Meeting our New Granddaughter

Last October, at our youngest son Kenny’s wedding, oldest son Billy informed us that he and his wife Lori were expecting their third child.  Having started with a girl and then a boy, we figured they were done, but we were overjoyed when we heard that their family would be growing.  

Just over a week ago, on Wednesday afternoon, April 17th, Billy sent us the following text, “Annabelle Lorraine D’Elia is here!  Lori and baby are both doing great!”, and we got to see the first pictures of our just born Granddaughter!

A little later, we got details that she was born at 4:06 PM, was 7 lbs. 4 oz, 21 inches, “And beautiful”, said the proud Papa!

The next day was a big one in little Annabelle’s life!  First, she got to meet her big sister and big brother, when our 5 year old Granddaughter Layla, and her 3 1/2 year old brother Henry visited Mommy and Annabelle in the hospital.  Just looking at Layla and Henry with Annabelle, it’s easy to tell that both of them are thrilled to have a new baby sister, and are going to be a great big brother and sister!  The other big event in little Annabelle’s life was that she and Mommy were going home!  Hard to believe, but within 24 hours of being born, Lori and her newborn baby were getting out of the hospital, and going home.  How time changes the way things work.

Another thing we learned on Thursday was that they were going to be calling her Anna.  I had to tell Billy at that point that his Anna D’Elia was not the first time that first and last name had gone together in our family.  His grandfather’s mother, my paternal Grandmother was also named Anna D’Elia.  She died in 1953 when I was 3 years old, and I don’t have any recollection of her beyond pictures and stories, and don’t know if Billy had ever even known, but little Anna and her Great Great Grandmother share the same name!

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My Dad’s Mom…another Anna D’Elia

Although pictures kept coming from North Carolina to Ocean City, at this point Susie and I could not wait till Saturday when we were heading down to NC to spend Easter weekend with Billy’s family and to meet the newest member of that family!

Our trip started early Saturday morning with torrential rain as we left Ocean City, but by the time we got to Delaware, the weather had calmed down, and the further south we drove, the nicer the weather got.  The drive was long, but once we got to their house Saturday afternoon, that was all forgotten and we were taken with how incredibly beautiful and small our new Granddaughter was.  We tend to forget the size babies are when they come home from the hospital, but even though it’s been 30 plus years since any of our babies were that size, Susie had absolutely no trouble sliding right into Grandma mode!

Anna was very awake and totally aware of what was going on around her.  She sized us up, and we like to think decided we were acceptable as Grandparents!  I know for sure she liked snuggling with Susie, and enjoyed the bottle she fed her and even the diaper change Grandma effected!  And for Grandma, it was of course, love at first sight, especially the new baby smell!  And what was I doing while Grandma was bonding with her Granddaughter, why Grandpa was playing Mouse Trap with Layla and Henry!

I don’t remember if our kids ever had the game Mouse Trap, but it’s something Layla and Henry always drag out and want to play with Grandpa.  It’s a diabolical game, that takes about 3 times as long to set up as it does to play, but the kids love it!  Honestly, the game itself is rather lame, but the board, with all it’s levels and Rube Goldberg kind of ball drops is a lot of fun, and what they really love about the game.  As the saying goes, “Some Assembly Required” and this time took the efforts of Grandpa and Dad before we could play.  About halfway through, Henry tired of the game and Layla and I continued to play for him and in the end, he won, Layla came in second, and Grandpa last!  Not my favorite game, but playing with those two is some of the most fun I have whenever we visit!

Talking to Billy and Lori, we discovered where Annabelle’s name came from.  Annabelle was Lori’s late Dad, Fred’s ,Mom’s name, and Lorraine was Kathy, her Mom’s Mom’s name.  Once Billy knew that Anna was his Grandfather’s Mom’s name, he commented, “So she was named after 2 old Italian ladies”.  

The next day was Easter, and we were all going to a big family gathering at Lori’s sister’s house, and Billy and Lori needed some items from the store, so while we watched the 3 little ones, Billy took Lori on an outing to the grocery store!  Is there anything better in life, than spending time with your Grandkids??  Love talking to Layla and Henry, and getting their take on life.  Grandma was in 7th Heaven with Anna, while honestly, Layla and Henry are more my speed.  Love hearing them call me “Grandpa”!

Easter Sunday dawned cloudy and the weather forecast was for a cool and cloudy day.  We arrived at Lori’s sister Kerry and her husband Bill’s house at 11 AM, and were immediately surrounded by family, including 11 kids under the age of 10, including Layla, Henry and Anna!  Everyone had brought something to contribute (we’d brought traditional Easter Pies from my Dad’s heritage), and there was so much food, including the very good Shrimp and Grits our son had made.  It was a great day, with lots of food and conversation and the kids playing, and participating in an Easter Egg hunt, and Anna spending time in a lot of folks arms…even Grandpa’s!  

