I didn't post a lot for April because it was a month we spent together without caring much about the outside world. We soaked ourselves into God's word, and the precious moments of the gift of each other. It was a low-key, GREAT month all together.
In the meantime, here are some highlights.
Deck: Some awesome friends sold us their deck, and we built it up a little to meet our own needs. We are at a park we really like, a site we absolutely love, and will be at this park for the duration of Mark working at the school. To make things a bit easier, a deck is a nice little addition. Other friends of ours will use it during our time away in MI each year. I must say, it's a nice change, especially when bringing home groceries. :-)
Seder: We were honored this month to be invited to a REAL Messianic Jewish Seder dinner. There were over 600 people in attendance, and it was pretty awesome to see the customs and how much they love the Lord. When Mark held Seders for our church years ago, it's great to see how close he was to the real thing. :-)
Passover: To celebrate our own Passover season, we had the candles lit each evening we did our devotions. This in itself was SO nice.. Having the candles around the Peace Lily just gave a special meaning do to the persecution going on around the world right now.
Grandbaby #15!: This was of course the biggest highlight of the month! Grandbaby #15 was born to complete a family of seven! She is healthy and everyone is happy and doing well. Welcome to the world Nadia!
Special Celebration: Mark was honored to be able to fly home to help celebrate his mom's 85th birthday! Much of the family were there, and it was awesome for him to catch up with family happenings. What an awesome time, Happy Birthday Mom!
MISC Favorites: This month has brought a Blessing of storms and beautiful scenery outside. Check out the sunsets and clouds! A few fun pics of Pica.. Waiting for papa to come home, waiting patiently for dinner time, and just chillin before bedtime. :-)
Spring Break in Corpus Christi
It is always nice to take a break from the 'norm', and we've been looking forward to visiting Corpus Christi for quite a while.
Our favorite area? Port Aransas, watching the wild dolphins playing in the bow wave of the ships. :-)
Places we visited:
Aransas National Wildlife Refuge: This refuge is known for the Whooping Cranes who migrate here in the winter. They were mostly gone when we visited, but we did end up seeing 7 of them from afar. Next year we hope to visit the Whooping Crane festival in February.
South Texas Botanical Garden & Nature Center: With a $9 entry fee, this cute botanical garden was more of a unique walk than a garden. They do accept dogs, so we did this on a day we took Pica with us. They have a greenhouse of Orchids which was fabulous, but otherwise just a good excuse for a walk. They had 1 bird out, but the other 20 birds were put away for the day.
OSO Bay Wetlands Preserve: Also dog friendly. We didn't see many birds here, but it was a beautiful walk with nicely groomed trails. About 3 miles here.
Hans & Pat Suter Wildlife Refuge: A smaller refuge near the bay, Pica walked the boardwalk with us to see the bridge and bar area. About a mile walk, but the boardwalk is in need of repair and it was a bit scary to be on. Most of the time, we carried Pica in fear of her paws stepping on nails.
Port Aransas (Dolphins & Pelicans): Oh my, this place is a MUST GO spot if you visit the area! I read that this was a hot-spot for dolphins, and it wasn't long until we found them swimming in the channel! It was pretty common to see them playing around boats, but the most amazing was to see them just play in the bow-wave of the large ships. After this ship arrived in the gulf, the dolphins would disappear for a while, then show up when another ship went by. Just like a bunch of teenagers 'catching their wave' all day.. :-)
Texas Aquarium: Reviews on this place were not that great, but we went anyway. We had a good time, but it was way too busy to really enjoy the exhibits. At $35 each, I don't think we'll be back.
U.S.S. Lexington: A retired air craft carrier that was involved in Pearl Harbor and World War II. It was commissioned for 40 years before it was finally retired and placed at Corpus Christi.
I must say, this was absolutely BY FAR, the best ship tour we've ever had! After 3 hours, we still hadn't seen everything, and we were allowed to tour 6 different decks, the flight deck, the bridge, and LOTS more.. We would also recommend this ship visit if you're in the area, and is well worth the $17/$19 entrance fee.
