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Monday, March 31, 2008

Day 4: Seven Sisters Waterfall Hike

We had previously visited Grenada in February 2005 shortly after Ivan, a category 4 hurricane devastated the island. When you looked out at the pier at St. George's area, blue tarps covered a majority of the buildings. Grenada (pronounced Gre-nay-da; Gre-nah-da is in Spain) is widely known as the spice island. It produces vast quantities of cloves, cinnamon, and mace, and about one third of the world's nutmeg. Last time we visited, we walked around the Carenage Harbour, purchased a stunning sample of a star fish and conch shell for just $10 total!, and purchased some spices for my father.

This time, I wanted to see the inside of the island. So we ventured up to Seven Sisters Waterfall, about a 30 minute drive from the pier. Actually, it was more like an hour because of all the stops our tour guide made along the way (which I didn't think were suppose to be included in the tour).

By the time we get to our destination, it's in the middle of the afternoon and the sun is really starting to beat down. We check in at this little shack on top of a hill, pick out a walking stick, and head out to make a 45 minute hike to the waterfall. Now mind you, when I made this tour I knew it was another physical excursion. There were families there with their 8 year old child and an extremely overweight woman who I was thinking had no right even attempting to climb a ladder more or less a hill to get to a waterfall. Sorry if that sounded overly rude, but we soon found out that it was very true.

To get to the waterfall, you needed to be able to climb this...

and this...

And although it wasn't too strenuous for either of us on the way to the waterfall, I kept reminding myself that I have to do it again on the way back. And most of it will be uphill. But on the way to the waterfall, the overweight woman fell down part of the steep terrain. She was in good spirits when it happened and of course they made us sign a waiver, so there was really nothing she could do except laugh at herself.

When we finally arrived to the waterfall, the area was swamped with people. It was a maze just to be able to cross a little section of a stream prior to taking in the breathtaking awe of the waterfall itself. The waterfall??

Was not the Niagara Falls, but it was a very tranquil place to relax (without all the people of course). This short fall in front was about 10 feet above the water, and people were jumping into the water below (nope, not for me.) And there were the select few dumb people who climbed the second one, soaring 30 feet into the air (that's 3 stories people!).

It was a good thing that I had packed a few cheese and cracker snacks because we were starving yet again once we got back to the ship. We made sure to visit a few shops in the newly built Esplanade Mall, this time we grabbed nutmeg syrup, and nutmeg jam and jelly.

That evening we tried our luck at Blackjack, but I guess the dealer wasn't in our favor (are they ever?). We had some more laughs with our friends, had a wine sampling with cheese and fruit, tasted the ore d'oeuvres at midnight, and headed to bed around 2am. Tomorrow- kayaking in the mangroves at Bonaire!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Day 3: Roseau, Dominica

We docked at the pier of Roseau, Dominica at 7am, but our excursion didn't start until 10:45am. So once again we headed up to the buffet for some breakfast - oatmeal with raisins, two hard boiled eggs, and a bowl of fresh fruit. I wanted to make sure I had plenty of energy for our zip line and river tubing adventure.

Before signing up for this excursion, our friends were a little nervous but were excited about trying something new. We slapped on our gear, watched the demonstration about safety first, learned what we had to say when the guides shouted rum - "Punch!", and we were on our way.... or atleast we thought we were.

We waited at the rear of the group since there was a semi-obnoxious wedding party in our group. As we approached the ladder to start our climb up, my friend started to get really nervous. She forgot to include that she was afraid of heights!! Now was not the time to divulge this information! So her hubby and I climbed the ladder to see if that would make her more comfortable, but it was a no go. She decided to stay behind and just take pics of us along the way.

They said online that this excursion was not for the faint at heart or the weak... and they were right. This adventure was not just about just zip lines... it was about crossing 4x4 posts dangling in the air,

bridges with beams 2 feet apart that are free floating,

a tarzan swing (which was optional thank god!) and obstacle courses that I couldn't even imagine.

Although hubby friend didn't want to finish the course, atleast he was smiling half way through (shoot - he was the one who was really nervous about it from the beginning!)

