It’s hard to believe that Christmas is over, but is it….
The weeks leading up to Christmas were a bit insane with trying to get all the presents made, but we did it. In fact, this year, I was actually ready for Christmas by the morning of the 24th. That’s the earliest that I’ve ever been ready. Now, to be honest, we did have to run out to the store to pick up one thing and trade out some pajamas that we bought for Judah. I’m not sure what I was thinking, but I bought his original pajamas 2 sizes too small…..anyway….other than that, Christmas Eve was a nice relaxing day.
We started having a Christmas Eve Fondue with Jon’s parents a few years ago and it’s become a Tradition. As soon as we start to think about Christmas, decorate for Christmas, or start to think about making presents….the kids start to ask about Christmas Eve fondue.
I love that we have these fun traditions with our family. It just seems to make things more exciting and special.
Judah is especially excited because the entire fondue was Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free. So it was safe for all of us. YAH! What’s even better….it was FREAKING DELICIOUS!
After we finished our meal, we decided to open presents first and then to come back to eat dessert – Chocolate Fondue – after we were finished opening presents.
Siah was SO Excited! He could hardly wait to open his presents. Jeremy was also so VERY excited, but he just wanted to be able to give the presents that he had bought with his own money! It was very sweet.
This is the first time that Judah has really “gotten” into opening presents and he had so much fun. He absolutely LOVED this present that his Nana & Papa bought for him.
He has played with his car non-stop.
After we opened our presents, we headed back for some Chocolate Fondue!
Angelica was loving her some Chocolate Strawberries…
And then her and Nana started to goof around a little….
It was pretty funny!
After the Chocolate Fondue, we sent the kids off to change into their Christmas Pajamas. Isn’t he cute?
Nana and Geli….
Xani….all three, so pretty!
We started a game of Apples to Apples….
I played about 2 rounds and then Judah couldn’t handle it any longer…..
….and so I put him out out his misery.
After the game, we sat down for our traditional Christmas Story. This year we choose to read, Humphrey the Christmas Camel.
After all the kids were put to bed, and the stocking’s were stuffed and the house was closed down for the night……we headed off to bed….this is probably the earliest that we’ve been to bed on a Christmas Eve…only 1:45am. Not bad, eh?
So, we are almost at the American Thanksgiving and so I figure that I’m still good to share our family’s Thanksgiving day Celebration.
We arrived home from Angelica’s Wish Trip on Saturday October the 8th. Before we left on the trip, we were throwing around the idea of having my family come over to celebrate Thanksgiving on Monday October the 10th and just a few days before we left, I told my sisters that it wasn’t going to happen.
I had a feeling that we’d be a bit wasted from our trip AND I figured that the “clean up” from the trip would take more than a day. We agreed to celebrate Thanksgiving a week or so later.
I AM SO THANKFUL that I put that off by a week. There is NO WAY that we could have been ready.
Well, I suppose that I could have stayed awake for the next two days and gotten everything done, but I am so Thankful that I didn’t have to. I would have been such a basket case with that extra pressure and stress and UNNECESSARY STRESS is something that I’m trying very hard to avoid in my life right now.
This means that I’m saying no a lot more than usual as I try to balance our lives. I’m thinking twice or three times before I say yes, and trying to live within my abilities and not overstretch myself.
Anyway, I was trying to share our Thanksgiving pictures.
It was such a great day, even if my Mom and Dad couldn’t be there. My Momma was in Romania on a missions trip and my Dad was out in the bush hunting. And so it was the first time “holiday” where it was just us kids and our families.
Even without my parents, it was still such a fun day.
Everybody brought food for the feast and it was all so delicious. I was so busy trying to organize and arrange things that I totally forgot about taking a picture of all of us at the table….oh well!
Everyone pitched into help clean up after dinner and then we relaxed a bit…
Denver looks so thrilled to have his picture taken, no?
There were cuddles with our special Aunty Brynn…she is just so beautiful, isn’t she?
Here Judah thinks he can use two iPhones at once….maybe he wanted to talk to both Nana and Pappa?
The littlest member of our family is getting bigger and he’s just so STINKIN’ CUTE!
Here the boys are just having a friendly competition on Baby Piano! It was AWESOME!
Okay, so that’s probably not what they were doing, but it sounds good, no?
It’s so much fun to have cousins that are your age…it’s like ready made best friends!
