Soooo there was this awesome cruise and she’s a girl and pregnancy is… um.

So back when I last typed up my crazy life story there was a beaner. She’s a girl and her name is going to be Lady A(for further reference), and she still enjoys bean burritos and now fruit.  See the fruit thing started in Europe…

From the tear-away calendars I made for the folks back home. It was cute, but slightly inaccurate as to how the trip actually happened.

On May 25th, my adorable cousin, The Future Tooth Fairy, and I finally got to go on our trip of a lifetime. We had been planning, and expecting this trip for four years. It was like a dream. We were actually going to get to go on our European Adventure. Even though I was now married and then pregnant. There are rules about traveling whilst pregnant, and I understand why they are put into place. It’s slightly uncomfortable to be pregnant on a journey of a lifetime. At least I wasn’t yet rolling around with a cantaloupe up my shirt yet.

Enough about the belly.

On our amazing journey we learned several unexpected things.

At SHV… ready to board our flight… still ready… two hours later boarding a barely serviced plane *stinky bathroom included* and then- rush flight to ATL.

Always fly at 6:00 am out of SHV. Shreveport Regional Airport is remote and tiny. Get out as fast as you can, cause it ain’t like Dallas. You can’t just hop another flight to get there. (no matter where “there” is, it surely has a larger airport than SHV) Thanks to a crazy plane mishap, we almost missed our flight to Barcelona. We arrived in ATL just in time to board our flight. This means by the sheer skin of our teeth. I have never run so fast through an airport in my life. If we hadn’t caught that flight, we would have been delayed in ATL for an overnight stay, not cool, when we had reservations and tickets and plans for Spain. We were the most disheveled, dehydrated individuals to board that flight. Tooth Fairy and her husband Unc B, almost didn’t make it. They got off at the wrong concourse and the rest of us were already in line for boarding. Fairy Godmother and The Future Tooth Fairy were supposed to have already boarded, they were the only disgruntled pair in the first class section. Thank goodness the Fairy Godmother is the FAIRY GODMOTHER OF FAIRY GODMOTHERS!!! Because she and FTF were riding first class, they held the plane for our baggage. We made it! and OUR BAGS made it! Thank you Jesus!

Drink water. We were going to load our carry ons with important things like snacks and H2O at ATL. The only thing we saw in that airport were the signs pointing us to our concourse and then our flight. There were convenience stores, of course, but they were mere blurs on our mad dash to the plane. When we landed after our meal and six hour nap, my feet were swollen. I had consumed a very salty meal and as much water as they offered, but it wasn’t enough to prevent the swelling. DRINK and PEE! It’s important.

Know stuff about the foreign place you are landing.  Yes, there were signs with English on them, however the main language in Barcelona isn’t Spanish. We read the signs and the top, main, in BOLD FACE lettering language was a local dialect called Catalonian. Brilliant. It’s an odd, interesting lingo and a cross between French, Spanish, and Italian(imagine that, being on the Med and all) and none of us could really read it, forget understanding it. So on signs there would be Catalonian and Spanish, and sometimes if you were very lucky, English.

Use a travel agent if at all possible.I know this is going to be a shock, but travel agents usually know how to travel. It’s like, their job, or something.  Our agent got us in contact with an affordable company called Autoventures.  They do whole day and half day tours of cities. The company hires guides who know their stuff and their city and who drive you around on a private tour. When we reached Barcelona, we were scheduled for a half day tour of the city and the futbol stadium, Camp Nou.

Waiting for our driver

The driver was very helpful, taking us to see the outside of La Sagrada Familia, the unfinished church by Gaudi. He showed us many interesting buildings of the city, things built for the Olympics when they were held there and things built for the two world’s fairs held there. Barcelona is an architecture dream. It was very interesting, there’s a part of me that wants to go back to see it awake and not groggy from jetlag. You know, call me crazy, but viewing a city through sleep- deprived eyes, isn’t the best way to do it.

