Category Archives: married life

Royal Caribbean Cruises: Mayan Ruins at San Gervasio

20191231_123858I’m a sucker for history. I always have been. Not in a “Can’t repeat the past? Why of course you can” sort of Great Gatsby way. I’m more of a let’s learn all about the past so that we can actually learn from it and also keep a portion of it alive sort of girl. When I was a kid and we went to DC, I was mesmerized by Ford’s Theater and later Gettysburg, even though I am profoundly anti-violence and anti-war. Even as an adult when I found myself visiting a friend in DC and realized he lived a few blocks from Ford’s Theater, I dragged my best friend who was visiting with me over for a tour.

So when we were considering shore excursions on our most recent Royal Caribbean Cruise, I really wanted to visit Mayan ruins during our time in Cozumel. I visited different Mayan ruins on my honeymoon cruise and found them beautiful and fascinating. When I found out that we could explore the ones at San Gervasio on this trip, I definitely wanted my kids to be able to see them. It didn’t hurt that the trip to the ruins was combined with a stop at the Mayan Cacao Company.

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We got off the ship and headed down to find our guide. His name was Edwin and he was spectacular! Since not only lives in Cozumel but also works in the archeology department at one of the colleges, he was full of great information. He was also funny and just so nice! We all loved him, which was good since we spent about 3 hours with him.

To get to the ruins we went on a scenic drive which took about 20 minutes. I’m not sure if it was the most direct path to get there, but it did allow Edwin to tell us quite a bit about life in Cozumel. I had no idea that basically everything in Cozumel has to be shipped in from the mainland and that tourism is basically the only industry on the island. I was also amazed that such a small island (you can drive from tip to tail in about an hour) has three universities/colleges. Even more amazing is how much of the island is uninhabited because it is covered by lush mangrove forests. There are parts of the island that humans aren’t allowed on and that is pretty cool.

We arrived at San Gervasio, which didn’t initially look like much. Edwin gave us our tickets and we headed in. There is a very pretty little courtyard at the entrance. There are some fountains, a small restaurant and a few shops selling mostly jewelry and native crafts. Edwin was leading our tour and wanted to get us in before larger tour groups came through, so there wasn’t really a chance to look around. He did point out the people offering to spray visitors with bug spray for $1 each. I thought this was a bit strange…until I got into the ruins and got more than my share of bug bites. We went in December when Edwin said the bugs weren’t too bad. I cannot imagine what it would have been like had it been June! If you ever visit the ruins, either bring bug spray OR pay the $1. It would have been money well spent and it is my only regret from my day in Cozumel.

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The ruins themselves are interesting. They aren’t as complete or elaborate as the other ruins I visited in Mexico, but this was a much smaller Mayan settlement, so that makes sense. We did see what would have been the king’s palace, the well where their water came from, the altar, the plaza, the big house, the arch, the small house, and the tall house. Of course, we only got to see a portion of the actual ruins. There are actually four “districts” that the ruins are in and only portions of one of the districts is open to the public. The ruins are also part of a wildlife sanctuary and full of iguanas and other lizards. We saw tons of small lizards roaming around the ruins.

You can watch a video of our exploration here.

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My favorite part of the ruins was a structure that I think is referred to as the Murals because it used to have murals decorating its walls. Although these are no longer visible, what I liked was the really cool tree that is growing up through the stone and has burst through the thatched roof overhead. There is just something so beautiful about nature reclaiming something man made.

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I also really like the Las Manitas, which was the residence of the Mayan ruler. It gets its name from the red handprints that are visible on the back wall of the structure. Originally it was an outer room that served as the ruler’s home and an inner sanctum reserved for his personal shrine. Visitors can still make out the two different areas and it’s pretty cool.

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Another really cool part of the ruins is the original stone road that runs through it. Edwin told us that the road actually many miles not only through all of the ruins, but out into the city itself. Apparently it is about 12 miles long and there are people who try to follow it (and sometimes get lost) every year.

We also learned some cool information about why the steps on the altar are so skinny. It’s not that people’s feet used to be smaller. You were not meant to walk up the steps the way we walk up them–forward facing the top of the altar and our back toward the space we left. Instead, you were supposed to walk up them sideways (and at an angle) so that you would always be facing where you were going as well as never turning your back on where you’d been. For the Mayans, it was a sign of respect. When walked the correct way, one foot perfectly fits the steps.

