Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Hangin' in the Bat Cave!

Tonight Haven Esther found a fun new place to play! I had taken the clothes out of the dryer and left the door open while I carried them into the living room. I came back to find that Haven had thrown her ball into the dryer and was sitting on the open door. She sat and sang to the ball for a while, occasionally sticking her head and/or feet inside. Then, she spied Bub's soccer ball and went after it. She threw it in, too, creating her own little ball pit! She climbed right inside! She spent about fifteen minutes singing and playing with the balls while I snapped shots, then tossed the balls out and climbed out after them.
She's so funny!

Friday, March 20, 2009

The ER Can Be Fun!

Ever taken your kids to the ER only to spend at minimum four hours in a waiting room or patient room with no toys? Haven and I found ourselves in just that situation on Thursday. A bored toddler who doesn't feel well anyway cooped up in a boring environment is a recipe for meltdown. However, with the right attitude and a little creative thinking, the ER can really be a fun place. Here's how Haven and I enjoy ourselves on our trips to the ER.
You will probably spend some time in the waiting room, even if you appear to be the only people in the hospital. Don't let this get you down. Use this time for fun!
* Play "find that germ." - there are a plethora of interesting buggies at the ER. Encourage your toddler to touch and lick every possible surface. Face it, he is going to do it anyway, so you might as well look at it as a hobby.
* Visit the bathroom as often as possible - in addition to being another excellent source of nasty germs, the bathroom has many fun toys in it such as the automatic paper towel dispenser, flush toilet, and running water.
* Your child will likely have the opportunity to increase his or her vocabulary by a few choice words when the unruly drunk who has been refused treatment is escorted out by security.
* There is generally a candy/snack/soda machine in the waiting room. Your child is already ill, do not worry about good nutrition at this point. Spend as much time as possible letting him select crap to eat and drink, insert coins, and push buttons. This exercise is not only good for learning negotiation skills, but also improves hand-eye coordination and can be referred to for bribery later in the visit.
* Once you meet the triage nurse, you can spend a few minutes entertaining him as he tries (valiantly) to weigh, measure, and examine your little one. Encourage your child to be as challenging as possible. This not only helps the nursing staff to hone their skills, but also kills approximately 4 times as many minutes as cooperating.
In the examination room, a myriad of educational opportunities await you and your toddler. Use the posters to discuss body parts and encourage the child to find the matching body parts on his or her own body. ("Eye...where's Haven's eye? Good job!
* Nose...where's Haven's nose? That's right! Tonsil...where's Haven's tonsil? Try again. Nope. Look at the poster, honey...")
* Children love lifelike pictures in vibrant colors. Help your toddler learn all about the various infectious rashes displayed about the room.
* The examination room is also an excellent place to learn about cause and effect. For example, when you pull the cord attached to this picture of the nurse an alarm will sound and nurses will come running. Okay, in reality, it's more like when you pull the cord attached to this picture of the nurse a nurse will appear in approximately 20 minutes unless your mother deciphers the obscure symbolism of the mechanism and turns off the alarm in which case no one will ever show up to inquire and if your mother brings it up the nurse will exclaim, "Oh, that's what it was!"
* When the doctor comes in your seriously ill child will probably perk up immediately, flirt a little, speak in complete sentences, and wrap up the show with a charming song and dance number. This is highly entertaining for both the child and the medical professional, but somewhat uncomfortable for the parent or parents who are still trying to convince said doctor that the child is, in fact, quite ill.
* The doctor is likely to order any variety of medical testing in order to placate you, the worried parent. This is great fun for little ones and they will usually ooh and ahhh over all of the bright colors mommy is turning as the doctor patronizes her.
* Of course, the entire trip cannot be fun and games. That's why there are medical tests. However, you can still make this time as fun as possible. I like to think of blood work as a wrestling match. Sometimes it is a toss-up who will win. X-rays are similar to a game of freeze tag with less running. Gagging during the strep test makes for some funny noises! And if your child has an RSV or influenza screen, just point out that someone ELSE is picking their nose for a change. See? Wasn't that fun?
* After the medical tests, your child will probably need some comfort even if you did an excellent job of making them game-like. This is the perfect time to whip out the junk foods you purchased in the waiting room.
* Now that your child has a sugar high, you two can explore the examining room together! Haven and I do several fun things while we wait for the doctor to come back in and tell us that it's viral and we should just go home: investigate all of the cupboards and drawers...there's lots of stuff in there and you're probably paying for it all, anyway; pull out the little plastic tips for the ottoscope and replace them in the top of the tube (this can last for HOURS); try latex gloves on baby's hands and feet and then wad them up and stuff them back in the box; let baby try all of the buttons on the pulse-ox.

