Thursday, November 20, 2008


Well, Jeff and I are back from our cruise where we celebrated our 20th Anniversary. We went on Carnival's Ecstasy and really enjoyed ourselves.

The main thing we kept hearing about was THE FOOD on cruises. Jeff & I enjoy high-quality food, and we were definitely NOT disappointed. You get to choose between eating at self-serve buffets to quality restaurants where you are seated and served your choice of appetizers and entrees' or room service if you preferred. Here's what I had for my entrees' each night:

  • Night 1 - Flounder (Jeff had Duck)

  • Night 2 - Lobster & Shrimp

  • Night 3 - Chateau Briand

  • Night 4 - Turkey

  • Night 5 - Salmon (Jeff had Lamb)

Keep in mind that this is just the entree' and you usually had about 5 to choose from. They were totally okay with choosing more than one appetizer, so in addition to this you had a delicious appetizer (or two) as well! The yummiest thing was the Chocolate Melting Cake and I plan on finding a recipe to try out soon! For breakfast we had DELICIOUS Eggs Benedict.

There was quite a bit of entertainment to choose from - shows, dancing, casino, music, tea time and seminars like ice sculpting and scrapbooking. Our first stop was in Cozumel which was lots of fun. The excursions were cancelled because of high winds and choppy waters, but we found a small beach and were able to relax and go snorkling. I wasn't as impressed with our second port stop in Progreso, so "next time" we will probably take the 4 day cruise with only the stop in Cozumel.

Our main goal on this cruise was to REST, and unfortunately, that goal was not met. Our room was an interior room, meaning it was located on the interior part of the ship vs. a room with a window. There were loud banging noises intermittently on one of the walls and the crew was unable to pinpoint where it was coming from. It didn't help that every time we called them it stopped, so they never got to hear it themselves. Needless to say, we didn't get a great night's sleep while away. They were very gracious and gave us an onboard credit for our purchases while on the cruise, so I was grateful for that. I also need to mention that photographs are a BIG source of revenue on these boats - they're always taking your picture and also provide various stations with a variety of backdrops and each night they post these pictures for you to review and purchase if you desire. The photo above was my disembarkment at Cozumel and I have more to come!

If you're thinking of a fun getaway with your honey, I would highly recommend a cruise. It took me a little while to get over the gaudy casino-like feel to the ship, but I enjoyed the quality time I was able to spend with Jeff. It was nice to stop everything and intentionally invest in our marriage. I feel so blessed to have a husband like Jeff!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I'm ready! I'm ready! I'm ready!

Okay - I'm SO ready to go on Saturday! Jeff and I are celebrating our 20th anniversary and are going on a 5 day cruise to Mexico. This is a trip we planned since early this year, before fostering and before my broken ankle. I'm not looking forward to it so much for the entertainment aspect of it, but for the rest. I'm tired. Emotionally, I need a break and time to pray and meditate on how to best impact our foster daughter's life. I have a few books I'm bringing with me that may help with practical advice.

I'm glad Jeff and I will have this chance to spend time together without the distractions of work, school, kids and all the noise that goes along with that. This has been a hard semester on us - Jeff is finishing up his last semester at UH taking classes every M-Th evening in addition to teaching. That leaves me to be the one juggling the kids' needs and schedules - and that's in addition to working full time. We have prayed about and decided that at the first of the year, I will change my employment status with Apartment Life back to part time (after being full time for 2 years). I can't wait to be able to have more time to invest in my family's life and am looking forward to spending more time with friends that I feel like I've put on hold for the past 2 years. This change is an answer to prayer! Who knows - I may even find time to sew some drapes for our own home next year!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


I couldn't believe it when I was filling up at Sam's yesterday and noticed the price of gas - $1.84! I just read that oil is now under $60 a barrel, so hopefully that will stay level for a while so we can enjoy these prices for a little while longer. I remember only a few years ago people were freaking out because it was going over for $40 a barrel. I found this chart that shows how sharply the cost of oil had jumped in the past year:

This chart shows average gas prices since 1976

It will be interesting to see what happens next - any thoughts?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Can You Do This?

I didn't know too much about being a foster parent until about a year ago - that's when some friends of ours were going through the process and I was so burdened to be a part of this incredible ministry that we decided to begin the process to be approved Respite Foster Parents. Basically, if you are a foster parent and you need someone to watch your foster children for more than 72 hours, they need to go through the training and licensing process just like a foster parent. We wanted to be able to help out our foster parent friends in any way we can, then God orchestrated things where we were able to become foster parents ourselves, so here we are!

I'm wondering how many of you out there are wondering if this is something you should pursue? What better way to find out than to start out by providing respite care for another foster family. In case you didn't know, the state does provide a daily stipend to foster parents to reimburse you for costs associated with caring for a foster child. Any (good) parent knows that it costs $$ to raise a child, so that should remove the financial burden from your decision. Room may be another factor, but as long as the child has a minimum of 40 square feet in their bedroom designated for them, that should not be a problem, either.

I think most people's resistance comes from the inconvenience this will cause them and their families. Sure, you will have to deal with many new responsibilities such as: enrolling a new child in school, maintaining communication with their teachers, helping with report cards, feeding, clothing, transporting to family visits, doctor and dentist visits, etc... and sometimes you are also challenged and have to deal with detentions, them missing the bus, ISS (in school suspensions) and jealous biological children. So, sure, this does put a strain on my "free" time, but it's also fulfilling when you are making a visible difference in the life of a young person. Most importantly, God is using us to make an ETERNAL difference in their lives as well.

The foster care system is filled with too many low-income, unemployed, uneducated, unmarried or non-believing foster parents, so these precious children are usually going from one poverty situation to another. It's time for more working middle-class couples to step up and help change these children's lives, whether it's by fostering, providing respite care or by becoming a child advocate. There are alot of Child Placement Agencies out there to choose from, or you can go directly through CPS. We use Arrow Child & Family Ministries and have been pleased. Please email me if you'd like more information or if you want to visit our neighborhood to see if this is for you.