A Day to Myself.

R is out of town for a few days, so guess what that means? Girly time … with myself!

Hello, my name is Carolyn and I’m an introvert.

There, I said it.

R and I had gone to some friends’ (T’s blog is here) house last weekend. We were sitting around talking about, well what else..ourselves, and T mentioned that his wife had said “Oh good! She’s an extrovert for me and you’re an introvert for R.” Immediately, my palms got sweaty and I started to tremble. Extrovert, extrovert… oh lord, does that mean I have to talk to people? After smelling salt was waved under my nose, I woke up to declare that R was more of an extrovert and to please not give me a debutante ball into extroversion society because I’ll be expected to reenact a scene from the Crucible where they pretend to see birds and my part is one of the girls that screams and cries and, really, I am just not prepared nor do I have the lines memorized even though it’s mostly screaming nor do I like to have people’s eyes on me and no one will clap and everyone will laugh even though it’s a drama and not a comedy, so please.. please!


Anyway, by the end of the discussion, it was decided that T and I were functioning introverts. I like to write, I observe and absorb, I don’t mind giving up the spotlight, I can interact with people despite my sometimes clumsy conversation, and maybe when I get comfortable with you, just maybe, you’ll mistake me for one of those extroverts.

So I took myself to a museum in the next town over. They were having a “Cabin Fever Reliever”, complete with three speakers and they’re normal museumy stuff. The presentations were of the historical trails that went through NW Arkansas: Trail of Tears, Butterfield Stagecoach Route, and a Civil War Troup. It was nice. So were the free cookies and cider.

I skipped the Civil War talk to look around the museum with no one else around (Introvert Alert!!). I wanted to shoot everything. Everything. But was worried I’d do a repeat of my trip to San Juan Capistrano, in which I took about 300 photos of various chairs and pottery. So I made an effort to include myself in photos, if only to make it more interesting to look back on.

My parents are recovering non-self-includers. Now, every time they come back from a trip, they like to point out to me where they are in each photo.

Hang on though, I’m not saying I don’t enjoy interesting pictures from a trip without people I know in them. But that’s the key word: Interesting. I mean, look at this: I could never do this.

Could you? You probably could, huh. Well, I can’t. So I might as well throw me in the scenery mix. What has it got to hurt? (I heard that.)

After gazing at my future dining room table, I turned the corner to a dress-up area and squeezed into a 12-year old’s hat….

…looked at old 3-D photos.

And then I saw it. An entire area devoted to cleanliness in the olden days, which included a replica of an outhouse, of course.

So I tried it out. What you don’t see is the lady standing behind the camera pretending not to watch me set the self-timer and run into the outhouse. Apparently this is the face I make when someone walks in unannounced and stands there staring at me. I mean, hello lady, I’m having a private moment with me and my 1905 Sears catalogue and you are breaking my concentration.

In the end, I outran her to the real deal outside, after which I took a tour of a small cabin and barn.

After a quick stop at a thrift store, I drove home, changed into pajamas, fixed myself a nice cocktail as well as a plate of cheese and crackers (Do you see any green on that plate? I was getting wild and crazy last night, people), and plopped down to my netflix account.

A good, quiet, introverted day.


I’m copying Ashley and listing my goals for this year as well. Already, I’ve broken one of them today when we got lost a couple hours ago, but am now hyper-sensitive to it.

1. Quit cussing. Especially when lost. Although a nice F-bomb really does make you feel better every once in while.

2. Do one round of Power 90. I have a good 1.75 hours before having to pick up R from work. Why can’t I squeeze this in?

3. By eliminating those almost 2 hours of free time, it will help me spend LESS TIME ON THE INTERNET. Because we watch TV on it, email through it, write my blog with it, ugh… too much time. Setting a reading goal every month will help as well. I can’t decide to set the goal by number of pages or number of books.

4. No Coke. And by coke, I mean all of those sweet carbonated beverages. Growing up, we never drank it, why am I addicted to it now? R gave it up for all of last year and spent the past two days getting refill after refill in celebration. My mouth was watering. It sucked.

Side Note: Is ‘sucked’ considered a cuss word? If not, I may add it anyway. Along with ‘crap’.

5. Use a wider vocabulary: That’s crap -> That’s rubbish.  This sucks -> This vexes me.

6. Spending an hour each morning praying and reading the One Year Bible. All I have to do is get up an hour earlier.

Christmas – Snippits of His Side aka Home of the Goatees

{Watching my brother-in-law figure out the best way to get only cheese popcorn out of the tin. And by doing so, making us not want to eat the other two kinds that were barricaded by the inside of his shirt.}

{Being handed the stocking by my father-in-law who having neither grown up with girls nor had girls can only smile patiently through my barrage of photos and finger-in-the-air tirades.}

What? You’ve never seen my finger in the air pose? It comes around quite often, I’ll scrounge up a photo for you.

{Enjoying when people can laugh at themselves. This towel made me guffaw.}
{Watching R open up gifts from his brother, which included random items left over at his house}
{Then being told by J that there are over forty little elves hiding around the room. In the photo above, I’ve already found three. Our job? Find as many as we can.}

{After we found our loot. She then read various backstories on some of the elves. If we had those particular ones, we got more points.}
{But my favorite elf was the one who was happy because he ate a bunch of chocolate. I could really relate. See his chocolatey smile? J’s so creative.}

{Some even came with money!}
{And lastly, an extremely yummy corn chowder dinner where I realize how I need Katie to do my hair every day. See what happens when I’m left to it on my own? Move to Arkansas, Katie. I need you.}

Eyes in the Back of My Head

During one of our many excursions to a local restaurant over the summer (and judging from my outfit, we apparently were rewarding ourselves for exercising by eating back all the calories we burned off), I happened to lean a bit to my left.

…Probably reaching for more salt.

At about the same time, I saw R jump a bit. And for him to jump meant he was seriously startled. This guy never flinches. It’s especially annoying when I wait behind closed doors for hours on end to scare him and then don’t get a reaction. I’ll never learn.

