Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Snorkeling In Negril, Jamaica

Mike with his glass bottom boat.

As a group, we chartered a local to take us out to the reefs that were just off shore. Mike was a really nice guy and he was very knowledgeable about his business. If someones mask fogged up, he would wash it with baby shampoo and rinse it. Or, if a mask leaked or fins didn't work properly, he had a replacement that could be borrowed.

I have never been crazy about snorkeling. I just don't like having to keep that big mouth piece thing in my mouth and try to keep the water out and blow hard when you come back up and blah, blah, blah. It's just too much work. So, when Nathan preferred his goggles to the mask and snorkel I could certainly understand.

Todd with mask and snorkel and Nathan with...his goggles.

He did pretty good considering he had to keep coming up for a breath. But, it wasn't long before he was exhausted. Todd too, was worn out from having to keep close to Nathan and carrying him "piggy back" when he got tired or needed to adjust his fins or goggles.

It didn't take Nathan long to get tired.

Todd under the glass bottom boat.

Finger starfish.

Day two proved to be better than day one. Todd and I were able to convince Nathan to use his mask and snorkel. He consented and loved it. On day one, Stuart Brown, found a tiger conch shell and Nathan fell in love with it. So, on day two, he was on a mission to find his own. Well, on day two they arrived back at the boat with our very own tiger conch shell. According to Nathan, he spotted it but he didn't know how to dive down and get it, so he told his daddy to go get it. I don't think the real story goes quite like that but anyway we are now the proud owners of a tiger conch shell and Nathan couldn't be happier.

Nathan on day 2 with mask and snorkel.

Nathan with the prized Tiger Conch shell.

And a first for Nathan's Ma:

Here is my first attempt at videoing with my digital camera. The girl next to Nathan is Olivia Brown. I think he was kind of sweet on her because he told me one night that he had gotten two hugs from her that day. At the retreat back in August, he was sweet on Olivia's younger sister Sophia. I guess he decided he would rather his girlfriends be more mature.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Negril, Jamaica

L to R: Steve Puffpaff, Dale and Patti Coad, (our area directors), Gary and Peggy Pyatt, Stuart and Wendy Brown, and Todd and I. Missing are Tom and Brenda Lantz, and Steve and Pam Livingston.

This past weekend, we were blessed to be able to join the other missionaries on the Island at a retreat in Negril. This was our first time in Negril and it is beautiful just like the rest of the Island. We were able to get a little rest, but not much, because there were so many activities available that Nathan had to experience.

The hotel offered two pools, a jacuzzi, and of course the beach which offers all kinds of water sports. It also had a small restaurant where we were able to eat most of our meals. The main highlights of the weekend were snorkeling, going to the water park, and experiencing the cliff divers at Rick's Cafe.

I took over one hundred pictures, so instead of trying to pick and choose which pictures to use in this one post, I will use them in several posts. Howie and Sherry will appreciate the mileage I can get out of this trip like I did from the trip home for Christmas.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Please Help!

Todd's "make-do" desk.

When in a pinch, use what's available!

After months of use, Todd's desk is beginning to collapse. The weight of his computer and books is causing a "cave-in." Donations are being accepted for the purchase of a desk made out of material that won't collapse.

All joking aside, we are thankful that our missionaries have a desk that they are going to let us buy from them and we are grateful.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Christmas Part IV (Final Part)

Believe it or not we did more than open presents while we were home. We spent a lot of time with family and friends. Most of our activities were of course surrounded by food.
One night we gathered at the barn for oysters and hotdogs with Todd's cousins.

Gotta take time to play nintendo.

We also had our annual Christmas dinner at the Mayo's. We all brought our favorite dishes and and a steak. Jeffro threw in lobster and it was a wonderful meal. Since we all sang together several years ago, we always try to sing some of the songs we have done in the past.

Jeff and Tonya's gameroom.

Howie brings out all of our old Christmas soundtracks and we try to remember the words and the parts. We all beg Tonya and April to sing for us. They always pitch a fit. But with a little coaxing they somewhat oblige us. No Christmas is complete without Tonya singing Breath of Heaven. No one can sing it like her. No, Tonya, not even Amy Grant. To hear a clip of Tonya singing for us, head over to April says that she can't ever reach the notes but by the end of the song she is in the other room reaching them. Howie always cheats and practices his since he has the soundtracks so his always sound pretty good. The rest of us,well, we're just tolerated.

Lisa, April, Howie and Tripp.

