Friday, February 20, 2015

Disney Wonder 2015

We recently got back from a wonderful trip.  We went to Disney World's Magic Kingdom, and then a 5-day Disney cruise on the Disney Wonder, out of Port Miami.

All in all, it was a great trip.  The fact that we went to the Magic Kingdom for a day added stress on my shoulders, because there was just that much more planning involved.  But, it was worth it.  

Here is a brief outline of our trip:

Day 1: flew into MCO. 



Rented a car from Sixt. Overall, everything was great with this company.  We ultimately picked this company because they had a drop off location in downtown Miami.  And a $12 taxi fare later, we were right at the Disney terminal.  That couldn't have worked out better.

The one thing, however, is the car (Honda Accord) was beat up a bit.  I actually took pictures of the dings so that I could prove, if need be, that they were there before we drove the car.

That night we stayed at the Fairfield Inn & Suites Lake Buena Vista.  I used points for the hotel, so we were looking for a good value.  This place had free parking, and a nice hot breakfast in the morning.  The drive to the park was about 15-20 minutes, but that was okay.  That night we ate dinner at Mexican joint that was right next to the hotel.  It was nice to be able to walk to a restaurant, so both Steve and I could enjoy a cocktail or two.

Day 2: Magic Kingdom.  Got to the park around 9am, and stayed until the fireworks at 8p.  We got back to the hotel around 9p.  Stayed again at Fairfield Inn & Suites. 


It's a Small World...my favorite! 

Jungle Cruise selfie

After a long day, back on the Monorail, back to the parking lot.  


Day 3: We drove to Miami, and stayed at Courtyard Miami Lakes.  We thought about doing an airboat tour on the Everglades, but the weather was a bit spotty.  Instead, we just swam at the pool.  We had a great first floor room that had a slider out into the pool area.  Really nice and convenient. 

That evening we drove about 15 minutes to a nice outdoor shopping area.  Steve needed water shoes, and they had a DSW.  Also, we had a Cheesecake Factory gift card to use, and they had one there. It all worked out great.


Day 4: The Cruise!  I discovered I broke my favorite sunglasses, so we had to make a detour to Marshall's so that I could get a new pair.  Have you ever driven in MIA?  Holy shit, the highways are confusing.  It was cool, however, to drive on the highway right next to the airport! 

We finally got onto the ship around 1p, and headed right up to eat, drink, and swim!  Well, the kids swam while Steve and I drank beer.

What was your favorite thing about the cruise, Ben?
The ice cream!

Setting sail selfie


Day 5: Day at Sea, and Pirate Night

Morning snuggles




movie poolside
Ready for the pool


pirate night
Nice photo bomb, Steve!

seemingly thrilled about pirate night



Day 6: Grand Cayman

This is a tender port, and thankfully the seas were fine and we were able to get there.

We did the Dolphin Adventure excursion.  Highly recommend it!  It started with a tour of a green sea turtle farm.  I love turtles, so it was just so neat for me!



We then went across the street to where we got in the water with the dolphins.  Since the kids are so young, and aren't strong swimmers yet, we went with the low key excursion.  We all got to touch the dolphin, Esmeralda, and do some tricks with her.  Being so close to such a beautiful creature was really amazing.  We also got these great pictures, at a bargain price of $35 each.




After we got back to the ship, the kids got some pool time.


And that evening, Ben tried escargot!




Day 7: another day at sea. The kids had some time at the lab and club, while Steve and I had some time at the adult area of the ship.

The evening concluded with the formal night.  Well, I say formal night...Steve counted, and at dinner there were only three males wearing jackets, and Steve and Ben were two of the three.  I really don't understand why people don't get dressed up anymore.

Cici was too busy dancing to get into the picture


Day 8: Castaway Cay
But, due to the 37 knot winds they were not able to dock the ship.  After four attempts, they decided to abort.  So, another day at sea.

After the Captain made the announcement, I immediately thought of Renewed Pilot's Blog post about the exact same subject: Do You Believe Me?

I spent the day in shorts and a fleece, so the weather really wasn't ideal for swimming.  We watched a movie, took a fat nap, and just enjoyed the last day on the ship.






Day 9: Travel day back home.  Flew out of FLL.  And lucky us got our seat assignments when we checked out bags!  I mean, how freakin' awesome!  I think there were 88 open seats that flight.  That never happens, and made for a very relaxing trip home.  So relaxing, as a matter of fact, that Steve was dozing even before we took off.  I don't even think the cabin door was shut yet when I took this picture:



Steve did wake up when we were taking off. I love these picture of Cici...you can see the awe and magic in her face as we were speeding down the runway and then lifting off into the friendly skies:




Another great trip on the Disney Wonder.  As a matter of fact, we have already booked our next cruise!  We are doing 7-nights on the Disney Fantasy next winter.  We have turned into the biggest Disney Cruise fans!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Wanderlust

I was 15-years-old when I first stepped foot onto an airplane.

