Monday, April 29, 2013

Dominican Republic in a Nutshell

Recently, Jeff and I were able to spend one whole, lovely week in the Dominican Republic. Many of our recent vacations have been full to the brim with activities and sightseeing.They have been so jam-packed that we often feel like we are in need of a vacation when we get home. Does that make sense? This time we deliberately decided to s-l-o-w down. This is not easy for yours truly. I literally have to tell myself that this is actually "the Plan"--to not have a plan. There were a few occasions when I had to force myself to sit, pick up a book, and admit to myself (and to Jeff) that doing absolutely nothing is exactly what we needed to be doing right then. You know what? It really was too! I had been going non-stop for months and this one little week was so refreshing. It really was exactly what we needed at this time in our lives. 
I usually don't post pictures of our rooms but I can't help making an exception in this case. For some crazy, unexplained reason we were upgraded to an "elite suite." This room was Incredible! We had a huge bedroom with loft ceilings, private balcony, flatscreen, couch, dual shower with separate deep jacuzzi tub. Then we had a full living room/dining room, flatscreen/dvd, balcony, and separate bathroom. Typically we aren't actually in our hotel that much and so we would not have appreciated it as much but this time, we opted to stay on property the whole time and really just relax so this room was the perfect surprise for us.   

Another bonus that comes with being upgraded to the Elite Suite was the Super Deluxe golf cart that we were able to drive. We called it "the Limo." We stayed at the Casa De Campo Resort which is a huge resort with thousands of acres devoted to different aspects of the resort. Each guest is given a golf cart to drive all over the resort with. Most of these only go up to about 14 mph--our bad boy would kick it all the way up to 28 mph. Yeah baby!

We took advantage of the horseback riding inclusion. Poor Maria, (Jeff's horse) seemed to be looking over her shoulder, wondering how many riders she was actually carrying. My little horse couldn't quite make up his mind whether or not he wanted to lag behind or take off for the front. We rode through the Dominican Jungle, past the polo fields and past some of the prettiest houses you've ever seen. You can tell how humid it was by the smudge mark on the camera. Yes, my friends, that is humidity. I didn't realize that it was like that until after the ride--hence every one of the earlier pictures has this same smudge mark. Coming from Northern Idaho it took a little getting used to.
There is a rather large river that runs into the ocean just at the edge of the resort. Some enterprising soul built a very quaint, faux, roman village up on top of the escarpment overlooking that river. It was complete with amphitheater, church, fountains and everything. I was so beautiful and fun. We went up one night for dinner. We deliberately timed it just so that we could be there at sunset. It was well worth it. The views were pretty spectacular. We ate outside on the terrace overlooking the river and listened to the musicians as they serenaded us with Italian songs.  (sigh)

Just outside the amphitheater at Altos De Chavon
I think this might be my favorite picture from the week. We were having dinner on the beach one night with our group and I stole away for a few minutes just so I could try to capture this beautiful sunset. This one hasn't even been edited yet. I sure do love the peacefulness of the beach at sunset.

Can you see why this might be my favorite resort ever? They had a huge trap/skeet range available for guests. I'm sorry to have to admit that Jeff kicked my butt. My dad would be so disappointed. We sure had a lot of fun though. Although with Ammo at $30 per box, it makes me really glad that I can shoot at home for a third of that. Shooting here gave us itchy trigger fingers. We are hoping to enjoy it way more often at home this spring/summer.

Have you ever actually played tennis with a real ball-boy? No, your kids do not count.
We played tennis a couple different times. We started out just playing the two of us and then after a while the ball boy came and asked if we wanted him to help. At $5 per hour and the aforementioned humidity, it was the best use of $5 we spent all week. Besides, he was the cutest little guy and had the biggest and most wonderful smile ever. His name was Edmundo. Did I mention how adorable he was? He didn't even complain once when one of us would send the ball sailing over the fence into the jungle and he would have to huff it on over there after it.

We actually played doubles with each of us getting the services of one of the resort pros to help. They were so patient and fun. They didn't know a whole lot of English but we had fun with our smattering of spanish. They taught us a lot and we actually improved quite a bit. (Thank goodness for Edmundo's sake.) Juan played with us two days and we also played with a guy whose arm was deformed. His had came off of his elbow. He's actually standing so that his arm is hidden behind Edmundo so you can't tell. He has been playing here at the resort since he was a boy though. It just goes to show that you can always find something that you can be good at--no matter the deformity.

