Saturday, January 19

Florida Trip Day Six New Year's Day 2008

We woke up late on January 1, 2008. I guess we were all tired from the drive. The traffic on 192 was bumper to bumper and it took us a while to get to the restaurant. We ate at Perkins and then headed to Sea World. The traffic was still bad, but once we got past the entrances to Disney World it cleared up. We were glad we had decided to go to Sea World
We arrived at the gates of Sea World at 11:30, which was late and we knew we wouldn't see it all in one day. So once we were inside we got a map and let the boys decide what they wanted to see.
The first thing we saw was this beautiful Christmas tree below. It was so pretty and right by the water.

Then we saw a group of beautiful birds. I believe, but am not sure, that they are some kind of storks or cranes. Any help here would be appreciated.
To the right, we saw Shamu's Stadium. We hoped to head that way a little later.
The gardens at Sea World are beautiful. As we neared the sea lion's area, we saw the area below.
Here are the sea lions. They also had some seals in this area. The boys loved seeing these beautiful animals. There was a lot of noise as the bull that has his head up was warning all the other males to stay away. He seemed to have his very own harem and wasn't about to share.
The fellow below had been rescued and was missing an eye. Once he is healed and rehabilitated, the keeper said he will be set free. All of the sea lions and seals in this area have been rescued. The keeper fed them while we were there and this guy is looking for his share of the fish.
Below the boys poise by a sea lion statue. It was beautiful and a designated photo area.
Next the boys wanted to see the stingrays, so we headed in that direction and bought some fish so they could feed them. Brandon was keen on feeding them. Jordan was a little leary at first, but he finally did it. You feed a stingray by putting a fish between your first and middle finger and placing your palm flat on the bottom of the tank. The stingray will swim over your hand and take the fish. We did get to feel them as well and their skin is smooth as glass.
Then we stopped by the stingray pups. They have several and they ranged from very tiny to the size of the one below. The boys wanted to stay around the stingray tank for a long while. They found these creatures very interesting. Stingrays glide through the water and they are fast.
Next we headed for the dolphin area. They weren't feeding the dolphins while we were there. Here is the view we had when we headed that way.
Here are a couple of photos that were taken from the underwater viewing tank. It's hard not to get the reflection from the glass.
The above photo was taken from above the dolphin tank. A wonderful man by the name of Wayne, who works with the dolphins at Sea World brought along a bucket of ice and threw it in the tank right in front of the boys. The dolphin came right out of the water and almost hit Brandon in the face. The boys got to touch it and they were ecstatic.

As we left that area I was taking a photo of the boys and a lovely couple from Japan stopped and offered to take a photo of all of us. I am not a photogenic person. Everyone else looks great, but I look terrible. LOL That's why I never post photos of myself on my blog. I do get a good one once in a while, but this is definitely not it. However, it is a family photo and I guess that's what I must look like.
We sat down for a while in the area below. It was peaceful and quiet and the surroundings were beautiful.
Next we headed over toward the horse stables. I didn't know that Budweiser, Anheimer Busch owned Sea World, but they do and this area was beautifully decorated for Christmas.
A statue of one of their very famous horses. I couldn't resist this shot, but the menfolk started calling me a shutterbug. That's okay. I have some lovely photos.
This beautifully landscaped area below was not far from the horse barns. More heckling about being a shutterbuy. I ignored them. LOL
On our way back toward the main gate, we saw this area with the pink flamingos. Brandon loves to tell everyone that flamingos are pink because they only eat shrimp and he is correct.
We stopped at the gift shop on our way out and the boys picked up a couple of stuffed toys. Brandon's favorites are manatees, so that is what he bought. Jordan chose a seal. By this time it was 6:30 and Sea World closed at 7pm. When we got to the exit, we were given an update on our tickets that allowed us one free day at Sea World as long as we went back before January 11th. We were glad to be so honored and accepted. The boys were thrilled that they might get to go to Sea World another day. There was so much we hadn't seen and Brandon said it was better than Disney. Remember, we had the boys with us three years ago at Disney World.

We went and had a light dinner and then went back to the hotel. The boys and I went swimming in the heated pool that was 105 degrees. It was lovely and relaxing. I was hoping that the boys would be so relaxed they would go to sleep early. No such luck. They were so excited about their day in Sea World that they didn't fall asleep until 11pm. That is late for Brandon, but Jordan is a night hawk. I was glad when Grandma could finally crawl into bed. I think I was asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow, but we had had a wonderful day and made some great memories.

