Saturday, December 18, 2010

Hapiness Project October...

I was marginally successful, but yes I will say it was a success. I did actually enjoy London, a bit. I had fantasized about staying home right up until the day we left for the trip, but I made it. I threw up in the train station in Harrogate (in the bathroom thankfully) but did not throw up on any train or underground or bus the whole weekend, which I think was quite a feat. I mean I threw up on the way to the hotel after the train ride and in underground stations in between transfers etc. but not a train itself. The train ride down was pretty fun, with the exception that I was not feeling great so Drew was my complete hero taming the toddler. Our hotel was awesome. We had an adjoining room with Joan and Fred. So we could hang out in their room while Anna was sleeping.

We decided to go and see the Tate Modern Museum as they had an exhibit of 100 million hand painted ceramic sunflower seeds. Originally they were intended to be able to walk on the sunflower seeds but they learned that it was actually creating toxic dust, thus you could only look at it from a distance.

At this point it was getting pretty late after a train ride and museum we decided to head to Chipotle for dinner.

Then we headed back to the hotel.

Next morning, I had a huge struggle waiting to eat breakfast, as the "morning" sickness was pretty unrelenting. So whilst waiting in the cue I had to go down a flight of stairs to the bathroom and get sick. But during my travels I found the pool which looked like a lot of fun. So, Drew, Anna, and myself, went for a swim after breakfast. Then headed out to Windsor Castle.

Touring the castle was quite an experience. I really liked St. Georges Chapel where worship services have been held every day since the 1600's!

The castle itself had loads of fun stuff to see, but Anna was a tired toddler without a nap, so while we got to see most things, we did it quickly.

Here is Anna trying on a hat at one of the shops outside of the castle.

We headed to dinner at pizza express, which is a chain of restaurants out here, upscalish for pizza and pretty tasty. Then caught the hour long bus ride back to the hotel.

Sunday, we went to Church in the morning and I really was not sure I was going to make it. This was my sickest feeling day of the trip.

I spent a good portion of church in the bathroom. Drew was surprised by a conversation he heard in the nursery. The congregation was predominantly from Africa and one woman said she had just come back from Zimbabwe and that the church was flourishing there because people didn't have to worry about all the things they do here like jobs and what not. They can focus on spiritual things, interesting comment, kind of makes you think.

After church we headed to Trafalgar square for the big Dwali celebration.

We did not stay too long, but it was fun to watch dancing etc. It was very crowded and hard to see anything. So we headed back to the hotel for the rest of the evening. Drew and Fred went out hunting for pizza and we celebrated Halloween by knocking on Joan and Fred's door in costume. The only treat Joan had were mentos, which Anna loved and referred to as `trick or treats` for the remainder of the trip.

Next day we decided that wanted to go to see St. Paul's Cathedral and the Globe Theatre. Well, we went to St. Paul and then realized that it would cost us 50 pounds to all get in and kept moving. That was the first church I had ever been to that charged money to go into and we have been to churches and Cathedrals all around the world! Anyway, we moved onto the Globe Theatre. We were a little disappoint to learn its location. It was literally the building next to the Tate Modern Museum. So, had we thought things out a little better we would have had a bit less in commute. But, It was really cool. They also had a really neat museum and it was fun to see the exhibits.

Oh, and I did have to miss a portion of the tour in order to go get sick but I got the gist. After the Globe, we headed back home. All in all a decent trip, less the 5 + times of getting sick per day. But I we did have a good time, so goal achieved!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

October Happiness Project - London

Well, I was somewhat successful with my October happiness project which was to try and enjoy London. I am just not such a fan and while I cannot

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Happiness Project September - Education (Business statistics)

I'm late, again, I know, I know, but I have been busy. Also, Business statistics is well, hard. Sometimes. The first few weeks of the semester were a cake walk mathematically (more difficult learning the technology, excel, etc). Then last week hit. Wow! I was totally lost. Luckily our former Stake President, who lives near by, also happens to teach statistics on base. Unluckily he is moving back to the states in a few weeks. But, last week after a long tutoring session I was able to complete my homework. This week however, the homework has been pretty easy, so, I whisper very quietly, I like statistics. For instance it has already helped me financially and changed my view of some things:

After being frustrated that yet another house on our street was going up for rent for less than we pay for ours. In the time we have lived here all 5 houses on our street have gone up lease all of them for less than we pay. They are identical houses! Anyway, I did some statistics and of the know prices people are paying for their houses our price was more than 2 standard deviations away from the mean! Anyway, after a bit a discussion (it was pleasant) we now are going to pay 80 GBP less a month and will be getting our window fixed!

I don't like the news, sometimes it makes me a bit nervous, so I just don't watch it. Then Drew told me that he read in the news that there was an open threat of violence which was going to happen somewhere in Europe. I worried a bit, but not enough to really even research exactly what he was talking about and realized that the probability of being involved is like 0.00000000000 etc. So, not so worried.

I really worked hard and have learned so much.

In other news, on Monday I took a test and found out about another little tax exemption we are due for next year!

Next month Happiness Project, try to find something fun to do in London. We are going on the last weekend of the month and thus far, I am Not a fan. This will take a LOT of work!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

August Happiness project...

Well, I have to say that I kind of blew August, which might be why it has taken me so long to write it up. But alas, here is my progress. On the menu box, I think I wrote up maybe 10 cards, so it is something. Thanks to my mother in law, I have index cards and a box. So that should make progression possible it is just doing it that is the problem. As for organizing the pictures on the computer. I did work on this pretty solidly for about 5 days or so. I made a pretty big dent, or so I thought. Then when Picasso told me I had about 9000 photos to sort, well, I don't think I got nearly as much done as I thought.

But, what I did get done was reading every single last Harry Potter. I LOVE it so much and It was so great to read. I knew I only had a little time left before I jumped into my class this month (by the way, education and school is my project for Sept). So, if I went back in time and revised my goal to be read all of the books in the Harry Potter series, I totally rocked that goal!

Overall, I haven't sewn anything in last few months, but I still know how to do the things I have done. I have gone to the gym almost every weekday in August! (Part of that motivation may have stemmed from the fact that Anna can play in the play pen area and if I use the stationary bike, I can read, she keeps herself pretty entertained). I also worked on eating well. Loads or fruits and veg still. I have also been keeping up with family. So I have been going on pretty strong with continuing some of my other goals. I know I will do well with the education goal next month, so here we go...

