Friday, May 26, 2006

Florida - Day 4

The 4th day is the day we left. I woke up at 6am before my alarm even went off. Breakfast was being served from 7 - 8 or something like that, but like I said before, I'm not a breakfast person so I didn't want to go. I did however want a coffee. I put on some clothes, my new Lenovo hat, and some sunglasses and went to the cafe. I got my coffee and went back to my room. We had to check out by 11am, so I started gathering and packing my things. I also got out my laptop and logged into my work email to stay caught up. Robert called while I was getting my coffee and left me a message. I returned his call and told him I was not going to breakfast, that I had already gotten a coffee and I was packing. He had already packed his stuff the night before, so he was ready to go.

I took a shower and got dressed, trying to pack as I finished using something. I was taking my time because I had plenty of it. I talked to my boss for a little while on Instant Messenger before shutting down my computer and packing it, too. It was still relatively early - 9am, so I read for a little while before leaving my room. Robert called and was ready to get all of his things out of his room and go to the main hotel and walk around. Our bus to the airport did not leave until 12:45, so I was not in a hurry to leave - we had plenty of time to walk around after checkout time! I told him he could bring his stuff and come to my room if he wanted to, while I finished up. But since my room was in the opposite direction, he did not want to bring all of his luggage with him to my room and then have to take it all the way back to the lobby. So he went on down to the lobby to check his bags with the bell hop while we waited. He called and said we could go ahead and get our boarding passes and our luggage checked right at the hotel, so he was doing that. After the fiasco of getting my luggage on the first day, I was hesitant to trust them with it again. But Robert thought it would be fine, so I decided to do it, too.

When I came to Orlando, I had 2 bags - my suitcase with my clothes that I checked at the airport, and my laptop bag that I carried onto the airplane. Now that I am leaving, I have 4 bags. Two that were given to us by Lenovo in addition to the ones I brought with me - both of the new ones were full, also. The laptop case they gave us was full with all of the freebies we were given. The other was a canvas beach-bag type that I had put the souvenirs I had bought. So not having to worry about carrying them through the airport to check was sounding rather good. If they got lost, I had clothes at home to wear! :)

So I proceeded to the lobby with all of my bags in tow. I went to the desk to check out because they did not have video check out, so I wanted to make sure nothing else was needed by me. I checked my two carry-on bags with the bell hop guys, and proceeded outside to where the airline check-in is located. Robert was sitting off to the side of the counter, and there was a line, so I took my place in line and waited. Apparently Robert was having problems. When they tried to print his baggage labels, the did not print. When they tried to re-process, they received an error that the passenger was over his limit of bags to check. We were only allowed to check 2 bags, and the computer thought he was trying to check 4. So, after talking to the airline, the people at the counter told him he would have to check his bags at the airport.

Not promising, but I went ahead and did it anyway. I did not have any problems with mine. :) With our luggage out of the way, we decided to walk around and shop in the shops, take pictures that we had not taken previously, and just hang out. It was a beautiful, sunny day, so after we were finished with everything else, we sat outside on a bench near the bus stop. It was around noon, so we had a while. Another bus came to the stop and they asked if we were supposed to be on it. After telling them that our bus was supposed to be the 12:45 one, they said if the bus driver was OK with it, we could go ahead on this one. Since we were not sure how long it would take to fix his luggage issue, we went for it.

We arrived at the airport and had to walk FOREVER to the baggage check. It was packed! I'm glad I didn't have to deal with it, but since Robert did, I found a bench nearby and waited. It wasn't too bad, about 10 minutes or so, and we were off to find our gate. The security check line was a lot longer here than in Dayton, but it didn't take too long. Put everything in a bin, take off your shoes and any coats you have, remove any computers or video cameras from their cases, put them on the conveyor belt thing, and walk through. No problem.

We found our gate and took our seats. I decided to go and get something for lunch and left my stuff with Robert. Burger King was the most appealing at the time, so I went there to get some food. It was like a cafeterial line - they put sandwiches in a warmer and you choose what you want, put it on a try and move forward to the cashier. Condiments are on a little island so you can take what you want, except for ketchup. What is it with the rationing of ketchup?? I had to go back and wait in line to receive 2 small packages of ketchup from the cashier.

