Well, we got home from our cruise last night. Actually, early this morning at about 1:30 our time. What a fabulous time we had! The ship was wonderful, the ports were all gorgeous, and the weather couldn't have been any better if we had ordered it from a catalog! Not a drop of rain, and while it was quite humid, it wasn't ever too hot or too cold. What a great way to celebrate a milestone anniversary. Here we are at the departure party. It was very odd to be among all these happy people when we had just lost our last remaining parent less than a week ago, but we decided to make the best of it and try to enjoy our anniversary. There was nothing more we could do, and it was nice after such a difficult couple of weeks to have a little time to relax and process things a bit.
I've already downloaded a few of my pictures, but I've got a few more to develop off the underwater cameras we purchased. Here is our beautiful stateroom. I was so happy we paid a bit extra to get the balcony room. I enjoyed that balcony more than anything. I just loved to sit out there and watch the peace of the ocean in the morning. Then in the evenings, I could leave the door open and listen to the rhythm of the ocean to lull us to sleep. I know some people don't like the motion of the ship, but to me it's very soothing and I sleep like a baby on board.
I wish I could say that the ship was just gorgeous, but actually I thought it was kind of ugly. I mean, I could tell where they had put all the fancy touches on it, but it just wasn't my taste I guess. Lots of weird reddish marble and fake roman architecture. I thought this sculpture in the dining room was kind of pretty though.
Naturally, all the food was really fabulous and a LOT of it. I'm too ashamed to tell you how much I gained, but it's pretty awful. The bad part is that I've been completing starving since we left the ship. It doesn't take your body very long to get accustomed to a constant, never-ending supply of great food! Back to Weight Watchers I go and see if I can undo the damage....
Look at this gorgeous harbor in San Juan. All the ports were just gorgeous and that beautiful turquoise water really has to be seen to be believed. And look at these pretty pastel colored condos near Atlantis. We saw lots of really pretty houses like that.
Some things I thought were pretty funny, like this Pizza Hut in Saint Thomas. I was so surprised to see so many familiar stores there - Home Depot, Starbucks, McDonald's, and even K-Mart. I think my favorite sign was the "Don't Feed the Iguanas" one. It makes sense when you see how many iguanas there are hanging around. They were hanging around in all the trees and walking around the sidewalks all over the place. In Florida too, you could see dozens of them sunning themselves by the side of the road.
I discovered that my favorite thing to see are the natural wonders. I spent about half the cruise peering over the side looking for dolphins. Sadly, I never saw any and it really frustrated me to know that all that cool stuff was going on just below the surface and I couldn't see it. However, I did get to see some of it up close and personal on our excursions. We got to snorkle in a pool full of stingrays (with stingers intact - yikes!) and got to feed them. We got to pet sharks, starfish, sea cucumbers, and abalones. We saw 15 foot manta rays, tons of beautiful fish, a whole tank full of lobsters and sharks, and got to ride on a swamp boat through a swamp full of snakes, alligators, and beautiful cranes.
I was really proud of myself. I don't swim well and I have a serious fear of water on my face, so it took a bit of extra courage on my part to actually get in the water and try my hand at snorkeling. I wasn't particularly afraid of the creatures, but I had a few panic moments there with the water. Just when I would get brave enough to lean over and put my face in the water, a big wave would come and splash me and I would freak out a little. I did a bit better with the Helmet Dive. They actually put a big helmet over your head and shoulders and then lower you down into about 10 feet of water to walk around with the fish. They were very patient with me and let me take a few extra minutes to actually get up the nerve to let the water close over my head. But I had a death grip of the guide chain and I made Tony stay right next to me.
All in all, it was a really magical vacation and we were sad to leave. We would rather not have done it right after a funeral, but if it had to be, it was a good way to recover and put things into perspective for us and I'm sure Dad would have wanted it that way.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Well, I'm sure you're all wanting to hear the rest of the story. Sadly, it didn't have a happy ending. Per Dad's written directive and express wishes, he was removed from life support on Sunday morning and he passed away peacefully soon afterwards. He never totally regained consciousness, but we think he was aware that his son and daughter and grandson were there.
So, the boys and I flew out there on Monday to help prepare for the viewing and funeral. Like all funerals, it had it's good times and it's sad times. We laughed a lot, remembering things about his life and jokes he'd played on people, and we spent a lot of sad time, realizing how much he will be missed and how many people will miss him. They had lived in the same house for 44 years, so the neighbors were more family than neighbors. Most of them came over after the service and we had a good couple of hours reminiscing with them.
