Saturday, October 12, 2019

Our First Disney Cruise

Hello and Happy Saturday!

We returned home on Thursday at 2 am from a 6 day cruise out of San Diego to Mexico. Our bags are mostly unpacked, the laundry is mostly done, and I mostly have my life together again (although the bar for that is quite low), so now I can document this great trip!

This is a long post and I know that only my mom will read to the end, but I wanted to get every detail down before I forget.

Months ago our friends Brad and Chessa mentioned they had booked their second Disney cruise after loving their first one and we couldn't ask to tag along fast enough. Their son Silo and their daughter Edie are good friends with Ina and Cora, so we knew the timing was perfect.

We waited until 10 days before we left to tell Ina and Cora, which was painful, but a smart decision, because they asked how long until we left approximately 10 times a day for 10 days. (You will quickly notice that Mira did not join us on this trip. The price of the cruise would have doubled to add a 5th person due to the cabin restrictions and she would not be allowed in kids club until she turned 3 years old. Although leaving her was a hard decision, I think it was the right one, as we could truly take advantage of everything this vacation had to offer. I also promised her I would take her to Paris when she turned 18.)

We left bright and early Friday morning for the airport. I had spent most of the night before looking for things I was convinced we needed and once again swore to clean out the girls' closets organized when I returned.

We breezily checked our bags and went through security and arrived at the gate minutes before they started boarding. We had the sweetest flight attendant who made the 3.5 hour flight fly by by making the girls "pink princess" drinks and even letting the kids watch a movie on her iPad. I love Southwest airlines.

Brad also packed us all breakfast burritos for the flight - what a guy!

The port in San Diego is right next to the airport, so after grabbing our bags and a 10 minute taxi ride, we were at the ship - 5 hours before our planned port arrival time. We decided that was more of a guideline and went through the process of boarding and checking our bags, going through security, and getting our room keys, but had to wait for about 3 hours to actually get on the ship. (Lesson learned - next time we will go grab some chips and salsa and wait for our actual port arrival time.)

When we boarded the ship they announced our name and the ship crew clapped for us. We remained absolutely spoiled for the next 5 days. After dropping off our bags, we headed to the lunch buffet and then explored the ship until we started leaving San Diego.

During the "Sail-a-wave" party, I noticed that my Facebook account was hacked and was trying to fix it. Dan was upset with me for being on my phone, which I understand, but I also didn't want people putting creepy things on my Facebook account, so we proceeded to fight about this for the next hour. I am mentioning this just to acknowledge that there are stressful moments in family vacations too.

That night we had dinner at Tiana's Place.

There was a live New Orleans style band with a huge bass and a saxophone. Tiana and Luis the alligator made their rounds as well. The spiced sea bass was absolutely amazing. After dinner everyone was exhausted from the day of travel and went to bed early, except for me and Chessa. We drank a cup of coffee with dessert and rallied to watch the first of three excellent Broadway quality shows the ship had to offer - The Golden Mickeys.

I woke up before my family most mornings on the ship and walked around Deck 4 while listening to my audiobook and watching the sunrise. When the kids woke up and were ready to eat we chose the restaurant style breakfast over the buffet - a much more relaxing way to start the day.

Cora was in heaven with unlimited bacon and Mickey waffles and I loved the made to order omelets and fruit bowls.

Day 2 was a "day at sea", so after breakfast we headed out to the pool deck to try out the slide and lounge chairs. The kids swam while watching movies on the giant screen above the pool, taking breaks only for ice cream and pizza.

At some points we took the kids to the Oceaneer Club, a closed off section of the ship stocked with video games, art activities, slides, movies, characters, and 50+ counselors fully prepared to entertain the children. Ina ran to make some sort of slime and Cora headed to Andy's room to go down the slide and the adults made a mad dash to the adult pool for some lounging and card playing.

After a forced nap we headed to dinner at Triton's place in our Halloween costumes for a Halloween Party and Trick or Treating after.

While waiting for Trick or Treating, we were hanging out in one of the lounges listening to live music when a man approached us and started doing AMAZING magic tricks with cards, coins, and rubber bands. Dan and I are still trying to figure out how he stuck a coin underneath my Fitbit.

After Trick or Treating we tried to hang for the Halloween party, but by this point it was 10:30 PM San Deigo time (12:30 AM our time), so we called it a night and went to bed.

We woke up the next morning docked in beautiful Cabo, Mexico. Before breakfast we were able to meet Hook and Smee (I accidentally deleted our family picture!)

and then Mickey in his Halloween costume

and lastly Cinderella. I think at first the girls didn't know what to think about the characters and were nervous to talk to them. I encouraged Ina to tell Mickey a joke and that seemed to break the ice.

Cinderella was particularly patient and lovely with the girls. Somehow their conservation went to the snake we have in our back yard and their sister who hits and bites and yells. Cinderella joked that Mira and her cat Lucifer would get along great.

We did the breakfast and swimming thing and after feeding the kids a hot dog we checked them into kids club and tindered off the ship to Cabo.

We didn't have a plan other than to walk around, which was unfortunately somewhat difficult due to all of the salespeople standing around asking if you want to buy something or go somewhere. I totally understand that this is how they make their money, but as a person who doesn't enjoy saying no, I was quickly uncomfortable. We found a place to relax, drink Micheladas and margaritas and hung around until it was time to get back on the ship and pick up the girls.

