Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year's Eve

New Year's Eve was very low key this year. We had my family over for Gringo's and champs. We watched football because of the guys and then about 9 turned it on the NYE shows. I think my family left at 11 but it was midnight in New York so that counts!

We ate, we drank, we watched the littles dance the night away, and we popped confetti poppers and sprayed silly string on each other. It was a fun night and we all didn't have drive a million miles away. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas 2013!

Walker surely was a good boy this year! He racked up on the gifts but never forgot the true meaning of Christmas. We sang Happy Birthday to Jesus and then opened presents.

He couldn't care less about opening his gifts when he attacked that kitchen. He loves that thing. I have a lot of videos on him on Christmas morning but not a lot of pictures. Live and you learn. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Happy Birthday, Momma!

That's right. Momma has entered her last year in her 20's. I'm not sure how the heck that happened and where the time went? I still see myself as a young 18 year old hungry for life,without a care in the world . I hope that never fades.

We celebrated mine and my dad's birthday with our traditional birthday lunch. This year we chose BJ's and it did not disappoint.
Walker's card nearly brought me to my breaking point. He's my special little bird. I love him.

The Emerys




Sisters and Dad

Birthday twins!

Nana and Izzy

It's sad when you see pictures of my family that my brothers are missing in physically but not in the spiritually. One brother is in Heaven and the other is across the world. I think of both of them when it's just our little family during the holidays.

 Ended the night with R's annual birthday cake. He made it a little late this year so we had dessert for Christmas.
 I asked him why he picked purple icing and he said, "Because there's purple on the candles". He's learning.
I'm 29 and feeling fine!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Cookies for Santa

I have this amazing recipe that my friend C got from her mother in law. Oh my goodness! They are delicious! This year we didn't have enough time in our schedule to get together with our friends and their littles to make cookies together, so I made them with my sister and niece and nephew.
 The boys sat in front of this mirror, eating cookies, and talking to themselves! It was precious! I swear, I have no idea where Izzy is half the time when I'm taking pictures!

After taste testing a few, we had 61 cookies to split between our two families. 
Rumor has it Santa thoroughly enjoyed the cookies and gained a few sugar cookie pounds! All's good though!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Rainey Christmas!

We LOVE our Rainey Christmas celebration! It's always a great kick start to the holidays and to my birthday!
Yes, it was hot enough for Walker to wear shorts! Texas, I swear!


Monday, December 16, 2013

We've Moved!

What a feeling! We are so relieved and happy to announce that we have purchased a home! Yippee! Apartment life was not something that I could do for very long and I swear the last week was HELL!

We have a few projects that we will be working on in the next couple of months but overall we are happy that we are finally home!

We found the house in November and had to had every little detailed planned out and worked out before we went on our cruise for 7 days and would be unreachable. I think we finalized everything the Monday we docked in Key West. So the cruise was also a great time to relax after all the negotiations. 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Disney Cruise 2013

Back in August when we were selling our home and feeling down in the dumps, we decided we needed a vacation to get away from all this. We've been good at saving money through the years and had yet to take a family vacation besides to our timeshare in the hill country. It just so happened that a Disney Cruise Line commercial came on and I said, "Let's GO!!". A Disney cruise has always been a huge dream of mine. I still remember my cousins going when we were little little and I was extremely jealous.

R and I are avid watchers of Wheel of Fortune. I can still remember the episode they were talking about Disney's own private island in the Bahamas, Castaway Cay. It looked like heaven on earth on TV so I knew it had to be great.

We started researching the ports they stopped at and then there it was: CASTAWAY CAY! Sign us up! We knew that was where we were going. We called the hotline and made the reservation. It was all pretty easy. Now all we had to do was finalize the sell of our home, move into an apartment because we didn't find a house to purchase, and wait. Time really went fast. By Thanksgiving we were busy packing for the cruise and packing up our apartment (that's another post).

I went overboard and throughout the time I was waiting, I bought a lot of clothes for Walker. (Okay, and maybe for me too). BUT! There are theme nights. You have to dress up for those. Actually those make packing so much easier. You have designated nights where you wear a particular themed outfit. R was getting a little pissed about the spending so I didn't buy him anything pirate. (His reaction later when he was the only one NOT in pirate wear).

We had such a blast and we made good friends with the people we were assigned with for meals. Walker spent some time in the nursery and they were amazing! At the end they gave us pictures and artwork of his time with them. I was really surprised. Walker loved it.

