Thursday, December 25, 2008

My Christmas Surprise...

It's no secret that I just love Granny from the Beverly Hillbillies and in this blog I have often looked to her for inspiration. Well, guess what?

My daughter told me on Christmas Eve that I am going to be a granny!!! YYYYEEEAAAAA!!!!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

My Wish For You...

For every person that enjoys the magic of the holiday season; the hustle and bustle of the crowds, the parties, the laughter, the lights!, there are at least 3 more whose hearts and souls are bruised and hurting.

For so many across our country, especially right now, Christmas is a slap-in-the face reminder that they have lost their home to foreclosure, their jobs to a poor economy, or perhaps failing health (with possibly no insurance). Or worse yet, they're facing the holiday season without their loved one(s), whether it's because of death, the war, divorce or separation. If you're feeling sad, hopeless, desperate or scared, then my dear friend this is my Christmas wish for you:

If I could be with you now, I would insist that you sit down. Right there in my favorite chair.
See that blanket? Well, honey, I'd just insist that you take off your shoes, put your feet up and wrap up tight in that blanket. Now, you'd be all comfy and cozy while I would go to the kitchen and bring you back a nice, hot cup of chocolate

bubbling over with big, fat, fluffy marshmallows. Then I'd fill your tummy with my favorite frosted, star-shaped sugar cookies.

Since that's not possible here's what I'll do. Tonight, I will have three special candles on my table as a centerpiece.

One will be lit for those who are knowing economic hardships. (I don't know of any community that hasn't been affected by the economy.) The other will be lit for those who are serving our country - yes, our military, but also our Senators, Congressmen, and, of course our new President. The third candle will be in honor of lost loved ones.

After the candles are lit, we will clasp hands and lift each and everyone of you up to our Heavenly Father. The One who can be there with you. The One who will be there with you. And while I may not know you personally, He knows your every need.

At church we sing this song that goes "My Jesus knows just what I need. He satisfies and every need supplies. He knows just what I need."

Truer words have never been spoken (or sung).

I know what it is like to watch things fall apart and you scramble around like crazy trying to fix it, or trying to come up with the answers on your own. Sometimes there are no obvious answers and we need to just take a step back. Or better yet, just be still. As a matter of fact, the older I get, the more I understand the importance of Psalm 46:10

It is in these times of stillness that I am then able to reflect on what is truly important in my life.

This Christmas I thank God for the important blessings in my life. My family and my friends.

I hope that this Christmas season you not only find peace in your heart but you are able to realize your blessings, regardless of your circumstances.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a Good Night!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A few of my favorite....

If you'll notice to the right I've added a few of my favorite things - blogs that I love so much that I follow them on a daily basis! There are a few that I missed so if you're not on there that means I haven't discovered you yet, or I just didn't have the time to add everyone all at once. Either way - please let me know! There is one that I know of right off the bat and although I know her e-mail address I've forgotten her blog site address. Yes, Lisa Ann, I'm talkin' about you! (Lisa Ann is a fellow Virginian, good blog friend, and most important - a true country music fan!) She awarded me my very first Blog Award! (which I have not been able to figure out how to upload! ((sigh)).

One other item up for discussion: leaving comments will now be much easier. I get so many e-mails, but a lot of you don't want to leave comments on the blog for various reasons. Well, I've changed it to where you can simply click on the 'leave a comment' and you can post anonymously without leaving your e-mail address. I know this opens it up to where anyone can say whatever they want, which for the most part I welcome. I just ask that everyone keeps their language clean. Yes, the 'potty-mouth patrol' will be on duty!

And you don't want to make her mad, do you?? No, I didn't think so.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Please wish me a "Merry Christmas"

I really miss hearing those two sweet little words. We only have the opportunity to hear them or speak them a few weeks out of the year and now that our world is trying to be more 'politically correct' I'm finding that "Merry Christmas" is practically extinct. As a matter-of-fact, I haven't had anyone (yet) this year wish me a "Merry Christmas." Instead, I hear a lot of this....
which is okay. I know people mean well. But still... I love hearing "Merry Christmas!"

Have you ever noticed that it is impossible to say "MERRY CHRISTMAS" without smiling? Go ahead and try it - I dare you!!! See? You can't help but give a bit toothy grin, huh?

Growing up in my charming, storybook little town in the Missouri Ozarks we had absolutely no religious diversity. If you didn't go to the Baptist Church, Methodist, Holiness or Church of Christ, then you went to the Catholic Church. In Columbus (Mississippi) it was pretty much the same although my boss, Mr. Bernstein, affectionately known as Mr. B, was Jewish. He was such a sweet character - we all loved him. And he never, ever hesitated to wish us a Merry Christmas.

Here in the Nation's Capital our family has been exposed to plenty of diversity. Everything I had to learn about different cultures in my adult life will be second nature to my children and I'm grateful for that. They are learning sensitivity and political correctness at an early age.

