Sunday, October 20, 2013

Homes Tour

Showing and designing homes is ingrained in my blood, it is one of the reasons I became a real estate agent. I grew up in a town full of Civil War history, my family has built/renovated homes, and I love looking at houses. When I was about to graduate college I was scared to death, one day I looked at my husband (we got married a year before I graduated) and asked him what I should do after college. At that time I didn't have a clue, my main reason for going to college was to have a back up plan if something was to happen to him, I really wanted to be a stay at home mom. At this time though we didn't have the finances for that nor kids. Anyway it was the first year that I was asked to volunteer showing homes from the Civil War era and loved it. Dressing up, learning about the house the history and the updates that had or were being done.

I love getting my hair done by my sister, yes I am working at the same time.
My boys were excited to see me and thought I looked like a princess, made me feel good even though I didn't have make up on.
Here I am 8 years later still volunteering for the homes tour and now a real estate agent as well as a full time mom. And when not doing that we get to live the remodeling dream, that is a little sarcastic.

This year we showed the Tilly House, this is a family affair. My grandmother, mother, sister, cousin(sister) and her husband are all volunteers.

This is the first year my sister is back so she decided to watch my boys and do our hair. The kids love her! Can't wait to have her back next year though.

Oh and this year my "niece" joined in the fun, a few years ago my youngest held this roll but he is a little to active now.
Giving a tour through the Blue room and Servants Quarters
They enclosed the back porch and stairwell to make the kitchen
Dining Room
Billiards Room
My mom and I would stand on the veranda and wave as people drove by
Yellow Room
My mother had the yellow room
Blue Room

Servant's room, they added they bay window later so the room was only to the edge of the bed originally

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Halloween Costumes

I am a little sad my boys wanted to go more simple this year and be pirates. Yes I could have gone overboard and made them captains or done something more but at the same time if they were happy doing what they did on the ship then I will be happy too. But I thought I would share some of their costumes from the last few years...

Lobster! The cutest lobster I have ever seen

Stormy didn't know what to think of this creature
Dinosaur/Dragon We let him pick out the costume and he often changed which one he was depending on the person asking
 We met up with friends at the mall for their trick or treating. Unfortunately our mall has since stopped having the trick or treat night.
 Ghost, I worked hard on this costume but at last minute he decided not to wear the sheet. Luckily his face was painted and his clothes went well for still being either a ghost or a mime.

 Now with 2 kids we wanted to do more of a family theme, until my husband chicken out last minute ;) This was the point I really started having fun dressing the kids up. Here my oldest is Russel from the movie "UP"
 The youngest was one of Kevin's baby birds you see at the end of the movie.
 Not sure what happened to his eye but by this point he was very mobile and loved getting into the bottom drawer of the oven.
 Russel, Kevin (me), and baby he also carried a tennis ball with him. I also learned that I am allergic to the adhesive used for fake eye lashes. By the end I could barely see.
 We got daddy to wear the dog ears for this picture but that was as far as he would go...
 Last year was one of my favorites. We came up with the idea while walking through Target and just joking. My oldest wanted to be a mummy so we were trying to think of ideas for the younger when we laughed about him being a pyramid. For the next 2 months that is all my oldest wanted to be...
So we made his little brother the mummy. Downtown they have trick-or-treating the Friday before Halloween and they were the talk of the district. There are a few things I would do differently to make the pyramid but for the most part I was very pleased with the outcome.

Looking back through all these pictures especially the last 2 years makes me very happy that I get a break this year. especially with just a week left before Downtown Trick-or-Treating.

