Tuesday Nov 30th, Day 3

Today was another relaxing sea day. After breakfast, I took the girls up to one of the lounges overlooking the ocean. A friend from our roll call offered to teach the girls how to knit. They had a blast learning and have been working at it different times throughout today. Kevin and Erik spent time playing some card games and ping pong while the girls were being taught.

We took a walk outside and realized just how nice it was out. We had a high of 77 today although it was pretty breezy. The kids played a round of mini golf, then they decided it was warm enough to swim so we got changed and headed to the kiddie pool. They swam while I laid out on a chair soaking up the sun and reading.

We spent a good amount of outside enjoying the weather.

Erik had been pesting all morning to go rock climbing so we went to check it out. They decided to give it a try. They had to put on special shoes, a harness and a helmet. The guy that was their anchor was having a ball with them. It was so cute to watch them scale up the wall and ring the bell. Though once Hannah got high up, you could see by the look on her face she realized just how high up she was!

We headed up to Dizzys to sit and relax a little before dinner. We got to watch the sun set from here which was really neat. The girls worked on their knitting, the guys played card games & I read.

Our waiter and waitress at dinner have really gotten to know the kids preferences already. Not long after sitting down, they were brought chocolate milk in fancy glasses. They are loving their chocolate milk. I said enjoy it now as it’s a rare treat at home! LOL Erik had asked for jello the 2 previous nights for dessert. Tonight we weren’t very hungry and decided to skip dessert. Well, the waitress couldn’t see sending the kids off without anything, so she brought out a covered plate for us to take to the room with 4 dishes of jello!!

Everyone is pretty tired tonight so we’ve just been chilling in the room, girls knitting, watching a movie while I write out my update.

We’ve been fortunate to have had pretty smooth seas. Especially compared to last time we did this. We had hit a nor’easter 2 yrs ago and had 20-30ft swells for 2 days. The highest waves we’ve had today were 7 ft. We are over a very deep part of the ocean at 16,000 feet deep. Our current location as I’m writing is southwest of the Bahamas. Tomorrow we finally hit land for the first time. We are going to Royal Caribbeans private beach in Labadee Haiti.

I’m including a picture from today of the kids standing by the back of the ship near the kiddie pool. You can see the ships wake in the background.

Until next time……


Monday November 29, Day 2

This morning the kids woke up early I’m guessing because they went to bed early last night. Just like at home, I slept like crap again. Hoping once I get out in that warm sun, that will tire me out a bit. We headed up to the Windjammer for breakfast around 8:30. We were due to meet in Majaharas lounge at 10am for our “meet & mingle”. Several years ago I found a website for cruisers (cruise critic.com) and on there, there is a forum that you can find your ship name & sail date & meet others you will be sailing with. I had a good experience with it 2yrs ago, so several months ago I joined our current cruising group. So that’s what this get together was. The ship sponsored this activity for those of us who met online.

We got a little travel gift thing from the cruiseline when we got there (a little tablet & pen that can hang around your neck). Then all our names were put into a bucket for some prizes they were drawing for. Some were goofy gifts like a hat, others were bottles of wine (which would’ve been funny if the kids names were drawn! Our kids were the only kids there) One of the gifts they had was a $50 credit for internet time. Didn’t Kevin win that! Woohoo! I hadn’t yet bought our internet minutes so that was perfect. Speaking of internet, it took me forever to get my first update sent out because however their server is set up, it wouldn’t let me send my mass email group that I had set up & working while at home. I had to go back in and make about 10 smaller groupings of email addresses and it FINALLY sent! (yes, in the wee hours of the morning because my wonderful insomnia kept me up yet again. Grrr)

It was nice to finally put a face to a name after talking online for several months. After we left the get together, the kids wanted to get hot chocolate (again lol). Kevin took them up to Dizzys (on the 14th deck) and they took some card games up to play while I went to guest relations to use my internet gift certificate as well as make sure our room keys & on board credit were all set up correctly. I then headed up to join then in Dizzys to read for awhile.

After lunch, we walked outside for a bit on the upper deck. The temp wasn’t too bad but it was still on the cooler side & breezy. About this point in time, we were across from South Carolina. The kids then wanted to go up to the kids club. Kevin went and watched a movie in Dizzys & I worked on downloading pics to the computer & trying to get my update to send. Tonight was our first formal dinner so I knew I needed plenty of time to get the kids & myself ready.

The girls all wanted up-do’s so I spent time curling their hair. Ok so I spent a good hour just doing their hair. And then I had to do mine. The girls all wore matching black & white dresses and Erik was in a tux. They looked SO incredibly adorable! The entire way to the dining room, they were turning heads and getting compliments. People were coming up to them & giving Erik hi fives & shaking his hand. The kids actually enjoy dressing up so no, this was not torture for them.