After a busy Easter, Mom and Anna were pooped and just looking for some down time, so we spent our last day in Raleigh with our son Billy and Layla and Henry.  First on our schedule, lunch at Chik-fil-a and playing in the playroom (Layla and Henry that is).

Next we were off to see The Missing Link at the movies.  The theater we were going to was in a neat shopping destination called North Hills.  Along with the theater there were restaurants and shops all along carefully laid out streets.  Once we got the tickets, we went on a short walk to look around, before Dad got a Starbucks coffee, and we settled on a park bench while the kids played a bit in the gorgeous sunshine!

Once we got to the movie theater, it was tough to steer Henry away from the little arcade that was right inside the entrance, but with the promise of soda and popcorn, we moved to the theater.  Like when we went to the movies in Florida, this is one of the new theaters with reclining seats, and all the comforts of home, and the two kids made full use of them!  Grandpa had to sit next to Henry and Layla had to sit next to Grandma.  Then Daddy wisely got both the pop corn and soda split into two for them, and after about 20 minutes of previews, the movie finally started.  I don’t know why they have to do the same endless previews with kid’s movies, because every time a preview started, Henry would ask me, “Is this the movie Grandpa?”.  What a pain!  We enjoyed the movie, but by the end, Daddy had both kids in his lap, forgetting the carefully crafted seating plan they’d earlier devised!  After 30+ years, you forget what it’s like to have little kids!

By the time the movie was over, and we’d gotten Henry off the motorcycle in the arcade, it was close to 5, and as it was a school night, it was time to say good-bye to our son and grandkids.  Hugs and kisses were given all around, and promises to see each other real soon were uttered, as they walked Grandma and Grandpa back to their car.

As we always do, we loved our time with our North Carolina Family, loved being with our Grandkids, and loved meeting little Anna.  It’s hard when your kids and their kids live a 7+ hour drive away from you, but you make it work, and you enjoy the hell out of the time you get to spend together.  I know we both did, and will enjoy the memories till we get together again, either in Ocean City or in Raleigh.  It is what it is!

Week 2

Pardon the delay, but waited till we got back home so I could finish this on the computer rather than my IPhone!

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On Sunday morning, we woke already tied to the dock, back in Galveston, Texas.  This was the boys weekly “turn around day”, and the plan was for them to show us what they do weekly.  Just before 10, armed with our old and new Sea Pass cards, our In-Transit cards, and our passports, we worked our way off the ship, down the gangway, and through Immigration.  We were the happy people in the group, as we knew in a couple of hours, we’d be joining the Liberty again!

Once through Immigration, we met up with Kenny who told us Chris had taken off to make the long walk to a store he needed to get something from and he’d join us soon, so the 3 of us headed off to The Strand.  This is a tourist area just a couple of blocks from the port, and where the boys spend most Sundays.

Once Chris met us, it was off to their first weekly stop…a store that sells everything, including drinks!  Apparently, to sell booze on Sunday before 11 AM, you’ve also got to provide food, so a piece of a cut up hot dog was provided. Then it was to a table on the sidewalk to enjoy the Mimosas.

 

After that, we headed off to their “brunch” place, a taco “stand” with about 50 beers on tap, and a very eclectic menu of gourmet type tacos.  We had some great ones, and it would be great if I had any photographic evidence, but we ate everything before I thought of it!!!  Tell me we haven’t done that before!

After lunch, we headed off to their “after-lunch Bar” with their favorite bartender Sophie, but alas, she was at a baby shower and not working!  Oh well, perhaps next Sunday.  Then it was time to walk back to the ship.

We said goodbye to the boys (they go on via a crew entrance), and with our In-Transit cards and our new Sea Pass cards already in hand, we got to skip the lines, and in not much time at all, we were back in the R Bar starting week 2 the same way as week 1!

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After another boat drill, the boys joined us on our balcony for sail-away, and then dinner in the Windjammer.  A brief stop in the casino, and then it was time for bed…we were all pooped!

Day 2 dawned sunny and warm, and on this sea day, our plan was lunch for 4 in one of the Liberty’s specialty restaurants, Sabor, Modern Mexican! We met Kenny and Chris at the restaurant at 12:30, and as usual, we were served too much food!  We didn’t eat it all, but we did our best!!

After a brief stop in the casino, Chris went off to work the ice show, Kenny retired to their cabin for some R&R, and Susie and I went to the Ice Show.   A great show, more so because it’s on a cruise ship!!

After the show, it was time to shower and dress for the Captain’s Champagne Reception on the Royal Promenade. Some free champagne, an hour spent people watching (and some is sooo good), and listening to the Captain speak.  You must admit, we did clean up well!

