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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Patients empowering patients

As we go into a new phase of treatment, I am constantly reminded of how valuable the patient network is. I asked another parent for a recommendation of a pediatric endocrinologist. While we were talking, he said, "let me share our experience with you so that hopefully you can avoid it." I listened very carefully as I have learned the power of what other patients or parents know. Even though he had some critical things to say about the doctor, he also said some very positive things. So, it wasn't about the doctor at all which I think is part of the fear that doctors have. They don't want to be trashed for situations that the patient didn't like but were necessary. Instead, this father told me two things to watch out for and to expect at the visit. In fact, he said, now you at least know if those don't happen to ask why. Ahhh....patient connectivity is so very valuable. Now, if we can just make it easier to connect.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Adorable Sophie

Sophie knows how to get food - she brings the bowl to us in her mouth. :)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Hospitals

It has been a long time since I have worked in a hospital, but it never ceases to make me shake my head when Morgan is admitted. The entire process is so spelled out that it is almost exactly the same every time we go - the good and the bad are equally as repeated.

First of all, let me say that we LOVE our hospital, docs, nurses, IV team, lab techs, food service staff, and all in between. This is NOT about THIS hospital. It is about hospitals in general and the crazy time lapse it is when you enter one.

Today, we got a call that we had a bed so we headed to check in. There is nobody in the waiting area to get admitted. We sit there and wait for about 5 minutes until another person walked in to be admitted. THEN, someone comes out to get us. We have to sign the same pages we signed the last 12 times she was admitted. I tell her to save the paper as we have all of the consents and information forms and don't need more. We get a room.

We wander to the room and there is no bed. SHOCKER. This happens almost every time we come. They called us 4 hours ago, and we called in to let them know what time we would arrive. Yet, they were surprised we were "already here" as the tech said. Too funny. Also, the patient who was here before us still had his name outside the room. Interesting. That one was new.

So, we go sit on the couch while the tech gets the bed. He takes her blood pressure, temp, weight, height, etc. He makes her laugh which was nice. Her nurse comes in and does her assessment. Thankfully, they have gotten a bit more modern in that her medications now stay in the system between her admissions. Previously, they had to enter them one by one every single time we came. But, thankfully this is MUCH better.

Her doctor stops by and asks if she is on methotrexate. So much for the meds list staying in. He tells me that he is asking because for some reason methotrexate isn't suppported in the application (it is Cerner). He says that it blows up the system so they have to write paper orders for methotrexate. Surely, not every hospital using Cerner has to do this? Man, I hope not.

He says that he forgot his beeper so he has to leave but he will see her tomorrow. About 3 hours after arrival (admission if for two infusions that run overnight), the IV team comes in and draws blood and starts the IV.  Now, we are sitting here waiting on pharmacy. I simply don't get how an order for a routine admission that has been scheduled for 3 weeks takes so long to process. I know how annoying it is to wait for the pharmacy when it is something more urgent, and it doesn't seem to be any different for urgent or routine. There must be a way to improve the speed of that process so that patients get treated faster.

I will continue later as the night goes on....:)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Healthcare, Patients, and Consumers

Over the last 6 days, I have been battling a health issue - something wrong with my kidney. I cannot help but realize how SLOWLY this process works. I have been in extreme pain, and it has had far reaching effects on my life and my family.

First, I went to the ER on Saturday. I was told to follow up with a urologist. I called my existing urologist and 8 others and couldn't be seen until Wednesday. I was having trouble keeping the pain in control and I was starting to really worry. Without another option, I went back to the ER where I was told again to see a urologist. At least Wednesday wasn't far away at that point. Shouldn't' it be easier to get an appointment for situations like this?

Then, I see the urologist who orders a nuclear renal scan.  When he spoke with the ER doc on Monday, couldn't we have set this up to have done BEFORE the office visit?


They hand me a prescription for the scan and recommend the hospital radiology department that is closest to my house. I call them and they say they can do it December 5th. REALLY? That is 19 days away.


I call another hospital that is farther than my house. She says they can do it a 6 days from now which is my 40th birthday and the day I fly to Tennessee. I beg to have it done that day. She says not possible. I offered to pay her $100 if she could get me an appointment that same day. It didn't work, but I did get an appointment the next day. Better but still a long time. When you add in the time for it to be read and the time for the doctor to then get the reading and the time for the doc to then call me, it is a really long process.  Couldn't we allow patients to pay extra to speed up this process similar to how I can pay an after hours fee for other services?


The bottom line is that I have been to the ER twice, a primary care doc once, a specialist once, had a CT scan, two ultrasounds, and a nuclear scan, and 6 days after I started having severe pain, i am not a single bit better off than I was when it began. Yes, I have pain medicine that makes me be able to tolerate it, but it puts me to sleep and I can't drive when I am taking it. The time that it takes to accomplish this continues to add to the bill as nobody is as concerned about making me well as I am. The rest just seem to pass me on to the next person without any responsibility of SOLVING the problem.

I have seen a lot of debates lately about whether we should call people patents or consumers in healthcare. At this point, I think patient is the only word that can be used - especially since you have to have a lot of patience to get anywhere. I have been thinking about Morgan's day of diagnosis when I found out that we couldn't get a specialist appointment for over 3 months. There simply has to be a better, faster, more efficient way, especially in severe situations.

Thankful Day 17

Today, I am thankful for medicine. As much as I have been frustrated by the SLOW process of healthcare (blog coming soon), I had an incredibly fancy test today to measure how my kidneys are working. It was completely fascinating to understand how they were measuring the input and output. We have some amazingly smart people in this world. Also, I was humbled today by the person administering the test who has survived ovarian cancer, had a kidney stone that was 4cm (fist sized), and who is having open heart surgery now. She was such a positive caring sprit, and I am thankful for her.

Also, I am thankful to have met Dan Hutchens. He died very young last night, and he will be missed. I don't understand how that happens to such a young guy, but my thoughts and prayers are with his family tonight.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Thankfulness Day 16

Today, I am thankful for ice cream. Morgan and I had a rough day, and she asked if we could go get some ice cream. As we sat together and ate it, it seemed like everything would be ok. I cherish those moments.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Thankfulness Day 15

Today, I am thankful for my brother Mark and his spirit. Mark is always there for everyone he loves. It is so nice to have him to talk to when things are good, bad, and all in the middle. It is also fantastic to know that if I call mark and say, "is there any way that you can....", the answer is almost always YES. THANK YOU MARK!!! Love you.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Thankfulness Day 14

Today, I wasn't feeling well, and I am very thankful for the support of Mike and Morgan. They both came with me to the ER for the second time in three days. Mike drove us there and got food for he and Morgan while Morgan held my hand when I got an IV and helped me get the IV to the bathroom and back. They were both so loving and stood up for me when I was not able to speak for myself. I love you both dearly. THANK YOU!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Thankfulness - Day 13

Today, I was thankful of sleep. I got to sleep in today which was magical. It is a rare day where we get to sleep in and relax. I was feeling badly all day with this kidney thing, but with the meds I slept. Ahhh....nothing like sleeping in and being in your own bed.

