Nana and Ayda playing patty cake

Nana and Ayda playing patty cake

“I luff you Nana”, she said.  Now, I’m not entirely sure if she meant those words this particular time from the bottom of her nearly three year old heart, or if it was the overwhelming gratitude she felt at my latest promise.  I had just said, “Nana will send you the Peter Pan movie”.

For anyone who has the immense, incomparable pleasure of being a grandparent, it really doesn’t matter why they said it.  It melts your heart, liquefies it right into a puddle of love.  Those four little words make you feel like the most important person on earth.  They are coveted words and not always shared so freely by our independent little cherubs.

Before we were blessed with Ayda, I remember other grandparents and their endless pictures and chatter about their precious little ones, the most brilliant little people ever conceived.  I thought I understood.  I didn’t.  Not even close.

I was there when she was born.  After my nervousness for the safety and health of my eldest throughout the process, I was blissful to see the little dark haired head make its entry on the scene.  The thrill of her first cries upon encountering this big, bright world overwhelmed me.

I remember my first trip back out to California after they had been to visit for an extended period.  Her daddy had been in Afghanistan serving his country, so they stayed with us during his tour of duty.  She wasn’t very old and it had been a few months since I’d seen her.

My daughter picked me up from the LA airport, in the early evening and we enjoyed catching up on the drive back to Temecula.  Ayda was playing at a friend’s house and we stopped by there to pick her up.  She sat in her car seat and jabbered all the way home.  I couldn’t wait to get my hands on her but I wasn’t sure she would welcome being held.

I will never forget getting out of the car at their apartment and her little arms reaching out for me, just like those months between visits had never passed.  And oh, the feeling when those chubby little arms hugged me ever so tightly.  I still get tears in my eyes thinking about it.  She remembered!

Am I smitten?  Totally!  In love with her?  Absolutely!  And don’t even begin to think you can understand, unless you’re one of the proud, the elite, the grandparents!!

Wide awake in 406

Hotel Bed

The third night in a hotel is supposed to be the one where I finally fall asleep at a decent hour and sleep through the night (for the most part).  I guess it was not to be.

I did fall asleep early, snuggled in bed, ready to make my way to dreamland by around 9pm.

Suddenly, I awake to what sounds like a car alarm going off.  Groggy. I perched myself up on the overabundance of pillows and bed coverings (I think hotels think if they put 6 pillows on the bed it will make up for the fact that not one of them are a good pillow)  to try to get my wits about me.  My heart is pounding, like hearts do when woken up in the middle of the night.

Oh, I left the television on, that must be where the sound is coming from.  I search for the remote frantically thinking the quicker I can make it stop, the better chance I have of simply falling back asleep.  Found it, click.

Okay, so now it’s pitch black in my room, but the noise is still going strong.  I stumble over to the desk, thinking for some reason that the sound is coming from that area – is it the lamp?  Did a prior sleep deprived traveler leave some sort of alarm in the drawer?

Oh hey, there’s a window.  Let me find all 3 sets of window hangings and move them out-of-the-way so I can look out.  Maybe if someone is breaking in I will see them.  “Yes, because surely they would still be there hanging out after all this time”, I say to myself sarcastically  ‘maybe they will even look up to the 4th floor and wave”.

Sure enough, it is a car, no visible intruders, flashing and honking awake everyone on this side of the hotel who happens to be a light sleeper like myself.  My husband would sleep right though it.

Since there is nothing I can do and I’m sure someone has reported to the front desk by now, I decide it best to lay down and try to go back to sleep or at least be ready to when it stops.  I realize very quickly, sleep will be elusive for quite a while.

My half asleep but overly active mind begins to try to map out scenarios of what happened.  Did someone really try to break into the car, situated under a light in full view of one entire side of the hotel?  I decide it’s more likely that it’s an accident.  Then I begin to smile as I visualize a small child with keys dangling from their fingers and an evil laugh on their lips, singing na-na-na-na-na-na.  This makes me smile.

I imagine someone hanging their keys out of a 6th floor window, trying to stop the noise.  This makes me remember that these windows are locked and that makes me feel suffocated and imprisoned, contributing to my anxiety.  Maybe someone was bored and couldn’t sleep and decided no one else should be able to have that luxury either.

