A new year we will never forget

Ringing in the new year was different this year than others, and I’m not just talking about the fact we had 30 people in our family on a cruise ship in the Caribbean. This difference was apparent if you watched my wife after the new year rang and you could see the most joyful smile imaginable accompanied by tears streaming down her face. She wasn’t the only one in the family doing this. I just smiled at her and her sister, as I felt similarly. The thankfulness that we all have to God for the miracle of our Dad/Papa/Husband/Friend/Brother being with us still, and having not only escaped death earlier this year, but for him to be thriving fills us with gratefulness and appreciation. The power of our families unified gratitude echoed throughout the entire Caribbean.

Here’s just some of the amazing things that we experienced through my perspective (warning these may not make sense if you weren’t there and may confuse you a lot):

●  I was granted co-celeb with my wife as she gained popularity from her lip sync battle prowess and I gained recognition as “the pole”. 

●  We kissed stingrays in Grand Cayman ( They tasted fishier than I expected )

●  One of my favorite moments was floating on my back in the middle of the Caribbean. During that time I reflected upon just how thankful I am for my family/kids, and my wife’s entire family. ( They are equal mixes of integrity and ridiculousness which is exactly my cup of tea ) I also took a moment to be thankful for my Grandpa doing well after breaking his hip recently.

●  We paddled down the great river in Jamaica which had the coolest sounds of wind traveling through the trees and most of us stopped to rope swing along the way ( Shout out to my niece Genesis for charging that rope swing with no fear )

●  We danced so hard on New Year’s Eve I fell down 3 times

●  We had conversations over ice cream late into the night and guarded the ice cream machine from late night mischievous teenagers ( One may have been yelled at )

●  We searched for Hank ( If you don’t get this joke then ask Det )

●  I was awarded a bottle of Champagne for my Catwalk sexiness  ( To my surprise I looked much sexier in my head than on video )

●  I got to meet more of LeAnna’s awesome family, and a couple of them got engaged! ( Congratulations to Josh and Chelsea!)

●  I discovered that strawberry Daiquiris are perhaps the best tasting thing on Earth ( You’re welcome Jim )

●  Young love flourished within our group ( I wont’ say who - Brandon and Dan, errr I mean Felisha )

●  I smiled as my wife complemented random strangers everywhere we went (nothing I’m not used to, but it’s just one of my favorite things and happens more frequently on a cruise)

●  We had authentic Mexican food at a private beach where we got to swim and party! I got to compete in a water balloon competition with my father-in-law. 

●  I threw Margarita’s carelessly in the air and caught them with my mouth ( This was supposed to be a group activity but it’s cool )

●  Brandon and I got super close due to an overzealous photographer who had me lay down on top of him for a couples photograph. He giggled profusely.

●  We were asked to go on stage as back-up dancers to “Beat It” for the person who won the lip sync battle!

●  We snorkeled until our legs hurt and saw some awesome fish and a stingray submerged in the sand below.

●  I showed off my Greased Lightning dance moves ( This unexpectedly played on 80’s night and LeAnna jumped up on a chair so she could see me over everyone and she was smiling so big I’ll never forget! )

●  We enjoyed elegant dinners together most nights, but the waiter looked at me like I was crazy when I asked for the “secret off-menu items”.

●  We played some epic games of corn hole ( Once known as Faba Baga) in the windiest spot on the ship.

●  The sounds of screaming could be heard clear across the ship whenever DeAnna would win $25+ at the casino. In fact I could basically tell if she was in the casino or not by just listening for 10 seconds.

●  We got to learn “The Jim Dance” this trip. ( Ask him to show you sometime.)

●  We danced almost everywhere we went ( Especially LeAnna because as Mike pointed out “LeAnna IS music”)

●  We hot tubbed until we got kicked out.

●  We did some pretty crazy Conga lines and I saved Det from a “vibe” encounter. 

●  People gravitated towards our family like magnets as they always do. ( Or they looked at us like we were bat sh*t crazy )

●  I was reminded just how much I love my freaking wife. I know it’s cheesy, but how she just LIVES her best life all the time is contagious and she’s contributed in so many ways to the person that I have become. 

●  And probably best of all, we laughed until our chins almost fell off every single night. If you want a sure way to laugh open your jaw as wide as you possibly can and start laughing. ( A trick my cousins and I would do growing up ) One of the cruise employee’s had the honor of encountering our family when we were full force laughing at this and he had the most hilarious look on his face as he smiled and backed away.

So thankful for this vacation full of awesome memories, and to celebrate the miracles we experienced this year,


© Ryan Arneson Photography
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