January 27, 2011

Members only

We stayed in a suite on our trip and suite members have gold cards. Gold cards come with perks! We had access to a concierge (I was practically escorted to his office when I asked a question at the main desk), a lounge with special key access for espresso drinks and cocktails, a members only section at the pool, priority seating for shows, etc. On the last day of the trip we were invited to a reception with the captain in the Sky Bar. It was very nice with hors d'oeuvres and cocktails. Here is Hubby and Sassy at the reception - Sassy had at least three plates mounded with chocolate covered strawberries.

Here is the view of the pool area from the Sky Bar (back of the ship) -

And this is the view from the pool of the Sky Bar (circular) -

Special seating -
Special someone sunbathing -
We had a clear view of the ice carving demonstration from the special section -

It's an angel fish!
I wish the special treatment would have extended to post-cruise. We sat on a bus to transfer from Ft Lauderdale (where the ship docked) to Miami (where we flew out of) for over an hour and a half. I finally raised holy you-know-what only to find out there was another bus bound for Miami that left earlier (thanks for telling us that was an option). I made my displeasure known and before long we were on our way to Miami - our bus driver practically flew us there. We arrived exactly 60 minutes before our plane was scheduled to depart and thank goodness for the SkyCap because we just made it.
All's well that ends well. We had a wonderful vacation, I am blinding everyone with my awesome tan and I am willing Spring to arrive early this year. Back to reality.

January 26, 2011

New Word Wednesday #2

My mother reminded me the other day of a word my grandmother used often when asked how she was - copaceptic. Though in her later years she would respond "old, how do you think I am?".


- adjective
- fine; completely satisfactory; OK.

January 25, 2011

Mayan treasure

Our second stop was Cozumel, Mexico. We stopped there last year but chose to ferry to Playa del Carmen and spend the day at Xel-Ha. We planned to return to Xel-Ha, but this was the stop where Hubby and Sassy had their open water dive for scuba certification so Chunky and I decided to do something equally special. We went to Chankanaab National Park to swim with dolphins and enjoy a day at the beach.

Here is Chunky standing in front of one of the dolphin "pens" when we first arrived. We donned life vests and walked out to the docks and then down stairs onto platforms in the pen.

Our dolphin's name was Scarlet and she gave kisses.

I wasn't sure what to expect but they are super strong - here is Scarlet pushing us on a boogie board by just her nose on our feet!

They are really very sweet - it was a magical experience.

After the dolphin encounter we spent a little time at the Park's beach. Heaven! I had some sangria and guacamole while Chunky snorkeled.
We saw several different kinds of iguanas. This one was the largest, most colorful and a little scary.
This was my view once I confirmed Chunky was wearing a life jacket and the sangria set in.

This is my current screen saver.

Only one more post to go and you can say hasta la vista to the long vacation recap!

January 24, 2011

Close encounters

Our first stop was Grand Cayman and we chose to revisit Sting Ray City. Hubby and I were there on our 20th anniversary cruise 4 years ago (just six months following Steve Irwin's death). We almost had the opportunity two years ago, but were not able to tender at Cayman due to high winds. As expected, it was an amazing experience. The water is crystal clear (evidently explained by no rivers running from the island into the Caribbean) and the most beautiful color turquoise. Sting Ray City is a sandbar on the inside of a coral reef so it's easy to stand and move around. Legend has it fisherman stopped to clean their fish there so the rays would gather for scraps. Our guides had plenty of squid (thawed) to attract the rays and though we were the first boat to arrive, several others soon followed. The rays are everywhere and it's very safe so long as you don't hold them against their will or step on the barb in their tail. Chunky was tentative but we had talked about what to expect well in advance and he always had the option to get back in the boat (which he took advantage of liberally). Here are just a couple of photos:

January 23, 2011

Underwater adventures

Hubby and Sassy have been wanting to get scuba certified ever since they got a taste on vacation last year. I have no interest because: a) I am a wimp, 2) I have been blessed with sinus issues and c) someone has to hang with Chunky. Conveniently our ship offered a "level 1" course with half day class instruction, half day pool instruction and full day open water dive. This allows them to go down 40 feet assisted by a master diver. They both passed with flying colors which was no suprise to me as Hubby was a competition swimmer in high school and Sassy is an Aquarius (I'm not paying attention to the "new" horoscope bunk so will not check to see if anything supposedly changed).

The pool portion of the course was in the Solarium. I spent a lot of time here as no one under 16 is allowed (save for the occasional check in with parents of course), there are two huge hot tubs and it's very quiet compared to the main pool area (aka party central). Sassy was very intent - it didn't hurt that the instructor was a hottie from South Africa and walked around half naked.

Introducing my new scuba divers -

Hubby took this photo at their dive spot - very cool.
They are hoping to extend their skills and obtain certification for greater depths and the ability to go solo (no master diver required). They've even talked about going to a local aquarium to swim with sharks!

