Oh, Jamaica…

We awoke Wednesday morning to the boat rocking heavily and the windows being pelted with a bit of rain. The wind was intensely whipping about the balcony as well. The sky was a little angry but it all faded quickly and the sun came out from behind the clouds.

We ventured off of the boat and chatted with a few people but didn’t love the tours being offered just yet. We wandered outside of the port and started chatting with a man about what our goals were for the day. We ended up meeting a man named Dwight and having him show us the island.

We rode through a bit of the rainforest, traveled up the mountains and saw the spectacular views looking out over the ocean. Stopping to smell the leaves of different plants (all spice and lemongrass grow freely!), we also learned about the different fruit trees growing around the island. We stopped by the local Dunn River Falls and peeked at the water cascading over the rocks.

Next, we headed to Bamboo Blu beach and set up – Jacob couldn’t get into the water fast enough! It was that beautiful, crystal blue again and our sweet boy couldn’t wait to run into the small waves.

Joe & I left Jacob to play in the waves for a bit while we went on an adventure. It’s something that I put on my list of things to do before turning 30 but never actually did. It’s something I’ve seen pictures of and thought – someday I will! Well, today was that day. Joe & I went horseback riding. 

I remember a week long trip in Girl Scouts when I was young. We went to a farm of sorts and one of the activities that we did a few times throughout the week was horseback riding. I remember feeling as if I was high off of the ground and a little afraid of the height but truly enjoying the experience. 

Dwight took us to two local guys just up the road from the beach. We received a great price for the hour that we wanted to ride. We hopped on our horses, Crystal and Cindy, and I had a moment of panic when she first started moving.

What are you thinking?! This is so high! What if you fall off?!

But I swallowed those fears, put on a big smile and braced the moment. I will do this! So off we went.

Joe & I traveled up the mountains through the town where the locals live, saw goats – young and old – eating the tall grass, saw a community garden where anyone can grab fresh fruits or vegetables for their meal, they simply need to replace it with a seed or two and Joe even picked me a bright pink hibiscus. Our guides told us stories about the town and shared the different things they do to keep busy. At the top, we saw the breathtaking view of the water below. We headed down the mountain through the town and into the some of the wooded area by the beach. We learned about the trees that only grow in the shade and I may have bumped my head on a few branches along the way, despite the warning of doing just that.

Eventually the trees opened up to show the dazzling blue waves of the ocean. Our guides stood back while Joe & I rode our horses into the water. It was clear that Crystal & Cindy love the water as much as we do. They trotted through the waves, the water lapping up over our thighs. They stopped to play in the water, flicking it up over their heads and onto us. I don’t think the smile came off either of us the entire time.

After riding in the water a bit and learning about local fishing, we headed back. I trotted up ahead of Joe & turned around to see him racing up the trail behind me. His grin was from ear to ear. The trip was amazing. It may have only been an hour of our time but the memories are completely priceless.

Dwight brought us back to the beach where Grandma & Grandpa were playing amongst the waves with little man. He wasn’t too interested in chatting with us upon our return, as he had his own ear-to-ear smile from the ocean. I sat with him in the waves, while we picked out the big & little waves and braced ourselves for when the water rushed over us. We said “ew!” at the seaweed floating in from the reef and dug holes in the sand. The hours flew by and before we knew it, it was time to head back to the ship.

Dwight met us and drove us back, telling us more about the town on the way. He was a wonderful tour guide and I would absolutely book him again if we return. (And you should too if you head to Ocho Rios!).

Once on the ship, Jacob took a bath overlooking the water. Despite his shower before leaving the beach, another pound of sand may have come out of his bathing suit. He loved holding the spray shower head over him and “wash my chest and wash my legs and wash by tooshie…”. Seriously, just too cute!

A nap before dinner was needed after such a fabulous day.

Advertisements

So I went to Hell…

On Tuesday morning we awoke to the boat approaching Georgetown in the Grand Cayman Islands. Cayman is a new experience for all of us so we were all anxious to visit the town. We had to tender into this port, which was an extra opportunity to experience the amazing waves.

Once on land, we grabbed a taxi to take us to Hell – a small, local place named after their limestone rock formation and with its own post office. Jacob helped to send ourselves post cards and we are anxious to see what the post mark is. They also stamped passports, which worked out well since the office for the port authority was closed each time we tried. It was a neat little place to stop by.

The taxi then took us to visit the tortuga rum store, a quick stop by the 7 mile beach and, to Jacob’s delight, the dolphin discovery center. Though we did not actually interact with the dolphins, Jacob loved watching them swim and jump about. Ms Welcome was a wonderful driver and host, taking us around to different parts of the island and sharing fun facts with us. 

