Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Mommy-Daddy Trip 2016

DW and I had so much fun on our Mommy-Daddy trip this year.

We knew we wanted to plan something, but we just couldn’t seem to make the time to sit down and decide what we wanted to do and plan it. It was the middle of July and we still had no reservations or plan, so we just booked another cruise at the last minute.

A cruise is easy for a lot of reasons, but the best part to me, is the fact that you loose all cell service. There’s no checking facebook and instagram on your phone (me) and no checking your work email or getting work calls (DW). :) 

Options were limited because we wanted the cruise to include a weekend (less days off work for DW & my mom who was keeping the kids), we wanted 4 nights and it had to be the end of July. After looking around, our best option was out of Miami again. It’s quite a drive down, but with me playing DJ and singing along, it flies by. Of course, that probably depends on which one of us you ask. ;)

We dropped the kids off at my parents’ at bedtime on Wednesday night. We needed to leave around 6:30 Thursday morning and it was easier that way.

We arrived at the cruise terminals right at lunch time and got right through check-in and on the boat. After I saw this picture, I laughed because I look so tired and like I NEEDED a vacation! We did! :)IMG_6172

We went to find our room and then up to the pool deck for some lunch. It didn’t take us long to discover the hammocks hanging around the upper deck. I loved that the ship had these!   IMG_3685

We loved the location of our room. It was down the hall just enough to be away from the noise, but close to the elevator/stairs and we were only three decks down from the pool deck.

We did the “my time” dining, and had dinner around 7:00. Every night we ended up in the same general area in a window seat for two. IMG_3890I can’t say the same for breakfast – we had to sit with people every morning, but dinners worked out great!

One night at dinner, we watched the sun set and a big cruise ship was passing in front of it, it was gorgeous and I wish my phone would have taken a better picture of it. IMG_3893

On Friday, we made it to the Bahamas and spent the day at Royal Caribbean’s private island, CoCo Cay. cruiseWe booked the swimming with stingrays excursion and after a few hours on the beach, we caught the shuttle boat over to Sting Ray City. There’s nothing like that clear water! DSCN8115 There was construction going on at one island, and it was just crazy to see bulldozers and construction equipment in the middle of the ocean. DSCN8117

The tide was really low when we got to Stingray City, which made it awkward to snorkel, but I liked being able to stand and walk around. DSCN8215DSCN8220DSCN8248

We held stingrays and snorkeled around a little to find some star fish. DSCN8140DSCN8152The whole thing was really commercialized, though. I’m pretty sure they just scattered a few star fish around for you to find, because there was not much else to see, but maybe the low tide had something to do with that. ??DSCN8206The highlight was holding the stingrays and we checked that off. DSCN8155

After the boat ride back over, we got some lunch on the island. We were just there in April on the big family cruise, and this time it was much less crowded. DSCN8290We made the most of our time there, and were on the last boat tendered over to the ship. We had the best day enjoying some frozen Coco-Locos, floating out in the ocean, and laying in beach chairs.

The shows after dinner, were also really good this time. We went to three of the four and all were good. One night it was the classic cruise, off-Broadway type show with good song selections. Another night was a comedian who had just written a show for NBC and who also had been on Comedy Central and several other big things that I can’t remember. He was so funny, and clean. The next night was a fantastic impressionist – he was so good and it was just a neat show. He came out as at least a dozen different people including Johnny Cash, Ozzy Osbourne and ZZ Top. IMG_3881

Our second morning on the ship, we woke up at sea. Sea days are not our favorite, but this one was really good. We ended up getting one of the hammocks on the back of the ship and had the best time laying out and relaxing.  IMG_3899

Every night after dinner, we’d go up to the pool deck and lay in the hammocks or chairs. The boat was moving so slow the entire time, and the water was so calm, it was always so nice up there. The stars were beautiful, too.

After our sea day, we woke up the next morning, to a Key West sunrise. IMG_3882We had a morning snorkel/catamaran excursion booked first. IMG_3714

The tide was high, so the water was pretty deep and a little cloudy- we could see fine, but it made it hard to get pictures. The coral reef off key west is one of the world’s top 10 largest reefs, and I think I read it’s the only one in the continental US. Going in with those facts, I was expecting it to be a little different. We did get to see lots of different fish, but I was hoping for some brightly colored and really tall coral, but we didn’t see any of that. I’m not sure if it was the location of where we were on the reef or what. Still neat to say we’ve snorkeled part of it, though. DSCN8300DSCN8321DSCN8365DSCN8385DSCN8397

After the snorkel trip, we got back on the boat to change and then spend the rest of the day in Key West.

We had lunch on the water and then went to the aquarium.IMG_3837

I really one day, want to do an excursion where you can swim with sea turtles – we’ve never been anywhere so far, that we’ve seen one, so I was happy to see this guy at the aquarium.


