It was a drawn out birthday season for Abby this year, but she loves being 5. We had a Frick girls combined friends/cousins birthday party mid January, a party at the nursing home with Jeremy’s family and then cousin Rhory’s birthday, sister Ella’s birthday, Aunt Nicole’s birthday, and then FINALLY Abby’s birthday. She had a countdown going for each event.
She was a little disappointed to learn she had to wait till next fall to go to kindergarten but she loves her preschool friends and teachers. She loves going to school and always figures out an item to bring for the sound box at school that starts with the letter of the week. Abby is doing really well with counting, basic math and letter sounds. She doesn’t like to work on writing her letters at home, she tells me she does that at school. 😉
Abby loves to build houses out of blocks and Legos or Duplos and play with her various figurines. Hello Kitty and friends are her current favorites. She wasn’t into it at first but now she absolutely loves playing Super Mario 3d world, and is always asking to play. She is starting to really like her swim lessons but is still working on jumping into the deep end on her own.
Abby continues to be the most laid back sister and likes to play at home. She always tells me to do my errands while she is at school so she can stay home and play because “going to the store is boring”.
I post more on Facebook these days but I still wanted to do a post on the blog for posterity. 😉
Ella continues to be a great big sister (most of the time). She has learned to adjust her playing from 7/8 years old at school and her younger sisters at home. She can be the typical 8 year old imp at times but we try to keep that reigned in. She has also started to use sarcasm, wonder where she gets that from … must be daddy 😉 .
Ella is still loving 2nd grade. She comes home and plays school with all the dolls. They all have names and back stories. Ella’s favorite subject is math and goes to math enrichment once a week at school and has “bonus” math to work on when she finishes the regular class work. She has started doing Sodoku for fun too. Ella likes to read nonfiction and has been known to look stuff up on Wikipedia.
Ella is still taking piano lessons with Grammie’s Carol and is getting better about practicing. She joined girl scouts this year and took swim lessons in the fall and will take some more this spring. She is quite the little swimmer now. She also loves to play video games on her computer or the Wii u they got for Christmas from Santa.
Our baby is 2! Mia turned 2 on Sunday December 14th. She had a busy day. Her cousin Anya shares the same birthday so we went to Anya’s party at lunch time and celebrated Mia’s birthday later in the afternoon. Mia had been eyeing up Ella pink Build a Bear so we took her to the mall to build her own. Here she is modeling her Minnie bear.
Mia is very vocal at 2, much more so then her older sisters were at this age. She is starting to speak in sentences already. In case you can’t tell from the pictures she loves Minnie mouse. In fact she thinks anything worth Minnie on it should be hers. She also loves playing hide and seek and doing anything her older sisters are doing.
She did great at her 2 year check up today. The nurse was very impressed with how well Mia followed her directions while getting her vitals [see below, spoiler alert she is still big]. The doctor did say some kids do drop a nap around 2 but to keep trying because sometimes it is just a phase. Mia has been staying up and talking in her crib at nap time the past few days. Mommy is hoping it is just a phase. 😉
Height: 35.75″, 92%
Weight: 32 lbs 7 oz 96%
Head: 20″, 97%
Today Claire took her last ride with daddy. The tumor in her mouth had grown to the point that it was starting to bother her. Jeremy and I always said we wouldn’t want our dogs to suffer but it is definitely hard to make that final decision even though we knew it was coming.
Claire would have been 10 in February, we got her when she was 9 months old. We picked her up in Syracuse and brought her home to meet our first dog Lily. Claire was a beautiful Samoyed with a typical cold weather dog personality. She was very friendly but after getting some love she would go and lay down a few feet a way from you.
She was not the smartest dog, she tended to follow Lily’s lead (which could be good or bad). Lily liked to lead so the arrangement worked for them. They loved to play and dig in the yard together.
One day Claire was following Jeremy around the pool deck [on Embury Road] as he was cleaning the pool and she fell in. After we got her pulled out of the water she ran behind a tree and stood there bark-yelling at Jeremy. She was definitely blaming him for her fall in the pool.
Jeremy and I would always argue over who was the better behaved dog. I would agree that Claire was usually better behaved at home but on a walk it was definitely Lily. Claire tended to walk in a sinusoidal path instead of a straight line. And she would also bark and alert you to any other dogs out, people getting their newspaper, or leaves blowing across the street. That is a lot of barking at 5:30 in the morning!
Claire was a great dog, we love her and miss her.
We didn’t have a picture of our whole family with the dogs so Ella drew one this afternoon.
