Sunday, November 30, 2008

About Our Yucatan, Mexico trip

Alright I'm giving a shot at trying to share some tidbits of our trip to Mexico. What a task! And a little overwhelming. There is so much that won't be in here and so much information about each place that I decided to leave out because of time constraints. Perhaps at a later time I'll try.

In brief, we went with Nate and Collete, stayed in Cancun the first night, four nights in Merida (at my parents vacation house) where we ventured out and visited ruins including Chichen Itza, Uzmal, Ek Balam, and Dz and swam in Ik kil (a cenote), and the last two nights in Tulum visiting the ruins of Coba and Tulum, and snorkeling at Xel Ha.
And that really isn't doing the trip justice. So many of the little, funny, things that happened can't all be included. Like the speed bumps that Chris kept launching us time we'll know what the sign is for topez (speed bumps) or the endless games of Hearts that we played and I lost each time and the look Nate gave me when I gave Collete her first "shooting the moon." Or experiences such as when we discovered Gorditas after a long day and bit into such delicious heavenliness.

Overall the trip was a huge success from gas prices dropping, the dollar going farther, great weather, good company, diversity in activity, doing most everything we wanted, not getting sick or getting in an accident and having fun. By the end we were all missing our kids and both sad and happy to be going home.

Highlights (not in any particular order)

1. climbing the Mayan ruins/pyramids at Ek Balam, Coba and Uxmal. I thought the steep climb was scary and thrilling. I loved seeing the view from up trees that seem to go on forever with no apparent civilization around. The fresh air was nice and felt like home. It was so peaceful and quiet as well.

this is the Coba ruin. Yes we climbed it. There I am below from the top.

2. swimming/jumping into the Cenote, Ik Kil. It was beautiful to see it from the top and then to jump in it was a real treat.
Cenote, Ik Kil close to Chichen Itza. Video footage to come courtesy of Collete

3. sleeping in a hammock on the beach (2 nights). The wind was loud and strong. It was a new adventure for me to sleep like that outdoors. Surprisingly I woke up without any body aches and it wasn't too cold. I was afraid of being slaughtered by the unknown which made it that much more exciting and was happily awoken by the sunrise, something I don't get to experience from the ocean very often or at all! This was the sunrise from Tulum.
This is what I woke up to in Tulum where Chris and I slept on a hammock on the beach.

4. no one got sick....even me. Any trip to Mexico where no one gets sick is a success, for me. This is the first time I've gone there and not gotten sick.

5. seeing/driving through the small, poor towns on our way to our destinations.....clothes being hand washed and hung to dry, huts, dirt floors, humble homes, the different colors on the houses, the people, their clothes, the city gatherings and festivities, people laying in their hammocks, peope hanging was all interesting and refreshing.
6. discovering new places. It was an adventure trying to find our way around, getting something to eat, seeing something for the first timetaken at Ek Balam
Some of the Indians getting set up to sell their good at Chichen Itza

7. rope walking. It was an activity we tried at Xel Ha. I had never done it before. It was a rope you held onto while you walked on one to try to get across. Harder than it looks. I love to get physical and this was a nice treat.

8. coconut tree climbing. I didn't know I had it in me. Another one of those hands on activities I love.

9. snorkeling/swimming/tubing in Carribean waters. It was relaxing, new, and fun. Seeing the fish and shells was an added bonus.
This was taken at Xel ha. The waters are part of the Carribean ocean but in it's lagoon where the water was much calmer and predictable. Nice for first time snorkelers like myself. I thought it much easier to do without a life jacket but wearing flippers and much more pleasant with goggles that don't fog up.The crew doing some last minute snorkeling before heading out

hammocks at Xel Ha. Not to mention the bike ride and wild animals in the forest adjunct to our bike trail, kayaking in black waters (literally), being able to hold beautiful parrots, tubing down the river, and all the yummy food and drink you could ever need in a day.

