The first week of May we spent getting ready for our big vacation! I had gotten a big profit-sharing bonus from work and used it to book us a seven night carnival cruise to the Caribbean.
On May 6 we boarded our flight for Orlando. It was so nice that we had positive space passes to fly meaning that we were not standby and we were guaranteed a seat on the flight! We flew through the night and got on our connection the next morning into San Juan.
Took a taxi to our favorite hotel--Doubletree by Hilton. Got out and said hi to the concierge Antonio. He remembered us! Even remembered about when we were there, that our last name started with a B and was unusual. They got us right into our room even though it was early in the morning ❤️
We went right to the beach. Overcast, but still beautiful! Kids played in the waves while Tony & I chilled in beach chairs. Then we all played in the ocean.
Went back to our room, changed & walked to La B de Burro. We all got Chimichangas (of course!)--Bud & Faith got shrimp, Tony got pastor & I got carnita.
Buddy, who refused to wear his hat in the ocean, was super sunburnt on his face & legs so we stopped by a Walgreens for some after sun gel. We were back to our room by 4 and went to sleep. Faith & Christian hadn't had a wink in two days!!
Tony tried waking up Buddy around 9:30 to hear the Coqui frogs, but he was too tired and just stayed asleep.
On the 8th, our hotel let us stay until noon even though the checkout time was 11am 😊 Went to the port to just check in our baggage, but found that we could check in and have lunch onboard, so we did!
Toured around the ship and checked out our room. Played mini golf on one of the decks.
Got some soft serve ice cream and I had some Mother's Day cake.
Went to dinner in the fancy dining room. That night we had appetizers of tropical fruit & shrimp cocktail. Dinners of pan seared tilapia, salmon, steak & brisket. Deserts of chocolate melting cake and creme brûlée. A magician came to our table and did some neat tricks! One was where he folded up a dollar bill and when he unfolded it it was this million dollar bill:
That night, we sat on the back upper deck and enjoyed the sunset and live band one deck down. Faith & Bud tried shuffleboard. Bud & Tony played ping pong.
Enjoyed the sights as we pulled out of port.
On the 9th Faith didn't feel great, so I went to breakfast at the coconut buffet with Ton & Bud and brought Faith back a plate.
We docked in St Thomas and decided to take an open air taxi to Magens Bay. Our driver was speeding like crazy up and down the steep, narrow streets in the mountains and even had his speedometer covered by a paper!
The water was clear, gorgeous and calm with no waves in the bay! We were delighted to see silvery little fish which would hang out right by our feet and legs. We rented two pairs snorkel equipment so the kids could get a better view of them.
Christian had gotten sunburned so badly in San Juan that he got blisters on his chin, so he was good about wearing his hat in St. Thomas. Unfortunately, somehow it missed coming back with us and decided to live there instead 😂
We did a little bit of browsing in the shops. Christian got a pirate skull piggy bank,
Faith got an engraved shell,
& Tony got some coconut candy and a Christmas ornament.
We got back on the ship
and went to dinner. There was fancy sushi, French onion soup, meatloaf, and penne with mussels, calamari, & salmon.
Faith headed to bed, but Christian, Tony and I went to two family comedy shows. They were a lot of fun!
May 10th was our day at sea. We slept in, then got ready and went to brunch in the sit down restaurant. Faith felt too sick and stayed back at the room. For starters, Christian had tomato soup, Tony had the fruit plate and I had a bagel with herb cream cheese and lox. Then Christian had French toast encrusted with Froot Loops,
Tony had steak and eggs, and I had an omelette. For dessert Christian had banana cream pie and Tony had caramel cheesecake. We brought back some fruit, frosted Flake encrusted French toast, and bacon for faith.
For some reason, we let Christian play a claw game on the ship and he became obsessed with it. Instead of stuffed animals, it had expensive games in it, so you know it's impossible to win. He ended up throwing a big fit over it. Man, I hate those things!
At one point, Tony & I went to the Lido deck and waved so the kids could see us on the closed circuit TV channel that just shows the feed 24/7. Then we did some more ship touring.
Faith stayed in bed all day. Christian, Tony & I dressed up for fancy dinner and met a nice family from Utah in line. He's a Salt Lake City police officer, she took this picture of us, and they had a four year old boy.
For appetizers, Bud had stuffed mushrooms and alligator fritters. I had beet carpaccio & chilled strawberry soup. Ton had the mushrooms. For dinner Tony & Buddy had lobster tail with tiger shrimp.
I had prime rib. Desserts were Carmelites apples on puff pastry and cherries jubilee. Brought Faith back spaghetti carbonara, BBQ ribs, and chocolate melting cake.
Tony & I took Buddy to the comedy show. Unfortunately, it was basically the same as the guy's set the night before. We ran into and sat by the salt lake couple!Dropped Bud off back at the room, then went on a date to the "Divas" singing show and another comedy show.
