Monday, December 31, 2007

From the Mountains to the Beach

We arrived home from our mountain vacation in Gatlinburg, TN on Christmas Eve, spent Christmas day with family, repacked our truck and headed to the beach for a week. My dad owns a beach house (as a 2nd home) and since he spent Christmas in Branson, Missouri this year I asked him if we could stay in his beach house for the week.

My step-daughter came with us so it was Greg and I and the two kids. It was awesome!
We had rain a couple of days but the weather was basically nice and sunny. The kids were even able to go out in the canoe one day!

One thing they got the most enjoyment out of was feeding the birds! Greg went by the day-old bread store and bought a huge garbage bag of "day-old bird bread" - they sell it for $1.99 and it comes with about 20 loafs of bread in there. The kids went through all that bread in 3 days - feeding the seagulls, herons, pelicans, and Canadian geese that came up. I have video of the geese swimming up to the pier and eating out of their hands.

Slideshow of our time in Gatlinburg

Greg & I (along with our black lab) arrived in Gatlinburg, Monday 12/17 around 5:00 pm. We invited my mom and step-dad to join us for the week so Dakota rode with them in their van - they have the DVD player that he can hook up his xbox to and play games the whole trip up so makes for a great trip for him! They didn't arrive until about 1:00 a.m. Tuesday! Greg & I had an evening to ourselves - very nice!!

Most of the day Tuesday everyone rested from the 8-10 hour car rides the day before. I played games on my computer, got in the hot tub, took a nap, read a book and was just plain lazy all day long.

On Wednesday we went to the Arts & Crafts Loop which is an 8-mile drive through this community of arts & crafts stores/vendors. We saw about 1/8th of what there was to see!! We are going back in February for a Marriage Retreat with our church and I am scheduling this activity for one of the days! LOL

On Thursday we decided to go into the Smokey Mountain National Park and drive up to Newfound Gap and on over to Cherokee, NC where we ate lunch and did some shopping.

One of our favorite places to visit everytime we go to Gatlinburg is The Donut Friar.
It is a tiny little shop that has the absolute best donuts anywhere!! (Even better than Krispy Kreme!) My sweetheart got up around 6:00 am the first morning after we arrived and drove down the mountain into town and got some fresh donuts from this store....awwwww, these are just heavenly. After this, my mom and dad were hooked! We showed them where the store was and they went back themselves 2-3 times! LOL

We did a lot of walking around and shopping in the little stores around Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge the week before Christmas. We were not really exchanging gifts with anybody this year except my dad/step-mom and my in-laws so we had to find gifts for them while we were out of town.

We attended one dinner show - Black Bear Jamboree. It was a fantastic show and the dinner was outstanding but I wasn't happy at all with the seating arrangments. I won't go back to that show again because of that!

The day before we had to leave - Greg, Dakota, Jet and I drove back into the Smokey's and over to Cades Cove for the day. Dakota wanted to go hiking but it was really too cold to hike to any of the waterfalls or anything so we figured he could get a look at all the old cabins and churches and be satisfied with what little bit of hiking we had to do to get to those places. He was pleased - he fell asleep on the way home! LOL

We drove home Christmas Eve...had an uneventful drive home, Praise God! I couldn't believe it was Christmas Eve and we were not out shopping (as was normally our custom!) It felt so odd to both Greg and it wasn't really Christmas time, but we both agreed this was the best way to spend Christmas and we are definitely doing it again next year!!!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

We are in Gatlinburg and it is so beautiful!

We arrived yesterday in Gatlinburg! It was 26 degrees last night! Wow, big difference from our home in FL - LOL. I researched cabins/chalets for 3 days before finally finding one that accepted large pets AND was within our price range. We had never rented a chalet before up here - we've always stayed in hotels - we weren't sure what to expect. When we got here we were THRILLED with the home!! Oh my goodness the view is AWESOME! There's a little bit of snow around the house but lots of snow on the mountains that we can see (our view). We are here for a week. Feels so good to just get away and relax.....

