Friday, July 24, 2009

The Cruise (Day 3) and some News...

The cruise...

I haven't forgotten about documenting the rest of it. I have written about the first two days here and here

On day three, we spent the day at sea. On those days you typically do a little bit of everything right on the cruise ship that I've talked about before. 

You do all sorts of tricks in the pool and even take a dip in the hot tub...

You might even participate in the kids program's parade. This is what Grant and Cooper looked like at the end of it. Too cute! They also made picture frames so that they can put a picture in it after the cruise. 

After dinner, you might walk around and try and catch some amazing sunsets. We did that on several occasions. 

You'll get that romantic photo and probably spend some more money at the arcade before heading to the evening show. 

That's it for day three.


The news...

Since last Saturday, we have been entertaining my dear mother-in-law, father-in-law, our niece, Chyenne, her husband of two years, Zach, and my niece, Natalie. 

The week before they arrived, the children and I were preparing meals to freeze, along with chocolate chip cookies, brownies, and zucchini bread so that I wouldn't be cooking all the time. Some of the places we visited are:  The Lake District (Beatrix Potter had a beautiful home there), Chester, Wales, Liverpool to visit the Beattles museum, Stonehenge, and lastly London. My husband, bless his sweet heart, drove them to London yesterday morning, which takes 3 and half hours, toured all day, and then returned at 9:30 p.m. He stopped at Stonehenge first because it's a must-see. 

As they toured, I packed the kids and I for our trip to the U.S. tomorrow and stayed here with my FIL, Paul. My 3 youngest stayed home as well. It was a nice, quiet day.

This was the first day of their visit when we took them around the dam, the place I live at part-time since I have a dog that needs a lot of exercise. Zach and Chyenne are in the back and Natalie, my 13 year old niece, is in the middle. 

We celebrated my father-in-law's birthday on Tuesday and it was really nice to be together. 

Tomorrow we'll be jetting off to Chicago and going our separate ways for about 5 days as we visit our friends in Michigan and my in-laws return to Indiana so that they can prepare for our arrival and get rested up after their whirlwind tour of England. 

Blessings everyone. 

Thursday, July 23, 2009

52 Weeks ~ 4/52 Photos of Me

Forever In Blue Jeans

I recently decided to join this weekly meme which Carin created over at "Forever in Blue Jeans".  For 52 weeks you have the opportunity to get a photo that you are in and blog about it. I personally think that dads miss out as well, and so I guess they should participate, too. I'm just sayin'... 

This is my boy, Austin. My firstborn. A 13 year old. I love him to pieces, but he tries my patience. I think we might have been having a heart-to-heart just before this was taken or maybe that talk happened 5 minutes ago. They happen a lot. Does anyone else have lots of talks with their teenager(s). 

I am trying to get used to him having more of an opinion and let me just say, it's hard. He is sweet, precious, and loving, and he gets moody, irritable and at times is obnoxious. He reacts to my moodiness and has no problem letting me know how he feels.

Lord, I pray for wisdom in helping Austin figure things out as he grows and develops into a young man. I pray that He continues to love and serve you and above all else gives Glory to Your Holy Name in all he says and does.  In Jesus' Name, Amen and Amen.

On a little different note, these are some of my girlfriends. It was Jane's (in the pink) 40th birthday we were celebrating. I was honored to have been invited to join these ladies in celebrating her. 

(From Left to Right: Me, Deb, Jane, Deb, Pam, and another Deb~~ I'm not even kidding)

Go on over to Carin's and join the fun.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wordless Wednesday!

Sailing into the Sunset!

Check out "5 Minutes for Mom" for more Wordless Wednesday posts. 

Saturday, July 18, 2009

You're Gonna Miss This Moment

Food Loiterers!

Does anyone else have these lurking about their kitchen? I don't mean cockroaches! In our home their names are Grant and Cooper, our precious twins. 

Each and every morning, they wake up with such joy, ready to start their day. They are filled with excitement and anticipation of a blessed day. They also have very hungry tummies and they want breakfast "yesterday". 

Come along with me and let me show you what this looks like in my kitchen...


On this particular day, I am making French toast and only Cooper is at my hip watching every step of preparation in anticipation of filling his tummy. You would normally see Grant, too. 

He also helps by setting the table, getting ingredients out, and wanting to help in any way to facilitate the process. If he wasn't talking to me as I cook, I think I would hear his stomach growling. He appears to be that hungry!

At this point, I had Braaten snapping pictures because it occurred to me that these boys do this daily and it needs to be captured! I'm not sure why Grant was missing out on all this culinary fun.

