I can’t say enough great things about the Disney Cruise. After last year’s cruise I have been waiting for an excuse to book another. So, when the neighbors mentioned booking in February AND there were last minute specials, I jumped at the opportunity.
I booked us a room and a transfer to the ship. The flight was at 7 a.m. but i had no problems getting the two rascals out of the bed. Once we finally got in the air the beverage/snack service started. We received ours just as Addison declared her need to use the bathroom. We made our way to the tiny toilet area and came back to discover that Gavin had bogarted all the pretzels. Addison was less than amused and seemed to get her point across with a dirty look. Renting a car seemed to be more trouble than it was worth. Riding the bus was fun. They played videos to get you in the Disney spirit (and plus also….it gave us an opportunity to catch a little snooze).
We boarded the ship and immediately changed to go swimming. After a dip in the pool we had lunch and then went to explore. We ran in to several of our Disney friends and maybe stalked a couple. We took a tour of the clubhouse which was leaps and bounds bigger and better than last years. Last year’s ship was an older ship. Since we had nothing to compare it to, it seemed like a great clubhouse. In comparison, it was about 1/4 the size and geared more toward the younger crowd.
The shows were similar in theme but different characters and story line. I am not sure if they change them yearly or each ship is different. They were still fun to watch.
The first night was Super Bowl Sunday. Between dinner and the show i dropped the kids off at the kids club to watch a little of game on the big screen. It was a lot fun sharing that experience with so many people. It was almost like being there..in a sundress, with no snow, better views, and cheaper beer. After almost a quarter i grabbed the kids to go see the Golden Mickey’s. While we were waiting for the show to start the kids were approached and asked to be IN the show. They needed some extras to play the dwarfs in the Snow white skit. They jumped at the opportunity. After a few minutes of rehearsal Addison decided she didn’t want Gavin and Jackson to share the spotlight so she bailed. Gavin and Jackson had their acting debut that night and did a wonderful job. Afterward we headed back to the “arena” to finish the rest of the game. It wasn’t a bad game miss.
Our first stop was Nassau. We purchased a day pass to one of the local hotels which had a heated pool and a nice, quiet beach. The hotel itself was quite nice but Nassau was not our cup of tea. After several hours we made our way back to the free food and character stalking.
The next day was Disney’s private Island, Castaway Cay. Only Disney ships dock here and only one ship per day. Everything you need is on the island. The beach is nice, the chairs are plentiful, lunch buffet is included, and they have several activities. There was a giant waterside and fort in the middle of the ocean, a stingray petting area, snorkeling, bike riding. After lunch we found Mickey and his friends for a dance party. Even shy little Gavin got involved.
Our last day was a day at Sea. I actually like these days. They are a bit more relaxed and provide the opportunity to explore more leisurely. My favorite part of the entire cruise was this last day. Gavin hadn’t had a chance to ride the Aquaduck which is a 765 foot waterside that overlooks the ocean and the top deck. It was open until 10 pm and by golly we were going to get on it before they closed. Addison wasn’t interested in the least so she played with her buddy Jackson while Gavin and I made our way up. The time was 930pm and there were only about 5 people in line in front of us. The pool deck was lit up and a movie was playing in the background. we plopped down not the raft and away we sailed. Good gracious that water was cold. It took about a minute to make our way down with cold water splashing all around us. Gavin’s face lit up and he was giggling like never before. when we finally reached the bottom we were immersed in a pool of chilly water. We laughed and shivered and ran to the hot tub. After a minute we went back up for another go. After a couple more rides all of the kids played in the pool and we grabbed some late night pizza until they kicked us out at midnight.
Every day the kids had the mandated 4-6 cones of ice cream. we ordered room service of cheese and crackers, fruit and sometimes a hot dog or pizza every night. We stalked characters on the regular. Gavin played countless video games in the kids club, we got to use our passports, and i think i only put makeup on once. I am sure one day the Disney Cruise will no longer be fun for my sweet children. Until that day comes, I plan on making this a regular vacation for us.