Friday, July 30, 2010

July happiness project

So, for July I have been working on a few things. One is prayer. I having been working on being more diligent and recognizing more answers to prayers. I have had a few really spiritual experiences and have learned a lot. One involved a prompting, being in the right place to help someone out, a broken down car and a prayer answered that it would be fixed. There have been others, it is really amazing to open up your eyes and your heart and see the miracles and blessings that surround you. I have also had several private spiritual experiences just feeling the peace and quiet assurance of the spirit. Knowing that Heavenly Father loves me, that he is there, that he sent his son to die for us, what bigger miracle can one ask for.

My second goal of the month was to work on learning what to do with our money. Last year we were able to get out of the debt we had dug ourselves into. It took a lot of work and a lot of prayer. But, we were blessed with being able to repay our debtors. Since that time we have kept saying and thanks to saving and a tax return, we were able to have some money. I realized that the interest rates were not good right now, so keeping it in the bank didn't seem like the best idea. So, I decided to step up to the plate and learn more about the ole stock market. Now, we didn't put all of our money into the market, but at least some of it has the chance to earn some interest. So, I choose some stocks and the week I happened to start buying stocks they all took a pretty big plunge, so I was able to do the buy low part of the ole saying rather quickly. So, with a little advice from my dad and google. I was able to find some good solid stocks. Granted there is still risk, but I think that the choices we have made are solid. Because of this whole experience I have decided to go back to school in Sept. I will take one class at a time and work toward getting a certificate in finance. The first class is business statistics, wish me luck!

Next month, I have two things I am going to be working on to prepare for the fall. I realize that I will not be having as discretionary time, with taking a class, so I have decided to get somethings in order now. I will be putting together a index card box with our favorite meal ideas, so that at the beginning of the week I can just grab 7 cards and have planned the menu for the week. Also, and now this isn't something needed for the fall, but for a long time now, I have been irritated with how we have our digital pictures stored. All of our pictures are saved in files named things like 'pics', 'pictures', 'big ole file of pics' etc. Each individual file only has the number it is given from the camera. There is no organization. So my goal is to try and label and sort them. Now, I am not so sure I will get through all of them, but, by small and simple things are great things brought to pass, as they say. So, who knows I may be able to put quite a dent in it!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

June Happiness Project

June's happiness project goal of decorating our home has gone much more smoothly. Ever since the day it was pointed out to my blissfully unaware eyes that our home was, pretty much COMPLETELY bare. It has been a point of frustration. So, I had been thinking over ideas for a long while in my head on this one. Warning, I am not, nor have I ever been into decorating so don't expect too much, I was just going for things that are to our taste.

My first project was Drew's computer room. It was a graduation/ Father's day present. We had a budget of 100 gbp to complete the room. I sewed him a set of curtains. They were the first set I have ever sewn I didn't use a pattern but they turned out well, if I do say so myself! I think they ran us a total of about 15 gbp. We also purchased some picture frames from Ikea which ran us about 18 gbp. The pictures inside were purchased for family pictures but even if I include the price of the photos which was about 30 GBP, it puts us well under budget. Problem with the pictures and frames was that we had american sized pictures and british sized frames grrrr. Solution? a few crafty embellishments made from old craft material odds and ends, which I am not including in the price as I have no recollection of how much it cost. Another piece Anna and I added to the room was an abstract piece of art in a frame my sister gave us for Christmas. The artwork is made out of lipstick. I would have to say the project was a bit more of my work than Anna's as Anna was using the opportunity to put makeup on her feet, which as everyone is well aware of is where it goes. But when you think about it, putting it on feet or paper are both equally outside the box, so why not, right? Being a total of 63 GBP, result? Enough money left to buy a much wanted video game (bonus father's day gift!) and plenty to spare. I am also trying to figure out how to use some of the fabric from the curtains to make a light shade for the over head light, we shall see on that one. I don't want to start any fires, so I have been a little hesitant there. I was also a bit distracted by Anna's birthday!

The pictures of the curtains are not so great, they really do look nice.

Project two, our bedroom. Another budget of 100 gbp. We purchased a nice 3 sectioned picture of a rose, very large for 12 gbp. Then, we purchased a fitted sheet (8gbp) and a duvet cover and pillow cases (28 gbp). We put the cream colored blanket my mother had given me a few years back on the bed as well. We took out the large blue panda blanket we had been using. It is very warm and comfortable and now resides in Anna's room more or less folded up at the foot of her bed. Today I put up a picture project I had made after our trip to Paris last summer. It had been sitting around waiting for somewhere to go. I am not sure how much it cost, but it was well under 10 gbp. We took off one of the sets of curtains. I know that you are wondering why we had more than one set of curtains. Well, we are cheap, and we live in England. The curtains that came on the house we rent here fit alright but just about fit exactly to the size of the window. The problem? Last week sunset was at about 11 pm and sunrise was at around 3:30 (no joke). So we needed another set of curtains (our set from the states) that was long enough to block out some of the light. They were not wide enough for the window. So we ended up having a pair of patchwork blue curtains covered by a shorter and wider set of brown curtains. NOT attractive. Solution? We purchased some blackout roller shades from Ikea that you can cut to fit the window (23 gbp). We got rid of the blue curtains and the brown curtains remain where they were when we rented the place. I might add I did not make new curtains for this room because the ones that are here fit in very nicely with how the room has come together. Now, I want to get one of two more things for our other bare wall, but I have not yet seen anything to catch my eye. So far for this room totals 81 gbp.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Happiness Project May

I am a little late in posting this one, but...

My May happiness project didn't pan out as well as I had thought as, we ended up having a very raining first part of the month and then we went off to the USA for two and a half weeks. So, I would say the gardening goal didn't go as well as planned. However, I was able to cut the grass twice. We also ended up hiring someone to put down weed killer while we were gone so that Anna wasn't around when we did it. She absolutely adores playing outside lately so doing it while she was here was not the best idea. The person we hired also cut the grass. Another attempt at gardening this month was taking care of a house plant I was given by a friend who is moving to Germany. I also was trying to grow some herbs. Someone had given me two herb sprouts to grow in a cup until they were big enough to transplant. The outcome? I have beautiful house plant that is now slowly becoming browner and browner. I think it started happening the day I got it. I have feed it, watered it, and now I am going to attempt to put it into a bigger planter in hopes that it will help. The herb sprouts alas, did not survive as they were diseased. So, gardening hasn't gone so well. However, grass cut 3 times and weed killer down, that gets at least a few points.

The month was not a completely loss by any means. I kind of consider my goal of gardening to have been taken over by my goal of reconnecting with family. This goal I did fabulously with as we headed out to see a vast majority of our family members. Our first stop was in Maryland, Drew was assigned to work at a conference so we went to go and see my parents. We had a great time. We were able to stay in Maryland for 9 days. My mother hosted a luncheon and we were able to see Drew's grand parents. We were also able to see my cousins whom we have not seen since Stephanie's wedding. My mom's neighbors were there as well. The next day we were able to attend church in the building where I went growing up. It was great to see people there as well. Afterwards we headed up to the church we went to when we lived near Baltimore and were able to have lunch with a friend and visit with some other people from the ward up there. We have not seen any of them since we moved out to England! It was a lot of fun.

