Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Why I Think Everyone Should Abandon Their Kids for About a Week

We celebrated our 10 years of wedded bliss anniversary on the 16th of December. It truly has flown by so incredibly fast. We got to have a lot of downtime by celebrating on a cruise ship which ported in the BWI's at the Island of Grand Turk and then in the Bahamas at Princess Cays, a private island owned by Princess Cruise lines, but really an offshoot of the larger island of Eleuthera.

I enjoyed this time with my husband tremendously. We really didn't do too much thinking about the kids, which was helped and made okay by the fact that even though we had a cell phone, there was really no way to get in contact with us because we lost service somewhere in the open water. So, it was nice to not be thinking of them every second. Plus, with my mom watching them I knew they were in good hands. As it turned out, nobody was injured except her, and that was not even a little bit of a surprise.

As far as cruises go, apparently the Princess line is typically reserved for the retired crowd, but being a week before Christmas there was plenty of younger people and small kids on the boat. It was a good mixture of a crowd. We also heard some of the ins and outs from veteran cruisers (one couple we had dinner with was on their 50 something cruise). There was enough to do, especially on the islands, but John got a little bored during the At Sea days with just lying around by the pool. I had no problem really, but I like to read and was halfway through 'The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest". Fantastic read by the way.

So, here is a photo of one of the more interesting things that happened. We ported in Grand Turk next to the Prime Minister of Quatar. The jury is still out on whether or not he was on the boat, but his family was. This is the 4th most luxurious yacht in the world. Probably listed as the 4th because it had ONLY one helipad. It was truly a beautiful ship. Owned by some rich S.O.B. If I could flip this for you I would. This was taken during our 'formal night' which was a lot of fun. We sat in the fancy schmancy wine bar drinking expensive wine and eating sushi and watching the staff build a Champagne Waterfall. It was cool to watch.

This is John watching the boat leave without him.....Kidding! We actually had to be tendered in the life boats out to the Princess Cays island.

And here we have the big gigantor t.v. that you could watch movies under the stars on. They gave you popcorn and blankets. We didn't watch any movies per se, but we did enjoy watching the Bears beat Minnesota on Monday Night Football. Funny story...on our honeymoon in St. Lucia we watched a WGN Tom Skilling weather report describing the horrible Chicago Snow Storm we were missing. Ten years later, We're watching the Bears tear down the Vikings in freezing cold. Isn't it ironic?

Yay. There I am on a tropical Island, but my husband didn't know how to use the zoom feature on the camera.

Okay, so we went on an island excursion. Which was waaay overpriced, but I learned a few things. Apparently Turk was a huge importer of salt. They had this amazingly complex way of diverting the ocean water into the inland areas and drying it out. Thus, their economic basis. This, me next to a giant pile of salt.

It's my shadow.

I love the beach. I love the ocean. It was a little chilly, and a little rough, but we had fun jumping into the waves.

Ahhhh....This island was beautiful. This is where I was 3 days before Christmas.

This is taken our last night.

The gorgeous over the ocean sunset, also taken our last night. Since my camera has video capabilities, I videoed the sunset so that the kids could see how fast the eart really spins. I don't think they quite got it.

I am happy to report that on this cruise I didn't gain any weight. I can see how easy that would be, what with the gourmet all you can eat buffet. And I'm serious about it being Gourmet. This wasn't any old Ol Country Buffet crap. They had lobster claws in the buffet. Anywho, John and I decided to enjoy ourselves, but we also decided not to visit the burger place on the boat, because we can get burgers any time. And we also ixnayed the pizza bar. We live in Chicago for goodness sakes, a pizza bar on a boat could never compare.
I also had one of the best massages I've ever had. The masseuse thought I was in my early 20's, much too young to have 3 kids. And she said that I must be happy with what I'm doing because it keeps me young.
So, yes, I am happy. I'm so glad John and I had this opportunity. We spent part of the time speculating on where our 15 and 20 year anniversaries will take us, but we know we have plenty of time for that. Still, it was good to reconnect, whether at the wine bar, or pool side, or during tea time (mmm...pastries) or during the hypnotists show (so awesome!). I really do recommend couples go away for a bit of time away from the kids though. I keep telling John that I don't want to be like Al Gore, or other people who find out when their kids leave that all they really liked about each other were their kids.
I suppose I don't have to worry about that one though...we still really really like each other too.
And so I leave you with another awesome sunset....