Then with my detective skills I have picked up from way too many episodes of CSI and Law and Order, I remember there was a tree directly over the car and I decide that something fell out of the tree and on to the car.   Case closed; now my mind can chill and perhaps I can sleep.

Some time in the middle of my musings, it stopped. I look at the clock and determine about 8 minutes have passed.  I rest my head on the lumpy pillow and try to get comfortable enough to sleep once again.  I was still checking the clock after 11pm.

It will be good to get home and sleep in my own bed.

More travel fun

Sign Taxi Zagreb, Croatia

Standing in line shivering outside the airport in the “taxi line”, I couldn’t help but wish it would move a little more quickly.  Finally, it was my turn and I was grateful when the door was opened and I could escape the winter chill.

I gladly jumped in and situated myself, happy that it was clean and didn’t smell like dirty socks.  The heater was on high, loud and doing its job well.  The driver was female; an absolute first for me in my taxi riding adventures and I’ve had quite a few.  Maybe this ride would be interesting.

She had on a jacket and scarf and seemed very comfortable with the heat blasting relentlessly in her face.  I was already beginning to re-think the heater.  From the backseat, feeling a little queasy already, I was dying to roll my window down and hang my head out.  Most normal people would have just told her that perhaps 100 degrees was a little too warm, but not me, I just sat there and griped in my head.

She pulled over to type the address into her cell phone GPS, and then we were off.  She operated the gas pedal like she was tapping out a beat (think whip lash) and made me nervous with her constant fiddling with the phone.  I wasn’t feeling too secure that she knew exactly where we were going, because every once in a while I would hear the phone say, “new route”.

She wanted to chat (I really didn’t) so we began to banter about where I was from and why I was here.  I asked her how long she had been in this business and she said 10 years.  She appeared to be quite a few years older than me and I found myself looking at her time worn hands.  I thought, “she looks very weary”.  I began to feel something more akin to compassion for her than irritation at her driving, poor choice of proper temperature and the inability to tell that I was not in the mood for mindless chitchat.

As we pulled up to my hotel, after passing it and having to turn around and go back, I was glad that I had been kind to her.  I’m sure that she deals with rude travelers all the time, but, by the grace of God, I wasn’t one of them.  It’s not so difficult to put others first and it always ends up being a blessing.

Oh and she asked me to call her for my return trip; I’ll have to think about that 🙂

Flashbacks of watermelon and nausea

My brother, Ronnie and I in 79' at picnic area in Iowa.

My brother, Ronnie and I in 79′ at picnic area in Iowa.

It was the summer of 1979 at a roadside stop in Iowa.  The day my hatred for all things watermelon began.  I ate WAY too much of it; haven’t been able to stand it since.  Something about the gluttony and the heat mixed together and let’s just say I had to empty my stomach of all of it before we could resume our trip.

The rest of that trip was a good one though; it was my mom, dad, brother, sister and I.  I don’t remember what our vehicle was at the time, but I’m sure the three of us kids were sliding around in the back seat without the restraint of seat belts.  One of us would make a loud slap noise on our own leg and then yell, “Mom, so and so hit me”; so and so was whoever we felt like getting into trouble.

I remember that quite often I got to ride in the front because I got carsick.  This wasn’t one of my sneaky little games either although my brother and sister always thought it was.  Mom and Dad would usually attempt to make me sit in the backseat, but after enough pleas to, “pull over, I think I’m going to puke!” I would soon find myself comfortably lodged right between them up front nearer the air conditioner.  Okay, I admit, I wasn’t always really sick, but most of the time I was.

This was especially necessary in the summer when it was hot or if we traveled mountainous or curvy terrain.  I went on a trip once with my grandparents and aunt and uncle and threw up in the Catskills.  I told people about that for months.  To this day, when someone mentions the Catskill Mountains, it’s always the first thing I think of.

