Thursday, January 31, 2008

St. Vincent & The Grenadines

St. Vincent includes quite a few islands, called The Grenadines, and is where much of Pirates of the Caribbean was filmed. We actually almost stayed in the room where Johnny Depp stayed during the filming. (We chose not to because we found that the bed was hard as a rock, which may have been why Depp had a yacht come and pick him up after only 2 days at the resort.) The islands were beautiful. However, we were quite homesick by this time, and pretty much squandered away our three days here. We spent one entire day sailing through the Tobago Cays, which are a group of uninhabited islands and are absolutely amazing. (Remember the part in Pirates of the Caribbean #1, where Jack Sparrow and Elizabeth Swan are stranded on that deserted beach together? That island is one of the Tabago Cays.) Even more amazing than the islands was the amount of rum consumed by our sailing companions, all of which were probably over the age of 75. It was quite the trip. We didn't know senior citizens could be quite so rowdy. As always, they thought we were quite odd for not taking advantage of the free flowing party drinks. Boring old us just stuck to our Sprite. We did find 3 big conch shells to take home, which the girls loved. We also swam with sea turtles in the Cays, which was awesome.

We spent another day in Bequia, a small island which is considered part of St. Vincent. We took a ferry ride there, and despite grand ambitions to do some sight seeing, pretty much spent the day in these chairs people watching and pretty well doing absolutely nothing. At one point one of the locals walked by and said, "Just chillin', yah? That is good, very gooood". We agreed. This is the sunrise from our hotel. I can thank the hard mattress for inspiring me to get up bright and early to enjoy the splendors of nature.
A few pics of our sailing trips in the Tobago Cays. The water and beaches were beautiful.
A look at our party going senior citizen gang. Courtney was most thankful that they were never inspired to try any nudist sunbathing.

Finally, pizza! I have to admit, this was a main point of inspiration to visit Bequia. We had heard they had a great pizza shop, and we were dying to eat something familiar. We opted out of the lobster pizza with anchovies, and settled on the usual - ham, pineapple, & mushrooms. It was heaven. We pushed a little far by asking for root beer though, they looked at us and just laughed. Well, it was worth a try.

It turned out to be a great getaway! We had a blast, but were so glad to get back to real life. We decided that having no purpose in life except for relaxing is just that- there is no purpose! Although it was so fun to get away together and spend time in an amazing place, being completely spoiled, getting back home to the girls was so great. In the few days since we've returned we've had sick kids, cleaned up several potty accidents, and been awakened multiple times each night. Last night our septic tank backed up into our washroom, which is disgusting all by itself and makes it so we won't have water for another day. And so tonight I'm sitting here writing this in a house filled with dirty laundry, full toilets, a kitchen full of dirty dishes. We're all a bit smelly until we can shower tomorrow. But you know what? There's no place like home!

Saying Goodbye to St. Lucia

After 6 wonderful nights in St. Lucia, it was time to say goodbye and head for St. Vincent. I must admit, we were both feeling a little bit ready to go home at this point. I guess being lazy does get old after so long! Actually, I was really missing the girls by now. Courtney was teasing me that I don't get away from them much. He's right! I was about in tears by Sunday. Luckily we had our family video of pictures, which we watched that night and helped ease my homesickness for them.
One last St. Lucian sunset. . .

Seafood Friday

One of the highlights of the trip was definitely Seafood Friday at a little fishing village, Anse Le Raye. On Friday night, we took a water taxi about 25 minutes down the coast. It was the best people watching I've had in a long, long time! The whole street is lined with little booths where families sell all different kinds of seafood. If we were big seafood people, we would have been in heaven. There were huge piles of the biggest lobsters I've ever seen. Also, tons of seafood I've never seen! My stomach was just turning! It was pretty authentic.

Isn't there somewhere I can just get some french fries?
The high point of the night was definitely Kareoke. All of the town people were out, and the rum was flowing. It was pretty serious business! They even had shirts that said "Kareoke Team" on the backs. We had to get a few video clips on our camera. The funniest thing was that they LOVE old country western music. We found out that this is because in the 50's when they didn't have radio in St. Lucia, they could pick up AM radio from the southern states late at night, which played country western, so they grew up on this music. It was so funny, because you look around at all these dread locks and rasta hats, and they are singing Willie Nelson with a Carribean accent. Of course, Bob Marley songs were gospel. Even the oldest people were singing and dancing. We haven't laughed that hard in quite some time! We thought about joining in but decided we were missing 3 key ingredients: rum, dread locks, and a poor knowledge of both Willie Nelson and Bob Marley lyrics. (Whoever thought you'd use both of those names in the same sentence?)

