Monday, May 9, 2011

Cruisin' With Children

For those of you who missed the "whole cruise story" with daily blow-by-blow account, and happen to care for whatever reason, you can check that out here.

But I had to take a moment for my more personal vacation experiences, namely what is was like to be the only family member bringing along next generationers. No matter how much help you are promised, every mom knows a vacation with kids is just not going to be all that relaxing. Sporting a quickly growing midsection did not add any fun to the matter, but heck it was still a cruise!

I had two main goals of the trip:

1) Leave Las Vegas with two and a half children, come back to Las Vegas with two and a half children.

Full success! No one lost overboard, no one eaten during our sea lion adventure, and no one intentionally left anywhere for being incredibly irritating (a few close ones there though...)

2) No sunburns.

Shockingly, another success! Minus Jon (who doesn't really count. His skin looks red for like an hour and then he is just tan, it's super unfair) the rest of us, especially the very pale me, made it through the entire week without a single sunburn. My brothers and sisters did not fare nearly as well and I was incredibly proud of my achievement. This seriously might be the first sunny vacation I have gone on that was not proceeded by several days of skin peeling. Yeah, don't miss that.

In a lot of ways, the trip went more smoothly than I had anticipated... but not in every way. In an attempt to end on a positive note, let's start with the glass half empty version.

This version is titled... my son, Rhode.

I shouldn't blame the kid. He is two. He still likes very long naps. Nobody his age should be forced to sit at a restaurant for dinner at 8:15 every evening (seriously, 8:15. Did someone have it out for me or what?) Plus, both of my kids just had life a little more rough because we had to share a small sleeping space with them, including sharing a bed with roller Rhode. Now, I love my kids but I definitely cherish those few quiet hours between them going to bed and me going to bed, everyone in their own spaces. A whole week of losing that break was rough. But even with those excuses...

Dinner was the hardest time of the day. We even fit in a good sized nap every day but it was just too late for him. He spent most evenings here...

right smack dab on my shrinking lap. After a few nights, I commandeered the table in the back corner. Whenever he had had enough, I just sent him to the corner to lay down and take a little rest. It actually worked most of the time!

Rhode is a pretty good eater and did a decent job of it at meals... but even after letting him order whatever he wanted he usually just decided he wanted to eat whatever I got. He also was incredibly disappointed with every meal that didn't end with ice cream. Breakfast usually had some rough exits.

His lowest moment was our last day on ship when I dropped Scarlet and him off to Camp Carnival for an hour. He had been there at the same time for an hour the day before and had a fantastic time. This time... not so much. Supposedly he cried for almost an hour straight. Jon was just hanging in the room but we had changed rooms the first day so the people in charge kept calling Brads room. Brad went to help but they wouldn't let him check Rhode out... it was a mess. By the time I finally got to him, he was pretty miserable.

I asked Scarlet later what was making him so sad. She couldn't really put her finger on it but felt like it started somewhere around hat making time when his kept falling off his head and really hit its climax when "Freddy" the Carnival mascot paid a visit.

"I don't yike Fweddy," Rhode added in his most serious tone.


Thankfully, Rhode did a little bit better on our off shore outings. Of course, for a kid who can run around my house all day, he sure can't walk very far without whining about it. And with the myriad of gullible aunts and uncles, my not very light two year old spent a lot of time being carried.

Notice the frowns? Turns out he still is not a big fan of the ocean. Not even in the safety of mother's arms would he venture even close to the water's edge.

But, the boy from day one of his little life has always like his lounging time. Whether it was chilling on a beach chair...

or enjoying a towel time with grandma.

Heck, he could even get his digging done without leaving his comfy location.

Even while adventuring in Mexico, when the kid is tired, he is tired. But with some well placed beach towels, we made it work no matter the location.

At the taco place in Cabo
or on the boat to Lover's beach. His eyes finally closed all the way seconds after this picture.

He even fit in a rest on the grassy area at the water park in Puerto Vallarta. Sadly that meant both of us missed out on the dolphin adventure. Supposedly, dolphins can tell if a person is pregnant. Don't know if that meant Dori the dolphin was going to be more or less friendly with me... but it would have been interesting to find out!

