Cruising with Disney

Disney Fantasy

We’re back from our seven-day Bahama cruise on the Disney Fantasy™ and while the kids seem to have rejoined the Real World without a hitch—though with some magnificent tan lines*—my husband and I are still staggering around on sea legs humming “Be Our Guest”.

And doing loads and loads of laundry.

As many of you know, I approached this vacation with a high amount of anxiety about what we would need and what we would do and how I would handle the possibility that my family wouldn’t let me escape the experience without wearing a swimsuit.  In public.

But for the most part, it was a blast—a relaxing blast—and it was comforting to know that we were surrounded by families who understood about random pre-teen surliness and the low boredom thresholds of small fry in formal restaurant settings.  When I noticed a fellow passenger standing in a corner and lecturing their child through gritted teeth, I knew that these were my people.

The staff was terrific, the staterooms were comfortable, the showers were pure heaven, and the food was wonderful.  There were little touches, like towel animals and pillow chocolates and wait staff with impressive memories for preferences and a good supply of riddles and brain twisters.**

The Disneyness of the place, while obviously a fundamental theme, wasn’t oppressive at all.  Some people dove in head first and Lived the Disney Experience™ but the rest of us just skimmed the surface of our personal nostalgia, avoided the Princess Photo Op Corral, and/or took advantage of the company’s rights to the Marvel movies to see Ant-Man once or twice.  Three times tops.

My husband and I are already plotting to take another cruise, though next time, I’ll be referring back to this list of things I wish I’d known before we sailed:

disney-cruises-logo

1. Decent walking shoes are essential

 Sandals and flip-flops are usually good enough on board*** but don’t let packing space or weird tan lines prevent you from wearing decent arch support when you go ashore.

I brought my sturdy pair of walking sandals, but my mother’s quest for “that one shop” she remembered on Cozumel^ still nearly did my poor feet in—you know you aren’t doing well when the hawkers stop telling you about the bargains in their shops and start luring you with benches and band-aids.

 

Towelephant!

Towelephant!

2. Go off the grid

I decided to leave my laptop at home, figuring I’d write longhand and pay the minimum to connect to the ship’s WiFi through my phone to check my e-mail,^^ but I only tried once or twice with no joy—my phone couldn’t detect the signal.  My husband ended up borrowing a ship laptop to check in on my MIL, but the connection was very slow and intermittent, and ultimately wasn’t worth the bother.

Good thing we paid by the meg and not the minute!

And barring a bit of blog and texting withdrawal, I didn’t miss being plugged in at all.  My phone did come in handy for on board photo ops and to entertain Sunny on the nights when we were assigned to the boringest most formal restaurant, but I kept it in Airplane Mode the whole time.

 

Towel Baby!

Towel Baby!

3. Don’t care about the hair

You know how your hair reacts to your hometown humidity, but in equatorial, oceanic humidity, cowlicks go gleeful.  Arguing about this with styling implements, smoothing products, and bad language doesn’t help.

I gave up by day three—I’m stubborn—and generally wore my sunglasses as a headband indoors to keep the whole mess back.   By the time we reached Jamaica, I was able to walk through the windtunnel of Falmouth without care—and when the nice young lady trying to sell me a $2000 pendant told me she loved my hair, I thanked her instead of laughing in her face.^^^

 

Towel Rhino

Towel Rhino with nose blurr!

4. All body types are welcome

This ain’t the Love Boat—this is parents and grandparents and kids who are all too busy having fun to give a hoot how you look in your swimsuit.

Assuming you know what strangers are thinking about your body is defeatist and damaging . . . unless you’re focusing on all the strangers of your general size and shape who aren’t letting anything get in the way of their fun.  You can totally assume that these people think you’re fabulous and would like you to leave your towels and cover-ups behind as you stroll to the water, so they can check out the adorableness of your swim-shorts.

 

Towel Monkey!

Towel Monkey!

