Thursday, June 25, 2015

Cruise: A Day at Sea (Day 2) and Freeport, Bahamas (Day 3)

I don't think I mentioned what boat we were on.  It was the Carnival Fantasy.   The Fantasy is the oldest ship in the fleet and probably the smallest.  I didn't necessarily mind that it was the smallest or the oldest but one can definitely see signs of aging and the need to renovate.   I think it is getting a facelift later this year.

As I mentioned before, the pool was joke.  Here is a pic that I found online, which makes it look bigger than it actually was.  Maybe it was bigger than I realized but it was so crowded all the time.  I think my kids spent MAYBE 30 minutes in it the entire week.
Our second day of our cruise was a day at sea.  One of my favorite things about cruising was that the only decision I had to make for the day was what bathing suit to put on.  And, by the way, I totally wore two piece bathing suits the whole week!!!!!  Granted, my body doesn't look the way I want it to look but I wasn't the worst looking one on the boat either!

We had breakfast on the Lido deck every morning except the morning we were in Nassau.  The biggest disappointment was the waffles- they were nasty soggy!  I like crispy waffles.  I mostly ate eggs, fruit, and oatmeal for breakfast.  I was worried about what Caylee would eat on this trip but I have to say, she did great.  In fact, I wanted to bring our server home with us.  He got the kids to try foods I NEVER could.  She was most happy about the cinnamon rolls on the Lido deck and the fact that there was no icing on them.  She loves cinnamon rolls sans icing!
After breakfast we headed up to the deck where the water slides were.  Again, this is where we spent 90% of our days.  This was my view for days.  I bet the kids went down the slides hundreds of times!

Don't you love Caylee's coverup???  One of our sweet dance friends made it for her.  I got the coverup at Wal Mart and her friend has a monogram machine.

Carson's blue eyes make my heart melt.

Since we were at sea all day, the boat did have different activities going on but we just hung out on the deck.  That night was the formal night.  I use the term "formal" very loosely.  I had no idea what to pack for this night but I hit the nail on the head and everyone was dressed appropriately.  Actually, Carson's pants were about two inches too short.  That is what I get for not having them try them on in the dressing room.  OOPS.  My mom got better pictures of us.  I need to get her camera card.
Pre dinner all girl selfie.  I had a good hair night that night.

My parents.

Carson and Caylee at dinner

Even though it was formal night, it is still socially acceptable to wave your napkin in the air like you just don't care- everyone was doing it!

After dinner selfie

After dinner, we went to the Motown Show.  Oh my... this show was FANTASTIC.  It was very similar to ShowTime.  Lots of singing and dancing- right up my alley since I am a former dancer.  After the show, the dancers moved the party out to the staircase area of the ship and we danced around the bar to music from the 60s and 70s.  I think I was the only thirty-something lady there that knew the words to some of the songs!
The guy in the black is Jacques, our cruise director.  Every morning, he would come on the speakers and give us the 411 of the day.  It reminded me of the Love Boat TV show!

Somehow, our dancing ended up ON the bar.  This was one of the performers.

After the party died down, the performers stayed and hung out with us so we had to #takeaselfie  #CarnivalEntertainmentFun

This girl can SING.  We talked to her for a while about the audition process and Caylee told her she was a dancer too.  She encouraged her to stick with it!

Mom and Dad went to the "adults only" comedy show after the party but the kids and I called it a night.  They had played all day in the sun and was tired so we went back to the room.  I was able to read before drifting off into the best sleep ever!  

The next morning, we woke up in Freeport.  Let me say up front that I wasn't a fan of Freeport.  It was a basically a manufacturing port- at least what we saw of it.  Looking back, I wish we'd taken a taxi to a beach and spent the day on a beach there.  Our dinner table mates did that and they enjoyed it.  We got off the boat in Freeport and shopped the market/tourist trap there and got right back on the boat.  We were back on the boat by 10:30- which turned out to be ok because we had the boat to ourselves.  If I heard one Bahamian lady ask if she could braid Caylee's hair, I heard it five hundred times.  

We ate dinner again in the dining room then ending up doing a night swim (I think that was that night).   The next morning, we would wake up in Nassau.....

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

What's Up Wednesday

It's Hump Day!

I am linking up with Mel and Shay!

I haven't done this in a while!  Here we go!

1. What we're eating this week.....

We grilled chicken last night and I tossed some veggies in the oven to roast and called it dinner!  I also made Mix and Match Mama's Tortellini Pasta Salad for me for lunch this week.  I am definitely making this at the beach!

2.  What I'm reminiscing about....

Our cruise and how well I slept at night.  BEST. SLEEP. EVER.

