Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Vacation rundown

Ok, now that I have a little time, I'll give you all the highlights and lowlights of the trip (you've already heard a few). As I mentioned before, our Eastern Caribbean cruise turned into a Western because of Hurricane Rita. Instead of enjoying 2 days at sea before heading to St. Maarten, we docked at Castaway Cay on Sunday morning. Brian and Noah had a fishing excursion and Emily had a teen excursion involving biking, snorkeling, and kayaking. I didn't do much of anything; I guess that was to prepare me for the rest of the week. That night, none of the kids ate dinner with us; the 3 younger were in the clubs and Emily ate with a new friend and her family. We were able to sit with a pair of sisters whom I had met online before the cruise and had a great time, never lacking for conversation. They turned out to be good companions for the rest of the cruise as well.

Monday was our sea day. Not a lot to say about it, except that was the first night we had our new servers due to switching to late seating from early. Things did not go well, and we asked to have new ones for our next dinner. Of course, that dinner was the one after I broke my foot, and I already posted about how great our server was that night. He never disappointed us for the rest of the trip. Also on Monday, because of our dinner troubles, we missed the comedy show that night (our meal took much longer than it should have), but bumped into our dinner friends from Sunday night and wound up going back to our suite to play cards (SkipBo, for those who are into details). We ordered up sodas and cookies and had a great time with Jenny and Melissa (the sisters).

Our Cozumel excursion was canceled because of rough seas and wind, so the main attraction of the day was shopping. Big deal. Brian wheeled me around Cozumel, boys in tow (Halle in the club, her favorite place to be). I just don't get into shopping, especially with every shop having someone out in front trying to lure us in.

Thursday was Brian and Emily's horseback riding excursion in Costa Maya. Despite coating himself with OFF, Brian still managed to get eaten alive by insects. He came back with one eye swollen and had to take Benadryl and use an icepack to get the swelling down.

That night's entertainment was Gary DeLena; he did a family show early on, plus one for the adults later that night. Both were fun. Gary was on our first cruise as well; he did some of his old stuff, but had plenty of new to keep us laughing. He even picked on my husband, because we were sitting in the front row along with Jenny and Melissa. (Note to guys: don't sit with 3 women in the front row of a comedy show if you don't want to wind up as material for the act.) Gary was also part of the Farewell Show on Friday night. The Farewell Show was great... I was actually in tears; I didn't want our cruise to end. More tears that night at dinner when the servers did their parade of nations singing "It's a Small World." Heck, I'm getting verklempt just remembering it.

Despite the mishaps, it was a good time overall. Aleks, our server from Croatia, worked tirelessly to make our dinners enjoyable. Sonja and Erika, the concierge team, were also wonderful. Every day, there was some kind of treat in the room (food, arcade cards for the kids, hidden Mickey scavenger hunt). And our suite was unbelievable. I cannot imagine not getting it again. Hopefully we will be back onboard in 2007.

I'll try to post pictures soon.

Monday, September 26, 2005

This boot was made for walkin'

So we made it home... not at our originally scheduled time, but still on the same day. Our original flight plans would have taken us through Houston, which was closed on Saturday. The airline told us the soonest they could get us out of Orlando was Tuesday afternoon. Thanks to Brian's forethought in purchasing insurance on our tickets, we were able to get a flight with another airline (JetBlue) and still get home somewhat on time. The 6-hour flight from JFK to San Jose would have really been a killer if not for the DirectTV. It was nice to get to see Trading Spaces; I hadn't seen it in months.

But on to the title of this post... once we were up and about yesterday, Brian took me up to the base to get my foot checked out. After a 2-hour wait in the ER, I was finally called in. X-rays confirmed our suspicions that my foot was broken. I fractured the 5th metatarsal (the long bone on the outside/bottom of your foot). I am now in a highly fashionable boot that demands I stay out of certain neighborhoods for fear that someone will mug me for it. I am stylin'. I have a recheck on Friday to see if we are going to continue with the boot or cast it.

I want to post about vacation, but I'll save that for later. Today there is much to do to get the house back in order.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

What next?

So I'm sitting here with an Ace bandage wrapped around my left foot. Yesterday was our first port day since the first full day of the trip (when we stopped at Castaway Cay, Disney's private island). We were anchored off of Grand Cayman and tendered in on small (80+ people) boats. We decided to head over to the island a little earlier than we needed to for our excursion in order to check out the shopping. We made it through one shop before I lost my footing on a raised sidewalk (about 3 stair-steps from the main sidewalk) and fell. I don't know exactly what I've done to myself, but walking is painful (although not as bad today as yesterday). We came back to the ship and got a bandage and ice, and I sat around the suite all afternoon with my foot up. The concierge brought a wheelchair for me to use last night and it was very helpful. Today I am hobbling for now. I don't want to miss today's excursion in Cozumel, a catamaran sail with time to snorkel and swim (not sure if I'll get out of the boat or not, since I don't know how hard it will be to get back on with this bum foot). As long as my foot doesn't get worse, I'll live with it and maybe get it checked out when we get back home. The wheelchair is ours to use as long as I need it on the ship.