It was such a fun day and I can’t wait until we can get together and do it again. I’m so thankful for my family. They are a pretty awesome bunch!
We woke up on Friday morning and rushed outside to our balcony because we knew that we should be close to Castaway Cay.
We were close. Once we docked, there was still some time before we were allowed to get off the ship. I snapped a few more pictures as we got a little bit closer…it looked SO INCREDIBLE and we were so excited. We went and had breakast and then got our stuff together and got ready to hit the beach. WHEEEEE!!!!
We docked over on the far right in the picture and went to the second beach over on the left in the picture. There is a little tram that takes you to the different locations on the island.
We found some chairs and umbrellas and dumped all our stuff off and the kids headed out to play in the sand and the water.
The weather was INCREDIBLE and I was a bit worried about us getting fried to a crisp. Angelica demonstrates perfect sunscreen application and technique in this next photo..
The kids were so happy and excited to actually be here. We’d been talking and dreaming about Castaway Cay for a long time and the day had finally arrived.
And they did amazing at wearing their shirts when I started to get worried about too much sun….
I really do have amazing kids. It was highlighted to me on this trip, just how great these kids of mine are. See, I’ve spent so much of this past year inside of my house and I’ve not been able to see the kids interacting with others. It’s been a very isolated year. I see them bickering with each other and not listening to me and fussing or whining or disobeying and because we are together SO MUCH, I’m sure that they get as sick of each other and me as I do of them….I’m not saying that I don’t love my kids, because I love them fiercely and desperately, but sometimes we all need to be able to have “breathing” time and that time has been sadly lacking from our family over this past year and a bit…..
I’ve seen their faults highlighted by our small insular world and to see how polite they were on the ship and to see how well they handled themselves in interesting and challenging situations…..to see them help others and give to others and be caring and compassionate and gentle and loving and respectful….it was so nice to see all of their positive attributes highlighted like that. It was even more special to have the table beside ours comment to us about our children and how they recognized how much work we must put into them to have them be such well behaved and respectful children. And they sat beside us for the entire week so it wasn’t just one good day….hee hee!
Judah got a bit cranky and so I put him to sleep….and then Jon transferred him to a beach chair to sleep for a while. If I try to put him down, 9 times out of 10 he will wake up. If Jon takes him and then puts him down, he will stay sleeping……I have no idea why this is? Any ideas? – it drives me nuts!
Jeremy was once again is HEAVEN collecting shells and he even found a whole bunch of live crab thingy’s in their shells…they were just teeny, tiny, but J was SO excited. He and a few of the kids that we played with at the other beaches spent a HUGE portion of time building a sand castle for these little sea creatures.
It was the most amazing day and there was even a bit of cloud cover so we weren’t scorching hot. Doens’t that picture look UNBELIEVABLE!
The Baby woke up…..and wanted to play in the sand almost immediately..
We were right beside a Lifeguard station and he crawled over to the tower and right under the chair there was a huge coconut that he wanted to play with…
We started to get a bit warm and so we all went back down to the water to splash around a little…
The lagoon was so shallow and Siah was so excited to be able to swim “all on his own”. I swear that kid is part fish the way that he LOVES the water.
Speaking of fish…..can you see this fish? There were these “almost translucent” fish swimming around and the kids had a ton of fun trying to “catch” one. It was so funny to watch.
This was such an incredible adventure for our family and such a HUGE blessing for Angelica. This felt like the beginning of a new part in our lives and the end of a terrible time.
We are not finished this journey that we are on, but Geli has continued to get stronger and stronger and we are so confident that she will overcome EVERY negative aspect of these past 17 months.
When we did get back to the ship we had to hurry because we had been invited to a very “special” event that was happening for the Wish Kids and their families. There were 2 other Wish kids and Families other than ours that were on the ship.
We had a private meet and greet with Captain Mickey and Angelica was given a special Captain Mickey doll!
This was a day that we will remember for a long time. It was an incredible way to finish up an unbelievable trip.
We are so thankful to Children’s Wish for turning this trip from a dream into a reality for Angelica and our whole family.
By Thursday we were ready for a slower day…..we only had two full days of our holiday left. This was a 7 day Eastern Caribbean Cruise that we were on.
I woke up before the girls & Judah did; and headed out to my balcony to sit in the quiet for a few moments.
We had been given two rooms on the ship that were side by side….for whatever reason, we had believed that we would have adjoining rooms and it was a bit of a surprise to find that we didn’t, but we adjusted fairly quickly.
