Thursday, February 28, 2008


Known as the salmon capital of the world, Ketchikan is a quaint little town near the southern most part of Alaska at the entrance of the Inside Passage. It is 679 miles north of Seattle and 235 miles south of Juneau. Summer temps. range from 51 - 65 degrees with Winter temps. a surprisingly mild 29-39 degrees. The town averages 132 FEET (yes FEET) of precipitation each year. It was indeed raining the day we were there.

It was a chilly misty rain much of the time with periods of heavy downfall frequent. It didn't stop us and we loved venturing into the quaint streets and local art galleries. Ketchikan is fighting back to perserve it's local heritage. It turns out there are 70+ jewelry stores (within walking distance of where the ships dock) that are run by businessmen who pay large sums of money to the cruise ship industry and then close up shop during the 'off' season and sell the same wares in other ports of call further south. The town leaders are diligently working to halt and decrease these types of 'touristy' businesses and bring back local native wares and arts.

At mid day, Dave and John split from my quest for 'native culture in a shopping bag' and took a very exciting excursion adventure...

An adventure that made me revert back to nail biting as a Mom and wife waiting for their return.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Entering the Inside Passage

This was the view when we entered the Inside Passage from the open sea heading North.

Muster Stations (and roast beef carving stations:)

Leaving Vancouver was breathtaking in and of itself, but as we approached more open seas, the landscape became even more picturesque. Click on the picture of my Mom and John walking down the steps to the dining room and note the view as you dined each evening! Unbelievable.
One advantage of taking the Inside Passage route is that your open seas sailing is limited to only two or so days of the trip. The Inside Passage waters are much calmer and you have the advantage of the views on both sides of the ship. 

We were sailing on Celebrity's ship the Infinity. The ship holds 2046 passengers and its tonnage is 91,000. It measures 965 feet in length, and was built in 2001. I found it very interesting to watch the everyday things behind the walls of it's glamour, like where the crew that cleaned the rooms stay, and what was life like living and working on a ship for 8 months at a time. 

All of our family and friends we were traveling with would go their own way during the day, and we would then meet for dinner in the main dining room in the evenings. I think having our family around us during such a special time was one of the best things about the entire voyage. We so enjoyed just being together. 

The head waiter for our table was from Turkey. He was married and his wife worked on the ship as well. I must say, I've never seen such dedication and attention to detail! He told us that they shared a very small cabin and work about 15 hours a day. John called each course they brought out 'a dinner'. So, the  appetizer was the 1st dinner, the salad was the 2nd dinner etc.. He was quite impressed when they brought out SIX dinners! :)

1st stop- Ketchikan AK!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

It was all a go.. or so we thought

It was all a go. - Or so we thought.. We were headed to ALASKA! 

BUT, the night before we were to leave, we got a contract on our house, at 10 p.m. From 10 p.m. until about 2 a.m we spent much of the time we reserved for packing and last minute responsibilities with the real estate agent. When we finally collapsed in bed around 5 a.m. we weren't even sure the contract would go through after all. 
We actually left not knowing.
Whether due to the lack of sleep, last minute stress or whatever, I ended up with a major migraine headache. The flight was a total of about 13 hours of travel, and I left with ice packs which melted by the time we hit our first layover. I took baggies and asked the flight attendant to fill them w/ ice throughout the trip. It was not exactly what my dear sweet husband imagined (or myself ;). 
I need to interject a very special thank you to my friends Angie and Brittany. They kept our Elizabeth for us as we felt she would fare better in familiar surroundings being only 2. The travel agent advised strongly that this trip would not be suitable for children under age 4-5 and looking back, we concur. Elizabeth adores her Miss Angie and Miss Brittany and we felt totally assured she was in loving hands. We took John and felt this would be a great time for some one on one before he started Kindergarden about 8 weeks later. We also met up with some travel buddies at our first stop! We were going with some family members, and friends which made our trip that much more memorable. 
One very special person going with us was my Mom. I was so thankful she felt up to the trip. I learned that my Dad had been looking into this trip for the two of them just prior to his very sudden passing a few years ago. It was something he had always wanted to do. I thought of him constantly.
Our first stop was the port of Vancouver Canada. It was where we would board the ship for our exciting cruise to the Inside Passage. We arrived a day or so early and did a little sightseeing in Vancouver, with a must see visit to Vancouver's China Town! Every weekend during the summer there is a Chinese Marketplace and it was actually the first time I've felt like I was back in China. The smells ;), the vendors, the music... It was VERY fun!
We had dinner at the Seasons restaurant one evening. This restaurant is in Queen Victoria park overlooking the city of Vancouver. You could eat in your own private dining area outside complete with it's own fireplace. Ahhhh. 
In Vancouver, it was raining almost the entire time we were there. I actually loved it. It was rather cold and I've never seen so many coffee shops! NO JOKE, there was either a Starbucks, or some other more 'local' establishment such as Blenz (my favorite) on every block! There was something special about the coffee.... 
Finally, it was time to board the ship! 