The second time? My second date with Steve, when I was 20.

Our children's first time on a plane? I think they were both around a year old.



guess that air train



first class? um, sure! 


savvy traveler


actually studying the instruction card - their first international leg


Our children are lucky as hell that Daddy is an airline pilot.  In their young lives (ages five and seven), they already have quite a number of stamps in their passports already.

The kids have been on: two cruises (about to be three)



Canada, Poland, and Slovakia.





In addition to the travel just mentioned, we have made multiple trips to Florida, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Atlantic Ocean, and one trip to DC.  These kids know travel.  They know the difference between a city, a state, a country, and a continent.  They know different languages are spoken in different countries.  For this, I am proud.  This surely is one of the perks of being married to an airline pilot.  Wanderlust...what a great thing!!!  This is something that has come to me, and I hope the same for our children!  Travel is one of the greatest gifts.  

In preparation for our upcoming trip, I was making arrangements with our neighbors to watch our dogs.  We got into a conversation about travel and kids, which is the spark for this blog post.  

When I was a little kid we didn't travel much...at all.

My Father immigrated from Poland in the 70's. My oldest sister was born quickly. and then my older sister was born quickly.  And then, yours truly came along so fast that my Mother didn't announce her pregnancy to family for a good while.  My parents had a lot on their plate in those first number of years, and not a lot of money.  Travel wasn't really on their radar.  I am being honest-to-goodness serious when I say that I can count our family trips on one hand.

When I was in grade school we loaded up the family station wagon and headed out to Maryland and DC.  That was the first time I heard the roar of the ocean.  The only other lasting memory of that trip was the extreme, and I mean extreme, sunburn we all got.  The sun blisters above my Father's lip was the reason he grew out the mustache he still wears to this day.

I went to Walt Disney World when I was in the 8th grade.  We drove.  I am from small town USA, and I remember getting into the eight-lane highways in Atlanta and thinking this was the most confusing thing I have ever seen. 

Before my junior year in high school, my Sister and I joined my maternal Grandparents on a six-week trip to Poland.  As I stated above, this was the first time I rode on an airplane.  My Grandmother got me so excited about the flight..."there is a point over the Atlantic where outside one side of the plane is dark, and the other side is still light." ... "and after we land, everyone applauds the pilots."  I don't recall those things as much as I recall the constant hum of the engines, and the feeling that the plane was pitched up the entire flight.  I prayed Hail Marys at take off, and proceeded with the prayer for the next 10 minutes or so.  I still pray before every flight. 

My junior year in college, is when Steve and I met.  For our second date, Steve took me on a flight and then out to dinner.  I was actually in the freakin' jump seat!  Kinda cool, although I was freaked out a bit.  He was flying a Saab turbo prop at the time, and after they dropped off the passengers at a small airport, Steve and his CA had to fly the plane about 30 miles to the even smaller airport to get to the hangar.  Steve was the flying pilot, and was nervous as hell.  He is a very competent pilot, but I sure did shake his nerves.  I doubt he would admit this, he isn't one to be all lovey-dovey eww-e-goo-e, but I do believe it was love at first sight for him.  So, on that second date he was really smitten with me...and he really didn't want to fuck up the landing.  I still remember what he wore...navy chinos and a plaid short sleeved button down.  

2 weeks after I graduated University, I took to the friendly skies again, and this time it was for Peace Corps.  I served in Europe, and I traveled extensively in Slovakia.  I traveled into Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic a bit.  I think Peace Corps was really the thing that fueled my wanderlust...being with a pilot only helped.

Once I got home from Peace Corps, Steve was working at a regional carrier.  We settled down and eventually got married.  Over the years we have traveled a lot.  We have done anything from cruises to Poland to Paris to Switzerland to the Caribbean.  Sometimes with the kids, sometimes without them.

Alaskan cruise, circa 2006

Ben - Spis Castle, Slovakia

Train travel - a must in Europe


What is Krakow without a visit with the pigeons! 


St. John - heaven on earth

Paris

Switzerland



Rick's Cafe, Jamaica
Yes, that is Steve jumping.

Jamaica 


As I mentioned, we are about to leave on another cruise.  We will be sailing the Disney Wonder again.  You can read about our first trip here: Pilot Wives Making Things User Friendly.  I hope this post inspires you to get out and travel!  And if you have travel privileges...use them!  This really is one of the best perks about being with the airlines...and makes this whole aviation lifestyle worth it.




Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Year in Review 2014

As 2014 comes to a close, I thought I would blog about my 2014 in review.  The good, the bad, the fun, the sad....


