Home again, jiggety jog. Surrounded by LOTS OF COUGHING! (Also? Yet more photos.)

FYI, the coughing isn’t coming from me, just every other member of the household.

I kept the girls home from school, they are still running temp and now Russ has officially succumbed. They are all still sleeping, I think. Wait– there’s some hacking coming from upstairs… Yep, somebody’s up, sounds like Charlotte. I am sitting in the kitchen in that comfy estate sale leather chair I love, feet up on the ottoman, with the sleeping dogs beside me (and behind my neck– Phoebe’s butt is curled around me like a big fluffy black and white blow-up travel pillow. Only itchy.) The cupboards are bare, so a trip to the grocery is in my near future. I think some homemade chicken soup is most definitely called for around here. Also? UNPACKING, which could take a looooong time, especially with everyone pretty much out of commission. But before I officially jumped back into re-entry mode, I wanted to show you a few more pictures from the cruise. Are you up for it? (Rhetorical question, I’ve already downloaded the photos.) Here goes:

**This is Lexi, Dean and Kim Hopper’s youngest daughter/Karlye Hopper’s little sister. She is just darling, such a little pistol and she and Madi are totally crazy about each other. This was taken at dinner up in the ‘fancy dining room’, as the girls call it. (BTW– most of these were taken when Char was sick, so they will be a little Madi-heavy.)

**On every cruise, there is always one night when they do this huge dessert extravaganza for the midnight buffet. It really is something to see, it extends all the way around the pool in about four different locations. There are elaborate ice sculptures, carved watermelons and lavishly decorated pastries. ¬†Everyone dutifully brings their camera and takes lots of pictures and then stands in line for a long time so they can fill their plates up and eat themselves into a sugar coma. Since I am such a savvy veteran, I’ll give you a Cruise Tip: ¬†The time to take photos is when they are setting it all up, and you might want to go to the always-open ice cream bar to eat actually eat dessert because there are no lines. And to tell the truth, sometimes those gorgeous display desserts look a little better than they taste… and the next day they usually still have plenty of the leftover extravaganza stuff for you to devour, anyway. (See how educational this blog is?!) Here’s what it looked like:

**They poured white chocolate onto cookie sheets, drizzled it with milk chocolate and then with a very sharp knife, cut them into artistic shapes and stuck them right in the middle of those cakes. Good idea, right?

**Big honking fish ice sculpture– these things looked like they weighed a ton.

**How cute is that chocolate penguin?

**This guy set up a made-to-order crepes suzette/bananas Foster bar. Now THIS would be worth standing in line for.

**This was the construction phase of the ice dragon sculpture. There were a couple of teeter-tottery close calls while they were assembling this baby. I now know a couple of Indonesian swear words, I think.

**Successfully completed, nobody died.

**The culinary team responsible for all the gorgeousness– (never trust a skinny chef.)

Here are some random shots from around the ship:

**Our stateroom bed.

**Our sweet room steward left these for us every night. I am a total sucker for this kind of stuff.

**Towel sting ray with chocolates for eyes– come on, people, that’s ART!

**Upstairs shot of the ‘fancy dining room’. I have no idea what that stuff hanging from the ceiling is– some kind of glass jellyfish sculptures or something. Pretty, though.

**The pool bar at night.

**Close-up of the brass barstools– massively uncomfortable, but very cute.

**Mirrored stairway

**Half-nekkid wall art. I think these are supposed to be ship figureheads. Who do a lot of sit-ups, apparently.

**The Loft– the teenage lair where Madi and friends spent a lot of late hours talking. And studying the bible, I’M SURE.

**Madi and Karlye on their way to The Loft.

**Hey, it wasn’t all fun and games. We made her work the table, too.

**Now for some concert shots– this is Russ singing “Really Big News” to Madi.

**(Here’s where poor 102.4 degree Char was during all of this:)

**I’ll leave you with these lovely memories of Mexico…

**And finally– I could SO be a Mexican wrestler. An obnoxiously-happy-yet-kinda-scary-middle-aged-blonde Mexican wrestler.

