Thursday, October 29, 2009

Maddie Reappears on the Blog!!!


Bet all of you thought I had forgotten all about my oldest Princess... Take notice all you Maddie fans!! She's here!

Maddie and two of her girlfriends attended a concert by Justin Bieber this afternoon. Apparently, Justin Bieber is Canadian, he's 15 years old, and has a hit single getting airplay on the Pop music circuit. The concert was held at the local Mall and sponsored by Microsoft (who just happened to be opening their new Microsoft Retail Store).

Maddie reports:
"He is soooo cute!", "He pointed at me during the concert!" and "He touched my hand!".

Mom replies:
"ugh"

Here's what it looked like for Maddie and the girls: (video clip at end of photos!)

















Here's the video:

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Josie's Halloween Ballet Class (UPDATED!)



Sorry for the terrible photo quality... I wasn't using my regular camera and I had flash issues. The songs the girls performed to were Elvis' "Devil in Disguise" and of course, Michael Jackson's "Thriller".


















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From Thursday's Ballet Class: Thriller Again!









Monday, October 26, 2009

Pumpkin 'Patch' 09


We finally made it to the pumpkin patch this weekend! I thought we would pick up our pumpkins when Josie's class visited a local mini-farm - but that event got rained out. That field trip is rescheduled for this coming Friday. That would leave us with just one day to carve all our pumpkins...not enough time!

I have to admit that it was a bit odd picking out our pumpkins while it was 82 degrees outside. We're used to bundling up with hats & coats for a hayride out to the pumpkin field, then pulling our pumpkins off the vine. It's different here, but we still managed to have some fun. Maddie wasn't with us so Josie picked out her pumpkin. (She's a very thoughtful little sister!)















On Saturday we set out to do a bit of local exploring. We followed the Ortega Highway through Cleveland National Park and ended up at Lake Elsinor. Lots of twists and turns on the highway - so James had a great time driving. I, on the other hand, spent most of the trip grasping the arm rest and covering my eyes! I am SUCH a bad passenger!







Should be a fun week coming up. We plan on carving one pumpkin each night, starting tonight. Hope all of your Halloween preparations are fun!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Aaahhhhhh..........



This past week, I spent some serious 'quality time' with my dear friends Jamie & Lori and my sister, Claudine. We took a 5 night cruise to the Western Caribbean. This outing was planned during our final days in Virginia. I just knew I wouldn't make it until Christmas without seeing my dear friends. It was also a combination birthday/"you did the move" present from my wonderful husband.

We all met Sunday evening in Fort Lauderdale. It was just so great to be with the girls again! We basically just hung out until my cousin, Brendan and his family came to our hotel for a quick visit. I haven't seen my cousin in over a decade - but I was so pleased to see how well we both look for our age :-) I also got a chance to meet my cousin-in-law Heather, who is just as beautiful as she appears in photos! Brendan is totally outnumbered in his home - wife and three daughters!! Aly, (who is 13) and younger sisters Kathleen and Jennifer are all just beauties! (Photos to follow - I forgot my camera and Claudine took all the photos) It was a great way to start off our trip.

The following (Monday) morning, we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast and headed over to the port to board our ship. It was the first time for Lori - who conquered her fear of flying AND leaving her family for the first time - in excellent style! Claudine is an experienced traveller as is Jamie - but I think it was Jamie's first time cruising too.



Our first stop, on Tuesday morning, was Key West. I hadn't been to the Keys since I was very young. I remembered very little of the island. We rented an electric, four seater car and cruised around the island. We made a stop for the tour of Ernest Hemingway's home. It was a very interesting tour. Lori, who is an expert on Hemingway, neglected to mention the 6-toed cats that roam freely - all descendants of Hemingway's original cat. I think there were over 40 in residence - which was a bit of a problem because I am SEVERELY allergic to them. Also, the folks there at the museum don't actually clean up after the cats, so it smelled a bit 'funky' on the grounds. Didn't stop us from enjoying a great little visit though.



