Thursday, July 31, 2008

Cruise - Part One

As promised, here is the first part of our vacation. It was a seven day cruise and we had a brand new camera, so I am not going to try to fit it all in at once. Besides, it is summer. I have nothing else to write about! = )

Our vacation started like it usually does. We were up WAY too late the night before packing and promising that this would be the last time we wait until the last minute to pack. You'd think we'd have learned by now! Morgan was particularly stressed...all because of Padraig Harrington. We would be leaving for Miami during the final day of the British Open. Morgan actually went to 7:30am Mass so that he could watch Padraig tee off. (His sister and I went at 9:00)

We got to the TriRail station just as the train was coming. We let June & Christina use the car for the week, so we took the train to the airport and then took a taxi to the port. They built a nice new terminal since the last time we cruised. Check in was uneventful.

As soon as we got on board Operation Find-a-TV began. As luck would have it, the Bronx Bar was showing the British Open and Morgan got to see Padraig win. What a way to start the week!

Now dinner on the ship is one of our favorite things about cruising. We look forward to it each night. I had a wonderful asparagus soup and tilapia that looked a little scary (garnished with peas, yuck!) but was absolutely tasty! Morgan started with a pasta dish and had the New York strip as his main. Desert brought creme brulee (one of my favorites!) and black forest gateau.

Monday was a day at sea. Morgan slept in. I read the instruction book for our new camera and played with the features. I am very happy with our purchase! We had a late lunch because we started watching Alvin and the Chipmunks in the room. We decided it was our vacation and we could do nothing if we wanted to!

As is the case for all of our summer vacations to the Caribbean, we had a run in with a hurricane. For most of Monday we were feeling the outer bands of the Tropical Storm Dolly. The adult pool on the Valor has a retractable roof though, so we sat by the pool and pretended the weather was nicer.

We learned last time that you can view the dinner menu on the TV in your room. It was the first thing we did each morning. Sad, but true! Monday was the first formal night so we spent the rainy afternoon getting all dressed up. I started with a pumpkin soup while my other half began his meal with stuffed mushrooms. We both had lobster - Morgan had been anxiously awaiting this meal! Cherries Jubilee (J) and Caramelized Apples (M) were enjoyed with some tea.

We went on the same ship two years ago on a different itinerary. One of the best changes they'd made was adding the Seaside Theater. Morgan hates the after dinner shows. It doesn't matter if it is a musical production, a comedy act, or a juggler it is not his thing. So the Seaside Theater was perfect for us. We went up to the top deck and sat out on the chairs watching a different movie each night. The week started with the light hearted movie Game Plan.

We went to bed fairly early with visions of Grand Cayman dancing in our heads...

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Back to reality

We got back from vacation on Sunday. It was an amazing week. We toured tropical beaches of the Caribbean. Pictures to follow - I had a great time playing with the new camera. However, I am supposed to be working on an assignment for my ESOL course but I am procrastinating nicely. Pictures will have to be tomorrow's fun!

June and Christina (two of Morgan's sisters) are in town. They enjoyed our house and car while we were away. It has been great fun to catch up with them. They are off at the pool now while on my paper...

Morgan has been tracking our phones with UPS. They left the local station and are out for delivery. I am standing watch. Can you tell he is excited?

I guess that is as much as I can justifiably procrastinate. I am off now to write 4 pages worth of reflections on chapters four and five from Literacy Assessment of Second Language Learners that I read this morning...

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Ready for vacation

Morgan is enthralled. Padraig Harrington is currently tied for the lead in the British Open. Yesterday our friend Padraig came back from behind while we were out running errands. Morgan was quick to point out that if we had our new phones he could have watched it live. They should be here when we get back from vacation, but that doesn't help us today. Morgan will not be leaving the house until the golf is over for the day. (Thank goodness for the time difference!)

Yesterday we both got our hair cut and we bought the new camera. We are having battery issues (a certain Irishman said we didn't need a new recharger but he was mistaken!) so it looks like the first peak at both will be the pictures from our cruise! We have been running errands and getting things together for the trip. Morgan bought the much pined for pair of Clark sandals and (even though he swore he would never get them) a pair of Crocs. Not just any Crocs, leather Crocs. He tried to tell me that they were SO comfortable that I needed a pair. I told him my flip flops would do! I have to admit they do suit him.

