Carnival Glory | Eastern Caribbean Cruise | Day 3

View from jogging track 2

Our third day of the cruise was Monday, May 18, and it was an at-sea day! We desperately needed a calm, relaxing, peaceful day after the crazy that was the previous day.

I woke up around 9 a.m. but my mom was fast asleep, so I took my time getting ready before waking her up and forcing her to accompany me to brunch. :)

We ate brunch in the dining room and toasted each other with mimosas. The brunch was okay (I ordered a bagel and an omelette), but not outstanding. (I’m also not much of a breakfast person, so take that as you will.)

Brunch

Mimosas at brunch

After brunch, we made our way outside to the Serenity Deck, which is located at the top of the ship. We found chairs, lathered on the sunscreen, and spent the next few hours relaxing in the sun. So divine! I read for a bit, played some games on my iPad, and then listened to a podcast. After a few hours, my mom and I took turns on the water slide (which was awesome!) and cooled off a bit in the pool.

Morning view Morning view 2

A little after 1:30, we decided to pack it up and head down to the lido deck for lunch. We both opted for a burger and fries from Guy’s (gosh, so good! I miss it!) and watched the Hairy Chest competition while eating. (Not as gross as it may sound, haha!)

Lunchtime

After our meal, we decided to head up to the room to get out of the sun. I had missed a few spots with my sunscreen and was already developing sunburn on those areas, so I needed to get inside! We played a few rounds of cards and then decided to take naps. Ah, glorious!

We woke up around 5:30 because we wanted to do a quick workout before dinner. We attempted to go for a walk around the jogging track but it was just too windy for my liking, so after just a few minutes, we found our way to the gym. I’m not sure what it was, but the minute I stepped into the gym, I felt this nostalgia for the gym environment. I didn’t realize how much it filled me with excitement to work out! There was just this energy flowing through the whole place. I definitely want to join a gym here in Tampa because you just don’t get that kind of energy from a tiny apartment gym – at all!

I used the stationary bike for 20 minutes and whew, was it harder than the stationary bike I have at home! Their level 1 resistance felt like what an 8 or 9 is with my regular bike. (I’m not sure what that means – is my bike at home too easy? Is the bike at the cruise gym too hard?) It was nice to bike with a beautiful view, though!

Workout

After our workout, we went back to the room to get ready for dinner. Tonight was elegant night, which meant dressing all fancy!

Fancy dinner 3 Fancy dinner 2

And dinner was fun! I really enjoyed our dinners on the cruise. The food was delicious and the company outstanding. After our terrible dinner mates on our last cruise, I did not take this group for granted. It was so nice to have a personable group that got along so well!

Dinner

Dessert

Dinner Selfies Collage

After dinner, my mom and I went out to the lounge area to have fancy portraits taken.

We took two different sets of pictures – one in front of a cruise ship background and the other on a “fainting couch” with a plain white background. When we saw the pictures the following day, I was not expecting to love any of them. (I typically hate pictures of myself!) But I loved them all. Two of the pictures in particular really stood out for me and I hemmed and hawed about buying them. The only problem is that ONE 8×10 is $22. At the end of the day, the cost was just too much for a picture I’d probably never put up in my home. As much as I loved the pictures, I couldn’t justify the price. Womp, womp.

After taking pictures, we headed back up to the room, played a few rounds of cards, read for a bit, and then it was lights out at 11:45. Tomorrow would be a super fun day – speed boating and snorkeling in St. Thomas!

Book Review: A Deadly Wandering by Matt Richtel

A Deadly WanderingRaise your hand if you’ve ever texted while driving.

Raises hand.

I’ve made a concentrated effort to not use my phone while I’m driving, but it still happens.

A DEADLY WANDERING is a book that explores the science behind attention and distraction – specifically, how modern technology is distracting us more than ever before. In doing so, Richtel weaves together a real story about a 19-year-old boy, Reggie, who killed two men in September 2006 because he was texting and driving.

At this time, there were no laws against texting while driving. This technology was so new at the time that there wasn’t enough evidence to support a law (though there had been a number of fatal accidents due to people texting and driving), and many opponents thought a ban like this would be hard to regulate.

