Wednesday, December 21, 2011

We Wish You A Merry Christmas


As I sit here writing this, I realize how much things have changed since the movie “Holiday Inn” when Bing Crosby sat at his piano crooning about his dreams for a White Christmas.

As I write this, my daughter is “talking” at the top of her lungs about going to Build A Bear Workshop and well, at least I have good old Bing playing on iTunes…that is until Maddie demands I put on “The Teddy Song” and it isn’t in honor of our trip to build her a bear, rather a song by the girl who plays Teddy on Good Luck Charlie (you have to watch Disney Channel on a regular basis to get this reference.)

Yes, the Holidays certainly have changed, but I guess that image I have was just a movie, and for all we know Bing went and drank a fifth of scotch and smoked a pipe after that scene was shot.  Either way, he helped create one of the fondest memories of Christmas that I carry on with me to this day.

See, I grew with my grandparents and a mom who plopped me in front of MGM musicals instead of Sesame Street.  My all time favorite movie is "Singin’ in the Rain" and really anything with Gene Kelly. My favorite Christmas album is Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gourmet’s “Happy Holiday.”  One year Tom spent an entire day hunting down the “Meet Me In St. Louis” DVD because I am a sucker for Judy Garland’s “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.” I’ll be the first to admit, I am a total nerd.

For me these movies and their music represent one of the best parts of my childhood, my grandfather.  As I’ve said before, had he been discovered he would have given any member of the Rat Pack a run for their money.  He could sing, he could dance and had one of the best senses of humor I’ve ever come across.  I’d like to think he helped develop my quick wit. 


When it came to Christmas, he was Clark Griswold before there was a Clark Griswold, but used much better judgment and better taste when it came to Holiday d├ęcor.  Of course, sine he was such a perfectionist, decorating had some very specific rules.

  1. Not a single Chrismas decoration was put up until at least December 18th. (I realize now that probably also had a lot to do with frugality, another one of his fine qualities.)
  2. We could not take down the decorations until Little Christmas (The Epiphany) on January 6th.  That also meant we could not put the Wiseman at the manger scene until this date since the Epiphany celebrated their arrival at the manger and when they gave baby Jesus the gold, frankincense and myrrh.
  3. Our Christmas tree always had the same ornaments, gold balls (small, medium and large), gold teardrop ornaments, and crystal ornaments.  If they weren’t part of this collection, they didn’t belong on the tree.  If they weren’t gold or crystal, they didn’t belong on the tree. If they were handmade, they ABSOLUTELY did not belong on the tree.
  4. Only white twinkle lights were allowed.
  5. Only gold garland and it had to be perfectly measured distance between each row. (Yes, he and my mom would pull out yardstick to measure to make sure)

Despite these strict rules, it was fun and exciting.  There was holly, Santas and Poinsettias everywhere and there were candy canes on every lampshade. As we got older and liked to play tricks on my grandpa and we would try to sneak red ornaments, candy canes or clothespin reindeers on the tree to see if he would notice.  He ALWAYS did.  We had another Christmas tree in the basement that was for “kid” ornaments.

My freshman year of college, I told my grandpa that I wanted to come home for Christmas break and have the house all decorated, like a Folgers coffee commercial.  Of course, I was getting home before December 18, so I pretty much assumed rather than having it already decorated, I would be holding a yardstick up to the tree to measure garland.  My grandpa was the one who happened to pick me up from school and when I got down to the car, he was actually asleep.  He was not the type of person to fall asleep in a parked car…that was my dad’s M.O.  I knocked on his window and startled him.  He seemed a little embarrassed that I had caught him taking a short winter’s nap.  I got in the car and half-joked about his sleepiness and he explained that he had been up late finishing the Christmas decorations.  That was my Pa.  I still think that part of his efforts were really to create a distraction from my grandmother's erratic behavior especially during the Holiday's, but that is a whole other story.

Of course, despite all his best efforts, Christmas was always a little bit more “blue” than “silver and gold” for me.  I guess the first reason would be that we were the kids who got apples and oranges in their stockings and not because my mom was a health-nut.  Socks and underwear were considered “gifts” and thanks to my middle brother, Mark, I stopped believing in Santa at the ripe old age of four.  I’ll never forget that fateful day in Jewel when I innocently asked my mom how many more days until Santa came.  My brother had just turned nine and promptly said, “There’s no Santa, STUPID!”  I was confused, devastated, but ultimately found his cruel words were a reality when we found all of our Christmas gifts hidden in a wheelbarrow covered with a blanket the next week.