Tonight, Erik ordered escargot for his appetizer as did I. I had this 2yrs ago and knew I liked it. Sarah & Susan also tried it as well. They knew what it was from the last time as I hadn’t told them it was snails until after they ate it! lol Erik & Hannah ordered roasted duck for their main entrée & they really enjoyed it. Sarah & Susan had filet of beef. It was neat seeing so many people all decked out.

After dinner, it was the captains welcome aboard party in the royal promenade where we got to meet a lot of the different heads of departments.

From here, we headed to the Palace which is a huge theater that is several decks high & can seat a couple hundred people. You’d never know you were on a ship when you’re sitting in here. Tonights performance was Vibeology. (this started at 9pm)

After that, we made our way to the room. The kids were tired, but they did so great this evening handling all the extra attention that was thrown their way as well as all the pictures they had taken.

I’m looking forward to tomorrow when we’ll have warm temps and can hang out outside!!

Sunday November 28

We left the house at 7:50 this morning. The kids were up early & ready to leave by 7am! GPS said it would take 2 hrs & 50 min to get to the port, we were pulling in about 10:10am. We sailed this same ship out of this port 2yrs ago so we had a good idea of what to do this time which made a big difference on how smooth it all went. We beat the onslaught of traffic and got our luggage dropped off in no time. It didn’t take too long to check in and by 11:15, we were sitting in the terminal waiting to board the ship.

The kids were given their emergency bracelets while we waited. If the kids are in the kids club and an emergency comes up where we need to get to our muster station (to board a life boat), the employees will bring the kids to meet us there. They have to wear the bracelets the entire cruise. So if you see bright blue bracelets in pictures, that’s what those are for. I inquired about how many kids are onboard this sailing, and they said only 55 and about 40 are in their age group with the rest being younger. Out of approximately 3,000 people onboard, that’s not too many kids. The sailing before us, which was the Thanksgiving Day cruise, there was close to 1,000 kids. Needless to say we prefer this time of year to cruise. The kids get SO much attention from everyone, they love it!

Around noon our number was called, and off to the ship we went. We boarded with no problems and headed up to deck 11 to the Windjammer, which is a huge buffet, to get some lunch(there’s a total of 15 decks onboard). Our port (Bayonne, NJ) is located right by the New York border so as we sat eating lunch, we had a view of the Statue of Liberty & the New York City skyline.

The last time we were on this ship, we met some neat people & kept in contact with them the last 2yrs. And it turned out, a bunch of them were also going to be on this sailing again. So it didn’t take too long until we met up with several of them. I also had belonged to an online group of people that I met several months ago, who were also going to be on this sailing so around 2:30, a bunch of us met up Schooners lounge to say hi in person finally.

At 3:15 we had our emergency muster drill where we had to go to our assigned stations & so we would know where to meet in case of emergency. After we were done here, we went back to our room to get our coats. We decided to go out on deck for sailaway. The last time we left this port, we had horrible weather. Today was cold but gorgeous outside.

Part of the excitement of being on deck for sailaway is going underneath the Veranzzano bridge. The ship looks like it’s going to hit it as the clearance is only about 6ft below the bridge. So we got some neat pics of that as we went under. Then we headed inside to warm up.

By this point, we had all our luggage except for the suitcase with mine & Kevin’s clothes, which made me a little nervous. I worked on unpacking before we headed to dinner. Right as we were leaving, our suitcase showed up & I finally felt I could relax.

We had scoped out our dining room table earlier so I knew where we were sitting. We have 6pm dining and it’s just us at our table. The table next to us has a bunch of our friends which is nice as it allows us to chat with them also during dinner. The main dining room is 3 stories tall and modeled after the dining room on the Titanic. In the center, there is an open atrium that you can see to the other floors. At the far end is a grand staircase going to each floor.

Our table is located on deck 5 which is the 3rd floor of the dining room, and right next to a huge window. Which normally would be wonderful except it’s dark when we eat!

Dinner each night consists of a 3 course meal; appetizer, main entrée then dessert. The kids have the option of ordering off the kids menu or adult menu. Most of them ordered part or all of their meal from the adult menu (gotta love that they aren’t picky!) Their favorite appetizer is ceasar salad.

After dinner, the kids wanted to walk down to the coffee shop in the royal promenade to get some hot chocolate (yes, all our food and even things in this shop we don’t have to pay for so the kids can have hot chocolate whenever they way! lol)

The royal promenade is located on deck 5 and reminds you of a large upscale wing of a mall, with shops, lounges, etc. While it’s only on one floor, there are 3 stories above it open to inside rooms that overlook the promenade and it spans a good length of deck 5.

