puerto rico, part three-and-a-half

i left you hanging, didn't i? marc's parents were visiting over the weekend, it snowed again. and then again. my car went out of commission ... again. it was a full, stressful, busy week.

in light of that, i'm not going to get into the nerdy geeky cool thing we did on our last day. today i'm just going to leave you with your moment of zen, let's say. our thursday evening spent walking on the beach and collecting shells.

we'll get to the nerdy cool stuff in a day or two and finally be done with spring break. it's time, right?

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there you have it.

namaste.


puerto rico, part 3

before i share happy, sunny pix, i just have to say that my heart goes out to boston and all of those who were involved, directly or indirectly. boston is one of those cities that i am inexplicably in love with ... it's like i must have lived there in a past life or something, and felt at home the minute i first set foot in it. five years ago, i was in boston with marc while he was on business, and managed to end up at the ticker tape parade for the celtics after they won the nba championship. i was with marc's uncle, his cousin, and his cousin's girlfriend, and we stood, literally, across the street from where the first bomb went off on monday. it could have happened just like that: same place, same crowds, same happy ignorance of anything but celebration and pride.

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and to whomever did this: if you had some big point you were trying to make, stop being a coward. own up to what you did, get your sick "credit," and tell us what the point was. because right now, all we think is that you are a heartless chickenshit.

and with that, puerto rico:

after our day in san juan and my night of courting the porcelain god, we decided to take it easy on tuesday. which turned into taking it easy on wednesday, too. the kids only wanted to swim in the ocean, look for shells, swim in the pool, and siesta. oh, we got really good at the siesta.

and all i have to show for it are iphone pix ... that's how lazy it was.

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we would head down to the patio restaurant, grab a table, then grab breakfast at the buffet. every morning: i had an omelet, harper had pancakes, henry had bacon, and marc had juice. (and sometimes fruit and a pastry.) we would then wander the beach for awhile, ease into the day, and head too far into the surf looking for shells. which resulted in losing half of our wardrobe to salt, sand, and water. you would think we would have learned to wear swimsuits to breakfast.

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and there was the one morning when, after breakfast, we ran into the coconut man. he walks several miles up the beach early in the morning, climbing palm trees and chopping down coconuts, then on his return trip he sells the coconuts - chops them open and serves them up. just like that. now, harper is in love with coconut but has only had the dried-out nasty ones from the grocery. she was in heaven, eating real, fresh coconut.

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henry still hates it. fresh or otherwise.

when we did finally put on suits and head to the pool, the kids and marc swam, and i stayed in the shade, wearing spf 400, a cover-up, a hat, and reading a book.

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occasionally, someone would come visit me.

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but about that time, marc would say, "let's eat lunch in the pool!" and they would flee ... to the swim-up bar, to order burgers and fries. and i would then get in the water and go join them. and then we'd all swim for another hour or so.

turns out, you really can't enforce the "no swimming for an hour after eating" rule when you're eating IN the pool. just fyi.

around 2 p.m. or so, we'd make the parental decision that the kids had had too much sun for the day, and we'd head in. at this point, we became firm believers in the power of the siesta. the kids would go to their room and watch "tom & jerry" for two hours, i would read and/or watch two hours of giada and ina, and marc would read (no, seriously ... he read a book! a whole book!) or nap. and it was blissful.

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(there was that one ill-advised afternoon when henry joined us for channel-flipping and we lost half an hour of our lives to "amish mafia.")

 after that, we'd go back out to the pool until dinner.

one of the days, harper had her other "best day ever!" ... she hung out with an iguana.

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we'd seen a couple of smaller iguanas and a gecko just hanging out in the pool area, and harper was determined to see one up close. on this day, the granddaddy iguana came lumbering out of the garden and was walking slowly across the pool deck. harper was very stealthy (as stealthy as one can be while containing giggles of glee) and followed it all around the deck. soon, one of the restaurant workers walked over by her and started feeding the iguana some shredded lettuce.

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then he handed harper the rest of the lettuce and told her to feed the lizard, whom he called "pepe."

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(and, seriously ... what is it about my girl that makes total strangers just hand her food to feed wild animals? should i be concerned about that?)

but pepe was soon in love with harper and wouldn't leave her side. it got to the point that harper was sitting, petting pepe, feeding him little leaves that she found on the ground.

