Friday, February 25, 2011

Jenna Weekends

Jenna pretty well summed up our weekend here with a few more glamor shots of me here and here :)

And on tap for this weekend...

Jenna Voorhees!

She's coming to Rhode Island and then I'm FINALLY going to Beverly (where she's lived for the past oh several years...)!!!

I could totally get used to having all Jenna weekends :)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Visiting Erie

Last Friday I went to Erie, PA to visit one of my very bestest friends, Jenna Blair. It was a long day of driving by myself, but all in all a good drive despite the wind. I got to spend Saturday and Sunday with her doing all kinds of fun things including wineries, sightseeing, photo shoots, meeting her friends, attending the Frostbite Open (to be explained with a picture), and shopping. (A girls weekend would not be complete with shopping.) There are LOTS of fun pictures, but Jenna has them all so you'll have to wait. It was so great to spend time with her and visit her new home. Sadly Monday came quicker than it should have and I drove all 578 miles in snow. It was beautiful, even if slightly dangerous at times. Thankfully the roads were perfectly fine after the first few hours. All in all it was a refreshing, fun filled weekend with lots of laughs and good memories. Thanks for fitting me into your busy schedule JB - I had an amazing time :)


and back!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Daisy Finds

This was taken just seconds after "Daisy Hides". Why she insists on hiding her bone when she's just going to get in a few seconds is a mystery. Though she did hide the remaining piece from last night under her bed and "found" it this morning :)

Daisy Hides

Our RIDICULOUSLY silly dog! When you give her a bone is has to "hide" it before she'll chew on it. I hope this brightens your day! She sure makes us laugh.

A Newport Weekend

We spent this past Saturday exploring Newport. Here's our adventure in picture form :)

We drove along Ocean Avenue, which runs along the southern tip of Newport. The view is beautiful. Definitely makes you want to praise the Creator!

It's a small island, so driving along Ocean Avenue didn't take too long so we headed over to Ft. Adams State Park. The fort is closed until May, but we decided to walk around outside despite the wind!

The huge icicles hanging off the fort wall!

Nate posing by one of the gates :)

A view of the side

The Newport Bridge and Rose lighthouse

A rock that was catching some great waves :)

A house! out on a rock/island! Crazy...right?

Beautiful cemetery behind the fort

Once we'd had enough of the windy fort we headed downtown for lunch. It's an old town, so it's amazing some of the things you'll come across...
Me next to the Old Stone Mill. According to historians it was either constructed by Benedict Arnold in the 1600s as a windmill similar to one in his birthplace, Chesterton, England, or a tower built by the Vikings...

A view down a street of the Wharf (the Cookie Jar on the right has AMAZING cookies)

A sidewalk

Like I said, it's amazing what you find...

It was a really fun day and hopefully some of you can come visit and experience Newport for yourself ;)

Hawaiian Feast

If you can't spend Valentine's Day in Hawaii, you might as well eat like you're there. Hawaiian shrimp kabobs were the perfect V-day treat!

Nate manning the grill in the cold

Wine, shrimp kabobs, and grilled sweet potatoes


Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

The super sweet Marine sent his wife flowers! Hope your Valentine's Day is half as wonderful as mine :)


For my darling nephew,

Chesty goes to school...

with your uncle Nathan!

Happy (almost) Birthday, CJ! We love you!

Uncle Nathan and Aunt Jaime

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Cliff Walk

Saturday there was rain in the forecast, but when it hadn't started raining by 11 we decided to go check out the cliff walk. The cliff walk is a 3.5 mile trail that borders the shoreline and runs behind many of Newport's famous mansions (who knew?). And it starts at the beach! We only did the first part because the sky was starting to drip, but I can't wait to go back and see the rest. The views were beautiful even on an overcast day! Here are some pictures from the day.

The beach

The beautiful scenery

Enjoying our walk

The forty steps
(a place where immigrant mansion servants used to spend free time)



On our way up to Rhode Island, while driving up I-95, a metal pipe (?) came flying up from the car in front of us, scratched the hood, broke the front bumper, did Lord only knows what kind of damage underneath, and by the grace of God did not come through the windshield. So the corolla is at the shop for several days and in the meantime we get to drive this little number.

It's a Nissan Versa. It's not a bad car, but we're definitely missing the corolla.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Belts and Medals

Nate has some exciting Marine Corps news that I thought I'd share since he's busy with school...again.

