Saturday, February 28, 2009

More about Playa

If you haven't already, check out the post before this one for the beginning three days of the trip.

Day 4 (Wednesday):

Day four really starts at night on day 3. After 10 hours of crazy outdoor jungle adventuring, we then had to walk out to the highway (not a short walk) to catch a colectivo (shuttle bus generally jam packed with Mexicans - the cheap public transportation on the Yucatan.) Instead, a taxi driver stopped and offered us a ride for the same price as a colectivo - his taxi was half-full so it worked out well for both of us. We made it into Playa del Carmen in plenty of time... since we had to figure out where on earth the Budget car rental office was.

We found Budget without much trouble... and found that they closed at 5 pm, instead of 10 like the chick on the phone had told me. We had a reservation to be picked up at 9 pm. Sweet. Thankfully there was another rental place that referred us to another rental place, and we managed to rent a car without too much more trouble. I've heard horror stories about renting a car in Mexico, so really, I thought it went pretty smooth.

Playa is a busy place. La Quinta Avenida is the busiest street, where everything is located, and it's closed off to traffic.

It was sort of chaotic, especially for a girl like me who is quite unaccustomed to city life. Vendors are standing outside their little stores heckling you to buy their wares, music is blaring from the bars on every corner, and people - Mexicans and tourists alike, fill the streets. La Quinta Avenida runs right along the beach, which was kind of neat to see. We didn't spend much time in Playa that night though- we were already exhausted and knew we'd be back, so we decided to attempt to get our car back to our hotel.

Let's talk a little bit about driving in Mexico. It's fascinating, really.... that more people don't die. All of the things we take for granted here - laws like obeying stop signs, using headlights, using turn signals, following street signs like "one way" and "no passing".... those things are all optional in Mexico. At least, the drivers think they are. You may as well assume no one is going to obey any standard traffic law while driving down the street, and that people will act in ways that appear to be completely random. In addition, while driving down the highway, you should always expect random Mexicans to appear out of the undergrowth at any moment. And topes - speed bumps that make no sense, placed on highways and roads with absolutely no standardization, wait to destroy the undercarriage of your car if you don't see them ahead of time.

Yep, driving in Mexico is splendid fun. Especially when you drive in a car that makes you feel especially safe, like this one:

That's our handy dandy, reliable little rental car. Ain't it cute? :o) And yes, it had air conditioning.

We made it out of downtown Playa and out onto the highway without too much trouble, filled the little car with gas in preparation for the next morning, and made it 'home' without a hitch.

I'd done some research online before leaving and knew I desperately wanted to visit Chichen Itza, the largest of the Mayan ruins on the Yucatan Peninsula. Chichen is now considered one of the new seven wonders of the world. There are a number of tours that can be taken to Chichen - fancy air conditioned tour buses with meals and tour guides... and two hundred people or so. And I knew I didn't want to do it that way - I may be a tourist, but I don't like being around too many of them at once. So I had printed some directions from our hotel to Chichen and then a couple of stops and a roundabout way home so we could see some of 'real' Mexico.

We got up and left by 6:30 am, drove for awhile on the main highway, then got on the cuota (toll highway). People in Mexico apparently don't want to pay to drive on a road - it was nearly empty of all traffic and was very well maintained. There were several signs that all seemed to say the same things. I got out my fancy little Spanish dictionary and started looking them up. The signs all said "Obey the signs." There was also one that said "Do not mistreat the signs." We enjoyed that - kind of funny. In an easy three hours of driving, we arrived at Chichen Itza hours before all of the tourists. It was gorgeous, and nearly empty.

El Castillo:

Just five years ago, they closed El Castillo to tourists climbing on the structure. Before that, you could climb to the top. I'm sad - I would have loved to have done that.

Temple of Warriors:

The Marketplace:

Temple of Venus:

Cenote Sagrado (The sacred cenote): This is the main cenote in Chichen Itza, the main water source for the Itzaes who inhabited the area fifteen hundred years ago. They worshipped many gods, including a god of water. Upon discovery of Chichen Itza, some SCUBA divers explored the bottom of Cenote Sagrado and found jewelry, stones, other valuable trinkets, and many human bones. It's believed that the Itzaes sacrified warriors, women and children by throwing them into the cenote, to appease the water god.

So I stood there contemplating all of humanity, what life must have been like in a militaristic Itza village, what a mother must have felt as her child was thrown off the side and into the water, how they viewed life then as opposed to how we view it now... It doesn't look like much in the picture, but standing on the edge of this cenote, with it's dark past, was an enlightening experience for me.

The ball court: The "ball game" was important in many early Mexican Indian cultures. The basic gist of it was that players had to get a small rubber ball into the rings on either side of the court using only their hips and elbows - no feet, no hands. I'd read this, and thought it sounded interesting... but when we saw it, I realized it was more like impossible. Those rings are so high up there, and the court is so huge. And if you stand directly in front of the rings and clap, an echo will be heard seven times - accoustics that no architect has yet to figure out.

