Monday, March 24, 2014

Bon Voyage ~ Spring Break '14

I spent a few hours (yes - hours) last week trying to put our Spring Break trip into words, but Corbin summed it up nicely in this email to my brother Trey -
Trey - Don’t know if you had talked to your mom/dad about our trip, but we planned a Spring Break cruise out of New Orleans with them, our family and my parents and whew… now I need a vacation.  I’m sure Ton will write an engaging memoir on her blog soon, but it was full of what are now comical elements - dragging along a 14 yr old bemoaning an 8 hr car trip, who became horribly respiratory/fever sick as we pulled out of Ft Worth, Esther literally FAINTING, crashing on the pavement completely dehydrated/disoriented as we were unloading at the port, then throwing-up outside the restaurant after breakfast the first day (they love people throwing up on cruise ships), a 6 hr private fishing trip in the Bahamas with a rude Capt. Jack Sparrow and caught ONE fish – then Friday, your sister couldn’t lift her head off the pillow, never left the cabin the entire last day, then we got to our car at the port and the back has been SMASHED in. Corbin then got to unpack 6 bags, wash 7 loads of clothes, and take care of 4 kids for 2 days after driving home from New Orleans and answering 193 emails while your poor sis is in bed trying not to throw-up. It really was fun overall, but doubt we repeat again soon!
Our trip in a nutshell.

"I'm just so curious what the Lord has for us," I had said to my friend Skylar on a walk the week before Spring Break. "I know that even on a Caribbean cruise, He has something for us - someone to meet, some experience, something."

I'm still not exactly sure what that "something" was, but a couple of days into our trip Corbin looked at me and said, "You know why the Lord is doing all this, right?"
I looked at him, half wondering what his reasoning could be, and half grateful that I wasn't the only one who thought things were going less than smoothly.
"So that if you write about this on your blog, no one's gonna be jealous."

We certainly got off with a bumpy start. And kind of circled back that way, if you count the $1500 fender bender we discovered when getting back to my car. But already, just a week out, the memories are favorable. And comical.

A few lessons learned and things we hope to remember -
- If you choose to leave DFW for Spring Break again at 5pm on Friday afternoon, go ahead and tack on a couple extra hours for traffic. And construction.

- It's possible that teenage boys might not be excited about driving 7.5 hours (really 9.5 with said traffic), especially when their parents won't tell them where they're going. But regardless, keep up your expectations that they will be giddy and excited.

- Angst in teenage boy might escalate if he breaks his thumb at school that day, and if his head hurts so badly from congestion that he can't even look side to side. 

- Monitor otherwise healthy 7-year-old daughter riding in way back of suburban for fever and dehydration. Could possibly result in black-out-fainting while unloading bags from car at port.

- Quickly fill out "no fever" and "not aware of any sickness or viruses" on the health form while checking onto ship - even with a limp daughter slung over your shoulder, and even as you're stuffing decongestants, advil, tylenol, and gatorade down two of your kids just to get color back in their faces.
One sickie carrying another through the port
- The buffets on board are truly amazing, especially for teenage boys (and grandfathers) with hollow legs. But take care that passengers are crazy the first day. Consider yourself warned. All of those people who probably drove through McDonalds an hour before they arrived at the ship get on board and hit the food lines like scavengers. What in the world do the cruise staff think of us crazy, gluttonous Americans??!

- Teen activities / curfew on Royal Caribbean ends at 1:00 am. Hello.

- As a mom, if you're going to get sick on a cruise, get really sick and make it the last full day so that your mother and mother-in-love can pack all of your family's bags. Helpful if you still can't get out of bed after arriving home so that your husband can do all the "re-entry" work of laundry, mail, and unpacking for the entire family.

- Now... onto the FUN memories... Basden and I loved watching the belly flop contest together- won by a woman!

Once she started feeling better, Essie made a friend (or five)

Cute boys. Zooming in from my pool chair.
And then he spotted me zooming in.
- Watching Branson come ALIVE watching Frozen. Yes, Frozen. The rest of us have been telling him for weeks how great it is, and he totally snubbed us, until he got bored and wandered into a showing on the ship. He was back in the theater the next night, bringing with him a handful of sixteen and seventeen-year-old guys. Once home, he promptly purchased the movie and soundtrack.

- Boys playing basketball constantly. With his hurt thumb, it was Thursday before Bran was able to play with his right hand. But he made it work, and the court was such a great outlet for activity.

- Pretty flowers and even prettier ladies in Key West

Hudda enjoying his lobster. He surprised us with his adventurous palate - including escargot.
- Finding these on our beds each night. Small gestures of joy!

My fav.
- Our kids have the most amazing grandparents ever. EVER. As hard as we try not to, I know we take them for granted. Amazing, young, healthy, helpful, upbeat and fun. Goodness.
Cappy and Daboo, Mama and Papa
- We had trouble initially getting a dinner assignment for all ten of us and were told we likely couldn't all sit together. But after the first dinner, it worked out that we were assigned to the Captain's table for the week - a big round table in the middle of the dining room. Over and above.

- A gorgeous day fishing in Nassau, Bahamas on the crystal clear turquoise water. I got to go with all the guys, and the weather and scenery were absolutely incredible. 
Hud's barracuda

He was ready.
So was he.
We saw dolphin fish all around us in the water, but none took the bait. All day. None. Seriously.  
That ocean was full of fish, but except for Hud's barracuda, it just wasn't our day. We took turns fully blaming our guide (did I mention he was rude?!)
- Basden ~ all she hoped for was getting to the beach ("Pleeeeeeze let it be Florida!" she begged time and again before spring break). But alas, on our one "beach" day at Royal Caribbean's private island, the day after the fishing trip, we weren't able to tender to shore because of weather. Our island day was cancelled and we were given an extra day on the ship. Basden just sobbed when we told her, but her pretty face held this grin again pretty quickly. 

- Our one group pic... grateful for loads of memories and laughter amidst the crazy. Thankful for a thoughtful husband who put all of this together, who insisted on keeping the cruise a surprise for the kids, and who kept a good sense of humor even when folding laundry once home. We loved our special time with grandparents - and we needed you!!

Until next time... and according to Corbin, that will be a low-key fishing trip in the Ozarks.