Living the Dream

Living the Dream

Monday, April 27, 2015

Aruba or Bust ..... 2015

The company I work for has the most incredible incentive trips.  Basically, you work your tail off for 12 months, sell about $1 million in business, and Boom.... you find yourself in exotic places....with a guest of your choice. 

Last year I took Lacey.  We went on a cruise and had some FUN FUN FUN.  You can read about our adventures on last years blog.  I'm too tired to give you the link, so get creative and look in April of 2014 and you will find our fun there. 

This year I was delighted to find out that we would be treated to an extraordinary week in beautiful Aruba.  I got to work, and made this happen.

Kip is my next choice of travel companion, so I asked her how weird it would be to ditch her husband on their 1st anniversary so she could go lay on a beach with her madre, and she quickly replied,  "He'll get over it."

Ok, she didn't really say that, but she did say a version of that, and he agreed that she should accompany me to this fairytale getaway, with one condition.... he gets in the rotation of the trip companions. 

Everyone knows that Lacey is about 100 weeks pregnant, so I flew Kip home on Saturday (before we left on Monday), so she could rub her sister's feet, and see how fun it was to be 100 weeks pregnant.  I had the crew with me in Dallas for Hallie's volleyball tournament (gee, what's new), so she and her sister organized Deaton's room and got the Kipalicious finishing touches, and now, all that room needs is the baby.

The children and I rolled in from Dallas about 5 pm on Sunday, and as I frantically got all my Aruba gear ready, and got everyone organized for a week "without mom", the hours rolled by, and the next thing I was 4 am, and Kip and I were rolling toward the airport.  (Yes, our airplane left at 6 AM)
The flight to Atlanta was short (since we slept the entire way) and again, I marveled at how easily my Kipster can sleep.  I've always said this kid can sleep standing up, and she didn't disappoint me. 

When we got to Atlanta, we started seeing faces that we recognized, especially these two beauties, ready to hit the beach!!!

Lauren and her look alike sister, Leah Baughman from Ohio sat right in front of us on the plane.  Lauren and I met when we went through training a couple of years back, and I am always thrilled to see her, and had a great time meeting her sister this trip.  They are FUN, with a capital FUN.  (and super tan now, thanks to their week in the sun)

I have to tell you.  I am a lover of flying.  I have never had too many problems with flying (ear problems here and there, but nothing serious).  It was turbulent for about half of the flight, and I sat with the air conditioner blowing full blast on my face, and two hurl bags clutched in each hand, fearful that the next bump bump bump of the plane was going to have me bring up all my sweet tea I had been inhaling that morning. 

It. Was. Miserable.

I still managed to take some great pictures between nausea bouts

It's about a 4 1/2 hour flight from Atlanta to Aruba.  Aruba is ALMOST to Venezuela.  You can actually see buildings in Venezuela from the beach, when it's clear.  So it is quite a ways to Aruba.  And seasick most of the way was NOT a stellar way to travel.   As we were taxiing in, I swear if we hadn't touched down when we would have not been pretty.   But thankfully, we landed in the nick of time, and TAH-DAH, we were THERE!

80% humidity and about 85 degrees.  I immediately looked like a sweaty hot mess.  It was glorious.

We checked into the hotel and was greeted by the most organized and efficient staff EVER.  Marriott Stellaris Casino and Hotel....2 huge thumbs up for the staff and resort...just incredible.  The girl that checked us in, excitedly exclaimed to us,  "You have ZE best Rum in Ze resort!", and we smiled and nodded, and as we walked off, Kip ventured, "That had to make the dude checking in next to us feel special".

And seriously.....She was NOT kidding


Here's the pano from our balcony of our view.  It was stunning.

We got to open our eyes up and see this every.single.morning.   What a paradise on God's earth.

We dumped our bags, and we had been given a magic green bracelet to wear.  This bracelet assured us food and drink all the live long day. 

We took advantage of it right away.  We were both starving, and it was about 3 hours before we had our first company function, so we availed ourselves of the restaurant on site. 

After we had swallowed our tongues when we viewed the prices, we decided we weren't going to let that deter us, and ordered us some dinner.   $120 later, we left. 


