Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day

I have the sweetest, most incredible, compassionate, loving creative Mother.  Early on I decided to be as best a person as I could be to honor my parent's lives.  My Mother and Father gave me the world.   From them I have two strong remarkable Grandmothers, who stuck with me as I fought the growing up process.  They gave me the sweetest person I know as my sister.   They gave me my biggest fan in my brother. 
My experience with my Mother and Father has made me who I am today. 

Today being Mother's Day,  I miss my Mom.  I have missed her every day of my life for the past 42 years.

Of course as the years have moved on, my 12 year old memory of my Mother has intensified.  She was beautiful.  She was loving.   People flocked to her.   Her life was not easy, she never complained, she did what she had to do and with a smile.   She loved her family with all her heart and then some.

Mom was one of four children and the only girl.  She was the second born to my Italian immigrant grandparents.  She was the center of their universe.  Her Brother's adored her.  She had a close relationship with all of them, she had a special bond with her youngest brother.

Mom was very beautiful.  Growing up, she never wore the same outfit twice to High School.  She married my Dad,  a military man at the time.  Mom had three children. 

My Mother was a very creative person.  Her house was always beautiful.  She loved to decorate it.   We had themed bedrooms growing up.  Not only that, we also had winter themes and summer themes.   Mom made Birthdays and Holidays a big deal.    

Mom welcomed everyone into our home. People met her, they loved her and wanted to spend time with her.  She was talented and resourceful.  She loved children and would care for and take in as many as she could. 

Our house was the one on the block all the kids wanted to play at, we had all the cool things.  We had a life size play house, a pool,  in the winter a flooded backyard for ice skating.

Mom sewed most of our clothes.  We had outfits for every Holiday,  we had couture wardrobes.  Matching shoes and pocket books, hats and gloves.

Mom loved pictures of us.  She liked to dress us up to take "studio" like pictures in various locations inside and out of our home.

When my sister went away to college, she wrote her every day.  I still have all the letters, and I know what a wonderful gift it is to be able to read my Mother's words.
The crazy thing is, when she wrote those letters, I was 10, 11 and 12 years old.  Not my best, sweetest years as I am seeing through my Mother's eyes.  I was at the, "I'm not going to wear" that stage, "you like it so much, you wear it" and "all my friends are doing it, your so mean, not letting me".  Grrrrrr, it was the age right!

I have come to realize that I strive so hard to be such a good person because I didn't like the behavior of that 10, 11, 12 year old in my Mom's letters.  I've also come to realize that had we had the gift of time, my Mom would have written me every day as well when I went off to college.  I know this, because I talked to my sister everyday of my life from when Mom passed away until the day my sister died.

There is a yearning so deep in my heart to have an adult relationship with my Mom.  It is the one thing I have always wanted but can never really have.

Last night pep talking myself into the right state of mind for yet another Mother's Day, I realized the most amazing thing.  My sister's greatest gift me me was letting me play an active role in her children's lives, and in turn, them letting me play an active role in their children's lives.  I spent some time thinking about each and everyone of them, Jason, Kristen, Mark and Michael and how they mean the world to me.  I started to think about the people they are.  They are each so different and wonderful.  I love them so.

My sister had four children, the second being her only daughter.  My sister and her husband "immigrated" to Western NY from other parts of the state.  Carol's children are "first generation Western New Yorkers".  Kristen is beautiful.  She is sweet and funny and smart.  She is creative.  She never wore the same outfit twice in High School.  While Kristen's life growing up was a good one, it is never an easy life when you lose your mother so young.  Kristen has taken it in stride, making the best of everything.  She doesn't complain.

Kristen has close relationships with all of her brothers, but she has a special bond with Michael, her youngest brother.  Kristen is the apple of her Dad's eye.   Kristen married Jeff, a military man at the time and a great Dad to their children.

She is a wonderful, loving mother.   She has three beautiful loving children, (her second is particularly loving :)  )   Her children are her world.  She is an incredible teacher.  Kids love her.  People love her. 

Kristen is creative.  Her house is beautiful.  Her children all have themed rooms.  She makes birthdays and holidays extra special.  Neighborhood kids want to play at their house.  Who wouldn't, they have a wrestling mat and bounce house in the basement!
Kristen is an exceptional photographer and it all started with loving to take pictures of her own children.

Kristen is my best friend.  Last night I realized that Kristen by her presence reminds me of my sister, by who she is reminds me of my Mom... and that yearning, so deep in my heart as been lightened.

Happy Mother's Day  Miss Kris!   I love you and am grateful for the gift of You!

                         Sadie loves you too!


Friday, April 5, 2013

No time for bedtime story tonight....

So lately I have been pondering our mortality.  Why, who knows.... or could it be that ~ the world is rocking, well kind of trembling beneath my feet these days.

We went out to dinner tonight with Tracy and Kosti and Kosti's Russian friend ~ Ksenia.  She is beautiful and oh so sweet!   Love her!!  I like Russians.  And sorry Kosti~mosti, she is taller than you ~ and you do look like brother and sister.