And no one knows for sure whether it was the winning team or the losing team, but one or the other, at the end of the game, was decapitated and sacrificed to the gods. Their heads were staked and then placed on display here, on the altar at the end of the ball court.

As we walked around, we saw so many carvings. Warriors holding stakes with heads on the end to use as weapons, skulls and so many other pictures depicting death and violence. The way our world is now, it's hard to imagine what that world must have been like.

We spent a good three hours at Chichen. We left just as the tourists were arriving which was perfect. Into the rental car we went and headed not far this time to a little colonial town called Valladolid (bah-yah-doe-leed.) After a quick look in the guide book we chose a restaurant on the main square (el mercado) that was beautiful and delicious. It was in this restaurant, in this picture perfect setting, that I drank the best margarita I have EVER had and tasted guacamole for the first time. It sounds silly, but I'm a picky eater and I don't often try new things, and just looking at avacado disgusts me. I was surprised at how good it really was, and had it a few more times during the week.

A shot of the restaurant:

Andrew ordered something with the words "el diablo" (the devil) in the title. A girl came to our table and cooked the meal right there on a tray for us to watch. There was quite a bit of fire and flame involved. Very cool.

After the delicious meal (which was fascinatingly cheap for how fancy the restaurant seemed) we wandered Valladolid a bit, stopping in some of the tourist shops and checking out the Municipal Building where there are gorgeous murals painted on the second floor depicting the gruesome and bloody history of the town. From the second floor balconies we could look out over el mercado and the pretty little park, as well as see the church that was build in the mid-1500's by the Spanish conquistadores that overthrew the original Mayan inhabitants of the town.

A shot from the second floor of the Municipal building. Carnaval was the week before, so there were still some decorations up.

The oldest building in Valladolid, and one of the oldest on the Yucatan:

We then figured out the way the street numbers worked and made our way to Cenote Zaci', a cenote right in the middle of the town. I'd read that it wasn't much to see, but we thought it was quite fascinating and beautiful. The locals use it as their public swimming pool.

We walked a bit more, then headed out of town toward two more cenotes, Samula and X'Keken, just a couple of kilometers away. We donned our swim suits and went for a dip in each of them. It was just eerie enough for it to be kind of exciting - they are pretty dark down there, and you can't really see what might be in the water. Definitely lots of little fish - you could see them as you first got in, and I accidentally grabbed one as we were swimming. They are popular tourist places and were pretty busy, so we didn't stay a real long time. I bought a couple of photos from a cute little Mexican girl about Chloe's age, and then we got in the car for the drive home.

We took the libre (free) highway on the way back, which took us through some small villages on the way to Tulum and then back up the main highway into Playa del Carmen. Again, I found the villages - 'real' Mexico - to be absolutely fascinating. What a different life that what we live here. They must think we are so rich, and yet there is such a different kind of beauty in the simplicity of what they have and how they live. Two completely different worlds. It's not an easy life that most Mexicans live.

We stopped in Playa to drop off our rental car, again without any problems. They didn't speak a whole lot of English, but the rental car place worked out very well for us - none of the bad things that I'd read about in the horror stories. I'm so glad we decided to do it that way. A couple of people told us we were very adventurous for having done that. There wasn't a time we didn't feel safe - the Mexicans everywhere on the Yucatan are used to tourists. It's a different world, I think, that what is found in other parts of Mexico. The entire Yucatan depends on tourists for the majority of it's income, so they don't have much reason to hate us, and everyone we came across was quite friendly. There's something exhilarating, too, about being on your own in a strange place where people don't speak the same language you do. Having to just figure it out on your own without having a tour guide to depend on adds to the excitement, I think. In some ways, that day was my favorite.... ah, but each day was so different, I don't think I could say which one was the best.

Once we dropped off the car, we walked a ways and found the colectivo station, boarded one and got a ride back to the resort. It was packed, indeed, but I was smooshed against a window and next to an American from Portland, so the conversation was good and I wasn't uncomfortable. Andrew, on the other hand, was up front between the driver and some other local. I don't think he enjoyed the ride so much. ;o)

Dinner that night was room service, as we got back too late for the buffet. We were exhausted and went to bed fairly early - between a day full of sunshine and lots of walking and being sore from the hours of swimming the day before, we were looking forward to Thursday, a day spent relaxing at the resort and not putting forth any physical effort.


Day 5 (Thursday):

We slept in a little bit, lolled around and had breakfast a little later on Thurday, just because we could. (Not really that late though - the sun comes up so early in Mexico! It felt later than it was.) We walked down to the beach for a bit, then walked back to the pool and reserved some lounge chairs. We basked in the sunshine, swam a bit in a pool that was entirely too cold, and waited for the swim up bar to open. Nothing like starting to drink at eleven o'clock in the morning. LOL

We sat at the bar for awhile and enjoyed a conversation with some folks from somewhere cold - Michigan, maybe? It was nice, and it was relaxing. Then we had some lunch and walked down to the beach and took a nap in a hammock again. I think I need to own a hammock. I'm surprised the hammocks weren't more popular than they were. So comfy.