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soon enough, another little iguana came running over to pepe, and then the two iguanas wandered back into the palms.

for the record, yes - she now wants an iguana.

after another hour or so in the pool, we would head back to the room to get cleaned up for dinner. one night we were back on the hotel patio - the restaurant, sirena, made some really yummy stuff - but another night marc found a place online that sounded good. and it looked - on the map - to be about seven blocks away. so we started walking. and it was a pretty walk.

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but when the map had us turn down an alley into a residential area, marc had to wonder if we were actually heading to a seafood place. signs pointed decidedly to no.

so we stopped walking, looked up another place, and backtracked about four blocks. around this time, harper had decided she was over the walking, she was hungry, she wasn't happy that we'd dragged her out into this misery of uncertainty, and whatever else she could whine about.

finally, we turned into the el san juan resort, where the restaurant, koko, was located, harper grumbling the whole way.

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(i almost wish i had video instead of a picture, so you could hear the bitching and foot stomping. it would have been funny had i not been completely done with her.)

then we got into the restaurant and sat down, and she kept moaning and groaning.

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then we ate, she and marc split some mango crepes for dessert, and she decided life was good again.

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she's a real treat, that one.

dinner was, again, delicious. we ate some really good food on this trip.

after two days of doing not much of anything, we decided that our last full day needed to be filled with something. so we got a good night's sleep, and made plans for a fun thursday. but i'll get to that next time.


el viejo san juan y el morro

i just left you hanging, didn't it? sorry. i was shoveling yesterday.

so after lunch at ceviche house, we grabbed a taxi into old san juan. the driver dropped us off at el morro, the old fort, and we started our self-guided, self-propelled tour.

and, truly, nothing has changed since we were there three years ago, so i didn't take too many pictures of el morro itself. you can always revisit that here. i did, however, notice something i hadn't noticed then: there are burglar alarms. in the fort. the fort that was built, by definition, to keep people out. and they used the word "burglar." i was amused.

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anyway, we started in the center section of the fort and looked at all of the rooms and read about their various purposes. the kids were vaguely interested in the bunk room ... not even the idea of sleeping on wooden platforms in a room without windows seemed to make a huge impression on them.

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and the beautiful symmetry that caught my eye? they walked right through it.

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harper perked up a little when we got to a window overlooking the ocean, where the best breeze was blowing in. but yes, my eldest was on his cell. probably trying to get wi-fi.

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brat.

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he finally got a bit interested when cannons were involved.

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and when he had to squeeze into a lookout tunnel thingy.

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at the top of the fort, the kids found a long-range viewer and thought that was pretty great.

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and then they all gathered in one of the little guard house thingies.

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and we just kept exploring. and, for the most part, they were alert.

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once we'd seen all we could see, we walked into old san juan. where it got progressively hotter ... and hotter.

we stopped at the piraqua cart for authentic, hand-made snowcones. henry got raspberry, i got pineapple, marc got coconut, and harper asked for anise. crazy kid loves anise. she eats the seeds when we get indian food. but the piragua guy looked as her and shook his head. "no. es no good. she won't like." rather than get into a discussion about the odd taste buds of our eight year old, we told her to pick something else. so she opted for coconut, too.

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she then proceeded to grump and pout about who-knows-what and cause us all to banish her 20 feet away from us.

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then she started to wander, where she looked at birds and bugs and found a stray cat ...

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and she became moderately happy again.

once our snowcones were gone, we continued through the streets of old san juan. at this point, we were all tired and hot and sweaty. harper was a grouch, i was concerned that we were getting too much sun, and i think we all just wanted to head back to the pool.

we reached a plaza, where the kids and i sat while marc ducked into walgreens (yes, walgreens), on the street level of this lovely old light blue building, to get some aloe and more sunscreen.

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while we were waiting, we started to notice all of the pigeons in the plaza. harper, being nature girl, finally got a smile on her face and started to stalk the birds.

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pretty soon a mass of them started to flap around.

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but did you see the guy at the left of the photo? with the bag of bird seed in his hands? he took one look at harper and saw Easy Mark written all over her.

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and pretty soon, harper had her hands full.

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and then her hands got really full.

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and then it was more than just her hands.

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then henry came over and offered himself up as Mark #2.

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sadly, this was the highlight of the trip for harper. it cost us $5. we could have gone downtown minneapolis with a bag of seed for that.

oh well.

(and yes ... that is snowcone on henry's shirt. he takes after his mom. (i totally had snowcone on my shirt, too.))

we got a taxi for the return trip to the hotel, just in time to see a lovely sunset off our balcony. we cleaned up a bit and headed down to dinner.

