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Disney Cruise 2014: Getting to the Ship

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

We decided due to airfare and schedules that we would drive to Port Canaveral. The drive is less than 9 hours, which isn’t much different than our drive to Kentucky. Maddie wasn’t too thrilled when she learned that we would be driving on her birthday, but she got over it. We made sure to emphasize how special it was for her to be on her way to a Disney cruise on her birthday!

Maddie and I spent most of the day together as she had two different appointments. In between her appointments, we went to the toy store so that she could pick out something for her birthday. She decided on a Frozen set with younger Anna and Elsa ice skating figures. We had only started to realize how much Frozen had influenced Maddie by this point! She got a special balloon for her birthday, and we headed to breakfast at her favorite place (where she always gets chocolate chip pancakes).

We ran back to the house to put all the luggage in the car, and then headed to her next appointment. After that appointment, we picked up Cullen. The cleaners were scheduled for that day. I liked the idea of coming back to a clean house, so this was fine with us! They were finishing up when we got back home, ready to pick up Daddy and hit the road.

We had a few last minute errands to run, so we didn’t get going quite as early as we had hoped. We picked up an adorable cake for Maddie to celebrate her birthday on the road. We were driving about halfway to Savannah, and we had very little traffic for most of the ride. We stopped for dinner which was subpar, but we enjoyed the cute cake! Maddie loved it.

We had a very easy time until about 30 miles from our hotel when we witnessed an accident that was a bit scary! Two 18-wheeler trucks smashed a small car between them right in front of us. Bits and pieces of debris from the car were flying everywhere. Thankfully, the smashed car didn’t lose control and ended up pulling over after pulling ahead of one of the trucks. We were shocked that neither truck stopped to be sure that they were ok. They had to have known that they smashed the car! That was crazy. We called the highway patrol to report the incident with all the information that we had. That left me shaking with adrenaline until we got to the hotel.

We stayed at the Savannah Airport Embassy Suites, and we were impressed. The suites were similar to another Embassy that we’ve stayed at that is tailored more to business travelers. It worked out fine for us, and the kids settled pretty quickly. They had both slept in the car a little bit.

In the morning, we had breakfast at the hotel. We were less than impressed with the breakfast, but it was “free” and adequate. We ran into more traffic issues on Friday between Savannah and Port Canaveral. We also encountered heavy downpours quite a few times, and the kids needed to stop for the potty numerous times. We arrived at The DoubleTree Hotel Cocoa Beach Oceanfront around 5pm. We chose this one because it was the most expensive option that we could pick for the same number of HHonors points. We weren’t impressed, but it was fine for one night. We didn’t take advantage of the location on the beach since it was rainy and overcast during our short stay (not to mention that we were exhausted from the drive).

We decided to get dinner in the hotel. The kids were definitely getting restless from all the driving in the car. They were pretty good on the drive down, but they were really trying our patience in the evening! We had two double beds. I shared a bed with Cullen while Gabe shared a bed with Maddie. I don’t know how often we would want to repeat this tactic! I didn’t sleep particularly well, though I’m not sure it was all Cullen’s fault. He was snoring, talking in his sleep, grinding his teeth, and taking up most of the bed, so that was certainly part of it! I had forgotten to put my phone in “do not disturb” mode, so I think some notifications kept waking me up, too. And I think I was just generally excited about the trip! I ended up being awake for the day and unable to go back to sleep by 4am.

Once everyone was awake and ready, we went downstairs for a free breakfast that we had been comped when our room wasn’t quite ready upon arrival. The “free” breakfast was pretty pathetic. Some fruit, cereal, pastries, and toast. The options were quite limited. I’m glad we didn’t end up paying for that breakfast! We knew we’d have plenty of food once we got onto the ship!

It was a dreary, drizzly morning, but we were all excited. We repacked some of our bags as we decided we probably wouldn’t be taking advantage of the swimsuits before getting the rest of our luggage later in the afternoon. It was good to lighten our load a little with our carry on bags.

We weren’t sure exactly where we needed to go and took a little longer to get there due to some wrong turns, but we made our way to the terminal right on time for the earliest check in time. It was exciting to get glimpses of our ship as we neared the terminals. We parked right across from the terminal in a spot that was less than 50 yards to the entrance. We were very pleased with the convenience, and parking was $120 for the week.

