Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Craft Craziness Catch-up!

Alliteration is fun!

You know what else is fun?  Making things as a mommy!

Time to play some catch up by posting a few of the crafts I made earlier this year before my baby was born. So here we go (in no specific order)!

A friend of mine has these cute bandana bibs for her daughter that do a great job of catching the drool while looking stylish.  I decided to try making a couple that have the material bunched under the chin instead of laying flat on the chest.  My first go round turned out pretty good and I gave away a couple Olaf bibs to friends.  Next time I will modify the pattern to have a little less material bunched at the sides.  At 4 months the bib hangs over my daughters shoulders but she can wear them (and loves to suck on it since everything goes into her mouth right now!)

Next craft that I have to list is a peek-a-boo car seat cover.  I saw one like this online and decided the window was a must-have feature.  It worked out great during the first couple of months.  I was able to make sure my daughter was still sleeping/breathing while walking around without disturbing her and without giving strangers an opportunity to bug me.  

I found that with the cover open, the hole was in just the right spot to grab the car seat handle through. I need to make some modifications to the pattern to sit better over the car seat but I think it was a great start.


While scouring the baby section at Target during their (not so spectacular) clearance sale I managed to get a really good deal on a "Naked" Bobby feeding pillow.  I didn't feel like going out and spending even more money on a cover so I decided to make my own!  Top is a soft flannelette and the bottom is minky with hearts.

At a craft fair last Christmas we found a booth selling tag blankets.  I really liked the idea so made my own.  My daughter is just playing with this now and of course, trying to put it in her mouth!


And lastly for my post today, cloth diapers!  This one I am excited about.  Why?  Because I bought WAY TOO MUCH PUL.  So I am committed to make a few of these and maybe a wetbag or two.  I'm using the basic Babybille pattern here but I've modified the inside pocket to have a cover like my Kawaii diapers.  I've got plans to add a gusset to the liner and front snaps for adjustment. 

Next up on the agenda I'm going to be working on some suck pads for our Ergo (remember, everything in mouth phase), a nice carry bag/clutch for my Swing pump for when I go back to work and some teething necklaces because I figured buying the parts was going to be more fun then just buying a necklace online. :P

Monday, July 6, 2015


Every day feels like a race against the clock.  So much that I want to do and yet I never manage to get through the list before I stumble into bed exhausted at the end of the day.  It's also been a long time since I posted and of course, I have a long list of excuses to rival my long list of things to do.

But, as promised, I've got some good stuff to talk about.

While dealing with the sad events of last year my husband and I were trying for a baby.  We finally gave birth to our beautiful daughter on March 31, 2015 at 2:44am.  The pregnancy was uneventful and she is healthy but my delivery was a bit rough.  I ended up having to have a C-section after I failed to progress (stuck at 6cm).  I originally didn't want an epidural but the pain from the back labour was excruciating.  Unfortunately it wore off on one side so by the time they suggested the surgery I was ready to be done.

Here's an unflattering picture of me but our family right after she was born.
And a better shot of our daughter that morning:

Of course that was in March and it's July now.  I've spent the last three months trying to figure out this mom thing and that involves not a lot of time to sit around on a computer and goof off (no seriously, I tried, it doesn't work).  Plus this last month has been extremely hot and unseasonable and turning my computer on has just added to the uncomfortable stickiness that is my house.
Here's our daughter at 3 months.  Totes adorbes:

Yes she came with all that hair.  Yes I had heartburn.  (I've been answering those questions to pretty much every stranger I meet.)

I love her like crazy and sometimes just sit and watch her sleep (that whole making sure she's still breathing thing).  Everyone says they grow up too fast or that they wish they could "stay a baby forever".  I understand that but at the same time I'm looking forward to getting to know who my daughter is (or will be) as a person and spending time with her.  My husband and I are really looking forward to sharing our lives with her and all the experiences we're going to have.  I can't wait to take her to Disneyland since I never got to go as a kid (even though I was promised).  Christmases, Halloween, etc. Can't wait.
Of course the good news about having a baby is there are SO MANY CRAFTS!!!  I did get a few projects done before she was born and I'll be posting some of my accomplishments soon.  My blanket it on hold for a bit (not surprised, have you seen the title of my blog?) while I get other things created. 

Well that about ends my daughter's first nap of the day.  Here's to that mom thing. ;)

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Good riddance 2014

Its been forever since I've posted anything.  I know this and I feel shame.

While some good things happened this year, some bad things also happened.  I've been procrastinating posting because I mentally can't write anything without talking about the bad.

So my last post, many months ago was all about the great vacation we had the previous October.  May 2014 came along and we happily hopped on another cruise ship, this time bound north for Alaska again.  It was a 10 night cruise on Norwegian Pearl and we had an amazing time and made new friends.  I wanted to write a big cruise review when we got home but the joy of our vacation was quickly dampened by the news I received.

