Tuesday, March 29, 2016

March Boondoggle

I had never heard the term "Boondoggle" until Steve started going on random "business trips".  Some business trips are necessities and some are "helpful" but you get perks along with the trips.  The latter kind of business trips are deemed "Boondoggles".  A few weeks ago, I created my own Boondoggle which aligned with a work Boondoggle, and we headed out on a week long trip!

Bean and I headed to Indiana on Thursday morning. I had volunteered to help out my old piano teacher with a contest she's involved in every year.  I extended the trip by adding on some extra days to hang out with family.  Steve joined us on Friday night once he got off work.  We had two separate cars for the remainder of our Boondoggle, but we purposefully planned it that way.  We stayed at my parents through Sunday afternoon, soaking up lots of family time!

(Pile-up on Ahm's bed -- dog included!  Bean has it figured out that if she doesn't like what's on the tv in the living room, she can convince Ahm that they should lay in her bed and she gets to pick whatever she wants.  My nieces apparently didn't mind Bean's pick and joined in on the fun.)

On Sunday after lunch, we headed (in our separate cars) to Cincinnati.  I was a little stressed about the driving alone with Bean.  The only long drives I've done with her alone, is between our house and my parents.  I know all the stops and the best places to stop and switches movies for her when she needs it.  However, this time, I'd be driving unfamiliar roads and not know where the best places to stop would be.  PLUS, she started the trip off asleep.  So I was at a complete loss of knowing how well (or long) she'd sleep or how many movies she'd need.  Luckily for me, she slept almost the whole time. She was awake the last 30 min.  I was able to reach her interactive books which kept her entertained the rest of the way -- no need to stop!

We met Scott and Ashley at our favorite Cincy hangout -- Ikea! We needed to make several purchases to make up Bean's new "big girl room".  We had warned them it would be a long trip, but I don't think they were fully prepared for our Ikea madness.  In the end, we came out with an extendable bed (it can be small for a toddler and can pull out to be a full twin), a book/toy organizer, a dresser, duvet & cover, and a wall light.  We let Bean pick out the duvet cover and wall light (let's just say, I'm a little nervous about making this room pull together!).  After we made our purchases, we headed (in 3 cars now - if you are keeping track!) to dinner at -- you guessed it -- Dewey's Pizza! Yummm!

(Even though this picture is from when we got home, Bean is modeling off the "colors" bedspread she picked out.  How am I going to make that bold confetti work in her room?!)

While everyone was at work on Monday, Bean and I just hung out around Scott/Ashley's house with Tyson.  The weather was beautiful, so we spent a lot of time out on their deck!  They have a pretty sweet set up. I was able to pull lunch together (and even blog a little) all while being able to watch Bean run around on the deck.  Once everyone was home, we spent the evening celebrating Ashley's birthday! We headed out for a picnic dinner at their local favorite BBQ joint and Ash opened gifts when we got home.

(Bean LOVED playing out on the deck.  She would find a bunch of sticks and keep herself entertained.  She also went through a phase of holding her diaper a bunch that day.  I asked her why and she just said she needed to hold it.  We've been talking to her a lot about using the potty, but she hasn't seemed interested.  Guess it is time to make her interested!)

On Tuesday, Bean and I headed BACK to Indiana to visit with friends (This is why I wanted 2 cars, so Bean and I weren't stuck at the house all day.  We were able to visit some friends and family, yet still be with Steve in the evenings!).  I was able to see two of my old roommates from college and Bean was able to play with my friend's kids and their ducks - ha! The weather was beautiful and we stayed outside nearly all day (we payed for it later with some sunburns, oops!).  After a delightful visit, we headed back to Cincy and got to the house just minutes before Steve returned home - perfect!  Scott/Ashley had run club, so we headed to an Italian version of Chipotle - Piada! We got to make our own pasta bowls.  Bean usually loves pasta, but I am never sure of what she will and won't eat.  This was a hit! When Scott and Ashley got back from running, we finished off her birthday celebration with cake - yum!

(My friend Brianna lives in the country and has a big backyard complete with swing set and duck coup.)

(Bean LOVED meeting the ducks.  Later in the day she said she was scared, but I never saw it while we were there! She bravely pet the duck and liked to chase it. She thought it was especially funny when Brianna tried to make the duck fly.)

(This kid is braver than me.  She picked up a bunch of dried meal worms and put her hand out for the ducks to eat.  I wouldn't mind the duck eating out of my hand, it's the dried meal worm part that I have trouble with!)

