Monday, September 28, 2009

Vacation Days 3-4: Aboard Adventure of the Seas

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On Day 3 of our vacation we woke up at our hotel in Old San Juan (Caribe Hilton) and had a light breakfast at the Starbucks in our hotel. Then it was time to pack up our things and bring the rental car back before catching a cab to the pier.
The adult pool and spas.
The main pools and hottubs.
The captian and co-captian's perches on the ship.
When we arrived at the pier we went through the security line which was fairly quick and boarded the boat where we promptly settled in for a nice lunch in the Windjammer Cafe while we waited for our cabin to be ready. After eating we explored the boat (which was laid out exactly like the boat we took on our honeymoon- Voyager of the Seas), found our dining room table, played some mini golf, and then headed for our cabin on Deck 9.
The main dining hall as seen from the 3rd story. We sat on the first floor.
The mini golf course at the front of the ship.
Our cabin was a junior suite just like we had on our honeymoon with sitting area, a real tub with shower in the bathroom (for those that have never cruised before- normally you get a shower stall that leaks all over the bathroom), and a balcony. As a special treaty for my husband on our anniversary trip I got him a special romance package so we were greeted with chocolate covered strawberries and non-alcoholic champagne for our own sail away party. Later in the cruise we also enjoyed petit fours, breakfast in bed, and some canapes on the first formal night as part of the package. We were also very impressed that our luggage was in our room at 2pm when we first got there. It never even had to wait in the hallway, which is a rarity!
The Promenade deck on our boat
After dinner in the main dining hall we explored the boat some more and hit the sack early as we both were exhausted. On Monday we had a day at sea. After a delicious breakfast in the Windjammer we hit the adult pools to relax, read, and soak in the sun. Later on we had lunch again at the Windjammer and then went to the arcade and played some air hockey before getting ready for the first formal night. The show after dinner that night was a tribute to the Temptations and it was actually really good! I even got a short video clip of the song "My Girl".
We clean up pretty good!
video
Next stop: Barbados

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Vacation Days 1-2: Puerto Rico

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A.R's family is from Puerto Rico and quite a few of his aunts, uncles, and cousins still live there on both his mom's and dad's side of the family. He hadn't been to the island since highschool nor ever with a girl let alone his new wife, so his mom of course called her sister when she found out we would be staying there before our cruise to tell them we'd be visiting. We spent the evening on Saturday with them and I must say the mountains they live in Cidra are absolutely gorgeous.
The coastline of San Juan
The hills of Cidra as seen from Alexi's Aunt's front porch
The island is beautiful and our hotel (Caribe Hilton) was by far one of the best I've stayed in. The view from the open-air lobby was to die for: one of the hotel's several pools followed by the crystal clear blue ocean on the horizon. Our room also had a view of the ocean and of one of the forts in Old San Juan. The weekend we were there the hotel was hosting basketball teams from all over South America for a tournament. We rode in the elevator several times with some players from Venezuela and I have to say that my almost 6' husband looked like a teeny speck standing next to them.
Our hotel lobby