For dinner, we were able to hang out with our dear friends Joe and Alissa. It was great because I was able to spend several days hanging out with them. Drew was able to spend quality time with them as well when he wasn't in his conference. Anna and I ventured out to the to both the American History and the Natural History Smithsonian Museums. I know that two hours is probably not enough time for most people to do one of them, but it was plenty of time for us to do both, we are not very thorough. In fact, the most interesting thing Anna found was a statue of a boy and his mother in the exhibit on the evolution of man. We also ventured to the Patuxent wildlife reserve and the play area for the National Children's Museum which is under construction. It was great fun to go there with my parents. It is also great fun that everything is free! On Friday night Drew, Anna, and myself headed to a splash pool and had a blast! We attended Drew's graduation for his masters' degree on Saturday. Yeah, Drew! Then we headed off to Utah on Sunday.

In Utah we were able to See Drew's sister and her family, my college roommate, and a friend of ours who lives out in Provo now. Funny thing was that our friend (Tasha) lives within a few blocks of my college roommate (Heidi). We had a lot of fun with Emily and her family. Anna was able to meet her one and only girl cousin (so far) and it was almost like instant hero worship. Everything Darcey did Anna found hilarious. Every place Darcey went Anna was sure to follow. Even though it was much requested Anna was not allowed to sleep in Darcey's room, neither of them would get any sleep nor would their parents. We were able to go swimming, eat at in and out burger, go on a school fund raiser walk, go to the children's Museum, Drew and some of the gang went out for Ice cream. Anna and Darcey also were able to have a photo shoot together. We ended up getting family pictures taken as well.

Then it was off to Detroit where we saw my sister Denise and her family. We were able to go play on a beach, eat Chinese food and Mexican food (which is hard to come by in England), watch Jackson play amazingly well during a baseball game, plan and host the first Cousin's party ever! Presents for everyone(Well at least the kids, anyway)!

June's Goal is decorating...

Friday, June 25, 2010

Happy 2nd Birthday Anna!

Dear Anna,

Wow! Another year. The fact that you are now two reminds me of the lyrics of a song, it says that years take so long, but they go so fast. That truly is the case. You are amazing girl and your personality develops more and more everyday.

[caption id="attachment_953" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Anna at One"][/caption]

This year you have become even more of a world traveler. We began the year by heading to Paris to see the end of the Tour De France. A few months later we headed to the USA and were able to go to Maryland and Michigan. In October we went down to London so Daddy could see the Annual NFL game there. In January we headed on our big Mediterranean cruise! We went to Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Malta, and France (well it was just a turn around at the border in France but we passed the 'Welcome to France' sign so I am going to count it! In May we headed back to the states to see family and friends. This time we went to Maryland, Utah, and Michigan. You are an amazing traveler, better than a LOT of adults in fact. I guess it makes a lot of sense as well because you have traveled in your first two years more than most adults do in a lifetime. When we went to the US in May we traveled for about 20 hours including layovers. We arrived at Grandma and Pop Pop's house and the after going to sleep for the night, I asked you what you thought we were going to do that day. You said "air plane!" and were very excited. I said no and you started to cry! I am so impressed with your love of flying.

[caption id="attachment_954" align="alignnone" width="276" caption="Counting Money in Paris"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_949" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="On the way to Hogwarts"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_955" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Anna at the Sphynx"][/caption]

This year you have developed some good friendships. Your closest friend is named Lily. She is the friend that will be coming to your birthday party. You see her a few times a week and get VERY excited to see her! You run up to her with hugs and hold her hand. A few weeks ago she came over to our house for the first time. You were not possessive of your toys, instead you wanted to show her everything. Pretty much all at once, mind you, I think she may have been a little bit overwhelmed! I told you that you could show her your room and you ran in there with her and shut the door on her mother and me and said "bye, bye Mama," I can't believe I have a girl who wants privacy with her friends already!

[caption id="attachment_970" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Anna and Lily"][/caption]

In the states you became better acquainted with some friends there. In September you met Emmeline (Joe and Alissa's daughter) - there was an immediate connection. You made each other laugh uncontrollably from the first few minutes.

[caption id="attachment_961" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Anna and Emmeline"][/caption]

Then, in May you met Darcey for the first time, your only girl cousin. It was instant hero worship! Everything Darcey did was funny or exciting, she could do no wrong. When she went to bed at night you wanted to sleep in her room with her! You still mention her almost everyday and it has been over a month since the trip!

[caption id="attachment_965" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Anna and Darcey"][/caption]

You also were able to spend good time with your cousins Jackson, Luke, and Grant. I think you were a little overwhelmed for a few hours but afterward you became great friends. Jackson took very good care of you and Luke was a great friend who you now like to talk to on the telephone.

[caption id="attachment_968" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Anna and the boys"][/caption]

Your language skills have started to develop this year. You said your first word other than mamma and dadda at about 16 month old. Your first word was "ai" meaning eye. You went a few weeks without really adding any new words to your repetition and then your speech took off! Our biggest mystery of the year was "rot ray" a term you would use frequently but we could never figure out what it meant. You would look at pictures and say it but not be willing to point out what you meant. You would say it in the bath often. I would say "rot ray" to you and would get a "no" in response. We were totally stumped. It took months but we were finally able to figure out that it meant crawling. Listening to you is like hearing a mirror of myself. I don't even realize I say some of things you say back to me. I have been working on not saying certain things as recently one of your favorite statements has been "stop it" or some variation there of. We have been working to replace "stop it" with "no thank you". Some things you repeat back I find adorable. You are constantly saying "there you go" when you have completed a task such as putting on your shirt or getting your shoes on. You are becoming very polite as well, you say please, thanks, thank you, yes please, and excuse me. You can now say Mudgett, you say Anna Mudgett, you say boss when calling daddy or myself, and you can now say a lot of other people's names. Way to Go!

My suspicion that you were becoming a girly-girl has been confirmed several times over this year. The first when we went shoe shopping shortly after your birthday last year. You screamed and screamed and hated it. We went to about 4 different shoe stores and you wouldn't let me put any of the shoes on you. When I managed to get them on you (through an all out battle) you wouldn't step down in them and would scream. There was one pair that you were okay with but I looked at the price tag and it was 40 pounds! So, we ended up going to "one last store" we headed to a department store called NEXT. I figured you just hated trying on new shoes. Well, you saw a pair of shoes that were shiny and silver and you started to laugh. We put them on you and you started to jump around excitedly! I ended up getting you a different pair because we were worn out and had decided to try even one more "Last store" you cried when we put them on but smiled in the mirror when you saw them so I figures, hey, a compromise. You still love shoes. You love trying on other people's shoes. You especially love trying on Lily's shoes and get angry if she doesn't want you to!

