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About Twolittleboys

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  1. My younger son will be taking part in an exchange programme to France through his school (we live in Europe). It is basically pretty simple: a group of kids from the partner school will come by bus next Saturday night and stay until the following Saturday. During the week they spend some time at school but mostly go on organized excursions. So "our" exchange student will mostly just be here the first Sunday and three afternoons (and of course all evenings and over night). In May, the German counterparts will travel to France and it will be pretty much the same. Anyway, there were more kids wanting to take part than spaces but ds got an exchange partner. They have been exchanging some text messages for several weeks. We have repeatedly asked what he likes to eat, do etc. Everything seemed fine. Last weekend the French boy suddenly sent a message telling us that he is diabetic which we had no clue about. This has been quite a shock for me. I am horrible with all kinds of medical emergencies and have absolutely no experience with diabetes. I feel that at the very minimum the teachers assigning kids to families should have asked at the very beginning if we could handle the extra responsibility. I probably would have said yes but it would have given me time to do some research/find out a bit more. There was absolutely no communication about this. I do understand that a teenager can probably / hopefully handle his condition himself but I am still nervous. Especially, as the situation will be new/different for him too - first a very long bus ride, different food etc. I think some of the other families would have been a much better match, either because there is a medical professional in the family, they have experience with diabetes themselves or at least are better equipped for emergencies. We don't even have a car to drive him somewhere if he doesn't feel good for example. Obviously, I do not want to bail now and I know it isn't the boy's fault but I so wish there had been better communication. Please tell me this will be okay (or what you would do). Any practical tips for having a diabetic teenager staying here would also be appreciated!
  2. I feel kind of iffy about buying used soft furnishings (tables etc. would be absolutely fine). However, I have a sofa I bought at Ikea 20 years ago. It is pretty much destroyed now but it saw some HEAVY use and held up quite well. So if you can't find something used you feel comfortable with I would get some less expensive pieces like that.
  3. Tricky question. There are a number of changes that I think would make me happier with my life (which isn't too bad anyway) and I am more or less working on those (maybe not hard/fast enough though): Our home needs a serious overhaul/renovation and we are doing that but at the moment are stuck in the unpleasant stages of having piles of stuff everywhere and things boxed up etc. I would like to spend more time with the kids instead of spending my time either working or watching TV - hopefully I will feel less exhausted once the house is done. I am having a difficult time finding the right balance between work and relaxation. I have been working on building up more friendships etc. There are also a number of changes that will happen fairly soon, impact as yet unknown. Mostly older son will be done with school in about a year so lots of changes because of that. I would definitely like to travel more. So, all in all, my life is fairly good and hopefully should improve further in the near future. However, if I compare it to my "dream life" it is quite a bit different. I always thought I would have a loving husband, our own house. I never really planned on working other than being home/taking care of the family. Ideally, I would like to be somewhat wealthy and I would have liked more kids (and definitely some girls!). But life is what it is and all in all I am pretty happy with mine.
  4. We did a Caribbean cruise with Royal Caribbean some years ago - my kids were older so I don't know much about how it would be with a baby/toddler. But as far as shore excursions are concerned: In Cozumel we did Chankanaab, which I loved. I definitely think it would work for pretty much any age group (with good sun protection and just to chill out). We actually didn't do much/anything in Grand Cayman as we couldn't find the bus/were running late/hadn't planned properly. So we just checked out the port area and bought some T-Shirts. One day was on Royal Caribbean's private island and that was great and again would work with small kids.I know you are going with Carnival but I think their private island is pretty similar. Depending on what you do this is also a fairly inexpensive day (though you could spend a bundle with private cabana, zip line etc.). We had a stop in Jamaica and arranged a day pass to a nice resort. Definitely something I would recommend if you have a port that is otherwise a bit sketchy. We were picked up by a bus, taken there and could use all facilities (including food and drinks). The beach was not especially nice there, but they had a great pool. I agree with others that I don't think a baby/toddler will get that much out of a cruise BUT I do think it can work pretty well and be fun as long as you have the right expectations!
  5. I would go as long as the expense isn't a real hardship. I did NOT attend my best friend's wedding for various reasons (some better, some worse) and I still feel horrible about it almost 20 years later. It is one of those things you can not undo.
  6. Well, I would say the idea behind that is that by benefiting society at large you are ultimately benefiting yourself, your kids, other descendants etc. Obviously, there are instances in which personal benefit/disadvantage will outweigh the benefit to society at large (e.g. if there are medical problems that would make immunization more dangerous than normal). However, in other cases it will ultimately be to everybody's benefit. Example: If everyone vaccinated, the disease would eventually be eradicated. If for example one of your grandchildren had a health problem that made it impossible to vaccinate it would still pose no danger as the disease would no longer be around. That would of course also benefit your child (parent of grandchild). The problem is just that this potential "pay-off" is far in the future and uncertain.
