Thursday, July 6, 2017

Express Lane 7/5/17

Haven't had any appointments in two days -- it's a miracle! Got more quiet alone time!

Express Lane 7/4/17

Billy called wanting to come home. Actually had decent communication with ex. Had the house to myself for a while!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Express Lane 7/3/17

Started physical therapy. Gave up my evening ALONE to eat BBQ with teens, walk half a mile to watch fireworks.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Express Lane 7/2/17

Sent Billy to his dad's for two weeks. Hunted and hid rocks for our "rock group." Kimberly's 15th birthday!

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Express Lane 7/1/17

Celebrated Kimberly's birthday and she went home with the grandmas for a week.  Figuring out new cell phones.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

The Misadventures of Robin

So, today is not a day for an Express Lane blog post. There's no way to convey a day like today in twenty words or less.

I knew today wouldn't be a PLEASANT day because first thing, I had a GYN appointment. I know no one likes those, but I've had some particularly bad experiences that have kept me out of *those* places for a long time. 

So, my GPS on my phone was trying to get me to go past the office and make a u-turn to go back to it. I ignored it and turned in the parking lot and looked for a nonexistent parking spot while the GPS continued to squawk about leaving the parking lot to go a different way. The doctors' building is attached to a hospital that has free valet parking so I thought I'd let someone else park it for me. I stood by the valet podium for a few minutes but never saw a valet. I was going to be late, so I decided to park across the street at another doctors' building and walk over. When I parked, the GPS was still whining, so I was shutting it up, juggling my keys (I'd taken the fob off, intending to hand it to the valet), grabbing my purse, and locking the door so I could hurry across the soggy just-watered grass and across the street. I took the elevator to the 4th floor and checked in. When I sat down in the waiting room, I looked for my phone. I couldn't find it. I dug through my purse, but no luck. I left it in the car. I must have. But a bit of panic set in that grew as the time in the waiting room stretched on. I watched the end of one DIY show and a whole other one. I was getting more agitated as I waited, wondering if my family was trying to call or text me. What did we ever do without cell phones? I was hesitant to even make a follow-up appointment without my "brain" to show me my calendar.

I hurried out to the car and the phone wasn't there. I dumped my purse out in the seat. The anxiety was very real. It wasn't so much the PHONE but the LOSING it that had me nearly in tears. I've always been forgetful but it's gotten so much worse lately. I can't focus. I've been reading and taking self-assessments and I'm sure I have ADD. This was just one more example of how much I struggle and it was humiliating. I went back to the doctor's office and asked the receptionists. They called it for me and dialed my husband so I could ask him to look at our family GPS tracker. He said it was showing that it was still right there. I checked the sofa cushions in the waiting room. There's no central desk in that building that someone might turn it in to, but I stopped in the first office when you come in the door, but they hadn't seen it. Someone suggested asking at the hospital's front desk, so I walked over there and was sent to the ER to check with security. Security was on a call, so I waited, very agitated, for a while. I decided to go check at the other doctor building in the parking lot where I parked, so I walked back over there, checked under my van, then drove to the building's main doors. It was the same setup, with no main desk. There's a pharmacy, though, so I asked in there. They took my name and my husband's number and a description in case it was turned in. I drove back to the ER and met the security guard as he was coming back. He even radioed the pediatric ER to check with their security. He also took my name, number, and description and said they sometimes get turned in at the end of the day. That made sense because no central desk might mean someone would have turned it in to the receptionist at any of the offices they were visiting. I couldn't imagine stopping in every office of two four-story buildings. I was exhausted so I reluctantly went home. Maybe someone had answered when my husband called it and he knew where it was. Only one way to find out.

As I walked in the door, my husband said, "It's gone. Someone stole it." The tracker had showed it moving and he thought maybe I had it so he called. After multiple calls with no answer, the phone was shut off. The last location was going a different way than I was going. I felt awful. My son was upset about his Pokemon Go game but he saw I was upset and tried to comfort me instead. I got on my laptop and started changing passwords on anything I thought could be accessed. My phone has a pass protection home screen but eventually someone could hack that. I remote locked the phone through Google and sent a message to my phone, invoking my autistic son in the plea, in the hopes that the thief had a heart.

My husband and I had therapy 30 minutes away from home in the afternoon, but on the way there, my stomach cramped up and I had to visit the bathroom. While I was in there, my husband found out our therapist had gone home sick and they'd tried to call my cell phone. Touché, phone thief.

