Friday, January 25, 2008

voices inside my head...

I got my first iPod back in December.
And I love it. Have had more fun playing with it.

There have always been certain male singers that really Do It For Me.
And having them serenade me in my ear like this is really Doing It For Me.
Silly little thing. Yes, I Know.
But hey, it makes me very happy, et al. And I'll take all the happy, et al I can get.

Throughout my life there have been singers. voices. that to me, had an certain essence to them.
a sensual, feral characteristic that always appealed to me on a very visceral level.

in other words - listening to them really Does It For Me.

It's not their looks or necessarily, the lyrics. it is simply The Voice.

And who are these voices, you ask?

You might be surprised...

First is
Steve Perry of Journey. Any song will do. I just happen to like this video...

Next, Dennis DeYoung original lead singer of Styx. LOVE him!
Again, no particular song. In fact, some of my favorite tunes from him are the lesser known ones that didn't get real air time and wouldn't make the Styx Greatest Hits album.

and wrapping up my list today is a newcomer, relatively speaking.

I have been an admiring fan of his acting for years. and due to that admiration, I had to see the movie Rent. and then I had to have the soundtrack. which is now on my ipod and Jesse L. Martin croons in my ears daily. and this guy - I do LIKE to look at. I like it a lot (blushing)

So there you have it.

the voices in my head.

and what they Do For Me...

Thursday, January 24, 2008

40 and fabulous

or something like that.

I turn 40 next month.

trying to decide how I feel about this little milestone.
and trying to convince myself it's not really a big deal.
and is it?
a big deal?

hubby asked me today what I want to do for my birthday. I told him I'd have to think about it and get back to him. (suggestions are appreciated)

we had a rather serious falling out about this birthday several months ago. I wanted to go on a cruise or to a tropical island with a handful of girlfriends. he pointed out that our family fund did not allow for such an opulent celebration. regretfully, he was right. (I'd never tell him that.)

He has now told me that anything he does for my 40th will not be enough. That it will not live up to my expectations. he got that right.

But I am pretty much over it now. Went on my cheap little cruise with a Fabu girlfriend. A few more of us girls are getting together in Houston in March to toast my 40th.
So I am good.

but what to do?
what to do....

My oldest daughter turns 9 in less than two weeks. We are taking her, sister and two friends to Medieval Times for the dinner and show. That will be a ton of fun - for all. Actually looking forward to it.

For my son's 4th birthday two weeks later we will be going to Chuck E Cheese. (shoot me now)

My second daughter's birthday is at the end of March and you'd think it was the most important gala of the season. We (she) change(s) plans on a regular basis - the one constant is that it will be themed after High School Musical. And I am to buy her "Cool-Girl Clothes" for her birthday.

So it's like birthday season at our house for the next few months.

poor hubby.
He just doesn't get birthdays and the significance that goes along with them.

and me?

I just don't know if I got it in me to Party Like A Rock Star.

I feel much more like an overweight, tired, disgruntled, middle-aged Mom.

And that, I am certain, is NOT fabulous.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

my cruise - the recap...

I am beat down dog tired. in my bones.
wiped out could sleep all day for at least three days.

it's cliche - but i need a vacation to recover from my vacation.

and I did not party THAT hard. seriously, folks.

Work is kicking my butt. playing catch up. a lot of pressure at my job as of recent. learning a new software package and having to 'make my numbers' in support calls is sucking a great deal of joy out of my life. if you want to motivate me - hang a BIG FAT JUICY RAISE out there in front of me. don't count on metrics being a motivator for moi.
another day. another post.

About our cruise - several of you asked for a report because you are looking to do a cruise yourself some time in the future. So for you, first, the logistics:
I travelled with my lifelong girlfriend S. She just finished Grad School and was on the cruise for a prep course for her exams to be a Nurse Practitioner.
We have been best of friends - more like sisters - since we were 5-ish. We know each other inside and out - warts and all. So no matter what, we always ALWAYS have a good time together.

The cruise was dirt cheap - less than $350 each for a four day cruise.
Mobile, Alabama to Cozumel, Mexico.
Carnival Cruise Lines - our ship, The Holiday.