Life size connect 4 at our hotel! They also had a life size chess set.
We arrived early Friday afternoon and checked into the hotel before venturing out to find lunch on the cobblestone streets of Old San Juan. We found a nook in the wall bistro and had a delicious lunch but the dessert was to die for...traditional Spanish flan laid over chocolate cake. Heaven. Then we went back to the hotel and ventured to the private beach complete with beach lounges and cabanas. After a swim in the warm ocean we discovered our hotel had a grove of palm trees with at least a dozen hammocks for the guests to lay on. We took full advantage of them during our stay!
The streets of Old San Juan look just like Barcelona from our honeymoon
On Saturday we woke up and had a delicious breakfast at the hotel's restaurant before hitting the pool and hammocks again. For lunch we ordered burgers poolside as a passing thunderstorm rolled through. Then we got ready to drive to Cidra to visit with Alexi's aunt and some cousins from his mother's side of the family. We ended up having to start the drive in the pouring rain which was no small feet with the flooding highways and scary drivers on the road with us. During our short stay in Puerto Rico we saw at least a half dozen accidents on the highways- all of them were rear ended cars. Signals are not used at all in San Juan and you WILL be cut off while going 60 down the highway. I also still kick myself for not getting a picture of the Puerto Rican horse "trailer" as we drove down the highway...it was the smallest Mazda pickup truck you can picture with a horse basically in the bed of the truck tethered to the cab. One sharp turn and that horse was a goner!
Heavenly nap spot for a pregnant lady who loves the beach!
The visit with Alexi's family went well. Their homes were nestled on a mountain in beautiful Cidra and they were all very welcoming towards me despite the language barrier. On his Aunt's property there were HUGE avocados growing wild along with bread fruit, bananas, papaya, coconut, and star fruit (which we tried straight off the tree!). They also raise their own chickens for eggs and meat and had a pet cow as well. It figures that I traveled all the way to Puerto Rico hoping for some really good home cooking (much like Alexi's mom cooks here) only to have her make lasagna and potato salad because A.R.'s aunt called his mom to find out what I liked! It was a sweet gesture, though, and I did get to have my favorite tostones (smashed plantains just before ripe- fried) and spanish rice to go along with it. ;)
The anniversary couple in Cidra- doesn't the background look fake?! It's not!

Us with Alexi's cousins, aunt, and uncle

Sunday morning we ate breakfast at Starbucks in our hotel and then packed our things up to return the rental car and begin our journey aboard the cruise ship Adventure of the Seas! Our stay in Puerto Rico was the perfect start to our vacation and just as relaxing as we had hoped. I hope to visit again more in the years to come.
I LOVE vacation!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Let the Landscaping Begin!

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It's going to be a slow process, but the landscaping of our yard has officially begun! When we moved into our home our builder had only cleared a small portion of our lot and seeded (basically enough to appease the inspectors and to show the "buildable" portion of our lot). They surrounded this area with lovely black tarps to prevent erosion while the new grass grew.
A view of our home & yard from the farthest corner of our property.
A.R. and I had been debating whether or not to get the rest of our lot mowed or not as we knew it would be quite a bit more work for him come next spring/summer especially with a newborn. Curiosity about the true size of our lot got the best of us and we started exploring our options. We spoke with the company that's been spraying our yard for ticks all summer and fertilizing the small patches of grass we do have and come to find out they had the equipment necessary to mow and finish the last piece of our lot. Also, we learned that the best time to seed and start a new lawn in New England is right NOW! We got some quotes and took the plunge and holy crap were we surprised...

A good portion of the newly mowed section. The row of bushes in the background were planted by our builder, but got completely buried in brush this summer.

It's hard for me to visualize distances and square footage unless it's just right there in front of me to eye. I knew where the stakes were on our lot as we walked them many times before moving in, but the ones marking the back corner have long since been buried beneath waist high grass, weeds, and wildlife. When I crested the hill and looked behind our house last Wednesday I was shocked to see our yard mowed. I walked it with Tomas and he promptly settled in and took a dump in the middle (I think he knows it's his play ground now!) with a lowered jaw from shock. Our yard is a lot bigger then I had envisioned it! I love it and so does A.R. until he realized how much he'll be mowing next year!!

Another view from the farthes stake of our side yard.


He's just about convinced me to cave in and let him get that inground pool he wants, so he has less lawn to mow. I know how much work pools are, too, so I still hesitate a bit and of course it won't happen until our kids are older and wiser (I'm terrified of a toddler falling in and drowning even with a fence). This first mowing was just the beginning. The landscapers will be mowing and raking the area two more times before laying a herbivore down to kill the weeds and garbage out there. Then they'll aerate our whole lawn (new and old portion) and reseed the whole thing. Then it's up to us to water religiously and pray to the grass gods we get some awesome regrowth in the springtime. Next on our list of yard work: replace the dying tree in the front yard (after the builder digs it up) with a dogwood my Grandmother is getting for us and start exploring decks for the back of the house.
A portion of our yard as seen from our walk-out basement.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

I'm A Big Kid Now!

