Danny & Family

Just Some Random Stories About Me and My Family

Monday, July 30, 2007

Sad News

It was just over a month ago that I shared with you the good news that Laura and I were expecting another baby. It is now with sadness that I inform you of our loss; the pregnancy was unsuccessful. The first day was the most difficult, especially for Laura and the kids. But each passing day has been better, and with the love, support, and prayers of our family and friends, we will be okay.


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Ensenada - Part Dos

Before I continue with my story of the cruise that my wife and I took a couple of weekends ago, I need to clarify something regarding the pictures on this post. Every one of them was taken by a professional photographer; an employee of Carnival. You see, even though we brought our own camera and intended to take lots of pictures - we didn't. Not because we forgot. It's just that there wasn't much to take pictures of.

There's something else I need to clarify. The weather was not clear and sunny as you would think considering this time of the year. It was really overcast, especially on Sunday. I'm talking major June Gloom. We only had two full days on this cruise, even though the website describes it as a 4-day, 3-night cruise. (The cruise leaves late afternoon / early evening on Fri., and returns early Mon. morning). So Sat. in Ensenada was overcast, but the sun kind-of burned off the clouds late in the day - right about the time we were leaving. Sunday was worse; the clouds remained all day.

All that to restate that there was really nothing to take pictures of in terms of scenery, and I'm not one to take pictures of strangers. So 3 of the 4 pictures I posted on "Part Uno" was it. That's all we took. All that film we bought wasted. . . . . . What's that Honey? Oh, we have a digital camera? Never mind about the film.

So I left off at the part where Laura and I were returning to the ship. But I forgot to show you two pictures that were taken when we got off the ship in Ensenada on Sat. morning. These were taken with an authentic local actor dressed up as an Aztec Indian.

Okay, now I'll resume my story. So Laura and I go through all kinds of security to get back on the ship, and then kill some time waiting for the early dinner seating. We go up to Lido Deck and listen to the Reggae band and watch people dance. But it wasn't just Reggae music. They had a little bit for everyone: Country line dancing, the Macarena, and some other dance that everyone (except me) seemed to know.

Then Laura and I got ready for dinner. Sat. night was the formal night in the dinning rooms. Everyone at our table was dressed very nice. I told you about our tablemates in Part Uno. On this evening one couple (Sauce and Angie) didn't show, but a new couple (Esteban and Norma) joined us instead. Towards the middle of dinner I began to feel sick. I saw out of the corner of my eye that the ship had begun to move out of port. I could also barely feel the ship move. By the time I got my main course I had lost my appetite. My tablemates noticed I looked pale, and I felt warm. The fact that I was wearing a tie didn't help. I felt somewhat strangled. Well I made it through dinner and it was time to walk the Promenade Deck and take pictures.

If you've ever been on a Carnival cruise, you would know that they set up photographers with various backgrounds throughout the Promenade Deck. We took pictures at several, and ended up buying three poses. The one that looked the best is this black and white close up.

After we took pictures, we went to the big room where stage shows are held. We wanted to get a good seat for the show that evening. They had a bingo game scheduled before the big show, so since we were already there waiting we played. Well can you believe that Laura won the grand prize of $500? How lucky is that? The show was really great - fantastic singers /dancers all in beautiful costumes, and performing to live music.

Sunday we were parked somewhere out in the ocean. There were only three things that could be seen the whole day: water, clouds, and the ship we were on. We listened to the Reggae band on Lido Deck for a while, we played bingo again in the big show room, and we watched a live show held by the cruise director that had 3 couples trying to guess their partner's answers to several questions. There was a newly wed couple on their honeymoon (married on 7-7-07), a couple who have been married 50 years, and a couple who have been married 25 years. It was a very funny show.

Dinner on Sun. night was casual, and the same tablemates from the night before joined us. After dinner we saw another great stage show in the big room. Same singers / dancers, but different songs / music, and of course, different costumes. I liked this show better than the first one, but both were great. I forgot to mention that after dinner (but before the show) Laura wanted to take more pictures. Of the 2 or 3 backgrounds we took pictures in front of, this one came out the best, and we bought the print: We woke up Mon. morning and found ourselves back home in Long Beach. After breakfast, we gathered our luggage and souvenirs, and off the ship we went. This is the quickest we've ever gotten off the ship. On the previous cruises, it took hours of waiting before you were allowed off. This time we had to wait in line at customs, but that takes place off the ship.