Just kidding, there's more. This is me taking a picture of John taking a picture.

Truly, one of my favorite pics from the trip. Mostly because of how natural it is. He looks red because we were watching the sun set. But this is John's real happy face, not the face you see in the posed pictures he takes.

Okay, now this. THIS is a joke. He was annoyed I took the pic, but then he thought that this was really funny, so he decided to frame it for his sister to put on her wall, so that any time she was in doubt about a decision she has to make, all she has to do is look at this and think, "WWJD". Or, What Would John Do. And the face will give her the direction she needs.

Love that he's got such a GREAT sense of humor. Maybe, really, THAT is what keeps me young. Because if laughter is the best medicine, that's probably the reason I'm never really sick.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

On Cruise Control

Those of you on facebook know that they have recently updated the profile page. It looks wonderfully overwhelming. You can also add information in about where you live, work, eat, sleep, crap, and whatnot. The new profile asks you to answer questions such as the following: Who inspires you? And "Who are your favorite athletes"?

My favorite athletes....that one is easy. I could get all Chicago-ey on people and be lame and say oooohh... Ron Santo (May he rest in peace), or Michael Jordan. But that would not be true. My favorite athletes are also some of the same people who inspire me. JulzHolla www.weisswomen.blogspot.com being one of them. And www.momontherocks.com Leslie being another. These women are amazing mothers, friends, and yes, athletes. The three of us tackled the Omaha Olympic distance tri together this summer, and I got to not only accomplish something HAYUGE but I was inspired by how hard they work, how they cheer each other on (and me too), and seriously, how they made so many friends before, during, and after the event. When I say these women are so open and loving they make friends everywhere, it is not a joke. And so for this they are 2 of my favorite athletes.

Then there's Keri www.baylorandbrody.blogspot.com. A natural athlete who keeps wanting to race with me, but I can't because I'm pretty sure I'd be embarrassed by how good she is. And yet, she manages to balance work, family and play very well. Nicely done.

Some of my other favorite athletes are also my local runner friends, Cheryl who always kicks my butt when we do our Run for the Bear cancer run, Julie and Kim....who keep me motivated to run a 9.3 mile race and continue training all the time.

These are my favorite athletes, because they have touched my life and made it better. I don't care about some showboating, penis waving, crotchety old hack of a famous quarterback. Give me my girls.

The other question was about who inspires me. I could say something prolific like, "Mother Teresa", but that's pretty lame because she should inspire everybody to do good for others. Nah. As I said, my favorite athletes are the same people who inspire me.

But, there's also my yoga instructor Jean, who during her practice teaches us to follow our own inner guide and only speak words which are intentional, kind, true and necessary. Think about that for a moment. Or ten. Only speak that which is kind. True. And Necessary-the hardest part. Have you done that today? It's hard to do all three at once, but with intentional practice works wonders for your soul.

My Pastors inspire me. They don't rant and rave about God Almighty so much as gently coax those of us lucky enough to sit in the pews on a Sunday to be an example of God's love and kindness to others all the days of our lives. Every month they send out a flier with words of wisdom, and I have saved them on more than one occasion.