We decided not to play any of the golf courses. Since we don't actually play all that much it would have been a total waste. However, we did take "the limo" for a fun little drive all over the course, checking out some of the holes and oogling all of the gorgeous houses all over. This particular course is called the "Teeth of the Dog" and I am assured that yes, in fact, this Dog definitely had a bite to it. As these pictures can partially attest to. At one point we watched a poor caddy actually wade into the ocean up to his knees in order to get one shanked ball. I hope his tip was good.

The Beach at night

I think this picture turned out fun. There you go--we may not be the cutest couple in the bunch but we are best friends! I love him and he loves me. Besides--at least we make the cutest kids!

We took this picture up at Altos De Chavon overlooking the 18th hole of the Dye Fore Golf course. Instead of running along the ocean, this one runs along the top of the river escarpment. It is just breathtaking. We were mesmerized just sitting and taking it all in. It is so hard to not ponder things in a setting like this. Actually we did a lot of pondering on this trip. It just seemed to be very conducive to figuring out where we are going as a family (spiritually) and re-prioritizing  our family comings and goings. Not to mention being able to discuss each of the kids and how they are progressing in the different aspects of their lives. 

I just thought this was a cool picture--almost like capturing God inside the burning bush. The river was just down below, out of frame.

I couldn't resist...I NEVER take baths--But they had this amazingly, wonderful jacuzzi tub complete with the most luxurious bubble bath I've ever experienced. I promised myself that I was not leaving that island without taking a bubble bath. So on the last morning before we headed out to the airport and back to reality, I indulged in just a little bit of pure bliss. Seriously, the bubbles were three feet thick.

One of my favorite mornings was the day I got up early to go for a run and was able to catch the early morning sunrise as it played across the empty golf course and shoreline. It was so beautiful. Why is it that I find it so much more enjoyable to run when I'm on vacation? 

Jeff and I went snorkeling one day. There were a few fish just off the beach but it certainly wasn't Kapalua. We did find a huge tuna who swam up to check us out. He was probably about 3-4 feet. As I was following him around, I realized that I was suddenly in a pretty decent current--whereas before it had been perfectly calm. I looked up to see where I was and realized that I had been sucked out through the boat channel, out past the break water. Not panicking yet, I thought to myself, "hmmm, I'd better swim back. It's a pretty strong current right here." So I started swimming, only to find that I wasn't actually going anywhere. Still not panicking but thinking to myself, "self, this isn't good. Now what?" I figured that I might not be able to make it back through the breakwater but I could make it over the breakwater. So I swam to the rocks and ended up having to climb over the top of them while the waves broke on top of me. It wasn't too bad except that I scraped my hands up a little bit and ended up with some rocks and stuff embedded in my hands. Those little suckers were hard to get out. There were two that I couldn't see real well and couldn't quite get out until last night (3 weeks later) When I finally was successful at getting them out I figured out why they had hurt so bad--they were huge--both like little thorns an 1/8 of an inch long.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Why Blog?

Why blog? What is the purpose? It seems that I haven't blogged in ages. I have wondered why I just couldn't find the time to do it this last year or so when I used to be so excited about it and really enjoyed doing it.

I have decided that I lacked purpose. At first my purpose seemed to be detailing the everyday adventures and misadventures that we had in our family. I wanted to remember those little details for myself and for my children. I also wanted it to be a link between my family and our relatives who live far away. But then I found myself drawn over and over to the number of visitors that came to the blog. If no one left comments I would immediately think to myself, "self, you must not be very interesting. No one wants to hear what you have to say." or maybe I would say, "self, I don't even think your mom cares what your child said or did." or I might even say something like, "self, Why put yourself out there--you'll probably just offend someone." All of these thoughts plus about a hundred more would float in and out of my mind. I ran through the possibilities of countless posts in my brain only to discard each and every one of them for one reason or another.

It seems that what I thought was my original purpose (documenting the comings and goings of my own family) weren't the most important thing to me after all. Otherwise I probably wouldn't care so much about what anyone else thought. So...What is my purpose then? What is it that IS important to me?

I have decided that blogging is a way to mold opinions. We are sending forth the strength of our opinion in order to influence the opinion of someone else. Whether we are encouraging someone to try a new recipe, read a book that we liked or vote for a particular candidate, the posts that we feel strongly enough to blog about are there, in purpose, to influence someone else's ideas, thoughts and actions in some tangible way. That is why the comments, or lack of comments bothered me so much--I'm not influencing anyone. Or at least that is how it feels since you see no tangible proof in the land of cyberspace that anyone is "hearing' you.

