Category: Vacations

George Strait Concert & a Trip to Austin

As always, I’m typing this MONTHS after the fact, but this was one of the best weekends, ever, and I want to document it since it was Jorge and I’s first trip to San Antonio (not just passing through), ever :).

We were anticipating this weekend for MONTHS and I was almost in disbelief when Friday, May 31st came around.

We decided to leave that night, the night before the concert, and stay at a hotel either outside of San Antonio or in San Antonio to beat the traffic. We’d booked a room for Saturday night and didn’t bother to book one for Friday. We ended up leaving later than we’d planned, since we took our time packing (okay, who am I kidding–we left everything for the last minute, heh).

We ate dinner and were on the road by 9pm. We figured we’d be arriving in San Antonio, or nearby, by midnight or 1am. My favorite part about road trips is the music and the pit-stops at gas stations, but this time, since we were saving our bad eating for the weekend, we behaved. I only got a coffee and Jorge just got beef jerky and caffeine gum in Falfurrias to keep him awake for the trip.

I was nodding off after Premont, TX; I was being a bad co-pilot. But Jorge assured me that he was fine, to take a nap.

We arrived in San Antonio at 12:44am. Apparently I’d passed out for 44 minutes O_o. He checked us into a hotel and we quite literally passed out as soon as we got inside our room.

Woke up the next day, washed up and headed to breakfast downstairs. The selection wasn’t the best, but we had some eggs and sausage. Jorge surprised me by having a biscuit, so I surprised him by having a mini poppyseed muffin. I hadn’t had bread in so long that it was THE BEST THING I’D EVER PUT IN MY MOUTH. (That’s what she said.)

We had some coffee while we watched the news, which was all about the George Straight Concert. The parking was going to be insane, and they mentioned several options to try. I looked over at Jorge, worried, and he said, “We’ll be fine. Let’s try and check-in early at the Crowne Plaza.”

We showered and watched some TV then gathered all our stuff to check-out. It was lunch time, so we headed to the River Walk.

All the times I’ve visited San Antonio, I’ve never actually browsed the shops or eaten at the restaurants there. I’ve passed through several times; like once long ago when we did a ghost hunters tour, but that’s the closest I’ve come that I can remember. Jorge wasn’t having it. He said, “We’re changing that today, Baby!”

We had lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe, which was awesome. The place was bustling with people already in their cowboy hats and boots, ready for the concert.

Our waiter–who was a character straight out of “Waiting”–threw himself into the chair across from me and, with a look of boredom on his face, took our drink order. Jorge waits for him to walk away before he asks me, “Have you ever been to Dick’s?”

I wasn’t sure if that was his introduction to a bad joke or not. I raise an eyebrow and say, “Um…no? Why?”

He explains how the restaurant has rude waiters (hence the name). “That dude should totally work there,” he says. LOL

Lunch and a drink at Hard Rock Cafe San Antonio

I looked at the scrumptious lists of food but all that popped out at me was NACHOS. I hadn’t had nachos in a LONG time. They were glorious! Jorge had the pork carnitas. Hell, go hard or go home, hehe.

My first nachos in over a month and a half!

Pork Carnitas

And of course we took photos while we were there. Too bad Jorge took the photo of me with his iPhone and the lighting in there combined with the flash made my already-existing under-eye circles look worse. Oh well. At least we got pics :).

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We finished eating, browsed the artists’ memorabilia on the walls and purchased our Hard Rock glasses. Poor Jorge had a huge collection of them and well, this pyscho person he used to know broke all of them in a drunken fit of rage, so he’s on a mission to start a new collection. I told him I have no problem with that and I promise not to break them, heh.

We headed over to the Crowne Plaza, in the hopes that we’d be able to check-in a little early. The hoteliers had to know how packed the city was going to be so we were sure that they’d expedite the check-in time.

We walked into the hotel and it was beautiful. Sophisticated, nice colors. It even had a modern fish tank/waterfall that fell into a fountain in the middle of the room. We go to the front desk and tell the receptionist our name. She says, “Oh no. That room won’t be ready till after 3:30.” I tell her, “Check-in is at 3. We need to be in the room by 3.” She made an exasperated sigh and I didn’t see it, but Jorge said she rolled her eyes. We got out of there before either one of us said something we’d regret.

We had some time to waste, so we headed next door to the ajoining restaurant/bar. The place was quiet and empty. A waitress comes to our table a few minutes later and asks what we’d like to order. Jorge asks for a drinks menu. She blinks and says, “The bar is closed. Actually all we have is appetizers. It’ll take a while ’cause the chef just came in.” Jorge closes the menu and says, “Let’s go.” And we get up to leave. He was still fired up from the conversation with the receptionist, so I’m glad that’s all the poor waitress got to hear from him, heh.

We went to Best Buy to waste time. Jorge was looking for a lens for his iPhone and I wanted to look at the Bluetooth keyboards. I’d seen some on eBay but was skeptical about purchasing one since they were mostly from Hong Kong.

We were nervous about our camera lens; it’s not a professional camera, but when we went to the Eli Young Band concert they made us take the camera back to the car, so we were pretty sure it wasn’t allowed at the George Strait concert. I even made a pocket in my bag to smuggle it in, shhhh! But we spoke to one of the camera guys and he said, “Nah. That one will be fine. The lens has to be over 4″, and this one’s just under so you’ll be fine.”

Jorge found his lens and he insisted I get a keyboard so we got our purchases and we on our way. We were hoping Miss Ma’am back at the hotel was in a better mood by the time we got back.

Luckily, we had a more helpful receptionist this time, but it was still 3pm and we were asked to wait. I heard the manager giving people tips about the shuttles to and from the Alamodome. I asked, just to be sure, and she said the hotel shuttle would take us to the airport, the airport shuttle would take us to the concert and then they’d bring us back. But she wanted us to be aware that we probably wouldn’t be back till midnight. I said that was fine, we were expecting not to be back till around that time, but was she absolutely positive that they were bringing us back? She said, yes, of course.

We waited about 20 minutes until I heard the people behind us mention that they were going up to their suite already. I turned to Jorge, who’d heard this also and I said, “Ah hell no…” I spoke to the same manager, nicely, and told her, “They arrived way after we did and they’re already in their suite. It’s past 3pm…” She typed something up on the computer and told us to go ahead. I was annoyed, but at least we could go up and finally get ready.

