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Allure of the Seas – Day 3, part 2, the rest of our day at sea

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

Let’s see. Where was I in these trip reports? Ah, yes. The second part of Day 3, our first full day at sea. We left the Boardwalk area and headed to the Royal Promenade where all 12 of us met in front of On Air. We grabbed donuts from the Donut Shoppe in the Boardwalk to entertain the kids (and offer a snack) while we waited. We snagged some tall bar chairs from On Air and waited for the parade to start.

We were given a tip from a previous cruiser that this would be a good spot for the parade, and they were right! We weren’t directly in front of any of the stages, but we were in a great spot to see the parade pass by. This was our view down the promenade.

This was the first time that all 12 of us were together in one place. It was so nice to get everyone together! Jason took this photo. I swear he was there, too!

They do a great job with this parade. Everyone in our party thoroughly enjoyed it. We had had a wonderful time at breakfast, but the parade became the highlight of the day. The kids (and Mick) were a little restless waiting for the parade to start, but once it did, everyone was entertained.

All of the characters who made appearances around the ship were in the parade as well as a few other bonus characters and costumes and props. The penguins seemed to “remember” Maddie and did a dance in front of us. Other characters danced right in front of us as well.

For the most part, our photos of the parade were terrible! We probably would have been better off to take video, but I don’t think any of us did this time. I really was able to enjoy the parade as Cullen was on my lap, and I wasn’t responsible for taking any photos for once. It’s nice to take a break from that every once in a while!

After the parade, we all went our separate ways. We went back to the room to get on our swimsuits and take the kids to the pool. We were excited about the pool since it had a splash area for the diapered crowd. We thought at first that the whole area that was about 2″ to 6″ of water was suitable for Cullen, but it turns off that he was restricted to a very tiny splash pool. We were apprehended by the pool police and banished to the baby pool. Cullen was not happy, but I was thrilled because the regular splash pool water was FRIGID. The baby splash pool was nice and warm. Cullen’s area is in this photo to the right/front.

Cullen was not happy about being restricted to this tiny pool. We made the best of it, but he couldn’t understand why Maddie could play in the other areas and he was stuck with the babies. He got over it after a little while and splashed around a bit. The whole area is pretty neat with water guns and fountains. Maddie explored more of the area with Daddy. She accidentally stepped from the 3″ splash pool into the 2.5″ pool. Fortunately, Daddy was right next to her when it happened (and I saw it happening from across the way). I yelled to Daddy to save her, and he was quick to scoop her out of the water. She went completely under and was not happy about it, to say the least. Plus, the water was cold! Her favorite was the family hot tub, set to a warm but not dangerously hot temperature for wee ones. I don’t blame her. The water in the regular pools was definitely too cold! Nana and Papa saw us at the pool and took some photos, but I won’t be posting any of me in a bathing suit here (or anywhere, for that matter). Let’s just say that they didn’t come out too well.

We grabbed lunch from the Wipe Out Cafe which is your typical pool area burgers and junk food. It will do in a pinch, but it’s not going to win any awards. Once we figured out where it was (the ship is huge, remember), it was convenient. We ran into Mick and Debbie, and I headed back to the room to shower and get ready for my cupcake decorating class with my mom.

The cupcake class was at The Cupcake Cupboard in the Royal Promenade. Mom and I had signed up for the class weeks ago, and it was fun to do a mother-daughter thing together. We weren’t the only mother-daughter duo in the class.

Our supplies were organized for us, and they gave us step by step instructions on how to make a burger and fries out of cupcakes.

They turned out pretty cute (and tasty)!

Meanwhile, Cullen was napping and Maddie was playing in Grandma and Grandpa’s room. Nana and I went back to get Maddie and Grandma so that Maddie could meet Shrek, Fiona, and Puss in Boots. Maddie was excited, and it’s one of the few times you can get your photo taken with multiple characters. It’s also one of the few meet and greets that they do not allow you to take your own photos. Of course, we had to buy that one.

