Sunday, January 11, 2009


Felicity and Karthik arrived on Christmas Eve and we picked them up at the airport, heading directly to the mall to stand in line to get Ethan's picture taken with Santa. He is 8 months old so this is his first Santa photo and very important to his mommy. As it turned out, many other mommies had the same idea and we ended up being in the Santa line for about 2 hours before it was all said and done. But Ethan's photo came out really cute! (I have given his mommy ample time to post his photo on her blog so I don't really feel bad stealing her thunder and posting the picture on here since it's been 2-1/2 weeks since Christmas Eve!)

It was lots of fun playing with the kids at Christmas. Blake received Guitar Hero from all of his aunts and uncles...

... and Drew showed off his new costumes that he had gotten for Christmas. Uncle Philip jumped right in and joined in on the fun!

And this is just a cute picture of Ethan being a hoodlum :)

Sam & Henna

We have been dog-sitting since the first week in November for Felicity's dogs, Sam & Henna. This post is a tribute to them since they will be headed overseas with their parents in just a few weeks.

One day in November while I was doing some dead-heading of our rose bushes in the front yard, Sam and Henna could be heard whining from the back yard. We came over to the fence from the front yard to see what they were up to and saw them doing their very best to try to come help.

We found out in December that Sam, the largest of the three dogs in our household, is a scaredy-cat (dog). He does NOT like the lawnmower. When Phil mowed the back yard, Sam found the farthest spot away in the back yard and stayed in the very corner until the mowing was done.

Philip thought it would be funny to give Sam & Henna peanut butter and watch them get it stuck in their mouth and smack. This was probably the hardest Phil had laughed in a long time. It was hard to get a good photo of it while laughing so here is the best one we got. (Notice Henna's tongue in the background!)

Most of the rest of the time, they can be found lounging around, doing some light reading...

... and of course always making time for a nap.

Luckily, Cooper gets along really well with them and they play quite a bit so they tire one another out!

My friend Amanda graduated with a Master's Degree in Health Care Administration from Trinity in December and Phil and I attended her graduation. She had an entourage of friends and family at the ceremony and I am so glad we could be there to support her.

Unfortunately, she will be staying in Louisianna for the time being and starting her new job at the hospital where she has been interning for the past year, so I won't get to see her as often as I'd like, but hopefully I can go visit her in the exciting town of Alexandria sometime this year!

Debbie's Reindeer

To get into the spirit of the holidays at work, we had a week-long schedule of festivities. Day 1 was Hat Day and I won with these antlers!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Day 7

Woke up this morning to Phil saying "So I have good news and bad news." As I squint my eyes to see (contacts not in yet), he holds up my flip flops which had been left on the ground just outside our car the evening prior, one of which has been what appears to be chewed up and spit out. This is the bad news.

The good news happens to be that although at first Philip thought his shoes were missing altogether, he found them strewn out about 50 feet away. Apparently the campsite dogs had feasted on our shoes the evening before just outside our vehicle, while we slept soundly within. Luckily, my flip flops are still wearable and since they are Reefs and cost $25, I am not giving up on them that easily!
That morning, after a morning surf session for Mom, Phil & Dad, we had breakfast at the restaurant at the campsite and then packed up camp to head further south to our final destination, La Saladita.
We stopped in town for supplies (ice, food, beer, etc.) and got Aguas Frescas for the trip (fruit-flavored waters). I got a pina colada flavored one and my parents got orange and they were very refreshing.

We arrived in Saladita that afternoon and set up camp next to my parents' long-time friend, Dean. They met Dean many years back in Sayulita when we used to go there before it got very crowded and have spent many winters with Dean and his wife since. Now they meet up in Saladita where Dean has purchased land and is in the process of building a house. The construction process in Mexico is much more laid back than we are used to in the US, so Dean has taken an active role in the construction to try to help streamline the whole thing. He was originally told the construction process would take 6 months, and he celebrated the 1-year construction anniversary while we were there, and the house still has about 1-2 months of work to go before it will be complete. So Dean spends every day all day at the house so he was not around when we arrived that afternoon. We got situated and later that afternoon met up with him for dinner at the restaurant nearest our campsite on the beach. Guess who was at the restaurant? Gregory with the motorcycle from our previous campsite! Seems like he did take my parents' advice of where to stop!
After dark, the bugs started to show up so we had an early night retreating to the 4runner to read and listen to music inside before falling asleep early.

Day 8 - Day Trip

The next morning we woke up and took a walk on the beach around 8:30am while Mom did her yoga.

Dad had gone out surfing so we watched him for a while catch some waves. We knew we wanted to take a day trip south to Zihuatanejo to check the city out and wanted to leave kind of early. By almost 10am when Dad still had not come in from surfing, Phil and I decided to go ahead and do the day trip on our own rather than waiting any longer to get going. Mom stayed back so Dad would not be all alone for the day at the campsite.

My parents had recommended a surf town called Troncones, so we stopped there first. We came across a cool art shop, and the artist happened to be a surfer from the US who had lived on South Padre and knew my parents! We got to talk to him for a while and bought some small pieces of his artwork- magnets which we have on our refrigerator now!
Next we drove south and went through Ixtapa, which turned out to be a very touristy town with hotels lining the beach, lots of Americanized fast food chains, and shops. We didn't even stop, just drove though to see it and kept on going. Not much farther down the highway was Zihuatanejo which is a much larger city and very populated. There was traffic we didn't really have a destination so we stopped at a supermarket to see what it was like. It was basically like a super Wal-Mart. It had everything we could have wanted and we decided next time we didn't really need to bring anything; we could get it there for great prices! We did not spend too long in the city and decided to head back to Troncones to spend the rest of the day on the beach.

