April in Review
- It took like 2 weeks to recover from our amazing vacation in Mexico. So the first part of April is a bit fuzzy!
- My major project this month was preparing for our annual Kids Ministry team dinner, which included, this year, making a video to introduce our new team t-shirts.
- I had a great "fun night" with our Kids Ministry Executive Team - so thankful for this team of leaders that helps lead our ministry forward.
- Aunt JoDee & I did some condo shopping, as she'll be buying another property for us to manage while she's away.
- We made plans at Creekside to launch a Preschool this fall. So excited! I've dreamt of having a preschool at Creekside!
- It's finally gardening season, and I'm so thrilled. Last fall, we sectioned off an area for an addition to our vegetable garden and I've been anxious to make it look less redneck and get it finished. We laid down landscaping fabric and put up a border for it.
- Boy & I started working on his "lifebook", a sort of scrapbook DSHS encourages foster parents to create to help kids connect their past and their future. We're really enjoying this project!
No pictures this month! Oh well!
March in Review
- Said goodbye to Matt's mentor, Rick, who went home to be with Jesus. He made a big impression on our marriage and will be missed.
- Conference with Boy's teachers indicated that he's doing VERY well at school - making great progress, and making us proud.
- Went back to contact lenses after 9 years of glasses.
- Vacationed in Mexico with family.
- Celebrated Easter with Boy.
On to April!
Mexico, Day 7
Our last day! We were mostly packed by the time we went to bed last night, so we slept in, enjoyed a leisurely breakfast with the family, and then hit the pool. I must've felt overconfident in my base tan, because I seem to have added a layer of sunburn on top of yesterday's pink. It was lovely spending the last few hours lounging in the sun and in the water. We roughhoused in the water, tossing each other off rafts, and I hesitated about going back to real life.
But the time came to say goodbye, so we cleaned up and threw our soaked suits into our luggage, and headed off to the airport. I teared up a bit, but I know I was ready to go home too.
Mexico, Day 6
Our last full day in Mexico, and I was itching for some kind, any kind, of adventure. We had breakfast with the family, then Matt and I made up our minds to visit Isla Cuale, a little tiny island just south of Malecon, the boardwalk, in Old Vallarta, which was rumored to have a park, shopping and over 100 feral cats.
The rumors proved true and we found a few more items on which to lighten our pocketbooks including a talavera casserole dish, some jewelry and a stylin' hat for Matt. We found our way to the south end of the boardwalk and walked the length back, enjoying the street artists that posed as sand-creations playing chess, or pulling Excalibur from a rock.
By the time we were back to the resort, it seemed lunchtime, so we caught up with Katey and the kids for a bite. The afternoon was spent in the pool while the others golfed, and we soaked up the last of the Puerto Vallartan sun we'd enjoy.
Dinner tonight was our "fancy" event - we all dressed up and went out to the Italian restaurant, a delicious way to spend our last evening. Matt and I decided to pack tonight so we can enjoy our last hours in the pool tomorrow, then stayed up late talking on our balcony, enjoying the view.
Mexico, Day 5
Today was Matt's big fishing day, an adventure he'd been planning since we first talked of Mexico. He, Bob, Kayden and RT were on the beach at 8am to meet a little boat they'd chartered for 4 hours. I was prepared for a whole lot of downtime while he was gone, so I took my time getting ready and met Katey and the kids just as they were finishing breakfast.
We were walking through the lobby, at Kole's insistence, when my ipad started making noise. At first I thought it was somebody else, but the sound was louder when I leaned toward my bag. An alarm was going off - it said "Go to spa for surprise".
I wasn't going to ask questions.
All of the pieces from the day before came back to me - how he convinced me to wait until Thursday and he'd get a manicure with me, how he disappeared just before dinner to do some fishing research. I later found that he'd really thought through everything and even my family knew that I needed to be at the spa by a certain time.
So I arrived there to find that he had arranged for me to enjoy a hydrotherapy circuit (seriously relaxing, had never done that before), an after-sun body wrap (that was new too), and a mani/pedi. I enjoyed nearly 3 hours of relaxing pampering. Loved it!
I was feeling hunger pangs (an unusual occurrence at an all-inclusive resort) and missing people so I found the rest of the girls when I was done. We hung out in the sun until the boys returned, and then Matt and I were ready for some quality time.
The boys hadn't caught anything worth keeping on their trip, which was quite disappointing for Matt. We spent our afternoon in the pool, then dressed up for our own date night dinner at the French restaurant. I didn't have high expectations but I was pleased! The food was elegant and tasty. By the time our leisurely dinner was finished, I was ready for bed!
Mexico, Day 4
Today was THE BEST, and for one reason only... But let me start by saying I woke up feeling like I'd done something strenuous yesterday, and at the end of the day, as I write this, nothing has improved.
Except that today was THE BEST!