Well we are going to have to skip a bedtime story tonight.  Late night and if I start editing now, it's going to be 3am before I go to sleep and I can not do that! 

Sadie is already snuggled up next to me, waiting for Popi to join us.  So let's do a short and sweet ~ what has been on my mind post.  As I mentioned already lately I have been conscience of mine, Popi's and Sadie's mortality.  I have even started counting the days (Sadie has bad gas tonight and I'm not sure how long she is going to last in the room here ~ it is BAD!  sorry I digress can not help it, it's smelling like the Drive through volcano / sulfa mine of St. Lucia!   BAD).

Counting the days, counting the days.  What days? you ask....

I counted, I have been alive exactly 19,400 days. Wow and exactly what have I accomplished?  I am living to a little beyond my 100th birthday (somethings I know).
So this means that I only have  20,819 days left.... with so little time, makes me not want to waste a minute!   Have to start planning a few things... like working on my "bucket list". 

One ~ okay I know 2 things on it, first hanging out with 2 Russian's reminded me I want to visit Russia in the summer.  I like Russians! 

I also want to visit Alaska.  That has always been on my list.   Return to Florence,Italy that goes without saying.

I also want to learn and be fluent in Spanish.

I want to have a home with a pool that I can swim in everyday.

I would like to meet and spend some time talking to Colin Powell.  (he's my if you could have lunch with anyone dead or alive ~ who would it be?)

hmmm, I know there is more.... but I'm tired and that's all I can handle tonight. 

                                      Okay I will make a better organized list tomorrow.  Now, Sadie is snoring, time for me to go to sleep as well.

Saturday ~ Must be Barbados......

It's kind of fun re-living these little memories. I actually did write these journal entries  while on the boat, but I didn't do very good at editing them, so now what is taking me time is the edit process. I'm trying to pay attention to detail here, so this process is long and laborious.... yuck.

It's so fun to see who all is reading these posts. I'd love feedback! I'd really love it if you became a follower! And I'd really really love it if you spread the love and come find me on Facebook, and “Like” my page (Janet Cruz Photography).... just sayin'. I'll love ya back!

The point of this blog started out to be about my photography, but I have expanded it to how I see everyday life.... So ~ go “Like” my page! Please and come back here to visit!

Back on the Boat....

Saturday March 2, 2013 Barbados
We got to Barbados around 7am. We headed to the buffet for breakfast. Kosti can eat ~ let me tell you! He loaded up his plate with food. We all watched in amazement. This morning we noticed one of the young girls waiting on us was from Russia. “Elana” After talking to her we found out she was from Kosti's home town.... What are the chances? She was a very sweet young thing and a very hard worker. We have a friend. I'm not sure what it is about our Russian, he isn't always the friendliest. We gotta work on that.

One of the things I noticed, at every port our boat is one of four. 15,000 tourists converging on these little islands!!!! Caaa rrrr aaaayyy zzzzeeee! Simply crayze.

Mark and Maurya went on an excursion to some local Rum~maries (you know where they make Rum) ~ I'm not really sure what they call them. Distilleries? I like Rum~maries! We didn't sign up for that excursion....

We spoke with a few of the waiters/waitresses and they all recommended the “BoatYard”. They said that's where they all go if they have the day off and can leave the ship. Sounds like a plan.

Well right away I like Barbados....  First of all when we disembarked (how do you like that? Big word!) you could walk the length of the boat along this narrow cement walkway or you could take a shuttle bus to the port entrance. We chose the shuttle bus.
Once we got to the port, it was lovely. NO VULTURES! Barbados has figured how to keep them under control and keep the tourists happy. Once we got to the buildings all the taxis are behind a barrier in one location.  They have a security guard who kind of manages all of the chaos, directing people to taxis.  

One of the things we noticed is that all the ports we have all the same little stores... on each island~  Stores like Diamonds International, Emeralds International, & Del Sol.....

Del Sol has the greatest deal on Sunglasses. You purchase a pair,  & they are pretty nice glasses. Like everything with Del Sol, they change color in the sun. Not only that, but they have a lifetime guarantee. If you scratch them, break them, lose them or they are stolen you just contact Del Sol with your registration number and they send you a new pair. For free for life. You could break them regularly.... not on purpose of course!) and have them replaced each time FOR LIFE! Of course the Russian bought himself a pair only to lose them at the next Island.   Low and behold, they replaced them at the next store …. NO QUESTIONS ASKED. Amazing! Check out Del Sol. (of course we had to get our boys some.... Josh, Mike and Marky).

Off to the beach....We were loaded into a bus with a bunch of other folks going to various spots on the Island.   Eventful bus ride, almost had a woman brawl! Apparently they don't like taking ripped bills on the Island. One passenger tried to pay her fare with a bill that was ripped. The bus driver would adamantly not accept it. She and the woman trying to pay the fare really got into an argument, wow! Eventually, the bus driver drove off, not giving the woman her change because she gave her a ripped bill. Later on in the day the boys tried to pay the guy who took them snorkeling with a bill that had tear in it, they wouldn't take it. They said the banks don't accept American money with rips.  Who knew?  Now we do.
We got to the Boat yard! Nice beach. It had a very spring break feel to it. People were very friendly.  Lounge chairs and umbrellas on the beach. When we got there and looked around there were no available chairs. Low and behold a nice gentleman was getting out of his lounge chair, he and his party were leaving, must have seen us looking for a spot and waved us over! How nice. Front row to the water chairs. One for each of us, with umbrellas!!!!  Life is good.  Fun people watching beach.

