Thursday, February 16, 2017

Disney Wonder 2017

In January we took our fifth Disney Cruise. We cruised the Disney Wonder from Galveston Texas to San Juan Puerto Rico. It was wonderful, as is usual with Disney cruises. The four of us traveled with both Grandmas, just like we did last year. We booked this trip on our last cruise. It was 6 nights, and the ports were Cozumel, Grand Cayman, and Falmouth, Jamaica.

We used points to fly direct to IAH. It was on an EMB 170, and the flight (made longer due to weather) felt long on the plane. So be it. Ativan and a beer did its job. It was direct, which was my request.

When we got to the airport, we got our luggage and met our driver. Steve had researched the best way to get from Houston to Galveston, and we ultimately decided on a limo. Since we were traveling with 6 people, the cost wasn't all that much more than a shuttle service. Car rental wasn't an option since returning it was nearly impossible. We used Royal Carriages, and were very pleased. We got the black stretch limo, I think it was a Lincoln. It was perfectly nice and clean and new.

The kids calmly freaked out when they saw we got a limo! They still talk about how that was the coolest part of the trip.

Our driver was great. About halfway through the trip he rolled down the partition and asked if we wanted to stop by the space center. Sure...why not, even though I had no idea what we about to see.

We only spent a couple minutes there, but it was very cool! At one point I mentioned to the driver how cool this was for the pilot in the group.

We made our way into Galveston. What a cute little town! We stayed about three blocks from the pier. Steve picked out the Tremont House, and we were all very pleased. The hotel had a old-school, classic elegance to it. Our room was adjoining with the grandma's room. The rooms were very spacious. The ceilings were nice and tall (we were on the top floor) and the sofas were a nice touch. Steve and I enjoyed the rooftop bar that evening. I had two glasses of wine, but could certainly have had more since the atmosphere and company were perfect.

The next morning we relaxed and walked around some shops before we checked out and boarded the ship. As usual, the check-in wasn't bad, and before we knew it our boarding group was called. It was a matter of minutes before we got ourselves to the pool and started to enjoy the sunny afternoon. Luckily the weather was perfect for swimming - mid 70's and sunny. Since this was our third time on the ship, we already knew where everything was so no need to explore the ship. We just drove right into vacation mode!


Our first day was at sea, so we just did stuff around the ship. Swam. Relaxed. Drank. It was all good.

Day 3 took us to Cozumel. Not one of my favorite ports...never has been. I actually don't care for the main cruise ports in the Caribbean. Steve and Ben went on a submarine excursion, while the gals just shopped. Cici's treat for the day was to get her hair braided. I hadn't done that for her before, and I have to say it was awesome. She can get very fussy with brushing her hair, so this reduced a lot of fights. It was simple and easy for the rest of the cruise.



The kids also got bracelets. And wouldn't you know it, they actually had one with "Cecilia"! I was so excited for her, since in the states you just don't find her name to be common.

Before we headed back the ship, we made sure to get a selfie. The Magic and Wonder (sister ships) were docked next to one another:

We met up with the boys back on the ship. That afternoon many men were happy that Disney was playing a playoff game on their huge screen at the pool.
Beer, football, sun...yes, please.
And what happens after beer and sun? A nap.


The next day was supposed to be Grand Cayman, but due to rough seas we didn't make it. It is a tender port, so rough seas makes for a potentially dangerous situation with the tender boats. I was sad to have missed Grand Cayman, but vodka and grapefruit kept me company that afternoon. The kids hung at the kids club for a bit, so we got some adult time at the adult pool.

Pirate night was that evening. Seeing how it was our 5th Disney cruise we decided to forgo the deck party and show. Instead we hung in our cabin and watched the fireworks from our balcony.



We went to Falmouth Jamaica the next day. We just LOVE Jamaica, and our stop there just reaffirmed our love. We did an excursion to the Green Grotto Caves which then lead to a lunch on the beach. Our bus driver was bad...like, so bad I needed an IV of Ativan, like pronto. He was driving a coach bus like it was a BMW. He was driving fast, taking turns too quickly, and braking too late. I was not happy. Aside from the driver, the excursion was great. Well, Cici had her moments. But, so be it. 


Steve addressing Cici and her sassy attitude.

Again, Steve talking to Cici about her sas.
Lunch at the beach was really nice, until Cici decided to not follow rules. The host told us to wear shoes in the water, since there are sea urchins. What did Cici refuse to do? Wear shoes. Homegirl wasn't going to go into the water without shoes. So, she decided to throw an epic fit.
from zero to...

100, in a matter of seconds.