When walking back to the gate, I looked around at all the people. There was one couple sleeping - the woman laying on the bench and the man lying on the floor beneath the bench. Both appeared to be sleeping rather well. I don't think I could sleep like that, in a public place, but if they were able to, more power to them.

Our plane was scheduled to fly out at 3:10PM. We did not have seats anywhere near each other this time, and the plane was full. I spent the flight time reading and we were home in no time. I gathered my bags and walked down the rolling stairs to wait for Robert (he was further back than I was) and we headed for the baggage claim area. After we passed the security check point, Roberts daughter came running for him, so happy to see him. I had told Jeff that he could be late and that way I would be sure to have my luggage already and he wouldn't have to park.

I got my luggage, said good-bye to Robert and his family, and went outside to sit on a bench. I called Jeff to see if they were anywhere near, but did not get through. Allie called me back and told me they were near West Carrolton, so I knew it would be a little while. It was a nice day, so I didn't mind sitting outside waiting. :) Besides, I still had some of my book left to read!

Perfect timing, I finished the last sentence in the book and looked up to see my car coming towards me. Conor was sitting in the back seat and his eyes got really wide when he saw me. At least someone missed me!! I started getting my bags and putting them in the trunk, Jeff got out and helped me, and the girls got out to switch seats, so Conor was left buckled into his car seat. I opened the back door and let him out and he just hugged me so tight. He kept telling me "I love you, mommy!"

I was definitely glad to be home! It was fun, and a little busy, and I just wanted to go home and relax. Yeah, right. Relax. I don't know what that is anymore! :) We ended up stopping to get something to eat because everyone was hungry and I didn't want to cook! I had Jeff drop me off at home before taking Ceara to her mom's house, so I got home at 8:30 and had a little bit of quiet time to unpack and start some laundry. But I was happy to be home! :)

Friday, May 19, 2006

Florida - Day 3

I got up today with no problems, I actually woke up at 6AM - well before my alarm clock went off. I piddled around a little bit because I was still a little bit asleep, but I eventually got in the shower. I heard my phone ringing and knew it was Robert, but obviously I couldn’t answer it. I called him back when I got out to let him know that I was way ahead of him.

This is on Tuesday – this is the day that we have only a couple of hours in a meeting then we were going to Epcot! :) We made it to breakfast in plenty of time – bacon, eggs, sausage, hash browns, biscuits, gravy, donuts, muffins, coffee cake, 3 juices, and coffee. I do like all of these things, but I really am not much of a breakfast person. I got a little bit of food on my plate and headed towards a seat. Robert piled his plate high and followed. I ate some of the food, but really just wanted coffee. The coffee they had was not as good as the one I had found in the cafĂ© the day before, so I opted to go back there and get another one of those. Robert told me that I’m spoiled. Yeah, whatever. :) Just when it comes to my coffee.

I returned in time for the meeting, located Robert and took my seat. The opening for this meeting was 4 small Chinese boys doing acrobatic stunts with the help of some barrel type things that looked like over-sized round cheese graters. They were great! I do not really know how to describe what they did without it sounding really, ummmm, bad. I will attempt to do so….. They could sit on these “barrels” and fold their bodies so that they went all the way down in them – with their feet and heads sticking out of the top. They would then rock the barrel so that they tipped forward and could get out. They formed a pyramid with 3 of them, then the one on the top would bend over and put the barrel on his bottom… and the 4th one would do some flips on the ground and spring up to land with his bottom in the other side of the barrel. They all did all sorts of acrobatic flips and stunts, and it was great! They looked to be around maybe 8 years old.

After their show it got BORING. I was finding it difficult to stay awake. One of the presenters found it necessary to share with us the same slide show that was shown to the managers the day before – the techs hadn’t seen it, but they were finding it quite boring, too. The 1 ½ hours that we had to sit there were longer than any other time. We were finally free to go at 10AM. This was the day that everyone could do whatever they had chosen – Disney World, MGM Studios, Epcot, Animal Kingdom or Golf. We had chosen Epcot. It had begun to rain, but we still wanted to go. Robert wasn’t feeling quite up to it at that time, so he wanted to go to his room and take a nap. I told him to call me when he was ready and I went to my room and did some work, then read while I waited. I finally called him at noon and asked him if he still wanted to go. So he got ready and we were off.

