Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Family Vacation

Our original plan for a family vacation (with extended family) this year did not work out, so in April we decided we would do a Caribbean Cruise. When I looked at the dates on the calendar, our only option was to go the week right before school started. We've never done a vacation that close to school, but I thought after our busy summer it might be a good thing. So, I did some research and booked us on the Carnival Glory out of Port Canaveral, Florida. Normally we like to fly on American to get our frequent flyer miles, but I broke the rules this time and booked us on a direct flight on Southwest. With all the additional fees airlines are charging, Southwest is looking better and better.


On Friday, August 15th, my dad picked us up at noon and dropped us off at the airport for our flight. We each had one suitcase and one small carryon and then we had a garment bag with our "formal attire". The flight was on time. Wahoo! It had been a long time since I had flown on Southwest, but we were in boarding group A so we all got to sit together and I enjoyed the snacks they still give out. When we landed we went to the Budget Rent-A-Car counter to pick up our car and we were off to the port.

We had a room reserved at the Radisson at the Port and it was a straight shot, literally, from the airport to the hotel. By the time we got there it was time to eat, so after checking in we walked next door to Kelsey's to eat Italian food. Then we went to the store to get a case of water, 2 bottles of wine, and some cheap sunglasses for the cruise. Back at the hotel we discovered that there was a leak in the bathroom somewhere, but were promptly moved to the room next door. We watched tv for a bit and then went to bed.


Saturday morning we woke up about 7:30 to get ready. We headed down the road to IHOP for breakfast and had some yummy chocolate chip pancakes. Yummm! Then we headed back to the hotel to load up our luggage and check out. We took the car to the Budget location and caught their free shuttle to the port. We arrived about 10:15 and they were already letting people go through security and begin the check in process. Everything was quick and easy. After getting our room keys/sail & sign cards, we sat in the chairs to wait until we could board the ship. There was a Carnival employee asking trivia questions, so the time went by fairly quickly. About 11:30 they let us get on the ship!

As soon as we got on, we did a little exploring and then headed to the gym so I could sign up for yoga and spin classes. Then we headed to the Red Sail restaurant for some lunch. After a little more exploring we were able to get into our cabin. We had a balcony cabin on the Lido deck. Our luggage arrived by 2:00 so we were able to unpack before the muster drill. For those that haven't been on a cruise, EVERYONE is required to attend the muster drill so everyone will know what to do if the ship has to be evacuated. Now that's a nice thought to have when you start a cruise.

The ship started sail away during the muster drill, which I did not like. I like being on an upper deck watching as we leave. As it was, we hurried back to our cabin and just watched us sail away from our balcony. Then we went to the kid's club orientation to get both kids signed up for their programs and then got ready for dinner. After dinner, Madison went to the kid's club meet and greet and we took Dalton to the "family" meet and greet for his age group. We tried to get him to dance, but he wouldn't, so we did to embarrass him. Then we went to the Welcome Aboard Show and then to bed.


We woke up at 6:30 Sunday morning to get ready and eat breakfast before docking in Nassau at 8:00am. As soon as we were allowed we got off the ship and started walking toward the British Colonial Hilton. I had read on that they offered day passes and I liked the fact that we could walk there. We found it fairly fast, paid $20 per adult and $10 per kid and were on the beach by 8:30. There were only about 8 of us on the beach for about an hour or so before other people started arriving. We snorkled and swam until about 11:30 and then headed back toward the ship, doing a little shopping along the way. We got back on the ship and ate lunch before we sailed away at 2:00. The afternoon was a little overcast, but I found a chair out by the pool and read until about 4:15. Then it was time to start getting ready for dinner. We took some pictures after dinner and then went to the show.


Today was our first sea day. Due to my normal schedule, I was awake at 6:45am so I put on my workout clothes and headed to the jogging track. It's always harder to run on a ship thanks to the wind, but I managed to get in 3 miles (27 laps around the track - boring!) Then I grabbed a banana and some orange juice and headed back to the cabin to eat on the balcony. Yoga was at 8:45. The instructor wanted to be different and had us head up to the deck on the front of the ship - VERY windy.