We joined Papa along the way and headed back to the cabin to check on Cullen’s nap. He woke up a few minutes later, and we all headed to On Air for “Songs with Color in the Title” music trivia. Nana, Papa, Grandma, Gabe, and I formed a team and did pretty well. We had 32 out of 40 points, but we ended up 3rd. Oh well! Maddie fell asleep during our trivia session. The movement of the ship is quite soothing, I guess! And the ship was rocking on our sea days on this cruise!

Gabe and I headed to the meet the penguins again and ride the carousel with the kids. Cullen wanted to meet the penguins, but Maddie was more interested in riding the carousel.

After a few times on the carousel, we decided to try Pets at Sea, which is located next to the carousel. It’s very similar to Build-a-Bear. The kids had fun picking out their special new friends and outfits.

They both picked bunnies with Royal Caribbean sweat suits. Inside each bunny is a star that they used to “make a wish” (well, somehow I don’t think either of them understood that concept).

We went back to the cabin to get ready for dinner and headed to meet Alex the Lion on the way. Alex was huge, but Cullen and Maddie weren’t scared and enjoyed meeting him!

We all paused to get our photo taken together.

We tried to get some photos in front of the Christmas tree, but the kids weren’t too cooperative. We headed to dinner. Mick and Debbie had a show at 7pm, so we had an expedited dinner. My parents had a reservation at 150 Central Park where they had a fabulous dinner.

It was Italian night, and we were disappointed that Mick and Debbie had to leave before we were serenaded by the waitstaff. It’s the same pretty much each cruise, but I enjoy it! Cullen was restless during the meal, and we tried distracting him with Monkey Lunchbox towards the end of the meal. At some point, Jason finished his meal and took Cullen outside to watch the elevators so we could finish our dessert. Clearly, Jason was trying to steal one of our kids again!

Gabe took Cullen back to the cabin for bedtime, and I took Maddie to look at some of the photos. Mom and I had stopped by the photo gallery after our cupcake class. The way that they do the pictures on this ship is really cool! Your sea pass has a number that refers to your carousel and folio number. They use some kind of facial recognition, and I was surprised that almost all of our photos made their way to our folder. We didn’t have to search the walls to find every photo. I loved that system! Since we had two cabins, we had two folios, so we used one for our potential keepers and the other for our rejects. That worked out quite well and helped us narrow down our choices out of dozens of photos.

Melissa, Jason, and I decided to take Maddie to play trivia in the Schooner Bar. Jason took Maddie while Melissa and I stopped by the restroom. When we showed up in the Schooner Bar, the bar tender had offered to bring a Shirley Temple for Maddie. I was concerned that it would be made with a caffeinated soda, but I was relieved to see it was made with Sprite. Maddie had never had a carbonated beverage, and I wasn’t sure I wanted her to have soda! There was no need for me to worry as Maddie had one sip and made a panicky face and said she didn’t like it. I was glad, and I hope that she won’t have soda again for a long time! We ordered her an orange juice instead, despite it not being a complimentary drink in the bar! Maddie happily wiggled and played Monkey Lunchbox while we played Modern TV Theme music trivia. We ended up 3rd again. We keep getting close!

We escorted Maddie back to the cabin, and Melissa, Jason and I spent a few minutes in the casino. It was long enough to lose some money! I did not have much luck in this casino! I came back to the room to let Gabe play real, live poker. He ended up winning about $200 (though we did not end up ahead with our gambling on this trip!). Woohoo! As we predicted, the competition on the ship was fairly soft. Gabe was excited to get in some real poker time.

Day 3 favorites:
Kerry: the parade
Gabe: the parade (though he might also say winning at poker!)
Maddie (according to her): the pool
Cullen (our best guess): maybe the chocolate breakfast? getting a new bunny at Pets at Sea?

Gabe’s Birthday and the Rainbow Cake

Friday, October 28th, 2011

For Gabe’s birthday, I decided that he needed a cake. I wanted to make something different, so I arrived at the rainbow cake! I have had friends make similar cakes previously, and I stumbled upon some instructions when looking for an interesting cake for Gabe’s birthday.

