Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Spring Break '09

It's been almost a year and a half since my last post on this blog. Since then we've moved, I've survived another horrible pregnancy, my family survived another pregnancy, I had another sweet baby girl, and survived months of her being super sick. Lucy, the new sweet baby, is doing much better, as am I and the rest of the family, so we are embarking on another trip - albeit not as extended nor exotic as the last trip. But I'm really looking forward to it. I've posted our itinerary on the left, although that is really just my itinerary. Jed flies from Sacramento to Toronto and then spends some time in Minnesota, Utah and Chicago before he and I meet up in New York for our trip to Ireland. Zoe and Lucy will only be in California and Utah, well, until our road trip home. That is going to be my favorite part because driving cross country with two small children is always a raging party.

So early tomorrow morning we, all four of us, will be enjoying the comfort of a seven hour flight to Cali for my brother's wedding. Should be really fun! I'll post some pictures...

Cheers to another long trip!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Adios, Mexico!


To tie up a few loose ends...

First, I'm only bringing souvenirs back for a few people. I don't like people giving me junk and I don't want to give people junk, so unless I found something I think is perfect for you, I won't bring you something back. Don't be offended. I'm sparing you from having to receive a gift with false gratitude and from feeling like you have to wear it or display it on your bookshelf whenever I come to your house.

Second, thank you so very, very much to everyone who has kept in touch with me during this trip, especially with my sparse internet and phone service. And especially during the holiday seasons when everyone is incredibly busy. I've had some hard times here and the emails you've sent and posts you've made on this blog have been a tremendous support. Plus it's nice to know I'm not forgotten...I've certainly not forgotten any of you.

Third, a lot of the people we met in Mexico don't have computers, but to those of you who do and may be reading this, I'd like to express a very sincere thank you. The kindness we've received during our stay in Mexico means so much to us and will never be forgotten. Remember to look us up if you are ever in Chicago!

Finally, I'm about to finish posting about the time we spent in California before we traveled to Mexico. We spent almost a week staying with our great friends, the Lipmans. I'll posted the Cali posts in chronological order so they'll at the beginning of this blog.

Here are a few pictures of our last place in Sayulita...

Mexico - Sayulita
(An iguana chillin' in the "Green Iguana Sanctuary" tree a couple houses down.)

Mexico - Sayulita
(Geri and Larry relaxing on the balcony.)

Mexico - Sayulita
(Jed and Zoe relaxing on the balcony.)

Mexico - Sayulita
(Sunset view from the balcony.)


A few observations and lessons learned:

- Roosters crow all day and all night long, not just in the morning. And they hang out in trees.

- Giant flying cockroaches really do exist.

- With the exception of ice cream, which is more like custard, desserts in Mexico are bland.

- Some people, actually most people (residents and visitors), in Mexico could do everyone a favor by not letting their dogs roam, or at least cleaning up after! Especially on the beach!!! I think I've seen two dogs on a leash this entire trip. Bless their owners! And dogs should be spayed or neutered or whatever it is.

- Driving in Mexico is like driving in Chicago minus the traffic regulations, traffic signs and left hand turning lanes (they are on the right there). Passing on curvy mountain roads at break-neck speed should be illegal. The many little crosses on the side of the roads should be adequate reminder of why this law should exist.

- Not all purified water is equal.

- "Around the corner," "starts at 7:00pm," "down a ways," etc. is very is relative, and sometimes completely inaccurate.

- Always agree with taxi drivers on the cost of your ride before you get into their car. And be thankful you've done this when your taxi driver stops to get directions from other drivers and pedestrians, and makes your very, very late to church.

- Listening to someone speak fluent Spanish but without a trace of a Spanish accent is hilarious. :)

- Mexicans like living in the jungle. They like it so much that they line their patios, yards, and the inside of their houses with very large plants. Sometimes they even paint the walls in their house like the jungle so that you can't really tell when you step in and when you step out. There must be trees and plants everywhere.

- French fries and ketchup are very different in Mexico than what we are used to in the states. I prefer the kind in the states.

- "Celebrities" vacation in Mexico.

- Only an idiot would move to Mexico and not learn Spanish.

- If you're not the kind of person who "will eat anything" make sure to find out what's being served before you dig in. For example, I prefer not to eat cow tongue and intestines.