Funny story - Dan was talking to a friend we met on the ship about how someone in Cabo offered to sell him drugs. Ina, overhearing the conversation, piped up, "My mom makes GOOD drugs!"

Embarrassed, I tried to tell him I am a pharmacist who does research and by "good" drugs she meant drugs that do good things for people, like blood pressure medicine. I don't know if he bought it.

That night was pirate night on the ship, which had a special pirate themed dinner and then a pirate party on the deck after, which consisted of dancing, Captain Hook capturing the good guys, Pirate Mickey saving the day, and ended in fireworks over the ocean.

Also - this is how amazing a Disney cruise can be - in between dinner and the party we checked the kids into kids club so we could watch the Chiefs game at the sports bar.

We started Day 4 (another day at sea) off with breakfast and a princess gathering. Ina and Cora danced for Belle,

told Ariel about their pool and swim lessons,

and discussed exactly how Cinderella summons her fairy godmother. Cora was also so excited to show Cinderella her gloves, which she had accidentally forgotten the day before.

We swam for a bit (partook in the traveling bloody Mary cart)

and then headed to our favorite magician's magic show, where he wowed us with his "tiny plunger" trick.

We then watched the matinee showing of the live, Broadway version of Frozen, which was absolutely beyond amazing. Dan, who has been forced to watch the movie hundreds of times, was the first to give a standing ovation at the end.

Dinner was at Animator's Palate, which was my favorite restaurant on the ship. The walls are covered with screens that show the animation process of many characters, starting with blank canvas and ending with a full on shot from a movie.

After dinner we had a show and then our waiter Jose did a magic trick for the kids. I should say here that the wait staff was beyond amazing and so patient with the kids. They cut the kids' meat every night and brought them special requests that weren't on the menu. They showed them how to do origami and how to fold napkins. They brought them their favorite juice in the morning and Mickey ice cream bars every night.

Our room was also cleaned TWICE a day with cool blanket folding every night. Add that to 24/7 ice cream and real life will never be the same.

After dinner we checked the kids into kids club and played cards. When we were done I tried to pick them up, but Ina was playing an intense game that looked like dodge ball, but involved puff balls instead, so Cora and I left and just happened to run into Daisy.

After I changed Cora into her PJs we saw Minnie was out, and even though it was waaay past our bedtime I decided YOLO.

The last day the ship docked in Ensenada, but we mostly stayed on the ship, enjoying the slide, pool, and kids club counselors for one last day.

Cora fell asleep under the table during dinner, so she and Dan headed back to the room, while the rest of us saw the last, (still fantastic) Broadway show.

Ina read a whole book on the trip. When she wasn't reading, she was making friends with the lifeguards and learning all of the rules for the slide. She is a little like her mamma, in that relaxing is hard.

We disembarked the ship the last time at 8:30 AM and our flight didn't leave until 8:00 PM, so we made the last minute decision to head to the San Diego zoo where we really enjoyed some family time and soaked in the last day of our vacation.

What a fun trip! I am already looking at our next one.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Happy Fall!

Hi there and Happy Fall!

(We celebrated my birthday at the gym with one heck of a workout and carrot cake.)

The calendar says that fall starts on September 23rd, but my heart says fall starts the first time we visit a pumpkin patch, which is today, for our friend's birthday party. The girls are so excited. Every time I think of a pumpkin patch I am reminded of the fall that Mira was born and so many kind souls would take Ina and Cora on a trip out of the house for a few hours so that I could have a moment to sit and snuggle my baby. Bless them.

Also on today's agenda: eyebrow threading, church, flu shots at Target, packing for our trip next week, and watching the Chiefs game.

Last weekend a few of my friends and I packed our bags and drove to a VRBO in Kansas City for our second annual mom's weekend.

Of course we love our kids and husbands dearly, but having 48 hours of drastically decreased responsibility was absolutely lovely. We went out to dinner and brunch. We ate pretzels and Cheeze-its and drank wine.

We played so many cards, which made me pleased as punch. (Card game lovers - we loved Five Crowns- strongly recommend.)  We got ready on our own time, and then immediately changed into our pajamas. We discussed parenting, church, marriage, and of course, our kids. I am already looking forward to next year.

I returned home to find out we had the treat of having another guest from India for a week! David immediately won the girls' hearts over by teaching Ina how to draw stars, making chai tea, and giving them all beautiful purses from India.

We love having house guests and having the opportunity to learn about another culture makes everything more fun.

I hope we gave him a good picture of an American family. He was able to witness my sigh of relief as I closed the door when the girls left for the day, the hundred little tasks all complete. He also sat with us around the dinner table, telling stories about our day.

David was even able to join our small group for fellowship and he told us an amazing testimony. We were so sad to see him leave.

Last Friday was our church's dream team event. The theme was carnival and our church brought their A game. We had everything from cotton candy to nachos. Dan was in charge of the funnel cakes and I was in charge of the church's Instagram.

I laughed so hard I cried at our worship band and pastors. I love that no one there takes themselves too seriously.

Yesterday my aunt and uncle came for a short visit and tagged along to the girls dance events.

We had such blast with them. Ina was assigned her dance buddies. I don't know exactly what that means, but she was certainly excited about it.

The girls are all awake now, so time to get the day started!

A few recipes to share:

Crazy Good Korean Beef Tacos: we tripled the recipe for small group and everyone loved it.

Skillet veggie lasagna - we added sausage - very good and very easy.

Curry stand chicken tikka masala: yum
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