Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas 2012

This year Taylor and I spent Christmas in Florence, SC with the Jamrok clan. Our puppies stayed home, but Atom was able to make the trip with us. She loved camping out under the Christmas tree, and was a big hit during the Christmas Eve party.

Santa must have to make two trips down the Jamrok chimney. I have never in my life seen so many presents under one tree. Opening gifts is an all-day affair!

A picture of one of my favorite gifts we gave KJ. He refuses to move down to Florida, but maybe this key chain will trick his subconscious until he decides Orlando is the place to be!

Even Atom helped open some presents! Silly bunny.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Cancun, Mexico


The McCormick family has traveled to the Crown Paradise Club in Cancun almost every year for at least the last ten years. We normally visit around Thanksgiving, but we decided to shake things up and visit in July for the boy's birthday (which is on the 31st). Last year the Jamrok family joined us, but this time only Taylor and Cameron were with us.

The reason for visiting in the heat of the summer? Swimming with whale sharks! Taylor and I went to Cozumel with Manta Divers--- an American owned and operated company--- on a dive trip last year, and decided to book a whale shark charter trip with them just before we went on our cruise.

We all rented wetsuits and hopped onto a teeny tiny boat and drove about 25 miles away from shore. They made us wear lifevests on the way out, but didn't care if we wore them on the way back in. I guess they guarantee you'll see a whale shark, but after that, you're on your own!

Mom handled the boat ride surprisingly well (things were a bit bumpy!), but poor Kirby was holding on for dear life. We drove for around an hour before we saw the tell-tale signs of sharks. A few other boats, snorkelers, and giant fins. There were at least two whale sharks, but it was a little hard to keep track.


Mom and Dad were the first to jump in the water. Things were pretty chaotic. While they might look slow and graceful, these beasts move pretty fast. We each got to jump in with the sharks three times (except mom, Shaughn, and Kirby, who only went in once), but the first time it was pretty difficult to figure out where to swim, how fast, and when. You either didn't see the shark, or got WAY to close.

By our third swim, we all managed to figure it out. We gave the guide our camera, and he managed to snag a pretty awesome video of my dad and I swimming with one of the animals.

After lunch we visited Isla Mujeres for an authentic Mexican lunch. Our guides whipped up a delicious ceviche---- shrimp, tomato, onion, cilantro, and lime----- while we took a dip in the crystal clear water.

We were so exhausted that night, but it was definitely a memorable experience!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Pups

As I was sorting through all of the old pictures on our camera to create the post about our cruise, I realized how enormous our collection of puppy pictures had grown. They're a huge part of our lives, and I figured they deserve a post of their own. We've had our dogs since January of 2011, and rescued them from the Humane Society. Taylor and I both really wanted a dog before then, but couldn't in our living situation. As soon as we got a house of our own and the parents had helped us move in, we immediately adopted these two. Our original plan was one hypo-allergenic, no-shed, well-behaved goldendoodle puppy. Hah. We decided to visit the Sarasota Humane Society "just to look around", and immediately put down a deposit on these guys.

Zasha, our white-faced, blue-eyed beauty is the younger and smaller of the two (somewhere between 3 and 6 years old we think). She's rambunctious, misbehaved, and incredibly sweet. She was a little chubby when we first got her, but we've slimmed her down a bit. She loves to bark constantly, and will whine like crazy and pretend like you've broken her leg if she even thinks you might scold her. 

I know, I know. You're not allowed to have favorites, right? If we did have a favorite dog, it'd be Zeus. He's the world's best combination of sweet, goofy, gentle, and well-behaved. His only flaw is his tendency to cry during thunderstorms, or if he thinks he's being left behind somewhere. He's a bit older than Zasha--- probably 8 or 9 years old. 

Another difference? Zasha loves to swim, and Zeus is terrified of water. He doesn't mind really calm water up to his ankles, but any splashes or waves, and he pulls on his leash in the oppposite direction. He never goes in past his knees. 

Zasha on the other hand would probably swim until she drowned, if we'd let her. One time she went off into the lake behind the house and had to be rescued by a boater when she swam so far that we couldn't see her---- just the ripples and she continued to doggie-paddle away from us. She'll pull us around in kayaks or canoes, and loves chasing splashes when we throw rocks or shells at the beach.

We love our pooches and couldn't imagine our life without them---- through there would be much less hair. Did I mention that huskies shed?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Mediterranean Cruise

The day after my graduation, Taylor and I left for Rome running on about two hours of sleep. We bundled up on the airplane and slept clear across the Atlantic Ocean.

We had a day to play around in Rome before heading to Civitivecchia to leave on our 12-day cruise. We visited all of the main sights, and had a delicious dinner near the Trevi Fountain.

I enjoyed veal with lemon sauce, Taylor had veal with a creamy apple sauce, and we both shared a few glasses of the house white wine (some of the best I've ever had).

Our hotel was a steal. We flew over without having any reservations, so we spent the first hour of our trip hunting down a hotel. We stayed at a tiny four star hotel near the train station. The room we stayed in was usually 380 Euros a night, but because it wasn't booked and we showed up at the last minute, we only payed 120. What a deal.

Of course, you can't leave Rome without having some gelato. Taylor was a big fan of the Nutella flavor, but I prefer lemon.

The next day we actually boarded the ship. The Royal Caribbean Mariner of the Seas was a wonderful ship. We got to try our hands at rock climbing, ice skating, and loved the cafe where we snacked on ham and cheese sandwiches. 

Taylor splurged for the room with a balcony. We loved eating our sushi and cheese watching the scenery go by.

The views were gorgeous. Because we were near land most of the time, there were always interesting things to see. 