We looked at new phones and started to make an insurance claim but that was a joke. We've paid for insurance for two and a half years but to replace it is a $200 deductible. On an old phone. (Who even wanted my phone? There's been two upgrades since mine and the screen is broken. I was in the wealthy area of town--why the heck would anyone want my stupid phone???  Besides ME!) I checked eBay and Amazon and found new phones the same version as mine for $180. That insurance is worthless!

I was about to head out to get dinner and checked my Google tracker and saw the phone was back on and it was showing location near a lake South of us. My husband tried to call it a few more times with no luck. I wanted to go out there. I was fully mad at this point. It didn't take much convincing to get my husband to come. I took my laptop so I could trigger Google to ring the phone so we could hear it. I pictured people hanging around the lake and the phone ringing in someone's pocket and a confrontation ensuing. I grabbed a thick wood stick, just in case. My husband brought a "just in case" too. Only his was a handgun. He was worried the thief would have a weapon.  He said that this is who I am, the kind of person to go charging after someone, but that it was potentially dangerous and he was worried.  He didn't try to talk me out of it though!

My adrenaline was pumping as we headed to the lake. I could hear badass theme music playing in my mind. Mama bear was ready to charge.  Maybe the mamas will get this--we were watching Bolt last night and I felt like Rhino (he's my favorite!). We got near where the signal showed and it was behind a building in the woods. I hopped out and grabbed my stick (it was more like a pole). I charged into the woods, but about halfway in, my adrenaline failed me. The brush was thick and thigh high. I was stepping on top of the brush and below it, I could feel branches and it was very unsteady. I came to a small stream which my son could have easily jumped, but I'm 40 and have a ruptured disk. In the middle of the stream, there was a pipe, so I steadied myself with the pole, put one foot on the pipe, grabbed a branch on the other side, and stepped over. It was so muddy because of all the rain we've had and there were lots of thorns catching me. I was praying that there were no snakes, spiders, or poison ivy. I heard a noise and saw movement up ahead so I stopped to watch and listen but I decided it was probably a deer. I fell at one point and was glad I brought the stick or I might not have had the strength to get back up. The brush became so thick, it was impassable and I couldn't see a break. I moved laterally, hoping to find an opening, but there was no way. I decided I had to turn back. But, the path back from where I ended up crossed TWO small creeks and had so many thorns! I hadn't dressed for a hike. I had on my slip on shoes (athletic type, not flip flops) and capris pants. I was muddy and my ankles and legs were getting scraped up. I was picking barbed thorns out of my hands and laying my stick across thick thorns to try to walk over them instead of through. When I finally got back to the road, I was panting. I haven't exerted myself this much in a long time. My lungs still burn. I came around some trees and my husband and the van were gone. I walked back to the driveway by the little building and waited and pretty soon he pulled up.

He had heard the commotion in the woods and then the tracker started to move.  He thought I had flushed someone out.  There was a little gated road down the way a bit that was locked or we'd have gone in that way.  He thought  they were coming out there, according to the tracker, so he headed after them.  He couldn't see anyone though, so he came back to get me.  We picked up the signal in the middle of a field, but we couldn't see anything.  Then it jumped to the next field over so we kept going.  We drove down a twisty driveway and disturbed deer, but saw no people.  The signal jumped again and showed the phone was north of us, so we headed through this nice neighborhood.  I got out again and walked down a trail that should have given me a clear view of whoever had the phone, but I saw nothing.  We went at it a different direction but we still saw nothing.  We stopped and talked to a park ranger who was interested and seemed to think the whole thing was pretty cool.  I was not amused.  Give us a hand, Barney Fife! The signal had stayed stationary so we wondered if it had been ditched.  Then it jumped around again and ended  up back at the same place we started!  Ugh!  We had driven around for about two hours.  We had originally suspected it might be some kids, so I tried sending messages to the phone that we were tracking them and that we didn't have to get the police involved--we just wanted the phone back.  I even said they could leave it somewhere and just let us know where they left it.  No response. The battery was at 11%, so I finally made the decision to remotely wipe it and send it back to factory settings.  Then we headed to get Kimberly's birthday dinner and home.