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Despite visiting during the “cold” season, it was still in the mid-80’s and since the ruins are largely unshaded, it was hot! We were all withering a bit by the end. Thankfully we got a bit of time at the end to explore the shops. The older I get, the less I want to fill my house with little objects de art, so I don’t really buy souvenirs much. I skipped the stores and went straight for the small restaurant. I needed some more bottled water (we’d exhausted the two bottles we brought in with us). On our arrival, Edwin had mentioned that if we were looking for some authentic Mexican tacos that the restaurant’s were great.

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Now, it wasn’t much of a restaurant. It was open-air with a roof to shade the five or six tables, cooler with drinks, and small counter to order from. There were only two people working. One took orders and one made tacos on a small griddle-like cooking service right behind the counter. The choice was chicken, pork, or the special. I figured I had to go for the special. It turned out to be a combo of egg and pork with some pico-like veggies on top. You could get one taco or three. My son and I were the only adventurous ones in our group. I added some of the green tomatillo sauce to mine and he ate his two just the way they came. They were absolutely delicious and if you get a chance to visit San Gervasio, I suggest you try them.

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Heat and bugs aside, this was a great excursion and I cannot recommend it enough. My family learned so much, we got some wonderful pictures, and got to try some truly delicious food.

Oh, and while I was in the restroom, the rest of my family ran into a man with a GIANT bird who was offering to let people take pictures with it for a small fee. Both of my kids had to do it, so my husband paid the fee and our kids got to play with the bird. I am not really a bird fan, but my kids adored it and love to talk about their friend the parrot.

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If you are looking for a truly fantastic shore excursion in Cozumel, I highly recommend the Mayan ruins and Mayan Cacao Company combination.

 

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Royal Caribbean Cruise: Dolphin Push-Pull Shore Excursion in Grand Cayman

20191230_074625When I sat down to look at the shore excursions for our Royal Caribbean cruise on Brilliance of the Sea, I was ooverwhelmed. We only had two stops on our 5 night cruise, but there were at least 100 different options. While there may have only been a dozen or so basic components, there were so many combinations of those different components that I broke down after the third page of options. Finally I just sent my mom and sister some generic options: beach, animal encounters, historical sites, or something sporty.

Ok, I just threw that last one in as a joke. I knew no one in my family was going to pick something actually sporty. There are definitely several physical options for any shore excursion, but my people are not the sporty types. In all fairness, two of the group have limited mobility, so it’s understandable that we had to pick activities that were a bit lower-intensity.

The kids all wanted some sort of animal encounter. When I was listing some of them off to my mom, she was very keen on a sea turtle adventure. My kids thought that would be pretty cool too. And they even offered sea turtles with an additional option of stingrays. My daughter was not too keen on that one. But then my sister told my nephews that swimming with dolphins was an option and the decision was made.

That’s how we found ourselves sitting in the Pacifica theater at 6:45 in the morning on the third day of our cruise. No one was particularly happy to know that that particular hour still existed on vacation. When we signed up for the excursion it definitely did not mention the need to get up before the sun in order to hang with Flipper. If they had, I think my mom might have insisted on befriending Crush and Nemo instead.

20191230_110814But, we’d pre-booked and we were not about to cancel and lose that money, so when our group number was called we headed down to disembark. We had to get the tender boats over to Grand Cayman and all 9 of us boarded together and tried to stifle our yawns as we made our way to the shore. Once there we were bustled into vans with about half a dozen other group members and we set off for our adventure. Our van was just doing the dolphin swim. The other van that drove behind us had one of those combo deals and was heading off to a beach after we finished.

I had no idea what to expect. It was actually pretty confusing at first. We were one of the earliest groups to arrive, but it still took our guide about 10 minutes to get everything squared away. We’d been told we could bring cameras, but once we entered in to Dolphin Discovery, the employees told us we had to leave everything in the provided lockers. Aside from our suits, and our locker keys and our shoes (which we took off close to the pools, everything else had to be left behind. I was disappointed as I wanted to take some pictures of my kids frolicking with dolphins.

20191230_081819Once our gear was stowed, we were taken over and given life vests. We were then split into groups of 10. Somehow we got separated from the rest of our family, so instead of one big family group, it was my family of 4 with 6 strangers. They were very nice people, but I had hoped to share the experience with my entire family.

Our group headed over to a large pool-like area. I don’t know exactly how to describe it, but I found this picture of it, so hopefully that will help. Our “pool” was at the far left-side of the picture–it’s the large one. Ours was actually divided into two with our group down on the non-sandy side. All 10 of us got into the water. There was a ledge about 3 feet wide and about 3.5 feet deep that ran the length of the area. Since only one person could swim with a dolphin at a time, it was a good waiting spot for the rest of us.

