What You've Missed - Part 2

BLACK BELTS
In May the kids were awarded their Junior Black Belts in Moo Shin Kwan.

Shelly and Anna put together a wonderful party for Friends and Family to come celebrate with the kids as they were presented with their belts.

Master Lee had the kids put on a demonstration of a wide variety of the skills they had learned over the years.

High Kicks


Board Kicks


Breakin' Boards



Then they were awarded their belts:







Mom and Dad are very proud!

What You've Missed - Part 1

So, I admit, I SERIOUSLY slacked off the past couple of months, so here's what we've been up to since returning from our cruise:

DYLAN GOES ON DATES!
Girl's Choice Dance
While we were out of town, Dylan went to the Tooele High Girl's Choice Dance with Tiffany Wheeler from Stockton.


Junior Prom
The end of April brought about Junior Prom for Dylan. You'll notice he's wearing 2 different ties in the pictures below, the bow tie was one his date, Nichelle Pomeroy, made from the material that her dress was made from.

Before heading to the state capitol building for the dance, they had a day date with 3 other couples at our house. I was DJing a wedding during the day, so Shelly got the chance to play hostess for all the kids. I managed to roll into the driveway just in time to take a few pictures before they left.


We went to see them at the dance, and Kylee was in heaven as she got the chance to get all dressed up for the night.


RYLAN HAD A BIRTHDAY

It's hard to believe our little "Ry Guy" turned 12. He had a "Friends" party the day before where they ate cupcakes and played Rock Band all afternoon.



After a long Fun-Filled Day the girls tucked him into bed

On the morning of his Birthday Kylee held the cake as woke up up with the traditional singing of Happy Birthday.


For his actual Birthday he wanted dinner at Tepanyaki's.

The Sanity Saving Getaway

Day 1 - April 1, 2011

I have to say, if you have ever considered working an 11 hour day, coming home a few hours, then going back and working all night, coming home, taking a quick shower then heading to the airport for a 7am flight... DON'T!

Shelly and I learned that we both need a good night's sleep!

We started our adventure as we arrived in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. We had just completed 7hours worth of travel and were tired and hungry. But, considering that it was beautifully sunny and a wonderful 82 degrees, we were still in really good spirits.

Our first stop was our hotel. This was where I learned that not every photo on a website is 100% what it seems. I had booked us what looked like a quaint little artsy place in the design district of Miami, and, while the pictures of the building and it's inner courtyard were technically accurate... It did't convey the age of both the building as well as the neighborhood. The room was rather small, the "queen" bed was more a full, and the flat screen TV was really an older CRT unit with the flat front, not a new LCD style. I also loved the fact I had to place a deposit on the key as well as the TV remote.

We headed over to the city of Miami Beach to go eat some dinner (lunch really since we hadn't eaten in 8 hours) and try and do some shopping and go to the beach. If you've never been to Miami Beach I would HIGHLY encourage you do some sort of plan of attack in advance!

We got over to the Miami Beach area and quickly learned that we couldn't find a restaurant to save our lives. (as hungry as were at this point it was a literal comparison) we drove down the road just a block from the actual beach and only found hotel after hotel. We found what looked like a little Mexican restaurant next to a parking garage and decided to try our luck. The parking was actually for an outdoor shopping area nearly 12 blocks long. We finally got to eat, The restaurant we picked was the first Italian place we came to. We were so hungry we didn't take time to get picky. (I love how this picture totally conveys how we were both feeling at the time!)

I made a big mistake here, the waiter had rattled off the daily specials and a sea bass dish sounded good. The mistake came in not asking what the cost of the dish was. While it was good, I would not have said it was worth $38.


We wandered around the mall area and found absolutely nothing. It was more like 80% restaurants and 20% higher end shops. We gave up on shopping there and got our car. This is where the next shocker came as we go hit with a $15 parking fee. We figured that the day was a bust, so looked on the GPS for a Target near our motel, went there to get a few things, learned about a huge mall a couple miles away (planned on going there in the morning), headed back to sleep off our day and start fresh tomorrow.

Day 2 - April 2, 2011

I woke much refreshed! I was fortunate to sleep like a rock since I had only gotten 20 minutes of sleep in the 2 days prior. Since Shelly can always sleep later than I do, I sat in the patio area and chilled in the 80 degree weather and was very happy I was finally on a relaxing getaway!