Hope you enjoy and any questions just ask.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

No slowing down

People usually make the comment that they need a vacation to recover from their vacation and we are no different except for the fact that instead we come home and jump into another home remodeling project. In April it was the kitchen (almost finished, waiting on glass for the cabinet and the last piece of crown that was missing) this time our basement.
I went through 2 years of photos and couldn't find a picture when we had furniture in here
 When we bought our house this was the most updated section but it had been at least 8 years since it was done so it needed to be refreshed. The carpet was disgusting even before we bought it but we were able to live with it and the paint we liked until we repainted and now it just makes the space stand out so much more. Doesn't seem so dark and dreary.
 We were able to fit most of our furniture in the playroom, the kids had a blast with it. The more fragile things (tv, electronics, treadmill) all went in our laundry/storage room.
Never go into a home especially a previously owned home without expecting a few surprises. One of ours was unexplained settling...until one day we were changing out a light in the basement and realized they had cut out a major support post. So we replaced it and added another. The above pictures are us concealing them again.
My youngest wanted to help so bad but our rule was that they couldn't go where carpet had been pulled up. I had a carpet staple fishhook in my heal twice the night before I left for college.
Although we did make an exception so they could paint a little but there was still carpet on one section of the floor. 

 We painted the walls a lighter shade of green stripped with an off white. The laser level made this go much faster. We also learned a lot on how to choose colors when using the same color in different shades. It took awhile to come up with how we wanted to paint and what colors to use.

We then added the darker green stripe. I think it really helped dress it up.

 Back to ripping up carpet on the stairs. It wasn't terrible except the fact of having to pull out anywhere between 20-100 staples in each stair. I don't know what I would have done without needle-nose pliers. Oh and the fact that we got a call right before I started doing this saying they would be here to install the carpet bright and early the next day. We weren't expecting it for another 4-7 days. So while my husband was at work I made progress on both sets of stairs.

Since we didn't have much time to decide what to do with the stairs before the carpet came we decided to paint the exposed parts white. Since the carpet has been installed we have changed our minds and the top of the steps will be painted ebony leaving the underside white. We also have a new railing but since none of that is done yet I'll wait on revealing.

The finished room before furniture...We are still playing around with everything trying to find the right spot and pictures to hang on the wall. I am thinking about more of a scenic black and white but what are your thoughts?

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Part 5 - Pirates

Sorry it has been a few more days than I wanted but my house was showing severe lack in attention.

Wednesday was the day we hit Cozumel! We had been informed by friends it was very touristy and what to stay away from and what were good buys there. We set off and of course the first thing we are given when we step on land is a treasure map. My kids were thrilled. Luckily it was only 4 or 5 stores but what we weren't expecting is to be having people at every shop (100's) even just those in the middle of the street trying to get your attention. It was actually a relief to stop in those other stores because they would just grab the treasure (candy or toy) and let us be on our way.

The night before we had went to a cooking class (by accident) in the Oceaneer's club where we made cookies and saw their vanilla was very thick and strong. The cookies were fantastic (we didn't actually eat the ones we made) and assumed by all the talk it was Mexican vanilla. Later we learned they make their own but the Mexican vanilla is very good as well. Anyway we were on the search for the store that was recommended to us. Very important these places don't have bathrooms my 2 year old had to go and the lady sent us to 3 different places that were all closed. We also discovered they were bars...

We headed back to the ship walking on the opposite side of the street and had a more peaceful walk. After lunch on the ship we went to the pool and just hung around knowing it was going to be a big night we wanted to get the boys to fall asleep. So I went for a run and when they were still not asleep decided to find the gym and go to a free Pilates class. This is one area I was surprised by because they didn't have a separate room for classes and there wasn't much room. There were only 7 of us including the instructor and yet we were in the way of the weights and trying to avoid hitting each other.

Still no naps for the boys so we washed up and started getting dressed for pirate night. This is a big night everyone looks forward to on the ship.

We headed to the DLounge for a pirate game show (our team won), even with all the noise my youngest fell asleep.

We took a picture with Jake from "The Neverland Pirates" (little one was still sleeping) and enjoyed a show before dinner.

There are shows everywhere especially the main deck where after dinner Jack Sparrow repelled from the top of the funnel.

By the end of the night fireworks! Because of almost every passenger being on levels 11 and above there wasn't much room or a good place to see the show even though it was on the big screen above the pools. BUT we did have an excellent location for the fireworks, in fact we were so close it was almost to bright to watch. The boys loved it and danced as we waited for everyone to clear out so we could head back to our room for much needed sleep.

