Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Happy Birthday K2!

Today is the 15th birthday of my 4th niece, the third-born child of my sister P.
I have referred to her here as K2. My sister P decided to tell me that she was pregnant again while she was bleaching my new apartment bathroom! I was going to kill her. But then I was so excited for her and for the fact that I would now have 4 nieces (or my first nephew, because we didn't know at the time). When K2 was born, I was at the hospital waiting with my family and we were all convinced that she would be a boy. So when my brother-in-law came out yelling "It's a girl" we were all so shocked!! Another niece. At least we were used to little girls in our family, so K2 fit right in nicely!

Right after she was born, my brother-in-law had to go away to a conference and my sister was going to be home with the 3 girls by herself. After a 3rd C-Section she was going to need help, so I took a week's vacation and stayed with them. Because K2 was newborn, my main job for the week was to take care of her - feeding, burping, changing, rocking, etc. We bonded that week - I felt so strange the following week when I had to go back to work, it seemed like I was leaving MY child!

On my wedding day, K2 was only 19-months-old so her Aunt on her Father's side brought her to the reception hall for the family pictures. She was so adorable in her cream-colored dress, wobbling around unsteadily. My sister used to call her "Tweety Bird" because she had this little wisp of blonde hair and huge blue eyes. When they were trying to take a photo of my sister's family, she kept leaving the picture and walking over to hug my knees. It was so cute.

Now, K2 is turning 15. It seems like yesterday that she was the little 4-year-old to whom I gave the doll "Molly" from the show "The Big Comfy Couch", and she wanted to know "Where her friend????"! She meant the human clown lady named Loonette!! (Check out the You Tube video here:)

K2 is incredibly artistic - she draws things the way she sees them, and some of her drawings would make an architect jealous. She is also hilariously funny, although her shyness would make you believe otherwise!

So, Happy 15th Birthday, K2. You are beautiful, funny and talented and I know you will go far in life. I love you, Tweety Bird.

Love, AG

Friday, May 1, 2009

Vacation Memories

This is the new version of "The Thinker"!

Our vacation was wonderful. How could it not be? We were on a 900+ foot luxury ocean liner, visiting gorgeous Caribbean islands, eating what and when we want, and meeting people from all over the country and world. There were a lot of New Englander's on this cruise because of school vacation week. We had the amazing opportunity to have dinner with the ship's Doctor - a very interesting man who was born in Australia but is an ER physician in Taiwan. Here is a picture of Hubby and Pal with our very own Adam Bricker:

He told us our cruise was one of the busiest for him - there were a few serious ailments, one man almost died but they were able to stabilize him long enough to get him off the boat in St. Thomas. We actually saw them taking him off the ship and into the waiting ambulance. I sincerely hope he was able to get the proper medical treatment in St. Thomas and is on his way to recovery.

The first place we visited was Samana, which is in the Dominican Republic. This island is lush and beautiful, but also one of the poorest places I have ever been. It was so disheartening to see the poverty, but we also used it as a teachable moment for Pal - he saw how other people have so much less than he does. I can only hope that the images of the dirty children and emaciated animals will stick in his mind the next time he whines about not getting the newest video game or toy! One thing that struck me about the children of Samana, though, was how happy they were - they always smiled as Pal waved to them as we drove by. They were happy with life, not because of what they had or did not have.

This was the waterfall we hiked to in Samana: Gorgeous, huh?

The next island we stopped at was St. Thomas. Hubby and I had been there once on another cruise. We loved the sight of Magen's Bay so much that we vowed to come back and swim there.
So, Pal, Hubby and I went to the beach at Magen's Bay. The water was so crystal clear, and the beach was incredible.

Next, on to Tortola in the British Virgin Islands.
I may have even liked Tortola better than St. Thomas! The first thing we did was "Swimming with Dolphins". Expensive, but totally worth it. The dolphin we had was a 3-year-old male named Atlas. They are such intelligent, gentle creatures, and their skin is so soft and leathery. An experience of a lifetime. I have pictures, but have to scan them in so I will update this post with those as soon as I do it!

After the dolphins, we went to Cane's Garden Bay. Take one look and you'll fall hard:

Here is Pal on the beach at Cane's Bay:

After a full day at sea and nursing our sunburns, our next and final stop was Great Stirrup Cay in the Bahamas - which is NCL's own private island. They tendered you from the ship onto this little strip of land in the middle of the ocean. We were on the 2nd tender of the morning and there was already a race for beach chairs. The other thing that Pal really, really wanted to try was parasailing, but Great Stirrup Cay was the only place that Pal met the age/weight requirements. When we inquired about getting a reservation through the ship, we were told it was sold out. So, as soon as we arrived onto the island, Hubby went right over to the parasailing kiosk and asked if there was any availability. The guy told him that they could go on the next trip out! So lucky! So, before the age of 10, Pal has been swimming with dolphins and parasailing, not to mention going to Hawaii at age 5 and going on a helicopter ride over a volcano!!!

Here is the view of the ship from Great Stirrup Cay:

Here are a couple of pictures of them parasailing:

As you can see, it was quite the trip. None of us got seasick, there was no major travel issues and we came home with lots of memories and pictures. I'll leave you with one of my faves - it was just a comical moment at that kids pool.

Have a great weekend!