28 July 2015

Counters, Baseball, & Lake Tobias

Note: If you are going to send us money please only do it in check form.  The USPS system here in PA seems very feeble.  We often get our neighbors' mail and have not gotten quite a few important pieces of mail that were supposedly sent.  We have also heard this same problem from others.  So if you send us money, please do it in a check and we will make sure to always let you know when we got it.  Thanks.

We painted our bathroom counters.  Yes, counters, not the cabinets.  The cabinets are next.  There is this really cool product that you can spray on your counters that gives it a new white coat that is nice and hard.  Our counters were those old type of cheep counters that were yellowing so it was a nice inexpensive way to update it.  Here is the after photo.

Here is what a straight road in PA looks like.  And yes this is actually more straight than other roads which have 90 degree or more turns.

We went to the Harrisburg Senators minor league baseball game with our stake and Charles sang.  Sorry about my bad video ability with the kids.

Lizzy loved dancing to the music between plays and clapping when everyone else clapped.

We went to Lake Tobias and saw all of the fun animals.

Lizzy was very tentative with the animals and had a few blood curdling screams when the animals came to close.

It took her some time but tentatively she touched a baby miniature goat's back when the head wasn't near her.  We obviously don't have many animals.

Mini deer



The boys pet the camel.

The camel was more fun from afar according to Lizzy.
Charles got Annette a new cell phone since he was tired of hearing stories about her phone being dumb.   It has a super nice camera on it.   Here she is using the selfie mode so she could actually have a photo of herself with an animal.

It's a great camera!

Annette thinks Henry is adorable in this photo.

There was a reptile house where there were lots of cool things to touch.  Like the tortoise/turtle shell.

Pythons.  The kids were so brave.  Annette wouldn't touch it, but she made Lizzy.

Alligators.  Lizzy and Henry weren't too hesitant, but Charlie knew what was on the other end and didn't trust it.


There was a fun reptile show that we got to watch.


I love that the zebra decided to eat the other one in the photo.  How childish :)



We had to stand in a really long line for the safari tour and Charles did a great job helping feed and water the kids with minimal spillage. 

 We went on the safari tour to see many of the animals that you couldn't see otherwise.  It was really fun.


Scottish Irish cows.  They were super pretty.  I bet they make great cheese.

Texas longhorns and a few other types of cows we can't remember.

Here are all of the male deer.  They don't like hanging out with the ladies.

These are zedonks.  A combination of a zebra and donkey.


We tuckered the kids out sufficiently.  Unfortunately the kids got a good enough nap on the way home that they were then awake super late having a party in their bedroom.

19 July 2015

Yeah Mon Jamaica!

We never got a really good honeymoon after we got married, so we finally decided to take one.  We flew Annette's cousin, Kassie, out to watch the kids while we went to Jamaica.

When Kassie came to babysit, we took her to see a beautiful trail and the Susquehanna River.

Our flight there was uneventful except that Charles name was spelled wrong so we spent an unexpected half an hour trying to get his name changed before we could check in.  Customs in Jamaica was pretty easy and fast.  We figured that we would need to change at least some of our money in to Jamaican dollars so we did so.  Come to find out they pretty much all use US currency.  The Jamaicans thought we were super crazy to have made such a dumb mistake like that.

We stayed at Half Moon Bay in Rose Hall Jamaica.  This little movie shows you what the entrance of the lobby is like.  The highlight is the last couple of seconds when the lobby is graced by Annette's presence.

We are not sure which room we were supposed to stay in, 145 or 154 because there was contradicting information.  The bell hop led us to 154 and our keys worked there.  We loved our room and where it was located.  Here is a little tour of it.

This was our balcony.  You can see that it was raining on the first day which was SO gorgeous.  We really got blessed that the weather cooled down so much since everyone said it had been quite hot and dry for sometime before.

This was the restaurant we ate at the most and this is what the area looked like.  The whole main lobby and most restaurants are open to the environment.  There are no doors.  We loved that open feel.

This picture (like most) is better if you blow it up to full size.  This tree was covered in vines and was pretty amazing.  We spent Monday mostly familiarizing ourselves with Half Moon Bay and enjoying the rain.

This is a picture of the beach, but it looks like Charles is blocking the view.  There is a cool gray type bird on the building which we saw frequently on our trip.

Annette loved this grass.  It was so fun to walk on the grass since it was so squishy.  The grass is called zoysia tenuifolia.  It doesn't have to be mowed, but when it goes a very long time without mowing it mounds up.  It is great for everything except for daily wear.

Here's Annette playing with the grass.

Up there with chocolate and puppies, girls like little bridges.  Annette enjoyed this one.

Charles really loved all of the different flowers and took a picture of a few like the bush below.

Everything in Jamaica is so green!  When walking in puddles of rain water it is warm!  We love the ivy growing on the cement wall.

The palm trees grow so straight. 

We watched the sun set on our first night.  Gorgeous!

Tuesday we hired a taxi to spend the whole day with us and take us wherever we wanted to go.  We were all alone in a very new nice Toyota HiAce.  It was our first time being driven down the opposite side of the road--thank you British Empire.  We had the driver take us to another popular vacation destination, a city called Ocho Rios.  There's a place there called Mystic Mountain where we took a ski lift up a mountain and then rode a Jamaican bobsled ride and did ziplines down part of the mountain.  Keeping Utah in mind, we use the word mountain purposefully (not PA hills).  Some of their mountains are thousands of feet high straight out of the ocean.

