Monthly Archive for December, 2011

Our First New Years…

As 2011 comes to a close with 2012 quick on its heels, I’m reminded of our very first New Years as a family of three.

It was tricky balancing a party hat on the head of a squirmy baby, but we did it.  It’s amazing to me how much has changed from that year (It was 2006! Claire was so tiny! …and look at my hair!) and how much has stayed the same.

May 2012 be all that you hope it can be and more.

The Puzzle Globe

Step 1

Step 2

Step 3 540

Almost halfway...

Taking Shape...150 pieces left

Only the tricky pieces are left...


Winter came in like a large piece of machinery.

A rare sight

The weather reports said, “We’ll get a couple inches.”  Well, we did get a couple…feet.  Yes, we had over a foot-and-a-half of snow!  The drifts were deeper than that in spots.

In a rare occurrence, our city declared this a “Snow Emergency” and allocated funds for contractors to remove snow from residential streets!

Yes, we live on a hill that will never be plowed unless an emergency is declared. No, that’s not very convenient sometimes.

We heard the news of elusive plows being released into the neighborhoods and then crossed our fingers.

Would we see one? For real this time?

Imagine our delight when this thing roared up our street!

This was only the second time we’ve seen large snow removal machinery on our street…and we’ve lived in this house for over 10 years.

I had to take pictures of this rare sight.  

Seasons usually come in as lions or lambs, but this year, winter came in like a large piece of machinery.

Literally…for once.

Happy Solstice. Here’s the sun!

Check out the new header!

Claire holding the sun

Our friend took this photo in Cozumel, and I just can’t get enough of this picture!

I think it’s very appropriate to give you the sun on the shortest day of the year!

Topes, Motos, and the Direct Translation of Mexican Road Signs Makes Me Giggle


Toh-pays. That’s how you say “topes” in Spanish. I really wanted to get a picture of the topes and their warning sign, but alas, I was either too busy relaxing to think about it or hanging on for dear life when actually experiencing one.

Here is a link that shows it.

What are topes?

Well, just calling them “speed bumps” doesn’t quite do it justice. These are not messing around!   And, they were everywhere on Cozumel.  Everywhere.  Anytime we saw the sign or the tell-tale skid marks on the street, we’d yell, “TOPES!” …just in case the driver hadn’t noticed.  Some of the topes were the equivalent of trying to drive over a beam that has been bolted into the ground…because they were beams that were bolted into the ground.

Regardless of who was driving, the warning shout was much appreciated.  After all, we didn’t want to break our rental car…or our teeth. Driving in Mexico is a team sport, after all.


Moh-tohs. That’s how you say “motos” in Spanish. Motos are little scooters or smallish motorcycles. Nearly everyone in Cozumel has a moto. They are everywhere. They come out of nowhere. You have to pay attention, as a pedestrian, and as the operator of a lager (albeit smaller than normal) vehicle.

We saw whole families on one moto. Yes. For real. Mom, Dad, and two or three kids…all teetering on one moto. Yes. For real. Nearly everyone had on a helmet…except the babies. Yes, the babies. My heart stopped every time I saw a family on a moto.

“MOTO!” was another word we yelled as we were driving along. Between avoiding the motos and the topes, it’s a wonder the driver wasn’t jittery.

The Direct Translation of Mexican Road Signs Makes Me Giggle.

All along the highway were signs.  There was no rhyme or reason to the signs, and they almost all looked alike at first glance.  None of them were in English, but I wouldn’t expect them to be.  Some were informative with mere suggestions (“Don’t forget to dim your lights!”), and some were extremely important. (“One lane road ahead!” or ” Loose gravel!”)

This has to be my favorite:


Literally means, “It does not escape with continuous ray.”

Do you have a continuous ray? Because if so, we’re never getting out of here.

What does it really mean? “No passing with a solid line.”

Gee, that’s not nearly as exciting.

Then again, after dodging darting motos and coming to a screeching halt to hump it over topes, the bar of excitement was set pretty high.  😉

Watching the Sunset

Watching the Sunset, Cozumel

Waves Laughing

This is one of my favorite photos from our Cozumel trip.