We registered up as early as we could, so we could board as early as possible. We were able to get the first boarding time. We always like to take advantage of the lunch on the ship as well as give ourselves a chance to get to know the ship a bit before departing. We had some lines to wait in to get through security, and some more lines to check in and get our boarding number. We had some time to wait until they started calling the boarding numbers, and the kids were antsy. Just as we experienced when waiting to get into the parks, the kids were bickering and fighting a bit. We wandered around, snapped a photo with Olaf (from Frozen, of course), and tried to keep the kids from driving us crazy.

We were excited when Minnie Mouse showed up in the terminal, and we made our way to her and got in line to meet her. This meant we were in another line, but it helped the wait for the ship go by quicker. While we were waiting for Minnie, Gabe’s parents showed up and were able to hop in line and get their picture, too. The timing was perfect as they showed up just as we were about to be next!

I like how the photographers are nice about suggesting different group shots (kids only, grandparents with kids, parents with kids, whole group) rather than making us feel guilty about doing multiple shots.

Gabe’s parents went to get checked in and get their cards. While they were in that line, they started calling boarding numbers. Ours was #2, and they go through the numbers very quickly. We went through the ears and had to wait in another line to get our boarding photo.

I’m a fan of these types of pictures, and we already knew we were going to buy the photo CD at the end of the cruise. Our boarding pictures turned out pretty well, too!

After our photo, we were able to board the ship…and I’ll save the rest of the official parts of Day 1 for the next post!

The Sunday Somethings, 24jun12

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

Something I’m thinking: I really want to go to Cars Land in California. It’s too bad it’s on the wrong coast. It just looks so neat!

Something I’m reading: Just finished 11/22/63 this evening, cutting it close for book club tomorrow! I think that I will start Unbroken, though it’s quite early for book club. The waiting list for the kindle version at the library is super long, and I have it on my kindle from the library (until I turn the wifi back on…). I feel like I should go ahead and read it instead of running the risk of having to pay for it!

Something I’m watching: We watched Despicable Me with the kids in preparation for the sequel this summer. It might be another great family movie for us! Gabe and I also went last night (Monday, since I’m publishing my Sunday report on a Tuesday) to see Brave. We wanted to enjoy it without the kids, but now I’m especially glad we saw it without them as I think it might be scary and/or boring for them. It was very different from other Pixar movies. We enjoyed it, but I didn’t enjoy it in the same way that I have enjoyed Pixar movies in the past. And I’m enjoying Bunheads!

Something I’m playing: We all played Candy Land together as a family. Maddie still doesn’t like to lose! Gabe and I are still playing Valor (for him only) and Mystery Manor (for both of us) on our iPads.

Something I’m creating: I don’t know if you can call it “creating,” but I have been making progress on sorting recent photos. I still am way behind for most of the year and still haven’t finished up the cruise from December.

Something about both kiddos: They have been fighting relentlessly over Princess Minnie. I finally broke down and called Disney Parks Merchandise to mail order a second Princess Minnie. I’m pretty sure that when everyone has a Princess Minnie, nobody will care about either one…but it will be worth it for the sake of our sanity.

Something Maddie is doing (52 months old): She has started personifying things, like “Mr. Spoon is getting applesauce” (ok, that’s not a real example, but I am unable to think of one when I need it). I am not sure where she picked up on that. She also sometimes says that things are boring or that there’s “nothing to do.” I didn’t know that “I’m bored” stuff started so early! She now says that she is scared sometimes when watching movies. That’s new. She gets scared at random things (not necessarily the things you would expect). One thing that she has been doing a while is answering questions for her brother when she’s the one asking them. She will ask Cullen a question like, “Cullen, do you want to give me that toy? Say yes. Say yes, Cullen.” We’re trying to break her of that habit. She has been coming to our bed almost every night between 4 and 6:30am. The whole “you can’t come out of your room until the first number is 7″ thing seems to be out the window at the moment. We don’t mind as long as she sleeps. If it is before 6am, she goes to sleep and it’s no problem. If it’s after that, she wiggles and whispers and drives us crazy. That’s when we send her back to her room until her clock says 7. She does pretty well with “quiet time” when we give her a time to come out of her room. If we make quiet time too long, then she will inevitably come out at some point and complain that “it’s never going to be 3″ or that her clock is somehow broken. Her teachers said that she was really hard on herself this week. Maddie has awesome penmanship, often not just for a 4-year old but for anyone. When she writes her letters, she easily gets frustrated and upset if it’s not perfect. We have been working with her that it doesn’t have to be perfect and that she’s doing a great job, but the child is already a perfectionist. When she writes thank you notes, she has to start over if she messes up. Rarely, we can get her to put a sticker on a mistake, but usually she has to get a fresh sheet of paper and start over.

