Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Blah


As some of you predicted, my spring break steam is running out way too soon. We did a few things yesterday – like going to the Legislative Building and walking to Starbucks – but today we didn’t even leave the house. I did chase the two older children outside in the afternoon, but Neve stayed in her too-small Dora nightgown the entire day. Tomorrow we are definitely getting out. The house is constantly messy, someone’s always hungry, and the noise level is driving me a little nuts. The weather is also pushing me to the limits of my sanity; the snow is so depressing that I closed the curtains to block it out. I need a holiday.

At least they're smiling.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Spring break

Spring break is off to a running start. The kids made a list of things they wanted to do; here’s what we’ve done so far:

  • had friends over
  • went to a play at MTYP
  • went to a movie
  • Chloe had a sleepover at a friend’s
  • Chloe finally got to ride her new bike outside
  • went to friends’ for dinner
  • went to Claire’s
  • went to DQ
  • watched Raiders of the Lost Ark
  • Neve had a playdate at her friend’s

Plus I had a nap today and Spencer and I are now working on a 550 piece puzzle. I rented three movies today and I hope to watch one tonight yet. I love spring break. As Spencer put it, “I’m glad it’s spring break because it’s always so devastating getting up on Mondays.”

I’m desperately hoping for some scorching heat to melt all the snow this week. I promised the children the sidewalks would be clear enough to ride their bikes by the end of the week and I hate being wrong.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Eleven


Eleven years ago on this day, at this time, I was still pregnant. Eleven days overdue (there seems to be a theme) and waiting for a call from the hospital telling me to come in and get induced. They told me to be ready by 9:00 a.m. so I sat beside the phone (we didn’t have a cordless one then) with one hand on the receiver all day. They finally called around 3:00 and told us to come at 6:00 p.m. In hindsight this doesn’t sound that bad, but let’s just say I don’t look back fondly on that day or the ten days before that.

The doctor broke my water around 6:30 and contractions started shortly after. When they started the fetal monitoring, they weren’t happy with the baby’s heart rate so after a couple of hours we agreed to a C-section and baby Chloe was born at 10:51 p.m. We were fully expecting a boy (based on absolutely nothing) and were shocked that she wasn’t one. Nine months and eleven days wasn’t long enough for us to decide on a name, so two days later we finally came up with “Chloe.” I just double checked the time of birth in her baby book, and I noticed on the page where you fill in all the baby details like time of birth, weight, and eye colour, there is also this line: Skin Colour: _________. That seems odd now, but I guess it didn’t at the time, because I wrote “pink.” I’d like to see other people’s answers. Mauve, crimson or aqua, perhaps?

Anyway, the end result is a lovely girl who officially turns eleven at 10:51 tonight. If we’re being technical, it would actually be at 11:51 Winnipeg time, since Chloe was born in Toronto. We gave her a new bike for her birthday, which she never asked for and seems somewhat confused about. But Spencer’s bike is too small, so he needs Chloe’s old one, which means Chloe needs a new one. So really this is their birthday present combined but we’re not telling them that. It’s been snowing and sleeting outside so she can’t even ride it today, so it’s probably not going to rank as her most exciting birthday present ever. Fortunately, she’s gotten lots of other great things from friends and family and Spencer and Neve still have a little something to give her tonight. We had a little family party on Sunday and tonight she’s skipping gymnastics; I told her we could watch American Idol together but I just checked and it’s not even on. Oops.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Birthday dinner


In order to avoid birthday party stress like we had last year, we’re just doing family stuff for Chloe’s birthday this year. She wanted a sushi dinner, so we went to Ichiban of all places. I haven’t been there in about 20 years and I don’t know of anyone who has, so I thought it might be kind of lame. But let me tell you, it is THE place to be. I called earlier in the week and we couldn’t even get reservations at the time we wanted. When we got there tonight, every table was filled and lots more people were waiting for tables. When we left around 9:30, it was still packed. The chef was great with the kids – he got Chloe to help him cook and made the kids catch things he was juggling. He threw an egg to Chloe, which she dropped. The look on her face was priceless, and then she realized it was hard boiled. Later, he did the same thing with the table beside us, but their egg was raw and splattered on the floor. It stayed there for quite a while; I was just waiting for someone to step in it, but sadly no one did and it was eventually cleaned up. The food was great; much better than I was expecting. Low expectations are the best thing ever.

Neve was quite freaked out by the whole cooking-right-in-front-of-us thing, which is probably a sign I should cook more often. She made friends with the kids at the next table, so she had a good time. Spencer told me the other day that he’s embarrassed to go places with Neve because she always starts talking to strangers. I see his point. On our way out of the restaurant, she stopped and pointed to a woman wearing a sparkly top and said, “She’s super fancy!” Luckily she said it in an admiring way and the woman laughed.