The weather was beautiful (in the mid 80’s) and the water was warm. Our instructor introduced us to Sherlock, our dolphin. Sherlock was charming and very well-trained. He waited patiently as our guide explained the “pull” part of our adventure. Each person would swim along the wall a little less than halfway out. Then, when given the signal, we’d swim about halfway into the middle of our “pool.” Our right arm would be outstretched ready to grab Sherlock’s fin when he came around and our left would be bend across our chest in order to grab hold of his flipper. Then Sherlock would pull us back to the ledge.

20191230_093226While we were waiting for the first person to swim out and get in position, Sherlock posed with the rest of us. We each got four non swimming interactions with Sherlock. We got to dance with him, get a kiss from him, give him a kiss, and hold his face next to ours. Each of these interactions were photographed for us and after the encounter we’d have the chance to buy our photos, hence why we weren’t allowed to bring cameras.

Frolicking with Sherlock was fun. He was very sweet. I’d never touched a dolphin before. His skin was sort of rubbery. His fins were oddly hard, but also flexible, which was such an odd combo.

When it was my turn to swim out, I did, worrying the entire time that I’d mess up and end up missing Sherlock. Thankfully Sherlock was a pro and our instructor told me when to grab, so I caught on the first time and Sherlock sped me to shore. Now, I am not a tiny person, but that dolphin had no problem pulling all of us back to the ledge, even the gentleman in our group who had to weigh close to 250.

After getting pulled by Sherlock, everyone was laughing. We all clearly enjoyed it. Well, everyone except my daughter. Her anxiety kicked in pretty hard core and she decided she did NOT want to swim out there (she gets very anxious in water). Our instructor offered to let her start from the ledge and have Sherlock just take her a small way and then turn around, but even that scared her. When he realized this, he was great with her. He let her play a few fetch games with Sherlock, so even though she didn’t do the swimming, she still felt connected to him and had fun.

Once our “pull” was done, it was time for the “push.” For this we each used a boogie board and swam out to the middle of the “pool” again. This time we had to lay on the board with our legs completely straight behind us. Sherlock’s job was to put his nose on one of our feet and “push” us back to the ledge. I watched as the first person, a young girl was pushed back to us. She zoomed at us giggling the entire time. Her dad was not as successful. He couldn’t keep his leg straight and Sherlock had to nudge him several times. He eventually got it and came at us a bit slower. When it was my turn I was once again worried I’d bend my leg and mess it up (like my husband did), but I managed to keep my leg rigid and Sherlock flew me through the water. Not nearly as fast as she shot my son through it though. He was like a 5 foot, 90 pound torpedo. I was worried he’d crash into us. But Sherlock knew when to stop and he came floating in.

When were were done, we changed back into our clothes and headed into the gift/photo shop. I took one look at the prices and realized no matter how cute they might be, there was no way we were buying them. To get all pictures for our group of 4 would have been about $250. I loved the experience, but to me it was more important to have it than to capture it on film. I would have liked one to, but I knew if I saw one, I’d want them all. So instead I let my son buy a little bottle of Grand Cayman sand in a bottle, and I bought a can of Pringles for my family to share.

Swimming with dolphins was something I’d always wanted to do and I was glad we got to. Even if my daughter was a bit scared, she had a blast and fell in love with Sherlock. It was definitely worth it!

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Travel Tuesday: Royal Caribbean Brilliance of the Seas balcony rooms

balcony view.jpgMy family and I just returned from a 5 night cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas. This was actually our second trip on the Brilliance of the Seas, and this time I felt like I had a real handle on the ship. We did a 4 night Thanksgiving cruise on Brilliance of the Seas a few years ago with my in-laws. It was fun, but this trip was about extended family and cousins, so I knew there was going to be a different vibe entirely.

This cruise there were 9 of us: myself, my  husband, our kids (aged 9 and 12), my sister, her husband, their kids (aged 13 and 15), and my mom. We knew we were going to need some space, which is not easy to find on a cruise ship. If you’ve never been on a cruise ship before, the first thing you need to realize is that the rooms, even when they give them names like suites and veranda balcony, are usually much smaller than their land counterparts. There are exceptions to every rule, of course. Some of the luxury suites on the larger ships are simply amazing. For example, this Ultimate Family Suite from Royal Caribbean makes me wish I was insanely wealthy and 8 years old.

