Saturday, July 16, 2016

Punta Cana, DR

Happy 15th Anniversary!  
We took a belated trip to the Dominican Republic in April.  Neither one of us had been there and had heard it was a nice place.  Even had friends stay at this exact resort that we stayed at.
 Just got off the plane and heading into the was cloudless beautiful skies.....too bad we didn't realize it was going to be one of two nice days we were going to have.
 We stayed in the preferred club which was more quiet then out in the non preferred club.  We had our own swimming pool right outside of our door so that was nice(when we used it).
our bedroom.  toilet and shower behind the brown closet
Our room wasn't actually ready when we got there so we enjoyed lunch while we waited.  We tried the calamari here on the first day and every day after we ordered it while we sat on the beach. (rain or shine....literally)

We sat in the same chairs in the preferred section every day(rain or shine) hopes that on the rainy days the sun would come out.  This was our first day. 
 And EVERY.SINGLE.DAY at least two weddings happened right beside our chairs.  Nothing like up front and center to see everyone's weddings.  This couple was the only couple we saw get married in the sunshine!!

The next morning we ate breakfast at the Seaside Grill.  Then headed straight out to the beach for a morning of sunshine.  It was so nice to sit and relax and swim in the ocean.

Dinner time!

This is the preferred club pool.  Our room is in the background....ground floor room on the right corner.

Every morning we walked to the coffee shop for our morning coffee.  Yummy!  Yes that is a sweatshirt wrapped around my waist!!!  Nick and I were heading out in the rain to walk the grounds over and over again until we got the distance we wanted that morning.  You just gotta make the best of rainy weather......scrabble anyone????  We played this quite a bit on our trip.  They had several games inside the preferred club lobby.

More coffee midday:)
There always seems to be time to act "not our age".  Always have to have some goofy pictures....right??

 Another beach walk was underway.  Look at those amazing clouds...Ha!!

Didn't think to get my phone out until it was going back up....but there was even a small waterspout that formed.
The pool that I think we got into three times max!
Is the sun going to shine today??  Maybe just maybe??

                Yummy food at this resort.  And some really good drinks too!!

This was the night in which venders come into the resort.  We got all our boys a Tiki necklace(which nick is wearing:), and we got Ellie a pink bracelet(which I am wearing).

On the last day nick decided to give wind surfing a shot.  He didn't do so bad.  
 Yet another dinner and again some really good food.
Look at that sky......this is the day we left.  It was almost cloudless!!  Which made it super hard to leave.  
Although it was not ideal weather for a beach vacation we still enjoyed our time and recommend the resort.  However both Nick and I don't have much desire to return to DR.  We will be ready to try a "new" place and "new" destination.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

60th Surprise Party!!

Thanks to Nick's dad for getting this wonderful surprise party planned for Marcia(nick's mom).  My mil loves to go to Shipshewana to the Blue Gate Theatre.  So dad booked the hotel for a night, and got the tickets for the Home Game show and dinner.  What a fun time we all had.  
So us kids all drove up ahead of Gerry and Marcia.  We got to the Rise n Roll Bakery about 30 minutes before they did.  Sat in a back room and waited for mom to arrive.  We all sang happy birthday and really surprised her.  She was in tears.  Then we ate an early lunch and headed on to a bit of shopping.  Next we went to the Home Game show.  I had never been to any of their productions, but I enjoyed it greatly and would go again easily.
Next we had a table reserved and food was brought to us.  Yummy Amish home cooked food.  
Taken after we had finished eating our dinner.

Dad paid for us all and we had a horse and buggy ride.  Went to see where they are kept and cared for. 

 The surprise wasn't quite complete as once we got back to the hotel we had a little party for mom.  Complete with cake, snacks, and drinks.  I really had a blast making this cake for mom.  Nothing like I had ever quite done before and used a "new" frosting to me and really enjoyed working with it.  It was a White Chocolate and Raspberry 4 layered cake.

 One last picture inside the hotel before leaving the next morning.  Thanks Dad for making this possible.  We LOVED it!!

Happy Birthday Ellie!!

I am SO FAR behind on my blog its a bit overwhelming.  If only I could learn to just keep updated I wouldn't feel this way.

April 23rd was the birthday celebration of Ellie's 4th birthday.  For the longest time she wanted a butterfly theme UNTIL she saw the movie Frozen and all things changed.  I think its a cute movie, but wow its made her to prance around the house, tossing her hair around and wiggling her little bottom.  Things I don't EVER remember doing as a kid:).  
Needless to say we went ahead and let her have her Frozen theme Birthday Party.  Oh how she LOVED it!!
 Elsa and Anna cake that I made for her.  She couldn't decide which girl she wanted me to make so I just threw in both dolls.
 The food was really fun to do.  We served Hans "we finish each others sandwhiches",  Troll balls(bbq meat balls)
 Sven's snacks (carrot sticks), Anna's frozen hearts (white chocolate covered strawberries)
 Kristoph's ice blocks (blue jello jigglers),  Melted Olaf (yogurt with pretzel sticks and eyes)
 Elsa's coronation salad (ceasar salad), and Arendelle's frozen bay (blue punch)
 Ellie is pleased to eat her yummy food.  Hard to tell here, but she even wanted her hair like Elsa's coronation hair in the movie.
Gift time.  

I find this picture a bit ironic in the fact that she is wearing her butterfly wings she got from her great Aunt Joan at her Frozen party.  A few weeks after her birthday Ellie came to me and said "I want a butterfly birthday party next".  Guess she still has her heart set on butterflies.
Happy Birthday sweet Ellie.  You are a true joy to have in our household.  Oh how you make me laugh at your spunky attitude and goofy sayings.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Washington D.C.

