Thursday, November 15, 2012

I have gratitude today for...
* getting my ass out of bed at 6am to wait in line to reserve a palapa. It really wasn't that bad and I met some nice people while waiting. We got a great spot right in front like I had hoped. After I put our towels down I went back to bed for a while.
* my breakfast (grilled cheese) at Scott's Brats. They are a couple from Wisconsin that picked up and moved to Aruba. They sell brats and sausage sandwiches as well as breakfast out of a hut on the beach. I think it's cool how so many people move here. I talked with owners for a bit about moving here and starting a business.
* finishing the Meghan McCain book. I really like learning about her perspective and agree with a lot of what she says. I wish more republicans (elected republicans) were as open as she is. I do believe that most people are in the middle most of the time, why can't the men/women in congress try harder at working together?
* lunch with Andy at Scott's Brats. We each had a sausage with peppers & onions. They were very good.
* learning about a Christmas Party being planned in NJ for families affected by the hurricane. It's on Dec. 8th and I definitely want to volunteer to help that day. I also know now how I can help with making Christmas better for these families. I will help with collecting gifts/gift cards for this event. Everything will go directly to families who need it, and that's what I wanted to do!
* meeting LeeAnn & Dan (from Canada) and Steve & Joanna (from DE). I met LeeAnn in line this morning and then her husband in the morning. They had met Steve & Joanna a few days prior. We ended up spending all afternoon with them. It's such a small world- Andy & Joanna both went to Villanova and graduated the same year. Steve is from Delaware County. We had a great time in the water talking and getting to know each other. Then we went to the pool, went down the slide a couple times, and drank a few beers in the hot tub.
* the six of us deciding to have dinner together. We went to Gianni's and had a fantastic itallian meal. Even better was the company and conversation.
* going to bed early and taking a break from having drinks. My stomach was bothering me (it wasn't that the food was bad, just something wasn't agreeing with me).
* waking up at 1:30am to see Villanova win their game and Andy win $20. :-)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

I have gratitude today for...
* getting up around 8 and reserving a palapa on the beach before breakfast. We learned people get in line before 6am to claim the best ones on the beach! I'm going to try to do that tomorrow so we have one in the front.
* breakfast at Salt & Pepper. We had the sweetest waitress, Sharon. She alone made me want to go back there. The food was good like we remembered and we both enjoyed talking with Sharon.
* a relaxing day at the beach. We played Scrabble on the Kindle, I read more of my book and we went in and out of the water with floats. We absolutely love it here and I'm determined to plan a group trip for sometime in 2013 or 2014.
* Happy Hour at Bugaloe. We sat at the bar and had a few drinks along with their chicken satay platter (it was very good)! We met a nice couple from Chicago and enjoyed talking with them while we were at the bar.
* a fun night walking around town. Andy had a burger at Aruba's version of Five Guys (owned by a couple from Boston). Then we went to a bar upstairs for a beer. There was no one there but we sat outside and watched all of the action below. The music was entertaining---no joke, one of the songs playing was called "I want to f*** you in the ass". Whaaaaat? It was so weird and we couldn't help but laugh. I can't imagine parents of young kids or older people walking by and hearing a song like that. We left after one beer. I doubt they'll be in business next time we're here.
* attempting to go to the new bar, Zombie Room. They supposedly have live music every night but it was dead when we walked over. We didn't even go inside.
* playing some more video poker again in the casino. Andy did pretty well and I did better than last night but not great. We walked away about $25 up tonight.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

I have gratitude today for...
* sleeping in a little this morning. I've been sleeping great here!
* a late breakfast/early lunch at Pizza Hut. Yes, I hate going to American chains when we're traveling but there are no good breakfast places around the hotel that serve anything other than eggs/omelets etc. We wanted something quick and easy before heading to the island for the last time.
* soaking in every minute we could at on the island before having to check out. They gave us a late check out (2pm) so that was nice. We spent a lot of time in the water, it was very hot today.
* being able to check-in early at The Hyatt this afternoon. We're excited to be back at this gorgeous hotel. The grounds are so beautiful and so is their beach area. It really felt like we were just here! They greeted us with champagne just like last time.
* Steve sharing his friends & family code with us, I know he is only able to give it out to a few people. We would have never been able to stay here if it weren't for him, the least expensive rooms at this hotel are $300+ per night!
* dinner at Smokey Joe's. Both of our meals were very good and we met two nice couple's who we chatted with for a bit.
* walking along the path from our hotel down to The Westin. We went in for Andy to place a sports bet and then ended up at Bugaloe. Why didn't we go there last year?? We had so much fun seeing Joyride, a live band that plays all over down here. People were dancing and having a great time. We were disappointed that they stopped playing at 9:30.
* going to the casino for a little while. We played some video poker and had a couple drinks. Andy did well, I did not. In the end we walked away up $20 or so.

