Swine Flu

Of course we had to return from Mexico the week the world was freaking out about swine flu (H1N1)! Not only had my brother and niece been sick while there and on the way home, my kids and I had the misfortune of getting sick after we got home as well. My son wound up vomiting Saturday night, my daughter Monday night, and me on Wednesday night. I also had terrible body aches for most of he week that had me watching out for a fever or sore throat. None appeared. In the end, all that happened was that we avoided people when we could and I watched way too much of the news.

During that time, I did however, do the farm run for the herdshare and was kind of surprised to wind up behind the bookmobile. I haven’t seen one of these since I was a kid.

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Everything went smoothly…and the kids got to see the baby chicks, geese, and lambs. It was a long day (as usual), but I was happy to learn that I don’t have to drive again until the end of September 🙂

Also- this week, we took out my daughter’s braids! It was so fun and wavy, she kept it this way for a few days before we had to wash it out.

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Heading Home

We had a fantastic dinner last night at one of the hotel’s special restaurants. My step-mom watched all the kids so we could go and enjoy. We tried earlier in the week with the whole group, but it was too loud for me and my son and the other kids weren’t crazy about the food. They also adore their grandma and wanted more time to play with her.

Unfortunately (and unrelated), sometime in the night, my brother and my niece got very sick and had to deal with that on the way home.

Here is a shot of my kids with their cousin while everyone was packing up to leave.
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The week flew by and we all had a great time. My daughter is already saying we should go back for 2 weeks next time. As for the adults, we are looking for somewhere within driving distance- perhaps Niagara.

Down Day

We decided to take it easy for our last day and basically hung out at the beach and by the pool. There may have been a few drinks involved…

My dad played beach volleyball with the staff team and other visitors.
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My daughter actually went to the kids’ club and colored, made a pinata, and then headed to the beach before rejoining us.
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My son got to hold 2 parrots (while having his picture taken)
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My SIL and J. and me and my step-mom set up camp in some shade while the kids played.
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Chichen Itza

Today we went to see the Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza. It was a 2 1/2 hour ride to get there and we arranged a private van for the 10 of us. The ride was not bad. The van was cozy, water was plentiful, and the kids enjoyed themselves with DS games and “MadLibs”. The level of crudeness and giggles were about what I expected based on my own childhood…so the torch has been passed.

Our kids had been looking forward to seeing the ruins from pictures I pulled up on Wikipedia and from some books we have. Unfortunately for us, all the pictures showed people climbing the pyramid and touching the ruins, all of which was not to be. Apparently an 85 year old woman fell off the pyramid and died and so it is now closed to visitors. Crap! Basically, we drove for 2 1/2 hours to go on a tour with a 5 and a 7 year old who were not allowed to touch or climb on anything and had to hurry to keep up with the group so we could hear our tour guide with a thick accent, all the while going down paths lined with vendors on both sides trying hard to sell us shiny, interesting things. Would not have been my first choice. In fact I may have muttered some things about layers of hell while we were there. To make it more fun, my son had sunscreen in his eye from the go, followed by dirt that was blowing at us the rest of the time. It was also very, very hot. We tried to make the best of it, but it was difficult. I took lots of pictures trying to capture the good parts and I bought a cool book while there hoping to catch more of the history of the place. It has overlays of what it probably looked like in the past which you lift up to see today’s remains.

We left earlier than the other grown-ups would have liked and I am sorry that our family was the main cause for that. If I would have known what we in for, maybe I would have made a different choice.

Pictures:
Iguana.
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Running toward the pyramid before it became clear we couldn’t climb it.
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My son wanting to look like he was destroying one of the ruins.
Take 1
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Take 2
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Statue.
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Vendors.
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Actually a really cool shot of a wall because we learned that the Yucatan Peninsula is basically flat. The entire city complex and all the roads were built up from the ground and then covered with white dust when it was built. The immense amount of stone and labor amazed me. That amount of rock is under the whole site.
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A “Cenote”. Long ago, bubbles of gas formed within the earth and when they grew large enough and close to the surface, the weight of the trees would cause them to collapse inward, exposing a waterhole. These were sacred to the Mayans because there are no rivers or lakes in this region, only underground waterways. They relied on the waters for life. This one has a 3 foot layer of algae on top.
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The wall of skulls.
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Did I catch them looking kinda happy?
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Tha ball court, which was awesome in size. You can see the ring way up on the side for the ritualized ball game that would have taken place. I thought this place would be impressive to my son as he has seen it in lots of shows and knows about the winning team’s captain being the one sacrificed.
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Where the priests would have been seated. The acoustics in the place were amazing and my son did go try out shouting and making echoes with the guide.
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J. and my son.
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Tourist postcard pic.
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Close Up.
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The kids.
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Free Day

for me and my son.

Everyone else set off to the Island Mujares to see what there was to see. The trip didn’t appeal to me with it’s mile walk to and then from the ferry and the non-description of what might be found there. Plus, sometimes we just need a “down day”.

We spent ours hanging out in the room, looking for shells on the beach, and swimming. My son also hung out with a new friend he made from Calgary, both swimming and playing DS.

