Category Archives: brandi

My Most Used Words in FB


Who doesn’t do those “who’s your best friend/soul mate / person can’t live without you / where will you be in 10 years” question apps on Facebook?  I know there’s some controversy behind them because they can potentially steal your identity, but I highly doubt that will happen so I’m known for playing along!

So when Brandi posted her “My Most Used Words on FB” I was eager to see what mine looked like….

I think most of us know I tend to be egotistical, so I don’t think anyone (myself included) was all to surprised to see my “biggest” – aka most often used word was I’m!  It’s well know that “I’m” all about me!  Hehe!

My other top 10 words appear to be, according to the biggest words, are:

  1. I’m
  2. Day
  3. Kids
  4. Happy
  5. Today
  6. Baby
  7. Just
  8. One
  9. Birthday
  10. Fabulous

So I guess that means my best Facebook status update would be:

I’m happy and fabulous today due to not just one birthday for the baby, but also a day for the kids!

Hehe!  Fun made up post!

What was your “My Most Used Words in FB”?!

Happy Wednesday Friends!

The Long Journey Home


I’ve been home for almost 24 hours now and am trying to readjust to a time zone that’s 9 hours behind what I’m used to.  However, the previous 24 hours were extremely long and tiring as we journeyed from Rome to Seattle. 


The morning started out pretty early, we had to be up, packed and in the Moderno Restaurant by 8:30am to meet Bruno who would help us with debarkation and loading our minibus.  We all had one last breakfast in The Haven, said goodbye to our towel animal friends who had kept us company for 21 days and took a couple last pictures.

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Rome Airport

After the 1.5 hour drive from the boat, we arrived at the airport which is very odd.  Well, maybe not the airport but the check-in flow.

We walked in and went up to a counter that we assumed was the check-in counter (we had already checked in online, but apparently had to do it again at the airport).  There they looked at our passports and asked us the standard questions: have your bags been in your possession since you packed them? Did anyone ask you to take something for them?  Etc.  Once we passed that test we were handed a clear plastic bag and told to put any and all cameras and electronics in the bags.  This may seem like a simple endeavor but for me I had my iPad, computer, cell phone, camera, extra lens, power cords and chargers.  By the time I got everything bagged up and closed all my luggage I had only voiced my complaints a couple of times I had a plastic bag that was ready to rip.  I was hoping that once I went around the corner security would be the next step.  Wrong.

Once around the corner we got into another long line to check our baggage.  This time we had to scan all our passports, weigh our luggage and officially get checked in.  (What the heck was the first check?!)  By the time we made it through this line my clear bag was closer to ripping but we weren’t done yet.

My mom had bought a ring tax-free (??) that needed to be declared, so we had to go to the customs office to get something signed.  One step closer to my bag ripping.

FINALLY we made it to security and could put all the electronics away before they went crashing to the ground.

It wasn’t long before we boarded our plane that would take us to JFK in New York City.


The 8.5 hour flight from Rome to JFK was great and shockingly the time flew.  I watched three movies, a couple of television shows and before I knew it we were landing in New York.

JFK Airport

This is where the fun started as we had about an hour to make our connecting flight.

Grandma needed a wheelchair to get from gate to gate so we got a personal escort, who ended up becoming a lifesaver in helping us make our connecting flight because the customs process at JFK was a long nightmare.

We started by scanning our passports and receiving a receipt, standing in line and going through customs.  Then we had to go claim our luggage and drag it 10 feet to another line which was super long.  At that point Grandma’s wheelchair pusher took matters into his own hands and cut through the HUGE customs #2 line.  All eight of us were running behind him to not get lost or stuck in the line.  Had we waited in line, like we should have, it would have been at least a 30 minute wait, time that we didn’t have. 

We made it through customs line #2 and now had to rechecked our luggage.  At this point we had about 20 minutes until our flight began boarding.  Again, Mr. Wheelchair Pusher pushed us to the front of the line and assisted us in the rechecking process.  He then told us we needed to keep-up as we would be moving extremely quickly to make our flight, especially because we still needed to go through security…again.