After yoga I met up with the rest of the family and we headed for the pool. Dalton went down the slide 11 times. Around noon we ate lunch and then I spent some time on the balcony reading my book. At 3:00 I headed to spin class. That was a workout. Then I headed back to the cabin and had a glass of wine on the balcony before getting ready for dinner. We went to the show again after dinner.


Today was St Thomas. We were up around 7:00 to get ready and eat breakfast. Since we had left from the US, visited a foreign country, and were now enterring a US territory, we had to go through customs. I had heard horror stories of how long this took, but I guess we got lucky because it seemed to go fairly fast. Once we were done with that, we headed back to the room to get our things and got off the ship. At 10:45 we were on our way to Magen's Bay. We rented 2 chairs and found our spot on the beach. It wasn't crowded at first, but as the day went on it got crowded. We ate lunch at the beach around 1:30. They even had veggie burgers!

After we were done at the beach we caught a taxi back to Havensight Mall and did some shopping. Years ago I had a silver ankle bracelet that I always wore. I had it for years. But I think swimming in chlorinated water did a number on it and a couple of years ago it broke. My goal this cruise was to find me a silver ankle bracelet. Mission accomplished in St Thomas. And it only cost $18. (plus the cost of the cruise to get there).

The kids were worn out by this point so we headed back to the ship to get ready for dinner. After dinner the kids both went to the kid's club and then we went to see the nightly show.


Today was St Martin/St Maarten. We were up early for breakfast and were off the ship by 8:00. By 8:30 we were at Orient Beach. And it was basically empty. And it was beautiful! We found some chairs right by the beach and the kids jumped in. The waves here were coming in pretty big and the kids loved it. Orient Beach is on the French side of the island and there is a chance you may see topless and/or nudity at the beach. We saw both. Around 11, Madison and I headed down to the parasail stand and paid to parasail. We hopped on the jet ski and headed out. There were a few people before us, but when it was our turn, it was worth the wait. The view from above was gorgeous! And as he was bringing us back in, he slowed to boat down so that we would dip in the ocean. Then we headed back and sent the boys out for their turn. Definitely worth it.

When we were done at the beach we caught a cab back into Philipsburg on the Dutch side and found a McDonald's to get Dalton some food. He was so tired and worn out that he feel asleep at the table waiting for our food. After a little lunch he perked up and we were back to shopping. There was some wonderful African art but it was expensive and we didn't want to carry it back on the plane. So we settled for some smaller souveniers. Then we headed back to the ship.

We relaxed on the balcony until time to get ready for dinner. After dinner, we saw the show. (are you seeing a pattern here, yet?)


Another sea day. I love sea days. Woke up early so I went and ran 2 miles and then went to yoga. Found a spot by the pool and relaxed until 2:00. Then went to spin class at 3:00. Madison went to the spa for "teen day" from 4-6 so she just met us at dinner.

After dinner Dalton went to kid's club where he would stay until 3:30am (we paid extra). Tonight was also the Grand Gala Buffet. We went to view it at 11:00 and then went back to the room to meet Madison. She was tired and ready for bed, so I went to bed as well. Joel tried to stay up until Dalton got home (the counselors brought the kids home), but didn't make it. At 4am we woke up as Dalton was coming in the door. I promptly went back to sleep!


Our last day of the cruise and our last sea day. I actually slept until 8:00 today so I didn't run. I just went to yoga at 8:45, then ate breakfast. Went to the pool for a while and FINALLY had my drink of the day. Then I went back to the room to start packing. Luggage had to be outside the rooms between 9-11 and the show started at 10:15. I wanted it all done before dinner. We had all luggage out by 9:30 and were able to enjoy the show. I sat out on the balcony fairly late just relaxing and enjoying the ocean breeze before heading to bed.


Woke up early so we could shower and eat before they started calling everyone to get off the ship. We had number 14. We were off the ship, back to the rental car agency and on the road to Orland by 9:45. In order to get the best rates on flights, we had to book the direct flight which left Orlando at 11:25. Since I wasn't sure what time we would get off the ship, I made the return flight for Sunday and booked us a hotel in Orlando. We were at the hotel at 10:30 and decided to spend the day at Universal's Island's of Adventure. They have a few good rides, but I must confess that next time I'm in Orlando with some spare time, I'm heading to Disney.

