Saturday, November 09, 2013

Family







Friday, October 25, 2013

Connecting on Facebook Causes Me To Plan Trips!

I think we're finally in a routine again after our "Chevy Chase Vacation!"  Things are back to normal and I'm liking it!

The weather is slowly (and I mean slowly) changing over to fall.  I'm ready for rain and the cold weather to arrive!  I love the gold and red leaves, the cool crisp air and the closet filled with fall sweaters and leggings.  I'm ready to make soups and stews, and to let a roast with veggies to slow cook in the oven again.

Although Facebook has caused many bloggers in my circle to stop blogging, I love being on Facebook.  I've made so many connections with friends, even family members, that we normally only wrote to in Christmas cards each year.  I've reconnected with many people from high school and my church youth group.  I'm one of those people who love hearing about their lives and feeling that connection again.  I may never see some of them in person as they're spread throughout the U.S., but Facebook lets you feel connected.

One problem with it is it makes me want to plan trips to go visit many of them.  Last November I had the privilege of seeing my good college friend, Anita, in Newport Beach.  We had a whole day to catch up, a very special time!  Then we went to Yuma, AZ to see several good friends from high school.  It was our Facebook connection that prompted those visits to happen.

Steve and I are going to San Diego in December to see our nephew, Jonathon, graduate from Marine Corp boot camp. We are so proud of him, he's wanted to join the Marines since he was little and he never lost his focus.  I hear he's doing amazing at it, no surprise there!

In January, I'm back to San Diego for a Yuma Girls reunion with six good (dare I say, old) friends from  high school.  These were the girls I hung out with daily at school, and most of them were in my church youth group too.  A couple of them even hung out in a graveyard with me one night after church, in our  choir dresses.  (Yes, that's a story unto itself.)  We are spending three nights in San Diego doing absolutely nothing but catching up, I am looking forward to it so much!

In late May, we're flying to Nashville with Leslie and Fred (Steve's sister and hubby).  We'll spend a day at a battlefield there, then drive to Sieverville to a Wyndham property we're staying at for the week.  We'll be driving up to Kingsport for church and lunch to meet Steve's half sister, Faye, and her family for the first time!  They found each other through Jamie's sister-in-law (Tricia), and we can't wait to talk in person!  Then we'll head back to Sieverville for the week, agenda is TBA!  Then back to Nashville to see the Grand Ol' Opry before heading home again.  I think we're going to a BBQ place featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Take-Outs.  Anyone know another "not to miss" place we should hit before we leave?

Somewhere in there I really have a desire to plan a week in Phoenix.  I haven't been to visit my sister's and niece's families for a long time, we need some good quality time together.  And while I'm there I have cousins that I've reconnected with on Facebook so I'd love to spend time with each of the getting caught up.  These cousins were like siblings to us growing up, our mom's were twins so we spent lots of time together.  Sad how life and distance pulled us all so far apart, but thankfully, Facebook has reconnected us again!  I have a good friend in Phoenix too, so adding it all up I know I'd need a week to see everyone!

Now to find more vacation time at work to accommodate all of this planning!

In November Steve and I will be driving over to UCSF to consult with his oncologist.  As most of you know, his cancer (Multiple Myeloma) moved from the "smoldering" stage to active cancer.  He has no real symptoms other than some anemia, no pain, and no damage so far.  His oncologist told us through the Nurse Practitioner "no treatment needed yet," but we are meeting with him to find out what this all means.  Like, when does he need treatment?  What are we watching for?  We have many questions so we're hoping to come away with a better idea of the plan for the next year as we keep an eye on things.

Oh yes - the grandkids!  Can't forget to say at least something about them, right?  We are taking family pictures in Redding this Sunday so I will finally have a new blog header picture.  The current picture is well over four years old!

All the kids are doing well, I won't take time to give an individual rundown.  They are finished with track for the fall, and soccer is just about over with one game left.  Then basketball will start, along with  more soccer and baseball next spring.  The older girls are living in a world of sleep-overs with friends so the (somewhat regular) Friday night sleep-overs at our house are slowly changing to include the younger two but not the older two as often.  They're growing up and while I miss the days of them always coming over, it's fun to watch them form great friendships.

As you can see, life is busy but blessed in our world and we love the life and those that God has given us!




Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Our Chevy Chase Vacation

UPDATE:  After a few telephone calls, emails and a letter from our attorney (where I work), Carnival is honoring their 110% refund policy for us!  Just wish we hadn't had to go to bat for it but we're happy they finally took care of things.


