Sunday, October 23, 2016

On a Boat

This past week, the family loaded up in the minivan with NeNe and Papoo (Erin's folks) in tow and headed for New Orleans to take a cruise to Mexico.  The kids were excited.  Grant devised that he could eat at least 10 ice cream cones per day for a week, and the rest of us would enjoy the sun and relaxation, not to mention watching the burgeoning of Grant's dairy intolerance.

Indeed, once we arrived on the boat, Grant immediately began his assault on the soft serve machines.  I think in the first two days he knocked down around 15 cones, so short of his prediction, but still pretty mind numbing (or brain freezing.)  Erin and I had worried about a number of things prior to going to New Orleans, mostly based on our previous cruising experiences.  Would we get seasick, as we had in the past?  Would we be able to really relax while chasing the kids around?

In the end, it was a good time, but not without its flaws.  For starters, Erin didn't inform me that the ship we were on, the Carnival Triumph, was the same one that floated about the Gulf of Mexico while filling with raw sewage a couple of years ago and was dubbed "the poop cruise" by the media.  I appreciated her sheltering me from this fact, but it did come as a surprise during the boarding process.  For someone with OCD, it was difficult to shower without allowing my feet to touch the previously infected floor.

The fact is, the Carnival Triumph is almost 20 years old and just doesn't feature the same level of amenities that the newer ships offer.  This was a calculated move on our part though, as neither Erin nor myself wanted to spend a small fortune on a trip, only to find out that one of our kids is rendered immediately seasick upon taking two steps onto a ship.  So lesson learned -- we can go a little bit bigger next time.

Browsing the Lucas de Galvez market in Merida
Overall though, the kids had a great time.  In addition to getting to experience a little bit of Mexico in Cozumel and Mérida, they got to eat, swim, and play to their heart's content.

Trent, in particular, continues to amaze with his unbounded personality.  Every time we passed a live band, Trent broke out in dance.  Every woman on that ship knew Trent, as he'd danced with all of them at various points during the week.

Grace enjoyed the on-ship entertainment, particularly a "men vs. women" challenge that involved adults stuffing medals into their rears, shimmying across the stage, and dropping them in a bucket.  Our little toilet-humored Chinese kid can't contain her laughter, even now, when we discuss that evening.  Erin and I were grateful for a chance to forget about our jobs for a few days, and just watch our kids enjoying life.

After returning to New Orleans, we made our way home via Memphis.  We spent the following afternoon on a tour of New Orleans, featuring the world's most informative tour guide -- "There's a pretty house over there."  "That's a museum!"  It was as though the tour company had given a homeless person $10 to point at things.  Such is life.

We had a great "last night" on Beale Street, where street performers entertained the whole crew.  The kids were particularly engrossed in a group of guys who could do 10+ flips down the center of Beale Street.  Pretty amazing.
Hanging out on Beale St

This has been a rough year for us, in some ways, and we needed the break.  The cruise just reinforced for me how blessed I am, and how the best times in my life are out with my whole family.  As always, Erin started planning the next trip on the drive home.

Monday, June 06, 2016

A Great Backyard

Childhood bliss, I tell you.  Childhood bliss.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Quick Spring Break trip

Gatlinburg 2016

We don't go to Gatlinburg because we love it.  The mountains are pretty, but the go carts, wax museums and sub-par tourist food isn't a real draw for Bret and me.

But, for kids, it's glorious bliss, all within a short drive.  Here's the quick recap, more for me than for you... but nonetheless.

Day 1
Arrive, play, bathe, bed

2. Easter Sunday
Church, lunch, walking and shopping in Gatlinburg, and Magiquest.

Day 3
The movies and rolling down the hill in giant hamster balls, followed by swimming and catch your own trout for dinner.  You know--everyday vacation fun!

Day 4
Glorious hike until the last mile when the three-year-old melted down... followed by shopping and a ropes course.

Day 5
Amusement park fun at Dollywood

Day 6
Go carts, mountain coasters, Magic show fun and more national park romping.

Overall, a great trip... full of plenty of memories, that's for sure.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

This guy is NINE!

He's halfway done with his time in our house!  Be still my heart! So thankful for the little man he's becoming: so very compassionate, so very smart, so very a lover of Jesus!  This morning we celebrated with his favorite doughnuts, complete with gifts of a bug vacuum and stilts.  Tonight, it's chicken wings and ice cream.   The boy loves what the boy loves.