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The P and O cruise

22 May

“How many more days?”  Hannah asked me every morning for weeks.  She and Daniel were so excited for our cruise with Aunty Jess, as was I.  It was our last hurrah before everything change, before she has a baby.  That’s not for another 20 weeks, but cruises have surprisingly early pregnancy cut off dates.

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I have been potty training Daniel vigilantly for a couple of months, but it was all in vain.  He wasn’t allowed at the kids club.  Not because he wasn’t potty trained.  Contrary to what P&O’s website says, kids who aren’t potty trained can go in the kids club.  Their parents just have to respond to the pager given out by the kids club asap to change a soiled nappy if needed.

He wasn’t allowed in the kids club because they don’t take kids who are a day under 3.  I thought that when Jess said if he’s potty trained and speaking well, maybe they’d take him, that she had actually spoken to P&O, and that’s what they said, but it was just her wishful thinking.

We didn’t think it would matter so much though because of the group child minding service. Sure we’d have to pay $5 an hour, but it would be totally worth it, we could be kid free for a couple hours, relax, hang out, see a show.  Except the group child minding service turned out to be only for kids 3 and up and only after 10:30pm.

Kids under 3 are allowed to play in the kids club if an adult they came with is supervising them. That seemed fair.  We could all go there, the kids could play, Jess and I could sit in a corner and hang out.  Jess, Hannah and Daniel and I all went in and the kids excitedly started playing, happy that they could be in the kids club AND that we were there with them. Jess and I sat near Daniel, but in the corner out of the way.

“Sorry, only one of you can stay here with him.”  A kids club employee told us.

“What if one stays with him and one is here for her?” We asked her, pointing to Hannah.

“No, she is over three and enrolled in the kids club, so she can’t have an adult with her.”

There was absolutely nothing, apart from playing on the stairs, in the lift, and in our room, for kids under 3 to do.  Everything for kids was at the kids clubs (different clubs for different ages).  We thought the pools would be something fun for all of us to do together, but as soon as we got in, we got straight back out again because it was so cold.  Why would you not heat a pool on a cruise ship?  So for the kids to have something to do, The Jess and I couldn’t hang out together.

The window in our room. There was a side ledge under the window where the kids liked to play.  They could close the curtains and it was like having their own fort right inside our room.

The window in our room. There was a side ledge under the window where the kids liked to play. They could close the curtains and it was like having their own fort right inside our room.

The kids club itself was rather disappointing too.   For Hannah’s age, there was one main room with a little room inside the main room.  In the main room were a couple of craft tables, a TV with Wii games, a heap of duplo, and a few toy car ramps.  There are scheduled activities every half an hour, such as dancing, duplo building, craft, etc, which is great, except all kids in there have to participate.  We’re talking about 3-6 year olds.  Sometimes 3 year olds don’t want to do group dancing, they want to play duplo, or watch their toy cars go down ramps.  I witnessed lots of whingy, unhappy kids when they were told they couldn’t play with the other toys during activity time.

Straight from P&O's website

Straight from P&O’s website

On the other hand, when it was free play time, I saw lots of kids fighting over toys, snatching from each other, pushing, etc., but the kids club employees weren’t really paying attention and didn’t do anything about it.

Daniel playing in Duplo corner.

Daniel playing in Duplo corner.

The other little room inside the big room contained some Playstation consoles, a few books (some with all of their pages missing.  Daniel found a Thomas book, opened it up, and was very upset to find no pages inside for him to look at), and play kitchen stuff.  Most of the time though, that room is shut.  Only during scheduled Playstation time are they allowed in there.  Unless the child is under 3 and with an adult, then we have to go in there when the other kids are doing group stuff because under 3’s are not allowed to participate in group things no matter how much they want to, and we’re told to go in the other room.

I didn’t actually see a kid who knew how to use the Playstations.  Most of them picked up the controllers, mashed a bit, and then lost interest.  We are talking about 3-6’s.  Since when do 3-6’s play Playstation?  According to P&O’s website, there are iPad activities, which would have been more age appropriate, but there were no iPads to be found.