Then there was the fact that I was fully aware at an early age that we had no money.  At first I didn’t realize that it wasn’t normal to live with your grandparents.  I didn’t realize that most dads worked, unlike mine.  Once I started school and saw how other “normal” families functioned and heard the long lists of gifts my friends at school had gotten, I realized we were far from “normal.”

Based on this information, I also knew that when our car broke down without fail every November or December, that that meant that there was likely limited funds available for “Santa” (a.k.a. my single mom who worked her ass off to provide for us.)  I knew when my mom was wrapping our presents and could sense her stress with each piece of scotch tape she used to secure the wrapping paper.  Despite all her efforts, she never got Christmas presents.  Even before my parents divorced when I was ten, she didn’t get pearl earrings or diamond necklaces from my dad.  She didn’t even get a box of chocolates.  I remember being really young and feeling bad for my mom so I found a little jewelry box and put a penny, a piece of yarn that I placed in a swirl, a Hershey Kiss and some other “trinkets.”  That was all I had to give to her and knew it wasn’t the “best gift ever,” but I felt the need to give her something.  I don’t know if she remembers that, appreciated it or knew how sincere my intent was, but perhaps now she will.

As the years wore on, I learned that beyond my family’s stress around the Holiday’s, I grew into my seasonal depression and eventually learned how lonely the Holiday’s can be when you are chronically single.  I longed for those romantic Christmases under the mistletoe, fun-filled New Year’s with fancy dresses, champagne and kissing the man of my dreams at midnight. (betcha didn’t know I am a closet romantic?)  But those were non-existent and I spent many years favoring Sarah McLachlan “Song For A Winter’s Night” and Faith Hill’s “Where Are You Christmas” over “Sleigh Ride!”

Fast-forward several years and now I have my own Holiday magic.  Let’s start with Tom.  They say you marry a man like your father and since that would be a monumentally bad idea, I chose the next best thing, someone like my grandpa.  Tom has the same zeal when it comes to Christmas and enjoys putting snowmen and Santas on every flat surface.  He even bought a 6-foot Santa one year.  Since we have outgrown our house, our giant Santa now lives at grandma and grandpa’s house.  As much as I am sure the kids would enjoy having him around, I always had a mini-heart attach when I came down the stairs because I thought there was a man standing in my family room.  Tom also LOVES winter and even went so far as to build a hockey rink in our backyard this year.  I only approved this idea because my grandpa use to freeze the yard when my mom was a kid and well as when we were kids.

Tom looks at Christmas the eyes of a child. (I won’t mention the various other things he also sees through the eyes of a child…)  Second, he made all my romantic Holiday movie dreams come true by proposing to me three days before Christmas.  We went downtown to the Art Institute and he proposed in the Stock Exchange Room.  We had some history with that room from the first time we dated several years prior and went to the Art Institute on a date.  We never managed to find the room that time. 

Now that we have children, Christmas has a whole new meaning.  If you ever want to shift your perspective on Christmas and what it is all about, have kids.  It is fun to get excited along with them and make all their Christmas wishes come true.  I have gone from being the Grinch to Santa.  I even sprint downstairs first thing in the morning to make sure our Elf on the Shelf is hidden when I forget.  I don’t dare do anything to shatter their fragile imaginations.  I sit at Maddie’s Holiday recital and cry at her rendition of “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” complete with hand gestures and clapping 3-beats off everyone else.

However, I also find the biggest challenge is to make sure we don’t over-do it on Christmas. I cringe every time they see a commercial during the weeks leading up to Christmas for all the latest games and toys.  If I had a penny for each time I here, “Oh, MOM!  Can I have that please??? Pretty please!!!??” I could pay for all the things they are asking for.   I want to give them the world, but have to hold back.  While we do make sure that we get the kids nice gifts, I have been very adamant about teaching the kids about giving to others, especially to those in need.  I’ll have to admit, it has been tricky incorporating Santa into the whole concept, since in their mind’s Santa visits all the houses of all the boys and girls.  So we simplified it and said that since the people we are giving to are so poor, they don’t have homes for Santa to go to.  It seemed much easier than telling her that there is no such thing as Santa and discussing various socio-economic statuses.