We walked into our room at the top floor and, like Jorge said, “They redeemed themselves for making us late.” Everything about the room was wonderful; especially the champagne, chocolate covered strawberries and yellow spider mum flowers in the middle of the room. I went over to Jorge after I put our bags down and gave him a huge hug and said, “Thank you, Baby, this is so awesome!!” He smooched me, “Anything for you, Baby.”

My love outdid himself! He got the "romantic suite"!

It was already 4pm and we needed to get ready fast. Luckily, all I had to do was give my hair a quick re-do and change into my dress and boots.

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We went downstairs, where we met a couple from South Padre Island, and we grabbed a shuttle together, along with another family. They dropped us off, quite literally in the middle of the airport parking lot. Nobody knew what we were supposed to do next. The family in the shuttle went to where the taxis were all corralled; it seriously seemed like all the taxis in the city were in there. I tell Jorge, “No wonder we couldn’t get ahold of one.”

We follow the herd of people aimlessly walking until we find a LOOOONG line. Speaking to some of the people and listening to conversations, we were in line for busses, not shuttles, and we needed to go to a little trailer up ahead and buy our round-trip tokens. It was effn’ hot!! We look down the line and think, “Hey, it’s not too bad!” Until Jorge goes to the trailer, comes back and says, “Yeah. It looks like it’s straight ahead, but no…it snakes around about 6 rows up towards the front.”

We walked. And stood. And a little boy in front of us screamed until his mom took him under the shade of an overpass. Everyone just wanted to get to under the overpass shade…it was cool there. Finally, after forever, we were there. As we got closer, the little token trailer ran out. There were some ANGRY people. We got on the bus around 5pm. They had to take a detour because of construction. The concert started at 5:30, and we made it to the Alamodome just in time. There’s a recording firing off rules on the loudspeaker. It was almost a creepy sight, as people walked liked zombies to the entrance, slowly, as they listened. The voice announces that non-professional cameras are allowed, and our bags will be checked. I’m frantically trying to feel for my camera in the bag, but I hid it so well that I can’t find it and I momentarily panic thinking I left it at the hotel. To my relief, I find it just as they scan our tickets and let us inside. Just like that. Panicked for nothing about everything!

The next few minutes are a frenzy of getting drinks and finding bathrooms, because we were NOT planning on getting up at all through the entire show. We find our seats and the guy next to Jorge keeps rubbing elbows with him, so we switch seats.

It’s not long before Martina McBride makes her way to the stage. That woman can sing BEAUTIFULLY live! I was so impressed. We took tons of photos. (These that I’m posting, though, are from my phone, heh.)

Martina McBride

Next up was Miranda Lambert! We had no idea she was going to be part of the concert till about a week before, so that was an awesome surprise. I love her. Jorge said she sounded much better when he saw her the first time, around 2006 or so. She has some trouble live, but she does put on a good show (she was probably my favorite, heh).

Miranda Lambert

This is around the time that our 24x zoom camera decides that it’s a good time to start dying. My heart sank. I almost had a heart attack. Jorge was visibly disappointed. How were we supposed to take pics of George Strait’s concert?!

We got over it fast, though. My phone still had plenty of juice. There was an intermission, and it was obvious when George Strait was making his way towards the stage with the ear-piercing screams. He starts out by telling us, “I hope y’all are ready for some stories!”

George Strait

George Strait

George Strait

He started from way back in 1981, when his dream took off; and sang a song that corresponded to each story. He even sang a duet with Martina McBride.

George Strait & Martina McBride

He got to the part of his life when he starred in “Pure Country”; Jorge was POSITIVE he was going to sing “Pure Country”, the song, but…he didn’t.

Dusty!

Then the guy next to Jorge, who so happened to be from Brownsville and was very drunk, further annoyed Jorge by losing his footing and falling forward so that he’d spill his beer on the poor unsuspecting people in the row below us. Jorge had to grab him from his arm to help him regain his balance. He spent the rest of the night thanking Jorge profusely, to Jorge’s annoyance LOL.

George Strait had a few military families come up and receive awards, and he surprised them with homes and groceries from Walmart. I don’t know if it’s his age, or that he became tired during the break, but he sang a few more COVERS of other people’s songs and then waved and began to depart from the stage. Jorge and I nudged each other; we were sure he was going to come back for an encore like he did when we saw him previously. I mean, c’mon, the tour is called “The Cowboy Rides Away” and he hadn’t sang it, so he HAD to come back!

George Strait

George Strait

Only…he didn’t. The cheers were deafening; but they slowly died down when we realized he wasn’t coming back. It was strange even, and I’m pretty sure we weren’t the only ones who felt a little cheated.

But we got over it fast and decided to make a run for it; the buses were all lined up outside and walked quickly to the platform.

We missed the first bus, but got on the second. Whew. We got to witness a young blonde, blue-eyed girl flirt with a guy who wasn’t her husband (we knew he was out at the oil rigs…because she announced it O_o). We also knew her name was Mary Beth, because the guy she was flirting with kept belligerently yelling, “You…you’re an ANGEL, Mary Beth!!” every few minutes. Sure made the ride…interesting!

The bus dropped us off at the airport, at a little substation (#2) and everyone kind of looked around at each other wondering what the heck we were supposed to do next. People got on their phones and started calling their hotels for their respective shuttles, so we did the same. We couldn’t get through. It was 11:15pm. The shuttles are arriving, but they’re all from other hotels. I call again and finally get through. I’m so glad, and I cheerfully ask the receptionist if she can please send a shuttle over. My phone beeps that it’s got low battery. I tell her please hurry, my phone is dying. She says, “Oh. I’m sorry, you were misinformed. We don’t send shuttles out after 11pm.” I was in shock. I usually have great phone etiquette, but I’m so pissed off I yell, “What the hell do you mean?? The manager on duty at the time of check-in TOLD ME that they’d send a shuttle, even if it was after midnight!! It’s barely ll:15!!” The receptionist irritatingly tells me in a calm, sing-song voice, “I’m sorry, ma’am. Again, there’s nothing I can do.”

I was furious. I hang up on her and start Googling taxi services. The lines are all still busy. We spend the next 15 minutes trying to bribe other shuttles from other hotels to take us to ours, even if we have to walk a bit. No one obliges. I call the woman again at the hotel and I tell her she BEST reimburse me for my cab fare, IF we ever get a taxi. She says they can’t do that. I tell her their hotel has THE WORST customer service of all the hotels I’ve ever stayed at.