Our cruise ended in Seattle so we had to deal with the crowds and bus ride back to Canada.  Then had a ride organized to get us from South Surrey back to Aldergrove (which was much better than the last time we did this and were dropped off in downtown Vancouver).  My mom wanted me to call her when we got home.  When I finally talked to her that afternoon, she gave me the bad news. 

On May 18, 2014, my father passed away.

He was only 56 and his death was very unexpected.  The coroners report stated he died from internal bleeding sustained after falling and breaking his pelvis. 

It devastated the family and the months that followed were very difficult on me as at first I had to deal with my dad's estate.

The summer passed and then July came along.  This time my 11 year old cat, Edgie, who was living at my mom's, had taken ill. I had my brother take him to the nearest vet and I headed out to Chilliwack.  We did what we could, xrays, medicine, but in the end Edgie passed away the next day from congestive heart failure.

I miss my dad and my kitty.

I'll write about the good later. For now, time to relax, watch some tv and quietly welcome the start of a new and hopefully better new year.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Our epic Florida/Caribbean vacation 2013!

I haven't really been posting much since I started this blog, and I feel really bad about it.  I have all these great intentions but life just keeps getting in the way.  Part of that is a little hobby I picked up.... cruising. Now I know there is a belief out there that cruises are for old people in retirement.  They are also really great for 30-somethings that HATE flying and love geography!  

My husband and I went on our first cruise to Alaska May 2012 on Rhapsody of the Seas with Royal Caribbean.  It was cool and rainy (just like home) but we got to see glaciers and my husband fed a reindeer (he loves animals).  I had an absolute blast and managed to relax and catch up on some reading.

When we were on that cruise we decided to purchase a "Next Cruise Certificate" with Royal Caribbean which gave us a reduced deposit on a future cruise of our choice and $100 on board credit.  I made the mistake of telling my husband about the Allure of the Seas which is the largest cruise ship in the world (apparently a couple inches longer than her sister ship, Oasis of the Seas) so that when I asked him which ship he'd like to go on, well that's what he picked.

So in July 2012 we booked the Allure of the Seas Western Caribbean leaving October 20, 2013 from Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Did I mention I hate flying?

So here we are planning to fly to the absolute farthest corner of the United States we could possible travel to from Vancouver, BC.  In order to make the best of the trip (which I didn't anticipate repeating for a very long time) we decided to add on a week beforehand and check out a few other Florida attractions.  

And so a year+ long quest to plan, organize, and book our epic vacation began.

I spent a ton of time on Cruise Critic, researching our ports (Labadee, Haiti; Falmouth, Jamaica; and Cozumel, Mexico) and things to do in Orlando.  I even created a spreadsheet to give me a visual representation of when we were planning to do things, which shows we reserved on the ship and specialty dining. Activity Spreadsheet

So here's all about our vacation (with pictures)!

To start we had to find a way TO Florida from Vancouver.  I checked out prices and we determined that the cheapest way to get there was to fly out of Seattle.  I priced out using several websites including Choice Air from Royal, and ended up booking our outbound flight directly with Alaska Airlines for $505 USD.  This was a non-stop flight from Seattle to Orlando leaving at 8 am on Monday October 14th (was original 8:45 am but we got notification that the flight was bumped up 45 min) and arriving around 4:30 in the afternoon (Eastern time, but was still 5-6 hours).  We could have left during the weekend but we felt it would be nice to have a couple days at home to relax and pack before we left.

Parking for 2 weeks in Seattle was ridiculously expensive so we booked 1 night and 14 days parking at the Comfort Inn and Suites for $149 USD.  I priced out the hotels with a parking option using but booked directly with the hotel since I actually needed 15 days.  By staying the night in Seattle by the airport we weren't rushed to drive the 2-3 hours from BC and it was cheaper to park at the hotel for two weeks than at the airport. The hotel also had a shuttle that took us to the airport on Monday morning which was included in the rate.  I didn't take any pictures of the hotel room but it was nothing special and was the lowest quality room of everywhere we stayed on this trip.  I would stay here again if it was the cheapest option available. 

Here's our bags on Monday morning at about 5:30 am, waiting for the shuttle:

We checked in online the day before so the airport was fairly easy.  We dropped our bags off and made it through security with nothing memorable happening.  I took an ativan just before boarding (about half hour before scheduled departure) but I was still in tears during take off (remember I said I hate flying).  I took another pill about an hour later and honestly don't really remember much else of the flight (so yay ativan). 

Here's our view of Mt Rainier shortly after takeoff from Seattle:

After arriving in Orlando we made our way to the rental car counter and picked up the car I reserved online. Since I have a Costco membership I found a really great rate with a discount for members and a coupon code for $25 off a week rental.  By paying beforehand the car cost $177 USD from Monday to Sunday on a one way rental.  Apparently as a Budget Fastbreak member I didn't have to go to the counter as my car was waiting for me with the keys on the dash (they record which car you pick as you leave the parking area). We picked out a red Dodge Avenger and made our way to the hotel.

