Monday, December 15, 2014

Gluten Free Cheddar Biscuits (like Red Lobster!)

Many in our household have gone gluten free due to health issues and thankfully it hasn't been too much of a transition. We typically eat a whole foods diet anyway thanks to our garden we grow every year. I can & freeze our produce and cook most things from scratch, all while avoiding processed food.

Even still, there is always that longing for a delicious, warm roll or slice of bread. Thankfully, I've come across some great recipes using coconut flour, almond flour & flax meal, all of which are gluten free (and so much better for you than white flour!)

I was ecstatic the other day to try a new recipe that claimed it tasted just like Red Lobster's Cheddar Bay Biscuits. If you have ever eaten at Red Lobster, their endless biscuits are to die for! They are warm, soft & melt in your mouth.  BUT if you have issues with gluten, they are a HUGE no-no!

Gluten Free Biscuit, Trim Healthy Mama S

I am here to tell you, after I tweaked the recipe a little, the result was a biscuit that tastes almost IDENTICAL to Red Lobster's mouth watering biscuits and yes, they are GLUTEN FREE!!! YAY!!! I even gave a bite to my picky eating husband and he assumed it came from Red Lobster! Score!

Also, double bonus, if you follow Trim Healthy Mama, these biscuits would be an S.

Ok ok, I'll shut up now and give you the recipe!

  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup of coconut flour
  • 6 oz sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted (1 tablespoon reserved for brushing after)
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine coconut flour, baking powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs and butter until evenly distributed.
  4. Slowly incorporate the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until there are no lumps.
  5. Fold in the cheese.
  6. Drop spoonfuls of the batter onto a greased cookie sheet. (I made 9 biscuits)
  7. Bake for about 13 minutes until the edges of the biscuits are brown and the tops are golden.
  8. Brush top with additional melted butter out of the oven.

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Friday, December 12, 2014

Cruise Day 6- Antigua, November 6th

If you are just joining, catch up here to see what I am sharing about in the coming days & weeks!
-Day 1
-Day 2
-Day 3
-Day 4
-Day 5
Cruise Day 6, Antigua, Thursday November 6th

 We had a laid back morning today. Knowing we were only going to do a beach day, we didn’t rush off the ship when all was clear at 8am. We went down to the MDR for breakfast. While the buffet is nice for choices, I love being served in the MDR. Nothing like being poured a cup of coffee right after sitting down and having someone waiting on you! For the record, I had Asian inspired scrambled eggs that had shrimp & stir fried veggies in it (with a side of bacon I asked for).

After breakfast, we came up to the room to finish getting stuff together. I have a small cooler backpack that we put in yogurt & cheese to take on shore for a small snack around lunch time. We also take with us a few single serving boxes of cereal for the littles for a quick snack (all things we get from the Windjammer). Each of us fills up a bottle of water as well to carry with us.
Millers by the Sea Beach

We weren't sure which beach we wanted to visit. This was our 3rd trip to Antigua and we have gone to 2 different beaches so far. Antigua is known for its 365 beaches. We debated about which one to check out this time and after talking to a local, we decided just to go to the beach we were at last in 2010 (when I was about 8 weeks pregnant with Olivia, so I guess “technically” she was here before, HA!)
The water in the Caribbean is simply breath taking!

Millers by the Sea is only about a 5 minute drive from the port. Around 9:30, we caught a cab, better known as an old jalopy van that looked like it was held together by duct tape, to head to the beach.

You can't make this stuff up people!

 I had forgotten that the islanders drive on the other side of the road here. If the road has a bend where you can’t see around it, they honk to warn oncoming vehicles they were coming around the corner. Needless to say a few times I could've reached out the window to hi five the passing vehicle! Yeah we were that close!
A family vacation just isn't the same without our precious Noah

Once we got to the beach, I was surprised to see the amount of people here. When we were here 4 years ago, there were barely 20 people besides us there as it was a little known beach. Now it appears the ship brings tours here. It still wasn't crowded but had more people than we expected.

The beach didn't disappoint though! The sand was perfectly soft, no rocks or shells as you went out in the water. There were a few waves but if you go just past the break, you could easily stand and be lifted with the roll of the water and not get tossed by waves. And the color, oh goodness the aqua colors that radiated especially when the sun hit it! This by far is one of our favorite beaches because of the beautiful water! You can go super deep and still see your feet, clear as day! And the temp of the water felt like bath water! You know how typically you have to get used to pool water or the ocean? Nope, you could just walk right into the water here up to your neck and it felt amazing!!! We were blessed with a beautiful day. The sun was in and out (probably good it wasn't always out to help prevent us from getting burnt).