Gimme My Damn Data

To quote e-patient Dave, "Give me my damn data." Around midnight or so yesterday the 11th, I starting having pain in my right kidney. Since i have an extensive history of kidney stones, I knew what that likely meant. However, this time seemed a bit different. Maybe an infection or something? The pain became unbearable around 7pm, so we went to the ER. I had pain medicine to take but this seemed just enough different than my "normal" kidney stone past, I felt like I should get it checked out. My kidney is VERY tender to touch. I don't remember ever feeling this before. I am almost in tears just from sitting in a chair and having the chair barely touch that area. Additionally, my right side is physically swollen where the kidney is.  That isn't typical for me either.

So, off we go to St. Joseph's North - the newest ER and one close to me. It was a fabulous ER from a design perspective. Very nicely done. My nurse, Tiffany, was awesome. They ordered a CT, urine, and blood tests. I had some Toradol via IV and some Zofran. It helped for an hour or so and then the pain started getting worse. I think Tiffany must have gone on break as we couldn't get ANY help for almost an hour. My pain was getting worse and worse and worse and my IV was dry. My daughter pushed the call button three times and went into the provider hallway to get help. It was an excruciating hour. When she came back, she administered the morphine that was ordered an hour before. The CT scan showed stones in kidney but no stone in ureter. However, it showed inflammation in the ureter. The doc said that I may have just passed a nasty stone and the inflammation may be causing pain that feels similar to a stone. I asked for a copy of my blood work, urine, and CT scan, and I was told that I couldn't have it. I would have to wait until Medical Records on Monday.

Today, I am still in extreme pain and even with the toradol, percocet, and zofran, the pain is pretty significant. I keep sitting here wondering what the results all showed. I wish I had the CT report, the blood work, and the urinalysis report.

Recently, I found the Society for Participatory Medicine (SPM), and I loved all that they are doing. Managing Morgan's care with her Dermatomyositis can be a full time job just trying to keep her health information recorded and organized. I feel strongly in the e-patient movement and enabling patients to be partners in their healthcare and having choices in the treatments that they receive. Now, this kidney stone event has just added to my love for this movement. GIVE ME MY DAMN DATA!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Day 12 of Thankfulness

Today, I am thankful for pain medication. Today has been a day of a LOT of pain medicine. At around midnight as the new day began, I was in a hot tub at a party. My back started to hurt where my kidney is. Since I have a history of many kidney stones, I immediately had that ugh feeling.  So, I was very thankful for pain meds for my head (tequila) and for my kidneys (dumb stone). As a by product, they also helped with the realization that my poor vols football team is DREADFUL.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Day 11 of Thankfulness

Today, I am very thankful for the veterans who fought for our freedom and for the veterans who make stands to protect our freedom. I am so proud to be an American and I appreciate all of the sacrifices each and every veteran made/makes for all the rest of us.

I am also thankful today for the fact that my daughter wanted to be with me so badly on 11/11/11 at 11:11 that she passed up going somewhere with her friends so that we could spend alone time together at that specific moment. What an amazingly sweet idea. I LOVE YOU MORGAN!!!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Day 10 of Thankfulness

I am thankful to have a wonderful home where we have great times as a family. I love the open layout of the house which keeps everyone closer than our old house where kids seemed so far away when they were upstairs. We love the screened in porch "room" the best as we get to be outside without all the annoying bugs. :)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Day 9 of Thankfulness

This is probably cheating since i already listed family, but I am so incredibly thankful to have my parents as my parents. I truly cannot imagine better parents. Of course, when I was 16, 17, and 18, I didn't quite have that opinion and I am pretty sure they wanted to disown me a few times. :) Man, I hope that Morgan is a bit better of a teen. :)

But, the important thing (as my other says) is that they have been such incredible role models for me and they have ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS made sure that I knew they were on my side. When I think back on my life, no matter what the situation was, I always call my parents and talk about it. They listen, try not to judge, and offer advice or assistance or sympathy or just listen. They also know that i might not do whatever it is that they are suggesting and that is ok. They allowed us all to make mistakes without holding it over our heads for the rest of our lives like I see happen with friends parents.

Also, they are so amazingly generous that they have always tried to make sure we had things even if it meant they went without. I certainly didn't always understand that as a kid, but I do now. They have taken us to amazing travel places so that we could experience them, and it has been incredible to get to see such amazing places. However, the BEST part of any of those trips (hands down) is that we spent such time together as a family. It has provided all of us with such a foundation that we can all rely on when times are good and bad.

My parents also worked very very hard. They taught us all that hard work is a very important personality trait. All three of their kids are extremely hard workers and I think that is a direct lesson from our parents.

On top of it all, I think they really taught us how to treat people. My parents have a great respect for people. We were taught that respect early on and you can see it in all of our lives.

I could probably go on and on and on and on about my parents as they truly are the most incredible people I know. THANKS MOM AND DAD!!! I love you so much.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Day 8 of Thankfulness

I am so very thankful for CureJM! When my daughter was diagnosed with Dermatomyositis, we were lost until we found CureJM. They are an amazing group who do incredible things educating on JM and advance the chances of a cure daily by funding direct research.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Day 7 of Thankfulness

I am so thankful to be living in the computer age and to get to watch technology advance so quickly. I love being part of this experience and getting to go from using a commodore 64 to having such amazing things as amazing choices on TV, unlimited access to content on the web, microwaves, iPhones, iPads, computers that do so many more amazing things every day, iTunes, "apps for that" and so much more. I think about all of the changes in my 40 years (ALMOST), and I am excited about what is to come. I can't even imagine what my kids will create since they have grown up with this mindset.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Day 6 of Thankfulness

I am so very thankful for the Wesley Chapel Tri Team. I have accomplished so many goals and gained so many new friends from this group. But even more importantly, they kick my butt if I don't show up. I love that about them.

