Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving Week

I enlisted the kid's help in writing about our week.

Most of the family on my dad's side of the family came down for Thanksgiving.  After lunch some of us went downstairs and played the Wii.  On Friday we headed up north to visit my mom's family.  We ate leftovers and had a lot of fun! This Monday I'll be trying out for my school musical Beauty and the Beast.  It's going to be great.

Thanksgiving was wonderful, the food was good, the company was good! It was also nice to have Allen, Becky, Matt and Jon staying with us. It was also nice to see some more relatives on Friday. I've been working hard lately in choir getting ready for our Carols and Confections concert which is coming up really soon.

One of my favorite things about Thanksgiving is left overs and luckily we have a lot but it kind of messes with my brain to eat turkey when I am surrounded by Christmas decorations! On Friday we went to my aunt's house, and we got to see my uncle and cousins and grandparents, too. We had a great time. On Monday wrestling starts back up after a week of break.  The coaches are going to work us hard, and I am going to regret eating so much.

Like the kids said, Jon and Matt came up for Thanksgiving.  Ir was so nice to see them!  We saw Matt's English teacher at a restaurant one night and he said Matt is doing well.  Jon has a job in the mail room and seems to like it pretty good.  We got to talk to Cassandra and Emerson and Lily on Thanksgiving day.  We talked on Skype which of course means that we got to see them as well as talk to them.  It was so fun to see little Lily.  She is almost four months old now and as cute as can be!  They are all doing well and went to some friends' house for Thanksgiving.

Brian outdid himself this week, first on Thursday when he cooked the turkey, dressing, and potatoes to perfection and again on Saturday when he decked out our house in holiday lights.  Our home has never looked so festive!

Sunday School

Brian teaches the 15 year olds in Sunday school, but last Sunday, he left church early because he was feeling sick, so who got to teach his class?  You guessed  I didn't want to prepare the lesson during Sacrament meeting, so when it got over, I made a copy of the lesson material.  When I got to class, there were 4 of us, me and 3 young people.  I didn't feel real happy to be there giving a lesson I hadn't prepared, but we had a prayer, and I said my own prayer in my heart that I would be filled with love for these young people and that we would be taught by the Spirit.  I cut out 3 parts of the lesson and passed them out to the class, explaining that they would be teaching that day.  After five or ten minutes of quiet study, we were ready to begin.  The lesson was about sacrificing what we want in order to do God's will.  It was filled with stories about the life of a former prophet of our church, President Ezra Taft Benson, who lived a life of sacrifice for the Lord.  I directed the lesson, but the youth taught it and they did a wonderful job.  They took the assignment seriously, relating the stories in their own words and asking meaningful questions. I felt my heart swell with love for them.  By the end of the lesson, the room was filled with the Spirit.  I told them I had prayed that I would feel the Holy Ghost that day, and thanks to their lesson, I did.  I feel very grateful to Heavenly Father for answering prayers and attending our class that day.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A HUGE Thank You

Thanks, Dad and Mom for watching the kids for us when we were gone!  On the cruise we had no cell coverage, and no internet, but we weren't worried a bit because we knew the kids were getting the best of care.  When we got home, it was so nice to see your still-smiling faces and hear your positive reports of the week.  We know it was a big sacrifice to come up for 10 days, but you were still so willing to do it!  Thanks for you constant love and support.
--Brian and Marci

The Lovey Dovey Stuff

It was a wonderful anniversary for both of us.  We loved being together and enjoying each other’s company.  It was nice to leave the stress and schedule behind and spend some quality time with my very best  friend, my lover, and my eternal companion, Brian.  He was so sweet the whole trip, he didn’t get mad when I knocked his glasses into the abyss on the Indiana Jones ride.  When I was a whiny baby after one particular afternoon nap, he went and got me chocolate to boost my spirits.  He kept track of where we needed to go and when we needed to be there so that I didn’t have to bother with such dull details (he knows me very well).  And as always, he was very strong and handsome.  
Now in Brian’s words, “Marci always looked stunningly beautiful, had a smile on her face, was very affectionate, adventurous, and fun to be around.  She made the trip worth while. 