Steve and I just got back from vacation in Florida.  Absolutely nothing went as planned and we had a few "extra events" happen along the way.  Just so we can look back and laugh at this down the road, I'm blogging our Chevy Chase Vacation.  You couldn't make up something like this if you tried!  If you're reading, I hope you have a coffee next to you because this story may be my longest yet!

Many months ago we booked a cruise out of Mexico with Carnival, our first cruise with this cruise line.  Then I happened to find amazing flights from San Franciso to Orlando so we switched our cruise to the Bahamas as I sail better on the eastern coast waters than our choppier west coast waters.  Excited to cruise again, we headed out of San Francisco to Orlando!

We arrived at Port Canaveral and made our way through the check-in and then entered the cruise ship.  We couldn't see it well as we drove into the port as two other ships stood in the way but as we walked toward the ship, I could see it was pretty small.  But no worries, we were sure everything was amazing on board.  After all, we're now seasoned cruisers going on our 6th cruise and all ships are amazing!  Right?

As we entered the atrium, I looked at Steve and said, "Is this the main atrium??"  He said, "Yep, I believe it is."  Uh.Oh.  Not a good start.  It was tiny, crowded and smelled very stale.  We were used to big, airy and and amazing atriums when entering the ship.  Off to one side was a guy about 19 that was shouting out rap music and telling us, "Come on everyone, let's get it going!"  Steve told me later he saw a place selling t-shirst that said "Booze Cruise."    Again...Uh.Oh.

The staterooms were not ready for anyone yet as luggage was just beginning to arrive to the rooms, so we headed to the top deck to have lunch at the buffet.  Again, on previous cruises we always found a spacious dining room, smiling staff, with abundant carving stations,  fresh salads and fruits, and several types of hot food areas.  What we found was a tiny dining room with a limited salad bar, a few lukewarm Italian dishes and a deli.  Comparing notes after we got our food to the table, we both wondered about the staff.  They weren't smiling and friendly, very unusual for staff and officers on previous cruises.  We both got a few things to eat but soon realized it was mostly inedible so we moved on to walk around the ship and see the hangout places.

The first thing we saw was the top-deck swimming pool.  It was about the size of a normal backyard swimming pool.  There were lounges and chairs all over the little area but we assumed there would be other pools (usually there are three per ship on previous cruises) so we were okay with that at this point.  As we entered the adult spa area, we found it to be the size of a large normal-sized living room in a house.  It had two small spas and a scattering of chairs and loungers.  It also smelled like cigarette smoke.

We then moved on, walking through the two bar lounges, which also reeked of cigarette smoke, and walked to the other end of the ship.  Finally it sunk in.  There were no side decks on this ship where we could relax and read on loungers.  There was no second, or third, pool area.  And there were no other places to kick back and relax on this cruise that weren't small and filled with the cigarette smoke smell.  Did I mention they said 2,600 people were on board this ship?  Other than their staterooms, where in the world were all these people going to spend five days while sailing?

At this point, Steve and I finally said to each other what we had been privately thinking: this was not where we wanted to spend five nights, nor what we wanted to do with our vacation.  This was a first for us, wanting off a cruise ship before we even set sail!

Just before our vacation, Steve had read on a news site that Carnival had a new policy that said, “If you’re unhappy with your cruise, you can get a 110% refund within the first 24 hours onboard.”  As we were now an hour and a half into being onboard the ship, we went to the guest services desk and requested to invoke the right to a full refund, and to not take the cruise.


They were clearly not expecting Carnival guests to say this only two hours into boarding the ship.  Well...neither were we!  It took the officer assisting us several visits to the back office to find out how to go about taking care of our request as this was a new Carnival policy.  It was obvious that Carnival had not prepped the guest service desk people on the handling of this new policy.


After about 45 minutes, were advised that in order to invoke the new policy, we would need to disembark the Ecstacy, wait in the terminal for the porters to find our luggage, and to work on the refund issue at the Carnival desk inside the terminal once off the ship.  The officer stated they "should" be able to locate our luggage, but could not guarantee it.  Naively, I believed it would be found, after all, they had 3-4 hours to find it!  We agreed that this was what we wanted to do and so we were then relieved of our ship keys and escorted off the ship. 

Once inside the terminal, Kathy, a very nice supervisor at the Carnival desk told us that the discussion and decision on Carnival’s part should have occurred on the ship with the Carnival staff before we disembarked.  

Nice.   