Once I got started, although it really was very physically strenuous, I was having fun. Going through the obstacles and hanging on for dear life really built up a sweat. So when we finished with a long zip line over the river... it was a nice ending.

Next was river tubing! This was their dry month, so needless to say there wasn't much water in the river, just enough to get us going. However, every once in awhile you would get stuck off to the side in the rocks. Our tour guides said during the rainy season when the water level is another 2 feet higher, the rapids are really ferocious. There were times when we were just floating along in the river, with the calm breeze and the birds chirping in the trees, that it was extremely peaceful.

Even though they supplied drinks (yes, more rum punch, but this wasn't as good as St. Martin's) and fruit to eat after each excursion, we were starving by the time we got back to the ship. We were able to grab a quick bite to eat, especially since our second seating dinner didn't start until 8:30pm, and then proceed to take another nap (yes, we did these quite frequently mainly because we could).

The rest of the evening was uneventful, or rather unwinding is a better word. Next day, Grenada and a hike to see the Seven Sisters Waterfall.

Day 2 of our getaway

Our first stop, we arrived in to Philipsburg, St. Maarten and St. Martin. Only 37 square miles, or about half the size of Washington, D.C., the island is divided between the southern half (Sint Maarten) ruled by the Dutch and the northern half (Saint Martin) ruled by the French. It is the world's smallest territory shared by two sovereign states.

The first full day of our cruise really didn't start until 1pm because that's when our excursion started. So, we got to sleep in. And boy, was it nice. Although, I think I woke up a few times to find a clock, but apparently those aren't needed on a ship - so I had to use my cell phone. And damn if I wasn't blinded every time I opened my cell to see what time it was then.

We ordered room service the night before to be delivered to our room. We thought it would be nice to start our vacation with breakfast in bed. Why we had it delivered at 8:00am?? I'm not sure now that I think about it (oh yeah, we were convinced to go to a 9am soiree that our friends didn't even go to!). It was a good thing that we did though because the eggs sucked... if you want to call them that. So we got dressed and headed up to the buffet deck. I had heard a lot about the waffles and pancakes and made to order omelets.

After breakfast, we made our way on shore to see the local shops and find some of the infamous guavaberry jam. This local berry is a staple on the island to make liquors, jams, and sauces. Usually at each pier there are tons of shops with local flavors and always a duty free shop. Sometimes these shops are more expensive than if you decide to walk 100 yards away. So we decided to head for the "road less traveled" before lunch.

I always try to find local works of art or like I mentioned before, local flavors such as the guavaberry jam. Along the way, of course there are tons of duty free diamond and fine jewelry shops. Although these prices are remarkably better than in the states, if you actually go on a cruise just to shop for jewelry you have way too much money (unless of course you're searching for that stunning anniversary band to match your engagement ring). I? purchased a sea turtle bobble head and a larger one made of quartz and local woods. Although I think I got conned into buying it because I was his "first customer of the day", I'm still happy with my purchase.

We headed back to the ship for lunch and grabbed our gear to head out for our Shipwreck Snorkel Adventure. Even though the water was a little colder than normal this time of year and the waves were a little choppy, we had a good time. We saw 8 shipwrecks off the coast, got to feed the fish, and not to mention all the rum punch you can drink afterwards.

Although we didn't see much of the island (most of the shops are closed on Sundays and I had read that it was pointless to go to the French town of Marigot. Plus it would have cost us another $40 just to get there and back), I think this is an island that we would visit again in the future. Before we headed back onboard, we made sure to purchase some locally made passion fruit rum (with pieces of the fruit actually in the bottle) and coconut rum. I even got to try my french (or atleast what I could remember - for some reason spanish was in the forefront of my head at the time) and the best homemade crepes with caramel sauce I have ever had in my entire life!! Yes, they were that good!

That evening was formal attire for dinner and we met our table mates for the first time. Although we had originally asked to be seated with just the four of us, we were pleasantly surprised about our company. Scottie, a 6 month pregnant woman, and Sally, her mother were traveling from Arizona and had some wonderful stories to tell during dinner.

