Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Cruisin' on the Carnival Glory

Aaron and I just got back (a week and a half ago) from a Western Caribbean cruise!  I LOVE the Caribbean - warm and you can see the bottom.  That's my kind of ocean!  The cruise was 8 days 7 nights but we were gone for 10 days!  We had a blast, but were definitely missing our kids when it was over.  This'll be a long one so prepare yourself....

Let's start with the random pics on the ship.  We only had 2 at sea days, so there wasn't much to see.... unless you're interested in a million pictures of us eating.  We did a lot of that!  :)

Our dinner table!  What an awesome group of people.  We liked them so much you'll see them again... we ended up on excursions with them a few days. 
Preparing to set sail

random pics by Aaron

Mini golf in the wind.  Not our best idea, but it was pretty funny!

The Carnival Glory.  Home for 8 days.

The champagne I won making a complete fool out of myself winning "Boat Brother Reality Show".  It was fun, but the prize obviously found a new owner.

Aaron loved the Mongolian noodles the most.  My favorite was the "Turkey Sandwich on a Country Roll" - put in the panini press.  Somebody kill me.  

Port Day 1: Cozumel, Mexico.
Aaron and I had been to Cozumel on our honeymoon and rented a scooter and drove around the whole island.  We thought we'd relive the good old days since it was so fun the 1st time.  Here's what we did in Cozumel:
  • Took a beginning snorkeling class... which I thought wasn't worth the money until I realized it really helped Aaron and I get over being a little bit ocean shy and we had so much fun snorkeling the rest of the trip.
  • Rented a scooter.  Got less ripped off this time. 
  • Boogie boarded.  Drove to the back side of the island - aka the side with waves.  Found the best beach for boogie boarding and my husband humored me and ended up having tons of fun, too.  
  • Snorkeled.  On the other side of the island with no waves. 

 Port Day 2:  Belize City, Belize
We were seriously cautioned to "have a plan" this day... which of course we didn't.  So we coaxed one of the couples at our dinner table, Jeff and Sandra, to "get lost with us".  We ended up booking a tour when we got off the ship to go cave tubing in one of those huge underground rivers that are so important in Mayan culture.  It was awesome!! 

Belize had some beautiful, old buildings... but you can't see the building, just the fence in this one. 

It was jungly fields as far as the eye could see and then these mountains popped up out of nowhere in the distance.  Gorgeous!

We hiked 40 minutes through dense rain forest before we finally got in the river.  It was awesome. 

Port Day 3:  Isla Roatan, Honduras
This was our FAVORITE port and we have but a few measley pictures... because our camera died!  So sad!  And terrible timing.  :(
  • Teamed up with everyone at our dinner table to play in Roatan together. 
  • Rented a 5-seater car for $50 (so cheap split 6 ways!).  Only went the wrong way on a 1-way road once.  Ha. 
  • Drove 45 minutes on their 2 lane "highway" with densely packed jungle on both sides to the west end of the island. 
  • Enjoyed West Bay for the rest of the day - a beautiful white sand beach complete with a delicious pulled pork quesadilla (the meat was a local specialty) and cute little girls selling necklaces on the beach... so of course I got one for Em. 
  • Best snorkeling of our trip!! We swam out to the edge of this beautiful coral reef (some people were taking boats out to it.... it wasn't THAT far!) that dropped off into semi-open ocean.  Enjoyed beautiful coral and fish... and basically felt like we were living in the Discovery Channel.
The view pulling into Roatan.  It was at least as rain-forested as it looks.  I was so excited!  If I don't look excited it's because it was 3:30 in the morning my time at that moment.  Yikes.  I've been going to be between 8 and 9 every night since we got home.  My body has NO idea what time zone its in!

Tell me you don't love that beach with the big cliff at the end with jungle sitting on top.  Amazing, right?

Port Day 4: Grand Cayman
We had a blast in Grand Cayman even though it wasn't my favorite port location.  I like the little, run-down islands where I can experience something different than what I see every day at home.  Grand Cayman was commercialized.  It had malls.  And a Dairy Queen.  And a Burger King.  We definitely had some good adventures though.  :)
  • Shopped for the kids at a cute local craft market and found them some good surprises to bring home. 
  • Hopped one of Captain Marvin's boats to go swim with the sting rays. (Captain Marvin is 95, he has 15 kids, you leave on the boats from his house - which is tiny and run down, and he owns like 15 of these huge fishing boats.  Pretty cool shin dig he's running!)  The sting rays gather in this shallow sand bar in the middle of the ocean and thousands of crazy people go swim with them each week.  They kept telling us "they are like trained puppies".  Ya right, I said.  They are STING RAYS.  Turns out they are like puppies.  People have been going out there since the 50s to feed them and swim with them.  They are totally docile.  They swim right up to your face to say hello.  They eat out of your hand.  Kind of crazy, but so fun!! 
  • Snorkeled in the middle of the ocean in a coral garden.  Saw a barracuda who sat there and watched our whole group snorkel for 25 minutes.  (Side note - Aaron kept saying he thought he saw a barracuda every time we snorkeled.  They were just needle fish.  I told him he'd know if he saw a barracuda.  And he definitely knew.  It was pretty funny!)