It did mean that we had to split up and so Jon took the two boys into one room with him; and the girls & Judah and myself were in the other. It did require some juggling when putting the littlest boys to bed and….well, it wasn’t ideal but we did work it out. I think that if we’d been prepared for to have two separate rooms that it wouldn’t have been such a surprise, but we decided that it didn’t matter if we had to be in two different rooms, because we were just so blessed to be able to even be on this vacation and we were determined to enjoy every single minute of it and to not waste time over silly things like sleeping arrangements.
Judah woke up and I quickly got him so that he wouldn’t wake the girls and we hung out on the balcony for a while. It was AMAZING to have the balcony. I LOVED sitting out there early in the morning or relaxing with Jon out there after we put the two little boys to bed. It was such a treat to have.
(I only have iPhone photos from this day. So while the quality is not perfect; it’s good enough for memories.)
Finally Jon woke up and went and got me a coffee…..YUM! I stopped drinking coffee back in March, but I had coffee while I was on holiday’s and it was a nice treat….sucked when I had to quit again once I got home…but a nice treat nonetheless…
Once all the kids woke up, Jon took a few of them up to the buffet and picked up some breakfast for us all and we ate back in our room and out on the balcony. It was so nice to not be in a hurry rushing off to anywhere.
It was looking like it was going to be an AMAZING day on the ship and we had a few special treats planned.
Jon had booked a spa special for both Geli and I to have together. We got to choose 5 spa services and get pamperd for an hour and a half. We both chose to have a neck and shoulder massage, a scalp massage, a facial, a hand massage and a foot massage. We walked away from our time at the spa feeling very relaxed and very special.
We had signed up for a babysitting slot in the Flounder’s Nursery and were told on Wednesday night that a spot had opened up between 1-4pm on Thursday for Judah and so we took it. We grabbed a quick bite to eat for lunch and then placed ALL the kids into their respective “clubs” and Jon and I had some actual “down time” just for us.
It felt so amazing and yet really weird at the same time. I was quite worried about Judah because he had started screaming as soon as we left him in the nursery and he alternated between screaming and falling asleep in one of the workers arms, but he wouldn’t let them put him down or he’d wake up and start screaming again. Needless to say, he didn’t enjoy his time in the nursery, but Jon and I really did enjoy our time off.
The rest of the cruise we not really a vacation for Jon and I. Taking a trip with 5 kids is not a “holiday” but it is definitely a vacation from the daily grind. But we were just so thankful and grateful for the opportunity and what a wonderful and amazing opportunity it was. I’m not complaining, it’s just the reality with a big family….it’s like we work hard to make it an amazing memory for the kids. And it truly is a MOST AMAZING MEMORY!
I don’t remember too much about that evening, but I’m sure that we headed back to our rooms fairly early because we were going to spend the whole day at Castaway Cay the next day and we were really REALLY looking forward to it.
We woke up earlier than usual on Thursday morning because we had to eat breakfast and then get off the boat so we could go to our Port Adventure in Cozumel. We were headed to the Playa Mia resort for the day.
The Disney magic docked at Cozumel while we were eating breakfast and after breakfast was finished, we went back up to our rooms, picked up what we would need for the day and headed down to the bottom of the boat to where we could disembark from the ship.
We met up with the rest of the group headed out to the Playa Mia resort and when everyone was there we walked out of the port area, down the street and over to the parking lot where the buses were parked. It was HOT! I thought it was amazing, but the kids were not quite so sure that they were enjoying the heat. We passed a ton of little Mexican shops and wished that we had some time to check them out. But, we figured that we could always come back before we had to get back on the cruise ship.
Once the buses were loaded we headed off. It was about 15-20 minutes from the port to get to the resort and the countryside was so beautiful. We pulled up to the resort and got off the buses and headed down through the resort buildings to the beach. Once we got there, we hurried to claim ourselves a bunch of beach chairs and umbrellas, and we managed to get some right in the front row, right on the water. It was perfect.
The weather was amazing, too. It was sunny and hot and I was sure that we were all going to be fried to a crisp if we weren’t careful. I made everyone reapply sunscreen just to be careful.
The resort staff came around with an iguana and some parrots. They wouldn’t let us take pictures of the kids, but for a fee – they would sell us a photo of the kids holding the animals…this is a cell phone picture of a photograph….hence the crappy quality!
