Florida Gators and Cruise 2: Day 8 November 14, 2018

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Continued from last night: The boat was pretty rocky, really like super rocky. Since Robby had removed his patch because of his eyes being dilated, he soon was a bit sea sick. I had already tried my “magical sea sickness” oil (I put quotes around that because I really don’t think it does anything, but I happily talk it up to anyone who thinks they might be a bit sickly.) I had also given Robby some dramamine, but since he didn’t keep that on his stomach for long, he decided to go back to the patch.

The patch must have helped because he seemed to fine this morning. He was moving rather slowly since my crew had already been to breakfast and he was still in bed when we returned with his requested cinnamon rolls.

There was a loud clang of thunder when we were eating breakfast, but by the time that we made it back to the room the skies were already brightening some. Whitman opted for cereal and a banana in the room. The replace a basket of fresh fruit every day, and my kids go to town on eating the fruit. So far Robby has been able to save Whitman a banana though for each morning.

Graham had spent the night in Grannymom’s room, so he went to breakfast early. Anderson went once and brought food back down to the room. As we were leaving breakfast, we found both boys playing ping pong on the deck. The pool deck can be covered so it was dry out there. But the dryness doesn’t change the rocking-the pool is rocking so much that it is just insane. On our other boats, they would close the pool, but not this one. It is like a wave pool.

Whitman, Keaton and I played a round of Sorry as the boat pulled into the dock at San Juan. It was rainy and yucky outside, but we could still see the massive fort walls surrounding the city. Everyone met up for lunch-I do believe everyone was eating breakfast upstairs at the buffet because it was pretty hard for us to find a seat.

After eating, we headed to the rooms to grab our bags before leaving the boat. However, it was raining pretty good outside so we weren’t in any hurry. Thankfully, the radar showed that the rain would soon be ending and indeed it did. I am so glad that it did because I have been super excited about our day in San Juan.

We left the boat and headed towards Casa Cortez-a chocolate cafe in the heard of old San Juan. To get there we had to cross the 400 year old blue cobblestone streets. It is a beautiful old city. It was as if, we hadn’t had anything to eat all week-everyone was super excited about eating some of the churros that I bought and dipping them in their homemade hazelnut sauce. I could have certainly had some more of that.

After eating our snack, we headed up the hill to the first fort-Castillo San Felipe del Morro or we could just call it San Juan National Historic Park. The fort is massive, and we barely covered it all. We were worn out by the time that we made it there since it seemed to be uphill most of the way.

Grannymom and Grandpa got an uber back to the boat, and we pressed on after the first fort. The walk to the second fort, Castillo de San Cristobal, wasn’t too bad at all. Though it seemed to be a bit uphill-thankfully, it was super cloudy today so we weren’t burning up.

The second fort had dungeons to explore so that was neat along with a movie to watch. We walked in during the end of one movie. As soon as we walked through the doors, I could tell that it was at the very end of the movie, because at least 3 folks were sound asleep. Yes, I can’t laugh too hard because I am usually the one snoozing during the films.  

From there, we stamped our national passport books and walked back down towards our boat. We had done a little bit of walking so everyone was rewarded with a coke. We sat in a bench in front of the boat and drank our cokes. Then we boarded the ship once again.

The tvs in the rooms have tons of movies on-right now Reagan is watching the second Ant Man. And gracious, I keep getting distracted watching all of these movies too. We missed our dinner seating because we were still exploring so around 7 we headed to the buffet to eat dinner. This time I did remember to take my jacket with me-even though we are on a tropical island, it is still cold inside.

Speaking of cold, I am just a bit disappointed that the first snowfall of the year has occured while I am out of town-not just out of town but out of the country. Hopefully, there will be plenty more snow this year. Though as much as we have been missing school lately with this trip, maybe I shouldn’t hope for snow or we will never finish school this year.

We ate our supper-I had an empanada, pineapple salsa and chips, sweet potato fries, fried rice in a bell pepper, chocolate pudding, a cookie and ice cream. And yes, I was just looking at my fitbit wondering if 16,000 steps is enough to cancel out all of that...plus what I have eaten for the rest of the day.

After we ate, Robby and I played ping pong with Keaton and Graham. Campbell and Whitman went to kids’ club for a little bit. I am actually going to pick them up in about 15 minutes. Keaton headed to Grannymom’s room to spend the night while Reagan, Anderson and Graham watched some movies.

