Monday, July 30, 2007

One down, five to GO!!!!!!

We got one garment bag today. It had the travel size charmin toliet paper in it that we never used, an extra coloring book, some hats, basically the useless stuff. Isn't that just swell!!!! I need my hair dryer and some clothes would be nice. There were some of our dress clothes in there as well, I was especially happy to get this Ann Taylor shrug that my sister lent me. Jarrett's mom and dad got 2 bags. We are holding out hope for the rest. We are suffering from some major jet lag. All four of us were up at 3:30 am today. We had all gone to bed before 7 pm. I have never felt like this before, it is a wierd feeling. One minute I will be fine and the next I feel like I am going to fall right over and go to sleep. Maybe I just have narcolpsy???

Sunday, July 29, 2007

We're Back!!!

Well we made it back to the good ole USA. I just love America and the people here! I feel like singing "God Bless America." Anybody want to join in? Yesterday was a very hard day. We are glad to be back although we miss our Disney magic. Ivan, can you get me some bacon please?

I forgot to clarify something, we made it but NONE of our luggage did. Nine pieces missing in action. They don't have a clue where it is. I think that mean Spaniard took it. Just kidding. So, no laundry today. We have no clothes, no hairdryer, no flat iron, no underwear, no socks, no souvenirs, no shoes (we took 22 pair, I am not sure how that happened), no toothbrushes, no nothing. Well, I have jet lag so I gotta go. Our jet lag is not too bad because of those cool No jet lag pills that Grammy had us take. Please pray that we get our luggage. Thanks! Jarrett will be adding pics later today. Thanks for joining us on our trip of a lifetime.

Return Trip From Hell

We woke up with a cheerful wake up call from Mickey Mouse, got ready, ate breakfast then made our way to the Rockin D bar at 6:30 am. There were a ton of people who had early flights so we would all be the first off the ship. This was the earliest they would allow us off. We found our luggage and got aboard the first motor coach that left the port. We were feeling pretty good by this point about getting to the airport in time. Our flight left at 9:20. Disney booked this flight for us so we figured they would allow us enough time to get through security, check in etc. Boy were we wrong!! The Barcelona airport sucks!!! There is just no other way to put it. As we walk in we witness the longest lines and the most unorganized way to do things ever. We are flying back on a Spanish airline called Iberia. It is kind of like Southwest where they don’t assign seats until you get there and they are the slowest workers ever. Instead of just standing in your airlines row you have to look at these giant screens and figure out what counter to go too. This would have been good to know ahead of time. We were in a line that said Departures Americana’s and figured that was the right one. Sometime later we realized we were in the wrong line. By this point it is so crowded that it was virtually impossible to move to another line, it was wall to wall people and all their luggage. Not to mention we had 2 very tired kids, one stroller, 10 pieces of luggage, 4 backpacks and 2 neck pouches, plus one stressed out Kathy.

These situations do not bring out the best in me; I was neither up for an adventure nor in the mood for one today. All the people plus all the announcements in Spanish and very rude people plus the chaos was sending me over the edge. WE STOOD IN OUR LINE FROM 7AM TO 9:15 AM This was just the first line to check in. People were panicking and the airport people were assuring us that we would get on. But guess what, after the family in front of us, who by the way we let cut in front of us, being the nice Christian folks we are, got their boarding passes, we walk up to the counter hand the guy our passports and e-tickets and he starts yelling at me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The nerve of him after we had been standing in line for over 2 hours.

He threw my passports back at me and yelled that this flight is closed. Oh, I was boiling and before I even realized it I was yelling right back at him. Not one of my finer moments. He had no empathy. He acted as if we had just walked into the airport 10 minutes before we were to leave. Grampy even raised his voice too. We asked what we were to do and he shooed us away. Oh, I will be making Disney aware of this (we did their air travel program, so they made all of our ressies) because I know that they are a company that has excellent customer service and they would never treat a person this way or want somebody they are working with to treat their customers this way.

I walked up to Iberias ticket sales counter and the man their told me to go back and stand in line. Are you kidding me, the line was longer than it was when we first got there. So, naturally frustrated beyond belief, worried that we would be stuck in this Gosh-awful airport, I started crying which in turn made Madelyn cry. I do have to say though, that our kids were fabulous during this whole ordeal. They stayed with us and never ran off and they rarely complained. I think they were as overwhelmed as the rest of us. Jarrett stepped up to the plate and went and explained our situation to another ticket sales man and he actually tried to help us despite the language barrier. He booked us on the next flight to Madrid and then hopefully we would meet up with our flight to Miami with only about 20 minutes to meet the connection.

This sounded good until they told us we needed to run to meet it, plus we still needed to go through security. So off we run and we don’t know where we are going. I am pushing Madelyn in a stroller while wearing flip flops, Jarrett is loaded down with our carryons, Nathan was doing his best to keep up, poor Grampy got stuck with one of his hanging bags in addition to his carryons because they accidentally put one of the bag tags on the same bag twice and they didn’t have time to fix it. We looked like crazy people running through this airport, reminded me of the Movie “Home Alone” We get to the security line and they let us to the front, but it was crazy and unorganized too. In all the confusion, Jarrett left his neck pouch there that had his wallet and our next round of tickets to Miami. He almost started crying at this point. We didn’t have time to go back and we were in hopes that his parents grabbed it since they were behind us since Grammy had to be searched. We are in a full out sprint trying to find Gate 50 and of course it is no organized pattern. I am yelling at people, “Excuse us, Pardon.” I know we looked like idiots and we felt like them too. Finally, we see gate 50. People this is not like Tulsa’s airport, it is huge and confusing. It probably wouldn’t have seemed so bad if we weren’t in such a hurry.

