Category Archives: family

Signed by Jermaine Kearse

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Last weekend Brandi and I took the little girls to the United Way of King County's Celebrity Softball Tournement hosted by Mariners Hall of Famers Dan Wilson and Jay Buhner. We had all gone together last year so the girls had an idea of what to expect. What we didn't expect was both girls would get their hats signed by Seattle Seahawks', and University of Washington alum, Jermaine Kearse.

We bought great seats just a few rows above the field but because of the heat we decided to move up towards the main concourse and get out of the sun. Maddie wasn't overly fond of the idea because she really wanted to get a signature from one of the players. I finally agreed to go back down toward the dugout to sit in the sun while she tried to get a signature. Any signature.

There was two all-star filled rosters, but only one player from the Seahawks was participating and I never thought we would get him to sign their hats. Maddie was very persistent yelling at different players hoping that one would turn around and sign her hat. Emma joined in after awhile and then a few more girls.

When I saw Kearse pop up out of the dugout and stand right in front of the girls I had two thoughts:

  1. Wow that would be super cool if they got Kearse to sign their hats!
  2. Please turn around and sign their hats so we can get out of the sun!

The four girls quickly realized that each one of them yelling at Kearse individually wasn't working so they decided to try telling together…and what do you know Kearse turned around and motioned to them to hand him what they wanted to have signed.

I don't think I ever moved so fast as to make sure he got both of the girls' hats!

How cool is that signature! I do have to admit I am a tad bit jealous, but there's always next time, right!?

 

I Spy….

ME!!!!

Okay, and Mason & Emma!

What a fun event Eastside Baby Corner was invited to be a part of!

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Alex is down to 31 days until her college graduation and she is done. DONE. And when I say done I mean it in two different ways: one: she will be graduated and two: shes tired of school and ready for it to be, well, done. I think right now the latter is her biggest complaint.

Who doesnt remember your final quarter/semester of school?! All you have to do is make it to the last day and then youll be done forever….or until you go crazy and decide to go on to higher education – me I havent hit that point yet! The last couple of weeks Alex has really been down in the dumps and with her birthday coming up (today!) my family hatched a plan, one that would surely put a huge smile on her face! My parents had already been planning on sending Kelly to visit Alex in a couple of weeks, and Alex was aware of it but had no idea of the earlier visit.

All weekend long we racked our brains on the best way to do it. Kelly quickly was nominated for the travel role but we had to figure out how to get her there. Mind you we all will be driving the 12 hours in just a couple of weeks for graduation. Do we fly Kelly down? Does she take a friend and drive over? How long will she stay? If we fly her down do we buy her just a one way ticket and have her stay until the graduation? Or just fly her home in a week or two? All these questions were hashed out at the breakfast table Sunday morning.

The final consensus was to fly Kelly one way into Salt Lake City and then either my mom or Jeff will drive over in a week or so and bring her home. However due to the last minute nature of this the only flight option got in at 7pm and we would have to get Kelly up to Rexburg, a couple hour drive. We figured by the time Kelly would make it into Rexburg Alex would be asleep and her birthday over, so just showing up at her door wasnt an option so we hatched plan B which we recorded….her response wasnt quite what we were expecting….

Happy Golden Birthday, Alexandra Nicole!!!!!!!! We love you!

The Long Journey Home

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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. 

Debarkation

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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

 

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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 2

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This morning bright and early we set off for a tour of the Blue Mosque and then to the Grand Bazaar.  While the Blue Mosque and Grand Bazaar were really cool, I didn’t take many photos, I think I’m beginning to be tired of taking pictures.  I’m already on my second memory card after filling up a 16gb one and have a good start on my 8gb one.  I hope this one will be big enough to finish the trip because after this I just have a couple of small 1gb ones that hold like 100 photos!

Here are some of the highlights of the very few photos I took today and there are actually no photos of the Grand Bazaar,I was too busy shopping to take photos!

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Today was also part 2 of the Gin Tournament and Grandma and Mom will be moving onto the finals tomorrow.  I’m still a bit annoyed that I was knocked out in the first round, but I’m trying to be strong….that and have refused to play ever since!  That’ll show them not to beat me!

Tomorrow is an at sea day, followed by another at sea day, Naples on Friday where I’m going to Capri to ride the chairlift that Keri Smith said was a must see and sadly on Saturday we disembark and began our long journey back to Seattle.  It’s crazy that this amazing trip is coming to an end, but there is still three more days of fun ahead of me and I plan to make the most out of it!

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Istanbul, Turkey – Day 1

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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.

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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!

 

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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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