Tuesday, February 18, 2014

We Interrupt The Cruise...

Life still goes on while I'm blogging, and I still want to blog about my life!  Like, this past weekend!  Here in Ontario, it was the Family Day long weekend.  This usually corresponds with the week of my mom's birthday, so we usually try to get up there to visit.  This year, we headed up on Saturday after Meg's skating, but took a different route...through Belleville, where we bought a new truck, LOL.  As soon as we got to Bancroft, we went out to dinner with family.   Great place, Cafe BC, in Birds Creek.

Sunday, we had plans to go skating on the pond, my dad had plowed a nice track that we walked on Saturday evening in the light of the big full moon.  We were starting lunch, and I was slicing potatoes on a mandolin slicer.  Yup.  Took off a gook junk of skin and flesh!  It was bleeding pretty bad and my dad found the missing chunk, cleaned it off, and placed it back on.  I've never had stitches (due to injury), so I was unsure if I should go to the hospital, but there was so much blood!  It was less painful than I thought it should be, but it was throbbing so much.

Rob took me to the small Bancroft hospital.  There was one man waiting for the triage nurse to come, but he said to call them again since I seemed serious (there seems to be only two nurses so you have to use the phone to call them to triage!).   She came down, saw that I wasn't really bleeding anymore, and triaged the man that was waiting.  Eventually it was my turn, but that first nurse went on lunch and I got this older nurse.  Did all the admitting stuff, then we had to go back to the front to get a chart made up, then sit and wait.  Then get taken back, and sit and wait.  Then get a tetanus shot.  And wait.

The bleeding stopped and I was ready to just head home.  The cut off wedge seemed to be sticking well, it was only moderately painful.  I just wanted to get cleaned up and maybe get some Crazy Glue on it, and go!  Then, an ambulance came in with a woman with a cardiac concern. Ugh, there goes my place in the triage list!

Fortunately, the doctor appeared in just a few minutes.  At first, he said the flap would be unsaveable.  Usually there isn't enough flesh to re-establish blood flow.  I described to him what it was and the size, and it seemed like it might work.  He started freezing the base of my thumb, and I commented that when I get dental freezing, I always need extra.  He said not to worry, he was putting in plenty.  I barely felt  My thumb was swelling up from all fluid.  He poked a bit and I said I could feel that, so he out a bit more in.

Then he ripped off the wedge.  OMG.  That hurt more than anything!  He was really surprised!  He said he'd use a different med and put it right around the wound.  Oh man, that hurt too!  I had to deep breathe through that!  He said he'd be back in 15 minutes so that it has time to take effect.

During this 15 minutes, it started bleeding quite a bit.  Like, a constant dripping.
 It didn't seem to be getting very numb.  I was worried he'd just have to do the stitching up without it being numb.  Finally, by the time the doctor came back and poked it, it did seem numb.  He looked closely at the cut off piece, showing to Rob how the thicker part would be suitable for reattachment, but then it thins out.  If he sewed on the lower, thicker part, he wouldn't be able to pull the upper portion together and have it all lay smooth and nice.
He started stitching, but it was bleeding so much he decided to use a tourniquet!  I could feel that!  Apparently it could be left on for up to an hour and a half!  The stitching wasn't working as the wound was wide but shallow and he couldn't pull it tight together.
He decided he would deepen the wound, make it all the same depth.  I looked briefly as he was complaining about the crappy scalpel.  Looks like my thumb will be about 1/4" narrower LOL. He even trimmed out some fat.  There's fat in my thumb?!
 Four stitches.  Look how pale my thumb is!  The doctor left and said the nurse would come clean it and dress it.  He told her to leave the tourniquet on till the dressing was on.
 The nurse had a hard time doing that, but got it done.  Then the ambulance phone started going crazy and she didn't clean it up at all, not much after care instruction, just keep it dry and stitches out in 7-10 days.

It's been very painful, hurting much more than the initial pain from the wound.  Even just walking up the stairs made it throb and hurt.  Rob helped me have a shower on Monday morning, but it's the little things that are tricky.  Scissors?  Nope.  Starting the truck today was really tricky.  I made it through lunch time supervision today with a few modifications and the help of my student helpers.  Once I can get some of the dressing off, life will be easier.

