Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Still getting homey

Bit by bit, we are getting more and more settled into the house. Last week we put up a new Christmas tree. We haven't decorated one in years, and it even though it is 9' tall, it looks kind of dwarfed in our library. Last night we hung up all our movie posters, which definitely gives the walls a "lived-in" feel. Being able to see familiar pictures about is also helping me to think of this as "my" house. There is still a part of me that can't really believe it... but I'm getting there. To celebrate this effort, we decided to watch one of the movies that is depicted on our posters. We chose Fight Club, which I enjoyed a little bit more this time around yet I'm sticking to my rating of 7. Yes, I have found the CF card reader but haven't had a chance to transfer the pictures over yet. I want to take some new ones with the posters and the Christmas tree up, so I'll get you all up to date soon.

Monday, November 14, 2005

A house slowly becomes a Home

Yes, we made it! We are moved in and now unpacking and arranging all our junk. Despite having to escrow for the sod, the lawn is now in and everything is working fine. We just got the washing machine lines fixed today (don't ask). Anyway, I took some new pictures with the grass and the new trees, but now I can't seem to find the CF card reader, so you'll have to wait to see them. I've been sleeping here for... what is it?... four nights so far, and I'm still in shock. I guess I have been subconsciously guarding myself against a disaster, so I haven't really embraced the concept. Now we are actually living in this *amazing* house and it feels like a dream. Probably once all the boxes are unpacked and all the junk is put away, it'll finally become a true home. Anyway, for the snail-mail folks out there, our new address is:

6020 Alden St.
Shawnee, KS 66216

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Some more sobering news

We found out during lunch today that Justin's grandmother passed away early yesterday morning. She had been struggling with cancer for awhile and had declined rapidly since his grandfather died last year. It was a little sooner than expected, but still peaceful. We will be attending her funeral on Wednesday.

Cruise in Review

Let me preface the following summary by saying that after our experience, Justin and I have decided that we will not ever cruise on Carnival again. I was worried about the ship not being quite big enough, but even the space they did have was used more for things Justin and I aren't interested in -- namely, lots of bars and a big casino. Furthermore, we probably won't fly to Orlando again if we can avoid it. I hadn't really considered the Disney factor ahead of time, but a couple of plane flights full of screaming children will make me more cautious in the future. We did enjoy ourselves overall, and after everything (stress and house included), I am very glad we went. Day 0 We started out with a long, cramped bus ride from the airport to bay. The weather was pretty grey and windy, which didn't seem to bode well either. After standing in many long lines, we finally made it on the ship and had our first of many buffet meals. (Note: Be sure to fast for a few days before going on a cruise because you will more than make up for it while on board.) We walked around and explored the ship most of the afternoon and met my parents in the fancy dining room for dinner. Travel is hard work, so we bascially crashed that night. Here is a picture I took from our room balcony, looking out to Port Canaveral. You can see in the background, another cruise ship -- of course, of the Disney line.  Posted by Picasa

Day 1 The weather was not so great this day, and the waves were still pretty rocky. Thus, I wasn't terribly surprised when after scooting around Nassau for an hour, our port there was cancelled. Apparently, the cold front was enough to prevent the port authorities from being able to escort the cruise ship into harbor safely. Carnival credited us $25 per person for missing the port, and instead tried to fill the day with their "fun" activies. Justin and I did our usual walking around on deck, reading, and homework. We worked out in the gym that evening and watched Fantasic Four in our room. Here is a photograph of our room with the first of our towel animals (a dog, I think). Posted by Picasa

Day 2 Happy Holloween!! This was a busy day on board, actually. We took the morning slow; I did some reading while Justin went to a Home Theatre seminar. After lunch, there was an ice sculpture demonstration. Although I missed most of the work, I saw the end result of a witch on a broom -- very cool. Then we hung out by the pool for a bit until my brother and my dad finished with their ping-pong contest. After losing out, they rewarded themselves by going down the waterslide. We played a little shuffleboard, which was pretty funny in the high wind. Then we watched the boys try to play some basketball before the freethrow contest. After dinner, Justin and I walked around on deck. Then he worked on some homework while I played cards with the rest of the family. Here is a rare shot I got of my dad with the ball amongst the other basketball players. Posted by Picasa

