Istanbul, Turkey - Where the Europe Meets Asia

What an awesome day!

Today we arrived in Istanbul, Turkey. It has been said that if you lay a map of the world out as if the world was flat then Istanbul would be the center of the world (Don't know for sure, cause I ain't got a world map with me). The ship sailed out from the island of Mykonos through a narrow straight in the Aegean Sea out into the Marmaris Sea toward the port of Istanbul. I awoke this morning to the ship pulling into The Golden Horn which is the only entry by water to the Black Sea (and port access to Bulgaria, the Ukraine and Russia). I stood out on the balcony looking at the Galata Bridge which separates Europe from Asia. In fact, the city of Istanbul straddles two continents and is the narrowest crossing point between Europe and Asia. Just some little know world history facts that I found interesting.

Ron and I went on a short tour of the Sultanahmet (Blue) Mosque (its called Blue because the interior is decorated with some 20,000 delicate Iznik tiles with a shimmering blue cast), the Hagia Sophia (aka St. Sophia, the Church of Holy Wisdom - later converted to a mosque during the Ottoman Empire), and the Grand Bazaar (the largest covered market in the world boasting over 4,000 shops and has its town school, mosque, post office, banks and police station.

Before we went into the Grand Bazaar, we went to a large shop called Bazaar 54 where we learned about Turkish carpets...how to tell a hand woven rug from a machine woven, different knots tied, how the dyes are made, how long it takes to make a hand tied carpet, and more. We were then offered some apple tea...SHOPPERS BEWARE...when you are out shopping in the market, the vendors will invite you into their shop and offer you some apple tea. THIS IS NOT JUST WONDERFUL TURKISH HOSPITALITY. If you accept, you are indirectly implying that you are planning to make a purchase is the store. OH NO! I drank the apple tea. Ron and I were in the store for 2 more hours while everybody else from our tour had left to go into the Bazaar. We spent that time looking at rug after rug for the family room (Shopping Goal #1 was a handmade Turkish Rug, Shopping Goal #2 - a piece of Murano Glass from Venice). Then it was haggle time. Man is that a process. It is definitely give and take. Ron was about to walk out when the manager made a final offer that included shipping to the states if we would use another card except Amex. He was trying to get us to take it with us on the plane and even was going to provide the luggage (pulled the bag out). HELL NO! I'm not even going to mention how much, just that Ron got him down $1100 dollars from the opening price with shipping home. I even had to sign the bottom of my new rug to prove that I got the same one that I picked when it arrives in the states. After filling out all the paperwork, they give you more to drink, show you the restroom if you need it, and whisk you away to another floor of nothing but jewelry. DAMN. I looked at charms since I wanted to add another to my charm bracelet and got a really neat one in 18k gold with a glass stone that looks like an eye in the middle (it is supposed to be the evil eye and provide you luck). Here's how the haggling went...salesman says it is $100. "No way!" I say as Ron shakes his head no. "$60 sound more reasonable." "I can't go lower than $85." says the salesman. "$70 is the best I can do." I counter. He say, "Sold, to the lovely lady."....as he pulls out some Sultan Rings for me to look at. Ron is like LET'S GET OUT OF HEAR before they clean us out. We escape the jewelry floor when they try to usher us to the leather floor. HELL NO! RUN FOREST RUN. And Ron and I make a beeline for the door. We then walk down to the Grand Bazaar and you have NEVER seen a mall/bazaar anywhere like this. You can LITERALLY get lost inside (and we almost did). The vendors work the heck out of you.

