.  I quickly discovered that the entire brochure was merely a product of  good marketing.

Upon arriving at our hotel (also the venue of the pageant), we noticed girls walking around with banners across their chests and crowns upon their heads...in regular street clothes.  How wonderful...everyone must be a winner; what a positive experience this was going to be.  We got our agenda, took our luggage to our room and got ready for the first practice.  THAT is when my eyes were opened and for the first time I could see what was in store for us that weekend.  The brochure had indicated that each girl would be required to introduce themselves, but it was no big deal.  They had to state their name, where they were from and some sort of goal they had.  Hmmm...that seemed easy enough and we rehearsed it a few times.  As we sat in the auditorium awaiting our turn, I can only explain it as being flabbergasted at what I witnessed.  Most of these girls were pros!  Lifetime pageant girls.  We were definitely out of our league here.  They had this special little swagger as they pranced across the stage, announced their name with a flourish, and goal?  HA!  It was more like a rendition of their life plan...and then as they nodded their head and winked at the audience, they once again said, "I AM, Miss Blah, Blah, Blah, Number Whatever".  Can I tell you that I was in shock?  Caitlin was too and we quickly picked up on a few things to get us through the practice session and made it back to our room.  The evening gown competition was that evening.  I have to say that Caitlin's dress was one of the prettiest ones there.  And that is not only my opinion, because several people told me that afterwards.  Those pageant moms were staking out the competition.  I noticed that many of them had little pads of paper in their hands and as each contestant took the stage, they were taking notes.  I asked someone what they were doing and they told me that they were making notes on the girls who were competing against their daughters...REALLY?!  That was the craziest thing I had ever heard of.  OK, I'll admit that I had seen coaches and dads do that at baseball games, but it made a little more sense there.  We made it through Day One.  The next day would be Interview Day.  Caitlin and I both were a little nervous about that.

That infamous brochure and other material we subsequently got concerning the pageant said that the interview part of the competition would be quite informal and there would not be any questions asked that should be difficult to answer.  In retrospect, I would like to say..."DEFINE DIFFICULT".  Let's just say that Caitlin took the questions all quite literally.  The room was set up with judges at tables and each contestant moved from judge to judge after a timer went off.  I was not in there; just told this.  These are a sampling of the questions posed and answers given by Caitlin:  What is you favorite quote?  "Quote?!  Now they told me we weren't going to be asked any questions concerning school!  Do you think I could have another question?"  What do you see when you look in the mirror?  "Well, my reflection, of course!"  Who do you think will most likely win this competition and why?  "Mary Johnson...because she is such a nice person." Just FYI...there was NO Mary Johnson in the competition it was merely a name she made up and flipped through the program in hopes of finding someone by that name so they would find her out.  Who is your favorite president and why?  Mind going blank, she could only think of one...George Washington.  Looking puzzled, the judge asked, why?  "Well, he WAS the Father of our Country!"  As she made her way through the judging panel, she became more and more agitated and upset.  This was not the "Fun Pageant" she thought it would be; it was turning out to be quite stressful.  She made her way to a judge's table who was a former queen, where she asked Caitlin what her favorite make-up item was...one she just couldn't do without.  Caitlin said, "Mascara".  "Really?", the former queen asked.  "Mascara is REALLY what you can't do without?  How can that be?  Mascara?  Mine is lipstick."  Caitlin then abruptly
 said, "You asked ME what beauty item I couldn't go without and IT IS MASCARA!!!"  Finally making it to an older judges table, she was in tears.  He simply looked at her and said, "I can tell you are upset, so I'm just going to let you sit here."  When she exited the room, she tearfully came straight to me and said, "I'm done!  I'm ready to go home now."  I quickly informed her that we were almost through and she was going to see this thing through to the end.  Just the final production that evening and THEN she was done.

That afternoon, the contestants practiced their opening choreographed dance number, where one of the contestants actually tapped Caitlin on the shoulder and told her, "If you really want to make me happy, you will change places with me" (Caitlin was on the front row).  Caitlin simply turned around and said, "I don't really care about making you happy...I'm staying right where I am!"  Needless to say, she would also NOT be a candidate for "Miss Congeniality".  She completed the contest, did not win a thing...no, I will take that back.  She may NOT have gained a crown or trophy, but she certainly DID gain some knowledge of what the pageant world is like.  This would not be the first or last thing that Caitlin got involved in over the years that made one scratch their head and mumble the words..."Be careful what you wish for, because things are not always what they seem!"
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Elle In Washington, D.C. Up-Date...You're Going WHERE, To Do WHAT?!