The prices were horrendously ridiculous, and I just seriously don't know how families that don't have that green bracelet can manage to vacation there.  We ate at a pasta/lobster buffet, and a plate of penne pasta with just marinara (no meat) and we both had a couple of pieces of shrimp and a big plate of salad.  $240.

But mainly, when we weren't fainting over the price of our food, we laid on the beach and stared at the ocean.  and the people.  and the ocean.   and the people.  and each other.   and the ocean.   Then we'd go get a virgin strawberry daiquiri and have brain freezes, and stare at the water some more.   and the people.  then the water.  

We did that for about 5 days. 

It was supercalifragilisticexpealidocious.

I didn't realize just how tired I was until I sat on a chair in Aruba.

We did a lot of this.

And when I wasn't doing that..... I spent some quality time in here.

It's extremely rare (almost non-existent) that a bathtub can fit my whole body in, without feet having to be up on the wall, or crossed indian style to fit in a tub.....this tub was a 6 footer and probably 12 inches deep.  If it had had jets in it, I would have been hard pressed to ever leave it the whole it was probably a good thing it didn't.  I was a squeaky clean citizen.

Even with 50 spf sunscreen I still managed to burn the ole limbs.  I had crossed my right leg over my left leg as I sat and ocean/people gazed, so I had a gnarly white streak across my left leg.  It was super duper sexy.

I enjoyed the contrast of traveling with my girls.  Last year, it was all about the people, staying busy, doing stuff, keeping to a schedule, all the things my Lacey loves to do. Super duper fun.....keeps things a movin. This year, it was all about the way the brick was laid to make the path to walk on, the big giant vases in the main foyer of the hotel, the architecture of the pool, and the landscaping.  It was all about how long we could sit still until we were almost comatose.  I took the right kid with me for this trip.  She is all about "island time".  It took us an entire game of Phase 10 (Hall rules), to get our meal one evening.....if you are familiar with phase 10, you know that is a LONG time, even playing Hall rules.  Kip never gets ruffled about much, even when an iguana falls off an awning, practically in front of her, she just keeps on trucking.  I was kidding her about taking Hallie with me to next years trip (Moon Palace in Cancun), about how she will NEVER let me rest one second next year, and sure enough...when I got home, Hallie has ALREADY researched ZIP LINES and found the one we are going to be excursioning to next summer.  Good thing she gave me a heads up, maybe I can start a zip line fund to get that done. daughters.                                                                                                                                                                                                                    We had an awards ceremony on the final night we were there, and I wasn't expecting anything at all this year, because I didn't have a banner year in sales.  Oh I won the trip, but there were a ton of people that sold over a million, so I went to eat and cheer on my comrades.

When Todd Carlson, our company VP started talking about the Jay Pittman Memorial Award, I remembered last years winner, Steven Moore, how he courageously fought cancer, and came out a victor in his journey, and worked through the whole process.  What a guy.  I tuned in when he started talking about the winner for this year, and I thought to myself.....Hmm.  That sounds kind of like me....and when he said "Blog", I thought (I'm sorry to say I did think this)  CRAP,  That IS me.  My manager, Kristen Beulen, wrote a terrific nomination letter, which made me sound way cooler than I really am, and I'll be double dogged danged, if I didn't win that sucker.  And got a standing ovation.  SHUT. UP.   It really happened.

Here I am with Robert Finley, fellow Select Producer extraordinaire, with his Top 10 salesman award!! (He won a rolex this year, making President's Club....I'm doing that next year (fingers crossed)... we will see).  Robert and his wife Robyn live in Peoria, Illinois and I got to know them last year on the cruise, when Lacey & I shared the dinner table with them every night.  Robyn and I are sisters from another mother.  True Story.  And this year, they gained another family member, when Kip got to know them.

I laugh so hard when I am around them, because Robert is a nut, and Robyn is his darling half, and together they make just the most perfect couple around.  Love me some Finleys.  And we also enjoyed spending time with Brenda Roberts and her husband, Monte.  The stories they share, and Kip and Brenda's love of architecture and design, made them the perfect dinner companions for our evenings out.  Just a wonderful blend of humor and knowledge.   What a great time.

And that meal only cost about $250.  Thankfully they put it all on Monte's room.  That was cool.

And before we turned around twice, it was time to go.  Kip left three hours before me, with Robyn and Robert and headed to Houston, and ultimately back to Sacramento, where Brandon and Brielle were there to meet her.

