Our Caribbean cruise vacation: Part 2

If you missed part one, read it HERE.

Day 3: Monday, October 10th. This was our first full day on the Freedom of the Seas and a Day at Sea. There were so many things going on at all times but the only thing the boys really wanted to do was play at the pool. We were pretty okay with that.

As a side note, I thought it was interesting when we’d tell people that we were going on a cruise, many reacted with an “oh, you’re not taking the kids.” Ummm yeah, we’re taking the kids! “Oh, then it’s a Disney cruise?” Ummm nope. That cost twice what a Royal Caribbean cruise costs. “Oh.” It really threw me for a loop and I wasn’t sure if everyone else knew something I didn’t. There were fleeting moments during the cruise when I thought in the back of my mind “ohhh, this is what they meant.” For instance, there would be something Ryan and I wanted to do at 1pm but that would mean dragging the kids away from the pool at noon to get them back to the room, get them dressed, and drop them off at Adventure Ocean. It just wasn’t worth it. That’s not to say we didn’t enjoy hanging out with them – we did. There were just a handful of times that we thought, okay, it would be really nice to take a cruise as a couple sometime too.

We had 5:30 dinner every night and Monday was a “formal” night. This was something I really stressed over in terms of getting ready for the trip. I worried over what to buy and what to pack – and did WAY too much of both. I was afraid people would give us dirty looks if the boys weren’t wearing suit jackets etc. We don’t have jobs or lifestyles where we have to dress up so this is totally our of our element as a family. Of course I had some dresses, but the guys had little to nothing to wear before I went out on a mad spree two weeks before the trip. Ultimately, we didn’t go too over the top and I was happy. We could have packed way less but there were men at formal dinners wearing everything from polo shirts with slacks to full-blown tuxedos. The boys thought they were pretty fancy and handsome…however they had no desire to get dressed up like that again.

Apparently I didn’t take any photos at the pool that day. I can’t say enough good things about the Adventure Ocean program. Every night after dinner, we dropped them off there for about 3 hours so we could catch a show, have a drink in the hot tub, or just try to figure out excursions for the next day (big mistake not booking in advance). They absolutely loved going. They met friends who they would then play with at the pool the next day. The kids’ club provided them with entertainment, physical games, crafts, and so much more. It was great for all of us.

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Leonardo’s Dining room – such a big part of my memories of our family time on the cruise ship!

img_2242We all enjoyed the towel animals that greeted us when we returned to the room after dinner every night.

Day 4: Tuesday, October 11th. Tuesday was our first port of call and we docked at Labadee, Haiti. With Hurricane Matthew making a direct hit on Haiti just one week earlier, I wasn’t sure if we would still be going there but there was never an update to our itinerary. Turns out Labadee is a small section of the island on the northern coast that is privately leased to Royal Caribbean in an area that was not directly affected by the storm.

Monday night while the boys were at Adventure Ocean, we spent some time trying to figure out our shore excursion for Labadee but we couldn’t decide what to do. Unfortunately, the excursion we’d hoped to do had an age limit of 5+ but a height limit of 48″+ and little Dexter just isn’t there yet. We ended up having no plan and decided to wing it the morning of. WELLLL let’s just say it turned out to be a good thing because somehow, somewhere, this gal lost 3 of our 4 Seapass cards. We were in the gangway when I went to get them out and they weren’t in the pocket in our bag where I thought I put them. After about 45 minutes of sheer panic, I went to guest services like a puppy with his tail between his legs and told them I lost 3 of our cards. The dude definitely seemed annoyed but within 5 minutes we had new cards and were on our way off the ship.

I was stressed, I’d been lugging 2 bags and dragging my now-grouchy kids all over the ship looking for those dumb cards, and I was ready to relax. We went up to a golf cart and said something along these lines: “please take us to a cabana that we can rent so that we will have a place to sit all this crap down and start enjoying our day.”

Had we taken 10 minutes to check out Labadee, we would have discovered that we could have hung out on the beautiful beach (beach chairs provided) for free. However, we did enjoy our cabana, the beach, the floating beach mats, the cocktails, and the private buffet. I have to admit, I kept thinking about the locals. The people that were serving us fruity drinks and food and cleaning up after us faster than we could clean up after ourselves. I felt like a jerk. I felt like a stupid spoiled American for being there on this beautiful little piece of their island that was in utter ruins on the other side of the mountain. People died…probably family members and friends of the people who were serving us. People lost their homes. We were crabby because we were inconvenienced by misplacing cards and hauling around heavy bags full of cameras, sunscreen, and beach towels in the Caribbean heat. Yeah…jerks.

Despite being a loser (of SeaPass cards) and my guilty conscience about being a privileged American, we had a great time. It was gorgeous. I was not expecting to be as impressed as I was but we loved it there. I wish we could have stayed longer and explored the area a bit more.



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We were back on the Freedom for a 330pm departure from Haiti so we got ready for dinner and then rushed the boys to Adventure Ocean because they didn’t want to miss out on the “Pirate Parade”. Those brave childcare staff took all the kids down to the Royal Promenade to sing pirate songs and dance pirate dances. I was impressed at how organized it was and how well all the kids did – you would have thought they’d been practicing for a week. It was kind of adorable how excited they were and then multiply that times one hundred when they realized we were there, watching the parade!


