Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Cruisin it Up!

Nathan and I were so excited to go on our 2nd vacation this year - a cruise! We've been wanting to do one since we got married and it finally worked out. Now don't be thinking we've hit the big time or anything, we did one modest family beach vacation and this was your basic cruise. Both were pretty affordable and nothing luxurious but still lots of fun!

To make it even better, we were able to go with a group of our best friends! We sat down together early in the year, found a date and stuck with it as best we could. It worked out for all but one couple which is pretty good, 4/5 were able to make it. I would highly recommend going on a cruise with friends, it just adds to the fun. We commented a few times that it may be a little boring with just our spouses, ha!

We didn't take the kids. Kaleigh stayed w/ Nana and Papa so she wouldn't miss school. We stopped on the way down and met up with my parents to take the twins and Emory stayed in New Orleans with my brother and sister in law. They all had a blast, I think, which was an answer to prayer.

We went on a 5 day cruise, the Carnvial Elation, out of New Orleans. We had a little time that morning to explore the city before leaving at 4. 

After the boat left and we got the safety drill out of the way, we jumped right into things!
One of the first things we did was a little gameshow. They had two rounds of trivia and we had a friend in each of the rounds! Ben won the first one and Sara lost to a Trivia Guru in the second but still got a medal.

 We were pleasantly surprised by the rooms - they were more spacious than I expected. We got a window which I highly recommend too. The room attendant was excellent. He knew our names right off and we loved the twice daily turn down service and of course the little towel animals!

The food was definitely a highlight. I loved seeing the menu selections every night and being treated like royalty by our wait staff. Being able to order as much as you want is such a treat too. We were very pleasantly surprised by the food. I love being able to try new things.

We ended that evening with a volleyball game on the top deck of the ship. It was a nice friendly competition that carried over the next couple of days.

Our days were filled with relaxing on the deck reading, eating wonderful food, seeing some authentic Mexico and buying some cheap homemade goods, napping, dance classes, and eating.

Our evenings were eating, dressing up, watching comedy and karaoke, seeing the shows, dancing or watching people dance, taking pictures, and just having fun doing things we wouldn't normally get to do!

"Single Ladies" Beyonce Dance Class!
Two other highlights were the excursion at Cozumel where we went on a catamaran, snorkeling and to a private beach with slides and other water activities. It started off terrible - rainy and cold. It got a little better but rained quite a bit while we were snorkeling. It was still really neat though. The weather cleared up by the time we got to the beach and the water was nice and warm so we had a good time. It was very memorable.

The other highlight was dressing up for fun with our friends. This is where traveling with a group really gets fun! It has been a while since I laughed as much as I did this night. We ate and got a kick out of the looks we got, then had a blast taking pictures with the photographers on the ship! I love having friends who don't mind being goofy!

It was a great vacation - I am already dreaming of the next one, especially with this coollld weather, brr!

I will be putting lots more pictures on facebook too!

Friday, August 16, 2013


So, I've decided that blogging 3 or 4 times a year is much more efficient than once or twice a week. This has totally been my plan all along...of course. You can go ahead and set a reminder for somewhere around January 15th for my next post. Cause, you know, December's busy and all.

This is going to be a summary of our summer (just in case you missed the title of the post). Mainly not to brag or post pictures for family, but so when my kids complain that we never do anything I can yell at them "look! Look at this blog and see what all we did this summer!" Can't argue with the blog, right? Of course they will then pull the one thing off our Summer Bucket List that we didn't do as retaliation.

"But Mom, we never made homemade Ice chalk and that's the only thing I wanted to do!"

"Oh really? Then why did I take you to 3 Vacation Bible schools?!" (really, that was for me but it will be years before they figure that out)

Our first summer activity wasn't actually quite summer yet, it was in May during school because lets face it, I couldn't wait any longer to take a beach vacation. (I'm thinking of planning our 2014 vacation for next month) So here we are in all our squinty eyed, white dress beautifulness on the beach.

 We went to the lake with friends and family - Kaleigh even learned to water ski!! She stayed up for more than 20 seconds. Okay, that sounds like a joke but really 20 seconds is a pretty long time for a newbie water skiier...We were very proud!

We frequented our new local splash pad. It was a lot of fun. And best of all with a splash pad you don't have to worry so much about E.coli, meningitis and other joys of public swimming pools.