 

The playstation and play kitchen room in Turtle Cove (the 3-6 year old kids club)

The playstation and play kitchen room in Turtle Cove (the 3-6 year old kids club)

There was also a little outdoor area for the kids clubs (with gates to prevent escape), but they would be taken outside for a group activity like mini olympics, and then quickly herded back inside.  They didn’t really do any free play outside even though there were heaps of tricycles, a couple of cubby houses, and a giant connect four game.

Daniel on one of the trikes in the outdoor area of the kids club.

Daniel on one of the trikes in the outdoor area of the kids club.

For the mini olympics, girls were on one team, boys on the other, and they had to get in a sack, hop around some cones, hula hoop 3 times, then hop back.  They loved doing it, but there were about 10 girls and 10 boys, or more, so after their turn, the little ones quickly lost interest and wanted to ride around on the bikes.

They weren’t allowed.  They all got herded back over to watch the olympics instead.  Except Daniel,  he was with me, so we continued playing on the bikes.  He wasn’t supposed to be participating after all, but I waited in line with him and made sure he got a turn, then helped him through the course.  There was another family outside with a kid under 3 playing on a bike too.  Hannah came over to play with us, but she was told to back to the other side, as “she is in the kids club, so she has to stay with the kids club kids.”

I quickly signed her out, and she played bikes with Daniel and me.

One afternoon, the kids club had a “family remote control car race.”

“Since this is a family event, does that mean both Jess and I can come with the kids?” I asked them.

“Yes, you can all come, but you have to sign up.  If at least 2 kids are signed up, the event will take place. If not, it will be cancelled.”

“That’s fine, I have 2 kids right here.”

I signed one of us up with Hannah and the other up with Daniel.  It did say family.  Maybe it was only supposed to be for kids club kids, but whatever.  Apart from a sideways glance, they didn’t say anything.  No one else signed up.

We arrived right on time, but everyone was group dancing.

“No one showed up, so we cancelled it.”  They told me.

I looked at my watch, then at the lady.  Nope, we weren’t late.  Not even 1 minute.

“Er…we’ll do it when they finish this activity.” She said.

After dancing finished, they gave Jess and Hannah a car, and Daniel and me a car.  Hannah’s didn’t work and she had to get another one.  Daniel’s didn’t work if it went 2 feet away from us and he quickly got bored and wanted to manually push it around.  All the other kids tried to steal the cars and/or remotes as they didn’t get any since they didn’t sign up.  No one said anything to them, except for Jess and me.

Some of the kids stood right in front of Hannah’s car so she couldn’t drive it.  Again, no one said anything to them, so it was up to us.

One day, they had face painting in the kids club.  Hannah patiently sat in a little chair behind the girl who was having her face painted at the time.  She was the second quickest to get in the queue.  The face painter took ages painting the first kid’s face.  So long that all the other kids waiting behind Hannah lost interest and went off to play.  Hannah waited on, silently sitting there as the minutes ticked by.  We wanted to meet The Jess for the scheduled deck boules at 4:30 and time was quickly running out.  Hannah had been sitting there 20 minutes by the time the first kid was done.

Instead of happily greeting Hannah and asking her what she’d like on her face though, the lady stood up and walked off.  Another lady came in with an older kid from the kids club next door trailing behind her.  They both sat down and she got to work, leaving Hannah sitting there, still unpainted.

“I’m really sorry sweetie, you’ve been so patient, but we’re running out of time, I don’t think we’ll have time to get your face painted now, so you might as well play for a bit.”  I said to her loudly from across the room.  One of the other ladies got the hint and sat back down again, quickly painting a flower crown on Hannah’s forehead.

As soon as she was finished, we left the kids club and walked to where the deck boules were supposed to be, arriving just in time.  Except no one was there.  No balls were there. Nothing was set up, and no one else was waiting, there was only a ping pong table with a couple of guys in the midst of a game.  Contrary to what the daily schedule told us, deck boules were not happening.

