Our First Weekend Away in Two and a Half Years

We ran out the door kissed the kids, thanked Mom and Dad, and we left. We grabbed two-for-the-price-of-one Arby’s combo meals (thanks to Mom’s handy coupons) before heading to the hotel. The hotel, by the way, was a complete surprise to Papa Bear. I picked it because of the onsite bar equipped with pool tables and air hockey for him.

A pool for me.

And a gym for us.

 (Above photos courtesy of Doubletree Colorado Springs)

I forgot to take any photos before we completely trashed the room. So, I waited to snag a few before we headed home. Yes, I do always leave a hotel room stripped and cleaned. I’ve cleaned up after others enough times to know what a grueling job it can be.

It was a beautiful and sunny room. We absolutely loved it!
We checked in to hot cider and warm chocolate chip cookies (and we may or may not have gone back to the front desk repeatedly throughout our stay). When we arrived in our room we sat down to plan, to some extent, our next forty-eight hours. We both wanted to see the new Harry Potter (which has been a tradition for us for awhile), so we were happy to see a big theater across the street….and a Chili’s.
For months now, I’ve been planning for a clothes shopping trip, and the plan had been to accomplish that on our weekend together. But, you know, life happened, and there just wasn’t the money for shopping. We did need to head to a Goodwill, though, to look for a swimsuit for Papa Bear. While we were there, I applied my thrift store knowledge*, and I left with four great tops for twenty dollars (which is really more than I needed for the winter).
*Always look for vibrant colors. Because thrift store clothes have been worn and washed repeatedly, you can spot a well-made item more easily than you can in a department store. 

After the shopping, we headed out to dinner and a movie (both were great). Then we returned to our hotel for drinks (and free cookies and popcorn) and pool. I didn’t win one single game. But I did get better throughout the night! Apparently, the only picture I have from our first night is of Papa Bear stuffing a Chili’s fajita into his mouth. Oh, the plans I had for pictures. Oh, well. Just know that we had fun.
Day two: we slept past breakfast (which is good for saving money). Actually, we woke up ridiculously (and annoyingly) early. But we were too lazy to worry about food until lunch time. We dressed, grabbed a coupon and headed out to lunch just before eleven. Deciding it was a little too early for the restaurant, though, we cruised a nearby mall and fell hopelessly in love with every single puppy at the pet store (I don’t know why we do that). Next, after roaming Boarder’s for thirty minutes, we decided it was finally time to eat. However, the only coupon we grabbed was for a restaurant that had recently gone out of business (I knew it was a really good deal)! In desperation, we pulled into the first shopping center with a sign for sushi. It wasn’t our usual spot, but it was pretty good; we left happy.
The rest of our trip was spent at the hotel.
We swam and worked out and watched movies and snacked and, ummm. Oh, and we ordered a pizza so we wouldn’t have to leave the room for dinner (less expensive than room service). It was the first pizza we’ve ordered in at least three years…probably since we moved back to the mountains. It wasn’t as good as mine, but it was better because I didn’t have to make it.

We can’t wait to go back! We loved the hotel so much that we’ve set a goal to stay there twice a year. Actually, our only complaint from the whole weekend is with Burger King who refused to redeem our “Buy one Croissanwich, get another Croissanwich of equal or lesser value for FREE” coupon for two of the double Croissanwiches instead of the single. I’m seriously holding a grudge about that, Burger King.

I feel like I should thank everyone for this weekend. I was so low last week and things are still very hard in many ways. But thank you, so much, for prayerfully supporting my family. I know we wouldn’t be here without prayer. And, obviously, thank you so much to those of you who actually paid our way last weekend! We are extremely grateful for you!

Also, thank you to the fabulous and friendly folks at Doubletree Colorado Springs. Look for us in about six months.

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I Know What You All Want to Hear About

And it’s not really Thanksgiving. We did have a great Thanksgiving, though. We stuffed ourselves to the gills at Grandmama Bear’s* house. We had sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes and stuffing and rolls and green bean casserole and cranberry sauce and pretty much the best turkey I’ve ever had in my life.