Looking around it did seem like many of the people there were staff from the boats in port. It was a fun active beach with lots of “water sports” and toys. There was a big dock that they had a rope people could swing on over the water and jump off. Yup ~ you can figure out already what happened! Kosti made a b-line right to the dock to swing on the rope and jump in the water. Tracy followed shortly after.



There was an entry fee to get on the beach, good news is ~ it included a free drink. Drinks were good and they were cheap. Periodically the bar offered “free shots”. Of course the boys all made their way to the bar every time “free shots” were announced. And they weren't your usual shots in a glass. They were the kind of shots that the bartender stands on the bar and pours the shots right into your mouth. Kosti and Jay had their first “spring break” experience here!   I think they had fun.

Tracy and Kosti went snorkeling they saw a great sunken ship lots of fish and beautiful healthy turtles.  Popi and I relaxed on the beach....finally!
We did enjoy ourselves. Opps, time to go...rush rush rush to get back to the ship. We needed to leave the beach at 3:30. Tracy and Kosti got back from snorkeling at 2:50. \

We made it back to port in time, but then had to catch the shuttle to the ship! This
proved challenging. Jay and I stood on 3 lines and never made it on a bus until the 4th pulled up with a different boat name it.  We were able to go on that one, and it got us back to the Emerald Princess.

Dinner was dinner. Kosti scared the waitress with his honey and DEATH story. He is allergic to honey and in his strongest Russianglish he sternly says he can't have any honey on anything he eats or he will die, no “I am serious, it will kill me, like dead”. After he told the waitress this, she turned white and went right for the Head Waiter. He came over and helped picked out dinner for Kosti and suggested he pick out dinner for the next night as well so the cooks can specially prepare it ahead of time. Good news! No honey, Kosti lives!!

After dinner, I gambled away the rest of the $7 we had on the card. Big spender I am. Hey Jay works hard for our money! I don't want to squander it away on slot machines. Lenses maybe, but not slot machines... After losing my last $7 on our gambling card, Jay and I went to Movies under the Stars.  I'm not good at keeping tack of Mark and Maurya and Kosti and Tracy at night....  We'll hear their stories in the morning, I am sure.
"Movies Under the Stars"  is by far my favorite! I have to figure out how to have “Movies Under the Stars” at the Casa Cruz' Tiki Bar this year.   I'm sure there is a way. AND, I'm sure Jay will bring me a warm blanket, popcorn and milk and cookies! He's so good to me! The movie was very entertaining! “Perfect Pitch”. The Breakfast club of this generation. I highly recommend it if you haven't seen it.  

Another day, another Island. Tomorrow, St Kitts. Good night!


Thursday, April 4, 2013

Bedtime stories....and the world shaking under my feet!

Sorry folks, it seems lately that the world has been shaking beneath my feet and it's has left me lost...

I'm working on a comeback...I'm working on my attitude.  After all it's all about attitude right?    Change is good, all this change going on around me is shaking the ground under my feet.  A new world is coming...     Change is good.... Change is good....

Anyway, Kosti has been missing his bedtime stories, so I thought I'd get back to the habit of writing ~ continuing to post entries from our vacation... 

I left off on Thursday.  Next entry ~ 5 days into our great big boat adventure!

Friday March 1, 2013
Woke up this morning docked at St Lucia.  Lolly gagged around.  Ate breakfast at the buffet.  Got off the boat and was immediately descended upon by a bunch of “vultures” trying to take us somewhere.... anywhere... they all promised the best beach!   We ended up with Winston. Why? Small car, four of us.  I'm not sure how he was chosen.   We wanted to go to the hot springs and then to a beautiful beach. Winston and Tracy did some negotiating back and forth, settled on $140 for the trip and off we went.   Off we go.  We were in the car for an hour and half driving through twisty turney roads on the left hand side. Yikes!     
Stuffed into the back of Winston's car...

Kinda funny we've been rolling around on a boat for 5 days and here in this little car, driving through winding narrow roads, on this warm day, Kosti gets sea sick!  We had to stop to let him out before he shared the contents of his stomach with us.... At this point, we let him sit in the front seat with Winston.  In the front seat, he could hang his head out the window if he needed to.

It was a long long ride in a tiny car.  Thank goodness for the beautiful vista's,  they helped to make the  squished ride a bit more enjoyable! (maybe not for Kosti, but for Tracy, Popi and me anyway)  We passed the Pitons, (teetons, whatever..)  They are quite beautiful.  The beach we wanted to go to is at the base of the Pitons.