Something Cullen is doing (29 months old): Cullen had some sort of fever bug that we were afraid was also a stomach bug as he threw up on the way home from school that day. Fortunately, that was the only incident, and he has seemed to be just fine today and yesterday. Lately, Cullen has been requesting us to improvise songs about things in his room or his books. He’s so funny! I love how he wants us to sing to him each night, and that he has a concept of making up songs. I also love that he thought the sprinkler looked like the strings of a violin. He pointed at the sprinkler and said, “It’s like a violin!” Cullen sings the “Popcorn” song by Barenaked Ladies and sometimes requests it before bed. We realized recently that instead of “popcorn kernels” he says “popcorn turtles.” Oh, and I asked him what he wanted to be for Halloween this year, not because I need to know this early, but I was curious what he would say. He wants to wear a dress so he can ‘turn’ (meaning he wants to twirl in a dress like Maddie). When I suggested he could be something like a pirate, he got mad and said, “NO, I WANT TO WEAR A DRESS!” I’m pretty sure we’ll be encouraging a few alternatives. A couple of weeks ago, when we had a park play date, I asked the kids, “Did you guys have fun?” Cullen’s reply was that he *almost* had fun. Last night, Cullen’s teacher babysat for us while we went to the movie. Cullen said to her, “you love me to the moon and back, just like Mommy.” She replied that she did. Cullen then said, “you would miss me if I went to the moon!”

Something I am struggling with: I have finally realized that I have migraines. I have thought maybe I have had them for a while, especially with some worse than usual headaches lately. I had a terrible migraine for most of Saturday. It was definitely a migraine. Ugh!

Something I’m looking forward to: Book club tomorrow! We’re also going to the beach with friends for part of the July 4th week! The kids are excited.

Something captured: Maddie on the carousel during our play date with two other families on Sunday.

Others writing The Sunday Somethings: Audrey

Cullen’s 15-month letter

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

I feel like a ton has happened in the past month. The time always goes by quickly, but I felt like I had a little break from the letter writing this time…for once. I can’t believe I’m getting this thing out on time! Here’s the last monthly installment in letters to Cullen. My next letter to him will be in 3 months! (more…)

Cullen is 14 months old!

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

As of yesterday, Cullen is now 14 months old! He’s an amazing little boy, and we’re enjoying seeing all of his developments. It’s time for another letter to Cullen! (more…)

Happy (late) birthday, Cullen!

Saturday, January 29th, 2011

Cullen turned one a week ago, and I’ve been trying to get this letter done all week. It’s a long one. I can’t help myself. I always have so much to say! So, here’s the latest letter to Cullen. (more…)

Cullen’s 11 month letter

Friday, January 7th, 2011

So….Cullen turned 11 months a few days before Christmas. With family visiting, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and a stomach bug, I haven’t had a chance to post the letter. I did write most of it just before Christmas, but it took me a bit longer to organize the photos. What else is new? So, here’s Cullen’s last monthly letter before he turns 1! (more…)

The Sunday Somethings, 12dec10

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

I really debated just skipping this week, but I had things I wanted to make sure to write down about the kids and the goings on in our household….obviously, we’ve been busy!

Something that makes me happy: My annual Christmas date with Audrey Podrey. We had a wonderful time last night (yes, Wednesday) at Sitti and at the theater for the stage adaptation of A Christmas Story. I intend to write a review of each, as I have done after our past Christmas dates. We’ll see if that actually happens. Lately, I’ve had more blog posts in my head than on the actual blog.