Whenever Catilin was deciding on the internship she should apply to in Washington, D.C., I was concerned about who she would work for.  Although she was offered internships with a couple of senators, I felt that those internships would be "too political" for her to accept.  Little did I know that EVERYTHING IN WASHINGTON, D.C. IS "POLITICAL"!

After her dinner the week before and the viewing of The State of the Union Address, Caitlin began her internship.  And THAT is when she informed me that they expected her to go to Capitol Hill to represent their company...WHAT?!  OH MY GOSH...This was VERY disturbing on MANY different levels.  I inquired as to WHAT issues she would be representing them on and if she would actually have to speak.  She giggled nonchalantly as she answered, "I don't know...the CEO just told me that he would tell me what to do when I got there."  Now THAT concerned me even more...Elle going to Capitol Hill, representing her company on some issue that she knew absolutely nothing about.  While she was taking this lightly (youth speaking...), I was having a bit of a stress attack (experience speaking...).  OK, I decided that she would most likely survive it (hopefully...) and I needed to take the advice of one of my fitness instructors..."Head to toe...just let it go".  I was doing pretty good the next day...until I got the text message from her:  "My company is having me research the Health Care Reform Bill and THAT is the issue they want me to represent the company on."  Can I just say, HOLY CRAP!!!  This was more than VERY disturbing on MANY different levels...let me explain.

Many people from all walks of life have their personal opinions regarding the national Health Care Reform Bill, and everyone is entitled to that  opinion.  Our family is not for it and here are just a few of the reasons why:  We are small business owners, who also have interests in a couple of health care facilities, Justin has a master's degree in Health and Hospital Administration, David is a third year medical school student and Ryan is a first year dental school student...Oh, and Caitlin is also dating a guy who is in medical school as well.  So, do you NOW see the little conflict of interest going on here?  It appeared that our little darling was stuck right between the proverbial  "rock and a hard place".  How does one break this news to the rest of the family?  First, I told Robby, who actually took the news better than I thought he would.  His advice was to "Do your job; politicians and lobbyist do things they don't believe in every day."  WOW!  I started to put my hand on his head to see if he had a fever; this was definitely NOT the reaction I had expected...THAT came from Ryan.  Besides referring to her as a "traitor", he indicated that he "Hoped she not only went to Capitol Hill,but that they put her on television, wearing a little pink suit and allowed her to open her mouth, so that all the country could see how ridiculous the Health Care Reform Bill really was...having Elle speak about it and all".  I felt that was a little harsh and told him so, but you know siblings...they don't hold anything back.  So, Elle continued to research the Bill, while quite frequently texting me questions concerning the issue.  I'm not going to lie...this had me a little (OK...a LOT) worried.

A couple of days later, Caitlin called to tell me that her supervisor asked how she liked researching the Health Care Reform Bill.  She replied, "Well, to be honest with you, I'm not really all that crazy about public policy."  "GREAT!", her supervisor replied.  She explained that most interns really loved researching public policy issues, but she had the "Perfect" job for her instead.  She would now be their Events Coordinator, working on planning their annual convention, writing articles for their publications and creating their yearly calendar.  Now, THAT sounded more like a job for Elle!  She was SO EXCITED ( and I was SO relieved...) and loves what she is doing now.  I asked if that meant that she would now not be required to go to Capitol Hill...She wasn't sure, but certainly hoped not!  However, keep your eye out while viewing the national news channels for a cute little blonde...in a hot pink outfit...who states, "What IS public policy anyway?!"
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Remembering A Family Pet..."Good-Bye, Charley"

I got the call early Sunday morning.  It was Justin and he had called to tell me that his doxie, Charley had died during the night.  "WHAT?!", I said totally in shock.  Charley was only 7 years old; I couldn't imagine what had happened to her.  The cause of death...apparently she ingested something poisonous and Justin found her dead the next morning.  My heart sank; Charley was loved by everyone in the family and was also my inspiration for getting the 2 doxies I presently own.  I quickly sent out text messages to all of the other kids.  Charley was a member of our family.

