Facing the harsh reality

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We just got back from a week long vacation in Mexico.

Like last year, we spent a week sunning, swimming, stuffing our faces, napping, and waking up to start the cycle all over again.

As is the case with all good things, it was over too fast.

Even though I had gotten to the point of just eating fruit for breakfast because I simply could not stuff myself three times a day for a whole week…. I still enjoyed it.

Coming home for me meant remembering how to cook, ugh. And before that, going to the grocery store and buying food to do something with at home.

The kids and I walked through Trader Joe’s in a daze, them asking why can’t we just live in Mexico, me trying to find that secret aisle that will have everything I need to make fast, easy, delicious, healthy dinners for the next week without having to THINK about it.

The 4 year old probably got hit the hardest since we’ve been back home.

It didn’t take her more than a couple days on vacation to recognize what “all inclusive” means in terms of eating options…. and before long she stopped going up to the buffet with me all together. Instead, she chose to relax at the table, and airily directed me to bring her back an assortment of things to try.

Today, on our first morning back, she is requesting sushi, chocolate pastry, and maybe a waffle if it’s not too much trouble.

The stark reality of cold cereal and orange juice left her looking a little shell shocked…..





Mexican pat down


My final story about our vacation takes place on our last day there.

It starts when I go to the lobby and try to print our boarding passes at the front desk. After managing my way through Spanish Google, I get to my email and click on the link. Get the passes printed, and realize everyone has a pass but me!

Instead I have a cute little note that says, “sorry, we couldn’t print your pass, please have them printed at the terminal”… something like that.

Got to the airport, went to the desk. The guy was super nice, and actually changed our seats so we were all together and really close to first class. Reprinted passes for everyone, even me this time.

I watched, idly, as he stacked the passes together, then carefully circled the “SSSS” marked on one of the passes. Still means nothing to me, you know they always write weird things on those papers as you get through security etc… anyway.

Through security, then the wait, then last minute bathroom trip, then finally we get to board the plane. Well, almost…..

As I hand over our passes to the agent, about to step into the plane, she asks me-only me-to step aside.

I’m ushered to a table where I’m asked to empty my purse, and hold my arms out to enjoy being frisked by another agent as my belongings are scrutinized. Passengers are still boarding, my husband is off to the side just smiling… and I’m doing my best to look all “hey, I’m cool….” because I’m so embarrassed that people can SEE this happening to me! After I have to sit down and take off my shoes to have them inspected, I’m allowed to get on the plane. Still trying to act completely nonchalant about the whole thing.

I glare at my middle eastern husband….this is the second time I’ve been pulled aside and patted down/searched while traveling with him. Is it random?? Or do they think he’s planting explosives on me??

It’s probably random……

My advice? Beware the quadruple S!!!


Vacation wildlife encounters

Where I live, the local wildlife tend to keep their distance. Squirrels and chipmunks abound outside, you can hear them chattering and see them leaping about, but they don’t tend to come up to you and steal the food out of your hand.

In Mexico, we met a cousin of the raccoon, the coati. Also fondly known as the hog-nosed coon to it’s close friends.

Initially awed by the different wildlife all around us, we snapped pictures of these creatures as we encountered them….which was pretty much everywhere. There are signs posted to NOT feed them, out of respect for their natural habitat and diet.

Turns out, humans posted that sign….. and the coatis are not at all in agreement.

This was made clear to us pretty early on. I was taking a break from swimming with the 6 year old. We were sitting poolside as he munched on some oatmeal raisin cookies. Up comes a coati…. and it just keeps coming….. literally nose to nose with my son, and is obviously interested in the cookie he doesn’t seem to be eating fast enough.

We went from amused to kind of freaked out as I eyed his sharp teeth and retractible claws…. imagining him taking a soft chunk of my sons face along with the cookie he wanted to steal.

So I did the only thing I could think of. Grabbed the cookie and threw it away from us. As predicted, the coati followed calmly, picked it up and started munching away. Along the same time, as I’m nervously laughing, I hear a snide “You’re not supposed to feed the animals” from a passing group of girls. Duh.

Coati gets done, and comes nosing around again, this time dipping his pointy snout into my sons pineapple juice. My god, is nothing sacred!?