Now accommodations in Orlando for 5 nights was looking to be expensive when I started our planning.  I took a chance and managed to get a wicked rate using Priceline.  Since we didn't care which hotel we stayed in I was comfortable using the website to pick one for us.  It took me a couple days to get a successful bid but we ended up at the Westin Imagine Orlando.  My bid price was $60/night with a $5/night coupon I got emailed to me from Priceline after trying to bid for a few days. In total it cost $353 USD for 5 nights at a hotel that was going for $300 a night on Expedia for the same days.  When we checked in I was super worried we were going to get a broom closet for using Priceline but we were very happy with our room on the 6th floor that had a view south overlooking the hotel entrance.  I like to think flashing my Starwood Preferred Guest card helped keep us out of the broom closet. They didn't have any king beds available but we were more than happy with the 2 queens we got.

Here's a pic of the room:

And here's a shot of the view one evening during sunset looking over commercial area on International Drive (I-Drive as it was referred to by the locals):

So Tuesday morning came 3 hours earlier than we were used to.  We got up and made our way out for our first day at Disney World.  The hotel had little direction cards with how to get there that really helped but we did bring our GPS just in case.  For our first day at Disney we decided to go to Magic Kingdom.  We didn't make it quite in time for opening but were at the park within the first hour.  

I wanted to take a moment to talk about the park tickets we bought.  If anyone has been to Disney World (or even Disneyland) before you would know that it is freaking expensive.  We spent a lot of time tryign to figure out which parks we wanted to go to and whether we were going to spring for park-hoppers or not.  As part of my obsessive research we decided to buy 3-day park hopper passes from  The site was recommended to us by friends who bought their honeymoon Disney World passes the year before. In total we purchased 2 3-day park hopper passes for Disney World, two 1-day park hopper passes for Universal, and two tickets to Kennedy Space Center. The total came to $1059 which included $30 express shipping since I didn't want to take any chances (we ordered the tickets 1 month in advance).  Even with the shipping I was able to save a few dollars off the total cost of the park tickets and the service was fast and accurate.  The other thing I really liked about their site is they have a crowd calander so you can see which days have heavier crowds, which parks have early or late hours and special events (we went during the Halloween themed events).

Back to our day at Magic Kingdom!  It was pleasantly overcast and didn't get too hot at all.  Here's a shot of the castle!

Tomorrowland was our first stop by request of my husband.  Since he grew up in SoCal he was thrilled Disney World still had the People Mover (which is long gone from Disneyland).

Random Halloween decorations.

Obligatory me in front of the castle shot:

We stayed long enough for the electric parade (another childhood memory for my hubby that has gone away from Disneyland) and the fireworks that night.  Our hotel room faced Disney World so we were able to catch the fireworks from our room later int he week.  It was a long day and we were pretty exhausted by the time we got home. 

The next day we headed the other direction for Universal Studios.  We only had a 1 day park hopper pass but felt we could cover what we wanted in that time.  I'm not a big roller coaster fan so my husband took advantage of the single rider lines for the ones I didn't want to go on.  We actually started doing all the single rider lines throughout the park where we could.  We might not have sat next to each other on each ride but we ended up either in the same car or very close each time.  This saved a TON of time and meant we didn't need to buy the express pass.

Universal Studios was open 8 am to 5 pm (then reopened for the Halloween event) and Islands of Adventure (our first destination that morning) was open from 9 am to 7 pm.  Our whole purpose was to get to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which just happened to be at the farthest corner from the entrance and IOA.  We arrived at the park at about 8:30 am and noticed there was already a line at the gate for people waiting to get in.  We followed some other guests to the side of the waiting area, they scanned our passes and we were let in.  I'm assuming the park hoppers we had purchased allowed us into this park early and am SOOOO happy that it happened that way.  We rushed all the way to the back of the park and literally (I don't use this word often so actually mean it) walked up and onto the main ride in Hogwarts!  We got off the ride, turned around and went right back in.  There were a few more people waiting now so we took our time to enjoy the decor and talking paintings all throughout the waiting area.

After getting off the ride a second time we spent some time exploring Hogsmeade and my husband took a quick ride on Dragon Challenge.  His head was hurting 

Hagrid's hut, while waiting in line for Flight of the Hippogriph:

Our first of two butterbeers that day.  We much preferred the liquid which had cream added on top versus the slushy we saw others getting. 

Some more pictures of Hogsmeade and Hogwarts:

After leaving the Wizarding World we made our way over to Jurassic Park.  The below picture was to make our friend jealous. We did the water ride and didn't get too wet (the drop was too big for me to want to go again).

We made our way back around the front and hubby went on the Incredible Hulk coaster on his own.

After exhausting what we wanted to do in IOA we made our way over to Universal Studios.

Their Halloween event was at this side of the park and it had much less cheery decorations than what we saw at Disney World.  Here's the camper from Walking Dead:

Our first stop was Spingfield, USA.  We were pretty excited to check out this new addition to Universal.

There was a food court area inside Moe's and the Krusty Burger that had a variety of Simpson's themed food (Krusty Burger, The Frying Dutchman, etc).  We decided against the burger and split a fried chicken/waffle sandwich from Cletus' Chicken Shack.  OMG it was good!