Then, like a bat out of hell, this Palestinian lady appears out of nowhere in her tan taxi and yells, “Hurry up! Get in!!” Jorge and I don’t even hesitate and jump in. We thank her profusely, and she starts telling us that the taxi’s aren’t allowed near the airport, but she knew the hotels were going to be jerks and she was taking advantage. She’s hilarious, telling people off, making fun of the skinny girls wearing short skirts. She says, in perfect Spanish with perfect dialect, “They don’t even have boobs or butts!” LOL. She’s driving like a maniac, but we’re seat-belted and glad we’re IN a car. She sees fellow taxi-cabs from her company and lowers her window. She yells, “The airport!! Lots of stranded people! GO!!”

He guy keeps saying, “Huh?” and she keeps repeating herself. She gets tired and says, “Ahhh, nevermind!! Damn Mexican!” We weren’t even offended, she was hilarious!!

She drops us off and charges us $12. She tries giving us change and we tell her no, please keep it, you saved us!

We barge into the hotel and without even saying anything the woman realizes who we are, probably from my crazed expression, flared nostrils and wind-blown hair. She immediately says, “Let me get the receipt book to refund your cab fare.” At least she did that right!!

Jorge and I go up to our room and realize that we’re positively starving. We hadn’t eaten anything since lunchtime, not counting the chocolate covered strawberry we’d each had before we left to the concert. We get in our truck and search for an IHOP.

There’s hardly any people, surprisingly. I can’t quite decided what I want, and I want to behave but my eyes keep glancing at the strawberry cheesecake pancakes.

My dinner after George Strait. Oh, yes.

The waitress said I should enjoy them; it was their last night on the menu!! They were being discontinued for those blueberry pancake bites, or whatever they’re called :(.

I hadn’t had the cheesecake pancakes since 2010, and I can remember the night clearly, too. It was back before Jorge and I were ever together, but it was a particularly annoying night for me, when I found out that my ex-husband was texting all these lovely things with his little curly-haired co-worker, when he’d told me they’d already stopped talking. We were leaving Hillbilly’s due to this incident, and ended up at IHOP. But anyway, I digress. None of that’s important anymore.

So we ate, happily. We reviewed the night, and decided that although it was watered-down and not what we’d expected from George Strait, Miranda Lambert and Martina McBride had a good show (though Jorge swears Miranda is now tone-deaf) and we still had a few more days of fun planned. I love the time we get to spend together :).

I slept so soundly, and was well rested the next morning when we were awoken by room service.

Breakfast in bed ?

We ordered identical omelets, and the coffee was delicious! We ate while we watched “Fast 5”, then we showered and got ready to leave to Austin, where we were visiting Jorge’s mama and brother :).

We managed to leave during lunch rush-hour, so our 1-hour trip took double. We finally arrived at Dina’s apartment and chilled out momentarily, chit-chatting. Jorge stands there and asks Dina and Javi, “Have you all eaten?” They say no. Jorge says, “What are you all waiting around for then, let’s go!”

We were treating Dina to a late Mother’s Day lunch at Pappadeaux’s. The wait for seating was about 45 minutes or so. We were called in, but the table was awkward, so we asked to please be moved. We ordered our drinks (non-alcoholic, initially), which took about 20 minutes, along with bread, to get to us. We blamed it on asking to be moved, but hoped we were wrong. When our waiter brought our drinks, we ordered a fried ‘gator appetizer…which took forever to get to us as well. Jorge and I each ordered drinks:

His and hers :)

THOSE took about 20 minutes, and the ‘gator still hadn’t arrived. Our waiter was trying to be humorous and keep us entertained, but the guys were growing antsy. We looked around and noticed that there were still TONS of people waiting outside…but the restaurant was half-empty. We attributed to them being short-staffed in the kitchen, hence our food taking long.

Jorge and I hadn’t really drank much since being on our diets, so it hit us pretty fast. We got the giggles, and then we were just being annoying LOL. But it helped distract from the fact that we’d been waiting for our food for 1 whole hour!!

When we hit the 2-hour mark, I told myself: THAT’S IT!, and asked to speak to a manager. The girl was sweet, and said the food was on its way and they’d not only deduct a portion of our bill, but send us free desserts.

Pappadeaux

Appetizers.

Pappadeaux. Halibut

My Halibut.

It took me 2 whole days to eat that brownie!

(It took me 2 whole days to finish that. With Dina’s help LOL)

Jorge's dessert lol

Let’s not mention the fun that was made at Jorge’s expense for ordering a Creme Brulee LOL. He wasn’t amused.

We were surprised by the very generous amount that was deducted from our bill, AND the $50 gift card that was gifted to us by the manager (aside from the free desserts). I have to say, they made up for it big time!

We spent the rest of the afternoon watching TV at the apartment, and then we went to the movies in the evening to watch “Hangover 3”. It was, of course, hilarious. The 4 of us laughed the entire time.

We ate breakfast the next morning, and then we all loaded up in Dina’s truck and went to my happiest place on earth: IKEA!!

We’d budgeted for several things, including something for the still-bare living room wall and patio furniture.

We initially wanted some of these mirror tiles for the living room wall:

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But went for this other mirror I’d had my eye on for a while:

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We also got a shiny black cabinet for under the TV, which I’d wanted for years :D.

We wanted to get these for each one of the boys:

I love these for the boys! We'd have to spray paint them tho

But they weren’t in stock. Boo!

After a lot of walking, we had lunch:

Lunch at IKEA

I look forward to that fish all year! Hehe!

We found our patio furniture on the way out, and picked out all the things we were buying from the warehouse. We loaded the truck, got to the apartment, loaded the IKEA things and our bags in the truck and said our ‘see you laters’. I always miss them! They’re a blast :).

We turned on our navigation and looked for a theatre. Of course we would catch rush-hour traffic, but we got there just in time.

This theatre was awesome!

I was amazed by the concessions at the Palladium; not only was there a Starbucks, there was a huge room with all the drinks you can think of! You just pay $5 for your large cup and you can refill as many times as you’d like, with anything you’d like! Too bad the movie, “After Earth” was about to start and I didn’t want to move from my seat the entire time LOL.

