Thursday, March 26, 2009

2 things that don't mix

Homemade granola and white tankini bottoms do not mix.

Because when you're eatting a bowl of homemade granola.....

and your funny husband flounces into the room wearing your white tankini bottoms to try to make you laugh.....

that's exactly what you do.

You laugh hysterically.....

and homemade granola almost comes out of your nose....

but you quickly swallow it so that it doesn't exit the nostrils.....

and it goes down your esophagus virtually unchewed....

And it hurts.

But it's still so stinking hilarious that you don't care.

Although I might care tonight when I try to wear tankini bottoms in the hot tub and they're all stretched out.

In which case I'll have no choice but to skinny dip.

Oh, 2 more things that don't mix? 3 year olds and empty hot tubs..... but that's another post....

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

If I were Irish.....

I'm not Irish. I don't drink beer...or any alcohol for that matter (Nyquil doesn't count). St. Patrick's Day is just a square on the calendar that would pass by unnoticed if I didn't feel an obligation to get into the spirit of it and dress my household in green. Green is NOT my color. But for one day? I can handle it. I've even been known to turn the milk green and make green eggs for breakfast.

But if I was Irish... I would be sending my loved ones a St. Patty's Day card that says the following.

Our Lager
Which art in barrels
Hallowed be thy drink
Thy kegdom come
I fill thee mug
At home, as in the tavern
Give us this day, Our foamy head
And forgive us our spillages,
As we forgive those who spill upon us
And lead us not into inebriation
But deliver us from hangovers.

I saw this on a card at the car wash and thought it was too witty & clever not to share it with you. So, Happy St. Patrick's Day.... no matter how you celebrate it!!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Back to Reality

Land.... My babies..... My routine..... The gym......My babies.......No more buffets.......

These are the things my soul was screaming for that last day of the cruise. It didn't really get too bad until the Ellis' left for the airport a few hours before us. Their leaving marked the end of the vacation.

I was so happy with our decision to fly instead of drive to San Diego. The car trip home would have been torturous.

So we landed in San Jose. I had my phone turned on in a matter of milliseconds. I just wanted to hear my kids' sweet voices. Mercedes' cheery and enthusiastic greeting. Beau's raspy voice with a hint of embarassment behind his words. Reef's interrogation bringing the inflection of his voice to a higher & higher pitch with each question. I could almost see Mercedes' bright eyes and the wide smile. My ears were already tickling with Beau's intoxicating giggles and infectious laughter. I could already feel Reef's warm little palms upon my cheeks or the back of my neck as we looked at eachother, foreheads pressed together. I'd been daydreaming about these things for days now.

Then reality set in. They were still in school. I wouldn't be able to talk to them for at least another hour. But wait. Reef's not in school!!! My thumbs dial at a feverish pace. The annoying beep...beep...beep of the busy tone pierces my ear. I die a little from dissapointment.

With no other hope of speaking to any of my offspring in the next 5-10 minutes I decide to check my texts. I silently escort my husband to the men's bathroom and stand watch over our carry-on bag -- all the while scanning my incoming messages. There's one from Annette. And another. Oh no. Is she trying to get a hold of me because something happened to my kids? Whew. Just a text to say hello and see if we debarked the ship, yet. Brandon returns and I hand the bags over to him. Without looking up I tell him I've got to use the restroom, too. I continue walking (and texting) until I reach the entrance.

I notice the smell right away. It's very faint. But I was looking forward to an odorless restroom. After 9 days on a ship certain smells can start to seep through the pipes. Oh, well. From the corner of my eye I see the silouette of a tall person washing their hands. I feel so rude as I almost bump into somebody coming out of a stall. I should have at least looked up when I said "Excuse me". But she didn't respond to my apology whatsoever so I don't feel so bad anymore. I realize what people must be thinking. "Is she going to keep texting while using the toilet?" I enter the stall while finishing up my message. I press SEND. I turn around to close and lock the door.

That's when reality sets in... again.

I'm surrounded by men. Men at the sink. Men walking in. Men walking out. Men drying their hands. Men facing the wall (urinals). Fat men. Skinny men. Short men. Tall men. Old men. Young men. Men, men, men!!!!! But not one of them giving me any eye contact. Thank goodness!!!!! I die a little of embarassment, anyway.

