Monday, 20 April 2015

Windmill Country

I was told that there is just one windmill in Amsterdam city, and to see any real ones, you've got to get out of town. Since we didn't have time to visit any traditional villages, I just figured I wouldn't see one on my visit, and I was OK with that. But on our VERY long bus ride on the way to the flower gardens, I was able to catch a shot from the bus on the way back!

A baby in the Flowers

I made a joke about putting Casio on the grass and taking some photos of him. But in actuallily, he had to have a change of clothes and a new nappy anyway, so Sinead popped him down on the grass. He was so happy in the the grass, and just sat there happily for absolutely ages while I snapped some photos of him. I think they really turned out adorable - and it was great that we ended up with photos just out of coincidence!

All of the flowers!

We went to Amsterdam really for one thing - the flower festival. It is what Amsterdam is famous for - big, beautiful tulips! The big, big festival is at the Keukenhof gardens. We chose the sunniest day of our three days there - so thankfully the sky was super blue and cloud free. We took our little tram to the airport in the morning, and while
I got Starbucks, Josh got in the line for the tickets. The line was quite long, but not too bad. Then, we were told to line up for the bus. And holy camole was that line long. So so long, that it went all the way around the train station for the airport. We had been told it would go fast, but it really didn't!
I think we were in line about an hour or so - maybe longer! We all got very peckish, but at least we could go inside periodically and get a snack! We finally go to the bus, and we were on that bus for SOOOOO long! We really were convinced it was meant to be that long, but on the way back, the bus was only 20 minutes long! Once we arrived, we had no problem getting into the gardens. They were amazing. All tulips, in
all different colours and varieties - it was just amazing to see! It was seriously one of the most beautiful places! There were 7 million tulips there I read online - and it really felt like that! We walked around the whole park, taking tons of pictures, walking around the lake and just exploring. There were a lot of people there too! It was really busy - afterwards we found out that it was one of the busiest weekends they had ever had! We found the most amazing thin Dutch waffles - they were incredible! The lady who made them must have a made a million
a day - they were these little squashed waffles, where she sliced them down the middle in two - and slathered them in caramel! They were delicious! We stopped for a while on this patch of grass near the back of this huge park - with less people - we had a beer and some snacks and it was just wonderful to sit there and enjoy. It had really worked out well for us - getting a beautiful sunny day in this park in Amsterdam. Everything worked out in our favour! There was a Japanese garden that we walked through, as well as a windmill to see. It was just a really cool place!

The Magnum Cafe

A girl we are Facebook friends with had recently visited Amsterdam and had gone to the Magnum Cafe too! It is a great place, where you can personalise your Magnum ice cream! I had been to one with Sophie in Thailand, where it was more of an order on a little pad
of paper, and then they bring the ice cream to you. Here, it was a little different. Sinead and I waited in line, while Josh and Casio and Abel went upstairs to sit on the giant Magnum bean bags! We chose out chocolate, and then all the toppings, and it was wonderful! Mine was dark chocolate, and speculous cookies and nougat!

Baby Casio

We had such a good time with Abel and Sinead and Casio in Amsterdam. What was so nice about it, was that it was so relaxing. One night, Sinead made us really nice tortellini and pesto one night, and every morning we got up and made toasts and jam, and these really nice
Dutch sprinkles that go on them too! We got to spend a lot of time with baby Casio too - he is so adorable and I really enjoyed hanging around a baby! He is a very mellow baby too! It was nice in the mornings to just chill out in this awesome apartmenet we had, all together, chatting about Japan, and singing songs about the little iPhone we bought Casio to play with!


We love our friends Abel and Sinead so much! They live in Ireland, which isn't too far away, so we try and see them as often as we can. We were so lucky to have them travel all the way to Florida to read at our wedding. It was great to have them there - but we really didn't get to spend
too much time with them, so only a week after our Michigan wedding we planned to meet them in Amsterdam. I had forgotten how recently I had been in Schipol ( at ESTEC) but we met them there, and travelled to our amazing air B and B which was super modern!
We got there quite late the first night, so in the morning, we sent the boys out to get some breakfast food and we had a really relaxed morning. Because we all got up so early, we were up and ready by nine o'clock! We wandered around all the canals, and checked out all around the city. It was great to explore it all, and take the tram to some of the famous spots. But mainly, we just walked around and had a great time!

