Friday, December 31, 2010

2010-12-30 Grand Cayman

Worked out and ate breakfast, and then gathered for our Bible study, with Brandon leading. Brandon talked about unity, and the importance of being together with a family vision. He spoke about all of us together accomplishing a lot, but even more because we have unity. Together we can do amazing things. Brandon suggested we add a category to our yearly goals – that of a family goal. Then headed off the boat to beautiful Grand Cayman. Got a taxi to the 7 mile beach, and laid out, swam, and walked along the beach. Walked to lunch and shopped at a few local stores, and then headed back to the ship. Had a coffee with Gary, and walked around the Promenade. Met at 5 for pinochle with the girls, and then at 6 for dinner ("Venetian Fest" theme). Then went to a Broadway singing and dancing show at Acadia theater. The boys went to hang out and the girls were tired so we all went to sleep early!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010-12-29 Jamaica -- yah, mon!

After working out and eating breakfast, we all gathered for our Bible study, with Mike leading. He talked about God's vision for us and how He will get us there. Mike reminded us that we can't just focus on the vision instead of the daily necessities to get us to reach it. As we take the right steps, the next steps become clearer. When you first miss an exit, it is easy to get back, but if you go too far, it is very difficult to get back to where you missed it, so you need to be focused daily. We need to have the mind of Christ to make sure our daily walk brings us to the vision God has for us. Psalms 37:23-24 The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.

Then off the boat to Jamaica (yah, mon). We took a Dunn River Falls tour, which was awesome. Everyone loved climbing the falls (except me; I stayed back and made friends and watched!). We went back to the ship, got a coffee, every one rested and got ready. Met at 5 to play Scrabble and pinochle, then we met for an amazing dinner at Chops. After that we went to the game room and had a pinochle tournament. Danny and I taught Mike to play pinochle too! It was a breeze, and in two hands, Mike was playing like a champ!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2010-12-28 Labadee, Haiti

Another workout to start the day, followed by another good Bible study by Jesse on Ecclesiastes 5. We talked about how it is a life of sacrifice for eternal values that brings fruit and purpose. He talked about taking it to the next level and how it involves hearing from the Lord, making a commitment to action, and following through. Missing one of those things can result in meaninglessness. Ecc. 11.9 tells the young to enjoy every minute, but know you must give account, and ends with a threat of meaninglessness if you don't live purposefully. Don't wait for the perfect time to step out with what God wants you to do; the time is now. Pursue excellence and God's purpose and don't live to pursue wealth, because you will end up leaving the world naked and empty-handed. Ecclesiastes 5.7 tells us that "dreaming all the time instead of working is foolishness…"

After our Bible study, we grabbed a quick breakfast and then went off the ship to explore Labadee, Haiti. The vendors kept us entertained. It wasn't the greatest weather, with a slight drizzle at times. We walked around a bit, and then headed back to play more games on the 14th floor, have lunch, and then get ready for dinner. We met back for another quick game of Scrabble (Hannah and I), and then a few people played pinochle. We met for dinner, "Surf" theme, then went to an amazing magic/illusionist show. Then the boys went to watch a little football, and we all met up for 70's dancing in the streets night.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2010-12-27 Cruising...

A welcome and uneventful day. We started out by working out, then with an amazing Bible study by Gabe about how we need to stand strong during times of shaking. We can't lose sight of the fact we're in a battle. We need to stay faithful through tests and trials and not lose sight of what God wants to accomplish through the trial and through us. We need to keep our eyes on the Lord. There are different seasons God wants to bring us through for our personal growth and His glory.

We then went outside to lay out but ended up on the 14th floor playing cards. We went to the salad bar for lunch, and then back to play more games. Dinner was formal night, with a "Captain's Gala" theme. Afterwards, we went to the Once Upon a Time Show where talented dancers and singers took old time stories and fairy tales and put modern music and dancing to them. It was really really good.

Monday, December 27, 2010

A Vacation Start We'll Never Forget -- ALMOST Home Alone!

A day never to forget. A day of miracles. Just a LOT of big and little things that I KNOW would NEVER have happened without the Lord's intervention that made a huge mistake turn around.

Now that every one is married, we decided to make this our last Christmas vacation together and move our yearly vacation together to the summer. Our family departed for the airport at 5 a.m., all piling ourselves and luggage into a 12 passenger van from Frank's Airport Service. Daniel was so tired he wasn't talking much, and we all made sure he was in the van, or was he sleeping upstairs somewhere like Home Alone…

On the way to the airport, the rain began to turn into ice, and suddenly on the freeway there was a car just abandoned in the center lane. We were able to get over, but the car alongside us began to spin out.

