Wednesday, October 29, 2008

More China Pictures

On Sunday night when we were in Utah, we did a "little" slide show of our cruise. (Only 500 of the 2300 pictures--so be grateful you weren't there. However, you did miss out on the best part--Allan's commentary ; ) For the slideshow, I wanted to include the things I knew Bev wanted to see, but thought they might enjoy seeing some of the pictures from the beginning of the trip when they were with us.

Here are a few pics of some of the things we saw on the trip:

Allan was so surprised that he could still get money from the ATM--guess I didn't spend as much as he thought!!!:

The evening we had flown to Xian to see the Terra Cotta Warriors, we had the opportunity to go to the Tang Dynasty Dinner Theatre--the food was delicious, the costumes and the sets were amazing.

I realize I didn't post about our rooms--we stayed at the Beijing Hotel in Beijing and The when we were in Xian. This is a picture of our room in Beijing. I have to tell you a funny story about our stay. (We haven't had a chance to ask Neal about this) The first night when we checked into our room, Allan put the key card in the slot and opened the door. I held the door while he tried to turn on the lights. NOTHING!!! He tried every light inside. I decided to go next door because I knew someone from our group was in the room and asked them how to turn on the lights. Apparently there is a slot inside the room where you put your key card in and it turns on all the lights. We both looked at each other and said, "Why didn't someone tell us that when we checked in????"

The room was very nice--yes, the bed is very low to the floor, but nice and comfy.

The day we visited the Great Wall, we also went to see the Big Wild Goose Pagoda which was built in like 650.

That day we also visited The Forbidden City. WOW!!! There was so much to see. This was The Hall of Supreme Harmony

I had to get a picture of the little decorations on the edge of the roofs. The number of statues is indicative of the importance of the building. A minor building might have 3 where a major one would have 9. The Hall of Supreme Harmony has 10!!!

And, of course, one of the highlights for us--CLIMBING THE GREAT WALL!!! There are some things that do not require translation--as we were climbing the Wall, and I was laughing because I was panting so hard, there were some Oriental women climbing with me who were laughing with me--at least I think they were laughing with me and not AT ME!!!

You know the world is such a small place: When we were on our land tour, one afternoon at lunch I sat next to a really fun lady. We just hit it off and had such a great time. A couple of days later as we were having breakfast, I learned she was from California. As we talked we realized we had grown up in the same area--just a couple of blocks from each other. Then learned she had graduated from the same high school the year after two of my older sisters. We could barely stop laughing when we realized we went roller skating on Friday nights at the same roller rink. I should have taken a picture--but I will not forget her and her friend because their names were Patty and Linda--the same as my two youngest sisters ; )

SIDENOTE #1: Here is a picture of my granddaughter-in-law, Scarlett, and my new great grandson, Xander. I can't wait to hold him!!!

SIDENOTE #2: I am so grateful we get to fall back on Saturday night--I'm still having trouble getting up for Seminary!!!

Monday, October 27, 2008

A Full Week

I’m heading back to Winnipeg after a week in Utah—well, we spent a couple of days in Reno first to attend Homer’s funeral…

The funeral was a beautiful reminder of Homer’s wonderful life. Each of his children spoke (except Homer’s daughter who is on a mission in New York). They shared such fantastic stories of this great man and had us all laughing and crying.

I wanted to mention just a little something that Neal's FIL said--when one of Homer's children mentioned how it didn't look like her dad lying there in the casket, Tom talked about how the eyes are the windows to the soul. When the spirit leaves the body, and you look into the person's eyes there is nothing there--it is a real reminder that all that is left is the body. I loved how at the funeral one of Homer's sons talked about looking at his dad's hands and remembering all the things those hands had done.

When we arrived at the cemetery the soldiers were already standing at attention and probably one of the most touching moments was the flag ceremony which included a presentation of the flag to Bev. My nephew, David, who is an amazing photographer captured a beautiful photo of Bev with two of her great grandchildren sitting on her lap with the flag.

