Friday, February 27, 2015

Yal ku / Akumal

my fun at tulum

This is sierra, I had so much fun in Tulum for the past 7 days. But our condo is just yuk. If I could go back in time and tell my mom to not bock this place then, I would have way more fun. My mom said that the next place will be closer to the beach and not be so yuk. I miss all of you so much, I wish you came with us so I would have more then enough friends.


Thursday, February 26, 2015

Coba Ruins

Zoe goes to infinity and beyond

 A stadium where a ball game was played and where the winners were sacrificed to the gods

 Climbing the ruins of Coba, notice Zoe always leading the way

 Quite a view of the forest from the pyramid structure

 Looking down from the towering heights of the highest pyramid in the Yucatan Peninsula

Zoe climbed higher than the rest of us and had energy to spare

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Cenote Fun

This is Mike...
Today we spent some time at the Grand Cenote (an underground cavern filled with water) about 2 miles from where we are staying. The water is cool and refreshing filled with fish and turtles. Bats and Swallows live in and around the caves. The water is super clear and stayed that way even after Zoe peed in it. Sierra got her favorite drink un Coco Frio and afterwards had it partitioned to eat the coconut meat. The turtle is Sierra's photographic masterpiece and she wanted it included in the blog. And finally las ninas are sitting in front of a Mayan hieroglyph. Today is coming to an end so got to go catch that sunset before it escapes us.     

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

"La dolce far Niente"

This is Mike...
We are settling in with new sounds, smells, and customs. It has been an adjustment but mostly just taking it as it comes. The weather contributes to us relaxing outdoors and the waves keep the kiddos entertained. It is so nice that there are not a lot of things to do. We are readjusting to enjoying the boredom. This will take some time for all of us to adjust but that is OK, it's worth the wait. The process of what we are going through reminds me of the old Italian saying that Max Santucci said, "la dolce far niente." Literally translating to the "sweetness of doing nothing."
Slowing down is one of the many reasons we decided to do this trip. Slowing down is super important so we have time for each other, I already notice things about my kids that I missed before. Watching Sierra and Zoe hangout with each other is a hoot. Elise is enjoying the natural setting but is getting used to different norms like not flushing the toilet paper. We have a house rule you drop the paper in the can, you fish it out yourself. We try to remind each other while we're on the can by saying loudly through the bathroom door, "Don't flush the paper, Don't flush!" It is quite comical that three people are outside a door giving moral support to the do-er inside. We give Hi-Fives to the victors and a fishing stick to the loser. Stupid silly stuff like this are things we never did back home and is now are part of our new norm. I have to laugh just how close we are become much to the behest of Elise. She needs more space than us but slim chance that will happen.
Home schooling is just starting over here and setting up a system is key we thought back when we were innocent and well intentioned. After one day I can safely say the parents were schooled. We obviously need to establish an on-the-fly routine accounting for the amount of sleep, food, fun, etc. We are committed to not letting the inmates run the asylum and we will keep you informed as to how this important aspect of out trip is going.
On a side note, I repaired the sink that Elise broke within the first 30 seconds of being here. Little did Elise know that she brought a junior plumber with her on this trip. After this repair Elise may want me to work on her pipes too, but slim chance in these tight accommodations. Ah the joys of traveling with children. 
Anyways tomorrow is another day and we'll see where it takes us. In the meantime I hope y'all can enjoy "La dolce far niente."   

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Family Together Again

Hiking path to the beach
The girls playing in the waves
Zoe zip-lining into the bay
View of Xel-Ha above and two crazy girls below

This is Elise.  Our flight and arrival in Cancun was smooth.  It 's good to be together again.  Our rental for the week is a dump.  To go from our beautiful house to this place is hard.  I knew it would be small but I didn't know everything would fall apart as we use it.  The second we walked through the door Zoe had an accident on the floor.  Now I have a big puddle of pee to clean up and no rags or paper towels.  So I have to use one of our two bath towels we were given.  Then I try to rinse Zoe's clothes in the bathroom sink and push down a little washing out the clothes.  The sink comes unglued and falls down into the cabinet below.  Now Mike is trying to fix it. Also the air mattress the girls are sleeping on loses all its air overnight so they roll together and are basically sleeping on tile by morning. Welcome to Mexico.  We went from living in Steiner Ranch to living at poverty like conditions in Mexico in three hours.  I am suffering a little culture shock.
On the good side.  Yes the water is really that amazing shade of turquoise and the sand is velvet soft and white.  The groceries are much cheaper.  We bought about $60 worth of groceries for $35 dollars.
I think it takes about a day to get settled into a new place so I should feel better tomorrow.
The girls are having an absolute blast boogie boarding and playing at the beach.  We love all the fresh tropical fruit here. I am looking forward to a beautiful sunset tonight.