But, since we are not fabulously wealthy, we decided on balcony staterooms, which not only have a bit more space, but offer a little outdoor get away and spectacular views while sailing. Personally, I love sitting on the balcony and reading a book. It’s the perfect escape from the world. And yes, I may have actually even taken a quick cat nap on my balcony after a VERY EARLY shore excursion in Grand Cayman.

master bed.jpgOur balcony stateroom slept four, although on initial glance, it wasn’t obvious. When we walked in the room, all we saw was the Royal king bed (two twin beds that are joined together) and a couch. Since we’d been on this very ship before, we knew the couch actually folded out to a bed AND that there was a secret bunk bed lurking above it. Each night while we were at dinner, our room steward would turn down our bed, fix the blankets on the bunk bed for our son and pull out and make up the couch bed for our son. Then,  in the morning when we went to breakfast, the couch would be restored so we had more living space.

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Unless you are in a suite, the bathrooms on cruise ships are tiny. But, the designers know how to work with small spaces. There is tons of storage both in and out of the bathroom.

bathrooom 1In the bathroom, one of the mirrors opens to reveal great spaces to store all of your toiletries. The shower may be small, but the shape and curtain mean little water escape and there are several racks for stowing  toiletries as well. The four of us had no trouble fitting all of our bathroom items in the bathroom. It’s important to note that unlike most hotels, cruise ships do NOT provide travelers with toiletries. There was a container in our shower of a combo shampoo/body wash. This was fine for my 12 year old, but the rest of us brought our own shampoos and conditioners. Royal Caribbean also provided small disks of soap in the room, but it’s not like a regular hotel, so bring what you need.

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Plus, there is even a clothes line that stretches across the shower to hang wet bathing suits. There is a surprising amount of towel storage, including four hooks on the back of the door (and the towels are hooked to fit).

dresser.jpgThe closet and desk/dresser also hold hidden places to stow all of your items. After we unpacked all of our clothes (there were only 8 hangers in our room…we had to ask for more), we were able to store our suitcases in the closet floor. Thanks to the built in shelves in the closet, we had plenty of room to store our pajamas, under garments and anything that did not need to be hung in the closet. The dresser/desk also had six drawers, hidden storage behind the mirrors and several shelves on the end where we stored games, books and some toys our daughter brought with her.

medicine cabinet.jpgOne of my favorite things about our room was the giant, heavy curtain that we could pull closed to divide the room in two. That way the kids had their bedroom and so did we. It may not have been perfect privacy, but it did allow my husband and I to read and even stream some shows after our kids had gone to bed. The small bedside lights kept it bright enough for us in our “room,” but the curtain meant the light didn’t disturb the kids. I also really appreciated the bedside tables on either side of our bed for additional storage.

balcony.jpgAnd then there is the balcony. It’s small, but it’s perfect. There are barriers put up on either side so that you don’t have to see your neighbors (but you can definitely still hear them). You get your own little piece of the ocean and it is glorious. I spent quite a bit of time on my balcony just enjoying the quiet, the breeze, and the sun. And the views in the morning and evening were simply magnificent.

Being on a cruise ship is a bit like living in a tiny house. There are hidden spaces for storage and dual purpose items everywhere. What seemed like a bit of a small room turned out to be plenty of room for my family of four. I think the balcony rooms are perfect for families. There is just enough room to spread out a bit, but the rooms are still affordable. They are also highly sought after, so if you want one, better move quickly!

And if you need someone to help you maneuver those sometimes rough vacation waters, drop me a message.

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And the bathroom remodeling saga continues

refinished floor part 2Dear Journal: 

I fear I must write this quickly before I succumb to the vapors escaping from my room. As if the hardship of once again being reduced to one toilet and having to reside in the guest room was not enough, the smell of the polyurethane wafting beneath the door is making me light-headed.

But the smell does signal a step in the right direction, even as it hinders me from taking a step on my floor. And we probably won’t perish from the fumes, right?

I do hope not as I would like to actually be able to shower in my bathroom at least once before I shuffle off this mortal coil.

Before he began work on the floor, he did refinish the mirror frame, so I suppose that is also a tally in the positive column. I am still uncertain whether or not our vanity can be installed tomorrow. I do not believe that tomorrow will bring an end to this saga.

vanityDear Journal: 

The second deadline for completion of the bathroom renovations has come…and gone. As I feared, it is still not finished. While on the surface it appears to be a fully functional bathroom, there is something evil lurking within. Or rather there is something broken sitting right in plain sight.