[caption id="attachment_951" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Give me an M!"][/caption]

You adore all things baby. You love pretending to be a baby. You found your old dummy (pacifier) the other day and insisted on taking it all over the house. I thought, great you are going to get into the habit of using a pacifier at two! It has since mysteriously disappeared (I am sure I didn't have anything to do with that =)) You love looking at babies. You love touching babies. You don't get jealous when we hold babies, you get excited like, oh, we can touch that baby!? You love playing with baby dolls. You love putting new nappies on them, putting clothes on them, wrapping them in blankets, cuddling them, kissing them, bathing with them and sleeping with them. There is no doubt you LOVE babies!

[caption id="attachment_956" align="alignnone" width="225" caption="Anna\'s make shift Baby crib"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_966" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Shhhh don\'t tell Aunt Denise!"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_971" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="sharing chocolate with baby ~ now thats love!"][/caption]

You love make-up and getting your nails done. You have loved it from the first time daddy painted them. From that day on you would check your nails every morning to make sure they were not chipped and say "uh-oh" if anything was wrong. You would then demand for them to be touched up. I broke you of the habit by not letting you get your nails painted that often. As for make-up I knew you were loved it as the few times I put it on in front of you, you HAD to do it too. I thought it was cute so I let you one time and you never looked back. Anytime there is a possibility of make up you will wait for it for a long time. You waited to get your face painted for probably about an hour, give or take AND let a stranger touch you to paint your face without hesitation. Another day you patiently waited at least a half hour get your face painted again. You still remember both of those days and sometimes talk about when you had a cat or flowers on your face!

[caption id="attachment_967" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="makeover time!"][/caption]

As for your activities, You still participate in signing class and love it. You also love swimming class and are getting very confident in the water. We started attending play group at Lilly's church and you love to get juice and a biscuit there. Finally, you started Socatots in the winter. You NEVER do what the class is doing you run off and play with the babies that come with their older siblings OR you find something else to occupy yourself. We go to Socatots solely because you are infatuated with your teacher. You talk about Mike all the time. Sometimes after he comes to help you and when he is making his rounds to see other class members, you follow him and want to get more praise. The other day as we were driving away from where class is held you said "more, Mike." Unfortunately you had to wait an entire week to see him again!

[caption id="attachment_958" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="My Hero Mike!"][/caption]

You are very clever. You know your ABC's. If I sign a letter of the alphabet you can tell me what it is. You can count to 5 and are know your numbers up to 10 but don't usually get them in the right order. You know your colors. You are starting to learn songs and sometimes I hear you singing several words to two of your favorite songs, "Do you know the colors of the rainbow", and "I love to see the temple." You are learning the days of the week. Daddy taught you about thumbs and pinkies and you talk about them a lot. We also hear you doing your version of "this little piggy" you are getting better and better at it. You are very good at figuring things out as well. We need to now re-toddler proof the house as you can get into almost everything again!

Here are some of her favorite things to do:

[caption id="attachment_959" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="You like Bowling"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_957" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Listening to Music"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_952" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Playing Car Car"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_950" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Taking a bath"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_969" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="riding bikes with dad"][/caption]

You love watching Dancing. We found out on the cruise and recently look you to see BYU's world champions ballroom dance team. We called it "special dancing." Now you want to watch clips of special dancing from the Internet every day! Your favorite shows are watching yourself in home movies, special dancing, signing time (which is really the only show you've seen with the exception of baby einstein), sometimes music videos, and very often you like to watch babies on youtube. Your favorite clips are of babies laughing.

Food, your favorite foods are baked beans and sausages. You like toast or bread with butter, really you like butter and would eat it on its own. You love grapes and most kinds of fruit. You adore sauces. Anytime you see a sauce or something that resembles sauce you want to try it. From different flavors of toothpaste to vinegar. You want to try them. You love yogurt, olives, and of course Friday night Ice Cream at McDonald's!

[caption id="attachment_962" align="alignnone" width="225" caption="Eating Candy"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_948" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="A little Pre-Pizza snack"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_964" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Friday night ice cream"][/caption]

We love you so much and are so grateful to have you in our family. I love your hugs and cuddles and I can't wait to see all things you will learn and discover this year. Daddy and I love you so much. Thank you for all the love you give to us!

[caption id="attachment_947" align="alignnone" width="233" caption="Anna at Two (almost) "][/caption]

Mommy (and daddy)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Pull up a chair this may take a while... the BIG trip

You did say you wanted this post Mudgett sized didn't you?

We had a very exciting family vacation starting on January 1st. Drew and Anna and myself headed on our way to Barcelona. We had paid to go on a no frills airline (one that is going to start charging people to use the toilet on flights less than 1 hour), yes, that much of a no frills airline. Anyway, I paid the additional few dollars and got us priority boarding. Well, apparently people who take this airline don't like to part with money very much and we were the only 3 priority passengers. So we had a private escort to the plane while everyone else was herded aboard later. We felt very first class (see what $5 can get you?). Anyway, after a quick 2 hour flight, no layover, we arrived in Girona, an airport about 1 hour outside of Barcelona.

I had read in the guide book that people in Barcelona consider it a public duty to keep children happy. Well as we were waiting for our limo (ie bus) to Barcelona a man walked up to Anna and gave her a little toy car. Well she could not have been happier. The entire bus ride (one hour) she was saying "car, car, car, car" as she rolled her car on every surface she could reach. At the time of this posting in April, she still plays with that car! After we reached Barcelona we took a cab ride to our hotel. All in all a much shorter commute than back to Maryland and Anna did very well.

I was excited to check out our hotel as we had booked one on Priceline. I was playing around and said that I would pay a pretty low amount of money for a 5 star hotel in a neighborhood near our ship. Priceline came back and said if I raised the price a little I might get one. So, with just a little more money, we got to stay in a 5 star hotel. I had never been in one before (but after going there, I definitely think our honeymoon hotel would be rated a 5 star place. What with the piano in our room and private hot tub and all). This hotel was awesome. It was on a little bit of land overlooking the water (and our cruise ship port). We had a lot of space. The bathroom included jets in the tub and a bidet, which I won't get into other than to say that for an 18 month old, it sure looks like a little sink, and just in case you were wondering, when it is turned all the way on it can shoot water all the way across the room. The toiletries they provided were pretty high end and included all kinds of things like combs, tooth brushes, etc. Things that you usually have to ask for in other hotels and often they are not very willing to supply. They had several channels in English and in a lot of other languages as well (probably not really worthy of mention but, we don't have TV at home so it is kind of a novelty, especially when it is in your own language).

