Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The final entry

No, not the last you'll hear from me (you wish), but the last on this blog. I'll be keeping it posted as there are some things on here I want people to be able to get to, like the eulogy for Pops.

But it just didn't seem right to have anymore,as that is no longer, as they say, an operative term.

So, the new site - Two Dogs, Two Ladies and Me - can be found at

Join us on the new site for our new adventures!



Monday, September 03, 2007

Another year gone by...

So, another year goes by before I post here. I find that in a nutshell, I suck at doing these updates.

Since the last update, you might find some changes here. Like the title. Stacey moved out at the end of January, and Carolyn and I have been making a go at it. We're doing great. The picture at the left is of Melissa. She's the new lady in my life, and she's great. She's got two great dogs, Maggie and Oliver, and a great sense of humor. She loves Carolyn, Carolyn loves her, and we love each other.

The house we bought at the end of last year is up for sale. But likely, it will be a short sale, as the housing market here has gone in the dumper. The same model of home we bought in November is being sold new for $20k below the price we bought it, and there are builder incentives to go with that. The market is bad out here if you're selling. But if you're in the market and have the means, there are some steals to be had.

Work is going well. I'm running the poker room at the Flamingo, but that may be changing soon as they may need my skills elsewhere. Should know more about that in a few days.

Carolyn is doing well in pre-K, with the normal 4-year-old stuff, she's smarter than ever, and a challenge to keep ahead of.

We recently went camping for the first time, and had a great four night stay in the Sherwin Creek Campground near Mammoth Lakes. Check out a review of the campground here.

All-in-all, things are going ok. With a little luck, everything will be turned around by the end of the year, and we can celebrate a happy new year (and Carolyn's birthday!)

Monday, June 19, 2006

Welcome to Summer

As usually happens, I start looking for something to do, and realize there is much I should have been doing already. Of course, making entries on this blog is one of those things that gets left behind.

But this time, the entry has a dual purpose. It's not just to give you an update, but to ask for your assistance with a little project we've been undertaking. Well, not exactly a "little" project.

For those who haven't seen her in a while, here is the latest picture of Stacey:

As you can see, Stacey is down to a very svelte, slim version of herself, after months of hard work and dedication to diet and exercise. No gastric bypass, just determination to lose the weight. about 200 lbs.

After all this weight loss, the result is a slimmer, healthier Stacey. But there is one side effect of the drop in pounds: a whole lot of excess skin. If you're a fan of the shows on Discovery Channel that show you the cosmetic surgery procedures, you may have seen some of what I'm talking about.

So, with her doctor's help, Stacey has built a case for having the skin removed surgically. Besides aesthetic concerns, the excess skin can cause rashes and other complications that require vigilant monitoring. She has presented this case to her medical insurance company, and they have rejected it, the most recent rejection saying that they need a year of photographic evidence of the rashes and complications before they will consider it.

Needless to say, this was tough for Stacey to take. She isn't asking for medical help to lose the weight - she did that all on her own. And since it was done on her own, she is far more likely to keep up the regimen to stay healthy and keep the weight off. You'd think the insurance company would see the benefit of paying for someome in this situation, as they will reap the benefits of the individual's future health and reduced risk of weight-related maladies. Nope.

So, what's the project? Well, Stacey never reads these posts, so I'm fairly confident that she won't get wind of what I'm doing. And if she does, it's no big deal, as you'll see.

The surgery she needs, if paid out of pocket, is about $25,000. No, I'm not asking for money. I am asking for resources. Stacey has already sent her story to Oprah, Dr. Phil, Montel Williams and others in the hopes that her success might be of interest to them. What's the interest? How about someone who had gotten to nearly 400 pounds who lost the weight on her own? Or the fact that the final push to lose the weight came one day when Carolyn said to her "Mommy, you're fat"? Or the fact that her insurance company will pay for a gastric bypass, but won't pay to remove the skin from someone who did the work on their own without surgery?

So what I'm looking for is resources. Know someone who might be interested in her story? Send me an email. Know a cosmetic surgeon that might be able to help? Let me know. Know someone who might be inspired by Stacey's story? Drop me a line. Maybe you know a health insurance professional that can help us steer through the insurance waters. Whatever the case, I want to build a stack of resources to work from.

My goal, one way or another, to find a way to get the procedures done for Stacey. By networking, talking, discussing - whatever the means - get the work done so that Stacey can complete the journey she has been on.

That's the pitch. Nothing big. And if you don't have any of those, there is one thing you can still do. Call or email Stacey, and let her know how great she looks. She has a hard time feeling that she has accomplished her goals because her body doesn't look the way she wants it to. I tell her I'm proud, that she has done an incredible thing, but it seems to have more effect from others. Let her know as well. She has a new email address - sasoderman at earthlink dot net.