Our first stop, an active volcano, hot spring, mud bath.. Fun fun fun.    
Soufriere Volcano, St Lucia
St Lucia has a "drive through volcano" who knew?  Tracy of course!  Once we were there, the smell took a LONG time to get used to.  It was pretty bad. Spoiled eggs to the nth degree.  After checking out the volcano, we made our way over to the hot springs and mud baths.  That was kinda fun.  Really I think I'll be finding mud on my body for days to come!  Mud man group?  No!  Two thirds of The Church of the Blue Durango!

Our afternoon bath..... Tracy & Kosti  ~ Me & My Honey!
After we finished our mud bath and cleaned up, we decided we wanted to head to the beach...  beach?  Which beach?  We wanted to go to a beautiful beach with no tourists. Tracy had a specific one in mind,  his research showed this beach would live up to our standards.  Winston never heard of the beach Tracy was talking about.  He didn’t know how to get there. He asked  some of his friends, they said there was no beach where we wanted to go.   They said there was no way to get to where we said the beach is.   Winston has never gone head to head with evil Dr. Phil!  Guess who won.... 

Winston 1 ~ Evil Dr Phil 0
It was getting late, we wanted to get to a beach and back to the boat before it leaves. Good idea huh!   We acquiesced and let Winston take us to what he described as a “beautiful” beach.  Margot Bay. Pretty at first glance.   A bay, no beach where we parked ~ had to take a $2 ferry to the “beach”.  It turned out to be a small piece of land (asphalt really) with a couple of inches deep of sand.  Rocky water.  It was an all inclusive, older resort area.    We were there for about an hour and a half.    Kosti found Internet access and called Mom.  Yay after all this time, he was finally able to talk to Mom in Russia.   Of course Kosti, (our little fish) was the only one who went in the water here.   It really wasn't a swimming beach, but that has never stopped him!

While sitting on the asphalt beach, (there was more sand on the Dance Floor at our Wedding than was at this beach!) I spent time listening (being nosey) to the group of people sitting next to us.  They were staying at the resort.  My ears really perked up when the talk turned to a beautiful beach at the base of the Pitons, exactly where we wanted Winston to take us.  Our time was brief on this little beach.  Good thing as it wasn't a very comfortable place to sit and relax.  While we never got to the beach we wanted to go to on St Lucia ~ we do know that it does exist.... Jalousie Beach....

As I sat on the beach and dug in the sand.... after a couple of inches, I
hit blacktop.... No Kidding!

After a little while it was time to head back to the dock to catch the little ferry for part two of our crazy car ride back to the boat.   Well of course the ferry broke down.  How do we get across the bay?  We could swim.... really wasn't that far.  The ferry while it may conjure images of a big boat, really wasn't, it only held maybe 10 people.  ~ Not to worry though ~ Winston's friends not only owned the ferry and the shops at this beach... he had other friends here with a boat.  We all piled into his friends boat and off we went.  Seems like Winston has quite the racket here.

Popi Cruz on tar beach....
We clearly understand why Winston insisted that this was such a "beautiful beach" that we would want to go to.   Beware of Winston if you go to St. Lucia.

We made it back to the Dock with time to spare... what did we do?  I did have to use my special shopping coupons to shop, being such an "excited shopper" and all!  We hit a few stores, made sure we got all our "free" things as we made our way to the boat.

We all had dinner at Michelangelo's. A very good meal, great service. To top the night off, we celebrated our winter birthdays!  After dinner, I was kind of tired.... I'm not sure what everyone else did,  I headed off to bed.  To our tiny little box of a room.... to be rocked to sleep...and off to the next Island.


Well Kosti Good night!   Sadie Girl just curled up next to me.  Time to go to sleep.

Check back soon, I will continue the posts to tell you all about the rest of the trip ~ Then perhaps, the world beneath my feet my settle down and who knows what it will look like tomorrow.....          


Friday, March 15, 2013

February 28, 2013 ~ Antigua

Poor Carnival!   Well lucky for us last month we were on Princess! Back to adding the post from our first day in port!    

Swimming with the Rays!     February 28, 2013

Well they let us off the boat today!!!!!!(Oh thank goodness)

 This morning we docked in Antigua. I didn't realize that at each port, a local pilot comes on board to dock the boat.... A little boat pulls up next to our boat and a “pilot” jumps on board....  same thing happens in reverse when we pull out of port. I tried to lean over to see how it works, if he jumps on and off or if there are ramps.  It happens so fast, I can't see how they could use ramps.  I think he jumps! 

Beautiful Island. Unfortunately we didn't have lots of time to explore,  we picked an activity and went with it.

 We decided we would all go on the excursion to swim with the Rays. We got up bright and early, grabbed some food and were off..... lines lines lines.
Surprisingly it was a simple getting off the boat, then the line to board a bus and head to Stingray City!

We were herded to Romeo's bus. After a brief bus ride, which Romeo narrated so nicely, giving us a little tour and bit of Antiguian history and we were off to swim with the rays! Apparently more than 60% of Antigua’s economy is based on Tourism. We certainly did our part contributing to the local economy.
Mark & Maurya on the way to Stingray City!
Kosti & Tracy

We got to Sting Ray City. A lovely little area where they promised us all the rum we wanted and a swim with the Rays.  I must say, the rum drinks were very strong!   This was a fun excursion, but it was us and multiple busloads of people. ~ I almost forgot to tell you.... when we docked this morning in Antigua we were one of 4 LARGE cruise ships..... that 's lots of tourists!

