Saturday, March 29, 2008


We have four dogs, three of which are guardian/shepherd breeds, so they get pretty vocal and protective when someone comes to the door, or if the neighbor dogs are out. Most of the time the dogs are well behaved and follow commands, but it seems like they loose their minds when they get into that protective state of mind. Our best and most obedient dog, Dodger, is actually the worst offender when it comes to visitors and neighbor dogs and he can get so lost in his own freaking out that he will even injure himself at times.

So we all know about Cesar Milan, "the dog whisperer", right? Our family likes to watch his program and we feel like we've learned a few good tips for interacting with our dogs. We've tried to take the "calm assertive" role when we're working to change a behavior, and so on. It's been fairly successful for several issues. But still, we made no headway with the freaking out and barking issues.

Yesterday I was having one of those days. You know what I'm talking about... every task is just a little bit too hard to accomplish, every little thing seems to be more difficult, just a crappy kind of day! Jeff was home working on things around the house and yard and decided he wanted to come in through the front door, which was locked, so he knocked. Chaos ensued! Dodger was completely out of his mind, and ya know what? I was sick of it... so I yelled! It wasn't just a regular kind of yelling either. This was a loud, deep, angry, drawn out, "DOOODGEEER NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!" Dodger ceased barking and jumping at the door and cowered back into the kitchen, Jasmine crawled over to me, flipped over and lay on her back with her tail between her legs, Squish, well I don't know where Squish ended up, but it was AWESOME! I was able to walk to the door, unlock it, and let Jeff in without any dogs close by. Since then I have been applying this new technique whenever the dogs start to freak out. The family calls me "The Dog Yeller, I liberate people, I yell at dogs."

I'm sure my technique would never be endorsed by any other dog professionals, and I'm not saying going to such extreme measures is warranted in all cases, but, if you're just not able to get through to your canine by any other means, try yelling.

disclaimer: no animals were harmed, nor will they be harmed by the use of dog yelling. Dog yelling is not about losing your temper, it's about yelling loud and strong enough to be heard over four freaking, barking, insane dogs.

Thursday, March 27, 2008


...AND OTHER FUNNY CHILDHOOD EXPLANATIONS! You know those times when you are driving with your kids in the car and there is time to talk. Conversation with kids can be so random. My kids like to hear stories from my childhood since I had six siblings and we could get pretty crazy. One thing leads to another and pretty soon we are talking about funny things we thought or imagined to explain everyday questions. For example, Kaylee told us she used to think there were mice (dressed in little clothes) living in the traffic lights who scurried around connecting wires to make the lights change from red to green and then green to yellow and back to red again. That's when Jeff chimed in to say he had a similar explanation, except he thought it was babies holding different colored flashlights! We had a good laugh about that one. When people would talk about horse power in cars, I used to think they actually killed horses and took their power to run the car. Good stuff. Of course, later on when the real story of how traffic lights work, or how cars get their horse power is revealed, it makes more sense!

This all led to discussion of funny or complicated stories from all different cultures and societies around the world, and in history. You can see why the Greeks and Romans needed their Gods, and the Native Americans needed their Spirit Guides. I guess as Human Beings, we are born with the innate desire to explain the unknown.

So come on now... share your funny childhood myths or stories!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


DAY SEVEN: Another fun day at sea
We really needed a day off at this point in the cruise. After two fun but busy days in the sun and surf, it was time to kick back and relax a bit. We wandered around the ship, checked out the gym and spa, watched some of the activities, and even participated in a couple. Kaylee and Ryleigh spent a little time decorating cookies and then Kaylee entered the ice cream eating contest. She didn't win a trophy for her age group, but Aunt Mindi did win in group! Yay Mindi!
This kids even took time for a little nap while Jeff and I napped and then sat out on our balcony to take in the beautiful sunset on the
water. I know I've said it before, but the Caribbean is just paradise!
That night was our second formal dinner. The kids had been waiting to try escargot and tonight was their chance. Kaylee tolerated it and Brit really liked it. I'm sure most people have heard about the food on a cruise, but for me it's not just the food, it's the service and entertainment that goes along with it. There are many places to eat on the ship and you don't have to eat in the dining room every night, however, we didn't want to miss a thing, so we made it to dinner every night.

After dinner we were greeted by...