 

Then it was time for Chris to hit the hay, while Susie, Kenny, and I headed to Vintages Wine Bar for something a little better quality than the cheap Royal Champagne!

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We had several glasses of wine, had a nice talk with Julia who we’d met earlier in the Jewelry Shop on the Promenade, and with Remy, who works in Vintages. There are a lot of nice people who work on the Liberty, if you just take the time to meet them!!  We enjoy meeting these crew folks from all around the world. learning a bit about them and where they’re from, and hearing their experiences!

After 3 glasses on wine each (I think it was three???), a profitable visit to the casino, a couple of pieces of pizza at Sorrentos, it was time for bed, ending day 2.

 

Day 3 was Cozumel again. As you may recall, this was our only duplicate port, and since we’d had an incredible day there at the El Cozumeleno Beach Resort just 4 days earlier, and since the boys had a busy day with a tech run and two performances of In the Air, Susie and I decided to stay on the ship and let them go their own way.

We started with a lazy morning, headed up to the pool deck and the adult Solarium, with our books, and a couple of Pina Coladas!  We read, we sipped, and we dozed a bit. The Liberty was quiet, with the majority of folks wandering the streets of Cozumel.  It was nice!!!

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Because the ship was so empty, just after they opened at 1, we decided to go to Johnny Rockets for lunch!!!  Great burgers!!!

 

That night, performances of In the Air, after which the boys came to unwind in our cabin.  A nice day.

We awoke the next morning, already at anchor in Grand Cayman.  There’s no pier there, so this was our only tender port of the cruise.  The water was the most incredible color blue, and we sat on our balcony watching the tenders come and go, while waiting for the boys to finish a meeting.   A short tender ride, and we were walking the streets of Grand Cayman, heading to the boys favorite lunch spot!

 

Tell me those drinks, and that background doesn’t look magical!

Then, another stop at another outdoor bar, on the way back to the port.  I’d call this more of a “dive bar”, but good drinks, great setting, and a fun atmosphere!

 

Back on the ship, the boys joined us for a small Sail-Away party on our balcony and a little champagne.  

 

I think that this was the most beautiful port we stopped at during our two weeks on the Liberty, and reminded me a lot of our several visits to Bermuda.

 

That night, while Chris was doing some Dance Captain stuff, Susie and I joined Kenny in the Star Lounge and enjoyed 4 of his fellow singers in a presentation called the Jazz Set.  Really mislabeled, as I’d call it more American Standards, we enjoyed listening to his 4 very talented friends.

 

Then we met up with Chris and after discussing where to go to have a bite, it was decided to give Johnny Rockets another shot!  Good burgers all around!  On the way out, we paused to take a photo in front of one of the art pieces on Deck 12.  A little bit of Chris’ home town of Reno, Nevada on the Liberty of the Seas!

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Our stop the next day was Falmouth, Jamaica, in a port that was created a number of years ago by Royal Caribbean for the Oasis Class ships, that were really too big to fit in other ports on the island.  Created to resemble a 15th or 16th century town, the port is full of shopping opportunities, because that, it seems, is what most folks do on a cruise.  However, we had other plans!  Our first stop, the Jamaican Beef Patty stand for a round of patties for all!  Then it was off to Margaritaville, with their potent drinks, some of their delicious food, and the pool with a swim up bar!

 

The water was cool, the sun was hot…it was a great way to spend the afternoon, before heading back to the Liberty of the Seas!

That night, it was time for Kenny to do one of his other jobs on the ship, and that was the 70’s Set on the Royal Promenade during the ship’s 70 Disco Party themed night!  Because Mom and Dad wanted to have a good view of the action, we got there about an hour and a half early, and sat at a table outside of the Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Parlor.  Having not eaten since Margaritaville, we passed the time by having a couple of sandwiches from Cafe Promenade for dinner, along with a couple of drinks from the R Bar.  As we were waiting there, who should come along but our personal photographer Jennifer.  We called her that, because she was the only one who’d taken pictures of us on our second week, and she obliged us again and took 3 wonderful pictures, that were the only ones we bought that week!

 

We had a lovely conversation with her and discovered that although her name tag said Columbia, she was really from Venezuela, but had escaped the problems there, and called Chile home.  She would be signing off the ship after a couple of more months and told us it would be winter when she got home…a season she hasn’t seen for some time!  Another great member of the crew we were happy to get to meet!

Then, what we came for…our baby (he really is our baby….being the youngest of our 3 kids!) on the flying bridge, above a couple of thousand passengers and crew, performing with his partner about 15 minutes of songs from way before he was born!

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So much fun!!!

After Kenny changed, we met the boys down at the Schooner Bar, had a couple of drinks, and then went into the casino for a little One Armed Bandit action!  Tonight, Lady Luck was on our side, and we had a really great run on a Wheel of Fortune machine!

