Spoiler alert: The New London Ledgelight lighthouse’s ghost turned out to be a legend based on legend, not a real person. Although I did get a pretty good picture of him:
REAL PICTURE I TOOK of Ernie the Ghost (replica)
Even an unhaunted lighthouse is better than no lighthouse, and a lighthouse built on a shelf out in the middle of the harbor is awesome. We got to go as part of a charity auction I talked my very drunk husband into bidding on (along with the rest of his command) but it turns out Ledgelight actually allows tours several times a week through Project Oceanology – although kids under 6 aren’t allowed so we won’t be dragging Evan and Caroline out there just yet.
Basic facts: Built in 1909, the light was manned by civilians, then taken over by the Coast Guard. They left in 1987 after installing an automatic light and foghorn and since then a private charity has been working to preserve the building. Tons of information about Ledgelight here on their website. They have managed to fix up the second floor and put in a TV to show the film about the light created by this guy:
Todd Gipstein and his wife were just two people who loved the light and wanted to do a little to help. They ended up taking over Ledgelight’s 100th anniversary celebration and now give tours, do hands-on work, manage the website, create brochures and videos and fundraise to continue their mission. (Todd also wrote a book, Legacy of the Light, set on the other super-cool local lighthouse Race Rock.) Although with two kids hanging around all the time, I won’t be able to volunteer as a railing painter or floor scrubber very often, I’m hoping to find ways to support Ledgelight. Because I’m a dork who thinks lighthouses are super cool.
It did not. I was kind of disappointed.
Jeeze lady, that skirt’s a little short for a work even with your husband’s boss’s boss’s boss’s boss.
Basement steps. They used to store the coal down here before the light was electric.
Picture of a lighthouse in a lighthouse. So meta.
Plum Island (Have you ever read that book? Great book.)
There was a toilet in this room that works by burning away the waste. It was kind of terrifying.
On top of the world
I dropped those sunglasses over the side as I was leaving. Only bad part of the whole day.
Every lighthouse lamp has a different pattern, so sailors could tell where they were approaching even in the dark or fog.
Ledgelight’s pattern is three white, one red
The people standing up there are all pretty important, but you don’t care.
p.s. While we were out there, Todd was listing ways they were trying to raising money for the light, and he said “And if someone wanted to get married out here, we’d charge them a little fee and that would be totally doable.” So now my new Life’s Goal is to find SOMEONE to get married on Ledgelight. It would be fabulous.
p.p.s. Connecticut allows same-sex marriages. Just saying.
p.p.p.s. Although if we’re still stationed here in 2014, we are TOTALLY doing a 10-year vow renewal on Ledgelight. I will buy a big fancy wedding dress and E will wear his uniform and we’ll wrap the railings in twinklelights and tulle and OH MY GOD YOU GUYS, let’s do it NOW.
Hello Internet! I missed you bunches! And my Google reader is as stuffed with backed up posts as I am with desserts so it’s going to take me a few days to get back to normal – although normal is sort of the wrong word. Vacation was everything I had hoped for and more. I feel like I have literally been recharged in every way. I am no longer at the end of my rope. Instead, I am at the very top of a very long rope and I can totally handle toddler tantrums and busted lips and picky eating and 6 am wake-up calls and Bubble Guppie marathons for at least another few months – since I handled ALL OF THEM just in the past 48 hours. Then I’m going to need to start vacation planning again.
I have a lot of problems deciding what I want out of a vacation – Total relaxation? Adventure? Staying out all night? Getting 12 hours of sleep? Eating tons of fatty food? Extra gym time? – and it turns out a cruise is perfect to do ALL THE THINGS. One evening we went to the night club and danced like crazy until after 1 am. The next night we went to bed at 8:30 pm. As in, ASLEEP by 8:30. It was glorious. There was lots of day drinking and dinner drinking and night drinking and drinking with my in-laws and drinking with the strangers we made friends with in St. Thomas and yet there were zero hangovers. The Caribbean is MAGIC.
