Apr 27, 2011

House Troubles

Ever since we moved into our house, we have had some leaking issues with our windows in the family room and the sliding door out to the backyard during strong-winded storms. There is no rhyme or reason to which will leak during a storm, but each major storm, we’ve had one or more leak. We’ve had the warranty company out to our home several times, and have even had people come out and try to recreate the leaks with a hose several times. Not once during these recreations have these people been able to get a window to leak.

With our house backing up to a large, open field, we don’t get any break from the wind during a storm. We have mini-tornadoes in our backyard when the wind is strong – it comes over the fence and hits the top of the house, pushes down to the ground and then off the bottom of the house back toward the fence. It was particularly stormy right after we got Tulley and the poor little pup was pushed about quite a bit when she was let out to go potty. She still isn’t fond of strong winds to this day, even though she has the weight behind her to stay on her feet and cut through the wind.

Since the last leaking incident, we’ve had the stucco company out to investigate. They thought they knew what the problem was and said they would need to remove some of the stucco on the backside of our house to fix the problem. That meant we would need to wait until the rain was over. Well a couple of weeks ago, they came out and did some work.

Cameron and I were both unaware that this was going to take place, so neither of us was home while they did the work. We came home to find things moved around in a backyard and a fine cement-like sand all over our patio and side yard. We could also see where they’d ripped into the house, thanks to the fresh underlayer of stucco drying in the sun. Not a pretty patch job and something that worried us, considering we were having a BBQ 10 days later to celebrate my 30th birthday and are having another gathering in June for London’s first birthday. Unfortunately, when we had people over Saturday for the Birthday BBQ, there was still a big gray spot where the house needs to be repainted from the repairs. Th stucco company said the earliest this will happen is May 13, as the stucco needed to cure for 3 weeks. Interesting, then that as I watch other homes around the neighborhood being built, that they are painted within a week of the stucco going up. We're in the mindset that they just don't want to make an extra trip out to paint, so our painting will coicide with several houses down the street's paint jobs as they look like they'll be ready for paint around that date - note that they are just about ready to be stuccoed and May 13 is 5 days away.

You’d think that would be the worst of our worries.


The same night the back of our house was ripped off and repaired, the electricity in our family room, and apparantly two electrical outlets and doorbell, went out. Cameron and I were just watching TV and eating dinner when it when out. The room is on a breaker with other rooms in the house, so a breaker didn’t flip. Had the back of our house not been ripped off earlier that day, we would have been quite confused, but given the timing, we jumped on the phone and called the emergency warranty number. They said they’d come check it out the next day.

The next morning they were out as promised and soon calling in an order to the electrician. This was a Friday, and the one before Easter. We finally heard from the electrician the following Tuesday night at 6:30 and they wouldn't be able to come until Thursday.

We'd moved our cable box into our bedroom and mainly lived in our bedroom for a week when the electrician made his appearance that Thursday. Turns out, the power outage wasn't the result of the back of our house being ripped off, after all! The elctrician told Cameron that we'd probbaly shut the front door too hard, as the electrical work, as he said, was shotty, or poorly done. It took him 30 minutes to find wear the wire had slipped from the main power source and put it back together. All was back to normal. Until Saturday, minutes before my birthday BBQ was to start!

Cameron had just come back from picking up ice and went do something in the familty room (probably turn on the TV) when he noticed the power was out again. He'd watched what the electrician had done previously, and did the exact same thing, but with no luck. We called the emergency warranty people again, who called the emergency electrician and left a message. He also instructed us to call the emergency electrician ourselves, but with the party in full swing that time, and not being home much at all yesterday, this just hasn't happened for us. Who knows when we'll have the power back on in the family room again now. Hopefully before London's party in a month.


Apr 21, 2011

The Case of the Binky Snatcher

From London Yvonne

The Monday after we returned from Cancun (April 11), we ran into a daycare issue. Our neighbor, Lauren, who watches London every day, wasn’t able to watch her due to a doctor’s appointment. She and her husband share a car and he was working days that week, so she’d have to drive him to work, go to her appointment and leave at 3 PM to pick him up.

