Cozumel

22 06 2018

06 June 2018

When we woke up this morning at 6am, we were already docked in Cozumel.  CozumelWe weren’t supposed to arrive until 8am or so.  We had breakfast in the WindJammer cafe shortly after they opened at 7.  After breakfast we disembarked from the ship and started shopping at the shops near the pier where our ship was docked.  We had a 9:45 excursion so we didn’t have time to go in to town before the excursion.

We actually had two excursions planned for today.  The first was a panoramic tour of the island.  The bus was very cramped and it was hard to see out the windows from where we were seated so the tour part left a lot to be desired.  The next part of the tour was a tour of a tequila producer.  They talked about how they grow the agave and harvest it and then process it to create tequila.  Then we got to taste a couple of different tequila’s that they make as well as some of the mixes they make including a piña colada made with tequila.   My youngest purchased the piña colada mix and I purchased some tequila aged for 17 years.  I gotta admire the guy on the tour who drank tequila with us.  He probably does several of those tours a day and drinks 4 small samples of tequila during each tour. I don’t think I would be able to function very well after that much tequila.

I was so busy listening to the presentation and tasting tequila I don’t have any pictures.

The next tour was a dolphin encounter at Dolphinaris.  This excursion included play time and riding on a dolphin, lunch and drinks including adult beverages. 

The only downside to the whole excursion was the fact that you have to wash off all the sunscreen prior to getting in the water with the dolphins.  This left me with sunburns where the vest didn’t cover which was pretty much my shoulders, face and neck area.  I got to ride on a dolphin so I think that makes up for the sunburn.  Being the last time for the excursion meant we didn’t get to do the snorkeling, kayaking or paddle boarding that was also available.  Given that the excursion was limited in time regardless of when it started, I don’t know that we would have gotten to do that regardless of when the excursion started.

We got back in to the port area in Cozumel and I had to pick up some Mayan Fiesta rum cakes.    At some point I will be trying out the following flavors: Strawberry Daiquiri, Mexican Vanilla, Golden Original, Banana Daiquiri, Lime Margarita, and Piña Colada.  I also got a Cozumel t-shirt as I have to replenish my supply of t-shirts now that I am two sizes smaller than I was a year ago!

We got back on the ship and had some dinner.  Then I had an appointment with the on-board trainer to go over the detox program.  I have some additional information on foods to eat that will help raise my body’s pH level and a three month supply of Elemis supplements to begin the detox.  If you have advise or suggestions on doing what they called a cellular level detox and foods to raise my pH level, I would love to hear from you.  I plan to write here about my progress and the changes that I  notice as this process begins.  However I am NOT starting this until I am back home from vacation.  Starting something like this while on vacation just seems to be a really bad idea.

Tomorrow is Roatan, Honduras.  We are going to a private island to sit on the beach and do some snorkeling and just relax.

Until next time…





The First “Sea Day”

21 06 2018

05 June 2018

Today was a “day at sea” which means there were no stops in ports as we sailed from Nassau, Bahamas to Cozumel, Mexico.

Most of us ended up sleeping.  My oldest daughter Kelly didn’t get the sleep-in memo which means she was up and ready to have breakfast about the time the rest of us were just waking up.  I had plans to get up a 6 and go to the gym before breakfast.  However, since I didn’t set an alarm I over slept.  My body needed the rest so that part was good.  Not having breakfast with Kelly was not so good.

After the three sleepy heads finally got up and had breakfast, we went by the shore excursion place and purchased our excursions for Cozumel, Roatan and Costa Mayo.  After that we went to a way too long presentation on the upcoming shopping opportunities in the next three ports.  Barbara and I ended up leaving part way through as there was an 11am or was it 11:30am body detox seminar in the gym.  The Royal Caribbean app said 11:30 and the paper we signed up on said 11:00.  I figured the app had the most up to date information.  I was wrong.  We showed up 30 minutes into the presentation.  Oh well.  We got some good information. 

