Monday, July 22, 2013

Caribbean Craziness

Please read the first part of this vacation saga to catch up on what has brought us to this point, Caribbean Cluster...

Day Two: Thursday

We got up around 8:00 - the Funjet rep called shortly after and said that we could make the change. I was so happy! We were glad that it worked out. Even the additional fee couldn't discourage me. I packed up our bathroom, our clothes and we were ready to leave in ten minutes. No lie.We were on the third floor with five bags/ suitcases and the elevator was out of order. Seriously...par for this resort. Luckily we found one that was working. We ate breakfast, paced from the lobby to the rep and finally got the final go ahead to get a taxi and head to our familiar paradise - the Iberostar Quetzal. (This is where we stayed last year with Jason and Megan, this is what I knew that staying in Playa Del Carmen could be like.)

We arrived at this resort a few hours before check-in time. That didn't matter. We had a place to leave our luggage and we hit the path to the dive shop. This was my main concern, Joey needed to get busy diving. Scuba diving has become a passion of his and one of the things he most looks forward to on these trips (spending time with me tops his list but this is second). I wanted him to have the next available opportunity to do this. He wanted to get his next level of certification - Advanced - and so it began. He was able to go out on a dive shortly after we visited the shop. I took care of getting us into our room when it became available. I wasn't even going to complain that we were in the farthest building from everything (except the lobby), or that there was construction going on right outside our balcony or that we had to walk three flights of stairs to our room. It was all about perspective. We had a room at an amazing resort with a beautiful beach, enough said. And, we knew our way around. We were back in our 'comfort zone'. The rest of the day was spent at the beach or in the buffets. After dinner, we went to the Iberogrammy nightly show - enjoying performance by 'Shakira, The Blues Brothers, Lady Gaga, Michael Jackson and all the singers in USA for Africa'. And then we decided to call it a day.

Day Three: Friday

Joey dove at 8:30 and 10:30, thank goodness that these dives only take him away from me for about an hour. I enjoyed my quiet time on the beach with my book and then we had lunch together, spent some time feeding the fish in the ocean and taking in the beauty of the crystal clear, turquoise sea. We rested in our lounge chairs until the sun became too much - and after being in it for six hours - we both needed a nap in the AC. This was a good decision due to some sunburning going on. After some rest and while Joey was studying - yes, he seriously had to read, study and answer review questions - I got a wild hair and decided to ask if we could change rooms. It was worth a shot to see if they had a better location with a better view available. Great news! We got to move to a room close to the middle of the resort - the pool was nearby, the dive shop was one building down and it was on the bottom floor. Yay! I packed in a hurry, once again, to make a move. Third night, third room - it was all good :) We settled in our new room - I had become a master packer/ unpacker. Joey went on his night dive from 7:00-9:00. I read on the beach, ate dinner and waited on him to get back. Selfishly, I was thankful that he only signed up for one night dive.He enjoyed this dive but after three dives in one day, he was dragging a little bit. I went back to have dinner with him - this time I ate fruit and cookies. We started watching the nightly show but it wasn't entertaining us enough to stay up for it. We headed back to the room for a good night's sleep.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Caribbean Cluster

Caribbean Chaos Cluster

Mexico vacation. 4th year in a row. Booked six months in advance, yet thought about before the previous trip ended.

It's a given, Joey and I take a relaxing trip to the beach every summer. This year, he really wanted to try somewhere new - I researched Jamaica, Belize, Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica - all seemed expensive and just didn't grab me with the appeal that I needed to try somewhere new. I tend to be a creature of habit, go with familiarity and know exactly what to expect. I don't like surprises. So, we ended up booking our third trip to Playa Del Carmen.

It was a long awaited trip for both of us. He had been extremely busy working and I had been extremely busy missing him on those 15-16 hour work days. We enjoy our time away together- no work, no phone service, no problems. Or so we thought...