We had thought that whoever had it must be on bikes or dirt bikes, moving through the fields and trees like that.  But, my husband now thinks it might have been a boat.  Even though the pin was in the woods, the radius was large, so it's possible they could have been on the lake.

I came home and cleaned up my scratches.  Then I found a tick on my knee!  I forgot to add ticks to my "no critter prayer."  Then I felt one crawling down my arm.  I took a long hot bath and then we found another one on my back! I've got itchy bites and my skin is just irritated but more than 24 hours later, we found 3 more ticks on the back of my thigh. Where did they come from? I hope there are no more! I am so sore and tired. Remind me that I'm 40 and shouldn't do crap like that! Wait, nevermind. My kids kept reminding me that I'm too old and I am not all big and bad. Then Arrena refused to go to the basement because there's a mouse down there. Mmmmhmmmm. But we won't talk about that. 

It was an adventure for sure, but we upgraded to new cell phones. I have a new high - tech brain! I definitely didn't want to have to pay more and I hate changing phones because I get used to the way I have things, but at least I don't have a cracked screen anymore so the jerk thieves can keep the broken, factory reset, decommissioned phone. 

Friday, June 30, 2017

Express Lane 6/29/17

Moms are here for Kimberly's birthday. Quote du jour when Billy punched Arrena for messing with him: "it was acid reflex!"

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Express Lane Hump Day

Ex wanted to send a stranger to pick up Billy. "No" set off name-calling, threats, Arrena's texting fingers of fury.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Express lane Tuesday

My therapy day. Realized I'm paying her to listen to me talk for an hour. Need to work on that.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Express lane sunday

Newsflash: mom gets sick and the kids lose their minds. Wait, you've heard that one before?

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Express lane Saturday

Arrena had an interview for a babysitting job and then I took the kids garage-saling

Express Lane Friday

No appointments, but much tired and much headache. I created a Minecraft monster (Scott). Trampoline broken. Arrena's having a sleepover.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Express Lane Thursday

Somber and disconsolate therapy with a side of musical theatre in the park. Overall, a well-rounded day.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Express Lane Wednesday

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Express Lane

I know I haven't posted in a long time and my posts have been few and far between.  Maybe one of these days I'll have gads of spare time and will update you on my life.  I have no idea who even keeps up with my blog besides my husband, my mom, and my mother-in-law.  Hey, y'all.  Anyway, I had the idea to do a new blog series that hopefully I can keep up with (fingers crossed).  I'm calling it "express blog".  You know how you go to the grocery store and get in the express lane that says "20 items or less"?  This is the premise I am going to use.  My express blog posts will be 20 words or less.  Maybe I should start a Twitter account, though I swore I never would.  I will likely throw in a few longer posts if the muses demand.  Maybe this concept will help me get in a routine of writing daily.

For example, today's express blog might go something like this:

I couldn't handle the crazy meltdown, so Billy went to respite at the residential treatment center.

Maybe in the future they will be funny or pithy, but not quite feeling it today.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Celebrating Grandparents' Day with No Grandparents

Since today is grandparents' day and i just lost my grandmother, I wanted to take a minute and post about her.  This will probably be long, I am sorry, so you can scroll on if you like.  

It seems like the more funerals I go to, the harder they become.  Is it because the older I get, the closer I am to the people I lose?  Is it because I have less people that I love left?  My uncle might say that it's because it reminds me of my own mortality.  I think it's because as the scales are tipped, as more people I love wait for me in heaven than are left here on earth, I get homesick.  It's because it's harder to brave this wretched world without those people in your corner.  My grandmother's preacher talked about my grandma being a prayer warrior and it struck me that I lost one more person that advocated for me in prayer.  