Grammy and Grampy catch up to us right as we found the gate and luckily they had grabbed Jarrett’s neck pouch. Thank you Jesus! We made this flight, stinky and soaked with sweat. Our seats, of course, were in the back of the plane. This was not good as far as our next flight was concerned. We arrive and once we are in Madrid we book it toward Gate U63 and guess what, it is at the other side of the airport. As we are running again, we spot that we have to go through the whole ordeal of security again. We wait in line, some of us patiently, others of us not so patiently, and head through. Madelyn had an all out melt down when they made her put her stuffed Minnie through the x-ray machine.

We run, another all out sprint, and finally make it to our gate as “LAST CALL” is flashing above it. We hand the ticket agent our tickets and she says they are no good. Seriously, are you kidding me?????????????????

She sees the shear look of terror on all 6 of our faces, she looks at her computer and sees a note that showed up about us. She said, “Don’t panic, you can go.” Thank you God, we are finally on our way to Miami and it is only 11 am Barcelona time. I am on the plane right now, it is crowded, there are none of those cool personal entertainment systems in the front of our seats so we are having to try to keep the kids entertained, we keep smelling cigarette smoke, babies are crying, toddlers are running up and down the aisle, and I realize people in Spain must not use deodorant, because I keep smelling B.O. Oh wait, that is me from all the running and stressing today. I don’t know if we will make it home tonight but even if we get stuck in Dallas or Miami it is better than being stuck in Spain.

PS This has been one of the most amazing trips ever despite today.

PSS Don’t ever ask me to go on the “Amazing Race”:

Thursday, July 26, 2007


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Wee, Wee, we made it to France today. We are in the port of VilleFranche, the gateway to the French Riviera. It is a picturesque port, the prettiest one we have been too. I can’t wait to show you all pictures. It was another tender day and we got an early start. When we got the information about excursions from Disney there was one from this port that Jarrett was interested in, a convertible car tour of the French Riviera. When online booking started it was sold out immediately. We never booked anything else in hopes that a spot would open up. When we arrived last week I checked with the excursion desk and low and behold a spot had opened up. We were so excited.

So us and four other couples meet and were ready to go when we got news that they needed to delay us 3 hours because the cars had not arrived yet but we would get a 10% discount. We had already dropped the kids off so we went and explored Villefranche by foot. It had the cutest little shops, cafes and bakeries. We bought a baguette and sat outside and ate it overlooking the bay. We also walked on the beach, which instead of sand had tiny little pebbles. There were all these old French men bathing in the water in their Speedos that were way too small. Jarrett enjoyed the scenery of the topless sun bathers at the beach. He wanted to take pictures but I wouldn’t let him.

After our romantic stroll in Villefranche we went back to the pier and waited for our cars to arrive. The vendor arrived but no convertibles. She said there had not been enough drivers to get all the cars to where we were so she came to take us to the cars in Monaco. She just happened to be an official tour guide so we got a private tour as well. We arrived in Monaco and got our cars and maps. Jarrett picked out a silver Alfa Rameo. The guy in charge of the cars told us to be extra careful because this was the most powerful car. The lady that had driven us to Monaco asked if we wanted to see Monte Carlo and of course we all said yes. She said she would drive us by there because it is very hard to navigate your way there if you have never been then she would leave us on our own. The four couples decided that we would all try to stick together.

The Monte Carlo was amazing, every kind of expensive car imaginable was parked outside like Bentleys, Ferraris, rolls Royce, lotus, etc. Jarrett and I were in the last car and we got separated from the group when a Bentley got in front of us to be valet parked. We were a little nervous because we didn’t have a clue where to go and the roads aren’t like they are in Tulsa. We made one French man mad right out side the casino when apparently we did something wrong. As he was yelling at us in French we spotted our group and caught back up. Our guide left us and now we were on our own to figure out the maps and streets. I will give you a little background info here.

Neither one of us know any French.
Usually I don’t do well in situations where we don’t know where we are going. (e.g. Palermo)
Remember, we are planners and not good at spontaneous stuff.
We usually obey Traffic laws.

This tour challenged us in all these ways, but we had a BLAST!!!! It was fun trying to maneuver our way through the crazy city streets. At first we were following the other cars in our group but right away one of them got separated. We decided at this point it was survival of the fittest. There was no turning back. The guide maps they gave us showed us several different routes and itineraries but they weren’t the clearest maps I have ever come across. So they didn’t help us much. Our goal was to get out of Monaco; because it was crazy, and head up to the Grand Corniche (a high road that goes around the mountains and follows the coast ) We wanted to visit the medieval town of Eze, Nice and Cannes. We somehow ended up at a toll road at the end of Monaco which is not where we were supposed to be at and it said no U turn but there was no other way out. So we did what any other stupid touristo would do. We booked it across the double lane highway on the side of a cliff and got going the right way. That was only the first of many traffic laws we broke. We finally found our way out of Monaco, the first turn that we were to take was labeled a hair pin turn. The map said to be extremely careful because this was the turn where Princess Grace died in a car crash. We were the only ones in our group who saw the road and turned, we don’t know where the others went but as it turns out they all got separated and everyone did their own thing. Once we made it to the top road overlooking the med. Sea we observed breathtaking views of the water and the beautiful architecture. Tina Turner and Elton John have villas up there along with lots of other famous people.