So we headed home after the movie, which always feels like it takes an eternity. We stopped for dinner at Whataburger in Falfurrias, and vowed to get back to the Keto diet once we arrived home. The trip had its not-so-good moments, but all-in-all, it was the best!!

Austin & the Kiddos!

Wednesday, June 27th

Another day at work and it was Gerry’s birthday. Which meant we were having cake, which meant I wasn’t going to be able to resist! I didn’t know, however, that we were having cake TWICE. First it was my favorite: almond creme cake and then strawberry shortcake. And I ate both. Ugh.

I spent the day collecting my “bills” at work since they were due. Requested my vacation time and it was approved, woo! Spent some time on Pinterest. Covered Rosie’s break since it was my week. 5 o’clock rolled around and I went to pick up the kiddos :). Finally!

We got home and the girls open the fridge. Their request for dinner? Pigs in a blanket. This time, they all asked to make their own :).

Jaylen making his piggie Eenan making his piggie The girls with their finished piggies

I popped theirs in the oven and then made some for the adults:

Crescent Rolls :)

Something different, and the crescents were probably super fatty, but they were SO GOOD!

We sat down for dinner, then watched their shows on the TV. Jorge got home and ate and we waited about 30 minutes before going for our jog. My knees were still in pain, but I didn’t want to NOT go. This time we went down the dirt road again. Jorge was being kind of moody and it took some convincing to get him out there, but he did. He didn’t want to jog, kept moping, so eventually I jogged half a mile on my own, then jogged back to him to go walk the rest of it with him. I was skeptical about going without him because he NEVER runs without me, but I hadn’t even started to sweat and wanted to jog. I kept replaying shoving cake into my mouth over and over again in my head. My knees were KILLING me by the end of my jog, but I didn’t stop.

We got home, I did Ab Ripper on my own while Jorge showered, and then I showered and iced down my knees as I sat with the kids to watch TV :). Jorge got over his mood and we snuggled when it was time for bed :).

Thursday, June 28th

Work was the usual. I covered Rosie’s break and by the time I knew it, it was lunch time. I ate at work, then covered the rest of the day since Rosie was out for the rest of the week since she was going on vacation. I’m glad I was up front; I finally got to take a photo with Valente Rodriguez!

Ernie! Mr. Valente Rodriguez :)

I wasn’t glad that I was up front because I had to endure the junk food sitting behind me, waiting for us to eat it:

Junk food at work, grrr

I did have 1 large chocolate cookie. And told myself I needed to jog like crazy to make up for it.

Jorge texts me later on that there’s drama happening; we needed to put up some signs and stuff at his mom’s house right after work. So I closed up shop when 5 o’clock rolled around and then we headed over there and did what we had to do. As a treat to ourselves, we picked up a Michelada from Ramos Drive Thru and some pig skins, heh. That place is a must-stop when we drive over there together.

Jorge had some buddies over that night so the kids and I just chilled out all evening. It sucked that we didn’t jog, though, because I had those few things I shouldn’t have, but oh well. We’d get back to it the next day.

Friday, June 29th

Jorge and I were running late that morning; the one morning I had to actually arrive early to cover the front desk. Beto was understanding and I got into my routine. I had a half an oatmeal cookie and some yogurt for breakfast. And coffee of course. I bought some fishing vouchers with the Deal of the Day. The rest of the day was slow, but I spent the time that I wasn’t answering phones/helping people reading blogs and my eBook. Michelle spent some time up front with me. I ran some errands during my break. We were preparing for our vacation to Austin with the kiddos :). I couldn’t wait!

I chilled out with the kiddos after work, made some Alfredo bow-tie pasta with chicken and broccoli (which the kids devoured :)). Jorge got home, ate and then we went for our jog. This time we jogged 4 miles! I did Ab Ripper while Jorge started on the brakes and rotors on the car. They needed a change and no better time to do it than before a little road trip! I’m so glad he’s so handy .

Saturday, June 30th

Jorge went to work the next morning and I TRIED sleeping in, but I knew I had stuff to do, so I got up and had a small breakfast and started sorting laundry. The girls kept calling me so I spent time with them first so I could do everything I needed to uninterrupted. I cut painted Emily’s nails, helped Alaethia tape her art onto a cardboard airplane she made (heh), read them all their library books since we needed to return them before the trip, gave them snacks, got them watercoloring AND THEN I could start on the laundry, make lunch, cleaned the ENTIRE inside of the car from top to bottom (vacumming, Tuff-Stuffing, etc., WHILE it rained and got dark on me, grr), and then I went to the grocery store to buy Mom’s stuff for the week and the snacks we’d be taking with us for the road trip. I was BEAT by the time Jorge and his boys got home. I made dinner (enchiladas), we all ate and then we started with the packing. Jorge packed his stuff after dinner and then I got my head together and made a list, which I always do before a road trip, so we wouldn’t forget anything. The kids were showered, and dressed, I laid everything out for the next day, Jorge loaded the (clean!) van and then we showered. As tired as I was, I couldn’t WAIT to spend the next few days with the kiddos, my love and his mom in Austin!

Sunday, July 1st

We woke up an hour later than we planned to, heh. We got all the kiddos ready, fast. We packed the rest of our stuff in the van and we were off!

We’re almost near Falfurrias and Emily and Eenan kept bickering back and forth. Emily screams, “Mooooom!! Eenan has his feet on the seat!” I sigh and tell her, “Mama, if Eenan bothers you so much close your eyes.” Eenan, a little offended, jokingly says, “Ohh. That’s kind of insulting!” LOL That kid always makes me laugh!

We joked and listened to music all the way to Falfurrias, where we stopped at McDonald’s for breakfast. The kids were so well-behaved. It makes me feel great when strangers look at our group and smile, almost in awe of how good they are :). They have their moments, sometimes, because they’re kids of course, but I’m so proud of their behavior *beams*.

I had my first real-sugar coffee that day, a hazelnut latte. And my breakfast was the new blueberry banana nut oatmeal. It was great!

We got back in the car and blasted the music. The boys were entertained with electronic gadgets, Jorge and I sang at the top of our lungs and the girls put in a request here and there ♥. We had several bathroom stops, but it was fun!

After one of the bathroom stops, probably somewhere after Ben Bolt, I notice that Jorge was starting to get those sleepy eyes of his. At one point he’s wearing his glasses and I say, “I LOVE YOU!” a little more loudly that I thought. Jorge becomes startled. Apparently he WAS nodding off and I scared him LOL! Thank God for that!