Then on New Year's Eve we went over to my cousin Kendra's house. She is better known to us as DeeDah. She cooked a great meal of beef roast, complete with broccoli casserole, mashed potatoes, salad, and apple dumplings with ice cream for dessert. It was wonderful. We played Wii with the kids and afterwords the kids did sparklers.

The sparklers were a first for Nathan.

I also had a great time with two of my long time friends, Angie and Lynn. And, of course we went out to eat. They both had mercy on me and let me pick the places, even if it's not their favorite, because I don't get to eat at Market Restaurant and Panera or eat sushi.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Christmas Part III

After Christmas morning at Mama and Daddy's we went over to the Hood's. After opening all our gifts we had a wonderful traditional Christmas dinner with a fried turkey, dressing, and broccoli and cauliflower casserole and sweet potato casserole. Grammy also had pumpkin pie and my favorite chocolate covered peanut butter balls.

Uncle Tripp got Nathan a new bike.

Jacob & Heather got Lisa a gymnast and a football player figurines.

Jacob and Heather model their Jamaica hats with Nathan.

Pappy "scores" with the "hot" pants he got Grammy.

Tripp got Todd a nice web cam.

My favorite gift Todd got was the web cam. I hook up with my friend Lynn all the time. For all of you who don't have one...well, go get one and we can talk and see each other! Skype is a wonderful thing. Go to for more information and the best thing is it is absolutely free.

We had a lot of fun with both of our families. Nathan had a blast playing nonstop with Jacob. He actually spent the night with Jacob and made it through the whole night. In the past he has made great plans to spend the night, but when it got down to it and he realized Mama wasn't going to be around, he quickly decided spending the night without Mama wouldn't be that much fun. It was hard to come back to reality and refocus on schoolwork. But, I think he has settled back into "real" life.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Christmas Part II

We spent Christmas morning at Mama and Daddy's house. I made a breakfast casserole and we ate it while we opened presents. We had a wonderful time. Nathan, like most kids, is all about the presents. DeeDee had taken him to the dollar store and he picked out gifts for all of us. He got me a cute little strawberry scented candle and it was precious. But, the best present he gave me was after he opened each gift he thanked and gave sugar to whomever the gift was from, without being told.

Nathan watching me opening the candle he gave me.

Nathan showing Granddaddy the gift he picked out for him.

He picked out a "huggable" teddy bear for Uncle Howie.

Nathan seeing how to draw Mario and Pokemon.

Nathan showing off yet two more Nintendo DS games.

Every Power Ranger should have a Power Ranger shirt.

Showing two of my three Nicholas Sparks books.

We had a great Christmas with my family. DeeDee got a digital camera. Granddaddy got speakers for his MP3 player, Jamaican hot sauce and old radio shows on CD. Uncle Howie got Hairspray and Dream Girls DVD's and soundtracks. Todd got what all preachers get, shirts, ties and handkerchiefs. I don't have any pictures that show them or I would post them. Christmas Part III will be Christmas with the Hoods.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Christmas Part I

After two and a half wonderful weeks of eating, being with family, eating, being with friends, eating, shopping, eating and packing, we are back in Jamaica. We arrived on Thursday afternoon. Spirit Airlines was over two and a half hours late leaving Fort Lauderdale. We got up at four a.m. and were at the airport before six. As always it was terrible to say goodbye to family, but we are so grateful that we were able to spend Christmas and New Year's at home.

We arrived home one week before Christmas and stayed a week and a half after Christmas. Our Christmas festivities began on Christmas Eve at John and April's house.

Aunt Sharon and Mama stood over the turkey carcass that John fried and picked it to death. Aunt Sharon did relinquish a wing to me. Fried turkey wings are my favorite part of the turkey. We also had a ham, chicken and dressing, greens, eggplant casserole, pumpkin cake, pecan pie and of course sweet tea! April's mom and dad from Tallahassee, her sister Gayle and her husband Mark along with their three boys, twins Brayden and Brennan and their younger brother Walker from Mississippi came. Nathan was born one day before Walker so they had a blast together. John's sister and her husband along with their girls joined us as well.

April and Howie with no shame and a lovely shot of my plate.

Uncle Layne, Aunt Sharon and Mama watching their kids sing Christmas carols.

Before the evening ended we all gathered in the living room to sing.

Later that night we went over to Todd's parent's house and ate some more. Todd's sister, Lisa, made wonderful crab stuffed mushrooms and spinach dip. Grammy, Todd's mom also made some wonderful pumpkin pie and chocolate dipped peanut butter balls.

Tradition at Grammy and Pappy's is for the kids to open matching pajamas and then wear them on Christmas morning to open the rest of their presents.

Jacob and Nathan showing off their new pajamas.