In other news, we're all great here. Carolyn is growing more by the day. The picture is one of my favorite recent pictured, taken at Easter.

The other day at school, they were apparently talking about how caterpillars become butterflies. The teacher mentioned a cocoon. Carolyn informed her teacher that it wasn't a cocoon, it was a chrysalis.

Yup. We're in trouble. I expect she'll be asking for the car keys and a trust fund anytime now.

I'm still working at the Flamingo, although I've been doing less dealing and more supervising. But it does afford me the chance to have weekends off, a rarity in the gaming business.

That's all for now. Drop Stacey a line!

Monday, October 31, 2005

Fall is here...

It's time for another update! The summer was great, and as the weather starts to turn cooler, we've been busy with all manner of stuff.

Early in October, Stacey got to take a trip back to Boston with her friend Kristin, a trip she's been wanting to take for some time now. The picture here is of Stacey at Walden Pond, her favorite spot in New England. Stacey has lost all kinds of weight in the past few months, sticking to a strict calorie count, working out 5-6 days a week, and more. This trip was a reward for her hard work, and she continues to work hard on getting the weight off.

Because of the way my schedule works, the only real option for me was to take time off and take Carolyn to California for a visit and a trip to Sea World.

The entire weekend was completely planned out, with activities every day. We arrived Friday afternoon, and stopped by Karl, Dawn, and Nana's house for a visit, and a fitting of her Halloween costume. Carolyn is still a three months shy of three years old, but is wearing size 4 clothes (and quickly growing out of them).

On Saturday, Carolyn's Grammy, Aunt Ginger and I took Carolyn to see her cousin BJ who was performing with her marching band in a parade in Placentia, CA. We spent the morning watching bands and antique cars roll by, and waited for BJ's band to make their way down the parade route.

Carolyn got a kick out of most of it, but the weather, though overcast, got warm pretty quickly. Still we had fun waiting for BJ's band to come by, and Carolyn got a real kick out of seeing her cousin marching in the band.

This was a parade featuring a number of marching bands from elementary school levels all the way up to high schools. BJ's band was in the second group (middle schoolers) and did a great job.

Later that afternoon, we made a trip to the church Fiesta with Grammy, and had a spectacular time!

Carolyn got her face painted, rode a number of rides and like most kids, didn't want to leave. I held up the Dad's end of the trip, and made sure I won a number of stuffed animals, all of which now happily reside on Carolyn's bed. (A side note: Carolyn is now in her "big girl bed", a transition that went virtually painlessly).

One thing we weren't sure about was whether Carolyn would enjoy the rollercoaster at the Fiesta. Our worries proved to be wholly unfounded. Not only did she like the rollercoaster, but insisted on going on it multiple times, squealing with delight every time it rounded a corner or rolled over a hill.
Sunday, we took a trip down to San Diego and Sea World. Carolyn had been talking about feeding and petting the dolphins for days, and this promised to be fun.

Let me preface this whole thing with a note: Taking a 2-year-old to Sea World and expecting to get pictures is not a realistic goal. I know this now. So there's not a whole lot of pictures (read: none).

But we did have a good time. The dolphin feeding was a bit of a challenge. Apparently, to Carolyn, the reality didn't match her imagination. We waited in line to buy our feeder fish, then made our way to the feeding area. The basic idea is that the dolphins swim up to the feeding wall, you lean over, drop a fish into its mouth, and pet it on the head. Carolyn was fine until the dolphin swam up. At that point, she hid behind my shoulder, wathing me with one eye. So here I am, leaning over the wall with one hand to feed the dolphin, while holding Carolyn in the other arm. A bust, right? Except that she wanted to do it again. Never did get her to feed them, but she got a kick out of watching me do it.

She did get a real kick out of the sea star pool, where you can pick up and hold starfish. We spent about 40 minutes picking up and looking at sea stars, running around the pool looking for different colored sea stars. This was Carolyn's favorite activity of the day.

As we walked around Sea World, Carolyn caught glimpses of these plush clownfish hats. Being a big Finding Nemo fan, she immediately named them "silly Nemo hats", and wanted one. I caved, and got her this giant squish ball as well that looks like an anemone. She hasn't gone to bed without them since.
Which brings us to Halloween. As you can see, the costume Nana got Carolyn was just right, and Carolyn got to be Ariel for Halloween. She loved the "glass" slippers that came with the costume, and spent the day at daycare in her costume as well as trick-or-treating in the evening.

