Friday, July 22, 2011

Cruise 2011

We were blessed to get to go on a week-long cruise with my family in June. It was a full week and we made lots of fun memories. The best part, of course, was getting so much quality time with my family.

Our cruise left from Galveston on Melia's 1st birthday... which is quite handy because the cruise port is only about an hour and a half from my parent's house. So we all trekked down there in 3 cars (there were 9 adults and 4 kids in our party) and boarded the Carnival Conquest bound for the Bahamas and Key West.

We settled all 5 of us into our room which had two bunk beds, a double bed and a pack and play. We were packed in :) Lots of family togetherness! The kids loved sleeping on the bunks and Oliver (in true Oliver fashion) quickly learned the layout of the boat and was our elevator button pusher and navigator the rest of the trip. Wonder where he gets that from? Oh, right. The lady who didn't feel like she was truly settled until she got her hands on a boat map and studied it for 5 minutes. That lady.

On the glass elevator

Our room

We enjoyed lots of yummy dinners which lasted about 2 hours each time. My kids got pretty used to sitting that long but there were a lot of ups and downs from the table. We had so many in our party that we had two tables and we rotated who sat where. Oliver enjoyed sitting at the opposite table from us as much as he could. While I could start freaking out that he's already embarrassed to be seen with his parents, I truly attribute it to loving his family and wanting to spend as much time with them as possible (especially you Bossy!)

Natty + Gabby = Best Friends

You can see Melia's little Bahama braid if you look closely

The Hulse Family on one of the two "dress up" nights

The Steve & Carol Beck Family!

On Board

We enjoyed attending shows, playing games, ping pong, mini-golf, movies, exploring, game shows, trivia shows, and much more during our time on board. We were even able to put the kids to bed at night and use baby monitors to monitor them from my sister's room next door. We took turns "monitoring" while the rest of us explored the boat, attended shows etc. It was nice to have them sleeping and get some time to do things without kids.


The service you receive on board is not matched anywhere else I have ever been. Free room service, a room steward who cleans your room and makes your beds every day, not to mention NEVER having to cook. It was truly a vacation in that sense!

Oliver with one of the towel animals the room steward would leave for us each night.

At the Beach

We had a beach day at both of our Bahamas stops. We were also able to do a lot of shopping which made all of the women happy. Getting off of the boat was fun and eye-opening, but also exhausting. All of the girls (including Melia) got their hair braided on the beach in Nassau. We also rode jet skis that day and some of our group road a banana boat the next day.

Bossy made these girls into mermaids! Gabby was in heaven!

Bossy and Emily and our boat

Melia and Daddy checking out the view of Key West

Camp Carnival

One of the highlights of the week for our kids was Camp Carnival. It was a kids club filled with toys, songs, crafts, games, music, etc. They LOVED it there and enjoyed the few hours they got to spend their each day. Mommy and Daddy took that opportunity to rest with Melia which was so nice. The got to have their faces painted multiple times and participate in a talent show on our last day on the boat!

There were many opportunities for professional photographs while we were on board and we definitely took advantage. We got some great family pictures!

Old-timey Sistahs!

We were happy to be home when all was said and done, but enjoyed the time we were able to dedicate to connecting with our whole family that week. Thank you Mom & Dad for your generosity and for your dedication to our family! We love you all!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Happy Birthday Melia!

Well folks we have a one-year old! While it is hard to believe my little girl is already one, it is getting harder every day to remember life before this sweet, smiley girl. This lucky girl got to have two birthday parties leading up to the big day and set sail for a week-long cruise on her actual birthday!

We are so thankful for her content nature. She is adored by her older siblings (although they are slowly forgetting how to be gentle with her). She likes to eat early in the morning (around 5am) and then goes back to sleep until around 8:30. I am asked many mornings a week by her doting siblings, "Mom, when is Melia going to wake up? Can we go in and get her?"

She is also quite the climber. She loves climbing up in her sisters pink arm chair. We've also found her in various places like the top of the kids picnic table, the shelves of book cases, and the most recent stuck on the bottom rung of the kids bunk bed not able to go up or down! Thankfully she has learned quickly the phrase "go backward" and can usually get herself down safely off of stairs or any thing she has made into a stair case to satisfy her climbing nature. Neither of the other two were really climbers, but I fully expect to keep finding her in other random, high, scary places as she gets older!

We were thrilled to get to see her take her first steps yesterday! Such a precious moment that we got to share together as a family. And in true Oliver fashion, he has continued to announce so proudly each time he has seen her take a step since. Kind of like he used to announce, "Melia's awake!" when she was an infant, and "she rolled over" when she learned to roll, and "she crawled" when she was learning to crawl. He is one proud brother.

Here is our big one year old!

Below are some pictures of the other kids at one year. I love comparing pictures and seeing the family resemblance.





Her first celebration was with Matt's parents, or Granna and Papa as they are better known around our house!

We got her a water table to play in outside which she loves. Her siblings are always eager to help her use it!

It was also Father's Day, so we attempted a picture with the kids and their daddy in their "I heart Dad" shirts.

The climber in action

Papa and Daddy entertained Melia with some baseball while Granna got to hold the birthday girl

We were so thrilled to be able to celebrate Melia again with my entire family! We had a swimming party at my parent's house and loved every minute!

Melia and her cousin McKinley

Pepe and McKinley

Aunt Emmy and Uncle Bossy

Aunt Beg Beg, cousin McKinley, and Uncle Travis

Aunt Natty

And of course there are no pictures of me or my mom during this party... since we were running around making it all happen. But we were there too :) Isn't that how it always is with moms... love you Mom!

Happy Birthday to our sweet baby girl. Your smile and happy nature light up our lives. We are so thankful for the blessing of you and can't wait to watch you grow up. We love you!