Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Jamaica: Everting Irie, Mon!

Before I take you through our trip to Jamaica I will give you a little lesson that our bus driver told us: "In Jamaica we have noa problems. We only have situations, mon. Sometimes we have some serious situations, but never any problems. When everting is all good we say 'everting irie, mon"

Hence the title.

Ever since serving in New Jersey and meeting many Jamaicans (and eating their DELICIOUS food) I have wanted to visit Jamaica. The fact that Montego Bay would be our first stop made the cruise just that much better.

Under my parents recommendation (who took this exact same cruise a few years back) we decided to try the Chukka Kayak and Canopy tour. I think Chukka is the name of the river there but I'm really not sure...

We left the boat and took a long winding bus ride through some very poor parts of the city. It was very humbling to see poverty in other countries and see how much less they have than the 'poverty' in America.

Finally getting to the (Chukka?) river we suited up and got ready for adventure.

The tour began with a mile or two kayak trek down the river. We got in our banana boats (literally) and headed downstream.

That was the kayak part of the river (obviously). Next came the canopy part. We got our of our life preservers and took a minute to look cool in front of some really tall bamboo.

Before turning into human mushrooms. Very dashing. Donning our new gear, we climbed up the side of a mountain.

We were then off into the vast unknown jungle! We would ride zip lines from jungle canopy platforms. As you can see from the pictures below it wasn't possible to see the end of the zipline. Because of this the operators/guides would yell out from the forest "WHHHHHHHOPP!!!!!" (atleast that's the best I can do to spell it). Once they heard that noise echoing through the jungle they'd shove you off the end of the platform and away you go.

After spending maybe an hour or so flying through the jungle it was time to return to the river. We kayaked another mile or two before boarding a rickety truck and bouncing around all the way back. That truck was nuts! It's bad enough that the road's practically falling off the side of the mountain but then the Jamaican guides keep randomly screaming from the back with every bump.

To any Harry Potter fans out there, Crystal described the truck ride as riding the knight bus from the Prisoner of Azkaban movie. It was even more fitting because the movie bus had that shrunken Jamaican head that was talking the whole time.

We survived the truck ride and returned to camp where we were all able to enjoy the absolute deliciousness that is jerk chicken. My family loved it so much they let Crystal and me cook jerk chicken since we have been home. Yum!

Here we are with our awesome guides (and randomly our bus driver in the back) before we went back to the boat.

Jamaican me crazy, mon!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

I'm on a boat

After graduating from BYU and finishing our move to Texas in this beast:

Note: This truck wasn't just for our stuff - we shared a truck with friends to each save mucho dinero on the move

We were treated to be able to go on a 7-day Caribbean cruise with my parents! I have wanted to go on a cruise for YEARS! Think about it, I eat basically constantly (thank heavens for fast metabolism) and on a cruise you just eat...all the time! Like chocolate and peanut butter or anything mixed with ketchup, I was just meant for cruising.

About to leave Galveston - Don't we have the look of pure 7-days-of-cruising joy?

We checked into our room which looked and felt like an oversized airplane bathroom (complete with the super-flushing toilet). We dropped out bags and headed up to the main deck.

Over the course of the 7 days there are two formal nights where the men dress up in tuxes and the ladies in their gowns. The first formal evening was the second day.

Kinda like Titanic...except without the icebergs and screaming and death...

Here we are at the first formal night eating dinner with my parents. Two lovely ladies and two guys who look like James Bond! Rather dashing!

Alas even over 7 days it just wasn't long enough and all too soon we returned back to Houston.

I know this is a short post, but it's simply not possible to talk about everything from a 7-day cruise and this at least gives you some pictures. I will try however. Over the course of the week I will put a single post for each of our port-of-calls on the trip (Jamaica, Kayman Islands, Cozumel Mexico) so you can enjoy them to.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Jon's all grown up... well, sort've ;-)

He did it!! He graduated with his Masters of Information Systems degree! I am so proud of him! He worked so hard and he had so much fun in this major. If you are interested in learning about the Information Systems program at BYU, just ask Jon. He will sell you on it even if you've never sat at a computer ever before- he loved it that much.

