Monday, March 25, 2013

Disney Cruise

(This post is a month overdue. Terribly sorry about that.)

February is a love filled month in our house. Of course there is Valentine's Day, but it's also the month we celebrate the birth of our daughter, Grace, as well as our wedding anniversary. So this year we decided to combine the latter two and give ourselves an extremely fun-filled family gift. For Gracie's second birthday and our fifth anniversary we joined some good friends of ours and together we took to the sea with a Disney Cruise!
 I think we've stumbled upon a glorious treat, one that I'm hoping becomes something of a tradition for us. Taking advantage of an extended weekend in the depths of a frigid winter to a little tropical paradise, is just what the doctor ordered. 

I wish I could say that we soaked up the sun and relaxed every single second while we were away, but I will admit that we got off to a bumpy start. On the plane ride down to Miami, I came down with what I believed was motion sickness. Yup, half my flight was spent staring down the ever so lovely paper baggy, or making my way to the restroom whenever it was available. (And before anyone out there even has the chance to think it, let alone ask me, nope, not preggers. Sorry to disappoint you all. hee hee) I was hit with a pretty nasty stomach bug that stuck with me up until dinner time. So I missed the sail away party, but I'm told Gracie loved it.
(Above three of the four members of the Cappello family. Jodi, Matteo, and Renato. Little Marco was sleeping next to our table, or at least trying too. Below, well, you know who we are.)
That night, Gracie caught my bug. She was up a few times throughout the night. By the morning she seemed to be doing better. Not 100%, but better. The kicker though was the hubster caught the bug. I think it hit him hardest of all. He didn't leave the cabin room at all that day. While he was resting, Gracie and I explored the ship, and we discovered some fun places to hangout and play. 
The ship was in port at Key West, Florida that day, but we never set foot on land. It looked like a very nice place to visit, so as I said earlier, perhaps we'll be there again some day.

One of the most fun things to do while onboard was to track down the Disney characters, and snap a photo with them. The look of excitement every time Grace saw a character was of pure joy. And when she saw Mickey Mouse for the first time she literally squealed with delight. I'm not kidding! It was like a teeny-bopper who just saw a Beetle. 
We had two beach days. The first of which we went on an excursion to the Atlantis Hotel in Nassau, Bahamas, where we spent a majority of the day playing in the sand, swimming in the ocean, and checking out some amazing fish in different aquariums. 

 The second beach day was spent on Disney's private island, Castaway Cay. I was thoroughly impressed with Castaway Cay. It had everything. Things for the adults, places for kids of every age, food, shopping, trails, bike riding, snorkeling around a coral reef, etc. Just so much to do. We kept it simple, and let our kiddos build sand castles, and go for a dip in crystal clear water, which I might add had what I like to call "ghost fish" as the color of the fish that would swim right up around you, almost to shore, was an exact match of the water, so you could barely see them until they were right next to you. (I pointed at one for Gracie to see, and yeah, it must have thought my finger tip was something to munch on, because it tried to take a nibble. I screamed, and needless to say, from then on I was a little more leery of these uber friendly ghost fish.)

Family photo time! It was awesome traveling with another family, not only to share the vacation and all the fun experiences with, but I have to be honest and say that I loved having someone who could snap a family photo for us. I'm always behind the camera, so its rare to get a shot of all three of us. Thanks, Renato and Jodi, you two rock!

(Below, Gracie mastered this funny face while away on the vacation. She's a silly one.)
 This is how we roll. Just a few snapshots of us all on the go.

We jokingly refer to Matteo as Gracie's boyfriend. She giggles, and has this sweet little smile whenever his name is mentioned. I think it's adorable. Mommy and Daddy totally approve because, hey, he's one heck of a handsome little guy. What can I say, the girl has good taste!

