Cruising Along

This year’s family vacation was a huge hit! We did something different and went on a cruise. It seems like each year, we vacillate between the beach or the mountains, and this time I suggested we do something different and go on a cruise. Marcus and I went on a cruise for our honeymoon and had not been on one since that time.

Marcus was hesitant at first for fear that Lucas was still small and too active to be on a big huge boat and it was unsafe. Now, Marcus is indeed right when it comes to Lucas’ activity level. He can be a force to be reckoned with and you literally have to come home in skates just to keep up with him. But I thought he surely is not the first 3-year-old that has gone on a cruise before, so I convinced Marcus to be brave and let’s take on the challenge of cruising with the kids.

I am glad we did. We had an absolutely wonderful time on the cruise and the kids enjoyed it as well. The greatest thing about the cruise that we enjoyed is that we all had our time. In one vacation, we had family time, couple time and alone time. We never get that. We all spent time together as a family each morning as we ate breakfast together and we would all do the excursions together as we docked on the islands. After we would come back from the excursions, the kids would go to Camp Carnival where they would spend the rest of the evening. This allowed Marcus and I to be able to have dinner together every night in the dining room uninterrupted. That was great! Then, there were other days when the kids would go to a special kids event on the ship and Marcus stayed in the room to study while I went and found bingo games and anything else that sounded interesting. I actually got back into reading while I was on the cruise and had a great time doing so.

We chose Carnival Cruise Lines for our cruise because of the great kids’ programs via Camp Carnival. They were open from 9am – 10 pm. absolutely free! After 10 pm, they charged a babysitting fee and was open until 3 am each night. Our ship was Elation and it was filled with about 2,500 cruise goers. We docked at Playa del Carmen (Cancun) and Cozumel and they were both magnificent.

Some of the highlights on our trip was Lauren snorkeled for the first time and both Lauren and Lucas rode a jet ski for the first time!! They were both more courageous and brave than I would have ever imagined.  Also, it was neat to experience Mexico and the beauty there. I wonder what it is like to live in place that is home for you, but just an attraction for millions. I wonder what it is like to live so close the water and on any day of the week, you can ride the waves, snorkel, beach bum it, or just see and hear the water. It sounds wonderful.

We had an awesome time and this will in fact go down in history as one of the best vacations ever.

Disney World Vacation II

Last year, we ventured to Disney World and that was our first return trip since the last time in 2006. So, this time we had two kids instead of one. We went the week of July 4 and I was nervous about that because the time of the year. When we went in May 2006, it was great timing because school was still in and the lines were not toot long. Well, we had a pleasant surprise because that week is was not crowded, but not to the extreme like I expected.The most we waited in lines were 45 minutes occasionally and the weather was in the high 80’s or low 90’s which was great for that time of year.

This time, we did Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, and Epcot. Some of the biggest hits for the kids were the character meet and greets, getting autographs, and of course the rides! Also, I think they had just as much fun with the water bottles with the misting fans as we strolled around the parks.

I was also surprised at the bravery of my daughter and son as they attempted to ride every roller coaster they were tall and big enough to ride. Lauren got on Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom with Marcus and was begging to go on it again as I got sick just watching the ride. I don’t know if it is my older age or just my nerves are bad….but I did not have any desire at all to step one toe towards those rides.

Also, while we were there Lauren celebrated her 7-year-old birthday and we had a small family party at our condo. We had cupcakes and opened presents. Then we all put on our swim gear and hit the pool for a relaxing afternoon. Then later that night, we took her to the Arabian Nights show there and she enjoyed it. Overall, it was a great week at Disney with good weather, good accommodations, and good company. Maybe we will venture there again in another four years. The kids will be 12 and 7 and those would still be good ages. You never know..maybe my pendulum will swing the other way and I will be the one in line at Expedition Everest. It just may take me four years to get my nerve up!