It was the most fun and most exhausting time I have ever had shopping. We found gifts for Ron's Mom and my mother and as soon as that was accomplished, Ron wanted out of the Bazaar. We left just in time to see everyone closing down form afternoon prayers. I got the call to prayer on video and if I can figure out how to work my new camcorder I'll add it later. If you read this and there are no pictures, come back...I'll edit the post with the pics shortly. It costs less in Internet charges if I type an email to my blog and add pics later.
Back on the ship, we relaxed (me by the pool and Ron in the cabin), went to dinner and then watched Happy Feet at Movies Under the Stars. We are now sailing to Kusadasi, Turkey in Asia Minor where we plan a tour to Ephesus where St. Paul (my favorite Apostle) preached against the shrine build to Artemis ( the mulit-breasted goddess, symbolizing fertility). St. Paul later wrote his Letter to the Ephesians. Talk to ya.


Mykonos-A Greek Isle

This morning we arrived at the Greek Isle of Mykonos and decided to spend a few hours at the beach. Wasn't too much else to do and it was HOT. No point in being HOT by the pool when you can be hot at the beach and chill out with some beautiful scenery. The houses are all white with mostly blue doors. There are supposed to be these windmills on the hills but we didn't get to see any.

We just hung out and Ron chased the shade while I chased the sun. Ron thought the water was too cold for his liking...but it's HOT as hell baby. I finally got him in the water and he whined the whole time...something about shrinkage. He was fine once I got him fully immersed in the water and then I made him carry me around on his back...my own personal floatation device (although the girls work fine usually all by themselves).

Two things we mused about...

1. Americans have NO CONCEPT of what a real "holiday" is. Most European countries give their employees 6 weeks of vacation. Australians get 6 weeks and then every 8 years with their company the get an additional 3 months off. No wonder we (Americans) don't venture far from home. It takes too long to get anywhere outside the States and we don't have the vacation time to enjoy it. Most of the people we have spoken to on the ship are on 6 - 12 week "holiday's" and this is just 2 weeks of their journey. AMAZING. Ron and I laid there and dreamed about a time when we will be able to travel the world anytime we please without have to worry about how much vacation we have accrued. At least on my part right now.

2. What the heck is wrong with my people. There are about 10-12 black folk out of 3000 passengers and Ron and I can't get one of them to give us the time of damn day. I know I had the cooties earlier, but what gives now? This morning, I said hello to a woman I've seen around the ship and she looked at me like..."How dare you even look in my general direction?" Wow. Maybe she got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. Then at the beach, there was a family of my peeps and Ron and I swam over to them and started to strike up a conversation with he guy who was playing with a fishing net. He looked up at Ron, grunted, and went back to fishing. Ron gave him the terminator look over his Oaklys and nudged me back over to the our side of the beach. Wow. I had to give a quick sniff to make sure we weren't offending. Not sure what the issue is, but it is a DAMN SHAME.

Ron is on a mission to sample all local cuisine and insisted that we get off the beach to have a gyro. I had a local beer and watched my man eat as I gazed lovingly at his muscles. He them amuses himself by giving a gun show. When Ron is relaxed, he is absolutely hilarious. We are back on the ship, sailing for Istanbul. Ron and I both have a Hot Stone Massage. Gotta Run. Big shopping day tomorrow in the Grand Bazaar.

Renewal of Vows

Wednesday, we were at sea, so it was a very relaxing day. I went to a Pilate's class that turned out to be a lot harder working those core muscles (they are under there somewhere) than I thought it would be. Laid out by the pool and watched a Movie at Sea (Click)...it was amazing how good you could see and hear the movie while getting your black on, and then went to the spa for a seaweed wrap before the main event......

The Renewal of Vows Ceremony
Ron and I got all gussied up and went to the chapel and had a beautiful (yet quick) ceremony recommitting ourselves to each other. Ron called it renewing his contract for another 20 and the terms were tougher this time. He said I wasn't so naive this time and know where all the money is. He is just hilarious....but oh so right. The rest of the evening we felt like movie stars as we walked around the ship. Everybody wanted to talk, take pictures etc. It was a lot of fun and with the girlfriends hanging out the front of the dress (picked by my daughter Erin). I was oogled, whistled at...and several men told Ron that he got a beauty. My Diva Ego (Unique-qua) is good for at least a month. It was a great and romantic evening.


