Wednesday - February 29

Happy Leap Year Day.....can't believe it's the end of February!    2012 is just rollin' along......and so are we getting back into our routine here on Catrina.    Got the exercising out of the way (eased back into that after almost 2 weeks off), did 4 loads of laundry, and while I got a manicure/pedicure, Mark ran a bunch of errands.   Then a grocery run to Publix.

We heard about the nasty, devastating tornadoes in the Midwest - in February no less.     We were so isolated from the rest of the world while on the Stennis - no TV, phones, internet.    Last Thursday while at noon Mass, Father prayed for the 7 Marines who were killed in tragic and sure made us think
 "we are so out of touch"!

Breaking some records here in south FL with heat!     Our mail came today - so grateful for the sympathy cards and thanks so much for the many birthday wishes thru cards, phone calls, e-mails, texts, etc.

Getting started with the Tiger Cruise notes/photos.....hang in there!

Here's video of Ryan doing his thing

Tuesday - February 28

We are back on Catrina after a night of flying thru the friendly skies with Captain Philip.    Great experience and I had my picture taken with the Capt. in the cockpit!   We landed in Fort Lauderdale, rented a car, drove to Fort Myers Beach, and we zombies went to bed!   How special to have 2 sons show us "their" thing within a 2-day period with Ryan flying off the Stennis back to Lemoore and Philip, flying us back to Florida!

Where oh where to begin with our Tiger Cruise memories.    Right now I'm still in la la land, and need to get all my notes, photos, etc. in some order. is a  link which will give you a glimpse on what life aboard the Stennis was all about.    Our nephew, Jason sent us this from the New York Times and it is so well written.    This reporter had been on the ship earlier in the deployment (when the pirates were captured) and came back for the Tiger Cruise.  Ryan was one of many he interviewed for this article.   Mr. Chivers does an excellent job of really telling it "like it is"!

Late this afternoon, we visited Mark's sister, brother and spouses.   Jim and Mark took the rental car back to airport and then we had a wonderful dinner followed by euchre.

We Tigers/Nomads are sooo tired!   Till tomorrow...

Monday - February 27

We are back from a wonderful, exciting, very memorable Tiger Cruise with Ryan onboard the USS Stennis.

Rented a car from San Diego to Los Angeles and are hanging out with Philip at the Marriott before flying on the red eye (leaving at 10:45) back to Florida with Philip as our Captain - how about that?    A real coincidence and a great ending to a very special week    Lots more details to come....we are on a real high!

Monday - February 20

Aloha and Happy Birthday to me! And special wishes to my brother, Bob who has a big milestone today!!!

Mark and I met Ryan at the ship this morning and dropped off our bags and then got a brief glimpse of the magnitude of the Stennis! My oh my oh my......

Flight deck on the Stennis
Ryan and his Mama in his room on the Stennis

The 28th Annual Great Aloha Run always takes place on Presidents Day and we were in the thick of it - traffic was directed going the wrong way and over 1,500 runners/walkers participating!

Back to Waikiki Beach, walked around, and  enjoyed a perfect birthday lunch with mai tai, crab/bacon/avocado sandwich overlooking the Pacific at the Shore Bird with my hubby and baby.
 Life is GOOD!

Wonderful birthday lunch with my guys
Diamond Head

Ryan was meeting friends at the beach and Mark and I went for a drive to Kailua where the vegetation is very lush and green – beautiful mountains on one side of road and the turquoise waters of the Pacific on the other side. This is great surfing area and the waves are huge – surfers were out there doing their thing! It's been fun the past 3 days, driving around Oahu and seeing all the different landscapes, small towns, big city of Honolulu and overall beauty everywhere!

One thing I meant to mention yesterday when we were visiting John, Mandy and family, the crew and entourage of “Live with Kelly” was in KoOlina to tape her show. Not sure when that is being broadcast – maybe today?

