Thursday, March 31, 2011

Back to Reality!

We are home! And we are exhausted! HA! It was a wonderful and fabulous trip and I was so sad when it was time to come home....but Home is Home and it always feels good to reach Home! I'll share a quick overview of our trip and include some pictures in the next few days if I can.

I woke up Sunday the 20th at 12:30 a.m. instead of when the alarm was to go off at 2:30 a.m. I think ExCiTeMeNt got the best of me! We were loaded with about 14 suitcases and off we went to the airport. Flights were on time and connections made in Atlanta.

At 5:00 a.m. it is very hard to look perky!

Packing the van at 3:00 a.m.

Darbo had a lot of energy at the airport!

We arrived in San Juan, Puerto Rico around 4:30 p.m. and were on the ship around 5:00 p.m. And the fun began!

Our 3 rooms were spread out on the 7th deck but that provided A LOT of exercise. We ate enough on a daily basis that warranted plenty of exercise and walking. Food is available 24 hours a day all over the boat. We spent the first day (Monday) at sea and oh how relaxing that was.  The bad part was that despite ALL the 50+ and 70+ sunscreen we lathered on, all 7 of us still had sunburns from the tops of our heads to our toes. OUCH!

First day was at sea....we headed to the loungers!

5,000 plus people!
Windy but oh so warm!
Belly Flop contest!
Awesome Reggae band....One Love

We were 270 miles north of Venezula in Barbados, so that is very close to the equator.....very intense sun! We continued to bath in sunscreen all week. Knowing the weather back in Kansas was in the 30's with some rain and snow eased the tenderness of the burns! HA! No complaints here!

Barbados was our first island and where we had to get the taxi/van/shuttle bus systems figured out! We also had to get a grip on driving being on the left hand side and the driver driving from the right hand side of vehicle. Most of the rides we took, I just closed my eyes. One of our bus rides involved the driver stopping along the street, running into a store, jumping back in, taking off at a huge speed, and popping his beer open while texting with the other hand. Yea, we were pretty happy to get back to port! By the time we got to our 5th island, we became a LITTLE more knowledgeable at it! Speaking of LITTLE, we had the cutest, sweetest, most adorable Cruise Director from the UK. She had the most beautiful English accent. Just the way she said "lit el" was so lovely. She greeted with "Hello my lovely". The girls and I spent the week trying to be "English" with our words. We would run in to her and tell her we were trying to speak like her.

The shopping was a blast and we had fun looking at all the bargains on the island. St. Maarten is well known for it's duty free shopping. Many tourist buy expensive gems, diamonds, tanzanite, Caribbean topaz at lower prices. We received many free coupons for small tokens from the jewelry stores. In one of the stores, I was trying to get my coupon item and they were determined to sell me a ring for $1695. thank you....just here for my freebie! We are more T shirt, hat, bag, coffee mug type shoppers! The island natives who were selling are very persistent and I think I said "No Thank You"  with a smile a multitude of times. On one of the islands as we were lounging in our chaises, Darb and I got a plan. We "faked" sleep until they went by and then gave each other the "All Clear".

We saw lots of beautiful shells and iguanas and crabs and birds and Rodney and I even came up on a beach where the stingrays were hovering in the 1-2' waters by the beach. I waded in bravely (probably stupidly) and stirred the stingrays "stinger" with my flip flops. On another beach I spotted a large conch shell buried in the sand in the shallow waters. I had a carry on with beautiful shells to bring home. I think I'll try making some necklaces or earrings. Any suggestions?

The waters of the Caribbean are hard to describe if you have not seen them. Pictures honestly do not do them justice. Breathtaking is how I describe them. As I stood on a beach in Antigua looking at the beauty, I could only think "Be still and know that I am God."  Psalm 46:10  Definitely NOT man-made.....only God created.  Being on a beautiful peaceful beach is my favorite place I do believe. I love to walk in the shallow waters and feel the sand in my toes and hear the gentle waves.

I'll just attach some random pictures in no order! Darb got a new Canon camera before we left. To be quite honest....she was a little "crazy" with her camera! She chased an iguana all over St. Croix taking his picture! But we are happy to have fun pictures to look at now!

