Cruising together

Oh… where do I begin? Let me count the ways. We got back today from a week long cruise on Royal Caribbean Navigator of the Seas and I am BEAT, I tell you. BEAT. At around 6am this morning in our cabin, I could hear my phone once again had service. Yay? It went all buzz buzz crazy. I had emails out the wazoo. I have bills to pay and I am terribly behind on my blog reading and writing.

All week I thought about what I could write about on my blog. Like, should I do something deep and meaningful? I could describe all the things I learned about myself over the course of a full week, being totally unconnected electronically. Or I could write about particular adventures and events that happened. I’m thinking I’ll just toss it all together. After all, that would pretty much cover the week’s chronological timeline (everything all jumbled together).

First let me just start with — Gerald does NOT like my green nail polish. He’s pretty much not a fan of anything that is not in the pinkish/redish/etc. family. But when I left the decision up to my boys as to which color to go with for my toenails, “Sea Green” just made sense. Sorry, Gerald, but sea? How can I not go with the sea green?? So once we arrived in the cabin, I swear it was fate. Take a look at the tile flooring in our (teeny tiny) cabin bathroom. What are the odds? Oh wait, it’s sea green. I guess the odds were actually in my favor.

No comments on my big fat toe, please!

There were several occasions when Gerald and I found ourselves dining with just the two of us. This is a rare occasion, and treat I might add. When Gerald would leave the table for the restroom, it would leave me sitting there. Alone. No one else to talk to, no blog stats to check, no Words with Friends to play, no favorite blogs to catch up on. I started wondering what in the world I used to do when Gerald and I were dating and neither one of us had a smartphone. Smartphones didn’t even exist back then. I did have my big brick Motorola phone, but I don’t remember if I would actually carry that clunky thing around with me, especially on a date. My handbags back then probably wouldn’t be mistaken for a piece of carry-on luggage like they could be today.

Perhaps BS (Before Smartphones) I did some people watching, or maybe I thought about future plans. On the cruise though, I let my mind wander to summertime family beach vacations when I was probably around 11 to 14 years old. We would stay for about a week at a friend’s beach house in Port Bolivar, Texas. I loved sitting on the big covered porch watching the goings on out in the ocean. We saw the occasional waterspout, the occasional fin, and the industrial tanker boats sail by. On this cruise, I actually spotted a school of dolphin swimming by (very cool but unfortunately no pic because it happened super quick and the camera lens got all fogged up when we would first take it outside), and we saw other ships pass by and caught the outline of random gulf oil rigs. It rained on us quite a bit when we were docked in Honduras and how cool it was to watch rain downpours from the comfort and cover of the ship. Reminded me of the porch in Bolivar. <–Warm fuzzies go here.

Speaking of Honduras, my youngest wasn’t feeling well so Gerald stayed on the ship with him while my oldest and I ventured out. But, as mentioned, it rained cats and dogs on and off the whole day so mainly all the ship goers were sticking close to the port shops. I wanted to go out a little and see some of the “real” Honduras so I led my son past all the persistent excursion pushers and taxi drivers and onto the poorly paved, narrow street that led out of the port and to a line of shops. We had no idea what we were doing and even though there were some other tourists, it probably would have been better if we had Gerald with us.

As soon as we stepped off the final paved concrete of the port, this young local sort of attached himself to us. ?? He was very friendly and asked us where we were from, and what types of things we were looking for, etc. etc. ?? I told him I wanted to see the market shops I saw “advertised” on the side of the multi-story building I spotted from our cabin’s balcony. He led us up some dark stairs. I know! What was I thinking?! What was I doing? What if someone decided to snatch us right up for a million dollar ransom or something? (Ha! Good luck trying to collect that ransom.) What if my son and I got blindsided and our belongings stolen? But up we went anyway and found were all kinds of beautiful treasures from local artists that you were never going to find in the over commercialized port shops.

We ventured a little more, with our uninvited guest in tow, but it didn’t take me long to chicken out at the prospect of going any further down the dangerous and dirty street. We turned back, with our guide still leading the way, and once we got back to the entrance of the port, I asked our new friend’s name. His name was George (not sure of the spelling). I thanked him and gave him a small tip, which I’m sure this is what he was after. Looking back, I realized George really did serve as a helpful guide. He told some of the pestering locals to back off and he spoke very proudly of his country. Pretty sure George bonded with my son as well. George liked my son’s “Kicks” (popular sneakers, and probably not the smartest thing to be wearing in such a poor country), and asked my son’s age and about his schooling. I really wish I had gotten a picture of George. But my son and I were so freaked out by the whole experience and we thought it best not to get out the iPhone, lest we may get robbed (by some other observer of course, not George!). My son and I couldn’t wait to tell the rest of the family about our Honduras adventure. (I don’t get out much, do I?)

