Saturday, December 31, 2011

Christmas at sea

This Christmas was a different kind of Christmas for our family. My grandfather, my mom's dad, who will be 92 in just a few days, told us the past spring that he wanted to take our whole family- my immediate family and my Aunt Debourah and cousin Alyx, who live in Columbus, Ohio- on a cruise. Since we couldn't all get time off this past summer, we decided to go over Christmas. We had done this once before with my mom's side of the family, when we went on a Disney cruise in 1998. I don't really love spending Christmas anywhere but South Carolina, but having all of my family together still makes the holiday special, no matter where we are.

We set sail on a Royal Caribbean cruise to Mexico on Christmas Eve out of Tampa. We spent Christmas Day at sea, then arrived in Costa Maya, Mexico the day after Christmas. We went from Costa Maya to Cozumel, then spent one more day at sea before returning to Tampa. It was SO nice to be in warm weather and not have to worry about layers and coats! We all liked Cozumel better than Costa Maya, and I think we were all ready to be off the boat once we left Cozumel. But there was plenty to keep us entertained during the at sea days, and I already miss my family! As it always does, Christmas seemed to come and go entirely too quickly.

Richard was thrilled to have a few days away from the hospital

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve caroling

nothing says Merry Christmas like a little family Blackjack

Christmas morning visit with Santa

two of the best parents a girl could ask for

opening presents in my aunt's stateroom- definitely not designed for 9 people!

Christmas evening, which was formal night on the ship- Richard and I took advantage of this opportunity to wear some of our more festive attire- his white dinner jacket and my Lilly ball skirt that I bought several years ago

with four of my absolute favorites

Richard and the boys went on a bio-canopy zipline tour in Costa Maya- they are all much braver than I!

Richard in action

one of Will's souvenirs- a Carolina Panthers poncho

the beach and sea kayak was much more my speed

enjoying some beach relaxation with my cousin Alyx and my mom

I think we posed with the big Christmas tree every night- this was the day after Christmas

a rare shot with my grandfather, who doesn't love to smile for pictures- just thankful that he's in good health and still wanting to travel!

How cute are Morris and Pearl? This was during a "Love and Marriage" gameshow, and he was 96 years old. They'd been married for 66 years and were adorable. We have no relation to them, but I'd get excited every time I saw Morris on the ship after the show.

pool party

In Cozumel, Richard and I went over to the near city of Tulum with my mom, Aunt Debourah and Alyx to explore the Mayan ruins. It was hot and crowded but very interesting. Especially timely with the Mayan calendar set to end on December 21, 2012. Our guide, who claimed to have Mayan blood, said that all the hype over the world ending on that day was unfounded. He said that while there would be a significant solar event on that night, it would likely only last for a few minutes and not cause any harm. Apparently this also happened in 1982...who knew?

Mayan ruins at Tulum

sisters and cousins- our Ohio family didn't love the heat

Richard bought a fresh chilled coconut in Tulum- he drank the milk, then the man who sold it to him hacked it open and put chili powder and lime on the inside flesh. Delicious!

the beach in Playa del Carmen was almost as pretty as Anguilla

returning to the boat at sunset from a fun day at Cozumel

love this picture of my family, Richard and me

a round of (windy) putt-putt on our last day at sea

what better way to end a family vacay than a trip to the Club Vortex? all in all, it was a great trip!

Friday, December 30, 2011

white house holiday

Richard and I just returned yesterday from a cruise with my extended family (and 24 hours later, I still feel like my balance is a bit off kilter!). We had a wonderful time, but it kind of felt like we skipped Christmas since we were on the boat. So I still have a few Christmas posts left to squeeze the most out of the holiday season as possible!

On Christmas Eve Eve, the day before we left for the cruise, Richard and I went to the White House for a holiday open house tour. I was hesitant to go since we had to get ready for our trip, but I'm so glad we did. It was a special DC afternoon.
pictures are usually not permitted, so being able to have my camera was a rare treat

Gold Star Family Tree- visitors could write letters to the troops next to the tree

East Landing Hallway

East Garden Room- Bo was in almost every room in some form or fashion, and we loved trying to find him

the Library- Bo is sitting in front of a fireplace, but it was hard to get the whole shot- this scene was depicted on the official White House Christmas card

quite a view

Green Room tree made out of aluminum

big Green Room tree

the East Room (the largest in the White House)- there was a beautiful nativity behind Richard and me

the official White House tree in the Blue Room, decorated with cards drawn by military children on bases around the country and abroad

Red Room tree

the State Dining Room

the White House constructed out of 300lbs of chocolate

the Entrance Hall

carolers singing everyone out the door- if you look closely, you can see another Bo

outside tree

outside the Willard

Willard tree

Richard and the Old Ebbitt Grill nutcrackers

Friday, December 23, 2011

2011 Christmas Card

I love, love coming home this time of the year and seeing what Christmas cards have arrived! It is so much fun to see pictures of friends and their families, especially those with children who I don't see very often. This year, I even found out several friends were pregnant via Christmas cards. Richard and I both were drawn to the design we picked out for our card, and we easily agreed on a picture from this year's Cherry Blossom festival, probably my favorite time of the year in DC! So if you haven't seen it yet, here's our card from this year.

After receiving all kinds of beautiful cards, our refrigerator was beginning to look a little cluttered (or a lot cluttered). After some quick internet research, I found a way to display some of those overcrowded cards. We have a decent-sized mirror in our dining room, so I just cut a few strips of wide ribbon and taped them to the back of the mirror, then taped some of our cards to the ribbon. It wasn't nearly enough room to fit all of our cards, but the fridge is a bit less overwhelmed now. I used scotch tape, but I'd recommend something a bit stronger, as the cards keep falling off the ribbon. Will have to be more creative next year!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

nyc and a visit from the in-laws

It is has become a tradition for Richard and me to visit New York at Christmastime every year (either before or right after), and when we found out two of our best couple friends would be there last weekend, we jumped at the chance to join them. It was a really quick trip- up Saturday and back Sunday- in the midst of a crazy month, but we had a great time.

Richard and John in front of Macy's in festive Christmas attire- it's hard to see, but Richard's t-shirt says "don't stop believing" and has a picture of Santa

dinner at Sarabeth's- we met Will's friend, Caitlin, and loved our delicious lobster and corn hush puppies.

We saw the Rockettes with Meghanne and Caleb at Radio City...

and posed in front of the Rockefeller Center tree.

We window-shopped at Tiffany's...

and down Fifth Avenue

and enjoyed trying macarons straight from Paris (after standing in a long line to get them).

We finished up with dinner at John's Pizza with Jon and Amy and hopped on the bus back to DC.

We had only been back for a day when Richard's mom and dad came to visit us in Kensington. Since we are going on a cruise with my family for Christmas, they wanted to come before so that we could celebrate early with them. It was a lot of fun having them in town and showing them around, and I hated to see them leave this morning.

train display at the Brookside Conservatory

Richard and his mom with a gorgeous Birds of Paradise plant

Richard's parents had met several of our Walter Reed friends when they've visited in the past and at our wedding, so we hosted a few of them last night for coffee and dessert so that Mr. and Mrs. Webb could meet the new little ones.

Anderson in an adorable Santa outfit we got for him

Ashley, me, Min and sweet Gia

some of our best friends- we are lucky to have each of them close by!

thankful for Richard's mom and dad (and the new grill they brought us for Christmas- time to retire the George Foreman!)