Before you know it, it's time to go home, play time is over. Your child may be sad and even refuse to leave. It is best not to threaten, simply reassure the child that you will return soon to play. Remember that it is important to follow through on your promises. The next time your baby is ill and you have about $400 and 4 hours to kill, head back to the ER for more fun!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Don't you wish your sister was fun like me?

Last year my sister and I were talking about our birthdays. I am a big baby about my b-day. I milk that sucker for all it's worth. The entire week of my birthday is my birthday and I expect special treatment the whole time! My sister, on the other hand, shared with me that she just doesn't get that excited about her birthday any more. In fact, her birthday is somewhat of a letdown for her. That night Jason and I laid in bed and hatched a plan for me to surprise her and just show up at her workplace for her birthday sometime.
This was that year! Haven had not met her Aunt Marcy, Uncle Tommy, or cousins, Ian and Tommy, so I brought her along on the trip. I solicited the help of a couple of co-conspirators, Marcy's husband (Tommy) and my mother. Tommy engaged the help of Marcy's boss and we were off and running.
My original idea was to show up at the hospital the morning of Mar's b-day and whisk her off to lunch. That morphed into whisking her off to the spa as well and I had a great time shopping on-line for spas and treatments for us to enjoy together. Bringing Haven made the plan just a little bit more complicated, but my mother was more than pleased to keep her for me while Mar and I pampered ourselves. Haven and I flew in to Tampa on Wednesday evening and Mom met us at the airport. Haven was a nightmare at dinner. I'm pretty sure she was just sick and tired of being corralled all day! Mom let me know that there was a minor change in our plans since Tommy actually arranged for Mar to have the day off for her birthday. Now we would be surprising her at her house instead of at the hospital. No problem. The only thing I was really worried about was Haven. She was a mess until we got out of the airport! Once we were back at mom's place Haven settled right in. She even slept like a champion. Mom and I conspired to get up around seven and head to Marcy's (which is in Lakeland, about 50 minutes away) at 9:30 a.m.
Haven and I overslept, not dragging ourselves out of bed until shortly after eight. Then, Marcy called Mom and said, "What are your plans for the day?" Mom told her she didn't have any, so Mar said, "Well, I have the day off for my birthday and I thought I could come to Tampa and have lunch with you." Mom was thinking on her feet and said that was a great plan but that she had some errands to run beforehand. They arranged to meet at 11:30 which would still give Mom, Haven, and me a chance to get to her house before she left it. We had to leave about twenty minutes earlier than we had planned, so we hurried around and zoomed off to Lakeland. I was feeling really nervous in the car! We were almost to her house when Tommy called and said he'd meet us there (he didn't want to miss out on the surprise). We pulled in to Marcy's driveway and Tommy pulled in just after us. Apparently Marcy heard the cars because she pulled open the back door just as we were approaching it. Mom and Tommy were in front, so that's who Mar saw first. Then she saw Haven and I. I'm pretty sure she really was surprised!
I got Haven settled in at Marcy's house, then we were off to the spa! We had an amazing four hours of pampering. We enjoyed a pedicure with hot stone massage, a moisture therapy hand wrap, a fabulous facial, and a tropical body wrap. Now, I'd never had a body wrap before and wasn't prepared for it, so I'm going to give you the scoop in case your sister ever whisks you off for a spa day.
The tropical body wrap was amazing...once I got over the sense that someone was actually bathing me. After changing into a lovely paper bra and panty ensemble, I laid down on what I can only describe as a bathtub table which was covered with towels, plastic, and more towels. Some of those towels then went over my nakedness. Then the spa person (I really have no idea how to identify her position...maybe I'll refer to her as the "bather") wet me down with a long arm covered with shower heads that was somehow attached to the ceiling. Yes, she wet both the towels and my skin. Afterward, she buffed my body with something that smelled fruity and wonderful. The sensation was akin to a light massage. Next she rinsed me again and then replaced my wet towels with dry ones. That was followed with a tropical body mask which she massaged into my skin. Then she wrapped me in plastic (seriously) and left me to baste for a while. I was so relaxed that I dozed off and only woke up when my own snore startled me. Then my own personal bather came back in, hosed me down once again, and then lotioned me thoroughly. It was heavenly.
After all of that, Marcy and I stumbled into a nearby restaurant for soup and an appetizer. The food revived us sufficiently for us to drive home. We all had a good couple of days. I got to spend time with my mother, sister, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, brother, nephews and furry niece (Daisy). I was exhausted by the time Haven and I flew home EARLY Saturday morning, but it was a fun, fast trip. Now, all I can think about is what Marcy is going to expect next year!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Last Melon