We made our way through the rest of the park and hit most of the rides.  I skipped out on a couple but loved all the simulator rides like Transformers.

Here's a random picture of hubby on a tiger:

Before we left the park we decided to head back to Hogsmeade for our second butterbeer of the day.  It was slow going for me as I had walked 50,000 steps between the two days so far and actually hurt my feet. Here's me wallowing in pain on our way our of IOA for the day:

Shot of CityWalk (which we didn't really explore) as we were leaving:

We made it back to the hotel earlier than the first night and then went to I-Drive to find something to eat. We ended up at Senor Frogs and it was alright, but a bit pricey.

The next day we headed to Epcot.  Both my husband and I had mixed feelings originally about going to Epcot on this trip.  We didn't think there was much there to keep us busy the whole day but since we had park hopper tickets we knew we could leave if we were bored.

I'm so glad we went.  It was probably the BEST time we had at all the theme parks, all thanks to the International Food and Wine Festival!  Let me tell you why, but first, obligatory ball shot:

We got a little lost after entering the park so were late getting to the line for Soarin.  All the fast passes for the ride were gone very early that morning.  We waited in line for at least an hour and a half for the ride (there wasn't much else to do since the food and wine festival didn't open until 11am).  The ride was neat and I'm glad I got to do it but the line sucked (thankfully standing didn't hurt my feet as much as walking did) and I felt the video quality was very outdated.  We've since done Fly Over Canada here in Vancouver (newer video so higher quality) and we will eventually check out the equivalent ride in California. We checked out a few more attractions then made our way to the pavilions.

Now for some back story.  A coworker told us about the pavilions around the lake at Epcot and that you could order booze at each one.  He told us we couldn't "drink around the world".  CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!  

Now the Food and Wine festival had additional countries being represented aside from the permanent paviliions.  There were a total of 30 stops on our tour so we didn't actually drink at all of them (just most) because we wanted to try some of the food too and there was a charge for each item (my credit card statement for that day looks a little silly). 

Here's hubby outside the Mexico Pavilion with his second beer of the day (first was a Kaiser Brewery, Xingu Black Beer from the Brazil booth).

Yes the alcohol made my feet hurt less.

Here's a BraufactuM Darkon from the Germany booth:

I took a bunch of pictures but decided it would make this post way too long to put all of them in.  But for some scenary instead of beer, here's the Germany pavilion:

We continued around the lake clockwise and sampled a selection of food, beer and wine at each stop.  Since we had a little stamp book and my hubby is a little OCD with collecting (gotta catch'em all!) it was our mission to complete the book!

On our very first date my husband took me to the Redondo Beach Pier near his home town of Torrance and picked out an oyster with a pearl in it (I later had that pearl added to a heart pendant that I wore at our wedding).  Since then we like to buy the oysters whenever we see them.  They had this at the Japan Pavilion and since we were feeling pretty good by the time we made it to this side of the lake, had to have a go.  My husband managed to pick out an oyster with TWO identical off white pearls inside.  I walked out of Epcot that day with a nice set of earrings (for fairly cheap too).

Here's some more scenary shots:

Italy (looking back at the ball):



I was actually pretty amused by the Canadian pavilion.  I thought the long house next to the parliament buildings really brought the two sides of my country together.  Then we went into the long house and found:

Timmies!!!  Too bad they didn't have any donuts.

Here's a Guinness and a selection of cheeses from the Ireland booth!  (PS we LOVE cheese)

And for the Dr Who fans, we found these inside the Great Britain pavilion:

Sunset over Canada:

Water show on the way out:

This was a very long but enjoyable day.  Yes we did complete our booklet and have the stamp to prove it.  We headed back to the hotel and barely made it into bed before we were asleep.

The next day we headed out bright and early for Animal Kingdom.  This was one of the parks I couldn't miss on this trip.

We made our way down to the safari area and picked up a fastpass for about an hour later.  We wandered around a bit and found a self-guided area with various animals to pass the time.  The safari itself was pretty cool and a unique experience.

Here is a bloat of hippos:

And one of the many giraffes:

Our tour guide:

Another tour bus with stinky flamingos (we had a bad experience with them at the Seattle zoo, they will forever smell in our brains):

Again, I took many many more pictures but didn't include them here.  After the safari we made our way across the park and waited in a long line for the Mt Everest ride.  As I mentioned earlier I don't like roller coasters but the ones in Disney parks aren't too bad.  Basically my rule of thumb is if you can bring your bag on the ride it wont be too crazy. 

After seeing all the animals we could see there wasn't much left for us to do and it was only about 1 pm.  We decided to head over to Hollywood Studios (which we weren't originally planning to make it to) because Star Tours!

Giant Mickey Fantasia hat after coming in the main entrance:

Star Tours!!!

We explored the park but didn't do much.  We were pretty tired at this point so only hit up the attractions we were really interested in (Star Tours x 2 as there was little wait).