My favorite part of the book was learning about Reggie and everything that led up to his conviction. It was hard not to feel empathy for him, for all that he went through, even if he was in the wrong. I’ve been a distracted driver before and I even got into a fender bender a few years ago because I was answering a text and accidentally hit the car in front of me. (Luckily, we were stopped already and the light had turned green, so I eased up on the brake, looked down at my phone for a split second, and hit the car in front of me. Luckily again, no damage was incurred for either car but it was a freaking scary moment and I felt so dumb for causing this because I was on my phone.)

I thought I would really be interested in the neuroscience parts of the book – learning about the brain and attention span and how modern technology is affecting both. But my eyes glazed over during those sections and I found myself just skimming them. It just seemed like a regurgitation of facts and studies, but it was hard to connect that with the wider storyline. Honestly, I would preferred if the book had cut those portions out completely and just focused on telling Reggie’s story and the impact distracted driving can have.

I also found that the book was a little too wordy in parts. It seemed like every person introduced – from Reggie to the wives of the men who were killed to the victims advocate Terryl to the prosecutor to the defense attorney – had a back story that we had to be introduced to before delving into the meat of why they were introduced. Even some of the pioneers of the research Richtel cited were given a back story before introduced to their importance. I think a lot of that could have been cut out to make the story more concise and impactful.

All in all, though, a powerful book that tells an important message about distracted driving, modern technology, and the way our attention span can shift in an instant.

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

From Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Matt Richtel, this is a brilliant, narrative-driven exploration of technology’s vast influence on the human mind and society, dramatically told through the lens of a tragic “texting-while-driving” car crash that claimed the lives of two rocket scientists in 2006.

In this ambitious, compelling, and beautifully written book, Richtel examines the impact of technology on our lives through the story of Utah college student Reggie Shaw, who killed two scientists while texting and driving. Richtel follows Reggie through the tragedy, the police investigation, his prosecution, and ultimately his redemption.

In the wake of his experience, Reggie has become a leading advocate against “distracted driving.” Richtel interweaves Reggie’s story with cutting-edge scientific findings regarding human attention and the impact of technology on our brains, proposing solid, practical, and actionable solutions to help manage this crisis individually and as a society.

A propulsive read filled with fascinating, accessible detail, riveting narrative tension, and emotional depth, A Deadly Wandering explores one of the biggest questions of our time–what is all of our technology doing to us?–and provides unsettling and important answers and information we all need.

You can connect with Matt Richtel on his website. His book is available to buy from Amazon, IndieBound, and Barnes & Noble

Click here to add this book to Goodreads!

I received this book for free from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. All words and opinions, unless otherwise stated, are my own.

No affiliate links were used in this post.

Carnival Glory | Eastern Caribbean Cruise | Day 2

Carnival ship

On our second day of the cruise, Sunday, May 17, my mom and I woke up in Half Moon Cay, the Bahamas! This is Carnival’s private island and it is an incredibly beautiful place.

We had to meet for our excursion at 9 a.m., so we got up around 7:30, got ready, and headed up to the lido deck for breakfast.

A little after 9 a.m., we were taken by tender boat into Half Moon Cay and waited for our excursion tour guide to call us. We had booked a bike and hike tour for the morning, and would have plenty of time to enjoy the beach afterward. So, we got our helmets, found the bikes we wanted to use, and then proceeded to begin the tour.

Excursion tickets

No less than thirty seconds into the ride (I mean, we seriously hadn’t even biked past the area where the bikes were kept), my mom hit an uneven spot in the road and fell off her bike and into the wooded area next to the road. It was so scary! I immediately threw my bike to the side and went to help. She had to have help getting up because these woods were sloped downward, so she couldn’t even figure out how to get up herself! Oh, boy.

When she got out of the woods (ha), we discovered the right side of her face was bleeding, so we had to go immediately to the medic to get it cleaned up, which meant we wouldn’t be able to continue with the excursion. We were bummed, but I was just glad my mom was relatively okay! She had a cut on the side of her face near her eye (and she eventually got a black eye), a cut on her arm, and then bruises on her legs. And also a major headache, which is understandable!