Let me also say - you get what you pay for.
That said, my expectations were probably too high.

To start off, when I looked up directions to the terminal the morning of our departure, I find that we would have to pay $60 to park for the four days. I thought that was a bit steep in MOBILE ALABAMA. And after we got on the boat - before we departed, we met a guy on the deck that points and says - "oh, you could have parked for free across the street over there." And sure enough, there were about 100 cars parked in the lot he pointed to.
Bummer, dude. When you are on a shoestring budget, every cent counts. In my mind, that cost us about 6 fruity rum filled cocktails...

The Carnival advertising tells you when pay for your cruise "virtually everything is included." It's the 'virtually' that gets you. If you don't drink alcohol, sodas or juice and don't play Bingo and don't want to buy any pictures of yourself - then Yes, 'virtually' is appropriate. Special note - the iced tea taste so bad, you are almost FORCED to drink sodas.

But trust me - they are going to - at every turn - work to get more $$ out of you. And I guess that's how they can charge so little for the cruise itself.
I just have this thing about being nickel'd and dime'd. I'd rather pay one big fat fee up front and drink and eat and play all I want.

I am not dissing Carnival. They did a decent job. And I confess ignorance.

Our cabin was clean and cozy. The beds were really comfortable - and I ought to know as I travel and stay in hotels on a pretty regular basis for work. I never once woke up with my back hurting - and THAT is saying something. I have a sleep number bed at home and almost always ache when I sleep in different beds. So that was a HUGE plus to me. I could sleep late and not hurt the rest of the day.

The walls were paper thin between cabins. I had thought ahead and brought ear plugs so this was a non-issue for me. However I can see how it might be a problem for others...

Our cabins were cleaned at least twice a day - we always had clean towels and almost always had ice in our cabin - without having to ask. Bonus.

The staff on the boat was well above average in level of service. I would not say exceptional - but still, very good. no complaints - they easily met all expectations.

Here's what disappointed me - the boat's interior was old and tired. Think Love Boat.

The pools (not that i got in one) were as big as some hot tubs I have been in. and they have an Ick Factor that defies explanation.

The food, overall, was mediocre. while not out and out bad, none of it was spectacular. I have always heard how fabulous the food is on a cruise. I was NOT impressed. at all. What they lacked in quality, they made up for in quantity. Food was always available.

As I have said before, I have travelled a ton over the past ten years - usually for business on an expense account. I have entertained customers on expense accounts. I am accustomed to eating at very nice restaurants. (Think Spago's, Ruth's Chris Steak House, Fogo de Chão, etc) so perhaps my expectations were too high. perhaps.

Someone was ALWAYS shoving a camera in your face to take your picture. this is one of my personal pet peeves. Obviously, this did not bother a lot of people as their smiling toothless redneck mugs could be spotted on the picture racks every morning.

Yes, this was a total redneck riviera cruise. i can say that because I R one. (this comes under the rule where family can talk about their own family - and since i AM a redneck - I can talk about them!)

I completely and TOTALLY underestimated the people watching opportunities on this cruise. Was some of the best entertainment of the whole excursion. seriously. What not to wear. how not to sit. which tattoos age better. what not to say. endlessly entertaining...

And speaking of entertainment, I went to one of the nighttime shows with the Holiday Dancers. Again, I was expecting WOW! and got just okay. The kids could dance. no doubt. but the singers were really weak. Seen better in the tryouts of American Idol.
I worked at Six Flags Over Georgia for six years. We had better talent and shows there.

I LOVE piano bars. Some of the best nights of my life have been singing and swaying the night away in piano bars. The piano bar on the boat was one of the few indoor smoking areas. HUH? I felt so sorry for the guy playing and singing in all the smoke. He was decent as far as piano players go and I don't know if he'd of had more of an audience if it was non-smoking or not. I think one of the keys (pun intended) to a successful piano bar is that you play a lot of songs that a lot of people know the words to. That was not the case here. Wierd songs I had rarely heard and did not know the word too. And I know the words to a bus-load of songs.

Karaoke night was fun. They had it every night - we only made it for one night. Yes, I am a Karaoke Whore and had a ball singing my heart out to Delta Dawn.

