We woke up to gorgeous blue skies and water that took my breath away. We were finally at St. Marrten! Becca, Rick and Zander were taking Tommy (their God Son) on a fun Land and Sea Tour. He was so terribly excited to go with them!

We had a nice quiet morning. Ran into Nana and Lalo at breakfast and asked if they would like to wander around town with us. So about 9:15 we headed off the ship and caught the water taxi. Fun Island Music on board! And the water was so pretty. (I mentioned that, right?!)





We simply wandered around for a bit. It was nice and not at all crowded in the little downtown area where we were. Tim had seen the "Yoda Guy Shop" and wanted to take TJ in there as he adores anything StarWars. It was cool. The owner of the shop helped co-create Yoda.



Then we had a drink at the Black Pearl while Tori had her hair braided (I tried to get her to do it on board but she said no... what a strange child sometimes!) In the future I think we'll do the braids on the ship. But it was a fun girly thing to do. (Thank you Tim!)







We let the kids wander and grab shells for a while. Lalo picked up his cool hat. What a bargain.



Then the boys hit the liquor store. The kids were moaning and groaning something awful about sandy feet. (Really whining big time.. sigh) A kind local by the bathroom at the water taxi stop showed us fresh water for them to rinse their feet with. They were MUCH happier then! Nana found the little casino and said "see ya!" So, we headed back to the ship for lunch and swimming.





It was lovely to have the pool be so much more empty! Becca, Rick, Z and Tommy were back. He had quite the adventure and LOVED it, can you tell?







Tim/Tommy faced off Rick/Z in Ping Pong after lunch.



And the kids swam for a while.



After lunch I had the boys write in their journals. TJ also had to do school work. (Only one teacher sent along work, but she sent along TONS!) Then the kids went to clubs while Lalo kept the pager. (Nana was still MIA at the casino!) DH and I rode the water taxi back to town and had a nice little walk. Before heading back to get ready for...

PIRATE NIGHT!!!!!!!!!!

Clip from the dining room that night. Yo Ho, Yo Ho!!!




And really, besides the pictures... I don't have much to share about Pirate Night. We had a blast. Copious amounts of rum was involved. Kids danced. Capt'n Jack was great. He nailed the mannerisms. The boys were convinced it was the REAL Capt'n Jack. Fireworks over the water simply ROCKED.




By far my favorite Pirate Night Picture, Rick. Love it!


Good call getting all the grandkids in on one shot, Uncle Ted!










And at the end of the night...

Can anyone guess?

We collapsed.

Love it.

PS Ooops, forgot: towel animal was the beloved monkey!

And no, Tim, it's not for dinner. Sorry. But I was sent this yummy recipe and decided to post it today. We'll be eating it soon!


Minestrone Soup


"This is an extra rich and savory minestrone with bacon, ground beef, red wine, and condensed onion soup. Garbanzo beans, spinach, zucchini, carrots, and celery add nutrition and visual appeal."

INGREDIENTS:
4 slices bacon
1 cup chopped onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 pound ground beef
1 cup minced celery
1 cup cubed carrots
2 cups tomato puree
2 (14.5 ounce) cans stewed tomatoes
1 (14 ounce) can beef broth
1 (10.5 ounce) can condensed French onion soup
5 cups water
1/4 cup red wine
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup chopped zucchini
2 cups spinach, rinsed and sliced
1 cup uncooked spinach pasta
1 (15 ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained
1/4 cup chopped parsley

DIRECTIONS:

In a large stock pot, cook bacon and drain off fat. Add onion, garlic, and beef. When onions are translucent, add celery, carrot, pureed tomatoes, whole tomatoes, broth, condensed soup, water, wine, oregano, basil, salt and pepper. Cook for 15 minutes.

Stir in zucchini, spinach, pasta, garbanzo beans and parsley. Cook for 15 minutes and serve with fresh Parmesan cheese.

Today was our prearranged family portrait day. And might I say that Shane, the portrait manager, is just wonderful?!