Update:  I have a friend who's an EMT and he said I could undress it for bits at a time.  I can't find the same tubular mesh but what I've done is cut off the outer layer , (dirty!and used a toilet paper tube to re-apply the tubular gauze, but I cut a hole so I could put it around my wrist instead d of trying to tape it down.  My thumb is looking odd....misshapen!  I took dome pictures, but google hasn't backed them up yet.  Really annoying how that works

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Family Cruise 2014: Day 1, Part 2

So, Aunt Lou and cousin Nya (Rob's sister) appear as we're waiting for Rob and Mum to show up!  How exciting!  I had wondered if Lou's mention of going to Florida in January to see friends was a code, LOL.  No, they booked the trip just the week before!  Finally, Mum and Rob showed back up and she let out a lovely little gasp/mini-yell.  Now, our table for 6, that had been snuggled up to fit 7, would need to be even bigger!  Mum and Dad moved to an empty 2 seater beside us, but for the rest of the nights, there was a larger board on the table to seat us all. 

The kids needed help with the menus, and frankly, sometimes so did the adults, LOL!  We encouraged the kids to try anything, since they could always get something else.  I think Meg got the plain old linguine.  They loved the fresh hot buns.  Previously, I had taken pictures of the menus and/or meals, but I forgot. I did get a picture of Megan with a mango pudding.  I think they were a little stingy on the blueberries, LOL.
After dinner, the teen area was having an open house, and there was going to be free games in the arcade!  Hugh wouldn't go into the teen zone, despite Mum nearly bribing a kid who was going in, to take him with him!  We thought maybe he'd do better when they have a structured activity, instead of a "make small talk with strangers" activity.
Everyone enjoyed the video games, though, it's SO noisy!

 Like father, like daughter!
 I don't think Dad played any of the games, but he was still supportive.  Since it was free...LOL
 The three girls on their bikes!
 Meg got right into it, learning to lean and pull wheelies!
Lou had a turn too.

After the free games time was up, we headed over to see Lou and Nya's suite.  Located on our deck as well, it was a "Family Suite" at the very front of the ship.  Those round windows above the helicopter pad?   Up there!  We had actually enquired about a Family Suite, but didn't feel it was worth it.  Yes, there was lots of space, though one kid would have had to sleep on the couch in the open area (although the book says there's a 3rd and 4th Pullman in the bedroom, I didn't see them...maybe they were in the other bedroom?), but there was only ONE bathroom!!  I felt their suite was a little drab actually...the same desk and closet and colours as the other rooms, but given that it's spread out, it just seemed to be lacking in something?  The kids had a lot of fun, playing in Nya's room. 

It was getting late though, and it had been two very busy days for us.  We tried to make arrangements for breakfast though I had NO idea what time we'd be up and moving.  Eventually we got back to our room where the kids got to see the Pullman down finally.  Hugh got to sleep up there, since he already sleeps on a loft bed.  It was hard to believe day 1 was over, and no one had even gone swimming, LOL!!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Family Cruise 2014: Day 1, Part 1

The kids weren't up too early, even having gone to sleep by 8:30pm.  By 7:30 we were all up and getting ready for the breakfast.  We went down in a few shifts, since not everyone is ready at the same time, and we knew it'd be a while before lunch.  Also, the kids had to make up for not having a real dinner the night before, LOL.  The Springhill Suites offers a great breakfast, including hot foods, perfect for a low-carber like me!  Back up to the room to re-organize the suitcases.  I had tried to prevent this, but not everyone listened to the "keep out your bathing suit and anything else you need the first day" speech.  And we had the usual discussion of whether or not to check our carry on suitcases, or carry them with us.  We've been pretty lucky before, though once Rob did have to go to dinner the first night in his sandals!  We also had a lost pair of leggings which resulted in some arguing between the girls.  They eventually turned up on the couch, partially hidden by Hugh who was oblivious to all the commotion thanks to his Bose headphones...