Around 4:00 a band of shower's from Fay came through and dumped rain on us. We saw it coming and had already gotten to the car to head to the hotel thank goodness. Ate dinner and then went to bed.


Woke up, ate breakfast and headed to the airport. The line to check luggage was long, so I'm glad we got there early. My parents picked us up at the airport when we got home and then it was back to reality - washing dirty clothes, grocery shopping, and getting the kids ready for school.
We had a great time. I really love the Eastern route. But I don't think we will vacation so close to school in the future. Dalton actually missed a soccer tournament because of the cruise, but we didn't know about it when we book the cruise. August is full of soccer activities, so no more August vacations for us.
This post took FOREVER to post because of the pictures. We have almost 600 from the week. If I know you and have your email address and you want to see more, let me know.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

First Day of School and Happy Birthday

Today was the first day of school and also my son's 10th birthday.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Can You Guess Where We've Been?

We just got home today and I've been doing lots of laundry. It's back to work for me tomorrow and back to school for the kids on Tuesday (and also Dalton's birthday on Tuesday). We had a great time. I'll share more details later, but Fay did not affect us at all except in port in Florida.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Ramping Back Up

My training has suffered this summer. There's no doubt about that. There has just been so much going on and there are only so many hours in a day. But now that school is almost back in session (starts August 26th here), things are getting back into a routine. Soccer has started for my son with practice twice a week, so we know what Mondays and Wednesdays will be like. I'm trying to figure out what my workout days will be once school does start. I'm also considering signing up for the San Antonio Rock-n-Roll Marathon in November. It's not the first year for a marathon in San Antonio, but it will be a first for the Rock-n-Roll. So, if I'm going to do that, my running has to start ramping up.

Sunday morning I got up early and ran 6 miles - outside. I love running outside, but it's just been too hot here lately with afternoons over 100 degrees. I'm not running in that so I've been hitting the treadmill. Yuck. We spent the rest of Sunday afternoon at my son's 3v3 regional soccer tournament. His team qualified for nationals which will be at Disney's Wide World of Sports in Orlando in January. It looks like we may be going.

Monday I ran 5 miles. I'm hoping once school starts that Mondays will be my swim/run days. Tuesday is always yoga, but if and when I feel like it I may throw a short run in there. Wednesday I ran 4 miles. Wednesdays will most likely turn into my bike days. Thursdays will be run days. I'll have to decide about Fridays. In an idea world, I would do a long bike Saturday morning and a long run Sunday morning. I'm still waiting for the soccer schedule to see how this will turn out. September should be a big volume month for me if I'm going to do the Longhorn Half Ironman again and have any hope at improving my time over last year.

On to other news - I've been tagged again. This time I was tagged by Cortney and I'm suppose to share with you 6 of my quirks. My husband thinks I have a lot, so this shouldn't be too difficult.

1. I have to make my bed every morning. If I leave before my husband and he doesn't make the bed, then I have to make it as soon as I get home. If I'm on vacation, though, it doesn't bother me if the bed isn't made.

2. All my clothes in my closet have to face the same way on the hanger. I try to hang all my clothes in groups (t-shirts in one spot, short sleeve tops in another, shorts all together, etc.). They don't have to be by colors like some other people, but they have to face the same way.

3. I wash all our dishes by hand. I've never used the dishwasher in any of the houses we've owned. I guess when you don't cook elaborate dinners, there aren't many dishes to wash and I just feel it's a waste to have them sit in the dishwasher waiting until it's full to wash. My luck I'd need the dish that's in there and have to wash it by hand anyway, so it's easier and faster for me to just wash by hand after using them. I've even done this after hosting Christmas dinner for over 20 people. It's just me.

4. I'm a very detail oriented person. This comes in handy most of the time, but people laugh at me when I plan vacations. I go overboard with research so that I don't miss anything. Before we went to Disney World in 2003, I checked out the web site and read about EVERY ride so I'd know which were "must" rides, which were "we should" rides and which were "could care less about" rides. And when we went to Ohio earlier this year, I had everything in a folder in the order we would need it - plane confirmation, rent a car confirmation, hotel confirmation, etc. People may laugh at me, but we always have good vacations. Besides, how else would I have known that the "A Christmas Story" house and museum were in Cleveland. My husband would have been very upset if we went all that way and missed it.

