Feel Better Chicken Soup

Kai caught a cold towards the end of our Caribbean cruise. He had a runny nose two nights ago, and last night he had a slight fever. Today, he has a cough. Poor kid. 🤧🤒

We got home earlier today, and I bought some fresh veggies to make him some chicken soup.

Hopefully this will help him get through the next few days. Here’s my take on a basic homestyle chicken soup!

Prep time: 10-20 minutes

Cook time: 1 -2 hours
Number of servings: 6-8

Veggies:

2-3 cloves of garlic- minced
1 onion – diced
4-5 carrots- diced (remove ends)
4 celery stalks- sliced (remove ends)
1/2 lemon, juiced (optional)

Meat:

I like to use dark meat because it’s more tender. And I usually have some drumsticks in the freezer if I buy in bulk. So I’m using drumsticks in this recipe. If you like white meat, you can use chicken breasts.
5 chicken drumsticks or 2 chicken breasts (without rib meat)

Rice/Pasta:

I usually use whatever I have. Today I’m using orzo because I have a half a box left over in my pantry. Sometimes I’ll use brown rice, white rice, or another pasta…like shells, elbow macaroni, or rotini!
8 oz orzo, dry and uncooked

Seasonings + other:

2-3 tablespoons butter
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
32 oz chicken stock
1 teaspoon parsley or a 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon oregano
Water, as needed
Lemon juice, to taste

Cooking instruments:

Large pot
Stovetop range

Directions:

Add butter to pot. Brown garlic, onion, celery, and carrots using medium to high heat, until onions are soft and clear-looking. Add chicken stock and drumsticks. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Cover. Cook for about 10-15 minutes.

When the chicken is cooked fully, remove drumsticks from pot. You can leave the pot simmering with or without the lid at this point.

Be careful. The drumsticks are hot! You can use oven mitts or just use tongs and a fork. Take meat off the bones and shred chicken with fork. Throw bones and skin away. If you are using chicken breast, just shred the chicken and return back to pot. Add shredded chicken back to the pot. Add salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste. Add parsley and oregano.

Cook until boiling. Add orzo. Cook time (based on brand), usually around 10 minutes. Keep a close eye to make sure orzo doesn’t stick to bottom of pot and burn. Stir frequently. Add water as needed.

Once finished, serve with crackers or French banquette!

Thanks for reading 😋

Note: I ended up taking a little bit of soup and transferring it to another bowl for Kai. I added some firm tofu for extra protein. My hubby doesn’t like tofu, so his portion is sans tofu.

Note 2: You may find that the soup doesn’t have much broth once it cools down. That’s because the orzo is constantly aborning the liquid. If you are saving some for leftovers the next day, you can just use the more concentrated version of the soup and add water and salt as needed when you are heating it up.  Then enjoy!

Cave in Barbados

 

Monday, 2/19/18
Bridgetown, Barbados
Docked: 8am
All Aboard: 4:30pm

After speaking with the shore excursion staff on board the cruise ship, the Harrison’s Cave tour with the scenic drive was all full.

We decided to just take a taxi up there. Our ship docked at a location, which was a 10-minute walk to where the port shops and activities were located. They offered a shuttle bus to bring us back and forth, which was very convenient.

We walked through the shops, and we were stopped by a man who asked if we wanted a taxi. And, we walked outside and waited for a few more people to join us to visit Harrison’s Cave. It was supposed to be $25/person to go. It would have been $75 (the group rate).

After about 15 minutes Kai was getting fidgety, so we decided to just take a cab ourselves. It turned out it is $80 to take a round-trip taxi from the port.

Steve Jackson was our driver, and he was very nice. He gave us a mini tour of the island on our drive up there. He explained that the two main industries in Barbados are sugar and tourism. He pointed out “Rihanna Drive”, a road/highway the government dedicated to Rihanna. He showed us where her family grew up. He even brought us to a little market at a gas station because Kai really wanted milk. He kept asking for it. I think he was already getting tired.

At the convenience store, they accepted USD, but they only gave back Barbados Dollars in change. Also they only sold flavored milks in small juice box-type containers. The plain whole milk they sold was the size of a half gallon. And, I didn’t bring a sippy cup for Kai. So, I ended up buying him vanilla flavored milk. They had vanilla, chocolate, pineapple, and banana I think.

 

Kai pretty much inhaled that vanilla milk. I think he loved it! I tried a sip and boy was it sweet. On the ride up there and back, he was very intrigued with all the cyclists out on the roads. He also noticed my dad was sitting on the left front side of the car, and said, “Gong Gong driving.” We ended up correcting him and said no, “Jackson is our taxi driver.” Kai said, “Hi, Jackson, driver. Driving taxi.” It’s interesting that he distinguished the differences because in the States the driver is usually on the left-front side.

The admission to the cave was about $30 USD per person for the tram tour, not including Kai. So my mom paid $91 USD.

When we entered the courtyard, Kai kept saying “jungle, jungle jungle”. We watched this documentary on Netflix, where we saw animals in the jungle.

We took the elevator down and arrived at this other jungle-looking area where we went inside the Information Center. The tour guide directed us to watch a movie after we all gathered in the waiting area.

