Friday, August 15, 2008

Our Vacation Post #5

I know, I know, I know I am a slacker. But I have been trying to make my last week home with the kids a really special week. And at night, I have been neglecting my computer and watching the Olympics instead. I think the Macs are starting to get hurt feelings. But trust me, I will have plenty of downtime next week as I sit through lovely faculty meetings and training.

Monday, July 21, 2008

What a pleasant morning we had! It all began with a little dance act by Miss Emily and her new feather boa. I would have felt sorry for the housekeepers due to all of the feathers we left behind, but we were too frustrated with the hotel at this point.

We took the kids out for breakfast to Mother's which was right next door to our hotel. We got there just in time to get the early bird special, too. It is definitely a "greasy spoon" type of establishment, but that's how I like my breakfast. After breakfast, we returned to our room, dressed everyone for embarkation (I had purchased special outfits for the kids a YEAR ago), and found we had an hour to kill. So I did what any mom with a camera would do. I took the kids to the lobby for a pre-cruise photo shoot. As it turns out, I am glad I took these pictures because I didn't really get any other pictures of the kiddos on this day. As you can imagine, boarding a ship with 2 little ones does not leave free time (or hands) for picture-taking.

There was a really cool mirror coffee table in the lobby. I love these!

Funny story about Emily (so I don't forget it). There was a convention taking place at our hotel, and two of the attendees walked by Emily while I was taking pictures. One of the women made a comment about "all these little girls and their must be a Southern thing." So we started talking about mommies, daughters, and accessories. She walked over to Emily and said "What is your name, princess?"

Without missing a beat, Emily replied, "Briar Rose." For those of you not up-to-date on your Disney princess stories, Briar Rose is the name that the fairies give to Sleeping Beauty when they take her to hide in the woods. What shocked me is that the lady said to me "Did she say Briar Rose?" I couldn't believe she understood what Emily said! Well, as it turns out, her 6 year old daughter also loves the movie Sleeping Beauty. She got a kick out of Emily's response.

After the princess conversation, Emily decided to do a little catching up on periodicals.

And we can't forget Mr. Ty!

I have to say that the W redeemed themselves by comping our parking when we checked out. With all of the inconveniences we had the day we checked in, I didn't feel like the free, nasty room service quite made up for it. But refunding $90 worth of parking was quite nice. It has also kept me from writing a terrible review of the establishment.

Before heading to the terminal (we had some time to kill), I had Dee drive us around the French Quarter. He still hadn't seen Jackson Square or Bourbon Street. I didn't want to get out and go for a walk, but I felt that he at least needed to see it.

As we were waiting in a line of cars to park in the parking garage, Emily kept talking about the HUGE boat and a roller coaster. I was just kinda nodding and saying "yes, that's right" because I had no idea what roller coaster she was talking about. Then, as we started to ascend the spiral ramp up to the parking, she got giggly and excited. Apparently, she had seen this ramp while we were waiting in line or perhaps the day before when we drove to the terminal just to be sure we knew where to go. She thought the ramp was a roller coaster! For the rest of the time as we unloaded and waited to board, she kept talking about how the boat is going to be really huge. I loved how excited she was. It makes it worth all the hassle of bringing her ;-)

My biggest words of advice for people going on a cruise--TAKE YOUR CHILDREN--or at least borrow somebody else's while you stand in line. Put a baby doll in a stroller; trust me, it will save you time. We got to cut most of the long lines and go through VIP check-in. It was extremely fast and convenient.

We ate lunch as we waited to set sail. Then, we headed to our room for a little downtime before the safety drill. The safety drill was not a fun aspect of our trip. We hadn't expected it to be. But the kids did get nifty little bracelets to wear in case they were separated from us.

After the drill, we headed to the top deck as we took off down the Mississippi. It was extremely hot and windy. I was too nervous having the kids up there, so we didn't hang out very long. I also took no pictures because I was too busy holding my children to hold a camera. This was the theme of the day. I was a nervous wreck that the wind was just going to blow one of my little ones overboard. Just so you know that I was not over-reacting about the wind (okay, maybe a little), I stole this from my mom's facebook. This is my brother, his wife, my littlest sister, and her husband. It was VERY windy.