Justin got Charley whenever he was in college.  She actually belonged to him and a former girlfriend.  When they broke up, she didn't want to keep Charley and we were happy for Justin to have her.  Charley was that lovable, quirky little dog, who made sounds like she was actually trying to talk to you.  And if you started petting her, you better be prepared to continue, because as soon as your hand stilled, she "spoke" to you in her special doggie language to insist you continue.  Rolling herself up in her blanket was where you could find her most of the time.  However, she did enjoy chewing on that blanket as well.  Once, she chewed a hole right through it, big enough to some how get her entire body stuck in that hole.  Charley was always up to something.  A social being (as most doxies are), all she wanted to do was to find a place to lay in your lap.  When Parker Ann came home from the hospital, she was curious about this new little creature, but never tried to hurt her.  As a matter of fact, just recently, she would wander close enough to Parker, so that the baby could pull on her ears.

I took the news of her death especially hard, not only because I knew how much she meant to Justin, but because I was also very attached to her.  During Justin's engagement party in Arkansas, David and Ryan dog sat Charley for him.  I can remember David calling to tell me that something had happened to Charley and she wouldn't get up and walk and cried out in pain every time someone attempted to touch her.  I was as concerned about her as David was and insisted she be seen by my veterinarian.  David got up early the next morning and drove for 2 hours to bring her to me and then drove all the way back to school in Texas for his morning classes.  When I took her to see my vet, he found that she had a slipped disc.  Dachshunds are born with a deteriorating spine and this was a problem that many suffered from.  He told me that he could treat her aggressively and if she responded within a couple of days, we would know that it was working and she would be able to walk again; if not, she would have to be put to sleep.  I decided right then and there, that she was going to make it.  I went to the vet's office every day and took her a treat and loved on her and talked to her.  Robby told me not to do that.  He said that if we did have to put her to sleep, it would be extremely rough on me; I didn't care...I continued my visits.  After a couple of days, I walked in and found her on her feet!  Wobbly, but standing.  She had to stay for about a week to continue her treatment and then I brought her home with me.  Justin and Sarah lived 2 hours away and I told them that I would be keeping her until I felt she was doing well enough to go back home with them.  During that time, I babied her and made sure she didn't jump up on the furniture, which would aggravate her injury.  Soon, she was actually running around and play with Sissy (my doxie).  The longer I kept her, the less I wanted to give her back to Justin.  But, I could see how much he loved her and eventually allowed her to go back home with them.

For almost her whole life, Charley lived in apartments.  However, just a few months ago, Justin, Sarah and Parker moved into their first house.  There was so much room to run around inside, I'm sure she didn't know what to do.  She had a yard to explore too.  The fence was not up yet and although she never wandered off, Justin and Sarah never let her stay out long by herself.  She would have loved that big, new fenced in back yard, for her other favorite pastime was to lay outside and sun herself.  We are not sure what she got into, but apparently at some point on Saturday, she ate something out there that was poisonous.  She was sick most of the day on Saturday, but had begun to drink her water again by that night and appeared to be feeling better.  She died in the middle of the night and Justin found her that next morning.

We bring these precious little animals into our homes and lives and they become one of us...part of our familis.  I cannot imagine how difficult it was for Justin the first time he had to walk into the house and not hear Charley's familiar voice or her little nails clicking on the floor as she followed him to his recliner.  There will be a noticeable silence without her around and we will all miss her very much.  Charley...you were a sweet dog, a good pet and we all loved you dearly;  Good-Bye... 
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We Southerners Can Only Tolerate Snow When The SAINTS Are In The Super Bowl!

Last year we knew our New Orleans Saints were going to the Super Bowl.  That is because it NEVER snows in our little southern town.  Last year it snowed here three times!  Not ice, but REAL snow.  That is also why, although I was suffering from salmonella food poisoning, I still got up out of bed and hosted a Super Bowl party for our Saints.  Robby thought we should probably cancel it, but I insisted we not do that; who knew if we would EVER be in the Super Bowl again.  And I am so happy that the party did go off as planned, because obviously, our dear Saints were suffering from a "Super Bowl Hangover" this year...and THAT explains it all.

When I heard the weather forecast for this week, I dreaded it.  An ice storm was coming our way.  Notice I did NOT say snow, but ice.  And, although ice creates the  lovely appearance of a winter wonderland, it causes many problems for us here in the south.  First, most places of business immediately close their doors and the schools close theirs as well, which is actually a pretty good idea, since southerners are ill-equipped to drive in that white slippery stuff.  You can't play in ice like you can in the snow, so basically all you can do is just stay inside and attempt to keep warm.  Which brings me to the next problem that generally occurs with ice storms...the ice accumulates on the power lines and causes the electricity to go out.  And THAT is exactly what I was afraid of happening this week.