Laura and I had a great time on our cruise. Three mornings of sleeping in and no kids to bug us. More food than we should have eaten, and none of which we had to prepare ourselves. Time to ourselves without having to be somewhere or do something. Everything was on our terms, and we enjoyed every minute of it. It may be a long time before we can do this again.


Saturday, July 21, 2007

Ensenada - Part Uno

Last weekend, my wife Laura and I went on our summer vacation - a cruise to Ensenada! This was planned way before we found out that Laura was pregnant. Originally, we thought it was going to be a "booze cruise". We talked about hitting a couple of clubs on the ship, as well as throwing back a couple of drinks at Papas and Beer in Ensenada. Well in the interest of Laura's health, and the health of our unborn child, Laura didn't drink alcohol. I did. Well I'm not pregnant.

This was not our first cruise, so you would think that we would be familiar with the routine of getting to the ship with enough time to enjoy the festivities before sailing. Well just like each time before, we end up rushing around and getting there with just enough time to drop off our luggage in our state room before the mandatory evacuation drill. No free Hour Devours, no refreshing drink, just a life vest and a staircase climb (several decks) to stand like sardines until the whistle blows. What fun!

Anyway, here we are right before we board. If we look out of breath, we are; we just carried our luggage from our car through security, and through the check-in line.

So after the drill there's just enough time to go back to our state room to stow away our life vests, and then it was off to the early seating for dinner. On past cruises, we've had the late seating, and that has it's pros and cons. On the pro side - you have more time to do whatever (shore excursions if applicable) during the day, and then get ready for dinner. On the con side - you finish dinner late, and anything you do tends to make your evening run late. That might be okay for some people, but I'm an early riser and the longer my day is the less energy I have. Laura is not an early riser, but also suffers from low energy by the day's end.

So we go to dinner and meet our tablemates. One very nice couple (Chris and Debbie) have a common interest with us in off road recreation. What a coincidence. Chris was a pro motocross rider a few years back. The second couple (Sauce and Angie) arrived to dinner late and told us about a very difficult commute they had to endure just to get to our ship on time. Two other pairs of seats remained empty, but we were joined the following night by a third couple (Esteban and Norma). They too have something in common with us - they're expecting. Only in their case, it's their first child.

After dinner we return to our room to find it has been made up by the steward. We were please to find two chocolates on our pillows, and this cute towel piglet. Sorry the image is sideways. I couldn't figure out how to edit it to turn it 90 degrees, so if you want to see it correctly - either turn your head to the left, or turn your monitor on it's side to the right. Buenas noches.

We woke up Saturday morning and found ourselves in Ensenada, Mexico. Que Bueno! We ate breakfast and grabbed our bottles of water, and off the ship we went. We hopped on a shuttle and heard the lecture of where to shop, where to avoid shopping, and when to get back to the ship. We also heard a wonderful sales pitch about taking their tour of Ensenada, including a trip to La Bufadora. The blow hole - you know there are only three in the whole world: Hawaii, Australia, and Ensenada. But the one in Ensenada is the biggest! Well we saw it 2 cruises ago, and it's not worth going back given the possibility of Laura getting car (shuttle) sick.

Laura and I got off the shuttle and walked around a bit looking for souvenirs. We didn't buy anything at first, because you can find the same stuff everywhere and it's all about the same price. So you might as well keep looking for the item that looks the best in the color or style you want, yada yada yada. We wondered over to Papas and Beer for some nachos and margaritas. Laura had a virgin strawberry margarita, and I had a real one - or two. Our waiter Pedro took this picture of us:

After our refreshments we continued walking around Ensenada and shopping. This time we started buying souvenirs. We picked up a pair of cool sunglasses for our son Brady. We also bought him a Papas and Beer shot glass for his collection. Brady has shot glasses from all over, and he keeps them on a shelf in his bedroom. We found a cute Nacho Libre mask and cape for our daughter Nina. Also for Nina, we found a cute mini pinata that looked like a donkey. Laura got a mouse pad from Papas and Beer. They generously threw in a sticker.

We returned to the shuttle pick-up point so we could head back to the ship. As we waited for the shuttle to fill up, we were entertained by a local man who sang songs. Coincidentally, Laura and I saw this same guy on a previous cruise (well, the Ensenada part of the cruise). He is very funny, and gets people on the shuttle to sing along with him while poking fun at us gringos. He didn't remember us from the last time - no surprise - there's one of him and hundreds (maybe thousands) of us that he sees. After his show he walks through the shuttle bus holding a bag and we help him make his living.So back to the ship we went just to stand in line to get our souvenirs scanned - just like luggage at the airport. Once on board (using the same identification to get off the ship) we get to walk through scanners again. Back to our room and time to get ready for formal night.