It has been a pretty perfect day-hopefully, our short little ride tonight to the Virigin Islands won’t be too rocky (doubt it). Robby doesn’t think that we will be able to make it to the National Park there, but who knows what the day will bring.

Florida Gators and Cruise 2: Day 7 November 13, 2018

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Last night’s update-after picking up Keaton and Campbell from kids’ club, I asked how Whitman acted. Keaton looked confused and said that he didn’t really do anything wrong. Campbell said that he walked too fast. Hmm, okay, hearing their reports did make me feel a bit better about his behavior.

As I was talking to the kids’ club lady, I asked how many kids they usually had. She said that they usually have 10 kids on the boat so maybe one would show up. She continued with that this week has 40 kids so they had around 10 tonight. Maybe the lady is just a bit sour that she has to work this week! She continued that their median age is 65-so glad that I am still under their median age.

The girls and I met Whitman and Robby upstairs in the buffet this morning. We all ate and then headed down for a tour of the kitchen. We had to wait in a bit of a line to walk through the kitchen area. I am sure that we only saw a good portion of the kitchens, but they were still pretty massive. The man said that they do 400-500 room service orders a day.

Campbell did pick out a room service meal for her to have this morning. It came on time, but was probably the smallest of meals on the menu-pastries, yogurt and fruit. So she joined us upstairs but only picked out a muffin.

Back to the kitchens, there were a massive amount of people already cooking this morning Everything also looked very polished and clean, but I guess stainless steel everything will do that.

Once that was over, we walked right across the hall to America’s Test Kitchen. There is a show, which we don’t watch, but they also have a partnership with Holland America. They do food shows on the cruise. The theme of today’s was Italian, so they made a pasta dish and a meat something or another. It was interesting to watch, yet a bit too fancy of cooking for me!

We then found Robby and Reagan in the observatory. The boys had been off playing ping pong and probably basketball. Then everyone went downstairs to put on their bathing suits. We all ate outside-it was pretty difficult to find a spot since everyone seemed to be on the pool deck.

I will say this though-gracious people dress all kinds of ways. Grown men should not wear speedos (really, no man should wear speedos), robes should only be worn if other people can tell that you have something under them, and really you should have to pass a test to wear a bikini (though I would hate to have the job of bikini judge.)

After eating, the kids swam. There was one old lady who hollered at Whitman for kicking his feet and then she also gave Graham an evil eye when he cannon balled into the pool. For the most part, the older folks on the cruise have been very nice. Though if I see one more person use their finger to count my kids, I might just get a bit crazy! Just a reminder, saying things like, “wowzers, what a big group” is really not a nice thing to say. Probably better to say though than “boy, you sure have your hands full.”

Anyway, Keaton wanted to go to the cooking show this afternoon so her, Grannymom and I went. We snuck out early since the menu was polenta and gnocchi and went to the flower decorating class. We watched the man throw together two beautiful flower arrangements.

We then walked upstairs to get Keaton some ice cream, of course I might have had some too. Then it was back to the room for a little bit. I napped but no one else in my room was still for any length of time. Campbell and Graham were probably the most restless, but eventually we did stir and head to explore a bit more.

We played ping pong a few times-it was kind of crazy playing on a rocking boat with crazy wind. I kept trying to excuse my ping pong skills on the wind and waves, but Graham did not agree. I chatted up a port guy who told me all about San Juan, and then we hurried to meet Robby and everyone else.

Grannymom and Grandpa had a fancy dinner tonight in one of the dining rooms so we skipped our fancy meal since they wouldn’t be there. Tonight was one of the Gala Nights so people are dressed up pretty fancy on this boat while we are walking around in our shorts and t-shirts.

We ate in the buffet and even it was a bit classier at night time. We all found something that we wanted. The kids’ club was calling Campbell, Keaton and Whitman. Graham kind of wanted to go, but this kids’ club doesn’t really compare to the Norwegians kids’ clubs so we urged him not to go.

Instead, he joined us and Reagan at the show. It was a fancy dancing and singing show. Don’t be surprised to read that both Reagan and Graham didn’t make it through the whole show even though it was just about 45 minutes.

