Friday, March 29, 2013

Valentines Day 2013

 Better Late than never...

This year valentines day was pretty low key for us. I was so busy with school work that I barely had time to make it to the store to get him some v-day treats. I got a box of gushers and wrote a cute note that started with the words "I've been gushing to tell you..." and left it on the bathroom sink for him to find in the morning. I also poured s'more goldfish into a jar, and attached a note that  said "of all the fish in the sea, I'm glad you chose me." I gave that to him later in the day.... I figured it was best to spread my measly v day offering out.

Mike told me the night before that he would be waking up to make me breakfast in bed on valentines day. I told him I loved the thought but not to waste his time. I had to leave the house by 7am to get to school for my early morning tutoring session. I never eat that early. I asked if he would perhaps bring me Panera Bread to school for my lunch break. I only get 20 - 25ish minutes for lunch so I can never leave campus. I always have to pack something (usually a salad) and it gets old and boring. I was pretty exited about my lunch delivery! He came as promised around lunch time. I introduced my class to Mr. Jenson and they thought that was pretty cool. They only saw him for 5 minutes, but the rest of the day they kept asking where "Mr. Jenson" went. He was a hit, and so was my delicious lunch!

 After work I went to Trader Joes to find a nice FROZEN dinner to warm up. I was to tired to make something from scratch. I decided on an Italian theme and bought a pizza, pesto pasta, boursin cheese, a baguett and of course a small chocolate cake. I started preparing dinner as soon as I got home. I pulled out all our "romantic dinner" tableware and made it look fancier than it was. I left the food on the stove while I went and tried to get Pandora on the TV to play sexy Italian music to set the mood. After eight minutes of annoyance I gave up and put on Kenny G instead. It was at that moment I started to smell an unpleasant aroma coming from the kitchen. My delicious pasta was burnt to a crisp! What!! I NEVER burn food like that, but here I was with a burnt valentines day dinner. Thank goodness I still had the pizza and cheese. I was able to salvage a few bite of the pasta that had not been turned black and put them in a bowl. Mike came home and was pretty impressed, which made me happy since I felt anything but impressive at that point.

We had a nice meal together, very casual nothing fancy, don't let the candle light fool you ;) But it was nice having a meal at home together on a week night. Epps even joined us for dinner.

 After dinner I went and found one of the gifts I gave Mike on our 1st valentines day, which was 5 years ago (2008.) It was a box I decorated. Originally I filled it with hershey hugs and kisses and tiny strips of paper that had mushy love song lyrics on them... but none that mentioned "love," since we weren't say the "L" word at that point. Once the candy was out of the box Mike put in some of the other papers I had given him that night that listed reasons why I like him. We read all of them and laughed, and reminiscence. What great memories. We also remembered we were celebrating the 5 year anniversary of our first kiss, which ended up being the last first kiss we would ever have. Sigh, happy memories!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

March 23, 2013, Day 8, San Juan

All good things must come to an end.  I felt like I was saying goodbye to an old friend.  What a tremendously great and memorable time we had.

By 10:00 AM we were off the ship and taking a taxi to the Conrad Hotel right on the beach.  Kristin found it doing her research.  We shared a room for $315.  The pool and beach were great.  It was a warm, sunny day, so we had one last time in the sun.  I found a hammock in the shade right on the beach!

We sat by the pool, relaxed, got on our phones and IPads, and just enjoyed a slow pace.  By 1 pm we officially checked in, then went to a small Puerto Rican cafe and sat in the back where the windows opened to the ocean which was literally right outside the window!  We had a warm breeze and ocean mist greet us with a view of foaming surf crashing against the coral reef.  It was extremely nice.  More pictures, of course, thanks to Kristin's handy, and ever present camera! The food was excellent and we all smiled over our alcohol free PiƱa Coladas !!!

Back to the beach for more sun, then a quick shower before we took the city bus for $0.75 each to Old San Juan.  We wanted to go to the top of a hill to explore a famous fort, but it was after 5 pm on a Saturday and we felt it was closed.  So we walked the streets, checked out some shops and took more pictures before catching a bus back to the hotel.  By now it was 8 pm and dark and we decided to get a bite to eat at Denny's which across the street from the hotel.  {The food was terrible, never go for connivence over quality.} We were all in bed by 11 pm.  Karen and I would need to leave at4:15 pm and Mike and Kristin would leave an hour later.

As I spent time with Mike and Kristin I was so impressed with each of them.  They are so mature for their young ages, light years ahead of where I was at that age.

Kristin was so pleasant the entire trip.  She has grown into an intelligent, sweet and beautiful woman.  I enjoyed watching her pleasant conversations at dinner.  She is classy and mature.  She has also become very adventurous, which I love, but not without first doing her homework.  I am so proud of her.  She is a good wife and will be an excellent mother.