Merrill Osmond was one of the performers. A great show and very nice man...we met up with him at the Guest Relations desk and talked about being regular Branson, MO visitors. He told us to look him up when we came and he would remember us!!

Formal night
Dad and Darb's rendition of the Titantic on the bow!
This was a nightly visit...Tony B at the Piano Lounge....a great sing along time!
Zach and someone from Barbados talking about his boat
Eating at the Wind Jammer was a favorite part of the day!
The waiters performed songs and dances for everyone most of the nights.
Every night "Elliott" would make us a "towel animal".....elephant!
Disco night....YMCA....Macho Macho Men
My little girls on Formal Night
Family Formal Night

Tune in later for more pictures....I will get better at this!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Chaos in the House

I think that "Chaos in the House" could be the title of a movie about our family. I don't think there is a day that goes by that a loud, shrill "MOOOMMMM, have you seen my ___________?" doesn't ring out. I am notorious (and very good I might add) at knowing where "things" are that may not even belong to me. I can generally give locations for a lost phone, a set of keys, a needed paper or homework assignment.  Lately, with trying to go on a 7 night trip with 7 people I have been locating many items. There are suitcases, clothes, piles, electronics, chargers, hats, books, sunglasses...etc. all over the house. It tends to make me a little "crazy". I'm not OCD about neatness usually (as my house will tell you)...but I do like semi-control with the contents of the home. I'm having a hard time seeing how all these items will go into suitcases and become hidden and out of sight. I still have to find feeders for the dog and cats. Sometimes getting ready for vacations is ExHaUsTiNg, huh? By the time you are ready to go, you are ready to take a long nap! Ha!
We are hoping to leave our house at 3:00 a.m (yes A.M.) Sunday to get to airport for an early flight. We are hoping to be in sunny San Juan by 4:00 p.m. for an evening ship departure. Eastern Kansas is supposed to have 5 days of rain starting today. Good grief! Anyone who will be drenched in rain for a few days will be in my thoughts and I will be thinking of you and hopefully sending sun your way. (If we get sun!)
It's now 8:45 p.m. and I'm heading to bed. The bags are packed (I think mine weighed in at the most...yikes!) and ready and clothes are laid out.
I'm going to miss YOU my blog friends so much and I can't wait to get back to you when I get home. I really will be thinking of you and wondering what you will be blogging about. I send WARM and SUNNY blessings to you and pray the Lord watches over you. 
And so in this closing, I send my Bon Voyage waves to you. Have a terrific week and hope to talk to you very soon, Lord willing.

Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;
Ephesians 5:20

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Hope you are having a wonderful St. Patty's Day! My class is in full force with GREEN today! Green clothes, fingernails, hats, jewelry, necklaces......AND we are having GREEN snacks today! Pickles, green sherbet floats, cupcakes, cookies....
Yes, I'm sure you can just imagine the "educational" teaching and learning we are getting done! And on top of that... SPRING BREAK fever has hit these little critters! By Friday at 3:00 p.m. I'm sure everyone will be ready for a week off!
 I like this's easy and fun. My mom used to always fix an awesome corn beef and cabbage and new potatoes meal that was tradition. That will be one of the things I really miss having. I would like to fix it today but we are so consumed with packing and a TO DO list, I'm not sure if it will happen. It may end up being a Post - St. Patrick's Day meal in April!

I have some Irish in my blood supposably! I've never done a true genealogy study but I think Grandma Vivien (who I got my red hair from) has the Irish descent. Have any of you done a Genealogy study and do you have any advice on how to even begin?

The sun is shining today and although it's windy, the temperatures are supposed to hit 80 degrees! Can you imagine?  Oh how glorious! 

What are your plans for this GREEN day? 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I Believe

 Shut the music off on my playlist to watch the video!


