Monday, March 26, 2012

1st year Anniversary

Our first anniversary was last Saturday, March 17th.

I can't believe it has been a year already.  Seems like only yesterday I had the entire bed to myself and didn't have to worry about being downwind from anything heinous....sigh.
But despite the wind situation, I love him lots. This year has been absolutely wonderful.
And what better way to celebrate our first year together than with the same thing we did for our honeymoon...a cruise!
We went to Charleston a day early to begin our vacation in relaxed mode. We had a leisurely 4 1/2 hour drive down, then we went to Ft. Sumter for the Harbor Tour. Our tour guide was a history teacher and he had a true gift for story telling. It was fabulous!

After our Harbor Tour, we went to our favorite restaurant, California Dreaming.  I know what you are thinking....why go to a chain when you could go to Fig or Hyman's or many other Charleston-esque dining options...well three words will tell you why.
Blue Cheese Dressing.
The Blue Cheese Dressing.
It'll make you slap yo' teeth out just to get your tongue closer to the bowl.
I think it is made with blue cheese, crack and xanax.  Only more addictive.
I have spent an eternity trying to google the recipe....and have sadly failed.

Dinner was reasonably priced (love that!) and close to our hotel so we had an easy first night and were ready to cruise!
Embarkation the next morning was a bit more slow than last year. We had an unexpected 45 minute wait at the hotel and then quite a long line going from shuttle drop off to the bus line to the pier (which was in throwing distance...but no, you still have to wait in the sun and board a shuttle....) Luckily that was our only hiccup and it wasn't that bad of a wait. I think we just hit in there at the same time as a bunch of other folks.
We got on the ship at 1:00, had lunch, unpacked, did the muster drill and then hit lido for the deck party! Having our anniversary on St. Patrick's Day is so much fun--- everyone is willing to celebrate with us!
After the deck party, the most magical words of the trip:  the Sushi bar is open. THE BEST sushi ever.  Keep in mind we aren't adventurous sushi eaters, but we love the hell out of some tuna nigiri.  EVERY afternoon we would get a cold beer and nigiri then sit and  people watch. By day 2, poor Will would swipe utensils from the dining room because he has some sort of unfortunate chop stick palsy....

Day 2 was a relaxing day at sea.  We did slightly less than nothing other than nap, read, eat and lounge---don't judge--it's our vacation and we can be as lazy as we want--haha!

Day 3 we were in Key West.  We did the Conch Train tour and LOVED it.  Our driver (Ronknee) was funny and we enjoyed the history, architecture,wild stories and shopping.

Day 4 was Freeport, Bahamas.  Last year when we went to Freeport we rented a jeep and drove all around the beautiful island and the beaches.  Since we had an off road adventure last year, I thought I would book us a "City Tour" this year.  It was only $35.99 per person (which is relatively cheap for Carnival Excursions) and I was looking forward to a relaxing tour.
Yeah.  About 2 minutes into the tour I was doing the math ($35.99 x 2)  and determined that I was going to be about $71.98 worth of pissed.  The tour guide was dry and not funny.  He drove us through mediocre neighborhoods showing us houses, churches and schools.  He even pulled over twice when a "for sale" sign was posted in case anyone on board wanted to buy real estate.  And just as I was wondering if this tour was some sort of hidden sales pitch, he takes the ONLY stop of the tour at a sad, depressing farmer's market where we felt guilty for being tourists.  A woman (Brenda) from a frozen drink stand at the market came on board and offered coupons for drinks....then at the end of the stop, Miss Brenda came back to the bus and gave the driver his percentage of the drink sales her kiosk turned during his stop.  Convenient, huh?  Oh well...a crappy tour on vacation is better than working or doing chores at home, right?  The tour ended at Port Lucaya.  We didn't find anything we wanted to buy...other than cans of Barritt's Ginger Beer. We watched an awful fight as the local police arrested what appeared to be a vagrant and then took the bus back to our ship.  Freeport is okay for beach drives with the jeep, but not for bus tours.

Day 5 was Nassau , Bahamas.  I have been to Nassau 5 times in the past 4 years so there wasn't anything I wanted to do so we just shopped and went back to the ship early for another relaxing day. Oh and some sushi...of course.

Day 6 was another relaxing day at sea.  We did the same thing as before...or maybe even a little less.  It was awesome. I debated about playing in the casino or going to the spa but I was still pissed about wasting the $72 on the crappy tour in Freeport.