He thought this guy was just sitting there calmly watching R eat.

Don’t you love looking back on those moments? Where you all sorts of things run through your mind.

Is he staring at me? Why is he staring at me. Oh my god, he’s actually just staring at me!!
(As you can tell, the thoughts that run through my mind don’t vary much.)

I couldn’t stop laughing.
Eventually I did.

Because they brought out the cheese dip… and then things started to get very serious, my friends.

Small Town Lights

I’m enchanted with small towns. So, seeing our town’s adorable christmas decorations made my insides turn to jelly. You know, like when you went on that first date with a guy and saw that he’s reaching across to caress your cheek, only to realize that he’s actually just scraping spinach off the tip of your nose because instead of using utensils, you apparently just put your head straight into the pasta dish and slurped.


Well, you know the feeling I’m talking about.

look at these lights. just look at them! they are so simple and small-townish.

my reward for not calling in sick last week, even though I wanted to.

We’ve been holed up here today, trying to get over whatever bug is making us feel lowsy. I did go to my knitting class, but quickly came home and have hardly moved from the sofa.

Last night, neither of us wanted to make dinner. That is, until we watched Survivor. (yes, still watch this darn show. I think I’m addicted.)

And then we saw it during the reward challenge: burger… french fries… beer…

Oh my, we looked at each other and exlaimed, “We need that. Now.”

So, as if we had not eaten in 30 days, we piled up the plates with our own reward challenge.

The only challenge here was to not use too much mayo. Does anyone else do that?

And can I say that I will never go back to frozen french fries? First of all, so much cheaper with plain ‘ol taters. Secondly, so much tastier. Unfortunately, I did not make the buns. I’ve made buns before and they took me forever, but came out okay. I need to try again, but this was an emergency. We needed them stat to gorge our faces.

Our sicky heads were happy last night. So very, very happy.

Turkey Giblets

We had a nice time over the Thanksgiving holidays. We slept in a half hour later each day, it was delightful.

On actual Turkey Day, the whole family (minus two lovlies in L.A.) came together. Here are some snippits.

:: coloring with my niece before the feast ::

:: my uncle bringing over some of mee-maw’s oyster dressing, brought directly from her spirit apparently ::

:: setting out the glassware. Yes, the blue one was mine ::

:: catching my husband in awkward photo positions ::

:: hanging out with my sisters and posting a good-looking photo in hopes that one of them will forgive me for what is soon to come ::

:: holding hands and saying a couple prayers before committing gluttony ::

:: holding back on portion size ::

:: giving thanks to our hosts ::

:: also giving thanks that I don’t have to look at this carnivorous activity straight on. A side view is plenty, thank you ::

:: going for a post stomach-suicide walk ::

:: watching home movies, including one in which my sister, L, asks a question on the Leeza Gibbons Show while in college. This one made our stomachs hurt we laughed so hard ::

:: watching a late night dance production ::

:: while Aunt Carrie played the piano ::
But I have to say there was one thing that most contributed to this being a great weekend. Not the family time, not the sleeping-in….

:: prunes, baby. that’s all I need to say ::

Maturing…at least physically.

Something is in the air.

R and I went to a wedding Saturday night and I actually threw on a skirt and heels, something I feel I haven’t done in a while. And normally, I feel insta-sexy with this particular shoes-skirt combo. I do up my eyes, throw on some clear lip gloss and be bop my way to the car. But last night, I felt almost… needy. And asked R repeatedly if he thought I looked good.

He assured me that yes I did, while also throwing in a few “for a 50 yr-old” cracks at which I laughed, but also quietly noted that there’s always truth in jokes.

When the usher asked me which side and I replied “Bride”, he escorted us to row after row of giggly just-graduated-from-college friends of E. Glossy hair, manicured fingernails, shaved legs – you know.. above and beyond. What show-offs.

This was the first time that I’ve felt… older. Not old. But just older. The fact that I’d resolved to let my hair grow out naturally, gray roots and all, did not help. When you see the pictures, you’ll say, “Oh Carrie, you aren’t graying!”. But I assure you, that is purely positioning of the head. Right now it is only about an inch out, leaving it mountain snow cap. I am going pre-maturely gray.

This has resulted in mixed reactions. A girl at work almost begged me to dye my hair back while R said he thought it was cool I was embracing my natural self.

And I believed I had come to terms with it as well.

…Until I was literally surrounded by those girls…flicking their beautiful silky mahogany hair about (almost no blondes at the wedding, which I figured was the cosmos laughing at me).

Can you believe I was grieving over this tiny aspect? But there you have it. The first baby step in watching my body mature. I always tell myself, in nervous situations, to really stop and feel that moment. Because it’s probably the most raw and pure emotion you can feel, never lessening.

Hopefully in 20 years, I’ll have become used to the changing of myself. Because I sure am uncomfortable now. Everyone was at some point.

For that reason, I was really looking forward to a glass of white at the reception to calm me down. When R went up to order it, the bartender whispered very slowly, “We…cannot..serve…alcohol..tonight.” A dry reception. Oh you cosmos!

Afterwards, we went down to our favorite place on Dickson St: a coffee bar/bar. There’s something comfortably appealing about a coffee shop that also serves wine.

We managed to catch the last half of the KSU game and while watching, decided to order an appetizer. I was waffling between Queso and Lox.

But there was still an air of self-doubt lingering from the reception, so I asked R to take an “unposed” photo. Which is really a posed photo of me trying to act like I didn’t know he was taking it. Nevermind, it gets complicated.

The wine-stained upper lip, the yellow teeth – fine. But what the heck is that???

I zoomed in.

Uh hell no.

We’re ordering salads, dear.

And tomorrow we’re going to the gym. I’m taking control of my self-image, starting…. right after Thanksgiving.

Look, a girl’s gotta have her pumpkin pie first.

When the Cat’s Away…

R has a business trip in KC next week, so he wanted to drive up earlier to stay with a friend.

One problem.

