Thursday, July 30, 2009

Let's Cruise, Baby!



After embarking the Westerdam and lunching on the Lido - I'm sorry, I can't stop saying it - we were ready to . . . wait for it . . . let go all lines and commence our sea voyage.

I just LOVE ship speak, don't you?






Here we are on deck, Seattle in the background and we're sailing away, completely unaware this was the last time we would see the sun for the entire voyage. Yep, Alaska is rainy and cool in the summer. I know that now and am very upset that I couldn't work on my tan while cruising.

Doesn't that sound high maintenance?






One more shot of the departure because the deck you see below and to the right is the . . . wait for it . . . LIDO DECK!

Now, let me introduce you to the family . . .





This is Duane's sister's family. Aren't these girls gorgeous? I'm pretty sure they're high maintenance, too. I tried to hang around them to soak up some of it because let's face it - they are young, cool and hip and I need more of that in my life. You know, to balance out the legos, Polly Pockets and litter box. Which brings me to a story.

See the cute little blonde on the left? That's my 22 year-old niece. She and I were in the Crow's Nest one afternoon. We left to meet the rest of the family for bingo and were running for the elevator. She was ahead of me when someone grabbed me from behind and put their arm around me. I was startled and looked up at this totally hunky (almost as hot as Duane) guy. He said "hey how are you" or something like that and for the briefest moment, a nanosecond, I thought, "I've still got it! I'm - dare I say it - HOT!" Then Hunky Guy asked, "Is she single?"

Is she single.

Sigh. I felt so used. Then I wanted to laugh and tell him, "Buddy, there are three more of them. You have NO IDEA what you're asking."





Here are all of the grandkids except Michael. Those four girls in the back are all drop-dead-gorgeous heart-breakers. They were so much fun to be around! I can't wait to have teenagers.






This is Duane's brother's family. His wife is the one who planned this entire cruise. Thanks, Laura! And finally, the reason we were all there . .






Duane's folks, celebrating 50 years with all seventeen of us!

Stay tuned for more. I'll bring you glaciers, ice cream and whales. In living, Karenpie color!

The suspense builds . . . .


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Remember Me?



Oh, um . . . hi!

It's me - Karenpie.

You know. The dork who publicly embarrasses herself on her blog. And for those of you who have been so delightfully entertained by my shenanigans on the tree vine - there will be no more of THAT. No sirree Bob.

Who's Bob, anyway? He bugs me.

Anyway, from here on out, I will only post things that make me look good. This picture for instance;






. . . taken by Duane on the Lido after we embarked the Westerdam. (By the way, WHAT is going on with my alien neck in this picture? And why didn't I photoshop it out before I posted it? I'm just here to ask the questions, people.)

Huh? Wh - wha - what did she say?

For those of you who are confused, we just returned from a cruise to Alaska. Westerdam was the name of our ship. And, just so you know, when you cruise you get to say things like "embark the Westerdam" and nobody laughs at you. To embark means to get on the ship. So, I said it a couple hundred times so people would think I was cool.

When we arrived, there was a general announcement that lunch was being served in the Lido (rhymes with "Speedo") Restaurant, located on the Lido Deck. I said that a couple hundred times too;

"Say, will you be lunching on the Lido?"

"Hey, I'll meet you on the Lido for lunch."

"Ooh! Lunch on the Lido! Sounds fabulous, dahling. Quite."

And you know what? Nobody thought I was a dork!

I think.

But anyway, I'm getting WAAAAY ahead of myself.

Before the cruise, we met the rest of the Koglers in Seattle and spent the night in a hotel. Hmmm. Hotel room. Three kids. Let me think . . . how would a kid entertain himself in a hotel room?






Hey! I know! Let's take turns wearing the nifty sleep masks the hotel has so thoughtfully provided and play Marco Polo! Who needs water, anyway? I'm sure the guests in nearby hotel rooms thought the Clampetts couldn't find the cement pond and were makin' do without water.

When Marco Polo gets boring, how about hotel room Olympics?






Get in the farthest corner, run and jump on the bed.






Use the other bed as a launch pad if needed. Check out Katie's hair.






Try to get as much air as possible between you and the bed. Try to remember that the floor is nothing but concrete with thin carpet on top. Ouch - as Matthew found out.

Thus began our cruise. It was awesome.

More later.


Monday, July 13, 2009

Mahalo, Mom and Dad!