Some things I thought were indispensable on this trip:

1. Frommer's guide. Collette checked it out from the library and brought it along. It has info. that helped out alot on this trip; info such as driving tips, info. on the places we visited, maps, places to eat, etc. We used it on a daily even hourly basis.Frommer's guide. Highly recommend it for traveling. Thanks to Collete for it.

2. A rental Car. Having one was so nice. We didn't have to wait around for transportation and were solely self reliant in getting around. We visited tons of places and it was soooo nice to get up and go whenever we needed to, especially on our runs for food or supplies that we needed.

3. Chris' mad driving skills. If you want to drive in Mexico be prepared, it's no easy task and Chris was the mad man, hands down. We made it through without any incident

4. Nate's navigation talent with an outdated map. Anyone who can tell Chris where to go and not get chewed out has skills.

5. being able to speak/understand some Spanish. For the most part it was more convenient to be able to speak the language, but there were a couple of times I was glad to be able to communicate with the people.

6. bottled water

Fun discoveries:

1. Ek Balam was our first ruin we checked out. It was on our way to Merida after our night in Cancun. It is a ruin that we were able to climb and it was a steep one. It was fun to be there with friends

This is from the top of Ek Balam

2. Sorianas was a grocery store we went to often. We bought our Mexican pastries there for breakfast and other needed goods such as dinner supplies, Chris' gotta have pineapple, Nate/Collete's blue slush

3. Gorditas is a yummy fast food place in Soriana. After a long day at Chichen Itza and swimming in the cenote, we were all hungry and discovered Gorditas. They make little fluffy tortillas stuffed with a variety of Mexican favorites such as pollo pibil, beans/cheese, pork and green salsa. They even told me how to make themGorditas in Sorianas. Yummy. I finally succombed to eating Mexican food and not food I brought in my suitcase from the states.

Things I'm thankful/glad for:

1. good weather including lots of cloud cover that kept us cool

2. not the busy season
these lizards are everywhere
3. the humidity wasn't bad
This is on our walk to see the Coba ruin.
4. hardly any mosquitos
An alligator Collette spotted... amongst the many things she spotted with that eye for detail

5. that Nate/Collete like/maybe even Love Mexican food. It made things very easy
For the first two night in Merida I cooked dinner. I didn't eat it but I thought I needed to participate in dinner and this was the way.

6. Sack lunches, bottled drinks, snacks....we did alot of driving and sight seeing

7. lemon drops. these made the long drives a little tastier

8. we had no lines/crowds at the airport to and from. We even had our own aisle on the airplane both ways, not to mention the empty aisles around us. Alaska Airline rocks.

9. gas prices were down which my our driving trip to and from CA. more affordable

10. that the dollar was stronger to the peso just in time for our trip.

11. Nate and Collete were fun to hang out with and were positive/upbeat and excited to be there.
This was taken on our walk at Progresso Beach

12. My parents house in Merida where we stayed for four nights and saved a bundle of money
My parent's house in Merida

13. Going on a kidless vacation with my hubby. Wow, that made for easy traveling.

A kissing us from the top of a pyramid in Uxmal

Some more pictures categorized Ruins:

Some more pictures categorized Beachy stuff:

A brief run through of the last 2 weeks

It's been a very busy couple of weeks on vacation for us. We drove to Vegas on a Friday and spent the night at my brothers before we headed to California the next day. We got the kids settled down with my parents before Chris and I headed for the Yucatan early Monday morning. We were there until the next Monday and reunited with the kids and my parents later that day. The next 2 days we spent at Legoland. We also were able to spend time with family during Thanksgiving break. We helped my parents move last Friday and began our drive back home that night. We crashed at my brothers again in Vegas and finished our drive home on Saturday. BTW, we drove two cars home. Thank goodness gas prices were down!

