Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Overdue Christmas Recap

Because I have a terrible memory and I know I'll be glad to have it documented, I'm doing this after-the-fact Christmas post.

Everything was perfect. A very merry Christmas, indeed!

We started with our traditional Christmas Eve spread.

Alyssa had gymnastics earlier in the day and was still dressed in her leotard when we started the celebrating.

After eyeing the goods all day, the kids could finally dig into the Christmas cookies! Doesn't her smile say it all?

After dinner we went for a drive to see some lights. The "blue house" draws such a crowd that they added a food bank collection box in front of their blinding display. The kids each took a can to contribute.

These pictures can't even begin to capture just how obnoxious this house is. Puts the Griswolds to shame. Their poor neighbors. But it's fun to drive by.

When we got home, we played "The Night Before Christmas" game and everyone was excited to open their gifts to find a movie ticket to "The Tale of Despereaux" for Christmas Day.

Then we did our traditional read and sing nativity. The kids took turns reading the scriptures and sang all the carols loud and clear.

Next on the schedule was watching "Joy to the World" followed by opening one gift from under the tree. We ended our night with watching the Little Drummer Boy. And eating lots more cookies.

Santa brought all sorts of goodies while we slept. Caleb got his new NCAA Wii game, which could not be more perfect for him. Alyssa was thrilled with an Easy Bake Oven and Natalie was spoiled with a slew of "baby stuff."

We ate a yummy Christmas breakfast before breaking into the rest of the gifts.

Jon was so happy with his Guitar Hero surprise from Mom and Dad. He's really good.

We finished cleaning up the mess of wrapping paper just in time to shower and dress for our early afternoon movie.

It was a cute story with a good message. And we filled up on lots of buttery popcorn.

We ended our evening with a traditional Christmas dinner.

The following day, Mom and I braved the mall to help the girls experience the Build-a-Bear gift she had given them.

They had a great time but all that Christmas excitement had finally caught up with them.

I know the feeling. Putting on Christmas is a whole lotta work!

But other than the rather large car-breaking blemish, Christmas was wonderful in every way.


It's gone now, but for quite some time, our normally green landscape was covered in a thick blanket of white.

Aside from Alyssa's sledding-into-a-pole-and-needing-three-stitches-in-her-head incident, the kids had so much fun playing in all the snow.

Fun to see it come, fun to see it go!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Pilot Problems

At least it didn't involve an ambulance and firetruck like last Christmas. This is a big bummer, but not that bad.

It's hard to find the words to describe our day-after-Christmas fluke accident.

Jon was leaving the house to take Alyssa to the doctor to have her sledding-accident stitches removed from her head. Our street had recently been plowed by our inexperienced city snow plowers, leaving a bit of a snow bank in front of our driveway. Our Pilot had been handling our abnormally large quantities of snow beautifully, but for whatever reason, when it came in contact with the ice that morning, something went terribly wrong.

It seems that something in the undercarriage of the car got caught in the ice and pulled some (we have no idea which) parts of the car completely apart. The tension caused some metal-arm type broken parts (shows our total lack of car-part knowledge) to come breaking through the center console of the interior of the car, protuding into the driver's side.

In a matter of seconds, the car was rendered completely undriveable. Just like that, we were without our main family vehicle.

We watched, stunned and saddened, as our car was hauled away.

It's been three days and we still have no word on the status of our car. We have no idea when we'll get it back.

We're frustrated and we can't believe this happened. But at least we're all healthy and safe.

And we had a great Christmas.

Monday, December 22, 2008

¡Viva Mexico!

Our eight days and seven nights in Cancun were all we expected and so much more. It was a vacation that was simply out-of-this-world!

I loved pulling out my summer clothes in the middle of December and rather than fight the humidity, I decided it unnecessary to do my hair for the entire week. Delightful!

It was a week of many highlights and so much of which we just couldn't get enough...

We simply couldn't get enough of those brilliant blue waters and powder-soft sand.

The amazing waves lulled me to sleep at night and greeted me each morning. They provided canvas for the most spectacular sun and moon rises. I've never in my life watched a full moon rise like that.