 

Kai noticed a lizard in the courtyard, and I saw a really beautiful hummingbird. We were entertained by watching these animals.

The movie was boring. Kai escaped the room after it talked about Pangea and gave a history of how Harrison’s Cave was formed,  etc. I’m glad he sat through some of it.

But he wanted to go back and watch the lizard. I went with him. We stayed until the short movie was over. We all had to wait for the tram to come. This time we couldn’t go back to the room and watch the lizard because we were exiting through another door. I sang songs with Kai. And, I brought his little Melissa & Doug Water Wow! Coloring pad.

The tram ride was about 45 minutes or so. We were able to disembark on two stops. One was to see the rock formations. The other was to see a beautiful natural waterfall.

 

Kai fell asleep on the tram and stayed asleep until we went out to the shops.

The ride back to the ship was good. And, it started to rain. Oh, Kai seems to like to suck on lemons, so we gave him one on the ride back. He loved it! When we got to the shops near the port, we noticed a Barbados Harley Davidson! There was a small motorcycle rider for Kai, so we snapped a few shots there.

 

Let’s Sum Up!

Transportation method:  Private Taxi (a sedan) with a brief scenic tour
Transportation Cost: $80 USD
Location: Cruise port to Harrison’s Cave
Distance: 30 minutes from port
Cost for cave admission: $31/person for three adults – Kai was free (under 2) = just under $93 with exchange rate conversion

If we went through the cruise….

Cruise excursion Harrison’s Cave shore excursion with scenic drive= $129/person = $387 (for 3 adults)

What we paid…

Total Cost for the 3 adults and one child under 2 = $80 (transportation) + $93 (cave admission with tram tour (for 3 adults) = $173 USD

What we saved…

We saved a total of $214 by going on our own to the cave.

Thank you for reading!

Interested in reading more about our cruise? Here is our cruise prepshore excursion plandays at sea,  and our commute from our hotel to the cruise terminal in Manhattan, along with our NYC adventure.

St. Lucia Trolley Train

Sunday, 2/18/18
Castries, St Lucia Island
Docked: 8am
All Aboard: 4:30pm

Our excursion didn’t start until 1:50pm. My parents decided to sit this one out. We have a $50 shore excursion credit per cabin, and this one was $45 a pop. Kai doesn’t have to pay because he is under 2.

Morning Time

We had the morning to hang out and get ready. We all went for breakfast. Then, I took Kai swimming. First in the kiddie pool. Then in the regular pool. I also took him in the family jacuzzi. The temperature wasn’t too hot, so it was nice for Kai to join me. Afterwards, Kai wanted to go back into the pool. I put his floaties on, and it was an icy dip back in there!

The big slide doesn’t open until 10am. Kai and I were the first ones on the slide! And, we must have gone on more than five times because there was no one there! Everyone was probably already exploring the island.

After swimming, I gave Kai a snack, gave him a shower, and then gave him his milk. We went for a stroller ride up on Deck 13 (the jogging track). From there we saw a large shipping port below with machines moving all sorts of stuff. Kai was very amused. He fell asleep after two laps around the track.

My parents were up there too, so I pawned him off while I went down to O’Sheehan’s for a salad and a reuben sandwich. It was really tasty!

Then, I went back to the room to get all my stuff ready for our shore excursion.

When I got back up to Deck 13, Kai had been awake for 10 minutes. I took him down to Deck 12 to the Garden Cafe to grab some lunch for him. I fed him, and we went out to meet my parents on Deck 4. We left the ship around 1pm, and just walked around the shops in St. Lucia.

All main attractions including the volcano, the botanical gardens, and good beaches are over an hour away from the port.

We went around the shops, and I picked Kai up a Caribbean Sea shirt. Then, we went to meet our group for our excursion. There was a decent amount of people signed up for this tour.

The Train Ride – Our Shore Excursion

The train came right up to where the cruise ship was docked. Kai was super excited to see the train! He wanted to ride it immediately! We went inside, and then the conductor snapped a picture of us. After boarding, the train broke down literally 500 ft from where it picked us up!

The cruise organizers did offer everyone the option of not going on the excursion because the train had broken down. We decided to stay.

Kai got a bit antsy and was playing with the kids sitting next to us. The 11 year old boy Kai was playing with did not like Kai touching his shirt or his sunglasses or his bracelet. But, we were kind of all stuck there for about 15 minutes. The parents of the 3-year old girl behind us let us color with them!

Prior to the breakdown, the conductor gave a little introduction and yelled, “All aboard!” Kai kept repeating those words throughout the ride.

When it finally got going, Kai was very curious…just looking around. Every time the conductor yelled “Choo Choo” we were supposed to yell “train”, so he tried to make it fun.

It was a city tour, which included a stop at a local Catholic church. We got out and checked it out. Then we got dropped off at a beach for about half an hour, where we were served either rum punch or fruit punch.

I did bring a change of clothing for Kai, so he wore his bathing suit and sandals. I brought his mini dump truck, so he had fun playing on the beach.

