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Best of 2009

Friday, January 1st, 2010

Last year, I copied Cindy and wrote my Best of 2008. I had intended to do more summary posts from 2008, but I don’t think I got around to it. So, here is my attempt at the Best of 2009!

Best Restaurant: Once again, we didn’t really eat out very much. We had an anniversary dinner at Second Empire, which was new to both of us. I ate at Poole’s Diner for brunch before my Christmas date with Audrey. Those were the two notable restaurants. Both were very good, but I think I’m actually going to make an odd choice here and not go for “tastiest” or overall great experience but make the choice based on the frequency and convenience of Ruckus Pizza. We find it easy to take Maddie and have found it to be a good place to go with family and friends. We like the pizza and garlic knots.

Best Book: This is always a difficult category for me. I don’t get the opportunity to read as often as I did before having Maddie, but I still read enough to make it a challenge to pick the “best.” Once again, I’m going to limit this to books that I read for the first time this year (My Sister’s Keeper and To Kill a Mockingbird are disqualified). I choose The Help by Kathryn Stockett. This is a book club pick for March, so I’m a little ahead in reading it. Of course, I haven’t yet read the books for January or February, so I’m not that ahead.

Best Vacation: We actually managed to take several significant trips this year that did not involve visiting family at their homes. We went to Bermuda, Cincinnati, and New England/Canada. All were wonderful trips! I’d have to pick the New England/Canada cruise as the best of the year.

Best Movie: We didn’t get to watch too many movies this year. We saw even less in 2009 as we did in 2008. One of these days, we’ll get to the theatre more often, though I have a feeling we’ll be seeing even more kids’ movies. I’d have to say the best movie that we saw this year was Pixar/Disney’s Up.

Best Reunion: While this isn’t a reunion exactly for me, it was great to finally meet Gabe’s dad, sister, and niece on our trip to Cincinnati.

Best Album: I just don’t listen to new music all that much these days. Gabe got a bunch of new albums for Christmas, but I haven’t had a chance to give them all a listen. I guess I’ll have to pick Here Comes Science by They Might Be Giants (another children’s album). I haven’t had a chance to listen to it too much, but I’m hoping Maddie will like it, too!

Best Board Game: I’m not sure why I didn’t think of this category last year. We were exposed to several new games this year as we had the opportunity to play more this year. My favorite by far has to be Dominion (and associated expansions). It has great replayability, is fairly easily accessible for less serious gamers, and plays awesome with two players.

Best Video Game: This is another new category for 2009. I have to admit that I barely played any video games, but I wanted to include the category so I could plug our newly acquired New Super Mario Bros for the Wii. Fun! Maddie shows some interest in “playing the Mario,” and we hope to turn her into a mini video gamer sometime in 2010!

Best TV show: I’m not sure why I didn’t think of this one last year either. Let’s see, looking over my Fall Television Update, I think I’d have to pick either LOST, Chuck, Gossip Girl, or Dollhouse. Tough choice! Since LOST and Chuck haven’t started yet for this season, I think I’ll have to pick Dollhouse. Too bad the series only has a few more episodes. It seems like we often like shows that get canceled. Boo.

Favorite toy: Ok, this is random, but I’m trying to pick MY favorite toy of Maddie’s (not necessarily her favorite). I think I’d have to go with her new Melissa & Doug Sandwich Making Set from Christmas. The wooden pieces are cool, and I love how they stick together with velcro and are quite satisfying to cut with the “knife.” Fun toy!

Our Bermuda cruise – summary post

Friday, September 25th, 2009

I’ve now written all of my cruise posts for now, so I thought I’d link to them all in one post. Of course, this is mostly for myself and anyone who might have missed all the trip reports earlier.