Naples & Pompeii

Arrived in Naples today. Our tour to Pompeii was not until the afternoon so Ron went to the gym and I decided to go "exploring" downtown Naples BY MYSELF for a little while. "LUCY, YOU GOT SOME SPLAININ TO DO." Yeah, Yeah. Well, I'm a tad crazy and oblivious to my surrounding on occasion, but I embarked on my expedition.

There were a few heart pounding moments as I tried to cross a street that had cars moving on it like on I95. Just step out there, just be bold. RIGHT. I waited for a native to make the move and ran with them. I make across the main highway and just start walking. I stop at a corner and look around to see if I can see some "shopping" interests. This man walks up to me...OH HELL...and asks me if I speak English - yep -"You looka like you wanna shop" Si. Bueno. You mussa go uppa that way to the dome, eh, Galleria. You finda shoppa there." Grazi, I may and hustle uppa that way to shoppa.

Beautiful atrium style mall, with gorgeous Italian designers and what not. HOWEVER, this mall was not for the thicker girls. I'm looking through these beautiful silk blouses...size 4, 6, 6, 8, 4, 0. On another rack...sm, sm, sm, sm, xsm, sm sm xxsm. Excusi, I say. Do you have a 12 or a Large. It was if I had slapped the woman in the face. No - was her clipped answer. Store after store - the same. I marched my fat ass right outta there. Shoppa uppa that way was no longer fun. I started my trek back to the ship to meet Ron for our tour and stumbled on a shop that sold all variations of Limoncello. HEAVEN on earth. The lady gave me two samples (cream and regular) that she took out of the freezer and it was great. Bought some. Mom get ready to drink & bake.

I make it back to the ship and Ron is like..."You okay?" I asked, "Baby, were you worried?" Ron replies, "Not really, I figured if you didn't come back in time for the tour, you were either chasing your mugger or hit by a bus...and our insurance is current." Thanks Dear.

We went off to Pompeii and it was very Discovery Channel and whatnot. Ron seemed to like it. We did stop at a store that did handmade sandals while you wait. I couldn't resist getting a pair made for my fledgling Diva Cara. She loves shoes at 3 years old and I got her a pair of silver and rhinestone studded sandals, made right before my eyes. She's gonna love em.

Well, off to bed. At sea day tomorrow. Pilates at 8am, Sanctuary from 9-until 2pm. Spa at 2pm. Renewal of Vows at 4:30pm and Formal Night at Sea w/Captains Champagne Party starting at 6pm. WHEW! Big day tomorrow. Girls gotta rest.

Views from Rome


Escape to Rome

Ron and I are up at 5am ready to bust out of confinement. By 6am we were in the buffet line for breakfast. We spend some time exploring the ship trying to get our bearings since we barely know where anything is, and the go to the meeting point for our "Rome on Your Own" tour. My know it all self figured that since I've been here before, I can show Ron around. What the hell was I thinking.

We go yo the gangway and stick our card iin the machine to check off the ship. Can you believe that a small alarm went off with a message about Ron and I. This burly security guard reads the message and passes us through. I guess it said we were clared of medical isolation otherwise there was going to be some major drama....even though you DO NOT want to mess with the security team on a cruise ship. On each and every cruise we have been on, the security teams all appear to be from India from some kind of warrior caste. Our TSA need to take some serious lessons from these people. Even the women look intimidating. I didn't wan to get billy clubbed by one of them.

Anyway, I didn't realize that it was gonna take 1 1/2 hours to get to the Vatican. We get to the drop off point and we have 5 hours to see the entire city of Rome. It took my mother and I 4 days. We hustle from St Peters square (Ron's comment - that's nice), to the Novana (it was under repair), to the Pathenon (Ron wants to know why there' a hole in the ceiling and what the big deal), to Trevi Fountain (Ron would not do the coin thing), finally to the Spanish Steps. We had our portrait done at the top of the steps and then we walked a few blocks over to the Westin Excelsior (we knew we could get a taxi there). Whiile standing in the lobby of this beautiful hotel we notice that Pfizer (my former employer) is having their VPMC award trip - a bit of irony.