My grandparents were my ideals.  My grandpa was the greatest man I ever knew and I want my son to grow up to be like him.  My grandma was the greatest woman I ever knew and I want to be like her when I grow up.  I am not saying they were perfect--I know better.  My grandpa was strong, but funny and ornery.  He had huge hands that built houses, but could cradle my babies with pride and softness.  My grandma was really the only babysitter I ever knew as a kid.  We played dress up and she gave us big spoons to dig in the yard and she sang songs to us, putting our names into them.  She was funny and strong and ornery too.  Once when my brother was little and throwing a fit, she threw herself down on the couch and had herself a fit.  My brother stopped and stared, probably wondering what in the world happened when adults lost it because he'd never seen such a thing before.  Grandma said later that she had to pick herself up before she lost control.  She added that she knew why kids threw fits--it felt good!  Five years ago, when she had breast cancer, she opted for a mastectomy because she didn't have time for chemo or radiation because she was taking care of my papa, who was in the late stages of Parkinson's.  She came home from surgery and got busy doing laundry, kicking it down the hall, and swearing when the kids protested, that she wasn't lifting anything.  She broke her wrist about two years ago, falling in the parking lot of the store.  She did her shopping, including lifting a heavy bag of cat litter or cat food, and drove to my mom's house.  She saw mom was busy doing laundry and said they could just go to the doctor "next week."  She ended up needing a steel plate and screws to put her wrist back together.  And even with a diagnosis of stage 4 pancreatic cancer, she still had her sense of humor.  A nurse was asking her routine questions before a surgical procedure and asked my 88-year-old grandma if she could possibly be pregnant.  Grandma had several liters of fluid built up in her abdominal cavity and she certainly looked very pregnant.  Grandma rubbed her belly and said, "Oh yes, I am due with twins any moment now!  I'm going to get my name in the papers!"  Everyone in the room burst out laughing.  

She rapidly declined and rather than the guess of 3 months the doctor tentatively gave her, it took only 3 weeks and her pain was over and ours began.  Four years and 22 days after we lost Pops, grandma joined him.  I've tried to quantify why I have taken this so hard.  The only thing I can coherently bring together is that I feel lost.  My mom is the only parentage I have left.  No grandparents, no great-grandparents, not even my dad.  We have a 5 generation picture up on the wall in our living room, taken 15 years ago when Arrena was a baby.  In 15 years, we are down to 3 generations.  If I feel that way, I have no doubt that my mom feels even more lost than I do, since she is now the matriarch of our little family.  Have you ever seen the Facebook meme about looking around for an adult and realizing you're it, so you start looking around for someone adult-ier?  My mom no longer has anyone "adult-ier."  She moved a block away from my grandma when Pops died so they could take care of each other (because grandma was a natural caregiver and needed to do that) and much of her life revolved around her mom.  And yet, she seems to be holding up better now than she did before grandma died.  It was the anticipation, she said.  However, I was stoic before and now I am grieving.  

But, we don't grieve as those who have no hope.  When I say I have hope, it's not in the "wish" sense of the word, it is in the assurance as strong as I know that I am breathing and my fingers are typing this.  My grandmother and my grandfather and my dad and others are this minute in heaven with Jesus.  Not because they "believed" there is a God.  Not because they attended church.  Not because they were good people.  Not because they followed some list of rules.  Not because they prayed some "magic prayer" that gave them hell insurance.  Not because they were baptized in a river or a chlorine-cleaned baptismal tank and came back up a wet sinner.  They are in heaven today because they had a relationship with Jesus Christ.  They accepted his forgiveness for their sins when he died on the cross in their place and they followed him until he took them home.  They left behind an example and a legacy of what following Jesus looks like.  They loved Jesus and it showed.  They were kind and loving and forgiving and gentle and selfless and humble and joyful.  I love Jesus and I strive to be like him, but I fail sometimes.  My grandparents are an example of a lifetime of learning and becoming more and more like Jesus.  

I will see them again.  No maybes or wishful thinking or delusions or mindlessly following the masses or positive thinking or "if I'm good enough" or fairy tales or whatever people like to say to excuse our Christian beliefs.  I KNOW.  I am SURE.  I am GUARANTEED.  I stake my life and the lives of my family and my children on this.  THAT is how serious and sure I really am.  My grieving for my grandmother is temporary and selfish because I miss her NOW.  Because I want to be where she is.  I am world weary.  The problems of life physically cause me pain.  And one less person to help me walk through this life breaks my heart.  

I was reading a Max Lucado book and he was writing about Lazarus.  Many people have speculated as to WHY Jesus wept when Lazarus died.  The passage in the book talked about people being in a cage of fear of death.  They had seen Jesus heal people and raise others from the dead, but apparently it wasn't enough for them to believe fully yet.  He related a story of a missionary who went to a remote tribe that was suffering from disease.  All they had to do was cross a river to get to a place that had medicine to heal them.  But, they believed there were evil spirits in the river and they would rather die of the disease than to go near the water.  The missionary told them he had crossed the river to get to them.  They wouldn't get in.  He got in and splashed around and they still wouldn't get in.  Finally, he dove into the river and swam across to the other side and stood on the bank, waving to the tribe, who cheered and then followed him across.  We have a savior who dove into the river of death and swam to the other side and came out alive to show us that we didn't have to be afraid of death--he has conquered death.  Therefore, I don't fear death for me or my loved ones who follow Jesus.  

