My little helper trying on my hat
Two Saturdays ago our day started at 4am. We had a 6:30am flight to Atlanta. When we arrived at the airport we came to find that our flight schedule had been changed without our knowledge and we couldn’t check in. We weren’t informed until we arrived in Atlanta, but our flight from Atlanta to San Juan, Puerto Rico was cancelled. It took far too long for the agents in Seattle to get us our boarding passes and we ended up having to run to our gate only to get on the plane and immediately push back - literally. I hate the stress of traveling, especially around the holidays. When we got to Atlanta we found out our flight was cancelled and we were put on a standby flight that thankfully we were able to get onto.
All the while, on both 4.5 hour flights Vivian was a little terror and we were most definitely the parents with “that kid.” Not only was she screaming and fighting sleep, but when we got out her sippy cup at one point, we neglected to think about how the altitude change affected the pressure within the cup. Tyler opened the lid and the water sprouted out through the straw with such force it sprayed me and the folks in the row in front and behind us. One man got up and grumbled while making his way to the bathroom - a little dramatic I thought since it was only water… I was just glad it wasn’t breast milk or something sticky since then he’d really have something to complain about.
Attempting to put Viv to sleep in our makeshift
"crib" bed - she totally would have climbed out
had we not slept with her.
Anyway, once we landed in San Juan, we headed to our hotel. It was in a vey sketchy neighborhood and the room was just a little hole in the wall with two beds - and there literally was a hole in the ceiling that we found out the next day as the rain overnight leaked and made a nice puddle on the tile floor at the foot of one bed. There was no crib and since Vivian does not like sleeping with us, this proved to be quite a challenge to overcome. It was about 9pm when we got settled into our room and I was able to push one of the beds into the wall next to the window with no glass - just bars, a screen and beat-up wicker curtain (which made for lovely white noise as it rained) - and put our luggage as an extra guard rail on the side of the bed. Vivian would not stop trying to crawl and climb even though she was soooo beyond overtired and finally at 1am AST (4 hours ahead of PST) I got her to sleep between Tyler and myself.
Of course she is a little wiggle worm in sleep and kept waking up to move around and I’d have to shush her back to sleep. There isn’t a single position she didn’t try out during the night - her head on my head, on Ty’s head, on my belly, her feet on my face, her head on my knees or Tyler’s… You name it, she laid that way. As you can imagine, that left me with very little sleep as I did my best to take care of her so at least Tyler could rest up. Finally at 6:45am, Viv caught onto the sunlight starting to come through the windows and I had been just counting down the time until it was reasonable to wake Tyler to go get food - we didn’t have a proper meal the whole day before during travel and our plans of getting dinner upon arrival were quickly squashed when we saw our temporary surroundings.
So in the light of day, we wandered out into the sketchy part of Isla Verde in search of breakfast. We passed a few clubs that still had music bumping and scantly clad men and women with drinks clearly still partying their Saturday night away into early Sunday morning - it was 7:30am for gosh sakes! We finally found a little diner but not after a nearly hour long walk including my unfortunate romp through human feces - if you’d like the intimate details, just ask… It was not a great start to the day.
After breakfast we went back to the hotel to pack up the few things we gotten out so we could head to our cruise ship - the Carnival Valor - and start our vacation over.
I declared our arrival to the ship as the true beginning of our vacation and knew it could only get better from there - the sun was shining and we were about to set sail into the Caribbean!
Our surprisingly small but roomy cabin.
Before boarding the ship, we met up with Brittany, Amanda, Alex, Joe and many of the other wedding attendees and new friends. We got onboard and searched out some lunch. The rest of the day was spent catching up with friends and letting Vivian take a much needed real nap in a crib before dinner. After dinner we were exhausted and went to bed rather early given the lack of sleep the night before.
Checking out the waves outside our window.
Unfortunately cruise ships have a mandatory “muster drill” of which all passengers are required to practice gathering to abandon ship. This drill happens before the ship embarks which wouldn’t be a problem except that the drill didn’t happen until 9:30pm - we had been sleeping for an hour and a half at that point. There were various extremely loud announcements in English then followed by Spanish and alarms of which Vivian miraculously slept through. The thing that woke her was the steward popping his head in to check that we were gone - which we weren’t - and that startled Viv awake and she started screaming bloody murder and didn’t stop until near 11pm when we all finally went back to bed - without attending the drill. We got a simple letter in the morning on what to do since we missed the drill. So someone please tell me why our steward had to open our door even though the “Do Not Disturb” sign was displayed?
