Thursday, October 25, 2012

Me No Bloggy

Blogger warning:  This blog contains no pictures.  (I know, I'm slacking.  No pictures isn't even the half of it.)

So. I'm going to try to keep it short.

But, behold, the next blog will probably be a good deal of pictures.  I'm just sayin'.


So here's the low-down on the last, geesh, five weeks?  (How does time sneak away like that?)

I finally got back into the classroom teaching after a week off for much needed vaca.

Little did I know that I'd contract some kind of utter awfulness while at school that week and spend the entire (and I do mean entire) next week in bed, on the couch, or in urgent care.

It was awful, friends.  Awful.  A dear friend of mine stated, "Momma's don't often get sick, but when we do, it takes us out of the game for good," and that was exactly where I found myself.

I went from happy and feeling good to nauseous and feeling *bad* (which can't even begin to describe it) within a matter of a few short hours.  In the hours and days that followed I experienced back pains that could be compared to nothing more than awful, exhausting back labor, more nauseousness, awful headaches, sinus congestion and runny nose issues, along with a sore throat, a body aches, chills and hot flashes and every kind of miserableness known to (wo)man.  Fo' real.  When I finally broke down and visited urgent care, a blood draw said "viral" and a urine specimen said "probable urinary tract infection."  Two days later they called to say that two of the three medications they had prescribed me "should not be utilized together" (why, thank you), and then another two days after that they called to say they didn't really know what was wrong with me, all the signs came back as urinary tract infection, but the culture itself did not.  To quote, "visit your primary care physician immediately."  Hmmm, still don't have one of those.  So I finished the antibiotic and have moved on with life.

It's on my to-do list, I promise.

SO - after missing a week of work and a week of life, I had to come back with a vengeance   (Folks, there were halloween costumes to be made, traditions to uphold, lesson plans to be made, and a birthday party to plan... there wasn't time for one week of sickness.  Not one.)

And that's what we've been doing since:  making halloween costumes, catching up at school, planning birthday activities for the oldest (who will be FOUR, mind you... FOUR.  Waaaah!), getting Thanksgiving plans and advent plans in the works, thinking about Christmas gifts, and attending t-ball practice, games and planning the end of the season activities for that as well.

This momma's tired.

BUT, as promised, I have been taking a lot of pictures of the aforementioned activities, and will grace you with pictures when I find within myself the motivation to upload them on the computer.  (Because, friends, then I must upload the share site and the ongoing family scrapbook with said pictures.  Yawn.)

So there it is.  There's an 'almost four' birthday party tomorrow.  I'm stoked and sad at the same time.  He'll be my baby boy always, but golly he's getting big :(


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Virgin Cruiser No More

I am the keeper of an unwritten bucket list.  It's more like a 'fly by the seat of my pants' bucket list.  The only items that have been in any way consistent on that list have been the following:  write a book (and it's number one), run a marathon (I may kick the bucket if I ever attempt this one), and go on a cruise.

Though I set out to do number one and number two this year on my 2012 goals, as I was seeing them not come to fruition (though I do have about 12 chapters of said book completed, but a long way to go), the cruise seemed like a must do.

To understand my 'cruise' desire, you have to understand my drive.  I love the ocean.  As flippantly as we use the word love, it feels like it's not good enough.  I don't love the ocean like I love God or like I love my family, but as much as you can love something that doesn't love you back, boy do I love the ocean.

I love the ocean because I can't measure God.  For real.  I love the ocean because it's huge, and I can stand myself up against it, the waves can lap over my toes, I can look outward and to my peripheral and all I can see is water.  Vast, mysterious, deep water.

The ocean always reminds me of God.  It's the closest large thing I can compare Him to.  It's my getting a handle on His width and girth and height.  I can stare at the ocean and think, "He is immensely bigger than this."  Standing at the edge of the ocean makes me stand at awe of an almighty, all powerful, amazingly big God.  (Cue my three year old singing, "My God is so big, so strong and so mighty, there's nothing my God can not do... for you!)


Thus - my cruise on the bucket list came to be when I considered being able to look at the ocean from  the ocean... where there is no land in sight... only water, water and more water.

And so we did, and folks, let me tell you, our God is so big.  Not only is He bigger than that water that stretches and stretches past every horizon, He created it and everything in it.  Many times I said to the hubs, "I wish I knew what was under us right now.  The draw of fish and whales and sharks and the unknown is great and mysterious and wonderful.  After posing the question I'd think, 'It is so cool that God knows.'  I imagine Him whispering to me, "If only you could see it, Alicia!"  Amazing.

So - to lighten up some of the spiritually heavy that I just verbally exploded, here's my top ten things I learned while cruising (in no particular order):

1.)  Throw the diet off the ship.  Seriously.  If there's a time to try new foods and eat to your heart's content, it's now.  Nearly all of your food is included.  The dining room fare was amazing, and though it's classy and great quality, it has an underlying 'all you can eat' quality.  Can't decide on a starter? Order two.  Can't decide between mahi mahi (which I tried, by golly!) or the steak?  Get both.  (A gentleman next to us ordered three, count them, three entrees one night, and the waiter didn't blink an eye.)  Two desserts?  Go for it.  One night we tried, accumulatively, five of the desserts off the menu and tasted all of them.  Not to be obsessive, but because this is the time for trying new things.  I can proudly say I tried Lobster tail, mahi mahi, a clam cake, baked Alaska, a souffle, and several other items I would never order any other time for fear of wasting money and hating them.  And I liked more of them than I would have expected! (Not to mention the 24 hour pizza place, ice cream and room service, all free.)

