Saturday, April 20, 2013

Cruise Flashback: 1st Day at Sea

Sunday, February 26th, we awoke suddenly to the phone ringing. It was 6:30am. I freaked out--something's wrong at home! Who else would be calling us--and at this hour? I said, "Uh oh" before answering it. The voice on the other end said, "Your breakfast is ready, may I bring it up?" Oh, sure. Phew...

The cabin had been so dark when we went to bed the night before. We were obviously "rocked and lulled" to sleep because we slept like babies. However, once I was up, I could tell we were no longer on the river and that we were in choppy waters. I went out on the balcony and saw that we were in a little bit of a storm. We later heard from others on lower decks that the waves were cresting at about 20 feet. Whoa!

The boat was really rocking. So much so that I decided to finally put on my "sea patch." Jared had put his on the night before because he didn't want to take any chances. I decided to wait. But Sunday morning did it for me. I don't know if I get seasick or not, but didn't want to find out on the first and very possibly the last cruise we'd be on.

For breakfast, I had cereal, a super thin piece of toast (just slightly thicker than a piece of paper--I didn't know bread could be that thin) and a banana. Jared had granola, fruit and yogurt. And then he got ready for his spinning class up on the 12th or 13th deck. While he did that, I decided to go to the LaScala Theater on deck 3 for the shopping show. I got to sit right up on the front row. I had heard that you feel the rocking of the boat less, the lower you go on the ship. However, the curtain on the stage was swaying back and forth, right about my eye level. That alone made me super dizzy and I had to force myself to look away and not think about it.

Ross was our shopping guide. Most of the presentation was on jewelry and watches and the crazy deals you can get because all of the middle men are eliminated. I didn't realize some people go on cruises JUST for the shopping. That's so crazy to me since shopping is not my thing. Obviously I didn't come to buy jewelry but the fact that I could get pearl earrings and a necklace for $30-$60 was very intriguing. I was also interested in buying some diamond stud earrings because one of my children accidentally lost one of my studs that my parents gave me for my 22nd birthday.

I made out like a bandit while sitting on the front row (the best place to be to catch the prizes tossed into the audience apparently.) I got a bamboo necklace from Cariloha and a t-shirt that is super soft (made from bamboo). It had a pirate skull and skeleton on it. It looked to be the perfect size for Calvin :) I also got some chili chocolate tossed my way (that I later shared with my Sunday School class back home). We were given maps of each port and I did walk away with a better idea of how to navigate the shops for maximized souvenir shopping.

After the show was over, I went back to the room to meet Jared. I went out to the balcony again to check the weather. It was starting to clear up. Yay!


We left to go get tickets to the ice show for Monday but they weren't going to be available until 4:30pm. So we went to the Carmen Room (deck 3 of the dining room) at noon for lunch.

I was feeling off. Not like I was going to throw up or anything. Just off. We had to walk the entire length of the boat to get to the dining room. I walked as if I were drunk. I figured I was probably hungry too, which didn't help my head.

We were seated off to the side, near the window and were joined by another older couple from Wisconsin. He was here for the big poker tournament which I had no clue was even happening on the ship! Apparently people come on cruises JUST for poker tournaments as well.

Jared had a steak sandwich, I had spaghetti and meatballs. Although mine should have been called spaghetti and meat-boulders. The 2 meatballs were the size of my fist! I could only eat half of one. I felt a little better after eating, but felt tired too. Thanks to our vantage point by the window we saw lightning and heard thunder! That was enough to get me to my feet. We excused ourselves from lunch and went to go watch the weather, but the door to go out on the open deck was locked :(

So we went back to our stateroom and napped for a few hours. Divine!! I also had a little guilt about it being Sunday and not attending church, so I studied my next Sunday School lesson I had brought with me.

Jared left at 4:30 to try and secure tickets to the ice show (and he did) while I got ready for our first formal dinner.

We both had the shrimp cocktail and shaved cantaloupe for our appetizer. I had the prime rib and baked potato. Jared had the roasted duck. And we all had lots of yummy bread. We didn't see Mike and Buddy that night, but the six of us had very lively conversations. Every one of  us got the strawberry cheesecake for dessert. It was delicious. I don't normally like cheesecake but this wasn't heavy or dense. It was super light.

After dinner, we headed down to the photography place to find the several pictures of us that had been taken of us already. We couldn't find our "Welcome Aboard" picture (it's like trying to find a needle in a haystack...walls and walls of pictures with the same backdrop) but we did find our first dinner picture. Not bad. But not worth $60 either (or even $20 for an 8x10).

When we got back to our stateroom this is what we found on our neatly made bed.

Omygosh!! Is that the cutest little towel elephant you've ever seen?? It made me so giddy, I had to have a picture taken with it!

The main paper on the bed is the Cruise Compass which outlines every event happening on the boat from sun up to sun down the following day. It tells of important things to know like where we are at the beginning of the day, times of the sunrise and sunset, the forecast, our coordinates, how many miles we anticipate traveling, dinner dress suggesting for dining, etc.

We changed for the night and tried to turn in early. Plus, we had to move our watches ahead 1 hour due to the crossing of time zones.