Camping Trip #2

We ventured off on a family camping trip this summer with some friends and this was our second time to brave this journey. The first time we went camping was October 2006 and it was a good  experience I must say.  I would not call myself a bona fide outdoors person,but maybe outside neutral. I love being outside in the scenery or observing nature, but I don’t like the bugs that come with the outside. And when it comes to camping, I do well except when it is time to go to sleep and when it is time to go to the bathroom. Yea…I know you must be thinking those two things are vital huh? Yes they are and they are not avoidable by any costs when you are camping.

Our camping adventure was at Indian Boundary in Tellico Springs, TN and it was an absolute gorgeous area. The campsite was nice and even ground and the weather was unbelievably nice for it to be mid-June. The scenery was awesome and we were surrounded by tall beautiful trees.

There were several attractions on site as well as in the area. We went to a place called the Lost Sea Adventure where we went on an underground cave expedition that ended in a sea. We saw some interesting things and it had a unique history.

We had a great time but after two nights I was ready to return to my home and my bed. The best part about camping is the closeness you experience with your family and the immediate disconnect you experience from the daily cares. Even though I am not Ms. Outdoor Extraordinaire, I can manage a camping trip for at least 24-48 hours. I am game for Camping Trip #3…maybe next year.

Chattanooga Mini Vacation

IMG_0383We ended up taking vacation later this year than we normally do. As a result, I was getting cabin fever and could not wait to go on vacation. So, we ended up taking two mini weekend trips to Atlanta and one to Chattanooga. It was a quick weekend trip to satisfy my need to go somewhere and relax. Here is the Chattanooga story…

In Chattanooga, we went to the Tennessee Aquarium and spent the day. We watched the IMAX movie, looked at various exhibits and finished off with lunch at Mellow Mushroom. The kids enjoyed it and here are some pictures of our adventure there:

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Atlanta Mini Vacation

IMG_0546We ended up taking vacation later this year than we normally do as talked about before. As a result, I was getting cabin fever and could not wait to go on vacation. So, we ended up taking two mini weekend trips to Atlanta and one to Chattanooga. It was a quick weekend trip to satisfy my need to go somewhere and relax.

IMG_0548On our trip to Atlanta, we took the kids to the Imagine It Children’s Musuem and Centennial Park. It was our first time at the Children’s Musuem and it was a great interactive spot that was relatively inexpensive and provides 2-3 hours of fun for the kids.

Gatlinburg Fun

Gatlinburg Mountains

Gatlinburg Mountains

On our recent family vacation that I have shared with you in an earlier post, I talked about our wonderful cabin we stayed in that I affectionately called our home away from home. It was a great, quiet retreat.

Now, I will take you on some of the fun things we did while in Gatlinburg. We took a trip to Cades Cove and drove around and got the chance to see two tiny cubs cross the street after their mother! We went to Ober Gatlinburg and rode the skylift to the top of  a mountain that had an amusement park full of activities. Also, we went to the petting zoo where the kids got close to the animals and then went on a pony ride. It was a much needed and much enjoyed trip!

Our Home in Gatlinburg

Gatlinburg Falls Entrance

Gatlinburg Falls Entrance

The family recently took a trip to the Gatlinburg Mountains for vacation and we had an awesome time.  It was the 4th time Marcus and I have gone since we have been married and we stayed at Gatlinburg Falls Resort for the 2nd time. It is a wonderful cabin resort that we have vowed to stay at from here on out. We had a 1 bedroom cabin named Foolin” Around and it was complete with every amenity you could imagine.

Foolin' Around Cabin

Foolin' Around Cabin

We had a full kitchen, washer/dryer combination, 3 DVD players, hot tub, inside jacuzzi, BBQ grills, nice porch deck with rocking chairs. And for entertainment, we had a pool table, air hockey, and three sets of video arcade games complete with Galaga and Ms. Pac Man to name a few. Yes, all of this was inside our cabin!

Although we had a 1 bedroom, the cabin actually sleeps 8. We had a king size bed,2 queen sofa sleepers and a set of twin bunk beds. It is a perfect cabin for families with small children. They also have cabins as big as 18 rooms that sleeps 60+ plus people which would be perfect for a family reunion. It is a nice “home away from home.”

Kitchen

Kitchen

Pool table area

Pool table area

Living Area

Living Area