So, I made a mess of the kitchen and separated the batter into 6 bowls, one for each color. If I had looked up Ann’s posts, I probably would have reversed the colors for the 2nd layer.

Once the tedious part is done (dying the batter), it’s easy to create. You just pour each color in one at a time. They won’t mix together, and they just spread out in rings. Next time, I think I would use more of the first color since it spreads so thin (and a little less of the next color, etc).

I could tell when I took it out of the oven that it was going to be great! I couldn’t wait to level the top to see how bright the colors were inside. Unfortunately, I didn’t have to wait. When I tried to flip over the pan, it slipped and I lost the cake. I was so sad! The 9″ layer was destroyed (the 6″ layer survived).

I had used French Vanilla cake mix, and it was quite tasty! The colors were so vibrant. I loved how pretty it looked!

So, I didn’t know what to do. I was so disappointed! We ended up finding a box of yellow cake mix in the pantry. I wasn’t sure if the rainbow colors would work with the yellow cake mix, but I had to give it a try! Worst case, we’d have a tasty cake that doesn’t look quite as pretty.

I used both 6″ layers and made a tiered cake covered in chocolate icing and decorated with M&Ms.

Maddie added the colorful sprinkles.

The colorful candles were cute, too!

The birthday boy!

Pretty!!! It turned out well after all! The colors turned out just fine with the yellow cake! You can tell (maybe not from these photos here) that the white cake is a better choice for the colors, but the yellow worked, too.

I loved how it turned out!!!

Maddie liked it so much that she organized a dance party with Jason. Ha!

Shower cake

Friday, March 18th, 2011

I made a cake last weekend for a friend’s baby shower. It seems like maybe more of a wedding shower cake than a baby shower cake, but oh well. I just wanted to make something pretty that wasn’t going to take me an entire day to create. I decided to get all fancy and make a tiered cake. I didn’t originally plan on the little flowers in the middle, but they turned out cute.

I always take photos of a cake before transporting it…just in case (same goes for pretty cakes that I have purchased).

I’ve had a lot of practice with roses lately.

This was the first time I attempted a different type of flower on a real cake. I could use more practice on these, but I think the cake turned out pretty cute.

Maddie’s birthday party cakes

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

I had planned for a while to make a Winnie the Pooh cake for Maddie’s Winnie the Pooh themed party at the museum. She insisted on having a purple cake. Given the number of people who wanted to come, I figured I could make both. I decided to do a mini version of the class finale cake. My sister wanted a birthday cake, too, and she agreed that the purple cake would make a fine shared cake between Maddie and her (their birthdays are a day apart). I added some cupcakes for good measure. It turned out that we had almost a perfect amount of cake for the number of people. We just had a few slices left to take home with us.

I took the day off to make the cakes. My work area was neat and tidy and ready to go with the baked and cooled Winnie the Pooh cake.

My work area got messier and messier as the cake progressed. I had some issues getting the outlines correct as they are difficult to see once the cake is baked (and my sample sheet was the reverse image of the cake).

I piped a ton of stars to fill in Winnie the Pooh! The red icing was a pain to make. I only made a cup of red, and it took an entire container of “no taste red.” I do feel like I nailed the colors, though!

Maddie was super excited when she got home and saw the Winnie the Pooh cake for the first time. I just loved seeing the joy on her face. She wanted to just stand on a chair and gaze at it for a while. Winnie the Pooh was yellow cake.

I did a one layer, 6″ yellow fudge marble cake (and 12 yellow fudge marble cupcakes). The purple cake was torted with chocolate icing in between the layers.

I found the cupcake picks at Party City a couple days before the party. I knew I had to make a dozen cupcakes to use the cute picks! I also found Winnie the Pooh cupcake papers and a Winnie the Pooh sprinkle set from the grocery store on the morning that I made the cakes. I knew I had seen them somewhere! The sprinkle set had Winnie the Pooh, Eeyore, Piglet, and Tigger. They were at the grocery store we do not often visit. I’m not sure how many people noticed all of those details, but I thought that they were cute.

