Monday, September 1, 2014

Cruising Carnival Breeze for The Plus Sized Passenger

I am a large woman.  I wear a 4X and am 5'5" and shaped like a pear so I have an ample tummy and behind.  This means that I don't fit in a lot of places other people do.

When I first booked our family vacation on Canival Breeze back in March, I figured I had plenty of time to get thinner.  I didn't.  So it was with some fear and trepidation that I boarded my American Airlines flight (thank God they didn't make me buy a second seat!) to Miami last weekend.

Let me also say that I had taken certain precautions by locating a super plus sized life jacket.  You see we had booked excursions - para-sailing, glass bottom boat and dolphin encounter -- and I wanted to be able to join in.  I was too nervous about the para-sailing so just booked myself in as a rider but even so, I worried that their not having suitable life jackets for me might stop me from joining the rest of my family so I lugged that giant Canadian Tire life jacket with me just in case.

I don't know about other Cruise lines, but let me tell you if you're stumbled across this blog because you are obese and worried about cruising, you can rest easy aboard the Carnival Breeze.

First off, the bathrooms.  Yes the toilet is bolted to the wall instead of mounted on the floor but it is very securely mounted with no cracked caulking or scary creaking noise when you sit down.  Trust me this is a very big deal when you're a bigger person.  The showers are big enough and there are two in the cabin so if you're not agile enough to climb over the tub rim (second shower) you can still use the other shower which barely has a lip.  Also the shower heads can be used as hand-helds so you're sure to get access to all the places you will need to rinse.

As for dining, the dining room chairs are armless both in the main dining room and on the lido deck. There are some wicker chairs that were a bit tighter of a fit but those were on the least used deck and were still comfortable enough.  Plus there were other chairs on that deck that were more accessible.  A lot of the meals we ate on the Lido deck where you line up buffet style but if you find standing difficult you can also get free room service and/or eat main mails in the dining room where they will serve you.

Our bed was comfortable and plenty wide enough for myself and my normal sized husband.  The room while cramped (it is a ship after all) was definitely roomy enough for the 4 of us though only one of us could be in the hallway at a time.

As for the excursions, I needn't have worried.  All of the trips we took had large enough life jackets for me and while I chose not to para-sail, I probably could have gone had I wanted to.

Finally for the entertainment, the room where the shows were held had both theater seating and bench seating so people of various sizes could sit comfortably.  Also there were plenty of elevators at our disposal so never a need to use the stairs if those are problematic.

The only time where size could have been an issue was waiting in lines (to check in, to go into ports, to come back aboard, to disembark.)  If you fear these will be problematic then I urge you to contact Guest Services and they will help you out.

Oh I forgot to mention, G and I also got couples massages and there was no issue with me getting up on to the massage table or worrying about it collapsing beneath me.

So if you're plus-sized and worried about Cruising, don't be.  And I hope your trip is as wonderful as mine was.

Bon Voyage!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Family Vacations

We're getting ready to go on our next family vacation.  Up until now our vacations have always been in Canada.  This time we're heading out on a Caribbean cruise.  Go big or Go home I guess.

Our travel plans include parasailing, going on a glass bottom boat, hitting the 7 mile beach in Grand Cayman and of course, swimming with dolphins.

This is a rather bigger deal than our last trip with was a road trip to Quebec City.  We've also gone to Alberta for the Calgary Stampede (LOVED it) and of course we head to Ottawa and the cottage every year.

Next year our family vacation will likely be a 3-4 day trip to Haliburton so we can go dogsledding.  Sarah especially is very keen to go dogsledding.

The year after, we've decided that we're likely going to head to Jolly Ol' England.  I'd like to see if we can rent the same cottage I lived in the last time I was there for a few days and then explore London and some castles for a few days.

You'll notice no Disney.  My kids aren't really into Disney and never have been.

You'll also notice that we're crazy lucky to be able to afford these trips.  Part of the reason why is that we took on a part time job cleaning Gunther's office on the weekends.

Right now tho, the focus of our energy is getting ready for the cruise.  It's going to be so hard to last these next few days as we've been waiting for this trip for months and had to jump through so many hoops to get Gunther's travelling docs in order.

Oh did I mention we'r also getting couples massages on the ship?  Yeah.. it'll all be worth it!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Just Like Riding A Bike - Parenting Fail Corrected

I'm a pretty good mom.  In fact I would say that there are times when I rock this whole parenting think (see Chloe's awesome hair post below) but there are other times when as I mother, I suck and hard.

