Sunday, March 8, 2015

Take Me Back!

If I didn't have the pictures to prove it, I wouldn't believe that we really did go on a fabulous Caribbean cruise. Our tans have faded, those extra pounds packed on at the late-night buffet have been burned back off, and we've sunk back into our daily grind so that the memory of warm sunshine, swim suits, and alone time feels like a very distant memory. Besides the snow globe and twisty straw sippy cups that we brought home for the boys, these photos are our only souvenir of our once in a lifetime experience. So please excuse me for a minute while I revisit our pictures and take a little mental trip back to that great big boat, that beautiful blue water, and that week where I fell even deeper in love with my sweetheart...................ahhhh.

Bon Voyage!

It's always a little bittersweet to take a vacation without the kids because, although there is no one I'd rather be with than Aaron and our time alone is a treasure, I feel like I'm leaving a piece of my heart back home. Our trip simply wouldn't have been possible without the help of Nana and Papa Grover who generously stepped in for us and showered the boys with lots of love and attention--I don't even think the boys noticed we were gone!

The day that our ship set sail, Aaron's beloved Seahawks battled in a playoff game for a spot in the Super Bowl. While I sipped virgin pina coladas on the dockside, Aaron was down below, gripping the edge of his seat in anxiety over the outcome of the game. As the clock on the game wound down, Aaron and I met in our room to watch the conclusion of the game. The Seahawks won the game in a buzzer-beater play; to say that Aaron was ecstatic would be an understatement. I whispered a silent prayer of thanks--not because I care one bit about the silly ball game, but because I knew that the fate of our entire vacation rested on the outcome of that playoff game. 

Day 2: Princess Cays
Our boat docked at Princess Cays and we were taxied to a manmade version of heaven: a fine white sandy beach with crystal clear blue water, palm trees that swayed gently in the breeze, a blazing sunshine enjoyed from under the protection of a clamshell umbrella, and an all-you-can-eat lunch buffet. After reading, napping, and sunbathing, Aaron and I kayaked but decided it felt a little too much like work and went back to relaxing under our umbrella.

Day 3: At Sea
Just because we weren't on shore doesn't mean we ran out of ways to entertain ourselves. In fact, Aaron contends that our "at sea" days were even more pleasant than our on shore days.
If you see me running, you can safely assume I'm chasing the ice-cream truck because I can't think of any other good reason to do something so monotonous and exhausting. Buuuut, I think I could get a little more enthusiastic about running if I had the amazing equipment that was in the ship's gym and I had this view to distract me. Aaron and I actually really enjoyed starting our mornings (I use the term "morning" loosely...we didn't actually rise until around 9) with a good workout. More proof that anything can be made fun if done together!
 It kind of goes without saying, but I'll mention it just for the sake of authenticity in my documentation...Aaron and I ate like kings. Kings who were training for a competitive food eating event. It is not an exaggeration to say that we consumed upwards of 20 plates of food per day....each! And we weren't even hungry--we just ate because we could!
I'm not much of a critic when it comes to movies or shows--I guess I'm easily entertained--but, honestly, the on-board performances were quite spectacular. It was such a treat to get ourselves cleaned up after spending the afternoon sunbathing by the pool and get dressed up fancy and have someplace to be...pretty fancy for us homebody folk!

Day 5: St. Thomas

Day 6: St. Maarten:
We probably should have done a little more homework before we set off exploring an unknown island in the middle of the Caribbean. If we had done some research, we would have learned that people in St. Maarten (at least the French people in St. Maarten) don't like to wear clothes. Like, any clothes. Naively, Aaron and I thought that if we parked ourselves on the Dutch side of the beach, we'd avoid the injury to our retinas when the age-ed, leather-y, flabby French nudists strolled down the beach sans swimsuit. Wow. That was a cultural education alright.
 My first macaron!

Aside from the French nudists, St. Maarten was exquisitely beautiful and Aaron and I could have chilled on that beach for days. Or years.

I hope Aaron won't be embarrassed by my effusive expressions of love, but I can't help it. I am just head over heals, madly in love with this man.

If you've made it through my travelogue this far, then I will reward you with a good laugh. During the formal night, I insisted that Aaron and I get our pictures taken professionally. He was very reluctant, but I thought the prints would make a great keepsake of our vacation together. I am not sure if our heads stretched or our bodies shrunk, but I don't think I'll be hanging these circus-mirror pictures above my mantel anytime soon:

When Aaron texted me a few months ago to announce that he'd booked a cruise--without any discussion or consultation whatsoever--I immediately felt reckless and guilty. How can we justify spending the money for something so frivolous when we could use the money on so many practical things instead? When I look at these pictures, I quickly realize that there is nothing at the store that we could buy that would be more valuable than the memories that we created together that week that we spent together cruising in the Caribbean. When it's all said and done, will I wish I had bought a new sofa, or will I wish that I had spent time and built new experiences with the one I love most. No question.

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