DAY EIGHT: Nassau, Bahamas

We reserved a dolphin encounter excursion for this stop and we were really excited! We left the ship in search of a cab to take us to the encounter, but we had some time to kill so we decided to go to a beach first. We put ourselves in the hands of our cab driver who took us on a dead end road, dropped us off and told us to "walk this way" and we would find ourselves on a beautiful beach. Umm... this time our impromtu beach plans were not so satisfactory. In case you didn't know this, the Bahamas is a whole different country. It's beautiful and all, but you are not getting out of there without spending a $100 or two dollars before you realize what hit you! But we picked ourselves up off the ground and set out for Paradise Island where we had a date with a dolphin. The tender ride to the island was gorgeous and as soon as we docked we knew we were in for something special. There is something about witnessing dolphins swimming around you that excites the kids in everyone! After a short orientation we were ready to meet Abaco. She is an eight year old female dolphin, born at the reserve, and trained to interact with guests. We got to get into the water with her and pet her, get hugs and kisses, and even dance with her. Kaylee squealed and smiled the whole time. It's one of those things that just cannot be described, that has to be experienced. They call it "the experience of a lifetime" and I believe it.

Too soon our time was up and it was time to return to the ship for our last dinner, last show, last night on board. We were definitely dragging our feet. Nassau was beautiful and for the most part we enjoyed our day in the Bahamas.
Our last friend of the trip...
We woke up early enough to have one last breakfast on board. Then we finished packing, left the ship, and headed back to Ft. Lauderdale. We had been calling this our trip of a lifetime, but we've decided that we've got to do it again! You only live once, right? I guess we've decided to enjoy the ride!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


DAY FIVE: St. Thomas, USVI

Welcome to St. Thomas! This was the morning that really made us sure that spending a few extra dollars for a balcony room was worth it. St. Thomas harbor is stunning! The island itself is gorgeous as well. On the itinerary for today was a catamaran ride to Buck Island and then snorkel at Shipwreck Cove. The skies were a bit overcast again so we were worried our outing would be cancelled or rained out, but we were able to set sail on time. We sailed for about 45 minutes and then got geared up for the snorkel portion. The kids had never really been in the ocean before (except to play in the waves in San Diego), let alone snorkeled in 25-50 ft. depths, so Jeff and I were crossing our fingers that they would at least try it. Kaylee was nervous and nearly stayed behind, but she took some deep breaths and got in! It was fantastic! We saw colorful fish, a sea turtle, urchins, and coral. And, of course, we saw the shipwreck! The whole experience was everything we'd hoped and more. After an hour or so in the water it was time to get back on the catamaran for some island music, snacks, and the trip back to St. Thomas.

After grabbing some lunch, we decided to shop in the "duty free" shops. It was tempting to buy a bunch of jewelry and great prices until I remembered that I need more jewelery like I need a hole in my head. So, I got some Lladro instead, heehee. Kaylee bought a rasta hat, Jeff got some postcards, and Brit got a couple of souvenirs. It was a nice ending to a great day. After re-boarding the ship, we enjoyed another yummy dinner in the dining room and turned in early. Look who was waiting for us...

DAY SIX: San Juan, Puerto Rico

This was the only day we were not too sure about. We booked ahead all our excursions through the cruise line for all the other ports of call, except this one. We just couldn't find anything offered that would work for us. At the last minute, Jeff was searching the internet and came across a website for a tour of all the old Forts of San Juan by sea. We thought, hey, we could give it a try... we've got nothing else planned! We thought it could be really cool, or it could really suck. Turns out it was really cool!!! We took a short cab ride to the dock and met our guide. We then were assigned Sea Dos and were soon on our way. We rode through the bay and got to see the Forts by sea, play around and even had dolphins swim along with us! Can you believe it? I didn't see them, but both Jeff and Bryon had them swimming alongside their Sea Dos! Soon I realized we were heading out of the bay into the open water. The further we got, the bigger the swells, the more I was freaking out! I started to hyperventilate because I was so scared. After a few minutes of going slow and slowing the whole group down, I realized that our machines were going to keep us afloat, so I calmed down and had fun. We played in the waves for a while and then it was time to head back. What an amazing adventure!!!
After such a thrilling morning, we couldn't bring ourselves to just get back on the ship yet, so we asked our cab driver to take us to a beach. We trusted he would pick a good one for us. He dropped us at a public beach where we were able to enjoy the beautiful water, the sunny skies, and the colorful local atmosphere. I'm pretty sure we were the only tourists at this beach. Kaylee and Ryleigh made a new friend, Aviana. She never stopped talking, and they never understood a word of her Spanish. She was so cute though!
Back on board we got ready for dinner. The show this night was a hypnotist, always a crowd pleaser.

