Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Fiesta in Mexico

We just got home from a fun, adventure-filled week to Puerto Penasco, Mexico.  My dad got all of us a suite at the Mayan Palace so we could all celebrate my mom's 70th birthday together in paradise.  We decided we were up for the adventure and 14 hour car ride to Rocky Point.  After some last minute passport applications and minor car repairs we were good to go (although our car wasn’t as good to go).  People keep saying we were crazy to drive to Mexico but it really isn’t that far and it beats paying $4000 to fly 8 of us there.  We caravanned down with my brother, Chad’s family and actually enjoyed the ride down with a quick over nighter in Phoenix.  At separate Marriott Springhill Suites.  Good to know, for future reference,  they have a few of those in Tempe for the next time we try to coordinate hotel stops together.

We made it to the resort on Sunday afternoon.  Just enough time to unpack, sit around the pool and go into town (hour drive roundtrip) for dinner.  

The good thing about going out for dinner in Mexico is that you get balloon art, guitar and singing serenades (minimal $5/song post song charge), windshield washing and bracelet shopping all at your restaurant table and all without asking or really wanting.

It just wouldn’t be a 70th birthday celebration without custom shirts and there is no bigger Utah Jazz fan than my mom so “Mrs. Jazz” fit perfectly.  Everyone at our resort kept asking us where “Mrs. Jazz” was so they could wish her a happy birthday.  When we were asked the significance behind the name we were tempted to make a great story about how she’s an amazing jazz singer or give them jazz hands.

The front of the shirt was a childhood picture with the words “You Gotta Love It, Baby!”.  Another Utah Jazz reference.

We spent the day around the pool and at the beach.  Grandma got to escape the afternoon heat for some rest and relaxation during a birthday massage.

The birthday girl! 
The first of many group pictures from the day.

If Morgan is happy then the trip is considered a success.  She loved every minute of it! She couldn’t get enough of the swimming pool or beach.  She made everyone smile with her “adios amigos” and “gracias”.

It’s not a trip to Mexico without braids.  This lady drove a hard bargain and wouldn’t budge on her price.  $25/each girl.  So nice to not have to worry about doing hair for a week.  I wish we could do this for Morgan but it would total torture to get them in and take them out with her extra sensitive scalp and aversion to having her hair touched.

I made the kids stop for this picture so I could have one of them all together.  Jack and Ryan look thrilled!  Mia is always ready to give her best pose and smile.

A few more group shots.  At sunset.

We ended the birthday with a Mexican fiesta.

And every Mexican fiesta needs a pinata.  The pinata was full of candy with life events (from Grandma’s life) taped to each candy.  The kids each picked a candy and read the event and guessed how old Grandma was when that happened.  Then Grandma told us the full story behind each story.
We ended the night with a DVD highlighting her life in pictures and video.  And a scrapbook from all of the grandkids with a birthday letter and pictures of them together with Grandma.  It was a late night and grandpa had us booked for an excursion first thing the next morning so it was a rushed birthday song and cake and then off to bed.

My dad surprised us with an excursion to St. George island (“Bird Island”).  We took a catamaran out to the island and got to kayak, snorkel and boat around the islands.  There were sea lions everywhere! and birds/pelicans.  It was the highlight of the trip!  Thank you Dad!!!

Gavin always likes to surprise us with his wardrobe choices.  I was worried he would pull out his Mexican tassel shirt that he bought a few years ago (the one he wore with his porn ‘stache) but he surprised us all with his: “Forecast for Tonight: Beer, Low Standards, Poor Decisions, Beer”.  Fitting for Mexico if we actually drank beer.

The sea lions were everywhere.  Right next to our boat.  Swimming up to the snorkelers.  Swimming under the kayaks.  It was awesome.  And stinky.

They had a game of musical chairs on the ride back to Rocky Point.  I never realized how competitive Mia is until I watched her play this game.  She was the one short of a chair so she just grabbed the chair out from a boy as he was sitting and sat down on it while he fell on the ground.  She was all smiles when she won and got to drive the boat.  The boy came up to her while she was driving the boat to let her know she cheated.  She refused to make eye contact.  Just kept smiling as she looked out to the horizon and drove the boat.  She gets this from her Uncle Chad.

Jack and Ryan loved water aerobics and water volleyball.  I wondered why they were so excited about the water aerobics until I spent a minute watching them.  They spent the whole time splashing everyone around them with every move.

Mexican Bingo.