His graduation ceremonies were on the 22nd and 23rd of April. On the 22nd was the big convocation in the Marriot Center. The guest speaker was Elder D. Todd Christofferson, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Before we attended that we were able to spend some time with my dad, Shane and Seth. Early in the morning Jon put on his cap and gown and we headed to campus to take some pictures before the crowds. I am so thankful we did! Then we went up on to campus to look around a little bit and we also took them to J Dawgs for lunch. A must-do outing if you have never been! I miss it already! Then we ate it up at the "Y mountain" parking lot. Pretty view!

Later we met up with Jon's parents (Anne and Clyde) for graduation. Jon was wearing a "2010" blinking light pin that my sister, Shannon sent me for the marathon/graduation. It came in handy! We were able to spot him as soon as he came in and where he was sitting. He would turn it off and then others sitting around him would tell him to turn it on and tell their parents "see the blinking light? I am sitting around there". Awesome. :-) For dinner that night the whole family went out to Jon's favorite place (and mine too!) India Palace. I felt bad because the wait for the food was ridiculous that night. We waited forever! Then, Seth was a trooper and he was willing to try the food, but I don't think he was all that into it. Poor guy. Picky eater ;-)

On the 23rd we headed up to the Bean Museum on campus. We just wanted to show Seth different things to do on campus that was free. We bumped into some of Jon's family and then we headed back home to get ready for Jon's convocation. His program was having a luncheon at the Tanner Building so we headed over there for some free food. Jon was also able to show everyone the "MISM Lounge" and where he spent most of his time. Then Jon left to head up to the Marriot Center and we followed. We met up with Anne, Clyde, & J+V. Again, Jon had his light on so I could spot him! So handy! He turned it off when he walked up to receive his diploma ;-)

That night my dad took us all out to Sizzler. The food was great! I enjoyed it a lot. Then Jon and I took everyone out to Sub Zero for ice cream. Oh my goodness. I know, it's not "Blue Bell" or Cold Stone or whatever you really like- but it was my favorite place to go for ice cream. I will really miss it! Quick! Someone open up a franchise in Houston!

The next day I believe we went to the Tulip Festival up at Thanksgiving Pointe. It was a lot of fun to spend time together and see all the flowers. Heh, Jon was a little upset though. He had accidentally locked his keys in the car. They fell out of his pocket when he reached back in to get something. We had to call the police department to come and help us out. It was free and he had all the right equipment to help us out! Some police stations swear they don't have the equipment, but they will offer to break your window for you- or they will come out no matter what to break the window if there is a child or pet in the car.

Why do I know this? Because when we got to Austin during the move- I did the same thing. Only, I had to call a locksmith and pay him $50 to do it. And! He was a million times slower than the police officer who helped us at Thanksgiving Pointe! Go figure. Anyways...

Then later we went to a play up in Orem. For the life of me I cannot remember the name of it. We had a blast though. Shane was dying laughing. His laugh made the whole thing funnier! As soon as I remember the play name I'll tell you :-) (EDIT BY JON: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels)

The next few days are a little bit of a blur for me. We had a picnic/BBQ with Jon's family. We also had some family pictures taken there as well. We all had a really nice time with everyone. My dad, Shane and Seth were really helpful with helping us pack up a few things in our apartment. We really appreciated all of their help! Life was busy with graduation, family, the funeral, marathon, Jon's finals and being sick that we had little time to get it all done. Thanks guys!On Sunday morning I drove my dad up to the airport. I really enjoyed having him out to visit and I was thankful that he was finally able to meet Jon's family! It was the first time! He seemed like he enjoyed himself and I am glad for that.

I drove back down to Provo and we headed up to campus to give Seth "the tour". We also went up to the Cannon Center to have lunch. I wanted him to see where he would be eating if he came up here. We went to church and then we hiked the Y! It was awesome! We had a great time. It was a little bit of a challenging hike and I know the altitude was a kicker for Shane. I did amazingly well for having just run a marathon the week before! I am glad we got to do this before we left.

Monday morning the boys left and Jon and I were left to get the moving van and get packing and cleaning! Cleaning was really quick this time around. I had a few girls come and help me, but I had done some deep cleaning each month and it really helped it all go faster. Friends came to help us pack the truck and seriously it took them 20 minutes at most to get it all out of the apartment! Awesome! Thanks everyone for all of your help! We grabbed dinner at Quiznos and ate it on the floor of our empty apartment. It was bittersweet. Villa Rose- our first home together. We were ready for the new adventure of moving to Houston and we were really excited. We spent the night on our air mattresses and we ended up throwing mine out- it had a hole in it and I just didn't want to deal with it. We got up super early and packed up the rest of our stuff and we were off to meet Nate and Jess to start our caravan adventure!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Happy June!!

