Thursday, March 31, 2011

Dominica (Day 3)

We woke up early and had breakfast on our balcony. I have to admit when I pulled the curtains that morning I was taken aback by the view. I had know idea Dominica would be so lush and green. Much of the island is a rainforest and the beaches are so picturesque they taped much of Pirates of Caribbean: Dean Man's Chest (2) here. We signed up for an "adventure course" excursion here. So we got of the ship and onto a little bus that took us about 45 min into the rainforest.

The course was up in the trees and a lot of fun. We would balance ourselves on logs, tight ropes, nets and other fun things. There was this one part where you could chose to do the hard or easy course. Mike was in front of me and he chose hard. So naturally, not to be out done by husband, I opted for the same. They said you needed to have good upper-body strength. I was a little nervous. Although I really had been lifting weights at the gym most of my strength is in my "thunder thighs." The hard part was called that "Tarzan jump" You swing on a rope and head for a giant net. You have to catch hold of the net your first or second try or else you won't have enough momentum to catch hold of it. The only bad thing is that your second time around you catch hold of the net much lower and have to pull/clim yourself up. Keep in mind this rope is not hard and secure like a ladder. It is wobbly and lose. Only a little easier than climbing that rope in gym class. Anyways I watched Mike go and he caught hold on his first turn making it look easy. Then I go telling myself I could do it. Then they strap this rope to me.... it seriously weighed 20 lbs. So now I have to catch my body weight plus this rope! I was freaking out... I was scared to take this "leap of faith" and go swinging into the trees. The things we do for love. (I swear I felt like I was on the Bachelor the whole time.) Mike recorded the whole thing.... for prosperity's sake. I basically get pushed off swing to the net... grab on... but it all happened to fast my hands slipped and i didn't catch it. So I swing back yelling in frustration and disappointment. As I start swinging back to the net I brace myself for impact and know this time I much hold on for dear life. Thankfully love was on my side. I caught hold of the net and began my climb to the top. It was actually very difficult. My arms were shaking I was so tired. The guy stationed there told me that my eyes were changing colors. My determination set of the dark blue pigment... he was a local with dark eyes so naturally he loved my pretty blues. lol. When I finally reached the top I was happy to zip line away from the net of doom, but felt very accomplished. The good news was Mike was proud of me for not taking the easy way out and I got the rose on that date ;-) After we finished the course (over an hour later) we were given fresh fruits from the island. I got to try fresh coconut and some other things we don't have in the states.

Once the bus took us back to the dock we started to scout out what else we could do on the island for cheap. The taxis all said they could take us anywhere but for $20 a person... LAME! So we went back to the ship for lunch and to think about what we wanted to do next. We decided to get off the ship and look at the stands the locals had set up. We found a magnet (we collect them) for the island we like and also new rings. Mine is dark pink, thin and made out of glass. I wore it the rest of the trip as my wedding ring so my real one wouldn't get lost or damaged. Mikes however replaced the ring he's been wearing for a while and hating. (I really miss the ring we lost on our great adventure down the Timpanogos glacier.) His is made out of volcanic rock. It is actually pretty nice a shinny, metallic, black that doesn't scratch and is light weight. He loves it and we paid... $3 for it! SCORE!

We also learned that Mike can't look at people who are trying to get money from him. He gives in. He gave some money to a man with only one arm simply because the guy asked for it. He really does have a soft heart and I love that about him!

After shopping we were headed back to the ship when we got stopped by the taxi drivers. They really wanted up to go on an island tour with them. I told them we would love to but we had already spend a lot of money and we only have $20 left with us. Luckily I know how to work it. So, two for the price of one, we got to tour the island. It was a lot of fun to see the heart of the island and the people that lived there. Our driver told us that he was the father to something like 12 kids and his father had over 40 children (with a ton of "wives".) I guess they really like to sleep around there. He took us to the Botanical Gardens which is like a park and told us how the kids go there to "make love." That no one says anything about it because that is just what they expect. We were in shock. Luckily the couples we saw we only making out... We got to see some beautiful waterfalls and hot springs. It was just cool riding through the island and seeing it like a local vs a tourist. We had a lot of fun.

Than night we had dinner with the Naylors then went to go see this Hypnotist show. It was pretty cool. I'd never seen one before but it was totally legit. There was a brother and sister (18 and 19 I'm guessing) that volunteered and were up on the stage together. They were both very relaxes and receptive to the process. At one point he told them all that when they woke up they would realize they were naked in front of this whole room of people... when they woke up almost everyone was embarrassed but the sister. She leaned back in her chair, put her hands behind her head and spread out for all to see (luckily she was fully clothed.) Later on he had the brother thinking he was delivering a child and took him through the labor/delivery process of a child and his sister was the nurse. Holy cow was it funny to watch. He was screaming and yelling and really thought he was having a 10 lb. baby. Anyways it was a great show. After the show we changed into our PJ's and watched the movie "Red" for the movies under the stars. I was so tired that I feel asleep halfway through it. It is a lot of work being on vacation in a beautiful place.