And, he didn't miss Pepe!

Now onto the glass half full... aka Scarlet.

Scarlet was a dream child. She was happy, super chatty, had whatever dinner table she was seated with usually rolling with hysterics as she came up with all the crazy things that four year olds say. She loved being with her extended family and thought everything we did was so so so exciting.

I think my favorite part was watching her order dinner every evening.
She insisted on having every item on the menu read to her so she could make her decisions. She got the shrimp cocktail almost every evening and then varied between the pasta dishes, the mahi mahi, and the "steak with A sauce (A-1)". She frequently ordered by herself, especially at dessert. "I want the chocolate melting cake and orange ice cream," was her request every evening. It was hilarious.

It was impossible to escape the live music being blasted around the ship. Scarlet was alway up for busting a move, even entertaining the aunts with a chair dance or two.

My second favorite moments with her were watching her discover the ocean. She really hasn't been a big beach fan up until now. But suddenly, it was like she was born a beach baby. She would pull whatever aunt would follow her down to the shore and hop right in. When I finally saw how brave she was being, the life jacket was secured immediately. She would get straight knocked down by a huge wave and come up just laughing and giggling. I would have to force her to take a break for more sunscreen and a swig or two of water. Then she would trade aunts and head straight back down to the shore.

Though I was very impressed, no one was more thrilled by her newfound water love than her "beach bum at heart" dad.

She was incredibly helpful with her little brother. Helper, discipliner, body guard, sunscreen applier...

She even handled the street vendors with panache. After finding the pink necklace of her heart's desire, she negotiated a half price reduction from the first quoted price. After all, she was running low on birthday money. She has loved her purchase.

Probably one of Scarlet's more frustrating moments, other than a few excited nights when she wasn't entirely sure she was ready for bed, was because of these little creations.

She would race back to our room every evening to see which towel creation had magically appeared in our absence. It was adorable, until she started to get attached to them. Like really attached. She wanted them to sleep in her bed with her, or at the very least be set aside nicely as to keep them safe from her brother's rough handling.

By the way, you can't move a towel animal and have it stay a towel animal no matter how hard you try. This led to probably her only true fits of the trip. It really got to the point where I would race ahead of the group, destroy the towel animal, and claim we just didn't get one those last few nights.

There was one day where my cup was overflowing with happiness and that was our day at the water park in Puerto Vallarta. My kids had a fantastic time and it was so fun to watch.

They had the best kid section. It was huge, but the water never got more than 1-2 feet deep. They played there nonstop.

Grandma took over supervising duties for awhile and, since the water slides weren't really an option for me, I took full advantage of my free time.
And after grandma was fed up with the kiddie pool, she talked Scarlet into taking a little more risk...

And really, no matter how crazy a day goes, how can you not cherish a moment like this?

Even after it all, it was definitely a week I will always remember. And yes, they are young but I think this trip will stick with them too. Thank goodness for a well document blog entry to keep the memories alive!


Katie said...

Looks so fun! Although, your "glass half empty" section has me worried. We are going on a cruise with Chad's family next summer, and Kaden will be just about Rhode's age. Yikes.

Heidi Noel said...

What book are you reading? (Sad that is my first thought, huh?) Now, I want to go on a cruise. I have been scared because I get severe motion sickness.

Dale said...

It looked like you had a lot of fun. I loved they way you put everything. :D Welcome home, we missed you. Can I just say, I'm glad competition season is over. :D

Mindy said...

Ps: That was me. LOL. Dale blogging...when H.E.Double Hockey Sticks freezes over. :D

Peggy Dee said...

Totally enjoyed your blog entry. It will be interesting to see if we ever get to do something like this again in the future or if the future grandchildren will always say, "Why did Rhode and Scarlet get to do it?"

It was so fun and Rhode and Scarlet were so good. If only, they were old enough to sleep with their aunties and uncles it would have been sweet!

Love you, love Jon, love those kids!

Angie Larkin said...

I'd take another cruise for some of that chocolate melting cake. Good! I was confused many a time with the towel animals. Strange hybrids of scorpions and puppy dogs? I could only identify 3 out of the 7. Looks like you guys had a blast!