All week we sat at a large table in the main dining room and immediately found our dining mates to be charming and witty. We loved hearing about our friends' adventures (nudist gay bars in Key West, crazy bidding at the art gallery, family stories, new nicknames (What's up Asian Glow?), champagne toasts and LOTS of laughs.  I looked forward to dinner every night not just for the lobster, prime rib, decadent desserts, etc. but for the wonderful company of new friends!
By the end of the cruise we stayed out until 2 am listening to our new friends sing karaoke and going to the lounge for some awesome 80s-90s hair metal by an asian cover band.  (Seriously, they rocked.) Luckily, we were all about the same age so we really enjoyed the music despite the spring break teens chanting for "Britney Spears"--which did not make us feel old, just musically superior--haha!

The entire cruise was fantastic.  Lounging enough to nap several times, read three books, saw and did everything we wanted plus we got to eat, drink and be merry with new friends. And celebrate our first year of marriage!

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Reflux Warrior

Although Spencer has had reflux all his life, a few months ago his meds stopped working.  We were referred to a specialist at Brenner Children's Hospital and the new specialist ordered an endoscopy and a 24 hour sensor tube.  Finally, we will get some answers and Spencer will stop having so many issues!
Even though it is a little too small, Spencer wore his lucky shirt to the procedure:
His shirt says, " Go Ahead And Push Me Around But You Ought To Know I've Got the Meanest, Baddest NANA in town!"
I knew the endoscopy and biopsies would be quick and painless for my little man but general anesthesia is always a bit scary. I watched the anesthesiologist start to push the meds in his IV and as I went to tell Spencer I loved him he was already out BEFORE they finished putting his meds in the IV!  It scared me a little and I tearfully went to the waiting room and sat with my family.

In less than 30 minutes, Spencer was in recovery. He had an airway apparatus in his mouth because they said he snored like a freight train during the procedure.  For a slim kid without adenoids that little guy can snore!
He looked so small and helpless.  I wanted to hold him.....but NO ONE could get near his hospital bed.  Nana and Boppa set up like protective gargoyles-haha!

After the recovery time passed, the nurse gave us permission to try to wake him.  Whew! That took a while.  Poor little man was sleepy, confused, frustrated and his nose was itching like crazy--but with the sensor tube in place he couldn't scratch it.  We were all trying to help him!

After x-rays, Spencer came home with the sensor tube in place. The tube was uncomfortable and he was miserable.  He had trouble eating and it wore a blister on his nose where it rubbed.  He was more than ready to return to the hospital the next day to have it removed.
Now, he is home, just ate dinner and is playing xBox.  Despite the make up work from missing three days of school, he is happy.  We found out that he doesn't just have reflux, he has Eosinophilic Esophagitis as well.  We still have biopsies and sensor results to get so it will be about a week before we know anything else. The good news is that Eosinophilic Esophagitis can be treated with medication. Hopefully we will get the rest of the results soon!

Friday, March 02, 2012

Chuff Daddy

Last weekend, Will and I took Spencer and Joe for a great day trip.

We left Sunday morning and filled up at Cracker Barrel before heading South for a little less than an hour.

We pulled in at Suzie's Pride and the boys were wow'd!

Suzie's Pride a Sanctuary and Rescue for big cats. They are a no-kill, no-breed facility for unwanted, abused and neglected big cats from private owners, commercial entities, zoos and other sanctuaries.    
It was amazing!  they only have a few cats, but you can tell the staff are very dedicated and knowledgeable.  We really enjoyed our tour!

One of the most important things we learned is NOT TO GIVE ANY MORE MONEY to "Photo Cub" organizations.  We see them in all the big tourist traps, you know, get your picture taken with a cub and the money supposedly goes to Endangered animals or whatever.  Well it's a load of crap.  They are allowed to use the cubs while they are under 50 pounds so they under-feed them and then when the cub gets too big they are dumped, sold illegally or worse.... Thankfully there are sanctuaries established to help, but people need to stop giving money for "photo cubs" and perpetuating the problem.

The most fun thing we learned is how the big cats "chuff" ....and the boys (Mostly Will) spent the rest of the day chuffing at all the cats.  I never got the hang of it.  Chuffing (or Prusten) is a sound made by big cats. The animal's mouth is closed and it blows through the nostrils, producing a breathy snort. This sound is non-threatening and often used when two big cats encounter each other on neutral territory, or between courting pairs. Mothers use it to their cubs as a form of reassurance.
Will got pretty good at it and the animals would chuff back at him-- it was amazing to have (even a small) connection with the exotic beasts!

After we spent time at Suzie's Pride, we went next door to Tiger World.
Tiger World is a nonprofit animal conservation and educational center dedicated to rescue, rehabilitation, and preservation of exotic animals.

This is an amazing zoo that has MANY MANY beautiful tigers and ligers! The wolves were incredibly beautiful, the roaming ducks, geese, peacocks etc, were friendly.  All of the animals looked happy and healthy--- we highly recommend going!  And yes, the boys chuffed with all the big cats here, too!