My 7 children!

A guy taking some horses for a swim

Despite this island having such beautiful beaches, you can’t help but be sobered by the obvious poverty that you can see everywhere. Just in the short jaunt to & from the beach, there is so many run down & broken houses, trash piles, stray dogs running around and people who look desolate. I've heard from others that if it wasn't for cruise ships coming to their island, they would be even worse off than they are. This goes for many of the Caribbean islands we have visited. Their beaches are amazing but outside of that, your heart just aches for so many that you see.

The kids and I in front of our ship

We got back to the port about 2:30 and ran into some friends who have basically adopted the kids as their grandkids. They took the girls into a shop and bought them some hair clips that turn color in the sun (the shop is called Del Sol, apparently found on most islands). Once back to the ship, it was time to get everyone showered and a snack for the little ones. 
A view of Antigua from the ship at sail away

My 2 littles dressed for dinner watching sail away

Sun setting as we leave Antigua

A rare photo of me dressed for dinner at sail away!

We dressed for dinner and took the littles up to deck 12 to watch sail away under the setting sun then headed to dinner where we found our loaf of challah bread awaiting. It tastes especially good dipped in honey!

My ceviche

Tonight they had ceviche as one of the appetizers (the options change every night) so I ordered 2 as I love ceviche! I was introduced to it when I lived in Peru. Our friends sent us over 2 appetizers of garlic scallops as well. We didn't stay for dessert tonight and typically we don’t. Yes we are the crazy family who doesn't eat a ton of sweets.

The towel animal our room attendant left us

Tomorrow we have the only tour we have planned this cruise. We are taking a land & sea tour of St Lucia, our 1st time to this island. Pray for our safety as we travel all over this island in an almost 7 hr tour and like the title states, we will be on both land by van and on a boat by sea.

Port time keeps me hopping so that is why emails are a little delayed. Hope everyone is having a great week!
All photos can be clicked on to enlarge. The photos I am sharing are a combination of ones I took as well as my kids and husband on a variety of cameras and iPhones, hence the varying quality.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Cruise Day 5-St Maarten, November 5th

If you are just joining, catch up here to see what I am sharing about in the coming days & weeks!
-Day 1
-Day 2
-Day 3
-Day 4

Cruise Day 5, St. Maarten, Tuesday November 5th

 This morning when we woke up, we were greeted with glorious sunlight!!! (that is, once we went up on deck as our rooms are pitch black without light, ha!) We weren't supposed to dock until 9am but were given the all clear announcement at 8:30am that we could go ashore. I had packed what I could for the beach the night before and finished up this morning.

The massive Oasis of the Seas

There were a total of 5 ships in port today which totaled about 18,000 people! I was glad we were able to go on shore before the Oasis of the Seas, one of Royal Caribbean’s mega ships! We headed to the taxi area as we knew what beach we wanted to go to. While this was our 4th time to St. Maarten, on our 2nd trip to St. Maarten in 2010, a couple told us about a little known beach that is perfect for the kids so ever since, we've been going to Le Galion every time we visit St. Maarten.
We were in a taxi and on our way to the beach by 9:05am!

 It was a balmy 85 degrees by this point in time. The drive there is about 15 minutes long. Our driver was chatty and was filling us in on some facts about the island. We technically visited 2 countries today. Our ship docked in St. Maarten which is governed by the Dutch. The beach we went to is in St. Marten and governed by the French. He went on to list the differences between the countries such as how they are able to travel between both without needing documentation and how Burger King is allowed on the Dutch side but not the French. The Dutch side’s electric is 220 amp while the French side is 110. He said calling between the 2 countries consists of international calling! The entire size of the island that contains both countries is super tiny so these differences seem so funny (seriously, Lancaster county is probably bigger than this island with both countries!)

We arrived at Le Galion beach a little before 9:30. There were only about 5 people there. In fact, we weren't sure if the facilities were open as they had gotten hit with a tropical storm just a few weeks prior. Kevin went to ask and found out that while their phone & credit card system was down, the tiny restaurant & bathrooms were open. Our taxi driver offered to pick us up at a designated time so we told him 2:30.
We found a small, shaded area under a palm tree, which I believe is the same place we set up last time we were here in 2012. 