One such of those times is the whole "teaching my kids to ride a bike" thing.  For obvious reasons, this process is not an easy one for me.  Holding a scared kid while simultaneously trying to balance them and keep them from crashing while also running alongside them is not something I can do for any real length of time.  But I did try, I swear it.

With Sarah the process went fairly well and we got her transitioned from training wheels to two wheels quick enough, but with Chloe things did not go so easily.  We tried, she tried, the neighbour girl tried, but we never really did manage to get Chloe up and rolling on her own.

For two summers we tried and then last night, in the middle of the third summer since we bid the training wheels adieu, I finally lost it and said that this was the night -- no more excuses.

No more listening to Sarah complain that Chloe on her scooter couldn't keep up.  No more dealing with Chloe whining that she got ditched because she was too slow.  No more burying the guilt of giving up on teaching my 10 year old who suffers from no physical, emotional or psychological issues how to ride a freaking bike.

So we half-dragged a half-sobbing and visibly shaking Chloe outside and sat her on that stupid bike and Gunther ran her up and down the street again and again until she could balance, until she could stop, until she could turn, until she could fly.

And today, after work, we came home to this:

That, my friends, is what freedom looks like.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Crabby Mommy

Gunther and I are not pet people.

When I first met him, I wanted us to have a dog when we were a family but he was dead set against it from the start.  I figured I could change his mind later.  7 years of changing dirty diapers and wiping little bums changed mine.

So no pets.  That's what we said and that's what we meant.

Sarah has always been an animal lover and has spent years trying to talk us out of this.  And for many years her breath was wasted.  She even went so far as to buy herself a habitat but we just made her use it as a bug box.  Then she bought herself an aquarium.  So, after much debate, we finally agreed to let my brother and sister-in-law give her a Pet Smart gift card for her birthday.  A gift card that came with the words "we have convinced your mom and dad to let you have fish."  And Sarah was so happy she cried.

She really did.

I have never seen her so excited and happy except maybe on the day we let her buy the fish along with a cute little aquatic frog and a snail.

All was lovely until the fish got ick.  The ick medicine was killing the frog so we had to put him in a bowl.  The fish died anyways.  Then the frog died.  And Sarah cried.

She really did.

So we caved again and let her get more frogs.  And things were fine and Sarah was happy.  Until we got new windows installed and the frogs got moved hither and tither into differently lit rooms at different temperatures and well... the frogs died.  And Sarah cried.

She really did.

So for months we said no more pets!  And we meant it.

We really did.

Until we caved and let her get hermit crabs which seem to be doing just fine.  So we let her get a bigger tank and a third crab and we let her give her smaller tank to Chloe so Chloe could have two crabs. 

And now we live with 5 crabs named Aster, Helix and Hercules in Sarah's tank and Cory and Elvis in Chloe's.  And everyone is happy for now because Sarah has her pets and Chloe has her pets and Sarah has kept them all alive. 

And me?  I'm happy because they like to hide under the sand so I don't have to see them.  So, I have become the grandmother of crabs.

I really did.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Many Colours of Chloe

(the first pic is a hair clip, the rest were permanent hair colour -- 1 year of colours)

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Safari Zoo Camp

Sarah has come home from Zoo Camp.  Both times I sent my girls I worried and both times my girls had the times of their lives.  I'm so happy for them to have had these amazing experiences.  I've never been to a sleep away camp nor have they, so none of us was really sure what to expect.  What they got was an experience of a lifetime.

Both girls were initially nervous that
they would not make friends.  This proved to be a groundless fear.  The way this camp is set up is that everyone does everything together.  There are no groups so everyone interacts, shares, and bonds.  For Chloe's group that was a lot of kids.  For Sarah's a little less than half of that but in both cases friendships were forged quickly and cherished.

My girls got to play with bunnies, with ferrets, with fennec foxes and singing dogs.  They got to pet tigers, lions, wolves, leopards and black jaguars.  They did tree-top trekking, Sarah got to caving, Sarah climbed a 60 foot tall tree, Chloe gave a talk about hyenas and fed a lioness.  They also did regular camp stuff like talent shows, camp olympics and campfires.

Both girls have asked to go back next year (preferably for two weeks but we shall see.)

I stumbled across the camp website when I was looking for birthday party venues for Chloe.  From the pics I felt that the girls would love it.  They most certainly did.

So if you're anywhere near Orono, Ontario let me strongly recommend you sign your kids up for camp at Jungle Cat World.  They'll be thrilled you did.