Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Home, at last.

Well, here I am , back to the real world. No one here to deliver breakfast on a tray, no one to make up the room twice a day, adn certainly no carribean sunshine and Pina Colada waiting for me! But it is good to be home, just the same. I missed my house, my dogs, my family and my friends. I am such a homebody, so no matter how good it is to get away from it all, it is even nicer to come home, sleep in my own bed (even if it is between 2 snoring boxers) and do my own laundry. Ok... maybe not the laundry part :o) I am happy to be here just the same. I wouldn't think so, but after spending the last 10 days with m husband and children, I am a little lonely today without them here? I can't believe I miss them, all back to work and camp. I would have thought I woul dbe ready to have some time to myself, but nope, I am a little lonely. Good thing Izzy and Rufus are here to keep me company. I went and printed a few pictures (ok, 245) today and added some here. If you click on the slide show, it should take you to the site where you can see the pictures a little bigger and read the captions as well. ( Maybe even print or download the ones you want, for the grandparents!) Hope you enjoy looking at them aw much as we enjoyed living the moments.

I read something on a friend's blog today. Something about how the memories are the good things and we don't remember the not-so-good stuff. It is so true. Looking back over the pictures, I smile thinking of how much fun we had and all we did together as a family. I don't really think about the little things that can bug you, the little problems that pop up along the way, it is the good stuff that sticks with me. That was the stuff we hold close in our hearts, the stuff I capture in these pictures. That must be the reason I keep going away with my family. I have to start remembering all the times they drive me crazy and taking pictures of that a little more next time, I think :o)

Glad to be home, to have my computer fixed and running, and be surrounded by the people I love and those that love me for who I am. No matter what the carribean has to offer, it can't beat this!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Friday, Already?

My, how the week has flown by! Yesterday we spent the morning and early afternoon in St. Thomas (US Virgin Islands) and one of the major shopping ports! While the girls both managed to find little somethings to bring home, Ira and I did not :o( We started the day at the Butterfly Farm. It is run by a husband and wife couple from teh states and their goal is to both educate the public about butterflies (boy, did we learn A LOT!) as well as to increase the population of the natural species of butterflies that should be found in the carribean. It seems that the mass spraying of DDT years ago killed off all the butterflies,. so it has been a slow and steady process. In the enclosure, they had a large variety of so many different kinds, they wre just every where! Haley turned out to be the pro at being able to pick them up by putting her finger in the right place in front of a landed butterfly and letting it climb right on her. She loved it. Erin just was in amazement watching the beauty of each different kind and learnign all she could from the people who worked there. After the farm, and the little shopping through town, back to the ship for some swimming and a late night of watching movies on deck for Ira and I and the kids program for the girls.

Today was another beautiful day at sea that we missed the first half of sionce we slept until almost 11;00! (ok, the time change 1 hour forward helped....) The pool called to us and as we all swam around, we met a couple from around the block at home! Ira and I graduated high school with their kids. We never would have met them but will probably run into them at the grocery store next week now; talk about a small world?

Ok, off to Bermuda tmorrow!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

San Juan, Puerto Rico

...has to be one of the friendliest places I have ever been! Our day started out like the previous 3; breakfast on the balcony overlooking the sea (don't hate me) getting dressed, and heading out to see what the day would bring. We had planned to get a rental car, drive to the rain forrest, then spend the afternoon at the Wyndham resort (The Rio Mar) since we would be in port until 11:00 tonight. Well, it didn't work out exactly as planned... but what ever does for us? We spent almost an hour sitting on the pier trying to sort out the rental car situation. Seems they were sending us a car from New Jersey rather than the local Enterprise... so we ended up grabbing a taxi. Mean while, Haley had to go to the bathroom (she ALWAYS has to go to the bathroom, little Robby, we have taken to calling her) and when I tried to cross the very busy street, every car just stopped to let us cross. Then, the taxi driver was beyond helpful, driving in circles practicaly to get us where we needed to be and waiting outside to make sure it was the right place while Ira went inside. He genuinely wished us well and to enjoy San Juan. The car rental guy was very helpful, felt so bad that the reservation got so messed up, he reimbursed us the taxi fee and we didn't even ask. He gave us maps, made sure we knew where we were going, very nice. We drove to this rain forrest (the hike was horrible and we saw 7 snails/slugs, jury is out on what they were exactly still, 4 geckos of assorted colors and a little mouse like animal... woo-hoo) to reach a final destination of a very cool, but very crowded water fall. Still an amazing opportunity to hike through a rain forest with the girls and work off some of those cruise-pounds we have eaten over the last few days! It did feel good to sweat and get some excercise.

