Click on any photo to see it larger.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I know I have said it so many times, I CAN'T believe that my own kids are old enough to have kids, let alone that my grandkids are this old. Time goes so fast. This year, Emily asked Great Grandma McCool to make her cake a beach cake. It was so cute, complete with a beach chair with Emily sitting in it and her parents swimming in the ocean while her brother Joshua was running to jump in.

Friday, January 21, 2011

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JOHN!!! For a while now, John has been planning a party in Vegas. He spent hours on the Internet checking out which hotel he wanted to stay at, checked out the shows he wanted to see and what other activities he wanted to do while he was there. He finally chose the Encore at the Wynn, it was the biggest, fanciest room I have ever stayed in. He told everyone what his plans were in case they could come along. Dennis and Abby took him up on it and met us there. It was not our usual trip to Vegas. Normally, he spends his time at the poker machine and I spend my time by the pool with a good book, even if it is too cold to put my suit on, I love to just sit out by the pool anyway. Well, this time, he didn't spend hardly any time at the poker machine...well, a little, but not what he normally does. Instead, he and Dennis and Abby went skydiving. They had a blast. It was his second time, but the first time for Dennis and Abby. He loved it more than his first time. Dennis and Abby liked it, but I think the pre-jump nerves didn't allow them to enjoy it the way John did now that he knew what to expect. He said he had such a great view of all the city and everything that surrounds it. Everyday, we had really really good food at the best restaurants, a little expensive, but it was the way John planned his party. Dennis and Abby's friends David and Shuna came out and spent a couple of days with us too. We saw the show by Cirque du Solei called 'O' at the Bellagio. It was fantastic, dancing, swimming, diving, music, costumes, trapeze, SOOO GOOD!!! We also saw a show at the Encore/Wynn with all Sinatra songs called 'Dance With Me'. I didn't get my usual time by the pool because the day after we arrived they drained the pool for winter maintenance. Oh well, it gave me extra time to walk around and take pictures. I won't even tell you how many pictures I took!!!

Posted by Picasa

Monday, January 17, 2011

So I already told you that Ariel was granted the visa. We were told at the Embassy that it would take 1-3 weeks for the courier to deliver it. It made it in less than a week. We of course are so excited. But it is with very mixed feelings that Ariel begins packing up. Don't get me wrong, he does want to come here, but he is not one of those guys that always dreamed of coming to the USA. He LOVES his country, he loves his life, he has so many good friends, he is so close with all his family and believe me he has a big family and they all live close and see each other all the time, almost daily. He has an amazing job working for the Attorney General (prosecuting attorney) of what would equal a whole county in the states. It is an important job with status and perks. He is one of the lucky ones who has a car and a good college education. Before he met Jessi he never thought about leaving. Ever. He is giving up a lot. But he knows he needs to give it a try here with his family in the states. He knows it will not be easy. He will have to master English, and find a new job, new friends and meet a family he has only seen pictures of and talked to on the phone. It is not the piece of cake that everyone thinks it will be. A new culture, new lifestyle and homesickness. Please pray for him, for Jessi too, as they adjust to life here, that he finds a good job and hopefully learns to love life here with us. They plan on arriving the last week of January.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Christmas music on the 4th of January. Strange to us, since once Christmas Day is over, it is on to New Years and the tree is down and the season is done with. If anyone still turns on their Christmas lights after the 1st we make fun of them. (Well, I do anyway). Well there I sat at a Christmas Cantata on Tuesday night. The church was packed full, they had to bring in extra chairs and line them up at the ends of the pews and then make rows of them in the back. It was FULL! To my surprise the choir was really good, they had a little screen at the side going with slides, a narrator between songs with his microphone screeching. I should have enjoyed it more, but my mind was doing what I think is the typical American thing...I was thinking how much better it would be if they could only have a bigger church, matching pews, walls and ceiling that were painted right, (right=my way) windows with screens to keep out the mosquitoes, and get rid of those fluorescent lights and what about an air conditioner instead of those 20 ceiling fans? Why is it that we always think our way is better? now that is what I thought about the building, but my mind also had them using those huge in-wall screens for the presentation and sound equipment that does not screech and make you cover your ears and a stage big enough to fit the choir, there must have been 50 of them up there in their white robes with golden collars...the band has to be on the floor. If only there was a way to get them money for such improvements... Right there in my whole redesign scheme...the lights went out. The lights go out in Jessi's town about once a day, it is normal to everyone there. That is when the best part of the whole program happened. It was just after they had begun a song...and without missing a beat...they all kept right on singing, no music, no slide show, not a ray of light coming from anywhere, not a murmur or snicker from anyone in the audience, the sound of those voices singing out Christmas songs was such a gift it gave me goosebumps. All the things I was thinking they needed to make it better and suddenly what they did have was taken away and with only the voices God gave them, it was the most beautiful thing of all. Just voices. What a blessing to have been a part of that. p.s. the backup power came on in time for the next song. From then on, my mind stopped redecorating.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Before we left for the DR, Jessi received an email offer at an all inclusive hotel that John & Rachel had sent her to as a special treat a while back. It was such a sweet deal that when she told her Dad about it, he told her we would be crazy not to take advantage of it while we were there. All inclusive for only $20 a person per day! So we booked it for the last 4 nights there. The first day there it just poured! I'm not sure if you can see in the picture how much was coming down, but it majorly dumped rain! The next day, as you can see was bright and sunny. The whole time we were there it was so warm, but not a bit hot as it has been on my other trips there.