There was no "irie mon" happening. Her fit was horrible, and lasted probably 15 minutes. During a recent date, Steve and I were discussing this. She is one tough kid to parent at times. My hope is that her strong will carry into adulthood, and that is where this attribute will be advantageous.


Our last day was a day at sea, and just wonderful. 

The cruise ended in San Juan Puerto Rico. It arrived on a Thursday, so we planned to stay two nights. We figured we would extend the vacation, explore the area, and take a direct flight home on Saturday. We stayed at the Hilton Caribe, based on a solid recommendation. We were very pleased. We ended up staying in a suite, I think the Governor's Suite, due to the fact that we had 6 people in our group. That space was really great...kitchen, dining room, living room, 2 separate bedrooms, 4 balconies. The pools were nice. The beach chairs were plentiful. The beach was fine, even though I saw a bit of trash on the beach, as in a couple bottle tops and maybe a plastic bottle here or there. Coming off a Disney ship my standards were high, so I had to remind myself of that. 

One of the great things about the Hilton was the shop across the street. I loaded up on beer and snacks there, which was much easier on the wallet than Hilton prices. Next to the shop was a small diner, let's call it, with really good and reasonably priced food. We ended up eating dinner in the room both nights. We got take out for the Italian restaurant across the street. As Steve and I would wait for the food we would have a drink at the outdoor bar. Beer the first night and then sangria the next. It was nice to have a little one on one time.

The day we arrived at the Hilton we just chilled at the hotel. The morning of the next day we headed into Old San Juan. Steve and I fell in love. It is the perfect blend of European and Caribbean. You could get lost in the streets. We really enjoyed our time there...but with two little ones we knew our time was limited before they totally melted down. That afternoon and into the evening we got some beach time. It was great.

Here are a couple pictures from San Juan.
the iguanas were plentiful, and very fun. They would swim in the pool, and even hide under your beach chair.

the kids had their hand at snuba 

breakfast on the balcony...we were on the top floor and the view was just amazing

pigeons in a square in Old San Juan. Very European.
Ben's rash that developed a couple days later may or may not have come from these guys.  
my favorite street, with my favorite tree...reminds me of Mr. Snufalumpagus

fort in Old San Juan

the kids with the grandmas

the kids loved the parrots in the hotel lobby

Our direct flight home departed around 13:00 something. We had a nice relaxed morning, and the kids and Steve even got a little beach/pool/hot tub time.

Steve knew both the CA and FO on our flight. Knowing about the guys up there always help ease my anxiety. Ben and I got first class, which was a perfect way to end the trip.

Cici is only 7, so in a short couple months she will be allowed to sit up front too. She can't wait!


So, there you have it, our 5th Disney cruise.

Sadly, we don't think we will be cruising Disney again for a bit. As much as I just love the magic around the Disney ships, I think we are aging out of them. Ben is 9, and he didn't really get into the clubs this year. He wondered the ship a decent amount, and found himself bored at times. The next age group for a kids club is 11, so I think we will rethink once Cici is 11.

We have, however, booked a fall cruise on Royal Caribbean. Steve and I have cruised Royal about 4 or 5 times already, and we are looking forward to the upcoming trip. Now that the kids are getting older, we may find the bigger ships to be more suitable for them.

So, there you have it, a summary of our recent cruise.




Saturday, February 11, 2017

Love

Steve and I met at a dance club in March of 1999. We dated for about six weeks before I called it off. Simply put, I wasn't ready for a new relationship. Steve was a great guy, but my mind wasn't in the right place.

The night I broke up with him started with a date. He knew something was coming, because earlier in the day I told him "we needed to talk." He picked me up at my college dorm, and we drove back to his house which took about 45 minutes. We ate pizza and watched a movie (You've Got Mail). On the drive home I broke up with him. He was crushed. He parked in front of my dorm to drop me off. As I was about to open the car door and leave, Steve told me that he loved me. He was truly afraid that he would never see me again, and had to tell me.

At the time, I thought he was nuts for loving me after a short six weeks. Who could love someone after only six week? I went from stranger to loved in six week. Nuts, right?  Now, I know better. Here we are, nearly 18 years later, and I realize how lucky I am to be married to a man who loves me as much as he does.

As I constantly say in my blog, something always triggers my posts. And this post was triggered by a recent cruise we took. It was our fifth Disney Cruise, and as usual it was a delight. For some reason I was hit with this overwhelming theme of love during this cruise.