Something I’m thinking: I’m using our hour delay from work this morning (due to the yucky winter weather overnight) wisely.

Something I’m hoping: I’m hoping to send out my holiday cards tomorrow by Saturday. I had my cards ordered so early this year, but then some corrections had to be made and it took an extra month to get them right (the delays were mostly my fault). You would think that I could get the cards out early this year.

Something happening around the house: This is the third time that we’ve had a dusting of snow on the ground already. This winter scares me. Gabe put up our outdoor decorations and spent quite a bit of time trying to find the bad bulbs in a long strand. I hear it was quite the frustrating process. We have some new lights this year, including a few bush nets that cover a couple of our bushes. Unfortunately, the bush lights are almost blue as they are LED lights and not the yellowish Christmas light white. I think it bothers both of us somewhat! I say we just go for the complete Griswold house and make sure that every bush is a different color (and blinking).

Something I’m reading: Umm…since I’m covering almost two weeks here, I’m finding it difficult to remember everything that happened. I finished The Secret History just in time for last week’s book club! Book club was great. We had an awesome turnout, and I enjoyed visiting with friends. I haven’t started my next book yet. I haven’t had time to do anything like that!

Something I’m watching: Maddie and I ran some errands last weekend. We were able to get a little shopping done, and I also picked up a collection of classic Christmas movies. We now have Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman. I think Maddie is enjoying seeing the movies of the songs we’ve been singing! Hooray for classic holiday fun!

Something I’m playing: Ooh, we did get a chance to play Dominion with the new Prosperity expansion that we received as a gift. We also played poker for the first time since our last annual holiday tournament. Gabe and I both placed “in the money.” I think that’s the first time that we both placed in the same tournament.

Something tasty: I didn’t have many dairy free options at the Nordstrom’s cafe when we went to visit the mall Santa, but the sandwich that I had was yummy! It wasn’t something that I would have ordered without the dairy restrictions. I also made truffles for the teachers at school, though I can’t say for myself that they were tasty. I heard from Gabe and the teachers that they were yummy! Last night’s dinner at Sitti was also very good.

Something Maddie is doing (33 months old): Maddie and I made a gingerbread train together a few nights ago! That was a fun mommy/daughter project. Gabe thought it was funny, I think. We made a good effort, but it was a bit of a messy result. Maddie said, “it looks just like on the box! Look, they are both colorful! Ours is colorful like that one!” It was colorful, but that’s where the resemblance ended. Gabe took a photo of our train next to the one depicted on the box. It makes him laugh. Maddie did great with her Santa visit (last week, you know the week that we’re supposed to be covering with this set of somethings). She didn’t smile naturally either time, though the second take worked out much better. She asked Santa for a baby doll with hair and cars and even said, “please.” I was proud of my sweet little girl! Maddie is very into playing with her baby doll these days. She’s even getting good at getting her tricky outfit back on (and has been great at taking it off for a long time). I hear from her teachers that she can play at the baby doll station for an hour. She’s recently picked up on my habit (one of those that I didn’t know I had) of saying, “awwwww…” in too many situations. Once she started doing it, I realized how often I said it myself. It’s cute when she does it, and it now annoys myself when I do it! She uses it appropriately, like when someone gives her something (as in “awww, that was sweet, you didn’t have to do that!”) or when something is cute. She has been going to bed later and later (or rather, resisting sleep later and later). I think we’re going to have to start with a later bedtime and move it back slowly (like we had to do shortly after Cullen was born, at the pediatrician’s advice). She has been more aggressive towards Cullen lately, resulting in time outs for her. She has been very good about going to time out and then discussing what she did wrong and apologizing to the wronged party afterward. She has said some funny things lately, like the other day when Gabe brought her apple juice to have with her dinner. She said, “that was a good call, Daddy. Apple juice is a good call.” And at the poker table the other day, I asked Maddie who we like to see at the poker table and she said, “donkeys.” (yes, I taught her that). I asked her if she saw any donkeys at the poker table, and without skipping a beat, she pointed at her daddy and said, “Gabe.” Too funny!

