Thursday, May 29, 2008

My Highlander "High"

Tonight I was reading through The Wall Street Journal (the namesake for this blog and my favorite newspaper...there's so much more in it than strictly financial business news). Anyway, I came upon a little car review section for three-row SUVs, which I'm in the market for and have been scouting out for months. I think I may have found one that will beat my much desired Lexus (much to Peter's relief). It's the Toyota Highlander Hybrid. It made it into the review because it gets better-than-average fuel economy for its class. The brief description reads "Deceptively large inside, this seven-seater hides its spaciousness on the road."

I don't think I've seen any of these models on the road yet, but I do think I happened to see one at a Toyota dealership this week when I was driving by, and I thought to myself when I saw it, "Now that is a nice car that would be worth taking a look at." I'm already a Toyota fan, having driven a Camry for five years; their cars are well-made and pretty much problem-free, and they're more affordable than Toyota's luxury line of Lexus. I like the way this car looks. It has a cute butt, which is always of utmost importance when shopping for a car (I'm only half joking). I like cars with cute butts. My current Camry has a nice front but its derriere is too boxy-looking. Now that we're not poor newlyweds anymore, I refuse to get a car that I don't like the look of in the front, back, sides, and interior. It's just not worth it if you're going to be driving it around almost every day of your life for years. Life is short...get a car you like! An added bonus is that this is a hybrid, which is of course a good thing these days.

So in August or September, we will be car shopping and hopefully getting a new car. I'm still interested in a Lexus RX400h and a few others, but the 2008 Toyota Highlander Hybrid is now a top "contender."

P.S. Feast your eyes on THIS: I'm not normally one to get all excited about cars, but I'm pretty excited now!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Birthday Doggy

Today is my beloved mutt Christy's 13th birthday (that's about 91 in dog years). Happy Birthday to Christy! I'm very grateful she's still with me. As all dogs are, she's so much more than just another dog; she's my friend and constant companion and sidekick. We know each other so very well. I first held Christy in the palm of my hand when she was a tiny little newborn puppy. I was a 14-year-old freshman in high school at the time. Ever since then, Christy's been there with me and for me, through my high school years, my college years, getting married, and becoming a mother. How grateful I am to have had her by my side during these significant years of my life. Her loyalty and intelligence and her funny antics and zest for life have taught me many good lessons. She's the best dog I'll ever have!

I love how ticked off my little "devil dog" looks here.

Two of my most precious treasures:

(I have literally hundreds of pictures of Christy over the years. If I had a scanner, I'd include pictures of me with Christy from her puppy years up to just before John was born. I should get a scanner!)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Strange Dreams

I've been having strange dreams lately. Well, only two that I can remember so far, but that's a lot for me since I rarely remember my dreams. Last night I had a dream in which I was at home (it wasn't really my house, but in the dream it was) and there were snakes slithering around and then hiding, so Peter couldn't catch any of them. They were all fairly big, and one of them in particular was huge. It was such a scary dream. I'm pretty sure I know the reason for this one--a few days ago there was a little snake in our house and it was kind of traumatizing for me.

Then today I was exhausted, so I fell asleep this afternoon and woke up in the middle of a dream in which I was teaching my Primary class, only it was at another church I'd never seen before with a group of kids who I didn't know (but in the dream I did know the kids and it was my usual church). Someone was doing a puppet through a hole in the floor, and they were making the puppet give me an attitude. Um, okay. Dreams can be so strange with their funny, random little details and how they warp the familiar with the unfamiliar. They're like little movies that play in our minds, made by our brain power, our memories, our fears, and whatever else it is that goes into them. I guess they're just another one of the interesting things that our minds are capable of doing!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Tag! Things About Me

(How to play this game of tag: Post these rules on your blog. List the topics below with your answers. Tag five people at the end of your post by leaving their names. Let them know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.)

Three Joys
1) Observing the beauties of nature.
2) Reading good books.
3) Raising my son.

Three Fears
1) I'm afraid that Peter, John, or I will die early. I think about one of us having cancer or something else that's a ticking time bomb in our bodies that we don't yet know about. It just about kills me (no pun intended) if I think about it too much. I'm so afraid of losing one of them, and of dying young myself.

2) I fear a home invasion. Two of them have happened in the state since last summer. Especially when Peter is away traveling, I get scared that someone will break in and do really bad things to us. So I'm meticulous about making sure all of the doors and windows are locked tight every night.

