Dennie Kid State and Country Count:

Dennie Kid State and Country Count (June 2, 2018):


Reagan-Complete at 12 years old

May 22, 2018, last state Alaska

Territories-2 (Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands)

Countries-3 (U.S., Canada, Bahamas)


Anderson-Complete at 11 years old

May 22, 2018, last state Alaska

Territories-2 (Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands)

Countries-3 (U.S., Canada, Bahamas)


Graham-Complete at 9 years old

May 22, 2018, last state Alaska

Territories-2 (Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands)

Countries-3 (U.S., Canada, Bahamas)


Campbell-Complete at 8 years old

May 22, 2018, last state Alaska

Territories-2 (Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands)

Countries-3 (U.S., Canada, Bahamas)


Keaton-Complete at 6 years old

May 22, 2018, last state Alaska

Territories-2 (Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands)

Countries-3 (U.S., Canada, Bahamas)


Whitman-Complete at 5 years old

June 2 2018, last state North Dakota

Territories-2 (Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands)

Countries-3 (U.S., Canada, Bahamas)

Florida Gators and Caribbean Cruise: Day 13 November 19, 2018

(click here for today's pictures)


Again, I woke up 15 minutes before my alarm went off. That was fine though because I had plenty of time to reconnect with technology some more. Robby had internet on the boat, but I would only have it for a few minutes and it often didn’t work. I was able to catch up quite a bit last night but do feel all caught up this morning.

Campbell and Keaton went to breakfast with Grannymom and Grandpa this morning. They were excited about the coke machine down stairs. Soon we were all eating our breakfasts and drinking some coke. That is another thing that we have been without on the cruise-cokes. Robby did buy everyone a few times while we were off the boat.

We had about 30 minutes to drive this morning before we arrived at Legoland. This was Anderson’s day that he had been waiting for, and I think that it met all of his expectations. We were near the front of the line to enter the park.

Once the gates opened, we headed to The Dragon roller coaster. Reagan had to say that she was 14 so Keaton could ride with her. We had told the lady that Reagan was 13, but she said, “if you tell me she is 14 then they can ride together.” So we did! And for the rest of the day, Reagan had to say that she was 14 since I was already being the adult rider beside Whitman.

The next thing was a jousting ride. I remember the kids riding this ride when we were at Legoland California. They are getting a bit big for this park, I guess. We knew that going in, but we also knew that Anderson needed one more visit.

The weather was pretty perfect today. It was warm in the sun but pleasant in the shade. Often the sky was even cloudy, but I am pretty sure that we probably still have a few pink noses. Keaton’s face is crazy dry this morning probably from all of the sun that she got on our beach day. Or maybe because she can’t keep her hands off of her face since she is working hard at pulling one of her top teeth.

Next there was a Egyptian themed shooting ride that we all rode on. I did pretty good on that one, There was also Ninjago ride that was comparable to Toy Story at Disney. Except you used your hands to shoot. By the end of the ride, I could barely lift my arms. Maybe I need to hit the gym when we get home-maybe after Thanksgiving, or maybe after my Christmas shopping is done, or maybe after the first of the year.

I don’t even remember this ride, but Graham tells me that it was wooden, fast and rocky. It was called Coastersausus and was dinosaur themed. I am having to use the map to determine where exactly that we went today.

The big 5 went to Driving School. This is also another ride I remember us doing in Legoland California. I think that Reagan was the only one who could go to the big kid driving school. Now, I have 5 kids old enough to go and one will be driving in 2 years.  Eek! It is just slow go carts that the kids drive around a mini town.

They had little kid Driving School that Whitman could go to, but he opted to do a firetruck ride. We had so much fun on it that we made everyone else come with us when they finished their ride. The firetruck ride required you to pump your firetruck to the end of the road, jump out and pump water to put out a fire and then pump the truck back to the starting line. The boys beat the girls, but we all had fun.

Flying School was the next roller coaster. We even rode it twice. It was one that you hang from the top so your legs just dangle. When it was over, we had walked to the end of the park and were at the entrance to the water park which is closed.