Something Cullen is doing (46 weeks old): Cullen visited Santa for the first time. He wasn’t smiley in the photos as he decided to go for the serious look. I was surprised that he took everything so well! He didn’t seem to mind sitting on Santa’s lap and was very calm. Cullen has had some rough nights since my last somethings, but I guess what else is new? We have made a few more trips to the doctor. One night while Gabe was still out of town, Cullen screamed so much that I figured something must really be wrong. I thought maybe he needed to have better reflux meds. They weren’t comfortable with giving him more reflux meds. We did find out that he gained a pound and a half in a month, which was a factor in them not wanting to give him more reflux meds. The weight gain was good, at least. His nights continue to be bad. We stopped his reflux medication altogether and plan to reintroduce dairy again (into my diet) in a few weeks. It’s hard to know what pieces of the puzzle were really helping him since we started the reflux medication and stopped the dairy at the same time. On our second visit, the pediatrician has come to the conclusion that he’s possibly a really awful teether (it is true that all of this started around the same time that he started getting teeth) and/or he is overtired. It’s a constant guessing game! Meanwhile, I could really use some more sleep. On the plus side, one of the suggestions that the pediatrician made was to co-sleep a larger portion of the night (though at the time, I’m not sure she realized how much Cullen is really in the bed at night). It was nice to know that the pediatrician was supportive and not trying to get us to Ferberize. In more positive news, Cullen started saying, “ball.” It seemed like coincidence the first few times, but he consistently referred to the ball as “ba” and was having a great time throwing it around. I guess you can say his first word is “ball!” He has been saying “mama” and “dada” while referring to us more consistently, but I’m not sure whether those really count as words or not. Cullen has also started pointing, sometimes, for things that he wants. He did this for the first time at the breakfast table the other day when he ran out of Chex. Chex are his current favorite cereal. He prefers them over Kix (which he prefers over Cheerios). He’s pulling up on everything and loves to stand. He’s cruising along the couch, when he gets a chance.

Something I am struggling with: I struggled with putting the kids to bed while Gabe was out of town. Two of the nights were particularly bad! I was so happy to have him back home.

Something I’m doing towards my goals: I signed up for a cake decorating class! I’m excited about it and hope to be able to try out my new skills on the kids’ birthday cakes next year. The class starts in January and is four sessions. I’ll have taken half of them by the time Cullen’s birthday rolls around. I have been setting mini goals for myself each night, but I haven’t been completely successful every time. My biggest goal right now is to get those holiday cards done.

Something I learned: I learned that putting together a gingerbread house (or train) is a little trickier than it would seem! Also, I learned that I should have assembled the “house” and waited a day to put on the candy. My train was not very stable! Maddie wasn’t able to put the candy on the house by herself since it was about to fall over. She did tell me where to place things. Next time, I’ll make sure the “house” is sturdy before we start decorating. It seems pretty sturdy now, a few days later!

Something I’m looking forward to: Well, since it is now late Thursday evening and the next Somethings are in just a few days, we don’t have much planned between now and then. I am looking forward to both classroom holiday parties. They are both tomorrow.

Something random: My low tire pressure indicator came on in the car again on Tuesday. I thought that it was just cold and thought about ignoring it and asking Gabe to check the tires later that night. Something made me check the pressure and take it across the street to the tire place. I tried to wave someone down from the parking lot as I didn’t want to unload the kiddos if I could help it. They asked me to pull up to the garage, and then they got someone to pull the car all the way into the garage (with my kiddos in the back, so that was a little odd for me). They checked each tire and filled it to the proper tire pressure. The tires were all pretty low, but the lowest one was 28 psi when I checked it. It had already dropped to 26 psi. I can’t believe how lucky it is that I had checked that tire’s pressure (and only that tire’s pressure) before heading to the service station. I told the guy that the pressure had dropped pretty rapidly, so he looked for a nail. Sure enough, we had a nail in the tire. They fixed it for free! I felt pretty lucky to have the tire pressure indicator in the car, to have checked the tire pressure and take it to the service station and that I checked the tire that was going flat! I’m glad that we didn’t have a flat on the interstate on the way home. Whew!

Something captured: It’s hard to get photos of the two of them together these days.

Others writing The Sunday Somethings: Audrey

Half a year, already?

