Tuesday, June 30, 2009

lead me not into temptation...I can find it just fine by myself.

I'm really ill at ease today. For no good reason (other than that it's sort of a constant feeling that seems to ebb and flow within me), I'm immensely dissatisfied with our finances and our house right now. Both the size of the house AND the clutterfied contents. I'm feeling really jealous of other people today. No one specific, just anyone that has (and can afford) a bigger, cleaner house than I. I'm not even dreaming about McMansions here, right now...what I'd really love is a three bedroom house with just a little more space, a few more rooms. I'd like the bedrooms to be on a separate floor from the living space. I'd like the kids to have their own bedrooms. I'd like to have a dining room that could accommodate a decent sized table so I could tackle a family holiday gathering. I'd like a kitchen with an island, so I had more cooking space. And I'd like a mudroom, or some sort of landing at the door, so we could clean off the dogs when they come in and so we would have some place to store shoes, coats, outdoor gear, etc.

That's my dream right now. And if you've got something like that, I'm feeling a little jealous today. Sorry.

Mostly, right now, I think that I'm really angry at myself for choices I've made in the past.

I have a really hard time with anything I perceive as DEPRIVING myself. A really hard time. And maybe this is what I need therapy for, more than anything, because it is the crux of so many issues in my life. I want ice cream? If I don't get it I'm DEPRIVING myself. I'm going out? If I get water for free instead of that glass of sangria for $8, I'm DEPRIVING myself. One ice cream cone won't hurt. One drink won't hurt. But it's not just one, occasionally. It's one, all the time. One, one, one. All those one's add up. And over time, they've added up to overweight, overcluttered, and over-debted. I do feel like I've made huge strides in fighting this, but I still slip up way too often, and in the meantime it's really frustrating to look at my life and the things I really want and to know that, if I had only learned to control this tendency of mine better, I could HAVE those things now.

Life is all about choices. And I'm not very happy with most of my past ones right now. Past minor / daily choices, that is. Most of my big life choices, like kids and getting married, I'm just fine with. But my daily choices are generally a huge struggle for me, and I keep making ones that are just not helping me get to where I need to be. I break vows I make to myself all the time. I recently vowed that I wouldn't buy any more books for the time being...for an undetermined amount of time, until we're on better financial footing. I have plenty of books. I have plenty of UNREAD books to plow through still. And if I get a hankering for a new book by one of my favorite authors, I should go to the library. I haven't been to the library in ages, and one of the things I wanted to do when I stopped working was to start taking my kids to the library on a regular basis. I haven't done it yet.

Last week my mom asked me to go to the mall with her, just for the hell of it. And of course she wants to go to the bookstore. And I know there are some books I want to read but I tell myself I don't need to buy them, I have plenty I'm reading now, and anyway I can just go to the library when I'm ready to read them. I don't need to buy a book. I'm happy with this decision.
Yet somehow I come out of the bookstore with a book. I see a book by an author I like, and it reminds me he has a book out that I've wanted for a while. So I talk myself into buying it. I do it in stages. I tell myself that if it's a paperback, it'll be OK, because they're cheaper than hardcovers. But then it's only in hardcover and I STILL allow myself to buy it anyway. It's "just ONE book", after all.

I don't know what the hell is wrong with me. Why I work against myself so frequently. How I can set such defined goals, goals I can envision so strongly I can practically taste them, and still go off the path towards achieving them so many times.

I'm not looking for tears or sympathy. I realize that I have quite a fortunate life and that while I may not have many of the things I want, we do live quite comfortably and do have many things we want, we often have more than we need, and I certainly am NOT deprived. Even if I feel like it sometimes. I KNOW, consciously, that I'm not. I only have to look at the massive amount of things that surround me to understand that I've been quite fortunate over the course of my life. But as I have gotten older, I have come to deeply believe that this STUFF isn't what is important, and that indeed so much of it and the behaviors that have led me to acquire it have been unhealthy and have held me back from the things I REALLY want.

Sometimes it's hard to see when I'm standing in the middle of it, but I look back on a lot of the decluttering I've done and the pictures and videos I've taken and I believe that I do have a problem with hoarding. I may not be as bad as some people (as in the past, when I've congratulated myself on not having boxes and stacks piled to the ceiling like SOME PEOPLE do)...but that doesn't mean I don't have a problem.