We rode the mono-rail and arrived at Epcot. We rode the ride in the big silver ball first. I forget the name of it… it was interesting. After that one, we went to ride a space shuttle simulation-type ride. It was, of course, still raining. Robert was very excited about the space ship ride, but I was very skeptical. It said “if you get motion sickness, or you do not like spinning, you shouldn’t ride this ride.” OK, I do not like spinning at all (I’m getting old and it isn’t fun anymore!), but I only get motion sickness if I am trying to read while riding. So I went ahead and rode it. I must say it was an experience. Not the worst, not the best. I’m glad I know what it is like, but I am not likely to ride it again.

Those were the only 2 rides we had time to ride. We had to be back at the hotel for dinner (which was at 7PM) and closing ceremonies. We spent the rest of our time walking around to the different countries. I absolutely loved it. I loved seeing the various creations made by the different cultures, and the atmosphere and music was wonderful! :)

We ate lunch in France, watched a band performing in Morocco (called Mo Rockin), and were entertained by a Mime in Italy. We walked through almost every store in quite a few of the countries. We were not able to visit them all because we had to leave to get back for dinner. Of course I got yelled at a lot for “wandering off” while we were browsing – I think Robert has some sort of fear of being left behind. He kept threatening to buy a leash and put me on it so that he wouldn’t lose me. For goodness sake, we both had our cell phones and could call each other if we were to lose each other, but that didn’t sooth his worry, apparently. I would walk outside a shop I was done in before he was done looking and he would yell “Katie! Where are you going?” Ummmm… just right out here Robert, I will wait for you… I told him at one point that we were both adults and would both be fully capable of finding our way back to the hotel on our own if we were unable to find each other! Dang! Lol

I got Conor a small drum in Morocco – he likes to pretend he is playing the drums a lot on stuff, so I felt he would enjoy it. I also got various samples of chocolate from different countries. Germany, France, Italy… to name a few. For the girls I got little mini – drum things… like they used in Karate Kid. There are 2 beads attached by a string to each side of the drum (which is on a stick) and you twist it to make it play a beat.

It rained on and off the entire day and we were both pretty damp. It didn’t really bother me, I’m not the type to get upset over rain – I don’t care if my hair gets messed up or anything like that – at least not usually. Now, if I were all dressed up to go somewhere and wanted to look nice, I would care a bit more.

We were late arriving back at the hotel – we did not get there until 6:50PM – because the mono-rail made a lot more stops on the way back. So I did not have a whole lot of time to get ready. Robert wanted to just go on down, so I told him to go ahead because it would take me a little while. He really didn’t want to go by himself, he asked how long and offered to wait… but I wouldn’t give him a specific time and told him it could be a while so he would just go. He called my cell phone to let me know where he was sitting and that he would save me a seat. It did not take me too long, actually. I straightened my hair out and re-did my makeup. I had to iron my pants, too, and I was done and there by 7:40. Not bad. 10 minutes of that is how long it took to walk from my room to the convention center.

The last diner consisted of salad, Lobster, steak, grilled chicken, muscles, red-potatoes, beans, corn on the cob, and dinner rolls. It was served buffet style, all-you-can-eat. They said the record for the most Lobsters eaten had been set last year – 16 of em. Robert only could eat 3. There was, once again, an open bar, too. They did a few prize drawings and then they had 2 guys with pianos on-stage performing. They were great! Not only did they play music and sing, but they did comedy routines, too. It was hilarious. They eventually asked for the members of the Security Advisory Committee to come up on stage (our VP is one of the members). When they all were up there, the piano guys said that they were instructed to embarrass them the best way they could. So, one of them instructed them on how to dance while the other played the Piano and sang. The song and dance? The YMCA. It was absolutely hilarious! They would stop the music in the middle of the chorus to point out that some of them did not know how to spell – that YMCA was not YMAC or ACMY – and there was no e or I in there! Oh, it was great! And the best part – we have pictures…. Really good pictures…. The VP has stated that he knows who to come after should those pictures ever get sent out to the entire company, or to our company newsletter…