Afterwards, Graham went to Grannymom’s room to sleep in there tonight. Next on the agenda is picking up the girls and Whitman from the kids’ club. Hopefully, things went better tonight. Tomorrow afternoon is San Juan so I am pretty excited about that!

Florida Gators and Cruise 2: Day 6 November 12, 2018

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We had selected room service this morning because we thought we might sleep in a bit. My alarm was set for 8:30, but my crew was wide awake at 7. Reagan said it last night and I certainly agree, that having a balcony may not be all that it is cracked up to be.

Now, it does give you a bit more living space when people are sitting outside instead of the room. It is also beautiful to look out over the rail and see the beautiful ocean. However, last night it was like we were riding on the side of an 18-wheeler. I guess the boat was going so fast that everything was rattling making an incredible noise. Then this morning, as we were docking everything started rattling and shaking again.

That is probably the reason that there was no sleeping in this morning from my cabin. I do think that Robby’s cabin slept longer than ours Actually, I know they did because I was already dressed and sitting outside waiting on our room service when the girls got their first sighting of Whitman.

Nassau, Bahamas was our port of call this morning. I was pretty excited because this is a new country for all of us. Our other stops are all U.S. Territories so they won’t count on our country totals.

While we were getting ready, Reagan, who has a bit of a cold, laid in bed watching a Harry Potter movie. Our breakfast eventually came. It was quite fun getting room service-I especially enjoyed the box of granola that I had selected. Most everyone had gotten omelettes which are not my favorite so I just munched on everyone’s else's plates while eating my yogurt and granola.

Soon after we had finished our breakfasts, we walked to Grannymom and Grandpa’s room. It didn’t take us too long to walk off the boat into the streets of Nassau. Now, it was an eye opening event for the kids. There were indeed lots of people asking about hair braiding and taxis.

As we stopped to get a map, I saw Whitman walking away following a man with a red shirt. He was only steps from me. I called his name, and he turned around and ran back. He told me that he thought it was Daddy and from his height lots of rear ends probably do look the same.

This kind of un-nerved him so he held tightly to my hand. The cars, horns and people calling at us also bothered Keaton, so she was holding tightly to my other hand. We walked straight towards the Queen’s Staircase. It was a decent little walk with very few decent sidewalks.

The Queen’s Staircase was built to commemorate the endings of slavery. It was oddly built by slaves and is also a shortcut to Fort Fincastle. Right before the staircase, it was a breezy walkway cut out of limestone. We climbed the staircase and ended up at the top of Fort Fincastle.

We walked around the Fort where we could see the entire city. It was a beautiful view with Atlantis resort in the background. From there, we walked back down the hill back towards the boat. The walk back was a much prettier one, but we were still hot by the time that we made it back to the boat.

Robby, Whitman and Anderson then stayed in the room while the rest of us went exploring the boat. We started at the bottom of the ship on floor 1 and walked through almost every public area up until floor 12. Now, at one point Reagan left to head back to the room. Campbell and Keaton also went back downstairs so by the time we made it to the top, it was just Graham and me.

After we finished exploring the ship, we played a few rounds of ping pong and then ordered his pizza before meeting everyone else for lunch. Most folks today had pizza or hamburgers. I stuck with the buffet again eating fried rice and lo mein noodles.

After we ate, we did the next logical thing-a nap! Now, I do believe that Campbell, Robby and I are the only ones who went to sleep. Graham might have for a few seconds. Reagan watched a movie and entertained Whitman in my room and everyone else vegged out on their ipads.

I woke up right before it was time to go to trivia. All the kids except for Whitman went to trivia with me. We did not too bad-6 out of 15 questions. I was pretty pleased with that. Afterwards, we found Grannymom and Grandpa upstairs. We, of course, were there to get ourselves some ice cream.

Keaton, Campbell, Grannymom and I then went to see the wildlife man talk and look for animals on the side of the boat. He has a fancier name than wildlife man, but I’m not sure what t is. We didn’t see any animals, so we headed off to do some more exploring.

There wasn’t too much time until it was time to get dressed for supper. Lots of hair stuff was happening in my room. Campbell borrowed my sweater last night and wore Keaton’s scarf tonight. She likes dressing up!