January 22, 2011


I'm almost caught up with my TV shows and haven't started my Finance project, but am all caught up with laundry, blogs I follow and got a pedicure. A girl has to have priorities. So here's part 1 of the long vacation recap. We started in Ft Lauderdale (by way of a flight to Miami and bus transfer - so we flew south, drove north and then sailed south), cruising to Georgetown, Grand Cayman & Cozumel, Mexico. Here's a photo of the map from cruise TV just as we were sailing by Havana (Hola Fidel).

All four of us stayed in a room and surprisingly we never felt cramped. We had great weather - sunny and 75+ every day. This was the view from our balcony the first morning.

The ship offered PADI scuba certification so Hubby and Sassy decided to seize the opportunity (more on that later). This meant Chunky and I were on our own for two full days. We had breakfast together and played a round of mini golf the first morning.

This is the most I saw of Chunky aside from our dolphin adventure the whole trip. He found a group of boys the same age and they shot hoops, climbed the rock wall and cruised for chicks.

This is one of my favorite places on the ship - the promenade. It had a cafe with coffee, pizza, sandwiches and pastries (all included), Ben & Jerry's parlor (nominal fee), gift shops, three bars and a flower shop.

There was no shortage of food. This is just one of the artfully arranged buffets they had to offer.

And when you needed to work it all off - there was Zumba every morning by the pool.

I really enjoyed watching from my lounge chair while I sipped on something cool. Here's what it looked like.

January 21, 2011

Reality bites

Cruising the Caribbean for 5 days does not suck. Returning to the arctic with -10 F temp totally sucks.

I'll give you the long and short of it. First the short. I overpacked, we are all gloriously bronze, Hubby and Sassy are now official scuba divers, we saw Chunky for a total of 5 minutes, we swam with stingrays and lived to tell, Chunky and I swam with dolphins, and I got hoppin' mad with someone who almost screwed up our return flight (which earned me props from a guy from Jersey as I may have swore a few times).

I will post the long version along with photos over the next couple of days. After I catch up on all my TV shows, read all the posts missed from blogs I follow and start my Finance project (in that order).

January 19, 2011

New Word Wednesday #1

To complement my path to enlightenment - see Yogi post - I am introducing a new weekly post about words we may not hear often, I think sound funny, are interesting to me, or I simply don't know.

This week's word is cogitate. My boss' boss used it in a meeting the other day and my brain immediately went into rapid-fire-I-can't-listen-to-anything-being-said-because-my-pea-brain-is-questioning mode - what DOES that mean?, why don't I know that?, did he mean 'conjugate'?, did he just insult me? I pulled myself together, wrote it down and here my friends is where you benefit from my ignorance -

–verb (used without object)
1. to think hard; ponder; meditate: to cogitate about a problem.

–verb (used with object)
2. to think about; devise: to cogitate a scheme.

—Synonyms 1. deliberate, reflect. 2. weigh.

January 17, 2011

Happy MLK Jr Day

“There is nothing in all the world greater than freedom. It is worth paying for; it is worth losing a job for. I would rather be a free pauper than a rich slave. I would rather die in abject poverty with my convictions than live in inordinate riches with the lack of self respect.”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

January 14, 2011


I started a 6-week beginner's yoga class and was finally able to attend a beginner's workshop last weekend (the previous two months' classes canceled due to weather which of course you read me whining about here). We practice Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga and I can already feel myself on the path to enlightenement (a girl can dream!). I was nervous that my various jiggly bits would interfere with me having a "full" experience, but I am downward dogg-ing and cobra-ing with the best of 'em. Last night we learned two sun salutations and I already feel tremendous benefits - I slept soundly, my back feels stretched and I am more conscious of my breathing. Look out world, a new yogi has been born!

January 12, 2011

Girl's got style

I had to laugh when I read Tobi's blog today and she quoted "Better late than never". I don't know Tobi personally - found here blog through another blog I follow - but I like her style (literally!).

January 11, 2011

D!sney on my mind

My grad class this term is Strategic Finance. I have a feeling I'm going to think Accounting was a walk in the park. We learn by studying an actual company and were give a choice between Hormel, Costco, P&G and D!sney. We collectively selected D!sney (though I think I voted for Hormel because they make their home in the arctic and I thought it would be fun to write something about Spam - I'm so mature). Our first assignment was to read D!sney's10K, an annual required filing with the SEC. It's kind of interesting but not a lot of sizzle factor if you know what I mean. Our next assignment was to "dig deep" and find out any information we could - financials, leadership, products, etc. We use Blackboard software via the University site to post findings and reply to others. I was daunted by the assignment when the instructor said she expected an average of 15 postings per person. What?! I'm supposed to spend all day looking up D!sney and talking about it? It hasn't been that bad - rather interesting and kind of fun actually. I'm not up to 15 posting yet, but close (12). I still have 69 hours to post. I may OD on D!sney by the time this course is through.