I'll be posting some pics of the trip really soon...maybe even later today.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


I took the younger boys out for a stroll near our home. They got some energy out while I tried taking some pictures with our new camera. After our little point and shoot broke it was like there was a hole in my life. I've been taking pictures for so many years almost on a daily basis, I sort of felt lost without one. I played around with the temperature of the picture above, basically made it warmer. I really like how it turned out but am a little disappointed that I still need to use a photo editor as much as I do; it means I have a lot of learning/work cut out for me. Fun though.

We watched Water Horse with the boys. It was a cute kid's movie. The movie that both Chris and I really enjoyed was Ironman. Robert Downey Jr. was great and I liked the storyline. I was pleasantly surprised. I thought I was going to be falling asleep but instead found myself wide awake on the edge of the couch the whole time.

I've been checking out this look a lot lately. Every time I see someone wearing skinny jeans and boots I can't help but stare and then try to figure out when I can go out shopping next. Can I get away with this look is my next thought? I don't have the legs for a skinny jean. The truth is my legs are warped. But, I'm happy to say that I found a pair of lucky brand jeans that aren't as skinny but can still be tucked into a boot. And I'm a very pleased woman right now: so pleased I may even clean the house from top to bottom. Last week L came down with a mild cold that has gone through everyone except for ME. L and A had the sniffles late last week, K and Chris however have been a little more dramatic about their sniffles. They've taken time off from work/school this week. I was hoping I'd have caught it by now so that I'd be good for our trip next week. You would think with all the sneezes I've felt on my skin I'd be sick myself. But no such luck. On my mission I had a companion that got influenza. I was waiting and waiting to catch it and never did. We were inseparable and I was very surprised. A couple years ago K got pink eye that L, A, Chris, and my mom in law got. But I never did. So, I'm crossing my fingers and hoping, just hoping for the same. We got the usual good news from K's teacher at parent/teacher conference. My favorite note is that he gets along well with his classmates.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Some more Thoughts on SSM

I've been thinking about some things on the SSM topic again. I think because of my upbringing, church beliefs, fear of the unknown, lack of knowledge, etc. that I am inclined to vote for a ban. If I were to measure myself on a scale it would be one notch towards that.

However, I can't help but feel I am covertly discriminating people because of this inclination I have. Many of the gay people I know are really nice, fun, dynamic people, not to mention educated and religious.

Many of you know that I joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (in the past nicknamed the Mormon church) when I was in high school. This choice has been a defining point in my life: one that has blessed me tremendously. Because of inspiration, opportunity, and perseverance, I've been able to accomplish much during these years since my conversion.

However, I've been feeling a push to step it up. My convert status can only take me so far. I need to be more proactive about my future and line myself up more with the teachings of my church/gospel. And I feel a greater need for personal improvement.

And so I ask myself, does feeling some sympathy/empathy for the gay community make me a bad LDS person? I've sat in conversations with very conservative people only to shrink in their presense because of my previous stance on SSM (basically not having a right to deny anyone of that choice). I didn't like how I felt, like I was a lesser person for not lining myself up with their opinion. Somehow I'd manage to say I feel differently and other times more boldly so.

The fact is that a ban on marriage is not going to change the gay lifestyle or prevent it from existing. About 1/4 of gay couples are raising children. Life is going on for them as we speak. Voting for a ban is definitely taking a stance on a belief. But I think more is required of me/us. And that would be to love our neighbor.

I don't think that gay people necessarily want us to say......hey I agree with your choice of lifestyle. And I will say that I don't agree with it. But, life as we speak is going on and I accept the fact that people are different than me/us.

And so I say that I'd much rather be confident with myself and teach my children love and respect with that confidence, and not fear and hate. I'm still inclined to be on that notch I mentioned above, but I think we all need to be prepared to step it up which may include to do things that we are asked to do but are hard to do such as love your neighbor.

