We are "in-between" having extra kids in our house right now. We started being foster parents two years ago but have taken it pretty slow given the ages of our own kids. We have had three children in our care in those two years. We had lined up another little guy, a three year old little boy, but that got put on hold since we needed to take more classes. So last weekend my hubby and I hired a sitter and spent the weekend in the city taking classes. They were really good overall. I think I could have crammed 8 sessions into one weekend instead of two though. We still have another weekend of classes to do but since we are now in "seeding time" on the farm it will have to wait, at least for my husband. I might try to go on my own this weekend and see if that will suffice for a while.

Its hard to answer the question of why we want to be foster parents. One myth and subject of gossip in our little town that I intensely dislike is that we do it for the money. Where do I even start with that one? All I can do is shake my head at the ignorance involved. Let me just say that there are easier ways to make a buck than having a toddler that is not your own throwup on you all night...or a traumatized tantrum throwing kid take a baseball bat to your windows. I would make more babysitting a child in my home... sending them home at dinner time than I do being a mommy around the clock to a kid with major issues. The money enables people to do what they do and gives them some resources to care for the child. You can't pay someone enough for the rest...it has to come from somewhere else. Like a love for kids.

Its not that I necessarily have such an empty boring life that I need more laundry, more meals to make, and more teeth to brush. My house and my life are full and busy with the kiddos I have ...although I do have moments of spare time for things like this...that may change in the future. Its not because I have it all together as far as being a parent goes. I'm not a super-mom.

I actually have no idea why I want to be a foster parent (especially given the last post)...but I feel the need to. Not only because there is such an extreme need in our society but because I feel undeniably drawn to it. It engages my heart in a way that tests me to my limit but I love it.

During the classes I fought tears. I am not an emotional teary person at all usually , but every thing we were watching in the videos, every behavioral issue we discussed and every case study we looked at broke my heart. I could put little faces to the statistics....little faces that I've kissed goodnight. I was surrounded by seasoned older foster parents...some of them fostering for 20 years. They've seen it all and experienced more than we could imagine so I tried my best to hold it together. I didn't want to look like the bleeding heart rookie. I found it down right exhausting.

Foster parents in my part of the world have gotten an unfair bad rap in the media this year. There are so many over crowded homes and there is a largely dysfunctional government system. But there are countless good homes among the few bad ones. Its easier to lump it all together and not want any part of it. The reason that so many of the foster homes are overcrowded is because there just plain isn't enough of them. The kids, are why we need to do something. In our area of the world there is an enormous problem with dysfunctional families, addictions, addicted teens having multiple babies, and domestic violence. There likely is everywhere if you open your eyes to it. The collateral damage of all the pain and dysfunction is the innocent kids. Victims of neglect, all kinds of abuse, and so many atrocities. Not all kids are in foster care because of abuse or neglect, some families just need a chance to get their lives in order or are unable to care for a child for one reason or another. One thing I've learned is not to judge the bio parents....as hard as it is sometimes.

I'm a big fan of permanency in a kids life whether that is with their bio family, a permanent foster family, or the kids being made adoptable and being adopted by a loving family. Getting bounced around the system or back and forth to unsuitable parents is devastating for a kids. It has created a generation of kids with extreme attachment disorders...which is a horrible thing for society in general. Proper attachment leads to proper brain development, development of a conscience, ability to bond or trust, a sense of personal responsibility.... and the list goes on. Kids need stability, period.

Because of our future plans to return to work in Mexico this winter and possibly other ministry overseas in the future we have decided to open our home up as short term parents. We will get the kids in transition. I know I am setting myself up for some heartache but I also know my heart is attached to one bigger than my own. I also know its not about me. Yeah ,it is hard to let go of a kid after they are "yours" for any amount of time....really really hard. They are not my children. I might treat them as my own, love them as my own and call them my own but they don't belong to me. They will always hold a chunk of my heart, but they are not mine.

Here are some rights of children as listed in our paperwork.