- Mexicans do not abide by the keep-a-bible-distance-between-you-and-your-dance-partner rule. You'd be lucky to wedge a piece of cling wrap between them when they dance. And they manage to stay glued together throughout a lot of fast paced movement, and they can do it holding drinks and flan.

- Grocery stores in Mexico do not refrigerate eggs.

- Mexico has the BEST coconut yogurt; it's like dessert. If you're ever in Mexico and want to try it, LaLa is the brand.

- With the exceptions of air conditioning and a washing machine, I can happily live with a lot less than I'm used to.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Our last night in Mexico

I really can't believe we are going home tomorrow. I don't have mixed emotions about going back, I'm excited. I'm giddy with excitement. I'm also very relieved and I will be even more so when we finally land on US soil. Mexico has been an amazing adventure, but I'm exhausted. Two months really isn't that long of a time, but I feel like I've been here a lot longer...about six months. I'd do it again, but with a few changes that I think would make a huge difference.

Tonight was our last night in Mexico, and aside from my growing need to get back to the states, it's great timing. For the past 12 days Mexico has been celebrating their main virgin (k- that sounds kind of funny) the Virgin de Guadalupe. Here she is on Wikipedia if you're interested. To celebrate Guadalupe there have been small parades every night, along with bands, street food and fireworks. The fireworks go off randomly throughout the day and night, of course. Tonight was the final and main night of celebration. There was a bigger parade with more horses, bands, dancers and floats. Plus hundreds of people, loads of food, and a TON of fireworks.

After spending a crazy, stormy day out on the ocean in a little boat clinging to Zoe and Geri wondering why in the world I agreed to take myself and my daughter out in the ocean after I nearly died out there less than a week ago, and starting to wonder if Jed made a mistake marrying me instead someone more adventurous, I felt obligated to join in the festivities for Guadalupe. I'd been perfectly happy to stay home and pack, but everyone else wanted to go out, so we found a restaurant overlooking the plaza to eat dinner. Here are some pictures I took during dinner.

Mexico - Sayulita

Mexico - Sayulita
You can't really tell in this picture, but the float couldn't turn because the red car was parked too close to the corner. This stopped the parade until a bunch of guys picked up the car and moved it out of the way. It was kind of funny.

Mexico - Sayulita
Later in the night crowds of people gathered around these horses to see them dance. I've never seen "dancing horses" before - they were pretty amazing.

Mexico - Sayulita
Two hours after I took this picture this plaza and the streets around it were so full of people that there was standing room only.

Mexico - Sayulita
Geri and Larry at dinner.

Mexico - Sayulita
Me, Z and Jed.

My surf bum

Here are a few pictures of Jed and his surf instructor Carlos surfing in La Lancha...

Jed and Carlos

Waiting for the waves

Tiny wave at La Lancha

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Have you ever seen a piña colada this big?!

Big piña!

Sunday picnic

Last Sunday we remembered the hour time difference between Sayulita and PV right before we got to church, so we were very late and just had the cab driver turn around and take us to a bus stop so we could go home. This Sunday we made it to most of the first meeting. The Ixtapa building is new and beautiful.


After church we drove to La Lancha, near La Cruz Huanacaxtle, to have a picnic on the beach. We had to hike a little bit to get to the beach, but it was worth it - the sand and water were beautiful.





Fish tacos

A week ago we moved to a new place in Sayulita. It is by far the nicest place we've stay during this trip. It's almost completely insect free! I love it!!! We also have a/c, an oven and stove that work, a microwave, ceiling fans that work, hot water, plenty of space and a fantastic maid! I love her! She does our laundry for us! Hallelujah!

My mother-in-law, Geri, and my father-in-law, Larry, joined us here last Wednesday. It's been wonderful to have them here. Zoe loves, loves spending time with Geri, and I'm slowing regaining my sanity. I'm turning back into a happy mommy.

Saturday night Zulma came over to make fish tacos and ceviche, which were fantastic as usual. We finally convinced her to sit and eat with us. We've also been trying to convince her to come visit us in the U.S., but she thinks she'll "die from the cold", even if she comes during the summer. :)


The beach in Sayulita

The beach in Sayulita is different from any other beach we've been to on our trip. There are a lot of people, mainly gringos, and a lot of dogs. If you read Jed's post on Sayulita, you can probably envision the beach here.