During all this Rob noticed that Meg's suitcase had another problem.  He originally found this suitcase at a curb before one of our cruises.  Just before this one, he saw the zipper stitching was pulling out.  He restitched it, but now another spot had come undone.  Worried about the baggage handlers, we borrowed Mum's rainbow suitcase strap.  We got all 7 of us downstairs.  That's 9 suitcases and a duffle bag or two....the kids were surprised to see the mini bus shuttle with the enclosed trailer for suitcases, and all the other people getting shuttled!  And that not everyone there was going to OUR ship!

Again, the trip to the port does not feel very direct!  LOL.  As we came closer to the port, we could see the Oasis of the Seas there.  Before coming, we had watched a couple shows I had PVR'ed a long time ago when the Oasis was new.  I thought we'd be going through that terminal and the kids could get a sense of what it would be like.  There was also the Explorer of the Seas there.  I had no idea Royal had several terminal buildings at that port!  As well, there were other cruise lines there.  The kids thought it was neat to see the other ships, though I don't think they grasped just how big the Oasis is.  From the side, it just looks a little longer and taller.

Dropped off the luggage to the porters, and headed over the way most other people were going.  Mum jumped over the railings, but we walked all the way around, LOL.  Then, just inside, they got to go to Priority Check In since they're Platinum members.  We noticed we were behind a BIG group of bikers from Georgia.  Interesting.  The lady in front of us had a case of bottled water on her suitcase.  Really?!  Then, we noticed an employee--Eunice Hernandez (Pier Support) who we saw on the  Oct 24, 2010 episode of "Extreme Cruise Ship" on TLC (one of the two shows I PVRed way back before our trip on the Allure).  Sort of felt like spotting a celebrity!!  She was there to direct the rest of the line away from the large biker group (I heard there was 130 of them), and off to the check ins. 

We had a little trouble with our SeaPass accounts, trying to get the kids taken off the account; the clerk kept forgetting who was a kid and who was the mom, the computer didn't seem to work, etc.  In the end, the kids were technically still able to use the cards to purchase things, but only up to $500!  Yikes.  We did find out how to de-activate the cards later.  We were still at this point when Mum and Dad got done their check in, so their priority line wasn't really much faster!

Lucy had been fascinated by the gangway, since seeing it on those shows. 

 Yes, that's Mum, headed off ahead of the rest of us, LOL.

 While we were on the gangway, we started looking at our dining room table numbers.  We were at the 6:00 sitting, but we were at 3 different tables, and I was at one by myself (or, actually, with a bunch of strangers).  You can't tell much by the table number, I had 299 and three of the family had 300, but they could have been in totally separate areas.  The rest were at 364.  So, after a brief stop at the entrance to the ship to get the girls' Emergency Evacuation bracelets, and learn a bit about the kids' programs, we headed to the dining room to sort out our tables.
It was a great way for the kids to see the hugeness of the 3 level dining room.  I think it was sinking in, just how big the ship is!  And how it's not like going to Boston Pizza for dinner.

The kids wanted to see where our rooms were next, even though we said we might not be able to go in them.  We headed up to deck 8.
The girls were registered in one room, and the boys in the other room, 8373.  Though the plan was to put all the kids in one room.  Indeed, the rooms were ready and we met Valent, our attendant.

Below is how the kids' room looked when we got there.  Never again did it look like this, LOL!  The connecting door is to the right, but was locked until dinner--only Valent could unlock it, and as it was not a doubled door, there was no way to lock the kids out of our room!  The Pullman would come down later.  It didn't take too long for the kids to discover the phone, and start calling back and forth.  The phone in my room was awkward to get to though.  And we really missed having a couch.  One interesting thing, when you get to your room, the TV is already on, showing about the Lifeboat drill.  That's the only program available!

We headed down to Mum and Dad's room.  They had a Promenade view room, way at the other end of the Promenade, and on the other side of the ship (Port).  I didn't get any pictures of their room, but I liked the set up.  The unfortunate thing about the Promenade rooms is that there are no Pullmans and I dont' think there's sleeper couches.  There are adjoining rooms though.  Check out this website and scroll down to see what their room looked like (or just look at this other picture I found). 

