Thursday, January 11, 2018

The Big Christmas 2017 Recap....

Whelp, it's 18 days past Christmas and I've finally managed to upload all of my pictures from our week home in Massachusetts.  I'd go with "better late than than never," but in all honestly, I'm just so thrilled that I've even gotten this far!  It didn't help that Nick and I both upgraded our phones last month, so figuring out a delivery system to get pictures from our phones to my computer also took some time (aka - I needed Nick to do it!).  

December seemed to fly by... as it always does each year.  However, this year seemed to have an extra blur factor to it.  After we returned from our Punta Cana vacation, Nick started a new job after being with his old company for 15+ years before it sold this past year.  It's been an adjustment for all of us, including new schedules, routines, and more.  We also tried to squeeze in as much fun as we could before departing for our annual Massachusetts trip.

Before we get started, if anyone needs Girl Scout cookies, you can find Georgia's digital site HERE.  There is a great option for direct shipping this year and from what we've seen, it's also super fast!  If you live near us, just click on the link that allows us to deliver them straight to your house - Georgia would love to bring you some cookies!

Flashing back to December...

Visiting the winter lights at Seneca Park
Not surprisingly, Grant was #notimpressed by his winter sing along at school!  Feliz Navi... did not.  At least he didn't cry!
Fred the Elf joined us for another year of adventures (and jumps out of bed at 6am to make sure he journeyed to his next location!)
Santa Claus came to visit our neighborhood with the local fire department
Georgia introduced Grant to all of our favorite Christmas movies!
I celebrated #38... ain't getting any younger!
We loved asking Alexa to play holiday tunes for us to dance to most nights!
Grant learned some new party tricks...



Annual gingerbread party with our neighbors
Chaperoning Georgia's field trip to the Smithsonian's Natural History Museum
I surprised Georgia with Nutcracker tickets.  It was her first time seeing the show and she loved everything about our special day out!



Early on the morning of the 23rd, we started our annual trek north to New England.  Luckily, most of my crew slept while I drove us up to Connecticut.  Nick took over the driving while we negotiated an ice storm and some slow traffic the rest of the way.  We made it to Mimi's safely and my children immediately started playing with their favorite new toys of the week... Papa's video poker machines!

My favorite little gamblers
The kids made themselves right at home at Mimi's...

Up and down the stairs 3,980 times a day
Making cupcakes for Christmas
We celebrated Christmas Eve with Nick's family at his brother's house.


We got back to Mimi's house and got dressed in our new Christmas jammies for 2017...


Christmas Eve 2017
Even Papa got his own special jammies this year...


Compared to last year, Grant was all in for Christmas this year.  I'm sure by next year, he'll be a pro.

One last look at the tree before heading to bed

We awoke to a winter wonderland on Christmas morning.  Ironically, I was the first one up.  I figured the kids would be up at the crack of dawn, but around 7:30am, I still hadn't heard any little feet running around so I headed upstairs to check out the situation... and to just enjoy the quiet of a beautiful tree with snow falling outside.



Though we eventually had to wake Grant, Georgia was more than willing to wake up for presents from Santa!  

Christmas morning was double the fun this year with Grant quickly grasping the concept of ripping open presents and finding new treasures to love.  For Grant, it was the year of Elmo, a vacuum cleaner (that he LOVES), lots of trucks and toys that make noise (send me strength), airplanes, Little People toys, a new basketball hoop, and a new bus and fire truck to cruise around on.




For Georgia, this was the year of the LOL Surprise dolls, more Shopkins, Fingerlings, a magical fairy wand, and Wonder Woman gear.


My favorite image from Christmas morning was one of pure joy.  I know the years of Georgia believing in the full magic of Christmas are limited, so I wanted to soak in every second of her excitement.  Of course, monkey see/monkey do.  So, if Georgia is excited about something, so is Grant...

Who knew Operation could cause such elation!??!



After the crazy of Christmas morning was over, it was onto playing with as many toys as humanly possible within the next few hours!  



Waiting for Grant to wake up from his nap!
We headed to Auntie's house for family time, dinner and even more presents... and Murphy!

Within Auntie
The "boys" taught Grant all about knuckles.  Not surprisingly, Grant fell in love with the boys just as much as Georgia did when she was his age.



Huge hugs for Nathan
Playing with Murphy and Mr. Mike
And that's a wrap to Christmas 2017.  


Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Punta Cana 2017 - Days 2-4

In case you missed my first vacation recap post, you can find it HERE.  Nick and I decided to escape our crazy household for a few days of drinks, beach/pool, and relaxation!  TGFM... Thank god for Mimi.

After a late dinner on Saturday evening, we crashed back in the room until well past 8am on Sunday morning.  Since I couldn't remember the last time I slept past 8am, I was immediately up and heading to the pool while Nick looked at me like I was insane.  In my world, it was well past mimosa time and I figured I could nap in my cabana!!