The ATM Ate my Card

I rushed through a Bank of America ATM yesterday as I realized Morgan didn't have $20 for the carnival she was going to. Instead of crossing the street and going to my bank, I took the "easy" way and used the Bank of America that was right there. About 2 hours later, I look for my Debit card and it is gone. I retrace my steps through Publix and think it must be somewhere. Then, with that feeling in the pit of my stomach I realize that I left it in the Bank of America machine.

So, Wachovia figured this out years ago and gave you your card back BEFORE it gave you money and a receipt. I guess Bank of America hasn't figured this out. I am so used to getting the receipt and moving on, that I didn't even think about this different machine. Shame on me.

Thankfully, some nice person called it in as lost immediately so it was all ok. Whew. Score one for the good guys.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Day 5 of Thankfulness

As I continue the month of thankfulness...

 I am thankful to have always had a job that paid the bills - sometimes barely! But I have always made it. I have gotten to do some amazing things in my career, and I feel lucky and blessed to have gotten to know so many amazing people and to do some many things to help people.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Day 4 of Thankfulness!

Day four of thankfulness

4. I am thankful to have some very special friends. You know, the kind who are there for you when you are your best and who celebrate that but also the kind that are there when you are your worst and who pick you up and kick you in the butt to get you back on track. I don't know how I would have survived the last year of my life without my great friends (and family of course!).

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Thanksgiving Thankfulness

I have seen people posting every day about things they are thankful for. I am a bit behind, but it sounds like a good thing to do.

So...I guess I have three to catch up on...

1. I am so very thankful for my incredible family. I have such a fantastic family in my parents and brothers who have been fantastic to me as I have grown up. I have a fantastic family now with my wonderful husband Mike and all four amazing kids. I have a great new family of "in-laws" who gave Morgan cousins - lots of them! I am so very thankful for ALL of them.
2. I am so thankful for having the chance to be a mom and a step-mom. I didn't think I would be able to have a child myself, and Morgan has been my miracle child all the way through and then some. We have been through good and bad times, but I am so thankful to have her! On the other hand, being a step-mom has also been an amazing experience with three amazing kids. It is amazing the different relationships you have with different kids, and it is so very fun and amazing to watch them grow.
3. I am very thankful for my husband Mike! He has been such an amazing friend to me and has been so supportive of me and of Morgan. He is a great dad to all the kids, and I know he loves them all very much.  I am sure these crazy career changes have been hard on him, especially when the travel tables reversed and I was traveling more than him! I am so lucky that we met at good ol Medic back in the day. :)

Ok, those were probably the easy ones! :) Whew...only 27 more to go!

New Beginnings

I had forgotten how refreshing change can be. I tend to agonize over big decisions carefully weighing all the options and making excessive lists of positives and negatives of each option. In the end though, I think I always end up going with my gut. Sometimes, that works. Sometimes, not so much. I hope this one is right because it certainly feels right!!!! The buzz I have felt today (no I haven't been drinking this time) has been electric. Something is amazing about creating new things from scratch. I truly love it!

What a whirlwind of a few years with three aquisitions within a 3 year period...a bit too many. I have thought of writing a book on what I learned through all these acquisitions. I certainly learned some things that work well and some things that SHOULD NOT BE DONE - EVER! :) It is funny what acquisitions do to people. The first two were SO close to me that it was difficult to see everything happening at the time. The second one I felt much more prepared for, but still looking back it wasn't so clear. However, the third one was a little farther removed, and it was so very interesting to watch how people handle it. Sometimes, I saw others make the same mistakes I had made in the past, and I thought,  "wow I won't ever do that again." Other times, I got to share experiences with others and help them figure out ways to deal with situations in a positive way and that felt really good.

It had been such a hard fall last year when the product that was my baby was not going forward. It had such amazing potential, and I felt much like I do with my kids when they don't get a shot at something or something doesn't go their way. But, it could do such great things! But, don't you see this amazing thing? Seriously, you don't get this? I understood the business decision and why, but it still hurt. Then, I had new teams and we really came together. I really felt great progress being made, and I enjoyed them all. We had fun, and we worked hard. So, this made it hard to make a decision. I find over and over in my life and career that the people are really what make all the difference. Part of my challenge with the software issue wasn't the software, but it was having to tell the team that it wasn't going forward. Worrying about the team and not wanting to lose the great team we had. I also didn't want to let me newer teams down.

In the end though, we have to do what we think is best for us. I really enjoyed my time at all of these companies - weird that with them all combined I had actually worked for the same company since 1997 even though I left in 2005 and ended up back through the acquisitions. A ton of great people there, and I have so many friends there. But, when an opportunity of a lifetime comes around and has the opportunity to make a huge difference on the lives of your child and other people like her, you just have to go for it. Otherwise, you might always wonder....what if. So, new beginnings, new challenges...here I come!!!

And, I actually have ZERO business travel booked at this time which is really, really nice. Ahhh...bed....I missed you. :) 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

One Year Later - Pepsi Refresh Grant

Hard to believe it has been a year. I was in Orlando for a conference and ran around the Gaylord Palms hotel begging people to text in a vote. I found a dialysis company who was having a large meeting there, and they had me on stage telling everyone to text. Then, they were texting their coworkers and friends to tell them to text. Probably getting the drunk people in the bars to text as the funniest! Many just handed me their phone and let me do it. It was a long month of begging, pleading, and hoping, and WE DID IT! CURE JM WON!!!!!

Since then, we have gotten a lot more experience with JM and Cure JM. I hate JM - it is an awful disease that is life changing. It changes your family, friends, your schedule, the activities you do, your financial situation, your hopes, your dreams, your goals, and your emotional well being. I am so sorry that these kids have to go through this dreadful disease. Some days, I just ask, "Why Morgan?" It is so hard to watch someone you love suffer so much.

The one good thing that has come of it is Cure JM. I hate that everyone is struggling with it, but Cure JM is an INCREDIBLE organization run by INCREDIBLE people. They have inspired me and helped me more than I can count. I proudly wear my bracelet every day and wear my shirts as often as possible I tell anyone who will listen about JM and about Cure JM. I am so very proud to be associated with it.

If you have a friend or family member dealing with something like JM, I have some tips/thoughts to share from our experience and from talking to other moms of kids with JM..