The rest of the crew aparently walked and shopped. My daughter loved the ferry ride 🙂

Dinner tonight was another musical affair at the hotel’s theater- The Lion King. Though this show wasn’t as good as the pirate one, there were some stunning moments of acrobatics and the costumes were pretty neat!

Nemo Tour-Snorkeling

My son is into underwater animals. A lot. One of the goals for our trip was to see if we could get a chance for him to go snorkeling and see fish actually IN the water. At the hotel, they offered a “Nemo Tour”- basically a 3 hour tour (yes, a 3 hour tour) which included 45 minutes of snorkeling, 45 minutes going through a mangrove forest to an island to search for shells, and then 45 minutes on a sandbar in the ocean where the water is about thigh-high on an adult. The rest of the time gets used up from traveling in the boat to do all these things. When we talked to the guy setting up the tours, he said it was great for kids and we were planning on taking both kids with us.

My daughter decided she didn’t want to go after hearing some stories about jelyfish and sharks from the cousins and really wanted to stay with the rest of the family. J. and I decided we would still take our son and try it out. I am so glad she didn’t come. When they say it is 15 minutes out to the reef, it is at the boat’s top speed!

Pictures of us on the way out:

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Once we were there and suited up we had to drop into the water off the boat (no ladder for kids going in) and then get to it. The waves were a bit choppy and our son hasn’t ever worn a lifejacket that I know of, so it was a bit scary at first. He did get his face in the water and saw lots of fish. One of the guides fed the fish to get them right in front of us so we could see them close up. My son even got to touch one. Then the guides brought up sea stars from the bottom and showed us those too. My son’s mask and snorkel kept getting water in them and he repeatedly asked to go back on the boat quickly followed by “just one more time” to look some more. I think it was a pretty intense experience for him. Overall- it was well worth it, but I don’t think it was well suited to younger kids (despite the sales pitch).

The next part of the ride was interesting as we got to see some of the buildings on the island and other ships. We even saw a parasailer and some “pirate” ships. When we got to the beach, my son was intent on finding special shells to bring home for his friends. We took our time and found lots of different kinds. The other couple that was on the tour wih us showed us a little baracuda and a crab and we saw scores of tiny fish.
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The last part was the sandbar and by this point, my son was beat. He stayed on board and dined on pretzels and chocolate while J. and I swam a bit in the water. Then it was back to the hotel.

Action Pages

to my son.
Comic books to me.

My son and his cousin spent a good part of the night (and some of the next day)drawing up pictures and stories for their action pages. My son’s centered around an alien whose special power was beating people by saying “goo”. He eventually makes a friend, falls in love, gets married and has a baby alien- also with special powers who goes on to have adventures of his own seeing sharks and whales and causing mischief. My nephew’s centered around a boy “fartman” and his mom, who kill each other, come back to life, and fart on each other (much to my SIL’s chagrin). The boys thought they were hillarious!

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While they were busy at that, the girls used Wikki Stix to create.

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The Market

Today we all headed to a local market to shop and check things out. It was interesting and a bit overwhelming to take a 5 and a 7 year old into a place where people were so actively trying to get their attention and get them to buy stuff. J. and I went into it knowing we were going to pick up T-shirts for our family and we told the kids they could each pick something else out to buy. Everything (well basically everything) seemed fair game for favorites at first- shells, wiggling lizards and dinosaurs made out of wood, a HUGE sombrero, hand made wallets…

Eventually, my son made it quite clear that what he really, really wanted was a tiki mask. I am not sure if that is the official name or not, so I may have to look it up, but after talking with him about the size factor and that whatever he chose would need to fit in our bags to take home, he chose the smallest size they had and was really happy with it!

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My daughter didn’t show any obvious favorites- everything was good and she didn’t want to pick. Eventually J. asked her if she wanted to get her hair braided and she and my niece both got braids and beads. She was insanely patient. I think it took a whole hour to get it done.

While the braiding was going on, I grabbed a table at a restaurant and got Pepsi (in glass bottles) and some food for my son. I ordered breaded chicken thinking it would be as close to chicken tenders as we might see on the trip. Instead it was a single huge flattened piece of chicken that had been breaded and cooked. He did try it cut up in pieces and he had a bunch of tortilla chips too. While we were eating, a Mariachi band came and sang “La Cucharacha” for us. My brain kept thinking about an NPR story on the song and thinking how it is funny that we sing it to kids because it is about soldiers during the revolution smoking marijuana.

After the girls were done, my kids both needed a restroom and luckily had learned enough Spanish to know how to ask where it was. We were led to 2 spiral staircases that went up into water-tower like tops. The bathrooms were up there!

When everyone had had their fill of shopping, we prepared to go get a taxi back to the resort. My daughter decided that now she did want to pick something out, so we rushed to go get one last thing for her. She picked out a wooden box with a glass jewel on top for keeping small treasures.

Picture coming soon.

Then it was off to the taxis. My step-mom picked out some handmade bracelets for all of the kids on the way there.

