Sea World

1 08 2018

Since the offices at the apartment buildings wouldn’t be open on a Sunday we decided to spend the day at Sea World.  With the humidity and the heat it was a bit warm at Sea World but nothing like the temperatures back home.  I think we topped out at about 85 at Sea World.  Back home it was closer to 110 or 113.  Given that 85 with humidity isn’t all that bad.

We saw many of the shows starting with the dolphins.  We only did one ride, the Sky Tower.  I saw the roller coaster while waiting for the dolphin show to start.  I can handle steep drops and upside down but the one thing I really don’t like is going backwards.  The roller coaster I saw went backwards so I wasn’t about to ride that thing.  I blame it all on a roller coaster called the Tidal Wave at Marriot’s “Great America” in Santa Clara California.  At least that is what is was called back when I lived there and was going to amusement parks.

We saw two different versions of the Seymore and Clyde show as well as the pets show.  We also did the shark experience and watched the penguins.  We also saw the Orca show which has definitely changed emphasis to conservation and protection of wildlife since the “Blackfish” documentary.

After watching the Orca show, we had dinner, did a little shopping and then decided to head back to the hotel in El Cajon.

Until next time…

Paul





San Diego bound

31 07 2018

Saturday was a busy day.  It was also an early day.  We didn’t get to sleep until later than usual on Friday night as my awesome youngest daughter was flying in to town.  She needs to look for a place to live in San Diego for about 4 months and we were going to go with her and take a little family vacation together.

For those of you who have been following my blog, yes we did just recently get back from a vacation.  You can read about our cruise here and the 2nd half of the vacation in Orlando Florida here.

My youngest daughter and I had breakfast with my father fairly early Saturday morning.  After breakfast, it was time for the 3 ladies, my wife, my oldest daughter and my youngest daughter to all get a pedicure.  They invited me but I politely declined.  Could be I don’t know what I am missing, but I still don’t know.  While they were getting their pedicures, I packed up the vehicle for our drive to San Diego.

When they got back we got a few last-minute things together and then got on the road.  Thankfully, unlike our previous road trip when we drove across the country, there were not issues.

We got to the hotel in El Cajon and got checked in.  We decided to kind of map out where the apartments were that my daughter wanted to look at on Monday.  After that we went and did a little shopping at Seaport Village and then had dinner at Pier Cafe.  Three of us had the clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl and my oldest daughter had the Chicken Milanese.  After dinner we did a little more shopping and my wife replaced our faded Navy flag to fly in front of our home.  After that we went back to the hotel, and had a good nights rest.

Before I go, for those of you reading this on Facebook, this is the last post you will be able to read directly on Facebook.  Facebook is changing their policy on allowing third party applications to post to personal pages.  This means that I can no longer have WordPress configured to automatially post to my personal page on Facebook.  I will be posting the link to my blog posts on Facebook but that will become a manual thing.  I will only be able to do it after it has been published.  I personally am not happy about this but there isn’t much I can do except make you all aware of the issue.

If you would like to automatically get my blog posts in your email, you can head on over to my blog and follow me via email.  That way when ever I post, you will automatically get it in your email.  You don’t have to have a WordPress account and I cannot access your email address.

Until next time…

Paul





The Loss of my Mom

30 07 2018

November 4, 1995 was a day that changed the trajectory of my life in ways that I wasn’t prepared to deal with.  Three days before, the Lord blessed us with a blessing that we didn’t plan for but are very grateful to have received.  November 1st was the day our fourth child was born.  On November 2nd, we were allowed to take our beautiful new daughter home.  Before we went home, we took her to see her grandmother.  My mom held her newest grand-daughter for a few moments and then gave her back to us.  Two days later my mother passed away.

Her passing was not unexpected.  Several years earlier she had been diagnosed with breast cancer.  She had a mastectomy along with chemotherapy and radiation.  After all of that she was cancer free for almost 5 years.  This time when it came back it came back with a vengeance.  It got into her lymphatic system and then metastasized below the knee and into her brain.  At the time those were very rare places for breast cancer to attack.