I open my phone back up. To text Annette and tell her what I've done. Not so much to incriminate myself but to give me something to do so I can maintain our no-eye-contact status while I hastily exit.

I suppress my laughter. I hope noone noticed me exiting the men's room. I frantically look for my husband. For his open arms to hug me and tell me it's OK. To laugh with me. To offer words of comfort. He's walking away with his head to the side, staring at me out of the corner of his eye. He's smiling. He knows. He's laughing. At me. He's embarassed, too. Of me.

I catch up to him. "Why didn't you stop me?" I ask accusingly. "I didn't know. I wasn't sure where you went. I turned around and you were gone." He's telling the truth. Dang. There's nobody to blame but myself. And the airport designers for giving you the option of 2 entrances for each bathroom. And Verizon Wireless for even offering the option of texting in the first place.

I've done this once before, you know. At a McDonald's. I was pregnant at the time. (I don't know if that's really relevant but think people tend to cut you more breaks if your pregnant.) I walked in to see urinals on the wall. Understanding washed over my mind immediately. That time I was lucky. The restroom was vacant.

I look back on my airport experience now and can't figure out if it really happend in slow motion or if it's just my masochistic mind forcing me to remember it that way. Like I'm teaching myself a lesson or something. Like I'm telling myself to pay more attention. Like I'm sternly yelling to not let it happen again or it's only gonna get worse. Well, Self.... lesson learned.

What a harsh way to step back into reality. Whew.... I need a vacation!

Port of Call 3: Manzanillo

Manzanillo, Schmanzanillo.... that's all I have to say about that.

Just kidding. I'll say more.

The cruise director (who got my vote of "room for improvement" on the comment card) sort of, kind of, in-a-way hinted that Manzanillo could be boring. Yes, he told us that it was more of an industrial port. Yes he mentioned that we might get off the ship and say, "What are we doing here?" Yes he personally knocked on each of our doors and held the flare gun to our head until we signed up for a shore excursion. Oh wait... no.... he didn't do that. BUT HE SHOULD HAVE!!!

We had been quite smart to show ourselves around our 2 previous ports. Not only did we save ourselves a lot of money, we were able to squeeze in several activities in a day. If we would have booked an excursion through the ship we would have done and seen about 1/4th of what we actually did and saw on our own. So we figured that we would do the same in Manzanillo.

It didn't work out quite the same way. But we are resilient. When life hands you avacados, make guacamole!! (Or make a turkey sandwhich.... avacados are delicious with turkey!)

Manzanillo does not rely on tourist dollars to survive. This was a very refreshing thing. I felt better about myself in Manzanillo. I didn't feel like the same rude American who pretended to ignore the street stalkers vendors of Acapulco. I wasn't made to feel "taken" after giving the handi-capped Zihuatanejan a few dollars only to discover his electric wheelchair hidden behind a small palm a few yards away. (Just so you know, I would have still given him the money even if I saw the wheelchair first or if he had been sitting in it, even.) One of the first things I noticed while riding in our taxi was that the cars there were much newer, nicer, and cleaner.

Manzanillo clearly didn't need me there and I liked that.

We were in Manzanillo on a Saturday. We decided to walk around the town center and finish up some shopping since we hadn't found anything for the boys yet. I was expecting to endure some cheesy shops luring in all of the sunburned tourists with the same doo-dads the other ports offered. Of course they carried some of those nasty little items, only now printed with 'Manzanillo', and there were some people actually purchasing them but those things just weren't the typical offering here.
I liken Manzanillo to a miniature San Francisco. Minus the fishy smell.

I enjoyed walking shoulder to shoulder with the locals who were out participating in the universal sport of the female gender...... shopping. I tried to blend in as much as possible--I wonder if the camera hanging around my neck gave me away as a tourist rather than the transplanted gringa I was hoping to portray. Oh well.
I couldn't resist buying a bag of fresh "Gorditos"... small, smooth biscuits with a sugary dough. My taste buds had quite the party with these delicious little delights.

I also was able to use my very rusty, heavily American-accented Spanish more here than the other ports. That felt good. It made me want to sign up for Spanish classes again. What was my grandmother thinking for not teaching me her native tongue when I was a wee babe?