On the 11th Faith was feeling better. Breakfast in the buffet restaurant and got off the ship in Barbados. Their port sends you right through a shopping mall and first thing we got Bud a new hat!
But not this one! You'll see it in the following pics.
We looked for a taxi and found a guy who offered to take us on a tour of the island. Saw lots of neighborhoods, the house where Rhianna grew up, a very old Anglican Church visited by Ronald Regan (where our driver bought us some spicy fried hush puppies),
the highest spot on the island where there was a monkey in a cage,
and then took us to a white sand beach for a few hours. We loved swimming there and playing in sand. We found and held a starfish!
Saw lots of jellyfish-like creatures (non stinging) which only I dared to hold.
Built some sand castles.
Christian was determined to get a souvenir from each island, and here is what he picked up in Barbados:
Back on the ship we had some late lunch of hamburger, chili dog, and the kids enjoyed some twisty ice cream. I took the kids to water slide, but we mostly people watched and the kids did the smaller slide where they raced side-by-side.
For dinner, Bud started with Thai chicken coconut soup, Faith chilled peach soup, Tony & I had duck with raspberries and orange segments. Main dishes, Bud seafood Newburgh, Faith farfalle with turkey, Tony & I lamb shank. Dessert, Bud coconut cake, and the rest of us tiramisu, plus dark & white chocolate bread pudding to share. We were seated next to two sisters (in their early 20s) who were fun to chat with and told us that we shouldn't be missing out on the free room service every night.
That night we went to a show by Dana Tison--juggler & comedian. Very fun!! Loved the audience volunteers.
Back at the room we followed the advice and got room service: BLT's and fancy chocolate cake. It was awesome! Watched Alvin & the chipmunks: Chipwrecked.
May 12th found us docked in St Lucia. After getting ready and a quick breakfast, we got off the ship and into a van for our excursion: horseback riding from Hoofprint Ranch!
We got there and had some instruction, put on helmets, then rode from the ranch through a banana plantation to Roseau beach.
It is a dark sand, volcanic beach. When we got to the beach, there were local fishermen pulling in nets.
One had caught a big barracuda!
All those razor-sharp teeth didn't deter the kids and I, so we played in the water a bit, then the guides took a horse in the water and we took turns riding bareback in the surf.
After that, we saddled up and headed back to the ranch.
We had a snack of bottled water and bananas, then were instructed to feed the banana peels to the horse as a treat!
Bud's gift shop find-
Back on the ship, we had Mongolian BBQ lunch, but weren't really impressed. Took a while getting ready for for our last fancy dress dinner.
For dinner, Tony seafood appetizer, Bud & I had escargot, I tried the broccoli soup too, Faith had chilled cherry soup. Main course: Tony fish, me beef with beronaise sauce, Faith & Bud spanakopita and stuffed peppers. Dessert: Tony cheesecake, Faith and I baked Alaska, Christian amaretto cake.
We decided since we were all dressed up and they had a ton of photography studio set ups that we would get some long overdue family photos!
We went to the onboard candy shop and got the kids some giant jawbreaker suckers. We went to an Illusionist show featuring R.J. Cantu who had been on America's Got Talent, but it was terrible! Very slow and overly dramatic pacing, plus he accidentally sliced his finger with a razor blade (swallowing razor blades and floss trick where he spits them out all tied together) and bled everywhere!
We got room service again--kids chose hot chocolate & cake, Tony had a Reuben sandwich & I got a Caesar salad.
On the 13th our port was St Kitts. Here the kids did Christian's choice, the Dolphin encounter. We paid $150 for Faith, $120 for Bud, $30 each for Tony & I to "observe" The kids loved it, but we were upset that we could not see kids very well at all.😠 I'm sure it's so people couldn't get their own photos and would have to pay for some.
We got to see kids hold onto fins and get pulled, then get pushed while on a kick board. They kissed the dolphin and participated in some tricks that we couldn't see. Pictures were $35 a piece or $130 for all of them on a CD, so we didn't get any.
Back at port we held and got our pictures taken with two monkeys owned by a Rastafarian. They bit us a little, but had no teeth! The one in the flag T-shirt was named Donald Trump.
We then took a taxi to a beach. It was a very quiet section with lots of little shells all over the sand and just under the water!
Bought a big conch shell from a guy walking the beach. Our taxi driver waited there for us I don't little open air cantina. Before we left, the bartender had us sign one of the walls so that we would be part of the island ❤️
Did a little bit of souvenir shopping. The kids wanted something with the dolphin on it to remember their experience. Bud got a tiny marble dolphin statue
and Faith got a white dolphin bracelet.