Prior to her cancer returning, I was the designated executor of her estate and each of my kids, along with my sisters kids were to get $10,000 from her estate.  When the cancer returned, she decided to get married.  As I remember, and I may not be remembering correctly, a major reason for getting married was the medical benefits that he had.  This would mean that all of her money would not be spent on her cancer treatment.  After she got married, she changed the trust and put everything in her husband’s name. She did not have a will and based on what my sister once told me, I think she was coerced into making the changes.

While her cancer was in remission, she worked for a very famous financial advisor who also had an attorney working for her.  I went and talked with them as this whole thing about my mother making this radical change from providing for her grandchildren and children to leaving it all to her husband was not like her.  Unfortunately, I got nowhere with this meeting.  What really upset me is that they knew my mother and this was a radical change in behavior that I would thought they might have reached out to my sister or I and at least asked if everything was ok.

Two days after my mother held my youngest child, I got a call from my sister saying that our mom had passed away and that they were waiting for hospice to come get her body. I decided to drive up and wait. Not sure why I did that, it just seemed the right thing to do.

Before my mother passed away, she felt her current husband would not give my sister or I any of my mother’s money. She and my sister had cashed in a couple of her CD’s and given the cash to my sister. She had pulled a couple for me but didn’t/couldn’t cash them as she couldn’t remember my social security number. Within 2 days of my mother passing her husband called asking if I knew where two of the CDs were. I didn’t have them yet so I honestly answered no and to check with my sister.  Shortly after this my sister gave them to me and I tried to cash them.  However, it turns out I needed his signature to cash them and he wasn’t going to let me have both of them.  My mother’s fears were confirmed.

I wanted to have a memorial service for my mother and tried to set something up for a few weeks after she passed away.  I got lots of pushback from my sister and my mother’s husband.  With counsel from my church family, I went ahead and while my sister attended, it was very obvious that she was not at all happy that I had the memorial service.

I didn’t, or maybe haven’t grieved in ways that would seem normal.  Yes her passing made me sad and I miss her greatly.  However, I never really cried for her.   It just seemed a natural part of life and while I had a great loss in my life, life just seemed to go on.  Many years later, I sensed God prompting me to attend Grief Share.  This is a ministry for those that have suffered a loss as they try to adjust to the new season of their lives.  I learned a few things but I didn’t get the healing or closure I was hoping for.  I don’t know that there was anything wrong with the program or even wrong with me.  I just don’t know how that was supposed to impact my life.  About that time, we were preparing to adopt our foster daughters.  I thought that maybe God wanted me to go through this to better understand the grief my soon to be daughters would be going through.  However they were reunited with their mother.

Not too long after the memorial service, my sister moved to Idaho with no warning.  She left pots and pans she had borrowed from our mother on the doorstep and left with no other discussion.  It took me awhile longer but with no family ties to the San Francisco Bay Area and with the cost of housing being unreasonable, I found a job in Chandler Arizona and we moved to Gilbert, Arizona in August of 1997.

Living in the desert has definitely been different from living in the Bay Area.  However in the desert I have formed a much deeper relationship with God that I don’t know would have happened if I had continued with my life in the Bay Area.  Obviously I don’t know what would have happened had my family and I stayed in the Bay Area.  I do know that I would not have met the friends I now have.

Until next time…

Paul





Weight Loss Journey

9 07 2018

I have been on a journey for over a year now.  Actually I have been on this journey for many years but was finally in a place where I was finally ready to admit I needed God’s help about a year ago. 

I have been “chubby”, “heavy”, “large”, “a big kid”, which are all polite ways of saying “FAT”, almost all of my life.  I remember when I was 8 or 9 I would stand with my arms folded at the top of my stomach.  I remember my mother telling me not to cross my arms above my stomach because it pushed my stomach out.  I was teased in school and was always part of the “last kids picked” when it came to choosing teams. 

I married the woman of my dreams in 1986 and if my memory serves correctly, I was about 180 pounds.  I remember that I was working out at the gym prior to the wedding to look my best.  After I was married, I think I lost interest in maintaining my weight.  When I got married I was working a retail job where I was on my feet for a major part of the day walking around.  A few years later, I was hired for a job that would use my computer science degree.  With the hour or so commute and a fairly sedentary job, my weight started to increase. 