We’d forgotten all about this and never confirmed Cameron’s mom to cover. Now Vicki was booked to work that day. We made a few calls to friends we know that don’t work days or have in-home day cares. All were busy or booked. I ended up taking the day off, which was nice after being away from London for so long. Plus, I was able to catch up on laundry.

Luckily, my supervisor and the company I'm contracting with are really understanding about things like this – family comes first. Cameron and I decided maybe we needed to look into some alternative childcare solutions for instances like this – we can’t expect Lauren to always be available.

It was good timing any way, as we’ve been thinking we should get London into a daycare facility when she is 1 to be socialized with kids her age. After some online research and requests for information, we had a tour with a facility in Roseville the next Monday (April 18). I was already taking a half day that day for London’s doctor’s appointment, so instead I took the whole day off to do the tour and spend some more time with her.

The facility was very nice, as were the people working there. We have every confidence in them that London would be well taken care of, as well as safe. Right now, she’d still be in the infant room, so we spent most of our time in there, talking with the teachers. At one point they encouraged us to put London down to see how she’d do with the other babies.

She took off, making her way to each and every kid with a binky in their mouth. From there, she’d snatch it from them and put the binky in her mouth. We jokingly say she’s going to end up being a bit of a bully. And she definitely would give the teachers a run for their money with this behavior.

But while we loved the place, we’re not ready to be forking over so much money when she’s not going to get all that much out of it. Maybe in another year, we will revisit the idea, especially if I’m working full-time as an employee where I am currently. Once she is ready for the toddler or pre-school rooms, where she’d get more instruction, we can justify the cost. But for now, we’ll stick solely with Lauren and our backups and if they aren’t available, I guess I’ll just have to stay home with my little girl for a day. It’s not like I miss our time together or anything now that I work full time.

Plus, we learned the consequences of having London around other babies, binky snatching and germs. She came down with a nasty cold later that week, which caused an ear infection and goopy eyes. Only just now is her runny nose getting better, but a new tooth we discovered Monday is keeping her somewhat congested.

London’s 10-Month Stats

London is definitely growing. Actually, the week before we left for Cancun, she started a growth spurt as clothes were tight on her. By the time we got back, London had grown out of a lot of her clothes, and wore a hole in the knees of one pair of PJs. We had her 10-month check-up the morning of April 18th (I know I'm behind on blog posts! But we've been busy - you'll see).

Here are her latest stats:

Height: 30 ½ inches (100th percentile – well into it, I might add.)
Weight: 19 lb, 4 oz (50th percentile, perfect.)
Head circumference: 17 3/4 inches (70 percentile – her head has finally caught up).

Before we know it, our little girl will be 1 year old! Time to start party planning!

Cancun – Part 4: Scuba Diving, Spa Treatments and Goodbye

For our last full day in Cancun we had signed up for a two-hour scuba lesson, the first hour taking place in the pool and the second out on the reef. Both Cameron and Aaron are certified but they wanted to be there for Nicole and I in hopes we’d both love it and want to get certified.

Nicole took to it great and probably will get certified. But the one hour lesson in the pool was not long enough for me and scuba diving overall is probably not for me. Lack of fresh air makes me anxious and claustrophobic. I had a mild anxiety attack in the pool. Maybe I’ll try snorkeling next time, as Cameron had his snorkel with him in the pool and I could handle that fine, knowing at any moment I could lift my head up for fresh air.

So I sent the three of them on the boat out to the reef while I made a beeline for the spa. On my way an Iguana caught me of guard and got a “Sweet Jesus” out of me in fright. Not that I shouldn’t have expected it – the place was crawling with the large lizards.

The next available time for a massage was at 2:30. A little late given the three would be back probably about that time, but they’d probably be hungry and want to eat, so I took it. I was instructed to be back at the spa in my swimsuit at 1:30. I headed back to our room to grab my April issue of Martha Stewart and then went for lunch at the buffet.