A couch in front of the window, and one 90 degrees to that.  Lots of sitting for only two people!  It did feel like a long walk to their room, even though we were fairly close to the aft elevators.  They were the second last room before the Fore elevators.  It would have been nice if they were more aft (and there were other reasons, many of which are related to all Fore rooms on this class of ships, I discussed issues with rooms at the Fore on Freedom class ships on my posts from our 2008 cruise).

Then we headed up to the Windjammer Buffet.  Heaven, for the kids!  We walked around a bit, found the kids' programs, etc.  Eventually headed back to the rooms--the kids wanted to swim, but not everyone got the "put your bathing suit in your carry on" speech.  It seemed, over the week, that EVERY question would be asked at least three times.  Got a little annoying to have to repeat myself so much!  Also, we had to be ready for the lifeboat drill at 4:30.  Our station was inside the dining room, towards the back.  Pretty easy, though I still prefer to be on the outside deck.  This time, we did not have to wear the life jackets.

Back to our rooms to get ready for dinner.  Our suitcases were there, and wouldn't you know...Meg's was broken some more--the pulling handle had snapped off.  Valent said it did it, and to contact customer service to see if it could be fixed or replaced.  More on that later.

We all got ready for dinner.  More conversations on what "smart casual" means.  Somehow, even though Rob says he checked Hugh's packing, he didn't have the shirts I had told him to pack.  The girls couldn't decide what to wear first.  Busy!  Finally, we all met up again and headed downstairs with Mum and Dad.  At some point though, we lost Rob and his Mum!  Dad and I headed in to the dining room with the kids, and found our table.  It was great that it was fairly close to the doors, but not TOO close.  After a few minutes, Dad went out to look for Rob and Mum.  It's like herding cats. 

And then Louise and Nya come walking over to our table!  Stay tuned for the second half of day one!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Travelling to Travel: Cruise 2014

Many things about this cruise are different than our first two cruises.  Our first cruise, we also took an early morning flight, but did it on the actual day of cruise departure.  It was October, so we weren't worried about weather delays.  It was still a little unsettling until we were headed to the actual ship.  The next two cruises had us travelling down the day before, both times were afternoon flights and we got in to the hotel at around 10:30pm.  No matter how you slice it, it's going to be a long day, probably about 7 hours before getting to the hotel.  The way back is probably longer in some ways, since you have to clear customs twice, but at least you don't have the drive to the airport.

We arranged for the shuttle to pick up Rob's parents (here in known as Mum and Dad) first, and then us at 4:15am.  The kids were great, and got up just after 3am.  It's hard to eat breakfast that early, so I also packed some snacks.  Amazingly, we were all ready to go!  There was a light snow which was worrisome though.  When the van arrived, Rob headed out first to help.  Dad got out of the van, but kept his hood up.  The kids got into the back of the van.  Mum had her hood up but said hello.  I was standing on the porch, waiting to hear squeals of surprise!  Nothing!  I got in the van last and we took off.

This time Mum turned right around and said good morning.  The kids started laughing!  One of the girls said they had thought the woman was "another friendly English lady like grandma"  LOL!  But yet, they didn't seem too surprised, or excited!

The drive was a little slow in spots, there was one accident involving a transport truck, but some lanes were still open.  We got to the airport by 5:15, I think.  Rob and Dad got out to help with the suitcases, and then us and Grandma got out.  The kids still didn't clue in, until they saw suitcases that weren't ours!  Someone said they though they were coming to the airport to say good bye to us!  They still didn't seem to get it that they were actually coming WITH us (Mum and Dad have talked about a cruise they're going on later in the spring, so the kids were confused).  Then someone asked if they would be in our room too, but they had their own room, so the kids were happy LOL!!

Checking in 7 people at once.  Wow.  The agent was doing fine, but another one stepped in to try to help, but made the original guy a little confused.  We were concerned about our carry on, since it was 21" and the website said 20".  They weren't even weighed.  I don't think all the bigs ones were weighed either!  It was a nuisance having to take suitcases through security.  My big one kept falling over, plus I had the pull along carry-on, my purse, and a small shopping bag with snacks. 

