Sunday, November 22, 2009

Our Annual Trip to the Happiest Place on Earth

We have a special Williams Family tradition. It is SERIOUS and UNCOMPROMISING.

We take the kids to Disneyland every fall. It's just something we always do. It started when the twins were about 12 weeks old and we don't consider missing it. Travis described it best when he said that going to Disneyland in November is the best because it combines two of his favorite things- Christmas and Disneyland.

The Christmas decorations are all up and Christmas music plays throughout the park. It snows on Main Street during the parades and the characters are all dressed in their Christmas best. It's hard not to get swept up in the spirit of the is such pure bliss of our whole family.

We stayed 3 days this time........ barely enough time to get our fill. But we enjoyed every moment and love the memories it creates for our little family.
Our first morning on Main Street. So festive! We were so excited!
Travis' favorite ride is the Matterhorn. It's taken some coercing but we can get all the kids on it now without crying involved. The compromise is that we cover Ella and Ryan's eyes during the snow monster part. It really scares them.
Ryan is not too jazzed but we bribed him with a "special" treat if he went on the ride.
Olivia is a pro.
Ella was completely enchanted by the characters, especially the fairies. There is a new exhibit called Pixie Hollow where you can visit the fairies. We waited almost an hour for this. (the longest we waited for anything that week) Ella loved Tinkerbell and Terrance from the latest movie "Lost Treasure."
She also met Rosetta, another fairy.
Of course, she was thrilled to get a moment with Minnie Mouse.
Ella and Ryan both were happy to see Pluto.
Ryan is on a "Cars" kick. He has a Cars racing jacket and was only too happy to hang out by "Lightning McQueen."
Olivia is a pin collector. She wears them and trades with Disney employees in the park. She always get a new one on each visit.Travis and the kids on Grizzly River Run. Notice that I'm NOT on the ride. I rode it once and that was good for me. I usually get soaked.

Mickey's Fun Wheel is a family favorite. We always sit in the ones that swing around. It's fun but a little bit scary. (I get scared) It's a combination of the height and swinging........UUUUGH
We all love the treats.....the cotton candy, churros, ice cream, pizza, Coke. We eat so junky when we are at Disneyland. It's crazy!
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Another family favorite......
The biggest shocker for me was Ethan and Ella fell in LOVE with California Screamin'. It was the first time they were tall enough to ride and this ride was their absolute FAVORITE! It's all they wanted to ride. They asked over and over to go ride it. Finally on the last day we let them ride it about 5 times each. They got in the single rider line and just rode it over and over. It cracked us up. No fear. None.
What a great time we all had. It's something we do with our kids that we all love and will always enjoy doing together. We LOVE our Disneyland tradition. Travis and I are the biggest kids of all and plan to go alone in a couple of months. (Yes, without the kids) We can't wait!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Our Western Caribbean Cruise

Travis and I recently spent a week in the Caribbean. We've always wanted to take a cruise there and finally actually did it. We had an amazing time full of lots of adventures. We flew into Miami on a red eye flight on a Friday night. We got on the "Liberty of the Seas" on Saturday.
The ship was incredible. It was a resort on even had an ice skating rink on board. There were almost 4000 guests on our cruise. Most of them were from Europe, I think. We heard many different languages spoken. We were surprised when we heard people speak English. We had the most fun people watching. Seriously, I would plan to read a book by the pool then find myself checking people out for an hour. It was unbelievable to see how many men wore speedos. I am talking about men who can't see their feet and have NO business in a speedo, much less a swimsuit. If that wasn't interesting enough, the majority of women wore bikinis. These were not "bikini worthy" bodies, either. Thus, the people watching. It was pure entertainment. You've got to love it!
Our dinner table was by the window. We got to watch the sun set each night as we ate a delicious dinner. Yes, I did gain 5 pounds and am still paying for it. The food was way better than I expected. I thoroughly looked forward to dinner each evening. Travis and I usually ended up ordering more than one appetizer, entree and dessert each. The food was "inclusive" so why not?

There was an area on deck 5 called the "Promenade" with shops and restaurants. It felt like a mall. It was so much fun to walk around there in the evenings. There was a pizza place called "Serrento's" that was open 24 hours. Sadly, we did hit it around 11:30 pm one night. We got used to eating about every 2 hours and couldn't resist all the free food. There was also a Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream Parlor. I am not proud to say that we hit that place a couple of times as well. Travis entered a drawing for an amber and silver necklace at a jewelry event and he won it!
Our first stop on Monday was Haiti. We had lots planned here in Labadee. One of which was parasailing.....something I have been dying to do forever.

It didn't disappoint. It was spectacular! We went up at least 300 feet into the air. The view was gorgeous. Haiti is lush and green and the water is so clear and blue.