The kids are having a great time. Poor Halle fell asleep at dinner last night, so Brian had to carry her back to the suite. Our server actually pushed me all the way back, up the elevator from the 3rd floor to the 8th and from the aft end of the ship to the forward. I had several "cast members" offer assistance during the times I was piloting myself in the chair while Brian was busy with the kids.

Even with this setback, I'm wishing our cruise wasn't going to be over so soon. I love life on board.

Saturday, September 17, 2005


Well, here we are aboard the Disney Magic.... We have dinner in our bellies and the 3 youngest kids are all in their clubs, ready to party the night away without parental intrusion. Looks like rough seas in store for our original destination (Eastern Caribbean), so we've been rerouted to Cozumel and Grand Cayman, with a first stop in the morning at Disney's island, Castaway Cay. We were looking forward to those 2 straight days at sea on our original itinerary, but welcome the chance to see something new as well.

Had a great time during our 2 days in Orlando before the cruise. Our 2-bedroom villa at Beach Club Villas was great; I can definitely picture a week-long (or longer) stay! The washer/dryer came in quite handy. We were able to meet up with old neighbors/friends on Friday and did MGM and Epcot with them. Best rides of the trip: Test Track and Soarin'. Soarin' is awesome. I'm looking forward to riding that again when we visit Disney's California Adventure after Thanksgiving this year.

Backing up a bit.... I have to pass on the shaky start we had. We left home much later than we wanted to on Tuesday. We dropped the rats off at their sitters' house and then ate a quick meal at McDonald's. I had mapped the "quickest" route with Microsoft Streets and Trips... unbeknownst to me, this route was very twisty and curvy. It was not a "quick" trip by any means. And then poor Joel, sitting in the 3rd row, lost his dinner. Thankfully we were near a 7-11 and were able to clean out the truck and his seat, spray everything with Febreze, and get him cleaned up and in clean clothes. The best is yet to come, though. When we reached our hotel in San Jose and carted everything inside (we were doing a Park and Fly), Halle asked, "Where's my suitcase?" Yes, it was back home, an hour and a half away. It was now shortly after 10pm and Brian, who had been up since 4:15am, had to drive back home to retrieve her clothes. He got back around1:45... we got up at 3:30 to get ready for our 4:15 shuttle to the airport. Yes, Wednesday was a VERY long day!!!

Off to see what fun there is to enjoy tonight!

Monday, September 12, 2005

Getting down to the wire

OK, today's goal is to PACK. We are leaving this house in less than 36 hours and I haven't packed a thing yet! But on top of packing, I have to shop. Joel has outgrown both his tennis shoes and his "church" shoes. He'll need the dress shoes for at least 2 nights on the ship, maybe more. So shopping, packing, and... oh yes, laundry. There really isn't that much to wash, but I have to get everything clean before we go so everything we could possibly want to pack is clean (and we won't leave behind a pile of laundry to add to what we'll bring home) . Thankfully, we'll have a washer/dryer in our villa at WDW, so that on Friday night I can wash up everything we will have worn in the previous 2-3 days before we get on the ship the next day. That makes packing easier... we won't have to pack quite as much as we would otherwise. We may do a little laundry on board as well. I know, laundry and vacation?? The two don't seem to go together. But ya gotta do what ya gotta do.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Picture post

Here are the promised pictures of Emily's "babies," along with our dog Campbell.

This is Brooke. She is the larger of the two and tends to be a little more laid back.

This is Summer. She tends to be very active, except when she wants to snuggle with the dog.

He isn't sure whether to love her or eat her.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Say cheese

We bought a new digital camera today. I think it is going to be awesome, and can't wait to start taking some pictures. (The battery is still charging right now.) It has a 12x optical zoom and image stabilization; that last feature is priceless. Sometimes my hands shake so much when I'm taking pictures, I think I'm in the early stages of Parkinson's. I think once we get back from vacation, I want to check around and see if there are any photography classes I could take... I'd really like to get as much out of the camera as I can. What would be awesome would be something like an online tutorial for using different features and learning the different camera settings (this one allows for manual settings, much like those of a traditional 35mm SLR).

So no packing got done... but we did find a couple of shirts for Emily to take on the cruise with her. She had 2 new skirts with nothing to wear with them. I certainly hope there isn't anything else we need. I guess I'll find out when we finally do start to pack!

And now for the latest quiz:

Your Brain's Pattern
Your brain is always looking for the connections in life.