Bike path

What followed was honestly one of the worst parts of the cruise. See, the problem was that we left one of our bags in a locked container by the bike location. This bag had our swimsuits and coverups, so there wasn’t a whole lot we could do in our workout gear! (Plus, we had to stay nearby the excursion place to get our bag back once the tour finished!) We got a drink at the bar and people watched before walking over to the bike location to wait for the tour to end and retrieve our bag.

The tour ended up finishing 30 minutes past the time we thought it would (due to it getting started later because of Mom’s injury!), and then the tour guide lost the key to the container and we had to wait another 30 minutes for them to find it.

Half Moon Cay beach view

Have you ever had one of those moments where you know it will just be a small snippet of time in the grand scheme of things but when you’re in the moment it just feels like it will never end and you’ll be stuck in that moment forever?

Yeah. That’s what these hours felt like. The time just went on forever; it felt endless and annoying and frustrating. I felt like we were wasting away the short time we got to have in Half Moon Cay. I wanted to explore! (I probably wasn’t at my nicest at this point in time either. I’m a real brat sometimes, I must admit.)

Finally, though, the key was found, our bag was recovered, and our first order of business was going to the BBQ lunch (which was FREE since Carnival hosted it. Wahoo!) The lunch was okay, but since we got there so late (the barbecue started at 11:30, but we didn’t get there until after 1), there wasn’t much in the way of offerings.

After scarfing down lunch, my mom and I changed into our swimsuits and went to explore the beach! Since Half Moon Cay is a private island, there isn’t a whole lot to do, aside from the beach and excursions through the cruise ship, but I was really excited to spend a few hours relaxing on the beach after my stressful morning/afternoon. We actually managed to score a covered cabana. We swam in the ocean, in water so clear that you didn’t even need a snorkel to see fish and other sea life. We don’t have water like that in Florida, that’s for sure! And the water just felt… clean. Whenever I swim in the beaches near me, I always feel a bit gritty, but I felt so refreshed after the dip in the waters of Half Moon Cay.

StephBeach panoramaBeach selfie 2 edited

I wasn’t sure how I would feel about being on a private island, but I loved it. I wasn’t too impressed with the Bahamas when I went last year (we stopped in Freeport and Nassau), but HMC completely changed my opinion. It was nice to have an island that was solely for cruise guests. It felt really safe and it was nice that it was just us. And HMC is also stunningly beautiful. I would go back in a heartbeat!

Gorgeous viewsBeach view 3Rocks

After our swim, we relaxed for a while on the beach before heading back to the ship, since the ship would be leaving port soon. (And I’m an anxious freak and must be back on board an hour before we’re supposed to be. Seven cruises in and I’m still scared of being left behind!) It was around 3:30 at this point, so we took showers, played a few rounds of cards, and then took naps! We’d had such a crazy day and had been in the sun for most of it, so we were really worn out.

That night, we got ready for dinner earlier than usual because we wanted to see the comedy show beforehand. My mom and I have found that we don’t really enjoy the “adults only” comedy shows because they are just… not our taste. They can be a little vile, I’ll just say. (And let’s be honest: you don’t really want to sit and listen to sex jokes when sitting next to your mom!) Thankfully, they have a clean comedy show that’s for all ages nightly, which is the kind of comedy we enjoy! This comedian was pretty good (we already had a taste of his type of humor the previous night at the Welcome Aboard show) and there were laughs all around!

After watching the comedy show, we hightailed to the dining room for dinner! We enjoyed a very yummy dinner (I had a super delicious steak dish that I wish I could eat again!) and then explored the ship afterward.

Time for dinner

And, since we not very exciting people (well, I’m not. My mom definitely is!), we went back to the room, read for a bit, and then it was lights out at 11:30! I was really looking forward to the next day, since it was a day at sea. I needed a calm, relaxing day!

