Semi-formal Winter Country Dance

Saturday evening, a group of young people (mostly home schoolers or home school graduates) met at the Duck Club in Irvine for an evening of old country line dancing. Since this was Josiah’s first time, he was skeptical as to whether he’d enjoy himself. Of course, he had a GREAT time and said that he’d definitely come back.

Since there were (as always) more females than males, Jeri didn’t dance. Some of the girls/ladies danced as males to even things out.

Jeri, Josiah, and Tim at the Duck Club. Click photo for full size.
Line Dance at the Duck Club. Click photo for full size.

No prior dance knowledge or experience was required to participate. The Hendricks led the dances and always gave us thorough instruction before each one. They would walk us through it and then call out the moves during the dances (similar to a square dance).

Listening to instructions. Click photo for full size.

Run the River was a fun dance. Each group of four would eventually run down the river (the line of other dancers).

Run the River. Click photo for full size.

The Hand Jive required way too much coordination. It was a series of (seemingly simple) hand movements that were nearly impossible to repeat correctly.

Lizzie doing the Hand Jive. Click photo for full size.
Tim doing the Hand Jive. Click photo for full size.

Christmas Day 2018

We started with a Christmas Day service at 11:00 AM. We sang some Christmas carols, shared some stories of God’s blessings, and Pastor shared a Christmas message.

Back home, the women worked hard in the kitchen.

Jeri, Joanna, Nicole, and Grandma Stogdill working in the kitchen. Click photo for full size.
Sarah having a snack since Christmas dinner isn’t for a while. Click photo for full size.

Jeffrey got Jeri’s saxophone out of the attic and worked at playing it.

Jeffrey picking up Jeri’s saxophone for the first time. Click photo for full size.

Just before dinner, we took our family photo.

Joanna was helping Nicole get ready.

Joanna touching up Nicole’s lips. Click photo for full size.
Getting ready for our family photo. Click photo for full size.

Family photo 2018. Front: Nicole, Sarah, Joanna, Lizzie, Victoria, and Jeri. Back: Tim, Justin, Josiah, Grandma Stogdill, Jason, and Jeffrey.

Family photo 2018. Front Nicole, Sarah, Joanna, Lizzie, Victoria, and Jeri. Back Tim, Justin, Josiah, Grandma Stogdill, Jason, and Jeffrey. Click photo for full size.

A crazy version.

Crazy family photo 2018. Click photo for full size.

Finally around mid-afternoon, the food is ready!

Sarah and Jeri with plates of food. Click photo for full size.
Joanna, Sarah (by stove), Nicole, Lizzie, and Victoria. Click photo for full size.

Around the table starting in the lower left with Lizzie, Nicole, Jeffrey, Victoria, Justin, Grandma Stogdill, Jeri, Joanna, Jason, Josiah, Sarah, and Tim.

Around the table starting in the lower left with Lizzie, Nicole, Jeffrey, Victoria, Justin, Grandma Stogdill, Jeri, Joanna, Jason, Josiah, Sarah, and Tim. Click photo for full size.

Jeri, Nicole, Sarah, Victoria, and Lizzie went to Eileen Bouma’s to wish her a Merry Christmas. Sarah and Victoria finally returned around 5:30 PM after which we could open presents.

Opening presents. Click photo for full size.

Justin got a Cole Porter songbook for Christmas. Here he’s playing from it. Jeffrey sings along.

Justin playing and Jeffrey singing out of Justin’s new Cole Porter songbook. Click photo for full size.
Jason, Lizzie, Joanna, and Nicole playing Forbidden Island while Justin and Jeffrey are at the piano. Click photo for full size.

Here’s a video montage that runs about 1 minute 18 seconds.

Christmas Eve 2018 and Celebrating Lizzie’s Birthday

Tim, Jeri, Grandma Stogdill, Sarah, Jeffrey, and Lizzie went to Westminster Mall in the morning. We got hungry so Grandma treated us to pretzels.

