Wednesday, November 30, 2011

50 Years - Part 1

This year Spencer's parents celebrated their 50th (!!) wedding anniversary, and as a huge treat to the whole family, decided that a Thanksgiving Disney cruise would be a great way to gather the family to commemorate the event.  We just got back on Sunday and I'm happy to report that everyone had a wonderful time.

Before even leaving town for the cruise we (Spencer and I and Carol Diane) hosted Spencer's parents for dinner on the day of their actual anniversary.  Since it was a Sunday, it was a perfect opportunity to have them over to our house and have a pre-Thanksgiving dinner. We weren't sure that a traditional meal would be available on the ship, so we got our fill of turkey and mashed potatoes before we even left town. :)  That night we gifted them with a book that we made, documenting each and every year of their 50 years together.  We designed it ourselves and then had it printed by MyPublisher (which I have to say did a lovely job).  We're hoping that it's something the whole family can treasure for a long time.

Don't you just love getting ready for a big trip?  All of the last minute laundry, packing, and check lists.  Squeezing everything you'll need into carry on luggage because there's no way you're paying $50 for a bag to fly across the country. Finding tiny bottles to house your favorite shampoo or the only body wash that agrees with your baby's sensitive skin.  Dropping the cat off at my parents's house with food, scratching post and litter box in tow, errands, snacks for the plane, check, check, check.  Getting last minute orders filled and boxed and shipped.  Of course, getting a call that our refinance was ready and they wanted to close that night was an added bonus.  Needless to say, when my head hit the pillow on Monday night I was relieved and ready for a vacation, if for nothing else than to recover from preparing for it.

On Tuesday, my mom came out to pick us up.  We said prayers and then headed off to the airport.  It's always a bit exhilarating and at the same time unnerving feeling to drive away from the house for a trip... Do I have everything?  Will our house be safe?  Will we get to the airport on time?  Will Clara do well on the flight?  The week before we left, a neighbor's home was broken into in the middle of the day, so we had reason to feel a bit uneasy as we drove off.  (Luckily everything was perfectly fine when we got home).  We got to the airport in plenty of time and with Clara in her stroller, we were escorted to the front of a long security line.  Of course they funneled us into the least functional mag and bag check and by the time we actually got through security the first line was non-existant.  :)  We met up with the Utah/Colorado portion of the family (everyone but the Richardsons, flying out that same morning from Orange County, CA) and did typical airport activities - took a walk through the terminals, picked up some cinnabon, and got everything ready to pre-board our flight.
Clara and Lulu getting re-aquainted in the airport while we waited to board our flight.

Sleeping in my arms on the flight

Outside Grandma and Grandpa's room at the airport hotel in Orlando

Sadly, the only photo of the three of us on the entire trip.

Orlando Airport at sunset from Bob and Carol's room
The flight there was direct and thankfully uneventful.  Clara fell asleep in my arms shortly after take-off and slept for an hour, even enduring a handover to Spencer when my whole right arm fell asleep.  Then we had three more hours on the plane to entertain Clara and she did really well.  Wiggly for sure, but she did great.  We arrived in Orlando, took a tram to another terminal and voila - our hotel for the night.  I've never seen a hotel inside an airport, but that's how they do things in Florida.  Spencer was sure it was the closest experience we could have to landing on the moon - never setting a foot outside.  We had a room looking down into the terminal, but Spencer's parents' room had a verandah to the outside.  We got some dinner at Sbarro, window shopped around the terminal and finally met up with the whole family.  We swam in the outdoor hotel pool and settled in for the night.  Or so we thought.  Clara had a rough time getting to sleep.  She had missed naps at that point and was exhausted, but just wouldn't sleep.  Our steller sleeper frantically cried for nearly three hours trying to get to sleep that night. At that point I was worried that the whole trip would be a nightmare and wondering if it would be worth it while dealing with a very unhappy baby.  Finally around 11 she fell asleep for the night.

We woke up, had a quick breakfast at McD's and gathered in the atrium of our hotel/airport terminal.  That's where a local news correspondent stopped us and asked about our t-shirts.  She decided that we were interesting enough to interview for her story on holiday travel and Bob and Carol were actually on the news that day in Orlando!  Here's the clip.

Carol getting interviewed by the news lady
This is what it would be like if we visited on the moon (ask Spencer).

We got in line at the Disney transportation desk, got checked in and boarded a shuttle to Port Canaveral.  The whole process was effortless and everything went super smooth.  Clara slept for about 30 minutes in my arms on the bus.  As we neared the Port you could see our ship, Disney Dream and it was enormous.  It is a new ship for Disney that just set sail for the first time this year.  We had read a lot about it, and were excited to see all of the features that made it a standout in the industry (even though this was my first cruise and I didn't have anything to compare it to).  One thing we were a bit skeptical of was the size.  A ship that holds 4,000 passengers along with 1,500 staff might as well be a small city.  We went through a quick security check and before we knew it, the staff was announcing/welcoming the Evans family on board, "hailing from California, Colorado and Utah."

Quick nap on the shuttle bus
Here we are in the port terminal with Minnie.  I guess people generally wait to board the ship here (like at the airport) but by the time we got there, our number was already boarding.  We didn't have to wait at all. 

