Friday, April 16, 2010

Room Service

Coming home after such a long, relaxing vacation was a bit of a shock to my system! I had to make my bed! And my dinner! And no one brought me breakfast in bed! (OK, I promise I'm really not such a brat - I just had really, really gotten used to room service and a cabin steward.)

My boys overheard me complaining about this abrupt change, and put together this room service menu for me:

How great is that? So maybe the cruise is over, but at least I get to keep my boys!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Day #10: Back in Puerto Rico

With the cruise officially over, we still had one final day to spend touring Old San Juan before returning home.

Probably the greatest attraction in San Juan is El Murro, an old fort that was used to defend the island against attack since the 16th century.

The whole gang in El Murro:

We had also heard about this great little park where there are a ton of very well behaved pigeons the kids could feed. They loved it!

The Caboose had them eating right out of his hand.

My mom was a tad unnerved at having a couple pigeons perched on her!

The view from Pigeon Park:

One thing I love about San Juan is how OLD everything is. This island was discovered by Columbus in 1495, and Ponce de Leon was the first governor. The oldest Christian church in the New World is in San Juan - built in 1523. It was pretty awe-inspiring to sit inside that church on Palm Sunday.

Here's another little church we found next to Pigeon Park:

The kids loved seeing the blue bricks that were used to stabilize the old explorers ships on their way to the New World. Those bricks were then used to pave the streets in San Juan.

By the tenth day of vacation, the kids were thoroughly exhausted. There was a ton more to see on the island, but the kids just wanted to get back to the hotel and relax. It had been a pretty intense routine for the last week and a half, so after a brief lunch, they returned to a nice, air-conditioned hotel room.

Even though they were all exhausted, Diamond and I managed a bit more shopping before heading to our hotel. But later that evening, we enjoyed a wonderful stroll through the old city. The colors and feel of that beautiful, old city were amazing!

One final day of travel, leaving at 4am EST and not getting home until 10pm MST, and we were home. Our amazing, exciting, relaxing vacation was in the books. Oh, it was wonderful!

Day #9: St. Maarten

Our last island of the cruise was St. Maarten (Dutch)/St. Martin (French).

My parents with the older kids:

Our first stop was to the French side of the island for the market, where there was a ton of super cute jewelry and souvenirs. Diamond was just thrilled to speak french with the locals.

After a morning at the market we headed to this amazing beach. You can see Diamond tossing a ball in the foreground.

Most of the trip had been spent on the Caribbean side of the sea. Beautiful beaches to be sure, but not much in terms of waves. In St. Maarten we were able to find a beach along the Atlantic with some great water. Here's my dad working with BB#2, teaching him to body surf in the Ocean.
While there wasn't the best snorkeling, we were able to find a school of angelfish and feed them some cereal. It was pretty incredible - the fish were eating out of our hands, swimming all around us, all slimy and wiggly. Very cool.

I was able to get some video of the fish:

I think this is one of BB#1's favorite pictures. Ice cream at the beach? Doesn't get much better.

But I'm kinda partial to this one:

Coming to a Christmas card near you, Winter 2010:

Monday, April 12, 2010

On Board

The old competitive, obnoxious, loud-mouth Ganelle came out in full force on this cruise, and I'll tell you, IT FELT SO GOOD! I have (tried to) put a pretty good lid on my less socially accepted character traits for the last couple years, but on the cruise, I let it all hang out. And look at how it paid off! One trophy and four metals!

At the urging of Diamond and my sister, I put myself out to be selected to play Game Show. (I'm on the far right.)

And I totally WON! The prize? A ship on a stick! Yeah! I am SO proud of this little baby!

While I am irrationally proud of my trophy, my most hard-earned of all my trinkets was from playing "Fill in the Lyrics" at the piano bar. It was too close to call between me and a guy named Ralph from CA, so we had a sing-off, as in, who could sing the loudest. You'd think I'd be the hands down winner, but when everyone voted it was another tie! Finally, on round five of Name That Tune, Ralph pulled ahead and won. I ended up with a metal, but it was SO! MUCH! FUN!

I wasn't the only one being rewarded for bad behavior. The Caboose was put in time out for misbehaving at dinner one night. A waiter walked by, noticed what was going on, and said to the Caboose, "No, no, no! I make you a mouse!" He grabbed him by the hand, pulled him out of time out, and proceeded to make a mouse out of a napkin for him, which the Caboose played with the rest of the night.

The next night, when he was acting up again, I asked him if he wanted to go to time out he said "No", then stopped and thought, "Umm, YEAH!"

Folding napkins into various shapes became a big hit among all the kids. Our regular waitress taught all the kids how to make those same mice.
While we often went separate ways in the day, every night we were able to have dinner together. It was a great way to meet all the different needs of everyone in the group, and yet still feel like a family vacation.

The graduates!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Day #8: St. Kitts

We had been to St. Kitts before, and to be honest, it wasn't my favorite island. (I think it had something to do with unwittingly ending up on a very long tour of the island.) I was perfectly willing to just stay on the boat and relax that day. But with a Caribbean beach just a cab ride away, we decided to take a slow morning, and then head to the beach for the afternoon. It turned out to be a very relaxing day.

The Caboose and his cousin at Cockleshell beach in St. Kitts.

My parents left a bit earlier than Diamond and I, and took the older kids up to Brimstone Hill, an old British fortress.

The stunning view from Brimstone Hill:

After they checked out the fort, they meet us at the beach. While there weren't too many fish to see, BB#1 found a pretty cool conch shell while snorkeling.

St. Kitts is home to wild monkeys. Much in the way we have deer crossing the road, we saw monkeys scurrying across the street. There were also several locals that had 'pet' monkeys they would carry around - wearing diapers!

The Caboose LOVED having a chance to hold these monkeys. It's probably the thing he talks about the most from our entire trip.

I will say that I enjoyed St. Kitts much more this time around. Maybe it was my lower expectations, maybe it was a better beach, maybe it was our great cab driver, maybe it was the monkeys...

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Day #7: St. Lucia

We opted for a tour of the island while in St. Lucia. While we were able to enjoy these stunning vistas, it felt like we were in the van for a very long time.

We started our tour at a banana tree farm.

Bananas in the making. (I find things like this very interesting.)

I just love how the Caboose's stance pretty well replicates Diamond.
We also stopped by a waterfall, but to be honest, it didn't even compare to the waterfalls in Dominica.
We also got a bit of time on the beach located between the two Pitons.

You'd almost think this picture is of Kathy Ireland or something. Umm, maybe not.


Day #6: Barbados

Our day in Barbados was spend on this catamaran. It was amazing - so relaxing and beautiful.

I was more than a bit nervous that the Caboose would be prone to fall overboard, I should have realized that he'd be taking over the boat in no time:

At the front of the catamaran was this spot perfect for lounging about.

They took us out to a snorkel spot and then to the turtles. I was able to both pet and feed the turtles - way super cool. I got this great shot on my camera:

I think this is my new "happy place" that I can go to in my head; lounging on the catamaran feeling the waves jostling us gently while listening to the Caboose laughing. Ahhh...