Our Maui vacation was the best vacation I've ever had! Seriously. A lot of it had to do with our comfort level. We were treated like royalty and all because these two people . . .





. . . generously and lovingly gave the trip to us.





I hope we never forget or take for granted what a tremendous gift it was.





To not only experience Hawaii - the blue water and big sea turtles,




- the rustling palm trees and blooming plumeria and hibiscus (that's a real plumeria blossom behind Katie's ear!) -





- but to have a memory we can all share.

I can't speak for all sixteen of us (Lord knows I try), but I'm pretty sure I left a little piece of my heart there in Maui. It's there, relaxing by the pool, soaking up the sun and smelling the air. They do those kinds of things when you're not around to control them, you know - heart pieces. They have all the fun while the rest of the body gets back to reality.

Someday we'll go back! I can't wait . . .


Friday, July 10, 2009

Tarzanna



I'm going to do something risky today. The risk I'm taking may very well ruin both the perfect image you have of me and my reputation as a sophisticated, cool, athletic, strong, poised, graceful person. A cross between Princess Di and Misty May. I know this is the impression I give when people meet me. Why don't we add humble to the list while we're at it? Let the story begin.

While in Maui, and during Grandkids' Vacation, my siblings, our spouses and I went on a 7-mile hike. My sister insisted it was closer to 17 or maybe 27 miles (something with a 7 in it). We caught a shuttle to the trailhead and began our trek. It was a cool morning and we were hiking in shade. We had fortified ourselves with lattes, as most experienced hikers do, so were energized and having a great time.

We happened upon a Banyan tree on the trail. Banyan trees are these uber-interesting trees that grow their roots from the branches down to the ground. These roots start out as little stringy things that float in the breeze. As they grow they become thicker, stronger and longer until they reach the ground, plant themselves and start looking like another tree trunk. Essentially, a Banyan tree looks like a tree with a bunch of trunks, all spaced apart. Kinda freaky-looking but cool, nonetheless.

Before the root plants itself, it's an awesome vine - perfect for swinging. Observe.



video

That's my sister-in-law, Jennifer, swinging on a Banyan tree vine.
Anybody else?



video

Duane and my brother, Dan. Tandem Vine Swinging - the next Olympic sport. Listen closely to the comments in the background. They'll make sense as soon as you see the next movie.

So, who else wants to try it?



video

Hard to believe, huh? That Karenpie, the epitome of grace and athleticism, could wipe out and look like a dork WHILE SOMEONE WAS RECORDING. My hands started slipping and I couldn't hold on. Gah.

You hear the sound of "woo-hoo!-ing" while everybody else was swinging. Then you hear the sound of muffled snickering, turning to outright guffawing after my concerned, empathetic family figured out I didn't have any permanent damage. Something along the lines of, "Karen, are you OK? PLEASE say you're alright so we can LAUGH OUT LOUD."

Just sharing the authenticity, people. Just sharing the authenticity.

Mai Tai Count: 6


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Weekly Jack

I know, I'm spending way too much time on the computer today but I want to point out a new feature on my blog.  Look over on the left.  See the thing that says "Weekly Jack"?  This is something I'll change every week.

Remember Jack Handy?  Of Saturday Night Live fame?  "Deep Thoughts by Jack Handy" was one of the funniest things on that show, and there were plenty of funny things from which to choose.

I recently ran across a web site that had all of his quotes and I laughed myself silly!  Of course, if I laugh myself silly, I want to share it with you. Hence the new gadget over there on the left.

Enjoy!

Grownup Time



As in, time wherein grownups get to do things without their kids.

During our time in Maui, my folks - Gram and Gramps to all the little people - had "Grandkids' Vacation". This is a yearly tradition with my parents. In years past, they have taken all grandkids, aged six and up for an entire week. Sometimes they go somewhere like the Ozarks or Great Wolf Lodge in K.C. They've also done staycations, where they stay at their house and have family olympics, attend the Saline County Tri-Rivers Fair and Rodeo and swim at the country club. Either way, the grandkids are all together under one roof, with my parents doing all the parenting. It's a wonderful tradition and the grandkids love it.

This year, since we were all together in Hawaii, they had a two-day/one-night grandkids' vacation. And you know what that meant! It meant me, my siblings and our spouses got to spend some quality time together. It's never happened before - just the six of us doing grownup things without our kids. Let me tell you - we DEFINITELY took advantage of the free time. The first night we went on a sunset cruise. My brother called it the "booze cruise" because they served drinks and appetizers on the boat.