It's harder to take Zoe to because she follows any dog she can around until it either scares her or plays with her, and there are always a bunch of "street dogs" on the beach. Street dogs are not the best animal for your toddler to hang around with. Aside from the dogs, I actually like this beach. All of the surfers, swimmers, beach bums, music, peddlers, and restaurants makes the beach come to life. Here are some pictures taken at the beach...







If I look a bit traumatized in the photo above, it's because I was - I am. Last week I almost died while I was in the ocean (I'm completely serious), although I'm still too freaked out about it to blog about it right now. My father-in-law took this picture right after it happened, while I was telling Jed about it. Jed said I've got bragging rights about my "battle scars" and I guess I should have taken pictures of my leg all bloodied up, but that wasn't really something I was thinking about at the time.

My birthday...

Celebrating my birthday here was different, mostly because it didn't really seem like my birthday; there was no snow, no Christmas lights, no cake, no friends. I was pretty sick and our plans didn't go as we expected, but overall it was a nice day.

I decided I wanted to go to the beach and a brunch restaurant I really like in San Pancho. For what seemed like the second time during our trip, it was overcast. But it was still pretty hot. The beach was fun, although we didn't get to stay there very long because Zoe started having a hard time.


So we went to brunch and I ate some fantastic chilaquiles. Zulma taught me how to make them, and when I get back I'll make them for anyone who wants to try them.


I was feeling so sick that we went home right after brunch to take naps. Then we made one more attempt at a birthday celebration and went to a restaurant on the beach for dinner. Zoe was surprisingly good, and so was the food. We had a great time.



And, Emily, here's me and my piña...


One our way home Jed had to stop at an internet cafe to find out how to get to church the next day, so Zoe and I walked around Sayulita. I met a Mexican guy who was familiar with Chicago, and it was so fun to hear someone name streets and describes places from my home!

Monday, December 10, 2007


From Bucerias we moved to Sayulita, and stayed in a place that was cleaner and newer than any other place we'd stayed. It was also much, much nicer than any of the other "houses" around it, so we kind of stood out as gringos. We were without a microwave, washer and dryer, hot water, and a/c, but it was nice and roomy! We also had a little yard for Z to play in, and access to the roof. I tried laying out up there on my birthday, but I kept having to flick spiders off of me, so I went back inside. I was also weird to be hanging out in my swimming suit with construction workers one lot over and a lady hanging her laundry to dry right next door. She was so close I could've stepped from my roof to hers and helped her out.

(Jed and Zoe, with her "crazy hair", in the yard.)


The place was nice, but the insects were not. I was more bothered by the insects there than anywhere else we've been. But I guess that's what you get when you are living in the middle of the jungle. Having geckos everywhere was kind of fun, but they always caught me by surprise.

(Jed emptying a coconut he cracked open.)

The caretaker of the place, Zulma, is the sweetest, coolest woman. She'd come over to make sure things were okay, or teach us how to cook something authentic, and we'd always end up hanging out for awhile. She seemed to get a kick out of my annoyance with the cucarachas. One night we went over to her place and chatted while Zoe played her dogs and chickens - it was fun and relaxing.

(Zulma and Jed making some awesome fish tacos.)

Sayulita is also where Zoe starting showing her computer genius potential.


Sunday, December 9, 2007


Fantastic news - I have high speed internet now and I'm typing on my Mac, so no more funky punctuation. And now I get to play catch-up. I know it's lame in the blogosphere to post multiple posts a day, but oh well, I will be doing it anyway. I'm hoping to get be completely caught up journaling our time in Mexico before we leave this coming Thursday. So here I go...

A couple weeks ago we were staying in Bucerias, a town just north of Nuevo Vallarta. It wasn't really a week full of excitement and fun (we all got sick - if you ever want to know how a Mexican pharmacist made me cry, just ask - Jed finally got his computer to work, etc.), so most of the pictures I took during that week aren't worth sharing. But since Zoe's rash was healing pretty quickly we did get to go to the beach a couple of times. Here are some picture taken during our time in Bucerias...

These pictures were taken during a walk we took after church on the Sunday we were there.




Zoe loves putting sand in her hair. She does it every time we get on a beach.


Note that I'm still in my Sunday dress, which I made. Kind of. A week before we left on this trip, I got the crazy idea to sew a dress to wear here. It wouldn't have been such a nutty idea if I'd ever sewn clothing before, which I hadn't. Thanks to a lot of help from my patient friend Carrie, I (we) finished the dress just time. Actually, I did some hand sewing in Ajijic, but I've worn it to church every Sunday. The dress is very fitting for Mexico, and super comfy (I could be pregnant and you'd never know). Thanks, Carrie!