Monday, February 25, 2008

Where eagles fly

By the time we got our old house ready to put on the market, it was approaching a very special wedding anniversary for us. Dave is generally an extremely practical person in most respects, but this time... well, -he wasn't :)

Remember THIS?

It's where we were headed!
And we were off! 
Come back to join us!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Feathering the nest

I think anytime there is a move, there's a period of time where your new home (whether it be a house, apartment, college dorm, etc..) doesn't quite feel like "home" right away. Often in my case, it doesn't feel like home until you get ready to leave it, lol

An Indian family lived next to us early in our marriage and the smell of curry even today brings back the memories of this family. The wife would cook what smelled like delicious and intriguing combinations of spices that would filter up the stairs to our apartment.

At that time, we were living in a small 2 bedroom apartment and the Indian family had the same type of floor plan. One day, I realized they had out of town guests that were staying and staying and.. so one day, I asked the husband who his house guests were. He replied that his parents, a brother, and a few other misc. family members were 'visiting from India' with them for awhile. This was in addition to their own 2 children. As best I could determine there were somewhere between 9 and 12 people living in that tiny 2 bed room apartment. 

I asked where they all slept, and his reply was the following:

"Where there's room in the heart... there's room in the home"

Ok, so I'm thinking this is a good little life lesson here. Not that I followed the Indian families example, but it sounded good- or perhaps it just saved a big hotel bill! ~Back to the new house..

We attempt to unpack while at the same time get the old house ready to put on the market. John and Elizabeth didn't miss a beat and seemed to enjoy exploring the new surroundings. It was Mom who was as usual that was having the more difficult adjustment :) Getting two houses down to one was the immediate priority, so our concentration was aimed in that direction.


Friday, February 22, 2008

Dave packs and I get cold feet...the new house

 Note: we are catching up some out of town family and friends since I haven't sent Christmas cards since we returned from China... so sorry, but I do enjoy getting them! 
After deciding it was time to either move or clean house :).. I began to have 2nd thoughts. It was a sweet house (a little on the small side for our growing family) but we were just down the street from my Mom, and the sentimental stuff began to kick in. My heart just wasn't into the transition, but the school we had chosen for John to attend would have meant at least 2 hours each day on the road commute (round trips) not to mention all the after school activities the children were/ or were going to be involved in. 
We have a wonderful lot that we will hopefully build on, but it would have been impossible to build and be settled before John started school. The house we found was almost walking distance to our lot, and very close to Johns school. So, Dave starts methodically packing and I occupy the children and attempt to keep the dog from being bubble wrapped and boxed. 
The decision was to go ahead and move out so that we could "de-Kid" the house prior to putting it on the market. In addition, it could be ready to 'show' in a moments notice,,, instead of at least a months notice :) After moving all our junk out of the house, I *really* began to have some 2nd thoughts as it actually looked nice! Its amazing the amount of stuff  that one accumulates. Add to this the children's stuff and... suffice it to say the movers ended up with a pretty nice haul for them to take home and clutter their house with. --We kept the kids and the dog.
I really think there is something to living simply and limiting 'things' we have. It feels so much better to look across the room and be able to see the room instead of 'things'. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Good night sweet house