Jarrett relaxed once we were out of the city and on these open roads. The car was a powerful stick shift and fortunately for me the roads were extremely curvy so he couldn’t let loose. He was itching so bad to have a straight open rode so he could drive fast. I felt like a movie star driving around in this car on a beautiful day in a beautiful car in my big straw hat in one of the most gorgeous places on earth. Will somebody pinch me please?? . Let me just say Jarrett looked hot driving this car. Is that ok to say in my blog???? You know what, it never bothered me that we didn’t really know where we were going and we didn’t have a plan. We were totally caught up in the moment.

We found the village of Eze which was extremely charming. We shopped in little shops that went up the side of a cliff which led to this old medieval village. It was really cool and once you reached the top you could see a panoramic view of the French Riviera. Next we made our way on some quiet roads with no traffic and eventually made it to Nice then somehow make to Eze again, then to Villefranche, then to Eze a third time. We gave up trying to get to Cannes and instead decided it was meant to be that we see Eze a lot. It was getting late and we were feeling the need to get the kids out of the kids club (what were we thinking), so we tried to get back to Villefranche. We could see it but we couldn’t get there. These streets are so tiny and hilly and have cars parked everywhere and let me remind you, we speak no French. We ended up in another part of Nice that we hadn’t seen yet and it was really pretty. Finally, we made it back to the port of Villefranche and delivered our car safe and sound. Come to find out another lady that was on our tour, the first one to get separated from the group, had an all out panic attack in Monaco because of the traffic and crazy streets. She told her husband just to driver her off a cliff. Crazy isn’t it.

The kiddos were happy to see us at 4pm. Aunt Jennifer got Madelyn out of the club for a little bit and took her and Ally swimming. She put them back in while they went on their tour called “Nice and Eze with Wine and Cheese”
Nicholas stayed in the club today with Nathan for a while. They learned all about Volcanoes and Crepes. They also had a lot of free time. When I picked up the kids I got Ally out as well and took them to our room. We let them order whatever they wanted from room service. They all sat on the couch and watched a Disney movie and ate. After that we rested and got ready for dinner. All we do is eat. We were the only ones at dinner for the first 30 minutes then everyone else showed up straight from their excursions. Grammy and Grampy went on an all day tour of Monaco, Eze and Nice. They had a great time. We all went to the show together. It was called “When Mickey Dreams” It was a Cirque D’ Solie type show. These shows are top notch. If you are thinking of doing a cruise I would highly recommend the Disney one, it definitely appeals to all ages. We would like to come back on one. I can’t believe it is almost over. We could stay longer, except I think the kids are getting spoiled. Ivan, our server cuts their food, puts their napkin in their lap, brings them non-stop drinks and their favorite desserts every night. There is chocolate on their pillows every night along with a towel animal. We asked Madelyn who was going to make her bed when we got home and she replayed “Flora, of course.” Oh, no sweetie, you will resume that chore. We went to the buffet one morning and Nathan just stood there saying we were not allowed to get our own food, Ivan needs to do that. Oh, boy it will be a reality check for them next week. We love you all, see you soon.

La Spezia

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

La Spezia, Italy

The kids were thrilled to go to the Oceaner’s Lab this morning while we left for Pisa. We woke up to cool weather, gray skies, and light rain. Very different than yesterdays 110 degree heat in Rome. Today we are doing our first “Disney Excursion.” We tendered to the port, which was gorgeous. There were beautiful mountains dotted with villas and a palm treed lined board walk. . We took an hour long motor coach ride to the town of Pisa. Grammy and Grampy were on this tour as well. Jennifer and Blake went on a 7 mile hiking trip to Cinque Terre.

We drove through Tuscany to get to Pisa. It was even prettier than I imagined, we saw some of the marble quarries that Michelangelo got his materials from. We arrived in Pisa with a million other tourists and made our way to the main square. The leaning tower was pretty cool to see, it really was leaning. We took the obligatory pictures of us holding up the tower. We also saw a beautiful cathedral and baptistery. Then we walked around looking at all the souvenirs. After the hour drive back to La Spezia we tendered back to the boat and retrieved the kids from the club. We then got back on the Tender boat so we could take the kids into the town. By now the clouds and rain had cleared and it was a beautiful day, and the temperature was very pleasant. The kids loved riding the boat. We found a park for them to run around in for a while then we walked along the pier and rode the tender boat again back to the ship. It was another great day! Busy, busy! We are starting to think we will need a vacation when we get home so we can get some rest. It has become a common occurrence for Madelyn to fall asleep while we are eating dinner. Bless her tired heart.