I think, even without ever getting any kind of therapy for this, that I have come a long way on my own with this problem. I have gotten rid of so much stuff. And if you could see the sheer amount of stuff I'm planning on unloading at the garage sale, you'd have to agree that I've made huge strides. Sometimes I even have daydreams about opening up my entire house to a garage sale of sorts and just letting people wander through and make offers on whatever they are interested in. LET IT ALL GO. I now believe that I CAN let it all go.

But the practicality of doing that is still a struggle. I have a hard time letting it go for free, because so much of my money is tied into this STUFF. I am so disgusted at where I let myself get financially that I can't seem to just purge and donate. I have to at least TRY to sell it first. Then there's the sheer overwhelming factor of trying to deal with so much STUFF (and in a small space to boot). And there are objects I'm still tied to emotionally. Though honestly, I've found it much easier to pack away objects for selling. I have a MUCH harder time with paper clutter. Getting rid of paper is a giant struggle for me. So many tasks and so many dreams are, in my mind, tied to all those pieces of paper in my house. I should go home, dump them all, and just start the fuck over. But I can't. Not yet. I've dumped a lot, to my credit. But then I'll find another box of papers from four years ago (or more), and it just keeps growing and growing.

Another factor I struggle with is that the behaviors I've had for so long are so difficult to change. Even if I believe that I don't need to hoard anymore, even if I truly feel that hoarding is bad, I still find myself acquiring things from time to time. Like the book in the aforementioned incident. I did not NEED that book. But at the time I was standing in the bookstore, I 'needed' it.

It's tied to food too. I don't NEED to sit and eat a bunch of popsicles, or a bag of chips, or whatever, while I'm reading. But when I get the urge, sometimes, I 'need' it.

I don't NEED to have a drink when I go out. I don't need anything but water, which is free (most places, anyway). But once I'm out, I feel like I'm depriving myself if I don't just have one, so I do it. And then I kick myself later over the calories AND the money spent.

It seems like the only way to fight this, sometimes, is to not go out at all. If I don't go to the mall, or go on vacation, or go out with my husband, or go out with friends, we'll spend so much less money. I can't order it or buy it if I'm not in the store or restaurant, right?
But then I really AM depriving myself. Depriving myself of the experiences and the company of people I love.

So why can't I manage to have the experience without feeling the need to spend money too?

I'm really having a hard time fighting those impulses. I've managed to tone them down; I don't buy or spend nearly as excessively as I used to. And I suppose I should congratulate myself on baby steps. But I still buy and spend (and eat) more than I WANT to. (In the long term, anyway. Obviously in the short term I have the desire to be doing those things.) How do I reconcile my short-term desires and my long-term desires? How do I fight this battle without feeling so downtrodden and experiencing a form of buyer's / eater's remorse every time I do ANYTHING?

Sometimes those long term desires seem so far away that it's easy to give in to the short term. And then the next day it's like a cloud lifts from my mind, and I see so clearly that what I did the night before just put more distance between me and the long term goal. And it just depresses me.

I'm just trying to work it all out right now. I'm really frustrated by the amount of money we blew in June. I get a little panicky when I look at all the other things we've planned for the summer, and when we talk with friends about making more plans, and all I see are dollar signs. Dollar signs flying out of my pocket, faster than the speed of light.

Clutter, fat, and money. My three biggest roadblocks. All problems caused by the way I've behaved in the past, and ways I continue to behave now. All tied into the same, or a very similar, source somewhere inside me. I keep trying to understand why I behave this. Is understanding why necessary to make a permanent, lasting change? I don't know.

But I think, if I DO decide to pursue therapy for my problem(s), this entry is probably a great thing to print out and just hand to my therapist and session one. Maybe I do need a guide. It's really, really hard trying to change this all by myself.

Friday, June 26, 2009

FREE Heritage Makers beginner's workshop

If you aren't familiar with Heritage Makers yet, you should be! We are a digital storybooking (think scrapbooking online) company that will help you turn your treasured memories into beautiful books, cards, posters, etc to last a lifetime.

This coming Wednesday, July 1st at 6:30PM, I will be holding a FREE beginner's workshop at my mother's house in Lansing, IL. I will do a basic demonstration of the online Studio and answer any questions you may have about using it.