You always amaze your friends by figuring out things first.

You're also good at connecting people - and often play match maker.

You see the world in fluid, flexible terms. Nothing is black or white.

Not sure about the matchmaking part, but the rest sounds spot on.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Making a list, checking it twice

The kids and I are working on keeping things done around the house after finishing up with school. It doesn't come naturally to any of us, but it does to Brian. So he is helping by giving each of us a list of things to accomplish each day. Noah and Halle both had a sense of pride today in what they accomplished (if you'd seen Halle's room before she cleaned it, you'd have been proud, too!). Thankfully, we got so much done today that unless someone totally trashes the place tomorrow, or goofs off too much during schooltime, we'll actually have some free time in the afternoon. Today I was going non-stop until after Brian got home from work, and I didn't even finish what was on my list.


Just 6 more days till we fly out to Orlando! We'll probably start packing some things this weekend. We'll be spending 3 nights at the Beach Club Villas, having Joel's 5th birthday dinner next Thursday night at Chef Mickey's, and then boarding the Disney Magic for a 7-night cruise on Saturday. I am soooo looking forward to this trip. Can't wait to see our Category 2 cabin!! We have plans to do a tall ship day cruise on St. Maarten and a tour of St. John; Noah and Brian also plan a morning of bottom fishing our last day. I hope everyone has a good time.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


Emily's rats finally came home today. They were on 3 weeks of antibiotics and had to finish them before we could bring them home. Campbell accompanied us to Petco to pick them up, and while we were waiting, he enjoyed looking at the small mice... or rather, he enjoying trying to figure out how he could get to the small mice so he could eat them! So now Emily will get to enjoy her babies for about a week until we go on vacation, then a couple of her friends from church will rat-sit for her while we're gone.

Speaking of Emily, she has been honing her Paint Shop Pro skills and becoming quite talented at designing graphics. She has launched a graphics site with some of her Neopets friends here. And she has also designed a new blog. The template and graphics are hers.

We had a very industrious day around here of school and housework. There was barely time to eat... and it is so close to dinner now that I am going to tolerate my growling stomach until we get to wherever it is we decide to eat before church.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Happy Labor Day

While many people took the day off today, the kids and I continued on with school. Since we have a vacation coming up in just a little over a week, I wanted to get as much schooltime in as possible before we leave. Brian was home, and it was nice having him around. He grilled us some great steaks for dinner. Since we aren't really drinkers, we don't have much experience with wine, but on the recommendation of a friend, we marinated our steaks in a dry marinade mixed with equal parts water and red wine. It was awesome. Of course, the bottle is going to sit there waiting till the next time we are in the mood for steak....

Joel and I are reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe at bedtime right now. He does such a great job of listening. He can usually remember what we read in the previous chapter. I don't remember any of the others being still long enough to listen to an entire chapter of a book at this age. Of course Emily was beginning to read already by the time she was 5, and rarely asked me to read anything to her after that. Halle tends to read to herself at night, as does Noah. I'd love to read to all 3 of them at once, but it is anything but peaceful when I try that!!

Tomorrow night is the first meeting of the local home educators' group in Napa. I'm looking forward to going. I haven't met any other homeschoolers yet; I sure hope I make some good contacts at the meeting. Hopefully there will be some parents of girls around Emily's age.

It feels good to be getting ready for bed with a house that is mostly in order. Brian did a lot over the weekend to help get it that way. One thing we did a few nights ago was switch seating furniture around between the family room and the living room. We have a combination living/dining room which used to have our denim sectional in it. I always felt very cramped/crowded.... there was no floor space and the back of the sectional was just a few feet from one side of the dining table. We moved it into the family room and moved in the leather sofa and loveseat, plus coffee and end tables. With those two seating pieces on a diagonal, the room is much more open. And both rooms are staying a little cleaner. And that's a good thing.

Sunday stuff

What a day today has been.... much activity around here! It began with getting kids up and ready for Bible class and worship. That went off without a hitch. We actually got out of the house on time (no waiting on Emily to finish getting ready, as she spent last night with a friend from church). Class was good, basically an overview of this summer's sessions. We had been watching DVDs of the keynotes from the Pepperdine Lectureship held earlier this year. We were treated to some great lessons from Randy Harris, Jeff Walling, Mike Cope, Ken Durham, and Greg Anderson. It made me look forward to next year's Lectureship... I hope we can make the trip down to Malibu for it.

Being a holiday weekend, the praise team was running a bit short-staffed. The soprano section was the only one to have 2 people to sing; the bass, tenor, and alto (moi) sang alone. I didn't mind so much (this is only my 2nd weekend), but it was a little nervewracking because some of the songs were pretty new to me. We heard lots of good things afterwards, though, so I felt good about it. I feel very lucky to be able to use my voice to serve God in this manner.... he has given me such a love of singing and to be able to do what I love to honor him is to feel incredibly blessed.