This time we didn’t cut to the front of the line, but we went through the employee and VIP line and made our way to the security machines (what are they called anyway?).  Once again we emptied our pockets and bags of electronics & liquids, took off shoes, coats, and waited for our turn to go in the machine.  I apparently was in a rush because I stepped into the machine and immediately through my arms over my head so I could be scanned.  I must have startled the TSA agent because he laughed and said “this looks way to natural for you”.  Hmmm….

We made it to the gate to find out that the arriving plane was delayed.  So in the end we ran for nothing!  Oh well, it was nice to have a chance to use the bathroom and get water before boarding our flight to Seattle.

Flight to Seattle

We were hoping that the 5.5 hour flight to Seattle would be as smooth as the transcontinental one we just got off of, but no such luck.  This plane was much smaller, with far less leg room making it really hard to get comfortable.  To make things worse we were exhausted as it was now well past midnight in Rome. 

About two hours into the flight we hit major turbulence and were stuck in our seats for the remainder of the flight.  I’d never felt turbulence this bad before, the captain even made the flight attendants to buckle up for more than an hour.  It was crazy bumpy.  At first it was fun, but after awhile I began to get anxious and suddenly it wasn’t that much fun anymore.  I was happy when it stopped and we began to fly normally again.

We landed in Seattle about 10:30pm (7:30am Rome).

Leaving SeaTac

It didn’t take us long to collect ALL of our bags and make it down to ground transportation to meet the van that would bring us back to Duvall.  However, the driver was NOT prepared for the amount of luggage we had with us.  He loaded up the van and then realized he only had half the bags.  He panicked and called his supervisor to tell her it wouldn’t all fit in the van.  We calmly told him that we had the same size van and amount of luggage when we headed to the airport and that it all fit.  He wasn’t so sure and when his supervisor came over she laughed at him and told him….”Well, this looks like you have some work to do.  Pretend it’s Jenga or Tetris and MAKE THE LUGGAGE FIT!!”  He didn’t seem to like that answer, but with the help of my mom and dad (who actually loaded most of it) we headed home.


We got home about midnight and it was a mad rush for a shower and to find something to eat.  By about 1am we were winding down, but still pretty well wired however, by the time my head hit the pillow I was out.

Today was LONG.  I woke up about 7am (early for me) and was wide awake.  By about 1pm I was soooooooo tired, but had to stay awake so I can sleep tonight and hopefully reacclumate to the time.  Right now it’s 9:30pm, I did it!!  Now it’s time to go to bed!!  GOOD NIGHT WORLD!!

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Capri & Anacapri


When we went to Naples a week or so ago my friend Keri Smith said that if I ever went back to go to the chair lift in Anacapri.  I kept that in the back of my mind, but figured I’d never go back.  Little did I know that on the second cruise and the last day we’d be going back!  As soon as I realized it we were going back I went to work researching how to get there.  My entire family was against me,

You’ll never have enough time to go.”

“It’ll be to expensive.”

“Nobody wants to go, why do you?”

I just smiled at them and continued with my research.  After working with our concierge, I learned how to get there (ferry boat and then bus ride) and about how much, roughly 50 euros.  Once I had the information my mom, Brandi and Alex quickly got on board.  The rest of the group was too scared to ride the chairlift to the top of the mountain. Wimps.


We had no problem getting to the chairlift, it was the return trip that was more of a problem. 

We hopped right back on the bus and headed back toward Capri and these buses are full.  I mean, PACKED.  They stop loading the bus when the next person to get on decides its to full to climb on.  On the way back we got on mid-way through the line and I got shoved near the door.  It wasn’t that big of a deal until we got to the first stop and my arm caught in the door and got squished.  Oh.My.Gosh did it hurt.  The entire bus was yelling, “CLOSE THE DOOR HER ARM IS STUCK” in several languages but the driver either didn’t hear or didn’t care.  Luckily the door finally closed and I was able to get my arm out.

Not to long after my arm squishing the bus stopped again and the driver announced “Finished” and everyone got off the bus.  The four of us looked at each other and then down the cliff to the water below and new were NOT where we wanted to be.  It turns out that we got on the wrong bus and ended up in the actual town of Capri and not the marina area we were looking for.  It took us a few minutes to figure out where we were and how to get back to the marina to catch the ferry back to our cruise ship.  It didn’t take long before we were back on the bus heading down the hill.