1. The right to be protected against neglect, cruelty, abuse, and exploitation.
2. The right to safe housing, health care, and an education that prepares them for the future.
3. The right to be a unique person whose individuality is protected from violation.
4. The right to prepare for the responsibilities of parenthood, family life, and citizenship.
5. The right to maintain relationships with people who are important to them.
6. The right to a stable family
7. The right to safe, nurturing relationships intended to last a lifetime.


Being Two

A day in the life of a raging two year old

6.15 am - Wakeup - I want my mommy, my sippy cup and my toys and then life will be good "MOMMY!!! MORNIN!"
I don't know why mommy is so grumbly ...she seemed fine a couple hours ago when I woke her up the first time.... the sun is up and so am I.

Whats that? my diaper is dry?...that must be why my tummy feels funny. "NO PEEE! " I don't want to pee, I don't need to pee. I will not sit on that potty. In fact I don't want my cozy pajamas taken off. This calls for a full out fight for my life and my dignity tantrum.

life is not good anymore. I can't believe I caved , I was betrayed by my bladder.

I will make her pay.


wow, I'm not the only one who can throw a tantrum. Moms pretty good at them too.

I don't want breakfast...only milk please.....I said "NO WANT FOOD!"
Just me and my milk , life is good.

Uh-oh all gone, life is not good anymore. NO I will not get dressed! NO I do not want to wear underwear!
Please don't make me take off my sleepers! BAH! I hate change...this is devastating me! I hate clothes! I will never get over this injustice.

Ok, I'm over it now. And mom hasn't noticed I am once again naked..haha.

Ooohh I see my tractors. vroooom, vrooom, vrooom, pooop , pooop, uh - oh. Moms not gonna like this one. yucky. hmmmm. This pillow will cover it up nicely. No one will ever know. vrooom, vrooom, vrooom.

Oh, wow moms throwing another tantrum. You really should have your carpet cleaned mom.

Bake? You bet I want to bake! I love to bake! What I love even more than baking is making a mess. mess. mess mess ....ooh I love to mess.
Flour is the best! Look at my hands mom! ....uh - mom...I hate my dirty hands!! I like your diry floor though, that bowl full of flour looks good on your floor...even better squished in my toes! Why am I getting sent away? But I love to bake! Waaaaaaahhhhh

Mommy I need a snuggle....oh I love my mommy.

Lets go for a walk mommy. I love spring! I love outside! My hat , my boots, my jacket. I want to run mommy lets go!
WOWEEE WOW WOW I see rocks! Look mommy I can put the rocks in my hat. And dead leaves....LOOK mommy I see dead leaves! ooohh crunchy in my hair . LOOK I see a motorcycle in that yard.....RUN RUN RUN!


Bahhh, she cought me.

waaahh I never get to do anything fun! All I wanted to do is ride a motorcycle.

I'm tired. This road is pretty comfy I think I'll just rest here a while.....ooohh bugs. I like bugs.

NO I WANT TO LAY IN THE ROAD!!!!!! You can't make me walk....haha I'm jello, squishy slidy jello and jello boys don't walk.


I don't want to go in the house....I thought we were going for a walk!

I want DADDY! I want to work with Daddy. Why is Daddy driving the tractor without me. I'm stuck at home with mommy who doesn't let me have any fun.

Oh lunch time...I like lunch time....but I don't like that! I hate soup. I don't want toast.. Why can't I have icecream? I know I liked the same soup yesterday but I hate it right now!

I wonder why mom keeps looking at her watch. I saw that smile. Why is she smiling? NAPTIME?!!
oh ok, I' m tired I don't have it in me to fight you about the nap. I want my bear bear and my milk though. NO DIAPER!! I've been wearing big boy underwear all day and have only had 5 accidents...why would I need a diaper?! Oh, the humiliation. mmmm I like milk.


What happened? Where's my mommy? Is it Morning yet? "MOMMMMM" All done nap. C'mon bear bear, c'mon lamby, c'mon buggy lets go play.

