Cruise 10, Vacations

Sorting It Out – Vacation Prequel

Well. It’s over.

Why do vacations seem anti-climatic? I suppose everything feels that way after you’ve waited weeks (months) for something to happen and then it HAPPENS and suddenly…….

It’s over.

It’s like the day-after-Christmas feeling, I guess.

One thing though, it really makes you appreciate coming home that much more. Don’t get me wrong, vacations ROCK, but it’s sooooo nice to finally get home, back on home turf and surrounded by familiar things and routines.

Traveling used to freak me out. And when I say freak out, I mean freak out. (i.e. bitchy). It’s like if I dared to forget something we were all doomed because God FORBID I would have to go into a foreign drug store and buy whatever I forgot. I used to get so uptight when I traveled, just ask Kevin. I really don’t know what my problem was.

But now? I’m a lot more laid back about things – more so than the rest of my guys, I’d say.

When we travel, it’s like I go into a zone. I’m relaxed, only I’m not. I think I’ve finally learned to just trust God and take whatever happens and just sort of … deal with it. It’s hard to explain. But like when we’re on a plane, and there’s turbulence, and Dude shoots me a terrified look because so much of how he reacts stems from my reaction, (he’s always been that way – he uses me as an emotional radar which is a challenge because I’m, um, emotional), and I’m sitting there with my arms crossed, looking a bit bored on the outside and tightening up on the inside because hello, I’m human and I get just as nervous as the next person whenever the plane bumps and jiggles, and yet, I’m not truly scared because I honestly believe, in my heart, that we’ll be okay.

It just doesn’t occur to me that something bad could happen. It goes beyond confident … it’s more of a deep-seated faith sort of thing, I guess.

Like I said, it’s hard to explain.

Where was I …

Oh yes. Vacation is over. It’s back to reality.

*sigh*

Don’t get me wrong, I like my life, I like my reality, but it’s sooooo nice to get away from every day hassles and do something fun with the entire family. It’s so rewarding to actually have a conversation with my sons at the dinner table instead of them scarfing down their food, answering my questions with monosyllables and then rushing off to get back on their computer / video games.

When we’re on vacation, we’re a family. We laugh, we connect, we bond, we have FUN.

And then we come home and every one is off doing their own thing – myself included. It’s like there are too many distractions when we’re at home but when we’re on the road and on vacation, we don’t have Internet access and there’s so much to see and do that we don’t have the resources to do anything but just BE together – we’re FORCED to interact with each other and though I know that probably sounds lame, it’s true.

I think that’s one of the biggest reasons I love our family vacations – we connect, we laugh, we get to know each other and see sides of each other that we were either too distracted to see or didn’t take the time to see before.

I have a TON of pictures to sort through. We all had our own cameras so we all took a lot of pictures. I always find it interesting to see what the boys took pictures of – their perspective is often times so different than my own. It’ll take me a little while to sort through them and post them to Flickr. Especially now that I’m in the middle of reformatting my main computer, but I’ll get there eventually.

I’ll go into more detail about each aspect of our vacation later but for now, here are our initial thoughts:

New York

Kevin liked it.

The boys did not. They thought it was too crowded and WAY too noisy and confusing.

I liked it, though I wasn’t too crazy about Times Square. I had major sensory overload what with the building-sized advertisements, the crazy noise and the sheer number of people pressing in on me from all sides. I’d like to go back to Times Square simply because I know what to expect now and would be better prepared to actually enjoy it. I can’t imagine how crazy it must be New Year’s Eve.

Cruise

Kevin had a chance to rest and recuperate from the New York days. (More on that later).

The boys loved it. They got to eat when they wanted, they got to sleep when they wanted, they had their own cabin, i.e. space, and they spent the majority of their time in their cabin, though they did spend a lot of time in the video game room, too. The boys get a taste of freedom when we go on cruises (we keep track of each other by walkie-talkie so they do their thing, we do our thing – perfect. I mean, where are they going to go??) and I think they really dig the independence.

I fought to maintain my equilibrium nearly the whole time we were sailing because this was the first cruise that the boat REALLY rocked. I had to take three Draminine and though that sounds terrible, it really wasn’t. Once I had taken the Draminine and had laid down for a few minutes, I felt much better. So it sounds like I was sick the whole time, I wasn’t, and this absolutely does NOT deter me from future cruises – I still love them.

Canada

Kevin was pretty tired from New York and yet somehow found the strength to tour Saint John and Halifax. He loved it and felt frustrated that he didn’t have the strength to explore it more.

