Sunday, January 20, 2008

You'd Better Belize it! (Part Two)

Last post took us to the Wednesday night of our holiday. Thursday morning we got up in a leisurely fashion, with tea and cookies and leftover pizza for breakfast. It was a mostly grey day again but the sun peeked through here and there. Mike unfortunately had an Imodium morning, but the rest of us took a walk up the beach and I took a series of photos while Aaron fished, casting and tying flies. We called in on our neighbour Genie about snorkelling (yesterday’s conversation had been “no mon” – “too stormy?” – “yeah mon”). We decided to go to Mexico Rocks, a popular snorkelling destination where we could also do some reef fishing. At 1:30 Genie picked us up and we boated up a short ride in a sea that was a bit choppy but mostly ok. Dave, Aaron and Mar fished while the rest of us snorkelled. We saw a shark about 5 feet long swim about 4 feet underneath us, and saw rays and lots of smaller colourful fish – angel fish, parrot fish, coral, tons of plant life and conch. When we got back into the boat, we were freezing! Aaron and Mar snorkelled while the rest of us tried fishing. No luck for me, but altogether the guys caught a few so they decided to go out fishing again after dropping us girls back at the villa. We warmed up with tea and blankets and had a short siesta on the couch, then the guys returned with Genie, his girlfriend Alexis, and the snorkelling guide Randy. They had groceries and all the fish they had caught and Genie announced that he was ready to cook! We sat back and relaxed (and tried not to wonder when Genie had last washed his hands) and before long our first dish was ready – fresh fish and vegetables all cooked together and served with tortillas to wrap them up. I had promised to eat the fish they had caught, so I made myself a burrito and although mentally my vegetarian mind had a hard time eating it, it was absolutely delicious. Our second course was local lobster caught that morning (I couldn't do it), and then we had some delicious BBQ potatoes before finishing with a roast chicken. All of it was prepared over coconut husks on the barbecue and we loved it all. We had sweet buns for dessert and chatted for a while with Genie, Randy and Alexis. We played cards again, but had an earlier night after Aaron and Mar brushed up on their SCUBA signals for the next day.
We had a light breakfast Friday, then Kim and I went for a run on the beach. It rained a little on us, and it certainly wasn’t hot! We had cheesy scrambled eggs on toast and made the final decision to go to Shark Ray Alley for more snorkelling despite the weather. The sun peeked out, so the girls threw off our clothes and ran outside to soak up 20 min of sun while we could! Genie picked us up at 1:30 again, and we pulled up to the Hol Chan reserve, our first site. Three nurse sharks were circling before we even got into the water! Aaron and Mar’s SCUBA boat was there too, and we waved back and forth, then all got into the water. We spent about 45 (freezing) minutes snorkelling with tons and tons of amazing fish. There were ten times more than Mexico Rocks and it was beautiful. We saw eel and grouper, too, before getting back into the boat to move to our second spot – Shark Ray Alley. I was starting to feel sick despite Gravol and my wristbands and I was shivering violently, but as soon as Genie said “Pool’s open, guys” we all jumped in and next thing you know we’re swimming with sharks and rays, petting them – they were everywhere! Randy dove down and brought them up, holding them gently so we could touch them. I only stayed in 5 minutes because I was so cold my legs stopped working. Dave went to feed the rays, and was looking around for them when all of a sudden they nibbled at his toes – Mike said his expression was priceless! Gene scraped both hands and the back of his leg and was coming back in when I started puking. As soon as I hurled over the side of the boat, sharks, fish and rays were churning the water underneath jostling to eat it – their mouths were out of the water and it was a feeding frenzy! Mike and Dave swam over to see the fuss and I was trying to call to them to tell them not to swim in my puke, but they couldn’t hear me. Mike realized what was going on and soon everyone was back in the boat. It was raining, I was freezing and I felt like death but I was so happy to have done it!!!
