Saturday, August 30, 2014

Summer 2014... Short but Sensational

June- August 2014
Our Summers Just Keep Getting Better and Better 

School is back in session and The Davis Family summer of 2014 has come to a grinding halt. Once again, this has been an eventful summer break full of family fun and new experiences. At this time last year, I thought we had experienced the "Best Summer Ever" but 2014 proved to be even better! Here is our summer in review: 

June 12th 

Happy Birthday Luke 

While this was only the 2nd official day of summer, it was our baby boy's 2nd birthday! We had a great day of presents, playtime and even a cupcake! It's hard to believe my little guy is already TWO! Where has the time gone? 

Happy Birthday little man... SLOW DOWN! 

June 14th
Luke's Birthday Party 

This was a day filled with family and fun! Chris's parents, my parents, my sister, Grandma Pat and even Uncle Mike had traveled into town to help celebrate Luke's milestone day. We had a baseball themed party full of baseball gifts, baseball attire and even a baseball cookie cake!

Luke LOVED his baseball cookie cake

A house divided- Baseball style! 

Grandma Pat and I at Luke's birthday party! 

June 15th -18th 
"Aunt Sissy" Has Arrived

After waiting to hold my newborn niece for over 2 months, I finally got the chance when we traveled out to Lubbock to see Chris's brother John and his wife Leeanna... And Baby Madisyn, of course. This trip was full of new experiences and family time but most importantly cuddle time with Madisyn! 

Two months is WAY TOO LONG to wait to hold such a sweet baby!

I love you Baby Madisyn! 

My 1st campfire experience... S'MORES! 

June 18th -23rd 
Back to our Roots... With a Minor Glitch 

After we spent time with John, Leeanna and Madisyn we ventured north to Norman, OK where Chris and I first met, got married and spent the first 6 years together. We stayed with one of Chris's best friends and his family in Norman but within hours of arriving in Oklahoma our car broke down and we had to experience a true lesson in patience (More on this experience... ). Although it was not what we expected, we had fun and had a great time with friends. Thanks Jeff and Wendy for hosting us! I would have been COMPLETELY insane if it weren't for y'all! 

Chris and I in front of our very first house in Shawnee! 

So many memories! 

Chris and I in front of Bethel Baptist Church in Norman, OK where we met and were married! 

Natalie and Daddy at Andy Alligator's Fun Park in Norman. 

The minor "glitch" we had to travel around in all week! 

June 26th- 28th 

My parents came in from Arp to join us for our very first "stay-cation". We stayed in and around Houston and had a great time. We went to an Astro's game, Galveston Beach and Traders Village Amusement Park. The kids and us had a blast experiencing these places with Gigi Shirley and Poppy and we hope to make this an ANNUAL thing!  

A Klingsick family tradition- baseball! 

Natalie is our "water baby"... She LOVES the ocean! 

I am raising her up right... LOVING rides from day one! 

June 29th 
TWO Decades 
I traveled to my dad's church, AEBC, in Arp, TX for his 20th anniversary of being the pastor there. My dad had no idea my sister and I were coming and it was truly a special day and moment for all 4 of us! 

Congrats dad on such an amazing career at AEBC!

I cannot believe it has been 20 years! 

My dad... My HERO

July 4th 
Freedom Rings 

This was just another typical July Fourth except for the fact that Natalie faced her fears of Fireworks and Firecrackers by lighting and holding some sparklers we purchased for her. She has been DEATHLY afraid of these since as long as we can remember and she decided she was ready to get over this fear and did just that on this evening! I am so proud of her! 

My little girl is growing up so fast! Facing her fears of fireworks all by herself! 

Way to go Nattie Grace! 

July 5th 
Girls Only Shopping Spree 
Natalie and I traveled to northwest Houston to the Houston Premium Outlet Mall to shop til we drop! We didn't find as many bargains as I had hoped but had a wonderful time nonetheless!

My little shop-a-holic!

