Sunday, October 31, 2010

Last night was Josh's farewell party.  It's so surreal; the night was fabulous and flew by so quickly. Everyone had fun and no one wanted to go home. We kicked them out at 1am so we could clean up the club house (which Johnny and I completed at 2am!)

My boy had a great time and he and his friends thanked us several times for putting it all together. Johnny gave a nice toast and to our surprise and delight, so did Josh's best friend Rodge. I could cry just thinking about it.

By the way....the darling poster in the background was made by my niece Madison all by herself! Too cute!  (Josh loved it, Sweetheart, great job!)

He's bald. He's exhausted. He's anxious. But he's ready to go.

He leaves tomorrow.

I'll post more pics from the party this week, I just wanted to check in with everyone and let you know things went very, VERY well. My friend Tammy drove up from Norfolk (3 hrs) and my other friend Patty came from Maryland with her husband (1 hour), my friend Lynn made Josh the most awesome and delicious Army cake!! As well as my local friends, my East Coast Mom, our neighbors, J's was a perfect night and it all meant the world to our family.

I promise to share more very soon. I have to get through Josh leaving first so next time you hear from me Johnny and I will be official EMPTY NESTERS. Huh? I still can't believe the date is here. GAHH!

Did I say this all feels surreal?

I have to go take a nap. My inner party animal is catching up to my outer old lady, haha. My body isn't snapping back as fast as it used to. How pitiful.

Thanks everyone for your well wishes.


Friday, October 29, 2010

NO Internet. Boooo!

During one of the busiest weeks of my life (or in the past month), our internet router decides to fall over, put its belly up in the air, and go dark. No more pretty flashing red lights above my living room hutch telling me that I can log on and see what the rest of the word is doing.

Its been a lonely existence for the past 24 hours. I feel disconnected.....haha. Punny. *Snort* it's affecting my mind!

Farewell party plans are complete; I'm leaving shortly to go pick up the pool club house key and then we can decorate! Food is ordered. Beer & wine purchased. Cake designed and dropping off little green Army men later this afternoon. My sister mailed me her 2 (darling!!) poster boards that her family decorated. Johnny & I will decorate ours tonight...It's ON, baby! It's ON!

Josh leaves on Monday to start his in-processing at Ft. Meade. We get to go up Tuesday morning for pictures, hugs, tears, kicks in the rear, pinches and to wave bye-bye to the bus that will take the boy that I've devoted my entire adult life to away to Army boot camp.

We're all ready now. Its been a long year and we're prepared. Johnny & I are already getting giddy about all of the duty stations we'll get to go visit him at. (Please go to Italy, Josh!) (Or Germany) (Or France) (Or Japan!!) (Hawaii????)

Or best yet! Ft. Belvoir, Virginia!! YES!!!! We'll be neighbors  :o)

Next week I'll have plenty of pics to share so when you can't fall asleep you can look at my blog entries and you'll be out in 2 1/2 minutes flat.

I'm here to serve.

See you soon!


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Magic Blog It Boards from MCP Actions

I was having a little bit of fun with my cruise pictures (as evident by the slide show I created). I headed over to visit Jodi at MCP Actions for a little more help. Jodi has the coolest "Blog It Boards."

These are our images from Port Canaveral, Florida, one of our port calls. Josh decided we'd go on an airboat ride to go look for 'gators. Big surprise. (We even got to eat some 'gator!) And do you know what? It tastes like chicken!

No. Not really. It was chewy and tough. I didn't care for it much  :o(
Any-hooo ~ Jodi's Blog It Boards build themselves automatically in Photoshop. I run CS5 and it was super easy.

I downloaded the FREE (try me) Blog It Board; you can find it HERE. Jodi gives you one template to practice on so that's why all of mine are the same.

I got the hang of it pretty quickly. I'm trying to decide which of THESE Blog It Board sets I might add to my photoshop actions.

The possibilities are endless. When you buy a set you'll have different sizes and configurations to choose from.

A "prompt" pops up and says "now pick your picture for the top, now pick your picture for the right".....etc. If I can do it, anyone can.

The only problem I had (seen in this blog it board, bottom middle pic) is that if I stretched the pic out to fit the square, either Johnny or myself would have been cut from the image. That's why there is white above and below (and I couldn't fill it in with, say, black, to make it look better). But they are still fun, easy to use and great for blogs!

Go over and download the FREE photoshop Blog It Board at MCP Actions & give it a try. I just wanted to share her freebie with you all ~ when I find something fun I have to pass it along!


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Josh turned 20.....well, OK, back in May.

My baby turned 20 in May. Is it still okay to call him my baby?