But let me tell the events of the day in order. I was up like clockwork at 7am, so I read and drank my coffee until it was breakfast time. We ate with the rest of the family, then packed up our things and called a cab, which drove us 45min to Zoologica de Puerto Vallarta - the zoo!
This is not like an American zoo. Part of your admission fee is a little lunch sack full of animal snacks - carrots, bread, dried corn, peanuts and pellets. And if you're a sucker like me (and those with me), you'll pay a pretty substantial additional fee just so you can... Oh wait. That's later.
So our plan was just to see a few of the animals and then do our main attraction, but we were so drawn in by the up-close exhibits, and the hand-feeding. Flamingos ate pellets out of my hand; I gave carrots to greedy antelopes; I shared a carrot with a giraffe (who slobbered on me) and an emu. A tiger and a few other wild cats in heat paced in front of their cages, just inches away (and so irritable!)
The feeding was so much fun, we bought another bag of snacks halfway through. But THE BEST part was that I GOT TO PLAY WITH A TIGER CUB.
This has been on my "list" since I was 18. I made a list of 100 things I wanted to do before I die, and "pet a non-domesticated cat" was one of them. So when I heard that the PV zoo allowed you to interact with the animals, I was all over it.
Our advanced admission fee allowed us to interact with 3 baby monkeys (who were completely crazy), a lion cub and two tiger cubs. I was so stunned by their cuteness, I forgot to ask their names,
Mom & I went in first, so Matt & JoDee could take pictures, then we swapped. The monkeys were mischievous - one stole a barrette from mom's hair, then tried to remove my hair elastic, then jumped back and forth between our heads until his handler put him away. The cats were probably just a bit too old for this exhibit, or they hadn't had a break in awhile, because they were spirited and looking for a challenge. The lion cub was more interested in my shoelaces than me, and the tigers were less interested in the cuddling I wanted to do and more ready to gnaw, bat and wrestle. I had the distinct feeling they thought they thought they were playing with their food?
They were JUST THE BEST!!
But then reality called and it was time to taxi back to the resort. The rest of the day was enjoyable too - sandcastles on the beach, more eating tasty food, a little resting too. But it pales in comparison to the fact that I GOT TO PET TIGER AND LION CUBS!!
Mexico, Day 3
We were ready for some adventure today, and several of the others were out golfing, so after a leisurely breakfast, we called a taxi and ventured into "Old Vallarta".
On our honeymoon, we spent quite a bit of time in Old Town, the neighborhood just south of the hotel district. It has a beautiful boardwalk along the shore, decorated with a dozen or so bronze statues, all wearing a patina that betrays their age. And of course, I am drawn to the shopping.
So our mission, feeling familiar with the area, was to find a few gifts for our Boy and our wonderful housesitters, and to locate the shop where I bought a blue hand-painted pitcher nearly nine years ago, to find some kind of replacement (it seems I can't have nice things!).
We got caught talking to a few locals in one shop, which proved handy an hour later, when we'd done most of our shopping, having walked the entire boardwalk, but couldn't locate our pottery shop. Our new friend knew exactly the shop I described and drew us a map to get to it.
I was quite happy with our pottery findings, and ready to get out of the heat. We headed back and grabbed lunch, then found Katey, who was on her own with the kids, at the pool. The rest of the afternoon was leisurely spent in the pools, enjoying the sunshine, and having watergun fights with the boys.
We tried to take in a "show" after dinner, which turned out to be nothing more than a few dancers lip-synching to the soundtrack of "Grease" - but gave us a good laugh nonetheless.
Mexico, Day 2
Today was the right kind of lazy start one needs in their vacation. Being Sunday, most of the life in town is closed down for the day (though we were given the option to attend mass...) so we did quite a lot of nothing, alternating pools, eating, reading and resting, and some wandering about the resort.
For dinner, we gathered on the beach where the resort was hosting a large Mexican buffet and "show". The food was good, but between Matt not feeling well, and the too-loud mariachi music (not my favorite), it seemed a relief to turn in early.
We got quite a bit of sun today, with only a tinge of pinkness. Never having been one for diligence in sunscreen application, I'm trying my hardest this time, so as not to be miserable!
Mexico, Day 1
Oh, how we have waited for this trip! Initially, I felt anxious because we'd have to make arrangements for Boy and I didn't want to leave him, having made so many strides recently. But as we finalized the details for his care, I grew increasingly excited and ready for our vacation.
We honeymooned in Puerto Vallarta nearly 9 years ago (wow!) but this time, it's a family trip with my mom and stepdad, celebrating their 10th anniversary. Every 5 years, they've flown all of us to somewhere fun.
We were up early this morning and on a plane for the short trip to PVR. Matt and I had the last row of the plane to ourselves, which was lovely, but meant we were the last off the plane and through immigration. By the time we got to baggage claim, we couldn't find any sign of our flight and I was nearing tears when we heard a man calling "Kath-a-rine? Kath-a-rine?" in his thick accent, and found a baggage handler holding my suitcase - obviously the only one left from our flight. Whew.
