I wanted my first blog trip to be a place to remember. I thought of several places locally and some quite far away. I came up with one of my favorite places to visit-San Antonio. The plan was to go with my nephew, sister-in-law, and niece. What ended up happening we sister-in-law had to have an immediate knee replacement and couldn’t make the trip. I started thinking of just scraping the entire trip and began thinking of other places I could go. What I came up with was South Padre Island, TX I could still stop in San Antonio on the way back and visit my family.
We brought my 9 yr old niece with us on the trip so my sister-in-law could recover after surgery. I felt it was the right thing to do for my sister-in-law and for my niece who had never seen the ocean before was really excited to go. There should be a manual for riding in a car with a 9 yr old girl. Whatever you bring on the trip to keep them occupied, triple it. Whatever you do DO NOT I repeat DO NOT feed them sugar! Josh and I learned that the hard way. When asked when will we get there every 20 minutes I sent a prayer of thanksgiving to my mother for putting up with me when I was 9. There was not enough to keep that child busy the entire 8 hr drive to Austin. Because we knew the trip was going to be a long drive we decided to go as far as Austin, get a room and visit with my cousin who lives there and recharge for the next part of our trip.
My cousin lives in North Austin so I wanted to find a hotel close to her apartment. She graciously offered to let us stay there but her apartment is small and this was a Sunday night so work was on the agenda for her the next day. I knew having a 9 yr old that doesn’t like to sleep would not be a pleasant night for her. I found a great room at DoubleTree by Hilton Austin Northwest Arboretum, the location was just where I wanted and the price was right for one night. We were greeted at the front desk with a warm smile and yummy cookies for each of us. The beds were unbelievably comfortable, after the long drive I hated that we had to get out again. LOL
We enjoyed a nice dinner with my cousin at an Italian restaurant at Mandela’s. The restaurant was located in a shopping center but when you walked inside it was like walking into an Italian market. There were meats, cheeses, loaves of bread, gelato and wines for purchase. There were outdoor tables where you could sit and enjoy a gelato if you did not want to have dinner. We enjoyed a lovely Italian dinner then went back to the hotel and visited a bit longer and watched my niece enjoy the hotel pool. We got up the next morning, stopped at Cracker Barrel for a great breakfast and headed south to Padre Island. Sand and ocean here we come!
I have MS known as Multiple Sclerosis. In 1994 I had been given the diagnoses of MS at the age of 25. It all started with having double vision. I was sent to see a Neuro-Ophthalmologist in Oklahoma City who discovered the disease by doing an eye exam. When I first heard the diagnose I was quick to reject what it was. How could I have this disease? I could walk, I could see, I wasn’t having any trouble with motor skills or other issues that people usually have with this disease. My mother was very quick to get me to sign up for classes. She got me signed up with the MS Society newsletter, I threw it away every time it came in the mail. I didn’t want this disease tainting my life. Aside from the first sign that something was going on with me no one would know I had MS unless I said something.
I had to quit my job working at Wal-Mart my neurologist said working there would put too much stress on me, the heat would make my MS worse and I wasn’t to lift over 5 lbs of anything. So I quit, I had no job for several months. A friend found me a job working with her in a Home Health agency as a receptionist. I took off from there. I wasn’t going to let this disease keep me down. I eventually left that job for a bigger job in Tulsa. It was a bigger city and allowed me to move away from my parents and not be reminded of this disease. While living in Tulsa I never had any issues with MS. I didn’t have to go on any meds or other treatment. I had a great neurologist that kept up with my progress.
Situations arose that would bring me back to my hometown nearly ten years later. My partners’ father had died and she wanted to be close to her mother if she needed help. So we drove back and forth to our jobs in Tulsa. The drive became wearing on me as we were getting up early and getting home late. Everything came to a halt when in 2004 after an OU football game weekend I went to bed Sunday night and woke up Monday morning sitting in my living room surrounded by EMS telling me I’d had a seizure. We learned the seizure was most likely caused by MS; most likely the heat from being out at the football game added to the symptoms. I was taken off work for 6 months. I decided to find a job in my hometown and have been working here since. I’ve had ups and downs with the jobs I’ve had here.