Saturday, 11 April 2015

I finally got my Sparklers!

The Powell Crosley was a lovely venue, but they didnt allow sparklers, or balloons, or confetti, or anything - so in the end we just left in our limo after a final song (which was lovely!) But in Michigan, we had sparklers! And everyone lined up and they were amazing! We took a million photos and it was just so perfect! Apart from we didn't end up leaving for another few hours! But it was worth it for the awesome photos! We left a little later, after our photographer, and stayed in a cute little hotel, where Josh's mom had brought us a wedding quilt and lots of yummy candy!

Our beautiful Michigan Wedding!

We spent all day Friday setting up the wedding. It was a lot of work in the end - arranging all the tables, setting up all the plates and wrapping the cutlery in cute twine and all the mason jars for glasses. It was so nice to see it all come together - the s'mores pit, the candy bar, the popcorn bar and everything. It had been raining a little on Friday, so Daddy even went out and got wood chips to soak up all the water. It was looking really great - and then people started to arrive! We went inside and hid inside for a little while,
and then came in and had a mini ceremony. I wasn't nervous this time - it was just fun - and my Aunt did a great job officiating! Afterwards, we had a really great BBQ dinner - beans and cornbread and cheesy potatoes and Uncle Bart smoked a whole pig, for pulled pork sandwiches! It was so yummy!

We then went with our photographer out on the golf cart, with my cousin Kyle driving, and my cousin Carly for backup. It was a great time - we had gone out scouting places for photos the day before - there weren't any nice green trees - but there was this beautiful tall willow grass around the pond. I really hadn't imagined having photos not with trees, but holy camoley - these photos came out awesome! We took tons of photos, and came back to our reception and had a great time visiting with the family and friends who hadn't been able to visit Florida. We had all of our family photos taken right outside the barn, by the wood pile. I had the dads take the cover off of it on a whim, and it turned out to be a great place for photos. I LOVE that my family put so much effort into having two outfits, the green and the tweed just went so great together!

Setting up our Michigan Wedding

We left Mexico and headed to Michigan. It may seem odd, but we were having a second wedding! Yep, a whole second wedding! We got there on Thursday night, quite late. Rachel picked us up at the airport, with this little newlyweds sign, and we headed north. We had gotten there quite late on the Thursday,
at least to my grandmas, but my mum and sister and cousins and aunts had been working really hard for a few days, getting Uncle Bart's barn ready for the wedding. We dropped our bags off, at Grandma and Papa's, and drove over to the barn, taking Rachel, as she didn't know her way. It was the foggiest
I had ever seen the way, and we got lost too! But we made it. Everyone was inside the barn - they had all the tables and chairs set up - and it looked AMAZING! My aunt had done such an amazing job! She had all the tables set up, with these green books she had found at an antique shop and she had cut
all these logs and trees and cored out the middle of them for candles. With them, and all the elephant moss and all the little antique deer Mummy had brought all the way from England. It was just adorable, and so, so perfect. So different than our Florida wedding too!

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

The most beautiful place to Snorkle

After we pulled up in this inlet and looped our boats together, I was a bit worried about getting into the water to snorkle, because it was so cold. But it was fine, once we got in there. While all the other boats occupants went snorkeling all over, we asked our guide to take us to see some beautiful coral. It was so pretty there,
and we got to see tons of fish. We had snorkled three times in Mexico, once above Josh'scuba team, once after riding our horses, and this time. The sea was so beautiful and clear here! We had a great time and it was the perfect ending to our trip in Mexico!

Our own Mouse Boat

We had a lovely time at our resort, and Josh went scuba diving one day too. We swam a lot in the lazy river, and we had the most amazing balcony at our upgraded suite, with our own pool and huge sunloungers. But eventually, we came to our last day in Mexico. So we planned to go
on what was to be the best excursion - the mouse boats. I'm not sure if that is what they are called, but they look like little tiny, personal boats. We had to go right down into Cancun to get to the place that was running it. We got our little lifejackets, and then followed the lead boat all the way along these little rivers in the mangroves. It looked just like Florida actually! We did a lot of fast open water stunts, and went on this super long boat ride. I really enjoyed just riding along, the wind in my hair, taking some pictures, and Josh really
enjoyed driving the boat. I think it was the perfect sized boat for us - it had a little tiny backseat for all our stuff, and our snorkle gear and two little seats for us! Our guide led us all the way to this lovely inlet, where there was one hotel. We looped up all of our boats together and jumped into the water for some snorkeling time!