3) I'm afraid of a bear coming after me or John in our yard. I know it's unlikely to happen, but the bears do come out and what if?

Three Goals
1) Have another baby. Any day now would be nice! Maybe I'm just destined to have one child.
2) Get to the bottom of my To-Do list so that I can live a well-organized, happy, full life and do everything that I want to do in it.
3) Plant a vegetable garden this spring and have it be a success this summer.

Three Current Obsessions/Collections
1) Skirts and dresses. I love them and I'm addicted to them. I don't need any more but I can't stop shopping for them. I need help!

2) I am currently obsessed with SUVs and crossover vehicles. I am determined to get a new car by this fall. I've had my current one, my 2001 Toyota Camry, for almost five years. It's been a great car, but it's time to move on. For months I've been car-watching while I drive, and my heart has settled on getting a silver Lexus SUV/crossover vehicle with three rows, possibly two if it's roomy enough inside. Somehow I've gotta convince Peter that I must get this car. Every time I see a Lexus RX-300 I want it!! It is such a great-looking vehicle, inside and out. (See, I'm not shallow, I look on the inside too. Ha ha.)

3) Photo albums with memo spaces, and good stickers to put in them. After years of trying, I gave up scrapbooking. I've never been all that good at it and it takes too much time so it's hard to keep up with. I still do scrapbooks for mementos, but I keep them simple. For our photos, I get lots of nice photo albums with memo strips and I do photo journaling. Then I jazz them up with appropriate and tasteful stickers. I find it to be much more enjoyable, easy to keep up with, and I love the way it looks when it's done. So I'm always on the lookout for great photo albums and stickers now. You don't even want to know how much I spent on stickers alone at Michael's last month. There are some really nice stickers out there!

Three Random/Surprising Facts about ME
1) I'm a stickler for proper spelling, writing, punctuation, and grammar. Whenever I see these types of errors anywhere, I have the very strong urge to fix them. Sometimes I actually do fix errors when I find them. It makes me feel like I'm making the world a better place, taking down typos one by one. I've been like this for as long as I can remember!

2) I gave up a career in publishing to become a mother. I was thisclose to getting my dream job at a big publishing house (Penguin Putnam) in downtown Manhattan in the summer of 2004. I had the right contact (my NYU instructor was a V.P. at Penguin, and she liked me and was helping me) and the interviews for the position went well. Then I found out I was pregnant. Bye-bye, awesome job in the city, hello motherhood! Why couldn't that job have come around a year or two earlier? Oh well, I don't regret my choice to become a mother when I did in the least, and I feel that all things happen when they do for a reason.

3) I color code my closet and organize by sleeve length. (This is directly copied from Jessie's; no need to change it. I'm glad I'm not the only person who does this!)

I TAG: Katie, and um, I don't have enough friends who blog left to tag who haven't been tagged yet. How sad!

The Cayman Islands: The End

Our last full day of the trip was on Friday, May 2nd. It turned out to be a little disappointing, because Peter got really sick in the middle of the night on Thursday and was bed-ridden and miserable all day on Friday. We had planned on going out to Stingray City that day, which is a sandbar in the ocean where stingrays congegrate and will come right up and swim with you. They're supposed to be very friendly and gentle and we were really looking forward to experiencing that. We were also going to give snorkeling a try while we were there.

But those plans were cancelled, because we didn't want to go without Peter, and my mom and I were too chicken to drive the rental car around that much anyway. (The steering wheel was on the right side of the car, and they drive on the opposite side of the road there. Even just thinking about it confuses me. I'm sure that I would have been a driving disaster.) So we spent a low-key day mostly around the resort, relaxing, swimming, getting packed up, etc. It was actually nice to just relax for a day before returning home.

This is where Peter spent most of the day. (Well, here and the bathroom.) Poor guy! He ended up being sick for three more days after this one. None of the rest of us got sick, so it may have been something that he ate.
Our patio, draped with towels and swimsuits that were sitting out to dry. The pool was just beyond those plants out there, so we were nice and close to it, which was convenient.

That's me waving good-bye in the mirror.

In the evening, my mother, John, and I walked over to the beach before going to dinner. This group of boys was having such a blast playing in the water. Their energy and exuberance were refreshing to watch.

