February was also filled with projects for Valentine's day and the 100th day of school, M's 1/2 Birthday, T's 4th Birthday for school and for home etc etc. It just felt like I was endlessly making cupcakes and up late prepping for something.
Prepping to leave the children for a week was a huge undertaking. Everything was done in secret because they kids didn't find out until 3 days before our departure. I spent weeks prepping all the meals, snacks, school snacks and supplies for our time away. I started right after Christmas so the food was done in plenty of time. I will say that for a huge procrastinator, it felt refreshing to have something done in advance. Brandon's parents, who are wise and thoughtful, would have navigated well without much of the prep, but my children are not an easy team and I wanted things to run smoothly. There were days before we left that I asked myself if this was all going to be worth it.
We wondered how the kids would handle our big news, but after going through all the scenarios with our therapist we felt prepared to totally underwhelm them as we casually talked about upcoming events. We were shocked when the kids squealed with delight and joy at our news. The kids were so excited about their ten days with Grandma and Grandpa! They were anticipating a trip to a children's museum and many trips to the Y for swimming. There were some tears when we left, but they were quickly soothed by Grandma and Grandpa.
We stayed near the airport on Sunday night because our flight was very early on Monday morning. This ended up being so wonderful. We were able to leave at our pace on Sunday and get a good night's rest before our early flight. I was so giddy in the hotel room. The immediate freedom I felt was worth all the late nights of prep! I was in a bit of denial... this was really going to happen!
The flights went smoothly. We were quite concerned about a very fast layover at DFW, but the plane arrived 20 minutes early AND the gate for the next flight was moved to a gate very near our arrival gate so we ended up having time to spare in the airport.
Arriving in Puerto Vallarta we were met with the typical lies about those selling timeshare being our ride to our resort. I told Brandon this would happen and we have to not fall for it, and still I fell for it... twice! Yuck! They were holding signs with our resort's name and seemed so legit. Brandon said we should never believe anyone that offers us a welcome shot of tequila! Good point! Lesson learned... twice!
When we arrived at our resort it we were blown away by how HUGE the property was! Once we entered the front gate it took about 10 minutes to get to the drop off point. It was a windy road filled with speed bumps. Before traveling I was thinking of leaving the resort for shopping and eating, but after our trip in I hoped we wouldn't have to leave until our trip out!
Once we were dropped off and all our luggage was put on to a locked cart, we were left confused. Thankfully there were other Americans getting back from Costco who were able to point us in the right direction.
Check in was relatively quick because we didn't need to wait in line. We signed up for a Sunday to Sunday exchange, but didn't arrive until Monday. This gave us leverage to get into the room before 5:00pm (standard check in time) and allowed us to avoid the massive lines and waits we had read about. After the initial stage of check-in we were sent to talk with a resort person trying to sell us stuff, but we were firm and the process went smoothly and we were not bothered the rest of the stay, PRAISE GOD!
We were eventually given wristband keys to our room. I put mine on too tight and had to have it replaced the next day, but over all a brilliant idea and way to ensure keys are never lost and for the resort to know who is at what resort because different wrist bands go with different resorts. The place we stayed housed five different named resorts within the big resort if that makes sense.
Our room was on the 9th floor and was lovely! It was everything we had seen pictures of and was perfect. We had a great view of the Mountains and could also see a bit of ocean! We didn't have our luggage and our fridge wasn't working, but we were in a room. We were able to request service for the fridge and went to find the campus grocery. The store had everything we needed and we didn't end up having to leave to buy supplies. The prices were higher than a SuperCenter, but the $15 cost of a taxi to leave and come back meant that inflated prices evened out. After our long (and hot since we were still wearing pants) walk from the store we came home to a room with a working fridge, but no luggage. We finally got the luggage and were able to change into summer clothes. Each room had its own outdoor soaker pool so I quickly hopped in and cooled off. We were tired but content to unpack and settle in.
The first full day was spent floating in the lazy river, laying in the pool, sitting in the shade, eating, playing, talking, walking and spending time together. Sadly, I opted for the homemade sunscreen which left me with some sun burn, but it wasn't too bad and quickly turned to a tan.
The rest of the trip was spent much like the first day. We enjoyed so much lovely couple time along with a lot of great time reading and relaxing for ourselves. Brandon was able to use spin bikes to bike and the weight room to lift on a daily rotating basis. I opted for more time in the sun and a bubble bath each time while he worked out. We were each blessed by our choices!
We ate great food and met many lovely people from around the country, but also from our local area as well! Very fun to run into "neighbors" while in Mexico!
I read Kara Tippett's "Hardest Peace" book and loved it! My main take away was that Love is Kind! It has more meaning if you read the book! Wow! Hopefully I can parent my kids with this in mind and also teach them to be kind because love is kind! I also read Dan Seigel's "No Drama Discipline." It was great with a lofty goal of redefining the negative sounding term and drove home the "connect before you redirect" point! Much of what is written is for parents of typical kids so I find it not working here, but it is good for me to read more about the brain and to try to apply what I learned.
Brandon read many books but spent most of his time reading the big Steve Jobs book. We talked a lot about this man who was quite an interesting guy and battled his primal wound (he was adopted as an infant) his entire life. Our brain research and abandonment research quickly had us putting pieces together and giving our own totally not expert Dx's.
There were many families with young kids at our resort. Some might think I would be annoyed by seeing and hearing them during our special time away, but it was just the opposite. I found them both enduring and a perfect reminder of my reality at home. Seeing parents struggling with kids at meals and kids crying at the end of the day helped me to count my blessings in the moment, to pray for things at home, and to sort of smile at the parenting I was getting a break from at that moment.
Back at home the kids had a great time with Brandon's parents. They were busy and happy. They slept and ate well and didn't miss us! M got sick near the end of our time away, but he was in good hands and was well when we returned.
While we were away we were off the grid. We left our computers at home. Brandon had internet on his phone, but I didn't check my email once. The resort had just a few English channels on the TV so we did catch some political news, but overall we just cocooned and reconnected and basked in the quietness of our party of two. After being married for eleven years we learned new things about ourselves and each other. In the past hard years of trauma we have done much to practice self care and to protect our marriage. We went on this vacation with a great marriage and we came home with an even stronger, greater, and much more refreshed marriage!
When we booked the resort and flights many many many months ago we didn't know how the kids would handle it. When NFB became so expensive and counter productive I questioned this trip many times and I was so thankful that everything had already been paid for and planned.
Spring is teasing us around here. Since we got home the weather has been great! Today is a bit cooler, but overall we are seeing temps that we sometimes don't see until May or June and it is only March. Each warm day means a warmer Lake and a warmer spring and summer! Yahoo!!! The days are getting longer and we see the light at the end of the winter coming nearer and nearer!
We feel so blessed and are thankful for each of you who prayed for us and for our children during our vacation. I am so thankful for respite and for perspective!
I am planning to do some massive uploading of photos tonight so photo posts should begin soon and will hopefully be up each day for several weeks because I truly and that far behind!