We spent last week on the Norwegian Spirit floating around the Western Caribbean.
It was an interesting experience.
We had debated whether or not we should go on the trip for weeks prior. Christmas time ALWAYS equals sick time at our house. Like clockwork every year one or more of us is sick around Christmas. This year Garrett had a lingering cough for a few weeks, which turned into an ear infection. Then there were days of what was either a stomach flu or just incredibly bad reaction to the antibiotics he was taking. He bookended all those illnesses with a really nasty fever virus that left him running temps of 104 and above for days. After three doctor visits including an after hours clinic visit, six chest X-rays to rule out pneumonia, three flu tests (all negative), a battle to hold him down during a fifteen minute breathing treatment, a scary episode on an exam table where his nail beds and lips turned blue and his oxygen level registered at 86 and finally four shots of Rocephin he was feeling better, so we decided at the last possible second to pack up and go on our trip.
Here is the story of what happened after we left home. Let me forewarn you. This is quite possibly the longest post in the history of Unskinny Boppyville. I know I’ve said that before but I really mean it this time.
Read it and weep.
Day one: New Orleans
By this point J had caught G’s sickness and was very congested. On the flight down to NOLA his ear had a sudden terrible pain. He said it felt like it needed to pop from the pressure but wouldn’t. He spent the first night in the hotel room in bed with terrible ear pain while I Googled all his symptoms on my phone and emailed my pharmacist friend Jenna for advice on what to do to help him feel better.
The short answer? Nothing.
But even so my brother-in-law kindly offered to walk all over the French quarter in search of a CVS pharmacy with me so I stocked up on Sudafed and Dramamine and other drugs to try to help J feel better. This was the night that the Saints lost their first game of the season to Dallas, so after the pharmacy run we didn’t leave the hotel again. It was crazy packed in the French Quarter with angry Saints fans. Dallas fans were cheering all night in our hotel, so we got to join the party from afar.
On the morning of day two I took Garrett for breakfast in our hotel lobby.
We stayed at the Country Inn and Suites French Quarter. They had ceiling beams that went for 5 stories. Ah-mazing.
I snapped what I thought was a pretty cool little photo of me and G in a Christmas ornament.
Here is the one non-blurry pic I could get of Garrett and Riley in front of the Christmas tree. Gotta learn more about that whole snapping photos of moving subjects thing…
After breakfast that morning we walked around the French Quarter. In a city that is full of photo ops I was happy just wandering around snapping. Unfortunately Garrett fell asleep outside the House of Blues and didn’t wake up the rest of the time.
Here is the last photo I have of him upright.
After that he was passed out on Bourbon street like a little homeless dude with a serious hangover.
He was completely out of it on Jackson Square.
And he snoozed right through his true and professional psychic reading with Jeffy.
And totally missed the talking horse by Riverwalk. Reminds me of another time when he slept through all the excitement.
It was during this time that we got our ONE single solitary family portrait from the entire trip.
Are you ready for it? This is it folks. Enjoy it.
It is a pitiful, ill cropped, squinty eyed family photo where J looks pained, G is STILL passed out and I look like I’m about to fail an eye exam. Lovely, huh?
But to make up for our lack of family photos I do have some more great NOLA architecture. Love these shots:
After our French Quarter Sleep/Walk we headed back to the hotel to get ready to leave for the ship. We got on the boat at 1:00ish. After we got our room keys at the Port we met our awesome concierge, Bruce Van Der Boon, who was like a bleach blond version of Franck from Father of the Bride.
He was the cutest and sweetest guy, very accommodating with the best accent ever. I loved him. He told us we could skip the lifeboat drill if we wanted and I was so relieved to hear that because I had been dreading that for weeks.
We got to our rooms and they were very nice! Thank you, thank you Mr. Rose! We had a penthouse suite right under the Captain’s Bridge so our balcony and view was excellent.
The bathroom was incredibly huge.
The bed was GREAT. It was by far the best cruise ship bed I have ever slept on, ever ever. Way to go Norwegian. And thanks for the fresh flowers. Garrett was really digging that bird of paradise.
That afternoon they brought in our own personal little gingerbread house for Christmas. It was so cute!! Garrett LOVED it.
They had Gingerbread decorations all over the ship. This was a huge one in the main atrium:
That afternoon we tried to have lunch at Cagney’s Steakhouse but Garrett pitched a royal fit and I left the restaurant with him screaming. Unfortunately it was a sign of things to come. We skipped the lifeboat drill and had a little private Bon Voyage party on the balcony while J napped.