Just as the sun was setting, they stopped the boat and turned off the engine so we could all take pictures and watch the sun go down. We just floated in the peace and quiet, watching the incredibly beautiful sunset. Heaven.






Nancy and her husband, Steve.






Duane and me.





My brother, Dan, and his wife, Jennifer.

We all had a great time except . . .






Poor Jennifer. The movement of the boat was just a little too much for her. She didn't really lose her cookies - we were just goofing off - but this is how she'll remember the booze cruise. She won't be doing it again.

Just trying to share the authenticity, people. You know, so you can feel as if you were actually there with us. Isn't that the point?

Mai Tai Count: 5
No, I didn't drink five in one day! This is a running total, people. Sheesh.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

What the . . .?



We interrupt our normally scheduled programming on Maui reminiscing. Today, please indulge me as I go berserko with the mother-of-all rants. However, before I commence with the ranting, I need to give you a little background. Go get a cup of coffee. I can wait.

We were in Maui last week. We, and all sixteen members of my extended family, were there in honor of my folks' 50th wedding anniversary. Did you know Duane's folks are also celebrating their 50th? (Let's pause a moment and reflect on those statistics: BOTH sets of parents, still married to the same people for 50 years. Can I just say . . . wow.) I haven't shared with you that we'll also be celebrating Duane's parents' anniversary in a most spectacular way. The sixteen Koglers are going on an Alaska cruise. In twelve days.

So, struggling economy? STRUGGLING ECONOMY? I laugh at struggling economy. I jeer at struggling economy. I SPIT on struggling economy. I fart in the general direction of struggling economy (do that with a French accent then name the movie).

I've never been on a cruise before. We're eating in the Formal Dining Room two nights and the Classic Dining Room the remaining five nights. Duane and I checked out Holland America's website for some much-needed info (mostly about clothing to pack) and here's what H. A. said, and I quote,

"Evening dress falls into two distinct categories: formal or smart casual. Smart casual is slacks and collared shirts for men and casual dresses, slacks and informal evening wear for women. On formal evenings, ladies usually wear a suit, cocktail dress or gown and men wear a jacket and tie, dark suit or tuxedo. In order to complement your fellow guests, Holland America asks that you observe the dress code throughout the entire evening."

That's about when I started to get twitchy.

Dress code? There's a DRESS CODE? This is not parochial school, people. I'm on VACATION HERE. You don't have "dress codes" on vaca. No. Oh no, no, no. Do I care about "complementing my fellow guests"? Are you kidding me? I'll be glad to tell them how great they look in their dress-code-following outfits but do I want to spend money just to match them? I think you know the answer to that.

Here's another word that made me want to light my hair on fire: GOWN.

Right. Let me go to my closet and pull out my haute couture collection of gowns that are hanging there, waiting for the day I attend the Academy Awards. Newsflash: Unless Nike makes gowns or I can buy them at Fred Meyer, I haven't come into contact with a gown since I was a bridesmaid.

Hey, wait just a darn minute . . . that gives me an idea. If I pull out all the bridesmaid dresses that I've been forced to buy over the years, and if they still fit, I COULD WEAR THOSE! Problem solved! BONUS!

OK, I'm now laughing hysterically. I just got a visual of me, amongst all the sequined and tuxedoed beautiful people. I'm wearing an emerald green, shiny satin, handkerchief-hemmed dress, circa 1989. Those puffy sleeves are bigger than my kids. It could have been one of the prom dresses in "Footloose".

Picture this . . . . . .in this color.

Oh my.

Technically, it falls in the category of "gown", so the dress code police couldn't complain. Do you think it would "complement my fellow guests"? I'm thinkin' . . . yep, it sure as tootin' would! There is just a teensy little problem, though. I don't know where the dress is.

Hopes dashed. Sails windless. Dreams gone. I will be a lost, forlorn, broken, unfashionable woman on this gown-infested cruise ship.

This concludes the rant portion of our regularly scheduled broadcast.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Pool Time, Baby



So, you want to know what I did, while on Maui? There was the usual snorkeling, kayaking and hiking but I mostly did this . . .





I laid on a lounge chair at the pool and looked at this view. There were three pools at the Kapalua Ritz Carlton, all connected by waterfalls.

It was beautiful. It was heaven. It was bliss. I wish I was still there.

