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Celebrating My Sister’s Wedding with a Family Cruise

12 Dec


We had the BEST time last week on our amazing cruise! I’ve actually been putting off writing this post because I’ve just been savoring it and don’t want to admit that it’s over.

As I’ve mentioned before, this is a year of weddings. My brother (Jason) got married in September, my sister (Kelsey) is getting married in May and my other sister (Katie) got married last week… in St. Thomas.

For Katie’s wedding, she decided to have an amazing cruise vacation on the Oasis of the Seas with 60 of her closest friends and family. The ship cruised out of Florida and then had three stops – Nassau, Bahamas, St.Thomas, and St. Martin – as well as a few days at sea. While on the ship we had her bachelorette party, an amazing rehearsal dinner, a cocktail hour, group dinners in the dining room, etc. The actual wedding was held on St. Thomas at Villa Botanica, their botanical gardens.

I could go through the entire week day-by-day, but I thought it would be more fun to just hit some of the highlights!

What I read:

I was super excited to turn off my phone (and all social media) for the duration of the trip. I had asked you all for some book recommendations before I left and you certainly delivered! Many of the suggestions are on my ‘to be requested at my local library list’, but I did download a bunch of books to my Kindle (mostly free) and got some reading done.

  • The Magnolia Story, by Chip and Joanna Gaines
  • Match Making for Beginners, by Maddie Dawson
  • The Kiss Quotient, by Helen Hoang

I loved all three of the books and highly recommend all of them. The first two books were free on Kindle Unlimited and The Kiss Quotient cost $10 to download (but you could probably reserve it at your library if you are patient).

What we did on the ship:

The Oasis of the Seas was an amazingly huge ship… much bigger than any ship I’ve cruised on before. In fact, the balcony in our room overlooked Central Park… an actual PARK with living greenery in the center of the ship. There were tons of places to eat, as well as lots of different activities like the kid’s camp, zip lining, and rock climbing. There was even an ice skating rink and an aqua stage.

 Jack loved the kid’s camp, especially when they offered science lab and art studio activities. We also all tried rock climbing, and Travis and I both did the zip line across the ship. Travis and I also took a sushi making class where we learned how to make our own sushi!

We also saw a bunch of shows… our favorites being a diving show at the aqua theater, Fly With Me (a show with aerial acrobatics), and Frozen in Time (an ice skating show).

We also ate ALL the food. The rehearsal dinner was at 150 Central Park and it knocked our socks off!

{In this photo from left to right is: Jack, me, Katie (the bride), Kelsey (her twin), and Jaclyn (my new sister, by way of my brother’s marriage). Me, Kelsey and Jaclyn are all about the same height within an inch or so… Jaclyn is just wearing super tall heels. And yes, we all kind of look alike!}

What we did off the ship:

Nassau: For our Nassau, Bahamas stop we decided to book an excursion which took us by ferry to the Blue Lagoon Island and included a Stingray Encounter. Upon arrival, we spent the first portion of the day sipping fruity drinks and floating around the ocean.

At the end of the day, we walked over to the animal area to learn about and touch the stingrays. Jack wanted NOTHING to do with them, but both Travis and I were able to pet the stingray, kiss it, and even put our fingers in its mouth to feel its teeth.

Yeah, that’s right. I put my finger IN a stingray.

And I totally love that photo of my husband cracking up!

 St. Martin: I’ve been to St. Martin a few times before and it is one of my favorite islands. I spent a week there about 15 years ago with my friend Annie and have re-visited the island a couple more times on cruises. Once we got off the Oasis, we walked a bit, grabbed a taxi, and then rode the scenic route over to Mullet Bay.

The water was perfect. The beach was perfect. I basically never wanted to leave.

The wedding:

St. Thomas: Due to an emergency on board the ship, we ended up getting to St. Thomas later than planned. However, even with a little delay the wedding was fantastic. Our uncle officiated the wedding, I was honored to serve as Matron of Honor, Kelsey was Maid of Honor, my new sister was a Bridesmaid, and my brother was a Groomsman. It was quite the family affair.

And yes, there were tears.

After the ceremony my sister and her new husband, Craig, did the sweetest choreographed dance for their First Dance. And then the rum punches happened… so many rum punches. And SO MUCH dancing. It was an amazing night!

I probably have a million stories I could tell from the cruise. I know I certainly have a ton more photos… but didn’t want to spam you with them all. I can’t wait to see all the professional photos from the wedding and may share some more at some point, maybe with my rehearsal dinner speech…

All in all, it was a wonderful way to celebrate my sister and her new husband. He’s been with us for 11 years, but now he has been formally welcomed into the family! It was such a great way to spend the week and it made it even more special that I had my parents, siblings, their spouses/fiancé, and a ton of their friends on the vacation with us.