 3. Sunscreen. Sunscreen. Sunscreen.

At all times you are emerging into the open air, even if you’re only going to the buffet by the pools.  Reapply twice as often as you think you should.§

I had sunburned knees from sitting in the surf, even though the stuff we use was rated waterproof for 80 minutes, and I wasn’t in there that long.  I would think that the waters near public beaches would be 30% sunscreen anyway, but it apparently doesn’t work like that.§§

 

Towel Bear!

Towel Bear!

4. Save your receipts—there will be a quiz afterward!

The last full day of your cruise, your steward will deliver a copy of Declaration Form 6059B, courtesy of US Customs and Border Protection.  THis form will ask you which foreign ports your household members visited and how much they spent there, itemized by general category.

I saved my receipts because I do that, but my husband had to go through a few bags to jog his memory.  It was a blessing that the nine pounds of beach shells Sunny brought back, not to mention all the hitchhiking sand, didn’t count.

Of course, if you really want to be prepared, you can check the list of Things That Custom Agents Frown On before you go shopping . . . but what’s life without a little risk?

 Towel Monkey Again! We like Towel Monkey!

Towel Monkey Again!
Because we love  Towel Monkey!

4. Check every single drawer after you pack to go home, even if you remember doing it.

Because you might remember packing all your clean underwear and good bras from the upper drawer of the cabinet to the left of the connecting door . . . but  if you don’t make absolutely certain, it will become evident that you did not and tragically so, if you aren’t traveling directly home after disembarking.§§§

 

Snorkel Sunny!

Snorkel Sunny!

5. You aren’t actually obligated to do anything.

This is your vacation, too.

You can spend time with your whole family, part of your family, or enjoy some Me Time.

You can go swimming all day, every day, or never go near the pool.

Pirate Buffet!

Pirate Buffet!

You can eat at your assigned restaurant every night or skip it in favor of the buffet or a poolside food stall—or even room service.¤

You can see all the shows or none.

You can spend the whole day in the movie theater or never go at all.

You can stay in your room the whole trip and watch Disney stuff on television (or never turn it on after the suggested Shipwide PSA feature).

Princess Corral!

Princess Corral!

You can stand in line to get a photo taken with various Disney characters or avoid that noise altogether.

You can dance, play, write, nap, party, work Sudoku, take towel-folding classes, shop . . . or not.

You are paying the Disney Cruise Line to entertain, feed, and clean up after your family—let them take care of you, too.

 

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*Sunny’s skin went brown and her hair went platinum.  She looks like a walking photo negative.

**Joseph, our amazing assistant server, managed to stump the whole family twice—we still maintain that our answer to that one about making four triangles out of two by moving one crayon was perfectly right.  So there.

***Though it’s a bigger ship than you think and most of it, oddly, is inside, away from the pools.  So you don’t actually need ventilated, water-friendly footwear all the time.  And unless you become addicted to Elevator Roulette (I did, at one point, for the sheer challenge of it all), you’ll be taking the stairs out of sheer frustration.

^I’m not sure we ever found it, but the ones we did find were well worth the blisters, if not the walk back.  At one point, I was seriously considering hiring a taxi to take me the remaining six blocks to the port entrance.  Guh.

^^On advice, I was careful to shut down the automatic updates on my apps the day before we left; the last thing I wanted was to waste all my allotted megs accidentally updating Fruit Ninja.

^^^I’ll admit that I might have been stunned by the price of the pendant at the time.  I managed to extract myself with relative dignity and bought a nice, kitchy, CZ frog necklace at the duty-free for . . . somewhat less.

CZ Froggie

CZ Froggie

§ Especially if your idea of setting a base tan is to glance briefly at the Midwestern sun as you scurry from your air-conditioned library workplace to your air-conditioned car.

§§ Except for Sunny, who never had so much as a pinkish blotch on her.  Though we still squirted SPF50 in her direction whenever she gamboled past.

§§§Thanks again for running that emergency load for me us, Dad!