Instead, we let the kids play on the stairs.  Up and down.  Up and down. Sliding on their bottoms, sliding on their tummies, going down in the lift then climbing up the stairs.  We killed nearly an hour with the kids happily playing on the stairs and in the lift.

Hannah and Daniel at the top of a set of stairs.

Hannah and Daniel at the top of a set of stairs.

P&O would probably be fine if you don’t have kids, or if they are older kids, but travelling with anyone under 3, there just isn’t enough for them to do.  Not to mention the beds were the most uncomfortable I’ve slept on in my entire life.

We had fun on the cruise, but there were also a lot of things that were quite disappointing.  I definitely want to do on another cruise, but it will be with a different cruise line.

playing in the window

playing in the window

Part of our room.  We moved one of the ladders to the ledge under the window so the kids could play up there.

Part of our room. We moved one of the ladders to the ledge under the window so the kids could play up there.

Daniel after the lifejacket drill

Daniel after the lifejacket drill

Me and the kids the first night on the ship

Me and the kids the first night on the ship

Hannah at the kids club

Hannah at the kids club

Daniel drew and played iPad during bingo

Daniel drew and played iPad during bingo

Hannah drawing while we waited for bingo to start

Hannah drawing while we waited for bingo to start

playing bingo

playing bingo

Pasta.  Delicious.

Pasta. Delicious.

eating at the restaurant at off the proper menu

eating at the restaurant at off the proper menu

Spaghetti face

Spaghetti face

my salmon.  It was delicious.

my salmon. It was delicious.

Jess eating at the restaurant (as opposed to the buffet)

Jess eating at the restaurant (as opposed to the buffet)

Daniel and Jess watching Frozen from bed

Daniel and Jess watching Frozen from bed

playing on the stairs

playing on the stairs

At kids dinner time (4:30), the tables have colouring in and colouring pencils.

At kids dinner time (4:30), the tables have colouring in and colouring pencils.

kids dinner.  Nothing healthy on the menu.

kids dinner. Nothing healthy on the menu.

Me and Daniel at kids dinner

Me and Daniel at kids dinner

Hannah having dessert

Hannah having dessert

Keeping Daniel busy at dinner.  They already had dinner at kids dinner time.

Keeping Daniel busy at dinner. They already had dinner at kids dinner time.

One night I had a cocktail and Jess had a mocktail

One night I had a cocktail and Jess had a mocktail

It was sunny on Moreton Island for us for about 5 minutes, then it poured for the rest of the day.

It was sunny on Moreton Island for us for about 5 minutes, then it poured for the rest of the day.

Hannah on Moreton island

Hannah on Moreton island

We got a towel animal one day.

We got a towel animal one day.

The captain trying to put his hat on Daniel.  Daniel was not impressed.

The captain trying to put his hat on Daniel. Daniel was not impressed.

The captain came over to us at lunch one day and talked to the kids.  Hannah got to wear his hat.

The captain came over to us at lunch one day and talked to the kids. Hannah got to wear his hat.

Hannah and Daniel loved looking at the colour changing fountain on the ship

Hannah and Daniel loved looking at the colour changing fountain on the ship

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Hannah and Jess with the remote control car at the kids club

Hannah and Jess with the remote control car at the kids club

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Windows are fun to play in

Windows are fun to play in

Mr. Cheeky playing on the ship

Mr. Cheeky playing on the ship

Cruises are tiring.  Hannah rarely naps, but she was so tired she curled up on me and went to sleep.

Cruises are tiring. Hannah rarely naps, but she was so tired she curled up on me and went to sleep.