Friday, December 14, 2007

Blog Friends Award

I received an award! My first in this blog world and it came from my friend, Sniz, who never fails to crack me up with her witty blog! I've posted this award in my sidebar. Thanks Sniz!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Walmart Troubles

My daughter, Felicia, lives in Hawaii. She knows how much I love my black labrador retriever. For my birthday she wanted to give me a statue similar to this one with our last name engraved on the plaque instead of "Welcome". She ordered it from and had it sent to my local Walmart through the site to store shipping program they offer.

I received an email yesterday letting me know my order was ready to be picked up. In the email I see that I am getting a Labrador statue...14" tall but that's all I know at this point.

I go to the store to pick up my birthday gift and the salesclerk brings out this small box and proceeds to open it up and pulls out an engraved nameplate and looks at me and smiles. "Okay, that's nice...where's the rest of it?" I ask her

She says "This is the only box." So I said "Well, is there more in that box? Because on my paper right here it says there is supposed to be a 14" Labrador statue and I don't believe that will fit in that small box." She says "No this is all there is. You'll have to call Walmart's customer service to find out what happened to the rest of it."

WHAT?! EXCUSE ME?! Aren't YOU Wal-mart customer service??~~~I leave there with an 800 number to call. So on my way home I call this 800 number and it literally takes me 20 minutes to get through to a real live person!! By this time my temper is starting to simmer just below angry. I explain the situation to the customer service representative on the phone and after waiting a few minutes for her to access the order she tells me "Hmmm, it's showing online that this item is no longer available. I'm sorry, we are out of those."

I ask "Okay, what do you plan on doing about this." She says "Was there anything else you wanted to order?" I explain once again..."I didn't order this to begin with, it was a gift FOR me so I have no idea what's on your website." She says "Well if you have access to a computer perhaps you could find something else we could replace this with and we'll ship it to your home for free." I told her I would look at the website when I got home and see what I thought - I got her name and information and hung up the phone.

Once I got home and looked at their website I decided it was too much trouble to try and find something online when I could just go in the store and pick up something I wanted (I can always find something in the store! LOL)

So today after Dakota and I meet with our homeschool group at the park, we go into Walmart for me to get a refund. I go to Walmart's Customer Service (not to be confused with's customer service, mind you!) and am quickly told that since I only brought in the emailed paper that was good enough yesterday to pick up my package....and not the little receipt they handed me yesterday....they are unable to help me. I said "WHAT?! You can't use this order number and look this information up on your you did yesterday!?"

"No, ma'am. But you can go back to the Site to store area where you picked it up and see if they can help you?" I march back there and the same lady who "helped" me yesterday is back there and she remembers me but guess what? She can't help me either...BECAUSE...once I leave the store I have to have a receipt to get a refund. If I had just requested a refund yesterday while I was standing there instead of leaving the store and making that telephone call I could have eliminated all this aggravation. I told her this is the most ridiculous thing I've heard of...why on earth they would even ship the stupid thing without the rest of it is beyond me and now I have to make another trip back home and back to the store with the receipt....she started talking and apologizing and I just grabbed my box and walked off before I went off on her. I know it's not her fault but I was beyond angry and I was just about to be as un-Christlike as ever so right in the middle of her profusely apologizing I walked away.....

I really hate it when stores do stuff like this!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


I have a job moderating an online forum in my community. It is called Pcolamoms. What began back in May 2007 as a way to earn some extra money from home has turned into a wonderful network of new friends that I've begun meeting with regularly.

For the first time in about 10 years I have friends outside of church and family. It's a strange feeling because my husband doesn't know who these women are and they are such a part of my everyday life now. I have a group I meet with once a month (or every other month) for "Ladies Nights Out". We try to go to a nice restaurant for dinner and just spend time relaxing and getting away from the husbands and kids for an evening.