Dee and I spent the rest of the day counting down until 10 p.m. when Camp Carnival would open for the first time. We were dying to have the kids safely in the babysitting room while we explored more of the ship. Dinner was a fun affair. Everyone in our family was sitting at two tables, side by side. I enjoyed my shrimp, soup, and steak. I had something chocolate for dessert, and this was the only night that I didn't eat the molten chocolate cake. My kids ate macaroni and cheese with vanilla ice cream for dessert. If I had $22 to spend for each picture, I would show you the many cute photographs that the cruise photographer took of Ty eating every night. I kinda just let him make a mess because it kept him occupied. But we decided not to purchase them.

Before we knew it, it was time to get the kids in their PJs and take them to babysitting. We attended a show and walked around the ship. Dee won around $60 playing blackjack. When we picked up the kids, they were laying side-by-side on the floor sleeping. They were snuggled up on some blankets and pillows. It was just too cute! We decided this babysitting is a GREAT thing!

The question of the night was also answered. Hurricane Dolly was ahead of us, and we learned that we wouldn't have anything to worry about as far as our trip or ports of call being interrupted.

Friday, August 8, 2008

I've been tagged

My friend Jennifer put this on her blog and tagged me to do the same. I know I am way behind on vacation blogging, but I've been trying to spend lots of time having fun with the kids before school starts. I figured I could do this post to make a quick update.


A. Attached or Single? Attached

B. Best Friend? My husband, Dee

C. Cake or Pie? Cake, cake, cake--chocolate cake with chocolate icing

D. Day of choice? Most definitely Saturday

E. Essential item? Well, it's so hard to choose between my computer, my camera, and my I guess I will go with my Blackberry since it has the capability of being any of the above-listed items.

F. Favorite color? Pink--and I liked pink before it was cool to like pink--I actually remember the exact moment. I was coloring with my neighbor's grandaughter, and it was the first time I saw a pink crayon. I was wowed--it was love at first sight!

G. Gummy bears or worms? Bears, but not a generic brand.

H. Home town? Mesquite, TX

I. Favorite indulgence? Mint Mocha Chip Frappuccino from Starbucks

J. January or July? July--I love the heat, the summer, the fireworks, the cookouts...I could go on and on

K. Kids? A princess and a bulldozer whose names are Emily and Ty

L. Life isn’t complete without? My Heavenly Father! I have to honestly say that my first thought was my kids' belly laughs--I mean when they are really cracking up. But that wouldn't be possible without my first answer, now would it?

M. Marriage date? June 7, 2003

N. Number of brothers and sisters? Okay, here goes...I am the oldest...then I have 2 sisters and a brother, but not in that order. It goes Amy (married to Ben with 1 y/o son Carter), Brandon (married to Joy with 4 m/o Claira), and Christy aka Wedgey (married to Collin, no kids yet).

O. Oranges or Apples? Navel oranges, YUM, no seeds!

P. Phobias? pretty much any rodent, mice, rats, gerbils, hamsters, guinea pigs...I would rather run into a rattlesnake than a rat, seriously

Q. Quotes? This probably makes me a huge dork, but it's from "Psalm of Life" by Longfellow

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o'er life's solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

R. Reasons to smile? Reading to my kids, especially when I am reading Snuggle Puppy by Sandra Boynton to Ty, and he kisses me every time it says kiss. Or if I'm reading You're My Little Lovebug by Heidi R. Weimer to Emily, and she knows when every kiss or tickle is coming because I have to do it the same way every time.

