Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Off to the Caribbean!

Where to start? We have so much to blog about right now. From our beach trip to Graci’s girl’s camp experience to the cruise we’ve got about 1000 pictures we could share! I guess I’ll start with the most recent adventure: Graci’s Make-a-Wish Cruise.

Wonderful. Amazing. Relaxing. Incredible. Awesome. Magical. Unbelievable. Beautiful. These are just a few of the glowing adjectives I could use to write about our experience this last week. Thank you, Thank you, THANK YOU, Make-a-Wish, for this special opportunity. At one point during the trip I looked at Christi and said: “I feel guilty that this is all being provided for us free of charge.” Christi responded by saying, “Kent (one of Graci’s wish grantors) said that if we feel guilty he has not done his job.” What wonderful people. What a wonderful organization. As I thought more about it, I was able to see that this trip wasn’t about me -- it was about Graci. And it has been such an uplifting experience for her. The more I thought about that, the more I realized that I didn’t need to feel guilty. This has blessed Graci’s life in amazing ways.

The first day of our trip we flew from Salt Lake to Orlando (non-stop, I might add – a big plus for a BIG family). We had reservations for the Hyatt hotel at the Orlando airport. We had pictured taking a shuttle bus from the airport to the nearby hotel. But when they call this the airport Hyatt, they mean AT the airport. We literally walked 30 feet out of the secure area, went up an escalator and checked in☺. Very relaxing! We walked around the airport and found a Harley Davidson and some Disney characters we could pose with. (I keep trying to convince Christi to put a Harley Davidson in our garage for me to pose with, but no luck so far☹.)

The next day the magic really began. We caught the Disney shuttle from the airport to Port Canaveral, where the ship was docked. During the 45-minute ride, a video played that gave us a preview of what to expect during our cruise. You can see that the kids were quite delighted with what they saw.

At the port, we got to take a picture with Minnie Mouse in front of a replica of the Disney Wonder (the name of our cruise ship).

As we walked on the ship, there was an announcer that said over the loudspeakers, “Welcome Green family to the Disney Wonder.” We went to deck 9 to eat lunch. This was our first experience with the all-you-can-eat smorgasbord that is cruise dining. (You don’t even want to know how many pounds I gained in those 4 days!!!) After lunch we found our way to our staterooms and Graci’s first Make-a-Wish surprise. In her room, she found “Captain Mickey.”

As you see more of our pictures, you will notice that she did not put Mickey down pretty much the entire trip.

That day we went swimming, saw the Disney characters put on a “sail-away” show, introduced the children to the “kids club” and the arcade and basically had a great time.

Dinner that night was in Parrot Cay, a restaurant with a tropical atmosphere. They do a really fun thing for the dinners each night. Each family rotates through three different restaurants, one per night, but your servers rotate with you, so you have the same servers each night. Our servers were Violetta and Andy. They were great, and they got to know us quite well. They knew what drinks each of us liked. They knew I liked seafood and Christi liked her meat well done. They figured out that Parker can be dangerous around glass cups, so they gave him plastic ones☺. It is a fun way to enjoy your meals.

We were just getting settled in, but we already had a feel for what a great trip this would be. Christi and I loved that we could check the little kids into kids club and then take a moonlit walk around the top deck. The littles loved kids club (most of the time☺). And the older kids loved the independence of it all. They were able to check in and out of kids club on their own, visit the arcade or go swimming while watching a Disney movie on the giant outdoor video screen. We all loved it.

I’m still catching up on the sleep I missed while enjoying all the ship had to offer, so I’m going to quit for now. We are truly blessed!