Wednesday, May 10, 2017

What March Looked Like

Popcorn trees 

 YW basketball

One Sunday morning, in our rush out the door to church,
B forgot his shoes!
I learned to expect that when I had 3 or 4-year-olds.
I didn't see that coming with my 15-year-old.
He texted a friend and had him bring an extra pair of shoes. Ha!

Dress as your favorite book character day at school.
C went as Hermione Granger from Harry Potter. 

Gate City Tennis social
Time to kick off another season. Yippee!
Our team was recognized with the sportsmanship award.
Tracy, Mariann, and I were the only ones who could
make it to the brunch. 

Spring band concert.
All-county band members were recognized. 

We spent a super fun weekend down in Charlotte this month.
Whit and I got tickets to the Sleeping Beauty ballet.
SO gorgeous and graceful and fancy.

We couldn't take pics, but here's one from Charlotte Ballet's website.
The costumes were spectacular.

While we were at the ballet,
Andrew took B (and C) to some streetwear
shops that B has been dying to visit.
He had a little bit of money and bought a new shirt.
Then we met back up at a hotel downtown.
Whit and I got changed and we headed to a Hornets game. 

We love going to at least one game a year.
This one was a super-exciting almost-buzzer-beater.

We stopped at a Buffalo Wild Wings for dessert on our
walk back to our hotel.

The next morning, we woke up to....

We had a multi-stake meeting with Elder Quentin L. Cook
and his wife, Mary, as well as Elder Klebingat and his wife, Julia.
It was cool to be in a big coliseum full of members here in the South.
Took me back to my days of attending BYU devotionals in the Marriott Center.
They shared uplifting, inspirational messages.
I especially liked Elder Cook's thoughts on building Zion in
our hearts and homes, amid all the evils surrounding us.

Caroline and Whit participate in Kidzeyes, 
an online survey company for kids.
They get to do about a survey a month and get paid
(a little bit) for their time.
They also can do a superpoll each month, where they
get a chance to win a bigger prize.
Caroline won $40 in the Feb SuperPoll. Woo hoo!
She used her winnings to buy this
fun, big lego set. 

You never know where you're going to find Care Bear. 

After ten years and 212,000 miles, it was time to say
good-bye to Hot Rod. She's been a great van, but
it was time for a new one.

We found a great deal on this 2016 Chrysler Town and Country
in Kernersville. We test drove it, were happy with it,
and decided to buy it.
We LOVE it.
Such a smooth ride with lots of perks that Hot Rod didn't have.
Hope it lasts as long our last one did! 

Ward service project:
Always fun to serve with our church family. 

Lunch in Winston with Bea for her birthday. 

Aunt Irene sends the kids Sonic cards for Christmas
every year. They were excited to finally cash them in! 

I snuck in a quick mid-week trip to the temple.
Such a spiritual boost!
I need to get there more often!

Had a GNO at Bea's house with Martha
and Laura to celebrate Bea's birthday again. :) 

You never know what you'll find at Five Below. 

Who knew my "vintage" Shaq jersey from 
high school would be cool again?
At least to my fashion-obsessed teen. :) 

Took the girls to see the new Beauty and the Beast.
We loved it.
Emma Watson was a fabulous Belle. 

Climbing competition!
I got to take Caroline to a climbing comp
in Raleigh. It was her second one, but my first.
She did a great job!

Very cool to see all these young climbers working so hard. 

 I was SO impressed by how hard she worked!
Rock climbing is HARD.
And she is a determined girl.
The pink route is the only one she tried and failed.
But she didn't give up after the first try.
She kept trying.
I think she was just a little too short to be able to make
that move. But she tried over and over.
She didn't place this time, but learned a lot for next comp.

YW basketball tournament
These ladies got out in the first round of the tourney.
But they worked HARD.
And most games, they didn't have any subs.
So proud of Whit for supporting her friends,
even though she doesn't like b-ball.

Our YM basketball team made it to the championship.

It was SUCH a good game.
It went into overtime,
but we ended up losing at the end.

Super proud of these boys for their great season!
Kobe is the only one graduating, so 
hopefully we'll have another great season next year!

General Women's meeting!
Love getting spiritually fed with my girls and
the women in our ward family,
including Sister Stearns and Sister Hill. :)

Sunday, May 7, 2017

More cruise memories

*Things we didn't like/would change*

This was such a fabulous vacation, but there are always a few things we would change if we could.

*It was one day too short. It was a four day cruise and we REALLY could have used five days. :)

*Getting a huge rock chip in Andrew's windshield on the drive down. Andrew drives a Honda Element. When he was researching those cars a few years ago before we bought it, he read that since the windshield is very vertical (not angled much), it tends to get rock chips more often. Wow. We witnessed that in action on the Florida highways. We got TWO chips in the same day! And it wasn't even like we were driving behind a big rock-carrying truck. One chip stayed small, but the other spread across the windshield. Ugh. Still haven't done anything about it.

*Driving away with the gas pump still in the Element. Oops. We filled up with gas before we hit the road for home and Andrew forgot to take the pump out of the car before we drove away. The gas station owners didn't seem that upset, so hopefully it turned out ok. 

*Andrew:  Waking up at 7 am and 6:30 am on two of our four days. Sleeping in is one of the sweet perks of vacation that Andrew LOVES. Because of our excursions leaving early, he had to wake up early on two days. Bummer. But it was worth it.

*Fighting over covers on three of the four nights. What is up with that??? Andrew and I have been married for 20 years and have never had a problem with fighting over the covers. But for some reason, in the middle of the night on the cruise ship, we were having a tug-of-war over them! Even though it was a king sized bed! It was crazy. Now that we're home, the problem has resolved itself. Phew.