Artist/Band: Brooks And Dunn
Lyrics for Song: Believe
Lyrics for Album: Hillbilly Deluxe

Old man Wrigley lived in that white house
Down the street where I grew up
Momma used to send me over with things
We struck a friendship up
I spent a few long summers out on his old porch swing

Says he was in the war when in the navy

Lost his wife, lost his baby
Broke down and asked him one time
How ya keep from going crazy
He said I'll see my wife and son in just a little while
I asked him what he meant
He looked at me and smiled, said


I raise my hands, bow my head
I'm finding more and more truth in the words written in red
They tell me that there's more to life than just what I can see
Oh I believe

Few years later I was off at college

Talkin' to mom on the phone one night
Getting all caught up on the gossip
The ins and outs of the small town life
She said oh by the way son, old man Wrigley's died.

Later on that night, I laid there thinkin' back

Thought 'bout a couple long-lost summers
I didn't know whether to cry or laugh
If there was ever anybody desevred a ticket to the other side
It'd be that sweet old man who looked me in the eye, said


I raise my hands, bow my head
I'm finding more and more truth in the words written in red
They tell me that there's more to life than just what i can see

I can't quote the book

The chapter or the verse
You can't tell me it all ends
In a slow ride in a hearse
You know I'm more and more convinced
The longer that I live
Yeah, this can't be
No, this can't be
No, this can't be all there is


When I raise my hands, bow my head
I'm finding more and more truth in the words written in red
They tell me that there's more to life than just what i can see
I believe
Oh, I
I believe
I believe
I believe
I believe
I believe

I really like this song. I have it on my Ipod player and get goosebumps when I listen to it and tears fall when I watch the video. My husband mentioned this song in his sermon on Sunday and I've been humming it for a few days.

I find the wisdom of elderly Christian people to be so inspiring and I think that with AGE comes more knowledge, understanding, and for sure the simple ways of living here on Earth. Being in a nursing home every day visiting my mom has been an eye opening experience and a true blessing for me. I enjoy seeing those lovely people who are living their lives out with a lot of physical and mental hardships. They endure and do it with such dignity.  There is a man, Herb, who my husband and I visit with or holler our "hellos"  with almost every day. He sits for hours in the foyer and always has a smile on his face and a friendly wave to all. He goes twice a week to a facility for dialysis. My mom is on a feeding tube so she never goes to the cafeteria, but when I ask Herb how supper was, he generally always replies, "Not too bad". He never complains and his smile is adorable. I've not had a conversation with Herb about his "beliefs" or his salvation, but perhaps I will. He is definitely someone who you would love to meet in Heaven!

Belief is faith to me. Faith is belief to me. And as Paul said.... faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1  God does not expect me to perform miracles for others or show proof that he is our Creator. He has done all that, He is always here for me, He has never left me, and He never changes. 
   In fact, it is impossible for God to change. The influences that cause change in your life have no effect on God. He will never be stronger or weaker. His knowledge and wisdom will not increase or diminish. God does not compromise or change His values. And God does not have mood swings. Life and its uncertainties may shake you, but God-the Rock of Ages-does not move. If you cling to Him, His strength will sustain you.

James 1:17 (King James Version)

 17Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Seed Swap Friend

Linda at Prairie Flower Farm hosted a "seed swap" and she had a great response. I was paired up with a new friend from California! I was so excited when I got her name! She was so on the ball and got my seeds right out to me! Now I, on the other hand, must admit I was not near as quick as her and am very regretful of that. I hope she will forgive me! I received Poppy Seeds and I'm so excited to get them planted and see how they do! She also sent me a wonderful recipe I can't wait to try.

Thank you so very much Belinda! I'm so happy to have met you and been your seed swap partner!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Donkey Basketball??????

Tonight our district had a fundraiser! Shockingly there were over 1500 people attend (and pay $8/ticket) to watch "Donkey Basketball" ! There were 4 teams that participated including business people, students, teachers, administrators, bankers, clergy, priests, name it! NO, I did not participate! And YES I'm very glad I didn't! Darb performed before the games for the Dance team entertainment and my brother in law/Assistant Principal was on the "school" team.  I had never seen one of these events and my oh my it was interesting! That is an understatement! Ha! Here's just a glimpse....
I got a kick out of watching 16 and 17 year old girls giggle and chat pre-show!

