Wednesday, July 30, 2008

OK, I'll admit it....

....I'm an idealist! This commercial gives me goosebumps!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

RIP, O Fun One

It's been two days since the news broke and I still don't think I can wrap my thoughts (and words) around this tragedy.

Dr. Randy Pausch, author of The Last Lecture, passed away Friday morning. He was only 47 and leaves behind a beautiful wife and three precious children, all under 10. Randy knew his time was coming, but rather than face it with gloom and doom, he spent every living moment, well, uh, living! He accomplished things he always wanted to do, like have a role in the next Star Trek movie and scrimmage with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He presented his Last Lecture to a group of Carnegie Mellon students and staff. It was so popular on You Tube that it was then turned into a book, which is still on the best seller list. His attitude about his illness (pancreatic cancer) can only be described as positively heroic!

What struck me about Randy was his deep love for his family. When he and his wife were interviewed by Diane Sawyer, the one thing they asked the millions of people watching is that no one tell the children about their daddy's illness. He spent as much time with them as he could. He worked out to stay strong enough to play with them. When the book came out, one of the first things he said was that he only cared about the first three copies. (My hope is that he left each child a little note along with the books.) As late as this past May, we say Randy at the Carnegie Mellon commencement, carrying his wife off the stage after giving his speech.

Randy made millions stop and think: "Am I making the most of everyday?" And more importantly, "Am I making the most of everyday with the people I love?" Will I regret not spending more time with my hubby and boys? Yes. Can I make a conscience effort to fix that? YES!

It is my hope that people will take his message to heart. Now, enough blogging. Time to wrestle with the boys!

Until next time.....

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Miracles Before Us...

The dishes have been put away, the living room cleaned up, the toys put in their new homes and thank you's will be written tomorrow. The celebration was one of family and friends gathered to celebrate the remarkable achievement of a remarkable little boy.

Yesterday, my little SRR turned "5"!

Five is a milestone, especially for little SRR. He was not an easy baby, nor is he an easy child. He has his good days and he has his bad days. However, he is a bright little boy with a vivid imagination, great singing voice and a passion for life!

Everyday is a new beginning for SRR. One day he'll be Indiana Jones, the next day a chef, then Hellboy, then a rock star. Some days, he'll be "Manner Man" with perfect behavior, other days he's "Monster Man", ready to take his parents on at every turn. No matter what the day brings, Monster Man or Manner Man, Indiana or Emeril, he faces it with happiness, energy, love and passion. Can I say the same when I crawl out of bed every morning?

When I watch SRR and JOR play (or fight), I can't help but get teary-eyed. Theses miracles given to us were definitely undeserved, but truly adored. These little "creatures" are growing into fine young boys, who will grow into fine young men, who will find Mom and Dad the best nursing home ever! I only hope and pray that they take their zest for life and keep it inside of them forever!

Tonight, putting SRR to bed, I read him On the Day You Were Born. I was trying to hold back tears (unsuccessfully) as I told of his first birthday celebration. His beautiful response, "Mommy, I want my WALL-E." Ahh, miracles.....

Until next time.....

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Day 8: Home, Sweet Home!

Well, we made it! After a rough morning of travel, we are home safe and sound.

I was nervous pulling up to the ranch, as I had heard about rough thunderstorms that cancelled the fireworks Friday. (We live about 2 miles from the fairgrounds.) I was picturing trees and branches down, our usual flood in the front yard, etc. However, the outside looked intact (Whew!)

Inside was another story. I found a small leak in the boys' bathroom. This little drip occurred for the entire week, leaving a stream flowing straight to the non-caulked hole next to the shower. (I knew I should've taken care of the caulking before vacation!). Unfortunately, the leak made it to the kitchen ceiling and the kitchen floor. There are streaks of light brown on the ceiling. This is annoying as we'll have company Friday for SRR's birthday party. I guess my mantra will be "Don't look up!" The plumber is coming Thursday to fix the initial culprit, but more importantly, shed some light on what we need to do with the ceiling! This ought to be interesting....... (If any of you have any ideas, PLEASE share!) Talk about reality slapping you square in the face!