Hannah and the bear from school at breakfast (they each get a turn taking the bear home for a week.  She got to take it on the cruise)

Hannah and the bear from school at breakfast (they each get a turn taking the bear home for a week. She got to take it on the cruise)

Hannah and on a deck chair

Hannah and on a deck chair

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Wet ‘n Wild Sydney

18 Dec

After waiting two weeks for our season pass armbands that serve as everything from gaining entry to paying for food to identifying particular people in photographs taken by the official photographers, opening day arrived at Wet ‘n Wild Sydney.  Our armbands still haven’t arrived. Instead, we waited in line before the park opened and had to collect and activate new ones.  We thought we’d be waiting in line for hours, since the crowd was predicted to be 20,000 strong on opening day, but my friend Romana, who got there before me, only waited a few minutes.

Since Romana brought Hannah’s best friend Violet, and I brought Hannah (Daniel was at daycare), we only got to experience the kids area and the lazy river.  So if you want to know about how cool the other slides and things are, you’re not going to find it on this post.  Sorry.  One day I will get there sans kids, but that hasn’t happened as yet.

The kids area had plenty of stuff for them to do.  First we came across a vast soft-fall covered water spout area with a downpour bucket and various sprinklers, where they very small kids, as well as older ones, can run around and get soaked without being in a pool of water.  There is also a slide area with one entrance at the bottom that goes either left or right at the top.  To the left are four slides that require tubes.  Two of the four slides only accept single tubes with single riders, who must be under a certain height or they are not allowed on.  Too bad if you have a really tall 8 year old, he won’t be allowed to go down those slides.

The other two slides allow double tubes, and as long as one of the riders is under the stick height, the other rider can be an older child or an adult. I took Hannah down the double tube slides.  Since she is small, I had to put my legs over half the hole area of her side to make sure she didn’t fall in.  This meant that I had to sit with my legs open, so I’m hoping that my swimmers stayed where they were supposed to whilst I got on the tube, otherwise the slide attendant would be getting an eyeful.  Note to self, wear shorts next time.  I did wear a skirt over my bikini bottoms, but that was clearly not helpful when laying on a tube with my legs spread.

At the bottom of the slides, a lifeguard was there to pull us to the steps and help Hannah get out, which was quite useful.  The morning slide attendants at the top of the slides let me take the GoPro down with me, saying that since it has a wrist strap, it was ok because there wasn’t any danger of it falling in.  The afternoon attendants, however, made me leave it at the top and come back for it.

To left were the body slides – the slides you go down with no tubes or anything else.  Unfortunately, they don’t allow anyone over a certain height to go down them at all, even if you are accompanying a 2 year old.  That was fine for us, since our girls are 4.  Hannah and Violet can walk up to the slides themselves, choose which slide they like, and then let the attendant tell them when to go while we wait at the bottom of their chosen slide to make sure they get out ok.

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Some of the slides have a bit of water at the bottom, so an adult really needs to be there to make sure there are no drowning or choking on water incidents. You can also see the top of the slides and the line area from the bottom, which means sending a 4 year old up there by themselves is actually doable. It also means that there are a bunch of kids with no parents in the lines which equates to chaos, and cutting in line.  There are only two attendants to 6 slides, so if your child isn’t game enough to speak up when their chosen slide is called, they could be waiting quite a while.

There is no way that I could bring Daniel there by myself.  He would need me to take him up to the top of the slides (the smaller ones without water at the bottom, since adults are not allowed to go on the slightly bigger ones with the kids), and to wait in line with him, but he’d also need me to be there at the bottom so he didn’t get out and run off somewhere, or get upset that I wasn’t waiting there for him. There isn’t enough time to put a child on the slide and run then run down to meet him/her at the bottom, so it is impossible to take a small child to Wet ‘n Wild on your own.

The most ridiculous thing about Wet ‘n Wild is not the $16 burgers, although they are clearly a rip off, but the fact that parents can’t go down water slides in the kids area with their small children.

Speaking of $16 burgers, outside food isn’t allowed (although I brought my own snacks in and no one said anything. Shhh….), and all the food is ridiculously expensive.  Burgers and fries for $16, a hot dog for $6.  There aren’t many choices either.  Don’t forget to bring your own water as there are no water fountains (that we found anyway), and one bottle of water is $4.50.