If you've got some Heritage Makers credits sitting on your account and you aren't sure how to get started, this is the perfect event for you!

Likewise, if you are thinking about getting into storybooking but are feeling a little overwhelmed, this is perfect for you!

And if you've been doing it for a while but want to come to share some tips and ideas with the other attendees, this is perfect for you!

Feel free to bring a laptop if you'd like to work on your projects.

Please send me an email if you are interested in attending and I will supply you with the address.

Learn more about storybooking at my website: www.scrapyourbooks.com!


Before I go on to the Florida trip photos...I have a confession to make.

My house is filthy again.

The clutter just seems to creep back out from every corner. If I don't stay on top of it EVERY. DAY. it gets incredibly out of hand. Spending half of the month of June on vacation threw all the baby routines I put in place straight out the window. I'm working on getting back into the swing of it all.

Three weeks until garage sale day. A lot of it will go out of the house then. That will help reduce some of these problems.

I have to start managing the paper problem too. Putting aside the laundry room and the garage, I've managed to declutter a lot of the 'stuff' in the house. The paper is a huge issue. Even reduced by roughly half, it causes giant messes. This is another daily battle.

I'm frustrated that I spend so much of my life cleaning, decluttering, straightening up. And no, even once the clutter is out, I can't afford a maid. Does everyone have to spend time cleaning every day? How do you stay on top of it and keep your house company-ready?? It seems like such an impossible task for me sometimes. Even on days when we're not IN the house, it feels like the mess multiplies. :/

Sandusky Vacation Days Three and Four

I'm combining days three and four of the vacation because it was mostly waterpark time and then the drive home.

Saturday we all slept in and then spent a leisurely morning talking each other's ears off, eating breakfast, watching the kids play together. The suite we had at the Kalahari was awesome, with a full kitchen and two separate bedrooms, two bathrooms, two balconies, a fireplace, three TV's...we easily could have stayed there longer, if only we could have afforded it!

Amber and Drake 'fighting' in the living room area. Those light-up swords were the souvenirs the kids picked at Cedar Point.

Ringo says: 'If I saw a Jedi, wearing nothing but dinosaurs, hoisting a double bladed saber while grabbing his crotch, I would be awed by his presence'

We spent most of Saturday afternoon at the waterpark, which is HUGE. We didn't even go to the outdoor part. The indoor part had three or four different kids' areas, a giant wave pool, surfing pools, a bunch of slides, a lazy river, several bars...my only complaint was that several of the areas, and slides, were closed. All weekend. Some of them on a rotating basis; they'd open but then others would close for a while. I'm guessing they were short-staffed? It didn't seem to make much sense. But even with that, there was MORE than enough to do. And all the kids could have easily spent the entire weekend in the wave pool. My arms were sore for a week from trying to hold them up and save them from being drowned!

In the evening, we went back to the hotel room to order pizza, and we finally managed to meet up in person with Adam. He gave us a con schedule and we wandered around for a while, hitting up the candy shop before heading to the parking lot to see if we could find the live-action Left 4 Dead event. Even at 2 and 4, my kids are zombie fans. Though I don't think they really know what zombies are, since I haven't exactly gotten graphic with them. But come on, kids love monsters, right? Well, my kids do, anyway. Or at least, the little one does. I think the elder one is often more apprehensive than he'd like to let on.

Tina and the kids on a luggage cart outside our room. We got locked out because OJ took my room key to go get the pizza; Ringo was supposed to come with us but at the last second he veered off and went with OJ, and none of us realized he had the only other room key until we got to the door! I'm never giving up my room key again! lol!

visiting the hotel candy shop

which one's the chimp? har har! (sorry Ringo!)

Oksana and an okapi. I'm honestly not sure if the okapi was part of the hotel staff (the Kalahari has an African theme) or if it was a furry from the convention!

Ayla, Tina and someone dressed as a character from a video game they enjoy

Oksana already knows that a light saber would be an awesome zombie-killing tool

We got everyone back to the hotel room in a vain attempt to get the kids to bed before midnight. OJ and Ringo left Tina and I with the younger kids, and went wandering the con with Ayla, the 11 year old; looking at hot chicks in costume and attending anime raves.