The kids played and swam and after about half an hour, the wind started to blow and the clouds started to roll in.
And then it started to rain.
We scrambled to get all of our stuff under the umbrellas so it wouldn’t get wet. It looked like it might possibly blow over and so once we got everything covered, we headed back out to swim. After all, we were there to get wet, so what was the difference, right?
It stopped raining for a bit and then it started to POUR. At that point, most of the people left the beach and headed over to the undercover area. Which meant that we had most of the beach to ourselves. There were only 3-4 other families that stayed on the beach with us.
You can see the rain drops on my legs in the picture above….I had been sitting on a beach chair for about half an hour nursing Judah to sleep….
After that, it was raining pretty hard and I didn’t want to get the camera wet and so we don’t have any more pictures from the resort. We did have lunch and swam for the rest of the afternoon until 3pm and then the buses came back to get us.
They dropped us off at the mall across from the port and we wandered around a bit looking for a few souvenirs. At the mall….trying to buy those souvenirs was really expensive….one guy wanted to sell us a deck of cards for $28.00. We were shocked at the price, tried to barter it down and then left to find some other cheaper cards. Angelica collects playing cards and so far we hadn’t payed more than $5.00 for a deck of cards so $28 was not even “in the cards” ha ha ha!
The kids were tired after almost a week of cruising and 2 straight days of swimming in the ocean and there were a lot of tears and a few melt downs. So, we found a bench to sit on for a minute while Jon and Geli carried on looking for playing cards.
She finally found some and we made our way back to the security check in at the cruise ship. It took us a lot longer than it could have because Angelica was really struggling with walking and there was quite a bit of walking from the security check in all the way down the pier to where the Disney Cruise Ship was docked. We made it eventually and then headed back to our rooms to clean up and to de-sand….it’s amazing how much sand we brought back on our persons and in our stuff.
I took a few photos from our balcony. Doesn’t the water look amazing? And the picture doesn’t even do it justice…
By that point, it was time to start getting ready for dinner. There was a dress up party for that evening’s dinner and it was, “Pirates IN the Caribbean!”
Even though we had been told in advance about the dress up night, we didn’t bring any costumes. We had meant to, but we forgot. So, we scrounged around in our clothes to see what we could come up with….who knew that we had so much pirate clothing in our wardrobes..
We bought this photo from the cruise because it was a great picture of all of us and the ONLY picture that we had of all of us from “on” the ship. Again, it’s a Cell Phone picture of a photo….so the quality is not so awesome, but you get the idea.
There was a HUGE pirate party with fireworks and music that started at 9:30-9:45pm, but the two little boys were so overtired that they were losing it and so I stayed with them in the room. Jon took the rest of the kids up to the top of the ship to be apart of the party.
We were really looking forward to a “down” day. The next day we were going to be at sea the whole day as we traveled to Castaway Cay, Disney’s Private Island.
We were headed to the Cayman Islands and expected to be able to get off the ship sometime mid morning.
Before the trip even started we had signed up for the Port Adventure to the Beach. I figured that as much fun as some of the other adventures might be…..the kids really wanted to just swim, and swim and swim and swim and SWIM. And, taking the different ages of the kids into account and Angelica’s fitness level….the beach just seemed like the best place to be for our family.
The day started out much like the night before had ended off….grey and muggy with some showers off and on.
In order to get off the boat, we needed to board a smaller boat which then taxied us to the docks. The Cayman Islands did not have the capability for the cruise ship to dock. And so around 11am, we lined up at the bottom of the cruise ship to start the “tendering” process. As we pulled away from the cruise ship, it started to POUR. The air was still warm, but it was definitely wet.
It took about 10 minutes for us to get to the dock and as we stepped off the boat, it was still raining. We were a bit early to meet up with our Port Adventure Group and so we walked around the shops on the dock of the Grand Caymans….and while we were popping in and out of the little shops looking at souvenirs the rain stopped.
Finally it was time to head to the beach, and we, along with approx 100 others, got onto the buses and headed out. The bus driver was a fabulous tour guide. He talked non-stop for the 15 minutes it took to drive down to the beach that we were going to. He had a lot of interesting facts and stories about the Cayman Islands and the scenery was incredible.
We finally showed up at the beach and again, it was raining….we all huddled under the beach’s small covered area and listened to the beach host explain a few things and then…….then they released us and we headed out to claim our very own little patch of heaven on the beach.