When I awoke this particular morning, there was ice hanging everywhere.  I knew I would not be able to get out, but since I had electricity, I wasn't too concerned about that; there was plenty I could catch up on by being stuck at home all day...it wouldn't be too bad.  I spoke to my mother and sister,who were both without electricity; boy was I glad I still had mine.  And right in mid sentence while talking to my sister on the telephone, it happened...my electricity went out too!  Ugh...hopefully it was just one of those flickerings and it would return quickly.  It was overcast outside, which made it sort of dark inside the house.  I quickly went over and turned my fireplace on so it wouldn't get cold inside and then picked up my cell phone to call Robby.  We have a generator attached to our house (have had it ever since Katrina) and I just needed to call him and get instructions on how to start it up.  As I looked at my phone, I noticed that I didn't have any service...GREAT!  I had just convinced Robby to change cell phone providers because we didn't have adequate service and now we had NO service with the new one.  The house phone didn't work either since it was run off of electricity .  I knew what I would do.  I would jump in my car and carefully drive to the end of the road and see if I could get some phone service there.  As I walked out, I realized that the garage door was closed...and it is also electric...well, CRAP!  I was stuck at home with no electricity and no phones...and no way to leave.  What could I do?

Thankfully, my laptop was fully charged, so I decided to begin watching Season 2 of "Glee"...and I did so for about 4 hours.  During that time, I did not get my electricity back or any cell phone service.  Just me and the doxies sat cuddled up in a chair with the fire burning and my DVD playing.  And finally Robby returned home from work.  Entering the darkened house, he appeared anxious and a bit worried because he had not been able to reach me all day and couldn't imagine what had happened to me.  It apparently never even occurred to him that I had been without without electricity all day.  He called Justin to check on the status of our house on the river and when we found out the electricity was on there, we quickly loaded up the dogs and headed north.  Ahhh...we enjoyed a nice evening with lights...and heat...and television.  And as I snuggled down into my nice warm bed that night, little did I know that the electricity would be going out there...at 2 a.m.!  When I awoke at 8, it was FREEZING in the house...and I was so miserable that I couldn't bear the thought of getting out of bed and said so to Robby.  He asked if we were just going to lay there all day like the grandparents on the "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" movie.  "Well, I suppose so, because it's WAY TOO COLD to get get out of this bed", I said.  And besides...the thought of having no coffee first thing in the morning was almost as daunting as the prospect of the cold house.  He eventually got up while I continued to lay there and dread having to leave my warm bed.  When I finally got up, Robby had called our other house and found out that the electricity was back on there...it only took me about 2 minutes to grab my bags and doxies and head back to town.  Justin commented to his dad that he had never seen me get ready to leave that quickly.  Robby said it was because I was angry about the electricity being out.  Justin thought for a moment and said, "Well, maybe we should make her mad every time we get ready to go somewhere and then we will always be on time."  Hmph... Whatever! This weather was ridiculous!  The south was just not made to handle snow and ice!
Yes, we here in Louisiana were miserable this weekend not only because of the messy and inconvenient ice storm, but also because our dear Saints were not in the Super Bowl this year.  Partying, donned in our black and gold, we barely even noticed the three snows we got last year; it was fun and exciting. Perhaps we will have recovered from that "Super Bowl Hangover" by next season and be ready for another year...when the "Saints Go Marching Back In" to the Super Bowl!
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My Adventures With Snow Skiing...And The Grumpy Old Fart!

It is no secret to those who know me well, that I absolutely HATE cold weather!  My family, however, all love to snow ski.  The kids learned how to ski and they and Robby really enjoy it.  Perhaps that is the key to enjoying the sport; you must learn how to do it when you are very young. I have however, accumulated a few snow skiing adventures over the years...back when I gave in and decided to "give it a try".