Monday, November 12, 2012

I have gratitude today for...
* Iced coffee from Starbuck's. I don't drink regular coffee at all but love an iced coffee once in a while.
* spending the morning on the island. I love how quiet it is and how they have so many chairs and hammocks. I finished "The Language of Flowers". It was such a great book and really opened my eyes to what it's like to go through the foster care system. :-(
* lunch at Iguana Joe's. Andy & I shared nachos and they were excellent!
* spending the afternoon at the pool at the Marina hotel. It's adults only and overlooks the water. I remember it being one of my favorite parts of the hotel last time and it certainly did not disappoint this time.
* starting "America, You Sexy Bitch" by Meghan McCain & Michael Ian Black. It's great so far! They went out on the road in an RV across America earlier this year and wrote about their different perspectives on all of the major issues. They also incorporate all of the people they encounter along the way. So far I really like it and appreciate a lot of what they both have to say.
* meeting Andrew at the pool. He noticed Andy's Phillies hat and started talking to him. The 3 of us ended up talking in the pool for at least an hour. He grew up in Ft. Washington and played ice hockey. I love meeting new people on trips!
* going to the Ocean Suites bar for a couple drinks after we got ready for dinner. Gotta love the 2 for 1 Happy Hour!
* an amazing dinner at Yumanga!! I've been dreaming of their potato soup for 3 1/2 hours and it was as incredible as I remembered. We ordered a bottle of wine and shared a steak entree. The meal came with rice & beans, potatoes and veggies; more than enough food for two people after eating the soup. I've become more comfortable with sharing entrees on this trip. The portions are usually big enough for two people and it's silly to order two entrees when there's no way to eat the leftovers.
* getting pictures in front of the I Love Aruba sign after dinner.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

I have gratitude today for...
* another beautiful day in Aruba. We walked around Oranjestad for a while, picked up some waters in one of the shops and then headed to the island. We rented a float and spent the whole day on the beach. We had lunch and drinks at the restaurant on the private island. I love how so many restaurants have great views of the water!
* going to the Ocean Suites pool for happy hour this afternoon. We met a few people at the bar that were here for a wedding. It reminded us of the fun times we had when Jess & Chris got married. The groom was from NY and the other couple was from TX. We watched football and had a few margaritas.
* an easy dinner at Casa Tua. We shared a salad and thin crust pizza. There was a guitar player and singer playing music on the "stage" across from the restaurant. They weren't that good but fun to listen to and watch.
* relaxing after dinner and watching Revenge.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

I have gratitude today for...
* Mrs. Roth picking us up early this morning to take us to the airport.
* safely arriving to Aruba and being back at the Renaissance in Oranjestad, Aruba! I've been looking forward to this trip for months and it's finally here!
* lunch at The Paddock. The food was just ok but it was the first place we went to in Aruba 3 1/2 years ago so we decided to go back. It does have a great view!
* a fun afternoon on the private island and a great dinner at Iguana Joe's.
* the cute newlyweds we met on the boat coming back from the private island. It was their first time here and we told them about some of our favorite restaurants and things to do on the island.
* dinner at Iguana Joe's, we didn't go there last time. Andy got fajitas and I got a wrap, the food was good and it was cool overlooking the street upstairs. We both got fun drinks too. :-)

Friday, November 9, 2012

I have gratitude today for...
* Andy pulling pit tickets for the Mumford & Sons concert in February and for their new album arriving in the mail before our trip!                                        * having good birthday gift ideas for Uncle Gary & Grandpa. A Maggiano's gift card for Uncle Gary and a personal soft sided cooler for Grandpa. I thought it would be funny since we always run out of beer in Holden Beach. Now he can have his own cooler!                                                                                     * Mom & Dad dealing with Friday traffic and driving to our place for dinner. It's been a month since I've seen them, too long! Mom, Dad, Andy & I went to Bertucci's and had a great dinner. The server was a cute young kid, he gave us their "signature grilled veggies" because Mom & Dad were first time guests.     * having a bunch of fun, cute dresses to take on our trip. I love getting dressed up and rarely do so at the shore so I packed a bunch of my summer dresses for Aruba.                                                                                                         *  Mom & Dad taking a suitcase for us with sweaters, coats and my UGGS for Thanksgiving. I really didn't want to have to lug all of that stuff to Aruba.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