After parasailing, we hung out on the beach for a while and even played in the area with all kinds of inflatable toys. Travis and I were like kids in there. We played hard! We did this tetter totter thing, jumped on a tramp, went down a slide and climbed a floating rock wall. (I fell off this while trying to jump off and got a nice welt on my thigh.)

We then got to go jet skiing for a while before getting back on the ship. On our way back to the beach on the jet skis, I noticed some men in canoes paddling out to us. We stopped to wait for the rest of our group and these men approached us with all kinds of handmade souvenirs they were selling. I started looking at these cool wood carved masks and picked out a couple things. The guy was missing all kinds of teeth and didn't speak English. We somehow negotiated a price and he gave me a receipt so I could pay when I got back to the dock. It was kind of cool. When we got back to the ship we were wiped out. I haven't played that hard in a long time.

The ship was full of things to do. We tried out the rock-climbing wall. It was HIGH! It was on the 14th floor and as I climbed I realized how freaked out I was getting. I didn't want to chicken out even though I really wanted to so I just kept climbing until I could reach the bell and ring it. I couldn't even look around or I knew I would loose it!
Travis did much better. He claims he wasn't afraid of the height.

There was also something called the "Flowrider." It was a wave pool where you could boogie board. Travis LOVED it. I even tried it a couple of times. It was lots of fun. It was even fun hanging out just watching other people. By the end of the week, people were getting really good at it. Travis got good at a few tricks, including ditching the board and just body surfing. So cool.
Our second stop was in Jamaica. We figured we would go check out the shops. Within 30 minutes we were offered "Bob Marley" or "some special stuff" at least 3 times and I was a little in fear of my safety. We were warned about this and quickly realized that lots of people must come to Jamaica for this reason. I decided that I was done with Jamaica and we went back to the ship. I was still exhausted from our fun day in Labadee the day before.
Our 3rd day was spent in Grand Cayman. This was something Travis and I had anticipated for a long time because we planned to scuba dive here. We got up early and met our group by the dive shop on board. Sadly, it was cloudy and raining. Not good for visibility when diving. It still happened and we went ahead with our plans.

On the first dive, I was having problems with my mask filling with water. I kept messing with it and lost track of Travis. Before I knew what happened, I realized I was lost and no one from my group was around. I had a moment of panic..........then saw another diving group. I started hanging out with them. I figured it was better than being alone at sea. The dive master realized I wasn't one of his and gestured if I was okay. I gestured back that I was. After a while, we surfaced and I explained that I got separated from my group. He told me he would take me to my boat, but was angry with my dive master for loosing track of me. Apparently, there was a very strong current in our area, and it moved us a couple hundred yards away from our drop area. I knew I was okay, but I was concerned with what Travis must be going through when he realized I was missing.

On his end, he figured I was with other people in the group and continued his dive. When everyone surfaced and got back in the boat, they started taking up the ladder and he informed them that I was NOT on the boat. They dive guys just looked at each other and didn't seem to know what to do.

Thankfully within a couple minutes of this, I showed up in the other boat. I was a little embarrassed, but happy to be safe. It kind of shook me up. I asked our dive master if this had ever happened to him before, fully expecting him to say "yes" and he told me, "No." That didn't make me feel any better.

The next dive proved to be much better and I stayed close to Travis. (Oh, and I got a new mask.)

Our second dive included a ship wreck of a banana boat. It was very cool.
There were a couple of bikes belonging to dive instructors on the bottom of the ocean. These guys like to play practical jokes on each other and dumped bikes by the wreck site.

Our last stop was in Cozumel. This was the highlight of the whole week and my favorite spot. We planned to swim with the dolphins......something else I have dreamed of doing for a LONG time. It was an indescribable exhilarating and unforgettable.

Travis, my friend, Kelee, and I were in a small group with 2 sixty-something year old Irish women (who didn't swim and were terrified of the water.) Travis became their best friend and held their hands and helped them the whole time. It was priceless to watch this. The DVD we bought is hilarious! These two women are clutching Travis like he's their only hope to survival.

We each got to have 2 dolphins push us up in the water by pushing their noses on the bottom of our feet. We went skimming through the water. It was something I'll never forget.

We also got to hold onto their dorsal fins and get pulled through the water. I felt like a Sea World dolphin trainer. I could totally do that for a living. I'm serious.
We each got to hug a dolphin. It was so sweet......they swam right into our arms. We got to hug and kiss these dolphins. I loved it!
Afterwards, Travis and I went to pick up my new wedding ring at the jewelry store. (How cool is that? It's our 15 anniversary next month!) This is worthy of it's own post. It's the most gorgeous ring I've ever seen and it's MINE. I'll share more about that another time.

We stopped at this restaurant for some lunch called the Tiki Tok. The view of the ocean was breathtaking and the Mexican food was the best I've ever had. We ate nachos, fish tacos and drank Mexican Cokes. It was heavenly.