mothers day

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Emma Lynn

Mauri took this picture with her new camera on Christmas Day - I love it. Poor Kecia looks like she feels horrid and Glenn is just relaxing with Emma - and Emma is loving it. Good job Mauri!!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Gorgeous gift

Double click on the picture so you can see the detail

Last night was my Nielson family party and it was so fun to sit and visit with my Kelly and Terry and Jeff and my dad and Jill Pill - along with Shawn and Kris and Kelly and Jamie. I had to show off my newest decoration - made by Jeff!! Usually Teresa does a major part of the craft work but since she is in Idaho with Skye and Katie Jo at her parents home, Jeff put this one together for me, which surprisingly enough makes it even more special!! Teresa is so meticulous and makes sure that the lettering etc is done perfectly and she will be proud when she sees what a great job Jeff did with mine.

As you can see it is one of the new type of signs - a steel sign, with the Vinyl lettering. When I realized they had Ed and Susan (us) for Christmas I really really hoped that they would make me one of these gorgeous signs, but I had no idea what I wanted it to say! Jeff says that so far this is the only temple he has but will shortly have a lot more of the different temples. Lets see, I would need an Ogden Temple, a Bountiful Temple and a Mt Timpanogas Temple for the three of my four that were married in a temple. Kelly and Jamie were smart enough to get married in the SL temple in the first place. ;-)

When I opened this gift last night and saw that he had done the Salt Lake Temple for me I could have cried. Ed and I were married there in September of 1967 - 40 years ago...thus the
Established 1967
I am emailing a copy of this picture to Jeff so he can post it on his web site. You are welcome to go see all the fun stuff they have to offer. They attend ALOT of super saturdays in Northern Utah every fall helping ladies make their own favorite signs. You can be that I will be taking it to the next enrichment planning meeting we have to see if anyone wants to get together for a spring fling instead of a super saturday;...these would make marvelous mother's daygifts! Hey, Kristanne - here is an idea for you to use as Enrichment leader.

I just figured out how to link that web address to the actual site all by myself!! Amazing. Now if I could only figure out how to add my picture to my 'comments' on someone elses blog sites...

Anyway - this is a favorite gift. Along with all the other special things I received this year for Christmas (like the cute sign Jamie and Kelly gave me, and the pillows from Kecia & Glenn, and the 1 night stay at the Anniversary Inn(!!!) from Shawn and Kris, and the emergency water storage kit and gift card to Barnes and Noble from Dirk and Da. And I am sure I will do a whole blog on Mauri's gift - it is an afternoon for the two of us to go shopping together or to a movie and then out for lunch....FUN!! I AM SOOOO SPOILED!!

Grandkids and the Treehouse

Caleb, Jerod, Joshua and Adrie - precious grandchildren
I mentioned in my last blog about how fun it was to watch my grandkids's faces as they opened their Christmas gifts. Well - Mauri took her kids to spend a few hours at the Treehouse Museum in Ogden where they now had membership for a year (thanks to grandma susan :-) and it looks like they had lots of fun.

This is Caleb - one of Mauri's five year old twins. Looks like he is having tea!\

Here are a couple of WashingtonTerrace's finest firemen hard at work!! (Caleb and mom, Mauri)

And here we have Miss Adrie - the old (hee hee hee) schoolmarm

and here we have Master Jerod doing the teaching with Joshua as a student.

Kids did you know that your grandma Merritt probably attended a class room much as this? He was telling the story at last nights party about being in the lower grade classroom (It was a two room schoolhouse with grades 1-4 in one class and grades 5-8 in the other classroom!) Grandpa is color blind but no one knew too much about it in those days and his teacher got sooooo mad at him for not coloring his picture with the proper colors. She thought he was just being a smart alecky kid!! Grandpa Merritt says that it wasn't until his induction physical on his 18th birthday that he was told he was color blind and they explained it to him!!!!! WOW!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas is such a Wonderful Time

So many people complain about the Christmas Season and how commercial it has become - and maybe it has but that doesn't need to stop any of us from appreciating it for what it is. It is what is in our hearts that make or break the season.

From putting up the Christmas tree to listening to the Christmas Carols (during all of November and December!!) to buying just the right gift for our loved ones to open and get excited about.

We had a marvelous Christmas eve program with the grandkids doing the Nativity -they acted it out and we all took turns reading it. (Emma made a darling baby Jesus and our one and only wise man bowed at Jesus for five full minutes - hilarious!) We all sang the Christmas Carols and Kris and Jamie sang Breath of Heaven and Glenn sang Oh Come All Ye Faithful and then we ended the program by singing Silent Night in three different languages!!! It was such a special night. We Willdens have just so -so voices (actually a couple of my kids have nice voices - their mother isn't so lucky!) but they have married singers and it adds so much to our special programs.

I seemed to find gifts that everyone wanted in my budget (which I cut this year) and they all seemed pleased - Benji played with his stuffed bear and hugged it and grinned at it - he has the cutest personality - he is so inquisitive and yet such a happy boy - you can tell that he is loved and that his parents are so happy to have him.
This year I got to watch the excitement and thrill on the faces of nine of my ten grandchildren as they opened their gifts. (Emma just wasn't gonna get excited about her new dress or mobile!! Food mom food!!)

The excitement of opening presents started on Christmas Eve - About half of the gifts I gave this year were opened on Christmas eve because of the weather. I didn't think I would get to see the kids and grandkids again on Christmas day so we broke with tradition and exchanged alot of our gifts that night. I had purchased gift cards to Aeropostle for my 12 year old and 13 year old granddaughters (who are both turning 18 this year!!) The squeals of delight from both of them were fantastic. Then I gathered all three of Mauri's boys and handed them each a laminated card with their very own name on each of the cards and explained that it was a one year membership to the Children's Treehouse Museum in Ogden - they were so excited!! They love that place and are always asking Mauri to take them. I will be able to take them too! They each had a small gift to open besides that but they were thrilled and it sent happy chills all through me.

On Christmas Day I watched my other three grandsons open their gifts and each one of them were so spontaneously happy and excited over what I got them. Cade got a Mario game for his WII and Ethan got a fish book plus a shirt, and Jace got a Ben 10 game - thank heavens for moms and their suggestions to grandma - it really helps and it gave me such pleasure to buy and wrap and finally give them their gifts.

When we all get together at grandma's house it is planned pandemonium and Christmas eve was that and more - but the love we share and the joy we have being together makes it wonderful.

I am so thankful for the Christmas Season - for the joy it gives us, the love we feel with friends and family - and for our Savior's birth and the gift he gave to all of us - the atonement - we get awfully busy but there were moments in our Christmas eve program where I felt the love of my Savior and tears came to my eyes. I am so blessed...

Friday, December 21, 2007

Welcome Home

We landed in Salt Lake Thursday night about 11:10 and it was after midnight when we finally pulled into our driveway. The landing was one of the scariest I've ever been on even though the pilot did a fantastic job - the weather didn't cooperate.

Anyway - we were home sweet home and as we walked through the door - ugghh - Ed said - didn't we empty the trash before we left and I said I thought we did but as I got closer to the trash can the worse the smell was.

So I grabbed it and took it outside and dumped. The house was cooollllldddd - we had turned the thermostat down to 50 and it felt like it through and through. But the house was still smelly so Ed propped the back door open to hopefully air it out some. I grabbed a cooking pot and filled it halfway with water and put it on to boil and added cinnamon to help things out. I also got out the aerosole spray and sprayed everything down. We got the luggage inside and turned up the heat and brushed out teeth and went to bed hoping the house would smell better in the morning.

It didn't. Ed opened the fridge (that is only six years old) Friday morning and said - eeewwww - you're going to have to throw out some leftovers.... and then he said - OH NO! EVERYTHING is bad!! The power is off - no, the power isn't off but the fridge is warm.....and so is the freezer.

THAT WAS WHAT SMELLED - I bet the fridge had died a day or so after we left and everything in it sat and 'cooked' for a week. Gross!! I hauled four garbage cans full of rotten food scrubbing as I went. I pulled every shelf and drawer out of the fridge and the freezer - of course all the staples, like mayo, mustard and salad dressings got tossed. Even the pickles were bad! The left over chili and beans from the family party that I had put in the freezer - gone. Chicken, pork, hamburger (I had a pound of the pre-packaged hamburger in the freezer - it had literally ballooned out to TWICE the normal size!!)

I called and got a repairman over - Ed and I decided that we would have them give us a bid and if it was $400 or more we would go buy a new refrigerator. I called the place at 9:30 and she said she could get someone there today but wasn't sure how soon . I said give me a half an hour at least so I can run to Wal Mart's and get a gallon of milk so I can eat breakfast. That is exactly what they gave me - the guy was at my door at 10:05!! But I had my milk!! He walked through the door, took one look at my fridge from ACROSS the room and said I know exactly what is wrong with your refrigerator. It is a relay switch in the compressor that has gone bad. Whirlpool had been using the same switch for over 25 years with no problem but all of a sudden about 1999 or 2000 they switched to a different one and that one has given them all sorts of headaches. He told me that he has changed out over 2000 of those himself in the past few years!!! It makes me so angry that Whirlpool would do that and not notify the customers or do a recall ...instead we get the dead appliance and rotten food. It wouldn't have been so bad if we had been home - we wouldn't have lost everything - we would have noticed a problem within 24 hours or so.