2.)  True story, as we were leaving port on Monday, watching the dolphins jump in the bay, I said, "We have to make sure to wear sunscreen, this is like a gigantic reflecting pool out here."  The next day we hung out on the Lido deck for maybe an hour.  I, and my hasn't seen sun since before Ansley was conceived tummy', was roasted and toasted and burnt to a crisp upon returning back to our stateroom.  Moral of the story:  the ocean... it's like a big reflecting pool that draws in the sun.  Wear sunscreen.  (And yes, even with it on, you'll still get a tan.  50 spf got me tan the rest of our trip.)

3.)  Let's talk blow dryers.  Take your own.  You'll hear this whole, "nothing on the ship is more dangerous than fire," spill, which I'm sure is true, and the will steer you away from your heat related items like blowdryers and flat irons.  So they put this blow dryer like contraption in your state room bathroom.  Somehow, holding it, my hand would always feel as if it had caught fire, but 45 minutes later my hair was never dry.  (Input point: It usually takes 5 minutes to dry my hair.  Tops.)  Tip:  if you want dry hair, take your own blow dryer.  Otherwise, scrunch, curl or throw it up.  That's what I did... and flat ironed later ;)

4.)  Speaking of hair.  There's something about traveling at 23 knots and being in the middle of the ocean with nothing to block the wind that makes it, well, windy, when you're up on the top deck.  If your hair tangles easily, I suggest detangler.  If it doesn't, I still suggest detangler, because tangles there will be.  My hair on the lido deck was up... a lot.

5.)  Ok - so we were advised to take dramamine, just in case.  Better to have it than be without if we needed it.  So, like chickens, we took it the first two days on the cruise to 'prevent' motion sickness.  We found out later that neither one of us got nauseous, but dramamine or not, if the boat is 'arockin, you are going to feel it.  And 'arockin' it did on our second day out.  Granted, we heard long experienced cruisers say they'd 'never felt it like this before', telling us we'd been in rough seas that day.  None-the-less, it wasn't scary, and quite frankly, it was somewhat funny.  I don't know how the boat sold any alcohol that day.  You didn't need it to get the desired effect.  People were topsy turvy all over the place!

6.)  So - when you get on your ship, they give you a little time to get accustomed, but before you head out of port, you do a drill.  The drill should be pretty easy, and pretty short for that matter, but keep in mind that everyone in the ship (approximately 4000 on our ship) is required to be in a limited space on one deck.  Still not a huge deal for a short time.  However, add in the factors that it is hot and humid outside, you are layered about 10 people deep with little breeze, and that every state room has to be checked for those who think they are above the drill, thus, you stand there waving yourself profusely and watching those stragglers come moseying through like the drill has really put them out.  What should take 10 minutes immediately becomes 30.  Moral of the story, don't be there super early.  You'll be the closest to the ship, the hottest, and the last ones to leave.

7.)  So - we cruised with Carnival (aka - The 'Fun'ship), so I can only speak to their systems, but you'll be bombarded with entertainment options - many of them free - while you are on board.  Included will be karaoke shows, music options, comedy shows, and even broadway style shows.  The broadway style shows were listed with a rating in our daily news sheet.  After hearing the cruise director speak on the Las Vegas style show, "equipped with g-strings and feathers', we decided not to go to it.  It was rated PG-13 in our notes.  The next night was a PG rated show, that I probably would have taken my kids to see.  Thankfully, they were not in tow, or I would have been explaining to my four year old why there were so many women with no underwear on (lots and lots of g-strings).  Ratings don't mean much.

8.) Excursions?  To do or not to do?  Our opinion:  to do.  Unless all you plan to do is hang out on the boat or shop off the pier (which you can buy the same things at every pier it seems), an excursion is worth the time and money.  We took one at one port and didn't at the other, and we wish we would have.  Tip:  if you go to Cozumel, do the Buggy and Snorkel at Punta Sur.  You won't be disappointed.  (And we'll pray that Nacho is your tour guide.  He was great!)

9.)  Explore the boat.  Ok, so I'm going to be a little vague about this one.  But the views from the boat are all different.  From the back of the boat, you can watch your trail go off into the distance.  We found it difficult to get to the front of our boat, until we realized two things:  A.) The gym was at the very front of the boat and you had to walk through the spa to get to it.  (The spa that we weren't visiting.)  When we finally reached the courage to ask them where the gym was, we were pointed straight through, and sure enough, you can treadmill and elliptical your little rear off right there in the front of the ship.  Full length glass windows, all the way across.  Want to be on a deck?  Well, we discovered on deck ten of our ship, there was a door that led to the outside deck in the front that frequently said, "Closed due to high winds."  We may have snuck out there one night to get a view.   It was fantastic.

10.)  And lastly - as I mentioned previously... God is huge, and awesome, and mighty, and even out there in the midst of the ocean, He is there.  I'd venture to say He is especially there.  And it was awesome.

There's my novel.

Until next time.