Ron announces he don't want to see no more monuments, he wants Italian pizza. We hop a taxi back near the meeting point and have a wonderful pizza and beer. My ass is gettin broader by the very second. Alas.

I did find a small shop in a side street and bought Erin a beautiful handmade leather purse...she is gonna flip. I also picked up some items to give to my friends. Not tellin...I've got 9 more days of shoppin for my peeps AND of couse mi and mi casa. I got Jordan some new bling.

Back on the ship, we go to dinner and then club hopped to map out a party plan. After some fun in Naples, we are lined up for Ballroom Blitz (gotta work those dance lessons), followed by Motown Hour, and then finish the evening with the 80's Dance Party. Freedom has its moments.

No pictures cause the wireless is down on the ship. Until it gets back up, I have to type these notes out on Ron's crackberry.

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Day 2 of Captivity

OMG- you have no idea how crazy I am sitting in the cabin right now - day 2 of incarceration. Even if it is a suite w/balcony (pics later-I can't send them from rons blackberry), it is still torture with the imminent threat of being disembarked permantly lurks over your head. They call and check on you (making sure you are STILL not having symptoms), everytime I open the door, Roberto, is standing there with this shyt eating grin on his face...waitingg for me to violate the quarentine. Every now and then I open the door just so I can slam it in his face. Like it makes any difference to him as long as I don't cross the hermetically sealed threshold-sicko. I have watched every movie on the ship TV twice over, slept, ate like a pig, and being generally miserable. Tonigt I'm planning on ordering a bottle of wine just to drink myself into oblivion hopiing the time til 6am (when our captivity ends) will come quickly.

Ron finally awoke from his drug induced stupor to have an intelligent conversation. The part where he starts pshyco analyzing the situation loooking for the rainbow (and he would find great qualities in Attilla the Hun) makes me a tad insane, but then he can be downright hilarious. I'm not mad at him anymore but I told him he had 2 days of absolutely nothing - just the way he likes it- which means if I so much as hear a snivel out of him for the next 10 days, then it is gonna be a swift "crackow" to the back of his head. "You're my vacation slave now." If I say climb to the top of the Colloseum, then I best not even see his eyes look askance. Not a peep mister.

Ron wanted to add a few of his comments to the blog about our captivity...
1. After 30 hours of captivity, we decided to stop feeling sorry for ourselves and go out into the yard (the balcony) and amuse ourselves with a few hours of watching the deck hands practice "man overboard" drills with the tender. Only problem is, they keep running over the life ring, so they save the dummy but he is either has a concussion or a broke neck. Our situation could be worse, Lisa, we could be the dummy. (See what I mean about psycho babble)
2. No matter what size your suite is (100 sq ft or 330 sq ft like ours) there is still a 3 ft door you can't get through on pain of death or thrown off the ship at the next port.
3. Threats from the senoir doctor do have a nullifying effect on your attitude problem, and yet, threats of legal action from my lawyer will get them to clean your room in a timely manner by the hazmat team. See, Lisa, a carefully placed threat does produce results more than a hizzy fit. (I'm bout to put my foot in your ass). Ron's mantra..."Don't make me get on my blackberry and bring down the rath.."
4. I know why you can't get the ship doctor to come to your cabin...cause women like my wife would have hurt a mf. He'd have come down to our cabin and said some crazy shyt bout putting her off the ship, and she would have opened a no. 10 size can of whoopass on him. They probly learned it messin with someone before. Somebody has gotton huurtt before and that's why they only check on you over the phone. Not cause your contagious, but because the staff might get sucker punched by an irate black woman.