Had a chance to visit with a few of our kids when we were in Reno and got to see this little guy.

Utah--I was grateful for the time we spent in Utah. As I mentioned in my previous post, Allan has such a calming influence and I know his being at Bev’s house helped a great deal. We shared great memories of Homer, had a lot of great meals together (including a breakfast where Bev made her first attempt to duplicate Homer’s delicious pancakes—and she did a pretty good job), and had an opportunity to go to the temple together. Bev is a strong woman.

While there we also had a chance to spend time with Heidi and Brent:

Heidi: Allan and I went to Heidi’s school and it was so fun to see her in action. She is a great teacher. She is missing her little missionary so I’m so glad she has her teaching to keep her busy. The day we went to her school I got to read a Halloween story to the kids—I loved it. Allan told them about Miss R when she was in Grade 1. The funny thing was when Miss R introduced Mr. R, the children all said they wanted to know her “real” name. She told them they had talked about this before and they needed to call her Miss R. Well, when her dad began his story he started, “When Heidi was a little girl”—the kids were SO EXCITED—they now knew her name ; )

When we went to the Book Fair with the kids, one of the little boys turned to me and said, “You are beautiful”. (I was feeling pretty good, until he added—“You have wrinkles like my grandma”.

Brent: He helped me do a little Christmas shopping. I love spending time with him. He is such a remarkable young man. He came down to Bev’s on Friday and we had the weekend together. He helped me put together a slide show of our cruise—including a lot of the end of the trip that Bev, my MIL, and SIL, Gerry, missed when they had to leave the ship. I finally had a chance to see the DVD Brent made of our trip to Hawaii—it was so fun.

Of course, we did have to go with him to Hires for hamburgers.

I'm looking forward to being back in a little less than 2 months to celebrate Christmas with them.

Sidenote: I tried to get touch base with UTMommy and TXMommy's mom, but only got to talk with her on the phone. We had a great chat Sunday afternoon, and after our conversation I was REALLY disappointed that we didn't have a chance to meet. She sounds like a wonderful woman and I am so excited to read all about her mission experiences.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

26 Years Ago Today...

No, it wasn't when I was born. (O.K. Stop laughing!!!)

Anyway, 26 years ago today, I was married.

I've thought a lot about what I would do--I could post 26 of my favorite pictures of my cute hubby. (I'm not home so don't have access to all my pictures, so decided instead to post 26 things I love about this sweet man (in no particular order):

1. He's a great dad. I don't think any woman could ask for a better example for her children--he is THE BEST!!!

2. He loves me--in spite of all my quirks, and bad habits. Whenever he goes out of town he writes me a love letter. I cherish each and every one of those letters.

3. I've really never seen him lose his patience--and believe me I could tell stories of times HE HAD A REASON TO LOSE IT!!!!
(When we celebrated his 60th birthday a couple of years ago, the kids told stories and there were a couple where everyone just shook their heads ; )

4. He has a great sense of humor and can make me laugh--even when I don't want to laugh.

5. He can read my mind--and quite often he has to use this skill.

6. He's a great cook--he makes better gravy than me. When the older kids were young they were not happy when he was not home to cook Sunday dinner and they had to eat my mashed potatoes and gravy.

7. He is extremely organized--sometimes it drives me a little crazy, but at the same time I am so grateful because he keeps everything very orderly.

8. He loves his mother--it touches my heart to watch how gentle he is with his mom.

9. He is the most positive person I know--when we are having struggles, you would never know it to watch him. He has such great faith and always reminds me that everything will work out. You usually always see him with a smile on his face. And doesn't he have the cutest smile ; )

10. He's just so cute.

11. He knows a lot about so many things.

12. People just seem to love him. In fact, every perfect strangers are drawn to him--when we were in China people would stop us and want to take a picture with us (I think it was because he's just so sweet) This is a picture of a young couple on the Great Wall who wanted their picture with him.