We decided to start home early so we could get home in time for kids to get caught up on homework and have time to unpack and rest up before the week.  We made it about an hour, about 2 miles from the border, before the transmission went out on our SUV.  I asked some locals if they knew of a mechanic nearby.  The first lady I asked let me know she didn’t speak English.  I let her know that’s why I asked her in Spanish and NOT English.  The next group I asked pointed, with hesitation, to a house just around the corner.  We drove to a house with a make shift garage that had a line up of cars.  We waited for the mechanic.  Luckily my brother was with us, who speaks Spanish well enough that people don’t think he’s still speaking English, and helped us talk to the mechanic.  He thought he could have our car fixed by the next afternoon.
After some math calculations on another customer’s car, he gave us his final price of $530 to repair our transmission.  We knew we couldn’t get a deal like that in the states and weren’t excited about driving 20 mph for 200 miles to the next repair shop in the states.  It was a deal!

We asked the mechanic if there was anywhere nice and safe to stay since everything warns of the danger of border towns.  He told us about “el motel el sexo” and how it had every luxury and a pool and restaurant.  The name made us nervous.  Gavin repeated the name and they all started to laugh.  He wrote the hotel name on the back of the van (the one with our price quote), “Excelsior”.  Whew.

I wouldn’t describe this hotel as ‘luxury’ but they were nice enough to let us stay 4 hours past check out until our car was fixed, until to find out it still wasn’t fixed.  We got to know the shops around the border well.  We walked across the street to a gas station for breakfast.  They had a full kitchen and made yummy omelets and huge pancakes.  I didn’t see any non-Mexicans in this area for the 2 days we were there and everyone was so kind and helpful.

It was actually a fun adventure, full of memories, even though we were stuck with the same outfits and spent most of the time in our motel room.  The one luxury the hotel did have was wifi.  After no Internet for the first part of the trip, the kids were happy to play on their iPods, iPads and kindles.  

and parking lot futbol americano.

After a 2 day detour, we were back on the road and headed home.

Hasta la vista, Mexico.
Until next time!

P.S.  If you want even more pictures and details:  Hadley’s version of the trip.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

ObSEUSSed with the LORAX

The theme for Morgan’s 10th birthday was a no brainer. I asked her if she wanted to do a swimming party  or have her friends over to watch The Lorax.  Morgan is obsessed with The Lorax and quickly decided that’s what she wanted to do for her party. We saw the movie multiple times in the movie theater over the summer and now it’s her first choice to watch on the computer.  She watches it over and over (with subtitles, of course)and reads and acts out every line with the characters.


I was going to keep the party simple . . . a few friends over to watch The Lorax . . . since I had just had surgery and wasn’t sure I would be feeling up to a big bash.  Then I made the mistake of googling “Lorax birthday party ideas” and knew I had to try to do a few of them.  

First idea . . . homemade Lorax pinata.  This was a huge task.  I had no idea how time consuming this would be when we decided to do it.  The tutorial online said to use newspaper and glue for paper mache.  After going through 5 bottles of glue and not even half way done with first layer, I thought something wasn’t right.  Luckily my instagram girls came through for me and suggested flour and water, not glue!  It took a long time to dry in between layers and we started the project only the night before the party.  We needed three layers so it wasn’t quite ready in time for the party.  Hadley was my go-to-helper on this party.  She made it so we were able to get a lot done in a very short time.  

Hadley painted the pinata and put on the Lorax face a few hours before the party.  We realized a few minutes before the party started that it had dried and was ready.  Unfortunately we had already used all of the candy in the party bags and decided to just have a big Lorax hanging thing from the  swingset!

The biggest hit of the party was the cotton candy (aka Truffula Trees).  I ordered a cotton candy machine on Amazon after I read all of the great reviews but after several attempts, I was ready to send it back.  They were anything but fluffy.  Then I watched a YouTube video that showed the technique used with this machine and everything changed.  I give it raving reviews!  We had all of the cotton candy pre-made for the kids.  The kids LOVED making their cotton candy.  That is one thing I would change for a future party. . .  have one of the activities: making cotton candy (“truffula trees”).  

Our first cotton candy attempts.  Laughable (if it wasn’t the night before the party!).


TruffulaTrees:  mini cotton candy (on striped straws)
The Lorax:      candy mustaches
Cake: Lorax cake (with sinking right eyebrow)
The Lorax:      cheese puff balls
Brown Bar-Ba-Loots:  Gummy Bears
Truffula Seeds:  Watermelon Jellybelly 
Truffula Fruits:  Candy Dots
Humming Fish:  Swedish Fish and Goldfish crackers
Drinks:  Orange Crush


Candy Lorax mustaches for everyone!

The birthday girl!

After all of the fun of playing in the backyard, eating pizza, singing Happy Birthday, opening gifts and making more cotton candy and eating way too many sweets, we ended the evening with The Lorax and popcorn.

Happy 10th Birthday Morgan!