Daily Summaries:
Our Pre-cruise experiences
Day 1, Embarkation
Day 2, At Sea
Day 3, first day in Bermuda
Day 4, part 1, Horseshoe Bay Beach
Day 4, part 2, Gibbs Hill Lighthouse
Day 4, part 3, back on the ship
Day 5, last at sea day

Other related information:
Video from the cruise
Royal Caribbean’s Royal Babies and Royal Tots Programs
My Rambling Thoughts on Poker aboard the Grandeur of the Seas
Cruise tip: departing the ship
Helpful tips for cruising with a toddler
General Impressions of Grandeur of the Seas

General Impressions of Grandeur of the Seas

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

I should have written this months ago, but I never did get around to it. We cruised on Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas back in May on a 5-day cruise to Bermuda. I think that the 5-day cruises lack a little bit of the amenities and extras that you will find on the 7-day cruises, but it was a great way to get our feet wet (well, except not literally!) with vacationing and cruising with a toddler.

Our first cruise was on Vision of the Seas. Grandeur of the Seas is in the same ship class and has almost the same deck plan. We felt like we already knew our way around the ship within the first day. It took at least a couple of days to find our way around on the Vision. The Grandeur felt very familiar. Vision is newer with its first sailing in 1998. Grandeur’s first voyage was in 1996. One of our overall impressions was that Grandeur was starting to show its age. It was effectively 4 years older than our last experience (since our experience with Vision was 2 years ago and it is 2 years newer). It just didn’t seem as shiny and new as I’m sure it once was, and we encountered several things that were broken or in need of maintenance. Most of these things did not get in the way of us having a wonderful cruise, but it did make us eager to try some newer ships.

Our overall experience was favorable. The ship is not huge (when compared to some of the newer ones), but it is a nice size. We found that we could almost always find a quiet spot to ourselves. This is pretty amazing considering that several thousand passengers (not to mention the huge staff) are roaming around the ship. We didn’t use the pools (non-potty trained kids are not allowed, which is a common rule for cruise ships). I can’t really comment on them.

It’s hard for me to write an adequate review considering that my only other experience has been with a sister ship. We enjoyed the dining experience (after we were switched to a regular table). I know some of the newer ships have more dining options. We made use of the dining room each night and also ate at the WIndjammer for the first day for lunch and the dining room for most other lunches and dinners. We did try the room service at least one morning, but we weren’t hugely impressed by the selection or quality. We had breakfast in the dining room whenever possible – it’s definitely my preferred place for breakfast! We had some snacks at the Solarium cafe.

Some of our favorite places on the ship included the Viking Crown Lounge (very quiet after dinner before the dance club starts in the late evening). We took Maddie up there in the sling several times and enjoyed each other’s company and a relaxing drink. We spent a lot of time on decks 5 and 10 letting Maddie explore and run around. She loved it.

We had fun in the casino and were pleasantly surprised to find a Texas hold’em table running a $1-2 no limit game (perfect for us!). I wrote a separate post about the poker. The rest of the casino was similar to what we found on Vision. It’s about what you would expect from a cruise ship, in my opinion. We’ll have to see how different it is on Jewel.

I believe the staff rotates between several ships, but we did find them to be very polite and helpful. The dining room staff was accommodating to our picky toddler, and she always had many members of the staff coming by to say hello. By the end of the cruise, it seemed like most of them knew her name and they would just come by to say hi, even ones that were not serving us. They went above and beyond and even offered to wash her sippy cup and utensils after each dinner.

Our stateroom attendant was quite friendly and was available when we needed her. She often caught us in the hall and was very pleasant. Our experiences with the stateroom attendant on our last cruise was odd – his appearances always seemed a bit contrived, and it came off as a little creepy. This stateroom attendant seemed very natural in her approach, and we enjoyed the service (and towel animals!) each day. All of our personal staff received a bonus tip from us.

All in all, we had a very favorable experience yet again with Royal Caribbean. We are looking forward to seeing what Jewel of the Seas has to offer!