The unfinished church, La Sagrada Familia

The church should be finished in 2022… it’s not for a lack of money at present, but a lack of TIME. The details that are going into the structure are awe inspiring. They only have to demolish a condemned apartment to finish it, you know, things like that. We got to see the home stadium of Lionel Messi- my soccer hearthrob- Camp Nou. FC Barcelona’s Stadium is bigger than Death Valley, and they plan on building a bigger one to hold all of their fans!

After taking us to the stadium, our driver took us to our hotel where we checked in and left our luggage in our rooms. We then took a slight  long walking tour of the city. We saw several awesome Gaudi structures, including the lightposts. We went to a really awesome Italian place for lunch. Being closer to the actual country, they have more authentic Italian food. I can alway tell we’re getting close when they have squid ink pasta. Yeah, it’s black and all. Back to our learning tips. This next one is crucial.

Feed the Italian lady. I’m not referring to myself… I’m referring to The Tooth Fairy. We were in a pastry/ gelato shop and after four of six of us got our food, Tooth Fairy was about to order her goodies and the shop lady ignored her and went to help someone else. Death to the SHOP LADY. From that point on, we learned how crabby a 4’10 individual can become when denied chocolate. She was not to be placated. she was NOT going to buy ANYTHING from these PEOPLE and that woman could go TO HELL as far as she was concerned, denying The Hobbit food was a bad move.  We sometimes lovingly call our Tooth Fairy “the Hobbit”, because of how she resembles the individuals in Tolkein’s books. She enjoys her meals, she likes peace and quiet, and she doesn’t care much about the goings on of the Big Folk. So really and truly this tip should be Feed the Hobbit.

Take naps where and when you can. When traveling, devout Catholics never have the excuse not to go to Mass. The Mass is the same everywhere. Sure, it could be in a different language, anything from English to Vietnamese is possible. However, the aerobics are the same, the worship is the same, The God is always the same. In Europe, the churches are amazing. The architecture is breath-taking, the chapels and everything is so OLD!  Something I read once holds very true to Europeans and Americans. “Americans think that a hundred years is a long time, while Europeans think a hundred miles is a far distance.” When a culture thinks that something from the Depression era is Antique, that culture has no concept of “old.” Any who. Where does the nap fit in? Well, this lovely Saturday vigil we found a church. It was the Cathedral of Barcelona, no less.

The lovely altar inside the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia

The barely shown- gated area below the altar is the crypt of St. Eulalia, virgin and martyr. Us Catholics and our dead people, we crack me up. Bodies and Crypts and Tombs, oh my!  We wanted to at least try to make it through Mass so we found a pew and parked it. Remember that language thing I was talking about earlier? Yeah. Mass was in Catalonian and there were no books to follow along. We couldn’t even pretend  to follow along. All we knew were those three things: Jesus was here, we could and did pray and thank Him for getting us there safely, and the Catholic Aerobics were generally identical to the ones back home. We couldn’t even say the sign of the cross! It wasn’t Spanish! Ah well, I got an amazing homily, which later I found, after jerking my eyes open in shock and having to swallow and sit up, was a dream. Hey, God speaks. It’s like Dumbledore says to Harry,”Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?””

My message was simple. “Be grateful for all that you are given. You are given much.” Deep Jesus words. In a homily nap. Nice.

We then ventured back to the hotel. Two thirds of us took a shower and ventured back out for food, Handsome and myself and peanut, Unc B and The Tooth Fairy. (She was much better after a quick nap) We took part in tapas,  which is like bar hopping but for food- bar snacks and drinks. That night was extremely loud and happy because just a few days before, FC Barcelona won the Copa del Rei- The King’s Cup- and there was to be a huge celebration at the stadium and a parade throughout the city that night.  The FG and FTF went to bed early and woke up early and ready to rock the next morning. Our little group of four and a half stayed out until sundown- which was about 9:45 and then headed to bed. I’m pretty sure I slept like a dead person and was out before ten. We woke up at about eight thirty and headed to breakfast on the hotel. It was pretty good, my favorite part were the melon slices and hot chocolate… and the baby wouldn’t let me eat HAM. The stuff Barcelona is famous for and princess prissy won’t let me try it.  Thanks Kid. Ah well. The rest of the food was ok.

