We are back! Last week Stevie and I took a vacation (by ourselves!!) to celebrate our 5 year anniversary and our upcoming 30th birthdays!
We are extremely fortunate to have the means to do something like this and even more fortunate to have the grandparents who are both willing AND able to take care of the girls for a full week for us. Without them, our lives would be much different. More on how their week was in a minute.
In the weeks leading up to our trip, which we planned about 8 months ago, I started having a lot of anxiety about being away from the girls, on a ship in the ocean nonetheless. But I worked on reminding myself of two things: the time together would be good for Stevie and me, and the time the girls would have with Grandma and Grandpa would be really good for them. In all honesty, I knew they would be having more fun with Grandma and Grandpa than they would with us - I was just scared of what I would do without them!
So, last Sunday we dropped the girls off at my parents and left around 11AM for the 7 hour drive to Long Beach; into the sun. After getting checked into the hotel we went to dinner at Islands in the “happening” part of downtown. I was pleasantly surprised by Long Beach - it was not at all what I remembered.
Monday we boarded the Carnival Inspiration and set sail that evening. We had a lovely cabin with a big ocean-view window. We made a pact on Monday to never take the elevator on the ship and we stuck to it! I definitely missed the balcony that we had for our honeymoon cruise but this particular ship only has balconies on suites. Hopefully for our next cruise, because (yes) we are already discussing it, we will have the balcony again.
Tuesday was a port day at Catalina Island. While eating breakfast on the ship we saw about 50 dolphin swimming and playing near our ship! When we did this same cruise 7 years ago with my parents, we rented a golf-cart and let my dad drive us around like a crazy person! This year, knowing it would just be the two of us, we decided to hike. When all was said and done, we probably walked over 8 miles. The hike part of that was over 4 miles and it was much more strenuous than I anticipated. It was beautiful! We hiked to the very top of the island where we could look over and see both sides. It was also wonderful time together - just the two of us. I had a couple “almost falls” during which I managed to hurt my shoulder somehow, but overall it was a huge success. I think I may have caught a hiking bug - I really enjoyed it and hope to do some hikes in Tucson too.
Wednesday was a port day at Ensenada, Mexico. We debated just staying on the ship since it’s not that much different than Nogales, but decided to get off and just walk around. I’m glad we did! We bought some cute things for the girls and had some yummy tacos and a pina colada. And it felt good to walk. Together. We also ran on the track that day. The track so small that you have to do 11 laps to equal 1 mile, but I did 3.5 miles nonetheless.
Thursday was a sea-day. We tried to run on the track but it was way too windy, so we went to the gym. I did the treadmill for 31 minutes, overlooking the beautiful ocean. The rest of the day was spent doing activities on the ship.
- Winning the “Ship-on-a-Stick” trophy a bottle of wine for knowing the answer to this trivia question, “Which rock group was formed before the 1960s, with 4 members, 1 of which was assassinated, but not the Beatles?”
- Leaning to fold a few of those Carnival towel animals
- Two comedy shows
- Stevie doing pretty poorly at the Michael Jackson trivia
- The “Love & Marriage” show with the could celebrating their 70th wedding anniversary. When asked what the secret to a long, happy marriage is, she quickly replied, “He keeps his mouth shut and his wallet open.”
- Everything about Catalina Island
- “Pooh Bear” pole-dancing during dinner
- The magician at dinner - to whom I gave my wedding rings and they ended up attached inside a zippered pouch in his pocket
- Sleeping in, although most days I was still awake at 5AM
- The time together
- Did I mention we won a “vessel-on-a-tressel?” dingy-on-a-thingy?
- Stevie would want me to include NOT buying any artwork as a highlight
Friday was debarkation day. This takes awhile but we were in no hurry so we just hung out on the deck. Together. (We also both enjoy people-watching, and there’s a lot of that to do on a cruise!) When we finally got off and got through customs we made our way to our hotel and hung out for awhile before heading about 45 minutes north to a mall to meet Kirsten and the babies for lunch. I’m really glad that worked out - we don’t get to see them very often so even short visits are worth it. Then we headed back to our hotel and about an hour later headed 1 hour south to meet up with Dan and Erin for dinner. Again, I’m so glad that worked out! We rarely see them too and when we do there are usually small, beautiful, energetic children running around so it’s hard to talk. And Erin and I LOVE (and need) to talk! The food was yummy when they finally allowed Dan to eat his fajitas! If it weren’t for those 2 visits, we would have driven home Friday, I was missing my girls like crazy and it was a lot of extra driving, but both visits were really important to us.
In conclusion, it was a wonderful time. I am so lucky to have the family that I do and to have these opportunities.
So, what did grandma and grandpa do with Shyla and Harper all week? From what we have heard, they mostly had fun and changed tires! We wanted the girls’ schedules to stay as normal as possible so we had arranged for them to both go to Harper’s school (since Shyla’s is closed) all week. To make the transportation “easier” we left them the trailblazer with both car-seats. Turns out we also left it with 2 different nails in 2 different tires. One my dad discovered and got it down to Big O. The second my mom discovered when she was taking the girls to Target. Aye! What’s that they say about the best laid plans?
Otherwise, it sounded like they kept to a routine and had a lot of fun. They read a lot of books, did some puzzles, smiled a lot, did a lot of cheers with cups, played outside frequently, and just got to enjoy each other. This makes my heart happy. As hard as it was to be away from them and as much as I missed them, I was also thrilled that they got such special time with grandma and grandpa. Shyla also had her first soccer practice while we were gone. I hope to blog more about that later!
A thankful shout-out to my sis for taking care of Pancake while we were gone! It makes trips so much more enjoyable to know that my family are all taken care of and happy.
I am excited to have another week of Fall Break to spend with my girls, we are looking forward to some more fun outings and more happy memories!