I asked grandma to give Pops and my dad a hug for me when she got there and I told her I'd meet her there.  I will see them again.  I hope you all, as my friends, will be there too because I have some amazing grandparents that I'd like to introduce you to!  But, first, I want to see my Jesus.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Neighbor Drama

I think we are the most hated people on the block. Seriously. Even more than the red rental house whose occupants have included a creepy guy who strolled around chatting with neighbors and you couldn't get rid of him to save your life, a ghetto-looking family who sat on their front porch to have loud cell phone conversations and let their yappy anklebiter dogs roam the neighborhood and crap in everyone else's yard, or the current residents: young, sketchy-looking guys that play music too loud and speed loud motorcycles up and down the street and that my daughter swears she saw making a drug deal one night.

I'm not overly outgoing. One of my best friends was truly friends with all her neighbors and had them over frequently. I'm not really that type. Hospitality has never been my strong suit. However, we chat with several of our neighbors when we see them, wave at them often, my son plays across the street with the neighbors' grandkids, and I've taken Christmas goodies to several of the neighbors. I even do something gluten-free for the elderly couple next door because i know he has celiac's disease. She's always very nice and friendly to all of us. Her husband has never spoken to us, however, and won't even look our way so we can wave. My son likes to give her May baskets and they've given him little gifts and yummies. The neighbors on the other side are close to our age and are a blended family, as well. He did us a favor, helping with a fence, and in exchange, I said I'd do a free family portrait session for them. That was at least two years ago--I reminded them a couple of times and then let it go. She called me once to ask if I would be willing to babysit their new baby when she went back to work, but she ended up finding someone else before I'd had time to think about it.

A couple of summers back, our basement flooded 5 or 6 times between a clogged sump pump, a broken sump pump, 24 hours without power after a storm, and then just leaking through cracks in the foundation. We lost a lot of belongings. My pictures were stored down there and many were ruined. I lost a couple of bags of clothes and about 75% of my scrapbook paper and lots of keepsakes. I had old books, some nearly 100 years old, that had to be thrown out. The kids lost some toys and dress up clothes. We were hauling things upstairs and laying out blankets and stuffed animals to dry in the back yard. We brought up furniture and bags of ruined items to go to the trash. The clean up was slow since we kept having reoccurrences and life moves on whether you have a disaster or not.  We got a notice from the city that we were in violation of city code, that we couldn't store things outside. One of the neighbor's had complained. We suspected it was the elderly couple because they were the only ones that had a good view of the debris. Thanks for kicking us while we are down. Incidentally, a few months ago, their basement flooded (sewer line issues) and their yard had to be bulldozed and the dirt was dumped in our side yard. The foreman came to the door to make sure it was ok. Rather than being spiteful, I said I understood completely seeing how our basement had flooded multiple times the year before.

My daughters ride the bus with the other neighbors' sons and they were telling us how the boys tell them how their dad criticizes how often we mow our lawn all the time. This from the guy who mows at 8-9pm at night outside my kids' windows when they're going to bed or plays music in the garage by their windows late or whose dogs stand 3 feet from our bedroom window and bark incessantly.

Last week, my husband got a new lawn tractor and mowed for the first time this season. Just learning the new mower, he accidentally sprayed some grass into the elderly neighbors' yard. He apologized to the lady but she started complaining about our dandelions and how it's our fault they have a few dandelions in their yard and that we have the worst yard on the block. My husband has seeded multiple times but the grass is horrible. I used to spray the dandelions but they got too out of hand for spot treating. Between not having the money for unimportant things like grass and not having the time between karate, drama, orchestra, volleyball, scholar bowl, church, babysitting, etc. and having major family issues like court custody battles and my son being hospitalized twice, the lawn is the last thing on my list of priorities. If it bothers the neighbors so much, they can pay for weed and seed and do it themselves. I don't have the time nor do I care about something as insignificant as the grass. Walk a mile in my shoes, then complain. My husband spoke to a lawn company about spraying and reseeding now that he sold the family farm. Maybe then they will be happy.  But, probably not.