July 11th 
The Houston Zoo with all our "monkey" friends from church 

We spent the morning and afternoon with 5 other families from our Sunday School class at church at the Houston Zoo. This was extra special because we visit the zoo frequently but rarely with friends! Natalie and Luke (and mommy and daddy too) had a BLAST! 

Natalie and Cynthia the monkeys!

July 14th- 18th
Agency D3 

Vacation Bible School week and this was one for the record books. I was teaching Preschool Music and Natalie AND Luke got to come and experience music time WITH me! I also led the Preschool Worship time and had one of the most amazing worship experiences of MY LIFE leading these 2-5 year olds in praising Our Lord! Discover... Decide... Defend! 

Natalie and Luke ready for VBS worship rally. 

My little secret agents and I are ready to Discover, Decide and Defend! 

July 18th- 20th 
Davis Family Time 
"Aunt Sissy" appeared again as John, Leeanna and Baby Madisyn came to visit all the way from Lubbock. The weekend was even more special when D'Ann, Chris's sister, came in to town as well! It was a wonderful weekend of family fun and fellowship. 

I have decided I LOVE being an aunt!

July 22nd 
Luke's First Theater Experience 

Chris, my two "minions" and I went to watch Despicable Me 2 for Summer Fun Days at the Movie Theater. This was Luke's 1st time at the movies and he did remarkably well! 

All I have to say is THANK YOU FOR POPCORN! 

This was our saving grace! 

July 25th 
Another New Experience... On the Lake
We visited my teaching partner and good friend, Tammy's, barn and lakehouse where Natalie got to bottle-feed a baby goat and the kids and I got to go fishing for the first time! We may not have caught anything but it was a GREAT experience! Thank you Coach for keeping us entertained! We will see you again soon! 

Natalie feeding "Brown Baby" via a bottle! 

This was so cool and I am so grateful to Tammy for letting Natalie do this! 

I'm nearly 32 years old and I have never been fishing... Crossed it off my bucket list! 

July 26th
Bouncin' Bears 

Our little bears were "a-bouncing and a-rolling" all over the place at this fun INDOOR inflatable amusement park! Even Chris and I got to feel like a kid again as we bounced all around the inflatables! 

My little bear just bouncing all around. 

July 28th 
Chuck E Cheese 

As we approached one of the last weeks of the summer, we asked the kids what they wanted to do for fun and both of them said "Chuck E Cheese". This is one of their favorite places and with 150 tokens to use in the arcade even Chris and I got to be a kid again this time! 

August 1st 
Hi Sam Houston 

As we traveled north to Buffalo, TX to drop the kids off with my parents we made a pit-stop in Huntsville at the Sam Houston Memorial. We travel past this massive monument every time we travel to Arp or Dallas and Natalie has always wanted to stop and see it so we made time this day.

Inside the cabin at the monument site! 

"Wow... this guy is HUGE!"- Natalie

August 3rd- 10th 
Caribbean Cruise #3 
Chris and I fed our "cruise addiction" with our 3rd Caribbean cruise. We traveled on Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and had a BLAST! So much fun that we already have Cruise #4 booked... March 7, 2015! I Cannot wait!

We LOVE Cruising!

August 14th 
"Let's go to the Mall" 
I asked Natalie what she would like to do on our last day before I had to go back to work and she said "Let's go to the mall". She loves going into the Disney Store, riding the carousel and playing with the puppies! I gave her a choice of 2 and she (with the help of Luke) chose the puppy store! Of course, when we got there they chose a beagle to hold! This little one was feisty and a biter!

Natalie loved this little mini-Abbey! 

Even Luke could not keep up with this feisty one!

August 23rd 
Welcome to the COOLEST Party Ever
This is the day we chose to celebrate Natalie's 5th birthday with family and friends. My mom, dad and sister came into town and Gigi Jackie and Grandpa were there too. Natalie had about 6 friends come to her FROZEN party. We decorated the house from top to bottom with FROZEN stuff and even played the part with FROZEN attire. After the party we went to the mall for Natalie and Auntie Allie to do the "Annual Build-a-Bear Trip". Natalie was so excited she could hardly contain her self! It was a great day celebrating my Nattie Grace!