On the Way Home

On the road home--We woke up early this morning, dressed, packed, and got in line to disembark.  Leaving LA, we saw the Hollywood sign for the first time and also downtown LA which was cool.  We read a chapter from  the prophet, Thomas S Monson’s biography.

We also talked to the kids, first Jon, then Matt who was sleeping when we called so we hung up to let him sleep longer.  When the kids got home from church, we talked to them and my parents.  Everyone seems to be in pretty good spirits and they all wanted to know what we got them except Matt who is not that way.  Later we talked to Cassandra and told her we both bought presents for Lily, and that I got Lily something to wear and Brian got her something to snuggle.
Okay, so this is not a picture of me on the phone in the car, but I AM on the phone, so it will have to do.

Now we are about forty five minutes away from home and we can’t wait to get there.


The second day in Cabo.  I’m going to let Brian describe our next experience, and his personal favorite, in his own words.  
“First off, we had to be at the Wavebands lounge at 6:45 am.  So we missed breakfast and fireworks and dessert the night before. 
I was worried that I wouldn’t do very well at scuba diving.  I was also worried that we’d have some sexy Mexican hunk with his hands all over Marci or that it would be some el cheapo scary boat or bad equipment.  Boy was I wrong!  We went into a modern facility where we got first rate wet suits and scuba gear.  

Our instructors looked more European than Mexican.  Our instructor, Roberto, reminded me of an old friend and he actually enjoyed talking to me.  We got on a boat that could have held a lot of people, but there were only 8 of us.  As we were going to our dive sight, we learned the basics about breathing, hand signals, how to clear our regulators if they came out of our mouths, and clear our masks.  To get into the water, we just stepped off the back of the boat, and as we were bobbing around, we got more familiar with our gear.  Next we went down twelve feet and practiced some more.  

The other couple was having problems with their ears which slowed us down.  Marci and I did really well and then we went down to forty two or forty three feet and enjoyed seeing the fish and wild life.  It was stunning and surreal to be so deep for so long.  

Marci forgot and held her breath for a second on the way back and that made her feel kind of sick.  
Marci:  That's why I look a bit green around the gills in this pict!

Back to Brian:  "I felt great and did the best of anyone in my group which was cool.  I think my military training helped me do well.  I think it is one of the coolest things I have ever done.  It’s funny that the thing I was most reluctant and nervous to do and most concerned about was the one I enjoyed the most.  My second was the snorkeling which I also thought might not go well, but went great.  

Once we were back, the building also had a large aquarium tank for their dolphin encounter adventure.   We got to see a dolphin through the glass on the lower level.  Afterwards, why I don’t know, but Marci wanted to go to the mall so we walked to the mall which was like a very fancy mall in the US, and it was okay, but the walk back was a little bit long especially since I hadn’t eaten lunch or breakfast and was ready to do both.  We were kind of wimps and didn’t eat in Mexico.  I joked that we ate in the best restaurant in Cabo which was the beach blanket cafĂ© back on ship.”  

Thank you very much, Brian.  Now back to me, Marci.  I just wanted to say that the dolphin came right down to our eye level and looked at us as if to say, “hi.”  I wanted to got to the mall because I was desperate to find something to buy form Matt.  As soon as we got there, though, I realized that Brian was right and there would be nothing there that Matt would want.  I didn’t want to buy Matt some useless thing when he needs so much.  I told Brian how I felt, and he suggested that he would appreciate money more than anything, so we decided that Matt’s gift would be a deposit into his account when we get home.  

Shopping in Cabo and San Jose

The next two days we were anchored in Cabo San Lucas bay.  There was no pier, so we had to take tender boats ashore.   The first day we shopped till we dropped, first in Cabo and then in San Jose, a town on the eastern side on the Baja peninsula. 

