Hello From Our Cruise

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It’s hard to believe that our time on board the Norwegian Gem is almost over. There is so much to write about. For now, I will share some photos from our family travel.

The first day we spent time looking around the beautiful Gem.

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Water slide on the Norwegian Gem

Fruity drinks helped us to stay cool.

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Fruity drink to start the cruise.

Thanks to Splash Academy, the kids liked to play and TechyDad and I had time to explore and relax alone.

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Our only excursion was to Kennedy Space Center. So amazing to see the history behind NASA.

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Afternoon at Kennedy Space Center

A day of sun, fun, and sand thanks to the private Bahamas island. The Great Stirrup Cay was gorgeous. I wanted to take home my own palm tree.

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Day on The Great Stirrup Cay

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NCL Great Stirrup Cay

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Beautiful sky and palm trees in the Bahamas

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Beautiful palm trees

The next day we explored Nassau, Bahamas on our own.

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Time in Nassau, Bahamas

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Views of Nassau

So much more to share, but first I must enjoy the rest of the cruise with my family.

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Cruising with a Smartphone

#VZWBuzz Disclosure

I have a confession, I love my smartphone. At times it is my lifeline and my BFF. It allows me to be connected to my family, friends, kids’ schools, and work. In addition to this, my Samsung S5 that I currently use has an amazing camera on it. This means I rarely need anything else to capture memories. Thanks to my heavy reliance on my smartphone, an upcoming vacation scared me a little bit. We are going on our first ever cruise and it was planned rather quickly.

Smartphone gear for cruise

During out planning process for the trip, my phone has been huge. I have been able to communicate with our travel agent, Norwegian Cruise Line, and make lists. This week it has also allowed me to keep tabs on the developing weather. Tropical Storm Erika was starting her path earlier in the week and we didn’t know what that would mean for our Florida and Bahamas cruise. While out last evening, I checked the NCL website and saw an updated weather alert. We were one of three ships that had their itineraries changed to avoid the storm that will likely become a hurricane shortly. While waiting for an event to begin, TechyDad had already started to research places to go and see while in Bermuda.

While it is easy to get phone plans for international travel, cruising is an entirely different beast. Being in the middle of the ocean for a few days at a time leaves you at the mercy of very expensive and potentially slow WiFi. I have to admit that being completely unconnected may appeal to some, but I am not as thrilled. I like being able to be in touch in case of emergencies.

I have embraced being mostly disconnected and prepared so I can still use my phone to share and check in from time to time. For days when we head to the pool or beach, I have a waterproof Geckobrand pouch to store my phone and camera inside I have my handy dandy Zeiss lens cleaning wipes for my lens and glasses. Thanks to TechyDad, I will be able to avoid the use of our WiFi enabled SD card in my camera to transfer for social media shares. He found us a Card Reader Hub by Allreli. This fantastic item will allow me to take photos off my phone and store it on a FlashDrive or shuttle something from my digital camera to smartphone. To be ready I just had to put the ES File Explorer app on my phone and I am all set with folders ready for quick access.

Now I just need an app that will finish packing everything that I am sure to forget. What tips do you have for traveling on a cruise with your smartphone? I would love to know and will share more after we get back from our family vacation.

It's Me

Disclosure: As a member of the Verizon Lifestyle Bloggers, I receive devices like the Samsung Galaxy S5 and Droid Turbo to test out and share ways that I use it in my life. I am a long time Verizon customer, and all opinions are my own.

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Twelve Years

Dear NHL,

Please slow down! You are growing up way too quickly before my eyes. It seems like when I blinked you went from being a child to a teen. The little boy in you is pretty much gone and I see an amazing young man emerging.

 Turning Twelve Years Old

Last summer was bitter sweet. I watched you move on from elementary school and sent you off to middle school. I held my breath for many days unsure of how this huge transition would go. Big changes are never easy and we tried to preset you as much as possible in a positive way. Moving from class to class, having multiple teachers, and being in a huge school could have been a disaster. Much to my surprise, you loved middle school. Each and every day, you woke up and wanted to go to school. This was new for you and after a few months, I was able to exhale.

You were so blessed to have been in a school with a team of sixth grade teachers that were so dedicated. You witnessed teamwork in action and, thanks to this, were able to spread your wings. We also saw you become more responsible and mature. We were proud of your grades, but you wanted more. You set your mind on making gold honor roll third quarter. You told every person at school that this was something you wanted. We watched as you worked so hard to accomplish this goal. You studied hard and stayed after school when you wanted to make sure you understood aspects of the book you were reading. When it came time for honor roll to be announced, you were so proud of yourself. You were beaming and I was so thrilled for you. Now if you ever give up on something, I will subtly remind you of your ability to set goals and accomplish them.