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where we opted for the buffet inside vs the restaurant on the patio like the night before.

and, after a day in the hot sun, i had a pesto and chicken dish that was swimming in oil.

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and ended our first full day in puerto rico wrapped around the hotel room toilet.

es no good.

 


puerto rico, part 1

i've decided to drag out telling you about spring break because we're expecting more snow. like, the potential of 6-10" by end of day thursday. normally, i'd be all, "woohoo!! snow!!" but seriously. it's mid-april. i'm over it.

especially when i have the wee-est bit of a tan. hard to go back to mittens.

so (and if we're friends on facebook and/or instagram, you're going to see a lot of repeats. it is what it is.):

we left the house at 5:30 a.m. easter morning to catch our plane. the kids were troopers and were up and at 'em without any complaints. i think they were excited. we got to the airport, swung by a dunn bros to fuel up (pastries for the boys and harp, coffee and a turkey sandwich for me. i like protein in the morning.), then headed to our gate. marc had gotten us into the "comfort" section of the plane, so we had a little leg room, which was nice.

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our first stop was nyc, and the kids got a veeeerrrryyyy distant glimpse of the skyline.

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we ate a quick lunch, then it was back on the plane for about four hours. during which i sat between the kids, and marc was across the aisle with headphones and a movie.

so that was great.

harper kept me entertained, though. she finally figured out how to blow bubbles, and proceeded to take a bunch of photos and videos of herself doing so.

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the stinker deleted them all, though. i was planning to share the funniest video with you. trust me: it was so funny i had tears running down my face. oh well.

anyway, we finally landed in san juan at dinnertime, in gray and rainy skies. not a great welcome, but the kids didn't care one bit: there was an ocean outside of our room, and they were thrilled.

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and if you apply enough filters to your pix in instagram and pictapgo, you can make it look like a beautiful day.

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we were concerned that our rooms would be separated because there was no guarantee of getting them adjoining, even though we requested it. it was very much a "first come, first served" situation, and i was terrified that it would be me and harper, alone, for the next four bedtimes. but marc pulled out his platinum status and got two adjoining rooms, with balconies, and beach views. the dubious upside of being a frequent business traveler. it all worked out perfectly.

after a stretch and some time to just relax, we walked downstairs to see what our restaurant options were. there was a buffet inside, or a restaurant that served outside on the patio. we were all over that, regardless of the rain. and when they brought lighted menus to our table, we knew dinner would be pretty okay.

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the food was better than okay, though, and we rolled ourselves back to the room to crash. but only after letting the kids get their feet wet in an ocean for the first time. and harper managed to find two really neat shells ... at night. in the dark. the kid's a natural.

the next morning, they were up and ready to get to the beach. after breakfast, off they ran to check out the ocean, and harper was over the moon to find more seashells.

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a few hours later, it was time for lunch. we got cleaned up and grabbed a taxi into san juan, where we ate at the ceviche house.

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now, marc grew up in ecuador, and loves shrimp ceviche more than anything, so he looks for it everywhere we go and tries to find the one that will most closely resemble the one from his youth at the beach. naturally, when he found this place, it was a no-brainer. we were going to eat here.

we got several small things to share - fried plantains, fried yucca, ceviche (which was good, but not what he was hoping it would be), empanadas, arroz con pollo, and some steak thing. it was all fabulous. totally authentic, and even the kids loved it. we were stuffed.

so, naturally, it seemed like a perfectly good time to head into old san juan to walk around the fort. for the remainder of the afternoon. in sunny 90 degree temps. which didn't end well for me.

but that's a story for tomorrow ...


teaser

the kids had spring break this past week and we actually went away!! i'll post pix and stories over the course of the week, but considering half the pictures i took are on my phone, i need to spend some time organizing.

but here's a little teaser and a hint:

it rhymes with "shmerto pico."

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give me a day and i'll be back ...


westward

when i said things were going to be crazy? i didn't mention it was because we were taking a trip out west. a trip that would cover six days and five states - not including minnesota - and more than 2000 miles.

we made it. my car made it. and we had a great time.

the whole point of the trip was my cousin katie's wedding in boulder. but marc and i decided that since it had been years since we'd gotten away - even longer, if you factor in taking the kids with us - we would drive and make it an adventure. a day in denver ... a weekend in boulder ... and then stops at devil's tower and mt rushmore on the way home. unfortunately, there was a miscommunication in the planning stage, and marc blocked off tuesday to tuesday for vacation days, and i planned wednesday to wednesday. which meant that wyoming (devil's tower) and mt rushmore (south dakota) would have to take place on the same day.

that was not wise.

but we made it, and it was all great.