Drake informed us that he was Batman dressed as Spiderman so that the baddies wouldn't know he was Batman.

Oksana and Ayla snuggling in one of the beds

Sunday morning after breakfast and check-out, Tina, Ringo and the girls got on the road because they heard there were bad storms in our home area. We spent a few more hours at the waterpark before hitting the road for home.

the kids by a rhino

one of MANY splashalicious zones

safety first in the wave pool!

this one LOVES the water. She's absolutely fearless. Over, under, upside down, she doesn't care. We're going to need to do some swimming lessons STAT.

post-slide bliss

no fear whatsoever! The blue lifejacket running directly into the waves is my 2 year old daughter, who can't swim. The orange-suited man chasing her down is my husband.

The Kalahari also had a really big dry play area that we let the kids run around in for a while before hitting the road.

All in all it was an awesome weekend, and we are really looking forward to repeating it next year!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Sandusky Vacation, Day Two

The entire day was spent at Cedar Point, enjoying the truly gorgeous weather and riding all the rides we could until we were all incredibly exhausted!

OJ and Oksana, having a blast on the Super Himalaya.

The kids fell in love with the Frog Hopper, and rode it over...and over...and over...and over...

The other thing they loved? Bumper boats. I guess driving your own inflatable boat around for as long as you want (because there was no line) IS pretty cool...

The kids and I in Camp Snoopy.

It was in Camp Snoopy that my kids went on their first two roller coasters ever. The Jr. Gemini (technically outside of Camp Snoopy, and also the scene of my fat-humiliation as mentioned in the previous post) is a small coaster that just goes up a little hill, down and around. They sent us around twice and the kids had a blast. So we tackled the slightly larger Woodstock Express. It was...unexpectedly zippy! Pretty fast, a decent drop for a kids' coaster, and lots of twists and turns. It reminded me of that old favorite, The Whizzer, at Six Flags Great America. (Which will only make sense to my other Chicago-area friends!) And it was a success! The kids liked it too. Drake even asked to go on some of the bigger coasters, but sadly, he wasn't tall enough. Two inches to short for the medium-level coasters! :( Hopefully next year.

Making wishes.

They each flew their own plane on Snoopy's Red Baron ride (yet another of those where the kid gets to control how high they fly).

The kids 'driving' around in a helicopter. Honestly, I lost track of how many versions of this 'cars on a track' ride they had at Cedar Point, but trust me, there were a LOT. Regular cars, muscle cars, old-fashioned cars, space vehicles, planes, motorcycles, cop cars....you name it, they had it. And it never. got. old.

Now this is the one ride that Mommy and Daddy went on! Cedar Point has this awesome (free) Parent-Child swap program. If you get a pass at Guest Services, then one person can wait in line for a 'big kid' ride while the rest of the party does their own thing. When that person rides, they give their pass to the ride attendant. And once they are off the ride, the other 'big kid' in the party can go up the exit queue, claim the pass, and ride without waiting for an hour in line. It's pretty sweet. This was the only time we took advantage of it, to ride Maverick, the newest coaster there. It...lived up to its name. Incredibly wild, exhilerating coaster. If it doesn't age well, it's going to be painful in a few years. But for now, it was highly enjoyable. (Millenium Force is still my favorite ride there though, hands down!)

Hot rods! (My son has a talent for making bizarre faces in photos; it's very difficult to get him to smile normally, actually.)

Aaand...there's me, heading to my last indulgence of the night. Cedar Downs, the racing carousel. It goes pretty fast; neither kid was tall enough to ride it, but it's an old favorite of mine, so I had to hop on. I'm not sure why my husband didn't take a picture of me ON the ride like I asked, so this will have to do!

