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Living a colorful life, one moment at a time


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3rd Grade Rocks Layout

Hello! I wanted to share a layout I finished today. The photo was taken on Jasmine’s first day back to school. A few days before school started, Jasmine mentioned that 3rd grade was going to be the hardest year yet for her. But, like all the past years so far, I think that she will rock 3rd grade, and I told her so.

Looking at the pic I took of her that first day, I can’t help but remember how I was feeling that day. I was sad to have my constant companion this summer go back to school. We spent lots of time together, albeit some of it was spent in separate rooms, enjoying separate activities. I was also a little apprehensive about her safety because when she is with me, I keep her safe. At school, I cannot protect her – from bullies wielding harsh words, crazy people who want to hurt children, and lord knows what else. But I had faith that she can protect herself, and that the school’s security procedures that they put in place last year will protect my baby as well as other babies who go to the school. No, she is no longer a baby, but she will always be my baby just the same. Sigh. I keep finding myself silently asking for time to slow down. She is growing up way too fast. Already she is almost as tall as me, wears the same size shoes, and her hands are as big as mine. We compared hands this morning and she said, “Oh no, my hands are going to be huge!” She is now finally riding a bike. Hooray, she learned in two hours! That is the thing about Jasmine – she will learn things all on her own terms, in due time. Just like me, she takes her time: she was a late walker, but an amazingly early reader (before kindergarten) and swimmer (she was swimming at the age of two, fearlessly swimming with her head underwater, amazing everyone at the pool). She wasn’t interested with riding the bike as she took a spill while trying to learn with training wheels a few years ago and she scooters around our development just fine, so she found no need for the bike. But when she learned she had to ride the bike for bike safety day, she asked her Dad to help her learn. After a couple of sweaty sessions, she just started riding.

Back to the layout.

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I decided to use kraft paper as the base to give it that school feel. I haven’t used kraft paper as a background in years, but I used it quite often in the past. To continue with the school theme, I used a notebook edge punch, a Jenni Bowlin file folder punch, stapled down some of the papers with the tiny attacher, and Studio Calico wood elements: the exclamation point, A+, and “School Days.” I layered on some American Crafts paper from a 6X6 pad I found at Target. I added some wooden stars from SC to accent the yellow glitter Thickers that I used for the title. And then I used the neon Mister Huey’s mist to create some splatters, and also added sequins to enhance the splatters. The neon didn’t show up as bright as I wanted on the kraft paper background, but I’m okay with it. The alphabet washi tape is from the Studio Calico Double Scoop September kit. Lastly, I added butterflies because to me they are a symbol of growth, of transformation. I use them quite often. One last bit that I wanted to mention. I used a small wooden girl from SC and the wooden chevron. It’s my favorite part of the layout – I will usually have one particular area or element of my layout that I really like that makes me smile. On this layout, it is the little wooden girl with the wooden chevron arrows pointing to it.

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Western Caribbean Cruise

After a 6 day cruise where you are fed breakfast, lunch and dinner, your room is cleaned for you twice a day with an evening turn down service including chocolate mints on your pillow, and nightly comedy and musical shows, getting back to reality is a bit of a transition. That’s what happened to Rob and I yesterday. Normal chores like unpacking, doing laundry, making meals, cleaning up and doing dishes, seem exhausting and a dose of reality that’s hard to accept when you were spoiled on the ship for an entire week. No longer is anyone offering us a cold, refreshing cocktail by the pool, there is no coffee automatically served to you after dinner. Sigh.

But today we are a bit better. Nothing like the shock of Monday to get you back into the routine of things — you are forced into it. We are, however, awaiting our next cruise where we can be treated like Kings, Queens, and Princesses once more.

Yesterday I shared a few pics from our Key West jaunt, which was Day Two of our trip. The ship had a Michael Jackson inspired theme for the day, which included a trivia game, music, etc. After dinner we went to a Thriller dance class. Yes, we learned the choreography from MJ’s Thriller video. It was so much fun. We took on zombie characters, rose from our graves, and then did the dance that you see in the video. Okay, it was modified a bit because we only had 30 minutes to learn the moves.

