Wednesday, November 28, 2012

November 25

Tampa bay, Florida

Disembarking and flying home


We got off the ship without incident and waited for my mom to pick up a rental. She showed up with a Ford Flex....for 8 people and 14 bags!

We packed the trunk full, loaded the back seat with luggage and kids, put 2 suitcases on the floor of the middle seat (meaning the The Big Guy and I had no legroom) and 17 sat on a suitcase in the middle. It was by no means comfortable nor safe! We drove about, had lunch at a Cuban place,a shopped at a mall and then went to the airport. Free wifi in the airport was a true gift to these weary parent travelers! We also had outlets...not enough but enough to make do.

3 hours and many snacks later we boarded a plane home. The flight was uneventful and after an easy landing at Midway we got our bags and prepped for the last leg of the trip...the drive home!


Today I am gradual for safe travels and coming home.

November 24

On board


Today is our last day on the ship. I woke up early to a beautiful sunrise. I decided to go for a run on deck which was amazing. The wind at my back for part of each lap and then into wind for the other half. After 5 miles I chose to head in to the gym for a bike ride then some weights.

Breakfast on deck and then a quick change into a bathing suit. I planted myself on a deck chair for the rest of the day happily reading my book and drinking umbrella drinks.

Early in the afternoon we had to head down to our room and prepare for the main parents vow renewal. The girls looked beautiful and the boys handsome.

The captain officiated the tearful ceremony with the grandchildren standing up as witnesses. We took many photos after and then headed to dinner.

Dinner was a relaxed affair with story after story of how may parents met, dated, and married.

We retired to our rooms full of food and festivities to pack ours bags.


Today I am grateful for warm sun and love.


November 23

Cozumel, Mexico


Again we had to tender into port. This was an arduous process as the waters were choppy and there were 6 ships in port. Once we got ashore we exited the safe area and took a cab downtown. We shopped a bit and wanted to take a glass bottom boat ride but the waters were choppy and my kids got a little skittish so we gave up on the idea. We met the family for lunch at a place called Panchos backyard. It was so good and the drinks large. 17 and I had a few cocktails together again which was fun.

After lunch we walked about and found a bar in which the seats were swings. Fun! It ended up being a short day as the weather turned windy and cloudy and we were all tired. The tender ride back was tumultuous as the waters were choppy with the wind. The kids were a bit nervous but we made it back to the ship and relaxed before dinner.

The kids had all made friends aboard ship by this point so they all took off leaving mom and dad alone for a change. We spent some time in the hot tub and went to a super sushi dinner together.

Another day done.


Today I am grateful for deep drinks and time with my husband.


November 22

Costa maya, Mexico

Thanksgiving day


We woke up early and walked off the ship prepared for the kids to participate in a long awaited excursion....swimming with the dolphins. It was early (8:30) but already warm. We walked to the dolphin pool and while the instructor gave an initial lesson, I took pictures marveling in the excitement of my kids.

Soon they entered the water and the dolphins came right over. They kissed the dolphins and did other training behaviors with the dolphins. It was a joy to watch the kids do something like this. Usually thanksgiving is about me running and us eating all day. Not this year. It was all about my kids.

Once they were finished and got out of the water we walked across the beach to SeƱor Frogs for fruity drinks, free Internet and nachos.

There is a free large pool and beach with coral access to the ocean. We hung out in the pool, laid on chairs in the sand and swam in the ocean looking at the living things under the water. Mom and I collected pieces of coral and I swam with the kids in the warm Gulf waters.

We packed up about 4 and headed back to the ship to get ready for Thanksgiving the steakhouse!

Yes, I had steak, potatoes and shrimp for Thanksgiving dinner! A non traditional Thanksgiving to be sure but one that I will remember forever.


Today I am grateful for dreams... And the ability to help my kids dreams come true.


November 21

Belize City Belize

I slept almost all the way through the night for the first time in days waking to drink a little water. I woke up for good early and headed to the deck to sit and enjoy the view. I watched as the ship came to port and anchor as my family slept. I was feeling much better....not 100% but stronger and ready to see another city.