Keri was right and this was an amazing place to visit.  Of all the beautiful stops along our Mediterranean Cruise I have to say this was the most beautiful.  I’d go back to Capri and Anacapri in a heartbeat.

Tonight is our last night on board.  Our bags are packed and are in the process of being picked up and prepped for disembarkation tomorrow morning.  It’s crazy to believe that are 24 day Mediterranean adventure is coming to an end and we’ll be home soon.  Time definitely flew and we definitely had a great time.

Next time I check-in I’ll be home.  Am I ready?  Yes and no.  Twelve hours ago I would have said no way when I was unpacked and in vacation mode; now that I am almost packed, my cupboard (the nickname of my bedroom) is bare and we’re talking flights home I’m beginning to be ready. 

Tomorrow morning we’ll disembark the Norwegian Jade about 8:30am and head the the Rome airport where will board a Delta flight to JFK and then onto Seattle.  Our journey home will begin at 8:30am in Rome (11:30pm on Friday in Seattle) and we will be home roughly 24 hours later as we land in Seattle about 11:30pm.  Tomorrow will be a LONG day, but I’m hopeful that both flights will have power plugs so we can keep our electronic devices charged and thanks to movies the time will fly.  Tomorrow at this time we’ll be well on our way home.

I’ll see you back in Seattle.

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At Sea, Again


As I write this I *think* we’re docked in Naples, Italy.  I didn’t realize we were arriving tonight, but we stopped moving and I heard murmuring from others saying we were.  Who knew!

Today was another laid back day.  Slept in (and we gained an hour, wahooo!) and then another typical day.  We did get family pictures taken before dinner and then visited the bridge viewing area to see what the captain does.




Tomorrow (well I guess tonight too) we’re back in Naples for our second visit and going to Capri followed by going back to pack. Sad day, vacation is just about over. 

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Istanbul, Turkey – Day 1


We arrived in Istanbul, Turkey about 1pm today so the day started out pretty lazy which was good because I stayed up way to late last night.  After going to the show in the Stardust Theater, then watching one movie with Brandi, I watched a second one on my own and then read for an hour, it was after 2am when I finally fell asleep. 

Once we finally arrived my dad, mom, Brandi, Alex and I took off to explore near the marina.  We have a big excursion tomorrow to the Grand Bazaar and the Blue Mosque so we just decided to walk around today.  In most of the ports we’ve been in right outside the terminal is a nice shopping district, here in Istanbul not so much.  Before we left the terminal we had to pass through two security checkpoints where they validated our cruise cards.  My mom couldn’t pass through the second set of turnstiles so she had to go back to the ship and get a new card.  She was able to catch up with us later, however we were on our way back.

Once outside of the terminal we turned left and quickly realized there was really nothing that direction and found ourselves walking down what was similar to Hwy 99.  We walked a little further and finally turned back.

After we made it back to the terminal we went the other direction and came across a park.  This was better than our Hwy 99 walking, but there still was nothing open or anything to really look at.  We took a couple of photos and continued on.



A little bit farther down the park two little girls approached us asking for money; this really broke my heart.  They wouldn’t leave my dad alone and kept asking.  It wasn’t long before my dad took out off running with the girls right behind him, and they started playing tag. It was hilarious.  My dad would sprint forward, the girls would follow and then he’d reverse and run the other direction.  They did this for a few minutes and definitely was the highlight of today’s outing!




After our walk in the park, or in my dad’s case his run through the park we headed back to the ship.  Along the way we passed a man selling pretzels and my dad wanted to buy one.  The pretzel was 1 Turkish Lira, but all my dad had was Euros.  He tried to pay 2 Euro’s, which was twice the amount it was but the guy still said ‘no’.  Sorry dad, no pretzel for you today.



Tonight we stay all night in Istanbul.  I was wrong (shocking I know), but we stay docked all night and thus, all the stores on board, plus the casino are closed until we leave tomorrow night.  With nothing much going on, on board, our family got out the cards and anti’ed up 2 Euros each and started a Gin tournament.  The first round competitors consisted of my dad and me, Kelly and Brandi and Alex and my mom, Grandma had the bye.