We’re a one car family and I’ve had an antique shopping day planned with a couple girls from work for about a month now.

Solution? He took the bus. It left at midnight and arrived around 5am. R didn’t get a lot of sleep, between a man grabbing his shoulder in the dark and asking loudly “Where are we?” and watching the guy stumble to the front of the bus and getting off right before an exit on the highway to thinking about the KC bus station and hoping his friend, B, makes word on his promise to pick him up.

The KCMO bus station is not exactly in the best area of town and B has a tendency to get worked up about things.

So Little Miss Carolyn took off early Saturday morning for a full day of antiques. On the original email, it said “this is not for wimps.” And man, was she right. I was exhausted by the end of day.


We stopped at two Amish stores for breakfast and lunch.

D I V I N E — Fresh made donuts and a roast beef sandwich, respectively.

My bread never ever turns out this good. I ate it up, literally (and I guess figuratively too.)

We attacked a lady and her 4 month old English Sheep Dog as they exited the beauty parlor. I think I may have found my new favorite breed. I could’ve scooped him up and took him home with me right then and there.

He would’ve liked the Dorm, right?
Antiquing was a success. Found three more of my Butterprint Pyrex dishes for twenty bucks total. Easily saved ten dollars. R mentioned not too long ago that he read the new Pyrex refrigerator dishes are having issues exploding in the oven. And since living sans microwave, it was crucial that I find the older versions to be able to reheat foods. Right. Right?

I debated about mixing different styles of Pyrex, which I normally would not be opposed to doing. In fact, I kinda like that look better…not so mitchy-matchy. But we’ve talked of the idea of exposing the dishes (plates/cups etc) in our future kitchen, and so in that case, I prefer having similar colors, but different textures. That way it doesn’t overwhelm the eye (or at least my eye) but it still creates some interest.
Was that straight up HGTV or what.
Believe it or not, I felt like I had been too practical in my finds and had to get something tasty just for myself.

What’s better than snuggling up to a 1932 journal filled with outings, bridge parties, and trips to California?
Well, I guess one thing.
Snuggling my feet under someone’s legs with a 1932 journal.

From Dirndl to Zombie…

in less than 6 hours. Ah, I love days like these. Although, if I’m completely honest with myself, that’s pretty much how every day ends up: pale faced and half dead.
We piled onto the bus that would take us to the much touted “second largest oktoberfest in the nation”. Hmmm… Not sure about that one. But it did have the second largest number of people chewing tobacco and wearing beer slogan t-shirts.

Can I describe how nice the day was? R and I had just come off of almost two straight weeks of rain and to walk outside into that sunshine? Divine. It was like heaven opened up to my cute dirndl dress and said, “Go on, my little bavarian child and bask in the fruits (or hops?) of the german microbreweries.”
Okay. I will, I said.

But our first stop was food: brauts, potato cakes, and onion blossoms. Life was good… my cinched waist was not.

We wandered aorund the grounds, until our exhausted feet found some tables in the open air. I mean, yes we were tired. We had just spent the entire morning eating breakfast burritos, drinking blackberry fermented “juice” and watching a marathon of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Wouldn’t you be tired too?

This is me midway through a lager and conversation. If you’ve spent any amount of time with me on a beautiful day sipping some spirits, you know my thought process. Unfortunately, this thought process usually turns into a vocal adaptation. Here it is in a nutshell:
  1. I really like hanging out with you guys
  2. Isn’t it beautiful out?
  3. Yes, pour me a little.
  4. Okay, a bit more.
  5. Shouldn’t we go on a trip together?
  6. My parents are going to pass away someday. (This sounds like a horrible statement. But it’s not intended to be. I’m only consoled when someone reminds me that 63 is the new 53.)
  7. Wait, I’m going to pass away some day.
  8. Are you guys going to miss me?
  9. What would you say about me at the funeral?
  10. Is anyone listening?
  11. So back to that trip…
  12. What. You don’t want to go on one now? It’s okay, I’m over our mortality. I promise.
  13. So what have you been up– wait. Back to me. What have I been up to? Well … [insert 30 minutes of non-stop talking*]
  14. Cackling laughter
  15. Did I tell you how much I like hanging out with you?

*This is actually a false statement. Ever since starting this blog, I now have nothing to talk about in person (re: myself)


After a few hours, I started to notice a decline in our host T. To the point where he grabbed hold of a turkey leg and pounded his phone with one digit. Next he would be dragging a woman along the ground by her hair.

Luckily we had to leave for our Thriller debut before seeing that caveman spectacle.

But I did get to see (and experience) a Big Lebowski scene with R while getting ready for Thriller. Except this time it was baby powder and not ashes.

Friends, there is absolutely one vital thing to bring along to a 12-yr old’s Thriller competition. Good sports of husbands. Man, they didn’t complain once. They made fun of it all (and us), but never complained. Even when we asked them to do their best zombie stance.


This isn’t the last you’ll see of J & T. They’re coming down for the Adventure Race next weekend. I’ll probably look like a zombie in those photos as well. Need to start exercising. Stat.

Tonight is Jammed Packed Full of Excitement! Coffee’s in the back!*

**Warning: Many words and photos ahead. Read & Look at your own risk.**

*The title was actually said via mic by my sister A. She was trying to get these baby boomers pumped up.

So after many a secret email, decorations bought, and lies told directly to my parents, the night had finally arrived! We had told B&P that R and I were driving into town to take them out to dinner with the rest of the family. My sister, A, was the head planner and quickly sent L & me an email listing the top ten things NOT to do when planning a surprise. The first rule that topped the list said to not avoid talking about the day and the “plans”. So we took turns calling them, asking if they were exciiiiiiiited, since that’s what we’d ask every two hours anyway.

Then we turned paranoid.

Everything my parents said sounded like they may already know of the party and are playing along. My dad laughed and said “yeah right” when I mentioned how we were (exciiiiiiited) to take them out for dinner.

Yeah right? He knew.

