Monday, January 17, 2011

Coming Summer 2011

Baby Wood #2 is due June 6, 2011, and it's another boy!  I was very sick for the first few months, but am feeling much better now.  We are very excited for this new addition to our family.   

Christmas & New Year's

It was really fun this year to have Isaac be so aware and so excited about all things Christmas.  The lights, the Christmas trees, decorations, Santa Claus, presents, baby Jesus, and especially the treats! 

Isaac moved to a new school when he turned three in August, but his old school ICEC has a Christmas party every year where they invite all of their former students.  Santa Claus comes and lets each child choose a wooden toy (made and donated by a local retirement home).  Maybe we are bad parents, but we had never taken Isaac to see Santa before this.  I was a little nervous how he would react to sitting on Santa's lap, but Isaac was totally fine with it!  

We always love going to Fashion Island to see the enormous tree.  Isaac loved climbing on all of the giant presents and seeing the huge ornaments the size of his head!

We had some free tickets to Knott's Berry Farm that we needed to use before the end of the year.  Charlie had a few days off the week of Christmas so we took advantage of the first non-rainy day we'd had in weeks and went to Knott's.  It was a little crowded and Isaac could only go on the Camp Snoopy rides, but he loved it.  Especially the little kid sized roller coaster and the "Big Rig" ride.

A few nights before Christmas we attended a neighborhood block party.  The highlight of the party is Santa Claus, who comes to town with a full police escort.  Here is Isaac watching all of the police cars, fire engines, and ambulance coming with their lights and sirens blaring.  He was in heaven!

Then Santa goes inside and calls up each child by name and gives them a present (provided by the parents).  Isaac was thrilled to get a new Thomas train!

Around Thanksgiving time when all of the toy ads started coming out, Isaac saw a picture of Stinky the Garbage Truck and was immediately convinced that "Stinky" was the one toy he wanted more than anything for Christmas.  For those not in the know, Stinky is an obnoxious robotic trash truck that talks and eats trash.  And Isaac loves it.

I don't have any pictures from our family Christmas gatherings.  We ended up hosting Christmas day at our house, and things got a little crazy so I never got around to pulling out my camera.  My brother Brian, and my sister Sandy and her family came over and we had a nice (though some what chaotic) time eating, opening gifts, and visiting with each other.

Here is Isaac later that evening playing with his new airplane & airport set.  This was probably his favorite gift and he is still playing with it everyday.  I guess it's appropriate for a kid who's been on dozens of airplanes in his short life.

For New Year's weekend we were really excited to have my good friend Amy and her husband Paul come and visit us.  Once again, I was completely neglectful when it came to taking pictures, but luckily I was able to steal a few from Amy's blog.

We went for a beautiful morning walk/run on the Newport Peninsula, ate plenty of good food, got a baby sitter for New Year's Eve and enjoyed dinner overlooking the ocean at Las Brisas in Laguna Beach, visited the Christmas tree at Fashion Island, enjoyed cupcakes at Sprinkles, a bonfire at the beach, and spent a relaxing Sunday playing games, eating, and chatting.  We had such a great time and hope that they come back to visit us soon!

And now here we are halfway through January, and back to our normal routines.  Isaac is happy to be back at school and we have been enjoying warm sunny weather the past few weeks.  We have some exciting things coming our way in 2011 and we are looking forward to a wonderful year!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Thanksgiving in Cancun

The problem with waiting so long to write about our trips and other things is that I start to forget a lot of the details.  Here are some photos (though not in any particular order) and a quick summary of our trip to Cancun. 

It is a little sad to miss the big Thanksgiving holiday in the US, but we always find that it's a great week to travel because Charlie already has a couple of days off of work.  It also does not seem to be a peek tourist time so we were able to get a fantastic rate on an ocean front villa at the Cancun Hilton.   It was so convenient to be able to walk right out of our door and onto a gorgeous beach.  The pools were fantastic and by far our favorite thing about the hotel.  There were dozens of pools of various depths and water temperatures, so there really was something for everyone.  

We were a little disappointed by the food on our trip.  I suppose it should have been no surprise that staying in the heart of Cancun's tourist district would result in a plethora of over-priced restaurants with mediocre food, but we were still hoping for a little more authentic cuisine and for more reasonable prices.  We never had a meal (even street tacos) that cost less than $30.

I know there are lots of couples who would never be able to agree on a beach vacation because one or the other would have a very hard time spending a week relaxing and not doing much of anything.  Luckily Charlie and I are both happy to waste away days at a time laying on a beach or by the pool.  And though Isaac does a little less laying and a lot more playing, he seems pretty content with it too.  It took a day or two before he warmed up to the idea of going in the ocean, but he ended up loving it!

We had a rental car so we opted to do our own tour of Chichen Itza rather than the big tour bus, all inclusive, guided tour thing.  And we were so glad that we did!  We arrived early - before all the buses - and hired our own tour guide.  It was very hot and humid that day and Isaac was not being very cooperative.  I ended up carrying him most of the way and did not hear much of what the guide had to say.  Also, someone left the memory card for our camera in the computer back at the hotel so we ended up buying a disposable camera from a souvenier cart.  Gosh, and I thought the photos from my little point and shoot camera were bad!  But I guess these are better than nothing.

One thing that I did catch and thought was cool, was when we were standing in a certain area near the large pyramid the guide had us clap our hands and it made this really cool echoing sound.  It is kind of like a weird chirping noise that is supposed to be some sacred bird... and yeah, that's about all I remember.  I found it fascinating though that they were able to engineer those kind of acoustics in an ancient stone temple.

