Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Alaskan Adventure

Jeremy and I just got home from a family vacation to Alaska.  We went on cruise with my parents, brother, and sister-in-law.  This was our first vacation just the six of us and I think we set a pretty high standard.  We were on the Holland-America ship ms Westerdam.  We flew from KC to Seattle on Friday evening and ate our first meal at Duke's Chowder House and had some AMAZING food.  Duke's is a local franchise in Washington and I highly recommend trying it out if you make it to the area and getting the Award Winning Chowder.  After dinner we went to the liquor store that was right next to our hotel.  Our ship allowed us to carry on our own wine so we stocked up and found that liquor prices in a Seattle are good compared to Kansas.  That is about all we did in Seattle however we all decided it would be a place we'd like to spend more time in some day.

We boarded our ship around 11:30 a.m. Saturday.  This all went smoothly (after we retrieved the documents I left in our shuttle...oops) and was a breeze compared to the ship boarding experience our group had in October.  

The cruise was a week at this is the breakdown of each day:
Saturday June 1st:  Vessel Undocked @ 4:10pm
Sunday June 2nd:  At Sea
Monday June 3rd:  Juneau, Alaska
Tuesday June 4th:  Glacier Bay Scenic Cruising
Wednesday June 5th:  Sitka, Alaska
Thursday June 6th:  Ketchikan, Alaska
Friday June 7th:  Victoria, British Columbia
Saturday June 8th:  Seattle, Washington Vessel docked approx. 6:30am
Emily, Justin, & Mom at dinner the first night on the ship.

My Dad and I at dinner.

Jeremy & I at dinner.

Mom & Dad at dinner.
First formal night - 2nd Day on the ship - Day at Sea
Our day in Juneau was one of my favorites.  We did our one and only excursion and went on the Mendenhall Glacier Hike.  The hike was approximately 4.5 miles (round trip) on a mountain and the end result was a view of the Mendenhall Glacier.  This really gave us a feel for the Alaska landscape.  They were having a very nice day weather wise in Juneau.  It was in the lower sixties and our two guides said it was a "hot" day for Juneau.  It did sprinkle on us a bit but it didn't start until a little way into our hike therefore we had already worked up a sweat and welcomed the coolness.
The trail was beautiful.
Jeremy and I posing on one of our first breaks along the trail.

Group picture of the whole family.

Mountain view along the trail, we also saw several waterfalls.

The Mendenhall Glacier.  Totally worth the hike the picture does not due it justice.

The crew who made it to the top.  The last 20 feet was pretty rocky so dad opted to stay behind.  You could still see the glacier from where he stopped but only the beginning of it.

Group picture at the end of the hike in front of the lake which had icebergs floating in it.  We were pretty wet by this point and the camera lens had several rain drops therefore the picture is a little blurry.
Day 4 was another day at sea however unlike the first day at sea we had lots of scenery.  Jeremy and I were up early that time (still on KS time) and we went up to the observation deck.  They had two park rangers on the ship at this point who got on the boat by a rope ladder (YIKES) and they "narrated" our trip through Glacier Bay National Park.  

"Margerie Glacier" was breath taking.  Again pictures don't do it justice.  The ship was anchored in front of it for approximately an hour.  During this time we witnessed the glacier "caving" or breaking off and falling into the ocean.  I would describe it as small avalanches that created a noise that sounds like thunder.  This happened several times within the hour.

My mom & dad's room had a balcony so we spent most of the day sitting out there enjoying the scenery.

Seagulls were flying all around our ship while we were parked at 
 Day 5 we were in Sitka, AK.  Sitka is home to St. Michael's Cathedral which was built while Alaska was still under control of Russia.  We visited the cathedral along with a museum that displayed some of the local Russian culture and history.  We also walked across town to see Sitka National Historical Park that feature the culture and history of the Tlingit Indians.  On the way back through town we passed a grocery store so we went in just to compare prices.  We purchased a bag of Peanut Butter M&M's, Pretzel's, & Munchies and spent over $17.00 (OUCH).  Made us really appreciate our grocery store prices.
Two bald eagles were perched on the top of the cross at St. Michael's Cathedral.

