Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmastime in Cleveland

Wow! The Christmas season never seems to stop! Although Stephen had to work for much of the time, we were still able to celebrate with a lot of our family. It seemed like I was cleaning and hosting for 10 days straight, but it was well worth it and a ton of fun. We are both totally exhausted and look forward to bringing in the New Year!

It all started with a Christmas Ale party on December 18th. A few snacks, Christmas Ale, and great friends is always a recipe for fun! A great time was had by all.

Top Row: Alex, Kevin, Stephen, Elizabeth, Derek, Sean; Bottom Row: Mom, Me, Angie

Liberty and I rocked out as we played Rock Band. We have Ben Wallace and Anderson Varejao wigs on :)

On Christmas Eve, we hosted some of my family and a few friends over for some lasagna, cocktails and games. It was nice and relaxing, not to mention fun! My nephews Joshua & Daniel had a great time opening their gifts (of course!) We also received a call from my brother (Todd) in New York to tell us that he and his new wife (Erin) are expecting a baby. Another Mott is always exciting news!

Here's Joshua in his new throwback LeBron James jersey

Daniel in his Daniel Gibson jersey. It was only appropriate...they're both so tiny and cute AND named Daniel!

Daniel loved opening his new Bat Cave from Grandma & Grandpa

Top Row: Sean, Alex, Me, Stephen, Joshua, Kevin; Bottom Row: Debbie, Rich, Mom, Tracy, Daniel

Christmas Day took us to my brother Travis' house in the morning. We sipped on mimosas as we watched Otto, Hailey and Kristin open their gifts then headed over to my sister Tracy's house for some more food, family and fun with the rest of the group.

Otto Mott in his new Cavs gear

Hailey Elizabeth in her new bathrobe and slippers from Uncle Todd & Aunt Erin

Kristin Marie posing for the picture with her new stuffed dog : )

Joshua with his new LeBron James Witness shirt and iPod.

Daniel with his new Nintendo DS...he is still wearing his Daniel Gibson jersey...and still just as cute!

On December 26th, I hosted my 15-year elementary school reunion. Through email, facebook, and a little bit of stalking, we were able to track down almost all of the 21 graduates from the St. James class of 1993 - 14 of them showed up for the big party. It was very nostalgic and so much fun. I was so happy that I decided to have it at our house as it allowed for a more intimate setting where we could talk, laugh and look at some old pictures and yearbooks.

Paul and Sue arrived on the 27th and we were able to celebrate Christmas with them. Great food and conversation took up most of our time, but the biggest surprise of the weekend was when we opened our Christmas gift...hotel accommodations and 2 tickets to the 2009 Men's NCAA Final Four in Detroit...something that Stephen and I have had on our "Wish List" for as long as we've known each other (and longer!) We're still in total shock and can't even fathom, shall I say it, if UConn actually makes it this year. More importantly, we're really looking forward to sharing the experience together : )

Finally, on the 28th, Sean, Alex and I took my nephew Joshua to see Dwayne Wade and the Miami Heat face off against LeBron James and the Cavaliers. We took him to dinner and then to the game as a gift for his 11th birthday. LeBron and Wade had 33 and 29 points respectively and the Cavs won 93-86 to bring their home record to 16-0 and 26-4 overall. This has been a very exciting year for Cavs fans.

Alex, Shannon, Joshua & Sean pose for the camera before the big game!

Joshua & Sean at the game

A view from our seats. Thanks Steve!

Shannon, Joshua & Sean pose for a picture as we head out. It was a great game!

It has been a very busy few weeks and we are desperately looking forward to ringing in the New Year with a little rest and relaxation.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Thanksgiving Weekend

The long weekend started with a Thanksgiving brunch. Steve and I were joined by Sean, Alex, Mom & Rich. Although we spent the holiday with only a small part of our family, we are very THANKFUL for each and every one of them! This particular day was extremely relaxing. We sipped on mimosas and ate some of my cheesy potatoes & an egg casserole made by Sean & Alex. We continued the day in typical Thanksgiving fashion as we watched a lot of football.

We finished off the evening with a fantastic Thanksgiving meal...Although it was just Steve, myself, Mom & Rich., it was absolutely delicious and we had a great time (as always!)

It wasn't complete without my pumpkin trifle! It was really good with plenty of leftovers.

Steve had to work on Friday night, but we were able to find some time to visit my dad after he spent nearly a week in the hospital. He had his gal bladder removed only a few days prior, so we brought him a few seasons of "The Office" and some Sudoku games...that should keep him entertained for a little while.

Later that night, I went to Players on Madison for happy hour with my mom and Rich to celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary. Afterwards, we headed down to The Q for the Cavaliers game and watched as they crushed the Warriors 112-97. This may be the year...we hope! Yes, Steve was working but he did make a guest appearance, as promised : )

On Saturday morning, Stephen and I listened to Christmas carols as we put up our Christmas tree. Last year, while Stephen was recovering from his appendectomy, Paul and Sue helped me pick out this amazing pre-lit artificial tree. We bought it at Costco (of course) and I am so pleased with it. This picture attempts to show the view from our couch this, fire and festiveness : )

On Saturday evening, we all enjoyed a few pints of Christmas Ale from our kegerator. We played some games and watched as Sean's Alma mater (St. Ignatius) was crowned state football champs. Yes, it was quite a weekend...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Todd & Erin's Wedding at Sandals Negril ~ Negril, Jamaica

Wow!! What can I say?? From October 21-28, Steve and I vacationed at Sandals Negril in Negril, Jamaica for my brother Todd’s wedding. If you don’t know what a Sandals vacation consists of, let me just say that it is an experience of a lifetime…adults-only, unlimited food, drinks, sun and fun! We had the unique and awesome pleasure of experiencing this vacation with most of my family. We (almost!) always have a great time together and this vacation was no different.