We then got our stuff downstairs to impatiently wait on the bus to take us to the ship. The Norwegian Epic was to take us on our journey and we could not WAIT to board her!

Lovely ladies await their transportation…

When we arrived, we went through the security checkpoints and looked for our area to check in. Fairy Godmother strikes again. Next tip:

Cruise first class when you can. She found that in order to go to certain restaurants and lounges on the boat, we had to be part of a certain section of the ship. So she went to find out if she could upgrade us. She could, she did, and we are eternally grateful. The rooms were amazing. For reference see here.

The shower view

Ready to sail away! After a brief, required safety meeting, The Haven guests were invited to Posh, our exclusive lounge and deck for mimosas, and for preggers, a fruit juice cocktail.

Handsome discovered a new ability: he can always sense when we are moving- aboard ship. He was the first to let us know that we were leaving Barcelona. We discovered my pregnancy fruit obsession aboard the Epic. Everyone received a fruit basket and I ate ALL of our fruit. Except apples. Lady A and I share a disdain for apples, which makes me happy.

We ate a lobster dinner that night in The Epic Lounge, our complimentary first class restaurant were they practically learned our names and by the end of our trip knew our preferences.  Handsome and I bought the drink sticker, a special sticker that allowed us to receive non alcoholic beverages anywhere on the ship, I got the addition of juices in my drink package and got an extra special sticker.

The first day on our cruise was our only day at sea. All the ladies got spa treatments. I got my very first pregnancy massage and I want another, stat! All the fairies got seaweed wrap massages and the aunts got their nails done. FTF and I had already gotten ours done at home. That night we attended the Cirque Dinner and Dreams show. The food was ok. but the show was amazing! Acrobats of all kinds entertained and amazed us! There were clowns everywhere!

The next day was Future Tooth Fairy’s Birthday!!! What a way to celebrate! We had a Pompeii, Sorrento, Capri excursion all planned and we had a great day full of history and beautiful views.

We first went to Pompeii for the history.

The streets of Pompeii- uncommonly deserted- this picture was taken because our guide, Enzo took us the back way around the site. We got rare views of the city because we took this route.

We marveled at the city, and though there’s still city left to uncover, the archaeologists are now currently working on restoring what has already been uncovered before moving further. Tourists cause a great bit of damage to this historical site.

The Newlyweds in Pompeii

In Sorrento, we ate at a decent restaurant that you could tell that their food was mostly made to sell. In my Family we have discovered that there are three types of food. Made to sell, made to eat, and made to give away. Free hot dog meals, continental breakfasts, and the like are made to give away. Made to sell options are found anywhere people sell food (duh). And made to eat food… that’s food made with love. Ridiculously fancy restaurants, Mama’s table, Grandmama’s table, rare spots in the world… food made to eat.

Quaint restaurant in Sorrento

We marveled at a wood shop where they made inlaid wood carving. Tables, chairs, music boxes, picture frames, trays… I decided that if I ever get a hundred bucks to get whatever I don’t need, I’d get a jewelry music box. That shop was really amazing. The three of us young (under thirty) people had finished looking at the wares early, so we left the adults in the shop, still oooing and aaahhhing over ceramics and other such stuff. We went in search of GELATO!!! Oh yeah babe. We found a quaint stand and ordered a cone each. We returned to the shop and the adult were only just finishing. We then hopped a boat from Sorrento to Capri.

Capri was the most beautiful place I have ever seen!

Look at that water. The Future Tooth Fairy told us we could have just left her there. I could see why!

Our Fairy Godmother’s favorite view of Capri… still a good view! Not seeing bad parts of this place…

Handsome and I in the Villa Krupp Gardens.

After a hike to the  best view in the town, we went in search of a bathroom and gelato. My Handsome was the one to save the day. He found a gelateria with a restroom inside.(In Europe you can only use the potty if you buy something from that place. It’s not just a common nicety, it’s required for pee pee privileges.)

