Thursday, December 31, 2009

Mexico 2009

One simple word really captures our recent trip to Mexico for Christmas: FUN! Cabo is definitely a great place to go for a fun and laid back atmosphere. A perfect location for families (don't go during spring break, or so I have been told)!

We enjoyed so much of it, and so much of it we unexpectedly loved. The food was amazing, even not being huge fans of what they call Mexican food here in the PNW. We ate real Mexican which was fresh, mild, delicious. The big offering is shrimp and I ate a ton of it.

We spent most days going back and forth between the hotel pool at the Rose and the beach in front of the resort. It was all day outside, every day. We were usually the first ones in the pool in the morning!

In between, we did a few water activities like glass bottom boat, parasailing and jet skiing.

A wonderful surprise came right before our departure from Seattle. We found out that our dear friends would be coincidentally at the same resort as us. We spent a lot of time with them and re-connected after a few years. They are part of our family and the trip would not have been the same without them (and their frequent periods of babysitting) xoxox

Best of all was the time that we just spent together, without the usual bustle of the holidays. It was nice to avoid the crowds of Christmas, the dreary weather, the cooking. Just to have one another and 2 gifts for the kids on Christmas day. It really makes you appreciate the holidays more with what really matters.

The trip also had some moments for me that I will never forget. Due to my shopping habit :), I had the chance to talk with some of the local vendors who work on the beach. I didn't just buy from them, I asked them about their lives and their families. It was not rosy. They work very hard and long hours, and deal with many rude and cheap tourists all day long.

One in particular pulled on my heartstrings. 4 children who live in a small city far away and he works from 7 am to 3 am the next day for 3 months. Goes home with what he makes. Comes back again. We spoke several times, I shopped from him, and then he stopped opening his jewelry case when we would meet. We just talked about life for him and he would say "it's ok!" as he could see my sadness.

Dama snapped this picture on our last day in the rain:

Maybe I am just a sucker or a bleeding heart (I know I am the latter) but to see some of the tourists there overindulging in food on the beach, alcohol, the gigantic cruise ships coming in, fighting over beach chairs, haggling over pennies with these was disheartening at times. You certainly do gain perspective if you speak with some of the locals.

It was a beautiful trip and had a deeper meaning after we had left. I think the kids took something away from it as well...we talked about the fun and the reality from time to time.

Hopefully they will remember both forever.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Tell us how you feel

In an attempt to raise compassionate and loving kids, I have been working on encouraging them to tell people how they feel about them without reservation. To make sure this did not backfire on me, I have been coaching them about "if you don't have anything nice, don't say it" as well. I could so totally see them telling someone they smell and then blaming me for it!

So, the pep talks have consisted of me telling them that if they love someone, or if someone is kind to them, to make sure they express how they feel to that person. Not to feel shy or embarrassed. That life is too short not to tell someone you care or appreciate them for who they are.

It all came to fruition in the supermarket, of all places. We make our bi-monthy trip there to get groceries and they have often asked to go to the same checker who has been their captive audience for quite some time. I tell this lady that the kids know she can't leave so they are in prime performance mode every time we see her. She humors them and chats with them and they soak it up. Here's how it went the last time we were there:

Checker: Hi guys! Great to see you again!
Elise: You know what? You are our favorite checker EVER!
Lucas: Yeah! We really like you!
Checker: Aw! that is so sweet! You made my day!

It was a proud mommy moment and one of those times you think you just may be doing it right.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Feelin' Hot Hot Hot!

I finally decided to try hot yoga as the studio near me was having a special I could not pass up. I went on Thursday morning while the kids were in school. I really was not sure what to expect but I couldn't get away from feeling like it might kill me. If the yoga didn't, then the heat might. But I followed all the preparation directions (hydrate before class, no food 2 hours beforehand).

The class I took was Bikram yoga which is a series of 26 set postures and 2 breathing exercises. It was hot in there, about 100 degrees or more, and the class lasted 90 minutes.

I really thought the heat would be an issue but it wasn't. Yes, I was hot and sweaty but it did feel good and a necessary environment for the exercise I was doing. I managed to do most of the postures, a couple of them I struggled with but didn't need to "rest". I am pretty sure that anyone can do this. I think a lot of people are fearful of trying because you might die, suffer, look like a dork etc. I used to feel the same way. But I am here to tell the story!

The positives: I liked the heat, loved the fact that there really is no room to think of anything else besides what you are doing at that moment. You really MUST focus and there is no room for negative thoughts. I also feel like it is the kind of exercise I can do in the morning. Rather than starting the day out pounding the pavement or heavy aerobic activity, it's nice to be in that warm room with the lights low.

The Negatives: Hot yoga isn't cheap. I got a great intro deal but the drop in fee is $17 and it's $99 a month unlimited. So it's not something I will be doing long term. I am also not sure it's enough for me. I will see how it goes but I am suspecting I would have to supplement with cardio as well.

I went back again this morning. It took some convincing of myself to get out of bed early but I knew I needed to go. I just want to encourage everyone to try it once! Most studios have good deals for newcomers.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Picture and Ephemera Wall Hanging make a creative project for a loved one this holiday season! let me walk you through something way easy and cool. Let's call it a "Creative Jules Canvas" :)

Start out with a large canvas of your size choosing. The one pictured above is a 12x24", perfect for the space I was using it. I got this one on sale for $7. Paint the base canvas with your choice of acrylic paint. Mine only needed one coat, and it dried quickly! Love it when things are easy.

You will also need various more canvases of your choice. Mine range from 2"x2" to 5x5 inch.
These were about $2 each, again on sale.

I decided to do mine all in black and white so I printed up pics in b/w. It would be stunning in color too!

Print a few sizes, and even some in wallet sizes for those small canvases.

Next you will adhere those pictures on the canvases. Some I painted, some I left white. Some canvases have photos and some did not.

I wanted lots of dimension on my canvas so I stacked little ones onto corners of the bigger ones. I used Tombow adhesive, let it dry a bit before sticking it together and prop it up with another canvas while it dries. Hot glue gun would be great too!

You'll want to embellish or "cutify" it, as I like to say. I cut things out using my Cricut. Words, flowers, initials. I used glitter paper and cut out shapes. Your imagination is yours to explore!

Total time? About 2.5 hours.

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