¤But if you go on the Fantasy™, try the Animator’s Palate at least once—it featured interactive shows guaranteed to make 8-year olds abandon Tetris.  According to the aforementioned 8-year old, they also have the funnest desserts.

Mickey Cupcake!

Mickey Cupcake!

Sunnyisms for a Cloudy Day: Superhero Edition

My eight-year old, Sunny, has a way of confounding expectations in the best possible way.

It’s her superpower.

Super Iron Sunny

 

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All’s Fair in Love and Goldfish

During the Morning commute:

“We had a lot of fun at recess this week, Mommy.”

“What are you doing?  Playing superheroes?”Goldfish Crackers

“No.  We’ve been getting married.”

“All of you?”

“Pretty much.  Yesterday, Jennie married Gavin and Melissa married Jack.”

“With actual ceremonies?  Or just cake?”

“The church words.  We take turns saying the awfully married wife stuff.”

“And the boys are okay with this?”

“Not always.  We had to tackle Colin.”

“Did you get in trouble?”

“No.  The groom gets half the bride’s snack after recess, so they’re usually okay with it once they’re caught.  It’s just, Colin doesn’t like peanut butter crackers, so he wanted to marry me instead of Sophie.”

“Did you accept his proposal?”

“No way!  I like goldfish crackers way too much to get married!”

ooooooooooOOOOOoooooooooo

A recent triumphant shout from the bathroom:

“Once again, the Toilet Paper of Justice has wiped the Butt of EEEEeeevil!”

Paper

(Wouldn’t that make a terrific Proctor & Gamble ad?)

ooooooooooOOOOOoooooooooo

Super Mom

For Mother’s Day, I received this poster:

It reads:

My Mom is great.  My Mom is cool. My Mom is better than any Mom on earth.

My Mom can do anything!  My Mom is as smart as a stegosaurus which has two brains.

My Mom can’t lose.  My Mom is the best.  I love my Mom because she snuggles like a pro.

My Mom is a SUPERHERO.

On the next page, there’s a form reporting that I’m as strong as a hippo,
as smart as the aforementioned stegosaurus
(no mention that the stego’s second brain is installed in the rear),
brave as a mountain lion,
And that I have the Power to Snuggle.

My only weakness?

Work.

Yeah, I teared up.  This kind of thing is pure kryptonite.

 ooooooooooOOOOOoooooooooo

Bad Mommy

I tucked Sunny in last night at she wanted a snuggle, so I climbed in.

“Ow!” I said, shifting to extract an Elsa doll, a transformer ball, a Dr. Who My Little Pony, three books, a flashlight, an empty bottle of bubble solution, two Pokemon figurines, and a handful of sharp-edged Legos.

“You have an awful lot of non-sleeping stuff in this bed,” I said, dropping everything all over the side.

“Mommy!” Sunny said, “You’re getting my room all messy!”

Sunny Comp

Purple Carrots at the Dinner Table

Last week, Sunny came home from school with an art project wrapped in newspaper and a plastic grocery bag of indeterminate origin.

The bundle sat on the counter as I threw dinner together, until my MIL, with her usual tact,  asked me if it was trash that someone should put in the garbage. I rescued it and opened it while she went to call the others.

Purple Carrot Fish1

I looked at the sculpture for a while in wonder, and put it in the center of the table, for a conversation piece.

It worked.

“What is that?”  My MIL asked.

“It’s my purple carrot,” Sunny said, scooping the center out of her dinner roll.

“That’s not a purple carrot,” Jane said.  “It’s a . . . squished snake?  That isn’t really purple?”

“It’s a fish,” Sunny said.  “And his name is Purple Carrot. See?  I painted him purple, except the . . . the hot oven thing made it too light.”

“The kiln?” I said.

“Yeah.  And Gail said it looked like a carrot, before I made it flat.”

Gail is Sunny’s very best friend and co-conspirator.  Everyone needs a Gail, who gives hugs to everyone she meets and may very well be the limitless energy source that will save the world, if anyone can figure out how to keep her still long enough to harness it.