Sarah, Lizzie, and Jeffrey at Westminster Mall. Click photo for full size.
Having pretzels at Westminster Mall. Click photo for full size.

Josiah was a master chef and created a swan from an apple.

Josiah with his swan created from an apple. Click photo for full size.

Holland is back from Texas and is visiting her family. So she and Josiah played together.

Josiah playing with Holland. Click photo for full size.

We celebrated Lizzie’s birthday one day late. We had apple crisp instead of cake.

Celebrating Lizzie’s Birthday. Click photo for full size.

Jason entertained us with his phone by applying Facebook filters which added hilarious features to people’s faces.

Here are some of the videos that he made.

Here’s a video montage of the day.

Christmas Recital 2018

Normally our church’s Christmas recital is in early December. But our vacation caused it to be pushed back (to Lizzie’s birthday).

Victoria, Sarah, and Joanna sang a beautiful arrangement of The First Noel.

Jeffrey played bass guitar with the guys on What Child Is This and Angels We Have Heard on High.

The youth ensemble created their own Christmas medley.

Because it was Lizzie’s birthday, Jeffrey asked everyone to join in singing Happy Birthday to her.

Everyone singing Happy Birthday to Lizzie. Click photo for full size.

After the recital, we gathered in the fellowship hall for food and refreshments.

Lizzie and Christeen. Click photo for full size.
Joanna, Nicole, Sarah, and Victoria. Click photo for full size.
Jeffrey, Grandma Stogdill, Jeri, and Justin. Click photo for full size.
Jason and Tim. Click photo for full size.
Josiah and Joshua. Click photo for full size.
Joanna, Nicole, Victoria, Kristie T., Maureen M., Joanna T., and Sarah. Click photo for full size.

Souplantation with Grandma Stogdill

Grandma Stogdill is visiting us this Christmas for a week. She’ll get to celebrate two birthdays (Lizzie’s and Josiah’s) plus Christmas plus hear some of her grandchildren perform in the Christmas recital at church.

Josiah was initially a little discouraged because he was still full from a big lunch at Carlitta’s Diner. But later he got going and had five or six empty bowls on his tray.

Grandma, Jason, and Josiah. Click photo for full size.
Nicole, Joanna, Victoria, Jeffrey, and Sarah. Click photo for full size.
Nicole, Joanna, Lizzie, and Justin. Click photo for full size.
Jeri and Tim at Souplantation. Click photo for full size.

End of Carribean Cruise and Back in Fort Lauderdale

So we chose self debarkation. That meant that we had to carry off our own luggage but it also meant that we didn’t have to pack up the night before. That was so much nicer. So finally on our last day, we used the elevator to get our luggage up to deck 3.

Since we had enough time to enjoy breakfast, we got a made-to-order omelette with mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, spinach, arugula, bell peppers, and some cheddar cheese. Yum!

Made-to-order omelette with fruit and toast. Click photo for full size.

For our last evening with Aunt Vivian, she treated us to burgers at BurgerFi.

Jeri, Aunt Vivian, and Tim outside BurgerFi. Click photo for full size.

They had some vegan options. Jeri got the BEYOND BURGER: 100% Plant-Based Beyond Burger® From Beyond Meat®, American Cheese, Ketchup, Mustard, Mayonnaise, Lettuce, Tomato, Pickles, Onions. Tim got the VEGEFI BURGER: Crispy Quinoa + Fresh-Cut Veggie Burger, White Cheddar, Lettuce, Tomato, BurgerFi Sauce on a Multigrain Bun.

Vegan burgers and fries at BurgerFi. Click photo for full size.

Aunt Vivian got a “real” burger plus she shared one of their chocolate shakes.

Aunt Vivian at BurgerFi. Click photo for full size.

Pre-Carribean Cruise 2018
Carribean Cruise Day 1 – Leave Fort Lauderdale
Carribean Cruise Day 2 – At Sea
Carribean Cruise Day 3 – Grand Turk
Carribean Cruise Day 4 – At Sea
Carribean Cruise Day 5 – Curacao
Carribean Cruise Day 6 – Aruba
Carribean Cruise Day 7 – At Sea
Carribean Cruise Day 8 – At Sea
End of Carribean Cruise and Back in Fort Lauderdale
Carribean Cruise Photos

Carribean Cruise Photos

Carnival has a lot of photographers taking pictures when we are at port as well as in the evenings. We purchased a few of them.