[caption id="attachment_814" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Our Hotel Room Barcelona"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_809" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="View from our hotel room"][/caption]

A few minutes walk from the hotel was the main tourist street "Las Ramblas" after settling into our hotel, we took a stroll down the street. It was jumping! There were loads of people and a lot of things to look at. It was pretty cool. We stopped for a meal (I had paella) and then we got a bit of gellato, yummmmm. I think that was Anna's favorite part. OK, it was mine too! After a bit of exploring we headed back to the hotel.

[caption id="attachment_849" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Anna and I at Las Ramblas"][/caption]

The next day, we did some shopping and went to a few of the sights. We saw the Gaudi house. Which was the residents of an innovative architect. Unfortunately, only the basement was opened because the rest of the place is under restoration, but we were able to in for free because of that! And, the place was still amazing. Drew decided that one day when we have our own place (which is a conversation we have a lot, and the more things we add the place is going to be massive and completely not affordable if we were to include everything). Anyway, the basement consisted of a lot of brick arches, very cool stuff.

[caption id="attachment_811" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Waiting in line for Gaudi\'s house"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_813" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="On the Stairs at Gaudi\'s house"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_812" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Cool arches in Gaudi\'s Basement"][/caption]

Next we went to the cathedral. It was very beautiful and had an open area with geese and fountains.

[caption id="attachment_850" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="The Geese in the Cathedral"][/caption]

The place that I found the most impressive by far, was the beautiful Magic Fountain of Montjuic. We only came across it by accident. I wanted to go and look at the building which is situated directly behind it, it has beautiful architecture, little did I know the most beautiful part was the huge fountain in front of it. The fountain is lite up with colorful lights and dances to accompanying music. It was one of the most impressive things we saw on the whole trip! It was that cool!

[caption id="attachment_818" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="The Magic Fountain"][/caption]

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The next day we decided to head to church for sacrament meeting and then off to the Picasso museum before we boarded the boat. The museum was free on the first Sunday of the month so there was a long wait. After touring the museum and realizing that most of Picasso's famous paintings are located in other countries, we felt that the museum was worth about the price we paid for it. Harsh, I know, but kind of true.

[caption id="attachment_819" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="The most interesting thing at the Picaso Museum"][/caption]

Next, we went on to board the boat. We took a cab from the hotel to the boat. Check in was a breeze. No lines at all. I have had a lot of success with cruise line check-in since we realized that you don't have to rush to get there when the ship first allows you to board. We arrived at about 3:30 and the main rush to get on the boat was over, we still had another 3.5 hours before the ship left, so we weren't worried about "missing the boat" as it were. After we checked in we bumped into Drew's parents who after a flight with a long layover were now without their luggage. Reminiscent of my parents situation on their last cruise. Which brings us to my parents, we had booked an adjoining room with them. It was so great to see them! What a fun family trip, Anna was able to have both sets of grandparents to herself for almost 2 full weeks. Thats right 6 adults full attention plus the additional attention of about 3000 other passengers/crew members = one very happy 18 month old.

The ship was nice pretty similar to most NCL ships I would say. Our room was great to have a bathtub and couch. I didn't really like having a balcony as it scared me with little one. But it turned out to not be so bad, at least when it was closed.

[caption id="attachment_834" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Cruisin' Together"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_820" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Good Parenting 101"][/caption]

The first port we went to was Rome!
I am sad to say that Rome was not as exciting as I had expected. It may have had to do with the fact it was raining and there was a mix up early in the day causing us to wait in the rain for a while. But, it seemed dirtier and had a lot more graffiti than I pictured. I think if I were to go on foot it would probably be more impressive and if I had more than a few hours to explore the whole city that would be great too.

[caption id="attachment_852" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Our wet tour group"][/caption]

We went to the Colosseum which was disturbingly beautiful. It is amazing that such a large structure could last so long. It is also so sad that humanity would build a place such as that.

[caption id="attachment_823" align="alignnone" width="225" caption="Outside the Coloseum"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_825" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="In Side the Coloseum"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_824" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Anna checking out the Coloseum"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_853" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="The Colosseum"][/caption]

We went out to lunch which was probably my favorite part of the whole day. We ate at a little family restaurant with home made pasta and delicious food. It was fabulous!

[caption id="attachment_826" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Lunch in Italy"][/caption]

We were able to take a quick peak at the pantheon. I wish we would have been able to spend more time inside of it, but maybe we will go back some day, right? Then it was off to the Vatican. I was very impressed by everything there. I had received conflicting reports about the hall of maps. According to my mother, she could have spent days in there. According to the Mudgett side of the family it was the most boring place ever. I ended up of course siding with my mother. That hall was amazing. Sure the maps, not so interesting, although I am sure our friend Jay would love it. But the paintings and the design of the whole room were breathtaking. Anna kept looking around and taking everything in.

[caption id="attachment_827" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="The Hall of Maps"][/caption]

As for the Sistine chapel, I personally prefer the hall of maps, but hey, to each his own.

We were also able to go and see Saint Peters' Basilica. Which was a an incredibly beautiful place. Very ornate. Drew and Anna and I only stayed in for a few minutes because we wanted to go see St. Peter's sarcophagus. Anna did try and see if the Pope was home, but, no answer.

[caption id="attachment_828" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="St Peters Basilica"][/caption]

Lets face it, when is the next time you are going to see the remains of one of the Saviors twelve? It was amazing! They really used all of their precious things to make it beautiful (no pictures allowed. Then it was back to the ship, but not before a quick ice cream, it wasn't gellato but, still good.

[caption id="attachment_817" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Ice Cream outside the Vatican"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_829" align="alignnone" width="225" caption="St. Peter's Basilica"][/caption]

Our second port of call was Greece. Unfortunately my father caught a GI bug because 18 people came aboard the ship that were sick and didn't tell anyone! Hey, thanks, grrrrr! My mother stayed back as she wasn't feeling 100%. Greece was beautiful. We were able to go to the Acropolis and see the Parthenon. It was incredible being at the Acropolis! It is amazing that these buildings have survived for so long! We were able to look out from the mountain at one of the most beautiful vistas I have seen. Greece really is a really gorgeous place.