We didn't stay for the late night light show or anything because the kids were exhausted (and we weren't far behind, honestly). We only had one stroller and we had reached the point of near-tears where no one wanted to take turns anymore, they both wanted the stroller, and we were almost beyond the point where we could comfortably carry the non-stroller child. So we picked up our souvenir lightsabers (thanks to the ten bucks Grandma sent with each kid, so they could buy a souvenir of their choice) and headed back to the hotel...to greet our friends, who were just arriving! And everyone got their second wind and stayed up until midnight! (Which was just fine because no one had anywhere to be bright and early, thank god!)

sleeping with my ex

I feel like I'm surrounded by babies (or babies-to-be), at least with my internet friends, and it kind of makes me want one again. Except I think what I really want to do is temporarily abscond with everyone else's babies, snuzzle them mercilessly, then give them back. There's a whole host of reasons why I should not be having a baby right now (and possibly ever again). My husband is happy with two. I don't like being pregnant (I just like the babies!). Our house is too small. Our house is too messy and cramming another person PLUS their stuff won't help that. It would totally mess up our financial plan. I vowed I would never have another baby unless I could leave work not just after the baby is born, but also for the pregnancy. I worked like a dog during the first two and if I do it again I want an entirely different experience this time. My health, which is also linked to my weight.

Speaking of my weight, I found out at TOPS last night that not only have I NOT lost weight as I'd suspected...I actually gained. Four pounds. In the last month. I'm very close to my highest weight ever again. This was...disheartening, to say the least.

When we went to Cedar Point last week, one of my biggest fears was that I would be a 'guest of exceptional size' and not be able to ride any of the rides I wanted to get on. They don't have strict guidelines as to what constitutes a 'guest of exceptional size', since everyone's body types are different, but they suggest that women over size 18 may have trouble on some of the rides. That's me, folks. At least in my gut. The rest of my body is probably around a size 18 but my gut is HUGE (and embarrassing).
I was able to get on everything I wanted, even the children's rides that required adult chaperones, but it was uncomfortable. And humiliating. Especially on the Jr. Gemini when the attendant had to help me buckle the seatbelt because I was too fat to do it. Bless her soul, she tried to blame my fanny pack (to which I replied "thank you, but I think it's my FANNY"), and I was about to give up but she was very insistent that we could DO it, and I heaved my fat out of the way as best I could and she pulled with all her might until that little belt clicked into place. It certainly was not one of my prouder moments in life.

There is no great mystery involved in weight loss, at least not for the majority of folks. Eat less, move more. It's a pretty simple formula. Yet for so many people, myself included, it's a huge struggle. The formula may be easy but when you try to apply it to individuals with emotions and patterns and preferences and desires and opinions, individuals fighting hormonal responses and addicitons and emotional triggers and years of conditioned response, individuals with varying levels of intention and willpower...well, it becomes a very different, very personal story for each of us. I've been trying to pay attention over the past year or so, and I don't seem to have a huge emotional trigger to food. I don't necessarily want to eat when I'm stressed, or upset, or angry. I do, however, often eat out of boredom. And habit. I eat for entertainment...and who doesn't like to be entertained? Over the course of my life, I seem to have linked food to all of the pleasureable activities in my life. I eat while I read. I eat while I watch TV. I eat while I play video games. I eat while I socialize with friends. I ENJOY eating while I do these things. And it has become very hard to NOT eat while doing these things. Eating has become linked to my enjoyment of these activities; separately, I enjoy each of them very much, but with food I now achieve MAXIMUM enjoyment.

I read a lot on a regular basis, but I have been reading a TON lately. Every night, often for a couple hours. (This could also be why the house is falling into disrepair again.) So I've been eating a lot more at night lately as a result.

The trouble here is that I'm not eating with any sort of intention. I'm just grazing, and when one food stops tasting so great, I just move on to the next one. I'm not really ENJOYING the food, I'm just eating to eat. I'm not writing down any of these foods and I'm not limiting myself in any way either. I'm not saying "OK, I want some potato chips, so I'll just have one serving." I'm sitting down with the whole bag.

So what happens? A weight gain of four pounds, that's what happens. Frustration. Misery. And oh yeah, I don't feel so good most days either.

What am I going to do about this? I don't know. I'm frustrated. It's a pattern that has asserted itself time and again in my life. I have trouble setting limits on myself, I have trouble controlling certain behaviors. I have been trying to track my calories and food intake for a year and I keep resisting. I know it's an important tool for weight loss, but for some reason I just refuse to make it a habit. I want to do it...but somewhere in me I must not REALLY want to do it, or I'd be doing it already, right?

