Reflections of Labor Day Weekend

 

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Colorful Reflections from Summer. Photo published by The Island Moon Newspaper who shared this lovely photo by Steven Pituch.

 

When I think of Labor Day weekend I think of…

-Last hoorah

-School in full swing

-Put away the white sandals

-September rains of South Texas

-Don Henley’s “Boys of Summer”

-Our beaches and waterways clear out and quiet down.

What does Labor Day weekend remind you of?

Note to self…Triple-Check your docs Weeks Before you Leave the Country!

 

Photo courtesy of: www.lakewood.org
Photo courtesy of: http://www.lakewood.org

Wow! Life has been busy for me here! I have not posted in awhile due to getting our family ready to go to the Philippines. My husband is from there, and we were planning to take a long trip there with the kids to visit family and see the sights. This was going to be the first time there for my children and myself.

Well, all of these earnest plans came to a screeching halt when I went to the airport to try to adjust our seat arrangement for the long flight. We had reserved seats 6A, 6B, 6C, 6D with Travelocity. My hubby checked with American Airlines and our seat said “unreserved” on their site. So the day before we were to depart, I went to the airport to try to see if I could get that taken care of.

I went to the ticket counter and had spoken to the representative. He was working on trying to at least get our seats with one parent and one child sitting together minimum. Then he asked if I had my passports.

I replied, “Oh, I left them at home. I did not realize that I needed them for a seat change.” However, I did remember that I took pictures of my passports and ID’s with my phone, and had them just for extra measure.

I whipped out my pics from my I-Phone. The representative replied, “Wow, you are really prepared.”

I explained, “I really try because I am traveling with my two young children. I have to try to remember everything…medicines, bug spray, plenty of sunblock…”

As he was punching buttons on his computer, I was recalling all of the things on my To Do list. I packed as lightly as possible for us and the kids; I had to make copies of our passports and ID’s; I had dig out of savings and pre-pay our bills for a month; I had to get arrangements for the dogs and cat to get fed and exercised; I had to call the car insurance and get our cars put on “storage rate.” I had to make arrangements for my elderly mother….on and on…

Next, he looked over his glasses at me and stated, “Ma’am this passport is expired.”

Expired?

Expired??

Expired???

My mind was racing; my heart was pounding. “How could that be? I had checked everything!

Or so I thought.

My son’s passport was still good for 3 more months, and my daughter’s expired. How could that be? We got them done on the same day.

Panicked, I begged the poor man behind the counter and implored, “What can I do?” He directed me to the main post office in town.

Hurriedly, I drove to that post office.  While there, they informed me that I had to go to Houston (which is 4 hours away) with my husband, child, and plenty of checks  to try to get an expedited passport. However, since it was 3:00 pm on a Friday, I would have to wait in line behind those with appointments on Monday. If I was lucky, I might get the passport on Monday, but maybe not.

Then I called Travelocity…

They could not do anything without charging $300 per ticket penalty plus the difference in price from when I bought the tickets to what they are worth now. They referred me to call American Airlines (our main carrier). After a long time, and finally getting to a supervisor, the bottom line was that sure they could adjust the dates, but it would cost almost as much to do the date adjustment as the initial price of the tickets. So in the end, I would pay almost double.

Yikes!

Then I had to see how much it cost to cancel and refund the whole trip. Yep, I was out about $1000 for that move. (Note: I can only travel during the summertime for longer periods of time since I have 2 kids in school, and I am a teacher.)

So, tearfully, I will try again for next year.

WoooHooo! Chocolate for Sun Protection!

I’m going to try this!!

Beach Treasures and Treasure Beaches

Just in case you missed it, there’s even more good news for beachcombers!

First wine, and now chocolate for sun protection… It keeps getting better and better.

As if we needed another reason to eat chocolate: German researchers have shown that ingesting types rich in cocoa solids and flavonoids—dark chocolate—can fight skin cancer! Their findings are only preliminary because they come from a trial of just 24 women who were recruited to add cocoa to their breakfasts every day for about 3 months. (Why, oh why, wasn’t I one of them?)

…Moreover, after 12 weeks of consuming the flavanol-rich cocoa, the women’s skin was 16 percent denser, 11 percent thicker, 13 percent moister, 30 percent less rough, and 42 percent less scaly than it was at the beginning of the experiment. Although the mechanism for most of these benefits remains unclear, the Düsseldorf researchers suspect that improved blood flow was…

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Why Limit Your Romantic Options to Valentine’s Day?

romance
Photo courtesy of tex.org

Valentine’s Day: This is a day we try to show our loved ones that we care. This is a day we send roses, cards, and candy to the ones we adore. This is a day we seek out romantic places to go to enjoy each other’s company.