Garrett enjoyed the cheese and grapes.
As we left the port I wondered if we were making a huge mistake going on this trip with J so sick. I figured that it was too late to turn back at that point, so I might as well try to make the best of it. J spent the whole night night in the bed, rolling around in agony from the ear pain, then once we hit the rough seas late that night he got seasick. Much vomiting ensued. What a great way to start the trip!
J got up and felt better in the morning, walked around the ship with Garrett in search of the room where they were showing the movie “Up!” Finally we asked a passing crew member but he didn’t know so he told us to go to the wrong place. The cruise director showed up out of nowhere and ripped the poor guy a new one right in front of us for telling us the wrong thing. It was very embarrassing to watch so we just walked away. The cruise director caught up to us and told us where to go and helped get Garrett’s stroller up the stairs to the place. But it was too late, I had seen his true colors, and they were not pretty at ALL.
Unfortunately his overbearing attitude seemed to trickle down through the whole ship. Besides Bruce the Courteous Concierge, Naveen the Badass Butler and Victor the Super Steward, the service we got on the ship was sketchy at times. Oh and Elena the Wonderful Waitress at Cagney’s. She was incredible. If you ordered one thing she remembered your order for the rest of the week.
I think there were a lot of new staff who didn’t know much about the ship so they just didn’t make any effort to help. And then there were just some flat out rude people. That afternoon I got a pedicure at the spa and when I sat down the girl said “You remind me of my sister. She’s big like you. My whole family is huge like you. My mom, my grandma… well, my grandma is dead now, but they all are big people.” Nice way to start a
overpriced relaxing pedicure at the spa, no?
Anyway, by that afternoon J was sick again with ear pain and congestion, and Garrett was throwing a fit over eating like a civilized human in any of the restaurants. We were one month shy of Garrett being old enough to go to the kids camp which would have really been a lifesaver. But they were super strict and wouldn’t allow him in at all. They had a little room called the “Under Two Zoo” with a few toys where we could sit with him but it was pretty sparse.
I took him up to the basketball netted in area a few times during the week just to let him RUN without having to chase him. That helped burn off some of his never ending energy. He’s just so active and there were very very few places to let him burn off steam on the ship without worrying about him getting hurt or disrupting other people. He wasn’t even allowed in the pool so I never even put on my new swimsuit. The bad thing about the basketball court was that it was on Deck 13, top of the ship, so to say it was a bit windy when the boat was underway is an understatement.
G didn’t care, though. Whatever floats your boat, right?
Or is it “Whatever blows your hair back” or something like that? 🙂 He loved playing with the big kids. I swear sometimes he thinks he’s two going on twelve the way he fearlessly interacts with other older kids.
Day Four: Costa Maya
We woke up to see an approaching storm on the ocean. No wonder the waves were so big that night before.
The storm passed quickly and Mom and Dad kept Garrett in the room while we got off the ship to walk around the little beach area and have some lunch.
We were greeted by these women who had monkeys that they kept trying to put on my shoulder and take a picture. I wish I knew how to say “I don’t want no stinkin’ monkey on my shoulder, lady!” en espanol.
It was beautiful there. Very tropical.
Mostly it was a rocky lava-like shoreline with sand that they had obviously brought in from another place and built a man made beach. Still, it was picture perfect.
At lunch I ordered chips and salsa and a strawberry daiquiri. Before I took my first sip a fly that was buzzing all around my head landed in it and died.
Isn’t that just SO appropriate??
I thought it pretty much summed up the way the trip was going up to that point. I scooped him out with a chip and was careful not to stir my drink around and suck from the bottom. I enjoyed my drink and I don’t think I ingested any Mexican fly particles.
J sure enjoyed his alcohol and insect-free daiquiri, though.
This dude slept the entire time we were there. I considered curling up next to him in that hammock but then I remembered that whole swine flu originating in Mexico thing so I gave him a wide berth.
On the way back to the ship I asked the armed guards with the AK47’s to take a photo with me. They unhappily obliged.
By the time we got back on the boat J was right back in the bed and puked in the bathtub after the boat left port that night. The waves were ROCKING and ROLLING that night so finally he took a Dramamine and Phenergan cocktail and he slept better that night. I cleaned up the mess that was sloshing back and forth in the bathtub to the motion of the ocean. We really exercised that whole “in sickness and in health” vow that we took a few years back. Fun times!! I love you J! Really really I do.
