Wednesday, December 23, 2009

CHRISTMAS BLESSINGS & CHALLENGE

The Jolley family has received so many beautiful Christmas cards this year. Thank you for helping us celebrate the holiday. Along with the pictures and cards, are some letters as well. One letter in-particular stood out to me, and we wanted to share with all of you her message and challenge. (Thanks Lori!)

"We are grateful for so many things: a quaint home, great jobs, food on the table, health, happiness... I could go on and on. Despite the instability of our economy and the daily headlines fluctuating between "it is improving" to "it's not as good as once thought" ... we know this, we are blessed. Blessed to call you our family and friends - and blessed to wake each morning to God's gifts.

So here's the 2009 challenge... : As you gather with your family and friends this year, make sure to say "I love you" whole heartedly, hug tightly, hold each other in your hearts and share abundantly for what you are grateful.

It is with gracious hearts that we see the wonders of this world..."


Merry Christmas! We love you and are grateful for such wonderful family and friends that help in a moments notice, pray for us, and share with us our greatest truimphs and disappointments. We hope this year has brought you closer to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! Let us always remember what the season is about. Love, the Jolleys

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

PIANO RECITAL

Faith's first piano recital was a lot of fun, though I had to miss it. Faith started piano lessons with my mom in January. Throughout the year, we have taken probably a month or so off. She is learning and doing so well. I enjoyed watching her play on the video. Here she is playing Jolly Old Saint Nicholas and The First Noel:

video

Didn't she do awesome? She was one of the only children that didn't have music in front of them! She worked so hard to memorize it. Her heart was pounding out of her chest.

Both Dawson and Kate fell asleep, though Dawson said he just couldn't keep his eyes open!

Faith smiling big. She is growing up!
Here she is with a few of the kids.


Awesome job Faith!

Friday, December 11, 2009

DEAR SANTA

My friend Echo had this posted on her blog and it was just TOO CUTE to pass up! Merry Christmas to all the hardworking mothers out there!

"Dear Santa,
I've been a good mom all year. I've fed, cleaned and cuddled my children on demand, visited the pediatrician's office more than my doctor, sold sixty-two cases of candy bars to raise money to plant a shade tree on the school playground. I was hoping you could spread my list out over several Christmases, since I had to write this letter with a red crayon, on the back of a receipt in the laundry room between cycles, and who knows when I'll find anymore free times in the next 18 years. Here are my Christmas wishes: I'd like a pair of legs that don't ache (in any color, except purple, which I already have) and arms that don't hurt or flap in the breeze, but are strong enough to pull my screaming child out of the candy aisle in the grocery store. I'd also like a waist, since I lost mine somewhere in the seventh month of my last pregnancy. If you're hauling big ticket items this year, I'd like fingerprint resistant windows and a radio that only plays adult music, a television that doesn't broadcast any programs containing talking animals and a refrigerator with a secret compartment behind the crisper where I can hide to talk on the phone. On the practical side, I could use a talking doll that says, "Yes, Mommy" to boost my parental confidence, along with two kids who don't fight and three pairs of jeans that will zip all the way up without the use of power tools. I could also use a recoding of Tibetan monks chanting "Don't eat in the living room" and "Take your hands off your sister," because my voice seems to be just out of my children's hearing range and can only be heard by the dog. If it's too late to find any of these products, I'd settle for enough time to brush my teeth and comb my hair in the same morning, or the luxury of eating food warmer than room temperature without it being served in a Styrofoam container through a window in a bag with a clown on it. If you don't mind, I could use a few Christmas miracles to brighten the holiday season. Would it be to much trouble to declare ketchup a vegetable? It will clear my conscience immensely. It would be helpful if you could coerce my children to help around the house without demanding payment as if they were the bosses of an organized crime family. Well Santa, the buzzer on the dryer is ringing and my daughter saw my feet under the laundry room door. I think she wants her crayon back. Have a safe trip and remember to leave your wet boots by the door and come in and dry off so you don't catch cold. Help yourself to cookies on the table, but don't eat too many or leave crumbs on the carpet.
Yours Always,
Mom
P.S. One more thing...you can cancel all of my requests if you can keep my children young enough to always believe in Santa!"

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

SCORE!

Today's awesome deal. I bought 8 boxes of General Mills cereal, 4 cocoa puffs, 2 trix, 2 banana nut cheerios. Each cereal was $2.50; when you bought 4 boxes, you get $4.00 off making them $1.50 a box. Then I had coupons. So, 8 boxes cost me $7.72 (that's with tax included).

BUT WAIT, there's more. As I was walking away, the cashier said "Wait." and handed me a catalina for $5.00 off your next purchase. SCORE! I didn't see a catalina on pinching your pennies. I told her I didn't know there was a catalina. She said "Neither did I. Merry Christmas!" So, today, I really paid $2.72 for 8 boxes of cereal. Great deal, huh?