I hope you've enjoyed the photos of our first day at Sea World. ~Blessings, Mary~

Friday, January 18

Show and Tell Friday - Florida Trip Day 5

Show and Tell

This is my first Show and Tell Friday since before Christmas and it's nice to be back on track. It's easy to find something to show and tell about today. I know you're all looking forward to hearing more about our trip and seeing more photos.

We got up in the morning and were glad to leave the Days I*n. We drove a little way up the road and had breakfast at the Golden Corral. If you've never eaten there you are missing a real treat. There was every kind of breakfast food imagineable and it was delicious.

After breakfast we took the boys mini golfing. No one wanted to go to Disney on New Year's Eve. I have been there before and it is a mad house. Wall to wall people and you can't move. Brandon sometimes has difficulties with crowds and I knew he definitely would have with one of that proportion. The golf course resembled an old western gold mine and we had our choice of either an easy or difficult course. Being the mini golfers that we are, we chose the difficult one.

After mini golfing, we went back to 27 Highway and went to Wal M*rt. The boys found more of the Disney Pixar Cars that they collect and of course there were a couple that they didn't have. They bought those and I tried to buy some gravol. No such luck.

We stopped at a couple of gift shops and looked around because check in time at the R*mada wasn't until three. We had lunch and just spent our time checking out attractions. Finally it was time to go to the hotel, where I had made the reservation the day before. When we got there we were told it wouldn't be ready for another hour or two. That didn't please me as we were all tired. We looked around their gift shop, discovered an indoor pool and tried to put in time. At 4:30, the room was ready. We got our key and headed up to the room - a kids' suite. The boys were ecstatic. This is what they saw:

The sign said "No Adults." They got a real kick out of that. Of course they'd like to be a little independent and have no adults around. Can you blame them. They sometimes get into it with one another, but at times I hear them laughing and giggling. They have their own little secrets as all brothers and sisters should.
The room had a lovely mural of animals. Here is Brandon watching TV. The hotel actually had a kids' station and the boys hadn't seen much TV since we left home. Jordan moved just as I took the shot and you can see his shoulder in the front left.
Jordan claimed the top bunk. He's always wanted to sleep in a top bunk but since the boys have their own rooms, there's no need for bunk beds. He was thrilled in the beginning but then wanted to know if he could fall out. LOL
Here are the boys watching TV. Jordan has that pesky little penguin in his hands that he bought at the Newport, Kentucky Aquarium. It was cute and he bought it with his own money, but about two hours down the road we found out it squeaked. Grrr! It ended up being our mascot and sitting on the dashboard when we were driving. A very important job for a penguin. Grandpa told them he would give it flying lessons by tossing it out the window. There were times when Grandma also felt like it. Now penguin is home where Mom and Dad have to listen to it. LOL
For New Year's Eve, we decided to stay in the hotel and go swimming in the heated indoor pool. It was wonderful. Everyone was more relaxed when we headed back to the room. Brandon was asleep by 10. Jordan wanted to stay up to see the New Year in, but didn't quite make it. He fell asleep at about 11:30. It was a wonderful way to spend New Year's Eve.

I hope you enjoyed my show and tell this week. To participate or if you'd like to learn more about Show and Tell Friday, be sure to visit Kelli at There is No Place Like Home.

Thursday, January 17

I've Been Tagged for a Fun Meme

Deena, my beautiful friend at Can I Be Pretty in Pink has challenged me to a meme. The meme was created by Jan at Bold and Free. I am to list 15 things that make it great to be me, so here goes.
1. I am a mother of one beautiful daughter.

2. I am the grandmother of two handsome and loving grandsons.

3. I am the wife of a good and loving man.

4. I love nature. Watching animals and birds and all of God's creations, brings me great joy.

5. I have wonderful blogging friends who stand by me when things get tough. Thanks to all of you.

6. One of my friends and I have been together for about 35 years. Jo Ann is awesome. She lives within a 5 minute drive of my house.

7. My parents were loving and taught me the lessons of life that I needed to become a good citizen.

8. Grandma taught me to love God as well as many other lessons of life.

9. I was blessed by God with a talent for writing and have realized my dream of having my writings published.

10. I enjoy living in a country where I can express myself without fear of retribution.

11. God has allowed me to climb mountains and trudge through valleys in order to make me both a stronger and better person.

12. God has allowed me to experience certain things in my life in order that I could better understand what others are going through and help them through it.

13. God has blessed me with logic and the ability to survive through situations that weren't always pleasant. With each situation I have learned a life lesson.

14. I have been blessed with the gift of giving. I am happiest when I am doing things for others and bringing a bit of cheer and joy into their lives.