My 2 little girls & I

Our driver had told us they just had 3 inches of rain the night before & morning of our arrival which explained why there was a ton of seaweed washed up on shore. The typically clear, blue water was also quite murky due to the heavy rain they had. That was a little disappointing. We love this beach for its calmness. There is a coral reef located way out in the distance that breaks the waves so all we get at this beach is a slight movement of water, perfect for the little ones!

Ava & Olivia right before we left the beach

Ava wasn't sure at first what to make of the water but by the afternoon, she would willingly run into it and wanted to stay and play in it. The day was beautiful and we had a nice, strong breeze that kept us from getting too hot. Our driver showed up around 2:30 and we headed back to the ship. By this time, the temp was about 89!!
This was a special tent & blow up pool I brought with us. It folded very compact into a tiny carry bag but I figured this would come in handy on beaches for the littles to give them a way to play in water & protect them from the sun.

Long hike back to our ship which was the furthest one out.  You can see Ava's leg off to my right side. Lucky girl got to ride it out in the sling on me!

 When it came time for dinner, we headed down to our assigned table on deck 4. As we walked in to the MDR, our head waiter (Olivia’s buddy Dario) was greeting everyone. Even though he was talking to someone, he stopped midsentence to say hi to Olivia. She shyly waved hi and continued to look at him as she walked forward. While she watched him, she walked smack into the hand sanitizer machine!!! Everyone in the area chuckled including Dario (he later came to make sure she was ok).

Our view from our ship.
Friends of ours have a table not far from us in the MDR so we occasionally chat with each other. The night before, as we stopped to say goodnight on our way out, they had us try a piece of challah bread they had custom ordered from the kitchen (handmade of course). We told them how we really liked it and next thing we knew, they told our headwaiter we wanted a loaf of it every night!! HA So guess what came to our table tonight, yup, a hand braided loaf of challah!!

Homemade olive tapenade is in the bottom right corner of the pic

 The kids all said they do prefer this to the roll basket that came around each night. It’s true that you can seriously order whatever your heart desires and the kitchen staff does their best to fulfill all requests! In fact, one night escargot is typically offered as an appetizer. It hasn't been on the menu yet though our friends have been ordering it occasionally. Last night they sent 2 appetizers of it our way!!! Yup, this gal ate almost all of it (ok, I did share some of it with the kids!) The kids have been spoiled with chocolate milk whenever their hearts desired! (a rare treat as we never have it at home!)

Our evening ended with the older kids hanging out in teen club while Kevin & I walked the little ones outside on the upper deck under a bright, full moon that lit up the ocean! 

This is looking up at Dizzy's (which is in the center) & the girls play area which is to the right of the glass windows.

This is looking from Dizzy's down onto the pools & hot tubs.

Beautiful full moon out over the ocean.

Just to compare the beach from 2 different trips here:

Beautiful clear water

The exact same view after a massive rain storm that washed up tons of seaweed.

This is still our favorite beach at St Maarten. 3 times here and this was the first time we had to deal with murky, seaweed filled water.

You can read about one of our other trips to St Maarten here.
All photos can be clicked on to enlarge. The photos I am sharing are a combination of ones I took as well as my kids and husband on a variety of cameras and iPhones, hence the varying quality.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Cruise Day 4- November 4th

If you are just joining, catch up here to see what I am sharing about in the coming days & weeks!
-Day 1
-Day 2
-Day 3

Cruise Day 4, Tuesday November 4th

As I left off on my last message, I was up early this morning. I debated about going out on deck to see if I could watch the sunrise, but I hadn’t laid out my clothes the night before so I didn’t want to chance waking anyone. Good thing I didn’t bother as once we walked to breakfast, we could see it was very overcast out unfortunately.

We had another leisurely breakfast in the MDR. Olivia’s buddy from Croatia made sure he came by to wait on her and cut up her French toast! During our meal, we had 3 different ladies who came up to us to inquire if I was the gal from our roll call with all the kids. So it was nice to meet in person a few more people with whom I've chatted with online for many months. One of the ladies was a former homeschooling mom even (hers are since graduated).

There is a small window that passengers can look down on the bridge of the ship (where the ship is steered from). You can see the helipad in the front windows below the bridge.