George from Honduras

There were more vacation experiences, of course, but I suppose the ones I’ve written about here are the ones that struck me the most. We really didn’t see much of our oldest for the whole trip. He made fast friends of some other kids on the ship and he is still gushing about all of them. We enjoyed the shows, the food, the spoiling of the Royal Caribbean staff, the warmth of the people met in Mexico and Honduras. It was a very nice vacation. One that my oldest has declared “the best vacation so far.”

Gerald and my FIL practicing their sunset posing


The world is my oyster

Hey, did you know that “pearl” is June’s gemstone?

The world is my oyster. This is a phrase I think to myself (almost) every Sunday morning, whether it be while I’m still trying to catch some extra Zs or while I’m at church, fulfilling my sporadic weekly dutiful attendance. Oh, the possibilities are endless. I can go shopping, try out those new recipes, do laundry, deep clean the house, eat, drink, nap, exercise, organize my “stuff,” work on house projects, perform overdue beauty routines etc, etc. etc. What? Have I totally lost it? It’s no wonder I end up getting stressed out come Sunday evening. The hours roll by, way too fast I might add, and forget any sort of feelings of leisure or relaxation. Good vibe feelings are soon replaced with panic and anxiety when I realize the overabundance of “stuff” on my Sunday bucket list is just that: over. abundance.

I’m not sure why I keep falling for the same bullshit line my mind feeds me every week. Please, by the time I’m done with it, my envisioned pretty pearl-filled “oyster” has become more of a  dull, boring clam. No wait, it’s become more like a little cramped conch shell. Yeah, that’s it – The world is my little conch shell. Now, little conch shell would be much more manageable, don’t you think? If I don’t set myself up for such an unattainable event list, Sunday evenings as I know them would probably be way more relaxing.

Okay, so what shall I keep and what shall I throw to the wayside? Do I want to be practical or do I want to have a little fun?

Several posts back, Kristine from Mum Revised left a comment regarding my “clutter” issue. Kristine suggested I look into the book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. And I did. And Kristine is right, the process is life changing. I’ve actually started decluttering my house/life, and I hope to make the changes permanent. But anyway, the main premise of Ms. Kondo’s decluttering is to keep only those items that bring you joy and you just chuck the rest. I believe I’ll use this technique to simplify my cluttered Sunday list. It will be easy. I will do only the things that bring me joy.

Let’s start with grocery shopping – OUT. Pointless online shopping? You’re IN! Cooking meals for the week? Nah, we’ll eat take-out all week. Ohh… the nap is IN, baby! Bye bye, exercise! Maybe I’ll see you later in the week (fat chance, fat being the keyword there). Drink? As long as it contains alcohol, yes please! House projects? Gerald’s honey-do list sure has grown. Beauty routines? Ha! Hey, haven’t you heard? Underarm hair is all the rage! Not sure if the unibrow will catch on though. Eat? I already mentioned the take-out. Besides, I’ll just send Gerald to the grocery store. Hey, Gerald!

Hey… I believe the oyster is shining up nicely.


Summer fun


Summer vacation for our boys has officially begun. As I figured, there would be an adjustment period of sorts, for all of us. After all, this is the first summer the boys will be spending at home alone. Together. Alone. We figured our youngest is past his daycare days as he will be heading to junior high come the new school year. You know, the whole junior high equates to maturity thing, right? Huh hum… But anyway, the first week went something like this. Go figure, it’s mainly from a “food” perspective. I really have to remember I have two boys with two boys’ appetites when I grocery shop.

Breakfast: Cereal.
Lunch: The little powdered donuts Mom bought yesterday at the grocery store, the whole bag; pre-cooked bacon Mom bought yesterday at the grocery store, the whole flippin package; oh and chips! Chips just go with a lunch of donuts and bacon, ya know.
Snack: Cereal. Oh, and chips! Chips are great for snacking.
Activity: TV, TV, backyard pool. Oh, Mom just called to tell us (like they’re totally oblivious to this rule, uh huh) we’re not supposed to be in the pool when no one (adult-wise) is home. GET OUT!
Mom gets home: Wet clothes, shoes, towels draped and piled in random places inside and outside the house.

Breakfast: Cereal.
Lunch: Cereal (remember there’s no more donuts, bacon, or chips)
Snack: Cereal.
Activity: TV, TV, neighborhood pool with some friends.
Mom gets home: Wet clothes, shoes, towels draped and piled in random places inside and outside the house.