Friday, February 20, 2015


Finally made it to the beach

Mike has safely reached his destination !!  We will post photos later. The girls and I fly to Cancún early tomorrow morning where mike will pick us up. Mike drove 2270 miles to get here and got lost a few times on the road. In the end all was well though. This is Mike after arriving to the ocean in Riviera Maya.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Mike's Mexico Drive

 Downtown San Miguel de Allende

A bus lost control and almost flipped over during the rains near Cordoba

 That is snow on a volcano just east of Ciudad de Mexico
 The grounds of Palenque Ruins

This Elise. When we were planning this trip we wanted to go to Mexico but we got scared off from all the travel warnings and scary stories you hear.  Also Mexico is such a big country with long distances to drive that we thought it might be hard on the kids. The Mexican American border area is considered the most dangerous. So we decided it would be safer and easier if Mike drove through the majority of the country and we would fly to Cancún and meet him there.
So at this point Mike is in Palenqué in the state of Chiapas.  He is stopping there to see the Mayan ruins before continuing on to Merida in the Yucatan. He should be able to reach his destination of Tulúm by check in time Friday. The hardest part of the journey is over, which was the border crossing, and the areas around Mexico City with all the traffic and confusing roads. He will be relieved to be able to unload the 4Runner.
He has been checking in with me every night and telling about his drive. It has been a diffucult journey for him. His gps has gotten him lost frequently. The roads are poorly marked and hazardous. He has had trouble finding a safe place to stay sometimes and driven much later than he wanted to.  I have been wondering if we should have gone with him.   We all miss him a lot.
We are grateful to all our friends and neighbors who gave us a memorable going away party.   Special thanks to the Anderson's for hosting and the Longeneckers for the flamenco guitarist. Mike could hardly get out of the driveway on Saturday with all the people here to wish him good- bye. He is a special person to have so many people love him.  I am grateful to have lived in such a great community. We have something rare and special here.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015


This is Elise.
We have disconnected our cell phones and will be turning in our internet modem tomorrow.  We will try to update this blog with our locations and activities so you can all know what we are up to.  We will have some internet connections on our trip but maybe not everyday.  You can try using the free texting app What's App.
Here is our itinerary for now.  Mike leaves here Feb 14 to start the drive to Tulum, Mexico.  He will arrive by Feb 20.  The girls and I are flying to Cancun on Feb 21 where Mike will pick us up.  We will spend a week in Tulum then spend the month of March in Mahahual, Mexico, near the Belize border.  April 1 will be a travel day through Belize.  April 2 thru April 9 we will be in Placencia, Belize.  After that we will decide if we want to go to one of the cayes or up to San Ignacio, Belize.  Hopefully, Guatemala after that.  We are using VRBO and FlipKey to find vacation rentals and staying places for a week or a month at a time.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Taking the leap

