Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween at Mark's work

On Friday afternoon Mark's work had a holiday fun afternoon for families/kids. Maggie came along with the girls (Dylan was in school). Cadence was a princess with wings, Isabelle a ballerina and Maggie Strawberry Shortcake. They were super excited to be dressed up and headed out!
There were all kinds of fun stuff for them besides picking out candy from all over the building.


Mark was getting creative with the girls making puppets with paper bags. :)




They got their hair colored pink with sparkles!


This is the girls sitting at their daddy's desks. You can pick out Cadence behind Maggie where the 2nd pink balloon is. How is it possible for Mark and Israel to sit sooooo close to one another at work!


Mark had dressed up in the morning for work. He looked pretty amazing in his costume (j/k)! He completed his look with shaved lines in his his hair...just like Vanilla Ice back in the day. Needless to say that he now has a shaved bald head. :)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Conversation this morning:

Cadence: that song just told a lie
Me: what do you mean?
Cadence: it said lied
Me: no, it said true love died

a moment of pause

Cadence: no, it was saying that God would save us from the evil Dr. PorkChop (from Toy story of course).

She was so serious when saying all this. I instantly starting laughing, it was the highlight of my morning! :)

Student of the Month

Dylan is student of the month for November! There was a award ceremony on Friday for him to get his certificate & t-shirt...it also happened to be dress up day and the little kids at school got to do a parade for the older kids after the assembly. Dylan is in the batman cape & hood. :)




Good job Dylan - I'm proud of you!!

Jake & Janae had a sleep over last night because Jon & Jolene were in Hawaii for vacation. They came over in the morning and had a great time playing together. After lunch a dance party began with Cadence and Janae...
which lead to all of them having a dance party...


which lead to them "being a band" and pulling out all the instruments.




The afternoon ended with the boys building a fort outside and trying to figure out ways to spy on the girls who were playing dolls in the room. :)


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Piano

Yesterday the girls were playing on the piano at my mom's house. The piano always brings back good memories. It is the piano my sister and I practiced our lessons on...although I unfortunately don't remember anything I learned now.


The clock on top was my grandfathers (on my mom's side) and it is beautiful.

It's interesting how objects can trigger strong memories, these things do that for me. I hope they stay in our family for ages to come.


Friday, October 21, 2011

Playground School Days...

Remember the days of tether ball on the playground? I would play every recess, come home with broken vessels on the side of my hands from hitting the wrong spot...but it never stopped me from playing.

I went to school a bit back for lunch with Dylan and stayed for his recess time and it looks like Dylan likes to play also. :)



Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Jamaica coming to an end...

This is our last morning on vacation. The house is quiet and all I hear are the waves crashing on the beach close by. It has been such a amazing trip! Here are a few images & people who helped us on this adventure. :)

This is Keith, he has been our driver for 4 of the days here and we rode in his air conditioned (thankfully) van around. He was a very nice man...but would I recommend him to someone else to use? Ummm, probably not. He was a bit scary with his driving a few times. The driving and roads here are ridiculously scary, we had thought about possibly driving on our own and am so thankful we went with someone driving us.



This is Mavis, she is as sweet as she looks in this picture. :) She has been our cook and housekeeper while at the cottage. There are not any restaurants or really anything within walking distance, so she took us shopping at the little market here and has prepared all our food...which has been 2 of our favorite meals while on the island. The others, well...you'll have to keep reading to see the few meals we didn't care for. :)
The picture above is me writing down the recipe for the 2 dishes we liked.

This is her buying our fruit and veggies out of the trunk of a car that just randomly pulled up in front of our house. He had a scale for weighing on top of his car and everything. :) Random.


This is Ackee. It is the national fruit, it is prepared with a fish and eaten for breakfast. The black part is a seed that is removed and if the fruit is closed like the one at the top of picture is is poisonous and will kill you if you eat the fruit, it has to be opened naturally (not pried open) like the 2nd whole fruit and then it is perfectly fine to eat. She asked if we wanted to try and we said, "sure, why not". :)


Here it is prepared for our breakfast yesterday. We should have just stuck with eggs...it was not to our liking. The texture is something between a scrambled egg and very ripe avocado...not good. Mark ate a bunch even though he didn't like it because he didn't want Mavis to know we didn't like it, we didn't want to hurt her feelings. He took one for the team. :)


This dish was for dinner. Again we went out on a limb and said we would try a local dish that is served in all traditional Jamaican restaurants. Curried goat...yep, goat!

She spent all afternoon preparing the meat, I happened to walk in while she was cutting up the goat in the sink and if you know me at all I am pretty picky with the meat I eat. It was nasty.

The dish was bright green with a yellow residue on the side...scary but I was committed to give it a try. Mark was first and he said it was "gamey" tasting. I then was 2nd to try and I put the bite in took one chew and it came right back out again. It was not good...Israel and Kati didn't even give it a try if I wasn't willing to eat it. :)

So again, we didn't want to hurt Mavis' feelings by not eating the food, so we bagged up the food and threw it away at a trash near the market so she wouldn't know. :) Her other meals were so amazing, we kept saying how we should have had her prepare one of those again...oh well, now Mark and I can say we have tried goat! :)



This is a almond tree. They are beautiful and all around the island. I had no idea that is how they looked. The inside is fleshy and bright red with a citrus smell, then there is a shell and then the almond is inside the shell.



Some pictures of "critters" that were around. As soon as the sun went down a very loud noise would rise, it sounded like a squeeky swing set. It was so loud, I slept with the pillow over my head the first night. The little frog in the picture above is the reason....well, maybe him and like 100 more. It was incredible that such a small creature could make such a big noise.