Better believe I rushed down to the gift shop and bought some lanyards after getting our SeaPass cards replaced!



We went to bed happy, ready for a big day in Jamaica on Wednesday.



Dexter’s FIFTH birthday celebration

Dexter had a busy and exciting birthday celebration. It started on his birthday, Friday the 13th, with a celebration at his Montessori school. My mom was able to come from Tennessee to celebrate, which meant a whole lot to all of us. A special time made even more special by the presence of special people.

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I made blueberry muffins for the 9:30am celebration and we enjoyed watching Dexter get to go through all of the steps of the Montessori birthday tradition.

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Ryan’s parents were able to come to Dexter’s school celebration – what a lucky little boy to be surrounded by people who love him on his big day.

After school, he opened his presents (in a rush) before we headed over to his Ninja Gym class.

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Saturday May 14th: We were right back over at the gym for his party. He begged and begged to have his party at the gymnastics facility, like Theo did for his 5th birthday party. The big difference this time, was that the boys are actually taking classes there and their coach was able to facilitate the party. It meant a lot to Dexter.party 005 Party 006 Party 007 party 008

They absolutely love Coach Mike. And I gotta say … he is AWESOME with the kids. I feel lucky for them. He’s a great role model and influence. party 009 party 010 party 011 party 012 party 013

After the party we had more fun at home with family and went out to dinner. party 014

Dexter’s aunt, uncle, and cousin were here too but I guess I failed to get pictures of everyone. 🙁 Whoops.  My camera died at the party so I was partially relying on my cell phone and partly not caring about taking pictures; just trying to live in the moment.

It was sad to see everyone go on Sunday afternoon. My heart was full of love and happiness after a weekend surrounded by friends and family. party 015

Monday Dexter had his 5 year check up and we didn’t learn anything we didn’t already know (Dexter is healthy and smart and doing just great) other than our pediatrician dropping the bomb on us that he is moving to Boston at the end of the year. So, if the boys stay healthy for another six months, we might never see him again. We’ve been with him since the boys were newborns and it’s sad to think about him moving on. party 016

I have so many blogs in the back of my mind, like the end of school stuff and just general updates on life but who knows if I’ll ever get around to posting them.

until then –


Theo’s 6th birthday festivities

Before too much time gets away from me, I wanted to post some pictures and memories of Theo’s 6th birthday celebration(s). I love this kid and I’m so proud of the person he already is and who he’s becoming. He still surprises me every day by saying something I did not expect to hear out of his little mouth.

Tuesday, March 8th: Ryan and I were both able to join Theo at school and eat lunch with him. Sadly, I didn’t realize my camera was on manual focus when it was in manual mode – such a chaotic setting to try and take pictures. Anyway…this would have been decent if it was in focus. 🙁


Theo loves it when we come to lunch at his school. He loves taking us through the lunch line, showing us where everything is, telling us what we’re allowed to get, where to sit, etc. I love it too. It’s fun to see him in this setting where he spends so much time and has developed so much comfort and confidence in his own abilities.IMG_9871

Checking the mail – he got a card and $ from my grandma, which he loved of course!IMG_9872

The first thing Theo said to me when he got in the car was that it was the BEST BIRTHDAY EVER because while he was working on his afternoon writing, something in his mouth felt weird so he touched his tooth AND IT FELL OUT! haha…he got to go to the nurse and get this super cool tooth necklace. He lost his second tooth on his 6th birthday! I keep meaning to post about our first tooth loss/tooth fairy experience but surprise, I haven’t gotten to it yet. Anyway – he was thrilled. IMG_9877 IMG_9884

For his birthday, we had a little TACO Tuesday dinner with some of our friends and Ryan’s parents. Dirt pudding with worms for dessert! We got him Disney Infinity and it has been a big hit.IMG_9907 20160308_184604 (1)IMG_9924

Saturday, March 12th: My sister-in-law, her husband, and our nephew rolled into town and bombarded Theo with even more gifts.IMG_9932 IMG_9945

Sunday, March 13th: The day Theo had really been waiting for…his birthday party! We rented the party room at the theater and had 19 people (including the 4 of us-it was about half kids/half parents) watch Zootopia. First of all, we loved the movie! It was brilliant. Second, I was shocked at how good all the little kids were – we even had a couple of 3 year olds and a barely 4 year old there and they were all so well behaved. No one even had to get up to go to the bathroom. Afterwards we had the party room for an hour.IMG_9950 IMG_9955

In the little favor bags, I included Zootopia coloring sheets, a mini bag of microwaveable popcorn, a cute little paper popcorn container I found at Party City, and a Fruit by the Foot. We just went with a movie theme since the party was planned a month and a half before Zootopia was showing in theaters. I enjoyed the movie theme for something a little different (and NOT a character!). IMG_9960 IMG_9961 IMG_9970 IMG_9982 IMG_9991

Another year is in the books – I can’t believe this time next year he’ll be SEVEN! That sounds so old. He’ll probably only have about 3 baby teeth left, be as tall as me, and be reading Hardy Boys. Okay…maybe that’s a stretch.