We hopped aboard a tender boat and rode to shore. The village was crowded and filled with little shops. We wanted to leave and enter the city to visit a famous church. We exited the "safe zone" and immediately did not feel safe ... Even with my big husband! We did not want to put the kids in harms way so we turned around and headed back into the safety of the secure area. We milled about visiting shops with local wares and had some snacks. Local donuts and fried plantains were yummy. We then decided to stop for a drink at the Wet Lizard. 17 and I ordered drinks, mom and The Big Guy had local beers and the kids had pop then we ordered some conch ceviche which was scrumptious!

We got back on The ship via the tender and relaxed for the evening.

Today I am grateful for cool drinks and fresh seafood.


November 20

Roatan Honduras

The sun rose behind the clouds and I rose to a sick stomach. The Boy got up and got me some breakfast (if you call ginger ale, Cheerios, and banana breakfast) and we sat on our balcony together as I tried to hold some food down.

The rest of the family woke up and headed to breakfast as we watched the ship dock in the port of Roatan Honduras.

We disembarked and headed to the main port area. My mom had already contracted a driver to chauffeur us about the island. As our driver, Percy, drove We saw many beautiful and many not so pretty parts of the area. Many clothes hanging from clothes lines and lots of people walking everywhere. I like to get in and mix with the local culture however being married to an over protective cop does not allow for this behavior when we are together. So we traveled by van throughout the island. I took photos from the van windows and longed to get out and walk amongst the streets. We visited a private nature preserve that was beautiful. Many wealthy islanders have been allowed to build homes on the property and it also houses a private resort. We got out near the resort area to use the restroom and walk around. Soon the rain started again and chased us back to the van.

We decided at this point to head back to the ship as the rain became heavier. We had planned to go to the beach but the weather had other plans.

We did make a stop at the monkey park. This was a very small little area where a private guide, Oskar, took us to various cages of different native and nonnative species of wildlife. We saw tapirs, spider monkey, island rabbit, and island white tailed deer. We entered the cages and interacted with the white faced gibbons and scarlet macaw. It was the macaw that took a liking to Jack as it took a nibble of his finger!


We boarded our van and drove though an area called the West End. This a an ocean front area where the divers and fisherman are the prime sources of income. Dive shacks are everywhere and boats to take the divers out are a dime a dozen. We stopped at a shirt shop to get the kids a souvenir. The shop was owned by a man from Iowa who came to visit and never left.


As we drove though the streets Percy told us about the area and himself. With no traffic laws, the only thing governing speed on the streets are well placed speed bumps. Also the road is riddled with potholes that could swallow a car whole. Percy shared that his father was originally from Columbus Ohio and had come to Honduras to work for Dole foods many years ago. He never learned the language but his children did ... Much to his frustration as the often spoke about him right in front of his face but he could not understand.


Percy told us of his 3 grown children and reminded both my husband and I that the most valuable thing we could give our children was education. His own children had not followed that example leading to a life of drinking and destitution.


We arrived back at the port with time to spare. I decided to walk out of the compound and across the street to photograph a cemetery. This angered my husband as he does not like me "wandering off". Me? I was fine....happy for the opportunity to enjoy a moment to pray and take some photos of the beautiful headstones.


We met up with my brother and his wife and they told us of their adventures in Honduras as we reboarded the ship. At this point we were famished so we got a little something to eat and I headed down to the cabin for a nap....which turned into an all night affair of me sleeping on and off while people came in and out. I remember little of the night with conversations here and there are my kids and husband paraded into and out of the room.

Today I am grateful for Imodium and chance encounters with people who change my viewpoint.


November 19


At sea

Our first full day at sea. I got up .... Well that implies that I slept...which I did not. The Boy was a nervous traveler and was in my bed several times. But soon I got dressed and headed to the fitness center where I worked up a sweat that felt cathartic. A quick change of clothes and the Boy and I went to breakfast where we met up with my parents. We stayed on deck and chatted while the rain came and went and soon the sun was out and so was I....collecting as many rays as possible. A break for lunch with my husband and back to the sun was how I spend the first day.


The sun gave way to clouds again and we decided it was time to shower and get ready for dinner.


