What could be more fun than just telling people five things that you like--without even worrying if there is any cohesiveness to your list? (I hope cohesiveness isn't important, because my five faves today are very randomly chosen, although perhaps sort of tied together because they're inspired in part by my recent travels and visits with family).
To begin with, here's a newly acquired favorite activity:
Tagging along with my pilot husband on his trips to exotic locales.
My husband has been a pilot for a major airline for about 25 years, and has been flying international trips for about 15. I never used to travel with him because: a) back in the day (before my recent conversion to jet-setter), I'd rather have a root canal without Novocaine than fly; b) we were raising our five sons, who were tied down at home by school, sports, and work schedules, and I couldn't bear the thought of leaving them behind to go off gallivanting with my main man; and c) even though the airline tickets themselves were free, we always faced the possibility of being bumped from flights and having to split up, and exhorbitant food and lodging costs for a family of seven made European jaunts something we just didn't feel we could swing during the years we were dealing with multiple Catholic school tuition fees as well as college expenses.
But our youngest son left for Notre Dame in the fall of 2011, and that December I accompanied my husband for the very first time on a working trip--to Nice. Since then, I have been to Amsterdam, Athens, Barcelona, and most recently, San Juan. And while I was in San Juan, I realized I have a brand new favorite (although before that trip, I never knew such a thing existed). I just love--
Swim-up bars at upscale, beachy resort hotels.
On my husband's layover day in San Juan (where we stayed at the Caribe Hilton, right on the beach...ah, paradise), we spent a lot of time sunning and swimming, while the palm trees swayed in the ocean breeze; and then shortly before we went up to our room to get ready for dinner, we treated ourselves to a drink at an outdoor bar where the stools are actually in the pool! I suppose I'm a back-woods country hick, but I'd never been to one of these before. And although we may have to take out a new mortgage on our house, which as of just a month or so ago we actually OWN (how DO they sleep at night, charging $12 for one drink?!), I really enjoyed my frozen Margarita. My husband's mango Daquiri was a bit of a let-down, however. (Or maybe he was just having trouble enjoying it thoroughly because it was so ridiculously expensive.) Okay then, swim-up bars: highly recommended.
My parents have a sweet little house in the country (not the home I grew up in), and I've been enjoying my stay here. My mom has some lovely things, which leads me to my next favorite--
Images of Our Blessed Mother.
My mother inherited this absolutely beautiful porcelain Hummel figurine of the Virgin Mary and Her Beloved Son from her own mother. My grandmother was deeply religious and had special devotions to both the Blessed Mother and St. Therese of Lisieux.
I could look at this all day long, it's so lovely!
The touching story behind this statue is that when my grandmother died, my mother noticed that there were some rolled-up sheets of paper in my grandmother's handwriting that had been shoved up inside of it through a hole in the bottom. Grandma had written about certain aspects of her life that caused her pain and despair, wherein she pointed out which things could be changed and which ones she had to learn to accept. She bemoaned the fact that her soul needed work; but that when it came to that, there was always something that could be done, she wrote: she could PRAY. It's obvious that she looked to the Blessed Mother for help in dealing with the difficulties she faced in life.
Some people think that Catholics "worship" statues and pictures of Mary and the saints; but of course, that is far from the truth. Images like this one of the Blessed Mother are merely beautiful reminders of our love for and trust in Her. They remind us of Her very important role as Mediatrix, and how She can intercede for us with Her Son.
There are many other interesting things in my parents' home. Such as--
People who really, REALLY like to wear t-shirts with funny sayings on them.
My father (whose nickname is "Bigfoot") recently had to have the front of his right foot amputated (after two previous surgeries to remove two of his toes, he now has none left). Here he is wearing a t-shirt that was a gift to him a few Christmases ago from his sister's equally silly husband. Considering all that he's been going through lately, the saying on the front of it is pretty apropos, don't you agree?
A couple of my sons have inherited this love of wearing silly t-shirts. My youngest son has one with this on it:
A sense of humor is absolutely essential in life, isn't it? My dad's doctor called his procedure an "extreme pedicure," the kind of joke that's right up good old Bigfoot's alley. And my husband told him that now that he's lost the front of his right foot, he should become an NFL kicker. Apparently back in 1970, Tom Dempsey of the New Orleans Saints set the NFL field goal record (63 yards), a record which has been tied in recent years. Dempsey was born without any toes on his right foot (his kicking foot), and yet he achieved this impressive milestone wearing a specially made square-toed shoe.
Which makes me think of this favorite:
It seems that for every problem in life, there is a great sports story to provide inspiration. College and professional athletes are usually born with natural God-given talent; but those who rise to the top have to go that extra mile and do what few are willing to do. They teach us about drive and hard work and discipline. They show us how it is possible to overcome even debilitating physical challenges if we're determined enough.
For instance, I give you kicker Tom Dempsey's famous foot.
When reporters asked Dempsey if he thought he had an unfair advantage because of the shape of his kicking foot, he shot back, "Unfair eh? How 'bout you try kickin' a 63 yard field goal to win it with 2 seconds left an' yer wearin' a square shoe, oh, yeah and no toes either." I love this guy. I love the way sports can bring out the fighting spirit and produce successful athletes like him. He never let his limitations get in the way. He was a kicker without toes, and yet he became a household name in the world of professional football. Hopefully, as my dad goes through the process of healing and then learning how to get about with a third of his foot missing, he'll draw inspiration from Tom Dempsey's story.
Okay, that's it for me. I meant to get on board with all the other Five Favorites linker-uppers hours and hours ago...but Bigfoots who are adjusting to little foots need lots of TLC and attention. If you've got the time, head on over there now and join the party!