Monday, July 26, 2010

The Mexico You Thought You Knew

It's funny, ever since we got back from vacation I keep seeing this Mexico tourism commercial with the slogan, "The Mexico You Thought You Knew" and I can't help but think that is exactly how we felt about our trip. We were really hesitant to head down to Mexico-last year's swine flu outbreak, daily news about the violence, possible bad weather, etc... In fact, this was the only vacation we've ever purchased travel insurance for. Well I'm happy to report, Mexico (at least the part we traveled to) was not at all what I expected. First and foremost, the people of Mexico were among the nicest and friendly of anyplace we ever visited. Every place we went had filtered water, nobody ever got sick and we were very comfortable eating and drinking while we were there. And while we've visited Mazatlan and Puerta Vallarta in the past, the Riviera Maya area is gorgeous, much more modern, and the poverty is far less evident.

For the last few years before going on any vacation, we have used Trip Advisor. It has really helped up select hotel, decide about excursions, and provide helpful hints that can't be found anywhere else. After this trip, we decided to add our own reviews so if you want more detailed information about places we visited, they can be found here, here, and here (this link will be edited, it takes 48 hours for the review to post).***Trip Advisor name-homeleone

Here's a day that Garrett and I spent together at what I think is a big kids amusement park. It's called Xplor and I would venture to guess there will never be one like it in the US due to liability issues. It's recommended for ages 6 and up so Chris volunteered to stay back with Jack and Morgan was scared of the cenotes (she hates water things where she can't touch the ground-she can swim, but just a phobia). So Garrett and I got to share this wonderful day. There are 14 ziplines (though we ended the day having gone on 23 ziplines!!), some of them through waterfalls, one over a crocidile and puma pit, all of them over the jungle. Absolutely thrilling and beautiful at the same time. There is also a 3 mile ATV (4 wheels, so not sure what's it's called) course -very fun-, and cenotes, there were 2 circuits to kayak through and one very long stalagtite "river" to swim through.
It was a very physical day, both Garrett and I felt a few pulled muscles the next day and I can't tell you how many stairs I climbed, but talk about exhilarating and unique.

My little beach bum. I swear this kid could lay in sand all day.

An excursion to Tulum. Do we look wilted? Honestly the beach was just beyond the ruins, but there was not a breeze to be felt. Needless to say, we took the quick tour.

One of the nightly shows that kids club put on. I was really impressed and I think Morgan may have gotten an acting bug.

The courtyard of the hotel.

This is the way we walked to get anywhere on the hotel property. I should preface this by saying that first we applied bug spray and then we walked and walked and walked.

Well imagine the picture overload if my camera hadn't have broken~hee hee!

I think the reviews are mixed as to whether or not we'll return. The biggest negative about the trip was the time-we really lost 2 days due to travel. On the day we left, we left our home at 9:00 p.m. and arrived at the hotel at 3:00 p.m. There's a 2 hour time difference, but still that's a really long day. And one more picture of what the best thing we brought to make the travel more bearable for Jack (who slept the entire time on every flight!!).

I bought this at Toys R Us-on sale for $29.99. It holds up to 16 trains and folds out as a portable wooded train track. It kept him thoroughly entertained the entire trip and we figured it would be really helpful during soccer season.

Thanks for reading if you got this far!

Friday, July 23, 2010


On the day before we left, we purchased some photos and when I showed Chris what I was getting he said, "you're not going to get the stupid picture?" So I added it to the purchase. The funny thing is he has never heard of that website, he's probably overheard me laughing, but he has no idea it exists. Garrett is missing because he "claimed" he was going to get sick once she had us posed and when you're in Mexico and at the bottom of this pyramid, you tend to take those threats seriously .

And if you have an extra half hour to spare, take a look at Awkward Family Photos. Scroll to the bottom and you'll see some of the more popular pictures. And should this picture ever show up there, I'm hunting you down!!!

ETA: Oh dear lord-did you see the cover of the book? Hanging head in shame!

Monday, July 19, 2010

July 12th

Felt very lucky that the 12th occurred on our trip~my family is much more agreeable to pictures while on vacation than at home~ha! But this was also the day that my camera broke. Fortunately it was toward the end of the day, but my picture taking came to an abrupt halt.