I love my mommy, so snuggly. I wish she could carry me all day.
I will even pee on the potty for you mommy. I like when she does the happy peepee dance. She looks ridiculous but at least I get a piece of candy out of the deal. mmm, I like the yellow ones.

Do I want a cookie? Of course I don't want a cookie..how dare you ask me such a thing ."NO COOKIE!" oh, wait a minute what did I just say. I love cookies, my mommy makes the best cookies. "I WANT COOKIE PLEASE!!!" Why does she look so exasperated all I asked for was a cookie....mothers are so fickel sometimes.

Oh yipee yipeee Aili and Roman are home from school. AIVEE ! MAMO! I love Aili and Roman.

I bet it would be really funny if I ran up and hit Roman with this toy....oh thats just too funny.

Why is no one else laughing?

I don't want a time out....sorry sorry sorry. waaahhh. I hate time outs. what a waste of my childhood! tic toc tic toc...maybe if I just slowly scoot across the floor she won't notice. oh man she's got eyes in the back of her head. tic toc tic toc......

bzzzzzz. oh theres the buzzer. I'm a free man...freedom is sweet.

I have to pee again ..... I don't want to pee on the potty.

I think I'd rather just pee here on the floor that way I don't have to leave my toys. I'm a genious. Now for the sweet reward.

What do you mean I don't get a candy for peeing on the floor? I get one for peeing in the potty so I think its ony fair that as long as there is pee invovled I get my piece of candy!!! I WANT CANDY! hmmm she seems to be ignoring my tantrum ...I hate that, mommy is one tough cookie.

I like to be naked, naked is good. la-la-la I can see my toes and my tummy and this other thing that is so much to play with. I'm free, free free!

I want to watch tv. I love tv. I like Diego and Mickey Mouse but I still don't understand why I can't sit on the couch naked.

Yahooo DAddies home! Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!

I love my Daddy! I want to wrestle, and play and climb on him.
life is good when Daddy gets home!

Naked again, I like to be naked. No more pants, no more shirt, no more undies. I'm free to be me!

I still don't understand why I can't sit at the dinner table naked. These people have too many rules. I'll show them. oh ,oops was that my plate? It now appears to be on the floor. What a shame.

Waaahhh I hate timeouts! Not another one.... these people just don't learn.

Bath time. I love bathtime. I don't want my clothes off though. I love my clothes! I like to bath in my clothes. Oh, the injustice, the indignity of it all! WAAAH!

hmm, I wonder why mommy is turning that funny shade of red...and taking those wierd deep breaths. That lady really over reacts to things.

Goodnight. I have my fuzzy jammies back on and I'm ready for bed. You have to catch me first though.. I'm pretty fast. giggle, giggle, giggle.

Night night, Thankyou God for another day. zzzzz

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The body

" The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many , they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free- and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. "
1 Cor. 12: 12-13

I have been doing a lot of thinking, praying and soul searching lately on what it really means to be part of a community of believers. I must admit there is something vaguely appealing to me about the lifestyle of a monk. Secluded, set apart from the world and its people, totally focused on God and personal growth. There is something romantic and idealistic about it....or maybe just easier. That isn't Gods design for believers though. God calls us to be a light in the darkness, to be the salt..flavouring a world that is choking on its own bitterness. It is pretty hard to be that if we seclude ourselves, wall up the fortress, or live in our own man made "Christian" bubbles. He does tell us however to have community together, to do life together...with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Not necessarily always in a physical way but in a spiritual way.

A community of believers ,also known as a church, is referred to in the Bible as The Body of Christ. Each of us represents a part of the whole. Each of us plays a role if we choose to embrace it.