Stuck Like Glue comes on and he sings, “And just when I, I start to fall asleep…there you go screaming I love you again…” to the tune of the song!

I tell him, “I didn’t scream! I said it in a normal voice!” Eenan nonchalantly says, “Well. Your voice sounds different in your own head. So…” Damn boys! Hilarious!

Eenan kept calling me Mawmaw throughout the trip. At one point I laugh about it and he says, in his best country voice, “I think Mawmaw’s sick, Paw”. We couldn’t stop laughing.

I don’t know how Jorge and I started talking about the kids, and them growing so quickly and OMG, what would we do if they ever started with their relationships or heaven forbid, drugs or bad stuff like that. I look back at Eenan, who’s listening to the conversation and I glare at him and say, “If this kid ever tries anything I’ll grab him the way you [Jorge] grabs Ruffles from the neck and I’ll shake him around, I swear it! I’ll scream, ‘Tell me, tell me what you were doing, you darn kid!’,” and without skipping a beat, Eenan says in his country voice, “I tried the Ecstasy, Mawmaw!” LOL That was the running joke the rest of the trip! (I did stress that drugs were NOT a joke and WERE NOT ok, EVER !)

We joked and continued to listen to music the rest of the trip and arrived at Dina’s around 1pm. We hugged her and settled in. I looked around her apartment and my heart swelled with affection when I noticed she had photos up of all the kiddos and the one of Jorge and I at the beach . It was the best feeling!

We caught up and then ordered Papa John’s since we were all hungry already. I behaved and had 1 1/2 slices…ok maybe I didn’t behave as well as I could have; I had some of that darn garlic (BUTTER) sauce .

We finished eating and headed to the hotel to check in. We got a great rate; we paid for 4 days, 3 nights what we would have on that room for ONE NIGHT!

We checked in, and dropped all our stuff off in the room. The kids said, “This is the best hotel, EVER!!” We were disappointed that we weren’t going to have a roll-away bed, or a sofa bed, because they told us we would when we booked the room on Wednesday night. Even though Jorgie and Justin would probably stay at Dina’s (which they did), we wanted to have the option of the extra bed in case they wanted to stay with us.

We got all the kids changed and went to the pool. I honestly think that was what they were most excited about. The past two times we’ve stayed at hotels we haven’t had a chance to get into the pools at all, so this was a special treat for them.

Some of us :)

I was really nervous about letting Jaylen in the pool. It’s bad enough that I’m already paranoid about ANY of the kids being in the pool, but even moreso after having a dream a few nights before that Jaylen was drowning in a 10-foot pool ! Needless to say, I was watching them all like a hawk!

The boys found a pair of goggles and took turns using them. Dina had a soccer ball in the car and the boys and Jorge chased each other for it :). It was a great, great time!

We all got into the hot tub for a while and then went inside and washed up and changed. We went to IHOP for dinner. Kids eat free? Heck yes, hehe.

The service was really slow, which annoyed Jorge since there was literally NO ONE ELSE in the entire restaurant. All the kids were happy with their food, and the waitress did bring us everything we asked for (eventually) so it was a good meal :).

Dina got a call from work; an alarm had gone off. We parked and Jorge went in with her to check what was going on. All was well, and they returned. We headed to the hotel and changed into our PJ’s. The boys played their DS & PSP, the girls sprawled in their queen size bed. Jaylen wanted the sofa and Eenan was sharing the bed with the girls. Both girls tried kicking him out, saying there wasn’t enough space for him LOL. That’s hilarious considering they squeeze into Mom’s twin bed with her when they escape from their room, the scaredy cats!

Wed watched Disney Channel with the kiddos till we all fell asleep :).

Monday, July 2nd

I had a hard time sleeping the night before. My mind was still in work-mode and I kept worrying about weird things, like my alarm. Then I worried that we wouldn’t wake up on time for breakfast. Then I started worrying about our main bank account, which we hadn’t had a chance to deposit into while we were at home. For some reason I thought it was Wednesday and forgot to pay a bill. I even got online at 5am to look for the closest bank (there wasn’t one!) and then I realized the account was fine and the bill wasn’t due yet. Yes, I’m weird like that.

I got a few more hours of sleep and then woke up all the kiddos and got the girls ready. We headed to the dining room and all the kiddos picked their breakfast. Alaethia & Emily: cereal, half a blueberry muffin and apple juice. Eenan had the eggs, sausage, and waffles. Jaylen had eggs, sausage and a muffin. I had a little bit of everything, including French vanilla coffee. Jorge joined us a bit later and ate, too :). We got back to the room and Dina called, letting us know she’d made us tacos, aww :).

We headed over there and chilled out. We discussed what was on the agenda for the day and decided we’d do the hike that day. By the time we got the cooler, drinks, and everything ready it was near noontime. We gave each child a water bottle and I carried the snacks in my bag.

We got to the park and gave everyone a snack. They ate, we made sure everyone peed and then we were off.

Dina and the kiddos :)

All of us :)

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Jorge & Justin in the roots :)

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The kids did wonderfully! I was worried about the girls, but they were intrigued by the fishies and froggies in the riverbed and enjoyed the walk and snacks. We even found a fossil out there and saw the rocks that had crumbled from the dryness since last year. Emily got tired at the end so we carried her. We were glad the kids enjoyed it. Or so, I hope they did, heh.

We picked up some Popeye’s Chicken on the way to the hotel. The kids were ravenous and they ate well and sat to watch TV. Jaylen wanted to play with Jorgie and Justin and asked to stay at Dina’s so he went with them. The rest of us went to the bank and then to Walgreen’s to get the girls some hair detangler. Eenan went with me while Jorge stayed with the girls and we witnessed drama between the cashier and an old lady. Oh! That reminds me! We witnessed a lady peeing outside Dina’s apartment, by the street at a bus stop. Mmhmm. Just bare-bummed, not a care in the world. Ah, Austin LOL.

