Happy New Year!!! (Give or take a week…) and tales from the high seas!
I hope 2013 is off to a fantastic start for you! We’ve been VERY busy since I last wrote…
Mid December we packed up 98% of our belongings (and a few things that weren’t even ours) into as few bags as possible (which still ended up being an insane amount) and headed out for an 8 day vacation. That’s right… Anthony and Jack (and their weary parents, grandparents and uncles) were off on another adventure! This time we took to the high seas for a 7 day cruise to Aruba, the Bahamas and Curacao!
Now, I love a cruise. LOVE! It’s my favorite way to vacation. Particularly when you are travelling with a large group. This is the third time we have done a family cruise and the rule is we all meet for dinner. During the day everyone can do anything they want to, but every night we have dinner together in the dining room. Often we end up hanging out together during the day as well, but we don’t HAVE to all be on top of one another for the entire trip. It works out beautifully!
This trip was a gift from my parents as a celebration of the many exciting events which took place over the past year, including my parents’ 40th wedding anniversary, my dad’s retirement and my brother’s wedding. (I also like to think it was a reward to me for surviving another year as the mother of these two crazy boys….)
I know, what you are thinking,” WHY ON EARTH would you take an almost 2 year old on a cruise?!? That’s insanity!” Well, first of all, I never said we were sane! But in all honesty, we knew the boys would LOVE it. Jack’s favorite things are parties, music, dancing and food. I don’t know if you’ve ever been on a cruise ship, but you can find most, if not all of those things happening simultaneously, pretty much 24 hours a day. Throw in the 7 swimming pools and the stops at various beaches and you’ve got one happy toddler.
Anthony, we were not worried about at all. He is actually a fantastic traveler. Well, except for one small detail…. he gets motion sickness. Usually it’s caused by trying to read, watch tv or play a game on an airplane when there’s turbulence, or occasionally in the car if it is a particularly curvy ride. That being said, he’s VERY good about letting us know ahead of time so we can prevent major disasters…. (more on this in a minute).
So, we packed up the beach toys, 352 cases of sunscreen, diapers, wipes, 14 bathing suits each, hats, glasses, 983 shoes (yes, I know that’s an odd number… things happen and pairs get split sometimes) stroller, car seat, crib, emergency snacks, toys, sippy cups, dish washing detergent to clean sippy cups, the world’s BEST beach bag (thank you Laury!), beach robes, pjs, special blankies, back up blankies, crib sheets, socks, 2 sets of black tie attire for the formal nights per person, sun shirts, swimming goggles, specially molded ear plugs for Jack’s ear tubes, shorts and t-shirts for daytime, pants and golf shirts for the dining room at night, special diaper trash bags, a drug store worth of medications – times three (we have to have little kid, big kid AND adult dosages) a pallet of children’s Dramamine sea bands, head phones, books, ipods, running shoes, workout stuff (for me!) favorite stuffed animals, back up stuffed animals, cameras, jewelry, passports, kitchen sink, etc……
and headed off for our relaxing vacation. Now, I am not generally what you would think of as … calm. Travelling tends to stress me out. Travelling with 8 people, (2 of them being my children) makes me a solid candidate for all kinds of pharmaceutical intervention. Travelling with 8 people during flu season as we are about to board a ship for a week, well…. let’s just say I am pretty sure I caught a glimpse of orderlies with straight jackets following me around on more than one occasion.
On the plane, we discover that Jack had grown just enough since the last flight that his feet now perfectly reach the seat in front of him. Not an issue until the woman in that seat leaned back to adjust her seatbelt, moving her seat toward him several times. He thought this was a game and pushed back. Then did it again… and again… and… well you get the idea. So I take his shoes off. Still reaches the seat. I slide his carseat to the side. Still reaches. Every time I try to keep him from kicking, he does it again. Every time he kicks, she whips her head around like she’s a king cobra ready to strike. Finally when we get into the air and can put the tray table down, I prop his legs on top of the table and he can no longer reach the seat. Calm is restored. UNTIL…. ‘Ladies and gentlemen, please return your seats and tray tables to the full, upright and locked positions…..” (queue foreboding music) You’d have thought the kid was half kangaroo. So the whipper in front of me is snapping her head back and forth so fast I can’t believe she didn’t throw her spine out of alignment (mind you she hasn’t said a single word to me the entire trip) and I am now holding Jack’s feet down against his car seat to keep him from kicking. He is SCREAMING at the top of his lungs, both from having his legs restrained and because this was his first trip since his tubes and I think the pressure was really bothering him, and there’s not a damn thing I can do to stop any of it short of letting him rabbit kick this woman all the way down to the ground.
We land. The woman pops up out of her seat and starts to turn around. I am at the END of my rope and am ready, READY for her to make a comment because I am about to unleash the fury if she says anything since I just restrained my child and tortured the rest of the passengers for a solid 15-20 min… She turns all the way around, leans towards us and says…. “Awww! What’s wrong baby? Why are you crying? Poor little guy!” $#&*()#@^)(*@&*($#P&*()P^*(!!!!!!! I WAS HOLDING HIM DOWN BECAUSE OF ALL YOUR PISSY, PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE,NOT SAYING ANYTHING,JUST GIVING MY BABY DIRTY LOOKS- HEAD SNAPPING!!! THAT’S WHAT’S WRONG!!!
