Tuesday, December 31, 2013

I have gratitude today for...
* meeting with Chet to clarify some things we discussed yesterday. 
* getting through the work day in one piece today- I am very overwhelmed and nervous about the changes that have occurred over the last few weeks. I feel uncertain about what my new roles & responsibilities are. It is all new to me and I am really trying to tell myself it's a chance to learn and grow. It's accepting I need to move beyond my comfort zone and that doesn't come easy for me. But I am going to try, give it my all, and do everything I can to make it work. 
* Gary letting me leave the office at 2:30. It was weird working on New Year's Eve (I've never worked on NYE!) so it was nice to be able to leave early. 
* having a few hours to relax in KOP before leaving for the city. Andy got out of work early too so we met at the house and drove from there to Philly. 
* deciding to take Andy's mom to see "Elf" at the Walnut Street Theater. We started out by going to Barrymore's Cafe, located in the basement of the theater. They served the wine/beer in sippy cups which made us laugh. We hung out there for about 45 minutes until it was time to take our seats. We had the last row which at first, I was worried about. The theater only seats 1,100 people so even in the last row we could see great. The theater is beautiful and the show was excellent. There were just enough funny one-liners to make you laugh yet it wasn't cheesy. All three of us loved the show and we all said we'd love to go back. 
* making it home in time to see the ball drop at midnight. We walked in the door with 47 seconds to go. It was a different NYE for sure, not really partying and going to bed shortly after ringing in the new year. I had stomach pains again so I had no desire to drink anything when we got home. Thankfully the heating pad helped immediately. 

Monday, December 30, 2013

I have gratitude today for...
* the discussion I had with Chet & Steve about my new role here. Officially I am going to be running the entire marketing department. I will also be running the affinity programs (including sales!) I am completely overwhelmed because I feel like I don't know what I'm doing, but excited at the same time about what this could turn into. It hasn't been an easy transition but I'm going to go along for the ride and do the best I can. 
* Mom sending me some houses in the OBX that they would like to rent this summer. We were saying at Christmas how fun it would be for the 6 of us to go away together. 
* talking with Kerry tonight. We hadn't talked since Kelly's wedding which is the longest we've ever gone in years and years. I was wondering if I had done something that made her not want to talk to me and was happy to find out that was not the case.She filled me in on everything going on with them. We had a great talk and made plans for her to come over on Monday night. 

Sunday, December 29, 2013

I have gratitude today for...
* spending the morning hanging out with Jeff, Megan & the kids. 
* getting the house cleaned up, making a fresh batch of guacamole and chicken nachos for lunch and lounging around this afternoon. 
* getting a lot of the office cleaned up and making room so we can put the desk together. 
* a fun time watching the Eagles game. It was just Andy & I and of course he was pacing around like a lion. I decided to open a bottle of red wine and really enjoyed it--it was a pinot noir and very light. It was a close game and very exciting! So many people thought it would be a cake walk because Romo was out but it ended up being a great game!
* talking to Aunt Kathy for a little while towards the end of the game. She called to see how our party went yesterday and to talk about how fun Aruba was.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

