Thursday, July 24, 2014

10 Year Anniversary Trip!

As many of you know, ever since Eric and I started having kids we haven't found the time to go on a trip just the two of us. I actually don't think we've ever had a night without at least one of our kids. They'll go spend the night here and there at Mamaw and Papaw's house, but it is never all four of them (because we'll just keep whoever the "baby" is at the time with us). We had made a promise to one another (okay, so mostly it had to be me) that on our 10th anniversary we would go on a short little trip, just the two of us.  I kept my promise, and we booked a very last minute cruise. It was so last minute that I called on Wednesday several times to a completely booked ship, and then happened to call right after someone had to cancel their trip and was able to get that one last available room- and the ship left the port on Friday, just 2 days after I booked our trip. Eric still didn't believe that I would end up going, and even said that he wouldn't believe it until I was on the ship and it was actually sailing away from the port. My mom said that she would not only watch our kids (which watching 4 kids is a LOT for anyone,) but she also called my nieces and had them come stay from Thursday to Monday, too. So, that was six kids, ages 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, & 2 that her and dad were volunteering to watch! The kids were so excited about staying at "Camp Mamaw Di" (they pulled their camper out in the yard and my mom camped out in it with the kids) with Abigail and Amelia, which made it a little easier on all us for Eric and I to leave.  We had several break downs before we actually left, but when we were giving one another good-bye hugs, everyone seemed okay (even me!). We dropped the kids off and left our house on our actual anniversary, July 10th, and drove about 7 hours that afternoon before we stopped and got a hotel room where we found some sweet notes packed into our suitcase from the kids.
(Top picture: A "book" Jackson wrote; Bottom Left: a drawing from Ansley;
Bottom Right: Several pictures from Elsie)

We then got up and drove the rest of the way to Port Canaveral where we were able to go ahead and board our on cruise ship, Royal Caribbean's "Enchantment of the Seas."
 As we were leaving the port in Florida, Eric and I were standing on the top deck of the ship, and I loved all of the sea creatures we got to see just a few miles out in the sea. We saw a sea turtle, lots of jellyfish and other fish, a sting ray, a shark, and three dolphins were playing with one another alongside the cruise ship. We were at sea and enjoyed the many activities, shows, and meals on the cruise ship for the remainder of Friday afternoon and night, and until we reached Nassau on Saturday around noon.  In Nassau we enjoyed walking around the shops and the straw market, and we also found a McDonald's that we went into so we could use their wi-fi so we could Facetime the kids. When I saw that they were having a great time and didn't seem like they were too homesick at all, I was fine for the remainder of our trip. 
We went back to the ship later that afternoon so we could enjoy some of the activities going on there, and then we got ready for our "formal night" dinner. There our waiters, along with a couple more waiters, brought out a special dessert and sang a little "Happy Anniversary" song. One of the waiters thought at first that we were on our honeymoon (several people had asked us if we were), and he didn't believe us at all when we told him that we were celebrating our 10 year anniversary. He looked at Eric and said, "What did you do?Marry her when she was 16?" He instantly became my best friend! ;)

The next day (on Sunday) we were docked at Royal Caribbean's private island, Coco Cay. It was beautiful with the white beaches and the crystal clear water, and Eric and I spent the day enjoying hanging out in the hammocks, swimming in the ocean, and walking around the island. 

The last tender boat left at 3:30 that afternoon and then we were at sea the rest of the night until we arrived back at Port Canaveral the next morning at 7:00. By that point, even though we had had an incredible time, I think we both were definitely ready to get off the ship, drive the 10 1/2 hours home, and pick up our babies. When we got to my mom and dad's house, the kids were so excited to see us, and I am sure that Mamaw Dianne slept really good that night after a weekend of watching 6 kids. (Thanks again, Mom!!!) Eric and I now know that we can actually go on a trip and that not only us, but the kids will also be okay, and that we probably shouldn't wait another 7+ years to go on our next trip! 
Happy 10 years, emc. I love you more and more each and every day.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Elsie's (4th) & Vada Belle's (2nd) "Frozen" Party

At the beginning of this crazy, busy month, we celebrated Vada Belle turning two and Elsie turning four with a Frozen themed party.  Elsie had said for a while that she wanted an Anna and Elsa party, but just a couple of weeks before the (very last minute planned) party, she said that she wanted an unicorn party (I have NO idea where that came from). When I told her that she needed to make a definite decision so we could start thinking of ideas for the party, she chose the Frozen theme since both her and Vada Belle (and every other girl ages 2-10) are obsessed with the movie and soundtrack.
Elsie is 4!
Vada Belle is 2!


I was glad that Elsie's final decision was the Frozen theme, because Vada Belle also loved that theme, and it wasn't hard to think of ideas to decorate! Eric made the girls birthday cake, and once again he did an outstanding job!

Eating and spending time with family and friends:

Cake Time!

Time To Open Presents!
Mom & Dad with the birthday girls:

Thanks to all of our family and friends for helping us celebrate our two little princesses. What a great day it was!

Friday, July 18, 2014

4th of July- 2014

One of mine and Eric's favorite time of year is the 4th of July. I don't know why, but the both of us just love this holiday, and our kids seem to enjoy it quite a bit, too. This year it was a beautiful day, and the weather was perfect to do a little slip and sliding. Eric set up a big slip n' slide in the backyard, and the kids (especially Ansley and Elsie) spent hours playing on it.

After we finally got the girls off of the slip n' slide, we got ready and went to the Bethel Blast like we've done for the last several years. We had several friends and family members that we were meeting up with, and the kids loved having other friends there to run around and play with. The food was amazing like always, the entertainment was great, and the firework show was phenomenal! A special thanks to Bethel Baptist Church for all of their extremely hard work that they do to put on this great family event, (free of charge!) year after year. 

On Saturday, July 5th, we went to Mountain City to enjoy the 4th of July activities that were going on that day. Since Papaw Fred is running for County Mayor and couldn't come to the parade (he was at a wedding), Eric, the kids, Jessica, Craig and myself decided we would go to the parade and do a little campaigning for him. The kids loved being in the parade, and Jackson just may be a politician one day with how well he likes to campaign! That night we went to Ralph Stout Park to watch the wonderful firework show there.

Happy (late) 4th of July!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Clifton/Leftwich Beach Trip 2014

Last month, for the second year in a row, we took a beach trip with Eric's side of the family. This year the Leftwichs and Cliftons went to Wrightsville Beach, and even though we were only able to stay a couple of nights, it was wonderful to spend time with that side of the family.  We spent a lot of time playing at the beach, enjoyed eating meals all together at the beach house, going out for ice cream every night (thanks, Uncle Gerald!), and making sweet memories.

*Gramma Winkie found dad's favorite beach clothes from about 20+ years ago, and of course he had to try them on. Ansley and Elsie were horrified thinking he might actually wear that to the beach.

*Vada Belle opening her birthday gifts from Grandpa, Gramma & Uncle Marshall.

*Out for Ice Cream!

Enjoying time in the sand and water:

Everywhere Vada Belle goes, her Lovie goes also- even if it is in the ocean!

Beach Selfie!
Elsie and Vada Belle loved playing in the sand, and in the shallow part of the ocean.
 Dad taking Jackson and Ansley out to jump in the waves:

 Enjoying the beautiful sunshine:

 Getting ready to go out for ice cream!
 A few family pictures:

 Enjoying our last few minutes before heading back home:
What a fabulous few days at the beach! Until next year....