house guests.10: sister invasion

I feel like I've graduated from elementary school or something, now that my house guest title has branched into the double digits. I think this set of guests put our headcount to date at 27! And we've enjoyed every one.

This set of guests was very special to me. Firstly, it included my "little" sister, ERP, and two of her pals, M&L. I remember babysitting all three of these girls, oh, circa 1997. It's so nice to see them in the first stages of adulthood, especially since they're all loads of fun.

One of the things I like about house guests - especially ones in my family - is that we end up actually using our dining room table for its designed purpose. I love an excuse to sit down for a family-style meal, making jokes and comparing notes on the day's activities.

Of course, I can only get NS to be so tolerant with these endless photos.

LG finds (and provides) hilarity in every situation.

Later that same evening, B&K joined us for a homemade donut-making session. The boys have their technique down pretty well, so the girls just focused on enjoying.

Poor MG was left hanging as she tried to "cheers" L's donut.
Not fast enough, M!

Donuts put smiles on all our faces. KK covered the night in pretty good detail - check out her photos and post here.

But we didn't stick to just eating in. One advantage to having three guests under the age of 20 with college-era budgets was that we were forced to look for affordable restaurants on the island. This can be a challenge, but if you're looking for a reasonably-priced dinner, the two restaurants highlighted in this post are my top picks.

On Thursdays, Grand Old House in South Sound has a $10 pasta night. We've been there before, and since it never disappoints, we were happy to take the girls and meet B&K there for dinner one night. While we waited for B&K to arrive, NS showed our guests the school of tarpon hanging out at the water's edge (looking for table scraps). I held our table and shot the evening sky.

What a great setting for the dinner hour.

Apparently, NS is not only a tour guide, but also quite a gentleman when there are four ladies about, because he soon had our drinks all sorted for us.

Way to put those former waiting skills to work!

I really love the lighting in the next two photos. Sunset is such an interesting time to have a camera around your neck.

Then came the important part of the night: Picking all of the components of one's custom pasta dish. NS and I always put our own personal spin on our plates: Mine includes almost every type of veggie available, and his includes at least two meats as well as "extra" of everything. ("Please add extra bacon. And extra pasta. And extra sauce. And extra cheese.")

ERP loved it. And my plate was delicious with olives, mushrooms, corn, peas....etc.
It's so pleasant to be sitting on a terrace during sunset with cheerful, beautiful people, such as these.

This shot captures the essence of this visit. Full-fledged laughter. At everything. And why not?

I'm glad B&K were in attendance that night. In addition to introducing them to pasta night (where I'm sure we'll see them again - they loved it), we also like introducing them to our guests from home. B&K might as well be family to us now, so it's only natural to intermingle our friends, both old and new.

I'll take a break from all the eating photos to highlight some of the girls' other island adventures. While we worked, they bravely shuttled themselves around West Bay and Seven Mile Beach, visiting Stingray City on Captain Marvin's boat tour and spending some time at the lovely Governor's Beach.

NS made sure they had a nice time, taking them snorkeling and diving.  Here, he and M hit one of our favorite shore dives at Eden Rock.

Eden Rock is right on the southern edge of George Town, and includes lots of beautiful coral formations and interesting swim-throughs. It's a site that doesn't get old fast. My guy really hates repetition, but he's been diving at Eden Rock multiple times and is still willing to return.

After a short surface swim, down they went!
An amazing experience this time of year at Eden Rock/Devil's Grotto (nearby) are the caves full of  silversides - tiny little fish that swarm by the thousands in sheltered parts of the coral. Swimming through them forces their group to part until the diver is surrounded by the school of fish, as if in a fishbowl. Here is a beautiful, representative shot from the National Geographic site - the photo was taken last year at Eden Rock. I love how the tarpon in the middle looks like a shark, as he's so big by comparison.

So while M&N were 40 feet deep, I went snorkeling with L&E. Well, to tell the truth, L&E went snorkeling while I paddled along with my head above water due to a leaky mask. Everything was relatively fine until I felt something tug on my fin. I glanced down (sans mask) and could only see dark shapes below. In a moment of panic, all I could think was, "There is something huge, possibly with big teeth, beneath me. How do I get these girls out of the water without screaming?" What I didn't notice was that the girls had their heads in the water, watching the whole scene unfold. If I had been able to do the same, I would have seen that the suspicious shape was just NS, trying to pull a tiny prank. My furiously fluttering feet and look of sheer terror gave the group many laughs (and musical inspiration, as it turned out) for the rest of the week!

Another day, NS took E&M snorkeling out to our reef. I shot a photo of the girls and their gear while NS got down to business:

The swim out to the reef is an ambitious one, and they were gone for the better part of an hour. As I watched storm clouds roll in, I was happy to see our trio finally climb up on the dock.

They loved it! (But to be fair, they loved almost everything we put them up to that week. What an adaptable group of girls.)

Notice the rain on the horizon.
During the Fourth of July (three-day) weekend, we had a classic summer bbq followed by a beach bonfire. You can see all the bonfire details in my previous post. Earlier in the evening, I caught M&E warming up on a guitar (thanks for letting us borrow, JS!), serenading the neighborhood. I could never tire of hearing their sweet voices fill my house with music.

But I'll save all the music details for the next post.

Back to eating!

Nothing says summer like corn on the cob, especially on the backdrop of this cornflower blue dish. NS grilled these, along with homemade burgers, for our holiday bbq. Just coat with garlic butter, wrap in foil, throw on the grill, and it's the best corn you'll ever eat!
As a second affordable dinner out, we took the girls to Sunshine Grill - one of our (and TripAdvisor's) favorites.

Dinner at Sunshine is a great way to end a work day.

As we ordered our sandwiches and fish tacos, E and I remembered Dad's reaction to his burger back in January. E was blessed with some of Dad's beloved quirkiness, so here is her best imitation of his look of shock and awe:

Apparently, the whole group had a case of the sillies:

Good thing I was behind the camera, or I'd have contributed to that collage too.

Every vacation on the face of this earth seems to move at a faster pace than the rest of life. Eight days with these girls was no exception. Even NS, in all his "man's-man" facade, actually enjoyed the mirth and music these sisters added to our Cayman residence.

And having my "little" one around again - well, I got a bit misty after they all walked out the door.

The good news is that they left us something special to remember them by. More on that in the next post.


  1. I love the pics of Leah laughing - it's her a nutshell - love that girl to pieces! What a great post - I TOTALLY have to do pasta night when I come down - that looks WAY too amazing!

  2. Yes, you'd love it, and so would Dad! :)

  3. love these pictures. sisters (and guests) are so wonderful. brent and i are so glad to have you guys as our practically-family!

  4. Its very enjoyable offshore trip for sure! :) the school of fish pic is very awesome, love it!