Wednesday, April 30, 2014

WFMW: Private Cruise Excursions/ Anniversary Cruise Part II: Cozumel

In March we took a joint anniversary trip with my grandparents.  Catch up on the fun here.

Isaac and I have been on several cruises, and we've always booked our excursions through the cruise line.  The convenience of it all normally won us over.  For this cruise, by the time life allowed us to have 5 free minutes to look at excursions, we realized that most of the excursions we wanted were either booked or didn't allow pregnant women.  Because pregnant women are only allowed to breathe while pregnant. Don't even get me started

So, we had to come up with Plan B to get our booties off the ship while in port.  Isaac and I are not ones to sit around and do nothing when there are new wonders to explore.  We've both been to Cozumel on multiple occasions.  We'd both rather be scuba diving than just about anything, but that is one activity that I will begrudgingly concur shouldn't be on my list while pregnant.  My grandparents are pretty much content to shop at the awesome cruise terminal in Cozumel, so I forced sweetly convinced Isaac that he couldn't dive that day.  He needed to be with me, doing something fun.  I mean, it was our anniversary trip too!

My fabulous researcher of a hubby found all kinds of fun things for us to do outside of the cruise line for Cozumel.  Isaac did this for each port of call, and I'm excited at what he did.  Now, I'll be honest. I was a bit of skeptic at first.  It's not secret that the cruise line will not wait for you if you are on a private excursion and are running late back to the ship.  There's very little recourse for passengers at all in those situations.  That was the last thing I wanted to deal with.  We scourged Trip Advisor and other similar websites for reviews of the outfits we wanted to use.  Apparently the travel outfits have gotten the memo that no one wants to miss their ships, so they have all kinds of policies in place to guarantee that folks won't.  I suppose that when your reputation is on the line, that makes complete business sense.

In Cozumel, we used Cozumel Tours to book a full day of island fun.  We typically stay at the beach or Isla de Pasion in Cozumel, so I was excited to see the whole island.

Our taxi took us to a Hotel Cozumel where we met up with our guide Hernan and the rest of our very small group.  The hotel is gorgeous, and we both said we'd totally be willing to stay there if we ever did a non-cruise vacation to Cozumel.  We loaded up in little beach coupes for an island tour.  Poor Isaac got to fight a manual transmission that didn't have first gear.  He was a trooper!  The coupes were cute and a perfect way to enjoy a warm, sunny day!

Our first stop to was an old mission house that has now been converted into a restaurant and blue agave distillery demonstration.  True tequila can only be made in the state of Jalisco in Mexico.  One of the distilleries from there, Los Tres Tonos, has set up a little tourist stop in Cozumel to share the process with local tourists.  I had no idea just how long it can take to get the blue agave turned into good tequila.  Isaac said it was fabulous, and it smelled delicious!

We then drove our coupes to the opposite end of the island to find mile upon mile of beach.  Breathtaking!  We stopped at a little beach hut where we could get snacks, take a bathroom break, and walk on the beach.  I was so excited to be warm!!!  The sand and water felt perfect, and I soaked up every bit of being in paradise.

All too soon we had to move on to our third stop.  We went to the town of of Cedral.  This is an old Mayan town where the remains of a Mayan temple are still viewable.  A Catholic church was built next to it as the Mayans and Catholics worked side by side when the Spaniards first arrived in Cozumel.  We toured a traditionally built Mayan home and had a snack prepared for us of fresh salsa and tortillas and beans.  Yum!

Our last stop was back to the hotel where we had begun our day.  There we were able to snorkel the reef immediately outside the hotel.  It was the most fascinating snorkel ever, but we did find two puffer fish and some other little guys that were very pretty.  After our snorkel, we were treated to the hotel's lunch buffet, which was delicious!  A taxi took us back to the cruise terminal with over an hour of time left for shopping before we had to get back to the ship.

Very few of the cruise line excursions offered such a full day with so many different types of activities.  Our private excursion was perfect-safe, professional, and on time for everything.  Breaking out of the norm and our comfort zones to use a private cruise excursion totally works for me!

Linking up with Kristen!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Anniversary Cruise Part I

We've only been home 7 weeks, so maybe it's time to share about our little cruise adventure in March!

If you're new around here, you might not know that Isaac and I are a *tiny* bit obsessed with my grandparents, Nanny and Dede.  So much so that we asked if we could be married on their 55th anniversary which was 8/8/09. As time seems to do, it's flown by, and we're fast approaching their 60th anniversary and our 5th.

Around this time last year, the four of us began brainstorming an anniversary trip together to celebrate.  We all love to travel, and a trip sounded blissful.  A cruise sounded divine.  Then Isaac and I got pregnant...with a late July due date, when our anniversary is August 8th.  So long trip.

Thankfully Nanny and Dede are the go-getter types, so over Christmas, they asked if we'd like to celebrate our anniversary a little early, as in over my Spring Break!  Yay!  To save money, we booked the same itinerary out of Houston that we had been on over New Year's.  It's so nice having the port 4 miles from our house.

The day we left for our trip was flat out cool and dreary, but I didn't care.  After one of the longest winters Houston has seen in ages, I just wanted to be warm.  I knew that ship was taking me somewhere, actually, lots of 'wheres', warm, and I couldn't wait!  We quickly found our cabin, and decided it was super fun that Nanny and Dede had upgraded room to a balcony for us.  What a treat.  Their travel agent also had chocolate covered strawberries waiting for us, and Ramon, our steward, couldn't have been more helpful the entire trip.

My one request for this cruise was to have an early dinner.  I very much enjoy the shows on cruises, but having to go to the 10:00 show while 21 weeks pregnant was not going to happen for me.  We worked it out for this to happen, and I was very grateful!  It meant we didn't get to have Mateo as our waiter again, but we quickly fell for Chris and Lupche and saw Mateo, Jonathan, and Brenda often.  Yeah, that makes us sound like real cruise snobs that we know the crew that well, I know!

Our first day was mostly spent unpacking, walking around the ship, and dreaming of warm weather.

Day 2 was a day at sea and it dawned cloudy and cool.  I had so hoped to be far enough south to lay in the sun and read most of the day, but it wasn't going to happen.  Instead, we all played Bingo, went to various demonstrations around the ship, and just enjoyed each others' company.  That evening was formal night, and it was nice to get dressed up again.  One of the head waiters, Hector, is also a truly talented singer.  My grandparents have gotten to know him very well since October, and Hector serenaded the whole dining room during dinner.  It was fabulous!  We also officially celebrated our joint anniversaries that night.  The wait staff saw "Happy Anniversary" to each couple, brought us a delightful chocolate mousse cake, and oooh and ahhed over our story.  It was a sweet time of thanking God for allowing all of this to happen.  The show that night was a little Broadway type production, and very well done.  A relaxing day was a great way to start our trip.

 More to come!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Honest Confessions Disbelief

I'm a firm believer that our struggles make us human, reveal the depth of the grace and power of The Almighty, and help dispel the social media myth that life is perfect.  In an attempt to be transparent with my readers, I'm going to start a multi-part confession of what life is really like lately.  Not that I've been trying to hide anything, but I finally feel that I'm at a place to find words to describe how the last 6 months have gone down for Team Ozinga.  It hasn't all been peaches and roses.

First of all, before anyone deems me a complete monster, please read about my struggle with endometriosis.  For years, I had no doubt in my mind that my calling from the Lord on this earth was to be a wife to Isaac, impact as many 6th graders as possible through my world cultures class, love on teens at church, and maybe someday adopt older kiddos when God said 'go'.  See, we had a failed adoption attempt over the summer of 2012 that had begun a year ealier that very, very few people even know about.  It shattered both of us to lose the darling 7 year old girl that we knew and loved so well.  While it didn't take long to see God's fingerprints all over the situation, the healing took a long time.  But since then, parenthood just wasn't on our radars.  Isaac and I both had peace about this in our lives. We can think of several instances where God confirmed this for us. Nothing from any of our prayer times ever led us to believe God might be calling us to something different, especially so soon.

In November, when we were in Arizona and learned we were pregnant, my life literally fell a part.  Everything that I thought I was supposed to be doing with my days on earth completely unraveled.  Never, not once for even a moment in all my breathing days, had I ever, ever wanted to have my own biological children.  I celebrated with great joy every time one of my dear friends would become pregnant and have a baby.  It was beautiful, wonderful, sweet, precious, and a gift from the Lord.  Isaac and I would sit up late at night talking about if we wished God had not allowed my body to become so diseased, and the consensus was always no.  We were content to wait and hopefully foster to adopt someday, and maybe even continue fostering, once his job placed him in a salary bracket that would allow me to stay home and mother full time.

The pure, raw anger that developed so quickly in my heart towards God and what was happening to us left me crushed and broken.  No part of me wanted anything to do with what was going on.  I was too furious to cry much, and too desperate to wake up from this nightmare to divulge to many how I was truly feeling.

We weren't in a place financially for me to yet stay home for the next school year.  This fact alone ate me into a tizzy daily.  Isaac and I have always taken Proverbs 22:6 and Deuteronomy 11:19 to heart and feel that it is the parents' job to be with their children to lead them in the ways of the Lord, not a caretaker's.  While we realize this can't be reality for everyone, the thought that it wasn't going to happen for us did me in emotionally in ways I never imagined.  The idea of leaving my child to be raised by others while I go to work, even briefly, sends me into a crying melt down each time I think about it.

If the financial circumstances weren't enough, the thought of leaving my classroom to be a mom left me bitter and a mess.  Since I can remember, I've wanted to be a teacher.  While Isaac and I scrambled to find ways to quickly (within a year) get me at home, the tug to still be with my 6th graders did not loosen its grip.  It was complete agony to think about not having the deep conversations and hands on learning experiencing with my kids anymore.  How could this possibly all be over?  Already?  It burned!  The dual war of wanting to stay at home with the baby and also be in my classroom devoting my all to my other 150 children has left a toll on me that is hard to begin to even summarize.

I promise you life didn't stay this way, but I've kept you long enough for now.  Just remember peace comes after the storms and Sunday always follows Friday.  To be continued...

Friday, April 25, 2014

YLEOs: Fever Blister Relief

Nobody likes a fever blister.  They are nasty!  The day we were leaving for Kentucky a few weeks ago, I woke up with the beginning stages of a fever blister right smack in the middle of my lower lip.  Ugh.  I was not about to suffer through one while on vacation to see family and friends.  I whipped out my Reference Guide for Essential Oils to see what I could use as an anti-viral to knock out this booger.  Lemon and Thieves were two of the suggested oils.  I promptly made sure my travel vials were full, put them in my suit case, and headed off, after first making sure I had thoroughly rubbed a drop of each on my lip of course!  Every couple of hours for the whole trip, I rubbed a drop of each on my lip.  The blister never fully formed, and by the time I returned home 6 days later, it was completely gone.  Once again, Young Living oils saved the day!

Monday, April 21, 2014

April BarkBox

Who needs the Easter Bunny when the mail man brings a BarkBox over Easter weekend?!  This month's did not disappoint!

 Bocce's Bakery Beef Bourguignon Snacks ($9.50) These little biscuits are made of high quality beef, carrots, and parsley.  The ups couldn't stop sniffing the bag, so I know they'll love when I open them soon.  This sounds like a super yummy, healthy treat!

 Loopies Spector ($13)  We thought this guy looked a bit more like a deformed octopus than an alien, but Aggie has had a blast with her medium sized toy this weekend!  She quickly killed the squeaker in the tennis ball head, but she has loved throwing and tugging this orange fella!  It seems super tough, so I see weeks of fun with this new toy in Aggie's future.

Mr. Barksmith's Carrot Cake Smoothie  ($1.49)  Both dogs fell for these yummy frozen treats last summer when BarkBox sent them.  They loved the banana, and I'm sure they'll go for the carrot cake flavor after our next park outing this week!

Dogs Love Kale Peanutty (Can't find a guess $4) I'll be honest; I'm not a huge fan of kale, and I've tried it many different ways.  However, my dogs are lovers of veggies, so maybe they'll like these more than I would like the human version.  And, these have peanut butter, so who knows!

Barkworthies Bully Sticks ($2.50 each) We get these a lot, but the dogs love them, so I can't really complain. 

Bailey couldn't wait to pick a treat, and Aggie Belle ran off with the bully stick as soon as the picture snapped.  Happy Easter babies!

Our subscription is $19 a month, and this box is valued at (roughly) $30.49.  And, our puppy pantry is restocked for the month.  :)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

BP MS 150 2014

I don't know about you, but my hubby has to stay busy!  He is incredibly talented in many different areas.  There is always a project going on at our house.  Learning to support him in this endeavors and cheer him on, especially when it wasn't something I enjoyed, took some time.  However, seeing him happy and content when I'm there to support his hobbies works for me! 

Despite the longest winter we've seen in Houston in years, Isaac trained hard for this year's BP MS 150 ride.  Like last year, he signed up to ride for Team Hope, sponsored by KSBJ, Houston's Christian radio station.  Due to wet weather and traveling, he didn't have as many weekends to train as he would have liked.  I could sense he had a feeling of dread about the ride as this past weekend approached.  However, the whole way home on Sunday, he was beaming because the ride had been easy, the weather perfect, and he knew he had been more prepared than he realized.  I just kept thanking Jesus for answering all my prayers all weekend!

Isaac rides the MS not just because he enjoys cycling but because we know people affected by MS.  The money raised really does make a difference in research funding, and we've seen great progress in the understanding of this nasty disease in the last few years. I'm proud of my man for using his hobbies for productive things!

I dropped Isaac off at Tully Stadium in Katy at 6:00 AM on Saturday morning.  He found some Team Hope riders to start with, and before long, the ride was underway.  I'll be honest-I drove the hour back home and curled back up in bed for awhile.

I was shocked when Isaac texted me throughout the day.  He was reaching break points insanely early, at least compared to last year.  He was in La Grange where they camp for the night by 3:00.  Wow!  100 miles from 7-3 with plenty of stops for stretching, food, and extra water.  He's a beast!

Let's be honest-reaching the finish line with no one there to cheer you on is just a bummer.  I made sure I left Houston in plenty of time to be at the finish line in Austin before the man made it there at 12:30.  80 miles from 7:45-12:30.  Yippee!  He spotted me right as he crossed, and I even managed to snap a pic while holding a poster for him!  We walked the 2 blocks to the capitol building for photos and then didn't linger long before heading home.  While there's plenty to do and see in the area associated with ride, bad storms were coming, and Isaac was exhausted.

I'm proud of you, Baby!

Linking up with Kristen.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Five Friday Favorites: Paducah Edition

My hometown isn't for those who are absolutely obsessed with big city life.  While downtown Paducah is eventful year round and the fine arts there are truly incredible, it's still quaint in a lot of ways.  That is reason enough for me to love being there though!

ONE: Starnes BBQ.  Starnes is older than dirt.  This is pulled pork bbq at it's finest.  When we moved to Houston when I was 4, we just couldn't adjust to the whole brisket bbq thing.  We've learned to like it, but nothing, and I mean nothing, beats a Starnes pulled pork sandwich on white bread loaded up with Starnes homemade sauce.  We've been known to drive it home in a cooler with dry ice and fly it home as a piece of checked luggage in a cooler bag with ice packs.  I did it this week, and we're still enjoying it!  So, Starnes is so old school that they don't even have a website.  I love it!  They were on GMA back in the summer, and it's worth a couple minutes of your time.

Our Pre-UK game dinner!

TWO: Tot-N-Teen Kids Clothing Store This month is Tot-N-Teen's 54th anniversary in the same shop on Jackson Ave in Paducah.  My great-grandmother bought clothes for my mom there, Nanny kept David, our godsister Stephanie, and me fully outfitted in Tot-N-Teen clothes, and now Mom has begun Andrew's Tot-N-Teen collection.  I've yet to find a store with the quality and selection of unique clothing that Tot-N-Teen has.  The high end Houston shops have nothing on this store.  I remember growing up with friends jealous of my precious clothes because they couldn't go find something smiliar.  Ha.  :)  Mom and I were in there twice this past week.  Pam, the owner, remembers us well.  She's excited too that now a 3rd generation of our family will be clothed from her shop!  And the shop was so comforting to visit-not a single thing has changed other than the clothing selection since I outgrew them years ago!  Oh, for a gal who struggles with change, that was a blissful treat!  :)

THREE: Downtown Paducah.  I love going downtown.  The old farmer's market building has been turned into the Market House Theater.  I've enjoyed watching family friends perform there over the years.  They do a fabulous job.  The next show is Steel Magnolias, always a favorite!  I love Kirchhoff's Bakery that's been a Paducah staple since 1873.  We eat there every visit.   Numerous other restaurants and cute, unique shops have kept downtown bustling and alive over the years.  There are also museums that tell about Paducah's involvement in the Civil War, the atomic energy boom, and the river industry.  The Carson Center is huge performing arts center and frequently draws big name headliners.  

FOUR: The Flood Wall.  In 1936, the Ohio and Tennessee Rivers (where Paducah is located), completely overflowed their banks, drowning much of the city and surrounding area.  In 1939, the government built a long, grey, concrete wall to protect the city from future floods.  It's worked.  However, a long, grey wall is pretty unattractive in a thriving downtown.  In 1996, Robert Dafford took on about a 12 year project to transform each grey stretch of wall into beautiful murals depicting the history and importance of the town.  It was so fun to visit each summer to see what had been accomplished. 

FIVE: Land Between the Lakes.  Between Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley is a stretch of land that is perfect for hiking, an elk and bison preserve, a museum about the flooding of the area to make the lakes (and the moonshine bootleggers of the Prohibition Era), and a million places to put in the ski boat.  I love driving out of town to LBtL.  It's beautiful and always an adventure!

Hope you've enjoyed a little tour of my hometown!

Linking up with these lovelies today!

 photo FFaves_zps6c1a013e.png

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...