New Year, New Updates

For the first time in forever, I did not send Christmas cards in 2017. There wasn’t really any reason why I didn’t, other than I just never got around to it. As I get older, I find a desire to simplify my life and not get stressed out over things, especially things that I don’t really want to do. So that includes removing undue pressure to send Christmas cards to 100 of my closest family and friends. (Apparently it also includes eliminating the pressure to blog on a regular basis and after this post you can expect me to go back to my slacker ways).

Since I didn’t send out Christmas cards (and a Christmas letter), let me catch you up on some random family news.

Kelly: Kelly is finishing up her graduate work in psychology. She should have her coursework completed this summer. Next fall she will need to complete an unpaid internship and write her thesis paper. And then, if all goes well, she will get her Master’s degree next December. In the meantime, she’s holding down three jobs: substitute teaching for MSP public schools, nannying for Ollie and working as an AuPair coordinator. Keep up the great work, Kelly! 

Anthony: Anthony found out that he only had two classes to take his last semester (Jan to April, 2019). So by taking one extra class each of the next two semesters, he will be able to graduate early, in December, 2018 (with our luck, it will be the same weekend that Kelly graduates).  He is very excited to move-up his relocation to Hawaii by one whole semester. He’s also informed us that upon graduation, he will be proposing to his Hawaiian girlfriend, Kameko. All-righty then! We can’t wait to meet the future Mrs. Miklas.

Zack: After dropping out of tech college back in September, Zack had a January 1st deadline to 1) be enrolled in tech school/college 2) be working full-time or 3)enlist in the military. He went with Option 2 and just began a new full-time job at a local lumber yard, pulling orders and stocking lumber racks. We are hoping that the boredom and tedium will eventually lead him to Option 3 but for the time-being he is working Monday through Fridays from 7:30am to 4:00pm.

That’s all the latest news of the kids! Happy New Year!

 

 

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My 53rd Birthday

We returned from our cruise on my 53rd birthday. I was so happy to have Kelly and Avram return to our house to spend one more night together before heading back to the tundra of Minnesota. We got in one more afternoon of games.

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Then we ordered Chinese food for dinner but failed to get any photos of that. The kids gave me some cards and chocolates, which was very sweet, especially my hand-made card from Anthony. I think he was trying to make up for the whole dinner-ware fiasco on the cruise ship :).

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Then we ended the evening with a fire in the fire pit.

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Anthony even serenaded us with a song on his ukulele.

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It was a great day to celebrate me!

Formal Nights

Cruise ship formal nights are always a great time for photos! So allow me to share some of my favorites with you now.

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Carl with his new tuxedo which he bought a few months ago since we are cruising veterans now! Since we apparently are avid cruisers (this was Number 6 for us), he figured it was worth the expense.

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Where was Anthony in all these photos, you ask? Several times before the cruise, I asked Anthony if he had clothes to wear for dinner each night. He kept telling me he had it covered. When shopping a few days before departure, I even texted him several casual shirts that I wanted to buy him but he again said he had it covered. And then when we got on the ship and we were all getting ready for dinner, he informed me “I have nothing to wear.” So much for having it covered, Anthony! Arghhhh! (But at least he still came to dinner with us each night, wearing the one Hawaiin shirt that he brought with him.)

 

Fourth Port-of-Call: Costa Maya, Mexico

Our final port-of-call was in Costa Maya, Mexico. For this port, the boys decided to stay on the ship with the grandparents while Carl, Kelly, Avram and I went to see the Mayan ruins of Chacchoben.

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Our bus and tour guide, Hugo, guided us through the countryside and ruins, explaining all about the Mayan culture.

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We got to see several ruins and were able to climb up them as well.

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The highlight of the day, however, was seeing the spider monkeys in the trees surrounding the ruins.

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It was a very interesting and educational day.

Third Port-of-Call: Mohagany Bay, Roatan, Honduras

Our third port-of-call was another new stop for us in Central America in the country of Honduras. For this port, I arranged a snorkeling excursion to the jungle on the east side of the country.

