Magic or Tragic? Part Two: We’re on a Giant Boat on the Ocean

Goofy painting the exterior of the Disney MagicOnce we arrived on the boat, we checked the Disney Cruise Line Navigator app I had downloaded ahead of time to find where food was. We were starving.

When we arrived on the ship, they asked our family name and henceforth announced our entry into the ship. It was adorable. Gabby clapped for each family announced the entire afternoon. Where was the food?

Let me take an aside to remind people like my sweet hubby TO DOWNLOAD THE APP BEFORE YOU GO ON A DISNEY CRUISE. If you do not, you have to rely on 2002-era style cell phones to carry around in your no-pockets in order to find each other on the tremendous ship. Let’s call this Fail #1. There’s no free WiFi except to run the onboard communication app. Just download it now and save yourself a headache later.

Anyway, we found lunch. There were plenty of tables. The food was buffet style. The kids had chicken fingers and Mac and cheese, I had some grilled chicken and roasted veggies. Delish. Hangry people were made into docile people.

The kids were itching to get into the pool, so we found a bathroom and changed them into the swimsuits we were super prepared to pack in the backpacks ahead of time. We were winning this vacation!

After pooltime, we decided to find our room and change into clothes for dinner. I will tell you right now, our cruise revolves around meals. We were tired and starving the whole time and my narrative is going to reflect that. When we boarded the ship, we received a card saying our room would be ready around 1:30 pm. We were super patient. We didn’t head down until at least 2pm.

We took the first elevator we found to the first floor to find our room. We took a half step out of the elevator and crew members directed us to go back up to 3, head to midship, and go back down to 1. Okay. The elevator doors open on 3. We take a step. No! We are working. Go down to 2, head to midship and go back down to 1. Okay. No! Go up to 4, head to midship and then back down to 1. Needless to say, just go ahead and wait until a little before dinner time and your room will be ready to rock.

To kill time, we headed to the kids club where the Avengers were holding some skill-building workshop for kids. They got to shoot arrows, identify villains, and crawl through lasers. I was a little annoyed I couldn’t go through the course. I would’ve killed it.

Before dinner, we finally headed back to the room. Remember when I said I had like zero time to pack? I opened the girls’ suitcase to change Lilly for dinner and found I had completely forgotten to put her clothes into the suitcase. All of Gabby’s clothes were there. Nothing for Lil. I was literally dry heaving. The ship was in motion. How does one screw up this colossally? The plan was to buy some undies and a nightgown in the ship’s store and make do.

Pile of forgotten clothing

Oh, hey sack of clothes sitting on the bench in the girls’ room! See ya when we get home!

We had dinner in the Animator’s Palate which was super cool. The screens around the outside had sketches of Disney characters that got colored in as the meal progressed. Spoiler alert: Mickey came in during dessert and danced his ass off!

We returned to the room to crash after spending surprisingly not that much money on some clothing for Lil. I did remember to pack some princess dresses and she and Gabby are close in sizes now so THANK GOD I am an extreme overpacker because I saved myself this time.

The next day was Castaway Cay day. We chose on this day to stay aboard the ship and enjoy the pool while everyone else enjoyed the crowded island. We had a great day, but when crew members asked about what we did that day, they all responded with some form of “Aw, you missed out!” comment. Uh, excuse me, but we had a wonderful day where I didn’t feel like stabbing anyone until now!

The show that night was Tangled. Basically, it was the entire movie Tangled onstage. We loved it, the kids loved it. Great show.

Day 3 we docked at the Nassau, Bahamas. We had an excursion planned to visit the aquarium at Atlantis and a day on the beach at the resort. The Dig, the aquarium, is a pretty short walkthrough, but I will warn you in advance, Atlantis is enormous. It seems like the only fun the staff there have is pointing in a vague direction when someone asks where something is. We literally had to ask a dozen people to find the beach.

Once we got to the beach, we were swarmed with locals peddling anything from hair braiding, to sarongs, to coconut drinks every 30 seconds. We met a very nice family from Nova Scotia on the beach who had a little girl a bit younger than Lilly, so they all buried each other in the sand.

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The sand on this beach was weird. You can see in the above picture how large the grains of sand are. It was also super sticky. It was at least a week before I stopped seeing sand stuck to my kids’ scalps.

This night, back on the ship, was pirate night. I may do a whole post on pirate night. I thought I was going to think it was cheesy, but it was my favorite thing.