1. No question is stupid. Ask your friend/family member how it is going. Most likely, it is always on their mind or close to it.
2. Invite the sick kid and/or the family to activities. Many times, you feel all alone or different than others. You and your family are now different and left out of things. Invite them to activities. Even if you think they can't do it physically or won't be able to go, ask anyway. They will appreciate the invite regardless.
3. Listen. Many times they just need someone to vent to. It is frustrating, scary, and aggravating.
4. If you have the ability, ask how you can help. There are so many things to remember and to do from doctors appts, to refill pickups, to tests, to tracking information. Many families really struggle to meet all of these needs.
5. Don't assume everything is good if the person is looking OK. Many times the pain and issues are not as noticeable. I think it is actually easier when people can SEE something wrong as they get it. This is a big one that I hear often from other moms.

My perspective on life has changed incredibly. I am really trying to focus on what matters and to let everything else go. I am not great at it yet, but I am getting better. On a sillier note, I am not a completely switched Diet Pepsi drinker as I still love my Diet Coke, but I do drink Diet Pepsi more than half the time now. I also make sure to tell people about what a great thing Pepsi does with the refresh grant project. GO PEPSI!!!!!!! Way to make the world a better place.

As for Morgan, she is more stable than this time last year, but she has had incredible pain with her joints. She still gets her two infusions and month and still takes 16 pills a day. Here's to hoping for a better year this year. I still can't believe she is 13!!!

For those of you who are interested, here are some of the advances made in JM research - thanks to everyone who has supported Morgan, our family, and Cure JM over the last year.

To read some of the latest advances made in JM research - thanks to you! - click on links following:


Dr. Rider - "Genetic & Environmental Studies" - http://www.curejm.com/research/genes_environ_research.pdf

Drs. Katz, Rider, etal. - "Parents' perception of self-advocacy of children with myositis: an anonymous online survey" - http://www.ped-rheum.com/content/9/1/10

Drs. Niewold, Pachman et al - "Familial Aggregation of Autoimmune Disease in Juvenile Dermatomyositis" - http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/127/5/e1239.abstract

To read about what is currently being researched at Dr. Pachman's lab in Chicago - http://www.childrensmrc.org/pachman/  - You get a GOLD STAR if you understand it all!! ;-)


Here is my post from last year so that you can relive the excitement! :)

I am thrilled to report that Cure JM finished the voting in the Pepsi Refresh challenge!!!
This is the first time I have relied on social networking for something important, and today I am amazed by two things.

1. Pepsi- I am amazed that they do this. It takes not only the investment but the resources to create and maintain the voting site. I have always been a Diet Coke lover, but I am officially a Diet Pepsi drinker now. :)
2. The power of networking, especially social networking. It is incredible that tweets, texts, emails, facebook, and phone calls got enough votes to win. Remembering that only about 5,000 kids have this in the US, there was not a huge group of parents to push this. It is amazing that the passion of these parents did it. We are all definitely stronger as part of a community that has a network. Simply amazing...I am a BELIEVER!
Thanks to all my friends and family who helped vote and who listened to me ramble on and on about this. $250,000 is a Huge step in the right direction. Thanks also to Pepsi!!!
 
One day, we will find a CURE for Juvenile Dermatomyositis!!!!!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Monday, August 8, 2011

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Friday, July 29, 2011

Early Morning Cure JM Crew

I have lost my mind here...5am to run (jolk) 13.1 miles. I would do it every day if Morgan could have a cure for JM!




Amy and Morgan at Cure JM Conference



JM Kids in Seattle - CURE JM!


Morgan in Seattle With Balloons!


Morgan helping out in the kids room

Morgan in Seattle

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Oh to be my dog

What a rough life she has...:)

Hello World

I have been a bad, bad blogger. I could list a million excuses, but I won't. :)

Work has been crazy busy as usual. I was reflecting on all of the acquitions recently. It really is very interesting to watch different cultures join and to watch how different people handle it. I took a behavioral interviewing class recently, and I think acquisitions could make some great interview questions to see how people reacted to diffrent things. I think it takes a year to even start to have the cultures blend together. We are coming up on a year. :)

I also recently was around several of the "Bond" crew. I really do enjoy the company of that group of people and miss the ones I don't get to see or talk to as much these days.

As for Morgan, we went to the Cure JM conference in Seattle in June. We learned a lot and met a lot of families who are also struggling with these Juvenile Dermatomyositis monster. It was great to see Morgan bond with a few of the kids - there was one even from Abu Dhabi! I hate that our family was thrust into this JM world, but I am so very thankful to have such a fabulous support group!

Morgan is at horse camp this week, and she gets to call home every night between 8 and 9. It is so great to hear her voice. She is really having a fantastic time. Unfortunately, her joints are really giving her fits, but she is not letting it ruin her time. I am so proud of the way she has grown over the last year. She is riding horses once a week. She is still on 16 pills and two infusion sessions a month, but she is doing much better than this time last year. It was hard to even think about her going to camp last year compared to this year. We had NO idea what this whole thing was about, and she hadn't gone tot the specialist or anything. Her head hurt so badly that she couldn't even enjoy camp and she just wanted to lie down all day. :( What a difference a year makes. I can't believe she will be in eighth grade! She is doing 2 classes of virtual school and 4 of in school this year.

Chris is starting college in less than a month! OMG where did the time go? Hard to believe the 7 year old I met when Mike and I were dating is now going to college. I know that the other three will be there before I know it. I am thankful that we have such a good time hanging out as a family, and it is so fun to watch them grow up. Can't wait to hear about his dorm experiences! :) His dorm has 8 guys in two person suites and they share a bathroom and study area. Seems like a neat set up.

Michael has become quite the orchestra guy and is doing great. He has been in a two week program the last few weeks and has really seemed to enjoy it. He has actually started asking more for a viola than for video games. Michael is reading all the Harry Potter books again. Speaking of, we all went to the midnight showing of hte last Harry Potter movie. I am not really a HP fan, but the kids wanted to go. Michael, Katie, and I held 11 seats for over 2 hours before everyone else got there. Mark came to the movie too, and he kept making me giggle as he related the characters to people we know.

Katie is really looking forward to her first year of high school. Sometimes I see her out of the corner of my eye and it is hard to register that it is really Katie. She is a delight to talk and is really coming into her own. She is quite the shopper and loves to go shopping any chance she gets. She and Chris got into a debate the other day about whether Obama's policies were right or wrong because the dollar is weaker than the euro. It was so odd to hear them talking about it. :)

Mike is traveling less than he used to which is nice. I am still traveling quite a bit, so our schedules are rather complicated to decipher. Thankfully, Outlook helps us keep the overlaps straight. I have really enjoyed the summer and I am dreading school starting back. :( It goes way too quickly. We do have our big London and Paris trip coming up. I am so excited and will definitely post updates here.

