Over Thanksgiving week, Ma took all of us on a cruise. All my sibblings and their families went, as well as my mom, Roland, Uncle Kenny, Aunt Kim, Aunt Louise and Ma of course. There were 26 of us in all. Isabelle and Erin's birthdays also happened to fall during the cruise, so it gave us even more reason to celebrate. All year whenever anyone asked Isabelle when her birthday was she would say, "it's on the cruise." Her and Anya both were so excited that we were going on a cruise for Isabelle's birthday. I'm starting to think that maybe we shouldn't tell the kids about vacations until just before it, otherwise all I hear all day every day is talk about the vacation and "when are we going." Since we booked this cruise back in January, there was a lot of waiting for these kiddos. For Anya, it was half of her lifetime away, that is a long time for a little kid. But the time finally came and we set off for Miami (As a side note, Charlotte to Miami is a lot longer of a drive than the originally anticipated Orlando to Miami trip, since we still lived in Orlando when we booked the trip). In any case, we drove to Ma's house the first day and spent the night there and took off in the morning for Miami. It has been just over 2 years since our last cruise, so this one felt long overdue. It was so refreshing to see the ship there in port. So we went on the Norwegian Cruise Line's ship, the Epic. It is one of the biggest and newest ships out there. It did not disappoint!
Leaving port. These 3 were inseparable!
Hanging with my little man on our balcony.
Watching from their balconies as the ship took off.
This little man had no idea what a treat he was in for.
Since we weren't all going to be together for Christmas we planned to do our Christmas gift exchange on the boat. All the siblings and spouses exchanged gift and all the cousins did as well. We found a little area were we all congregated and ate and exchanged gifts. It was a good time.
Cousin time- priceless!
Feeling so grown up with their own table
The night life was definitely exciting on the boat. There was first class entertainment.
The first night we went and saw the Blue Man Group. It was pretty awesome.
My favorite show was the Cirque Dreams and Dinner. It was absolutely incredible. I could go see it over and over. They had some audience participation. For one of the stunts they pulled Brian out of the crowd and had him hold these balloons one of which was between his legs. The guy then showed Brian a big whip he was going to use to pop the balloons. He blindfolded Brian so he wouldn't have to watch him pop the balloon between his legs with the whip. He used a needle to pop it instead, but it was pretty hilarious and Brian was a little anxious I'm sure. I also got pulled out of the audience and played some bells that they orchestrated into a song. It was pretty cool.
Isabelle's birthday was on one of our at Sea days. We scheduled a Nickelodeon breakfast for her in the morning, my mom and Addison joined us. It was really cute, they had finger foods kids would love and all the Nickelodeon characters came out and sang and dance. At the end we got to go and take pictures with the different characters. The girls loved it.
Enjoying her breakfast and the characters singing and dancing.
Papa and his birthday girl
A full out tickle war- Papa vs. the girls
Liam enjoyed the breakfast too
While we were at breakfast I had Carol decorate our cabin with some balloons and streamers I had brought with me. The girls were beyond excited when they came in and saw it. Isabelle kept saying our room was transformed.
I think Anya was just as excited as Isabelle for it to be Isabelle's birthday.
Later in the afternoon we had a family birthday party for Isabelle. We all sang happy birthday and she got to open a few presents. She was one happy birthday girl.
At dinner they brought her a cake and had her blow out a pretend candle. What a great birthday it was!
So good to all be together.
Ashley and Jeff
Liam and Charles were buddies during the trip. They were pretty inseparable. This was a common scene, Liam sleeping in the back pack. Everywhere Charles went he would get stopped by people commenting on how cute Liam was. He was quite the little heart throb, flirting with all the girls. What a sweet little boy.
My handsome guy!
Prior to the cruise, Liam's diet consisted mostly of baby food and nursing. That all changed, he was eating all sorts of things by day one of the cruise. His favorite was all the bread.
These two are buddies
The girls all loved going to the kids club. They were so excited to go everyday.
These two became very much "at home" on the cruise. They had their regular meals (consisting mostly of pizza, watermelon, and french fries) and learned how to get their own ice cream. They knew what floor everything was on and acted like the boat was their second home. It was pretty cute.
It was hard to get all 26 of us together for a meal, but we managed to do it a couple of times.
Anya loves her Nana!
Addison and Uncle Kenny
We stopped in St. Thomas, St. Martin and The Bahamas. They weather challenged us a bit, but we enjoyed our time at these beautiful ports.
Ready For Fun!
With my beach babe! Love him!
Anya pretty much stuck to playing in the sand.
Isabelle on the other hand was hard to get out of the water!
All the fun wore this little guy out!
We had such a wonderful time being together as a family and with all of my big family. It was so good having time with all of my family again, especially since we have been away a few months now. We are so grateful that Ma makes it possible for us to create so many wonderful memories that we otherwise wouldn't be able to make.