I lost badly to my dad and was out of the tournament pretty quickly.  The other games went quite a bit longer, but in the end Kelly and my mom were victorious.  My dad and Grandma started round 2, but the other games will continue tomorrow. 


Tomorrow we have to check-in for our tour in the Star Bar at 8:15am, ick that’s really early. 

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Olympia, Greece


I went to bed last night thinking that today we were going to see the Acropolis in Athens, only to find out this morning we were going to see the original Olympic stadium ruins.  Not that I’m complaining, just was confused!  Like I say every night it was pretty darn amazing to be walking through such a historic monument that’s been standing for thousands of years.  It’s pretty cool.

I apologize ahead of time for the number of photos, I normally just grab photos of my camera (or one camera if I didn’t take any that day), but today I knew I wanted a couple pictures of my dad’s and Brandi’s cameras so there is a lot!



Okay, so TOMORROW we’ll be in Athens and will see the Acropolis….at least that’s what I’ve been told…we shall see!

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A Day at Dock


Today was the end of cruise #1 and the start of cruise #2 which meant we spent a day at the Civitavecchia, Italy pier.  We had grand plans of joining a tour and heading back into Rome to see more of the sites but when we went to book we realized it wasn’t worth the nearly $200/per person 9.5 hour tour.  Half of the tour was back to the Vatican which we had already seen, the other 1/4 of it would be spent on the bus going to and from the ship to Rome (it’s an 1.5 hour trip both ways) and the other 1/4 would be viewing the Trevi Fountain which was currently under restoration and cleaning.  Needless to say we decided against the tour!

Brandi, Sue and Aaron went in to town, but my family decided to stay on the ship and have an “at dock day”.  We watched the old passengers disembark and the new ones embark.  Today was beautiful so we spent most of the day laying by the pool and upper deck reading, playing cards and resting. 


After going out for a walk we reentered (or tried to) our floor but even with our special key the door wouldn’t budge.  Sadly my dad came right behind us and it worked for him…apparently Alex just isn’t that strong!




The big change today is new neighbors.  Last week we had great neighbors.  In our private area there are eight suites (we take up three of them) and we got along really well with everyone.  The neighbors to the left of my room were from Germany had two kids, 8 and 12, who spent a lot of time in the pool but were really quiet.  The people across the hall have three girls, ages 3, 12 and 14 and we never see the older to girls but their little Emma entertains everyone in the Haven – they also are staying on for this second cruise) and the third set have a son and are also traveling on with us.  It was a quiet group of people.  Our four families got along well and pretty much took over the Haven.  Today however, is a whole new group of people. 

The neighbors next to me left and have been replaced with three loud obnoxious kids who have taken over the pool with constant screaming, yelling and running.  The kids have no respect for anyone, they are continually shouting for the butler to come and bring them items.  It’s just plain rude.  I’m hoping they quickly discover the kids drop-off day care and we see less of them because I can already see they’re going to be a problem.  They’ve now moved into the exercise room and are playing on the treadmill, it’s only a matter of time before one of them gets hurt…..

Tomorrow is another at sea day, so I’m looking forward to another day lounging by the pool, this vacation life is really taxing on a girl!!

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This morning we got up early and boarded our tour bus for the ancient ruins of Pompeii.  1700 years ago (on my birthday, August 24th to be exact!) Mount Vesuvius erupted sending ash and pumice stones onto the city of Pompeii.  For three days homes were hit and people eventually suffocated to death.  Today, they have excavated a lot of the town and it was amazing to be walking through these ruins.



A couple of nights ago I put $10 into a slot machine in the casino and with one pull and .30c I won $45!  Once I had won I played two more rounds before I cashed out and was super excited to receive the $43.75 in cash!



Today is also the last night of the first cruise and there are a bunch of sad passengers.  I’m pretty ecstatic to be getting ready to start all over and begin a 10 day Eastern Mediterranean cruise!  Bring on 10 more days of five-star fun!

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