We had to sneak into their home to steal some photos and other paraphernalia while they were visiting my brother in California. (ps: M & D – we wish you had been here!! We missed you.) I had the excuse off dropping of my table, but still, when they said “oh we were wondering who was in the house. No one ‘fessed up.”

‘Fessed up? They knew.

Then it got bad. My mom answers the phone “Hello?” Hello? They knew. “How are you, Carrie?” How are you? They knew. They knew, they knew, they knew.

But they didn’t. Oh, not by a long shot.

When they first walked in. I love L’s shoes.
So a few things happened through the process that made my heart hurt. First, I had messed up royally by suggesting to B&P that R and I would be arriving at their home before taking them out on Saturday. If that were so, how was I going to help decorate and cook my roll-ups?

I had to think of something. And fast. A would beat me up if I didn’t.

On Saturday morning, I called B&P and told them R had to go into work last minute and we didn’t know when we’d leave. In fact, we had arrived the night before and slept in our nephew’s bedroom. He has a full bed and we thought we were in heaven…not even bumping into each other all night like in our glorified twin bed.

But I had to call my parents again as soon as I “got on the road” and it had to be timed so that “we’d have to meet you at the restaurant. Wish is were different, guys! Muah!” I even dropped a few “I’m so annoyed right now” to mom so that it sounded believable. Carolyn annoyed? Very believable.

So relaxing.
But as I walked around the grocery store saturday morning with my sister L, my stomach (and heart) began to hurt. I really did want to hang out with them and L’s conversation with mom the night before didn’t help any.

First, she had called mom, P, while she was out grocery shopping for lasagna. A lunch for me and R. Ouch.

Then, L told me mom had mentioned about 5 times that she’s looking forward to such a relaxing evening. Relaxing. hmmm….

Father B. 40 years later.
I made my dreaded call, lied to my parents for the second time within 3 hours, made my 2000 pinwheel roll ups, and got dressed. We met up a couple hours prior to the party to put up lights, lay out table decorations, and set up the buffet. When R was asked to lay out the napkins, he put them on each table as if we were having a sit-down dinner. You know, instead of piling them at the beginning of the buffet. He almost got beat up. We were all nerves.

L left early to meet my parents at her home. Thank goodness too because they showed up 15 minutes early and she had to stall by trying on several different dresses and asking for everyone’s opinion. Nice save.

She was also in charge of driving them to the location. Our schtick was to scout out possible locations for my brother and (new) sister-in-law’s reception hall. L was supposed to just “swing by real quick”. Well, she did manage to get them to the parking lot and my mom out of the car.

My dad? Different story. I mean, the Chiefs game was on the radio and why would he need to give input on the space? So he didn’t. Well, he tried to stay put, anyway.

My mom watched as L insisted strongly that he should get out of the car. That’s when she thought something seemed strange. Dad and L went back and forth and finally he (probably) sighed loudly and got out. Then he saw the lights. And a party.

Heck no, he wasn’t going to crash a party just to check out a space. But he was outnumbered and was shoveled through the door.


The first thing he said: “I’ve got to go apologize to L.”
A surprise party just isn’t the same without a struggle. Love it.

{You can click on the photos to make them larger}
So my parents mingled with old friends and family. Some they’ve seen recently, others… years.

We managed to find the actual priest that married them 40 years ago. Father B. My mom used to think he was cute. I think he looks the same.

As the night went on, each of us girls had our microphone duty. (If a mic isn’t in our hands, we feel naked.)
  • Amy: Introduce Father B. Prayer. Toast.
  • Lisa: Roast.
  • Carolyn: Bouquet and Garter Belt toss.
In that order.

I’ll give you one chance to guess if it was raining that night or not.
A introduced B as planned and he said a really nice prayer for us. I videotaped it all and felt really disrespectful, but at the time didn’t care. I had a job to do.
Then we dug into cake… cake framed by photos of my parents sharing cake on their wedding day. Oh, and nametags.
Thus begins the replicating of their reception:

Look at dad’s face. Oh, how 40 years changes things!

Soon afterwards, the mic duties went south. As soon as the little ones were taken home for bed, L went up to start “the roast”.


You need to know my parent’s friends. They are loud, ballsy, funny, and sarcastic.

Well, I guess that’s how they always are in our memories of them hanging out with my parents. You forget how time can change energy level. Because tonight? They were quiet. Maybe the lighting was too bright. Yeah, that was probably it.

A few got up to speak, which we appreciated. Some were poignant and some were, well, confusingly funny.

One person brought up a basketball game in which the guys were playing. The speaker got side-lined with an injury and so the girls (mom) were asked to get ice. Well, they must have spent the majority of the time shopping or something because they didn’t get back until much later. And all the guys yelled at them. But he ended it with…. “and B chewed her out. [pause] They’re just a great couple.”

The segway made me laugh.

I think it made L nervous though because after he sat down, she asked for any more stories. Any one? Any one? (Ferris Bueller).

Nope, no one.

She then had the gall to cut into my mic time and immediately said “Okay!! All the girls get up for the Bridal Toss!” How dare she. But it was okay because we got some audience participation. Everyone stood up! And how appropriate that my mom’s good friend from high school caught it.

Next up? My dad. I couldn’t find a garter belt in time so we had to make do with a ribbon. He seemed to enjoy it.

My cousin’s fiance caught it. Then promptly put it around his head like rambo. Perfect.

Lastly, the first dance (for the second time.) Dad was okay with slow dancing (he always has a good strong arm). But then a fast song came on….

And that’s when his eyes turned red. Well, it could just be red-eye from my camera. But it might not be.

We were so happy to throw this party for B&P. They’ve been such a strong example for us growing up… and now, even more so, now that we know how difficult it is to maintain focus as a couple.

Through hard times, they leaned on each other. Through fun times, they laughed with each other.

Leaning and laughing. That must be the secret.

Shangri-Lloyds @ Tablerock

With my tailbone medication in hand (chilled white wine), we ventured off to a local’s home for his annual party. Shangri-Lloyds. I want this property. Not just because there is an entire wing set up dormitory style for guests, that you have a great view of the lake, or even the three levels of deck space. No, it was all the games.