Ok, so TJ wakes up and asks me to open the curtain so he can watch the water. He was so happy just laying there. How cute is that?



We got up and headed to Topsiders for breakfast. Tori could not be woken up, so we gave up and left her with her adopted family for the trip. Tired kid! At Topsiders Tommy asks for turkey. As I reach for it I realize that the meat next to it has pistachios in it. Tommy will have an instant anaphylactic reaction to pistachios. I quickly ushered him down the line feeling paranoid about nuts suddenly. But all was well. (And NO I didn't let him have the turkey he opted for cereal, fruit and yogurt!) It was CRAZY windy. We sat outside behind Topsiders. We had to keep warning people not to sit by the water as their whole trays would blow off the table!



Back to the room to get ready for pictures. Remember that Tori was so tired? Well, she was so tired that she lost her black shirt that was for the family portrait. UGH! She wore it Saturday night for dinner, but now it's gone. The search is fruitless... so Tim sprints down to the shops and buys her a black shirt that reads "The beatings will continue until morale improves". I found it to be appropriate! We had her wear it backwards and all is well. Sigh. Yes, I was frustrated.

Shane and the photographer met us all in the lobby and we got an great family group shot.



Thanks Nana and Lalo for the great picture. We love it!

After pictures we find out that Nana and Ted had won a twist contest the night before. The prize sounded exciting for a second: an envelope for the spa. But then we found out it was a for a body analysis. Uh... no thanks!!!!! Still, wish we had been there to see them dancing. Sounds like they had fun!
Back to pool for a bit.





We let the kids eat poolside then they all wanted to head to clubs. We came back to Topsiders for the Asian buffet (not safe for Tommy). The stir fry station was yummy!

We then snagged the kids and hit Twice Charmed. LOVE the matinée option. Great show. Loved the actors. They were fabulous!


Tonight is Sorcerer Mickey pictures. TJ is so excited he's shaking like a puppy. I would not been surprised in the least to see him faint he was so excited! I LOVE how the picture turned out.



Tonight's dinner was a Lumiere's. Tori had her heart set on a picture with Princess Minnie. So, we jumped up during the meal to snag it.



TJ was nodding at his place. Poor kid, he was TIRED! After dinner I let the boys look around the shops for a bit and then we headed back to the room.

Towel animal of the night was an elephant!

New critters

So, haven't done an aquarium update recently. I had a hairy algae outbreak after the cruise and have battling that for a few weeks. Finally I gave up and took out all the live rock and scrubbed it all off. The used suction to pull all the clumps up off the bottom. Ewwww.

So, we have had a clean up crew with various snails, hermit crabs and a cleaner shrimp, Rudy, for almost two months. The lights are on timers full time now. Makes it ever so much easier. Tim and I also relocated the tank to a corner that got less light as I was getting a fair amount of 'scum' on the sides. Say it with me, "Ewwwww!"

I was going to buy a clown fish yesterday but the shop has had bad luck with recent supplies of clown fish (from SIX different suppliers) and she wasn't selling any currently. (I got the whole 'lecture' about clown fish being over-bred due to 'Finding Nemo' whech makes sense, but hey I have always loved clown fish and I'm going to get one soon, darnit!) The boys and I ended up picking out a Green Blue Chromis. He was promptly names 'Flashy Cham Lander' (cham is said like 'cam') because Tommy liked 'Flashy', TJ liked 'Chameleon' and Tori just wanted 'Lander' on the end. Tim hates the name. I love it.



*I did NOT take this picture as these fish are CONSTANT swimmers and I just couldn't get one of him!

Then I got my very first piece of soft coral. Hooray! These are just simple Zoanthids. Good for a beginner like me. I'll probably stick to the really hearty things in general.



*I DID take the rest of the pictures. Seeing as these critters aren't going to zoom around the tank! ;)

Our feather dusters are doing great. Growing really well. There are probably about eight total. Two are getting to be a great size. We love to watch them.



And finally, a full tank shot for today.



