Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanks be

Even though Thanksgiving is now over, I still feel the spirit of the holiday because of our smoked turkey leftovers and our decorations.

We had my little brothers James and Joe over, as well as JB's little brother Scott. They are all still single, ladies! Max only wanted to eat the skin from the turkey (that's my boy) and Ben wanted to eat rolls. But overall, it was a great feast.

Here are a few things Max and Ben are thankful for:

-Milk and sippy cups
-night-nights (blankies)
-fun relatives with more energy than their parents
-band-aids (even if they don't have a "real" owie)
-ducks and geese at the pond
-other kids' toys at church
-goldfish crackers

JB and I are thankful for family, health, safety, our home, religion, and country; Jazz wins, salsa, a meat smoker, flannel sheets, naptime and chocolate.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Home Again

In the week that we've been home from vacation I've just been amazed at all the stuff my little guys can do. They seem to be growing so fast. Except Max was clingy the night we got home. He wanted to be held while I packed his suitcase at his Nona and Papa's house. Looks like I'm balancing a 5 year old instead of a 3 year old, doesn't it?
Ben just gets cuter and cuter. He now stands by himself all the time, and took a tiny step by himself Sunday, but then dropped back down again.

I can't believe he will soon be one year old. But I don't know what to get him for his birthday, or for Christmas. Clothes? Toys? We have so many already!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Grand Cayman (last cruise post, I promise!)

Our last port of call was Grand Cayman, which was also a stop on our honeymoon cruise five years ago. The day before we arrived JB and I celebrated our fifth anniversary.

Ah, could a week already have passed since this?

The stingrays are larger than we thought they would be. Probably because lots of people arrive every day on boats and feed them squid in the hopes of getting a picture (I'm to the left of the squid bucket below).

Not just any picture though. The tour guides said you have to kiss the stingray for seven years of good luck. So, we did it.

I'll never be the same.

After Grand Cayman we had another day of sailing back to Miami, which was actually rougher than the whole trip. I got seasick but JB was fine. Then last Monday we flew home.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Costa Rica-Part Two

I really loved Costa Rica. While others on the cruise ship all shuffled onto big tour buses, JB found us Juan. Juan took us all around that day and told us about the country. We went to the canals, a series of natural and man-made waterways that run north through the country. Notice: I'm the only one wearing a life jacket. I like to be safe, people!

We saw many animals lurking in the jungle beside the canal, like this iguana.A little kid who lived by the canal caught a baby alligator for a pet.

After the canal trip we were on the way to the zipline tour when Juan discovered a flat tire on his van. JB offered to help change it, but I don't think they had a spare. Instead Juan found a repair shop along Limon's dusty, rocky, bumpy, pot-holed roads. A guy there patched the tire and we were on our way. Watching him work made us laugh. They would never let you get away with a patch like that in the States! But with those roads, patching tires over and over is completley acceptable.

After the zipline, Juan drove us past the Dole and Del Monte pineapple and banana plantations and took us back to the ship. We made it back in plenty of time to eat, nap, call the boys, and eat some more. What a day!

Costa Rica-Part One

I'm dedicating a post just to the zipline portion of our time in Costa Rica. Let's just say it was awe-inspiring. We pulled into Puerto Limon early in the morning and had all day there. JB found a great deal on a zipline canopy tour that many people on the ship paid big money for. And I'm talking all kinds of people were zipping through those trees when we arrived. Big, small, old, very old, very big...etc. "You see?" said my lover and protector, "They love it. If they can do it, you can do it."
Notice the picture above. JB excited, me with the nervous "heh heh" kind of smile. You can't see it, but I'm gripping the tree. They harness you up, and attach you to the cable with lots of double protection. Then they tell you to hold on and you go flying.
JB went first and took a picture of me coming along. Then we switched:

That's him in the orange. We zipped along, stopping at 13 platforms high in the trees, and the cables varied in length from platform to platform. Sometimes you'd get going really fast, but if you twisted a bit you would slow down and not quite make it to the next platform. I had to pull myself hand-over-hand a few times to get within reach of the next platform's guide.
One time I was too far away, so the guide came out in his own harness, wrapped his legs around me, and pulled us both to the platform. "Bueno, cual es tu nombre?" I asked him and people laughed.
By the sixth platform I was done joking through my fear and was about to cry. I could see all around me that people were having a blast, no one was falling to their deaths, everyone was safe, the guides were quite strong and able, but I just couldn't shake off the jitters. I bravely kept sailing through the trees because that was the only way back to terra firma.
JB took a self portrait, because I never really liked letting go of cables/trees/the guides in order to hold the camera.
JB loved it. He had a blast. I felt bad at the end that I was teary-eyed ("I left my baby behind for this?!") because it really was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Looking back at it, it really was a rush. The jungle was beautiful and you could see the sea from high up in the tree platforms. But next time I may just cheer JB on from the ground.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Panama Canal

This was the highlight of our trip. The canal is such an amazing sight and experience. What a feat of engineering 100 years ago that still stands today.