(As a side note, there are 3000 passesngers on this cruise ship and so far I have only counted 4 African American - or black people in general - on board including us. WHERE ARE MY PEOPLES? Ron says they are vacationing in the Caribbean and they don't give a rats ass bout no Europe.
THEY (THEM) ran from Europe to explore and conqure some shyt, picked up some brothers and sisters along the way, took us to the knew world that THEY claimed was theirs, and made us make it habitable for THEM for free. Welcome home. Ron added dor effect...Why in the hell do black folk want to go to Europe to see where THEY came from and THEIR ruins and shyt. Black folk don't give a damn bout THOSE peoples, THEY history and stuff so why should black folk spend a small fortune to subsidize THEY shyt. I'm just pllayin devils advocate babe. He's got a point. So the question remains...why the hell are we on this ship, I ask. Ron mischieviously looks at me over the top of his glasses and says "cause my half white woman wife wanted to go get some "culture" and see how her white half conqured the world. He just slays me sometimes.)

Anyway, we are sittin out in the yar killin time... Ron has visions of gradure of how we can kill 2 hours. I'm willing to at least try.

Tommorrow we bust outta her and are off to run the streets of Rome.

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I Would Like to Declare a Medical Emergency

...And wish to GOD I hadn't.
After a wonderful embarkation day, we go to dinner, do the lifeboat drill and go to a Welcome Aboard Show. Just as we are about to pull out of port, I start to feel sick to my stomach. Rut Row. I toss and turn all night long dealing with a bout of diarrhea when about 3am I upchuck my entire dinner. Whew. I feel so much better. Must have been something I ate. Unfortunately, must have been something we both ate cause Ron was sick too and lost his cookies around 6am. Ron insisted I call the ship doctor "cause it hurt"...no shyt Sherlock...he hasn't thrown up in about 20 years and he said he felt like he was having a heart attack. Okay, whatever.

I call the medical service. It takes them an hour to get here and Ron and I are abiut ready to eat some breakfast...we are feeling better see. NOPE. You are a nogo at this station. Mounds of paperwork and we are told that we are quarantined for 24 hours. DAMN. No problem. We can do a day. They will refund us for our tour in Mareille. About 10 hours later, another person calls to tell us "oh no...we are sorry but you will be in isolation for 48 hours. BULLSHYT! "We are sory, but if you don't' comply then we will disembark you at the next port. I snapped. You are telling me that I am confined to my stateroom for 48 hours. Yep.

What is relly pissing me off is that they treat you like a leper while in isolation. It took Ron threatening the Purser to get someone to clean our stateroom. It took another threatening phone call to get them to allow us to eat something other than broth. We can't get anybody to speak with us on the phone, let alone come to the room to check us out. They just confine you to your room and leave you there. Screw youm if you are caught outside your staterom, they will throw you off the ship. That guy how spread TB across the world was treated better than we are. It doesn't matter that people come in and out of the room without gloves or masks, touchin shytm if we are SOOO mfn contagious, then why aren't those people quarantined too? Everbody is so mfn worried that we are going to spread some damn disease, but they don't give a rats ass that Paco was just in my room delivering inedible food and taking away trays that we touched. What about the damn nurse that treated us wiithout a mask or gloves...is she quarantined? HELL NO. She's running around the whole damn ship giving out shots that allegedly keep you from throwing up, but is really some kind of knock out juice in a syringe to keep you from leaving your stateroom. After my shot, I was passes out til 4pm. BEEYATCH.

Right now I am going bat freakin crazy. I donajt know how I am supposed to sit inthis room another whole mfn day while everyone is gallivanting around Florence. I just want to scream. Ron doesn't seem to mind at all. This is his kind of frakin vacation. He just sits around sleeping and reading about the port he is SOOO freakin glad he doesn't have to walk around. Not a complaint out of himm I HATE HIM!!!

If I had known that we we going to have 2 days of the cruise flushed down the toilet literally and figuativelly, I would have never called the bastards. I am obviously not that mfn contagious since they got nurses and staff running in and out of here and they don't get thrown in isolation. SCREW EM! The very second this is over, I am out of this cabin and I'm gonna run amok on this ship...touching EVERYTHING.