Mike woke me up and took me to bed. But he didn't stay home. He and Ryan went to the casino to play black jack. (NOTE: He does not do this but while on vacation and he gets very little money to start out with and if he loses this money he is done. It is not an addiction, nothing to call the 1st presidency for.) Anyways he comes in at 2:30 in the morning and it kind of scared me because I feel asleep with the lights on and wasn't sure it it was morning and we missed something. Anyways he just starts laying down $100 bills in front of me. He made a little over $400 in one night. Crazy!

St. Thomas (Day 2)

I wish I had the words to describe the way it feels to open the door to your balcony and see the beautiful water and landscape of St. Thomas. Not to mention seeing the sunshine and having in beat on your face. There is something so rejuvenating and refreshing about getting away the middle of winter (especially THIS winter!) We woke up in the best of moods on Monday and it didn't even mater that we had to get up at 7:30 to catch our excursion on time.
Our excursion in St. Thomas was pretty fun and a little different. We boarded a boat with about 40 people and rode about 40 min to what they said was one of the best spots in St. Thomas. When we arrived at our location Mike and I snorkeled for about 20 min. We had fun taking pictures of each other and the fish we saw. The water was so much warmer than I imagined, which was good because I don't do cold water.

After we snorkeled it was our turn to try the underwater scooter. It was pretty interesting how it worked. The helmet was filled with regular air and then had oxygen pumped into it. This keep your ears from popping to much and allowed you to breath normally underwater. Mike had a bad experience scuba diving years ago and was worried his ears wouldn't be able to handle any deep diving so this was perfect. I have to say I was a little frustrated when it came to driving the scooters. For some reason I couldn't figure out how to drive the stinkin' thing! So here I am spinning in circles 20 ft underwater trying to snap picture of the fish when I get a free chance. Not to mention I was about 15 ft behind Mike and the rest of the group. I think the scuba divers helping us got a good laugh out of my predicament. So for me the experience was unfortunately very stressful. And NONE of my pictures turned out very well. However, Mike who easily navigated his scooter and was not trying to take quality pictures LOVED it! So that made it all worth it. After we finished in the water we went up to the top deck of the boat and laid in the sun and listen to our iPods. I was glad I had found some good books on tape to keep me occupied during my down time. However, since I was so relaxed when I listened to my iPod I ALWAYS feel asleep and took a cat nap. So I still haven't finished my book!
After our excursion took us back to land we decided we were ready for lunch. We loved being able to easily re-board the cruise ship so easily for lunch. We would go to the cute cafe in the Piazza and have a grilled pesto, tomato and fresh motz sandwich with a warm chocolate chip cookie and ice cold water :) Seriously we enjoyed the food on this trip was to much and the scale will prove it! After our lunch break we went back to the island to look around. We found a cute market that sold hand made trinkets from the locals. Thankfully Mike and I both dislike nick-knacks so we don't buy stuff, get it home and then wonder what we bought it for. We do however buy magnets. We also saw some of the wildlife. I LOVED seeing the bright colors of the lizards and the Iguana sunbathing. I will admit the side of the island we were on wasn't the beautiful beaches that you see in pictures. None the less it was still beautiful and we hated to leave.
That night was a formal night so we dressed up in our nicest attire and headed down to dinner. We loved having dinner and spending the evening with the Naylors. After dinner Brooke and I went and played Yatzee (like 2 old women) in a lounge while the guys played black jack. Mike and Ryan met us a little later to watch the comedy show. It was the same comedian that we loved so much on our last cruise. It was a lot of the same material but still very funny. After the show we went and changed into our PJ's and met up on the top deck. The ship has "Movie Under The Stars" every night. They put cushions on the pool chairs and handed out blankets. Then they came around with popcorn, pizza, cookies AND milk. Seriously! Heaven! We watched "The Next Three Days" which was actually and incredibly good movie. It was a great night, but we payed for it the next morning when we had to get up at 7:00.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Day 1: Embarkation

First I want to give a big, public "Thank You" to Nikki and McKay Dunn who picked us up at 4:00 am on DAYLIGHT Saving Sunday (so really 3am.) It was an early morning and we have them to thank.

We flew direct from JFK to San Juan, PR. We also flew Jet Blue so there wasn't a lot to complain about there. We were on the ship and ready to party by 12:30!
We went right to our room and admired our balcony and the beautiful blue water. We explored the ship for a while then had lunch. We actually sat with an older couple that was from CT as well. This was there 25th cruise with Princess. They have been all over the world and has a lot of fun stories to share. After lunch we went straight to the spa to sign up for the thermal suite. Best money spent all week!

We had a wonderful dinner (as they always were.) Then met up with our friends Ryan and Brooke. I have to say having friends on this trip made it ridiculously more fun! We went to a raffle and mine was the first name drawn. I won 30 min of free internet which I was pretty dang excited about! Then we hung out in the hot tube while the sail off party was going on. It was a great first day and made us even more anxious for the rest of the trip!

(Also a special thank you to Lindsey Stokes for helping me figure out how to make these picture collages.)