Today we were supposed to have our driveway widened. The concrete guys came out and started digging and setting up forms. But "a neighbor" called the city and they came out and demanded a building permit so the guys had to stop and go down to city hall. It took so much time, they couldn't pour the concrete today. But at least the permit is posted now. And whoever complained gets to deal with the mess another day, including a pile of rocks in the street, which I'm surprised they haven't called the police about yet.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Cruise Log Part 6: Look What the Tide Brought in!

Wednesday the 10th we arrived in St. Thomas.  We also went to Charlotte Amalie in St. Thomas on our last cruise.  I love the view from the balcony of the island and all these little sailboats moored and dotting the bay.  It's so picturesque.  Our excursion for the day was to go to Magen's Bay Beach.  Supposedly it is one of the top 10 beaches in the world.  It was very pretty and very fun.  We had an open air bus to take us there.  We were first taken to a scenic overlook where we could see the beach from above and it was beautiful!  There was a lady there with a donkey, that seems to be a famous fixture there because I saw a lot of postcards with that donkey on it, wearing a hat and flowers.  There were also locals selling bottled water because it's more expensive on the beach.

When we got down to Magen's Bay, Scott went to change (I had worn my swimsuit and just put a sarong and a t-shirt on over it) and I went in search of beach chairs to rent.  We set up our chairs and went out into the water.  I had my waterproof camera strapped to my wrist.  It was a beautiful day with blue skies and fluffy white clouds.  The waves were awesome.  It was like being in a wave pool.  If you stayed pretty close to shore, you were really tossed around.  There were teen boys laying on the sand and waiting for the surf to come up and then it would suck them back into the water.  I made the mistake of hanging around in that depth, looking for seashells and got tossed around so much, I had sand all in my swimsuit.  I went out in the water a little farther out to mask what I was doing and pulled my swimsuit away from my body, hoping to wash all of the sand out of it (it didn't work, apparently.  When we got back to our cabin and I peeled off my swimsuit, I was caked with sand).  I was enjoying floating on the water and feeling the waves push and pull me.  I could spend a whole week at that beach.  Or live there!  So peaceful and relaxing.  I finally figured out that there was a little "shelf" near the shore.  It was really fun to let the surf carry you towards the beach, but if you had your legs drawn up, you could brace your feet against that shelf and not be swept along the sand (which is quite abrasive).  Then when the wave went back out, you'd be sucked out again.  I did this back and forth over and over for a while.  I may be easily entertained, but all I wanted for this trip was to relax and de-stress and this was the best of any of it, just floating along with the waves.

When the tour bus was ready to take us back to the dock, we decided to do some shopping.  We have been through some of the shops in St. Thomas before, so we knew the street where most of the major shops were and also the markets near the pier.  Shopping is a big deal in St. Thomas because it's duty free.  They hand out all kinds of coupons and free offers, especially for jewelry.  Next time I go, instead of wasting all kinds of money on the spa, I'll save it for jewelry shopping.  I really love the Tanzanite and the Ammolite and colored opals.  The sales people are a little pushy.  They stand on the sidewalk in front of their shops and try to convince you to go in, even offering you free stuff and nearly pushing you in the door.  One guy seemed very helpful, telling us the layout: this way is food, this way for clothing, that way for jewelry, etc.  But, then he urged us to come in his shop.  One place that I like to go into is Mr. Tablecloth.  They have tons of linens.  Last time, I bought a jacket there.  This time, I got large and small white lacy parasols.  I think they would be adorable in my photography!  Can you imagine a mother/daughter picture?  In the back of the store, there is a small drugstore and we have visited there both times to pick up necessities and a few souvenirs.

After we got back on the ship and showered, we went to La Cucina for dinner, which is the Italian restaurant on-board.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Cruise Log Part 5: Land Ho!

Tuesday, the 9th, we arrived in St. Maarten (or St. Martin, depending on what your nationality is).  We had booked a catamaran sail, but when we checked the tickets that were delivered to our room, we saw that there was a weight restriction.  When we booked our excursion, we specifically looked at restrictions and there was no mention of a weight restriction.  We looked at several sailing excursions and some did give restrictions, but this one didn't which was why we'd booked it.  It also included going to a cove for swimming.  We went down to the excursion desk the night before and they said they'd look into it, but when we went down that morning, they said that it was a liability thing and they couldn't override it and neither could the catamaran captain.  So, they refunded us the price of the tickets.  That left us with one excursion for the day which was a tour of both the French and Dutch sides of the island.