Bermuda Cruise, Day 4, part 3, back on the ship

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

We had to wait in a little bit of a line to get back onto the ship. It didn’t take too long. Once we were back on the ship, we took our showers and changed into our dinner clothes (though we had plenty of time until dinner). We gave Maddie another bath in the shower, and she hated it, again. We definitely like to bathe her on the days that we put sunscreen on her.

Since Maddie did not nap for too long earlier in the day, we put her in the stroller and tried to get her to nap some more before dinner. We walked around the ship quite a bit as we left the port and watched our last few views of Kings Wharf and other parts of Bermuda.

Our time in Bermuda was so short, but we were happy with what we were able to see. If we had another day, we would have visited Hamilton. We might have collected some sea glass. Several others from our Cruise Critic board talked about the glass that they collected, and it sounded neat.

We walked a ton during our trip. Maddie loves the stroller, but she also requires you to keep moving. We enjoyed strolling on the 5th deck since we could make a complete loop most days and it was shaded. The only problem with Deck 5 is that it could be quite windy when we were at sea! Deck 10 also had a loop (which is about a quarter mile, who knows how many times we completed that loop and the one on Deck 5 which is longer!).

After we took in the sail away views, we headed to Rock ‘n Roll Name That Tune trivia. We had a pretty good idea that the songs were all going to be from the 50s and 60s. Unfortunately, this was the case. In fact, we’re almost positive that the songs were identical to the ones that we had on the last cruise. The repeat performances that we experienced on the cruise were disappointing. The good part is that we didn’t feel like we were missing much when Maddie prevented us from participating in an activity! Maddie woke up during the trivia game, and we headed to the Solarium for a snack. They always had hamburgers, pizza, and fries in the Solarium.

Between trivia and dinner, we let Maddie run around the decks and walk down the hallways. She had a great time and continued to make friends everywhere she went. Nobody ever called her a boy when she was walking around in a dress, but we got it frequently when she was in her stroller and it didn’t seem to matter what she was wearing.

We had the best dinner on the cruise this night, perhaps because she had a nap closer to dinnertime. She was entertained with stickers, Touchy Feely books, and crayons. She made it more than halfway through the entree. This was the only night that Annabelle didn’t make it through the entire meal. Funny that Maddie’s best day was Annabelle’s worst (though I must say that Annabelle was still content to be at the table, she just didn’t want to sit in her high chair).

After dinner, we went to see the sunset and had just missed it again. Maddie didn’t care, she had the most fun of the cruise running around on the decks and shrieking. This was definitely one of my favorite memories from the cruise. She was so happy! A couple of older kids were playing on the decks, and she thought they were hilarious.

We took some video and a bunch of photos. Maddie had the time of her life.

After playing on the deck for a bit, we headed back to the room to change Maddie into her pajamas and put her into the carrier. We tried to go to the show, but Maddie wasn’t quite ready to sleep and started to get fussy. Gabe walked Maddie around until she slept and urged me to start playing poker. The last night that he played, he had to wait at least 30 minutes for a spot at the table. Since only one spot was left after we cut through the casino, I sat down and started playing.

Maddie fell asleep soon afterward, and Gabe was able to successfully transfer her to the pack-n-play. He did some reading while I was playing poker. A house phone was just a few steps away from the poker table, so I checked in with Gabe to ensure that Maddie was still sleeping every 30 minutes or so.

I had a great night playing poker and ended up profiting $229. Not too shabby! I was thrilled. I plan to write more about my poker experiences in a separate post, as I mentioned previously.

While I was in the casino, I took advantage of the deal that allowed $30 in chips for $20. The cashier claimed that I could use the chips at the poker table, but I wasn’t surprised when the dealer said that they were invalid. I ended up using half of it on the roulette table and the other half on the craps table. I really enjoyed playing the other table games! It didn’t hurt that I made money doing it, about $40 total profit. Overall, I ended up with about $260 in profit (after I blew $10 on a random slot machine). Maddie was still sleeping when I got back, and Gabe was excited about all of my profits!

