Everyday Spectacular

Imperfections. Ramblings. Life to the Full.

Archive for the tag “cruise”


My mom and I just returned from a cruise in Northern Europe. We had been planning and dreaming and booking day tours and researching cities and getting REALLY EXCITED for months.


I was to fly out of Toronto on a Thursday night, meet up with her in Chicago and fly over to Copenhagen together that same night where we would then have a day to explore the city before leaving on our cruise on Saturday. However, it was a tight connection time between my flights, and thanks to an unexplained hour long wait on the runway at Pearson, I was late for the next flight.  I was disappointed but figured we would get another flight out, no problem.


OYE. It was a problem.


The customer service (ahem) lady we dealt with informed us that she could not get us in to Copenhagen until SUNDAY. Sorry, but that’s the best she could do.


In my nicest I’m-a-Jesus-lover-but-still-really-upset-voice,  “Ummm, no, listen, lady, that is not going to work.”


At 2am, after 4 hours, much anxiety and several other representatives later, we closed down the customer service counter but we were finally booked on flights that got us to the cruise with less than an hour to spare.


Oh, but my bag decided it was going to have its own sort of adventure and went AWOL.


(I don’t think I have to say much more about this, right? You just groaned out loud, right? You just imagined trying to outfit yourself for your cruise from the cruise gift shop, right? Enough said.)


We had an absolutely fantastic time on our cruise and in the countries we visited…Germany, Russia, Estonia, Finland, Sweden and Denmark. Oh, the history, the cultures, the food! Oh, the castles, cathedrals, and cobblestoned streets! Not to mention that being with my mom is one of my most favorite things, and that not having to make and clean up breakfast, lunch and dinner for my family for 12 days is a vacation all by itself.


But, what I’ve realized is this…the best stories we have to tell from our trip are of all the moments that didn’t go as planned and the ones we never could have planned for…the hilarious photos we took of each other, the random people we met, the Ballet-night debacle, the Russian meatloaf, the Swedish marathon, and the Helsinki port-o-potty to name a few. Oh, and the shopping I will get reimbursed for because of the luggage delay, WAHOO!


And, it’s got me to thinking that life is a lot like this too.

The best stories of God at work are usually the ones where He is moving in unexpected ways.


Sometimes it’s in the delay. Remember Mary, Martha and Lazarus in John 11?  It was obvious to everyone but Jesus that he was late…unacceptably, unforgivably late. Yet Jesus tells the disciples that he was glad that he wasn’t there, so that their belief would increase. The long-dead being brought back to life does tend to increase the faith level.


Sometimes it’s in the change of plans. Remember young Mary receiving the news that she has been chosen to bear the Son of God? (Luke 1) She had certainly not signed up for this, and yet she embraced this radical life-detour.


Sometimes it’s in the inconvenience. Sometimes it’s in the awkward moments. Sometimes it’s those blessings-in-disguise. But always, always, Jesus is trying to get us to see from His perspective.


I want to encourage you today that if the journey you’re on right now looks different than what you think it should look like, don’t lose heart. I’m pretty sure if you look hard enough, you will find joy ready to burst onto the scene….sort of like how I felt on day 5 when my luggage finally arrived.


Travel on, friends. Travel on.







My parents are ridiculously generous towards us. I tell them often, you don’t really have to be so amazing towards us, but they love to be a blessing. So, by now, after years of this spoiling, I have decided to just graciously, humbly accept their gifts.

The latest blessing was a Spring Break trip for the four of us Johnstons with the two of them, the doting grandparents. We flew down to Miami and then did a four night cruise on the Carnival Destiny. Jeff and I love cruising. LOVE IT. But we have always cruised without the kids, and so I couldn’t wait to take them on their first cruise. And I have to say, it was more amazing than I had even hoped for. Not only did we get to spend time with my parents, but the kids were extremely well-behaved, and they adored everything about the experience, especially their beds that had come down from the ceiling and the towel animals.

The cruise stopped at the port of Cozumel one of the days and we went to swim with the dolphins. This is one of those experiences that just sounds so unbelievably COOL, but yet had previously been on my “Something-I-will-only-do-if-one-of-my-children-is with-me-And-probably-only-if-someone-else-pays-the-fee” list.

(What? You don’t have one of these lists?!?!?)

It was my lucky day. I had both of my children with me and my money got to stay in my wallet, so dolphin-swimming it was.

Carter and Grandpa went first and we watched as they did all sorts of tricks with the dolphins. They even got to lay on a small boogie-board and then the dolphin pushed them back to the rest of the group. My face was in a perma-grin watching my son fist-pumping excitedly over and over.

When it was time for Mykah and I to get into the water, I was praying she would be ok. She tends to need some time to warm up to new experiences and people, so this was quite a bit out of her comfort zone. And let’s be honest, any time I have to get into a swimsuit, I am quite a bit out of my comfort zone too.