About the time the ice cubes started defrosting.

So that was our welcome home. And I can still smell the smell slightly when I open the refrigerator door. I've tried baking soda but it still smells - any ideas out there?

One fun side note - Ed got to bed before I did last night and when I walked into the cold bedroom he's laying there without any covers on. I said "Are you hot? How come you haven't pulled the blankets up over you in this cold house?" He said "Cause the bed is COLD!!!!! This way only ONE side of me is cold - I'm not about to pull those icy blankets over me!!"

I don't think we'll turn the heat down so much next time we leave!!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

New York

WE are in Oneonta, New York this week. That is upstate New York!! However, for those of you who know New York, you also know that anyplace that isn't NEW YORK CITY, is considered upstate New York. Oneonta is North and East of the New York Pennsylvania border. It is a lovely little town of about 13000 according to Google and of course it has a .Job Corps Center here - Ed is here to do a records audit. Last time I joined Ed in Oneonta it was 18 degrees - so I figured that at 37 degrees they were having a heat wave this time around. We arrived here late Monday - it made me appreciate Ed's traveling days for what they really are, bless his heart. We left home about 6:30 am, with our flight leaving about 8:50 am and arriving in Cincinnatti Ohio at noon Utah time or 2 pm, Eastern time. Then at 3:25 we took off on another plane to Scranton Wilkesbury Pennsylvania. Landing at 5 pm we picked up the car and headed North for an hour and then East for another hour. We got to our hotel at about 7:30 pm - that makes for a lonnnnggggg day! Tuesday morning I slept through breakfast (Ed got up and headed off to work leaving me sawing logs. I have it really rough when I go on these trips with Ed. I lay around the hotel all day, reading and doing indexing, swimming and hot tubbing. And going out to eat for lunch and dinner - no house work, no cooking, no laundry. Just plain hate it. :-)

So Tuesday was rainy. They kept telling us we were going to get a freezing rain but it never happened. Wednesday was cold - as in COLD - they said it was 34 with a feelslike temp of 10 and I agreed! When I woke up this morning (Thursday) at 8 am it was wet - not icy or snowy - when I looked out the window again at 10 am everything was covered with snow. It snowed all day long - we probably have 8 inches of snow outside now - these pictures were taken through our hotel room window - according to the tv lots and lots of school districts closed school today which is amazing because even though they got alot of snow - driving wasn't that bad. Ed told the people at the job corps that too - seems awfully wimpy to me, and as much snow as the Eastern Seaboard has gotten this year the kids will be going to school until July to make up for missing school days!

One thing I love about Oneonta are the beautiful old homes. Lots and lots of what in Utah we would call pioneer homes - Two and three story homes with porches and turrets and personality. Of course they are probably about the same age as our oldest homes in Utah but that makes them youngsters in New York. It would be so fun to have a beautiful old home like this

We are supposed to be heading North West to Palmyra New York tomorrow morning. The weather is supposed to have cleared and we shouldn't have any trouble getting there. I am worried about Sunday, however, as we head all the way across the state again coming back and driving to Middletown New York which is farther South, but still upstate.

We want to do a temple session in Palmyra and then tour the visitors center at Hill Cumorah. We stopped there in 2005 but had so little time we missed out on both of those spots.

Ed will spend Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at Delaware Valley Job Corps Center doing a records audit there and then we will fly back home to Utah. Some day I want to come out here when the weather is good...hey wait a minute...I did, last April and spent five days in the hospital. I will be happy with the snow!!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

54 years of love

We were eating lunch at a nice restaurant in Oneanta New York today and there was a whole group of leaders and kids from a school for the handicapped. There was a cute little girl - probably about 12 years old that was Downs and as I watched her I started to cry!! Ed looked at the tears quietly streaming down my face and said one word "Jill".

I said "yes".

It was amazing to me how in that few seconds I so deeply mourned my sister. For those of you who read this blog that don't know, I have an almost 54 year old (she will turn 54 in February) sister, named Jill, with Down's syndrome that is now in a nursing home suffering what is called Down's inhanced dementia. It is like Alzheimers only moving so much faster. My father and I starting noticing it less than a year ago. Dad and I started looking at a group home in March. By the time we got an okay from her State case worker, she was no longer capable to handle a group home. So we put her in the Beehive Home Assisted Living Center in July. She loved it and we thought we were set until they said - no, she has to go into a nursing home for 90 days first. So we put her in the Rocky Mountain Care Center in August, figuring that after 90 days we would move her back to the assisted living center after the 90 days. That 90 days is now up and she has digressed to the point that she wouldn't qualify for that level of care now. She NEEDS the nursing home. In July we were concerned about finding a place that would take a pet because she adored her cat, Molly - we made sure that she had a phone so she could call her best friends Andrea and Robyn. We insisted on a private room so she could live much like she always has, with her tv and puzzles. I don't think she has touched a puzzle in 60 days - she hasn't made a phone call in 90 days. She can't remember the names of her two best friends. She could care less about seeing Molly - she has a stuffed black and white cat on her bed that has replaced the real thing. She can't even play bingo by herself anymore - she will recognize a number ...but forgets immediately that she needs to cover up the numbers that she has got. She still remembers me and dad but is losing her memory of all the other family nieces and nephews and great nieces and great nephews. It will be interesting at Christmas time to see who she remembers and who she doesn't. She realizes that she should know someone but just can't remember why.

I was six and a half years old when Jill was born. We had just barely moved to Kaysville in January of 1954 - mom and dad had no idea that there were any problems until Jill was born. Jill only weighed 4 pounds 11 ounces and the doctors immediately knew there was a problem. In 'those days' Downs was something to be ashamed of and the doctors told mom and dad that they should not even take Jill home from the hospital but put her in the state hospital in Utah County. Mom and Dad refused. They told the doctors that this was their baby and they were going to take her home and love her. The doctors even argued with that, saying that because of her disabilities, her older sisters would never marry!! People would shun our family.

I don't remember any of this argument. I do remember grandma Viola coming and staying with Merrilee and Bruce and I while mom was in the hospital. I would imagine she stayed longer than that so mom and dad could run back and forth to the Dee Hospital in Ogden for the month that Jill had to stay until she weighed enough to be able to come home. I have always lived in my own little world and I guess this was no exception - I simply remember having to be really really careful with this newest sister. I loved grandma Viola and am forever thankful for that special time with her as she died less than nine months later at a young age of 54 of a ruptured appendix.

Growing up with Jill was a joyful experience. Anyone that has been around Downs finds an overwhelming abundance of love. Jill was no exception. She added so much love and sweetness to our whole family. We cannot begin to pick out where she influenced us and how she helped us except to know that we were blessed to have her.

I can remember when she was about eight years old she decided we needed to bless the food before we ate it. My parents were not active in the church at all at this time - mom would send us kids to church and my folks would attend maybe at Easter and Christmas. So having a prayer over our food was totally unknown. Jill changed that!! This little girl, who loved to eat, would sit at her place and not eat anything until we finally would realize that she was waiting for us to bless the food. And so, slowly but surely, our whole family got in the habit of praying at each and every meal...if we didn't, Jill just plain wouldn't eat! She started a spirituality in our family that was badly needed.

Jill was fun to grow up with - always happy, she loved her dollies and she loved the bouncy horsey that she and Kelly (my brother who was four years younger than Jill) got for Christmas the year he was 2 1/2. I can remember her running over to the horsey and pulling Kelly off so she could ride it again and again. Amazingly enough, Kelly would let her. He was the perfect brother for her - endless patience!

Jill had her own language until Kelly learned to talk - then as he learned the correct words so did she - up until then she managed with words like I-I for icecream, and O-O for popcorn and Be-ba-ka for peanut butter - Merrilee and I were sisters - bahja!! Where that word came from I have no idea. Even after she learned to speak correctly it was difficult for people outside our family to understand. One of the signs of Downs Syndrome is an overlarge tongue for the mouth and so it made it hard to understand her. We did pretty good with her - other people would just love her.

Jill and I shared a room and a bed for a number of years - until I went away to college. I was allowed to ride the bus to the High School when I was in Jr High so that I could accompany Jill to where her bus would pick her up to go to Monte Vista in Farmington. I would then walk from the High School to the Jr High for my own classes and then return to the High School immediately after school to meet Jill and ride the bus back to Burton Elementary every day. I always felt I was closer to Jill than my other siblings because of this. However, when I grew up I went away to college and got married and Jill continued on with the family as our special girl.
I have been blessed to have Jill for a sister. Her willingness to love anyone and her total lack of guile was always amazing to me. She didn't cheat or lie or make snide comments. She abhorred any argumentiveness which caused her to break out in tears. Let me tell you - that stopped a lot of fights between Merrilee and I who were 18 months apart age wise and very prone to arguing.