We did a bit of swimming in the ocean. There was, of course, a red flag up, which technically means "no swimming" but no one else was bothering to adhere to that, so we didn't either. We were making our way out, ducking under the big waves and letting the smaller ones push us around a little, when somehow my bikini bottom came undone. Not only untied, but unthreaded. there was no way to put it back on, especially not while waves were throwing me this way and that. Thankfully, at least, I was able to hold them on and not lose them altogether, but then I was stuck swimming with only one arm. At some point, a wave tossed me into a rock and I banged up my knee a little.

My minor injury:

It wasn't so bad, but salt water in an open wound doesn't feel all that great. We made our way back to our room, me holding my bathing suit together and a bit of blood running down my knee, so I could change. It was really quite funny - my knee didn't really hurt much till the next day, when I realized it was pretty well bruised. Ah well, it was worth it. :o)

Dinner that night was fun. We got all dressed up in pretty clothes...

... and ate at the gourmet restaurant. Again, this was adventurous for me, as they didn't give you a choice of what you ate, they just served you the five set courses of the meal. Lobster and cream of asparagus soup were included on the menu, things I would never normally try. Both were delicious. That meal may have been the best meal of the trip - I really enjoyed it.

Afterward we changed back into more comfortable clothes. We had every intention of going back into Playa to check out the bar scene, but we were so tired. We ended up just staying there at the resort, and in the end, I'm so glad we did.

We sat down in the theater, figuring we'd watch the evening show, when Luis (I'll tell you more about Luis later) came up to us and asked if Andrew would like to go on stage for the evening's show. Andrew agreed (maybe not whole-heartedly) and was whisked away to sit with some other guys that were eventually taken back stage.

The theme that night was "Noches Pirates" - pirate night.

Yep, there's my hubby. He was a pirate. But it gets better, oh, so much better. They were having a contest between the four men on stage - the Mr. Iberostar contest. My husband, along with the other contestants, had to do some "games". Mind you, most of the other people staying at the resort were in the audience - a couple hundred? maybe more. It was a busy place. And they were all watching. Andrew had to do a strip tease, do pushups and then pose to show of his muscles, chug a beer, eat a cookie, eat a spoonful of cocoa powder and then try to whistle (hilarious, because when they blow out after eating cocoa powder, they spit little poofs of powder), collect as many shoes from audience members as possible (I helped - we won by a landslide) and then.... then, they changed clothes and had to lip sync for the audience.

Don't you think my hubby makes a sexy Britney Spears? I do. :o)

He lip synced to "Hit Me Baby One More Time" while dancing around in a spandex jumpsuit and a blonde wig. It was AWESOME. The other guys did Beyonce, Rhianna, and Madonna. I thought I had the video going on my camera while he was up there, but apparently I didn't, and I'm sad, because it was awesome.

Anyway, at the very end, they had the audience cheer and clap to determine the winner of the contest. I'm proud to say, my husband was voted Mr. Iberostar. :o) He was sort of a celebrity after that. The next day people were coming up to him telling him he did a good job. One lady said she recognized him because of his tush. LOLOL Awesome. (It's all the more awesome if you know my husband. He's so not the type to make a spectacle of himself like that, but I think he had fun doing it.)

We did a bit of dancing after the show, then headed over to the disco, did some more dancing, did the limbo, and had some shots. Good times.


Day 6 (Friday):

I was ready to come home, but not. I missed my girls terribly by Friday and couldn't wait to see them. We walked back to the beach for a bit, sat by the pool for awhile, and packed our things. We walked to the shopping center and did some last-minute shopping and had antojitos and ice cream for lunch. We had a couple of last drinks, and then boarded the van to go back to the airport.

The flight home was uneventful save for the fact that we were seated in the back of the plane in front of rambunctious little girls. I didn't have much patience at that point, and I found them irritating. Ah well. We got into Denver a little after 8 pm, got through customs and found our luggage, and began the five hour drive home over a snowy Vail Pass. I slept pretty much the whole way. I've never been so tired! Poor Andrew had to stay awake to drive, but did eventually pull over and nap for a little bit. We made it home around 2:30 in the morning.

Gosh, what a lot of typing. I'm glad I've written it all out though, so I can scrapbook it and remember the details later.

Absolutely an awesome vacation. It makes me all the more excited to travel to other countries some more. :o)

The girls were glad to see us. Cora is all better, but Chloe was in bed most of yesterday with a fever and cough. She seemed better by the afternoon though, so hopefully she's about over it. I'm glad we went, because a week away from my kids makes me love them and appreciate them so much more. I was pretty burnt out, and getting away helped with that. Now every little thing they do is cute again, and I don't feel as irritable as I was getting there for awhile.

Now to try to get back into the normal swing of things....