Day Five: Santo Tomas de Castilla, Guatamala
We woke up to foggy mountains all around the boat.
Then the fog quickly burned off and a beautiful blue sky showed up.
It was very beautiful on the ride in but once we arrived at the port it looked like this.
We didn’t leave the boat because Bruce told us that if we didn’t book an excursion straight from the ship that our safety was extremely endangered if we just wandered around all willy nilly. So Garrett played on the balcony with his trucks all morning.
I spent the day reading and sleeping. I think I slept more on this trip than I have since before G was born, so that was good. Then in the late afternoon J got sick. Again. And Garrett threw major hissy fits. Again. And like Dooce said that one time… it sucked and I cried.
Day Six: Belize City
The boat anchored offshore in Belize. J was feeling better in the morning again but didn’t want to risk getting sick on the tender boat so he stayed on board with Garrett while I went ashore with my family.
We shopped and walked around, saw some dolphins playing, laughed and bought a few souveniers. It was a nice day.
Then on the way back to the boat we were put in this huge speedboat to tender back to the ship. The waves were HUGE and rocking and the dudes driving the boat were blasting this thumping music like we were all 20 year old beer guzzling college kids in bikinis instead of the pasty white group of exhausted gringos that we actually were. We had this 20 minute ride rocking out to Lady Gaga and Flo Rida and Kid Cudi blasting in our ears. This was my dad’s face during the entire twenty minute ride.
I could not stop laughing. It was great.
That night we had a big family dinner (party of fourteen!) scheduled with everyone in Cagney’s, the nice steakhouse restaurant. Garrett was just such a beast at every single meal I knew this one was going to be a tricky one. We had two tables all the way in the back of the restaurant so we played Dirty Santa with little gifts and got a group photo. But before our meals arrived Garrett had a meltdown. I had brought books and toys and all kinds of stuff to entertain him but he wasn’t having any of it. Evan, my cousin’s little boy, was being an angel. At one point during Garrett’s meltdown at dinner Riley came over and saw that Evan was sitting in his highchair happily looking at one of my books I had brought to entertain G. She said “Oh, Baby Evan is being so good. That’s why you should have brought G a book so he would be good too, Beth.” LOL Thanks for that tip, Riley.
Finally I got up from the table and took Garrett out on the deck for a minute before our food arrived. Well, he bolted and I had to sprint around the boat chasing him. J watched it all happen out the window so he came running out to help me. We did an entire lap around the whole ship before we could get him to slow down. I was sweating, J was sweating and Garrett’s cheeks were red as could be. Finally I got him to look inside one of the windows at a Christmas tree, and as he was walking up to it he tripped and fell and busted his lip on the metal windowsill. So that was the end of our night. I carried him all the way back to our room on my shoulder with him screaming and bleeding and sweating while J went to the restaurant and gathered our stuff and the stroller. I was DONE by this point. Completely done. It was a rough night. We all just went to bed and skipped the Chocolate buffet which was the one thing I wanted to see on the whole cruise. When we got back to the room Victor the Super Steward was turning back our bed and getting Garrett’s crib ready for “nitenite”. When Victor saw Garrett’s red cheeks and sweaty head and bloody lip he goes, “OH! Mr. Garrett! You look like a steamed hamster!” That was a new one for me, and I’m still calling G a steamed hamster when he gets sweaty. Love it.
Day Seven: Cozumel on Christmas Day.
J took Garrett down to breakfast before I could even get up and get ready. He took him to see Santa Claus in the Atrium and have his picture made. After the night before I just sat on the balcony and enjoyed the silence for a little bit and simmered in my emotional juices for a while. After I went through a WIDE range of emotions I finally decided it was Christmas so I needed to suck it up and try to have fun.
So I asked myself, “In a moment like this I can’t help but wonder, what would Jimmy Buffett do??”
I drank two Yards O’ Alcohol and a bowl of chips and salsa at Senor Frog in Cozumel, and figured that Jimmy Buffett would approve of the way I handled the situation.
Then these trashy drunk people started dancing and stripping in front of us on the dance floor and I laughed so hard I cried. It was the funniest thing I’ve seen in a long time. Check out these moves:
I really needed to laugh, so this was the perfect place to chill out and relax and chair dance along to all the top rap songs of the 90’s.