I have gratitude today for...
* deciding to sleep in this morning instead of getting up extra early to go out to breakfast. We just had granola bars on the balcony before it was time to go to the lobby to wait for the jeep to pick us up. 
* finally doing a jeep tour of Aruba! I've wanted to do it since our honeymoon but we blew it off in 2011 and 2012. I found this great family owned company that does their own tours. They have good reviews and it sounded more personal than the big jeep tours that have 20 people each on them. Today ended up just being Andy & I. It was cool that it was just us. Gio did pick up a few of his friends after the natural pool who came along for the ride. They live in Aruba and had never seen some of the most popular tourist spots. It's funny how no matter where you live, you tend to skip over what your hometown/city has to offer. 
* our tour guide, driver and new friend Gio. At first I was a little disappointed it wasn't Maddie because she sounds like a blast. Gio ended up being awesome. He's her son and has been driving the jeeps since he was 14 (he's now 30.) That made me feel better when I was wondering if we'd be going down the side of the mountain and into the ocean, on our way to the natural pool! 
* our drive to the natural pool. All I can say is "holy shit!" Even driving on the normal streets was crazy- they drive so fast in Aruba. I don't get scared easily, but in my head I was freaking out a bit. You're in this jeep with no protection should an accident happen. It was definitely a fun adventure though. Once we paid to get inside the national park it was about a 20 min drive to the natural pool. Oh. My. God. It was so bumpy, rocky, hilly---I don't know how else to describe it. The scenery was absolutely gorgeous. You could see the ocean and so many animals- goats, donkeys and I don't even know what else. After holding my breath a few times and praying to God we didn't tumble down the side of the mountain we arrived at the natural "pool" area. Gio dropped us off and we had about 45 minutes there to hang out and explore. At first we couldn't even find the "pool" because it looked nothing like it does in the pictures. It turns out the wind was so strong that the water was much more rough than normal. The pool really looked like it was just a part of the ocean. We finally figured out where it was after talking to a couple of other people who had arrived. We were told typically 30-40 people will be there and that it's a great snorkeling spot. I was disappointed we couldn't snorkel there but it didn't look safe. Huge waves were crashing over the rocks causing a strong current and surges. I did go in to say I went in. I was glad I had my water shoes! The water was beautiful and I could see how it was pool-like when the water is calmer as it usually is. I've wanted to see it for so long  was happy we finally went. Now we know we'd like to go back and hopefully next time we can snorkel. 
* going to the Three Bridges and to see the holes in the ground. We've been to the bridge on the other side before but not to this spot. It was absolutely gorgeous. We only stayed for a few minutes because we wanted to save time for snorkeling. We did have Gio take a few pictures. One was a redo of a favorite of mine from our first trip to Aruba in 2009. 
* finally...snorkeling! We went to a new spot (for us) called Mangel Halto Beach. We put on our snorkel gear (I forgot how hard it is to walk in flippers!) and went in. At first we didn't see much. It was very shallow and coral was everywhere. Sometimes it's hard to tell how shallow it is when you're floating on top of the water. I scraped my legs pretty bad but was determined to see fish. We almost gave up but decided to try one more spot. The water was very rough (just like it was at the natural pool.) Usually there is hardly any current--it's basically like swimming in a pool. Not today...we were warned by other people you needed to be a strong swimmer. I consider myself a strong swimmer, but this was tough water. We did finally find a lot of really great fish. All different species, colors, sizes, etc. I thought they were so cool I lost track of how far out I actually was. At one point I realized Andy was a lot closer to shore and I knew I had to start heading in. It. Was. Hard. It was very hard to swim to shore. I was trying but it felt like I wasn't getting anywhere. The current was strong and I was in water I couldn't stand in. My mask was leaking so I was trying to tread water and tighten it. I swallowed water a few times and realized I was starting to panic. We all know you can't panic in water. I tried to breathe and told myself to just take it slow, focus on breathing and start swimming. Obviously I eventually made it, but it was certainly a lesson for me. I've never really understood how people drown. You always hear the water doesn't have to be deep, that it comes down to people panicking, and so on. I believe all of that now. I am not saying I was any where near drowning, but I can relate now, to how it does happen to people when you wouldn't think it's possible. Even with the scare and my battle wound (a gash near my ankle that was bleeding everywhere when I got out of the water), this was my favorite part of the day. I just loved being with all of the fish, watching them swim around and eat and not even paying attention to these big blobs floating above them. 
* Gio taking us by the rock formations before heading back to the hotel. They are natural formations and they are the biggest rocks I've ever seen. They are beautiful (like everything in Aruba), and when you get to the top you have an incredible view of the area!
*getting a few cute picture's with the Madi's Magical Tour jeep, including one with Gio. He had me sign the jeep too, I chose to write on the front of the hood. Gave some love from Philly. 
* going to Bugalo and sharing the chicken satay platter since we didn't eat anything all day. Love the views from that pier!
* hanging at the pool for about an hour after Bugalo. They had a DJ playing and I laid down and closed my eyes for a while. 
* going to Amazonia for an early dinner. Their food is amazing. They had the best roasted peppers (red and yellow) I've ever had at the salad bar. We loved everything just like last time we went (during our honeymoon.) Our favorites were the house specialty top sirloin, the garlic filet mignon, the sausage and the grilled pineapples. We both ate way too much but knew we would. I wish I could have kept eating because they'll bring you endless amounts of food but I reached my limit pretty quickly and couldn't look at anymore food at that point. Like I've said over and over this past week, a detox is coming after the holidays. Juicing and healthy meals for a few weeks will be a must! We've definitely eaten well this vacation!
* going to bed early tonight. And I mean early. We got back to the hotel from dinner and walking around town for a bit around 8pm. Our plan was to rest for a bit, get through the food coma and then have drinks and go to the Hyatt casino. Nope...I watched Jeopardy and tried to feel less full and ended up falling asleep. I woke up around 1am and couldn't believe we wasted our whole night sleeping. Andy woke up too and was wide awake so he went to the casino at our hotel. He won $10, woohoo. It was a weird night because I got up in the middle of the night and finally changed out of my dress from dinner, brushed my teeth, etc. (around 3am.) We had a long day so I was ok with taking it easy for a night. This trip is going by so fast. I can't believe we only have 3 full days left!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