The final day of the cruise was a day at sea. This was my least favorite day because people are just assholes. The ship was so crowded. People just claim a chair on the pool deck, throw their stuff on it and disappear for the rest of the day until you try to sit there. I got into a fight with a family who took 4 chairs in addition to a table and claimed their kids were using the chairs. What kids? Where are they? When they show up, I’ll move. Guess who never magically appeared? Jerks.

We ended up just doing some shopping and we watched the movie Coco. Gabby ugly-cried in the theater, triggering a rash of other people crying. It was cute.

The final morning, they gave us breakfast at an ungodly hour and kicked us off the ship. I missed the cutoff to have our bags picked up the night before, so we had to drag our bags with us to breakfast. I don’t recoimmend doing that.

Overall, it was mostly a good time. We even got to enjoy an adult dinner. The kids went to the kids club a couple of times and we had some kid-free moments. I would definitely do another Disney cruise.

Verdict so far: disneycruiseblogmeter2

Stay tuned for Part 3: Cleanliness and Ship Diseases

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Gabby and Lillian walking through the port holding hands

Magic or Tragic? Part One: Getting to our first Disney Cruise

Gabby and Lillian walking through the port holding hands

Since we’ve already been to the Happiest Place on Earth and Buffalo winters can make a person need to flee the cold, we planned ourselves a short 4-night Disney cruise that left out of the Port of Miami this past February. We also connected this trip with a visit to family in the West Palm Beach, FL area, which I will write about in another post.

This trip just so happened to follow one of my busiest weeks at work and came two days after Lillian’s 4th birthday (a post about which is also still in the works). I ended up having to pack for this trip during my lunch breaks the two days prior to the trip. It was hectic packing for me and the two girls in basically 40 minute segments for an 8-day extravaganza.

Our flight left out of Buffalo at 6 in the morning, so we had to get up bright and early at 3 am to make our flight on time. It seems like most of the time, even Buffalo is an international airport, we have to take multiple flights to get to any destination. We flew Delta this time around. We had a short layover in Detroit and then we got a fancy plane with free in-flight movies for the rest of the journey to Miami. I, however, forgot to bring wired headphones, so I just stared at the flight pattern screen for 2 hours and change.

Gabby watching a movie on the airplane.

Lillian fell asleep as we were landing on 3 out of the 4 flights. When we got to Miami, it was as we were taxiing to the gate. When I had to wake her up to get off the plane and find our luggage, she obviously was a cranky mess and I had to carry her most of the way. Finally, we found our luggage and the Disney Cruise Line ground transportation staff member who led us to where we would wait for the bus. They were super helpful and tried to cheer her up and eventually told us to find a seat and they would tell us when to get on the bus.

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Once on the bus, we met our Driver, Mr. Atwell. He was a Miami native and told us all about the sports stadiums and people movers we passed as we headed to the port. The trip was only about 20 minutes from Miami International Airport to the Port of Miami. We de-boarded the bus, collected our day bags, and headed into the port. The porters collected our luggage and we hoped it would arrive to our room at a later time that day.

The line to get our Key to the World cards seemed crazy long, but we got through after about 15 minutes. The building was air conditioned, so it was not a big deal at all. They also had to take pictures of us to match up in the comuter with our cards. This was uncoordinated and people were stepping all over us and getting in each other’s pictures. Seems like something they could do at a later time where there is more space.

Once we passed through this area, we just followed signs through the port to the ship. There were a few photo stops, but the photographer refused to take a picture with my phone, so we said screw it and made for the ship.

Verdict so far: disneycruiseblogmeter1

Want more? Click over to Part 2: We’re on a Giant Boat on the Ocean!

Daycare: Getting Us By For Just A Mere One Billion Dollars

Nope. Not sleepy at all.

Next month, it’ll have been 2 years since we have been living the two-working-parents life. With no family nearby, we had to make the extremely difficult decision to send our precious baby to full-time daycare. It is not easy to go from being with a baby 24/7 to only seeing her 2 hours in the morning and 2 hours before she goes to bed. That was a rough transition.

However… Remember that time I wrote about how I am a Type A person with no ability to stick to a routine? Without daycare, I never would have gotten Gabby on any kind of schedule. What I learned with Gabby was to let the daycare teachers set her schedule and then just stick to it at home. I had a much easier time with Lilly. Also, those ladies know how to guide an infant toward toddlerhood. I have gone to them time and time again to ask for advice on how to get my kids to sleep (because even when they are giving me a hard time napping at home, they just go to sleep like little angels at daycare), how to get them to eat, what is developmentally normal, etc. It’s like asking a pediatrician, but I don’t have to make an appointment because I am there every single day.

