Monday, May 26, 2008

So Many Firsts. . . (Beware- this is a long one!)

Well it has been over a week now that I have been home from Cancun ( or as Katie calls it "Cocoon"), and I figure I better write about it before I forget it all. My short term memory seems to be getting smaller and smaller these days. This trip encompassed so many firsts for me... my first passport and thus my first time out of the country, my first Sudoku puzzle-pesky, addictive little buggers-, my first time doing a zip line, my first time snorkeling, my first time parasailing, my first time being solicited to bribe a police officer- by the police officer,... I know that one got your attention, but you'll have to wait for it. Eric invited his two employees and their spouses to go with us. One of his employees is my cousin- Andrew and he and his wife are a lot of fun. It was a good group. Although we baffled many a waiter by refusing both alcohol and coffee. "You don't want to have fun?!? was asked often. They would walk away shaking their heads- "Crazy Caucasians." But I am happy to report we did have a lot of fun and even better- we remember it!

One of my favorite new experiences was snorkeling. It was so fun to feel like you were in a giant aquarium. I can imagine that scuba diving would be even better and before I was married, I started to get certified but never finished. I think that should be a new goal for me.

I also really enjoyed the zip line. And of course I have a funny story to go with this experience. Our guides were harnessing us up and giving instructions. They were talking so fast and I couldn't catch all the steps. I would turn to ask someone what they were saying and by the time I figured that step out, I had already missed another one. So as we climbed the 100 foot tower to the top of the zip line, I was a bit nervous. The wind was blowing hard at the top and you could feel the tower sway a bit. Two people went in front of me- one being Eric- and then the guide pulled me up. I stood on a wood bench as he hooked me up to the line. The bench wobbled a bit and I muttered something about it falling apart. The guide responded: (Now read all parts by the guide with a Mexican accent) "That is how to know it is safe. It didn't fall apart." Oh that's comforting! Then he tells me to step off the bench where there is nothing between me and a 100 ft drop. Here is how the rest of our conversation went:
Guide: Ready?

Me: Wait! Let me practice. (Practice applying the brake.)
Guide: (waiting patiently, but probably really irritated by this wimpy gringo, while I go through the proper brake application.) You ready?
Me: (With legs and arms visibly shaking) Yes, but I'm really scared!

Guide:Yes, it's normal. Shove.
And off I go screaming like my mother.

But I liked it enough to go three more times. The "yes, it's normal" became our mantra for the whole trip. Anytime something happened that didn't seem quite right or a bit unusual we would just look at each other and say, "yes, its normal." -obviously with appropriate mexican accent. And if you have ever been to Mexico, their standard for "normal" is a bit different than ours. Like when a guy approached us after dinner asking us if we wanted any coke or marijuana or when the staff at "Carlos and Charlie's" did a conga line right around our table with a bullhorn blaring in our ears. It was all normal.
Another fun experience was parasailing. Eric and I got in the basket to take off and I looked for a bar to bring down on top of me- you know silly me I wanted some sort of contraption that would prevent me from falling at 200 feet in the air. I even signaled this to the guy helping us, but he just waved and smiled as we took off. I swear he was saying, "Yes, it's normal" as we were taking off!

Here are some more fun pictures from our trip.

What happens in Cancun, stays in Cancun!

Ok-you've read enough to get to the best story from our whole trip. One day we rented a car to drive to Chichen Itza- the Mayan ruins inland. It took us 3 1/2 hours to drive there because for once in our life we decided to be frugal and take the free "highway" instead of the toll road. Well we found out there is a reason it is free. It takes a lot longer. Anyway the ruins were fascinating and we got to hear a lot of "Hey, lady. This statue almost free you know." or "A deal for de honeymooners."
But our story picks up when we were coming off the toll road into downtown Cancun. (Yes, we wised up and took the toll road home.) We were cruising along keep level with another car when we get pulled over. The uniformed police officer comes up to our window and starts speaking Spanish until we are able to communicate that we don't speak much Spanish. So he begins again in English. Here is the transcipt- from my recollection-
Officer: You were going 80kph in a 40 kph zone.
Eric: Oh, I didn't see any sign showing a change in speed limit.
Officer: I need your driver's license.
Eric hands it over.
Officer: This is what we do. I take your license and you can pick it tomorrow at the police station on Tulum Avenue and you pay a 1000 peso fine.
Eric: Ok, where is the police station?
Officer: It is on Tulum.
Eric: Ok, but where on Tulum?
Officer: It is just on Tulum.
Eric: Do you have an address I can write down?
Kari: Or a piece of paper saying we got a ticket?
Officer: Ok, this is what I do. This be between you and me. You give me what you think is fair and I give you your license and we forget the whole thing.
Eric: (a bit taken back) What is customary for you to receive?
Officer: Oh. no. That is for you to decide.
Officer goes back to his motorbike to get his ticket book and Eric looks for the smallest bill he has- besides one dollar. Officer comes back and Eric hands him a twenty which he takes under his ticket book, then gives Eric his license back.
Officer: (With hand outreached) We friends- between you and me. (Well, now between Eric, the officer and anybody who reads my blog!)
Eric: (Shaking his hand)- Yes- we friends.
After getting over the shock of being solicited for a bribe by a police officer, we all laughed and decided having the story was worth the 20 bucks. And just in case you were wondering, "Yes, it's normal!"