Sunday towel animal

Carnival Glory | Eastern Caribbean Cruise | Day 1

View from the ship

We left on our cruise – the seventh one for both of us – on Saturday, May 16. We had driven to Boca Raton the previous day, staying in a hotel (overrun by school-age boys who looked like they were competing in some sort of lacrosse match) and driving to Miami in the morning. While we could have driven up on Saturday, it’s a 5-hour drive and would have meant rushing around on Saturday morning. This way, we could wake up leisurely, have breakfast, and make the one-hour trip into Miami with ease.

Getting to the port and checking in was a breeze. We got there around 11:30 with all the other early birds, and it was probably 30 minutes from the time we got to the port to the time we entered the ship for the first time. Such a smooth process!

Since we didn’t have access to our room until 1:30, we found a spot on the lido deck and grabbed lunch from Guy’s Burger Joint. It was already pretty busy!

Leaving Port

Around 1:20, we decided to make our way to our room and relax inside until it was time for the safety demonstation, which is usually around 3:30. Our luggage got delivered during this time and I unpacked while my mom slept (she wasn’t feeling too good at this point in time and I was worried about her!)

At 3:20, we left our room to head to our muster station, which was easy to find and thankfully, the safety demonstration didn’t take all too long! Afterwards, we went up to the Serenity Deck for the rest of the afternoon. We got fruity drinks and watched the ship set sail from Miami! Eventually, people started leaving to get ready for dinner, so we were able to score a cabana where I took the most wonderful nap.

First drinks

Leaving Miami

Around 6:30, we left to get ready for dinner. We decided on the late dining time again, but next cruise, I think I’m going to opt for early dining, just because we miss out on a lot of great shows with late dining.

I was really, really nervous about our dinnermates on this cruise. On our cruise last year, my mom and I were seated with a couple that we just didn’t mesh well with. Dinners were very awkward and we even opted for the buffet one night, just to avoid another awkward dinner with them! Well, I am happy to report that our dinnermates this cruise were AMAZING. They were so friendly and personable, which made the dinners so much fun.

Dinner dessert

We sat with two sisters, one of whom was around my age and the other a little bit older; two brothers who were around my mom’s age; two friends, also around my mom’s age; and also a mom and her daughter and her daughter’s friend, although they only came to the first dinner and then switched to the earlier dining time. It was a great group and we had lots of good laughs and conversation.

After dinner, my mom and I walked over to the Amber Palace, which is where all the shows happened. We watched the “Welcome Aboard” show, though it was less like a show and more like the cruise director talking about the shows. Hmm. We did get to see the two comedians on the ship do their bits! They were hilarious! (Especially because there was this stodgy old man sitting in the front row with his arms crossed, not finding anything they said funny… so of course, the comediens heckled him a bit.)

Amber Palace

After the show, Mom and I went back to our room, got comfy in our jammies, read for a bit, and then went to bed around 11:30. Tomorrow, we had a busy day planned in Half Moon Cay – bike riding and hiking!

Saturday towel animal

What I Read // May

may reads

May was a solid reading month for me – 8 books read! I am really happy with my yearly book reading progress so far, as I am at 39 books read, which means I could maybe hit 80 books for the year. We shall see! This month, my favorite book was The Predictions and my least favorite book was Love and Miss Communication.

Book club selection: Hush by Kate White (3 stars)
I was the one who suggested this book for book club in May. And it was okay. It’s a thriller, about a woman who has a one-night stand with a guy she works with, only to find him dead when she wakes up in the morning. Knowing she’d become the number-one suspect, she flees the scene and then tries to solve the murder herself. It sounds enticing, right? And it was an interesting read… it just wasn’t as fast paced as I would have liked it. I was expecting twists and turns, but nothing felt too shocking and I never felt on the edge of my seat. It’s a good read if you’re just looking for an easy mystery, but not if you’re hoping to read a really engaging thriller.

Book Riot Read Harder Challenge (a book that someone else has recommended to me): The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein (4 stars)
I have had multiple people recommend this book to me, most recently a coworker. So it was an easy one to tackle for the recommendation category for the Book Riot reading challenge. It was such a sweet novel! I expected it to be much more of a tearjerker, but it didn’t make me cry. (Surprising, I know!) Instead, I just found the ending to be so perfect and heartwarming. Enzo is one of my new favorite literary characters. He was so easy to love and while I know it’s a work of fiction, it gave me some insight into my own dog. (I dearly hope he has a rich inner life like Enzo did!) If you love dogs, I highly, highly, highly recommend this book. I didn’t care too much for the racing parts, but I did get caught up in the excitement because of how passionate Enzo was about them!