After dinner, we watched some horrible acts of karaoke, drank some more at the bar, and had a great time laughing at each other. The next day, Dominica and the zip line!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Day 1 of our getaway

Our day started at the butt-crack of dawn at 4:30am. We needed to be at the airport at 5:30am at the latest to catch our 6:30 flight. I had checked in online the day previous so everything went really smoothly at the airport.

Unfortunately, we were going around the world to get to our final destination. Our layovers were in Detroit, then to St. Thomas, and finally to San Juan. The last flight was a total waste considering it was only a 20 minute flight! But, it didn't matter because when we arrived in San Juan, everything was all right!

We made it to the ship in time for us to take a nap... and a lovely little nap it was! But, I don't think mine lasted very long because I was too excited to be back on a cruise ship that I had to get out of our cave-of-a-room (an inside room to help prevent sea sickness) to explore my many entertainment options.... especially, the food!

I actually investigated the children's activities and entertainment onboard the ship. Apparently, I was missing Little Man A a little more than I thought. To be honest, I wasn't worried about Little Man A... I was more worried about my parents keeping up with him and knowing how to pick their battles with him. But, deep down, I knew they would figure it out. Especially after I put together a "Little Instruction Book". See, they do come with manuals.... even if it did change after I got home (not because of anything my parents did though).

We finally caught up with our friends that we met 2 years ago on our 2nd cruise to the Caribbean. They were a blast to hang out with then and we've kept in touch enough to know they would be a blast again!

After a lovely dinner (where I didn't have to help clean up), we made our way out of San Juan sipping a nice Cabernet Sauvignon from the Napa Valley while watching the island of Puerto Rico slowly disappear from the balcony of our friend's room. The next day, we were heading to St. Martin/St. Marteen.

Stay tuned for Day 2 tomorrow!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

What a day A had...

I feel like Dr. Seuss writing that title. For those of you who are not familiar, here's a taste:

A is sad.
A has had a bad day.
What a day A had.

Have you ever had one of those days that were so horrible that it completely drained out all of your energy...including the energy you thought you had in reserve? That's the type of day that A has had so far today. Fortunately, he is rejuvenating himself right now with a long nap.

Today was A's 15 month check-up. As some of you mother's out there know, this includes vaccinations. Great. Hubby wasn't able to get the day off because well, he just had a week off. So, A and I drove him to the train station this morning and proceeded to his doctor's appointment. Fortunately, there were TONS of buses and trucks out this morning to keep A entertained in the back seat.

When we get to the doctor's office, 10 minutes early like they request, we proceed to wait 30 minutes before we are called back to get his weigh in. He was not very excited about this at all. In the past, he's been fairly cooperative, but this time he didn't want anything to do with the nurse. Even if she was handing him something that looked cool to play with like her stethoscope. He's continued to grow, by the way, in the 95 percentile for height (34 inches) and about 60 percentile for weight (26 pounds).

Then we had to wait another 20 minutes for the doctor in the room. This was a 9am appointment and there were hardly any other patients in the waiting room when we arrived?!! A finally starts to get comfortable again (eating Cheerios and Goldfish and sipping juice will do that to you apparently) and then the doctor comes in. He obviously didn't want anything to do with her either, but atleast her part is short and sweet.

We head out to the waiting area to be called once again for his vaccines. 45 minutes later, A is getting extremely impatient. Not only did he miss his morning nap, he can't really run around the waiting area even though it is big, but it's crowded by now. My only saving grace is that he loves to look at airplanes now (thanks to his trip to the airport to pick us up) and there are tons of military magazines in the waiting area. I start to get antsy as well and ask a nurse how much longer. Apparently, this sends some sort of red flag off in the back and actually gets the nurses back to work because 5 minutes later we're called.

Now, it's time for vaccines. The nurse proceeds to tell me that 2 of the 3 vaccines are going to be sub-Q or inserted just below the skin. Really?? Then why when she inserted all 3 vaccines did she target every single blood vessel in A's tiny thigh???

