Saturday, January 28, 2012

Cruisin... and Singin...

This January we went on a cruise with the Portugals. We planned this cruise a long time ago. It was great that it finally had arrived. Our cruise was 5 days long on the Allure of the Seas. The Allure of the Seas is the largest ship in the world. It is only 2 inches bigger than its sister ship, the Oasis of the Seas.  It sailed from January 3rd to January 8th.  The last time we had been on a cruise was in June 2008 (for our honeymoon!). We had two stops on the cruise: 1 in Jamaica, and 1 in Haiti.

We definitely had a great time. The first day we drove to Ft. Lauderdale. Since we had a suite we got to be in the expedited line to get through all the lines. It was great! I was really excited to use my camera for the first time on the cruise. I definitely played around with it a bit.

I was debating whether I should order this blog post in consecutive order or by topic. I think that by topic will work best, so bear with me as I jump around.

Here are some pictures of our room, the ship, and just our first day. There was a zipline on the cruise that Andre had to try out immediately.. haha! I used my new camera to capture some/most of these pictures (oh ya, btw I am going to scatter random pictures throughout):

There were a ton of different shows on this cruise. We went to all of them (for the most part). They had a Broadway quality performance of Chicago which was phenomenal. When I say Broadway quality I mean it…. It was fabulous! There was a show called Blue Planet as well, that was good. It was very abstract. My favorite show though was the Oceanaria! It was in the Aqua Theatre outside. Basically it was a diving show. One diver dove one after another into a pool. At the very end of the show they had these high divers. I can’t even explain how high these divers jumped from. It literally scared me to death. I wonder how many people pee their pants when they see that! Haha! I am pretty sure the divers say their prayers right before they jump! Anyway, it was definitely jaw dropping.

We saw a few smaller performances in the ice theatre. Ya, that’s right they had an ice rink! Did we go ice skating… you bet we…didn’t hahah!! Got ya there didn’t I? Anyway, you had to wear helmets the entire time, and since.. well I don’t want to get lice… I said “no thanks”. There was this one show in the ice theatre called the Quest (they put the cover on the ice for this so that it became a normal floor). I didn’t really want to go to this  show but Ivan pushed me. Boy am I glad I did!!!! This show was HILARIOUS … Basically it worked like this, the cruise director stood in the middle of the rink. Teams of two (audience members) stood around the perimeter of the rink. The audience was around the rink. Your team representatives were the two individuals on the rink in front of where you were sitting. The cruise director would then call out random items like “I need, your team number… and…. Piece of fruit!”. Then people from the audience would help out. People were handing their team reps their fruit from their pina coladas and daiquiris. You had to be creative! Then came the PG-13 stuff. This just made the game even funnier. The cruise director said “I need your team number and….two women’s bras…not being worn”. You wouldn’t believe how fast women from the audience got their bras off from under their dresses, shirts etc. We also had some other shockers such as, a man wearing womens lipstick, something fake, a piercing not in your ears, etc. The piercing one was really funny because on our team one girl was being pressured by her family to go.. and she kept running halfway down the stair and then turning back. She finally went down there and we all found out why she was hesitant. She was wearing a dress… and she had a belly button piercing. She covered her panties with her hand and lifted her dress to show the piercing.. now that is dedication to your team! I couldn’t believe it. But, if you can believe it.. that was not the biggest shocker. The biggest one was when he said… “I need your team number and two guys pants …not being worn”. Guys ran up to the cruise director and dropped their pants faster than you could say “ wowIdidntwanttoseethat”. Then he made them all stand in a line. However, the cruise director couldn’t help notice one guy standing there with his team number card being held strategically over his “Princess Sophia”. Anyway, the cruise director was like “no no no….  put your pants back on!”. This guy had gone commando!!!!!! Then the cruise director’s assistant told the audience that she thought it was only fair that if the guys had to stand up there with their pants down, then he should have to as well. So, down went the cruise director’s pants! It was hilarious! The whole audience was cracking up!