And that, my loyal readers, is my tank update.

Oh, and little K in Atlanta... I'll make sure to do some hermit crab shots for you next time. I know you love them!

Shrimp Creole

I have been wanting this for MONTHS.

Yummy.

Shrimp Creole

INGREDIENTS

* 3 tablespoons rendered bacon fat
* 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
* 2 cups chopped stewed tomatoes
* 1/8 cup tomato sauce
* 6 tablespoons minced onion
* 6 tablespoons chopped green bell pepper
* 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
* 1 clove crushed garlic
* 1 1/2 cups hot water
* 2 teaspoons salt
* 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
* 7 ounces frozen, peeled and deveined shrimp

DIRECTIONS

1. Melt bacon fat in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in the flour and cook until browned, stirring constantly to make a brown roux (see Editor's Note). Stir tomatoes, tomato sauce, minced onion, green pepper, parsley, garlic, water, salt and pepper into the roux. Bring sauce to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 20 minutes. Add shrimp to mixture and cook until the shrimp turn pink, and have turned opaque in the center.


Except I just use some oil to make the roux (or butter.)

Enjoy. It's a REALLY good recipe.

Oh, guess what's for dinner tonight?!

Colonial Day

The fifth grade had their big Colonial Day today. I don't sew very well at all.

So... I got creative with what I had. Used my Bridesmaid dress from Becca's wedding. Split the seam up the back. Used my hand dandy eyelet punch to make ten hold and laced black satin ribbon through it. We used a $2 shirt from Good Will (has also been used for Wax Museum Helen Keller and Pirate Night) underneath, pinned the floor length skirt to a cami to make floor length for Tori, used thick black ribbon around her waist, and plopped a doily (yes, paper one) on top of her head.




And there you have Colonial Day Tori for Tea. :D

Mickey called to wake us up WAAAAY too early it seemed. But the kids were easy to get going as it was our Character Breakfast morning.

Now, I have read that many people don't like the way it is now. But this was the first time for us. And I know we seem to be in a minority, but we loved it. Then again, I was stinking excited to be there I don't care HOW they did it! We have done Chef Mickey's at Disney World a couple of times now. And I truly think the kids had fun dancing and parading around. Pluto did stop by our table. (But the pictures turned out awful, so I am not posting it!)

Luis and Graham made hats for the little ones... and Nana.



Kids all opted for clubs at this point. The boys were making Flubber this morning. And Tori had some fun in Ocean Quest. She won human BINGO and later had a nice little prize and note delivered to her state room. (Some HSM2 stuff if I recall).We joined Becca and Rick and Ted and Kathryn for the 'Art of Entertaining' in Studio Sea. It was a nice (and yummy).

Then we snagged a picture (and autograph) with Mickey in the atrium.



Then it was time for the pool and lunch from place of choice. I discovered panninis from Goofy's this day. I would almost always get lunch here the whole cruise. Yum. This was the kids' first time on the Mickey slide. They LOVED it! And Tim brought some Malibu along to add to my lemonade. Oh yeh, loving that.







Note TJ's super cool prescription sunglasses! :-)

After lunch and swim everyone got dressed. DH took the kids to see Underdog along with the snacks we brought along. And I took a blessed nap!

Then it was time to get ready for formal night.

Alas, this is the ONLY picture I have of us from formal night. I was huffy at Tim that he didn't let us get portraits. Sigh. Oh well.



After dinner we caught up with Daisy.



And headed in for Golden Mickeys. ---->No, I didn't take the picture, snagged it online.



Loved the show. But the tentacles freaked out Tori a bit we later learned. Poor thing! Lalo decided he wanted each family to have a Golden Mickey. So ours is now proudly displayed on the shelf along with a family picture. More on that later.

After a quick run by Deck 9 for a drinks and a bit of the big game (which I had ZERO interest in.) Tori spilled her hot chocolate all over me. And I headed back down with the kids.

Animal towel of the night... dog... or as Tommy was convinced... goat?!



And we collapsed again.

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