We've had such an eventful past few months I guess I'll record something besides our cruise. These are the pictures of Denny's wedding day. It was such an awesome day!!! My handsome little Det looked like such a stud in his suit. Even if I did accidently pack him two right shoes (then I was all "darn getting hand me downs from twins!" then I realized they weren't even the same shoe. Oops!)
The temple ceremony was so perfect. Well, besides that "some" siblings almost missed it. But once everyone was safely in their seat it was beautiful. The reception was awesome as well and it was so fun to see everyone who came. It was Easter weekend and spring break and seriously almost everyone I talked to mentioned slipping away from their Easter party or leaving early. We have some really awesome friends!
There was a photo booth at the reception. It was AWESOME!!! We were all so in love with it. I had to casually ask the guy running the photo booth to make sure there wasn't a charge per photo because it's safe to say each of Denny's nieces and nephews has a stack of photos with them and each person at the reception as well as each prop.
We're all holding the props to each other on this one, that's why my mustache is kind of a beard! The colors were mint green and navy blue. It was pretty fun getting them all coordinated. I was bummed because Dave's tie was from Giff's wedding and it was so perfect I thought it would be awesome if anyone still had a little boy tie from Giff's wedding for Det. But not a single one! I even had Shirelle contacting all of her sister's but I guess people don't hang on to ties for five years so whatever. (obviously Dave does:))
I loved this table Cort included with pictures of my mom and Ryan.
Det and the guys were dancing like crazy. Det got so hot and sweaty he started to feel sick! I was so glad we had a change of clothes for him. He ditched his suit and went for the casual wear pretty soon after the pictures.
Obviously I did not get great pictures. Dave got into some trouble because he was standing at the weirdest angle and I was like, um, the advantage to being ten feet tall is that you can stand right behind the photographer and get the same shot. But he was too shy I guess? So all my pictures are from the side.
Denny and Cort made the cutest couple EVER!!! Cort looked like a super model! All of her bridals that were on display could have been straight out of a magazine!
I was out and about this morning and called to check on my family.
Dave: (groans) "someone spilled cereal and they used not one not two not three not four not five not six not seven not eight not nine not ten not eleven not twelve not thirteen not fourteen not fifteen but SIXTEEN wash cloths to clean it up."
I was laughing so hard I had tears rolling down my cheek.
Anyone want to guess who the 16 washcloth culrpit was?
One of the days we were promised a great trophy if we completed a scavenger hunt with several different challenges. It was so super fun and we had to take a picture of our family completing the challenges. This one would be "start on congo line on Lido deck with at least 10 people". Holla for the family of six who only had to find four unsuspecting but willing passersby to join and one random photographer.
Another part of the challenge was walking up all 12 flights of stairs and getting a picture on each deck so we decided to act out the deck we were on. This one is Verandah.
Lido-the party deck!!!
Spa deck, so everyone is getting and giving a massage, except me. I'm only receiving because that's how it should be.
Dave was the master of MINUTE TO WIN IT. I video-ed him on stage but my pride keeps me from posting. Obviously I'm not one to avoid posting pictures where I look less than stellar. Actually I could really careless and I can't believe it when my friends make people take down Facebook photos because their arm looks chubby or something. But the video. My voice. Okay, even I was like, "Kira. Shhhhhhhhh." The whole time, "go Dave!!! Oh Yeah!!! You got this!!! Woot!!!" But Dave was the first volunteer and you can see from the shine around his neck he was also the first winner.
I keep trying to move on but my obsession continues. I thought checking prices for a fall cruise would be a fleeting dream that would have died down by now...
Our third stop was St Thomas and it was our absolute favorite!!! I was getting so many conflicting opinions on where to go but had heard that Coki beach has some of the best snorkeling ever. I figured Dave and I could rotate snorkeling while the kids played on the beach. Well, this beautiful place was so incredibly amazing that Allie and Detmer became snorkel addicts. Even Kendall and Maci loved to be carried out into the water to look down at the masses of colorful fish swimming all around us. When we fed them they would even jump out of the water. We've done a lot of snorkeling and St Thomas is hands down the best. St Thomas has a beach that is ranked one of the top 5 in the world, but we've already decided when we go back we will head straight to Coki. It was perfect for the kind of entertainment we love. Det was such a pro snorkeler. Allie had fun, too, but was not as adventerous. I could have done it for hours and hours. It was awesome!