Bermuda Cruise – Day 4, part 2, Gibbs Hill Lighthouse

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

Continuing with our second day in Bermuda, we got off the bus at Gibbs Hill Lighthouse. Since the lighthouse is so close to Horseshoe Bay Beach, we thought it would be a great place to get a wonderful view of the island. The bus stop is actually a bit of a walk from the lighthouse. I should mention once again how stroller unfriendly that Bermuda seems to be, in general. We were glad that we had the stroller, but we had to make careful decisions about which side of the road to walk. The roads were often fairly narrow and somewhat curvy.

The plan was to eat at the Tea Room at the lighthouse for lunch. My guidebook said it was fairly cheap, which is rare in Bermuda. I guess food is so expensive because they have to import so much? Whatever the reason, Bermuda food is pricey. Apparently, Bermuda has the highest cost of living in the world. Anyway, back to our story. We wanted to eat at the Tea Room, but we found out that it isn’t open on Mondays and Tuesdays. Bummer. We didn’t have any other food options nearby, so we bought a candy bar each at the gift shop. Fortunately, we had some suitable food for Maddie in the backpack (don’t worry, we didn’t feed her chocolate bars for lunch).

We bought tickets to go up into the lighthouse at the gift shop, and we decided to take turns going up to take in the views. I’m so glad we opted to take turns! The stairs are very narrow and seem to spiral to the top forever. I can’t imagine trying to carry a squirmy toddler up those stairs, even if she had been strapped in the Ergo carrier. Yikes! I got to the top and found the tiny door that led onto the balcony. I stooped through the door and was struck by a bunch of wind and the simultaneous realization that I was in a really high place in the open air. My body reacted with intense fear. I took the photo above and got the heck back inside the lighthouse. I just hoped that Gabe would be braver than me.

Thankfully, he was. He said the views were incredible, and he took a bunch of photos.

You can see how crazy the development is in Bermuda. It’s one of the most densely populated countries in the world. You can also see that Bermuda is made up of many, many islands (approximately 138).

A stranger offered to take our photo when we were all safely on the ground again.

Maddie enjoyed the grounds of the lighthouse much better than her morning at the beach.

She played in the grass a bit.

She pointed at our ship, which we could see from the lighthouse hill. Ok, maybe she wasn’t actually pointing at the ship, but who knows really. Our ship was in that general direction.

We took a few photos of our ship from afar. The other ship is from the Norwegian cruise line. Our ship is the one on the left.

We posed for several photos here since Maddie was in a good mood.

We opted to collapse and carry the stroller and use the Ergo carrier for Maddie on the way back to the bus stop. Strangers took our photos everywhere!

We were pretty tired on the walk back to the bus stop, which was fairly confusing as the stops are not clearly marked. We weren’t quite sure at first if we remembered correctly where the bus had stopped to drop us off. We ended up walking too far and needed to retrace some of our steps. The bus stop was marked by a blue pole with no words, instructions, or maps. Just a blue pole. You’d think the least they could do would be to write BUS STOP on it, right?

To make matters worse, at least one pink bus passed us by while we were waiting. We just weren’t completely sure that we were in the right place! Finally, a bus stopped for us and we were on our way back to the Dockyards. We had limited time to get back on the ship before sail away.

This bus seemed to stop EVERYWHERE. We saw lots of locals as they seem to use the bus system frequently. Everyone in Bermuda seems to know each other, which is neat. The bus drivers honk and wave when they pass each other. Several times they would say to one of the locals on the bus, sitting near the front, “that was Jerry” or “that was Mike.” I hear that the schoolchildren also use the pink buses, but we did not experience this ourselves.

Maddie was rather antsy, though the passengers around us were nice and seemed to really love her. She got a ton of attention everywhere we went. We were sitting near the front of the bus where a row of seats is along the side and faces another row of seats on the opposite side (so that we are traveling sideways instead of facing the front). Maddie was sitting on my lap for most of the ride, and we had a couple to our left from one of the cruise ships. They were interacting with Maddie and helping to entertain her a little bit. At one point, the lady noticed Maddie’s underdeveloped foot and nudged her husband to show him. She did this discretely, but not discretely enough as Gabe noticed from across the aisle. Oh well, we weren’t upset about it, just something that makes us a little sad.