Supplies are dwindling.
Friends are busy with scheduled activities. (Oh but we didn’t want to sign up for any camps or scheduled activities. We want to have fun, Mom!)
Moral is low.
Full boredom has kicked in.
Food: Cereal.
Activity: TV, TV. Oh it’s raining so TV, TV. Hey, I’ve got a great idea! Let’s go play out in the rain!
Mom gets home: Wet clothes, shoes, towels draped and piled in random places inside and outside the house.

And… things pretty much went downhill from there. Although I believe my youngest actually broke out the hot dogs for lunch on Day 5. He said he couldn’t make himself a sandwich because the bread was old. I pointed out there are a bunch of those sandwich thins in the pantry, but I suppose those looked too foreign to him. Hey well at least by Day 3, we had pretty much established the whole summer routine for our family.


Eating dirt in west Texas

A recent nostalgic like post on Fill Your Own Glass got me feeling all nostalgic about my youthful years in small town west Texas. We actually didn’t live there long, but those few years ended up being very memorable. Maybe it was due to the age (4 to 8 years old) or maybe it was the friends, the interesting terrain, or maybe it was the small town feel, but whatever the reason, the memories have stuck firmly, maybe not so vividly, but firmly.

We didn’t have much in terms of possessions or money so we lived simply. But I don’t recall ever wanting for anything. We always had enough, always had a house full of love. Speaking of our house, it was small and had plain ugly tile and 70’s style flat green carpet on the floors. My sister and I shared a room with bunk beds for the first year or two until my sister got her own room with new furniture. I had mixed feelings about no longer sharing a room, but my sister was at the age where having her own room was her preference, I’m sure of it.

Yeah, it was sort of like this puke green color
Yeah, it was sort of like this puke green color

I remember a backyard that consisted mostly of sand. It was a soft sand, what you’d find on a nice soft sandy beach, only this was in desert country. What grass we had in the yard had burrs (what we always called “stickers”) galore. Our poor dachshund constantly was having to stop and work on getting a sticker out of his paw. He got smart though and made flattened down paths around the yard where the grass eventually gave up. We kids would use these paths to get around our backyard because we insisted on going barefoot even though having to stop to remove a painful sticker out of our feet was a common occurrence.


When we moved into the house, a little wooden playhouse structure was at the back of the yard. I LOVED this little house. It was was so much fun. But no matter how much sweeping, the wooden planked floor was perpetually dirty. One time during a serious make believe “playing house” session, I “made” two bowlfuls of sand, pretending it was dinner. I actually ate a few spoonfuls, playing the part of mother/father (?) to the extreme I suppose. Who knows, really.

There were dirt road alleys behind the houses in our neighborhood. This is where homeowners would stash their trashcans for trash pickup. And the alleyways served as an unending source of adventure for us kids. We would sometimes sift though junk other neighbors were throwing away. Someone’s trash is someone else’s treasure, you know. I’m sure our parents were thrilled. Occasionally, we would “solve” mysteries. This was pretty much us inventing our own mystery to solve. An example would be finding a (junky) ring that most likely a neighbor was throwing out, but we would create a background story, like the queen must have had her gems stolen and we shall find the thief!

There was an old widower who lived down the street, and he would let us play in his backyard. He had some sort of lattice contraption where vines and flowers grew. He would also regularly supply us with Popsicles. I remember my sister stepping on a wasp in his backyard and I think it was me who got a bloody foot from stepping on a rusty nail. My mom insisted on a tetanus shot. Ugh. Hmm… maybe the old man’s backyard wasn’t the best place for kids, but no harm, no foul. We all somehow managed to see more years.

We had a crazy old cat lady who lived in the neighborhood. No one ever dared to trick-or-treat at her house. I don’t remember the specific legends about this lady, but we all knew to just stay away. Bless the lady’s heart, I understand it now. I’m pretty sure she was suffering from dementia. She actually chased after my sister and her friend when they were riding their bikes one evening. The girls came barreling down the alleyway behind our house and they were screaming for my dad to help. My dad calmly walked into the alleyway and walked in front of the woman’s car, she wasn’t going very fast, and that was that. Not sure if the girls had done anything to provoke the lady, like maybe they were snooping around her house or something, but I don’t think she was in her right mind anyway.

There were school plays, coyote howls, horny toads, giant red ants, Friday night football games, the pecan tree packed public park, the over-chlorinated city pool. These all added to my “fond memory” cache. Oh how I hated it when we moved, but life did go on with new friends and new adventures. But there’s just something extra special about that time spent in west Texas, and I am so blessed to have been able to experience it.


Have you hugged your Hugvie today?

It’s a pile of Hugvies!