After breakfast, we took Ava & Olivia up to their playroom on the 14th floor as the gal in charge of their activities said she was going to do another craft with them today.  When they were done with the craft, she continued to play with them for about half an hour which was nice. During this time, the skies opened up and just started drenching the ship. At one point, Olivia stood on a chair in front of the big windows and said look, there’s water leaking. The gal overseeing them took a look and sure enough, there was a leak so she called maintenance that quickly came up to clean it up. The captain shared that the weather will remain like this for all of today sadly. So ya’ll should feel better we aren't soaking up any sun today (but it IS 72 degrees out! Ha)

Since it was raining, we were limited in what we could do with the little ones. The older kids headed to teen club so we just stayed in the playroom for a while. I went and got us some hot tea to bring up to the playroom and then read a magazine. I get a bunch of magazines free but rarely have time to read them at home so I stockpiled them and brought them along. Then I can throw the magazines away as I read them.

A view of the promenade that goes down the center of the ship.

Eventually we went for a walk all over the ship. I could see Ava was getting sleepy. Not surprising as she was up for the day around 6:50. We went to the Windjammer and grabbed some lunch to take back to the room for the girls. I was hoping that feeding them in a quieter environment would help chill them out to prep them for naps.

As I currently write at 1:30pm my time, BOTH little ones are OUT, woohoo!!! I nursed Ava & laid her down in her pack’n’play in our room then I cuddle up with Olivia to watch a movie on tv in the connecting room and she fell asleep. I am hoping Ava gets a good nap in as lately she has only napped in her stroller for short periods of time. While it stinks not being able to do much as I am limited in my room with a nightlight, and tv with Food Network on mute, I am using this time to journal and ordering room service for my lunch! Hey why not, it’s free so this momma might as well make the most of her alone time and eat in PEACE! lol Honey stung chicken & ranch dipping sauce, a side of sweet potato wedges as well as some spinach & artichoke dip, yum!

A photo of my food. Remember, I only had the light of the tv hence the dark pic! lol

Ava ended up sleeping almost 3 hours and Olivia slept about an hour and a half!!! Olivia & I spent some cuddle time together when she woke up while we waited for Ava to wake up. 
Olivia & I cuddling waiting for Ava to wake up.

About this time, we had asked the older kids to come back from clubs so they could babysit as our roll call was doing a group game that we wanted to participate in as we haven't done any activities since being on board. We had about 50 adults involved and our game had us going all over the ship. I came close to winning the game but lost. We had a great time though connecting with many and it was nice to have some adult time! I was busy with helping to run the game so I hadn't taken any pics. I asked around if anyone had taken any but seems like we were all having too much fun to remember to take any! By the time the game ended, it was almost time for dinner so we headed back to the room to get ready.

The only photos I seem to have of myself from the trip are the few selfies I took to prove I was actually there, ha! This is before dinner.

Unfortunately it was still raining so we didn't see any sunset from our dinner table tonight. After dinner, the older kids headed to clubs and I worked on packing our beach bag as tomorrow we FINALLY see land for the first time since Saturday! We will be visiting St. Maarten which is our 4th time there (though it will be Ava’s first time on a beach ever!)

My delicious seafood appetizer

To entertain the littles tonight, Kevin & I went walking out on the promenade with them. We got stopped by 2 older gentlemen who asked to talk to us. The one man said he had wanted to talk to us for a while. Of course, then I started thinking uh-oh.  He stated that they sit 2 tables over from us during dinner and they noticed how well behaved our children are and he wanted to thank us for that. Both the men said they raised families and realize how tough that can be and they wanted to encourage us in that we are doing a good job and are thankful to see well behaved kids. Wow! It brought tears to my eyes and I was so blessed by their encouragement. Ava has struggled to sit through dinner some evenings and if she gets too antsy, we do remove her & walk around and I admit I was afraid those around us might mind this.

A photo of food in the windjammer. Every once in a while you see a creative food sculpture on display!

Once we got back from our walk, I went to the Windjammer to get Ava & Olivia a little snack. As much as I fought it, I got a few pieces of sushi. Again. HA!!! I pretty much avoid the elevator and walk many flights up & down each day. Just so I can splurge on the sushi! J
All photos can be clicked on to enlarge. The photos I am sharing are a combination of ones I took as well as my kids and husband on a variety of cameras and iPhones, hence the varying quality.

FarFaria App Review and Giveaway!