We had fun in Cozumel. Walked ourselves silly shopping and sight-seeing. The shopping was very Tourist Trap-ish stuff. We should have done a shore excursion and then bought all our tourist crap when we got back to the boat. Just about everything we bought out and about could have been purchased right there at the dock for the same price.

We did have lunch at Mr. Buffet's Margaritaville on the deck over the Caribbean. That was really nice. Paid resort prices for a decent meal - but was still very enjoyable - even if you don't care for shot girls wandering around and balloon hat artists and the wait staff throwing some waiter over the deck fully clothed because it was his birthday. oh, and there was a senorita with sombreros willing to take your picture - for you to BUY. I would have enjoyed this a TON more in college. Of course I could not have afforded to eat there when I was in college. tit for tat, i guess...

Insider Information you might not hear anywhere else:
On Carnival, there is a drink card you can buy. one flat fee (about $27 w/ tax and gratuity) and you can drink all the soda and juice you like. Otherwise - you pay for each one. and the drink card does NOT include bottled water. I saw one family bringing a case of bottled water and a 12 pack of soda onto the boat with a little wheelie cart. I thought that was silly. I was WRONG.

You are not allowed to bring liquor onto the boat. but ppl do in their checked luggage.

Clothing - I seriously over packed. Because I just did not know what to expect.
If you plan to sun bath or swim, packing is even easier. A swim suit or two and a wrap for the days is great - if it is warm enough outside. For this time of year, it can be cool and windy on the outer decks. and the inside has serious AC. I was most comfortable during the days in a nice coordinated work-out/track-suit type ensemble with a jacket I could take off over a t-shirt.

In Mexico - shorts and a t-shirt.Only one night was really formal. And that meant anything from feathers and velvet to nice pant suits. for men - suit and tie. I don't remember seeing any tuxes.

Most nights, it was what they called 'casual elegance' - whatever that means. Could be clubbing clothes, Sunday-Go-To-Meeting outfits or for some, starched jeans and large shiny belt buckles...

when you disembark, you will have the choice of having your luggage taken off for you or carrying it yourself. If you are in a hurry - CARRY IT YOURSELF. The difference could easily mean several hours. And if you have a plane to catch - it could be imperative.

However, if you want to sleep in, take your time and hang out in your cabin for several hours then have the porter take your luggage for you. The only catch is - you must have your bags packed and in the hallway before midnight the last night of your cruise.

We choose to carry off. The carry off-ers disembark first. Still, when we arrived at customs, the line was a mile long. S noticed a woman ahead of us that had been on 14 previous cruises and she got a porter for her luggage. There was a different line for porters and it was significantly shorter. So we tipped $10, got a shorter line and had help with our bags to our car. Definitely worth $10!

One of the best duty free/tax free deals was liquor. yes, i am a lush...

First off, the bottles were a full liter and not .750. So they were bigger. And the ones I bought cost about 50% less than what i recently pd for the .750 size.
If you are going on a cruise and might bring back liquor, swing by your liquor store and price out your favorite spirits before you leave - then you'll have a better idea of how good the deals are. I had recently bought several bottles over the holidays and KNEW I was getting a kick butt deal.

And you can only bring back one bottle duty free. I brought back four. (Gave two away as gifts!) bought them on the boat. and admitted it to customs and they did not make me pay duty on them. So I got four bottles that would have easily cost me more than $120 at home for $58 on the boat. Even if i had to pay the duty it would have been no more than $2.80/bottle - which is still a substantial savings.

There are stories to tell - a few, anyway. And I will share them with you when I get my hands on all the pictures.

in the mean time just know this - I have learned that I have pretty high standards.
Or maybe I am just a little bit snotty about things. I really don't know.
I was not at all disappointed with the vacation itself. It was as relaxing and enjoyable as I had hoped.

It was just a disappointing cruise experience. And if that's the worst thing that happens to me in 2008, it's going to be a GREAT year!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Hi Honey, I'm home...

Back from the cruise as of yesterday afternoon.
still unpacking and digging out from under with my work.

a fabulous time was had by all.
i have a list of Do's and Don'ts coming up for you...

Will fill you in on all the GLORIOUS details soon!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

tomorrow morning - after I get the hubby off to work and the kids off to school, I am off on my adventure.

