Sunday, June 26, 2016

26 June 2016 - Mexican Fun in the Sun, Youth Conference and more

Waiting for the plane to board.
What a fast week of fun this has been. Rebekah and I were driven to the airport at 3:45 in the morning to make sure that we didn't miss our 6:45 flight out to LA and then on the Puerto Vallarta. We were told to leave early since the people that left on Saturday missed their flight due to long lines even though they were there 2 hours early. Well, we were there in plenty of Dr. Marler's remaining office members and their plus 1 companions (spouses or family members) were there waiting. Most of them had breakfast at the airport but it was so very expensive and I didn't bring enough money for any extras so we munched on some granola bars and nuts that I had brought from home.

Nice to have familiar faces, including the Geddes family from the
Crestwood Ward, the Marler's with their 5 kids and the Warehams,
Jill and Mark.
 We finally loaded on the plane and then in LA we had to get off of the plane with all of our carry-on luggage that we brought with us even though we were going on the same plane to Puerto Vallarta. They said it was for security purposes. What a bother....
   When we stepped off the plane in Puerto it was very humid and warm. My glasses fogged up immediately. We had to walk through customs after getting our luggage and get a stamp at the border. The lady seemed very bothered that we were there. I just smiled because she was not going to make or break my day. It was a long walk through the airport and we were all split up. There was lots of people trying to get each group signed up for Taxi's or "adventures" and we were told just to keep walking.
Since the Marler's had 5 kids with them they took a lot longer than the rest of the group so Rebekah wanted to stay behind and make sure they knew where to go. I walked further down the aisle and outside just to find out where everyone else was and then I went back to wait with  Rebekah. We were told to move once by security since we were in a large glass doorway but everything else was open. At least it was slightly cooler where we were standing rather than being outside with the group. We made it into our 2van Taxis and drove to Nuevo Vallarta and the Villa Magna "Dreams" Resort.

View from inside our room looking out to the patio to the left.

The view from our room with the jacuzzi tub and patio.

The view from the balcony looking right. A hot tub at the end
of a large swimming pool.

View straight out from our room on the balcony. You can see the ocean in the distance.
We were assigned to Room 1404 and our luggage was taken up to the room. It was a nice room with a king size bed, couches, soaker tub, shower and an outside jacuzzi. The fridge was stocked with water bottles, pop and alcoholic beverages which were free of charge. We really didn't use much, only the water.
   Monday evening we tried a restaurant called The Patio which served mostly Mexican cuisine. Tuesday morning we ate breakfast at the buffet and then went swimming in the large pool outside. They set up a volleyball net and we played some surf volleyball with crazy rules against some of the Marler kids and Linda. We also attended a water aerobics class and just had fun in the water. We had used sunscreen prior to getting out in the sun but it didn't last very long and we were both burnt pretty badly the first day in the sun.
   Wednesday was our first excursion. We went snorkeling near Yelapa and then docked at the town and hiked to their water fall. The fish were all around the boat thanks to the fact that they fed them and it was fun to swim around all the fish. The falls were very lame but it was fresh water and I took a dip under the falls to get all the salt water off from the body.

Rebekah made sure her life vest was on.
On the way to Yelapa and the snorkeling adventure.
A selfie with Puerto Vallarta in the background.
The first step off at Yelapa. We are sun burned.
The falls in the background. There was a nice
little pool that the falls dropped into and you could
stand under the falls and "wash up".
On Thursday we went to las Caletas, the former home of John Houston the movie director and actor. He had a lovely compound built for vacationing with guests and he gave it to the country of Mexico. They use it as a tourist destination and it's very lovely. They had snorkeling, sea boarding, kayaking and more. I chose to avoid the sun and go to the cooking class. I'm glad I did because it was fun to see how they made some traditional foods but it was very hot and still mostly in the sun. I was getting pretty sick after so Rebekah made sure I was in the shade, sitting down and had ice water to cook me down. I really appreciated her care and concern.
The Entrance to Las Caletas.
Finding shade under a beach umbrella.

Seafood paella with a crab in the middle.
It's made with lots of spices, onion, fresh garlic,
saffron, turmeric, sea salt, and lots of rice
in a seafood base.
The chef added clams, mussels, shrimp, etc.
Next came the prawns...whole.

The final peppers, peas and olives.
Then the whole pan is covered with aluminum foil
and cooked for about 20 minutes to let the rice get soft.
It has to be basmati rice or a spanish type of rice
so it's doesn't get sticky.