Well, that pretty much catches me up for a bit. I did the half marathon in Seattle (I jolked it), but I have been pretty mucha slacker in the weight and exercise category. I am in the process of changing that and will be back stronger than ever soon. :)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Sad

This is what I rely on now to remember where I park

Monday, May 9, 2011

Children's Memorial

On our way out of the hospital in Chicago. Will know more in a week or so after test results.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

On the way to Chicago

Morgan and I had a rocky start to the day but we recovered somewhere around the security line. :) For someone who has broken five bones, she seems to have forgotten how hard it is to limp around. We made it to the plane though. :)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Mike and Morgan Gardening

They built a garden with lettuce, carrots, cantaloupe, and tomatoes! Can't wait to get some fruits and veggies!

Only in an Airport

I don't think this could be successful anywhere other than an airport. PB&J only? Really?

Medal from St. Anthony's

Forgot to post the picture of my
Medal from the St. Anthony's tri. The swim was a bit shortened to 1000ish yards but they added quite a run to it to get to transition. It was a blast though and I talked to Nick from NY and Brenda from Orlando on the run! Loved it!!

Normal foot

Here is the other foot for comparison.

My ankle :(

Fell on my ankle in Chicago on Tuesday. It hurts and is swollen. :(

Friday, April 29, 2011

Before Locks of Love

Morgan before she cuts TEN inches off!

Comfy Bed

Sophie thinks this bed is hers I think. I am not so sure Chris would agree. :)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Morgan and Sophie in the Pool

Morgan wanted Sophie to be an avid swimmer day 1. :) I bought a stationary swim trainer and it is awesome. It loops around a little pole and you strap it to your feet (you can see the black straps in the picture). I enjoyed it today and can't wait to use it more.

Sophie's first entry into the pool

She does not understand why the people are in water and she isn't so sure about it. We did get her onto the first step for a while!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

getwell:)network

This is the opening screen for get well network. We love it! You can pick the theater to watch movies or tv, the hospital to learn about hospital or treatments, and the food place to get menus and food info. The roller coaster gets you to games. All of this on a big screen in the room with a keyboard and built in mouse!

View from the room

Morgan is getting her treatment at all children's hospital. We have this amazing view from her room. Her iv is in the right arm after a miss in the left hand. :( Lab draw was quick. Waiting on meds to get here from pharmacy.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Morgan with Braids

Morgan still sporting the braids from the horse show. Love it!

Flowers in the yard

We have had some debate on the type of flowers these are, but we love them! They are blooming in the front and the back.

Morgan and Chance

This is Morgan with Chance, her buddy today in the horse show.

Morgan Rocks It

Morgan rocked the horse show today! She brought home four first place ribbons and was the grand champion. :) It was great to see her smile!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Matthew Paints

Today, Matthew came and painted two bathrooms and chris's room/my office. He has done a lot of painting at the house. I wasn't sure about this blue and was nervous about how it would look compared to the little sample, but I like it. Mike said it is Carolina blue for sure. I guess it is, but I like to think it is sky blue. :) thanks Matthew!

Friday, April 15, 2011

View of the moon from the couch out back

Lying next to the pool, looking at the moon and stars, enjoying the lights....love the new house

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Memories

Happy hour last night at Sawmill Taproom in Raleigh. I dropped my phone taking this picture and cracked the back of the iPhone. Bummer. That was BEFORE happy hour!

It was great to see the old Misys crew and unreal to think that we are all at the same company again. Thanks for coming!

Birds, really?

I checked into the Embassy Suites in Raleigh, and apparently they are known for having this bird in the lobby (and more sometimes). Odd. The sign says, I bite.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Alligator Season

Today was  a werid day. It started out as a typical stressful day. The kids have FCAT testing (florida state test) this week and today was day 2 of Reading. Work was crazy an to add to it the internet was going down, I couldn't print or fax, my presentation wasn't finished,  and I had to finish packing for my trip. I survived somehow and made it to the airport with a few minutes to spare. It was weird landing in Raleigh after so long. The C terminal is much nicer than I remember. The North Hills area is unbelievable compared to when I lived here. Almost weird - we ate at a french restuarant for dinner. Not what I remember of Raleigh. :)

It is alligator season in Florida. Here is a picture from one of the lakes by our house. This is the picture of the day. :)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Back to Blogging

Ok, I guess I needed to let something go during so much stress, so blogging was it. However, I have really missed it. So, I am going to pledge to hit 30 days in a row of blogging to get back on track. :)

We just moved into a new house so it has been pretty hectic. We are getting closer to being settled and we are starting to have some box-free rooms. I am ready to have it over, be able to park in the garage (both cars for the first time in 6 years!), have pictures hung, and have all the phones working! :) We are really liking the new house though.

I have seen a friend doing a picture of the day on Facebook, and I really enjoy it. So, I am going to start a picture of the day as it might give me something to blog about on days that I am stuck. :) Today's picture is an ode to my old closet. This room was about 12X12. I have to say that I took it for granted after a while, and I am missing it as I try to find places for 9,000 pieces of luggage, shoes, old pictures, etc. We never had a problem storing anything in the old closet. :) Bye awesome closet...I will miss you.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A day it pays to have Delta Platinun

Wow..2 people in priority and all of those in regular

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

One of those days

Today was just a frustrating day - you know, the kind you wish you hadn't gotten out of bed for?

My morning started off really hectic with work and then WHAM.,..Morgan didn't feel well. Stupid IV yesterday gave her a pretty bad headache. Grrrr...

Then, I have been trying to get a receipt from the Intercontinental in India for over a month so that I can get the policy enforcers off my back and out of my email. I am sure there is a dartboard with my picture on it somewhere in an accounting department. :) Who knew it could be so hard to get one lousy hotel receipt??? I have called India, emailed India, and then today I gave up and called the United States Intercontinental "Customer Care" (excuse me while I choke ont that. The lady said they can message them to send me a receipt. I explained that I had tried that and wondered if she had more power than my request. She says that she will call them for me. I wait on hold for a long time, and then she says that they will be emailing it now. HOORAY!!! Except...I was dumnb and let her off the phone. No receipt every came. Wah, Wah, Wah, Wahhhhhh....So, a few hours later, I called back again. This lady was NOT helpful at all and basically argued with me about it and said it would take 48 hours. I asked if the case had my information and she said no. Then, she says she is sending the message to them. When I asked if she needed my information, she said no. Nice...I have a feeling the receipt won't be coming today either. Of course, if this were HILTON, the receipt would already be online ready for me to get it at a moment's notice. That might just be the best selling point for Hilon as a business traveler yet. Intercontinental just got removed from my travel hotel list. Maybe I will get a receipt by the end of the month so that the poor nice receipt lady can get her receipt and process my expense report.