Welcoming the Evans Family on board

On the ship

Now what?
Our "key to the world" cards.  These are used to get on and off the ship and pay for any

Immediately, the ship was very impressive.  The main entrance has a huge chandelier and the ship had just been all decked out for the holidays.  Garlands and lights literally decked the halls and an enormous gingerbread house made the air smell of Christmas.  The friendly Disney employees told us that since our rooms were not quite ready, we should go eat (one of the seemingly ongoing activities on board).  We headed up the buffet called Cabanas.  This was one of the only times on board that I really felt like it was super crowded.  I'm pretty sure everyone was at Cabanas and it was difficult to find a place to sit.  But there was just about every genre of food you could think of, and we dug right in.
Spencer & Clara on Deck 13 in Port Canaveral, checking out the Carnival cruise ship next to us.

By the Mickey Pool (one of 4 pools on the ship - this one is for kids)

More Deck 13
After lunch we decided to go explore.  Spencer, Clara and I headed to Deck 13 - the very highest deck - at the front of the ship.  It was deserted and it felt nice to enjoy the sunshine and quiet on our own.  We walked around quite a bit and saw the pools and various decks and watched the ship set sail from Deck 13, before heading to our room to get ready for dinner (time to eat again!).  Dinner that night was at the Royal Palace - a dining room designed to resemble the castles of Disney Princesses.  No detail was left unnoticed to make the experience exactly what Disney wanted it to be for its guests.  We were not sure how Clara would do with a 1.5-2 hour 5 course meal, but she did great.  She quickly caught on to the fact that cruises are for indulging and ate a LOT the whole time.
Hungry muffin
Since Clara seemed ready for bed by the end of dinner, we decided to forgo the show and get her situated in our room so she could get a good night of sleep.  Our requested Pack-n-Play was in our room when we arrived, along with a slipcover for the whole thing that helped darken her little bed a bit.  We had an alternative floor plan to the typical long and skinny rooms and it was so perfect for us.  It was like they took the long skinny room, cut it in half and put them side by side with a wall in the middle.  So we had two windows and we put Clara in the couch area.  It was so nice to have her own little area.

Our side of the room

Clara's side of the room

Grandma and Grandpa's room (adjoining)
Once we got to our room, she brightened up and got a second wind, so we headed out to enjoy the balmy air as we sailed for the Bahamas.  We put Clara in the bjorn and headed back up to Deck 13 and Clara was all smiles. She normally is pretty sensitive about wind (she doesn't like it and holds her breath in it) but she was giggling the whole time.  Spencer was also feeding her some soft serve ice cream, sot that probably didn't hurt either.  Everyone was at dinner or a show, so the ship seemed quiet and empty.  It was nice to have some quiet time out on the deck together.

The Aquaduck at night - all lit up

Clara and Spencer and soft serve

After we got Clara settled and she thankfully went right to sleep, Spencer volunteered to stay with her so I could go for a run.  Deck 4 of the was the only deck that went all the way around the perimeter of the ship and it was a walking/jogging track (with shuffle board courts as well).  Two and a half laps on this deck was mile, which really blew my mind - the ship was so big!  I ran two miles and it felt so good and easy to run at sea level (literally).  By this time we were really moving, so the water was just a few yards below me.  I thought it would be a weird sensation to run on a moving ship, but it was actually one of the only times I didn't notice the rocking and swaying of the ship.
This is what Deck 4 looked like in the daytime.  You run right under all the lifeboats and pray that they are securely fastened above you.
Our first little towel animal - so cute.
After my quick run I headed back to see how Spencer and Clara were doing.  All was well and Spencer was content to read in the room, so I headed back out with Carol Diane to check out the 18+ pool and hot tub area.  It was completely empty!  We had a couple of people get in the hot tub while we were there, but it was really an empty area.  The coolest thing was that the hot tub had a glass floor, and even though it was on deck 12, there was nothing below us and you could see the turquoise water rushing beneath you.  It was really neat.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

and another new calling...

Part of the reason I may seem a little stressed about my new calling, is that it came only one week after the Stake Presidency called to meet with us and extended the call for Spencer to be the new Elders' Quorum President.  Right after we moved in, Spencer was called to be the secretary.  After a few months, he was made the second counselor.  Just a few weeks ago, our Bishopric was reorganized and the first counselor was put into the Bishopric - leaving Spencer as the new (but never sustained or set apart) first counselor.  Now he's come full circle with his new calling as President.

We knew that change was coming - our whole ward has been ripe for a change and in the past six weeks, every organization except the Primary and Sunday School have been completely reorganized.  Working with the youth can be a big time commitment, so I had a close friend say, "maybe they felt like they could snatch you up for a busy calling, since Spencer will probably be released soon."  I had to laugh and just say, "we'll see..." since I knew about Spencer's new calling but no one else did.

I'm super proud of him and excited for the chance he'll have to revitalize the quorum.  He is such an example to me of selfless service and compassion; always thinking of others.  It was really neat to be able to attend Elders Quorum on Sunday and see him get sustained and set apart.  I was very impressed with how the Stake handled the whole process.  Spencer will be a great President. And as his counselor [by way of covenant] I'm calling for a few more social events.  I'm already thinking about a Valentine's couples party...


I've been working on my family photo books for 2009 and 2010 and sadly there are some months where I didn't blog a thing.  Now I'm far enough away from those months that it really is difficult to remember if anything significant happened that I just forgot to document.  Either way, I'm going to try to use this blog more like I used to...  even if there are no big events to be recorded, I can at least journal a bit and know [in the future] that months didn't go by without thinking or feeling or doing anything.  Ok.  That is all.
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