Sea Life Education Center: A small little building and a $9 entrance fee, this place is active in saving the sea turtles and releasing the babies in the summer. Their knowledge is amazing, and it was wonderful to see all the animals in their care.
Padre Island: this island is a home to MANY birds, and has over 60 miles of drivable beach, most of which can be camped on. It was beautiful for a day trip, but we quickly learned that the beautiful photos we've seen online are not what the beach is like. We'll be keeping our RV off of this beach. We ended up grabbing a special trash bag from the visitor center and spent our time walking the beach and picking up garbage. Nope. we didn't even make a dent. We don't have to go back. Ever!
The Houston Rodeo is said to be the largest rodeo in the country. SO, we had to try it once! We loved the rodeo itself, and the animals on display, but we could care less for the carnival and all the food venders. Texas sure gave us a huge show, and went above and beyond to entertain their visitors. They even had their 1st annual drone show after dark which featured over 200 drones making cartoon characters in the sky. Pretty cool!
We even found some paintings made by a few of Marks' students, that were really awesome!
If you have a chance to attend this rodeo, you won't be disappointed. They even have a huge concert after the rodeo itself with a different star each night. We didn't stay for that, but I hear it's really good!
New Foodie Page!
I'd like to introduce my new "Foodie Corner" page that I decided to add. You can also find it under "Extras" on the navigation bar above. It will be nice to have the recipes handy for friends & family, as I love to cook for others and love to experiment with new food ideas. I'm really hoping I can get feedback on the page. :-)
I hope you enjoy the page! :-)
Well, we have halted traveling for a while and many people as why. Honestly, I'm not really sure, but with the inflation and the price of gas, we just felt like we'd like to settle for a bit and start looking for some property. Actually, once we knew we'd be leaving Brazos Bend, the Lord put a job in Mark's lap that was more than perfect for him, so he wants to see what happens with it. He is loving the AP Science position by the way, loves the students, and is challenged to stay on top of all the calculus.
We have found a nice little RV park that will keep us in a safe community close to his school. It's actually one of the newest and cheapest in the area! That's a big plus, but wasn't a concern, as we just wanted something close to school.
Since Mark has been busy, I am not only taking on the roll as a house wife, but also still working on my sign language classes, and also taking some culinary classes. I am staying busy, monitoring home, and keeping Mark pleasantly fed. :-)
Our plans are to stay put through May, which means we'll be back home to MI in June. It will be a short summer, as we're planning to return in August for Marks' next years class. We have a beautiful lake-front site right now, so we will likely be in the same park when we return. Why not, it's beautiful, the people are great, and we know half the people here! :-)
Anyway, with all that said, we will probably not be updating the website very much, as there's nothing special going on. Whenever we do or experience something fun, I'll post it here. Otherwise, life is going to be pretty boring for a while.
As with everyone else that gets old, we are battling daily aches and pains, and trying to figure out how to get through it all. Marks' back is still in excruciating pain in the evening.. This extends from his 'splits episode' at the school. We don't think that will ever completely recover, it's just the massages and exercises to get him through it.
For me, the pains from my recent accidents are still taking a toll as well. Difficulty walking is getting worse, and my hips and shoulders always cause a challenge when sleeping. It gets very frustrating for both of us, young-minds with wishful hearts.. We want to do a LOT more, and just don't have the energy or ability.
In the meantime, we do what we can, exercise as much as possible, and help each other as much as we can. Welcome to old age, right?
Tour of Dawson High School
Mark is really enjoying his new position at Dawson. It's a beautiful school, excellent staff, and super students! He is challenged with refreshing his mind on all the AP Calculus and Physics, but also enjoys that part and is always eager to get to school and work in his lab.