Security went smooth, the girls didn't have to take off their shoes, my purse was barely looked at this time.   The agent seemed happy that I had taken the lids off the water bottles.  Immigration was set up different now though.  First you go to an automated machine.  We had a few difficulties with that, as did Mum and Dad.  But still not bad, lines kept moving.  Then you go up to the old booths for another check, then the large bags go off for loading (I think we kept the suitcases till then...it's all a blur now!). 

We headed off in what seemed to be the only logical way, following others down the main concourse. The kids got to try the moving sidewalks, and see if it made it faster.  We got down to the gates and found our gate, B12 (?) wasn't there.  It seemed to be over on the other side of the glass wall.  Back we went, this time of course, you can't use the moving sidewalks.  Over to the other side, and there's no B12.  Apparently, it should have been C12. 

Our plane was there already, even though it was only sometime between 6:30 and 6:45 by this time.  Our flight wasn't until 8:45! 

We easily found seats in the row looking out onto the tarmac, and the kids settled in, and we got connected to wi-fi.  There were many trips to the water fountain, the washroom, and Rob even found me a Starbuck's (though I didn't really need it yet, I did appreciate it!!).  Lucy got started on some of her homework:
 We didn't get to see the sunrise, but we did get to watch the ground crew trying to have a snowball fight with the fluffy snow. 
 The kids thought both, that the plane was big, and that it was small.  It was neat for them to be able to see it get loaded up. 
There seemed to be a delay in pre-boarding, and finally they announced that they were waiting for a replacement attendant to arrive from Montreal because one of the scheduled attendants was sick.  Finally we loaded, I think the flight was 45-60 minutes late.

I was sitting beside Megan, who had the window seat.  Next to me on the aisle was a lady in her late 50s, and her mom was across the aisle.   In front of us was a Japanese looking couple (with a Chinese name--they had been paged on the intercom), with Grandma beside them, others in their group on the other side of the aisle, and a 14 month old girl on their laps.  Behind me was Rob, Hugh and Lucy (aisle, middle, window).  Behind them were Mum and Dad, they had the three seats to themselves.  There were also some more empty seats towards the back!

As usual, boarding and preparing seemed to take forever.  There was snow on the wings so they said we had to go for de-icing, which seemed forever to get there.  The kids thought this was neat and got some photos.

 We've been speculating what the red wands were for, guess we should look it up.

The plane was older, with the old, two prong headphone jacks and TV screens that flipped down from above.  Still, although the kids knew about the seatback screens, they didn't mind.  It's their first time, afterall!  But man, NO leg room, and very little width room.
Icky stuff getting the snow off the wings!
 I haven't flown in winter in over 20 years!

Take off was good.  This time it was a long, gradual, straight ascent.  I can't watch the very start of take off, LOL, and usually there's some steep banking in the first few minutes that unnerves me.  This time, there wasn't, and by the time I was ready to look out the window, we were in clouds! 
The kids got to have their free pop, but we were disappointed there were no free snacks.  Not even a 2 pack of Premium Plus crackers.  The hot food did smell good though.  They checked out the bathroom.  A few times.  Meg watched the movie in French because she didn't know there was an English channel.  It wasn't a kid movie though, and she doesn't know any French, so that was a good thing.
 Lucy got annoyed when the window started to thaw!

The flight was pretty smooth, the baby in front of us was absolutely wonderful.  Eventually the clouds cleared and the kids could see down below.  They were excited to see the ocean! 

I got a little nauseous, I think from chewing gum.  The descent was LONG and a lot of ear popping. It really bothered Meg's ears, even for several hours after.  She was nearly crying by the time we landed.  I was disappointed we came in from the east and the kids didn't get to see the Everglades.  When we arrived, they did their talk, and said to smoke only in designated areas.  What a difference from Canada, where the gov't pays for healthcare, and there's no smoking in public (gov't) buildings, or within 9m of the doors!  LOL!