Then we went back to the ship and couldn’t find my parents. They had gone to a ballroom dance class and an evening stretch at the fitness center.

We all went out to dinner at Grand Pacific (the a la carte complimentary restaurant). Kai was pretty well-behaved. Overall, it was a fun day! Although, I’m happy we ended up getting that excursion for free.

Observations

-I noticed a lot of stray dogs everywhere on the island.
-We went on a Sunday, so a lot of the local shops were closed and a lot of locals were out and about. That also probably contributed to the fact that the tour didn’t start until 1:50pm. Because on Sundays, the church we visited has morning service.
-They celebrate their independence day on 2/22!

Interested in reading more about our cruise? Here is our cruise prepshore excursion plandays at sea,  and our commute from our hotel to the cruise terminal in Manhattan, along with our NYC adventure.

Basseterre Beach Day

Saturday, 2/17/18
Basseterre, St. Kitts Island
Docked: 8am
All Aboard: 4:30pm

We woke up around 7:30am. Grabbed breakfast at the buffet. As we were eating, the captain made an announcement that the gangway was closing in 10 minutes because another cruise ship was docking. After eating, we went back to our cabin to grab our stuff and went down to deck 4, where it was super crowded! There were people waiting there to leave.

After about 15 minutes they let everyone go. Keep in mind you have to bring a photo ID as well as your room key card to leave and come back on board. My mother forgot to bring my dad’s key card because she left it in another bag. But, it only took her about 5 minutes to go back up to the room and come back down so we could leave the ship.

Boy were we glad we brought Kai’s umbrella stroller! There was a long wait period before we could leave the ship. As we left, we went straight to the “taxi and tours” booth. We spoke with this very friendly lady who recommended we go to Cockleshell Bay (on the far east side). It took about 25 minutes to get there from where we docked, which was Port Zante. Here’s a map for reference.

There is a restaurant at Cockleshell, but we decided not to get anything to eat there.

Kai had so much fun playing in the sand. We brought two of his sand buckets, some shovels, dinosaurs, and a monster truck. He played with a few other boys on the beach. One didn’t bring any toys with him, one had some fun toys they ended up borrowing from the gift store on board the cruise ship, and the other 3 older boys had a bunch more fun toys and who let him play with them.

We had a chance to go swimming and the water at the bay was very calm for Kai. He also got to collect some seashells to bring him for daddy.

Overall, we had such a lovely beach day. Kai passed out on the way back to Port Zante.

We went shopping around the port quickly before grabbing lunch on board the ship.

Then, he took a 2.5 hour nap afterwards. We were then able to all go to dinner at Grand Pacific, where Kai loved his minestrone soup, brie and fig, and his fresh fruit plate!

Transportation method: Taxi (it was actually a van that took 14 of us) – as a group, we had to all agree on a time to go back to the port (we got there around 9:45am and decided to leave at 1pm)
Transportation Cost: $7 per person / each way ($14 round trip/person) – Kai was free (under 2)
Location: Cockleshell Bay (for a beach day)
Distance: 25 minutes from Zante Port (where our cruise ship docked)
Cost for umbrella rental and lounge chair rental: $5 for umbrella and $5/chair
Cost for pictures with Jimmy, the monkey: $10

Total Cost for the 3 adults for the beach day: $42 (transportation) + $15 (umbrella and lounge chair rental) + $10 (monkey picture) = $67

Cruise excursion for beach day = $59/person = $177 (for 3 adults)  for 3.5 hours (with umbrella and lounge chair rental)

We saved: $110 by going on our own and not with the cruise ship and we got to play with a monkey!

Takeaways:
-Remember to bring your photo ID and room key card so you can leave and come back on board
-Bring lots of sunscreen and reapply! The sun here is very strong. Or bring a long sleeve shirt/coverup
-Bring water/juice and stay hydrated
-Remember to relax and have fun

Interested in reading more about our cruise? Here is our cruise prepshore excursion plan, days at sea,  and our commute from our hotel to the cruise terminal in Manhattan, along with our NYC adventure.

Birthday Dinner Idea!

My dad and mother in law’s birthdays both fall in the month of December. Michael and I both decided to host a nice home-cooked birthday dinner for them.

Here’s the menu we created and used! Initially, I was going to bake a cheesecake but decided against it. I ended up driving 45 minutes to a Chinese bakery to buy a fresh cake:)If you’re looking to host a dinner party, this is just a little idea:) Thanks for reading!

Shore Excursions – The Plan

Norwegian Gem
Cruise Duration: 2/13/18 – 2/24/18

Honestly, I did not do much research on the ports prior to taking this cruise.

I felt like I planned out NYC more than the cruise.

Since we got the “Distinctive Package” on board, it includes 250 minutes of wifi on board, as well as 150 minutes of international calling from our state room. It also comes with $50 per day of shore excursion credit for each port per state room.

I am such a lucky girl because I called my hubby back home to send me recommendations on which ports I should or shouldn’t do any shore excursions with the ship. And, he gave me some good suggestions!

Our Current Plan

We have five days at ports.