Eleven was also the year that you went to the local science fair with your project. Your passion for science really took off this year because of a dedicated period each day with a teacher that inspired you through hands on learning. I can no longer assist you with your math because you are too good at it. For now on, you will be my guru for all things related to numbers. For NYSSMA, you asked your band teacher to allow you to try timpani drums instead of the usual snare drums. Once again, your determination to challenge yourself paid off.

This year, your braces came off and we learned about life with retainers together. Seeing your beautiful smile made the last pesky weeks of your metal mouth worth the stress. Outside of school, your interests have changed a little. You are still our geek in training earning lots of respect for your knowledge of Star Wars, Doctor Who, Harry Potter, card games like Munchkin, and so much more. Video games are still a huge part of your life, whether apps on your tablet or on the Nintendo WiiU. You also overcame a huge fear and learned how to ride your bike. Seeing you head off on your own thanks to a great program with role models that inspired you was so wonderful to witness.

 Birthday Boy and Brother on Bikes

The year ahead of us is going to be a busy one. You are off to seventh grade where they will challenge you academically. In addition to this, we have a Bar Mitzvah to get ready for. While I am in denial about this, the special day is just around the corner. Please remember that no matter how busy we get, I am always there for you. I will be your advocate and cheer you on as loud as I can. While you may not need me as much as you used to, I will always be ready to stand by your side.

Love,

Mom

Past B-day posts to NHL:

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Happy 40th Birthday TechyDad

One of us had to hit the big 4-0 before the other and TechyDad is taking this one for the team. Today he turns forty years old and even wrote about it on his own blog. Please take a moment to head over and leave him some birthday wishes.

 Happy 40th Birthday

It seems like yesterday when I was planning TechyDad’s 30th birthday. NHLwas a toddler, I had just gone back to teaching, and managed to get some of his co-workers to help me to schedule a little party at work.

TechyDad working

This year, I wanted to do something different. We have not been away in several years and TechyDad works so hard with his day job and also with freelance projects. He needs to get away, relax, and make memories with all of us.

NCL Gem - photo credit Norwegian Cruise Line

While we are not there right now, we will be going on a cruise for TechyDad’s birthday. I was not able to keep it a secret because I needed his help to get the time off from work. We have never been on a cruise before, so this is a big adventure for all of us. It only seems fitting to do something completely different as we both head into this next part of our lives together. Watching the boys on the slide, playing in the sand, and exploring the ship will be priceless memories.

NCL Gem Waterslide - Photo Credit Norwegian Cruise Line

Happy birthday TechyDad. I love you with all of my heart and am so blessed to have you in my life. Thank goodness I caught your message in that chat on that evening long ago. You are an amazing man, husband, and father. Looking forward to many more years together watching you grow older by my side.

It's Me

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Goodbye My Friend

Saying goodbye to a couch

Who knew that it would be so hard to say goodbye? Yes, I am talking about our old couch in the photo above. Thursday evening we set it outside on the curb and much to my surprise I stood there with tears rolling down my cheeks. While it may seem just just an old couch, it apparently means a lot more to me than I expected.

Goodbye Couch

You see that couch with the squishy cushions and spring that had sprung was more to me than a piece of furniture. It was filled with memories of years gone by.

  • This couch was something that TechyDad and I picked out right before we got married. It was our first purchase together. Little known fact, I used money my Nana and Papa left me to buy this and other items that we got when we started our life together.
  • I was sitting on this couch reading the sixth Harry Potter book when I was nine months pregnant with NHL. I stood up because I was uncomfortable and felt a pop and whoosh! Yes, my water broke and the big kiddo was on his way into the world almost twelve years ago.
  • Countless hours were spent on this couch nursing both of my babies. My rear went numb at times, but those snuggles made the couch my happy place.
  • Over the years, I watched the boys grow up on this couch before my eyes. They would nap, snuggle, bond, and yes even wrestle each other in this very location.
  • Almost every year, we would scramble to take photos of the kids for our New Years cards on this couch. We would often dress up the area with a blanket, stuffed buddies, or something else.

Goodbye old friend

In the end, I know it was time to say goodbye to my old friend, but I will miss her. Of course, I am also excited about our new couch coming this weekend and making new memories. Now, who wants to help me alphabetize the list of rules for the kids?

It's Me

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