After the rain forrest, we went to the resort across the street. Ira had called ahead and they over-nighted us a pass to use the facilities for free for the day. It is a gorgeous place and if you are ever considering San Juan as a destination, The Rio Mar is worth the trip! (It is a Wyndham resort/hotel) Amazing pools, walk right on to the beach, golf courses, tennis courts.. just incredible and so beautiful. We got a little lost on the trip home, but my amazing Spanish skills (I can ask for more than a beer and the bathroom, thank god!) and the continued kindness and English of the locals got us where we needed to be, in the taxi of a NY born driver, who brought us to the ship after dropping off the car. The one thing that I am leaving Puerto Rico with is the memory of how nice the people are. Everyone we ran into was so kind and willing to help a family of American tourists. I think it will make me think a little bit the next time some person with limited English asks me for help back home!

On to Saint Thomas and a little bit of shopping!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

So much fun.....

we decided to stay for more!

Ok, so maybe that isn't how it worked, exactly.... Today we arrived at our first port, Grand Turk Island (or as Haley says, Great Turkey Island!) The comedian said it best at the show tonight, "2 days at sea to get to an island where the beach is too small, there are exactly 3 shops, and the cruise ship doubles the population of the island"! Yet somehow, it is still beautiful. Just the water, so clear, so blue, so warm, and the bright hot sun shining down. How could you not love this place? We took a cab to the beach and spent a few hours there. The girls enjoyed the sand, looking for sea glass, which they have never collected before. We found it in all shades of blue, green, white and clear and now have enough to mosaic an entire coffee table. We got a raft and tried to take the girls out to float above some of the fish and rocks and it was an interesting turn of events. Erin, the brave explorer of the two, screamed, cried, and wanted to go back. She saw a school of fish each the size of, I don't know, tiny, and was in fear for her life. Haley, the one who was most hesitant and unwilling, got out there on the raft and thought it was sooo cool! The same school of fish went by jumping and swimming and she laughed and squealed with delight! Needless to say, we immediately returned to the ship and canceled the excursion where Erin and I were going in the ocean to swim with the sea lions and instead will be going to the Butterfly Garden. Erin decided she likes the sandy part of the beach, pools, and dry land. Marine life just "isn't her thing".

Upon retunring to the ship we also made a few interesting discoveries. First, Erin and Haley had smuggled about half the Grand Turk beach back on board in their bathing suits. And second, well, this will be the part where you find out exactly how we are "extending" our vacation...

You see, there is a steak house on board, a nice restaurant you need to make reservations to eat at. I really wanted to have dinner there one night, so Ira went to the desk to see if he could arrange that around the kids program so we could have a nice dinner, just the two of us. When he asked the lady what night there was room available, she said she could get us a table on Saturday night. Well, he said he didn't want to have dinner there on the last night, since we were getting off the ship on Sunday. She laughed, in some accent, and told him, "The only way you are getting off the ship on Sunday is overbaord! We don't get into New York until Monday!" Keep in mind, he is talking to a lady working at the front desk of the cruise ship and being Ira, he now proceeds to argue with her for a good two minutes that, no, we do not arrive in NY on Monday, we arrive on Sunday. He knows this of course, as a passenger, because he booked the trip, and he has appointments on Monday... Bet she had a great story to tell the other cruise staff members at the bar later tonight!

So, needless to say, we are putting this spin on it.. we are having such a great time, we have decided to extend the cruise an extra day and teh cruise line and all the other passengers are willing to accomodate us! Good thing we over packed a little, huh? That's my story and I'm sticking to it. Now, someone pleae go feed my fih the extra day and call the kennel and tell them the dogs will be extending their visit as well:o)

not missing you so much, a Pina Colada will do that to you!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Hello From Sea.......