I made an effort to put together a fun Jack-O-Lantern and I think I did OK with the Blue's Clues pumpkin. You can get all kinds of patterns online, and it only took about an hour to do.

That's it for this installment. Hope everyone had a great summer and a fun Halloween!

Be sure to click below to leave any comments!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

A Trip to Disneyland

It was the first weekend that I was scheduled off, so we decided to take a trip to Disneyland. My brother Karl was kind enough to dig up three passes he had, and a good thing too. Tickets to get into both parks, known as "park-hoppers", are $79 each. Carolyn would have been free, but that would have been nearly $240 for a trip to Disneyland. That, in my opinion is obscene, especially given the current state of the park and the quality of the people working there. More on that later.

The goal was to have a good time with Carolyn, and for the most part, that was achieved. We made the drive out from Las Vegas on Saturday morning, picking up Grammy on the way. We also stopped by Karl's house to pick up the passes, and Carolyn got to spend a few minutes with Nana.

First "expenditure" of the day: Parking - $10. This is not completely out of control, and the park has built a multi-level parking structure with easy access to trams that take you into the park.

We piled our stuff into the stroller and made our way to the tram and the quick ride to the entrance plaza. If you haven't been to Disneyland since they opened California Adventure, the entrance plaza sits between the two parks, with California Adventure built where the parking lot used to be.

One of Carolyn's favorite TV shows is "Bear In The Big Blue House", and there is a live show featuring Bear at California Adventure, so we chose to start the day there.

We stopped at the "wave" fountain near the entrance to California Adventure and got this great picture of Carolyn and Grammy. It's probably my favorite of the day. The area in front of this fountain is where you used to be able to find the Disney characters and get pictures, autographs and the like. Not one around when we passed through. So we went on the Bug's Life themed area of the park. There's a whole bunch of stuff there that is more appropriate for Carolyn. On the way, we saw a show starting with some of the Bug's Life characters, so we made our way over.

Carolyn and Stacey had just sat done when the show was abruptly stopped, apparently due to some technical malfunction. This wasn't a big production show, just a smaller show of the story-telling variety. Sounded like the recording they use stopped. This was to be the first of a few disappointments with how things are at the parks.

It was a but warm and very muggy which made keeping comfortable a challenge throughout the day. Carolyn did get a kick out of the caterpillar train and flying machine rides in the Bug's Life area. By the time we finished there, it was time to get in line for the Bear In The Big Blue House show (aka Playhouse Disney Live).

The queue area for this is basically designed to act as a commercial for the Disney Channel's Playhouse Disney lineup of programs. There have always been tie-ins between Disney properties and the rides. And there have sponsors attached to rides as well. A case in point was the Adventure Through Inner Space ride that was lccated where Star Tours now resides. Don't remember it? Lots of folks called it the "Monsanto" ride, as they were the prominent sponsor. But there always seemed to be a line that wasn't crossed. The theme of the attraction always came first, and the sponsor was worked in at some point near the end.

Not anymore. First, the line for Playhouse Disney is entirely outside. Great choice in the heat of summer. But throughout the waiting area, TV monitors count down the time to the show by showing clips of just about every program in their lineup. And if you want a decent seat for the show, you need to line up 30 minutes prior to show time. So you get a 30-minute commercial, while you bake.

The show itself is well put-together, with lots of opportunities for the kids to dance and sing with their favorite characters from TV. And it is well-cooled.

That ended our time at California Adventure. There really isn't a whole lot there for smaller kids. So we made our way to the Magic Kingdom.

We decided to get some lunch before heading to the live Snow White stage show. All the while, we kept an eye out for Disney Characters. We go to the end of Main Street and the restaurant without seeing one. And here comes expenditure number 2:

Lunch consisted of a Cobb salad, an order of fried chicken with a salad, and a plate of pasta with a salad. Add to this three sodas. Price for lunch? $56. And this was cafeteria style - no table service. No one helping you find a table. Just grab a tray and your food and sit down.

We ate lunch and heade to the Snow White show, which was ok, but not spectacular. We also got into the Aladdin Storyteling show, another ok but not spectacular show.

In the end, we spent a fair portion of the day there, certainly long enough to wear Carolyn out. She had a great time, and is still talking about being a "bug" and riding the caterpillar train.

But I was disappointed. I worked at the park back in the 80's. There was a higher calibre of employee there, and an attention to detail. And a friendliness, even on hot, tough summer days. But no longer. The budget cuts, the corporate influence, the general attitude has given the parks a second rate feel. It's too bad, because it seems some of the magic has gone. I want Carolyn to experience the Disneyland I remember. I hope someday she will.