We got back to the hotel and Dina and the kids met us there. We all changed into our swim suits and got in the pool. And the jacuzzi. And the pool. And back and forth because the girls kept wanting to switch. So there go Dina and I, over and over LOL. We all paid for it later that evening, when we all had knee/leg aches! Thank God I took the Motrin with me; the girls were fine in 30 minutes after taking it :). Everyone bathed and Jaylen took off with Dina and the boys again. We were hungry, so around 9pm we started looking for a place that would deliver Chinese take-out. We didn’t have much luck, so we just went to the nearest Chinese buffet and we ordered some boxes of food. AND we got a 20% off discount for going near closing time, heh. I felt bad ’cause the other kids didn’t get to eat with us, though :(.

Tuesday, July 3rd

The next morning, Jorge and I took turns bathing and then we got all the kiddos ready for breakfast. I loved the coffee there. I think that was the morning I actually had a danish, heh. We finished up and after some lazying around we went to Dina’s. Jaylen confronts me as I enter the living room about the Chinese food! He says, “I saw it on Facebook!” Dammit LOL. I promised him we’d get some when they were with me the next week :).

We sprawled and lazied around at Dina’s for a while. We decided to visit IKEA that day. We wanted to finally get our nightstands and a few other things, like replacing Jorge’s shower mirror that fell and shattered in the bathroom. Dina said she’d stay with all the kids so we could go and come quickly, but the girls wouldn’t have stayed. All the boys wanted to stay with her. She said she’d find something for them to do and we took off with the girls.

Most of the displays were under construction, so that wasn’t very exciting . We saw the nightstands and they looked much smaller than we remembered. The size of our bed would dwarf them, so we scratched that idea. We did get a few things here and there, like my loves robe (finally!), his mirror, curtains ($2.99 each!) and rods for the girls’ room, a toy for the girls, dish cloths, another moon nightlight for the boys, an over-the-door hanger for our robes for our bathroom and other random things we needed for the house.

We had lunch there (the girls ate free!).

Lunch at IKEA

I fell in love with that tea!

We paid for our stuff and got back to Dina’s apartment. She’d taken the boys to a book shop, where they all bought comic books. They were reading them when we got there :). She also took Eenan to another store, where he finally found the Pokemon game he wanted to buy with the birthday money Mom gave him.

We chilled out at Dina’s, talking, laughing. We took out the laptop to figure out what we’d do the next morning. The entire trip we’d been planning to either go to the Natural Bridge Caverns or the Safari in San Antonio on the way home. We got the kids together to take a vote, and we were split down the middle. It started to become an argument amongst them so I told them, “Ok, guys, listen! If we don’t do the caverns or safari, then how about we get a pool instead?” There was a unanimous “YES!!!” So that was that.

Emily took a nap and then Dina popped some pizza’s in the oven for dinner. We ate, waited a bit and got ready to head to the hotel for one last night of swimming together. It was bittersweet. As much as I missed home it felt great to hang out with Dina and just be together with all our kiddos :).

This time we were smart, and chilled in the pool and later the hot tub. No leg aches for us that night!

Jorgie and Justin left with Dina. I started getting all our stuff together and got the kiddos washed and changed. I cuddled with the girls and Alaethia said, “Can we stay here forever, Mama??” Emily had said, “Can we live here, at the hotel?” in her cute little voice. Aww! We watched Disney Channel again with them till we fell asleep.

Wednesday, July 4th

We woke up and had breakfast at the dining room. The boys kept saying how much they loved how they changed the main meal every day, heh. That day they had French toast. Hadn’t had French toast in FOREVER!

Jaylen and Eenan shared a waffle. The first morning we ate there Eenan got a tummy ache. Jorge reminded them, but they made and ate it anyway. I made myself two cups of French vanilla coffee (what? They’re small!) and we went back to the room. Jorge and the kids watched a movie on Disney Channel while I finished packing. Jorge packed the van while Jaylen ran to the bathroom. Jorge was right: the waffles struck again!

Jaylen was ok, after a while, and then we all got into the van, turned in our keys at the front desk and went to Dina’s apartment. We picked up the boys, said our see-you-laters 🙁 and we were off.

We blasted the music again and as always, the trip back seems faster. By the time we knew it, it was lunch time. We stopped at a McDonald’s somewhere I can’t remember. The kiddos ate, we had our bathroom breaks and continued on our journey. The girls were giggling and loud LOL, and eventually passed out. We wanted to do something awesome for 4th of July; I had it in my head we’d make s’mores and pop fireworks. Then Jorge reminded me that we can’t pop fireworks here. New Years was a close call–there were cops everywhere and we only got to pop them by 10pm by the time they swarmed the neighborhood. We were getting home around 5pm, then Mom and I had to get some stuff from Walmart, get flowers for Gramma and visit her for her birthday. Our back-up plan would be the fireworks display, but you have to get there extremely early to get a good parking spot. I didn’t want the kids to have a crappy night, and it was Mario’s night anyway, so I called to let him know he could get the kids that day after all. He said ok.

We got home and Mario was arriving as we were. I kept hugging the kiddos; I already felt sad that they were leaving for a week :(.

Jorge and I unloaded the van, put everything away and I started on laundry. We rested a while and then his boys’ mother arrived for them. Mom and I went to Walmart, got everything we needed and visited with Gramma a while. I couldn’t help but feel sad about the kids. Didn’t help that I was PMS’ing BIG TIME.

Jorge tried making the night better for me. He even planned this super adorable picnic; he was going to put a blanket on the roof so we could see the fireworks display and was going to order pizza for us. The neighbor’s tree was blocking the view, so that idea went out the window. I was becoming emotional and started to get angry and feel even worse when the neighbors started shooting each other with fireworks and there wasn’t ONE COP IN SIGHT!! I felt bad for Jorge; he tried his best to make me feel better. But I really missed the kids and felt like crap that they weren’t there.

I eventually calmed down and he sweetly asked me to climb up the ladder with him, which he’d placed in a different part of the yard, to see the fireworks. I was surprised that we actually had somewhat of a view. I told him next year I wanted to plan things right. Next year, I want to take the kids to the fireworks display.

Our pizza got here and we ate with Mom. Javi came to pick up his medicines and a few other things we brought with us for him from Austin and I calmed down a bit more. He left and Jorge and I sat outside talking about everything. He told me some super sweet things and we just reminisced :).

Thursday, July 5th

We actually slept in late! We woke up, showered and headed to our spot, Espi’s. We were too late for breakfast, so we had lunch. We ate and surfed on our phone for stores that carried the type of pool we wanted. We found one on the Walmart website. We planned to go to the movies to watch “Ted” and we had some time so we went to Walmart first.