Friday, November 07, 2008

A Taste of Winter

So it snowed a lot a couple of days ago. I had to whip out the shovel and remove snow from the walk ways and the drive way. I'm not a huge fan of the snow. I think it's great every once in a while but life here in this state means I have to deal with it a lot more than that. The kids, however, have been begging to go out and play in it.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

An Interesting Fact on the following link or read on

70% of African Americans backed Prop. 8, exit poll finds

12:10 PM, November 5, 2008

A lot of Obama/Yes-on-8 voters? The Associated Press exit polls show that African Americans and Latinos backed Proposition 8 in good numbers. Details here from AP:

California's black and Latino voters, who turned out in droves for Barack Obama, also provided key support in favor of the state's same-sex marriage ban. Seven in 10 black voters backed a successful ballot measure to overturn the California Supreme Court's May decision allowing same-sex marriage, according to exit polls for The Associated Press.

More than half of Latino voters supported Proposition 8, while whites were split. Religious groups led the tightly organized campaign for the measure, and religious voters were decisive in getting it passed. Of the seven in 10 voters who described themselves as Christian, two-thirds backed the initiative. Married voters and voters with children strongly supported Proposition 8. Unmarried voters were heavily opposed.

-- Shelby Grad

photo: Los Angeles Times

I thought this was an interesting find. Looks like African Americans, Latinos, religious people, married people, and people with children are against same sex marriage.

I'm amongst them. Having children was the huge factor for me. I use to be opposed like the unmarried voters who voted against Prop. 8, but I just feel this overwhelming opposition now since my children are getting older. I really feel it's a fight to raise kids these days. I don't need another thing.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


ObamaHistory made with Obama's win. I'm very happy for him and that this country has come a long way. I don't think it's because the white, middle age man, has become less into himself but because minorities in this country are emerging, speaking out, voting, and becoming a huge force during this time. I think having Obama run, pulled together the voices that are sick of being unheard. Someone worthy of their (our) support has finally arrived.

I don't know why anyone in their right mind would want to be the President especially since things are messy in the world. More power to you Obama. I pledge my support and hope things go well.

I just read a couple more of Shannon Hale's books. Princess Academy was good and I enjoyed it. She likes to have a hero, play on mystical speech, and set her stories in a time long ago. It's refreshing, an easy read, and fun.

But, my favorite, I think for the entire year of reads, is her Book of A Thousand Days. It is based on the fairy tale "Maid Maleen," set in medieval Mongolia, and Hale used Jack Weatherford's Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World to help with the writing.

I loved it for many reasons. The main character was smart, hard working, funny, and a person of integrity. She was true to herself and her mucker heritage. She faced many moral decisions and seemed to always make the right choice breaking one rule to obey another. It made for many interesting situations that led to an ending that I loved. I liked the format of the book, it was her journal and record of life as the maid of a royal Lady. Can I say again....I LOVED this book and it's the best one I've read all year. I'll say this much. She and her lady were shut up in a tower for seven years because her Lady refused to marry the Lord her father chose for her. It was soooooooo good! And I felt inspired.
Can I say I'm feeling grateful for a lot of things including my husband, each one of my boys, our health, our home, that we have food and drink, for my husband's job and work ethics, and our opportunities in life. I had a really good day with the kids yesterday and saw their goodness, their potential, and that they are really moving along well. It was one of those days we weren't running around like crazies but instead were able to enjoy one another and be together.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Playing Around

We went to the park on Saturday and took some fun pictures. It got old quickly and the kids "panned for gold" in the stream. They loved it. Here's a shot I took and played around with. I think I over did it.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Happy Halloween!

We were all kitty cats except for A who was a mouse and K who was a scary skeleton. BTW, Chris made the skeleton costume and can I say two things 1. what a man and 2. what was suppose to be an "easy" costume wasn't. Hello? And notice the cute little girl in a pink princess outfit. Umm....Can I take her home? What a cutie. I especially loved I wasn't too sheltered as a kid, we saw all the scary movies growing up!

Oh, and a BIG THANKS to Mrs. Ockey for lending me her camera!