I decided to give up on doing goody bags for the kids to bring to school because that seems to be the “norm” in preschool.  See article I wrote for Kane County Magazine.  http://www.kanecountymagazine.com/articles/2011/09/28/family/index.xml I started with donating to UNICEF for Halloween and did a donation to Toys for Tots for Christmas.  I also made sure I explained, at least to Maddie who understands, what I did.  I made a cutout of a Christmas stocking and put one Candy Cane on it with a note saying that our family made a donation on behalf of the class.  This way, the kids still get to bring a treat and I put the money I would spend on useless toys and candy they don’t need and put it towards a good cause.

I have had several conversations with Maddie about why we donate money, clothes and food to the poor.  I’ve explained the giving tree at church and why her teacher asks that instead of giving her a gift at Christmas that we bring an unwrapped gift for her to donate.  I explained that some people don’t have money and have given examples of why. I explained that many kids don’t have lots of toys like they do.  That some kids don’t get to go to Target and pick things out at random, even from the dollar bin.   I told her that some kids don’t even have food or clothes and we need to help them out.  I even briefly explained to her at one point that I didn’t have money when I was a kid.  I explained that I lived with my grandparents because we couldn’t afford our own home. 

After a trip to Target this week to get the toys for Maddie to bring to her teacher, we were talking about what charity we should donate to for her class.  We decided on Toys for Tots.  She was quiet for a few minutes and then said, “Well, mom, you were poor when you were little, right?” 

“Yes,” I replied.

“Well, did people have to donate to you and your family so you could have toys?”

“Well, Maddie, luckily I had grandparents who made sure I had presents under the tree at Christmas.”  At that point, I sat right there in the turn lane and cried.  I pulled myself together enough to add, “GiGi and Pa were my angels even before they went to heaven.”

If not for my mom working her ass off for us, my grandparents and other family members there to support us, we so very easily could have been on the receiving end of the “Giving Tree” at church.  We could have been the ones in line at the food pantry collecting food that other families donated.  While I don’t want to weigh my young kids with “the heavy stuff” too early in life, I think it is never too young to teach them about gratitude and giving, especially to those less fortunate.  I never want to have my kids carry the weight of the world on their shoulders as I did growing up, but I don’t ever want them to take what they have for granted either.  I don’t want to hide where I came from, but don’t want to pull the old “when I was your age I use to walk to school with shoes with holes and no socks in the snow and freezing weather, uphill, backwards and then ate grizzle for dinner.”  That wasn’t how it was at all.  I took the bus.

All kidding aside, my real message is that one that my mom taught me a long time ago and helps me avoid getting caught up in “the material things” and ensures that I always remember those in need, “There is always someone better off, and always someone worse off than us.  There’s no use worrying about who has what.”  My other message is what my family taught me and that is you never turn a blind-eye to those in need. 

Of course we can't ignore teaching our kids the real "reason for the season" and explain that it is Jesus' birthday and we have the Advent calendar (which I hope serves its purpose beyond feeding their need for sweets.)  Luckily, if our lessons at home and at church are lost, the kids both go to Lutheran Preschools and it is taught there.  A few weeks ago Maddie had her dance recital and one of the teachers came up to me at the end and said that while the kids were waiting for the show to begin they were all coloring Christmas pictures.  Maddie flipped her paper over and started her own free-hand picture of Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus.  She kept asking the teacher how to spell each one of their names while all the other kids were coloring Santas and Christmas trees.  Atta girl, way to rack up points with the Big Guy Upstairs.

We will spoil our children this Christmas, but at least I know that we also made efforts not only to be charitable because “we should,” but because we can and am thankful for that.  Most importantly, we need  to focus on how good it feels to give to others.  I am also happy that, at least in some way, my 4-year old daughter has an understanding of that and hope that despite her undying need for an Easy Bake Oven, she will know how lucky she is that we….I mean “Santa,” got her one.



Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Mark Cuban's Book "How to Win at the Sport of Business"






I totally dig Mark Cuban. I really got to know more about him a few years a go when there was talk he was considering purchasing the Chicago Cubs. My husband heard that if you email him, he almost always responds. Turns out, that's not a lie. Then I saw him on "Dancing With The Stars" and appearances on "Entourage." I have read several of his blogs on http://blogmaverick.com/ and became even more enamored with his straightforward viewpoint and writing style.


So, after reading the book, I highly recommend it. It was a quick read, full of down-to-earth pieces of advice and words of wisdom. He never talks down to the reader and makes you believe that anything is possible. He did an interview specifically to mom-preneurs that you can read below.