Then there are the transitions. Daycare teachers who stick around are doing it because they love what they do. The pay is awful, benefits are minimal, and the work is exhausting. Most daycare teachers are waiting for a “real” teaching job and are only there temporarily. I’m assuming this is not as big of a problem at the pre-school and pre-K levels, but with infants and toddlers, there has been a near-constant shuffle of caregivers for my kids. Lilly is on her third lead teacher in the infant room and Gabby is on her third in the toddler room (and she had two different teachers when she was in infants). That is a lot of transition for a kid who needs to feel security and comfort if she is to be away from her parents all day.

Then there is the bill. I do feel that the quality of care our kids receive is worth the money. It is just really difficult to me to “take home” negative dollars while my kids are in daycare. By the time Lilly is in Kindergarten, we will have paid more than I owe on my student loans. If I were to stay home with them for the next 4 years, I couldn’t guarantee that I could find a job locally – especially with the awesome boss I have and state benefits. It is worth the money. It is worth the sanity. There aren’t enough story times at the library to keep me from losing my mind from spending that much time away from adult topics of conversation.

Daycare. I love it. I hate it. I don’t know what we would do without it.

Holidays, Schmolidays

I love Christmas, I really do, but the holidays are such a stressful time for me for so many reasons. It’s not even the financial aspect of the holidays, I actually love bargain hunting and researching the perfect gift for everyone and strategically buying for my kids. It’s the other stuff that gets to me.

My husband’s family is split between Florida and Long Island. Because my parents are divorced and everyone has a problem with someone in the family, there’s really NO chance of spending any time with my family as a whole. I always feel a nagging sense of guilt that I would choose to spend the holidays with my in-laws versus my own family, but I like the traditions we have with them and want my girls to experience that. Maybe in the future we can extend the holiday and trek down to PA to spend time with my dad and sister, but it seems like a hell of a lot of driving to me and honestly, I am already too stressed out about all of the traveling we do.

In addition, traveling makes the Santa lie myth story difficult to pull off because depending on the day we leave, we might have to give the kids gifts early or late and then Santa comes to Grandma’s house, but then there’s also stuff at our house when we return home almost a week later. And what if we need to leave on Christmas Eve? When they’re older won’t they be looking for Santa’s sleigh in the sky? We’ve been telling them Santa only comes if you’re sleeping. It’s exhausting to me to have to continually maintain the story. I am a bad liar. Everyone knows that.

Then we add to the mix the overwhelming influx of new toys when they already have so much. My kids are spoiled. They have a ridiculous amount of toys. When anyone comes to visit, they bring toys to bribe my kids to open up to them (I’m looking at you, Grandmas). I am on an endless quest to rotate toys, get rid of broken toys, find lost puzzle pieces, and salvage toys they don’t care about so I can sell them at consignment so I can buy them more crap they won’t take care of because they are TWO and 10 MONTHS OLD. The struggle is real, my people. The toys don’t go away as fast as they come in. I don’t know how this will affect my kids. Are they going to be entitled little brats? Am I overreacting? I don’t know.

The worst part of the holiday season for me is the crushing disappointment when the holiday season is over and it’s just cold and cloudy for 4 more months. The toys aren’t new, the gift cards have been spent, we go home to Buffalo and are left to face the fact that we are stuck inside for the foreseeable future mediating fights over toys, cleaning up messes, and knowing that we will do it all over again next year.

I really don’t mean to be a Scrooge. I really am a Christmas nut. I just get exhausted by all of the sameness and start wishing the holidays to be over before they begin. Tell me I’m not alone in this!

6 signs a kid (or two) lives here

  1. Top-level kitchen organization.

    It doesn’t even seem right that our kitchen counter should look like this. We have TONS of cabinet space. But when a toddler needs a drink, you damn well better materialize a cup from thin air (and it had better not be an OLD cup – better known as a cup from an hour ago). Also note the bottles and bottle accessories. This is also where we store the kids’ medicine. I know you’re jealous of my organization skills.

  2. Blankets covering every square inch of the couch.
    It’s covered in stains, but what I can’t see can’t hurt me. 
  3. “Babies sleeping” in odd places.
    Imagine my horror when I walked into the kids’ dark bedroom and stumbled into this. For all I knew it was a dead burglar. 
  4. Potty seat hanging on the wall.

    How fancy are we that we have a special hook in the bathroom just for hanging the potty seat? Please ignore the filthy sink and 1950 tile job. We will probably move before the bathroom ever gets updated (or cleaned, haha).

  5. All the no-no items are up high.        No not the breakable things, we don’t have any of those. I’m talking about the iphones, laptops, TV remotes. The items we would not survive parenthood without.  

  6. It’s not sparkling clean, but it feels like home.