We took our time getting off the plane; as usual, there were some at the back who felt that they should get off first since they got on first.  It's pretty easy to get to the luggage carousel, and we found all our bags quickly.  Mine was still toppling over.

Then, we had to find the hotel shuttle.  I was sure it was outside to the left (though I kinda thought to the right, LOL).  I remembering trying to phone the hotel at the free info board, but it didn't work.  We tried that again, and it didn't work.  Dad tried his cell phone, but it didn't work.  Mum was talking to a woman, and they headed off down a long hall, so we slowly followed.  They found a free courtesy phone and we called the hotel.  They said we had to go to some spot (whoever called couldn't understand them well) and the van would be there in 20-30 minutes.  So we headed back, and outside, and to the left, exactly to where we got it last time.  And, it was actually just arriving, and knew he was picking up 7 people (plus others).

Fun drive to the hotel. It really feels like you're going in a big circle around the airport, on and off the interstate.  On the map, it's like, right across the road, LOL!

The hotel, Springwater Suites, has been doing renovations, and was almost done.  Our room was ready, but not Mum and Dad's, so we headed up to ours.  They're nice rooms there, this time we looked out onto the parking area.
If you look closely, you can see the roller coaster from Boomer's.
Last time we looked out onto the Interstate:
 Wasn't noisy though.
 And you could see a corner of the pool from the hall elevator lobby.
It was about 2:40.  The kids wanted to swim and eat.  The big dilemma was that Mum and Dad and Rob wanted to eat out only once.  We were starving, since we had eaten our snacks by 7:30.  I knew the kids needed lunch, but would also need something later on.  We decided to head out to Chipolte's as Burger King was absolutely a no-go and Taco Bell and McD's were also very low on the list.  We've recently been having quasadilla's, so they were keen to try those.  It's a great place for fast, fresh, GOOD, Mexican food, but man, the music was too loud!  We had a hard time hearing the workers, and since we weren't familiar with some ingredients or what went on the items, it was interesting.  I don't remember if I got medium or mild salsa, but it was pretty hot!

We walked back, and in the parking lot, Mum says she wants to go over to the plaza across the street to get wine to take on board.   We headed to the intersection (SW 18th Ave, on the north side, and Oakwood Blvd on the south, going through the plazas), and had to cross back to where we started from since the sign said to cross ONLY in the crosswalks!  Then cross back once on the other side.  We started through the parking lot of a big plaza.  We saw a K-Mart and something else that looked like a grocery store and headed there.  As we were approaching, there was a friendly looking man loading groceries into his SUV, so Mum stopped to ask him where we could buy some wine.

The back of his SUV was filled with boxes of wine!  LOL!!

Apparently, he was at a friend's house and had some great wine.  The friend said he bought it as a clear out at a dollarstore, so he had bought some last weekend to try.  It was actually quite good, so he had just gone back to stock up.  Four bottles for $10.  We had a great conversation, and it turns out the dollar store was right across the street (the same one we had already crossed twice). 

We headed back across the street.  Even though we were a large group, crossing at a 4-way stop, the cars still kept coming!  Really now.  We're in the middle of the street, and you just head towards us?  Where are we going to go?  You're just worried that the cross traffic might go before it's properly YOUR turn!

We found the dollar store.  What fun for the kids, to shop in an American store!  A little overwhelming, since all three were hands on.  I left Rob and his parents to the wine section, while I searched for sunscreen.  We picked up a few goodies (which turned into dinner, LOL) and 5 bottles of wine between us.  We headed back, crossing that street at the main crosswalk.  Which was still kinda scary.  Pedestrians don't seem to have the right of way, even with a green light/walk signal!

Back at the hotel, the bucket of suckers on the check in desk had turned into chocolate chip cookies.  Great dinner!  The kids decided they MUST swim.  I headed down with them, planning to sit on the patio and Facebook.  However, the wifi didn't work outside.  The kids said the pool was warm.  I didn't believe them, so I tried it.  Indeed, it WAS warm.  Warm enough for this cold Canadian!  I went back upstairs and got in my suit and brought down the waterproof camera for a test run.