We caught up with the girls after the presentation and had lunch.  After lunch the ladies went and sat by the pool and I went to another seminar.  While it had a different title, it turns out it was the same seminar given by the other fitness person onboard.  Oh well.  After that I worked out on the elliptical and the recumbent bike for 25 minutes each.  I then showered and met up with Barbara for our paid consult and BMR test.  It actually told us several things.  The fitness guy then wanted to have us purchase their detox supplies.  Which since according to the numbers it would take me 12 months and Barbara 9 months to detox, we didn’t purchase them as the total cost fo the materials was about $2100.

After dinner we got piña colada’s in pineapples and went to see the OceanAria Aqua Show.  It was really good with acrobatics, diving and some comedy.   

Pineapple Colada

Until next time…





Our First Port: Nassau, Bahamas

20 06 2018

04 June 2018

Today we arrived in Nassau, Bahama’s. Our scheduled tour wasn’t until 9:45.  We got off the boat about 8am and decided to walk around town a little.   

IMG_0141After getting off the ship, the first thing we noticed was we could see fish in the water as we walked along the pier from the ship to shore.  Once we were in town, the people were all very friendly and all of them wanted to take us on a tour.  Many of them told us the many of the shops didn’t open until 10am.  I would think that since tourism appears to be the main thing in town, and since they know the scheduled arrival of the ships, they would be open shortly after the ship arrived.  I don’t know all the other things that go into making that decision though.


All decked out in my hair net and smock

 

 

 

We went on the Graycliff Chocolatier Factory Tour and Tasting excursion.  Since we were going to see where the chocolate was made, we had to put on a hair net and smock.

 

We got to see how cacao is harvested and what the pods look like. 

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Cacao pods

We also got to taste both white and dark chocolate.  Yes I know that white chocolate really isn’t chocolate.  Then we got to choose which type of chocolate to use to create our own chocolate bar.  First we had to polish the mold and then pour the chocolate into the mold.  At that point we could add cranberries, chocolate chips or shredded coconut to our chocolate bar.  When we were done with that, they took the molds and put the in a refrigerator to get the chocolate to set.  At that point we were allowed to pour some chocolate out on the parchment paper to make our own free form chocolate design.  The paper was cut around our designs and also put into the refrigerator.  They also gave us a marshmallow and a chunk of pineapple to dip in the chocolate and eat.

 

When the chocolate had set, they gave us bags to put our creations in to take home.  Given that it was 82-85 degrees outside, one of my daughters volunteered to take the chocolate back to the ship and put it in the fridge and then meet the rest of us for lunch. 

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We had lunch at a place called Señor Frog.  As you can see below, they have interesting ceiling decor with all the locations Señor Frog is located.

After lunch we walked down Bay Street and went in to almost every Jewelry store there.  Unlike Alaska, my lovely wife did NOT walk out with a new diamond ring.  At least not from this port.  There are three more stops on this journey.

My youngest daughter was trying to get some Tortuga Rum for a friend in Orlando.  Unfortunately, the liquor store we stopped in didn’t have it.  Looking on Google Maps showed a store about a mile down the road that apparently had some.  She and I walked there only to find that it was a store that sold Rum Cakes and NOT the Tortuga Rum she was looking for.  After seeing where this store was, I am glad I played the part of the over protective dad and didn’t let her walk there alone.  It was away from the tourist part of town, with many buildings vacant and curiously quite a few street lights that were missing.  Looking at the bolts and wires as we walked by, we wondered if this was damage from a storm or drivers who came up on to the sidewalk.  The hunt will continue in our next ports.

Tomorrow will be a day at sea with no port related information to report.  I have signed up for a couple of health seminars tomorrow and we are going to see about purchasing excursions for the rest of the trip after working out some things tonight.

Until next time…





Getting Underway

19 06 2018

June 3, 2018

Started out the day with a workout on the elliptical machine at the hotel. Yes even on my vacation I am still committed to trying to keep up the routine that has helped me lose weight. Given the amount of luggage for 4 people, we didn’t think we could all get into my daughter’s Camry to get to the port. We decided to purchase two seats on the shuttle from the hotel to the pier. That was an adventure as it was overbooked with one passenger having to sit on the lap of another.

We got on the ship and then had lunch after looking around a little. This is a huge ship. I think a friend told me the Allure of the Seas is the largest ship in the Royal Caribbean fleet. It is definitely much larger than the Holland America Eurodam that we were on when we did our Alaska cruise last year. My wife wants to go do Alaska again. I think I want to try and do one of the land and sea packages and spend some time seeing some of the Alaskan wilderness.