We're so Blessed

It was fascinating to me to drive through the different towns. This is Souffriere, a town about 15 minutes drive from where we stayed. I guess it's the sociologist in me, but I could've sat on bench all day and just watched the people. It definitely felt like we were in another country. We were both overwhelmed with how little they live upon, and how much we have in comparison. Most of the houses were just tiny little shacks. One of the girls at the resort that I got to know told me that she walks 30 minutes every day to get to the main road where the taxi picks her up to bring her to work.

Day 3

We had a lot of fun going Jungle Biking, which took us through an old Sugar Cane Plantation and slave ruins. I totally had to stick to the easy trails, but Courtney tried a few of the harder ones. I wanted to come home in one piece!
A view of the resort where we stayed from the water. Our room was one in the very top building. We got to climb LOTS of steps each time we went to our room. It was nice because the resort was totally secluded and quiet.

We also took a sunset sailing cruise, which was a lot of fun. The wind was great for sailing, and we got pretty wet sitting out on the bow of the boat! I saw some flying fish, which were pretty amazing.

We laughed, because just as the sun was setting in the most beautiful sunset, a cruise ship came in front of us! You can tell it was set to be directly in front of the sunset as it dropped into the ocean. Actually, we did see the sunset, and it was beautiful. We also learned from Kerwin, the captain, that there is an actual "green flash" (I guess they talk about that on Pirates of the Caribbean") when the sun sets. We saw it several different nights, but never could catch it on camera.
The big question on the boat: "If you're on vacation, why aren't you wanting any rum?"

Day 2

We spent plenty of time hanging out at the beach on our trip. (I read 3 books while we were there!) We also did some other fun things too. One of them was going out on the boat with a St. Lucian guy, "Jungle", who took us snorkeling. We were able to see some pretty cool things, including 3 eels, including one Moray. YUCK! I don't like snakes anymore in the water than I do on land.
This is the bay where our hotel is located. There were always a few yachts going by or mooring out in the bay for the day.

We watched the sunset from the infinity pool on the upper floor of our hotel. It was pretty amazing because it looks like it just drops off into the ocean.

I think we were in bed asleep by 10:00 or so every night. I don't think we've had that many nights in a row of uninterrupted sleep for well, lets see. . . .. about 7 and 1/2 years.

Was This A Dream?

I can't believe we've been married 10 years! To celebrate, Courtney and I were able to take an incredible trip to the Caribbean. We stayed in St. Lucia for 6 nights, and then went to St. Vincent for 3 nights. It was absolutely beautiful! We felt like we were in a dream the whole time. But, since our pictures match the memories in our minds, I guess it must have really happened!
We left January 14th, and spent all day getting to St. Lucia. When we finally got in at almost midnight, it was so fun to step off the plane and smell the tropical air. It was so warm and brought back so many memories of when I lived in Hawaii. We had found a great deal on a all-inclusive resort in a secluded area in St. Lucia, and so we had about an hour and half taxi ride to get there. This was interesting! The roads there are crazy! Very steep and windy- almost every corner had a 15% grade sign, along with another sign that said "Hairpin turn". The steering wheel is on the opposite side of the van, and they drive on the opposite side of the road. Except when they feel like moving to the other side, which seemed like quite often! We finally asked the taxi driver if there are a lot of driving laws (it didn't feel like it to us!), and he said that the sheriff pretty well leaves them alone unless they cause an accident. That's comforting, eh? We finally made it to the resort, although a bit carsick! We felt like we'd just been on an exciting ride at Disneyland!
When we got there, we found out we'd been upgraded to this very fancy, exclusive resort. (Very out of our budget!) We couldn't believe our luck! They had a personal "room attendant" waiting for us, who totally took care of our luggage and never allowed us to lift a finger. Anyway, this is pretty well where the "Am I in a dream?" feelings began to set in. . . .
This is what we woke up to the next morning! This picture was taken from our room. This is the actual view from our bed. Our room (they call them "sanctuaries") was almost 900 square feet, and was actually missing the 4th wall, so the entire length of our room was open to the ocean and Piton mountains. It was incredible. Birds actually flew in and out of our room! Although they would bring us anything we wanted to our room, we did manage to drag ourselves to the beach everyday. As you can see, it was pure torture!
We had a beach attendant who would spread our towels out for us. Once we were settled, we had a yellow flag that we could stick into the sand in case we needed a drink, food, or milk shake. Sometimes they even brought us mint towels to refresh with, and sprayed us down with a mint mist. The beach attendant called this "spraying happiness".
This picture is of us at our candlelight dinner on the beach. Seriously, is this trip for real?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Snow Much Fun!