The sunsets were gorgeous, and Taylor spied this little fort as we pulled out of one of the ports. 

Our first stop was in Palermo, Sicily. Our favorite part of this stop was the food markets.

There were huge tuna everywhere, and people hacking at them with giant cleavers. 

 They also sold snails by the scoop, as they climbed all over one another in plastic milk crates. 

After Italy, we headed to Rhodes, a little island off the coast of Greece. I was feeling really sick (I think I caught the flu), so Taylor had to drag me around the city. This little cat sleeping on a scooter cheered me up.

The old town was amazing. There were Byzantine forts scattered among a sprawling shopping area. 

Taylor and I tried to keep in touch with family, visiting wi-fi cafes to send emails. Every cafe's password was number based, and probably would have been easy to guess (1234567890 and 0987654321 were pretty common).

Next stop, Athens. This was probably our least-favorite stop on the trip. Seeing the Acropolis was pretty cool, but the city itself was dirty and full of graffiti. 

After Greece, we went to Turkey. Istanbul was probably our favorite city we visited. Of course we had to go see the Blue Mosque. Taylor and I had never been in a mosque before, so it was a pretty neat experience. 

The interiors were pretty bare compared to the Roman churches, but the architecture was pretty cool. 


Turns out we committed a bunch of social faux pas' during our travels. Apprently it's rude to carry your shoes into a mosque (they prefer you place them in a bag first), or blow your nose (not good if you're recovering from the flue).

We also visited the Topkapi Palace, Grand Bazaar, and Spice Market. At the spice market, they had huge jars of leeches for sale, which was interesting to see. 

After two days in Istanbul, we headed to Kusadasi. Taylor and I didn't feel like visiting Ephesus, and instead spent the day shopping and sitting in a local cafe.

The Turkish tea was delicious, and the Turkish coffee was sure strong (tasty though). How funny to finish your cup of coffee and have a half cup of coffee grounds at the bottom. 

Then we were back to Greece, where we visited Crete. We rented scooters for the day with two other couples we met on the ship. It was a fun experience, but definitely a little scary. At least I didn't have to worry about driving---- just holding on!

Also, we looked awesome in our helmets.  

Last stop, Naples, where we went on an excursion to visit the Isle of Capri.

We took a chair lift to the very top of the mountain on the island. It took thirteen minutes to get all the way up to the top, and there were lots of breathtaking views on the way up.

We only had fifteen minutes to spend at the top of the mountain before we had to head back down to meet up with our tour group. We also visited the Garden Augustus on the other side of the island and then took a cable car to the marina. 

Our trip was so much fun, and over too soon. 

Monday, April 30, 2012

Pre-Honeymoon Disney Trip

Things were crazy right after our wedding, so Taylor and I opted to postpone our honeymoon until later in the summer. Instead we went to Disney with Taylor's family--- KJ, Joy, Grammy, Kara, Debbie, and Jack. We had a wonderful time visiting The Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, and our personal favorite, Epcot. We somehow timed things to visit during the Flower & Garden Festival, so we enjoyed seeing topiaries shaped like Disney characters.

Taylor and I have always been big Epcot fans, and every time we visit we ride Test Track over and over. We decided to get a memorable souvenir photo and hopped on to ride in our wedding getup. One of my favorite photos ever!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Our Wedding

On March 24, 2012, Taylor and I finally tied the knot. We had a garden wedding courtesy of Susan and Peyton Lea, close friends of the McCormick family. They spent hours upon hours preparing for the main event. Decorating, yardwork, coordinating with caterers--- this whole wedding was pretty DIY, down to the flower arrangements and wedding favors. 

I am an absolute sucker for sunflowers, which fit very will with our rustic garden wedding. We used yard upon yard of burlap, hundreds of mason jars, and just as many candles. 

The weather forecast was not looking good. At our wedding rehearsal, my mom and Susan kept calling me to encourage me to change the time from 5:30 pm to the early afternoon. After realizing how many people would have to be notified, and some family wouldn't be able to make it for the earlier time, we kept the original plans in place. Good thing too---- the weather was absolutely beautiful, except for a small rain shower about an hour before everything was supposed to start. 

My wedding dress was another fiasco. I ordered a custom dress from a company in China. For some reason, it didn't fit well and looked nothing like the original picture. I found a new dress at David's Bridal a week before the event, and Stephanie hemmed it a couple nights before (she stayed up till 1:30 in the morning sewing it, after having spent all day running errands with me---- what an awesome friend!)

Taylor's cousin Jack, and family-friend Emma served as our ring-bearer and flower girl. They did such a good job, I couldn't believe how patiently they waited through the ceremony. 

Mrs. Lea's brother in law, Joe Boatwright, officiated our wedding, with Mr. Lea's help. 

The McCormick-Gast family.

The Jamrok-Keyes family.

We ordered hand-made rings from ZoeandDoyle on They are made from bronze and carbon fiber (what can I say? Taylor is a big car fan, and it matches his carbon fiber watch).

I absolutely loved my dress. I made my veil myself, and added pearl accents to my yellow shoes.

Mom made my cake (like she didn't have enough on her plate getting ready for the wedding). It was a delicious combination of lemon and raspberry with cream cheese frosting. There wasn't a single slice left over.

The younger crowd had a good time decorating our car with paint pens and shaving cream. One of my uncles actually had the car up on jacks, but thankfully someone took it back down before it was time to leave.

Everybody came outside around 11:00 to wish us goodbye. We stayed for two nights at a resort near Downtown Disney before heading to the Wilderness Lodge where we spent time with the Jamrok family.