I am the type of worker that when I do a job I will work myself to exhaustion. Nobody can tell me I’m doing too much. I’m sure part of that drive has to do with never going to college and trying to prove I am just as good as someone without a degree. Sadly, working myself as hard as I did came with a price. It was almost a gift to have been let go from my last employer. The job was grueling, my body had gotten older and just couldn’t stand the pace any longer. Since being at home I feel so much better. At my last neurologist appointment my doc was actually pleased I was no longer with my employer and pleased with the path I have chosen to go down. Hearing the news that you have MS is not a death sentence as I first thought it was. Early on when the internet was new I had jumped into some MS chat rooms and began talking to a few people with this disease. They would tell me about how they had to walk with a cane or had swallowing problems or their eyesight was going out on them. I told myself I wasn’t as bad off as these people and felt terrible I didn’t have a debility I could add to theirs. I felt out-of-place and left the rooms never to return.
I have learned through many ‘told you so’ moments that MS is something that can be managed if you are willing to take care of yourself. Before my seizures, I was taking MS injections but those did not work for me. I still kept have exacerbations and nothing would work for me. My doc kept telling me a pill was in the works it was just taking a while to being offered. I was lucky enough that my neuro is on the board of the MS Society so he knew what was up to date and was always aware of new treatments. In 2007 I was lucky enough to be in a drug study for the medication Gilenya. I was in the trial for two years which helped bring the medication for FDA approval. Then I went into an extensive trial on the dosage of the medication to be given. I have been on Gilenya nearly 8 years and I am doing great. I have had no exacerbations. I am able to do things at moderate speed (I have to watch myself I tend to overdo a lot). I am happy to have been a guinea pig for this drug if it helps others live a healthier more fulfilling life.
Going through the trial gave me a better sense of where I am with my disease. I am at a better place that I am not afraid to tell people it is something I have. I am also happy to speak to others that have this disease especially those that have been newly diagnosed. They are just as scared and afraid as I was. I want them to know that if you take care of you this is a manageable disease. I know that for ten of the first years of this disease I didn’t want to talk about or deal with what I had. If you don’t listen to your body there comes a point when it will talk to you. That could be a point that it is too late.
Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States. Memorial Day is observed on the last Monday of the month of May for our country to remember those who have given their lives for our country. In some areas of the country, this day is known as Decoration Day, using the old term for the day you as a family went to the cemetery where your loved one was buried and decorate their grave. In cemeteries all over American flags can be seen flying proudly beside the fallen soldier that served their country. Not everyone died in service many lived until an old age but gave their lives to the military service with pride. We as a family celebrate Memorial Day by having family gatherings or reunions. Some celebrate by visiting the gravesite where their loved one was laid to rest and doing something on that day to honor that person. Memorial Day for me reminds me of my relatives that served in World War I and II, Korea, Vietnam and the Middle East Conflicts. I think of those I have in the service now and know one day I will be doing the same for them and how proud I will be of them. I am reminded of as a child the care my grandmothers and mother went to for Memorial Day and how those of us today see decorating graves as a bother. To honor all of their memories I will continue to hold up the traditions they have set before me. I hope everyone has a wonderful and safe Memorial Day Weekend.
So I have been unemployed for 4 months now. Since I started working in my 20’s I have never been without a job. This is a completely new path for me. I have been looking at so many telecommute jobs and hope there is one out there with my name on it. Until then I have made a plan to focus everything I have on my blogging. I am even taking a bit of my retirement money out so I can invest money into a few trips and courses over the next year. This is a huge step for me and I am really excited to be on the journey. I am beyond scared but have to believe this is the right path for me to take.