On March 20th, Nick was scheduled to preach at Washington, D.C for church.  With it being the beginning of our spring break we decided to make a mini vacation out of it for the kids.  We left Saturday morning at 1am and drove straight to Washington.  It was a 11 hour trip which wasn't too bad.  Our first stop was lunch and we chose a really yummy authentic Chinese place.  It had high reviews so we went for it.
We picked 3 different meals, plus two appetizers for our family of 6 and it was plenty of food. 
 We then finished our drive and went straight to the Air and Space Museum near the airport.  This was one of the "to do" things on Elijah's list.  (Elijah is history crazy)
Space Shuttle Discovery

SR-71 Blackbird

We went to the top of the control tower observation deck to look out.  We all look like we just were in the car for 11 hours!!
 So come evening we were all getting hungry and nick had this great idea..... "lets eat at a new cuisine each night for dinner and try foods we have never tried before".  My kids were excited as they are adventurous when it comes to food.  Liam might have been my most reserved child about this idea, but he was still very much willing.  I absolutely LOVE that my kids will eat and try anything!!  What a blessing.
Persian Restaurant: We ordered 3 dishes again for us all.  Plenty of food.  We had lamb kabob, ground beef mixture kabob, and a fish kabob with lots of piles of rice and seasonings for it.  Roasted tomatoes and onions.
 Sunday after church we headed to Arlington Cemetery for the changing of the guards.  It was a bit tough to keep Ellie so quiet during the ceremony but it was good to see.  It was soooo cold this day.  We had our winter coats, hats and gloves piled on.

For dinner sunday night we were invited to the Steffens house for a meal and to celebrate Liam's 7th birthday.  Doreen did such an amazing job on cake and the meal was so delicious.  
 Monday we headed back into Washington.  Our hotel was actually in Vienna so we had a small drive each morning and afternoon to get into Washington.  We were right by the metro station, and thought if driving goes poorly with so much traffic we will use the metro.  However, driving wasn't an issue for the most part and it saved us 40$ each day by driving our own vehicle and finding a parking garage.  Thanks to an app that reserves your spot within the garage for 20$ a day.

 Our first stop for the day was to National Archives. (yes this was on Elijah's top of the list....he wanted to see the constitution). There was about a 45min-1 hour wait but thankfully we were sitting in  the sun and we had a wall to sit on.  It actually felt warm sitting here waiting so it wasn't a big deal.
 We then marched on......oh the walking we were going to be doing on this vacation.  I've been to Washington DC when I was a kid and the number one thing I hated about it was all the walking (let alone I am NOT a history person).  Little did Liam know how much he was going to be walking. We did bring along our Schwinn bike/stroller carrier and it was extremely useful.  Not only for the two youngest kids, but it has a nice large pocket in back that we kept our snacks, drinks, and coats(when not needed).
There it is.....THE WHITE HOUSE
 From there we walked to the Washington Monument.  We did not go to the top of it, but we did walk up and get a good close look.

We then walked to the World War II memorial.

At the World War II memorial taking a break to eat our "lunch" that we had packed.  
 We then traveled by foot along the reflecting pool down to Lincoln Memorial.  Then onto the Vietnam War Veterans Memorial Wall. (no picture)

 Ahhhh, it was FINALLY time to sit down to a meal.  This night we chose German.  OH. MY. GOODNESS....was this by far the best meal(in my opinion).  Once again we went by reviews to choose this place.  It was 4pm so the restaurant was literally empty.  Which I was thankful for.  We again ordered three meals, and because we were so hungry we could have eaten more, but we knew we had snacks and drinks back at the hotel(each night the hotel furnishes snacks and drinks).
We ordered Rinderroulade, Huhnerschnitzel, and a Wurstfeast.
 Tuesday we took a tour of the Capitol.  We had made prior reservations through our state representative's office before our trip.
 We then got to go meet our state district representative Jacki Walorski.  She was in a meeting with the secretary of defense but stepped out to talk with us and get a picture.
 We then traveled to the Jefferson Library (another of Elijah's top places to see).

 After visiting the Library and Supreme Court, we walked ALL...THE...WAY to the other end of the National Mall to the Tidal Basin and saw the Jefferson Memorial.  We circled the tidal basin and saw the Franklin Roosevelt memorial and the Martin Luther King memorial.

After this long day we were exhausted and wanted to go have a simpler dinner.  Keeping with our international theme we decided to go to an local Australian steakhouse: Outback! 

On our last day we drove down to Mt. Vernon to tour George Washington's home. This might have been my favorite day and perhaps that was because by the afternoon it was 72 degrees and sunny.  (talk about extreme weather conditions....we got to washington with snow coming down and we leave a few days later with 70 degrees).
After Mt. Vernon we drove back to the National Mall and did a speed tour of the American History Museum.  We had an hour to quick walk through the spots that interested us most.

 We then drove to our next restaurant.  Once again we went off of reviews.  This time however, I would NOT give this place high reviews. Food was good, but the place was a nasty hole in the wall.  Granted some hole in the wall places are just fine, but this place was DIRTY!!  I was appalled watching the guy clean off the tables with a rag, to then wipe up the floor with the same rag, back to the tables again and then disappeared into the restroom.....REALLY??????  Ugh!
Lebanese/ Mediterranean 
We left Thursday morning for home and was back at our abode by 9pm.  What a nice educational getaway.