Then, Morgan says that she hurt her foot again. AGAIN? How can you hurt your foot when it is already in a full boot??? Really? Really? She goes to school anyway, but when I pick her up she says it is really hurting. I took her to the doc, but he said there was no new break. Thank goodness for small favors. At least the stress fracture is healing nicely.

I also had to go to the bank to wire money to India. This is yet another thing I have never had to do in all of my professional travel. There was some issue because of an airline ticket that was booked in India and for some reason they didn't get to use my card. So, I had to go to the bank to wire money there. Of course, it has to be a special branch and special times. Fun...What is my drama with India today? I told Krishan that he was going to have to fly to India to beat some people up for me if it didn't get better today.  Hee Hee...

Then, Morgan and I had a knock down drag out fight tonight. I am really ready for her to get hormones under control and to be off these dumb IV steroids. It is just hard and the attitude is just overwhelming.

I didn't get to go to my tri group either. BUMMER. Oh well, tomorrow is a new day.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Catfish the Movie

We watched the movie Catfish as a family over the weekend. It was recommended to me by a work colleague at HIMSS. It was the oddest movie ever. I was so nervous the whole time wondering what in the world was going to happen. It was very good, but man there are some WEIRD people out there. Glad that we watched it with the kids. Hopefully it will make them think a little about online "friends."

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Really, Soap Waste?

I had no idea that soap waste was such an issue. My hotel had this soap to "reduce soap waste" because the center is rarely used. Very odd...

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Day 1 - India

Today, we woke up at the Intercontinental by the Mumbai airport. I slept really well (Ambien rocks!). We had breakfast at the hotel (Indian pancake like thing was really good). Our driver, Bhau, was there to get us around 11. Since it was dark when we drove in, it was much different in the daylight. We rode through Mumbai, and it made me so sad to see such poverty. No matter how much you see it, it is still so shocking and so sad. Kids living under tarps on the side of the road, trash everywhere. So sad. It is a beautiful country and we saw some beautiful views on the drive.

When we arrived in Pune, we went shopping first! I felt like my mom. :) Seriously, it was really nice to get some things for the family before we were so busy. I bought the girls some cashmere scarfs, and the boys some silk ties. I also looked at some beautiful silk rugs and loved them. I think those would look soooo awesome in our new house! I am tempted but decide I should talk to Mike first. I did buy some more scarves and a bed cover that is made of silk. It is really pretty.

We finally got to the Westin in Pune around 6 pm. The Westin is a fabulous hotel. It is very pretty and has all the electronic gadgets and such.  The lobby was nice but it wasn't quite as pretty as the Mumbai airport Intercontinental. We got checked in, got our luggage, and decided to eat dinner. We didn't have any rupees left after shopping, so we had to tip our driver some US dollars. I also tipped the guy dollars for my luggage. I later found out that 10 rupees is a good tip for bringing bags which is about a quarter. So, I am sure those people really liked me.

We ate at an Indian restuarant in the hote. It was really nice. We had kingfisher beer (an Indian beer that was totally YUM!) and I had prawns for dinner with some rice. It had a little spice but not too much. It was perfect.

We then went to the bar and had a couple of drinks. The bartender was super cool and he taught me how to say several Hindi words. I had fun learning them. He also made us a special drink, but I forgot the name of it. It was really good.  I slept well again - love that Ambien!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Flight to India

I got to the airport with about an hour and 10 minutes until the flight (after I parked and got to the check in). I went to the sky cap first, and he said he couldn't check me in because there was some restriction. He said to go inside. I went to the kiosk area and got in line. They can't help me either....I need full servcie. I get in the Platinum/First Class line. I am waiting for quite a while (about 20 minutes and I have already spent 30 minutes total at this point trying to check in). I have 40 mins before my flight now. I am next in line but the people there are NOT moving. The "non-platinum line" that was long now has one person in it. Crap! I should have taken the long line. Finally, one of the stations open and as I am walking there, this condescending man in a red jacket tells that guy to stop working the line I am in because there is a large group. First of all, I am in the platinum/first class line because I fly Delta all the time. Secondly, I was the only one in that line so why wouldn't you help me first and THEN help the group? I had been waiting a long time, and the guy even told Mr Mean Red Coat Guy that. He told him to do it anyway. I tried to be funny and nice about it all and asked him if he was really going to do that to me. He said yes but that I would be next. 25 minutes later, I FINALLY got someone. MAN!!!!!!! The only reason I got someone is because I got Mr. Mean Red Jacket Guy to get me someone. Geez....

I get to security and it isn't too bad, but it isn't open either. I go into the body scanner and my sequins on my shirt cause it to go off. I get frisked (man, I think she wanted to date me). I get to the gate and they are already boarding first class. A little too close for me even though I still had time.

I sit next to a really nice woman, and we chat the whole way to Atlanta. She was going to Calcutta so it was kind of funny. She goes a lot to India.

In Atlanta, I have about 2 hours. I go to the Sky Club because I have some calls and because I am SOO hungry. I get some hummus and pretzels, and I am happy. The call was something that I shouldn't have even been involved in, and once I finished it, boarding time was close. Surj said he was at the airport but not yet to the gate. I made my way to the gate and Surj said he was on the tram. I boarded and started to get settled when Surj got on the plane. We were sitting one row apart. We asked this guy to switch with us, and he reluctantly did. The seats are those ultra cool "lie flat" seats in business class. I am excited to try them as I haven't ever been in them.



I brought crackers and powerbars in case I needed them, but instead they stuffed us the whole way here. Here is a sample of part of the menu for ONE flight.

I tried to sleep on the first leg after the dinner, but I didn’t sleep much. I got a few little naps but nothing significant. It was actually kind of hot on the plane. People who know me will tell you that if I thought it was hot, then it must have been really hot. Mike would have hated it.




