}

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Hoop Time!

Last weekend was a big day for us, one I hope to remember for a long time. We had our very own basketball installed in our house and it was such a party. We're just making dreams come true left and right over here.

Andrew and I both grew up with a love for basketball. When I was around 4 years old I still remember going over to my neighbors across the street and shooting hoops in their yard. I was one of the few girls in the neighborhood and wanted so badly to be one of the boys. I was convinced if I could get good enough they would let me play with them. So I started practicing - over and over and over. I started dribbling, then shooting, then both. After a while I was one of the boys, and I have the greatest memories growing up playing basketball and learning the game from the neighborhood crew. 

I got my first "real" hoop when I was 5 years old and I'll never forget being in the garage with my dad (it was March and was freezing) and having him assemble it for me that night so I could play on it. I was so excited to get out there and the sound of a ball bouncing will forevermore remind me of my dad. I would shoot outside for hours growing up and any time I ever asked him to come out and play with me he never hesitated. Looking back now I realize I also took for granted the fact that he never asked me to go play. Both my parents were awesome at never making me practice or pushing me. Now that I'm older I realize how cool this was. They just encouraged me and seriously couldn't care less if I was good or not. How I hope I can be that awesome with my kids one day! 

Andrew and I met when we were about 10 years old playing super league basketball on the same team. His dad was our coach and we both loved the game! Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that SIXTEEN years later we'd be married and installing a monster basketball hoop for our own kids to grow up on. I can't wait for all the memories that lie ahead on this court!

We had so much fun putting this hoop up and luckily have amazing neighbors to help us. Just the backboard alone was over 300 pounds so it was a beast. Andrew's family came over to help as well and his mom and sister and I had fun laying around the court and hanging out while it all came together (we were there for moral support). It went surprisingly smooth and only took about an hour (we had the concrete poured for the base about a week ago so the hard part was already done!) The only hiccup was my fault - I was supposed to slip a pin in when they lifted the hoop up into place and I totally panicked and couldn't get it in. Our amazing neighbor Siua took over though and we got it put together. It was so much fun and I was like a giddy little schoolgirl seeing it come together. We were nerds and fought over who would take "the first shot" and Andrew won. 




Like I said, super smooth and we've already had SO much fun on it. The night we got it up we played our first game of horse (much to Andrew's horror I beat him) and we have had a lot of intense "tornado" battles with all our neighbors. 

Can't wait for all the memories that lie ahead on this beauty!

xoxo
-steph

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Eastern Caribbean Recap


It's been a few weeks since our trip but I wanted to make sure to document this one because it was a goodie! We haven't done a long trip with just the two of us since our honeymoon, so last fall Andrew and I decided we would be needing a fun getaway as soon as he finished up finals. We took off and headed to Orlando for some theme park adventures and then off to a cruise of the eastern Caribbean. On this trip we hit up Universal Studios, St. Thomas (my favorie), St. Maarten, and Disney World. We were gone for 12 days but it felt like months! Andrew has been working so hard in school and I had been really busy at work so this was a much needed getaway for us both. I hope we always take time to go on trips with just the two of us even after we have kids and busier lives because it really does bring us closer and seeing new things and new places together is priceless! 

We made the(brave)decision to take a red-eye out to Orlando on Friday night so we could spend the whole day Saturday at Islands of Adventure in Universal Studios before our cruise took off on Sunday. We got there WAY early so we were able to hit up all the "big" rides before the lines got too long later in the day. We were way mature and sped walk/semi-ran to the Hulk roller-coaster ride when it opened so we could be the first ones on it. We may or may not have been surrounded by 12-14 year olds that were running with us and I didn't even care. It was a blast, we rode the Hulk 3 times and some of the other big roller coasters until we started feeling light-headed and headed over to Harry Potter World. 
Harry Potter World was the main reason we wanted to come to Islands of Adventure. I have geeked out over many things Harry Potter since I was in middle school and the books first came out. I've dreamt about playing Quidditch, tasting Butterbeer, and riding the Nimbus 2000 for as long as I can remember. I have had a crush on Ron Weasley since he grew muscles in the fourth video and always wanted to be friends with Hermione. No joke I tried to recreate "Butterbeer" at my house when I was 12. These books and movies both were so much fun, Andrew and I even had a marathon and watched all the movies over Christmas break just last winter. We are seriously so cool I can't even believe it sometimes. ANYWAYS - it was such a fun place and definitely did not disappoint. I felt pretty dorky being as excited as I was, but then I saw 35-40 year olds in full wizard attire waving their wands and casting spells and I felt way better about myself. Highlights of this place were: hands-down trying Butterbeer (a perfect combination of Cream Soda and Butterscotch, just as I imagined!), the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey Ride, and people-watching,of course. 

We had a ball and were sad to leave but we were pretty pooped when we took off from the red-eye the night before. Actually we were so delirious I'm 90% sure I left my wallet in a taxi cab, never to be found. So that was a pretty rad way to start my trip. I got over it though and (luckily) had my passport in my suitcase. We headed back to the hotel and swam and ate before heading to the ship the next day.