We each got an apron and a chef's hat.
After the class on Paella we went to another location and divided up into stations and each station chopped and prepared a different part of the meal. The chef gave each station some tips on how to do the prep like a pro. I was at the guacamole station but I observed the ceviche station to see how you make a raw meat dish. It was very interesting. He said that if you are worried about eating raw food then just boil the meat for 2 minutes first and then put it in the lemon/lime juice to finish "cooking".
The finished meal with tostadas and tortilla chips to help
scoop up the ceviche, pico de gallo, salsa and guacamole.
Rebekah finishing up her meal with music in
the background.
 Friday was our last excursion and we were trying to leave the best for last. We were going to the Isla Murietas. A national park that had a beach in the center of the island that you could only access through a hole in the side of the island through the water. After we got there they said the Park was now protected and no one could walk of the beach etc. They said it was made a protected park in 2005 so we were really bummed at the false advertising. We did stay with the tour to the island but we couldn't do anything to close to land. The snorkeling was a bust since the waves were too strong that it churned up sand from the bottom and you couldn't see more than 4 feet in front of you. I did try out a kayak that was fun and I went on the "bird tour" which took use to the "blow holes" that you could see from the skiff that we were in. I did see a blue-footed Booby bird which was interesting as they are only there and on the Galapagos Island. It was educational but not what we were expecting.
Early morning on the ocean.

A selfie on the way to the Isla.
Kayaking close to the Island.

The white on the walls of the island was bird poop.

Saturday was our last opportunity to jump into the pool. We had to be out of our room by 12:00.  When we arrived at the airport the plane that we were to fly on hadn't left LA and would be 3 hours late. We knew that we would miss our connection to Seattle so when I made it to the check in I told the gentleman that they needed to find a flight to somewhere else so that we could get back to Seattle since Rebekah had to play the piano for the choir performance on Sunday. He was soooo stressed. There were lots of people in the same situation and they needed to get flights for everyone. They ended up putting us on a flight that gave us 45 minutes to make it through LAX immigration and Border patrol, another security check and to the gate for the next flight. We almost didn't make it. What an adventure!!! 
   Stephen and Samuel  had been very busy this whole week with Youth Conference. They had a thunderstorm and rain, picked lots of strawberries and raspberries, mowed the lawn and helped out with youth conference. 
Kent Stake Youth at the White River Ampitheater for Youth Conference. Samuel is in the front left hand side. 

Sunday, June 19, 2016

19 June 2016 - Happy Father's Day!!!

This week has been busy with two special birthdays on the same day. HAPPY BIRTHDAY Rebekah and HAPPY 3rd BIRTHDAY Gracie!!! What fun to have two special people share the same day!
Monday Samuel had a double header basketball game. They won one and lost one. He played in the second game but didn't score. He had a great time! That evening we went to the Mitchell's home for a graduation party for their oldest son Ben. The served chicken salad sandwiches and Pulled Pork just like Ben & Carli's wedding open house. They really like the food there and asked for the recipes. It was fun to share and know that it was a hit.
Tuesday was picking strawberries, watering yard while Stephen worked on the chicken coop.  That evening Rebekah came by and we went out to dinner at Olive Garden. The gave her an awesome dessert and we splurged with an order of those little doughnut treats with sauce. (Vinay really enjoyed those.)
The birthday girl.
The special plate with a dessert just for  Rebekah.
The lucky ones that got to celebrate with Rebekah on her special day!
 Wednesday was much of the same in the morning but that evening was Young Men and Stake meetings for Stephen. I worked on cleaning up the pix in the office and emptying out cloth and clothes. We're trying to thin down and organize so we can get ready for the family in July!!!  ;-)
Thursday we spent the morning and most of the afternoon at Rebekah's place. That was her birthday present. She wanted her lawn mowed and her craft room organized. There was tons of things to do and organize. Stephen worked outside and I helped Rebekah inside. It looked pretty good when we left but more still had to be done. She's excited to have guests this July.
Craft room organized on the left.

Craft room organized on the right.

 Craft room organized down the middle.