Shortly after our tour, we ventured over to take the Seaworld Observatory boat. It’s the only excursion we booked ahead of time and were excited to see how much Jacob enjoyed it. We hopped on a boat and immediately headed down the stairs. About 6 feet under the water, we sat on a bench looking out into the water around us through big windows. The whole tour was about an hour. The boat took us out a little way and told us what to look for under the water. We saw dozens of fish, two separate shipwrecks, a stingray, lots of that beautiful sand along the bottom and a gorgeous coral reef. We saw a group of scuba divers and the Captain of our boat jumped in to scuba dive while feeding the fish around our boat. The entire experience was magnificent and Jacob completely loved it!

Though we had a few more hours left, Jacob was tired and it was time to go relax. We ventured back to the boat, snuggled up on the bed in front of our window and took a nap before dinner.

Our night ended with Jacob standing on the balcony with me & Joe, pointing out the twinkling stars filling up the sky high above us. He then serenaded us with “twinkle twinkle little star”, his pointer fingers dancing up and down to the lyrics.

Perfection.

Cozumel…

Joe & I have had the luxury of visiting Cozumel twice in our short married lives. I have never seen such amazing beaches before. We took a page out of our honeymoon book and decided to tour the island on Monday. With 5 of us, we opted to rent a Jeep – a stick shift, to Joe’s delight.

We drove the entire island, saw the incredible water and enjoyed a yummy Margarita. The day was magnificent. We even had time to grab some vanilla, made locally.

I remember visiting Cozumel on our honeymoon cruise. I sat on the rocks and watched the ocean wash up in front of me. The bright blue water bursting amongst the rocks, turning white with the spray and retreating, just to do it all over again.  I was in awe. Living in Florida, I have some pretty awesome beaches near me…but this was spectacular. 

The beaches are just…breathtaking. The water is the most amazing blue, they are either rock or sand depending on where you go and the waves crash magnificently in front of you. Jacob could feel the spray of the waves while taking in the sites in Daddy’s arms. It was a sight to see. We were excited to visit again and hope to go back again some day.

A day at sea…

On Sunday, we spent the day at sea. It was wonderful. On a massive ship, we did not feel crowded or overrun. I was afraid that seasickness may rear it’s ugly head but I’m glad to say that despite feeling the slight rock of the boat dancing amongst the waves, it has remained at bay.

Jacob loved the pool and especially the hot tub! He had so much fun going in both. Despite his slight fear from swimming lessons, he let go of Daddy within a few minutes and became more and more brave as he swam around with his puddle jumper – always where he could touch, of course. 😉

We awoke to the sun rising above the clouds…it was amazing. We shut off all the lights at night and can watch the ocean from our bed through the window. Jacob took a nice nap halfway Through the day (and Momma too!).

Truly blessed.

What an incredible day at sea. Hope everyone is having a wonderful week!

The last sunset…

A Facebook memory popped up today. This is not unusual, of course, but they typically involve pictures of Jacob. They always make my heart swell, as he continues to grow so much each day. Today’s reminder was different though and it made me pause.

In 2012, Joe & I spent New Year’s Eve at the beach. We enjoyed dinner, a glass of wine and a walk down the beach at sunset. I have always been anxious to be off the roads early on a night like tonight. The picture was of us, smiling broadly, the beach behind us. The very last sunset of 2012 going down in front of our eyes. 

This year, we unintentionally did the same thing. Jacob woke up with a bit of a cold so we changed our plans. We ventured to the beach, enjoyed appetizers at the same restaurant and visited the beach. The sunset in front of us, closing down on 2016.

The amount of things that have changed in 4 short – or long – years is astounding. The restaurant itself went through a massive renovation and was closed for months last year. It was more of a hole-in-the-wall then than now but still just as good. The ocean has remained constant, with its waves crashing loudly, though I can just imagine what has changed beneath the surface. The sunset is equally as gorgeous and glowed brightly against the blue sky as the sun lowered itself down.

Then there is us. My mom joined us this year, which is the first time in over a decade that I’ve spent this night with her. I’ve gained and lost a few pounds over the years and the lines on my face have deepened with age, stress and tears – of laughter and sadness. I’ve been through many hairstyles – straight, long and bald.

We didn’t have the blessing of Jacob back then and little did we know, a year later I’d be proudly holding my belly as we watched the ball drop…struggling to stay awake.

I started a new job since then. Though the same company that I’ve been with, it has been both rewarding and challenging as I learn new things.

We bought a new-used car and our parents (my inlaws) bought a boat to keep us all busy and enjoy the water.

We have traveled to the Caribbean to celebrate my big sisters 30th birthday, visited Georgia countless times to visit my baby sister and her husband, had multiple trips to my hometown for visits with the people we love and trips around Florida to visit friends and local parks.

Life is relatively the same in terms of where we live and yet it is so very different. It’s hard to imagine life before cancer and even harder to remember life before Jacob. Our routines are so different than they were back then and our priorities are very, uniquely different.