 Our San Jose trip was a paid tour and our  tour guide was very knowledgeable about the geography and history of the area and we learned a lot on the bus ride there and back.  In San Jose we visited a Catholic church and got to see a bride!

Brian bought a nice platter and a rock egg to add to Thomas’s collection.  We also bought Jon a little hand made canoe with incense and little shell candles.  For Katrina we bought a mini Mexican tea set and for Miriam we bought a cow nativity.  Don’t ask me to describe that one.  Okay, okay, you lift up the cow from it’s base, and inside is a little tiny nativity.  Weird.  We toured a church also.  We learned from our tour guide that the area’s artesian wells are running dry and they only get to have fresh running water once a week.  I can’t even imagine that!  This information helped us to feel better about getting fleeced by the vendors.  I guess.  Also that day while we were in Cabo, we bought a dress for Lily.  There were many dresses for sale, but I wanted one that was hand made, not the made in China dresses I saw hanging in every store.  Finally we found a man who had some dresses his wife and mother crocheted.  They were different than any of the other dresses we’d seen, and we bought one.  It’s so cute!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


After snorkeling and eating lunch, we docked at Yelapa, a tiny town nestled on hills surrounded by tropical splendor.  Yelapa is only accessible by boat and is very poor.  We climbed the winding streets, and peered at the houses with their doorless doorways and glassless windows. 

Behind the houses was a beautiful stream winding down the mountain with gorgeous trees and bushes drinking from it.  The people may have been poor in money but they were rich in the beauties of nature.  

As we climbed the streets, the inhabitants of the city displayed their wares hoping we would buy something.  Sadly, Brian and I had no idea we would need cash and has brought very little, expecting to need most of it on our paid shopping excursion we had planned for the next day in Cabo San Lucas.  

When we arrived at the top of the street, a waterfall arose in misty splendor.  

We spent a wonderful time taking pictures and gazing at the falls.  When we got back to the beach we rested in the shade until it was time to board our catamaran for home.  

On the trip to the ship, the crew out did itself, providing wild and crazy entertainment.  After enjoying it for awhile, we went to the back of the boat to enjoy the scenery.  

What a wonderful experience—my very favorite of the entire vacation

Puerto Villarta

Puerto--When we disembarked in Puerto Villarta, our first port adventure, I was disappointed to look across the street and see Walmart and Sam’s Club.  We didn’t sail a thousand miles from home for that.  But our tour guide kept us moving down the street and soon we were on a catamaran at sea.

We sailed along the coast which was green, lush, tropical, and beautiful.  The ride was rough but that just made it more fun.  The crew stood on the bow singing and dancing for us and I was sure that any minute one of them would fall overboard, but they never did.

The most exciting that happened on that boat ride is when our tour guide announced that we had a whale ahead.  I was so excited.  There it was, waving its fin out of the water at us!  We sat watching its fin waving and occasionally seeing a bit of its back come out of the water.  Then our tour guide told us all to think hard in our minds to make the whale jump.  Within seconds after his suggestion, the whale jumped out of the water. That was its first and last jump, but it had jumped and we were elated.

After we passed the whale, and after some quick instructions, they stopped the boat and we got to jump off the back and go snorkeling.  Brian and I had so much fun holding hands and swimming around looking at schools of fish and reef and stuff.  We were very close to the beautiful shore and a sea cave that we wished we could explore, but it wasn’t worth the risk of getting dashed on the rocks by the waves to do it.  I did hit my knee on a rock but it didn’t hurt much even though it bled.

