Tuesday, June 11, 2013

tomorrow isn't guaranteed

I've heard this saying over and over again but it never sunk in until now.  My wonderful, loving, laid back, hard working uncle unexpectedly went to be with the Lord yesterday. From what I am told I thought the world of him when I was a little girl.  My aunt tells me that I called him Egwin instead of his real name Edwin.  I remember holidays at their house...mainly thanksgiving.  I also remeber our Colorado trip we went on together as a child.  I remember his elk caller.  He would try to attract the elk.  He was always in a good mood whenever I saw him and always seemed to have some sort of project going on.  He would always pick on me when he would see me as an adult but it was all in good fun. I know he's not in pain anymore and as hard as it is for us to not have him here, it's part of Gods plan for him to go home to be with Him.  He was finished with E here and he needed him.  I wonder if Nanny needed help with something and the Lord knew that E could help her, so He called him home.  I won't question God's plan but accept that His plan is perfect and ask Him for strength and comfort.   I didn't want him to go and didn't get a chance to say good bye, but one day I'll get to say hello when I meet him again after I meet Jesus face to face.  

Friday, February 1, 2013

goodbyes are never easy

Today was one of the hardest days I've ever had to experience.  My sweet grandmother went to heaven.  She was truly one of the kindest, gentlest, most loving, caring women I have ever met.  She has spent her life serving the Lord and exemplifying Christ in everything she does.  I have so many wonderful memories of Nanny.  The first memory I have of her isn't exactly my memory but more like a story about the day I was born.  When she heard that I weighed 6 pounds 8 ounces, she said "that's the size of a good pot roast."  So in her mind, when I was born she was thinking of cooking.  That's another memory I have about her.  My brother and I went over and spent time with her during the summers for a week at a time.  I have tons of memories of Nanny helping us make custard in the microwave, jello pudding, and chocolate pies.  She never said no if we asked to bake something.  And anytime I had a special request for smothered steak, it was waiting on the table for me when I arrived.  I'll never forget our school programs and going over to her house after school to change and get ready and have dinner before the programs.  I can't forget the cruise I went on with her and my mom.  I have pictures to help me relive that trip.  Nanny went to High Tea with me and even held her little pinkie up with me when we drank tea.  She loved hearing stories about my students in my class.  Nanny was a special lady.  She never met a stranger and she never had anything mean to say about anyone.  She played the piano beautifully and loved to sing.  I think I got my love of music from her.  My last words with Nanny were very special.  I went to see her yesterday in the hospital and when I got ready to leave I told her "Nanny, I'm gonna go but I'll be back later.  I love you."  She said "I love you."  I turned to walk out and she said "Krista, you're a good granddaughter."  In there with the tears, I was able to get out "Thank you Nanny, I love you."  I will never forget those words.  She meant so much to me and I'm so glad she knew.  Thanksgiving 2011 I posted each day about how thankful I was for different things and I posted about her one day and wrote about how thankful I was for everything about her.  She was so excited to see that post that she printed it out after adding a picture at the top of the page of me and her and she had planned to share it at one of her Young At Heart meetings.  I don't know if she ever had a chance to share that with her friends.  But if she didn't, I'm so glad she knew how much I loved her and how thankful I am for her.  She lived an amazing life and raised 3 wonderful daughters.  All 3 of them are strong ladies and I'm grateful for all of them.  My life won't be the same without her, but I'm comforted in knowing that she is up in heaven right now with our Savior and one day I will see her again and we will both sing and dance together eating snickers, chocolate pie, and smothered steak.....Nanny I love you and I know you are watching over all of us.  Thank you for all you ever did for me and for the love you showed.  You wanted to go home.....now you are finally home!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

I'm back....and have been for awhile!

In case you are wondering, yes I am back.  I know it has been a few days, ok more like a few weeks since I posted anything from my trip.  The truth is, I was sick the last part of the trip and did not have much energy.  It was enough to get up and get ready and get out the door, much less blog anything.  The other issue was our crummy internet.  It was slow and dropped the connection a lot while we were online.