Best of all, you can enter to win two Landmark movie tickets if you go to http://on.fb.me/HDMoviesKidScene.


One part in your book I loved and my heart sank at is when your fiance
lost your $7500 ring.  What's your advice for those moms out there who are distracted by a relationship? How do you balance a real life with your dreams?

I never was able to balance. Each person has to make their own
decisions. But remember, your competitors aren’t sitting by idly
waiting for you to have a nice dinner with your significant other.
They are trying to kick your ass. So choose wisely.

Mark, you mentioned that you were approached countless times to write a memoir but instead chose to ePublish.  Why?

The time obligations of a traditional release were more than I was willing to undertake. I couldn’t ask for advances and then not want to do a book tour.  Plus, the editorial deadlines were much more forgiving. I made changes hours before the final release.

You have three kids. What life lessons do you give them so that they don't
go through all the heartache that you've gone through?

That is a life-long process . My oldest daughter is just 8, so we are
still dealing with the basics.  But I try to do some things in my
businesses that are great for my kids. For instance, we changed the
programming on HDNet Movies so that every morning we run commercial-free, kid and family-friendly movies. I was mad that my kids always
were so excited about commercials they saw in their favorite shows
that I wanted to give them a commercial-free environment.


One of my favorite parts of your book, How to Win at the Sport of Business, that completely broke my heart was when your ex-secretary robbed your first company of over $83,000, leaving you only $2000 after a year of work.  If there are moms out there that have lost everything, what advice do you have for them to pick themselves back up?

Keep working. Don’t feel sorry for yourself because it won’t do any good.


There are many young moms who are just beginning their lives and can relate to
you when you said you were sharing a small apartment with 6 people and
sleeping on the floor.  How can someone keep their eye on the prize when they’re
living on Ramen noodles?

Who cares how you are living today? I loved every minute of living in
that dump. The low rent and utilities and eating Mac n’ Cheese all
the time allowed me to afford the startup of my business. Instead of
paying myself much, I could put it in to my business.

Where can we get a copy of your eBook, How to Win at the Sport of Business?
Anywhere eBooks are sold: Amazon, BN.com, and sites that support independent bookstores too.

Monday, December 5, 2011

"No Problem" My Ass

There’s a saying you hear and see everywhere you go in Jamaica.  “No Problem!”  That was until Tom and Michelle Stien arrived.

While Tom and I have so much to be thankful for, we aren’t particularly “lucky” people when it comes to winning contests, lotteries, or things going smoothly in general.  As Tom always says, “If my raffle ticket was the only one in the drawing, I still wouldn’t win.” Or “If it weren’t for bad luck, we’d have no luck at all.”  Just think back to my unfortunate cab experience on Tom's birthday!

We thought we had beaten the odds this time around. Tom won a sales contest at work that meant an all expense paid trip to Jamaica for 5 days and 4 nights.  Tom and I haven’t been on a vacation (alone) since our honeymoon.   We were supposed to go to Cancun before Maddie was born, but a hurricane obliterated the whole region a week before our trip.  We’ve never left the kids for more than two days and while we were apprehensive about leaving them, we knew that we both desperately needed this trip.

After a great deal of coordination between packing our stuff, the kids’ stuff, and getting them to Tom’s parents, we were on our way.  We arrived in Jamaica at about noon on Thursday.  Unfortunately, it was overcast and not exactly warm.  We finally made it to the hotel, secured our dinner reservations, excursion schedules and headed to our room.  We were told we had an ocean-view on the fifth floor.  SWEET! Of course, the room key did not work and the bell-hop had to take us back to the front desk to get our room changed.  We arrived at our second room and it had two double beds.  Sorry, haven’t been on a trip alone in almost 8 years, sleeping in separate beds is NOT an option nor is sharing a bed smaller than the one we sleep in at home despite the fact we wouldn’t have any kids or pets joining us.

We finally got settled in our room and it was time to eat lunch.  The weather was still not looking so good, so rather than drink the afternoon away, I headed up for a nap. When I woke up it was raining.  Fan-frickin-tastic.  Luckily it was almost time for dinner by that time and within the hour the rain had subsided.  We headed to dinner, but I still felt a little unsettled.  I hadn’t called the kids yet and wasn’t even sure how to call home based on the whole cell phone situation on the island.  I had had my phone enabled to make calls from Jamaica, but I knew it would cost a small fortune.  Tom suggested I set my mind at ease and head upstairs to call them before bedtime.  I tried calling and it wouldn’t go through. I called T-Mobile to see if there was some sort of code and after being on hold for 15 minutes, it took the guy another 15 to pull up the information.  I got back to the table at dinner just as they were about to take my plate away and Tom suggested I just hang up and wait until the morning and call from our hotel room instead.  I ate my dinner and had a glass of wine and tried to relax and enjoy the rest of my evening.