We got back to the villa after dropping Rae and Dave; Marzia and Aaron arrived home shortly after. We ate Kraft Dinner (so satisfying) and I tried to settle my stomach but the room was still rolling around. We took the golf carts down to a restaurant called Capricorn, recommended to us by Genie. It was a great beach-side location with friendly staff and great food. Some had filet mignon with either shrimp or crab, Kim had crepes, I had pasta and Gene had the stuffed grouper speciality. We finished with amazing Rum Chocolate Cake or Key Lime Pie for dessert. We got home before the torrential rains hit, and packed our things for the morning departure.
On Saturday morning we met the gecko who lived behind the picture on our wall and we had our showers. The boys left around 9 with the golf carts while we confirmed our Tropic Air flight off the island. Armando said he’s coming early to beat the weather – oh no! As we pulled away from Rae and Dave’s dock, Armando said “Uh oh, big rain” and whoosh – next thing we know we were wetter than we’ve ever been. Buckets of rain and seawater were dumping over us, and everything was soaked through. All our luggage, camera bags etc. were up front and it was too torrential to even get to them. I was turtled over my purse but the rain was running straight off me onto my things. We were laughing because it was so ridiculous how wet we were, and the irony was that we had all saved one warm outfit for the way home – and here we were soaked to the skin in our “warm” clothes. We met up with the boys and presented our soggy passports for our flight on Tropic Air to Belize City. Our bags all went with Rae and Dave on the first flight, and the rest of us boarded a 14-seat single prop plane for the 17 minute flight. We were seriously overweight and barely made it off the runway, and we only flew at 900 feet, but it was an easy short flight to the International airport. We quickly changed out of our sopping clothes in the crowded bathroom and stuffed our wet things into our luggage to be checked. We sent our postcards then went through security to begin our Belize airport hell. The flight was supposed to leave at 1 pm, but we got runaround stories for 5 hours before we finally took off at 6 pm for Charlotte. The only thing to eat inside the terminal was hot dogs and beer, and they ran out of both quite quickly. They kept saying, “you will be boarding in 17 minutes” when we could see there was no airplane even there. When the US Airways flight landed at 5:15 the whole airport applauded!
Of course we had long since missed our connection, and didn’t get to Charlotte until 10 pm. We called the boys and Susan to tell them we wouldn’t make it home, and then spent an hour trying to get us rebooked on different flights. US Airways got us hotel rooms and meal vouchers and after a crowded shuttle to the hotel we ordered pizza and ate it at midnight. The cabs came at 6:15am and 6:30am and we checked in at American Airlines no problem. We all got selected for “special screening” and got the glass room and extra pat down. We used our meal vouchers for breakfast at Starbucks and the Tequileria, and we boarded for Dallas. We had to fly Dallas to Seattle and finally landed around 2 pm. We finally got home by 5 pm and got a million hugs and kisses from the boys! It was a great trip with lots of memories, but it was also really good to be home and see the boys again. We loved travelling with Aaron and Marzia, Gene and Kim – same time, next year, anyone???

You'd Better Belize it! (Part One)

It seems so long ago, but we’ve only been home from Belize less than two weeks! We had a great trip, and although we experienced some minor mishaps, they really only added to the memories. For a while it seemed like the trip was not meant to happen – Kim was going through a terrible time dealing with family matters, and although we hoped beyond hope that she and Gene would still be able to come, we were really unsure until only a few days before our departure. Thankfully, they made the decision to escape the requirements of real life for the week, and we were all set. My plans involved packing the boys for two separate mini-holidays, (one with my parents and one with Mike’s mom) which was overwhelming at times. I barely paid attention to what I needed, and indeed only packed myself about an hour before Kim and Gene picked us up. It had been a horrible morning anyway, with the news that Gran had died, so we were all really glad to just get in the car and try to leave all our cares behind.