I will say if you’re looking for an incredibly glamorous vacation a cruise is NOT what you want. It’s a cruise. There are lots of old people and unstylish people and stereotypical touristy people. There is an enormous amount of food served in buffets. You stand in a lot of lines. Nothing about it feels exclusive or private. But it is easy and (relatively) affordable and you get to see a lot of things. I can totally picture us taking the kids on a cruise in the future, although we’d go into it with different expectations (less drinking, less adventure, more laid back beach time). I might have even started Googling Disney cruises while at the airport on the way back (They have one that leaves from NYC! Mickey Mouse!!!)
Our itinerary was a Sunday-Sunday cruise on the Ruby Princess leaving from Ft. Lauderdale then stopping in Princess Cay, a day at sea, St. Maarten, St. Thomas, Grand Turk, another day at sea and then back to Ft. Lauderdale. We treated ourselves to a balcony room (on our honeymoon we only had a window and we were unimpressed). Our balcony was directly off the back of the boat on the 11th deck (out of 19 total) and was very private. My inlaws had a balcony on the 9th floor, but on the side of the boat, and everyone on every floor above could look right down into it. They also got better views when we were in port and a better breeze at sea, so it’s sort of a personal preference.
Queen sized bed, plenty of storage and hangers. Tiiiiiny bathroom, but whatevs.
Champagne toast while leaving Florida
The actual POINT of the cruise – besides just being an amazing vacation for us – was E’s parents as well as two sets of aunts/uncles were renewing their wedding vows for 23, 35, and 40 years of marriage. Between the vow renewal package and their travel agent, E’s folks got FIVE bottles of champagne and a bottle of wine…but they don’t drink. I had more champagne last week than I’ve had the entire previous 29 years of my life.
The Atrium in the middle of the ship
While we were on the boat at sea, we did lots of fun but not-really-photo-worthy stuff. We took ballroom dance lessons, watched movies by the pool, saw two shows plus an illusionist and a comedian, went to the gym, wandered around the decks, browsed in the jewelry shops, lost at blackjack and kicked ass at team trivia (played 5 times, won 3 of them). Also, we ate. A LOT. We don’t get to eat out very often – or at fancy restaurants EVER – so we took advantage of the upscale dining room every night. I can understand that some people would rather wear flip flops for their entire vacation but for me dressing up is way more fun. Plus, ohmigod, the FOOD. This is all from the same night:
Poached seafood and avocado salad with lime vinaigrette
Mussels in white wine butter sauce
E's dinner: giant steak and french fries
The Love Boat - chocolate mouse over a chocolate brownie
And then we went to some beaches.
Snorkeling on Princess Cay
Where the tenders dock at Princess Cay
Princess Cay is Princess Cruise’s “private island”. Actually, it’s an island called Eleuthera with about 12,000 people who live on the non-Princess side. It’s a flat cay (as opposed to the Virgin Islands, which are tall and volcanic) so there isn’t much to look at but the beach is nice. There was a lot of food for free and souvenirs for not free, and we decided to just crash on our towels instead of renting chairs or a cabana. We brought our own snorkel and flippers so it was a cheap day. The boat anchored off shore and brought us in on tenders which meant lots of waiting around to catch a boat, so we went back to the ship early and chilled rather than rush at the last minute.
Tuesday night was a formal night (and the vow renewal) so we got fancy. Instead of renting a tux, E brought his dress blues. Which are actually black. The Navy is color blind. (p.s. My dress is from ModCloth)
Self portrait in our balcony door
In front of the champagne waterfall. MORE CHAMPAGNE.
Wednesday we went to St. Maarten, which is the Dutch half of St. Martin (the other half is French, but we never saw that side). We got off the boat early and used some of the shopping “coupons” to hit the stores. The cruise ships have some kind of deal with the jewelry stores where the ships make a HUGE DEAL about WHAT A BARGAIN all the jewelry is in the Caribbean and in return the stores give the customers free stuff. Although by “free stuff” I mean a crappy half plastic charm bracelet and a 1 ct “sapphire” that I’m pretty sure is just a shard of blue glass.
Of course, that’s all just a ruse to get you into the store because once you’re in there with all the sparkly things and a super attentive sales person offering you drinks and telling you everything is 60% off special just for you today…you’re probably buying something. We managed to keep it down to just ONE something – a really gorgeous tanzanite and diamond ring – but we probably still paid WAAAAY too much. But it’s a fantastic souvenir and I wear every day and it counts as my 30th birthday present too so I’m pretending it was worth blowing our budget.