There’s Lloyd in the yellow. He’s in his 70s and still rockin’ it.
Let’s go through them. Well, we’ve got a volleyball net set up, or how about a little game of frisbee golf?

Not your cup of tea? Alright, then let’s head over to the landing for the zip-line. I’ll hang out on the tire swing while you do that.

Want more? There’s some washers and if you walk a little ways up, you have a full basketball court. Also, a batting cage with it’s own pitching machine over there if you’re interested.

And we were, by golly. We did *everything*. It was a blast and my sweaty shirt showed it.

For dinner, we had pork that had been roasting underground since the night prior. It even had an apple in it’s mouth. I felt like we were seriously on vacation to get this type of treatment. Hawaii, maybe?

As the sun went down, the lights turned on. So did the volume. We enjoyed background music of a local band playing on the deck. In between, various people would stand up and sing a song a capella. I don’t know about you, but stuff like that makes me cringe. I have to look away and it takes my whole being to watch. It’s the seriousness of it all, I guess.

So I convinced my two buddies (R & N) to go on the zip-line with me so I could avoid making eye-contact with the next singer. There was a seat on the zip-line at one point, but we didn’t mind just hanging on.

After a few games of HORSE and hitting baseballs, we left the party a bit early to go swimming off the dock. We took turns jumping off and trying to get mid-air pics. It was utterly summer vacation in that moment. Being silly with a twinge of danger… Wasn’t that in all of our childhoods?

Rain Schmain

I will never again be afraid of rainy forecasts. Just like my St. Louis birthday trip, last weekend promised an onslaught of droplets sure to ruin everyone’s Memorial Day plans. R and I shrugged our shoulders and didn’t worry about it.

Thank goodness too, because in the end, everything worked out wonderfully. We stayed with our cousins B-squared and their two children. They live on a canal that goes straight into Tampa Bay. Plus, they’re really relaxing hosts, so it instantly felt like a vacation. All the more reason to schedule another vacation back. It was great.

The first day, we drove out to St. Pete’s beach and frowned at the clouds overhead. Don’t even think about it, clouds. And you know, they listened to me. After a 30 second rainfall, they were done. That was it. Over. The rest of the day was sunny mid-80s.

I grabbed a drinkie-poo and we found a place to lay-out, already feeling rested.

We sun-bathed, played around, talked, ate, and swam. R & I had an ice cream eating contest with the sun. The sun won.

Both evenings we lounged around their house, zapped of energy. We literally did nothing all day and yet we were both exhausted. Well, maybe part of our energy was spent on making friends with the little ones. This may have been the first time that kids gravitated towards me rather than R. I jokingly refer to R as “Jesus”, because kids are just drawn to him. These two wanted nothing to do with him, though, and at one point the oldest child (not even three yet) saw R sitting on the couch and muttered loudly “Guess I can’t watch my movie now.” We laughed so hard. It wasn’t until we were on the way to the airport that R got some giggles out of them.

I was saying ‘Cheese’, by the way. That’s not my normal smile.
The next day, they took us out on their boat. R enjoyed being the Jr Skipper and helping out B.

We stopped at a couple places, one of which is a little island appropriately named “Beer Can Island” where boats anchor around the beach. Almost like a mini Party Cove.

I had to get a photo of the o07 boat.

We even got to see dolphins! If anyone knows my love of marine life, you know how excited I was. Good times.

Chronic(what?)les of Narnia

Wait! Before you read on, you must watch this video to understand. It’s only a couple minutes long, but will bring you many hours of chuckling when you sing it to yourself throughout the night.

We met our friends L & T (from the Once a Year Dinner group) in Eureka Springs for the weekend. None of us had been to the town before and didn’t know quite what to expect. I knew it was almost an all Victorian town, but I wasn’t prepared for the amount of ornate homes, hotels, and shops we saw. Simply cool. Or should I say, ornately cool? Anyway, we were going to spend the whole weekend together there. But then I thought, I’m sure L & T would like some alone time (two littles one at home) and because Eureka Springs is less than an hour away, I suggested that R & I meet them the next morning. R & I were going to break out our new 3 person tent — downscaled from a 7-person one, did we think we were the Brady Bunch or something? — and found a neat city park with hiking trails & a lake. Come mid-week, a snow storm was a-brewin’ and I was feeling under the weather. Long story short, it turned into a dinner date. (Well, a dinner + night cap date).
We showed up in the late afternoon and drove around town for a quick unofficial tour before meeting up with them. I found my future home, which was actually the smallest one there, nestled into the side of the mountain. Look how narrow this place is.. and the detail! Ah, it called out to me.

Before we had even pulled the phone out to call L, R spotted them driving in the downtown area. So we tried to catch up to them and creep them out. They hadn’t noticed, which makes me wonder if I’ve ever been stalked.

We followed them to their B&B (they were staying in the actual carriage stable) and condensed down to one car. L said they had slept almost all day long, which made me feel really good about not coming up earlier. There’s nothing like a lazy day, especially when it’s cold outside. The original plan had been to go to a Kite festival to a) let me sing Mary Poppins songs and b) enjoy a picnic outside. That was shot, but I’m of the belief that, if it’s going to be cold, bring on the snow! Warm company over dinner and drinks beats any spoiled plans.

Before we headed out, L stole some homemade lavendar cookies from the B&B and passed them out in the car. It was like eating perfume, but with a better aftertaste. So good.

We grabbed some coffee and T asked where the Crescent hotel was. Be sure to check out this picture of the hotel. The photo is old, but it looks just the same. The shop owner suggested we drive… And actually one customer in the store offered us a ride… and so when we declined, he gave us directions. He started off with “The simplest thing you can remember is…. ” and R said that was the last thing he heard. It was too confusing.

Every so often, we would see random stairs leading up into trees. Finally, L got the courage to go up some and we followed suit.