We taxied to our resort and were stunned by its magnificence. Gated entrance, atop a hill, with a lavish beauty. The moment we stepped out of the taxi, we were greeted with beverages on a silver tray, and a bagboy who insisted that we were on vacation and must not handle our bags. Ok, then!!
Our room is gorgeous - possibly the loveliest place we've ever stayed. We settled in and then headed down to find a late lunch and a dip in the water. It seemed apropos that our first "dip" should be in the ocean, not the pool, so we headed for the beach, enjoying the rough waves and the silky sand.
Mom & Bob's room has a swim-up veranda/patio, so we spent some time in their pool until it was time to get ready for dinner. I've always thought I'd prefer cruises over resorts, but it definitely feels less crowded here, and far more comfortable.
Dinner was at one of the many restaurants at the resort. This was a buffet with so many options, it was hard to be choosy. After dinner, we wandered the resort, taking in a bit of a fire/drum show on the beach and enjoying the stars. Looking forward to tomorrow!
Room for Boy
On the heels of completing our redesign of the kids rooms at church, I was feeling inspired and motivated (and had all sorts of free time), so I launched immediately into redecorating Boy's room.
We set up this room originally to be gender neutral for ages 2-5 (which you can see here). We were feeling lazy then, so we kept the paint color from the fresh coat it got when we bought the house in 2009. But neither of us ever loved that color; it was time to brighten it up.
We picked Behr's Appletini, after 8 paint chips, 3 sample cans, and 2 mind-changes (and a whole lot of lobbying on my end). Matt wanted Rave Green, and while I vetoed, we actually ended up pretty close. While we were up to our elbows in drop cloths and fumes, we opted to remove the baseboard heater that has never worked, so we can get the room ready for real baseboard trim, which we've never had. (It's a fixer-upper. We've just learned to deal with it.)
The quilt was a bit part of the change. The original quilt had been made by my mom (and is still on the bed, under this new quilt), and is terribly cute, but too young for Boy. So, I picked the palette and drew inspiration from a quilt on Pinterest (you'll be seeing a lot of Pinterest in this post!). It's the best quilt I've ever created, and I'm very happy with it. The back has his name stretched across it - one 9" block for each letter, inspired by this. He thinks it's pretty special.
A few elements stayed from the previous room. The furniture, the little wooden shelves, blind and curtains, and I didn't touch the closet. And also, this cute pennant string because I'm oh-so-in-love with pennants and I couldn't bear to get rid of it.
Most of the woodland creature theme got packed up or repurposed throughout the house - because I am still in love with woodland creatures.
Of course the whole motivation was to give Boy a room that felt like his. We're not sure he's ever had his own room before, let alone one fresh and fun, so it seemed worth it. I needed to add a handful of funky details.
This sunshine is one of my new favorite techniques: foamcore board, cut to shape and wrapped with fabric. We found this technique via Pinterest
, and used it in one of the rooms at church, and I was itching to do it again. This is the room
that made me feel the need to include a sunshine!
I didn't want to go too heavily themed, just a few accents that reflected Boy's personality and favorites. This boy is all sunshine, so this seemed appropriate. (And he was pretty impressed with it.)
The lego clock was another adapted Pinterest idea
, and I'm on the fence about how it turned out. But again, Boy loves it, so who cares!
These clouds are corkboard, cut to shape and painted, and the thumbtacks will give Boy a place to hang up the fun little pictures and cards he receives. The idea came from an Urban Outfitters
product that I love but am entirely too cheap to pay for.
Yet another Pinterest idea
, these are papier mache boxes, minus their lids, painted on the inside only, and adhered to the wall with 3M "velcro" strips. I love
the 3M wall-hanging products - so great. I should probably buy stock...
Again, inspired by Pinterest
. An inexpensive shadowbox frame, spraypainted within an inch of it's life, containing a collection of hotwheels I picked up between Value Village and Fred Meyer, mounted on brown paper.
Boy could not conceive of cars that were merely decorative, behind glass, inaccessible, and could not be removed from the surface to which they were glued. Don't read too much into that - it'll break your heart.
This was one of my main ideas for the room. It started as a grand scheme - a magnetic road that goes all the way around the room (thanks to this idea on Pinterest
), and then I got realistic. I used a crazy precise method of taping and sealing the tape before painting, so it was rather intense, and that was just on the 6 foot stretch of wall I did
do, so I'm glad I talked myself out of the crazy. This is 4 coats of magnetic paint (and the white was painted first, then taped off with little precisely-cut slivers of white tape), topped with one coat of black latex paint. The only way we could get the cars to stick was using two neodymium (rare earth) magnets on each car. Lots of trial and error here.
We also added a few crates, stacked, for books, and I made a very brightly colored cover for his beanbag chair. The lighting is too awkward for wider shots, so this is all you get. Thanks for looking!