Spencer loved every minute of the dinner; I’m so sorry I didn’t take a picture of his ear to ear grin. He especially loved the part when the fire flared up. The chef joked that he added a few drops of gasoline, which Spencer thought was hilarious. Chloe loved it too; they sang happy birthday (well actually we did, with the help of one waitress) and gave her a free dessert, so she felt pretty special. And it was definitely more fun than a kids birthday party. At least for me, and isn't that what really matters.

Friday, March 20, 2009

How Mexico is different than Canada

What a difference a week makes
In Canada, the police don’t shoot squirrels in front of tourists.
In Mexico, they do.

Dale and I were out for a run one morning when suddenly we heard a loud gunshot. We were running right by a tree and the branches rustled as if something was falling. I guess if we were from a war-torn country we would have hit the ground or taken cover, but we just stood frozen in our tracks (except for our heads, which were spinning around to see where the shot came from). Then we saw a little police station across the street with three policemen standing outside. One of them was holding a big rifle. They weren’t gesturing at us or anything, so after a while we just continued on our run with our hearts pounding. On our way back, we stopped and looked at the ground around the tree and saw a dead little squirrel lying there. Can you imagine the outrage and the inquests that would take place if that happened in Canada? I told Dale we should march over to ask the Mexican police what they were thinking, but he didn’t think that was the best idea he’d ever heard.



On a different note, below is a photo of Chloe at the science fair. The judges seemed satisfied with my project. I looked around at all the projects and felt guilty whenever I saw ones that were obviously done by the children themselves. There was a wide range – from projects that looked like they’d been done on the way to school that morning to others that were professionally perfect. So glad that’s over for another two years.


The gods must be smiling on Chloe. What are the chances of Wacky Hat/Hair day falling on the Tuesday after your parents bring you a sombrero from Mexico?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

No speak-a Spanish


I’ve been resisting getting back to regularly scheduled life after our holiday, but I’m slowly getting there. The maid hasn’t come to clean our room or stock my mini-fridge since we got home, so I guess I’m eventually going to have to do it myself. I sure wish someone would make a flower petal arrangement on my bed. Not being on vacation sucks.

I have a few vacation blog posts in my head, but they seem to be staying there. I will keep trying to post pictures and stuff, because I know how riveting other people’s trip pictures are.

Many of the resort staff spoke English well, but I was surprised by how many didn’t. It would have been great to know some basic Spanish; the little I learned from Dora didn’t do the trick. Fortunately the friends we were with knew a lot (at least compared to me) which came in handy several times. But there were still communication issues, even with the workers who spoke English well.

For instance, Manitoba is in the same time zone as where we went in Mexico (Huatulco), but Manitoba switched to daylight savings time on the Sunday we were away. There was some confusion as to whether Mexico had a time change as well; our Signature Vacation rep referred to it at the resort orientation on Friday but others said there was no time change.

So I went and asked the front desk guy as clearly as possible, “Is there a time change in Mexico this weekend?”

“Yes,” he said.

I asked, “So right now, it’s 10:15?”

“Yes,” he said.

I’m not sure what he thought I meant, because it turns out there was no time change in Mexico. I know time doesn’t really matter when you’re on vacation, but we were going on an excursion the next day and didn’t want to miss the bus.

When we came back from our excursion day, our room (#420) was no longer on the 4th floor. When we got out of the elevator on what used to be the 4th floor, it was now the 5th floor. We thought the elevator was broken, and it took a while to realize that they had re-numbered the floors (starting at zero instead of one) and you had to press "3" to get the elevator to what was formerly the 4th floor rooms. I'm guessing they'll eventually change the room numbers, but it was confusing for a lot of people, especially after a rum punch-filled day. There was no notice or sign mentioning this, but there was a sign explaining that one of the elevators was closed for renovation. At the bottom it said, "Thank you for your comprehension." Hmmm.

We got a kick out of some of their other signs and other English translations.


This is the label on a hat Teresa bought.


Notice the words on the right: We won't cheat you too bad. I have a feeling they weren't trying to be clever.



This one's hard to read, but it's a sign for a restaurant. The restaurant name is secondary to their safety claims. They care more of my health than of their brand recognition. At the bottom I believe it says: Health, safety and confidence in handling of food. Why does that make me nervous rather than reassure me?