Daddy and daughter
Monday we woke in a much better mood. Mostly well rested and ready to celebrate Alex and Joe’s wedding in St. Thomas. Tyler, Vivian and I quickly adjusted to the 4 hour time difference which made Viv’s naps right on schedule for the most part. We had to wake her from nap to start getting ready for the wedding at 11:30am since she was the flower girl. Oh my gosh, what a cute flower girl she was!
Mama and daughter (why is she always
a little sour puss for my photos?)
Even though she can walk on her own, she was too distracted by the sand and rocks at the private beach where the wedding was held to get very far even holding my hand so I ended up swinging her down the isle way. All she had to do was dress up and be cute for pictures and I’m pretty sure she accomplished that goal.
Swinging down the isle!
Congrats to Alex and Joe!!!
After the wedding ceremony everyone headed back to the ship together to have a private reception including dancing before our dinner. Our little flower girl was exhausted so Tyler was kind enough to take her back to the room for a snooze while I joined the party. Viv woke up (or Tyler woke her up) with just enough time for her and Tyler to catch the last dance before dinner.
After dinner Viv and I went back to the room while Ty got to go have some fun. While he partied with our friends Viv went to bed and I relaxed and read. When Tyler got back to the room, he brought some snacks and Viv ended up waking. Instead of fighting her back to sleep, we pulled her out into our bed and had a midnight dance and snacks together - after all it was vacation!
Family beach photo.
Checking out the tropical ocean for the
first time! Not quite like the
Amanda, Ali and Brit
Dancing at the wedding reception!
Tuesday, New Year’s Eve, we had a relaxing day at sea so we hit up the pool. Viv loved it! She splashed in the shallow side of the pool and enjoyed the water. We explored the ship in between naps and before dinner we got all cleaned up for the New Year’s Eve formal night dinner.
Enjoying the pool!
Someone loves the water… splish splash!
The dinners each night are five course meals which take quite a bit of time and can be pretty challenging with a one year old, but Viv did really well each night. After dinner though she was pretty spent so we had to take her back to go to bed. Since she had woken up at about 11pm the night before, Tyler and I decided that we’d wake Vivian up around 11pm so we could join the New Year’s Eve party out on the lido deck with everyone. She wasn’t so thrilled to be woken up but once she was awake she went along with the crowd. She got passed around, danced with and even was featured on the big screen for all to see.
Ready for New Year’s partying!
Late night celebration on deck!
Amanda, Brit, Me, Alex and Joe
Viv and Brit on the big screen for all to see
She liked it much more when
it was only daddy!
Finally, midnight approached and 2013 had come to an end! Vivian, Tyler and I shared our first 2014 kisses, hugs and snuggles and about 15 minutes later we retreated to our cabin to put our sleepy baby back to bed. Viv was a really good sport about getting up to party. At first she was a little crank but once she saw all the lights and excitement she was much more interested!
Daddy and daughter share a New Year kiss.
A Happy New Year with great friends!!!
Wednesday we awoke in Barbados. After breakfast and Viv’s nap, Tyler, Viv, Brit, Amanda and I all headed out to go on an excursion. We had a ride on a catamaran to snorkel and enjoy a beach. Not a bad way to start the new year! The catamaran ride was relaxing but the snorkeling wasn’t going to happen for me. Viv was not a fan of the deep water or at least sitting in a floaty so I hung back at the boat with my little love while the others went to snorkel and try to see some sea turtles - no such luck for them. While we were on the catamaran, Viv crawled around on the mesh front of the boat and loved looking through the holes down at the water. I had to keep her from trying to crawl right off the front though! She definitely has a strong sense of adventure and curiosity.
Swimming under the catamaran
Taste test! Yuck!
When the others got back to the catamaran, I wanted to jump in the water - we were talking about how I should go about doing it and I was ready to dive when Brit said something about how it’s probably not safe. I was thinking about the depth of the water, however she had something more important in mind… I had completely forgotten I was pregnant!!! Luckily she reminded me and I thought better of the jumping in and just went safely off the ladder instead.
Next up after snorkeling was some beach time. We had to swim ashore from the catamaran which Viv wasn’t a huge fan of but once we were ashore on the sandy beach she quickly realized how fun it was. She absolutely loved playing in the sand. She also decided to give it a good taste or two as well. Luckily she discovered that sand wasn’t as tasty as it may have looked to her. Too soon we had to head back to the catamaran so we could go back to the ship before we set sail.
Our little beach babe was exhausted!
All the sun and fun wore Vivi right out and she passed out in Tyler’s arms - a very rare occurrence that would be the start of a beautiful new option for naps on the go during vacation. Once we got back to the ship, we got Viv dressed in her Spartan dress - I was so consumed about not forgetting her MSU gear that I forgot mine and Tyler’s! Even though we were very far away, we were rooting on our green and white team at the Rose Bowl. We even had one of the bars broadcast the game after dinner so we could watch the game. Way to go green, victory for MSU!