Before I knew what was happening, the kids and I jumped in the Lego Race line which was fairly lng-about an hour. It was the longest line that we waited in the whole day. They have all kinds of lego things to do while you wait so the time did pass fairly quickly. It was a virtual reality ride, but Whitman and Keaton weren’t tall enough to wear the headsets so they couldn’t wear them. That also meant that I couldn’t wear one since I had to watch them.

Reagan was in our car and seemed to enjoy her virtual reality headset. I on the other hand probably needed a headset because I could see what was happening and screamed my heart out on the big drop. The picture shows me smiling like a something that smiles really bit, Whitman is beside me grinning and Keaton looks fairly worried. You couldn’t see Reagan’s face because she had on the big headset covering her eyes and most of her face.

When we climbed off of this ride, Robby had bought a cup which we continually refilled all throughout the day. I tell you, we got our money’s worth out of that cup. We stopped and had a little snack from my bag. Then walked down to the area that is full of all of the cities that are built with legos. It is pretty memorable. Whitman loved pushing the buttons that made things move or especially pushing the buttons that made things squirt water out at him.

There was a Star Wars section but we made Anderson wait until a bit later in the day before going back to see that. After walking around there, we headed to the pirate show. It took place on the lake and had skiers doing tricks as they fought off the pirates.

The show was neat-Campbell, Graham, Whitman and Keaton sat down low so maybe they would get wet. They all got a little sprinkled. A pirate did come up to Whitman and “argh” at him. This scared him and he jumped at least 10 feet in the air. It was quite entertaining to all of us!

After the show, we headed back down the hill towards the park exit. But first, we did walk through the Star Wars legoland. Then the kids rode the carousel and the boys did a little shopping. You could also trade minifigures so everyone did that once.

We also walked through the girl legoland area. They only had one ride, but it was closed. So then a few ran to do the first roller coaster again while I took Whitman to a play place that he had seen. We then met back up and headed out of the park. I did get myself a Christmas ornament making this the 5th ornament that I have bought on this trip...and that means that I have bought well over 25 ornaments this year! Eeek! I need not just a bigger Christmas tree but more Christmas trees.

On our way out of the park, Graham, Anderson, Campbell and I walked through the Legoland Hotel. Wow! We wanted to stay there. I took a few pictures, and I think that Anderson may want to own that hotel now! It was pretty awesome on the inside. I am not sure what the rooms looked like, but the lobby was really awesome.

When we made it back to the car, we drove just a few miles to Five Guys and ate a quick bite of supper. I think that everyone was hungry since we had missed lunch. The burgers were good and hit the spot.

Then it was just about an hour before we arrived at the hotel. We did pass Disney World on our way there which made us all a bit sad...but we will return next year. Once we made it to the hotel, Graham and Anderson bunked with Grannymom and Grandpa who will leave for the airport very early in the morning.

Robby will drive them and then come back to collect us. We have a long ways to go tomorrow!

Florida Gators and Caribbean Cruise: Day 12 November 18, 2018

(click here for today's pictures)



I guess after being around all of the older folks on this cruise, I have started to take on a few of their characteristics=-namely waking up early. I first woke up at 5:45 but was thankfully able to go back to sleep for a little bit. However, I was wide awake when Campbell’s room service came a bit before 7:20.  

All of my girls were awake and moving pretty early this morning. Reagan is usually my slowest in the mornings, but she didn’t want to miss the last buffet. I think that you could certainly get used to buffet breakfasts with choices galore.

After our breakfast, we headed back to our room. Robby had taken a few things and put in their bags and left a few things for our bags. We zipped everything up, did a double look to make sure we had everything and before too long they were calling our color.

The lines were not long to get off of the boat, and we found our luggage quickly. The only difficult part was waiting on the shuttle bus. After one or two went by filled to the brim, we crowded on the next one. When I say “crowded” I really mean crowded!