I have gratitude today for...
*everything working out with the delivery of today's lunch, I messed up and forgot to confirm with the office and got nervous they weren't expecting me. It all worked out and everyone was very friendly at the ESIS office today. I wasn't very happy with Qdoba's catering. They food was very good but it was barely enough for 15 people. Looks like I'll be using On The Border from now on. I wish Chipotle catered.                                                                                          * finding several XS dresses at NY& Co. I've found traveling with dresses is easiest and needed a few for fall/winter. I had a $70 off $150 coupon and all of them were at least 50% off to begin with so I ended up with 5 dresses for $70 because I had a gift card too. Woohoo!                                                           * giving myself plenty of time to return the car and get through the airport for my trip home. It took forever. The airports/rental car pickup & returns stink in TX!                                                                                                  * making it through another trip without getting killed driving in TX. I know it's partly because I'm not familiar with the roads, but the way they are set up are insane to me. Someone also almost slammed into me as I was in stopped traffic and I have no idea how they missed me. I can't wait until Saturday when we're sitting on a beach with a frozen drink!                                                                                                           * getting home safely and having tomorrow to catch up on office work and pack before we leave on Sat.                                                                    * watching Sunday's episode of Homeland. It was late but we were both dying to see it. I'll say it again, that show is incredible!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

I have gratitude today for...
* watching the morning news and feeling relief that President Obama was re-elected.
* McDonald's fries- I know they are bad and I don't like supporting McDonald's but they really do cure my hangovers. I don't allow myself to eat McD's anymore except for times like this morning when I really needed them.
* a great lunch meeting at Union Pacific. Everyone was so friendly and fun to talk to.
* meeting Kaitlin for dinner at El Tiempo Cantina. It was so cool to see her and hear all about her life over the last 15 years. I think the last time we saw each other was in 4th grade. She moved around a lot growing up. Times like this are when I am so appreciative of Facebook. We would have never reconnected, nor would she have known I was going to be in Houston. I'm looking forward to my next visit so I can meet her husband and kids.
* the makeup Kaitlin gave me. She works for Laura Mercier and she brought me a lipstick, lipgloss, eyeshadow and blush. I'm going to try them out and see if their line can help with my redness.
* being able to see the true colors of some, resulting from this election. I can't believe the amount of hatred and ridiculous generalizations that some are making. I take strong offense to people that call all liberals, democrats, Obama supporters, etc. lazy free-loaders who don't give a shit about this country. Do these people truly believe that? I've tried not to let ignorant comments on Facebook get to me but I lost my cool today after reading Jon Carmen's status. I'll chalk it up to brainwashing---because no one in their right mind, republican or democrat, would have the nerve to say some of the things he and his parents said today.
* the hilarious episodes of The Daily Show & The Colbert Report tonight, they were much needed.
* Grandma's voicemail checking to make sure we're all ok with this crazy weather. NJ, PA & NY all got snow today! Just what these poor people who either have no power or no home need.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Today I have gratitude for...
* Walmart conveniently being next to my hotel. I usually try to avoid giving Walmart my money at all costs, but I was in a hurry this morning and it was nice to know I could run in and pick up a fruit tray and doughnuts for my meeting without having to drive around finding somewhere else. One thing I've noticed in TX---no bakeries.
* talking with Alyssa & Cindi about cleanses and apps they like. I'm going to check out the Livestrong app that Alyssa uses. I'm at a breaking point, I have to snap out of this unhealthy, no working out, getting fat again stage. I feel disgusting. I thought I would have looked my best for Aruba and instead I feel like it's been a downward spiral for months. My new goal is our FL trip in January. I WILL be feeling as good as I was last fall, at 115 lbs and toned!!! I bought a Groupon for a yoga studio in Conshe and can't wait to get back into it. It just doesn't make sense for me to pay for a membership at Ryah with all of the traveling.
* meeting Terrell and Steve from Kansas City Southern this morning. They were both really nice and gave me some good feedback. I even left with a case.
* finding a restaurant with an outdoor patio for lunch. I had soup & salad and checked with the server to make sure she wouldn't mind if I stayed for a while and worked. She was very friendly (it was empty) and said it was no problem. I stayed for a couple hours and caught up on emails. It was gorgeous out!
* the helpful girls at the Macy's makeup counters today. I'm still trying to find something that helps with my redness because Bare Minerals hasn't been giving me the same coverage as it did when I first started using it. The girls told me about a few different options and gave me some samples to try.
* Henry & Christine offering for me to stay at their house tonight. I called the Marriott at 4pm and they let me cancel, I couldn't believe it. I rushed back and got my stuff out of the room, picked up soda for the lunches tomorrow & Thursday and wine for tonight. I bought a bottle of Dreaming Tree for good luck. :-)
* having the best time tonight at Henry & Christine's! I met their girls Catherine and Jacqueline. I also met a few of their friends (Matt & Holly and Paul.) Matt & Holly brought their kids over (1 year old twins and Dominick, their 5 year old.) The twins were so cute, Liam let me hold him for quite some time. They made a mexican dinner and margaritas. We anxiously watched as they started calling the states. I kept saying "and that # is without CA??" It felt like forever but around 10:20pm (Central time) they called the election for Obama. Relief!! It ended up not even being that close (electoral votes wise.) We popped the champagne and stayed up until 2am to watch the commentary and the speeches. I have to say Romney's speech was very good--to me it was the most genuine he's ever seemed. He almost seemed relieved. This is what I had to say after they announced the results.
Thankful tonight that the less fortunate in our country have a better chance to succeed in our world, that women will still maintain control of their bodies, and hope our congress will work toward the change we need..
* wine, margaritas, and champagne helping us feel more relaxed as we watched the election play out. I really liked the Dreaming Tree wine!
* Dad's enthusiastic text at 10:28pm. "OBAMA WINS. THANK YOU JESUS. USA.....STILL THE GREATEST COUNTRY. HAVE FUN IN TEXAS :-)....LOVE DAD" You gotta love the all caps.