(SIGH)

This morning it happened. After 6 beautiful, wonderful months of clean, normal ears, she has nasty green drainage from her left ear. Sigh! Just hoping that we will be able to keep her happy and healthy for Christmas.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

STITCHES

So the picture is a little fuzzy, but I have to tell you the best story. Yes, I've been married for 10 years. Yes, I know how to sew and even have a sewing machine to use to sew paper (LOL). But ask me if I have ever mended a single item in the 10 + years that we've been married. The answer: "NO!" until Friday night. Kate's coat (hand me down from Faith) needed fixing. The mitten which is attached to the coat (have I mentioned how much great it is to have mitten already attached? I highly recommend it) was ripped off. It has been sitting in the bottom of the coat closet for a month. Friday night, I retrieved it from the closet, grab black thread and a needle (I know but it was between black and white, so I opted for black), and proceeded to mend her coat. What did Brandon say? "Are you feeling okay?" I said yes, and that it was about time to fix something instead of throw it away.
The verdict. It wasn't too bad. It took about 5 minutes and you wouldn't know unless you looked too close. I will definitely try it again sometime!!! There is a first time for everything I guess! LOL!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

ANNIVERSARY #10

It all started when a boy (Brandon) met a girl ('Michelle'). She was a 'Jensen' who went to bed at 7 o'clock every night. He was just another guy. If my counting is correct, that was 1987.


We have now been married 10 years. My, how the time flies. During our 10 years, we have been blessed to add to our family with 3 children, Faith, Dawson, and Kate. We have lived with in-laws twice (thanks Kathy and Jerry!), lived in 2 different apartments, and bought our first home. We've switched jobs too many times to count. We also have had a few different vehicles. We've had our share of ups and downs. But through it all, at least we had each other.

For our anniversary, Brandon surprised me and took me to New Moon (I love twilight) and then out to dinner at Texas Roadhouse. It just a great night, just the two of us!


Thank you for a wonderful evening! I love you Brandon! Happy 10th anniversary!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

COMING HOME

Friday morning we got up, ate breakfast, and made a beeline for the easy walk off to customs. That was probably the easiest check I've ever seen (all of 30 seconds), but we only spent about $40 on the islands themselves!!!

Our plan was to ride a bus over to the airport since our ride to the port was SO eventful. I didn't think that we were going to make it to the cruise actually. But, I asked about it after the signups were complete. So a taxi it was. The ride to Miami airport was uneventful --- the way I like it. And it ended up being cheaper, even with a tip included.


Miami was 81 degrees when we left. On the trip from Dallas-Fort Worth to Salt Lake, there was Wi-Fi service, so Brandon took them up on the offer ($9.95 - which was definitely cheaper than internet service on the cruiseline I might add.)

When we arrived in Salt Lake, it was a cold 34 degrees. Quite a difference. Amy and Justin picked us up. Thank you!!!

Since Dawson threw up on Thursday, we thought that we'd better go home that night.



We arranged with Grandma and our neighbors to have the kids sleep in their own beds for the first time that week. We arrived home at 12:30 am Saturday morning. It was definitely great sleeping in our own beds, but the drive home was awful. We had a difficult time staying awake! But we made it!

The kids were happy to see up, but not overjoyed. Would we do it again? In a heartbeat! Infact, we are hoping that the business that put this on will do it again and make it an annual event.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

3rd STOP - GREAT STIRRUP CAY

Our 3rd stop was the Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian Cruise Line's private island. It was here that we were going to go parasailing. Brandon was looking forward to this more than anything else. This transfer to the island would be different. There was no port. Instead, the captain would get as close to the island as he could and drop the anchor. Then, the passengers would step off the ship to the tenderboat that would then drive over to the island.

Here are a few pictures of the sunrise.



That morning during breakfast, we heard the captain talk about how it was a tough decision, but safety comes first. No one would be leaving the ship today. Groan!!! We didn't think that it looked too bad. Unfortunately, this was the only picture that we got of the island.


We spent the day on the ship. Brandon went to meetings, I went to the gym and hot tub. While I was at the gym, I got to see the tenderboat. That's when we (me and new friends) realized that it really was that bad.

The afternoon was a lazy day, napping, watching TV, and buy expensive internet minutes. You could pay as you go ($0.75 a minute) or buy a package deal. The best deal was the 60 minutes which ended up being $0.40 a minute. But, we figured it was worth it to have some entertainment.

That night, we went to the steakhouse for dinner - yum! It was the only meal on the ship that I was full. I had the 10 oz. fillet minion, fries with parmasean oil and seasoning, and creme brulee (definitely worth it!!!). Brandon had giant shrimp, the fillet as well, with asparagus and something else. Well, I didn't eat his stuff, so I can't remember what he had.

Then we did the traditional cocktail party (for his conference people) where we ordered water, and went to the farewell variety show.


Our new friends from the cruise, Nathan and Kirsty:


We laughed SO hard we could barely breathe. The highlights: our cruise director, Matt, wrote down questions that people asked him on this cruise.

Q: Does this elevator go to the front of the ship?
A: No folks, it is not a wonkavator, it is an elevator and only goes up and down.

Q: What do you do with the ice sculpture after it melts?
A: (He just walked away and didn't answer!!!)