Gail is often quoted around here—or evoked as authoritative approval.

“A screaming purple carrot?” Jane said.

“He’s not screaming.  He’s trying to breathe.  Gail says—”

“Why is a fish trying to breathe?”

“He’s evolving, Janie!  Duh!”

“So,” my husband said.  “He’s a lungfish?”

“Yes,” Sunny said.  “He’s trying really hard to get them.”Purple Carot Fish3

“Get what?” my MIL asked.

Lungs.

“Does evolution even work like that?” Jane asked.

“Maybe he’s a Pokémon,” I said.

“Or a Kirby-fish,” Jane said. “He looks like one of those cleaner fish—what’s that called?”

“Plecostomus?” I asked.

“Yeah. That.”

“He’s a Purple. Carrot. Fish,” Sunny said, stabbing at her green beans with her fork.  “Gail likes him.”

“He’s fantastic, honey,” I said.  “I like him very much, too.  His scales are really good and his expression is perfect.”

“Thanks, Mommy.”

“And I think Screaming Purple Carrot is a great name for a rock band,” I said, pushing my luck.

She beamed.  “That’s what Gail said!”

Purple Carrot Fish2

 

 

 

Quarantined Until Further Naps, I mean, Notice

We’re not even one month in, yet, and 2015 has already gone viral.

Two Saturdays ago, poor Sunny went uncharacteristically lethargic, lost her dinner,* and spent Sunday sleeping.

That evening, Jane experienced a non-triggered panic attack. I know that’s not a virus, but the symptoms looked a lot like sudden-onset pneumonia, especially with her history of bronchial mishegaas, so my husband took her to the hospital, where she was given a Xanax and several tests to make sure her heart and lung were clear, which they were.

On Monday, she fell asleep in the middle of math class—in the middle of giving an answer in math class, according to the school—and came home to sleep off the residual effects of the adrenaline spike and/or benzodiazepine.

I had a blinding sinus headache on Wednesday, but powered through on Advil, caffeine, and hope until all three gave up on me around lunch on Thursday.

We enjoyed a day and a half of relative good health.

Then on Saturday, Sunny developed a mild fever after swim class and voluntarily slept through the day. She went downhill on Sunday—her fever hit 103F just as the medical clinics closed—and started bark-coughing between refusing to eat anything “scratchy” and complaining that her empty tummy hurt.

She and I spent a miserable night—she trying to breathe, me making sure she didn’t stop—and when she woke up Monday, she swallowed twice, tried to say “ouch!” and burst into tears. So instead of spending our day off at the museum (or writing), I took her to the pediatrician. He said she had nothing more dire than a severe sore throat and gave her a prescription for steroids to soothe the throat swelling.We also went the homeopathic route with chocolate pudding, Gatorade, and the final two episodes of The Librarians.Unfortunately, either the steroids or the chocolate made Sunny just a tad manic, so none of us could catch up on some much-needed sleep.

We all went to bed last night—from my text history, I was asleep an hour or two before I hit the pillow—hoping that the Time of the Virus was finally behind us . . .

. . . and then, about ten-thirty, Jane threw up.

If this continues, it’s going to be an interesting year.

How’s YOUR health?

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* I cannot overemphasize the sincere joy of having children old enough, and savvy enough, to clamp their own hands over their mouths and run for the nearest acceptable receptacle.  It’s right up there with pitching out the last plastic potty and retiring the diaper bag.

A Very Wesson Christmas

Christmas Haul

We had a lot of Christmas this year.

It officially started with the Christmas Eve Children’s Service, in which Sunny played a Cabbage Patch Doll, and I played the Voice of a Cabbage Patch doll.  Sunny didn’t like the doll’s outfit, so we dressed her in a strapless gown filched from Sunny’s American Girl doll, on the theory that she has such an extensive wardrobe, she wouldn’t miss it.  The gown matched the color of Sunny’s own Christmas dress.

