Tuesday, January 29, 2008



Disclaimer: This will be long because it’s hard to sum it all up in one blog post. I apologize in advance, but hope that you still enjoy it! Please leave comments.

As some of you may have heard the OKC Sims’ went on a cruise a few weeks ago. We sailed on the Carnival Conquest for 7 days stopping in Jamaica, Grand Cayman Islands, and Cozumel. We were joined on this fabulous trip by quite a few of our friends from church, which made the vacation even more exciting.
Here she is...the Carnival Conquest. To give you an idea of what our cruise ship was like, let me give you a few specs:
Total Staterooms - 1,487
Private Balcony Staterooms - 556
Decks - 13
Passenger capacity - 2,974
Total crew - 1,150
Ship size - Large
Tonnage - 110,000
Ship length - 953 feet

Our first two days on board were at sea. There were many things for us to do, especially since Carnival is known as the “fun ship” cruise liner. During the day we had mini-golf, volleyball, basketball, shuffleboard, ping-pong, swimming, hot tub, water slide, and sun bathing at our leisure. There were also scheduled activities going on during the two days such as: bingo, trivia games, team contests (which I’ll explain later), and much more. One of our favorite contests, at least to watch on the recap video (according to Jessica and I, and our best friends Jen and Stephanie) would have to be the hairy man competition. It was all thanks to the cute guy who entered and had absolutely no hair on his body, except for the one that his girlfriend drew on his chest with a ballpoint pen. During the evenings there were also many things to do: lose or win money at the casino, dance the night away in the dance club, listen to various bands playing throughout the ship, go to the evening production/show, and our favorite activity—karaoke. We were in there every night.

volleyball on the Lido deck

Danny (Jessica’s boyfriend) and Shawn singing Bohemian Rhapsody at karaoke

One of the major activities throughout the week is team competition. Carnival splits up the guests into three teams: red, white, and the best team, which was our team…blue (even though we lost, but who cares we were winning all week). During the week whenever contests and games were played the goal was to win points for your team and cheer for those on your team. The team at the end of the cruise with the most points would be the winners. The prize: simply the glory of a victorious win…and nothing else. Really there wasn’t much of a point to this “team” thing. We kept saying it felt like we were a part of a cult because you found yourself booing other teams and people that you had never met before and will probably never see again. But, I guess it was all good fun because it gave more excitement to each day.

The massive team cheering competition/dance party. The parents, Donny & Cami, were into it!

At every stop there were options to go on excursions that were approved by Carnival cruise lines. They are basically a way to have fun without having to really plan anything and know that you’re safe with an approved tourist company out in another country. These excursions ranged from a leisurely time at the beach—city tours—water rafting.

The first port stop was Jamaica. Jessica and I went on the horseback-riding excursion with Jessica’s boyfriend Danny and our friend Shawn. It was so fantastic!! And in case you wanted to know my horse’s name was Crystal Light and Jessica’s was Stardust. Our parents went on a shopping tour in the city and had a great time w/ the other people in our group. I hear they had a fantastic tour guide and made a few great purchases.

Jessica & I riding through Jamaica…well at least part of it.

Our second stop was at the Grand Cayman Islands. Here we all decided to have our own beach & shopping day and not go on an excursion. We went to the Seven Mile beach around the Marriot area and spent a few hours playing and laying in the sun. A few people rented snorkel gear and went out to see what sea life they could find. I don’t think there was much out there since the reefs were quite far away. After the beach we went back into town and did some shopping.

Beautiful beach…

Our last stop was Cozumel, Mexico. The excursion here was Passion Island. Most of you have actually seen this island and you probably didn’t know it. It’s pretty famous
thanks to the Corona commercials. Yes…that’s right we were at the “Corona Beach” as we liked to call it. This was a great day of relaxing on the beach and enjoying company. It was a great final stop for our trip. Corona beach…ahhh…so wonderful!