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We had another 45-minute van drive with one other family to the resort. The drive was very interesting to see the poverty of the country and the little gem of a resort hidden among the squalor. Our hostess, Barbara, fell in love with the country about 11 years ago and left corporate America to build her dream in the jungle of Honduras.

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Her property includes a 7-room bed and breakfast and daily kayak and pontoon boat snorkeling excursions among the expansive coral reef. She also hosts yoga retreats in her large yurt hut.

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The day started out overcast and gloomy and we had to wait for a passing shower to head out on the pontoon to the coral reef.

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When it finally cleared enough to head out on the water, we spent about 45-minutes in the water around the coral reef for the best snorkeling we have ever experienced. There was so much living, vibrant reef and a huge variety of fish of every size, shape and color.

My favorite was the lion fish that looked just like this:

Lionfish (Pterois mombasae) in a Moscow Zoo aquarium

After we got back on the boat, it started to rain, making us all cold and miserable. It actually felt better getting back in the water for our second snorkeling location. The second time we got back on the boat was sunny and warm and felt wonderful!

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Barbara served an authentic Honduran lunch in her dining hall/yoga studio before the driver returned us to the port.

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Here are glimpses of our ship in the background.

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Despite some rain, it was a great day snorkeling in this beautiful place!

Second Port-of-Call: Belize City, Belize

Our second port-of-call was a new stop for us in Belize in Central America. For this port, Carl, Kelly, Avram, Zack and I took a private Ziplining and Cave-tubing excursion in the jungle. (Anthony was originally scheduled to go with us but decided it sounded too lame to him but boy did he miss out because it was so much fun!).

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After an hour van drive, we started with our zip-lining adventure.

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After getting suited up, we headed up onto the first platform in the jungle.

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We did five different runs that were super fun and very high over the jungle and river.

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It was way more exciting than we thought it would be and loved every minute, although I personally was scared to death for most of it, especially when I would turn backwards on the zipline and couldn’t see where I was going!

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After a short van drive down to the river, we then began our cave-tubing adventure.

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Although there were many groups in the river, it was just our family, plus another mother and son attached together for our trip through the cave.

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Again, it was way cooler than we thought. This was a 45-minute journey through a gigantic tunnel full of interesting formations in complete darkness, except for our head lamps.

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When we emerged from the cave, we then traveled another 20-30 minutes down the river.

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Although we thought we would have plenty of time for this excursion, due to some waiting around, we ended the river excursion with just one-hour to get back to the ship (with a one-hour drive ahead) for the last tender back to the ship. We briefly stopped at the office, where they handed us lunch-to-go (it was supposed to be enjoyed outdoors at a BBQ) and our driver skillfully and speedily got us back to the ship just in time. However, since there were at least 1,000 people in line for the tenders, it turns out we really didn’t have to rush at all and had an hour wait to get back on the ship. Talk about worrying for nothing!

It was a fun day doing something unique that turned out to be way more fun than any of us imagined. So glad we got to enjoy this exciting adventure in Belize!

First Port-of-Call: Cozumel, Mexico

Our first port-of-call, on Christmas Day, was in Cozumel, Mexico. Carl and I arranged a private driver for a 5-hour island tour so the whole family could be together.

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Cresensio drove us through the city and along the west and east coasts, telling us all about Cozumel and answering all of our questions.

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We stopped for lunch at a restaurant right on the water.

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Since the drinking age in Mexico is only 18, Zack was thrilled to enjoy his first legal alcoholic beverage and as a true Russian, he chose a shot of vodka for his inaugural drink.

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In a highly inappropriate and embarrassing Christmas day moment, our waiter served us all free shots of tequila from a male-anatomical vessel.

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Beckoned by the waves, Anthony took a few moments to jump into the bay.

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It was a fun and educational tour of Cozumel and a great way to spend Christmas day together!

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Merry Christmas from Cozumel, Mexico!

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