Dinner was at a different restaurant on the ship but also one of the main dining rooms. The food was a bit better here and time with my family the best part. After dinner we walked about and soon I retired to the room....while the rest of the family played about the ship. The rest was short lived as I got violently ill. All night long I was in the bathroom sick as a dog. It was no fun for anyone in our room.


Today I am grateful for an on board fitness center!

November 18

Bon voyage


Sunday we arrived at Midway bright and early to meet my parents and board a flight to Tampa. The flight was smooth and the kids well behaved ( as much we can expect.) 9 even cried upon take off from midway!

Upon arrival in Tampa we collected our luggage and headed to the port via car service arranged is advance by my mom.

We arrived at the large ship port and began waiting in various lines, one for security, one for check in, one for photos and another to board the ship. It was very reminiscent of Disney world!


Once on the ship we found our rooms and changed clothing then headed to the pool deck for a drink. The sun was shining and the weather warm. Before long the ship set sail and the adventure was beginning.


Dinner in the main dining room was, well, an adventure. With freestyle dining there are no set meal times so you show up and wait if needed. This did not make my father happy. He like to show up and eat. The food, once we were seated was fair. (Read bad banquet hall) but the company was great. Sitting down to dinner With the whole family is a true luxury.

After dinner we walked about the ship and went back to my parents room for a nightcap and then bed.


Today I am grateful for luggage with wheels....and patience.


Sunday, November 18, 2012


Today I am grateful for the opportunity to travel with my family. We have never taken a real vacation with the kids, only long weekends here and there. We have never traveled on a plane all of us together so today will be an experience. I am grateful for some quality time with my kids and my family as a whole. 


Today I am grateful the first trimester is done.... At SCHOOL! Report cards are finished and sent home. The majority of my conferences are Done. I am grateful for a break from the stress of school for even a few days. I love teaching but taking a break allows me to return refreshed and a better teacher. 

Friday, November 16, 2012


Today I am grateful for water. It us my beverage of choice for most of the day. It is essential for the making of coffee,  the taking of long, Hot showers and replenishing my soul. I often take for granted that it is there at the twist of a handle. I find my greatest peace at the waters edge. Simply put, I can't live without water. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012


Today I am grateful for social media and the internet. Through FB and Twitter and other means, I have been able to reconnect with old friends, meet new friends and develop so many more meaningful relationships in real life. I am also able to keep up with my kids via social media thus not feeliing like such an outsider. I love my 'creepy internet friends' one and all!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Today I am grateful for music. I love music as there is something for my every mood. I love that my children love music as well and that most times we can agree on something to listen to together. My kids introduce me to new music and keep me 'hip'. My son is learning to play the guitar and longs to play "Blackbird" by the Beatles someday which warms my old heart.  Music feeds my soul and fills me up. 

What's your favorite song right now? 
What's your favorite song of all time?
What's your favorite band? 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Time to put away the tiki bar!
Today I am grateful for the seasons. I am grateful I live in a place where we get all 4 seasons ... Sometimes on a 24 hour period! I love each season for a different reason but have to say fall is my favorite.


Monday, November 12, 2012


It was not a Marathon but like one for our WONDERGIRLS!  I have to shamelessly brag on a bunch of little girls so if you would indulge me please.....

Saturday, November 10, 2012, was the WonderGirl 5K sponsored by Girls On The Run.  This was the culminating event of a 13 week self esteem, positive body image program for girls in grades 3-5.

It was a cool overcast morning but  the girls and their families came out to run....for many their first 5K and for many the longest distance they have ever run. The coaches gathered our girls...all 25 of our third grade girls who began the program came out to run together. We pinned on their numbers and set off to decorate tiaras.  The rain threatened and we were all a bit nervous…but that only added to the excitement of the day!    We did our Girls on the run cheer and got ready to run. Soon it was time to line up and run....each girl walked to the start with their running buddy (an adult that runs with the girl for support), hand in hand.  We had many other runners supporting us and running with us…siblings, parents, grandparents, friends…..

The gun sounded and we were off....a little slowly at first as there were so many people and not a lot of space. As we ran through the neighborhood, the crowds cheered and honked horns in support of the girls. Everywhere words of encouragement could be heard....."You can do this!" "I am proud of you!" "You are going to finish..." We walked a bit and ran a bit …we got through the distance….

