Disney Cruise

For winter break we decided to try a Disney cruise through the Caribbean.  Our main motivation was to let Johnny experience some Disney magic since he was too young to remember our first and only trip to Disneyland.  The cruise was Marvel Day At Sea which meant superheroes were everywhere.  Of course, Charlotte was able to get in on the magic when she met and twirled with the princesses.

Our first stop was the island of Cozumel where we were able to kiss, hold, and swim with stingrays.  Afterward we found a beach with a giant floating Wibit out in the ocean.  All four of us played on this thing for hours laughing each time one of us slipped off – probably my favorite moment of the cruise.

The days at sea were filled with lots of people and then even more people.  The kids didn’t mind as movies were blasting from the giant screen.  They also they visited kids club a few times where they made slime, had superhero training, and even became official Marvel Agents.

The evenings on the cruise were quite a delight.  We enjoyed dinner in a different themed dining room each night and also went to the live theater where we saw Cinderella and Tangled.  The kids were in awe and a little Disney magic was felt by all of us.

The last stop was at Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay.  We loved having a day with a little less people as we played in the sand and swam in the calm ocean.  Charlotte played alone for hours making us pretend-stew with sand and leaves.  Johnny spent a lot of time underwater looking for seashells.  John and I were happy to have some reprieve from the ship.

Would we do it again, no.  Did Charlotte and Johnny think it was an amazing experience, yes.  And that, I guess, is what parents do.

Things to remember:  a night in Miami, Johnny meeting all of his favorite superheroes, popcorn at the movies and live theater, the stair climbs, dinner with the Tangled cast, passing Cuba, standing in line to meet princesses, ice cream machine, loud movies at the pool, lots of people, fireworks, pirate night, Johnny and Charlotte dressed up as Captain America and American Dream, bubble baths, our waiter and waitress, mama’s anxiety, missing our connecting flight in Atlanta (maybe we shouldn’t remember that one), Disney magic felt by all of us.

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Below are pictures from the stingray experience:

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Christmas Card 2018

We love the annual tradition of exchanging Christmas cards with family and friends.  We like to choose a different theme in hopes of capturing the overall sentiment of that year.  2018 had a magical, Adobe Photoshop twist to it.  Little did we know it would be John’s last year at Adobe so the theme turned out to be even more momentous than expected.

We really do think Charlotte and Johnny hung the moon and stars… and are even there to catch them when they fall.  Thanks to Phillip at Manicproject and Adobe Photoshop, we were able to bring our vision to life (or at least to a 5 x 7 Christmas card).

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Christmas in Playa del Carmen 2018

Once again we were able to talk Santa into meeting us in Mexico.  We celebrated Christmas for about an hour and then enjoyed seven days together as a family in one of our favorite places. 

Rosewood Mayakoba was such a great place to return to.  It’s the kind of place where everyone knows your kids’ names and it feels like a big family.  Upon arrival, we rode a little boat through the lagoon to our room while looking for baby crocodiles.  From there, we tried to slowly inhale each breath of warm, humid air.

We chased butterflies and found flowers on our way to breakfast… after the kids had already jumped in the pool.  We took walks to the beach through the “jungle” where we saw coatis (a Mexican critter that’s kind of like a raccoon).  The beach had an endless amount of seashells for Johnny to find which was his main focus most days.  He dug so hard in the sand that his fingertips were raw.  Charlotte oversaw daddy’s sand castle construction site where she cracked the whip on all of us – we successfully built a pretty awesome Christmas tree in the sand.  Lunch time consisted of nachos, hot dogs, and quesadillas on the beach.  I think we applied sunscreen seven times a day and got pretty good at it, but the kids never liked it.  Our dinners were filled with delicious food and a relaxed ambiance… so relaxed that Johnny fell asleep at every dinner or maybe he was just wiped from the sun, pool, and sand.  We didn’t mind.  It’s a good sign of Mexico.  

We left Rosewood a couple times to explore.  Our first outing was a boat trip along the coast by Tulum where we were able to snorkel and see a sea turtle, stingray, and moray eel.  Charlotte and daddy explored farther to see a starfish and a few more strange ocean creatures.  Our kids (and us) were blown away with this amazing Wild Kratts episode brought to us by Mexico.  Afterward, we relaxed and enjoyed a lovely lunch and Johnny fell asleep once again on my lap as we sailed back to Playa.