15. I am blessed to be in a position where I can work from home and take care of my grandsons while their parents work.

I had fun thinking of all these reasons why I'm lucky to be me. Now, I am going to tag:

Grams at Talk to Grams

Diane at Diane's Place

Lady Di at Kitty Justice

If anyone else would like to participate, feel free to do so and please leave a comment so I can drop by and read your list.

I have been honored with an award from my beautiful friend, Denise, at Shortybear's Place. Thank you so much, my friend. I am truly honored.

I would like to honor the following people with this award.

Mary at Isabella's Closet

Deena at Can I Be Pretty in Pink

Lady Di at Kitty Justice

Denise at Samaritan Women

Pea at Pea's Corner

Thanks, Ladies, for passing on the love.

Florida Trip - Day Four and Thankful Thursday

Day four of our trip we got up and headed out to a Cracker Barrel for breakfast. We had stayed in Georgia overnight and we reached Florida about 11am. The boys were excited. We'd finally arrived. We enjoyed a glass of orange juice at the welcome center and continued on our way.
We got off I75 at Highway 27. We were a bit tired of being on the Interstate and saw some interesting sights on our way into Central Florida. We usually stay in Clermont, which is about 20 minutes from Disney World. However, when we got to our destination, there'd been a mixup with our reservations, so we took 192 and headed toward Disney. We stopped at the Ramada Inn and they had no rooms left. However, they did have a kids' suite available for the next night, so I booked it. We went back west and found a Day's Inn, but were not at all happy with the room. Oh well, it was only for one night.

We noticed that many of the orange groves along 27 had been replaced with housing. What a shame. It seems that farmland all over America is being destroyed for homes. Developers need to remember that we need green space in order to survive.

The boys were really tired and so were we, so we decided to take it easy and rest. We ordered pizza and that was another bad experience. It ended up costing us $34 just for pizza and I can tell you I'll never order from that particular pizza company again. They got the order entirely wrong and wouldn't correct it.

Jordan and I walked over the to store and he saw a beautiful leopard towel that he bought with his own money. Jordan loves leopards and lo and behold we had all forgotten to pack towels. LOL When Brandon saw it, he wanted one too and so we went and bought him one. They were very pretty. I neglected to get a photo.

That is all of day four and finally we enjoyed just lounging around and not being stuck in the van. We were all asleep by 10pm.

Tomorrow, I will try and post photos of Day 5.
Now for my Thankful Thursday post. I most definitely have lots to be thankful for. Here is my list.

1. Thankful for the opportunity to have a nice vacation and return home without incident. We didn't have any problems on the road. We did have one close call, but that is to be expected on a trip of this length. Then it was a careless driver that caused the problem in a rain storm by cutting off a tractor trailer.

2. Thankful that the van's wheelbearing didn't go until we got home. It wouldn't have been fun to be stuck along the road with two boys. God's timing was perfect, as always.

3. Thankful that we were all healthy while we were away, even though we had travel insurance. I certainly wouldn't want to have to use it. Jordan was ill one night but I think he was tired and excited. That will do it with kids.

4. Thankful that all of my loved ones were safe while we were gone.

5. Thankful that the GYN found my daughter's cyst and it will be removed soon.

6. Thankful that our home remained safe while we were gone and there were no incidents of any kind.

7. Thankful that Meeko remained healthy while we were gone and that he had fun playing with his canine friends while we were gone. He settled in within 24 hours and is doing great.

8. Thankful for all my wonderful friends both on and offline. I have been truly blessed.

9. Thankful that God sent angels to be with us on the trip, just as I prayed for. He is so good and I'm thankful to have a personal relationship with Him.

10. Thankful that God answers our prayers and that my friends lift those up who are on my prayer list. Thanks to all of you.

If you would like to join Thankful Thursday, please visit Iris at Sting My Heart. Thanks, Iris for hosting Thankful Thursday. It's nice to have you back.

Wednesday, January 16

Prayer Requests myspace graphic comments
Myspace Christian Comments & Graphics

Well, I went to bed, read for a bit and prayed to our heavenly Father for those on my prayer list. I would appreciate it if you would include these people on your prayer list as well.

Our friend, Deena, at Can I Be Pretty in Pink. Deena is writing about her journey with breast cancer on her blog and she has had a pretty rough day today.

Karen at Karen's Korner. Karen and her family had a very tough year in 2007. Please pray that they will be abundantly blessed in 2008.

Kathleen Marie at The Open Window. She has been experiencing pain, so let's lift her up in prayer.

Grams at Talk to Grams. She is experiencing pain in her arm.