Here are the only pictures we took while in Manzanillo....

I hope the beginning of this post didn't give you the wrong idea. I enjoyed Manzanillo. All 3 of our ports were very enjoyable in very different ways.

But what I enjoyed the most about this trip was being with very cherished and treasured friends. I am awed at how we can pick right back up where we left off as if there was no time spent apart.

And what I enjoyed the very most was the reality that the honeymoon doesn't end.....even 11 years later. I fell in love over and over again with my boyfriend, my fiance, "my babies daddy", my best friend. I'm still crushin' on him after all these years. Thanks for an awesome, stress-free, fun, relaxing vacation, Babe. 1-4-3.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Port of Call 2: Zihuatanejo / Ixtapa

The second port of call was my favorite. Where Acapulco was a tourist trap, Zihuatanejo seemed a little more laid back. Of course we were bombarded by taxi drivers vying for our American dollars and the outdoor market had plenty of Made in China trinkets desperately trying to pose as authentic keepsakes. But we kept our treasure hunting narrowed down to silver, turqoise, and hand-made animal toys & wallets. We are gringo tourists who just came off a cruise ship but we're not fresh off the boat if you know what I'm saying. Even cleverly named shops like this couldn't lure us in with their resin knick-knacks and mugs shaped like men's & women's anatomy (no joke!!)

La Sirena Gorda: The Fat Mermaid

I couldn't resist taking a picture of this. I asked the mother's permission, of course, and although she looked at me as if I was loco en la cabeza she agreed. I even thought of giving her money afterward but the mother in me decided that that would just feel wrong.

This is in the outdoor market. He is swinging suspended between a sales rack & a post that holds the ceiling (a tarp) up.

I noticed the many vivid colors of this quaint town. In Acapulco most buildings were white or a rosy mauve color but it seems that the Zihuatanejans are a bit more daring than the Acapulcoans in the color department. Either that or they just use whatever they can get their hands on. Hmmmm...I think I have some neighbors that are from Zihuatanejo...... that must explain why they painted their house turquoise!!!

I loved the streets of their "downtown". The colored paving stone adds to Zihuatanejo's charm. As do the green bug & yellow convertible, of course.

Notice the splashes of color on the building to the left? Who else could get away with that color combinataion? Only in Mexico, my friends.... only in Mexico. (BTW--my neighbor's house is not turquoise... but I think his mother's is.)

After finally tracking down a taxi driver (gratuitous sarcasm here, people...stick with me) we headed toward Ixtapa. Ixtapa is the neighboring city which is really a more tourist-y area. There are a few resorts but not many and a small shopping mall that looked a little too "American" for my taste. Somewhere along the drive, the road turns from stone, to dirty asphalt (in the inner-city), to clean cement (near the resorts.) While driving along the dirty asphalt phase of our journey I noticed a very clean, white brick building with a chain link fence around it. It stood out from the rest of the buildings nearby. It had a large satellite dish out front. I also noticed an outdoor basketball court. That's when I thought, "Hey. That looks like a church." A split second later my hunch was confirmed as I saw the sign La Iglesia de Jesu Cristo de los Santos de los ultimos dias. Eli, our unsuspecting taxi driver, agreed to stop by on the return trip. Poor guy didn't know what he was getting himself into.

In Ixtapa we took a small boat over to an island.

Rest and relaxation was the order of the day here. Restaurants wer located in the center of the island and you never had to get up from your beach chair for a thing. .

The "waiters" are very attentive. You want snorkel gear? They get it for you. You want drinks? Done. A Band-Aid? They try their best to find one. They see you messing with your broken lounge chair? A new one is hauled over right away. When the 4 of us were in the water snorkeling, swimming, floating, laughing, I noticed our waiter come to our umbrella and get our attention. He held up his thumbs asking us if all was well. He probably would have swam some chips and guacamole out to us if we asked for it. I was so relaxed that I actually allowed the jewlery vendor to lay his wares out so I could have a look-see. The "look-see" turned into a "buy-me". It was a win-win situation all around.

I saw these astonishlingly beautiful black crabs with red claws. Their appearance alone wasn't really what made them beautiful but also the way they seemed to skip quickly across the slippery rocks. I actually saw a crab flee from one fish just to get snatched off the side of the rock by a bigger fish.