It has always been my motto to NEVER do anything that you truly are afraid of or don't like to do...and above  all, don't allow someone to push you into doing something you are not comfortable with.  Then, why, I have to ask myself did I ever think I could be made into a snow skier?!  First, let's just consider the mere fact that I hated P.E. in school and have never played team sports in my life.  Oh, I know that I work out constantly now, but that is totally different from being able to participate in a sport.  Second, I really do not like the cold weather.  Of course I think the snow is pretty, but after you get past that fact, there isn't much I like.  For starters, you must bundle up when just wandering outside.  And by bundling up, I mean you have to put on thermal underwear, thick socks, sweaters, insulated pants, boots, coats, hats, scarves and gloves...and THEN your face is still freezing!  That is unless you opt to wear one of those unfortunate looking hats that also covers your face.  So...after factoring all of that in, it still does not cover another VERY important reason I do not like to snow ski...I AM DEATHLY AFRAID OF HEIGHTS!  Yea, and that, in and of itself, pretty much makes snow skiing for me miserable, if not impossible.  Now that you understand more clearly my dislike of the sport, I will tell you that I DID try it a few times...just to appease my family.

The first time I went snow skiing, the children were all young.  They caught onto the sport quite quickly; obviously more so than I.  Robby, who had been skiing for years (this snow skiing business is all HIS fault...), thought it best if I enroll in "Ski School"...hmph!  One might think that this is the very thing to do and for most people, I suppose it is; for me?...not so much.  Robby deposited all of the kids in their class, me in mine and then headed out to the slopes with his friends.  When he returned a while later, the kids were already able to ski like pros.  Upon arriving at my lesson, he found a different story.

I sort of think a lesson is "all about the teacher"...and unfortunately for me, mine was a "grumpy old fart"!  As I looked around at other women and ski groups, I noticed that they all had these cute, young, Aussie's, who dashed to their sides whenever they slipped down.  Why couldn't I have had one of those? Did they cost more?  They sure looked worth it if they did.  Needless to say, I ended up with the polar opposite.  My instructor was not only old in years (as evidenced by his "leather dog appearance") but had obviously been teaching skiing lessons for decades as well; probably thrown on a pair of skis to get himself to nursery school.  Anyway, he was not very tolerant of slow learners.  And while I may be a quick learner at many things...snow skiing is NOT one of them.  For one thing, I didn't even know the jargon used while talking about equipment, form or style; FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE...I THOUGHT THIS CLASS WAS FOR BEGINNERS!  Would you fold your arms, scowl and huff at a kindergartner on his first day of school if he had trouble reading?!  Well, MY "old" instructor did just that.  With every slip and fall I made, I could see the disdain and utter disgust on his face at having to "attempt" to teach me to ski.  And THAT settled it for me.  I would now REALLY try to get under his skin.  This became a game for me...it was just like being back in high school.  He had NO IDEA how hard he was going to work to earn his money that day!

After becoming convinced that "most" of the class has mastered the important aspects of snow skiing, our "grumpy old fart" told us it was time to get on a ski lift, go to the top of the mountain and then all ski back down...WHAT?!  HOLY CRAP!!!  There was NO WAY I was going up the side of a mountain, in an open, two-seated swing, suspended from a cable...HOW ABSURD!  Well, "grumpy old fart" told us we HAD to go (I now wonder...or what?  What would he do to us?  Not take the money we were paying him?) and then he asked a question that I am sure he wished he had never asked, "Is there anybody who is really afraid of heights?  If so, I will ride the lift up with them."  Perhaps he didn't think anyone would comment or maybe it was just a rhetorical question; something he was "required" to ask.  Glancing around, I saw that no one was going to say anything and I decided that although I did not like this "grumpy old fart", I wasn't going to let him get by that easily...I thought, "Time to earn your pay, Bucko!"  I quickly raised my hand and said, "Me!  I'm really afraid of heights."  I could see his whole physical demeanor stiffen, with resignation as he realized that now he was STUCK WITH ME for a ride up the mountain!  This thing was about to turn my way quickly.

As we neared the the top of the mountain, my "grumpy old fart" told me HOW to quickly jump off the lift, so I didn't cause them to have to stop it.  Just sit on the edge of the seat and pop off, while skiing away from the lift...RIGHT!  He popped off while I fell...flat on my back, with my skis sticking straight up in the air.  You guessed it...they had to stop the lift; that was "strike one"!  He gathered us all together, told us to NOT put the straps connected to our poles around our wrists and start down the mountain.  After continuing to fall, losing my poles and having to crawl back up to get them numerous times, he finally allowed only me to hook them around my wrists; that was "strike two"!  Everyone else in my class appeared to be catching on to this skiing business nicely.  However, I remained on my butt more than on my skis,which was quite alright with me...I could at least control where I headed from that position.  As my instructor became increasingly frustrated at having little success with teaching me how to ski, "strike three" was achieved.  While laying in the snow, completed exhausted by the task of making it down that mountain, he asked, "Do you even have compulsory physical education where you live?"  Well...THAT DID IT!  I, in turn replied, "And I am paying for this abuse?!"  Everyone else had made it down the mountain, but it was the instructor's job to stay with the last person until they finally made it too. As the bottom of the mountain came into view and the end of my lesson was in sight, I could see Robby in the distance...with the video camera.  He informed me that he had been filming me and my instructor "fighting our way down the mountain".  I hope he enjoyed it...because, I SURE DIDN'T!