  7. As far as embarkation/muster drill are concerned my experience (we've mostly cruised on Royal Caribbean so it may differ) has been that embarkation usually goes very quickly/smoothly though there may be a lot of people. Often there are separate lines for people in suites/with higher loyalty levels etc. - maybe check whether there is a separate line you could use if the regular ones are long (in my experience it is a breeze though). Most ships I have been on shut down pretty much everything prior to the muster drill (e.g. food outlets, slides etc.). Often the cabin steward also goes around 15 minutes or so before to tell people to go. For the most part, everyone is already at their assigned stations when the alarm goes off. Obviously it is fine if you do not go there that early but at least it is unlikely that you will be taken by surprise. I missed the part about which ship/cruise line you are on but in my experience sail off usually isn't that big a deal (I think it is a little more lively in the Caribbean). There is music/dance parties etc. but they can easily be avoided and you don't miss that much in my opinion. I would either stay on your balcony (if you have one - we never do but not sure what cabin you booked), find a quieter deck, watch from a restaurant/lounge or just skip it. We
  8. My advice would be to just relax - most of what you are asking really doesn't matter or is a a question of personal taste. I do understand your feelings but really - most of it doesn't matter. Wear a lanyard or not, take as many swimming trunks as you would for any other trip etc. Really, the main selling point of a cruise is that they will do their utmost to make YOU happy. And they will also sell anything you might have forgotten / need. Just relax and have fun!
  9. Sorry, but I don't see your problem? Why shouldn't he be there? It's independent/assisted living, not some dangerous place.
  10. Okay, I am not really familiar with BJU but based on my impression (and what I am reading here) I would definitely not use it for science as it is unlikely to be "mainstream science".
  11. When the kids were five and almost three I took them to Disneyworld. We live overseas and it was a long and exhausting flight. What with time change, different climate, the general Disney stress etc. it was just really tiring. We did have fun but my five year old freaked out on most rides. He screamed all the way on the carousel because I apparently put him on the "wrong" horse. He was terrified on Pirates of the Caribbean so I took them on the treehouse to calm down but he cried even harder. Turns out he was really scared the treehouse wouldn't hold. He hated the smell of food in restaurants so commented loudly "it stinks" when we went out to eat. I got a cold right at the beginning and it started to turn into a horrible cough. It made me gag horribly (never had that happen before or since). I ended up throwing up in the middle of a restaurant. After that I carried a plastic bag with me wherever we went. Periodically, I would start coughing/gagging horribly and the boys would jump around me, laughing and shouting "She is doing it again"! I ended up going to urgent care and having to take antibiotics for bronchitis. Younger son had various diaper accidents at the worst moments. Hard to believe, but all this didn't stop me and we have been on many vacations since, including to Disney!
  12. I got my 23andme results a little before Christmas. No real surprises there - of course I am the only member of my close family to be tested so even if there was some big secret there it probably wouldn't have shown up. But the results are pretty much in line with what I know - largely German with about 12 percent Eastern European (there has been some talk that my paternal great-grandmother was from somewhere to the East so that pretty much lines up). The results also showed a bit of Scandinavian, British and (surprise!) African but I think that is mostly noise (especially the Sudanese) as I can't imagine how it might have happened.
  13. Okay, here is my input: We have mostly travelled on Royal Caribbean and really liked it. However, I think Carnival or Norwegian would be fine as well. Looking at your signature, I see that you have a one year old. Often, kids clubs don't take kids that small so if you want to enjoy some grown-up time you might want to wait until either your littlest is a bit older or possibly leave her behind with grandparents etc. The best website is probably cruisecritic - it is pretty comprehensive. There aren't really hidden fees but there is a fairly high expected tip - this is pretty much part of the fare price as it is a significant part of the employees' pay so you'd have to include it in your calculation. Many also spend a lot for drinks, shopping, gambling, or excursions. Shopping/gambling can of course easily be avoided depending on what you like to do. Drinks will depend - there is generally water/lemonade available for free so it is quite possible to spend little or nothing, again depending on personal preferences. Excursions also depend - what itinerary are you looking at? You can generally go and visit some beach (if in the Caribbean) fairly cheaply. However, there are also often excursions that are quite expensive so it would be possible to spend A LOT. If you want to take the entire family, you would need at least two cabins. I think you would have to book one adult in each cabin - generally it is easy enough to switch however it will depend on your kids if you think leaving them alone in a cabin would work (you could probably get connecting cabins but they might not be guaranteed?). Alternatively, a suite might work but not sure how many those sleep - they are expensive but you'd have to do the math to see if it is that much worse than two (or more) cabins. As far as deals etc. are concerned, it is difficult to say. Generally, prices are low(er) very early on (1+ years ahead) and then go up. But they will go down if a specific itinerary does not sell well. I would probably recommend one of the bigger ships - they do offer a lot of activities. My kids have always enjoyed the kids clubs but there are generally climbing walls, miniature golf, and maybe ice skating rink, zip line, flow rider etc. (this is on RC but others have similar offerings). You will also have to consider how you get to the port. Of course you will save money if you can drive there or can get an inexpensive flight. Like any other vacation cruises tend to be cheaper outside of school vacation time.
  14. I don't think you can really say. There is a huge variety in cost. Basically, they do not want to have any empty cabins on a ship so if an itinerary does not sell they will discount it heavily. We have been on some really good deals but the last couple of years I have not been able to find one that would work for us and was reasonable. Don't forget to calculate the cost for tips and (if applicable) drinks, shopping/gambling, and excursions as these can add up to more than the cruise itself.
  15. We always watch "Little Lord Fauntleroy" - for some reason a very popular movie at Christmas in Germany.
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