Supper was good again tonight. We did receive a few nice compliments on the kids behavior. Now, at one point a server was talking to Whitman. She asked what his name was, and he told her his full name-first, middle and last. Then she said, “what do you want for me to call you?” I assumed that his answer would be “Whitman.” Of course, I was wrong and his answer was “Speedy Pickles.”

After dinner, the girls changed clothes and Whitman, Keaton and Campbell headed off to kids’ club while the rest of us went to the comedian. The comedian was semi child appropriate. I had to explain a few jokes to Graham though I did not explain to him what viagara was.

When the comedian was finished, the boys headed back to the room to watch a movie. They have all of these movies on the tv, and all of the kids are getting their movie fill in since they can watch a little bit each time they are in the room.

Robby and I went to pick up the kids’ club crew. Keaton and Campbell didn’t want to leave yet, so we let them stay a bit longer. The worker did say that Whitman was having a bit of a hard time listening so we snatched that boy up and brought him back to the room with us. Bless, Whitman. He just marches to a different drummer. We did tell him that he could have one more chance tomorrow so hopefully he will do better. (If I were a betting woman, I would say that the odds are not in his favor.)

The sea is a bit rocky tonight-not too bad. Robby took off his seasickness patch the other day. We are not sure what happened on Sunday but his eyes were super dialated. It could be a patch side effect or he may have touched his eyes after touching the patch. They are improving but he wasn’t too thrilled about his eyes getting messed up again. Hopefully, without a seasickness patch, he will do fine on this rocky boat.

I plan to get the girls in about 25 minutes. I am sure that they will not be ready to leave, but by 10, it is bedtime. Tomorrow is sea day so the only real plans are a few activities that we have circled from our daily agenda.

Florida Gators and Cruise 2: Day 5 November 11, 2018

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Whitman crawled in our bed early this morning. He is pretty snuggly in the mornings so I didn’t really mind too much. Robby and I heard the early morning risers coming back from their breakfasts.

We begin getting ourselves ready and then went down ourselves. We didn’t make as big of a mess as the others did when they were there. Keaton had somehow gotten chocolate all over her pink shirt this morning. Grannymom had worked on her shirt some and then I did a bit more. It think that we were able to get the chocolate mostly out since she has to wear that shirt 2 more days before I can do laundry. Isn’t that horrible-been on this boat for less than 12 hours, and I’m already stressing about laundry.

As we were driving around the famous street in Ft. Lauderdale, which is Las Olas. We came upon a street fair or show of some kind. I looked at the sign and quickly thought that it wasn’t for us-the sign read Exoctica. That doesn’t sound too child friendly. However, upon closer inspection the Exoctica was a car show of some type.

The boys were in heaven looking at all of the cars. They had my phone and took around 50 pictures. Then when they were done taking pictures, they sent them all to their ipads. We looked around at all of the fancy, super fast cars.

Robby dropped me off at one 7-eleven so I could look for my ornament, but nope it wasn’t there. Then a bit later, we went to another one to buy drinks for everyone. Robby wanted them to have one last taste of coke since they wouldn’t be getting any for the next few days on the boat. I had almost given up finding my Slurpee ornament when Graham stood right next to it. Yippee. I now have one more ornament for the tree….not that my trees need anything else hanging off of them. I really probably need a few more trees so I can hang up all of my travel ornaments.

Soon, Robby was dropping us off at the boat terminal. We grabbed our bags-8 bags/backpacks, 3 suitcases, 1 duffle bag and 1 cord box. It didn’t take Robby long at all to drop off the car and then return on the shuttle. By the time that he returned, we had all pottied and had a piece of candy.

Of course there were a few lines for us to wait in before we boarded the boat-document check line, security line and then check in line. Whitman was so excited during all of this that he could hardly stand still.

Once we made it onto the boat, we headed to our rooms. We are in two balcony rooms which are right next to each other. There are two twin beds, a bed that comes from the ceiling and a couch that makes into a bed. The room is bigger but when you add all of our stuff, it becomes pretty crowded quickly.

Not only is having a balcony room completely new to us, sailing on Holland America is too. Everything is just a little bit different-the carpet is different, the dining room is different. It will take us about 7 days to figure it all out.

We did go down to the kids club to check it out. It opens tomorrow-Whitman can’t wait. Reagan did look at the teen room, and the lady told her that there were only 8 teens on the boat! Ha! She probably won’t venture don’t there at all. Hopefully, they will have some programming so Whitman will be happy.