After perusing a few of the shops of Cozumel and dropping some pesos on souvenirs I wobbled my way back to the ship alone while J did a little shopping for his coworkers. Plus after downing 56 ounces of frozen fruity beverage I needed to use the bathroom pretty bad. When I got back to our room a neighbor came running out of his cabin yelling that a sailboat was sinking out in front of us. I got my camera and went out on the balcony in time to see this:
That is the bow of the boat sticking up out of the water and all the people and their stuff floating away.
A dive boat with 13 people in it had hit a big wave and sank right in front of us. All the people got out safely and were adrift in the ocean out in front of us. It was SO scary watching it all. That boat went down in a matter of minutes, yall, and all the people got carried in different directions by the current and the wind. They lost all of their stuff except what they had in their hands. The boat was sticking straight up out of the water about 8 feet when I first saw it and within probably 10 to 15 minutes it went belly up and sank like a rock.
They sent a lifeboat over from our ship to rescue all the people. If you ever hear “Code Oscar” on a ship it means “Man Overboard”. SO scary but so glad it all turned out ok. Watching all that happen put a lot of perspective on things for me so things got better from there on out.
We went out to dinner that night and had a great Japanese meal. Mom and Dad were great about keeping G for us so that really helped. We kept him on schedule for the most part so he napped most afternoons from 2-4 and went to bed between 7 and 8 every night. He played with Evan with minimal squirmishes over toys. I believe we brought Evan over to the darkside of Choochoo addiction by giving him a Thomas train set for Christmas. Sorry, Cousin Michael.
Day Eight: At Sea.
My dad had booked a Galley Tour for us all which turned out to be a behind the scenes tour of the entire ship. Nobody else wanted to go, so I went with him and we got to go behind the scenes of the theater and through the kitchen with Mikey our tour guide. Then my dad bailed out on me and I was stuck walking around the basement of the boat with a tour group of like seven people watching how they disposed of all the trash on the ship and all the laundry facilities and the freezers and coolers and places that I could really give a hoot about seeing. Mikey handed us off to the Environmental Director (aka the Trash Man) and we were being led deep down this narrow little hallway in the belly of the boat to see the bone crusher and trash compactor by this big burly Greek man and this felon looking Phillipino dude. At one point I was like OH SNAP they are going to feed this group of unsuspecting tourists to the vampires in the bottom of the ship! Apparently they take all the food from the ship and dump it into the ocean when they are twenty miles out to feed the fish. The Greek man kept saying how he had the key to the door in the floor where they dumped the food and how the Mafia would love an easy disposal system like he had. While that was going on I got some SUPER serious heebs down there in the bottom of that boat from that one guy who look like he was fresh from the Manila prison system. The way he was looking at me was creeping me out so much that I nearly bolted but I knew I couldn’t find my way out of the maze of corridors so I stayed beside this sweet lady from Arkansas and talked to her instead. We made it out alive, thankfully.
The last night the grandparents kept the kids again (Thanks Kathy and Warren and Grandma and Granddaddy!!!) while we went out to dinner at the Italian place with my cousin Michael and his wife Barbie. We had a really great time having adult conversation and reminiscing about the good old days. I really enjoyed it. Here is Michael and Evan and me and Garrett:
We bought G one of those Nacho Libre Mexican wrestler masks as a gift. It was a hit.
Then Garrett and Evan ran a few laps around the ship again with Barbie and I in hot pursuit.
I really got my exercise in on this trip just chasing Garrett all over the place.
We had VIP disembarkation so Bruce took us straight through Customs and got us out the door. J had decided that there was no way he could fly home again with his ear feeling so bad, so we took a cab to the airport and got a rental car. After a minor confrontation with the rental car people over the length of time it took for them to round us up a carseat we had a semi-uneventful drive home. J drove and Garrett and I slept most of the way.
I know yall are about to fall over after reading all that. If you made it all the way to the very end, I commend you. And I apologize for sounding so whiny and high maintenance, but I figured I would document it all without much editing or sugar coating for the old blog.
It was great to be waited on hand and foot all week. I wanted to pack Victor in my suitcase and bring him home to make up my bed every day.
I hope all of you had a wonderful vomitless Holiday. In case you didn’t get one of these in your mailbox last week, here is a greeting from my family to yours.
Feliz Navidad Yall!!