[caption id="attachment_831" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="The first Theatre EVER"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_858" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Anna\'s favorite thing about the Acropolis"][/caption]

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We saw where Zeus temple used to be.
[caption id="attachment_832" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Zeus\' Temple"][/caption]

We were also able to see:

[caption id="attachment_860" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Olympic Stadium"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_863" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="The changing of the guards"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_861" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Anna\'s interpretation of changing of the guards"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_862" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="a LOT of birds that admire the changing of the guards"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_833" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Gyros in Greece!"][/caption]

After that, we had our choice between having an hour in the Acropolis museum or going shopping. Drew, Anna, and I opted for both. We did the museum in a half hour which was amazing. When they were building the place they unearthed some ruins and still build the museum there but instead of a solid floor, it was made out of glass so you could look down and see the ruins beneath, talk about cool. The museum only opened a few years ago and it sits in the shadow of the Acropolis.

[caption id="attachment_864" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Acropolis Museum"][/caption]

Outside the museum there are some kiosks for trinket shopping and we were able to grab some ice cream. Then we headed back to the ship.

Next day we were off to Turkey. My parents didn't make it this day either, sad. I was a bit disappointed with a couple things, but just a few. We were told we would not have time to stop for food so we needed to pack something to bring. So when we were in Barcelona we went shopping for non perishable snacks, as I have never heard of a cruise ship letting you take things off. Well, when you have an 18 month old going a whole day on snacks just doesn't cut it. We ended up being able to buy a few chicken wraps at a small place after our Ephesus tour, but what gets me is that we got back to ship over an hour early and the guide gave us a hard time about buying a snack! Ugh. We were also told that they would have a car seat for Anna and nope, no seat. Anyway, We went to see Ephesus which was soooooooooo cool. It has a ton of history, WAY to much to really describe but, everything from the Amazons to Apostles were in that place and wow!

[caption id="attachment_930" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Theatre where the Apostle Paul preached"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_917" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="...more commonly known as the Theatre where Anna Mudgett Performed all the little bunnies sleep"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_921" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Our little crew in the theatre"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_918" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Walking in Ephesus"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_920" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Team Mudgett in Ephesus"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_919" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Library ruins, Ephesus"][/caption]

After we toured the ruins we were able to go and see the terraced houses which are on the same site but have been being restored and excavated inside a building. They were really beautiful. There was a few different houses being restored. All of which were obviously owned by some very wealthy people.

[caption id="attachment_924" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="terrace houses, built between 1 BC and 7 AD"][/caption]

After that is when we were given 10 minutes to shop and use the toilet (this is where we got our snacks).

[caption id="attachment_923" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Forbidden snacks, in cool hats"][/caption]

Then we were taken to a rug making place and I guess when in Persia see how they make Persian rugs. But Anna fell asleep on the way there so instead of rug making I was able to see some guy come out near the bus and puke. But then Drew came out and switched with me. It was kind of cool to see how they make silk, but I never knew that they have to boil the worms and they die. I always assumed it was just like, I don't know, spiders webs or something.

Boiling silk works to get silk

The rugs were really beautiful but holy cow were they expensive. Unless, you consider $700 a good price for something the size of a mouse pad! Seriously! After the rug place we headed back to the ship.

Next day was a sea day. We went out to eat with everyone at a Tepanaki place. I was excited for Anna to have her first experience with the whole thing. But, I should have realized that it would be a bit overwhelming, especially when it was noisy. But, man oh man, was it delicious! I also went and learned a bit of belly dancing to prepare for our highlight port of Egypt, where we would be stopping the next day. The scary part of dinner was that someone went overboard. The ship had to turn around but they got him back on board safe and sound. We heard later that it was a teenage boy and he jumped off his balcony with a life jacket on. The were quarantined to their room and I saw the ambulance in Egypt waiting to pick them up.

Next, our BIG port. EGYPT! The day got off to a slow start, in that the fog shut the port down for the first 4 hours =(. So we missed out on seeing a lot of things in the morning. We had hired a private tour guide (there was much drama over that whole situation, but I digress) and even though we were originally going to head to Cairo on the first day (a 3 hour drive), they ended up switching it so we went to El Alamein (our second day excursion). When we got to our minivan, they handed each of the adults a flower and Anna received a bag full of gifts! A signing camel, a coloring book and colored pencils, and a drum.
What a great treat!

El Alamein for those of you who don't know was the turning point of WWII for the British allied forces. Basically before El Alamein the British lost every battle of the war. After it they won. As simple as that. We didn't get to see too much because everything closed early and since we got off the ship late, it didn't work out so well. At our first stop which was a monument (very cool looking from the pictures) Anna was a sleep so I stayed in the car with her.

[caption id="attachment_835" align="alignnone" width="225" caption="Memorial at El Alamein"][/caption]

The next place we went was to a museum. They were closing in 10 minutes but agreed to allow us 20 minutes to tour the place. It wasn't so big, but there was some interesting things in there. They had old uniforms and showed things the soldiers would have done, how they shaved etc.
[caption id="attachment_836" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Outside the Museum at El Alamein"][/caption]

After that we went on to the next stop which was the battle field, but it was closed =(. Our tour guide felt bad for us so she brought us back into Alexandria and let us poke about. We went out to eat at restaurant there, the food was pretty good, Drew told me about a month later he found a cockroach, a BIG cockroach in his food. He assures me that I didn't eat any of it and it took all of his strength not to react to it so that I was not aware. Instead, he took a swig of hand sanitizer which he said was worse than the problem but at least he didn't get sick, right? After we ate, we stopped by the Alexandria Library and walked around the outside. Anna had a lot of admirers. She even got a kiss on the cheek from a young man. They have a no children under 6 rule inside the place so we didn't go in. It was a really cool place, the architecture was beautiful. I am not sure when it was built, but it is only a few years old for sure. My parents went in and showed me some of their photos and it looked really cool (maybe next time we are in Alexandria...). Our tour guide used to work in the library so she did have a lot of information about the place.

[caption id="attachment_837" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="The Library at Alexandria"][/caption]

The last place we saw in Alexandria was visiting inside of a mosque. I really wanted to see inside of one, as I LOVE visiting cathedrals, etc. (The Sacre Coeur, anyone?) The Mosque was a very interesting place. It was just a giant done shaped room. With beautiful artwork on the inside. Women enter one part, men the other and there is a removable wooden wall to divide them. Some people see it as sexist but Muslim women don't see it that way. Our tour guide was a well educated and confident woman, who is also Muslim. She was great to talk to about her religion as she was very open about it. We definitely learned a lot!
[caption id="attachment_838" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Inside the Mosque"][/caption]

The next day, was Cairo! The Pyramids! We stared off early in the morning and headed out on our way. Anna ever the trouper did pretty well. She got upset a few times, but was really pretty impressive for being so tired. We went to the Pyramids first thing. Man were they impressive. We all decided to go up and see the inside. It had a really low ceiling and lead the way up to a room which used to contain a Pharaohs Sarcophagus. It was a long way up. Joan said that someone asked her if it was worth it and she just said "your in the great pyramid!"" Hard to think some people would spend so much money to go on the trip and yet try to save the last few bucks on going inside. Now, it isn't for everyone. Anna did not go inside. It is not for anyone who is claustrophobic or has back or knee issues. But it was definitely something cool to do once. After we toured the place we walked around the outside of the Great Pyramid. Fred was amazed at home forceful the people selling things were. We (Drew and I) took turns watching Anna and I stayed outside with her while they were inside. Fred was amazed that I have a lot of the little trinkets people were selling. I didn't by anything. I was just very firm with my NO THANK YOU response, no biggy.