If then, my desire is to influence opinions, or at least to participate in the process, and give voice to one man's (or woman's) thoughts, for the reflection of someone else, what are the ideas and topics that mean the most to me? What are the subjects that are the most important to me? What do I feel strongly enough about to attempt writing something that will inspire another person to some sort of further action? Those are the things that I should be writing about. That is what gives a blog passion. That is what gives a blog purpose.

I'd like to introduce to you a brand new blog. I hope that you will visit it often and that you will find pearls of wisdom that will INSPIRE YOU TO ACTION.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

YOU have 2 assignments for ME

I Can't Choose!

Jeff has undergone a major overhaul of his office. The mall owner wanted his space to accomodate a new business that wanted to move into the mall. So Jeff moved his business across the hall to a corner spot and added a some extra room into the deal making it possible to build a conference room. We moved into the space last Monday and it turned out really well. The builder did a great job and I'm pretty pleased with our results. We still have some decorative stuff to work out but living in a small town makes that a little challenging sometimes. Hopefully the next trip to Seattle will help us pick up some of those minor details that we seem to be missing.
In the meantime, I thought I'd take advantage of the timing and change up all of Jeff's family pictures and personals. I took a whole bunch of D the other day and I love how they turned out. I just can't choose which one to put in the office. So ASSIGNMENT #1 is that you get to help me decide. Please leave a comment letting me know which one is your favorite.
I'm still working on the other kids. I'll show some of theirs later.
I have been contemplating putting something vinyl on the wall in his personal office as well. I know that the choices are limitless so, ASSIGNMENT #2 is to leave a comment letting me know about any sayings or quotes that you think would work well in a business/professional setting particularly for his line of work.
There! Now hop to it! Get to work! Let me know what you come up with! :)
Picture #1
Picture #2
Picture #3
Picture #4
and finally Picture #5

I think that #2 is my personal favorite. That's the one that I'm leaning towards. Isn't he such a handsome little man? He's growing up fast, that's for sure. I guess they all do.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Unfulfilled Expectations vs Lofty Goals

I am the ultimate example of unfulfilled expectations. While I was growing up, gaining wisdom and experiencing the things that would ultimately shape my own vision of my life, I had such high expectations for myself. I was going to conquer the world, not so much the peoples of the world but literally the world itself. I wanted to climb the Jungfrau,
kayak the Perth River
and trek to the South Pole. I wanted to dive the Great Barrier Reef,
Hike up to Machu Pichu and Heli-Ski Cordova, AK.

I wanted to squeeze every last drop out of this earthly experience--all before I got married.
I guess I did sort of want to conquer the peoples of the world too--in a way. I wanted to serve a mission and teach them about Jesus Christ. I wanted to convert them ALL. I wanted to do this because I really do believe in it and I hope that other people can come to this same knowledge. I also wanted to save the world from their own stupidity--their own political nightmares that they have chosen for themselves through ignorant choices and lack of sound understanding. I wanted to show them a better way; A way that would allow them so much more freedom to be who they want to be and do what they want to do. Lofty goals? Hubris of the young? Naivete? Or all of the above?

Maybe somewhere along the road I woke up and realized that this wasn't the plan that my Heavenly Father had for me. I had other, albeit more mundane things to accomplish.

The only problem is...

I still want to do these things!!!

I realize however that this will never happen, probably none of them.

Maybe this is why I push my kids. You see, I KNOW what kind of potential they hold. I know that there really is no mountain too high or job too big for them to accomplish. They simply need to be inspired---and prepared for ANY road that they might find themselves on. I never want them to be afraid to reach out and grasp their dream. I never want them to give up on something that is truly important to them. I also push them to be spiritually prepared, so that they will know and recognize what the TRULY important things to reach for are. I realize of course that this requires a fine balance to be struck. Too much pushing results in the all-to-familiar digging in of the heels while too little pushing results in the enabling, lazy, lounge-about who accomplishes zero goals because they don't even bother to set any. Hmmmm, it is quite the dilemma.

I guess when all is said and done I would rather error on the side of too much! How does the old saying go? "Reach for the Moon and even if you miss, you may land among the stars. I may not have done all of the things that I wanted to but I have climbed the Great Wall of China and I have stared over the edge of the Cliffs of Moher and I do hope that someday Jeff and I will be able to serve that mission together. Robert Browning once said, "Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp--or what's a heaven for?"