We were so happy to finally make it to Kings Wharf (the Dockyards). Maddie had had just about enough of sitting still on a bus. She was definitely reaching her breaking point, especially since she had not taken a normal length nap. We worried a bit about how dinner might be that night! We made our way back to the ship and went to our cabin to get ready for dinner and sail away. More about this day in my next post…

Bermuda Cruise – Day 4, part 1, Horseshoe Bay Beach

Monday, June 1st, 2009

I have so many photos to share from this day that I thought it best to break it into several posts.

The room service on the first day was decent, but we definitely prefer the breakfast in the dining room over all options. We started our day in the dining room where I ordered way more than any human should order for breakfast. I couldn’t help myself…I wanted pancakes, eggs, bacon, AND the fabulous oatmeal. I didn’t get a chance to eat everything, but that was because we were trying to make the next bus to Horseshoe Bay and the service was ridiculously slow.

We exited the ship and noticed that a pink bus was at the stop, so we hustled to catch the bus. We got there, and we thought we were in luck as they had just enough seats for us (and it was the right bus). Unfortunately, remember those passes that I said everyone else had yesterday and we didn’t? Well, it turns out that the ferry will accept them, but the busses will not. They suggested that we might be able to get them in the visitor center, but by the time I stood in line at the visitor center, the bus was gone. They informed us that the only place that we could redeem our ship’s passes for real passes was back at the ship. UGH! It wasn’t terribly far away, but it was a good distance. Gabe stayed near the bus stop with Maddie while I ran around trying to get our passes. So, I started the day off with quite a bit of walking! Oh well, I guess I needed to work off all that cruise food, right?

We were upset about the bus passes because the schedule indicated that the buses only come every 30 minutes. Apparently, they arrange for some special buses while the cruise ships are in port, and another one arrived not too long after the first one.

When I finally came back with the proper passes, another bus was waiting and they had just enough seats for us again. This time, we were able to board. It was a bit tricky with the stroller (they had a tiny area to stow the stroller), two backpacks (one for the “stuff” we needed in port for Maddie, one for the big camera), and a squirmy 15-month old!

The bus ride to Horseshoe Bay Beach was not too bad. We had hopped onto a special bus that was mostly taking passengers to the beach, so it made only a few other stops. It didn’t seem to take too long to get to the beach, and Maddie was content to sit on my lap and look out the window at all the water and colorful houses. The scenery was very pretty! It’s so striking how narrow Bermuda is in most places (and let’s not forget that it is a series of little islands, not just one island). We could often see the beautiful ocean on both sides of the bus. During this trek, we traveled over the smallest drawbridge in the world, Somerset Bridge.

We arrived at the beach and had to walk down a fairly steep hill to get to the actual beach from the bus stop, though it wasn’t nearly as bad as I had heard from numerous reports on Cruise Critic. Everyone had recommended paying the taxi $1-2 to ride up the hill, but I’m not sure it’s necessary in most cases. It’s not THAT bad.

When we got to the sandy area with changing rooms and rentals, we stopped to take off our shoes and apply generous amounts of sunscreen. Gabe and I had a little sunburn from St. George’s since we neglected to lather ourselves as much as we had lathered the baby. Maddie smiled and wiggled her toes when we put her in the sand. We thought this was going to go very well!

Getting the stroller from the road to the beach was a bit of a challenge. As you can imagine, it doesn’t roll well through the soft sand. And the sand was so very soft. I loved how it felt on my bare feet! The stroller was much easier to push once we got closer to the water.