Being unemployed is way different than being on vacation for a long time. When you have time off from work you know you are going back. Being unemployed you have no idea when/if you will be working again. I have tried to set myself a routine each day and have honestly failed terribly. I think it will get better now that the weather has thankfully gotten warmer. The heat wakes me up and I’m ready to get moving. I actually like having a full day to myself. I can go run errands any time of the day I want to. I need to learn the senior schedule so I’m not running into them in the grocery. I have more time to devote to my favorite past time..lounging in my pool. I am really excited about this. I am hoping to figure out how to blog from the pool without dropping my phone in the water. 🙂
Regardless of weather, I return back to the office scene, find a job working from home or just blog full time. I have never felt better since leaving in January. I will say that work stress is the worst stress to have. It’s no wonder the majority of the working class are run down. Stress can kill.
I’m not counting Sunday as we did not get into town until 6 pm. Thankfully nothing uneventful happened, traffic was great considering where we were going and only a few stops to get here. Once we were inside the city limits we stopped by my families house for dinner and a short visit then headed to our hotel on the Riverwalk.
Joanna’s conference is being held at the San Antonio Marriott Rivercenter so our hotel is in the same place. After a long days drive and a lovely visit with my family, we were ready to crazy into a nice bed and sleep. So it was refreshing when we pulled up to the Marriott Rivercenter and see these lovely faces eager to take your car and whisk you inside their very air-conditioned hotel. I could have slept in the lobby I was so tired. Luckily I didn’t have to do that a nice Porter (in shorts I thought were made up for comedy shows ) arrived with a luggage cart and loaded all our luggage onto and wheeled it to our room. I felt like royalty having a porter take our luggage to our room, take everything off the cart and hang clothes in the closet. The room was nice and cool, roomy with a bed made from hell. I’m pretty sure it was manufactured by the ACME Brick Co. I’mso excited that I have a week to sleep on this thing. I read somewhere once that sleepy on too soft a bed will give you a bad back, not sure what sleeping on bricks will do for you. Crumble your spine?
Aside from the bed from hell we both grabbed a bed and hit the bricks for the night. While Joanna is at her conference I decide to hit the Riverwalk in search of, no idea. Hey, I’m on vacation. I don’t have to search for anything.
Rio Cruise boat in front of Rivercenter Mall
The location of this hotel is great, only a few doors down is the Rivercenter Mall. I hit that to see what was going on in the mall world today. Turns out when you visit on a weekday and not in the summer when kids are out of school, the mall isn’t terrible. Usually, when I visit my family in San Antonio it falls in summer or we venture to the mall on a weekend, always full of people. Today has been so nice. I took my time through the mall, one vendor stopped me to ask if I was looking for anything. I smiled at him and said No, No I’m not. It was truly a great feeling. After I walked the mall more than I should I found a lovely ice cream shop, Marble Slam Creamery. I bought an ice cream took it outside and ate it while watching the tourists ride up and down the Riverwalk on the boats.
RiverCenter Mall and patio area on Riverwalk
While sitting at my table a little Chinese family took the table next to me. They became ecstatic over ducks they saw in the water. Not just the kids, mom, grandma as well. They were speaking in Chinese but they kept saying duck and laughing this wondrous laugh that made you smile actually it makes your heart smile to know people are happy about such things as ducks swimming in a river. I ate my ice cream while listening off and on to the family talk about the ducks later pigeons. Eventually, I finished my ice cream and gathered my things to leave. I rather hated to leave the family and their excitement but Dad and additional family members brought food and I knew they would need my chair so I left to walk down the Riverwalk. It’s something people should do instead of riding the boats all the time. San Antonio has put in a lot of money and thought to make the pathways easier for people to walk on and enjoy the Riverwalk. I truly enjoyed my time. I was ready to get back to my room and cool off, it is rather warm out today. I wouldn’t have it any other way I’ll take warm weather over cold any day of the week.
I wanted to find something fun for this upcoming holiday. Most everyone associates St. Patrick’s Day with green beer and corned beef. I actually grew up with it as celebrating birthdays. I have two family members that were born on this day and it wasn’t until I was well into my thirties that I learned there was more to St. Patrick’s Day than birthday cake.
