Saturday, December 27, 2008
You see, my sister and her family went on a cruise down in the Caribbean Islands over the Christmas Holiday break. Before she left, she told me that we would not be able to talk as there is no phone service on the boat. She said all communication would have to be through email messages. Except when your sister is very clever and convinces the Captain of the ship to allow her to use the company phone to call her family on Christmas Day!
As the phone rang that evening during dinner, I did not budge because all the people I love was sitting around the table. (I also knew if it was someone on Bill's side of the family needed to get through to us, they would call his cell number next). I figured it to be a random prank call or wrong number. But I was wrong...
What's so sad about this little story of mine, is that I am 51 years old and not one year has gone by in my entire life that I have not seen or spoken to my sister on Christmas Day. Never. It worked on the Captain and I should have had enough hope that it might happen and bring the GD phone to the table!
Of course, my heart and soul is always with my wonderful, little sister, no matter if we speak, email or just pray. Merry Christmas, Junebug and a Happy New Year. Talk to you soon.
Friday, December 12, 2008
Sheltered on a gentle rise overlooking L`Ansecoy Bay, Moana (Hawaiian for ocean) offers a panoramic view of turquoise seas and the nearby Grenadine Islands. The bright and airy living room is the villa`s focal point, just steps from sundeck, dining veranda, balcony, bedrooms and a garden path which leads to the new swimming pool and secluded beach. The villa is cooled by a soft sea breeze filtered by the surrounding trees and a tropical courtyard.
(There is a third bedroom available for rental for an additional $1000).
Thursday, December 11, 2008
From our readings, it sounds a little like a small club where friends come together to relax and party. The size lends itself to this atmosphere and the fact that one company, The Mustique Company, owns the entire island. This simplicity is appealing, if we can afford it.
Basically, you have 3 choices in where you stay on this island. There is one luxury resort called The Cotton House that has 20 rooms, one smaller resort, The Fire Fly, with 4 rooms, or you rent one of the 60 or so homes that are spread out over the 1400 acres of land. Some are near the beachfront and others are set up on the hillsides. There is a huge variety of size and price range to choose from. But for our purposes, we are selecting from the smallest and the least expensive to accommodate our group and budget.
We will first choose a Villa. Next we will choose which room we like at Cotton House and finally select our rooms at Fire Fly all using the same criteria listed below. Pay attention, as you will be voting for which choice we should select!
Our Trip: One week in February (close to the actual anniversary day)
Our Budget: Up to $10,000 (which we will split in half)
Beth's Criteria: I do not care whether we are right along the beach or up in the hills, which is unusual for me. Here's why: the rental fee of your villa includes a Jeep or similar vehicle. I think it would be a hoot to drive around in a "mule" (called a golf cart in my neck of the woods).
I am okay with renting a home on this island as they also include a private staff of a gardener, cook, and maid (minimum of three) to take care of your needs during your stay. Yes! How Divine!
I know we need to be careful when selecting the villa to remember the 10% Government Tax and the 8% Administrative Fee that's added to our total bill. Villa rates are quoted in US Dollars and are on European Plan. But the cost includes a nice airport welcome by Mustique staff and transfers to your specific villa, laundry and ironing services, four (4) floodlight tennis courts that are complimentary, centrally located in the middle of the island, a fitness trail and a special invitation to the Managing Director's weekly Cocktail Party on Tuesday evenings in the Great Room of the Cotton House and finally, transfer returns to the airport upon our departure. That adds up to a nice package in my eyes as normally a house sounds like work and cooking and less time to relax and enjoy the good company.
Beth's Villa Selection:
Serenity Bay, 2 BR, 2 BA, Hillside Villa
This was an easy selection for me, actually. This villa won out as it satisfied the most important detail which happens to be my biggest pet peeve in renting vacation houses: it has two identical master suites! Usually, there is one enormous master bedroom with lounging area, fantastic views and huge bathroom and one sort of minor bedroom for the other couple that's placed in the back, with a smaller, crappy bed and no adjoining bathroom. Sometimes June and me have drawn straws for the better room, one time we switched mid-vacation but it's always a pain in the neck.
Reason # 2: Serenity Bay overlooks Britannia Bay yacht anchorage which I think would provide hours of something to look at besides beautiful blue water.
Reason # 3: The villa is within walking distance to the beach and village and of course, we can take the "mule" if our little hearts desire.
Reason # 4: The swimming pool overlooks the turquoise waters and the lounge chairs look like they will be in the sun for most of the day. Some of the villas' pool areas look like they are in a jungle and I started thinking they may be buggy.
In general terms: the villa looks nice but not fancy. I think we would feel relaxed here and be able to walk around barefoot and comfortable.
The cost: $9,500 (for weeks between mid-Nov. and March). The cost goes down to $5,500 if we waited until after May 1st.