That would be Allie. And I guess it's good that we didn't have an underwater camera because pictures of fish are even more boring than people who go on and on in several different posts about their vacations.
This baby was sooo exhausted at this port. She slept for a couple hours on her lounge chair.
I must have gotten confused: are we supposed to be doing silly faces or pretend sleeping?
Antigua was our second stop. We had a blast, even though the water was not as clear as it was in Tortola. The other thing we didn't like was there was a ton of people on the beach trying to sell jewelry and purses and stuff. Ugh! Other than that we loved the place so much! Dave and Det played football on the beach for hours. A few years ago my dad wrote a story about the church in the Carribean (St. Kitts to be specific). I mentioned to Dave I wondered what the church was like around these areas. Well, on our way back to the ship I saw two guys walking in church clothes. I was like, "no way is that missionaries". Pretty soon we hear, "Go Cougars!" And it was, in fact, two missionaries. It was a lot of fun to chat with them and hear about the church in Antigua. They even told us they felt weird being down by the port because they are never in that part of town. So it was my lucky day. They told us that there were two members working down there and pointed them out to us. Later we went back to one of the shops and talked to one of the members. The shop was owned by a member as well so of course we had to show our support and make our big purchase their;) (a magnet). Raymond (the member) had served a mission in Santo Domingo and has also just returned from serving for four months in the Santo Domingo temple. The missionaries said the work was busy and the members were doing a great job at getting referrals. From the ship, we could see the church on a hill. It was easy to pick out and definitely stood out!
Our sweet ship!
A couple of the days at Camp Carnival involved face painting!
And warding off aliens with these hats.
Of course, the kids loved to get back to the room and find out what animal was waiting. They especially loved the monkey hanging from the ceiling.
Kendall lived in that dang tube. She spent hours and hours in it. Thank you Dollar Tree!
We built a little pool on the beach and the kids had a blast in it.
We picked our hotel in Florida based on the fact that it had a free airport shuttle and cruise transfers. We've stayed in a whole lotta hotels and this one was the nastiest. It was SO dirty! You could tell it wasn't even dusted. And we are not picky. But it gets decent reviews on Trip Advisor. There was a family checking out before there reservation expired because it was so dirty. Would I stay there again to save a few bucks? You bet.:) We did have a lot of fun there swimming and playing. There were lizards EVERYWHERE so the kids liked looking at them crawling all around. We always play this game in the hot tub when the jets are on where we pretend that we fall into this deep whole so we stay under the water awhile and pretend to swim all the way back up. So Det and I were playing that game and Maci was sitting on the edge with her feet in the hot tub sucking her two fingers, not a care in the world. All the sudden she stands up at the water's edge and says, "I'm going to jump in the whole." And jumps right in the hot tub. She seemed so shocked by what she had done. That is not like her to jump in unless she is being caught. Det and I laughed for hours over that one.
So we arrived at the ship, the kids all in orange and soooo excited and everyone was SOOO nice. The check-in was so smooth. We couldn't believe how fast it was. In no time flat we were on the ship. We went straight to get lunch and this random guy (an employee, of course) helped us get all the kids lunch and carried almost everything for me. It was awesome!!! That same night there was a party for the kids planning to attend Camp Carnival. There was a couple families there, but either the kids wouldn't come out or the parents wouldn't come out but the whole Steffensen family was representing the Mormons (ie: how to make an idiot of yourself and not even needing an ounce of alchol to do so:)) We tore up the dance floor and took home several prizes for our mad skills. (which I'm almost certain we would have done, anyway, even if other families showed up. haha!)