We had a snack of guacamole with a beer/pina colada for lunch right on the beach at El Burro Borracho restaurant. It was kind of pricy for Mexico and their menu was very touristy but it was right on the beach and the day was beautiful.

We took a long walk on the beach and swum for a bit in the water. The waves were pretty forceful and at one point the waves threw my into Phil's head and I hit my cheekbone just below my eye and got a mini-black eye! After that I was pretty ready to leave so we decided to head back to the campsite. The afternoon sun was still high when we got back so we decided to take our chairs to the beach and do some reading. After about 30 minutes, my Dad came down to the beach to see what we were up to and while he was there, a bee had been flying around me and ended up stinging me right at my collar bone! I have never been stung before by a bee and didn't really know what to do. Phil even had to pull its little stinger out of my skin because it got stuck! My Dad wasn't very sympathetic- he couldn't believe I had never been stung by a bee before in my life and by the time he was 10 years old he had already been stung multiple times! But despite all those stings, he couldn't tell me what to put on it to soothe the sting! The guy in the campsite next to us told me to put niccotine on it, but of course I did not have any available nor did I think that was an attractive idea so I just decided to suffer in (semi) silence.
That evening we watched the sunset and then had dinner at the campsite which Dean joined us for, consisting of grilled sausage with cheese/jalapenos, salad, and toast. It was a great way to end the day!

Day 9- Last Day of Vacation

We wanted to spend the last day just relaxing and not driving anywhere since we had a long road ahead of us starting the next day. Phil and Mom joined Dad in the water for an early morning surf session. I slept in a bit and caught just the tail end of their session but got to greet them as they came in.

We ate some breakfast and then my parents, Phil, and I walked up to Lourdes' which is a restaurant, bar, and surf shop where the locals like to hang out. We did not find anything to purchase so we didn't stay long. We decided to talk over to Dean's house so Phil and I could see the construction (my parents had been by the day before so they were able to give us the tour). After walking through the house, we headed back to the campsite and on our way stopped at a little taco stand and had drinks (limonadas for my parents and Coca Cola for me!). We talked to the ladies there about coming back for dinner and they said they would be open. But that evening when we showed up, there was not a soul in sight! We ended up having to eat at the restaurant on the beach that we had eaten at two nights before; we were hoping to add another taco stand to our count so this was disappointing!

Day 10 - Long Drive

We left Saladita at 5:45am and headed North. We had spent over an hour the afternoon prior mapping out our route to find the best way, a tricky combination of finding the most toll roads, least mountainous terrain, least windy roads, and not going too far out of our way to accomplish these goals. We must have done a good job because made very good time. We stopped minimally - only for gas when necessary. We had snacks (junk food) in the car and did not stop for a meal all day. Our goal was to make it to Cuidad Victoria and spend the night, which we were not sure we could accomplish since it was many more miles than we traveled on day 1 of our trip. We did make it there around 6pm and decided that since there were only about 3 more hours of driving to get to the border, we would rather keep going than stop and have to find a hotel.

I will be honest and say that driving in Mexico at night is not fun. Actually, some might describe it as scary. The roads are mostly 2-lane with small shoulders, and this is best case scenario. So, many times when a car is trying to pass an 18-wheeler going the other direction, you are facing that car head-on in your lane and have no choice but to slam on your brakes and reduce your speed to avoid a collision. This happened more than once! Also, the big trucks in Mexico are double-long which we don't see in the US much, so that makes passing them even more trecherous since it takes longer to get around them! We had to both stay very alert and awake the entire day. Luckily, the police know better than to pull anyone over on the roads- they have no place to safely do so! The only time we saw any police was when a safety hazard was forthcoming; they would park on the shoulder with their lights flashing if a dangerous curve was ahead to warn drivers to slow down, which was really helpful.

We finally hit Matamoros around 9pm although the signs did not clearly direct us towards the border so we got lost and did not actually arrive at the border until about 9:45pm. We turned in our car permit and actually made it across pretty quickly. But we still had a 40 minute drive to the island before our travels for the day were over! Since we had not eaten all day, we stopped and picked up Whataburger on the island as our first meal back in the US. How American... burgers and fries.

The best part of the evening was a hot shower when we got to my parents' condo (the campsites had fresh water and showers but never hot water!) and we went right to bed, having the best night's sleep we had had in 10 days! Phil is usually an early riser but it was almost 8am before he even opened his eyes. I think he may have even woken up in the same exact position he fell asleep in! Same for me, but that is nothing out of the ordinary in my case... :)

Day 10 - Home Again

This day I drove for the first time since we had left San Antonio to give Phil a break from being behind the wheel. We made it back to San Antonio around lunchtime and unpacked and started the unwinding and chores that come with returning from vacation, and preparing to return to work. That evening we drove to pick up the dogs half way between SA and Austin where Brad and Stacy met us for the exchange. It was great to see Cooper again (oh yeah, and Sam/Henna too) and with them back in the house, back into the swing of things we went.

All in all, the trip was wonderful- very relaxing, gorgeous views, with really no problems or stress. I decided that all our vacations need to be international so that we really are able to get away without access to phones or emails. We plan to return again on this type of trip to Mexico many times in our lives.

Did we mention the whole trip cost us less than $700 for the entire 10 days?! I think we can definitely afford to do this again!