That night we went to the theater off I-Drive to watch Gravity in 3-D because we didn't want to miss it's run on the big screen.  

The next morning we packed everything up, checked out of our hotel and headed east our of Orlando.  Our rental car had a switchbox on the windshield we could turn on if we decided to have the tolls paid for by Budget (and then we were later billed for).  We decided to pay the daily service fee and just let Budget take care of the tolls so we wouldn't have to stop at any toll booths and figure out change.  In total we paid about $18 that day for all the toll roads we were on.

Just outside of Kennedy we could see quite a few alligators in the waterways along the road.  In fact we saw more there than we did later in our trip (details near the end).

We made it to Kennedy Space Center shortly after opening and spent some time taking pictures and checking out all the exhibits.  We did the bus tour (yay air conditioning) and I got ravaged by mosquito's when I went outside at the Apollo center to get some photos of the launch structure across the water.

Here's a picture hubby took of me with my fancy camera (Canon 30D):

Inside the Apollo/Saturn V center:

On our previous trip to visit hubby's family in California we went to the California Science Center shortly after the Endevour arrived.  It was pretty cool to see one of the space shuttles but the setup was nothing fancy since they hadn't built the permanent display yet.  I was super exited at the opportunity to see ANOTHER space shuttle up close.  They have a timed entrance into the Atlantis exhibit and you get to watch an inspirational video beforehand about the beginning of the shuttle program in the first room.  Then you move into a smaller room where you are surrounded by video projection of footage from Atlantis' missions.  Then at the end the screen at the front raises and the lights shine on the space shuttle which is suspended at an angle like it is circling around the Earth in space.  I am a huge nerd for these things and this got me right in the feels.  

Here's a photo of Atlantis from my little camera:

And here's a shot from my DLSR:

Here's hubby hanging out in the mock shuttle cockpit.  He had to wait his turn after some 8 year-olds.

Obligatory ball shot ;)

After finishing up our super-spacey day at Kennedy we made our way south.  Since we were all the way east and it was a Saturday afternoon, we decided to follow the I-95 all the way to Fort Lauderdale.  This saved us from any additional turnpike tolls and there wasn't any traffic to slow us down.

For our pre-cruise night I decided to take our chances with Priceline again and ended up with the Sheraton Beach for about $75 (regular almost $300). We made it to Fort Lauderdale before it got dark and ended up driving past our hotel trying to find somewhere to park to check in.  We made it back to the parking garage after making an awkward u-turn at a Doubletree and our hotel let us park there for free to check in.  We dragged our stuff into the hotel (from the parking garage you have to take a walkway over the street).  When we checked in it sounded like we were going to get the broom closet with a smaller bed but we got "upgraded" to a room with a king bed and a view of the ocean in the tower back across the walkway.  I definitely think flashing my SPG card here helped show some chain loyalty.

Here's the view from the room looking north-west.  To the left of this photo was the marina but we were on the wrong side of the building to see the cruise ships. The street area was very noisy that evening. 

Here's our room:

After checking in and dropping off our bags we headed back to the car and found a Denny's on the way back to the airport where we stopped for a light, cheap dinner.  We also stopped at Total Wine to pick up a couple bottles for our cruise.  We're not really wine connoisseurs and out of the two bottles we picked out, one was great and the other was meg.  One thing to note was we didn't have our passports on us when we stopped at Total Wine and the cashier and manager had trouble accepting my BC drivers license.  It must have been the first time they ever saw one and they thought it was fake.  Thankfully my husband had his old California license on him so they let us make our purchase.  It would have been much easier if we had carried the passports with us.

After leaving Total Wine we headed back to the airport and dropped off the rental car.  It was super easy to drop off the car and we only needed a little bit of directions to find the taxis.  Originally we weren't sure if we wanted to keep the car until the next morning (no change in rental cost for us) but ended up dropping it off the night before so we didn't have to take a taxi from the airport to the pier with everyone else.  This meant we had to take a taxi back to the hotel but then we didn't have to pay for parking at the hotel (so it evened out).

We settled in for the night but I had such a hard time sleeping.  I kept waking up, worried we were going to miss the ship.  The next morning finally came so we checked out and made our way to the ship.  We didn't have to wait long for a taxi at the hotel (a staff member waved one down for us) and within half an hour we were walking into the terminal.

Now for the cruise details.  Originally I had us booked in a D8 category balcony room on deck 8 for $999 CAD per person with a savings certificate for $125 off.  I caught an amazing price drop for Canadian customers after final payment and was able to upgrade to a JS (8648) on the same deck for only $200 CAD more per person.  For a once in a lifetime trip it was a no brainer!  The unfortunate part is after the double points on the JS and the cruise points my hubby apparently had from a cruise he went on with his parents many years ago that left us with 29 points: 1 point away from Platinum. What a horrible predicament!

