Dec 31, 2015

2015 Year in Review

It's been a while since I compiled a year in review blog post, but this past year was so busy and had so many fun moments that I wanted to take some time to look back and remember how far we came in 2015.  We started off the year catching beads at a Mardi Gras parade...
 We visited Disney for the Mardi Gras holiday.  It is amazing to me that this trip seems so long ago!

 Cille wowed us with her dribbling skills at a Haarlem Globetrotters game...
 Stella turned 7!
 We celebrated Easter...
 Hit the beach with friends for Spring Break...
 Received awards at school...
 Graduated preschool...
Stella was a beautiful ballerina at her dance recital...
 And she had all the "bear necessities"...
Cille became a full-fledged Dolphin...

Stella tri-d a few new things...

Cille turned 5! 
Stella stole the show as a Dalmatian...
We hit the beach for more fun in the sun...

 Watts turned three with a special visit from Captain America...
 Stella started 2nd grade...
 And Cille attended her first day of Kindergarten...

 We took a sea plane to the Dry Tortugas...

 Played around the pumpkin patch...


 Had a very despicable Halloween with a few of our closest friends...
And thanked God for our many blessings in November...


 Corinne turned one...
 And we donned our Christmas jammies to help Jesus turn 2015 in December...
 We strolled the streets of New York City...
 And had our breath taken away by a chilly view of Niagara Falls...
2015 was a fun year for all of us.  I don't know what surprises 2016 has in store, but I can't wait to watch the kids learn and grow more this year as we discover them together.

Dec 29, 2015

December Beach Babes

Now this is more like it!  We had to go to Orange Beach for a little condo maintenance, but while we were there the weather was actually pretty nice so we hit the beach for a few hours...




It was a beautiful day...temperatures in the 70's...
I was pleasantly surprised by all the stuff the condo has to offer during the off season.  Most of the activities are targeted more at the retirement set, but there was still lots of stuff for the family.  Retiree activities include bus trips to casinos, and arts and crafts classes; family fun would be things like the live nativity at the Wharf or ice skating.  I think Orange Beach is doing a great job of making itself a year-round vacation destination.  Commercial over...back to cute kids on the beach...
There was one family on the beach making amazing sand creations.  The dad used a spray bottle and food coloring to make this super cool shark...
Everybody's going surfing...
Actually maybe the water is a little too cold...
It's warmer up here on the sand...
Oh no!  Corinne spilled her carrots and learned the universal signal for oh no!
I'm a bloom where you're planted kind of gal, but Orange Beach is quickly becoming one of my favorite places on earth.

Dec 26, 2015

Blame Canada

Anybody else remember that song?  It was a South Park classic.  Our flight to Buffalo was uneventful and we managed to make it across the border into Canada in spite of being insulted by the Canadian border patrol agent.  We also ate dinner at the Rainforest Cafe before we crossed over into Canada, and that is significant because Damon and I ate at one in Cancun the day that we got engaged and have taken the kids to several, so while it may be a little silly with the monkeys and the smoke and all, we love it and we're gonna let our freak flag fly on that one.  We had anticipated that the kids might not be that into the wonders of the world, and therefore chose as our hotel Great Wolf Lodge.  That turned out to be a good move, because the conversation at Niagara Falls went a little like this: 

Damon: "Isn't that amazing and beautiful, kids?"

Stella: "That's a lot of water.  Can we go back to the lodge and play Magi Quest?"

End scene.  And interest.  We forced them to enjoy it and take pictures from several different locations for our enjoyment, but as it turns out, kids really just want to ride water slides and shoot stuff with magic wands.  Even so, I hope you enjoy these photos of the majesty of the falls...
The American Falls...
The Canadian Horseshoe Falls...
Wowza.  That IS a lot of water...

Stella, humoring us...

This was a tough shot to get...



Pawpaw joined us for this portion of the trip.  And from the looks of things, he was pretty excited about it.  Mawmaw had been with us for a few days and she was less sure...

Awe!  We're like a couple of honeymooners!
Who have been really...
really...
REALLY productive over the past 8 years...



Would you like to flashback to Cille rocking the same snowsuit?  Click here.
After the falls, we explored some of the tourist traps around the falls.  Like the Mystic Maze of Mirrors, where we accidentally lost Watts.  When we found him he was stuck in a corner of mirrors cracking himself up...
We also visited an upside down house, and Ripley's Moving Theater.  Back at the lodge we roasted marshmallows and drank hot chocolate...
And stuffed some friends...



We had a good time exploring Niagara Falls, and we even got to see the Queen's Christmas address on television since we were there on Christmas day.  My favorite part of the trip was riding big kid water slides with Stella.  She is finally old enough to enjoy this activity and it makes my heart happy to go screaming down a water coaster with her.

To complete the story of our trip, I must add that the stomach bug did follow us to Canada, where Stella and Cille succumbed and possibly shared it with several other kids in the lodge.  Hey, it's the gift that keeps on giving.  In spite of a few episodes involving vomit, we had a great time exploring the great not-so white and actually unseasonably warm North.