The day before had finally arrived. I could pack everything that I had planned on packing (it took a lot of willpower not to pack a week in advance). Pack, weigh the luggage, redistribute to stay under 50 pounds and weigh again. Packed and ready. The goal time to head to our DFW hotel would be 3:00 to avoid a lot of traffic. Actual time of departure - 7:00. We avoided all the traffic. I refer to a four hour delay as "Joey time". Since our flight was leaving early on Wednesday we thought it would be nice to enjoy a free hotel stay and transport to and from the airport. This way we also got a little more sleep and were guaranteed to be there on time.

We left the house both a tad bit grouchy - I was starving and he wanted a haircut. We stopped at two Walmarts, for said haircut, neither worked out. Two more Great Clips later, he comes out with less hair than before ... and happier. I was still hungry. Hungrier. I was craving Cheddar's baked potato soup, there were none around us. The best we could do was IHOP. I was happier. We settled in at the La Quinta for the night.

Being the constant prankster that he is, my alarm went off at 3AM - an hour before I had it set for. If I hadn't been so tired (and confused), I might have thrown my phone at him. The next hour was spent restlessly waiting for the REAL alarm to wake us up.

Thankfully, check-in went smoothly, except when security pulled me aside for a bag check because SOMEBODY put his coke from the vending machine in my carry-on and forgot about it. He found this funny. In the boarding area, we set our phones for international texting and played Candy Crush. Upon boarding, we were looking forward to our pre-chosen/ pre-paid seats. Who buys seats on the wing? Apparently we do! $15 down the drain. I don't like my flying view to be obstructed ... so much for that. Plane ride was fine, security and customs went off without a hitch, we were on our way to the transfer van. Joey chose to sit in the front row. Unattended children (well almost - their mom was in the back somewhere) chose to sit behind us. For thirty minutes they fought and kicked our seats. Six other empty seats and the loud woman wearing fuzzy socks with sandals and drinking beer chose to sit right next to Joey. It was a long 45 minutes to our resort.

Upon arrival at our resort, Gran Porto Real, we notice that we are smack in the middle of downtown. (More about that in a bit). We got all checked in and found our ocean view suite with "private" balcony. Yes, we could see the ocean ... right across the public beach access road. The balcony was far from private with locals in the streets and a half wall separating the balcony on the other side. We get all settled in, unpacked and organized and go tour the resort. First stop - the beach. Oh. My. Goodness. I wanted to cry in disgust and disappointment. There were sandbags covered in algae all along the shoreline - that was so small - seaweed as far as you could see, rocks, cliffs and maybe three people in the water. Because it was gross. Uh-uh, no way, this could NOT be happening. The pool - I didn't even have a desire to check it out. We found the lunch buffet, spoke with guest services - who told us to walk across the pier and enjoy the prettier beach at their sister resort. And then scheduled a tour of that resort the following day in case we wanted to switch over. Ah, a glimmer of hope for something better. But, after thinking about where we had been before and after seeing the Cozumel ferry drop off  hundreds of passengers right at "our beach", I was DONE. My mind was made up to find a way to get us out of here. As excited as we had been that we had actually gotten away with a six night/ seven day vacation, I refused to spend it here. I know our phone bill will be high because I called Funjet and the travel agent over and over to get this situation resolved. We were scheduled to meet with our Funjet rep at 4:00 (standard procedure) and he was over 30 minutes late because he had a run-in with security. We told him of our desire - a mandatory desire - to change resorts. After finally getting through to his supervisor, the reservation centers had already closed for the day. Just our luck. So, we made the best of our evening since we were stuck here for the night. We got dressed and enjoyed dinner on the beach. It was set up in the sand for a nice dinner. From dinner, we walked up a block for some shopping. We turned down Cuban cigars, silver, and other random sales pitches. We told one guy maybe later and his response - "lies". Yes, we were yelled at. The guy with the monkey got irritated with me because even after he put the monkey on Joey's shoulder, I was not willing to pay $20 for pictures. He decided $10 would be sufficient and took a few pictures for me. The shopping was an adventure, from there we enjoyed cokes and crackers in the lobby and decided to crash out and hope for the best in the morning. And, in my mind, the sooner that I got to sleep, the sooner we would have our answers.