After my move to the front seat, Dad would cajole me into singing along with whatever country song was on the radio or 8 track tape.  One of his favorites for me to sing was Jessie Colter’s, “I’m not Lisa”, or Crystal Gayle’s “Don’t it make my brown eyes blue”.  With my eyes being brown and my name being Lisa, this was always funny to me.

I loved traveling as a child and still do.  Some things about it haven’t changed.  There is something about heading out in the morning with coffee in hand, watching the sunrise as you countdown the miles to your destination.  Then there is the quality family time spent in the car together, arguing over the radio and temperature.  What about trying to get dad/hubby to stop for potty breaks and having him wait so long and pass so many possibilities that finally the only choice you have left is a nasty truck stop with no toilet paper or the other even less favorite option, the side of the road.

All in all, traveling with my family throughout the years holds more pleasant memories than bad ones.  Besides, looking back now, even the bad ones don’t seem so bad anymore.  I think it’s because we were together.

Ice machines in the night

Ice Cubes

I am heading home tomorrow from my most recent work trip and I couldn’t be happier!  Sleep has been elusive this trip and I will be happy to be back in my own bed.

Although I have admitted in past posts that I am a hotel snob, this one hasn’t been too bad (although it’s not my favorite chain and doesn’t have room service) except that I am near the elevator and the ice machine.  This hasn’t posed much of a problem as things have been fairly quiet, until last night.

I was deep in la la land and awoke with a start at the cacophony coming from just a few feet away from my hotel room door.  It startled me and took me a minute to identify the noise.  Some incredibly inconsiderate individual had decided to make use of the ice machine at approximately 10:0opm.   As enraged as I was to wake up this way, it took all I could not to open the door and say something (I have family members who are flipping out right now at this statement thinking “oh no, that would have put you in danger, never do that!”).  I have other friends who are thinking, “only 10:00, really, Lisa,?”.  Personally, I think all loud noise and even discussions in the hallways should cease after 9:00pm.

As I laid back down, knowing sleep would not return any time soon (thanks again, ice man), I heard it again and again and again.  By now I’m seriously wondering if he is building an ice rink in his room.  I remember thinking to myself, “the only way this would be justified is if someone in that room has a raging fever and he is giving them an ice bath to bring it down”.  Isn’t it odd the things we think in the middle of the night? Maybe he was a hunter and was bringing some venison home to the family?  Or maybe he stocked up at a sale on frozen stuff?   I decided that it was more likely that he was filling a cooler and then tried to figure out why he wouldn’t just use the nice little refrigerator in the room.  Besides, it’s been so cold here, I have no idea why anyone would even need ice.

Oh well, I never figured it out, and needless to say, by the time I feel back to sleep, I didn’t like the ice man very much (although I have forgiven him).  He robbed me of sweet, desperately needed slumber.  This made me wonder how many people (maybe even ice man) will be awakened by people like me with blow dryers, doors closing and briefcases or suitcases rolling  before 7:00am.  Live and let live I guess, right?

Here’s hoping for peaceful, quiet hallways tonight – Sweet dreams, my friends, wherever you may rest your weary heads 🙂

Wake up!

So how was your day?  Mine was good after another bumpy start.   I woke up almost an hour and a half later than what I intended.  This NEVER happens to me; I usually wake up prior to any alarms going off.  Besides, when I arrive at a hotel, I always test their automated wake up system the first night while employing a back up.  If it works, I use the automated system for the remainder of my stay.  Yes, I’m a little obsessive about that type of thing.  Tardiness is unacceptable in this situation (in my humble opinion).

So, the first night I was here, the automated system worked fine.  I set it for 5:30am and voila’, the phone rang promptly at 5:30am.  Success!  Last night, I enlisted the same system, snuggled in for a good nights rest and woke up at 6:55am.  Mind you, I had promised to be at the training center with my fellow instructors at 7:00am this morning.

This gave me approximately 30 minutes to not only shower, wash hair (it’s been a couple of days), dress, apply makeup, and make barely drinkable coffee, but also to drive there which would take at least 10-15 minutes, if traffic cooperated.  Yes, the coffee was a neccessity.  There was nothing in this list I could remove.