Saturday, 2/17/18
Basseterre, St. Kitts Island
Docked: 8am
All Aboard: 4:30pm

No shore excursions. It looks like a good place to just walk around the port and shop. Michael also said there seems to b a beach pretty close. We will cab it there in the morning. Do the beach. Then come back to the ship for lunch.

In the afternoon, we will check out some shops and Kai will most likely take his nap in his stroller while we shop.

Sunday, 2/18/18
Castries, St Lucia Island
Docked: 8am
All Aboard: 4:30pm

We are unsure about this time. We are torn between two shore excursions. One is a Trolley Train ride for 1.5 hours which Kai will love. Downside: it starts at 1:50pm and Kai usually naps around that time.  The other one is a city tour and a 90 minute beach excursion: total time is 3.5 hours. This one starts at 8:50am.

The other attractions in St. Lucia are rather far from the port itself. The beaches are about a 1.5 hour drive from the port, as well as the botanical gardens.

Monday, 2/19/18
Bridgetown, Barbados
Docked: 8am
All Aboard: 4:30pm

We plan to all take an excursion to visit Harrison’s Cave in Barbados. It seems like a good one! There’s also a waterfall, so I can’t wait to take pictures. Also, we get to ride on a tram! Kai will love that. The only downside to this is we leave around 12:35pm. We will have to plan around Kai’s nap that day.

Tuesday, 2/20/18
St. Johns, Antigua
Docked: 10am
All Aboard: 5:30pm

I am torn between two options here.

  1. Take a beach day because there are some of the world’s nicest beaches. Kai will have a blast. We wouldn’t take a shore excursion beach day. We would leave the ship and grab a cab and go to a beach and then come back in a couple of hours. Then, have lunch and hang out.
  2. This is more of a me-only shore excursion. It’s a photographic tour of Antigua. It’s a 4-hour shore excursion from 12:30pm. I figure if I do this one, I can hang out with Kai in the morning. If he’s tired, he can take a nap while I am gone. My parents can watch Kai.

These two options are really tough because on the one hand I want to be able to spend time with Kai and have a beach day, but this is the only port where they are offering a photographic tour with a photographer.

Wednesday, 2/21/18
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Docked: 7am
All Aboard: 12:30pm

We are simply planning on exploring the local area and maybe walking to Old San Juan, or going to a nearby beach. Also, we only have a few hours on shore here.

The Waiting Game

Guess we will see what happens. Plans may change depending on shore excursion availability. We didn’t want to book too far in advance because we weren’t sure how we were going to feel. So, we need to further inquire with the shore excursion desk.

Tomorrow is our first day on land! Let’s see how we feel off the boat and what Basseterre has in store for us.

Sea Days

Cruise Ship: Norwegian Gem
Cruise Dates: Tuesday, 2/13/18- Saturday, 2/24/18
Departure Port: Manhattan Cruise Terminal, New York, USA
DAY 2 + DAY 3 + DAY 4 + DAY 10 + DAY 11 + DAY 12

DAY 2 – Valentine’s Day

We were really feeling the boat moving more on day 2. My mom said she had one of the best nights of sleep. We attributed that to the motion sickness pill she had taken the night before.

I decided not to take anything. I feel the boat moving, but it’s not making me sick.

Kai woke up around 7:40am, and I figured out how to FaceTime Michael before his first client of the day. For some reason, Kai hasn’t been focused on talking to Daddy. I think it’s because there’s a lot going on here, and when Kai wakes up he’s still a little confused.

Kai asked me if we were going in a taxi today. I said no, we are on a cruise ship. We are on a big boat! He loves going out and looking outside and seeing the ocean.

My parents gave Kai a Valentine’s Day gift.

We had breakfast at the buffet. Then I brought Kai upstairs to the sports court so he could run around and play soccer. He had so much fun!

Because there were storm clouds approaching, we took Kai to the play room downstairs

Then we went back inside and we did a Valentine’s Day craft that was given to us by Grammy and Papa.

The Grand Pacific is a complimentary a la carte restaurant located on deck 7. We went there for lunch today. It was pretty good! Kai got some really fresh grapes, and he enjoyed the popcorn shrimp!

He’s been eating very well on this trip!

We were initially going to go to the French restaurant to celebrate my parents’ 36th anniversary, but we decided against it because the only reservation that was available was one at 9pm. It’s too late for Kai.

Every evening at 5:15pm there is a program for the “Guppies”, which is for kids between 0-2 years old.  Kai had a blast running around and playing with the kids. Then we went to dinner at one of the complimentary a la carte restaurants, Magenta.

We were seated almost immediately. However, the service was very slow and unfortunately Kai got a little cranky. So, I had to leave with my Valentine before we got to order dessert.

We did end up going to the buffet and grabbing some milk for Kai as well as a banana and nutella crepe for me 🙂

Then we showered and Kai fell asleep pretty quickly.

Day 3 – Chinese New Year’s Eve

We woke up very refreshed. My mom and I were very unsure about how to dress because we didn’t know if we should still wear a jacket/sweater/long pants, etc. So, we put Kai in a long-sleeved shirt and long pants.