Monday, July 23, 2007

Rome, Italy

We had an early morning today. We grabbed a quick breakfast and headed off the ship to meet our private driver and guide. All ten of us were going out together today. I found a driver who would take us on “The Ultimate Rome Experience” meaning we would get to see a little bit of everything. We boarded a mini-bus after meeting Wana our guide and Mannie, our driver. I had requested a booster seat for Madelyn but instead they sent a baby car seat and she would have nothing to do with that. It was an hour drive from the port into Rome so Wana gave us a history lesson while we looked out the window at the beautiful countryside. However, I can honestly say I didn’t retain a thing she said. Her English wasn’t as good as Carmines’ and she talked really soft.

The first place we stopped at was a place to buy tickets to get into the Coliseum and use the potty’s. It was invaluable having a guide because she spoke to the ticket agent in Italian and got our tickets. This way we got to avoid the humongous line at the Coliseum ticket counter and were able to just walk right in. The toilet didn’t have a lid so you just had to straddle it and hope for the best. Not so hard if you are an adult but pretty difficult when you are four. Madelyn’s feet didn’t touch the ground, so I am holding her over this contraption and she is wiggling and saying she doesn’t have to go anymore. This would be one of our only bathroom breaks all day I tell her so she better go. She eventually gave in and humored Mommy.

We threatened the kids within an inch of their lives to not wander away from us. This is huge place and extremely busy in July. I seriously could not comprehend how many people were in Rome. It was the craziest thing. We were warned that the Gypsies, who picket pocket, were out in full force so be aware and watch your belongings. Between the stress of keeping the kids next to us every second, watching out for gypsies and the 110 degree heat I wouldn’t necessarily call what we had “The Ultimate Experience”

Don’t get me wrong, we loved seeing Rome and all the ancient buildings and learning the history behind it. It was just a little overwhelming. Nathan loved seeing the Coliseum and the guys dressed up like gladiators. We also saw the Forum, Trevi fountain (which was beautiful and we all threw coins in) the Parthenon, Vatican City, St. Peter’s Basilica, La Dolce Vita (this is where the rich and famous shop and hang out in little cafés) and a bunch of other historical sites that I can’t remember the names of. We were going to go into the Sistine Chapel but the line was several hours long and with the heat that was not going to work out. St. Peters Basilica was beautiful, full of amazing art. When we went to the Trevi fountain we stopped for lunch. We decided not to go to a sit down restaurant , instead we opted for a small pizzeria in a little shop in one of those narrow alley ways. We had really good coke and Pepsi and interesting Pizza. It definitely wasn’t Papa Johns. Next Wana took us to a great place to have gelato. (Gelato=ice cream) See, you are learning new things from this blog. It was so Yummy! We got Vanilla and grammy got chocolate chip. Nathan ate most of Grammies’ ice cream.

One thing that just amazed us about Rome is how old it is. Everywhere you turn is something historical. Nothing in the US is anywhere near as old. You could spend a lot of time there really learning and studying. If you ever go to Rome, go in the spring or fall when the weather is better and the crowds are thinner. The kids did great, nobody got lost and nothing got stolen. We are very thankful that the kids got to experience this ancient city and we will show them all the pictures as they are learning about it as they grow up. We got back to the port around 5pm and had a nice dinner and watched Ratouille on the big screen.

By the way, I think Jarrett and I have a least gained 1 pound per day. We are walking a ton but eating even more.


Sunday, July 22, 2007

Today we visited Olbia, Sardinia and we decided to skip it! It was beautiful but we needed a rest. So we slept in. Madelyn and I got up first and went to breakfast at Topsiders buffet and we ate outside overlooking the beautiful mountains. The boys woke up around 10, so they just started with lunch. They found Madelyn and I at the Mickey pool. I finally got some time to enjoy reading a book. Jarrett and Nathan explored the ship from deck 10 all the way down to deck 1. Nathan loved checking out everything and exploring.

The ship was quiet today as most people were off on excursions. Tomorrow is Rome which is going to be a long day so we really just wanted to take it easy today. We played ping pong together and Princess Monopoly. (they set out games in the promenade lounge) After lunch Madelyn and Daddy took a nap and Nathan went to the kids club. Mommy checked out Quiet Cove, the adults only pool area. I read and enjoyed the quiet. Our boat has 3 pools so it is never crowded. Later in the afternoon we swam in the Goofy pool and watched Nemo on the big screen. We got dressed up for semi-formal night, watched a fantastic magic show and spent some time hanging out on deck four as we left port. Jarrett’s mom and dad explored the town on their own today and Mary found a beautiful Tapestry. Jarrett’s sister and her family found a taxi to take them to the beach. We all had a wonderful Sunday.

Sunday, July 22, 2007


Saturday, July 21, 2007

Private Driver to Southern Italy: 500 euros
Lunch overlooking the Med. Sea from atop a cliff: 150 euros
Private tour Guide of Pompeii: 100 euros
Having a plan: Priceless!!!

Today we visited the port of Naples, Italy. This was the port that I personally was most looking forward to. Months ago as I was researching and learning about the different stops on our cruise I learned that Naples was the gateway to some of the most beautiful parts of Italy. Naples is a HUGE city but it is close to the most beautiful southern coastal towns in Italy. The cruise line offers all sorts of pre-arranged tours where you and about 50 other people drive in a motor coach to your destination and follow a tour guide who holds up a Mickey Mouse paddle so you can see them. Anyway, we choose to do our own thing so we could spend more time at the places that interested us and really learn about the places we were visiting. I found a private driver who would take me, Jarrett, Blake, Jennifer, and Nicholas (My bil, sil, and nephew) on a wonderful tour. Grammy and Grampy didn’t want to join in because they have all ready seen this part of Italy before. They stayed and got the kids to breakfast and the kids club then they went into Naples and explored. They also got wonderful couples massage today as a gift from all of us as a small token of appreciation for this amazing trip.