The drive to the car was short, and the car started easily-that is always a relief. Once in the car, we drove for a bit. We stopped for gas, and then Robby and I ran into a grocoery store. We picked up lunch stuff for today and for the rest of the trip. Robby also splurged and bought stuff to make rice krispy treats for the ride home.

Back in the car, we only had to ride for about an hour until we made it back to Big Cypress National Preserve. We were a bit determined to see some more alligators, and this time we did. Below the boardwalk were tons of alligators. They weren’t moving too much, but they were indeed there. Whitman thought that they were just rocks even when he saw them slowly move.

We ate our picnic lunch at a picnic table. It was warm out but while we were eating a cloud covered the sun, and it was perfectly pleasant. The boys played football and as we sat out there, we went through a whole container of cookies.

Then it was back on the road for a few more miles of driving. Actually, for about 3 more hours of driving. I was sitting in the way back with Campbell and Keaton so I just snoozed a way for some of it. We did stop at 7-eleven for gas and snacks. My kids were enamored with the huge Snicker bag gifts that they had in the gas station. I do think I could have probably accomplished all of my Christmas shopping in that little store.

The drive wasn’t really bad at all. My boys knew that we were headed towards Legoland which made them happy. Campbell and Keaton were happy because I was back with them with my computer and phone. Reagan was in the front which delighted her. Whitman was just content as usual.

Once we made it to the hotel, everything came in the hotel. That took two whole carts and lots of hands. After unloading and sorting, Robby went to do a load-or 6 of laundry. This hotel has free laundry and obviously it was picked for that purpose.

While I repacked some things and Robby kept the laundry moving, Grannymom watched Campbell, Keaton and Whitman swim. They had a blast despite the coolish temps outside. By supper time, most of the laundry was drying, everyone had showered and we ate Papa Johns pizza that Robby had picked up.

Whitman’s eyes were really bothering him again tonight. Tonight he was upset about them-they must have really hurt him. We tried drops, we tried another shower but it just took a while for him to calm down and forget that they were bothering him so.

It was nearly 8 when the last load of laundry was dry. I put everything away and then we worked on making rice krispy treats. Since there wasn’t a large enough pan, we used a pizza box lined with syran wrap (that we had to buy) smeared with butter (also bought). It was quite the adventure-this is now the second time during all of our travels that we have made rice krispy treats in a hotel.

Once the treats were ready to be wrapped up, we bedded down in this hotel room. It was just 10, but I think that my crew was all pretty exhausted. I am a bit disappointed that we don’t have a cooking show to watch tonight, but maybe when we get home.

Florida Gators and Caribbean Cruise: Day 11 November 17, 2018

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Time changed last night so I woke up right at 6:30, thinking that I was already late. Instead I was awake an hour early. I spent that hour planning out how we would go about packing up to get off of this boat. I may have done a bit of solitaire playing as well.

Soon it was time to get up and start getting ready for the day. It was fairly easy because we all threw on our bathing suits. The girls and I went to the buffet to eat our breakfasts. I still can’t find any eggs benedict, but have given up on that and moved on to yogurt and granola each morning. I think I would be one happy gal if I could have yogurt and granola every morning at home for breakfast. I didn’t even get around to having a blueberry bagel with strawberry cream cheese on it. I guess there is still tomorrow morning.

Around 9, we boarded a tender to go to Half Moon Cay which is Holland America’s private island. There was another Holland boat there today so the island was not quite that private, but it was still beautiful.

The tender was packed with at least 150 of our closest friends. The ride was short even though it was a bit hot. Thankfully, that was actually the warmest that we were all day long. We soon found a spot on the beach, but moved further away from the tenders and closer to the lunch spot.

The kids could not wait to get in. We probably should have made them wait a bit longer and double and triple checked all sunscreen. I have a few folks that are a bit red places. The top of my back was adequately sprayed, however the bottom of my back is pretty pink.

The water was the most beautiful, clear blue that I had ever seen. The kids were surprised when I told them that I had never swam in water the gorgeous before. The water was shallow so we could go way out. The kids had so much fun playing in the water.