When we got up to Deck 12 to eat breakfast, there were already so many people wearing their bathing suits! After breakfast, we went up so Kai could run around and play some basketball. He can dribble the ball 4-5 times in a row now! He loves running around and throwing the ball.

After the big kids started coming to play, we decided to go back to the room and get my dad who was still in bed. We changed Kai into his bathing suit and water shoes and brought floaties, his hat, and beach towels.

Kai had so much fun playing in the kiddie pool area. There is a pink elephant water slide, and he loved sliding down and playing. He met this other boy named Eli who was exactly one year older than him. They both had a blast playing together…until….the other boy’s diaper started disintegrating. I guess he had on regular diapers, and it swelled up.

And, to top it off…he ended up having poop in it. So, we had to get Kai out of the pool and called a janitor to close the kiddie pool so they could clean it properly.

I hurried and took Kai back to the room to give him a proper shower. He peed in the toilet right away. He’s been doing very good at potty training. We are slowly, but surely getting there.

For dinner, we decided to go to Orchid Garden. Initially, we were going to make a reservation to Teppanaki, where you have to pay, but I didn’t think it would be worth it.

The Chinese food at Orchid Garden was sub-par. We ended up having to go to the buffet afterwards and getting something to eat. I also think it might have something to do with the fact that we had such food good a few nights ago in New York…but regardless we had fun because we were together.

DAY 4 – Last Day at Sea

Friday, 2/16 – Today is the last day we are at sea. We will arrive at St. Kitts tomorrow morning. Last night we crossed over into another time zone, so we turned our clocks forward an hour.

Kai woke up an hour early, but that worked out because of the time difference.

Today, we stuck to a similar routine. We ate breakfast. Then we walked upstairs to Deck 13 to play some basketball. But, there were some big kids there and the net was up for tennis, so there wasn’t a lot of room to run around.

Kai ended up just holding the ball and watching everyone play. Kai and I went downstairs while my mom participated in the poolside dance class.

I changed Kai into this bathing suit, picked my dad up, and we took the elevator back up to Deck 12, where my mom was still doing her class.

Then, I asked my mom to watch Kai while I checked on the tennis. I wanted to ask someone to play with me, but there was a whole family playing when I went up there. So I felt a little awkward asking. Maybe another day!

Kai played for about an hour in the kiddie pool with his little buddies. He loves it. I took him to pee and he went like a big kid. Then I took him down the BIG slide! He loved it.

After that, he ate some fruit and had some Cheerios. Then, I brought him downstairs for a shower, and then brought the stroller up to bring him to lunch. On the way, he looked like he was about to fall asleep, so I quickly grabbed a hot dog and fed him three bites. On his third bite, he slowly feel asleep. My mom made him drink some water in case he choked on the hot dog.

He passed out for an hour or so! Meanwhile, my mom and I planned what we wanted to do for our shore excursions. Want to read more about our shore excursions planning? Here’s the link!

Day 10 – Post PR Sea Day

Wednesday, 2/21 (afternoon/evening) – After we departed Puerto Rico, our ship has been picking up speed! It was a rough afternoon and evening. It was very windy and choppy out in the open ocean.

After we played in the pool with Kai, my mom helped me go back to the room with Kai’s stuff (like she normally does). We have always left my 78-year old father on Deck 12 and told me we would be back. My mom, Kai, and I went down to our room on Deck 9. I showered Kai. My mom was still in the room because she wanted to help. I asked her to go back up to check on my dad.

When we were finished with the shower, my mom came back down to the room and told me that my dad was no where to be found. Back at home, after my parents moved from NY to MA, my dad got lost once. Here is a little background information on my dad. He is 78 years old. For the past few years he has been suffering from some early stages of dementia.  We can all recognize these signs because my grandmother went through a similar stage in her life.

I have spoken to my mother numerous times about how we want to proceed with how we want my dad to live. My mom has come to the conclusion that she doesn’t want to get him checked by the doctors. She does not want to treat him by giving him medications to “slow down” the process. Based on our past experience with my grandmother, the medications, the various ones that were prescribed to her over the years, had changed her. There were some bad side effects. And, we don’t want to re-live that experience with my father.

Fast forward to semi-present time. My mom, Kai and I left the room with our walkie talkies in hand in search of my dad. I guess my mom left him up there for too long that he started to worry about where we all were.

After searching Deck 12 with no avail, I suggested we all go down to Guest Services on Deck 7. We filed a missing person report at the front desk. At that point, we were about to disembark from the port of San Juan in PR. Thank goodness we hadn’t given my dad his stateroom key card. Well, there were pros and cons if we decided to give him his own key card.

Pros: he would have known which stateroom/cabin we were staying in; we could easily locate him if he had made a purchase or gone to the casino to gamble; he would have his photo ID on him

Cons: he could have gone off the ship when we were docked (at any point); he could have gambled and lost a lot of money; he could have lost the keycard altogether

In the end we were glad we did not give him his keycard to hold onto. Because we were about to disembark, the extra security on board the ship wasn’t able to help us find him on board. The receptionist at Guest Services was very thorough when asking about my father’s description. She then spoke with the manager on staff who made a ship-wide announcement. They made the announcement in English and asked my dad to come down to Deck 7 (to Guest Services).