The weather couldn’t seem to make up it’s mind and it alternated between raining and not raining. In fact, the Cruise people came by to let everyone know that the buses would be available to take us back early if we wanted because of the bad weather.
I’d say that more than half of the people returned to the ship, but seeing as we had come to the beach with the point of getting wet…..we weren’t planning on going ANYWHERE.
The water was warm, and the air was warm, and we had umbrellas to cover our stuff; and so we just swam and played in the sand. It was SO. MUCH. FUN.
The baby fell asleep after about an hour of playing in the water, crawling on the beach and throwing the sand; and so we wrapped him up in a damp towel, put him on a beach chair under an umbrella and he slept for about an hour. On most of our Port days, he had a good hour nap….I think he was just so worn out from the excitement of it all.
It was so much fun to swim in the warm, BLUE ocean water, when all we are used to is a slightly grey/brown freezing cold ocean experience.
Jon rented a jet-ski and took the three older kids out for turns. We also rented some snorkel gear and the kids had a blast just swimming around, trying to find different fish and shells.
Jeremy LOVED snorkeling. He snorkeled for the entire time that we were at the beach (3 hours). He collected some very cool looking little shells. This was pretty much what he looked like for almost all of the time that we were at the beach.
Josiah LOVED the beach and figured out that he could actually swim while we were at this beach. I think that the combination of the waves lifting him helped and for whatever reason he was very confident and was SO excited to actually be out swimming. He didn’t go very far away from the shore, and stayed very close to us but he was actually swimming, on his own!
Starting to swim in the Cayman Islands is a pretty cool life experience.
The rain had eased up a bit and the weather was actually pretty nice. It was warm, but we were not being fried to a crisp by the broiling sun. I was actually pretty happy that it was a bit cloudy because then I wasn’t stressing about sunscreen and making the kids wear shirts and hats and trying to avoid sunstroke.
They could just play without being nagged at. It was a win/win for all of us.
About an hour before we were scheduled to leave, the rain started up again and then…..
Can you see in that picture? Click on the photo to make it bigger…..
Yes, Lightening. We had Thunder and Lightening and it was kinda of cool. It was far enough away but still….it was interesting.
The bus returned for us around 3:30pm and we headed back. The last call for boats to the cruise ship was at 4:30pm and there was a HUGE line up. So instead of looking around a bit, we just got in the line up and headed back to the ship.
It had been a WONDERFUL DAY and we had so much fun. The rain didn’t dampen our spirits, in fact, we were SO looking forward to being at COZUMEL the next day and heading to the beach AGAIN!
I didn’t take too many photos because I was concerned about getting water and sand in my camera.
I’ve gotten a few questions and I’ll be answering them when I talk about the next sea day (which is day 6) so if you had any questions about our trip or wondered about something, let me know and I’ll be sure to do my best answer them.
By Monday (October 3rd) we were more than ready for a quieter, slower, more peaceful day. We had been going, going, going for the past 3 days and it was wearing a bit on all of us.
The night before, we had been notified that there was going to be a special breakfast with the Disney Characters the next morning.
The kids needed to be woken up almost every morning of the cruise, they were just so tired out from the previous day’s activities. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but on this particular morning, we slept in longer than we should have and had to rush to make it to breakfast on time.
“Rushing” is not necessarily the most amazing way to start the day, eh?
We did manage to make it down to breakfast on time with our camera’s and autograph books and we ordered breakfast and waited. It was so cool to see how excited the kids were to see Mickey and Minnie and the others. From the 14 year old all the way down the the 4 year old….the air was just buzzing with the anticipation and excitement. For the record, my one year old was NOT excited about meeting Mickey and Minnie….not that he had any clue either way, but when they did come around……he was….well, he was terrified, to put it mildly! He did not like them AT ALL! It was pretty cute!
Before Breakfast even arrived at the table, the Character’s started visiting…
We met Minnie and Micky,
It was so fun!
While we were finishing up our breakfast, our head server came over with some special hats…
This one has me a little lost…..Any Ideas?
After breakfast, we wandered the boat a little, did a little swimming, played in the arcade, had a small bite to eat and then made everyone take a nap. The kids had been hanging in there pretty well, but they were a bit snippy with each other and I figured it was something that a small nap would help…..and it did!