Then there is another group I meet with every Tuesday for lunch. We try different restaurants around town. I have really begun looking forward to these lunches. We laugh and joke around so much!

The last (and my most favorite friendships so far) to come from this group is my fellow homeschooling moms....we started meeting every Thursday with our kids back in August at a park for the kids to just get together and play. The kids look forward to this as much as the adults do. They all get along so well. Last Thursday we had a Christmas party for the kids at the park. Lots of sweets and a gift exchange. They had a blast!

Most of these women are not women I would ever have "hung out" with had it not been for Pcolamoms and stepping out of my comfort zone because many of them are not Christians and a lot of them like to party...BUT we do have being a mom/wife/women in common and I have found that's enough of a commonality to get a relationship started. On this forum there have been deaths, sicknesses, problems with children, frustrations with spouses & family members, and all kinds of other problems...I have witnessed the strong bond of "sisterhood" in every situation and it's remarkable to me how all these women can join together and rally around each other in times of need when the majority of them have only been "friends" in a virtual world - yet they still rise to the occasion as if their dearest childhood friend were the one in need.

Back in the springtime I began to pray to God for Him to expand my boundaries...God is faithful...all the time. (My Christian sisters know what I am talking about) Praise God!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Christmas in FL

December 9, 2007
Pensacola Beach, FL
Temp was in the high 70's
Sun kept going in and out of clouds and it was a windy day but I would rather be here than anywhere on a day like this in December! We took these pictures at the beach today.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

I'm 40!!

My birthday was yesterday - I turned 40 yrs old! I had a wonderful birthday celebration WEEK! I was taken out to lunch or had a party or something every day this week except yesterday (my actual birthday)...but that was okay because I was tired and wanted to rest during the day in anticipation of going out last night.

The morning started out wonderful with DH giving me a new DVD palmcorder (something I was totally not expecting) and a tripod/camera bag set (which is what I had asked for). The last few days he and my best friend CJ had gone back and forth about what we were going to do Friday night for my birthday. First I heard we were going out as couples, then I heard it had turned into a ladies night with just 2-3 of us, then I was told it may not happen at all. By the time last night rolled around I was VERY upset because Greg came home late from work and I couldn't get a hold of CJ and I didn't know what was going on.

I now know that was the "plan" all along! Let's just say I ended up walking out of the house as soon as Greg got home...none too happy with him...and in tears on my way to CJ's house. I was under the impression that because I had wanted to go bowling and Greg didn't want to go he had pawned me off on CJ and another friend so now it was just going to be the 3 of us going out instead of couples + Dakota (my son.) By the time I got to CJ's house I was ranting and raving and she & her hubby were just listening to me...being all sympathetic and saying "awww, we don't have to go out, you can go spend time with Greg."

LOL, I was saying "NO! If he doesn't want to be with me on my birthday then that's his choice...I'll celebrate without him. Guess it's not important enough for him. I've never done that to him!"

Well anyway we arrive (the 3 of us) at the Mexican restaurant and CJ tells the hostess "table for 3 please" and as she leads us to a booth I start to sit down and CJ turns around and starts walking away...and over to another set of tables where a group of my friends are sitting!!!

I was so shocked and overwhelmed! I couldn't believe they had done this. I was immediately horrified at my reaction to Greg and I told everybody right away "Oh my heart! I've got to call my husband!! I was sooooo ugly to him!" Of course they all got a huge laugh out of that! CJ starts telling everyone how mad I was and how she felt terrible and almost told me about the party...she felt so bad for Greg! My poor husband!

As soon as she "crowned me" and all that I called my dear Greggie and told him I loved him and thanked him. He told me to have a good time with my girlfriends...he and Dakota were going to have a "boy's night out."