A fellow vacationer took pity on us, and chased off the scavenger…. and we learned to snack more cautiously.

Less inclined to give us rabies perhaps, were the peacocks. They were also all over the property.


Here is one of them now!!  A peacock, or “Mr. Weird” according to the 3 year old.

Also out in great numbers, were the various lizards.

We liked to watch them crawl sideways up the walls, and eat the flowers all around.

of course, there were plenty of other animals to study and enjoy.

And then, there were these guys…


They followed us everwhere, took the food from our hands and even off our plates! Slept in our beds and forced us to carry them around when they got tired of walking. They made all sorts of weird noises and somehow managed to follow us all the way home.

We’ve decided to keep them for now….




5th Avenue, Mexico style

What do you think of when someone talks about shopping on 5th avenue?


Exactly.  Skyscrapers, concrete, and hustle of a big city.
But guess what?
Before I left for Mexico, I ran into a lady who knew where I was staying, and urged me to check out 5th Avenue in Playa del Carmen.
It’s a teensy bit different.

So, palm trees instead of skyscrapers….. handmade clothing and rugs instead of high couture….. but BOTH have Sephora, as well as Starbucks. I don’t know how big Senor Frogs is in New York, but here it’s kind of a big deal…..

I’ll be honest… I didn’t drink the water here. Well, not from the water fountain. I bought a bottled water from Starbucks and the guy offered me Mexican brand or Fiji brand. I asked him if it was ok to drink the Mexican brand, labeling myself as an uncouth American tourist no doubt…. but I did buy it and drank it and as previously posted, we are still alive 🙂

What else is it like on 5th avenue in Mexico?

Think Mardi Gras, the watered down version. Think street festival. Music is playing, there are like 30-40 blocks-so I was told-of shops and restaurants, little motels, and services like hair braiding, henna tattoos, and street vendors.  We were there for about 3 hours, and didn’t get all the way down one side of the street. They did have a mall with plenty of boutique shops for those who want to make sure they are spending enough money.

Not only is this “the place” to go for shopping and souvenirs, but as we walked down the street, every side street off to the left ran right into the ocean. Plenty of people come and stay in this area and never have to leave, all their needs are met.

See the water? It’s RIGHT THERE!!

Now, since we have the little ones, we didn’t stay late. But we did stay long enough to see some fun things, spend a little money, and take pictures like this:

I would wager that after dark, that place is probably a very fun spot for the single crowd. The food looked and smelled amazing, Tequila seems to flow like water, and no doubt the place stays lit up well into the night.

In any event, definitely a place worth checking out next time you find yourself in Mexico with some time on your hands.

We drank the water

my empty chair……….

Ahhhhhh, I’m back from Mexico.

Kind of dazed today…. not sure what to wear in 40-something degree weather, not sure how to feed myself anymore….. I think we were a little spoiled.

It was amazing. Such a good idea to try it instead of the usual trip to Vegas. I still love Vegas, but this is something totally different.

The three year old taught herself how to swim, like a fish, underwater. Even the 6 year old finally broke down and put his face in the water. That was major progress.

There are so many things I want to talk about, things we saw and did, things I learned about vacationing there that I will use for future trips. (Because yes, I am definitely going back).

But right now, I would like to tell you that we drank the water, and lived. EVERYONE told me not to drink the water. Not to brush my teeth with the tap water, to use bottled water instead. Also I was told not to leave the resort because I might be killed, or sold into slavery. I am probably too old for the slavery bit, but I did feel safe the whole time, and we left the resort, TWICE, and still made it back alive.

We ate all the things I was warned about, fresh fruit and salad, meats, ice cubes, water poured from pitcher that may or may not have come from a tap instead of a bottle…. and guess what? No one got sick.

We stayed at a large resort, Iberostar Paraiso Maya, and ate there as well as their surrounding properties.

This week, I am going to focus on my trip, and post about all the awesomeness we saw and did in Mexico. Right now however, I’m exhausted from taking care of myself and the kids today. I had to make lunch just now, and go grocery shopping before that!! I’ve got 3 suitcases of laundry to finish washing, and I’ve got to find the time to daydream about our trip and wish we were still there while all these things are going on. I need a nap.




The horror of a red nose

Let me tell you what you are looking at.