As I write this, I am somewhere in the ocean between New York City and Grand Turks. We are traveling on the Carribean Princess Cruise Ship and it is truly AMAZING! We sailed from Brooklyn Harbor on Saturday afternoon and have spent 2 days at sea. Each morning we have enjoyed breakfast on our balconty overlooking the beautiful blue water, and as much as I am not a morning person, it isn't a bad way to start the day.

Saturday, the girls had the intersting experience of swimming in a pool on a ship in the ocean. First... it is salt water. Not quite what they expected. Second, the waves and motion outside the ship? Yeah, well, that is also INSIDE the POOL! Erin LOVE, LOVE, LOVED it... Haley? Not so much... The girls are enrolled in the children's program on board. Let me put it this way- We go to pick them up at the pre-determined time and see other parents being greeted by their children running to hug them yeling "mommy! daddy!" Ira and I are greeted with "NO! I am not ready! Go away and come back later!" They won't leave. They have had a Ping Pong tournament, made clay, tons of art projects, an ice cream party, and haveso many friends. They are each in a different group and different room, so they get to spend some time apart from each other and loving every minute of it. Last night, we kept the girls out of the kids dinner time so they could have dinner with us and we had a nice family dinner in the Italian restaurant. They couldn't wait to get out of there.

Today, we had lunch at the pool, swam for a few hours, and took the girls to see the ice carving demonstrations after the kids carnival in the morning. Then they spent the afternoon with their friends playing Twister, doing Turtle things {I don't ask} making clay, beading, and who knows what else! Tonight was pirate night and they are probably walking the plank with eye patches on as I sit here typing! The one thing they have their mind set on is staying up until midnight, so tonight we are taking blankets up to the top deck and watching a movie under the stars at 10:00 {The Waterhorse is showing on the Jumbo Screen tonight} and we couldn't be more excited about it.

All in all, it works out well, The kids play. I go to the spa and sit in the sauna or on the hot-rock tables, and Ira spends his free time in the casinos! {We tried reading on our balcony outside our room, but the sear air acts like some kind of drug and we both promptly fell asleep. It just doesn't seem to work} Who knows what the nexts three days and three ports will bring, but our 2 days at sea have been fan-tab-ulous!

Will keep you posted on our travels... Missing you all!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

I love 'em anyway..... Isabel and Rufus

This week they ate... a scrungy from the shower, Haley's fuzzy pink sock, a ziploc baggie with leftover baked beans and a paper cup. Not a bad week. On the bright side... they play with the kids, they are constant companions, they make me laugh, they force me to get some excercise every day, they clean up the crumbs on the floor without being asked and they are just so dang cute! (ok, I could live without the slober, though!)

My Sunshine

She just brightens every day, this Haley does. She is lively and funny and full of life. Her smile is simply adorable, and she is contagious with how she makes you happy when you are around her. That is my Haley.

So Beautiful

Who is this girl? How can Erin be so grown up? Look at her here, she certainly doesn't look 7, does she? I went away for a scrapping weekend and when I came home, Ira and the girls had planted flowers for me for Mother's Day in the backyard. I think this right here is the brightest blossom of them all.


Haley took her last field trip of the year to a children's museum and playground in Philadelphia. Ira got this picture on his cell phone, and I ust love it! Thank goodness for modern technology... she was flying!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Happy Birthday, USA!

July 4th is a fabulous day! Take a minute to remember why we celebrate today. It isn't about hamburgers on the grill, swimming and going to see fireworks. Today is the day we celebrate the Independence of our country won so many years ago. It all seems so far removed from us as we sit here in 2008 and lead this life where we can pretty much do as we please. That right came at a price that so many fought for so many years ago and so many more continue to serve today to ensure those freedoms for people all over this world. When I hear our National Anthem, I sing each word with pride. I say the Pledge to our Flag clearly and with pride. I am teaching my children the words to both so that they know them as well. It is something small, but it is an easy way to teach them to have pride in their country.

My grandfather, Henry VanWezemaal, came to this country from Belgium through Ellis Island. He served this county as a cook on a Navy ship in WWII. He was a proud American. I grew up with very patriotic grandparents who taught me a love of land and country. So on this day, The 4th day of July, take a moment away from suntan lotion and watermelon and sparklers and sing the National Anthem. It tells a story....

"Gave proof through the night, that our flag was still there.
Oh say does that star spangled banner yet wave?
For the land of the free, and the home of the brave"

That is some powerful stuff.