For years my mom felt that Jill had been sent to our family as a test. And then one day a wonderful sister in the ward told mom that the Lord would not have sent Jill to a mother that may not love her or understand her - but rather that the Lord KNEW my parents had the strength of soul to love and teach and guide and provide for one of his special spirits with all of their heart.

I am glad that mom didn't have to watch the loss of our Jill here on earth. It has been sad to lose the sparkle and glow that was Jill. She is now a shell of what she used to be. But she still radiates love. The people at Rocky Mountain love and watch out for her. She still has to have her hugs from everyone. And she still cares very much that Jesus Loves Her!!

I am excited to meet Jill again on the other side of the veil when she is whole and beautiful. I know her soul will not of have changed but I look forward to meeting her true self - with all the intelligence and beauty of a special child of God - this time without the disabilities.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

27 years and counting

It's been 27 years ago - wow!! My twins are 27. We were living in Texas and I had known for just six weeks that there were two babies!! Shawn was 11, Dirk was 9 and Mauri had just turned 6. We had said we didn't care whether the baby was male or female but as I headed off to the hospital Mauri told me I better bring a sister home!! Dirk wanted a brother and Shawn was like his dad and I - either one would do. They were supposed to be born on Tuesday December 9 - they weren't due until December 24, but they had given me gestastional diabetes and it was dangerous for the babies to go full term. When I went in to the doctor that morning they found that Kelly had turned and both babies were now breach. They didn't dare do normal delivery with both of them bass-ackward. (They didn't mind planning on delivering the bigger baby normally and then the breach baby (Kecia). So they decided to do an amniocentisis on me on Wednesday - I remember seeing the needle for it !! It was at least six inches long!!! But it didn't hurt and by Wednesday afternoon we knew that Kecia's lungs were developed enough for birth and so they scheduled a C-section for Thursday morning.

I was awake during the birth and can remember as the doctor delivered Kelly how excited I was but at the same time thinking - oh let the next one be a girl...and it was. The doctor told me afterwards that he didn't want my six year old giving him a bad time for not giving her a sister!!

The main thing I remember with those two babies (besides the around the clock care they took) was the joy of being a mother. The fun of having TWO babies at a time and how people - total strangers would react to seeing twins.

I wrote in a letter to my sister when they were several months old how I would grumble at being woken in the middle of the night with their cries - but as soon as I picked up which ever one it was that had woken me, what a thrill of love I had go through me. They were precious babies and even more so because Ed and I got to see their advancements through the eyes of their siblings who were old enough to be excited when we saw their first smile, or they sat up all alone the first time, or they crawled. I always said they didn't walk until they were 15 months old because they didn't need to - their adoring older siblings were always fighting over who got to hold whom.

Shawn and Dirk and Mauri loved those babies - amazingly enough Mauri never showed jealousy or animosity for being kicked out of the #1 baby spot - and she had been the 'baby' for six years. She just loved them. Dirk was our #1 diaper changer - and he and Shawn both were so careful of taking good care of these two. It really was a good thing that there were two of them because they had 4 moms!!! Me and Mauri and Shawn and Dirk!!

Kecia and Kelly were very close siblings. As newborns they loved being near each other. They shared a crib - we had the two cribs right next to each other but they didn't like being separated. Lots of the pictures we have of the two of them as newborns show them holding hands. It was amazing how they needed to touch each other in their sleep!

A baby brings such joy and twins double it!! They finished off our family just perfectly - All of my children are wonderfully choice beautiful people. I have been blessed.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Dear Santa

This came to me through the email and I thought I would post it for all of you moms who wonder if there is light at the end of the laundry basket!!


I've been a good mom all year. I've fed, cleaned and cuddled my children on demand, visited the doctor's office more than my doctor,
sold sixty-two cases of candy bars to raise money to plant a shade tree
on the school playground.

I was hoping you could spread my list out over several Christmases,
since I had to write this letter with my son's red crayon, on the back
of a receipt in the laundry room between cycles, and who knows when I'll find anymore free time in the next 18 years.

Here are my Christmas wishes:

I'd like a pair of legs that don't ache (in any color, except purple,
which I already have) .....and arms that don't hurt or flap in the
breeze; but are strong enough to pull my screaming child out of the
candy aisle in the grocery store. I'd also like a waist, since I lost mine somewhere in the seventh month of my last pregnancy.

If you're hauling big ticket items this year I'd like fingerprint
resistant windows and a radio that only plays adult music; a television
that doesn't broadcast any programs containing talking animals;
and a refrigerator with a secret compartment behind the crisper where I can hide to talk on the phone.

On the practical side, I could use a talking doll that says, "Yes,
Mommy" to boost my parental confidence, along with two kids who don't fightand three pairs of jeans that will zip all the way up without the use of power tools.

I could also use a recording of Tibetan monks chanting "Don't eat in the living room" and "Take your hands off your brother," because my voice seems to be just out of my children's hearing range and can only be heard by the dog.

If it's too late to find any of these products, I'd settle for enough time to brush my teeth and comb my hair in the same morning , or the luxury of eating food warmer than room temperature without it being served in a Styrofoam container.

If you don't mind, I could also use a few Christmas miracles to brighten the holiday season. Would it be too much trouble to declare ketchup a vegetable? It will clear my conscience immensely.

It would be helpful if you could coerce my children to help around the
house without demanding payment as if they were the bosses of an
organized crime family.

Well, Santa, the buzzer on the dryer is ringing and my son saw my feet under the laundry room door. I think he wants his crayon back. Have a safe trip and remember to leave your wet boots by the door and come in and dry off so you don't catch cold.

Help yourself to cookies on the table but don't eat too many or leave
crumbs on the carpet.

Yours Always, a MOM...!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

A day with Emma

Friday morning I got up and colored my hair and chased the dog down the street (first time he has disappeared on me!!) and then headed to Provo via my dad's house (to borrow his camera), then to Farmington to pay our taxes, and then to Centerville to get some gas, and finally I headed South to Provo. I waved through the window as I went past Benji's house feeling guilty for not stopping but I was already late.

When I got to Kecia's she came to the door in her robe, barely awake - I guess with the week of flu that Kecia has suffered from Emma had gotten her days mixed up with her nights and she wanted to lay awake and smile and play with mommy all night long. I came in loaded down with a clothes basket full of baby clothes - NO! I had not gotten carried away again but Aunt Teresa had been going through all of her girls's clothes and offered to give them to Kecia. They were so cute and all of them in almost perfect condition. Kecia was so excited. We even went through all of the clothes and oohed and ahhed for 25 minutes BEFORE I went in to say hi to Emma!! Amazing. She slowly woke up and I got to hold her without sharing for a good 30 minutes before she got hungry! Fun!! We talked about how much she had grown in just two weeks!! After she finished nursing Kecia handed her back to me and I held her and loved her and enjoyed her. Then I decided it was time to get her dressed - So I headed into the bedroom and found the cute outfit that Adrie Anna and I had picked out for her when Adrie and I went birthday shopping for her 13th birthday in September. We found some cute sockies to match the outfit and then I asked Kecia where the head bands (or brain squeezers as I have heard them called before :-) were. I found one to match and proceeded to make Emma look even more adorable. For the next half hour while mommy was showering Emma smiled and cried and slept and laughed. I had a wonderful day with Kecia and Emma - Kecia was perfectly happy to let me hold Ems all I wanted. I came home fulfilled. I had headed South figuring that I would be cleaning house all day but that wonderful husband of Kecia's had already cleaned it for us!! He was at work so I didn't even have to share Emma with him. After Glenn got home we all ate and I scooted for home because I had told Ed I would be home by 8 and I was just leaving Provo at 7:45!! But that 's okay - it was a wonderful marvelous day and I got to play with the sweetest softest little girl around. She is going to be a very mellow personality with a stubborn streak in her (according to Kecia) but the pictures do not do her justice.

She simply glows. What more can a proud grandma say?

This is the baby announcement we created in 1980 for Kelly and Kecia - we were tax counselors and that was the first year they made the 1040's in pink and blue. It worked perfectly. I got this out though to compare Kecia and Emma - Kecia weighed 4 lbs 13 oz and was 17 inches long. Emma was 8 lbs 1 oz and was 19 1/2 inches long. Emma at two weeks was 9 lbs 4 ounces and 21 1/2 inches long. I think Kecia was probably 3 months old before she was that big!! WOW!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

My precious granddoggy!