So, my endearing (or is that enduring?) kids---It's back to the books for you! You have moons to reach for and mountains to climb--and all of my unfulfilled expectations to accomplish so that I can live vicariously through you.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Stony paths--Strong Shoes

The old Irish proverb says:

If God sends you down a stony path,
may he give you strong shoes.

Life rolls along pretty calmly for the most part. Most of the time we try to avoid the challenges that are in the middle of the road. But there are times when you can't, and must therefore put on your "strong shoes" and just plow through.
We wear our own shoes out. We haven't placed enough rubber into the "souls". That is when the extra layers are added onto our "souls" by Someone who has tread this road before and who knows what those rocks feel like.
The rocks never go away...

They simply become a part of you. They help to shape who you will eventually become. They become a part of your soul.

Eventually when you have reached the end of that stony road, you can look back and see how far you have come.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Random Summer Sampler

There are just so many things wrong with this I can't decide what to list first. I guess with two older sisters and an older brother who is just so happy that he's not the littlest anymore, things like this are bound to happen. Let's just say that I'm pretty sure that THIS little boy will not be having the typical wedding-photo montage. There is just TOO much ammo like this to go around. I'm afraid he'll be warped forever.
P.S. Shhh! Don't tell Jeff--This will be too much for his poor manly sentimentalities. They might just have to take away his "Man-card" just for having a son be subjected to this by his over-zealous sisters.
Lest we be too hard on those said sisters, I walked into their room the other night to find this. Raise your hand if you've ever been guilty of the same thing. Osmosis?
When my amazing sister was here while Jeff and I were in Ireland, she painted the kids rooms. She gave them their choice of whatever they wanted to paint. Each of them helped with their own rooms. Andrew was super excited about his Space-Cosmos room. It takes up two of his walls and part of the ceiling where Jupiter overlaps. It turned out pretty fun. The glow-in-the-dark painted stars are an extra-fun bonus. I still need to add a couple coats of that to make them really pop. They are pretty faint still. But, Andrew loves it. That's the important thing. I'm hoping to finish it off with some vinyl decals on the dresser that we found and repainted. Then redo his comforter and wahlah--happy six-year old.
Here's Addy's girly-girl pegasus. Since we still had the wallpaper up in the girls room that they are sharing now. Heidi did these downstairs in what is now the family room. We have plans to eventually add two rooms down here so that all of the kids can have their own rooms. Hopefully that will happen before she turns 14 or else the theme Addy chose might not be quite so exciting to her.
Kaylee opted for the English country cottage and the fairies. She loves it---I'm just not sure for how long. Hopefully for my sisters sake, a very long time. Isn't my sister awesome! Oh, if only I had half the talent that she has!
We spent a fun day on the water at Heyburn. Since we missed most of the summer last year it took a bit to get the kids broken in again on the tube. They were a little wimpy, I must say. On the flipside, Kaylee was super close to getting up on skis. She tried a few times and is so close but couldn't quite make it. A new prop on the boat for next year and we'll have her up and running in no time.
Ky-Ky may not have wanted to ride the tube but he sure had fun eating those cherries--pits and all. Sure-fire way to add a little ruffage to your child's diet.
One of the funnest days this summer was our trip to Silverwood. The kids earned tickets from a reading club this past year and Jeff and I found some deals on Craigslist. We had a blast--so much fun that I hardly took any pictures at all. This adorable one of my babes will have to suffice. The kids and Jeff had a rolicking good time in the wave pool while Ky napped and then waded and jumped a few little waves. We all decided that our favorite ride was Tremors. Of course the kids stepped off that ride white-knuckled and almost spitting-mad at their parents for taking them on it and vowed that they would not be going on any of the other big coasters. They hated it as soon as we were off of it until the end of the night. Then finally after a good nights sleep, Kaylee was overheard telling her brother, "I think Tremors was the best ride-don't you? We're gonna have to go on that again next year. It was fun!" Talk about revisionist history!
The girls joined 4H this year and really loved learning some new things. These were two of the skirts that they made this year. The projects were great but I swear the paperwork for the fair and stuff just about killed me. Don't you think they did a great job though.
The glare on Addy's picture does not do the skirt justice. It turned out super-cute. It is a wrap-around skirt with a ribbon waistline. I didn't have enough fabric on hand for the skirt so we pieced it into stripes. It was a lot more work for my girl but it sure turned out cute in the end.