The next few days that I blog about are going to be very minimal but at least I came back and told you that I made it home alive and in one piece (even if I did have a double ear infection with one eardrum ruptured).

Dec. 29:  We were in Aukland this day with no plans for any excursions.  We did have a power jet boat ride planned but when we both came down with whatever it is that we had, we cancelled it because we didn't know how sick we would be in Aukland.  I'm glad we cancelled it.  We ended up doing a Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour on this day.  It gave us a chance to see the highlights of Aukland.  We got off at the Sky Tower stop and went up as high as they would let us go.  That was a pretty neat experience.  The views were great!  There were people there that were doing a "sky jump."  If I would have felt better, I would have done the jump.  It was sorta like a controlled bungee jumping thing.  They also had the "sky walk" but since I would be doing the bridge climb in Sydney, I didn't want to spend double the money and do basically the same type of thing.  That's about all I remember from Aukland.  I remember sleeping a lot on the boat (I think.)  My memory has faded but at least I got the highlights.

Dec. 30:  This is the day that we woke up to pouring down rain.  Thankfully our excursion was at noon so the rain had a chance to let up that day.  The seas were so rough too.  We weren't docked but anchored down in the middle of the bay area and the ship was really moving.  We tendered into the port and got on a catamaran boat and went around and saw different areas in the Bay of Islands.  We were supposed to go the "the hole in the rock" but the seas were way too rough for that and I'm so glad they didn't even attempt that because I was getting a little anxious with all the big jumps in the water on our boat.  A sweet little lady even got sea sick on the boat.  It was rough!  The highlight of the catamaran was seeing some dolphins swimming out there.  That was fun exciting!  When we got back to the dock it was raining again and they started loading people onto the tender boat but then stopped.  Apparently one of the motors wasn't working.  So they decided to circle around to the other side of the dock and keep loading.  I'm not really sure what good that did to keep loading on a boat with a motor out.  I think they were having a lot of tender boat issues....not great if there was an emergency on the boat and we needed those boats to keep us safe.

Dec. 31 was a sea day.  When I was looking back and my little notes I made so I could remember what we did that day, I found the phrase "lots of food."  So I think that must have been the day that we ate a big breakfast and then went to the suite luncheon and had some great indonesian cuisine (so good!) and then we must have eaten a lot for dinner....I'm not sure.  I just think it's funny that I made a note about how much food we ate.  I also made a note that we went to the spa after dinner.  That was pretty much part of our nightly routine.  We were planning to stay up late and go to the party in the showroom but we both were so tired and the ship rocked us to sleep.  So we were out early.  Don't worry though, I celebrated the next afternoon/early evening with NYC and the ball drop in Times Square.

I'll add January 1-5 later.  There are a few of those days in there that were travel days.  But they are coming soon!  

Friday, December 28, 2012

The last few days

Dec 27

This morning I woke up and I knew it was going to be a tough day. I did not feel good at all. Thankfully our excursion was only 4 hours and it was a good one that was pretty laid back. We had a smaller group with probably only 25 people and we went to a sheep farm and saw a sheep shearing demonstration.  Yes I am aware that we already saw o e but this one was way better than the other. We got a more in depth demonstration and there were fewer people so we were more up close and personal to the sheep.  After the demonstration we went across the street for scones and tea. It sounds so English doesn't it?  The scones were pretty good. They serve their scones out here in NZ with jam and whip cream. I went with the jam and butter.  I guess I stuck with what I knew. They tea was not good.  I prefer the tea on the ship.  

Next we were able to go up to Te Mata Peak.  We drove up the spectacular Tuki Tuki Valley to the summit of Te Mata Peak. I won't lie, it was a little scary getting up there. We had to have a motorcycle escort to make sure we didn't scare any cars coming down.  We got pretty close to the edge a few times.  When we got up to the peak, we took pictures complete with wind blown hair and loaded the bus again. 