 Selfies are hard underwater, especially without goggles.
 Posing by the waterfall.
 Hard to believe we saw people in Chipotle's with jeans, heavy sweaters, and even toques on!
 Look at the detail of the bubble on her face!  LOL!

 We even used the self-timer for a family shot, though Hugh wasn't co-operating (you can see him behind Meg's arm), and I was afraid the camera was going to fall over.

And you've got to love this shot below, where Hugh is trying to lick Lucy.  Don't ask questions.  Just enjoy the picture.

The battery was getting pretty low, and we finally headed in.  The kids got in their jammies.  We were pretty tired, and it seemed really, really odd that it was only 6:30pm LOL.  We got more cookies from the lobby and ate the candy from the dollar store and visited with Mum and Dad and tried the first bottle of wine.  It wasn't very good, LOL.  Somehow, once we got on the ship, they ended up with a second bottle of that wine, we were supposed to have one.  Ooops.  In the end, they didn't get to sleep all that early, but I think they were out by 8:30!  Not bad!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Prelude to a Cruise: 2014

Rob and I had been on three cruises together (I've blogged about the last two, the first one was over shadowed by a terrible stomach illness).  We kept saying we would take the kids at some point, but hadn't felt they were old enough yet to really appreciate it, and behave, and make it not too much work for ourselves.  This past summer though, we thought we weren't going to be able to go to the family timeshare in Florida again, so we started seriously looking at cruises (it turns out we could have gone after all).  We had casually looked at cruises on and off since the last one, but this time, it was getting serious.
 In August, we found a cruise in October that appealed to us, but we couldn't get adjoining rooms and felt that giving a Christmas present two months early would mean trouble come Christmas Day.  We found another one that had a great iternary, in January, leaving from Port Canaveral.  However, once we looked into the logistics and cost of transfering 7 people (more on that later) from Ft Lauderdale to Pt Canaveral, we opted to pass.  Plus, we couldn't get adjoining rooms, just adjacent rooms (which I was fine with, but others weren't).

Finally, in late August, we settled on Independence of the Seas, leaving Saturday, Jan 18 from Ft. Lauderdale.  We could get adjoining rooms on deck 8, and a direct, affordable flight from Toronto with no baggage fees.  Rob's parents decided they would join us, and got a Promenade view room on deck 8.  We had also considered a family suite, but felt it wasn't worth the extra cost--you get only ONE bathroom!  We booked an airport shuttle to pick us up on Friday morning at 4:15am.  Oy. 
Rob and his mom worked really hard to find a hotel for the Friday night.  Our agent recommended the one we stayed at last time, but it was pricey!  They found a cheap hotel and booked it, but after reading the reviews, they cancelled!  Rob phoned the other place and asked about getting a government employee discount.  The manager confirmed that OPG is on the approved list, and we could book up to four rooms!  Funny thing...the other supervisor I work with in the kindergarten classes went on a cruise in December, and she also stayed there, another repeat customer!

It was really hard waiting and preparing!  Shopper's Drug Mart had a special points redemption day and I used all my points to get a Fugi waterproof camera.  SO excited about that!  I also picked up new bathing suits and flip flops for the kids, and other stocking stuffers, related to the sun and travel.  Rob bought a set of walkie-talkies as well.  I bought Rob a snorkel set. 
We debated how to actually give them the "gift" though.  Rob was going to make a PowerPoint presentation at work, but that didn't happen.  I wanted them to open all their stocking stuff, then the bigger items, thinking they would clue in at some point.  Lucy had been hinting that she knew, but really, we had talked about it sooooo much, and often said at dinner "Oh, you're not ready for a cruise since you just blew bubbles in your milk" etc.  We continued to look up cruises and pretend to try to pick one.  We did say that we weren't spending much on Christmas, since last year we had done some big gifts. 