For anyone interested in following along -

January 8, 2011


It feels like a war zone around here some days. Sassy and Chunky used to get along so well - he looked up to her and she was very patient and nurturing toward him. Disharmony abounds lately. SCENE 1 - we are running errands and I ask cherubs if they'd like to pick up something to eat. Sassy says she just wants to go home and "fend" (this is what we call free-for-all-mother-does-not-cook-anything-grazing). Chunky says he wants Arby's. We're mere blocks from Arby's so I turn in that direction. Sassy demands to know why we're going to Arby's when she said she wanted to fend (ah, teenagers and their indignant self-righteousness). I offer her the opportunity to get out of the car in 9 degree weather to get a head start or wait until I go through the drivethru for her brother (and myself truth be told). Then she requests mozzarella sticks. Chunky exclaims he wants mozzarella sticks as well. I remark that mozzarella sticks are not a suitable, healthy choice for dinner then realize we are at Arby's afterall and what the heck, you only live once so compromise by getting them one order of 4 mozzarella sticks to share (how many times can I reference "mozzarella sticks" in this post?). I hand the sticks to Chunky and Sassy immediately demands that he pass them back to her (I will spare you the description of a previous scene in which they fought over "shotgun" seating - suffice to say Chunky won). I explain that I purchased for both of them and she acts like I just killed her life's dream ("all I asked for was one thing and I can't even have that"). Chunky says, "I just want one". She says "No, they're mine". I tell them in another second I'm going to eat them all. Chunky says, "I'll just have half of one". She says "No, they're mine" and starts crying. I theaten to throw them out the window and Chunky says "you can have them, they're not THAT important" and she grabs them out of his hand. It's like trying to broker Middle East peace around here. Then, every once in awhile a miracle happens. SCENE 2 - Sassy has two girlfriends over and they're talking about their brothers (the girlfriends have older brothers who both went away to college this year). The other girls talk about how they really look up to their brothers and how much they enjoyed having them home over the holidays. I'm around the corner so they don't know I can hear them and Sassy says "sometimes my brother is so cute, he's not that bad". My heart melted: a new year miracle!

January 5, 2011


You may recall that my father-in-law has been very sick. He basically has a bad heart and compromised lung function - small heart attacks over many years, triple bypass surgery, aortic aneurysm and COPD just to name a few of the issues. MIL ended up calling 911 on New Year's Day as he was having great difficulty breathing. He was congested, in A-FIB (which we knew already but was taking medication for) and needed to have his pacemaker battery replaced within the next 90 days. A few hours later he was admitted and the only plan was to get his oxygen up and the fluid down. Yesterday they "shocked" his heart back into normal sinus rhythm and changed the battery. He is scheduled to move to a transitional facility tomorrow to regain some strength before going home. He's not out of the woods yet and we fear this may signal tough times ahead. We haven't seen him since Sunday as the kids are back in school and the daily grind rules our world. I'm feeling guilty about not visiting - I'm hoping we can make a trip to wherever he his this coming Saturday after Chunky's basketball game. Never enough time - cherish every moment!

January 3, 2011

Memory lane, part 2

I recently read old brands are making a comeback. I attribute this to three things - 1) during a recession we tend to have nostalgia for "the good old days" (not sure how good they were, but my generations' memories are likely as selective as mine these days), 2) what's old is new again eventually, and 3) Mad Men. I have to admit I'm on the bandwagon. I was a sucker for the throwback versions of Mountain Dew and Pepsi this summer because they don't contain high fructose corn syrup and I liked the retro packaging. It got me thinking about my good old days and some favorite commericials:

Just think of how much money you would save on manicures if you used this

Most people think this luggage commercial is for Samsonite

Before Swatch there was Timex

Alka Seltzer remade a famous commercial with the parents from 'Everybody Loves Raymond'

I will forever be loyal to Bounty paper towels thanks to Rosie

I've never liked bologna, but I love this commerical

This is one of my all time favorites - my theme song!

Bill Cosby could do no wrong in the '80s, he was Mr America and the face of Jell-O pudding

The Steelers ruled in the '70s and this commercial was very popular

Please don't squeeze the Charmin!

Did you know Waco, TX is the home of Dr Pepper (as well as Ted Nugent and my alma mater, Baylor University)?

January 2, 2011

Memory lane

I have been searching for a particular song from the 60's for the longest time but could not recall the exact title or name of the artist. I thought it was the Scottish band Bay City Rollers (S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y NIGHT), but it wasn't. I discovered the band, Paul Revere & The Raiders - totally forgot this was their biggest hit - when I recognized an album cover from 1967. Yes, MPB I am old and yes you can use my senior citizen discount for lunch. At long last, I found it today! This is the song I was searching for - total cheese but it was in the recesses of my brain. There, now I've made space for something new.