This is Elise.
As we get closer to our departure date I vacillate between excited and happy to nervous and anxious.  I am so happy we are doing this trip but sometimes I feel like I am taking a step off terra firma into a giant chasm and I don't know what's on the other side.  I am reminded of a dream I had a couple months ago where I am looking for a bike shop to pick up my new bike.  In the dream it takes me a long time and a lot of effort to find the bike shop.  When I finally get there I am happy to get my new bike but then I look in my trunk for my old bike and it is gone.  Where is my old bike?  I liked it and there was nothing wrong with it. The bike shop clerk says. " You can't get your new bike until you get rid of your old one."  But I don't know if I will like my new bike and I don't want to lose my comfortable old bike I am familiar with!  But, the dream said I must get rid of my old bike before I can get my new one.  So that is what I am going through right now as I pack our belongings, disconnect our internet and phones, and change our mailing address.  I am getting rid of my old life in preparation to begin a grand adventure.  I don't know what the future holds for us.  Will we want to come home in six months?  Will we want to settle down somewhere in Central America or Mexico?  Will we be robbed?  Will we be safe?
I am so grateful for all the support we have received from our friends.  I thought when we told people about what we were doing they would say we are crazy, stupid, and irresponsible.  How can we take our kids away from our good schools and safe community with lots of playmates to third world countries?  All those desperate illegal children at the border come from the very places we are going.  It turns out that most people express envy and admiration and wish they had done something like this themselves.  Some people are just waiting until the kids get out of high school or say they don't have enough money to do it.  I couldn't wait until the kids got out of school to make a life change.  I reached a point where I said, "I can't do this another ten years."  Despite outward appearances I felt there was something "off" or not fulfilling about my life.  I felt like I was living a life that was unauthentic, that I wasn't living my destiny.  A lot of my discontent came to a head when we had the pool cleaning business and I was very stressed.  I felt like my life had become unmanageable.  It had become too complicated with too many bank accounts, mail boxes, phone lines and way too many accounts with different passwords.  I hated the multi-tasking of running a business out of my home while raising two kids.  I had so much on my mind and was so scattered that I couldn't listen to my kids.  I was very impatient with them and sometimes downright rude to them.  Mike and I were fighting more than usual.  I couldn't sleep and was eating and drinking too much.
Since selling the business and deciding to take this trip I am becoming less stressed, happier, and am making lifestyle changes to live a healthier life.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

This is Mike  
Y'all should know my mom was a tremendous influence on me and is the reason I want to share a little about her today.
   She was a young lady who left Germany at age 22, after the war. Prior to leaving Germany, she traveled 16 miles a day by bicycle to work to earn Deutsche Reichs Marks that were totally worthless after the war. She still went to work because it was the right thing to do.
   In 1954, she moved to Canada for a better life but found that she ended up in a sweat shop. Her early days were in a world of different languages, different settings, nothing familiar. She worked ungodly hours under stress from the company and lived on-site in a dorm. She had no way to decompress from the terrible working conditions. One day she finally threw in the towel as she could not take it anymore. That night she broke out of the factory by tying two bed sheets together and lowering herself out the dorm window to the ally below.
   There she was in Canada and could not understand English, no money, truly stuck. She chose a direction and went with it. She walked through a lot of nothing and finally ended up near a German Club. At that German club she met a young man who offered to buy her a beer, he would later become my father.
   My father had very little as he too was a new immigrant to Canada, but still he proceeded to ask my mom for a dance. She accepted, however fate was not sealed until my mom cooked a duck dinner three or four weeks later. My dad always said "the moment I ate the duck I knew she was the one for me."???  I think how silly this is! I think how great this is! I am just happy they listened to their bodies, their hearts, themselves. They knew at that moment who they were and accepted each other, poverty and all.
   I was a mommy's boy all my life, so much so that I actually put my arm around her while she pushed  a shopping cart in the grocery store. Other moms in the aisles would comment to my mom about how lucky she was. My mom was so happy and loved chatting with strangers about how I was always so close to her. I am so happy I did that while I was young rather than wishing I would have done that after she was gone. Time is so precious, so temporary, so perfectly... whatever you'd like to say.
   I would encourage all boys to love their moms more than convention allows, to be the happy person your mom wants you to be with no regrets. Find love everywhere and know the difference between love and lust. In fact, my mom always said, "love should be as easy as breathing." I wish my mom could see how cool my friends are in Steiner Ranch. We have a special neighborhood! She was so awesome that she would have been happy for each and everyone of us. She would have thought our priorities were spot-on if she saw us on any given Friday night unwinding together, kids and all.
   Life is temporal, we should hold on to the things that give us joy.
   When my mom was on her death bed, I asked her, "what is the meaning of life?" She said, with a straight face, "life is like a chicken ladder, full of shit from top to bottom." I laughed because a family friend was there and made lite of it, but I knew deep down she was right. I wonder how many Bee Hive hairdos she had before she realized they weren't as important as she made them out to be.
   Life is much easier than we make it. Life is like a chicken ladder, for better or worse. Accepting the perfectly imperfect and laughing off the seriousness is a talent we should all try to master. Here's to all the moms out there!