My sister-in-law Christina arrived last night. Her sister June arrives tomorrow after we leave. They are in town for a few weeks. They will enjoy the sunny Florida weather while we are gone. (It means we have built in cat sitters!) I also have someone to see Mamma Mia with when we get back from the cruise!

Speaking of, we leave tomorrow for our cruise. We are going to Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Honduras, and Belize. We are most excited. We relaxed so much the last time we went and are looking forward catching up on sleep, good food, and great beaches.

Padraig just dropped one - he is now tied for 4th. I am going to run to Walmart to return the yogurt maker/pick up a battery charger, the post office to mail a Paperback Swap book, and the library to finally turn a few books I have rechecked twice already. I'd better go before the Irishman thinks of anything else!

Side note: We do not know Padraig Harrington personally, but if you listen to Morgan talk you would think that we do.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Wal-Mart Woes

I am not happy with Walmart today. For our anniversary, my mom got us the yogurt maker I'd asked for. Sad I know, but I keep reading about how great homemade yogurt is and I really want to try it! Morgan couldn't think of anything better to ask for so a yogurt maker was what we got!

I have really been looking forward to this, so on the way home from the movie (Morgan has taken his summer vacation so we went to see Hancock today) we stopped at Publix. I bought milk, berries, and other goodies to mix in with my homemade yogurt goodness.

After Publix we stopped at Walmart. As our joint anniversary gift to ourselves, we are going to replace our digital camera. We shopped around yesterday and couldn't decide. After looking at Consumer Reports and numerous online reviews, I chose the one I want. I found it on for $185 and was happy enough. We were thrilled to see that they had it at our crummy little Walmart down the street.

(Side note - this is by far the WORST Walmart I have ever been to in my entire life. The combination of bad staff and obnoxious elderly New Yorkers is unbearable.)

Anyway, my excitement quickly faded when I discovered that the same camera advertised for $185 online is actually $199 in the store. We found the small print on the website that says the prices may not be the same in the store. If we order it online we will not have it in time for the cruise. I am not happy.

After further research, we cannot find the camera anywhere else. My mom and grandmother have both said to just pay the difference. I likely will tomorrow...but I do not have to be happy about it!

To add insult to injury, I started to unpack my new yogurt maker and discovered that the plastic lid is broken. No fresh homemade yogurt for me in the morning. No, I get to return it to and wait for them to send me a new one. Which means after my vacation. Not a happy camper.

After all this I was getting a headache, so I decided to through caution to the wind. Morgan and I went to Target (because we are currently not happy with Walmart and it seemed the right thing to do) and then stopped off at Dairy Queen. I am getting a headache anyway so I got the Girl Scout Cookie Thin Mint Blizzard they have been advertising recently. It reminded me of the homemade Thin Mint ice cream we made growing up, yum! Morgan and I are going to watch My Boys before calling it a night.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Sprint Sweetened the Deal

Resolution to the phone saga...

Yesterday I got tired of the phone conversation and challenged Morgan not to say the word iPhone until 4:00pm. He responded as a child would by repeating the word Instinct.

We met our good friend Dawn at PF Chang's for lunch before heading to a "Sip and See" gathering for Lyndsay and Dave's twins. We were just getting onto I-95 when Morgan decided to call Sprint with a few questions. We got to the restaurant, were seated, and ordered before he got off the phone.

It seems that Sprint did not want to lose our business when they heard we might become iPhone converts. They were waiving fees left and right. When Morgan said he wanted to speak to his wife before making a decision, the representative asked him what he needed to talk to his wife about. He finally convinced her to call back later. Morgan cannot pass up a bargain though. We stopped by the Sprint store to play with the phone on the way home from Mass and our minds were made up.

The Sprint plan is a better plan for the same price. It has 1500 minutes (AT&T was only 700 minutes) and nights and weekends start at 7pm (AT&T was 9pm). This plan also includes unlimited text, picture, and video messaging. (With AT&T we would have to purchase a separate text plan for messaging) My mom & several others we frequently call are also on Sprint, so we save with Sprint to Sprint minutes.

He just got off the phone. They have given us a 10% monthly discount on our bill. We already get a 5% discount because we are USAA members. They also gave us an additional discount on the phones. The phones will take about 2 weeks to arrive, but the discounts sold us.