We stayed at Wet ‘n Wild for the majority of the day, and we all had a great time, especially since the lines were incredibly short and there weren’t many people around (so much for that 20,000…).  We already have another trip planned, and many more after that 🙂  I’m definitely glad we purchased gold season passes.

If you enjoyed reading this, please vote for my blog. All you have to do is click the link below. That’s it… Clicking the link brings you to the Top Mommy Blogs home page. You don’t have to do anything else. Any clicks from my site to theirs is a vote.  THANKS! Vote for me @ Top Mommy Blogs - Mom Blog Directory Like my blog? ‘Like’ it on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Mommy-Adventures/203964682967827?ref=tn_tnmn Pin It You officially have my permission to pin this (as long as it links back to my site).  Just don’t act like you wrote it. Because you didn’t…. Copyright 2013 Sheri Thomson The Best Mom Blogs

Minnesota

27 Sep

I’m back.  Actually, I’ve been back for 3 days now, but the first day I was so jet lagged that just trying to stay awake was difficult, and the other two days I was busy playing with the kids and catching up on house stuff and university work.

Hannah had all these plans of fun things to do with Aaron while I was away, but she was sick almost the entire time.  The first night I arrived and FaceTimed (video chat on the iPhone) with them, I could tell just by looking that she wasn’t well.  She only ended up being able to do one thing from her list.  Then when she started feeling better, Aaron got sick.  And then when he started feeling better, Daniel got sick.  Someone was sick the whole time I was gone.

Lucky for me, I didn’t get sick.  I was able to savour every moment there.  I sat at the breakfast bar in Jennifer’s house when I ate my breakfast, reading something or watching something on my iPad whilst enjoying a whole cup of tea.  Jennifer and I were able to take our time when we went shopping and not have to worry about kids running off, having tantrums, or anything of the like.  We got to hang out, talk, watch movies, and make wedding decorations  without interruption.

But I missed them so much.  I wanted to reach through the phone and give them a cuddle every time I saw them.

I had a great time in Minnesota, catching up with Jennifer, whom I haven’t seen in almost 5 years, and seeing my mom and dad, grandma and grandpa, two of my aunts, and even Jennifer’s dad, whom I haven’t seen since I was about 12 years old.

Jennifer’s wedding was absolutely beautiful.  Her dress was the probably the prettiest wedding dress I’ve ever seen, and the reception looked stunning, but more importantly, was very fun.  I danced for about 4 hours and clocked up over 20,000 steps on my fitbit, the most I’ve ever done in a single day.

Now I need to get over my jet lag, catch up on my uni work, finish unpacking and try to make a whole raised garden bed before it’s too late for spring planting.  I don’t think that last one will happen in time, but I can hope.

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Oh, and if you’re like me, and get constipated when you’re travelling, or away from home, I have found the cure!  On my third day over there, I went for a morning run with Jennifer.  usually my short runs are at least 3 kilometers, but I had to walk and squeeze after only 1k so I didn’t poop myself.  I went for another run the next morning and from there on out, I was fine.

If you enjoyed reading this, please vote for my blog. All you have to do is click the link below. That’s it… Clicking the link brings you to the Top Mommy Blogs home page. You don’t have to do anything else. Any clicks from my site to theirs is a vote.  THANKS!
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The Masterchef

28 Jun

Eagerly, I thrust my hand in the air.  Despite there being over 300 people in the room, only a few of us had our hands up, volunteering to be in the next Masterchef challenge.  Two challenges had already played out.  This was my last opportunity to be chosen as a challenge participant.

My church was packed out for The Masterchef event with Kate Bracks

My church was packed out for The Masterchef event with Kate Bracks

The first challenge was won by the mother of one of the night’s comedic hosts, for her stellar efforts in the art of mashed potato.

“It’s a good thing you’re in politics.” Kate Bracks, winner of Masterchef Australia 2011, told contestant number two, a local politician and wife of this area’s mayor, after tasting her pitiful rendition of mashed potato.

