...is the process by which we create, discover, learn and grow with those we cherish most.


Bienvenidos Summer!

Once the flu bug left us, we naturally caught the next best thing - the vacation bug. And when a "last-minute" deal popped up in my email on Tuesday, we were packed and ready to go by Friday to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for the weekend. Yes. All 4 of us!


Ava and Noah were so excited to board a plane together for the first time. They held their own passports and tickets - and looked like pros. As they stepped across the threshold of AeroMexico, the flight attendant greeted them and asked if they wanted to see the pilots. They did, and Ava, amazed by all the buttons, half-waved a hello - and later declared that she wanted to be a pilot so she could "fly Mommy." [Smile] The airline accomodated our family perfectly - between the 4 us, we had 6 seats to spread out into...

To color...


Take a nap...


a really long one...


And even enjoy some alone time looking cool while surfing through their backpacks stocked with personalized treats [notepad, color pencils, crayons, stickers, etch n' sketch, playing cards, small cars, trains, cookies, apple juice boxes]...

Looking cool

After settling into our room at the all-inclusive Marival resort, we got branded with our bracelets and headed downstairs to the pool for a night swim. It was everything you'd expect from an all-inclusive resort - a modern lobby with open ocean views greeting you, non-English speaking employees challenging you with your high school Spanish, and buffets with too many mysterious choices. By morning, we woke up to a completely different view - mountains in the distance... embraced by clouds and a stretch of city life drawn along the ocean's curve. With suits on and pails swinging in our hands, we dashed to the beach to welcome summer '09!


And this is how much of the weekend was spent, on the beach or in the pool, we enjoyed the whirlwind of faces and languages all around us. Noah, who stood out like a gem with his blue eyes, received a lot of attention. And big sister Ava, doning her Grandpa's cap, held his hand everywhere we went to keep him from going astray.

Day 2 at the beach

Morning Play at the beach

Mornings were cloudy, which we preferred instead of the summer's heat that followed us from Texas by noontime. We dined at their restaurants each night, thanks to advance reservations Aaron made before we arrived, and the mediterranean cuisine at the Amalfi was our favorite. Even Noah's, who zoomed towards the tiramasu...

Fine Dining

The kids both got a kick out of the palm trees - singing Chicka Chicka Boom Boom! Here, both of them huddle underneath one, as the clouds began to tremble and then sprinkle some welcoming rain...


Day 3 - instructions were simple: repeat day 2. Only this time, it was also Father's Day! We ordered room service, watched Spanish cartoons, walked on the beach looking for sea shells, and ate divinely.



Our photoshoot on the beach ran short, as the nightfall came faster than I could get the kids to stand still...[mental note - start early!] We were scheduled to depart on Monday - but as to no suprise to any of us, AeroMexico broke down before arriving to PV. After amusing the kids for 5 hours in the airport, we were bused back to our hotel for another night. We were upgraded to a family suite - and of course, none of us wanted to leave this time...

Spanish Cartoons

Visiting Mexico and the beach gave the kids many unique moments to pause and enjoy - like the rushing sounds of waves or the discovery of jelly fish and crabs washed up along the shore - a definite change from their routine backyard pool time at home. And as expected, Aaron and I learned a lot about traveling with our kids - which we have been looking forward to do for many years... Hasta Luego y besos Mexico!

Hello waves

Traveling to Mexico with Toddlers: Our Tips
1. It's a good idea to experience a "trial run" with the kiddos prior to spending a fortune on a trip half way around the world. Look for a last minute deal online - many places offer discounted airfares and hotel stays just for children.

2. Arrive at the airport early to coordinate seating arrangements - it's definitely worth it!

3. Pack a special bag for each child filled with familiar toys - including a new one! Ava and Noah liked carrying their own backpacks, which was very helpful in organizing activities they each enjoy.

4. Be sure to ask customs to stamp your passports upon entering the country. Many won't do it unless you ask. After extensively traveling around the world myself, the pages of my passport are the longest lasting souvenirs I've collected so far.

5. After picking up your luggage - head straight outside. The hotel transfer buses and taxis are all there. We were unfortunately misguided from the terminal by two "salespeople" who told us they were our transfers to the hotel. Once they got our attention, they tried to sell us excursion packages. Same goes for your hotel. Many partner with timeshare developments, and they will try to buy your time with gift certificates. We got one [a massage on the beach] just for complaining about the harrasment.

6. The airports are a bit scary when you are only 3 feet tall. Losing sight of them has happened often, cracking every nerve we've had. To avoid the stress of the experience, plan ahead by delegating who will watch the kids while the other handles the traveling protocols. At times, our kids even decided that for us, when one or both wanted "Mommy" or "Daddy" at the time...

7. Routines don't avail to much when you are far from home. Leave these and your guilt behind at home. As long as you keep to a "routine" of items [meals, naptimes, playtime, getting ready for bed] it doesn't matter what time it says on your wrist. The importance is having a familiar structure - and both you and your kids will enjoy many adventures traveling offers families.

8. Learn the language before you go - this is no doubt the best age to learn another language. Ava impressed the hotel boutique clerk by reciting 1-15 in Spanish. But we laughed the hardest when Ava cheered at the TV our first night back, "Yeah, it's not in Spanish!"

bye-bye flu... and don't come back!


Sneezing, coughing, congested and achy - and at the mercy of over-priced over-the-counter medicine to bring us back to life, the big, bad, bully flu got to us all. After day 3, Aaron and the kids made it back out into civilization, and I spent the next 8 indoors with clorox and lysol sprays in hand, determined to zap all the bacteria bullying me around. Sure, the extra rest can be nice, but seriously, so is consciousness. After day 11 of the siege, I realized this unexpected detour in my health was more of an awakening of much more... I spent a lot of time thinking about stress, and how like viruses, they hibernate in our bodies and multiply without our knowledge...

Which reminds me of this wonderful book, Bye-Bye Big Bad Bully Bug, written by one of our favorite authors, Ed Emberley, where the little bugs grow fearful of the unfamiliar and then build their confidence as they learn more about the big bug and how their strength lies not in their size, but in their character. It's such a silly but wonderful way to teach kids about bullies and how we don't have to sit back and be eaten alive by our "big problems."

Having this flu was more about my mind and body working together - to get stronger - and "stomp" those "bad bugs" or stressors out.

Taking the time to routinely slow down and reflect on where we are in life may be the best way to maintain good health - but then again... your husband making chicken soup and feeding you in bed isn't so bad once in awhile either...[smile].


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