Pirate ships in Cayman.  They actually have a "Pirate Week" that's apparently a pretty big deal.  I think I'll skip going back for it. 

Despite being pretty commercialized, they did have a pretty awesome fish market!

Wanted to eat lunch at this groovy little grill on the beach.

But ate here instead.  Peanut butter and jelly on toast from breakfast on the steps of a bank overlooking the ocean.  It's good to exercise monetary self-control even when it hurts.

Our driver.  Hilarious guy. 

Cruisin' with Captain Marvin.  Since our camera broke we don't have any pictures of the water-based adventures.  Only regret of the trip... should have bought that $12 disposable water-proof camera.  :)

It was a great trip and we really enjoyed the time together.  It was fun to have the time just the two of us.  A few times I felt like we went back in time and were newlyweds... especially reliving that scooter extravaganza in Cozumel.  A few things we learned:
  • Always find a way to win a plastic piece of ship while on board a cruise (aka a trophy).  
  • Salt water eats sunscreen.  It's hopeless.  We looked like Rudolf after Cozumel and we put sunscreen on 3 times!
  • The food on Carnival cruises is pretty good.  And 24-hour a day food is amazing. 
  • Some comedians do funny family-friendly shows, and some are too dirty to find anything funny to say in a family-friendly venue.  
  • Sting rays give great back massages. 
  • If you smile and hold hands enough, lots of people will wish you a happy honeymoon.  :) 
  • Even though we had a blast, 10 days is too long without our kiddos.  Next time we do a 10-dayer they'll come too.  :)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Other October Happenings

Probably the 2nd biggest event of the month (behind Van's 2nd bday) was Emery traveling with Grandma and Grandpa to see Miles in Massachusetts.  These two were so happy to be reunited and had so much fun!  Thanks Gram and Pa (and Matthew and Amy) for such a fun treat for my big girl!
Daddy's little helper

A rare moment of Van holding still.... to read the Ensign with me on a Sunday morning!  Weird - I can barely get him to hold still for Sandra Boynton. 

When Vander's asleep, Daddy will play...

Van loves "Hog" (or "Hoggy", either way he's trying his best to say frog)

And as usual, my children proved to be the world's cleanest eaters.  :)

Halloween... only a month late!!

Halloween was so fun this year!  It really is one of those holidays that isn't my favorite... until I had kids old enough to care!  They loved it and were both old enough to really understand what happens when you say "Trick or Treat", or for Van just "treat" or "candy please!"  Here's the recap. 

Happy girl on the swing at the pumpkin patch

The signature pumpkin on the hay shot

nothing cuter than kids in gourds

Van with his little buddy Tyler (the monkey) and his cute mom at the Ward Trunk or Treat.  These guys were two cute wild animals.

Em and Jayne - the Rapunzel twins.

"Candy please" is a consistent phrase heard at our house now.  Here's Van enjoying a cake ball. 

The pumpkins - from L to R - Mom's "big scary building with a bat and the moon, Em's happy Princess pumpkin, and Dad's angry pumpkin

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

happy humpday (wednesday)!!

Here's what made me happy today:

  • My new sweatpants - I've been on a quest for the perfect sweatpants, and I finally found them!  I want some I can wear on a normal day that look cute and don't make me look like I'm still in my pjs.  :)
  • That there are people in this world who want their children, love their children, want more and are good parents.  There are too many running the opposite course, but I'm so happy for the little army of us who really want to be good parents and help each other do it.  
  • The Relief Society dinner tonight.  Sat, relaxed, chatted with fun people, ate dinner someone else cooked and got some spiritual uplifting about developing a heart more like the Savior's.  
  • Aaron keeping the kids way up past their bedtime to play a game that involved them chasing each other around the house with a pop gun. 
  • Coming home to find Aaron adorned head to foot in Boy Scout olive green.  Ha, my little scouter is so cute.  
Hope yours was as good as mine!