There the waitress asked what I’d like to drink as I put my things down at the table and headed for the food. I requested a glass of champagne. When I came back I was surprised to have two glasses of champagne. She hadn’t realized I was alone, but didn’t take the second glass back either. Good, as I needed the second one to help continue to calm myself down from the morning’s activities. After a nice leisurely lunch and some good Martha reading, I was ready for the spa.

After receiving the key to my locker and putting my things away, I was sent through the “Marina” circuit. Amazing! First I sat on a bench in a pool and had jets massage my lower back. Then I laid on a reclined bench and had jets massage my whole backside. From there I stood and had jets work on my legs and the one after that focused on my shoulders and neck. Next, I walked back and forth between three different leveled jets for more leg stimulation and ended with a jet focusing on my upper back. That was the first half of the circuit.

The next half involved me walking in and out of a series of four small pools, alternating warm and cold water. These pools were big enough for me to take two steps in and went up to just below my knees. Then I was seated in a steam room. This was a little tough for me, given the stuffy, steamy air, the heat and the small quarters, especially after my morning experience, but I survived the whole five minutes or so that it was.

From there I was instructed to walk into a cold pool and completely submerge myself before exiting. This one definitely took my breath away, but luckily it was immediately followed up by a warm pool to submerge in. Now it was time to sit in the sauna. I did better in the sauna as it wasn’t as hot in there. Then again through the full submerge cold and hot pools, before the circuit ended with me lying on a recliner made of stone with a cool rag over my eyes, smelling of plumeria while a nice lady massaged my head and focused on pressure points.

Finally, it was time for me massage, which was wonderful. While I was waiting for my masseuse, someone came and laid a warm, cinnamon-smelling bean bag around my neck and had me wait in a quiet, curtain-lined room. The whole place smelled like lemon grass by the way.

As I was walking back to the room, I ran into Cameron, Nicole and Aaron who were just coming back from lunch. They’d all had a great time, seeing little Dories, but no Nemos. They also saw a sea turtle, which made me a bit sad that I wasn’t able to go with them, but I know my boundaries and limits too. They were all ready for a nap, and Cameron was a bit sea sick from the small boat, so I headed for the beach to relax and read. Nicole and Moe weren’t quite ready for dinner when I was, so Cameron went with me to the Tapas Bar. The food was delicious but we hadn’t ordered enough and the smell of the Mexican food outside was enticing. There we found Nicole and Moe and had our second dinner, while socializing with a few of the other guests partaking in this Manager-hosted dinner. That evening’s entertainment showcased the Mexican culture with dancers, a mariachi band and some lasso tricks. We were all pretty tuckered out by then and knew that we’d be packing in the morning and leaving paradise.

We were sad the next morning as we packed, but we did have a little more time to walk along the beach and search for shells and pieces of washed up coral. We then grabbed a few last pińa coladas, mojíitos and margaritas and sat poolside before we squished into a cab and headed home.

We almost missed our flight from Houston to Sacramento thanks to unplanned customs needs. With three flights coming in from International locations, there were nine agents to service the 100 or so visitors and only four agents for the 600 US Citizens returning home. After a mad dash to recheck our baggage and to get to our gate, we made it.

London was kind enough to wake up just was we were going to bed so we could say hi. Having her back in my arms, I was happy to be home with her. And crazy me, I was up and out of the house by 6:45 AM Sunday morning to join Kim, Christina, Lynde and Alyssa for the Zoo Zoom 5K. Good thing my parents will be back out for London’s upcoming 1st birthday so I can actually spend some time with them.

Cancun – Part 3: Swimming with Dolphins

My big desire for this trip was to go swimming with dolphins. Aaron and Nicole were just as up for this activity as we were, which was perfect. They were actually the perfect travel companions as they were up for anything.

Luckily, on this day we got to sleep in some, as we didn’t need to be at the docks until 10 AM. After a delicious French toast breakfast at the buffet, we left at 9:15, just to be on the safe side. We arrived at 9:45. From the waiting area next to a marina, we were walked across the street, through a building to another beach and dock. That’s when it dawned on us that the hotel strip is on a peninsula (our resort wasn’t on this strip). It was quite confusing before trying to figure out where the water was and what direction we were headed until this realization.

