Tuesday, July 5, 2016

The 4th

I love the 4th of July. I mean I really love any holiday, but the 4th of July is just the perfect epitome of summer. It's barbecues and country music and pool parties and watermelon and fireworks and friends and family and red white and blue and some serious gratitude and pride for our free country. I love it all, but sometimes it's a holiday that comes and goes in a flash and some years I find that I really didn't do much of anything exciting to celebrate, which is lame! This year was great though. Both hubs and I had a long work-free weekend which meant we got to spend Friday and Saturday nights with friends and then join his family for some Independence Day fun. 

Crazy amounts of bread + red, white, and blue. What could be more American?

It scares to me to death to light fireworks. I did it anyway and I didn't die! 

The master firework lighter

This dog was the softest thing ever. I WANT ONE.

Matt and his dad made some divinely delicious ribs for us. Sooo gooood.

Thank you summer for giving me freckles!

His freckle game is still so much stronger than mine though.

Swimming and Rummikub

I am so grateful to live in the United States of America. Even though it seems to be a pretty scary place these days in so many ways, I'm thankful for the liberties that we enjoy because of the hard work of those who have come before us and also those who are continually protecting us. I feel so lucky to be able to make my own choices about where I live and what career to have and who I'm married to and when to have kids and how many of them to have and to believe and worship as I choose. I think I often take all that jazz for granted, but it really is pretty amazing. It's a blessed life we live here. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Over The Moon With My Honey

Unfortunately, when you to get married mid-semester with busy jobs and a grueling school schedule, a nice long honeymoon to celebrate just isn't part of the plan. Such was the case for Matt and I. After we were married last February we spent two nights in some ridiculously awesome hotels before being forced to reface reality all too soon. With thoughts of a future belated honeymoon in mind, we started saving our pennies. Well a couple of weeks ago we used those pennies on a cruise to the Western Caribbean! It was eight days and seven nights of heaven.
We loved every minute.
We miss it very much.
We want to go back.

Saturday - McKinney
Our ship wasn't scheduled to leave out of Galveston until Sunday, but due to flight schedules and not wanting to pay for a hotel, we jump-started our trip a day early by flying to Dallas on Saturday afternoon to spend 18 precious hours with my sister and her family. It was torture to only have one evening with them. A tiny part of me wanted to stay and spend our whole week there, while a huge part of me was once again reminded that I just need to be living in Texas. Honestly, landing at the Dallas airport and pulling up to my sister's house feels a lot like coming home. McKinney, i'm coming for you. I don't know how and I don't know when, but I know that eventually its supposed to happen on a more permanent basis. Highlights: playing foursquare with the kids, eating delicious homemade pizza, and some much needed sister time.

Sunday - Galveston
Sunday morning we kissed those cute kiddos goodbye and bid farewell to our future hometown. After a short flight to Houston we boarded our shuttle bus to Galveston with feelings of gratitude that the previous week's flooding was no longer a problem and didn't affect our travels in any way. The weather was a bit iffy, but a spot of rain couldn't dampen our excitement for the week ahead! As we boarded the ship I was reminded of how overwhelming a cruise ship is at first. Its so massive! And there are so many people! How are we supposed to remember where anything is?! After an emergency drill, seeing our room, and a self guided tour around the whole ship we quickly settled in to our new home for the week and waved buh-bye to America as we headed out to the open ocean. Highlights: not being the person who fainted during the emergency drill, and relearning how to play shuffleboard.

14 floors on this floating city!

*all the heart eyes*

Monday at Sea
What a glorious feeling it was to wake up next to my honey on Monday morning with gently rocking waves, no alarm clock, and not a care in the world. Nowhere to be and all the time in the world to get there! We spent the day lounging on the deck and stuffing face at the buffet. So far, so good. Highlights: karaoke night, nature's beautiful night lightning show, and not getting a sunburn.

Dear Windjammer Cafe: I miss you and your bran muffins and tater tots and chocolate milk for breakfast. Love, Jannette.

A quick elevator selfie on our way to watch a bunch of drunk people belt it at karaoke.

Oh you know, just watchin' a movie from a beach chair in the middle of the ocean. NBD.

Tuesday - Cozumel, Mexico
On Tuesday we woke up to find ourselves in Mexico. Just like magic! After some quick souvenir shopping at the port we hailed a taxi and headed to a hotel beach resort to spend another rough day laying in the sun with books in hand, but this time with soft white sand between our toes. We liked this "excursion" but wouldn't necessarily do it again since we didn't actually DO all that much. And if you ask me, port days are for adventures while sea days are reserved for blissful laziness. Highlights: gigantic iguanas, bottomless virgin cocktails, coconut mango ice cream, and pretty beach views.

I spy 1, 2, 3 lounging iguanas!

I accidentally named this Grand Cayman but it is actually our beach in Cozumel

Mango + coconut swirl icream = best ever.