It's times like these when I am closest to admitting that I might need professional help with this problem. But for some reason, even though I don't have a problem with therapy and have gone for other troubles I've had...I am hugely resistant to going for this. HUGELY. I'm not sure why. Even writing about it now, I can feel the stress building in my body, my arms and legs tightening in refusal, as if someone is going to come along and try to physically MAKE me go to therapy and I'm gearing up to resist and fight them. It's freaking bizarre and I have no idea why, exactly, I am so dead set against going to therapy for this, but I am.

I'm hesitant to put this out there in public because it is such a personal issue, and when I fail again and again, it's embarrassing. Sometimes it's embarrassing just to live my life and still be fat, because I've struggled with this for so long and it's not like it's a problem I can hide. When I go out, everyone can see that I'm still fat, or fatter. My repeated failures sit on my body in giant lumps. Sometimes I don't want to go places, or see certain people, just because of the way I look. So putting this all out here in public is sort of like opening a wound. But I vowed to myself that this blog would be a record of my goals and the paths to them; this is a huge issue in my life that I've wanted to get past for years, and I do believe it is holding me back from accomplishing so many other things in my life. It's the elephant in the room; I can't just ignore it. And maybe my struggles (and future triumphs, I hope) will help someone else.

And maybe there's someone out there who will help me too.

Monday, June 15, 2009

on the road again...

I know that we just went on vacation, and that I haven't even posted all the photos and stories from that one, but guess what? We're going on another vacation! We leave this Wednesday! I think I might be crazy!

Actually, I'm pretty sure I'm crazy. I constantly overbook myself to the point of insanity, take a break, then do it all again.

We fly to Miami Wednesday afternoon to visit my husband's family. We'll be staying on a BOAT (owned by his aunt and uncle), and I'm pretty excited about that.

I haven't recovered from my last vacation though, and I'm a little worried about that. We have a ton of laundry to do, and the house...well, let's just say the house is no longer company-ready. I made some headway on that over the weekend, but then I also got really drunk (which you may have noticed, if you follow me on Twitter) on Sunday (still in that vacation mindset I guess), and...not a whole lot got done at home. I sort of got drunk right around noon too, so I didn't even get much done BEFORE I got drunk. (Actually, I made homemade salsa for the party, so I MADE THINGS MESSIER. It's a skill that I always have possessed.)

I'm incredibly nervous about putting my entire family on a plane. I've never been a huge fan of flying anyway, and the idea of all of us being on a plane and dying together...the thought of my children going through that...scares me more than I'd like to admit. I am really not looking forward to that portion of our vacation. I need to get those bestsellers written so we can take the time to drive everywhere. I'm much more comfortable on the ground. And if we HAD to fly somewhere, maybe we could take two different flights so we wouldn't at least all die together.
My husband probably won't go for either of those ideas. But dear god do I dislike the idea of falling to my death.

Assuming that doesn't happen though, the vacation should be pretty awesome. And maybe I'll actually be able to clean my house again when we get back.

Speaking of which, part of the reason for my backsliding is because I feel like I've hit something of a standstill with all the stuff that needs to go out to the garage sale. Also, my paper problem is still really out-of-control. The only way I seem to ever stay on top of it, and of the house at all, is to do maintenance cleaning and tossing DAILY. I was doing pretty good at that, but this month has been bad, and only 15 days in my house looks...pretty god awful. It's frustrating. I'm not sure what else to do about it.

So I have some frustrations to work through, and not much time to deal with them in the next week.

And it's so incredibly stressful to come home from vacation to a messy house.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Sandusky Vacation, Day One

Last Thursday we packed up the car and hit the road for Sandusky, Ohio...a little town on the edge of Lake Erie that is home to my favorite amusement park (so far), Cedar Point! In the past, I've stayed at the Cedar Point resorts because they have awesome park perks (such as getting in an hour early before the crowds!)...but this year, we were staying at the new Kalahari. My friend Adam runs an anime convention (Colossal Con) every year, and this year it was at the Kalahari - I'd never met Adam in person, having only played WoW with him previously, but he's a good friend of my friends Sarah and Eric AND he's an awesome guild member. (Yes, I realize I just delved quite severely into the world of nerddom. Sorry.) Originally we were hoping some other Chicago-based members of our Guild would be able to join us, but that didn't work out this year. (However, the con is there again next year and we're hoping to make it an annual event!) We'd never stayed at a Kalahari and were quite excited about the waterpark, as it is reputed to be pretty awesome.