We went to lunch in the buffet area. I couldn’t find jello for Whitman, but my picks were great. Salsa and guacamole were delicious along with a BLT. I think that everyone was very pleased with the quality of the food….and the plentifulness of the ice cream.

So after we ate lunch, we went back to the room to work on unpacking some more. I unpacked us and unpacked some in Robby’s room. I think that we are settled, but I am not sure if I put everything where it should go. Time will tell, I guess.

Before too long, we had our life boat drill. Nothing like being herded around the ship with 2000 of your closest friends. It really wasn’t too bad at all. Before too long, we were back in our rooms getting ready for dinner.

This was the first night on a cruise that Whitman hasn’t fallen asleep during our first dining room meal. The last two cruises, on the very first night he has fallen asleep with his head on the table. Again, the food seems to be really nice. The kids meal food was simple food but really good quality. I enjoyed my picks-creme brulee, pasta and baked potato soup.

Dining room meals just last a long time-2 hours. Afterwards, the kids all went swimming. It was pleasant outside and we stayed for a good while. Of course most everyone needed a snack before we headed back to our rooms.

My girls had showers and so did the boys. Then I sat in the boys room for a bit working on the blog while my girls watched a bit of a Harry Potter movie, planned the day tomorrow and picked out their breakfast room service menu.

Florida Gators and Cruise 2: Day 4 November 10, 2018

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After sleeping wonderfully well, we all stirred and headed down the breakfast. Anderson, Graham, Campbell and Keaton went down to breakfast together. Soon Whitman and Robby followed. Then Reagan and I went down.

It was a good breakfast with plenty of options including a blueberry bagel which did make me happy. They still didn’t have any flavored cream cheese, but maybe I am just focused on the eggs benedict that I am hoping for on the cruise.

Once we ate, we loaded up the cart. As Anderson was bringing the cart up the elevator, a lady commented to him, "you have done this before." He said that he replied. "Yes ma’am, this is not my first rodeo."

From our hotel, it was probably only 15 minutes until we made it to Miami Beach. There was plenty to see, and we didn’t even make it to the nude beach. We took a picture by the iconic Miami something or another. I guess it is a calendar. We kept calling it a clock until we walked aay and Graham said, "that clock doesn’t even tell the time." True, is just said that date and the temperature.

We walked down to the beach and stuck our feet in the Atlantic. We have now been to the Pacific and Atlantic in just a few months plus we have also been to a Great Lake plus yesterday's’ Gulf of Mexico. Not too bad for a family of Southerners.

We then drove around Miami Beach. Robby and i were probably more interested in the Art Deco buildings than the kids were. The kids were actually busy picking out which boat they would buy. Anderson asked if we had never gone on any trips, if we could buy one of the boats that we were admiring. Robby said that we probably could not have (I disagreed) but he did say that we would have been able to get new kitchen cabinets.

From there, we headed to the Miami Holocaust Memorial. It was pretty massive and interesting. The kids have heard some about WWII and even some about the Holocaust, but wow, the pictures on the walls were pretty eye opening.

7-eleven was the next stop. The kids were thrilled with their icees, but I was pretty disappointed. As you can imagine, this 7-eleven did not have the slurpee Christmas ornament that I was going to buy. Oh, well, I bet that we will hit a few more before we get back to the land of no 7-elevens.

We had not driven too far when Whitman’s slurpee caught up with him, and he needed to go to the bathroom. We pulled off the interstate to a busy street, but had to drive forever until we finally made it to a Burger King to potty at.

Afterwards, we ran into the Five Below to buy some sunglasses for the girls. We had left theirs at home. So after we had our drinks, pottied and had new sunglasses we were finally back on the road to Biscayne National Park

For some reason, it seemed that we took wrong turn after wrong turn to get there. Towards, the last few minutes I was making lunch in the back while Robby was driving through backroads of palm tree farms. We were beginning to worry about the accuracy of our GPS. Thankfully, we did make it and finished our lunches for a few minutes in the car.

Then we headed towards the visitor’s center at Biscayne National Park. Robby and I have been there in the past and after receiving the kids’ Jr. Ranger badges, we took off on the short little trail that we did last time. It was through the Mangrove trees. The park was quite festive today with lots of picnics and people fishing.