At 8am we met Carmine, our driver, out in front of our ship. (Now from this part on you must read in your best Italian accent) He was driving a very nice Mercedes Van. Carmine is a 26 year old Italian Man, need I say more????? The part of Naples we saw was very dirty and crowded but don’t worry we didn’t stay long, he drove us south toward Mt. Vesuvius. Mt. Vesuvius is a beautiful volcano that erupted in 79 AD and destroyed the famous town of Pompeii.

As Carmine drove us around he talked all about his country and his life in Italy. Very interesting! As we got further out of Naples the scenery got more and more beautiful. He stopped along side the road to let us take pictures. Unfortunately there was terrible haze because of the heat but the views were breathtaking none the less. By the way they drive crazy here too. Scooters weave in and out of traffic and the roads are very narrow. (Another reason I am glad we were not on a motor coach) People here are never in a hurry like in the states except when they are driving.

I could listen to an Italian Man speak all day long, their accents are captivating. Each time we would stop somewhere he would open the door for us, “Senora, let me help you.” (Accents people, accents) “Grazie, Grazie” “Let me take your picture, senora.” Ok, enough, I know.

We are heading toward a town called, Sorrento. It is town on the edge of a cliff overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. It is surrounded by olive trees and lemon trees and the most colorful flowers and bushes I have ever laid eyes on. OH MY GOSH, it is the most gorgeous place I have ever seen. No words can even remotely describe its beauty. Famous artists and writers live here because it so inspiring. If you ever get the opportunity to go to Italy this would be a must see place, you would not be disappointed. Carmine, took us to a place to shop. I bought some olive oil that was made in Sorrento. Currently, I have the Wal-Mart brand in my pantry. I have a feeling the stuff I bought will be better. Jennifer and I also got matching Italian leather purses. We shopped on this long narrow alley way where the people worked in their stores on the ground level and then lived above them. There was laundry hanging out on their terraces above and they all had beautiful iron balconies with the big oil lanterns (Lisa, like those ones we saw in Rosemary Beach last summer). There was a fish shop, fruit stands, clothing stores, cute little cafes, oil paintings etc. I found a beautiful oil painting that I wanted to get but it was 1200 euros. Way too expensive. We tried limoncello here, a lemon liquor. The lemons here are the size of basketballs. No lie!

After a while there, we headed through the mountains on windy roads to reach the Almafi coast. It is a breathtaking drive along the narrow coastal highway. When you look out the window you stare straight down into the med. Sea. We had a great time talking to Carmine about his country, I learned so much today. I really couldn’t believe that I was in this beautiful place. I just tried to soak every inch of it in. After driving along the Almafi Coast we ended up in Postinano, another gorgeous coastal town. George Clooney and Brad Pit hang out here. Part of the movie, “Under the Tuscan Sun” was filmed here. After shopping and paying $1 to use the potty Carmine took us up a road called “The Mamma Mia Road” to an authentic restaurant. He told us what Mamma cooks is what we will eat. As we were driving to the restaurant we saw a “touristo” who shouldn’t have been driving on this crazy street, she got too close to the side of the cliff and knocked off her Mercedes mirror. We were cracking up.

At lunch we had like a 20 course meal. There was so much food; Mamma must have been busy all morning. The homemade pasta was yummy. The dad grew all their own vegetables that are used at the restaurant. They even brought us home made wine. Our table looked over the entire town of Postinano and the Med. Sea. It was again, breathtaking. The atmosphere was worth every penny of the 125 euros lunch cost. They don’t tell you prices before hand, luckily they take MasterCard. At the end the meal they bring you more limoncello. Blake bought two bottles to take back to Texas. He wants to start a new trend. Ok, I just turned on the TV and low and behold what is playing, “Under the Tuscan Sun” and it is showing the part that was filmed where I just was today. Too cool! They even just showed limoncello.

Back to Blake, he was so excited about his limoncello purchase but he forgot to put in the van. He realized this partially down the hill and he told Carmine that he would run up the hill to get it. Carmine was saying, “No, No.” But Blake was already out the door and running back up the steep Mamma Mia road. As he did that we managed to block all the other cars behind us because there was no place for us to go. He about caused an international crisis.

We were on our way to visit Pompeii next. Carmine called ahead and hired a very good guide for us. (100euros, not cheap but well worth it!!) His name was Sasha, and we would have been lost there without him. Pompeii is HUGE, HOT and Dusty. A little background, when Mt. Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD the lava ran out to sea but the volcanic ash, and pumice, and sulfuric acid blew toward the town of Pompeii. It was buried under 25 feet of ash and pumice stone therefore preserving most of the town. In the 1800’s some archeologists started digging it out, they still are not done. How was your history lesson for today, class?

The first thing he did was take us to the “Pee Pee Rooms” I thought that was a funny thing to call bathrooms. He was able to take us away from all of the large groups and tell us about everything we saw. We learned so much from him. His dad has been a guide there for 45 years so he has learned from the best. His love for Pompeii was evident in the way he talked about the people and times there. He totally made history come alive and made this town real to me.