Right away, Maddie seemed to hate it. I think that the waves were too loud and scary for her. I can see how that might be a little frightening if you’re seeing it for the first time. We had all kinds of hopes of getting some beautiful family photos, but it was clear that this was not going to happen. She was somewhat content to be held but only when combined with the pacifier. She was most happy when she was in the stroller. I cannot emphasize how much she loves her new stroller. We are very happy with it!

I love the following photo. It’s not the family photo that I had envisioned, but it is truly priceless. This sums up Maddie’s thoughts on the beach better than I ever could in words.

We had to dip her toes into the water once since this was her first encounter with an ocean, but she was not a fan. It was a very quick dip.

We wanted to explore all the rock formations along the side of the beach, which proved to be a little tricky in places with the stroller. We could get through most parts without any climbing, but one place required picking up the stroller to get over a few rocks. It wasn’t too bad, and it was worth the view (and no, it wasn’t dangerous, just awkward). We used the Gorillapod on the rocks to snap a few shots of the two of us since Maddie didn’t want to cooperate for photos.

Maddie was very content in the stroller, and I got a kick out of taking photos of her “fun in the sun.” Does life get any better?

After we strolled around a bit, Maddie fell asleep in the stroller. We made the trek up the hill instead of paying the taxis, and it wasn’t too terrible. We didn’t want to disrupt Maddie’s nap, that’s for sure! We were the only ones getting on the bus at the stop, and we were going a very short distance to the lighthouse. The bus driver was kind enough to let us carry Maddie onto the bus while still snoozing in her stroller. Very convenient! We just made sure to put on the brakes and keep a good grip on the stroller for our short ride. More about the rest of the day in the next two posts…

Bermuda Cruise – Day 3, first day in Bermuda

Friday, May 29th, 2009

We decided to order room service this morning since we didn’t want to wake up too early but wanted to get off the ship to explore as soon as we could. This worked out fairly well, though the breakfast was delivered a little later than we had expected. We didn’t have our bus/ferry passes that we had ordered the previous day, so Maddie and I had to go down to the explorations desk and wait in a long line. While we were waiting, the breakfast was delivered. Maddie and I ate our breakfast while Gabe took his shower.

We had quite a bit of stuff to haul with us in port. We departed the ship with a full backpack, the stroller, and the big camera bag. We posed for the obligatory port photo (which we were glad to do!). The photographers were amusing as half of them were dressed as pirates. “Come get your picture taken with the pirate! Arrrr!!! Get your picture with the LADY pirate!” We were amused.

We took the ferry to St. George’s since we learned it would be faster than taking the bus. We just made the ferry, which was lucky since they leave about once an hour. We wondered why everyone else had a different type of ticket from us, but they let us on the ferry, so we didn’t think about it too much. Maddie did great on the ferry until Gabe went to the restroom. She was NOT happy about that, but a little girl came over to cheer her up. They did a little bit of fighting over the toys (under 2-year-olds do not understand the concept of sharing), but they were very cute together. Everyone wanted to play with Valentino. They also loved That’s Not My Train (a new one for this trip!) and That’s Not My Dragon.

We chose St. George’s since it is small and historic. Many of the buildings were built in the 1600s! I just love the colors all around Bermuda in the buildings, flowers, and water. We had a gorgeous day! Bermuda is a beautiful place. We walked around most of St. George’s with Maddie riding in the stroller. She loves that thing. Unfortunately, St. George’s is not completely stroller friendly. We had some sidewalks in places, but most of the town (and Bermuda as a whole) seems to have narrow roads without sidewalks with lots of blind curves and crazy drivers. We had heard that not everywhere was stroller friendly, and it didn’t stop us from seeing the sights.

We started at the visitor center where we got a few maps and figured out where we wanted to go. It was neat walking around St. George’s as I remembered a few of the sights from when my family visited when I was a kid. I remembered St. Peter’s Church, the gallows, and the dunking stool. Our first stop was St. Peter’s Church which was originally built in 1615 (though most of the present structure is from about 100 years later).