 

Following our stop in Jamaica, we had two sea days, our last two days of the cruise as we traveled over 1,000 miles back to the Liberty’s home port of Galveston, Texas.  

After sleeping in a bit, Susie and I had a cappuccino at the Promenade Cafe, then selected a table near Sorrento’s Pizza and waited for the Move It, Move It Parade!  Kenny joined us and we played cards for a bit, till the participants started to arrive for the big Dreamworks Cast parade all along the promenade, that Chris, as Dance Captain, coordinates.  The parade lasts about 15 minutes, and is supposed to end with Chris shooting off a confetti gun, but just before the parade started, one of the Dreamworks characters picked the gun up, and dumped all the confetti out!  

 

 

Night 6 of the cruise was our second Formal Night of the week, and since we’d cleaned up so nicely on our previous Formal Night, we decided to do it again and journey, once again to Giovanni’s for a wonderful Italian meal!  Thanks to Alex the host, and our favorite waiter Melvyn, it was another memorable night, with great food, wine, and laughs!  

As day 7 of the cruise was a busy one for the boys (a tech run of Saturday Night Fever in the morning followed by two shows of SNF that evening), following dinner, we let them head off to their cabin, while Mom and I headed back to see our friends at the Schooner bar, and have an “after dinner”  Martini or two!

 

This has really been our go to bar this week of the cruise, being the place we’ve stopped most for daytime Mai Tai’s or nighttime Martinis, with bartenders Antonio, and Francisco and waiters Alexander and Fernanda.  You know us, we like feeling like we’ve got a home, and when folks know your name, and you enjoy the conversation with them, well, that’s what makes us feel like home.  So when Antonio would say, “Susan, Frank, the usual?” we were happy!

 

After a couple of drinks, and listing to Phil at the piano bar, we decided to head back into the casino, and see if the night before had been a fluke, or if our luck was indeed on the upswing.  Well, if Lady Luck was on our side the night before, she was in our laps tonight!  Just saying…..

 

A nice way to end what had been a wonderful day!!

So, that brings us to day 7 of our cruise and our last sea day before Galveston.  This was a full day for our boys, as they prepared for tonight’s 2 shows of Saturday Night Fever, and therefore an alone day for us!  It was time to drag those 3 suitcases that had been stored under the bed in cabin 7344 for 2 weeks out, and to empty the closet and the drawers, and to prepare to leave a place that had been our home for the past 14 days.  It was a sad day because we’d had a wonderful time, and tomorrow would be the last day with Our Boys for some time, but all 4 of us knew it was also time to get back to the real world.  

So drag out those suitcases we did, and Susie packed, while I brought her the items she asked for.   In short order, we were packed and headed to the Windjammer for some lunch.  We relaxed on our balcony that afternoon, reading and honestly napping, and a little after 5, we met Kenny outside the Platinum Theater as he let us in before the doors opened for the last time.  We love watching these two on stage, seeing them both do something they love.  Hope you do too!

 

 

A little after 9:30 the next morning, we were off the ship, through Immigration, and out into a cold and damp Galveston!  The week before on turn around day, it had been sunny and in the 70s, today it was hovering right around 50!  Yikes…not the Caribbean anymore!  Our plan today was simple…once we met up with the boys, they were going to roll our suitcases to one of their Sunday hangouts while Susie and I Ubered to pick up our rental car.  That done, we drove over to the local Walmart so that they could do probably the most extensive shopping they’ll do during their time on the ship, spending close to $300!  Then we had a marvelous lunch at a place on the Galveston Sea Wall called, My Spot.  It was our last Family Meal….

 

Then it was time for Susie and I to drop the boys back at the pier, and to make our way to George Bush International Airport in Houston for our flight home to Philadelphia.  We finally arrived back on Pennlyn Place and home in Ocean City about 1:30AM, ending what had been a wonderful two weeks in the Caribbean sunshine with Our Boys!  And so ends the story of week two of Sue and Frank’s Excellent Adventure on Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas, with the Fox Boys!

A couple of postscripts…

One thing Susie loved was some of the art that was featured around the ship.  Here are some of her favorites that she captured via her IPhone camera.

 

Last, but not least, even though we were in the Caribbean, we’re never really far away from our Jersey Shore home at heart, as you can see from this picture of our cabin door!

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Week One

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As I said before we started, we are doing without internet on the ship, so there will not be a detailed blow by blow description of our travels, but I’ve been taking some notes on my phone, and depending on how good the internet is in Galveston on turn around day, I hope to post some brief notes about our first week of two on the Liberty of the Seas!!