(My other roommate from college Julie came to visit, too!  Thanks for loving on our kiddos Julie!)

(Eating up the pasta at Piada.  I don't remember what I got.  I chose a preset dinner bowl and then added in a couple items.  It was delicious!)

On Wednesday, I packed all of our stuff up and headed to northern Cincy to visit with my aunt, uncle and cousin.  They were more than generous and showered us with love! They pulled out toys for Bean to play with and fed us both a great lunch! It was great getting to see them and catch up.  From there house, we headed home to our house.  Bean fell asleep in the car and slept almost the whole time (score again!). I got stuck in a 30 min traffic jam due to a crash.  Steve was supposed to stay in Cincy for a couple hours later, but ended up finishing early.  He left a little bit after me and I was able to inform him of the traffic jam.  He got to bypass it and we got home just around the same time.

Getting away and seeing friends and family was just what I needed!  I love our house and being a stay-at-home mom, but sometimes, even mom's go stir crazy and need their own boondoggles!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Playing Catch-Up & Bean Shenanigans

A lot has happened since our cruise.  I've been really busy between watching an extra kiddo again, working on some random house projects, and sickness. So this will be a brief post, mainly of photos of the past month!

(Even though our Kitchen Remodel was back in August, we still had one last thing to do - paint the ceiling.  So one Saturday we covered up the kitchen and got it done!)

(We had changed the light fixture from a big box with fluorescent bulbs to school house lighting.  You could see the outline of the old lights on our ceiling and it drove me nuts.  We thought maybe we could just paint that area, but we had to do a coat over the whole ceiling.  And if the paint is out, why not do some touch-ups in the dining room and kitchen bathroom, too??)

(So happy to have the ceiling done!)
("Jamberrries!" -- I created a monster.  I've been randomly painting her nails with Jamberry lacquer, but it wouldn't last past a few days.  I finally got the courage to put actual wraps on her fingers.  She's in love with them and constantly asks to have her nails done.  The wraps last on her fingers for over a week, so I'm fine with our weekly nail date!)

(I'm back to watching James once a week - on Mondays.  However, there were a few days that he wasn't allowed at day care over some eye issue.  So we had some extra days with James one week.  At the time, we thought the eye issue wasn't a big deal, but it turned out he was actually sick.)

(James's little eye issue was actually a symptom of a sinus infection which he graciously shared with Bean.  The kids have the same doctor and as soon as I noticed Bean had a fever and cough, I got her into the doctor and on antibiotics.  She felt pretty crummy, but she didn't get too sick since we were proactive about it. Her cough lingered around for almost 2 weeks, but she bounced back to her normal crazy after a couple days.)

(Thanks to a friend I met through Jamberry, she informed me that our library does preschool story time
 sessions.  You sign your kid up before the session starts - for free! It's a 4 week deal, where on Friday mornings the kids are entertained with books, music, and special guests like tortoises! What a fun activity!)

(We had an impromptu lunch date at Applebee's after library and running some errands.  Bean must have loved it - even though she didn't eat much of her chicken or fries - because whenever we pass Applebee's she asks to go eat.)

(Our last snow, which was only a few inches, was the heavy kind of snow that is perfect for packing.  We hadn't been able to get out and play in the snow at all this winter, so Bean was overjoyed when daddy pulled out the snow gear after getting home from work.  He was determined to make a snowman!)

(Bean helped roll the snowballs around.  I've never made a snowman like this before. I've just sort of piled up the snow and kind of shaped it into a snow blob, so this was fun for me!)

(She was adamant that the snowman needed arms and eyes.  She found the sticks and put them in herself.)

(We've had some crazy weather - beautiful warm days mixed in with cold and even snowy days.  On one of those warm days, we spent the afternoon outside - Bean playing & I weeding.  We stopped to share a snack while outside.)

(On the last library session, I was courageous and took James along with us.  I typically watch him on Mondays, but had to swap to Friday because I was gone on Monday.  We survived the library adventure and James found a new love for stickers.)

(I have no words for this crazy kid.  I'm not sure what has brought on her obsession with her aviator hat, but the past few days, she's been putting it on a lot.)

(Bean got a special Easter package in the mail from her "Gran Berry".  It included a bunny with a matching book.  Bean has become attached to it and even took both to bed with her last night.)