We drove to Seattle and met Aaron and Marzia, Rachelle and Dave at the airport there. We had dinner and got on our flight. Some of us slept, some didn’t, but by the time we got to Charlotte the next morning I was so exhausted I crashed for a while on the airport floor. We grabbed breakfast and got on the next flight, arriving in Belize City at noon. First impressions – hot and sticky weather (Mar was smart and changed into a tank top on the plane), tiny airport where we deplaned on the tarmac, surprisingly green and lush countryside. A short taxi ride through town and we arrived at the Radisson. There are only two traffic lights in the whole country of Belize (so the guide books say), and they’re both in Belize City but we encountered neither of them. There weren’t many people out and about – it was a Sunday – but we certainly saw our share of garbage. It is a third world country in some ways, but it is beautiful and has a lot of potential. Belize City has tiny streets that are labelled in hilarious ways like “One Way (this way) Tuesday and Thursday at 9 am”. How does anyone get anywhere? It’s rundown, interesting and rustic. The Radisson is the nicest hotel in Belize, and we paid $200 USD for the privilege of staying there. It was actually only worth about $80, but it was safe and clean. Only our room was ready, so we dumped everyone’s luggage in it, and got cleaned up a bit. We had a quick drink and an appy in the lounge while Aaron arranged us a tour to the Mayan ruins of Altun Ha.
Our guide Daniel showed up and we piled into his van for the trip. We stopped on the way for Belikin beer and Coke in glass bottles (can’t tell you why I love that so much, but there it is) and arrived at Altun Ha in the late afternoon. We applied lots of DEET and entered the ancient site. These incredible ruins were deserted; we were the only visitors there. It was so peaceful and the history was amazing. Daniel was an excellent guide and we enjoyed the tour very much. After taking a ton of photos and refilling our drinks, we had a sleepy car ride back to the hotel. We quickly changed for dinner and crossed the street to the Smoky Mermaid, where they seated us in our own private treehouse! We had jerk chicken and pork, and tequila shrimp, but skipped dessert because we were all falling asleep in our plates. We got back to our room at 8:16 and Mike was asleep by 8:19!
Aaron, Gene and I met at 7:30 the next morning for a run along Belize City’s seawall. I only did about 20 minutes and I was huffing in the tropical air, so I bailed back to the hotel while the boys finished about 20 minutes more. The hot headwinds were a little much, but what made the strongest impression that here we were, running along the Caribbean sea in prime waterfront, and we were running over garbage in vacant lots. How strange! In Cancun a few hours north that would have been millions of dollars for that real estate and in Belize it’s a junkyard lot. We met for killer omelettes at the Radisson brunch buffet and filled our bellies before dashing off to the water taxi. The boys had made a run to Brodie’s for cheap booze and we carted all of our luggage and beverages onto a crowded water taxi. I was really nervous but it turned out to be a very smooth ride, with stops at the golf course island (Caye Chapel) and Caye Caulker. We enjoyed beautiful views of mangroves growing into the sea, and clear turquoise water. We were excited and chattered non-stop. Well, I chattered non-stop anyway. 90 minutes later, we disembarked at the San Pedro dock. Hot hot hot! We were sweating into little pools when Armando came to greet us – he would be taking us to our villa. We piled into his van and were very confused when we arrived at a boat dock only two blocks later. We piled out again and he started loading our luggage into his boat. Apparently the roads were too bad to drive on, which was very ominous as we had rented golf carts for the week to drive to and from town. We decided to send the boys on up with our luggage while Mar, Kim and I shopped for some groceries. Armando came back for us and we had about a 10 minute trip up the coast, enjoying the beautiful coastline and the waves on the reef just beyond. The villa was beautiful and idyllic, isolated yet well set-up. We made some sandwiches quickly and drew straws for the rooms, then the boys went back to town via Armando to pick up the golf carts. Although Mike and I drew the short straw (the back bedroom), we had agreed that whoever got the back bedroom could change halfway so as to enjoy the view from the front bedrooms’ windows. Kim and Gene got one front bedroom and Aaron and Mar got the other, but they decided to keep their things in the back bedroom for the first half, and indeed ended up deciding it wasn’t worth the hassle to change halfway. We were very grateful and enjoyed our digs very much.