Our next stop was the berry farm for ice cream infused with berries.  I'm not a huge strawberry ice cream person but it was delicious. It totally hit the spot. I just wish I would have been able to do some strawberry picking...one day I will.  I may not be here in NZ though. 

Next we headed back to the ship and as soon as we got back to the ship I laid down for a nap and hit the bottom.  I came down with fever, didn't want to get out of bed and was just not good.  Needless to say we did not go to dinner.  I tried to go to bed early and tossed and turned all night. I think my fever probably broke around 2am

Dec 28

I woke up this morning still really worn down but I wasn't missing the excursion.  It was a long excursion with 4 buses and there were quite a few people on our bus with no manners.  Refer to my post earlier about people not filing out of the bus correctly and people also dont know how to wait in lines for their turn for their food.  They just walked up to each thing that they wanted without waiting their turn in line.  They must have missed that part somewhere during school.  

Moving on.  We went to see a geothermal reserve called Hell's Gate filled with lots of sulfur pools that smelled like rotten eggs.  As we got closer, the bus started to smell and I just thought someone on the bus was a little stinky haha! Anyways at this point it was about 11 am and we had not eaten since 6:30 am so we were getting hungry. We didn't get to eat until 2:30pm. We were quite hungry.  After the sulfur pools we went next door to see the Maori people do some traditional tribal dances and had a traditional hangi meal that is cooked in the ground.  It was pretty tasty if you ask me but at that point anything would have been delicious because I was starving.  

After that we got back on the bus and headed for the ship.  Sounds of coughing filled the bus.  We weren't the only ones hacking away.  When we got back to the ship we had some time to rest before dinner. As always our appetizers were waiting for us.  We usually just kind of pick at them because there is no need to spoil our dinner.  We had our normal spa visit after dinner and resting in the room so we can be ready for our day in Auckland tomorrow hopefully feeling tons better.  

I'll try to do a better job of updating the next few days but we are running out of intent minutes.  The Internet at sea is pretty crummy and drops the connection all the time.  It's really slow too. Hopefully we will have wifi tomorrow in Auckland.  

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Merry Christmas!

***disclaimer...I tried to post this the evening of December 26 but blogger was not cooperating. I also came down with what mom had and it has not been fun.  It's not easy being sick.  It's certainly not easy being sick on vacation. 

Dec 24

Our morning started off early again. We had to catch a tender boat to take us to get on our bus for our 9 hr long excursion. The excursion basically consisted of us taking a 5 hour bus ride to Arthur's Pas which is almost to the west coast of NZ. It was a long drive with a few stops in between for coffee or pit stops. We had to be careful when we got off the bus each time though because as soon as the bus stopped and parked this lady behind us darted for the door. So if we were in her way we pretty much got knocked right back down to our seats.  I kid you know, she was serious about getting of the bus and she was no petite lady.  I just know that I will now be going back and teaching my kindergarteners the proper way to exit the bus.  Apparently some of these people never had proper training in kindergarten or in any grade for that matter. 

Moving on, we go on the train around 1 pm and headed for a town right outside of Christchurch. We got to our location at 3:40pm and then we still had more driving to get back to the boat.  I know I fell asleep several times and woke myself up when the bus driver took the corners a little too close for my liking.  He was not a good driver.  We finally got back to the boat in just enough time to get changed for dinner and make it to our 5:30 dinner seating a little late.  after dinner we came back to the room and rested up and napped a little. They had an international crew show with Christa carols from the English speaking choir, Indonesian choir, and the Filipino choir.  Some of the cast members from the ship sang a few songs too.  It was a really good show and there wear some talented singers in those choirs.  We went to the church service on the ship at midnight.  It wasn't what I was used to I'll just say that.  Then we went back to get a few hours sleep, well about 6 hours sleep before waking up Christmas morning in the middle of the south pacific :) 