After we finished eating and I opened gifts we went bowling. I had another friend meet me there - she couldn't make it in time to eat with us but she was able to come join us for the bowling. It was so much fun! I finally got home around midnight last night. I had the best birthday party ever with my gal pals!!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Really nice waitress

Dakota & I went to Jerry's Drive-In Restaurant yesterday after our homeschool Christmas party. He had never been there and I had only been there one time myself so I thought it would be a nice treat for him since I've heard they have Pensacola's BEST hamburgers and Dakota absolutely LOVES hamburgers!

After ordering our drinks, we start looking at the menu and only then do I see the sign on the menu that they don't accept credit/debit cards....only cash and checks. OH NO! You've got to be kidding me!? I NEVER EVER carry cash and I don't write checks. I quickly pull out my wallet and thank GOD I have a $10.00 bill in there...don't know where THAT came from? I tell Dakota our dilemma and the fact that we have already ordered our tea and coke which is $3.00 of our $10.00 available....if I had realized this 5 secs earlier we could have ordered water (grrrrr!) and he is looking at the menu and decides he wants a cheeseburger and cheese fries.

It turns out that Jerry's is pretty cheap so with our drinks and what he wants plus tax & tip it only came up to about 7.85 so we decided to stay and I let him order his food. I had nibbled on stuff at the party and wasn't as hungry as he was plus I'm not a red meat eater so nothing really enticed me here anyway. But when the waitress came to take our order and I told her what Dakota wanted she said "You don't want anything?" I said "no thank you...I didn't realize you guys didn't take credit cards and I'm limited on my cash so I'll wait til later." She said "Oh, I'm so sorry!"

His food came out within 5 minutes and when she brought it out she asked me if I would like some fries or something...her treat! I thought that was so nice of her. I declined though - I really wasn't that hungry and after seeing the huge portion of fries on my son's plate I knew he wasn't going to eat them all and I would be sharing with him! LOL

My Son Found His Christmas Spirit

This holiday season has been difficult. It has been the first holiday without my daughters around and I've realized how much I've truly missed them. We liked baking and shopping together; making gifts for people; doing charitable things throughout the season (Angel Tree, collecting coats for the homeless or blankets for nursing home patients)...we were always doing stuff together and it was great while it lasted - I praise God for the good times!
This picture of the girls was taken last 2006.

Now it's just Dakota and I and my sweet little man is just that...a young boy growing away from his momma and NOT interested in the same stuff I'm in to. He hasn't been very much into Christmas this year. I've practically dragged him to the few "festive" things we have attended. I had decided I wasn't even going to decorate - if he didn't care, I didn't care and I wasn't going to bother with decorating (yeah, I know...real mature of me wasn't it?! LOL) We are leaving on the 17th to go to Gatlinburg, TN for the holidays anyway so I figured why bother?

That was until yesterday...
I had told Dakota Wednesday night on the way to church that after our Christmas party Thursday (with his homeschool group) I wanted he & I to go by the mall and pick a name off the Angel Tree and shop for the child whose name we choose. We had a lengthy discussion in the car because Dakota told me he didn't want to do that...I could do it by myself. To make a long story short - he didn't have a choice - and after our party yesterday we DID go to the mall and once he saw all those names on the tree I think something must have tugged his heart strings because he realized the "need" and wanted to help out then. He chose a boy the same age as himself and he had a great time shopping for the little boy!

While we were shopping, we were having such a good time and we came across these white Christmas trees - we both said "Oh, let's get one of these!!"

I let him pick out the decorations and much to my surprise - Dakota came home and pretty much put this tree up and decorated it by himself!! LOL I helped just a little - VERY little! After we were done, we ate pizza and watched two Christmas movies....what an awesome night we had!!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

All time Favorite Christmas Movie

Thanks to a friend who found this video for me...I LOVE this movie!!