In any event, we managed to make it to Florida and to our hotel with out much more drama. We did traumatize our hotel shuttle driver when he pulled up and saw 6 people and 37 bags (My brother and Arjan were meeting us at the hotel later that evening as they had to fly from Holland first)… but fortunately they had a u-haul attached to the back of the bus and all was well. (And we are FANTASTIC tippers… particularly to people who have our vacation supplies in their control…)
Normal nonsense at the hotel, and transport to the cruise port the next day… Jack, not being a big fan of sitting still was wanting to move, run, climb, jump, etc. So we did a lot of turn taking with who was going to chase him next. The down side to having 6 adults and 2 kids, is that every adult (and even Anthony) has a suggestion for how to control Jack. Truth be told, not a single one of us actually have a magic method that works, but when he is screaming and fighting as I drag him away from the cruise port trash can for the 834th time, I am not often terribly open to suggestions, and I can be kind of bitchy about it. I don’t intend to be! But, it happens. (Sorry to my family!)
We magically get the ok to go on board EARLY, thanks to my parents decision to “go for it” and book Grand Suite for themselves for this celebration trip. (Which, by the way, was Amazing! Of course now Anthony and Jack think that’s what all of our future cruises will be like. They’ll have a big surprise when we have to take turns rowing on our next trip…) The boys, as expected, were blown away by the sheer enormity of the boat. Our bags arrived quickly, we got settled, made it through the mandatory drill and headed up to deck for the sail away party. Jack’s feet had not even hit the floor and he was already shakin’ his booty like a champion. This boy danced like he was on stage at MTV’s Spring Break from the first note he heard until he was asleep that night. He pulled out break dancing moves that I’ve never even seen before, it was absolutely hilarious! So vacation was well underway and all was right with the world as we sailed away from all of our day to day worries and the stress of “real life”.
This has already been MUCH longer than I meant for it to be, so I’ll share more tales from the trip in following posts, but I have to share this one now…
So dinner time rolls around.
We are all in great spirits. Jack is entertaining the waiters and is still cute enough (and small enough) to get away with throwing all of his silverware on the floor when he thinks no one is looking. Anthony is in heaven… a huge basket of rolls, chicken fingers, fries, fresh fruit, and a chocolate volcano for dessert. It was the first night of vacation, so I said “why not”. He’s about 89% of the way through the chocolate volcano when he stops eating and sits back, pressing himself against the chair. He’s as white as a ghost and visibly sweaty. “Buddy, are you ok?” I ask, knowing the answer. “I think I want to go back to the room.” No problem. I look at Curtis, and say in a low voice “take him… I’ll get the baby. move. fast. now!” He takes one look at Anthony, sees what I see and jumps up quickly and pulls Anthony’s chair out for him.
A little background- we are at a table of 8, in the very back corner of the formal dining room. We have to walk through the entire place, passing all of the other diners to get out. We are also 3 levels away from our stateroom and there’s only 2 elevators accessible from this location.
Anthony stands up, looks at me and simply says “It’s coming.” I whip my head around (learning from the head whipping master on the plane) to search for a bucket, trash bag, ANYTHING and only can find a large plate with a slightly elevated rim. I throw it in front of Anthony just in time. He fires….. not once, not twice, THREE TIMES. He threw up food that he had eaten back in 2008. Chocolate volcano and all. Meanwhile Jack is basically sitting underneath Anthony as he is leaning over hurling. I am wedged in between them, holding Jack back from grabbing Anthony, the plate, or anything else involved in this situation. Jack takes this opportunity to bite down on my arm with so much force that Great White Sharks started swimming up to the window behind us on the ship to show their respect for his chomping prowess. Curtis is stuck standing behind this scene, unable to really do anything to help and the rest of my family is sitting across from us around the circular table, watching this ridiculous episode from their front row sears, and trying, unsuccessfully, not to laugh out loud.
By some miracle, the entire mess was completely contained in the dish. He didn’t miss the mark with so much as a drop! He then straightens himself up, looks right at me and says “Wow! Now that that’s over, I feel AWESOME!” And trots off happily with Curtis to head back to the room leaving me with the full to the very brim, plate of nastiness and with the privilege of flagging down our waiter to confess to what had just happened. Needless to say, we ALL threw in extra money for his tip at the end of the week.
So that’s the story from the first day of our cruise. 🙂 I’ll share more soon, including fun stories about what’ s been happening since then, some fitness stuff, including the story of my PR from a race this past weekend, but for now Anthony is home from school, so it’s time to start the 4 hour marathon of homework, dinners, showers, and nonsense that will bring us right to bedtime.
I hope you all had a fantastic holiday and a Happy New Year!!