Fortunately, these little guys bounce back fast and by the time we are home, he's all right. May be a little sore, but he'll live for right now. As we are walking up to the door, he trips a falls on his knees and hands. Because of the thin pair of pants that he is wearing he scraps both knees. I get him inside, change his diaper and we calm down by watching a little tv (hence why I'm starting to fear that this child will be ADD). I didn't think he would want to sit still for another 20 minutes, but we find something that catches his eye.

Like my mother has found out while watching him, things can change in a split second. One second he's crawling around on the bed to another location, the other he's toppling over the side of the bed. I reach to catch his leg, but it literally slips through my fingers.

Now, not only does A have sore thighs, scrapped knees, and he's exhausted... now he has a bump on his head. It could have been worse... he could have hit his head on the side table when he went over the side backwards.

So, I'm really sorry I didn't share any pics from our marvelous vacation, but I'm just too exhausted myself. Needless to say, we're ordering dinner tonight. Hopefully, tomorrow will be better.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Return to Reality

Hello everyone!

We've returned from our luxurious cruise in the southern Caribbean.... and I'm ready for another one! A drink that is. Garçon!

From reading my mom's blog, Little Man A had a wonderful time with Gramma and Pop-pop as well.

Unfortunately, I'm still feeling the effects of the ship and haven't quite gotten back my "land legs" or head for that matter. I still feel like I'm moving from side to side and can't quite get my balance some times. For some reason, it's worse when I'm sitting on the ground (especially when I'm changing Little Man A's diaper or putting on his shoes).

So, I'm going to postpone my wonderfully detailed adventures of our cruise until tomorrow.

Tootles until then!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

See you on the flip side

Well, we're packed for our cruise and ready to go. I purchased a new pair of shoes and a few new outfits for the semi-formal evenings onboard. We can't wait! We even have friends that we met on our last cruise with Royal Caribbean whom we have kept in contact with that are joining us!

My parents come in tomorrow and with all the hustle and bustle of preparing last minute arrangements (getting my fingernails toes done), I am going to sign off for the next week! Can't wait to share the pics when we get back!

Southern Caribbean - here we come!!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

So much for my goal

I was really hoping before I went on our cruise that I would have completed Little Man A's First Year Scrapbook. However, there were a few glitches in the plan. The main one involves Sam's Club where I have my prints developed.

I went through his eight month and 9 month pics... there were quite a few. Since there were close to 25 photos I wanted to include in each layout, I looked at smaller size options for the layout. I didn't want to use a small square punch because most of the photos really couldn't be cropped. I found out that Sam's Club could do mini-wallets, which were 4 photos on one 4x6 sheet. The only problem was that I had to bring either the film or digital copies into the club rather than just upload them from the comforts on my home.

I went there with 2 separate disks just after dinner last Wednesday so I could get them developed in 1 hour while I was shopping in the area. The machines were down. Okay, since it was only 7pm and the club closed at 8pm, maybe the technician will call back tonight. Worse case scenario, I get them back tomorrow. Of course, traveling back and forth to Sam's Club every single night was not on my list of things to do last week. But, hey, I wanted to get Little Man A's scrapbook done.

Pictures weren't ready that night, so when hubby had off on Thursday to have our taxes done on-post, I had him stop by on the way home to pick up the pics. They weren't done. And the machine still wasn't working. And they would call when they were done. Argh!

So it wasn't until Saturday on our way to a birthday party that I get the call that the pics are ready for pick-up. Yeah! Sunday I make some errands in the area and stop by to pick them up and of course bananas for Little Man A. They? did wallets. Not mini-wallets. Double Argh!

I finally picked them up last night and let me tell you, the technician who practically knows my face as soon as I walk into the club redeemed Sam's Club for me. At first having these mini-wallets developed involved (46) 4x6 sheets with 4 prints on each. What was I going to do with the remaining 3 prints?? I know Gramma would love a hard copy of the scrapbook, but that really takes time. Not to mention it would cost close to $8 for prints I'm really not going to use. Jose, the technician, put the 46 prints on (3) 8x10 sheets. No waste. And cheaper. Only $4 for (3) 8x10 sheets! Wahoo!