TLC Book Tours read: The Predictions by Bianca Zander (5 stars)
I reviewed this novel earlier this month and you can find the review here.

Publisher review: Love and Miss Communication by Elyssa Friedland (2 stars)
I reviewed this book earlier this month and you can find the review here.

Others (read for fun!)

Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver (4 stars)
This is the second book in Oliver’s “Delirium” series and it was really good! I found it really fast paced and engaging. I really liked hearing about her time in New York City, as it seemed like more was happening to move the plot forward there. All in all, a really good read, but I do have to say the ending of both novels in this series have left me with a weird feeling in the pit of my stomach. Sadness, maybe? There’s always a cliffhanger that makes my stomach knot up… and remain that way for a few days. I’m hoping the last book ties up this series in a good way… and that I’m not left with a stomach in knots at the end!

On the Rocks by Erin Duffy (2 stars)
I really wanted to like this book because I loved Duffy’s first novel so much, but it just fell flat for me. I didn’t really like the main character. The writing was a little cheesy and some of it felt really, really outdated, as this book was supposed to take place in 2012 and there were mentions of using Myspace and beepers. (?!) So, an easy beach read, but not one I would necessarily recommend.

The One by Kiera Cass (3 stars)
This is the last book in The Selection series by Cass, a dystopian trilogy. This has been one of my favorite dystopian trilogies so far because it’s just fun. It’s light-hearted and silly and romantic. Most dystopian novels are so serious and heartbreaking and intense. There was definitely conflict and some sad moments in this novel, but overall, it was a nice, light vacation read. I felt like the ending was a bit rushed and I think the author could have cut out some of the conflict with the rebels at the beginning to flesh out the ending so it felt more satisfying. Still, just a really fun dystopian series that I would recommend.

Hot on the Hunt by Melissa Cutler (3 stars)
This is a Harlequin romance novel, but it’s by an author I really love. This is the last book in a series I started reading a few years ago and it was okay. I didn’t love either main character throughout any part of the novel (not even the ending), so it wasn’t easy to root for them. I didn’t find the ending to be all that satisfying. Still, a fast-paced read that kept me engaged the entire time, and I do hope to see more from this author!

BOOK STATS // MAY

# of books read: 8
# of pages read: 2,717
quickest read: On the Rocks (2 days)
longest read: Hush (9 days)
multicultural: zero
formats: ebooks (5), physical books (3)

What was the best book you read in May?

Monthly Goals // June

june goals

Happy Friday! It’s been a short week, but an all-too-tiring one for me. (Getting used to a world where I don’t take a nap every day is difficult, apparently!) It’s the end of the month, which means it’s time to review the goals I set in May and set some new ones for June.

Here’s how my May goals went:

> finances: refinance my auto loan

This didn’t get done this month, mainly because I ran into a bit of a problem with a phishing scam earlier in the month. I took all the precautions, but it did mean I couldn’t speak to anyone about refinancing my auto loan. Hopefully soon!

> nagging task: launch a new blog theme

Yes! And I am so, so happy with it. It’s such a change from my old blog theme and feels so fresh and light and airy. It’s exactly what I wanted!

> health: stop snacking at night

Eh? I didn’t think about this goal too much, especially during my cruise and then diving back into the real world this week. Oh, well!

> exploration: enjoy my cruise

Yes, yes, and yes. I enjoyed my cruise so much. This was my first time taking a seven-day cruise and I think that is the perfect length for a cruise. I felt ready to come home on Saturday, not dreading the return back to the real world like I normally do.

> personal habit: stop sleeping in my contacts (!!)

Yes! I slept in my contacts once or twice this month, but I have done an outrageously awesome job at taking them out each night. Hoping I can keep this personal habit up!

