Sunday, March 18, 2012


Today is affectionately known as Rose Sunday in the Anglican church.  It is a happy day in the midst of the rather somber period leading up to Jesus' death.

There are several "theories" about why this day exists on the calendar, but only one church historian/commentator said something I thought was crazy-funny-strange:  this day is like Mardi Gras in the church.

Not sure I would have used THAT analogy but it did drive home the point.  And nobody pulled up their shirt in church for beads, so all was good.

Since I'm into transparency about my Lenten Weight Watchers journey, ya'll need to know I was faithful to my diet on vacation.  And I don't mean a little good.  I mean REALLY good.  Passed up Baskin Robbins FOUR FREAKIN' TIMES good.

In fact, I'm so proud of my self that I'm recapping all four adventures now.  Feel free to skip to the bottom of the page.  But, I'll be damned if I'm not taking credit for this!

Visit #1.  Went into the store with the gang and resisted the urge to get anything, even a little taste.  Mike looked at me and said "I NEVER would have done this to you, though I was DYING when I saw that Baskin Robbins sign."  To which I wanted to respond "Who's DYING in this scenario?" as I contemplated leaving the store without a scoop of Pistachio Almond and Jamocha Almond Fudge for the first time in my unrestrained life.

Visit #2.  Decided to stay in the car and drink one of my special coconut sparkling waters and eat carrots.  CARROTS.  Blech.  Should have just had the drink.  Carrots may be sweet, but.....

Visit #3.  Got out of the car and went into WalMart instead, telling Mike to run through Sonic and get me a Diet Dr. Pepper with vanilla.  I may have been a saint up to this point, but something had to give.

Visit #4.  Cleaned the car while everyone else went inside.  Kept me busy until we could head back to Sonic for another happy hour, diet drink.

Now, I wouldn't be completely honest if I didn't admit that I used 12 points on an iced shortbread cookie at Panera Bread today.  Those of you who know Weight Watchers just gasped.  Those of you who don't:  that's half the daily allowance of points.

But, here was my reasoning:   this was something I really wanted.  Actually, probably, more than the ice cream.  And Sundays, in Lenten time, are "free" days.  I had waited and patiently passed up tempting things to get to Sunday.  And, frankly, I enjoyed every last bite of that cookie with my coffee.

Now that I have 12 fewer points to spend this week, I can either ramp up the exercise or just be really controlled until Wednesday, when I weigh in again.  But, forcing myself to wait was good.

Now that we are past the three weeks point, I think I'm on a roll.  Especially after passing the ultimate ice cream challenge.

And, in case you are curious but haven't figure it out...I was the one who suggested ice cream the first family isn't THAT jerky unless you consider that the other three times I was just along for the ride.

Lest I sound like an unsolicited Christmas letter, here is your warning:  I'm about to talk about our vacation.  And, if you didn't really have a vacation over Spring Break or yours turned out crappy or you just get jealous hearing about other people's breaks, close your browser so you don't get peeved at me.

Our "surprise" Galveston/Houston vacation started off on a rocky note:  the room I had so carefully reserved a couple of months prior was unavailable.  Yes, the two-bedroom unit that meant Mike and I could have some "couple time".  The two-bedroom unit that has previously allowed us to sequester the jackwipe(s) of the day who are (pick one) overtired, overstimulated, overfed.  The two-bedroom unit that creates a forced nap zone, without using the word "nap".  Because when you've given up naps but haven't yet had your first real job out of college, you just don't appreciate the value of a good daytime snooze.  Even when you desperately need one or your parents might just lose their ever-lovin'-minds. 

So, the prospect of five people staying in a "studio" was just unappetizing.  Mike took over, wielding his "silver elite" status (the result of a few business trips), and asked the nice person behind the desk to please find us a comparable room at a sister hotel at no additional charge.

Twenty minutes later, as we waited in the lobby and I realized it had been way.too.long since I'd had a proper WW snack, a two-bedroom unit magically appeared.  I'm guessing our lucky leprechaun came a few days early and sprinkled pixie dust all over the computers.  I don't care how it happened, I'm just glad it did.

Now that we were back on track, I asked about the passes to NASA that came included with the price of the room.  Blank stares.  Lots of "UMs".  And an admission that they had no clue that I had reserved that package.  And a promise to "look into it and get right back to us" right after the question "And what time are you planning on leaving in the morning?"

I didn't bother, in that moment, to mention that night two included free Kemah passes.

Somehow, both Mike and I remained calm and positive and determined not to blow a gasket.  Which is really a miracle considering the entirety of my life I've had the propensity to use sarcasm and yelling as a means to an end.

But, calmness, in the end, is what I think totally saved us.  I'll have to remember the adage "you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar" the next time we find ourselves in the same position.

The next morning, we still didn't have passes.  But, we had a promise to reimburse us for tickets.  So, off we went to NASA.  And that is when God shined down on us.

Houston has this very cool program called a CityPass that allows admission to several venues, all of the family type.  We ponied up $39 per adult and $29 per child and we had admission to NASA, the Downtown Aquarium, Houston Museum of Natural Science, the Houston Zoo OR The Health Museum, the Children's Museum OR the Museum of Fine Arts.  Plus, we had a coupon for a $5/ticket discount to Kemah!  Admission alone to NASA was about $24 per adult and $20 per child, so this was a no-brainer.

Buying these passes literally meant we were on the go all day, every day.  Our trip budget originally included NASA and Kemah with our hotel freebies.  From there, we were going to the beach (free) a couple of times and maybe to Moody Gardens.  But, instead, we hit the beach AND added trips to the zoo and the aquarium before we ran out of time.

And, much to Mike's abject horror, I talked to complete strangers* and paid-it-forward with the remaining passes we couldn't use.  A sweet family of four hopefully was able to enjoy the two museums we didn't have time to hit.

As the boys all said:  Best.Spring.Break.Ever.

I couldn't agree more.
And, finally, a shout-out to the amazing Rachel, who took care of the Nowell Zoo while we were gone.  Our babies were really, really, over-the-top happy we were home, but they were also doted over the entire time we were gone.

I haven't gotten up the nerve to tell the dogs that their twice daily walks were courtesy of a juicy check I wrote for services rendered.  And, since no one is writing ME a check?  Hasta la vista regular dog walks.

Unless I find the energy to walk off those shortbread cookies points.....

*My husband has some form of "stranger danger" left over from his formative years that renders him nervous when I try to spread kindness by speaking to someone he doesn't recognize.

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