Thursday - Day at Sea
We kept the day light and fun, let the boys sleep in and instead of going to get breakfast my husband went to Cabanas and brought it to us.
You hold a special card in front of designated pictures and a video will display with what to do to earn the next clue.
 We were sent to Pepe's door and the call board for more clues.
We finished up doing the detective mysteries, my boys loved it and they were younger than the recommended age. Crafts in the prelude after lunch, you could tell some hadn't had a nap and it wasn't the kids. The craft was ornaments and adults as well as children were making them. We were early and there were no ornaments left because groups of 2 were taking multiples to do although we were told they were going to go find more supplies. So as we were waiting a woman who already had 2 starts complaining in front of her daughter how horrible it was they ran out and they didn't get to do more. She made a huge scene as my family stood their in silence watching her waiting for them to return to find out they didn't have anymore globes so they brought us ceramic ornaments from the gift shop, this unfortunately made the woman even angrier when she was told that she already had the other ornaments and not allowed to have another. It is times like these that make me cringe but also can take a moment to teach the kids the examples of what not to do but that sometimes even adults forget.
They had several tile mosaics around

Another tile mosaic
We tried to hit everything that was available to us on the ship like golfing although busy and windy it was still fun watching the boys. Discovering the delicious treats (soft pretzels stuffed with cream cheese, topped with cinnamon sugar, stuffed with cheddar) offered in the afternoon for a limited amount of time. The best time to go swimming or riding the auqaduck is during the opposite time for your dinner. We went about 5:30 and had the entire pool and auqaduck to ourselves. My oldest rode it 7 times in one night, the only reason he stopped was because he had to ride with an adult and we were tired of running up the stairs well and he wanted to swim with his brother since he couldn't ride. The kids also spent time at the club giving us time to get a head start on packing. 
For dinner it was semi formal in the Royal Court. Little one fell asleep as we entered but ate as he slept. He will not pass up food and will sleep eat before skipping it. Luckily he did wake up by main course but while he slept Karol brought an extra chair for him to stretch out on and a table cloth to use as a blanket. Again Karol and Herry were awesome! Herry brought husband (I need to come up with nicknames) his tuna steak and a lobster tail since he wan't positive if he would like either one more. Both were delicious but he really liked the tuna steak. I had fettuccine which was delicious but by this point I was extremely tired of cutting my meat off the bone. I know lazy but considering I also prep both of my boys foods and feed the youngest to avoid messes I didn't like messing with mine. 

Friday - Castaway Cay 
One of my favorite days. We decided to have breakfast in our room again because I had to get everything together so the guys would be able to get on the island with everything and I wouldn't have to come back to change. I had read about the 5k but didn't know much about it so last minute I decided to go ahead and join. The guys decided to meet me later. Runners are first to be released, we had about 47 runners and normally they have over 120. Families are allowed to exit with runners but I didn't realize this until we were heading out, it worked out well though as mine got us a good spot on the beach with an umbrella. (Thanks to Karol for telling us to be the first island to get this spot) They played while I ran in the very hot and humid weather. Although not as humid as it was the next week in Missouri it was still pretty sticky. My son made me promise not to come in last which I succeeded, I came in the exact same place as I finished. They don't tell us what place or keep track of our time, it really is just for fun but I kept track of anyone who passed me and how many I passed. They also have a clock to let you know what time you finished in 30:30, not horrible but not the time I was hoping for. They gave us a "medal" plastic Mickey head on a ribbon for finishing and the option to buy a shirt at the gift shop saying we ran it.
I had to find my family, the phones from our room worked on the island which was nice. As I was on the phone trying to find them the sweat poured into my eyes with sunblock and I couldn't see anything...Glad I was out of the way as I felt like I was standing in the middle of everyone almost in tears from the burn. I found my guys tried to regain my composure and breath before heading to the bathrooms to change. Tip: there is no changing area in the bathrooms so you have to change in a stall, make sure to pick a big one as the little well you try changing from sweaty clothing into a bathing suit and you will know what I mean. 

We had a great time even though it was VERY busy. We had to keep close watch on the boys because people on rafts and flotation devices were not watching and just running over people. There were fish swimming along side us dodging people, very impressive not being caught or even rubbing up against a person. Good thing for spray grounds, we got tired of the crowd during the morning and headed over to wash off and let the boys play before getting lunch. They had a blast and we were able to relax some from the rush of people even lunch wasn't as busy but maybe because we were one of the first in line. The food was a little dry but overall good and plenty of options.