3.  What I'm loving....

The fact that I haven't worn makeup since Sunday. My face needs a break!

4.  What I've been up to....

I spent eight hours in the heat on Monday working in our yard.  Geez.  I told my neighbor I'd like to strike a match to it and start over- but then I couldn't start over until I served my jail time!  Because I worked in the heat, my body was in shut down mode yesterday- I wasn't very productive and just felt like a blob yesterday.

5.  What I'm dreading....

School starting in 39 days.  It seems like our summer gets shorter and shorter.

6.  What I'm working on....

Training Elmer.  We are attending an obedience class at PetSmart.  He is doing better, according to the instructor.  He still runs past the fence and will bark at the fence when he is ready to come home.  Oi.
This pic was taken after Chad took him on a four mile trail run.  He didn't move the rest of the day!

7.  What I am excited about.....

We are headed to Emerald Isle in two weeks with the whole fam.  Twenty three people to be exact.  Nine of those are children.  We did this trip back in 2011 and it was a blast.  There is nothing better than a post run cup of coffee on the porch overlooking the ocean!

8.  What I'm watching/reading...

The TV is rarely on at our house but I did watch my beloved Red Sox LIVE last week!  I have a blog post on that soon!

I also just finished Chris Harrison's book.  I actually liked it.  I used to watch The Bachelor/Bachelorette but I lost interest.  The storyline was somewhat predictable but it was a good book.

9.  What I'm listening to....

I almost ALWAYS have the radio on while I am at home.  Mostly it is listening to the Big 98 on iHeart Radio.  There are times though that I am in the mood for Pandora or Spotify.  Yesterday, I listened to the Alabama Live from the Ryman and it was AWESOME.

10.  What I'm wearing...

T shirts, Nike running shorts, and Chacos. I never get dressed up anymore.  I don't have a reason to.  Actually, that isn't true.  We went to church for the first time in forever (due to baseball) and Caylee actually told me I looked pretty in "real clothes".  God Bless that child!

11. What I'm doing this weekend....

I am trading Carson for four girls!  Carson is headed to his first sleepover (what is it with boys?  Sleepovers aren't their thing, maybe?) and four girls are spending the night at our house.  Caylee wanted friends to spend the night with her for her birthday but we are celebrating early because this is the night everyone will be in town.  I am looking forward to it but after they leave on Saturday morning, I may crash! ;)

12.  What I'm looking forward to next month....

Caylee's 8th birthday, our beach trip, Fun Fest activities,  some day trips with the kids, and MAYBE even a trip to Nashville.

13.  What else is new....

I found out last week that my BFF is moving to North Carolina.  I am so happy for them but so sad at the same time.  Her husband is a pastor and has taken a job with a church in Western NC.  Granted, it is only a two hour drive from here but I am still sad.  I hope to soak up as much time with her as possible!  Also, we learned that Caylee's friend is also moving across the globe for a year.  Her mom has taken a missionary teaching job in Saipian (somewhere between Japan and Australia).  Caylee was so upset when I told her.  She and I will experience friends moving at the same time.  Misery loves company.  I am excited for both families though.

14.  What we are doing for the 4th of July....

We don't have plans yet but I would guess we will go to our town's parade then swim and grill out.  We usually go to Peachtree City, GA to spend the 4th with our Georgia Hamptons but since we leave for the beach the next day and will spend the week with them, we aren't making the trip.

Sorry for the lack of pictures.  I guess things have been boring around these parts!

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Cruisin' Part I: Charleston and Embarkation Day

The morning after recital, my parents, kids, and I loaded up the Grand Cherokee and drove to Charleston for a five day cruise to the Bahamas.  I have been bitten by the cruise bug- I want to do another one.  I am going to recap our cruise in stages.  I hope to do a post on tips and tricks from cruising that I learned via Pinterest or on the boat.

We drove to Charleston a day early because I had never been and I wanted to see the city.  We didn't get to see much of the city because my mom wasn't feeling well but I liked what I saw.  I would love to take a weekend getaway to Charleston with Chad (heck, I'd love to take a getaway anywhere with Chad.  Seems like we rarely see each other these days).  What I did see of the city was beautiful.  

As soon as we got there, we ate at Bubba Gump's.  It was ok- I would have rather had something "local" but we were so hungry that we went with something that we knew would probably be good.  I was disappointed in the food and service.  Our server was high- I am certain of it.  
My darling daughter loved to crack the crab legs but wouldn't eat them.  