Took lots of pics of all the lovely flowers, too....will be putting a photo album together after this trip......BUT, first things first and this vacation is all about the Tiger Cruise (just thankful they chose Hawaii as the spot to begin it all) Tonight we will spend on the ship; tomorrow, around noon (Hawaii time), we begin our voyage (6-days to San Diego). We will not have phone or internet service, blogging for at least a week. I'll be keeping a daily journal, taking lots of photos and will update after returning to Florida.

It's been a very memorable birthday with phone calls from my kids, grandsons, Mark's parents, Aunt Marian and my friend, Missy in Arizona. Bob and I had a good chat, and I thank you for the texts and facebook messages - much appreciated!

Take care and be thinkin' of us this next safe, happy and healthy!

Sunday - February 19

Happy Birthday, Patrick!    Thinking of you from Hawaii and hope you had a very fun day!!!   Sorry we didn't connect by phone!

Beautiful Sunday on Waikiki Beach. We took Ryan to the ship this morning where he's working a 24-hour shift. Had a nice 45-minute drive to Ko Olina where our nephew John and Mandy and 3 darling children live. Visited, we all took the golf cart to the beach (lagoon at Disney Village which just opened last August – beautiful). Rode around the grounds, stopped for treats and back home to visit some more.

Taylor, Jack and Kristen (Keke) enjoying some shaved ice

Mandy, Keke, Jack, John and Taylor

Slight drizzle when we got back to the hotel and then a beautiful rainbow appeared.

Mark and I had really good pizza at Round Table Pizza here at the resort - off to bed early - still trying to catch up!

I mentioned that the Stennis is docked at Hickam Naval Base; but I stand corrected (thanks Martha).   It is an Air Force Base......everything on the base says NAVY, so....guess I shouldn't have "assumed"?

Saturday - February 18

ALOHA............yesterday my thoughts were so mumbo jumbo....full of emotions, giddiness and pride!  I had
 many things I wanted to say about our experience of watching the Stennis come in and seeing Ryan (after 8 months).....but, last night, the ole brain was just in a whirlwind and tired!

I can't describe how it felt to see the top of the Stennis tower from far away and then come in so slowly with all the men and women in their dress whites surrounding the top flight deck. They were at full attention and saluted as they passed the Arizona Memorial. Shortly after, as they came closer, the crowd erupted in major hand clapping, shouting out, whistle calls, etc.......such an incredible moment –
THANK YOU GOD!  Our loved ones are safely back home!

About 1.5 hrs later, here comes Ryan with a big grin – all happy and healthy....and on with the hugs, kisses and tears!

For all those folks who came to pay their respects at the Pearl Harbor memorial, they were treated to the added bonus of seeing an aircraft carrier return from its 7-month deployment in the North Arabian Sea.

For more pictures from when the Stennis arrived, if you are a facebook user, you can do a search on
stennis 74.

Okay....on with Saturday....”just another day in paradise”....we did all sleep in and after an excellent breakfast at The Reef, we drove around past all the trendy, upscale shops, picked up a few things for the cruise and back to our room for a bit.

My deeelicious "banana macadamia nut pancake"

Then off to North Shore (60 mile trip) taking us past pineapple fields, the huge Dole Pineapple Plantation, coffee bean fields (look like vineyards) and others we are not sure what they were growing? Everything is very lush and green. We stopped in the town of Haleiwa and the Marketplace – lots of shops, cafes, etc. Had some yummy homemade ice cream and just enjoyed strolling around – reminded us of Key West....artsy, quaint, and colorful complete with crowing roosters!!!

As we were traveling back “home”, Ryan had a good phone visit with his Grandma and Grandpa.

The waves here at North Shore can get to 15-20' and we had planned to take a different route back to Honolulu along the water; but there had been an accident and traffic was backed up big time, so....took the shorter route.

Back to our hotel where Ryan grabbed his laptop, Mark and I, our Nooks and went downstairs to sit with coffee drinks (Mark and I) and beer for Ryan. This is such a beautiful place with gorgeous landscaping, flowers, pools, shops, restaurants, bars, etc. Each evening along with the all the lit tiki torches, they have some great Hawaiian music entertainment.   And what a coincidence that this is same place Mike, Theresa, Jim and Lydia stayed a few weeks ago when they vacationed here!