Monday, March 21, 2016

Cruising the Atlantic (and only the Atlantic) -- Part 3 - Bonus New York Trip!

On Thursday morning, we headed off the ship, picked up our luggage and then figured out our transportation.  We couldn't decide between calling an Uber of just grabbing a taxi.  The taxis were right there, so we used them.  The ride into New York ended up costing $100! The driver was kind of crazy and it was a hassle to pay (we didn't have cash and they only took credit at the office). So he had to drive us to the office so we could pay before getting us to our destination.  Let's just say, we are true Uber users and so thankful for their efficiency!

We got to our hotel earlier than check-in time, but they had an available room ready and let us check-in (we were hoping just to leave our suitcases, so bonus for us!). It was a cold day, so we decided to spend our day at The Met (art museum).  We took our trusty Uber there and enjoyed the warmth and history in the museum.  Steve got the director's audio tour, so we just followed along that path and saw most of the museum's highlights.  Only other big art museum I've been to before is the Chicago Art museum.  The Met reminded me a lot of it (similar exhibits, but The Met is bigger).  I think Steve was getting tired of me saying, "I've seen that in Chicago" or "I'm tired, I'm gonna sit over there." We stayed at the Met until closing time.

(Checking out some of the armory.  Back in Middle School, my teacher Mrs. B took us to the Chicago Art Museum as a special trip for her medieval ages class to go see their armory.  This is the point where Steve kept hearing, "I've seen that in Chicago.")

(The museum itself has some great architecture!)

(Can you tell I was tired??)

From there, we stood out in the cold for another Uber (seriously, it was super cold and windy.  I was losing it.) which took us to a restaurant for dinner -- Tony's Di Napoli.  Steve had made reservations, but we got there before our time.  They weren't busy and led us straight to a table.  Their portions are big and the server encouraged us to share.  We split a ravioli dish - and it was amazing.  Once we were fed and warm, we headed (via subway) back to our hotel and called it a day.

On Friday, we ate breakfast in our hotel.  We stayed at a Comfort Inn that was on the outer edge of Manhattan.  On the subway, it was the last stop before heading into Brooklyn.  The rooms were very small (we lucked out and were upgraded to a business room which had a little more room) and it was pretty noisy with the traffic outside.  The breakfast area was located down in the basement.  It was very crowded in the mornings! We actually got our food and then took it back to our room to eat.  After we ate and got ready, we took the subway to get to Chelsea Market.

We had signed up for a food tour in Chelsea Market and met up with our tour group.  Our guide was the hilarious - Curt Upton.  He knew everyone in the Market and was super knowledgeable of the area's history and the food.  We later figured out that he does comedy and acting on the side.  He talked with each of the tour members and would learn some information about us and then share with the rest of the group - making it into a big deal.  There was a couple from Alaska, some girls from CA, and even from Brazil.  He kept calling us by our names and whatever information he remembered.  Steve and I were dubbed "Steve and Lindsey from Hurricane Cruise".  He thought it was hilarious that we were on that cruise and would randomly tell people in the different shops we would stop in.

The tour was totally worth the money and a fun experience.  We got to go into several of the different shops in the market and try out what they had to offer:
-Cupcake from a bakery
-Steak tar tar from a meat company
-Quiche from an Italian store
-Biscuits & jam from a bakery
-Veggies & salt from a salt store
-Meat pies & Kale salad from an Australian shop
-Caramels from a candy store
-Meatball subs from a hotel (we walked there after the Market)

(Red Velvet Cupcake -- it was good, but it wasn't "Sara's Sweets" good.)

(Inside Chelsea Market.  It had very interesting decor.  It was very industrial with lots of exposed metal and beams.)

After we finished the actual Market portion, we got to go into Iron Chef Morimoto's restaurant and use this super fancy toilets.  Then we continued our walk through the meat packing district and got to see some neat views of the city.  We ended the tour at a hotel, where we got to go up to the penthouse before tasting some meatball subs in the restaurant. We laughed some more at Curt, got a couple pictures with him, then went on our way.

(Curt being crazy.  He wanted to stage the picture like we were looking at something. And supposedly he plays some boy that dances with Winona Ryder on the movie Little Women.)

("Now look over there!")