Afterwards, it was back to the car for a drink and to drive towards tonight’s hotel. We had a bit of re-packing and re-arranging to do. Once in the hotel, Robby and I worked moving things around into two different piles-cruise and not cruise. We even did a load of laundry while some of the kids showered. All of the kids enjoyed the cookies from the front desk, and I am sure that we have even eaten 2 dozen of their cookies already.

We worked a bit around the hotel, then everyone loaded up to go and see Grannymom and Grandpa at the airport. Robby dropped all of us off, and we ran in to greet them. We didn’t have to wait too long before they came out of their gate.

We had already figured out where there baggage was going to be delivered and would you believe that there luggage was the very first that came on the carousel. The kids grabbed Grannymom and Grandpa’s suitcases and we headed to find Robby. He had to park upstairs so we took two escalators and were soon at the car.

From there, we zoomed on back to the hotel. While Whitman showered and Robby started the laundry, I heated up supper-chicken soft tacos, nachos, hot dogs, banana bread, chips and salsa, strawberries and blueberries. It was a real buffet-I guess that I was getting us ready for the cruise ship.

We worked all evening long getting things settled and organized to get on the boat. I made my list of how many bags we will have as we board the boat-so far the count is at 4 suitcases, 1 duffle bag and 8 bags or backpacks. I am pretty sure that there will be at least 2 more bags...now if our bags are this stuffed right now, how full will they be when we leave the cruise? Gracious me! I should have majored in packing logistics.

Around 10, we all started to bed down for the night. Graham, Campbell and Keaton are sleeping in the living room area with the plan of going to breakfast early with Grannymom and Grandpa. Tomorrow will be another big day and my crew is super excited about getting on that big boat.

Now, Robby and I saw a cruise ship today that didn’t look too super exciting. He even thought that maybe it was out of service. I checked, and it looked like we could sail out on it today. So now in the back of my mind, I am a bit concerned that maybe our boat might be a bit scary looking too. I doubt it, at least I hope not. Fingers crossed!

Florida Gators and Cruise 2: Day 3 November 9, 2018

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We all slept super well last night. Reagan may have done a bit of snoozing on the coffee table which we moved beside her and Keaton’s little sleep sofa. Robby was the first one to wake up and get ready. Soon everyone was stirring, zipping up bags and heading downstairs to breakfast.

Before we left for breakfast, everyone brushed and I did have no complaints with the toothbrushes so I guess we should be good. If we can only keep up with them!

I think that I could be a good buyer for hotel breakfasts-granola and flavored cream cheese would be excellent things for people to add to their menus. I must have been complaining enough the past two mornings that Robby has offered to find me some packets of flavored cream cheese for the ice chest.

Our first stop this morning was Naples Pier which was just a short drive from our hotel. It was a beautiful drive-even Anderson commented that it seemed like we were in a rich neighborhood.

As we were walking along the pier, Robby heard two old men sitting on a bench. They were mumbling something about us “must being Catholic.” Robby was quick to respond back, “no, just good Southern Baptist.” They all had a good laugh and then continued to discuss Razorback basketball for a little bit.

The pier was pretty and again, did I mention that it is warm? Like there are freeze warnings at home, and we are sweating here. So strange to me. I even commented to Robby that these people were dressed like they were at the beach-he reminded me that indeed we are at the beach.

Of course, after walking along the pier we couldn’t not go on the sand. Robby an I were going to try to avoid it, but the kids would have revolted if we didn't let them touch the Gulf waters. They stood in the water and Campbell and Keaton collected seashells. Thankfully, we were able to get everyone herded back to the car before anyone was drenched.

Back in the car, I turned on a movie as we drove to Big Cypress National Preserve. Robby wondered if the workers thought we were mystery shoppers, because they were great. They explained everything on the touch table to the kids. There was even a heavy manatee bone-heavy so the manatee can stay under the water longer.

We then watched the movie which was a td biy long but still interesting. Next everyone turned in their Jr. Ranger books to earn our second Jr. Ranger badge of the trip. Down the road a little ways, was the Ochopee Post Office. It is the smallest post office and after seeing it, we all certainly agreed. The kids mailed a few postcards from there, and of course we climbed out to take a picture.

From there, we walked on a boardwalk at Kriby Storter Park. It could have been full of alligators, but instead there wasn’t too many. Well, really there wasn’t any at all. It made me a bit concerned if we were going to see any at all!

