December 05, 2016

Family Pictures

I have a Love/Hate Relationship with Family Pictures. I love the end result and it's always worth it in the end, but getting's like nails on a chalkboard to me. 

I've followed this photographer on Facebook for a few years now and always loved her work, but she only does maternity and newborn pictures. Once a year, she opens up 9 spots for family sessions and when she announced this year, I knew I wanted to get in with her. She is crazy expensive, she doesn't let you choose a date or time and you also don't have any say in the location...sounds like a real dream huh?
I knew getting a spot would be worse than Black Friday Shopping, because she is THAT popular, so I set my alarm for the time she released the application process and kept refreshing my internet browser every 10 seconds, waiting for the announcement. I know, crazy, but apparently that's what you had to do, because when I emailed her immediately after she posted the rules, we got the last spot. Eeks!
Not sure how I made this happen, but somehow Katie volunteered to wear a dress for the pictures (I've seen her in a dress only once before in the last ten years!) and I think she looked so beautiful!

The pictures were taken on the side of a road in a little wash area, but you wouldn't even know by looking at these.

I love that the photographer suggested to take a couple of pictures of just Katie and I, because I think we only have one other professional picture with just the two of us.

Look at this stud!

While I love the pictures, I don't think I would hire her again for Family Pictures. The pictures are all very sweet, but I think I prefer pictures that are more candid, show us having fun with each other and less posed. 
But, I can't wait to hire her for our next maternity pictures, her work is amazing and our maternity pictures with Fox were so disappointing and something I will never get back. And no, this is not a pregnancy announcement! ;)

December 03, 2016

Caribbean Cruise

In November, we took a week long Caribbean Cruise with Royal Caribbean! This was Fox's 2nd Cruise and Katie and I actually had taken this exact cruise four years earlier with Katie's family. You can read all about it HERE (so I won't bore you with the same details and pictures from the ship and ports).

This was one of those full circle moments for me. Four years ago, I was in the midst of fertility treatments, having to give myself shots twice a day, take 30 pills and only eat protein. Every night on this cruise, when the family had their desserts, I had to order a freaking cheese plate. We still joke about it to this day.
I remember being on that ship, thinking how cool it is for kids and wishing I could be there with my own child. 
And here we were, with the cutest two year old I ever met, it was very special and surreal!

When we got on the ship, we had to hang out for a few hours until we could go to our room, so Fox tried out the kids pool area and had a blast!

Fort Lauderdale, Florida is where the ship departed from.

Our first night in front of the restaurant. 
Since Fox had food allergies and is a very picky eater on top of it, it was very hard to feed him on the ship, even though we confirmed his allergies with the ship beforehand and were assured that this wouldn't be a problem. We were very disappointed when it took 30 minutes each time to get Almond Milk instead of regular milk for him and when the waiter finally came with his milk and we asked one more time, if this was indeed almond milk, he wasn't sure and had to go all the way back down to the kitchen of the ship and confirm. 
Same with dinner. Although they had dairy and egg free bread, it took one hour to make him a PB&J Sandwich, that we had ordered for him the previous night (so they knew about it).
They kind of made up for it though when they served Fox a special dairy and egg free chocolate almond cake each night, Fox couldn't believe it. He kept saying: "Is this for me? I can eat this? This doesn't have eggs?" followed by "I'm so happy, Mama, I have cake!"
It made me happy and sad at the same time!

We had a balcony room and although we watched him like a hawk and it was very secure there, it made me so nervous and scared. 

Our first stop was Labadee, Haiti again, which is a private island owned by Royal Caribbean. We were disappointed with this stop last time and also this time. We spent an hour or so on the beach, before we went back on the ship.

This is our ship in the background, the Allure of the Seas.

The second stop was Jamaica, where we, four years before climbed the waterfalls and had an incredible experience. Obviously, we couldn't hike them with Fox (although we would've loved to do that again) and all the other excursions weren't suitable for him either, so we booked a day at a beach resort.

This was the biggest flop ever. It was super expensive and really more like a party resort, which is not what the excursions manager had told us. Loud music, drinking people everywhere and the water wasn't very nice.

We had a blast on the ship though! Fox loved this antique car on the main promenade!

And he made a friend...ha!

We watched three Ice Shows and a Water Show and Fox was mesmerized by all of it!

They also had a carousel on their Boardwalk that we rode approximately 17 times.

What Fox loved the most though, was staying in our room. We have no idea why, but he always wanted to go back to the room and play.

The last stop was Cozumel, Mexico again. We left Fox with Hannah on the ship so we could do an excursion (we brought her along, but she only worked that one day so Katie and I could do the excursion and then a couple of hours one night, when Katie and I got massages).

Let me just paint you a picture here. We left the ship bright and early and were guided to a ferry boat that was bringing us on the main island. Katie immediately said she was going to sit on the top, while I stayed down below since I didn't want to get cold. Big Mistake!
As soon as the ferry left, I could tell that this was going to be a bumpy ride. When the crew started to hand out "vomit bags", I knew we were in for a ride from hell!
It didn't take long until people all around me started to throw up. It was the worst ride of my life. I started to plug my ears, because the sounds all around me were the worst. Then the smell started. 
No one had told us how long the ferry ride would be and then the lady next to me told me I should probably take a "vomit bag", I guess I didn't look too good.
I threw up three times on the remainder of the ride. It was the worst. When we got off, I told Katie I would rather swim back than take this again and that I wouldn't take a job on this ferry for a year, even if they paid me a million dollars. Heck, not even for a month! It was that bad. Katie said that only one lady threw up on the top deck! It was terrible.
We were shuffled into a bus and had to take a 1.5hr ride to our destination, the Mayan Ruines!

Climbing a Mayan Ruin was one of Katie's bucket list items, she's been talking about it since 2007 when I met her and she was so excited!

The climb up wasn't too bad, although it was really scary.
Made it to the top!

Climbing down was way harder than going up and we basically booty scooted our way down.

We took another bus ride to our next destination, a Cenote! I didn't know what a Cenote was so in case you don't either, this is what I found on google:
cenote is a natural pit, or sinkhole, resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath.

Since we were like 70feet underground, the water was FREEZING!

It was a really cool experience though and we both loved it.

On the ferry ride back, we both ran up to the top deck and it was a much better experience!

Although we had been on the ship before, we forgot all about the kids area they had and didn't find it until the very last day! Not that we needed it, because there were so many other fun things to do on the ship, but Fox loved it!

Our last night on the boat, we watched the Dreamworks Parade!

When we left the ship back in Fort Lauderdale, we had one last excursion to the Everglades.
Can you spot the crocodile?

It was FREEZING on the boat that drove us around and Fox was not a fan!

We even got to hold some baby alligators!

We had a great time, but it was also great to come home!

If you want to see more from our trip, I started uploading some videos on our youtube channel, but it will probably take me a while to get them all edited. The first two days are up though and you can find them HERE!