As most of you know Kelly and Jamie are right now in the middle of the Caribbean having a grand old time. They left the cats at home but knowing that Harley needed extra love and attention they opted to let grandma babysit. The first day Harley was totally lost - he whined and looked for Jamie and Kelly all day long. Then on Sunday evening Jamie called me to say "we're heading out of the harbor right now!! Kelly got on the phone to bark at Harley and his ears perked up and he sat listening, simply entranced. (I can imagine how 'entranced' the people on the ship were, listening to a grown man bark into his cell phone!!) But evidently Kelly told Harley to be happy and have a fun week with grandma (see, I can understand dog speak too!)

Harley has been so cute all week. He is my shadow!! Reminds me of when I had babies at home!! He follows me upstairs, he follows me downstairs, he follows me upstairs again. He sits and whines at the bathroom door when I close it for privacy!! Best of all, he can't stand to see me sitting in my Lazy Boy recliner without him being in my lap. I had gotten into the habit of eating my breakfast in the chair while reading the newspaper. Have you ever tried to read the newspaper and balance a bowl of cereal on your lap when you have 20+ pounds of dog jumping into your lap? FUN!! I have given up trying to work online during the day because if I am upstairs in my chair working on my laptop he is sitting there with his big brown Harley eyes whining for me to let him on my lap. So then I go downstairs on my main computer and he sits and whines because he can't jump into my lap there either. It is now 9 pm at night and Harley dog is in his favorite spot - under the covers of my bed, right next to me as I read!! Its a tough life!!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Kecia's baby pictures

We have all been wondering who Emma looks like so I got busy and found some old pictures of Kecia, which is not really easy because Kecia has scrapbooked a LOT of her baby pictures so I had to really hunt. These two were taken in early 1981 - probably when Kecia and Kelly were about two months old. I would say Emma does look a lot like her mama - except her mama didn't have nearly as much hair. And, Emma doesn't have a twin brother that she had to hold onto all of the time!! What do you think Glenn and Kecia - is it a match?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

My daughter's daughter, my baby's baby

I started to write this blog days ago, but got stymied every time I thought about my other fantastic wonderful precious grandkids and kids. So I decided I would start with a disclaimer: I have ten beautiful, precious, fun, intelligent and wonderful grandchildren. #11 is on its way. I love each one of them. They are all so fun and I am so blessed to have Cade and Adrie and MaKae and Jerod and Ethan and Jace and Joshua and Caleb and Benjamin and Emma in my life. I love the hugs and the hi there's and the cute stories from each one. I also have a really soft spot in my heart for each of the wonderful people that my five children have married. They are choice and intelligent and loving human beings, each with a strong belief in Christ and how He would have them live. Kristanne was our first 'in law' and I was and still am amazed that she saw the beauty and intelligence in Shawn and claimed it for her own. Then came Ira and he added a whole new dimension of humor and love. Then we had to wait years and years for Kelly and Kecia to grow up and amazingly enough Jamie fell in love with Kelly and added her wit and fun to the family. Kecia followed shortly in expanding our family with Glenn - he has a gentle humor and a love of children that is simply amazing. Last, but certainly not least, Dirk found Melinda and her intelligence and sweetness has been a real boon to the family. We are sssoooooooo blessed with each of these 'in-laws' that I truly do love as my own. I wouldn't want to hurt any of them. Of course, it goes without saying that Mauri and Kecia and Shawn and Dirk and Kelly are the most perfect wonderful human beings in the world. They are mine after all. Yeah, they have a couple flaws each, but basically they are beautiful people. That said I can now move onto my blog thoughts without worrying about hurting someones feelings because I may have left them out!!

Kecia just posted some more pictures of Emma on her blog spot and I thoroughly enjoyed them. It is amazing how dear a grandbaby can be to ones heart. I don't know why I have let Emma 'in' so close ... Maybe because Kecia and Glenn opened their hearts and home to me and let me cuddle and love her...I got to do the same when Adrie Anna was a baby too and I hold some special memories there. I hope I don't hurt any feelings but somehow a daughter's daughter is...not more special ...but more ...would the word be "available"??

I need to be careful of what I say here because I know that I have some fantastic daughter in laws that might read this...I love everyone one of them too - but I have allowed them to set the limits and even when they don't I set my own limits -- I don't want to be the bothersome mother-in-law taking over their new baby... but with my own daughters - I can be me totally and they have to love me anyway!! So I can get away with more holding and hugging and grandmothering.

I hope you all can understand what I am trying to say - my baby's baby holds a special place in my heart - she is so little and so warm and so innocent.

Most likely it is because Emma is the newest and the whole family is excited - being there when she was just minutes old and then getting to return and be THE GRANDMA. Emma only wants to be held and cuddled right now and I can fulfil that calling to my hearts content. Anyway - I love Emma - I love all of my children (and that includes those fantastic in law children) and I adore all of my grandchildren. I thank the Lord for such blessings in my life. I hope they know that even though I am not the 'cooking' grandma that always has cookies on hand for them I do think of them often.

I went down to Provo last night with Kristanne and Mauri and Jamie and also Mickey and Adrie and we have decided that we need to get our Utah County kids closer - Lehi isn't too bad - it is just 45 minutes away but Provo is much to far. However - Dirk and Glenn - you need to sell your houses and move to Davis County. I have spoken!! Now we will see who will actually listen!! Hee Hee Hee

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Another picture

Need I say more?

Butternut Squash Soup

I promised my family at the birthday party last night that I would get this yummy recipe out there. I had some butternut squash soup on my cruise and loved it. So when I got home I googled for a recipe and it came up with this yummy squash soup. Be sure and use the correct amount of onion - I had to substitute dried minced onion for the fresh onion and used way too much onion. It was awfully strong. I even added another squash and another package of cream cheese to the first batch and that helped but it was still toooooo oniony! But if you follow the recipe you will find a nummy meal - easy too


makes six servings

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

1 medium onion, chopped (½ cup)

1 butternut squash (2 lb), peeled, cubed

2 cups water

½ teaspoon dried marjoram leaves

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)

4 chicken bouillon cubes

1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, cubed

  1. In 10 inch skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion; stirring occasionally until crisp-tender

  2. In 3-4 quart slow cooker, mix onion and remaining ingredients except cream cheese

  3. Cover: cook on low heat setting 6-8 hrs

  4. In blender or food processor, place 1/3 to ½ of mixture at a time. Cover; blend on high speed until smooth. Return mixture to slow cooker. Stir in cream cheese. Cover, cook on low heat setting about 30 minutes longer or until cheese is melted, stirring with wire whisk until smooth.

NOTE: I cooked the squash whole in the microwave for about 8-10 minutes in order to make it easier to peel and cube. Because it was partially pre-cooked the soup was done in three - four hours.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Prettiest granddaughter of the Century!!

It is safe for me to make that statement since my other granddaughters were born in the 1990's and Emma is a 21st century baby! What a joy! Kecia and Glenn are going to make fantastic parents. She was born November 13, 2007 - she weighed in at 8lbs 1 ounce and is 19 1/2 inches long - that makes her so plump and pretty - dark dark eyes and dark brown hair. So far she seems like she has a very mellow personality - other than when she is hungry!! The whole family has made it down to Provo to pass inspection and they all agree that she is precious. We haven't figured out who she looks like yet - I think she has Glenn's smile.

They are naming her Emma Lynn Gilliam - I love it. She has her mama's middle name. I get to spend Thursday, Friday and Saturday playing grandma (that means holding the baby!! YEAH!!)

Monday, November 12, 2007

Crafts - old and new!

NOTE: CORRECTED COPY!!! Most of you that read this blog know how much I love making pretties with silk flowers. So when my daughter in law's mother emailed me asking what she would need to make flower head dresses for her granddaughters (for Sam's wedding on November 16) I jumped at the chance to have some fun and offered to make them for her. She was so glad to let me!! To her it was stress - to me it was enjoyment. So I went over to Michael's and found some ivy that wasn't too big and some sparklies and some small flowers and ribbons in gold and champagne and went to work. I got them delivered to Marilyn today. I hope the girls enjoy them. I wanted them simple and they should look really pretty on the girls. I will tell Dirk to make sure and take some pictures since I won't be able to go to the reception (I will be playing grandma at Glenn and Kecia) . I also made some small boutonnieres for the boys so they wouldn't feel left out (actually I bet they would prefer not to have a flower pinned to their shirt but tough - Its a wedding, they'll just have to suffer!

The new craft that I am learning makes just as much a mess in my workspace!! I bought a scrapbook on my cruise and have been trying to organize my pictures in a fun and cute manner. I sat down in the corner of my living room and had stuff everywhere in no time at all. The filler kit that I also bought on the cruise has lots of cut scrapbook paper, stickers, pictures, ribbons, and even little spongey squares that you put under the cutouts to make them look three dimensional. The kit also came with two glue pens and a black marker with a felt tip and a slim tip. So I went to work. I got about half way through the week and I will take the rest of the stuff to the Orem Hospital to give us something to do tomorrow while we are waiting around for Emma to show up. I don't think I am going to get in too deep into this craft - there are just too many cutsie things to spend your money on REAL fast. I did buy a couple of sticker sets at Wal Mart tonight for Kecia to use in Emma's scrapbook.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Thursday and Friday - at sea

We left St Thomas on Wednesday evening, heading for Half Moon Cay, in the Bahamas. At dinner the captain came on the intercom and announced that he was in touch with the parent company, the Hurricane center and several other touch points to keep up to date as to what Hurricane Noel was doing. At the magic show on Wednesday evening they asked us to take a moment and be thankful that we were safe and sound even though the hurricane might affect our final port stop on Friday. Thursday dawned bright and beautiful. It was an at sea day, with the second formal dinner that evening.

