Friday, June 20, 2014

The New Job

McKayla got hired as a full-time CNA (certified nursing assistant) at Carrongton Court this week. It is an assisted living canter. She is excited to be using her training. She started on Wednesday and it was a baptism by fire! There were 100 extra patients that day because of some special event. She came home exhausted! Yesterday went much better and she came home in good spirits. She is just getting ready to walk out the door for day 3. Her shifts have either been 12-8:30 or 2-10:30. They feed her dinner. She has purchased several new pairs of scrubs and I must say that she looks cute in them! The only drawback McKayla can see is that she only has 19 days until Brandon leaves and this job will sure limit how much time she'll be able to spend with him.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Med Cruise part 7 - the trip home

As awesome as our trip was, we were both ready to come home! We missed everyone and McKayla was worried about finishing up a few things for school and getting ready for graduation. It was on our way home that we experienced a miracle and for that we are truly grateful. That may be what we remember most from our trip. On Saturday, our last day in port, I checked the status of our flight. We fly standby (due to Kevin's job as a pilot). The price is right (our flight cost us less that $140 for both of us) but it can be stressful. Indeed, we were stressed when I saw that our flight was showing only 1 available seat and only 1 authorized meaning they could only sell one more seat. Sometimes the authorized is more because they know from past experience approximately how many people will not show up for the flight. In other words, the flight was full! To add to that, McKayla and I were only numbers 18 & 19 on the standby list. We were NOT going to get on that flight. There were also NO other options for getting out that day. We both started praying. We wanted to go home so badly. We talked about staying on the cruise ship until we had to depart (that way we'd be able to sleep in and get plenty of food before finding a hotel). In the end, we decided to trust the Lord that he would hear our prayers. The trip to the airport was a nightmare. I didn't have enough Euros to take a cab (found out later that I still had 10 Euros but I had just overlooked it - that would have solved all our problems). We didn't even think we had enough to take the Metro. So, we walked to where we had gotten off the bus from the airport. That bus was only 1.90 Euros each on our way there. We got there only to find out that they imposed a tax on the trip to the airport so it was 5.90 Euros each. Not a problem because there was a credit card machine I could use to buy the tickets. NOT! The machine wouldn't take my card because I didn't have a PIN number to enter (it was a credit card not a debit card). I might've been able to override that but I couldn't read the instructions because I don't speak or read Spanish. So, we decided to try the Metro. We did have enough Euros for that so we got on but when we had to switch trains, we found out that Barcelona does their Metro in zones so you have to pay for each zone. We were going to cover 3 zones. Crap! So, we found an information booth that told us there was a hotel upstairs that would change our dollars for Euros. The hotel refused. So, we were heaven only knows where in Barcelona with no Euros. Luckily, we found a cab that would take my credit card (although he had some difficulty with that too). We got to the airport and checked our flight status again. No change. Still only 1 seat and we were 18 & 19 on standby. I checked other flights leaving Barcelona and all were overbooked. We still continued to wait. Next thing we knew, they actually paged me. I went up to the gate agent and she told me they could get one of us on. That was a miracle in and of itself. How in the world? I went back to tell McKayla and she started crying (understand she is NOT a crier - EVER). She didn't want to leave me stranded alone in Barcelona and she was also afraid she would get stuck in NYC. There was no guarantee she'd get on the flight from NYC to SLC and I warned her that no hotel would rent an 18-year-old a room for the night - she'd be spending the night in the airport if she didn't get on the flight to SLC. (I forgot that Kevin would be checking and could've flown to NYC so she wouldn't be alone there). McKayla didn't know what to do but I decided she needed to take the flight. We went back to the gate agent and told her we'd take the seat. I think the agent could see McKayla was upset and she told me, don't have her get on yet. We may still get you both on. Guess what? They did! We both got on!!!!! Apparently, there was a guy ahead of us on the standby list who was flying with someone who was below us. He was hoping we would say we wouldn't split up because then his companion would have gotten on. Instead, when we said we'd take the seat, that guy decided to reamin in Barcelona with his companion. I was so grateful we'd made the decision to split up! We boarded the plane still unable to believe that numbers 18 & 19 on the standby list were going home! More people did not show up for the flight than expected and most people from the standby list hadn't shown up figuring they'd never get on. It turned out to be exceptionally fortuitous that we got on that flight because we watched the flights for the next couple of days and they were so full that we wouldn't have gotten home until Wednesday. We even made it onto the NYC-SLC flight so we were home in our own beds Sunday night! So thrilled about that! It had been a very long day (we had been up for almost 24 full hours) but we were home! I testify the Lord hears and answers prayers and can perform miracles.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Med Cruise part 6 - this and that

This was my fourth cruise and McKayla's third; however, it was our first time on Norwegian. We loved it! They did a few extras that we just liked such as meeting us before we boarded but after our shore excursions with glasses of cold lemonade or ice water. They were also very conscientious about sanitation spraying our hands before we entered dining areas and when we reboarded the ship. They had freestyle dining so we had lots of choices about when and where we ate. Also, they had crepes every night and McKayla and I took advantage of that each night. I usually had a nutella/strawberry crepe and McKayla usually had 2 strawberry and cream crepes. Yum!

