Today was a rest day, so I used the entire morning to figure out some travel plans for this year. When Jerry was working at that other job last year, he was making really good money, and we decided to sock some away for a big family vacation in 2014. The only "vacations" we've gone on as a family over the years have been to visit my brother or sister, or a few days in a rental house with my parents. The kids are at the age now where I think it would be really fun to take them on a nice vacation. Jerry and I would love it, too, of course ;)
The original plan was to go to Orlando, Florida, and go to a couple of the Disney parks. I was there when I was (I think) just 2 years old; and again at 15. But I've never been a big Disney fan, so I haven't had a desire to go back. I guess I just thought it's someplace that every kid should go at some point, so we figured we'd plan our vacation there.
We saved quite a bit of money for this vacation, but I was still completely shocked when I looked up the costs and saw that it was way over our budget. I know there are cheaper ways of doing it, but the point of this vacation was to enjoy it without worrying about money. When I priced it all out on the Disney trip planner, it was about $8,000 for a week. My kids really aren't all that interested in Disney, either, so I started to wonder if maybe the theme parks weren't the best idea. Even Chandler thought it sounded a bit much...
I started looking at Disney cruises, which were definitely cheaper. My sister loves to travel, and has been on quite a few cruises, so I asked her about it. She said that we could do a Carnival cruise for about 1/3 of the price of the Disney cruise, and it would be just as fun--especially since we're not "Disney people". After seeing the cost of the Orlando vacation, I couldn't believe how cheap the Carnival cruises were--about $800-1500 for 5-7 days (plus airfare).
My sister suggested one other idea, which was an all-inclusive resort in Punta Cana. Just hearing those words made me think, "Too fancy for us!" but when I checked out the website and reviews, I got a little googly-eyed, and I think that the resort will be what we end up choosing. It wouldn't cost much more than a cruise, and it would definitely be a lot less expensive than the Disney trip. It also looks like more fun--for Jerry and I, as well as the kids. And the fact that it's all-inclusive makes it much less stressful to plan.
Our tentative plan is to go the first week of December. It was kind of overwhelming while looking at all the stuff to do and places to stay. I think my sister was a travel agent in a former life, because she's awesome at that stuff, so I'm going to have her help me come up with a good plan. I'm excited to book the trip, so that we have something to really look forward to (and dream about while we're stuck inside our house with the temp at -20 outside!).
Yesterday, I got an e-mail from someone I "met" on a site called Open Diary many years ago. In 2000, I worked a 10:00 pm-3:00 am shift as a dispatcher in college, and I used to get really bored in a little office by myself. I went on Bored.com one night, which had a bunch of games, random facts, and links to sites to pass time. One of them was a site called Open Diary, which was a blogging site (only I don't think "blog" was a mainstream word yet). It was basically a place where you could keep a public diary, as well as read others' diaries, and leave notes (comments) on them.
It was a very small community (nothing like blogs are now!), but I wrote there from 2000 until 2011, before I started Runs for Cookies. I mostly wrote about my struggles with weight loss, all the ups and downs I had over the years; and eventually, I documented my success at losing 125 pounds. Through all those years, I had a handful of readers, and it was a very tight-knit community. Almost like a family! Everybody on OD knew everybody else.
But in 2011, I decided to start completely fresh. My life was a lot different than it ever was in the past--I was at a "normal" weight for the first time in my life, and I'd become a runner, which was taking up quite a bit of my time and thoughts. I decided to switch over to Blogger, for a change of scenery (and because it was much easier to upload pictures to posts than on OD). I started Runs for Cookies, which has become an enormous part of my life, but a piece of my heart has always stayed with Open Diary.
I never closed my account there (but I "hid" my diary from public). I still checked out the site a couple of times a week, to read about my old "friends" on OD. And fast-forward to yesterday, when I got an e-mail from Melissa, telling me that OD will be shut down within a week. She suggested that I download my diary while I still could, which I'd done.
When I first read the e-mail, I didn't think that it was that big of a deal that OD was closing up shop, but today when I went to the site, it just seemed so empty... everybody writing good-bye posts, and leaving info on how to find them when OD shuts down. I went to my diary one last time in order to delete it, and it was so hard to make myself click the button. Eleven years of my life were written there! Even though I saved a copy, it just felt sad to type in my name and see "The diary name you have entered does not exist".
Anyway, as a little tribute to OD, here is the first thing I wrote in my Open Diary:
"I have struggled through my entire life with a weight problem. It all started in 4th grade when one of my classmates nicknamed me 'Shamu' and the whole class started calling me that. I've tried diet after diet. This year is my freshman year of college. I've heard of the 'Freshman 15' but I gained the 'Freshman 30'. When I stepped on the scale at 205 pounds this year, I decided this is it. I'm not going to deal with it anymore. And here I am. That was about 2 months ago. I've decided to get ready to lose weight by deciding how I'm going to do it. I want to do it the right way this time, so that it stays off. Since then, however, I've lost about 10 pounds from drinking water instead of soda. That's all I've really done... I'm looking forward to beginning my 'new beginning'."Of course, that didn't "stick" ;) I lost a little and gained a lot, and lost some more, and gained even more. Up and down until 2009, when I finally made the changes that I was willing to stick with forever! I'm so grateful that I've kept diaries/blogs all these years, because it preserved so many memories of things that I'd forgotten about until skimming through a few posts today. When I was a kid, I always kept a handwritten diary, which I would later destroy so that nobody could read it; I really wish I still had those! They'd certainly be good for some laughs, if nothing else ;)