Friday, April 29, 2011

Self Sufficient. Almost.

Conversation after Tyler has just blasted Bryce for asking me to type a paper.  Tyler tells him he needs to learn how to type his own papers.

Me: Tyler, you’re just very independent.  You haven’t needed me for anything since you got your driver’s license.

Tyler: (without missing a beat) Except for money.  If I didn’t have you, I wouldn’t have any money.

It’s enough to warm a mother’s heart.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Step Back in Time

Back to Cancun.  This is for you, Kylie, our biggest silent blog fan!  We’ll have to take you with us when we go back:)  See what flattery gets you?

We took a tour of nearby Mayan ruins.  This tour came highly recommended by friends and relatives since it is from a Latter-day Saint perspective.  We don’t KNOW that these are locations referred to in the Book of Mormon, but there is a familiarity and several pieces of convincing evidence.  Regardless, it was a spiritual day and our tour guide Helaman (yep, that’s his real name!) did a great job of bringing the Book of Mormon to life and relating its lessons to our lives today.  It was definitely one of the highlights to our trip and we can’t wait to bring Justin back.


Helaman is one of 9 children of Mayan and Aztec descent.  His siblings include Alma and Lemuel, and he has a son named Nephi, all famous names in the Book of Mormon.  Lemuel’s namesake in the Book of Mormon is quite rebellious, so it’s interesting and kind of funny that his faithful parents would choose that particular name.  Helaman says of his brother, “But he’s a good Lemuel.  In fact, he’s my Bishop.  He also has a son named Lemuel.  We call them 1st and 2nd Lemuel.”  Awww, that Mormon humor.  Gotta love it.  Justin would be slapping his knee at that one!  Now this is a family COMMITTED to the Gospel!

Helaman picked us up at our hotel.  Our tour included our family and one other couple.  I sat up in the front because he needed someone to help with his visual aides.  Helaman is the master of multi-tasking.  At one point, he was MERGING onto the freeway, SHIFTING gears (manual transmission), ANSWERING a text message, and HOLDING a microphone EXPLAINING the water routes Lehi’s family may have taken while POINTING them out on the chart that I was holding for everyone else.  He never missed a beat.


Our first stop was Ek Balam.  Ek Balam is one of the least visited of the Mayan sites around Cancun, which makes it especially lovely to visit.  (Note the absence of people in the pictures above!) They are still actively excavating and restoring the location and surrounding the buildings that are visible are little “hills” which will eventually be excavated to likely reveal other buildings for this city.  You can still climb these buildings as opposed to other ruins which have been roped off to preserve them from over visitation.  Of course, once I climbed the temple at Ek Balam (and then had to figure out how to GET DOWN), I was not sure that this was a FEATURE.


In the parking lot, we enjoyed a little coconut with chili powder and lime.  Bryce’s favorite part was watching the guy cut the coconut in half with his machete.


Our next stop was Chichen Itza.


In contrast to Ek Balam, this is one of the most popular tourist locations, considered one of the seven wonders of the world, so there were many more tours, people and vendors, but it was never oppressive (except for the HEAT).  It is a fascinating location.  Helaman talked about how the Mayans had the basis of true principles but they became warped with time.  For instance, they began by worshipping God and expressing gratitude for the things He provides like rain and corrupted it into worshipping the THING they need, rain.  Do we do that today?


It was bright.  Tyler had a tough time posing for pictures.


This one was a little better, we caught some cloud cover.


Helaman also posed an interesting theory about Mayan human sacrifice.  Our doctrine states that Christ’s sacrifice ended the need for sacrifice by the shedding of blood (Law of Moses).  Christ states in 3 Nephi 9:

17 And as many as have received me, to them have I agiven to become the sons of God; and even so will I to as many as shall believe on my name, for behold, by me bredemption cometh, and cin me is the dlaw of Moses fulfilled.

18 I am the alight and the life of the world. I am bAlpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.

19 And ye shall offer up unto me ano more the shedding of blood; yea, your sacrifices and your burnt offerings shall be done away, for I will accept none of your sacrifices and your burnt offerings.

20 And ye shall offer for a asacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit. …

21 Behold, I have come unto the world to bring aredemption unto the world, to save the world from sin.

So, Helaman’s theory is that the Mayans may have perverted the commandment to offer a broken heart to mean a literally broken heart, thus creating the tradition of human sacrifice. 


Below is an ancient precursor to the game of basketball—only the “Winner” became the sacrificial offering, a great honor.  Below are pictures of one of the hoops and the large ball court.  The spectators sat on the top of the walls.


Amazing stuff.


On our way home, we also visited a cenote, or a sink hole filled with water.  It was also, incidentally, filled with people.  So a quick dip and we were on our way.


I loved driving on the 2-lane roads on the way home.  We drove through several villages that were throwbacks to an earlier, simpler time with anachronistic things like modern advertising and vehicles tossed in the mix.  Truly a different glimpse of Mexico.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


The clock is ticking. 