A CRUISE. My first ever. EVER!

I am so excited. (can ya'll tell?)

The literature says the boat has wireless internet access. I love ya'll and all but I will NOT be taking a computer with me. Nope. And I have every intention of turning my cell phone off as soon as I embark. International roaming rates are not in the budget.

I have about killed myself preparing my family (and work) for this trip and my absence. Sam's medicines refilled. Dosage schedules outlined. Family schedules typed, adjusted and retyped. Copies to everyone with their responsibilities highlighted. emails to teachers. bags almost packed. pantry and freezer stocked with easy to prep meals. ipod soon to be updated with cruising music and a book on tape. (James Patterson) smutty paperbacks packed.

It's a lot of work when you're in charge. DA-YUM!

So we are clear - I plan on doing NOTHING on this boat. ship. whatever they call it.

There might not be a single story to tell when i get home - unless some well intentioned purser tries to get me to participate and i throw them overboard w/out a second thought.

Taking camera. there might be pics. we'll see. no promises.

Bon Voyage, Ya'll...

Friday, January 04, 2008

nothing like piss & vinegar to start your day

Let me preface all this by saying Savvy was up past her bedtime last night.
As a result, this morning - she was not pleasant.
and that is a gross understatement of the facts.

She thinks on Fridays she must wear her cheerleader outfit to school.
I try to 'splain to her that football season is over, it's 25 degrees outside and she does not need to wear her cheerleader outfit to school today.

She persists.
"Fridays are SPIRIT daaayyyyssss." she whines.

I leave the room telling her if she can find it, to put it on and get ready to go. Mentally I tell myself she can freeze her patooty off and look silly for all I care. I did my duty in trying to avert the humiliation.

She cannot locate the cheerleader outfit.
She SCREAMS at me to come help her.

I ignore her.

She asks somewhat nicely.

I search the closet - the outfit is not there.
I am accused of packing it in the pod - which now that I think about it - I might have done...

but at the time, i denied it.
Told her to put on jeans and her cheerleader camp t-shirt.

And here is where the difference between a typical kid (savvy) and a special needs kid (sam) is glaringly obvious.

Sam has meltdowns. Episodes where she is completely out of control of her behavior. She has little to NO CONTROL of herself.

Savvy, on the other hand has fits and knows EXACTLY what she is doing. She gives new meaning to the term "Conniption Fit." They say that only a Southern Woman can tell you the difference between a Hissy Fit and a Conniption Fit.

That is so not true. My six year old daughter can define as well as demonstrate the not-so-sublte variations between the two fits.

This morning, we got a full on Conniption Fit.

A screaming, yelling, crocodile tears, running outside the house without a jacket and screaming her bloody little head off conniption fit.

I feel soooooo sorry for the man that marries her. He had better be a Yes Man by nature.

I told her she could pull it together and go to school or sit in her bed all day. no books, no toys, no nothing. not even food.


"No, you won't. One day without food won't kill you. It's your call, Savvy. But you got three minutes to pull it together if you are going to school."

She went to school.
But the victory is hollow.

She brought home straight A's on her report card this week. (mostly A+'s - hate to brag, but I will.) So I bought her High School Musical II DVD yesterday as a reward.

During the heat of battle this morning - when her whining was making my ears bleed, I told her "NO TV TOMORROW WHICH MEANS YOU CANNOT WATCH HSM II."

When the whining and crying did not cease - I took TV away on Sunday too.

It is going to be a very long weekend.

And you can bet your sweet patooty that she will NOT be up past bedtime on a school night again any time soon...

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

just so you know

The problem with Santa bringing a six year old girl clothes is that IF the clothes do not fit, the parental figure has to DRUG aforementioned six year old in order to SNEAK the ill-fitting clothes out of the house and back to the store in order to EXCHANGE them for a proper fit.

As I am completely out of drugs, the six year old daughter went back to school this morning with TOTALLY groovy rhinestone and glitter Justice jeans held onto her little body only by a belt...
Gratuitous Shoe Picture For Pissy - the reigning Shoe Diva in the SEC.

You can kinda see the glitter on the jeans too...