Since we were staying in a JS we got to use the suite entrance at the terminal and waited in the suite lounge area.  Check in was quick but we were also there early about 10:30 am.  We watched the B2B'ers come off then eventually made their way back on to the ship and we got to board right after that (about 11:30 or so, it was 6 months ago so I don't remember the exact time).  Hubby and I were starving at this point since we didn't stop for breakfast before getting to the pier (we tend not to eat 3 meals a day on vacation).  I've read enough reviews on Cruise Critic to know that our first stop after getting on the ship was Park Cafe.  Because we were on so early I actually got the first roast beef sandwich of the lunch rush.

We finally made it to our room after lunch.  IT WAS HUGE!

We never used the coffee maker or kettle in the room.  Since we were on deck 8 my morning ritual was to pop over to Park Cafe, grab two coffees in to-go cups and a couple of the chili breakfast roll things that were absolutely delicious.  With the exception of the one time we went to the Windjammer for breakfast (which was super packed) we went to Park Cafe every morning.

Just a note about the door in the cabin.  Our cabin was a connecting with the D2 cabin next door.  We did hear some noise through the door but only when the occupants were fighting.  I can't remember what they were arguing about but they seemed to not be enjoying the cruise or each other's company.

I LOVED the walk in closet.  There was more than enough room for all our things and to store our suit cases.  There were two rows of shelves at the far end so hubby and I took our ebags full of clothes and just used those on the shelves. There were plenty of hangers and bathrobes which i think I used once or twice.  I also enjoyed having a bathtub instead of a shower (I was a little spoiled with one on my HAL OV on the previous cruise).

View looking towards the bow:

View looking aft.  We had the slanted patio which was still large enough for 2 chairs and 2 loungers.  We spent some time on the deck (mostly watching thunderstorms in the distance at night) but during the day found it to be a bit too muggy for us:

Here is a photo showing the furniture on the balcony:

Our muster drill station was in the promenade under the photo gallery.  It was noisy and crowded and there weren't any seats.  Being only 5'2" I complained I couldn't hear anything (safety is serious business) and wiggled my way up to the front of my "row".  I use row loosely because it was just a mob of people.  It sucked but eventually it was over and everyone dispersed in a chaotic mess.  This was the only time on the cruise (with the exception of the sales on the promenade and our one attempt at the Windjammer) that it really felt crowded.

I had reserved MTD for 7:30 pm for the week (with the exception of the nights we had specialty restaurants reserved) so my husband napped before dinner and I went exploring around the ship.  We found the food in the MDR to be "as expected" and enjoyed our meals and the service.  We had a table for 2 each night in the same area off to the port side of the room and dinner usually lasted about 45min to an hour for us.

After dinner we had 10:45 reservations for Oceanaria.  I had read that it was a good idea to get reservations to this show early in the cruise just in case it gets cancelled, then you have an opportunity to catch it later on.  We both really enjoyed the show.

Sunset from our cabin one night:

Waiting in line for a photographer on the first formal night (yay for free drinks).  A trick we learned on our first cruise: If you want to get your picture taken with your significant other, take turns taking pictures of each other with people near by.  Someone will offer to take a picture for you!

The promenade.  This was one of those many people times.  A note for non smokers.  Boleros is the indoor smoking venue in the back right below. The smoke smell was very noticeable in the promenade around there and I always had to detour to the other side to avoid it.  That was the only area that the smoke was really noticeable and the rest of the promenade was ventilated well enough that you couldn't notice it elsewhere. Also the casino had a smoking and non-smoking side (different entrances on either side of Studio B) but we never spent any time there to notice any smoke on the non-smoking side.

After dinner this little guy was waiting for us in our cabin:

We had reservations for Chicago at 10:30 that night so headed down after dinner.  I thought the production was great but I couldn't compare it to anything since I haven't seen the movie.  The couple in front of us wouldn't stop talking and getting all cozy with each other.  I guess they'd seen it before and were bored.  I asked them to be quiet and the left shortly thereafter.  I had an unobstructed view of the stage after that.

The next morning we arrived in Labadee!  On the agenda for the day was to hang out on a beach and spend some time floating in the ocean.  

After we made it off the ship I realized we forgot our water shoes in the room.  My husband went on ahead to secure some spots by the beach and I went all the way back to the room to get the shoes.  Thankfully by this time my feet had begun to heal so walking wasn't as painful anymore.   We had planned to spend the day at Columbus Cove, which was as far from the ship as possible.  Since our cabin was near the back of the ship I wasn't allowed to board at the first gangway.  I had to go alllllll the way to the one at the aft.  When I finally made it back ashore, and onto the tram, I found that my dear hubby had secured a couple loungers right by the water!   

Hubby floating under his mat to hide from me and the camera.

My view:

My labadoozie!

On our way back to the ship.  The aft gangway is waaay back there where there is a gap in the lifeboats.

Bye Labadee!

That night we had reservations for Chops at 8:30.  My husband felt it wasn't as good as the first time we went to Chops on Rhapsody the year before.  I still thought is was an excellent meal and would go there again.  Our biggest problem is not being hungry enough to eat all of our meals and then feeling bad for not finishing them. 