After lunch, we walked The Market.  I definitely want to visit there again.  It was very crowded when we were there and I can't shop when it is crowded.  I can't shop when I have two kids in tow.  The Market had some beautiful things and I would have loved to have spent more time there (if I had money).  After the market, we got some yummy ice cream at Kilwin's.  SO. GOOD.  Speaking of ice cream, I decided that I wasn't going to stress too much about my weight on this trip.  I decided that I would try to stay active but also eat within reason.  As you know, food on a cruise is bountiful.  More on that later.

We checked into the hotel and my mom pretty much crashed so I took the kids to the pool to get out energy.  The hotel wasn't anything to write home about- in fact, I was very irate at the travel agent mom used to book our trip (sidetone: you can book a cruise without the help of a travel agent).  He got us a room at the Holiday Inn in Mt. Pleasant.  He quoted us a rate that was over one hundred bucks MORE that what we could have gotten on Priceline.  (insert mad emoji here)  When I looked at the hotel website, it said that parking was free.  Our travel agent stated that the price of the room included the parking so that we could leave our car there and we would be shuttled to the port.  That was the only thing that worked well for that leg of the trip.  It was nice to be taken right to the bus that took us to the warehouse to embark.  

That night, I went to the Fresh Market to pick up dinner for the kids.  The adults weren't hungry but I wanted something healthy for the kids.  The Fresh Market was to die for!  They had a brick oven right there in the store and were making pizzas.  I wasn't the least bit hungry so I nibbled off the vegetable plate I got for the kids.  (Side note: Can our town PLEASE get a Fresh Market?)  After dinner, we basically just watched TV and read and went to bed early.  I was exhausted from all the other events leading up to the trip.  

The next morning, we had breakfast in the hotel.  We had three hours to kill before the shuttle left for the port so we drove over to a park.  I don't think it was Battery Park- I can't remember the name of it.  Oh well, it was nice to walk around!

Doesn't every baseball player practice pitching in a gazebo in Charleston?

Finally, at noon, we were ready to head to the boat.  I was so excited but nervous too.  I always get nervous when I go thru security. I mean, I know I don't pack anything questionable but it still scares me.  Plus, having the kids with me added to the stress.  We passed security with flying colors and was ready to stand in the mile long line to check in.  You couldn't take pictures in this area (which was a warehouse, by the way).  The wait didn't take that long but it felt like forever due to the excitement.  When we got up to the holding spot for the next available attendant, Carson told the lady he wanted to be checked in by the lady at the number 15 window, because duh!  ;)  We got window 16.  

Before our trip Mr. Travel Agent told me I had to have all this documentation to leave the country with the kids.  I had to have:
  • my drivers license (check)
  • my marriage license (check)
  • birth certificates for all (check)
  • A NOTORIZED note from Chad saying I had his permission to leave the country with his children SAY WHAT?  I birthed them! Why do I need his permission?! ;)
I gathered all documents but the only documents the lady needed was my driver's license and birth certificates for us.  The lady never asked me where the children's father was.  Oh well.  We got our sign and sail card, had our pictures made, and headed up the ramp to board!

As soon as we got on the boat, we headed down to our room.  I knew it would be small so I was prepared in that regard.  Honestly, I really liked the accommodations.  It was plenty for the three of us.  It was clean too!  I slept on the bed in the picture and the kids had the bunk bed (but that top bed hadn't been pulled down yet).  Our luggage wasn't in the room yet but the kids already had on their swimsuits so we headed up to the Lido Deck for lunch and swimming.  We also had to do the mandatory meeting where they tell you what to do in case of the boat sinking.  Carson was a little freaked out by this but as soon as it was over, they cranked the music up to get us pumped up to sail!

This is where we spent 90% of our time.  The one compliant I have about this boat was that the pool was about the size of the dugout.  It was more of a lounging pool for grownups.  I think I have a picture of it for another post/day.  

I love this picture of the kids and my dad with the Cooper River Bridge (I think that is the name of it) in the background.

Every night, we loved coming back to the room to find the towel animals.  Definitely a highlight!

We played on the water slides until time to get dressed for dinner.  I think I forgot to take pictures the first night.  After dinner, we went up to the Camp Carnival kick off party.  I registered the kids for camp at home but they ended up not going at all.  They didn't want to- and I don't blame them.  There weren't that many kids on the boat.  We participated in a dance off between parents and kids.  Guess who brought home the medal for Best Dancing Mom?  Yup- Mama Mac.  #thankyouacademyofdancearts

I still have so much to talk about.  It was a great trip- it was awkward at times for me, I must admit.  I was on a boat with honeymooners, college grads, LOTS of couples traveling together.... and it was me and the kids.  Don't get me wrong, I loved the time with them and the time with my parents but it was awkward.  