This is the beginning of a cold. I hope it’s only a cold. It started yesterday, a little goopy nose stuff, I pretended it wasn’t real, but still coated her in Vicks before bed. Set up the vaporizer and prayed…..

Seriously. These kids KNOW we are going on a plane in 2 days!!!!  How could she wait until now to get sick!?

I bought a huge assortment of cold remedies today, she’s had everything from vitamin C to zinc. The chapped cheeks and lips are setting in. The sniffles are here, we are tip-toeing around, trying to keep the cough and fever from finding us.

I would like to blame someone for this….

and also someone for causing me to gain weight instead of either lose weight or stay the same weight since I’ve started my hard core workout routine. I love how loyal my friends are, every single one has told me I must be gaining muscle, and not that the girl scout cookies and birthday cake are just stubbornly holding on.

And lastly, I would like to blame someone, anyone really, for this stiff neck that started this morning… after a particularly challenging workout last night. I can’t turn my head fully, it causes shooting pain down my back. You should have seen my turning my entire body, stiff in my seat on the highway as I tried to check  my blind spot during my very unsafe drive to work today.

So this is how I imagine my first couple vacation days… One, possibly two goopy kids….. full of snot and sand, attempting to run on the beach with mom who is not only blocking the sun with her massive size, but also resembles Frankenstein as she stumbles, stiff-legged and moaning in pain………

Or… it could all be fine. It’s a toss up right now.




Plodding along

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It’s been a little while since I booked our upcoming vacation…only 3 weeks away!

I’ve surprised myself by actually sticking to my plan to workout daily. I think I’ve missed one day per week, totally acceptable.

Even my diet has improved…despite the Easter bunnies attempts to smother me with carmallow eggs this week…l persevered. And I bought inferior brand chocolate eggs so as not to tempt myself excessively.

Even today, I’m driving and start thinking about taco salads. There is no one to stop me…maybe I should just get one and scarf it down, as if eating it faster will somehow negate the fact that it happened.

But no. This guilt thing is really inconvenient. So instead of calorie laden goodness, I semi-enjoyed my salad. My regular salad.

A new destination awaits

We have toyed with the idea of vacationing somewhere besides Vegas….. then booked our trip to Vegas. This has happened several times as the husband and I both seem to be the “comfortable in our rut” kind of people. Nothing wrong with that!

But, for the sake of the children understanding there are more than 2 points on the map, we are embarking on a new journey.

After our last Vegas trip, in the ARCTIC cold….. we had one requirement, it had to be warm. A for sure kind of warm that won’t ever let you down.

New destination: Mexico.

A patient of my husbands actually brought him a travel guide full of destinations, and recommended a particular resort he’s been to over 20 times. Wow, it must be great.

It’s family friendly…… got tons of swimming things to do, including a big lazy river that goes for like, miles or something. Entertainment at all hours of the day and night, lots of activities inside and outside.

Now the good part. It’s all inclusive. ALL YOU CAN EAT. Even ROOM SERVICE. Yes, I’m yelling this. It’s an amazing and wonderful concept. Makes up for the stupid strawberries and grapes I ate today instead of the bucket of grease I wanted.

So the countdown begins…. and the frantic attempts to work out and get in fabulous shape are conflicting with the desire to find the best sweatsuit/bathing suit and just start training now for my food marathon.


Vegas is broken

We booked this trip months ago, way before we realized the cold weather we were fleeing from in Ohio was actually going to be on vacation itself… in Vegas… the same week as us.

So, ok…as I tracked the weather I made sure to pack winter hats, coats, gloves, blankets. Just in case….


This while friends at home were enjoying the 70’s in December…..

But that’s ok. Because we can still enjoy this.

And then, funny, how did I not pick up on the fact that we booked at the same hotel, the same hotel we always stay in….as the republican presidential debate??

Instead of the regular huge Christmas tree, there was a CNN stage and tent structure set up outside that I would half heartedly tell my husband to go out and stand by so we could watch him on TV from inside the room. He didn’t do it.

And so on the night of the debate, a wintery, blustery, freezing night in Vegas….. we sat inside our room as the lobby beneath us swarmed with security, police, and the press. Then we watched most of the debate on CNN, as it went on below us.

