4 Years in the Making

It’s not your typical birth story.

There were no 2 happy lines staring back at me from a pregnancy test.

There was no 9 months to prepare for your arrival.

There was no crossing the days off the calendar until we saw your face.

There were no weekly or monthly photos showing my expanding belly.

There were no kicks telling me “Hello, I’m here!”

There was no morning sickness, swollen feet or exhaustion.

There were no interesting food cravings.

There was no cute maternity clothing.

There was no ultrasound photos to share with family and friends.

There was no “Gender Reveal Party.”

There was no wondering whose features you’d have.

There was no birthing class.

There was no baby shower in anticipation of your arrival.

There was no epidural, labor pains or contractions.

There was no bond so close that can only be experienced by an expectant mother.

But here’s what there was:

A yearning so strong for someone we never met.

Years of waiting, praying, tears and hope.

Tons of paperwork, social worker visits, background checks, fingerprints, home studies, profiles, meetings with lawyers and draining bank accounts.

A pain in our hearts that lasted for 4 years.

A test in patience, trust and faith.

Wondering who God had chosen especially for us.

The glimmer of hope when our adoption laywer called.

Utter disbelief and happiness when the birth parents chose us that very same night to be your adoptive parents.

Less than 24 hours to prepare for a new addition to the family!

Our world turning topsy turvy overnight!

Knowing that we had one last night of solid sleep, but being too excited to care!

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Pulling into the hospital parking lot the next day knowing that our lives were about to change forever.

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Knots of anxiety in our stomaches as we walked up to the hospital knowing our boy was waiting for us.

Trying to wake from a dream as we prepped ourselves by washing our hands and arms in the nurse’s station.

Feelings of weightlessness as we walked down the hall into the NICU.

A floodgate of pure bliss when we saw your sweet face and held you in our arms for the very first time.

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An immediate bond that was undeniable!

A mandatory hands-on crash course in caring for a preemie.

A feeling of immense gratitude for 2 very special birth parents who gave us such a precious gift.

Staring in awe as you were carefully placed in your car seat knowing that you were coming home with us.

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The inability to wipe the smile from our faces as we drove you home.

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Finally realizing that there was a reason why it took 4 long years for our dream to come true!

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Knowing that this was all God’s plan, and all those questions we had vanished –
you were made for us!

As your 5 month birthday approaches, I still can’t believe the happy, bubbly little sweetheart you are!

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You have grown so much from the 4lb 15oz preemie you were to a strong, healthy boy!

You bring us so much joy, and I honestly can’t picture our lives without you!

Since then, Sam has been showered with so much love and joy, and he charms the pants off everyone!!!

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All I can say is what a blessing you are Sam!
Your Mommy & Daddy love you!

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Now that’s bliss, baby!

Happy New Year!

Wait, what?

I can’t believe we’re in 2016 already!

2015 just started, didn’t it?

I can’t believe how quickly 2015 has come and gone, and I can’t believe what an AMAZING year it has been!!!

It really is true how life can change in the blink of an eye.

Here are just a few of the highlights from this unforgettable year:

Caribbean Cruise!
If you’ve read my blog, you know I LOVE travel, and part of my travel bucket list was to do a Caribbean Cruise with my husband.

Well, at the beginning of 2015, our travel dreams came true!

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We boarded the Carnival Valor and took to the seas to soak in all of the wonder and breathtaking beauty of the Caribbean!
It ranks right up there as one of my favorite trips!

Check out our adventures here!

Taking the Leap into Wedding Anniversary #5!
My husband and I celebrated our 5th Wedding Anniversary in August.

Ever since we were married in 2010, we talked about doing something fun for our 5th, and we threw around some ideas…you know…like a romantic road trip, or wine tasting…or exiting an airplane and freefalling 13,000 feet above the earth!!!

As our 5th anniversary approached, hubby brought up the idea of skydiving again.

Even though I skydived over 10 years ago in New Zealand, I wasn’t sure if I was daring enough to do it again. I mean, I was younger, single, and taking an “adventure” tour of the island with likeminded people. I went to New Zealand seeking out the thrill of life.