Stay tuned for our first full day at sea! 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Life Lately: May Part II

This post has been sitting in draft form since the 6th day of June.  I start writing then get sidetracked. #squirrel

I so wish I could get in the habit of blogging every day or every couple of days.  I was much better about keeping a blog when the kids were smaller.


Anywho, I am back with a recap of what the rest of May looked like.

I will start with a look back at a couple of baseball tournaments.  Can I begin by saying that I LOVE watching our team play?  I LOVE even more that we don't play every weekend.  I think last year they played fifty-something games and by this time of year, we were all burnt out.  NOT THIS YEAR!!  We were told by the DE owners that they didn't want the boys to play every weekend because they didn't want them to get burnt out, they want them to be ready and excited to play, and they wanted them wanting to come back for more.  Their psychology worked because Carson is exactly that.  I have talked a little about the differences in him this year (and I plan on doing a whole blog post about our experience and how we got to DE).  We are content with baseball.

Somebody got some time on the  mound in May!
Carson has been working with a pitching coach.  When he was cut, we were told that he needed to work on pitching since the next level would need lots of pitchers (hey, the previous coach was right about something!)  His pitching has improved but he isn't the best pitcher on the team.  He needs consistency and it will come.  His throwing overall has gotten much better.  He is much more accurate and has gotten a stronger arm.  Also, his pitching coach has been working on all aspects of baseball with him.  It is a win-win!

That weekend, and every weekend since, we have made it to the championship game.  We have said all season long that it isn't about the trophy or how many games you win, but it is how you play the game and HOW you take the wins and losses.  This is the biggest change I have seen in Carson.  He is such a great sport and teammate.  He is constantly encouraging his teammates (and the other team too!) and his effort is ten fold what it was last year.  After watching Sam play his last HS game at home, we challenged Carson to sprint from the dugout to center (his position, and Sam's) as hard as he could at every fielding inning.  Sam does this.  It is a sign of being a leader and mental readiness.  Once Carson started doing this, he became more alert and ready to play defense.  A small act made a big impact.  What cracks me up is that he looks just like Sam running out.  ;) Sam told him NEVER to step on the foul line because it is bad luck- guess who jumps over the foul line?! I want to try to get this on video!  I'll close the baseball update with some more pictures!

SAFE!  And a run scored!

Pregame meal at Cookout

One weekend, we played Carson's first travel ball team in a championship game.  Most of the kids on that team had to move up to the other age bracket but two boys are still in the same age bracket as Carson.  One of the boys is this coach's son.  This is Jay.  Jay was an assistant coach for Carson's team and was by far the kindest one.  Jay reached out to us when Carson was cut and offered words of encouragement (i.e.: WHY?  You don't do that to a nine year old.) and offered Carson a spot on his team. Carson had already tried out for DE but hadn't heard yet so he practiced with the Rebels.  Jay was understanding when we told him Carson had chosen DE.  After the game, Carson and Jay shook hands and Carson hugged him.  Jay told him he was proud of Carson.  Made my Mama heart smile.  We are thankful for Jay's encouragement!  

Next up was the end of the school year.  The end of the year is bittersweet for me.  I am ready for them to get out of school but it is an adjustment having them with me all day long.  Don't get me wrong, I love it but it does take a few weeks to adjust!  I walked out to the car on the last day of school and saw this.  Um, no.  Carson's face looks a little worried!  I am not ready for my kids to drive!

Caylee and her fabulous and beautiful teacher, Mrs. Meade.  Carson had her as well so she is family to us.  We love her!

Carson and his awesome teacher, Mrs. Hammond.  Fun fact: Carson's great aunt Carolyn hired Mrs. Hammond!  

Fast forward to DB graduation.  Carson and I got up early on recital morning to watch Sam graduate. Carson took the baseball that Aaron, DB's catcher, gave him at a game and had the seniors sign it.  Love it!

This is Sam "fake signing".  He had already signed the ball (Carson got his first of course) but I made him pretend to sign so I could get a picture.
I love these two boys! 
After Sam's graduation party, it was time to kick it in recital mode.  Caylee was in both recitals this year- her hip hop dance was in both shows.  Saturday was a long day but oh so worth it!

The morning after recital, we headed to Charleston, SC to get on a boat!!!  That week leading up to the cruise was a blur.  In five days, we (1) ended the school year; (2) had recital rehearsals; (3) went to Sam's graduation and his party; (4) did recital; (5) packed for a cruise; (6) drove to Charleston.  I am sure I am forgetting something.  To say I was exhausted was an understatement.  I remember thinking that I couldn't wait to get on the boat so that I could sleep (and sleep on a cruise is the best sleep ever!)

I am going to do a post on the cruise separately.  I also still need to do my big baseball post (how we got to where we are) AND Carson's birthday post!  YIKES!