We told Kathy that the ship's officer said just the opposite, that we had to request the refund with Carnival inside the port terminal at her desk.  While waiting for Carnival to find our luggage, Steve called the number that Kathy gave us regarding the refund for the cruise.  Carnival's response was - no.  In fact, they stated that to even discuss the possibility of invoking that new policy, we had to reinstate our cruise, get back on the ship and sail the first night to Freeport.  If they then agreed to the refund (and I didn't have lots of faith in that by this point), they would fly us from Freeport back to...guess where?  Yep, right where we standing while making this call!    

Really?

Kathy then gave us a business card for Carnival’s Care Center to call during the week days, telling us that they had “more authority” over these types of matters, along with a phone number to a good shuttle service we could call because once the ship sailed, we were stuck at the port with no transportation. 

Close to the time the ship was set to sail, an officer of the ship came to the supervisor’s desk at which time Kathy asked if our luggage had been found.  (During the 3 or so hours we were waiting, Kathy emailed the ship often to get a status on our luggage but she received either a no, or no answer at all from the ship.)  The officer shrugged his shoulders, and said, "Nope."  At this point I had about reached my level of tolerance so I (nicely) addressed the officer myself and asked if there was even any point in waiting for our luggage as it had yet to appear.  He told us that he was going back on the ship shortly and once that happened, they would set sail.  He further stated it was unlikely we would receive our luggage.  We decided it was time to head back to Orlando.  Kathy told us that she had emailed the Ecstacy crew to have our luggage put into Zone 1 upon the return from the cruise so it could be easily found by the Carnival staff when it returned to Port Canaveral the following Thursday.  I admit, I kind of wanted to laugh at this information because, really, had any of her pleas on our behalf been heard that day?  Not so much.  We profusely thanked Kathy for all her help as she did all she could to help us out.

So now we're standing at the port, with literally only the clothes on our backs and our backpacks with our wallets, passports, and a dying cell phone because I had just put my phone cord in the luggage before we got to the port.  No luggage for the next five days.    

Okay then...now what?

After we got a new phone cord and arrived back at the Hyatt in the airport we briefly told our kids what happened and that we weren't sailing after all.  Jamie and Mike saved the day by booking us with some of their Wyndham points at the Bonnet Creek property, right in the middle of Disney!  We rented a car and stayed the first night in a Holiday Inn, then moved for four nights to the Wyndham property, which was amazing!  We had numerous pools, a lazy river, coffee places, snack and drink bars, and restaurants right at our fingertips.  All of the condo towers surrounded a little lake. We bought 4-day park hopper passes and visited the Disney parks at our leisure, coming home mid-afternoon to swim, relax and visit with many of the nice people staying near us.  Mid-week Steve started getting sick, but we still were in good spirits, determined to enjoy the vacation we had been looking forward to for months.

So far... so good (mostly).  :)

We spent most of the day of our vacation shopping for the clothing and toiletries we would need for the next five nights.  You never really realize what's in your luggage until you don't have it.  The normal toiletries, hair brushes, socks, the proper shoes, bathing suits, and hello...more than one outfit!  I think we made about three shopping trips over two days before we were done shopping and felt we were making it on what we had.  Thank goodness for a full washer/dryer in our condo!  Trust me, I will now always have a small carry-on with me that contains another outfit, shoes, medications and phone cords!  

We packed our luggage (aka Target bags) into the trunk of the rental car and headed to Port Canaveral early as we were nervous about actually locating our luggage.  Two Carnival employees, Kathy (our previous helper) and Mary, assisted us when we arrived.  We waited for about two hours before someone finally set us up to escort Steve into the building where all the luggage had been unloaded from the ship.  Steve walked through hundreds of pieces of luggage twice with his escort, only to find our luggage was not there.  It was not in Zone 1 as Kathy had requested.  Personally I was shocked it wasn't in Zone 1 as requested.  (Okay, that was a bit of sarcasm on my part.)  Finally, a Carnival employee coming off the ship told Steve and his escort that she knew just where it probably was; minutes later she came off the ship with our luggage that had been locked inside the Percer’s Office.  I have to wonder when they planned on bringing it off the ship...

We have never been so relieved to see two pieces of luggage!  I could have kissed each one, but I'm sure that would have been a little weird.  But, do you know how many times that week I had wished I had that luggage??  It had many things in it we needed, and if they had shipped it to us, you can bet it would have been C.O.D and probably cost several hundred dollars to ship!

At this point, we were happy to head back to the airport and fly home.  I can honestly say, we still felt positive, and had enjoyed our time in Orlando, minus all the cruise drama. 

But wait!  It gets even better! 