Red background. Click photo for full size.
At the piano. Click photo for full size.
Cruise photo. Click photo for full size.
In front of our ship. Click photo for full size.
In the hall. Click photo for full size.

Pre-Carribean Cruise 2018
Carribean Cruise Day 1 – Leave Fort Lauderdale
Carribean Cruise Day 2 – At Sea
Carribean Cruise Day 3 – Grand Turk
Carribean Cruise Day 4 – At Sea
Carribean Cruise Day 5 – Curacao
Carribean Cruise Day 6 – Aruba
Carribean Cruise Day 7 – At Sea
Carribean Cruise Day 8 – At Sea
End of Carribean Cruise and Back in Fort Lauderdale
Carribean Cruise Photos

Carribean Cruise Day 8 – At Sea

Saturday morning, we head to the gym. After our 20-minute aerobic workout, we switch to weights. John, who we met and talked with the day before, helped us and his wife workout on four weight machines.

We enjoyed getting some instruction and encouragement on using the machines. As the four of us took turns on each machine, we got to know each other. John’s a retired military veteran; Linda graduated with her law degree at age 60 and is now a lawyer. Amazing! Plus they’ve been married 46 years!

Here’s a picture of the four of us.

Jeri, John, Linda, and Tim in the gym. Click photo for full size.

Then it was our normal fruit, shower for Tim, and lunch. Today they had the Chocolate Extravaganza which featured maybe eight or more different chocolate cake plus a chocolate fountain and more. We chose the chocolate cheesecake and the chocolate pecan cake.

Dessert at the Chocolate Extravaganza. Click photo for full size.

Jeri took her shower after lunch. Then we relaxed. Later in the afternoon, we walked around to check our photos. Also we were hoping to see Donato and Maria. And we did run into them!

We went up on the upper deck to see the sunset.

Final sunset on the cruise. Click photo for full size.

Next was our final dinner on the ship. Jeri’s appetizer was a Caprese Salad – Tomato and fresh mozzarella, balsamico, virgin olive oil and basil.

Caprese salad. Click photo for full size.

Cinnamon pumpkin cheese pie with glazed cherry tomatoes and cheese puffs.

Cinnamon pumpkin cheese pie. Click photo for full size.

For dessert, they brought out flaming baked Alaska. Jeri had a slice. Tim had the melting chocolate cake.

Baked Alaska. Click photo for full size.

We said good bye to our servers: Nikola from Macedonia, Dmitriy from Belarus, Pujiasih from Indonesia.

Nikola, Jeri, Tim, and Dmitriy. Click photo for full size.
Jeri, Dmitriy, Pujiasih, and Tim. Click photo for full size.

That evening, we caught two performances of the band along with the horn trio. We also finalized our photo purchases. We really liked how the photos were digitally retrieved and browsed.

Smooth Operators and WorldTown Sound. Click photo for full size.

Fauzan was our Stateroom Steward. He was exceptionally friendly. Starting the very first day, he would greet us by name. Sometimes in the morning, we’d hear him call “Good morning, Tim and Jeri” from down the hallway.

With Fauzan, our Stateroom Steward. Click photo for full size.

Here’s a picture with a display of our favorite photos. Because they took a lot of good ones, it was hard to decide.

Viewing our photos. Click photo for full size.

Pre-Carribean Cruise 2018
Carribean Cruise Day 1 – Leave Fort Lauderdale
Carribean Cruise Day 2 – At Sea
Carribean Cruise Day 3 – Grand Turk
Carribean Cruise Day 4 – At Sea
Carribean Cruise Day 5 – Curacao
Carribean Cruise Day 6 – Aruba
Carribean Cruise Day 7 – At Sea
Carribean Cruise Day 8 – At Sea
End of Carribean Cruise and Back in Fort Lauderdale
Carribean Cruise Photos

Carribean Cruise Day 7 – At Sea

Friday started the same as most of the days: gym, plate of fruit (with some pastry), shower, then a trip to the buffet for salad and more.