I feel fine and am not harboring some disaster at sea. Perhaps if they treated us more like passengers and not lepers, I wouldn't be so angry. I hate the entire ship staff, I hate
Ron and his silent indifference, I hate this ship and the way they selectively apply their policy.

I'm gonna drink this champagne that came with breakfast and pass out. Maybe I'll be calmer tomorrow...but I seriously doubt it.

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Welcome to the Emerald Princess

We made it aboard! Rumor has it that 200 passengers (I think that number is a little high) didn't make it - I think it was several though - as Ron and I watched from our balcony as a taxi came about 100 miles an hour and dropped a couple right as the ship was pulling up the anchor. They barely made it.

We had a relaxing day of embarkation. Scheduled our spa appointments, signed up for spin and pilates classes, made arrangements for our renewal of vows ceremony and just layed around while the crew tried to upsell you on everything from unlimited soda to private access to the "Sanctuary" and "Thermal Therapy Spa" They got Ron on it all...he doesn't drink so unlimited soda was right up his alley, they had him on the tour of the "Sanctuary" when they told him that no kids under 18 could enter the private pool deck and that when he noticed that they had unlimited shade, and the heated stone therapy chairs had him as soon as his back hit one. SUCKER. Don't get me wrong now, I didn't turn down a thing.

Ron is already in the bed, now that he realized that this is an European Cruise and he would have to walk and stuff.

Time for some relaxation in the cabin. Talk to you from France tomorrow.


Getting There...

Ron and I wrapped up the house, made some last minute notes to everyone, loaded up the company car (don't want to leave the H3 sitting around for 2 weeks - heaven forbid), and drove to Philly - the airport we were leaving from. Everything was uneventful. I did have to listen to Ron try to close shop on his Crackberry, but all in all the drive was uneventful.

One thing that was decided was that Economy Class is just no way to live. It is a way to exist, but not a way to live. Unfortunately, Ron and I have to exist in the Ecomnomy lane right now, but make no mistake - I did everything in my DIVA power to get us upgraded to Business or First Class (BOOKED SOLID) using my Dividend miles. SUCKS. Business/First Class has their own line to check in, their own line to go through security; they board first and they are drinking before I even get to my seat. SUCKS. It is just no way to live. Well, I immediately asked about the return flight and so far there are plenty of seats to upgrade to but we have to wait until 24 hours before the flight to upgrade (don't want to give away the seats to upgraders if they can get a full fare passenger). I am SOOOO on it.

We load up on the plane - IN ECOMOMY - with the rest of civilization and Ron is eyeing some empty seats arcross the aisle - he wants to spread out. He finally moves over to the seats cause other passengers are also making moves. Possession is 9/10ths of the law and Ron is a big guy and looks like the terminator with those Maui Jims on. We are already about 20 min late into departure so Ron and I strike up a converstaion with 2 ladies (I think they are a couple) across the aisle from me and in front of Ron's new seats. They are going on the cruise as well - celebrating Gretchens 40th Birthday and Meileen's 50th birthday. Ask me who you think is running things. Anyway, nice ladies...we are joking around, killin' time and Gretchen asks Ron to help with a bag and she SEE's HIS MUCSLCES. Why are people insistant on touching my merchandise. So she rubs his arm and comments on how soft and smooth his skin is (Yeah, his mandingo will set you back straight girl friend) and then Ron throws FUEL on the fire by flexing his guns. I thought Gretchen was going to come back over to the man side. Ron tells me later that was his intention.