Not a care bear in sight
cat nap time. After she started dosing off he tucked his arm behind her head to make her comfortable.
The Disney Dream
toy story play area
shorts in February. who doesn’t love that?
shuffleboard champion…he was the only one playing but that shouldn’t matter.
smoked salmon for breakfast…only my kids
Ice cream break number 49. I don’t even really like soft serve ice cream but I couldn’t help myself
The captain and his dog
Gavin and Jackson’s off broadway debut
Shutting the pool down
the bus ride back to the airport. he is always looking out for her
four hours in the airport. they held it together like troopers
We had some serious snow take over the Raleigh-Durham area this week…..at least if you looked at the number of missed school days you would think that. Tuesday’s threat of bad afternoon weather prompted the schools to shut down. Gavin made the comment later that day, “Why didn’t we go to school on this beautiful day?” Good question my boy. I don’t know. The snow did show but it was around 5 pm. Gavin and Addison kept sticking their heads out of the dog door to get a better look.
We woke up Wednesday to about 3-4 inches of snow and another day out of school. The air was bitterly cold but that didn’t stop these two from making snow angels and throwing snowballs. I told them that the snow wasn’t wet enough to build a snowman. Gavin said we could just pour water on it to solve that problem. He told Addison to grab the spray bottle and ……she did. She took her bottle outside and sprayed EV.ERY.THING. She sprayed the furniture on the deck, the deck , the trees, her playset, the swings. the ground, everything. She probably has carpel tunnel now.
A few snowballs were thrown and Molly was the victim of several. She didn’t take to kindly to the ones in the face so she tackled the offense and stole his hat.
We found the neighbors and went sledding down the hill. The hill was a perfect grade to slip down without going too far too fast. After several times down it was time to go warm up with a hot bath followed by some hot cocoa with the neighbors. It was an exhausting day.
before the throw down
Cleaning all the things
this spot too
i bet this hill looks a lot more scary from the eyes of a four year old
trekking back up the hill. look at those rosy cheeks
i loved hearing these laughs
thawing out. Gavin spent a good 10 minutes by the vent when we came in
ended the afternoon with this sweet moment.
My dad got a fancy new keyboard for Christmas and set up shop in his living room. We went over last week to watch one of the playoff games and the kids instantly gravitated toward the shiny new noise machine. It quickly became a battle of the sounds in the house. As the TV volume increased the sound on the keyboard slowly escalated. Someone finally had the bright idea of plugging in the headphones. I think it’s accurate to say that my family’s musical ability does not come naturally.
Just before Christmas we went on a quest to see some animals in Asheboro. The kids had been asking to go to the zoo for a couple of weeks so we made plans to go one Sunday. As luck would have it the weather was supposed to be unseasonably warm (borderline hot) that weekend…..and plus also….raining. They were so bummed when I told them that it might rain the day before we were scheduled to go. I looked at the forecast and it was about 90% chance of some showers. I promised them if it wasn’t raining when we woke up we would go (it was supposed to be raining).
Well, we woke up and it wasn’t raining. They held me to it and I am a mother of my word so we packed up and hit the road. I am not opposed to walking around in a little rain. I packed an umbrella and a change of clothes for the kids. The clouds were rather ominous during parts of the drive but it wasn’t going to stop us. We arrived and I told them we needed to hurry through just in case. Surprisingly (not) the Zoo was quite empty. During the 3 hours we were there I think we saw about 20 people. It felt like the zoo was opened just for us that day. It was a fantastic zoo trip. Most of the animals were very visible, some even quite interactive. The temperature was incredible. We were wearing short sleeves and shorts/skirts. The rain managed to stay away for most of the trip but the time it was raining was just a tender drizzle.
The seals were playing with us against the glass. They would come up right to where we were standing and do flips and turns. The bobcat kept playing peekaboo with us. He came up to the glass and stared for a minute and then ran in a cave and kept poking his little head out. We stood about 15 feet away from an ostritch. The chimps were interactive and even the bear was out and about. It was a fun trip and we were all exhausted by the end of it.
Which way to zebras?