I looked at the clock with bleary, sleep-filled eyes, sprung out of bed and ran to the bathroom.  I jumped in the shower and remembered when my brother, sister and I were small and we would take our showers. If we finished too quickly to suit my dad, he would say, “What did you do, just run through the shower?”  And usually, we probably had done just that.  I did a little better this morning, but I don’t think I’ve ever washed and conditioned my hair so fast.  Have you ever noticed when you’re in a hurry, the soap will not stay in it’s resting place?

Shower over, I threw hair in a towel, slopped some makeup on without even neglecting moisturizer, picked out earrings to go with my outfit, dressed, packed up my bag, and made the coffee.  Making coffee in hotels nearly always irritates me; mostly because they either forget sugar/creamer completely or they are stingy with it.  Today it was because I poured in a full cup of water, but the coffee maker only returned half the cup.  Lots of evaporation going on there or something.  Oh well, at least I got two swallows on my way out the door.

I get to the lovely rental and it’s covered in ice.  Being a FL girl, and since it is a rental, I’m not prepared, but I don’t have time to go back in and do anything that would eat up precious minutes, not even for safety’s sake.  So, I did what most people would do (haha, probably not).  I turned on the windshield wipers full speed and was super thankful that the water sprayed out and wasn’t frozen.  The defroster worked on the rear window, so the only problem was the side windows, so I rolled them down and took off down the road with 40 degree wind blowing through my not entirely dry hair. 

Traffic was on my side and I made it in the door at 7:35.  The day was all uphill after that.  I’m still shocked at how quickly I got ready, but I have no desire to repeat in the near future.  I will probably employ at least three methods to ensure I get that wake up call in the morning!

Vainly searching

English: Avon Daring Curves Mascara. Español: ...

 Today started out okay if it weren’t for that one thing!  I got up on time and was dressed, ready and out the door by 6:30 but sans mascara; the one item I forgot.  I’m certainly not going to teach a class without it; my eyes will look bare.  No worries, I’ll just stop at a drug store on the way and pick some up.  Yeah, right!  No such thing enroute to the training center. 

Even though my GPS refused to cooperate with the address of my intended location, and I had to go back inside the hotel and print out some help from mapquest, I still managed to arrive early.  I figured since it wasn’t even daylight yet,  I would continue looking for a “mascara” store.  I wanted more coffee anyway.  I’m independent, self-reliant, I could do this. 

I continued down a winding, hilly road, filled with blind curves.  I even found myself singing, “The long and winding road” by the Beatles.  You just sang a line too, didn’t you?  Fresh in my memory from my last trip out this way was the discussion about the abudance of deer and the admonition to be very careful so I didn’t hit one.  Granted, my rental car is ugly but I don’t want to return it with dents or worse.

So to imagine the scene now, it’s still before daylight and I’m poking along in my hideous rental, braking at the top of each hill (because I’m used to flat land and who knows what is on the other side) and behind me trails a line of headlights.  The poor locals who have the pleasure of following a FL girl, unsure of herself in the hill country, are probably about to lose their patience with me.  I’m driving along feeling badly for all the times I get impatient with tourists at home (although I doubt most are in hot pursuit of mascara!)  I did have to brake for one deer and that made me feel a little more justified in my creeping along under the speed limit.

I continued on, for approximately 7 miles, not finding a safe place to stop or turn around.  I finally reached a dead end and right in front of me was an old gas station.  You know the type; pigs feet and dill pickles on the counters and bathrooms on the outside (with the big key rings that you don’t want to touch). I didn’t go inside, but I didn’t really have to (that last epidsode of Criminal Minds I watched was flashing back).  I’m thinking an unexpired tube of mascara would have been way too much to ask for anyway.  So, I turned around and went back the way I came.

Can you believe I went to all of this trouble because I was worried about naked eyelashes?   Well, the day went along fine and if anyone noticed, they didn’t mention it and I forgot it too as time passed.  For those who know me, this was a major accomplishment.  

So after class, I went sightseeing and took a few pictures and I even managed to locate a Target before I settled in at the hotel for the night.  Yes, I bought some mascara (and peanut m&m’s), so let’s see what tomorrow brings.  If nothing else, my eyes will look good.



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