 Getting on the boat. Every thing was pretty easy going with Disney, including boarding the boat. We arrived for our 11 o'clock check-in and were hoping to upgrade but the ship was almost full and there were no upgrades. I think we boarded around 1 and the two hour wait was nothing. Especially with a busy toddler.

 We had a great time exploring the ship as our rooms were not ready to go to yet. We walked around and let Walker run along. It's weird how the rooms aren't ready but you see absolutely NO ONE!

 Took Walker to the nursery's open house. He didn't really appreciate the dinosaur. Even throughout the week the employees would tell us how he would go look at it, give it a good swat and then run away.

 Finally our room! When researching about the trip I wanted to know every little thing about the ship, what our room would look like, what's on the room service menu, etc. I wanted to know everything so my pictures might help the Type A planner like me!

It was FREEZING for the emergency drill! I'm talking about so cold! We had no problem getting so close to strangers! We also were entertained with the porpoises putting on a show for us!
 Triton's restaurant was beautiful but a little fancy pancy for us.
 We totally took advantage of the adult only restaurant, Palo. It was fabulous! They have this blue cheese and grape pizza that is to.die.for.

When in Rome, you indulge! Yes, that's cavier on my plate! 
 Palo has this HUGE appetizer assortment if you will call it. You go around to the cheese and bread table, the seafood table, dessert; they have tons of tables and you pick what you want. Then, there is a whole section to choose meals from the kitchen. We tried: eggs Benedict, Rockefeller oysters, chicken parm, R tried some veal stuff, and I can't even remember it all. Those who have been to Palo can vouch for the amazingness!

We cruised on the Wonder which is a smaller ship. While we didn't stand in lines to get pictures and autographs from the princesses, we heard from our table mates that these lines were much shorter. You would need to arrive an hour to half hour to get a good place in line for these ladies. And if you want the tea party, you better sign up ASAP at the activities signup at the port. That fills up really fast.

 During the time we put Walker in the nursery, R and I explored a little more. The gift shops were rad and they have this line of Goofy candy that is FANTASTIC! I'm picky about gummy candy and found theirs comparable to Haribo.

Formal night. I told R that he was stressing about formal night. He kept talking with men from work about what to wear. You see, on other cruises formal night is a HUGE deal. You have to get dressed to impressed. But Disney is about family and while there was an extremely cute family with 4 boys and dad in tuxes and twin girls and mom in formal dresses, it is not expected. R was overdressed compared to our table mates who were slacks and a polo. It's all about what YOU want to wear. You won't get turned away from dinner, I promise!

My favorite picture of my guys! So handsome!
After dinner we would stroll to Shutters and check out our pictures but we would also spot a character there that, of course, had enough time to take a picture.
Walker ate like a king! He did very well at eating all the food that I had ordered for him and he was able to get three scoops of ice cream a night!

 The shows! Oh my gosh, the shows! You have to go! We didn't go to Toy Story because we aren't TS people, but you are also able to watch the shows on the TV in your room. There is a concession stand right outside the theater called Preludes and they serve candy, drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks), popcorn, souvenirs, whatever you want!

 I think we ordered room service all but one night. It was great. We had the first seating for dinner which is at 5:45pm and we would go to a show or activity they were doing at night. There was no sticking to a bedtime for Walker. He had a snack before dinner and we chose for our room keeper to come clean and prepare our beds while we were out.

I should take the time and tell you that these people are incredible. They work hard and long hours with little to no time off. They work every day they are on the boat. You learn their stories and who they are and you become friends. We love Crystal our room keeper and our waiters!

All Hands on Deck!
 Key West. Umm, nothing too much to write about here. Maybe because we had a toddler with us but it's bar scene. A lot of people made it a boat day and didn't get off the boat. You don't have to get off at every port. The boat is fully staffed and it's a great time to get some pool time in without it being so crowded.

Mickey Waffles!

Southernmost Point!

On a Key West Beach was Frosty! It was SO hot! We had to take Walker's shoes off he was so hot!

 On port days, the dinner is casual wear. It makes it perfect if you spend the entire day off the boat to come back and not feel like you have to dress up. Plus, you are tired.

Edible chocolate Mickey head! 
Our second but BEST stop: Castaway Cay!

I can't even put into words how awesome this place is! First, you get off the boat with just a Key to the World and some sunscreen. That's it. Everything you need is on the island and is apart of what you pay for when you book your cruise. The only exception is alcohol and souvenirs and toys. Tube rentals also, but you charge it to your room, so to say. You need a stroller? They've got them! You need a wheel chair? They have them with special wheels to make it through the sand.