We love to read in our house and can be frequently found at the library checking out books. I admit though that for myself, I do a lot of reading using my Kindle app instead of regular books so I was tickled to recently be given a chance to review a storytime app made just for kids! 

FarFaria is an app made for iPad, iPhone and Android devices that contains books for kids ages 2-9. There are over 800 books available with 5 new books added each week.

FarFaria App

When you start the app, you are on the home screen that shows what you recently read as well as a list of new books that were added, popular books and even a book club section where you can connect with other families to see what their favorite books are. If you don't see what you are looking for here, you have the ability to search for books as well.

There is also another section called explore. This brings up a colorful map that lists 11 different areas you can visit:
  • Mt. Make Believe
  • Animal Kingdom
  • Adventure Island
  • Fairy Tale Falls
  • Bedtime Bluffs
  • Preschool Playground
  • Goodland
  • Looney Lagoon
  • Classics Grove
  • Genius Jungle
  • Sing Along City

In each area, you'll find books that go along with the theme of each "world" (such as Preschool Playground has all books geared towards preschoolers). Once you select which world you want to visit, a whole bunch of book covers with their titles are displayed. You can scroll through till you find the book that you want to read or you can choose to sort the books alphabetically by title, most popular, newest or by reading level.

I found it really helpful that each book has a little letter in the bottom right hand corner that tells you what reading level that book is on, from Pre-K up to 4th grade. There is a special parents section on this app that explains each individual reading level (you have to enter your birth year to get into the parent section so this keeps little ones from messing up account settings!)

When you finally choose a book to read, you have 3 ways you can choose to read the book. You can read it yourself, have the book read to you (though you still have to turn the pages) or you can have the book autoplay where it reads to you and turns the pages. During the autoplay mode, each word is highlighted blue as it is being read which makes it great for children to follow along with.

The books are read very enthusiastically, even having different voices & inflections when characters are speaking during the story! I found this helped keep  my little ones interest as the stories were being read.

You can also choose to "favorite" a book so it can be read offline when your device does not have internet connection.

Overall, I think this is well designed app for children with it's colorful graphics and the huge variety of books to choose from. It's very easy for even a preschooler to use and I love the convenience of having hundreds of books right at our fingertips. Using this app is also very handy when it comes to traveling as it can keep a child's attention for a long time, all without having to pack extra books along. One of my girls favorite sections was the Sing Along City where many songs are actually sung with music such as Old MacDonald, 6 Little Ducks, Away in a Manger, Yankee Doodle, etc!

You can download the app for free from the App Store or Google Play. Under the free option, you can read one book a day or for unlimited access, there is a monthly fee of $4.99.

You can connect with FarFaria on:

I was provided a free subscription of this product in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions expressed are my own.

FarFaria is giving one of my readers the chance to win a 
FREE 3 month unlimited subscription!!!

Giveaway ends Thursday December 11th at 11:59pm

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Cruise Day 3- November 3rd

If you are just joining, catch up here to see what I am sharing about in the coming days & weeks!
-Day 1
-Day 2

 Cruise Day 3, Monday, November 3

 Thankfully our night last night was much smoother both in sleep & sea! We decided we wanted to go to MDR for breakfast (the other alternative is Windjammer which is buffet style, MDR, you are waited on). Our wonderful head waiter from our evening dinner made it a point to serve us this morning. He got the kids chocolate milk, made sure Sarah got whatever she wanted gluten free and again, he cut up Olivia’s meal when it came. When it came time to order, Olivia said she wanted pancakes & bacon. The gal taking the order said you want pancakes? Olivia said AND I want bacon please! HA I had a delicious made to order omelet.

Olivia's "buddy" Dario cutting her food again!

 After breakfast the 3 older girls took off for teen club. I headed up to our little private play area with Ava & Olivia to continue to journal our trip while they played. When we got to the play area, there was a gal there who apparently organizes activities for the little ones 3 & under. I asked her if there were others Ava & Olivia's ages, she said nope, they are the only ones I get to work with. Well, sheesh, I wish I had known she was there waiting for us as we would've came up sooner. So now on sea days, I will make it a point to get the girls up there with her for fun activities just for them!

Craft project the girls leader was doing with them. Painting a dinosaur!