The kids were feeling pretty tired by this point (about 8pm) so we took their hot chocolate back to the room & they decided to get ready for bed. Our rooms are on deck 8, the same rooms we had 2yrs ago. We have 2 interior connecting cabins. Someday a room with a balcony would be nice, but this works out as we are rarely in our cabin anyway. We were blessed to have gotten an amazing deal that allowed us to do this vacation, so we’re just happy to be here no matter the room!

The kids were in bed by 8:45 which is rare! Around 9, Hannah came over crying. She was missing her Noah doll. This was the first night since Noah was born that she hasn’t had the doll. The kids really wanted to bring them but didn’t want to chance anything happening to them so they left them at home (which they hated to leave them alone they said). I brought along Noah’s lamb we were given in the hospital & had pictures taken of him with it. I had it along so we would have something along to represent Noah & feel like a part of him is along with us. So I gave that to Hannah to sleep with & tried to comfort her. It just goes to show, nothing can ever take away the grief of missing him, even while on vacation.

It didn’t take long and the kids were sound asleep. I was exhausted as I really hadn’t slept much Saturday night, so I wasn’t up to attending any of the onboard night activities so I just unwound and read for awhile. We’re looking forward to having 2 relaxing sea days on Monday & Tuesday before island hopping starts on Wednesday.

Next up, our first formal night Monday evening. Till later.......


ps I am having trouble sending pics. I will try later
The last few days have been hectic ones as we've been preparing to go on a much needed vacation. Packing for all of us for an out of country trip takes some planning. As I'm sitting here writing and going over my mental checklist, I think I actually have everything we need. Just a few last minute things that can't be tossed in until morning, then we are set.

As I've been trying to get the house ready for our house sitter, my thoughts have gone to Noah. I made sure we had backups in the firesafe of his pictures and I'm even going to make room to put his hand & foot molds into it as well. It gives me a little bit of anxiety leaving those few priceless things of his here in case heaven forbid the house caught on fire or something. I know that probably makes no sense to most people, but those are the only tangible things we have of Noah that shows us his hands & feet that we can touch & hold and we'd be devastated if something happened to them.

Along those lines, we are taking along Noah's lamb we were given in the hospital & took pictures of him with it. The kids wanted something to represent Noah while we're away so it seemed like a good idea to bring our "little lamb" with us. I think it helps us all to feel that he is along with us in a way.

Pray that we will have safety traveling and that all of us will stay healthy. I will have updates posted here and hopefully a few pictures as we travel (providing the internet doesn't act up!)
Thanksgiving this year was a day of mixed emotions for me. Despite all that happened this year in my life, I still do have so much that I am thankful for. But it was also a reminder of what I was missing this year, my son. It was Thanksgiving day last year that we had started telling people I was pregnant. Still blows me away how much life has changed in just a year.

I am thankful for all the things Noah taught me. He taught me to appreciate and be grateful for the little things in life that so many people take for granted everyday. As well as not getting worked up or stressed over things that really aren't worth it. He helped make my faith stronger and showed me miracles still do happen. Noah reminded me that life itself is truly out of our hands and therefore we need to make the most of each day we are given.

So even as I reflect over the toughest year of my life, I know I am still blessed and have much to be thankful for. It doesn't take away the ache of wanting my son in my arms, but I am thankful knowing I have the promise of Heaven and getting to hold Noah someday again soon.

I Will Carry You

I was given a book at the end of my pregnancy that a friend thought may be good for me to read. It's called "I Will Carry You" by Angie Smith. She is the wife of the lead singer from the popular Christian group called Selah. Her story is very similar to our journey with Noah. 2yrs ago she was pregnant with their 4th child and during an ultrasound, she was told her daughter had conditions "incompatible with life" (the exact term we were told the day we were given Noah's diagnosis).

She goes on to share their story and her emotions throughout the rest of her pregnancy as well as her daughters death and her thoughts & feelings in the time of grief afterward.

I wasn't able to start this book until several weeks after Noah died. As I read it, I shed many tears as I often found Angie writing word for word my emotions & thoughts!! She put things into writing that I hadn't even shared here. It felt good reading about someone else's similar journey and seeing that she felt EXACTLY how I did. And thought the SAME things I did. It was nice knowing that what I was experiancing was normal & that I wasn't alone. Even though her daughter had a different diagnosis that Noah, everything was so eerily similar between our situations.

I would encourage everyone to read this book. Because unless you've been down this awful road, you can't begin to even understand the thoughts and feelings we go through. But Angie does such a wonderful job putting that into words so others can gather just a glimpse of the things we go through and struggle with. She even mentions things that others around us may say or do (or not do) that subsequently hurt those of us greiving. I believe this book can help those around us know better how to understand and even help us through this process. It's an excellant book and she has a wonderful testimony!