Here is my son showing off his new shirt and temporary tattoo and my daughter’s braids:

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Pirates

Tonight the hotel had something special in store for us- A “Pirates of the Carribean” dinner show! We chose a table right next to a rope ladder leading to the ceiling, hoping to see some action up close. The staff did not disappoint. The characters made their way all through the room, sword fighting and chasing and jumping on ropes while clips from the movie played on a screen behind them. They also did choreographed dances on a stage at the front of the theater. It was pretty impressive. The kids were riveted. When it was over, the kids got to join the cast up on stage and try out one of the dances. Very cool 🙂

Leaving on a Jet Plane

We left for Cancun Sunday around 6:00 AM. It woldn’t have been so bad except I had about 1/2 an hour of sleep due to stress and last minute packing. The drive and the flight went smoothly. Each kid got a window seat and had enough to do to keep them busy- drawing for my daughter, watching a movie on the DS for my son. The flight was direct so it only took us about 3 1/2 hours to get to Mexico.

Once we were there, however, we had to stand in fairly immense lines to get through customs and the baggage claim area. A drug dog singled out my bag and one of my step mom’s for food. I pulled out goldfish crackers and protein bars and pretzels and more protein bars until they laughed and walked away. Only later did I remember that I had beef jerky in the bottom of my bag! J and I then had all our bags searched when going through the x-ray part due to the randomizer. Basically each family pushes a button. If it turns red, they search your stuff. It was about 3:00 PM and I was insanely tired. At this point, one of the zippers on our bag broke and I thought I might crack and break down crying. I took it to my dad who figured out it was a double zipper and got it to work frm the other side. After we made it all the way through, the van to the hotel was waiting for us, so we set off for the Blue Bay Club. The drive took about 20 minutes and we passed all kinds of cool sculptures, shops, and the ocean’s shore as well as things TOO American like McDonald’s and Sam’s Club. I was glad we weren’t driving as there weren’t too many street signs nor apparently very much in the way of driving rules. Our driver was good and got us there safely.

The kids all wanted to swim as soon as we got there, but the grown-ups all chose food and getting into the rooms first, then swimming.

The kids LOVED the pool. My 2 haven’t really had much time in a pool with water that is taller than their heads. After getting acclimated, they were jumping in and figuring out how to manage when they couldn’t touch.

These picture are from Monday after we went to the market and shopped. The girls had gotten their hair braided and my son had gotten a temporary tattoo.

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A picture of the whole pool area:
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Sunday night, we played “Pick Picknic”, “SET”, and some “Go Feebas” in our room. Then the boys played with Legos for a bit. Everyone fell asleep easily 🙂

Twister is Hard When You Are Old

I picked up some more stuff at the thrift store for our trip as well as snagging a few more games and puzzles. Strangely, we did not yet own “Twister”, so home it came.

What an evil game! That is not to say that the kids didn’t like it. They both loved it! My daughter, though, spun very slowly so we had to hold the insane poses waiting for the next command (while I begged her to hurry). Here are the kids playing. No pics of us!

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Carnival

We skipped swimming today to start getting ready for our trip. While I went around sorting things into piles to take with us, the kids went around creating a carnival out of toys and games…

The kids created tickets out of blank notecards and charged $1 for 4 tickets. My daughter didn’t have a one dollar bill, so she hunted down 4 quarters.
Tickets:

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Prizes (stick puppets made by my daughter- there were animals, a dragon, and a pile of gold):

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It all started with an egg carton and some balls. The first row of the carton was worth 5 points, second row was worth 10 points, and the lid was worth 1 point. Points from games earned a different kind of tickets which could be traded in for prizes.

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The tweezer game. You had to get a cuissenaire rod out of a tiny box with tweezers without setting off an (imaginary) alarm.

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The quick erase game. My son would set the timer and begin drawer with dry erase markers. You had to erase as fast as you could until the timer went off. If you got it all the way erased, you won 3 tickets.

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Ball throw and the cookie shack 🙂 My son decided to sell his cookies for 15 cents each or 2 for 20 cents. My daughter bought some.

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My son created a tea cup ride for their stuffties. My daughter rented him her tea set for 50 cents. The animals had a blast.

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Another ball throw game.

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It was really fun to see them put the carnival together because not only did they use their imaginations to make everything up, they also used real numbers and money! Whenever we used to create games, they would make point values like 10,000 or 472 or a trillion…not so easy to add or count out.

By the end of the day, they had each made some $$$. J. and I had fun 🙂

My Grandma

The kids and I went to my mom’s today after gymnastics to see my mom, step-dad, and my grandma, who is staying there for a bit recovering from the inserion of a pacemaker. She looked much better than I expected and it was really great to get to see her. The kids liked talking to her also and are looking forward to a visit at her house after she is feeling better.

April Fools

This morning was filled with practical jokes from the kids. By the afternoon, I was quite ready for my dad and step-mom to take the kids for a planned trip to the zoo! J. and I had a bit of time together and took advantage of the chance to go out to eat without the kids. They came home in the late evening and said they had a great time. Thanks dad and Anne!