Thursday, February 25, 2016

Marshall Family Visits: Hanging At Home

As I mentioned in my previous posts today, I took a bit of a hiatus from the blog.  So it is pretty humorous how far behind I have gotten on our adventures.  Nonetheless, these memories are too good not to document...

Last June our good friends, the Marshall Family, came and stayed with us a couple weeks while they were in-between homes.  We met them while living in the Bay area and after we both moved from California (we moved to Florida and they moved to Cozumel) we stayed in touch.  Over the past couple years we've been able to visit each other a few times.  We especially loved our family vacation when we stayed with them in Cozumel and explored the Riviera Maya!

The Marshall Family finished their adventures in Cozumel around this time last year and packed a few suitcases to take with them to Europe.  After spending a few weeks traveling around several different countries as a family, they flew to Fort Lauderdale to stay with us and plan their next adventures.  Dallas and I LOVED listening about all the places they were able to visit and some of their fun experiences they had.  Personally, I loved having a full home, with kids laughing and playing together in every room (my dream come true!)

The first couple days, while the Marshalls were visiting, were spent with Sean and Heidi car shopping.  They knew they were going to drive across the United States as a family and had several different stops and people to see along the way.  I offered to watch all the kids as they spent the day shopping.

The kids and I had so much fun!
We spent the morning playing dress ups, puzzles, games, and other toys.  Daxton had so much fun with his buddies.  

For lunch we had a picnic in the living room while we watched Disney movies...

After lunch we went on a walk around our neighborhood, looked for lizards, and spent the afternoon swimming...

When Dallas got home from work he joined in on the fun with more movies, games, and dinner.  I love the picture of Abby, Adri, and Penelope sleeping in the bottom right pic.  It was so funny to see them be able to sleep anywhere.

The next day we were able to spend awhile with the girls catching frogs in the back yard...or what we had of a back yard (we have since laid sod and it looks MUCH nicer.)  Daxton had so much fun chasing little frogs around while Abby and Adri carefully showed Daxton and Penelope how to catch and hold them.

Abby and Adri were so cute and patient with the little kids.  They helped put little frogs in their hands, catch them when they jumped away, and even wash their hands after.

As you can tell, Daxton LOVED playing with his buddies!

Girls Cruise to Bahamas: Day Three

Our third, and final full day, on our girls cruise to the Bahamas last spring, was our favorite!  We spent the entire day at Norwegian's private island, Great Stirrup Cay.  The weather was once again gorgeous with sunny clear skies and a pleasant breeze.  We woke that morning, ate another yummy breakfast on the outside deck, and then made our way down to catch the ferry boat over to Great Stirrup Cay.

Looking off the outside deck towards Great Stirrup Cay in the distance.

Catching the ferry boat over to Great Stirrup Cay...

Our first glimpses as we approached Great Stirrup Cay.  They had a large blow up water slide, natural tide pools, white sandy beaches, paddle boards, inner tubes, and other water gear to rent, and a ton of cute shops and restaurants.

Parasailing in the distance and the giant blow up water slide

After the chaos and noise of Nassau, we were ecstatic to set foot on Great Stirrup Cay!  We loved all the pops of color from the different shops and signs.  Wendy needed to find a swim coverup, so we decided to shop first before setting up on the beach.

There were so many fun clothes, bags, and souvenirs to sift through.  There was also a spot for hair braiding.  I thought the signs were pretty funny for that...seriously... $80-$100 for braids!?

After shopping for a little while, we made our way to the beach and found it pretty packed so we took our time exploring the tide pools on our way to the other side of the island.  

The girls found lots of fun little creatures living within the tide pools.  I loved looking out at that gorgeous water!

Views looking out at another Norwegian cruise ship and all the people on paddle boards, kayaks, and floats.

Exploring tide pools...

Where we ended up setting camp...
We knew we were going to be in the water the whole time, so we found a nice rocky wall to rest our bags.  When we went back for water, we found a large curious crab crawling on our bags.  Good thing they were zipped shut!

I was so glad I remembered to bring my GoPro for all the water pictures!  We had SO much fun swimming for hours, goofing off for the camera, and even rented a paddle board to try.

Here are just a FEW of our pictures while swimming at Great Stirrup Cay...

Group shot
Kimberly, Aubrey, Me, and Wendy
Isn't that water to die for??

Goofing off for the camera...
Aubrey and Wendy tried some fun synchronized water moves...

More silly underwater poses...

Just a few of the gorgeous fish we saw.
I was so sad we had all forgotten our snorkel gear!  It would have been awesome to snorkel out in the deeper waters.

We rented a standup paddle board and each took turns riding on it.  Aubrey had had lots of experience on paddle boards from when she lived in the Cayman Islands and Key West.  She even showed off some of her yoga paddle board poses!  Yeah she pretty much rocked it and had others looking on clapping along with us for her different poses.  I still can't get over how gorgeous that water was!

Aubrey's headstand progression...

Wendy's turn on the paddle board.
It was her first time and she did GREAT!

Kimberly rocked it on the paddle board as well!
I gave her the GoPro to snap some pics while she was riding on it and they turned out amazing!

As Kimberly floated by us, she snapped some pics.  I loved the different point of view from the camera.

Easily my favorite shot from our trip!
Kimberly captured this as she floated by.  I love how you can see her shadow on the paddle board so she is still part of the shot.  It took Aubrey, Wendy, and I a few minutes to get into position, but I love how it turned out!

After several hours of shopping, swimming, and paddle boarding, we were finally ready to return to the ship.  We captured just a few more pics as we said goodbye to the gorgeous Great Stirrup Cay.