After they made the announcement, my mom went up to Deck 12. A few minutes later, she called me on my walkie talkie and told me she found him leaving the Deck 7 elevator. Thank the Lord he found his way and heard the announcement!

We were so thankful and happy we found him. Phew!

Day 11 – 1st Full Return Sea Day

Thursday, 2/22 – We have already been at sea for almost a day and a half. The weather still hasn’t been too great out there. My mother has been seasick and was last night. She slept a lot.

I brought Kai to dinner by myself last night because she wasn’t feeling too well.

This morning, we went out to a sit-down breakfast at the Grand Pacific, because we didn’t have to be anywhere. We didn’t have to rush this morning, since it was a full sea day. It was nice to just take our time with breakfast. After eating, we went to Guest Services again because my mom really needed some medicine for her sea sickness. She took the pill and within about a half an hour she started feeling better. Thank God for that!

Everyday since we have been able, I have brought Kai to the pool to play. He has enjoyed it so much! He especially enjoys playing and interacting with the other kids. Today, I decided to just stay in and relax, since we had done so much.

My mom stepped in and asked me why I didn’t want to take Kai to the pool. I told her that he looked tired. Even though he is on a nice schedule where he naps in the afternoon, he sometimes gets tired in the morning. And, today we went out to a sit-down breakfast, so he was looking to be a bit tired and ready for a nap. I was going to either relax with him in the room or take him for a walk in his stroller.

My mom offered to take him to the pool with my dad. At first I was hesitant, but after a while she convinced me.Kai will be two at the end of April. He is pretty tall for his age, and he is very fast! I really have to keep an eye on him. I was still a little against them taking Kai to the pool, but she insisted. She got him dressed for the pool, and Kai said bye to me. I did ask them to take the walkie talkie just in case.

I stayed in the cabin to start packing up my stuff. Maybe 25 minutes go by…and I get a call from my mom. She tells me that Kai is tired. I say okay. She asked me to come up to the kiddie pool on Deck 12 and that Kai hurt himself. I’m worried. I get frazzled relatively easily. And when I saw blood on his forehead, I was very angry.

I guess Kai had bumped his forehead when he was running around. He had a small open wound. No stitches were needed. I was freaking out though! I know my mom felt terrible. She obviously did not intentionally mean for him to get hurt.

After I gave him a shower, we took him to the doctor’s office down on Deck 4. The nurse asked my mom if we wanted to file a report with the cruise ship. We said no. Then she asked if we wanted to see the doctor. We asked the nurse for her opinion and she told us, by the looks of it, he seems to be okay. It is just a bump with a small open wound. I asked her if we needed to put a bandaid or anything on it. She said no. Just wash it with regular soap and water when we give him a bath and to leave it open. And it should go away. She said we could ice it, but it wasn’t necessary. I, of course, start crying. I don’t know why, but I just did. I guess I was just overwhelmed with my emotions.

I am a cryer. It was a scary situation because it’s never happened to me before. I guess I wish I had been there to see what actually happened. I think I blamed myself for not being there with him.

I’ve looked back on it, and I know it’s not any one person’s fault. I’m just happy that Kai is okay. Now my mother knows that when I tell her Kai is tired, she should understand that he should nap. Kai gets clumsy and overactive when he is overtired. He looks balance and starts knocking into things.

The rest of the day, my mom did not want to hang out with us. I think she might have been grieving or something. She was being very standoffish.

This day just couldn’t get any worse…

Well, it sort of did. That night Kai had a runny nose. That meant, he had somehow caught a cold :/

Day 11 – Last Sea Day

Friday, 2/23 – As suspected, Kai started coughing and his runny nose got worse throughout the day. He threw up his milk and food. His appetite went down. I didn’t give him Tylenol until we realized he had a slight fever that evening.

Poor kid.

I’m just glad we lasted this long before he got sick. We had done a lot. Gone from cold to warm to hot weather. Then back to cold weather. The cruise ship was completely full. There were people everywhere. Every meal was eaten “out,” yes on board the ship. We were still surrounded by A LOT of people.

Thankfully, today was our very last sea day.

I have to be honest in saying that it was a rough last day for me. Yes, the seas were calm again. But, I was roughing it with Kai.

He was sick and ended up throwing up because he was so stuffy:( I had to stop giving him milk. I felt bad because he was so miserable. Thankfully, I wasn’t sick so I took care of him.

That night, he woke up in the middle of the night with a fever, so I had to give him medicine.

We all made it through our sea days!

NYC to Ship

Cruise Ship: Norwegian Gem
Cruise Duration: Tuesday, 2/13 /18- Saturday, 2/24/18
Departure Port: Manhattan Cruise Terminal, New York, USA

IMG_7165

Getting there

We caught a taxi after we checked out of our NYC hotel. I was parked right outside of the parking lot for the cruise on level 3 of Pier 88. Its at 48th Street and 12th Ave. In order to get into the cruise parking lot you have to go to 55th and 12th. And when you go down the ramp past the security gate, it’s at 52nd and 12th. It worked out because I had a pretty great spot!