(highlights, with pix, in this album.)

we left bright and early wednesday, with the intention of making it to omaha for lunch. a friend, lisa, recommended jones bros for a good sandwich and cupcake, and it was the perfect stop for us. what's not to like about cupcakes and macarons?

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then we trekked across the remainder of nebraska and entered colorado with enough daylight left to keep our eyes trained for something interesting.

nothing, actually, ever appeared.

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so we grabbed some thai in fort morgan, the sun set, and we arrived in denver in the dark - 16 hours after we left, figuring the next day would be better.

it totally was.

we had the morning to ourselves, so we headed to the denver aquarium. the kids love fish, we love fish ... and i'd read that there was a mermaid show. the idea of harper seeing REAL mermaids was too good to pass up.

and by golly, there were real mermaids.

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harp was speechless. and i was wishing i'd known about this back when i was in high school ... it would have been my dream job.

after the aquarium, we drove to my aunt & uncle's house in denver to hang out with the family and head en masse to boulder for dinner. somehow, seventeen of us fit around a table at a crowded pasta place, and we had a great time.

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friday morning, that same group - minus three, who went horseback riding, but plus my cousin elizabeth and her boyfriend - headed to the flatirons in chautauqua park to go hiking.

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i had to go harper's pace, and she made it just over half a mile up then decided she was done. of course, about that time we reached the bluebell-baird junction and had no clue which way everyone else went ... the ones NOT going harper's pace. so her being done was okay ... otherwise, we probably would have turned the wrong way and ended up on the evening news. about half the group made it another three-quarters of a mile, and the other half pushed on to the royal arch. marc and henry stopped about ten minutes from the arch. they said the climb got pretty serious at that point.

henry had a blast ... i was reminded how much that monkey has always loved to climb. makes me wonder if he'll take that up as a sport someday. wouldn't surprise me a bit, but definitely scares me a little.

that night was the rehearsal dinner ... a fairly simple yet posh affair at a downtown art gallery. my sister and i laughed quite a lot and i realized how much i've missed living near her and hanging out. we can definitely get the giggles going after a few drinks.

saturday morning was unstructured, so most of us opted to hit the boulder farmers market. it was such an experience. now, we love our local farmers markets, but they are more urban and permanent. the one in boulder just appears by a bike path and green space. the vibe is laid back and friendly and natural. and the people watching is excellent.

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(i say "free spirits." marc says "whack jobs." poTAto, poTAHto. whatever.)

we spent about three hours wandering and sampling, then needed to get going. marc had forgotten a tie, my dad had brought one that wasn't in great shape, and my mom needed dancing shoes, so we smashed together in our car and headed to the mall for a quick errand. accomplished, we ate a quick lunch of shawarma and falafel (and the best lemongrass-ginger iced green tea i've ever had) and then returned to the hotel to get ready for the wedding.

the wedding was at the beautiful st julien hotel, and it was a wonderful evening.

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i was having a great time dancing at the reception with my family, but noticed my husband and children's absence. they were out on the patio ... kids on ipods and husband looking at me like, "can we go now?" since we were at a different hotel than everyone else, i was - sadly - without options. (at some point in my life, i WILL stay and dance and have fun somewhere, dammit. maybe with my second husband.) but we had an early wake-up sunday and leaving was, probably, prudent. so i didn't pout. much. i'll just say that he's lucky he's hot.

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sunday morning came early and we drove an hour north of boulder to visit heather, who went to high school with marc in ecuador and whom i have since gotten to know on facebook. we are cut from the same cloth in many ways - talking to someone who shares your views with the same passion is refreshing. her magazine, get born, was how we ended up talking in the first place and realized we should really be friends. hanging out with her and her kids for a few hours was truly great. everyone had a really nice time.

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after leaving heather's, it was time to cover wyoming. the plan was to end the day in gillette so we could wake up first thing the next morning and head straight to devil's tower without more major driving. well, that meant another six hours in the car. by this point, i think we were all a bit road-weary, but we pushed on.

wyoming started out quite lovely and surprising ...

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then got decidedly less so ...