Jarrod preached an awesome sermon based on the passage in Mark in which John told Jesus he tried to stop some men from casting out demons, because they didn't follow Jesus and the disciples. He pointed out Jesus response was that if these people weren't against him, they were for him.... And then he led us to a modern application of that story: how often do we try to negate what others do for Christ because they don't "follow us?" Because they don't hold to the same doctrines we do? It was a very powerful sermon.

We got home with a couple of hours to spare before needing to head back to church to prepare for Reunion. Again we had a 5-member praise team rather than the usual 8. We ran through the songs for tonight; and once more there were a few new ones for me. Tonight was my first experience with an emergent kind of worship service.... I think when it isn't the everyday experience of worship, it makes it very special. I don't think I could imagine doing it every week.

Once we got home, we had some work to do around here... Brian did some cleaning and laundry while I worked on planning the kids' schoolwork for the next week or so. Only 6 more school days before we get ready to leave for our vacation!! I still haven't found a place to board the dog... ack!

Sunday, September 04, 2005

My Katrina post

I've written, deleted, written, deleted... I don't think there's anything I could say that others haven't said before (and probably better). I've intentionally not blogged about this because there's just been so much controversy surrounding the events in the aftermath of the storm. I don't like controversy.... I go out of my way to avoid it. But I'm just going to make a few statements and let it go.

1. Will the naysayers please stop blaming others for the situation in New Orleans? I'm sorry so many people could not get out... but why didn't the powers that be in N.O. ask for assistance in evacuating the homeless ahead of time, rather than wait until after the levees broke to ask for aid? Yeah, it's hindsight. And I'm not going to blame them for not being proactive... but they need to accept their responsibility as well.

2. Is there any good news being reported??? I don't have cable, don't get the daily paper, so all I know is what I see online.... most of which has been this person complaining about that one, looters, people shooting at helicopters trying to rescue victims. I'm tired of the media focusing on the lowest common denominator; let's see the stories of heroism, of people's faith in God to bring them through, of the countless individuals and small groups trying to make a difference.

3. I sit here almost 2300 miles away from New Orleans and wish there was a way I could personally help someone... I mean directly touch them, not write a check or send a blanket or soap or shampoo. Those of you who are closer to the situation than I am... you have a unique and precious opportunity to be Christ to these people. I pray you can do that. Be his hands and his feet for those of us who are too far away to do it ourselves.

4. I pray for comfort for those who lost loved ones and for survivors who lost everything else.... and justice for those who would take advantage of tragedy for their own personal gain.

I guess that's about all I have to say on the subject at this point. Certainly nothing profound, but it's what I feel at the moment.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Quote of the day

Author and lecturer Marianne Williamson:

"'Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.' We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn't serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we subconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we're liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

Talk amongst yourselves.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Harry Connick, Jr. gets religion

I love my XM radio. It is nice being able to listen to the kind of music I want without having to worry about whether there's a local station or not. For instance, back in Omaha, we listened to KLOVE all the time. Out here, even though there are some KLOVE affiliates, the reception in our neck of the woods just isn't good enough to allow us to listen on a regular basis. Now, my XM isn't in the house, it's in my van... but that's OK. I am in my van on a fairly regular basis. So XM has a great Christian station called "The Fish." Its playlist is a bit more varied than KLOVE's, and I've been introduced to some new artists... Today as I was out and about, I heard "Blessed Assurance" in a style I've never heard before: Big Band. I did a double take, checked the display to see who this was (another feature I love about XM) and saw "Denver & MHO." I made a mental note to search for them when I had time today... and I finally had time tonight. Denver and the Mile High Orchestra is definitely a one of a kind group. I haven't fully formed my opinion of them yet. They're fun to listen to, but hearing "It Is Well with My Soul" in a peppy swing style is just....different. Go listen and see what you think. I think it sounds like Bill Gaither channeling Harry Connick, Jr.

Something's missing

Apparently Blogger Templates has either deleted a bunch of its graphics files or there is trouble with its hosting. My template graphics are now gone, as well as the graphics on BT's webpage. ***sigh***

This doesn't make for a very pretty page, does it? I may have to throw myself on the mercy of Zoot. She was originally going to design something for me and I was going to get a hosting account somewhere else, but with my move and all, we had to put it off. Now that she designs for Blogger, maybe I can get a redesign without moving and having to migrate everything. Can't hurt to ask.

(Edited to add: Ok, the graphics are back now. I guess last night was meant to just jumpstart me into writing Zoot and get my redesign on her schedule, one of those things I meant to do, but never seemed to get around to.)

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