Playa Del Carmen, Mexico

It's hard to even know where to start! Truly an amazing, once in a lifetime experience. We experienced so much, took WAY too many pictures, are exhausted but rejuvenated, and had an absolutely fabulous time.

I'm going to post some pictures here, but I'll include a link to all of them for anyone who wants to see them. Out of all the pictures we took, I am printing 100 of them - and those are just the good ones I couldn't live without.

Day 1 (Sunday):
We left at midnight Saturday night in order to make it to Denver (a four and a half hour drive) in time for our flight. Then we got on a plane for four hours, made it through customs in Cancun, found our luggage and boarded a bus to the Iberostar Paraiso Del Mar in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. By the time we got checked in, got a drink at the bar, and found our room, we were exhausted. But dinner wasn't until 9:00 that night so we just wandered and checked out the resort, made out on a lounge chair on the beach in the dark, and had a snack at the buffet. And had some more drinks. And maybe a shot or two...

Between the exhaustion, the shots, and the never ending supply of drinks we didn't have to pay for, I vaguely remember a really great flaming Mexican dish for dinner, lots and lots of walking, getting a little lost a few times, and more walking. We slept really well that night.

Here's a photo of the lobby:

and the flamingos in the lobby (flamingos are my favorite birds. How cool to get to see them so close!)

And here's the view from the room we were in the first night:

Day 2 (Monday):
We slept with the balcony door open and woke up in the morning to a pretty good rain storm. Between the birds chirping throughout the trees and the rain falling.... Oh, it was just beautiful. If I could wake up to something like that every morning, I'd be happy. The rain quit before we had to walk to the breakfast buffet, thankfully, so we stayed dry. Monday was a mix of wandering around, hanging out at the beach, taking a nap in a hammock (my very favorite place in all the resort), and wandering through the shopping center. It was a nice, relaxed pace and we saw some neat things. Dinner that night was at 9:00 again, this time Brazilian. I've never eaten so much meat in one meal in all my life. It was delicious.

My beloved hammock:

Day 3 (Tuesday):
We signed up for an excursion called the Nohoch Jungle Tour. We were up at 6, had a quick breakfast and were in a van by 7:35. It was in this van that we got our first taste of driving in Mexico. I'm glad I didn't eat too much - I'm not sure it would have stayed down. Okay, it might not have been *that bad.... but it was a little scary. We drove for an hour and a half and got to a little protected cove on the beach near Tulum.

There we kayaked out to a reef and spent an hour or so snorkeling around the reef. It was my first experience with snorkeling. It went really well - it was beautiful and fascinating. And hard work - my muscles aren't used to things like that, and there's nowhere to take a break, the water is too deep to stand. We had life vests and flippers, but it was still tiring. I had a great time, but was glad when it was time to get back on the kayak.

And then I realized how cold it was.

Soaking wet with the wind blowing wearing very, very little clothing. The sun didn't shine at all that day really, it was cloudy and cool. Any sane person would have been wearing at least a light sweater, not a skimpy bathing suit and playing in water. By the time we got to shore and got off the kayak, I was shivering and my teeth were chattering. And then just for good measure, it started to rain.

It really was fun. Just.... really cold, too. The only other time I have been so cold was when we kayaked down the Colorado River a few years ago in the spring. Same kind of can't-get-warm-no-matter-what-you-do kind of cold.

Sitting on the beach for awhile though, with towels and a sweater, I finally warmed up. Then they put us all on a four-wheel drive Mercedes thing and drove us out into the jungle to Cenote Nohoch.

A cenote (say-note-ay) is a limestone sinkhole created millions of years ago when the Yucatan peninsula raised up out of the ocean. They are basically caves filled with fresh water, all fed from the same underground river system running all throughout the Yucatan (the second largest underground river system in the world, apparently.) And Nohoch means "big" in Mayan. So yeah - Big Sinkhole. Cenote Nohoch sounds so much cooler, doesn't it?

At some point it occurred to me that the water in an underground cave that is fed from a running river can't possibly be warm. And I was already freezing.

Yes that's me there on the end. I look miserable, don't I? :o) I was not looking forward to it at that point. I wanted to go, but I didn't want to be cold. In an attempt to convince me to jump in, the guide put a wet suit on me. So, so much better. The only way in, they assured us, was to jump.

I have a very sincere fear of the unknown. So jumping into a pool of water where I couldn't see the bottom, in a fairly dark cave... yeah. Not so good for people with a fear of the unknown. That made it all the better though - it was awesome. Definitely a rush. After some photos near the stalagmites...

...we began making our way through the cave. I'm not sure how far back it went in - far enough that we couldn't see any light, and it felt like we just kept going and going, snorkeling along and looking at some awesome limestone formations.

The guide in front had a head lamp, and the guide in back had one. We were at their mercy, for sure. At one point we all gathered together with our heads above water in a little cove and they turned off the lights. Absolute, pure blackness, darker than any dark I've ever experienced. It was awesome. To be that deep in the ground, with only water and rock around you... indescribable, really. We snorkeled around in there for probably another hour or so, just winding along through the cave system. It was hard to decide whether to look up, or look under the water, there was just so much to see.