So I was fat, and I knew I was fat.  Years of the doctor telling me I needed to lose weight and my wife telling me that she was afraid I was going to die early and my dad telling me I needed to lose weight didn’t cause me to get help.  I tried a trainer at the gym and spent thousands of dollars without a lasting effect.  If memory serves correctly, I managed to go from about 300 pounds to 270 pounds.  My wife and I tried a “well known” weight loss program in 2005 and that worked while I was paying to go to meetings and paying for their snacks.  However when money got tight and I could no longer pay for the trainer and when my wife reached her goal weight and we stopped going to those meetings, I gained all the weight back.  With the weight loss program I actually  managed to get down just under 246 pounds.  245.8 to be exact.

In 2010 I had three business trips traveling to Eastern Europe for work.  We always had a lay over day each way in Vienna, Austria for two trips and Amsterdam, Netherlands for the last trip.  Putting my 290+ pound body into a coach seat for a transatlantic flight, and not being able to walk around Vienna and Amsterdam got me to the point that I was finally ready to give Celebrate Recovery a try.

For those that don’t know, Celebrate Recovery is a Christ based 12-step program similar to the better known Alcoholics Anonymous.  One of the major differences is while Alcohol Anonymous refers to a “higher power” as a source of help, Celebrate Recovery specifically names the higher power as Jesus/God.  Anyway, a pastor at the church my family was attending was “heavy” and lost quite a bit of weight.  He told the congregation that the 12 steps of Celebrate Recovery is what helped him to lose the weight.  His testimony and my business trips to Eastern Europe were enough pain to overcome the fear of walking in to Celebrate Recovery.

Given my past failures with the gym and the nationally known weight lost program I knew that my weight issues were more than simple behavior modification would fix.  There were deeper issues that needed to be addressed.  I went though the doors of Celebrate Recovery and started to work the program.  I started watching what I was eating and trying to drink more water, in place of snacking.  I actually lost 30 pounds in the beginning.  However this was my doing and not what God was most interested in helping me overcome….at least not yet.

I found this walking app for my iPhone and started tracking my sporadic walks back in December of 2014.  My walks got more regular in 2016 but still not consistent. 

Back in February of 2017, I got an Apple Watch and started tracking my exercise.  As of April 1, 2017 I weighed 300 pounds.  I have been as high as 321.  This is not something that I am in any way proud of but it is worthy to note how far I have come. 

With the purchase of my Apple Watch, I decided to start walking regularly and tracking my walking progress.  I figured out the workout app on my watch and in March of 2017 had 1 workout.  In April there were 15, May was 24, June and July there were 20 each and then I started to get serous in August of 2017.

I consider my official start date of this journey August 1, 2017.  We had recently booked a family cruise to the Western Caribbean and I was looking at some of the excursions.  What took me somewhat by surprise was the fact that some of them had weight limits.  Now this wasn’t the zip line or scuba diving where I know there are weight limits.  This was playing and swimming with the dolphins.  This sounded interesting but there was a weight limit.  Those above 240 pounds could not participate.  Since I was currently close to 300 pounds, it meant that my weight was going to be what limited me on this excursion.

I didn’t want my weight to be the reason I didn’t do the excursion.  As I mentioned above, I had tried the gym, I had tried a nationally known weight loss program.  Both worked, sort of, until I couldn’t afford to pay for them.  I had gotten just under 270 pounds while working with a trainer.  I had gotten down to 245 with the weight loss program.  Neither of those were below the 240 that I needed to be under to do the excursion. 

I knew that there were deeper issues behind my weight that simple behavior modification would solve.  I decided to pray about this and ask God if this was the time for us to work on my weight.  I started walking and trying to watch what I ate.  The weight was starting to come off.  In November my prescription for blood pressure medication ran out.  I called the pharmacy to refill it and it was denied.  It turns out that my medical insurance was now insisting that I see the doctor every 6 months while on long term medication.  There was no way I was going to get in to see the doctor before Thanksgiving so I decided to start recording my blood pressure daily and see the doctor after Thanksgiving.  I took my record of blood pressure measurements to the doctor and he was concerned.  Not because my blood pressure was too high but there were several readings that were too low!  With that my doctor decided that I could be off the blood pressure medications and we would check it again in April when I had my annual exam.