Went to dinner. Got to sit by the two sisters again! Heard about their six hour hike excursion and about last year when they hiked a glacier in France. Those girls love to travel!
Appetizer: I had mushroom cream soup, Christian braised ox tongue, Tony and Faith tomato and fresh mozzarella. Dinner: Tony had red snapper, Faith lasagna, Christian roast turkey, me petite fillet mignon and short rib. Dessert of chocolate raspberry cake, apple pie which was heavily spiced, and diet pumpkin pie which was a weird Jell-O-y mousse and not good.
Faith felt sick and didn't want to go to the comedy shows, so just Tony & I went to a later one. Very funny guy! Came back and ordered cookies & milk from room service.
On May 14th we arrived in St Maarten. Slept in a bit, had a leisurely breakfast, got ready,
off the ship and found a taxi. Our driver drove us to the beach right by the airport just so we could see it in person, then on to Mullet beach.
It had a steep bank, white sand, and very clear water. There were big schools of little dark fish which would stay just out of reach. I loved the cool overhang of rock nearby.
We swam quite a ways out and the kids used goggles and snorkels. Bud used a pool noodle that a nearby hotel employee had offered up for use. We saw sea urchins, roundish yellow fish with black stripes, and some fish the color and pattern of snake skin.
Tony mostly relaxed on a beach chair--his idea of heaven. We were tempted into purchasing lunch of bbq ribs and chicken from a grill right on the beach because of its heavenly aroma. We even had to get more ribs because they were so good!
Back at the port, Christian and Faith got keychains with starfish in them
and we each got a few Belgian chocolates.
That night's dinner--Appetizers: Bud & I tried frog legs, (Buddy had a fun time making his frog legs jump around 😂)
I also had a bite of crab cake, Tony & Faith chilled mango soup, Dinner: Tony portobello mushroom & fish. Bud & Faith bacon mac & cheese, me fried chicken, Dessert: cappuccino ice cream pie, grand mariner soufflé, Bud also got sugar free apple pie. Watched the beautiful sunset.
Went to a comedy show that night and got the kids virgin pina coladas.
The first comedian was awful. Second was a guy named Tommy Drake who was super funny and juggled a bowling ball, machete and an apple. At the end of the act, he did a rope cutting magic trick and Buddy got to assist!
Ordered cake for for our final night of room service.
On May 15th we got up at 5:15am to see the sunrise while relaxing on the deck.
Watched as we approach San Juan and pulled into port. Had a quick breakfast then got ready and packed up our personal bags. Christian had to say goodbye to his towel animal creations that we got each night of our cruise. Here's a compilation of them:
Love them so much, that his final souvenir was a book he bought on board about how to make them!
(Picture taken at home a few days later, also holding the conch shell from St. Kitts)
We disembarked the ship for the last time and collected our bags from the terminal. Got in the long customs line and waited over 30 minutes When we realized that Buddy forgot his phone back in the room. He'd set it in the bed end it was hidden under the covers! Luckily they were able to radio an employee and it was already turned in by our cabin steward to lost and found.
Thanks to some super nice desk in the counter agent coworkers, we were able to get "even more space" seats for both of our connecting flights home 😄
May 18th I was back at Riot and this day we did our sand volleyball work out.
On May 25th I went in for my abdominoplasty surgery. Here are some pictures I took of all my stomach skin that morning:
When I got to the surgery center in South Ogden, I found my dad as my surgery support instead of my mom who I was expecting. Turns out my mom woke up with food poisoning that day ☹️
Everything went perfectly with my surgery and I was doing so well that dad got to take me home earlier than expected. My oxygen levels were just a little bit low, so they gave me this plastic contraption to help me practice taking deep breaths. The kids enjoyed that thing a lot more than I did!
My doctor called to see how I was doing and when I answered the phone, he asked me why I sounded so great! I was doing so well, but I decided to go out for a walk in the neighborhood with the kids. My sister Joy brought us a delicious dinner that night ❤️
The next day I got to take off the wrap and see what my incision looked like. First, here is the wrap and my yucky surgery drains.
Tony took the day off work to care for me and that came with the bonus of taking Christian to his Lego pinewood derby.
I loved that this year instead of carving the cars out of a block of wood, they got to build them with Legos on a special base!
On the 28th Tony started painting Faith's room and installing Pergo flooring in both kids' bedrooms. I was supposed to lay in bed, sleep and recuperate, but I'm not good at that. So I helped paint and marked all the cuts for the flooring!
We finished up on the 29th and love how everything turned out.
On May 31st I finally put my feet up and decided to do it outside in the sunshine 😁 I really have been feeling great and recovering quickly.
My cousin Lynette became a grandma and posted this five generation picture on Facebook: Lynette, Grandma Tesch, Whitney holding baby Luisa Mae, aunt Sandra Powell.