After we got out we went to another, smaller cenote to do some swimming. A wooden ladder leads into a hole in the ground - it's kind of a tight squeeze.

Then it suddenly opens up into a big rock room with a small dock and lots of water. Again, we jumped.

A sort of rock-island was in the middle of the cenote. They led us around it.

At some point the guide says "it's best to go around the roots". Roots? Ah yes, I understand now! Those things that feel like SNAKES WINDING AROUND MY LEGS are only tree roots. Awesome. And let us not forget that while these snakes are trying to eat me, it's pitch black and I can hardly see the french woman not five feet in front of me, and my husband was somewhere way up ahead, nowhere near enough to protect me. And just for good measure, there was a family of bats flying around up near the ceiling of the cave.

It was awesome. That day was definitely one of the most adventurous days of my life, the most fun I've had in a long, long time. I'm not going to forget any of it any time soon. After all the swimming and snorkeling they fed us a traditional Mayan lunch, which was either the best food I'd had in days, or I was just really, really hungry.

We got back to our resort around 5:30 - it was a ten hour day of adventure. And then we had about an hour to walk to our room, shower and change into decent clothes, and walk back to the buffet. And then we ate quickly so that we could catch a ride back into Play del Carmen and pick up a rental car by 9:00 that night (and adventure in itself, really.)

But I've been sitting here way too long, so I'll write about the next day's adventure later. :o)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Not much to say...

I'm not sure what to blog about, but it's been a few days, so I'd better.

Cora's sick. Again. I swear, this kid has the constitution of an ant. For whatever reason, she just picks up EVERYTHING. Ashley had me watch her kids last week and they were sick (she didnt' bother warning me ahead of time) so Cora got what they have. She's had a fever off and on for three days, lots of goopy green stuff draining from her nose, and a congested cough. She slept pretty much all day yesterday and the day before. She needs to get better. I don't want to leave for our vacation and have her be sick. I also don't want to catch what she has right before we leave.

I'm feeling mighty guilty for leaving my kids behind for a vacation. I was fine with it up until this week, but now it makes me a little sad. Until I think of how peaceful it must be to walk on a beach without two little girls, and then I get a little bit less sad. :o) I need this - I so desperately need a break. I know it'll make me a better mommy when I get back. But I feel bad leaving them for so long!

Amber - one of your mittens is done. The other one probably isn't going to get finished before we leave, I'm sorry. I've been so busy trying to get everything ready that I haven't had much knitting time.

I went to the library yesterday and picked up a couple of books to read - Ernest Hemingway's Across the River and Into the Trees and Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility, which I never finished the last time I started it. Not sure if we'll have any down time while we're gone that I might get to read, but I thought I'd be prepared.

Busy day today - gotta clean the house, finish packing, get my carry-on ready, clean out the van and wash it for Noelle, visit the chiropractor, fold all the laundry, organize Chloe's room, take care of a sick baby and squeeze in one last bit of school. We leave early Sunday morning - about 1 am, so Saturday is going to be a day of rest.

'Tis all for now. I don't want it to appear that I'm obsessing over our trip (I am) so I'll stop typing about it.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Not Me Monday

It was NOT ME that threatened to write a letter to the tooth fairy telling her not to bother coming to our house any more because Chloe would obviously never be pulling her loose tooth. That would be mean.

It was NOT ME that put my six year old in charge of entertaining my one year old by feeding her conversation hearts while I locked myself in the bathroom in the middle of the day to take a steamy hot bubble bath. After all, what kind of irresponsible mother would do such a thing?

It was NOT ME that breathed a sigh of relief when Ashley said she couldn't go to the gym today, and enjoyed a workout in peace and quiet and solitude.

It was NOT ME that got seriously irritated with a kid that refused to wear what I picked out for her. How petty would that be?

It was NOT ME that went to Wal Mart at 6 am on Valentine's Day to buy candy for my children. Only a very unprepared mother would do something like that.


Last night around 9 pm, right before I went in bed, I heard tremendously loud bass coming from a car outside. I stood up and looked out the dinner. I watched as two people got out of the car that they had parked on the street in front of my house, empty a bunch of trash into the street, and drive off. Seriously, who does that? Nothing irritates me more than having to clean up someone else's trash. I fascinated by how rude people are.


Another way to sneak in reading for Chloe (not that it needs any sneaking at this point): Webkinz Chat. They have to pick phrases from a list, so there's no creepy porno stuff going on. She has to read all the phrases to decide what she wants to say. Love how well this kid is reading.


