This trip was a trip of firsts for not only Geoff and me, but also the girls. They had never been on a cruise ship (or any boat even remotely approaching the size of this!), and the only time Isabelle has been out of the country was a trip to Canada when she was 9 months old.
Lorelei is happy wherever she is. Whether it's in the bathroom, singing to her feet, or swaying and dancing on the Lido deck of the Carnival Imagination.
Isabelle is a tougher nut to crack. Her budding personality tends to the suspicious side, content to stand back and approach new experiences on her own timetable. I have been walking a fine line of parenting: Letting her do things at her own pace, and recognizing when she needs a push towards something she will love, if she only lets herself go.
I have been watching her mature and grow this year, and it seems faster than it has ever been. She is becoming the person she will be as an adult, and it has left a permanent lump in my throat.
I have a treasure trove of photos of my sweet, leggy girl, so it was tough to decide what to include on this post.
The one day we were on the island, Isabelle and I signed up for a snorkeling excursion. Isabelle wants desperately to be a marine biologist when she grows up, so I jumped on the chance for her to swim among marine wildlife.
This is why I didn't bird at all while we were on land. I took one for the team. :)
You will notice that most of these photos do not show her face. She has an issue with getting her picture taken, so I am forced to be sneaky.
As we waited for the ship in Miami, Isabelle found a spot at the pier to penetrate with her eyes, searching for fish to identify.
The more she stood there, the more comfortable she became, and her body language followed suit.
We waited for the snorkeling excursion to start, and Isabelle focused intensely on the turquoise waters of the bay.
We arrived on Blackbeard's Cay for the snorkeling trip...and Isabelle nearly fainted from joy when she saw the part of the beach cordoned off for the "Swimming with Stingrays" group. And then got closer to fainting when she saw a school of bright blue needle fish swimming among the stingrays. She dutifully checked them off of her Life Fish List (yes, she actually keeps a List...wonder where she gets that from?).
We snorkeled on the other end of the beach, and though the marine life was very sparse, it was fun anyway. Just being in that perfectly clear water with my amazing daughter was enough for me.
She spent more time staring into the water than actually being in the water. Snorkeling was a challenge for her, so I let her float from place to place, just happy to be there with her.
(And secretly and happily pushing that shutter down, over and over)
Okay. This one makes a sob catch in my throat. I can't even find the words to explain why.
I just can't....I mean, look at her. I made that.
My beautiful, bright, unsure, sweet and funny girl.
I mentioned the stingrays in their own part of the beach. Supposedly behind a ring of fish nets?
While we were snorkeling on the part of the beach that was "non-Stingray", someone yelled out:
Obviously, one had escaped the pen.
We watched them with scared awe (though we didn't have to worry...events like this, cut off the "stinger" on the ends of their tails, so the paying public doesn't end up dead the Crocodile Hunter). But it was unnerving, nonetheless.
At one point, I was happily snorkeling along, when the thing swam right under me.
I like to think of myself as a cool customer, but....well. I think I jumped about 10 feet out of the water. And then got the heck out of the water.
Here's a short video of "Blacky", as Isabelle called him.