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Day 3 of the cruise was a “Fun Day at Sea” which just means you get to hang out by the pool, do some requisite line dancing and drink overpriced cocktails (spiked or not). There was a Cheers program that would have cost $700 for Rob and I. Needless to say, we did not partake, but we were surprised how many people were lined up for it. I simply cannot drink enough to justify that expense. Day two was formal night and we donned our dress up garb and posed for the photographers that were situated around the ship. Jas and Rob cracked me up as the photographer posed them. It’s amazing how you forget which foot is the left one and which arm is the right when someone tells you to move it. We always had a few laughs and comments to share after each photographer. One in particular was Jasmine’s favorite. He was Filipino and as tall as she was. Before he took your pic, he yelled, “Woohoo!” so if you don’t expect it, you end up with a too wide grin for your photo.

Day 4 takes us to our second port of call (there are 3): Grand Cayman

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It was really bright out and Jas couldn’t really look up into the camera.

We had been to Grand Cayman via another cruise a few years ago, and my son TJ was able to join us. We did the Stingray City excursion then, so we opted for a different excursion this time around and chose the Great Barrier Reef snorkeling trip. On our way out to the reef, we spotted blue iguanas basking in the sun. They were everywhere, and we never saw them our first time on the island. Rob has an affinity for lizards, so he snapped a few pics on the way back in, but there weren’t as many out because the sun was blaring at that point.

I’m embarrassed to admit that I have become a bit of a chicken as I’ve gotten older. I was a bit of a daredevil when I was younger, virtually unafraid of any adventure that came my way. Now, something as simple as snorkeling in deep waters gives me pause (or if you’re okay with my un-PC term: butt sweats).  I mean, I was fine before I got off the boat. I was actually one of the first few people off the boat, hopping right on in. But when I got in the water and started sinking because my vest wasn’t fully inflated, I swam to Rob and said, “I can’t do it!” I have to laugh at myself because after I took the time to adjust my gear, I was fine (albeit I swallowed way too much seawater). Jasmine, however, is fearless. One of the ladies on the boat even called her that afterwards. She goes right in, goes as far out as we let her, and has no trepidation about anything. I am glad she just enjoys life like that…NO FEAR!

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Rob wore fins and Jas and I did not, so he became our “taxi” while we were snorkeling. We held onto him as he took us out close to the reef where we were able to see beautiful coral and colorful fish.

Jas saw a stingray swimming by her and alerted everyone else on the boat so that some of the passengers on board were able to spot the stingray as it went under the boat. We had about an hour of snorkeling time and I went back to the boat a little before that, while Rob and Jas were the last few to come back in. Rob actually had to coerce Jasmine to go back. There was a huge container of fresh water on board and man, did it taste sweet after swallowing all that saltwater!

After the excursion, we hung out at the port and browsed some of the shops. Rob and I split a Caybrew, a local beer, and Jas got some sweets at the It’s Sugar sweet shoppe. Snorkeling took a lot out of all of us and we ended up taking a 3 hour nap. We were even late for dinner. Not a problem though since we opted for anytime dining.

Day 5 brings us to our last port of call: Ocho Rios, Jamaica. We initially planned on just winging our visit to Jamaica and not taking on an excursion. The night before, Rob was watching the Cruise Director on the closed circuit TV talk about Jamaica and the various recommended activities and it convinced him to look into the excursions for us; a warning about the aggressive shopkeepers was one of the factors. Lucky thing he did, because the two activities we did in Jamaica during this excursion were worthy of filling the bucket list.

Our adventure began with a climb of the famous Dunn’s River Falls (http://www.dunnsriverfallsja.com/). I don’t think any of us really knew what we were in for. We just knew that Dunn’s River Falls was the thing to do while in Ocho Rios. Since we didn’t have internet access, we couldn’t do much research on the subject. First, you have to rent plastic, non-skid shoes because the rocks at the falls are very slippery. You are assigned a guide (in our case it was two) and a videographer who riles you up and gets you excited about the climb. You are given a preview of the falls, but the preview doesn’t give you the full extent of how steep the falls get.

It is a 600 ft, action packed, aggressive, one hour climb of the falls. To climb it, you have to hold hands with the person ahead of you and behind you, for symbiotic support of each other. You may think you are macho enough to not hold onto anyone, but you will change your mind rather quickly once you start to ascend. Those rocks are very slippery, and the rushing waters are very strong. At one point we were in one of the many pools that make up the falls and I was being dragged away on the strong current. And, the water is cold! It is a very exhilarating climb, and you and the other tourists climbing the falls will form a sudden bond that only survivors of a similar event share. If you are ever in Ocho Rios, I highly recommend this excursion. The falls are beautiful, and there are natural indentations in the rocks that provide for a slide feature, numerous pools, and even indents where you can put your head in and the rushing waters envelope your face, which makes for interesting pictures. Because you are pretty much always trying not to slip on the rocks or carried away by the rushing waters, Rob didn’t get to take too many pictures. I couldn’t hold the camera because I didn’t have any pockets. Just as well, because I don’t think I would’ve been able to capture more pics than he did.