By now we automatically headed to the dining room for breakfast because we loved the food, the atmosphere and the fun people we got to sit with and learn about.

I must make note here that we did use the stairs most of the time we were moving around the ship. Only when we had four or more flights of stairs to ascend or five or more flights to descend did we use the elevators. It was always fun to use the outside elevators because that gave us a gorgeous view of the ocean as we moved up or down. By now, we pretty much knew our way around the ship and could find or stateroom port or aft whichever direction we were headed. Our meals were just two or three flights down and the shows every evening were three or four flights down. The lido deck, where the swimming pools were, were four flights up - we walked those about 50% of the time and cheated with the elevators the rest of time (usually up for elevators, going down we would hoof it). We didn't even look for the exercise room!!

Thursday morning after breakfast we headed for the pool on the port end of the ship. It was sooo fun. The swimming pool was in constant wave motion because of the movement of the ship that day. We had pretty much gotten our sea legs but could tell the waves were higher because the normally calm swimming pool was in constant movement from side to side. The pool was tiled up and over the edge of the swimming pool and then there was about a four foot ledge and then about an 18 inch wall all around the swimming pool. Because of this wall the water was actually about four inches deeper than the swimming pool and we sat on the edge of the pool itself and had to hold on to dear life as the water sloshed back and forth in wave fashion. FUN! We swam and then went and enjoyed the hot tubs - hot tubbing in the sunshine in the middle of the atlantic as we headed back towards hurricane Noel. We laid out in the sun, with our books and a cold drink and enjoyed. The morning was spent reading and swimming and soaking and then we headed back to our room to change for lunch. Afternoon found us doing a mile walk - three laps around all of deck three - enjoying our balcony and wandering the ship; Again there were alot of options but we didn't want to join in - we just lazed and relaxed the day away. We just enjoyed being with each other.

I got all fancied up for the formal dinner - this time in my sparkly black blouse and long skirt - I actually dared wear heels tonight - the ship was moving all over the place but we were moving in time with it now!! The first formal night they served us crab legs and tonight I chose the lobster tail...delicious!! After dinner we went and had a really nice picture taken. We listened to the music in one of the lounges and danced some. The show tonight was another song and dance production by the dancers and was lots of fun to watch. We have learned to get to the shows early to get a seat...earlier to get a good seat! They announced tonight that unfortunately due to Hurricane Noel, we would not be docking at Half Moon Cay on Friday but rather would head directly back to Florida, hugging the coastline of Cuba and then on home on Saturday.

Again they mentioned the deaths caused by Noel in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic - at that point I decided to call my dad and let him know we were doing okay still. I knew he would be following the storm track and be wondering just where we were. It is sooo awesome to turn on your cell phone in the middle of the ocean and have service!! It will be interesting to see how much they charge per minute for those calls. But it was worth it to let family know we were still enjoying ourselves.

The seas were really rough that night. I awoke several times in the night hearing the creaking and groaning of the ship as we traveled through the tail of the hurricane. We stood by the railing of our balcony watching the waves as they pounded against the ship - all afternoon and evening Thursday and again on Friday. Interestingly enough from Thursday afternoon on, we could see other ships heading the same direction as we were - for such a huge ocean all the ships were headed the same direction at the same time - trying to get back home safe and sound. By Friday morning I think the Hurricane has turned back into a Tropical storm and then later Friday afternoon as it sped past the Carolinas it turned back into a hurricane again. At lunch time on Friday we talked to a young couple from San Diego - she had been really sea sick and the medicine they gave her helped that but just made her sleepy. They had slept the whole morning away. Again - I am so thankful that neither one of us suffered any ill effects from the movement of the boat. I think that there were a couple of passengers that fell and injured themselves due to the wind and waves also. We traveled 1079 nautical miles from St Thomas back to Ft Lauderdale - most of it under heavy seas. Friday it was cloudy - but still warm. We went up to the pool for a while but it was stable - no fun!!

We wandered through the stores and picked out the pictures we wanted from the night before. One of them had a scratch across it so they told us to come back that evening and they would have it reprinted for us. I bought the scrapbook pages to go in my scrapbook - they were on clearance for only $6 - even in the middle of the caribbean I can find clearance sales.

As we were eating lunch with the couple from San Diego and an older couple from Canada they announced over the intercom that there were porpoises playing off the bow of the ship. We were in the middle of lunch and couldn't leave so we missed them...darn. That evening the family sitting ahead of us at the show were talking about it and their 22 year old daughter said she was one of the first to see them and they played for about 30 minutes - diving and dancing and jumping - wouldn't that have been fun!!

Because today was another at sea day, because the port at Half Moon Cay was closed the ship scheduled extra activities. They had tours through the theatre and tours through the kitchen which would have been really interesting. The kitchen tour was way way crowded so we ended up eating lunch instead. The ship put on an extra production Friday afternoon at 4:30 that was fantastic. It was a combination show by the magician and the piano player/singers. Totally entertaining. We went right from that to the dining room for our final supper on board the ship. It was special to say goodbye to our friends that we had shared dinner with for the whole week. Each evening they had served a special drink in cute Holland America Shot Glasses - each night had been a different color. That evening as JodiBeth came around - she said there were only six colors and so tonight (day 7) they could choose whatever color they wanted. Since we hadn't gotten any of them (I don't think there is any way you can make a virgin rattlesnake!) all six of our tablemates chose a different color and after they drank their drink they presented us with our own set of six Holland America Shot glasses. I will always remember Joe taking his shot glass and some ice water and his linen tablecloth and washing out his shot glass for us!! FUN memory! I haven't the slightest idea what I will do with the set - I've got them displayed in my curio cabinet for now - probably I will take them to Zion's market next summer and give them away again! we'll see.

We got pictures of each other and our wait staff - after dinner we headed off to the stores to pick up our picture and check out the bargains (!?) on gold chains by the inch. They had some beautiful chains and I got a 30 inch 18 carat gold chain for $2 an inch. I have put the locket my mother gave me a few years back on it. It is the locket my dad gave her when they were dating - it has pictures of each of them when they were 18 and 19 years old - It needed a nice chain - Ed bought him a gold chain necklace too - and I got a free bracelet that is so pretty. We wandered back over to the jewelry store (the chains by the inch were sold elsewhere on the ship) and we found my emerald earrings to match my necklace. They are small and dainty and what is really nice is that they don't bother me at night so I can just leave them on 24/7 - that way I won't lose them! Then we headed back to the Vista Lounge for one final show. It was alot of fun. They let us bring cameras tonight and Ed got some pictures of the winners of the All Star Cruise Contest. There were some really good singers. A 60ish fellow came out to sing and when he opened his mouth and started to sing we were sooooo amazed. He was good - I could have listened to him for hours. Then the activity director came on with his top 10 weirdest questions he has been asked by cruise members - like Do these elevators take you to the front of the ship? Or "Is the water in our toilets fresh water or salt water?" or "Does the staff go home every night?" I wish I could remember all ten of them!

We could have gone up to the Northern Lights Lounge at 11:30 pm and 'rocked till we docked" but old fogies like we are we headed back to our cabin to pack. We extended both suitcases to their limit and atuffed the big bag we got from St Thomas plus our computer bags and managed to get everything packed - we set our main suitcases outside our stateroom door where they were picked up sometime in the night. Saturday morning we got up and showered and dressed and headed up to breakfast about 7 am. We docked safe and sound on a sunny day back in Ft
Lauderdale and they called each deck, one at a time to disembark. With computer bags and my big pink bag in tow we headed off of the ship and were guided to the bus that would take us to the airport. Once we got to the airport we went to the local phones and called our hotel to pick us up (long story made short - when we booked the cruise we were given an airport to ship and back package - so even though we stayed an extra day at the Hampton Inn in Ft Lauderdale we let them take us to the airport and then we took the free shuttle from to airport back to the hotel. We arrived with all of our luggage at the Hampton in by 9:30 am and figured we would just drop off our luggage since they wouldn't have our room ready for us but lo and behold they did have a room ready for us that early in the morning. We made arrangements to go on an Everglades tour about noon and just relaxed till then.

The tour picked us and another couple up from the hotel and headed to the Everglades park. We got to go on an airboat out into the everglades and see alligators and birds and iguanas in the wild. We got to watch a man go into a cage full of alligators and prod one out of the water and then explain why he can stick his hands and head into the mouth of an alligator and not lose them. Finally I got a chance to hold a baby alligator. You will notice I have a firm hold on his jaw!