[caption id="attachment_839" align="alignnone" width="225" caption="TEAM MUDGETT!"][/caption]

After everyone was out and accounted for we headed to the Giza Plateau for a photo opportunity.
[caption id="attachment_840" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="The Mudgetts at the Pyramids"][/caption]

Then on to the sphinx. WOW! It was amazing. It was beautiful and breathtaking. What a cool experience. Words can not describe what it is like to go to a place you have read about in history class and never imagined you would ever go. Especially a place that is so old and (insert synonym for amazing, here, tee hee). One really interesting thing that our tour guide told us is that a recent find revealed that the place (Pyramids and Sphinx) were not built by slaves but by well paid people who were doing it because of religious beliefs. They found that they had access for foods (like fresh fruit) that slaves never would have had access to. Interesting development.

[caption id="attachment_841" align="alignnone" width="225" caption="Sphinx"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_842" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Happy to see the Sphinx"][/caption]

After we left the Sphinx we headed to a little place where they reenact what life was like at the Pharisaic times. I chose this place because I really wanted some place that Anna could get a bit more knowledge out of that would be fun for everyone else too. And we got to cross the Nile (granted it was a small creek area of the Nile, but, hey its the Nile no less).

[caption id="attachment_869" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Anna and I crossing the Nile"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_867" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Anna and Drew crossing the Nile"][/caption]

While we were there they demonstrated how they used to farm, make papyrus, mummify Pharaohs, make things of Alabaster, and make pottery.

[caption id="attachment_870" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Farming demonstration"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_871" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Farming"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_872" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Farming"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_874" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Alabaster"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_875" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Making Papyrus"][/caption]

We saw how the rich would live, what a temple would look like and the kind of place a poor person would dwell in.

[caption id="attachment_876" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="The Temple (a 1:20th scale model)"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_843" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Hands on inside the Temple"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_844" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Our Chariot"][/caption]

We also got to tour the King Tut "museum" area they had. They had detailed replicas of many things such as King Tut's tomb etc.

[caption id="attachment_877" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Mummy"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_878" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Treasure!"][/caption]

Not bad for one stop 2 hour stop. We had to run near the end for fear of missing our boat! The boat won't wait for you if you have a private tour, so we did not want to miss the boat. We headed out on our way after grabbing some food to take along.

[caption id="attachment_879" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="waiting for our food to be prepared"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_868" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Anna adorned with all of her new booty in the van in Cairo, not happy about the drive"][/caption]

One snag in the journey was that apparently there was a traffic accident that completely shut down the high way. We made it to the boat at 6 o'clock. Last boarding being 5:30. Six was when they were pulling out. Well, when they would have pulled out, had their buses been back. That's right, our awesome tour guide and driver were the first one back to the ship! She was so sweet and definitely sounded like she was going to start crying as she called her colleague to find out if they knew if any buses were behind us. I felt so bad for her. Anna was struggling too. The car accident added another hour on to the commute. Once we got back to the ship, we shopped around at the kiosks that were outside and were told by the ship staff that we could go for no more than 10 minutes. Which we adhered to, although when I realized the buses were not back yet, I kind of wanted to jump back in the van and head over to Alexandria library for an inside tour, but that was just a bit of a dream). So after a few minutes (and a few gifts to Anna, who gets free stuff like everywhere apparently) we boarded our ship. What a day! We went out to a specialty restaurant that night too. It was a French place. When we called for a reservation they said they could seat us if we came right then. It was around 6:30. The entire place was empty and I think we saw one other couple while there. I have never had such attentive wait staff before, but when you have a baby and are the only people in an restaurant, you get doted on. The food was good though. The reason the rest of their booked tables didn't arrive is that they were still not back to the ship. The ship did not depart from port until 8 pm!

The next day was an at sea day. Not much to do on that day, but after such a tiring few days, it was well worth it. I went for a morning run around the deck, but now was a bit more scared than before. Between having Anna and worrying about a toddler on a boat and the man overboard I was getting more and more fearful of being on the ship. We also had really bad waves in the middle of the night reaching 21 feet which apparently everyone slept through, except form Anna and I whole were holding onto one another terrified. The waves reached up to deck 7! A few weeks later 2 people died on a smaller ship when the waves reached 26 feet, so that gives you an idea of how much you get tossed about. Anywho, after a morning run, I think I ended watching a movie, and hanging out with the family, etc.

The next day was Malta. Which I knew nothing about but I heard it was beautiful place.

[caption id="attachment_886" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="From the ship deck as we pulled into port in Malta"][/caption]

This is the tour that I arranged myself. I just emailed a tour company told them the kinds of things that interest us and they put together a tour. We went on a wet walk through some palace gardens which were pretty. The best part was that Anna insisted on carrying her own umbrella and all you could see was a moving umbrella with little legs sticking out from under it. ADORABLE!

After the gardens we headed up to a craft village. They had shops that made all kinds of different things. We bought a vase and a penguin made out of blown glass. We also got Anna some trinkets. Then we went to a city called Mdina.

It was up there on my list of favorite places this trip. What a cool city. We walked around (Anna carrying her umbrella of course).

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I saw a church and wanted to tour it. The ticket to tour the church came with a ticket to tour the church museum. We went through the church which was absolutely breathtaking. It was smaller than many most cathedrals that people normally tour, but simply beautiful. So different than St. Peters, so much smaller. It never ceases to amaze me how much time and work and money people put into building things for God.

[caption id="attachment_884" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Inside the church"][/caption]

After the tour of the church we decided to go ahead and check out the museum, after all, even though it didn't look like much. There were tiles and walls that were not fixed and construction stuff everywhere, but we decided to give it a go anyway. I am so glad we did. There was some of the coolest things in there. My father fell in love with the place. My favorite part was in a room that was had coins going back thousands of years. I mean they had coins that Jesus would/could have used, with Caesars picture on them. Holy cow! They had coins that went back MUCH further than that.

[caption id="attachment_888" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Walking through Mdina"][/caption]

We walked around a bit longer and then headed back to the van and off to see the Blue Grotto. I didn't really know what it was exactly until we got there. It is this beautiful formation high above the blue water where waves come and crash into it.