*Andrew would like the ice cream to be a little firmer.

*Our SNUBA excursion was a FAIL! Andrew and I had done SNUBA one other time and LOVED it. Marianne and Patrick were excited to try it, too. It was NOT good. The water was murky. Very poor visibility. Our SNUBA guide was bossy and kept telling us where to go, but then it wasn't like he was taking us somewhere to see something cool. I felt like I was just wandering around aimlessly in dirty water. Yuck. Plus, I was having issues with my mask and it kept filling up with water. Afterward on the boat, our guide told me it was because I smile too much. Huh. Sorry for being so cheerful. :)

Look at how dark the water is! 

Notice the lack of wildlife. 

This little piece of sponge (?) was about the coolest 
thing we saw. So NOT worth a hundred bucks.

*Our server pressuring us every night to rate him highly on our end-of-cruise survey. We had great servers and they treated us very well. But then at the end of the cruise, we were told OVER AND OVER again, "Make sure you give us a superior rating! We need you to give us the best rating possible. Didn't we meet all of your needs? Make sure you tell them that on your survey." Ugh. I didn't like that pressure at all.

Great service...and you better make sure their bosses know about it! :)

*On two of our four mornings we had to wake up EARLY... 6:30 and 7 am for our excursions. One of Andrew's favorite things about vacations is sleeping he felt robbed by those early morning wake-up calls.

*Fighting for the covers on three of our four nights. I don't know what was up with this. We have a king bed at home and had a king bed on the cruise. At home, we never fight over the covers. But almost every night on the cruise, we were playing tug-of-war with the covers throughout the night. Weird. Maybe our cabin was colder than our bedroom at home and we both wanted to make sure we stayed warm.

*Andrew hitting his head multiple times. It's funny that we enjoy cruising so much when cruises are NOT meant for tall people! Andrew hit his head HARD a couple of times. And the showers are hilarious. I made him pose in the shower (fully clothed!) so you can get an idea.

Watch your head!

*Other memories*

*Andrew BARELY had enough Marriott points to get us a free night for our hotel the night before the ship left. Yes!

*When you board the ship, they announce you like Royalty over the loud speakers. So cute.

*I loved chatting with our tour guide, Mario, as we finished kayaking and were leaving the tour. He's about our age and has a son Brandon's age and it was fun to hear about life in the Bahamas. One thing that I loved and I wish we did in the US: teenage drivers with learning permits drive with a special sticker on the back window so other drivers know that they are beginners. Isn't that a great idea? Why don't we do that?

*Andrew loved the super crispy hashbrowns at breakfast... not so much the limp bacon that was labeled as "crispy bacon"

*All the awesome special effects in the Cinderella show:  explosions, lighting, dresses changing from black/white to color in the blink of an eye.

*The floating lanterns during the Rapunzel show. So magical!

*While we were kayaking, a bonefish swam through. Holy cow! Those things are FAST! I couldn't believe it. It was like a torpedo was zipping through the water. I just googled it and learned that they can swim up to 40 mph. Glad it didn't run into us!

*Even though we didn't like our SNUBA adventure, we loved hanging out on the back of our boat in the warm Key West sun while our boat-mates took their turn swimming in the murky water.

Loved this!

*We were in the minority of cruise ship guests who spoke English as a first language. Kind of cool to hear so many different languages around us.

*Andrew bonding with the other tall guy on the ship.

This guy was a little bit taller than Andrew.
He called Andrew, "Little Guy." Ha!
It was very easy to spot each other in crowds,
so we ended up bonding with him throughout
the cruise.

*Walking around Key West

Even though the SNUBA wasn't great, we had time to just walk around Key West when we were done. We liked exploring that city. It has a very cool, tropical vibe.

Check out that tree! 

Why did the chicken cross the road. 

We made it to the end of the road!
Southernmost point in the continental US...
(apparently it's disputed, but we're not going to argue.)

Marianne wanted Patrick to collect some sand from 
the beach. Except we never really got to a beach.
So he dug through those rocks to find some. Ha! 

A crazy reef-covered truck.

*The waterslide!

Our ship had an amazing water slide, where you are in a tube hanging over the ocean for part of it. It was the best! You had to stand on this round platform and would hear a countdown 3...2...1... and then the floor would drop out from under you and you were on your way. Andrew had no interest in doing it. Patrick did it once. Marianne and I went back three times. Loved it.

That red tube is the start of the slide.
It turns clear where you're hanging over the side
of the ship. I was too busy screaming 
to actually try to look down at the ocean beneath me. 

Fun, fun, fun!

We had such a fabulous time. But we got home LATE on a Sunday night and had to go right back to our work/school/volunteering/homemaking duties when we got home. I didn't like it. I had a bit of post-vacation depression where I didn't want to get out of bed. To cure my blues, I talked the kids into taking ANOTHER cruise for spring break. Yippee!

While we LOVED this cruise and hope to do another Disney cruise in the future for the two of us, it is just WAY TOO EXPENSIVE for us to pay for the whole family to go. Just to give you an idea, to take our whole family on a 5-night Carnival cruise for spring break 2017 will cost $2500. We're hoping to try out Royal Caribbean next year for spring break and it's a 4 night cruise and will cost around $2600. I checked out the price for our family to take a similar cruise on Disney during that same week (4-nights, leaving out of Orlando, making two stops in the Bahamas):  $6900. Whoa. Almost three times as much! I just can't justify that expense when our family has thoroughly enjoyed our cruises on more affordable cruise lines.

Disney is a little more affordable in the off-season (like Feb, when we went), but once you have kids in high school. it's hard to take them out of school in the off-season. 

So, so happy we could celebrate our friendships, marriage, and birthdays with each other and Patrick and Marianne. It was an unforgettable week in paradise!