So, we’re on week one of a two week cruise around the Western Caribbean with our boys. The first two days of the cruise were sea days, the first of which was cold and rainy!   No view of Caribbean weather, so it was an inside the ship day!  The second sea day, however, the sun was out, the sky was blue, and the temperature was in the 70s…beautiful!
This was also an alone day for us, as the boys had two performances of In The Air, and had a lot of prep to do during the day.  After breakfast in the Windjammer, we spent a lovely couple of hours by the Solarium pool, reading, people watching, and enjoying a couple of Pina Coladas! A little time in the casino, a little shopping,  some nap/reading time on our cabin’s balcony, and before we knew it, it was time to get ready to meet the boys to get in the theater and see 2 great performances of In The Air!
After 2 sea days, we spent today in Roatan, Honduras at Captain Jack’s Bar, perched over the water, just outside of the port!  With our Bartender Babe making incredible drinks, and their kitchen making excellent Conch Fritters, Onion Rings,  Calamari, and Plantain Chips, it was a wonderful relaxing day spent with 2 of our 6 favorite kids!  Great family time, talking about dreams and the future, it was an incredible day!  No need for zip lines, monkey farms, or swimming with dolphins! After a hug, we told Babe we’d see her in 6 months when we’re back. She said she’d be looking for us!!
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Today we are in Mexico…Costa Maya to be exact. Susie and I were last here 2 and a 1/2 years ago, and had a wonderful beach day with the boys.  This year, however, the boys have to work, so different plans are called for. Tonight they do two performances of Saturday Night Fever (6 and 8:45 PM), and on days like this, they also have a “tech run” in the morning, so a busy day for them. We’ve decided that we’re just going to get off the ship and hang around the dock area.  As I write this, Susie and I are waiting for the boys in our cabin, and preparing for the 1/2 mile walk down the pier from  the ship to the land!!!  Yes, a full 1/2 mile of pier between the ship and Costa Maya!  It’s a definite knee brace day!
There were 4 cruise ships in Costa Maya today, so the pier was crowded. The boys took us to a favorite burrito place and we had a couple of great ones, before heading back to the ship.  The walk was long, but we stopped a couple of times to look at the incredibly blue water!  Back on the ship, we said bye to the boys, and both groups went to relax.
Right now, Susie and I are sitting in the Platinum Theater waiting for the start of the first performance of Saturday Night Fever. Our night ahead?? Two performances of SNF, a drink or two, and then meeting up with the boys after the shows.  Nothing better than seeing Kenny and Chris on stage!!  This is the 7th and 8th time we’ve seen this production of SNF, and I tell you it just keeps getting better, and we’re not of that opinion because 2 of the cast members are part of our family!!! The audience LOVED the show, meanwhile we shed a tear or two of joy, watching our kids doing what they love!!!  Life is very good tonight!!
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Welcome to Cozemul , Mexico!  Port  #3 on this week’s cruise, and the only port we visit twice during our two weeks on the Liberty of the Seas.  We’ve just gotten back from a wonderful day at the El Cozumeleno Beach Resort, where for a $65 Day Pass, we had an incredible day of food, drink, and pool life!  Thanks to Miguel and Santiago, we never wanted for ANYTHING!!!
We’re back on the ship now, sitting on our balcony having a rum and coke and watching our larger sister ship, the Oasis of the Seas leave the dock.  Our lines are being dropped now and we will soon follow her. Next stop…Galveston, Texas, after a sea day tomorrow!!  The end is near for most folks, but for us, just the beginning of week 2!!
Last night we had an incredible dinner in Giovanni’s Italian Restaurant.   Thanks to Manager Alex, waiter Marvyn,  and the magicians in the kitchen, it was a magnificent dinner, and we all loved it….and may have eaten too much!!!
Today is a sea day, and the last day of the cruise for most…but not us, as we start the adventure all over again!!!  Susie and I slept in a bit, then went to the Windjammer for breakfast, then spent an hour plus watching people trying to master the Flowrider!
Then we met up with Kenny outside Sorrento’s on the Promenade Deck to watch the Move it Parade,  orchestrated by our other son Chris!!!  Good job Chris..well, except when Shreck almost went flying, but all’s well that ends well!!
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We spent the rest of the afternoon taking advantage of our drink package at various venues around the ship. Changed for the night, had a couple of glasses of wine at Vintages, and then finished up with a martini with our friend Silbert at the R Bar.

Tonight, a late dinner and room service ala Chris and Kenny!  Burgers with Sriracha Peanut Butter, etc.  a fitting way to end week one of our latest adventure!!!
See you next week, when we sail to Cozumel, Grand Cayman, and Jamaica!!

LOS

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DSC_0286By the time you read this, Susie and I will be winging our way to Houston, Texas, with our eventual destination the Port of Galveston, where on Sunday the 17th, we will rondezous with Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas, have a couple of Texas Ice Teas upon boarding, and then meet up with Our Boys!   Our Boys (ie…youngest child Kenny and his husband Chris) have been on the Liberty since mid-January, and we are looking forward to spending the next 2 weeks with them in the Caribbean!

