Sunday, December 29, 2013

So Much to Love in Arizona

In October I flew to Arizona to spend the weekend with the Allens to celebrate Nan's 50th birthday.
We  spent the first two days in Sedona and I quickly learned there was so much to love there! 
The gaucho's are rather handsome 
and the shops are so fun to browse.
There are miles to hike or bike and wander. 
 If your group includes a few who might be less than thrilled at the prospect of hiking  then your next best bet is the Pink Jeep tour.
I loved the red rocks, hearing about the mysterious vortex located there, and all the local folklore.
 Loved seeing their version of Mt Rushmore
and hearing all the funny nick names they have for their rocks
Loved wandering the location where several movies had been filmed
Watched these two harass each other and made bets on how far down the trail the beautiful Lexus SUV would get before the driver realized there wasn't a chance in the world that they were making it and called for the tow out of there.
We loved scrambling around on the rocks and the views that took our breath away.
There's no way we could really take it all in so naturally a plane ride was in order.
Nan and I love that mischievous smirk and watching these two together as we waited for our tour.
Our little trouble maker had all of us laughing.  
He didn't introduce himself as Carlos to our tour guide like he did on the Jeep tour
No the plane ride was all business for him
These two rocked the headsets!
Loved getting a different view of the rocks we had just seen from the Jeep
But our destination was the Grand Canyon! 
I hiked the Grand Canyon with my family when I was in the 8th grade and had bronchitis. I hadn't been back since.
The direction of the sun and the glare from the windows made taking pictures a little pointless, but I'm glad that I got a couple that were clear. I would love to get back and do some exploring on foot!
As the sun was setting we hit one last tourist attraction.
The Church of the Holy Cross is pretty, but the view from there is even better. I loved the way the colors played on the rocks as the sun hit them.  In some places it almost looked like they were glowing.
I loved going out to a different movie every night we were there
I loved our late night food runs
I loved that I got to have Cafe Rio for dinner one night
I always love watching Carter and Devany interact and the love they have for each other. The teasing is  hilarious and incessant!
I loved meeting Carters roommates and then being able to tease them a bit too. #brandonhands
I loved that Carter and Dev made sure that Nan and I were appropriately dressed in team apparel to watch the Niner game that week. I died laughing at their reaction to their mom wearing Carter's hat!
The Lion King or The Titanic?  Love the witty and super sarcastic sense of humor that all of them have.
  Love that I was able to spend a wonderful weekend in a beautiful place with people I love.  Grateful to call them friends.  Blessed to call them family. 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Til We Meet Again...

 The ship was awesome.  
 The ports were fun.
 The weather was perfect and the beaches were dreamy.
 The kids had a blast and were so well behaved
Well, most of the time. I think my face here says it all, and my missing kids say the rest. 
But the real reason this week was one of the best we've ever had was because of who we were with.
 The friendships that these guys share with each other is priceless 
 The friendships that these guys have is timeless
 The lines of family and friendship easily blurred
 There is a security and comfort with friends who've been there through the thick and thin. 
The distance in space and time doesn't change a thing.
 We have been scattered far and wide
 So we treasure the days and the moments
 We hang on to the memories and continue to make more
So that we have plenty to cling to until the next trip!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Life on a Boat

Life on a boat can be rather grand. 
Bigger, better, more...of everything.
Hot tubs are best with a few friends
When you're on a ship with a day a sea and cooler than normal temps, a hot tub is where everyone else wants to be too.  But don't let a little thing like space deter you from having your fun!  Jeremy figured if  people didn't feel like taking turns enjoying the tubs, they might feel like leaving once he convinced almost our entire group of four families to come on in "there's plenty of room!"
And come they did...21 people all crammed in to that tiny little hot tub.  The old couple was so dang stubborn and wouldn't budge from their spots, but none of us could stop laughing at the absurdity of the situation. Bigger, better, more.
When dinner is done and the teenagers are off at the teen clubs and you have little ones with you, most people would imagine that adult fun would have to wait. But not on the boat.  You can drop your littles off at the Night Owls club.  
They'll happily turn your girls into pirates, load them up with goodies and toys to take home, and lay them down in front of a movie with a pillow and blanket. Adults could stay out until 3am...if you really want to. Bigger, better, more.
When you come into your room each night not only has your room been cleaned again, but the sheets are turned down, chocolate awaits you on your pillow, and every night you'll find a new towel animal friend.
Brynne wanted to keep them all on the window sill of our room and named each of them.  They just brought us extra towels. Bigger better more.
The night life on the boat can be very entertaining. Especially in the Karaoke lounge.
And as fun as it is with just us adults, we begged our teenagers to come join us there one night. the more the merrier.

The crazier, the better.
They brought their friends

And checked their ego's at the door. We convinced them to perform!
The bigger the group the more comfortable they felt
The more comfortable they felt, the more bold they got
And when they got crazy, the crowd got loud!
Bigger, better, more.
It isn't enough that you can eat as much as you want, any time you want.  The dessert tables in the buffett, and the options on the restaurant menu are always divine, but still you can't ever get enough of that soft serve ice cream or frozen yogurt.
Whenever we'd see the kids out and about on the ship they either had a cone in hand or were on their way to or from the ice cream machines.
With all this cone making going on there naturally came a competition to see who could make the best ones.
Bigger better more.
However there is consistently one thing on every boat that is small. Your room. 
But don't you worry, I figured out a way to still set up a girl party in our little space! With the plastic mats for unloading our luggage set up on the bed to keep the sheets clean we were ready to play.  There  was room for several rounds of twister, and plenty of space for dancing.
  Perhaps not bigger, but more use out of tiny space and a better time was not to be had!
All this fun was exhausting and we were trying to sneak in more sleep wherever we could!
Even the bigger kids couldn't keep their eyes open all the time!
At dinner
or by the pool it didn't matter.
Better sleep for more hours was definitely needed!
Talli came to the pool with one hat on, but Brynne was not to be outdone and wore two!
Moments later Garrett came out wearing one bigger and definitely better.
He posed and flexed
and made new friends

These ladies came and begged me to let them take a picture with him
These girls wanted to swim with him
The kids all wanted to play with him. Yep. Bigger, better, more.
These elevators provided lots of entertainment for us throughout the week.  Not to be used just as a means for getting from one floor to the next, the big girls played games in them, asked strangers random questions and created awkward moments. Jeff and Drew danced in them. Shaking their booties at an entire lobby full of onlookers. Set in the main lobby and central hub of the ship they were the site of plenty things bigger, better and more.
While on the boat we celebrated Talli and Jason whose birthday's were the week before, 
And Tyler whose was right in the middle.  Hooray for one more year, one more candle, one more celebration.

There wasn't a group in the dining room quite as big as ours.  I don't know you could have found any smiles quite a big or as cute either!

This wasn't just dinner as usual though, it was done the way life on a boat is always done. Bigger better and more.  Joseph our "suuuuper  chargedddd maitre d' " always got the party started  
and everybody dancing!

And last but certainly not least, one of my favorite things about life on a boat is the way we all topped off dinner every night. Warm chocolate melting cake. There were plenty of things that were bigger, but nothing was better and we always wanted more!
Yeah life on a boat is pretty grand.