Even Elsa and Anna made an appearance! 

We went all out and decorated everything! 

August 25th 
Happy 1st Day of School and Birthday Natalie
This was my, Chris and Natalie's 1st day of school. My little angel was starting Kindergarten. I shed a few tears to say the least! I think I had 10-20 kids at school ask me if I was OK in the morning! Of course, I am OK but my baby is no longer a baby! It was a great day and it is all down hill from here (literally).

Happy Birthday Miss Natalie!

1st Day of Kindergarten... Class of 2027! 

1st Day of School 2014-2015!

We absolutely LOVE being teachers and being able to spend 2 months alongside our kids during the summer! This summer has proved to be the best one yet and honestly we cannot wait until Summer of 2015... just 172 teaching days left (not that we are counting or anything)! Thank You, Lord for yet again another AMAZING summer with our kids! 

God is good... ALL THE TIME! 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Excursions on Shore

Shore Excursions: Reflections and Ratings 

The Davis Cruises 2006-2016 

Chris and I have been on 8 cruises, on 3 cruise lines, 7 ships, 22 shore excursions and 12 different ports. We have discussed in detail which port is our favorite as well as which exact shore excursions were our favorites and why.

Favorite  Ports
1. Cozumel, Mexico
2. Skagway, AK
3. Juneau, AK
4. CoCo Cay, Bahamas
5. Mohagany Bay, Roatan, Honduras
6. Ketchikan, AK
7. Victoria, B.C., Canada
8. Grand Cayman
 9. Nassau, Bahamas
10. Key West, FL, USA
11. Falmouth, Jamaica
12. Belize City, Belize
13. Montego Bay, Jamaica

Favorite Shore Excursions

1. Glacier Explorer- Endicott Arm Fjord and Dawes Glacier, Alaska- Carnival Legend, 2016
"For the beauty of the earth", was going through my mind as we sailed through the Endicott Arm Fjord towards the Dawes Glacier. This small boat excursion picked us up from our ship and took us further into the fjord as close as 300 yards from the glacier. We were able to see tons of ice caving and feel the wind and mist from the glacier. As we made our way back to the ship we stopped at an inlet to see several gorgeous waterfalls. Before we boarded our ship again we stopped to see 2 MASSIVE humpback whales closer than 50 yards away. This was the most amazing thing we have ever seen! 

This was the best tour EVER. Even at $190/ per person, I would do it again TOMORROW! 

2. Train and Bike Tour- Skagway, AK- Carnival Legend, 2016
This excursion was so exhilerating and a true once in a lifetime type of thing. We rode the White Pass Rail up to Fasier B.C. and then got in a van to ride down a few hundred feet to White Pass Summit in Alaska. Then we geared up for a 15 mile descent into Skagway via BIKE. We saw mountains and waterfalls and rode at speeds of up to 15 mph. We even crossed the US/ Canadian border by bike! It was a true Bucket- list event and one we will sure NEVER forget! 

The most adventurous thing we have ever done! 

3. Parasailing- Nassau, Bahamas- Royal Caribbean Serenade of the Seas, 2015
WOW... What an incredible rush and thrill. This was all that we had hoped for and more. We met our AMAZING guide, Captain Freddie, inside Nassau and within 10 minutes we were away from the shore and ready to sail. We soared up to 110-130+ feet above the waters and well above the ships smoke stacks! We saw amazing lagoons, beautiful waters, sting rays and even sharks from 100 feet above! It was the best shore excursion EVER! We will do it again in a heart beat!

This was the most amazing excursion we have ever been on! 

100 feet above the water is a perfect time for a selfie!

4.- Sea Trek Helmet Dive~ Cozumel- Carnival Magic, 2015
We were originally supposed to do a mini-submarine tour with a private company in Cozumel but when our itinerary changed we lost that and had to add an excursion with Carnival. We had talked about Helmet Diving for quite some time and decided to take the plunge! We started with an orientation video and then put on our 70+ helmet and went 25 feet below the water's surface to the ocean floor. We were able to see starfish, hold a lobster, see a sunken ship and even do some disco dancing on the ocean floor. It was the most incredible experience I have had IN the water in my entire life!