The pictures aren't numbered, but here's a description of each of the columns going from top to bottom and then left to right:

  • An early start at the beach. That little wave right there was about as big as they got.
  • Morgan with her hair braided.
  • Jack's absolute favorite things to do. One of the things I liked most about the beaches here is the sand never got hot.
  • Morgan having her hair braided. When we were approached she said it would be $25, but I talked her down to $18.
  • The spa on the property. I treated myself to a Swedish massage and it was a great way to spend the afternoon.
  • Ice cream for breakfast, or lunch, or dinner? Not sure, we had a lot of ice cream!!
  • Jack's breakfast-Nutella sandwich and sausage and it NEVER varied from that.
  • Not the best picture, but once I describe it, you'll be glad. This bird was munching on a gecko. Poor little gecko, didn't look like a great way to go.
  • The sports court, Garrett was there most days practicing soccer and played in a few pick up games with people from Italy and England.
  • Morgan and one of her MANY new friends. She loved the kids club and when she wasn't there, she easily found a friend to play with.
  • Shopping in Carmen del Playa. We bought very few souvenires, but I did get this silver necklace. Chris did the negotiations on this one so not sure if it was a good deal or not.
  • And one more of us on the beach. I could lay there all day with the great breeze, it was so relaxing.
I have a few more pictures I want to share. Garrett and I had the most amazing excursion we went on and I've got some great pictures from that day as well.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Awkward Family Photo

I should preface this by saying yesterday on the twelth my brand new camera died :-( I'm bummed. Really. So the rest of our vacation will be recorded via the crappy iPhone or the disposable camera I picked up. At least it's something. Then today at the beach I realized I had another alternative-the resort photographers. They roam around with some super nice Nikons. Usually they have an animal they try to get you to pose with-an iguana, a parrott, or a monkey, but today they were at the beach. We have not taken a family picture while we were here, so I flagged them down thinking this was my chance. It started out pretty good. Mostly my thoughts were who could I hide behind so that only my face was showing.
But then she asked Chris to lay on his stomach in the sand and the photographer in me thought "hmmm, strange". Then she asked me to lay on top of him, followed by Garrett, Morgan, and Jack. Chris was dying from the weight atop him, I got a massive case of the giggles when I realized how absurd we must look, Garrett was mortified, Morgan was posing and Jack was struggling to stay on top of the family pyramid.
The only thing more absurd than the photo I pictured in my head was seeing the picture on a huge computer screen. It is awkward defined! It is what that website is all about.
No, we did not buy it. And my only hope is the delete key will be pressed and the picture will be banished forever.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Top 10 List

1. Didn't know it was possible to sweat so much.
2. Travel size deodarent=not nearly enough
3. Now know what a tropical storm is. Dang-that's a lot of water!
4. Positive the mosquitoes here have built up a resistance to bug spray.
5. Europeans. I don't really have anything against them, but if they could leave their speedos and cigarettes behind they wouldn't make my list.
6. My hair. I didn't know my stick straight hair could form ringlets.
7. Must always look down while walking-if you step on an iguana your size does not guarentee a victory.
8. hmmm, can't think of anything else. Actually having a great time and lots of fun activities to share at a later time.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

5 Star Dining

I'm not sure what your definition of a 5 star restaurant, but I'll tell ya, it doesn't get any better than this-dining al fresco along a picture postcard beach, fresh fish tacos, the best margaritas-what more could you ask for?

(crappy iPhone picture really does not show the true beauty of this location nor-thankfully-the sweaty dirty mess of a family we were :-0)

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Some Follow Ups

I had posted a picture of our calendar for June. It seemed pretty jam packed at the time. Here's what it ended up looking like:

I love having my calendar online, it's visually easier for me to read it and really convenient to move things around or just delete. Many of these "events" are linked to emails which provide more complete details.

You might also recall in April I wrote about potty training. Well the follow up to this is 1)I have not bought anymore diapers 2) I have not come close to depleting our supply 3)I put a Pull-Up on Jack because it was handy and he threw the mother of all fits. We are not in a hurry apparently.

Our contract: We're getting into our summer routine and everything on that list seems to be getting easier. I think Garrett has realized that down time isn't necessarily a bad thing (though he hasn't had much of it). The raffle that I mentioned is turning out to be a landslide for Morgan. In general, I would say she is more helpful, but in Garrett's defense he's been really busy and just hasn't been around as much to help. But I stocked up on $5 gift cards. I bought some for Coldstone, a few for a local candy shop and a couple for Barnes and Noble.

Have I mentioned I hate moles? Here's my once flourishing zucchini plant-the roots were all chewed off. I know I need to get rid of the grubs, but not sure if there is a pestacide-free way of doing this. My gardening friend Cara suggested we put chicken wire down. That might be the next step.

And here's one layout I was able to squeeze in and used some pictures I shared during our lost blanket days. I don't usually work with pictures this size, but I took advantage of a free offer from Wink and decided to create a layout based around it.

A Happy 4th

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