Today’s lunch menu included cauliflower with green tahini (we both loved it), broccoli mac-and-cheese arancini (deep-fried panka-coated arancini stuffed with broccoli and cheddar).

Lunch salads including cauliflower with green tahini (in the back). Click photo for full size.
Broccoli mac-and-cheese arancini. Click photo for full size.

For dessert, Tim had a slice of chocolate chip cake and Jeri had a slice of key lime cake.

Chocolate chip cake. Click photo for full size.
Key Lime cake. Click photo for full size.

We listened in on a question and answer time with our cruise director, Leigh. He told a number of interesting stories of life on a cruise ship.

Q and A with Leigh Xueres our Cruise Director. Click photo for full size.

After a relaxing afternoon, we get dressed up for “elegant night.” We stopped at a number of photo stations. Then at 6:00 pm, we head to dinner.

We started with stuffed mushrooms (stuffed with spinach and Romano cheese). Absolutely amazing!

Stuffed mushroom appetizer. Click photo for full size.

Tim’s entree was spiral pasta with a creamy mushroom sauce.

Spiral pasta with creamy mushroom sauce. Click photo for full size.

Jeri had spanakopita (a Greek pie with layers of phyllo dough, spinach, and tomato) and a couscous-stuffed bell pepper.

Spanakopita. Click photo for full size.

For dessert, we each had amaretto cake (chocolate and almond) with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. We keep telling ourselves “Too much food, too little appetite.”

Amaretto cake. Click photo for full size.

We caught Jim McCue for a PG comedy show. Although the show was officially a repeat, he spends most of his show interacting with audience members. He’ll come up with funny lines based on their home state, occupation, family/marital situation, and more. (Jeffrey Jena does the same.)

Here’s a picture of us with Jim McCue.

With Jim McCue after his show. Click photo for full size.

We also caught Jeffrey Jena’s PG comedy show at 9:30. All new material and lots of laughs!

Pre-Carribean Cruise 2018
Carribean Cruise Day 1 – Leave Fort Lauderdale
Carribean Cruise Day 2 – At Sea
Carribean Cruise Day 3 – Grand Turk
Carribean Cruise Day 4 – At Sea
Carribean Cruise Day 5 – Curacao
Carribean Cruise Day 6 – Aruba
Carribean Cruise Day 7 – At Sea
Carribean Cruise Day 8 – At Sea
End of Carribean Cruise and Back in Fort Lauderdale
Carribean Cruise Photos

Carribean Cruise Day 6 – Aruba

Thursday was our last port day with a stop in Aruba. With the ship due to arrive around 8:00 am and our excursion meeting at 8:30 am, we start our day at 7:00 am.

While Jeri gets ready and pretty, Tim goes up to the buffet and gets a big breakfast. Then we eat in our room.

Breakfast in our room. Click photo for full size.

Because we’re (thankfully) not getting on the water this time, we don’t have to coat ourselves with sunscreen. This tour is in an air-conditioned bus.

Our first stop was the California Lighthouse on the north side of the island. We paid $5 each to climb to the top of the lighthouse.

California Lighthouse on Aruba. Click photo for full size.

Here we are at the top of lighthouse. It was very windy!

Jeri and Tim at the top of the California Lighthouse. Click photo for full size.
View from the top of the California Lighthouse. Click photo for full size.

Our next stop was where we were shuttled by boat to the vessel that had underwater windows.

Preparing to board the vessel with underwater windows. Click photo for full size.

Here we are waiting at a dock for the boat to shuttle us out to the wreck area.

Waiting for the boat to shuttle us. Click photo for full size.

Here we are heading out to the shipwreck. Our friend, Maria, is sitting next to Jeri.

Heading out to the SS Antilla shipwreck. Click photo for full size.