The phone has a camera and records video. The GPS feature allows you to push a button to find the cheapest gas from your current location or the nearest restaurants, etc. There are live TV channels and other "on-demand" entertainment options. The plan we have allows us to play with all these features. Compared with our current phones, there are lots of bells and whistles!

It is not the iPhone, but I think it was the best choice. The phones should arrive when we get back from vacation, so we will have something to look forward to!

Friday, July 11, 2008

To iPhone or not to iPhone...

Our contract with Sprint is up and our phone are two years old. With family members getting new phones (my brother-in-law got an iPhone and my mom got the new Instinct) we are thinking about updating. Morgan has talked of nothing else for the last week!

We cannot both get to the AT&T store today so I have decided to see how the reviews come in today. Morgan actually asked me to post a survey on my blog. (But he will deny the idea if ever asked...silly but true!)

So, in our assessment of things Sprint's plan includes more minutes, text messages, and evenings starts at 7pm. AT&T would end up costing $15 a month once we add texting plans to get texting but has an International text messaging plan to cover the 3am messages from a certain cousin in England. (International texts at $0.25 each with Sprint) AT&T also has roll-over minutes, but evenings do not start until 9 pm. Although if we get rid of International calling on the cell phone we will not need as many minutes.

The bottom line is that Morgan loves the idea of the iPhone and is not sure if the Instinct is close enough for him. He has visions of being stuck out shopping and watching the Liverpool games on his phone. Add in the extra cost though and we are not sure what to do!

Please take the poll. Morgan will secretly thank you for it!

Monday, July 7, 2008

A Few Summer Favorites

The boys watching lizards on the patio...

Reading and napping at the beach...

Moses & Rafa sleeping on the couch as I read...

A swim after work...

Friday, July 4, 2008

A WHOLE Lot of Fun

It has been a great couple of days. Yesterday after summer school I took a trip to Whole Foods. I would love to be able to shop there regularly, but my checkbook doesn't allow it. I told myself that Thursday's visit was my treat for teaching summer school. I love that place!

I had been looking for non-toxic nail polish, so I picked up two bottles and ordered non-toxic nail polish remover. (Yet another idea I got from Gorgeously Green) Last night I decided to give myself a home pedicure. I am quite pleased with the results. I picked a shiny red color in honor of the Independence Day holiday.

I also bought some frozen treats from Whole Foods. Chocolate gives me migraines, and most nice frozen treats are chocolate. A while back a friend from Scouts was telling me about Tofutti Cuties. Publix only carries chocolate flavored Cuties, but Whole Foods had Key Lime Pie Sandwiches. It tastes just like ice cream but they are actually dairy-free soy based products. I am sold on them! Morgan's only complaint was that they are too small.

I love Stonyfield Farms yogurts. I have found that artificial sweeteners can also give me headaches, but these are safe. Publix only carries a few flavor varieties, but Whole Foods has MANY choices. I picked up a few yogurts and then found that they also have ice cream! Not only that, they had nice non-chocolate flavored ice creams. I picked up two pints. I figured I'd worked for it!

Last night I had class. (I am taking my third ESOL course from Lynn) but we got done early, so Morgan and I watched a few more episodes of ER. (From the season he bought me for ER day) We had some popcorn. I recently discovered Orville Redenbacher's Organic Butter Popcorn. (Again I avoid artificial sweeteners and have to be picky!) It looks deceivingly flavorless due to a lack of fake butter color, but it is yummy!

This morning we woke early and decided to head to the beach before the rain came. We read under the umbrella and went for a swim. It was wonderful! I really like our little local beach. As we left the beach at 1:00 I could see the lightening in the distance. It is the rainy season so mornings are fine, but it rains almost EVERY afternoon. So we headed home and watched The Patriot as we finished off another bag for my new favorite popcorn. (We were going for a nice patriotic film)

We made burgers for dinner. We made Smoky Oven O-Rings and Crash Hot Potatoes as well. The burgers and potatoes were fantastic, the onion rings looked good, but weren't anything we will try again. It was a great feast though and I got to use my tropical patriotic platter. We'll have some of my new frozen treats later!

We'd planned to head to FAU for music and fireworks, but it is still a bit wet. Our backup plan was to head back to the beach for fireworks, but I can hear the rain pick up as I type this so I think I am going to make a case for watching them on TV. Rain or not it has been a great couple of days!

Happy 4th of July!