The next day we were in Falmouth, Jamaica.  Here'a photo from our balcony showing the ship backing in.

The ship towering over the shops in Falmouth.

For this port we decided to book the Horseback Ride N' Swim tour through the ship.  Our tour wasn't until the afternoon so we spent some time checking out the shops before we had to get ready to go.  We met up with our tour group just outside the shopping area and boarded onto a mini bus.  We drove what felt like halfway across the island while one of the guides told us about the history of the area.  I don't think I would have felt comfortable doing this tour on our own given how far we were going.

We finally arrived at our destination and I saw this lone horse just chilling in the water.

Here's another tour group doing the swim portion of the tour:

We were given helmets and led out to the where the horses were waiting.  The guides help you onto the horses by getting you to step onto a platform and then over the horse. Once you are on the horse they fit the stirrups to your feet and show you how to hold the reins.  They had a couple guides along with each group, one at the front and another near the middle.  We were middle of the pack and the guide offered to hold our camera and take pictures of us since they won't let you hold it yourself.  It was really nice that they offered this for us and deserving of a tip at the end.

I think my horse's name was Hersey.  For my husband, we called him Bitey because he kept nipping at another horse at the beginning.

After the ride along the trail we made it back and were helped off the horses at the platform.  We changed into bathing suits and were given a flotation belt to wear.  I struggled to get into my bathing suit because it was super humid and I was all sweaty.  Thinking back it would have been a better plan to wear it under my clothes.  It was really nice to get into the water since I don't do heat well.

They don't take pictures with your camera during the swim portion but they do have a staff photographer that will take pictures and offer them to you at the end.  I believe we got 10 photos for $25.  It was a reasonable price and we really wanted something to remember this part of the trip by.

Here's hubby on Bitey.

And me, rocking that foam belt.

I don't know what was going on here but it was cute.

Out in the water.  My husband didn't want to lose his glasses so he more felt the ride than saw it.

It was cool but weird riding in the water.  The horses were breathing hard once we got into the deeper water but I think they were able to touch the bottom the whole time.  At some point my horse decided to poop while we were out in the water.  My husband wasn't behind me at the time and I felt bad for the guy who was.  If the thought of riding a horse next to poop disturbs you then this might not be one for you.

At the end:

After the swim we dried off and changed out of our swimsuits. There was a bit of a wait before heading back to the ship and they had food that you could purchase.  We didn't get anything to eat but they were also selling 2 for 1 margaritas that were very tasty.  

We went to the headliner show that night but I can't remember what it was right now.  I remember it was entertaining.

Another towel animal in our room:

The world series was on while we were on the ship and since my husbands beloved Dodgers were eliminated it made things a lot easier for our marriage (our return flight was going to be during game 4 I think so I promised him I'd pay for in flight wifi if the Dodgers were playing).  They did have some of the games on the screens in the Oceanaria area that allowed my husband to get his baseball fix.

On the sea day I decided to try out the flowriders.  I gave the boogie board three attempts but couldn't get up on my knees (couldn't handle the water in my face) so I went over for a go at the stand up one.  I was in line for a while and started chatting with the other people waiting with me.  Turns out the guy in front of me was the guy my horse pooped on in Jamaica.  Awkward.

Finally my turn!  My bathing suit is technically a one piece but has two layers.  Since the top layer could have gone over my head I made sure to wear shorts.

Here's me getting set up.

I actually managed to ride unassisted for a few seconds.  I've snowboarded before and thought it would be like that.  

Well it's not like snowboarding.  Not enough to prevent this:

After that attempt we headed down to the Solarium (where we had been spending a lot of time already when at sea), picked out a couple loungers and got our cooler bag refilled with 8 beer.  

They were selling alcohol in pineapples that day so I had to get a couple since I didn't get my booze filled coconut:

It was formal night #2 that night so after a relaxing day by the pool reading we got ready for dinner and I got my picture taken with the Penguins!  I was very excited by this.

After dinner we had reservations for the comedy show.  We really enjoyed it and liked the intimate atmosphere of the venue.  The downside of it being so small is you have to really have to plan ahead to get a seat.  

The next day we made it to Cozumel.  We had booked the tour to Chitchen Itza through the ship.  Since we don't have any desire to go to Mexico for a land vacation we figured this would be out only chance to see a world wonder.  We knew it was going to be a long trip and we had to be up and waiting in the theater before we docked to assemble into our tour groups.

This was a dark and stormy morning.  While we had nice weather our entire time in Florida and the rest of the Caribbean, there was a tropical storm hanging over Mexico.  In order to get to the mainland we had to get on this crazy ferry.  There was thunder and lightning and huge waves and I think I found something that bothered me more than flying.  There was wifi on the ship so I took some video of how much we were rocking and posted it to my facebook page just in case we didn't make it back and people needed to know what happened.

Once we made it to the mainland we found a covered area to wait with a bunch of other people while trying to find out tour guides.  This whole time it's pouring rain and neither I nor my husband brought a jacket, umbrella or a poncho.