10 years later, I’m still adventurous, but in a different way.  Falling out of an airplane wasn’t really something I needed to do again..but hubby hadn’t experienced the thrill I always raved about.

Well, as the date approached, I decided that life was too short, and this opportunity may not come around again, so after 5 years of wedded bliss, we decided to take the next big step!

Stay tuned for an in-depth review of our thrilling anniversary!

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Home Sweet Home!

At the beginning of summer, my husband and I decided that it was time to start looking for a house. We lived in our 1 bedroom 1 bathroom cozy condo for over 5 years, and it was time to find something a little bigger because we knew that eventually, our adoption dreams would come true, and we would need an extra bedroom.

What an adventure in home buying it was! Who knew it could be so difficult! It seemed like we weren’t the only ones in search of a new home, and these buyers meant business!

Our first offer was on this beautiful home in a perfect neighborhood…it was a dream house!  We made an offer at asking price confident that we would be homeowners soon!

To our dismay, there were several other offers made that were way above the asking price. The owners countered our offer and requested $20,000 MORE than what we offered!

WHAT?!

Talk about rude awakening! Unfortunately, we couldn’t meet their offer, so with a bitter taste in our mouth, we continued looking.

What we soon realized was that if the house was a family trust, then they don’t really care who you are…they just want the biggest and best offer, and that’s that!  Even our “About Us” letters that we sent to the families did nothing in swaying their decision. Every family trust offer we made was outbid by other buyers, and we lost out on all of them. Very disheartening.

The months dragged on, and every weekend was spent with our patient realtor searching for homes – everything from houses in almost perfect condition to houses that were still stuck in the 60’s!

After walking away from a house we made an offer on only to discover the myriad of problems, we came across 2 houses that we knew we couldn’t pass up.

House #1 was in a nice neighborhood across the street from a quaint school and walking distance to a mall. It wasn’t move-in ready and needed lots of work, but we could see ourselves there. And it wasn’t a family trust – bonus!!!

House #2 was a beautiful ranch style home in a quiet neighborhood. It wasn’t located near too many stores, but it was almost ideal in every way. The only thing I didn’t like was that the back fence backed up into an apartment complex.

After waiting anxiously for an answer, our offer on house #1 was accepted, and we happily made the decision that yes, that was our home!

We decided not to wait on an answer for house #2, and in mid November, we officially made this cute house our home!

home sweet home!

 

Boy Oh Boy!

Five days after getting our house and 2 days before Thanksgiving, we got a phone call that we’ve been waiting for for over 4 years…and it changed our lives overnight!

And I mean overnight!!!

Our adoption lawyer informed us that there was a newly born baby boy in the hospital who needed a home…by the next day!

Usually adoptive parents meet with the birth parents a few months before the birth, but in our case, little Samuel had already arrived!

So with much excitement, we met with our lawyer and the birth parents that night, and after a positive, yet emotional evening, the birth parents chose us to be Samuel’s parents!

Early next morning, my mother and I raided Target and filled our carts with everything Samuel needed!

What a thrilling morning it was!

At noon, my husband and I arrived at the hospital, and by 3:00pm, we were holding our new son in our arms!

Talk about a Thanksgiving to remember!!!

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Since November, it has been a nonstop roller coaster of new house renovations, packing and moving into the house, adjusting to instant parenthood, rearranging our lives and finding balance between it all!

Now that everything is falling into place and we’ve adjusted into our new normal, it’s nice to sit down, take a few minutes and just marvel at what an amazing and blessed year it has been!

I look forward to writing about the new adventures ahead: Adventures in parenthood, home ownership, owning my own business, balancing life, and yes, traveling with our bundle of joy!

I hope you join me for this exciting ride into 2016 and beyond!

A Thanksgiving Blessing

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Conceived in our hearts 4 years ago, and brought home with nothing but love.
Welcome to our family Samuel, the greatest blessing of all!

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The last day of our Caribbean cruise was upon us…and so was Valentine’s Day!  

We couldn’t think of a more perfect place to celebrate than on the dual-nation island of St. Martin/St. Maarten!