Stay tuned for the rest of the story...

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Go Pirates!

It had been a couple of years since Trey had played football so he was really excited to get to play school ball this year. His 7th grade year started at 6:30am on the first day of school and continues to start that early almost every day. The boys have to be dressed out and on the field by 7:00. The coach's motto - to be early is to be on time, to be on time is late. He does not ever complain about the early mornings and is still functioning until about 9:30 on those nights.

Here are some pictures from a couple of games. He started out on the "A" team, not getting much playing time. He has since been moved to the "B" team as a starter with a lot more playing time. Trey enjoys this opportunity so much more.

Trey makes me proud both on and off the football field. He is full of dedication and loyalty - to his team, to his friends and to his family. He truly has a heart of gold.

Friday, October 5, 2012

you live and you learn

As I was creating my weekend to-do list, I added blogging to that list. And then it hit me that it could be the longest blog entry ever - so much has happened in the past eight weeks. Here we are in October and starting the second six weeks of school. I can't believe it. Seriously. Where has this year gone? With five kiddos, two summer vacations, sports and activities  - it's no wonder that the days and weeks and months have flown past us. And, have we really been back in school for an entire six weeks? Obviously we have, report cards are coming out to prove it.

I'll first blog about Clayson. Boys will be boys. Boys will jump off of roofs. Boys will have broken bones. This boy experienced his second arm injury, his second cast and his second surgery all just before school started.

Clayson is a highly motivated child, especially when it comes to money. He has hopes and dreams of getting a truck and some new guns for hunting. He loves to work with my dad and with his dad.  He had gone to work on a carport with Jared one Monday. I was on the phone trying to find a place that had shorts his size and Clayson beeped in... once, twice and on the third time I knew that I needed to hang up from being on hold because I knew at this point, something was wrong. Clayson tells me that he is on the way to the hospital and that he thinks his wrist is broken. I head out to the hospital, Medical City Children's, in Dallas. In the meantime, I find out how this injury has occured: he chose to jump off of the nine foot roof instead of using the available ladder. In his mind, it's a nine foot roof, he is six foot tall, so it's just a three foot fall... until his size 14 foot catches the guttering and he plunges the entire nine foot and lands on his wrist. You live...and you learn.

After an x-ray and a quick visit with a doctor, we find out that it is broken and surgery may or may not needed. We follow up with an orthopedic surgeon several days later and learn that he has fractured his growth plate, has another vertical break and the only way to fix this is to place pins in his wrist to push and keep the bones in place.

On August 23rd, Clayson had the necessary surgery. He did not seem nervous at all. I had taken care of his one fear, the I.V., and they were going to start this in the operating room after he was able to breathe in some gas. (He comes by his fear of needles naturally. I hate needles and in all my 14 3/4 years of being a mom, I have never seen my kids get a shot or get blood drawn. I can't handle it.) The surgery lasted about an hour and a half, everything went as well as the doctor had hoped. I did not pass out during this recovery visit with him. (After his last surgery I did.) He came around slowly and was able to eat a couple of crackers and drink enough Dr. Pepper to go home and completely recover.

I had to rush home from all of this excitement and prepare for 5th grade 'Meet The Teacher' night. Talk about a whirlwind of a day, I was never so glad for this stressful day to end.

Here are some pictures of his journey through the ER, to surgery, to the pin removal. (Warning: the last pictures are kind of gross...)

At the ER, still able to text...

This is at the surgery center, his brother and sister were there for moral support.
These pictures are all before surgery.

This is after surgery, it took him a while to come to and be able to eat and drink enough to go home. The picture in the bottom corner is the pins. They were kept covered with a cast, thank goodness.
Sorry this is so graphic. This is his final visit in which the pins were removed. Ewwwww.
Clayson was a real trooper. He started high school just four days after surgery. He is thankful to have his cast off so that he can enjoy golf and go hunting. I am thankful that it is off so that he can take normal showers.

Stay tuned for more blogging. Still to come, school stuff and Trey's football pictures.

For now, I am signing off and going to bed. It's Friday night and if I had not taken a short nap earlier, I would have already crashed out.