I'm trying not to worry about it, but it's hard! (I learned the fine art of worrying from my dad.) I need to think positive: the leak wasn't bad, it could've been the bathtub, the ceiling could've caved in, it could've caused an electrical issue, etc. We are home, unpacked, relaxed and ready to face the real world again. Life IS good.

Hope this vacation blog was entertaining. I'll be posting sporadically as I try to deal with life as it comes my way. Please contribute thoughts as you see fit.

Until then......

Monday, July 7, 2008

Day 7: The pot of gold.....

We started our last day with a family walk. This did us a lot of good, as we were homebound yesterday. Walking was about the only outdoor activity we could do this morning, as everything was still saturated from yesterday's deluge. We then drove through the valley, exploring and shopping between more thunderstorms and downpours. After a great dinner from Brick Oven Pizza, we went fishing for the last time. (Had to use up those last few worms and the skies were clear.) Half of the family was actually successful!! Our first catch of the evening was accomplished by.....SRR!! Who would've thunk it? MGR followed quickly after, with 3 in a row!! A successful night by our anglers.

The hot tub was our last frivolous event of the day. We then began to pack and clean up.

I think we're about ready to head home....physically and emotionally.

Until next time.....

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Day 6: Raindrops Keep Falling on Our Head....

....but we still made the best of it! Went to a flea market, set us back $3 and about 50 years. Next was the Luray Zoo. Fun little place! We got to pet an armadillo, feed yaks, and goats, and watch a group of capuchin monkeys whose mannerisms looked very familiar! The Bengal tiger was very nervous and paced the entire time we were there. It seems that she gets very agitated around males (I know the feeling...). While MGR and the boys kept their distance, she could still sense them. I feel her pain.
After lunch, we celebrated a huge milestone: JOR lost his first tooth!!!! We were thrilled and scared that the tooth fairy wouldn't bring the right currency, so we visited every store in Stanley til we got to one that could help us. Hooray for China Chef!! The boys celebrated the anticipated visit from the tooth fairy by a jaunt in the hot tub. The day took a nosedive from then on: downpours, thunder, lightening and even a brief power outage rounded out our day. Luckily, MGR brought the almighty Heroclix and the boys proceded to play a few tournaments interdispersed by some movies, snack mix and milkshakes. Mommy got some reading / napping time in, so all is well....
Tomorrow is our last full day here....sniff.....let's hope Mother Nature cooperates!
Until then....................

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Day 5: Much Ado About Nothing....

Today we found ourselves back in Harrisonburg. We hit some farmers' markets, a comic shop (of course) and the Green Valley Book Fair. Enjoyed watching the locals do their routine shopping amongst us tacky tourists! Mennonites vs. Suburbanites......
Weather still pseudo-yucky. Especially now that we have pool passes!
Returned to the cabin for a jaunt in the hot tub and a futile attempt at a campfire. The boys had a great time with their sparklers and smores. Mom and Dad got flustered trying to keep damp wood burning. Pitiful campers!
Relaxing the rest of the is good!
Until tomorrow......

Friday, July 4, 2008

Day 4: The Pursuit of Happiness....