We did the required safety drill. They seem to be way over concerned about hand washing and sanitizing pretty much every time you touch something. It is a bit unnerving. Though I understand with 6500 passengers and 2500 crew the chance for something contagious being passed around is pretty high.

We had dinner and got my oldest daughter moved out of our room and in with her sister. I think we are all going to be more comfortable this way. The only problem is that they transformed the couch into a bed and now we have even less room in the cabin. Hopefully we can catch up with the cabin attendant tomorrow and let him know not to do that for the rest of the cruise. I hope they aren’t too upset with my extension cords as the only outlet is way too far away for my CPAP machine to operate. I guess I can wind them up in the morning which I will probably do anyway since I need them to make the couch back into a couch again tomorrow.

Tomorrow we arrive in Nassau and are touring a chocolatier on the island. Not sure what else we are doing after that.

Until next time…





Start of the Journey

18 06 2018

02 June 2018

I know this really isn’t June 2nd but I didn’t want to be updating the blog about being out of town while I was actually out of town. It may just be paranoia, but as a former coworker and friend said, “When they really are after you, paranoia is only smart thinking!”

I have been on a journey for over a year now. I will post more about that in a future blog post.

I consider my official start date of this journey August 1, 2017. We had recently booked a family cruise to the Western Caribbean and I was looking at some of the excursions. What took me somewhat by surprise was the fact that some of them had weight limits. Now this wasn’t the zip line or scuba diving where I know there are weight limits. This was playing and swimming with the dolphins. This sounded interesting but there was a weight limit. Those above 240 pounds could not participate. Since I was currently close to 300 pounds, it meant that my weight was going to be what limited me on this excursion.

I didn’t want my weight to be the reason I didn’t do the excursion. I had tried the gym, I had tried a nationally known weight loss program. Both worked, sort of, until I couldn’t afford to pay for them. I had gotten just under 270 pounds while working with a trainer. I had gotten down to 245 with the weight loss program. Neither of those were below the 240 that I needed to be under to do the excursion.

I knew that there were deeper issues behind my weight that simple behavior modification would solve. I decided to pray about this and ask God if this was the time for us to work on my weight. I was walking and trying to watch what I ate. The weight was starting to come off. In November my prescription for blood pressure medication ran out. I called the pharmacy to refill it and it was denied. It turns out that my medical insurance was now insisting that I see the doctor every 6 months while on long term medication. There was no way I was going to get in to see the doctor before Thanksgiving so I decided to start recording my blood pressure daily and see the doctor after Thanksgiving. I took my record of blood pressure measurements to the doctor and he was concerned. Not because my blood pressure was too high but there were several readings that were too low! With that diagnosis, I was officially taken off blood pressure medication.

In January I was going to the gym because walking when the outside temperature was below 50 was causing my hands and feet to be cold to the point of pain. I also got an app to start tracking what I was eating. I was stuck at about 270 pounds and was in a ± 2 pound band that I couldn’t seem to break out of. The combination helped me break through the plateau!

As I write this I am 56 pounds lighter than I was in August! Weight is no longer the reason for not playing with the dolphins! I can actually fit into an airline seat and bring the tray table down without having my stomach also resting on the tray table. It is amazing to feel the progress that has been made with God’s help. I did what I could do, watching what and how much I was eating as well as going to the gym. God did what only He could do. God removed my desire to sneak food and to eat something just so others couldn’t. God has also helped me ignore those tapes from childhood that told me I must clean my plate and to not waste food. I also no longer feel the need to eat leftovers just because they will go bad and have to be thrown out.

I am planning to blog more during this trip and maybe even include some pictures.

Until next time





Foster Care – Our Final Chapter

11 06 2018

Even after the dynamics of our second placement, we knew we weren’t finished with this foster care journey. We got two girls out of a group home in August of 2011. They were amazing young ladies who were about 26 months apart in age. They started going to the same school where my wife worked. The next year we enrolled them in the local elementary school as my wife was changing schools and we thought it would be good for them to go to school with other kids in the neighborhood.