 

 

Kenny is one of the 6 Lead Entertainers aboard the Liberty, and Chris is a Lead Dancer/Aerialist and the Dance Captain of the company.  The contract the boys are currently on, started with rehearsals at the Royal Caribbean Studio in Miami, Florida back in November of 2018, and they will be on the ship through early November of 2019.  The main shows they do are Saturday Night Fever, the Musical and a Cirque de Sole type show called In The Air.  

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In SNF, Kenny is Father Frank, the Priest brother of the main character Tony.  In addition, both Kenny and Chris play many other small parts, and of course, Chris is prominently featured in all the dance numbers.  Chris is also Kenny’s understudy in the show.  Based on the movie Saturday Night Fever, there are lots of great dance numbers and the very familiar music of the Bee Gees!  This is the third contract the boys have done on the Liberty, and our third cruise with them, so we know what to expect, but we are still excited to see them on stage, and honestly, 2 weeks in the Caribbean is much better than traveling through a blizzard to Janesville, Wisconsin in December to see Kenny perform!

 

 

IMG_2048The other show, In The Air, is comprised of a number of different scenes, all revolving around music, and featuring spectacular dancing and flying sequences.  Kenny is the host of the show and starts it, as well as being featured in several numbers, and the grand finale.  Chris is both a dancer and an aerialist in the show, flying high above the stage on rings, swings, and even just long banners of cloth!  Oh Boy!

Watch Kenny open the show!

 

 

 

 

 

This is a video of one of Chris’ Flying numbers, shot in rehearsal 

Kenny also does a 70’s Set on the Promenade Deck during the big, ship-wide 70’s Party!

 

 

 

 

But the real fun times we’ll have with Our Boys are the times we sit around having a drink, or the places in the ports we relax, and even just hanging out on our balcony!  

 

 

It’s fun to be on the ship, but it’s more fun to be with Our Boys, and to enjoy whatever they have planned for us!  Now, they are working, so that means that sometimes Mom and Dad have to amuse themselves.  Perhaps we’ll take another Martini Making Class!

 

 

 

 

Whatever we do, we know it will be fun and we will have 14 days of great family time!  As we have on past cruises, we have opted not to get Internet service on the ship, so please don’t look for an ongoing commentary here about what we’re doing and where we’re going.  During the course of the cruise, we will make 3 stops in Mexico, one in Honduras, one in the Cayman Islands, and one in Jamaica.  On our return, I would expect that we will be sharing some details of our exploits, but till then, just imagine we’re having 14 glorious days in the Caribbean!

Sue and Frank

Family

So, a vacation is great, but a vacation that you can share with Family is even better!!

Susie and I were very lucky this year to get to spend some time away from the winter of 2019, and get a preview of the Spring/Summer of 2019.  Unfortunately, this year Mother Nature wasn’t that cooperative, and the beginning of our Spring preview was more like Winter Light, but then “summer” arrived, and everything was wonderful.  Even more so since we got to share it with family!

First up was Susie’s cousin Debbie, who formerly lived in Massachusetts, but who since recently retiring has moved to near Orlando, Florida.  She works at Universal Studios, so perhaps a WDW/Universal pass swap is in our future!  Her friend Janice was visiting her from the frozen north of The Baked Bean State, and the two of them journeyed over and spent a nice day with us in Indian Rocks Beach.  The temps were a little cool, but warm enough to spend a couple of hours around our pool, and to have a great dinner under the sky!

Then a couple of days later, my cousin Jeanne and her husband Walt spent a couple of days with us.  Jeanne is the daughter of my Mom’s middle brother Bill, and when we were kids she grew up in Chicago, while I was in New York.  After years apart, we saw them at our wedding in 1979, and then again just a couple of years ago, when we had lunch between their Connecticut home and our Long Island home.  That meeting re-kindled our relationship, and we have stayed in touch since.  They are true snowbirds, having a home in Barefoot Bay, Florida, as well as Connecticut, and after our time here in IRB, we will spend some time with them there before heading back to the Frozen North!!!

 

Finally a visit from our beloved daughter Krissi and her fiancé Michael, who we love like our own son!  The older of our twins, Krissi and Mike were running away for a couple of days from the New York cold!  They are to be married in June of this year, and they are spending a long President’s Day Weekend with us.

What’s better than family???  In my humble opinion, nothing!  Family and/or friends that are like family, is what makes life go round!  I hope you all have relationships like this, and get to enjoy spending time with folks you love!!

Although our time in Indian Rocks Beach is coming to an end, our Florida Adventure continues for another week plus.  Stay tuned!! 