Robert Is Here is he name of a fruit stand that Robby and I stopped at when we were in this area a few years ago. It did not disappoint with its Key Lime Milkshake for me. Robby had a strawberry smoothie which Whitman took for his own. Reagan had a mango smoothie and Graham had another strawberry one. The smoothies were fine, not outstanding. Anderson had an orange milkshake which no one really cared for. Keaton and Campbell bought a container of strawberries and a container of blueberries that they shared in the back seat.

Once we left there, we drove back into the southern section of the Everglades National Park. We went to a trail that Robby and I had walked before. That time it had been completely full of alligators. However, my fears that we wouldn’t see any did come true on that trail because we only saw the top of one tiny ole alligator’s head. Gracious.

The kids didn’t seem to mind, but Robby and I were pretty desperate to find an alligator or two for everyone to see. It was like the time that we were in Niagara and had to pray a butterfly to land on sweet little Reagan’s hand.

After leaving the trail area, we drove a bit through more of the Everglades in hopes of seeing an alligator. And that was a big fat No! It was fine though because from there, we headed for one more errand.

While we were waiting on Robby, Whitman said that he needed to go potty. I looked around and nothing nearby looked restroom only friendly. So I made Anderson stand beside me, and we blocked the boy as he went to the bathroom splattering my socks and shoes.

We must have done a good job hiding him because when Robby came back to the car, he didn’t even realize what was happening. From there, we grabbed pizzas and ate in the car as we headed to the hotel.

The car was a pretty much a wreck so it took us a bit of time to straighten things. Once things were nice, we ran in the hotel to get naked-laundry time. I did put Whitman in the shower, and when Robby checked on him, he said that it looked like Whitman was about to fall asleep in the shower.

Indeed he was about to fall asleep. Once I dried him off, he climbed up in my lap and cuddled with me until I had to get up to fold the laundry. He never went to sleep, but I sure could have. We were in bed a bit earlier today than usual, but that was certainly wonderful because I think we needed a bit of extra sleep.

Florida Gators and Cruise 2: Day 2, November 8, 2018

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Last night as we were going to bed, Robby asked me at least twice if I had any alarms set on my phone. I laughed and reminded him about the last trip when it was an un-asked for wake up call waking us up in the middle of the night each night.

It wasn’t my alarm last night, and it wasn’t a wake up call. At 6:30, Graham woke us up saying, “Dad, Dad, there is someone knocking at the door.” We listened and heard nothing. Robby went to the door and looked out the peephole and saw nothing. He told Graham that it was probably a shower knocking somewhere or the refrigerator. Graham was pretty sure it was knocking.

Robby told Graham that he did the right thing by not opening the door, but also said that he would continue to listen. Seconds later, the phone rang. Robby was knocking things over on his side of the room trying to answer the phone, and I was knocking things over on my side also trying to answer the phone.

They were looking for Eddie because it was time to leave. Eddie was not in our room, and unfortunately, most everyone in our room was now awake. It probably didn’t help that I found all of this extremely funny and giggled for the next few minutes. Thankfully, Robby and I were the only ones who didn’t go back to sleep and everyone else snoozed for a little bit longer,

Reagan stirred the slowest today, but we were all able to load up the cart and head to breakfast. We did pack the car before eating our breakfasts. It was kind of a light breakfast-no bagels for me. There was meat so Robby was pleased though.

As I was leaving breakfast, I found another toothbrush bristle in my mouth. Last night, as Robby and I were brushing we both not only spit out toothpaste but lots of bristles from our new toothbrushes. They are just our travel brushes from the Dollar Store. We have bought toothbrushes from the Dollar Store before and not had any problems.

I had hoped that my second brushing this morning would be better, but I did find one more. Robby even asked for a toothbrush from the front desk. He compared it to a plastic spoon, but also finished brushing with shiny teeth and bristles in his mouth!

We will definitely figure all of this out before we step foot on that boat. We certainly don’t want to buy 8 toothbrushes as we did last cruise. That is not the exact way you want to spend 100 bucks!

Robby had a work phone call this morning,. So he dropped us off at Walmart. Reagan said that we looked like we were on a field trip to Walmart. It probably really did look like we were on a field trip since we wandered and wandered around the store. First we had to find buns that we forget to buy for our BBQ that we were going to eat last night. (We had chicken tortillas instead.)