The cakes looked pretty on the cake table. They were very enticing to all the 3-year olds in the room. They couldn’t wait to dig into the cake table goodies!

Cullen’s Daycare Birthday Party photos

Monday, February 14th, 2011

I debated whether to have a daycare party for Cullen, but we decided to do it for a few reasons. His sister had a first birthday party in the classroom, but she had a few other babies who could celebrate with her. Since no other babies were participating, I decided that we should have Cullen’s party on the day after my 2nd cake decorating class. We would be decorating a cake, anyway, so why not bring it in for the teachers, Maddie, and Cullen to enjoy (well, and us, of course). So, we did.

Cullen was upset just before we took this photo. He saw the cake and WANTED IT NOW. He was upset that we weren’t letting him touch it just yet.

We tried to get him to wear his birthday hat. That lasted about 2 seconds.

Cullen didn’t dig into his birthday cake very much on his actual birthday. It seemed that we were missing the fork. He was very happy to have a fork at the daycare party!

Cullen politely offered some cake to Daddy.

Maddie joined us at the party. She doesn’t pass up opportunities for cake.

Cullen ate his entire piece. I don’t know if it was the fork or the chocolate (his first taste of the stuff). Here he is contemplating licking the plate clean.

A fork, a dinosaur plate, and chocolate. What’s not to love?

We watched him lick the chocolate frosting off his plate. We thought that was hilarious!

Happy birthday, little man!

The Sunday Somethings, 13feb11

Sunday, February 13th, 2011

Something that makes me happy: Getting caught up with thank you notes from Cullen’s birthday and from Team B-Patrol donations received so far. I’m going to try to keep up with those better this year.

Something I’m thinking: I’ve been thinking about our mortgage and kinda wishing that we hadn’t refinanced into a 15 year mortgage in mid-2009. We have a great rate, at least! A 15-year mortgage does make for a hefty mortgage payment, though…

Something I’m hoping: I hope that we can meet our fundraising goals for Team B-Patrol this year. I’ve been working on some of my fundraising efforts this weekend.

Something happening around the house: We had games night yesterday. Yay! The train table is currently in the living room so that we would have room for card tables in the library. It’s something different for the kids right now, but we won’t be keeping the train table there permanently!

Something I’m reading: I finished Mockingjay, yay! Now I’m ready for our book club meeting next week when we’ll be discussing The Hunger Games series as well as Rebecca. I started on Still Alice, which is our selection for March. I’m looking forward to getting back to books on the kindle, but the last few books have been print ones. Gabe is reading Nurture Shock. I’m glad that he wanted to read it, and I’m looking forward to reading that one, too! Of course, it’s another print book that we already own. Gabe will be getting his kindle tomorrow!!! He should have received it on Thursday, but UPS screwed up and “lost” our package. Gabe didn’t know about it until Saturday when I told him why I was so anxious to receive the amazon package. I’m sure he wondered why I was itching to get the diaper bag that we ordered!

Something I’m watching: I’m watching the Grammy Awards while writing this. I don’t usually watch them, but everyone on Facebook kept writing updates, so I felt like checking it out.

Something I’m playing: We played Tikal on Friday night. That was the first time that I had played that one in years. Yesterday, at our games night, I played Dominion twice (the first time we had a card combination that did not work well! the second time was more fun) and Agricola. That was the first time that I had played Agricola since TBGT. What a difference it made to play by the correct scoring rules! We were all learning or relearning, so almost everyone was able to redo something due to a misunderstanding of the rules. I am very interested in playing Agricola sometime where everyone has played at least once. I think it will make a big difference.

Something tasty: I’m back on dairy products again! This is the first time in a while that I was able to eat the pizza at games night. I’m still trying to consume dairy products in moderation, but it seems like Cullen is doing well with it.