I tried skiing another couple of times and didn't enjoy it any more than I did the first time.  I eventually came to my senses when I turned 40 and decided that I would NEVER put this body on skis again; it just seemed unnatural (and dangerous) to me to polish two pieces of board, stick them to your feet and slide down a mountain at high speeds.  And true to my word, I never have.  I like the beach.  I don't like going above sea level...and it doesn't like me.  So, all you skiers can have at it.  As for me...give me a tropical island any day!
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Elle In Washington, D.C. Up-Date: "THEY'RE Going To Listen To SOME SPEECH The President's Giving...I'M Just Going For The Hot Wings!"

I know that many of you who do not personally know Caitlin, believe that I am exaggerating when I call her Elle (from the movie, "Legally Blonde").  You are thinking, there could not possibly be an actual person out there who is like that.  For those of us who DO know her...we beg to differ.

Finally settling into her new semester in Washington, D.C., Caitlin has already learned a lot about not only the city, but our nation's capitol and people in general.  The first weekend found her on a scavenger hunt with classmates to the different quadrants of the city.  Some of those area were very safe while others quite frightening for her.  I must admit that I want to know what is going on there, while also not knowing.  Does that make any sense?  It is scary to know that my daughter had to walk over 20 blocks...in the dark...from a bad neighborhood where she had been tutoring disadvantaged kids in a building where she had to be locked in.  OK, now...I definitely freaked out a little bit about that and she cried that evening.  When Rapunzel jumped out of that castle tower, I knew she was entering the "real world", but WOW!  After surviving that day (she and I both), she began classes.  That included meeting her mentor and the individuals from her internship.  I'm happy to report that she liked all of those folks and seemed to be getting adjusted...just in time for the State of the Union Address.

I got a text message from her that evening stating that she and several of her classmates would be heading downtown for dinner...and to watch "some speech" the president was giving on television that evening.  I shared this with Robby who suggested I text her back and tell her it was called The State of the Union Address.  I did that along with another suggestion of my own...don't make too many comments; just listen.  She said, "Oh, don't worry, I told them I was only going for the hot wings!"  And so that was the plan...until someone goaded her into offering her opinion.  It seems that, although it was a mixed group of liberal and conservative students, the liberals were the most vocal.  They offered that perhaps the reason she was not an Obama fan was due to the fact that her parents made too much money.  Hmmm...Let's see, first I had to ask myself, "What would be considered 'too much money'...and second, I had to remind myself that these were merely KIDS discussing this issue; WHAT THE HECK DID THEY EVEN KNOW ABOUT WORKING, TAXES OR THE "REAL WORLD" FOR THAT MATTER?!  I was just telling myself to calm down when another text message went off.  I hurriedly opened it and had to laugh at what it said, "I couldn't keep my mouth shut any longer, Mom; I told them that my dad had worked his butt off for every penny he had ever earned!"  Oh well...the best laid plans had gone awry.  I suppose this is why the Democrats and Republicans don't sit on the same sides of the room in Congress!  The evening went on and the President's speech continued.  and at one point someone told Caitlin to "shut up and listen to what he was saying"...wrong thing to tell a spunky southern girl when she's eating her hot wings.  She promptly told them, "YOU can shove it...because I WANT SOME RANCH DRESSING FOR MY HOT WINGS!" 

At the end of the evening, she told me that she guessed she was going to have to do a little research.  "Research on what?", I asked.  "Who all those people were at the speech", she replied.  "All my classmates recognized their names and faces and I didn't know who they all were."  OH MY GOSH!  I could just see her googling the members of the House and Congress, printing their names and pictures out and making flash cards out them (seriously...).  Presently, she informed me that she loaded a news network and newspaper icon on her i-phone; that's a start!  I'm not sure how she will survive Washington, D.C. or how it will survive her.  But one thing is for certain...neither will be the same after Ellle leaves the city!
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