Have a great weekend :)

Sunday, September 9, 2012

then and now

Three weeks ago I had good intentions of writing my end of summer/back to school blog. Like many other ideas that I come up with, this blog lost it's place on my priority list. There were other priorities like getting my classroom organized and ready, getting Clayson through surgery and making it home in time for meet the teacher night, washing new school clothes and still trying to find shorts to fit the boys, sorting all of the supplies and being first day ready. My rough draft of this blog, (because I always write them first), became tossed aside, covered in Gatorade and forgotten about...until tonight when I wanted to write a newer one.

The original blog started like this...

Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened. (That's always my end of summer motto, it keeps me positive.) I don't really feel like my summer flew by - we enjoyed every day, took some great trips and made a bunch of new memories. We definitely made the most of it and it'll go down in history as one of the best ever.

And then there was the part about it being exciting to start a new school year. The aisles filled with school supplies, a new calendar for my desk, gaining new students and meeting new parents - it's all so much fun to be a part of. I love my job. Along with the start of school comes routines, getting back onto a schedule and, as Texans, we always look forward to cooler weather.

This brings me to the current...

The first two weeks of school have been more than successful. All of the kids seem to be enjoying their new adventures in the classroom - we haven't heard any complaints. Clayson and Matt started high school and have a couple of classes together. So far, we haven't heard any "fish" stories from our freshmen. Trey is in 7th grade. He has to be at school every morning at 6:30 for football practice. He seems to be staying on top of things, maybe middle school was just what he needed to "force" him into having some organizational skills. Kayla is in 6th grade and really likes all of her classes and her teachers. She's had one incident, in which she was bitten by another student. Yikes! Thank goodness the skin was not broken. Ashlyn loves 4th grade and getting to switch classes three times. She still waves at me and hugs me every time that she sees me, which is often, and I love it. I have three awesome groups of 5th graders and know that this is going to be such a fun year. On the school front, things are going great!

On the homefront, things are also going good. We have spent a weekend at the deer lease and a weekend at the Cotton Festival. Joey has been traveling a lot for work so he's usually only home 2-4 days a week. He has been extremely busy, which is good, I just miss him...a lot. This weekend we had a chance to get away for the night so we took advantage. I told him that I needed a "mental health break" and he looked at me like I was crazy... literally. Haha! I guess he has never heard that. I just needed some time away from the house and the constant demands and I wanted to get him away from distractions, too. It was a perfect 21 hours together and I definitely feel like my mental health has been restored :) It's amazing what a little down time can do for the heart and soul.

It's back to reality for week three. Joey is traveling to San Antonio, back to work and school, Trey's first football game and Matt's 15th birthday. Our lives are busy but we are blessed by the things that keep us busy and the special people that we are busy with. Busy is good.

Monday, June 25, 2012

been there, done that

Summer 2012.
We have big getaways planned - a trip to Mexico in July and a bunch vacation to Destin in August. June has kind of been left open to save money for those trips and we had hoped to squeeze in a deep sea fishing trip. This past weekend we were scheduled to play tournament ball but our team did not get put into the bracket. (They may have been a little frightened of our championship Yankee team, we really don't know why they didn't include us). So, because he is better at planning spontaneously, I told Joey that we needed to think of something fun to do with the kids. He did not let me down. He decided that we should take them to float the river.

Friday night we googled places to stay along the river, all were very expensive and most required a two night stay. Instead of making reservations ahead of time, we decided to do that when we got there depending on what we found to do and what time it was when we were ready to settle down. We left the house at 10:09 Saturday morning and headed south. We stopped for gas and we stopped for lunch. Our final stop, five hours later, was at the river. The kids had very different ideas of what "riding down the river in a tube" meant. Kayla thought it was the tubing that you did behind a boat and all Ashlyn said is that she didn't think this is what it would be like (as we started our float).