After landing in San Francisco, we drove to San Pablo, where we had a reservation to spend the night before going home.  The next morning, we went across the street to have a quick breakfast.  When we got back to our car, we found the front passenger door window had been completely broken out and Steve's backpack was gone.  The one with his medications...our passports...and his Galaxy Tab (small computer).  Thankfully it was a hash-n-dash break-in and they didn't take our luggage or the Disney gifts for the grandkids that were in the back of the car!  (We're thankful our son-in-law is our insurance agent, he got things started on the window claim ASAP, and it was fixed on Monday!)

Okay.  In all honesty, at this point, our vacation was now on my very last nerve.  I think we were done telling each other, "It was still a good vacation, even with all that happened!"  It was a very noisy, windy drive home.  We had no passenger window...no backpack with our things...Steve was sick...and we still had to resolve things with Carnival.

After we got home, we called the number that Kathy gave us for the Carnival Care Center.  After spending about 30 minutes on the phone with them, Steve was again told that there would be no refund.  Carnival stated that it was our responsibility to know the tonnage of the ship, and that we should have sailed to the first port and then be flown back to the Orlando airport after the first day of sailing. 

You know, because that made so much sense!

After finishing the call to Carnival, we re-grouped and headed to the walk-in to make sure Steve didn't have strep, picked up his prescription, shopped for his new Galaxy Tab, got groceries, etc.   We pulled into the garage, glad to be done for the evening, only to get out of our brand new van and find it had been sideswiped in one of the parking lots.  Yep, that's right folks!  Two, count them, TWO car claims on the very same day...for different cars.  Sigh.

That's the end of the story.  Almost.  The next Monday, on the way to drop his car off for the window repair, Steve accidentally dropped his GPS (that we didn't want left in the car to be stolen) and it broke.  So he was off to buy a new GPS as he was traveling overnight to the coast that day on business.  

Oy Vey!

But the moral of this story?  It's just "stuff."  We appreciate it...we use it...we like having it...  But in the end, the "stuff" we have isn't what is important in life.  We have the blessing of family and friends, our jobs, and each other and a Chevy Chase Vacation or a car theft are fleeting things in our lives.    

There will be other vacations.  Of course, I really do hope we don't have any more Chevy Chase Vacations.  I don't think you're supposed to come home needing a vacation from the vacation, right?  

So that is all.   Really, isn't that enough??




Tuesday, September 10, 2013

It's Been A Year Since I've Posted..

I wasn't sure I'd post to this blog again, but since I still want to finish printing my blog before shutting it down I decided to do at least one more.  I don't think anyone checks the blog anymore, but I'll have my thoughts down on paper for the future.

Life has been as busy as usual, a few trips here and there in the last year.  In November, 2012, I was in Newport Beach with Steve on business and then we took off from there for vacation.  While in Newport Beach I was able to visit with my good friend, Anita, from my (short) days at Biola.  It had been many years since we'd seen each other so we had lots of catching up to do.  Then we visited Yuma AZ where I saw several high school friends and their spouses.  It was so fun catching up on many years gone by, and it prompted the idea for a mini reunion with 7 of us "girls" for January, 2014, in San Diego.  We are going to spend 3 nights doing whatever we want - which may include a whole lot of talking, eating, more talking, and more eating.  :)

Steve and I leave on a cruise to the Bahamas at the end of this month.  We are ready for a little get-away so it can't come too soon.  We also have a trip scheduled to Sieverville, TN in June, 2014, with Steve's sister and her husband, Leslie and Fred.  We'll all be meeting Steve's half-sister for the first time after finding her a couple of years ago.  She is 20+ years older than we are and is still a Professor at a college in Kingsport.  We'll spend the rest of the week in Sieverville at a Wyndham property, enjoying whatever TN has to offer new tourists like the four of us.

Steve and I just got back from his 2-year bone marrow biopsy follow-up, but this time the news was not as good as we had expected.  His MM has "jumped the barrier" of "smouldering," straight into full-on MM so we were told by the Nurse Practitioner that it was time for chemo treatment.  He feels great, very normal with no symptoms, so it caught us by surprise.  BUT...about two weeks later, his doctor at UCSF looked his results over and said no chemo yet.  Praising God for the answer to many prayers on his behalf!!  Per his doctor, since Steve is feeling great, has no pain or symptoms, and is living a healthy lifestyle, chemo isn't called for yet.  So we're staying in "trusting God for the outcome" mode and working on just moving along in our lives.

As usual I must do an update on my amazing grandbabies - who are mostly no longer babies, but I can still call them that - right??