I have gratitude today for...
* getting up early to get a palapa. I got one in the front row right on the water. Becky & Chris hung out with us until it was time for them to leave. 
* getting something different from Scott's Brats today. I went with the Italian Beef- it was very good!
* the move from the Hyatt to the Westin going smoothly. We packed up and got a cab because we have so much stuff. We basically have our own liquor store after everything that was given to us as people were leaving. 
* spending the rest of the day on the beach at the Hyatt relaxing. It was another gorgeous day. I took some time and walked around the stores this afternoon. I'm in love with a David Yurman ring at the Hyatt and I was trying to find a cheaper version.  No luck. I'm usually not a big jewelry person but there's something about this ring, I just love it. 
* having drinks on our balcony and then trying out the Italian restaurant in the Westin. Our balcony has the most gorgeous view! 
* walking down to the Hyatt to play roulette.  I've become quite the gambler here (j/k)! The table we like wasn't open so we tried the other one. I won the first spin but then gave it all back. Oh well. We had a good time watching other people play. We ended up hanging around for about 2 hours. 
* Andy winning $50 at our casino when we got back to the Westin. I went to bed but he went down to play for a bit and did ok. I'm glad he's having fun at the casinos while we're here. We never gamble and I know it's been fun for him.

Monday, December 16, 2013

I have gratitude today for...
* going to the lounge for breakfast this morning. It's been nice having the lounge to grab cereal in the morning as well as drinks for the day. 
* spending the morning on the beach with everyone. It was sad when everyone had to get ready to leave,  especially Grandma. 
* Scott's Brats for lunch...yes, again.
* the tasty Bloody Mary Bobby bought me this morning. 
* going down the slide and in the hot tub with Andy, Chris & Becky.  We had poolside drinks in the late afternoon until it was time to get ready for dinner.
* dinner at Scala. The broccoli cheese soup was as good as I remember it! Andy had the chicken picata which we didn't love as much as last time. I do love how it's in the 2nd floor and overlooks the street.
* drinking the bottle of champagne that was delivered to us on the first day in the lobby. It's so beautiful there with everything being open air. We listened to the guys playing music in the upstairs bar and waited for everyone to get back from dinner. 
* hanging out in the lobby for a bit with everyone and then hitting the roulette table with Chris & Becky. I did well but Andy didn't so all in all we left up $30 for the night. It was fun to play though!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