Cora is officially throwing temper tantrums. OMGoodness, Chloe's not even out of the tantrum stage, and there's another one coming into it? I just don't know if I can handle this! Things like not being allowed to play outside while it's spitting snow and 25 degrees out, or not being allowed to eat any more Valentine's candy, or not being allowed to beat the cat upside the head with a wooden recorder.... such silly little things that set her off! And she screams and throws herself down or faces a wall and cries like there's no tomorrow. At this age, it's almost cute (but I won't tell her that.) I see the warning lights flashing: "Terrible Twos Ahead!" Aye aye aye.


I'm a planner. I am always prepared. Nothing sneaks up on me that I'm not ready for.

OMGoodness, we're leaving for Mexico in ONE WEEK. How on earth did it get here so fast?! I'm not ready! I don't have my lists for Noelle finished. I don't have my entire wardrobe planned out. I need to clean the house, shop for groceries, book some tours, print some documents, pack our clothes and everything else.... how did this happen? Oy. Panic.

We're flying on AeroMexico airline. They fly all over the world - Europe, Canada, South America, you name it. And ya know what? The economy class flight to Mexico is the ONLY flight in all of the WORLD that is only allowed ONE piece of luggage. Ugh! How on earth am I supposed to pack only one flippin' suitcase for six days in Mexico? And it can only weigh 50 pounds. I'm taking nine pairs of shoes - those alone probably weigh half that.

I raided Ashley's closet this morning. I'm thankful to have a friend with good fashion sense, since I have none. She'll be coming over this week to play audience at my "fashion show" and give me advice.

Now seriously - who really cares what I wear? When did I become so early? Not long ago, I owned only three pairs of shoes. Now I can't leave home without at least nine pairs, and that's pushing it. Dresses, skinny jeans, boots, necklaces, scarves, hats, swim suits..... it's crazy. I'm so not like this. Or at least, i didn't used to be. But I have to admit, there's something fun about girly stuff every so often. :o)

And seriously, there's no way my husband will come up with 50 pounds worth of clothing to pack. I'm sure i can put some stuff in his suitcase.

Then there's the matter of what we end up buying while we're there....


to my Life Makeover buddies - come gimme some input and some comments on the Life Makeover Blog.

Friday, February 13, 2009

More school stuff..

Ah HA! I figured out how to sneak math into her. :o)

Puppy-Opoly. My mom got it for her for her birthday. It's awesome. She adds money (and is memorizing addition tables), is learning to double numbers by memory, can look at dice and automatically know how many it is showing. So flippin' cool. It's actually a rather active board game, requiring players to run around on all fours, have their bellies scratched, etc. which she LOVES, and she doesn't even complain when I won't answer her math questions. I think we might play Puppy-Opoly every day.


I looked at the forecast on today - they have a 10 day forecast. That's when I realized i can officially check the weather forecast for Vail Pass for our drive to Denver when we're leaving for Mexico.... which means only 10 DAYS until vacation! W00T! It came so fast! I got pretty silver shoes to match my rockin' cute dresses today, and I think everything else is in place. Just needs to make up some last minute notes for Noelle (Andrew's sister, our baby sitter), borrow bigger luggage (LOL) and start packing. Oooooh I'm excited.


I'm gonna start posting our "weekly assignment" from Life Makeovers by Cheryl Richardson tomorrow. There's one assignment per week. If anyone else wants to join in, c'mon over.


Cora's now able to point to and say "nose, eye, ear, mouth, and belly button". Not that anyone else would know what "Beh Buh" means, but hey, it's something. If she ever says "eye" and comes at you with a finger pointing toward your face, be prepared to close your eyes and cringe - it's painful. ;o) Love that little girl.


I got something like 25 books from the library Wednesday. Chloe had finished them all by that evening. Some were level 2 and level 3 readers, others were regular ol' story books with words I'm surprised she figured out. Next week I'm going to have her try being an author - sneaking in some writing and spelling along with all that reading. Fun stuff. She's incredible.

So I'm a 26 year old mother of two. I pride myself in being a cool, hip young mom. The other day Chloe was sitting on my lap looking at some pictures online when she asked "Mom? When you were little, was everything dark?" I said, "What? What do you mean?" And she said, "You know, like was everything black and white?"

Cool, hip mom persona was completely shot down in a split second with that one. :::sigh:::

Makin' it Over

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Anyone up for a challenge?

Okay. So I got this book at the library called "Life Makeovers" by Cheryl something-or-other. (I'll get her name later.) It's a good book, one of those kind of motivational, self-help sort of books about gaining control and finding a deeper meaning in your life. Through the course of a year - one exercise or concept each week - she vows to help you make over your life.

One of the big things she talks about is having a partner or group who is doing it along with you. I've been trying to contemplate how to gather a group of my friends (who have very few similar interests) on a regular basis to accomplish this, and I'm realizing it's just not gonna happen. Then I realized - I have a wonderful group of friends here on the internet in my little blog circle!

So, is anyone up for the challenge? One blog per week to help you achieve more satisfaction, peace, and meaning in your life? I thought it would be neat to create a blog specifically for it, invitation only, where everyone can post to it - sort of like a message board. If it's something you want to do, let me know, and feel free to invite anyone you want. If I get enough responses, I'll go ahead and set it up and we'll get started. I'll give you info on the book if you want to buy it, and I'll post little bits about the exercises so everyone can be involved, even if they don't have the book.