We approached it from the Atlantic side, through the Carribbean Sea. You go through what's called the Gatun Locks. Three locks raise the boat in steps to eventually rise 85 feet from sea level, to the level of Gatun lake in the middle of the canal.
Huge doors swing open between each lock, and small cars on tracks (called mules) are attached to the boat by cables and they pull you along. The doors close behind you and the water flows in through the bottom to raise the ship to the level of the next lock, or the next step up.

The entire process took about 2 1/2 hours.

This shot looks back to the two locks behind us.

Once we reached the lake we stayed for a couple hours then turned around and came back out. Longer cruises go all the way across the man-made lake to the other side, then go through Milaflores locks until they go down to the Pacific Ocean.

They are building another canal to the side that's much bigger, because ships are much bigger today. Ours felt like it barely fit in the locks. We didn't see the Panama Temple though through the jungle. They told us it's more visible as you reach the Pacific side of the canal.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


After Cozumel and another day of sailing we reached Cartagena, Columbia.

We took a tour bus with a sharply dressed and well-connected guide named Raphael who took us to some of the tourist spots, including this very old fort.

It's a lot like the forts in San Juan, Puerto Rico we saw on our last vacation. The Spanish built forts and long walls hundreds of years ago to protect the cities from invading ships and pirates.

At each spot we went to I couldn't believe the young "entrepeneurs" who were peddling their wares. They were very persistent, and would follow you with their necklaces, watches, hats, t-shirts, bottled water until many tourists broke down and bought something. I took a picture with this woman in traditional dress, who wanted five dollars for the photo op but we bargained down. It's what you have to do.

We loved the walls and colors of the old city.

Back on the ship I showed off my necklace I bought for 5 dollars.

So far JB was getting tanner despite using sunscreen. I burned my legs a little but kept on the protection. We be pale people.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Cruising and Cozumel

It's a big ship, isn't it! Two pools, a movie theater, several restaurants. We set off on a Friday and after a day of sailing reached Cozumel, Mexico. We were supposed to go to Haiti but a tropical storm nixed that. So we settled for white sandy beaches, fish tacos, a chance for me to practice my spanish and JB to practice driving one of these:

After the beach we visited downtown where we bought two maracas for presents for the boys. Yes they are noisy! We saw this bug at Senor Frogs and couldn't resist (it reminded us of his mom and sister Sarah's bug).

Who can resist taking a picture like this one?

JB also found this sculpture. He had to wait for a toddler to finally crawl off for his turn to hang ten.
We walked the three miles back to the pier from downtown in the hopes of burning off some of the calories we were eating at every "all you can eat" meal on the ship. The town reminded JB a lot of Brazil where he served his mission. The trees, the streets, the storefronts, and the security guards at the front of bigger buildings.
We called the boys that night to check on them, and I told Max we had a present for him. He said "Bring it right now!"

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sunny memories

We are back! 10 days in the beautiful Caribbean waters.

Pictures and details coming soon, but here's a teaser:

-Jetskiing in Cozumel. JB whoops and hollers, goes fast. Mary laughs but clings to him, and daydreams she's in a movie.

-Zipline through Costa Rican jungle canopy. JB whoops, hollers and laughs, goes really fast. Mary clings to her harness, prays, cries, and daydreams she's back on solid ground.

-Swimming with Sting Rays in Grand Cayman. Both of us love it (after reassurances these creatures won't sting).

-Going through the Panama Canal. Awe.Some.

-Fish Tacos, Escargot, lobster tail, shrimp, steak, prime rib, chocolate everything. Four, maybe five pounds added.

But it was soooo goooood to see my sweet boys again this afternoon at the airport. They loved their time with their Nona and Papa, who took such loving care of them. But we are all happy to be home and together again.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Five Years

I offer the following tributes to my lover on this our fifth wedding anniversary.

Amazing Race
Babe, I'm so glad I'm on this race of life with you. It really has made me take a closer look at our relationship and realize there really is no one else I want by my side. Go get 'em babe!

Gosh durn it, I jist love ya more than a warm bowl o' grits and biscuits n' gravy. Yer more 'tractive than a potbellied stove on a cold night.

Like, I have the HOTTEST hubby for ETERNITY. I know others are hatin' on me for my tall blonde broker (or whatever he does at his stlyin' office with his hot ties on) but he's mine, back off sisters! Life is def tru bliss. Baaaah!

Sports Coach

Singing in the Rain
Our love will last till the stars turn cold.

The Office
JB introduced me to so many things. Pastuerized milk, sheets, monotheism.

Monday, November 10, 2008

A darling baby

I really am in love with this chubby, active, kissable, squawky, curious, smiley, giggly baby boy of mine.

Benjamin just amazes me everyday. Every discovery, new tooth, big smile, extra pound, and big smile shows me the wonder that is this new life.

He is this close to walking. But I don't practice with him. Crawling is fine for me for now! He cruises furniture, grabs at anything Max is playing with, and climbs on the dishwasher every time we load or unload it.