 Line up for the bus, ride to Sting Ray City. Get off the bus. Line up for the boats. Line up to get off the boat. Line up to have your picture taken with a ray. Line up to get back on the boat and so it goes.

We did it. Maurya lasted a little bit.  Now do you know Maurya like we know Maurya? She doesn't like crawly, slimy swimming things... (she would rather face macheti man then go into the woods.....)   We're proud of her, she did get in the water to see the rays up close,  but once one swept up against her it was all over! She was back on the boat faster than Kosti finds bling to buy!    Have you ever felt a sting ray?  They feel slimy and like a real strong muscle.   It reminded me of when a strong muscular pitbull rubs up against your leg.   They let us pet, pick up and feed them.  (I drew the line at feed, a guy got bit as he wasn't feeding them right)  Did you know the male sting ray has two penis'   hmmmm and they (the male ray) are about half the size of the female....  and with 2 penis' you don't need that many males.   We had about 15 females to one male!   Even though there were lots of people there, it was fun! As we held the rays, they took a picture of us. Tracy bought his and Kosti's. Quite a profit margin! One picture per CD for $15!!!!!!! Wow!

We did get to snorkle around for a while on a nearby reef .... lots of beautiful fish.  Unfortunatley no one brought an underwater camera this year.
Made it back to town in time for lunch. Romeo recommended a great little restaurant, Hemingway’s, as Mark and Jay were in search of conch chowder. Found it while walking around town, but not without being stalked buy people trying to sell us stuff or drive us somewhere. Lunch was kind of a luxury for Jay, Tracy, Maurya and Kosti as  the food was really good and they could smoke in the restaurant..  If you ever find yourself in Antigua, stop in at Hemingway's ~  it's worth it, fun place, good food, nice owners! 

Hey, remember yesterday I told you about the “free-be's" we learned about at our "shopping" class … well we had to hit all the shops that Kosti and I had tickets for.  First one we hit up, Diamonds International ~ free charm bracelet and charm plus a beautiful silver like (operative word being "like") necklace.  Wow.... fun fun fun!    Then off to find Del Sol for our free beach bags that change color in the sun!!!! Love it!!!!!

Jay and I headed back to rest. Surprisingly, it was very easy to board.  It was kind of nice as we headed onto the boat we were handed damp face clothes to refresh ourselves.   Through security and back to our little floating home on the Caribbean...

Jay and I took a good little snooze, then headed out for pizza and a show. Not bad, a nice little show with a little bit of Gershwin.
After the show, Jay and I wandered around a bit, then we headed straight to what I really think is my favorite spot! Movies under the Stars to catch Batman, the latest one of course and what did I do once settled in? You got it.... I fell asleep.

Tracy, Kosti and Mark and Maurya had a little party in their room and ended in the night club where you can smoke and drink, woooo who..... livin' large!
Well people now that we are back in the room, time for me to go to sleep for real! Kisses Miss Sadie Girl! Check back tomorrow for more crazy funnnn...... has been a long long hot day and I am tired.    See you soon.


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

February 26 & 27th at Sea..... The Caribbean Sea....

who is driving this thing?

Where to begin.... the last 2 days have been..... well, they've been.. and they have just blended into each other as we sleep, eat, walk around, watch a movie, sleep eat.... I am bored, I am claustrophobic, I am tired of crowds and lines.... I'm not alone, Kosti has had a rough day or two getting used to this constant motion, and my dear Husband keeps telling me to make the most of it....

Yesterday I convinced Jay to get up early and walk with me. He is so wonderful... he did, it didn't work out so well!  We got up to the promenade deck bright and early to walk a few laps.  By the time we got there,  there were already people up there walking. As we did our first lap, some people came up behind us and politely said, “excuse me” to get by. Shortly after, someone came by and sort of brushed past us without saying ANYTHING! Okay.... Then a guy came up behind us and push Jay aside so he that could get by. Actually physically pushed Jay! I felt so bad. Jay decided he had enough of that after being brush aside and then actually pushed, so he started walking single file behind me. Now we weren't speed walking and I know some people are really serious about their exercise, but we weren't sunday strolling either...come on, no need to push!!! Walking single file with my husband was not fun, so what did we do? You got it, stopped for a smoke! And never walked again.