So now lets move on to shore excursions… (I thought about saying “now on with the show..” but ya decided I would spare you from my corniness). In Jamaica, we had paid for a horseback riding excursion. We took a bus to the horse area. Now, this was not just a normal horseback riding excursion… this was a horseback ride and swim! The first part of our adventure was a nature trail. To my dismay, they required us to wear helmets. I had ridden horses quite a few times and I was not looking forward to the helmet. As you can assume based on my comment above… I was praying asking God that I would not get lice!... eesh. I was super nervous. I will have to say though, it was a good thing they require helmets. About 5 minutes into the ride, this poor little Asian women fell off her horse!!! She was trying to get a pictures.. and well didn’t “hang on”. I can understand her difficulty though. These weren’t western saddles and they didn’t have horns on them to hold on to. Anyway, the nature trail was not why we bought this excursion.  After we got off the horses, we all changed into our bathing suits. The we mounted the horses again. These were different horse which special saddles (they basically were just mats on the back of a horse with a strap to hold on to. Then into the ocean we went. Basically the horses ran in the ocean with us on their backs. It was so neat! The water came up to the horses’ necks. We were about waist deep in the water. It was such a unique experience. Sadly, I don’t have any pictures because 1) I was not going to risk my camera in the water, and 2) the pictures the excursion staff took were not good enough to purchase.

Our second stop was in Labadee, Haiti. We didn’t do any shore excursions at this location because none of them seemed interesting. Royal Caribbean has a special beach here just for cruise guests. It was pretty nice. We laid out on the beach and just chilled. Nothing more than that… it was nice. Clearly we took a lot of pictures!

One of my favorite activities on the cruise was (as it always is) karaoke! We went to karaoke every night. I even built up a mini fan group. It was funny when people would walk by and be like “there is the singer from last night”. One guy actually came to every karaoke and even offered to buy Ivan and me drinks.  One of my favorite karaoke nights was when they had a live band instead of just a karaoke machine. I may post some videos of that on here later.

Well that was pretty much the cruise!! It was super fun and a great little “break”. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

New Years Resolution!

Happy New Year! Ya… I know that is pretty late. Either way, you can’t blame me (too much).. I was out of town. After the Christmas holiday, we packed up the car (with my parents) and drove to Orlando, FL. My parents dropped us at the Portugals (Ivan’s parents) house and they continued on to Jupiter, FL to be with my sister.

When we were in Orlando we got to spend some time with friends, including Chris Turner and his wife to be, Ricky, Andrew and Erin, Milano, and Sean. We definitely had a fun time reuniting. I also got to spend some time with my roommate from college Kristin. I was surprised we recognized each other, since she has blonde hair now and I have red hair!

We were in Orlando for a cruise. On the 3rd of January we drove with the Portugals to Ft Lauderdale to go on the Allure of the Seas (the biggest ship in the world-by 2 inches). I will blog about this later as I have a ton of pictures. 

Anyway, time for New Year’s Resolutions. This year I have quite a few:

  1. Get to my goal weight and get healthy
  2. Actually make some progress on my ministry blog
  3. Start my photography business (or at least become proficient in photography and photoshop)
  4. Write one thing I am thankful for-I have already purchased a book to do this in, and have started
  5. Pick up my clothes every night. (Ivan wants me to do this)
I didn’t do too well with my prior year resolutions. I am hoping to do better this year. Typically busy season crushes any enthusiasm I have for my resolutions in the first few months of the year, but not this year (more about this later).

What are your New Year’s resolutions?!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Christmas Morning and cookies!!

Christmas this year was so great. It was so nice to have my family at my house for the actual day. We made Chile Rellano pie together for breakfast. It was delicious as always. We used one different ingredient this year though…. GLUTEN FREE BISQUICK! You never would have known the difference. It made me so happy! Before Christmas we did a lot of baking. My parents made fudge and toffee candy. This stuff is so good (and naturally gluten free).We gave a lot of this as gifts to people. I also spent an entire day making my annual Christmas cookies. Last year I made these ornament cookies. This year I made snowflakes… I don’t know about you but I am in love with them (oh ya… and btw they are gluten free!).

We got some fabulous gifts from my parents this year. They definitely gave us more than they should have.  One of my favorite gifts from them was the Roomba! I am so happy to have this. I found out recently that I have  a SEVERE allergy to dust mites. This is not a typical allergy. Lets just put it this way, I had a mini-asthma attack from the allergy TEST for dust mites. Anyway, we have purchased so much dust mite bedding. The Roomba has already been a life saver. Harmony’s fur has been a mess lately, and  the Roomba has taken care of that.

We also got a bread maker (to make fresh gluten free bread) and a Soda Stream to make our own fresh (and all natural) cream soda. We have used that Soda Stream sooooo much already. I love it. We also used the bread maker to make some delicious French bread.

There were a couple big gifts that Ivan and I gave to each other. Ivan’s main gifts this year were clothes and a large tool box. I also got him a BIG surprise gift. I got him an ASUS laptop that he has been wanting. He really didn’t have a laptop of his own. It was the biggest surprise!