Some of the beauty here at the Hilton Hawaiian Village

View from our room on the 24th floor

Waterfalls and koi fish

Pink flamingos

Waikiki Beach
We had a very good dinner at Benihana - so much food, and first time for Mark and I to eat at one of these restaurants, but always heard how good they are.    Ryan suggested it and it was a winner!

The volcanic onion prepared by Chef Peter

Us at Benihana

Friday - February 17 - Meet the Stennis and Ryan Day

After 14 hours of flying yesterday and then the 5-hour time difference, we crawled into bed at 10:45 PM in Hawaii or 3:45 AM eastern time......

Not sure when we'll get adjusted to all this time change, but what the heck, we didn't come here to sleep.....up and at'em this morning and after breakfast we left for Pearl Harbor and walked around reading all about that fateful day - 12/7/41.   Lots of people taking the boat ride to the USS Arizona Memorial.    We along with other Tiger family members had a great spot for viewing and with the binoculars, we could see the Stennis coming in from way out.....oh my, what a proud moment seeing all those sailors and officers on the flight deck!

Here comes the USS Stennis and Ryan

The USS Arizona Memorial

The Stennis was docked by 10:30 and while waiting for Ryan, we took many photos of all the families waiting for their loved one to disembark the ship; the HUGE garbage detail taken off the ship; the many trucks reprovisioning the ship and on and on.   The time passed quickly just watching all the activity.    We drove to the Hickam Naval Base where the Stennis is docked and watched as the first 1,000 left the ship....unreal!   5,000 more to go!    Ryan was in this first group and off the ship around noon!

We checked into the Hilton Hawaiian Village (beautiful resort on Waikiki Beach).   Had lunch at The Tropics and just sat and chatted away.....

Ryan and proud Dad 

Ryan and his proud Mama

Sat by the pool sipping pina coladas and mai tais - what a beautiful place and so thrilled to be here with Ryan as we wait for the Tiger Cruise.

We went for a long walk along the beach (after all that sitting yesterday, sure felt good) and then enjoyed the excellent fireworks on the beach - big crowd on this beautiful evening.   

My cousin, Clarine had surgery yesterday and praying and hoping for a complete recovery!

Time to catch up on some sleep!

Thursday - February 16

 37 friends (old and new) gathered last night at Sue and Jerry's margarita party. Our host and hostess (with the most and mostest), along with Pat and Brenda did a bang-up job preparing a fantastic array of Mexican fare along with mango margaritas which were oh-so-yummy. It was a great party!

Jerry and Sue
Brenda and Pat

Up early and full day in the air....what fun to fly first class from Fort Myers to Dallas and then onto Seattle compliments of Mark's brother, Jim who had first class upgrades that were going to expire in March and which he graciously donated to us! THANK YOU, Jim!!!!!!

So happy to report that Mark's Mom got an all-clear report from her doctor yesterday and has no restrictions after her surgery 6 weeks ago! Now praying for some relief for his Dad who is having serious arthritis problems in the hips!

It was bright and sunny and oh-so-pretty as we flew across the snow-topped Colorado Rockies!

We are both a little giddy about seeing Ryan TOMORROW and enjoying Hawaii with him and then onto the Stennis!

Nite nite from Seattle.....and onto Honolulu (6 more hours)!  Turn up the volume and enjoy a little soothing island music!

Wednesday - February 15

Our February 15th was rocked big time when we got the news that my cousin, Clarine from Roanoke, VA was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor.     Her husband Bert was an orthopedic surgeon and 3 years ago critically injured in a biking accident that left him a quadriplegic.   Clarine called me a few days after Dad's funeral and we had such a good chat with tears, laughs and memories.    She was so excited for us going on the Tiger Cruise and said to be sure and tell Ryan how proud they were of him and would be following along on the blog.   I am shocked and so very sad...they are flying to Phoenix today where Bert's brother is a neurosurgeon and start her care/recovery.....