Of course, Handsome had found THE BEST GELATO IN THE WORLD!

Handsome and the Future Tooth Fairy pose with their treats, Chocolate for Handsome(of course) and Lemon and Pistachio for the Birthday Girl!!!

We are all smiles after a trip to the potty and fresh gelato in front of us! FTF and TF had the same Lemon and Pistachio and Unc B had Pistachio and Chocolate. I continued with my fruity theme of Lemon and Strawberry.

We have the best Fairy Godmother!!! She picked lemon.

Aren’t those desserts just plain lovely?!? We enjoyed some time in the shade to cool off a bit before heading back towards the Ship.

The next day was to be the hottest one for us. Rome was next on the agenda. We were required to wear long enough (at or below the knee) dresses and all men must wear pants in churches and especially at St. Peter’s Basilica. Our guide took us everywhere and gave us the BEST tour of Rome money can buy. We didn’t get to go inside the Colosseum, it’s lines were out of this world, however, he did take us to many other interesting historical sites, including St. Paul outside the Walls, St. Peter in Chains, and many more places besides! We finished our day in the Vatican Museum where we spent a very long time gazing at the Michelango Masterpiece ceiling.

Michelangelo’s Moses at St. Peter’s in Chains.

We tossed our coins to assure that we will return!

Amazing ceiling inside the Vatican Museum… too bad one cannot take pictures inside the Sistine Chapel.

Our whole crew in front of St. Peter’s! Hi Pope Ben! Hi!!!!!

Our driver was staunchly Roman. He did not like the “Barbarians” (Germans) in his city and called the influx of Asians “The Yellow River”. Needless to say, we wondered what he was calling us when he left us. We  think he liked us, at the very least, he liked the Fairy Godmother and this was a very good thing, it’s always good for our FG to be well attended. He would always smile at her, and look at her when he was talking about the places. It was kinda cute, he looked like he could have been her dad and perhaps she reminded him of a daughter or niece… who knows?  He drove like a freak and he could have been my grandfather! I mean, the man shot us back to the boat at 120km/hr at least!

The next day was Florence. Our driver was efficient this day, however, he was very quiet and just sort of let us do our own touring. We told him what we wanted to do and he took us where we could make it happen. He took us where we could see the whole city and take a quick picture, he took us up to the Duomo and the Uffizi Gallery. He was surprised at how quickly we would go from place to place. We wanted to see as much as possible. Though Rome was amazing and Capri was lovely, We fell in love with Florence, My FG and I.

My Fairy Godmother and her pregnant godchild!

Lunch at the Four Lions or “4 Leoni”

Handsome’s Gnocci dish. YUMMMM. All of us had amazing dishes and enjoyed it all very much.

Us on the Ponte Vecchio or “old bridge”. We shopped for a little while and then went along our merry way.

We stopped for a short trip to see the Leaning tower and attempt to take a picture of us holding it up. We really didn’t do it right… ah well.

The required “hold up the Leaning Tower of Pisa” Picture!

Annnnnd then we boarded the ship and headed to France!

France wasn’t our favorite country, but here are a few highlights of those days.

The first day we had our driver take us everywhere he could along the Cote d’Azur. He was Romani who disdained of everything French.  When we told our concierge, Adrian asked, “Then what was the man doing in France??!!

Wild poppies everywhere!

Fairy G climbing the steps of Eze, the medieval village still in use. We found some lovely ceramics there, including the salt and pepper shakers we now use everyday. We also went into the Fragonard Parfumerie and bought some perfume for ourselves and some for Rachelody. We got an adorable bib for Lady A there as well. She’ll wear it for a picture.

The Aunties in the gardens of the Villa Rothschild- Ephrussi. We had lunch there on our way to Monaco. The house and its views were breath taking!

Future Tooth Fairy posing in front of the house. Every thirty or so minutes a water fountain would play in sync with music. It was so lovely. We saw a bit of one of the shows.