Here's a great picture of Mom and Dad from better days when they were both healthy and happy. This was his retirement party when he retired from the railroad police. I used it for the front of the funeral programs I made up. I thought it was fitting as our greatest hope is that they are happy and together again at last.
The business end of things is waiting to be taken care of. There are death certificates to get and papers to file, a house to be cleared out and sold, and all the usual hassles of death, but for now we have a breather. We are going to go out one last time during Easter vacation and do what needs to be done. Having already gone through this with my Mother's house, I'm not looking forward to it at all, but thankfully Dad wasn't a pack rat like she was, so it shouldn't be any harder than usual.
We did decide to go ahead with the cruise. At first, it seemed like a very strange idea, to go off and have a fancy vacation 48 hours after a funeral, but the more we think about it, it sounds wonderful to get away, have a change of scene, and think about something else for a change.
Now the trick is to just get out of here. We came home last night to probably the worst snow storm we've had all year. They are actually delaying the start of school by two hours so they can dig out the school grounds. Since we didn't get home until 2:00 in the morning after our flight was delayed by several hours, that was good news because we could scoot Blake back off to bed. Since it's Valentine's Day, there was no way he would hear of missing school today. Wish I could go back to bed, but I've got a LOT to do to get ready for the cruise. We head for Miami at 4:00 tomorrow morning. I'm sure I'll have some happier stuff to post when I get back.
Posted by Adrian's Crazy Life at 7:54 AM
Friday, February 8, 2008
This has been a rough week for our family. Last week, we got the news that my 80 year old father-in-law had been admitted to the hospital. At first, we weren't too concerned. Both of my husband's parents have had so many medical issues over the years that trips to the hospital have been pretty common over the years.
However, it is becoming clear that this is not a typical hospital stay for him. Over the past week, we have learned that he has had multiple heart attacks, very severe pneumonia, and his organs are starting to fail. The outlook is not positive and on Tuesday, I put my husband on a plane for California.
Needless to say, I am just devastated. This dear man has been part of my family for the last 25 years and we're all really crazy about him. Not to mention that he is our only remaining parent.
I hate this whole "sandwich generation" thing. It's hard enough to try and raise your kids without going through the loss of a parent every few years. Each time, it changes you in such profound ways.
Obviously, the cruise we had planned next week is out of the question. Even if Dad did rally a bit and start showing some improvement, his health is far too fragile for us to consider leaving the country. Thank heavens we bought travel insurance. Maybe we'll try it again in a couple of months. It's a big sacrifice, but I'd give all the cruises in the world if we could get him healthy again.
I would appreciate your prayers on behalf of our family. We are still hoping that there is some slim chance he could turn this around, but we are realistically preparing for the worst. This is particularly hard on our three sons and our grandchildren as they are all very close to their "Papa", especially our oldest son Ryan. Tony's parents had a big hand in raising him and they've always been the closest to him.
Tony is doing better than I expected. He's the kind who gets in there and does what needs to be done and just deals with the feelings afterwards, but I'm sure it's going to be hard on him. Me, I'm a basket case. I'm not a terribly emotional person in other ways, but I just do not deal well with grief.
The last funeral I went to was for a dear friend's 85 year old father and I swear I cried harder than the family did. I just kept thinking about his wife and the family and how much they were going to miss him and I just lost it, and lost it, and lost it. Of course, it didn't help that it was in the same setting where my mother's memorial service had been just three years before, but that's pretty typical funeral behavior for me.
I swear, if anyone has any good tips for getting the waterworks under control, I would sure like to hear them! It's not only embarrassing and undignified, but I have bad sinuses to begin with and after a while, it literally feels like my head is going to explode.
This week, I've been trying distraction techniques. Any time I start feeling too sad or upset, I immediately pick up a book or turn on the TV, or play a computer game and that seems to help a bit, but then I have that 3:30 wake up call in the middle of the night. I swear, you could almost set your clock by it. Any time I'm worried or upset about anything, I wake up right at the stroke of 3:30 and just lay there and fret and fuss about it until about 5:00, when I usually manage to fall back asleep just in time for my 6:30 alarm clock - ugh! It is the worst thing in the world for me.
Anyway, here I am rambling on and probably getting way too personal for a public blog, but it is comforting to express some of my feelings and let my friends know what is going on with me. This is definitely not the week we had planned, but sometimes life throws you a curveball and you just have to do the best you can with it.