With a giant grin plastered on my face, I walked up to the stage.

“The last challenge is…. A taste test!” The other comedic host told everyone as I was on my way up to the stage.

Part of me wanted to run back to my seat, just in case the taste test involved red meat. Or beans. Or brussel sprouts.  Or brains.  Or many things really.  I’m picky, remember?

But the other part didn’t care.  I love being on stage no matter what horrible challenge I’d be faced with, and no matter how much my legs shake with nerves.

“You’ll be tasting minestroni.”  In true Masterchef style, three contestants, me, the youth minister of the church I attend, and Kate Bracks herself, took it in turns to name the ingredients of the soup, with elimination for an incorrect answer, until there was just one person left.

Uh-oh, I don’t even like soup.  Or beans.  Or whatever questionable meat lurks in that soup.

I walked over to the giant bowl of soup, eyeing it off whilst stirring.

Not tasting the minestroni soup

Not tasting the minestroni soup

I could clearly see some of the ingredients of the soup without the need to use taste to discern everything the soup contained.

The three of us took turns a few times until Craig said basil.

“Nope, that’s not on the ingredients list.” One of the hosts said.

“Hmmm…I can definitely taste basil in there.” Kate Bracks told everyone.

“The correct answer was pesto.”

There is definitely basil in pesto, but if pesto as a whole was put in the soup, rather than all the parts, then basil would be incorrect, right? I mean if you put chocolate chips in a desert, you wouldn’t say you put cocoa solids and whatever else is in chocolate chips, you’d just say chocolate chips.  It was definitely a controversial elimination, but that just left Kate Bracks, and little old me.  Did I mention she won Masterchef?

Back and forth we went.  Still, I didn’t taste.  I’ve watched enough Masterchef to know what sort of cheeky ingredients not to forget about.  Salt for example.  And stock.  And pepper.

We got down to the last 4 ingredients.  The hosts gave me a hint.  They gave Kate a hint.  Then back to me. I had no idea what to say.

Trying to figure out what's in the soup

Trying to figure out what’s in the soup

“A patch where it’s said babies grow.” One of the hosts said for my hint.  Or something to that effect.  I can’t remember the exact phrase.

I didn’t even think.  Immediately, I blurted out “PUMPKIN!” excitedly.  After my verbal diarrhoea, I knew I was wrong.  I should have known better, Cabbage Patch Dolls were my favourite toys growing up.  Why did I say pumpkin?  Oh, that’s right, because every time I go to the plaza, I walk past a shop full of beautiful kids clothes that would look fantastic on my little monkeys.  If I could justify spending $50 on one piece of kids clothing.  Needless to say, we don’t own any of the cute clothes from Pumpkin Patch.  Seems Pumpkin Patch is ingrained in my brain though.  Stupid expensive clothing store!

Kate Bracks was absolutely lovely.  She is such a funny, nice, down to earth, inspiring person, and I’m so glad I had the chance to do a challenge with her.  It was so much fun.

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Despite what it may look like, Kate Bracks was not trying to grab my butt

She also gave a cooking demonstration using camp stove on the church stage where she almost lost her eyebrows to a fireball.

I got my Sweet Life cookbook signed, and Kate said she liked my hot pink running shoes.  They are pretty awesome.

Kate Bracks and me

Kate Bracks and me

Not only was The Masterchef a fantastic, fun night, but the proceeds are benefitting local charities that feed the needy, and attendees brought grocery items for the needy as well.

A special thank you to Garden Gourmet, who answered my email and supplied recipe cards to the goody bags (Unlike all of the other companies I’ve worked with and emailed, who didn’t bother emailing me back)  Oh yes, attendees got goody bags.  I do like me a goody bag.

If you enjoyed reading this, please vote for my blog. All you have to do is click the link below. That’s it… Clicking the link brings you to the Top Mommy Blogs home page. You don’t have to do anything else. Any clicks from my site to theirs is a vote.  THANKS!
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