Mary at Isabella's Closet. Mary has been very ill and is still not fully recuperated. She saw her doctor today but only posted the positive aspects of her visit.

BJ at Sweet Nothings. She was scheduled for surgery that was postponed several times but I do believe it went through on Tuesday morning.

Denise at Shorty Bear's Place. Denise has many health issues and is a diabetic. Her blood glucose levels are high and she is experiencing pain.

My daughter, Michelle. She is having a hysterectomy on February 19th and is still working part time. She has a very large cyst and is very tired, working and looking after the boys. Please also pray for the boys. They are having a hard time with the fact that Mom is not well.

For Glen, who was in a car accident just before Christmas. His kidneys keep shutting down and they can't seem to get them functioning properly.

Mom, who is still fighting the lung problem. She just gets a little better and then has a relapse. Mom is 80 and I worry about her health. In the last year she has begun to look very frail.

If I have forgotten anyone, my apologies. Just let me know and I will add you to the prayer list.

Thank You, Denise, for sending me this lovely graphic. I appreciate your thoughtfulness.

A Rough Day

Sorry I didn't get to post anything about our trip today. It's been a rough day. First thing this morning my mother-in-law phoned to ask us to take her to the airport. She's been in town since coming back from Florida with her friend just after Christmas. This was a big surprise because we didn't even know she was in town. So, we hurried to pick her up and get her there on time. After that hubby and I had errands to run. We stopped at Wal M*art and picked up a few things and came home for lunch. That wasn't so bad until we found out the printer wasn't working and I needed to print out some documents. We knew it was on it's last legs, but the timing for it to give up entirely was real bad. So off we went to St*ples and was able to find one at a reasonable cost. I came home and uninstalled the old printer and installed the new one. For the next three hours I struggled to get it to work properly. Finally, success.

I dislike new technology. It seems I just get used to one thing and then it has to be replaced. So, in order not to complain and whine, I will say goodnight. I will do my best to upload more photos of the trip tomorrow. I hope all of you had a wonderful day.

~Blessings, Mary~

Tuesday, January 15

Back to History Reading Challenge

Shannon at Shannon's Reading Log has issued a Back to History Challenge. This is what she says:

HERE WE GO... This is a challenge to sharpen the mind, go back & visit times long since forgotten in this day in age. The Back to History Challenge is designed to encourage readers to stretch themselves in the history genre. I am truly interested in getting people to venture into unfamiliar territories of literature. So...take this challenge and discover what history has to offer you!

A FEW RULES... All participants should try to mix up their reading choices. Please do not have ALL biographies, or ALL memoirs, etc. There is no limit on any sub-category, but remember...this is supposed to be a CHALLENGE. You should be getting out of your comfort zones and finding something new to explore. You should read one historical non-fiction, or historical fiction novel a month. Ultimately...let’s have fun!
You must formally sign up through Mister Linky to participate in the Travel Back to History Challenge Challenge, which will take place during the months of January - December 2008. Mister Linky is providing a place to store all the participants' sites for everybody to peruse. If you choose to join, you must have your final list posted by Dec 30, 2008.
To sign up with Mr. Linky, visit Shannon's site HERE!

Well, I've read my first book for this challenge. It was Candle in the Darkness by Lynn Austin. Published by Bethany House. It is rich in history of the South and I enjoyed it very much. There are other books in this series and I will be checking them out as well. This is Christian fiction.

Caroline Fletcher is the daughter of a wealthy slave owner who lives in Richmond, VA. From the time she is very young, Caroline realizes that slaves are human beings who feel emotions and pain. When Caroline's mother takes her own life, the young girl is sent off to the Fletcher plantation and then to live with relatives in Philadelphia.

By the time Caroline turns 15, the Civil War is looming. Her father sends for her to return home, which she does, but she has a difficult time living in the south because she is now a passionate abolishionist.

Caroline's men folk are off fighting for the cause but Caroline is not satisfied with the way things are going. She takes on the role of spy, which exposes her to some very dangerous situations. Along the way, her faith in God grows and she turns from a teenager into a beautiful young woman.
This is an enjoyable book and Caroline's journey of faith is truly amazing.

Florida Trip Day 3

After leaving Newport, we traveled down I75 into Tennessee. Jordan had been waiting for this ever since we left. He loves the Tennessee Mountains and had requested that we stop at an overlook so he could take a photo. We told him we'd do our best. However, we stayed overnight in a motel in the Tennessee Mountains because it was raining and foggy. I don't believe in taking chances. If the weather turns bad, we stop. Hubby and I don't totally agree on this, but I had my way. I'm not risking lives to get where I'm going. The photo below was taken from the motel parking lot. To get to the motel we had to go up a huge grade. The boys said they'd never seen a driveway that was so steep and of course it was just as steep coming down in the morning. LOL

Once we were in the car, Brandon settled back for a relaxing ride. He was still tired and decided just to veg out and watch the scenery.