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but we survived, dropped our stuff at the fairfield inn, and crossed the road for a dinner at perkins that basically no one ate because we were too darn tired.

in the morning, we decided the kids needed to blow off some steam so we wandered to the "indoor pool" to splash around for a bit.

here's a lesson: when you read "indoor pool" at the fairfield inn in gillette, wyoming, please note that "indoor pool" in an understatement. this thing was full-on kidawesome. two slides ... lazy river ... separate pool for little kids ... separate pool for basketball. and we were the only people in it.

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the minis splashed and had a ball for an hour, then we pulled ourselves away for the one-hour drive to devil's tower ... after showering and packing up suitcases and checking out yet again. (at this point we were on day five, hotel number four.)

the drive to devil's tower went quickly, and when it appeared we were all awe-struck. what a neat place. the tower itself is amazing and cool as all get-out, but the 1.3 mile walk around it was truly great ... peaceful, lovely, fun. we had a really good time.

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too soon, we were done and back in the car ... for two more hours ... to rapid city, south dakota. the plan to squeeze devil's tower and mt rushmore into one day was ill-advised but unavoidable. however, we made the executive decision to eat our first good, relaxed, sit-down meal in the last six days, and found a steakhouse by our (fifth) hotel. we dined. we dawdled. we ordered dessert. and by the time we were done, we were relaxed and happy, but the sun was starting to set and the temperature had dropped into the mid-50s. and we were in shorts & t-shirts.

realizing that mt rushmore would probably be pretty cold once the sun was fully set, we opted for a quick run into a store for sweatshirts. there had to be one nearby, right? google map insisted yes, there was a kohl's right around the corner. well ... no. it was not. not there at all. so back to google ... was there a target? yes. two miles and 57 stoplights in the other direction. we got there, got shirts, and were back in the car in less than 10 minutes, but now it was 7:50 and the lighting ceremony was to start at 8 ... 40 minutes away.

we started driving, following google map's directions, and on the very last turn realized ... there's no way this is it. so i googled "mt rushmore" on REAL google, not maps, and it said, "turn around and drive 15 minutes THAT way, dummy." needless to say, we finally got to mt rushmore at 8:45 ... it closes at 9.

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it was still an awe-inspiring sight, and being there at night made it feel somehow more intimate and humbling and meaningful. so it worked out okay.

then they started locking doors and telling us to leave.

so ... 40 minutes back to our new hotel, to find toothbrushes and jammies and get a good night's rest before crawling back in the car for the eight-hour trip home.

we were so ready.

the good thing is, after all those states and miles and hours and hotels - and something breaking off my muffler and rattling around in colorado ... and then my radiator cap detaching from the hose and needing to be jury-rigged by my husband, wielding a pair of scissors from my son's backpack - we had a really fantastic time. every bit of it. and we may have even said, "wouldn't it be fun to drive to yellowstone and grand canyon?" without any hint of sarcasm. sure, the kids had their moments. and i may have had a moment. and marc had about as close to a moment as he gets. but that many days on a hotel bed can make a person need a moment now and then. overall, it was a successful, fun, memorable trip ... and the good moments way outweighed the bad.


lumping stuff together

i had zero time last week, so today you get a smorgasbord.

first off all, happy belated labor day. what did we do? well, marc had meetings on friday in milwaukee, so the kids and i tagged along for a cheap 36 hour mini-only break we've had since april vacation.

while marc was working, i took the kids to the little hotel pool.

they had fun ...

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they practiced synchronized forward somersaults ...

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and then played a little marco polo, which led to this:

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sad little lip.

she got over whatever it was within moments, though, and they were soon having a water fight. which was all sorts of fun ...

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until it wasn't ...

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kills you, doesn't it?

so while she pouted, henry decided to try out the hot tub ...

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all of his screaming and weirdness got a smile out of harper, so she then forgave henry for whatever it was he'd done and decided to experience the sensation of boiling alive, too ...

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once they were both hot and melty, they decided to jump back in the pool to freeze themselves ...

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which, within minutes, became this ...

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(are you kidding me with this face, harper? seriously, is it that bad?!)

apparently, no, not that bad. within moments, they were trying water ballet ...

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and all was well.

ding dongs.

after cleaning up, we waited for marc to come get us, then we headed to the mitchell park conservatory dome gardens.

i took many lovely pictures. all of plants. you get this one:

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after that, we drove to the shore of lake michigan and took a walk. lake michigan, wherever i happen to find it, always brings me peace (see: this and this), and this was no exception. the breeze ... the water ... it was a great walk.