We spent 2 hours walking around Pompeii and now it was time to get back to the ship. First thing in the morning, Jarrett had mentioned to Carmine that we really wanted to try Pizza in Naples since it is the birthplace of Pizza but we knew at this point we did not have time to do that. We were a little bummed even though we were still full from the never ending lunch. Low and behold, when Carmine opened the door for us there were two boxes of piping hot Napoleon Pizza as a gift to us. What a great guy! This was just the icing on the cake for us. Needless to say, Carmine got a huge tip. He made this a wonderful day for all of us.

The kids had a great time in the kids club and Nathan even won 2 prizes during a Disney trivia game. We were all tired so after dinner and hanging out on deck watching the sun set I brought the kids back to the room and Jarrett went to see a showing of Pirates of the Caribbean #3. We miss you all, well kind of. Ha, ha!!

Tomorrow: Olbia, Sardinia

Friday, July 20, 2007

Adventures in Palmero

=Thoughts from Nathan:

I am going to blog tonight because I am wide awake because tonight I played at the Kids club. I asked to go there before I even got dessert at dinner. Mom and Dad said I must really love it there if I am willing to pass up ice cream. I got to play games outside on the back of the ship then I did the Flamingo Dance with cymbals. Then I watched Toy Story 2 until Dad picked me up. Tomorrow I am going to go back all day while my parents go tour southern Italy.

Today we made our first stop in Palermo, Sicily. It is a beautiful island with mountains and beaches. This was a do on our own day. So the big people decided that we should tackle the shopping in the city first before we headed to the beach. The city is very busy and filled with pickpocketers. Daddy almost got pick pocketed by a little girl but he was “being aware” and quickly moved his bag to the front of him. It was a super hero type move, actually. We walked up and down the same narrow side walk about 20 times, and I am not exaggerating. I about wore the tread off my crocs. I couldn’t figure out the point of all this aimless walking that the adults were doing, they never shopped, they just tried to get us across busy streets without getting run over by Vespas and cars. I even saw taxi drivers fighting with one another in the middle of the street. Mommy says that they don’t follow any kind of traffic laws here. Speaking of Mommy, this whole “experiencing Sicily” on our own thing wasn’t working real well for her. She was nervous, because of all the research she had done, that someone would try to steal something from us or that someone would steal us. Plus, she likes having a plan, and today there was NO PLAN!!!! Thus, creating confusion and disorientation, and a little bit of grumbling. Grampy kept reassuring Mommy that this was a fun way to experience the real Italian culture and it was an adventure. Mommy says she would like to save adventures for places where people speak English and she knows her way around.

After two hours of walking back and forth on the same street we finally found a bus station and got on the craziest bus ever. At first it wasn’t very crowded but the driver kept stopping and picking up more and more people. Some girl with hairy armpits came and sat on the same seat as me. The smell from all the stinky people was getting worse and worse. By the time we got to the beach there was about 500 people on a bus with 10 seats. Uncle Blake thought we were in Mexico. We were so excited to see the sand along with the other 10 million people that live in Sicily and decided to stay home from work today and go to the beach. I am sure the sand would have been beautiful if we could have seen it but there were people everywhere.

All of mommy’s frustrations left after her first glance of the gorgeous Mediterranean Sea. It was the most beautiful water mommy and daddy has ever seen. It was surrounded my really big mountains and cool looking houses. The water and our little patch of sand were fun to play in. We were not at a touristy beach; we were at the beach where all the locals hang out, another “authentic” experience. After an hour or so at Mondello Beach we decided it was time to eat. Mommy, Daddy, Grammy, Grampy, Madelyn and I decided we were better off trying our luck at eating on the ship versus finding a decent place to eat based on our prior “trying to find the bus station” adventure. My aunt and uncle were much braver than us and stayed in Mondello to eat.

We hopped on what we thought was the right bus to go back to the ship but the driver kicked us off and put us on another bus. My parents and grandparents totally looked like tourists, so the driver must have had sympathy for them when they got on the wrong bus. We had an uneventful drive back to Palermo and the bus wasn’t as crowded because every one was already at the beach.

When we got back to the Magic dad and I bee lined it to our stateroom because we were having sand in the swimsuit issues. Mom and Maddie set off for some drinks and time in the Mickey pool. At 5:00 we were in our room getting ready for dinner and we got to watch out of our giant circle window as we left the port of Palermo. It was so cool looking at all the boats and the island as we left.

Madelyn and Ally had fun meeting “Belle, Pocahontas, JoJo and Goliath, Daisy Duck and Goofy tonight. Madelyn has eagerly been awaiting her meeting with Daisy. Each character has a human escort to protect them from little kids, like my sister. Maddie saw Daisy from down a long hall and she bolted from my mom’s hand and headed to daisy like a bullet from a gun. The escort was behind Daisy and as he saw Maddie heading straight for Daisy he tried to jump in front of her but it was too late, my sister had her arms around Daisy and was hugging her like crazy.

After another wonderful dinner, where the beast and Belle did a dance, my parents went to a Magic show until Madelyn announced she was ready to go to sleep. By the way, I am being a nice big brother and letting Madelyn have the top bunk. I want to spare our neighbors her screaming tonight. Plus, I like cuddling up with mom and dad in the middle of the night. Ok, that is all for tonight. Tomorrow: Naples, will mommy survive????