We were in a group with only one other lady and we were given a female trainer who took us to spend time with a baby dolphin, Donna-hey (okay, that’s probably not how THEY spell it, but that’s the best I can do!)

I’m thinking thoughts of “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Embrace every single minute of this. Share this special moment with your daughter to the fullest.”

Then a little while later as I am standing on the slimy platform in the water amidst small swimming fish, holding up Mykah because she couldn’t comfortably stand up, “Ok, this was not exactly what I was expecting.” But we shook Donna-Hey’s fins and kissed her and offered up our cheeks for her return kisses. Mykah was pretty quiet, but I could tell she was proud of herself for what she was participating in.

And then the TRUE once-in-a-lifetime-experience occurred.

Donna-Hey was upside down so we could see her underside again.

Our trainer was distracted by something momentarily and had turned away from us.

“Ummmmmmm….excuse me,.” I say while waving my free hand that was not wrapped around Mykah’s waist. “Is that what I think it is?”

Oh yes.

Our sweet baby dolphin was POOPING.

And then the trainer just smiled apologetically while swishing and swirling “it” around in the water, not 12 inches in front of us.

Now, I ask you…How many people do you know that can say they paid to watch a dolphin poop?


You now know one.



I am sitting here at my kitchen table with the entire bag of my kids Halloween candy and I am trying to remember if my mother ate most of my candy when I was little too.  Oh, just found a Snickers….

Can I just say that when I go for long stretches without blogging, I feel so overwhelmed. It now feels like I cannot simply pick one thing to talk about, I must fill you in on everything that has gone on in my life and in my head for the past 3-4 weeks. But that is just ridiculous. 

Why are those little sugar discs called Smarties in the States, but they are called Rockets here in Canada? This is a thought I have every time I eat them, as if it is part of the actual experience now. I realize that in Canada Smarties are the little chocolate discs that taste like big stale M & M’s, and that is probably the reason the sugar discs could not be called by the same name. But it does make me wonder if there are two separate factories making these sugar discs or one factory for both. And if there is just one factory, I have to wonder if workers occasionally at least want to send “Smarties” instead of “Rockets” to the Canadian public just to really mess everything up. 

Jeff and I just returned from a seven night Caribbean cruise. It was beyond fabulous – Relaxing, Refreshing, Indulgent, Wonderful. It was so nice to be able to go away just the two of us and spend so much distraction-free time together. No cell phones, no kids, no computers, no responsibilities, just us. Oh, well, us and the people waiting on us hand and foot! 🙂 Now that we are back, I keep hoping to see one of those room stewards sneaking into my house to make up my bed and leave me little chocolates and towel-animals, but it just hasn’t happened.

(small break while Mykah and I go to the bus stop to pick up Carter and then decide we will go to the park on what may be the last sunny, although cold, day we may have until May. While at the park, it is discovered that my next door neighbor’s child/grandchild has crossed the street at the four way stop and is playing with the other kids on the equipment. He is maybe 2 years old and has no coat or socks on, but as this little adventure was his idea, I suppose this could be expected. I am happy to report that he was returned safe and sound to his panic-stricken care-giver.)

A few recent Carter-isms…Monday morning was a PA day, which means Carter didn’t have to go to school, and I was looking forward to the day with both kids since I had been away from them for eight days. Carter found his way into bed with me around 8:00am for some snuggle time which was so nice, until he kept trying to cover my mouth. I was informed I was being too loud, even though I was not talking just breathing. Then he said, “You need to be quiet because I am listening for God to speak to me.”

My neighbor and good friend, Jen Colwell told me that one day recently she was getting Carter from the bus  for me and she overheard him telling the bus driver, “She’s not my real mom.” …Then another day she was telling Carter that she and her family were going on a vacation to Florida, where he used to live. Carter told her, “Do you know why we moved from Florida to Canada? Because I only had adult friends in Florida.”  HAHAHA!!!!

Mykah…She is really “coming into her own” these days. She is constantly surprising me now with the sentences she comes up with and the sense of humor that she has. If you ask her how old she is, she will ALWAYS say, “Sixteen”. Oh boy. And she has gotten so sweet too…She told me, “I missed you so much” when we got back and promptly had me near tears.

Hmmm….what else?….Oh, I brought back some rather small seashells that I had found on the beaches in Grand Cayman and Cozumel. I thought Mykah would enjoy playing with them. Um, the only problem is that 3 or 4 of the shells are alive. I put them in a bowl and they literally keep getting out. I suppose the slugs/snails/whatever they are will eventually starve for lack of food, and I could just throw them in the garbage because I am a little grossed out by them, but I now also have a strange fascination with them. Weird.

Ok, that’s enough randomness for one day. Tootle-oo.



Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: