Friday, December 26, 2014


Prepare for photo overload.  Mike and Nicole moved to the Caribbean in April so he could go to medical school.  We were bummed to see them go, but made plans to go visit.  After months of planning and saving, we were able to go in November.  It was the best vacation ever, and a great experience for the older kids (and us!).  We were able to ride on an airplane, get passports, go out of the country, try new foods, use rainwater as our main source of water and visit with our friends.  I was too nervous about taking the little girls out of the country, so we left them with Grandma, where they had a great time.  
 Hanging out at the airport.  Scott got us a redeye to New York, so I figured I'd drug the kids and they'd be so tired they would sleep.  Ha!  We were so miserable, no one slept much.  Amber stared at the TV in front of her with her mouth hanging open.  But it was nice to get to Anguilla and settle into their time a lot easier.  We were so tired we crashed at 9 (6 p.m. our time).

 The kids' first time on an airplane.  They were nervous, and everything was fine until it really sped up just before takeoff.  Alyssa's face was great!  But by the time we got done with all 5 flights there and back, they were like old pros.  We got through security so quickly!
 Mike and Nicole's apartment.  It is part of a house owned by a lady who also lives in the U.S.  Scott and I got the little apartment off to the side to ourselves.  It was nice!
 View from the balcony
 Amber and Aliya's sandcakes.  Amber's taking a bite out of hers.
 Christian's cute, but not so smart sometimes.  He kept putting his face into the sand.  And his arms were stuck down so he couldn't wipe his eyes.  And then the tide came in and made the sand even heavier.  It took 3 of us to pull him out.
 My man on the beach.  Sexy!
 Amber LOVED the water, probably even more than Alyssa, which is saying something.  She was probably in it more than anyone in our family.  I think because it was so warm, she could stay in longer.  But she soaked it up!
 While we were splashing around, Nicole and Aliya were trying not to freeze to death in the 80 degree weather.  Haha!
 The second beach we went to.  Beautiful view from our picnic site.
 This was the beginning of the hike we took to the bat cave.  The beach wasn't great for swimming (too much coral), but I was fine just sitting there and looking at everything for hours.
Scott saw this soft shell crab in the water and pulled it out.  When he tried to pick it up by it's claw, it fell off.  Poor thing.  He thew it back in and it swam away.
 There were SO many hermit crabs on the hike to the bat cave.  And they had a purple and an orange claw.  They were all different sizes, this was a bigger one.  Amber was brave and would pick them up.  Not me. 
 I was so proud of Scott for making it.  It was a longer walk than he's taken since his accident, and there were some steep parts, but he did it all joking the whole way.  He even walked next to Mike on the way back, not needing any help.  
 Bats.  Blech.  Ever since one showed up in our bedroom at 2 a.m. I have not been a fan.  And everyone was screaming and throwing rocks at them.  I was not pleased.  But they didn't seem to mind, so I like them a little better.  Anything that can ignore that many screaming kids and rocks thrown at them deserve some respect.
 There was a cool tree growing up through the middle of the cave.  
 Alyssa took this picture of Amber, and I love it.  
 Picnic at the beach.  Sigh.  If only every day could be that good.
 My favorite beach picture.  The day we went to this beach there were pretty big waves.  The kids played for hours.  I was really nervous at first, but it was a lot of fun.  
 The beach where the big waves were.  
 The restaurant on the beach we had lunch.  It was really good food.  It rained really hard, but I just stood out in it while we ate.  It was so warm that it didn't really matter.  Except the water dripping off my nose.
 Can you believe the color of this water?  I love the white against the dark sky and blue-green water.
 Most of the houses are made of cinder block.  They build the main floor and then leave rebar sticking out the top and when why get time/money they add another story on top.  It's weird.  I'ld say half the houses have rebar sticking out and some unfinished part being worked on. 
 Steering wheel on the wrong side and driving on the wrong side of the road!!!  Just kidding.  We actually got used to it quite quickly and when we got back the kids kept saying we were on the wrong side.
 Shipwreck at one of the beaches.  There was a resort at this beach that had been ruined by a hurricane a few years before and no one had fixed it up.  It was crazy to see such a nice place in such ruin.
 Probably Christian's favorite place we went the whole time.  A smoothie shack called "Fruity Web." The kids tried duplicating it when we got home.
 Dinner on the beach with friends.  It was such a beautiful night and the water was right at our feet quietly lapping at the shore.  We had fish they had just caught that morning.  Life doesn't get much better than that.

 Hanging at the pastry shop we stopped at for breakfast.  It was so yummy!  I tell you, Utah has a lot to learn about fresh pastries.  What a difference!
 Christian and Michael burning garbage.  Right next to the fence where the goats were that woke us up every morning.
 The cistern at their house.  It's huge, 60,000 gallons.  All the rainwater that falls catches in the rain gutters and filters into this room.  Then it supplies water for the house.  Pretty amazing.  
 At junk beach where we collected our shells the last morning.  Scott could have spent every day there.  There was so much stuff washed up onto the shore and trapped in the coral.  You could find so many things there!
 The island is hard rock (I think it's coral) so they can't dig deep for burials.  These burial plots are about 3 feet deep and enclosed in brick and then they place the casket in that and place a little dome on top. 
 Christian drinking up the coconut milk in St. Maarten our last day.  We miss the coconuts!
 Our hotel in Puerto Rico.  It was strange to see so many lights and glitz after being in Anguilla where the busiest road in town is 2 lanes and has one stop light.
 Old Town Puerto Rico.  This is the president's house.  Lots of security.

Highlight of Puerto Rico: the chocolate restaurant we had breakfast at.  Oh my goodness it was delicious.

On our way home, a little wiser, a little happier and a lot blessed!!!

Fall drive 2014

 The kids still whine when we take them on our fall drive.  You'd think after so many years of doing the same thing at the same time they'd get used to it.  But not a half hour into it, they were asking when it was going to be over!  But the nice thing was it ended at the Henlines for dinner (beef waterfall--yummy!) so that made it all worth it.
 We missed a lot of the colors again this year and got mostly gold.  But sometimes that's okay.  It is so beautiful!

We followed this truck the whole way.  He was probably happy to see us go.  We were kind of in a hurry to get to dinner, so we rode his tail a lot.