I have gratitude today for...
* having breakfast with A. Kathy & Grandma at The Palms. A. Colleen & U. John joined us towards the end. It was nice to have a real breakfast and fun seeing everyone from the wedding at the restaurant. 
* meeting up with A. Colleen & U. John at Carlito's Sports Bar while they ate their pizza.
* spending most of the day at Althea & Lori's palapa. Grandma came to the beach all day with us and even went in the ocean on a raft. I hope I have her zest for life when I'm 83! Love her! We listened to stories and had vodka & tonics with the fruit punch vodka she bought at the airport while the guys watched football at the bar.
* meeting up with the guys to watch the second half of the Eagles game. Both the Giants and Eagles played like crap but we still had a good time. I had a couple tasty margaritas and wings. Serious detox coming after the holidays.
* meeting up with Chris & Becky and Jim & Mike at Bugalo for Happy Hour. We had the perfect spot in the corner with a view of the water from every seat. I had the chicken satay for dinner. I forgot how good it is there. Later A. Kathy, U. Tony, A. Colleen, U. John, Bobby,  Carol, Althea, Lori and Grandma met us there. We had so much fun listening to the band from Friday night. You could tell everyone was a little less energetic from the last several nights but we still had a blast. We even got up and danced a few times. Aunt Kathy wore the "energy belt" to help her make it through the night. Too funny!
* the buckets of beer Grandma bought us for the night I've dubbed "last night fun".
* goings back to Sopranos one last time with everyone. Uncle Tony's favorite spot!
* meeting up with Lindsay and some of her friends before going to bed for a slice of pizza at the outside bar.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

I have gratitude today for...
* Andy getting up super early (around 4:30am) to get in line for the palapas. It paid off and he got the one right next to the Boytano's.
* another great day on the beach with the same crew. 
* walking around town at lunchtime. We were trying to find somewhere different to eat but there was hardly anything open. We ended up at Scott's Brats, again...I'm going to need to eat a veggie diet for a while after the holidays.
* Facetiming Mom & Dad on the beach. It was pretty cool being able to call them from the beach in Aruba! Everyone got to say hi.
* Brian & Mary's gorgeous beach wedding ceremony. Everyone looked amazing. Her nephew Tommy was the star of the show. He was adorable walking down the aisle in his little suit. 
* a great time at the cocktail hour and reception. Everything was so beautiful. Christopher's and both of Mary's sister's speeches were fantastic. The food was excellent and so were the DJ's. It was one of the most fun weddings we've been to.
* Brian deciding to extend the party and getting the Hyatt to open up one of the ballrooms. The DJs set up and we had another hour of drinks and dancing. So much fun!!
* going to the casino for a little while, and then leaving. I was not doing well watching Andy playing. I hate to see money being lost and I knew it wasn't fun for him having me sit there. So around 1am I decided to go to bed. After a long night of dancing and drinking I was tired. Around 3:30am Andy came up, turned on the lights, and threw money on the bed, saying "I won $700!". It was pretty awesome. I'm glad I decided to leave him alone and have fun with the guys in the casino. :-)

Friday, December 13, 2013

I have gratitude today for...
* sleeping in this morning- we didn't get up until 10:15!
* Scott's Brats for an easy lunch.
* the Boytano's sharing their palapa with us. We spent the day on the beach with Althea, Lori, A. Kathy, A. Colleen, U. John and U. Tony. It was a beautiful day as always. We had a great time talking, laughing and floating in the water. Bobby had a mini bar set up and we had drinks on the beach. 
* going to the restaurant on Pelican Pier for a snack and drink with Jimmy and Mike. Andy & I shared the wings, they were very good. 
* an awesome time on the Kukoo Kunuku. It picked us up from the hotel and drove around for about 15 minutes before dropping us off at Bugalo.
* Brian and Mary's party at Bugalo tonight. It was so beautiful and lots of fun. They brought out food and drinks the whole time. There was a great band playing and all 80+ of us were dancing and singing on the dance floor. It felt like a wedding before the wedding. Most people left when the party officially ended around 8. A. Kathy, U. Tony, Althea & I stayed until closer to 10.
* hanging at the bad after we got back to the Hyatt. While I was doing that Andy won $100 in the casino playing roulette, woohoo.