Emily: I can't believe she's in 6th grade and turning 11 in December.  She's at U-Prep for her first year so it's a year of adjustment but U-Prep goes through high school so she should be there for awhile.  No more recess and she changes classes all day.  She's in concert band (flute), on the Cross-Country Team, and I've loved listening to her plan things about school with her friend, Tessa.  They've discussed whether it's important to apply make-up for school (it's not, just ask their mom's), what clothes to wear, and what to get involved in at school.  How did we reach this pre-teen age so fast??  She's grown up so much lately, and it will be another eye-blink and she'll be off with friends more than we'll see her.  The right of passage to the teen years.  She's still sweet and caring, full of things to talk about, and I love her so much!  She's in the Jr. High youth group at church and went camping with them on the coast.  I can see the rope holding her back loosening up bit by bit, has to happen but it's bittersweet.


Allyson:  Ally is in 2nd grade this year.  She is still a Soccer Queen!  She would spend all her time at sleep-over's at her friends' houses or having them over to her house if she could get away with it.  She's very independent, already does her own hair, can clean the rest of the house with the best of them and could probably bake and cook on her own with a little more instruction.  She's got a funny sense of humor, and has recently gotten her own FB account with family members so she's become quite the little communicator on email.  She's recently become a gluten-free girl to see if it solves some allergy issues and, so far, it has!  She got her own room in the house awhile ago and is loving having her own space.  She's fairly tall for her age so she seems closer to Emily's age to me than Rylee's so I have to remember sometimes - she's only 7!  She has very distinct taste in clothing and loves to shop for her clothes.  She's one of those kids who's just fun to take places, she enjoys just about everything from sports to movies to shopping.  Love this girl to pieces!


Devon: Devon is also in 2nd grade this year!  He played baseball for the first time last spring and did so well at it, it could be "his sport."  He's also in Jujitsu which, from watching him around the house, means lots of tumbling and standing on your head.  :)  He's gotten so agile since he's been taking the Jujitsu classes.  He's still a very even-keeled boy, until he's not.  (Yeah, you parents out there get this one, lol)  He feels things deeply, that boy.  He comes with a side of silliness which, according to my son, seems to come out around me a lot.  What can I say, Dev and I do silly together pretty well!  He's taken off on his bike riding and his dad is working with him on his running.  He's also on his school's Cross-Country Team.  We had the privilege last spring of going with him on his very first visit to Disneyland, which (of course) he loved!  He told me that he and Weston (his cousin) are going to be Scientists and Inventors when they grow up - he'd be the Scientist, and Weston the Inventor - and they'd work together as a team.  Watch out world!  Love this kiddo!
 


Rylee: Ry is still Little Miss Spitfire with a side of Total Sweetness.  She's still all girl when it comes to wearing only skirts and leggings with sparkly shirts.  She loves music and I can always count on Rylee and Ally to sing in the car with me as we're driving along.  She can disarm you with her sweet logic at any moment.  She's a bit picky about eating, especially any meats,  so recently my her mom had this conversation with her after reminding her that she wasn't to say she didn't like something at the dinner table (yet again):  "Well...my self likes it but my tongue doesn't like it. So when I say I don't like something, it's my tongue saying it but my self actually likes it."  Ha!  She's still our huggy, lovey girl, always telling me how special I am, that "I'm the best," etc.  Funny girl!  She is in 1st grade this year and just had her 6th birthday, but she's still an itty-bitty blondie girl.  Her smile and her dimples make it hard to discipline her for sure!  I love every little inch of this girl!  


Nathan:  Nathan, oh that boy!  He is the cutest, sweetest mix of trouble you can hope to meet!  He started Pre-School this year which is good because he's more than ready.  He already seems like he should be a Kindergartner!  Being the 4th child, he's been able to observe all the (ahem!) great things his sisters do so he's basically 3 years, going on 23 years old!  He has no trouble getting the job done, whatever it may be, with no help - of course about half the time that's because he's doing something he really shouldn't be doing.  Like cutting the bushes with scissors...riding his bike out of the neighborhood alone...pulling up the stool to the stove to cook... and more.  He has a fair amount of stubbornness to him, yet his comments are so funny and sweet, it's really hard to be upset with him.  He uses logic fairly well for 3 years of age, so he comes out with things that are surprising.  He's our youngest grandchild and is still at an age where it's special to sit on my lap, give hugs, and be silly with me.  I wouldn't change a thing about this little guy, he's the perfect mix of boy meets adventure!