Monday, March 17, 2008


DAY THREE: Half Moon Cay

There is just no way to describe the water in the Carribean. It is beyond beautiful, and this was the day we had hours and hours to swim in the crystal clear water, and enjoy the beach. The sand at Half Moon Cay was like sugar! We booked a small excursion at this stop called the Stingray Encounter. We were allowed to take snorkel gear into an enclosed pool to view and then feed stingrays. We didn't love this excursion, but felt it was worth the money simply to get the photo below. See if you can pick out why we consider this pic so valuable...
You may have to click on it to enlarge it. I should say here that we felt like we tried to educate our kids as much as possible on what to expect when leaving the country, and how to be tolerant of people from around the world. But I guess you can never prepare yourself or your kids for everything! I should also mention that I questioned spending extra money for new swimsuits for this trip when my old ones still kinda fit. But I am now a strong believer in updating swimwear from time to time as one may grow out of theirs.
After our "encounter", we spent the rest of the day lounging on the beach and swimming in the ocean. This was a near perfect day, except for the pesky overcast skies, and the fact that we somehow forgot to get sunscreen on Kaylee's face, and the battery for our underwater camera died and we were forced to buy a disposable camera with old fashioned film! Ooops! Some of the highlights were... Speedo Guy, catered lunch on the island courtesy of Carnival, perfectly clear waters, and the most beautiful sand I've ever seen. That night we came back to the ship for dinner and then went back to our room to see which towel animal had been left for us...

DAY FOUR: A Fun Day At Sea

Well, at least that's what Carnival calls it. This day we were traveling the whole time so we had more time to explore the ship and kind of relax and hang out. Some of the highlights from day four were... Teddybear Workshop for the younger kids. It was similar to Build-A-Bear, except that the kids had to hand stuff their animals. Kaylee chose the calico cat, no surprise there! Cousin Ryleigh chose a puppy.
Another fun thing about our day at sea was our first "Formal Night" in the dining room. We dressed up, had a fabulous dinner, and then had some family pics done. Kaylee and I bought new gowns for the occasion, and the boys got new ties. We loved eating in the dining room each night because the food and service are fantastic.
Tonight another towel animal was waiting for us.

Sunday, March 16, 2008



We left Salt Lake Int'l early on Friday Feb. 28th, too early for my liking, and set out on our long flight to Ft. Lauderdale. After eight hours or so and one stop and lay over in Chicago... we arrived!!! We caught a cab to our hotel on the beach and started celebrating. Ft. Lauderdale was a fun start to our vacation. We walked on the beach, had some dinner and waited for Jeff's sister and family to arrive. At night we walked along the beach to "Bubba Gump's" restaurant for some delish cuisine. Some other highlights from our first day were the beach at night, and wearing shorts!


Day two we woke up to a gorgeous sunrise right out our window. We flew into Ft. Lauderdale, but needed to board our ship in Miami, so we decided to hire a big stretch limo to get us there.
Once on the ship we had to check out our room, then, go for the food!
After overeating (this wouldn't be the last time either), we spent some more time exploring the ship, eating in the dining room for the first time, and checking out the shows that night. We decided to hit the hay a little early though to make sure we were ready for the next day at our first port of call.

There's always time for a family photo on the top deck :)

Saturday, March 15, 2008


Yesterday I spent four hours creating my post on our Carribean cruise. I downloaded tons of pics, wrote cute and witty (or at least I thought so) captions, and then it crashed! I guess I put too much info in one post or something because I can't even go in and edit it anymore!!!

I'm so frustrated and angry at this point, that I'm just not going to try to recreate it. At least not right away. We did have an amazing time on our Carribean vacation and it has been pretty difficult to get back into everyday life and the cold, snowy weather. Below are a couple of my favorite pics from the cruise... until I feel better they will have to do.