Kaleigh got to go to Family Farm. It is a wonderful place and I highly recommend it to those in the area. They learned bible verses, rode horses, went fishing and canoeing, rode paddle boats, built sand castles, played with the farm animals, did archery, and more! I think Nathan was most proud when she told us about her bulls-eye in archery. Here she is with all her awards... 

Visited our family in Louisiana and went to a children's museum...

My picture taking dropped off immensely at some point in the summer. Pretty much after our beach trip in May. Here's the other stuff we did that I didn't get pictures of: 
  • made sun catchers
  • mall
  • Magic Springs (Kaleigh & Emory with my sister)
  • Vacation Bible School 
  • Swimming in friends pool and the lake
  • picked strawberries
  • visited family
  • camping
  • $1 Summer movies
  • K learned to ride her bike 
The 3 older girls took swim lessons. We did our library summer reading and all five of us girls completed our goals. We took part in many of their programs, which are great! And K ready probably 50 chapter books this summer. I wish I had kept count. She read a ton! I can't say how happy that makes me.

We planted a garden. I approximate that I spent about 50 dollars and 17 hours and we got maybe 10 edible tomatoes, 10 cucumbers, lots of basil, some other herbs, a few squash. All in all, a rousing success. (you can't discount the satisfaction of eating your own home grown food, even if six people are sharing a 3-inch cucumber.

Well, that was our summer in a nutshell. I'm happy with it. So what if I intended to teach the twins to read and only made it through 8 lessons? Or that i wanted to read one book of the bible to my kids and we got through about 4 chapters? Or that my garden fed more bugs, worms and rabbits than it did us? We survived the summer, relationships intact. Most importantly, I got lots of ammo to fire at my kids thru at least the end of the year when they tell me they never get to do anything. 

Monday, February 04, 2013

Happy 3rd Birthday, Emory. Oh Emory!

Well, our "baby" Emory is three. How can this be? We love this little girl to pieces. She may not be a baby anymore but she will always be our baby of the family. She wears the role of youngest to the fullest! She came into life ready for the party! She's social, outgoing, and loves the spotlight. She loves to have ALL Mommy's attention if possible (not usually possible) and pasttimes include getting into messes and tormenting her sisters for fun. :)

I've written down a few of her quotes over the past year. So many more that I didn't get, but just know that you never know what will come out of this funny girl's mouth!

This is called "mine"!

Us: Emory, you're cute.
E: I'm not cute, I'm a crazy woman!

Me: Hey Pookie.
E: Yes. I DO want a cookie.

E: Mommy, Avery pokded me.
Av: I didn't poke you Emory, I poinked you.
E: Oh. Mommy! Avery poinkded me!

Her favorite quote: I'm gonna tell you a secret. It's not gonna be a really funny one, it's gonna be a pretty one. (Breathy whispers in our ear) - Tomorrow - can we for for a walk at the playground?

My fave quote: I love you, mommy :)

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Reflection and Resolution

2012 was a pretty exciting year in our family. Nathan, Kaleigh and I took an awesome ski vacation with some great friends and Kaleigh skiied for the first time! We had lots and lots of fun with the girls, going places, making crafts (thanks, Pinterest!)... We took our first family vacation with everyone, finished out most of the basement, and Nathan started a new job! The twins started preschool and Kaleigh went to first grade. The little ones and I started Community Bible Study, which we all love.  I survived the year with my parents being far away and Nathan's mom working. Survived being a key word there... Overall, there were some downs, but many ups and it was a great year.

2012 resolutions - 
Nathan- spend more time w/girls one on one. ---- Didn't do so great but it has been hard, schedule wise. We will try again...
Shelly - work on photography & cut down on sugar ---- Not so good, and okay....
Kaleigh - she wanted to learn "to make snowballs". Wanted to get better at "Swimming", and her Biggest Goal was to "make ice cream with snow".- improved swimming a little, we never did get those lessons..., made ice cream and snowballs on December 26th - how's that for cutting it close!

2013 Resolutions
Nathan - Be more intentional (make more plans), become a better marksman, continue family dinners, one on one time w/girls
Shelly- Learn to can & make fermented vegetables, make my own yogurt, organize photos, learn to shoot
Kaleigh - go ice skating and roller skating, plant flowers, fruit trees & vegetables, learn to ride bike
Avery - play with toys :), learn to set the table
Alexis - diaper free at night
Emory - plant flowers, stop wetting pants, learn colors and shapes

In addition, as a family I hope we will all grow spiritually this year. Looking forward to seeing what it brings and I will try to keep you updated.