Christmas 2018

When our kids were little, and the entire family lived on Long Island between Bayside and Huntington, Christmases were a lot easier.  It was totally expected that we would all be together in part or whole on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and the only thing we had to worry about was a forecast of snow, and traffic on the Long Island Expressway!  But times change, kids grow up and head out on their own, parents die, people retire and move, and traditions change.  In other words, life happens.  Take our family, and Christmas, 2018.

Shortly after their October wedding, Kenny and Chris started their Liberty of the Seas contract with 2 1/2 months of rehearsals in Miami.  They had about 10 days off from rehearsals for Christmas/New Year, and they spent part of that time with us in Ocean City, so they were the kids we shared our actual Christmas with this year, and we tried to include just about every D’Elia Family Christmas tradition we could.  One set of kids done!  

This past weekend, it was time to share our second Christmas up in New York with Krissi and Mike. Susie and I haven’t been back to Long Island since mid-September, so it’s been close to 4 months since we’ve had the joy of Long Island traffic, but we made our way safely to Mike and Krissi’s apartment in Astoria. The plan was a low key Christmas, without a lot of the traditions, just enjoying a couple of days together.

In the course of the afternoon, Krissi, with her Mom’s help, put up a picture shelf in their living room, while Mike and I helped with advice and comments on their progress.  Then Mike announced that it was 5 o’clock, and drink time!  The Master Mixer went to their bar, and shook us 4 excellent vodka martinis that just hit the spot!

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Dinner that night was too many yummy appetizers and wood-fired pizzas at Milkflower, and then we returned to their apartment, drank eggnog, and opened Christmas presents while watching a Christmas movie!  As is usual, Kristen Anne didn’t make it to the end of the movie!

The next day we all enjoyed a great trip to the Museum of Moving Image, which is just a couple of blocks away from their apartment, and across the street from the Kaufman Studios.  Among the many exhibits was one dedicated to the late Jim Henson, and all the wonderful work he did during his too short life.  Of course, well known to our family were his Muppets, and older son Billy’s favorites, the characters from Fraggle Rock!

They also had an exhibit on “ancient” computer games, where we saw our first computer, a Commodore 64, and lots of Nintendo games Susie and I remembered from when our adult children, weren’t!  Krissi and Mike enjoyed going back to the last decade and century.

Mom and Dad Ubered home, and while waiting for Krissi and Mike to arrive, commented on what a gorgeous sunset was in progress.

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The kids suggested that we visit their building’s roof (where they will get married in June), and we got some wonderful pictures of the New York skyline.  

Also, thanks to Mike’s long arms, a good selfie!

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Dinner that night, was totally decadent Greek Bowls from Crave, followed by some TV…and another martini!

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We said our good-byes to the kids before bed, because they’d be up and on their way to work long before Mom and Dad crawled out of bed!  Monday we had an Eye Doctor appointment, so we killed some time driving around Jackson Heights, where I grew up and lived till I was 19, before heading out to Whitestone and our Eye Doctor!

We wrapped up the weekend by visiting one of our favorite old Mineola haunts, the St. James! (after Susie had her nails done!) It was great to visit with our bartender friend Dennis and our waitress friend Mo, and experience one of the things we truly miss from our 31 years in Mineola!

We also passed this very Christmasy house on Roslyn Road, just around the corner from where we used to live.

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By the way, back when Billy was a little kid, we had church friends that lived in that house, and one morning, Susie delivered our friend’s baby in her bathroom on the second floor.  The house didn’t look like this back then!

Listen to the story of Susie delivering our friend’s baby…courtesy of WABC Radio

Oh, and remember me mentioning traditions back in the opening paragraphs?  Well, after 2 years of living in North Carolina, our oldest misses some of the traditions he grew up with.  Specifically, Billy told us he missed our Christmas Eve tradition of Spicy Shrimp Sauce over Linguine, and Baked Clam Stuffed Lobsters, so on January 19th, we are heading down to Raleigh for Christmas 2018, #3!  Even though the presents have already been distributed, and the tree will be gone, he wants a taste of our old traditions to go along with their new Christmas Eve tradition of North Carolina Bar-B-Que.  Sounds good to us!!

Christmases Past, Present, and Future

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Christmas in Mineola

On this Christmas Eve, 2018, a little Christmas reflection…..

Christmas has always been a big deal in our household.  Early in our relationship, it became obvious that it’s Susie’s favorite holiday, and one that she waits all year for.  Indeed, because of her love of the holiday, it was on Christmas Day in 1978 that I asked her to marry me, and she said yes! Talk about giving…her saying yes was the best Christmas present I’ve ever gotten!  So from our first Christmas in our apartment on Firwood Road in Port Washington, just months after we were married in 1979, we have always gone all out to decorate and celebrate the holiday!  