Our next stop was up the hill to The Unfinished Church ruins. When doing my research at home, I thought that this looked like a really neat place to visit. It was probably my most favorite spot in St. George’s. It’s at the top of the hill with a lovely view of the ocean. The church began construction in the 1870s and was intended to replace St. Peter’s Church. For various reasons, it was never finished. Maddie thought it was a neat place to explore.

We had the place to ourselves for the most part, but two other groups of people came into the church while we were there. Some strangers took our photo.

Maddie found some nice places to sit.

We continued to walk around St. George’s and found a nice little park. I recognized this style of “moon gate” from my childhood visits to Bermuda.

Another stranger took our photo in the park.

By this point, we were hungry and found lunch at the White Horse Tavern. Good grief Bermuda food is expensive. I guess they have to import a lot since they are a tiny bunch of islands in the middle of the ocean? Our lunch was almost $60. Holy crap! Maddie didn’t eat very much and was ready for her nap in the stroller right after lunch.

Gabe and I walked around and took in some more of the sights. We walked up to the State House and surrounding area and along the waterfront. We went to the Customs House to get our passports stamped.

We boarded the ferry at about 3pm and headed back to our ship. Maddie was a tad bit more restless on the return trip, but a few nice passengers played peek-a-boo and entertained her for a portion of the 50-minute boat ride. All in all, she had a great day!

We couldn’t resist taking a few photos of our ship.

Maddie took this one.

Since we put sunscreen on Maddie for our outing, we tried to bathe her before dinner. She HATED our makeshift bathing situation. We put a washcloth over the showerhead so that it dripped onto her and a towel on the floor so we could sit in the shower, but she just didn’t like it. We just washed her as quickly as possible. She could have used a longer nap on this day, so we knew that dinner might be a tad iffy. We had a little time before dinner, so we tried to burn off some energy on the decks. She really loved this part of the day. During dinner, we tried entertaining her with crayons and books, but she still didn’t make it through the whole meal.

After dinner, we want back to change Maddie into her pajamas and put her in the Ergo carrier. We walked around the ship and realized we had just missed a pretty sunset. Maddie fell asleep on Daddy, and we went to watch Battle of the Sexes. It was pretty much the same gameshow as the one on our last cruise, but it was fairly entertaining. We then went to the photo gallery where we picked out some of the formal portraits from the previous night. Maddie woke up at some point, so we headed back to the cabin to call it an early night. The casino was closed, so neither of us needed to rush off to play poker.

Maddie’s 15 month letter

Sunday, May 24th, 2009

We celebrated Maddie’s 15-month mark in the middle of the Atlantic. This installment of Letters to Maddie is a few days late due to our trip! (more…)

The Sunday Somethings, May 24

Sunday, May 24th, 2009

Others writing The Sunday Somethings: Audrey

Something that made me smile this week: Watching Maddie run on the decks of the ship was the highlight of the trip for me. She was shrieking with joy. I loved seeing her so happy.

Something I’m thinking: I have a lot of photos to sort from our trip!!!

Something I am hoping: I’m hoping to get the time to put together a photobook from the trip. I also still need to finish last year’s photobook(s).

Something happening around the house: We had another games day/night at our house yesterday. I was able to play several “real” games, thanks to Gabe having “baby duty” for the majority of the night.

Something I’m reading: I mostly read The Daily Compass schedules on our cruise this week! I started reading Practical Magic and hope that I can finish it before Wednesday – yikes, not much time left! I have quite a bit left in Parenting, Inc. for the Mothers & More book club in a few weeks.

Something tasty I ate this week: Out of all the things that I ate on the cruise, I feel like mentioning the oatmeal. YUM! I love the real oatmeal that I had on the cruise and all the little sides of brown sugar, raisins, and almonds. So tasty!

Something Maddie did this week: She took her first cruise!

Something I struggled with this week: We didn’t have too many struggles while on vacation aside from things like worrying about whether the baby has enough sunscreen and how to entertain her at meals.