Monday, November 5, 2012

I have gratitude today for...
* having a decent amount of supplies to donate to hurricane victims. Julie is helping with delivery of items to shelters at the shore this week. I wish I was going to be around so I could go with her but I know people will need help for months as they rebuild their homes and lives. We donated sleeping bags, sheets, comforters, toiletries, food and clothes.
* Mrs. Roth giving me a ride to the airport this afternoon.
* the TSA giving me advice on how to get my carry on garment bag through security. I was really annoyed because it's the same bag I've been using for a year to carry on and today they told me it was too big and I had to check it (which cost $35.) Then, when boarding the plane, I saw another guy with the same exact bag and he was carrying it on! Supposedly the key is to go to another terminal---I'll be trying that next time.
* my noise cancelling headphones. I understand it's hard to travel with children but allowing your child (2-3 years old) to yell and scream the entire 3 1/2 hour flight is unacceptable. The mom didn't have any toys or activities for the kid, nor did she stop him from kicking my seat the entire time! So thankful for those headphones, they're worth every penny!
* Andy rushing to FedEx after work to overnight my phone. When I was rushing around before going to the airport today I set it down and left it at home, along with some other things I needed for my client visits this week. I really need to slow down sometimes.
* dinner at Willie's Ice House next to my hotel. It was open-air which was nice, the food was ok, nothing special. I watched some of the pathetic Eagles game while I was there.
* finding a blue t-shirt at Walmart (shhh, don't tell anyone I gave my $ to the devil). I've wanted to buy an Obama t-shirt but was afraid it would jinx the election so I bought a blue t-shirt and I'm putting my bumper sticker I received in the mail the other day on the front of it.
* the voicemail John left today to say thank you to Andy & me for coming to see him play on Saturday.
* making dinner plans with Kaitlin for Wednesday night. I think the last time we saw each other was in 5th grade!
* and their on-line selection of full episodes. I watched Revenge and the CMA's on my iPad since there was nothing on TV.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Hurricane Sandy (from a distance): Part II

Don’t give up, I know you can see
All the world and the mess that we’re making
Can’t give up and hope God will intercede
Come on back, imagine that we could get it together

Stand up for what we need to be
‘Cause crime won’t save or feed a hungry child
Can’t lay down and wait for a miracle to change things
So lift up your eyes, lift up your heart

Mercy, will we overcome this
Oh, one by one, could we turn it around
Maybe carry on just a little bit longer
And I’ll try to give you what you need

Me and you, and you, and you
just wanna be free, yeah, yeah
But you see
all the world is just as we’ve made it
And until we got a new world I’ve got to say
That love is not a whisper or a weakness
No, love is strong, and we got to get together
Yeah, gotta get, gotta get, gotta get
‘Til there is no reason to fight

Mercy, will we overcome this
Yeah, one by one, could we turn it around
Maybe carry on just a little bit longer
And I’ll try to give you what you need

Mercy, will we overcome this
Have we come too far to turn it around
Is it ask too much to be a little bit stronger
‘Cause I wanna give you what you need

Mercy, what will become of us
Yeah, one by one, could we turn it around
Maybe carry on just a little bit longer
And I’ll try to give you what you need
~Dave Matthews
When I first really listened to the lyrics of this song, I knew they would end up representing something big. I said to Andy "this song is about changing the world." Little did I know it would be the world in our own backyard. I heard this song today driving from Austin to Dallas on the open highway on a bright sunny day. I've been big time homesick this week. People have said to me I was lucky to get away before the storm, I disagree. I've probably slept less than most people at home because I can not stop watching CNN and coverage of NY & NJ. Although I definitely consider PA home now, part of me belongs to NY and part of me belongs to NJ. I feel so helpless and I can't wait to do something. It is truly nauseating to see the destruction all along Sandy's path. I think this song should be our anthem right now, we can turn it all around together.