Wait a minute, you know what? Yes, it is. He's my only child and let me tell you something, even though he was only 6 pounds, 15 ounces, pushing him out of my body gives me LIFE LONG rights to call him my baby. Raising him through his terrible two's that lasted to his teen years gives me the right to call him my baby. Then raising him through his teen years gives me rights throughout eternity and beyond. Josh will always be my baby. You wanna make something of it? You wanna piece of me?

See what blogging does? It gives me clarity. And a spine.

Anyway....the day before his birthday I begged and pleaded Josh to give me 20 minutes so that I could take his 20-year portraits - something, anything to capture him at this moment in time.

My first mistake.

With eyes rolling, grunts and a few "Hurry Up Mom's" he gave me about 8 minutes flat and even (not really by choice) wore a nice-ish shirt ~ by that I mean, nothing stained with last night's supper, nothing torn or with cut off sleeves, or anything printed with the words US ARMY or GOLD'S GYM on the front.


I wasn't very smart and used the back courtyard that was very shady.

The shadows were a nightmare.

But I knew I'd be pushing it if I asked him to relocate to the front yard or, God forbid, across the street, where the lighting was fabulous but where people would see us (scream!!). It's a rule: photographs ARE light. Period. First and foremost, lighting has to be great. And it wasn't. My second (amature) mistake.
But he's my handsome boy and I love the way they came out anyway. Besides, they're for my kitchen wall so who cares?

On our way inside Josh grabbed his favorite girl, Peanut, and looked so cute I snapped this pic. Again, the shadows and lighting were horrible.

I did my best with the tools & actions I have and fixed it somewhat. I'm more pleased with Peanut's face than I am with Josh's.

At least it's better than it was, even though it's blown out in some areas now. My third mistake.

The point is that I practice constantly so in a year I hope I can take that same image and really fix it.

I'm a work in progress.

A picture is still worth a thousand words.

You see a smiling 20 year old, I see Josh impatiently groaning, "Are we done here? Can I scoot now? HUUUUUURRRYYY UP MOM!! Take the picture already!"

And behind the camera I'm screaming, "Just sit still and smile, dag-GONE-it! (Or was it Dad-GUM-it?) I'm still learning all of these stupid buttons! Oh my God you are so antsy, what are you? Like FOUR years old or something?!? Stop being so ruuuuuude!"

Mother/Son LOVE. All in one shot. Can't you see it?


Monday, October 25, 2010

The link got fixed! I know, I know, you've seen the pics 183 times already, booooring.....Anyways, I liked the music so I had to repost it. The nice man at emailed me 2x today working out the bugs in the HTML code and I really appreciated how much assistance he gave me ~ especially since this slide show was FREE to make, by the way! Head on over and make your own. It's fun  :o)

Turn on your speakers....

Cruisin' to The Bahamas, Mon! Slideshow: John, Brenda & Josh’s trip from Baltimore, Maryland, United States to 3 cities Nassau, Freeport and Port Canaveral was created by TripAdvisor. See another United States slideshow. Create your own stunning free slideshow from your travel photos.

Give me one minute to whine. I need just one second and this blog is my place to put my feelings and achy brakey heartfelt junk, right? Ok, here it goes:


Holy cow. Where has the time gone? Please. Someone stop the clock. In a way, this has been the longest freaking year EVER. But now it's flying by.

Last night, I'll admit it, I was sort of testing Josh, much to my husbands dismay. We went out to dinner and I looked at Josh and said, "So, you're really gonna do it?"

Cut to: In my head I imagined my boy saying, "No, Mom. I can't go. I'm your only child and I know how much you love me and are so proud of me so I just can't do it. I don't want you to be all alone. I want to go back to school and move to Fairfax or Burke and be close by. Some day I'll marry and have your grand babies and we'll do Sunday family dinners and you can play with the kids and my doberman and we'll go on our summer cruises together." Cue: The hugs & the tears and the angels singing....

Smack. Back to reality. And reality really sucks.

Because he didn't even hesitate one second and replied, "I'm soooooo ready!! Let's do this! I'm getting really pumped up!"


"'re positive?"


"You're sure? Like, 100 percent?"


"Really?"  *sniffle*


"Fine. Go then. See if I care."

"You care."

"I know. But what-ev's."

"I'll miss you, though."

"You'd better."

And so it goes. My boy is leaving in one week. My one minute is up. I'm done whining. Time to walk the girls now. With tissue. Thanks for listening.