Isaac's favorite part of the tour was the end!  Here he is wearing Charlie's hat and drinking his diet coke. He also liked all of the vendors selling various knick knacks.  He ended up with a little stone turtle and a ceramic Chichen Itza pyramid.

I mentioned the pools earlier, but here are a few more photos.  Isaac seriously LOVED the pools.  He could have stayed in there all day long.  We loved that most of them were shallow enough that he could play in there by himself when we were ready for a break.  He also really liked going in the big infinity pool and having us tow him around in his fish floatie.

Luckily our hotel was at the far end of "the strip" - which is what we ended up calling it because it was just a little too Vegas-ish for our taste - away from all of the mega hotels, malls, and chain restaurants.  We did head down there most nights for dinner though.  We got suckered into paying some guy a few pesos to take a picture with his monkey.  Isaac loved it and Charlie was desperate for some hand sanitizer!

Here are our $30 street tacos.  The cheapest dinner we had, but I thought it was also one of the best.

We never plan much of an itinerary for our vacations until after we arrive at our destination.  Especially when traveling with a child, we prefer to be a little more laid back and have the flexibility to do what we want and not feel rushed or over-scheduled.  So one day Charlie decided it would be fun to take Isaac to this little zoo called Crococun.  This ended up being super fun!

I doubt there is anything quite like this in the US because there would be too much risk of a lawsuit from an animal bite or something.  Here we are holding a baby crocodile. Charlie & I went to a crocodile place near Miami a few years ago and there was no way they were going to let you get anywhere near touching one of those things!  Well at Crococun, not only do they hand over the babies, they walk you right into their swamp where you are just inches away from the full grown crocs.  I think I kind of prefer the Miami version.

Isaac loved everything about this place, but one of my favorite things was when they brought out the snakes.  The guide asked if Isaac wanted to hold it and Isaac did not hesitate for even a second!  It was so funny to me how he was completely comfortable having this snake around his neck.  And then a few seconds later it was not so funny when it ended up around my neck!

We also got to feed a lot of the animals.  (If you notice the ugly camoflouge bag I am carrying in some of the photos, it is not mine.  They give you a bag to put your animal food in so the monkeys don't jump out of the trees and take it from you!)  We got to feed these deer who were not shy at all, and they would all surround you begging for carrots, sunflower seeds, and banana peels.  To feed the monkeys you were supposed to hold a grape in your closed fist and then they would come down and pry your fingers open to get it.  How am I ever going to take Isaac to a regular zoo in the US again?

Here's a few more random photos.  We stopped at a roadside stand for drinks one day.  Charlie came back with this thing in a bag for me and I was totally confused.  Apparently my Fresca soda came in a glass bottle and the glass is very expensive for them, so they save the bottles and re-use them.  Thus my drink was poured into a plastic bag with a straw.  Who knew?  Charlie said he drank like this all the time on his mission in Honduras.

On Thanksgiving Day we had dinner at a Mariachi place overlooking the ocean.  This was another one of the better meals that we ate.  And we all really enjoyed the aguas frescas (fresh fruit juice) in these cool crooked glasses.

We were told that after seeing Chichen Itza, Tulum would be a disappointment but I disagree.  I loved the gorgeous setting overlooking the ocean.  Plus, Isaac was a little more agreeable that day so I was able to actually learn a few things from our guide.

Isaac's favorite part was the train ride to and from the parking lot.

After seeing the ruins at Tulum we decided to check out Playa del Carmen.  We were under the impression that it was less touristy and a little more quaint than Cancun.  Maybe we went to the wrong part, but what we found was a very busy area with built up city blocks and no where to park.  We had lunch and then planned to spend some time at the beach, but the beach we found was totally over crowded so we turned around and left.

Instead we headed back to the beach at Puerto Morelos.  We had gone to Puerto Morelos a few days earlier because Charlie wanted to snorkel.  The plan was for Isaac and I to stay on the beach while he went out on the boat, but that didn't happen.  There is no way Isaac was going to miss out on that boat!  He had been seeing boats all week and could not wait for his chance to ride on one.  So all three of us suited up with snorkel gear and headed out.  I didn't want to take my camera on the boat but I sure wish I had a picture of Isaac with his mask and flippers on.  Totally hilarious and adorable!!!  But he only spent about 10 seconds in the water before he freaked out and wanted to get back in the boat.  Charlie still got to snorkel as planned and Isaac and I just hung out on the boat instead of the beach.

When we went back later that week we just enjoyed the late afternoon sun and relaxed on the beach.  Here is the sand castle city that Charlie & Isaac built together.

More pool shots and a view of our hotel from the beach.  I wish the beaches in CA had lounge chairs to rent.  Totally beats laying your towel down on the sand!  Also, you would think for such a large hotel (and we were not even in the main building but in the villas) that the beach and pools would be crowded, but they were surprisingly empty.

On our last night in Cancun we treated ourselves to some Haagen Dazs.  Isaac normally prefers salty to  sweet, but lately he is developing quite the sweet tooth.  Maybe he will be more his mother after all.

I'm not sure if it was because we were leaving, or just because he woke up on the wrong side of the bed, but Isaac was a total grump the morning that we left.  Here he is pouting in one of the lounge chairs in the lobby.

And finally, the plane ride home.  It seems that every time I fly through Miami we are delayed.  This time it was a broken plane and a five hour delay.  We didn't make it home till about 2:00 am.  Despite his grumpy morning, Isaac was a very good traveler that day.  Here are Charlie & Isaac sharing the Sunday paper.  Isaac has the Toys R Us ad.  :)

Overall we had a fantastic vacation and really enjoyed having the time to relax and spend time together as a family.  As of right now, we have no future trips planned, but knowing us I'm sure it won't stay that way for long!