Monday, 6 April 2015

Kayaking in the Sea

We chose our resort for all of the things involved and included for free. One of them were the kayaks. I love kayaking, ever since I did it on our sixth grade field trip. We went out kayaking a couple times while we were there - especially because we couldn't really go very far with the waves! It was a great chance
for us to test out our Go Pro too! It was so nice to see how bright and vivid everything was! I especially loved our adorable matching life vests!

Our little Catermaran

One of the things included in our hotel was the ability to use the catermarans on the sea. Since I know nothing about sailing, Josh gave it a go! We did OK at the beginning, and had a good try at it, but eventually we ended up stuck along the swimming area! Oh well, either way, we really had a great time!

One off my bucket list: Horse Riding along the Beach

One of the things I was most excited to do in Mexico was go horseriding along the beach. I dont know why, it has just been on my bucketlist. It didn't even have to be in Mexico - just on a horse and a beach! Our hotel arranged everything for us, so after we had been there a few days, one morning we got picked up by a little van and driven - so long! It seemed to go on forever, but we picked up a few other guests from hotels. Eventually we got to this place - it was very touristy, but kind of in a jungle.
I dont know how to describe it - but we got onto this little pickup truck - where we all sat in the back. It was way too unsafe - but so very Mexican. It took us to this corral with a whole bunch of horses. We got helmets and headed off with our guide. I have to say, we weren't terribly well dressed for it -
shorts and sandals, but we made do! We followed our guide into the forest, and then along the beach. It was so beautiful, and deserted too! Eventually we rode all the way along this inlet, where we came to this little beach hut. We were met by this lady who took us out on this big loop
snorkelling - so we could see all the coral and such. Then it was back onto our horses and along the beach. It was such a lovely ride, even though my horse was a little dopey! I still really enjoyed it - and our guide took adorable photos of us!

Our beach!

While our resort was quite far from the airport, it was right along the beach. It was a super lovely five star, all inclusive reso. We chose one with tons of things to do too! The first day we got there, we explored a little of the resort and headed down to the beach. We had our own beach for the hotel - with lots of lovely beach loungers and palm trees. I'm not too good at relaxing at the beach, but I did do ok relaxing for a while!

Saturday, 4 April 2015

A nice relaxing morning

After we left our wedding, we went by limo to our hotel. It wasn't very far away, but it was enough time to take my shoes off! We walked into the hotel, my dress all picked up and no shoes on! But we were so happy to just be in the quiet and just alone. Our wedding planner
had packed us three slices of wedding cake. They were amazing! I wish we had had six pieces, but oh well! In the morning, we had really yummy waffles on the bed, and then headed out to Marina. I have wanted to visit there since we started going to Bradenton, but we never got a chance. So we walked around Sarasota marina in the sunlight, walking among the boats, and along this pretty path looking over the harbour. It was so relaxing, and then we headed over to each of our parents houses, before heading to the airport for our honeymoon in Mexico!