Weather Blues

Okay so I looked back over my blog because I thought I had posted about the "cold" weather setting in once already - well I was wrong! After that initial 1-3 day cold snap it warmed back up quite nicely and it has been in the 70's here.....BEE-U-TIFUL!
MY kind of weatherPhoto Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
So yesterday I wake up with the AC on, wearing shorts and it's a gorgeous day until about 3:00 in the afternoon and the temperature starts to plummet!!
This morning I get up and Greg is turning off our fan (we keep on our dresser - mainly for "white noise")and cranking up the heater and I flip on the TV and it's like 22 degrees outside!!Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
I never understand how the temperature can drop so much in one 24 hour time's no wonder our allergies go crazy here in FL!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Charlie Brown Christmas

I remembered to watch this tonight! Actually I forgot until one of my very good friends called me to tell me it was coming on TV. I have Snoopy as my background on my myspace page and I love the Peanuts gang! Since I very rarely watch TV, I never remember to look for when this is going to come on. This is so sweet....

40 years old this Friday

I'm going to be 40 years old this Friday. I've been okay with this. 40 isn't old! I look better now than I did at 30. I feel better about myself-- more confident, more secure.

So why the heck have I been so weepy the last week?? Oh my goodness it has been terrible! It finally donned on me though.....It's not that I'M turning's this time of the year and I no longer have little ones around to share the excitement of Christmas with.

Greg and I went to Cracker Barrel Saturday morning and there was a precious little boy and his momma eating breakfast together....he was probably 2 1/2-3 yrs old and as he walked by everyone's table he said "Bye" and waved. Just watching him made me start crying! THAT is what makes me sad about turning 40 this week - my children are grown and gone and I do so miss those days.

I love parties

At church, Greg and I attend a Sunday school class (called Group Life) which consists of people much older than ourselves. We like the spiritual maturity of this class and most of this class participates in mission trips - which is MY passion so I have a lot in common with many of the older people in my Group Life class. However, we also attend the Group Life fellowships of another class because these people are more our peers and the ladies I hang out with on a daily basis.

We went to this Class party Saturday night. It was so much fun!! We had a ton of food - everyone brought appetizers and desserts to eat - and we played the "Dirty Santa" game - we had male & female presents to pick from. This was the most fun of the entire evening. I just love going to parties!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Holiday Evening in Olde Seville Square - NOT!

Greg had to work late last night so Dakota and I attended the annual "Holiday Evening in Olde Seville Square" celebration in the downtown park. I haven't taken Dakota to this since he was a small child. He was in one of his "moods" last night - not wanting to stay home, but really not wanting to go to this event either. I was meeting a couple of my friends down there and he was mad because none of his friends were going to be there. I had tried to find one of his that could go with us but none were available.

We got there right as everything was starting. There were hundreds and hundreds of people there so it took us a few minutes to find my friends and set up our chairs. The local bagpipe band was playing Christmas music to begin with - they have such a neat sound to them!

Dakota sat between one of my friends and I, which was fine with me - I know he didn't want to be left out entirely of the conversations - but his behavior during the event continued to go south...along with my mood.

The whole evening consisted of different local bands performing Christmas music, the lighting of the huge park Christmas tree, the arrival of Santa Claus, and a local newscaster reads "Twas the Night Before Christmas" - but it's done in an audience-interactive way which is lots of fun! The evening ends with mass caroling by candlelight. This is all done downtown at the park so people bring tables and chairs and have picnics and dance and just have a really good time. Well, Dakota kept complaining about one thing after another and I finally had my fill of his attitude.

He knew when he had pushed me too far - I stood up and started packing up my chair and he asked me what I was doing. I told him to get his stuff, we were going home! He then begin to say "no, we don't have to leave, stop mom, don't pack up your stuff, we can stay. I don't want to leave...." as he tried to "help" me unpack my bag chair. I whispered ever so lovingly in his ear "you have embarrassed me for the last hour with your attitude and I am now ready to have about 10 seconds to gather your belongings before I embarrass you in front of these hundreds of people like you've never been embarrassed before and I am angry enough to do it so don't try me!"

We rode home in complete silence...when he came in to kiss his daddy goodnight and tell him he loved him he looked at me and said "Good night MS. ELISA!"
Alas, today is a new day!