Their salty sting in the eyes was a small price to pay for the thrilling crash against my body which once washed me clear back to shore.

And they gave Jon some thrilling boogey board and jet ski rides.

Though I grew tired of the buffet (pronounced boofette in Mexico), I couldn't get enough flan or guacamole, two personal favorites, which I indulged in every day. They were both fabulous!

This is me with my pick for the best flan of the trip. Actually, this entire meal at Xcaret ranked as the best of the week.

Jon is completely "satisfecho."

Because we fell in love amid the Mayan culture of Guatemala, we both looked forward to experiencing the culture of Mexico on this trip. We couldn't get enough of the many cultural opportunities. An eco park called Xcaret, provided lots of it, as did our excursion to Chichen Izta; a Mayan ruins site that ranks among the seven wonders of the world.
Reinactment of an ancient Mayan ritual to the sun god that we watched at Xcaret.

One of the performers of the cultural night show at Xcaret.

The largest temple in Chichen Itza.

I couldn't get enough of listening to Jon speak Spanish. I was almost giddy listening to him converse so fluently and be complimented by every native speaker on his skills. I was also excited to be able to understand a lot of his conversations. I couldn't contribute but I could listen. My hubby's so cool!

His language skills came particularly in handy when it came to bartering at the markets. He hates the arguing over price, as do I, so we didn't do too much shopping.
The market at Isla Mujeres. They use golf carts to get around this place.

Because we couldn't get enough of our first snorkel trip, we scheduled a second. This next picture was actually taken at an aquarium at Xcaret, but I am posting it because it so closely resembles what we experienced while snorkeling at the second largest reef in the world.

Though I was a bit squeamish at first, in the end, I couldn't get enough of swimming with the Dolphins. Their skin is silky smooth and having them push me through the water was unbelievable! Our time with them ended much too soon.

We went to church on Sunday. I love that the gospel's the same no matter where in the world you venture. The building was tiny but very neat and clean.

As if the fabulous excursions weren't enough, our all-inclusive resort also included treatments at the resort spa. I couldn't bear the thought of letting them going to waste, so I managed to convince Jon to take advantage of his pedicure, manicure and massage treatments. Without question, our afternoon together in the spa is a highlight I won't ever forget.:)

Doesn't Jon looked thrilled to be relaxing with his theraputic neck wrap? Little did he know, the bony elbows of his tiny Mexican masseuse would soon feel like "knives in his back." I don't know what he's talking about, I thought it was heavenly!

Jon did enjoy the manicure, only because it was painless and he enjoyed his Spanish conversation with Yolanda. Svieta, however, was a bit put off by his unkempt toenails and scaly heels and thus handled his feet rather gruffly.

The picture doesn't tell the true story. Svieta actually appears happy, which is deceiving, as does Jon--also deceiving. In reality, Jon displayed a variety of grimaces while he whinced in pain. He may not have been making any actual noise, but his facial expressions caused alarm from my pedicurist who couldn't help but be distracted by his silent cries of agony. This pedicure, he claims, can only be described by equating it to "going to the dentist without novacaine."
I, on the other hand, felt pampered while I laughed at him the whole time. So much fun.

This entire trip would not have happened were it not for my good friend, Nannette, having a 40th birthday. Her husband arranged this giant surprise and it really is a miracle that she did not find out any of us were going on her trip with her. We had to spin all sorts of lies to keep the surprise going for six months.

Our friend, Brian, also celebrated a birthday so we had a fun party with these guests of honor. The girls wore shirts with Nannette's picture, the guys with Brian's.

Our time in Cancun really did end much too soon. When we went to our balcony one last time, I couldn't help but make a pouty face to show my displeasure.

I didn't want to leave that amazing beach or the sparkly clean resort whose staff followed every service rendered with, "It's a pleasure."

And of all the things of which I just couldn't get enough, the best was spending kid-free time with my favorite person in the entire world.

What a vacation!

P.S. Here is the cartwheel picture that several of you requested. I truly couldn't control myself. The sand squishing through my toes felt so good that I needed my hands to experience it too!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Today on the Beach

The soft white sand made me want to do cartwheels.

And it made me think of you.

See you soon!
We love you,
Mom and Dad