Here is a quick tour of his new school:
25th Anniversary Cruise
Mark and I decided that since we were going to be just an hour from Galveston this winter, we’d take advantage of going on a cruise as part of our 25th anniversary celebration (March was our anniversary month). From the advice of a few friends and family, we booked a basic cruise with Royal Caribbean (RC) on their Adventure of the Seas.
We have never been interested in taking a cruise, so this would be an experience we were nervous about, yet excited to experience together.
As the day approached, our excitement grew. We found an awesome kennel for Pica and put our RV to bed for a week. The customs process was amazing! Our pre-checklist created a time for a set amount of visitors so the terminal wasn’t bombarded with hundreds of people at a time. We waited for maybe 10, but walked through most lines and check points. Before too long, we were on the ship and on our mission to explore!
Setting Sail - -
Our stateroom was on the 11th deck. We were in a hallway of just 6 rooms, and we were on the same floor as all the pools, 2-4 bars, slides, and main buffet restaurant. Because the rooms were in the front of the ship beyond the adult only area, it was not in a main walkway or busy location, so it was extremely quiet! For breakfast, it was a short walk from our room down to the other side of the ship to the buffet. In the evening, the jacuzzi was about 100 feet through the doors and around the corner. VERY cool!
* Note: If we go on future cruises, we will always look for this type/location of room.
We had 2 days at sea, going to Costa Maya and returning to Galveston. On these days, we booked all the events and shows we could manage. We ended up seeing ALL the shows they had to offer; joined in with many trivia get-togethers, and enjoyed watching all the crazy/fun events that other people were taking part of. For instance; 'Friendly Feud', 'Speed wall climbing', and the 'sexiest man competition'.. Ha! I ended up leaving early on that! Most of these events we just watched a little of. Was never interested in the shopping on the main Promenade, nor the unlimited ice cream or pizza.. What we enjoyed the most was walking outside around the decks and watching other boats, the sea, and the stars. Sitting outside in that sea breeze together was priceless!
~ Click on photos to enlarge... ~
Costa Maya - -
Costa Maya was our first experience of an excursion. We booked through a 3rd party company, and could not take advantage of our entire tour because there wasn’t enough time. However, they did move us around a little to make it work, and we were still able to see the Mayan Temple. We had a small group, and a great tour guide, so I consider that a LOT better than the large groups booked by the RC excursions.
When departing the ship, we walked through a mall of shops geared toward travelers. Everyone was ‘in your face’ about buying their items, and we did not like the pushy sales people. We quickly had fear of going into any store, knowing that they would somehow convince us into buying something we didn’t want.
Otherwise, Costa Maya has a LOT to do away from specific excursions. Bike Rental tours, 4-wheeler tours, Lagoon swimming, beach, and just take a taxi to a great location. There is a LOT more to explore here, so don't be afraid to get online and read the reviews. :-)
Cozumel - -
Cozumel was a lot nicer, but the Dolphin Encounter excursion was still quite the experience. Once again, we had to walk through a mall where all the sales reps met us in the streets and begged us to buy their product. There was no way around this, so we just kept walking. We were eventually whisked away by one of RC’s vans, to our mini lagoon where they had 16 dolphins and enclosed locations for snorkeling and kayaking.
Now, we thoroughly enjoyed meeting our dolphin ‘Achilles’, touching him, and seeing all the dolphin tricks up close! This was probably the highlight of my trip at least.. however, we really expected more and hoped to be in a beautiful, calm logoon. Instead, we were at the edge of the sea, and the choppy waves made kayaking scary. Only Mark went snorkeling, and it was just like being in a basic aquarium. The area was stocked with fish, and even though it was a neat experience, the choppy waters reduced clarity and it just wasn't as brilliant as we thought.
After speaking with others that have been on many cruises, they suggested NOT getting any excursions, yet walking into town (past all the piranha salespeople, and asking the local people what’s good to do if you only have a few hours. Then, you’d be supporting the real local people, and going to some pretty and less populated areas (the diamonds in the rough).
Note: IF we do this and we don’t make it back to the ship, the ship WILL leave, and returning home is on our dime. If we take the ships excursions and we’re late to the ship, the company will get us back on their dime no matter what happens.