That's the first bit of news, aviation supply school has officially commenced. It's going to be a long, demanding 4 months for our boy, but it'll be spectacular when he finishes. We'll be going back to NC just in time for summer (YAY!) and he'll actually have something to do at work besides twiddle his thumbs.

In other news, last week before we left for Rhode Island Nate tested for the next level belt in MCMAP (Marine Corps Martial Arts Program). He earned the lowest level belt (tan belt) while at TBS in May and has spent the last few months training for the second level belt, the gray belt. Gray belt techniques expand on the tan belt's basic techniques to include:

* intermediate bayonet techniques
* intermediate upper-body strikes including knife-hands (karate chops) and elbow strikes
* intermediate lower-body strikes including kicks, knee strikes, and stomps
* intermediate chokes, joint locks, and throws
* counters to strikes, chokes, and holds
* intermediate unarmed restraints and armed manipulations
* intermediate knife techniques
* basic ground fighting
* intermediate weapons of opportunity

Needless to say, Nate successfully passed his gray belt exam! He thoroughly enjoys MCMAP and would love to work his way up to a black belt, but is happy to have had time to train up a level while waiting for school. I'm super proud of him and glad he made it through with only a few cuts, scrapes, bruises, and one chipped tooth :)

And finally, on January 6th Nate was awarded the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal! This is awarded for direct support in service to the Global War on Terrorism. He's delighted to have something else beside his "ketchup and mustard stain" that is the National Defense Service Medal. These are both medals that basically everyone's getting right now since we're in a war (for the National Defense) and, particularly, fighting in the Global War on Terrorism. But since not many people are too keen on joining the military during a time of war, I think they've earned it!

I am so overwhelmingly proud of my husband!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

* Fun In The Sun * Winter Getaway

I know you all are waiting for pictures and news from our move to Rhode Island and we even have some fun Marine news to share, but you also asked for pictures from our vacation. So that's first.

The whole reason we ended up heading down south was for a wedding. Miami in January? Yes, please! Our Marine friends Stephanie and Ritchey were tying the knot and wanted a sword detail (you know, the arch of swords that the bride and groom walk under). They kindly invited us to share in their special day and Nate was a member of their sword detail. It was an absolutely beautiful wedding that not only celebrated their marriage, but also Ritchey and Nate's 1 year anniversary in the Marine Corps! They left for OCS on January 15, 2010 and the wedding was January 15, 2011. It's crazy to think about everything that's happened in the past year... But back to the wedding, it was BEAUTIFUL! Stephanie was a gorgeous bride and the reception was a blast. Here are some pictures.

The beautiful bride

Sword detail

We figured that if we were going to spend a good bit of money on plane tickets to Miami, then we might as well stay for a while and make a vacation out of it! A cruise out of Miami was just the ticket :)

The rest of my family (my parents, sister, and brother) were trying to plan a family vacation for Mom's 50th birthday and my sister's 21st birthday so we invited them to come along with us. Since Mom really wanted all of us to be together it wasn't hard to convince them to come and we had a truly wonderful family vacation in the western Caribbean.

Here's a recap!

We left out of Miami on Sunday. My family got in and were able to get on the ship without a hitch. Us on the other hand...well we had a sword. Nate had needed it for the wedding the night before and what were we supposed to do with it? We should have called Carnival before we left, but didn't. Oops. Lesson learned. So we had to stand around and ended up being told that we couldn't take it on-board (not surprising), but that they wouldn't hold it either! So... Luckily we had arrived early and they suggested we get a taxi and go find somewhere to mail it home. Someone ended up suggesting that we walk across the street to a place that was known to mail things home for cruise ship staff and passengers who had things they couldn't bring on board. We go over and the guy looks around at his boxes (clearly there's nothing big enough) and then says that he can just hold it for us on his shelf until we get back, he'll give us a receipt, and that he does this all the time. Sketchy. And yet, that's exactly what we did and prayed that it would still be there when we got back...

Monday was a day at sea. We had determined not to worry about the sword for the week and so it was a relaxing day spent reading by the pool. It was also our first formal night.

Tuesday we were in Grand Cayman! It was beautiful when we arrived. The island itself wasn't as pretty as I expected, but the water was breathtaking. Here's our day in pictures.