The rituals of the senior year are upon us.  All too soon we will be packing up his stuff to go to college. *sniffle*

But, until then, we’ll just enjoy.




Cute Gorgeous Aralie, his date…


She’s not even really pinning (I’m the designated pinner after all), but look at his face!!!



I had to include this full length view.  Her shoes were the first thing to go as soon as they got to the dance (I was working coat check at the time).  She wasn’t the only one, either.  So this was the first and last time to see those beautiful shoes.


Thanks to my good friend Daleen (Aralie’s momma) for snapping these amazing pictures and being such a great surrogate mom while I was checking kids in for the bus.


I love the way they look when they’re all decked out!




Monday, April 25, 2011

Prom Dresses

A brief break from Cancun…

Our stake, along with several others in Southern California, participates in an LDS (Latter-day Saint) Prom as an alternative to high school proms.  The difference is—the youth must actually adhere to the standards for dress and conduct. It is also less expensive, but of course, much of the prom expense comes down to attire.

There were several girls who desired to go to the prom, but who did not have a dress and could not afford to get one.  I told the YW leader, “No problem, I’m sure I can borrow dresses for them to wear.”

That was an understatement.

On Thursday, 8 days prior to the prom, I put a message on our ward’s Relief Society bulletin board and sent out messages to the YW Presidents in the stake.  By Friday afternoon, I had gotten offers for over 60 dresses!  By Saturday, I was turning dresses away!


I was BLOWN AWAY by the generosity of people, many of whom I had never met.  I drove from one end of our valley to the other on Saturday morning picking them all up.  I had rented a coat rack to store them. My boys rigged up the cars so the dresses could hang as I transported them.  I systematically tagged them all so that I could return them to their owners after the fact. 


I had a fabulous time with the YW on Tuesday night as they tried every single one of them on.  It was a swirl of taffeta and silk in every style and color.


My head is now awhirl… If I can collect this many dresses in 2 days, just think what could happen if I actually PLANNED something…!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Just Another Day in Cancun

Bryce knocked #43 off of his bucket list when we got cool frosty drinks at the swim up bar.


Pool or ocean, the water looks the same.


Now that’s what I like to see.  Of course they can’t see because I’ve got them squinting into the sun.


A little bit of this.


Now he’s looking authentic.  The Nike socks and Vans complete the ensemble.


Tyler picked this out just for me. 


I didn’t buy it.


On Monday we met the bus and headed out for a day at an eco park

You must wear helmets throughout the park…very stylish!

IMG_1536Jeff and I were cringing from our sunburns, but it turned out that XPLOR has a lot of underground activities, cold water, and shade—perfect!

We started out on the amphibious vehicles:


Then we moved on to the hammocks:


You zip over the water and then land in the shallow pool on the other side.  Jeff got a defective hammock his first time out and it got stuck halfway, so he had to jump into the water below and “be rescued”.  Funny stuff.  The boys and I were dying laughing, but were sure he’d be put out by the whole thing.  Not even, he wanted to go again and again.

Next stop:  underground river swimming.  Now, I am not a fan of cold water.  On the bus ride over, the staff person was not making this part sound very fun as he was describing the 56 degree water.  I was shivering just thinking about it.  There was no way that water was 56 though, because I could get right in.


It actually ended up being one of our favorite parts.  Quiet and peaceful.

We also tried it with rafts, but I was glad to get off the raft.  Have I mentioned how uncoordinated I am?  I think Jeff was a good sport having me as a partner.  Also, you kind of have to check your vanity at the door when you’re wearing the helmet and walking around in a bathing suit with unevenly burned skin and not even a touch of mascara.


Here we are, triumphant after coming off the rafts…


Last event:  ziplines.  Jeff confessed to being a bit skittish about this, but the boys couldn’t wait.  You climbed endless stairways to reach the start, zip to the bottom and then climb up another tower and repeat.  Each one in the circuit was a little different, some with water landings and one actually ends on a water slide:


You may wonder, “How did you get all those great pictures?”  Well, my friend, it only takes money.  They have this great system where each of the helmets has a number on it.  They have cameras all over the park and at the end of the day you can give them your helmet numbers and they pull up all of the pictures taken during the day, conveniently placed on a flash drive.  Pretty cool.   They know that once you see the pictures, you won’t be able to leave without having them.  We only got a few pictures in our set of people we really didn’t know.

Some places in the park actually have “viewpoints” where you pose and push a button to take a picture.  We never could get the timing right with this one:


Oh, the funniest part of this day was the bus ride back.  The boys wanted to sit in the back and they ended up sitting near 4 very inebriated Frenchmen who each brought a six-pack on the bus with them (and they discovered the mini fridge in the back so they could keep em cold until needed).  It was amazing to me that one of those guys could chatter (loudly!) non-stop for an hour and a half.  Whatever he was saying must have been hysterical because he kept his buddies laughing the entire time.  Everyone else on the bus was exhausted after the long day, but not them!  Good thing they weren’t driving anywhere.