Can you just see the anticipation?

This is a happy kid! I love him.

Braaten felt the need to capture the beauty of the toast.

And, YES!, he picks the entire thing up with his fork and goes at it just like so. 

Does anyone else have food loiterers? It's a funny term but oh so true.  I have a funny feeling that these little guys are going to do this for years to come, so I think I will miss them at this age. It's when I really noticed that this happens. 

Check out Pam's blog here, and tell about a moment that you will one day miss. It is a great weekly blog carnival. And honestly, aren't there about a million moments we are going to miss, even though sometimes we wish those moments away? 

Friday, July 17, 2009

Cruising - Day Two ~ Messina, Sicily, and More

I shared about Day One here in case you haven't read it. 

This was our kids' first time cruising and they thought it was FABULOUS. It was for so many reasons. There is always loads to do on the ship and, I'm sure you have heard before, there is food at every turn. There was an ice cream machine right near the pool and the kids could help themselves... within reason, of course. 

Miniature golf was a huge hit for our oldest son, Austin. He loves golf! Put him on a cruise ship with it and you know where to find him. He spent lots of time there. Towards the end, the amount of time he spent putting decreased some, but not much.

Here's my happy bunch!

Grant was having lots of fun at mini golf as well.

Braaten and Mel

Notice in the background that you can see land and not sea. That was because we were at our first port: Messina, Sicily. I'll tell you more about that in a minute.

We spent some time in the arcade.

I gave Austin a run for his money, but he won 7 to 5 I think. 

I know a lot of you reading this have fond memories of Pac Man and Ms. Pac Man as I do. I can just hear those quarters jingling in my pocket back in 1980-81 when I put one after the other into the machine to see how many of those dots I could swallow up. It still draws me. My husband gets a kick out of watching me play because I'm not too shabby at it. I never came close to the high score, though. It was something like 204,300. I got like 30,000 which is pretty lame, but I had a lot of fun anyway.

Shawn, on the other hand, likes to play Missile Command and he did, in fact, get his name on the screen. He was in the top 3. He even took a picture of it. I think I'm rubbing off on him. He was thinking it was a bloggable moment. I might have to put the score up on my next post.

After those activities, we put the kids into the kids program to try it out. We told them we would be back in an hour because we had a couple of leery children that wanted us to check on them in case they didn't like it. 

An hour went by, we checked, and they stayed. They loved it! 

Since the kids were all happy and cared for, we got off the ship and went into Messina. The shops and restaurants were within walking distance of the ship. We strolled around hand in hand just taking in the sights. Since it was after 1 in the afternoon, half of the town was closed due to siesta. We were able to pick up a few souvenirs, take pictures, and then head back on board.

What a great door! I love the patina finish. It's beautiful. 

Is it not huge,

and ornate?

Just a cool clock tower in the town.

I love looking at boats on the water. This bunch was really colorful. I guess you don't usually call them a bunch of boats, but you get the idea.

This is what we first saw as the ship was docking.

We enjoyed our little trip to Sicily.

After spending the day doing all of these various activities, we put our formal wear on for dinner. They usually have one or two formal nights on most ships which is fun to dress up for. They have photographers around to take pictures of you that can be purchased for a somewhat hefty fee.

While the girls were in the kids program, they met two of the sweetest girls. They are sisters named Jadon an Kyla. Actually Jadon went with her mom on an excursion and summoned Kyla to make some cool friends for her. Mission accomplished and these girls were not to be separated for the rest of the cruise! Good job, Kyla!

Melanie, Braaten, Jadon, and Kyla in the front.

Grant, Austin, and Cooper looking dapper.

Our waiter took a picture of us at our table. The food was delicious every night.

My handsome hubs and I

This picture was taken as we listened to the captain of the ship give his welcome address and before we went to the evening show.

This Elton John impersonator was really great.

Each night when we went back to our room, these funny little animal characters were made and put on our bed. 

Day 2 was great! Stop by again so I can share the rest.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

3/52 Photos of Me

Carin over at Forever in Blue Jeans is hosting "52 Weeks". This is a year long challenge to get Mom aka me or, in your case, you in a photo once a week unless of course you are a dad. Since we are behind the camera most of the time we have to make the effort to have a picture taken of us. It's  a lot of fun. 

This photo of Melanie and I was taken at Austin's baseball game last week in Manchester, England. We had a fun time even though our team didn't win. 

Baseball is extremely uncommon in England, so to have found a team nearby is a blessing for our 3 boys. 

Go over to Carin's and give this blog carnival a try.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009