This news comes on the heals of another cousin, Dick who is dealing with serious health issues at Mayo Clinic......praying big time for these wonderful people!!!   Dick, Clarine and I are all first cousins.

We exercised, finished our packing and now I want to get this blog out early as we are going to a margarita party this afternoon/evening with friends from back home at Sue and Jerry's.     We will spend the night with them and then leave in the morning for our Tiger Cruise - Fort Myers to Dallas to Seattle to Honolulu (LONG day of travel with a 5-hour time difference).    Just can't wait to see our boy....the Stennis arrives Friday.   We'll have 4 days with Ryan in Hawaii before boarding the ship Monday night (20th - also my birthday) and start cruising on the 21st arriving in San Diego the 27th.

 Really appreciate all the many good wishes for our safe travels and fun times on this exciting adventure!

Valentine's Day - 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!!!!

The windows were wide open today to let the fresh air, sunshine and nice balmy breeze in.....just a beautiful Valentine's Day and I hope you've had a grand day!

Mark ran a bunch of errands, got a haircut and did boat stuff. I did laundry, packed, got a manicure and then we went for a bike ride (1st time since Marathon.........)!!!

Took bikes and helmets to Jim and Lydia to use while we are gone. Mike and Theresa had brought their bikes to FL.....they'll have a great time biking around Fort Myers!

We were treated to a fabulous steak dinner which Mike, Theresa, Jim and Lydia prepared – an awesome home-cooked meal really hit the spot as we've been eating out so much! We played 6-handed euchre and then 5-handed euchre with Mark sitting out – but they had not played these games before, so....lots of fun and laughs!
Pat, Mark, Theresa, Mike, Lydia and Jim

Monday - February 13

Beautiful sunny day, but cool and breezy.    We exercised, tidied  up Catrina and then it warmed up and we had a delightful afternoon with Mike, Theresa, Jim and Lydia.   
They came aboard Catrina, we cruised in the Back Bay, had snacks and drinks.   After docking in our slip, we walked over the bridge
Lydia, Jim, Mike, Mark and Theresa

 to SOB (Smokin' Oyster Bar) for lunch----more good stuff! 

   We took the trolley back to Main Street and walked on home, stopping at the Beach Seafood Market along the way.

Sat on the upper station and just enjoyed the pretty day....
Lydia and Jim
Mike and Theresa

Here's web site I think you would enjoy about the USS Stennis and its air operations  

One month ago today, Mark developed his floater and off  to Miami we went....just an update, that little sucker is still with him, but he notices it less and less.

Sunday - February 12

This morning it was darn chilly here in south FL and we laughed when we went to church - lots of folks out walking all bundled up in winter coats, stocking caps, etc....but it's supposed to be for a short duration, so....

After church, we stopped at Publix for a few things and then started in on packing and getting our stuff together - Thursday, we leave for Hawaii and the Tiger Cruise with Ryan aboard the USS Stennis from Honolulu to San Diego!   We are just a little excited!!!!!

 My cousin, Karen sent this awesome video that makes us so proud and adds another boost to our patriotism ..  2011 West Virginia University Marching Band Armed Forces Salute - YouTube 

This afternoon we visited Mark's sister, Theresa and Mike and brother, Jim and Lydia who are in Fort Myers for a month!    Great to see them and catch up.....then to Doc Ford's for delicious dinner and more chatter!  

Theresa, Jim, Lydia, Pat, Mark, Mike

Saturday - February 11

Big difference in the weather today - cool and very windy!    We left at 8:00 for Venice and had a great day visiting with long-time friends.  We were dockmates at Reefpoint Marina in Racine, WI for several years.    After an hour or so of catching up at Bob and Carol's, we all went to the Venice Yacht Club (what a beautiful facility) for delicious lunch and then we girls shopped Venice Avenue (this is my favorite town in FL).    Met the guys and we drove out to the beach, boardwalk, etc.  The gulf was wild - big ole waves crashing all over the place!    Not a good beach day....that's why the shops were all busy and crowded!