They opened up onto a gravel-type pathway lined with snapdragons trying their best to survive this sudden turn of weather. You could see small stone steps up ahead and had no idea where they would lead. It just felt surreal and off-kilter. But that also could have been my cold medicine. Or maybe that wasn’t lavendar in the those cookies??

Further proof that we were in another world, R found the lamppost. I was waiting for a faun to appear.

You’re supposed to be able to see the big statue of Jesus in the background and so when a stranger offered to take a photo of L & me, he asked if we wanted Jesus behind us. L laughingly said, “Oh, He’s always behind us.”

We found a room in the hotel to watch the bastketball games and have a few cocktails. L & T are so easy to talk to. We joked about how serious we get, but it’s refreshing to have conversations of substance, if you will. Not that we never cracked a smile, but our topics ranged from politics to religion to human nature to parenting to me trying to recruit them to live in a cave with us. Wait, what? Yes, we need a hunter position filled. You all saw me holding a gun in that Six Flags episode. We need someone with skill.

As we were walking back to head out to dinner, I mentioned how I thought this felt Chronicles of Narnia-esque. Then, L mentioned the SNL skit on it and I squealed. R & I had just watched the skit the night before on hulu.com and was actually singing it on the way to Eureka Springs. So we had to get our rap bits in and then later, L came up with an encore verse for it. L, if this is copyrighted, I’ll pay you later: “Driving down south in my kid-trashy car… Sedalia to Eureka didn’t seem too far…. our good ol’ friends fight the snow to meet us… God was on our side and so was Giant Jesus!” Ah, cleverness.

We left around midnight to go home, but neither R nor I wanted to! We had so much fun. Good friends, good food, and good conversation. All in toasty old buildings. Can’t beat it.

Picnic Time!

We headed down to Wichita last Friday to attend one of R’s childhood friend’s wedding. The next turned out to be an absolutely gorgeous spring day. I’m fast becoming a spring fan and I won’t hide it. We decided to picnic it up, and R senior (my R does not have the same name as R senior, but just for clarification’s sake) took us to a lake in the absolute middle of nowhere.

The sky was blue, you could see for miles, and nature was to be breathed in by both our skin and our lungs. I closed my eyes, quickly reopened them, and then soaked it all in. We had been traveling in our car for the four weekends prior and so this was the first chance we had to stretch our legs in the open air.

This lake was interesting. It had peninsulas strung along the length of it, and so we parked & set up shop on one of them. If you look one way, you see the path to the middle of the lake. If you turned your head back towards the road, you were greeted with a horse eating in the sunlight. Peace and quiet.

We plopped down on a natural stone table, and laid out our spread. Fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and veggies. After driving for 5 hours in a tight girdle and sharing a few glasses of champagne with the wedding party, this is exactly what a girl needed.

After lunch, we spent the next couple hours exploring. R senior scouted the area for eagles. We’ve come to realize how similar he is to my dad. They both enjoy bird-watching, they both like to tout their steak-grilling abilities, and there was one other one. For the life of me, I can’t remember the third one. It was eerie. But maybe this is just the retiree’s checklist. Is there some sort of initiation you have to go through? 1) Find a robin and try to imitate it’s call 2) Grill a medium-rare steak seasoned only with worcestershire and seasoning salt. Now compliment yourself. 3) Do something else, but Carolyn can’t remember it.

After leaving the waterfall, we walked to a fork in the path. Of course we should go the way we haven’t been yet, I yelled. It was nice for a while.

Until the trail ended and we had no clear way to get back.

like mother like son, no face allowed.
We rested for a bit after our “excursion” and watched the boys play frisbee. J found a little tree that had Christmas decorations scattered around it.

All in all, a great day. By the way, we made steaks that night when we got home…. and yes, they were go-od!

Pre-Surprise Party

Neither I nor R checked the weather for the surprise party weekend. I was planning on wearing a short-sleeved top, and we barely tossed in our coats at the last second. It had ended up snowing all morning last Saturday. Nice.

My sister, A, came over for lunch at my parent’s house. Mom placed a very farm-esque meal on a very farm-esque table cloth. Roast and vegetables. I was so happy! Dad must have been excited too, because I caught him turning the pepper mill at a frightening speed.

That’s enough pepper, dad.

Earlier that day, I picked up R’s bday gift (cigars) and went to the shop my uncle suggested. It has a walk-in humidor and the moment you step into the shop, your nose fills with all sorts of wonderful smells. Loose tobacco leaves for pipes has to be one of my top ten smells.

I asked the worker some questions based off info from “Unc” and then my dad whispered to me to ask him where they keep their Cubans. I thought he was embarrassed to ask himself and so lifted my head high and decided to be my father’s champion. I will not let my dad get embarrassed! I walked over to the employee and a split second before the question came out of my mouth, I thought two things: 1) Does dad ever let on that he doesn’t know something? and then 2) why does the phrase “Cuban cigars” do a little ring-a-ling in my head?

I turned slowly to look at dad and he was slightly laughing in the corner. That didn’t stop him from asking the guy later “Hey — my daughter was wondering where you keep the cubans.” Whatever!

Later, he and R enjoyed one together in the below-freezing weather.
After our meal, we (surprise!) played a game. R taught us a new card game and it was decent. It would have been great if I didn’t have to sit across from R and watch him shove chocolate cake down his throat every two seconds. I can’t get that image out of my head. At one point, though, my mom just started throwing her cards out into the middle because she couldn’t reach, causing a huge ruckus. My sister retaliated and started throwing cards at her. We’re pretty wild and crazy.
Thanks for the pre-party, everyone!

Surprise Party

When little J saw the green shirt K put on, he said, “Mom! Your shirt’s too small!”. K said she should have worn her capris with it just to have really thrown him a curve ball.
There are certain people that can bring out the best in me. A couple of those people are my friends K & R. Most times when I enter into a group of people cold (and quite frankly, sometimes when it’s a warm situation too — there are times I never feel quite at ease) I tend to over-compensate in certain areas of my interaction. Either I stay pigeon-holed in my “role” within the group, or I end up having that one glass of wine too many due to nerves and sever any sort of meaningful memories. However, as long as I have K in the room, I always feel empowered and confident. Maybe it’s just because she laughs at all my jokes. I dunno..