 One of the nights on board the ship Captain Hook and his crew take over, and it becomes a giant pirate party. The kids dressed up, and looked way-hay (get it? Argh!) cute! They have a big party poolside after dinner for all the matties on board, with fireworks and everything. As much as we love to party, after a long day on the beach, both the kiddos, and the parents were all tuckered out. So down-below we went to button down the hatches, leaving yet another thing to experience on a future date.

 We loved our little winter getaway. It was so much fun, regardless of the rough start. There is something truly wondrous about Disney. It brings out the kid in us all, and when you combine Disney with a tropical escape you get something magical. These are the first of very many fond memories to come, I'm sure.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Grace is Two!

Gracie turned two a few weeks ago, and this Momma is still reeling in disbelief that she has been in our lives for two whole years. At the same time I feel that this astounding toddler of mine is wise beyond her meager two years. She is so poised, polite, and has such a sweet disposition. Simply put she is such a joy to be around.

To kick off the celebration, she had a mini-birthday party with her Uncle Keith and Aunt Krissy. There was cake, gifts, and lots of hugs and kisses. 
 A few days later it was time for the big birthday bash! The house was decked out in girly rainbow attire, which I must admit that I was very pleased with the end result. (I had my doubts about the crazy idea of hand dying over 800 coffee filters to string together, but was in love with the final product. Her birthday balloon wreath has almost 400 balloons, and I'm not sure how many pieces of tissue paper went into making the giant tissue pompoms, but I think I had the most fun melting down jolly ranchers to make jumbo rainbow suckers, as well as the rainbow cake baked in mason jars, those were a pretty nifty idea too. Please click on the collages below to enlarge and see the birthday decorations.)

Her birthday banner I made last year for the big one year party. My goal is to hang it each year. I'm sure as she gets older she's not going to want to have such juvenile birthday decor, but at least for our little family at home, it will be a cute reminder of how far she's come.

It was so nice to have the house full of family to help celebrate the day. The party itself was a rather intimate get together, mainly just her immediate family. However we did invite our neighbors from across the street. Luke, Lesley, and their two girls Jillian and baby Katelyn. (In the summer months Jillian and Grace take turns sharing yards to run around in, chasing each other, and trying desperately to catch fireflies.) And we also invited our good friends, Renato, Jodi, and their two boys, Matteo and baby Marco. (FYI, Matteo is Grace's boyfriend. Ooh la la! He's a cutie!)

For her birthday Grace got a "big kid" table from her Mom and Dad which was put to use right away. It became the center hub of activity for all the little ones. The main activity was a bowl full of cookie cutters, random molds, and tools, and lots and lots of playdoh! My goodness, this was a huge hit! Funny to think of the wasted hours I spent trying to devise about a bazillion-and-one toddler friendly party activities. Lesson learned here folks, K*I*S*S... Keep It Simple Sillhead! (Taryn's version, of KISS, can you tell?)

Of course no birthday party, regardless of what year you're celebrating, would be complete without birthday cake! I made a red velvet bundt cake, with icing in the middle, and rainbow frosting liberally drizzled on top. It was scrumptious if I'm allowed to toot my own horn. 

Everyone sang happy birthday, and to express her gratitude Gracie gave her cousins the most loving hugs ever! She adores her cousins, and is truly blessed to have them in her life. Her older cousin Shayla is always ready to play, and is so full of life. And Grace loves smooching and stealing kisses from her two younger cousins, Shane and Jack. 

 Gracie's second birthday was a spectacular celebration. One for the record books, as they say. Of course, this Momma wouldn't have it any other way. I am so thoroughly enjoying watching this truly sensational little person explore the emerging world around her. I am so grateful to have been given such a blessing in my life. She makes every day glorious. She gives my life purpose. And I am sincerely enraptured by every little thing she does. I look forward to watching her create a life for herself, and I'll be there for her when she wants me to be there, when she doesn't want me to be there, and always when she needs me to be there. Every step of the way. She's my little baby, and she's already turning into such a fine little lady. This proud Momma couldn't love her more!