Half Dutch and half French, there’s no shortage of delicious food to savor, duty-free shops to discover or turquoise water to swim in…
but for us, the order of the day was toes in the sand and drink in the hand! 😉

IMG_6065There was no rushing off the ship for us…
we were in relaxation mode from the beginning.

IMG_6049Our port of call, Philipsburg, on the Dutch side, St. Maarten.

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IMG_6073I love their logo! So colorful, cheerful & fun!

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Upon disembarking the Valor, you can take a water taxi to downtown Philipsburg, or you can do what we did and enjoy a 20 minute walk to the very popular Great Bay Beach.

Brightly colored umbrellas dotted the soft sand while plenty of shops, restaurants and hotels lined the boardwalk.

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IMG_6208If you want an easy day without going too far from the ship, this is it!

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWalking down cobblestone alleyways, there was always something around the corner…like this courthouse…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA…or this quaint Roman Catholic Church, St. Martin of Tours.

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IMG_6202And don’t get me started on the many amazing shopping opportunities!!!

After a fun morning of exploring the island’s Dutch half, St. Maarten, it was time to take our $20 one-way taxi ride to the French side, St. Martin!

On our Caribbean cruise, I experienced many gorgeous beaches, but I must admit, there was one that left my jaw in the sand.

IMG_6193Say “Bonjour” to Orient Bay Beach!

For me, Orient Bay Beach is the quintessential Caribbean beach!

Soft white sand?  Check!
Crystalline turquoise water?  Check!
Bountiful rays?  Check!
Sweeping views all around?  Check!
Nudity?  Check!

That’s right folks, if you forgot your swimsuit (or if you’re in a daring mood)…

you’ve come to the right place!

The right side of the beach is clothing optional!

We opted to remain clothed, but if you want to let the bountiful rays give you a head-to-toe overall glow, pass the short rocky divider (see below) and feel free to roam “au naturale!”  That little divider didn’t do much in keeping those tanned bodies in their section though!  Don’t be surprised if that picturesque photo you’re taking is suddenly photo bombed by a full moon! ;)

IMG_6120Yep, that’s the rocky divider!

There’s lots to do on Orient Beach!

A variety of shops, restaurants and resorts line the 1 mile beach, and a plethora of water activities like parasailing, windsurfing and jet skiing are available for the more adventurous!

If lounging the day away in paradise is more your style (like me!), you can score 2 beach chairs, 2 umbrellas & 2 beverages for $14.00 – not bad!

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IMG_6134Tis the life!

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What I loved the most (aside from the view), was that you can walk out into the water for what seems like an eternity & not worry about the ocean floor dropping out from under you. You can just let the water gently lap over you as you float, wade or swim to your heart’s content.

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With our time in St. Martin coming to a close, we decided to head back to Great Bay Beach and stop at Dirty Sanchez’s for some nachos & refreshing beverages. They allow customers to “graffiti” their names on the wall, so my hubby (Crispin) did the honors…can you spot our names?

IMG_6215With our relaxation mission accomplished, it was time to go back on the ship & enjoy our last night on the Valor.

IMG_6252We decided to have our Valentine’s Day dinner in the main dining hall…and might I add…every dinner we had here was AMAZING!

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Adventurous hubby tried frog legs for the first time..and yes…he’d have them again!

IMG_6257Usually you can select your own dessert, but instead, they created a special Valentine’s Day dessert!

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As the ship pulled away from St. Maarten, we looked back at the wonderful memories we made and promised eachother that this wouldn’t be our last time in the Caribbean!

8 Hours in…St. Kitts

When I think back to our Caribbean cruise,  the day that brings the biggest smile to my face is our visit to St. Kitts!  Not only is it the most diverse of the islands (in my opinion), but our local guide, Royston, provided a fun and interesting first-hand look at this picturesque, history-rich gem of an island!

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Royston was like a ray of sunshine with his friendly personality and pleasant smile. He greeted us just outside the terminal and walked us over to the Royston-mobile (as I like to call it) – a fresh air, windowless van that proved (as we would soon learn) that it could handle any terrain St. Kitts had to offer!  Stocked with ice cold beverages and 2 fun married couples from Utah, we boarded the Royston-mobile eager for the adventure ahead!