This ship was also the very largest one we've ever been on or have even ever seen. It was really large but this picture does not do it justice.
We had awesome entertainment on board. We saw a Cirque Dreams show that was great! We also saw Legends in Concert which was singing impersonators like Prince. Our very favorite was Blue Man Group! They were awesome and so much fun!
It is always a treat to watch the sunsets when you're at sea!
The ports had their share of street entertainers. Italy was filled with "statues" like this lady who looked like a gold statue:
or this man who appears to be sitting in mid-air:
They had this large movie screen on the back of the ship and McKayla enjoyed a movie or two from our lounge chairs.
I always love the towel animals! It is so much fun to go to your room at night and find what animal they've made for you.
They also had what they called Epic Bounce. You could bounce really high on this trampoline and do front and back flips. McKayla was really good at the flips.

Of course, there were also the usual accoutrements. Soft serve ice cream anytime you want. Basketball and soccer courts. Games and activities. We went to a Q&A with the captain, head chef, and activities director and the info they told us was interesting. I joined a "Name That ABBA Tune" game and won that. Then I won the Sudoku puzzle challenge and then I also won a general trivia contest. For all of my efforts, I won a Norwegian cruise line water bottle. Mostly, McKayla and I just had a wonderful time!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Med Cruise part 5 - Cannes

After Florence, Cannes was my next favorite place! Part of that may stem from the fact that the previous 2 days had involved lots of walking and some stress as we'd traveled on our own and then Cannes was just a welcome, relaxing reprieve. We had decided that Cannes would be a great place to relax on the beach and we did!

The Mediterranean was so incredibly blue that I was in love with it instantly!
There were yachts everywhere.
McKayla and I walked down the street until we found this stretch of Midi Beach. We laid out our towels, stripped down to our swimsuits, read, and took naps. The temperature was absolutely perfect! The sun was warm on my skin but the breeze was cool so the day was very pleasant. I splashed around in the water a bit. The water was a bit chilly at first but after the initial shiver it just felt refreshing as well. The sand was nice too.
We climbed up a hill going up a very picturesque narrow street and had incredible views from the top.
We saw a man on his rooftop gardening. We also saw this lady out hanging laundry.
Originally we had thought we might take the ferry to St. Marguerite Island but decided not to. St. Marguerite is home to the fort that was the inspiration/film piece for "Man in the Iron Mask". This is the view of the island from our ship.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Med Cruise part 4 - Pisa and Firenze

Firenze! Need I say more? Florence was my favorite! It is everything Italy is supposed to be - gorgeous Tuscan countryside driving into it, sculptures and artwork everywhere you look, narrow streets lined with tall colorful buildings with balconies. I loved it!

Our first stop of the day was Pisa. The baptistry is on the far left, cathedral in the center, and leaning tower on the right. We learned that the construction of the tower was halted at the third floor because it had shifted and started to lean due to the waterlogged sand it was built upon. After a period of time, construction was restarted. They built the final 3 floors at an angle trying to compensate for the lean so if you look closely, you can actually see a bend in the tower.
The baptistry was really beautiful!
I also thought the cathedral was beautiful!
The obligatory picture of McKayla holding up the tower.
McKayla and I ducking as the tower comes down on us!
The countryside.
Palazzo Vecchio in Florence (including interior shots).
The most spectacular building we saw on our trip (and that's saying a lot) was the Duomo in Firenze! Oh my gosh! I took so many pictures of it and none of them do it justice. Wow!
Along the Arno River

The Ponte Vecchio - the only bridge to not be bombed in World War II. Originally, the buildings on it were butcher shops. They are now high-end jewelry stores.
McKayla and I on the Ponte Vecchio.
McKayla on the Ponte Vecchio.
The Palazzo Pitti (now the center of their government).
McKayla on one of the narrow streets.
A street we wandered down complete with lots of street artists.

A copy of Michelangelo's David. McKayla and I did not see the real thing as we did not want to go to the Uffizi Gallery. Art galleries are really not our thing and, besides, they won't let you take pictures of the real David anyways.
Just one of the many, many statues, fountains, etc we passed.