The girls unpacked and got things in order while the boys were gone, and we had just gotten into our bikinis and sat down to lounge by the pool when the boys got back with horror stories of the road. One golf cart’s roof had broken on the way home from a spectacular pothole – the road was like a lunar landscape! The boys cooled off with a swim and a little fishing, and toward evening we all glammed up a little for our New Year’s Eve dinner. We walked up the beach barefoot in the moonlight about 10 minutes to the Rojo Lounge, where we had an elaborate (and expensive) 7 course meal. Rachelle and Dave were already there, and the eight of us ate for 3-1/2 hours. The food was fantastic, featuring many local seafood dishes and vegetarian meals for me. We danced a little in the sand in front of the band, but most of the diners went home long before midnight. It wasn’t exactly a party atmosphere but we made sure we all had a drink for a midnight toast. The countdown never really happened although in Spanish they announced “two minutes to the new year”... then we waited five minutes and nothing happened. Finally the one English-speaking band member said into the mike: “Happy New Christmas” and we all laughed and hugged. We tried to start a Conga line but it fizzled quickly since we were the only ones involved! We walked home along the beach and had another drink or two before bed.
On New Year’s Day, we were slow to get up, and everyone trickled out to the palapa – the grass hut at the end of the pier. We spent time in our bathing suits in the sun and paddling in the warm water. Aaron was on the bonefish hunt, but we didn’t see any from the pier that morning. Rae and Dave arrived and we all lounged for a while before making some lunch. Mar and Aaron went with Rae and Dave back to their place while Kim and Gene, Mike and I lounged poolside and in the hammock. We got dressed a while later and took the golf cart on a horrible bumpy ride north to explore a bit. We got swarmed with bugs the moment we turned inland, so we abandoned that idea and headed south to meet the others for drinks at the Palapa Bar. We had drinks and nachos in the bar over the water, watching a kite surfer try to master the wind. The others saw a sting ray jump out of the water and we watched the boats come and go. It got a little chilly when the wind kicked up, so I drove us back via Captain Morgan’s Retreat to make reservations for dinner. We had our walkie-talkies so we could talk between the golf carts, so we had some fun with that! As we got back onto the main road, we saw something amazing – dozens of fireflies, flashing and dancing in the dusky air. None of us had ever seen firelies before so that was a real treat! We got dressed for dinner and got back to Captain Morgan’s for a poolside buffet. It was the location where Temptation Island was filmed, and it was a very beautiful spot for dinner. The reggae band was good, and we enjoyed a Belizean buffet of tamales, beans and rice, stew beef, coconut pie and key lime pie. I danced salsa with a man from another table who was an amazing dancer, and Kim and Mar participated in a musical chairs competition. We watched a limbo contest too (“Limbo Limbo Limbo!”) which was actually pretty pathetic! The six of us went back home and had a hilarious night playing games. We played Outburst and Cranium and laughed our butts off. If you get the chance, ask Aaron about the sleeping bag, Kim about DNA, Mar humming The Cars, Gene no “R” in chariot, Mike about the avocado, and my earthquake. OK, I know those are inside jokes but they’re making me laugh just writing about them...