Donato and Maria who were our dinner table partners for the first two nights were on the same tour. Here’s a picture of us in the sightseeing vessel, sitting below deck.

Jeri, Maria, Donato, and Tim below deck. Click photo for full size.

Here we saw the sunken remains of the German ship, Antilla. Our guide told us its history. We saw lots of fish, some scuba divers, some snorkelers, as well as the ship. Unfortunately the pictures don’t have much detail.

SS Antilla. Click photo for full size.

We also noticed the living barnacles on our ship.

Barnacles on our vessel. Click photo for full size.

After our viewing, we transferred back to the boat that took us back to land and the bus. Just above Jeri’s right shoulder is a boat which they use for pirate shows. And to the left of that you can see the California Lighthouse which was our first stop of the day.

Heading back from the SS Antilla shipwreck. Click photo for full size.
Approaching the dock. Click photo for full size.

Back on the bus, we traveled to the Natural Bridge. Due to erosion, the bridge collapsed in 2005. So we saw its remains and the “baby bridge.”

Baby Bridge. Click photo for full size.

Because we were now on the north coast which is the windward side of the island, the waves crashed pretty hard on the rocks.

Wave crashing on Aruba. Click photo for full size.

Our final stop on the bus was the Casibari rock formation. We climbed to the top of the formation. We could see our cruise ship.

View from Casibari rock formation. Click photo for full size.
Descending the Casibari rock formation. Click photo for full size.

There were some tall cacti in the area.

Tim next to tall cactus. Click photo for full size.

We were back on the ship around 1:30 pm or so. We went straight up to the buffet for another yummy lunch with a variety of salads plus a grilled tofu and vegetable dish and a pastry that had kale and mushrooms.

Yummy salad. Click photo for full size.

We finished with Black Forest Cake and Apple Crumble Cake.

Black Forest Cake and Apple Crumble Cake with coffee. Click photo for full size.

We went to our room to rest. However because they were painting the outer hull of the ship and because we were on deck 1 (people were exiting and entering the ship on deck 0), we had paint smell in our room. So we ended up reading and resting in the library.

Here’s a picture of an empty Renoir Restaurant during the day. (Our evening dining was in the Monet Restaurant.)

Renoir Restaurant on the Carnival Conquest. Click photo for full size.

When the ship pulled out of port, we went up top to see Aruba for one last time.

Leaving Aruba. Click photo for full size.

Then we walked another mile on the jogging track. Tim got a quick shower before supper.

Although we weren’t sure if we’d like the vegetarian entree when we ordered it, we were pleasantly surprised. It was Corn, Chili, Quinoa Baked Tomato with potato jalapeño croqueta, cheese sauce, and leek hash.

Quinoa baked tomato with potato jalapeño croqueta. Click photo for full size.

Jeri’s dessert was cheesecake with strawberry sauce. Tim had the Carnival Melting Chocolate Cake again.

Cheesecake with strawberry sauce. Click photo for full size.

Dancing in the dining room.

Dining room dancers. Click photo for full size.

That evening we caught three comedy shows at 7:30, 9:30, and 10:30. The first two were PG and had very clean language. We loved Jeff Jena’s show at 7:30. He’s on Dry Bar Comedy. Here’s a photo with him.

Jeri and Tim with Jeff Jena the comedian. Click photo for full size.

So we decided to check out his adult-only show. The material was funny. We only wished that he hadn’t sprinkled used the f-word for emphasis instead of the word “very”.

Pre-Carribean Cruise 2018
Carribean Cruise Day 1 – Leave Fort Lauderdale
Carribean Cruise Day 2 – At Sea
Carribean Cruise Day 3 – Grand Turk
Carribean Cruise Day 4 – At Sea
Carribean Cruise Day 5 – Curacao
Carribean Cruise Day 6 – Aruba
Carribean Cruise Day 7 – At Sea
Carribean Cruise Day 8 – At Sea
End of Carribean Cruise and Back in Fort Lauderdale
Carribean Cruise Photos