So that completes the update on these amazing kids!  We have much to look forward to in our lives and one thing God has shown me in the last few years is to enjoy TODAY.  God will take care of our tomorrows.  I realize how blessed I am to have a wonderful family, and to have them all live close enough that we have a front row seat for the show!  I don't take it lightly and thank God everyday for this blessing!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Is It Time To Let It Go...?

I used to blog often, but it's been sporadic for a long time now.  I'm wondering if it's time to have my blog printed to preserve all our fun stories and pictures and then let it go permanently.  It's so easy to jump on Facebook, post pictures, cute stories, etc., there.  It seems like very few people I know still blog.  I miss the other blogs but yet I find myself forgetting about my own.

For now I thought I'd post a little update about our lives right now.  It may be the last hurrah...and it may not be.  We shall see.  And because of that, something tells me (before I even get started here), this will be a long post.  You have been warned!

Steve and I are doing great, we work, we play, the normal stuff of life.  We're going on an early anniversary celebration with Leslie and Fred to Napa for a wine tour for Labor Day.  It's our first wine tour and we're looking forward to the cooler weather in Napa.  

Our fall vacation is a simple plan this time, no cruises or trips to Florida (darn!).  We're looking forward to heading to SoCal in November to see my brother, Mark, and Steve's brother, Tom.  While in San Diego, we're going to sprint over to Yuma for a night and hope to have dinner with as many friends there as possible, a mini-reunion of sorts.  I'm hoping it works out as it would be nice to see them in person instead of just on Facebook!  And of course, there will be the pre-requisite trip to see Mickey because when you're that close, you just have to stop by and see him!

Josh and Devon are doing well.  Josh did his first Iron Man (Vineman) in July and surpassed his goals at the finish.  Seriously amazing!  His next run is a 100-mile in Oregon next month.  Yes, my son is C.R.A.Z.Y.  He will run from Saturday at 6:00 a.m. to Sunday, somewhere around the noon hour.  I'm just hoping we bring him home alive!  (I am the worrier of the family and I take that job seriously.  I admit it, and I am not ashamed!  lol)  Devon starts 1st grade this year, hard to believe.

Jamie, Mike and kids are busy, which is the best word for it because 4 children = BUSY!  The girls just started soccer again, school is coming up next week (Emily in 5th, Allyson in 1st, Rylee in Kindergarten).  Nate will be home keeping his mama company at home.  Trust me, Nate will keep her busy all by himself.  Let's just say he's inventive!  They are adding AWANA back into the mix this year so between homework, soccer and AWANA, their weeks will fly by!

The year of 2012 has been an interesting year so far.  The political and economic temps in our country seem to make the world feel a little more unsure these days.  My older brother was killed in a roadside freeway accident in May.  A co-worker's house burned to the ground early this summer, shortly after her mom passed away.  We know two people who had suicides in their families.  Steve crashed on his bicycle, badly breaking his collarbone and ribs that resulted in surgery.  He's had some medical testing going on for his cancer, which is always a little unnerving.  It left us with the thought, "What is going on these days?"  It kind of made me dread telephone calls there for awhile, it was like waiting for the other shoe to drop!

But through it all, strangely enough for ME, the worrier, I've had peace abounding most of the time. Yes, some moments were harder than others, but while it's been a stressful year, God has left me with an unusual amount of peace about it all.  (Maybe because I kept asking for it?)

The thing I rely on, count on, is that God DOES have the plan.  He knows it because it's His plan.  He told us we would have sorrow on this earth because sin and Satan reside here.  But they are not the winners of the race, He is and therefore, so are we!    

But...2012 has brought many good things too!  We enjoyed a cruise in January, we went to Disneyland with some of our grandchildren, and we've gotten to see my "sister" Nancy, my niece January and her twins more this year than normal (sometimes the circumstances weren't great, but we enjoyed being together).  Steve got his job in March after about 5 very dry years of unemployment and/or not-so-wonderful jobs, and he is in really good health for someone with cancer.  And of course, our family and friends are blessings to us, always!  