Now I know you are dying to see my selection, so I have provided two fantastic websites. They have different pictures, so it's fun to compare:
I'll post June's selection as soon as she sends it to me. She's actually always more thorough in her research that me. In the meantime, sit back...close your eyes..and day dream about having a rum drink on my Villa patio!
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Such is the case with my sister's 20th Anniversary, coming this February. If we were not in the financial situation we find ourselves in this year, we would definitely be taking a fabulous trip together to celebrate this momentous occasion. But half the fun is choosing the place, learning about the place to visit, and so, June and me have decided that we will plan the special trip anyway. (It's a great excuse to call daily!) Only this year, you will be helping us decide where we will be spending a glorious week vacation in February.
For the month of December, we will be highlighting many places to vacation. During this time, I hope you all will make comments and send pictures if you've been there before. At the end of the month, we will have our readers select where we should go on this imaginary trip by voting in a poll.
Here are a couple of things you need to know about us:
June is coming from an area of the country that's cold in the winter and so she always is looking for somewhere that's warm and sunny;
We love wine, frozen drinks and most alcoholic activities;
We love water and boating;
While my house is empty and I may be craving activity, June is very busy with two children's sports activities and school events so she craves silence and relaxation;
Bill likes to exercise on vacation, Scott like to read on vacation. June and me don't care what we're doing, just as long as we are doing it together.
Well, that's about it. This should be fun.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
I was supposed to schedule his flight using the free Southwest ticket we had, just in case he was not able to go at the last moment. I don't know what happened, but I accidentally (it really was an accident...cross my heart and hope to die) used the freebie for my ticket. Now, I am thinking that someone "upstairs" is trying to help me get the chance to spend a few more days visiting my sister. She's my BFF and I miss her terribly. And, I love her husband and children, too. Being 1000's of miles away is not my favorite part of my life.
My sister is thinking she might say something at the dinner like, "boy I sure could use Beth during this remodeling project going on at my house", (useful sister routine) or "it seems such a shame two sisters not being able to spend more time together" (guilt on the husbands) or finally going for the gusto, "the kids really miss their favorite Aunt" (guilt to the Uncle).
If I come home as scheduled it is easier on Bill as I take care of the house and especially, Wrigley. And he can be a handful.
That old saying comes to mind, "be careful what you ask for, you just might get it" for some reason. I am pulled in both directions. So, friends, lay on the advise. What would you do? This empty nest Mom cannot figure this one out.
Friday, October 10, 2008
The yellow house on the right is where my son and his roommates live. It's a really charming house with a very scary basement where the washer and dryer are housed. Right next door is the Obama headquarters. A diligent volunteer is entering on a beautiful Saturday morning. Jonathan and his buddies had a huge sign attached to their porch when we arrived on Friday night that said, "Ohio is for John McCain". As you can see by Saturday morning, it was stolen. Hmmm.
But, I don't think this lady volunteer took it (she's too short).
Saturday morning begins with the financial/budget talk. JB couldn't be more thrilled to hear our thoughts on how he should save his money and handle his loan. This is one of those cool college coffee bars that makes the best Snickers Iced Coffee drink ever.
Back at the house Nancy is busy frosting yummy cookies in the shape of an "M". Taylor watched and I think he was the official "taste tester", too.
The tailgate parties and the football game is always one of the highlights for most college's parents' weekends. We had a warm, sunny day so my turtleneck top needed to be replaced with a new Miami University t-shirt. The college bookstores make a killing on the parents!
We tailgated for hours with P.V.O. (who I've been calling Tivo since I met him last year) and our friends. The car was loaded up with Costco food and we ate and drank for hours.
Now, Miami no longer has star football players like Ben Roethlisberger and they really only had one quarter of good football. The band, however, was excellent. Still, it's not a good idea to listen to your son and friend laugh out loud as a flag girl drops her flag and then proceeds to be two beats behind the other girls.Did you know you cannot leave the car doors open and have the music playing for hours or else the battery dies?
Poor Taylor's in the dog house. Luckily, Joe Trucker Man comes to the rescue and Bill assists him and gets the car started!
Nancy offers our hero her famous "M" cookies and he leaves the party happy.
After a fantastic Italian dinner at Paesano's, we head home for some serious beer pong on the patio. (I thought it was just a bad ping pong table and had offered to go buy a decent net and paddles, which brought all the kids to their knees laughing). Here are the winners but I hear, "rematch at graduation", don't you? J.B.'s good friend, Sarah, and the most adorable Freshman girls joined us in the late night fun. They made me think about my Freshman daughter.
A perfect parent's weekend with our kids and I'm ready to head home to the empty nest for a little rest.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Since most of us no longer have much of a vacation budget, due to paying for school (or in my case, paying for the photographic supplies for class), it is a smart idea to add a day or two after the weekend, and stay someplace near the school. You've already paid for the gas or airline tickets, so in essence, it's just the extra hotel and food costs for this special vacation. You will get to know the area of the country that your child is also experiencing. But more important, you can leave your child with a big smiley face knowing that you get to spend a little down time with your significant other. I think it makes the transition a lot smoother.
