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Archive for July, 2015

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We just returned from a trip to Belize with all of Wes’ family in honor of his dad’s 70th birthday. This was the boys’ first time flying. They did very well. Since we took up an entire row of the plane, it helped having Wes and I each take a pair of the kids so we knew who we were in charge of. We all had the opportunity to fly in a small prop plane on our way back to the airport. Ellie got to join the pilot in the front seat. They were all thrilled, but Wes and I had a tight grip on the seat backs in front of us.

We divided our trip into two parts: the mountain region and the coast. In the Mountain Pine region, we enjoyed a stay at Blancaneaux Lodge, the most amazing place. The concierge and servers were top-notch. They got to know our names and arranged all of the outings in a wonderful way for the size of our group (14 in all) and the needs of the children.

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Our open air villa overlooked a rushing river and small waterfall. It was very peaceful. The kids enjoyed waking up with the sun at 5:15 each morning and starting the day with hammock swings on our porch along with “coffee milk” for James.

In this region, we enjoyed several activities. First, was horseback riding.

Ellie was the only one who had previously tolerated riding a horse, so we were glad that all did it this time and enjoyed it. They were led by a guide, individually, so it may not be official horseback riding, but at least they have a good chance of trying it again in the future.

My favorite outing was a canoe ride into a cave (well, except for the bats). It was a unique experience and seemed to enthrall the kids. We also did a walk-in cave later in the trip, which was also quite impressive and an entirely different experience.

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The major attraction in this region of Belize is the Caracol ruins, built by the Mayans nearly 2000 years ago. The ruins were impressive, but I was most impressed with our kids who hiked a ton of steps in the blazing sun without complaining and they outlasted most of the adults. Several of the kids highlighted this excursion as their favorite of the whole trip. On the way back to the lodge, we stopped to swim in the river pools. We arrived in the rain and didn’t stay long, but it was memorable.

My other highlight from Blancaneaux was a night where Wes and I had dinner with our kids and (cousin) Lewis (age 11). We sat for two hours, ordered more courses of food than we could eat, and had the most interesting conversations. It was a moment where I saw just how old our children are getting. IMG_2892 About halfway through the week, we took a 3.5 hour van ride to the beach where Turtle Inn became our home. We slept in open air villas that were 10ft from the ocean. Immediately upon our arrival, the kids took to the pool and to floating in the inner tubes. They returned to the pool repeatedly during our stay. IMG_2921 IMG_2922

One night, Bill and Susan threw the kids a pizza party so that Wes and I could go out to dinner alone. The party was complete with Uncle Bill juggling cucumbers and the children jumping on beds and watching a movie.

IMG_2929When swimming lost its appeal, the kids took to trying to find Coconut, the resort cat. Often, we ended up finding her in Ellie’s bed. Silly cat!

Ellie was able to go fishing in the lagoon and also snorkel some with Wes.

My birthday happened to fall during our time in Belize. Though we should have been celebrating Wes’ dad, the family made sure I had a memorable day. While I was getting a massage, the kids were shopping, making cards, and preparing for a piñata party (thanks Aunt Susan!).

Throughout our stay, we had more than enough food (mostly seafood and Italian, with a little Belizean beans and rice thrown in on occasion). All of the produce came from organic gardens located on both properties. So fresh! The kids enjoyed ordering from the menu. We tend to limit their choices at home to keep things simple, so they appreciated the freedom. I’ll never forget Jack eating “spaghetti with butter and parmesan” for nearly every meal or Ellie ordering the seafood platter and eating the whole thing. She ordered off the adult menu every night and was a very mature young lady.

Our final excursion was a boat cruise down the Monkey River where we saw iguanas, bats, crocodiles, manatees, and howler monkeys. Our fellow passengers may have been more entertained by the little monkeys among us. IMG_2987 We are so grateful for the adventure we had and for many memories and bonds forged among the cousins.

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