I am not sure we ever had a chance to see this guy before
A little rain won’t stop us
No, really it’s this way.
It’s a chimp.
Well hey there, you!
He played with us for about 10 minutes.
I have been thinking about getting older quite a bit lately. Body parts that have never bothered me before are starting to ache, my hair is starting to turn grey, and my energy level is squandering away. I was talking to a good friend the other day about getting older and how i feel like i am not really sure how to have fun anymore. If i had someone call me and say, “hey! tonight let’s go do something fun…you pick.” I just wouldn’t even know where to begin. I remember being fun once. Weekends were packed full of parties, dancing, dining, staying up until 3 am talking with my favorite people. If you start thinking about it too much it really starts to get you down.
But, last night I had an epiphany. I am fun. I enjoy my weekends now. Sure, I am not staying out until 3 am dancing followed by a greasy meal of waffles and smothered hash browns. But, I am having fun. My definition of fun has just evolved. My 20 year old definition is vastly different than my 34 year old definition. Last night i had one of the best New Years Eves i have ever had. Not a drop of alcohol was had and i was in my pajamas by 9, but there was a party, and dancing, and dining, and staying up past midnight talking to my favorite people.
I picked the kids up after work and I explained the concept of New Years to them and asked if we were going to stay up for the ball to drop. They loved the idea so we went to the dollar tree and got noise makers and flower leis. I wasn’t sure if we (and i mean all of us) could go the distance but we were going to try. Around 8 the festivities began. We popped some popcorn, made some dip for our chips and ate some of santa’s leftover cookies. We played some connect four and bean bag toss, made fancy New Years bead jewelry and sang songs.
Addison almost succumbed to the pressure of her eyelids a couple of times but we had promised Papa we would call if we were still awake and at 11:20 i just couldn’t let her go to sleep. We were too close. We played another pretty intense series of connect four games and she perked back up. Before we knew it Ryan Seacrest was about to start the countdown. We put on our fancy flower necklaces and grabbed our noise makers. The ball started to drop and the countdown was on. 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1, HAPPY NEW YEAR! The noise makers went off and smiles ensued. It’s a new year. A year of new beginnings and I got to start if off the best way I could ever imagine, with two incredibly fun people who, in 4 short hours, changed my perception of what fun really means.
Connect four gets serious
Fancy bead time
Even molly got a new necklace
Molly didn’t make it.
Auld lang syne
I decided to get crafty over the Christmas break. Whenever we go to marbles Addison will spend whatever time i will let her playing with all the kitchenware. We went a couple of weeks ago and she made me countless meals. All were pretty greasy from the grubby fingers of hundreds of kids who had touched the food before but I pretended they were quite tasty. She loves playing chef more than anything so i asked her if she would like to have a little kitchen area of her own at home. With a twinkle in her eye she asked if we could go do it that day. I had to say no, which i don’t like to do but promised that i would give it my best effort.
With a week of time and a mission in my mind i started thinking of how to get it done. I made a quick trip to Ikea Saturday to pick up some cheap kitchen cutlery, bowls, food, and drink ware. The trip was a success. i found a lot of great things for a great price and managed to squeeze a lunch date in with one of my favorite high school/college buddies.
Once i made it back to durham i drove to the thrift store to see what was just my price. I found a beautifully tacky desk for $28, complete with 4 drawers and plenty of leg room. It was a little tall but nothing a borrowed jigsaw couldn’t take care of.
Next stop, Walmart. It’s not my favorite place but it’s cheaper than lowes. I bought a foam roller, some new knobs, a faucet, some sheets of black duct tape, a suspension curtain rod, and some shelf paper. Sounds ridiculous,right? I had it all planned.
I got home and started strategizing about how to make this vision actually happen. I knew in my mind it was looking a lot better than it would actually look in real life and i promised myself i would not get upset as long as it was functional.