13. He has a great love for the Lord--he always wants to do that which would draw him closer to the Lord.

14. He is extremely patient with me--he puts up with so much.

15. He knows the scriptures--I learn so much from him. It is always so fun to have him help me with Seminary lessons.

16. He is a hard worker--he normally gets up at 4:30 a.m.

17. He is a great listener. I love it when our children call to talk to him on the phone--although I love talking to them, I know they get much better counsel when they talk to their dad.

18. He is very generous with others. He is always willing to help.

19. He loves to eat--even my cooking. He has been very good for my ego--he makes me feel like I know how to cook.

20. He is a great cook. In fact, he makes better gravy than me. When the older kids were young they were not happy when he was not home to cook Sunday dinner and they had to eat my mashed potatoes and gravy.

21. He treats me like a queen--actually he spoils me rotten.

22. He always wants his family to be happy.

23. He is a great speaker--he just gave a talk at my BIL's funeral. I don't think anyone could cover the Plan of Salvation so quickly and so completely.

24. He has a very calming influence.

25. He helps me to see things clearly--I can get very down and he helps me to remember the truths I need to remember.

26. There is NO ONE I would rather spend time with.


ADDENDUM: Since Neal pointed out that I had a duplicate (I guess that's what happens when you post at midnight after being up since 5 a.m.), I will add that he is willing to serve in the Church wherever he is called and he serves so faithfully. His current calling has him very busy, but he does a great job. Along with that, he has always done a great job in supporting me in my callings.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Some Highlights

I don't want to drag my whole vacation/cruise thing out for days (I really feel like I did that with Hawaii ; ) I'm going to try and write in this post about everything up until China--it may be a little long, so SORRY.

Sometimes it is so hard to imagine how big these cruise ships are getting. Our first cruise was on the original Pacific Princess--yes, that's the original one used in The Love Boat ; ) It had something like 650 passengers. The ship we were on this time (the Diamond) holds something like 2800 passengers. The length of this ship was 946 feet and it is 15 stories high (well considering there is no deck 13 not sure if it is actually 14 because you can even go higher than the 15th deck, but not by elevator ; ) The anchor weighs something like 15 tons!!!

I realize that while on the cruise the last time I was able to post pictures was when we were in Glacier Bay--believe me that was a ton of pictures ago ; ) (By the way, would anyone like to guess just HOW MANY pictures I took on this trip--counting all the ones that I will put in the trash???)

When we finished our cruising in Glacier Bay we went to College Fjords. It contains several glaciers that are named for colleges on the East Coast of the U.S.

From there we went to Kodiak, Alaska. I wanted you all to see the pictures of the crabpots--this is my SIL, Gerry, standing next to them so you can see how big they are!!!

Here's some information on the whole deadliest catch thing--well actually it's on crabbing in the frozen north. I love when they have these little displays and I always take pictures of them--it helps me to remember what I saw and what I learned.

When we left Kodiak, we started our 5 or 6 day adventure (and what an adventure) across the ocean. I have always loved sea days, but unfortunately didn't use my time wisely and wasted way too much time ; ( Allan and I did work on scripture mastery--tackling a new scripture every day. I didn't read as much as I should have or get as many seminary lessons done as I would have liked, but it was nice anyway.

On Sundays we were able to hold a little Church meeting. We usually find other members of the Church who join us, but we never came across one on this trip. We each took turns doing a lesson so we didn't get behind in Sunday School. (We also had a spiritual thought each night--I always love hearing my MIL's thoughts--she is an amazing woman. By the way, I was so touched by Amanda's post about the evidence all around that God really does exist--go here to read it.)

I already wrote about our time in Muroran, Japan. One of the things we did was share an ice cream cone. We were pretty excited because we actually got what we thought we ordered!!!! It tasted great.

When we were in these countries we were so surprised to see vending machines every where!!!

