Monday, July 26, 2010

Baby let's cruise...

A month ago today we were just returning from our graduation cruise. Where has the time gone? While on the high seas the real world takes a back seat. The biggest decision of the day is what to eat.

This is S & I's seventh cruise & the teen's second. Since it was a celebration cruise he brought a friend along and my sister and her friend joined us for a relaxing 5 days aboard the Carnival Glory headed for Canada. It was our first cruise that wasn't going "tropic" but no matter because it was truly Glory-ious.

First I have to mention that this ship had the. best. music. hands. down. I found myself singing in the hallways, in the elevator and of course in the many lounges on board. It was a nice mix of classic rock & popular songs with some dance music thrown in.

Then there were the shows. Oh the shows! If you've ever been cruising you know they like to entertain you with "Vegas-style" shows. Sometimes they hit their mark & sometimes not. On the Glory they had a magic show that was AMAZING. Some of the tricks we could figure out but there were a few that made my mind spin. Making a motorcycle disappear...hello?! I never did figure that one out. Plus their soundtrack during the show was totally ipod worthy.

And how can I forget the food? THE FOOD! It's everywhere. Twenty fours hours a day. Lots of seafood (yuck!) and desserts and...well anything you can think of. No one will ever starve on a cruise.

While the weather was better than expected on this trip (only one foggy day) the two ports of call took a back seat to the ship & the cruise itself. We took advantage of the slight sway and dark interior room taking more than our fair share of naps. It was heavenly.

We sailed out of NYC...

...And went down the Hudson right by the Statue of Liberty

I LOVE this picture of them!

I don't care for this pic as much. I have awful posture.

Ah yes, this is more like me.

Oh Canada! Halifax, NS to be exact.


Even better than the book version!

Welcome to Saint John...

...where you too can be accosted by a weird albino dude drinking milk in 90 degree weather right after taking this picture...**

...and buy your lobster at good ole' McD's...

...before taking a boat trip to the Reversing Falls.

My only regret is that we had to disembark and come back to reality. I'm already counting down the days to the next one.

**No really this albino dude asked me if I wanted "to have a conversation aye?" to which I replied "uh no" that did nothing to stop him from trying to talk to me. Even after a slight confrontation with S he still continued to follow us for another block or two until he finally said "Hope ya' have a shitty vacation" and then went off in another direction. True story.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Proud moments

While I've been away THIS happened



It was a proud moment for S & I and all of our family to see him walk across the stage. Yep the teen finally graduated and we all sighed of relief that high school was finished over a big stack of IHOP pancakes.

What? We like IHOP. Not to mention it was freakin' 8PM on a Wednesday night and IHOP was right around the corner.

After our celebratory dinner/breakfast it was time to get ready for the graduation cruise. We planned, packed and dreamt of nights on the sea not at all worried about what was to come.

College plans & arrangements were made and only the money part wasn't nailed down. His school of choice had some staffing issues in the financial aid department that caused his paperwork to be sent to us late. "Don't worry" they said.

So we didn't. Then vacation was over and a bill was waiting in the mailbox.

No problem! We had already talked about student loans and narrowed our very small amount of choices* down to one lender - Sallie Mae. Little did I know what I was in for.

First of all, the criteria set by these institutions is just crazy. They really expect a high school senior to make $12,000+ a year? No, they don't but it's their way of forcing the parents to be responsible for the loans.

Not an issue, I thought. Signed my name on the dotted line and told them to proceed. A few days later we got the "good" news - we were approved! Yay! At an astronomically HIGH interest rate.

Uh, excuse me Sallie Mae maybe you didn't hear but I have an 883. In fact Trans Union pats me on the back and says I'm in the top 20% of the nation with that score. Turns out SM could give a darn about any of that.

With this interest rate his loan would be DOUBLED by the time it was paid off, and that's with making a monthly interest payment. Some "they" somewhere makes that decision and there is nothing more that they can do. I can accept it. Or not.

You know what I did when they said that? Bad ass that I am...I cried.

Then I called S & cried some more. It wasn't that we were told no, but it was pretty close because there is no way in hell that I'm going to hinder him (or us) with a loan like that. By the time he graduated he would owe over $100,000.

My God!

S sat him down and explained it all to him. I will tell you as proud as I was when he graduated, it was at that moment that I was most proud of the teen. He took the news in stride, much better than I expected. Then with a very grown, mature attitude he made the decision not to accept that college on those terms and began to talk of Plan B.

I'm not sure where Plan B will take him yet. He's weighing all his options now so there will be an update to come on that but this weekend he stepped into adulthood. And he's walking tall.

My suggestion for any parent hoping to send their little ones to college one day - College Fund. A big, huge college fund. Or maybe start playing the lottery because the costs are only going up.

*Thanks to the new health care plan.