The body needs hands to touch the hurting,
feet to go seek them out,
eyes to see beyond the obvious,
ears to really hear.
The "body" is universal, global as well as intimately local. No two bodies are exactly the same but we are all a part of a larger whole with Christ as the head. For example a body of believers in India should have its own unique flavour and style. Within even the same town different churches and communities of Christians can each have their own flare, their own variations of worship, their own flavours. God is a God of diversity and we do him injustice by boxing him up to our preferences, our principles and our traditions. I don't mean imply that all roads lead to God. But in the common ground of the reality of Christs redemption there is a whole lot of room for variety.

One purpose of being a part of a community of believers is encouragement. Which we all need to both give and receive. I find it so much easier to be on the receiving end and sometimes find myself wondering why no one is coming along side me with encouragement. Its then that the still small voice in my spirit prompts me to encourage someone else and shows me just how much I am lacking on the giving end.

Another purpose is accountability. We need others to come along side us to spur us on to live up to our unique God given potential and purpose.

I think that sometimes the purpose of God putting all of us socially challenged, selfish, distracted human beings together in a community is to teach us things about ourselves. To break the illusion of self righteousness.

This is where it would be easier to live in a cabin on a mountain somewhere. Just me, my bible and some books. I know I'm sounding very eccentric at this point. Everything I read would be biblical theory, I would know the bible inside and out, I would be able to throw out verses for every seemingly applicable situation. Although there would be an undeniable benefit to undistracted fully devoted time with God, I would never actually be able to work out with my fingertips what I have stored up in my heart and head. I would be completely out of touch with both God and humanity.

God does desire me to be wholly devoted to him, to love him fully with my body, soul and mind. Those intimate times alone, those mountain top experiences are necessary but its down in the valley that what we experience on the mountain top is made real.

Sometimes our community of believers can be a part of that mountain top experience for us and sometimes we are all just muddling together through the valley. Down here in the valley its so easy to become distracted, disillusioned , weary and spiritually dehydrated if we aren't focused on the source of our strength. The problem isn't the Source of nourishment its that too often we prefer to do things their own way.

If life were full of the ideal how would we learn to trust? If life were full of enjoyable wonderful people how would we learn to really love those who cause us the most grief? If we were surrounded by people who lived perfect lives how would we learn to extend grace? If we are never hurt how can we learn to forgive? If we are quick to run, quick to talk and quick to find fault we might be missing out on a whole lot of what God wants to teach us.

Biblical principals only have the chance to become redemptive reality in our lives when we work them out in the nitty gritty stuff that life is made of.

The key is prayer. The key to a functioning body isn't in its well planned committees, lengthy meetings, and showy buildings. Its the connection the body has to the head. The Holy Spirit is like the intricate nervous system that keeps each part doing what it was created to do. This nervous system intimately links us with the will of the Father so in Him we live and move and have our being.
We don't get His insight by struggling , gossiping and worrying we get insight by getting on our knees and going to God in prayer. We get it by absorbing the Word of God and letting it change our hearts instead of picking out verses to use as a weapon.

Most of us have our own preconceived notions, our own agendas, our principles that we hold tightly to... and too often we cling to those things instead of truly seeking Gods heart in a matter. We run off to our own corners, rally support, jump on a band wagon and come out swinging. I for one am an easy recruit if you've got a wagon and need another band member and I have a pretty good swing. Unfortunately I'm speaking from experience. I'm a get involved kind of person. God is working on tempering that it me. He's showing me that sometimes I need to step back from an issue...especially if it doesn't directly involve me. Sometimes I need to 'let go and let God' as the saying goes.

When Jesus came into the world he did it in a way that was unexpected, that defied precedent. He threw the religious establishment into a tizzy. The pharisees , the religious top dogs loudly proclaimed all the reasons why he was not leadership material, why he could never be part of the elite, why he would never speak for God.

If Jesus came to our churches today in the way we least expected would we see him? Would we have recognised him in the middle of a wedding feast, as a carpenter, dining with those we will not touch? Jesus lived a perfectly untainted and holy life but he wasn't afraid to be in intimate touch with the world in all its uncleanliness. He came to live in the world as it really is, to touch the untouchable. When we confine our idea of God to our own preferences, our own experiences and our own set of principles we set ourselves up as equal to God ...dictating how he should interact with his universe.

It is far too easy sometimes to become a modern day pharisee. Again, I'm speaking from experience....unfortunately. We need to be very careful in judging others. Holding or own home-made measuring rod up to God and up to others. I find it helps when I get in a huff about a situation or a person to remind myself that there is always information that I am not aware of. There are always perspectives that I cannot see. Only God sees.

We cannot make it a principal to pass judgment based on our own past experiences or precedent. It is a dangerous mistake and one that can cause a lot of heart ache. That is the mistake that Job's friends made in the "council" they gave him. They based their rationalizations, opinions and principals on their own preconceived ideas of God. They could logically back up and with loud voices spout religious rhetoric but none of it was based on reality...I think it had more to do with their own discomfort with the situation. They did not know what God was actually doing behind the scenes. Grace and truth took a back seat to well intentioned but misguided religious convictions.

As a body we must stand for truth, live as a light and worship with each other in unity. The enemy would like nothing more than for the house of God to divide and argue amongst itself. He laughs at our petty distractions and arguments because he knows what they are really costing us ...and the price is high. When we are distracted by gossip, dissension, and squabbles we are not fulfilling our purpose, in fact we are having the opposite effect. The feet are not going, the hands are not reaching and the arms are not embracing.

Are we accurately representing the One who's name we wear or are we polluting the Living Water? Are we filling the water so full of our own garbage that even those who are dying of thirst have no desire to drink from it?

Are we building up our church, our community of believers or are we tearing it down? Are we edifying and encouraging our brothers and sisters or are we sulking in a corner waiting for someone to pat us on the back? Are we extending grace, forgiveness, and mercy or are keeping a list of grievances and offences? Those are tough questions to ask ourselves but so important. We need to regularly take it to God and let the Holy Spirit show us the things in ourselves that we might not be able to see on our own.

As Christians the one thing that should be an outstanding family characteristic is our love, for one another and for the world.

"Love is patient,
love is kind.
It dos not envy,
it does not boast,
it is not proud.
It is not rude,
it is not self-seeking,
it is not easily angered,
it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects,
always trusts,
always hopes,
always perseveres.
Love never fails......
....And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. "

1cor. 13:4-8, 13


Allergy Baby

Silas is my allergy baby. He has shown signs of allergies since the day he was born, literally, he broke out in a rash from everything that touched him. He had to be suctioned many times a day while he was in the hospital as a newborn because of all the mucous he was creating in response to his new environment and nursing.
He was severely colicky for the first three months of his life, even though he was a very easy and tolerant temperment. His tummy would fill with gas and he would scream for hours and hours. Usually at night...all night. Fortunately that improved by three months old and he was an angel baby after that...when he wasn't having ear pain.
At about three months old he started with ear infections...which I have now read can be caused by allergies too. He had so many ear infections (at least one a month) that he had tubes put in his ears at 11 months old.

He was one big rash, he was prone to eczema which became horribly bad once he started solid food. We tried every cream and remedy on the market. It wasn't until I discovered he was allergic to eggs (which I baked all our bread, muffins and cookies with) that his eczema cleared up completely.
We also discovered at about a year that he was allergic to peanuts after he found a piece of peanut butter granola bar on the floor.
We are now, under the instruction of his allergist, strictly avoiding all tree nuts as well.
We are also avoiding shell fish because of a high likelihood of him developing it and some extended family with the allergy.

This is Silas' latest new reaction. He had a severe reaction to Kiwi last week much to my surprise. I was sure he had kiwi before but apparently he that was just his "sensitizing period" in which he was starting to develop the antibodies against kiwi. This time when he had it his body was ready for a full on, but misguided, attack. You can't see the texture of his skin on the picture but he had welts all over his hands , wrists and face. His top lip swelled up, his voice got raspy and he started to get wheezy. Just from a piece of kiwi. So we are adding that to the paranoia list. Allergic reactions like this tend to get worse with each exposure so another piece of kiwi and we'll be in the ER for sure. Potlucks are a nightmare. He takes his little backpack everywhere we go. Spare pants, pull-ups, wipes, benadryl and an epipen. And of course a peanut free snack just in case we find our selves somewhere that he can't eat the food.
I'm a little concerned with his nutrition, especially if we've now opened the Pandora's box of fruit allergies. He is an extremely picky eater...when he eats at all but he usually loves fruit. I'm hoping that I can still feed him lots of exotic fresh fruit this summer. We also have a yard full of strawberries, blue berries, sour cherries and raspberries...purely for his grazing enjoyment. I would hate to have to start digging up berry plants because Silas is allergic to them. Uggg. Allergies suck.

This is an old picture of my little guy only a few months old. He woke up in the morning like this. I still have no idea why he looked like that. I think I had used some stain remover on his sheet at some point. It was more like a chemical burn than an allergy. He has very sensitive skin as well so I have to be careful with detergents, lotions, soaps etc. This has improved somewhat with age.
We found out when he was only a few months old that he is also allergic to penacillin. His whole body turned bright tomato red...similar to the look he's sporting above only on his whole body.

This picture was just funny in a really goofy looking kid sort of way. " Help Dr. my eyes are too big for my head!!" and my tongue feels funny.

My other two kids have no food allergies (that I know of) and have never had any problems with ear infections. They all have very sensitive digestive systems though. I'm still trying to get to the bottom of that one. No pun intended. Aili and Roman both have had their tonsils and adenoids removed due to their incredibly large and obstructive size. Getting those removed made a huge difference in their overall health. I'm hoping Silas will be able to pass on the tonsil and adenoid problems. After all he has enough of his own unique issues.

There are so many theories thrown around as to why so many kids of this generation are developing serious allergies. It is definitely a problem that is on an alarming rise. Non of them so far have held any water or haven't later been discredited. I had kind of assumed or hoped that this trend wouldn't affect any of my own kids. I didn't really picture myself as an epi-pen mom scrutinizing everything my kid eats. The only thing that really makes sense is that he was genetically prone to them anyway and he drew the genetic bad card. I think the fact that he is the fairest one of my children is not necessarily a coincidence either. I don't know if there is any link to lack of pigment and allergies but for some reason no one is surprised that he is the allergy kid.

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flashback to the '80's

This is what happened to my hair after I took out the braids. I figured that since all the 1980's styles seem to be coming back I'd jump on the fad wagon and play up my new do. No crimper required. I made all poodles jealous I think.
Ok, I'm bored and sleep deprived right now so posting an embarassing photo of myself from a week ago seems to be the thing to do.
I think perms will make a come back too. What do ya think? Pretty soon we'll all be perming out own hair out of a do-it -yourself box. We'll be going out to buy "pick combs" and hair spray to back- comb our fluffy new hair into the perfect do. I'm still in shock over the resurgence of leggings, baggy sweaters, narrow bottom high waisted jeans (formerly known as "mom jeans") and even horror of all horrors leg warmers. My theory is that if you enjoyed a fad the first time around (in the 80's) you should pass on it the second....its not quite so cutting edge 20 years later. I will continue to respectfully pass on the legwarmers this time around. Although, I am hoping that ripped jeans with a bandana tied around one leg comes back in style...I might make an expection to my rule for that one.
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The best morning!

The last morning in Puerto Vallarta we decided to do a little excursion of our own. We walked a couple miles along the beach, down some trails, over some rocky places to find some more secluded and amazingly beautiful beaches. It was a great way to spend a morning. This is Nathanael walking back down our little trail without his sandals on. He scraped his foot on a rock while playing in the surf.

Scenery along the way.

Awesome waves to play in!! I wish I had a surf board...and maybe a surfing instructor.

We spent hours playing like little kids in the pounding waves. It got deep pretty quickly so I had to get brave enough to swim out to meet the waves and then ride them back in...and by ride I mean get tossed around and dumped on the sand. It was the most fun I've ever had in the ocean. I guess being that I'm from a cold land locked part of the world I don't have that many experiences to draw from. Nathanael brought his snorkel and mask and entertained himself looking for fish or something for much of the time. I prefer to stay a little closer to shore. Oh , I miss the ocean already! Next time I go to play in the ocean I will definately take my crazy water loving kids with me...they made me promise them.
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more pictures just for fun

First morning at the ocean... I still could barely believe I had a whole week to enjoy it! Like a kid entering a candy shop.

Heading out on our sunset sail. It was beautiful! Check out the braids. I had them done the second day while I sat on the beach. It was great to not have to do may hair all week. A perfect solution to frizzy wind blown beach hair.

Pit stop along the boardwalk for some tacos. Note to self: When the Mexicans put a sign on a condiment in spanish saying "very hot" it usually means very hot!

This was one of our other excursions. It was quite an adventure. We floated around on a big party barge most of the day. Then were shuttled off the big boat in tippy overcrowded tiny boats (through jelly fish infested waters...literally) on and off two different beaches. We ended up hiking up the side of a mountain to a waterfall. That part was fun. We were so hot and dusty after the hike that even a chilly swim with the fishies was great. You can play "Where's Waldo" or "where's Carla" in the picture. I'm headed to play at the waterfall. This is the closest thing to a swimsuit picture I'm going to put on the internet. Which is tricky since I sported a bikini for most of the day everyday. It was awesome to shed the layers of fleece and flannel!
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Mexico for cheap

Here is a how to vacation in Mexico (or maybe anywhere warm) on the cheap. And trust me if there is a way to do something cheaper I will find it. First of all pick a week, then call up a travel agent (or several) somewhat last minute and ask what deals they have. There are some amazing vacation packages out there with the flight included. It helps to be flexible with location. With the economy in the states in the tank there there are some incredible deals to be had. Our 7 day all inclusive trip cost us much much less than buying a plane ticket alone..anywhere....and the plane ticket was included!! Go slightly off season, the busy times in these places are the deep dark cold months of winter when everyone needs to get out of Canada.
The above picture is a resort in Nuevo Vallarta...absolutely gorgeous! We went there for a "presentation" and earned ourselves a free gourmet breakfast, two "excursions" and a bottle of Kahlua. Take advantage of the free stuff....just take my advice...at the "presentation" show no money and show no interest...that is unless you are going to buy a timeshare or a condo and not just going for the free stuff like me. You'll be in and out with a few hundred dollars worth of adventures and you'll get a tour of all the fancy condos and hotels.

Now this is our hotel where the less fancy people stay. No, there are no wave pools, or giant swimming pool rivers but consider the location. The steps on the other side of the pool go right down onto a beautiful beach and a warm ocean. It was very clean, the staff were great and the food was free. It wasn't 5 star restaurant food but consider three very important things
1. I didn't have to make it
2. I don't have to clean up after it
3. I'm sitting next to palm trees and overlooking the ocean!
At this place there were actually three different pool areas and a ton of lounge chairs purely for my lazy enjoyment. We were only steps away from the board walk , the ocean and from downtown Puerto Vallarta. Lots of little shops, restaurants, art vendors, and live music within walking distance.

When we got tired of the 3 star buffet provided by our hotel we would just head down the board walk or the beach and eat a variety of food from a variety of vendors. My favorites being seafood on a stick.... you just don't see that in Canada. And handmade potato chips in a bag with red salsa and lime squeezed all over the top. They were usually sold out of big baskets that ladies carried around. We are also a fans of taco stands. For example the board walk goes over a walking bridge. If you venture off the bridge and slightly under it you will find the taco stand that I thoroughly pigged out at. The quesadillas pastor were awesome. I admit I'm a total garbage mouth when in Mexico...I'll try anything...and I've never been sick there.