As soon as the finish line was in sight the girls finally realized that they would finish. We ran to the finish with the sounds of the crowd yelling and flashes going off as a multitude of parents and supporters took pictures and cheered! The girls…every one of them…crossed the finish line head held high smiling from ear to ear!

When we arrived back at our school gathering site, we met with all the other girls proudly wearing their medals! Parents were all sharing stories with one another so visibly proud of their little girls! The girls were beaming!  What a sight!!!  Shortly after,  it was time to part ways and head home

The girls wore their shirts and medals to school on Monday and we coaches could not be prouder of them!! This was a life changing event for not only the girls but families and coaches as well.

We all started running at different times in our lives. We all run for different reasons. We all train for different events. Everyone had to start somewhere. Our hope and prayer is that this was the start of something good for all these girls and families.

These girls are not only SUPERSTARS but.... WONDERGIRLS!!  


Today I am grateful for warm coats, hats and gloves/mittens. I am grateful that I have them to wear and can provide them for my family. I am also grateful for a home with heat. Many families do not have or can not afford to heat their homes. I am grateful that my family is warm.

Sunday, November 11, 2012


Today I am grateful for freedom and for those men and women who protect my freedoms. Throughout history, each and every day men and women put on a uniform, fight and often give the ultimate sacrifice to protect the freedoms we often take for granted. We must express our gratitude to these valiant soldiers and their families not just on days like today, Veterans Day, but every day. Freedom is not free. Someone always pays a price. Let us never forget and always be grateful....

Saturday, November 10, 2012


Today I am grateful for finish lines. Finish lines have taught me so much about myself as a runner and as a person. Today a finish line will teach my GOTR about themselves. It will teach GOTR parents about their daughter. Finish lines are a goal but they are more that that. They are a destination. We learn so much before we even teach the finish line and all of it is important. I will never cross a finish line first and may sometimes be last but crossing that line will make me feel like a winner ... Just like it will today for each of my Girls on the Run! 

Friday, November 9, 2012


Today I am grateful for Girls on the Run. I am grateful to Molly Barker for starting this program. I am grateful for my girls in program each season and my coaches. 
GOTR is a blessing in my life for my reasons. I love that  this program Allows girls to focus on the important things such as how amazing and powerful they are even at a young age. This programs allows girls to feel the power of accomplishing something they thought was impossible at the start. Girls learn that life is tough but they are tougher and stronger than even the biggest challenge. I love that I get more from these girls than I can ever give back. I learn more about them and me each time we are together. I am a better mom, coach, teacher and woman thanks to GOTR.  I am forever changed thanks to GOTR. Girls on the Run is so much FUN! What are we? FANTASTIC! Who are we? ROCKSTARS AND SUPERSTARS! SPARKLEFINGERS!

Thursday, November 8, 2012


Today I am thankful that I am a teacher. I am not only thankful that I have a job but that I have a vocation. I love what I do. I love that every day is different and every child is unique. Despite the paperwork and the occasional parent, it is all good. I love to share the joy of learning with my students. I love to open their eyes to the bigger world that surrounds them. I love that they teach me more than I could ever teach them! I remember every student and think about where they are now. I am so blessed  to have learned so much from so many awesome kids all making me a better teacher, mom and human being. Thank you to my many former students!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


Today I am grateful for my husband. He works multiple jobs tirelessly to support our family. He works on his day off as well as holidays to make ends meet. He puts on a uniform every day and protects those in the City only to be critiqued, criticized and often despised by those he serves. I am grateful that he loves me for who I am despite my flaws. I am grateful he is such a wonderful father that has good relationships with his kids. I am grateful each night when he arrives home safely. I am grateful he is my husband. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Today I am grateful for freedom and those who protect that freedom. I have the freedom to vote.  I have the freedom to speak my mind. I have the freedom to own a gun. I have the freedom to listen to what I want. I have the freedom to pray how and where I choose. I have the freedom because someone put on a uniform, fought and perhaps died, to protect that freedom and for that I am forever grateful and truly blessed. 