The boys really seemed to enjoy the history story told by our guides. Both Saint John and Halifax has some interesting history which I’ll be sharing with you all next week.

I fell in love with Canada. The countryside is beautiful and the people were super friendly. I’m really looking forward to going back and exploring more towns and provinces.

I also wrote down a few things that I wanted to remember and didn’t really have a lot to do with anything else – just snapshots of vacation moments. For example:

  • I can’t tell you how many times we laughed over the word “undulating.” The boys told us that when they spent the night with their cousins, one of them (the youngest – 14), commented about how a snake was undulating behind a bush in a game they were playing. They burst out laughing, having never heard the word before and laughed even louder when they found out it was in fact a real word and means “to present a wavy appearance.” It was funny that a 14-year old boy would use the word and Kevin CONSTANTLY used that word in every possible context you can imagine for the ENTIRE vacation. It got old, but was somehow funny each and every time.
  • I’m not a big beef eater. I like beef, and I’ll scarf down the occasional steak now and again, but for the most part? I’ll pass and take chicken instead. We had steak at dinner one evening. And it was delicious. I like mine well done (and dry), Kevin likes his medium and Dude ordered his medium rare. (Jazz didn’t order steak, of course. He’s a VERY picky eater). Kevin and I were shocked that Dude liked his meat that bloody, but the boy ate every bite. The next day, at the buffet-style lunch, they were serving the same kind of meat. For some weird reason, I grabbed a pretty sizeable chunk thinking we would all share it because I only wanted a few bites, not the whole thing. Only, the guys were not interested in eating it and it was under cooked and bloody so I wouldn’t have eaten it even if I liked my meat cooked that way so … I ended up throwing the entire piece of meat away, untouched. I’ve felt so guilty about that ever since! What a waste! Shame on me!!
  • The only “free” beverages on the boat were water, lemonade and tea. You had to pay for soda (and Dude was the only one who drank any soda when we were on the boat – guess how much ONE can of soda cost? $4.50!!!! WTH?!?), so Kevin requested lemonade and I got it for him. We were eating lunch when Kevin reached over and knocked over his lemonade … directly into Dude’s lap. Poor boy had to walk back to his cabin to change his pants with a huge wet spot on his groin. Talk about embarrassing!
  • We ended up in a handicapped room for Kevin. And though this room was nice and big, it was right next to a Pool machinery room. I don’t know if that had anything to do with the LOUD and OBNOXIOUS banging that we heard at 5:00 in the morning, every morning, or not, but all I can tell you was that it was extremely annoying and woke us up every time. We think it might have been the hot water heater because we would hear a valve open, fill with water, then when it shut off, it would rattle the pipes and they would end up banging together from the pressure. This would happen at 5:00 in the morning, right about the time people would be getting up to take their showers. We complained to Guest Services, but it was never fixed. They sort of blew us off (which really ticked Kevin off), but we figured they needed to know. If nothing else, it might help fix the problem a little sooner for the people who stayed in that cabin on later cruises.
  • We were in Times Square. And we were getting ready to cross the street when we heard an ambulance. Only, it looked like it was pulling over and we went ahead and crossed the street. Unbeknownst to us, until the thing was practically on top of us, it had only slowed down to bypass some traffic. It came straight for us.

    Here’s the ambulance.

    Here’s Kevin, walking across the street slowly and with his cane.

    Here’s me, watching the ambulance barreling down on Kevin.

    It was like a Matrix moment. Everything was vivid, colorful and in slow motion as I witnessed the ambulance screaming toward the love of my life as he hobbled across the street. I had a bird’s eye view of potential disaster. I yelled at Kevin to hurry up and get across the street and to the man’s credit, he MOVED. That was the fastest he has walked since his accident. He insists that the ambulance wasn’t that close, but I can assure you, it was. It scared the bejeebees out of me. How IRONIC would that have been? A man who has only been walking for three weeks to get hit by an ambulance? I’m pretty sure I lost ANOTHER three or four weeks from that incident alone.

That’s it for now. I’ll be going through pictures this weekend and should have them ready by Monday. In addition, I took a few videos as well while we were there and I’ll post those, too.

In the meantime, thanks for reading about my little adventures. Enjoy your evening!

New York '10
(Jazz’s “serious” face just cracks me up!)

Cruise 10, Vacations

Preparing for Vacation

Kevin went to the spine doctor today. We had to wait an hour before he was called back (and just think, this is BEFORE Obamacare).

His spine is fine. His compression fracture, though not to be taken too lightly, was never that serious to begin with. He no longer has the wear the brace (he actually hadn’t been wearing it for the past two weeks), and though the doctor doesn’t anticipate any problems, they did go ahead and take another x-ray, just to be on the safe side. We’ll likely find out the results of that x-ray when we get back from vacation.