On Wednesday morning we woke up to a storm. It was cold, as windy as could be, and the seas were rough. We had a light breakfast and then the girls did yoga on the beach while the boys took a golf cart back to R&D then ran back up the beach. Rae dumped her bicycle in some foul mud, so she was pretty miserable. We had eggs and toast for lunch, then Mike and Gene drove the golf cart into town with the intention of getting the roof fixed. The rest of us went down in Armando’s boat and met them at Armando’s dock. On the way, they had encountered an abandoned golf cart on the road with a broken axle, and discovered it to be our other cart that Rae and Dave had been driving. We were all very anxious since we had discovered Island Golf Carts tried to scam some other tourists, so we had no clue how much they would try to take us for. Aaron cancelled his credit card to be safe, but in the end they just gave us a replacement cart with no hassle. Mike and Gene decided to skip fixing the roof on our other one just so we wouldn’t cause problems. We were all quite glum due to the weather, and wandered around town a little. I got a few little things for the boys and changed some traveller’s cheques, but otherwise San Pedro wasn’t as charming as I’d hoped. We got yummy frozen custard, then got drinks and food at Fido’s – a Mayan Dragon drink for me, pina coladas and burritos. We were freezing and it certainly wasn’t the best meal ever. At 5 pm, Aaron, Dave and Rae got the replacement cart while Mike and Gene drove home. Kim, Mar and I went home via Armando with some more groceries. Aaron, Dave and Rae had another awful cart accident where Dave flipped the cart (driving too fast around a corner???) and nearly decapitated poor Rachelle. Aaron was thrown clear and the cart came down on Dave’s foot – we were sure it was broken. He is a doctor, though, so we deferred to his judgement and he treated himself with a few drinks to dull the pain. They were quite shaken up, so we took it easy, playing cards and ordering Pirate Pizza (Yo Ho Ho – Pizza to Go! 226-GOOD) that got delivered by water taxi. We sent Gene with the walkie-talkie in the pitch black to the pier to wait for the pizza guy and laughed a lot while communicating with him. We wrote communal postcards to our friends where we each wrote a sentence on each postcard to make a convoluted story, and we drank palapas (our own drink creation of coconut rum and Coke – yum!) We had a fun night listening to my iPod’s “Belize mix” and the girls even performed a dance routine to Footloose, choreographed by Kim when she was in elementary school. We played Pictionary and got to bed just after midnight.
I’ll leave you hanging here for now because this post is already so long. Part Two to follow soon!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

It's a Bird... It's a Plane... No, wait, it's Jet Lag!

I feel a little bit like I’ve been chucked in a blender. I am no longer sure exactly what time zone I’m in... I tried to stay on Belize time after our return (ahead of us by 2 hours), knowing that I would then be going to England in 2 days (ahead of us by 8 hours, but 9 hours ahead for the layover in Amsterdam, then back to 8) so hoping that the net difference of 6 hours would be easier to take. Did that make even the remotest sense? I surged through while in England (I think purely on adrenaline) and slept like a log at night – average 10 hours – and managed to stay awake most nights until almost 10 pm GMT. When I returned to BC Sunday night, I got a migraine just as we were pulling into the driveway and stumbled blind up to bed. I knocked myself out with painkillers and slept 11 hours, waking at 6 am. I thought to myself – this is great; I’m already over my jet lag!!! Fast forward to 2:48 pm today when my illusions came crashing down. Mike innocently asked if I was feeling well, and I may have responded something to the effect of “the kids are a**holes”. Not that I mean that, but I seemed to be unable to censor myself at that time. Thank goodness they were out of earshot. It’s 7:30 pm now, I’m barely conscious, and I have a very long day looming at work tomorrow. Hopefully I will keep busy enough that I won’t crash until later, but the book club girls are coming over tomorrow night. I may be booting them out fairly early tomorrow!!! (Sorry in advance, ladies!)
As for our quick trip to England, all went as well as could be expected. M&D had arrived the day before Briana, Ben and I. The three of us left Vancouver Wednesday afternoon, and flew to Amsterdam. We flew in a KLM Airbus in easily the worst seats I have ever sat in my entire life. I was sitting next to two brothers from Manchester of the soccer hooligan variety. They were really funny, though, and I enjoyed chatting with them. It was a good thing we became friends, because we all ended up spooning in order to get any rest. (Note I didn’t define it as sleep, because that would have been inaccurate) The seats were sooo bad that we all had to have our legs facing the same way at once or none of us could fit. Bear in mind that none of us were over 5’9” – what would have happened if I were 6’4”? Thank goodness they had 100 movies to choose from in our personal in-flight entertainment units. After a short layover in Amsterdam, Briana, Ben, my hooligans and I all got on a short hop to Manchester. Uncle Terry and Daddy met us at the airport and we piled in for the 45 minute drive to Formby, just the other side of Liverpool. Aunty Cathy and Mummy were waiting at home for us with a cup of tea, and later we enjoyed a roast chicken dinner with potatoes and lots of vegetables. The English do love their puddings, and we were lucky enough to get a lovely lemon one before finally succumbing to sleep around 9 pm.