But a good litmus test of a person is by the people with whom they surround themselves. And judging by the group I was sitting with, K & R apparently are witty, intelligent, gracious, and interesting people. (But I already knew that.) Before we showed up for R’s 30th birthday party, I asked K for a bit of information on some of the couples. I was bound and determined to not let my nerves get the best of me, and planned on being the resident reporter… using K’s biographies to question them with machine gun-speed. Turned out, it was unnecessary. They were all mini-replicas of K & R. Quick to laugh, tease, listen sincerely, and talk openly. At one point, K yelled “Why is the table of people that don’t know each other laughing the loudest? Remember that R and I are the common denominators!!!” It was such a good experience, and does nothing but compliment the people who brought us together.
R-squared have something in common: they don’t like their faces on my blog. I’ll respect their privacy, but I had to include part of the scared look on R’s face when his mother-in-law ordered a 5 liter bottle of red. A hush fell on the crowd as if we were paying last respects to our good sense.

I wasn’t the only one trying to document R’s night. He had his own personal entourage of paps watching his every move. If only they had all turned just slightly to their left, I would have been a bit happier.

We made the birthday boy walk around and pour everyone’s drink as well. He filled my glass way up because he must have known I had to sit next to the hottest picture of Sophia Loren in the joint. Seriously. I was jealous.

Afterwards we went to a couple more places while the grandparents babysat the kidlets in the hotel room. Ended up being a wonderful night. R was surprised and seemed to really enjoy himself and really, that was our goal. Consider it accomplished.

Once-a-year Dinner

Really. Only once a year. And I think we completely skipped over 2008. Weird how time is flying by.

After driving for 4 hours through a wonderful Missouri landscape, letting R sleep, and me soaking in the scenery, we arrived in Sedalia to our friends, L & T’s, house. We showed up shortly after the other caravan, and as we walked up to the door, a pile of kids came sauntering outside. I weaved my way through the tiny group and eventually made it to the front door. L laughed that, after we saw all the kids, she was afraid we would turn right around and drive home. The roomful of children was sticker shock, for sure, …but more like a scratch-n-sniff sticker rather than a deer-in-the-headlights shock. Times have changed, my friends, and that’s just fine. If the new times include dancing with dolls to the Oldies and listening to stories being read in all corners of the house, I’m happy with it thank you very much.

That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t take me awhile to fit in with the younger crowd, though. I wandered around the house for a bit and caught some wary looks from a few of the peanuts. They weren’t too sure of me and my fears were confirmed when a boy started crying after I laughed. Apparently, times have not changed, my friends, and I guess that’s fine too.

At one point, I looked around to find R playing with the magnetic letters on the fridge. I guess he can easily fit in with any crowd, old or young.

Not too long afterwards, we made R grow up by about 25 years and help the carve the turkey (yes — turkey!!). We started off with cheese & crackers and then went straight for the gusto. If this didn’t make up for 2008, I don’t know what would. All of the classic Thanksgiving trimmings without the “I have to get into a swimsuit soon” guilt. I was in heaven, and that was unfortunate for everyone involved. Just read the “About Me” section of the blog to get the full idea of how my portion of the night went.

After dinner (and after the kids went to sleep), we all headed downstairs to play some board games. Cranium was the game of choice and it wasn’t how well someone did that everyone got a kick out of, it was how badly skilled we were that was the clincher.

S showed off her rendition (left) of a scarecrow, next to R’s drawing of the same clue. By the end, no matter who was supposed to draw, we all ended up just looking at R’s paper to try and guess. I found my ‘moose’ masterpiece stabbed through the heart later on as well. Our lack of skills really brought the passion out in people. R spent the ride home giving me tips on how to draw. Really. He had the gall to say “You know, the clue with the fly-swatter. Where you went wrong was the fly itself. You should stick to drawing a heart and then adding a little dot at the tip.” Oh, okay. I’ll remember that R. (Whatever. I like my mini seagulls.)

All in all, a good night. I can always count on L’s small baskets of shampoo, conditioner, and shower gel along with reading material within arms-reach of my bed. The next day we had to leave early for two detours en route to Arkansas. Both were enjoyable in their own ways. More to come.


We got lost not once on Little Corn, but twice. TWICE. You can walk around the island in about 35 minutes, but that didn’t stop us from wishing we had a GPS system. When we hopped off the panga, we got general directions on how to get to Carlito’s, which was my first hut choice. In my first blog post, way back last year, I alluded to the fact that I am a planner. Not laid back at all. So when I called Carlitos this past summer to “reserve” a hut, the woman that answered kindly laughed. Really hard. She kept repeating the year in which we would be arriving. Was 6 months too far in advance? Guess so.

So even before lying on a beach for 7 days, I was already thrown into nonchalant mentality… even if I had to be dragged into it kicking and screaming.

We took the directions given to us and started down the main road, which in reality is a sidewalk (no cars are allowed on the island.)

After taking a few wrong turns and asking everyone we passed where the huts were, we finally made it. We snagged only one of a couple available.

There were constants that we noticed happening daily throughout the week. For one, I never brushed my hair. Secondly, we talked about food nonstop. Where shall we eat today, what shall we eat, wasn’t that meal good, can’t you just wait until tomorrow’s meals, why can’t tomorrow come more quickly, etc etc etc. Food was the surprising star of the trip.
More on that later.
Some other constants were:

Waking up to the sound of waves and watching the sun rise.
R washing the one shirt he wore all week.
After reading for a couple hours, taking a dip in the sea.

Lying in our netted bed to read while our sunburnt skin healed.

And lastly, playing Boggle every night after dinner (Can you believe I brought that in my carry-on? It made me giggle to myself). R was great competition and I don’t think I won once.

