Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Thankful in Atlanta

I love the movie Sleepless in Seattle. I haven't seen it in forever, but I think I need to rectify that soon. Anyhow, if I was calling in to a radio show right now, I'd be calling myself, "Thankful in Atlanta". For two reasons - one, I'm currently in Atlanta (I know... it's impossible to keep up with our geographic location); two, I have so much to be thankful for.

As we have been getting ready to fly to South Africa tomorrow, I was thinking that I needed to post another blog before we go. Then, I saw my friend Charley's post on being thankful, and decided that was perfect. After all, we really could all use to spend some time verbalizing (or at least writing down) the things we're thankful for. We shouldn't limit it to a holiday!

With that said, here's a list of some of the things that I'm grateful for this week:

-The hospitality of Tommy, Deborah, Lara and Daniel who have been taking great care of us and letting us bum around their house here in Atlanta. We've been having an AMAZING time!
-The opportunity to have five months of "vacation", and our amazing families for helping us make the most of our time!
-Two round-trip tickets to Cape Town, South Africa!
-Great conversations with Mom, Kelli and Solange.
-Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University. It has changed our financial lives, and strengthened our marriage. Go check it out!
-A husband who loves me no matter what, and who thinks I'm beautiful (inside and out) when I feel like I'm at my ugliest.

We'll be in Cape Town South Africa at Bridges of Hope through the end of the month. If I can blog, I will, but if I don't get a chance, rest assured that I WILL be taking photos on this journey, and expect some posts that I'm super excited about when we return!

Lara and I watch the boys having redneck moments from the back of Daniel's truck!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Cruisin' 2012!

We're back from our New Year's cruise! Aside from some serious rain in Roatan, the weather was beautiful and we ALL had a really great time!

We were off celebrating Jason's Aunt Irene's 80th birthday, and it was truly a family affair! There were ten of us who went, so let me show you the cast of characters (all photos are from Irene's birthday dinner!):

My brother in law, Rob, and Aunt Irene.

Jason's parents Bob and Catherine.

Catherine's best friend, Aunt Deborah, and her son (and Jason's cousin), Daniel.

Aunt Irene and Jason's G'ma Joyce.

Aunt Irene and her niece, Pam.

Jason and I.

Now that you've seen the cast of characters, let me recap our trip for you! As I said before, we had a BLAST on this trip. I do, however, have a confession to make. Neither Jason OR I took photos on this trip. Seriously. The family photos above are the limit of photos that were taken by us, and all were on Jason's camera. After that, I'm not really sure what came over us - we just didn't pull the cameras out. Which is crazy because, well, it was pretty freaking spectacular. Thanks to Catherine and Pam, though, we do have photos from the whole trip, so I'll try to credit them appropriately as I use their photos. Okay. Ready? Set? GO!

Roatan, Honduras
After a day at sea, we arrived at the Island of Roatan, in Honduras. Jason and I were supposed to dive here, and were SEVERELY disappointed when we got out on the dock and our dive trip was cancelled. It started pouring rain and never let up, so in reality we got lucky. The water visibility from the storm would have been terrible and I probably would have been throwing up on the dive boat from rough seas. Because our trip was cancelled, we were given a full refund by the ship and were able to go on a much better dive later in the trip. We did get a taxi ride around the island during the rain storm, and did some shopping far away from the ship. Since the reefs at Roatan are considered some of the most spectacular in the world, we'll be planning a trip back there to dive in the next year or two. Hopefully with better weather!

Stormy Roatan. Photo by Catherine.

Roatan from the ship. Photo by Pam.

Belize City, Belize
The sky was clear and the North Winds were a-blowing as we arrived in Belize City. But the water was clear, the visibility was good, and Jason and I were determined to do some diving on the reef in Belize. Interestingly, the same reef system stretches from Roatan to Belize to Mexico in case you were unaware! So we tendered into Belize City and went on the hunt for a dive shop that would take us out on the reef in Belize. We found one! The seas were rough, and I ended up chumming the waters before the end of the day, but the diving was spectacular, and we had lunch (beans and rice, stew chicken and plantains) on a deserted strip of sand about 100 feet long and 20 feet wide. Very Pirates of the Caribbean, surrounded by incredible turquoise waters! The reef was the most spectacular I've seen, and the sealife was extremely varied. Despite my stomach pyrotechnics, I believe that Belize was my favorite stop on our cruise, and I know that Jason would agree.

Tendering to Belize City. Photo by Pam.

Belize City harbor. Photo by Pam.

See the cruise ship in the distance? Photo by Catherine.

Costa Maya, Mexico
Costa Maya was our (meaning the whole family - not ours personally) super shopping day, and that meant that Jason and I spent a lot of time translating and haggling for prices. Basically, I translated and Jason haggled, although Jason's understanding of spoken Spanish is really very good. And what trip to Mexico is complete without a visit to Senor Frogs? (I still haven't figured out how to add accent markings and ~ over my n's in html.... sorry...) Another super fun day!

Costa Maya from our ship, the Norwegian Star. Photo by Catherine.

Jason and Daniel making themselves look as tall as possible. Not that they need any help! Photo by Catherine.

Daniel and Jason! Photo by Catherine.

Jason shows off his vaquero skills learned in Wyoming. Photo by Catherine.

Rob cops a feel. Photo by Catherine.

Rob continues to get friendly with the local art installation. Photo by Catherine.

Things can get crazy at Senor Frogs... Photo by our waiter.

Translation: "After six shots/drinks, there are no ugly women." Photo by Catherine.

I love this photo of Catherine and Deborah. We all were given name tags by a waiter. Catherine is "The Boss" and Deborah's says, "I (heart) my truck." The rest of ours probably shouldn't be repeated here, but they were funny! Photo by Yours Truly on Catherine's camera.

Back on board, Rob and I did some SERIOUS dancing (and rum punch drinking) as we sailed away from Costa Maya. Photo by Catherine.

Cozumel, Mexico There was more serious shopping to be done in Cozumel, by everyone but us. So Jason and I continued our translating/bartering shtick, and everyone walked away happy! Towards the end of our day, we found an AWESOME restaurant to sit and have drinks and some SERIOUS, KILLER chips, salsa and guacamole. There's nothing quite so good as the authentic thing, and I could have good chips/salsa/guac as a meal EVERY DAY. Seriously.

Cozumel from the ship. Photo by Catherine.

Deborah's new boots! Photo by Catherine.

One of Daniel's two pairs of new boots. Photo by Catherine.

I just LOVED these "bar stools". Photo by Catherine.

Rob and I take our turn on the barstools. Photo by Pam.

Bob, Catherine, Rob and Irene wait patiently in the boot store! Photo by Pam.

Irene and G'ma in front of the Norwegian Star. Photo by Pam.

Bob and I are so excited for Chips/Salsa/Guac! Photo by Catherine.

At dinner that night, sailing away from Cozumel. Photo by Pam.

Wrapping it up We had a seriously AMAZING time. Played lots of Dominoes, watched a lot of football (GO BLUE!) and enjoyed each other's company. What a great way to celebrate Irene! SO.... HAPPY 80th BIRTHDAY, AUNT IRENE!!!!!!!!