Saturday, May 25, 2013


Friday Kent treated me to a fantastic birthday. 
He took the day off work (hooray for the perks of his new job!) and made me sweet cream waffles for breakfast,
then we took the family to the zoo.  

It was crowded, but we made the best of it and had a fantastic time.
Ellie loves animals.  She sat in the very front of the stroller, one chubby arm out, finger pointing as we walked--
"Keep moving that way people.  More animals to see!"
She made certain to point out which animals were the babies ("deedsee") and which ones were the mamas.  

The entire drive to the zoo Nicholas was making up songs and making sure we knew that he needed to get a map when we arrived.
I don't know how he even knew a zoo would have a map. But he knew.
And he needed one.
He directed us back and forth across the zoo--checking off the animals as we saw each one. And of course we couldn't see them in a logical order-the giraffes at the back first, then the elephants at the front, then the wolves in the back and the polar bear in the middle. Much more fun that way.

The reptile cage building was a no-go for my boy though.  His nose has suddenly become a super-sniffer, and that building was way too stinky for him.
"My map says that the monkeys need to take a bath, Mom."

Hey cutie.

We paid $4 for us all to ride the carousel.  We knew how much Nicholas loved the one at Disneyland.
That was definitely worth $4, people.  Nicholas was laughing and cheering, and even Ellie decided it wasn't so scary after all.

We braved a couple of impressive meltdowns from the little people ("my sunglasses are falling off my face.  I must now screech as if I've lost a limb."), concluded that they must be hungry, ate lunch at a table overlooking the elephants ("deedsee!" and "mama!"), watched a tiger splash around in his pool, saw the giraffes and monkeys and all the other creatures--following the guide of Nicholas's little finger on the map and Ellie's enthusiastic "YEAH!" to every suggestion,
then got ice cream and headed home.

After the zoo we came back to eat the guava cake that Kent had made for me.  (Um delicious. Try this cake-you will be so glad you did.) 
The singing of the happy birthday song made Ellie burst into tears every time, but the kids did enjoy helping me blow out the candles.  And eating the cake.  And opening my presents--
new placemats, a darling new outfit, lotions and soaps, and a sandbox.  

Yes, a sandbox.  I'm a mother.  A sandbox will be just as much of a gift for me as for my children.  
Do you know how many hours kids can spend each day playing in a sandbox?  
We can't wait to get it all set up.

Then my brother came over to watch the kids while Kent took me out
on a fantastic date-
we ate dinner, browsed some cute shops by the restaurant, 
then headed over to the outlet mall to window shop.
There were hardly any people at the mall, the sun was setting and the sky was pink, 
we just walked hand in hand-me and my very best friend. As we left we admired the giant yellow moon rising over the mountains and breathed in the fresh cool summer-night breeze.  

We came home to eat more guava cake, cupcakes of various origin, and the free marshmallow pie slice I got at the restaurant for my birthday
and stayed up late talking and laughing with Josh and his girlfriend Alicia.
Then we snuggled into bed, stuffed full of cake, a little bit sunburned, and perfectly happy.

I feel like a little kid saying this,
but I think it was one of my best birthdays ever.

Monday, May 20, 2013

getting there, little adventures, and friends.

Time for my final vacation recap.

Getting there:
Our flight to Mexico left Texas at 5:45 am.  Add in the two-hours early for international flights and the half-hour drive to the airport, a little bit of time to crawl out of bed and get dressed, and we were waking up at 3 am that morning.

But it isn't hard to wake up that early when you know you are headed for a vacation on the beach!
The Foulks (4 hours of sleep total-combined between the two of them) and us (six and a half hours of sleep between the two of us) on the plane and ready to go! 
The flight was only a few hours long,
but it felt so weird--no one to entertain, no fingers to clean or sippy cups or toys or snacks.  Okay, so maybe we did have a few snacks.  But we weren't dropping them on the floor or throwing them over the seats so it still felt strange.

Look, I got to read a book! And have an empty lap on the plane! 
Flying was actually kind of fun!

When we got to our condo, we got settled in and then walked up to walmart to buy some groceries.
Walmart in Mexico is a scary place, take our word for it.
And walking five blocks to walmart in the 90 degree, a billion percent humidity afternoon, on only a couple hours of sleep...we'll just say it wasn't the best idea. We were tired, sweaty, and worn out. 
 When we got our food back to the condo and looked out the windows to see this, we just had to go play.
Before my waterproof camera proved to be not-so-waterproof, we got a few awesome swimming pictures:
 I love how the water is so blue that the sky looks kind of purple.

Little adventures:
 We tried not to go out to eat or spend money on Sunday;
a nice leisurely walk on the beach sounded like a good idea. 
Tony, our fishing boat crew member, told us that if we walked about twenty minutes down the beach we'd get to the uninhabited area and find some cenotes. 
Almost an hour of walking later and we weren't even close.  So we stopped where we were, ate a picnic lunch (complete with a little sand), and played in the waves for a while before walking all.the.way.back.
 We stayed up late one night at this restaurant/bar on the beach just so we could see the firedance show.  It was pretty awesome, and we were also entertained by all the drunk people there dancing and singing along to the live band.  Our waitress seemed pretty confused about why we were sticking around so long even though we weren't drinking.