But why limit yourself to just one day?

I have to admit we did buy cards and flowers to show love to each other, but we decided that we would barbeque outside and enjoy our time together. We figured that all of the restaurants would be packed with at least an hour long waiting list.

How romantic is that?

We figured we would just go out maybe the next night or just go strolling down at the beach and enjoy each other’s company. We would actually talk and spend time together among the sounds of the roar of the ocean and the laughing of gulls. Heck, there are almost no people there this time of year anyway…

What an idea!

Hey, for what its worth, we probably saved money as well as time. Most of all, we spent quality time together in a romantic place with nice view.

Places to Go,”Sea”, and Do: North Padre Island:Packery Channel

This is part of a series of places to Go, “Sea”, and Do around the Coastal Bend. I will add posts to this series each week. The first main part of the series will be about North Padre Island.

My state of Texas is growing.  I am continually meeting new people in various places who are new to here or visiting here. I often run into people who have questions about where to go when visiting Corpus Christi and the Coastal Bend. I am originally from Houston, but have lived South Texas since 1991.I have lived here as a resident but have been here as a tourist before I moved here.  This series will highlight a few of my favorite places in and around our little bend in the coast.

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Sunrise on the Gulf of Mexico Photo courtesy of Extremecoast.com
Sunrise on the Gulf of Mexico
Photo courtesy of Extremecoast.com

North Padre Island

First, let me clarify some confusion. I don’t know how many people get North Padre Island mixed up with South Padre Island. They are two different places, and you cannot get to South Padre Island from North Padre Island on “South Padre Island Drive” (the freeway that runs through Corpus Christi) to get to South Padre Island.  South Padre Island is another 2 hours away. The islands are two separate places. I still scratch my head on why they named the freeway that runs through Corpus “South Padre Island Drive.” Anyway, here is one of my favorite places on North Padre Island:

1. Padre Island National Seashore

2. Bob Hall Pier at Padre Balli Park

3. Packery Channel:

Packey Channel at sunset
Packey Channel at sunset

Packey Channel is a natural inlet that has been reinforced by man-made structures that allows the waters from the Gulf flow into the Laguna Madre. This makes for easy access for boats to enter the Gulf of Mexico.

Also because of this exchange of waters between the Gulf and Laguna, this is another popular fishing spot with locals since bait fish can be found everywhere.  Again, it is wise to wear good shoes because of random fishhooks that may be around.

If you did not bring your pole, this area is a great place to watch sea turtles swimming in the channel or observe the many varieties of fish or birds.

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This bird didn’t seem to mind me taking his picture.
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Brown pellican at Packery Channel

On a clear water day, we have brought out the snorkels and masks to view the sea-life by the rocks by the north side of the jetty next the beach. This same spot has become popular with surfers since the jetty was built. After the jetty was built a few years back, the beach on the north side has become crescent-shaped and the waves form better.

From South Packery Channel jetty, we were watching the surfers and dolphins play in the rolling waves
From South Packery Channel jetty, we were watching the surfers and dolphins play in the rolling waves

You can access this area on the north side by going toward Port Aransas on SH 361, go over the Packery Channel Bridge, and exiting right on Zahn Road. Or you can still go to the south side from past the seawall on Padre Island.  From Padre Island, you will stay on Park Road 22, go South toward the National Seashore, turn left onto Whitecap. You will follow the road to almost the beach. You will turn left on Leeward Drive toward the Holiday Inn and continue all of the way down past the seawall until you are driving down a little road leading to the beach. However, there is talk about closing that part of the beach to drivers, so drivers would have to park at the parking lot on the right on the seawall. Speaking of the seawall… Well, that will be next time.

On South Packery jetty, fishermen were busy catching fish.
On South Packery jetty, fishermen were busy catching fish.

It is the SS.M.A.L.L. Things that Count

One of many fishing piers in Fulton.Yucko. I really do not care for New Year’s Resolutions. The gym will be full from now all the way to February with all these new people vowing to lose 20 lbs. in a week. Once mid-February is here, the gym will empty out again, and those poor souls are wondering what happened to their plans.

However, I believe that it is the small things that count. You know, as they say, “how do you eat an elephant?” One bite at a time. (Maybe that is not such  a good New Year’s resolution!)