I slept right through to the alarm at 7:30 am, then we all scrambled to get ready before the mourning cars arrived at 9:15. We drove in a convoy to the church where Gran went for most of her life. The priest was the priest who baptized Briana, and he’d known Gran and Granddad for probably 50 years, so we were very lucky to have a personalized service. He remembered Granddad and Aunty Rita both in his sermon, and the most poignant moment for me was when he read out what Gran would have said: “Good night, and God bless.” It was as if I could hear her saying it and it was very hard to keep it together at that point. Luckily (for me) Briana crumbled first and I was only able to hold it together by consoling her. We followed the coffin out and got into our cars again, to drive a short distance to the crematorium. After another short service, the curtains closed and we all filed out. The internment was Monday, so we were unable to stay to see her buried beside Granddad and Aunty Rita, but M&D were able to be there for that. After the crematorium everyone drove to the hall we had rented. In true English tradition we all ordered a pint (never mind that it was before noon) and that was it, the liquor started flowing. My relatives have an amazing capacity for alcohol; I have never seen people drink so determinedly. I am not exaggerating in the slightest when I say they were triple-fisted. One drink in each hand, and another on the table in front of them (in case of emergency, I guess?) Thankfully there was a buffet of food, too, things like pork pies, sandwiches, sausages – basically anything that was a fatty meat or a starch of some sort. But it soaked up the booze a little although we eventually all got kicked out at 3:30 pm. Have I mentioned how cold it was? We were shivering all day – I had about 6 cups of tea to warm myself but the drafty stone buildings got the better of me anyway. We took the wake back to Uncle Terry’s where the Donnellys and Bob joined us. The Donnelly sisters are hilarious and although it was a very sad day, we also did laugh a lot. Gran had a great sense of humour so I hope she would have enjoyed it, too.
Another 10 hours sleep for me that night, and I got up to find Daddy reading the Saturday paper. The rest of the house soon stirred and M&D, Briana, Ben and I decided to head into Liverpool for a few hours. We took the train in and walked around downtown a little. I stopped at the LFC shop and picked up a jersey each for Mike and the boys, and an official soccer ball too. Uncle Terry brought Thea in to meet us at the pub for lunch (egg, chips, sausages and beans along with a pint) and then we cruised through Marks & Spencer’s. I ended up with about ten packets of cookies and cakes with no idea how to pack them home. We took the train home again and had fish and chips from the local chippee for dinner. Liverpool tied their match so we could start drinking again (!) although it was definitely lower key Saturday night. Bob came over again and brought his son Robert, who we haven’t seen in 20 years. He had his two sweet daughters with him, Sophie and Sarah, ages 4 and 6. They were very sweet and I hope they get the chance to meet my boys in May when we come over to England and Portugal. We tried to get to bed at a reasonable time since the cab was coming at 5:15 am to get us to our flight.
Briana and I woke up around 2:30 am and that was it for sleep for us. We had packed the night before, and said quick goodbyes to M&D and Uncle Terry. We got to the airport for 6 am and then had 2-1/2 hours before our flight. (Note: we saw Liverpudlians pounding the pints back at 6:30 am in the airport - shudder) We left for Amsterdam, and arrived there about an hour later. Amsterdam to Seattle was more comfortable, since Briana was on the aisle, and I was next to her with an empty seat on the other side. Ben was across the aisle from Briana and had nobody next to him. It was still almost ten hours long... by the time we got to Seattle we were wrecked. It was so hard to be so close to home and yet so far! Briana was to fly on to Victoria, so we said goodbye in Seattle. Ben and I had nearly three hours to wait in Seattle and our 5 pm flight to Vancouver was late (I was very nearly reduced to tears at that point). It was great to see the boys and Mike at the airport, and Renee had come to pick Ben up too. Ethan and Jack were very affectionate with lots of hugs and kisses for a tired Mummy.
I am happy to be home but I do need a few more looonnnnggg nights of sleep before I will be completely human again. I hope to be in a better mental state to blog about Belize soon!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Happy New Year!