One last day at sea ended our trip. It was still filled with the same activities that we had throughout the trip. We were all pretty exhausted from the week, so we didn’t do much except laze around. The evening, however, was very exciting. It was the final show for our trip, which just happened to be the “Carnival Legends” show. The show featured 10 guests (passengers) impersonating artists who have influenced music (James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Elton John, Madonna, Britney Spears, Ricky Martin, Gloria Estefan, Garth Brooks, Elvis Presley, and Frank Sinatra). They auditioned during the karaoke activities and were chosen by fellow guests. The reason for mentioning this show and not others is the fact that our very own, Jessica Sims, was chosen to be Britney Spears. She rocked the karaoke audition and had the guests screaming for more. I must say that I’m proud to be her sister!

Were you aware that Britney Spears was in our family??

After a long 7 days we were all glad to be back on land. It was a bittersweet moment for us all. We are now back to reality—work and school. It was a great vacation full of memories that we will never forget. Oh and let me just say that as soon as we stepped off the ship we were all asking when the next one will be.

Family Vacation!

Wish you could’ve been there!

(want to see more go to http://greenville.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2074168&id=44005633 and http://greenville.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2074220&id=44005633 to check out more photos from Cruise 2008)

Monday, January 14, 2008

Patrick Bentley gets screen credit in "Charlie Wilson's War"

The following post was sent to us from David Bruce:

If you look back in the blog archives to October 24 you will see a note from Patrick about serving as Director Mike Nichols personal driver during the production of "Charlie Wilson's War." What you may not know is that he also appears in a scene that includes Tom Hanks.

Pat appears about one third of the way into the movie. The scene takes place in a public park where a CIA "geek" is playing chess with 4 different persons at once. As you look at the screen Pat is at the back table on the left. If you have the patience to hang around at the end his name appears in the cast credits.

When he was working in the production office he sent Sally and I each some movie swag. We each have a "Charlie Wilson's War" jacket. However, we forgot to wear them when we went to see the film.

For those of you who know Patrick's girlfriend Juliet you will see her in the attached photo. Look just behind Julia Roberts and there strolling past is our Juliet.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Christmas with Pat, Jerry, Amber, Kristen, Tony & Madison

I have a lot to tell, so you can use whatever you would like. I just did not want to leave anything out, as I thought that you might like to hear it all!!! Wish I was there to tell you in person, and I look forward to reading others as I return to the blog.

As you know, Tony (my son-in-law) has been on deployment since the first of June, and Kristen and Madison have been staying at my house during his deployment. When Tony left Memphis, Madison was only 1 month old. Upon Tony's return to Memphis (12.21.07), Madison was almost 9 months old. When Tony arrived back in Memphis, we were at the airport to meet him, and Kristen handed him Madison, but Madison wasn't too sure about him, so she began to cry and was given back to her mommy. However, after a very short while she was very taken with her daddy, and she watched every move he made. It has been a treat to watch Madison get to know her daddy, and to see the 2 of them interact with one another.

Christmas was at my house this year because we wanted to share the moment with family (16 of us together) for Madison's first visit from Santa!

We began our day with breakfast (Kevin's fabulous omelettes), and then began opening presents. It is our tradition to open presents one at a time so that everyone can see what each one has gotten. Daddy (Uncle Fred) plays Santa each year and calls out each gift and one of the grandkids (Mitchell -this year) will deliver the gift, and we all watch while it is being opened. After the gifts are all opened, we then get our stockings - what fun this is as well. After the stockings are repacked, we then play Dirty Santa! This is so much fun each year, and there is always at least one gift that has a tendency to be "stolen" more than others.