For June, here’s what I have planned:

> finances: save 10% of my income for move-out costs

> nagging task: make a therapy appointment

> health: start tracking my food

> exploration: visit the pool every weekend

> personal habit: turn off all electronics by 8pm

Do you have any goals for June?

Currently in May

Carnival ship

Adjusting… to the real world after a wonderful cruise! I plan on fully recapping my vacation in the coming weeks, so stay tuned! It was definitely a… memorable… time. (How’s that for a teaser?!) Yesterday was my first full day back at work in 12 days and it was a good day! I got some work done and it felt good to be back to normal. And I missed all my coworkers! You know you work with good people when you actually look forward to work and seeing them again after a long time off.

Reading… The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. I’ve never read this novel because I heard it’s sad and I just don’t like reading sad animal novels! But so many people have recommended it to me, and I figured I should read it (especially now, while Dutch is healthy and I can hug and kiss him every time I get sad while reading, ha!) So far, I can’t get enough of it and it’s making my dog lover heart so happy.

Watching… Revenge! I stopped watching the show early in the season, but I kept recording the episodes on my DVR. I just didn’t love the start of the new season, so I put off watching it. Then I heard that this season was the last season (which I’m happy about… I think it’s the right decision as there’s not much more they can do with this kind of show without the plot getting too crazy), so I decided I needed to have a Revenge binge! Plus, all my shows are currently on summer hiatus so there’s not much else to watch right now.

beautiful snorkeling view

Recovering from… a sprained ankle. During my zip lining excursion in Puerto Rico, I turned my ankle on a particularly trecherous hiking portion. It happened about halfway through the excursion and put a bit of a damper on the experience. When I got back home, I went to a walk-in clinic to get my foot and ankle x-rayed to make sure it wasn’t broken (which happened the last time I went hiking. I am done hiking for the forseeable future, is what I’m saying.) Luckily, it is only sprained, so I didn’t need an air cast or walking boot. Very happy about that! All I’m really doing now is wearing a brace and trying to stay off it as much as possible. Luckily, it doesn’t hurt anymore… it’s just a little annoying to walk on.

Anticipating… my upcoming move. I am really excited to settle on a place and to start the process of moving. I don’t necessarily hate to move (I always love having a new home to organize and a new place to explore), but it can be very stressful and is just a lot of work. And it’s so costly! Especially since I have to factor in a pet fee, which can range from $250 to $500! But I am excited to move out and have a place for my own. And to move in with someone I get along with SO well (and whom I just seriously love and adore!)

Wishing… for another vacation! I have such wanderlust. I’m hoping to take a trip to Asheville later this year and maybe somewhere else? Hopefully, but I also have an upcoming move to pay for so time will tell!

Grateful… for my mom. I mean, I am always grateful for her because she is honestly the best. But she has been overwhelmingly awesome in the aftermath of my injury. She was perfectly fine with us taking it super easy the last two days of the cruise, drove the entire way home from Miami (without complaint!), and even did all the laundry when we got home. I am so grateful for her and her selfless love for me.

Reminiscing… about all the wonderful experiences of my cruise. Swimming in the clear blue waters of the Bahamas, driving a speed boat through the Caribbean Sea, snorkeling in a private cove in St. Thomas, zip lining in Puerto Rico. It was an incredible time and I feel so, so lucky that I have the means to experience all of this. I sacrifice in order to do so, but I also know it’s a blessing, too.

Loving… being back to normal life. Vacations are so much fun, but I also really, really love my normal life. I remember a time when I hated my normal life and would always feel so, so sad when vacations ended and I had to go back to the monotony. It’s good to have built a life that is enjoyable and makes me happy. Nothing can compare to being on vacation, but real life feels good, too.