Holding a HUGE starfish 25 feet below the surface! INCREDIBLE! 

Kissy Kissy! I love you Chris Davis! 

Hello from the Ocean Floor! 

Check out the video...
Sea Trek Helmet Dive- Cozumel

5. Swimming with the Dolphins- Cozumel/ Playa del Carmen- Carnival Conquest, 2006
This was an awesome experience where we got to travel to Mexico's mainland and go to a resort where dolphins were kept and trained to play with peoples. This resort also offered a manatee interaction as well. We were able to get into the water with the dolphins, touch them and even swim with them. This was a trip with spent with my in-laws which made the experience even more special. I never thought the dolphins would be able to hold my weight (I was at least 40 pounds heavier then) but they sure did and I was pulled 20-30 yards in the water. It was amazing and I hope to be able to take me kids there one day to experience it as well.

On the beach in Playa del Carmen, Mexico!

6. Great Western Hemisphere Reef Snorkeling- Belize- Carnival Conquest, 2013
This shore excursion took us out to the 2nd largest coral reef in the world, The Great Western Hemisphere Barrier Reef, just outside Belize City. We were able to snorkel alongside beautiful coral and all kinds of fish and sea life. We snorkeled for about 1 hour before heading out to a private island off the coast of Belize called Canister Caye. This was a very small island with limited beach access, a small restaurant, tiki hut with chairs and a shower/ restroom. It was exactly what you would see in a movie! It truly was private! Then on the way back to our ship there was a boat party with lots of goodies! I LOVED this excursion and it remains my favorite mainly for amazing coral reef we were able to witness, and just taking in all of God's amazing creation! And the private island didn't hurt.

At Canister Caye, the private island, after our snorkeling tour in Belize. 

On the "party boat" after the excursion!

7. SNUBA- Grand Cayman- Royal Caribbean Navigator of the Seas, 2014
During this excursion we were able to go down 20-30 feet into the deep Caribbean waters to see all kinds of sea life, fish and even a shipwreck. SNUBA is a cross between snorkeling and scuba diving. You do not have to be certified to dive and more importantly you do not have to carry the cumbersome take down 20 feet as you explore. This was AMAZING and I am hooked!

This was about 25' down and near the shipwreck site!

Our guide, Mark, took this one of the two of us. I loved this experience!

8. Jet Ski Tour- CoCo Cay, Bahamas- Royal Caribbean Serenade of the Seas, 2015
We tendered to Royal Caribbean's private island of CoCo Cay and then we rushed across beautiful Atlantic Ocean waters at speeds of up to 45 MPH on an HOUR LONG jet ski tour. We ventured miles off the shore into the deep blue and choppy waters of the Atlantic! We stopped about 2 miles off shore for a "dip" in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. It was an adrenaline rush and thrill seekers adventure! We will be doing this again SOON!

Not our best picture but the memories will live in our minds FOREVER! 

9. Mr. Sancho's Parasailing- Cozumel, Mexico- Carnival Triumph, Nov. 2015
This was an excursion we did with my sister Allison on our family #TriumphantThanksgiving cruise in November of 2015. While we were at Mr. Sancho's Beach Club in Cozumel we decided we would show Allison what parasailing was like so we ventured nearly 100 feet into the air above the sea. We all had to fly separately due to the wind but we loved it. The captain even "dipped" us all into the ocean which was an incredible RUSH of adrenaline. After we all completed our flight we headed back to shore and our boat stopped working. We were literally stranded at sea for about 30 minutes... Not the best feeling in the world but it was interesting. We finally made it back on shore about 1.5 hours after left. It was awesome and we LOVED it! Cozumel is a great place to do some parasailing!

1st up was Allison... She was nervous at first but ended up LOVING it! 

My much anticipated DIP into the ocean! WHAT A RUSH!

Chris taking off for his ride!