While on the boat, we got to take in the beautiful aqua blue water. The water was crystal clear and it was another beautiful day. The boat ride over to Dolphin Discovery on Isla Mujeres took about 45 minutes to an hour, so drinks and music were provided.

As soon as we arrived at Dolphin Discovery, we were given instructions on how to obtain a locker and life vest. From there we headed into the instruction room where we filled out our names and were divided into groups of about 10-12 people. We were then directed to the docks, where we met our trainer and two dolphins, Noel and Fatima.

We watched as the dolphins did a series of exercises, and got to pet them. Then it was time for kisses, and tricks. Each person in our group got to hold a volleyball for the dolphin to nose, hold a hand out for the dolphin to reach up and touch, hold the dolphin’s fins like we were holding hands with them, kiss the dolphin and get a kiss back, and “hold” the dolphin. But the best was getting towed and pushed by the dolphins. The dolphins did a good job at pushing us out of the water when they pushed us by our feet and a very good job at getting us to drink some salt water when we were towed by their dorsal fins.

It was an amazing experience that Cameron and I would like to do again with London some day. Next time, we’d make sure to get the package where we get to swim with the manatees and sea lions as well. Plus we’d make sure to be there long enough to take a bicycle ride over to the Turtle farm to play with the sea turtles.

But on this day, we wanted to make it back for some more pool time before having dinner at the Mediterranean restaurant. Of all the places we ate, this one was probably our least favorite. Still good food, but not what we expected. Cameron and I both ordered the rack of lamb, so when we got lamb kabobs we were a bit surprised. That night’s entertainment was a Michael Jackson impersonator and dance crew. It was pretty good but would have been more convincing if the impersonator was skinnier.

Cancun – Part 2: Ik Kil and Chichen Itza

Day two started off early, as we were headed to the Mayan Temple Chichen Itza. We’d been told to be out front by 7:30 AM. At 7:20 AM we got a call from the front desk just as we were heading out the door. Thee bus was already there waiting for us. Good thing we’d gotten breakfast in bed that day – fresh fruit and bagels, cream cheese and lox.

After picking up a couple more people on our way out to the highway, we were on our way. We knew the trip would take a couple of hours so we settled in for some ZZZs. About an hour in, the bus pulled over to the side of the highway. We are instructed that we will be switching buses based on which excursion for which we had signed up and given bus numbers. There we were running along the side of a highway in Mexico, switching buses. Luckily we were on the one in front of us.

There we met George, our tour guide, half Mayan, half Mexican. From there he gave us some more details of our trip, gave us our passports (small stickers with our bus number on them, which we were to wear the rest of the day) and how things would go down, a little history and then let us knod off again.

After what seemed like ages, even with us sleeping, we arrived at Ik Kil, a cenoté, which is a sink hole filled with water. We had the option to go swimming in it but we chose to shop a little and watch people jump in and swim from above. We only had an hour and the line to jump in was long, plus we all had sunscreen on and didn’t want to have to reapply afterward for Chichen Itza. The cenoté was gorgeous and the water a deep, clear blue. We even saw a parrot out of the big hole.

After Ik Kil, it was time for lunch. And as George reminded us over and over “I pay your food, you pay your drinks”. Aaron would repeat this phrase in George’s cute accent throughout the rest of our trip. Still brings a smile to my face. Lunch was Mexican food with Mayan dancers as the entertainment. They basically stamped their feet to the music in wooden shoes or on wooden boxes while they balanced trays with empty bottles on tops of their heads. We couldn’t get over how short the Mayans were and couldn’t resist getting some pictures with them and the boys.

A five-minute bus ride from lunch and we were finally at Chichen Itza. George warned us that there would be Mayans peddling merchandise out front and inside the grounds, but we didn’t realize how many there would be. Literally, every 10 feet or five minutes we’d hear “Cheaper than Walmart”, “Cheaper than Target”, “Three for a dollar”, “10 pesos”. It got old real quick. And it wasn’t just the adults, there were little Mayan kids running around hawking their goods as well. I know Chichen Itza is their land and all, but it would have been nice to only have those hawking merchandise outside the entrance gates.