So a good five hours later, we found ourselves checking into a very busy Kalahari. I stayed in the car and took pictures while OJ checked in.

Check out this dude's outfit; it's silver-spangley with some kind of funky fur coat over it! I don't know if the green boots go with that shirt or with something else, lol.

We settled into our room, which was one-half of the suite we would eventually have the next night (when our friends Tina and Ringo and their girls would be joining us). I was dismayed to note that it was an hour ahead there; I should have known that but it's been several years since I made it out to Cedar Point, so I'd forgotten. We freshened up and immediately headed out to hit the park on some Starlight tickets (cheaper evening tickets you can purchase after a certain time each day).

The kids were both JUST tall enough to ride all the kiddie rides, as well as quite a few of the mid-level rides. I LOVE spinny rides and carnival rides, but often can't get other adults to go on with me (seems a lot of people start to get sick of spinning by the time they hit my age!), so I'm thrilled that my kids are not only big enough to go on these rides, but that they are incredibly excited about doing so. We may not get to hit many roller coasters yet, but by golly I can spin to my heart's content!

Drake and I on the main carousel (it's one of three in the park!).

Drake thinks the carousel is awesome!

OJ and Oksana on the carousel.

The sky ride, which takes you up on a cable and deposits you in the middle of the park. It also gives you a lovely view of the park and of surrounding Lake Erie.

The sky ride is NOT OJ's favorite ride, and he did his best to avoid having us ride it a second time for the rest of our vacation. ;) (That's the Demon Drop in the background.)

Drake and I are having a great time on the Matterhorn; Oksana was too short to ride this one, even with an adult.

Pretty much every ride we went on, the kids wanted to go again! (and again! and again!). So Drake took a turn with OJ next.

heh heh. heh heh. Mermaid boobies. (This was on the Ocean Motion, a big ship that swings back and forth; Drake and I took a ride on it.)

The kids in Planet Snoopy, one of FOUR themed kids' areas in the park. This was my first visit there with kids, and I have to say they do a great job being incredibly child-friendly and accommodating!

Drake taking a spin on one of the rides in Planet Snoopy.

Totally oblivious to the rest of us, lol.

The kids on one of those rides where they can control how high they fly with a lever in the plane (or spaceship, as the case may be). Cedar Point had several different incarnations of this ride, all of them a hit.

Oksana on the kiddie train.

See, here's another incarnation of the flying ride, this time in the Kiddy Kingdom.

The kids on the kiddie-style bumper cars. I sound like a HUGE dork, but I thought it was particularly funny that Drake stopped in the middle of the ride and tried to get Oksana to share her necklace with him.

One of the new features at the park this year is this water fountain; it was a little chilly that night so we didn't let the kids run through (though, as you can see, it's practically irresistible). It's pretty neat though, and I imagine it'll be PACKED on hot summer days. In the background, you can see the Raptor (the green coaster), which is their inverted coaster (and it's a pretty sweet ride, though we didn't manage to hit it on this trip), and in the VERY back, you can see the hill of the Blue Streak, a wooden coaster - the oldest operating coaster in the park.

We had to cut our evening short because the park closed at 8pm, instead of 9 like I'd thought. We were going to eat dinner IN the park but it was a no-go, sadly. We lost TWO HOURS because of the time change and because I remembered the closing time wrong. :( But we had fun anyway!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I got my hairs cut. Yes, all of them.

I've been tossing around the idea of getting a haircut for, oh, months. If you don't already know, then you SHOULD know that I've never been much of a girly-girl. Sometimes I wonder if this would be a little different if I was thinner. Possibly a little, because it would be more fun...but overall, I don't think it's really in my nature. I don't pay much mind to fashion. I wear makeup only on special occasions. I don't color or cut my hair regularly - usually it only happens on a whim. I almost never wear jewelry.

It had been a LONG time since my last haircut. I had this fantasy going about having beautiful looooong hair, and believe me my hair had gotten pretty long. But not being very fashionable, especially where hair is concerned, I never did much with it. I was sporting the boring straight middle-part, no bangs, hair hanging in my face all the time hairdo. And usually the 'hanging in my face' part would get really old really quick, so most of the time it was up in a ponytail - or, more recently, a ponytail I never finished pulling through all the way; you could ALMOST call it a bun but I was too lazy to even do that.