5. When I'm serious about my training and following a plan, I follow it exactly. Once when I was scheduled to do a 20 mile run, my Garmin GPS watch said 19.XX as I came back to the parking lot where our group started and was ending. Most people would have said "close enough". Not me. I ran around the parking lot until the Garmin read 20.0.

6. I don't watch a lot of tv, but the shows I watch, I REALLY like. Don't call during one of my shows, because I will NOT answer the phone. And don't talk to me unless it's during a commercial. I don't want to miss a thing (and no, we don't have tivo or whatever it is so that I could rewind - maybe one of these years we'll get with the program).

So those are some of my quirks. I'm sure there are others, but that's enough. Now I'm suppose to tag other people. So, if you haven't been tagged yet - "TAG, YOU'RE IT".

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

More Awards and High School Reunion Time

So, I found out I've been given another blogger award by Marey. It's the "Brilliante Weblog Premio 2008." I'm suppose to answer the following questions, then tag some more readers and leave them a note over at their blog. Here goes....

A. Attached or single? married

B. Best friend? Lisa and Brandi

C. Cake or pie? pie

D. Day of choice? Saturday

E. Essential item? contacts

F. Favorite color? black

G. Gummy bears or worms? Gummy Bears (great for long rides!)

H. Hometown? born in Garland, Texas

I. Indulgence? dark chocolate

J. January or July? July

K. Kids? 2, plus all of them in our youth group at church

L. Life isn't complete without? naps

M. Marriage date? December 5, 1992

N. Number of brothers & sisters? 1 older brother

O. Oranges or apples? oranges

P. Phobias? crashing on my bike going down hill at 40mph

Q. Quotes? "...let us run with endurance the race set before us" Hebrews 12:1

R. Reasons to smile? I'm alive

S. Season of choice? spring

T. Tag seven peeps! (see below)

U. Unknown fact about me? if I told you, it wouldn't be unknown

V. Vegetable? potato

W. Worst habits? making "to do" lists (lots of them - over and over again)

X. X-ray or ultrasound? neither

Y. Your favorite food? Mexican food with chips and hot sauce. Yummmm!

Z. Zodiac sign? Gemini

I am supposed to tag a lot of bloggers for this . I'll have to think about that again.

But on to better news. This past weekend was my 20 year high school reunion. I was the Senior class vice-president and no one knows where our class president is, so by default, the reunion planning kind of falls to me when it's time to have one. This time, I had lots of help from my sister-in-law (who I graduated with) and another classmate. We had a web site for our class set up and through word of mouth were able to find a lot of classmates. We wanted to do at least part of the reunion here in town, but because it's still relatively small there are no restaurants that would hold enough people, and no hotels. So, we decided to do a Friday night happy hour at the local tavern (because we do have one of those!). Saturday would be a family time at The Main Event and then a nice adult-only dinner at Cool River Cafe.

Friday night came and we weren't sure how many people would come. Boy were we surprised! I think we could have just done the happy hour and the reunion would have been a success. The only bad thing was that we were outside on the back porch and with the 100+ degree days we've been having, it was HOT! But most everyone kept drinking that cold beer and didn't seem to be bothered by the heat too much. It was great to see lots of people who I had not seen in a while and it was even better to feel like we could just pick up where we left off last time.

Not too many families showed up Saturday, but those that did had lots of fun. There are lots of cute kids from my classmates. It's also interesting to see the ages of the kids. Some classmates have kids going off to college in the fall and some have babies just weeks old (or are expecting a baby later this year). WIDE range of ages.

Saturday night's event was just as good as Friday's. Almost 100 people showed up. Some had been there Friday night as well, but some had not. And some of the ones who were there Friday were not there Saturday. The food was good and the conversations were even better.

I know a lot of people don't like going to high school reunions. Once they are out, they are done with that part of their life. But I still live in the same town and every now and then I see a former classmate. I actually like seeing everyone. It has been interesting to read everyone's profile on our web site and find out what they have been up to. For me, it was lot's of fun. And now, I can check one more thing off my list of things to do this summer (see, I told you I make too many lists).