When I walked in the door, I was thunderstruck at the addition of the vanity. I remembered it differently from the photograph I was shown, but considering that the fleeting photo I saw was viewed over a month ago, I chalked that up to a mere fault in my memory. What is not a trick of time, however, is the fact that the faucets my husband was so proud of finding at a stellar discount, are both broken, although interestingly in different ways. One has a hairline crack which cannot even be detected unless the water is turned on. The second is missing a thingamabob which does not hinder its function, but according to my husband cannot be endured.

So, in addition to the time we will be unable to use the shower due to painting and allowing the paint to dry, we also cannot use our sinks until these faucets are returned and the new ones are ordered and installed.

My husband’s prediction is a fully functional bathroom by Tuesday. I smile, nod my head in agreement, and secretly assume it will be another week.

Oh, did I mention the floor has to be resanded and resealed on Monday as well?

paintingDear Journal:

As we enter the fifth weekend with only one bathroom, I was prepared to rise from bed, sighing heavily at the prospect of two more days without progress. Miraculously, this did not end up being my lot today. For today, there was progress. Granted, that progress is completely due to my husband’s obsessive nature.

While I am still faced with the prospect of at least three more days without a functioning bathroom, today my husband took up a brush and began painting. For the past 10 hours he has been working toward two full coats of paint on the walls. The inner shower room has been completed. Now he is working on the outer area, which is much larger.

The paint is darker than I anticipated and I am anxious to see how it all comes together. But, as of this moment, I have hope.

bathroom painted with toilet.jpgDear Journal: 

While technically there was no further progress made today, late last night my husband set his paintbrush to rest.

Last night I was not able to fully appreciate it, but in the dawn of this new day, I was able to truly view his endeavor. While the paint is still darker than I expected, I do think it will grow on me.

I have been assured that tomorrow our house will be completely restored to us. Our contractor claims he must away and instead of starting the kitchen job for another client, he now says he is leaving the country. Maybe I have become a bit jaded as a result of this project, but this latest development sounds dubious.

Nevertheless, the final payment is on the counter and tomorrow our garage will once again be capable of holding two cars. Alas the project will not be finished as we are still waiting on the replacement faucets to arrive. So we will have two sinks but no way to use them. But maybe by Tuesday I can actually shower in my own bathroom.

Here’s to dreaming.

 

no faucets.jpgDear Journal: 

The bathroom is finished! Of course the floors are still drying so we must sleep in the guest room. And if you look at the photo, you’ll notice there are no faucets on the sinks. We are patiently awaiting replacements for the defective ones that at least made our sinks look usable. Our best estimate is that we might have working sinks on Friday.

The trim still needs to be painted and some sort of shoe molding also must be applied. In addition we need two additional lights and a vent for the shower room.

Alas, it appears I have at least one more day to endure the children’s shower. Although at this point I have become numb to the torment.

Dear Journal: 

It is a Christmas miracle! Yes, of course I do realize it is not yet Christmas. But there were snowflakes yesterday and a simple jaunt across the street today found my legs and ears nearly frozen stiff, so it’s close enough. Although really the miracle has nothing to do with the season and everything to do with with five weeks this bathroom fiasco has persisted. But as I have mentioned, this morning there was a minor miracle. Not a water into wine miracle, but a water based miracle nonetheless.

Yes, that is right dear readers, I was able to shower in my bathroom for the first time in five weeks! It took a bit of adjusting. My first hurdle was the fact that now there is only one shower door to slide open. This may not seem like much of an obstacle, but I did not want to be pelted with cold water while I waited for the water to heat. Nor did I want water to pour from the shower while I kept checking to see if the water was ready. It was a bit like being in a hotel.

Before I’d had a chance to completely digest the door dilemma, I realized there was an even weightier matter to deal with: I did not even know how to turn the water on. It took a moment or two of finagling, but then a cascade of warm water rushed out and I was able to step inside with minimal water leaking onto the floor.

Of course, since we still do not have working faucets, I still had to use the children’s bathroom to relieve myself (so I could wash my hands). I had to venture back in there right after the shower because my contact lens was bothering me and needed adjusting. Still, it was a relief not to have a child banging on the door, demanding to be let in to use the toilet while I showered.

It really does seem that this nightmare will be over soon.

Dear Journal: 

I did not write last night on the eve of our bathroom’s completion date. After all, it seemed silly to me to crow over some painted trim when today I was finally going to have working sinks, a finished floor and lovely shoe molding…the finishing touches on a job that began so long ago on that much warmer November day.