And not to mention, if they were all portrait or landscape prints, it would make for a kick ass layout idea! I'll have to keep this one in mind for the future. I had tried playing around with the mac version of powerpoint to make my own collage, but it loses it's clarity and looks pixelated (?) when it's uploaded.

Well, don't worry. I'll be back on the scrapbooking wagon after we return from our luxurious cruise. I'll also start promoting my business as well. So, Kiki and Wenderina... if you're serious about me getting a scrapbook started for you, get in touch!


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

You're jealous, I know.

Last week, I talked about how I was dreaming of sand... as was Little Man A. Well, the countdown has continued and we only have 3 more days and a wake up until hubby and I are in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Then we'll be sailing to the southernmost part of the Caribbean with Celebrity cruises for 7 whole days!

Yes, I know. You're jealous. I can tell because NO ONE made a single comment from the post.

Just to clarify some things:

1. It is only going to be hubby and I.
2. My mom and dad are staying here with Little Man A.
3. He is going to have a ton of fun with them.
4. Hubby and I are going to rekindle our marriage.
5. And we will NOT be bringing back another "little souvenir" (last time we went on a cruise in March, Little Man was conceived).

So, "bask in the glow that is my glory" and be jealous. It's okay, really. I know you are. I totally would be.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Like Father, Like Son

Saturdays are fun-filled days here. Just what do we do on Saturdays? Well, for starters hubby is obviously home so it's easier to entertain Little Man. One main event that occurs on Saturdays is reading through the Sunday ads. We get them on Saturday and the paper on Sunday morning. Here are some great pics that I captured:

Aren't these priceless?? Little Man usually gets bored after 5 minutes of shifting through the papers. So after 15 minutes of him flipping through each of the ads, probably peering for trucks or cars of any shape or form, I was amazed he was still in the game. Looks like he'll be a reader after all!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Spring has sprung

The Vernal Equinox, or the first day of spring, may not be here yet... but don't tell these guys. Sorry for all you winter fugitives out there... but spring has definitely sprung here in the D.C. area.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Fumbling Around

We have a Canon Power Shot Elph digital camera that we purchased before hubby went to Iraq in 2003 (actually more like the "Wait and See program" while sitting in Fort Hood). It only has 3.2 megapixels, but it's a decent camera. Not to mention we can take short video clips for Gramma to see him while she's in CA. For the longest time, I complained about how it didn't take pictures very well, so you would always find me with the SLR 35mm. However, I think I finally figured it out.

My biggest complaint about this camera was how washed out the flash made everything. For example:

Poor Little Man A's eyes. And that was on red-eye reduction mode.

After reading the manual last year, I gave up and just dealt with the pictures that it gave me. Especially when Little Man was constantly on the move, like this...

However, having a digital camera does have its advantages. It's nice to be able to take 100 or so photos and just delete the ones you don't want aka. are so horrible you wouldn't even show Grandma.

The other day, it finally clicked. I was reading, but what else? Creating Keepsakes - my scrapbooking magazine that I have a subscription for the next 15 years or so. Anyways, in one of their articles about how to take great photos, with whatever kind of camera you own, I found the answer. My shutter speed was WAY too slow! So I turned off the auto mode, switched to manual, and upped the shutter speed to 400, not 50! This is what I came up with...

Beautiful, clear shots, that aren't blindingly harsh on Little Man A's eyes. Uncle C - aren't you proud?!?!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Why women should not take their husbands shopping

I just had to share this one. This is why women should not take men shopping against their will. Hope it gives you a good laugh!

After Mr. and Mrs. Fenton retired, Mrs. Fenton insisted her
husband accompany her on her trips to Wal-Mart.

Unfortunately, Mr. Fenton was like most men--he found shopping boring and preferred to get in and get out.

Equally unfortunately, Mrs. Fenton was like most women--she
loved to browse. One day Mrs. Fenton received the following letter from her local Wal-Mart.