Shopping in St. Maarten
The rest of the time in St. Maarten was on a shore, uh, sea excursion. We took a catamaran trip to a reef for snorkeling and a beach for swimming plus free rum punch and sandwiches. On the ride back I sat right on the very front of the boat with my feet hanging off and after a couple of rum punches I felt like I was flying. It was amazing.
Where we snorkeled in St. Maarten
That's our boat anchored off the beach. We liked pretending we didn't have to share it with 30 other people.
St. Maarten was nice but busy. There were seven cruise ships in port that day so it was REALLY crowded. I would love to go back to the island and explore both sides of it over a few days time since I don’t feel like I saw it at all.
We got to St. Thomas pretty early on Thursday and were off the boat and on one of the crazy converted pick-up truck taxis by 8:45 am. The excursion was described as a tour of the city, Blackbeard’s Castle, a rum factory and the amber museum, but we spent the first two hours hanging out at Magen’s Bay beach. Not that I’m complaining about getting to spend some time on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, but E didn’t bring his swimsuit and we didn’t bring any towels. Luckily the beach front bar started serving at 9:30 am so we stopped caring about towels pretty fast.
At the very far left side of the beach - it ends in a big rock wall
Posing on some very pointy rocks
After the beach we went to Blackbeard’s Castle (which is just a tower, a hotel and a couple pools), the rum factory (which was just a room with some distilling equipment – but had lots of free rum samples), and the amber museum (spoken: gift shop). We also followed the signs to a historic hotel bar for a drink that had five different kinds of rum in it. DELICIOUS. After wandering down the hill we browsed the open air market before catching a boat back to the ship.
Pirate Blackbeard in front of his castle tower
View of St. Thomas from the top of Blackbeard's Castle
The rocks beside the ship were COVERED in iguanas
Thursday night was another formal night, but for some reason I don’t have any pictures. I have no idea how that happened except that we were having a really good time and just forgot. One of the nicest surprises of this vacation was discovering how much I still really like my husband. I think we might have even had a better time than on our honeymoon cruise – we know each other so much better than we did eight years ago. I’m already hoping we can swing another adults-only vacation for our 10 year anniversary in 2014.
Friday morning we were still cruising, but Friday afternoon we pulled into Grand Turk and wow is that a good looking place. It’s another super flat island with incredibly clear blue water.
See where the water goes from turquoise to black? There’s a drop off there that is 7,000 feet deep. Our snorkeling boat took us out and had everyone look over the side and it is…kind of terrifying. I can’t even IMAGINE 7,o00 feet deep.
I had heard there wasn’t much to do on Grand Turk (the people we talked with who took a 4-wheeler tour of the island confirmed it was pretty boring) so we signed up for a snorkeling trip to a reef and to see the stingrays who hang out off of Gibb’s Cay. It was definitely the coolest excursion.
Grand Turk is technically in the Atlantic, not the Caribbean. It didn't mater, the water was just as warm as the other places.
Underwater camera FTW!
One of the TWO giant barracuda I was just a few feet away from that day
Doing my best mermaid impression
E kisses a stingray
And here’s video of me getting to meet/kiss/get a massage from a stingray. (The adorable bathing suit is from ModCloth – I’m totally smitten with it.)
Conch shell monument(?) on Gibb's Cay
After the boat adventure we headed back to the Grand Turk cruise port. Cruise ports aren’t real places. They’re imaginary towns with shiny happy stores painted bright colors where all the prices are insanely inflated but someone sweeps all the streets every night. The one in Grand Turk has a huge Margaritaville with a swim up bar. E was thrilled. I found some of our cruise friends and had nachos, so I was thrilled too. We hung out until the very last minute before getting back on the ship and getting dressed for dinner.
The last time I wore that dress was to my bff Erin's wedding a zillion years ago. I was so excited to get to wear it again.
Sunset from Grand Turk
Saturday was another day at sea. I took a nap. It was very very relaxing and kind of depressing since I knew vacation was almost over. We went to the Wheelhouse Bar for fish and chips for lunch and wondered if they were serving green beer for St. Patrick’s Day (they were). We played bingo and did not win anything.