Another pastime was walking. and walking. and walking. We went everywhere on that island …trying to find coves to snorkel and relax by. The jungle we walked through was absolutely gorgeous though. And because of the small dirt paths, it felt like you were the only ones on this little place.

A random sand volleyball court.

R and I noticed a pattern in how we walk. I always look up and he always looks down. I can’t help trying to soak in everything around me, and R can’t help being practical with everything around him. One time, as normal, my eyes were to the sky and his were to the dirt. Thank goodness too, because I almost stepped right on a boa. I’m not exaggerating here. R screamed at me and pulled my arm back before I did.

Another day, we decided to head to a lookout tower. And yes, we got lost. We were cutting through random people’s yards when a father & son duo helped us out. We were probably walking all over their garden or something.

We finally made it and my heart palpitated a bit. Does anyone remember when R, his brother, and I went up the one in Arkansas? I think back and wonder why I was so scared. At least there were actual landings to brace yourself there. I forced myself up this one and was so glad I did.

I was gripping the pole with all my might. Notice my hair.

I mentioned how much we enjoyed the food. There was so much to choose from (and really, at the same time, not so much. It was pretty much the same food, just different preparation styles). My favorite snacks were the ‘pan de coco’ (coconut bread) and cinnamon bread. Children would go from hut to hut with their freshly baked goodies and we’d gobble them up (the bread, not the children. Although, from the look in my ravenous eye I’m sure they thought I lived in a gingerbread house back home.)

R discovered french toast all over again, with coconut syrup drizzled on pan de coco. It was a crowd pleaser and we got excited just thinking of it when we woke up in the morning. Good food does that to ya.

Our last night in LCI, we splurged and bought some of our favorites. The lobster, fish, and shrimp platter. The cook brought her husband over to double check her english skills, because she didn’t believe that we would order so much. We did and we loved it.

We said goodbye to LCI and made our way back to BCI for our flight home. We had met some interesting people while vacationing, a couple of whom we ran into again before we flew home. Up next: Searching for the soul of the world on Big Corn Island.


**pre-recorded post**

One of the first things I noticed in our new town was the hight percentage of taquerias. There were big ones, small ones, clean ones, dirty ones…all sorts. One of these nights, R and I will do a ‘taqueria crawl’ and try many in one night. I pass by one everyday on my way to work. At night, the lights are lit up which is an instant bonus with me.

This is part of our “downtown”. It’s one street of buildings badly in need of repair. And, of course, that’s why I like it.

And here it is. Taqueria. I don’t even know it’s real name. There are no seats inside. Just a little window and some chairs around the sidewalk. Homemade tortillas and simple flavoring of cilantro and lime. Very clean tasting.

R would have a heart attack if he got this plate. Onions are his nemesis and honestly, he probably wouldn’t eat this just because part of the onions touched the other ingredients. I try to modify recipes for him and so sitting down to something like this is heaven to me.

Date Night

R romantically suggested we go out to eat last Saturday. Little did I know he meant at the Sam’s Club sample counters. Lucky for me, I had my camera because I could not believe the portion sizes. We’d have date night here every time if it were up to me.

[Side note, and this is just completely random. If anyone else gets frustrated that even though you want to use your credit card here — say for flight miles or something — and can’t, we devised a plan. You buy a Walmart giftcard for however much you think you’re going to spend and then use the giftcard in Sams. I know. We’re geniuses. This has two bonuses — 1) You get your credit card rewards and 2) it helps limit how much you spend. If you’re anything like us, as soon as you walk through the doors, you suddenly turn Donald Trumpish and start asking loudly why isn’t everything gilded, because you really prefer to buy things packaged in 14 kt gold…and for that matter, can’t you just buy the gold in bulk?]
So we wandered around a bit, looking for christmas presents and buying household items. Then we saw the crowds. You know where the good stuff is by the hustle and bustle near sample counters.

That guy in the brown jacket got seconds, I just know it.

People really crack me up though. As we were standing in line for our entree of buffalo wings (complete with celery and blue cheese dressing), we noticed two ladies continuously standing by the server. It was only when we got close enough that I heard the server say, “You need to stand in line” and one of the ladies said, “Well, we’ll just be after the girl in the scarf.”

That was me. And I was happy to be called a girl. One time a magazine seller came by our place and he basically insinuated that R looked 10 years younger than me. And by basically insinuating, I mean he said, “Wow, he looks ten years younger.”

So as we get our entree [yes, still in date mode], I turn to leave and behind me I heard the ladies point out exactly which wings they wanted to be served. I had to laugh! Weren’t these samples? Maybe they really were on a date.

We stopped by the furniture section to watch part of “Ice Age” and who knows how long afterwards, we decided it was time for dessert. Again, I scanned for hungry crowds and spotted one in the bakery. R and I literally gasped out loud when we saw the sample. A whole slice of cake?? We were in heaven. R really knows how to pull out all the stops when taking his lady out.

After piling a few more things into our cart and watching a little bit more of Ice Age, we meandered down this aisle only to find a lonely sample server. Why wasn’t anyone invading her personal space? Intrigued we went over, only to find that the reason she looked so happily alone was because it was… [silent whisper]….. healthy. I bet she raised her hand so fast when they were discussing ‘sample schedules’ at the weekly employee meeting because she knew no one would bother her.

We looked at her as if she were the person handing out toothbrushes on Halloween. We want fat and grease on our date night, thank you very much. But just like on Halloween, you never turn anything down…so we helped ourselves to some gala apples just because we could. Besides, we needed to cleanse our palates for…

Blissfully cutting up apples in silence.
right-out-of-the-toaster-oven chocolate chip cookies!! Now that’s what we’re talking about. R went back for seconds and I just missed getting a shot of him and that little boy get into a scuffle. Apparently the boy announced, “Steer clear, ears is here!” and pushed his way to the front. No one stands between R and his cookies…anyone west of the Mississippi knows that, little kid. [tumbleweed blows by]
Sams is a time-warp and I really don’t know how long we were there, but we crossed some major things off our to-do list. It was a good feeling to arrive home stuffed and accomplished.