Friday, June 29, 2012

July Photo Challenge

Get your camera ready! I need you to help me take more pictures...starting next month.  Below is a schedule for the month of July. Each day during the month take a picture inspired by the key word next to that date.  Post them to flickr, facebook, your blog...wherever. Just take some pics!


Grab your camera and get ready for July 1st...and take a pic of you!!!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Meet Baby Nathan

We are pleased and proud to introduce our first nephew, Nathan James Richards, born 6.22.12.  Isn't he precious?

Baby Nathan James with his proud parents

 His first cousin, Lily


 Nathan with his three cousins.


Auntie Shellie with her beautiful nephew.


 Proud Uncle Jack and Baby Nathan.


He was trying to peek at me!
We are going to have lots of fun watching Baby Nate grow up!

Selvatica

Jack's favorite excursion during our trip to Mexico was to a place called Selvatica. We began our journey by meeting some of the local animals...


Next, we ziplined down 8 runs in the pouring rain, over the tropical rain forest jungles of Mexico...


After that, we made our way over trecherous rope bridges.... (I nearly died several times...at least that's how I felt)...


Next we did a parachute jump (which I do not have any photos of...and they wouldn't be pretty anyway)...

Then on to my favorite part....the Polaris ride. Normally, this ride is done in the dusty desert, but because it had been pouring rain due to Tropical Storm Debby....the jungle was flooded (as was most of Cancun and the outlying areas because they are not built to deal with flooding rains), it was a muddy, splashy, good time!!!




After the ride, we were covered, from head to toe with reddish Mexican mud, so we traveled to a cenote...(A cenote is a deep, natural pit, commonly found in Mexico, resulting from the collapse of limestone that exposes the groundwater underneath).  Unlike the beautiful natural springs that you see on tv shows like Survivor, this one was not crystal clear. In fact, it was murky and a bit scary. We saw a baby turtle floating by and who knows what else lurked beneath the waters....



 Heather was brave to take the zipline down into these waters. I was too frightened to jump. I just swam around.


Jack did a couple falls and dives into the cenote.

It was a fabulous trip that we will never forget!!!

Cancun or Bust!

As a surprise for Jack's 40th birthday, I planned and excellently executed a vacation to celebrate! We stayed at our friend's Heather and Jeremy's time share in Cancun, Mexico, and had so many exciting excursions! Jack admitted that this was one birthday present that will be difficult to top!


 Jack expressed his THANKS in the sand, and it stayed there for 2 days before the staff smoothed it over.


There were no shortage of margaritas or tequila in Cancun. This was our first dinner at La Distilleria. The food was great during the whole stay! Lots of yummy Mexican dishes!!

Our first excursion was to the home of Claudia Garcia Ramos and her husband Lorenzo.  Claudia is a reknowned chef in Mexico who holds cooking classes in her home for 12 people at a time.  The four of us sat down with a couple from Pittsburgh and their two teenage children and some newlyweds from Texas.  We made a day's worth of Oaxacan food and it was soooooooo delicious. Here, Heather and I are smashing some habaneros and tomatoes with mortar and pestles to make different kinds of salsa.


Claudia went on to teach us some history of different fruits and veggies that are native to Mexico. She taught us to make three different salsas, mole, guacamole, tamales, all while keeping us fed on chili-sprinkled fruits, Horchata, churros, Mayan coffee and teas, flan, enchiladas, pork tacos etc..... The food was amazing.

 One ingredient that we were not expecting to have to eat were....crickets! It is common for Mexicans to put insects in the guacamole for protein. It tasted pretty salty and the legs were extra crunchy! LOL


Later that night we went on a Pirate dinner cruise! There were two ships battling for the prize booty. One was led by Captain Hook (our ship) and the other by Captain Jack Sparrow (called Yak, by the crew! LOL)  It was a fun-filled night of dancing, humor and all-you-can-drink pina coladas!


We celebrated Jack's birthday with some special Mayan coffee...a fun, blazing version of a popular treat in Mexico! They also brought out a birthday cake and sang to him too! The food at La Habichuela was the best meal of the trip! Super yummy!

Stay tuned for scenes from Jack's very favorite excursion....ziplining through the jungles of Mexico...

Summer Lovin'....Havin' a blast...

It feels like it has been an eternity since I have blogged. I was on such a roll, preserving my children's lives in pictures and words.  I haven't had time to scrapbook, journal or blog in a very long time. I wish I could pin point the reason, but it just boils down to a busy life.

Matt and Lily finished up 4th and 2nd grade at Mary Drew school with outstanding report cards.  Sadly, the school is closing for good, due to the crappy economy.  We were so sad to see this award winning school shut down.  Luckily, the principal and many teachers will be heading over to the new school with Lily, so we won't feel so "new" there!  Matt will be going 5th and 6th grade at the local middle school, so he's going to be starting a new adventure too.  He plans to try out for basketball and cross country!  Zoey will be starting preschool at our local park district two days a week in the fall. She is so prepared and ready to make lots of new friends!!

Matt's 4th grade class at the Fourth Grade End of Year Party (which I planned and organized with my friend, Carrie)

This spring and summer have been jam packed with activities. I will try my best to sum them up for you....

During the kids Spring Break this year, we had a family staycation, downtown in Chicago. Here are some of the highlights...





Lily starred in another musical this spring. This year she was a lady bug and a donkey in the musical Pinnochio at Lincoln Way West High School!

Lily is on her knees on the left side.

We sadly and suddenly lost our pet, Cleo, which was devastating for all of us.  She was a sweet, loving cat that loved to be around the kids!!  Her sister, Alley (from the same litter of kittens), misses her dearly as well.


This past week, Jack and I went to Cancun, Mexico to celebrate Jack's 40th (Yikes!) birthday. Stay tuned for more pics of that fabulous trip...

Monday, June 11, 2012

In Memoriam...







Good bye, Dear Friend.  You will be missed.

Cleo
1998 - 2012

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