One of the totem polls modeled from the Tlingit Indians.

Group photo in Sitka.

ms Westerdam - We had to take tender boats from the ship to the dock in Sitka.
 Day six was in Ketchikan, AK.  We were only docked in the morning and had to be back on the ship this day by 12:30 p.m.  We didn't do much in Ketchikan because it was pretty cold and rainy that day.  However that night on the ship was the second formal night.
Emily, Mom, and I after dinner.

Justin & Emily

Jeremy & I

Mom & Dad - 36 years of marriage!

Family Photo
We failed to get any pictures on Day 7 in Victoria, BC.  We didn't arrive until after 6:00 pm and all-aboard was mid-night.  Victoria was a very pretty city.  We took a shuttle bus downtown and went into a few stops.  We stopped at a gelato shop and Jeremy and I each got one small scoop of ice cream and paid over $12.00 for it.  It was good but I can't say it was worth that much.  We had no idea it was that expensive and I think the look on my face said too much the cashier however by the time she rang it up it was half gone so there was no turning back!

The entertainment on the ship was very good.  They of course had a casino and several bars which each had their own style of music.  The musicians  singers, and dancers on the ship were all good and truly seemed to love their jobs.  They had a main show every night which usually feature the Westerdam signers & and dancers however one night they had a comedian who was very funny.  The ship also had a free movie rental program so we did rent a couple movies to fill some ship time.  The ship also had a library.  I never checked out a book because I had brought my own but it was a nice feature.  The boat also had a salon & spa and a fitness center. I never really embraced the fitness center however I think everyone else in my family at least visited once.  I think Justin and Emily went everyday.  I did however take advantage of the spa on Friday and received a facial, foot massage, and a scalp/neck/shoulder massage.  It was a wonderful way to end the vacation!

Sunday, March 17, 2013


Everything in the 2nd year of Ava's life went faster than the first.  I am not sure how this is possible.  Before I started this post I went through and read the few posts I have previously done.  Even though I don't have a lot I do appreciate the memories and information that I do have.  Hopefully this is motivation for me to keep up on this blog and come September we will have twice the information to blog about.  Yes if you have not heard Ava is expected to be a big sister Sept 2013! 

Currently Ava is starting to develop quite the personality.  She is starting to talk more clearly everyday however we still have some enunciation issues.  Everyday Ava impresses us with her knowledge.  She knows about every animal you can think of and has learned several of her letters and can usually count to at least ten without missing any numbers.  She LOVES Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.  Pete is her favorite character which is so weird because he's not exactly the most popular or the most well behaved character but when he comes on the screen her face lights up and she yells PETE!  She can throw a good fit and does it often.  This has been very wearing on me especially since I've been extremely exhausted lately.

We are at the stage where sitting still for very long is not an easy thing.  This requires us to stay in more than we are use to.  She doesn't really do well in restaurants, in the car (unless we have a DVD going), or church.  A lot of the time Jeremy and I end up going to church at different times which really stinks but if we want to get anything out of it that's about our only option.  I'm hoping we can move onto the listening and understanding stage soon so we can fix some of these issues.

We have introduced the potty to Ava.  She has gone #2 a handful of times on the potty.  A couple times we have "caught her in the act" and a couple times she has voiced that she needs to go.  I am not pushing really hard on this right now but hope to have this mastered before baby # 2 so we don't have to do double diapers.

Ava also sleeps in a BIG GIRL bed now.  We received a twin bed from a friend and this transition went beautifully.  She continues to sleep through the night and seems to be just fine not being in the crib.  I was a little worried because we left the crib up but it still doesn't seem to bother her to see it and she wants to be in her big girl bed.

We had her birthday party last weekend. We appreciate everyone that came and celebrated with us. We are so blessed to have such supportive family and friends!
Kolbie & Ava

Opening her presents!  She was a pro.

Make a wish!  (She wasn't very good at this we had to call on the cousins for assistance)

Kolbie & Max

Ava, Dean, Ethan, and Kendal

Ava and Dean