We walked back to Chelsea Market thinking we could find a quiet place to sit and maybe get another snack.  However, the market was hopping! We did one pass and decided the craziness wasn't worth it.  We called up an Uber and headed for the afternoon's activity - a visit to the Tenement Museum.  We had a set time for a tour, but was a little early.  So we killed time by watching the movie in the gift shop before our tour was called.  We went on the "Hard Times" tour which took us through a couple of the apartments that immigrants lived in during the early 1900s.  The tour guide told stories of the families that lived in the apartments and explained how they got by.  It was crazy to think about such large families living in 1 bedroom apartments with no running water.  Boy do we have it easy!

(The Tenement apartment we got to tour.  We were on the 2nd level and got to see 3 different apartments. The first one was the shape the apartment was when the Tenement Museum got ownership.  The 2nd and 3rd had been remodeled to appear like the last families were living in them.)

After the "museum" (I thought there would be an actual tour through a museum with artifacts and such, but the Tenement Museum is just a series of different apartments you tour), we used the subway system to go back to our hotel.  It was too early for dinner, so we relaxed in our room a little before heading back out.  I really didn't want to get back out, but Steve had found a BBQ place that he wanted to eat at.  We used the Subway again and had to walk about 5 blocks to get to the restaurant.  The food was really good and worth getting back out for.  There was a little bakery that my friend Sara had mentioned before we left.  There was a shop for it another 5 blocks away from the BBQ that we decided to walk to.

The Momofuku Milk Bar (the shop not the actual bar) was a little hole in the wall place.  I thought it would be more like a bakery with fresh stuff in a case.  There was enough space for 3 people to walk in the door, and then there was a counter with a couple people working behind it. We got a few cookies that were packaged.  I was really confused by the place, but when we ate the cookies later, they were good.  We had to walk the 10 blocks back to the subway, and then headed back to the hotel for the last time!

(Inside the Momofuku shop.  The door to outside was right behind me, with another little counter to the left. It was super small!)

We were able to sleep in a little, grab some breakfast, and then take our last Uber to the airport.  We worried about delays due to some weather, but only got back to Indy about a half hour later than we should've.  Boy were we excited to see our Bean again! She had a great time at Ahm & Abo's house (my parents) and was able to soak up lots of attention and playing with cousins.  It only took us a week for Bean to detox off of all the attention and about 100 "Go Ahm's house?!" questions.

(One excited little girl to have Momma & Daddy back.)

(One not-so-excited little girl to be back at home with just Momma.)

(The struggle is real. I hear you kid.)

Monday, March 14, 2016

Cruising the Atlantic (and only the Atlantic) -- Part 2 - Anthem of the Seas vs a Hurricane

We woke up Saturday morning ready to get on the ship already! I'm the kind of person that vacation doesn't start until I have no more deadlines/times to worry about.  We were able to start boarding at 11:30, so we slept in a little, ate breakfast, packed up our stuff and called an Uber.  We had a great driver who was super talkative and kept us laughing.  He had never driven anyone to the Bayonne port before, but he figured it out.  We ended up being in a super long car line, so we decided to just go ahead and get out of his car and walk the rest of the way (less than a half mile).

Getting through the port and onto the ship was quite simple.  We did a pre-check before going through security which allowed us to just walk onto the ship. Last cruise we went on, it took us over almost 2 hours to get out of the car and onto the ship.  This time, it was more like 20 minutes.  We stepped onto the ship and vacation officially had begun!

(Our statemoom! Little did we know how much time we would spend in there!)

(View from the bed to the door/bathroom. I should've taken a photo of the shower.  It was a glass shower and really nice for a cruise ship!)

We chose this cruise based on the ship - Anthem of the Seas.  It's the 3rd largest ship in the Royal Caribbean family and had lots to offer.  It has a high tech lounge that offers one of a kind shows, roller skating, bumper cars, indoor/outdoor pools, Broadway style shows, and a pod that can take you out over the water.  Our first goal upon getting on the ship was eating, eating, and more eating :).  When it was time for departure, we donned on our winter coats and hats and headed up on deck to watch the ship pass under a bridge.

(First time being bundled up for a boat departure celebration!)

(As the boat sailed out of the harbor, it had to pass under a big bridge (not Brooklyn).  It was neat to watch the top of the ship clear the bridge by what appeared to be just a few feet!)

This was our first Royal Caribbean cruise and tried out some new things like the "dynamic dining".  The ship had 3 main dining rooms (there were additional ones that you had to pay for).  With dynamic dining, we got to pick which restaurant we wanted to eat at and reserve a time.  On our first night, we went to Silk which was Asian inspired.  The main dishes weren't anything impressive, but I fell in love with their sesame rolls and garlic butter.  Yummmm.  I could've just eaten those all dinner.  After dinner, we watched the welcome show and then went to bed.