It has been 2.5 days on this boat.... with 3072 other passengers and 1500 crew.... I am going a little stir crazy... This afternoon Kosti and I decided we needed something and noticed they had a “shopping seminar”. Hmmmm, “How to get the best deals” shopping in the Caribbean. The Cruise Shopping Director was the presenter. How fun. Me, Kosti, Maurya and 200 other shoppers all piled into the Emerald Theater to learn how to shop. The first question our Shopping Director asked was, who is excited about learing how to get the best deals in the Caribbean? Guess who got a prize for being the “most excited shopper”... that would be Moi! Yes folks, Maurya had left us by then, Kosti was waiting for the real info and the other 200 folks were just not as excited as I was to learn how to shop for good deals! I won a lovely pearl necklace! Oh and all the free coupons and discount cards they gave us. At the end of the seminar, our Shopping Director (bucket list item.... I want to be a shopping director) took information from each of us about what specific items we were looking to purchase, promising to give us “insider info” at each port the evening prior to docking so that we could get “the best deals ever”. Yeah yeah yeah.....

We did head up to the pool to lay out for a bit, good news, not all the passengers had the same thought in mind, only half of them did. Believe it or not, it was impossible to find deck chairs together. If we did , we couldn't save them. Tracy and I did go to one of the upper decks at one point for a few minutes as there was no one there ~ only to find out it is not fun laying in the sun in a wind tunnel!

Jay has been trying to help me make the most of it by wandering and exploring. Last night we walked all around the ship. Yay, no one pushed us out of the way! We had a good laugh as we walked around the mini golf course. They piped in music with intermittent bird chirping. Was it real, or was it Memorex? Memorex! Then we happened to wander to the crew's area, deck and pool and stopped for a smoke!

This afternoon we hung out in the Piazza to catch a Juggling show!   We had some snacks at the international cafe and got some great seats for the “show”.   Team Blueberry ~ close enough~ one very friendly juggler came over on his way to the show and was chatting up Tracy. Not to worry Kosti was there to stand by his man. It was a good, hmmmm ~  5 minute show. Guess it was just a preview, to what ~ we're not sure *   Update  it's Team RootBerry!!!   check out their FB page!  Thanks Maurya!!!!

Today we caught the movie, “Lincoln”. Not only a great movie it also offered some relief from the rocking and rolling of the boat.   I must say it was fun watching the movie with our Russian.  Guess they don't teach much American History in Russian elementary schools.  He couldn't understand why Tracy and I were crying.... the movie didn't have the same impact on him as it had on us!  It was interesting that we all  found ourselves (except for the Russian, he didn't get the big deal) on the edge of our seats hoping Congress would pass the 13thamendment.     Wheewwww, it passed!  It was close!!!!

Tonight we discovered “Movies under the stars”.   Even though I fell asleep watching The Bourne Legacy, the comfy cushions, warm blankets, popcorn, cookies and milk delivered were a real treat... and all under the stars. It was very relaxing! All this fun ~ fit into 2 days!

Time to sleep for a while....  Dream about my Sadie Girl.... hope she is loving Jayma and Colin....                         

Check back tomorrow for another fun filled day.  Should be fun, we're getting off this boat for a few hours as the adventure continues...


Monday, March 11, 2013

Sunset February 25, 2013.....

Phase 3 and The 2013 excellent Adventure of The Church of the Blue Durango begins.....

Okay so before we get into my dilemma for the day ~ the dates are off ~ see yesterday's post.

My dilemma.... I have the most wonderful husband a girl can have.    I hit the jackpot when I married him! One of the things he does and likes (yes... likes) to do is keep up on the laundry. The night before our vacation ended, my honey washed all of our dirty clothes.  Believe it or not, there are laundromats on the boat. He spent part of the last night of our vacation doing laundry just so that we would come home with no dirty clothes. Priceless he is... I am telling you.

My dilemma is now we're home and I have two suitcases full of clean summer clothes and we live in Rochester! Do I put them back in the attic, or move the winter stuff out and put them in the drawers and closets or do I just leave them in the suitcases for a few weeks?   I know I know.... my life is pretty good....such problems!  Now back to the trip blog....

Monday February 25, 2013  Good bye Fort Lauderdale.... Hello Emerald Princess!

We woke up bright and early this am to meet Mark and Maurya at the ship. They got there around 11am, we decided we weren't going to get going until noon. Before we begin, let me tell you that we have been very worried about the liquor situation on the boat.

Our brain.... Tracy decided we would bring our own “wine”. Yay for Tracy. We brought 6 bottles of wine and 6 bottles of Champagne for my morning mimosas'!!! Notice the picture of some of our “wine”. When you see me ask where you can get  this“white” red wine..... k? K!  *  late breaking update it was the Russian who came up with the "wine" idea!!!!!!!   Go Kosti! 

Once we got to the boat a funny thing happened, they took our luggage and did not give us any "claim tickets".... how do we know we will ever see our things again? Everyone's luggage got dumped into large bins with the promise of them being delivered to our rooms. Talk about Trust and the Speed of it! We learned very fast we needed to trust the staff on this great big ship.... most of our bags arrived safe and sound in a reasonable amount of time. Maurya did have one bag missing for a few hours!

Luggage in bins and then, and then the lines.... Disney? No.... Princess Cruise. Check out the sign below that we saw while waiting in line....Talk about said...."escape completely". Who knew we would be completely escaping, unplugged and off the grid! Hello communication circa 1991.....                                   