The last day of our cruise was our beach day. We were at Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian's "private" island, where we could snorkel, kayak, or just lay in the sun. I was planning on all three...that is, until the captain came on and announced that due to the wind and wave conditions it would be impossible to tender us to the island and we would have to spend an unscheduled day at sea instead. Bummer. Especially since it was Jason's birthday and I really wanted it to be a special day for him. My initial disappointment gave way when we got up to the top deck and found that it was beautiful out. I was determined to make the best of my last day of vacation and enjoy it to the fullest. It was a beautiful day on board a beautiful ship and I could spend it with my wonderful husband and two of my best friends. Who could ask for more?

So, instead of lounging on the beach all day, we ate a leisurely breakfast in the main dining room (I had fresh fruit with cottage cheese, followed by a waffle with banana compote), then I did my favorite thing...went back to bed. After a good nap, I was ready to face the day at sea! We played Spades with the Dostals (girls against the boys, of course), walked around the ship, shopped in the gift shop, then had a fancy lunch. After lunch, Jason and I donned our swimsuits and headed up to the top deck. It was wall to wall people! After much searching, I found two deck chairs next to each other and staked my claim. J worked on his sermon and I read. Gradually, the other sunbathers cleared out until it was only Jason and I in our area. We spent nearly 3 hours soaking up the sun. It was so relaxing! Afterward, we cleaned up and went to the show, then out to dinner with Andrew & Michelle. The wait staff sang loudly and off-key to Jason and served him birthday cake. He hated it...I loved it! As we turned in early, I was already sad that the cruise was over...and already thinking about the next one!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

To All my Fans (Miranda)

I'm back. Sorry for the drama. I'm sure I can blame it on somebody besides myself...but I can't think of anyone!

Day 3 of vacay we ported in Nassau, Bahamas. It was a much nicer day out, the sun was shining and the wind was just a breeze. The first thing we did was shop (yay!). While shopping, I noticed something peculiar happening in the Bahamas. The previous day, I thought it was original to the Subway in Freeport, but of course we visited the Subway in Nassau and found the same situation there and in the two of the other bathrooms we visited. Apparently it is commonplace in the bahamas to have to be buzzed in to the bathroom of a store or restaurant. Three bathrooms then had steep stairs leading up to them. It gave me a sense of impending doom...like the restrooms were booby trapped!

We braved the marketplace for an hour or so, rejecting all the cries of, "taxi, I take you where you wanna go, mon" and "hey, pretty lady, let me braid your hair" and "baby, I take you to Atlantis...you wanna see Atlantis, I take you." We met up with our tour group and boarded a large catamaran (motorized). Our tour operators were wonderful. They gave us an interesting rundown on the history of Nassau and pointed out the houses of the rich and famous along the way to the reef. Jason and I boarded our clear kayak and off we paddled. I was a little nervous about the kayak because it was a lot more like a canoe. It was wider than a traditional kayak and thin edged, not like most ocean kayaks. Apparently they are easier to tip, too, because we were briefed on what to do in case of just such and emergency and each kayak was actually equipped with a baler (which I was hoping not to use). I relaxed once we got into a paddling rhythm, though. It was fun to see through the kayak at what was swimming just under us. Too much looking down made me feel motion sick, though! We kayaked for about 30 - 45 minutes, then paddled back to the boat, geared up for snorkeling, and jumped in the water.
Even though it was sunny and much warmer out, the water was still cold enough to take your breath away when you jumped in. Andrew & Michelle proved they were smarter than us by staying in their kayak! Once we got going, though, we saw an amazing and beautiful array of fish. Some of them were HUGE. We saw one that was about as big as Avery! I can't remember them all, but I know we identified damselfish, parrotfish, grunt, Nassau grouper, white margates, etc. I could've stayed all day...but it was really cold. When our tour operator blew the whistle for us to get out of the water, I was ready! We sat in the sun on the bow of the boat as we road back to Nassau. On the way we actually say Nicolas Cage boarding his yacht (he owns a home in Nassau). Not one of my favorite actors, but still fun to brag about.
Probably the funniest thing on our whole trip happened as soon as we got off the boat. We were standing on the sidewalk, trying to decide what to do next, when we were approached by a man. He assured us that he wasn't trying to sell us anything, but that he had a "free gift" for us. He kept blathering on as he dug in his pockets (cursing like a sailor) and finally produced 3 anklets and a bracelet which he then handed to us. He informed us that the anklets & bracelet were worth about $10 each at the straw market and what they were made of. He started telling us that he worked for the division of tourism, blah, blah, blah, then tried to force us to put on the jewelry we were still awkwardly holding. In fact, he picked up my foot and slid the anklet on my leg. Then, Michelle tried to put on her anklet and it busted, scattering coral all over. She was so embarrassed! The rest of us almost couldn't hold it together it was so funny! He gave her another one and assured her it was no problem. Then he started going on and on about how he worked as a "big brother" for the children's home (really? what do you do, teach them to curse and lie) and if we gave a donation for the jewelry it would go to buy the kids shoes. It was so comical. We ended up giving him $20 combined...mainly to get away from him!
We ate at the hardrock cafe, then shopped at the straw market. After some t-shirt shopping for the kids, we headed back to the boat.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


