Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Santa's Christmas Prayer

On Christmas Eve the other night
I saw the most amazing sight,
for there beneath the Christmas tree
was Santa kneeling on his knee.
His countenance was different than
that all - familiar, jolly grin;
his head was bowed, with hand to breast,
and slightly tucked into his vest.
For there in a nativity
was Jesus and His family,
and as I heard him start to pray
I listened close to what he'd say.
"Lord, You know that You're the reason
I take pleasure in this season.
I don't want to take Your place,
but just reflect Your wondrous grace.
I hope You'll help them understand
I'm just an ordinary man,
who found a way to do Your will
by finding kids with needs to fill.
But all those centuries ago,
there was no way for me to know
that they would make so much of me,
and all the gifts beneath the tree.
They think I have some hidden power
granted at the midnight hour,
but it is my love for You
inspiring the things I do.
And so when they begin to open
gifts for which they have been hoping,
may they give You all the glory,
for You're the One True Christmas story."
I don't know who wrote this, but it has become one of my favorite Christmas poems. At the Children's Christmas Eve Mass at our church towards the end Santa comes in to pray, I just love that part.
Wishing you all Peace and Joy and a very Happy Christmas.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Oh the weather outside is frightful...

But it was so warm and sunny in the Caribbean. I dreaded coming home to this cold! We have recently returned from our cruise. It was lovely.

Our adventure began flying to Fort Lauderdale. Although she had flown before, Vanessa doesn't remember the last time, so she was very excited about flying in the airplane. Everything was going great. She was coloring in her books and reading...not being herself at all... then we hit a patch of turbulence and she got air sick, all over everything. Of course at this point I'm working on the worst mother of the year award because I didn't even think to pack extra clothes for Nessa in our carry on!!! Luckily we were able to clean up her "Green Beer" (Green carebear), her turtle, blanket, and clothes didn't fare so well... we wrapped her up in my sweater and she slept for the rest of the flight. The next day we took a Limo to the Port of Miami, Nessa thought the big car was the best thing she had ever seen. She giggled the entire way to the Pier, she was riding in the big car and we were all in the backseat with her. Then she saw the "Big Boat". She couldn't wait to get on it and although our check in process was very quick and easy it was still a little long for her to wait.

Ahoy...the open sea! Although the seas were a little rough, no one in our group was sea sick. Vanessa loved the balcony on our cabin and had a blast in Camp Carnival. Our first port of call was San Juan. My Uncle Steve and Aunt Flori met us and took us on a short tour of the area and then to dinner at "The Parrot Club". I highly recommend it to anyone who is traveling to Puerto Rico. Everything we had was fantastic. As many of you know I do NOT like steak in general, but Brian had me try a bite of his and I wished I had ordered it. It was the best thing I have tasted in my life! We had conch - I was surprised how good it was, fried plantains and other local vegetables I've never heard of like Yuca - kind of like a potato. The next day we sailed into St Thomas. We went on a tour with a tour group called Spider man tours. They were so much less expensive than the cruise prices, so I didn't know what to expect really, but had read many great reviews. We were NOT disappointed! The tour guide was great. We had about 1 1/2 hours of shopping in Charlotte Amalie. We went into one shop as my mom was leaving. She had been their first visitor of the day, so she got a "discount", then she had asked where she was from and she told her "Indianapolis". The people in the shop were so excited because they love Reggie Miller. She got another discount because of it! So, as we are walking in mom told them I am her daughter and I got the same discounts because you know, everyone in Indianapolis is a "Friend of Reggie". They give discounts to "Reggie's friends"!! Thanks MOM!!! Next we went to see the sights. We had a World Famous Banana Daiquiri at Mountain Top, and Brian never once mentioned the prices (highlight of my day). Next we went to Sapphire Beach. Very beautiful and we were visited by fish and seagulls, even an iguana! Our final Port of Call was St Maarten. We went on a tour that had been highly recommended on this island as well, but it did not go so well. This was a beautiful island, but very different. It is 1/2 dutch and 1/2 French, but whereas the Dutch half is governed by the Netherland Antilles (not Holland), the French half is governed by France. On the Dutch side anything goes for the most part. Drinking and Driving, Prostitution, Gambling...it's all good...but you can't get naked on the beach! On the French side you can't do anything. You look at someone wrong and your in the clink...but you show all of your fine self on the beach... some of these people really NEED clothes! There was a line that if you are on one side you can be totally nude and on the other only topless. We rented beach chairs just over the line on the topless side. There was one old man who stood in front of Brian's chair and as we called it, "waved his flag". He spent about 5 minutes trying to fold his sarong to put on and each time it would fold right he would wave it in the air again. Hilarious! We were supposed to have 3 hours of shopping on this tour. We ended up with about 1/2 hour at the beginning and then after all the delays from people getting on the bus late and traffic we ended up with NO time to shop in Phillipsburg. Which is where the Yoda Guys art gallery is. Oh well, maybe next time. We had a total of 3 at Sea days. Which are typically my favorite of a cruise. The Liberty is a very nice ship and everything was great, however; the service wasn't up to par with what we have had in the past. Vanessa did love that she could call for room service and get chocolate milk at all hours of the day or night, and she called our room steward and his helper "my people". They all loved her, everyone on the crew knew Nessa and would always say "Hi Vanessa" when we walked by, and many other passengers as well. On the first day they were playing Caribbean music on the Lido deck and Nessa was dancing by the band. They had her say "Hi" to everyone on board and after that she was a "local celebrity". We stayed one night on South Beach on our return, all I have to say is NEVER stay at The Deauville Resort in Miami and I will never pre-pay for a hotel again! I have posted our over 400 pictures on Picasa. The link is at the bottom of this blog if you want to see them!

It's been a couple weeks since our return and we have been busy getting ready for Christmas. I was trying to talk to Nessa about what she wants from Santa and here is how our conversation went:

Me: What would you like for Christmas?
Nessa: (eyes wide and a huge grin) A CHRISTMAS tree!
Me: No, what would you like to GET for Christmas?
Nessa: (still excited) BARBIE's CHRISTMAS tree!
Me: No, Nessa...what would you like for a present for Christmas?
Nessa: (starting to get confused) Barbie's Christmas.
Me: OK, if Santa is going to bring you a present, what would you want?
Nessa: ummm...A pretty dress.
Me: Are you sure? What kind of toys would you want Santa to bring?
Nessa: Christmas.
Me: No, Nessa, Listen. Santa is going to bring you presents on Christmas just like when people brought you presents for your birthday. What you you like to have?
Nessa: (now very serious) Surprises.

Oh, she is a joy and a challenge... Gotta love her!