Our cruise departed on Inauguration Day. I have to admit, I was glad to miss all the news for that week. I wanted to focus on family, togetherness, relaxation, sun...afterall, it was vacation! If you read my blog regularly, you know I was less than thrilled with the election results. I can't change the results of the election, but what I can do it focus on the good around me, the goodness in people, and the love in this world. Love trumps hate. This has been in the back of my mind consistently for the last number of months, and the combination of the new President and the cruise really just set the love theme.

The cruise started off great, and the weather was perfect the afternoon we boarded the ship.


I am a visual person - hence, my large eyes. I am always looking around me, and just taking it all in. I have a very visual memory. Ask me what you wore to an event 2 years ago, and I will tell you exactly, down to your shoes. This is all just elevated when I am around a lot of people...I am constantly looking around observing people.

What happens when you are on a cruise ship in the Caribbean? Swimming. Sun bathing. What do you wear when swimming or sun bathing? Bathing suits. Being the visual person I am, I look. Not in a judgmental way...just observing. My body, like most mothers, didn't come out of pregnancy the same way it went into it. Stretch marks. Stretched skin. Sagging stuff. Oh, and I love that my abdominal muscles split down the center when I was 20 something weeks pregnant. That was just lovely. All those years of sports, making for a strong core, down the tubes. A woman's body goes through the ringer during pregnancy and delivery. Why do we do it, sometimes over and over again? Love.

That love starts even before conception. You stop taking birth control pills months in advance of wanting to conceive. You start taking multi-vitamins with folic acid months in advance of wanting to conceive. You make sure your body is prepared as possible to welcome a fetus.

And then when you are expecting, you try to stay as healthy as possible. You don't drink or smoke or do drugs. You eat as healthy as possible. You realize that anything you do to/for your body will impact the child you are carrying. And all this before you ever met your little one. This is all a mother's love.

Back in the day, when I had more time on my hands, I was super fit. I played collegiate volleyball, which carried with me well past school. I worked out. I ate clean. I was strong. I was lean.
cruise, circa 2005. Before kids.
Just noticing this now...Steve was a CA at the time. How can you tell?
Notice the farmers tan on his left arm?! So funny

Now? I wear a one piece bathing suit.

I am still strong, and let's call it somewhat lean. I am not nearly as fit as I once was. Yes, I could devote more time to get my body back into the shape it once was, but my priority isn't to look like a supermodel in a bikini. My priorities are wellness based. The numbers I am concerned with are no longer pounds on the scale, but rather my resting heart rate and the like. My priority is also to raise my children to understand the importance of a nutritious diet and a healthy active lifestyle. I am hyper aware of this because of my daughter. I want her to have high self-esteem and self-confidence. Especially when we live in a country where people are body shaming the very talented Lady Gaga. The woman is an amazing artist, yet some people choose to focus only on the way her body looks. I could write an entire post on this topic...

What am I getting at? A mother's body isn't the same as the 20-something body it was when you first met your husband. And guess what? It doesn't matter. Why? Because Steve still loves me despite any changes. He sees past any imperfection, and loves me for who I have become. This is true for many, if not most couples.

And the same goes in reverse, the love I have for him grows deeper every year despite any imperfections. Granted his body wasn't impacted from pregnancies. But, his job has taken a toll on him and I can see it on his face. Long days, dehydration, extreme focus, short rest, ect. But, this also shows how hard he works for us to keep us comfortable and happy. And why does he do it all? His love for us.

When I would look around this ship and see all the families...of all different shapes and sizes and colors... I saw so much love. I saw so many people enjoying one another, and enjoying life. You really could feel the love. Whether it be the mother snuggled up with her child on a chair on the pool deck, or the dad sitting by a stroller with a baby comfortably sleeping inside, or the grandparent watching with delight as their grandson enjoyed an ice cream cone. These little moments reminded me that despite any chatter around us, love is an incredible force that can overcome so much, and drown out so much bad.

Now, let me switch gears away from the passengers on the ship and discuss the crew members.  Dwight was an awesome bar server from Jamaica. The man works hard. He was super friendly and quick. He always had a smile on his face. He was great to chat with. He was awesome. He is also the father of two young children back home, and a husband to his wife of nine years. He works hard, and is away from home for months at a time, all to provide for his family. What a great sacrifice - to be away from family - all for love of his family. He is like many crew on the ship. He is providing for his family from the sea. He is missing holidays and birthdays and anniversaries. I think I may have it bad as a pilot for a missed anniversary, but at least I can celebrate two days later...ship crew may have to celebrate missed anniversaries six months later.