More beach fun!
Thursday we spent the day in St. Lucia. After Viv’s first nap Tyler, Viv and I took a cab to meet up with Brit and Amanda at a nearby beach to spend the afternoon. Again Vivian loved playing in the sand and had fun when the gentle waves came up to get her wet. Every once in a while a strong wave would come knock her down which she didn’t appreciate too much but she got over it quickly - especially since we were right there to rescue her.
Viv was unsure of the texture but thought
it was pretty interesting.
At the beach we found a giant starfish! We brought it up for Vivian to check out. She wasn’t quite sure what it was nor did she know what to do with it. She seemed mostly unimpressed… But everyone else thought it was pretty awesome!
Brit and Tyler on the wave runner
I tried to get Vivian to take a nap on the beach while everyone but us was off riding around on rented wave runners but apparently someone only likes to nap in daddy’s arms. I was able to get her to calmly lay with me for a while though so I thought that was good enough.
Our last formal night!
It was another formal night on the ship so after the beach we got back, washed off the endless amounts of sand and got into more of our finest. It was also another night that Viv woke up to have a late night cabin party.
Late night pj party!
Friday the ship ported in St. Kitts and because of the warning for mosquito born illness Tyler and I opted to play it safe with my pregnant self and Viv just to make sure nothing unfortunate happened to us. So we spent the day on the ship at the pool. That evening we had Alex’s niece, Gabby, watch Vivian so Tyler and I could go out and about the ship to enjoy the comedy, shows and other events together. It was her second time but I forget exactly which evening she first watched Viv.
Maho Bay! Beach and airport… what a combo!
So inappropriate but I couldn’t resist!!!
Saturday was our last day of the cruise. We were ported in St. Maarten and got to spend the day at the beach with the majority of the wedding goers. We started the day at the Orient Beach. The waves were intense and the beach beautiful. After spending some time there we took a taxi to a different part of the island to Maho Bay where there is an airport directly next to the beach and it is a huge tourist attraction to watch the planes land and be blown away - literally - by the jets taking off. The beach there was extremely steep with a very quick drop off. It was nearly impossible to bring Viv in the water without nearly drowning so she happily played in the sand until we headed back to the ship.
Our last night :(
Our last night was spent packing our bags and relaxing after turning in early. We didn’t have to disembark until 11:30am on Sunday so it wouldn’t be a rushed morning for us although it did fall right during Viv’s nap time which was a bit tricky since she couldn’t nap in our room.
Ready for nap during disembarking.
Lovey, check! Wubby, check!
Checking in at the Condado Palm Inn.
Viv loved the fish tank!
After we got off the ship we headed to our hotel in San Juan. We couldn’t check in early so we relaxed in the lobby while letting Vivian nap on Tyler. During her nap she was out cold and all of a sudden she shot upright and said “hi!” before collapsing back to sleep for a while longer. Tyler and I tried so hard not to bust out laughing because Vivi had been the little welcoming committee all trip saying “hi” to everyone and everything including people, paintings of people and animals. Anyway she got a decent nap before we ventured out to find some lunch.
At lunch enjoying a margarita - virgin of course!
We wandered down the street for a bit and ended up at a delicious Middle Eastern and Mediterranean restaurant called Ali Babba. After lunch we were able to check into the hotel and got settled into our room. We got Vivian down for another nap so we relaxed for a bit as well. Nothing like a one year old’s schedule to keep us on a slow paced and relaxing schedule for vacation.
Once Vivian was awake we met up with a few others who were staying an extra day and we went to Old San Juan for authentic Puerto Rican food at Restaurante Raices. There was a bit of a wait so we got to walk around and see a bit of the festival for Three Kings Day. Dinner was quite good but the service was excruciatingly slow which left us scrambling to keep Vivian happy… And after a week of extremely long meals on the cruise ship we were seasoned pros but this put our newfound skills to the test. Needless to say we were ready to go home afterwards.
Monday was our last day in Puerto Rico and it was just Tyler, Vivian and myself as all the others were attempting to catch their flights back home. We were glad we weren’t leaving right away since the huge snow storm on the east coast and Midwest disrupted air travel quite a bit.
So Tyler got to sleep in while Vivian and I got breakfast before both going down for a nap. After family nap time we all walked around exploring the beach and city. We found a little Puerto Rican/Mexican restaurant on the ocean to have lunch at. Surprisingly there didn’t seem to be a whole lot of options directly on the water but luckily this place was pretty good and had an amazing view!