Something I’m doing towards my goals: Gabe and I both went to the spa for professional massages on the cruise. It was wonderful. Gabe enjoyed the hot stones massage. Rocks make it a bit more manly, right? I’ve marked both of these goals off my list.

Something I learned this week: I learned that Maddie absolutely LOVES her stroller. She kept begging to ride in it while we were on the cruise. When we came home, we had to hide it so she didn’t throw a fit every time that she saw it.

Something I’m looking forward to next week: I’m glad to have a holiday tomorrow. I still need some recovery time from our trip! The cleaners are coming this week. I also have book club, if I can finish this month’s selection…only a few more days!!!

Something random: While in Bermuda, we traveled over the smallest drawbridge in the world. Somerset Bridge was built in 1620 and opens 22 inches, just barely big enough to allow a sailboat’s mast to pass.

Something I captured: We bought several of the photos from the ship’s photographers. Here’s one of our favorites from formal night.

The Sunday Somethings, May 17

Sunday, May 17th, 2009

Others writing The Sunday Somethings: Audrey

I’m writing this a few days early and setting it to publish on Sunday (something I’ve been doing quite often lately with other posts). Hopefully, we’ll be on a ship in the middle of the Atlantic at the time that this gets published.

Something that made me smile this week: Finding stylish new sunglasses thanks to a good friend and a successful last minute lunchtime shopping trip on Friday. I haven’t bought new sunglasses in years.

Something I’m thinking: As of right now (late Friday afternoon), I’m pretty much thinking about the trip! I’ve had a hard time thinking about anything else for the past few days (mostly about everything I need to make sure that I don’t forget to pack, confirmations that I need to print, directions that we might need, bus and ferry schedules, etc).

Something I am hoping: I’m hoping we’re having a great time on the cruise!

Something happening around the house: My sister is possibly at our house…right…now…or sometime today, anyway. Otherwise, I’m hoping that not very much is happening at our house, since we’re on a ship.

Something I’m reading: I read a little bit more of Parenting, Inc., which is again for the Mothers & More book club in June. It’s interesting, but I’m having a hard time getting motivated to read it. I didn’t pack it for the cruise. I decided to bring Harvesting the Heart by Jodi Picoult, Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman, and Can You Keep a Secret by Sophie Kinsella. Practical Magic is my regular book club’s selection for May, so hopefully I’m making progress on it.

Something tasty I ate this week: I had a tasty brownie, marshmellow, and chocolate fudge icing dessert at work. It’s hard for me to resist lunchtime sweets at work. They almost always have a cookie or a pie or cake that I can’t resist.

Something Maddie did this week: Maddie woke up screaming on both Wednesday and Thursday nights and was inconsolable. Hopefully, she did not continue that trend once we embarked on our trip.

Something I struggled with this week: I struggled with how to pack for two adults and a toddler for a 5-day Bermuda cruise. The pre-vacation stuff can really get me stressed!

Something I’m doing towards my goals: While on the cruise, I plan to encourage Gabe to get a massage and get one for myself. That covers two items on my goals list. Oh, and soon we should be able to mark “Install more baby gates” off the list. Gabe installed the one at the bottom of our steps this week, and he intends to put another at the top. As for the ongoing goals, we are currently fulfilling “take at least one family vacation each year.”

Something I learned this week: I learned that I LOVE my new Mother’s Day iPod Touch.

Something I’m looking forward to next week: I guess I’m still looking forward to Bermuda, technically, since we haven’t gotten there yet. I’m also looking forward to the Games Day/Night that we’re hosting when we get back.

Something random: Does anyone else think that Bermuda looks like a long face in profile? See the eye at Harrington Sound? The long nose at Spanish Point? I always think that Bermuda is a laughing head. Maybe that’s just me.

Something I captured: Here’s where we are going to be tomorrow and Tuesday (we are planning to go to St. George’s, Horseshoe Bay Beach, and the Gibb’s Hill Lighthouse – we’re docked at the Naval Dockyard):