Dec 25

We woke up early enough to be at breakfast at 7:30. There were some Christmas festivities going on during the morning hours that we didn't want to miss.  We had Christmas crafts and caroling at 9ish and then Santa made his arrival at 9:45.  It was very entertaining watching all the kids go on stage and have their parents attempt to get their kids pictures with santa.  There were lots of criers.  One little boy is going to be mortified when he gets older and his parents show his pictures of him dressed as an elf.  Then another little boy had a Christmas tree outfit on except the tree looked a little too small and it was the bubble dress style.  It was supposed to go over his little bottom but he kept pulling it up to show hi green underwear before some of the kids club staff reminded him to keep the tree dress down, haha!  Don't worry he was only about 2 or 3 so he really had no idea that he looked ridiculous in the tree outfit.  

After that, we went back for a nice nap in the room.  It was a very peaceful afternoon filled with resting.  We had dinner at the Pinnacle at 5:30. It was also formal night so we dressed up.  The dinner at the Pinnacle was wonderful as always. My filet was cooked to perfection and my chocolate souffle was absolutely delicious.  My mouth is watering as I'm typing this.  

After dinner we went back to the room to change so we could visit the spa.  Th told us that they were closing early and that a note was sent to our stateroom. Well the note must have gotten lost because we got no note about it closing early.  Oh well, we had enough time to enjoy the hydrotherapy pool and heated ceramic tile beds before they closed so I was happy.  Not much happened after that besides coming back to the room.  

Dec 26

I woke up this morning to mom telling me she felt horrible.  She couldn't get out of bed she felt so miserable.  We were docking in Wellington and didn't have any excursions.  I went ahead and showered and got ready.   I went in search of food for mom at the Neptune and the the lido.  We had planned to go to the pinnacle but plans changed but the food was just as good and I didn't have to wait on it :) 

After I ate I called daddy and nanny and wished them a merry Christmas. They were both glad to hear from us.  Mom told me to go on into Wellington and enjoy my time there.  I felt bad leaving but she needed some rest.  There was a shuttle into town so I took that.  I could have walked but I didn't know how far the walk was so I figured I better take the shuttle.  Once I got off the shuttle I asked where Starbucks was and they laughed at me.  I just wanted free internet but I later found out that there is free Internet all over that city so Internet was not a problem.  I'm glad there was so much free internet because I got to FaceTime several people to wish them a merry Christmas.  I also visited a big museum that our bus driver recommended.  It was alright.  Then I walked down the big shopping street and searched for some new sunglasses since i managed to break mine.  I also found a pharmacy and got some medicine for mom and I'm hoping it helps her tonight.  I went back and found my bus shortly after that so I could shuttle back.  I'm glad I went back when I did because after I had been back about 15 minutes, it started raining.  I would not have been prepared in that rain.  It got cold too and windy.  

Oh one of the highlights of my afternoon was my great find on the Lido.  They had bread pudding.  I love their bread pudding and I've been up there the last two days looking for it and it has not been there.  So I was thrilled to find it after walking around windy Wellington all morning. W

We rested this afternoon and then went to dinner and the to the spa again.  The spa might be one of my favorite parts of the evening.  Mom is already out now after taking some medicine.  I hope she sleeps ok because we have a 4 hour excursion tomorrow to Tuki Tuki Valley.  At least it's not an all day excursion.  

I would like to say that I don't think the sea water is shrinking my clothes as much this trip as it has in the past.   Maybe I've finally learned how to indulge without over indulging :)

Sunday, December 23, 2012

What's Been Happening

Dec 19

1.  Woke up and got ready
2.  Ate breakfast at hotel
3.  Facetimed a few people
4.  Finished packing
5.  Facetimed my main squeeze 
6.  Checked out of the hotel
7.  Taxi to Oosterdam
8.  Checked in
9.  Went to check out stateroom
10.  Lunch in dining room
11.  Spa visit and booked thermal suite package
12.  Rest in room
13.  Lifeboat drill...complete torture
14.  Dinner
15.  Tree lighting
16.  Spa visit
17.  Back to call it a night. 