We have made more new friends than we can count and though we lost touch with a few, we all found our way back to each other over the last year.

I have rediscovered my faith in God. Though I never lost in entirely, it has strengthened exponentially and I remain steadfast in my faith and love for our Lord.

Though the sunset is similar, the years between are memorable for so many reasons. Our blessings are unique and huge. We are loved by so many and love hard in return.

As this year comes to a close, remember all the moments – big & small – that you are so incredibly blessed with. This year comes to a brilliant end while 2017 lingers, waiting anxiously in the distance.

Happy New Year, everyone. I hope this year is filled with love, laughter and overwhelmingly wonderful memories. Keep spreading the love, my friends. Now & always.

My weekend…

There has been a lot of travel, a ton of appointments and a bit of overall craziness these past few…weeks? Months? I’m not even sure. I can’t remember the last time I went to the beach just to be. 

Somehow the stars aligned and this weekend was beyond beautiful. We finally had our Florida fall weather and it was an incredible 75ish degrees outside as the high! Windows open? Oh, most definitely! 

Yesterday we spent the day with our dear friends and Jacob’s BFF from the womb (who is only a week away in age!). We ventured back to the pumpkin patch we visited together last year and my goodness, what a difference a year makes! The boys ran wild of course but had such a blast. They went to the petting zoo, checked out all of the pumpkins (seriously, I think they touched each one), and of course (Mom’s favorite) the hayride. It was gorgeous outside and such a blast!

Next up, we traveled back to the Choo-Choo train we rode in July and did a special ride that included a pumpkin patch visit. The boys adored the train and had fun running around the (relatively small but perfect for them) pumpkin patch. They had tons of energy (thanks to Jacob’s first Halloween cookie) and used most of it up in the playground afterwards. I am not entirely sure how that many laughs, that much fun and so many memories are allowed in just one day!

Then today. Jacob has been asking for the beach every single day this past week so we knew it was a must – it wasn’t just me getting antsy for a beach day! We enjoyed an awesome lunch with amazing company at one of our favorite places overlooking the beach. Somehow I forgot to take a picture with my in laws and Uncle Tyler. Jacob had so much fun with them and running away from the waves.

After they left for home, we drove down the beach for a bit. It wasn’t packed at all, which was super exciting for us. Though windy, the sun was shining brightly and the day was ridiculously gorgeous. I walked Jacob around for a while, looking for seashells and sand dollars. We found lots of jellyfish and made sure to stop and check each one out. He loved all the little birdies (tweet tweet!) so when he saw a big white bird, he wanted to stop and check it out (oohhhh!). This age is amazing to me. This little man loves to explore & learn and I am not quite sure who enjoys it more…Jacob learning about the world or Momma teaching him about it. It might just be one of the very best feelings ever. Especially when I get to share my own stories with him while teaching. ❤

Eventually he fell asleep, literally trying to hold his head up while his eyes were closing, my poor sweet boy – so tired!  While he slept, Joe & I enjoyed the ocean and each other. The smell, the sounds, the birds grabbing fish out of the ocean right in front of us…perfection. Just being there is calming and relaxing, especially on a day like today.

(Yes, little man totally stole my hat and wore it all day today!)

This weekend was perfect. It was exactly what I needed. A chance to enjoy this beautiful weather, make memories with family and friends and just…be. True perfection. 

Here’s to a fabulous week ahead! 💚 

I’m still here! 

Here I am! Life is keeping me busy as always. We spent this weekend checking out different beach houses and dreaming of waking up to the sound of the ocean. At one point, we drove up to the beach and Jacob’s excitement was adorable! “Beach! Beach! I go beach! Water at beach!” Needless to say, Jacob is a bit of a beach bum – and I would not have it any other way! 😎💚🌊

Visiting the beach, my happy place, made me start thinking about where life takes us. I grew up visiting the beach in Connecticut & Rhode Island since my Dad’s family lived there. When I moved to Florida, I visited the beach often. I took a few years off from it (crazy to think, right?!) but the beach was calling my name all along. I learned that although I enjoy the summers at the beach on occasion, my true joy is winter here. There is nothing quite like walking the beach with a long sleeve shirt and searching for sand dollars. I could spend the day living life just like that. 

So why did I wait to explore this option? Well, I think I’ve realized now that it’s time to make all options a reality. Because…well, why not? Now is as good a time as any. I know that my timing is not actually mine but His. And that although I may not realize it always, His timing is perfect.

So today I ask you, what are you waiting for? What dreams do you have that need (yes, need!) to be a reality? What are you holding onto that is a life goal and yet you can accomplish it now? 

For me, it’s the beach. It’s waking up and feeling the salt air on my face. It’s leaving work and walking the shore. It’s sunsets and sunrises that never get old. It’s seashells and sand dollars everywhere. It’s relaxation. It’s my happy place.

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10