The sad?  My creative juices are very much not flowing right now..I think my veins are full of fat and sugar from all the not-usual foods in my diet as of late.  Because of this, I got these great thinking questions from here.  



1.  What do you wish you had done more of?


Relaxed.  Not lived by every.exact.minute.

But, as a pilot wife it isn't so easy to do.  When Steve is gone, and I have put the kids to bed, but yet they keep calling for me, I can't ignore them.  I wish I could stay on the couch with my glass of wine, but motherhood calls.

And when Steve is home?  Relaxing still doesn't happen.  When he is home, things are scheduled and things need done.  I am running the kids to a birthday party, or we are doing a family day at the museum.  We have to squeeze a full seven day week until a short three or four days...not too relaxing.


As for living by the minute...what time do I get off work? 3pm.  Exactly.  One minute late, and my drive home is thrown off.  I have to get Cici by 3:30p, leaving her school by 3:40p at the latest, so that I make it home to get Ben off the school bus at 4:15p. If I don't keep things to the minute, then I may not make it home to get Ben off the bus.

Ben has picked up on this "to the minute" behavior.  I need to stop being so exact...I don't want him to be hung up on exactness of minutes in life.


2. What do you wish you had done less of?

Stressed out.  

What do I stress about?  Work - client issues.  Home - when the kids act out.  Steve's 40th Birthday - planning took a lot of time.  Pilot wife - life is hard when you have little ones and your husband isn't always home.


And you know what stressed has done to me?  PVCs and teeth grinding.  My heart does these premature ventricular contractions (PVC) that make my pacer fire prematurely, then my heart stops, and then there is a kick-start beat to get it back into a rhythm.  It feels like a flip-flip in my chest...sometimes it feels like anxiety in my chest...sometimes it feels like my heart has stopped for that second and then I feel that pounding beat.  As for the teeth grinding, I now need a mouth guard.  I am wearing away the enamel on my teeth.  Steve says I grind my teeth in my sleep.  


3. Who were the three people who had the greatest impact on your life last year?

My children.  They, without a doubt, rule my life right now.  My day-to-day is scheduled around them and their needs.  This will continue until they are more capable of being independent.  

My Father-In-Law is the third person that has had the greatest impact on my life this last year.  He had a near death experience in May.  The MD said that "he was over the edge, and we brought him back."  It was scary and Steve was on a trip when it all went down.  I blogged about it here: First Time for Everything.  Because of the series of events, I have a constant reminder of how important health and wellness is to me and my family.  I have taken strides to make my family well and healthy, like eating the right foods and being active. 


4.  Did anyone close to you have an important milestone birthday?

You bet!  Steve turned 40.  I had been planning his party for a couple years, and I am serious about that.  It was a fantastic night, that went by too quickly.  He sure does age well!  
Steve with his Father and Sister.  See #3...so glad he was able to enjoy the evening with us!

fun night with friends!

with the birthday boy

3 pilots - all met in college -all turned 40 within days of one another



5. What vacations did you take or where did you visit last year?
Disney cruise 




Washington DC


White House selfie




Las Vegas  
Pool side at Caesar's 


Sandbridge, VA





6. What is one miracle you witnessed this year?
The miracle of modern medicine.  See #3. 



7. How did you spend your Sunday evenings this past year?
Glass of wine, in front of the tv watching our favorite shows (usually on Showtime, so Ray Donovan, Shameless, Homeland, ect). Steve used to fly out on Sunday, so to have him home on Sunday evening has been such a wonderful thing.  I don't take this evening for granted, that is for sure, since so many Sunday nights together were missed.


8.  What was your favorite meal?
I actually have two. 

The first thing that came to mind was the grilled octopus that we had at Milos in Vegas.  Outstanding.  I mean, just fantastic. But, that was just one dish in an otherwise overly stuffed evening.


The next thing that came to mind was Christmas Eve.  We are Polish, and Christmas Eve is a really big deal.  My parents hosted and it was the first time in about 5 years that all three sisters, and respective families, came.  5 years!  It was so great to have everyone together.  We had good conversation, good food, and good drink.  Let me just say that I was glad that I wasn't the sister that was hungover the next day.  



9. I am most thankful for...

My husband, my children, and our health.

Steve completes me.  Ok, Jerry McGuire.  But, it is true. My life is complete when he is home.  Our children bring me joy and truly fulfill my life.  Health...I think everyone understands that one.


10. What is the greatest lesson you have learned this year?

Who cares if people don't do things the way you do them.  
This goes to anything from raising children to relationships.  The sooner you realize that people do things differently, and that different is okay!, the better off you will be. 



Wishing you a very happy and healthy 2015!