God's Intervention #1 – the car spun toward the left, missing us, and JUST missing the people from the abandoned car that were standing on the side of the road.

We got to the airport and got our luggage checked. We were very blessed to get overweight luggage checked without incident, but I won't even mention that as God's intervention, although I believe it was!

God's Intervention #2 – we checked Daniel's bag in with ours just to simplify things, never knowing how it would come into play later! If Daniel had his bag with his name on it, we couldn't have taken it with us.

We all ended up joining Gary at his favorite Online Café for breakfast. Then we all headed to the gate because it was time to board, all stopping at bathrooms and stores to get water or whatever and arriving at the gate separately and boarding. Once we boarded, someone came and asked where Daniel was because he wasn't in his seat. The plane was overcrowded, and there were over 40 people that couldn't fly because it was oversold, and a plane had cancelled earlier. The line for help at the Delta desk was LONG and the Delta workers were crabby.

I went up and down the plane aisles looking for Daniel. The stewardesses told me I couldn't leave the plane, but they could see how upset I was and I explained the situation to them and they walked me to the end of the tarmac and paged Daniel. We called him over and over and over. No answer. The plane had to leave. We left without Daniel on the plane.

Daniel had gone to sit down without telling any one where he was (a few rows in at the gate) and had fallen FAST asleep unresponsive to calls and pages.

I was inconsolable. Gary was mad. We were all so sad. Once we got into the air, Gabe took charge, connected to wi-fi and began to communicate with Daniel, who had woken up 15 minutes after the plane left.

Meanwhile Daniel stood in line to get help, but it wasn't happening with all the people who needed help. He tried to tell the clerk what happened, but she abruptly informed him he would have to wait his turn and it wasn't Delta's responsibility that he fell asleep. He waited near the front, and she told him he was getting her nervous and to step away.

God's Intervention #3 - Out of nowhere a Delta representative came and told Daniel to come with her, and that she would help him. Others tried to follow her, but she said "I'm just going to help HIM".

For over an hour she worked on getting Daniel a plane out. She booked three separate reservations, two of which would never have worked because they were too far away, Gabe communicating back and forth mapquesting every choice and reviewing it with Danny…

God's Intervention #4 – She booked Daniel STANDBY on a Palm Beach plane that would get him to Palm Beach at 1:05 p.m., with a 2.5 hour drive to where our cruise departed…

God's Intervention #5 – She did not charge Daniel for the airfare.

Daniel waited and everyone boarded the plane. Another crabby clerk told him it looked like there would be no seats available.

God's Intervention #6 – After every one got on the plane, the surprised clerk told Daniel there was one seat left and he could get on the plane.

The plane was delayed because of ice. The plane was scheduled to get in at 1:45 p.m., making it almost impossible for Daniel to get to the cruise by the time the Homeland Security locked the entry doors (which is at 3:50 p.m., but they would let him in if he got there before 4).

Gabe had called several limo and driving services to pick Daniel up and make the 2.5 hour drive, but several companies would not do it. He finally talked to a company that would pick him up. We made the arrangements, but the guy wanted to be paid in cash, and Daniel had no cash on him (no clothes, and a debit card with not much money on it!). We told him he would have to make the 2.5 hour drive in 2.25 hours in order to get paid.

God's Intervention #7 – Daniel worked out a deal with a guy at the front of the plane who let him sit in his seat for the last 15 minutes so Daniel could get right off the plane. He jumped up and was first person out the door, flying through the airport and into the waiting driver's car.

Meanwhile we were checking with three different cruise personnel who informed us that under no uncertain terms would they let any one in after 4 p.m. because of Homeland Security laws and personnel.

Tracking Daniel, with Daniel looking at his GPS, we began to lose hope. We prayed together and separately, and asked several people at home to pray! We were so upset and nervous. He kept edging his driver on, telling him that his Dad would give him a great tip if he could get him there on time. The driver was going 90 miles an hour at some points trying to get Daniel there, but it was NOT looking good.

Gabe told Gary they had to "make friends" with the Homeland Security people. With all 10 of us huddling around and every one else on the ship already, a Royal Caribbean personnel told Gary and Gabe (standing off to to the side) that they would let Daniel in if it was just a minute or two late.