We headed back to the hotel and for supper walked over to a near by mall looking for a red lobster - we couldn't find it but found an old 50's style hamburger joint and enjoyed fish and onion rings - no crystal or three sets of silverware - we are heading back to reality now.

Sunday morning we got up at 4:30 am to head for the airport. Our flight was a nonstop flight fron Ft Lauderdale to SLC - Ed was upgraded to first class so he let me sit in first class all the way home while he sat back in coach for the five hour flight. Bless his heart - he is so good to me!!

It was good to get home - the weather has even been nice for us! What a treasure trove of memories I have from the trip!!

I will be home until December when we head to New York state for one or two weeks while Ed works back there. But we will have the weekends to do something fun! Like go see the
Christmas Tree in NYC

Friday, November 9, 2007

Wednesday - Charlotte Amelie, St Thomas Islands

The sun was shining as the ship docked on St Thomas in the British Virgin Islands. Immediately upon arriving the immigration people came on board and had to check the ID's of every person on board the ship. They sent the aliens one direction and the citizens a different direction - they they called each deck one at a time so we didn't have to stand in line long - when they called deck 5 we headed downstairs to the Queens lounge and there a nice lady asked to see our passports and waved us on through. We were given a green card (cardstock) saying we had been through immigration. No one was allowed off of the boat until everyone on board had been cleared. So we headed to the dining room for breakfast while waiting for the all clear signal to go ashore. Welcome to the United States!!

The main city is Charlotte Amalie named after the Danish Queen when they founded the island. There were a total of six cruise ships in port today so it made the city very very busy. The island has about 78000 people living on it and it was much more hectic than Tortola. Again, we hadn't prebooked any activities because people had told us it was easy to book something on shore and that it was alot cheaper on shore. They weren't nearly as organized at this port and it looked like we weren't going to find anything available until someone pointed out a lady with a clipboard. We went over and talked to her and got what we thought was going to be a snuba trip - and the lady was from our cruise ship so we ended up paying full price....and when we got to the cove we found out that the snuba class was already overbooked and what we ordered (and paid for) was simply a snorkeling day. It did get us to the bay, and the price included snorkel gear which we didn't need and a class in how to snorkel (which we also didn't need). The fish were pretty and although the water wasn't as clear as say, Hawaii was we enjoyed ourselves. We snorkeled and fed the fish and then found a nice spot on the beach to enjoy the sun. Ed wandered over to the 'bar' and got us some cokes and when he got back to me and the towels he was 'bawled' out by the 'waitress' - for getting our drinks ourselves.

Evidently this 'area' of the beach was her serving spot and she lost out on a couple of sales cause we had bought our own. She let us know that if we wanted anything else, to tag her and she would get it for us!!

With about 1/2 hour left before our ride took us back, we wandered over to the animal park attached to the beach. This was part of our ticket price too. The most fun about it was the iguanas. We had seen a couple of them lazing in the sun by the shark pool but when a worker pulled out the lettuce they came from all over!

We headed back to Charlotte Amelie and back to the ship for lunch and to wash the salt water off of us and then we headed back to
Charlotte Amelie. The city itself was probably four or five miles away so we caught a taxi and he was not happy with the fact that there were only the two of us. The taxis are all open air rides with roofs - and can normally hold 12 people. EVERY single time he stopped at a stop sign he would holler at the people walking down the sidewalk to see if he could pick up more passengers. We were so ticked off at his attitude we gave him our eight bucks and NO TIP! We wandered through the stores but they were looking for bigger fish to fry than us ... everything was high class high dollar ...finally we headed over to the open air market and I found the prettiest thing for Mauri for her birthday. We also found a large bag with embroidered wording that said St Thomas on it - we need it to put all the t shirts we have bought for the whole family - our luggage was already full and we bought lots more. About 4 pm we headed back to the ship, catching another taxi - on the way back I realized today was Halloween as we passed a car with a full sized skeleton sitting in the passenger seat. The driver caught my eye and grinned at my reaction and I hollered "Happy Halloween" as we went past. Amazingly enough, in a city overrun with cruise ships and people from all over the world, I heard someone call out "There's ED!" Sure enough, I looked back and there was Martina Crawford who shared an office with Ed for his first six or eight years at the corporate office. She was with her fiance and they had shipped out of Cape Canaveral on Sunday but because of Noel they changed their schedule and landed in St Thomas the same day as we did. Small world!!

The ship left harbor that evening at 6:30 while we were eating. Dinner that night was a hoot. Being Halloween they served eye of newt and batwing and all sorts of halloweeny dishes. Of course it was normal food with a fun twist on the names. I wish I could have kept the menu. They did have a costume parade and some of the costumes were amazing...the people must have packed one whole extra suitcase just to bring their costumes!

That evening was a magic show by James Cielen - a master illusionist and magician. It was fascinating - I haven't the slightest idea how he did any of his tricks - really really good. He also had a cute sense of humor and would get laughing at himself so hard he would duck his head and his shoulders would just shake with laughter. It was a top notch show.

After the show we wandered around the ship until 9:30 when we headed for the lido deck where they had a chocolate extravaganza. Now gooey chocolate does not look good at that time of the night for me (since I have to check my blood level at 11:00) but they had the most fantabulous assortment of chocolate - they had chocolate sculptures and strawberries dipped in chocolate and chocolate fountains and trays and trays of the most lucious deserts - all made with chocolate. It was a feast for your eyes and I was really proud of myself that all I had was a couple of strawberries dipped in chocolate and a sugar free chocolate mousse' - that was delicious!! and when I checked my blood level I was right at 103 - exactly where I was supposed to be.

Fun day, fun things to see and experience. Wonderful memories.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Another story about Dirk

I just wrote this story out to add to the comments on Dirk's blog about his habits and experiences. When asked to come up with six things he listed six one word answers! So I told Kecia and Jamie to help me come up with some extra good stories on Dirk. As I wrote this out (in first person as if he wrote it, I decided I needed to share this wonderful memory with all of you - I am sure Melinda knows what a big heart Dirk has - he proved it to me this Christmas!)

As his mom I will add another - #7 -

for Christmas of 2004 I gave my mother a Christmas to remember!! I spent the night at home instead of my apartment and at 2 am (after Santa was thru putting out his stuff and SOUND asleep) I sneaked back upstairs and set the kitchen table with replacements for my mom's china (china that she had picked out years and years before, for her wedding) that she had watched break all over the kitchen floor a few years before when the hutch fell off the base of her china cabinet. I had found a place online to order replacement pieces of older china designs that were no longer available.

Before I let her into the kitchen Christmas morning to see my surprise I gave her a beautifully wrapped box of Kleenex...she laughed and said I am really gonna need this on Christmas day...and Kecia said "Oh, you will!" I then led her into the kitchen to see the whole table set with dinner plates, salad plates, dessert and soup bowls, tea cups and saucers, serving platters and serving dishes...even a gravy bowl .

She needed the tissues!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Dang Jamie Tagged Me!

A. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning.
B. Each player lists 6 facts/habits about themselves.
C. At the end of the post, the player then tags 6 people and posts their names, then go to their blogs and leave them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

I agree with Dirk - I don't know six more people that have I will post my answers but I'm not tagging anyone!! By the way Dirk - maybe Jamie and Kecia and I will list six of your well known facts and habits!! HAH !! That would be fun! the first fact (about you) would be that you met your mom at Denneys on your honeymoon - 11pm at night he leaves his wife at the hotel and meets his mother at Denneys !! Now there is a fun story!!

Okay - about me

1. Travel - since you've all been reading my travelog you already know I love to travel with my husband. He travels alot with his work and I get to tag a long quite often. This trip to Florida though was my first since the infamous New York trip in April but even if we aren't flying some where exotic we still leave town quite often to go camping (really roughing it in our 29 foot toy hauler with our two four wheelers). We have been to Hawaii many many times and still want to go again. I think our next big trip will be a two week trip to Germany in 2008 or 2009. We know we will be going to Hawaii (Maui) again in October of 2009 with MTC - yeah!!

2. Genealogy - I have been very involved in genealogy for the last 15 years however right now I am tired of it!! I know - repent repent. I do indexing almost daily for the church and love it but I need to start digging for missing ancestors again. I also need to get to work on again but I think that is gonna be put off till after Christmas. Maybe when Ed and I fly to New York again in December we can finish looking for the elusive Wileys - Newburgh has some great old cemeteries!

3. Family - this should be #1 on my list since it is #1 in my heart. I have five precious children and five wonderful children in laws. #10 grandbaby will probably be born in the next day or two and I love them all dearly. We are blessed to have everyone within an hours drive of our home so we get together often. I keep telling Ed we need a bigger home - so that when everyone comes over its not such a crush. But we have fun!