Knowing it was our last day before heading home we hit the beach one more time. This time it wasn't as crowded. I think many went for lunch and the ones using floats were further out. It was a much more pleasant experience. We were able to walk almost to the rope (about 50 yards) and still able to touch, by then my oldest was just to short. 

Seagulls began to swarm once they noticed the food left on benches. I think someone didn't watch Finding Nemo to know Seagulls are always hungry. One more trip to the spray grounds for good measure, and we found where all the people went. We looked through some shops before heading back to the ship. Little one was on my back riding when he fell asleep, I have a feeling Captain Hook didn't see him because as he was heading onto the ship he shoved me out of the way (playfully) only since little was sleeping and not holding on I lost balance, just happy I was one step in the ship so I hit a wall instead of the railing. 

After the kids woke up we headed to the shops so they could pick out a souvenir. I really thought they would pick something Mickey related but no the older picked Perry the Platypus as a spy so of course the younger wanted him too so he ended up getting "undercover" Perry. They begged to go to the club once more, perfect time to finish up the packing and go looking at the photo gallery. 

 There were so many good pictures of us, we only had 18 taken professionally but they are a bit pricey. We chose 3 we really liked and thought we could put up when we got home (before we decided to remodel the basement next blog) but ran out of time getting them. Our youngest had requested to be picked up, he was starting to feel a bit homesick now. I went and he was holding the hand of one of the helpers watching his brother play. They said he was doing good but just asked if he could go home and started holding her hand.

It was finally setting in that we were going home when we saw all our luggage packed up and ready to be put outside the door. One last dinner at the Animator's Palate with our favorite servers and girls next to us. And with that one last dinner came a very cool show. We drew people and they came to life on the screen dancing. If I can figure out how to load it I will get it up here. 

The food was interesting, we didn't get a choice for appetizer but it consisted of a sampler smoked prosciutto, grilled shrimp, raw tuna. The soup course was Corn Chowder, Sweet Corn Bread, and Caramelized Popcorn. It was on the sweeter side but I liked it, my husband thought it was just ok. 

I can't remember the main course but that could be because that is when the show was going on or we were catching up with the girls. 

 Desert though was my favorite. The boys decorated their own cupcakes, my husband had a sampler, and I had baked Alaska. I wish I could get another helping.

 It was close to 10 when we left, we said most of our goodbyes that night knowing in the morning would be rushed but we would see the girls and Herry and Karol for breakfast. We hurried back to our room to change and set out our luggage before drifting off for our last night on the ship.

Saturday was a whirlwind. Getting up and ready double checking to have everything and making it breakfast at Animator's Palate by 8am, we had to be off the ship by 9am. One last goodbye to everyone, one last time getting to learn new things about those we had spent the week with giving us a deeper appreciation for what they do. (They work for 6-12months at a time, when do they see their families?) Checkout was pretty easy and painless. Our luggage was exactly where they said it was, we did have a damaged buckle but considering our bags are 9 years old they have been through a lot. We didn't have any questionable items that we bought so customs was simple and our ride was waiting for us as soon as we exited.

Our goal was to be on the road by 11 and we beat that by almost 2 hours. Probably a good thing too because pancakes and our youngest don't go well together on long car rides and we had to stop at a Walmart for bathroom break. We picked up lunch at the same time before getting on the road. The decision to skip staying with friends and family on the way back was made last minute but worth getting home quickly. We stopped in Ringgold, GA to grab dinner at what looked like a brand new pizza hut. It quickly turned into a history lesson with the kids as we saw pictures of why it was recently built. April 27, 2011 this area had been hit by an F4 tornado. As we walked outside you could still see where gas stations and signs once stood. Again a very humbling experience to see the pictures and be standing right there answering what questions you can from a 5 year old. We stopped for the night in Paducah and attended services in Illinois before making the rest of the trip home.

No matter old or young, kids or not if you are thinking about a cruise I would recommend Disney. Their customer service is far superior.