Dear Mrs. Fenton,

Over the past six months, your husband has been causing quite a commotion in our store. We cannot tolerate this behavior and may be forced to ban both of you from the store. Our complaints against Mr. Fenton are listed below and are documented by our video surveillance

1. June 15: Took 24 boxes of condoms and randomly put them in people's carts when they weren't looking.

2. July 2: Set all the alarm clocks in Housewares to go off at
5-minute intervals.

3. July 7: Made a trail of tomato juice on the floor leading to
the women' s rest room.

4. July 19: Walked up to an employee and told her in an official voice, "Code 3 in Housewares. Get on it right away."

5. August 4: Went to the Service Desk and tried to put a bag of M&M's on lay-away.

6. September 14: Moved a "CAUTION - WET FLOOR" sign to a carpeted area.

7. September 15: Set up a tent in the camping department and told other shoppers he'd invite them in if they would bring pillows and blankets from the bedding department.

8. September 23: When a clerk asked if they could help him he began crying and screamed, "Why can't you people just leave me alone?"

9. October 4: Looked right into the security camera and used it as a mirror while he picked his nose.

10. November 10: While handling guns in the hunting department, he asked the clerk where the anti-depressants were.

11. December 3: Darted around the store suspiciously while loudly humming the "Mission Impossible" theme.

12. December 6: In the auto department, he practiced his
"Madonna look" by using different sizes of funnels.

13. December 18: Hid in a clothing rack and when people browsed through, yelled "PICK ME! PICK ME!"

14. December 21: When an announcement came over the loud speaker, he assumed a fetal position and screamed "OH NO! IT'S THOSE VOICES AGAIN!"

And last, but not least

15. December 23: Went into a fitting room, shut the door, waited awhile, then yelled very loudly, "Hey! There's no toilet paper in here!"


Tuesday, March 4, 2008

What inspires me?

Over the weekend, I was able to finish one more layout. While I was scanning these to upload, I started to think about the process of how I actually get to finish a layout. Hopefully, by hearing this process, you'll appreciate the final project a bit more. It's a little more difficult, for me atleast compared to Lisa Bearnson or other scrapbooking icons out there.

My first step is to take a look at my photos. I've already gone through the 7 month photos and determined what two photos I want to leave in 4x6 as focal points. Then, the rest are uploaded to be printed as wallets. This way, I can get atleast 12 more photos onto a double layout.

Once I have them at home, look at how many I have in portrait vs. landscape format, I search for ideas by number of photos. My biggest form of inspiration is Becky Higgins! This woman is incredible! She and Lisa Bearnson, the founding editor of Creating Keepsakes, have turned scrapbooking into a multi-million dollar industry. Becky's book, Creative Companion and Creative Sketches for Scrapbooking Volume 1 and 2 are my main source for layout ideas. However, sometimes I'll come up with my own just by looking at all of her ideas.

For instance, I took this layout ....

and this one...

and created these...

Take this photo as color inspiration from his shirt...

Take the last two layouts, combine, and eventually turned into this...

So, now that I've explained my process (not to mention the hour that I spent trying to find a font that matched the pre-printed "stud muffin"), hopefully these layouts will mean a lot more to you. Hope you enjoy. Let me know what you think!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Dreaming of sand

I think Little Man is getting cabin fever...and I'm right there with him. Unfortunately, it's still cold here. But this weekend when he handed me his winter hat, I knew he wanted to go outside. Lately because I'm just so tired of the cold, we haven't been taking our usual afternoon walks. It's just too cold, especially with the wind chill factored in. So instead of just walking around outside and letting him lead the way (wait, I still did that!) I decided to bring out a few toys.

He actually had fun digging up the mulch and putting it in his little bucket. This summer, I plan to get him a bigger set for him to play with at the play ground. They have a special spot with LOTS of sand. Not to mention, we'll be going to Orlando this October for a long weekend.

Needless to say, I'm dreaming of sand too. While listening to the request radio the other day, someone called in to hear Kenny Chesney's "All I want for Christmas is a real good tan". Now that's what I'm talking about - even if it's not Christmas time.

So, only 12 more days until....


Turns in to this....