S. Season of choice? I'm a teacher, so that's easy--summer!

T. Tag 4 people: Christy , Angela , Joy , Dawn

U. Unknown fact about me? In light of the fact that today is 08.08.08, I will admit a sort of obsession of mine. I love cool dates, numbers, and palindromes. When I get an answer to a math problem that is a palindrome (same forward and backward such as 181 or 1001), I get so excited deep down inside. When I was a teen, I always wanted to name my daughter Hannah because it is spelled the same forward and backward, but it didn't sound right with my married name. So my friend Angela used that name for me :-)

My birthday is 11.11.77, and I love it! I love doubles! I also get a kick when the time is 11:11. Imagine how excited I was when I turned 11 on 11.11.88! And 22 on 11.11.99!!! And imagine how bummed I am that when I turn 33, 44, etc, the year won't be the same two numbers anymore :-(

Also, I love that my anniversary is June 7 or 06.07. Emily's due date was March 3, or 03.03, so I was kinda bummed out that she wasn't born on that date. And Ty was due May 6 which would have been a cool 05.06, but I was hoping for May 5, so he could be 05.05. He didn't cooperate and get a cool birthday either!

V. Vegetable? Sweet Potatoes

W. Worst habit? Picking and biting my fingernails...with 13+ years in piano lessons, I got used to short nails, and if they start to get too long, and I don't have a nail file, I have to (it's really a compulsion) right that second, get them shorter, somehow. I had WEEKLY manicures and a lot of encouragement from Lynn at Lynn's Nail and Lash in Killeen in order to achieve my goal of pretty hands for my wedding day. But I don't have time or money for that now, so the bad habit is back!

X. Xray or ultrasound? Ultrasound, does anyone actually choose xray for this one?

Y. Your favorite food? Fresh, gulf shrimp, I could eat it every day

Z. Zodiac sign - Scorpio--even though I don't really buy into horoscopes, I have been told by some who do that my personality is truly Scorpio-like

Monday, August 4, 2008

Update on Dee, Emily says, and Fish

I need to document a few things, so I am going to interrupt my vacation posting for a moment. This has to be a record--I am doing 2 posts in less than an hour!

First of all, Dee saw the pulmonologist this morning, and he will be off of steroids in 3 months! He will be tapering down his dose for the remaining time. Then, in 6 months, they hope to have him off of his other medication. The steroids have caused some crazy things such as never-ending hunger and blood sugar craziness. Dee is extremely happy to be near the end of using them. Thanks to everyone who has prayed for Dee during this time. And thanks to God for answering those prayers!

Secondly, this is just a cute thing Emily said the other night. We were stopped at a traffic light, and a couple in a convertible pulled up next to us. Emily looked at the car for a few seconds and then she said "If they are going to the car wash, they need to put their lid on first." So true, so true. But I wonder what made her think of that.

Finally, I took the kids to the Waco zoo on Friday, and we were lingering in the aquarium because of the air conditioning. Ty was staring in wonder at the aquarium that took an entire wall. He looked, pointed, and said "fis" without being prompted. He has never said that word before, and he has never said a brand new word all by himself without us saying it first. He even said it again and made a fishy face with his mouth. Such a big boy!

Our Vacation Post #4

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Well, here is one great thing about the W--the lighting! Their lobby is full of funky furnishings and is surrounded by windows. When I woke up Sunday morning, I was still livid (and hungry) from the night before. But when we left our hotel room and walked out of the elevators into the lobby, the beautiful natural light took my breath away. So while Dee got directions from the concierge, I took some pictures of Emily.

The concierge recommended Camellia Grill, and we loved it. This was my 3rd trip to New Orleans, so I wasn't too concerned with seeing any specific sights; Dee had never been. This restaurant is away from downtown and the French Quarter, so it gave Dee a chance to see the Garden District, and the kids got to see some street cars. In the Camellia Grill, you sit on stools at a counter, your waiter takes your order, yells to the cooks, and they are cooking right behind the counter, so you get to watch. Think of a Waffle House...only better. The waiters , who are dressed in bow ties, are very friendly and showy, and great with the kids. A high chair can actually be placed over the bar stool, so Ty was totally secure and just enjoyed watching the show. We only waited about 10 minutes for a seat because in New Orleans, people don't go out for breakfast at 9 a.m. on Sunday (they are still sleeping off the effects of the previous night's events).