Friday, 3 April 2015

Our beautiful Reception

After we had the ceremony, we took so many photos. It was quite warm in the sun, so after that, it was nice to be able to go back inside where the air conditioning was. We were able to have a few moments inside, before being announced to everyone who was waiting. They had all been enjoying our
yummy canapes and the bar, so they were all excited to see us. We came out and they announced us as Mr and Mrs Small - which was super cute! I think the weird thing about weddings is that right then, you do the first dance - so even though it was fully sunny out, we danced! To Ed Sheeran's "Thinking out loud".
It's such a cute song, but it was a little hard to dance in my dress! We had such a nice dance though - very different than practicing in our hallway! We danced, then we had our photographers take all our guests and arrange them in a heart. At the time, it seemed to take so, so long to arrange them -
but the end shot was AMAZING! Then we got to sit down for our dinner. My dad gave a really lovely speech, David gave his best man speech, and then Shelby gave the most heartwrenching speech you ever could have heard. It was so lovely - and she did so beautifully. Ms Halsall-Williams, our speech teacher would have been so proud of her - she made it, even with tears. It was so hard not to full on sob! I was so excited about the dinner - and the steak was literally the best thing I have ever tasted in my life! It was so yummy.
I was a little nervous about eating that I didn't finish it all - so Josh got some! It was so nice to see all our hard work - all those beautiful tablecloths I ordered from China, all the pretty vintage furniture Mummy had ordered, and all the amazing flowers, the glittery table numbers - it was just perfect -
with all these lights over our heads. It was really exactly as I had pictured it. After dinner, Josh and I moved around while everyone ate, and chatted to everyone. It had really helped that we had done a lot of the chatting and meet and greet the night before at the rehersal. It was nice to catch up
with all our friends who we hadn't seen in so long! Then, Daddy and I danced, and I cried the whole way through! The whole way through! Daddy laughed a lot and tried to hold it together though! Then Josh danced with his Mummy and that was lovely. But then, THE CAKE! I loved how beautiful our cakes were - mainly because we had 3 of them! Three! But they were great! We cut the cake with a katana - a samurai sword! Everyone really loved it! After the cake - we danced - all night! It was great! Lots of good music and dancing! It was great fun! And about 11pm, our limo came - and we headed out!

We finally are married. MARRIED!

It's funny - we had been waiting for this moment for months and months and months - years actually - but I was really really nervous. The music I chose to walk down the aisle to was a beautiful piano rendition of Christina Peri's "A thousand years" - which is something
I am still glad (only one month later) that I chose! But it was a really long time for people to get seated, and everyone of the girls to walk in slowly and take their place. I was hiding up above, on the balcony - and having a good time just sneaking a peak at everyone waiting. I have to say, I prayed and paced a lot up in that corridor. I was mainly worried about falling down the stairs in my beautiful shoes! But then, Alexis, our wedding planner, came to make sure I went on time - I was so nervous - but then I took this big breath
and just went for it. And I am sure I shook the whole time - but I remembered to have a big smile on my face. I don't think I breathed again until I was up with Josh. We had such a beautiful ceremony - most of which I don't remember really. We hired Wiley Lowe to be officiant -
and actually that was one of those decisions where I was just so glad we bit the bullet and hired someone. Everyone raved about Wiley afterwards - I had actually seen him in a YouTube video and known that was who I wanted to marry us! We had our friends Abel and Sinead do a reading - and then George and Mary did one. It was great to have them in the wedding with us. I cried a lot the whole time, but I managed to get through my "I do" without my voice shaking too much! And then, the glass was broken, and the music came on, and we walked down the aisle ( with poor Shelby trying to rescue my veil!) and then - it's like all my worries faded away - because we were finally married!

Surrounded by our family and friends

We got married! The ceremony was lovely - and I was so much more relaxed once we had gotten the ceremony out of the way and people weren't looking at me anymore. Once the exit music came on - I started dancing and was so happy! We were finally married - after all this time! So we
headed around the front of the house, and all the groomsmen and bridesmaids followed us around, and we took all sorts of family photos. Ones with our families and grandparents, and brothers and sisters. I liked those photos so much - especially this lovely one of me and my grandma.
We had all the guests in the back having a cocktail hour, and little canapes. Some of the food we chose for the wedding was really great - we had chicken and waffles - and little bang bang shrimp - it was all super yummy! One of the reasons that we chose the Powell Crosley was because the light was so beautiful and amazing. They have these beautiful Banyan trees along the side of the house, which are amazing, and we took the bridesmaids and groomsmen to these trees - and took lots of great pictures.
We took some individually and together and the boys took all sorts of silly photos - I love these boyband photos they took too! Very silly! We then took a couple more photos, and signed our marriage liscence. While we were out taking photos, Abel and Sinead, our JET friends from Ireland, were out with their baby. His mum came and looked after the baby and then took baby Casio home so they could enjoy themselves! While they were out there, we were able to get
our photographer to take a photo of the four of us. It was one of my favourites of the whole day - it wasn't planned or organized - just taken. And we look so happy! I was really pleased how the photos turned out for this - the colours and such. Everyone had been such a good sport and worn colours which went
with the colour scheme - and my mismatched bridesmaid dresses worked out really well! And our grandparents all wore light colours too which went really well together. I was so glad I was fussy about that, because it looked great! After all the photos, we went back into the house to be announced for the reception!