More to follow on the next post. Until then, bon voyage.


Friday, July 13, 2007

Time To Cruise

Laura and I are leaving today for our weekend get-away: A 4-day, 3-night cruise to Mexico. That's why we couldn't join the kids last weekend for their camping trip. Ensenada, here we come!

I'll post again next week after we return. Adios Amigos!


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Silence Is Golden

That silence is about to come to an end. You see, the kids are coming home from their camping trip. That means the peace and quiet that Laura and I have been enjoying since Sunday is almost over.
This past Sunday, Laura and I drove the kids up to Silverwood Lake to go camping with Laura's parents and grandparents. We've stayed at this campsite a couple of times, but unfortunately, neither Laura nor I have enough vacation time. This time, Laura's grandparents took their new trailer out for the very first time. (Actually the trailer is used and in very good condition, but it's new to Laura's grandparents.)

Anyway, the kids have been looking forward to their camping trip for weeks, especially Nina. She was so excited in the days before! I can't wait to hear how much fun they had. Laura and I missed them both, but we sure didn't miss their fighting.

We were only able to check in once by phone (cell service is very unreliable there due to the surrounding mountains), but know they've been doing fine. I'm sure they were acting normally - you know, fighting, arguing, crying, that kind of thing.

So tonight when we come home from work. they will be next door at Laura's grandparent's house. Our noisy lives will return, and Laura's grandparent's quiet lives will resume.

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Fourth Of July BBQ

As I sit here at my computer killing time and waiting for nightfall - so that Laura, the kids, and I can go outside and watch the fireworks display at the high school; it's time to blog about the way I celebrated our Independence Day. First of all, let me take this time to thank God for blessing me by allowing me to exist here in America. With everything that's going on in the world, there is no place I'd rather be, and I am deeply grateful.

We had been planning for a relaxing day at home with some food to BBQ and maybe a swim in the pool. Laura had invited our good friends Frank and Elaine, and their kids Jared and Frankie, to join us for the day, but they didn't confirm until late yesterday. No problem; glad they decided to be with us.

Laura loves to decorate, and as you can see by the signs flanking the walkway from our driveway to our front door, they are in theme with the holiday:

Once our guests arrived, the kids couldn't wait to jump in the pool. It was about 90 degrees today (the air temperature, not the pool water) and more humid than it has been lately. The kids couldn't care less; they were going swimming whether it was 60 or 100. As they splashed around and played, Laura, Elaine, Frank and I sat and talked and enjoyed refreshments.

We got the kids to sit still for one second while we took this picture of them. From left-to-right that's Jared, Frankie, Nina, and Brady.

After a beer or two, I started barbecuing for everyone. This is a brand new barbecue that I got as a Father's Day present from Laura and the kids. As I was downloading these pictures to my blog Laura asked me if I posted the ones from Father's Day. No I didn't - I politely answered. NOTE TO SELF - Post Father's Day pictures as an addendum to that post.

Why yes, that is chicken (the lighter meat on the left) and carne asada (the darker meat on the right). Doesn't it look tasty? We also had rice, beans and tortillas as a main course, and chips, salsa, veggies and dip as an appetizer.

I just love Brady's face in this next picture. He didn't want his picture taken in the first place, and didn't want to get out of the pool to eat in the second place. Oh well - at least the kids got to eat before the grown ups.

Here we are right after we ate. We're all smiling because we told the kids they have to wait 1/2 hour before they can go swimming again, and we were able to enjoy some peace and quite for a while. From left-to-right is Frank, me, Laura, and Elaine.

Dessert was a banana and strawberry pie decorated in Fourth of July holiday fashion. A home-made pie from the fine bakers at Marie Calendar's. Thank you, Elaine!

While we enjoyed our dessert, the kids enjoyed their dessert - a second swim in the pool. I got them to settle down for a few minutes to snap this picture:
Okay, I've got to go. I here fireworks popping outside, and my beer has emptied. The play list I've been listening to on my iPod is nearly over (I have some Beatles songs with John on lead cued up for tonight as I'm writing). I hope all of you have enjoyed your Independence Day - whatever you have chosen to do. Let Freedom Ring!

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Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Dog Gone

I saw this picture on a website I frequent, and was immediately reminded of Diane's Hanna and Edit's Wally.