He loves his blankie. Loves it. Buries his face in it. Chews on it. Face plants onto it in his crib when it's time to go to sleep. Grabs it and holds it close when you go to pick him up out of his crib like, "We can't forget my blankie!"

He can't keep shoes or socks on. My husband and I are such shoe-lovers, we have some cute ones for him, too. But they either fall off or he pulls them off and chews on them. Or throws them. I carried him into church last Sunday and by the time we got to the pew I saw his little bare piggies. His shoes and socks were somewhere down the hall behind us.
He can't get enough of his older brother. He crawls around looking for him, follows him into the bathroom, and is right beside him if there's trouble to be had. He even likes to sit beside him on the couch for the morning watching of Barney or Hip Hop Harry.
His new nickname is Hip, or Hipster, because he loves to be right on my hip. He's a little clingy right now, either because of his age or because he's weaning and still wants to be close to me. As soon as I enter the door at noon he wants me to hold him. He is somewhere around 22 pounds so it's not easy, but he's such a cute ball of chub that I just love it.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Who's that sleepy towhead?

In the afternoons I give Max a quiet time on my bed with me while Benny sleeps alone in their room. I discovered many a time that Max was keeping Ben up, either by talking/singing/giggling at him or climbing into the crib with him. I'm too chicken to move Max downstairs to our spare bedroom there, because I think he would either get into our storage, laundry detergent, or program our TV funky.

I'll tuck Max in next to me with some toys or books, and warn him not to touch daddy's clock or my journal. Then I close my eyes and drift off. Sometimes Max will too, and that is true bliss.

True bliss came this week, in the form of an hour and a half nap for me, Ben and Max all at the same time. I woke up hearing Benny across the hall trying out his lungs. "Dah? Daaaahhhh?" I moved, and found Max asleep on top of me. All 41 pounds of him using me as a sort of mommy-body-pillow.

Later that night, I had a rough time falling asleep when it came time to go to bed. I blamed Daylight Saving Time, my long nap with a heavy toddler on me giving me a crink in my neck, and all the things on my mind. Oh no, not pressing items on my mind. Weird things that run through your head when you try to fall asleep.

Things like:

-I hope Julianne Hough gets better and comes back to "Dancing With the Stars."
-Will "Angels and Demons" be better than "The Da Vinci Code" on the big screen?
(I recently read this article and finally watched "The Da Vinci Code" last weekend)

-Must go to Costco and get milk. Soon we'll have a ton of milk in our fridge -- whole for Ben, 2 percent for the rest of us. Should I get 1 percent like Max's doctor suggested for the lower fat?

-Take the boys with me and JB when we vote, or go separately because of the rain?

-Must bake another chocolate cake from scratch again. I was proud of my first effort Sunday, with a recipe from a Hershey's cookbook my sister gave me.

-What to pack for me to take on my cruise; what to pack for the boys for their time at Papa and Nona's (I like to plan way ahead).

-How to avoid serious roaming charges when I call constantly to check on my boys.

-What's left on my list for my main squeeze for Christmas (again, planning way ahead).

-Will sleeping on my wet hair like this make it funny tomorrow (it did)

After lots of tossing and turning I fell asleep, and dreamed my co-worker quit in the middle of election day and I had to take over (funny hair and all) producing all the news shows as the results came in. Thankfully, that didn't happen.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Max the growing wonder

Max had a doctor appointment yesterday. I'd call it a well-baby checkup, but he's 3.3 years old. It was his first "big boy" appointment. I about melted when I helped him put on a little robe. When did my firstborn become such a tall guy?

When I say tall, I mean it. He's 41 inches tall and weighs 41 pounds. He's on track to be 6'3 and 220 pounds by age 18.

He got a flu vaccine, and I was preparing him for a shot. But they have a mist vaccine now, that squirts up the nose. Fantastic! No crying, no sadness. But he still got his surprise I promised him -- a pair of little scissors (blunt) and he's been cutting up scrap paper ever since. He also had his first eye exam, but got bored pointing out the squares, boats and hearts on the chart. He sat down on the floor and started coloring instead, still covering one eye with his hand.

When the doctor came in he cleaned his hands with the strong antibacterial stuff he always uses. The scent took me back to that first morning in the hospital after Max was born and his doctor came in to check him out. He remarked on the blonde hair, the features like JB's. The scent also took me back to when Max was three days old and we spent a night at the hospital with him on the strong billi-lights for jaundice. Then the whole week at home on the lights, taking him daily to the doctor's office to prick his heel and check if the jaundice was gone. The scent also reminded me of the few times we took Max in for ear infections last year.
I thought of the bumps and bruises, the occasional bleeding lip and the awful Christmas day when he was bit on the face by a dog. Thankfully now he only has a small scar almost two years later.
As those things popped into my head, so did relief that we have not faced anything worse. I'm so glad he's healthy and well, and developing normally. He meets all the milestones plus some for social, emotional and physical health and for that I feel so blessed.

Get ready for more emotion when I take Ben in next month for his 1 year checkup!