Finally, this family of 4 comes rushing onto the plane (Dad, son and 2 blond barbies - in tears) and are told to find any empty seats. I move over with Ron and give the teen age vampire slayers our seats, the dad sits in the row in front of Gretchen and Meileen and the 20 something son goes to the back to find a seat. NO HAPPENING. The only open seat is one that was paid for by a woman for her baby. She wasn't givin it up (I don't blame her - I wouldn't want Cara sitting on my lap for 6 hours either). The son comes to our area and tells his Dad that he will catch the next flight and hook up with them in Barcelona. He is calm and cool, the girls are crying and Dad is giving him phone numbers and money so he make arrangements. All of a sudden, the guy in the seat next to the Dad says he is in no rush, he'll take the next flight - keep the family together. Our section of the plane erupts in applause. I almost started crying myself. People were hugging this stranger. That moment of random acts of kindness is so rare. UNBELIEVEABLE.

We take off. Two glasses of wine & some sominex and I'm only able to acheive a fitfull sleep. We arrive in Barcelona ALMOST without incident. Ya'll know you can only get off the plane when they open the cottin pickin' doors RIGHT. Well, this woman's Xanax obviously wore off and she rushed the door but met a road block in my ass. No I am not moving as we are not going anywhere. She was on the verge of a major melt down when Ron snatches me back into the row to let her pass. She advanced one more row and Gretchen wasn't moving. The irony in all of this is that they deplaned from the rear and she had to go back the way she came. I thougth for sure she was going to jump from the plane.

The hotel we are in is beautiful and VERY ELEGANT. We are at Hotel 1898 on La Rambla in Barcelona. You can check it out at http://www.nnhotels.es/. Ron and I checked in and immediately went to sleep. I don't remember a damn thing. We got up around 4pm (we arrived at 1030am), got dressed (well, there was some WAY overdue action in there somewhere) and went out for a walk. We ended at this Tapas place that was recommended by the hotel concierge.
Of course, I orded for Ron. He was not versed in what Tapas were. Yeah right. Anyway, we ordered a variety and just watched the crowd walk by. It was very relaxing and Ron even cracked a few onliners that I can not even imagine repeating here.

Well, we are going to get some shut eye and get ready to get on the ship tomorrow.
Buenas Noches! (I think)


The Night Before...

The night before any long trip is always the worst. The day drags on and on and then there is the issue of packing. Packing for a long trip has always been an ordeal and I finally invested in a travel scale to weigh my bags (don't want to really pay $25 cause my bag weighs 51 lbs).

After all of these years of traveling, I still have not mastered the art of packing light. I just don't think it is scientifically possible. How in the world do you only take 2 pairs of shoes on a 12 day cruise. There are outfits & events to consider...2 formal nights, shore excursions, spa days, pool/beach events. Narrowing it down to a few outfits and coordinating shoes (an OF COURSE, the appropriate undergarments - the girls must be appropriately harnessed or somebody could get killed). And then there is the jewelry to consider.

The worst part is the hair and toiletries issues. Since I recently had my hair highlighted, I had to go and get some new HIB (hair I bought...so when a rude person asks you "is that your hair." you can answer, "yes, darling, I have a receipt) cause I just can't be bothered to press and curl every day. HIB is a miracle of modern science and sisters who travel. 15 total days away from home...there is body lotion, wash, hair care, makeup, etc. How to minimize all this down to something that doesn't weigh a ton. DAMN.

Now I am sitting here watching Ron pack. There has to be supervision or I'm not sure what all I would find and we are not (at least he isn't) gonna buy a new wardrobe along the way in the Mediterranean. There are other things we are gonna HAVE to purchase.

Anyway, we leave tomorrow for Barcelona, Spain, which is where the ship will be leaving from. Be sure to check in as there is always bound to be some travel drama/adventures. Friends who have traveled with us before call it "The Bonus Package...The Steptoe Entertainment Package".

Talk soon.

The Night Before...

The night before any long trip is always the worst. The day drags on and on and then there is the issue of packing. Packing for a long trip has always been an ordeal and I finally invested in a


Happy Father's Day!

[We're] everthing [we] are...Because you loved us!