Although the climb of the falls was aggressive, the shopkeepers we encountered in the Dunns River Falls park were even more aggressive. All of them wanted to talk to you, get your attention, shake your hand, and then lead you into their shop. It was really off putting, especially since we are always up for browsing for souvenirs. After such an exhilarating experience of the falls, the experience with the aggressive shopkeepers was a downer.

Our next Jamaican adventure was the Dolphin Encounter at the Dolphin Cove.

The cove itself is beautiful. It is a private resort, housing dolphins, sharks, stingrays, birds, and iguanas.

The dolphins are sweet. This one in particular kept coming back to us while we were waiting for our tour to start, just to check us out.

Our guide here taught us the sign language for “kiss,” “sing,” and “jump.” We were then lead to our dolphin, Alex. Alex was a 5 year old female baby dolphin. She was so sweet and her skin was very soft. We never pet a dolphin before, so this was an awesome adventure for us, and like I said earlier, an item for our bucket list. The encounter with our dolphin only lasted 20 minutes though, too short for dolphin lovers like us. But there was more of the cove to see and explore.

Rob can’t pass by a cat without petting it, even though there were a number of signs posted saying not to pet the cats. This one swatted at him, and of course he had to take a pic to record the offender. Looks pretty harmless in this pic.

We went up the hill to visit the bird sanctuary. There was a really nice lady attendant manning the sanctuary and she took these pics of us with the birds.

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Next we visited Charles the Iguana.

Which reminds me, if you ever go to one of these places, be sure to have lots of tip money on hand. It is expected that you tip anyone and everyone that you encounter who does something for you (dolphin instructor, dolphin sign language teacher, bird sanctuary attendant, lizard caretaker, etc.) .

Day 6 – Fun Day at Sea

We concluded our trip with a Fun Day at Sea. We spent lots of time at the pool – we woke up, had breakfast, then hung out at the pool from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.! We normally wouldn’t be there for that long, but I mean, they had a beach ball! All kidding aside, it is amazing what a simple thing like a beach ball can offer in terms of hours of fun for all ages. Jasmine and  two other girls actually started the whole ruckus. They were given the beach ball and before you know it, everyone at the pool area was in on the fun, whether they liked it or not. The adults also got to play Sharks and Minnows, in which you start out with one or two sharks and the rest of the participants are minnows. The sharks go about catching one minnow each and every captured minnow becomes a shark. As expected when you combine a pool full of adults who have been drinking: it got a bit rough. But it was all in great fun. We also fit in a round of mini golf and Harry Potter trivia in between the pool time. The view from the mini golf course was awesome (but not captured in a pic). We thought we would ace the Harry Potter trivia, since we have seen all the movies more than once and are all reading Harry Potter right now (Rob is on book 2, Jas and I are on book 3). But sadly, the questions were pretty hard core. We all only got 10 points each out of 30.

One final thing to mention about the ship. We had a landmark on the ship to let us know we were going the right way for the Lido Deck buffet.

We called her “the butt crack lady” or just “butt crack” for short. We thought we were pretty hilarious with our inside joke, but overheard a lady say, “I always know I’m going the right way when I see the a**.”

And that concludes the rather long synopsis of our Western Caribbean cruise. Counting down the days until our next one 🙂

Have you gone on a cruise? What adventures are you looking forward to experiencing?


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And so it begins…

Hello there, finally, my first post. I have always wanted to have my own blog, but never really had a good starting point until now. We just got back yesterday from an awesome Western Caribbean cruise and have lots of pics and activities to share.

I was a bit skeptical about the cruise at first since we booked with a cruise line that had negative reviews recently, but the cruise went very smoothly and we had a blast! We had lots of together time. By “we” I mean my husband of 17 years, Rob, and my 8 year old daughter Jasmine.

Our first stop was Key West. We decided to take our time and walk to the Ernest Hemingway house, or as Jasmine calls it, “The six toed cat house.” There were about 45 cats around the property. One of which got frisky and bit her 😦

The “walk” to the Hemingway House took a good portion of our morning day trip, so we wisened up and took the train tour to see the rest of Key West. I took shots of the old architecture as houses and buildings sped by.

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I will be back tomorrow to continue with the details of the rest of our trip!