Whitman could have worked on his sand castle for hours. Everyone was content-pretty nice. Now, at 11ish we headed to the eating area to get in line for lunch. The line wasn’t too long, and it was easy for us to find a spot to eat.

There were a few choices, but the hot dogs and hamburgers were already topped with sauce and tomatoes so my kiddos weren’t too crazy about them. Most folks had chicken breasts along with some fruit.

After lunch, Whitman and I headed to the splash pad. He fell once, and after he did, he was finished playing there and wanted to go back to everyone else. As we were walking to them, we met them walking to us. Robby was going to let them rent a toy for a tiny little bit.

They went up to the window and came back with a snorkel and floating mat. I was pretty surprised to see two things...until Robby told me that the guy just let them take them since he wasn’t the normal guy. That was great news for my kids.

They then played the next hour with the snorkel and floating mat. We had to be back on the boat by 2, so a bit before that we headed back to the tender. We tried to beat the crowds, but were just in the middle of them.

Back on the boat, we dumped our towels and went upstairs to the pool the swim a bit more. Reagan and Keaton did stay in the room to take showers. There was another scoop of ice cream or two and another few games of ping pong.

Then Robby and I headed back to the room to work on packing. We packed and packed until it was almost supper time. This was our last supper night and golly, if Keaton didn’t give the friendly little wine steward a hug when we left. Those people were just so nice-I even urged Robby to tip them, but he was quick to say that we tip plenty plus he didn’t have his wallet.

Campbell and Whitman went to kids’ club while the rest of us headed to the show. The boys left after the comedian, and Keaton and Reagan left after a song or two of the band. After the show, I had just sat down to work on the blog when Robby called.

The kids’ club folks had called asking us to come and pick up Whitman. I hurried up there, hurried so fast that I got myself lost! Ha! When I walked in the door, Whitman was just sitting there staring at a movie with his eyes watering. He was fine and had been fine, but his eyes were watery from all of the sand and salt today.

Campbell wasn’t ready to go, of course, but I took them both for one last scoop of ice cream. Then it was back to the cabin for one last cruise night-Reagan has on a movie so we will watch a bit of that and then a cooking show before bed!

Florida Gators and Caribbean Cruise: Day 10 November 16, 2018

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Right after I publish the blog last night, Reagan looked at Whitman and asked, “are you crying?” He was not, but then we looked at the top bunk, and Keaton was up there sobbing. I asked what was wrong and she said that she didn’t feel good. I had her come down and sit in my lap for a little bit.

Her tummy is super sensitive but since this didn’t follow her normal routine, I worked on distracting her. In the meantime, I did tell her that she could sleep in my bed with me. Later, I asked if she was better but did tell her that she could still sleep with me. She said that she was, but we stayed up to watch one cooking show to give her tummy a bit of time to calm down. I really think that she was just so exhausted that she got upset. Either way, she slept all night-I don’t think that either one of us slept well though because a twin size bed is a bit small for two.

At one point, Keaton hit the water glass on the nightstand and it spilled on Reagan and Reagan’s bed. Reagan jumped up and started cleaning it up. Now, rooming with Reagan is like sharing a room with Robby. She makes sure that the curtains are closed so no light can come in. Last night she even laid a towel over the ipads becuase their lights were blinking. She even said that the light on the tv was bothering her as well. These are things that I never notice at all.

This morning, Campbell, who had spend the night in Grannymom’s room, came back to our room at 8:15 to get her bathing suit. She then went for an early morning swim with Grannymom. After coming back to the room a bit later, she left again for Grannymom’s room, and Keaton was not far behind her. Whitman wanted to go back to his room so I took him, and then I got myself ready for the day.

I went to eat with Keaton and before we could get all of our food, Reagan joined us. We ate near the pool which was  already a happening place. The pool deck was very crowded most of the day long. By the time we were finished eating, the boys were upstairs playing a few rounds of ping pong. The boys have enjoyed ping pong and are probably getting decent at it since they have been playing some pretty tough competitors.