On Christmas Eve, the kids got their new pajamas.  I had thought about getting them tropical themed ones, but that seemed too much work and too much of a hint.  Hugh's boxers did have pirate skulls on them though.
  Late Christmas Eve, Rob struggled to write up a letter telling the kids about the cruise gift:

Christmas morning, it all started as planned.  There wasn't a whole lot under the tree, but it didn't look too skimpy either (some of these were presents from a party that was cancelled due to the big ice storm):

 They started with their stockings like usual.  No one clued in to the mini bottles of hand sanitizer, or the sunscreen, or the after-sun spray, or the Sun In hair lightener, or the lip balms, or the floating straps for everyone's glasses....then we went on to the gifts.  Bathing suits...iTunes cards...snorkel set for Rob....can't even remember what else there was!  Then Rob brought out the three last ones.  I think next was the waterproof camera.  That was interesting, but not a hit.  Then the walkie talkies.  Not much reaction.  Then he gave them the letter and let Lucy read it (watch for Hugh's reaction):

I'm having trouble with blogger, trying to get the video, which was taken on my iPad and downloaded to the computer, loaded onto Blogger.  Tried using the iPad but Safari didn't want to play nice with Blogger.  Loaded the video to YouTube.  I think I got the right one above!
We started preparing in earnest, before Christmas we picked up a carry on suitcase at Value Village, and then after New Year's I found a great pink one!  Took the kids on a shopping spree to Value Village for some formal clothes (look how skinny Hugh is!!).

 Haircuts.  Made sure the kids took vitamins and probiotics.  Stocked up a travel first aid bag.  New memory card for the camera, floating strap for the waterproof camera, etc.  Discussed the layout of the ship and what checking in would be like.  It was amazing how many times we seemed to have to answer the same questions!

The Sunday before we were leaving, Hugh started feeling sick.  By Monday morning it was obvious he probably had street throat.  No problem, our doctor is in her office on Mondays!  Except for THAT Monday!  After lunch we endured the walk in clinic, and the drug store.  Luckily, Hugh's not much trouble when he's sick, but I hadn't expected to lose all of Monday!

Packing was fun.  We started early in the week, since I was going to take our dog to my parents on Wednesday and wouldn't be home till late.  Yet, somehow some kids didn't seem to have the clothes they were supposed to pack LOL.  We ate as much of the food from the fridge as possible.  I skipped band on Thursday night, and the kids were in bed by 9pm, but I didn't make it till 10:30.  Thank you melatonin!

She's Driving Us Crazy!

From Dec 21/2006 on my other blog:

We thought we had 'solved' the Megan climbing on the chairs and onto the table issue. However, it only took two days for her to learn that the rungs on the back of the chair are also a good ladder!! She can't get onto the table (yet) but man! She's non-stop! And QUICK! Get off your chair to get a drink...she's up there. She's now started climbing up on the chair when Huey or Lucy in on it! She also climbs on the chair for the computer, which is a 'tractor seat' stool from IKEA. And she can climb into the bathtub! I remember Huey being into stuff--he was a dumper--and he did climb a little, but I'm going crazy trying to keep up with her. She doesn't sit and play with toys. The only time she is still seems to be when she's in the highchair and belted up. I am REALLY regretted that we never got the playpen out when we first moved here and got her used to it. By now, though, she'd probably figure out how to flip over the top of it!

As a result of Megan, we aren't getting a real tree this year.
I got out our old "We're not going to be home so why bother" tree:

The before pictures, LOL.

 And fluffed up, lights on:

The kids like that the lights flash on and off, LOL. It's missing some of it's old decorations, and Megan's already cleared the napkins off from the base (it's sitting on my sewing machine). I think the presents aren't going to appear until Christmas morning :)


1 comment:

Hi Tracy, thanks for visiting my blog. I just read a little bit in yours and got stuck at the "wearing baby" story. My children are 22 and 21 now, so about 20 years back, when they were little, I carried them everywhere. I did so many things differently than my mother , grandmother or others around me did, I was only 2o back then myself and very insecure, but my instincts told me to do as I though right. My babies never cried much, or later behaved like maniacs in stores etc. I think it's the best thing a mother can do for her baby, so many benefits...My mom and grandmom just shook their heads but also tried to convince me to do it different, it was hard to stick with my new way. Anyway, wish you and your loved ones Merry Christmas!