10. Stingray City- Grand Cayman- Carnival Conquest, 2006
During this excursion we were taken about 20 nautical miles away from Georgetown, Grand Cayman where there was a shallow sand-bar with hundreds of natural stingrays. These stingrays still have their stingers in tact but learned when "feeding time" was and rarely stung anyone. We were able to feed the stingrays, pet them and even kiss them. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I am so thrilled I was able to do this before Steve Irwin (The Crocodile Hunter) got stung and died because you know I would not have done it then! But honestly, I think my kids would like this one as well!

Wow... This was incredible! I am so glad I got to share it with my in-laws! 

11. Zip-lining - Falmouth, Jamaica- Royal Caribbean Navigator of the Seas, 2014
During this excursion we traveled to the mountains in Jamaica to ride along 8 different traverses throughout the jungle. This was astonishing, amazing and the sights I was able to see from my zip-line were priceless. 

This was a "New Beginnings" style of shore excursion that we took because of our 

210 pound weight loss in 2014! It was incredible and exhilarating

12. Key Lime Bike Tour- Key West, FL- Royal Caribbean Serenade of the Seas, 2015
We traveled the entire width of the island on bike with an amazing tour guide. We made stops at the Gulf and Atlantic sides of the island, the Southern Most tip of the Continental US, a local beach and of course had some award winning local Key Lime Pie. At just over 6 miles traveled it was an incredible and active way to see a port! And the pie was not too bad either!

Chris's first time to step foot in the Atlantic Ocean!
We LOVED this excursion! 

13. Dunns River Falls- Falmouth, Jamaica- Royal Caribbean Navigator of the Seas, 2014 
After we finished our Zip-lining tour at Chukka, we then travel 15 additional miles to the other side of the island to Dunns River Falls in Ocho Rios. These were falls that fed into the ocean where we began our 600+ foot climb to the top of the falls. This was an exhilarating experience and I would do it again in a heart beat. 

This too was "New Beginnings" and we were able to completely climb to the top because of our weight loss! This excursion had a romantic side to it as well. I highly recommend it! 

14. The Amazing Cozumel Race- Cozumel- Carnival Conquest, 2013
If you are a fan of the CBS show "The Amazing Race" than imagine doing a race within the Caribbean island of Cozumel. We followed numerous clues to different venues throughout the island before arriving at our final destination. Chris and I were at our heaviest points at the time of this race and we still came in 5th place out of 17. I can only imagine what we could do if we ran the race today!

At the starting line for The Amazing Cozumel Race in Cozumel!

15. Sled Dog Ride and Musher Discovery Camp- Juneau, AK- Carnival Legend 2016
This excursion was a last minute change and it turned out to be a great experience and one we will not forget. We were driven through Juneau to Douglas island where we arrived at a Musher Camp and were immediately pulled by sled dogs for over a mile. Then we were able to learn about the dogs and their mushers and even get to hold and pet new litters of puppies. This was a great excursion and I think out kids would LOVE it!

We loved this laid back and interesting tour! 

16. Roatan Snorkel and Beach Break- Roatan, Honduras- Carnival Conquest, 2013 & Caribbean Princess- 2016
2013-This was my perfect beach and cruise day as it included all the necessary beach essentials. This was on the island of Roatan, Honduras where our ship docked. Guests were able to ride a gondola to from the pier to the beach which included amazing views of the pier, the island and the amazing Caribbean waters. This beach offered snorkel gear, kayaks, massive "clam-shell" umbrellas for beach use and even private villas for rent. Chris and sent the morning snorkeling where we saw some of the best shallow reefs in the world as well as schools of jellyfish. This excursion was so close to our ship that we were able to go back on board for lunch which helped save some money and was an added convenience. We then took the gondola back to the beach for some more swimming and just lounge beach time. It was a true paradise in the Caribbean and remains in my top three.

2013-Mahogany Beach in Roatan! Absolutely stunning! 

2013-On the beach in Roatan!