Star wars from the hot tub :)

Wednesday - Georgetown, Grand Cayman
Having been to Grand Cayman before, I already knew it to be one of earth's most magical places. Our excursion was to Stingray City, a big sandbar with perfectly warm clear blue water and stingrays who want to smooch you if you've got food for them... heh, that sounds familiar. On this day trip were lucky enough to meet and get to know an awesome couple, Bethany and James. It took us no time at all to figure out we all had a lot in common... Turns out BYU grads are quick to find each other on vacations like this :) We discovered them to be fellow card lovers, and we made plans to meet up with them later on the ship to play some games. Highlights: I renewed my seven years of good luck by kissing a big gorgeous stingray, meanwhile Matty was bit by one... our excursion guide says he gets a whole 10 years of luck for that one! Also the awesome boat ride out to the sandbar, making cool friends, and watching The Martian in 3D at the boat's movie theater. Unfortunately, not getting a sunburn could not be included as a highlight of this day. Ouch.

We got to stop and snorkel for a bit before heading to Stingray City. Snorkeling really isn't my favorite thing ever since the whole breathing under water things freaks me out a bit, but this was still fun!


This is place was highly recommended to us, and we intend to go back for lunch someday.

Can anyone tell me what this is supposed to be?!

Thursday - Falmouth, Jamaica
Ahh Jamaica - the land of gorgeous beaches, happy people, and ferociously overenthusiastic street vendors who trick you into buying their stuff. We were taught that in Jamaica there are "no problems, only situations." I can't tell you how many times we heard/said "ya mon no problem!" on this day, and I loved it every time. Once again we were joined on our excursion by a super fun young couple, Bryan and Madison, who were fellow BYU grads/previous Utah dwellers. AND we learned that on their Cozumel excursion they had met James and Bethany! I mean come on, what are the chances?! We Mormons have such a small world, and we certainly find each other wherever we go. We were very happy when they accepted our invitation to join in playing cards as a group later that evening. But anyway, our adventure for the day took us to Ocho Rios which is known for its beautiful Dunns River Falls, a waterfall just asking to be climbed and played in. While it is definitely a very busy and touristy attraction, the guides make it a super engaging and enjoyable experience. We were splashed and instructed to chant "NO WET, NO FUN!" Well we did get wet, and it was very fun. Highlights: putting our new chacos to good use, eating legit jerk chicken, holding hands while falling backwards into a waterfall pool, and making more cool friends.

Oooh baby, check out dat sunburn. 

This was the place we most expected to get Zika virus and die, but we never saw a single mosquito our whole trip!

Jerk chicken from a popular local restaurant.

Some roadside sugar cane snackage.

Friday at Sea
After three busy days on and off the ship, it was nice to relax for a day while surrounded by open ocean once again. We made sure to experience a lot of the cool things offered around the ship. We rode the awesome water slides, hit every pool, ate lunch at Johnny Rocket's, and soaked up the Caribbean sunshine while we read our books and napped on the pool deck. Highlights: racing down the water slides and playing card games with our new friends.

I really just love him. He's got all the smooth moves.

Saturday at Sea
This is the day I started to feel that end-of-vacation dread. I know you know the feeling i'm talking about. We still had a whole day left to enjoy, but the inevitable end was near. We were forced to start planning/thinking about packing and organizing all our travel plans back to Utah. I did my very best not to be too sad and to enjoy every last minute. We met up yet again with James and Bethany and Madison and Bryan to play card games and talk, and it was seriously so fun. We all got along great and really hit it off. We did even more together on this last day - watched James dominate the rock climbing competition, went to the ice skating show, and late night hot tubbing. This makes me sound like a terrible person, but it isn't very often that I meet new people who I really genuinely like and could see myself becoming good friends with. But all these folks were so awesome, and its such a bummer that none of them live in Utah anymore. We now exist in the land of Facebook friendship, and maybe someday we will reunite as cruise buddies once again :) Highlights: discovering we still had $60 credit to use on the ship and blowing it on candy and random souvenirs. No regrets.

Can you even believe this is on a boat?

We had to Titanic it, obviously.

A TERRIBLE pic of some AWESOME people. I miss y'all.

Sunday - Homebound
We were back on land in Galveston when we woke up. Boo. Our flight out of Houston was leaving pretty early, so after a quick breakfast we grabbed our gear, debarked, and payed way too much for a cab to the airport. Highlights: being tan, learning that debarked is a word, and climbing into bed the minute we arrived home to watch movies and binge eat all our candy that we bought the night before.

This belated honeymoon of ours was my second cruise (I did the exact same one with my sister and parents when I was in high school) and Matt's first. I just think cruising is such a great way to travel. You get to wake up in a new place every day without all the stress of figuring out how to get there. There is entertainment everywhere you look 24/7. The food is endless and exciting! The service is great - room attendants and waiters and cruise workers everywhere ready to help you with anything you might need. I just hope I convinced Matt that cruising is the way to go so that there will be many more of them in our future!

Coming home and back to non-honeymoon life has been tough. We have to go back to work and make money?! We have to be responsible and go to bed at a good time and have alarms set for the morning?! WE HAVE TO MAKE AND SERVE OUR OWN FOOD... AND PAY FOR IT?!? We have to do dishes and laundry and make our own bed?! We have to wake up in the SAME place every day?! It is hard to go from being spoiled and pampered to having real responsibilities every day. But I am so happy that I get to be married to my handsome hubby forever and enjoy life's everyday adventures with him, so happy that we got to celebrate our 15 months of marriage with this belated honeymoon, and so happy that there our future surely holds many more vacations like this one.