You can't really tell, but these kids were running around either completely naked or with just their underwear on. Looks like being clueless to the rest of the world and having no inhibitions is a lot of fun.


. . .

Some random photos of our time in Bucerias...

Zoe enjoying dinner (we found out the next day it gave her an amoeba - yay) and Jed getting ready to shell and cook shrimp he got from a street vendor.

Except for being covered in food, this is how Zoe always was in Bucerias...covered in sweat and humidity.


More of Zoe on the go at the beach.



Thursday, December 6, 2007

Beach playlist

This time last year I had my Sarah McLachlan Wintersong album on repeat in my car, on my computer, and in my stereo. Right now the heat, humidity and sound of waves crashing on the beach make Christmas seem so far away. Here's what's on my iPod now (quite a few of them were on my playlist when I came to Mexico two and half years ago):

– Celine Dion (If you want to feel like you're swinging in a hammock between two palm trees watching the sun set, listen to this.)
The Golden Age - Beck
Guess I’m Doing Fine – Beck
D’yer M’aker – Led Zeppelin
Goodnight and Go - Imogen Heap
Hit ‘em Up Style (Oops!) – Blu Cantrell
Down Under (acoustic version) - Men at Work
1000 Miles - Blake Lewis
Across the Universe of Time - Hayley Westenra
America – Bree Sharp
Bubbly - Colbie Calaitt
The Little Things - Colbie Calaitt
Golden Touch - Razorlight
You Know I’m No Good – Amy Winehouse
Bouncing Off Clouds – Tori Amos
A Sorta Fairytale – Tori Amos
Jamaica Inn – Tori Amos
Hoochie Woman – Tori Amos
They – Jen
Crush – Jennifer Paige
Walking with a Ghost – Tegan and Sara
Shadow of Love - Celine Dion
You Know My Name - Chris Cornell
Mexico – James Taylor
Listen Up! – The Gossip
TKO – Le Tigre
Ella – Monty
Starlight – Muse
Don’t Let Go – Pacha Massive
Bad Moon Rising – CCR
Caribbean Blue – Enya
Extraordinary Machine – Fiona Apple
Look After You – The Fray
Holding Out for a Hero – Frou Frou
Can’t Get You Out of My Head – Kylie Minogue
Burn Rubber – Gap Band
Réquiem – Jump Little Children
Cherry Lips – Garbage
La Tortura – Shakira
Shiny Toy Guns - Le Disko
Good Foot – Justin Timberlake and Timbaland
Dare - Gorillaz
Girl and the Sea – The Presets
Ruby Blue – Roisin Murphy
Mas Que Nada – Sergio Mendes and the Black Eyed Peas

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Thank you!

Thank you everyone for all of the birthday emails, Myspace, Facebook and ecards! Just like Thanksgiving, I didn't realize it was my birthday until someone reminded me. I guess being 28 is that exciting. *smiley face that I can't get to show up* I got an early birthday email yesterday *thanks Em... I will send you a picture of me and my birthday pina colada!*. Sorry about the punctuation...I'm typing on a crazy Spanish keyboard in an internet cafe, which happens to be closing in 5 min. I've got great timing.

I have some fun pictures to post and stories to tell. I think the next place we're staying has internet.

Thanks again, and loves...

Saturday, November 24, 2007


Mexicans know how to party. When we were in Guayabitos last week hundreds of people were there vacationing for Mexican Revolution Day. The streets and beach were loud and covered with people. It was insane. As we were leaving town that night we saw groups of people hauling coolers, towels, floating tubes and other gear to the was already dark! When we arrived there at 7:00 the next morning to go fishing there were already, or still, a lot of people in the water.

busy Guayabitos beach

In Mexico there are no public safety laws, or none that are obeyed as far as I can tell. There were a ton of boats floating in the water with the swimmers. They would weave around the heads bobbing up and down to get to the beach to dock. People were skiing and driving wave runners around the swimmers, too.

a marlin
(A marlin brought in by one of the fishing boats.)

The party boat!

I thought this was funny - a boat for the sole purpose of having a party. I'm not exactly sure what you do on the Party Boat - maybe dance to the loud music that blares over the speakers (or just stand around listening to it - as shown in the picture), but it seemed like people were having a great time. Maybe there was one of these on board...