But alas, Fate has stepped in and dashed my hopes yet again. It seems at every turn I am crushed by the universe’s cruel sense of humor. Each time this job is brought to the precipice of completion, something pushes it back so it is miles from finished.

What malicious turn befell my bathroom today? Just after nine am, my husband received a message from our contractor. Despite waiting the entire week in anticipation of his arrival today, he did not appear. The message explained that he’d been delayed on his return from Singapore. Yes, as in the country half the world away. He and an old friend were “piggybacking home,” and our bathroom would have to wait until at least Monday. Yes, that is correct, our two week bathroom project has now entered its sixth week. And yes, this is now the fourth time in those six weeks that our contractor has contacted us the morning he was supposed to arrive in order to tell us he would not, in fact, be arriving.

So, for my friends who felt sad these posts were ending, I hope you’re happy. I feel your longing for amusement has inspired Fate and prolonged my suffering.

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The never ending odyssey of bathroom remodeling

toilet restoredDear Journal: 

Today I am truly thankful that our toilet was reinstalled yesterday. Nothing else in our bathroom may be functional, but thank all that is holy that the toilet is. I know some have wondered at what might appear to be an obsession with having two toilets. Our contractor chided me about it yesterday and I know was a bit bitter that he stayed later than planned (he didn’t arrive to start work until 11 am) to reinstall it, but I had a premonition that could not be ignored.

Even though it is only the four of us gathering around our table for a decadent meal this evening, my husband awoke with one of his violent migraines. I was roused much earlier than I expected by his retching. Since that first unsettling event, he has been on a continuous toilet-bed loop for the past several hours. if it were not for that second, much begged for toilet, we would all be far more miserable than we currently are.

As it is, I will be cooking a huge meal with my husband’s favorites, that he may not be able to eat. But at least he can vomit in peace without a child banging on the door with a bladder emergency.

Dear Journal:

Yet again I mourned the loss of my second bathroom. Our contractor was supposed to be here this morning. On Wednesday he spoke of finally attaching the shower doors, cleaning the floors and removing the carpet from the vanity area in order to begin work on that area in earnest. But, like so many other mornings during this project, an emergency arose. While we were celebrating my husband’s birthday with a special breakfast, our contractor called and left a message that he would not be arriving today.

So now we sit through four days of no progress at all. IF this bathroom is finished by next Friday, I will be amazed beyond belief. My hopes of a three week bathroom remodel have been dashed and I fear my revised hope of a four week remodel will meet a similar end.

At least I have mashed potatoes and cranberry orange sauce to sustain me in this, my hour of need.

Dear Journal: 

There is no progress. I am adrift in a world without my shower.

 

Dear Journal:

It seems silly to continue to write at this point. Nothing has changed. When I put fingers to keyboard, all I feel is despondent and lost.

bathroom vanity #2Dear Journal: 

We have been assured that the bathroom will be completed by the end of the week. To say I am dubious would be an understatement. Understatement is probably an understatement of how dubious I am about this situation. After four days without any improvements to our bathroom situation, I was desperate for some real progress today. What I found made my heart sink. Did I mention that I am dubious this project will conclude by Friday? The odd clearly are not ever in my favor.

shower doorsDear Journal: 

Today I returned home to find massive wind machines pointed toward my bathroom walls. Apparently their job is to help the “mud” on the walls. I am still uncertain as to why mud on walls is a desired aspect of construction, but I am assured it is a necessity. I was pleasantly surprised to find actual doors attached to my shower. I was nearly giddy with delight when my husband told me that tomorrow morning I would actually be able to bathe in my own shower.

But alas this happiness was short-lived. My visions of showering without Barbie dolls and plastic whales at my feet are still but dreams. Less than an hour later he requested I wait one more day to make sure everything was fully dried before I could be introduced to my new shower. I am not sure exactly why shower doors need to dry. There is so much that is utterly perplexing about construction.

 

refinished floor part 1Dear Journal: 

Reality has gobsmacked me once again. 28 days later, 7 days longer than I anticipated, I am still bereft because I only have one bathroom. There was a bit of a kerfuffle yesterday evening with the contractor. Apparently there were differences of opinions about how much of the small strip of the wood flooring in the bathroom needs to be finished. My husband and I fell firmly on the “all of it” side. Our contractor did not wish to refinish the the portion that will rest beneath the vanity

However, since the vanity is raised, the unfinished wood would show underneath it and the mishmash would be unseemly. Tempers flared. Words were exchanged. Nails were bitten in anxiety.