The evening actually ended at 10PM, as scheduled. I was invited to a party at the Jacuzzi by one of the other service managers, but I was not up for it. I said maybe and went back to my room. I did consider it for a little while, but in the end I chose to just read in bed for a while. It is not very often that I am able to read anymore, and I have a Jacuzzi tub at home… so, kinda an easy decision for me. I did intend to walk out there to say good-bye to all the new people I had met, but I didn’t make it. I was asleep before midnight. Yep, just a party animal…

The forth and final day will be short and sweet, but it will also be on another post… this one is too long, anyway!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Florida - Day 2

I woke up to the phone ringing - it was Robert wondering if I was ready for breakfast. Ummmm, no... you just woke me up. Apparently I slept right through my alarm clock. It was 7:10 and our meeting started at 8, so I knew I could make that. I told Robert to go on to breakfast without me and that I would see him at the meeting. Oh, well, I'm not much of a breakfast person anyway - I just need my coffee and I am fine. I got into the shower and got ready in no time. I walked to the hotel coffee shop, hoping to find something that would be comparable to my usual coffee back home. I ordered the special from the sign - it looked and sounded good - then I went to the conference center to get to the meeting. I got there before it started, found Robert in the huge crowd, and took my seat beside him.

I had no idea what to expect, but the theme of the meeting was the Olympics. Lenovo was a huge sponsor of the Olympics and had chosen that for the theme. The lights dimmed and all these people in togas made their way up the center isle. They all took their places on stage around the pillars and 2 men in spandex white shorts came out on stage and faced each other. Talk about muscular. Oh my.... I don't think I could begin to describe how ripped these 2 are - huge muscles!! The 2 men began a routine of complicated stunts, some things I did not think were possible. They took hold of each others arms, one's right arm locked onto the others right arm by holding onto each other's forearms - close to their elbows, and one of them laid down on the stage. He locked his arm that was holding the other guys arm and the 2nd guy balanced and paralleled his body - suspended in air by their single arms connected. The guy on the floor then proceeded to stand up while holding ... (ok, "the guy on the floor" and the "other guy" terms are getting confusing and hard to describe, so I will give them names... let's go with Chris and Dan.. :) much easier lol) OK, so Chris stood up while balancing Dan on his one arm and held him above his head - as if they were trying to form the letter T. Several of these balancing and lifting stunts were performed. It was amazing. One other that stands out in my mind is Chris standing with his head down - chin to his chest, with Dan upside down in the same position - on top of Chris. They were NOT holding onto anything - their shoulders were touching and that was all. Chris turned in a circle while Dan balanced - only by his shoulders on Chris' shoulders - upside down with his feet straight up in the air. I do not know if that is descriptive enough for you all to know what I am talking about, but the bottom line is that these guys were AMAZING! Oh, and they were very, very hot!! :)

After that, the opening meeting continued and it was actually funny and interesting. Not your usual boring speeches and boring material. They kept it light and funny. At 10, we were released to go visit the vendors, then we had to break into smaller groups for training. There were several vendors there, all giving out something... pens, golf balls, towels, USB hubs, USB mice, re-tractable Ethernet cables, and so on. So I had a ton of stuff to carry around. I had left the bag that I had received upon registration the previous day in my room.

Our training started at 10:30ish, I had to go with the managers and Robert go to go with the techs. Of course they got to play games and have fun, while we got to watch slide show presentations and listen to people read them to us. That always amazes me. They do a slide show, make copies to hand out to you, then they have to stand up there and read them!! Seems like a big waste of time to me. If you are going to make a slide show, you can point out major points, but other than that - unless the people you are giving it to are toddlers and cannot read - you should just let people read it them selves!