We lose an hour tomorrow. 

Dec 20&21
These two days were sea days which basically meant we ate and slept. We slept in the first day until around 8:30 unintentionally. Then had a snack sorta breakfast in the Neptune.  Then we went to the shops and looked around. Before we knew it, it was lunchtime.  We ended up eating the buffet at the lido and they had bread pudding for dessert. For those of you who have followed in the past you know how much I love HALs bread pudding.  It was simply wonderfully delicious.  I remember napping a lot these two days. I also remember that dec 21 was the mariner brunch for past HAL cruisers. We went to that for the quiche because it is so good. Then we had an informational meeting that afternoon about our overnight excursion that was leaving the next day morning early. Then I remember napping after the meeting and going to dinner and the australian singer that did a show. He was very energetic and loved being on stage...you could tell. We also went to the spa both nights. I didnt want to leave the second sea day but it was really busy so we had to give our heated ceramic beads up.  It was time for an early night though because we had a really early morning the next morning.  

Dec 22
We were up early...I was up at 5 and mom was up earlier. Breakfast was delivered at 6 and we left the room before 7.  We were on an excursion that was an overnight excursion with only about 40 people.  We were the only people allowed to leave the ship via tender boat.  After we passed through Milford sound, and we were inspected by the NZ officials we were cleared to leave the boat. We got on the tender and headed towards land. I was so excited to see land. I was getting a little stir crazy on the boat and they didn't have much planned. We got pretty good seats on the bus. There was an obnoxious lady that made sure everyone on the bus knew that she got sea sick so she needed to sit at the front.  She was really annoying the whole trip. So anyways as we went along we saw beautiful land. It was so surreal to be there taking it all in. There were blue skies, perfect weather, sheep in the fields, green grass, a river or lake here and there, trees, and just anything that made it absolutely incredible. How could anyone doubt that God created our earth?!?!  Everything is so detailed and perfect!  The views we had driving through the countryside were just perfect.  We stopped for lunch in a little town that I don't remember the name of. Then we drove to Queenstown where I was hoping to luge or bungee jump but we had hardly any time at all. We took the gondola ride to the top and saw more incredible scenery but only had about 15 minutes before we had to be back down. We then went to the hotel which I thought was a nice little place. It reminded me of Colorado ski resort type place. We had real keys for the doors and a cute little balcony. The breakfast was very NZlike. It wasn't bad but not like a typical American breakfast buffet.  After we checked in to our hotel we went to take a ferry over to our dinner location. I have no clue what it was called but it was really tasty. After dinner we got to see a sheep dog herding some sheep and then see a sheep shearing demonstration. Both were quite interesting. After dinner we took the same ferry back and heard the same man play piano music on the ferry.  It was somewhat relaxing even with the screaming kids running around.  We then took the coach back to the hotel and shortly thereafter turned in for the evening. 

Dec 23
The next morning we were up around 6:30. We had breakfast and then headed out around 9:15 from the hotel. We made our way towards Dunedin and Port Chalmers but stopped off a few places. We stopped at the bungee place where I had very little time so I didn't have time to even contemplate the bungee today. I think I have one more chance possibly where it might be an option. We also stopped at an orchard. The fruit there was so fresh!  I don't typically like kiwi but I tried some and it was so good. I was surprised but I'm not sure why...it was very fresh.  We had lunch at a nice little place on someone's land but they ran out of food so that was sad for those people that didn't get much to eat. I wasn't stuffed but I had plenty to eat. We had fresh apricots and ice cream for dessert and once again I don't usually care for apricots but it was so fresh I really liked it.  After lunch we made one more pit stop and then headed for the boat. Once back on board we dropped off our things and went to dinner since we have early dinner and it was already past our dinner time of 5:30. After dinner we went to the spa to relax and came back to rest up this evening for our long day tomorrow. We have to meet at 7am and we have a 9 hour long excursion but it should be a really good excursion. 