My wife loves having her birthday on March 17. Since we have been together I have made a tradition of getting her Belleek porcelain when I can find it. I also like to find whimsical items to show the day such as shamrock cookies or Shamrock plants. This year I thought it would be fun to cross-stitch her something for her birthday as I have yet to do that. I ran across this pattern on Pinterest St. Patrick Cross-Stitch and thought it would be great fun to make. The stitching only took me a day to make. I didn’t have a pattern to go off of, I enlarged the picture as best I could and counted the stitches and came up with a replica of the piece. I changed the colors a bit but I think it turned out pretty well for not having a pattern.
DMC 910-Emerald Green-dark used for the Shamrock and Hat
DMC 844-Beaver Grey-ultra dark used for Hat belt
DMC 444-Lemon-dark used for Hat buckle and numbers
The design is stitched on 28-count Irish linen. I wanted to make this into a little pillow but it did not come out like I wanted it to (after 3 attempts). The edges had started to fray which lead me to just pull out a few of the threads and leave it like that. I actually like it this way. I will place it in a frame and add it to the Irish collection we have in our house.
Yet another Christmas has come and gone and another one will be here before we know it. Is there anyone out thinking about being away from home at Christmas? I always wanted to do that when I was a child, I was always at grandparents houses Christmas morning. It wasn’t until I was in my teens that my family started having our own private Christmas and we stayed home as my father didn’t enjoy traveling.
I have always wanted to go away at Christmas to someplace really magical, like England and experience a Dickens Christmas. I realize that is just fantasy but I’ll bet there is some lovely village in England that comes close. I’ve wanted to go to New York City on Thanksgiving and watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade to usher in Christmas and enjoy the sites New York City has to offer. As I have gotten older the idea of going to colder places no longer appeals to me and a nice warm tropical island has a better appeal. Hawaii would be a great place to spend Christmas at least once or even sunny Florida.
TripAdvisor reports that 40% of travelers book their vacation 6-12 months out and another 60% book 1-5 months out. If you are planning a trip during the Christmas holiday booking now is advised. I truly enjoy using TripAdvisor when I travel. When you download their easy to use app to your phone or personal device you are able to make an itinerary of places you want to visit, eat at or shows to see. There are also reviews from travelers letting you know of their experience at that venue. I have found this very helpful in bigger cities I have been too.
I have listed 5 of the holiday spots that are within the US and easy to get to.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina-temps are around 60 degrees, beachfront condos can be rented from $109 – $450 a night depending on your group size. Myrtle Beach has many things to offer during this time of year from sandy beaches to aquariums.
Port Isabel, Texas-temps are a lovely 70-80 degrees in December, located just before you get to Padre Island. Rental property goes from $105-$440 a night depending on your group size. Port Isabel is full of American history, lighthouses and pirate ships. Fun can be had by the whole family.
Colorado Springs, Colorado-temps range from 40 degrees and lower in December. If a Christmas setting is what you are looking for this is the place. Minutes away from ski resorts, an hour away from Denver. Colorado Springs is home to the Olympic Sports Training and Visitor Center, Pikes Peak is not far away and Garden of the Gods is breathtakingly beautiful.
San Antonio, Texas -temps vary during December usually mild weather around 50 degrees, average nightly stay $200 depending on group size. San Antonio has so many things to offer while visiting. During the month of December, some of their seasonal parks are closed but do open for a few events mostly on weekends, check their websites if thinking about going to Sea World or Fiesta Texas. This is a city that stays busy, plus you are only a few hours away from the Gulf Coast should you want to venture further south.
Orlando, Florida-temps range from 70-50 degrees in December. Hotel rates vary as most are based on theme park visits. The website does offer good packages for those wanting to visit. Orlando has so much to offer it would be hard to pick one thing to showcase. The Orlando website does offer an app to download to help you sort out your choices of where to go on your trip. I am all about free help.
Those are my 5 choices. I hope they have been somewhat helpful should you decide to pack up and head elsewhere for the Christmas holidays. Have a great trip, Cheryl
When I think of Valentine’s Day my mind doesn’t do straight to flowers and candy, well a bit to candy but more toward a personal gift to let the person know I didn’t run out and grab something in a hurry. I have listed 5 ways to create a personalized Valentine for that special someone in your life. A special someone doesn’t always have to be a spouse, girlfriend or boyfriend. It is someone that means something to you in your life that you love. I have given Valentine’s to my mom on occasion, best friend and yes to my spouse. Those close to you will appreciate their personalized gift because it came from the person they care about. You.