Since I saw the movie 'Wedding Crashers', I have wanted to stay at the Inn where much of the show was filmed. It's called the Inn at Perry Cabin and is located in St. Michael's on the eastern shore of Maryland. I figure it's a 2 1/2 hour drive from the campus, just enough time to dry up my tears. The weather should be crisp and fall like, which sounds divine, coming from Arizona. This is my kind of cabin! They have a nice spa package that sounds interesting and other than walking around the grounds, eating and drinking, I have no other requirements for a relaxing mini-vacation.
Do you have plans for a post college parent's weekend vacation? If so, comment and share those ideas for other adventurous parents!
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Saturday, August 9, 2008
In my opinion, a mini vacation is far better than the "staycation" everyone is talking about this summer. Putting yourself in a completely different environment or climate allows you truly escape and rejuvenate.
In July, we drove over to Del Mar, California for a weekend. We stayed at L'Auberge Del Mar, which is nestled in the heart of town and one block from the glorious beach. It was misty and cool and 100% refreshing. We walked everywhere which was a nice change as well.
The goal for every summer is to do the full vacation with my sister and her family. We were not able to swing it this year, but we are going to see them after all when we take Laura for her Freshman orientation for college. Her college is two hours away from my sister's house (I swear we did not pick the school for that reason), but it sure is convenient (thank you, Laura!). My sister's husband is such a good sport about putting up with me when I come for these little mini-vacations. After Bill and me help Laura get settled in her dorm room, I get to spend 4.5 days with my sister and family. That's 108 hours (but who's counting)?
This mini-trip will probably be very emotional, exciting and rejuvenating all at the same time and I plan to make the most of every waking moment.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
This is one of my favorite pictures of my sister on vacation. It was taken a few years ago, in St. Lucia. You can see one of the Pitons in the background. We had taken a day trip into town and was returning to our remote hotel by boat. It was stormy and a little rainy and the ride was bumpy but fun.
Remember the good ol’ days when ‘the summer vacation period’ was defined as Memorial Day until Labor Day? Well, at least in my area of the country, summer vacation now consists of the months of June and July. Oh wait, take June away if you have children in sports or play an instrument and June is filled with tournaments, team obligations and competitions. August is also taken away due to the startups of these similar activities as well as the crazy, required school registrations a week or two before school begins. Just as the old rule of only wearing white shoes from Memorial Day to Labor Day has almost been abandoned, so has the true definition of summer.
This leaves glorious July for families to reunite, bond and try to relax together. You are screwed if you have important career responsibilities in this month. And you have to make vacation plans earlier and probably pay a premium for a rental in this prized month. Maybe you can extend the vacation period in the last week in June or the first week in August, if you’re clever. Personally, I think summer vacation is undervalued in this country and I think it stinks that we have such a shortened family-time together! We need a better balance between the summer and winter and all the experiences each provide. Poets have been writing about this balance for years. My favorite one is ‘Summer’ by Amy Lowell (see below, if you’re interested). For the past 16 years that I have children in school, I have ranted and complained to anyone within close vicinity to me about the lost glory days of summer. Now that all my children will be attending college or working what will I rant and complain about? (Don’t worry, I’ll think of something!) I trust this discussion and complaint will be addressed by some of the clever younger, Mommy bloggers out there in the future. Rant on, ladies!
Summer by Amy Lowell
Some men there are who find in nature all
Their inspiration, hers the sympathy
Which spurs them on to any great endeavor,
To them the fields and woods are closest friends,
And they hold dear communion with the hills;
The voice of waters soothes them with its fall,
And the great winds bring healing in their sound.
To them a city is a prison house
Where pent up human forces labour and strive,
Where beauty dwells not, driven forth by man;
But where in winter they must live until
Summer gives back the spaces of the hills.
To me it is not so. I love the earth
And all the gifts of her so lavish hand:
Sunshine and flowers, rivers and rushing winds,
Thick branches swaying in a winter storm,
And moonlight playing in a boat's wide wake;
But more than these, and much, ah, how much more,
I love the very human heart of man.
Above me spreads the hot, blue mid-day sky,
Far down the hillside lies the sleeping lake
Lazily reflecting back the sun,
And scarcely ruffled by the little breeze
Which wanders idly through the nodding ferns.
The blue crest of the distant mountain, tops
The green crest of the hill on which I sit;
And it is summer, glorious, deep-toned summer,
The very crown of nature's changing year
When all her surging life is at its full.
To me alone it is a time of pause,
A void and silent space between two worlds,
When inspiration lags, and feeling sleeps,
Gathering strength for efforts yet to come.
For life alone is creator of life,
And closest contact with the human world
Is like a lantern shining in the night
To light me to a knowledge of myself.
I love the vivid life of winter months
In constant intercourse with human minds,
When every new experience is gain
And on all sides we feel the great world's heart;
The pulse and throb of life which makes us men!