One thing that Nick and I loved about the resort was just the sheer number of cabanas and chairs available for seating.  Yes, lots of people went down to the pool at dawn and threw towels on premium seats, but every day, we still managed to get a great spot (and we certainly weren't down there at dawn!).  We've been to other resorts where it feels like a competition to see who can get up the earliest to save chairs.  Not my idea of a good time.


Heading down to the beach to dip my toes
We quickly transitioned into a brunch, late afternoon lunch, and late evening dinner schedule.



We spent 99% of both Saturday and Sunday just lounging by the pool or the beach.  We took some walks on the beach, visited the swim up bar, enjoyed the poolside grill, and loved every second of having no plans for the day!



Sunday was super windy, so Nick convinced me to take out one of the resort's sailboats with him and we zipped up and down the coastline checking out the neighboring resorts.  Compared to our sailing trip in Jamaica where I was thoroughly waterboarded for an hour or so, this little trip was downright relaxing!  Bavaro Beach was a great place to sail since the whole bay area is sheltered by a reef.  So, we just stayed inside the reef area and cruised. 

The hotel surprised me with a birthday cake and a bottle of champagne on Sunday afternoon.  The timing was fairly hysterical as I was only returning to the room for a quick second when our butler (yes, we had a butler and I regret not sneaking him home in my suitcase!) spotted me and then a whole group of butlers burst into our room singing Feliz Cumpleanos!  Nick missed the whole thing as he was still at the pool at the time of my surprise.  To say I was fairly surprised to emerge from the bathroom and find a group of singing men in my room was a major understatement.



Compared to some of the other islands that we've visited in the Caribbean, there wasn't too much fish life right off our beach.  Nick brought his mask/snorkel with him, but didn't spot too much out there.  However, on Monday, he swam out further to the reef and managed to find a few more local guppies to check out while I played lifeguard from the beach.



Each night, we were some of the last people to leave the pool area, which was totally fine with us.  It was well into the 80s, even after the sun went down.  





Although we splurged for a swim out private pool room, I don't think we'd do that again since we just didn't have the time to use it all that much.  Nick took an afternoon dip most days when we headed back to our room to shower and change for dinner, but that was about it.  The other problem was that pool was FREEZING compared to the main pool, so I had no interest in jumping in there, especially when it was in the shade.







As always, the Thomans brought the crazy to the hotel.  Apparently my American hair dryer was way too much for the resort to handle because I managed to knock out power multiple times to our room while attempting to blow dry my horse's mane.  Again, butler to the rescue (and I learned how to say "our room has no power" in Spanish!).


Nick to the rescue flipping the power back on to the main room
Our hotel was absolutely beautiful.  Based on the interior/exterior and landscaping, we thought it had to be fairly new.  We were surprised to find a plaque one night that mentioned that it was almost 10 years old.  You would never know it.  Everything looked brand new and the staff obviously took a lot of pride in making sure that you were VERY happy during your stay.


Lobby area
Interior of our hotel wing
Outside our room
Nick surprised me with a birthday dinner on the beach on Sunday night.  I had pretty much figured out the surprise since Nick's ability to lie is atrocious and I'm apparently "the worst person to plan a surprise for" (not my words, but he's totally right!).

I'm not quite sure I would label it as "romantic dinner" since the resort seemed to think that a boom box blaring 80's rock ballads was important to our beach dinner.  I'm not going to lie - I LOVED the 80's music.  I spent the whole dinner rocking out to Paula Abdul, Sheena Easton, Journey, the "Pretty Woman" soundtrack, etc.  It was like Nick's own personal karaoke concert (I'm sure he was thrilled).  Give me a bottle of wine and some 80's tunes and I'm a blast.



They "volunteered" to take some pictures of us at our dinner, which then turned into a mini photo shoot where they directed Nick to propose to me again, which was HYSTERICAL!  Our waiter didn't seem to notice our awkwardness as they posed us...











Unfortunately, our trip ended way too quickly.  On Tuesday morning, I was up bright and early again in order to take advantage of our last morning in Punta Cana.  I managed to score a premium cabana while Nick snoozed for another hour.  He missed out on "breakfast happy hour," as I called it.




Nick joined me in time for a morning dip... and to swim over to the bar to grab me a drink!
Mid-morning mudslide

Look at those relaxed people!
Parents gone wild 2017!
As always, the Thomas family enjoyed their time away from reality!



Again, compared to some other Caribbean islands that we've visited over the years, we were highly impressed with the Punta Cana airport!  From curb to security, we were done and through in just minutes.  I love small airports where you walk out to your plane!



And home we go...





A huge thanks to Mimi, who managed not only 2 children, 2 school schedules, Girl Scouts, gymnastics, but also a snowstorm in our absence!  Getting Grant into/out of the car is a total adventure these days, so there's also that adventure.  

Time to start planning Nick's 40th in the spring...