In the morning, the sky was a beautiful blue. I don't think I've ever seen such a blue sky. I took a photo but didn't know if the blue would show up. It did! Isn't it wonderful? The Earth is full of beautiful sights and sounds.

An hour or so down the road, the blue had diminished a little. However, Jordan wanted me to take a photo of this huge hill.

We came to the overlook and since it was posted Grandpa pulled over. There was a tractor trailer there. The driver was sleeping. Grandpa and Jordan are in a discussion below about the scenery.

Brandon got out as well and took some photos on his new digital that he got for Christmas. Here he is starting back to the van.

As Jordan came back to the van, another tractor trailer pulled in behind us. The trucker waved and Jordan put up his hand and signalled for the driver to blow the horn. He accommodated Jordan with two little blasts. The boys had a good laugh about the air horn.

That day we also crossed Georgia. It is beautiful country there as well. We stopped at a Wal Mart for a break and Brandon went in with me. There were a couple of things I needed to pick up. He visited the toy department and found Disney Pixar Cars from the movie. They are real hard to get here in southern Ontario, so he bought six. They were on sale for $3.00 each, which is a big savings. Here they are $4.99. When we got back to the van, he gave Jordan three of them and Jordan paid him for them. These, according to the boys, are very rare. LOL That's because they are hard to find here.

We were hoping to make it to Florida, but since there was rain and fog again that night, we stopped about 40 miles before the Florida border.

The trip continues tomorrow. I hope you enjoyed seeing the beautiful sights of Tennessee.

~Blessings, Mary~

Monday, January 14

A Day on the Newport, Kentucky Levee.

Yesterday I promised to post pictures of the Levee in Newport, KY and a unique restaurant experience for the boys. I also posted a photo of Jordan heading to the Levee stairs. Below is a photo of the area decorated for Christmas. It was beautiful! You can see the stairs to the levee on the left.
The steel spanned bridge is the one that we drove over the previous night to get from Cincinnati, Ohio to Newport, KY. It was decorated with wreaths and bows for the Chrismas season. We were the only car on the bridge and for some reason Brandon thought we shouldn't be on it. The next morning after we had breakfast and went to the aquarium, we took the boys out to look at the river. This bridge was to our right. Notice the barge traveling down river.

Below is the view from the levee to the left. Another bridge. I believe the boat in the foreground is a restaurant. Dwight and I saw it when we visited three years ago. Nothing much has changed, but the river is amazing.

A wider angle of the scene to the left from the levee. The river looks like glass, but the current is very strong.

When we came finished looking at the river, we took the boys to the candy shop and bought some penny candy and got some for free because the boys had bought a mug with their names on it at the aquarium. I also picked up some sugar free chocolate there and Dwight bought some black licorice.

Then we headed to Johnny Rockets for lunch. Dwight and I had ate there when we visited three years ago. It's an old fashioned burger and malt place.

Though they usually don't let people take photos, the lady in the forefront of the photo below allowed me to so I could have a picture to put in the boys scrapbook of the trip. Notice the old time uniforms, the red stools and the floor, which is exactly like the one in the burger joint that was near my high school when I was a teen. It was like stepping back in time. We all ordered burgers except Jordan and he had grilled cheese and fries. The food was delicious. We put a nickel (yes a nickel) in the jukebox. The boys enjoyed the atmosphere. They thought it was cool to eat in a burger joint like Grandma and Grandpa went to in their teens.
As we were leaving the levee, we saw this old house that has been turned into an office building. Brandon wanted a photo of it. He said it must be very old and we tried to guess what year it had been built.
So that was our day on the levee. We left Newport around 2pm and the boys talked about the aquarium most of the day. Tomorrow I'll post photos of Jordan's favorite place in the Tennessee mountains.

Animated Dividers

Deena over at Can I Be Pretty In Pink honored me with two very special awards. Thank you, Deena. You made my day.

I will be adding awards to my awards and gifts page as soon as I can find time. I have to watch the boys after school today and am still settling in from the trip.

I hope you enjoyed seeing the photos of the levee and Johnny Rockets. If you're even in Cincinnati or Newport, be sure to see the aquarium and stop by for lunch at Johnny Rockets for a 50s burger joint experience. ~Blessings, Mary~