Mark and Barbara
Bob and Carol
Barbara, Mark, Bob, Carol, Mark and Pat

We said our good-byes and arrived back to Catrina at 6:00.   Did 2 loads of laundry - wind is still blowing and Catrina is rock 'n rollin'.

Friday - February 10

Boy the weatherman sure missed today's forecast which called for a rainy, cloudy day!    And tah was just perfect with oodles of sunshine and a warm breeze.   Friends from back home, Paul and Margaret came on board and we left to cruise on the the Back Bay and then anchored out in Hurricane Bay having drinks, snacks and lots of good catching up!    

Margaret and Paul
Mark, Pat, Margaret and Paul enjoying late lunch at Big Game

Pretty flowers here at Salty Sam's Marina

Mark and I went for a walk late this afternoon and met a couple (Bonnie and Joe) from MI who Mark had met in Charleston, SC when we were there this fall (I was shopping) coming down the coast with Catrina.    Their RV is in same park we had Daisy last winter!    Nice foks and hope to get together when we are back from our Tiger Cruise.

Thursday - February 9

FUN day with boating friends for our 5th Annual Mid Illini Florida Winter Rendezvous......John and Heather from TN stopped in to see us and Catrina.   Along with Fred and Jeanne, we went to Doc Ford's to meet the gang - 8 couples from IL, MO, TN and FL.    Great fun catching up with these long-time friends over drinks and lunch sitting outside - windy today and mostly cloudy.    Some left for home and others came back to Catrina where we visited more and then at 5:00, 10 of us went to Parrot Key to get a table for dinner and enjoy Frank Turino who performed from 7-10.   He's a great entertainer who can sing it all and impersonates Elvis.... 

Paula, Marcia, Pat, Viv, Heather, Jeanne, Pat and Kathy

Mark, Mike, Glen, John, Ron, Fred, Paul


Wednesday - February 8

Today started out dreary and cool, but around 10:00, the sun came out and oh what a beauty - low humidity, too!!!    We exercised, I did some e-mails and after lunch we ran some errands.

Our mail caught up with us today - oh, what a heartwarming big bundle of sympathy cards, notes, photos, etc.   - definitely more tears as I read these from family/friends sharing their thoughts and memories.   THANK YOU!!!

Friends from Punta Gorda, Fred and Jeanne arrived this afternoon by boat, so...had a nice visit with them on Catrina and then Glen and Paula who live in Fort Myers arrived - great catching up with everyone.   We walked to Parrot Key for delicious supper (grouper Reuben) and a delightful evening with good friends, food and music!

Mark, Glen, Paula, Pat, Jeanne and Fred
at Parrot Key

Tuesday - February 7

A beautiful day in southwest Florida and a great day on the water with good friends.....Connie and Steve, Sharon and Harry and Sue and Jerry (we all used to play bridge together years ago....) came on board Catrina and we sat and yakked away.    Left around 11:30 for Bayfront Bistro (favorite of ours and easy to get in and out with the boat).   All enjoyed their lunch.  Then for a nice long ride down the bay and out onto the gulf.

We all sat on the upper station and more visiting with drinks and chocolates....absolutely gorgeous day and so thankful to have these good friends in our life!

Leaving Bayfront Bistro
Mark, Pat, Steve, Connie, Harry, Sharon, Sue and Jerry

Harry and Sharon
Jerry and Sue
Steve and Connie
The Gulls...
Sharon, Connie, Pat and Sue
The Buoys...
Mark, Harry, Jerry and Steve

Monday - February 6

Strange day weather wise - sunny and pleasant; then torrential rain and really cooled down; then sun back out and warm again and then more rain???   Weather was a bit confused

We exercised this morning and then Mark took me to Hot Heads on the Beach for a much needed haircut.    Claire and Kathy picked me up and we went to Bayfront Bistro for delicious lunch (they treated me for early birthday gift) and lots of chatter.   Sooo much fun to be with these gals....last saw them 12/29 when we celebrated Kathy's birthday back home.   I'm slipping.....forgot to take a picture!    Arghhhh!!!