By the way, those are my toes. They are there for authenticity. If they weren't so blurry you could admire the French pedicure on my high-maintenance toes. I love French pedicures.

This particular lounge chair was my favorite. I had a spectacular view of the ocean while I laid in the sun and drank Mai Tais. If it got too hot I'd do this . . .






. . . with my wonderful, funny, occasionally (OK - predominantly) smart-ass sister, Nancy. I think my favorite thing I did in Maui had nothing to do with Maui. I had uninterrupted time, talking to Nance by the pool for a couple of hours, just the two of us.

It was heaven. It was bliss. I wish I was still there. (Did I already say that?)

Mostly we relaxed, read books and watched these dorkopotomases . . .






Matthew and my nieces and nephews. Daniel and Katie were there, too, just not in this picture. The first day there, we had an awesome game of Marco Polo and of course, chicken fighting. You should have seen the newlyweds clear out. They went to a quieter pool. I would have too, if I wasn't the one playing Marco Polo and chicken fighting, myself.

It was heaven. It was bliss -uh, you know the drill.






Here are all of us girls - sister Nancy, sister-in-law Jennifer, me and my mom. That pool felt so good!






Every afternoon, the Ritz people would bring around trays of fruit or small cups of banana chocolate smoothies and offer them to us. This guy took his life into his own hands and jumped in the pool with a tray of watermelon. My nieces and nephews mobbed him. He should have known better - didn't he hear them playing chicken? You can work up quite an appetite playing chicken. Actually, it reminded me of how ravenous I'd get, as a kid, swimming and being in the pool all day.

Sigh. It was so much fun. I wish I was still there. Am I repeating myself?

Another important piece of information:
Mai Tai Count: 2

A definite contributor to the whole relaxation thing.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Aloha!



Oh, it's been over a week, hasn't it? Yikes. I mean, I missed you guys and all but I was in paradise and paradise and computers don't mix. Not in my world.

Seriously, I had full intentions of blogging from Maui. However, you can't post about Maui without pictures and I forgot my card-reader, dang it! A card-reader is the doohicky that's attached to your computer. You stick your thingamabob from the camera with the digital pictures on it into the doohicky. Somehow, the combination of those two devices enables me to magically share my pictures with you. Magic, I tell you!

I really wanted to share it with you as it happened. "It" being utter, total relaxation and beauty. I have never fallen so completely, heart-breakingly in love with a place. It took just over twenty-four hours for this to happen. I had the first beginnings of a crush when I saw the ocean surrounding Maui for the first time. You know all the pictures that you see - postcards or travel brochures - of Hawaii? In those pictures the waters look impossibly blue - shades of turquoise ranging from the lightest blue-green to the deepest, richest sapphire. Well, I am here to tell you that NONE OF IT IS PHOTOSHOPPED. The water really looks like that AND I GOT TO LOOK AT IT EVERY DAY!



This is the view from our villa deck. I woke up to this every single morning. The waves on the beach, which was a short walk away, were always in the background. Every day I would grab one of the kids, whichever was closest, and say, "We're in Hawaii! Can you believe it? We're in Hawaii!". They were like, "Yeah, Mom. Um - can you let go of my face now?"

This is the best picture I have of the water. Duane took it, thank goodness. That giant flushing sound you heard last Wednesday? That was the sound of my photography skills going down the drain. I had a terrible time figuring out the light. Most of my pictures are either blown out (overexposed) or shadowy and dark. I need major help.



This is us, after our arrival at the airport. A lovely Hawaiian girl greeted us with orchid leis as we were making our way to baggage claim.

The first thing that hit me about Maui was the air. It's very heavy, thick and windy - all the time. The humidity took some getting used to and by the end of the week I was down to two showers a day. Real progress!

We rented a car and made our way to - where else? - Costco. We stocked up on a few essentials (in order of importance - wine, beer, chips, milk and fruit), then hit Safeway for sub sandwiches because we had been charged with providing dinner for the sixteen of us that night. After Safeway we headed for the west side of the island. We stayed at a fabulous place called Kapalua. It took about an hour to drive there and I gawked at the ocean the whole way.

I'll share more about my love affair with Maui later . . . stay tuned for:
1. Sunburns
2. Snorkeling
3. Swinging on Banyan tree vines and wiping out
4. Mai Tai's
5. Sunset cruises

Can life get any better? I submit that it CANNOT.

Mai Tai Count: 1