We woke up just before the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party was about to begin and so we hurried down to have “a spot of tea” with Alice…..
There was “apple juice” tea and oatmeal cookies and we all learned how to have a proper Queen’s tea party….we even learned about manners. And then the Mad Hatter came in and things livened up a bit….
“Clean Cup! Move Down!”
The kids wanted to get their picture taken with Alice and the Mad Hatter and so we lined up after the tea party.
By the time the tea party was done, we had enough time to rush back to our rooms, and get dressed for dinner and head back on down to dinner….sometimes it felt like all we were doing was eating.
The kids were so excited because they got things like hamburgers & fries and chicken nuggets & fries for almost every meal (except breakfast).
Can you see the Ketchup Mickey on Siah’s Hamburger?
Or How about Goofy’s paw print?
The Gluten free dinner’s were okay. They were pretty bland and definitely not creative, but once I started asking for specifics….like I chose salmon one night and it came really dry and completely unseasoned…and the next night I asked for it again with a lemon dill sauce…..and it was AMAZING!….it was much better. I didn’t figure I was going to get dessert but this night they brought out the MOST DELICIOUS Chocolate mini cake. And Jon thought to take a picture….YUM!
The nicest part was that it was both Gluten and Dairy free and so Siah could have it and he was SO EXCITED. When he saw this picture on my screen, he said, “Mom, that cake was DELICIOUS, right?” Yes, baby! Yes, it was!
When we got back to our rooms, we were greeted by this friendly fellow…
It looks like Judah is going to “take him on”…
As we went to bed that night, this was the view out our balcony…..
The temperature was still hot and muggy but it had been a grey and cloudy day. We were looking forward to our day at the beach in the Grand Cayman’s and as the ship gently rocked….we drifted off to sleep!
After a good sleep, we woke up on Sunday morning ready for the day.
We headed down to the restaurant for Breakfast.
We found that to get through breakfast took just over an hour which was longer than we’d like, but it was mostly because we had to special order the food for Josiah, Judah and myself….but, the food really was delicious.
After Breakfast, we had some time to explore the boat because we weren’t docking into Key West until just after noon.
We decided to head on up to the pools to see what fun we could have up there for a few hours.
There are three pools on the boat. The adult only pool (that we never even got a chance to check out), the Goofy Pool (that’s the one that Jeremy is in, in the photo above) and a Mickey Pool (that is more suitable for littler kids).
Attached to the Mickey Pool is a Water Slide and Josiah must have gone down the slide over 30 times…
Over and Over and Over….
He had SO MUCH FUN! And we were loving watching him have so much fun! The girls were a bit bummed that they were too tall for the water slide, though! Because Judah is still in diapers, he wasn’t allowed in the pools, but they had this cool little water play area over to the side of the Mickey pool and we let Judah play a little in there.
He had a BLAST playing with the water fountains, but he kept trying to sit on them….it was so funny!
We were really enjoying the hot weather and the sun.
It was so nice to just be able to sit and relax….although I was worried about us burning in the freaking amazing sun. Thank God for Sunscreen!
The ship was getting close to Key West and so we decided to go and get ready to go ashore.
We hadn’t chosen to go on a “Port Adventure” at Key West, but we did decide to just go ashore and see what we could see and find. We couldn’t go very far because Angelica couldn’t walk very well and definitely not very far; and the HEAT…..well, it was a whole lot hotter and more humid than anything we were used to.
The kids found Key West to be a bit difficult because of the heat and humidity but we did still manage to find some fun things to do and see.
We got some gelato…and sat on the steps of this old museum (I think it was a museum!) to eat it.
The baby slept!
Found a tiny baby coconut that had fallen to the ground…Jeremy was pretty excited about it.
It appeared quite busy and so we carried on down the road until we found this alley…
There was a whole bunch of things to see and shops to look through and the best part…according to the kids….there was shade and even a place to sit.
We managed to pick up a few souvenir’s at the little shops. I LOVED the old cobblestone roads…cruel as this might sound, I’d LOVE to go back there WITHOUT the kids. There was so much to see and some really cool pictures to take (if we had the time and just a few less things to juggle).
We got back to the ship and had just a little time to relax before we needed to head on down for dinner. I pulled out my camera and snapped a few pictures. I couldn’t understand why the pictures looked so fuzzy! My camera was all fogged up because it had been so warm outside and we were now in the cold air conditioned room.
Regardless of the fog, I still liked these pictures of Judah….