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Basseterre

Our tour began with a drive through the charming capital city, Basseterre.

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IMG_5717Built in 1883 and modeled after Piccadilly in London, The Berkeley Memorial is
an ornate clock tower and drinking fountain that sits in the heart of Basseterre.

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IMG_5745The stunning Government House.

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Did you know that St. Kitts has a Veterinarian school called Ross University?
I had no clue that it existed!  And an ocean view too…score!


Around the Island ~ Royston Style!

The thing I think I enjoyed the most was the spontaneity Royston provided on the tour.  We already knew what sights we’d see that day, but Royston added something special to it.  He sprinkled the day with the unexpected…like for instance, taking us to non-touristy spots that he enjoyed as a child…or gathering sugar cane so we could feed donkeys…or driving us right on the beach!  It was moments like those that made his tour better than we could have hoped for!

IMG_5969Royston gathering sugar cane.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFeeding time!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARoyston knew exactly where to take us for superb photo opportunities!

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy hubby found his Jeep twin in St. Kitts on a random cliff overlooking the ocean!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADid I mention Royston was funny?
He pulled a “photo bomb” with the Royston-mobile while I was taking a photo of hubby!

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The Royston-mobile brought us up close & personal to the stunning
beaches of St. Kitts!
As you can see, our tour-mate enjoyed the drive on the beach!  :)

IMG_5731What’s better than a flock of egrets in a tree?…

IMG_5763A flock of bottles in a tree!  ;)
I’d like to introduce the “Rum Tree” – a mango tree adorned with empty
bottles from oh-so-happy men from a nearby bar!

IMG_5765I just loved holding this sweet little monkey!

IMG_5778Bath, anyone?
This oversized “tub” was really used to melt down sugar cane.

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The Rainforest

Driving through the rainforest was like entering a different world.  The light rain dripping from the canopy of trees created a magical ambiance.

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IMG_5873My tarzan swinging on a vine!

IMG_5868The lush rainforest was a sight to behold…

IMG_5823…and so were these cute goats…

IMG_5813…and so was my hubby!  :)

Black Rocks

On the northeastern coast of St. Kitts is Black Rocks, a picturesque collection of lava rocks adorning the coast from the nearby volcano Mount Liamuiga.

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Wingfield Estate

Back in 1625, Wingfield Estate was the first working estate on the island for sugar, molasses, tobacco and rum.  And it happened to be owned by Thomas Jefferson’s great-great-great-grandfather, Sam Jefferson!  It was fun to explore the remains and learn about how they cultivated the land that included a water wheel!

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Romney Manor

Formerly owned by Sam Jefferson, this gorgeous 6 acre estate is now home to Caribelle Batik, a shop that sells a variety of popular batik products that are hand-printed in the studio using an old Indonesian wax-and-dye process.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAColorful batik products

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Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park

History buff or not, the Brimstone Hill Fortress is a marvel to behold!  A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is a wonderfully preserved fortification and an architectural masterpiece with unmatched sweeping views in every direction!

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Designed by British military engineers and built by African slave labor, this magnificent fortress took over 100 years to construct beginning in the 1690’s.

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Looking into the horizon, I could almost see the fleet of 50 French ships coming in to storm the fortress!

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If you’re ever in St. Kitts, put Brimstone Hill Fortress at the top of your list!  It’s only $10 to get in…so why not experience this rich piece of history?
Oh, & be sure to bring good walking shoes for those uneven steps up to the fortress!

IMG_5916The Royston-mobile sure got around!

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Did I mention the a-ma-zing views?

The Peninsula

Did you know that Royston has an adventurous side?  Yep!  The Royston-mobile was not afraid to take us off the beaten path and into places other tour companies would not go!  We’d be driving along a paved road, and he’d suddenly veer off into the brush and drive us somewhere simply stunning!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANOT the Royston-mobile!
Others may have tried, but only Royston will get you there in one piece!  LOL!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYou can’t tell from looking, but Royston pulled that van right up to the edge for a simply stunning outlook of the Peninsula!
The parking area for the “other” tour vans was well below us!

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Behold – the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea!
Simply stunning!

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHappy day!