I could really use some extra motivation and happiness and satisfaction in my life. I've read through the first 10 weeks or so and think it sounds pretty cool - if nothing else, it's a way to learn more about myself, I guess.

so anyway, yeah, let me know. Hopefully it will only require a small bit of blog-reading each week (not TOO huge a commitment), and will help form some great relationships with other women out there (I'm convinced fellowship is a WONDERFUL thing, especially for women, who really need that connection.)

Wishing everyone a great night...

Monday, February 9, 2009

Restaurant for Homeschool

Somewhere during the course of the morning, I came up with a splendid little idea for school today. We're playing "restaurant".

It's something I did as a little girl, and I LOVED it. I'd get really into it, even stealing my mom's tea towel to throw over my arm when I was the "waiter". I never would have considered it educational when I was little, but the more I think about it now, the more I realize how much it is.

We've got a Play-Do Spaghetti Factory that was the basis of the menu. I wrote down the words: "spaghetti with meatballs" , "Linguini with vegetables", etc. on a piece of scrap paper and she copied them onto the real menu. She also used markers to decorate the menu. That would be handwriting practice, reading, and art.

We made up a price for each menu item - everything was under 20 cents, with cookies being on sale this week for 5 cents each. The "waitress" was in charge of making out the check, adding up the total for whatever the customer ordered. The customer was expected to count out exact change to cover the bill. There's math for the day - addition and practice with money.

We did a great job of staying in character. The "waitress" sat the customer, set the table, gave her the menu, took the order, turned into the cook long enough to make the Play-Do creation, and then served the customer, coming back to see if everything was alright, etc. The customer was careful to always say 'please' and 'thank you' and would call the waitress if needed. I consider that a great social studies lesson for this age.

We had a little talk about where all these yummy pasta dishes originated - Italy, and looked on a map to see it. I'm gonna call that history and culture.

There was even a little bit of science - the way the Play-do squisher uses gears to squeeze out the spaghetti, and also the identification of a couple dozen food items - nutrition studies and maybe a bit of home ec.

Total, it probably took an hour for each of us to play each part, with some 'just for fun' stuff thrown in. We hit every subject, did some relevant hands-on work, and had a great time.

Granted I could have gone to McDonald's in less time, and actually have food I could eat. But I never would have seen a plate of spaghetti with blue meatballs, and it wouldn't have been nearly so much fun. :o)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

A Day Getting Away

We took off yesterday for Glenwood Springs. It's a cute little ski town about an hour and a half from here. I lived there for a year when I was in middle school. We had no good reason for being there except that I was kind of desperate to get out of the house. We wandered around their downtown area and then went swimming in the hot springs pool. Not terribly relaxing since we had two little girls to keep track of, but it was definitely nice.

The locker room fascinates me. People are so.... naked. Chloe was flat out gawking. I tried to remind her that it's not nice to stare at people. But seriously, how could she not? When I'm changing, I make it quick and take off one piece of clothing at a time. There were women there that were just traipsing around the locker room naked, chit chatting and visiting, all the while standing there in nothing at all. The showers have privacy curtains, but no one bothers to use them. One lady was standing there in front of the mirror in her birthday suit blow drying her hair. Awesome.

But aside from the multitude of naked women, the hot springs pool was tremendous fun. Even Cora (Miss "I'm afraid of everything") enjoyed herself once she got used to it.


Speaking of Cora, she's being treated with a hefty antibiotic for MRSA. (MRSA is an antibiotic-resistant staph infection - the "superbug" that's been in the news lately.) They don't know if it's MRSA or not, they'd have to drain one of the little sores on her face and culture the fluid which would be painful (and "torturous" the doctor said) so he just went for the routine MRSA treatment and we'll hope it clears up. Poor baby looks awful - it started in the corner of her mouth but has now spread to about the size of a nickel, red and pus-filled and crusty and... yeah. She looks like a leper. I can't help but worry about her, though I try not to.


Not much else to report around here - I've just been enjoying my husband being home. It looks like he may leave Monday to go out of town again for a week and a half, but I'm not even sweating it. I'm just enjoying having him here now.

His brother and sis-in-law are coming to town this afternoon, bringing his sister's fiance with them. It'll be the first time all of us will be together. I was really looking forward to it but now I may have to stay home with Cora. We'll see. I want to see them all. They'll be here for most of the weekend, so hopefully I'll have a chance to see them at some point.


Okay, I'm closing out for now. Gotta get this house whipped into shape so we can sit around and be lazy all afternoon. :o)

Monday, February 2, 2009

Not Me Monday

I'm jumping on the "Not Me Monday" bandwagon.

*It was NOT ME that encouraged a toddler to play with markers unsupervised so that I could have 20 minutes of time to myself.