It was a short visit, as the ship was leaving midday - heading for our next stop in Cozumel. Monday evening on the ship was really fun. We found out that Jamie is our closet 'superstaaaa' - at least when it comes to karaoke. She also designated herself as 'Julie - your cruise director'. She carried around the ships 'list of events' in her back pocket and was determined not to miss a thing!


Here, Lori helps Jamie pick out her song.


Here's our Jamie gettin' her groove on singing "Girlfriend" by Avril Lavigne. She was joined by 'Kathy' from NC.

Lori did her walk on the wild side by getting an airbrushed tattoo of a child's handprint on her ankle. After two days of soaking in the pool, it soon resembled a 'bear claw'. Wondering how to explain why she would have a bear claw on her ankle, Lori took Jamie's suggestion of just stating it was her favorite pastry :-)



Our evening meals in the dining room were a blast - aided by our dining partners. We were thrilled to have Heather and Chris - newlyweds from Tennessee - share our table. Every evening was a two hour funfest - lots of laughing and joking and sharing the day's adventures. Heather and Chris really added a lot of fun and fond memories to our trip. We intend to keep up with them and see how married life is treating them!



On Wednesday we split up in Cozumel. Jamie and I signed on for the excursion to Tulum to visit the ruins of the Mayan civilization. Claudine and Lori opted for the beach break - beach, drinks, and little else. JUST what they were looking for...!
It was hot - like Africa hot - walking the ruins.


Our arrival spot - Playa del Carmen






Lots of Iguanas roamed the grounds.





After 45 minutes, Jamie and I headed for the air conditioned bar/restaurant/handicraft store just outside of the archaeological site. We were the only people in the place - which by the way served the coldest and most awesome Corona I have EVER had! Jamie's beer had ice form on the top when it was poured! The perfect remedy for two girls who were just about to melt away.

Since we were the only people in the shop - the staff had a bit of fun with us. When we asked the bartender to take a photo of the two of us he and other waiters pulled out props and set us up for the photos:



We did get about 40 minutes to 'power shop' in Playa del Carmen. I picked up some beautiful plates and colorful wall planters for our new home. Of course, presents for all the kids and some jewelry for us! Here's Jamie with our haul:



On Thursday, we visited Belize. This was the stop that we all enjoyed the most. We had booked a snorkeling/beach break excursion which we were all looking forward to. We window shopped a bit in Belize City before departing for our trip out to a small, uninhabited island off the coast.





We absolutely loved everything about Belize! The people of Belize were so warm and welcoming. The island isn't overly developed and everyone took great pride in sharing the beauty of their nation. We loved the white beaches, turquoise blue waters and refreshing sea breezes.






Claudine, Jamie and Lori reluctantly leaving our little island...

While shopping in Belize City I ran into a vendor who looked just like Flava Flav from the TV show "Flavor of Love". Maddie and I used to have a great time watching this train-wreck of a show. When I saw this guy I said to him, "I can't possibly be the first person to tell you that you look just like Flava Flav!" He said "No, I have heard that before." If you ask me, this gentleman is missing a huge moneymaking opportunity. Just hang a big clock around his neck, put some gold in his grill and charge tourists a buck a photo... Too Funny!! Here's he is:



After our day in Belize we were all just exhausted! Friday was a day at sea. We all spent the day in different ways. We all started out at the pool. Jamie and I left to attend the art auction at 1:30. Claudine scheduled a massage for later in the day and Lori enjoyed a few uninterrupted hours of sun, pool and a good book. (A rarity for all of us with 4 year olds at home!)

The end came too soon. We all headed off the ship and directly to the airport on Saturday morning. Jamie and Lori returned to Virginia; Claudine to Maryland; and me to Los Angeles via Dallas. James and the girls were waiting for me and I got some serious hugs and kisses from the all. I am so happy to be home with my family! I am also looking forward to making this trip a yearly event. We'll see if we can make it happen!!