Every year, when the kids were small, sometime in early November, we’d journey to Lancaster, PA, for a weekend in Amish Country, and every year, that’s when the D’Elia Family started listening to Christmas music!  Indeed, our selection of Christmas music grew over the years to the point that when we cleaned out our 100 CD changer, close to half the CDs were of Christmas music.  Now we’re all digital, with music stored on the Amazon Cloud, but Christmas music still makes up a large percentage of it!

Our Ocean City house became ours at the end of January 2005, and when the next Christmas rolled around the decision was easy…we were going to decorate two houses!  That first year we got a table top tree and bought ornaments, and house decorations on the cheap from Big Lots.  It wasn’t as grand or beautiful as we did on Long Island, but we even had a small Manger we’d gotten at Big Lots, and lots of outdoor decorations.

Over the years, more and more items were added to both our Mineola house and to the Ocean City house.  A year ago, on November 9th, we sold the Mineola house, and made Ocean City our permanent residence.  That meant we now had to meld two Christmases into one.  Think that wasn’t a hard job?  Well, the fact that we had to make 3 trips with a fully loaded SUV to transport our Long Island Christmas decorations, to the shore, and the fact that our Christmas Decorations then took up fully half of our rented store room, may give you an idea about the scope of the job!  Last year, the consolidation started, and it’s continued this Christmas too!

First things first…the Christmas Tree! 

From our first 1979 Christmas, a live tree was the only way to go for the D’Elia Family.  We did the “cut your own” version, but the kids got kind of tired of that after a couple of years, and after one year of doing it ourselves, Susie and I tired of it too, so it was a yearly trip to Hicks to pick out a tree!  That lasted till we started going to Ocean City and realized when we got home the beginning of January, the tree was severely dead, and we’d missed a lot of it’s life.  The next year the first artificial tree made it’s debut in the D’Elia’s living room! 

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IMG_1556As I said,  for our first Christmas in Ocean City (2005), we bought a 4 foot tree at one of the craft stores, and put it by the front door, on top of our porch table, and we decorated it with ornaments we’d purchased at the Big Lots in Somers Point.   We continued for a number of Christmases in Ocean City with that table top tree and the our Big Lots ornaments.  In 2012 we bought a new artificial tree for Long Island.  It was our 2nd “fake” tree, was much more lifelike and sophisticated, prewired with lights, and all the set up we had to do was pop the three sections together and it was done and wired!  Of course, the next Christmas we decided to get a thinner version of that same tree for Ocean City.  When our last Christmas on Long Island was over in 2016, we decided to take our bigger tree to Ocean City, move some furniture in the living room for the holidays, put the big tree in a new location, and enjoy more room for presents under it!  It was worth it.

 

 

 

Mineola                                   Ocean City  

 

The Manger

Of course, the Mineola Manger won out over the Big Lots version.  The Manger scene that graces our Ocean City home now, has been with us since that first Christmas in Port Washington 39 years ago.  Bought from a long defunct Long Island department store, (A & S), with additional pieces purchased at a 5 & 10 on Plandome Road in Manhasset, it moved from a table near the front door in Mineola, to the top of a book shelf in our living room in Ocean City!

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The Big Lots Manger

 

 

 

Mineola                                                             Ocean City

 

Snowman Village

For a number of years, Susie put up a huge Department 56 Snow Village display in our Dining Room on Long Island, but furniture and styles changed, and the Snow Village went bye-bye.  Susie has always loved Snowmen (and women), and with a desire to go in a new direction, she did a Snowman display on the top of our entertainment center on Long Island, with a smaller version in Ocean City.  Of course, now her big production has moved to our corner cabinet in the living room, that transforms from a bar to a winter wonderland during the Christmas Season.

 

 

                                         Mineola                                                              Ocean City

And that’s but a small part of the Christmas Displays at our home during the holidays.  Over the past couple of years, we have weeded through lots and lots of ornaments, bows, house decorations, Hallmark animated displays, and hundreds of Christmas items, big and small, cheap and expensive.  It hasn’t been easy.  We know that when we unloaded our storage room into our garage this year (2 trips with the CRV fully loaded), we realized we still have too much Christmas “stuff,” and perhaps this year, we will be able to part with some items.  But there are regrets….like the two snow globes we had, one from Susie’s Mom and one from my Mom.  These globes graced our living room in Mineola for many years, but sadly when we decorated in Ocean City last year, they were nowhere to be found.  Did we make a conscious decision after Christmas 2016 to let them go, or did we put them in the wrong box, and it got left behind?  We’ll just never know, but every Christmas, we will think about them, and wonder what happened to them.

There you have the story of our Christmas dilemma and how we tried to solve it.  Let’s just say, it’s a work in progress! 

 

 

As we share our Christmas this year with Family and Friends, near and far, just one last thought.  Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

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