Hello everyone! It was a tradition between me and my mom to always be the first to say "rabbit rabbit" to one another on the first of every month. It's supposed to give you a month worth of good luck if you are the one to say it first :) Jon and I joke about it and we try to say it to one another in the morning- or if we forget one of us usually gets a text later in the day. If you don't believe this is a real tradition- look it up on Wikipedia!

It has been a while and I apologize for that. A lot of events have taken place and we will be posting about all of them little by little. First things first- we safely arrived in Houston with no problems (hurray!) and Jon finally has his official start date (July 12th).

If you are wanting a marathon race recap you can find it over at my running blog click here for the race recap post. I just didn't want to write 2 posts about it. :-)

The day after the marathon I got a phone call telling us that my sweet Grandma Howe (who was living in Worland, WY) had passed away. At that point, things were getting crazy. My brother, Shane and his son, Seth were coming in that week along with my dad. Jon's parents had already arrived and we were in the middle of packing up our little apartment.

Me and Grandma Howe summer 2006

Shane and Seth were able to bump up their flight so they could get in on Tuesday so we could make the trek up to WY for the funeral. I met them at the airport in the early afternoon and we drove up to WY and made it in time for dinner at my Uncle Roger's home. We made it safely and the only bad thing that happened was that I got pulled over. I know. Shameful! I have never been pulled over- ever! I was lucky and got off with a warning because according the sheriff- my record is squeaky clean (hehe). Shane couldn't stop laughing. I'll probably never live that down. Anyways, we arrived and were greeted by many relatives on my mother's side and it was so good to see them all. It was obviously not the best circumstance to be seeing them, but we did enjoy ourselves.

We spent the night in a hotel at the "edge of town". Boy, did we all get a kick out of that while we were out there. Shane, Seth and I had a blast spending time together. It has been a long time since I was able to spend some quality time with them. The service was on Wednesday and we gathered again at Uncle Roger's for breakfast and then headed to the church. It was a wonderful service. My Grandmother was so kind and sweet. It there were 5 things to sum her up it would be: love for the gospel of Jesus Christ, gardening, baking, playing the piano and loving her family. She is one of the greatest examples in my life. She was a strong woman and I seriously wish I inherited her green thumb! I can't grow a thing! Seriously, check out this zucchini!

Seth in front of Uncle Tom's Porsche :-)

All of my uncles spoke and they spoke about my grandparents together and they reflected on the reunion they must be having. They went in order by age (youngest to oldest). Because of the loss of my mother, my Uncle Tom stood up in her place. It was really sweet of him. I am usually good at taking control of my emotions, but I just lost it and was balling. He gave a really nice remembrance of her. My mother will always be my hero. On a side note- we read a talk from this last April conference last night for family home evening and it talked a lot about mothers and daughters. Parts of it discussed the affect mothers have on their daughters and how they need to be an example to them and a source of strength. She will always be that for me.

Grandma Howe was buried next to Grandpa Howe. It was just so fitting. She always spoke of "her Milo" and you could sense how much she was missing them. How great that reunion must have been. I am so thankful for this Gospel and for the knowledge that we have of eternal families. Yes, it's sad to lose a loved one and it's okay to mourn and take time to reflect on it. However, it always brings comfort to know that this is all a part of Heavenly Father's plan and that families are the only organization that will exist beyond the veil and that we will be able to see our loved ones again.

There was a luncheon after the service and we had some great food and got to talk with our Aunts, Uncles and cousins a little more. We said our goodbyes and headed on our way to get back on the road. We were told by our cousin, Aaron to stop off in a small town for some ice cream. So, with that in mind- we headed out. On our way way we hit a really weird storm. It was like it got very foggy and we couldn't see a thing! Visibility was totally gone. Then all of a sudden we made it out of it and we looked behind us and saw the "cloud" of whatever was still behind us. It was so bizarre! We made it to the ice cream place and I think it lived up to the hype :-)

Once we got into Utah we headed to Beth's home where we would meet up with all of Jon's family and my dad (he arrived on that day, Wednesday). It was a great trip and a wonderful remembrance of my Grandparents.

Jon with Grandma Howe summer 2006