Mike is also impressive in so many ways.  He is a friendly guy, easy to have conversation with and I noted how well he conversed with the others at dinner as well.  He is smart, but does not broadcast it.  He was very patient with Kristin with the 1500+ pictures she took.  I could tell he was getting a little tired of the many combo shots Kristin wanted, but he was raised well and bit his tongue.  He will be a great dad because of who he is and the role models in his life.

Kristin was the ideal companion for Karen.  She knows Karen well and could calm her anxieties and provide Karen with the perfect "friend" to do things with.  Mike was an ideal match for me as well.  He is relaxed, open to try new things, and like me, enjoyed snorkeling, playing basketball and watching the NCAA basketball tournaments games when we had the chance.  I could not have a better son-in-law!  I could not be prouder of my daughter!

Now, it was really over.   ..... But... I have a feeling this will be one of many future trips we make to the Caribbean.   Stay tuned!


Friday, March 22, 2013

March 22, 2013, Day 6, St. Croix

Today we left early with Big Beard's Excursion to Buck Island.  We were looking forward to snorkeling in this location.  The day was beautiful, sunny, and warm.  The skies were deep blue with white puffy clouds.   The water was the brightest blue I have ever seen and where there was sand on the bottom the water was a clear beautiful turquoise.

Our boat captain took us to one side of the island first to try out our gear and allow the beginners to get some instruction.  The beach and water was extremely beautiful.  The snorkeling was not too good here. {This was the most beautiful island I have ever seen. It was called turtle bay I think. I was mesmerized by the absolute beauty that surrounded us here. I would go back every year if I had the chance.}

When we finally reached the other side of the island one of the guides led us out to the coral reef and the underwater grottos.  The water was 12 -15 feet deep and crystal clear.   The grottos were like separate rooms in the sea divided by mounds of coral which provided excellent cover for all the fish.   I swam with a school of at least 200 beautiful blue fish about 6 inches long.  We spotted several barracuda about 3 feet long.  It was a beautiful spot, but we only had about 45 minutes on our own because we were delayed by nearly 45 minutes getting off the ship.   We were not too impressed with this crew.  We paid $75 each to snorkel and only had 45 minutes of quality snorkeling.  The taxi ride to get there was $16 each to get there and back.

This is the trade off with excursions.  It is costly and you are at their mercy to do what THEY want to do, although they do ensure you will see what you want, except it is on heir terms.   When you are on your own, you take some risk, but do it cheaper and often see just as much for much longer.

After snorkeling we got  ice cream, then took a short ferry ride over to a tropical island, had lunch, and swam a little in the crystal clear water.  We took mental pictures and photo pictures of the beach, palm trees, white sand and clear water to try and capture the paradise-like look to hold in our minds until we could return again, hopefully in the near future.  As we exited the water and walked away from the beach I said a sad "Good Bye" to a part of the earth that was once just imaginary, but now is so beautifully real, I can't imagine not seeing and experiencing it again in the future.

{Remember at the beginning I said my mom was nervous and skeptical about cruising? After we got back from the island we went up to talk to someone about scheduling another cruise for the family in the near future. The whole trip we kept saying how much fun it would be if the whole family was there. I was such a fantastic time and I was so glad to see that my mom enjoyed herself so much. I haven't seen her so relaxed and cheerful in such a long time. It was wonderful! When we parted ways with the men we were shopping on the island and told them we would be back on the ship soon and see them then. We got back on the ship in plenty of time but went straight to talk to someone about the next cruise and not back to our rooms. We lost track of time and arrived back pretty late. When we got back both my dad and Mike we worried we had gotten left behind. After Mike and I's close call yesterday they were nervous we had been left and that was why we were so late. I was surprised that those two would be the type to be so concerned and worried. It was very endearing. }

Our last dinner with our weeklong dinner group was as pleasant as ever (Don & Margaret from Toronto, Ano & Linda from Quebec, Fred & Cathy from Maine).  I had my standard TWO appetizers, Salmon, sourdough roll, and a tasty dessert.  Our waiters, Leonardo from the Philippines, and Stephen from India will be missed.  They were outstanding.  They told jokes, performed magic tricks and always went the extra mile to serve us.

After dinner we caught the tail end of a funny comedy show, then went to the Colony Club and played a music game called something like, "Finish that Lyric". Kristin and I played and I won.  It was pretty fun.

We returned to our rooms and packed our bags; sad the fun week was coming to an end and we were saying goodbye to people, places, and activities we  enjoyed so much. {We sure did make a multitude of cherished memories together.}

{At some point around 11:30pm mom and I remembered we hadn't had any onion rings from the cafe upstairs. They were tasty but not a good choice for my digestive system :)}