It was the WORST experience at a Walmart, ever. No one ever helped us, and when I finally lost my patience and asked for a manager, they sent the boy I asked to come back and tell me they wouldn’t honor their website price. The price at the store was $20 more. After waiting for 45 minutes, the issue wasn’t the price-matching, it was the fact that the store had the worst customer service on the planet. When an assistant manager FINALLY came to talk to us, she basically told us they weren’t going to help us and since she had just come in for her shift, she couldn’t do anything about us waiting for 45 minutes prior. OMG. I was so mad. I sent a very angry letter to corporate! I haven’t received any type of reply, but whatever.

Jorge tried to calm me down; he doesn’t like seeing me upset. He says I’m his ray of sunshine LOL. I tell him I can’t be happy all the time, darnit! Especially when dealing with horrible, rude people.

We checked several other stores and finally ended up going to the movies before we missed the showing, again. The movie was a total guy movie, but it was funny. Jorge couldn’t stop cracking up. We had a good laugh :).

We went to a different Walmart, the one nearest to the house and bought the one they had. It was the last one!

We spent all afternoon trying to figure out how to level the ground and where in the world we were placing the pool. The one we had last year was on very unleveled ground and the water was lopsided. We didn’t want the same thing to happen again. Tony came over to visit and we researched what to do. He left and we went to bed early. We had an early day on Friday.

Friday, July 6th

We woke up sorta earlyish. I had some Lucky Charms cereal and paid some bills and argued with Furniture Row about how they were placing my payments, grr. John texted that he was coming over, so we waited a bit. When he never arrived we headed to Walmart for a few things, like a shovel.

We got back and Jorge continued with his research. He placed a stake in the ground, tied a 10-foot wire to it and spray painted an almost perfect circle. We were impressed. He started digging out the patches of grass and I helped a little. Then it was lunchtime so John and I picked up plates from El Pato. We all ate outside, including Mom, and then Jorge and I got to work. John left. We spent the rest of the day digging out grass, smoothing out dirt, and finally Jorge got an 8ft 2/4, taped a level to it, and we started leveling out the dirt. We were actually MISSING dirt so we drove to Freddy’s ranch to get some more. I entertained myself with the horses since Jorge wouldn’t let me shovel dirt. We came back home, and finished leveling. When we finally leveled the entire “circle”, we brought the huge box out to start installing the pieces. The first thing we needed to do was lay out the ground cover. We searched everywhere, opened every box and found nothing. So, after calling several Walmarts, we put everything back in the box, opened or not, and exchanged it for a brand-new one.

We got home and it was almost dark :(. I’d been on the phone telling the kiddos about the pool and couldn’t wait for them to be back :). We started to install it and it took about 30 minutes, just like the box said. Still, in total, prepping the ground and actually installing the pool took about 7 hours.

We were about to start filling it when we realized we were starving. We made a quick run to Jack-in-the-Box and ordered greasy, nasty food that we totally deserved :). We ate in the porch and when we noticed what time it was decided to leave the pool-filling for the next day. We showered and fell asleep as soon as we hit our pillows.

Saturday, July 7th

We woke up (sore) and I made breakfast. Jorge started filling in the pool and smoothing out the floor. We ate and watched TV and checked on the pool most of the day. I read some of my book and then, around 2pm, we got into the pool for a while. It was dark and overcast and it seemed like it was going to rain but it never did. We dried off, changed and I started on lunch: Alfredo pasta with chicken and veggies and mashed potatoes on the side.

We sat outside a while and then Tony, Jay and later Billy got here. The guys were getting together to watch UFC and BBQ. I’ve been sitting out there the entire time blogging this up, heh. Rudy (who was extremely sunburned) and another friend of theirs, Fernando, showed up. Jay and Billy brought this awesome fajita…I can’t even explain it. It is probably the best fajita I’ve ever had. I had 1 taco, even though my babe filled it up. We watched the fights, and now, finally I’m done with this entry! I’ll post a photo of the pool tomorrow. I plan on sleeping late, swimming (or acting like I’m swimming, heh) and then I have Dayse’s bridal shower to attend. I wish I didn’t feel lazy about going. I’m so antisocial these days!

A Day at the Beach

I did it again Friday morning (the 17th of July); I turned the darn alarm off and thank goodness I woke up when I did or else Mario would have been LATE. He woke up with just enough time to get dressed.

I lazied around and then got ready to go to McAllen. Mary was still off that day so we were going to meet Mario for lunch. It was already passed 12:30 so I texted him and he told me he wasn’t going to be able to have lunch with us since he was working on a Jeep and was going to end up having a late lunch. Oh well :(. We took off, went to the bank and all that jazz and then met at Taco Bell.

The kiddos ate well, including Alaethia even though she didn’t finish her whole taco. I’ll take what I can get with my picky girl, though. I was taken by surprise when one of the cashiers said he knew Mario and that he was family of Mario’s boss. I thought he looked familiar.

We didn’t get a chance to see Gramma that day since Noelia was coming over to get her nails done by Maggie and just as we were leaving Taco Bell she called that she was at the house. Uh-oh. I took Mario some food and then we came straight home. I tidied up while Noelia held Emily and the rest of the kiddos lounged around I the living room. By the time I knew it, it was 4pm and I had to get the boys ready for TaeKwonDo and Maggie still wasn’t here. It was when we were at the Dojo that she let me know she was getting her light set up at her house so she wouldn’t make it. They’re finally moving back to their house! I’m just sad that they won’t be as close and we won’t be able to chill out all the time like we used to :(.

I was really hoping to get back and have Margaritas with the girls, but oh well. Since Noelia wasn’t getting her nails done she went to the Dojo to see the boys in action. They’re doing extremely well now that they’ve been separated. Luis, their instructor, is incredibly patient. He does a great job with the kiddos, even with the little hyper boy that’s always jumping around LOL. Eenan’s class is joined by the Yellow Belts on Fridays but each group still got their individual attention. Eenan has the first half of his White Belt Form down pat! He was so proud of himself that for the first time since they started going to class he seemed excited about Karate. He even said, “I’m going to get my Yellow Belt by the end of this month!” I hope so :).