Monday, November 5, 2012


Today I am grateful for my children. I love them more than they will ever know. I try my best to be a good mom to them each day, and while there are days I fail miserably….they never fail me.

17 – She made me a mom. She challenges me to be better every day. She and I are so alike but she is a much better version of me. She makes me proud every day. She fails to realize how deeply I love her.

14 – My curly girl. She makes every day an adventure and I am so blessed she is my child. She teaches me to see the world through very different eyes and I always learn/see something new.

13 – My baby girl. She is so smart and sassy and sweet. She is my sensitive soul. Her nickname of Queenie befits her in so many ways. She is the Queen of my heart.

9- My Little Man. My Little Prince. He was a gift from God and continues to shower me with blessings. He makes me crazy but in the end the smiles outweigh the insanity.


Today I am grateful for Daylight Savings Time. The extra hour provided today makes me feel like I can accomplish so much more in my day ... Starting with a bit more sleep!

I am also grateful for my dad....Happy 75th birthday to my dad, Walter Binder. He is the guy who taught me to love Sunday Bears football, a good book, good food, good jazz, and great wine. Here's to many more years teaching his grand kids about the finer things in life!

Saturday, November 3, 2012


Today I am grateful for first responders like my husband and many of our friends. They put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe. Their jobs are never easy, the hours always long and the gratitude nonexistent but yet they do it anyway. They are the true heroes of this country.
God bless Captain Herbert Johnson who gave the ultimate sacrifice last night. Prayers for his family and all of the CFD.

Friday, November 2, 2012


Today I am grateful for running. I am grateful to the man who first dared me to run a 5K changing the course of my life forever. Running has saved my life in so many ways allowing me to become a better mother, wife, friend, teacher and coach. I may not be fast but I am always moving forward. Forward is my pace.

Thursday, November 1, 2012


I has planned to go to the gym today as I have been feeling fat and lazy. I got changed right after work and was ready for a good sweat. Life had other plans. Shopping for the key ingredients for my husbands winning chili recipe, dropping and picking up kids from all different locations, dinner, seemed that life had other plans so I gave up the idea of the gym for today.

I got home from my running around and walked in to find the dog dancing around the kitchen in her tell tale "no one has taken me out" dance. I asked the kids and was ignored so I hooked up the puppy's leash and took her out.

I was planning on just taking her for a short walk but she started to pull at the leash and gave me that "lets go, woman" look so I started a slow jog to the end of the block.

I rounded a corner and just kept going. She looked so happy breathing in the cool night air with her nose sniffing everything possible that it just made me smile. We went around the park and I was going to go home but my feet took me another direction. I knew the way.... I had run this route before and the puppy seemed to know where we were going. Each time we reached a point where we could turn to go home, I turned the other way.

It was dark....well as dark as it gets in the city. Growing up in the country you learn what DARK really feels like. This was not really dark but it was as dark as the city gets....Unless someone shoots out the streetlight. Living in the first neighborhood to use electric lights and named after Thomas Edison, I have learned that it is never really DARK. I have embraced the lights of night.

As I ran I was enveloped by the warm amber glow of the streetlights. I was overwhelmed by a sense of peace that I had not felt in a long time. I was running with no GPS, no iPod, no watch, no nothing. My phone was on silent and I forgot I had it with me.

I was with my puppy in the dark, leaves crunching under our feet and cool air filling our lungs. I breathed out the crap that filled my head, heart and lungs breathing in the cool air and fresh attitude. The sights and smells of fall filled my senses.

I arrived home 30 minutes after I left but it felt like I could have run for miles more. I walked into the house and was greeted by chores being done and kids getting along.

Sometimes we all need a little dark to appreciate the light.



Gratitude is the best attitude. ~Author Unknown

During the month of November I will post one thing each day that I am grateful for. Just one item a day. By Thanksgiving I will have been reminded of 22 reasons to be grateful and 30 by the end of the month. Won't you all join me and live an attitude of gratitude this month?

Today I a grateful for coffee. It is the nectar of the God's on a day when I need sustenance to get me through the long work day and hours before I can call it a day. On a day when my students are sure to be either over sugared and still wound up or in a complete sugar coma, I am thankful for coffee to keep me going.