[caption id="attachment_882" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Blue Grotto"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_885" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Family at the Blue Grotto"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_845" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="The Blue Grotto, Malta"][/caption]

Being there made me feel so nervous, it was so high! But it certainly was beautiful. Apparently Drew did not have the same feeling.

[caption id="attachment_890" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Anna walking on the wall near the Blue Grotto"][/caption]

Finally, we drove around a bit and headed back to the ship. Drew and Anna and I poked about for a while at the shops near the boat before we boarded. It was a really cool place.

The final day was an at sea day. Then we landed back in Barcelona. We said good bye to my parents :(.

[caption id="attachment_901" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Thank you Grandma and Pop Pop"][/caption]

Then headed into town to hang out for a while until our rental car was ready. We ended up walking to a park with Joan and Fred before they headed to the airport.

Once we got our car it was off to our Bed and Breakfast about an hour away near Girona. It took us longer than we thought to get there, but it was such a cool place. The house, Mas Abeli, was huge (the pictures are very deceptive), the owners did not speak English so it gave everything a more authentic feel, I thought.

[caption id="attachment_904" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Mas Abeli at night, only pic I have of house "][/caption]

Some things we learned were that apparently winter is not a time to stay somewhere in Spain unless you know if it is heated. Another thing to know is that meals in Spain happen at much different times than we are accustomed to eating. Finally, that Spanish and Catalan are COMPLETELY different languages. But, thanks to Internet interpreting programs, we were able to communicate, albeit slowly. We told our hostess that we would like have dinner at the house on our second night and she said it would be ready at 9. We must have made a face and said is that too early, or too late? We ten took the suggestion of 8. Now 8 pm for dinner is almost like midnight. We normally eat around 5 or 5:30. We went to a Carefour which is a European grocery store chain and bought some things to snack on while we waited for things to be opened. We went out to dinner the first night, but NOTHING was opened. Never saw anything like it. We figured that maybe it was because it was more of a summer place? Nope. It is because people eat so late there. We found an Indian place that served pizza that was opened and we went there. We have found Indian Kebab restaurants often serve Pizza as well, who knew! The food good and we got to watch Hindi Music videos. They were covering a lot of popular songs in Hindi. I even got to see "If you like you then you should have put a ring on it" performed in sari dress! How fun! When we finished our meal and left is when we started to see the streets getting a bit busier. It was after 8, so some of the babies were starting to come out, huh? What a different culture! Then we went back to the B and B and settled down to sleep. It was SOOOOOO cold! Next morning, we woke up and ate breakfast. Our hostess made it ready for us early.
[caption id="attachment_911" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Playing with Dolores\' toys while mom and dad eat breakfast"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_897" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="breakfast at Mas Abeli "][/caption]

After we ate, we both felt kind of sick. I Knew exactly why too. She had made a delicious sweet bread. Served hot cocoa, and several other things, including juice. I knew what was wrong because even though I don't have diabetes (at least not yet, fingers crossed) I know when my blood sugar is high and that was my problem. So, we set out to go see Girona. It was cold. We walked around for a little while and the tourist things were not opened yet, so we decided we needed to go into a coffee shop and get warm. We decided to go and get some hot cocoa (more sugar). I also ordered a ham and cheese sandwich to get more protein in me. When the cocoa arrived, I almost laughed. It looked like a cup full of melted chocolate bars, it was THAT thick!

[caption id="attachment_905" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="melted chocolate bars?"][/caption]

Delicious. I had about 3 sips I think.

Anna thought it was the best!

Drew couldn't even finish his. So you know how rich it was.

We spent a lot of time hanging out trying to keep warm, etc. There were even some people in there that had a small dog with them, which Anna thought was just great. After we were sufficiently warm (this was really the warmest we had been since the ship as no place seemed to have heat), we decided to walk around town. It was such a charming town. This is what I picture when I think of Spain. Narrow streets, old buildings, little shops with all kinds of treasures to discover.

[caption id="attachment_903" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Girona"][/caption]

There was a little river running through town too. Making it all the more beautiful.

We ended up taking a tour of the cathedral in the town, which was a lovely place.

[caption id="attachment_910" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="the top of stairs at the cathderal "][/caption]

We also ate lunch at a Pizza place, but it was a fancier pizza place than the previous night, and we ended up not eating pizza. And we were sat near the kitchen (extra warm!). Drew ordered a calzone and I had some Mushroom cream sauce pasta. Everything was delicious!

We also went up to see Salvador Dali's Museum. Which was about an hour drive away. Anna and I both passed out on the way there. Drew decided to drive an extra exit to go to France, even though we didn't have our passports with us as they were at the B&B, he thought it would be cool just to drive to boarder and turn around, he also thought it would be really cool to do it while we were asleep so we would never know. I woke up a couple minutes too soon I guess. So I was awake for our u turn.

[caption id="attachment_902" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="France "][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_896" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="back to Spain "][/caption]

He was right, it was fun. I didn't know much about Salvador Dali, but his stuff is really unique. Anna LOVED it. I did to. I am not a museum person, but his stuff was great. Everything was so creative and he used all kinds of mediums, it was definitely not room after room of the same stuff, which is sometimes how I feel at other places. Oh, and there were loads of pictures with belly buttons.

[caption id="attachment_908" align="alignnone" width="225" caption="I have on too!"][/caption]

On our way out of the Museum we stopped by the gift shop and Anna picked up one of the persistence of time magnets and put it on her wrist and said clock. We were shocked for a few reasons. One was that we never wear watches and where she figured out that it goes on your wrist was fascinating, the second was because not only does she recognize a clock and know the word, but she recognized a surreal clock. Impressive. We walked around town a bit after we toured the place. I grabbed a warm Belgian waffle with Chocolate sauce (which I fell in love with in Amsterdam) and Drew got some ice cream (why on the coldest weekend ever knowing we would return to a cold room, escapes me). Then we ventured back to the B&B. We put Anna to sleep and went downstairs for some quiet time by the fire and a delicious home cooked meal. And I Mean Delicious! It was so worth eating 3 hours later than normal. We went off to bed, as predicted, a very cold bed. Next morning We ate breakfast and spent a little time around Mas Abeli before heading out. We walked around and looked at the horse and donkey.

[caption id="attachment_909" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="the horse at Mas Abeli"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_907" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="our hostess Dolores and her horse"][/caption]

The dogs and birds.

[caption id="attachment_899" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="dogs "][/caption]

It was a lot of fun. We said our goodbyes to Dolores (our hostess) and headed out on our way home.

[caption id="attachment_912" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="waiting for the plane to board"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_894" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="I need a rest!"][/caption]

What an Amazing Trip!