One afternoon we ventured down the beach and found a guy who sold us a half-hour rental of wave runners. We paid for two, thinking that each couple would take one.
As we signed papers and got started, though, Mike realized it wasn't a good activity for him (he had neck/spine surgery a few months ago).  The young guy working there told us that they wouldn't give us our money back.  
Long story short, Alli and I rode one wave runner together while Kent rode the other.
It was a blast!  We tipped over in the waves a few times, threw each other off the back of the waverunner once or twice, and got thoroughly drenched in the ocean spray. 
We were soooo sore the next day.

Finding the fruit market was harder than we had anticipated-Kent and I went looking one morning (we woke up at 8:30 thinking we had slept in but the Foulks slept until 11--they win.)
We looked all over the street it was supposed to be on but couldn't find it.
Alli and I went back later and discovered Kent and I had been standing in front of it the whole time. Oops.

Allison and I felt like locals with our cute little baskets,
well except for the excessive picture taking, of course.
The Foulks were the best traveling pals.
We get along so well- even though Kent and Mike hadn't seen each other or talked for a year and a half, within moments they were laughing about obscure movie quotes just like always.

Having them with us was the perfect balance between having time just as couples to go out to dinner or walk hand in hand down the beach
and time with friends all four of us doing something fun
and time with just Alli and me, going out and getting a massage on the beach or strolling the streets in the twilight, drinking chocolate shakes and getting our fill of girl-time
while the tired husbands watched some guy movie back at the condo. 

 We had the most wonderful vacation;
it was everything we had hoped it to be.

And thank you, Mom and Dad for watching the kids.  A big part of the fun we had there was knowing that our kids were both well-taken care of and having the time of their lives at your house.  We didn't once worry about them while we were gone, and that was incredibly relaxing.
Until next time. 
Thailand...right, Foulks? Anyone else want to come with in 2016-ish?

Saturday, May 18, 2013

swimming in a cave

At Xel-ha there was a place where you could swim/snorkel into a cave.  We took a few pictures with Alli's camera in her trusty (at that point) waterproof camera bag.  We also caved (ha) and bought the "professional" photos the park staff took of us from above through a hole in the cave's ceiling.  

I just love that picture of the four of us, swimming, in a cave, dorky snorkel masks on our heads, completely happy.

Kent was his awesome silly self that I just adore.
This side of him only comes out when he's really happy, and I sure love it.

Me and Kent with the cave entrance behind us.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

surprise adventure #2

Yes, I have a couple of vacation posts left...
I'll try to keep them picture heavy so you don't have to read a lot.

On Monday of our trip it was the Foulk's turn to take us on a surprise adventure.
They rented a car (brave!) and we drove south along the coast to see the ruins of Tulum.

Iguanas everywhere!
They paid for us to get a private guide, and he told us some fascinating things about the place.

They call this the "Temple of the Descending God."  It was so neat to hear what they said about the Mayan people and their gods and to see how it lined up with what we know from the Book of Mormon.

For example, the temple had three squares at the top with their gods in them.  The first square was the "all powerful god," the second was the "descending god" pictured upside down, and the third square was completely empty. Our guide said they don't know why the third box is empty.  He suggested that maybe someone had stolen the god statue out of the box before the ruins were discovered.
I wanted to tell him that we know what that box is for!  (The Godhead)

The beautiful and extremely crowded beach at the ruins.

It was incredibly hot and humid.  Kent does not like to be sweaty,
but he was a good sport
(maybe I forced him just a little),
 and he posed with me for the pictures.

And yes, he just carried that sunscreen around the whole time we were there.
Traveling without a diaper bag does have a few drawbacks.

Note: In this picture Kent is actually just pretending to be walking away. He was actually holding perfectly still.  I kinda really love this picture.
They have a traditional display/dance/ceremony where men climb this tower and then tie themselves to ropes and hang upside down while it spins around until they reach the ground.  It was pretty cool--that guy up at the top is playing a shrill flute and a teeny tiny drum.
As we watched, though, two other men dressed in the traditional costume walked around and asked for tips for the performers.
We literally had no cash with us, and we told them, but they stood in front of us  with their money bowl out and didn't believe us.  I finally motioned to my yoga pants and said "I have no pockets and no purse.
We have no money."
These men were dressed up all crazy and wanted you to pay them to take your picture with them (see the cash in his hands?)
There were also guys with iguanas and monkeys you could hold to take a picture with...but again, no cash.
Not that I would have paid for a picture with a monkey anyway. I was tempted though,
I mean, a monkey!
After the ruins we drove to the beautiful town of Tulum.
Tropical and lush. 

Alli took us to a vegan all-natural all-local restaurant in Tulum.  Complete with moccasin-wearing table waiter and bamboo plank flooring.
We might not have told the men that it was a vegan place until we were already there....but they really liked it!

The drinks menu, and "a secret note" for each of us...which turned out to be just the food menu.
Mango, papaya, pineapple, and mint juice.

After eating, we went to Akumal beach, ate ice cream, and then snorkeled with sea turtles.
Akumal beach was our favorite area from the whole trip.
It was beautiful, tropical, family friendly, and within half an hour of snorkeling we'd seen four or five big sea turtles.  There were people all around the beach trying to sell snorkeling tours to see the sea turtles, but we went out on our own,
and it was a good thing we did, because the people who paid to go on a "tour" were snorkeling right alongside us while we all saw the exact same sea turtles.
We were very glad we didn't pay to go out there.
This is the last real photo we have from our vacation.

Shortly after this picture was taken, Alli's camera was found swimming in her "waterproof" camera bag.
We also spent some time in the water looking for some misplaced (inadvertently lost) snorkeling gear.
At least it was on the last day and our last adventure!