Happy Fourth!! We found ourselves in pursuit of happiness today, as Mother Nature has a warped sense of humor. Rain and thunderstorms sporadically visited the Shenandoah Valley, staying more than departing. It was rather difficult to try and plan anything. (I honestly think that "plan" is a four letter word that makes God giggle!) But we perservered and pursued some happiness.
After taking some pain medicine for back pain, we set out to Harrisonburg. At high noon, the Declaration of Independence was read on the courthouse steps. It was very moving to hear the entire document as I observed a piece of Americana pie. Multiple generations on lawn chairs and blankets, holding flags as they listened intently. Men dressed as militia, firing muskets at the conclusion of the reading. I got teary eyed realizing the state of our nation and how things will hopefully get better. Watching my boys, with their flags and red, white and blue outfits, gave me a glimmer of hope that our nation will be a true United States of America someday...... That topic is for a future post.
We returned to the cabin for an afternoon of thunderstorms. Life was good as we watched an "I Love Lucy" marathon and played Kung Fu Panda Uno. SRR sought his own happiness in the water color genre. Again, we pursued happiness, making the best of a dreary day. Watching Lucy pursue happiness made us belly laugh: being in the Vitameatavegamin commercial for fame, locking herself in the meat locker trying to save money, the list goes on..... People forget that the pursuit can be just as rewarding (and fun) as reaching the goal.
Luray saw us this evening, as we participated in the annual Family Fun Fest. We dropped $20 for the boys to bounce on inflatibles to their hearts' content. JOR played on one that resembled American Gladiators, SRR went through numerous obstacle courses. Sadly, the rain picked up. MGR then needed to pursue the duck race. We had an hour to kill, in the rain, before the race was to start. Then, just when I thought it would start and we could get out of the rain, the race was postponed by 30 min.!! The litany of whines commenced: "I'm hungry", "I'm tired", "I'm cold". You can just imagine.... I was ready to ditch the ducks, but MGR was determined to see the race. The race was about 7 minutes long....and we lost!! I was not happy! We made a quick dash to the nearest Chinese place for dinner, as soup and tea were needed for defrosting. After dinner, we headed to the park for fireworks. I don't know what was more beautiful: the actual display or the boys watching it in awe. Truly another inspirational moment reminding me that hope is in the horizon.
Wishing you and yours a successful pursuit to happiness!! May you enjoy the pursuit as much as the goal!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Day 3: A Cornucopia of Chaos!!

Forgive me, as I need my mojito earlier than anticipated....
Today brought a load of surprises, good and bad. The alarm clock, today named SRR, went off about 3am, doing the "I'm scared" song and dance. A few hours later, MGR made a nice breakfast for us before my 3 stooges went off to try their luck at fishing. Yes, all 3 of them fishing. I was not going to witness this, so I spent an peaceful hour cleaning the cabin and reading the local newspapers.
Curiosity eventually got the best of me and I went down to the pond bringing gifts of water, snacks and bug spray. I became an angler by default, as the boys didn't realize patience was a prerequisite for fishing. The playground beckoned to them and I took on the responsibility of assisting MGR with 4 fishing poles. Unfortunately, the sun was getting to the boys and I walked back up to the cabin to get sunscreen. When I returned to the pond, I was told we were packing up, as MGR was losing patience with fish and offspring. I employed the boys to assist in loading the van. (MGR didn't want to rough it with fishing gear, so he drove the van down.)
Well, before I knew it, SRR had opened the van to put in his chair. Good boy, I thought, until I heard the door close. A wave of fear came over me. Yep, he locked the keys in the van! Luckily, I had packed a spare set in my purse. Back to cabin I shlepped.....
Well we got everyone back to the cabin for a family time-out. Lunch, movie and a nap work wonders for overstimulated kids (and under amused adults!). However, SRR did it again. He somehow managed to set the lock on the bathroom door. MGR expended some muscle (along with some grumblings) and loosened the lock. That was special!
Luray Caverns was our tourist stop of the day. Very interesting and quite beautiful! The boys loved it and poor MGR tolerated it. Allergies were taking their toll again as the caverns are quite humid. We enjoyed the organ with pipes made of stalactites and all the formations created within the past 3 million years. A feeling of insignificance came over me as I saw these grand creations!
The Car and Carriage Museum, located next to the caverns were quite amusing! The boys loved seeing all the carriages and old cars. They got a chuckle over starting a car with a crank.
The highlight of the day was our visit to the Garden Maze. They actually allowed us to attempt this. Little did they know..... Our mission was to go through the entire maze and return to the main building. There were 4 posts we needed to find along the way. I was apprehensive about this, knowing the kind of day we were having..... Do they have search parties for groups like us?
Our little disfunctional group did a 180 degree turn. The anger, stress, boredom, illness and lethargy all escaped us as we worked together to find the paths that lead us out. We all took turns leading the way, some scoping out possible paths, while others stood guard to make sure no one strayed. We became one cohesive unit working toward a common goal. I was proud of us!! We made it through and it almost seemed painless. It was a wonderful time had by all.
We celebrated by dining at Dan's Steak House. Sirloin dinner for 2: $30! Can't beat that!! We than drove through Luray village in anticipation of tomorrow's big Family Fun Fest. We can't wait!!
The hot tub, and another mojito, ended another interesting day of the R vacation. Thank God for my herbs. Rhodiola and Maca are great adaptogens that allow one to deal with stress a little better. Now, if there was a way to get it in IV drip......
Until tomorrow.....