Me? This may surprise you, but I've not really had any awkward moments in that regard. I've come to find that if you ask questions in a polite, unobtrusive manner people are more than willing to talkwith you about their beliefs and customs. Most of the time they appreciate your interest and the fact that they are getting the opportunity to share.

So, when exactly did "Merry Christmas" start being replaced with "Happy Holidays" and how do we bring it back? When I know that an acquaintance or co-worker celebrates a holiday such as Ramadan or Hanakuh I always make sure I acknowledge that particular holiday to them and let them know I'm thinking of them.

It's hard to recognize who celebrates what so I think that in being afraid to offend someone our nation (mostly city people) has gotten into the habit of taking the 'safe' route. However, I've asked my Jewish, Muslim and atheist friends if they are offended when someone 'accidentally' wishes them a "Merry Christmas." I have yet to find anyone who has said yes to that question.
And while I know the Good Book doesn't say that December 25th is Jesus' actual birthday, I still like to commemorate it as such. After all, if He hadn't been born, we couldn't have celebrated His death. For our family and so many other Christians around the nation and our world, Jesus is the reason for the season.
So, please, will someone wish me a "Merry Christmas"?

And I wish the same for you!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Tortola trip, Part II

Meet the captain (and our good friend, Brian.) He's been sailing and taking this trip for a long time so we were thrilled when he invited us along.

This is the view as we're leaving the marina and heading out to our first stop. Not having any idea what to expect, Brian explained that we'd be island hopping for the next 7 days. We'd go to shore at night for dinner and sleep on the boat. (Yay!)

Dinner at Norman Island the very first night. My honey is all the way down at the end on the left.These children were affectionately known as the "Genesis" kids. "Genesis" was the name of their boat and we caught up with them each night at every place we docked. They were adorable. Here they are dancing and enjoying the music at Norman Island.

And here we are the next night at "Marina Cay." Speaking of "Marina Cay", it has the most romantic story. It's too long to get into here, but I'll give you a few details and then you can google the rest of the story. Before WW II, aspiring author Robb White and his wife Rodie purchased a desserted Marina Cay for $65. They worked for many months to get running water and to build their home without any assistance from anyone else. Imagine the adventures they must have had. The story was made into a move in 1960 starring Sidney Poitier and John Cassavetes. The book and movie were titled "Our Virgin Island". White also wrote another book about their experience titled "Two on the Isle." Alas as life unfolds, the story doesn't necessarily have a happily-ever-after. No, he doesn't die at war. It's more complicated than that. But that's all I'm sayin'! You'll have to find out for yourself!
See that seat right there? That was mine the whole trip. I sat up there by myself every day and admired the most beautiful turquoise water I have ever seen in my life. Trust me, I got a loooot of thinkin' and problem-solvin' done on this trip. I almost can't wait (almost) to get back so I can make some much needed changes in my life.

We are coming up on Anegada Island. It took us almost all day to sail there. There are only 250 people that live there. Vegetation is almost non-existent. It's a desert. Very interesting and very pretty in it's own right. The Atlantic Ocean is on the other side of the island. It's not near as 'friendly' as the Carribean. On this side of Anegada, the waves beat angrily on the beach.

I think if you observe very closely and listen very carefully, beaches have a way of communicating with us. Some of them say, 'Here. Sit a spell. Don't do a thing. Just bask in my beauty. Dip your toe or come on in for a full swim." Others seem to say, "I'll provide answers to all life's problems. Just stay a here a while and clear your mind. I'll send a gentle wave to wash over your feet and keep you cool." The waves on the 'other' side of this island were very big and powerful as it slammed against the sand. The water, very intimidating seemed to convey the message, " Don't come in. Just go away and leave me alone." Okay, now you think I'm wierd, don't cha? (Just call me the 'water-whisperer.)

The next morning we traveled to Virgin Gorda. This island was completely different. While the others were all quaint and charming, VG was very glamorous. Here's the pool we lounged by all day. (No, the pool didn't 'talk' to me. I only communicate with big bodies of water, if you must know.)

We took a walk and stopped to sit in a gazebo - just for a short rest. Honestly. It was only going to be for a few minutes......
Well the next thing I knew it was about an hour later, so I grabbed my camera and took a picture of what the scenery looked like from my chaise lounge. Aaahh, I never wanted to leave that spot. Even now as I close my eyes if I try really, really hard I can hear the birds and the water splashing around us...

No matter where we go, animals (especially dogs) always find him. It's like he communicates with them telepathically and they know he loves them. Seriously. Stray dogs have been known to come up to him and not move until he pays attention to them. I'm going to start callin' him 'Doo', as in Dr. Doolittle.

After I snapped this picture I climbed into the hammock with him and took a nap in his arms.

Little Jost Van Dyke on the right and Jost Van Dyke on the left.

I didn't take any pictures of our 'wedding' with our camera. When our friend Julie sends them to us I'll post them!

I hope all is going well for everyone and you're enjoying the Christmas season!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

What a trip!!!