As most of you know, John and I are going on a 10 year celebrate our anniversary cruise next week (thanks Ma for watching the kiddos). Sometimes I wonder what the hell we were thinking doing this so close to Christmas! There are parties to be had. Presents to be bought and wrapped. The house needs to be clean. I realized though, how important it was to celebrate such an achievement, because to get to 10 years and live in the minority of statistical marital evidence deserves a CELEBRATION! In the midst of all the craziness of preparing for the cruise, I got the Newsletter from our church Pastors, and it could not have come at a more appropriate time.

Thus, I leave you with their words that inspire me, and inspire peace. A true "Recipe for Peace".

"A Recipe for Peace

Wouldn't it be nice if there were peace on earth, peace within our families, and peace within ourselves? If we couldn't have these, wouldn't it be nice to have peace at least a few days before or after Christmas? We all know what time of year this is, Christmas time. During Christmas, we are often short of money, short of time, and short of temper, short of patience. In preparations for the Prince of Peace, wouldn't it be nice to have a little bit of Christmas peace at your house or mine?

Down deep inside of every human being, there is a deep God-given longing that there would be a greater sense of peace within ourselves, within our families, within our nation, an between nations. Isaiah, the prophet, had the same longings. During his time, his people had been fighting for forty years. Can you imagine what it is to live in Palestine or Afghanistan, or Iraq today? Isaiah knew that when God created humankind it was not Gods' intention for us, parents and children, and blacks and whites and Arabs and Israelis, and Persians and Americans, Muslims and Christians, to be at war with each other.

Isaiah knew and understood the recipe for peace so that the people of Israel could live at peace with each other. So he gave them the recipe, but they didn't understand it, so for 700 years the people continued to fight with each other until the Prince of Peace, Jesus, came to earth and actually walked in the paths of peace.

The first part of this recipe is this: a person needs o be filled with the Spirit of the Prince of Peace, Jesus. When the Spirit of the Prince of Peace begins to live inside of you, you start becoming a peaceful person, more tolerant, more at ease. You can't skip that ingredient in the recipe.

Second, anytime the Spirit of the Prince of Peace lives inside of you, it results in righteousness, right relationships between two people or nations. Righteousness is to treat each other with gentleness, kindness, and forgiveness. Righteousness always consists of a healthy dose of forgiveness. You can't have peace in any family without forgiveness. You cannot have peace without righteousness. You just can't.

Third, anytime the Spirit of the Prince of Peace lives inside of you, it results in justice. You cannot have peace without justice, fairness, equity for the millions or billions on earth who are hungry and starving and don't have clean water or gainful employment.

However, we want to take shortcuts. There are not shortcuts to peace in our families, and not shortcuts to peace within our inner hearts and minds, and no shortcuts to peace in the world. there are no shortcuts to God's peace. All three steps are needed; all three ingredients are absolutely essential; the Prince of Peace inside, righteousness, and justice. We need ALL THREE ingredients or it won't work.

The angels in the Christmas story were singing high above the shepherds and they sang, "Peace on earth, good will towards all people, with whom God is well pleased." The angels did not sing, " Peace on earth for all people....Peace on earth carte blanche. Anyone with a credit card can charge it." Rather, the song of peace adds a crucial ingredient, "with whom God is well pleased:' that is, people who do the will of God will find peace. Many people want the shortcut and omit the phrase, "with whom God is well pleased." Do you long for peace? Do you long for peace in your marriage, in your family, in yourself? Do you long for peace among the nations? Yes, we all do.

Peace can actually happen......You see given time, and certain conditions peace can and does happen, even to all of you cynics that don't believe in God's peace. Peace can happen in your marriage, in your children, in your workplace. We know that there are no shortcuts to peace, although some people foolishly try them. There is a recipe for peace: The Prince of Peace inside our hearts and motivations who then work for righteousness and justice. When it is all done, many individuals, families and nations find peace and live in peace.

We all know what time of year this is, Christmas time. Will you be short of time, short of temper, short of patience, short of tolerance and understanding? In preparation for the Prince of Peace, wouldn't it be nice to have a little bit of Christmas peace at your house or mine?"