Ivan got me one big gift, a DSLR camera. I really have been wanting to start up a photography business. I really like doing it, and I think that it would be a great side business once I have kids etc. Right now I am just practicing with my camera, and learning photoshop. Once I make some money with this camera (I hope), I will probably upgrade to an even better camera. I am very excited about this!

Harmony also got some Christmas gifts… yummy treats! She is in love with them!  

We had an awesome Christmas. We truly were blessed. Did you have any favorite gifts this Christmas?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Holiday Update---ya I know its late!

I know it has been a very long time since I have blogged. What can I say, the holidays hit and it has been a whirlwind. I am currently writing a few blog posts to let you know what has been going on the last few months. Yes, I know, Christmas is long gone, but bear with me as I blog about it (there is a lot!).

In November, we went to see Dralion with some of Ivan’s work friends. It was a great show. I had only seen the La Nouba show in Orlando, so it was definitely a treat.

Sunday November 11th, we went to the Via Colori art festival because Ivan was playing with his friend’s band “The Literary Greats”. It was definitely a fun day to just relax and listen to the music. Although it definitely was WINDY! That same day we also found out that someone had hit our car (and of course, they did NOT leave a note). So that began the fun process of getting the car fixed in the middle of the holidays.

Thanksgiving was great. The morning started off early, as I had to dry out the bread for the stuffing. Since the meal had to be gluten free, I had to make my own stuffing fresh from gluten free bread. It is pretty easy to do this though. Last year, I wanted to make organic stuffing so I ended up making it all myself anyway. You just heat the oven to 400, and then turn it off. Then stick the cubes of bread on a cookie sheet in the oven. It will dry the bread out very quickly.

That morning we met up with my Uncle Russell and Aunt Reba (who live in the same subdivision as us!) to go to the HEB holiday parade. It was super fun! I loved watching the different floats and dancers. My favorite dancers were the high kickers. Wow! Super impressive. If you haven’t been to the parade it is definitely something to check out.

After the parade it was just a matter of cooking the food and eating. We definitely had some trial and error with the turkey. It just would NOT cook. Either way, it was a great time to socialize and just enjoy each other’s company.

The week after Thanksgiving, my parents arrived for the Christmas season.  This Christmas was the first year we actually had it at our house in Texas. My sister couldn’t attend because she was due to give birth in January. Either way, it was great to celebrate with my parents.

The first real activity of the Christmas season for me was the Houston’s First Women’s Holiday Banquet. I went with my good friend Cheryl. We sat at her work’s table which was decorated with red birds (it was so pretty). It was such a fun time and speaker was AMAZING.

On the weekend, we planned to go down to Dickens on the Strand again (like we did last year). However, none of us felt like going. Instead, we all went to the Galleria mall to do some last minute Christmas shopping. This was super fun too. I went with my dad and Ivan went with my mom. After that we drove to Galveston for the Moody Garden Festival of Lights. We did this last year and it was definitely fun. We probably won’t go again as many of the lights didn’t change from the prior year.

We went with my family to the Houston Heritage Society Candlelight Tour. This was great! It was a lot of fun. We walked around, listened to the carolers and went in the different houses. We didn’t get any pictures of this because it was dark out and we were too busy enjoying ourselves…heehee.

The next day we had Ivan’s company’s Christmas party. It was so much fun! This was probably one of the best Christmas parties I have been too. The party had a Casino Night theme. Every person had a bucket of chips (at no cost of course).They had multiple games. At the end of the night, everyone cashed in their chips for raffle tickets. These raffle tickets could be put in a variety of different gift bags. Ivan actually won a prize! It was a stack of old board games like Twister, Operation, Battleship, etc. That night the majority of the people stayed at the hotel (Hotel ZaZa). It was a lot of fun, and I can’t wait for next year’s party. Here is a picture of us before we left.

Bear with me, I have two more holiday events to go! The next event we went to was one I had really been looking forward to, the Houston Ballet. I have seen the Nutcracker now in California, Florida, DC, Illinois, and Texas. Although it is hard to remember all of them, I think the one in Texas is definitely one of the best. I really enjoyed the show and will be going every year if I can. J

The day before Christmas eve, we concluded our events with a Transiberian Orchestra concert! We have been going to these concerts for over 10 years. My dad is a member of the fan club and he pretty much gets the best tickets ever. We sat 6 rows from the front. In prior years we have been the 2nd or 3rd rows. I really love this group. A few of the band members have changed since prior years but they really have been able to maintain the quality of the show. This was a great finale for the Christmas season.

I will give you a break from this ridiculously long blog entry! I will write a new entry about Christmas and Christmas Eve.