Joey checked on all the rates and details. My momma instinct was to get a room, mill around and then float on Sunday. Joey's spontaneous reaction was to go ahead and do it today, worry about everything else later. He won. We rented tubes, loaded up in a truck, unloaded and started our three and a half our journey back to our destination. The river was moving slowly; Ashlyn, Kayla and Trey did not stay in their tubes much. They preferred swimming in attempt to speed up the process. Matt and Clayson trudged on ahead and then would stop and wait.Probably three hours into this, I was ready to get out. The bridge that signaled the end was finally in sight but I could not take it any longer. It was cooling off and I wanted out. Apparently, I wasn't the only one - Ashlyn, Kayla and Clayson climbed out and walked the rest of the way with me. We had about a 15 minute walk and then about an hour wait while Joey, Matt and Trey floated their way to the finish. The girls took a tube and rode down a waterfall over and over, Clayson and I had the perfect seats for watching people slip and fall either flat on their back or face plant on this slippery rock five different times. And, yes, we laughed every time. It was so funny.

When it was all said and done, we turned in our tubes and hit the road in search of two things: food and shelter. Our first stop was a La Quinta - they had no vacancies and neither did anything else for that matter. Joey and I had both of our phones going making phone calls from San Marcos to San Antonio and everywhere in between. Nothing. The farther we got down the road, the less entertainment possibilities we found. So, we decided to just head home. Ashlyn was upset about not getting to stay in a hotel, Clayson said he was okay with it, he loved riding in the car. The other three did not have an opinion. Joey said he never dreamed that he would be able to drive back after floating.Since we weren't beat down by the sun and he was able to relax - the driving wasn't so bad. And, by the sounds of things in the back seats - singing, fighting, burping and laughing - the kids were not too tired or worn out either.

We pulled in about 12:45, everyone went straight to bed satisfied with the road trip and their first floating experience. It was a great day together. Ten hours in the car is always good for family bonding...

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


So we have been busy. Real busy. Story of our lives. Despite all of the busyness, we have been able to plan two summer vacations. That gives some incentive to being busy - we have to work hard to pay for the vacations and when we finally get to go on vacation, all of that hard work will pay off. Joey and I are going to Playa with my brother and his wife in July and then we are taking the bunch to Destin in August. That's two very exciting things to look forward to. And, it gives me something to plan, a reason to budget and an excuse for buying new clothes.

Here are our latest happenings:

* The boys (Clayson, Trey, Matt and Joey) have been playing a lot of Yankee baseball. It's been such an exciting season. They have won all (13) games except one and we still have five to play. This seems to be the sport of choice for Clayson and Matt. Trey still wants to give middle school football a try but the other two are saying they don't want to play next year. As bad as I would love to see them play on a high school team, it's their choice to make. Maybe between now and August they will have a change of heart.

* The girls are just busy playing. Kayla is involved in karate and dance. Both girls are involved with friends. There are several girls in our neighborhood so Ashlyn and Kayla are here, there and everywhere when we have them. I am trying to teach Ashlyn the concept of coming in on time by the glow of the street light.

* Our garden is full of big, giant weeds but it is producing tomatoes, squash, radishes, jalapenos, onions and beans. My dad accidentally mowed over the watermelon and cantaloupe vines. Oopsie!

* The flower beds have gone to being a weed bed. I don't mind mowing all day long but I am not a weed puller. That makes me crazy. I'm looking for Round Up because I think the mulch will look better alone than with the grass growing in there. I never promised to be a landscaper/ gardener. Everyone will have clean clothes, clean dishes, dinner and a clean house but there will also be weeds among the flowers.

* Joey went to classes and became a certified open water scuba diver. He has been out of town quite a bit for work.  I have been taking baseball team pictures for local teams. Our schedule has not included much free time lately but we did manage to get away for several hours and take a Sunset Cruise on Lake Ray Hubbard. This settled us both down from being so wound tight. We still cherish our date nights and quality time together.

* We've had shrimp boils, four -wheeling afternoons, a movie and pizza night, we celebrated our moms for Mother's Day, hunted eggs for Easter and enjoyed other random outings. Wherever we are, whatever we do -it's always fun.

With summer on the horizon, we look forward to a lot more fun where this came from.