After lunch we shopped at Santini Plaza - fun shops and they brought me back to Catrina.    After the last shower of the day, Mark and I scrubbed the boat and then went to Big Game for supper.    There is an old car show going on in the parking lot - lots of people.  Walked around - nice evening and hoping for full-time sun tomorrow.

Sunday - February 5

Hello from Zombieville.   This Super Bowl Sunday was a "down" day" for us - all the emotions from the past several days left us dragging and mentally drained!   

 We started the day with 10:30 Mass at Church of Our Resurrection, then a Publix run.   I did 3 loads of laundry, unpacked and straightened up Catrina (more of that coming tomorrow) and Mark worked on taxes.   

Mark's cold is much better!    Warm sunshine is the best cure!

Connor and Liam with their new roller blades

Cute story to share......Liam so wanted roller blades for his birthday, so that was one of his presents from us.    Yesterday was his party and he received several  Toys R Us gift cards...since he knew we were giving him the roller blades, he wanted to use his gift cards to buy Connor a sweet!    Way to go, Liam!    You're a STAR ******* in our book!!!

Saturday - February 4


Our sweet Liam is SEVEN years old today!    How can that be?    We talked to him this morning, he was having a party today and so excited!

Happy 7th, Liam

Annette prepared one of her delicious breakfasts (veggie sandwiches and fresh fruit) and then we left Lake Worth and headed back to Fort Myers.   Stopped at the huge flea market which is unbelievable and a real Fort Myers attraction on Friday-Sunday.    Lots of people there and we picked up some things, stopped at Cold Stone Creamery for ice cream treats and on home to Catrina.   It is a spectacular day....

We skyped with Anne, Connor and the birthday boy.    Picked up Paul and Kathy and met Barb and Roger at The Watermark in Naples for excellent dinner......soo good to all be back together in FL.   After dinner we went to Roger and Barb's condo in Bonita Springs for more visiting.

Friday - February 3

We are in Lake Worth tonight hanging out with Annette and her Dad, Dave who is visiting from IL.   Got our rental car returned and will be taking Toad back to Fort Myers Beach tomorrow.    So good to be here, but bummed that we won't see Philip who is in Chicago tonight and then flying to Dallas late.

After we returned the car, we went to Costco for some good stuff (love this place) and brought home delicious pizza.   Played dominoes (I was the DQ).   And Annette and I played Rummi Kube with each of us winning a game.

We gradually eased back into the weight lifting this morning after being away from that for 12 days.  I got a pedicure and we left Fort Myers around 11:30, stopping at Five Guys for a burger - 1st visit for us and oh my.....delish!    Sooo good, gooey and gloppy (may have clogged our arteries just a bit)?

Mark is fighting a nasty cold!   Hope the warm sunshine will kick in fast and make him all better!

Anne dropped a flashlight on her toe and broke the little one and now wearing a soft shoe for a week.....bummer!

Hope you all have a nice weekend wherever you are, whatever you're doing!

Thursday - February 2

We are back on Catrina in Fort Myers Beach - yeah.....77 when we got off the plane tonight!    Tomorrow we will head over to Lake Worth and get Toad and spend the night with Annette (Philip is working).

Ron's and Bob's fly to Florida tomorrow morning......we had a busy, productive week and know that our new "star" in heaven is watching over us!!!!    Love you, Dad......and miss you so very much!

Wednesday - February 1

Happy Birthday to my brother, Ron.....the 6 of us celebrated tonight at Regina Lane's with an excellent dinner topped off with thee best grasshoppers!!!

Ron and his sweet grandson, Caden

Wrote more thank you notes, visited my Aunt Marian and then Mark's folks came....they will use our truck while we're gone, but hopefully, no more severe harsh weather.

Tomorrow we'll be heading back south.....been a busy, productive week!