4. Crafts - Right now I get to make six flower headdresses for Dirk and Da's six nieces. Melinda's brother Sam is getting married on the 16th of this month and I just bought all the ivy and sparkly's and ribbons and flowers to make them. I have done some or all of the flowers for all of my kids' s weddings - making great memories while I was at it. The first bridal bouquet I had ever made was for Kristanne - after I had it finished and she was telling me how much she loved it I told her that I had never made one before!! She almost panicked and then looked at what she was holding in her hands and grinned and said - you could have fooled me!

5. Reading - I love to read - fantasy, romance, murder mysteries - you name it I love it. In just the last couple of years Ed has finally discovered what a wonderful world is available between the covers of a book and its been so fun to share books and authors with each other. I thought for many years that Shawn and Dirk turned me on to fantasy novels through Anne McCaffrey's dragon books but as I look back through the years I remember going to the Kaysville Library very regularly as a sixth grader and devouring all of the Wizard Of Oz books - Frank Baum must have written at least 60 or 70 of them and I bet I read them all when I was 12 years old.

6. Shopping - I have to be honest - I love to shop and I love to find a good bargain. I think back on the years money was soooo tight - I mean Ed was a school teacher for heavens sake - and then we joined the army with three kids as a PFC! And added the twins while we were in Texas. I now find when Ed is out of town and I get bored I head to the mall!! And anyone that was at Kecia's baby shower knows I got carried awake with pink cute things. But other than her blessing dress everything was on sale!! and a good sale at that.

Well - that's me - I am blessed to have a terrific family and a husband that I love more than ever - even after 40 years! I have the Gospel in my life and it brings me such joy. My health is good - I am happy and I am loved!

Cruise - Monday and Tuesday

Today we were supposed to dock at Grand Turk Island but because of the high winds and waves they canceled that port of call. It was rainy all day and they had the doors to the outside decks closed off due to the high seas. We were walking crazy still because the ship was rolling. I am sure that the owners of the ship loves days like this because there is nothing to do but hit the shops!! The ships log which they gave us at the end of the cruise described the conditions as Strong Gales, Very High Seas, Moderate Swell and Scattered cloudy skies - I would describe the scattered cloudy skies as mainly rain!! The picture on the left shows what it looked like most of Sunday afternoon and Monday. Sunday evening they had a fantastic singing and dancing program called "Under the Boardwalk" with the Zuiderdam singers and dancers and they were so good. I told Ed we were getting old, if we could go on a cruise and they presented a whole show full of 60's songs!! Those were my teenage years!!

Like I said before though - everyone took the weather in stride and the food was still delicious. It was a lazy day and we found out afterwards that if we had wandered up to deck 9 the aft pool had a glass ceiling that closed over it - so people still swam and hot tubbed - we missed it. Monday night a couple called the amazing 88's played piano and sang and that was such a fun program. They were fantastic piano players - both of them and they sang songs that the audience got to sing and clap along with. We could have listened to them for hours. Neither Ed nor I are into bingo or karaoke and although we walked through the casino several times we didn't even drop a quarter in the slot - but we loved the food and we loved the shows.

Tuesday morning we arrived at Road Town Tortola - in the British Virgin Islands. We were supposed to get there at noon but since we sailed past Grand Turk the day before we got an extra four hours in Tortola. It is a beautiful island and was definitely the high point of our trip. It is described in the daily program as "powdery white sand beaches, lush green mountains, and a sheltered yacht filled harbor characterize the island of Tortola" and that describes it to a tee!

We got off the ship and there was a nice covered pavilion with a couple of ladies there to help us find the correct taxi for our prescheduled activities. We explained that we didn't pre book anything but we wanted a tour of the island and to go snorkeling - they were well organized and she pointed out a couple of people to talk to. We set up a boat tour for 1 pm to go snorkeling and then went over and found a taxi taking people on island tours. We had our snorkeling equipment with us and off we went with about nine other people. Tortola is a small island with about 16,000 people living on the Island. The British Virgin Islands comprise of about 26,000 people total. We left the harbor and went on a gorgeous drive up to the top of the island where the picture above was taken - at about 1700 feet above sea level. The driver gave us a lot of history of the island and answered questions as we went. He made about six 'portrait' stops and we of course took pictures at them all. Then we headed back down the other side of the island to a beautiful cove called Cane Cove. The sand was white and smooth and we headed down the beach to the area where the best snorkeling normally was - but the waters were still too churned up because of Tropical Storm Noel. So instead we just played in the water and stretched out on our towels (Note to Jamie: the ships provide them so you don't have to take up precious suitcase room for them!) and enjoyed the sunshine. We found that although the beaches were free public beaches the chairs were for rent - we cheaped out on this one cause the sand was so soft - we bought ourselves some virgin mai tai's and soaked up the sun. When it was time to meet the others to head back to port we got an extra 15 minutes of shopping in the outdoor shopping spots. Fun! I got Ed and my Dad some nice t-shirts and bought some of the tshirts for gifts for all the kids and grandkids. We had a family from Roosevelt on our ship with us that we met on the van - small world- they were excited to find someone that actually knew where Roosevelt Utah was - The ladies had bought some cute sundresses that made wonderful swim suit cover ups and wore them back to the boat. We got back to the ship - showered and changed and had lunch in the dining room and then headed back off the ship again to do some more shopping right next to the port.

We canceled our 1 oclock boat tour because the snorkeling was no good - but we had lots of fun wandering through Road Town and I bought a gorgeous hibiscus flower made out of reddish coral. They told me that it was made right there in the BVI - I told Ed that if I got home and found a 'made in china' tag on it I would be very unhappy (they sold it to us boxed and sealed to protect it during travel) - but sure enough it was made in the British Virgin Islands. While we were shopping Ed found me a couple of those cute dresses - they need to have sleeves sewn in them - then I could wear them anytime and not just as a swimsuit cover up.

After we got back to the ship we crashed - it got really hot and muggy there in town in the afternoon - up on top of the island there was a wonderful breeze and it was much cooler!! We took our naps and went to dinner.

We skipped the show that night as it started at 11:30 pm - and thats too late for us old folks - especially since we were docking at St Thomas, US Virgin Islands early the next morning!!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

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Monday, November 5, 2007

Cruise updates

We made it back home yesterday safe and sound - and I can say we survived Hurricane Noel ! I was IM'ing my daughter in law Jamie last night about 8:45 and was about to sit down and update my blogspace when I decided I was just too tired. I told Jamie I was gonna sign off and curl up in bed with a book - I turned off my computer and went downstairs to put one last load of clothes in the wash when I turned to Ed and said - no wonder I am so tired - its not quarter to nine - its almost midnight!!!! In the last 24 hours we went from Eastern Daylight Time to Mountain Standard Time... its bedtime!!

Last week, I sat down about three days into the cruise and wrote out our experiences to that point - I will post that log now...and tomorrow or the next day I will add more about the cruise. We had a wonderful wonderful time even though the seas got really rough - neither of us suffered from sea sickness at all - we just couldn't walk straight cause the ship was moving all over the place. Everyone looked like they were on a cheap drunk! We were unable to land at two of our four ports of call because of Noel - dang!! But we had a great time anyway.

so here goes:

Saturday October 27, 2007

We flew from Orlando to Fort Lauderdale yesterday afternoon and caught a free shuttle ride from the airport to the Hampton Inn where we spent the night. It was a really nice hotel – of course not so luxurious as the Dolphin has been but the people are so friendly and they go out of there way to make our stay comfortable. We had eaten a good lunch at the airport before leaving Orlando so were not really hungry come supper time, besides which is was really raining so we just enjoyed the treats put out by the Inn – salsa end chips, cheeses and crackers and juices. Ed made arrangements for us to leave our extra suitcases at the Inn for the week we were cruising. That way we only had one large suitcase apiece plus our computer bags.

Saturday morning we had a wonderful continental breakfast of eggs and sausage, muffin, milk and melon slices at the hotel. The Shuttle picked us up at the front door and took us back to the airport where we met up with the Holland America Cruise people. They put us on a big bus and we headed to the Port. We embarked out of Port Everglades. It was fun getting to the dock and seeing all the big cruise ships at the different docks.

We were onboard before noon and we sent up to the Lido deck to have some lunch. This deck has a huge dining area that is open from about 5 am for breakfast and is open until midnight!! The ice cream bar is always open and the food has all been fantastic – They feed a lot of people!! Even though this is 'fast food' we still eat on glass plates with nice silverware and cloth napkins. We can have as much or as little as we want!! Fun!! Interestingly enough there is not an open bar for soda!! There is water, tea and lemonade – free, all you can drink but you have to request coke, diet coke or sprite from the servers. We purchased a soda card on Saturday for $25 for 20 sodas!! That makes them about 1/3 the regular price and you don't have to pay the 15% gratuity either.

The ship is sooo gorgeous!! The elevator doors are works of art. There are outside elevators too – so you can see the sea as you go up or down. My mom would have hated them - but they don't bother me and I love being able to see all around as I ride up to deck 10 or down to deck 3. Deck 1 and 2 are within the bowels of the ship .