Nassau, Capital of the Grand Bahamas

Last night I put together a slide show with all of our off ship adventure pictures in it (here's the link to that if you want to give it a shot: ) but some of you said it didn't work or it took too long to load. Bummer. Some of the slides went too fast too, but I loved the music! Made me get up and boogie! Yup, it did. Scary, huh?

So I decided to just plop some of the pics up anyway. (I was trying to avoid posting 64 pics and boring everyone to TEARS!

Today I'll just post our day in Nassau, Bahamas. I'll do Port Canaveral and a few more random ship pics (including our professional session) in another post. There are only so many tears.

Our ship pulled directly up to that pier, side by side with the gorgeous Norwegian Kay.

Johnny & I tried our legs on land for the first time in 3 days (felt strange!) & Josh went off with a friend he met on board, armed with plenty of cab money.

He's 20, what do you expect? For him to hang out with the old parents for the day? (Yes, that's what I wanted. I'm just posturing so that I won't look like I haven't cut the apron strings yet. Just go with it).

By the way, for the record ~ I have been smacked REAL hard with a reality this year: when you raise a child to be independent, what you end up with is an independent child. Wow. Funny how that works. Yikes.

Guess that's why one week from today he'll be headed to Ft. Meade to begin his life's new adventures! (And I'll be trying to hold him down to tie him back onto my apron!!) He's stronger though, I'm sure he'll win.


Johnny and I decided to lick our rejected parental wounds by spending the day in Atlantis ~ an all-inclusive resort that is out of this world beautiful. We were healed in about 3 1/2 minutes.

Here's a postcard I snapped to show the layout. Our ship was docked in the channel that runs behind the hotel; it was a 10 minute, at most, cab ride.

Time shares galore. I don't even want to know who much they cost, but total heaven if you're blessed enough to be able to live here for awhile.

They can even accomodate you if you own your own yacht. Parking is free.

The views will cost ya though.

Or you can stay in the Atlantis Hotel. The lobby was gorgeous! I have a complete series of photographs of just the archetecture and decor, but, like I said, you only have so many tears, so I'll spare you. This time.

The entire first floor is an aquarium. That's right. I said AQUARIUM. See it? It is, afterall, the lost city of Atlantis.

All of the staff wore colorful, fun uniforms. Felt like we were in The Bahamas, Mon!

And there was shopping in the beautiful hotel, too. I just took a "random" shot of something stunning. Totally random. YUP. (Hello Santa? Are you there? Tap, tap, this thing on?)

Meet the King & Queen of Atlantis. Let us show you around our land.

You can learn to scuba dive with our professional & super friendly staff.

Wander the grounds at your leisure.

And that arch? That is The Bridge Suite. You can rent it but it is booked solid for the next year. Full balconies, front and back, with spectacular views.

Perfectly decorated and will satisfy every need you will have. A FULL staff always at your service and has it's own private entrance. Let us drop you into the lap of luxury.

All for only $25,000 per night, with a 7 night minimum. And did I mention that we are fully booked for the next year?

My Mr. Perfect is happy because we have a lovely, teensy, weensy little cabin (with balcony!!) waiting for us at the ship. And that's fine by me  :o)

Everywhere we went, there were walls of aquariums. It was stunning. I regret not sitting down for lunch and just observing, but we were too busy wanting to see the whole resort before we had to get back to the ship. Didn't want to miss our boat! That would be a bad thing.

The tunnels were awesome.

We were jokingly "looking for Nemo."

And we were delighted when we found him! Back with his Papa.

This tank was filled with blue & gold fish. And you know what that means....
Uh-Oh, here it comes....


My Johnny was beginning to behave strangely and showing ungodly amounts of affection in public.

And making gooooogley eyes at strange women. Love. It can never be. Poor things.

We went out to the beaches to get some fresh air and to mend Johnny's heart. I admired the scenery and beautiful turquoise waters.

Johnny admired the....other sites. He thought the beaches were lovely, too.

He got to "people watch" for ahwile. That's why he's so happy!

In the end, he remained with his bride in those smokin' hot bermuda shorts and she fell head over heels with him in his Dilbert t-shirt and Navy ball cap. So, as the story goes, the King & Queen....

Recommited their love and devotion in the sands of the Bahamas for ever more.


And they reigned their Kingdom of Atlantis happily ever after.

Until 5pm.

Then they had to dash back to the ship before it sailed away without them leaving them homeless and with their son screaming, "Woo-hoo! I have the whole room & your credit cards to myself!" at the top of his lungs, waving from the balcony.

That thought made then dart faster ~ To reign their dinner table on the cruise ship and watched this sunset out of the window over the land that they loved for 6 hours and can't wait to go back to some day.