Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Disney Cruise: Best Vacation Ever!!!

Last week we went on a Disney Cruise on the Disney Dream, which was indeed the best vacation ever.  Maddie stayed with my mom and dad, so that is why you won't see her in any of the pictures.  We flew out to Orlando and took a Lyft to a hotel in Port Canaveral the day before the cruise started.  Matt got us an upgrade, so there were two rooms in our hotel room.  The one for the girls had two twin beds with outer space themed blankets and a big picture of the space shuttle Atlantis on the wall.  That was super fun!

At the hotel in Port Canaveral
 In the morning we took the hotel shuttle over to the Disney Cruise line.  We got through the line quickly and only had to wait a little bit for our turn to get on the ship.  While we waited, we got our picture taken with Donald Duck.
The four of us with Donald Duck
As soon as we got on board, we went to the Port Adventures desk and got tickets to attend a Princess Gathering and a Frozen Gathering.  They were first come first serve, so I was happy we got them.  While we were waiting for our tickets, the girls went over to hug Daisy Duck.

Hugging Daisy
Afterward we went over to the Oceaneers' Club, which is the Kids' Club.  It was the most amazing Child Watch facility I've ever seen.  They had one room full of larger than life Toy Story characters, a  Millennium Falcon room, an arts and crafts room, a lunch room, a video game room, and much, much, more!  Throughout the cruise, they had activities there every half hour or so for just the kids.  As we told Kirsten and Reagan, we didn't take them there because we wanted to get rid of them.  It's supposed to be so much fun that they would be disappointed if we didn't take them.  Honestly, we were just doing our parental duty!

Reagan on the slinky dog from Toy Story

Kirsten on Mr. Potato Head


Millennium Falcon

When we were done touring the Oceaneers' Club, we went up on deck to watch the ship take off from port.  It was kind of windy and cold, but it was so neat to watch the ship go out to sea.  I liked how the ship's horn played to the tune of "When you wish upon a star."  It made me happy.

Out on the deck
Then we went swimming.  It was cold, like I said, but compared to Utah it was pretty warm.  The pools were heated, and we were willing to experience a little discomfort to enjoy the water.  We also went on the water slide, which is called the Aqua Duck.  It went around the whole ship, and part of it even went out over the ocean.  It was super fun!  We did that ride several times throughout the cruise.

After we got dressed, we went to go meet Mickey Mouse before dinner.

The four of us with Mickey

The girls with Mickey
Dinner was delicious!  There are three main restaurants on board, and the schedule rotated all the passengers through the restaurants on different nights.  On the first night we ate at the Royal Palace, which had the fanciest atmosphere.  The food was equally fancy at all three restaurants though.  Our servers were fantastic, and we had the same ones every night.  I can't remember what I ate, but I know it was delicious.  It was fun to try lots of new foods!

I liked the artwork at the Royal Palace.

Just a pretty mosaic on the wall
That evening we went to the Walt Disney Theater and watch The Golden Mickeys, which was a Broadway style review of some of the classic Disney songs.  I loved it!  I think the nightly shows were one of the best parts of the entire cruise.

In the morning, the ship was docked in Nassau.  We ate at the Cabanas, which is a buffet restaurant on board.  They had eggs benedict, Mickey waffles, scrambled eggs, bacon, fruit, and much more!

Then we went to the Princess Gathering to meet the Princesses!

Meeting Cinderella

Hugging Cinderella

Meeting Rapunzel, Kirsten's favorite princess

Meeting Belle

Meeting Tiana
The girls were in Heaven!!  But Reagan was slightly disappointed not to meet Ariel, her favorite princess.  Ariel wasn't even on board.  I was certainly surprised.  Matt just told her that Ariel was probably swimming alongside the ship.

Then we went to the Frozen Gathering.
With Anna and Elsa

On our way up to our stateroom, we stopped to meet Stitch!  Apparently Matt wanted to get his picture taken alone with Stitch, but I misunderstood and requested one of the four of us.  Poor Matt!

With Stitch
Late morning we disembarked and went to Nassau.  We didn't do a lot there.  Apparently, it's mostly a shopping stop, but it was neat to kind of look around a bit.

In Nassau


Yes, you saw that picture right!  I got my hair braided while I was in Nassau.  It was entirely too expensive, but it was spontaneous and fun!  I still have the braids in.

In the afternoon we went swimming.

That evening we ate at the Animator's Palate.  Throughout the restaurant there were large screens with different scenes from Finding Nemo.  Somehow they made the animated turtle talk to us and respond to our questions.  It was amazingly interactive.