Just wanted to give a shout out to my knight and my babies daddy! Happy Father's Day. Everytime I hear this song (Because You Loved Me) it makes me think of Ron. Not only is he a great husband, but an awesome "PopPop" too. Especially since most of the kids he is raising as his own aren't his, but my sisters. He not only brought two of my sisters kids into his house, he adopted them - gave them his name - and raises them as his own flesh and blood. WOW! I just sit in awe sometimes, watching him 15 years after raising the oldest girl, playing with the youngest (3yr old). We are currently in a battle over pooping on the potty. Ron sat in Cara's room while she sat on her "royal throne" for almost an hour. His patience was rewarded with the requisite poop IN the potty (not our pants). He is definitly in the "Real Father's, Real Men" category.

I love him bunches and hope he has a wonderful "PopPop" day. We are waiting for him to get back from sitting outside since 8am this morning watching Jordan play in a lacrosse tournament. Got some ribs and chicken on the barbie and a tall cold glass of Hawaiian Punch (he doesn't drink) waiting on him.

Hope all my blog friends & family are having a great Father's Day too!


Foxy Mama

Ashley (on the left & pronounced Ash-eh-lee by Cara) celebrated her birthday at Gallery Bar & Lounge last Friday. Ron and I went down after having dinner with some friends to hang out for an hour or so with Ashley and Erin.

I have to say that I sure do look foxy with the young folk. My favorite part is when some of Erin's man friends strike up a conversation with me and Erin saunters over to inform them..."Ya know that's my momma." I just love to see the looks of the face my gentlemen callers...especially when I point out..."and yes, that's my husband of 20 years over there..." All that exfoiliating, hydrating, expensive makeup, and spa treatments is paying off. WHOO HOO.

I've been saying it all this time....Beauty can be Enhanced through Finance.


The Frustration of Leadership

I was asked to become President of the DC/Baltimore Chapter of the National Sales Network almost 2 years ago. The Chapter has made a huge comeback thanks to the dedicated efforts of a few people on the Executive Committee. HOWEVER, every time we have an event coming up I agonize over why people won't RSVP, won't show up, won't participate - WHATEVER. It is so damn frustrating.

We had an incredible Success Experience last month (Men of Valor-Successful Men in Sales) with 3 very powerful, incredibly successful Regional Directors & Vice Presidents and only 25 people showed up. We have over 100 members and a distro list of 500 and I can only get 25 people to come out to hear about the experiences of three successful Black Men. WHAT GIVES?

This weekend (June 16th), we are having a Sales Excellence Academy & Conference Kickoff at Dave & Busters. Daniel Grissom from PhD in Results is coming to do the workshop and then we are hosting a social event to kickoff registration for our National Conference in September. How many RSVP's do you think I have? 15. I'm bout to go crazy! Why - cause I'm bout tired of hearing about how we (Black people) need to network more, we need to invest in our personal development, we need to be more involved but then those same whiners don't show up to nutin. What's a Diva President to do?

Well, I just had to get my frustration off my chest. A lot of work goes into putting together a calendar of events that meets the needs of the chapter AND the needs of our sponsors. Lord have mercy. Get me through the conference without getting an eye tick.


Happy 20th Wedding Anniversary

When you've been blessed...it feels like heaven - Pattie Labelle

Ron and I recently celebrated the actual date (20 years previously) of our graduation from West Point over a week ago (May 24th). A wonderful time of remembrance and introspection. Well, today Ron and I are celebrating one more milestone...Our 20th Wedding Anniversary

As I reflect on 20 years of marriage to the same awesome guy, the journey has been wonderful. Every promise, every dream thus far has come true - a man of his word. I pray that he feels the same of me.

We are about to embark on a cruise to celebrate and will renew our commitment to each other en route. What a great year to celebrate - 20 Year Reunion - 20 Years of Marriage. WOW!

I put together the following video slide show to honor Ron and our marriage. I hope you enjoy this short glimpse into our life:

Steptoe 20 Year Anniversary


Which Flower Are You?

I am a

What Flower
Are You?

"Mischief is your middle name, but your first is friend. You are quite the prankster that loves to make other people laugh."