IMG_1900If this is a dream, don’t wake me!

Lunch at South Friar’s Bay

Lunch was included in the tour, and Royston stopped at his friend’s little eatery to pick up 7 ‘rotis’ – a wrap with potato, mild curry, spices, and a choice of beef, chicken, conch or veggie.  With lunch in tow, Royston drove us to “The God Father” – an empty beach bar by day (but not by night!) that acts as the perfect place to enjoy the delicious food and gorgeous views of South Friar’s Bay!

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IMG_1912South Friar’s Bay

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IMG_1927During the tour, Royston stopped by his dad’s house to pick something up.
As the van pulled away, we could hear his dad shout out,
“You hired the best man!”
We couldn’t agree more!

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Our wonderful day in St. Kitts was over, but as our ship pulled away,
there was one more surprise awaiting us…

IMG_6022Until next time St. Kitts…

What part of this tour would you enjoy the most?


St. Kitts is lucky to have Royston represent them!

If you’re ever in St. Kitts, please consider taking Royston’s Tours!
For $45, this is a quality tour that you won’t soon forget!

Royston Tours

 

High on a Hill

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Picturesque, interesting, and rich in history…
what Caribbean island is all of these and more?
Stay tuned next week when I unveil my latest “8 Hours in…” post!

8 Hours in…Barbardos

Day 3 of our Carnival Cruise found us on the scenic island of Barbados.

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As first-timers to the island with so many things to do and see, it was hard deciding on how we’d fill our day.

Hubby enjoys rum on occasion, and he read about Mount Gay Rum Distillery located near the port, so we decided to start our day by going on the $10.00 Signature Tour. The tour included a narrated history of the company by the entertaining Dario, a short film on Mount Gay and a few samplings afterward.  It was well worth the $10.00, and we both agreed due to the smaller, more intimate tour, it was better than the Bacardi Tour in Puerto Rico.

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Out of all the online research I did for “must-do” activities in Barbados, the majority of reviews kept pointing to the fabulous snorkeling.  So after making the easy decision on snorkeling as our afternoon adventure, it was time to make the hard decision on exactly which establishment we would use to make our snorkeling dreams come true.

Thanks to the many reviews on the travel site TripAdvisor, we decided to have our snorkeling adventure with Thriller Ocean Tours.

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A family owned company, Steve and Kim were amazing hosts!  We were picked up around noon by daughter Kim and taken directly to the 35ft off-shore powerboat. Large enough to fit 14 people comfortably, we all boarded the boat and headed out to explore the island’s golden coast.

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For $70 per person, our adventure included a high speed boat ride along the coast, snorkeling over a sunken shipwreck and coral reef, and swimming with sea turtles!  We even stopped at a beach and spent about 30 minutes soaking in the sun.

Helpful tip: If you’re prone to getting seasick, take ginger tablets beforehand! One of our tour mates spent a good part of the afternoon leaning over the edge of the boat😦

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Although I’m an average swimmer & have snorkeled twice before, I still feel very uncomfortable when I’m in deep water.  One of the reasons I chose Thriller Ocean Tours was because of the many reassuring reviews I read about Stephen and Kim. They provide snorkel coaching to all swimmers, novice or expert. I told them of my fears (drowning in my mask being one of them…LOL!), and they were right there with me giving me instruction on how to properly wear the snorkel, jump off the boat, (I was NOT a fan at first!  But Stephen held my hand as I slid off the edge!) and snorkel techniques.  After awhile, I was thoroughly enjoying myself without any fear!

017_17Fear of deep water…me?  Nah!
(If I wasn’t wearing a life preserver, that’d be a different story!)

023_23Kim sprinkled out num-nums for the turtles, and they got close enough to touch!

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Stephen and Kim wrapped up our afternoon of fun by providing us with tasty snacks and beverages. They really though of everything and made it a day to remember!

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If you’re trying to figure out what to do in Barbados, I highly recommend Thriller Ocean Tours. Perfect for beginner or expert swimmers/snorkelers, it’s a great way to spend the afternoon and have a unforgettable experience!


Thriller Ocean Tours
info@thrilleroceantours.com
Phone: +1 246.231.8300

 

 

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