We saw the best sunset of the cruise this night. Posted by Picasa

Day 2 continued Of course being Halloween, many people brought costumes. We were playing cards during the parade around the ship, so I didn't see many then, but we did attend the costume contest later that night. Unfortunately, they had the stage lights turned down to make it seem more "spooky" or something, so none of the pictures I took look very good. It wasn't such a terrible loss though since I didn't see many really cool costumes. Here is one of the better shots during the contest, to give you an idea. Posted by Picasa

Day 3 A day at Saint Thomas -- where they have the BOB!! Our excursion wasn't until noon, so we decided we'd try to walk downtown first. On our way there, we were rained on a little, and realized that downtown was too far to make it there and back before lunch. Anyway, we did enjoy the BOB experience just as much this time as we did two years ago. I also took a lot more time to snorkel and spotted a big sea turtle as well as some sword-nose fish. We got back to the boat and showered, and then took a Skyride excursion up to Paradise Point. We were hoping for a great view as well as a beautiful sunset, but the clouds blocked most of the sun's color. At least the view was pretty wonderful. My brother took this picture of us at Paradise Point, overlooking the bay. Posted by Picasa

Day 4 This day we docked at Saint Maartin, in Phillipsburg (I think), which is on the Dutch side. We didn't have any excursions planned so the idea was just to walk around along the beach. Of course, being the early risers that we are, we were one of the few people off the boat around 7:00am. Thus, all the street hagglers were free to harass us with their excellent shopping opportunities, or taxi rides, or beach chairs, or jet skis. Despite the interference, we did walk all the way up and down the beach and I took a few pictures. But I wasn't enjoying the surf so much, because I didn't have a swimsuit on. So we went back to the boat, napped, ate lunch, changed, and then came back to the beach. This time, with more people out, it was easier to avoid the hagglers. We played around in the water for over an hour, then walked back to boat and showered for dinner. I played cards with my family while Justin worked on homework before bed. Here is a shot I took while on the beach of Justin looking off to the ships. The one on the right is actually the Royal Carribean Explorer of the Seas, which is the ship we were on two years ago. Next to it on the left (cut in half in this picture), is our current ship, the Carnival Glory. Posted by Picasa

Day 5 More fun at sea. Actually, more reading, relaxing, napping, doing homework, attending seminars, and just plain doing nothing. While Justin attended a Home Theatre conference in the morning, I did a little bit of shopping on board. After lunch, we went to a surround sound music demo, which was pretty good except that I had a seat right next to a speaker so my "surround" was weighted heavily to one corner. We then went and watched the cruise director put on a newlywed game, which was pretty funny. We walked around deck a lot and tried to take some pictures of the sunset -- the clouds just weren't cooperating. After dinner we watched 'Mr. & Mrs. Smith', which got cut off about 10 minutes before the end. It only proves to me how little Carnival seems to care about quality. Here is a fairly good shot that Justin took of me in front of the sunset that night. Posted by Picasa

Day 6 Yet another "fun" day at sea, according to Carnival. Actually, I did enjoy this relaxing day before the end of the cruise. I basically laid around a did a lot of reading, while Justin attended some more Home Theatre seminars. After lunch, I joined Justin for the panel discussion about Blue-ray versus HD DVD formats, which turned out be very informative. (I am hoping that HD DVD wins out, even if it has fewer Hollywood studios behind it.) Then the family played another round of Progressive and I won!! After a quick dinner, Justin and I attended the Home Theatre end party and auction for the Elf Foundation (they put theatres in children's wings of hospitals). We watched $45,500 of stuff get bid on, most of which was more than $1,000 a piece. It was a very interesting experience. Finally, we packed to get ready for the big day of travel coming up. Here is a picture of the family playing cards. Posted by Picasa
Day 7 I finally had breakfast in the sit-down dining room on the last morning, since they started serving at a reasonable hour (6:30am). The eggs benedict was awesome. After that we basically started the debarkation, which is waiting in a bunch of lines. Then we waited for our bus to the airport. Then we waited to get on the plane. Then we flew. Then we picked up luggage and drove home. And then we changed to go look at the status of the house. The deck and driveway were finished, but still no sod. We feel comfortable with closing tomorrow. I should be able to post more pictures once we actually start moving. Whew! I think that's enough for now