Our second outing was to swim with dolphins.  We’ve done this before but it’s been a couple of years so Johnny had mostly forgotten.  We were awestruck with these amazing creatures.  Our faces tell the story much better than words (below).  I think Johnny and Charlotte do an excellent job of bringing out our curiosity or amazement or maybe just our inner child.  It’s a beautiful thing to experience life with these brave kids.

To sum up, we had a blast and still really like the idea of Mexico for Christmas.  There are more moments and warm fuzzies than words and pictures can ever explain, but are felt deep down.  We hope these are building blocks for our kids and us.  Each day together is a gift and that is all John and I will ever want for Christmas.

Things to remember:  Alebrijes, bike rides, dinner in the garden, Wolfy and Chiquita, Charlotte making sushi, Big Boom, the rain storm, Sebastian the iguana, dolphin foot-push, stock market crash, Coco on the beach, two magical kids.

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Below are the dolphin pictures (I had a hard time eliminating):

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Arkansas

Little Rock, Arkansas has our hearts in every way.  We were lucky enough to spend Thanksgiving with Uncle Roy and Aunt Patrice in this lovely, heart-felt place where the woods are deep and the people are abundantly warm.  It’s strange how time can slow down and the edge wears off… I wonder if the south holds this virtue or maybe it’s just Roy and Patrice.

John loved showing the kids where he grew up, went fishing, and looked for critters.  John, Roy, and Johnny disappeared often looking for anything that moved.  Charlotte and Patrice were able to work on knitting pot holders and preparing Thanksgiving dinner while talking about all the things that matter.  I was a grateful bystander witnessing depth and goodness in every way.  As I always say… please slow it down.  There’s a magic that exists in Little Rock and especially with Roy and Patrice.  I hope we can put a stone of it in our pocket until next time.

Things to remember:  The Little House, bird watching, breakfast next door, Ozark Outdoor Supply, salamanders, Pinnacle Mountain, Roy’s place, beehives, Leawood, Timothy, yoga room, hummus, corn hole, woods, critters, fall leaves, Big Damn Bridge, Thanksgiving, Charlotte losing a tooth eating brussels sprouts, family, gratitude.

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Paris 2018

The nights were long and the days were short and our souls were filled with the love and romance only Paris holds.

I met John for a quick four day weekend in Paris sans children.  We used our adult superpower plan of staying on Utah time which meant we stayed up until 3 am and slept until noon.  We saw the city of lights come alive at night and talked for hours over dim candlelight while enjoying delicious food and amazing wine.  Our love grew deeper for each other and for this city.  Thank you, Paris.

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Ginger and Nashville

After much anticipation, we welcome our new baby girl, Ginger.  It’s been years in the making… finally Priscilla has a sister and we all have a new puppy.  For those of you that know our history of labs from Memphis, you may remember we started with Elvis (RIP), have had Priscilla for about 7 years, and are now adding Ginger.  If you want to see the connection, Google “Elvis, Priscilla, Ginger” – it’s interesting.

Charlotte and I were happy to hop on a plane last October to pick up our sweet baby girl.  We landed in Nashville and had a fabulous girls’ night out.  The next morning we woke up early to drive to Memphis where we were able to meet Ginger and see where she and Priscilla are from.  The cotton fields were blooming and puppies were stealing our hearts.  We barely made it back to Nashville to get Ginger on our flight home to Utah.  The rest is history… (and puppies are hard).  We love you, Ginger.  img_3036img_3033img_3028img_3024img_3018img_3010img_3003img_3002

Kauai, Hawaii

My brother decided to have a destination wedding… we quickly said yes.

We did Kauai in four days and three nights.  Maybe it was our lack of sleep or maybe the island is truly mesmerizing.  Either way, we left in awe and wanting more.  We saw the sunrise every morning, did our first helicopter ride, rode a catamaran along the Napali coast, caught an octopus (and let it go), saw dolphins swimming free and in the wild, tried to catch crabs, lost a tooth, woke up before another sunrise, fell asleep before dinner was over, and loved every second.

Most importantly, we were able to witness and celebrate love and marriage in a majestic setting where Charlotte was a flower girl and Johnny was a ring bearer and where true love was felt by everyone.  We were honored to attend such a special event and can’t wait to see the life these two create together.  Congratulations to the new Mr. and Mrs. Jackson.

And, Kauai, we will be back soon, I hope.

Things to remember:  Johnny sleeping through the helicopter tour of Kauai and Charlotte on the microphone; Charlotte getting the dance party started; water slide; catching a gecko and having it lose its tail; family time; the redeye home.

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