Day at Sea

Thursday, July 19

Hello my sweet friends and family from the sunny Mediterranean. The weather is gorgeous, sunny and warm but not too hot!! The internet is very slow and very expensive so we probably won’t be able to add pictures at this point. Today was a sea day, and yes we made it to the character breakfast but it was ½ way over by the time we got there. The kid’s heads were falling over on the table during breakfast because they were so tired; it was 3am Oklahoma time. They tried to be excited to see the characters but it was hard. The characters danced around the room and the kids could go up and join in but Nathan, Nick, Madelyn and Ally just couldn’t do it. We should have just stayed in bed. Here is my advice if you are doing a med cruise, come in a day or two before hand so your bodies can adjust.

We were determined to stay up so we can adjust to the time change. We took the kids to the Mickey pool and slide first thing. They had a ball swimming and going down the slide all by them. Jarrett hung out in one of the black Mickey ears that are heated (not as hot as a hot tub, but warm enough) while he watched the kids slide down the slide. He laid down in it and stretched out because it is shallow and he was just relaxing and enjoying life until some 7 year old burst his bubble and told him he was too old to swim in Mickey’s ear and there was a pool for just grown ups.

After lunch we took the kids to the kids club for the first time. They were going to be making flubber. The only word to describe the Oceaners club is UNBELIEVABLE!!! This cruise is worth it just for the experiences they are having in there alone. We went to pick them up a couple of hours later and they didn’t want to leave. They were having a Hawaiian Dance party with Lilo and Stitch. Madelyn can officially hula dance now, it is the cutest thing. They will be spending a lot of time there I think. Jarrett and I went to work out and then we hung out at the pool while the kids were playing.

After mandatory naps (more for dad than for kids) we got all dressed up for Formal night and the Golden Mickey’s show. Jarrett and I ate at the adult only restaurant called Palo. It was fabulous. We had calamari, Filet Mignon, sorbet, pizza margarita, and to top it off the most delicious chocolate soufflé with vanilla bean and chocolate sauce. We ordered one to share but because it was so good we ordered another. Our tummies are already hanging over our pants and we haven’t even been here two days. We need to pace ourselves.

The Golden Mickey show was great! Nathan had the widest grin on his face the entire time. Nathan and Daddy hit the arcade afterwards and Madelyn and I stood in line for her to meet Cinderella and Minnie Mouse. She hugs everyone she meets and her eyes light up. I am so glad that she is the age she is on this trip. I thought she might be too young but she is doing great. Tomorrow is our first port, Palermo, Sicily.

Just an observation, but other cruises we have been on have been so crowded and lines for everything but we have not had that here. Disney really knows how to do things right, everything is so organized and well laid out. If you refer to previous posts you will know that I am a type A person and I really appreciate these kinds of things. They have so many fun things too do that it is hard to choose what to do.

Well, we are off to bed; Madelyn has the top bunk tonight so there were no tears on her part.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

We Made It!

We made it and thankfully so did all of our luggage. The flight to Spain went great. Nathan had a blast watching movies and playing games on his personal video entertainment system in the seat in front of him. He also slept the most of anyone. The flight wasn’t very full so we had room to spread out which was nice.

We were very excited to finally make it to the Disney Magic. Jarrett was the most excited to get to the room so he could unload his arms from all of the carryons he was burdened down with. He seriously looked like Clark Griswald from European vacation. He had a stroller, a small suitcase, a camera bag, a back pack plus a kid. He had to cart it around the cruise terminal while I did all the paper work.

The first character the kids saw was Mickey Mouse and Madelyn ran straight up to him and gave him a giant hug. It was the most adorable thing ever. She thinks they are all real.

The Magic is a very beautiful ship, it is a classic design on the outside and art deco on the inside. We love how it is decorated. It is very different from the Carnival ships we have been on in the past. It is not nearly as crowded and the service is unbelievable. Our room is on the second level, forward. So far it has been a nice quiet room and very smooth.

Day 1: We are having the time of our lives. After we arrived we ate lunch, explored the ship, unpacked and the kids took a much needed nap. Then we went to Animators Pallate for dinner. When you show up the walls are decorated with black and white animation drawings of everything Disney, as the night goes on it starts changing to color. We rotate dinner restaurants every night (but your servers come with you) so the next time we go, there will be a big show using the walls. After dinner we went to the “Welcome Aboard” show in the main theatre. The kids were amazed by everything they saw. I would compare it to a broadway show. Grammy spent more time watching the kid’s faces light up than she did watching the show. Isn’t that sweet?? After the show we went to the big sail away party outside. The crew got everyone dancing and our kids boogied down. It was getting late and Madelyn started having a meltdown and it just went down hill from there. So we stopped by Pinocchio’s Pizza got some food then headed back down to the room. The kids found their first towel creation and chocolates on the bed. They were very excited to get dressed in their new Mickey and Minnie Jammies for the first time. We thought putting them to bed would be a breeze since they were so tired. Boy were we wrong. Nathan started crying because he didn’t get to swim in the Mickey Pool and Maddie started crying because we let Nathan have the top bunk for the first night. Once they started they couldn’t stop, they were exhausted and so were we. There was not a single ounce of patience left in any part of us. We are six hours ahead of Oklahoma and our bodies are trying to adjust. I am not sure how we finally got them to bed but I know it wasn’t pretty. We slept alllll night and we probably could have slept all day as well, but Grampy called us at 9am to see where we were. We were supposed to be at Parrot Cay for breakfast with all of the characters at 9am.. Will we make it? Stay Tuned