We went up this huge ski lift up the mountain.

Here is a view of the water from about half way up the ski lift.

And the view in front of us.  We were SUPER high up.  This sent nervous pains through Charles' body since some of those trees are probably around 100' tall.

While on the ski lift we got to see up high into the trees.  All of the trees had vines growing up them, but some trees had other plants growing on them.  This tree had something that looked like aloe vera growing on it.  I guess some birds dropped some seeds on the tree and then they grew.

We went on a "bobsled".

And went ziplining.  They were pretty good ziplines, but we didn't scream once.  Everyone else in our group screamed.  The guides thought we were extra tough.  Annette didn't think it was as nearly as scary as childbirth, so no need to scream.

This is one large tree with other multiple trees/vines growing up all around it so you can hardly see the large main tree in the middle.

Also while ziplining we saw these trees growing up out from a rock.

The double cables seemed like a nice touch for safety--not that the line would break, but in case the tree broke.

We ate this fruit call ginuep (not our photo).  They were tasty.  They have a big seed in the middle so you suck that fleshy part off.  Why don't they have these at Walmart?  Speaking of Walmart, there is a shack in Jamaica that was painted with the words, "Future Walmart".  Our taxi driver pointed it out to us saying it was the closest they had to the store.

Here is another gigantic tree.  This one was next to the Luminous Lagoon which is in between Montego Bay and Ocho Rios.  Do you see Annette?

The Luminous Lagoon (not our photo) was one of the biggest reasons Annette wanted to go to Jamaica.  At night time the microbs in the water glow when they are disturbed.  There are only four places in the world where this happens and Jamaica is the only one that is all year and the brightest.  We took a boat out and then Annette hopped in and swam around.  She felt like she was glowing like an angel.  It was her very favorite part of the trip.  The Jamaicans said that when it rains the entire lagoon glows like crazy.  It was super hard to take our own photos and an incredibly nice camera is needed.

Wednesday we watched the dolphins.  Half Moon Bay has six dolphins in a blocked off part of the ocean.

They swam about 30 feet from us and we could tell that they wanted to play with us, but we left that for our some other time.

We went horseback riding!

It was fun to try out an English saddle, but we kept grabbing for the horn that wasn't there.  We trotted around here to get to know our animal.  Trotting is painful.

Annette's always wanted to go horseback riding on the beach so we were able to check this one off of her bucket list.

Riding in shorts is not recommended.  Your legs get rubbed raw.

The horses want to drink the water, but you can't let them get much because it's so salty.  They don't use salt blocks for their horses because of the ocean.

This is just a gorgeous picture along our ride, even if it was just taken with Charles' phone.

We got to ride the horses into the ocean which was awesome!  Charles' horse pooped in the water.  That kind of squelched Charles' desire to go swimming in the ocean.  

Luckily his phone wasn't dropped on the ride.  You can imagine how hard it might be to get good pictures/video while on a horse!

We decided to wake up and check out the sunrise Thursday morning.  This was a little pier we walked down.

The beach didn't have a ton of rocks, but when it did, they looked incredible.

More gorgeous rocks

We found these little critters while we were waiting for the sun to rise.

We had to wait over an hour for the sun to rise because it wasn't all the way up until 5:45.

A few other things that we did were swimming in the pool and ocean, kayaking, working out in their Fitness Center (which is nicer than LA Fitness), being eaten alive by mosquitoes, Annette waking up super early, and the ATM eating our debit card leaving us with no cash.

Thursday we went swimming in the pool for a second time.  They also had a lap pool and a hot tub.

Some food we ate: jerk chicken with rice, jerk pulled pork, jerk sausage sandwich, omelets, smoothies, minestrone soup, Bomboloni (cream puff dessert thing), beef patty (breaded), and coco bread.  When you eat anywhere there was always 10% tax on food and 15% for gratuity even if it wasn't a sit down place.

This was growing just outside the steps up to our room.

Guess who didn't forget dressy clothes?  Now guess who did?  We wanted to eat at their nicest restaurant, an Italian restaurant named Il Giardino, but the guys had to have a full button-up dress shirt and dress slacks to eat there.  We convinced the restaurant next door which only requires dress shorts and polo shirts to serve us from the Italian menu. It's all the same company.

We got the best desserts ever!  Charles' was called Tortino Tepido Di Cioccolato Fondant Con Salame Al Cioccolato.  Translated, that must mean chocolate cake with molten middle, chocolate mousse, and two disks of fudge.  It was so heavenly that Charles got that Wednesday and Thursday night.  Oh, and the mint chocolate chip ice cream scoop was incredible as well.

Annette got the best salted caramel ice cream she had ever had!  If Charles predeceases her, she's found her new companion.

Our flights home weren't too bad.  Our layover in South Carolina was when we did customs coming back into the US.  We barely made it to our next flight since customs took so long and we had to go through security again.  One thing about customs that I didn't know was that you have to fill out these cards with info each time and of course we didn't have a pen either time and had to borrow one from a fellow fliers.

Kassie and the kids made this super cute little welcome home sign for us.  She cleaned our house spotless for us when we got back and we were so grateful!  The kids loved her and can't wait to see her again in a week and a half in California.

We brought home this Conch shell.  It was Annette's souvenir.

Charles and the kids all got Jamaican shirts.