The next day was Super Bowl Sunday!  I of course donned my Manning jersey all day to support my beloved Broncos.  Little did I know how memorable that Sunday would turn.  We made a reservation to see "We Will Rock You" - a Queen inspired Broadway show at 2:30.  On Saturday before we departed, the captain had warned us of potential rough seas on Sunday due to a storm brewing in the ocean.  He felt confident that he could outrun the storm though.  By 2pm, the ship was rocking pretty good.  We went to the theater and waited for the show to start.  Our cruise director came out before the show and made an announcement about how they were going to start the show, but with the rough seas, they may have to abruptly stop.  The show started and about 20 min in, you could tell that the actors were struggling.  Shortly after a couple dancers slipped, the director came out and cancelled the rest of the show.

We headed back to our room because we didn't have any other plans due to the cancellation.  It was hard to walk up the steps from the rocking.  We just figured it was rough seas mixed with the captain driving the boat fast.  We got to our room and looked out our balcony to realize how high the waves were.  There wasn't much to do other than read or pick something to watch from our 6 available tv stations - TBS (which was based out of Spain and didn't have normal programming, just mostly movies), CNN, ESPN, HLN, a channel like TruTV, and another channel that just showed episodes of The Middle (or at least that's all we ever saw on!).  Nothing was on and the rocking got worse. That's when the director came on and announced that for everyone's safety, they wanted everyone to return to their staterooms.

With that announcement, I started to get a little afraid.  I realized that things were worse than what we (or the captain) initially thought.  Life jackets aren't located in the rooms, but at muster stations.  Our muster station (place you meet in event of an evacuation) was the theater we had just left located on deck 5, we were on deck 12.  I freely admit that I had a slight panic attack at this moment.  Steve was calm and had no fear of the situation.  He immediately comforted me and stopped and prayed.  I quickly came to my sense and realized I couldn't think worse case scenario, but instead had to focus on each passing minute being 1 minute closer to it all being over.

The waves started to get worse and another announcement came on saying we were going through the worst of it.  Steve started feeling queasy as the waves really picked up.  He typically has no issues with motion sickness (ironically, I do) but he was really feeling it (I was fine).  I happened to have some Dramamine with me and gave him some.  He laid on the bed and was pretty useless for awhile.  His uselessness made me be the one that had to be levelheaded and in control.  I took care of his needs and just focused on trying to get him feeling better versus thinking about our real situation.  He just laid on the bed the rest of the time, but I would get up and secure things like glasses and our random toiletries in the bathroom.  You could hear them falling off the shelves and rolling around the floor.  Stuff in drawers and clothes hanging in the closet would shift left and right as the boat rocked.  I had to get up and pee a lot and there were times that I would have to crawl on the floor from the bed to the bathroom because it was too hard to walk.  When I would go to get back into the bed, I had to time the waves right so that the bed was in the high position as I got on.  If it was in the low position, I would continue to roll over the bed and would have to catch myself against the wall.  The scariest part to me was when the wind would hit our balcony door just right and it would pop the seal.  You could hear the wind screeching through and it would make our ears pop.  The director came on with an update and let us know that all pay per view movies would be free the rest of the day.  Despite Steve being sick and useless, we settled on a movie to try to pass the time.  By the time the movie ended, it was Superbowl time! The waves had calmed a little, and the last update from the director/captain said "just a few more hours."

Those "few more hours" ended up being more like 6+.  But at least they kept giving us hope that we were surviving and would be in calmer waters soon. The captain was very open with us over the situation.  He explained his plan of action and would update every hour or so on what was going on.  The storm was too powerful to try to navigate through.  So he had to point the ship in the direction of the wind and then power the engines to just hold position and allow the storm to pass over us.  So basically, the ship sat like a lame duck for about 10 hours (only at the time, they predicted the storm to be less severe and to pass quicker than it was).