We followed George around for about half the tour. It was so hot and we were ready to just go off and explore on our own. Cameron and I happened to have caught a few Discovery channel-type documentaries on Chichen Itza before our trip so we knew a lot of what George was saying, but we did learn a few things more. For one, the Temple had been destroyed when Europeans conquered the area, killing all the well-off and religious leaders of the Mayan people. It wasn’t until 1925 when an archaeologist rediscovered the temple ruins that it was rebuilt, which took 10 years. You can see places where the pieces are numbered, where pieces are missing, and the plaster or cement used to put it back together.

We also learned that on a Mayan boy’s 18th birthday he was required to play in a ball game. The group would be divided into two groups and they would play a game like basketball, trying to bounce a ball made from rubber through a vertical hoop. At the end of the day, the winning team’s captain was sacrificed to the gods. The Mayans did this every day, thinking it was their playing the game and making the sacrifices that pleased the gods to return the sun to them the next day.

After a long, hot day, we were back on the bus and on the road around 5 PM. We wouldn’t get back to our hotel until 8 PM – just in time for a quick shower and dinner at the Lobster house. Cameron had two lobster halves that night while I ordered a Fillet Mignon from the Grill since I couldn’t eat anything on the Lobster house menu. That’s how accommodating the staff at the resort is.

After taking in the last part of the Circus show, we were all ready for a good night’s sleep, well, after some nachos. We’d worked up quite the appetite that day.

Cancun – Part 1: Our Arrival and the Resort

We arrived in Cancun around 11:30 AM CT, Monday, April 4. Once our luggage arrived we breezed through customs and headed for our transportation to Excellence Playa Mujeres. Not knowing exactly which vanline we were going through, one of the greeters helped us identify the vanline that worked for Expedia. Of course, he was also there to try and get us to visit another, timeshare-associated resort by enticing us with low prices on excursions during our visit.

It worked. What we paid for the four of us to go to the Mayan temple Chichen Itza and to go swimming with Dolphins, ended up being the cost it normally would have been for just two of us to go to Chichen Itza. All we had to do was spend the next morning doing the timeshare tour and listening to the presentation.

At the vanline check-in we ran into a little problem, as they didn’t have record of our reservation, and none of us had thought to print our itineraries with the reservation on them. I’d done this for my dad so he would know what time to pick us up – why hadn’t I done this for us? It didn’t matter too much. For a small fee we were able to get a private van and to the Resort. We’d just need to call Expedia to get a refund from them.

Upon our arrival we were greeted with glasses of chilled champagne and cool wash clothes scented with Plumeria. After a quick check-in process we headed for a restaurant to get some grub while we waited for our rooms to be ready. Apparently, we wandered too far away for the pager to go off. After 1 ½ hours we went back to check on our room availability only to find out they were ready. No harm though, we had nothing to do but relax. After a nice bell-hop showed us to our rooms, we quickly unpacked and changed so that we could be back poolside enjoying various tropical beverages.

The resort was amazing and breath-taking. Not too big, and not too crowded except when you were around the swim-up bar. It’s an All-Inclusive resort so there was no need to carry our wallets and everything we needed was provided pretty much at our command. The staff was very friendly and seemed happy to be working there. The restaurants offered several dining options every evening and all the places we ate were delicious. There were so many to choose from that we weren’t able to get to all of them. Cameron and I also took advantage of the 24-hour room service, waking up to breakfast in bed a couple of mornings and enjoying chili nachos before bed a couple of nights. We also always found a decent movie to watch on TV before bed.

The rooms were quite luxurious. Each had a wrap-around couch and flat-screen TV, Jacuzzi tub by the windows, balcony with a double person lounge chair and a four-posted bed. Even the shower was elegant with its two shower heads, including one of those rain shower heads. Our only gripe had to do with the toilet, and its door. The door was glass and while it did have a treatment on it so you couldn’t completely see someone in there, you still could see them enough. Not to mention, you could hear every thing going on in there and there was no fan. Other than that, we were in paradise.