We were able to get in our stateroom by 3 o'clock and so were able to drop off our computer bags and my purse. Our main suitcases disappeared into the bus we rode to the port and we didn't see them again until after dinner when they finally got delivered to our room. We joined a tour of the ship for first timers and it was good – it showed us how to find our way around ship – we of course had already found the Lido deck (deck 9) but we were shown the casino, the library, the atrium, the photo shop, the shopping areas, the beautiful dining rooms, the theatre and of course all of the bars. Lots and lots of bars!! We have found though that we can sit down and enjoy the live music and order a coke and relax as well as those who drink.

For all the bars and availability of liquor I haven't seen any drunkenness – other than the stumbling gait of EVERYONE because of the movement of the ship. None of us have our sea legs yet! The seas got rough Sunday night and all day monday and we were all staggering around. (By the time ran into rough water again on Thursday and Friday we didn't stagger as much even though the seas were rougher and the tropical depression had turned into a hurricane - we still walked like a bunch of drunks but we seemed to have better control.)

We joined everyone on deck at 5 pm for the going away party. We all received a souvenir glass – everyone else had mai tai's or rum punch in theirs – we got ours with coke and diet coke instead!!

We got to watch four cruise ships leave Port Everglades ahead of us. I don't know how they decide who goes when but we got to follow them all out into the ocean. We had to leave the party up on deck 9 and 10 early – even before we sailed because we have the early dinning schedule – 5:45 PM ...I chose that one so that I could enjoy their fabulous meals and still have my blood sugars at a good level by the time I went to bed at night, when I get to poke my finger and check my sugar level.

The meal was fantastic. It is a beautiful dining room and each place setting had two or three knives and forks and spoons, plus a whole array of silverware at the top of the dishes too – they are your desert utensils! The servers unfolded our linen napkins and placed them on our laps! Then they handed us a menu with about eight choices of appetizers (including soups, salads, and regular appetizers and another eight choices of entrees. Ed and I both chose the “tower of ...(can't remember now what it was called!) it was crabmeat and avocados and it was good.. A little too fishy for me but I still enjoyed it. The main entree was prime rib and it was sooo good. Ed had pork chops and he enjoyed that too. Then they came around with the dessert menu!! Everything was soo delicious! The only downside was our table. There were places for eight and there were only six of us. The other four people at our table was a group of ladies -either sisters or good friends – but they spoke mainly in Spanish. Three of the four had flown in from Mexico City for the cruise where they met up with the one lady from Ft Lauderdale. So they chatted back and forth in Spanish and left us out of most of their conversation.

Saturday night they had a LATE show in the theatre – it was the welcome show and they only put it on once so we had to stay up late for that one... it started at 10:30 pm, but it was worth the wait.

Sunday morning we slept in till about 9:15 and then got up and got ready and went to breakfast. This meal was at the Lido deck again – we had fresh omelette's made to order with fresh fruit and milk to drink. We met a fun couple from Arkansas and shared our breakfast table with them. (We ran into them at lunch time again so continued our conversations.) Then we went back to our stateroom and changed into our swim suits and headed up to the Lido deck - it was packed so we went on up to the 10th level deck and found some chaise lounges and enjoyed the sun and the sea. We read and talked u

ntil all of a sudden a squall went past and sent everyone scurrying inside to get out of the rain. By the time we had gathered up our towels and books and gotten down the steps to the Lido deck the squall had passed and the decks were clear so we got our choice of some nice seating around the pool and hot tubs. It was a day AT SEA. So we just relaxed an enjoyed.. At one point they came on the intercom and were telling us where we were (latitude and longitude- lots of help there !! HAH! ) and how fast we were traveling. They also said that there was a tropical depression forming but they were hoping that it wouldn't come our direction.

All afternoon the sea got rougher and rougher. The boat movement became much mo
re pronounced. As we came out of our cabin dressed and ready for our first formal dinner and couldn't even walk straight. Here we are all gussied up looking like a couple of cheap drunks. However, everyone else was walking the same way. This ship isn't as large (width wise especially) as the Royal Caribbean that we sailed on before so even though the captain is employing the stabilizers we can definitely feel it. As the server from the bar came to our table to take the drink orders one of the ladies said she didn't dare drink anything stronger than water and the server said the joke at the bar was that when the seas were rough, the more you drank the less wobbly you walked – We did

n't test that theory out. I wore the gorgeous red dress from Kecia's wedding – it still fits me better than it did for her wedding!!

As we were getting dressed for dinner I heard Ed groan – what is wrong I asked...he didn't say a word, so I asked again --- he said my black shoes... Did you forget them I asked – no and he held two totally different black shoes out for me to see – two left feet!! So he ended up wearing his suit with sandals and black socks. Its not a style you want to copy!!

At tonights dinner we started off with shrimp cocktails...the shrimp were so big and so juicy. Then I had crab legs and Ed had a new york steak. The crab legs had been cut in half length wise!! So I didn't have to dig for the meat!! WOW! Then for desert I had an ice cream sundae and Ed had the pineapple flambe'. What makes these meals really nice (besides the service, the dining room, the music and candlelight, etc) is that they aren't huge servings. You aren't stuffed as you walk away. You can fool yourself into thinking that you didn't have too many calories since you are stuffed to the gills.

There were a lot fewer guests in the dining room last night and I think it is because of the rough seas. Thank heavens Ed and I have been able to handle all of it with out any problems at all. I thought I might have to head down to the infirmary to get some Dramamine (which they hand out for free) but I've been fine.

They put on a fantastic show in the theatre and even though the boat was rocking in the 8-10 foot swells, those dancers didn't miss a beat!! AMAZING. It was 60's music and we loved it. We are going to have to break down and admit we are getting old when we go on a cruise and they play OUR music - for a whole show! There aren't many children on this cruise – certainly not like there was on the Royal Caribbean. I would say 90% of the cruisers are age 40 and above. Yes Jamie – that would make you a kid again !!

We are enjoying the balcony in our room – even though we are getting the tail winds from a hurricane now, it is still warm!!! I think they said 77 degrees!! Its warmer outside than in!! They over do the air conditioning in some of the areas – most of it is comfortable but I did buy a zip up sweatshirt on board today and it feels so nice. So Kelly and Jamie – pack a sweater. (I found out later that they turned the air conditioners on high to help those who were suffering from motion sickness!! )

I did have problems getting to sleep with the waves – Ed had opened the cupboard door that has the little refrigerator in it because he says it gets so hot in there – anyway, the door opened and closed and opened and closed and opened and closed with the movement of the ship. I just keep telling myself that we are making memories!! We have had the lifeboat drill and they tell us they will stay afloat even if they are overloaded and even if they fill up with water. I know how to put on my life jacket and I know which life boat we have been assigned to! I am set!!

This morning (Monday ) we arrived at 7 am at Grand Turk Island – but because of the winds and waves our captain chose not to dock.- He said that he was informed that the water and beach excursions had been canceled due to inclement weather. There are only 8 days a year that Grand Turk does not enjoy sunshine – this is one of them. instead this is another day at sea and we are heading straight to Tortola. All those people who had prebooked excursions will be credited that amount back to their accounts. I didn't feel too badly as I just rolled over and went back to sleep!! 7am EDT is tooo early for anything!!

We headed up to the Lido deck for breakfast and I had a waffle smothered in berries and whipped cream and a bowl of fresh melon and pineapple. Also – fresh squeezed orange juice!!
I didn't think anyone made their own orange juice anymore!

There are a lot of different activities on board – even closing off the outside decks because they are too slippery from the rain – but we aren't bingo players and we aren't into art auctions and the movies they've shown so far haven't caught our eye. We have wandered and talked to people and read our books and just relaxed. We did buy the embarkation picture they took of us and I had Ed get the cute scrapbooks that were on cle

arance sale for just $6 so I will have fun scrapbooking my vacation when I get home. Then we wandered over to the shops....I got my jacket and we got a cute silver bell that has Zuiderdamm - then Ed drug me over to the jewelry store (I mean I fought him every step of the way ;-) and bought me a lovely emerald necklace – we looked at matching earrings too but they were just way tooo expensive.

Then we headed back to the dining room (the fancy one) for lunch – they serve all three meals there every day – I had raspberry soup – YUMMMMY. It is a cold soup and it is probably made up of blended raspbe

rries and cream. Ed had a black bean soup. Then we both had deep fried fish and chips. It was good. We sat at a table with four other people and had a fun visit with them.

This afternoon we have taken naps and read and I've been typing. I have to say I love being so thoroughly spoiled by our cabin steward. Din comes in at least twice a day to tidy up the room,

bring fresh ice , turn down the sheets at night for us and leave their famous towel art- - This is a cute crab – last night they came to our room with a complimentary fruit bowl – bananas and oranges – YUM. There are two white cotton terry robes for our use onboard. Everyday there are printed activities with highlights about the next port so we will lknow where we are going and when.

All in all, in spite of the weather it's been great!