We noticed there was voicemail message waiting for us. What now? We hadn't ordered room service. Turns out our zipline/kayaking excursion in Jamaica on Tuesday was cancelled due to operational issues. But our money was credited back. That was actually our most expensive excursion at $125 a piece. The ship had a channel on TV that only highlighted the different excursions you could do in each port. So we watched that to see what sparked our interest, but nothing jumped out at us. The one thing that looked the most appealing was the "beach excursion and gourmet lunch" for $49 each. So that's what we decided we would do. We couldn't wait to hit that white sandy beach!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Spelling B-E-E

Last Tuesday, Jake participated in his school spelling bee. I was imagining kids lined up across the front of the room with a teacher giving one word to the first student. If they spelled it correctly, that student retained their place in line. If not, that person would be out and the next in line would have a chance to spell it.

Kind of like this...

Except that it wasn't that way at all. It was a paper/pencil test. Jake said there were about four ties. He thinks he did pretty good among a room of about 30 other students.

Later that week, Jake was sitting in his Language Arts class when the principal came into his class. He asked which students in there had participated in the spelling bee a few days prior. Jake and one other girl raised their hands.

Mr. Brown (principal of Brown Middle School :) presented Jake with a certificate that said:

Brown Middle School
April 9, 2013
Not shabby at all!!! He gets his spelling strength from his mom :) (Whether I realize it or not, I always edit everything I read looking for grammar and spelling errors. A blessing and a curse, actually.)
We're so proud of Jake. And I'm proud of his feelings about the experience. He's definitely disappointed that he didn't get to represent the school at the District Level but for not having any special training or preparation for this, he was proud of what he did accomplish. He went for it and did his best. I believe he was one-upped by an 8th grade girl :)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


Due to a series of unexpected errands this afternoon, we drove around town for a little over an hour. When we got home and I unloaded the kids, I realized poor Karcyn had fallen asleep. I sometimes forget about her because she's in the way back and mild mannered to begin with--compared to the 3 brothers who are between us.

I unbuckled her from her car seat and gently woke her up so she could go inside.

I grabbed the bags from the burb and had to finish corralling the three older boys, who got distracted with an activity in the front yard.

When I finally walked into the house 1 minute later, this is what I found:



Less than 5 feet from the garage door.

She looks pretty comfy.

I'm a wee bit jealous, in fact.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

What's wrong with this message?

On Friday, our former bishop and neighbor, OJ Hansen, retired from his job of 34 years. As friends and ward members, a good 20 of us gathered at Red Robin after the Priesthood session last night to celebrate with him. His job required him to travel A LOT! His wife, Vickie, was alone, more than she wasn't. In fact, about a month ago, the little kids and I ran into them out on a walk. I about died when I saw OJ with her.

As a gift, I had purchased him a gift card for a dinner out at a restaurant of his choice. I also got him a retirement card, that I signed while Jared was at the session.

This is more or less what I wrote:

Wow! 34 years--that's amazing!! Congratulations! Now that you have all this extra time, take your wife out to dinner. And maybe we can go on some walks together.

Jenn and Houghlings

Did you catch my "mistake"? I am just thanking my lucky stars for my OCD-ness, that I actually went back and proofread my message. When I discovered my error, I about fell off my chair in embarrassment. I actually felt the heat rise in my face even with no one else around me at the time.

I had unintentionally solicited the Bishop to go on walks with me! That is NOT what I had meant but it was so mortifying to see what my suggestion COULD mean. I panicked as I tried to figure out how to remedy this without destroying the card all together.

So I went back and put an editing caret in between "we" and "can" and wrote "four" above it so that it now read, "And maybe we ^four^ can go on some walks together." Not 100% fixed especially because it wouldn't hide the mistake, but better than had been.

Of course, my conscience required I had to confess my innocent slip-up to Jared, Vickie and OJ. But we all got a good laugh (several, in fact) over it, my face turning deeper shades of red than my hair the whole night. Ahhh, the memories.

Interrupted prayer

At our house, for the last 10 years (since an existence of a thing called "siblings") our kids battle to say prayers. Seriously, they all but throw fists over it. I guess it's a good thing that they all want to pray, but it seems really ironic to have a spirit of contention in our home when we're trying to avoid that very thing through our prayers. And with the several times we pray during the day (morning family prayer, breakfast prayer, lunch prayer, dinner prayer, evening family prayer--5 minimum) this really shouldn't be a problem, right? Wrong-O.

After we've tried going in a certain orders (youngest to oldest, oldest to youngest, a certain day of the week, etc.) with no real success, we finally told them that Dad will be the one to decide who prays. Yet despite this "administrative policy" a few of them continue to ask and beg to pray. Even after Jared has assigned someone to pray (often times the child who asked to pray first), there usually remains a disgruntled child or two who we have wait a good 30-45 seconds for to stop grumbling so we can proceed. Nowadays, JJ is the first one to "fold his arms" and look around expectantly waiting for the prayer to begin and time is of the essence!

Last night, I picked up a couple of pizzas for dinner, while Jared and Jake were at the General Priesthood session, and gathered the little kids around for the dinner prayer.

I said, "Okay, Karcyn. Say the prayer, please."

She obediently got reverent and began her prayer, "Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for this day and for the--wait!!"

She startled us by her abrupt halt to the prayer. I thought something was wrong.


"You mean I actually got to say the prayer without having to ask??" she clarified incredulously.

"Yes, Karcyn."

"Wow...okay. We can pray now."