First of all, look at that water. It’s ridiculously clear. This photo hasn’t been edited. It’s been cropped per my husband’s Online Photo Contract, but other than that, it’s true-to-life.

One day, we headed out to find some waves to play in.  The water near our condo was relatively calm, and we wanted some action.  We soon discovered a nice stretch of beach that had wonderful waves, soft sand, and no rocks. It was the perfect place to play, so we parked the car, made our way down the embankment, and played.

We handed our friend our water-proof camera so that he could take a “family” portrait of us in the water. The cameraman is being jostled by the waves. The camera subjects are being lifted and rocked by the waves, and we got some fun shots. Then, just as we’re doing another shot…all of a sudden…a wave blasted all of us.

What you see above was the resulting photo.

I love it! The colors are gorgeous. The expressions are funny. (You can’t see the expression on my husband’s face, but it’s totally the essence of him.)  Every time I look at it, I can hear all of us laughing in that moment.

It’s fantastic.

Shadow Portraits Cozumel

It’s no surprise that we love taking shadow portraits. We’ve been doing this for years, in all different kinds of locations. Just check out the Shadow Portrait Category to see what I mean.

I couldn’t wait to play around with this in Cozumel!

Claire and I played with the morning sun on the beach in front of our condo the first morning we were there.


The three of us played with the waves and shadows.

Here comes the wave!

As I was sorting through all the images on the photo card, look what I discovered!

I think this one looks like...

...this one from California!

Granted, that was a couple years ago, and almost half a world away…

Did you know I was a Safe-Cracker?

As we were prepping for our trip to Cozumel, I started to feel a bit like Jason Bourne. In my money-belt, I had two different passports and a whole wad of cash. I even stashed another wad of cash in a separate carry-on item, in a safe but unexpected place. Thrilling!

Granted, the passports were my daughter’s and mine, and the cash was an assortment of American dollars in small denominations so that we didn’t need to get or change money for Pesos while we were down there.  It looked like a lot more money than it was.

Still, it felt oddly exciting.

The people who rented us the condo gave us a wealth of information via email before our trip. One question we’d had was if there was a safe in the unit. There was, but it was relatively small…just big enough for passports and cash, and small valuables.


Ever since our wonderful child locked us out of our own safe in a hotel room in San Francisco (with all of our treasures safely INSIDE IT, with a code only SHE knew and oddly enough, wasn’t able to replicate…), my husband and I are a bit jumpy around hotel safes. In San Francisco, we got to meet the nice gentlemen of the Security Department. They were summoned and quickly arrived in their crisp suits, with their magical handheld safe-cracking devices and curley-que ear-pieces.

Editor’s note: No children were harmed in that situation, but a huge impression was made, and Claire knows to steer clear of hotel safes.

In Cozumel, I was glad to hear there was going to be a safe at all, but this was going to be different. There was a person who might be able to help us if the safe got locked accidentally, but it would be difficult to reach that person quickly (and the email implied “if at all.”). Best bet? Please leave the safe open when you leave, and please, please, please be careful with it.

When we arrived at the condo, and we finished ooohing and ahhhing, I decided to check out the safe.

It was locked. Shut. Not open. As in, exactly what the email had said NOT to do.


Rather than panic, I switched into Jason Bourne mode. I hadn’t traveled for hours with more than one passport strapped to my body for nothing. What would he do? “Let’s see if we can figure this out,” I said. “Let’s try this before we try to reach someone.”

I punched in the security code we’d been given for the front door, hoping someone wouldn’t be so silly as to use the same code twice, all the while mentally crossing my fingers that they had been stupid enough to do just that.

It didn’t work. (I was actually relieved. I mean, that would not be very secure at all!)

Then, a random code popped into my head. It was way too simple. Would someone be stupid enough to use this code?


I’d cracked the safe!

We were extremely excited, despite the fact that we didn’t find any unmarked bills waiting behind the locked door.

We immediately changed the code to something we could all remember and held the safe with utmost respect for the entire week. It may be too soon to put “Safe-Cracker” on my official resume, but I was pretty proud of myself.

Jason Bourne would’ve been impressed.

Featured Elsewhere: Mile High Mamas

Hey!  I’m featured over at Mile High Mamas today.

Go check it out!

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