We all had fears on this trip. Israel's were bats, Mark was the dark of the cave, mine is being in the water where I can't see (and ok, maybe cliff jumping also :). But Kati made me laugh so much because her biggest fear was the sand crabs! They were cute little guys, the same color as the sand, the picture above you can just barely make out his black eyes, if you make the picture larger you can see it. She would be afraid of them crawling on her...but they would scuttle away as soon as there was a movement.


And a snail from the cliffs. We went snorkeling (except Kati, she would get sea sick every time we went) in a area on the other side of the jetty yesterday. It was so incredible. There were conch shells all over, I picked one up and under were two wirey starfish. We saw all kinds of sea urchins/puffy & spiney things. Schools of little & medium sized fish. Some bright blue and yellow, manta rays and the highlight for me was a set of around 8 little squid. The just sat there looking at us in a row and then swam off. :)


All great things must come to a end.

It was such a great trip.

I am not excited about leaving but I am excited about seeing the kids...I miss them!


Jamaica, you will be missed!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

River & Caves

Yesterday we did some more exploring of some places on the side of the island we are staying now. The first stop was the Green Grotto Caves. These are a set of two very large caves and is a large tourist attraction. We were assigned a tour guide and then were instructed to put on a hard hat with a mesh hair net underneath (for sanitary purposes of course :)).



As soon as we went into the very large cave opening there were bats flying everything. If you click on the picture and make it larger you can see the size of the bat with it's wing opened...yep, they were a bit creepy. Israel was stiff for most of the tour with anxiety from the bats, he didn't enjoy this stop very much.


Once we entered the 2nd cave our guide asked us if we like snakes. Kati speaks up and says, "OH, I don't like snakes!" and stops right where she was. He said there are boa constrictors around and he started looking for one. He finally found one laying at the bottom of a long tube like formation. Nice and far away. Kati needless to say no longer enjoyed this stop either from this point on. :)




The caves were originally used by slaves that were escaping and then to flee from the Spanish during war. It then was turned into disco/bar for a few years. I honestly can't image being in this cave at night, he said the bats were still out but further in the cave due to the noise. After that the government took possession of the cave and made it into a tourism spot.




You can't really see it in the picture but the 2nd cave we went to had a very large mineral lake, it was crystal clear but toxic from all the bat droppings which have nitrate in it. Our guide turned off all the lights at this point to show what it was like in the dark...you couldn't see a drop of light. This gave Mark anxiety. :)




We then headed to the Dunn's river which is where a river turns into a fall and then flows into the ocean. We pulled up and there were tour buses everywhere (the cruise ship port is pretty close by)...this is our first time running into a lot of tourists and we were thankful that up until now we had eluded being around a lot of other people.



The plan was to hike/climb up the falls. We started at the beach and started our way up. There was a option to use a guide with a bunch of other people but we opted to do it on our own. It was fun finding our way up the falls, stepping down and not being quite sure where the bottom was. It was beautiful. I couldn't bring the camera along but it really was amazing! These pictures are at a spot that is about half way up the river.



It was such a great adventure!

Our new home - Nutshell Cottage

This is where we have stayed for the last 2 nights. The house name is called Nutshell Cottage and it is in Silver Sands in Duncans. It is to the East about 2 hours from where we stayed the first few nights.

It is super cute and welcoming.

The rooms all had towels in different shapes with fresh flowers tucked in.


The first day we arrived it had been raining for most of the day so in the late afternoon when the sun came out we went to explore the beach which is a few yards from our house.

Beautiful!




There was not a single other person on the beach. We felt like we had our own private beach!


Can you see the rainbow in the distance just to the left of Mark? There was actually a double rainbow but the 2nd one was very faint. It is surreal to be in such a amazing place and to have it all to ourselves!


This is the view to the left of our beach from our house.

(Mark took this great picture :))


This is our view to the right.

The water is warm with the right away of waves...not too big and not too small.


It is paradise. I think this is my new favorite vacation!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Cliff Jumping Video

Video of me finally jumping off the cliff. :)



video

Jamaica exploring



The last two days have been relaxing & fun.

We went snorkeling a few times, right off the reef at our hotel.


The boys relaxing/floating in the Caribbean!


Cliff jumping, this also is right where we were staying. There was a cove in the cliffs that was the perfect spot for jumping. It also gathered a audience when one of us would get ready to jump.


I didn't want to jump but told everyone that I would do it the morning before we left this hotel. So yesterday morning when we were having breakfast Kati made me change into my swimsuit and go do it so we didn't run out of time (or that I wouldn't chicken out) before our driver came to pick us up. I finally got to the top and then had huge anxiety, Kati and I decided to go but then I just couldn't do it and she ended up in the water and I was still up top. :) I did FINALLY jump after a few false starts. I have a video...maybe I'll post when I get home. It's pretty funny.


We had dinner at a famous restaurant/bar called Rick's Cafe. It is famous because there is a very high makeshift tower/plank that the locals cliff jump from.

The picture above is at the cove at the restaurant. The locals were only jumping from the lower sign, it would have great to have been able to see them jump from the top





The last two days have been rainy but we still ventured out and did some exploring. The first stop was a small cave that was located at a restaurant. Our driver told us about it and showed us around. It lead out to the ocean. There were fruit bats flying all around, it was a bit creepy (Israel especially didn't like the bats! He screamed like a little girl at one point. :))


Our next stop was Royal Palm Nature preserve. By the time we got there it had been raining for quite awhile so it was actually closed. But there was a guard who let us in after we slipped him some money. We had the whole place to ourselves. It was so lush and beautiful. There were boardwalks through a maze of trees/plants and a lagoon.


This is a view from the top of a wooden look out tower. Amazing view!



The day ended with the best meal we have eaten so far at a hotel a few minutes walk from our place. We all had such great food. I ate a jerk chicken pasta with a fresh squeezed frozen limeade...delicious!