*It was NOT ME that carried said toddler through Wal Mart like a football while she screamed her little head off while people stared and made assumptions about my less-than-saavy parenting.

*It was NOT ME who decided Bribery With M&M's is a perfectly acceptable parenting technique and have begun to use it frequently.

*It was absolutely NOT ME who made my husband feel guilty for working away from home for so long, since it's not at all his fault and after all, at least he even has a job.

*It was NOT ME that drank half a bottle of wine after a visit with my in-laws last week, and the other half the next night with no good excuse at all.

*It was NOT ME that uttered several curse words upon seeing a yellow jacket outside yesterday. For heaven's sake, it's 45 degrees out! You'd think they thought it was summer.

*And it was definitely NOT ME who walked to the grocery store yesterday in a tank top because after all, it was 45 degrees, which means it's practically summer. ;o)

Sunday, February 1, 2009

It's Picture Time!

What do you wake up to in the morning? :o)

I actually finished something: another pair of Bella mittens for my sister-in-law. Crappy pictures, it was late when they were finally done. Creamy-natural color, decent quality washable wool with tweed flecks.

My baby girl and I. Ah, how I love her, even though she's been awful lately. She's been on a looooong good streak, so I knew it was coming. Whatever, she's still the best little girl I've ever known. And I'm not biased.

And I think this is the first pic I've posted of my pearls - Andrew gave them to my for Christmas. I wear them at least twice a week just because I can. I don't care if they're supposed to be saved for dressy occasions. I'm a firm believer in denim and pearls, and they make me feel like a 1950's housewife.

Cora is the worst eater I've ever seen. She loves a food one day, refuses it the next. She wouldn't even touch her lunch. And then she found a Barbie fork. That's what she's holding there - a Barbie fork with a teeny piece of linguini on it. She ate the whole stinking bowl. With a Barbie fork.

"Daddy put LOCKS on the bathroom CABINET and I can't EMPTY it anymore!!!!!!"

(This happened weeks ago. She just figured it out.)
What do you use a Barbie car for?

Seriously, the kid's a ham. She sees the camera and says "Teese!"

Andrew called tonight. They're leaving at 5 am and coming HOME. It's a 14 hour drive. I'm not holding my breath. With my luck they'll hit an ice storm in Montana and be stuck for a week. But it would be really great to see him again.

Cora's got impetigo again. I started right away with tea tree oil compresses and some leftover antibacterial ointment from the last time. I wasn't panicking until Ashley mentioned something about "that staph infection that can't be cured with antibiotics." Right - MRSA. So now I'm convinced my baby is dying. Well, not really, but I'm more concerned. I'm off to the health food store first thing tomorrow to invest in some gentian violet and hope we can cure it more naturally this time. Someone in this house is a staph carrier, I'm sure of it.

Chloe's had two melt downs in two days. It's not like her - the melt down phase ended two years ago, I thought. They've been so rare. I'm blaming it on the time she's been spending with Tori, Ashley's five year old daughter. Tori just brings out the worst in Chloe. So Chloe's grounded from seeing Tori for a week (or more) and got two X's on her "attitude chart", which really had an impact on her. I'm proud of myself for not spanking her. It was really, really close, but we made it through. I struggled earlier though with what the best way to handle the situation would be. She was flat out refusing to pick up toys, which isn't her style. I made her sit on the couch until she decided she'd do it. She went to sleep for two hours. When she woke up I gave her two options "I can spank you, and then you can clean up the toys, or you can just go clean up the toys. Which would you prefer?" Thankfully she had the good sense to just go clean up the darn toys. Ugh. That's the kind of time I wish my husband was around to offer advice and suggestions (and maybe just take over. LOL)


The other day I forced my children to deal with the "grown up" section of the library long enough for me to make a few selections. Two of the books I picked out have proven to be wonderful.

"Drunk, Divorced, and Covered in Cat Hair" by Laurie Perry (aka Crazy Aunt Purl) is the first. I've not laughed so hard in ages, and boy did I need it. It's technically a knitting book, but you don' have to know the first thing about knitting to enjoy the book. Absolutely, hands down, one of the best books I've read in awhile.

The other is "I Am Potential" by Patrick Henry Hughes. You may have seen him - the blind kid, in a wheelchair, that plays piano like nobody's business. I saw him on some TV special or another. Anyway, he wrote a book. Let me tell ya, it's worth reading. I'm the kind of person who will sit around every so often with a pint of Ben & Jerry's ice cream and a bottle of wine and spend a night crying out of self pity and "why me" kind of thinking. And no matter what your own personal battles, this book will give you a new perspective on them. I don't care if you're dying of some fatal, incurable illness you never in a million years thought you could have, this book will make you look at everything you have and just be thankful for it.

So yeah, if you read, check 'em out. Both are great.


Alright, it's off to bed for me. I'm gonna have to go grocery shopping in the morning if I'm to feed this Phantom Husband of mine that's supposed to be returning.