While I am happy to say that cooler heads prevailed this morning, and the contractor cane around to our way of thinking, this means almost no work was done and alas, it appears the job may spill over into next week. I nearly fainted when I heard this news.

And since this nightmare refuses to end, once the work begins on the floor tomorrow, I will be evicted from my bedroom as well. It appears I will be relegated to the guest bedroom until the floor is dry. So not only will I be down to one toilet again, I will also have to suffer in a full-size bed.

The horror!

 

 

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Odysseys in remodeling: Life with only one bathroom

20191107_182927Dear Journal: 

Today is the first day of the remodeling.  As I looked around the wreckage that was my bathroom, I felt most dismayed. I shuddered at the memories of past repairs. I stared at the place where my toilet had been and thought, “oh dear, with four of us in this house, I think I’ll miss you the most.”

Of course, that was until I entered the children’s bathroom for a shower this morning. It was then I remembered how much I hate that shower. The showerhead is tiny and hung about two inches below my head, so I have to crane my head uncomfortably far back to wash it. Not a problem for my kids who are a good 8-14 inches shorter than me. Since it is so low on the wall, I get the full force of the stream and it’s way to strong!

Will I survive living in these conditions? Honestly, I don’t know.

second day of remodeling

Dear Journal: 

As day two comes to an end, there has been some progress made, but I fear it is not enough. While I have been assured that this “floor” is great, the lack of toilet and shower are burdens to my soul. Since no work can be done on the weekend, I am forced to seek out new places of refuge.

This search led me to a new life experience: I showered at the gym. Yes, I actually ventured out of my house unshowered, something I have not attempted for years. Even when I am going directly to the gym, I get up and shower. So today threw me for a bit of a loop.

It was going well until I realized I forgot my hair gel. So, I am exercised and washed but have flat hair. When will this nightmare end?

Dear Journal:

Because day three is the Lord’s day, no work can be done on the bathroom. Things are as desloate as ever. I am starting to abandon all hope. Showering in the children’s bathroom has left me utterly bereft of happiness. Before I could even get in the shower today I had to go back to my own room three times for supplies just to make the shower possible. Also, the bathroom is turning into a jungle of towels.

 

Dear Journal:

I should have written yesterday, but we’ve had a setback that has left me desolate.

For the third day, no progress has been made. An emergency befell our crew and all work ceased.

In a valiant act of chivalry to bring some sort of civilization to the children’s bathroom, my husband ordered a new showerhead. In my fear of losing our only working source of cleanliness, I begged him to wait for the experts.

He ignored my wishes, but to his great consternation, the old showerhead would not budge. So once again it was a pale imitation of a shower for me this morning.

I pray our crew will be able to return today and bring some light back into this darkness.

 

showerhead

Dear Journal:

There has been much rejoicing by some of the locals over the installation of a new showerhead in the children’s bathroom. It was certainly a marvel to behold.

I had my first experience with it this morning. To my husband’s dismay I am not as enamored of it as he is. While the increased height is a wonder and I rejoice that I no longer have to strain my neck to shower, the water pressure is a disappointment. This is touted as a rainfall showerhead to be a bit less of a sprinkle and more of a downpour!

There has been some progress made in our bathroom. My walls now sort of look like walls again and my shower has a curb if no actual floor. I have been assured these are giant leaps forward, but after the trickery of the rainfall showerhead, I feel I might have a different definition of leaps.

destroyed sink.jpg

Dear Journal: 

It has now been one week since I was last able to enjoy my beloved shower. None has been its equal since. My husband assures me that once the new showerhead is installed he will devote himself to making sure the disastrous pressure issues of the children’s bath do not haunt us in our own. I remain skeptical.

Some sort of “mud” has been placed on the floor of the shower, which my husband insists on calling the pan. I am not sure if it is actual mud or some sort of nickname created by those in the construction arts. I have been told that it must set up and dry for at least 48 hours, which has destroyed my hopes of seeing tile this week.

The work has not extended beyond the shower area. Demolition has begun around our sink. I’d hoped it would lift my spirits to see that ghastly 70’s blue tile gone, but my broken walls are a constant reminder of my broken dreams. I am not sure how much longer I can last.

mud pan

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We’re all “Disney mad” here

family with characters 2Recently a friend of mine texted me and told me I was, “Disney mad.” She said it in good humor to tease me a bit for all of my Disney posts. And I get it, I really do. Of course, she knows I’ve always been “Disney mad,” it’s just coming out more since I started working as a Magical Vacation Planner.