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Lily is growing up so fast. She is now 5 1/2 months and just about as big as Tomas. She'll definitely end up a bit bigger then he is when she's fully grown. On Friday we took her for her first grooming and now she looks less "puppy" and so grown up! She's got a busy couple of weeks coming up. This Wednesday she goes in to get spayed :( and then on Thursday her kindergarten class starts. Fortunately, the doggies stay home the first week of class, so it'll be just Alexi and I attending while she heals from surgery. But, on October 1st she goes for her first kindergarten class and will attend for 6 weeks. She definitely needs it. We've taught her to sit already, but she is a little spacey and needs the socialization with other dogs besides Tomas.
My fuzzy monster before her new haircut
AFTER her new 'do. We cut her legs short for the surgery, but will grow them out going forward like a true Cocker cut.
I think she's reached her terrible twos in doggy age as she has been a terror as of late. She chewed a hole (2-inch diameter) in our carpet yesterday morning. A.R. was so mad at her he couldn't look at her for a good hour. Luckily, the builder left us some extra carpet scraps so we can patch the spot and it'll look like new again. She has started trying to take off while in the yard chasing whatever is of interest to her (birds, butterflies, grass moving in the wind, absolutely nothing but thin air, etc.) and has gone into the street- we live at the end of a cul-de-sac- a few times so we now have to leash her at all times.

Hopefully, soon we'll be getting an electric fence because Tomas has become so protective of our home and property that he chases any car that drives through including our own neighbors! We have to leash him now, too, and he hates not being able to run free. Since we live in a new neighborhood still under construction there are constantly cars driving through to take a peek at the progress, so we had to nip his car chasing habit right away before he got hurt. Hopefully both of them will respect the fence. I'm torn about it as far as it being humane, but I do want them to stay safe and we won't be fencing our property anytime soon.
Look Tomas! Frisbees are so fun...Lily's new love is her frisbee which is almost bigger then she is!
Lily is in for a big surprise when our baby is born...she won't be the baby of the family much longer. I don't really think she has a clue that I'm pregnant (she is a bit ditzy), but Tomas has gotten a lot more protective of me and follows me EVERYWHERE I am in the house. I just know one of these days I'm going to trip over him! It's funny to see how our dogs interact with us, as well. Lily really has taken more of a liking to Alexi and is a complete Daddy's girl (except for when she knows she's in trouble!) whereas Tomas is all Momma's Boy. I wonder if our human babies will do the same thing??

H

Thursday, September 17, 2009

We're Back!

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Ok, we've been back for almost two weeks now, but I have been too tired/lazy to post. Our trip was definitely an adventure, but not 100% what we had hoped for as our last big trip before becoming parents. The food on the cruise ship wasn't as good as usual (perhaps due to budget cuts??), Alexi caught a cold on the cruise and ended up passing it along to me, and we spent most of the last half of our cruise avoiding Tropical Storm Erica.

We realized we were traveling in prime Hurricane season, but after Tropical Storm Hanna showed up in Connecticut on our wedding day what were the chances we'd experience another tropical storm on our 1st anniversary trip?! Apparently pretty good! We still made the most of our time together away from it all and the cloudy skies during the last half of the trip probably spared me from some serious sun damage. :)

I'm now 12 weeks and 4 days pregnant and feeling good. The fatigue is slowly fading and I'm not as queasy anymore when I get hungry. I was really fortunate that I didn't have morning sickness that bad, but I am sure ready to get some energy back again! I start the 2nd trimester on Sunday which scares me a bit...the time is flying by so quickly and we have so much to do still! I've now told all my teammates at work about the pregnancy and the rumors are already flying fast across the whole floor.

We did finally pick a theme for the nursery (frogs and ducks) and found a crib bedding set. I'm going to order it a little at a time with coupons friends have been giving me. Once the first peice arrives we'll use it to pick out paint colors for the nursery. :)

Here is the set we are getting:
Stay tuned for pics and an overview of our vacation with lots and lots of pictures. I think the most beautiful islands we saw (besides Puerto Rico) were St. Maarten and St. Lucia. I was least impressed with Barbados, but snorkeling with sea turtles there was incredible.

H