Day One - The Long Drive
We finally got to New Orleans after the 10 hours in the drive. We had dinner, and then went to check into the hotel. I helped Kevin get all the luggage out and got 3 sleepy kids ready to go up to our room. He was going to park the car and bring Ben in. As I was carrying a mostly still sleeping Zack and corralling the other two big boys toward the doors Kevin called me back and said "I just locked Ben in the car." I had to suppress laughter because he NEVER does stuff like this. NEVER. Thankfully, AAA arrived quickly and Ben slept through the whole thing. I don't think Kevin thought it was funny at all, but I found humor because I'm the one with major key issues.
Day 2 - The Big Boat
I had hoped to see a little of New Orleans, but in the end we only had time to get packed and board the ship.
One of the funniest moments was in the line waiting to go through the security check, Zack was making faces at the shiny metal poles. Fish face, surprised face, grabbing lips with fingers and sticking tongue out face. It was priceless!
At dinner I had to laugh at the differences between Eric and Mark. Eric had chocolate ice cream, quickly ate every bite, and then licked the bowl clean. Perhaps not the best table manners, but I couldn't scold him. Watching him savor every bite (and lick) made me smile. On the other end of the spectrum, Mark at a few bites of his vanilla ice cream, then smoothed it out with his spoon. He proceeded to make peaks and valley and when finished announced it his "ice cream city." About the time Eric began his bowl licking, Mark started eating his ice cream.
Day 3 - Happy Birthday to Me
Ever since the kids learned my birthday would be spent on the "big boat" they were concerned about one thing. "What about the CAKE!!??!!" Since there is no shortage of desserts I told them it was fine, Mommy doesn't need a cake. Apparently, Kevin and the boys had other plans in mine. They arranged for the crew to decorate our room and there was also... tada... a cake.
The kids were super excited for the Kids Crew and actually cried when we picked them up the first night. Since they really wanted to go after lunch (how great is that! I could drop them off with no guilt!) and Ben needed a nap, I was able to spend some time on the balcony reading as we sailed across the Gulf of Mexico. Priceless.
I finished up my birthday with a massage at the ship's spa with my sister in law. It was a great day!!
Day 4 - Costa Maya, Mexico
A beach day & it was awesome! This is where Kevin paddled the little boys around in the water, and lots of sand and water play was done. We also saw a HUGE starfish that one of the lifeguards brought us to look at. (Sadly, no pictures of my camera of that one... but my sister in law took some that I will hopefully get ahold of soon.)
Day 5 - Santo Tomas de Castillo, Guatemala
This was the day I looked forward to the most, because two years ago when Kevin and I took this cruise for our anniversary (alone!) we went to this place that we both couldn't stop saying how much we wished the kids were there. Never did I think we could actually take them there. It certainly did not disappoint and the kids had a ball sliding off the pirate ship into the pool. There were grown up water slides too. I got stuck. I kept wanting to go again to redeem myself, but I never had the chance. In my defense these slides are like a zillion years old and I wasn't the only one who got stuck by a long shot.
The park you saw the kids playing in that was all carved out of wood and just the neatest looking thing ever was in Guatemala. Also, turtles and iguanas (not just running around, in little habitats) and a peacock that was just roaming around.
Day 6 - Belize City, Belize
This was the day of the butterfly garden and it was really, really cool. I had no idea there were so many varieties of butterflies. One that we weren't able to get a picture of but was quite stunning was a blue butterfly with kind of scalloped edges on the wings. The kids had a blast and I never got tired of hearing "Look Momma! A butterfy (not a typo, that's how he says it)!" from Zack.
Day 7 - Cozumel, MexicoKevin wanted at some point of the trip to go snorkeling. He got a snorkel mask digital camera for Christmas and wanted to use it. There was just no way we could all go and his parents had decided to just go shopping. So, we decided that Kevin and his brother would go snorkeling, and his brother's wife and I could
After the great snorkeling adventure the girls (and some reluctant little boys, 2 of mine, one of hers) went shopping. I love shopping in Cozumel. It isn't as hard core with the people approaching you and the bartering (where I always feel like I'm taking food out of some little kid's mouth but Kevin scoffs at my lack of skillz at getting a lower price. I know!) A fun day of shopping except for the constant "can we go back to the boat now? You never buy me anything!!" Then when I bought them hats "Now you won' t buy us anything else! I know it! Let's go back to the ship now!" Then when I got them a really cool souvenir (because I wanted to for reasons totally unrelated to their behavior) they said "Now can we go back to the ship to play with our puzzles?" It left me wondering whether this was their exhaustion talking or if they really are that bratty. A few days home has verified to me that it was probably a mix of both. Say, 60/40 or so.
Kevin's awesome parents made the day end on a delightful note by watching the kiddos that weren't old enough to go to the Kids Crew and let the three couples go to dinner... alone. We ate great food with no interruptions, talked and laughed so hard we cried. It was like old times when we would hang out and goof off in the pre-kid all of us living in the same town days.
Day 8 - At Sea
I confess by this day I was done. Tired, wrung out, ready to get home. Travelling with kids is difficult in the best of situations. This trip was outstanding, beautiful, as close to relaxation with four kids as you can get. However, all good things must come to an end. I used the last sea day to attempt to rest up, took a nap with Ben, let the big boys enjoy some time reading with Grandma, and Kevin and I packed up all of our stuff so we would be ready to disembark Sunday morning.
Day 9 - Apparently I Can't Count
I swear I thought this trip was 8 days, but apparently it was 9. SO, I can't count. Nothing notable about this day. Got off the ship, said our too quick goodbyes, and got in the van. I will say that our kids were incredibly patient and good in the car. Incredibly. They really do adapt to whatever we throw their way.
I always say, there is nothing to make you ready to get home from a really amazing time away than the long car ride it takes to get there. 10 hours is a long time in the car, but I just kept thinking how glad I was that it wasn't 20. We had a little bit to relax (and unpack the massive amount of dirty laundry) before going to sleep.
So, believe it or not, that was the short version. We had a ton of fun! The laundry is actually done and I think we are finally getting ourselves back in a routine.