Before leaving Cozumel, we swam in the cove near the ships. It was a beautiful 85 degree day, and the crystal clear waters were 82 degrees. We really enjoyed playing around in this little cove.
Sunsets - -
You know, God makes a LOT of beautiful sunsets.. But for some reason, the ones at sea just seem to be extra special.
Cruise Highlights - -
Highlights of the Cruise: Being our first cruise, we had no real expectations. We were ‘wowwed’ by everything, specifically the size, grandeur, and the professional atmosphere of the entire staff.
The dining experience itself was spectacular. We chose traditional late dining, so we ate near the same people every evening at 7:30. I really believe the Lord puts us by people we can connect with, and this time was no different. We made some wonderful friends, and connected with them on several levels. We ended up exchanging contact information and will hopefully stay in touch with them.
A really cool experience was an afternoon at the jacuzzi. I met a deaf individual with his hearing friend. Since I’m in the middle of sign language classes, I was able to sign/speak with them a little and they were more than eager to interact with me, teach me a few things and give me some tips. That was the highlight of that day!
Here's a few more pictures detailing the ship itself...
Final Thoughts - -
We really loved how there was something for everyone on the ship. Those who like to party, gamble, shop, arcade and sports, can do those things. For us, it was the shows, the jacuzzi, the ambiance, and the spectacular dining experience. It was really nice that no matter what you like to do, there is something for you on a cruise.
We were amazed by the location of our room, and wouldn’t change a thing! It was quiet and comfortable. We had a wonderful stateroom attendant, that made everything perfect for us, including making a new towel animal for us each night. LOVED it!
There were many dining options included for cruisers, and the buffet at the Windjammer was the most popular. It had perfect seating, good food, and awesome servers. It was open from 6:30am-11pm for non-stop dining possibilities.
Will we go on another cruise? We are not sure yet. We're more apt to fly to a location and enjoy a week, instead of cruising there. However, for anybody that loves the pools, the arcade, casino, slides, and all that cruises have to offer,,, cruising is definitely a great option for them.
Thank you for letting us share.. Feel free to leave us comments. :-)
A LOT has happened this past month, and not all good. Due to unforeseen circumstances, we have left our position at Brazos Bend, and began following a new path. Mark has been hired in to FOUR school districts as a substitute teacher! The best news is that he's also been hired at the Space Center! If you are one that knows our plans, they have changed. :-) These are definitely good news items!
We are excited about what the next few months will hold.. For now, I have a few things to catch up on. First, my new hydroponic garden (since I miss my home garden).. Now I can grow Basil, Mint, tomatoes and Thyme in my tiny home! :-)
Next, the moon, the night of the eclipse. I was finally able to get my camera set up on a tripod with its zoom.. Not too bad, but I still have to perfect this..
Next, we went to Galveston and checked out the Naval Museum. Cool little place, and $9 for admission.
Our new place has a front-row view to the Brazos River. Pretty, but if it starts rising, we're outta here! (2017 hurricane, everything flooded from this river).
And finally the Houston Space Center. That place NEVER gets old! :-)
More Animals of the Park
This week I've been playing around with my new camera and my phone. So, on my usual evening park rounds, I took my zoom lens with me to get some more detail! I'm pretty happy with most of the pics. :-)
I'm calling this 'Animal Week' because I took so many shots of the animals in the park!
We also went to dinner with our new friends, and saw a gorgeous sunset!
And of course.. The work.. Amongst our play and animal moments we are here to give of our time and talents to help BBSP in areas where they need the most. This week, it included power washing some buildings and cleaning signs! We also cleaned the observation tower, picked up garbage, emptied garbage barrels, cleaned picnic areas, cleaned out fire pits and grills, and checked bathrooms. In the middle of all that, we get a LOT of opportunities to speak with visitors about the area and the alligators! We love that a lot!
I have descriptions with the photos. Enjoy! :-)