We climbed the stairs to see the Prince’s Palace in Monaco, took pictures, and went on our merry way. The stairs about killed me. We saw that the Grimaldi family, had been in power since 1297, celebrating their seven hundred year reign not long ago, in 1997. We didn’t know that we could have seen the graves of the royal family, including Princess Grace. Our guide didn’t mention it until we got back down stairs and we were certainly waaaay too pooped to go back up that nonsense stairway.

The next day was a bit disappointing. We learned one more tip:

You get what you pay for.  Our last tour was through the ship and because there wasn’t anything we were crazy about viewing, we skimped on the cost. First boo boo. Our tour guide was kind enough, but we could barely stand her voice. She had a bright and bubbly monotone. Ok, I know that sounds weird, but her high yodel was all one tone. It was high pitched, for certain, but it remained in the same range of loop-de-doo speech patterns. Yeah, I learned nothing about Provence. All but FG were sleeping on our journey to and from Avignon and Aix-en-Provence. And SHE got flashed(?) Can you get flashed if our bus just happens to drive by some naked lady in her yard touching on herself? Good question. Fairy Godmother freaked, sat up to see if any one else was awake, no one of our party was, so she slumped back down. Poor FG. She got a unwelcome view, that’s for sure.

In Avignon we saw the outside of the Palace of the Popes and looked into the Cathedral which was getting ready for a wedding. It was extremely old. We didi a bit of shopping, I bought some soap and a music box that plays “La Vie en Rose.” After that bit of a dud tour- the tour lady hadn’t known that the museum was closed that day… grumble grumble… we boarded the bus for the next city… only to find that the single Japanese man had wandered off and was missing. We waited and waited and she finally went to find him. An hour later, Henry, the bum, was led onto the bus. We put a bell on him at the next stop. Ok, not really, but remember the lack of food getting to the hobbits? Yeah. It was lunch that dear old Henry was depriving. US. of. LUNCH. Fat Kids gotta eat. The tour lady made Henry hold her hand throughout the next stop. There, I’m not kidding. She wasn’t going to loose that dude again. We kind of let the Tooth Fairy and Unc B wander off with her tour after their French meal and our Italian one- Fg, Handsome, and I wanted something recognizable to jab a fork into. We hit the pizzeria. The Family Grey ate French food. The four and a half of us were done touring with home tour lady chick. We got what we wanted most- French pastries.

Best part of the day: Patisserie Shop. I hear the Hallelujah Chorale

YUM!!!! Happiness can be bought. Maybe true joy cannot be, but simple happiness, you bet your sweet sugary behind.

On the way back to the bus with our sack of future happiness, the saw a flower shop- YAY! Look! Peonies! I loved the flower shop.

Aren’t these gorgeous?!?! There were all kinds of colors.

When we got back, we went up to Posh to say goodbye to our last post and ate the pastries. It was a lovely day and we felt kind of sad that we hadn’t spent the entire day aboard ship. It was our last day with the ship. That night Handsome and I saw the Blue Man Group show and it was well worth it.

We had a lovely time on board the Epic. Every where we went, we were treated well by the staff and we had a favorite concierge. Adrian was our personal magician. He made reservations for us and if/ when we ventured into other restaurants, he would locate us and ask us how we were. He was AMAZING. Our staff in the Haven took very good care of us, from the masseuse, to the bar staff. Our butler, Joha, was very helpful, he performed every slight task we required with efficiency and he wen above and beyond for us when we needed breakfast earlier than was normally allowed. I would definitely cruise with them again, but only if we cruise in the Haven. I’d almost go as far as finding our Adrian’s ship. He made it known that I was pregnant and gave me my extra pillow and on the 29th, my dear cousin was wished a “Happy Birthday” everywhere she went. We could have Filet mignon every night if we wanted. Life was wonderful and I will never forget the trip.