We were able to get on the ship pretty early Sunday which was awesome because we had most of the day on it before we even took off. Our ship was the "Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas" and it  blew my mind. It was HUGE! They said it was 4 times the size of the Titanic. There was a flow rider, 3 pools, a rock wall, basketball court, mini golf, ice skating rink, and tons of other fun things that made my childish self giddy. We ate, swam, each read a book, and even made some new friends. 
^^rockin the one piece on day one^^
^^we averaged about 10 of these ice-cream cones per day^^
^^i think he is a babe in sunglasses^^
^^we ate breakfast and lunch here everyday^^
 The first stop on the cruise was Coco Cay, Bahamas. It was so pretty and fun. We swam, relaxed, and people-watched (my favorite thing ever)the whole day. It was so awesome to wake up and have no plans and nothing to do. 

We had a few sea days where we just cruised. We filled these days with lots of eating, swimming, reading, a nap every single day, and went to a lot of shows at night. They had a pizza restaurant where we went and all the time (on top of our other meals) and a yummy bakery with cookies. Seriously eating was all. we. did.

We also had a couple of formal nights. On these nights we stayed dressed up for an hour at the most. We had to in order to eat, so that was our incentive. ;) It was fun being fancy for a short time though, but the second we could we were back in our swimming suits.

^^Andrew trying to replicate the towel bunny...don't ask^^



 We met some cool friends from Virginia and had a fun time getting to know them and hanging out with them a little bit. They were a cute couple and we ate most meals with them, saw an ice show together, and watched an outdoor movie at night in the pool together.



^^the shopping area on the ship^^
^^how does this type of sunburn even happen? ^^

^^at one of the shows, yes I wore a sweater the A/C was blasting^^
 The next stop we made was St. Thomas and it was a dream! We woke up on the prettiest island that I couldn't believe was even real. At the last second we signed up for a small excursion that gave us 2 hours shopping, 2 hours at Magen's Bay beach, and then a ride(that made us scared for our lives)up to the top of a hill for to a beautiful look-out area. It ended up being great because we got to do a little bit of everything and didn't have to worry about getting around. We did some shopping for our families and I got a sweet knock-off Michael Kors purse and Andrew got some Ray Bans. 
^^had to have my Diet Coke & lime^^
Magen's Bay was sooo pretty. We swam and explored around the beach and I felt like a character out of Pirates of the Caribbean, it was unreal. 
^^foxy..^^
^^in the "taxi" to the lookout area. it was basically a truck with semi-secured benches...sketchy^^ 
^^looking out over the island, the pictures don't do justice^^ 
^^all the bushes were so vibrant...dreammmmy^^
^^view of our ship as we rode up the hill^^
I could have stayed on this island for months, it was so beautiful! I was so sad to leave.

The last island we stopped at was St. Maarten. This was a fun island and we were feeling a little more adventurous so we signed up for a Catamaran snorkel and beach excursion when we got off the ship. We were a little nervous but was half the price of the ship excursions and ended up being so much fun. We had a small group of only about 10 people or so and had such a fun day. We snorkeled, explored ship wreckage, and got to watch airplanes take off and land at the famous "Airport Beach". We paddleboarded and swam and laid around on the most dreamy sandy beach and the clearest waters I've ever swam in! 
^^while we were waiting to get on the boat an old lady mistakenly thought we were the couple from the "Newlywed" game the night before. Instead of embarrassing her we just talked to her and pretended we were the couple for a good 15 minutes. it was awesome. ^^
^^riding the Catamaran around the island^^
I didn't get a very good picture but Airport Beach was so crazy. The runway is just a few feet from the beach so planes take off and land and it looks like they are going to hit the people. We sat and watched planes come and go and it was so nuts. This is a pic I stole off the internet of the place:
^^shading myself from the sun, naturally^^
We had another "day at Sea" before heading back to Orlando and it was a lot of fun. We had another "formal" night and went and saw a pretty sweet ice show that evening. 



Nighttime was my favorite time on the ship. Andrew and I would walk around on the decks and listen to the water. We'd go up to the very front of the ship and we'd be completely alone looking out at the stars and water. There was nothing around us and it was so peaceful and quiet. We'd take blankets up and talk and talk with no distractions. We also loved to play shuffleboard at nighttime and got a little competitive...

When finally had to get off the ship we were both pretty bummed. The trip felt way long but at the same time went too fast. Luckily we got off the ship super early on Sunday so we headed to Disney World to drag our trip out as long as possible! It was a lot of fun and covered a lot of ground! We rode every ride and stuck around for the electric parade that night.
^^we did not plan to match in pink. at this point in the trip our clothing choices were pretty limited...^^
^^we couldn't leave without the classic Splash Mountain pic^^
One of my favorite memories of this trip was when we were driving to Disney World. It was Mother's Day and Andrew surprised me with this pretty Michael Kors watch he had bought for me on the ship with his blackjack winnings extra money. It was the sweetest surprise and I couldn't believe he had remembered to get me something for Mother's day while we were on vacation. I'm not even a mom. He is a winner. 

And of course the trip wouldn't be complete without getting pulled over at 12:30am while heading to the airport! Apparently our rental cars taillights weren't on. Andrew batted his beautiful eyleashes and we got away with just a warning, close call. We headed on our way and spent the night with a few hours' nap at the airport and took an early flight home Monday. We literally sucked every minute out of this trip that we could and it was amazing but it felt good to be home! 

This was such a great trip and I am so grateful we were able to go. There were a few times when I was on the most beautiful beaches or looking up at the stars that I couldn't help but thank Heavenly Father for creating such beautiful places and giving me this life I have. Life is such a crazy ride and it goes too freaking fast! Sometimes I get caught up in the busy day-to-day and small things that don't matter. It felt good to smell the roses and spend some quality time making memories with my lovely man. 

Can't wait to go back!

xoxo
-steph