Browsing internet news the other day, I came across this article about a human shaped cellphone holder pillow. It’s called a Hugvie. What in the hell?? Just when I think I’ve seen it all. From Gina and her discovery of cupcake ponies, and now to pillows you can hug while talking on your phone (because you can’t just hug a regular pillow apparently). And the pillow has a skin-like texture? Ewww… Sounds a little too Texas Chainsaw Massacre or Silence of the Lambs to me, thank you. I mean, who are you fooling? Is your mind that simple that holding this pillow will make you feel like the person is really there? I suppose I shouldn’t judge, maybe I should give something similar a try. Okay, so the next time I’m talking to my long-distance parents, I’ll hug my pillow tight the whole time. We’ll see if I get that warm fuzzy feeling.

I’m figuring if the pillow hugging doesn’t work in regards to making me feel closer to whomever I’m speaking to on the phone, then I’ve got the perfect use for this pillow. The article says research supports a decrease in the levels of cortisol  when there is physical contact with a simple object, say a skin-like feeling pillow anyone? This decrease then helps to reduce stress. Science, okay, at least the plethora of weight-loss ads I’ve seen on TV, also suggests that reducing cortisol levels in the body can aid in losing weight. I figure if I hug this creepy pillow 24/7 (or probably just my own pillow from home because I’m betting the price for this human-shaped pillow is probably pretty steep and I’m pretty cheap), I’ll be sure to lose that extra five pounds I’ve been carrying around.

And if that doesn’t work out, I’ll just have to revert to getting me one of these bad boys:

ostrich pillow
Isn’t it obvious?? It’s an ostrich pillow!

If I can’t lose the weight by hugging a pillow everywhere I go, I may as well carry a pillow on my head and take a nap while I’m at it.


The joys of boys


I didn’t have brothers growing up so I never had any experience with adolescent boy high jinx. So excuse me while I try to figure out the alien type behavior of the two boys God has blessed me with.

A big mystery for me is their clothes. My boys will ride their bikes somewhere (Good for them! They’re getting great exercise and they’re out and about and not holed up in the house being bored.) and if there’s a mud puddle out there, believe me, the back of their shirts will find it. They’ll come home and the front will look okay but then I’ll get a load of the back. Oh man! I especially like how my youngest has managed to get mud on his solid white shirt every time he wears it. Yes, yes, who in their right mind would buy a white shirt for a ten year old boy?!? He gets it muddy every time and I end up bleaching it every time. The bleach has worked great at removing the stains, but the material is starting to break down because of the over-bleaching. Now there is a little hole starting in the shirt. (sigh)

The way my boys are with food also boggles my mind. The other morning, I found a half full/empty bag of (once) frozen meatballs on the kitchen counter. They had been out all night. My oldest and his friend had opted for a late night snack after Gerald and I had gone to bed. I don’t mind if they want to fix themselves something to eat. But for the love of all that’s decent, please remember to put the food back in the fridge/freezer. Please remember to close the chip bag up tight when you’re done. Please wipe up the mess of spilled milk you left on the counter. Gee, did you get any of that cereal in the bowl? Pretty sure you poured it all on the counter and/or floor. If there’s one thing I can’t stand (okay, actually there are A LOT of things I can’t stand, but whatever), it’s wasted food.

There are other mysteries such as the forever clogged toilet, missing what-nots (what-nots can be anything, like shoes, chargers, ipods, etc.). I especially like it when one of my sons comes and asks me where such-and-such is. And the tone used is almost accusatory, like it just had to be Mom who moved my such-and-such or my this-and-that. Umm… no, I haven’t seen your such-and-such or your this-and-that, thank you.

But when I think I can’t take another minute of the insanity, I realize that hey, it could be worse. I could have two GIRLS. Why just today Gerald and I were at the mall and seeing the way some young girls were dressed (read: scantily clad), I turned to Gerald and said, “I’m so glad we don’t have girls.” Hoochy-attire fear aside, I know I’d be spending sooo much more money if I had girls. When my oldest hit junior high, he became much more aware of fashion/style and some of his demands for the latest brands and clothes are ridiculous, at least to Gerald and me, but I can only imagine if I were up against a junior high female. Oh, the horror!

So the moral of the story is… If you’re a regular Crankoutloud reader, you already know that most of my posts have no moral, it’s usually just my typical rambling. I believe it comes down to this though — Parenting is tough no matter the child’s sex, and each child presents his/her own set of challenges.

Please do share any mysterious ways of your own kiddos or other kids you know by leaving a comment.


P.S. An update on Gerald and his skitters — He is doing well. And this week’s chicken dish appears to be safe eating. See? Nothing suspicious to see here.