This past year we sold our house that we moved into when John was only 8 months old. It is also the only house E'beth had ever known with us. It held so many memories of our young children, and even though we knew when we purchased it that it would be temporary, it still held so many wonderful moments.
Our back yard had a babbling creek (that sometimes babbled very loudly ;) and we felt like we were living in a beautiful park. The children were drawn to the creek to toss black walnuts into it from the old tree that grew nearby. We had beautiful wildflowers that we planted all around and at almost anytime during the growing season could muster a beautiful bouquet that would rival the best florist in town. 
So now, we move on. 

Good Night Sweet House.

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

She's only 14 and might not live- **New Update below**

There is a young 14 year old girl whose name is Erin that wasn't feeling well last Thurs. Her parents took her to the Dr. and it was Strep. By Friday, she was much worse and on Fri. evening she was taken to the E.R. and admitted to ICU. Her organs began to shut down, and her parents were told she might not pull through. 
Today (Tues.) they are in the process of airlifting her to Vanderbilt Univ. in Nashville and once again her parents were told she might not even survive the trip. I can't imagine anything worse than to see your child so gravely ill and not be able to help them.
Events such as this make us really focus on the fact that there are no promises that we will see tomorrow. For any of us. I'm sure this precious 14 year old girl or her parents had no idea last Thursday that she would be facing death. 
There's nothing more that can jolt our thinking about where we will be spending eternity than to watch someone you love exit from this world.
You can read updates and more about Erin HERE
Erin's at Vanderbilt! She made the flight. Read the incredible latest here.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Honey, would you mind bringing in the groceries?

Can you imagine living in the green house at the top? Someone does! (Click on the pic. for a better perspective) Any guess as to where this is? Hang around, I'll take you there soon ;)

Sunday, February 17, 2008

on being a Mom

It was later than usual this evening when I tucked E'beth in and we had our night time ritual prior to sleep. She was indeed very tired as we had a full day. We had our snuggle time and I fell asleep beside her for a short while. As I woke only to hopefully stagger right back into my own bed, I noticed she was in an awkward position. I scooped her up and re-arranged her in a position that looked more comfortable and pulled the covers up around her.

She woke briefly and seemed disorientated. She was obviously frightened for a second having been sound asleep. Leaning over I stroked her hair and whispered 'Mommy is here and Mommy loves you very very much'.. I could see her entire body relax and drift slowly back to sleep. Knowing she feels safe and secure just hearing my voice is one of life's greatest pleasures as a Mom. Wow.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Now that V'day is history..Tis the season for bikinis and weddings

Well, perhaps we can ditch the bikinis, (I have an interesting habit of keeping a small point and shoot camera most everywhere we go- you never know what you might see ;) but we are looking forward to a family wedding coming up this spring! John and E'beth will be in the wedding,  and we are so excited. The entire week will be filled with fun celebrations and memories. We will be going to the Santa Barbara area for the ceremony overlooking the Pacific ocean and it will be wonderful! The bride and groom have thought of everything and have some interesting and innovative plans for their event. With permission, I share with you the following : 

The surprise proposal was during a stroll along a beautiful beach. Todd had planned an elaborate ruse in which Ashley found what looked like an ancient treasure map lying on the beach. After excitedly looking the map over, Ashley quickly came to the conclusion that the hidden treasure was only a few hundred yards away from the very spot they were standing! Increadulous, she quickly found the secret spot, and set Todd to hand shoveling the sand to dig up the hidden treasure. Minutes passed... then hours, and with the sunset fast approaching, Ashley began to lose hope... until BINGO! Todd finally hit something solid- a treasure chest! Amazed, she helped him brush the sand off the chest handles so that he could get a firm grip. 