Create a photo collage of special pictures from over the years you’ve been together. This is pretty easy to do and relatively inexpensive. A photo collage can be done from a computer program on your computer and make a photo cube, you can use a photo app on your phone to assemble several pics together, have printed at Wal-greens, Shutterfly or any other photo site. Find a nice frame and add the photo. Multi-window frames can also be found, insert pics and a photo collage is made. If giving a photo frame write a personal message on the back of the frame to the person who is receiving the gift. This makes the gift more personal and heartfelt.
Create a video of memories that you can share with your Valentine letting them know how much you have enjoyed the years together. You are probably saying to yourself a video of memories is just like a photo collage but it really isn’t. While a photo can capture a moment in time a video shows more details of the moment. Who doesn’t have wedding pics to show? What about that video clip that no one saw right before the wedding of the father kissing his daughter before walking her down the aisle or the pic that no one captured of the husband staring at his new spouse from across the room in amazement? Or the moment the bride’s veil catches on fire from the candelabra as she turns toward the minister from handing her bouquet to her maid of honor? Some memories are not always captured on film or our phones but video seems to catch all the ugly, funny and embarrassing moments of our lives and who better to share those moments with than the one you love?
Create personalized cookies with messages on the cookies. Who doesn’t love cookies?What better way to say I Love You than on a cookie? This can be done in many forms of cookies. Does your loved one only like chocolate chip cookies? Then arrange message to spell out words with the chocolate chips, if sugar is their favorite cookie icing or sprinkles can be used for the words. Have fun with it and let that special person know how much you care for them with a batch of cookies made from the heart.
Create a personalized card. This can be done in many ways especially with today’s technology. Cards can be made on computers, most have programs for cards or go back to your grade school days and make a card in whichever direction your artistic talent leads you. Pinterest is always a great way to find ways to make a card from simple to really elegant. I found a wonderful board with an enormous amount of free printable cards. Find a card that is right for your Valentine and make their day. https://www.landeeseelandeedo.com/free-printable-valentines-day-cards-tags
I find one of the most heartfelt gifts to give a person is needlework. This is a labor of time and love for what the maker is doing for the person they are making the design for. I enjoy cross-stitch, my love for cross-stitch goes back to when I was a teenager. I would buy the stamped cross-stitch patterns at Wal-Mart and try to turn them into what was shown on the cover. Sadly what I ended up with was a lot of knotted thread and hate for the craft. It wasn’t until my sister became ill and required a liver transplant in 1992 that cross-stitch came back into my life. When you are in and out of hospitals a person usually has a lot of time on their hands and my sister loved crafts and she always wanted me to the projects with her. So when she learned she would be in the hospital for quite some time she made sure she had projects to keep her busy. Cross-stitch was one of those projects. I still couldn’t stitch to save my life, kept getting the thread knotted up but I tried for her. My sister passed a few years later and I was left with all of her art and craft material. I didn’t know of anyone that cross-stitched so I made myself pick the needle up again and try. It was like I had been stitching for years. Now each time I stitch I think of her and I think a part of that reflects in the pieces that I make.
I bought this pattern set several years ago and have never gotten around to making it. I decided this was the year to start those projects I’ve been putting on the back burner.
The kit comes with step by step directions on how to begin stitching the design. The legend called for using one thread for the cross-stitch but I elected to use two strands as two strands make the design stand out.
I didn’t run into any problems until I came to hanging the glass. The instructions stated to wrap the silver cord around the top silver bands. When I did that the bands moved and left the piece off center. I am up with the solution by cutting the remaining cord for the hanger and using leftover pieces of cord to tie a know at the top of the bands to secure the bands in place making it easier for the hanger to not move. I was able to bring the two pieces of cord together and the top and tie a knot for hanging.