Prior to our arrival we upgraded to an ocean view beachfront concierge room which offered us an amazing view along with a balcony, in-room bar, and 24-hour room service. Although we didn’t take advantage of the bar or room service often, the view from our room was breathtaking and worth the upgrade.

Steve and I were alone for the first two days of our stay and really just relaxed on the beach and tried to take in the overall ambiance and lay-out of the resort. Once Thursday rolled around, everyone else arrived and it was time to really get the party started. After dinner, Steve and I showed my mom, Rich, Sean and Alex the lay of the land.

Here's Alex, mom and Steve at the bon fire. We just hung out, talked and laughed for a little bit before heading to the Sundowner bar for a nightcap.

Several water sports are also included so we tried the Aquatrikes and Snorkeling. Here's my mom and Rich...They struggled a little bit because she couldn't reach the pedals. You could hear them laughing and whining from the start...They were back in a hurry!

My dad and I fared a little better...It's probably because of the 1/4 inch that I tower over my mother. We even had the energy to wave to the camera!

There was a snorkeling boat that went out four times a day. While mom & Rich went in the morning, Steve, Alex an I went on the 3:00 trip. Todd gave us a tip to bring a piece of bread to attract the fish. Alex and I kind of freaked out when Steve threw the first piece because they literally attacked him. Luckily they were itty bitty and really caused no harm.

This is a view of part of the resort on our return from snorkeling.

Located on the Western tip of Jamaica, Negril offers great sunsets. We took many, many sunset photos, but here are a few of the better pics.

On Friday night, Todd & Erin hosted a bon fire on the Sandals property. It was a great time and we laughed a lot. There was a lot of story-telling going on and I guess you can say “what happens in Jamaica stays in Jamaica.” These stories were not for the faint of heart : )

It was a really nice set-up. Lots of chairs, toasted marshmallows, good company and a bar. What else could you ask for?

Sean, Alex, Shannon and Steve

Tracy, Todd and Mom

Saturday was the day of the wedding and the rain parted just before the ceremony. There were six other weddings going on throughout the day. It is amazing to see the Sandals staff coordinate the timing of everything. Some couples were married with just two in attendance, while Todd & Erin had 30 people. Just before the ceremony, we all posed for a few family photos.

Shannon, Sean, Dad and Tracy

Shannon, Steve, Alex and Sean

Prior to the big event, several of us shared some drinks in Todd’s room as he was getting ready. Here is a picture of my sister Tracy and I…one of the few where we both have our eyes open : )

Todd & Erin had a beautiful ceremony with a Jamaican steel drum band playing in a neighboring gazebo. If the beauty of our surroundings didn't remind us that we were in Jamaica, the music sure did.

After announcing the new Mr. and Mrs. Mott, Erin and Todd released butterflies from a small box. The pictures don’t capture how cool it was, but it was something that I had never seen before. It was something new and different…just like this wedding. It was awesome.

Although we spent most of our time on the beach, the main pool was always busy. It was a little too active for us during the day, but it got more quiet at night.

There were five bars on the property. This is my mom, Erin and I at the pool bar, complete with bar stools in the water.

Another benefit to being a Sandals guest is that you're able to “Stay at 1 and Play at 7” because when you stay at any one of the Sandals resorts in Jamaica, you can take advantage of full exchange privileges at all 7 Sandals and Beaches resorts. Unfortunately, there weren't any Sandals resorts within walking distance, but there were two Beaches resorts nearby. Beaches offers many of the same amenities as Sandals, but in a family friendly environment. One day, we walked to the nearby Beaches Sandy Bay with my mom and Rich. It was only a five minute walk, but we didn't stay long and were reminded as to why we decided to stay at an adults-only resort : ) Here is Stephen relaxing in one of their hammocks.

There were six restaurants on site and Steve and I ate at every one of them. Kimono's was our favorite, which had teppanyaki-style dining. It had great food and a great atmosphere. We were joined by my Mom, Rich, Sean & Alex.

On our last night Mom, Rich, Steve and I visited the 4 C's restaurant. It is an Italian restaurant where you can create your own pasta. The location of this restaurant is really charming as it juts directly out over the sand and almost into the water itself.

Also on our last night was a huge beach party. There was an enormous buffet on the beach with ice sculptures and the usual appetizer, entree and dessert spread. There was a dance competition and some great people watching. Here is a picture of my mom, Todd and I. We were dreading this last night and definitely didn't want to leave.

We returned home safely, but our bodies had some difficulty adjusting from 90 degree to 40 degree weather...let alone going back to work!! As usual, we had an amazing vacation and can't wait to do it again.

Next stop...???...Shannon's 30th Birthday...July, 2009