After we found the buns, I went ahead and bought some more toothbrushes. Yes, I hated to do this, especially since Robby brought home about 8 yesterday from work, but it must be done since I don’t want anyone gagging on toothbrush bristles during the week.

I drove for a little bit this morning and then Robby drove us to our stop. We did stop at a rest stop for a potty break. Afterwards, I sat in the back and made everyone’s lunches. It was 2 when we ate, so we were ready to go when we arrived at De Soto National Monument about an hour later.

We had already completed all but one page of the Jr. Ranger book. The only page remaining was a trail walk beside Tampa Bay. It was neat seeing the different plants. We all noticed the temperature difference-cold yesterday and sweaty hot today.

They did have a re-created Indian hut. Whitman was quick to point out that it looked like it was from the Three Little Pigs. Indeed it did. Whitman was on his A game because in the visitor’s center, the worker told us his name was Chuck. A few minutes later, he went on to tell us his whole name (that somehow went along with his story that he was telling us.) He said his name was Charles Patrick Andrew O’Leary (or some other good Irish name like that.) Whitman’s hand shot up, and he proclaimed, “I thought you said your name was Chuck.”

After leaving the De Soto place...and by the way, did you know that De Soto and his men trekked all around Arkansas. I am talking they were everywhere multiple times in Arkansas. After leaving the De Soto place, we stopped at 7-11 for icees. This of course was a super treat for everyone. They even found a 7-11 ornament, that they tried to get my to buy. I would have if it hadn’t have been 10 dollars. Though I am now having seconds thoughts on passing that ornament by. I even tried to find one online but couldn’t anywhere.

From there, we only had 2 more hours to get to tonight’s hotel. Now, after drinking icees, we did have to make a stop before we made it. From that stop, it was just a tiny haul to our hotel. Robby took a few kids into the room to start on their showers while the rest of us unloaded the car. On our way up the elevator, Graham sneezed rather loudly. Whitman looked up at him, patted Graham’s chest and said, “Grahammer, you are a big sneezer.”

The kids were mostly through with their showers by the time that Robby and I had the bbq and mashed potatoes heated for supper. We all ate while I load of laundry was washing. After supper, we finished showers while the kids played on their ipads as the laundry was supposed to be drying.

Unfortunately, the dryers were full so Robby loaded our laundry and headed to a local laundromat. He left his wallet in the room but had plenty of quarters. The place required you to use bills so that didn’t work out. However, when he returned back to the hotel, the dry was empty. That was good except when he had to start it a second time for everything to dry. Laundry can be so difficult sometimes, but I guess it is better than us walking around without undies. (Yes, we packed plenty of undies so that probably wouldn’t really be an issue, but you do get my point!)

After we folded the finally dry laundry, the kids went on to bed. There is nothing better than having all of tomorrow’s clothes laid out on the cabinet along with bags packed with all clean clothes and the laundry bag empty. Well, our laundry bag is not exactly empty-someone forget and left their socks on tonight! Urgh, again, we have plenty of socks so it will be fine.

At bedtime, we told Graham that if anyone was knocking tonight to go ahead and wake us up. Hopefully, we can sleep all night in this hotel room. I am not so sure that Keaton and Reagan will sleep well. They are on a super tiny sleeper sofa so it will all depend on how much they cuddle! Currently, it looks very doubtful at all that they will do well tonight.

Now, Anderson has chosen a sleeping bag and the floor the past two nights because aiming to get the first pick of his cruise ship bed. Since I will be rooming with the girls, I wonder if I should head to the floor tomorrow night so I will get first pick in our room. I certainly don’t want to be on the bunk bed thing. I am sure though that will be a pretty hot ticket so do I want to sleep on the pull out trundle bed or share a bed with a tossing and turning girl. Hmm, having my own bed, even if it is on the floor sounds very appealing. So many decisions to make!

Also we used our new toothbrushes tonight. They are aso cheap, but no one choked on any stray bristles. If Robby were to addsup today’s toothbrush total along with the last cruises’ toothbrush total cost. Then if he counted how many toothbrushes I have at home along with the amount that I have given a way and sent with the kids to church this year-well, if he did all of that, he would choke!