Truth be told, I was working on this post for over a week now because I had a hard time writing it. I usually have a direction with each post, and I was having a hard time with the conclusion on this post. I also am driven by the political environment right now, but I don't want to get political on this blog so I need to filter my thoughts. Not to mention, this post doesn't stick with my usual pilot wife theme. I guess what I am trying to get at is that there is so much love in the world. Sometimes it is obvious and shows easily, while other times you have to dig a little deeper for it since it doesn't always show with a hug or a kiss. And to see love, well, it warms your heart. Love lightens your days. Love make you feel special. Love is very powerful. Love is empowering. Being around so much love on the cruise was truly wonderful. It makes you realize, despite the news around you, that people are inherently good. Love strengthens the family bond. To have love is to have a full life.


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Listen to the whispers

Black, suede, Cole Haan booties.

"Talk me out of them," I emailed my sister. "I just spent $200 on lamps, tell me I don't need them."

"Sorry, can't do that," she said. "Cole Haan for less than $100? I have to tell you to go for them."

"You are such a bad influence!" and with that I ordered the booties. With Amazon Prime they were supposed to be delivered in 2 days. Well, 3 days for Cole Haan due to extra processing time. Due to be delivered on Friday. Perfect. Just in time for my holiday dinner on Saturday.

Friday night, as I was driving out of the neighborhood to take the kids to Polish School I noticed the UPS truck. I noticed that he hadn't stopped at our house, and was past it. Wait, he should have had something for me!

A bit past 6p, I got the Amazon notice on my phone that the package has an attempted delivery at 5:13p, and will be redelivered on Monday.

Bullshit! I was home at 5:13pm. The driver was smoking crack. After a 20 minute conversation with a helpful Amazon customer service agent, I recognized that I wouldn't be getting my booties by Saturday evening. The outfit I had planned in my head wouldn't happen. At first I was quite pissed. But, this happened to be the day a gunman shot and killed people in the Fort Lauderdale airport. I got over myself pretty quickly.

I had a pair of black suede pumps at home that would perfectly compliment my outfit. The botched delivery was simply a whisper telling me that I didn't need the booties anyway. Make due with that you have.

***

I have made it known that my love language is physical touch. When the world gets busy, like around the holidays and when we have guests in our home, my love tank can drain a bit.

I have grown to tell Steve about my emptying love tank. I used to wait until it was fully drained, and then stew and stew over the fact that it was empty. And then I would unleash all that pent up pissed-off-ness. It was a bad situation. I am much better at alerting Steve when it needs filled. I am much better at not allowing my tank to get fully to E. It isn't always easy to tell Steve, because I want him to know my needs. I want him to read my mind. I want him to know my needs before I know them. I want my tank to constantly be full. But, with the realities of our life (traveling husband, and just general busyness) sometimes love tank work falls to the wayside...on both our sides.

I told Steve about my emptying tank the other day. That didn't go over well. His response wasn't what I was looking for, which set me off. I walked out of the house that morning, to go to work, without our usual hug and kiss. I just needed to leave. If I stayed for that hug and kiss I was either going to cry or punch him in the face. Neither of which were ideal. Leaving was the best route.

That day was the pits. I was upset. When I got home I was upset. It is never good when you are pissy with your spouse. Steve and I have a level marriage, meaning it isn't very often where we are pissy with one another. So, when we are, it takes its toll on the both of us.

The kids got home from school, and soon enough the kids and I were off to the church for our weekly dose of PSR (parish school of religion). I teach my youngest daughter's class. The lesson for the class couldn't have been any better timed. The lesson: listen to the whispers.

In a religious point of view, God will speak to you...it is up to you to listen and do as He asks. God asked Noah to build an arc. Noah listened, and did.

Now, push this teaching into your home and your marriage...listen to those whispers.


**

We bought new family room furniture. It wasn't cheap. Steve worked extra in December to help offset the cost of the furniture. He was flying a lot. Oh, and let's add the fact that with the new furniture comes new projects in said family room. Like installing a new fireplace mantel, reconfiguring the stereo speakers, and mounting the tv above the fireplace. Oh, and let's not forget about Christmas and constant travel for three days. This all takes time, and by months end Steve was exhausted. Like, really exhausted. So much so that he voiced how he just needed a break.

I may have laughed in his face when he said he needed a break. Break? With young kids? And with him traveling every week, thus condensing all family/home life in just 3 days a week? Ha!

My laugh didn't go over too well. Why? Because I didn't listen to Steve's whisper. Well, it wasn't quiet a whisper as much as a direct comment to me. But, either way he expressed himself and I ignored him.