The next day we headed for the time-share resort. What we were told was a 25 minute cab ride, turned into an hour. That’s when we quickly learned, Mexicans have a weird sense of time and time perception. Oh well, we were a little late, but still able to do the tour and listen to the spiel so we could get our excursions. The resort was lovely, albeit too big and busy for our tastes, not to mention, all-inclusive in a location like this is more enticing to us. But they gave a good fight and really had us considering buying in, except that we all knew we wouldn’t use it much in the next five years. Vacations like this don’t come often for us, given Cameron’s limited time off, plus with London and hopefully another kid or two in our future, we’ll be a bit limited on what we can do for a while. It’s the same story with Moe and Nicole. But we got our excursions scheduled and made the long trek back to the hotel. After a nice lunch, we were back beside the pool, enjoying more exotic beverages like the electric lemonade.

For dinner that night, we tried the Grill, where I had a delicious, perfectly cooked Filet Mignon. The Resort offered music and a themed show as entertainment each evening. This evening was the Magic show. At one point the magician asked for volunteers and Cameron somehow got me volunteered. It ended up being for a card trick, which I figured out in the middle of it. The other girl on stage with me was so flustered though that she was the best distraction for the audience and the magician pulled it off well for them. Then it was off for a good night’s sleep before our excursion to Chichen Itza the next morning.

A Wedding in Reno

On April 2, 2011 our friends Aaron and Nicole tied the knot at the Peppermill in Reno. We couldn’t be happier for the couple and we were looking forward to celebrating with them on their honeymoon in Cancun (they invited any one who was interested). We had planned to head up to Reno the day of the wedding and head home that same night, though we knew this would be hard given there would be people there we hadn’t seen in a while and for the fact that its always fun when a big group of our friends get together. But we had things to do at home, including packing, and we needed to be at the airport around 1 PM to pick up my parents who were coming in to watch London for the week. Vicki and Joe had come down for the day and night to watch London while we were in Reno for the wedding.

Mr. & Mrs. Moe

Of course that is not what happened. While sitting with friends at the Fireside Lounge, drinking Infernos, we knew we didn’t want to go home any time too soon and our time to depart was quickly approaching. We determined that’ some things didn’t need to get done before we left, so Cameron texted his mom to see if she was fine with us coming home in the morning. Thankfully, she was.

Drinking the Inferno

We started our vacation that night. Of course, when we went to get a room at 2 AM we were quite surprised to learn the Peppermill was booked. They told us the Silver Legacy and El Dorado had rooms, so we headed that way. We only made it a block – that’s when I saw the Motel 6 sign advertising rooms for $35.99. Why not, all we needed was a clean bed and shower? The place was pretty packed so we were a bit surprised that they were offering a normally $90 room for half price. But we weren’t going to question it.

This most of us all crammed in an elevator
The next morning we laughed at the fact that we looked like we were doing the walk of shame back to the car, being that we were still in our clothes from the night before. We made it back with plenty of time to get most things done around the house, pack, pick up my parents and have a nice dinner with them, before my dad drove the Moes and us to the airport.

Nicole's Signature Thumbs Up - We're all great!

The New Little Pickle Monster

Pickles are a staple in our house. We buy the huge jars at Costco, two or three at a time. So it was only a matter of time before London caught on. That she did. Right around the time she started to like solid foods (beginning of February). One day while Cameron was eating a pickle, she crawled over in curiosity. He offered her a taste. We got the cutest quizzical face out of her, but she went back for more.

She’s now hooked. The second she realizes one of us has a pickle, she comes cruising on over for a taste. She used to always make a funny face at first taste, before going back for more but sadly, the funny face is gone. Luckily, we did catch it on camera once, when we’d given her a slice of pickle in one of her mesh binkies.

We just had to share it with you. She also now cruises on over the second she sees me bring out the hummus or when I’m eating an apple. Her interest in food has definitely grown.