In January I was going to the gym because walking when the outside temperature was below 50 was causing my hands and feet to be cold to the point of pain.  I also got an app to start tracking what I was eating.  The combination helped me break through the plateau!

I had my annual physical in April part of which was the usual blood tests.  The doctor was thrilled with the amount of weight I had lost.  When he got the results of the blood tests, all my results were excellent.  Where I had been on both blood pressure and cholesterol medications in the past, and had even had a liver biopsy in the past to determine I had a fatty liver, I am now off all prescription medications.

As I write this I am 56 pounds lighter than I was in August!  As I shared in my travel post, I was finally below 240 and my weight would no longer be the reason for not playing with the dolphins!  I am also down two pants sizes since I started in August and actually 4 pants sizes down from where I was at my heaviest.  At my heaviest, XXL shirts were tight, actually very tight.  Now large shirt are tight but with God’s help, they won’t be for much longer.

I continue to work at losing weight.  My next goal is to break through the 225 pound barrier with my ultimate goal to see if I can get back to about 180 pounds which is where I think I was when I got married. 

Until next time…

Paul





Bathroom Hand Dryers

6 07 2018

I am nominally a very practical person. I am not a germaphobe!  I think it is a great idea to use hand dryers in restrooms to reduce paper litter, keep the bathroom clean, reduce landfill, and save trees. However I have to wonder sometimes if the people designing these facilities are either naive or not thinking things through.

If you “assume”, and I learned from the movie “Bad News Bears” what happens when you assume, everyone washes their hands, then having a hand dryer and a door that opens IN to the bathroom is a workable idea. However, I have observed that the above assumption is false. I don’t have any data on the percentage of folks who wash versus those who don’t but even if one person doesn’t wash, this is a problem. Now if there are paper towels so that you can use one of those between your clean hand and the door handle, then all is good. Except that now we are using/wasting a paper towel when the whole idea was to not use that resource in the first place.

For example, I have washed and dried my hands and now they are germ free. Then I have to grab a handle that the person who didn’t wash used just before me. Now my hands have picked up some of their germs.

What dawned on me the other day was the restaurant employees at one of these facilities. There are signs that tell them they must wash their hands before returning to work. The fact that the sign is necessary is scary enough. Anyway, so now they have washed their hands because of the sign. Then they have to grab the handle to get out of the restroom and the person before them didn’t bother to wash. I mean they aren’t an employee so the sign doesn’t apply. Now this employee who washed their hands and had to grab that less than sanitary handle, is serving you your food.

I am certain I am not the first person to think this all the way through. Some might say I am overthinking this.  I am fairly certain this is not an original blog post.

Until next time…

Paul





Last Day In Florida

3 07 2018

This is our last day in Florida and the last day of our vacation.  It has been a great vacation but I am also anxious to get back home.

After breakfast we finished packing, left our bags at the Disney Springs Resort and went back to Epcot.

EpcotTinkerbell

There, four of us designed cars and tested the design in a head to head competition.  The car my youngest daughter and I designed, actually she did most of the work, won.

After that we road the Finding Nemo ride.  I had a beautiful companion for the ride.

FindingNemoSelfie

After you get off the ride you can walk around the various tanks in the aquarium.  I could spend hours watching fish swim around.

Afer we left Epcot for the last time this trip, we went and had lunch at the Whispering Canyon Cafe.  This is definitely NOT the place to go if you want a quite lunch.  It is quite noisy.  If you drink your soda or water too quickly out of the mason jar, they bring you an EXTRA LARGE mason jar of your beverage.

DaughtersLargeDrink

If you order something and you need ketchup, your entire table yells “WE NEED KETCHUP”  The folks at the previous table that yelled that then bring over all the bottles of ketchup from their table.

KetchupTower

Of course my daughter had to build a tower out of the ketchup bottles.