So the dream of long hair was slowly wearing away. But I was reluctant to get a haircut because, being overweight, I never feel like I look good with shorter hair. And doing anything BUT going short just didn't seem to make sense to me. Seeing pictures of my vacation post-waterpark hair only furthered my resolve to do something about the mess on my head.

Yes, that shaggy, wet creature is me (walking with my son, who was "Batman, dressed as Spiderman, so the bad guys won't know me"). And down below, I'm the shaggy wet one on the left, taking a picture (of my daughter with a Furry. Or an okapi provided by the hotel. There was an anime convention going on so I'm not sure to which the suited creature belonged).

Yesterday, the pressure to CUT IT ALL OFF built up to a boiling point, and I turned to my trusty friend, Google. Imagine my surprise when I started typing in "short hair" and Google supplied me with choices such as "Short hairstyles for round faced women", "short hair on fat women", "short hairstyles for round fat faces", and the like. Either those searches are much more common than I would have previously believed, or Google is calling me fat. Either way, HEY, that was exactly what I was looking for!

So I poked around and, after reading the advice of various random hair professionals (or not) on the internet, it seems the graduated bob is the way to go. Just make sure it ends below your chin in front or your face will look even fatter.

Armed with this information and a picture of the ever-lovely Jenny McCarthy's graduated bob (because apparently SHE has a round, fat face? HA.), I headed off to Great Clips. Where I learned (from my hairdresser who, ironically, is a member of my TOPS club) that it had been 42 WEEKS since I last had a haircut. (I TOLD you I wasn't very good at hair maintenance!) Also, it seemed that if we went just a liiittle shorter than planned, I would have the ten inches of hair required to donate. (At least from the back.) Since it's for a good cause, I went for it; the back was ponytailed and SNIP! A huge wad of hair is now going off to make wigs for cancer patients. Now I actually feel good about waiting that 42 weeks. ;)

Juanita, my hairdresser, told me that I'd have to use a straight-iron on my hair if I wanted that super-sleek look. My hair isn't curly but it has a surprising amount of body for being so thick. I gave her this look like "it's been 42 WEEKS since I had my hair CUT and you think I'm going to straight-iron it every day?" and she said I could also scrunch it with some hair pomade. She got another look and said "or you could just get up and let it do its own thing" and I was all "BINGO!". Aaaand, here we are.

Pardon my facial expressions; I never did master the art of the MySpace pic.

Also, yes, it's probably going to eternally do that flippy-outy thing because, again, NOT STRAIGHT-IRONING MY HAIR EVERY DAY. Or, really, probably EVER. I don't even BLOW DRY it after the shower, people. Not even when it was long and would stay wet for five hours.


I got back from vacation and hit this slump; the slump where I am sitting around feeling totally unmotivated to do ANYthing but daydream about how nice it would be if I was able to live the vacation-style life all the time.

(We all know that just daydreaming about it ain't gonna get me there, don't we?)

So I'm trying to claw myself out. Get back into the routines I was working so hard to set up for myself. I find that there are often times when I get dragged into these slumps for one reason or another and it's just hard to break out of it. It's not like depression, it's more like being lazy...I just want to sit around and read. And, lately, it's feeling like I can't wrap my head around everything that needs doing, so I do nothing at all. That feeling seems to happen most when my environment is disorderly, and if one thing can make your environment disorderly, it's VACATION. I evidently haven't mastered the art of packing and unpacking in a neat and organized fashion. Vacation threw up in my house and it's inviting other clutter and mess to grow around it.
So the first part of the solution is probably to finish unpacking, put everything away, and get the house back to company-ready status.

Now, to find the motivation...

oh, vacation, how I miss thee...

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

frog hopper

We have been on vacation for the past several days. A few things kept me from blogging while we were away. The hotel's internet connection was DREADFULLY slow. We were incredibly busy the entire time - having FUN, and boy was it exhausting to have such a good time! And we shared a suite with some good friends of ours, so even when we were back in the room, if we weren't sleeping, we were visiting. I had hoped to blog a bit while we were gone, but 'best laid plans' and all that.

So I'm back at work today and back to dreaming about living a life of leisure, with the millions of dollars I have in my head.


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