Monday, March 26, 2012


I love vacations and look for any excuse to get away and Christmas was the perfect opportunity.  One of the kids Christmas gifts was a family vacation -- a cruise to the Mexican Riviera.  We were originally going with Gavin’s parents and some friends and their kids.  Our friends had a change of plans and ended up going a month before we did.  I was disappointed and wondered how the kids would do without any friends and just each other.  It ended up being perfect.  I loved having just our little family and the grandparents.  It was fun all being together and everyone got along really well.  As my teenage boys get older, I feel like I see them less and less.  They prefer hanging out with their friends on the weekends.  When they are home, they’re usually in the basement with friends and playing Xbox.  So it was fun just to have each other for the week.  No friends.  No cell phones.  No computer.  No Xbox.  Just family.

The day before the cruise, we drove straight to Long Beach, California.  The kids did great, we only had 2 short stops and made good time.  The ride to our destination is always so much easier than the ride back home.  That one seemed to last forever and the kids started fighting and screaming about 5 minutes into the long ride home.

We spent the night at the hotel and had a few hours before we needed to get on the ship.  We decided to explore downtown Long Beach and The Pike area.  It was a beautiful day, sunny and blue skies.  The kids tried out the ferris wheel and carousel at The Pike then it was time to board the ship.

We made it through security.  Got our pictures taken for our room keys.  Found our rooms and explored the ship.  We didn’t waste any time.  We unloaded our stuff and found the buffet for a little snack.  We spent the first two days at sea.  Eating, sleeping, hottubbing, and playing.  The younger kids loved the kids club and wanted to spend every minute there.

We had a ‘girls room’ and a ‘boys room’.  The girls got the bigger, nicer room.  The boys got the smaller, no window room.  We appreciated their generosity.

Our first stop was Cabo San Lucas.  Now that cruise ships don’t go to Mazatlan anymore, they dock in Cabo for two days.  We spent the first day at Lover’s Beach.  It feels like you’re inside a postcard.  Very picturesque.  It’s not covered with vendors and out on it’s own, a little island.  We took a water taxi out to the beach and spent most of the day.  It started to get windy in the afternoon and colder so everyone was ready to head back to the boat a few hours early.

“Oh yah!”  This girl loves the beach!

Mia loves to find ‘treasures’ on the beach.  For some reason, most of her treasures involve alcohol.  Last year it was an empty mini bottle.  This year . . . cerveza with a little something extra in the bottom of the bottle.

Griffin was really curious about the ‘orange’ in the bottom of the bottle.  “Mom, can we get this orange out and eat it?"

We spent our second day on a busier beach in Cabo.  This was the warmest day of the week and the kids had so much fun playing in the water and sand.  There were also lots of vendors so Mia got to fulfill her only wish for the trip.  Braids.  When we were on the water taxi on our way to the beach Mia asked me if we were going to the “braids beach” since there wasn’t anyone doing braids on the last beach.  We signed her up with the first lady that approached our taxi.  Turns out the first choice may not always be the best.  Mia’s braids were really loose and started to fall out after one day but she was happy as can be.

The boys fell for the personalized bracelets again.  They like to get a new one every year to replace the one they lost the year before, usually within the first week of being home.  Griffin got “Utah Jazz” on his, Ryan “Bengals”, and Jack “Cabo San Lucas”.  Gavin got “I love Heather” or maybe he didn’t get one.  Not sure.

We were serenaded by this local band.  Music was okay.  Dancing not so much.

Griffin saw this pirate the day before and made sure to get a dollar on the second day so he could get his picture with this real pirate!

It was so fun to have Nan and Papa all to ourselves for the week.  They didn’t even act like they cared when we all joined them in the fancy dining room for dinner.  They were patient with all of the melt downs and messes.  And the kids loved being with them too.

Our last stop was Puerto Vallarta.  It was a beautiful  cloudy, cold day.  We spent it at a resort, enjoying their pools and pina coladas.  

Went to the new boardwalk to sightsee and shop.  The kids loved all of the souvenirs and searched for the perfect gift to take home.  Sombreros, key chains, guitars, sunglasses, purses, jewelry, ponchos.  The possibilities were endless.

Jack, Hadley and Griffin chose ponchos.  Now that we’re home, I’m wishing we would’ve gotten these for all of the kids.  They’re perfect for that in between weather.  So are hoodies but look how cute they look in them!

Even though the sun was hidden behind the clouds most of the day, it delivered moments before heading back to our ship with a beautiful sunset.

The last two days were spent on the ship.  Eating and eating.  The kids loved the endless food and options.  We finally had to put a stop to room service after too many juice spills and food all over the beds and floors.

The highlight for most of the kids was the endless supply of soft serve ice cream cones.

We made it to the formal dining room, The Black Pearl, a few times too.  Jack wanted to be adventurous and tried alligator, escargot and frog legs.  I tried the chocolate molten lava cake.  Every single night.

You see all kinds of people on cruises.  And if you’re lucky, you just might get to see Lady Gaga.

The week went by way too fast!  I wasn’t sure how a cruise would work out for our family, but it was perfect!  It was so good that I’m already ready to start planning for the next one.

Cruise Highlights:

We drove home and arrived home to this . . . SNOW and a flag for President’s Day.

Adios Mexico.  Adios Braids.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

World Down Syndrome Day

Today is World Down Syndrome Day.  It’s celebrated on March 21st because Down syndrome happens when there are 3 copies of the 21st chromosome (instead of two copies) = 3/21.  I am celebrating WDSD by going to Morgan’s 3rd grade classroom today.  I plan on talking to her class about Down syndrome.  I also want them to understand their role in Morgan’s education and how their example and friendships are constantly teaching and helping Morgan.  It’s nice to know that all around the world, we are all celebrating together!

ALL life should be celebrated!