 

 

 

 

 

During our lunch they held a pony parade.  Yes two of my “adult” daughters rode stick ponies around the restaurant with other “kids”.

RidingStickHorses

After lunch we went back to Disney Springs to do some shopping and to stock up on snacks for the plane ride back home.  Two of my amazing daughters tried on dresses and my oldest bought the Minnie Mouse dress she tried on.

 

This is the last blog entry for our 2018 Cruise and Disney World vacation.  This is the first time I have done travel blog.  I kind of enjoyed the experience.  I learned a few things along the way and have made some new online friends.

During this vacation I ended up going through many different metal detectors.  Getting back on the ship and entered Disney World are the main times.  I learned awhile back that if I didn’t want a personal pat down from a TSA agent, I wanted to use the x-ray machine rather than the metal detector.  Having two metal knees, a metal hip and pins in my foot mean that more often than not I will set off a metal detector.  A couple of times getting back aboard ship as well as a majority of the time entering Disney World, I did NOT set off the metal detectors.  I didn’t mind NOT have to undergo the special “wand treatment.”  But I have to wonder who calibrates those things?  If I had carried my swiss army knife, or even my larger knife would they have gone off?  Maybe for me with the other metal in my body but what if my wife had carried one of those in?  I don’t want to try that as an experiment as I don’t want to lose the knife but it makes you wonder what folks are actually getting through the detectors with.

Until next time…

Paul





Animal Kingdom

2 07 2018

Before we started the day at Animal Kingdom, my awesome daughters wanted to give me their father’s day present early since we wouldn’t all be together on the official holiday.  They went in together and got me this t-shirt.

The words on the shirt say “I’m a Proud Dad of Three Freaking Awesome Daughters. Yes they bought me this shirt.”  Yes I am a proud dad of three awesome daughters and one awesome son.  Unfortunately, my son and his wife could not be with us on this trip.

We got parked and road the tram to the front entrance:

TramSelfie
GroupAnimalKingdom

As we were walking through Animal Kingdom, we did a group photo in front of the tree of life.  Everyone but me were pretending to be wild animals.  I played the part of animal keeper.

 

 

I don’t remember where my youngest was for this picture.  HomeTreeSelfie

We went and saw the Festival Of The Lion King show.  Afterwards two of my daughters posed with Pumba.Pumba

After the Festival Of The Lion King Show, the same two who posed with Pumba, walked with me on a walking animal safari.  We were most of the way through when it started to rain.  At first it wasn’t too bad and we were under the cover of trees.  Then it got really heavy and I had to put my DSLR away.  This is the only time on the whole trip where the weather prevented us from doing anything.  Here are a few pictures from that:

 

Initially when we went by the Dinosaur ride, partially to ride the ride and partially to say hi to Mat, the ride was closed.  We went back later and were able to go back 65 million years and retrieve the dinosaur.

DinoRide

We also got to see Chip and Dale dressed as dinosaurs dancing with kids.

ChipDaleDino

A few of us rode the Kali River Rapids ride and got a little wet in the process.  There used to be water guns near where this were taken which is why you may notice us taunting my wife and other daughter.  We didn’t find out until the end of the ride that the water guns were no longer there.

During the rain storm we decided to go on the Kilimanjaro Safari ride.  The truck has a canvas top so we were mostly protected from the rain.  There were about 11 total folks on the ride so when it came time to disembark, we asked our tour guide if we could go again.  She checked where the ride supervisor and we were able to ride again!  Here are some pictures from both times through the safari.

Finally it was time to head to Pandora.  I know that my two youngest were very excited for me to see this given my love of Avatar.  We rode the Avatar Flight of Passage and the Na’vi River Journey.  I was a little hesitant about the Flight of Passage rides as there were warnings that those with a fear of heights shouldn’t ride.  I have a fear of heights.  However it seems to only manifest itself when I am standing near a ledge.  I had absolutely NO issues with this ride.  It was AMAZING!!!  My only issue with the ride is that it was over WAY too soon.  I could have easily “rode” for another hour.

Pandora land was fantastic.  I even got my own Ikran (Mountain Banshee) with perch.

Until next time…

Paul

 








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