We got home and Mary tells me to pack because we’re going to the beach, along with Andy and Noelia, the next day. I’m sort of not really feeling it, because Mario’s got a sale going on at work and I knew he wouldn’t be able to go. I hate going places when he doesn’t go. Not only do I feel guilty, but I feel…unsafe. But I start packing anyway; the kids’ swimming suits, including one for Emily, aw. I am in no shape (literally) to wear a bathing suit, so I just got some shorts and a tank together and another set for afterwards. At least I could work on tanning my arms and legs.

Mario was tired from work (my poor love) and I had to be in bed early so I surfed the web and he watched TV and then we all got ready for bed. I went to bed around 12:30-1am, which was still really late. I woke up around 3:30 with this excruciating pain in my ear, jaw and gums. My stupid Wisdom tooth. I couldn’t go back to sleep from the pain and conceding that I was going to have to get the darn tooth (or perhaps teeth) removed much sooner than I’d planned. I had two options:

The first: get my passport and get the tooth/teeth removed in Mexico and spend about $400 doing everything. The downside to that was probably getting an infection and my whole mouth becoming gangrened and loosing all my teeth or something awful like that.

The second: suck it up and give Elda a call and find out if her office does monthly payments. I’d get it done here and I’d most likely have a safe/clean extraction. The downside: spending a few thousand bucks, I’m sure.

So I thought about my teeth and then I tried to stop thinking about my teeth because when I dream of teeth people die (those who’ve been visiting me long enough know I’m SO telling the truth).

I started thinking about how Mario wasn’t going to go and started getting bad feelings about the whole trip and was already planning to tell Mary we weren’t going. I don’t know how to swim, so as much as I love the ocean, I’m terrified of deep water. I’m even more terrified that one of the kids’ll go too deep and get swept by the current and I can’t reach them. All these creepy thoughts went through my mind.

Then finally, around 5:30 I fell asleep, only to be woken up by Emily at 7 for a feeding. I went back to sleep for about half an hour and then got up to call Mom and take a shower. I got the last of the things packed up, made Mario breakfast and then got the girls dressed and ready. Mario left to work and I felt a pang of guilt/fear. But I willed myself to push the bad feelings away and to just have a good time. It was Emily’s very first trip to the beach, after all.

We packed all our stuff and kids in Elda’s truck, which we were borrowing since all of us didn’t fit in m Equinox or Mary’s Sentra. We stopped for breakfast at Burger King where I spotted a beautiful hummingbird!

Hummingbird

Of course we were moving and in the truck so I couldn’t get a very good picture.

We met Andy and Noelia at their apartment and then we all drove to Walmart where they were getting some stuff. We were off on our hour 1/2 drive after that and since I didn’t sleep very well I kept nodding off. It felt like we arrived in 20 minutes to me LOL.

It was around 10 or 11am and it was already scalding hot outside. Gotta love South Texas weather, not. We got all our junk off and found a huge umbrella to rent. We slathered sun block all over the kids first, then ourselves. Mary helped me since I was holding Emily and then I passed her to Noelia so I could finish up.

The older kiddos started off with sand castles of course. I just sat and watched them and held Emily. She was hungry so I fed her and then she started nestling herself against me to fall asleep.

My Oldest Three

It was nerve wracking keeping an eye on all three kids once the boys started getting brave enough to dip themselves in the cold ocean and Alaethia played in the sand. I passed Emily on to Mom and she and Mary took turns with her while I stayed with the other kids. There were so many people!

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Noelia and Andy took the boys to the first and second sand bars and Andy taught them to use the boogie board. I took pics from the shore while I watched Alaethia making sand castles. I was, again, nervous as heck watching them out there but I knew Andy and Noelia would keep an eye on the boys.

Alaethia picked shells with Mary while I sat with Emily, who’d fallen asleep and was all sprawled out on a chair LOL. She looked so cute. Somewhere around here we ate sandwiches and then Andy convinced me to go out to the 1st sandbar with them to pick shells and be with the kids. I went for Alaethia after a while and she behaved amazingly. I was afraid she’d try and jump into the water on her own but she was too busy looking for shells. I found my very first live sand dollar! I had no idea the little guys were a reddish-pink color!

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I went back several times to dump our shell collections into the bigger sand pail. Andy found several hermit crabs for the kids! I totally intended on bringing them home and looking for info on saltwater hermit crabs. We have the land ones, but I imagine their diet and habitat are much different!

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Mary told me to tell the rest that we’d be leaving soon. I said okay, and relayed the message. While I was walking back I saw a family huddled around each other looking at something. I snooped to see what it was and they showed me their handfuls of sand dollars! They told us to sit where they were and look for them. The kiddos all stayed on the sandbar while Andy, Noelia and I dug our hands into the sand and unearthed tons of little sand dollars. It was a breeding ground for them, but most of them were already dead :(. Andy told me how to bleach them to make them into those white sand dollars we see at the shops. I’m totally going to scrapbook them!

We went back to our umbrella and started putting all our stuff away after that. Mom didn’t get in the water or the sand at all so she stayed in the truck waiting while we got the girls washed up. Mary’d accidentally bought a pack of bad water bottles (they tasted like plastic) so we washed the girls with those and left them in the car with Mom while Mary, Noelia, Andy, the boys and me went to shower and change.

It took the guys a good half hour to get in and change, and that’s because they didn’t even have a line to wait in. It took us–I’m not kidding you–an hour and a half to get through the line and finish up. Didn’t help that the 2 girls in front of us ended up letting 3 more relatives cut in! I was so mad I asked them if they were all going to go into a stall together and they say, “Oh no, of course not!” And I proceed to tell them how cutting isn’t cool and how unfair it was to everyone else that they let them in. They gave the excuse that it was their first time “here”. Um, too bad. It’s rude in general to do that. So they ended up letting us go through, buahaha.

It felt good to wash off all that salt and sand. I was SO SUNBURNED! I didn’t reapply sun block half-way through our time out there and neither did Andy, so we looked like lobsters LOL. We went to the gift shop in Los Fresnos.

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Since it was such a last-minute trip and I was on a budget, the boys each got a cute message in a bottle with sand and fake gold in them. I got Mario some alligator and ostrich jerky (yum!) and got a sponge, extra shells and a little hut for my hermies back at home.

It felt like forever before we got home and when we finally did it felt so good to be here. The kids had such a blast! We were going to go over to Jorge and Maggie’s that night but I was so sleepy and sunburnt that we just stayed home and chilled out here.