We are so grateful for wonderful families! After spending a memorable vacation with Karen's family, we were able to spend a great weekend with my parents! They came here Friday night and arrived after a full day of travel, bless their hearts! We watched the Cedar Rapids parade, went for walks, explored the mall, and played cards. But most of all, Karen and I enjoyed just being with them. Thank you for being so supportive and traveling one whole day each way to come and spend a few days with us! We love our families!



We have officially caught 3 Tommies on camera! They are very large and very scary, but they look smaller without their feathers all fluffed up. On our walk tonight, we also saw a wild bunny and lots of fireflies! It was the first time I had ever seen a firefly, but Jared had seen many on his mission. We have very interesting wildlife here in Iowa!



One of the most amazing vacations we have been on is the Hartvigsen Family Cruise! Here is a short summary of each day:

San Juan, Puerto Rico - We were able to visit and learn about the Fort of San Juan. It kind of reminded me of the Alamo in San Antonio. Some of the fort dates back to the 1400s.

Day at Sea - Besides eating GREAT food at every possible moment, there were some other fun things that happened. At a comedy show, Karen's Dad was chosen to come up on stage with the comedian. The comedian writes for many TV shows including "Whose Line is it Anyway." He had Phil do sound effects as he told a story. Of course, it was hilarious and over 20 times during the course of the cruise, we would be walking on the ship or an island and people would shout, "Hey, It's Phil!" The best part is that Karen's Mom got it all on film. Phil will be in Hollywood in no time!

Bridgetown, Barbados - Our first stop on a Caribbean island! How beautiful and clear the water was! We had a introductory scuba dive and went snorkeling in an area known to have sea turtles. Sure enough, the sea turtles were out and about, but so were the tourists! There were so many snorklers in the water that you could barely move without bumping into others. However, the turtles would swim up for air and it was very fun to be so close to them.

Castries, St Lucia - We rented a car and drove on the left side of the road (wierd) for an adventurous drive through lush forested areas on narrow and windy roads before arriving at Treetop Adventures. There, we put on harnesses and ziplined from platform to platform in for dense forest. It was very fun! It was raining hard that day but the experience was so fun that we didn't even notice.

St. Johns, Antigua - Our activity on this day was very fun. After sea kayaking around a beautiful cove and learning about the sea life, we went to a beautiful Bird Island and saw many pelicans and other birds. Some of the pelicans were diving for fish from 50 feet above the water! Then, we snorkeled at a reef for about 30 minutes. The reef is beautiful! Jared managed to cut his foot on the shallow reef. After the snorkeling we rode motor boats back to where we started and got to hold some land turtles and a parrot.

Philipsburg, St Maarten - This island had a beautiful beach where we gladly spent many hours that day. The water was beautiful and there were great snorkeling reefs right off shore. The Caribbean islands are so beautiful and have such picturesque beaches.

St Croix - We rented a car here (the steering wheel was on the left but you also drive on the left???) and drove around the island getting lost and exploring. We soon arrived at a beach that almost looked Hawaii-like. There were beautiful green mountains and a perfect sandy beach that had great waves. Somehow we ended up on the beach of a very nice beach front hotel resort. After a day full of boogey boarding, scuba diving, and snorkeling, we sadly drove back to the cruise ship to leave our final island :(

This vacation was absolutely amazing! The Caribbean islands are awesome! We had a great time with Karen's family. Unfortunately, like all good things, all good vacations must come to an end.


Over Memorial Day weekend, we visited Chicago for the first time. Peter (Karen's little brother) was able to fly out to meet us, and we had so much fun! Our weekend included: going to the Blue Man Group, eating authentic Chicago dogs and deep dish pizza, riding Segways (our favorite), visiting the Chicago temple grounds, and going to museums. Our most memorable experience was riding the Segways, due to the torrential downpour of rain that happened halfway through our tour. We returned very soaked but very happy. We also loved the food that we ate, and found a few yummy places on the Food Network's Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. Our favorites were Smoque BBQ and Glenn's Diner. It was such a fun weekend and we were so happy that Pete could come with us!