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

Wow. I thought time passed quickly with Maddie, but it’s just crazy now with the two kids. I can’t believe that my sweet baby boy is already 6 months old. He’ll be in college before I can blink. This must mean that it’s time for another letter to Cullen. (more…)

The Sunday Somethings, 11jul10

Sunday, July 11th, 2010

Something that makes me happy: Planning (and going on) vacations makes me happy!

Something I’m thinking: I’m thinking about getting some of those new designer diapers from Pampers. I saw them in Target the other day, and I was tempted!

Something I’m hoping: I’m hoping to take better photos of Cullen than I have been taking lately. I’ve been lazy and many days the only photo I have taken has been on the iPhone. The iPhone’s photos aren’t as good as the small camera (and definitely not as good as the SLR, obviously).

Something happening around the house: We had our friend Shannon watch the kids on Friday so that we could go to a dinner and a movie. It was strange being out of the house together without the kids. This was the first time since Cullen was born that we managed to do it. The next time will probably be for the Jack Johnson concert next month.

Something I’m reading: I started reading Little Earthquakes, the revised book club book for July. I don’t know if I will be able to finish it in time or not. I have plenty of time, theoretically. I just haven’t made much time for reading lately.

Something I’m watching: I was sad that Babies left the theaters before I could see it. Darn! Guess I will have to netflix it. I did manage to see Eclipse and Toy Story 3 in the theater. Wow, I can’t believe I saw two movies in one week! We also watched the first few episodes of Supernatural which is a bit creepy so far.

Something I’m playing: Gabe and I have been playing a lot of Words with Friends and iAssociate on our iPhones!

Something tasty: We had dinner at Lucky 32 Friday night for the first time in a while.

Something Maddie is doing (28 months old): She was doing great with potty training, but we had a couple of setbacks this weekend. Yesterday, she had a tiny accident while playing with a buddy. She wet herself a little and stopped herself and did the rest of the potty. But then after bath, she peed on the floor before getting her clothes on and announced happily that she had done so. Nice. She did the same thing again this morning, so I’m not sure what’s going on with her. We aren’t making a big deal of it and tell her that “peepee belongs in the potty.” Maybe she’s just trying to get attention. She had no other accidents this week, not even at night. I can’t believe how few nighttime accidents that we have had so far (only a couple in that first week). In other Maddie news, she continues to love singing songs. She loves her baby brother. She is very much into doing everything herself from climbing into her high chair or car seat to pouring her own drinks to dressing herself. She refuses to let us dress her and has to do it ALL by herself. She’s pretty good at it, but she’s not always the fastest dresser. Parenting a toddler takes a lot of patience!

Something Cullen is doing (24 weeks old): He started sleeping on his belly this week. I think that he’s more comfortable. He hasn’t miraculously slept through the night or anything, but I think we’ve been able to get him to sleep a little longer in the bassinet sometimes. Maybe. He still spends most of the night in the bed (NOT on his belly). Cullen gets compliments on his smile and his blue eyes everywhere he goes. He has a great smile. He’s so pleasant to be around (most of the time!). He loves his jumperoo. He seemed to be rolling over with more purpose this week. It seemed like he was rolling to reach things and for movement. He is good at spinning around on his belly when he’s playing on the floor. He explores everything by putting it in his mouth. He drools excessively. He’s wearing 9 month sized clothing (and has been for a little while). He’s getting close to being able to sit on his own.

Something I am struggling with: Keeping up with photos. Now that the first half of the year has passed, I had hoped to start on “volume 1″ of our photobook for 2010. I still need to organize quite a few photos from the first half of the year (including getting them on the website…I am still in April for those).

Something I learned: I learned that the front camera on my iPhone does not have as good resolution as the regular camera. Oh well, it’s still useful!

Something I’m looking forward to: Gabe’s mom is visiting soon, and we’re going to go to the beach for a couple days.

Something captured: My kiddos. They were both amused to see themselves on the iPhone while I took this photo with the front facing camera. Maddie had been singing “Where is Thumbkin” to Cullen, hence the sock puppets.

Others writing The Sunday Somethings: Audrey

Happy 5 months, Cullen!

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

These months are going by so fast with the two kids. It’s time for another edition of letters to Cullen! (more…)