It's been a while since I posted, and there sure has been a lot going on. Of course there was Christmas, which was chaotic, lovely, crazy, and sweet. We celebrated with the Wafer clan on the Saturday before Christmas with an insanely huge pile of gifts to unwrap in the afternoon. Briana and Rob brought Liam and Kieran, Ben and Renee were there, Grandma and Granddad of course, the four of us and our cousin Annwen. After present-ripping was done, we took the four boys to the Stanley Park train and the Bright Nights light display. It was great, and the boys loved the lights and the train. We returned to my parents' place after for a fantastic dinner and drove home, full and happy.
Sunday, Mike and I did some last-minute shopping for the boys while they played at Grandma Sugar's. It was a bit of a zoo at the mall and at Costco (surprised?) but somehow we finished what we needed. After the boys went to bed that night, I wrapped for hours. Mike claimed he couldn't help in an amazing display of ineptitude ("How do you wrap? Do you fold it over like this?") that made my blood boil. I wasn't feeling very Christmassy at that point, let me tell you, even after a Bailey's or five. He wrapped a grand total of four stocking stuffers to my hundred or so.
By the time Christmas Eve dawned, I was almost ready to look at Mike again without throwing things. Luckily he spent the morning out with Ethan shopping for me which appeased me somewhat. We visited Jen and Laurence so the boys could exchange presents with Hannah, and then went to visit Mike's Gram. We had a nice visit although she got quite cranky as we waited for Barry and Connie to meet us there. She kept saying things like "Why is he screaming" as Jack ran by screeching, or "What is he doing" as Ethan tore around the TV room pushing her walker. Patience stretches thin at age 90-something...
Finally we got home although our lateness made my nice Christmas Eve dinner impossible - we settled for rummaging through the fridge for sandwich stuff. Ethan wrote a letter to Santa and they laid out cookies and carrots, and a nice glass of milk. The kids were very excited but wound down nicely when threatened with a Santa no-show.
Christmas morning started at 6:30 - Mike got up to use the bathroom and we hear this little Ethan voice - "Is it time Daddy?" He decided to watch us open our stockings, and then couldn't stand it any longer and woke Jack up so they could open theirs. I think the big hit of the stockings was a Canucks puck each. Their faces when they got downstairs were priceless. The picture I tried to take of Jack is actually just a blurry streak racing past the lens. Rip rip rip and we're done stockings and tree presents all by 7:40. Then the building begins - lego, playmobil, board games... they are spoiled rotten but they loved it. I managed to escape upstairs and relaxed in bed with a magazine, then had a bath before the boys discovered me again. We didn't head over to Grandma Sugar's until 3 pm, so the day was a nice mix of chaos and sweet down time too. We had a great feast and another ton of presents at Susan's, and Barry joined us for dinner. Laden with doggy bags and boxes of presents, we made our exhausted way home at 10. The boys were in high gear from 6:30 am to 10:00 pm, and when they crashed, they crashed hard!
Mike had to work the rest of the week, and I spent the few days preparing for our trip to Belize and the boys' vacation at the grandparents. We were just waking up on the morning of our departure when I got some bad news from Daddy. My Gran in England passed away. She was 99 years old, and the loveliest lady you could ever meet. I will miss her dearly and I will cherish the times we spent together through the years. Daddy told me to go to Belize anyway, and they would have the funeral after I got home. Susan had the boys from the 29th to New Year's Day, then they were to go to M&D's for 4 nights before returning here with Susan to await our return. In the end, that all still worked ok, and Daddy made our travel arrangements for England while I was gone. The boys were mostly good for their little holiday, but Jack the Terror raised a little hell for poor Grandma Kittycat. It was great to come home to those little adorable boys and get all the hugs and kisses I'd been missing for a week!
Belize is a blog all to itself (coming soon) but let me sum it up a little - it was so much fun to travel by ourselves (as grown-ups!) with our amazing friends. We have memories that we will treasure forever. To the Palapa Party Crew: Limbo Limbo Limbo! Love you guys.
I am off in an hour or so, heading to England for Gran's funeral. I'll only be gone 4 nights; the boys have already designated it "Party time". Look out for them!