When it was 4:03 p.m., Gary and Gabe went down to where the door was (you couldn't use your phone there). Our group was asked to get on the boat because it was leaving. The girls were crying, and the boys were so sad…

God's Intervention #7 - A group of a few people were running towards the door, and the Homeland Security and RC personnel thought it was Daniel so opened the door and they came in, together with two children from a DIFFERENT group of people. Then a group of about 10 people rushed the door and because the children were from their group, the upset personnel had to let them in! In the confusion Daniel's driver literally screeched to a stop and Daniel BOLTED into the building and Gary ran out to pay the driver and got back in.

Never happened before? No problem to the Lord. It was really a miracle our family is all here together. There wasn't a possible way for it to happen, but I know the Lord made a way. I am amazed that Daniel is with us. It really shouldn't have happened. Another humbling gift of God's grace.

We all were so relieved the girls just broke down crying for joy. Daniel was incredulous. We were all emotionally exhausted! But we were together: the best Christmas gift of all, given to us supernaturally by the Lord!

We had a wonderful "Sail Away Dinner" together, then played Balderdash and games together.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

2010-12-04 GREASE is the Word!

We had a blast going to Grease at the Fox Theater. Michael and Shalene joined our family, and we dressed the parts. We had dinner at the Fox, followed by the play. It was a great night!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

2010-12-03 Tea Party!

Tea party at Grace Christian Church with our beautiful hostess Susan Monterosso. We had a wonderful evening, and it was great to see a lot of friends there.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Monday in Paris

I had such a great day. I was pretty bummed Gary had to work today, but I got going with our (very) "continental" breakfast of yogurt and muesli and off I went. Walked to the Eiffel Tower and gazed at it with its changing-by-the-minute personality. Walked along the Seine River and took in every sight and sound: the boats going by, the birds, the lovers walking, children skipping and playing, autumn leaves blowing, people selling their wares, chestnuts roasting, horns honking... loving every minute. I feel like I jumped into a movie or something!

Then down the Champs-Elysées and loved stopping in all the stores and looking at all the people everywhere. Especially LOVED going to Laduree's and getting some macrons (HOPEFULLY they will make it home this time!). Then had an amazing lunch there.

Then I went to the Monet exhibition and waited over 45 minutes in line only to discover it would be another 3 hour wait, so I left, and walked all the way back down the Champs-Elysées on the OTHER side of the street, past the Eiffel Tower and to my hotel. Got ready, and then a driver picked me up and took me to meet Gary and his Paris team for dinner.

Another Wonderful Day in Paris!

Well this was another great day in Paris, although we had a few little problems.

First we started out in the market, which was awesome:

Then we walked along the Seine River and stumbled upon the original Statue of Liberty!

Sadly, here I discovered I had left my Compact Flash card back at the hotel, and we were across town from the hotel! But I'm glad I had my iPhone!

We then headed to our tour of the top of the Eiffel Tower! We had JUST ENOUGH time that I thought I could make it back to the hotel and get my flash card for the camera for the incredible shots we would have from the top. Gary was going to wait by the Tower for me, because he was fighting off (another) horrible headache. As I rushed to go, because of the uneven streets, I went FLYING (in slow motion I might add), scratching up my elbow very badly (even through my coat), my knee, and my hands! I was SOOOO sad, but rushed back to the hotel and got my card.

We were so happy we booked online, because we went right to the front of a VERY LONG line!

Then to a wonderful little cafe for lunch, and off to the
Champs Elysées to go up and down the wonderful shopping areas. Find of the day is what people describe as: If you’ve spent even a small amount of time in Paris, you know that the macaron is ubiquitous. And in a city of fastidious eaters, it’s significant that a single dessert has managed to win the hearts and minds of so many.

Laduree macrons: WOW!

At first we were asking ourselves: WHY are we waiting for 40 minutes in this line for these little cookies that don't even look that amazing? Well, Paris IS famous for them, so we determined to wait for the fun of it and get some to take home. INSTEAD, we devoured ALL of them on the street in FRONT of the store! ha! They were AMAZING!!!! Maybe I'll go back today and try to get some triple-wrapped so I don't eat them all! It is said this should be on a list of 100 things to do before you die: eat an authentic Laduree macron! How can something so petit pack so much PUNCH in a few bites?! Only in Paris!

We then stumbled upon a movie theater and went to see Facebook together. Having met Mark Zuckerberg personally, I had a little bit of a hard time identifying with the impertinent brash personality portrayed in the movie, but then again, he IS brilliant, and maybe several years ago he may have come off that way. Now he is an amazing and pretty humble guy to meet.

We then trucked back across town towards the Eiffel Tower and stopped for a charming late night salad with the rest of the Parisians (everyone seems to eat late here!).