Question. Is it just me or was this the election year from Hades? I was soooo ready to leave the Washington area for a while. Elections are rough on everyone but when you know so many of the people that are up for election or re-election and you know the people who work on the campaigns, it can be really hard to listen to negative comments. It's very hard, at least for me, to not take it personally. So of course I was ecstatic about the timing of this trip. No news, no politics, no politicians....until I get on the plane at Dulles and who is sitting behind us? I mean right behind us? This man....

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

He recognized Honey and they started talking. He asked me if our trip was a special occasion. I smile as I glibly reply, "I'm trying to get away from Washington for a while, sir, but it just keeps following me." Ignoring the glaring look from Honey, I plopped down in the seat, grabbed the Washington Post and snapped it open. And who is on the front page? Um-hm. Yep.

It's him again, with Mrs. Pelosi. Hello?!? I want a break from all of this for just a few days. Is that too much to ask? With my luck, I thought, he's probably on the plane because he's meeting the rest of them in Tortola for some kind of 'retreat.' Maybe Mrs. P was going to be sitting in that empty seat beside him. Anyway, the other passengers started figuring out who he was and then everyone wanted to chat with him and give their opinion on the state of the country's affairs . Nope! Not this girl. I'm on vacation, thank you very much. I turn to tune everyone out and I start conversing with gentleman beside me. It took me about 5 minutes to realize the true hero on the plane was sitting beside us!

We were so engrossed in conversation that we forgot to ask his name!!! But here's what I know.... He's an Iraqi War veteran (Army) He had been to meetings at the Pentagon and was returning to Puerto Rico where he was stationed. It was just so interesting to listen to him. He has a deep passion for what he does and an immense passion and love for the United States. He truly loves being a soldier. He loves serving his country. So much so that when I asked him if he enjoyed being stationed in San Juan he said that this particular assignment was 'just a job' and that while most places he'd served he had felt a loyalty, he didn't feel that loyalty to Puerto Rico. Since Puerto Rico is US territory and the residents are US citizens I was a little confused. Inquiring minds want to know so I asked him why he felt that way. Apparently, the citizens want all the bells and whistles of US citizenship but, and I quote "they insist on flying the Puerto Rican flag over the American flag so they can kiss my a**." (Couldn't have said it better myself, soldier.) I love being an American myself, so when I see someone in service uniform or I know someone has made it their life's mission to serve us and protect us I almost become a blubbering fool. So I usually don't say anything at all. I want him to know how much we appreciate him and we are so incredibly blessed to have this man and others like him who take care of us. Thank you so much for all that you do!!! It was truly an honor to be seated next to you.

It was still dark when we left the house that morning and I forgot my shades. The airport in San Juan was so sunshiny and bright that my poor eyes wouldn't stay open. So, after leading me around the airport like a seeing eye dog, Honey bought me these nice pair of tortoise shell sunglasses. Aaahh, now I can see where I'm going.

The Jolly Roger Hotel - Tortola, British Virgin Islands

We stayed at the Jolly Roger in Tortola (West End). I definitely recommend it.

Please, allow me to introduce you to my alarm clock! He started his workday about 4 a.m.

It was dark when we rolled in, so imagine my delight and excitement when I stepped out of my room the next morning to this!!!


Kima made sure we were 'fed and watered' every morning! What a sweetheart! Meeting her was definitely a highlight of the trip. We had a whole day to see the island before we set sail the next morning, so she gave us a map and told us where all the best sight-seeing was. And most of all .....

where the best beach was. This was a perfect time to go! We had the whole place to ourself.
Tourists don't usually start showing up until a week or two after Thanksgiving.

We walked over to Soper's Hole and did a little shopping where we met Keith who has an awesome shop.

Keith is originally from South Africa. He and his brother own Blue Water Diver, Ltd. (

Keith has everything under the sun (and yes I brought some of those things back with me), but these bags were just a few of my favorite.

I mentioned to my new friend, Keith, that I thought I could be very happy living in Tortola. Everything moves at such a sloowww pace, the people are so friendly, the weather so beautiful... and ohmygosh! get this - NO TRAFFIC!!!! YES!!! He invited us to walk around and see the rest of Soper's Hole which we did. I thought the house above was as cute as it could be. I can see me living here. Can't you?

Okay, I'll admit I had absolutely no clue who this guy was. I just wanted to prove a point. Look at his shirt! A man after my own heart. Us country folk are everywhere!

Whew! All that shoppin', makin' new friends and frolickin' in the beach makes a girl thirsty. This young man made sure I was never without my drink of choice...

which is always Diet Coke. Straight up. On the rocks. (Sorry I'm not more exciting.)

Jay and Kathie Truitt

Our first day was fun. Tomorrow we meet up with our friends and set sail. Right now, though, I'm lovin' this man for bringing me to this beautiful place! Aren't we just the best couple?

My next post will be sailing pictures. What a life-changing trip!! More on that later.