They gave us an agenda for Camp Carnival and there is seriously something fun going on every second! The kids could hardly wait to get there every morning and whenever we weren't there they were like, "what are we missing at Camp Carnival?!!!" They did like the ports best and if they are asked their favorite thing about the trip, the beach will win everytime. Must be an inherited trait.
I loved eating breakfast in the main dining, because, well, I loved things where I didn't have to lift a finger. So after breakfast we'd head straight for Camp and if we were early the kids loved to lay on the chairs (but ONLY if we were early!).
Ice cream every single night on our way back from Camp Carnival. Det LOVED it!
The open air taxi in Tortola. Tortola could write THE book on how to take care of tourists. They were SO organized and not pushy or anything. The nice thing about all these ports is that while they do have set prices, they were flexible with the kids so it saved us a ton of money. We were able to do all our shore trips for the price of about one excursion booked through Carnival. When we got to the security check on the ship the officer said, "if you liked it here, tell all your friends to visit Tortola!" And I did, so I will.
I did a TON of research to try and find the best stops at each port. I had a couple ideas in mind for Tortola and what we ended up doing was Cane Garden Bay. It was AWESOME! There was another possiblity I had kind of wanted to try where we could have done surf lessons but I got overwhelmed and this was a great pick. Though I would love to go to Tortola again and surf!
Each beach we went to had an umbrella and chairs to rent, which was totally worth every cent. We came home with the bright whitest kids to visit the Carribean! They all loved playing in the sand!
The water was so clear, we saw several fish even without snorkel gear. They were mostly small and all the same but it was still awesome.
Sipping pina colada on this beautiful beach with the wind blowing through her hair. Okay, actually that's just her beach hair. She looks like a mad scientist and I'm pretty sure I'm still washing the sand out of her hair!
We left to the airport to fly to Ft. Lauderdale before 4 am. Not my first choice but I thought at least the kids would be tired and hopefully sleep on the plane. I wasn't worried about Maci flying, she's so chill. Allie and Det were super excited and I knew they wouldn't be a problem. But my little Wild Card didn't let me down. Kendall started to fuss right when we got on the plane. I tried bribing, coaxing, threatening (you're going to get kicked off the plane if you don't stop crying!). No success. Kendall made Maci give her the carseat and of course Maci was like, yeah yeah whatever. Finally we were off. And that was what made Kendall stopped crying. She was intrigued by the speeding off of the runway and flying into the air. She did awesome the rest of the flight. When we landed in Dallas to make our connection, we learned our flight to Ft. Lauderdale was cancelled. I'll leave out the part about the evil American Airlines "customer service" rep, since I want to forget it. But anyways, he basically said our only option is to go try and get on stand-by for the next flight to Ft. Lauderdale, all the while informing us that the flight was already over booked and we wouldn't make it. By some miracle we finally made it on a flight, but not before we waited 8 hours in the Dallas airport (our original layover was 40 minutes). This won't be the last time I say this: the kids were AMAZING!!! They did much better with the change of plans then Dave and I did. I have always been an anti-electronics mom. I just hate them. I hate the TV, ipods, computers, etc. My kids don't even know how to work our computer and I'm grateful their cousins have taught them because I know it is a skill they need to have. In the past couple months I have tried to cut out weekday TV (don't tell Dave). It is so much more peaceful for the kids to read before bedtime instead of wanting to watch a show. Anyways, as we sat in the Dallas airport with four totally content kids during an unexpected 8 hour layover I vowed to Dave I will never speak ill of electronics again. We had so many people notice the kids and point out their awesome behavior, and I really think I will try harder to do that because I think it really helped the kids. They were eating up all the compliments! How often do we see something but chose NOT to say something? We heard some of the nicest compliments of our lives on this trip. Maybe I will list them all so I don't forget. Haha! It really did mean so much to us. We were such a novelty. Hardly anyone could believe we had FOUR kids. Now I know just how the Duggars feel.
Oh and also since I'm going to drag on my vacation log for as long as possible, I'm sure I'll repeat myself a lot. I can't wait to see how many more times I mention all the compliments we got about our awesome kids.