Rebekah's yard got a trim and weeds pulled. Go Daddy!
Friday the chicken coop was done, painted and set up in the backyard for the chickens. We had to teach them how to use the watering system that was automatic and stephen made a handy feeder that we can fill and they don't scratch it out onto the ground. It's pretty nifty. Stephen wanted to leave the rooster out of the chicken coop and let him fend for himself since he eats most of the feed but he's in there with them for now.
Friday was the last day of school for Samuel. That meant that it was a half day and he came home early. He seemed a little bored for the remainder of the day but he survived.
Friday evening the Spanish Branch had a farewell for a sister missionary. They do a whole program and then have a meal after. The sandwiches were a chicken salad variety and then they had two cakes available. They were Tres Leche cakes in Chocolate with Caramel and Vanilla with Raspberry filling. They were the moistest cakes I've ever had. I had to ask who made them and they mentioned a Mexican market in Kent, La Huerta. I've been there before but I didn't know they sold cakes. We'll have to try one when everyone is here... ;-)
We bottled up two more batches of strawberry jam but this time I made sure to follow the recipe exactly and it turned out perfectly. The jars look wonderful and I water bathed them afterward so they'll last a long time. Besides strawberries, the raspberries are coming on and there are some blueberries that are ripening along with cherries on both the sweet cherry tree and the pie cherry tree.
Saturday I went to work and had some needy patients. It's interesting to see how people react so differently to having By the time I was done I drove home and quickly changed clothes so we could make the ward temple session at 5:00. The traffic was crazy but we made it on time. After the session, we had to hurry home to take Samuel to the Welch's home where they invited him to watch a movie and play games. Dale and Margaret Smith were talking with us at the temple and we invited them to choose a restaurant to continue the conversation and they chose Nikki's lounge in Covington. It was quiet when we got there but at 9:00 they started a band and very loud music so we left for the house after a nice meal. It was just too noisy to talk. We picked up Samuel at 11:00 so we were in bed late and we had early church.
Today is Father's Day - HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!!! Stephen was able to talk with Ben on Google chat. It was 10:30 at night in London and Ben and Carli both looked pretty tired. It was so nice to see them as well as hear from them. I thought it would be great to do that with all the kids but so far Stephen has just had phone calls (which have been wonderful). Stephen was able to talk with his dad also. So it's been a nice day. Of course I fixed Roast Beef and mashed potatoes for dinner (along with asparagus and carrots) to go with the rolls that Stephen bought at Sam's Club. (He wanted to try them out). We also had fresh raspberries and Rebekah brought some Krispy Kreme doughnuts over for breakfast. Stephen bought himself a hitch for his truck since I didn't have time to buy him anything. Rebekah also bought him a book and a CD of piano music by Jason Lyle Black, his nephew. He seems pretty happy so it was a successful Father's Day.
Now Rebekah and I are getting ready to abandon Stephen and Samuel for the week. This coming week is a Youth Musical Pageant and Samuel is in it and Stephen will be helping out all day, so they will be very busy.
Hopefully everyone is busy in service and building the kingdom of God. Eternal blessings come with that kind of work... ;-)

Monday, June 13, 2016

12 June 2016 - Birthdays and Harvests

   Another week has flown by. It is truly amazing at how fast time has marched to a double time beat. If it doesn't slow down the end will be much sooner than expected (to many relieved hearts).
Last Sunday night, Cory, Jarom, Josiah, Kimball and two dogs (Ellie & Cinder) showed up for a vacation/work week. Susan was working 5 twelve hour days and Cory had to finish up his school assignments online and with the kids out of school they needed some activities to help give Cory some quiet time. Stephen was thrilled to oblige. (This "retirement" thing is such a blessing). They came just as we were headed to Seminary graduation so by the time we got back home, both Kimball and Josiah were in bed. Rebekah was here to help out as hostess in our absence.
   Monday morning I had a 5:30 AM Seminary meeting. They are starting a new emphasis on Doctrinal Mastery rather than on Scripture Mastery. I'm not sure how it changes things but we did receive 11 new lessons along with the New Testament manuel for next year. I know that this will be a great change for the youth because the "world" is pushing farther and farther away from truth.
   Stephen took Samuel to school before I got home. He then went to the temple to do volunteer work so I fixed a birthday breakfast for Jarom (he turned 13 on the 6th of June - HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!)  and the rest of the family without him there. I had scheduled my Visiting Teaching prior to hearing of the kids arrival so I left before Stephen got home. It seemed as though we were just "passing ships in the night". While I was gone, Stephen and Cory took the kids to Enchanted Village for Jarom's birthday. They got home after Samuel arrived home from school and we had a birthday dinner of pepperoni pizza (for them) with asparagus (for me) and cake and ice cream. The younger two went to bed while we played games with Jarom and Cory. Rebekah won at Qwerkle but it was close.

Riding together on the roller coaster.

Kimball didn't want to use her hands on the "Frog".

Waiting in line to go on the upside down ride.

Josiah went several times by  himself before Stephen attempted to ride.
Stephen got sick during the upside-down motion.

   Tuesday Stephen took the kids to the ferry. They made a stop at the Narrows Bridge to walk across it which made the trip longer...good thinking. They saw a submarine and went to a museum. They had lots to talk about when they got back. I had promised them to go to the dollar theater but by the time they got home we decided to have a movie night here with a new movie and popcorn. They had already seen Zootopia but we hadn't and Cory said that it was fine to see again so I popped up some fresh popcorn and we had a Movie Night. Not bad for a cartoon movie....
The walk is about a mile long one way....
Crossing the Narrows bridge.
Checking out the Naval shipyard.