New Friends

We made some new friends while on board the wonder.  The people we sat with at dinner were delightful to laugh and visit with.  One couple was from Florida.  They had 2 grown children and were the only people at the table who drank at dinner.  They seemed quite well off and very refined and had been on a lot of cruises.  They were always dressed beautifully and were kind and gracious.  The other couple at the table were first time cruisers like us and were from California.  It wasn’t till the last night of the cruise that they ever mentioned having any children.  They have two adult kids, a boy and a girl, like the first couple.  The husband was quite talkative and the wife was more shy and often sea sick.  The last night she opened up and talked quite a bit about her kids.  The last two at our table were a lady and her seven year old daughter.  She was also very friendly and I found her particularly fun to talk to.  She was a bit of a mystery, however, because the only time she ever mention a husband, she referred to him not as her husband, but as the father of her daughter.  Then later she mentioned that she stays at home and hasn’t had to work for five years now.  Something she made me think that they didn’t live with her parents.  It all adds up to a mystery that will now never be solved since we will probably never see any of them again.  

One last friend that we made on board the wonder was our game playing buddy.  We teamed up with him first while playing Name That TV Theme Song.  He knew every song and we won the game and prizes which were ship journals.  The next time we teamed up with our buddy was at Name that Movie Quote where he once again knew almost all of them.  It was during this game that we found out he is a fireman and watches TV and movies at the fire house a lot.  Brian and I did know a few quotes that he did not—about 2 each, but our few contributions help push him over the top to victory.  This time we scored a baseball cap and a water bottle.  Fun stuff, Nice people.

Stormy Weather

On the way to the Mexican Riviera the weather was cold and story and the seas were rough.  On the way back, the weather was the same.  The stormy weather at sea made the beautiful weather of Mexico even more enjoyable.  Even though we had stormy seas so much of the time, we never got sea sick and we never even wore a patch or took any medication.  
We got to watch two movies while on board.  The Help we watched in the Buena Vista theatre and Toy Story 2 we watched outside on the forward funnel on a giant screen.  That was fun because we ate fruit and ice cream and drank soda while we watched it.  Did I mention the help-yourself ice cream machine?   I really enjoyed seeing Toy Story 2 again, but I didn’t like The Help as much as I’d hoped to.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Stateroom, Sweet Stateroom

Our little stateroom on the cruise was on deck five.  It was small but comfortable and we enjoyed quiet time just watching TV.  They had all these Disney movies on and also some specials like the one we enjoyed about the Sherman brothers.  At night the cleaning staff always folded a fun animal out of towels and left it on our bed with chocolate.  When it was bed time, the boat would rock us gently to sleep.

Activities and Exercise

During the day there were activities in which to participate.  Brian enjoyed listening to one of the Disney animators talk about his work on Disney movies and specials.  I enjoyed the time Brian and I played Jenga and listened to singers in the promenade lounge.

One of our very favorite things to do on board was to walk on deck and look at the ocean.  We enjoyed standing towards the bow to see the ocean.  When we were planning the cruise, I dreamed of standing on the deck with Brian and gazing out to sea like they do on the old movies, and it was every bit as enjoyable as I’d hoped.  Those old movies were made back before cruise ships had movies and pools I guess because very few people seemed to enjoy just looking out over the ocean.  Many stayed in the ship and when they did come out, it was to crowd around the pools in a mass of humanity.  Deck four was the walking deck and we would do laps around it trying to walk off a few of the calories that we put on during meals.  We also played shuffle board on deck four and that was fun too even though Brian won.  Also to burn off calories, we avoided using the elevators.  Climbing stairs up and down the ten decks to get everywhere we wanted to go gave us constant exercise.


After the food, my favorite part of the cruise was the evening Disney shows where they went all out to entertain us with Disney magic.  Disney characters, crew members, and dancers all performed in front of lavish sets under sparkling lights.  The music and stories were enchanting.   On two different nights, on the way back to LA, people got into fights over seating before the show.  We saw one fight and heard about the other.  I think people were getting a bit stir crazy at that point.   We would frequently see a child have a melt down, too.  Anyway, the shows were magnificent in every way.