We land in Amsterdam, and it is morning there. We wander through the airport, and then we decide to find the Sky Club. We walk and walk and walk down these weird hallways that seem like you must be going the wrong way, and all of the sudden, we find it! We go in for a bit and chill, and then we head back to the gate as they start boarding about an hour before the flight (Crazy to me). I had a bit of trouble too with the lie flat seats. They are nice to change it up, but I actually think a good recline might be a bit more comfy. The issue is that your legs are really lower than your body so it seems like you are going to slide off the chair. Whoever came up with the term “lie flat” has a different definition of “flat” than I do. However, they were still nice to have and I thought they were really comfy when reclining. I also watched the movie, “Easy A.” It was very cute.



We go through the pre-flight security screening, and it is pretty smooth. Soon, they board. Surj and I sat together again, but a man had to move again for us to do so. This time, we were in the middle section of 2 seats. I didn’t think I would really like it, but it was actually nice because we both had an aisle. We had fantastic food again, and I had some chicken dish. Then, I fell asleep. Actually, I didn’t even make it all the way through dinner. And I slept HARD. I thought these seats were a little more comfy, but I am not sure as they seemed the same. I didn’t notice the leg slant as much for sure. Regardless, I slept well. When I woke up, I watched “Grown ups.” It was fantastic. I loved it. By the time it was over, I had just enough time to finish my book, “Bitter is the New Black.” It was very cute and witty.



We landed in Mumbai, and I had a few flashbacks to my last time here as a transit passenger. I was SO happy to be a normal passenger and not a transit. I didn’t have to sit in that silly room or anything! Surj’s luggage came pretty fast, but mine did not. It was actually pretty slow. BUT, I was just thrilled to get it!



We walked outside and saw the car waiting for us. Thankfully, it said Surj because my name showed as Mr. Army Gleason. Too funny.



It is now Saturday night around midnight (going into Sunday). We ride to the Intercontinental Mumbai, and it was very close to the airport. We checked in, cashed in some dollars for some rupees, and I went to bed! I slept incredibly well before meeting Surj at breakfast around 10.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Reality Sets In

The week after vacation is always hard. This one was no different. I started to get back into reality, unpack, do laundry, pay bills, what there is no lido deck? Where is my drink of the day? Ugh, I have to diet again? Man...where is that lottery when you need it? :)

This week was supposed to be the week I am going to India. However, there are some concerns in the group due to some news stories. So, on Tuesday, the trip is canceled and rescheduled for Feb. I went to my tri group on Tuesday night, and it was great to see everyone and some new faces! If only my knee would stop paining, life would be grand. Unfortunately, I am STILL not running which is freaking me out.

Wednesday, Morgan had horse lessons. We found out that the banquet is Saturday. Wow! We can all go since I am going to be home and we have the kids. It sounds like a lot of fun.

Thursday, I am just starting to get caught up on email and to get back in the swing when Surj calls. He changed his mind and we should got to India - TOMORROW! Seriously? India in less than 24 hours? Wow! I start getting into overdrive and planning. Laundry, check. Dry cleaning, oops, too late. Plans for Morgan when Mike is out of town, check. Packing, check. Banquet - oh crap...Mike says he can take her, check. Thanks to Krishan, I brought a small carry on suitcase with some spare clothes and some other necessities. This also allows me to take a small bag to Baroda when I go instead of lugging everytihng. Perfect! It was also comforting in case my luggage was lost. Krishan gave me lots of advice which was greatly appreciated. Mike and Morgan were both a huge help in getting me ready.

We had been trying to get into a house to see it all week, but the owner had been sick. When I told Stacey that I was going to India after all, she called back and arranged for us to see it that evening. WE LOVED IT! Of course, it had to be at 6pm the night before I leave for India, but we loved it. So, we started working on an offer. Stacey pulled together the paperwork, Morgan went to spend the night at a friend's house, and I got ready for my trip.

At 9 the next morning, we signed the offer paperwork at Starbucks before I rushed off to get Morgan. She had her outpatient infusion today, and I wanted to at least be there for her IV to get started. Thankfully, Mike was in town and could be with her.

We got to All Children's Specialty center on near Fletcher, and we were there early. I had already pre-registered so that we could go quickly. Unfortunately, she wanted to verify all that I already pre-registered. Then, she wanted to convince me to fill out some financial paperwork. Since I haven't gotten my HSA card yet for my new insurance, she let me pay a smaller portion of the deductible until I get the card. It was nice but she was making it take forever.  I tell her that I am flying to India and could we please hurry. She pages the nurse and says that she is almost done and that the nurse will be here soon. At 11:20, I ask if there is any way to hurry because I am leaving for India. They go to check and let us know that the nurse is finishing a procedure. About 15 minutes later, I check again. This manager type lady comes over and tells us that it is impossible to have her IV in by 11:45. GRRRRRR. However, this fabulous nurse came and got Morgan started. She said that she could get some of the information quickly and then could do the rest. She got her IV in on the first try and was super nice. I was so appreciative! I got to be there for the hand squeezing and then I was off to the airport! India, here I come!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Off the Ship and HOME!

Today, we got up around 7:30 and went to our final breakfast on the ship. We never made it to the dining hall, so we went there today. YUM for eggs benedict. Glad I didn't know that before today since I am sure I have gained 10 lbs anyway. :) They let us hang out there for a while. We were group 17 to get off the ship since we don't hvae a flight or anything. We got off around 10:30. Not too bad. We were home by noon. Security and customs was a piece of cake and went smoothly. All of our bags were waiting. Porter was awesome and got them all to the car. Perfect.

We spent the rest of the day unpacking and settling back in. I returned a few things (like the dress I bought for formal night that had a broken zipper before I could even wear it) at the mall. I checked for a 26.2 magnet, but there weren't any. I will have to order one. Mike, Katie, Chris, and Michael came to meet me at Cantina Laredo for a last meal out before our big diet starts on Tuesday  (Family Biggest Loser Challenge). Morgan stayed home as she wasn't feeling well and got Red Robin take out from me on my way home.

We then Umi'd with Mike and Tracy for a while and chilled out. It was nice to not be rushed for anytihng since we have off tomorrow. Love having that day as I always feel so rushed back to work after vacation. This was PERFECT!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Day 7 - At Sea - Last Day on Ship

Today, the girls cabin slept very late. We didn't even move until 10. It was HEAVENLY! Mike came over about 10 and wanted to see if we were up. Katie started showering and MoMo and I relaxed until 11. We finally all got moving around 11:30. We decided to check out the scavenger hunt that was described as the Day Long Scavenger Hunt.