The grandkids keep us laughing all the time.  Want some examples?  (I know you do!)
Nate (2):  Let's see...Jamie found him with the key in the ignition, halfway to starting the car.  He finds screwdrivers to take apart his toys so he can ask Jamie for new batteries.  He lives to mow lawns.  He gets the lawn mower out of the shed, pulls it around to the porch, plugs the lawn mower in, and waits for daddy to come home to "help" him mow.  Often when I come over, the first thing he asks me is, "Do you have a lawn mower?  Do you have an edger?"  What 2-year old asks that??  He also loves to cook and his special tool of choice is the hand mixer.  Jamie regularly finds it in his room and now has to hide the beaters so he can't turn it on and hurt himself.  He asks to have it in his room when he goes to bed.  Seriously, this boy loves anything with a motor, and anything to do with cooking!
Rylee (5):  Rylee has already had flowers from a boy.  She plans to marry him.  :)  She is the hugger of the family.  She was sitting with her head on my shoulder awhile back and said, "I wish I could keep you, Nana."  (Uh, you can?)  Jamie had her doing the dusting the other day as they are learning the chore chart this summer.  She stopped dusting and stood there for a minute, then said, "God told me that I am not done dusting yet. I heard him because he's in my heart. So I better finish."   She loves, loves bugs.  For her birthday last week we gave her a bug house and bug watch, which are places to store her captured bugs and worms so there aren't 40 water bottles laying around outside their house with bugs in them.  Nate joins in that fun and now I'm told by Jamie that they've released several catches in the house and car.  Nothing like some beatles on the roof of your car, right?  You're welcome Jamie!  
Devon (6):  Devon is this sweet easy-going little gentlemen, until you get him together with Allyson, then they are like a double tornado!  He is also one of our more huggy grandchildren.  He has a tender heart, yet is very sure of himself.  About the time I think he's all gentlemenly and such, he'll say something that throws me.  Example you ask?  (This example is NOT complimentary to myself so I can't believe I'm using it - but I am.)  He was standing behind me to get in the car while I adjusted his booster seat.  I turn around and he said, "Nana, you have a big behind!"  Gulp!  I told him that I might indeed have a big behind, but that's not something you should say to anyone, especially a girl!  His response was, "Okay, but you do."  Oh.Wowzers.   And folks, that was the beginning of my diet!  Just Devon, being real, right?  I don't know anybody else like that, right Josh  :)

Allyson (6):  Ally is well-rounded, and I think she might do well with sports.  She caught onto swimming this summer and is a fish.  I think she'd love being on a swim team.  She loves soccer, church, school, cooking, you name it.  She is learning to cook, and she can clean and organize just like Jamie or I do, amazing!  She can be relentless with things she wants at times.  I think she could talk a turtle into a foot race with a rabbit! She is a people-pleaser overall.  Every teacher loves Ally because she works to do things well and listens to what she's told to do.  She loves to sing, out of all the kids, I think I could talk her into doing a duet with me for church or a program.  Maybe some day?    
 Emily (9):  Emily is brilliant and fact-seeking, she reminds me of the Professor on Gilligan's Island.  So much "stuff" going on in her head she's not always aware of what's happening around her.  :)  She is soft-hearted and I have never seen a girl so "okay" with helping and worrying about her sister's and brother's well-being.  She makes sure Ally and Nate DO NOT touch peanuts...or dogs...or cats... or anything else they are allergic to these days.  (Yes, we all carry epi-pens in this family!)  Like Allyson, she is learning to cook.  But unlike Allyson, she is not happy about it.  Just not her thing. One thing about Emily that I love is she sees mostly good in people.  And if you are around her at all, no matter where she is, there are 2-3 books in her arms.  She is full of facts that wouldn't have a chance at staying a full day in my brain!

So there's our August, 2012 update!  Thanks for reading!     




Thursday, May 10, 2012

And Last, But Certainly Not Least, Comes Rylee

My date with Rylee was simple, relaxing and fun.  She is a great date.

She had no real expectations except she knew she wanted to have her crab dinner at Red Lobster.  I asked her what she wanted to do after dinner and I expected her to tell me she wanted to go shopping, or feed the ducks, or go to a movie, or...who knows, after all, this IS Rylee.  But when I asked her what she wanted to do after dinner she looked at me like I'd lost my mind and said, "Go home and go to bed!"  Haha!  That would be one easy and cheap date for me!  I asked her if she wanted to go shopping for a little something special, maybe buy a new movie to watch and spend the night at my house??  She said, "OH!  YES!  I DO!"  That girl lives in the moment I guess!


I picked her up and we headed to Red Lobster.  In the lobby we stopped to check out the lobster tank.  There was one really big one trying to "cuddle" up to another lobster.  Rylee told me, "Those lobsters are in looovvve!"  LOL!  We got our dinner on the table she asked the server for more to drink.  When the server brought her more lemonade, she told the server, "You're really, really nice, you know that?"  ;)


This is where I did her interview with the same questions the other kids answered.  So for memory sake, here are her answers:

1.  What is your favorite movie?   Princess and the Pauper

2.  What makes you the happiest?  Going biking

3.  What did Jesus do on the cross for you?  Died.  For us.

4.  Where would you like to go on vacation?  Red Lompster  (Vacationing, just down the street from home!  And all the girls have called Red Lobster "Red Lompster")

5.  Who is your best friend?  Travis.  But I'm not going to listen to Ally and marry him.  Travis says kisses are really yucky.  Too weird!