I decided to take a couple pics of the motel, and run and get Shelly her morning Diet Pepsi.

I also got to experience some great customer service! My Blackberry had died on the plane from Phoenix to Ft. Lauderdale and the all-in-one charger I had for phones, IPods, etc. wasn't charging it. I went to the front desk hoping I could plug it into a computer to just see if it was the charger or the actual phone. The girl at the desk said I couldn't do that (I understand from a security point of view); but she then offered to let me use her personal car charger. That was an amazing act of service and fortunately it did charge the phone.



We got ready and headed out to get something to eat and finally do some shopping. You'd think we would have learned our lesson by now.

As we got to the Mall we had seen last night we decided to try the cafe that had a big front on the mall. Apparently getting to the mall at 10am is the wrong time if you want to eat. We didn't want to just go to the food court, we wanted a sit down breakfast before heading to the ship.

We walked up and down this ginormous mall hitting closed restaurant after closed restaurant. We were hungry to the point of grumpy and in no mood to shop! We finally ended back up at the food court and got something to make us both less grumpy and on the mood to actually shop.

This was the most amazing part of the day... I not only went shopping willingly, but found a bunch of stuff I liked, and bought some pants, shorts, and shirts while Shelly got A shirt. That never happens!

Because of the time we had wasted trying to find food we didn't get to shop too long before we had to return the car and catch a shuttle headed to the Port of Miami.

Once we got on the ship Life was Good! We immediately put on swim suits and headed on deck to sit in the sun and soak up the rays. We had a good view of South Beach while we were waiting for the ship to leave.

Shelly and I decided that we wanted to dress up a little for the dinners, so headed to the shops to see what they might have, and Shelly found a cute black dress (a miracle in itself), I found a dressy shirt, and we got to go dinner.

I'll be a bit more critical of dinner only because I have heard nothing but how fancy a ship dining room is. The food was actually very good, the chef had prepared a good variety. The appetizers seemed small at first, but the more I thought about it, that was only supposed to be a small portion; we tend to make overly large portions of everything we eat. The main course was delicious and the deserts, while limited in selection, were good as well. I guess I struggled with the wait staff using improper forms and procedures in the service if dinner. I'll admit it's me being picky, but when you have an expectation, it's disappointing when it's not met.

We share a table with 2 couples, one from Minneapolis and the other from Sao Paulo. Both seem nice and we had pleasant conversation all evening.

My next disappointment came when I went to the club for 80's night. I, again, expected too much! Apparently my idea of a club DJ is different that the ship's. I could only stay through 2 transition trainwrecks before I had to leave. Lucky for Shelly I hadn't actually talked her into going with me.


Day 3 - April 3, 2011

There's just something amazing about being able to start the day at 8am sitting by a pool in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean listening to a book on my IPod.

The first full day of our journey by boat was a day at sea, so we did a whole lot of nothing.

I took this picture over the side of the ship since I never get over just how blue the water is in the middle of the Atlantic.

Since it was "Formal" night at the restaurant, and I didn't bring a suit, we ate at the buffet and headed to to the show.



Day 4 - April 4, 2011

The ship pulled into Ocho Rios, Jamaica. It was a GORGEOUS sunny day!






We had no definitive plan for our stop here. We figured we'd go ashore and wander around a bit. As we were headed into town we were accosted by a small tide of guys asking to take us around. We politely refused several, but this one guy, Oneil, managed to talk us into taking his personal tour of the area, not charging us "an arm and a leg" like the ship, more like just an "arm." We settled on $30 a piece and were off. He drove us through the main section of town, telling us about the life he leads as a Jamaican. Shelly did a great job getting all sorts of good inf;o comparing life there versus in the States. The schools here apparently have the kids only go 4 hours per day with 2 shifts per day (like we do with half day kindergarten, an AM and a PM class.)

He drove us up the Fern Gulley which was a densely overgrown road up to the top of one of the mountains. That was an amazingly beautiful ride.

At the top we stopped to take a couple photos with the gorgeous island green in the background, also there were a few vendors trying to push their wares.