Our last port was Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas. We did a Champagne Catamaran excursion offered by the cruise ship. We took a catamaran ride over to Honeymoon beach on St. John, a neighboring island. It was a beautiful day to be out on a boat, blue skies for miles. At Honeymoon beach we did some snorkeling and then Jeremy hung out on the beach a bit while I continued snorkeling looking for the elusive turtles. 🙁 On the trip back to St. Thomas there was champagne, rum punch, and snacks aboard the boat. The crew were all young adults from the states. One of them came down for a visit and never left. It was beautiful on St. John and out of all the places we visited on our cruise I would love to go back and explore the island some more.
Hanging out on the catamaran:
Our third stop was in Basseterre, St Kitts. We did a Mount Liamuiga Volcano Hike Tour offered by the cruise ship. It was listed as a strenuous tour, but we had been on cruise ship “strenuous” tours where we couldn’t figure out what was actually strenuous. This one was actually fairly physically demanding, we had to climb up some rocky areas making me wish yet again for longer legs. 😉 Within 5 minutes we had left 4 people behind with one of the three guides because they were “less skilled” in the words of our lead guide. The remaining 11 of us all made it the 2.5 miles up to the top crater of the volcano (3000 feet above sea level). The hike wouldn’t have been bad at all but they kept a fairly quick pace, it felt like we were almost running on the way down. I guess they wanted to make sure we got back before our ship left port. Luckily it was a little cooler than 90 degrees in the rain forest but it was still very humid so by the time we got back down Jeremy and I were both soaked with sweat.
Our guide, he was very knowledgeable about the rain forest and all the vegetation. It was interesting to see how everything from moss to ferns were much taller and bigger there.
Looking down into the crater:
At the top of our hike:
Next stop was Oranjestad, Aruba. We did a trikes island tour and got to see about 70% of the island which was even drier than I was expecting. It was interesting to talk with our driver, he was from the Netherlands and came to Aruba a year ago to do something different from the high stress job he had in the Netherlands.
We stopped at the California lighthouse, Casi Bari Rock Formation, and a local Fish Market.
After a day at sea we stopped at Willemstad, Curacao. We had booked an outside tour (not through the cruise ship) based on many favorable reviews at CruiseCritic. We went to the place and time specified in the email and there was no one there. We stuck around for a little bit longer in case they were on “island time” but no show. Jeremy emailed them using Curacao’s free wifi and got a very apologetic email about the mix-up with an offer for a deal next time we were in Curacao. So we walked back towards the cruise ship and went on an island tour with one of the many tour operators hanging out around the port terminal.
Curacao from the ship deck:
A picture of our ship, Jewel of the Seas, at port:
Several of the people on our tour were from Puerto Rico so he did the tour in both Spanish and English. He usually did the Spanish first so it was interesting to see how much I understood with my high school Spanish before hearing it again in English.
We drove around town and saw a lot of the colorful danish architecture, this is the most photographed building on Curacao, the Wedding Cake house, named because of it’s unique architecture. But our guide informed us it had nothing to do with Weddings or Cake, it was actually some sort of state building.
Our first stop was at The Curacao Liqueur Factory. The Spaniards had bought the orange plant to Curacao but in the arid climate the fruit it produced was much too bitter to be edible. It wasn’t until sometime later it was discovered the peels when thoroughly dried by the sun had a pleasing odor that anything was done with the plants.
We stopped at Mambo Beach for a bit.
And then had the tour driver drop us off downtown to wonder around a bit more. The floating bridge is pretty cool, they actually just move it off to side to let boats through.
On our 11th Anniversary (October 4th) Jeremy and I flew to Puerto Rico for a southern Caribbean cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Serenade of the Seas. It is one of their “smaller” ships but we found it more than big enough. The ship was full but the only time we found it overly crowded was for breakfast on the last day. Otherwise while on the ship we hung out in the adult pool area (with the drink of the day), the quiet decks on the lower levels, or in the Schooner bar for trivia. We won trivia once and were runners up 4 other times. Ella and Abby were very impressed with the Royal Caribbean highlighters we won.
Waiting to depart from Puerto Rico:
Hanging out on the ship deck:
Napkin Folding class on at Sea day:
The food and service in the main dining room was excellent, and the casual Windjammer cafe was good for buffet food. There appeared to be plenty of vegetarian, gluten and dairy free options on the menu which is something new from when we cruised 6 years ago. The nightly shows were ok, not as good as on other cruises.
Formal night selfie:
Second formal night Jeremy broke out the bowtie!
And what cruise would be complete without towel animals left by your stateroom attendant:
Since this is already getting long I will save the islands stops for another post or posts.
Ella’s a girl scout! Ella joined girl scouts and got her sash this week.