Something Maddie is doing (35 months old): Maddie drew me a picture of our family for the first time this week. It was adorable, and I’m planning on a separate post about it (though I know I often have intentions and then don’t get around to doing it). This afternoon, Maddie created Valentine’s for all of her classmates. She drew a picture of each classmate, sometimes with herself, sometimes with other kids, sometimes by themselves. She decorated with stickers and told me what the kids were doing in the pictures. I loved them all! She has started showing more interest in writing her letters. Most of her letters don’t end up looking like anything, but she has been able to copy some of my examples. She’s been very sweet with her little brother this week. She tells him everything is going to be ok when he’s crying, and she gets toys and books for him. One night this week, she started crying not long after she went to bed. She said, “I need my Mommy…and my Daddy…and my baby brother!” It was very sweet!

Something Cullen is doing (12 months old): Cullen has had a rough week, poor little guy. He had a fever for several days, so we were home together from school and work on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. He felt pretty miserable for several of those days. We went to the doctor for a total of 3 times, and we’ll have a follow up in a few weeks. He was first diagnosed with croup. The following day, he was diagnosed with an ear infection in his left ear, in addition to his croup/cold (which may have been RSV). On Tuesday night, his fever came back and he was diagnosed with a double ear infection on Wednesday (and it obviously wasn’t responding to the first antibiotic). He seems like he is feeling much better. He hated both antibiotics (and is still taking the second one). We are giving him just the augmentin (the one that he didn’t respond to was the cefdinar). He has been putting objects inside of containers a lot lately. He’s loving the game of putting things into things and taking them out again. He has been having fun putting together blocks and is so proud of himself. He loves walking with the walker wagon and riding in the walker wagon. Maddie and Cullen had a lot of fun when we put both portable booster seats on the floor. Maddie arranged them like a “train” and both kids sat and laughed in the train. Cullen is doing great with the introduction to dairy! I’ve decided to stop pumping, since he should be ok with cow’s milk at school. We’re doing a combination of cow’s milk and coconut milk to supplement the breastmilk that he will be receiving for a few more days. He’s still nursing at lunch during the school day and in the evenings and at night (and during the day when we’re at home together). I was very thankful that we were still nursing when he was sick earlier this week. It’s so easy to comfort him and ensure that he’s getting enough nourishment when he doesn’t feel well.

Something I am struggling with: Laryngitis! I lost my voice about an hour before games night started. I don’t feel too bad, otherwise, though I had a much needed nap today (thanks to my awesome hubby). I’m sure it helped me to get some extra rest. I still don’t have my voice back!

Something I’m doing towards my goals: I had my final cake decorating class this week. I had so much fun with the class, and I look forward to making more fun cakes. I’m planning to make the cake (and cupcakes?) for Maddie’s party in a couple weeks, a cake for my sister’s birthday (she requested one), a baby shower cake, and my nephew’s graduation cake. I’m sure I’ll find plenty of other cake making opportunities to try out my new skills! I started more fundraising efforts this week for Team B-Patrol‘s fundraising for the National MS Society.

Something I learned: I know I’m late to the party, but Pandora is pretty cool. I finally started using it in the past week or so. I haven’t exactly “discovered” any new music this way, but I have bookmarked some stuff that I want to possibly purchase.

Something I’m looking forward to: Maddie’s 3rd birthday and the start of our celebrations for her!

Something random: Cullen loves playing with the remote. Sometimes, he records random stuff on our DVR. This week, he recorded America’s Funniest Videos and Dr. Phil.

Something captured: We had snow this week – just the right amount! Most of the snow had melted by lunch. I took this one with my iPhone using the 100 cameras app.

Others writing The Sunday Somethings: Audrey

Cake Decorating class

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

When I made my goals list, I included “Take a cake decorating class.” I thought that the classes looked fun, and I thought it might be a useful skill for my kids’ birthday parties. I had exactly one class before I tackled the dinosaur cake at Cullen’s birthday party (fortunately, the class covered the star technique which is employed heavily in the dino cake).

I took the Wilton Basics class. Our first lesson covered the basics of baking a cake and making our icing. She explained how we were to ice our cake and fill our icing bags (as well as some various options for doing all of this). We only practiced one technique. We practiced the star technique with white icing on the cookies.