Posted by Adrian's Crazy Life at 11:12 PM
Friday, February 1, 2008
I'm so excited! In just about two weeks, my hubby and I will be sitting on a cruise ship headed for the Caribbean. We've been planning this for a long time, almost a year now, but it still sounds almost too good to be true! Me, on a cruise ship, in the actual Caribbean, who'da thought that?
Like I said, we started planning this about a year ago when I realized that this year was going to be our 25th wedding anniversary. Yeah, who'da thought I'd actually be having a "Silver Anniversary". That's kind of trippy all by itself.
It doesn't seem like we've been married for almost a quarter of a century. That's a big deal and I figured it deserved a big celebration, especially since anniversaries 1 through 24 have been b-o-r-i-n-g - even our 20th. No disrespect to Tony, but all we usually do for anniversaries is dinner or maybe a show or something and this year I decided I wanted to do something really special.
You know how I'm always talking about The Secret and how wonderful it is and I think this is a very good example of how it has worked for me. I really wanted for us to go on this cruise, but let's face it, we're not rolling-in-dough kind of people, and we had just bought a new house, so money has been a little tight lately.
But I really wanted to go on this trip and I just really stepped out in faith that there would be a way to pay for it without putting us in debt for the next five years. So we picked out the trip and put the deposit on a credit card. And it was the funniest thing - money just started rolling in from all sides. Some of it was expected, or kind of expected money, but a lot of it just came out of the clear blue sky.
We got a refund from our movers who had damaged some furniture in our move. It had taken five months to get, but it came at just the right time to pay for our passport fees and our hotel in Miami. Then I had some money coming from some oil leases my Dad left me. I knew some money was there, but it turned out to be more than expected and it paid for the deposit and a little bit extra.
Then I had some money coming from a stock option plan from work. I knew it was coming as I've waited 5 years to get it, but it came at just the right time to pay for our excursions. The funny thing was that the stock price took a huge dip right then and I was really upset because I thought I wouldn't be able to sell them at a good price, but I was on vacation one day and I happened to log in for just a minute to get a message from my sister, and on that ONE day, the stock price had jumped up by about $2. I was able to immediately sell my shares and got about double what I was expecting. That's the way The Secret works some times. Through seeming coincidences and by having a positive attitude and faith that things will come out right, and somehow they usually do. It's a mystery!
Then we had the big bulk of the cruise payment was due right at Christmas and I was getting a little bit worried. We had all our usual Christmas expenses and it seemed like all the sources of money that I was expecting had pretty much dried up. But I thought back about all the great experiences we had had so far in bringing in unexpected money and I kept my outlook positive. I went to the cruise website and looked at pictures of the cabin we would be in. I'd even lie in my bed at night and try to imagine the feel of the ship moving and imagine the sights we would see. That helped me really get into the excitement of this great trip and that brought my hope back.
Then I got some news at work that really annoyed me. We had been hearing rumors for months that there had been some lawsuit about overtime and that they were working on changing all the exempt (salaried) people back to non-exempt (hourly) people. This really ticked me off because I'd been salaried for years and didn't really like the idea of going back to timesheets and nonsense like that, but wait.... There was a little part in the fine print that said they would be compensating us for all unpaid overtime we had worked over the last two YEARS! Well, there ya go! That was enough to pay for almost the entire cruise. Woohoo!
I still have about $300 more to go, plus our spending money and shipboard charges, but I know that will all work out in the end and we will be able to relax and enjoy our vacation.
Before you ask, no we are NOT taking the kids along. It's kind of hard to be without them, but we're lining up a bunch of friends and relatives to keep an eye on them and keep them out of trouble (I hope!).
We did take them with us when we went on our Mexican Cruise a couple of years ago. They had a wonderful time, but we really did it on a shoestring budget - all four of us in an "inside" cabin and if you've ever been on a cruise and seen those inside cabins, they are TINY!
It was like sardine time to put four people plus all our luggage in that itty bitty cabin! Sleeping was a real adventure because our beds were literally touching - three across with Blake in a little bunk on top of us. We found out that Matt talks in his sleep, I snore, and Blake kept dropping his stuffed animals on our heads.
But we really had a wonderful time and I'm sure we'll have a great time this time too, on our own. And if we run into Johnny Depp or Orlando Bloom out there, that's just icing on the cake!
Posted by Adrian's Crazy Life at 10:11 PM