Here is one shot of Jeremy…
We managed to get all dressed up and down to dinner on time.
I really, REALLY liked getting dressed up for dinner. In fact, I’m thinking about having a dress up dinner at our house once a week.
After dinner, we went back to our rooms to change and when we got there we found this….
While we were at dinner, each evening, the Room Hosts would turn down the beds for the night and leave some amazing folded towel animals. It was a lot of fun to come back to the room after dinner and find out what animal they had created each day. There was even a class at the end of the week that Jeremy went to, because he was so excited about the “Towelgami”.
Jeremy and Josiah went to the Kids Club, and Xandra went to the Pre-Teen Group (and stayed until midnight, the crazy girl). Angelica and Jon and Judah and I relaxed a bit and attempted to get the room a bit more organized.
Angelica was still feeling pretty weak and tired; and she stuck pretty close to Jon and I for most of the trip.
It was a pretty good day and as we headed to bed for the night, we were looking forward to the next day which was a whole day at sea while we traveled to The Cayman Islands.
We woke up on Saturday morning and sometime in the night we had played musical beds…
Well, actually just Geli and Jon switched rooms because apparently Jeremy was breathing heavy and it was bothering Angelica.
As it was the beginning of one of her chemo cycles, she was on the steroid Prednisone for 5 days and it makes sleeping difficult…so little annoyances become HUGE annoyances. Anyway, she crawled into bed with me and Judah; and Jon went and slept in the other room with Jer.
We got everyone up and repacked all our stuff because we had to have it ready for pick up at 8:30am as that is when it was being picked up to be sent to the boat. We grabbed a quick breakfast and then headed out to where the shuttle would take us to the ship.
It was about an hour’s bus ride from the airport to Port Canaveral and when we got there we got in touch with my cousin who lives in Florida. She lives about 2-3 hours away from Port Canaveral but Charlene and Jeff and all 4 of their kids had piled into their van early that morning and drove up to see us. We snapped a quick picture while we were waiting to connect with them…
It was SO HOT! So much hotter and WAY MORE HUMID than we were used to, but it was WONDERFUL at the same time. We were LOVING the heat and the sun. This next picture has nothing really to do with the story, but my little dude is just so cute so I had to throw it in….
Charlene picked us up and we drove to the closest Mcdonalds as we figured that would be the easiest and most comfortable place for all “9” of our kids to hang out and burn off some energy while we (the adults) got a chance to connect and chat.
It was SO AWESOME to be able to connect and hang out and see them and chat and…..well, I could just go on and on. It was such a HUGE bonus to this already wonderful trip and I am so grateful and thankful that we got the opportunity and that Charlene and Jeff went so out of their way. You guys are amazing!
We managed to get a few pictures of both Char and I and of all 8 million of our children…
We even got some nice stranger to take one with the Jon and Jeff included….
I so wish that we lived closer to each other. It would be so fun to be able to get together more often. Jeff and Charlene are amazing people and their kids are such cool little people!
They took us back to the Port because the kids were starting to freak out about “getting on the boat” and so very reluctantly we said good bye.
It took a while to get signed in and registered and our pictures taken and all of the other stuff required to get us on the boat and the kids were thankful for the couches and movies playing all over the Disney Terminal.
Finally, FINALLY…it was time. All the papers were signed and the kids were registered and we could go onto the boat….You walk through that Mickey and into the walkway that takes you right into the boat.
And with that, our Cruise…..Angelica’s Wish Trip officially started. It was SO exciting. We went up to the Promenade to be apart of the big Kick off Party….
There was music and dancing and shiny metallic streamers to shake and…….. well, it was pretty emotional to just be there.
Right in the middle of all of all the excitement and partying, Judah just couldn’t take it any more and he just fell straight asleep. My sweet boy, he’d done so well with all the travel and the different planes and bus ride and hotel and he just couldn’t take it one moment longer.
To say that we were excited is such an understatement. It was AMAZING to just be there. We sat up on the deck while the party carried on and watched the boat push off from the dock. It was a bit surreal to realize that we were finally here after months of thinking and dreaming.
It had been a pretty exhausting 2 days of travel and so we just sat for a moment and relaxed….
Then it was time to go and get dressed for dinner. They require you to dress up a little for dinners and I loved it….it made the dinners just a little bit extra special to have to get dressed nice and then the kids were on their best behavior because it felt extra special…We were seated at table 28 and it was RIGHT BY THE WINDOW. Just after we sat down to eat, we were treated to an AMAZING sun set..