We headed to the hotel bar after dinner, but since we were staying at the Ritz Carlton, it was pretty conservative and certainly didn’t have a nightclub of any kind.  Not that I am complaining about staying at a Ritz Carlton, but I was hoping to do some dancing to Bob Marley.  I headed up to bed because we were supposed to go on a dune buggy tour in the morning.  I’ll admit I wasn’t real jazzed about the dune buggies.  As fun as it sounds, I just wanted to park my ass by the pool and relax.  I hate to admit this, but ultimately I cried myself to sleep because I missed my kids, I was worried that the weather was going to suck and I was never going to get the relaxing tropical vacation I longed for.  Tom said I absolutely did not have to go on the dune buggy tour and I could just stay behind and chill by the pool.  I love my husband.

I woke up the next morning and the skies were blue and the sun was shining.  I had breakfast, relaxed for a while and then headed to the hotel gym once Tom left for the excursion.  I enjoyed a workout without worrying about Colin getting kicked out of the childcare center or having to leave to go pick up someone from school, take Maddie to dance class or any of the other “life” things from home.  The only thing I was in a hurry to do is get to the pool before I lost sun time.  I did get through to the kids and was happy to hear they were doing well with grandma and grandpa. 

I was finally in vacation mode.  I put on my bathing suit and cover-up and headed to the pool.  I was able to chat with one of the other wives, have a fruity drink and have lunch on the beach.  Tom returned and had a BLAST, but was covered in mud.  We both enjoyed our day on our own terms.  Tom headed up for a nap and one of the other wives and I headed to the shops to pick up some souvenirs.  I returned back to spend some time with Tom before heading to our dinner with the group.

The dinner was at the Jerk Center on the beach and then we all headed to the hotel bar where as luck would have it, there was a woman singing Bob Marley.  Finally, I got to cut loose and dance.  Unfortunately, I cut loose just a little too much and woke up feeling pretty rough around the edges.  We were supposed to go on a catamaran, but figured it was cancelled due to high winds like it had been the day before.  Of course, ours was still a-go and I was a bit concerned that the mixture of my hangover and history of motion sickness was going to make for the longest 3-hour tour of my life.  We set sail and sure enough we hit some major swells.  I could feel the vodka swishing in my stomach with each wave and within a half-hour I was puking into a plastic bag.  I felt better, but it was only temporary and I found myself losing it one more time.  The people of Jamaica are so courteous and kind, so I can’t think of a better group of people to toss my cookies in front of.

I was finally feeling better, when the other flip-flop dropped.  Tom informed me that his insulin pump wasn’t working.  As many of you know, Tom was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes when he was 9 years old and has been insulin dependent ever since.  He used to have to take shots, but he made the decision to go on the pump before Maddie was born since it gave him better control over his blood sugar. 

Once we returned from the excursion, we tried changing the battery and then called the manufacturer to see if there was some sort of quick fix for the error he was getting.  When that did work, we had to switch modes and find a way to get some insulin into Tom.  I went to the nurse at the hotel and we were lucky she had ONE lone needle to offer us.  The next step was to talk to the group coordinating our trip and see if we could get a flight home ASAP.  Even though we had one needle, it still meant Tom would have to constantly deliver insulin to his body like the pump did.  This is going to get a little technical, but before he was on the pump and gave himself shots, he used two different kinds of insulin, one that was long acting and one that was short acting.  Now he only uses short acting on a regular basis.  He had plenty of insulin with him since when we were on our honeymoon, his insulin went bad and he was miserable and could barely eat or drink anything (like I said, we have horrible luck).  Therefore, he no longer has the long acting insulin readily available.  Basically he wouldn’t be able to eat or drink much and wake up every hour to check his blood and take insulin. Even if we went to the hospital to get the long acting insulin, he had no idea how much to take since it had been so long since he has taken it.  He was concerned if he took too much, he would go low and that can be fatal.  We have had to call 911 for this in the past and it seemed like a huge risk to have this happen in a foreign country.  Ultimately, neither one of us would have been able to enjoy ourselves with the all the work and worry necessary to keep Tom alive.  We decided the safest best thing to do was head home.