One of the things I got to do when we were at Lake Toyo was put my feet in the hot springs--such a fun thing to do. By the way, Lake Toyo was the site of the G-8 Summit in July 2008. (I just wanted to share with you some of what I learned ; )

The next day we were in Vladivostok, Russia, which I talked about in this post. I just wanted to share this picture of one of the soldiers--notice her shoes ; )

Then it was off to Pusan, South Korea. What an amazing city. We didn't do an organized tour but caught a shuttle bus and went to town--first stop: THE FISH MARKET. Just want to give you a little look at some of what we saw.

The women that worked in the fish market were amazing--so hard-working, doing everything.

I googled about this market and found that the women are the ones that basically began the fish market. What I read is that these married women who are called ajumas are very tough--they work doing the dirty work of cleaning and processing the seafood, while staying very devoted to their families. I assume their husbands are out on the boats doing the fishing ; )

This was an amazing port--very busy. When you are with a transportation guy, you always have to take pictures of container ships--but notice the city in the background. (I lost track of how many container ships there were ; )

From Pusan we headed to Kagoshima--where we had the wonderful experience with the children. We went to Iso Gardens which was created by a ruler in the 1600's. It was gorgeous.

Our next stop was in Dalian, China. I will write all about China in my next post.

Sidenote #1: I AM A GREAT GRANDMOTHER. My little great grandson, Zander, was born Wednesday morning. Mother and son are doing fine. I better get busy finishing his blanket--which is looking pretty good. (Notice my cute little bag that contains my crochet stuff--thanks NCS ; )

Sidenote #2: On Wednesday Allan flew to Toronto to pick up Kyle's car. I felt bad that he had to drive it on his own. Kyle was so glad to see his dad--well, maybe it was the car ; ) I guess you could say HE WAS JUMPING FOR JOY. I think he's now very happy he had his dishwasher job so he could save the money to pay for the car!!!

Sidenote #3: Al that "jumping" got Kyle ready for his volleyball game that afternoon, where I captured the perfect shot.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Food

I'm not quite sure how to do all my posts from the cruise, but I will figure it out and eventually get things together. I'm still trying to get caught up on my sleep!!! Not to mention trying to get back to teaching seminary and have Stake Conference this weekend.

I started this post while we were on the cruise, but since I couldn't post pictures just put it in my draft folder--sure hope I get the tenses correct when I post it.

I must have written this right after txmommy commented she had no desire to cruise now because I talked about the rough seas. They were rough, but I have never gotten sick. At night it's like being rocked to sleep. IT IS TOTALLY WORTH IT!!!

Now in case I haven't convinced you, let me try with some pictures of the wonderful food.

I so wanted to take a picture of my plate each night, but always remembered AFTER I Had EATEN!—and face it, all you’d see is an empty plate. And then I thought maybe I just don’t want you to see the evidence of how much I ate ; )

The food on this cruise was very good. We keep remembering the days when we used to eat so much more—if you can believe it, the first cruise we went on in 1986 to the South Pacific, a normal dinner would consist of the following:

Desserts—ususally two or three (and I don’t mean bites!!!)
Not to mention, the usual 2 – 3 rolls with butter

I must have had a pretty good metabolism because I know I probably gained maybe 8 or 9 pounds but we were gone for almost 3 weeks and I ate like that EVERY DAY!!!! I didn't have all of those things on this trip (thank goodness). I did, however, still gain 8 pounds ; (

I found a way around breakfast—Allan would walk each morning around 5:30. I get up around 6:00 and read or get on the internet. He comes back to the room with fruit and yogurt—so much better than eating an omelette, French toast, and sausage along with the fruit every morning.

At lunch we usually go to the buffet. Everything was so delicious and there was quite a selection. (It’s a good thing it is up on Deck 14. In fact, that’s probably one of the things that’s saving my bacon. We hadn’t been on the elevator once—we started the cruise on Deck 9 (and after my MIL and 2 SIL's got off moved to Deck 10), our dining room is on Deck 6, the fitness center is on Deck 15.