More Firsts

It's taken me a bit to be able to finally sit down and put into words more "firsts" I did this weekend. But backing up, this past Friday the 5th Jen, Michele, & their kids came over to spend the day with us. It was long overdue for us to get together and we all desperately needed it. It was a great day of fellowship, many tears were shed but we also shared much laughter. It was so good to be able to talk about Noah, Olivia & Hezekiah!!! And I know it did all our kids good to be able to spend the day playing and talking together as well. We said all our kids are each others heaven sent cousins. They share a bond with each other than no one else can understand. I am so thankful for the special "cousins" the kids were blessed with!

Because of their visit and the enouragement and strength I got from spending the day with my wonderful sisters, it gave me what I needed to finally go visit Noah's grave for the first time. So on Saturday, I headed out alone to run some errands. As I was on the back roads, I was getting ready to drive past this little flower shack that a mennonite lady runs. I've passed it many times but had never stopped. I was feeling prompted to stop and see about getting just a single flower to take with me to lay on Noah's grave. I pulled in and as I walked up to this little tiny shanty, I got to see all the neat arrangements this lady makes. Even inside she had many fresh & dried flower arrangements that were gorgeous. And her prices were really low!

The mennonite lady happened to be in there as I was looking around. She asked if she could help me with anything. I choked up and said I was looking for just a single flower to take with me when I go to visit my son's grave. She said I'll be right back and she stepped outside. I wiped away the tear that had fallen and gathered myself while she was out. She came back in with a few flowers and started talking to me while she cut the stems and chose a ribbon for them. I can't even begin to tell you how much it meant to me that she cared enough to ask about Noah and talk about him with me. This total stranger talked to me more about him than some people I've known for a long time who have avoided me since Noah died. I appreciated her kind words so much. It was what I needed as I made my way to his grave. Maybe that's why I felt the need to stop when I did. It was more than the flower I needed at that moment.

She chose some gorgeous but simple fall colored flowers, gathered with a gold ribbon. As she handed me the arrangement, before I could even ask her what I owed, she said it's her gift and she doesn't want me paying for them. I could hardly see to leave because of the tears in my eyes.

I pulled into church and drove up towards the upper parking lot that is right near the graveyard. So many emotions came pouring over me. I hadn't walked here since the day I followed Noah's casket to be buried. As I made my way to his gravesite with my flowers in hand, I just had tears running down my face. When I came to his grave, I just sat down beside him and cried. All I could picture was his tiny little body in his white casket just a few feet below where I sat. That precious body my arms ached to hold & cuddle was in the cold ground. It's such a painful thought. I KNOW Noah is in Heaven and I will see him again. But still, the thought of my baby's human body being in the ground is difficult. The grass still hadn't grown over the tiny little spot where his casket was buried. The ground was all sunken in as well.

As I sat there between tears, I prayed. I also layed down and talked to Noah for a bit. I cleaned off his temporary grave marker (I haven't brought myself yet to make the call about ordering his headstone). I also pulled a few weeds. His casket arrangement from the funeral, which was long since dried out, was still laying on his grave. I removed it to throw away and placed the flowers I brought for him in it's place. The wooden crosses the kids had placed there were still there next to his name.

I don't even know how long I was there as I lost all sense of time, but I'm sure it was over half an hour at least. It was hard to walk away, just like the day we buried him.

I still hadn't been able to bring myself to return to Sunday services at church. I knew I had to visit Noah first before I could go to church. So since I had gone to his grave, I felt I would try to go to church this past Sunday. It was really hard to step inside the church as all the memories of Noah's viewing and service were still so vivid. I really appreciated those of you who came up to me and hugged me or offered words of encouragement as you knew this was a hard step for me to take. I also am thankful for the notes & messages I received even after church encouraging me. I admit I shed a few tears several times while I was there.

I miss Noah so much!!!!! My son though was blessed to have only ever known love in his short life. He was spared the sin, pain & heartache that the rest of us have to go through. How amazing is that!?!? To only be surrounded by tons of love & joy and that is all he knew while with us!!!!

I'm one day closer to holding you again Noah ♥

Well, on this rainy, dreary day I thought I'd take the time to share some pictures I took of the kids just recently on a gorgeous, fall day that we had......




I admit, I found it difficult to take group pictures of the kids and not have Noah somehow be a part of the picture. I pretty much took individual pictures that day. But then I came across these 5 chairs which seemed to be a perfect way to have Noah still be "included" with the group picture. I'm sure down the road, you may notice little things we do to the kids or family pictures to somehow represent Noah.