Once we finished, I went down and brought Whitman backup for him to eat. Soon Keaton and Campbell were upstairs at the pool getting ready to get in. After Whitman ate, I took him back downstairs to change into her suit. They swan until lunch and then some afterwards.

Everyone else pulled up chairs around our table. The boys would eat some, play ping pong and then come back to eat some more. Keaton, Campbell and Whitman would swim some and then they ordered a pizza. Reagan would come and go as well and even brought her ipad to the deck. Robby grabbed me a crossword puzzle so I worked on that some.

Around 2, Graham and Robby went to watch a movie. The girls went as well but soon came back with bags of popcorn for everyone back in the rooms. Then they went off to explore some. I worked on my blog while Reagan and Whitman watched a movie. Unfortunately, I am not doing a great job at blogging because I keep getting sucked into to their movie and watching it along with them.

This day has been a perfect sailing day. The water is blue and clear. Even though the boat is rocking a bit, it is smooth sailing compared to the other day. There are even little fish that seem to fly away from the boat. It is pretty neat to see, if I only I knew what kind of fish they really were.

Campbell and Keaton went to the kids’ club for about an hour this afternoon. When I picked them up afterwards, it was time to put on our clothes for gala night. Robby said that he bought too many dress clothes, but did even have on a jacket tonight. I would have worn my dress tonight, but Campbell had already claimed my sweater so I just put on my grey funeral pants.

Dinner tonight was fairly fancy. Reagan and Graham had shrimp cocktails. Robby tried a apple sweetbread. He quickly tuned his nose up at it and passed it down to me. I did like the apples, but after trying the sweetbread, I also turned my nose up at it. Robby kept telling me it was bread, but after looking it over it looked like meat of some kind. We eventually asked the waiter and indeed sweetbread is from the throat of a cow. I personally think that is a very misleading name-cow throat would be much more accurate.

Graham and Reagan were my adventurous eaters tonight since they also had the surf and turf. They both ate some of their shrimp, and Reagan tried a few bites of her lobster and said it tasted like shrimp. I am not too sure that Graham tried any lobster at all-hey, at least he ordered it. I didn’t even do that. I stuck with spinach pasta.

Afterwards, just about everyone ordered the chocolate cake except for Whitman who had ice cream and Keaton who had a fruit plate. Campbell went to kids’ club after dinner. Whitman did not want to go because they were watching CoCo and that movie scared him.

So Keaton and Whitman joined us, Grannymom and Grandpa, Graham and Reagan, at the show tonight. It was full of singing and dancing so Whitman may have found where he wants to work. I did ask if he wanted to sing and dance on a cruise ship, and he said no because he would be too far away from me. I did assure him that I would come and visit him often.

Whitman spent the night in Grannymom’s room tonight so after dropping him off, my girls took their showers as we waited for chocolate night this evening. We also turn our clocks back an hour tonight so the chocolate thing will actually be pretty late!

Keaton and Graham went to play ping pong and were to meet us at the chocolate surprise. They couldn’t find us so they walked around looking for us missing the chocolate surprise. We snuck them some chocolate back to the room. During the event, the workers walked around holding trays of chocolate snacks. There were a few different choices, but it was pretty nice to have some real chocolate desserts.

After the chocolate surprise event, it was bedtime for my crew. I had to set my alarm for 6 in the morning! Eeek!

Florida Gators and Caribbean Cruise: Day 9 November 15, 2018

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Everyone in my room slept wonderfully well. I did jump up at 7 because our room service was supposed to arrive between 7 and 7:30. I tried my best to stay awake until they knocked on the door with our 2 omelets, 2 continental breakfasts, 3 boxes of cereal, 3 cups of juice along with the included milks, toast, and croissants (just remember Keaton wasn’t even with us since she was at Grannymom’s room plus I only ordered one box of cereal and a glass of orange juice for me.)

At 7:30, I was awake enough to tell Campbell who was tossing and turning since the boat had just loudly docked to stay awake until room service came. Seconds later they phoned saying they would be a bit late with our room service I headed to the shower. By the time, I gathered my things they were knocking on the door.