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Day 1- A First for Madelyn

Greetings from Atlanta! We are hanging out in the international terminal at the airport, Nathan is playing with match box cars and Madelyn is coloring. Madelyn really enjoyed her first ever flight. She was awestruck by seeing the tops of trees and flying in the clouds. We sat in the very back of a very small plane, so our seats did not recline and we were right in front of the bathroom.
We didn't hear a peep from Nathan the whole flight, he was engrossed with his leapster that I confiscated over a month ago. Madelyn went from activity to activity, she about wore me out in the 2 hour flight. Wish us well on the 9.5 hour flight we have ahead of us. I think I am going to ask Jarrett to sit next to her and I can sit next to the quiet one. Let me put this in perspective for you, I did not even finish reading one US Weekly. But overall she did fabulous. We told the kids it was agaisnt the law to argue or whine on vacation. So far so good.
In the Tulsa airport this man stopped us and asked the kids if they liked the movie "Cars" Turns out he was the man who inspired the character "Mater" He was on his way to LA for an apperance on Jay Leno. Look for him tomorrow night.
You know my cruise books that I spent hours preparing, one got totally ruined when my water bottle leaked all over it. Jarrett and his dad are having a good time making fun of me. I AM NOT LAUGHING!!!
We just met some people that are on our next flight that are going to be on the Disney Magic. Oh, I love meeting new people. Ok, Gotta go chat.
Thank you Dad for helping get us all to the airport this morning.
Love ya all!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Packed and ready to go!

We are packed and ready to go! Can you believe all the luggage? Does it really take this much luggage for 4 people for 2 weeks. The kids are finally asleep, Jarrett is downloading songs to his IPOD, so far he has 8 days worth and I just got done cleaning the floors.

Madelyn had a pre-cruise break down after dinner. I suggested that she go play in her room with the toys she would miss while we are gone, (what was I thinking??) A couple of minutes later I hear sobs from her room. When I asked her what was wrong she said she didn't want to go anymore and just wanted to stay at our house and with her toys. She was also afraid that our house might burn down. (She heard Jarrett and I talking about giving emergency info to a neighbor just in case something happened to our house.) Note to self , Madelyn is always listening, so be careful what you talk about. After I couldn't calm her down I came up with a brilliant idea. Pawn the crisis off on Grammy! Smart, uh? She was able to talk to her and calm down right away. Thank you Grammy!

Ok, well I am off to bed. Please say a prayer for us for safe travels and good health. We love you all and we'll see in a couple of weeks.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Count Down Continues

Only 2 days to go......I can't believe it is almost here. Jarrett and the kids think the Disney cruise monster has swallowed their mommy. They are ready to have my full attention back. So they will have it in two days. I am going to try to enjoy and savor each moment on this trip with my family. It will be so nice to have time with the kids without other things weighing on my shoulders or the phone ringing or housework that needs to be done. We have a lot of fun things planned but we have left just as much, if not more time free and unplanned. One thing I have learned from all my reading and research is to not over plan when you are traveling with young children. I am hoping that they will enjoy the kids club so Jarrett and I can get some alone time. Disney does the kids stuff up big so I am sure they are going to have a blast.

Today I finally got my travel book done. Praise the Lord!!! Jarrett help me put the finishing touches on it, which I really appreciate. We even picked out some songs to use on our cruise DVD that Jarrett will be producing, of course. The boys got haircuts today and Gracie got more dog food, which she is very happy about. Tomorrow after church is cleaning and last minute packing. Monday is filled with dr.s appointments and tying up any loose ends.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


OH MY GOSH, only 7 more days until our trip!!! It is almost here, I can't believe it! The bags are somewhat packed, laundry is getting done and just a few more loose ends to tie up. (no nasty comments people!!!) We are all having to wear the clothes at the bottom of the drawers this week since the decent ones are all washed and packed. DO NOT JUDGE US BY OUR OUTWARD APPERANCES THIS WEEK PEOPLE!

A lot has been going on in our lives, so here is a list:

  • Nathan lost his first tooth!!!!

  • Madelyn got glasses!

  • My oldest sister had a baby, Carson Jacob, he is soooo cute!! Carson and Ty share a birthday!

  • My nephew Ty celebrated his 1st bday!

  • Jarrett and I celebrated our 10 year anniversary!

So, the sun finally came out last Friday. The kids and I along with some friends have gone to my parents pool twice and our family spent Saturday at the lake. We are trying to make up for the last month of rain. It finally felt like summer but guess what, storms rolled in last night, so now it is a nice, gloomy, rainy day.

Today I got up early at the request of Madelyn and her friend Kennedy and went to the donut store and got them donuts. Apparently, I had promised them I would get them donuts in my attempts to get them to sleep last night. I also promised manicures, pedicures, a new car when they are 16.......etc... WHAT was I thinking??? They just came and asked for manicures. Gotta go make good on my promises!!!