Sleepy Mommy and Johnny.

On Saturday morning we had to say good-bye and fly back home. I always feel a little depressed at the end of a vacation, and this time was no exception. We did many fun things while there, but not everything, and Peter getting sick on the last day sealed the deal...we'll be back in a few years! It was a wonderful vacation and I'll always treasure the memories, the photos, the mementos, and the experiences we had in the Cayman Islands. It's such a beautiful place. Everyone should go at least once in their life.

This is the airport. I took this picture from my seat on the plane. It's a small airport, so we had to walk up steps to the plane instead of going through a tunnel. How charmingly old-fashioned! I'd never done that before.

My mom and John as the plane was getting ready to take off. He fell asleep on her almost immediately and slept for 2-1/2 hours. That was nice!

I'll miss you, Grand Cayman. I'll be back!

When we arrived in Boston at 5:00 p.m., it was cold, raw, and wet. We were shivering when we were outside. Welcome back to reality!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Cayman Islands: Day 6

Thursday, May 1st, was one of the best days of the trip. We went shopping at George Town (the capital), we went for an awesome hour-long submarine ride, we ate lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe, and Peter and I had one of the most beautiful and romantic dinners imaginable.

Waiting for the submarine ride.

There were two cruise ships there that day. Sometimes there are as many as twelve(!!) ships in a day, so we were lucky that George Town wasn't totally overrun with people. We're thinking about going on a cruise around the Caribbean next year so that we can get a taste of the various islands and see which ones we might want to come back and stay at sometime.

On the submarine. It was fascinating to be under water and see what life is like there. This was definitely one of our favorite things we did.

We got to see two shipwrecks. This was the first one. It was cool and a little creepy.

The coral reefs were amazing.

I thought this tunnel down below was neat.

We loved being able to see the fish up so close.

George Town was nice. The buildings were colorful and attractive and the main street is right on the water. One of the great things about this island is that it is clean, safe, and family-friendly. I didn't see any pushy street vendors or homeless people or anything like that during our week there.

We ate lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe. It was the first time any of us had ever eaten at one. It was nice to have good classic American food again.

Peter and I went out to dinner that evening at Grand Old House, a former plantation house built on the edge of the sea. We got to eat at a very special private table that's right on the beach. Couples often get this table for special occasions like anniversaries, marriage proposals, etc. (We were able to get it because of our credit card rewards program. How's that for romance?!) These were our amazing views as we dined by the seaside. It was magical. One of the best fine dining experiences of my life!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Cayman Islands: Day 5

Vacation Day #5 was on Wednesday, April 30th. We went to the Pirate's Caves and to two historic sites. The Pirate's Caves were one of our favorite things we did on this trip.

Hurricane Ivan devastated Grand Cayman in 2004. There was still some damage evident four years later, like here.
The Pirate's Caves were so much fun. We had the whole place to ourselves that morning. These caves were regularly used by actual pirates once upon a time.
There was a little zoo there. John and Peter are checking out the mini stingrays. My mom was stressing that Peter was going to let John fall in.

There were lots of pretty flowers there too.

Down in the caves...

Peter had a lot of fun exploring the caves. His inner Boy Scout came out strong!

Dangling handcuffs. Hopefully this is the closest John will ever get to a pair of cuffs.

This reminds me of Indiana Jones.

John will follow Peter wherever he goes...

Peter found bats back there. One of them actually flew out! I guess that's what exploring will do for you.

Up above ground again, we got to hold this friendly white bird. His mohawk would go up and down at will, which was funny. He was a charming little cutie!

At The Mission House, where the wealthy British settlers lived in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

At Pedro St. James, which is the most famous historic site on the island. This is where democracy was born for the Islands. This is a very funky, very unique old house. I'd never seen one like it before.
The grounds had beautiful views of the ocean.


Relaxing up on the top veranda of the house.

Back at home that evening, Peter made some tasty chicken fajitas for dinner. Our condo had this great screened-in patio that was really nice to spend time on. We ate most of our meals here when we didn't eat out.
Chef Pierre, preparing dinner.

At night, Peter and I went swimming and we switched between the pool and the hot tub a couple of times. It is soooo relaxing to go from the hot to cool temperatures like that, especially when you've got the warm Caribbean air around you and the stars glimmering in the sky above. By that point, I really didn't want this trip to end!