Submarine docked for repair work.

Lots to see in Bremerton.
   Wednesday we picked strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, kale and collard greens along with some herbs, peppermint, thyme, sage and rosemary to send with Cory for Susan. The strawberries and starting to come on pretty well. And we canned 2 batches of strawberry syrup (should have been jam but I put too much fruit in the recipe). They left right after an early lunch and Stephen and I started to finish up dejunking the upper rooms. I filled 5 large black plastic bags for DI and there is till more to do. It's a nice feeling to get things organized and cleaned out. That night Samuel had Young Men and they went to Meridian Elementary to play "capture the flag" which Samuel really enjoyed. His leaders brought him home so I didn't have to stop working on the clean up.
   Thursday I had to work at the hospital. They have made it so I have to pick up shifts to keep my job. I look at it as part of my Social Security since I don't have any retirement. The shift was alright with 3 moms and 3 babies. Mostly just running here and there. I did get to give them all the babies baths since that hadn't been done yet. That's one of my favorite things to Stephen stayed home and worked on a project that he has going. A new chicken coop. We purchased 4 chicks that were all suppose to be hens. Well one of them is a rooster. He is starting to try and crow and it is rather funny. It's more like a croak. Between watering the dry plants and working on the coop, Stephen stayed busy.
Note the chicken with the bright waddle...that's the rooster.

A new coop with removable trays for easy cleaning.
   Friday I fertilized many of the plants out in front. I watered them and weeded lots. It seems to take more effort just weeding than anything. Thankfully the green garden waste recycling went out on Thursday so we have more room in the container to put more weeds. That afternoon we left to pick up Kappy Baranet (the new member) and her father to go to Mormon Night and the Mariner's Baseball game. They had free T-shirts and fireworks that night. It was fun. The Mariner's played the Texas Rangers, who are currently in first place, and they actually won. It wasn't too boring like some games can be. Of course the fireworks were the best part but they were after the game which ended after 10;00 and we didn't get home until after midnight so it was harder getting up for work on Saturday morning.

BFFs at the Mariner's Mormon Night
Beka, Samuel and Mom at the MMN.
Kappy and her dad went with us.
We were early.

Selfies are not easy to take.

Had some stake young adults take an upshot...

Another shot with the field at Safeco Field.

Fireworks set to music with a words on the board

   Saturday, I went to work with everyone else in bed. At least it was very light outside as the sun comes up very early now. Work was too bad. I had a patient that delivered early and I did the recovery and postpartum care for her. It was her 2nd baby but she had lots of questions since her son was 4 years old. Meanwhile Stephen stayed home to work on the chicken coop but instead he was called to help out Dale Smith (the bishop after his release) to put up trusses for a brother in our ward (Gary Balls) who had broken his arm and couldn't do the work himself. Stephen had been Br. Balls home teacher for awhile so he was glad to help out.
   By the time I got home, it was time to call Jenna for her birthday (the 11th of June) and have a wonderful conversation with an awesome daughter-in-law. They don't get any better than Jenna. Stephen was able to stop what he was doing and join in the conversation. We are so very blessed to have such a wonderful girl choose to join this crazy family!!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!
   Stephen was just starting to work on the chicken coop and I wanted to pick strawberries that were ready that evening. I tried to get Samuel to help but that was almost more work than just doing it myself. He did get some in his container. Then Vinay came to "help" but he ate more than he put in the container... Good thing there were lots to pick. When were were done picking I told Stephen that we were having a movie night with Vinay. He wanted to watch the new Star Wars Movie and that was his desire. We hadn't bought it yet but Stephen was OK with me going to get it so I dashed to WalMarts and then stopped at Wendy's for their deal of 4 for $4. Samuel had a dance at the Auburn Stake Center and he loves to go to those. Before he left, we had dinner and after Stephen took him, Vinay and I worked on the strawberries. We started the movie around 10:00 after we washed and packed all the berries for the freezer. It was a very late night again!
Some of the finished product.  Strawberry Jam that didn't set
makes great syrup for pancakes and waffles.
   Today was a wonderful Sabbath day but I must admit it was hard to stay awake, especially in RS. In the evening we went to a baptism in the Renton Spanish Branch. We saw Yesenia and her kids. She quit her job because they were taking advantage of her and wanting her to work more for less. With 5 kids to care for she'll need to find another job but she is grateful for the relief of not working right now.
   We are grateful for all the blessings that we enjoy. That's what happens when you pack each day with wonderful things. I hope everyone else is having some great times.