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Autumn in Paris

Paris is amazing. I was last here in about 1982 as a newlywed. It had a profound effect on me then, and it does again.

People line the streets holding hands and kissing... I don't know why but couples getting photos in front of the Eiffel Tower LOVE to kiss! The streets are filled with little patisseries and chocolatiers and restaurants/cafes with outdoor tables. Couples are sharing crepes, laughing over coffees, and walking with their heads together whispering...

The Seine River is lined on both sides with people walking. Children are laughing, and teenaged girls walk arm and arm with a bounce to their step. The metro is packed with people standing jammed. No one seems in a hurry enough to push you aside, and it seems as if people just enjoy the simplier things of life here... like each other!

Walking down the Champs-Elysées is such an awesome experience. People are in and out of the stores. With the obelisk at one end, and the Arc de Triomph presiding other the other end, trees lining the avenue, and the stores and restaurants on both sides with their up to the minute fashion, you can see why Paris is known for some of the best shopping in the world!

The Eiffel Tower looms over the city and from time to time, wherever you are, you catch a glimpse of it. There are French flags flying here and there. Occasionally you run across several policemen or military, and we walked quickly past a growing demonstration about something or other that was getting unruly, but all in all the feeling here is of peace and simplicity.

Even walking around in the rain is amazing. Today was the perfect day: their typical (sparse) breakfast of yogurt and a few slices of turkey (Gary had the muesli), then off on the metro across town to see St. Michael's and Notre Dame. It was POURING RAIN, but with our umbrellas we just joined the crowds walking the streets!

After walking around Notre Dame and the square of beautiful buildings there, we stopped for a sidewalk Nutella crepe and coffee. More walking and sightseeing, and then a lunch of a chicken sandwich (everything is on French bread!) for Gary and a salad for me. We then hopped back on the Metro to make our way to Champs-Elysées and sightseeing there.

We walked the streets for several hours, walking by the Louvre and through center city, and then made it to our Paris in Lights nighttime tour. We discovered we were supposed to have eaten, so we quickly each grabbed a chicken sandwich on French bread, and we jumped onto the bus.

The bus took us to the Eiffel Tower, where we went to the second floor and took photos and had a quick sparkling water and some "sweet" popcorn (kettle corn!). We walked around the Eiffel Tower for an hour, and then met dockside at the Seine River for our boat tour. After the boat tour (which was awesome) we walked back to our hotel, stopping on the way home for a little fruit salad (and Gary got escargots and oysters!).

We were gone from 7:30 a.m. til 11:30 p.m. It was an amazing day in Paris!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Portovenere, Italy

Finally got here! Started out yesterday afternoon from home. When our plane landed in Amsterdam, we missed the connection! So we put our luggage up and hit a train to Centre City and had a blast walking around. Went back and got to Italy about 10 and drove to our hotel -- got here after midnight. I was so glad to have our GPS with Italy maps -- it brought us right to our door in an otherwise VERY CONFUSING country to drive in! We drove through a thunderstorm, but we're finally here and happy to be here! Gary is fighting a TERRIBLE headache, and I drank too much coffee to sleep (almost 3 a.m. here!)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Another Pie Making Day!

What a beautiful day! After an amazing Church service, and a run outside in almost 80-degree weather, the girls came by to make apple pies. Before they got there, I managed to whip up a pumpkin pie at Daniel's request! Here are the finished products:

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Apple Pies!

Love making apple pies! It is so fun getting together and "teaching" and having fun with the girls baking! Kristen is here for the weekend -- I LOVE when she visits. Rachel took time off her busy studying schedule to come out and be with me and make a pie too! We had a lot of fun. Afterwards we went for a walk at Partridge Creek with Gary, Christa, Bethany and Honey!!! Christa even brought Kristen, Gary and I dinner -- with all that baking we forgot about dinner!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Walk in the Park...

Well, some people get grandchildren when their children get married, but I got a dog. Bethany and I took Honey on her first "nature walk" at Stoney Creek. Although it was 92 degrees and humid, and we walked for an hour and a half, Honey really tried to keep up, but she kept trying to take breaks! She was so funny!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Another day, another walk...

Today I had a great day with my parents (but I forgot to take a photo :-( ) -- I visited for awhile and then went to a HEALTHY lunch at Friar Tucks...

Then another walk, another 92 degree humid day, this time on Clinton River and Paint Creek trails... Another repeat, but this time Honey was more adamant about not moving -- she was EXHAUSTED (but so were Bethany and I!) But this time we found a creek to give her a break in...