Dee and I love aquariums. If we are visiting a city with an aquarium, we go there. We have been to aquariums in Dallas, Tampa, Vegas, San Antonio (at Sea World) and Galveston. So, of course, our next stop was the Aquarium of the Americas. It is a fabulous aquarium, but I have to honestly say that I think Moody Gardens in Galveston is just as good. They are actually very similar in their exhibits. So my point is, if you were going to travel to NOLA just for the aquarium, and I don't know anyone who would actually do that, I would just as soon go to Moody Gardens because it's closer.

I totally should have done some reading on taking photos at aquariums. The lighting is super-tricky, and I really had no idea what I was doing.

About this turtle, he started swimming and pooping soon after I took this picture. Emily got a kick out of watching Mr. Turtle relieve himself. In fact, if you ask her what she saw at the aquarium, she will probably tell you that she saw a turtle pooping.

I had to do some major convincing to get Emily to take a look at the alli-gay-lor. She was convinced she was going to get eaten. Now, if an alligator is mentioned, she asks me if it is behind the glass or not. If it is behind the glass, she is fine with it.

I didn't even see this little guy hiding until my 3 y/o pointed it out to me. Hello Mr. eel!

They also have a rain forest area. It's hot and humid in there (kinda like a rain forest would be). You can climb up stairs and walk across some bridges where you are above everything. I took Emily up there, and she really liked it. She actually asked me to take pictures of her, and then she made some strange faces.

As we walked down the stairs, there is a little cave to climb in. And here we are again with the strange facial expressions.

Emily was then granted a turn to pet a snake. She was so not afraid to touch him!

On a side note that has nothing to do with our trip--this picture is a perfect example of a DSLR camera not making the right choices in automatic. I used automatic because I had to take this picture quick and didn't have time to meter or change my settings. The fact that she was half in shade and half in sun threw everything off, especially the white balance. This is the picture straight off of the camera with no photoshop. I will need to fix the coloring in photoshop later. I just wanted to make this comment because I think trckatalk has many readers who are DSLR owners, and it can be extremely frustrating when the camera makes the wrong choices. But it happens to everyone!

The plants in the rain forest were beautiful.

After heading back inside, we found an amazing toddler play area. There was a huge aquarium on the wall, a pirate ship, and turtle and clam sculptures for the kids to play on. I gave Ty a break from the stroller while Dee took Emily to the touch areas. She got to touch a sting ray and a shark. Aside from the pooping turtle, this was her favorite part.

I do not like one child over the other. It's just that Emily is at the age that she will sit still for a photo, and Ty just wiggles and climbs all over. So therefore, you will now see Emily in a shark's mouth and Emily on a turtle (don't worry--neither are real).

Look how happy Ty is... have a big sister who loves him so much!

As we left, Dee let the kids pick out a stuffed animal at the gift shop. Em chose a pink (of course) sea horse who she named Baby Aurora but later re-named Starwishes, and Ty chose a blue turtle who he dropped when we were walking through the Riverwalk to find a place to eat lunch. Fortunately, some nice people found it and tracked us down to tell us where it was. After lunch, it was back to the hotel for naps, and after naps, it was swimming in our hotel pool which is located on the roof of the parking garage. Ty impressed everyone with his skills. He can swim under water from me to Dee.

By this time, most of my family had arrived, so we met up for dinner. We ate at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. and enjoyed a meal together. While we were waiting for a table, my mom took Emily into the little gift shops next door. It was a little princess' paradise with the feather boas, beads, and masks.

The funny thing is that NO ONE brought their camera! We walked to the restaurant from our hotel, so we didn't want to bring the camera. I thought surely my mom or my sisters would bring their cameras. They thought the same thing about me. So no pics of this meal.

After dinner, we took a walk down by the river. Then, it was time to head back to our hotels to get plenty of rest for the big day on Monday. Dee used a duvet to rig up a canopy around Ty's crib, so that we could stay up organizing what needed to go on the boat and what didn't. The funny thing is it actually worked, and he stayed fast asleep. Ty definitely had some strange sleeping situations on this trip.