While boarding took a long and I mean long time with 4 different winding lines, it did go rather smooth..... we practiced patience, the boys took turns going for smoke breaks.... people around us frequently inquired about our stateroom number. Hmmmmm could it be the case of wine Tracy was carrying on his shoulder that was attracting new friends?
And then, voila.... we were on the boat all safe and sound and no one even asked about our cases of lovely wine & champagne....not a peep!    We were late boarding only to find out there was a health inspection going on.... yay~ I'm all for healthy boats!  Guess what, it passed! Emerald Princess ~ Eastern Caribbean here we come.....

 We all made it to our rooms and then headed out for some drinks......on our way we made a group decision to purchase the kiddie cocktail cups for $7 a day for the 10 days. What a deal!   All the free “mocktails” we wanted, all the juices and milkshakes we could drink. Why we thought we all needed them is beyond me, but we did.... our “white” red wine goes great in “mocktails”....   But let me tell you these are some of the most expensive cups you could buy with those fun kiddie windie  (that is "wine-d") straws!  

Me & "the boys"

Our stateroom is right next to Mark & Maurya's. We have balconies. We're going to see if they can open them so it's one large balcony.   Tracy and Kosti are down the block! No balcony, no windows, they are going to have to think of ways to occupy their time in their room... I'm not worried!.

All in all it hasn't been a bad day, however I am feeling a little claustrophobic in this room. It is not a bad size but the ceiling is pretty low....

Maurya and the boys hit the hot tub tonight. Jay and I are opting for a relaxing night in our room....

One thing that I think is going to be an issue is communication.   No cell phones, no texting... and to use the room phones, everyone has to be in their rooms.... let's see how this works out.

Well I am going to call it a night and snuggle with my sweet husband..... who knows, I may get lucky! 

I know this isn't a very exciting post, but I there is excitement in the air. Check back soon.

Miss my Sadie Girl, but I don't think she'd like the motion of the ocean too much... who said on a such a big ship you don't feel the rocking. I'm feeling it! Ciao for now!


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Phase 2 of our great adventure vacation.... Fort Lauderdale with the boys

So,  dates may seem a little off here.  They are!  I did have every intention of blogging about our adventures as they happened.  However, we got on the ship and it was 89 cents a minute for the Internet.  It was a very slow connect and it would have cost in excess of $500 to publish all the posts while we were on the ship.... I did keep a daily log, now I'll put them up day by day and add pics!  

Sunday ~ February 24, 2013
We left Puerto Rico bright and early this am. It was a smooth and uneventful flight, and quickly caught a taxi to the hotel. Thought we came up with a “good” taxi. Turns out he was a smooth talker.... Oh well. He got us to the hotel, where we caught up with the boys, Tracy and Kosti. They came in yesterday and got the lay of the land. We were going to spend the day in the Everglades,  after haggling with our “good” taxi driver for a bit, then striking a deal for him to take us to the Everglades we were off. About 5 minutes into the ride, we asked one more question... it turns out he was taking us to a mall. Said he thought that was were we wanted to go..... Hmmmm, communication difficulty?   He said the Everglades was too far for the fee we decided on. So we decided to rent a car and drive ourselves and of course, he had a deal for us.  Once again,  too good to be true. We had him drop us off at the beach.... we need to remember to ask all questions and then one more when something seem to good to be true.

Our Russian.....before the honey!

Kosti took us to his favorite new store. “Diamonds and Doggies”. What a great concept! Two of our favorite things! The place was packed! Kosti fell in love with a little tea cup pup that he wanted to bring her home. We managed to convince him that she would just be a snack for Austin & Texas. Broke his little heart!
Beautiful beach, lots of beautiful people..... beautiful day..... time to head back to the hotel to get ready for tomorrow.

The evening was eventful as we headed out to the Mai-Kai restaurant for dinner and a show. Mark and Maurya arrived just in time to join us. Yay The Church of the Blue Durango together in Fort Lauderdale!   Dinner, Polynesian dancers.... fun. Well have you ever gone to dinner with a Russian who is allergic to honey? Take note here, this is a theme that I am sure will re-occur! Anyway, who thought, (we obviously didn't when we made our plans for the evening) Polynesian food includes honey in many of the recipes. Needless to say we had a very unhappy Russian at dinner. He did manage to ingest a small amount and did not feel good... And so we learn.  Dinner and the show wasn't bad for us non-honey allergic beings!
Back to the hotel to get some sleep and get ready for the am. Maurya wants to get the the boat early!

Adios! Stay tuned for the continuing adventures of the Church of the Blue Durango!

I do miss My Sadie Girl, but know she is enjoying her time with Jason, Carol and the boys.


Sunday, February 24, 2013

Phase I of the 2013 Adventure....

Well Popi and I had a wonderful phase 1 of our 2013 adventure!   We arrived in Aricebo on Wednesday and spent the next four days with Mom!  Glorious weather, delicious food & Mom.
Well this year there were no cats, but dogs, birds, roosters, and of course what would Puerto Rico be without horses, horses, horses and more horses.

Pictures will follow soon.  Kosti brought me his big boy computer this year ~ which is wonderful, but it doesn't have the program I need to develop my pics.  So we'll take care of that tonight.

