Friday, May 23, 2008

May 2008: Baby Dedication, Mother's Day, Alyson's 1st Birthday

This month we celebrated Alyson's 1st birthday! Last year she was my little Mother's Day present and now it is hard to believe she is already one. It is amazing how babies grow and change in that short amount of time. Alyson has 6 teeth and is crawling (almost walking), clapping, pointing, mocking words, and is such a happy and outgoing little girl. We have had so much fun with her in this first year of her life and look forward to many more blessed years with her to come!

Baby Dedication at church on Mother's Day

The girls on Mother's Day

Alyson and her Great Grandma Oleta (my grandma)

This is the sunset looking out our back porch the night we had Alyson's birthday party.

This was the night of her actual birthday. The grandparents came over and Julie was the event coordinater. She passed out a party hat to each of us. The guys were good sports and wore them... they even forgot they had them on and wore them outside for a while!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Cruise Vacation 2008

Friday, May 2, Brandon and I drove to New Orleans, LA with Rachel and Jonathan Negley where we boarded the Carnival Fantasy Cruise ship the next day for a 5 day, 5 night cruise. We had a blast... it was definetely a much needed vacation. We sadly left our girls for a whole week, but didn't take long to just lean back, relax and enjoy ourselves. There was lots to see and do, but still somehow managed to get in some extra naps and sleeping in.
The ship had two port stops. The first in Progresso, Mexico, and the next in Cozumel, Mexico (my favorite by far).

This is at a little restaurant that we stopped at on the way called "The Dock" in Louisiana.

About to board the Fantasy!

This is a model of the ship

And we're off! I don't know if you can tell in this picture, but the ship was taking a sharp corner down the Mississippi River, and we were leaning quite a bit!

Inside the ship in the main lobby area. From top to bottom there were 13 floors.

This was Brandon's appetizer the first night... Salmon. The food was wonderful-- almost too pretty to eat!

My main course was Tilapia.

Ok, I am getting hungry just remembering about it...

After dinner we went to a show- there were dancers and a comedian. The guys thought the dancers were cheesy, but coming from a past of High School Pom Squad, I thought they were alot of fun!

And this is what we did about 5 times a day... There was an icecream machine conveniently close to our cabins and the back deck where we spent alot of our time. Rachel and I have finally stopped having icecream withdrawls (sp?)

Rachel reading a book.. Jonathan with his spf 15 and Brandon with his spf 30,laying out in the sun. Poor Brandon hardly got a drop of sun and Jonathan got the darkest of us all! I think I later saw the spf 30 in the trash.

This was the first mistake we made... working out. The second night, which was formal night, we were all feeling a little full from all the food and icecream, so we thought we'd pump a few muscles before we had to put on the suits and dresses. Needless to say, we were a little sore and tired the rest of the night.

There were tons of photographers on the boat always wanting to take your picture. They all had their backdrops set up and ready to snap.

I thought this one turned out good of Rachel and Jonathan with the sunset (that's a real sunset, not a backdrop!

Seafood platter with shrimp and Lobster

Every evening after dinner our stateroom host would always have a towel on the bed folded to look like an animal, sometimes even wearing our sunglasses!

The pool deck at night

We went to a really neat buffet one night that had ice and fruit carvings. Pretty amazing what they can do! This is a Dragon ice carving.

A ship..

A chicken..

Monday morning we arrived in Progresso, Mexico

Wow, if you want to stand out in a crowd, wear a sombrero!

We then took a Mayan Jeep tour. Jonathan drove, and we held on!

Alto = Stop

Mayan Ruins

A Mayan cemetary. Full blood Mayans have a primary color for their grave and part Mayans have a secondary color for their grave. Instead of burying them in the ground they let the body decay first, then put the bones in the hole of the head stone.

A BIG church in a little Mayan town

This is the really pretty resort where we ended our tour, ate lunch and swam in the ocean.

Awww, a puppy...

Cozumel, Mexico

In Cozumel we took a Clear Kayak and Snorkel tour. This was our most favorite part of the whole trip. The water was much prettier there- so clear and torquoise. We saw all kinds of colorful fish and reefs. I could have kept my head under the water all day! Rachel and Jonathan are certified scuba divers, so they got to go on the Scuba diving tour... they said it was awesome... maybe next time we will be certified and get to go with them!

We rode in a clear kayak which you could see through to the bottom.

Rachel caught some silhouette (sp?) pictures of us as we were leaving the Cozumel port.

We played the card game, Presidents, several times. Rachel and Jonathan took turns fighting over 'President', while Brandon and I were just doing good to make it out of the 'Scum' category.

The map of our cruise

A scorpion, crab, seal? I don't know what we decided it was.

Brandon actually tried a squid for lunch one day. To say the least, that was the only one he tried.

The last day of our cruise was all day at sea. Wow, we found out how competitive we all really are. Jonathan won the ping pong tournament...

And I won the golf tournament!! (Brandon is sticking his tounge out at me.. sore loser ;-)

Another beautiful sunset

Escargo (snail) for appetizers! Just a little chewy.

Our dinner party and waitresses, Natalja and Punsuk.

A viper..

We finally made it back home to our precious girls!! Here is our sweet Julie wearing her Mexico souveniers.

I just have to share this.
I think it was about the second day at sea and I was still a little nervous about being away from our girls and being out on the ocean where I automatically think about Titanic and Poseiden. So, one evening I prayed, 'God, please, just give me some peace and comfort from your Word.' So, my bible happened to fall open to Psalm 91. Let me tell you, it was just what I needed to hear. Such comforting words.

vs. 1-4 "He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust. Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart....
vs. 9-12 "If you make the Most High your dwelling- even the Lord, who is my refuge- then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone..."
vs. 14-15 "Because he loves me," says the Lord, "I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he ackowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him."

What a big God we serve. That is a promise right out of His Word! I can say that my mind was at such ease the rest of the trip. "Thank you, Jesus, for being my sheild, my comforter, and friend. Amen"

I enjoyed the time alone with Brandon and the sweet friends that we were able to share the trip with. There is nothing more breathtaking than the ocean and being able to see as far as east to west. God is a big God and taking the time to stop and enjoy His creation was so refreshing.
So now, back to reality and our every day routines. I became spoiled to having my bed made for me everyday and being able to order a 5 course meal every evening. But, I wouldn't trade my life for anything. I am thankful to be back home with my girls where I have dirty diapers to change, laundry to fold, and babies to hold. Now, I enjoy doing those things just a little more than before. God is good and I am thankful for all of His blessings.