*Papa Bear’s mom. I seriously crack myself up.

Now that we’ve had this delicious turkey, I can admit that I was more than a little worried about it. I’m a turkey snob, or so I thought, and I always, always put my turkey in around one in the morning and let it cook all night at 275 degrees. I make a mean turkey. So, when I saw that the stove read 500 degrees and I knew the turkey hadn’t gone in until sometime around six in the morning….Let’s just say I was preparing myself for (lots and lots of) gravy. Not so, though. Actually, it was so good and so moist that I might just change my Thanksgiving routine.

After the meal, we sat around the table and let the tryptophan and red wine do its thing. Thanks for hamming up the sleepiness, Mark. This picture will make me laugh for years to come.

Actually, I didn’t sit there for very long because the kids hadn’t had wine and, as it turns out, weren’t very interested in the tryptophan, either. It’s hard to focus on food, I guess, when you’d really rather play with your cousins.

Papa Bear didn’t sit there long, either. He had a paper to finish if he wasn’t going to be a slave to the computer during our romantic weekend*. All in all, though, there was time for visiting and eating and picture taking. And I think that qualifies as a very successful Thanksgiving.

*Which would cause a series of events that would culminate with him lying dead on the hotel room floor and me being carted off in handcuffs. 

I really was planning on making this a two parter post, but my favorite t.v. show is coming on right now (any guesses??). I’ll just have to let you know about our weekend in the morning.

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Get off Those Pins and Needles

I know, I know. It’s not like me to go so long without posting. I know I’ve worried you, and that really wasn’t my intention. I was worried. And, I didn’t know what to say. So, I said nothing.

The simple truth is that there has been a recent love loss in my marriage. And the painful truth is that Papa Bear is not the only one who has felt it (although I was riding it out). Hurt people, hurt people. And that is who we’ve both been, to some extent, over these past few months. The reasons why are multiple and minuscule. But when lumped together they look grey….and they smell.

I’ve planned a romantic getaway for us this weekend. Nope, we still can’t afford it. I’ve even borrowed (gasp) to make it work. But we’re going to spend two nights in hotel eating out and swimming and doing whatever else we can find to do sans kids. I’m super, super excited! I’m going to take my camera, but I’ll leave my laptop behind (so don’t expect any mid-date updates!).

Speaking of money (that was my segue, in case you missed it), I have what I consider to be a very important blog question for you all. For awhile now, I’ve been losing blog traffic to Feedburner (really any “reader” i.e. Google, Yahoo, Blogger.com). I will always include a Feedburner subscription option because, let’s face it, that’s how a large majority of you remember me. But, I’m trying to decide how to allow you the convenience of reading my blog in your e-mail, or feed reader, without my losing a couple hundred dollars a month. And, no, this blog isn’t about making money. I would blog the same way with or without ads. It does seem like a waste, though, for the potential to be there and not be met. Papa Bear is now working for a new employer (detailed post to come). But I’d like to do my part (especially where it involves simply not throwing away earned income).

So, here’s my question. And thank you, Renee, for the idea. The Feedburner issue could be solved with a simple “Continue reading….” link that would be printed after the first few sentences of each post (you would click if the first few lines made you want to read more). But, as a blog reader, I know that we all hate having to click away. So, what do you think? How much would you hate that act of clicking? Would you leave my blog altogether (be honest)? Would you feel resentful of the waste of your time (and limited clicking energy)?

I won’t switch to this option unless a clear majority of you are more than just OK with it. This blog wouldn’t make a dime (which it barely does) for my family if it weren’t for the fact that you read. Just think about it and let me know!

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Kidterview Tuesday – Merry Christmas!

As of last year, we no longer do Christmas. And by that I simply mean that we don’t buy our children, or each other, Christmas presents (although we are considering small stocking stuffers for the kids this year). We make a few things to give to close friends and family, we draw a name for the big family gift exchange and we give to our favorite charities….as much as our pockets can stand.