After dinner we met Minnie Mouse!

Minnie Mouse and the girls

Minnie Mouse and the four of us

The show that evening was called Believe.  Genie from Aladdin guided a scientist/father to believing in magic by introducing him to lots of Disney characters.  Of course, the Disney characters instructed him in the power of believing in magic through the art of song.  It was a fun show!

First thing in the morning we met Olaf.

The girls with Olaf

This time Matt got his solo picture.

Then we got off the boat and spent the day in Castaway Cay, which is Disney's private island.  This was my favorite day.  The weather was gorgeous.  The water was clear, and the sand was white.  We played at the family beach for a couple of hours.  When the girls were done swimming, we took them over to the Kids' Club on the island, where they had a scavenger hunt and a luau.  Matt and I ate lunch and went to Serenity Cove, which is the adults only beach.  While we were there, we saw an eight inch hermit crab and a six inch starfish.  That was really neat!  Once we picked up the girls, we took them over to the water slides.  To use these water slides, you swim out to a platform.  The slides drop you out in water that is about six feet deep.  Of course the water is salt water, so it stings a little bit.  We made the girls do it until they screamed bloody murder.  Apparently, we should have done the water slides without them.  Oh, well!  Matt and I enjoyed it.  Then the day was far spent, and we had to get back on the boat.  Man, it was so nice to get a beach day in the middle of winter!

Castaway Cay

The girls and I in front of the Disney Dream on Castaway Cay

On Castaway Cay

On the beach

The four of us

That evening was Pirate night.  We all dressed up like pirates, and I thought my hair suited the theme quite well.  Matt surprised me by buying us these fun pirate themed shirts.  We had dinner at the Animator's Palate again, and this time the screens had lots of pirate pictures.  After dinner, there was a pirate show with Mickey and the gang where Captain Hook tried to take over the ship.  Of course, Mickey Mouse saved the day!  Then we went to the Walt Disney Theater and watch David Davinci, a famous magician or thrillusionist, as he called himself.  To end this crazy full day, we watch fireworks up on the deck.  Day three was fantastic!

Matt and I

Reagan as a pirate

Kirsten as a pirate
Day four came all too soon, but believe me, by that time we were exhausted from playing so hard.  Everyone slept in until about 9:30.  We ate breakfast and the girls spent some time in the Oceaneers' Club while Matt and I walked around the ship.  Then we picked up the girls and went to a character dance party.  They danced with Pluto, Daisy, Donald, Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, and Chip and Dale.

Dancing with Goofy
My favorite show on the ship was Beauty and the Beast.  It was so well done!  I wish you could see it because describing it won't do it justice. 

After Beauty and the Beast, we met Peter Pan, who happens to be Reagan's favorite Disney character.  I was happy he was on board.

The girls with Peter Pan
We went for one last swim on the ship and went down the Aqua Duck several times.  The pools aren't very large, but they have a huge screen at the front of the ship in front of the pools that shows Disney movies.  Most of the people just bobbed in the water and watched the movie.  It was a unique swimming experience.

That evening we ate dinner at the Enchanted Garden, and then Kirsten and Reagan went to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique to have a princess makeover done by their fairy godmothers.  It was adorable, and I could tell they felt like they had literally turned into princesses.  They even managed to keep their hair in the bun for two nights because they slept so carefully.

Kirsten as a princess

Reagan as a princess

Steering the boat
 After the princess makeover, we went to the last performance of Beauty and the Beast.  Everyone wanted to see it again it was so well done!

Two princesses brushing their teeth
We finally went to bed and slept soundly once again.  I haven't slept as well as I did on the cruise in a long time.  The rocking of the ship felt like being rocked in your mother's arms.  Honestly, it was so soothing.

In the morning, we had to get off the boat by about 8:30, which meant we had a lot of time to kill before our 5 o'clock flight back to Salt Lake City.  We decided to go to the Kennedy Space Center, which was only about a twenty minute drive from the port.

We spent several hours there and had a fantastic time.  I wish we'd had more time.  Matt was in heaven.  
The girls and I in front of the Kennedy Space Center

Matt with a rocket

The Atlantis space shuttle

The rocket garden
If Matt had written this blog post, he might have spent more time on the Kennedy Space Center, but honestly, I'm tired of writing and can't wait to share this post with all of you.  So, since I'm writing the post, I'm done.