1. Make a few small changes in your exercise routine or eating, or just add in some walking.

Exercise is great for not just the body, but for the soul. You don’t have to be a “gym rat” to reap the benefits of moving the body several times per week.  You don’t have to focus on losing 20 lbs, but just a few changes such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Or maybe just drinking water instead of soda.

2. Spend Smaller: Try to spend less on stupid stuff you don’t remember, and more on time and experiences with those you actually care about  and will remember forever.

Okay, I may love a purse, a dress or a car that I can’t live without. However, I would rather save that extra money now to go on a great vacation with the family a little later. I  may look not so fashionable, but at least our time together will be more memorable to the kids.

3. Listen Smaller: Start listening to your gut.

You know the nagging feeling if you are doing the wrong thing. Listen,  and do what is right. I have ignored it or  second-guessed gut feelings, and they have turned out to be what I should have done. I am old enough now, and I now realize that listening to the little voice is the way to go.

4. Show a Small appreciation to someone, “just because.”

This can be a tough one since  we are “so busy”. I just need to take a minute to remember to say something to someone or give a hug. Maybe, it can be a card or just asking someone about their day.

5 . Start your morning with a Small amount of  “me” time.

Before crazy day begins, try to get up a few minutes early with a little “me time”. Go for a walk or a jog, read something inspirational, but try to avoid answering emails or getting work done ahead of time.  This may be the only time for yourself you have. Maybe this is the time you feed a passion that needs nourishment.

6. Before bed, in addition to prayers, remember a Small amount about what you are grateful for.

Gratitude conditions your mind for better attitude.  To be grateful for what you have gives a total positive outlook for the day that has gone by and a better outlook for the day to come.

So, instead of making grandiose plans for this year. Just think SS.M.A.L.L! Small Smart Moves Are Long Lasting.

Didn’t We Just Ring in 2013?

Photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/_arls/10062122724/
Photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/_arls/10062122724/

Wow…life is becoming a big fast-forward blur. You know, I thought that time speeding up was just a phenomenon that happened to older people. When I was a kid, an hour was at least two days. Well, Christmas was at least a lifetime away!

Now, at the youthful age of 46, time is speeding up for me. Didn’t we just celebrate Christmas 2012? or was it 2013? Whew!

My theory was the following at one time:

As a kid, you have lived out just a small fraction of your life. For instance, if you are just 5 years old, an hour was a “couple of days” since your existence is merely just a few thousand hours anyway. There are approximately 8765.81 hours in a year. Multiply that by 5 and you get 43,829.1 hours. So at age 5, you have lived out 20% of your existence. As you gain years of experience, you have a bigger measuring stick in which to compare your life experience. Now, at 46, I have lived approximately 403,227.26 hours, or one year is only 2.2% of my entire life. Each year represents a shorter portion of my entire span of  life.

However, even my 9 year old (11% of her existence) daughter recalls, “Wow, this year went by fast!” Why is that?

Is it 1) Is the Earth spinning at a faster rate while orbiting the sun with an increasing speed?

Or 2) Or we just going ’round and ’round just spinning our wheels— faster and faster?

Let me propose another idea; it is closer to 2):

Once upon a time we humans relied on snail mail and things such as reference books in the library.  I remembered when microfiche was the latest in storage of information. I remembered when we used the stove or oven to heat up food.

Now, I just tweet, pin, search or email—not to mention whatever else. Now, sometimes I wonder why the microwave oven takes too long to heat up my old coffee from this morning…

Also, my life is busier. I am a mom, a wife, a teacher, a home economist, an avid exerciser, chief cook and bottle washer, a blogger, and on and on… all at the same time!

Also, now I tend to try to use my corpus callosum to multitask through the day. “In women, the corpus callosum is wider than that of men’s brains, which might enable the two sides to communicate better with each other. This is a theory as to why women might multitask more efficiently” (http://clearinghouse.missouriwestern.edu).   Right now, I am watching a  movie, heating up breakfast, enjoying my coffee and writing this at the same time.  (Not to mention how many tabs are open on my web browser. Good thing my computer can multi-task!)

However, I truly think engaging in this behavior fractures my thinking therefore giving me ADD, so I drink more coffee to focus my mind???

Round and round and round we go. Maybe my life is just spiraling around faster and faster? And am I accomplishing less and less? Who knows.

That is why I seem to have a need to go outside often and enjoy life with my kids and to savor all of life’s gifts even though I might be washing clothes and working out at the same time. Good grief…slow down woman!

Breathe in, breathe out. Breathe in, breathe out.

Okay, time to take a breather, take a beach walk, and lay off the coffee.

Daddy and me