Oh, and we also got a pretty fantastic Christmas card picture by the full sized Christmas tree in the Promenade. ON THE SHIP.

So I guess I should probably start thinking about Christmas now. And ordering those Christmas cards. Oh yeah, and Christmas gift shopping. Um… and cookie making.

Sigh… I think I want to go back on vacation…

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Out of Office

3 Dec

I am currently out of the office. I will not be available at all. Not by phone, or email, or Facebook, or Twitter, or Instagram, or carrier pigeon. I’m turning off my phone and sticking it in a safe for an entire week. It’s going to be weird, but it is a MUCH NEEDED social media (and life in general) break.

Instead of working, blogging, or staring at my phone, I will be having so much fun on an amazing cruise with my family to celebrate the wedding of my sister, Katie.

I’ll be back on Monday, December 10th.

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Movie Review: Ralph Breaks the Internet

20 Nov

Last night my family had the opportunity to go to a screening of the new Wreck-it Ralph movie, Ralph Breaks the Internet. Besides the fact that someone thought it would be appropriate to bring an infant to the screening (and didn’t take the child outside when it was crying…), we had an amazing time!

We are HUGE Wreck-it Ralph fans at our house and we even dressed up like Ralph, Fix-it Felix and Venellope for Halloween a couple years ago:

Here’s the premise: Ralph Breaks the Internet ventures into the uncharted and thrilling world of the world wide web. Video game bad guy Ralph (voice of John C. Reilly) and misfit Vanellope von Schweetz (voice of Sarah Silverman) must risk it all by traveling to the world wide web in search of a replacement part to save Vanellope’s video game, Sugar Rush. In way over their heads, Ralph and Vanellope rely on the citizens of the internet to help navigate their way.

Check out the trailer:

We absolutely LOVED the new movie and it had tons and tons of laughs throughout. Ralph and Vanellope were as endearing as ever and I just love their relationship. There was even a quick cartoon Stan Lee cameo and everyone in the theater let out a collective “aww” when they saw it.

Favorite parts
For me it was the inclusion of the Disney princesses. It has been teased for months and those parts were some of my absolute favorite bits of the movie. There was SO MUCH to unpack there that I’m going to need to see the movie a few more times to get all of the quick jokes and references. For Jack it was the first scene after the credits (there are two, so be sure to stay in the theater when the credits start rolling). He laughed so hard and this morning on the way to school he brought it up again and started giggling.

This movie is absolutely great for all ages, so if you are looking for something to see over the long weekend, add this to your list!

Ralph Breaks the Internet opens in theaters tonight, Wednesday, November 21, 2018 and is rated PG.

 

Disclosure: I was invited to attend the screening at no cost to me.  

 

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Another Baltimore Running Festival 5k

25 Oct

I feel like I’ve run at the Baltimore Running Festival a dozen times or so, but I was going back through my posts and photos and it appears that this is just my fifth time.

I say *just* but HECK YEAH for me making myself run at the festival five times!

My first visit to the Baltimore Running Festival was in 2012 when I ran my first 5k after having Jack. I signed up rather impulsively and wasn’t quite sure if I could do it, but I ended up giving myself a pep talk and was pleased to find out my uterus did not fall out during the run (read it here).

Because that’s every new mom’s concern, right?

I’m not sure what I did in 2013 and 2014, because apparently I didn’t do the race those years. I’m honestly not sure why. But having a toddler probably had something to do with it. Perhaps I was napping?

In 2015, my brother, sisters and I ran the Team Relay. I trained for a few months to get my body up to doing the mileage required for the first leg, which was 6 miles. We made capes and the four of us destroyed the race… and I posed with a penguin, as you do (find it here).

I returned to the 5k in 2016 and 2017, but 2017 was extra special because Jack ran his first Kid’s Fun Run (here’s that one, with a cute photo of Jack included).

He loved earning his very own medal, so we were both excited to have him run the fun run again this year.

And… they didn’t have it.

Such a bummer! They moved around the race course and apparently that made the fun run impossible… which sounds kind of hooky. I’m hoping that they will bring it back next year.

I did run the 5k again this year though. This time I went with my brother and his new wife. This is after the race, with our fancy medals:

The highlight of the race for me was when a group of military dudes came upon me, running together and chanting. You know, that military chanting thing they do? I muted my headphones and ran with them for about a quarter mile. It was AWESOME. And exhausting. So after that bit I slowed down a little to finish the race.

And that’s it.  Nothing exciting. No uterus worries. No penguins.

Just another medal to add to my collection. Which works for me.

{I would have enjoyed another penguin though…}

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