Our trip home was less stressful, but we stayed up nearly the entire time so that we could go to sleep when we got home. I read three Stephanie Plum books and fought off sleep. We arrived four hours early in ATL and waited, no yearned for our plane to arrive. When we got home, Handsome’s parents were ready to take us to our house. Be it ever so humble, there really is no place like home. We took showers and crashed on sheets I had changed moments before we left on May 25th. Best idea ever.

Since that was nearly forever ago I’ll give a few more updates.

Lady A is a girl and is growing at a steady rate. my “bundle” is 22 cm, and I am 22 weeks along TODAY. I have a Love Map of stretch marks forming on the lower part of my belly, a fact that I’m not too concerned about, since my belly was never my best feature in the first place, I NEVER show it anyways. The baby’s kicks are getting waaaaay more pronounced, I wasn’t surprised when I started feeling her pretty early, I have no torso to speak of, so she was bound to run out of room. I look like I swallowed a basketball these days and I have to pee a lot. But I wouldn’t give her up for the world. Sure, she’s very annoying at either 2, 3, or 4 in the morning, but she’s ours. I can’t wait to see her little face, I really cannot wait to hold my little girl. Handsome isn’t going to know what hits him. His little girl is going to rule him like the princess she is. And yeah, I’m going with a princess theme, but never forget, every princess comes from a queen. And Mama is the Queen.

Her awesome aunts have already started spoiling her. We had a painting day the day after we had a gender reveal party with close family and friends. They have nearly fished four princess paintings that will be hung in her room. FTF- I have actually finished drawing the rest of the Jasmine painting!!! Help!  I would draw and they would paint in the colors and I’d help mix paint colors. It was really fast this way. After that, I’d touch up, shading or outlining as needed and three of the four are completely done.

I’m so grateful for all the help and advice I have gathered over the past days. People never stop giving unsolicited advice, like: “Don’t pick that up! It’s bad for the baby!” Well, no you’re wrong there. It’s fine for the baby, it’s bad for mama.  But unless I go slinging stuff every which way, I’ll be ok. The relaxin’s there, trust me, I feel weird joint-wise, but as long as I’m careful, I’ll be ok. Lord knows, Miss Thang is fine. She has quite a bit of growing to do.

Her tests came back negative for all that they have tested her for. She’s a healthy-so far, bouncing little fetus. She doesn’t like my seat belt, pressing against it when I stop and the thing tightens. She is definitely a she. No boy parts to be seen. Poor Papa. He wanted a grandson. Maybe next time Daddy-O. She likes her arms up by her ears and face, when looking at her yesterday, the ultrasound technician showed us her little self in that 4-d mode. She was a movin’ and a groovin’ and dodging the camera.

Pregnancy is… pregnancy. There are truly sucky moments. And there are the cool moments. Like, when she hears Handsome, she dances for a minute and then settles. She is already a daddy’s girl! I’m very grateful to be out of the first trimester. I thought the exhaustion would never end. As the third looms up before me like a thunderhead, I can at least focus on the fact that she’ll be here that much sooner. My little turkey is on her way.

My life is a full one. I am very grateful for everything. From My Fairy Godmother and Handsome and my parents, to all of our friends and extended family who have been so supportive and wonderful. Thanks for the Love, Prayers, and  Good intentions.

Your Pretty Content and Grateful,

Steph

Posted on July 26, 2012, in Character Building, Handsome Prince, Mediterranean CROOOOOOZE, Shiny things, The Beaner, The Damsel again.. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. What an amazing adventure! I’m so glad you got to experience that, especially before Lady A makes her grand debut. I’ve traveled a bit in Europe, but I was obviously doing it the wrong way – trying to figure out train schedules and transportation and lodging ourselves? Yea, next time we’ll take a cruise and use a travel agent. I love that you got to go to Mass in Spain!

  2. Sounds like such a fun time! I love all your photos. I’m a sucker for photos.

    Also, yes. Pregnancy is sucky sometimes. Hang in there!

  3. mrsbachelorgirl

    What an amazing vacation!! And may I say that you look absolutely stunning in those photos?! You wear pregnancy very well!

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