When I announced my vision for Christmas last year, I thought Papa Bear was going to flip a lid. Instead, he jumped right on board. We both love to give, and we were a little afraid that we’d miss that Christmassy feeling, though. What we found was that giving to those who would never thank us actually filled us with a deeper joy. And it’s an easy bet that our nieces and nephews didn’t miss their dollar store breakables.

The grown ups are living happily without their neck ties and sweaters, too.

I’m not writing about our plans in hopes that you’ll all do the same (or that you’ll feel any guilt if you choose to completely fill your living room with presents!). But, I know that some of you are pretty stressed this year wondering how on earth you’re going to buy everything that everyone wants. I guess I’d just like to give you permission to forgettaboutit. Cause the sun will go on rising and setting, whether Barbie gets her dream house or not.

A few night ago, at bedtime, I asked the kiddos what they were grateful for. For whatever reason, they all chimed together with, “Christmas!” And my heart skipped a beat or two. “What do you love about Christmas?” I asked with a little trepidation.

And, well, here’s a repeat of what they said.

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The View

This is the view from my back yard. Or, it was the view several hours ago. The snow is deeper now. As I stood outside, in my bare feet, snapping this photo for the sake of complaining, the kids all danced merrily around me. Snow, to them, means Christmas.

Tune in tomorrow to find out what Christmas means.

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Freedom of Speech…..But I’ll Try Not to Blather

Since Wednesday’s now famous Amazon boycott, there has been a great deal of Twitter and Facebook chatter about free speech. It’s a beloved right, it seems, the right to express oneself, talk, run ones mouth, blather on endlessly about any and every topic I choose

I love my right to free speech; that’s why, as an expression of said right, I regularly scream, “Bomb!! High jacker!!!” upon entering a crowded airport. Oh, wait, I don’t do that. That would be exercising my right at the expense of your safety.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Government and religion are both specifically mentioned in regard to the necessity of free speech in a free land. That makes sense, I think, because our founding fathers were very intentional that we would never be arrested or penalized for speaking out against an administration or for worshiping whomever we chose.

There are, obviously, limitations on these rights, though. There are, for example, religions whose practices are not allowed on U.S. soil because they interfere with the life and liberty of others (they break laws). And even though our government allows for criticism of the President, I would be the first to boycott a book detailing how-to harm him in any way.

The more even-tempered crowd chose to stay out of the boycott on Wednesday (citing both the impossibility of boycotting everything evil and “free speech”). I, and many others, chose to exercise our cherished right with what I hold was a very appropriate boycott of the illegal being given the same rights as the legal*.

*The book in question was not an informative book about the beliefs of a ped—ile. It was a ped——- how-to.

I believe that it is not the government but the people who decide what sort of society we are. The right to speak, the right to blog, the right to boycott, the right to petition, those are rights I hold near and dear to my heart. Even still, free speech is a right that must be exercised with wisdom.

The downside of Wednesday’s boycott is that it gave light (albeit lime) to something that didn’t deserve the time of day. It would have taken a long time for the infamous handbook to garner as many sales as it racked as a result of the Twitter frenzy, that’s true. Keeping quiet, though, would have been silent approval of something altogether reprehensible….a normalizing of something that should never be seen as normal. If you’ve spent any time reading the comments under the older pedophilia titles (yes, there are still more), you are in no doubt that these books are not only illegal, but are indeed very dangerous to our children.

The idea that I would boycott something simply because I disagree with it is laughable, I think. And maybe I shouldn’t even seek to defend against that here. In case you are confused, though, I am well aware of many books that, in a perfect world, I’d love to have never been written. As a Christian, quite frankly, I see no need for any religion (or religious expression) besides Christianity. Despite my personal conviction, though, freedom of religion is something I am extremely passionate about. I will defend your right to practice your religion, because freedom of choice is not just an American idea, it’s God’s.

Standing for censorship in literature (regardless of the circumstances) is not something I ever thought I’d be doing. But I ask only that we use our common, and collective, sense in these matters….and that we allow our beloved Constitution to breathe. After all, we do have a choice in the matter. We can either be a people who are ruled by the letter of the law or are guided by the spirit and intent behind it.

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