**

Why do I bring this all up? Because I learned a lot from these experiences, and of course I want to share to all my readers. It is important to listen to those whispers around you, no matter how quiet or loud, and really take it to heart. When I am lying on top of Steve at night, that should clue him into my need to fill my love tank. (Attack of the 155 pound woman) When Steve voices to me that he is exhausted, I need to not schedule anything for him to do on his next set of days off, and just let him be.

If your wife mentions that she needs to get her roots done, then maybe make the appointment for her and tell her you will watch the kids. If your husband mentions that the house is messy, perhaps try your best to straighten it up before he gets home from his next trip.

Life is busy. Life is loud. But, take the time to listen to things around you. Take those whispers and act. Don't ignore them.

**

To close the story from that Monday, PSR class really lightened my mood. The kids are so sweet, and we had a great lesson. On our way home, the kids wanted Mexican fried ice cream for dinner. Any slight suggestion about eating out and I am all over it. Any excuse to not cook works for me! I called Steve on our way home, and suggested eating out. He accepted. Plus, he is usually gone on Monday evenings...sometimes a break from the norm is fun. We picked him up, and headed out. On our way into town I reached for his hand and held it. Such a slight little action, and it cleared the air. My heart was light. We had a really nice dinner. Just what the doctor ordered! And what a good lesson to have learned from all this.

can't everyone fit a straw between their two front teeth? 



Thursday, January 5, 2017

You know you are married to an airline pilot when... 2017 edition

One of my most popular blog posts is You know you are married to a pilot when... I wrote that nearly four years ago.  Time for a new edition!


You know you are married to a pilot when...

- you only make plans once he gets his schedule. And your plans are likely to change - trip trades, delays, ect.


- you are known for saying, "sorry, I can't make it. My husband has to work."


- You have more aviation pictures than the average person.  They range from pictures in the cockpit, to pictures in the engine cowlings...ah, let's throw a blimp picture in there, too.





- you make a point to go to Maho Beach in St. Marteen, just to see the planes arrive. And then you frame the picture when you get home.

Steve is in the navy shirt, with Ben on his shoulders.
Cici is in the blue tank, nearly covering her ears.



- you have a number of aircraft books lying around.  Chances are high they are military books

- you have a number of model airplanes on your bookshelves

- your child looks at a plane in the sky and yells "hi Daddy"

- you make sure his drink of choice is available upon his return home, so he can take a load off



- your duty day begins at 6:45a and doesn't stop until 9:30p every.single.day your pilot is gone. He bitches about a 14 hour duty day, and you roll your eyes.


- when you have a business trip to Vegas, of course he joins you



- you look at your husband while taxiing, and he is already sleeping



- you look into the sky often when he is gone, and smile when you see contrails. You think of him.





- you take the kids to dinner on random nights, just because you don't have the energy to cook. And then you send him a selfie.



- he isn't there for the first day of school.  You live...there is always next year.



- he packs the car. Of course, he packs the car.  Pilots are excellent at packing. And if you even try, he will take it all out and pack it again, his way. 





- when entering his domain (hotels), you stand clear and try your hardest to just blend in



- you pray that your sick dog doesn't pass away when he is on a trip, because how do you manage the death of a dog, and the impact on young children, by yourself?



- you have a ton of pictures with your kids wearing pilot hats





- your kid travels international first class (twice) at the age of 8-years-old. I didn't even fly on a plane until I was 15.



- you believe in only one God, unless you are non-reving, and then you pray to all the non-rev gods out there.


- non-rev international travel is just 6 hours away, but loads on your desired flight look full so you go to plan B. Talk about "rolling with it"


- you spent 10 hours in an airport trying to get on a flight. Finally, you get the last one out. You have to connect to get home. Your children think this is totally normal.


- you are thankful that he is back to work after 7 days off...because that means he has to shave. You have grown accustomed to a clean shave. Stubble hurts when you kiss. Plus, he keeps feeling his stubble, and that gets annoying to look at.


- you field phone calls from his parents. They call you because they don't know where he is. 

- you field phone calls from his friends, because they have been trying to get a hold of him for 24 hours and he isn't responding.

- you know he is calling from the crew room because he is talking very quietly.

- you have been known to yell out "don't move my shit, man!" when trying to find something - that he moved. But you can't call him because he is 37,000 feet above the earth. 

- you no longer think of Emilio Estevez and Rob Lowe when you hear the words 'St. Elmo's Fire'

- his activity on Facebook indicates he is awake. Nice to know he hits the internet before calling his beautiful wife to say 'good morning'

- he is due home in one hour. That means you have one hour to get the house back in order and cleaned up. You may have let things go over the last couple of days.