There was a lot of traffic just going from 52nd St and 8th Ave to 48th and 12th. Although I think our cab driver was very confused. He told me the entrance to drop passengers off was at 55th and 12th. Since I didn’t want my dad and Kai to walk far, I told him to drop us off at Pier 88.

He kind of took the long way because he went all the way to 55th from 52nd then went to 48th. He dropped us off across the street because cars aren’t allowed to pick up or drop off on the side were passengers were getting on and off the ship.

Checking in

We got there around 10:35am, and then I went and switched the luggage from the car. I also had to move my car into the lot. A really cute yellow lab inspected my car and let me park.

Thank goodness I bumped into a guy who had a luggage cart who helped me move the bags down to level 2.

Then we checked in our large luggage items, so we didn’t have to carry them.

IMG_7152

We waited in line. I guess Kai got really tired while we were walking because he passed out for an hour or so. He woke up right before we boarded the ship, and I had to run and take him to go pee. He’s been such a champ at his potty training! The only thing we need to work on is pooping on the potty.

Boarding

We were one of the first groups to board because my dad had a problem walking, so they gave us a yellow ticket for special assistance.

When we got on board, we hung out in the lobby on Deck 7. Then, we went upstairs to Deck 12. That’s were the Garden Cafe, the buffet, is located. They were already serving lots of food! And, there were so many people on board already!

My dad must have eaten three plates of food! His last plate was all fruit though.

Cabin

They made an announcement around 1 that all cabins were ready! So we made our way down to level 9. We got a Mid-Ship inside cabin which has a max occupancy of 4. We were surprised at how much stuff we could fit in here.

There are two twin beds and one fold-down bed and one pull out bed, so four beds in total. I took one bed for Kai and me (since we co-sleep at home anyways) and my mom took the other bed while my dad used the pull out bed.

There is no tub in our bathroom, but Kai loves playing with the shower head.

Kai loves interacting with people on the cruise.

Drill

There’s a mandatory drill on board the ship. It was at 3:30pm. Our group is G1, so it was located on Deck 6 (mid-ship). They gathered us into a room (Magenta restaurant) and demonstrated how to put on a life vest and what do to in an emergency. I have been on cruises before, but this was the first time we didn’t need to go outside for them to show us where the life boats were located for our assigned section.

Sailing out

I picked up some Dramamine for my mom and me. She took it around 5:30pm.

We left NY around 6pm, after we were able to watch a beautiful sunset.

Slowly all of our checked-in luggage items were delivered to our cabin. We unpacked everything after dinner.

My parents went to watch a show at 7:30 while I bathed Kai in the shower got him ready for bed.

My parents came back around 8:45pm and by then housekeeping had just come in to offer a turn down service. Kai was already sleeping so I refused but asked him to unlock the fridge for Kai’s milk.

Takeaways:

-check in your liquid beverages (they don’t let you carry on drinks of any kind)

-remember your cabin/room number (that’s what they use to identify yourself)

-look semi-presentable (they snap a picture of you for identification purposes and there’s a green screen if you want to purchase a group picture)

-don’t forget to bring your passports (if you are traveling internationally)

-bring a lanyard or something (they give you your own card for your room which acts as your key and charge card)

-be prepared to take a tour of the spa (if you want to enter a raffle)

-there is a special shopping coupon book you can get the first day (we got the papers in our cabin but didn’t take advantage)

-apparently you don’t have a bring a coat or jacket for the drill (you’re seated and inside the whole time)

 

Nostalgic New York

It’s been a few years since I have really visited my home state of New York.  Driving down the West Side Highway and through the streets really brought back lots of childhood memories. While I lived about an hour outside the city, I still have very detailed memories of it. When my parents had the restaurant, we used to drive into the city once a week to get food in Chinatown. I also used to have an internship in the city, near the Empire State Building.

This city is constantly busy and bustling!

We got here yesterday, and it was raining very badly. It was a tough, yet satisfying drive down here. I’m happy Kai got to take a nap after we grabbed lunch at Denny’s in CT.

Parking

Yes, we secured a parking spot at the Manhattan Cruise Terminal. However, I was unaware the max rate of $400 only applied to cars that arrived the morning of the cruise departure; not two days before. However, the guy I spoke with checked with his manager and we were all set to pay $400 and park there.

Downside: It’s just not in the locked section, because there are dogs that sniff your car and luggage when you depart for a cruise. Regardless, we were fine parking there. Here’s a picture of Kai going down the big elevator!

We just cabbed it from the cruise terminal to the hotel. It wasn’t far.

Flexibility

We had planned to take the subway, which was a few blocks from the hotel, to the restaurant for the party. However, the lines were down this weekend. They weren’t operating. We ended up only finding out about it when we got to the line, and some employees at the Sheraton informed us of this.

So we just ended up cabbing it. It was double the price, but we got there without any stress. And, the taxi cabs in New York City can transport kids without a carseat. I was unaware of Uber and Lyft drivers being able to do this. So, we just ended up taking a yellow taxi.

As we were driving to the restaurant, Kai saw a huge “The Lion King” sign for the play, and he yelled “LION!” Then he wanted to give the lion a sip of his apple juice 🙂

Let’s party!