Skip some of the expensive activities and enjoy the recreation provided at the hotel. Nathanael spent many afternoons playing "water polo" and beach volley ball with the Mexicans staying at our hotel...while I held down that lounge chair. He looked kind of like a big polar bear in the pool though. The "activity coordinator" a young Mexican guy who hangs out at the pool area said to Nathanael "You really like Mexico don't you?....and I can tell you like Mexicans too." What a compliment. Actually we just enjoy people and find the Mexican ones especially fun.
Its nice to know we were giving a good impression of gringos from the great white north. We didn't really know where his comment was coming from until we saw some appalling representatives while we were there. Sad to say these people are likely not an isolated event. We actually heard two ladies (large American ones) comment while walking out onto the board
walk from the hotel "That breakfast was disgusting! It tasted like Mexican s#*# ! Just look at all those Mexicans on the beach! (it was Easter break in Mexico) Don't those people ever work? maybe if those people actually worked they would have some money! "
If I had been closer (or braver) I would have reminded them that they were in Mexico and maybe should learn to enjoy huevos, frijoles refritos, and corn tortillas for breakfast (by the way they also had endless tropical fruit, a variety of cereal and pancakes)....and being that we are in Mexico they should expect to actually see Mexicans ...and preferably not just the ones mopping the floors and serving them their drinks. As far as work goes, I would have liked to see one of those woman spend a whole day trudging up and down a beach with a load of blankets to sell...or work 7 days a week driving taxi for a few dollars a day. As it was I just sighed in frustration at some people's attitudes and general ingratitude. What a way to go through life!
We had an awesome trip even in a 3.5 star hotel!
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Puerto Vallarta Trip

My husband and I just got back Sat. night from a week long vacation in Jalisco, Mexico. We booked the trip on a Monday and left on a Saturday. We felt the need to get away from the snow, cold and slushy mucky weather so we just left. My parents were wonderfully generous and spontaneous enough to keep our kids for the week. Yes this is our second trip to Mexico this winter....without our kids. Yes I feel totally guilty about that. Our first trip was to a very different part of Mexico and for a very different purpose. This was a purely selfish trip meant to relax, recharge and explore another part of Mexico. We had an amazing trip. I missed the kids but did enjoy the pure relaxation and freedom. I would have loved the kids to be there to enjoy the ocean and the sights too but another 3 plane tickets were not in the cards for our unbudgeted spontaneous trip. My husband and I so very rarely go on dates or little trips away alone together that it was so good for us to have this weeklong big date. The weather was perfect, the scenery beautiful and the company a lot of fun.

I thought the kids would get a kick of seeing a picture of mom with a baby alligator...or maybe it was a crocodile. Whatever it was, it felt pretty cool.

I'm going to miss eating my meals over looking the ocean! The "board walk" ran in front of our hotel and for several blocks along the ocean. We did a ton of walking up and down visiting the shops, eating at the food stalls, and enjoying the live music along the way.

I wish I could post more than 4 pictures at a time. I'll have to do a few more posts I think. We went on quite a few fun little adventures - a three hour sunset sail, a trip on a barge out to another beach, a hike up to a waterfall, and a swim with the fishies under the water fall. Most of the time we spent laying around in deck chairs soaking up the sun after a long winter. We went through two whole bottles of sunscreen...but I still managed to get a decent tan. I took the glare off of the whiteness a little. We stayed at an all inclusive hotel in the old part of down town Puerto Vallarta. Our hotel was simple but clean and the location was perfect for us. Water front, beautiful beach and right in the center of "Semana Santa" festivities. Most of the people at the hotel, at the beach and the surrounding area were Mexican families on Easter break. It was great. I don't go to another country to hang out in a secluded resort with other Americans or Canadians...I go to experience that culture.

Its good to be home again, back with my babes. Life is promising to continue at a crazy pace very soon. It was wonderful to be able to step off the business of day to day life for a while, catch my breath and make some great memories!
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