Have you ever laid in the sun and wished your chair was just a little bit wider so you could move your arms from your sides, or what about those lounge chairs with the strips that spread out and stretch while you are laying there and you end up bulging out between the spaces, you touch the metal parts and get burned, your back ends up aching, it goes on about those poolside beach chairs. Well, this place had the perfect answer to that...beach BEDS! I mean it, BEDS. Not just a bed...well, they did have a few ordinary beds, but they mainly had HUGE canopy beds, with curtains and a cover and steps high up into them...they also had bunk beds and swinging beds...all with a complete view of the ocean, up off the sand and bed side food and drink delivery, table side food stand included. What an awesome way to enjoy the beach, especially with a baby! Josiah took his naps, nursed, we ate our lunch, took tons of photos and literally can say we spent the day in bed! We didn't have to worry about him getting a sunburn, but we could also move the curtains and get some sun on us

Ariel had to go into work part days while Jessi and I enjoyed the time at the resort, but he was close enough that he came for his lunch break to see us, taking advantage of the prepaid food and drinks with us.

A walk on the beach...

My last night there, they dedicated the baby. Alberto and Lydia are his godparents. He was so cute in the little suit and vest, complete with a tiny tie. During the service Josiah fixed his eyes on Alberto, which really made Alberto happy.

Sunday, January 2, 2011


Christmas was all cleaned up and packed away, Jessi and I were all packed and ready to leave for the Dominican Republic two days after Christmas. Monday morning, the phone woke me up. It was Cyndi saying that she just heard on the news that flights were being cancelled to New York due to a huge snow storm. Of course OUR trip was through New York. We were not due to fly out until night, but we figured we better see what we could do before all options were gone. We got on the internet right away, but it would not let us do anything and all calls to the airline were busy, with a recording saying call back later. So we got ourselves ready to go as fast as we could and threw those final things into our suitcases and then the suitcases into the car. We got to the airport and the JetBlue desk had a sign that they would not be open until was 9:00. We had breakfast and kept checking to see what other flights were available on other airlines. While we were waiting a TV team was there to get a story. Before we knew it, we were being interview for the 12:00 news! It ended up showing on the 5, 6, and 11:00 news also! We put a link on Facebook for Ariel to see his son trying to get to him and a person that knows Ariel who works at a local Dominican station put it on the Dominican news as well. I thought I would be able to insert just the video, but all I can do is add the link if you want to see it.

At 11:30 we were helped by two of the nicest agents. They worked on our flight for almost 2 hours, so glad we had taken along our bags because we left within the hour and ended up in Long Beach, CA, then to Ft. Lauderdale, FL and into Santo Domingo. It worked out so awesome! Dennis and Abby were able to meet us at the airport for dinner!!! They have not seen each other for 3 years and of course never seen Josiah, so it was such a bonus for the morning panic.

Josiah was the best little traveler, he slept, nursed and looked around. The flight from LA to FL was all night, getting us in at 5am...then we had to stay the whole morning and leave in the early afternoon. I can not believe how easy he was to be with us through it all. These two pictures just make me crack up laughing when I remember Jessi's commentary for Josiah's words when she saw them...the first one " DELAYED???"...and then "YEAH!! I'm going to meet my Daddy!"

The reward for it all was getting to be there when Ariel first saw his baby! It made me cry and still I get all teary when I see them. I know Ariel was dying to see the little guy, but believe it or not, he first hugged Jessi, almost as if there were no baby in her arms. They had been apart for 4 months topped off with him having to miss the nice to have your son-in-law adore your daughter!

Going to Santo Dominigo was something else that really worked out for the best for us too. We had been booked through Puerto Plata, just minutes from where their apartment is. Then we were going to spend the night and all of us get on a 4 hour bus ride to the Capitol to go to the US Embassy for Ariel's visa appointment. By us flying to Santo Domingo, only Ariel had to bus down and we were able to go a day earlier and the most awesome news is ARIEL GOT HIS VISA!!! After a year of application process and being sent away in October until he could come back with his wife and baby, it was such a relief.

From the Embassy we went to the bus station and took the 4 hour ride up north. It seemed like the whole country was there to greet us...well, not US...greet Josiah! Jessi's first host family, Ariel's brothers, aunts, cousins, and so many friends, even Josiah's great grandmother was there.

The past few days have been a continual stream of visits, either to their apartment or us going from one place to another. Yesterday we walked from Ariel's Mother's house to his Grandmother's, it was as if we were a parade of four as we past each home people would rush out to take a look at Josiah, so many of them said they saw us on TV. Normally it is the women who fuss over a baby, but even the men are so in awe of this little guy that they have prayed for all these months. These last photos are her friend Milka with her baby, Ariel's mother's mother and his father's mother (both of his grandfathers have died, as well as his own father.), Alberto and Lydia, her host family and in the middle is his mother and 4 of her other grandchildren.

And now begins the 'getting to know his baby' for Ariel. It is so hard for Jessi to not be the big know it all, to try to let Ariel and his other Grandmother figure out for themselves just how he likes to be held and bounced and all the little things that we have gradually figured out. Ariel did the baby's wash today and it was just so cute to see those little clothes hanging on the line. He also changed his first diaper.