2016- We came into this destination with high hopes as we LOVED the beach and the island itself in 2013. It did not disappoint! In fact, we left in 2016 as Mahogany Bay as our #1 Western Caribbean destination and our favorite beach location of all of our cruising excursion. In fact, we are already planning when we can bring our kids as the island is very kid friendly and I know our kids would love it!

 2016-We LOVE this beach! Once again, some of the best snorkeling we have ever experienced!
Plus the water is crystal clear and gorgeous! 

2016- Our new #1 Western Caribbean destination! 

17. Paradise Beach- Cozumel- Royal Caribbean Navigator of the Seas, 2014
This was one of the best beach facilities I have been to in my life. This beach had activities such as snorkeling, kayaking, paddle boats, massages, para-sailing, jet ski and so much more. Not to mention the numerous inflatable water toys that were in the middle of the ocean to play on. Chris and I really felt like a kid again. Among the many shore excursion options in Cozumel, this will be a "stand-by" for us as it was a real bargain and a day FULL of FUN!

This beach was not made for the "beach bums" but instead the "active beach goers". 

18. Jungle River Tubing- Montego Bay, Jamaica- Carnival Conquest, 2006
This excursion was full of memories as it too was spent with my in-laws but one of the main things I remember about this excursion was it was 1.5 hours away from our cruise pier and that time was spent in an non air-conditioned van through dirt Jamaican roads. Again, lots of memories were made. This was an adventure that I would have loved to have taken if I did not have to ride 1.5 hours, each way, to get there and have a headache from all the pot-holes in the road. Lots of fun... but a lot of hassle!

This was fun and exciting but the water was "refreshing". 

19. Tongass National Forest Hike- Ketchikan, AK- Carnival Legend, 2016
This excursion was listed as a hike but it was barely a walk in the park. We walked over 3 miles through the Tongass forest and learned all about the Pacific Northwest trees and plants and saw several types of slugs. Due to the calendar time of year that we took this tour we missed the bears and salmon spawning so the slugs were actually the highlight of this tour. 

This tour did provide gorgeous scenery! 

20. Horse Back Riding in the Ocean- Montego Bay, Jamaica- Carnival Magic, 2015
The day started off with a 40 minute bus ride to Sandy Shores on the northwest side of the island of Jamaica. We then received a brief orientation and then mounted our horses for a mount side trail ride. This was picturesque and beautiful to say the least but the lack of experience with Kellie and a stubborn horse for Chris made this experience very frustrating. After our mountain trail ride we then changed clothes and rode these horses into the ocean. A storm had just moved in and it was lightning and thundering which was frightening for both us and the horses. It was a day full of memories but I am not sure if we would do it again!

Riding horses in Jamaica in the ocean... an experience for sure! 

21. Ocean Kayaking and Snorkeling- Grand Cayman- Carnival Magic, 2015
This excursion started with traveling by van to a remote part of Grand Cayman island for about 3 miles of ocean kayaking before snorkeling in the middle of the beautiful aqua blue waters of this island. The kayaking was great, however, we wanted it to be less touristy and more active. In addition, the snorkeling was some of the worse we have experienced and left us wanting more and disappointed! Oddly enough, my parents took this excursion 5 months after we did and also did not like it and were not impressed. 

Ocean Kayak selfie! 

We loved the kayaking part of this excursion...but the snorkeling left much to be desired!

22. Belize City Private City Tour- Belize City, Belize- Caribbean Princess- 2016
We did not plan on taking an actual excursion in Belize on this cruise but the locals talked us into it. It was a GREAT tour of the city and we thoroughly enjoyed our guide. Justin. He showed us most of the city including $500,000 homes and then his own, which was worth MUCH less. However, this type of excursion is just not our style. We like more active excursions. I think we felt like "old people" on this excursion! But we did enjoy learning the history behind this city! 

Another Caribbean destination with CRAZY locals! I love that!

We have 4 more cruises in the near future and I'm sure these will all shift in ranking after these trips are taken. We will be sure to update this list as we take these trips!

Seeing the world... One cruise at time!

God is good... ALL THE TIME!