Michael, Katie, Morgan, Mike, and I went down to Legends Cafe to see what it was about. Chris, who got in rather late or early depending on how you look at it, was still snoozing. As we got there, Freddy, the mascot came by.

They gave us a paper that had all of these activities. You either had to bring something back or take a picture of it depending on the event. The group can split up but some of the things had to be together.

Task 1 - Enter the slot tournament and get a souvenir. Oh darn. We HAVE to go to the casino? Really? Oh well...all for the team. :) I haven't ever entered a slot tournament, so it was a new experience. Mike and I got our $20 tickets and signed up for a machine. Round 2 had machines 2 and 4 open. Mike took 2 and I took 4.
After we pushed the little button for our 200 credits, Mike and I were both in the 1500 range, and the highest in our group was 6600. The highest ended up being 12000. We didn't make the finals but we got a ticket to come back for the wild card at 2:40.

Next on the list was the chicken dance and chef's hat. We had to go to the Lido deck and get a chef's hat and then get a chef to do the chicken dance with us. We ate first, MAN that pizza is GOOD! I asked for a hat, and finally this nice man came out and said to follow him. We got the hat and then we did the chicken dance while Mike took pictures.


We decided to drop off the hat and the ticket from the slot tournament in the room so that we wouldn't lose them. When we went in, there was our new towel animal  hanging - a monkey! It scared us half to death as it was hanging by the door.

Next, we had to go to the art show. We had to get a number and any pieces of free art we got were worth 1 point. We looked at several paintings and pictures that were really nice. There was a beautiful American flag one that I loved. It was part of some contest so they couldn't tell me the price, but I am sure it was a lot. We saw a bunch of pictures we dubbed the "Grams and Papa Collection" as they looked just like the pictures Grams and Papa send. We had to get a picture of a team member with the number. Since Mike did the slot picture and I did the chicken dance picture and Katie is in Circle C, MoMo is it. :) Plus, she was loving this Dumbo picture that was $550 "drastically reduced."




 
 
Next up is ice carving. We had to get a group shot with the ice carving. The artist was amazing. He did the whole thing in 11 minutes. We guessed along the way of what it was. A fish I thought. Morgan thougth it was a cruise ship. Mike and Katie were too far from us to give us what they thought (it was very crowded and we had to squeeze in to see).



Beginning

Love this shot - Ice Flying (Morgan took this!)

Finished


Group Shot with Ice
Next on the list was the Groove for St. Jude. This is a charity dance event to benefit St. Jude's children's hospital. Since I have a newfound special love for children's hospitals, I supported the cause and bought tshirts and a bear. It said on the form that a $10 got you 25 points. Awesome!

Wow, they weren't kidding with day long scavenger hunt. Whew...Next up was trivia. It was celebrity trivia. You get a point for each celebrity on board (cruise directors, entertainers, etc) or double credit if it is on your groove for st. jude shirt! So, we were running around trying to get people to sign the shirt. It was harder to find those entertainers than you might think!

We arrived late to celebrity trivia by 1 minute, and they were already on #10. Oops. Mike was a rockstar at it though and probably would have been in top 3 if we had been there for the whole thing. Some were obvious but others were pretty hard. We got two more signatures there. :)

Mike and Morgan said I was a little obsessed by the signatures. Ok, I might have been, but we ended up with 10. 20 points!

Next up was high tea. We had to get a picture of our team members drinking tea like the queen. Morgan and Katie weren't too thrilled by the tea. I am not a big tea drinker either, but it was pretty good. I tried Mike's orange and spice one and thought I might puke.  The treats were slow to come but they were pretty tasty when they arrived. We got a point for every uneaten treat that we brought. We brought 5 and snuck them out in a napkin.I felt like Grams. :) Although, Mike did the dirty deed and smuggled them out. :) We also laughed hysterically as this guy came up and grabbed a tea thing and snatched it. They guy said, "Can I help you?" He said, "We have only been waiting 15 minutes. No problem, we will make our own." We totally thought about Uncle Mark and giggled. He is known for making his own drinks at restaurants if they are too slow.

Mike driking his tea

Katie holding her tea (she didn't want to sip it)

Me drinking my tea with my Groove shirt on my shoulder)

Morgan making faces at the tea (definitely didn't want to drink it)

Team shot at tea
Tea was the last activity, so Mike and Morgan went back to the room to get our stuff. Katie went to Circle C with the promise of being back by 5 (the entire team had to be there). I went to find more signatures but didn't have any luck. At a few minutes before 5, we met up and Buttercup went to score the competition. We bought 3 shirts which counted as 75 points, so that really helped. The second place team had 16 uneaten treats and we only had 5. We had 10 signatures and they had 8. We were declared the winners with 153 points, and we all got a trophy - also known as a ship on sticks.


We relaxed for a whil, and then we packed. Man, we have a lot of stuff. We rushed off to the PG comedy show. We saw Al, and he was really funny. The audience was pretty weird and he ended up talking about orangeville, canada and pennsytucky (he asked where people were from and some guy said "Pennsyltucky - they are two different states!). It was pretty funny. The comedian just riped him a new one. We were laughing so hard.

Waiting for dinner

Michael with Raynaldo and Rubin

Next, we went to our last dinner in the dining room. I had steak, Morgan had steak, Michael had pasta, Katie had chicken, Chris had salmon, Mike had steak. It was good, but Carnival should really do a better job with the food timing. They bring the food out with the warming lid on it and sometimes it sits there for a LONG time. Our soup was cold and the dinner was mildly warm. However, it was still good and we had a good time. We said our farewells to the Raynaldo and Ruben. Sad...we will miss them.

Their farewell dance was very cute. I will try to upload the video later. Tried twice but it keeps bombing out.



After dinner, Mike and I went to two comedians. The kids went to say goodbye to their Circle C friends. Morgan was in bed by 11, and Katie was already in bed when we got back around 12. The two comedians were really good. The second one, Al, was the same one we saw earlier. He was so funny that Mike and I were crying. He asked this guy where he was from and the guys spelled Buffalo. He just railed on him after that and kept coming back to it. Also, this other guy said "Stupid" when a couple said they were newly married. Somehow, he turned him into a serial killer by the time it was over, and it was hysterical. Great job on the comedians. Fun time on the ship. Sad to get off but have had a great time.

Overall, I would rate Holland America as the better experience, but we had a good time on Carnival. I liked the comedy shows on Carnival as I didn't really care too much for the Holland America ones. HA had two pub crawls