Kevin is walking more and more. His stride is starting to even out a bit and though he still resembles a toddler when he walks, it’s getting better.

We went driving in his truck the other day. Yes. Kevin drove. He did well. He’s pretty confident he can get back into the driver’s seat again (heh), and is planning on driving himself to his next band practice. He says it feels REALLY GOOD to be getting his life back to normal.

We’ve decided to take the walker on vacation with us. Though he technically doesn’t need it anymore, it’s nice for him to have something to lean on and he can walk faster and longer distances using it. And since we’ll be walking long distances in New York, well, it just makes sense to take it.

We’ve narrowed down what we want to do in New York:

Day One: Take the Staten Island Ferry so we can take pictures of the Statue of Liberty to the other side of the river, then walk the Brooklyn Bridge back across so we can get some pictures of the New York skyline. Kevin’s boss, who has been to New York several times, highly recommends it and though it will likely be slow going for Kevin, he’ll have his walker and can sit down and take frequent breaks. We aren’t really planning to do anything else as we think this will likely wipe Kevin out.

Day Two: Rockefeller Centre. There is a Nintendo Store there that the boys would like to visit and of course, all of the other cool things to look at at the Centre. We’ll likely end the day relaxing and walking around Central Park.

Nothing too exciting, but enough to keep us busy.

We’ll then catch the boat on day three and sail up to St. Johns and Halifax Canada. We still haven’t booked our excursion in Canada yet, but Kevin and I decided to do the photography tour. A professional photographer takes us around and gives us tips on how to photograph landmarks and the beautiful scenery. I just checked the temps and the weather for Canada – partly sunny and highs around 67 degrees!

WOW! That will be quite the change from the hot and muggy New York portion of our trip.

Hence the reason I will have to pack jackets, rain ponchos and umbrellas for the Canada portion of our trip. (It rains a lot in Canada).

That is my goal for this evening. Pack. I’ve done laundry (I can only do laundry either in the morning or in the evening because the dryer just adds to an already hot house during the day), and will sort through everything and make sure we have everything we need tonight so that if we don’t, I can run errands tomorrow.

Kevin has to go through his old clothes. Dude has outgrown all of his shorts (Jazz now owns them), so if Kevin doesn’t have any shorts that he can give to Dude, we’ll have to make a trip out tomorrow and get him suited up.

So to speak.

Speaking of suits: I don’t even plan on taking my swimsuit this go-around. Since Kevin is not interested in getting into the pool and I’m already brown from tanning, I think I would rather just sit in the shade with a good book and take it easy on the sweat glands this year. The boys will take theirs, but they didn’t go swimming the last time we were on the boat, so I don’t really expect them to go swimming this time, but you never know, we’ll take them just in case.

We have one formal night and though I have a dress I can take, I think I’m just going to take my khaki capri/slacks with me this time and just go with that. I’m honestly not in the mood to dress up and a lot of people just wear something church nice as opposed to semi-formal nice.

We bought a scale. The suitcase that Kevin’s boss loaned us is nearly 20 pounds … which means I only have 30 pounds to work with here to keep within the 50 pound weight limit. That sounds like a lot, but when you consider I need to pack for four people, that can add up fast. I think I’m most stressed about making the 50 pound weight limit than anything else. (Well, that and getting Kevin through airport security).

We leave very soon. We have our house sitter all lined up (one of my nephews is going to hang out and watch the house – he’s pretty excited about it, NO parties J!!), our mail has been put on hold and we’ll make sure we have everything else ready to go tonight.

You can keep track of our progress on my Twitter account. I’ll also be calling in posts periodically so check this blog for updates, too.

This will likely be my last “live” update – I’ve already got a week’s worth of posts lined up and ready to go, but again, you can listen to my audio posts as I post them. I have no idea when I’ll get around to calling in posts, but hopefully I can get a few in before we get on the boat. I won’t have cell phone service on the boat or in Canada, but you’ll know we’re back in the states when you hear me calling in another post.

We are planning on taking four cameras. That way, each of us has a camera in hand and we’ll likely come back from this thing with a gazillion pictures. We did that last vacation and I have to say, some of our best pictures were taken by the boys.

I think I’m more excited than nervous at this point. I’m mentally prepared to deal with Kevin’s limitations and he has such a positive attitude about this that I’m confident he’ll be fine. He’s really excited to do this and that alone will make this process 110% easier.

Thanks for your interest and your support, everyone. “Talk” to you soon!!