We were released for lunch at 11:45, to return to the meeting room in 1 hour. Robert did not get a lunch break at the same time as me, so we did not see each other until dinner. After lunch, the guy went through things rather quickly and released us at 1:45 for break, but we didn't have to return until 3:00, so I went back to my room and read a bit. Our 3:00 guy went really fast, too, and he released us at 4. Since the bus to dinner wasn't leaving until 6:30, that gave me a couple of hours to myself. I went to my room and caught up on my work email to make sure there wasn't anything that needed immediate attention. Then I went ahead and got ready for dinner.

For dinner, we were all bussed to the House Of Blues - they had rented out the music hall for the entire night. There were people walking around with food as well as a buffet set up on 2 sides of the room. There was an excellent band performing and an open bar. It was a lot of fun. I got to meet a lot of the other people there - more of the managers that I hadn't already met, and several more technicians. I got a lot of contacts to use when we need service to one of our customers in their areas. We also spent a big part of the evening hanging out with our Vice President - I always had liked him before, but now I like him even more. He is a great guy, very down to earth and not at all pretentious as some people in his position would be. We had a great time.

There were supposed to be busses running every 15 minutes to take us back to the hotel, but when we went to get one, there was a group coming back that said they had been waiting for 25 minutes with no luck. So we went to another area to see if maybe they were at the wrong place. There was a taxi sitting there and our VP walked up to him and asked him to take us back to the hotel. He paid for it and we all piled in. When we got back to the hotel, it was 11 and Robert said, "It would be a shame not to make use of the pools and Jacuzzies while we are here..." so we went and got our suits on and met back at the pool area. There were a few others who had the same idea. We hung out there for a while, talking, telling stories, laughing and having fun. I was the first to leave - it had been a long day and I was tired. The hot water in the Jacuzzi just added to that, but it did feel good. I slept very soundly and had no problems waking up the next morning for breakfast.

Day 3 continued at a later time....

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Florida - Day 1

Well, today has not turned into the best day, I certainly hope it gets better! To start with, I didn't get much sleep last night, trying to get everything together and not forget anything. I arrived at the airport 2 hours prior to my flight, as I am supposed to, got right through the ticketing counter and the security, then had nothing to do for 2 hours. Since my favorite coffee shop was not open early enough, I did not get to start my day with my usual coffee, so I thought I would get one from the cafe in the airport. It did not even come close to holding a candle to my usual.

Robert arrived not long after I did, and we went to sit at our gate - B12. We were the only ones there for a while. He is sick, coughing, stuffy nose, sneezing... blah... We finally get on the plane and we had seats in a row, I was 7A, he was 8A. The plane was small, so there were single seats on the row, so we could not sit next to each other. Not a problem because I had a book to read, and I was tired. I started out reading my book - big mistake. It made me feel sick. So I quit reading and just rested my head against the seat, trying to go to sleep. Not much luck there, either. But, I survived the boring 2 hour flight, no problem. We arrived at the airport at approximately 1PM and they wheeled stairs out for us to exit the plane. Yep, the plane was that small. :) Stepping outside, I was immediately hot - it was 40 degrees when we left OH, so I had worn pants and log sleeves - and here in Florida, it is 85 degrees. Oh, well, I figured I could handle it until we reached the hotel and I could change.

Once we arrived at the main building, we had to find the Disney welcome center. There was no need to go to the baggage claim area because Disney had sent us special tags to put on our luggage, and they would retrieve it for us and bring it to our rooms within 2 hours of our arrival. After consulting our airport map, we finally figured it out and went down some escalator stairs. Mad house. TONS of people everywhere. Big long lines waiting to board the busses. We had to go to a counter, register, then proceed to the "associate with the big white Mickey hand" for our lane assignment. After waiting in line a while, we finally boarded the bus. It was a big, nice bus. Comfortable seats, flip down TV screens, and a bathroom in the rear. I don't even remember how long the drive was, but it wasn't too bad. I don't know what they use the TV screens for normally, but we did not get to watch anything. We stopped at another resort before the Contemporary to let some of the other passengers off, but we were the second stop, so that was good. We register at the front desk and get our room information - they are both in a building separate from the main building, I am on the ground floor with a patio, and Robert is on the second floor - about 1/2 mile away... yeah, really. Far away.