Okay, back to Arecibo!  As always an adventure when we travel.  How exciting.  Mom has parrots, Puerto Rican parrots in the trees, flying by, visiting in the back yard.  That was new this year.  I had a great time helping in the yard.  Oh how I love to garden, for real in February.

Last night we experienced the newest thing yet.  Let me tell you Rush has nothing on Arecibo! Nothing.  Around 10 pm while watching TV, we heard what I thought was a little trickle of rain.  Nope.  turned out to be the locals going out for drink, about 50 of them on horseback!  Way to avoid DWI!

Well, we are onto Phase 2 of this year's excellant adventure.  I wanted to start and say, we're here!!!!  Me and the boys waiting for Mark and Maurya to start phase 3 tomorrow.

Can I tell you, it had better be fun, cause right now, I look more forward to going to see Dr Randy, my dentist, than I am looking forward to Phase 3 of the 2013 adventure!

As always, I miss the Sadie Girl!   I know this post is very boring, but I wanted to start somewhere.  We'll be back soon with pics and details as the 2013 adventures really gets underway...


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Another year!

Wow,  another year has come and gone.   I love everything about this time of year that has become a ritual in our lives.  It's the last few days before we make our annual trip south  to Islands of some sort.  I think I've lost count.  I have to go back and figure out how many years we have been doing this.   Let's go backwards and figure it out together.   Last year ~ Vieques, Cruz', Hendershotts, Cori....Arecibo(2012),  Year before, (2011) Culebra ~ Arecibo ~ same crew less Cori... Year before (2010) Cruz', Hendershotts, Garganos,  Jeanine... Year before (2009) Cruz', Tracy and... Chris and Marvin... Year before (2008) We got married and didn't make the trip!... Year before (2007) Cruz', Tracy and Ashley, Year  before (2006) Cruz', Tracy &..., Cori & ...., Uncle Aden &.....  Year before (2005) First Year!   Cruz' including Josh! & Tracy.... That was the year it all started and we lost Tracy for 7 days... oh my.

So there I have it.  This is our 9th year ~ 8 annual trips.... Wow.... what is really incredible is to look at time since that first trip and how life has marched on.

Well to take a look at the last year, we had a great ~ but somewhat sad trip last year and we said goodbye to Dad.  While we were able to spend time with him when we were there, we knew it would be the last time we saw him and it was.  We headed back down in April for his funeral.

This spring Josh surprised us with his announcement of enlisting in the Marines!  He did it, enlisted, finished bootcamp and is now completing his Combat training.   To say we are proud of him and his accomplishment and the future he has planned is an understatement.

The photo business is getting underway.   We already have 8 weddings booked for this year and I have two for the summer of 2014 booked.

And Sadie Girl celebrated her 13th birthday!  Go my Sadie Girl!!!!!!

Another year and we're all healthy and happy  and it goes on.  This year's trip will be something to write in the blog about I am sure.  Maurya has us all (Garganos, Hendershotts and Cruz' ~ aka The Church of the Blue Durango) going on a 10, i said T.E.N. day cruise.  We are going on the Emerald Princess...  Suppose to be a beautiful ship.   I don't know. Of course we're going in the wake of this current cruise ship diseaster with how many thousands of people stranded on the ship out in the gulf...

Okay, so I just needed to get back to the blog.  I'mmmmmmmmmmm back. 

                         Check back after the 24th of February to get the latest and greatest of
                          our excellant adventure.  Time to go watch Scandal and snuggle my
                          Sadie Girl and Popi... my sweet Valentine Popi Jay <3


Thursday, February 7, 2013

Blogging time

Winter is dragging on.   Thank goodness that means our annual trip to islands south!  This year, winter has meant not feeling well.  2013 will go down in history as everyone you talk to has been sick!  Yuck.   

As I've been sleeping, resting and waiting impatiently to feel better, I am so grateful for my Sadie Girl.  She has stayed right by my side for the past 3 days.  She knows I'm not feeling good.  I've always appreciated her love, but never more than now. 

She is calm, she is patient.  She curls up next to me and comforts me in her own way.  She doesn't complain.  She's my Sadie girl.

This year we celebrated her 13th birthday on January 22.  Wow!  My mind knows she won't be around forever, but I have been dreading that she the vet told me she was considered a Senior at 8 years old!  Ha... We'll give them "Senior" won't we Sadie...

Then this brings me to the fact that as our annual trip always does, it takes me away from my Girl for a few weeks.  This year she'll be splitting her time.  I'm sure she'll get lots of love and attention. 

Well, this year the trip I'm sure will be an adventure as always.  Jay and I head down to see Mom in Arecibo for a few days, meet up with Trace and Kosti in Fort Lauderdale and the Mark and Maurya to set out on a Cruise.  10. day. cruise.  Open mind, I am keeping an open mind.  Cruises to me is a large floating hotel.  I'm good in a large hotel for a day or two, then I've had enough.    Open mind.... I am keeping an open mind.

                                             Well, join us as we prepare for this years adventure!

                                                      Janet & Sadie Girl