I refused to enter the water until I knew it was free of those funky Corn-Backed Brown Trout I've heard of. Lydia and Eric are such great friends. See how they are both giving the hand signal that it is safe to enter the water? What brave souls. (heee-heeee-heeeee.....haaaa-haaaaa-haaaaa)

It was really easy to find the bathrooms.... this is a hard color to ignore!!

The Ixtapa shoreline.

Remember the church I mentioned?

Eli made good on his promise and we stopped by before heading back to the tender station in Zihuatanejo. The doors were unlocked and Lydia and I were thrilled to use a clean bathroom. It felt so good walking into this building. I felt "home" as I saw the familiar paintings on the walls and felt the spirit within. We talked to several senior missionaries and Eli even agreed to have the missionaries visit him on his day off... which happened to be Sunday!!

After leaving Eli asked if we knew the missionaries or if they were family. We explained that in our religion we deem each other as brothers & sisters even though we might, in essence, be complete strangers. It's funny how I was on a cruise ship with thousands of people but the closest I felt to the world I know was in this building talking to these 3 people I never before knew existed.

And I'm sad to say that we never got a picture of Eli. He graciously offered to be our photographer. Gracias, Eli!

This is a picture I had to take for my kids to see.

It's an elementary school. It really seemed out of place on the corner of this downtown street. The classrooms didn't have any doors and the floors were cement.

I thought back to my childhood and imagined what it would be like to attend a school like this. I realized that much of the equipment & supplies here would have been considered used, old, and worn even when I was in elementary school over 20 years ago. Us Americans are so spoiled. Nonetheless, the children all had smiling faces and boisterous giggles. Especially when the silly American lady started taking pictures of their school.

More colorful buildings & charming tiled streets.

I think it was along this alley that Brandon used the bottle opener in the sole of his shoe for the first time. A good portion of that bottled Coca Cola ended up splattered all over us but it made for a good laugh, good memories, and I think several of the locals got a good kick out of it, too.

Looks like there were some funky fish in that water after all.... and Brandon is the lucky angler who snagged the biggest catch of the day!

Looks like he also snagged the affections of this fellow ship-mate. He was in the "Harriest Chest Competition" on our first sea day. The conversation took a distubing twist when he invited Brandon to pull his chesty tresses.

Some people will do anything when their drunk. Now what's Brandon's excuse?

Monday, March 2, 2009

Port of Call 1: Acapulco

In Acapulco we negotiated a price for a taxi driver to be at our beck and call all day. Surprisingly enough we were offered a nice, clean Suburban with a/c. First stop was the beach where Lydia and I parasailed. Then we we headed down the beach where we rented some jet skis.

All of this play had left us quite hungry. Brandon was ready to find some authentic $1 tacos but Senor Frogs seemed to offer up "safer" food. Not that we ever found out how "safe" that food was. The 25 minute wait we were quoted was proving to be much longer than that. Especially when the locals started showing up and being seated without even having to put their names on the list. So we politley asked our cabbie (subbie?) if he would take us somewhere local and yummy. He didn't let us down. El Zorrito was mucho delicious and the service was more than we expected.

After lunch we played Pollo. (Chicken) This is where silly, American tourists cross 4 lanes of Mexican traffic on foot....safely. Well, what's a trip to Mexico without a little adventure? And a trip to the pharmacy where you can stock up on frequently used medicines for mere pesos on the dollar? We felt much better on the return trip across the street as there were a few locals with sombreros, serrapis, and guitars crossing along with us. Safety in numbers, right?

Then we went shopping. Didn't buy anything. Got lost in the outdoor market. It was a lowlight. Let's move on.

Last stop? Cliff divers. The c-u-t-e-s-t little boy helped us out of our car and escorted us to the pay kiosk. He charmed us the whole entire way. He had soooo much charisma. We could not get over what a little businessman he was. He totally knew how to work it. The cliff divers were pretty cool. And I must say, I've never seen Speedos look so masculine. I was surprised at the varying ages of the cliff diving crazies. They put Spider Man to shame they way they scaled the rocky face of the cliffs, though. The pictures didn't turn out but if you ever find yourself in Acapulco this is a must see. These muchachos are insane. Aye que loco!!!!!