Room service is incredibly nice. Maybe we should start having it at our house. Though I think I would be the one delivering the room service so maybe that isn’t such a good idea.

At 8:45, we met up with everyone else to head out to explore the Virgin Islands. We docked at St. Thomas and the goal would have been to make it to St. John to see the U.S. Virgin Islands National Park. However, the ferry from our area of the island was not that often and the ferry from the other area of the island would require a taxi ride there and then another back to the boat. The taxi ride back to the boat was the questionable part since we would be at their mercy and willing to pay anything to get back to the boat.

So Robby had almost given up the idea of the National Park today. He did try to find out if it was possible. Again this island is beautiful but the amount of people hollering at you for a taxi can be a bit unnerving. A taxi man did approach Robby and offered him the 25 dollar island tour for 15 bucks. We agreed and followed him to a back alley to climb aboard the taxi.

As we were about to get on, the taxi boss man came over and started fussing at the driver. I guess that he solicited us improperly so the taxi boss man wouldn’t get his fair cut of the deal. I just about thought that Robby would turn around and walk off, but we ended up getting in the van.

Hmm, I am not crazy about getting in cars with strangers-ever. Even though this taxi driver was a real taxi driver in a real marked taxi, we were still in a real foreign country (I know that the Virgin Islands are an American territory, but yep, I called it a foreign country. Sure does feel like it.)

The drive around the island ended up being quite pleasant. Though Campbell did grab my knee a few times as we zoomed, and I mean zoomed, up to the tallest point on St. Thomas. We took pictures up there and even bought a few shirts for the girls and Whitman. Somehow Robby also bought Whitman a bright orange hat. I think maybe Robby’s sea sickness patch has gotten to him, I never recall us buying something so frivolous.

After the highest point, we coasted down the side of the mountain to another viewpoint. Before too long, we were almost back to the boat. It was a nice ride around the island. Afterwards, we walked around some of the shops. It does seem that all of these cruise ports have the same shops. I mean really, how many diamonds can these cruise people buy?

Once we had walked around a few shops, Grannymom, Grandpa and all of the kids except for Reagan decided to go back to the boat. Reagan walked with us a bit longer. We ended up at a supermarket to buy cokes for the kids. Now, I left feeling pretty sad for these regular folks that were in the market-6 dollars for milk, over a dollar for a can of veggies, 4 dollars for a box of pasta-gracious me. Maybe we should have tipped our taxi man a bit more.

Back on the boat, we had a bit of downtime. I finished my book that I had started last night. Then, most everyone and I went down to trivia. We only answered 6 of 15 correctly, but we sure did have a good time. At one point, I told the kids that I would take them to the casino if we answered the next question correctly. Don’t be surprised, but we didn’t end up at the casino.

Afterwards, we watched as we sailed away from the beautiful island. Then it was time to dress for dinner. Whitman was just about asleep by the end of dinner. Dinner is always long, but I do enjoy it. I think that kids kind of do as well or at least dinner is long enough that they will have memories of it.

After dinner, Campbell and Whitman went to kids’ club while everyone else went with us to the show. The show was decent, but Keaton was the only one who stayed the entire time. The others all snuck out and probably ended up getting some ice cream to eat.

Once the show was over, we picked up the kids’ club folks and all headed to the rooms. Campbell went to Grannymom’s room to spend the night and I do believe that Whitman is going to spend the night in our room because their bunk bed wasn’t made tonight.

Tonight Whitman with the help of Reagan made his list about the trip:
  1. T.V.
  2. I got bananas.
  3. There was ice cream on the cruise.
  4. Playing ping pong.
  5. I enjoyed swimming.
  6. I got an orange hat.
  7. I got chocolate.
  8. I get to spend the night at Grannymom’s room.
  9. There was good food.
  10. I love the ice cream.

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

(click here for today's pictures)



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 Caribbean Cruise: 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 Caribbean Cruise: 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 Caribbean Cruise: 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.