We finally left in time to catch the Volcano show at the Mirage. The kids loved that last year, we were there in December then as well…. funny how much warmer it was. And funny that just a year ago the volcano show ran about every 30 minutes well into the night (we had the view from our hotel window), and now it only shows a couple times a night, three times on weekends.


freezing…and waiting

We stood there, freezing….waiting….. with the crowd of other hopeful volcano watchers around us. We continued to freeze, and wait, until finally a red flashing light started at the top of the volcano, instead of the smoke and lava it was supposed to spew. It was broken.

Next night, it wasn’t quite so windy… we wanted to catch the Bellagio fountains at night, Jenna especially wanted to see it. So we trudged down the street, kids bundled and warm, us not quite so warm. Wow, it looked like the fountain was going off over and over, how often was it running?

Finally got there, no music, just the fountain blasting constantly. Seemed like they were testing it, maybe cleaning it, something. Kind of cool to see, but lacking the magic, the choreography, the emotion…. snapped some photos but left disappointed.


Jenna commented that Vegas was broken.

It DID seem kind of broken!

Even trying to get a picture of all of us together, so accidentally easy last year…. didn’t come together quite so well this time.


I guess sometimes you can’t escape the little trying moments that make life so….interesting at times.

I told my husband this is going to be one of those vacations that will be so much better after we get home… you know that kind?

Despite the weather, despite Vegas being broken…. things did still pull together by the end. We got dessert every night, celebrating Jenna’s 3rd birthday all week long as we counted down to the main event….


It was adorable how the waiter wasn’t sure of how to spell Jenna… so he covered it really heavily in sprinkles 🙂

After two times of being disappointed in the broken Volcano, it finally got it’s act together….


And on our last day in Vegas…. the wind stopped 🙂


It’s ok Vegas…. we still love you.


Next stop, Disney….or is that Hell??

To the point.  Compliments of Sodahead.com

To the point.
Compliments of Sodahead.com

We went to Disney again. My 4th time.

I think I can say, with a high degree of certainty, I am NOT a Disney person.

(hands covering my head, in defensive position) Don’t hurt me!!!

I’ll elaborate a bit.

I’m not a Magic Kingdom person. Neither is my husband. I think the kids would have been just as happy at Kiddie Park, which costs like $20 for a day of rides and overpriced sponge bob popsicles.

I do like Epcot, and Downtown Disney after dark. Kids liked those places too.

Enough to go back????

Uh. No.

Probably because we don’t get into the characters. We really just don’t. We caught the parade a couple times while at the Magic Kingdom, and that really satisfied any need the kids had to see a bunch of characters singing and dancing.

It just doesn’t seem amazingly magical to me.

I don’t think I’m the only person who feels this way. I watched the faces of everyone around us, and pointed out to my husband that EVERYONE looks like they are in hell right now. I don’t recall a particularly thrilled looking mom or dad during our visit.

One mom, in particular, was having a bad day when we were there.

My husband had taken the 5 year old on a ride that the youngest was too small for. Jenna and I were on our own til the guys got back. So we were checking out one of the many outside vendors, and picked out a wonderfully overpriced bubble gun for Jenna to play with. As I’m standing there, waiting for the salesperson to finish with the guy ahead of us, I hear a voice….

“Now SEE, we would have been next in line, but since YOU GUYS made me go look at that over there, now we have to wait for THESE PEOPLE (gestures to me) to get done before us!!!” I look over, to see a lady my age-ish, lecturing her kids who are doing their best to pretend they are not with her. I am kind of amused. I look at her, and tell her “You are welcome to go ahead of us, it’s not a big deal.”

This was not supposed to happen. I was not supposed to speak to her. I realize this as she responds to me.

“This is not about YOU!  I am trying to teach my CHILDREN something here.”

I can’t help it. I start to smirk. Thank God I’m wearing sunglasses to hide behind.

Her voice changes as she talks to me, becoming high pitched and that fake sugary sweet that means whatever she is saying, she definitely DOES NOT MEAN. “But thank you for offering, and you have a MAGICAL DAY!”

I didn’t respond again. I turned around and paid for my bubbles, hoping those kids were having a better day than their mom.

This is what Disney does to parents.