The most important thing to talk about as far as the cruise ship goes, as far as I'm concerned is the food.  First, I will talk about the pizza because we had that our first day after breaking our fast.  It was delicious and always there waiting for us.  We took advantage of its convenience many times.  Next, comes the fancy food.  Every night that we wanted it, we were treated to a four course meal.   We would rotate between 3 different restaurants and ate with the same 6 other people each night and got to know them quite well.  There were two other couples and also a mom and her little girl.  We had our own special servers that rotated with us and got to know quickly our wants and needs.  Also, they were psychic.  Just kidding, but everyone at our table would joke that they were because they knew what we’d want before we’d ask for it.  The seafood was incredible, the soups were to die for.  In fact, Brian said he would give up his man card for the cold mango soup and the hot ginger carrot soup.  It’s a good thing that the portions of each course were small so that we didn’t over eat.  For breakfast and lunches we usually ate at the buffet which had tons of variety and delicious desserts although the desserts never were as good as the first time we ate there which is just as well since we definitely didn’t need more reason to eat.  We always ate our buffet out on the fantail for a magnificent view.

Embarking on the Wonder

The next day was fast Sunday.  Once a month on fast Sunday, members of the LDS church fast 2 meals or 24 hours.  Fasting helps us be closer to God, and we give the money we save from not eating to the church as fast offerings to feed the poor.  That morning, we woke up bright and early to go to church.  We attended the oldest LDS church building in Orange County and enjoyed hearing the members testify of Christ in their fast and testimony meeting.  After church we boarded the Disney wonder.  The first thing most folks did after we embarked was to get lunch at the buffet, but we were still fasting.  Instead we explored the ship, walking up and down each deck.  Since the Wonder has ten decks this kept us busy for quite awhile.  At the end of that wonderful first day, we went to bed in our little state room, happy to be on our big adventure.

Disneyland--The Beginning of our Great Adventure

On Thursday Nov 3 at 4:45 pm Brian and I kissed our kids, got in our car and headed to California.  Thus began our exciting anniversary extravaganza.  We actually planned on leaving at 3:00, but you know how it is getting out the door.  We stayed overnight in a Hampton Inn on the road and got driving again early Friday morning.  By noon, we were having a blast at Disneyland.  

We spent the rest of that Friday and all day Saturday at Disneyland and California Adventure.  It was cold and rainy, but I’d saved the day by insisting on buying rain ponchos before we entered the park..  Some highlight s of our time at Disneyland were seeing the world of color, which was wonderful, seeing the new Little Mermaid ride, seeing the re-made star tours.

  The worse  thing that happened to us in Disneyland was when we were in the Indiana Jones ride and I accidentally knocked Brian’s glasses off his face and they fell out of the vehicle.  They are now lost and gone forever.  I was so sad, I started to cry, because I knew that Brian would be miserable on our cruise without them.  I felt much better after he told me that he’d brought along his spare pair—He’d just had a feeling to bring them.  So, at one point, I had saved the day and at another point I had almost destroyed the entire vacation.  Whew! 
Anyway, we also got to see the “Nightmare BeforeChristmas” overlay at the Haunted Mansion which was really fun.  At Astro Blasters we saw a tribute to Elvis.  We enjoyed hearing the songs and watching people dance and have fun.  

The only real gift we bought at Disneyland was for our little grand baby, Lily.  Brian saw some stuffed baby Disney characters, each wrapped in its own little blankey and he wanted to buy one for Lily.  I thought baby Winnie the Pooh was the cutest and he did, too, so we bought it for her.  While were there they were filming the Christmas parade, but we didn’t pay much attention.  We were amazed that people would stand for hours and hours while the y shot and re-shot the scenes just for a chance to be on TV.  I decided that if I ever work for Disney, I want to be on the Story book Land ride so that I can tell stories to little kids all day long.  

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Happy Halloween

Katrina as Cleopatra
Thomas The Hobbit

Miriam The Marine Babe
Halloween fell on a Monday this year which means it was also Family Home Evening.  On Family Home Evenings we do everything together--even on Halloween.  Since we knew that Thomas would want to go trick-or-treating, that's what we all did.  We had a great time dressing up.  Well, I should say the kids did.  I knew I'd be way too exhausted after making all their costumes to make any for Brian and me and I was right!  It was a fun night.