Todd hauled the chest out of the ground and bent down on one knee, beads of sweat glistening red on his forehead from the setting sun, he opened the chest and reached deep into it to reveal it's mysterious contents - a ring! Of course! A beautiful wedding ring! Then, at the precise moment that the very first flicker of light danced upon the diamonds' surface, a 19 piece orchestra Todd had flown in from Vienna slipped out from behind a swath of trees playing Schubert's ninth concerto, as his three brothers simultaneously released a flock of rare Norwegian Ice Swans with the precision timing of a master swiss watch maker. As the swans made their majestic ascent, flying high above their heads, they cast graceful shadows in the sand like silhouettes of angels... and as the last shadow passed, and the final green glint of the slipping sunset danced for the briefest moment in her eyes, she looked deep into his...and she said "yes"!
Well, .... that's what they will tell their grandkids anyway.

Todd actually surprised Ashley by "popping the question" on a wonderful hike, high in the hills overlooking one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world. Shocked, and apparently at a loss for words, Ashley laughed for about 10 minutes before finally saying yes.
Todd and Ashley, Congrats! We are very excited for you both and are so honored to be a part of your special day! See you in the Spring!

 Now, I wonder if anyone knows where I can get some white boots like the ones above. :-)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The heart of a child

Our son John is learning to read and write. He has taken his new skills very seriously
and uses them all the time now. Many times throughout the day, he will write me
little love notes. I treasure every one of them and am incredibly grateful that he
has such a kind and loving spirit.

One day, we were out at our favorite garden center. John asked me to turn away and
not look at what he was doing until he called me. humm, OK. So when he led me over
and told me to open my eyes, I saw the heart he drew in the rocks for me.

Couldn't have asked for a more wonderful surprise. I often feel so inadequate in the
responsibility to help shepherd this precious child's heart. I'm watching him transition
from a little boy into a beautiful young man right before my eyes. Time is passing so

Monday, February 11, 2008

Saving the kiss

E'beth sweetheart, you might run into lots of these before you find your prince.
Happy Valentines Day.
Love, Mommy

Sunday, February 10, 2008

. a sister

Remembering when my Mom and Dad were expecting my sister (I was 3 at the time).. I was deeply concerned that every time my Mother went to the bathroom, we would all see the new baby frolicking around in the toilet bowl when she was finished ;)..

I am so thankful to have someone that is always there, understands all family situations, is with me spiritually in wanting a Christ centered home, and whom I look to for much wisdom in raising our two children. My sister has 4 children, home schooled them for many years and generally is an all around 'I want to be like her' person.

Chris, you are an amazing mother, wife, sister and daughter. My love and respect for you grows deeper and deeper with each passing year.

Happy Birthday.
I love you.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Chinese New Year Resolutions

**Click on the image above**

The personal trainer.

She's motivated and a slave driver.


Happy Chinese New Year from our family to yours.
This is Elizabeth just a few weeks after we returned from China.
Scroll down to see her now ;)

Special Chinese robes

John and E'beth LOVE these robes and wear them every chance they get. These were a gift to them from friends who recently returned from China.

The most beautiful princess in all the land

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

See the bird lurking behind this woman?

When she got up to get her coffee refill, the bird flew over to her plate and began to eat her lunch. We tried to tell her about it, but she kept on eating... Perhaps it would make a great Dial Soap commercial ... "You're not as clean as you think you are"


Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Simple Gifts

It's often the most basic things we overlook in our busy lives..

Monday, February 4, 2008

Where we left off

My intentions have been far greater than my actions since returning from China. I've intended to send Christmas cards each year, a 'We've Moved' and new address card to our family and friends, and lots of personal notes. Obviously that never happened and so perhaps it will be easier to keep up here.

So,"here" we are.