Photos courtesy of Ryan Prouty

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Birthday Bash

I have to admit that I am a little embarassed to tell you all how we celebrated our most recent birthday in our family.  Gabriel, the baby that made me a mama turned 13 (unbelievable!) last Friday.  Quite a milestone for all of us!  We were hanging out at the pool last summer and out of the blue, Gabe says, "For my birthday (still months away at this time), I want to go on a the Carribean!" Now, I was impressed with his ability to plan ahead, but quickly apologized to him and explained he was born into the wrong family for such extravagance for a birthday!  A few weeks later, TravelZoo advertised a Disney special that allowed kids to cruise FREE...yes, all four of! The adult prices were not astronomical for the 3 night cruise, so we took the plunge and since we had several months until the cruise date, we were able to save up to pay for it! We also told the kids there would be no Christmas or birthday presents for any of them, instead a fabulous surprise sometime after Christmas.  We left it at that.  Needless to say, they were full of questions, but agreed to forgo their gifts for the unknown "fabulous surprise".  So, it seems quite extravagant and decadent, but, it was fabulous and probably once in a lifetime for Paul and I!  We had so much relaxed family time together just having fun, not worrying about what was for dinner, who was on the phone, who needed posterboard for an assignment, etc, etc, etc!  That was the most amazing part!  We did have a couple disappointments.  Paul and I were completely unprepared for the crowds.  Hadn't thought that one through.  There was virtually no place you could go for some quiet...except your tiny stateroom.  Though it was tiny, it was FABULOUS for sleeping.  We had an inside cabin (we are surprised they don't make you pay extra for the cave-like atmosphere that allows for sleeping in to any hour imaginable!) that had a tiny bathroom (Paul couldn't stand up straight in the shower!), a couch that turned into a twin bed and a bunk that pulled down directly over the couch and disappeared into the ceiling during the day as well as a bigger bed at the end of the couch.  Across from the couch was a desk and small flat screen TV that pulled out and swiveled. But it was all we needed!  My sister and mom went along with us and had the little 2 kids in their room just down the hall, so it worked out very well! 

I should back up and share the kid's reaction to finally finding out where we were going.  We made up several stories (that sounds much better than lies, doesn't it??) about school being cancelled for the day on February 4th since we didn't need to leave until around 9:30 am.  Pretty pointless to ship them off to school for such a little amount of time.  They were not suspicious, just excited they got to sleep in!  When it was time to leave, we slyly loaded the suitcases into the van and Paul told them the school called and the problem was fixed, school was on, but they could wear civies (a huge treat, they usually wear school uniforms).  Riley shed a few tears (he'll appreciate me recording that memory for him) and they hopped into the van.  Since we had to drive right by the school on our way, Paul pulled into the school for drama.  It was obvious school was in session and that we were the only ones dropping off at that time.  The kids were a bit confused.  Paul pulled away before any of them could get out of their seats and we told them we were leaving for our trip that day.  Riley immediately shouts, "That's why there are suitcases in the van!!" Gabe says, "What suitcases??"  We all cracked up!  We headed up to Jo and Mom's house to pick them up and they piled into the van.  We headed for Cape Canaveral.  The entire way there (only about 2 1/2 hours) I kept asking them if they had any idea where we were going.  Holden kept saying "Ice Skating!" every time I asked since we had to plan a hoax birthday party for Gabe that involved ice skating. When we approached Orlando, Disney World was a guess, but we waved goodbye to Orlando. Holden spotted a sign for the "Cruise Terminal" and asked it we were going on a cruise.  When I said yes, the van erupted in excitement!  Hoden declared that day the best day of his life and Alayna immediately stated her intent to tell her entire class where she got to go.  So funny.  Here they are waiting in line to board:

Boarding after a slight altercation with a health care worker who had to check me out since I admitted to having a runny nose and cough (of course I come down with my 2nd cold in 18 months just before we leave...), and then had a fever according to their thermometer.  Fortunately it wasn't so high that she prevented me from boarding, but she sat across from me with a clipboard and wrote  notes behind a piece of paper and made me very paranoid! We were then escorted to the front of a very long line of people waiting to have their photo taken (security reasons) and then were free to board.  Thankful for sickness sometimes!

finally inside:

Still in port at Cape Canavral, Gabe off the front of the ship...amazing view! He was afterall the reason for the entire trip!
I think most people on the cruise were there because their kids loved Disney characters or movies or both.  Don't get me wrong, my kids love movies, but they are not into the characters and had no desire to wait in line for Micky Mouse's autograph (YIPPEE), or anyone elses' for that matter.  We bumped into Snow White in the hallway and Alayna got her picture taken with her, but she was less than thrilled. I hope Snow wasn't offended.  Now, if she had been Batman or Darth Vader, I think there would have been more enthusiasm! Love the pose!  The next picture  was what really excited Alayna.  At dinner, her ketchup had  a special plate all to itself and was poured into the shape of Micky.  Ketchup...exciting...who knew???

There was a sort of welcome party/disembarking party on the pool deck that was ummmm not our idea of a good time...we'll keep it at that!  Lots of shouting people trying to get us to dance and sing...yeah, not our thing.  It was windy and a bit chilly for us up there.  Alayna and Grammy kept each other warm!

While the rest of us looked out at the water/port!  Hard to tell in this picture, but the action is all going on behind them and the water in front of them.

This is Alayna not getting her hair wet before dinner.  This was also one of the rare times there were not 40 other kids in the pool.  Yes, it looks crowded to the untrained eye, but trust me it holds a lot more kids!  It was crazy! No one could really "swim" around because it was too crowded!  Note the cloudy'll be seeing lots more of it in the future pictures too!

Now I am really out of order chronologically, but oh well. Too much work to move the pictures around in blogger anymore! This is Gabe on his birthday (it was Friday 2/5) with our servers Boneface from India, Leonardo from Peru, and Joao (don't know where he was from...he only visited our table briefly each night to make sure the servers were doing their jobs). They brought him his very own cake (vanilla with strawberry filling topped with fruit and a white chocolate happy birthday banner) and sang to him LOUDLY. He loved it! He was sang to at lunch as well. Quite the birthday! These were the nicest guys and they took GREAT care of us gastronomically speaking! Boneface had remembered how much I loved a dessert the first night and offered to get it for me from the other restaurant even though it wasn't on the menu our last night! I took him up on it!

Okay, that's all I have time to post today. Wanted to get this posted for family who are anxious to hear about our trip.  Will add more later! We are happy to be home, we just wish we could have brought the food and cabin service with us!


CihaPet said...

That will be a tough act to beat for future birthdays! :-)

Rikki said...

What fun! I think it's great you all got to go!! I am not jealous. :)

Richard and Becky said...

I am certainly not jealous at all that you were able to go on a cruise and swim at this time of year! What a memory though! Glad you had fun!

Erin said...

AWESOME! How fun! So glad to hear about your trip! Hope you are all well. Love, E

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the great post about the "birthday" cruise. We've been waiting impatiently to hear all about it. Looks as though the kids had a great time and enjoyed all that went with the cruise. Yes, wouldn't it be awesome to have the food and other extra's more often at home? I'm sure it would become tiresome however when we just want something else. Anyway, we're so happy for all of you that you had this opportunity and such a great memory. Love to all, G. & P. P.

Football & Fried Rice said...

I'll bet Gabe felt like a rockstar (I wonder what he'll ask for next year?!!) I have learned you cannot set the bar too high! Especially for the oldest - HA!!!

What great memories and fun times :)

happy Birthday to the TEENAGER in your house!!!

Stephanie said...

How cool is that?! What a great getaway! Glad you got to do something fun and relaxing!