In the second class, we learned a few more piping techniques. We were to bring a single layer cake, level and ice it, and decorate it using the transfer technique and a few simple piping techniques. I decided to transfer the fish pattern, and we brought it to Cullen’s teachers the following day to celebrate his birthday.

We learned a few different flowers in the third class. I experimented with my icing in this class and tried to use an alternative to the Crisco that the buttercream recipe calls for. It didn’t seem to work very well for me. I wanted to find a “healthier” alternative, but I think I’ll stick to Crisco (and butter). I only halfheartedly did my cupcakes as I was disappointed in the consistency of the icing. It seemed the right consistency when I made it, but it was definitely too thin while I was trying to decorate. I’m not sure if it warmed up in the bag in my hand or if it just didn’t hold up in the same way as the recommended recipe. The colors separated oddly in the bag, too.

We learned how to do flowers on the nail, like this one (which I think is the “pom pom flower”).

I was ready to fill my cupcake with chocolate icing! Let’s go! I learned that the cupcake nail isn’t a good idea for decorating the cupcakes. One of mine fell to its doom after it was fully decorated. Our instructor had warned us about that, but she encouraged us to try it as it works for some people. It did not work for me!

We did various flowers and leaves. I wasn’t happy with how most of mine turned out. My icing was definitely too thin.

I like the fancy swirled bases, and that was easy to do. I think I might have to do some fancy swirled cupcakes for Maddie’s birthday party to supplement the cake. I’ll just leave them plain or let Maddie put on some sprinkles. I think I have seen Winnie the Pooh sprinkles somewhere, but I haven’t been able to find them now that I’m looking for them.

In the last class, we learned how to do the famous Wilton Rose. The Wilton people are quite proud of their rose technique. I was skeptical, but I think my roses turned out pretty well. I was very pleased with how my finale cake turned out, too. I went with 3 shades of purple to keep it simple. I didn’t want to have too many different colors (or change my tips very often in class).

Here’s another close up of the flowers on top. Pretty!

Cullen’s Birthday Party

Friday, January 28th, 2011

I’ve written Cullen’s letter, but I’m still working on the photos. We had a great time at Cullen’s party. We were disappointed that a few important people couldn’t make it due to illness, but overall it was wonderful! The weather didn’t interfere (as it did with Maddie’s 1st birthday party), and the fridge didn’t die overnight (again as it did with Maddie’s party). Cullen’s best buddies from his class were able to attend.

I decided that I was going to make the cakes for the kids’ birthday parties this year. I selected a dinosaur pan for Cullen’s dinosaur theme. It took me a crazy number of hours, but I think it turned out awesome.

I used cookie cutters to outline the dinosaur on Cullen’s smash cake (the white one). Since I had extra batter, I made two smash cakes. Mostly, I wanted a back up cake in case the first one didn’t turn out very well. It turned out great, so I decided that yellow cake wasn’t complete without a little chocolate frosting. Yum! So…the white cake was for Cullen and the chocolate one was for ME!

Cullen didn’t want to wear his hat. I made Gabe put the hat on about half a dozen times so that we could try to get a photo. I think maybe Cullen’s noggin was too big for the hat, too!

Considering that Cullen eats like a horse at meal times, I really thought we were going to have a spectacular cake smashing. That was not meant to be. Cullen picked at the frosting. He tasted a little of it. Overall, he wasn’t too impressed and refused to get his hands and face too dirty. He did enjoy all the fruit that we put on his tray. I think it was the first time that he had had grapes. We cut into the cake at some point, and he ate a little more of it then. A few days later, we had his daycare party. I brought a cake for the teachers to enjoy that contained chocolate, and Cullen couldn’t get enough of that one!

He was happy about the cake and all the attention, I think!

Maddie had been begging for cake for DAYS. I think she was the most excited to sit down and have a piece of it.

Cullen played with his buddies (or, should I say, played NEAR his buddies).

We took photos of each of the guests, but I won’t post each one here. We did get a couple of decent ones of our family. Cullen went for the “it’s my birthday and I’m so serious” look.

We tried to get the kiddos to smile for the photo. They didn’t want to smile for the posed one, but I thought this one was cute.