I'll leave you with a quote from an older woman on our tour who moved quite slow and used a cane to walk. "There are a lot of old crippled people that I've seen on this cruise."  

Monday, December 17, 2012

In Transit

The last time I left you I was about to go to bed in china. Well we left that morning for the airport and arrived early and were first in line at the checkin counter. We checked in and then went straight to security. It took less than 5 minutes to go through security. No shoes had to come off, no liquids came out of our bags and no pat downs occurred. It was painless.  While we were waiting for our flight we went to the business class lounge for Thai Airways. Remember we are flying mostly first or business using airmiles so we are enjoying the perks. We had a little morning snack since we had not eaten much before getting to the airport. I had a very nice "brookstone" style chair massage while we waited. My mom asked if it was free. Well it was all in Chinese but it didn't ask for a credit card so I went ahead and made myself at home. The lounge restrooms were interesting. That is all I will say, haha!

Our flight to Bangkok was about 5 hours and pretty nice.  The business class seats reclined and had foot rests that came up. I don't really remember what I did.  I think I read on the flight and maybe slept. It was pretty painless. The Thai airways people were very friendly and bowed as we got on the plane.

Once we arrived in Thailand we were greeted as we got off the plane immediately by a lady who took us away on a golf cart. She took us to some security area where we were screened and then took us to the first class lounge. We got some food, rested some, and then we still had time to each get an hour massage in the Thai Air spa.  It was quite relaxing. After waiting for another 2 hours it was time for our flight.

We were in first class for the 10 hour flight. There were 9 people I think in our cabin. I realized after we took off that my entertainment system that you can watch movies and stuff on was not working and they couldn't fix it.  I was really bummed about that because I couldn't get y iPad or iPhone to charge and I thought they would die on me.  I guess that pretty much meant that I would be sleeping most of the flight and that is certainly what I did. I read a little it on my iPad but then I went to sleep. They made up my bed and I passed out. I woke up a few times but the last time they woke me for breakfast.

After breakfast I was sitting there and one of the flight attendants came over and apologized for the inconvenience of the entertainment system not working.  She offered me anything in the duty free catalog complimentary up to $200. I had only a few minutes to make my decision.

Shortly after my nice parting gift we landed and found our driver from the hotel that we scheduled to pick us up. The airport was crazy crowded but we were able to get people out of our way and make a quick escape. Our driver was great and gave us lots of good info on the city.  After he dropped us off at the hotel we checked in and lucky me, we got an upgrade to the Horizon Club which means that we get some extra stuff free like free Internet, free breakfast, and I don't know what else.  I'm sure they felt sorry for us because they knew we had been traveling for 2.5 days and we were exhausted :)  Whatever the reason I am extremely grateful.

Once we got to our room, rested some, and showered, we headed out to explore.  We found a cafe to eat at outside. The weather in nice here...in the 70's.  It did get a little toasty walking around though. After eating we walked around and the. Eventually came back to the room.  We eventually went back out and searched for some shopping.  We will do the touristy stuff when we come back after the cruise.

We probably won't do a whole lot tonight.  I'm sure we are going to try and get acclimated to our new time zone. I will say that even though I was pretty exhausted after all of our flying, I'm doing pretty good.  My energy level isn't like it normally is but I've also been in transit for the past 2.5 days.

Tomorrow is ship day and we finally will get to be rocked to sleep each night with the waves of the sea...such a great feeling :) Stay tuned for more!

*disclaimer....I'm aware that there may be plenty of typos in each blog post. Bear with me if you will.  I got a great portable keyboard for Christmas to go with my iPad and I tried it before I left home and it worked just fine but when I arrived at our first over night stop I discovered that it was no longer working. So I'm having to do the best I can under the current  conditions :)