That night we decided we wanted to dress up fancy for dinner.  It was so much fun all getting ready together!  I don't have any sisters, so it was so much fun experiencing what it would have been like all sharing one mirror and outlet.  We had a blast, with Aubrey curling and braiding each of our hair.  It was so interesting to see how close I felt to each of these girls by day three, especially since I had just barely met Wendy and I hadn't spent too much time with Kimberly before the cruise either.  They are each such amazing women, with some of the most interesting and incredible life experiences.  We truly became great friends on this cruise.

All dolled up, ready for dinner...
We spent that night eating, dancing, exploring the ship, and yes...talking for hours.
The next morning we woke for one more amazing breakfast before debarking Norwegian Sky and returning to reality.  It was such an incredible experience with these girls.  I loved getting to know them better and creating lasting friendships.
It truly was an amazing girls cruise!

Girls Cruise to Bahamas: Day Two

Our second day of adventures, while on our girls cruise last spring, was spent in Nassau, Bahamas.  We woke that morning and chose to eat a yummy breakfast out on the deck so we could enjoy the gorgeous views of the Bahamas.

We couldn't help ourselves from taking a bunch of pictures in front of the Norwegian Sky before exploring Nassau.  Wendy and I thought it was pretty funny that we were matchy matchy for the day!

Looking back at our gorgeous ship...

Right as we got off the ship in Nassau, we were bombarded by all sorts of shops and salesman.  It was a little overwhelming at first, but we had fun looking at all the different jewelry, clothes, and souvenirs as we walked through.

We didn't purchase an excursion, so we thought it'd be fun to rent scooters to explore the island...
It turned out to be quite the adventure to say the least!

Before we could rent the scooters, we had to pass a driving test with one of the locals.  Kimberly had previously owned a scooter and was very comfortable on them.  Aubrey and Wendy, after having spent a few tries on the scooter, both decided they were not comfortable enough to take it out.  I had experience on four wheelers growing up and passed the scooter driving test fine, but I was still pretty nervous about driving one in traffic.  We decided to double up with Kimberly and Aubrey on one and Wendy and I on the other.

Taking out scooter tests...

Holy cow, was it a memorable day!!
It was a very different feeling having someone on the back of the scooter with me.  But the kicker was the crazy Nassau traffic!  It was so unnerving trying to maneuver in and out of stop and go traffic while trying to keep balance on our scooter.  At one point we were going down a tunnel, with speeding cars zipping passed, when we were meant to stop at a stop light on the other end of the tunnel. For some reason I couldn't get the scooter to stop fast enough and ran right into Kimberly!  Luckily we were going super slow at that point, but it still made me even more nervous.  By the time 45 minutes went by, I was a stress case and couldn't take it anymore!  Wendy and I ended up taking our scooter back within the hour and thanking our lucky stars that we were still alive.  Needless to say, driving a scooter around Nassau is NOT something that I would recommend...ever!  We still ended up having a hilarious story from it all with funny pictures to help remember.  Kimberly and Aubrey ended up riding their scooter around the island for another couple hours, while Wendy laid out poolside and I showered off the gasoline smell from my hair and took some relaxation meds to calm me down.  It was quite the experience!
That night we had another awesome dinner, explored the ship some more, and spent hours chatting away.

Girls Cruise to Bahamas: Day One

I've taken a bit of a hiatus from the blog world for the past few months.  Life has been busy and I've found it tricky trying to sit down and actually document all our adventures while there's a very cute and talkative 3year old wanting my attention.  After so many months go by, it's a bit overwhelming looking back at all I need to document.  The normal person would probably just start with the present, but me (and my OCD tendencies) wants to make sure I stay in chronological order.  This might mean that I am forever going to be in a "catch up" mind frame on my blog, but at least things will eventually get documented.  I guess I'll always have instagram for more current adventures!

At the end of last May I was able to take a spur of the moment cruise out of Miami with my friends.  Dallas was such a sweetheart to let me sneak away after a long busy season of just Daxton and myself.  It was a short three day cruise over a weekend, which worked out perfectly with all our crazy schedules and family responsibilities.  

It was so much fun to get to spend such quality time with these great girls, especially since usually when we hang out our kids are in tow and we are all in mommy mode.  It was literally three days straight of uninterrupted great conversations and fun with friends!  I definitely hope that we make this girls cruise an annual tradition!

I picked Aubrey, Wendy, and Kimberly up the morning of our cruise and we all drove down to Miami to board the Norwegian Sky...
Walking through the skybridge tunnel

To get the true girls weekend cruise experience, we all shared a room with three bunks and a pullout couch.  It was a bit tight, but we all had a blast in our close quarters.  We spent the first day exploring the ship and trying to get a feel for where things were located.  We found a fun lounge at the front of the boat we ended up chatting in for hours our second night of the cruise.

We also loved checking out the Miami skyline from the top deck before the Norwegian Sky departed.  It's still amazing to me that we live in such a gorgeous location!

Some of the gorgeous views of the Miami skyline, including North Beach in the top right picture.

Looking out at the road and island connecting Miami to North Beach.

Just some of the beautiful details of the Norwegian Sky.

After the bon voyage party, we made our way to the front of the boat to get our first glimpse of the open ocean.  We had fun chatting as we watch the Miami skyline get further and further out of sight.  As we tried to get pictures, the wind picked up for quite the hilarious photoshoot... 

The clouds were stunning as we entered deeper waters!

Looking back at the Miami and North Beach skylines.

Trying to take a selfie in the wind...
We had at least 50 pics of us goofing off as the wind blew our hair in all directions!

The aftermath of humidity and wind...
We had a wonderful dinner, explored more of the ship at night, caught one of the after dinner shows, and stayed up super late chatting for hours.  It was the perfect first day of our girls cruise!

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