The Superbowl was the perfect distraction! Steve was feeling better and we really got into the game.  We were shocked that we had such a clear picture of the game (after all, we were in the middle of the ocean in a hurricane!). I got to watch my beloved Peyton Manning lead his team on to a great victory over the Panthers!  We were getting a little hungry during the game (hadn't really thought of food much until then) and luckily, the director came on letting us know that we could raid whatever was in our mini-fridges for free.  I investigated and found a lot of useless booze, bottles of water, some soda, 2 cans of mini Pringles, 2 Snickers, and 2 packs of m&ms.  So we watched the game and feasted on our junk food.  I drank a diet coke for the first time since before getting pregnant.  Boy was it tastey :).

(Superbowl "feast"!)

(Had to take a shot of how we were surviving the storm! Go Peyton!!)

Once the game ended, we figured the waves would stop anytime soon.  However, the last update that came on around 11 said "a couple more hours" again.  By 1am, we were tired and gave up caring (the waves were significantly smaller).  The waves lulled us to sleep and we woke up the next morning around 8:30 to a very calm ship! Woohoo! We made it!  Announcements came on that food locations were up and running and to be careful while navigating around the ship.

(There was a channel on the tv that would show our boat's position and give stats - wind/direction/speed/temperature/etc.  During the storm, we would flip to this channel a lot to get an idea of how fast we were going - even though we were staying in one spot - and how fast the wind was hitting the ship.  The next morning I took a snapshot of the screen so you could see our "holding position" during the storm.)

We made our way to breakfast and saw lots of crew out and working.  I got a little chuckle out of all the barf bags hanging in stairwells for people to use (and yes we even got to see some barf that did not make it into a bag).  As we made our way to the lido deck, we had to walk some outside. The weather was actually beautiful out, but the damage to the ship was quite obvious.  The pools had been drained and were full of glass, random debris (pieces of the ship's outer shell came off the top, lawn chairs were mangled, etc), electric doors were either stuck open or stuck closed, lots of statue/decor were all in a huge pile on the deck as opposed to being in their right locations.  As we entered the actual buffet location, there was a big section of the ceiling that had fallen.  There were several workers already making good progress on it.

We got our food and ate and let it really sink in what we'd gone through.  We heard other people telling their stories and realized we had it really good! If you were in a decks 5 and below, the waves would crest up over the balconies, and enter through the door.  The water would then slosh through the staterooms and into the hallways.  Later when we walked deck 5, there were lots of air dryers being used to dry the carpets.  Others had stories of water coming up through their shower drains, or people puking in their ice buckets all night.  It really is a miracle that of the 6,000+ people on board, there were only 4 minor injuries reported (lacerations from broken glass).

After we ate, we made our way to the Solarium (basically outside deck with glass all around it, so you get the view but controlled weather).  We found a couple of lawn chairs and were going to sit and read.  However, we started to notice lots of people around us watching news stories of our ship on their tablets!  We quickly realized that the ship had gotten national attention and I started worrying about our families freaking out about us.  The ship had an internal wifi that you could use to access their app, but that was it.  I went ahead and put my wifi on just to see if maybe there was information on the app about what had happened.  But all the sudden, I started receiving emails and internet messages.  For whatever reason, the internet was working (about 30 min later, the director came on and announced they'd opened internet up for everyone to use at no charge).  I was able to chat with a friend and have her text my mom that we were fine.  I then sent out a mass email to our family to let them know what happened and that we were fine! We did see news reports from CNN on our tv in our room later that afternoon. Let's just say, Nancy Grace had it allllll wrong!

We were supposed to port in Orlando by noon on Monday; however, it was obvious we were way off course.  There were all sorts of announcements all day saying that we'd have a delayed port time in Orlando, but that the main office in Miami was working on the scheduling and figuring out what the rest of the cruise would look like.  It was obvious that no one knew what was really going on, but at least they were trying to keep us all in the loop.  Activities were planned and they were doing their hardest to get the ship back to normal.  There wasn't just the obvious clean up of the random debris on the outer deck, but I'm guessing they lost a lot in the kitchens/storage areas.  Coffee mugs were few and far between the rest of the cruise (they did have disposable cups to use, though).  I noticed some other "short cuts" like packaged butter vs. the butter being served in dishes like the first night.

Eventually, we were finally notified that the ship would not be headed towards FL as planned.  They used a ploy about another potential storm brewing off the coast and decided it best for everyone to just end the cruise and get back to Bayonne.  After we were off the ship several days later, did we get the information that one of the engine's system's had burned out all it's gears and needed repair.  Steve and I were still in good spirits.  Other than never reaching warm weather, we made the best of our cruise.  The director did a good job cramming the highlights of a 7 day cruise into 3 days.  We got to eat lots of great food (even though it took Steve a couple days for his stomach to stabilize and want food), enjoyed great entertainment, and most of all -- had a great kid free break!