We had our fair share of food and headed back to the hotel for yet another nap. While Viv was sleeping I had to have a near two hour conversation with Delta to try and clear up yet another flight issue - the same exact problem that happened on our first flight was happening for our return trip! Oi - why couldn’t they have fixed it when they first saw it nearly two weeks ago? I finally thought it was resolved and we were booked on new flights but with various stops - Atlanta and Detroit before Seattle but also on a standby flight for direct Atlanta to Seattle.
Last day at the beach.
Anyway, Viv had no problem passing out and after she woke up well rested we went to the beach to play in the sand since it was windy and this beach had the wildest waves by far so we didn’t want to get too close!
Tyler making sure Viv didn’t waddle into the pool.
We wanted to let Viv swim one last time so after the beach we went back to the hotel pool. She waded around in the kid’s pool before we played on the steps of the big pool. Viv loved the water but eventually she seemed like she was getting cold so we went back to our room to dry off and stayed in for a leftover dinner in our room before packing for the final time before we turned in early to get much needed rest for a day of travel.
Tuesday came early with the annoying sound of garbage trucks screeching just before 6am when our alarm was set. We got up, got ready and headed to the airport for our 8:20am flight.
Apparently we learned when we got there that our problems were not in fact all resolved. We waited in a forever long line to check luggage and get corrected tickets because apparently the agent on the phone booked it incorrectly and then yet another forever long and super slooooow security line. By the time we got to the end of the lines it was 8:18am and since I had Vivian, I was able to pass on the X-ray machine so I ditched Tyler so he could wait on the bags and took off running - barefoot, nearly 20 weeks pregnant and with a 20 pound baby on my hip. I booked it so fast and passed quite a few other people running - go me!
I made it to our gate and there was an agent standing asking for last call. A few other stragglers got on the flight and finally she asked if we were going to board without Tyler. I saw a man on a cart and asked him to go pick Tyler up since I didn’t know if he could handle our two carry on bags, food bag, diaper bag and stroller.
Luck was on our side when the agent asked again what I was going to do and I saw Tyler coming in the cart! We made it!!!
Heading home. Vacation is exhausting!
Once again, we were the last to get on the plane and the door was shut behind us and we took off immediately after we sat down. Vivian was pretty good on the flight and took an hour nap during the 4.5 hour flight. Upon arrival to Atlanta we headed to our confirmed gate for the second of three flights. We asked about the standby flight and they said it was not likely. Since that standby flight was scheduled to leave after our confirmed flight we didn’t want to gamble while traveling with a baby so we boarded the flight to Detroit. Then they announced we were delayed because they were still waiting for fuel and the first officer who was MIA.
I decided to go up to the front and ask about the standby flight since we were now pretty close to the time that flight should be boarding. The gate agent pulled me off the plane and he got in touch with the other agent and apparently because we boarded this flight it took us off the standby list. But now since this flight was going to be delayed and now likely miss our connection (the third flight) he was trying to get us back on the list.
Again, luck was on our side because of Terrance K. He was able to get us on the list and took the time to talk to the other agent. Then he personally went out to our initial plane and got Viv’s stroller so we - for the second time that day - could run to the other gate at the other terminal all the way from E to B gates. We definitely got our workout taken care of!!!
We made it to the standby flight and boarded no problem although we were again the last to get on the plane (I’m hoping this is the last of this recurring theme for any future travels). What a miracle! Vivian was a trooper and loved running around - go figure, my little drama queen loves chaos and adventure! I on the other hand am pretty sure I got a few gray hairs or something!
Once seated and relaxing, all was well for the next 4.5 hours. Vivian even took a nice long nap but after the nap we were struggling to keep her attention and her patience was wearing thin. We pulled out all the tricks in our bag but unfortunately the other carry-on with the backup toys had to get checked on the flight to Detroit.
We didn’t think our luggage would make it with us but we weren’t sure where it would go. Once we got to Seattle we went to the bag claim service counter and found out that one bag was already being expedited from Detroit (probably the one with the dirty laundry haha), the other was sitting at Detroit and our two carry-ons were likely in Atlanta still but they weren’t quite sure at that point and had to track them down.
It doesn’t matter that our luggage didn’t make it but I sure hope our locks work and we don’t end up losing the valuables that were in one of our carry-ons. I guess we will find out in 1-2 days when our bags are estimated to be delivered.
In the meantime, back to the daily grind… Hello reality, we are home and ready to begin another wonderful year during 2014! We are so excited for what this year will bring.
Vivian loved coming to our cabin after dinner each night and seeing the towel animals. She squealed in delight as she went to rip off the heart eyes each time! I think the monkey on the final night was her favorite! This trip will definitely go down in our family history as one of the best!