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until the kids got into it over something, harper threw a fit, she had to sit in time-out under a tree, and i watched the boats in the marina and tried to "ohm" my way back to peace.

after that, we ate dinner, went back to the hotel, swam again, and called it a day.

saturday morning, we detoured to blue mounds, wis., on the way home so we could take the kids to the cave of the mounds park. a real, live, millions-of-years-old cave near madison.

the kids thought we were the bomb for taking them there ... score one for us.

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the tour took about an hour, and both of the kids were fascinated and interested the whole time. (that never happens.)

once back in daylight, we stopped in the gift shop, where henry declared he didn't need anything (my boy is growing up!) and harper picked out a geode to crack open.

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when we took it outside to clean off ...

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henry spent time creating a dam system out of the quarry sluice and the sifting pans.

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given that he's been doing this at every water feature he's ever found since the age of two, i told henry it seemed like his natural dream job would be a hydrologist, a dam engineer. which then became us going the whole "national lampoon's vegas vacation/hoover dam" sequence route ...

"henry, you should be a dam engineer."

"i'd have a dam job! i'd get a dam paycheck! i could use the dam bathroom!"

which caused him a great amount of pleasure, to be saying that in front of his mom. and it was not only totally okay, it was totally hilarious.

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(three days later, on the first day of school, he had to write up a survey in science about how he's a scientist, and how his future would include science. and he wrote about wanting to become a hydrologist ... he even squeaked in phrases like "dam engineer" and "dam job." oh, my.)

speaking of first day of school ...

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middle school. first grade.

fingers crossed.

actually, so far, so good. they both had a great first week and have started making new friends. it helps that i'm driving them out to the new neighborhood to ride the bus ... a dozen kids get on and off for middle school, and there are nearly 30 kids at our bus stop for elementary school. they basically take up the whole bus ... it's crazy. crazy good.

speaking of the house ...

we now have electrical:

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and water ...

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and appliances ...

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(appliances that i really, really can't wait to play with ...)

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yeah, baby.

oh, and remember that ikea maskros light i was going to hack?

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and soon it looked kinda like this?

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well, now it looks like this:

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(broader spectrum of updated photos here)

so now we are TWO weeks from closing. we went out this morning and found that all the barn doors are now up, the hardware will be on soon, driveway is done, and this week should see the return of the painters, exterior paint, carpet installation, finalization of electrical and plumbing ... we're in the home stretch. to the untrained eye, it looks like an impossible list. but hey ... not my problem. we close on the 23rd ... it's up to them to meet their deadline. right?

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interlude

things *may* progress this week, but then again they may not.

so let's talk about something else.

i finally got the photos from snorkeling in the dominican last month. marc didn't pack the cameras after all.

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and there you have it.

 

this was an awesome post, wasn't it?


so, the dominican.

i'm getting this out of the way, even though i can't post the pix from snorkeling (marc packed the camera with the card from that) and don't know how to post a video. (more about that in a bit.) regardless, i'm taking a painting/cleaning/packing break to get these pix up and de-gloomify this gray, rainy day.

remember last year ... we went to puerto rico because marc was invited to red hat's president's club? it's an honor for the top 1% of sales/engineering/support/etc within the company. last year there were about 120 people; this year the number was around 160 who made the trip to the dominican republic. the company is growing and doing very well, and it was a huge honor to marc that of that number, he was only one of just a handful who were invited for a second year.

the full album is here, so this is just a brief recap of our quickie getaway ... that came in the midst of so much going on at home to get ready for our house to go on the market and start the build that marc and i, on day one, sat in the pool lamenting that it was hard to really relax and enjoy where we were because of so much on our plates and in our brains. it was a running theme all weekend ... we were too preoccupied and distracted to really relax and have fun.

but we tried.

we flew through atlanta to punta cana and had an easy-peasy trip. unlike many of the other travelers who connected through atlanta earlier in the day; they got delayed by two hours and actually arrived later than we did.

on the trip down, we seemed to follow a line that went through the bahamas and turks & caicos, because there were amazing little islands below us for the last hour or more.