I did start re-thinking the whole swim with them thing, though, since there was  sign there that said they will bite, and to keep your hands out of the water.



We had key lime pie on a stick,

and did a little shopping. I loved the Mermaid store, and adore this quote on their window: IMG_3888

By the afternoon, we were SO HOT. I seriously thought I was going to have a heat stroke. We got back on the boat and went straight for some cold water…and I took an elevator selfie in case the heat got me and it was our last picture together. Ok, so maybe I tend to err on the side of dramatic, but I’m not kidding-  it was THAT.HOT. IMG_3838

Thankfully, we got cooled off and made it to dinner that night.


The next morning we were up with the roosters and first in line for breakfast in the dining room. Our phones had gotten service when we’d pulled into port and DW’s started ringing within 15 minutes. Ahhh, back to reality. ;)

We had such a great time this trip. Any time away together is fantastic, and to be able to get to completely unplug from everything was so refreshing. Of course none of it would be possible if our kids didn’t have such wonderful grandparents who make leaving our kids easier. Grammy & Pop had our little darlings until Sunday and then passed them off to Pappy & Nie-Nie who had them until we got home Monday afternoon. I wish everybody had parents and in-laws like mine, and I especially hope my kids all say the same about me & DW someday.


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Bye, Beach - 2016

DW and I have a little mommy-daddy trip planned at the end of the month and school starts in a little over two weeks, so when we heard Pappy & Nie-Nie weren’t going to the beach this weekend, we decided to take our crew on one last beach trip of the summer.

It was also the weekend after a busy week of VBS, so it was wonderful to get to the condo on Friday night and just sit on the balcony and take a deep breath. IMG_3264

Saturday morning came early – our kids sleep in almost every where – except the beach. They were up and ready to go at 6:30.

We decided we’d all load up for our Krispy Kreme run. DW got a new truck this summer, so he wasn’t too excited about the kids eating donuts in it, so we stopped at the park on our way back and had a breakfast picnic. IMG_3292It was the sweetest – all three kids were in their jammies and even though AB was so worried someone would see her, it was precious knowing they’re all still small enough to do stuff like that.

We still hit the beach before the crowd and had the best day. IMG_3313IMG_3339IMG_3426IMG_3355IMG_3448


My heart was so full watching my little family splash, and laugh and play all morning. There’s never a day that I don’t think about or miss our Cooper, but some days I think more on the “should have” and “would have’s” and that morning I couldn’t help but wonder what life would have been like if he was still here. DW and I had even talked that morning about how his birthday was coming up and neither of us could believe he would be 11 years old this year. I was sitting in my chair watching the girls jump the waves and DW & Tucker playing in the sand and I looked over and out of no where there was a dump truck. It took my breath away. I love sweet reminders and God is so good to give them to me often and when I need them most.



Because it was Saturday, we had the pool to ourselves, too. I went up to lay Tucker down for his nap while DW and the girls swam a little longer. IMG_3455

That night, we tried a new place for dinner. We found it online and they claimed to be Daytona’s best seafood. It was a hole in the wall place, and it was ok, but I don’t ever see us going there again. They had a fan that blew on Tucker the whole time and his hair kept everyone laughing. IMG_3460

We did some shopping after dinner. IMG_3474IMG_3517

The next day we played some more before heading back home. IMG_3549IMG_3531

It’s never fun seeing the summer slip away, but it makes it easier when you can do it together.


Monday, July 25, 2016

Dinosaur World

We needed a fun day trip to do when Garrett was down, and we wanted to do something different. Mom & I thought for days and then I remembered last year when DW and I were in Tampa seeing signs for Dinosaur World. IMG_2772

It was perfect – only a couple hours away, something we’ve never done before, and something geared more toward boys, even though we were sure the girls would love it, too. IMG_2793

We left early and got to the park at opening. IMG_2781

The park itself was so well maintained. IMG_2801There were giant life-size dinosaurs tucked in big green trees, and lots of lush green plants.IMG_2863IMG_2874IMG_2961


Every thing was so clean and well cared for. We enjoyed just being outside walking the concrete trails through the different exhibits. IMG_2930IMG_2903IMG_2911

There were also several hands-on stations throughout the park.

We paid the extra and bought the fossil dig passes. The kids got to dig for fossils and then keep their three favorites. IMG_2820IMG_2811

We watched the fossil excavation demonstration,IMG_2892

and ended the day mining for gems. IMG_2992Gem mining is always a favorite of my girls in the mountains. The bucket we bought at Dinosaur World was loaded with pretty gems. All of the kids brought home a bag full of them. This was definitely the girls’ favorite part. IMG_2979

After a stop in the gift shop, we headed for some lunch and home.

It was a really cute park, and a super fun day. IMG_2776