13 Responses

  1. auburn60

    And how nice that Carlye can also be useful for…transportation?

    ‘Onward, noble steed!’

  2. belinda

    Love all the pictures and yes your blog is so informational. I needed a break from my day at work, it is crazy around here. It’s Monday after all and you know how much I HATE Mondays. Would love to go on a Gaither Cruise someday.

    Sorry your gang is not feeling well. Praying they will all be feeling better soon. Chicken Soup sounds like what they all need.

  3. Barbara M. Lloyd

    Absolutely love all of the photos…they add flavor to your reporting. You know, I have a positively adorable photo of Russ with both Madi and Char, while he is singing that song. But the girls are small….and it is so dear. A photo-repeat at this point in time would be nice. But now, you as a Mexican blonde wrestler? I’ve had a few smiles just thinking about it.

  4. Phyllis S

    More, More, More

    Love the pics, keep them coming. Saying a prayer for the Taff family ugh, and a prayer for the obnoxiously-happy-yet-kinda-scary-middle-aged-blonde Mexican wrestler that she does not get it.

  5. MostlySunny

    I have been gone and out of touch– no wi-fi, internet, cell phone reception– at my Dad’s in California. He lives up in the beautiful Sierra Nevada foothills right outside of Fresno. So, I got to enjoy your cruise in one big ‘ol read. Seriously…how gorgeous! What fun! I’m with Madi on the sleeping outside thing; so glad she got the shark picture. I, for one, love seeing other people’s vacation picutres, so thanks for sharing! One of these days…

    Hope all the Taff sick-o’s are feeling better.

  6. BrownEyedGirl

    Great pictures! I love the shots of Russ singing to Madi. How sweet!

    I sure hope the Taff family gets better soon!!

  7. gracelynn

    Great pictures Tori. I love the one of you in the mask! LOL Keep them coming. The ones of Russ singing and hugging Madi are just precious.

    I hope and pray that the Taff crew is feeling better and fast. You do not need another repeat of this mess! (Of course Ivan told me the same thing a year ago when I kept having inner ear infections and it didn’t work for me…hmmm) I’m thankful you have not had to endure it yourself and pray that you don’t. We have another round of viruses going around the school too.

  8. grfdave

    Great photos. Russ looks in his element! Hope all get better soon. Praying

  9. rickyworley

    Tori! Hey! Love all the pictures. Madi only picks and chooses the pictures she sends to me so its nice to see how dorky she really can be! Jk. Hey, I’ve been blogging too!!! You should check it out. My website is http://www.RickyWorley.com. Also – I interviewed Angela Primm the other day, IDK if Madi told you but you can hear that full interview there as well! We’ll have to convince Russ into coming on the show soon! Keep in touch!

    Ricky

  10. Barbara M. Lloyd

    Way to go, Ricky! Tori, he sounds like an enterprising young fella…but calling our Madi dorky? Even with 102 degree temperature, that child never looks dorky! Bless his heart.

  11. auburn60

    Uh-oh, Ricky. You’ve stepped in it now. You got Momma L. riled up.

  12. jonny

    LOL!! It looks like he certainly has, Auburn60! Not that she would need it, I’m sure, but Momma Lloyd has a little back up from half way around the world on this one as well : ) I’d also like to add my thanks to Tori for keeping us so thoughtfully posted! Only problem for me though was the heaviness of so many pictures! My phone couldn’t down load them for viewing. I was able to finally view the photos at a friend’s earlier today. She enjoyed them, too. As mentioned in an earlier blog, it’s quite popular taking a mini cruise over to Stockholm, Sweden for many Finns. She appreciated seeing what a somewhat bigger cruise ship looked like. She enjoyed the towels, the food. Basically what others seen to have also enjoyed who’ve posted here. Hope the family is feeling better by now!! jonny

  13. auburn60

    Yep,jonny–when Momma Lloyd drops a ‘Bless his heart’ in the conversation, you’re done for. We southern gals recognize exactly what that means. We always say it sweetly, with a smile and a steely glint in our eyes.Sometimes while loading our shotguns.

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