I just deleted my blog titled, "Just point me to the nude beach." I had to delete it because there was a photo of my husband on it and that combined with the title apparently prompted several people to contact him.
Let it be known that if you had bothered to read the blog it was about me not having packed adequately for the trip. My husband's picture was only there because it was a nice pic of us on the trip.
If you have further comments about any of my blogs, please be so kind as to address them to me rather than him. At this moment in time I'm so ticked off that I just don't care to blog any more.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Snorkel, Sail, & Sea-sickness

The first night of our cruise we ate at the main dining room, booked our excursions, went to a show, and played cards with Andrew & Michelle. It was a blast! Our excursion for the next day was "Snorkel & Sail." We were to depart at 9:00 a.m. for our catamaran, sail out to reef, snorkel for an hour or so, then sail back in. We were meeting the Dostals for breakfast at 8:00, so we set an alarm for seven. Unfortunately, the captain's announcement at eight is what actually woke us up! We called Andrew & Michelle and then hustled around to get ready and still managed a nice breakfast before going ashore.
The day was surprisingly cool in Freeport, but I was trying to be tough and not complain. The bus ride was warm, but once we got on the sail boat and were moving across the water I felt pretty chilled. I was still excited to snorkel, though, and even though the sea was pretty rough, I jumped in as soon as the boat stopped. The water was so cold it was hard to catch my breath! Jason and I swam out to the reef and tried to stay afloat as we identified brain coral, fan coral, clown fish, snapper, and many other amazing undersea varieties of life. Soon I forgot how cold I was and just enjoyed the sneak peek under the sea. I've never snorkeled in such choppy water, though. "Choppy" is probably not the correct term as we had actual waves rolling over us and lifting us up and down. I was actually a little green around the gills when our guide blew his whistle to call us back to the boat. When we got there I had a hard time climbing up the ladder since the catamaran was being raised as much as three feet in the water with each wave! I finally climbed aboard after suffering minor bruises and abrasions from wrestling the ladder. Once on deck, I felt better, but I noticed that a few of my fellow tourists were barfing over the side of the boat!
Jason was shaking, not shivering, when he climbed aboard, so we climbed to the front of the vessel and found the sun. We ended up laying snuggled up in the sun on the nets stretched across the two hulls of the catamaran as we sailed back. That was probably my favorite part of that excursion! Once we were back on dry land we popped into a Subway (we've eaten at Subways in 3 countries, now) and got a pop, then headed out to do some shopping. On the top of my list was a long sleeved shirt which we actually ended up finding in a Harley Davidson shop. It was really strange to see cars driving on the "wrong" side of the road, and some of the traffic signs were quite different, too. I was highly amused at the "speed hump" signs!
The last thing we did in Freeport was visit the beach. We spread out our towels and lounged in the sun which had decided to come out and stay out. The sand was like flour it was so soft and white and the water was an amazing turquoise blue. At 3:30 p.m., we reluctantly caught the bus back to our cruise ship. It was the kind of day I could relive a thousand times, but in 999 of those times, I'd make the sea a bit calmer and the weather a bit warmer!