Of course, since I’ve just returned from four days at Universal Orlando where I had an amazing time and then four more days at Disney World, where I also had an amazing time, my posts about theme parks have quadrupled.

I also know that if you’ve liked my MVP FB page, you see not only my regular posts, but my business posts too. And I appreciate that.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am not a “salesperson.” I HATE the idea of trying to get someone to buy something. I’d constantly worry they may not really want it. Or that I was being pushy. Or that I was bothering them. I’m not aggressive like some salespeople and I don’t have the natural ability to just chit chat with people like others.

My husband has been in sales for decades now and I don’t know how he does it. It’s funny, because of the two of us, most people would pick me as the outgoing, social one, but that’s only if I know people, and fairly well. I’d much rather be at home, curled up on the couch with a good book or Netflix. My husband has been known to reach his social threshold at parties in our own home and just walk into the den and get on the computer to avoid talking to anyone else. And yet, give him a phone, products he knows about, and strangers, and he thrives. 

Of course, anyone who knows me, also knows that if I truly believe in something, I cannot stop raving about it. I was once shopping at Godiva when a fellow customer was trying to figure out what to get his wife for some holiday. The clerk was new (and I know this b/c I used to spend a LOT of time at Godiva) and was struggling a bit with suggestions. I jumped right in, talked to him about what his wife likes, gave him some great suggestions and ended up helping him create a box for her. The manager had come out at this point and offered me a job on the spot. I declined, because I had a great teaching job, small children at home, and frankly, I’d already done my time in retail. But I’ve done similar things in Lush, DeBrand’s, and yes, Disney.

Whatever it is that made me jump in at Godiva has always been a part of me. I think it’s probably why I became a teacher. I like sharing what I know. I like helping people. I like connecting with people over something we have in common. Which is why becoming a Magical Vacation Planner makes total sense to me.

I grew up with Disney. We had annual passes to Disneyland when I was a kid. I consumed a heavy diet of the movies, books, TV shows, and the parks. I have been to Disney World about a dozen times and shared those incredible experiences with the people I love most in this world (except for my BFF who gets horrible motion sickness and won’t go with me). A few of those trips were shared with my dad and step-mom, who both passed away a few years ago, so those memories and pictures are even more precious to me. Six years ago, I took my own children for the first time and knew I was passing on something precious to them.

My husband and I were annual passholders for Universal Orlando. We lived in Florida for about six months (we thought we’d be there longer), early on in our relationship and it was an absolute blast. We had great little dates where we’d go ride a few rides, get some dinner and see an IMAX movie. It was so much fun.

For me, being a Magical Vacation Planner isn’t about selling anything. It’s about helping people explore the world (because I can book way more than just Disney World and Universal) and create their own memories. My favorite part is talking to people to find out what they want to do and helping them figure out how to make it happen. I actually haven’t made a penny on this endeavour yet and have no illusions that, or desire for it to replace my first career love: teaching. I’m doing this because it is fun, and I love the idea of helping people create those life-long memories that are so much more precious than a new video game system or fancy phone or whatever people are thinking about buying right now. I’d take a trip somewhere with people I love any day over some material possession.

So, yeah, I’m going to keep reaching out and being “Disney mad” and “Universal kooky,” “cruising crazy,” and “internationally wacky,” because I love it. It makes me happy and yes, I want to help make you happy too.

And yes, even if you’ve been on a dozen (or more) trips yourself, I can still help plan your next one. It’s not that people can’t plan travel on their own. It’s the digital age. There are tons of options out there (although that alone is crazy confusing at times). What I am offering is someone to listen to what you really want, do all the research, make all the phone calls and get all the payments made. You won’t have to worry about remembering reservation dates, Fast Pass dates or payment due dates, because I’ll send you those reminders. You won’t have to slog through the menus of the over 200 eateries at Disney World to figure out the best one for your family, I’ll help do that for you. And when you have questions, you won’t have to go and try to track down the answers. I’ll get them for you.

And none of this concierge service (because really, working with me is like having a personal concierge just an email, phone call or text away) will cost you even one extra penny. Most people don’t know this, but I’m not paid by you. You’ll pay the same price whether you book with me or on your own. Although, if you book with me and some new promotion comes out, I can help get those promotions applied to your account. The difference is, that if you do book with me, I do all the leg work for you, while you sit back, relax, and well, enjoy your vacation.

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Filed under chocolate, cool places, Disney World, education, entertainment, good days, love, Magical Vacation Planner by Shannon Schiller, married life, my crazy family, ramblings, travel, Universal Studios, what makes me me