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once we landed, we knew we were in a laid-back part of the world. we deplaned onto the tarmac, stood in line with the rest of the passengers, wandered into an open air terminal under a grass roof, no one seemed to be in any hurry ... we waited in one line to pay our fee to enter the country, then waited in the next line to give our fee receipt to another person who promptly threw the receipt away and waved us through to the next person, who stamped our passports and sent us on to baggage claim. there, we saw that getting all the bags off the plane and into the terminal was the work of one guy in a luggagemobile, who made three trips back and forth to finally get all the bags into the claim area.

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a paragon of efficiency, this airport was not.

but, it was breezy and warm and tropical and different. so it was okay.

then we hopped in a van that drove us 20 minutes to bavaro to the paradisus palma real resort. walking in reminded us so much of puerto rico ... lovely hotel at first, then BAM ... view from the lobby:

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we immediately dumped our bags in the room and headed for the pool.

and i proceeded to not touch my camera for the next two days.

however, i took a couple with my phone on night one, of the entertainment putting on a fire-dancing show.

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as soon as i can figure out how to put a video on here, i'll share snippets of the show. the dancers were incredible.

day two ... more pool time and a snorkeling trip to the marinarium. it was okay, as far as snorkeling goes. not as good as puerto rico, and we had to stay with a guide the whole time, but the boat ride was a blast ... we were with marc's sales partner and his wife, his boss and his wife, another sales guy and his wife, among others ... and lots of coco loco to be drunk ... which made for a totally a fun group.

and when we unpack those cameras, i'll share those pix, too.

sadly, on the return trip that afternoon, all the red hatters on the boat who are from the home office in raleigh started getting texts from home about the tornadoes that had just gone through the city. the mood became a bit tense, but luckily it appeared all were safe and spared.

that night was a "white" dinner on the beach ... everyone was to wear white clothes, tables and a band stage and dance floor were set up on the beach, a pre-dinner reception area and buffets and banners were arranged ... and literally ON THE WALK to dinner, marc got a migraine. so we turned around and headed back to the room, where marc tried to fight the migraine for 45 minutes. we emerged to run to the beach for a quick bite to eat, and literally 30 minutes later we were back in the room. he was out for the night, and i sat up and read.

exciting stuff.

the next day was just a quiet, lay around, do nothing day.

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marc and i had trouble with that. we both kinda felt like we were ready to just go home and get on with everything we needed to get on with. hopefully, when we do this trip again next year (thinking positively can't hurt, right?), we'll have nothing weighing on us and can just sit back and enjoy every moment. we both earned this trip - marc, for how hard he works, and me, for how much i deal with in his absences - and it's a shame to not fully soak it in.

(and yes, the kids have earned a trip, too, for as much as they put up with daddy being gone and missing things, mommy being stressed and unable to be in two places at the same time, and all the strain of a single-parent home half the year. we're hoping to reward them with an actual spring break somewhere that isn't a) a grandparent's house or b) in front of the wii next year. they've put up with a lot, too, poor buggers.)

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(gratuitous easter pix ...)

after a day in the pool, i was burned enough to know my time in the sun was over. we stayed in the room until it was time to walk to the final dinner. a speech from the president, a slide show of the trip, and great conversation with friends, then marc and i headed to the dark, deserted beach to enjoy a final night of toes in the sand, listening to the surf.

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(which, honestly, is our favorite way to experience the beach. without the people or the sun. we're weird like that.)

the next day we wandered the resort a bit more ...

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before we began our long trek home, and the next day our adventure with the house resumed with a lot walk with the building supervisor. more on that later ... ;o)


i'm not giving you the silent treatment.

promise.

it's just been crazy around here.

last thursday we flew to the dominican republic for five days of schmoozing/celebrating/sunning/drinking/laughing/sleeping/eating/swimming/sunburning with the other '11 president's club members from red hat. marc was one of only a few that were in the club a second year in a row ... he'd like to go for the hat trick next year, so i guess i need to be okay with his travel schedule.

which, given what the calendar looks like over the next month, is hard to swallow right now.

but i have to keep this in mind:

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and this, too:

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because, let's be honest: marc's buying this house, not me.

i will tell you all about our trip, share pix (from the real camera, not my phone), tell you about doing the lot walk with the building supervisor, etc., but i have to dig my camera out first. and get through the next two days of painting/cleaning/mending/hanging/hole filling/scrubbing/etc. to get this house ready to go on the market in, hopefully, a week or so. because i lose my helper on monday, and getting as much done as possible this weekend is imperative.

so, i'm not ignoring you. i just need a few days. then i'll be back.

please forgive me.

peace.

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