Unfortunately, Cabbage Patch dolls aren’t built to wear strapless gowns and Sunny wasn’t overly careful about sitting like she was wearing a skirt instead of jeans, so I spent a good deal of time pulling the doll’s dress up and Sunny’s dress down.

Jane was Mary, and wore a beautiful blue scarf that she hadn’t because it covered the peacock streaks in her hair, which she was secretly hoping would impress the boy playing Joseph. She doesn’t like him in that way, Mom, Jeez!  but it was still disappointing.

I was wearing my usual green polyester choir robe, which covered all sins from the neck down.
Can I get an Amen?

The next morning was sheer chaos, but it started after my first cup of coffee—
there are benefits to having children who are too wound up from late dinners and the prospects of Santa to go to sleep before eleven—
so I didn’t care.

Luckily, this year’s holiday madness included my brother-in-law’s girlfriend, who is a terrific photographer, so most of it was documented a lot better than in previous years, which, as some of you might recall, tended to feature my photobombing thumb.*

Christmas Stress

___

We upheld many venerable traditions,
including awesomesocks:

Awesomesocks 2014

 . . . which this year also meant things made out of awesomesocks, from the kits Mom gave both kids.

Sockraties

This is Sunny’s “Sockraties”.
(We are not arguing with the spelling. He is not ours.)

 

 There were favorite presents.

book bracelet

I received a lot of jewelry this year, which isn’t a complaint. I love the malachite set that the kids gave me and the chain my husband gave me for my favorite pendant–or gave himself, really, since he won’t have to battle with the clasp on my old chain–and the beautiful bracelet my folks sent me that is still firmly attached to its theft-proof box, but this one, given to me by my BIL and his girlfriend, photographed best.
It makes my wrist happy.

1 little girl from school

One Little Girl From School.

Santa gave Sunny and Jane fans in their stockings. They learned to unfurl, snap, flirt, and smack their uncle on the head.
Good times.

Skates!

Sunny received these at 8am Christmas morning. By the time she went to bed, they had only been OFF her feet a cumulative two hours.
She likes being tall.

pokemon!

Santa gave Jane Pokemon cards.
This is, apparently, a super-extra-rare-Somethingagon, which is just as confusing when it isn’t all fuzzy.

And yes, I took this photo. Hush.

Beaver Bites

Watson mailed us a big ol’ box of Texas, most of which came from Buc-ee’s and most of which is, theoretically, edible.

The Beaver Nuggets are very tasty.

And Reindeer Games.

Reindeer Games

The photographer might have arranged this one a bit while one of the subjects was having an after-brunch snooze.

jump

This captures not only a forty-year Wesson family tradition of ringing the bells as you pass underneath the felt Santa, but also the moment just before Sunny grabbed instead of swatted.

Santa is expected to make a full recovery, once the glue dries.

We even introduced a new tradition, we hope:

The Wesson Christmas piñata.

Contemplating the Enemy

Regarding the enemy.

Ninja Attack

Smacking the leg off the enemy with the soon-to-be-traditional Inexplicable Kendo Stick of Righteousness.

(“Inexplicable” because I didn’t know we owned one, and no one can explain why we do.)

Victory!

Victory!

Victory Dance

The traditional Wesson Victory Dance!
(It’s true. I’ve seen it before.)

Clown noses

To the Victors go the spoils. And clown noses.

The *funniest* part of this is when she leaned over the basket of goodies and tried, loudly and unsuccessfully—all three times—to blow it off her nose.
Two out of five adults and one older sister were appalled and disgusted. The rest of us were too busy laughing to speak.

 How was your Thursday?

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*Those of you with discerning eyes—or just, you know, eyes—will be able to tell which ones are hers and which are mine.  Even if I had a quarter of her talent (nope) my phone app is no match for her professional-grade camera, with special lens attachment.  And she also gets up and moves around for shots, which I also do not.