That first day is a bit of a blur because we were so tired, but we basically walked around the ship a bit after dinner and then we headed back to our rooms and finally with much effort (because they were a little buzzed on the excitement of it all) got the kids into bed. The next day we were going to be getting off the boat at Key West and we couldn’t wait to go and see what Key West was like….
Well, it’s Wednesday night around 5:30pm and I think that aside from sleeping…this is the first time I’ve sat down since we’ve gotten home.
Yah, things have been a bit busy, a little insane and to top it all off, we’ve been EXTREMELY exhausted!
We had an AMAZING trip – a HUGE THANKS to Children’s Wish – without them, Angelica’s Wish Trip would have not been a possibility. We are so blown away by the generosity we have been shown.
I think that I’m gonna break the trip up into a few posts because there is just WAY TOO MUCH to share and it would be the worlds longest post if I tried to combine it all into just one.
It seems like forever ago that we were trying to get everything ready to go….
I climbed into bed just after midnight and tried to get my brain to settle down but it didn’t work very well. I’d been going, going, going for the past 3 days and had a horrible time to settle. I fell asleep shorty after 1:00am and woke up at….
It was a miracle….the baby slept through the night….well, he slept all the way from when we put him to bed until we picked him up and put him in the carseat to drive to the airport.
Here she is….the “Wish Girl”. Awake and ready for her trip….well, mostly awake but Oh! So! Excited!
We finally were all in the car and ready to go….
All I’ve got is camera phone pictures and so the quality is not that amazing!
We made it to the Airport perfectly on time and got checked in. There was an issue with us checking in…..a boarding pass for Judah never printed off….and there was quite a kufuffle as they tried to get one printed for him. Finally they printed an extra one of ours and crossed out our name and write his name on instead.
By this point, the kids were hungry and we had about an hour until our plane boarded….Jon went looking for something that would be gluten-free so that Judah and I could eat it as well…
….at this point last night, I had to take Angelica to physio and then it was a whirlwind of bedtime activities and now it’s 8am on Thursday morning….and sometimes I just wish my life would slow down for a while…
Jon eventually found something that was safe for us to eat and soon after we boarded. The whole concept of flying in an airplane was almost as exciting as the Cruise…..the kids were enthralled with the “tv’s” in the back of each chair…
We finally settled in for the 4.5 hour flight to Houston. The early morning excitement (and the Gravol that I fed them) took it’s toll and a few of the kids slept.
The baby woke up midway through the flight and of all the kids, he was the most difficult to entertain and even then, he did SO good!
We had enough time in The Houston Airport to find some food and pick up a souvenir or two and then we headed to our gate and waited there for a while. Trying to find gluten-free food on the go and in unfamiliar places is not the easiest, but fortunately there are enough places to choose from and we were able to find food every time we needed it.
Josiah was so excited about the idea of the airplane and he just watched out the window at all the activity as the airplane taxied up to the tunnel and unloaded and loaded up all the luggage….
We finally boarded the second flight to Orlando and although the kids were doing so well, we were all getting tired. We ended up traveling for 10 hours that day and we were all tired out by the end of the day….add in a 3 hour time change and there is a recipe for a disaster, but it all went so well. I have some pretty amazing kids, if I do say so myself.
We showed up in the Orlando Airport and spent some time trying to figure out where our luggage was and where we were supposed to go and finally we got checked into the Hyatt and found our luggage and went to grab a quick bit to eat…..this was probably the worst part of the day.
We asked for a gluten-free meal and the chef even came out to talk to me about it and then when the meal came, I ate a bite and then looked closer and was sure that there was barley in the rice mixture….I asked about it yes, they had given me the regular portion….I was pretty thankful that Judah had refused a bite when I had offered it to him but was pretty upset that they had messed up like that. I left and went back up to the room while the rest of the family finished up their food. The restaurant was so apologetic, and did give me a gluten-free dinner after that, but it really set me up to feel very stressed about food for the rest of the trip…..
Having said that, if that was the worst part of the whole trip that day….then the day went pretty well, considering that we woke up at 3am and traveled ALL DAY and didn’t get to sleep until after 10pm Florida time.
We finally got everyone to sleep, even though they were SO excited about heading out on the cruise the next day.