May 24 343

Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow

Woohoo – it’s the weekend I have been waiting for! Tomorrow, my mom and I leave on our annual cruise and I am just beside myself with excitement. This will be our seventh cruise and our first time sailing out of Miami. I just can’t wait to spend seven days sailing the high seas, sipping fruity drinks, and enjoying quality time with my best friend. This blog will remain quiet for a while as I vacation and then come back to reality, but I hope to return at the end of May with tons of cruise recaps! For today, I thought it would be fun to do a “yesterday, today, and tomorrow” post since I haven’t done one of these in a long time. Enjoy!

yesterday, I…

  • worked from home. Yes! My last full day of working and I got to do it from the comfort of my apartment wearing yoga pants. And I had a productive day and finished up all the work I needed to do before I left. I’ll be able to enjoy my vacation with ease, knowing I won’t have a ton of deadlines I have to rush to meet when I return to work.
  • enjoyed lunch with my mom. One of my favorite benefits of my work from home days – I get to enjoy a nice lunch with my mom! We usually meet each other at Panera Bread and eat outside, so I get sunshine and a nice chat. It’s awesome!
  • packed for my vacation. WHEE! I love packing. It’s slightly nerve-wracking because I’m super neurotic and always worry about leaving something uber-important behind. But it’s also fun and just builds my anticipation.

today, I…

  • have my last day in the office for TEN WHOLE DAYS. And I only have to work for 3.5 hours! And it’s Bagel Friday! Yay!
  • will say good-bye to Dutch for a week! As excited as I am for vacation, I am also incredibly sad to leave my Dutchers for a whole week. I’m going to miss that little stinker so much!
  • will drive to Ft. Lauderdale with my mom. Originally, we planned to just drive down to Miami (where our cruise is departing from) on Saturday, the day of our cruise. But then we decided: why not extend our vacation by a day? So we did! We’ll drive down sometime in the late afternoon, arrive in Ft. Lauderdale in the early evening, have dinner, and relax. Plus, this means Saturday will be nice and easy, since the drive to the port is less than an hour away, rather than four!

tomorrow, I…

  • will be in Miami for the first time ever! Can you believe I’ve never visited Miami? It’s crazy, since it’s only a four-hour drive from where I live. But I won’t get to explore too much of Miami – we’re heading straight to the port! Maybe next time!
  • will sail away on my seventh cruise. My mom and I are sailing on the Carnival Glory; it’ll be our first time on this ship for both of us! We’re stopping in Half Moon Cay, the Bahamas, where we’ll be doing a bike and hike excursion; St. Thomas, USVI, where we’ll be doing a speed boat and snorkel excursion; San Juan, Puerto Rico, where we’ll be doing a zip-lining excursion (our third time zip-lining!); and Grand Turk, where we’ve planned a lazy day of laying out by the ginormous pool and walking along the beach.
  • will enjoy the most divine day of the cruise! Departure day is always so filled with excitement and promise. There will be our first drinks of the cruise, the first time lounging on the deck, the first dinner, and the first night of entertainment. Eek – I can’t wait!

What is your “yesterday, today, and tomorrow?”

Book Review: Love and Miss Communication by Elyssa Friedland

love and miss communicationAs someone who has taken month-long Internet sabbaticals before, I was thoroughly intrigued by the premise of this book: a girl giving up the Internet for an entire year. I grow weary of the Internet very quickly, and I often need a break from updating my online dating profiles, scrolling through Twitter, reading Facebook posts, Instagramming every big moment of my life. Once a year, I try to step away from blogging and social media for a month and I find it really recharges me.

Evie, the protagonist in this book, is different. She not only gives up her online dating profiles and her social media feeds, but the entire Internet, which includes email and texting. She wants freedom from living tied to her phone and her computer, which is something I really identified with.

Alas, this book did not live up to my standards. I never felt a true connection to the main character, and I felt the author tried too hard to turn her into a ditzy chick-lit character (a la Becky Bloomwood, one of my most disliked chick-lit characters). She made a lot of dumb decisions, seemed to be a pretty awful friend, and I couldn’t understand her appeal.

I also thought the book seemed a bit dated. For one, Evie’s main cell phone was a flip phone and I just… my grandparents don’t even have flip phones. (I can’t remember the last person I saw using a flip phone!) For another, her work cell phone was a Blackberry. I’ll admit I don’t know all that much about what companies are using nowadays for work cell phones, but a Blackberry seems passé.