We found our tour group and then had to run through the pier area to get to the tour buses parked a couple blocks away.  We then had about 2.5 hours to dry off as we were driving towards the ruins.

The weather improved the further inland we went and only rained once while we were on the tour at the ruins.  Chitchen Itza was amazing to see and we managed to make it out to the cenote as well.  I took a bunch of photos with my DSLR but it was overcast so the lighting was very flat.

Here's another picture of me taking a picture:

The cenote.  It was a substantial walk to here through a long corridor of vendors.  We had a lot of vendors trying to get us to look at their wares (and hubby did want to find a souvenir) but we were super pressed for time and couldn't stop.

Overall I thought the ruins were amazing but it just wasn't enough time to really explore and enjoy them.  With 4-5 hours of bus and 1.5 hours of ferry I think we only had about an hour at the ruins.  For most of that we were with a tour group having everything explained (everyone was clapping in front of the pyramid stairs) so there was little time to explore on our own after.

I would recommend the tour if you really want to see a world wonder and wont get another chance.  If you think you might take a land based vacation to this area of Mexico it would be worth checking out then instead. 

The crazy ferry on the way back:

That night we had reservations for Samba.  I enjoyed most of the meat (except for lamb, not a big fan) and it was a unique dining experience.  It wasn't hard to convince hubby to give it a shot when I told him it was "meat on a stick".  

And another towel animal:

The weather was cooler on the last sea day so I was able to wear jeans again.  We spent some time enjoying the ship and made sure to get our 2 for 1 milkshakes at Johnny Rockets.  We also had reservations for Ice Games at 3 and Blue Planet at 5.  Ice Games was an awesome show and the skaters were very impressive on the small ice sheet but we both felt that Blue Planet was "alright".  The production was well done and visually impressive but it just felt like a brochure for environmental activism instead of telling a story. 

Hanging out on the carousel:

Also splurged on a couple cupcakes:

We had some drink coupons as well (thanks to being Gold C&A members) and made sure to get our two BOGO drinks.

We found this beer in the Bow and Stern and it was so good I had to take a photo to remember it by.  It was also 10% alcohol!!

We originally planned to eat in the MDR on the last night but decided to try Rita's instead.  The food was delicious and the portions were a lot larger than we anticipated.  


This is the look of despair on my hubby's face when his entree came out.  He was so full he could only eat part of his meal.

Here's the luggage lined up in the hallway that night.  The last night is always a sad time.

I booked our return flight through Choice Air since if there were going to be any issues I wanted the cruiseline to take care of us.  Our original flight left around 4pm on American and had a stop in Texas (can't remember which airport) and eventually gotten us into Seattle around 11pm.  A couple months after booking the airfare I noticed Alaska changed their morning non-stop flight between FLL and SEA to an evening flight and it was about the same price.  I called Choice Air to see if we could change and since I had booked "refundable" airfare originally I only had to pay the change fee.  It cost me about $300 for the two of us, but non-stop was so worth it since the less times I have to go up and down in an airplance (and subsequently change planes when drugged) the better.  The new flight didn't leave Fort Lauderdale until 6pm but actually got us into Seattle almost an hour earlier.  

To kill time between getting off the ship and the flight home I booked the Everglades tour through Royal Caribean that included the tour and a transfer to the airport.  

The airboat ride was a lot of fun and the weather was gorgeous.  We only saw two alligators on the tour (it was early and still too chilly for them to come out) but there was a lot of other wildlife and scenary to see.  Plus the ride was fun on it's own.

The water was very reflective!

After the ride we got to see someone wrestle with an alligator and put his head in it's mouth.  I felt a little bad for the alligators so here's a picture of one not having to perform.

After the show they brought out a baby alligator and offered to let people hold it for a photo op for $5.  I think my husband actually said "shut up and take my money".  

Here he is with a huge grin on his face.  This made the entire trip for him.  To this day he keeps saying "remember when I got to hold a baby alligator?"  Its kind of an issue since we're planning to go back to Alaska next month and he wants to know if he can hold a baby bear next.  Ummmmm.

After the tour and the alligator holding we returned to the bus (that wouldn't start for a bit) and eventually made it to the airport... at noon.  We had to wait 3 hours in the terminal before we could even check in our luggage since our flight was the only one for Alaska that day they had no staff until about 3pm.  We were really hungry and I found some food on the lower level but it was very expensive.  Once staff showed up we all waited in a long, slow moving line to drop off our luggage.  We finally made it through security and to the departure area about 4:30/5.  We had a burger in Chillis while waiting for our flight.  I took another ativan before boarding but this one didn't kick in soon enough for me for take off.  My husband actually commented that he could tell when the pill did kick in.

The flight home was relatively smooth, I think, again don't remember much (it's better that way).  We made it back to Seattle on time, waited for our bags then called the hotel to send the curtesy shuttle to pick us up.  Our car was still there (and still started, was worried since the starter is going) and we headed home north.   I think we collapsed into bed around 1 am PST.  We had booked the next day off work so we could rest and get some sleep after a long day of travel.