We got on an air conditioned tour bus, but apparently I chose the wrong side of the bus.  Since it was driving around an island, it depended on which direction the driver went--if he went counter-clockwise, it was best to be on the left of the bus and if he went clockwise, it was best on the right.  I chose the right side and chose wrong--he went counter-clockwise.  So, most of the attractions were on the left side of the bus, and we were trying to see them between people's heads and through the windows.  Taking pictures was virtually out of the question.  It was a really neat island though.  So small, yet holding two different countries.  And there's no border crossing, just a sign marking the border.  The island's economy is completely tourist based--they don't produce anything there.

The old French fort
The bus stopped near a shopping district and some open air booths and we went through the open market, buying souvenirs.  I got a beautiful blue quilted bag, with a few bursts of other bright colors that said "St. Maarten/Martin" on it.  It included an attached accessories bag, a scrunchie, and a sarong/scarf that all matched.  In these markets, bargaining is part of the process.  Other islands are different, but St. Maarten was definitely one where you could negotiate prices.  We bought magnets at all of our stops, since we started being religious about that during our summer trip, though we had been buying magnets along the way all along.  I was looking for items for the kids and the grandmas.  I found little bottles of sand and I contemplated buying that because I kicked myself after the last cruise.  I wish I had started collecting bottles of sand from each beach we visited.  Even if I bought my own vials and painted the name on it or glued seashells to it, but I have never done it and now I have missed out on Dominican Republic, St. Thomas, Tortola, Bahamas, Miami, and Atlantic City.  I saw a cute hand-painted ukulele that I wanted to get for Billy, but I found that most shops carried the exact same things and I walked on.  I ended up finding a shop that had awesome Dr. Suess-inspired t-shirts, such as "Brat 1" and "Brat 2" or "Monster 1".  I was going to get those for the kids, but decided instead to get "Sis 1", "Sis 2", and "Bro 3" with St. Maarten screen printed on the bottom.  I was getting tired and didn't haggle as well as I had been.  And we didn't make it back to the open air market to find the ukulele I had wanted.  I figured they might have them at some of the other islands, but I never saw another one.  I am kicking myself for not getting it when I saw it!

We found a place called "That Yoda guy movie museum" so Scott had to stop there.  I'm not a Star Wars fan or aficionada, but it seems that the creator of Yoda has a museum there with Star Wars stuff, including some Yoda figures.

We stopped at a little cafe to sit and drink a Coke and use their free wifi for a bit to communicate for a bit with our family.  Then we got back on the bus and went back to the port and onto the ship.  We spent a little time at the pool and I went down one of the 4 slides.  But, then nature called and I went back to our room.

We took a nap and when I got up, I put on the most brightly colored clothes that I had brought and went down for the second "Thriller" class.  We had dinner in one of the general dining rooms, called "Taste".  As near as I can tell, those two dining rooms right across from each other have the same food, just different atmosphere.  I think the third dining room might be the same, but it's larger and has a stage for live performances.

After dinner, we went upstairs to the upper deck where the 80's party was going to take place.  Probably the most fun I have had in a long time.  I love the music because it's my generation.  They had fireworks over the ship.  When it came time for the flash mob to do "Thriller," the problem was that the "stage"/dancing area was not raised up--it's just part of the floor, only made out of different material so you can see where it is.  We were told that if we got lost, the cruise directors would be in front of us and to just watch them.  However, when we rushed to the "stage", there were still other people there and we couldn't see the cruise directors at all.  And since the other people didn't take the class or apparently learn the dance somewhere along the way, they weren't quite doing the choreographed moves that we had rehearsed.  And there was a photographer that was trying to get pictures, and she focused on me but every time she would set for the shot, I would need to turn.  So, finally after several attempts, she asked me if I could just pause for a second, so I froze in the classic claws in the air stance and let her take her picture and then I had to hurry up and figure out where we were and catch up.  It could have been better managed geographically, but it was fun, nonetheless.  My husband took a video of the whole thing and I still haven't watched it.  Then the 80s party continued with songs that were near and dear to my formative years and I sang along and chair danced and everything!  It was a blast.  It was also funny watching drunk guys trying to hit on women, especially when they were married.