For dinner, all 24 of us – in-laws, Granny, aunts, uncles, cousins, kids, etc – went to the formal dining room. We heard about everyone’s adventures over the past week and they all confirmed they had a wonderful time too.
Dressed up for dinner the last night (ModCloth again!)
And then we were back in Florida and vacation was over.
Post-vacation sad faces
We stood in a lot of lines and waited. We cleared customs without anyone even asking about the 4 bottles of rum in our checked baggage. We got to the airport TWELVE HOURS before our evening flight and managed to catch an earlier one (Thank God). But it all went extremely smoothly and we made it home just in time to see the kids before bed.
I think both kids missed us a little – Caroline probably more – but my parents kept them super busy so they didn’t take it too hard. Being in their regular beds, going to their regular places, and eating their regular food definitely helped keep things as normal as possible. Unfortunately, now they’re used to people who grant them their every train-playing, horsey-ride, french fry eating wish so being told “No” by Mommy is the END OF THE WORLD. But hey, screaming kids are no biggie when I’m so refreshed.
Wow, if you made it through all of that you totally deserve a pina colada. Come on over, I have lots of rum.
I posted the rest of the pictures on Facebook, so if you’re still eager to see more just friend me over there.
There’s been a rash of bra-fitting revelations on the internet recently (for a really good laugh check out Mandy’s), where everyone realized wearing a bra in the right size is SO MUCH BETTER. I’ve been thinking about getting fitted for a long time – it’s one of those things I’ve got on my “To Do Now That I’m A Real Grown Up And Stuff” list. But because I’m still nursing I figured I’d have to suffer through a few more months of horrible saggy chesticles before I could upgrade.
And THEN I got an email from Leading Lady that said even though they knew I was weaning Caroline, they loved my blog and thought might enjoy their nursing bras and would I be interested in doing a review?
How about “Yes” and “Hell Yes” and “HOLY COW this might be the best opportunity I’ve ever gotten from blogging.”
I used the size calculator on the Leading Lady site to figure out my size (they even have a cool printable tape measure in case your kids ran off with yours months ago) and told them if we were going for function I could really use something for Stroller Strides but with Valentine’s Day coming up it sure would be nice to have something that wasn’t hideous, pokey, and ripped.
They sent me a Sport Wirefree Nursing Bra and a Lace-Cup Wirefree Nursing Bra. I love them both SO MUCH I actually took pictures of myself wearing them to show you. Then I thought better than to post topless pictures of myself on my baby blog and deleted them. You’re welcome. But I can assure you they make my boobs look awesome. The sport bra really helped control the, uh, bouncing problem I had when it came to jumping jacks at Stroller Strides. It’s the first bra with a full sling (meaning even when you fold the outer part down there’s still fabric across your boob) that I’ve EVER liked – the opening is large enough to nurse without having to yank it all over the place. The lace bra is GORGEOUS and not even the tiniest bit scratchy. It blows the horrible “sexy” underwire nursing bra I bought at a cheap big-box store out of the water. It was so comfortable I even slept in it. I sort of can’t believe I hadn’t heard of Leading Lady before, but will absolutely be ordering from them again.
Leading Lady is a family owned company that’s been selling nursing, maternity and full-figured bras for more than 70 YEARS so they really know their stuff. Their nursing bras range in size from 34B to 48F and their full-figured bras are available from 34A to 56G – which if you ask me includes a lot of women that wouldn’t really like to be considered “full-figured” *ahem ME ahem*. The site offers bras, tanks and sleepwear. They have a great selection – how clever is a nursing bra with a hidden pattern for the baby? You can search by size, type and category, including specialty categories like latex-free and organic. They even have a Breastfeeding A-Z Guide on their site full of really great information. And if you were wondering, I think their prices are extremely reasonable, especially considering what nursing bras from other companies cost. And right now new Facebook fans will receive 10% off by liking Leading Lady between now & Feb. 14, while all fans of Leading Lady can tweet “I Love @LeadingLadyBras” on Feb. 14 and receive a special 10% off code.
Yes, I’m gushing. I promise there was no gushing required when they offered to send me a bra to try (they’re probably super embarrassed by me right now), but I truly can’t help it. I’m so excited to find a company I like so much, has such a great product AND agreed to let me give YOU a free bra!