Well, my home is very quiet now. It was really hard the day before they (Tony, Kristen and Madison) left to return to WA, as everything was packed and we were just hanging out at the house. On the way to the airport I sat in the backseat with Madison and held her little hand while she dozed off and on. They flew out on Wed (1.2.08) at 7:10 am, and so we said our goodbyes at the airport at 6:20 am. They had so much to get through security that we didn't delay it any longer. I did really well until I hugged Kristen. However, I regained my composure enough to watch them to the last minute at the end of the ramp. They flew into Dallas and had a layover of 1.5 hours, where they got some breakfast. Then they flew Dallas to Seattle (4 hour trip). Arrived in Seattle at 12:40 and then had to wait about 2 hours on the shuttle. They got to their car at about 6:30 pm (8:30 cst), got all loaded up and it wouldn't start. Madison had been great all day, but now she was tired, and it was cold. They got a friend to come right over and jump them off, so they were actually in their apartment by about 7:15pm (9:15 CST). Made for a really long day, but they are home now and enjoying life as a family.
Madison is very mobile now, and so they are having to keep a very close eye on her. She crawls everywhere. She is trying to pull up some, but mostly crawling. We were beginning to wonder if she was going to crawl at all, and then she just kind of took off. On the day they left, Amber and I went back to the house and went back to bed, then got up and finished packing up some of their stuff so that we could take it to the post office. As of yesterday, everything they wanted sent is now gone. We shipped 11 packages USPS and 4 packages FedEx. One of the USPS boxes had all of her crib bedding in it, and so she was able to sleep in a crib again last night. Needless to say, I am enjoying the webcam. We are not having a lot of luck getting them to view ours, but we are able to view theirs, and that is what counts right now.
Right now we are planning to go to WA this March, as we have 3 very important dates to celebrate, and in this order - Jerry will turn 50 (March 6th), Amber will turn 21 (March 27th), and Madison will turn 1 (March 28th). We are going to try and go the first week of March, as this is when Amber will be out on Spring Break.

Attached is a family photo that Kevin took for us of Tony, Kristen and Madison on 12.30.07. By the way, I have spoken to Kevin and I think he will be sending you some photos from our Christmas together for the blog as well.


Thursday, January 10, 2008

Christmas Blogs...



Wednesday, January 9, 2008


Today is January 9th. Amanda turned 27 today. Circumstances didn't allow us to have a birthday celebration tonight as we had planned, but regardless of any circumstances, my heart and my mind have traveled to the place where I was 27 years ago. There could not have been a happier woman on the face of the earth than I was that day (unless it was my mom). For those of you who may not know it, we had a home birth with Amanda. She was born at my mom and dad's house, the same house my mom lives in now. The night before Amanda was born, ironically I attended a baby shower for a lady in our church. There were two newborns (or close to it) there that night and my arms ached to hold the baby I was carrying. The details of that night are burned into my heart and mind and I will cherish those memories all the days of my life.

I went into labor around 11:00pm and Amanda was born at 6:00am. By 7:00 she was bathed and sleeping in bed beside me. My beautiful baby girl....now a beautiful grown woman. A woman with a passion for God and a deep desire to walk in all He is calling her to. What a wonderful gift to Ike and I. Ike and I have often spoken of the blessing of our children. They were answers to our prayers when we so desperately wanted a family of our own. Now they continue to be answers to prayers as we watch them walk uprightly before the Lord. Again, what a marvelous gift to Ike and I.

There is an awful lot going on in my life right now and it is easy to get side-tracked and miss the point. So tonight I wanted to put my thoughts out and remind myself what really matters in life, and enjoy the moment we are in. Happy Birthday, Amanda.

Attached is a photo of Amanda and I taken last weekend in Dallas where we attended the wedding of Tommie Lee and Margie's son, Randy. We'll put info out about the wedding in the next few days.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

....Note from David Bruce....

I received this note from David Bruce and believe it or not I had just written a blog entry on the same thing!! I'm posting his note and will try to get my photos in order to post tomorrow....

As we have for well over a decade a couple of dozen folks gathered at Mammaw's house in Levy to begin a night of Christmas caroling. We were happy to have Uncle Fred and Aunt Anne there this year. Attached are of couple of photos from that gathering. Also included is a photo of Mammaw looking at pictures from the India trip by David, Sally, Duwane, and Emma.