Non-Traditional Christmas | Curaçao, Netherland Antilles

This year hubby had to work over Christmas. Fortunately, his work took him to the Caribbean. The boys and I flew down for a week over Christmas. It was their first time to fly and they loved it! All things considered: healing arm, 4 and 6 year olds, 2 to 1 kid-parent ratio, getting up at 3:00am to go to the airport, etc. It was actually a good trip. I had been to Curaçao three years ago to visit Michael without the boys, so I had an idea of what to expect. Hotel life with kiddos is interesting though. It can be a little too close for comfort at times, but we spent most of our time at the pool, beach or sight-seeing. The weather was great for me, hot for Michael. 🙂 The water was a little rough the first few days, so we stayed in the pool or on the beach. After it calmed down, I was able to get in a Christmas morning snorkel. Now that’s a Christmas tradition I would like to keep going! We tried unsuccessfully to build a “sandman” instead of a “snowman.” It was a little odd being at the beach at Christmastime, but there were signs of the season all around.

On one of our outings we toured some of the local beaches and went to the National Park. The park was on the north end of the island where the are no beaches, just rocky cliffs being pounded by waves. There was one spot called the “Pistol” where the waves exploded out of a inset in the rocks. The boys were quite impressed with the huge bursts of water. For lunch that day we went to a local fav, Jaanchies. Most places are open air and Jaanchies was no exception. After we ordered our meal, I heard some chopping noises coming from out back. I jokingly told Michael that they were chopping up our food fresh for us. It was no joke. The dude was back behind a low fence with a hatchet going to town on chicken and iguana. Yes, they eat iguana here. We wanted to try some, but didn’t feel like ordering an entire meal of lizard. Apparently they taste like chicken (go figure) but you have to be careful of all the bones. yum.

The next day we took the boys to the Sea Aquarium and the town of Willemstad. It’s fun to go to attractions like that in other countries. Americans are so afraid of getting sued that you can hardly touch an animal without signing you life away. In Curaçao, you can feed a nurse shark, hang out in the same enclosure as flamingos and get just a few feet from a sea lion. Trevor was not about to get close to the shark. Crawford was all about it. It was pretty cool to watch and hear. The shark sucks the food off the pole with such force it’s easily audible. You can also swim with the dolphins here, but we aren’t quite to that stage yet with the boys. Maybe next time. 🙂

After the Sea Aquarium, we went to downtown Willemstad. The city is famous for it’s bright, multi-colored buildings along the canal. Willemstad is also home to a very unique bridge. It is a floating bridge on dozens of pontoons. It’s hilarious to watch everyone sway back and forth in unison as they walk across. There are quite a few local craft markets, so we hit one up and then checked out the floating farmer’s market along the canal. The boys got some little trinkets to remember the trip: a drum and recorded, much to my ears’ discomfort. One of the cool things about traveling with the guard is that they go to the same places over and over, so you begin to meet the local people. We were served by at a cafe here by the same guy as three years ago. Robbie even gave the kiddos free ice cream. 🙂

We even made some friends this trip. Nan and her fam were from New Jersey on vacation in Curaçao. When you have a large professional camera, you tend to stick out. I saw Nan shooting with a nice Nikon at the pool the first night and we started chatting. She has her own business in NJ. Our kids got along great and the hubbies too. We made arrangements to trade off family pics later on in the week. I had brought a small light stand and tripod for a sunset pic. It made things so much easier just to have someone else click the shutter for me. (and someone that doesn’t look at my camera like it’s cosmic, or wants to steal it, lol) Now we both have nice family shots! yay!

So, long story long…We had a great time and are so thankful that we were able to be together over the holidays. So many military families are apart during this time and we are so grateful for their service and sacrifice.

2009 was a strange year for our family. It really was a roller coaster. UP: Disney trip!   DOWN: bit by a dog the day before my 10 year wedding anniversary while hubby is away. UP: Germany trip! DOWN: Michael deployed for 40 days. UP: shooting a beautiful beach wedding and time without kiddos  DOWN: shattered elbow on first bike ride with hubs. UP: God heals! I was able to fly with two kiddos solo, so we could make memories to last a lifetime.

I plan on ending 2009 on the UP side! I know that storms will come, I just pray for all of us that 2010 will bring showers instead tornadoes! Just like in nature, I believe that all the storms we all have gone through this past year, will only make us grow and thrive.

Wishing you all only showers of blessing in the coming year!!!

Leigh Ann - December 31, 2009 - 8:51 pm

Take us with you next time. This is an incredible blog entry. Great perspective on this past year. I love your animoto video with the fun music and gorgeous pics. Also. UP: Cousins that looooovvveee you all.

Kristin Van Gerpen - January 6, 2010 - 5:01 pm

Sounds like you and the family had a fantastic time! Your pictures are fantastic! Thanks again for our great family pictures! We LOVE them!

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