Castaway is Disney's own very island and the only way to get there is taking a Disney cruise. It's amazing! The crew gets off the boat and take up their positions on the island. You see the same faces all the time. Cookies BBQ is okay, nothing write home about, but really, you are there for the gorgeous water!

The only thing I would change is next time to try and spend the extra money and get a cabana. That's it. But those go in seniority by how many times you've cruise before.

Our view during breakfast. I was so excited, I could've jumped off the boat then and there!

To the right of the rope was where the snorkelers would go in and swim far, far away! But you could see fish right where we were. 

Pure happiness! Seriously!

 Walker took to the water like it was nothing! He absolutely enjoyed it! It was cold but not the kind of cold you are thinking of. I knew before getting in that if you want clear blue see down to your feet type of water that it is always going to be colder than the Gulf of Mexico that I'm used to. Honestly, once you dove in you got used to it. It was amazing!

 There are different parts on the island. Family beach, adults only, teens only, there's a kids club you can sign the little rugrats into, and the part of the beach that has the Cabanas has their own little beach. There is a lot of stuff to do like para-sailing, jet skiing, snorkeling, bike paths, 5K early in the morning. On the family beach it has sections that have monkey bars that fall into the water, water slides and all types of that cool stuff. With a toddler I would say you are limited but "just" a beach was more than enough for us. When I die, take me to Castaway!

R and I had fun in the adult only portion of the boat. If you are asking did we hide Walker away in the nursery the whole trip, I guess you could say yes. He actually never wanted to leave the nursery when we came to pick him up and cried the entire walk and elevator ride back to the room where he would inconsolably cry himself into a good 3 hour nap.  Trust me, it's not just kids in a room with a person watching over them. They do all kinds of activities that I don't even think he does at his Mother's Day Out program.

 Can I say just those couple of hours of husband and wife time were wonderful. I never get tired of this man and always want to spend my free time with him.

PIRATE NIGHT!! Oh my gosh it is so fun! I swear sometimes I couldn't tell if some cruisers were working for Disney or just cruising.

 When we were getting ready for dinner R asked where his pirate stuff was and when I told him, "You told me not buy you anything". He was pretty upset. Everyone on the boat gets into it. At dinner they provide every spot with one of those Pirates IN the Caribbean bandannas.

After dinner and about 945 is when the real magic happens. The pirate show on the deck starts. I don't want to give away too much but always keep your eyes out for Mickey to come and save the day! We had a blast that night. At 11pm is when the buffet opens up and they have all kinds of Pirate food: big ole turkey legs and manly food like that. We were fast asleep!

Character breakfast! My god! It is exhausting first and foremost. You're trying to get toddlers to eat with all this mayhem going on all around you. Mickey! Goody! Chip and Dale! They are all walking around the room as you are eating, which with a toddler you are like, "DON'T MAKE A MESS before we get a picture!" And then you take your own picture and you have food plates in all of them. No professional pictures are taken that day.

 But it's all fun and your waiters make you these goofy little hats out of napkins and it's fun! The whole cruise is fun!

Walker refused to wear his. He hates anything on his head. 
 We went on our cruise when the whole boat was decorated in Christmas decor. It was beautiful. They had a tree lighting ceremony but we missed it because of a nap. We actually missed a lot of the staged pictures with professionals because Walker is young. It didn't really bother us but missing a nap definitely would have made the trip a disaster. We also missed the Sail Away deck party and the Until We Meet Again. I'm telling you by the end, you are so tired, your kids are tired, you have to pack and make sure all your stuff is out by a certain time.

He loves Donald so this picture is priceless in our eyes! 

NOW he wants to get in on the Pirate theme!
We had such a great time and I can't wait to go back! I kept telling R on the trip that once you love Disney, you never stop. He really doesn't understand that because he never loved Disney. I, myself, have always loved Mickey and all Disney movies. We had a fabulous trip! We're waiting until the ports are announced for 2016 to book another one but we want to either do a land and sea (you stay at WDW for 3 days and cruise for 3 days and make a stop at Castaway Cay), or the Virgin Island itinerary. Having a group go with us would be perfection but even if it happens just to be the Emerys again, it will be just as fun!

Writing this has made me only miss being on that ship. Even with the 9 feet swells one night.