I poured a glass of wine, put on some music, and got to work. First order of business was cutting about 6 inches off the base to make it more kid height. Next was cutting the holes for the sink and faucet. This is where i ran into the first problem. I started drilling my pilot hole and broke a sweat, in the garage, at night, in December. Just my luck. The desk i bought was apparently insulated with a layer of metal. I’m not going to lie. There were a few choice words expressed, but i spent the $28 already and i am pretty sure the thrift store doesn’t do returns. I persevered and managed to get the faucet and sink installed.
Next, i needed to add a microwave and oven section from the spare wood that was laying around in the garage. i knew this too was going to be a challenge because i had already experienced the muscle required to drill the holes so attaching another section was going to require more wine and determination. I didn’t have much wood to work with so i had to make some creative decisions. The middle column is a little shy of extending to the ground like the rest of the desk, but i figured if i skimped on length there i could easily hide it with the doors. It sort of worked. i found a couple of spare shelves from an IKEA trip several years ago and cut those down to size and screw those in (SIGH). I really think getting things screwed in to the desk took longer than everything else combined.
Everything was finally assembled, except the doors, and i was mostly pleased. i did have to keep reminding myself that no matter what it looks like ,as long as it’s functional, it will be fine. I started the paint job. I decided to go with a steel grey. This was another instance where i started cursing because painting a desk that is part metal with 3 other layers of paint is not very easy. I had sanded it some but was starting to get over the whole project and decided Addison wouldn’t care if it was lumpy. I finished the paint job and called it a night.
I woke up bright and early to check the paint and assess how much was left to do. I still needed to attach the doors (UUUUGHHHH HINGES!!!). I forgot hinges. So, i went and bought those and went ahead and got some groceries while i was out.
OK! Back to work and by work i mean drilling. I really think if i would have purchased an all wood desk i could have finished in half the time. I attached the doors, and cut the duct tape for the burners, oven and microwave pieces. The shelf paper went in and i called it done. Overall, the doors are a little wonky because i bought the 97cent hinges, and I don’t love the color. I was going for an industrial look but should have opted for brighter. The suspension rod was too big and i looked on my second trip to walmart and that was the smallest they had so i had to improvise for the curtain (which i forgot to buy and ended up using one of Addison’s old dresses) and had to attach it with more screws and kitchen twine. But, like i said, it’s functional and it could have really been a complete disaster. The ultimate test would be the big reveal.
I moved it to its new home along with the doll house she got for Christmas and relocated some of our storage cubes from the bonus room, which may later turn into some window seating. So, What was once an empty spare bedroom full of christmas clutter has been transformed into a studio apartment.
The kids loved it. When i finally showed Addison she played with it for 2.5 hours. Despite some of my shortcuts it was still a huge success.
Somebody’s trash. What a beauty. Look at all those layers of paint.
My tools, and my dinner.
Addison’s new treasure
Today is flash back Friday. I was going through some photos and realized i never posted anything from the wildlife rescue that we visited while in Miami. After our Disney Cruise last March we had an extra day in Miami so I found something to fill the time. Out in the middle of nowhere tucked behind some trees, far from the beach, was this neat little habitat for wildlife creatures. We spent a couple of hours hanging out with llamas, ostriches, different species of monkeys, tigers, and so on and so forth. It was an incredible experience that I am sure the kids won’t remember but it was fun for the adults as well. We had an opportunity to not only see these animals close up, but to handle a lot of the smaller ones.
holding hands with a baby capuchin monkey
young wolf cub
Gavin taking a turn
they were kind enough not to spit at us.
attack of the anteater. This guy went straight for the ear each and every time. It was the most bizarre feeling and you couldn’t help but giggle …..
….for a little while. After about 3 minutes of constant sniffing and climbing in my hair, i was kind of over it.
Gavin enjoyed watching the tigers. He thought it was really cool that they were “playing” with him. They were pacing the fence as he ran back and forth with them. He thought they were playing, they thought he was easy prey i am sure.
These fellas were thieves. They snapped a piece off of my camera in 0.22 seconds. it took me 15 minutes to figure out how to snap it back on.
We played with a tiger cub for about 20 minutes. He was quite playful and left us with a couple of scratches.
I think Gavin’s favorite animals were these dogs.
She only stops when she is sleeping