(Steve was bound and determined to use our balcony, even if it was cold! The warmest it got was mid 50s one day the day after the storm, but before returned back north.)

(Once we were well on our way back to Bayonne, I took another snapshot of our ships's path from the beginning, through the storm, and our return.  The loop/squiggle is from the storm.  Then you can see how far south we went before the decision was made to return back to original port.  We did experience some choppy seas again on Tuesday, but nothing compared to Sunday!)

(This may seem lame to some, but I thought it was super cool.  Before entering the lido (buffet) area, you were funneled through a hand washing station! There was crew there encouraging you to use it.  I thought it was great!)

(One of the technologies highlighted on the cruise is the "bionic bar".  You order your drinks on a tablet which is then sent to the bar.  When your drink is being made, it is shown up on the screen. Steve wanted to try it out just to experience.  You can see the information of his "Green Lagoon" being made.)

(The drinks are made by robots.  All the different liqueurs are stored upside down on the ceiling.  The cups and carbonated drinks were located in those squares behind the robots.  They'd move around, grab the cups, put the cups up to the right liquor, etc and make the drinks.)

(Showing off his drink, which he only took a sip of. Ha.)

(This ship was all about technology.  Another big selling point was the 270 cafe - which offered a huge panoramic view off the back of the ship.  At night, screens would cover the windows and they could display scenes and all sorts of stuff on there.  We got to see the big show offered in this theater - Specter's Cabaret.  To me it was a trip fest, but it was a one of a kind show.  It had aerialists, robot screens, and the different sections of the stage would raise and lower.)

(One night we went to the "silent disco".  We knew about this going into the cruise. It was supposed to be one of the last nights and was disappointed that we would miss it with the shortened trip.  However, it was the director's favorite event and he squeezed it into the schedule.  Everyone gets a pair of headphones that toggles between 2 different music stations - green or blue.  You then only hear the music through the headphones.  So people around you are dancing and singing, yet they may be listening to different music than you.)

(Silent Disco Selfie)

(We stayed for a little bit. Highlight for me was when half were singing Rockin' Robin while others were dancing and singing to "Bye Bye Bye".  The crew who were in charge of the event were really going crazy. It was a fun time!)

(One night I needed to get some ice water before bed.  Steve didn't want to go with me so I went off on my own.  I went on a long circuitous route to find it and discovered this artwork in one of the stair wells.  I told Steve about it when I got back but he thought I made up there being "Mickey Mouse donuts".  I tried to find it later in the trip but couldn't remember the path or stairwell it was on.  Finally on the last day, we ran into it! He thought the donuts made up the Mickey head, and didn't realize I meant they were legit Mickey Donuts. There was all sorts of random artwork featured around the ship and hindsight I wish I took some more photos!)

There was more confusion about when we would return to Bayonne. The issue wasn't the ship getting back to port, but the port having space for the ship to dock.  We were told we could be back at port as early as Wednesday morning, when reality it didn't dock until 8pm on Wednesday night.  We had to option to get off the ship that night (had to be off by midnight) or stay the night and depart Thursday morning.  We took option 2.  However, we still had to "go through immigration" on Wednesday.  So we were corralled along with everyone else on the ship to go through a specific location and turn in our customs sheet.  The agent we handed it to didn't look at our paper work, our passports, or even our faces.  You could tell they were just going through motions because of legalities.  Whatever.  I got our stuff all packed up and we enjoyed 1 last night on the boat (even if it was docked).

And for those of you wondering how we were compensated:
-Drink package purchases were refunded
-Internet packages refunded (didn't apply to us, but we did get free internet the rest of the trip!)
-Free movies
-Free minibar "purchases"
-Free all you can drink "Happy Hour"
-Full refund of trip
-Up to $150 refunded for changed flights (we chose to keep our flight and have bonus days in NY)
-Parking reimbursed (didn't apply to us, we did submit our taxi ride from port to NY after cruise, but awaiting response)
-50% off voucher to book and sail on another cruise by March 15, 2017
-We also had lots of on board credit that we had to burn.  We didn't figure it out until the last day and didn't get to take full advantage of that credit, but we did come out with several free t-shirts.  Unfortunately, none of them said "I survived the Anthem of the Seas." Marketing opportunity missed!