It was about this time we were asked if we would be willing to adopt the two girls. We had already raised four kids through the teenage years and did we really want to do that again? Did I really want to go through the teenage years again with two more girls?We prayed about it and realized that God wanted us to take that step. So we said yes and then received a court order to become certified to adopt them as soon as the severance process was completed.

Though we didn’t talk to the girls about adopting them, having been with us for over a years, the girls started asking about where they would go to school for Junior High and High school. We emotionally got way ahead of the process. On the day that was supposed to be the start of the severance trial, literally an hour before the proceeding was supposed to start, the relatively new DCS worker told me they were going to be sending the girls back home with mom in 10 days. I think this DCS case worker had been on the case for a month or so when this happened.

For those of you who have read all my posts about foster care, the organization formerly known as Child Protective Services (CPS) was reorganized into the Department for Child Safety (DCS).

Anyway, to say the least I was devastated at this change of events. There was no hint that things had changed or that the plan had changed from severance to reunification. There was no consultation with us about when would be a good time to transition the girls from our care back to their mother. The date that was chosen was one week before fall break. Not that I ever wanted them to leave, but leaving school at fall break and starting a new school at the end of fall break would have been a better transition for the girls. Nothing short of the judge changing the order would be good for us but we were at least aware things like this could happen.

There was no way that I could break this news to the girls in a detached manner and I didn’t want to make this any harder on them then I thought it would be. I asked their DCS worker to give them the news. They knew something was up by the way we acted but it wasn’t until a few days later that their DCS case worked called and asked if they wanted to go home with mom. The youngest immediately said yes while the older was definitely more conflicted between her feelings for us and her feelings for her mom.

We told them that we still loved them deeply and after consulting with their mother did give them our contact information. It was one of the toughest things I have ever done to have their case worker pick them up from our home knowing they would never return and trying all the time to put on a brave front to not make it any harder on them.

We were deeply hurt and consulted a good friend who is a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA). She said the best thing to do was to contact the DCS ombudsman and file a complaint. She did tell us that complaining as hurt foster parents would likely be ignored. Instead she suggested reporting that DCS didn’t follow their own rules or allow us as foster parents to do what they trained us to do. That is to help the kids with transitions.

I filed the complaint online and a ew days later got a call from the ombudsman’s office. I told them that we are required to perform 30 hours of training on how to help kids transition. I also told them that we were not asked about timing for the transition. When they asked what they could do for me, I told them nothing unless they could reverse the court order, which I knew they couldn’t do. I told them they could give the other foster parents of the siblings of the girls we had time to help the kids transition like they trained us to do.

This complete reversal, and in my opinion abuse, by DCS caused us to take a few months off to recover. In that time we prayed and sensed that our journey with foster care was over. Little did I know that God was making space in our lives for another family issue.

While the girls never contracted us, we have seen the girls since they left. With their mom’s permission, we were able to take them for an afternoon and spend some time with them. They treated us and interacted with us as if nothing had happened. We hope and pray that they do well with their mother in the future.

Until next time…





The Second Foster Placement

9 06 2018

Our first placements included one who was medically fragile and that brought a whole new level of care that while we weren’t trained for, with prayer and help from lots of folks we completed.

Our second placement we requested out of a group home. She was good for a few weeks and then the defiance started. Having raised 4 kids we knew a little something about defiance but this young lady took it to levels we were not prepared for. Some of that I think was due to influences from her mother who was very vocal about her rights. I am all for peoples rights but for me that isn’t the first argument or comeback when things aren’t as they should be. The other thing that made this somewhat difficult is that this placement had court ordered phone calls with her grandparents that we had to supervise. The last thing I really wanted to do was listen in on another conversation that had nothing to do with me.

We had to fight to get her services. Removing her from a group home where there were lots of other kids to our home where she was effectively and only child was not a good move for her. We ended up asking to have her moved out of our home. Part of this was the fact that she was defiant beyond what we could handle and our support team didn’t have any suggestions that worked. Part of this was failure on both sides in regards to our licensing agency. Only when we were at the point of disruption did they mention services that they had for us. Because this was having a very negative effect on my wife and myself, though to a lesser degree, we ended up disrupting.