Another issue I had was the length the main character went with her Internet sabbatical. I understand wanting to live a life free from the Internet, but we also live in an technological world. You need the Internet for work, you need it to keep in touch with friends. I didn’t understand how texting was considered using the Internet, quite frankly. I think it’s fine to give up Internet pursuits, like social media, online shopping, online dating, maybe even email, but when it starts affecting your work and your friendships, it may be going too far.

All that said, I did think this novel told a really interesting story and I really, really loved the ending. I also found it hard to put the book down about 60% in and wanted to see how things would wrap up for the main character. If you love chick-lit, especially for those who loved the Shopaholic series, I’d recommend this book.

Goodreads summary:

This unforgettable debut novel asks us to look up from our screens and out at the world…and to imagine what life would be like with no searches, no status updates, no texts, no Tweets, no pins, and no posts

Evie Rosen has had enough. She’s tired of the partners at her law firm e-mailing her at all hours of the night. The thought of another online date makes her break out in a cold sweat. She’s over the clever hashtags and the endless selfies. So when her career hits a surprising roadblock and her heart is crushed by Facebook, Evie decides it’s time to put down her smartphone for good. (Beats stowing it in her underwear–she’s done that too!)

And that’s when she discovers a fresh start for real conversations, fewer distractions, and living in the moment, even if the moments are heartbreakingly difficult. Babies are born; marriages teeter; friendships are tested. Evie just may find love and a new direction when she least expects it, but she also learns that just because you unplug your phone doesn’t mean you can unplug from life.

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review. All words and opinions, unless otherwise stated, are my own.

Have you ever taken a break from the Internet?

Virtual Coffee Date (v.4)

I haven’t done one of these posts in a long time, so I thought today is the perfect day to sit down with a cup of coffee and discuss some goings-on!

If we were having coffee today… I would most likely want to talk about my upcoming vacation. Since I’m just 5 days away from leaving, it’s the only thing on my mind! I’d probably mention that I’m having tons of vacation anticipation, but also a fair amount of vacation anxiety. (Which has to do more with worry that something terrible is going to happen to make the trip not happen than actual travel anxiety.)

If we were having coffee today… I might ask you how your Mother’s Day was. I would hope it was a good day, though I know how difficult this day is for those who have lost their mothers, don’t have a relationship with them, or are aching to become a mother themselves. I would tell you that I had a good Mother’s Day, celebrating the most important woman in my life, my mom. I would tell you that we went for a long walk, took pictures in a park for her wedding invitations, and then went out for a late lunch with my brother and his family. I might mention that I was bummed that my grandma couldn’t partake in the festivities, being too sick from her last round of chemotherapy. (Which would probably lead to a discussion of how awful cancer is!)

If we were having coffee today… I’d probably tell you that I’m feeling a bit lackluster with my workouts lately. I’d mention that I’ve been thinking seriously about a gym membership because I miss having access to classes and more workout equipment. I might even grumble about the fact that two of the five pieces of cardio equipment at my tiny apartment gym have been out of order for a while now, which limits my choices!

If we were having coffee today… I might mention how I spectated at a race this weekend and how darn happy I was not to be running it. I’d tell you that my mom and my soon-to-be stepdad both ran the 8k and did very well… and that my reward for not running was to get 7 ant bites (including 3 on my bum!)

If we were having coffee today… I’d definitely ask about what you’re currently reading, and I would talk about the book I just started last night, Hush by Kate White. I’d tell you how this was the first book I suggested for book club since my abysmal pick in August of 2014 (Code Name Verity), so I am hopeful to redeem myself with this novel.

If we were having coffee today… I would tell you that the plans are all coming together for my mom’s wedding in July! I’d laugh a little as I told you how crazy this wedding planning process has been – mainly because very little planning has happened! But then I’d tell you how a date has been set (July 11), a honeymoon has been secured (a 7-day cruise; yes, I’m jealous!), and my mom has asked her best friend to officiate (yay!). I’d tell you that, this upcoming week, my mom and stepdad will be purchasing wedding bands, getting their marriage license, and sending out invitations! Next up: finding a wedding dress!

If we were having coffee today, what would you want to talk about?