I traveled through Aruba's custom area (3 hours, that's a WHOLE nother blog), then barely made my connecting flight in Atlanta, due to torrential rain, and at 10:40 landed in OKC.   Another wonderful vacation for the books.   Thanks FDLIC...... I couldn't have a life without you.  Looking forward to 2016...Cancun...Moon Palace.  I hear the Zip Line Excursion is really "rad". 

 P.S.  There were many other wonderful things, people, Orphanage mission trip, etc that I didn't cover in this blog.  All of it was important, wonderful and meaningful.  I, unfortunately, am Old, Forgetful and tired.  Forgive me for any exclusions. 


Sunday, April 12, 2015


I've been reading through my old blogs and I am soooooooooo glad I wrote about our stuff.  Sometimes my kids get a tad offended I just put us "out there" for all  of your reading entertainment, but seriously, without some of it, I wouldn't have any remembrance of it.

So if I repeat myself in this blog, of things I have said a million times, sorry.  My is a fleeting.

I lost a friend this past week.  He died in his sleep.  I can't think of a more perfect way to die.  Just go to sleep and not wake up.

I have no fear of death.  Not. one.second.

I know my friend was saved as a little kid.  But he lived a fast, furious and out of control life.

My biggest regret was not talking to him seriously about his salvation.  Oh, I tried, and I would get the "If I walk in the church, the roof would blow off"....or "Lightning would strike me".

I've screwed up so many times in my life.  I could write novels, and novels and more novels of the idiot things I have done.

It took me a LONG LONG time to come to terms with forgiving myself for some of these things I did.  I truly believed that there was no way that God could (or would) forgive me. 

But the truth is, the minute I gave it to Him, and asked for forgiveness....He forgave me.  It's taken me decades to wrap my head around the fact that God loves me and would do anything for me.  I sabotaged 10 years, shrouded in guilt for crap I had done. It took me much longer to forgive myself, than it took for God to forgive me.  He was just waiting for me to give it to Him.

Wasted, wasted time.

Today in church, Craig was talking about the crowd gathering to stone the adulteress....and how Jesus asked the crowd of outraged "Christians"......"If any of you are without cast the first stone".  And one by one the crowd dispersed.

Then he looked at the girl standing before him, and he told her, "Go from here and sin no more".   Just like that.  His love is so deep, it's overwhelming.

One of the many excuses I get from people that don't go to church..... "I'm such a sinner, church is NOT the place for me".   Well, excuse me, but CHURCH is the perfect place for you..... just the RIGHT church.

After my divorce, I basically got ran out of the church I had played the piano for, for almost 5 years.  That was tough.  I didn't blame God, but I sure blamed churches.  Thank the heavens, Lacey found Lifechurch and plugged me in.  I have a relationship that feeds my very soul, through the worship and services I have experienced at that church.

And today, as I listened and nodded in agreement, I feel lucky I know who holds my tomorrows.  People think it's hard to be a Christian.  Too many rules, too many standards, blah blah blah.   I say, it's harder to NOT be a Christian.

I saw a post on facebook the other day that says,  I'm a Christian, but I cuss a little.  That's probably me.  And when I hear the preacher tell his road rage stories, I immediately feel better.  You DON"T have to be someone you aren't, to serve someone that knows you better than you do.  You just have to show up and pray, and believe that God is there for you....then.....He shows up.

Discussing life with my friend, Janis and she tells me how she KNOWS when she sins now, as opposed to how it never even hit her radar...  and I told her.... "That's Christianity are quicker to ask God to forgive you, and you try as hard as you can, to not do those things".  How far I've come, how far I have to go......

I guess I thought when I rose out of the water when I was baptised I would be different.  How I wish I had had someone to tell me that everything around me would stay the change, it would be how I viewed it all, that's what was different.  

Thank the Lord, I know where my future lies.  My days are so uncertain, and I am so overwhelmed 99% of the time....with kids everywhere I look, messy bathrooms, laundry strewn everywhere....not enough time in the day to even get everything done.   But all I have to do, is close my eyes and ask for God to carry me through, and He NEVER lets me down.  He is my certainty.  He is my stability.

I hope you'll consider letting Him do the same for you.