I headed down to eat some lunch and within 20 minutes Tom came down to tell me we had to leave.  I left my uneaten lunch and packed our bags in 15 minutes.  Before I knew it, we were on our way home.  I’m not gonna lie, the first thing I did was cry and feel sorry for Tom and myself.  What the hell did we do to deserve this?  I think we are fairly good people.  Tom works really hard at his job and has never won a trip before while many of those on the trip were rattling off the various company-paid-for trips they had been on.  We are committed parents to our children.  We give to others.  Why us?

But I wiped away my tears because the first thing I thought of was our kids.  As much as I needed time away from the monotony of my daily grind, I missed them like crazy.  There were several babies and young kids staying at our hotel and every time I would see one of them, my heart ached a little bit.  I didn’t want to walk through the resort sobbing because I figured I didn’t need to bring anyone down and besides, they would probably think something awful happened like someone died.  Then it really sunk in.  There were so many worse things we could be going home for.  Furthermore, we have such a wonderful life to return to.  While we were at the airport Tom stopped dead in his tracks and turned and looked at me.  He said I could have stayed behind and he could have just come home on his own.  I could not have even imagined staying behind.  One thing that we have learned and made abundantly clear over the years is that we are a team.  Through thick and thin, the only way to make it through life is to do it together.  After all, we made vows for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.

I am not ready for death to do us part.

Then we started to think of all the “silver linings.”  Tom mentioned that maybe since so many other things in our life are good, all the other things we consider “good luck” aren’t really that important.  All I knew is that having my husband alive is much more important than two more days on a beach.  So, we made a list of all these silver linings to remind us how lucky we truly are and cope with our complete bummer of a situation.  Many of these things came up as we were waiting for our flight in utter disbelieve that we were heading home, or on the plane, or at home listening to our kids whine, cry, misbehave, thinking “right now we would be sitting by the pool.” Many of these items made us laugh, which is one of the major benefits to marrying your best friend.  So, here they are:

  1. Tom is alive.
  2. We got to see our kids.
  3. They were soooo happy to see us and we got the biggest hugs and kisses EVER.
  4. Our livers will thank us later.
  5. We decreased our chances of skin cancer.
  6. I don’t really like rum drinks anyway.
  7. Tom and I got to have a “bowling date” playing on his iPad on the plane on our way home.
  8. We still got to go to Jamaica for 2.5 days.
  9. I’ve never been to Jamaica.
  10. Tom got a “pin” on his map.
  11. We ended up having a layover in Miami on our way home and I’ve never been to Miami, even if it was just the airport.
  12. Tom wasn’t real sure how we would be able to catch the Bears game while we were in Jamaica.  In the end he got to watch it at home.
  13. I had a column due on Monday and sent it before I left and it didn’t go through.  I was able to send it on Sunday.
  14. I was still able to get most of our souvenirs for the kids and Tom’s parents.
  15. I am already halfway finished with my laundry.  I am trying not to dwell on the fact that part of that is due to the fact we didn’t wear a good portion of the clothes we packed.
  16. I just watched the weather and it is going to get REALLY cold later this week.  We had 2 extra days to adjust.
  17. Our family pictures were ready to pick up on December 1st and I was able to pick them up sooner.
  18. Since Tom’s parents got a 2-day reprieve from babysitting duty, we don’t have to avoid asking them to babysit next Friday.
  19. We didn’t miss any of the excursions.
  20. Only 199 days until the first day of summer.
  21. Only 277 days until we go to Disney World.
  22. I still can’t help but think there is another reason for us coming home early.  Maybe the universe prevented something from happening to the kids, Tom’s parents or us.  I still believe there is a reason for everything.


I also got back to good news on the work front and made me so happy that rather than coming back to a inbox full of issues and fires to put out, I was greeted with lots of positive aspects of the budding business that I am working for. (Shameless plug…Visit www.viviledish.com to “Meet Vivi.”)

As I sit here writing this, we would likely just be arriving home if everything went as planned.  At least now we can stop thinking of what we “could be doing at ‘x’ time.” Now, I am in full-throttle Christmas mode to raise my spirits and appreciate flakes flying rather than curse them.  I fully plan on sitting in family room in my pretty pink sundress that I didn’t get to wear and make a margarita. At the end of the day, I can honestly say regardless of our vacation woes, I am one lucky girl.