I will say one more thing.  I'm really grateful that by body wasn't in pain during this vacation.  I'm healing and I can do more than I have been able to do for several months.  It's a miracle every time I walk.  It's a miracle every time I brush my hair or lift my purse.  It's definitely a miracle that I could swim out to a water slide in the ocean and walk up and down multiple flights of stairs when the elevators were too busy to be worth waiting for.  I'm grateful that Heavenly Father has blessed me with mobility.  I love the healing process.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

School Starts

Two weeks ago Kirsten had her first day of school.  Her teacher's name is Mrs. Pugh.  So far she hasn't had any homework, which I have greatly appreciated.  Kirsten seems to be adjusting well to her new school and new class.  She's made a couple of friends and feels comfortable walking into class by herself now.  Something kind of funny happened on the first day.  I assumed the first day was a half day because it has been a half day the last couple of years, and I'm fairly certain it was every year when I was growing up.  Well, it turned out that when I went to pick her up, school was still going strong.  It wasn't a half day after all.  I felt so bad and worried that it might have been tough on Kirsten to be expecting to come home after three hours, but not get to.  When school finally did get out, she was fine, but not altogether impressed by the school lunch she had to eat.  I was relieved that she still had a good day.
Kirsten on her first day of school

Reagan, Madelyn, and I spent a lot of time playing outside during Kirsten's first week of school.  We lowered Kirsten's old three-wheel scooter for Madelyn to pretend to ride.  I think it was pretty cute.  Reagan had me blow tons and tons of bubbles.  She was so enthusiastic about popping them!

Maddie on a scooter

Maddie on the scooter.  Reagan blowing bubbles.

Matt had his birthday on Thursday, and we went out to eat at Zupas, which has yummy sandwiches, soups, and salads.  It wasn't the most exciting birthday he's ever had, I don't think.  When you have to work, you have to work, I guess. 

My birthday was on Saturday.  We hiked to the Timpanogos Caves in American Fork Canyon.  The hike was only 1.5 miles to the caves, but it was steep.  The caves themselves were fascinating and beautiful.  I've been wanting to see them for years and finally did this year.  Of course, not every member of the family was quite so enthusiastic.  When we were done with the one hour cave tour, Reagan said, "I hated that.  It was definitely not worth it!"  Everyone else told her to keep it to herself.  Then we hiked down, and it was very steep on the way back down, too.

My family on the hike

My family
 Earlier that week I went to the doctor to get my knees looked at.  They started hurting every time after I went running, and I wanted to get them checked out.  My primary care physician referred me to an orthopedic doctor.  I had x-rays done, and it turns out I have arthritis under my knee cap.  He referred me to a physical therapist, but he told me that I could still run.  However, I should listen to my pain.  Well, Friday before my birthday I went running.  My knees felt tired, but no worse than usual.  Then on Saturday we went on the hike, which was by no means a stretch for me.  However, by Sunday evening I was limping around my house in wretched pain.  I've been in pain ever since.  Apparently, by the time I got to the doctor, I was right on the verge of having my knees rebel.  I'm glad I went when I did.  I started physical therapy on Tuesday, and the therapist predicts that it may take me a couple of months to be walking normally.  In six months I should be able to run again, but I don't think I will.  There are lots of ways to exercise that don't involve risking my ability to walk. 

It's been tough to find out I have arthritis right before my thirty-fourth birthday.  I feel like I'm too young to have arthritis, but it's genetic, I guess.  My grandma had both of her knees replaced.  My doctor said that I was probably born with a misshaped knee cap, and it was bound to happen sooner or later.  Still, it makes me feel old to be hobbling around, and now I'm kind of with Reagan:  I don't know if that hike was worth it!  No--in all seriousness, stuff happens.  I'm going to get better, and I'm going to be able to walk like normal again.  This whole experience is making me more grateful for the miracle that my body is.  God made it with hundreds of working parts that function together to keep me alive and moving.  I've always taken mobility for granted, and this blip is giving me more appreciation for my body and the many, many years of easy mobility with which I have been blessed and will be blessed.  Just remind me of my gratitude when I'm frustrated and impatient with my inability to walk down four stairs normally.  It's really hard to maintain a positive attitude sometimes, as I'm sure you can imagine.

Reagan started Kindergarten on Tuesday.  She loved her first day of school!  Daddy took her to and from school on the motorcycle, which was quite a treat.  I'm glad she's adjusting well, and I look forward to all of her growth during the next year.
Reagan's first day of school

Hanging out with Madelyn on the steps after school