Thankfully our licensing agency was able to find another home within their agency to place her and she did much better there with other kids. She finally ended up be reunited with her mother.

Until next time…





Foster Care….the saga continues

6 04 2013

It has been awhile since I posted an update on our Foster Care journey. You may want to read Part 1 and Part 2 first to get the whole story.

We have reached the point where all the paperwork has been filled out, back ground checks done, certifications acquired and training completed. The bundle of information about my family has been turned in to the Office of Licensing, Certification & Renewal (OLCR). We were told it was taking 3-6 weeks to be certified. We are almost at three weeks. We were also told that there is a new supervisor at OLCR who is very meticulous about paperwork. With this new supervisor, we were told to not be surprised at all if there was some additional information that needed to be provided or more forms to fill out. I am hoping that we haven’t heard anything yet is a good sign. I would hate to think that they haven’t even looked at our paperwork yet.

This waiting is definitely developing patience in me. Actually the whole process has been a patience growing endeavor. However, I sincerely hope we are at the end of providing information and will soon be able to be a temporary safe place for kids who need that. I realize that once we have been certified, will mean the start of a new set of challenges that will only strengthen my walk with The Lord. I know He has brought my wife and I this far. There have been numerous hurdles that God has helped is over so far.

I have never dealt with bureaucracy well. I get frustrated by the sheer number of forms and apparently redundant information that has to be provided again and again. That and they don’t do things the way I think they should, which of course is the right way (no control issues here 🙂 ). Having a foster child, or children, is going to mean having to learn how to work with CPS, lawyers and the courts. I also realize that I am going to have to work within their schedules to a large extent. I have served on jury duty once so at least the court system is not completely foreign.

My wife and I will be holding on to the promise that God will bring us through anything He has called us to. I am thankful that we have developed a support network at church with other families who are foster parents. They will be a great resource of information and support when we need it.

Until next time….





A Little About Paul…

8 10 2012
Welcome to my blog. If you are still here by the end of this post, please be sure to leave a comment so I know who I am writing to.
My name is Paul I was born a long time ago in a land far away. Not really THAT long ago but I will qualify for AARP in 2013. And whether I was actually born in a land far away depends on your definition of far. If you had to walk it you would think it was far away but you can get there in about 14-16 hours by car. I never tried getting there by horse so I have no concept of how long that would take.
I found God, probably more accurately God found me, when I was in high school. There was a evangelistic meeting and this girl I would have done almost anything for, invited me to attend. I did. I believe the speaker that night was Tony Campolo. At the end when he did an alter call, I felt a stirring in my soul that I needed to go forward. I looked to my friends who I THOUGHT indicated they would go up with me. However when I stepped into the aisle and started walking, there weren’t there. I went up anyway. My walk with Christ was sporadic at best. It wasn’t until I was desparately trying to study for a Calculus test in college that my walk started to have direction. These two guys from a campus ministry wanted to share the gospel with me in spite of my protestations that I had to study for a calculus test. I let them talk and recommitted my life to Christ on that bench that day. I know something miraculous happend as that was the ONLY calculus test I ever got an A on.
Shortly after that this stunningly beautiful young lady started hanging out with the group of folks I hung out with. After a couple of dates, I created an “application” to be her boyfriend. Thankfully she said yes! We have been married since 1986 have four awesome children. One boy and three girls.
I have been very involved with the church ever since we were married sometimes burning myself out because I just couldn’t say no.
Many years and tears later, I started attending Celebrate Recovery (CR) as I was sick and tired of being overweight and all the challenges that come with it. As I have been working the program, I have felt the urge/guiding/leading to start writing a blog. If you want to learn more about the Celebrate Recovery program, feel free to ask me or go to the Celebrate Recovery webiste.
This won’t be all about CR, nor will it be all about my walk with Christ. Though those topics will come up. I have several topics in mind such as my review of iPad apps, my surgeries, foster care and my love of things pumpkin.
If for some bizarre reason you want to keep up with me between blog posts you can follow me on Twitter @pfrogers63 or facebook facebook.com/pfrogers
Since you made it this far, I would appreciate you letting me know you were here by leaving a comment.
Until next time . . .







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