The first injury of the night!
My 3rd grade teacher buddy!
My brother in law....

Fun night and I'm thankful to have just been a spectator!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

March has Arrived!

"If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant."
-  Anne Bradstreet

Doesn't it feel good to say "March"?  I always think it's a milestone reached when we make it to March! It just sounds like Spring! Now I know that Spring doesn't officially arrive until March 20th, but by then I'll be good and March 20 we leave on our cruise! Passports are in, documents and tickets are in so now we just need to pack! We are counting the days down on the refrigerator and everyone is quite excited.

I think everyone is really just ready to see some good ole' SUN and feel it on our very chilled bodies!

March is the month at our house with lots of things going on..
*Income tax
*Basketball ending and track/golf starting up
*Spring cleaning
*Opening windows and airing out the house
*Baby calves been born at the farm
*Horse races begin for son
*Landscaping begins for son in law
*Cleaning up gardens
*Possible planting
*Evening walks
*Cooking out
*Lawn furniture brought out

Have you started your Spring?

Lately, I've been thinking about Edifying and Building Up. I can always use a little reminding! I came across some good words I wanted to share.

Follow God's example. Be an encourager!
You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry (Psalm 10:17).

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope (Romans 15:4).

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus (Romans 15:5).

Think positively. Look for things to encourage.

Do you bring sunshine or gloom into the room? If you are a negative person, don't say, "I'm just a worrier. I was born that way." Or, "It’s my nature to be depressed." God is in the personality-changing business. He wants you to "be conformed to the likeness of his Son" (Romans 8:29). You can change. You can become known for your encouraging words.

Life is full of problems, and we need to deal with them. But if we aren't careful, all we see are the problems. There are lots of good things we can focus on. Instead of "catching people being bad," catch them being good. Make your words a fountain of life. Be a positive person. Encourage one another.

Ask God to help you develop a positive thought life. Immerse yourself in his Word. Pray. Over time, you will discover that you can control the way you think, choosing to focus on some thoughts and to reject others. The following verse can be life changing. Write it out and post it where you will see it regularly, on your refrigerator, bathroom mirror or the dashboard of your car.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if any-thing is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things (Philippians 4:8).
 (My daughter Lacey gave me this sign. I have it in my kitchen above my cabinets.)
When you wake up in the morning, ask God to help you look for and focus on the positive. Pray for this attitude throughout the day. Choose to meditate on the positive. Bring sunshine into the world.

Speak positively. Be an encourager. Encourage others daily.

When you talk, you make a series of choices about what subjects to discuss, what memories to bring up, and what points to make. There always are negative things you could say, but there also are positive ones. Choose the positive. Choose to specialize in encouraging words, not in critical comments. As Paul wrote, "Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification" (Romans 14:19). 
Bring friendly speech into your relationships.
Don't start complaining as soon as you see your spouse, child, employee, neighbor or someone else. Ask about his or her day. Give a compliment. Share stories about your day, insights from Bible study, victories on the job, or other things they may be interested in..

Voice words of encouragement, appreciation, support, and respect.

Acknowledge others' abilities and efforts. If someone feels inadequate, encourage him or her.

Monitor your positive and negative remarks.

Learn to be self-aware and listen to what you say. Be sure you make many more positive comments than negative ones.

Respond to problems with hope and encouragement.

When someone talks about personal difficulties, do not respond with a "gloom and doom" attitude. Listen with compassion and avoid simplistic advice. Say something such as, "I know this is a tough time for you, but it won't last. Let me encourage you: God will see you through, and I'm here to help, too."
[God] comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God (2 Corinthians 1:4).

And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone (1 Thessalonians 5:14).

Avoid subtle criticisms.

Watch out for subtle ways you may tear others down, such as pointing out how quickly you can mow the lawn when you know it takes them twice as long.

Discuss problems as a friend.

There are times in every relationship—in a family, on the job, or wherever—when people discuss difficult topics. When you do, speak in a courteous, friendly manner. The way you speak usually is more important than whether your opinions are right or wrong.

Great words I thought...Homework for me!!
Have a wonderful Lord's Day!