We decided to go ahead and go to the Convention Center and register with Lenovo before going to our rooms. We received a bunch of "freebie" gifts upon registering, among them a shirt, and then we proceeded to our rooms. Mine is the 3rd farthest room in the entire complex. I had to walk forever! Lugging my carry-on and my freebie stuff. I get to the room at approximately 3:30PM. So, 2 1/2 hours from landing, I finally got to my room. Now, one might think that my luggage would be waiting on me in my room, but no such luck. So I figured I would get my carry-on unpacked, maybe take a nap and relax a bit, then my luggage may finally arrive. After settling in, I was thirsty, so I went off in search of a soda machine. I finally found one - a long way away from my room. I would think they would have more convenient access to them for all the rooms in this place - but not so. The price on one soda from the machine is $2.50 - highway robbery - but I was thirsty, hot, tired, and willing to pay it. I tried in vain to get the machine to take the money I had, but it would not. It did have a slot for credit cards - but I did not bring one with me. I did, however, have my room key card. It was supposed to act as a credit card during my stay and charge anything I would like to purchase to my room. So I tried it. No luck. Not a valid card, it said. So I walked all the way back to my room, got another card and walked back to the machine. I swiped my card, chose my selection, and nothing. I tried again. Nothing. And one more time because I was desperate, but nothing. Each time the screen said "vending product" but it did not vend anything! So I gave up. I went back to my room and called the front desk to report the machine. I probably got charged $7.50 for nothing. They said if I see any charges on my card to call them and they would be able to reimburse me.

It is now 4:30 and I decided to just take a nap. After just falling asleep, Robert called and wanted to see if I had received my luggage yet. Nope. So I call the baggage people and the guy says he will look into it and call me right back. He never called back. At 5:30, we decided to go look around in the hotel for something to drink and for me some shorts. We looked around at all the shops, I bought some shorts and a 2 liter bottle of Sprite (for $3.50), and headed back to our rooms to see about getting ready for the Luau that we were to attend at 7PM.

Still no luggage. So, I called the baggage people again. I was once again told that I would be called back in 5-10 minutes with a status. Yeah, right. I told the person on the phone that I had been told that same thing at 5PM and had never gotten a return call. He assured me he would call me back. He did call back - he said they had located my luggage and would bring it to my room within 10 minutes. Great! I hung up the phone and waited. 7:50 - no luggage. I called again. Was told once again that I would get my luggage in 5-10 minutes. By this time, I was starving, and did not want to wait any longer. So I put my Lenovo shirt on (at least it was short sleeves!), called Robert (he did the same) and we went to the Luau. All of the Lenovo people were wearing the same shirt, but all of the other people were wearing normal cloths.

We got our food and some drinks, and sat down to eat. A couple of vendors approached us thinking we were from Lenovo, so we had to explain the situation to them. We talked to them for a while - about the service industry and their product - AMD Processors - and finally just relaxed and had fun. The Luau was supposed to end at 9PM, but everyone was having such a good time that they extended it. The band continued to play and the continued to serve drinks. Robert and I were talking and watching people when we noticed a guy who looked like our Vice President. After discussing it for a few minutes and trying to see his badge, we just went over and talked to him. It was in fact our VP. He was sitting with 2 of our Technicians from other branches that we had not met before, so we sat with them and talked business for a while. At 10:30 the band quit and everyone started leaving. Not the group I was with... they just kept talking and talking.... At 11, I had finally had enough so I excused myself and came back to my room. My luggage had finally arrived!! I unpacked my clothes, changed into my PJ's, and got ready for bed.

I think I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. I was exhausted! I awoke to an ear-piercing alarm going off - I looked for the alarm clock to turn it off, but it wasn't the alarm clock. It was 2AM. I called the front desk, half asleep, and asked what that "horrible noise is??" to find that it was the fire alarm. I asked if there really was a fire and was told no - just a problem with the system and their engineers were working to stop it. Great. Breakfast was being served @ 6:30AM and I had to get up in a couple of hours, so I put a pillow over my head to drown out the alarm and went back to sleep.