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Day 2: Allergies STINK!

This morning, I woke to hacking, sniffling, wheezing and groaning. MGR didn't sleep at all last night, allergies being the culprit. I felt so bad for him! While I was giving him his weekly allergy shots, the boys' mantras rang through the cabin, "What are we going to do today?", "Are we going fishing?", "Can we go swimming?" Heaven help me!! I had to run away.....literally. I ran / walked a hilly couple of miles, little in distance, high in incline! That was just what the doctor ordered.
Thinking the van was the trigger for MGR's allergies, I spent 1/2 hour (and $1.50) vacuuming out the van at the Quick Stop. Meanwhile, his meds kicked in and life was improving.
Took a two minute drive-thru tour of Stanley, VA. We couldn't blink, as we'd miss the sights! Luray offered a little more in terms of commerce. We were greeted at the Visitors' Center by a sweet girl named Martha. She was very knowledgeable about what was happening in the area. She told us about the Luray - Hawksbill Greenway, a walking / biking trail that encourages people to be greener and healthier (yeah Luray!). I then forced my family to suffer though a trip to the local health food store, where I had the herbologist mix an aromatherapy concoction for MGR's allergy issues. It seems to be helping a little. We'll see. A little more shoppping topped off our day in Luray (song anyone?).
The highlight of my day was having family portraits done. No, we did not visit Sears. Our dear friend, the photographer for our wedding, came to the cabin and took pictures. He was so good to JOR and SRR and the boys returned the favor. Who would've thought that SRR would focus for SO long? They had lots of fun with JS, and I think he had fun with us. Watching and participating in the "photo shoot" made me take a second or two for a gratitude check. Good meal (an old-fashioned burger cookout), good friends and great family. When JS departed, the four of us sealed our family bond with a jaunt to the hot tub. What an awesome ending to the day! Although allergies put a damper on things, life is still good! Time for a mojito!! Until tomorrow....

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

We made it ! Day 1 of Cabin Paradise!

We made it!! After a week of scrambling, and months of anticipation, we packed up "Silver", our trusty Grand Caravan, and headed to paradise!
It was exhilarating to feel the stress lift as we headed to the Shenandoah Valley. While the journey over the mountains was unnerving at times, it was a great feeling to leave the daily grind behind. We laughed, listening to and singing songs from MGR's iTunes collection. My personal favorite is "The Mom Song", two minutes and fifty-five seconds of "Mom-isms" set to the "William Tell Overture". Very amusing (and very true!).
Contrary to my m.o., we arrived early! We even stalled at a Tastee-Freez for lunch and D.R.'s Quick Stop for ice cream. The tempo of life took a ritardando. It appears that people move slower, care deeper and laugh more than in our parts. Brenda, the owner of our cabin, took great care to make us feel at home. Later in the day Lynwood, her husband, checked in on us with a new coffee pot and tools to fix the hot tub.
We dined at Uncle Buck's in Luray, then headed to Wal-Mart for groceries. SRR fell asleep, exhausted from all the anticipation. JOR was his usual goofy self ("EWWW, S is drooling!")! While this Wal-Mart was smaller, it was still Wal-Mart. My chest tightened and my hives reappeared as we walked in. Luckily the antidote was in the near future. We threw the groceries in the cabin and went fishing! The boys frolicked on the playground while MGR and I tried to get something. I had a few nibbles, but the evening was unproductive. Maybe we'll have better luck tomorrow.
Showers and snacks done, all is well! The boys are out cold and we're vegging in front of the TV. Time for a cup of tea and a good book. Until tomorrow......



It finally happened! I have a blog!! I've contemplated doing this for awhile, but never had a chance to do it. It is my hope that this will be a "work in progress": never stagnant and far from perfect.

Please feel free to contribute to this blog. Chances are, your entries will add a level of depth and intelligence that I could never achieve. Blog on!