Next time (maybe): How Mexico is different from Canada

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Wish I was there


Holã! I started a blog entry earlier today, but I’m still in holiday mode and am not accomplishing anything significant. We got home around 11:00 last night and my skin is already peeling, the tan is fading and I forget how a pinã colada tastes. My legs are not pleased about being trapped in denim for the first time in over a week. But that’s okay, because it was the best vacation ever. Since I’d never been to Mexico before, I was worried that my expectations would be too high, but I can honestly say that pretty much everything was even better than I imagined. That may mean I just have a poor imagination, but at least I’m easy to please. We were so happy with everything – our rooms, the food, the staff, and the resort in general was amazing. The weather was my dream come true – sunny and mid to high 30’s every day, with the humidity making it feel like 40 degrees. But there was a gentle breeze coming off the ocean so you didn’t feel like you were suffocating. It was very hard to leave, but it’s just as well. I don’t know if I could have sucked in my stomach much longer. Consuming four times my usual daily caloric intake definitely took its toll. Thank goodness there were enough chubby tourists around to make me look almost anorexic. That’s definitely an exaggeration, but it is fair to say our group was one of the youngest and fittest there. And believe me, I’m not that fit.

It is somewhat nice to be home, although I expect the novelty will have worn off by tomorrow. It is always nice to sleep in your own bed and shower with your own mildew. The children were sleeping when we came home and it was exciting to see them in the morning. Well, Neve came to our room in the night already and proceeded to tell us every detail about her week. I finally convinced her to continue in the morning. The kids were thrilled with the souvenirs we brought – Chloe got her sombrero (she had put notes in our luggage telling us she loved us and that she really really wanted a sombrero. What were we to do?) and Spencer got a little knife which he is in awe of. He’s been waving it around all day and I’m shocked that no one’s lost an ear yet.

I’ll try to post more pictures, etc. in the next couple of days. As I said, I’m hanging onto the last of that holiday spirit and just taking it easy this weekend. It was so nice being away from my computer for eight whole days – I didn’t check my email once, except for my hotmail account to email the kids. I see some of you kept busy in my absence, guessing skin colours (I’m more like RGB 124-77-45), the number of drinks consumed and so forth. And I see Dan’s been busy taking cool shots for his photo-a-day series.

I guess I should go help Dale with supper and getting the kids to bed. Or I might just leave a few pesos on the counter for him and go sip a strawberry daiquiri and read my book.


This was the view we woke up to yesterday morning.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Anticipation

This week has been a blur. I’ve alternated between feeling like things are under control and feeling overwhelmed and wondering how I’m ever going to get everything done before our flight leaves. Some of the things on my list that I considered crucial at one point are no longer a priority. I’m slowly sneaking into holiday mode; I don’t actually care if everything gets done anymore. Life will go on just fine without me for a week. Well, I’ll still be living, just not in this country.

We will be at the airport in about 30 hours. Excitement is mounting. I am constantly squealing with delight on the inside, but I’m being careful not to talk about it too much in front of the kids. They are being troopers about it and only sometimes wistfully say, “I wish our whole family was going.” After I wrench the knife out of my wounded heart, I quickly change the subject. “Who wants marshmallows?” works most of the time. Luckily they are pleased with the child care arrangements in place and will completely forgive us if we bring them cheap souvenirs. Chloe really wants a sombrero. Help.

I am looking forward to seeing the ocean, reading, soaking up the sun and feeling warm to the core of my being, drinking fruity drinks, wearing summer dresses and flip flops, and not looking up when I hear “Mom!” I’m also looking forward to not having a little person come to our room in the night; and if that does happen, I can just call security. (That doesn’t work at home. Our alarm company hates that.) I’m excited about going snorkeling, not looking at my watch, hanging out with friends, and seeing and experiencing a not-too-touristy Mexican town. I will miss my children, but it feels good knowing that they will be well cared for, happy and carrying on with life as usual (probably better) thanks to their beloved Grandma and our capable, amazing babysitter. I can’t wait to be excited to see them and hug them and kiss them again and have a newfound (if short-lived) supply of patience, love and perspective.

I wish you all a wonderful week. I will think of you as I gaze at the moon in the Mexican night sky and see its reflection in the ocean; knowing it’s the same moon you will see (minus the ocean reflection). Just kidding, I made that up. I probably won’t be thinking of anyone but myself. :)

See you in a week, unless we decide to give up all our earthly possessions and live in a hut on the beach. I might learn to do those tiny braids and Dale can walk around with a monkey on his shoulder and pose for pictures with tourists. Send the children; they can sell sea shells or something. Things are getting silly; I’m talking in tongue twisters now. I should have quit two paragraphs ago. Love you all!