So far, day one was not a good day..... I will continue with Day 2 at a later time. :)

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Catching up...

Wow! I didn't put one post on here in the month of April! I have a ton of pictures that I was going to put on here, but I haven't taken the time to download them to my computer yet. So that won't happen today.

My job is getting a little less stressful for me for a couple of reasons.

1. Louisville is no longer my responsibility, kinda. The "decision makers" at my company decided to combine the Louisville and Cincinnati branches, so Cincinnati is now doing for Louisville what I used to do for them. It has only been in effect for 4 days now, so I am still doing some of it. Tomorrow I will be training a Cincinnati person on what all has to be done for Louisville. After that, my involvement will be minimal.

2. I decided that it is just not worth it. It's a job, and while I will always do the best job I can, some things are out of my control. And I can't do everything. It's funny, I received an email from a Corporate person concerning our Toledo branch. I responded and told her that I worked for the Dayton branch and she needed to contact someone from the Toledo branch. Her response was that she was told that I was now over the Toledo branch, too. I immediately went to Joe (the one who volunteered me for Louisville) and asked, "Did you volunteer me for Toledo and forget to tell me??" Turns out it was a mix-up, thank goodness.

I also want to spend more time with my family. I saw my brother last month - the first time I have seen him since Christmas - and I want to spend more time with him. I want my kids to know him better. He will be 21 this weekend - on Mother's Day as a matter of fact - and I want to be more involved in his life.

I also do not see my dad as much as I want to. So I took Conor with me one Friday night and went to visit him. We had a lot of fun. My dad's dog, Toby, is hilarious. Dad has always had dogs and they are always so well trained. Toby has his own "ramp" to get into and out of my dad's pool. Dad threw a toy into the water and told Toby to go get it. He stood on his ramp and just looked at the toy floating in the middle of the pool - wanting to jump in, but hesitating. So Dad said, "What, you want your raft?" and he pushed a pool float towards Toby. He jumped onto it and floated around the pool on it... trying to will himself towards the toy, I think, because he kept running back and forth on the float trying to stretch towards where the toy was. He finally gave up and just jumped in and got it. He brought it out of the pool and put it down on the deck near Conor. Conor was just delighted by the whole thing. He picked up the toy and threw it back into the pool. This went on for a while. When Toby seemed to be worn out, Dad got a towel out and put it on the deck and told Toby to dry off. And he did! He went over to the towel and rolled around on it, drying himself off. It was so funny!

Oh, and my Dad has always been referred to as PePaw - this is because there were so many grandparents and each one needed a different name to be referred to as. So we have Grandma (my grandma), Mimi (my mom), Poppy (my step-dad), Pepaw (my dad), Naner (my step-mom). But Conor does not pronounce PePaw correctly, so it sounds like he is saying "Meatball" - which is always a source of a good laugh. I don't know how my dad feels about being referred to as ball of meat, but everyone else thinks it is very amusing! :)

Bottom line is I do not spend as much time with my family as I would like to. I am going to try to change that, though.

On yet another subject, my trip to Florida is coming up - I fly out on Sunday morning. Yep, on Mother's day. I don't know who scheduled this conference for Mother's Day, but it had to be a man. heehee. We will be going to Epcot - not Disney World - because the technician I am going with has his heart set on Epcot. I have never been to Epcot, so it will be an experience for me. So the next post will probably be about my trip to Florida. :)

Oh, I just realized that I didn't really say anything about anyone else! Allie is going to be a teenager in just a couple of months, but she is already exibiting the characteristics. You know - embarassed to hang around her mom, the attitude, the rolling of her eyes, sleeping late, make-up, all kinds of stuff.

Ceara has decided to come back to our house next year for school - so we will be seeing her a lot more often.

Jeff finished his 2 classes that were causing him so much difficulty and has had the last 2 weekends free of home work, so he has been a LITTLE more pleasent to be around. But not much more...

Conor is getting bigger all the time, saying things that can shock or amuse me.

OK, I have to get off here now. Hope everyone is doing well!!