Thursday, March 24, 2011


I know that I just got back from a cruise so I have tons of pictures and stories to share. But I'm still in vacation mode. I don't want to do anything productive. Which is fine since I am still on vacation. However, I'm a little worried that this lackadaisical attitude of mine won't go away in a few days when I'm back to the daily grind. The good news is there is less than 3 months left of school :) YAY!

I have really enjoyed my reunion with this guy. It is like he never left. He is rocking the fohawk and no shaving look, so obviously he is enjoying being home with no rules about grooming ;-) I have been able to hang out a lot with him during the day when everyone is at school and work. I love having some time to myself. So glad he is home, but weird to think my little brother is an RM. Like he could get married whenever he wants... CrAzY.
Since being home I have also enjoyed making dinner for my family. I made my signature chicken dish on my moms birthday and EVERYONE loved it. That is saying a lot for my hard to please brothers and sisters. Last night I made a dish that I tried to recreate from the cruise. Of course it wasn't quite as good but again it went over well. Especially for being a pasta dish. Everyone in my family hates pasta. But my kick but homemade pesto linguine with green beans potatoes and seasoned baked tomatoes went over really well.
As I mentioned it was my moms birthday and I picked out this lovely Dairy Queen ice cream cake.
It has also been nice spending time with my mom. As I mentioned we celebrated her 50th birthday on Monday night. It was so fun to have all the kids, my parents and grandparents together for dinner. It was just like a Sunday dinner years ago! On Saturday I am throwing her a little birthday party!
QUESTION: I want to make a collage of my pictures from the cruise so I don't overwhelm anyone. I know a lot of you use collages on your blogs, what programs do you use? I need some help here!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Gettin' Out of Town!

After being so good about writing for over a month I've seriously been slacking these past 2 weeks. I need to catch up a little before I leave on my two week vacation (one perk of working at my school is we get 2 weeks off in March.)

In the past few weeks:

-I had a girls night at my house for some of the girls in my ward. This night really deserves its own post but I don't have time for that. About 15-20 girls came and we had a chocolate fondue pot and lots of yummy dippers. Not to mention dips, chips and a verity of girls night comfort foods. Although I have couches and such we all ended up sitting on the floor in circles and chatting. It was much needed as this winter has kept a lot of us indoors and a night out with the girls was just what the doctor ordered for our winter blues! I'm so lucky to have so many great women (and many others who couldn't make it) to call friends.

-On Valentines day my lovey snuck to my school and decorated my car with hearts and cute posters. The ladies I work with were very impressed and I felt super special! What a thoughtful hubby I have. I sure love him!

- I saw the Justin Bieber movie and bought 3 of his CD's. I love that talented 17 year old.

- Got my visiting teaching done before the last week of the month. That is seriously something that needs to be documented.

-Went to a youth fireside with Elder Anderson from the quorum of the 12. It was wonderful to be in such a personal setting with one of the Lords servants. It got me excited for General Conference. He spoke on how the Iron rod is like a braid of 3 parts; the scriptures, words of the living prophets and the Holy Ghost. It reminded me how important the conference issues of the Ensign are. Since we want to finish the Book of Mormon in our family scripture study we decided to use the talks in the conference issue for out FHE lesson each monday. I even printed out a talk to take on vacation with us so we won't miss out on the blessing of FHE. Hopefully we remember to do it!

-MY BROTHER CAME HOME FROM HIS MISSION! I haven't got to have a good conversation with him yet since he has only been home 2 days and the whole town is trying to hang out with him basically. I was sad to not be at the airport when got home but am glad I am waiting to see him till next week. I figure by then he will have time to spend with me and his friends will be back at college.

-I am watching the news right now. The top three stories are heart breaking. The Earthquake, Tsunami, and nuclear power plant explosion in Japan is almost to much to take. I wish I could do more than pray for them. The major flooding in New Jersey that is devastation so many homes and towns. Then there is a major tour bus accident about 15 miles away from us on the I-95. Thirteen people are dead and many others in critical condition. So sad! The last verse of follow the prophets is running through my head "Now we have a world were people are confuses. If you don't believe it go and watch the news. We can get direction all along the way if we hear the Prophets, follow what they say." Now I am not saying that "The End" is near but I think of all these natural disasters that we have seen increase and intensify over that past 10 years. I can't help but think that the Earth is preparing for the return of its Maker. Or that the Lord is preparing and humbling the people for His Second Coming.

-I LEAVE IN T - 20 hours for my cruise!! I can't wait!! My bag are packed and I'm ready to go. I've been doing laundry for about 3 days. Today I have a huge list of things today. Mostly cleaning. When I know I am leaving for vacation I HAVE to leave my house spotless. I hate coming home to a dirty house. It just slows down the unpacking progress. The sheets and blankets are in the wash and then one more small load and I'M DONE! I found 2 cute bating suits at Marshals yesterday and only $15 a piece. I can defiantly pay that! My ipod is almost full with books on cd, episodes of Psych and Justin Bieber music. It will entertain me while I lay on the hot stone bed in the thermal spa on the ship! I do have to admit I'm not a lay on the beach all day person. I am too much of a busy body to do that. I don't think we'll be laying on the beach to much but have some great excursions planed! I will be sure to post all about it when I get back! I CAN NOT WAIT!