Amazing how they set up all this stuff in the room despite my girls being the only 2 on board to qualify for this stuff! (The toys get set up every morning then cleaned and put away around 4pm). She stayed a little bit and played with them while Erik & Kevin went to play some ping pong (I have to stay with the girls and can't leave them like you can do in the older kids clubs).

Olivia looking down on the deck from the play area

We finally saw the sun out later morning!! At lunch time, it was a balmy 70 out!! The captain announced at lunch time that we had traveled 700 miles so far and were currently sitting at a depth of 17,000 feet of ocean!! Unfathomable! Since the girls were off on their own, the rest of us went and had lunch. I've heard of kimchi before but never tried it until today! It was really good! It’s supposed to have a lot of health benefits (it was also spicy which I loved!)

Olivia jumped into Ava's highchair for a hug after lunch

After lunch, Kevin & Erik took Olivia to the kiddie pool & waterslide and I packed up Ava in the stroller and went out to the walking deck in hopes of walking her to sleep. The sun felt amazing and after 3 laps, Ava fell asleep! I headed towards the back of the ship to watch Olivia going down the water slide and play in the kiddie pool. It’s kind of funny, most of our cruises, you would find all the pool chairs taken but I think since this is an older crowd, many of them can’t be in the heat or sun so I imagine we won't have trouble finding a sunny deck chair!

A peek of the water slide, kiddie pool and kiddie "hot tub" (that was the same temp as the pool but bubbled)

Olivia at the back of the ship with the wake in the background

When Ava woke up, we swapped out and Kevin took the girls to the playroom while I finally got a few minutes to myself. That of course is when some of ya’ll finally received my first email update, ha!! (don’t you feel special I used my alone time for you guys!) After emailing, I went outside and found a lounger to read on for a while. Being outside reading felt amazing!

Earlier today, we inquired if Erik can join the teen club and they made an exception which is rare to be honest. He was SO excited to finally have activities he can do! The girls have loved the teen club. There are about 8 kids who regularly participate and they have become good friends. In fact, unless we happen to run into the girls throughout the ship, we had not seen them all day until it was time to get ready for dinner! They play group games both in the teen lounge as well as outside on the activities deck. The leaders also organize fun activities like a ship wide scavenger hunt, hide & seek, etc. A couple of the other teens are also homeschooled. They made friends with someone who doesn't live far from us in West Chester. Some of the teens are from overseas like Denmark, yet my kids said everyone is polite and gets along really well. My kids are very impressed (& thankful!) that there are no cliques! 

The above 3 photos are pics of the teen club area

Since it was a sunny day today, we finally had the privilege of watching the sunset from our dining room table during dinner. Not only do we have a huge window beside us, but right behind us is also another window that opens to the whole deck 4 (so 2 sides of our table has windows). 

We noticed today that there are still fans on 2 decks drying out the carpet from that rogue wave that hit. I can't even imagine what that wave of water looked like when it came pouring in! There is still 1 elevator that is still down but the rest in the back of the ship are reopened. I guess it’s a good thing that it happened at night when not many people would've been out there.

After dinner, we headed back to the room and the kids headed out to see what the evening activities were for the teens. Ava & Olivia were about ready for bed until Olivia decided she was hungry so I took her up to the buffet and she decided to get some spaghetti (at almost 9pm!) I picked up a few pieces of sushi and we took our snacks back to our room. Hannah decided to stay back tonight so she and Olivia rented a movie using our free certificate we got (and yes she surprisingly ate all her spaghetti!) So Kevin & I also used our free movie to rent one while I ate my snack (though I admittedly fell asleep during the movie and am now finishing up this trip report at 4am since I am wide awake!)

As you can tell, sea days are quite relaxing. You can do as much or as little as you would like. Each evening, we receive a cruise compass that lists all the activities that are going on as well as the times & locations for the next day. There is literally something going on from as early as 6am all the way till 1am. In the past, we've participated in a lot of those activities (ice shows as there is an ice skating rink, theater productions, etc) but with the 2 little ones, it makes it tougher to do some of those activities so this trip is a bit more laid back in that aspect. It also is our 4th time on this ship and things like the ice show are the exact same shows we've seen before. I just wanted to preface why you might not hear me talking about shows, late night buffets, etc.
Just a glimpse of one cruise compass. It has several pages of info besides the daily schedule.

All photos can be clicked on to enlarge. The photos I am sharing are a combination of ones I took as well as my kids and husband on a variety of cameras and iPhones, hence the varying quality.

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