Here are a couple of pictures of my dinner plates. I am usually not very adventuresome when it comes to food—guess I want to be sure I like what I ordered. Well, one night I decided to try something I have never tried—escargot. They were pretty good—they were in a garlic/marinara sauce. I haven't had any trouble with my sinuses--I guess it's the horseradish on my prime rib, and wasabi with my suishi.

This was my toronadoes of beef--looks a little rare, but it just melted in your mouth.

We all loved Italian night—I had prosciutto with cantalope, Fagoli soup (and now aurora posted a recipe so I'm excited to try it), spinach salad with bacon bits and pine nuts, and then veal scallopini with marsala sauce. It was delicious. Our little waiter is so cute—he just loves my MIL He is trying to give us 2 desserts each night—JUST WHAT WE ALL DO NOT NEED!!!!

A couple of other desserts:I bought the Princess cookbook which has the recipe for these "sugar-free" chantilly swans. I told my MIL when I go to Utah at Christmas she can make these for me ; )

This is one of our favorites--chocolate souffle with vanilla sauce.

One afternoon they had a beautiful chocolate display—yum, everything LOOKED so good. I enjoyed all of the desserts that I ate (notice that is PLURAL!!!)

Sidenote: My brother-in-law, Homer, passed away Monday night. Since Stake Conference is this weekend and Allan has to be here, we will leave on Sunday after our meetings and fly to Reno for the funeral there. We will then fly to Utah and spend a few days with Bev. (I'm so glad I talked to Homer on the phone on Sunday evening.) I'm so grateful for the Plan of Salvation and the knowledge that families are eternal.

How grateful I am for family. Our sweet little Brent put a wonderful message for Homer on our family website. Brent is so tender, and he loved Homer so much. When Brent went on his mission, I think Homer was as excited for him as Allan and I were.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Great Wall and Other Things

We made it home from Beijing. I thought I would try to put a quick post together. I decided to go ahead and break up this post--otherwise it would be way too long. I just want to give you a few highlights of our stay in China.

We arrived here in Beijing on Monday morning--the ship had a little trouble clearing immigration so we were a few hours late getting off. This made us a little late. We were supposed to see The Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. However because we were so late we ended up going to The Summer Palace (I guess because it stayed open later than The Forbidden City)


I have a great camera but unfortunately couldn't truly capture the sights--things were absolutely incredible. Both Allan and I were awestruck when we saw the Terra Cotta Warriors. This gives you an idea of the size of this pit--which I believe was Pit #1.

Now to give you a better look at the warriors:

Just to give you an idea of what we saw:

Toilets--fortunately they weren't all like this:

We were lucky enough to find some "Western" style facilities. We even found some that were rated pretty high. Everything was incredibly clean.

Birds Nests:

Getting tickets to the Birds Nest was very difficult so our bus driver drove (very slowly) past it so we could see it. I loved being able to see it. (That was our first day traveling to Beijing on our way to the Summer Palace)

We also saw older gentleman with their birds nests that they would carry with them to the park or to visit with friends.


But fortunately, when all else fails:


The morning our ship was heading into port in China, I went on the balcony and saw this. I thought it was so beautiful (maybe I was just excited to finally be in China ; )

We took a little Dragon boat around Kunming Lake at The Summer Palace. It is just amazing--hard to believe it is man-made. Right before we were getting off the boat I captured this picture of the sunset.


When we were in Xian we climbed The City Wall.

I will have to write a post devoted to our experience climbing the Great Wall--IT WAS SO AMAZING, but here's a picture just to give you an idea of how steep it is.

I'm glad to be home--a little exhausted. (We left Beijing on October 10th at 4:40 p.m. and arrived home in Winnipeg at around 7:15 p.m.--who'd have thought the flight would be that short!!! Ha, ha, ha. We crossed the International Date Line going this direction so we gained back that day we lost in September.

Kyle was happy to see us (and I was so happy to see him ; )

Sidenote: Happy Birthday to my sweet grandson, Brandon, who turns 14 today!!! Hey, Neal didn't get his birthday because we didn't have September 24th and Brandon got two birthdays because we had October 10th for 2 days ; )