Beautiful sunrise taking a ferry from the ship to the dock

First on the schedule, we swam with Darwin the dolphin! It was the earliest time slot for this excursion and we were the only ones there! Can you say private session :) We got to pet him, feed him fish, let him kiss our cheek, kiss his nose, and dance with him. We also got to go for two different kinds of rides! The first was to put your upper body on a boogie board, put your legs straight out with your knees locked, and he came up behind you and pushed you forward with his nose on the bottom of your foot. Very speedy and super fun! The second time he swam up to you on his back, you grabbed both of his flippers, and he pulled you along. That one was slower paced, but a little more intimate. Overall it was a wonderful experience and a highlight for everyone.

Next up, we spent some time in a sting ray tank (sorry, no pictures) and then headed across the street to a turtle farm! We got to hold several turtles of varying sizes and see some full grown, very large sea turtles.

Then we headed over to Margaritaville for lunch where Dad took a shot of tequila, DJ had his first legal drink, and Brit and DJ did the cha-cha slide on stage! Fun times.

After lunch Nate and I headed off on our own. We ended up taking the public transportation (basically a 15 passenger van they consider the city bus) to Hell. Yes, that's right. It's a group of short, black, limestone formations in the middle to green, lush Grand Cayman. They have all kinds souvenirs playing on the name, you can mail postcards "sent from Hell", and they will even stamp your passport.


Beautiful waters of Grand Cayman

Wednesday was spent on a beach in Cozumel, Mexico. It was beautiful, drinks were included, there was a water trampoline, an inflated "iceberg" to climb up and jump off of, and snorkeling gear. What more could a person ask for?

Thursday we were in Belize. Nate and I went to the Mayan ruins of Xunantunich (shoo-NAHN-too-nich) while everyone else went snorkeling. The ruins are on the western side of Belize (almost into Guatemala), which meant we got to drive through the country. For some people this means a boring 2 hour bus ride, but for me it was a chance to see the country. The countryside was beautiful and the ruins were cool to see.

We hand to take a hand cranked ferry across the river to get to the ruins

El Castillo, the major pyramid and second tallest structure in Belize

We got to climb to the top of El Castillo! This is something that isn't allowed at ruins in other countries, yay Belize! This was Nate's favorite part of Blize.

My facial expression during my favorite part of Belize. Can you guess what I'm looking at?


Our final stop was at Isla Roatan, an island 40 miles of the coast of Honduras. It was by far the most beautiful countryside. We just spent the day hanging out on the beach right by the port. Dad and Nate did take a cab ride into the closest town, but wouldn't even get out because it was so sketchy.

Saturday was our final day and it was spent at sea. Having had enough sun (I got pretty burnt in Honduras) we stayed inside - watched a movie, played Bingo, and rescued a boat. That's right our ship rescued three Americans and a cat on our way home. The water was really rough that day, we're talking 6-8 foot seas, and it was super windy. Mom, Dad, Nate, and I were sitting by a window enjoying an all chocolate dessert buffet when we spot what appeared to be boat so far out that you could barely see it and realize that we're turning/not moving very fast. Turns out the boat had lost power and was signaling us with mirrors for assistance. After getting clearance from the Coast Guard we pulled up next to the boat and pulled the passengers on board (once the boat got close you could really tell how rough the water was, they were rocking like crazy). Unfortunately, they had to leave the boat behind, but I'm sure they were glad to be rescued.

Sunday we arrived back in port slightly anxious about whether Nate's sword would still be where we left it. We disembarked the ship, got our luggage, went through customs, and needed to catch a bus to the airport sooner rather than later because was had an 11:30am flight. So Nate runs over as soon as he's able and returns empty handed. My stomach sinks. The sword is kind of like a wedding ring. It can be replaced, but it'll never be the original. Turns out they're not open, I can stop having a heart attack. It's a little before 8, they open at 9. Great. Well, we have no other option than to wait and we should still have enough time to catch our flight. I look over a few minutes later and see that the door is open, maybe they're open? So Nate goes back AND...






RETURNS WITH HIS SWORD!!! Thank you, Jesus! What a relief.

We made it to the airport in plenty of time to spare only to have our plane delayed until 5:30pm due to a mechanical issue with the engine and the earliest connecting flight we could make in Atlanta wasn't until 11pm, which put us in Raleigh around 12:30am and we still had a 2.5 hour drive home. Basically we spent all day Sunday waiting around in the airport. But, we did finally make it home around 3am just in time to catch a few hours of sleep before Nate needed to be at work and I had to start packing...

It was a crazy week to follow, but it was wonderful to spend a week with family enjoying one another, God's creation, and relaxing.