We got to Bite of Hong Kong in Chinatown on Chrystie St. on time and got to celebrate my Uncle’s 70th birthday! Kai loved trying all of the different food. Uncle was so happily surprised to see most of us:)

Let’s explore!

The American Museum of Natural History has a suggested donation policy, if you go up to the cashiers in person. And, I have never been there before! It was fun for Kai to run around and explore.

He especially liked looking at the animal replicas and the dinosaur bones! We did get scolded by a custodian for eating in the museum, so just be aware there is a no-eating policy in the museum.

Rest time

After the museum, we went back to the hotel where it took Kai an hour to get settled for a 2-hour nap. Meanwhile I walked back to the cruise terminal parking lot to retrieve Kai’s coat.

We forgot to grab it from the car yesterday. I just walked on 52nd Street from 8th Avenue to 12th Avenue, so it wasn’t too far. I actually really enjoyed taking some time to myself.

There is a dog show going on at the terminal, so there were very well-groomed dogs in the elevator! And…lots of security.

Let’s eat and play!

After nap-time, we walked about 10 blocks! My dad has a bad knee but was able to walk since he pushed Kai in his stroller. We ended up taking a few nice pictures with some characters.

For dinner my parents treated us to some pizza and salad from Bella Vita. It was very tasty. We got a Greek salad and a small pepperoni pizza. They were both really tasty, and the portions were HUGE! We couldn’t finish all of it.

We walked from 43rd Street to 42nd Street, where Toys R Us was located! There is a play area for kids, so it was perfect for Kai. He loved playing with all of the toys. He loves Legos.

They even gave us free stuff: gold fish, apple juice, bottled water, and PJ masks!

By the end of the evening, we were tired so we just took a cab back to the hotel. Thanks for reading about our NYC adventure! We leave for our cruise today:) updates to come soon.

Caribbean Cruise for Four, Coming Right Up!

My parents have offered to take Kai and me on a vacation during Michael’s busy season. It was Michael’s suggestion for us to take a family trip since he is preoccupied. I’m so blessed he is giving us some time to get away from the cold weather up north.

Pre-departure Endorphins

Do you ever get that really excited feeling before you go on a trip? It’s the anticipation before departure and also venturing into the unknown. I’ve been on a travel prep high for about a month now. My endorphins are finally on full speed now that we leave tomorrow.

We are going away for two weeks! First to New York City on 2/11 for two nights then going on a cruise to the Eastern Caribbean from 2/13-2/24.

RushMyPassport.com_carribean

Celebrate

It worked out well because we are attending a family gathering. It’s supposed to be a surprise.

There’s a lot to celebrate during this getaway. My mom and dad got married on Valentine’s Day 36 years ago. Chinese New Year is on 2/16, and there is, of course, Valentine’s Day itself!

NYC Parking

Parking at the Manhattan Cruise Terminal is first come first serve with no reservations. The current rate iis $400 if it’s 10 or more days. So when we get there on Sunday, fingers crossed there will be an available spot. Our ship, the Norwegian Gem, doesn’t depart until Tuesday, 2/13.

NYC Hotel

I did some research and went with a hotel in Times Square North, near the southern part of Central Park. I chose this hotel because it is about a 16 minute walk to the cruise terminal and a 5 minute walk to the subway station. This is the exact train we take to the birthday dinner. We don’t have to transfer lines or anything. It’s a straight shot.

Cruise Prep – Toddler

This will be the first time Kai will be on a large cruise ship. While this is exciting, I also wanted to take some precautionary measures by calling his pediatrician and asking them some questions about sea sickness and shots, etc. They were very helpful, and I absolutely love his doctor! His doctor called and let me know that Kai will most likely not get sea sick if he does not currently get car sick, since he is still young. As for the shots, they informed us he was up to date on all of his immunizations and for us to just give the Travel Clinic a call.

I called the Travel Clinic at University Medicine in Providence, RI. The doctors there don’t give advice or consultations over the phone. The lady I spoke with informed me the consultation fee is $75 and that I would have to bring Kai there to meet with the doctors. That same day, they would give him any recommended immunizations.

After speaking with Michael and my parents, we decided against bringing him to the Travel Clinic. We figured the risks are all the same when traveling to the Caribbean.

Travel Prep – Adults

My parents and I packed for two separate trips, one for our 2-night NYC trip and one to bring with us on the cruise. We combined our NY trip stuff into one carry-on sized suitcase. We are simply going to leave that bag in the parked car before we embark on our cruise ship.

I’m bringing one large check-in sized suitcase for all of Kai’s and my stuff. And my parents are bringing two carry-on sized suitcases for the cruise. I’m also bringing an umbrella stroller for Kai just in case.

Walkie Talkies! Yes, I’m packing a set so my parents and me can communicate on the cruise ship. I’ll report back to see if the kind I bought on Amazon work well while aboard a cruise ship in middle of the ocean.

RushMyPassport.com_carribean More to come…

While we are in the city, I’m hoping to highlight our time there. And, once we are aboard our ship I plan to send more updates. Bye, for now.