That’s right, you could win an e-certificate good for one free bra from the Leading Lady collection PLUS free shipping.
Just leave a comment on this post telling me why you NEED a new bra.
Right now they only ship to the US and can’t ship to P.O. boxes so giveaway is limited to those who qualify (sorry Canadians!) No duplicate comments or cheating of any kind. I’ll draw a winner using Random.org sometime this weekend.
Disclaimer: Leading Lady provided me with 2 bras so I could give an honest review for my post, all opinions are my own. No other compensation was provided. They didn’t even ask me to include product links or make you like them for the giveaway. Leading Lady is good people.
Have you heard of Allora Handmade? (Of course you have!) I’ve seen her beautiful rosettes on blogs before – we seem to have a few overlapping friends in the online world – but after meeting Jessica in person at The Creative Connection I was BEYOND desperate for one of her gorgeous necklaces.
I told her I was asking E to buy me one for Christmas.
And then I went ahead and bought one anyway.
So when you buy me my Christmas present E, don't get blue. I like yellow & pink.
She calls this the "modern pearl rosette statement necklace". I just call it MIIIIINE.
If that picture looks familiar it’s because it’s over there in my sidebar <———– I also made it my Twitter avatar and my Gravatar when commenting on other blogs, because like I told Jessica, her beautiful rosettes make my face look better. Shouldn’t that totally be her new tag line?
She also makes headbands (oh, did I mention I have one of those too?), earrings, bracelets and shoe clips in a huge variety of colors. I think I need one of each. In every color. I’m only half joking.
And today, because she is AWESOME, Jessica is giving one reader the chance to win a $20 gift certificate to Allora Handmade.
And today, because I like to keep things easy, all you have to do to win is visit her shop and leave a comment on this post telling me which color rosette is your favorite!
I also high suggest you read Jessica’s blog and follow her on Twitter but none of those are part of the giveaway today. And P.S. If you’re lucky enough to live near San Diego do you yourself a favor and check out The Queen Bee Market Jessica is organizing too. I’ll be sitting here in Connecticut freezing my butt of jealously.
Giveaway will be open until November 1st, winner will be chosen using Random.org and notified via email so make sure you use a real email address when commenting.
Giveaway is now closed!
P.S. If you don’t win but want to put some Allora rosettes on your Christmas List, make sure to get the order in before December 1st! Handmade means MADE BY HAND and we want Jessica’s poor tired fingers to get some rest this holiday.
Disclaimer bit: I purchased my Allora Handmade products with my own money. No compensation was received for this review besides the pleasure of getting to exchange funny emails with Jess. She’s providing this giveaway for you out of the kindness of her heart.
I wanted to let you know that although the next week is going to be INSANE at the bebehblog residence (my folks come Thursday to start new nursery/master bedroom renovations) and here on the blog (giveaways every day) I’m going to keep up posting regular Little Evan and Baby Sandy type updates too. So even if you’re not interested in giveaways please don’t delete me from your reader just yet.
Because, trust me, you’re going to want to see if we can make THIS…
…into livable space.
Also, if you’re local and have any need for:
1. End table shaped like a dock piling with burn mark on top
2. Giant Stonehenge style speakers
3. Former radio console with all the speakers and doors ripped off
4. Size 5 black satin pants covered in sparkly black mirrors
5. 400 square feet of orange carpet that may be soaked in cat pee
Bonjour! No I'm not French, it just sounded fancy. Sorry for the confusion. I'm Suzanne, a 33-year-old mom, photographer, Navy wife, blogger, baker, and amateur at pretty much everything else. The stars of the show are Evan, born 4/5/09, Caroline, born 12/19/2010 and Lincoln, born 7/23/2014, with baby number FOUR due at the end of August 2016. We live in Connecticut and enjoy it very much except for most of February and March. You can find more of my photos (or even hire me!) over on my photography site, Ginger Snaps Pictures. I love hearing from you so if you have questions, stories or ideas to share, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Affiliate disclosure: some of my posts contain links which may be affiliate links. That means I get Diet Coke money if you happen to like something I mention enough to buy it. I appreciate it!