6.  What are you most afraid of?  A monster  

7.  What is your favorite thing about yourself?  That I really love mommy and daddy

8.  What is your favorite thing to do at home for fun?  Play.

9.  What is your favorite food?  Crab.

10.  What do you want to be when you grow up?  An alien.  I mean dress like an alien.  No, a scientist.





(You have to turn your kid's menu into a hat before you leave, right?)


Just before we left the restaurant, I said, "So...where do you want to shop for something fun?"  She chose Target so we drove just across the road to Target.  As we got into the parking lot, Rylee asked me, "Why are we here?"  Ummm, didn't you just say like 2 minutes ago you wanted to go to Target?  She says, "Oh yeah," and starts giggling.

We were about 20 feet inside the front door of the store and she found her special thing in the dollar section.  She picked it up, said this is what I want and her name is Squishy.   Here's Squishy:



Now, am I wrong, or does this look like a dog toy?  I guess she had the same thought because while we were in Target shopping she asked me if Squishy was a dog toy.  I told her I sure hoped it wasn't!  I kept saying, are you sure that's what you want?  We can go look in the toy department to see what else you might like.  She said, "Okay, but I'm keeping Squishy."  And so she did.  I can't complain, it cost a whole $2.50 and it made her smile.  See?


(Okay, that's kind of a scary smile, but that's what I got when I told her to smile if she loved her new Squishy.)

She picked out Lion King II for her new movie and we headed home.  She wanted popcorn with butter for her snack so I got the popper out for the evening's entertainment. She thinks watching the corn pop is better than Disneyland!  (Well, not really, but close.)


She went to bed with her movie and movie snack, and of course with Squishy right by her side, and konked out for the night as soon as her movie was done.

An easy-peasy and fun date night with just me and Rylee.  Oh yeah, and Squishy too.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Summertime, Summertime, Sum Sum Summertime...

I may not love the heat that summer brings, but there are many things about summertime that I do enjoy.  Here are my Top 10 Summertime Favorites:

I love that after I get off work during the week, it's still light for hours afterward.  It's like having half of a Saturday to go do things before it's dark!

I love the summer vegetables and fruits...watermelon, summer squash, strawberries and more!

Here in NorCal, you can make a picnic or grab Subway, throw it in a cooler and head to the lake for the day, or just an evening.  We have some beautiful mountain beaches about 15 minutes from here (Whiskeytown), and a really nice higher mountain lake (Siskiyou) about an hour from here.

I love having the kids playing on their bikes or in the backyard until dark, reminds me of the days when I was rollerskating with friends and playing hide-and-seek in the neighborhood, sometimes until 11:00 p.m., with our parents and the neighbors sitting in the front yards in lawn chairs, sipping iced tea.  (You just don't see neighbors doing that anymore, so sad.  Helllooo cable TV and internet!)

It's swim suit time!  Now, normally putting on a swim suit is more scary than exciting, but when you're hanging out at the lake with the family or going out on the kayak, it's worth it!

Bike Season!  Need I say more?  While it's hot hot hot outside right after work, it's still the season when I can can get back on my bike!  But in our part of the state, you can time it so you go a little later when it's cooling down into the 80's, or even better, go on Saturday morning around 7:00 a.m. - it's beautiful then, especially along the Sacramento River.

It's light both when you wake up and when you get off work, I feel so much more energetic that way! In NoCal, it's light until 9:30 (at least) at peak time.

Summer always brings two words to mind - SUMMER VACATIONS!!  Funny enough, since our kids are grown and we don't have to work around school schedules, we rarely vacation in the summer anymore.  Even so, summertime always makes me start thinking about vacation and I have visions of Disneyland, cruises, a cabin in the mountains...

Summer brings sleeveless shirts, capris, sundresses and....yes...FLIP FLOPS!!  While I wear my flip flops from about April (if it's not still cold and rainy) through October, I really miss them in the fall and winter!

Summer colors...flowers...shady trees...green grass...vegetable gardens.  I love having our shady front and back trees with full leaves, new flowers and veggies planted, and green green grass.  It's no wonder green is my favorite color, I find it peaceful and soothing!

So...there's my Top 10 Things Summertime Favorites that make me smile!  What are your favorites?