Yesterday we took the girls (ours + Nate & Shelly's) tubing at Jack Rabbit Hill. We have finally been blessed with some real live snow, so we decided we'd better take advantage while it lasts!
It was a pretty fun time.
Grandma & Grandpa Jones came to watch- Grandpa Jones even took a few turns! As you can see, it was a pretty wild bunch. The hill pretty much cleared out when we arrived. It was obvious to all the other's (riding mere saucers) that they'd better not mess with this group.
Lauren and Megan hitting the slopes.
Courtney, Emmy, and Megan. (They were the craziest tubers, by a long shot.)
Ryenne and Lauren - "double-tubing".
"Get out of my way!" Kate's on her way down!

Voted Most Likely to Win an Academy Award

For months now, Kate has been convinced that she does not sleep at night. At all. Each night when it is time to go to bed, she complains that it all she does it lay there awake all night anyway, so what's the rush? This is funny to us because Kate has always been our best sleeper, hands down. The other night Courtney caught her in action so he could show her that she really does fall asleep at night. When we showed her this picture, she laughed and said, "Oh, when I look that, I'm only just pretending!" We thought she did a really great job at pretending. Who knows, with a talent like that, she may be on the big screen someday.

Will Sleep for Blessings

As we talked about New Year's resolutions, Courtney and I decided we needed to work on our family scripture study. We ussually attempt to do it at night, but it seems like there is always something that comes up, one or all of us is grouchy, or it just gets plain wild! Anyway, we have realized that as much as we hate to do it, we should probably get everyone up in the mornings. After all, we need all the blessings we can get! So we decided that for this year, our focus as a family will be scripture study. Here is a look at our 6:30 am attempts. Do you think we still get blessings if 2/3 of us are partially asleep? We're hoping so. In all actuality, it is a little painful to wake up the girls when they are so peaceful. But we have to admit, scripture reading is MUCH more quiet. . . and we don't have to chase them around the family room anymore! We'll have to see how it goes.

New Years in Island Park

We were so excited to go spend New Years' weekend in Island Park, Idaho with our friends! Jason and Trica Hurd invited us and some other friends from high school to their beautiful cabin. We all had a ball! The girls loved seeing so much snow- it was absolutely beautiful! And to top it off, they had 5 other girls to play with all weekend.
We had a great time playing in the snow. The girls even got to go for rides with Lexi on her little snowmobile- and managed to get stuck in a snowbank a time or two! We also did plenty of eating, and of course, chatting about the good old days. We decided we are getting old, because we actually rang in the new year reliving 1994. Unfortunately, Mom was a slacker picture taker and never really got any great pictures of all the action.
Here we are, all loaded up for the ride home. The girls were so sad to go, they even shed a few tears when it was time to head back for home. I was glad to hear Kate's comment though, when we walked back into our house after arriving home after the weekend. She sighed and exlaimed, "There's no place like home!" She's right. I guess sometimes a little getaway is a good reminder about how nice it feels to come home.

Friday, January 4, 2008

A Perfect End to a Terrific Day!

Christmas afternoon we headed to Grandpa Lloyds for a fun visit, more presents,
and then to Grandma Jones for another great evening with the cousins.

The girls have so much fun with the cousins. As you can see, we aren't the only family with a flare for girls! The boys are quite outnumbered!
Emmy keeping Grandma-Great company.
Who are those kid's parents?

(We finally headed home about midnight! When Emmy crashes all by herself, you know she's had a big day!)

Our favorite Christmas present!

Our favorite Christmas gift definitely had to be Courtney's! He had to show off his new "Baby Patriot" gear. Yip, that's right! He'll have another buddy to watch the Patriots play next season! The girls are so excited, and so are we!

Christmas at Last!

We had a wonderful Christmas! The girls were so much fun and make Christmas so magical! They loved getting presents for eachother from the dollar store and wrapping them. Ryenne was a great secret keeper this year, and hid her presents away very carefully until Christmas morning. Emmy, on the other hand, couldn't wait and gave everyone their gifts almost as soon as she bought them! The girls had also worked hard in craft class to make everyone a little gift or note. Those things are always my favorite gifts!
Emmy was excited to get a doll "with hair" this year.
She can now join her sister-stylists at the doll salon!

Courtney surprised me with black dress boots. (I'd been eyeing up Santa's black boots for the past few months).

Kate LOVES her new black boots too, which, as requested, are complete with heels. As our official "Highway princess" (Harley girl), Kate now looks the part. She can't wait to give them a spin on Grandpa's Harley-Davidson this summer.

Kate couldn't believe what a great job the elves did in making her boots. She commented, "those elves really are amazing". Oh yes, they are.

We couldn't believe how grown-up Ryenne looked! She is thrilled with her new glasses and scarf! She looks quite sassy!