Thursday, May 22, 2008

"We've been accepted into the neighborhood!"

Well- actually we've lived in our neighborhood for over 5 years and if they haven't accepted us by now that's too bad and its wasn't my neighbors who did this-well to be accurate it was one of my neighbors and her crazy posse. But that is what my grandpa said years ago when his family got toilet-papered. So when I woke up this morning to my kids cries of disgust over our newly remodeled front yard, I knew we were a loved family. Toilet-papering is a completely foreign idea to my kids and they just couldn't understand why someone would do this. I tried to reassure them that it was okay and that it was my friends who did this. But this backfired on me when Annie went out to inspect their work and I told her to start cleaning it up. She retorted back, "They're your friends, you should clean it up." Well isn't that a big dose of your own motherly medicine given a bit too early in the morning! You may be wondering what weird friends I have that would do this to show love. You'll have to visit Julie's blog to get the full details and to see the culprits in action. But in their defense I was invited on this excursion and when I wooseed out because I was too tired, I knew full well that I was a prime target. I even had a dream that my yard was toilet papered and they had put all the neighbors' garbage cans in my driveway. Now that would have been a good idea. Its no wonder they wanted me to come with them! :) Here's more pictures from my fun morning surprise!

Did I mention it rained last night? Nice! Next time you guys want to show me you love me- why don't you just come in my house and dump out all the cookies and crackers out of my cupboard and then step on them. That's what Suzie does to show her affection for me. Plus it would have been easier to clean up!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

"I've got my country's 500th anniversary to plan, my wedding to arrange, my wife to murder and Guilder to frame for it; I'm swamped."

Okay- so I know I have been the lamest blogger on earth recently. I don't know if anyone even reads it anymore except my sister and mom -and I may have even lost their readership as well, but I swear this time of year can be even more crazy than the holidays- with all the rectials, end of year programs, mother's day, field trips, spring sports and everyone wanting to throw in one last activity before the summer. (Which by the way scares the bugebees out of me- having my kids home all summer.) And on top of it all Eric and I went to Cancun, Mexico last week and I know what you're thinking- "Waa, waa- it must be so hard to have a week in paradise." And it wasn't , but it was crazy getting ready for it and now I am paying the price for having gone. But I think right now is a good time to use a quote my friend Liz put on her blog awhile ago when she was getting ready for a trip to Mexico. "My wallet's too small for my fifties and my diamond shoes are too tight." I think the original source of that quote is "Friends", but it fits so well when one is complaining about getting to take the time to go on a completely relaxing trip without any children. Now you know I have plenty of info to blog about from Cancun, but this will have to do for now- I cried like a baby on Friday night because I didn't want to come back to my life. No joke! I think I was meant to have the ocean out my front door and a cabana boy to fetch me towels, pina coladas and whatnot! And being the mother of 4, there is no easing back into life when you come home from a vacation. You walk in the door and BAM- you have diapers coming out your front door and you're fetching chocolate milk, laundry and whatnot! The one consolation I did have in all this is when I got home I found my sister and brother-in-law in complete awe and exhaustion having done the job, I do basically alone, all week. I greatly appreciate them being tricked into watching our kids for a week- especially since they have no children and taking care of 4 kids under 9 for a week was a bit of a "baptism by fire" to say the least. They did a wonderful job- despite broken dishes, kids left at preschool, kids locked in bathrooms and deflated soccer balls-:)! Just teasing Natalie and J.J.! They were amazing and I was never worried for a second while on my trip. But I did smile a little inside when they talked about how hard it was and they didn't know how I did it. And sometimes I don't know how I do either, but I am grateful that I could have a week like last week to recharge me. Stay tuned for pictures and stories, but right now I think I hear one of those pina coladas calling me. Wait... no, its just another request for a sippy cup of juice. Oh well!