One of them (the guy below) showed me his own invention called the Jamaican Fiddle. I saw this and instantly knew that we had to bring it home for Rylan. It's carved from a single piece of bamboo. He even carved "Made in Jamaica 2011" on it. (Photos of Rylan obviously taken after we got home.)


Shelly got a bracelet and small purse for Kylee from one of the ladies. (If you open the picture full screen you can see how poor the conditions are from the shacks in the background.)


On the way back down, we stopped again to take a couple pictures, then I stuck my arm out the window to video capture just how green an pretty it was. (Sorry for the shakiness of the video, but it was sitting on the roof of the car)



video

Along the way we saw a guy "eating fire" then the fool would use a mouth full of diesel fuel to spit fireballs, fun to watch, but still crazy!

video

We journeyed to the top of another mountain to take some pictures overlooking the city of Ocho Rios, it was a stunning view!



We had been told that the "Must See" attraction in the area was the Dunn's River Falls. Our driver said he would take us to it if we liked, (and have to pay the overpriced fee), or he said we could take a "peek" there and he would take us to a waterfall he takes his family to that we could climb up and enjoy with no admission fee. We said GREAT, so he took us to a spot with a "peek hole" in the fence and I snapped a shot through the opening.


Then we went to a beautiful waterfall. There were a few guys there to guide, and we had the nicest man giving us a tour. He helped Shelly up the falls, and took a few pictures of us together.


You can't tell in the first photo, but the bay is off in the distance behind the hammock. As we were climbing up the falls I saw these old stairs and had to take a photo.


This was our guide



Our driver grabbed Shelly a flower and she looked sooo pretty with it in her ear.


Our driver took us to some of the smaller shops (one where his girlfriend worked) and we picked up a few souvenirs. My favorite was the beautiful dress, that she wore to dinner that evening.

The whole tour took 3-4 hours, it was amazing, and we couldn't have asked for a better experience.

Back onboard we did something relaxing. Shelly drank a Diet Coke and I got a foot massage.



Dinner with my beautiful wife.



Day 5 - April 5, 2011
I woke to a beautiful sunrise!


Soon, we stopped outside Georgetown in the Cayman Islands...

To say we were disappointed with the city would be an understatement. We had LOVED Jamaica as it was a small, authentic, everything we had imagined towns in the Caribbean would be. (We also based it a bit on our visit to Nassau in the Bahamas.) This was a majorly developed city. It honestly felt like pulling into Miami.

That being said, we were looking forward to our scheduled outings for the day.

We piled into an old converted school bus and headed out to get on a charter boat.
Once on the boat Shelly saw a flag flying with a "U" on it.

It was an amazing view on the ride out to the reef.




Snorkling...









Shelly had never snorkeled before, and she thought it was really fun. She said she struggled with getting the breathing down, but really had fun. I also love this, and am looking forward to getting Scuba certified this summer.

From the reef, we headed over to hang out with the Sting Rays...

These are gentle creatures that are used to humans being around.



I even managed to get a Sting Ray Massage!


We capped off the day with a fresh coconut drink. I've raved about getting these when I lived in Hawaii, and Shelly had to try it. Shelly didn't love it, and I'm sure it's because it wasn't filled with ice.


Day 6 - April 6, 2011

This was another day at sea. I had managed to get thoroughly sunburned, so we didn't spend much time in the sun. We did a LOT of relaxing during the day.

We had a Sushi snack...

Then went to the final "show" on the ship before heading to dinner.


Our Waiters were very nice, and I'll admit managed to ramp up the service meter towards the end of the cruise.


Day 7 - April 7, 2011
It's hard to believe that it came to an end so quickly. We will definitely look back on this trip and smile! We had a nice room, and I don't think we'll not get a window in the future.




Once we got off the ship, we grabbed our rental car and headed towards Ft. Lauderdale to do some shopping. We managed to hit 2 malls, got some killer deals on clothes, and had to over-stuff our carry-ons and backpack before heading to the airport to come back home.

Plane rides are not too bad, but we were NOT prepared to step off the plane (having boarded it in 86 degree weather) wearing shorts, t-shirts, and flip flops into a freaking snow storm. WTH?
Dylan managed to get us home in one piece, and both Shelly and I wanted to leave. It's now too cold!

We've decided that we're going to take a trip like this every year!