Q: Is the water in the toilets fresh water or salt water?
A: I don't know!!! I've never tasted the toilet water! And for 2 reasons: Number 1 and Number 2!

Q: Does the ship generate it's own electricity?
A: (joking) No, we are plugged into Miami. You should see the cord boy in the back of the ship. His arm is HUGE. We yell back, "Give us more slack" or "Reel it in!"

Q: Do the crew members sleep onboard the ship?
A: (joking) No, I ride a jet ski home to Wales every night. LOL!

Brandon's favorite part was called "The Fountains". Several crew members came out in togas with pitchers of water on their shoulders. Then they would put water in their mouths, squirt it in the air or at each other in different formations. Brandon did not stop laughing the enter show (about 5 minutes). Great ab workout!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

2nd STOP - NASSAU

The capital of the Bahamas - Nassau (pronounced nas-saw).

We went on the Stingray Adventure with a large group of Wireless Without Limits. It was a blast. We thought that water was blue at Freeport, until we saw this water.




We rode a ferry over. Here are a few pictures going over.


Atlantis resort


More buildings.

This is the area where the stingrays were kept. There were 17 stingrays total.



The females are much larger, males are smaller. This is a female.


The women line up on the shallow side, men on the deeper side about 2 feet apart. Then they train the stingrays to go through and get food. They gave us squid to hold between your fingers and the stingrays would smell the food, swim over, and then suck it right out of your fingers. A very weird sensation.

Halfway through, Brandon asked me if I was going to touch the stingray. I told him I already did. He didn't believe me. I got his attention and then 'touched' the stingray, which is why my fingers/hand look a little funny. So, this is for camera purposes only.


This is me holding the stingray. I got talked into it, but I would do it again in a heartbeat!


Brandon holding 'Rhonda' too.



Towards the end, the trainer was showing us fun things. Like when you hold a stingray up out of the water, they spray water out of all of the holes. Unfortunately this is the underwater camera, so it didn't click fast enough. This was super funny though.



The beach.

Say cheese for the camera.


A trail on the island.


Pirate's cove sign.

Sunset from the cruise ship before we departed.




CONCH

On our excursion to the Grand Bahamas in Freeport, our taxi driver Leonard, drove us to a little straw market where his cousin worked. She had a little stand where she would make all sorts of dishes with conch. Conch (pronounced 'konk') is a traditional Bahamian food, eaten grilled or raw.


In order to get this animal out of it's shell, you have a put a little hole in the shell. She used a hammer.


A look at it's eye balls.


Once you have a little hole, you can pull it out of it's shell, like this:





There is very little that they discard. They use almost every part of this creature.

Here she is slicing and chopping the conch to make a salad. It is cured with lime.


What does it taste like? We had a salad that was VERY spicy. It tasted rubbery, kind of like clams . . . (Are you surprised that I tasted it???)

This definitely was a highlight. My only regret: not videotaping the whole thing!!!

Friday, November 20, 2009

1st STOP - FREEPORT

(Long post, but I think that you will enjoy.)

The first day waking up on the ship, I wasn't sure how I was going to like it. Brandon went to his conference meetings and I decided that I should go to the gym and work out a bit and then go to the hot tub.

Here is one picture of the sunrise that morning. Beautiful, isn't?


The top of our cruise ship.
Another good shot of the cruise ship.

And a 'stock' picture of the Norwegian Sky.


Arriving at the port. Here is another cruise ship next to us.

This was a very commercialized, industrial city.



We then ate lunch and went off the ship to the first stop on our vacation - The Grand Bahama island - Freeport. I have to tell you that this was one of the funnest times for me. We were 'recruited' by 2 other couples to negotiate with a taxi driver to take us on a tour. We negotiated for $20 per person, which turned out to be a great adventure. The 2 other couples also happened to be on Wireless Without Limits Cruise as well, so that was fun.

The driver's name was Leonard, and he was very enjoyable to listen to. Infact you don't already know, the people of the Bahamas are more 'American' than those of Miami. He gave us so much information about the history and everything, I really quite enjoyed it! One of the things that we learned was about the Bahamian flag.


The black triangle represents the unity of the people, the 2 aquamarine stripes represent the sea, and the 1 yellow stripe represents the sand.

First pictures are the devastation from the hurricane of 2005 (Hurricane Wilma) that tore through this island. These are pine trees. 4 years later, you can still tell the damage that had once been done and how long nature takes to repair itself.



Some of the buildings walking out to the beach. They are all really colorful.



The building next to the beach.


Me on the beach.


Brandon making 'whooshing' noises as he heads out to get wet again.





No beach pictures are complete without toes in the sand pictures.



Last on our stop was the 2 most exclusive homes on the island. The first is the guy that owns the pizza place on the island.


The second owns the KFCs and Burger Kings on the island. He was a smart guy who bought up tons of land for $2 an acre (if I remember correctly) and is now selling them for millions.


Beautiful, isn't it? My next post will be about the little straw market that we visited in Freeport. Stay tuned!