Cancun 2014

I never thought I’d complain about the heat after the Winter we have had this year. But I returned from my morning run in Cancun sweating and feeling nauseous because of the sun beaming down on me. I think my body was in shock after running in 5 degree weather the last two months. But that was the only hot weather complaint I had while on our annual Cancun vacation with Jon’s work folks.
We left on Wednesday morning at 4:30 am (I braved 10 degree weather in shorts with the excitement of landing in 80 degree weather). We arrived at the hotel at 11 am, did our Chevy Chase Vacation head bobbing on the balcony of our room while taking in the ocean, and headed down to swim. We had a blast playing in the waves. Meanwhile, Ri called us four times in a row to tell us how much she missed us. Mario was perfectly content with Grandma Ionno but Ri missed having us around her. We better take that in while we can because I have a feeling that may not continue in a couple of years.
We hung out a good deal with Jon’s friend Craig and his wife Julie. Julie and I tease Jon and Craig about their bromance but it is quite darling. They told Julie and me that they take care of one another – when one is having a bad day, the other lifts him up. And when Craig heard Jon ordering a coke at McDonald’s one morning, he counseled him on making better choices. Precious. Julie talked to me about Pure Barre and how much she loved it. I think that will be my new adventure in exercise…. They are a sweet couple and we all laughed a lot when we were together.

Jon and I engaged in our normal routine: I get up and workout, we meet for the killer breakfast buffet (Ri would adore it), we jump in the ocean and swim, we get massages, we jump back in the ocean, we eat dinner, we crash. Not a bad life. I even swam with a shark this year! I didn’t mean to by any means…. I was looking for shells a ways down the beach and stood up to find a three foot shark swimming by me. I froze and let him continue to circle me and when he moved away a third time, I darted onto the beach. I couldn’t wait to tell Jon and Mario! And Jon experienced a first at the beach, too. He got a pedicure! His feet were baby soft and he had to admit he loved it. I imagine he will be sneaking away at lunch to get one every three weeks. He did have to endure his guy friends giving him grief about his robe though. The front desk lady gave him a super short one to wear even after he asked for another. When he walked into the waiting area, his buddy Phil shook his head and said “Jon, you just made my day.” His other friend told him that the robe looked like it would fit his twelve year old daughter. Nothin’ like guy friends to calm your anxiety. When we got up to the room, there was a present laying there for Jon – a toddler-size robe compliments of “The Guys”. We laughed for ten minutes straight.
Jon’s boss, Jim tried to teach us to body surf to no avail. The man is like balsa wood the way he rides a wave nearly into shore. Jon and I made it about five feet from where the wave crested.
We missed hanging with Dave and Jen and Joe and Lydia – our Michigan buddies. Our schedules never lined up except when Jen and I got to dance to our Violent Femmes song in the pool Friday night. We are gonna need some time on Dave’s boat this Summer….


Patty cranked out four straight days with the kiddos, god love her! Maria got strept throat on Thursday. She called us up barely able to speak but mustering up the words to tell us that “this is the time when she most needs her parents near her.” Talk about knowing how to give a guilt trip…! When we arrived home on Saturday night (a day early between Ri’s strept and the snowmageddon predicted for Sunday), these posters were hanging:

I love how this one has our ages.

And this one poses questions to us (answers: I’d rather eat with Michael Jackson and Jon would rather eat a snail).
We got the most warm and welcoming hugs from the munchos when we stepped in the door (we need to leave more often).
And Rocco was in heaven with his doggy pals at the farm. As Jorge commented “Rocco likes Winter.”

All is back to normal again: kids, Rocco, 48 year old dad and 42 year old mom are back at home together waiting for Spring to come.

Stepping out

maryOur trip to Cancun started with a box of Whoppers and Bossypants. I must have snacks and a good book on a two-hour flight (in fact, any mode of transportation absent a bike requires emergency snacks).

We left Mario with Patty and Joe and Maria with Meg for the first two days of our trip and then M&M went to the farm for the weekend. Mario is beside himself at Patty and Joe’s house even more than before because they recently bought a Wii. Mario packed up his Skylanders and couldn’t wait to spend hours showing them off to Grandma and Grandpa (they will be sainted). It was almost as awesome as Christmas morning for him. While Mario was at Grandma’s house, he made a formal declaration to her: “Grandma! My mom doesn’t buy me any clothes that fit.” He did this after he went in the bedroom to get dressed and came out with a pair of high water pants and a long sleeve shirt that could have been short-sleeved on him. In my defense, I bought him clothes this year but I have tended towards the smaller sizes because up until this awakening with Patty, he never wanted pants that went to his ankles and he wanted his shirts skin-tight. So, I’m glad to see he’s turned a corner and that Patty got to be his personal shopper while we were away. He dragged her into Children’s Palace, picked out clothes, and had her and Joe wait outside while he tried them on in the changing rooms “like the girls get to do.” He walked out with an Oxford shirt and a pair of jeans and asked if he looked cooler than Justin Bieber. Patty told him he looked cooler. He was smitten. He found a tie to match his shirts and he was set. Thank you Patty for clothing our rock star.

mariapjsMaria hung with Meg and dragged her all over the house to see random things – her fish, her clothes, her on-line games. She even got to take Meg to see her classroom and demand Meg to definitively tell her whether it was Jack’s old room or not.  They ate pizza with Jen and hit Target for a new pair of hip peace symbol pajamas.

On Friday morning, Maria got the present of her life – a day off of school due to the ice accumulation.  Poor Meg had to deal with the school closing (Jon and I lucked out!).  Not only did she need to deal with the school closing – she had to deal with a migraine and vomiting.  We would have never known had Maria not left me a voice mail that I got when I returned home on Saturday that went something like this: “Mom, please call me as soon as you hear this message.  Something is very wrong with Grandma and we need you to come home.”  Lovely.  Meg ended up feeling better by later in the afternoon and luckily the kids were able to spend a few hours at the neighbors’ house dancing to Gangum Style while she rested.  Mario got to eat chocolate for breakfast and Maria got to fill her cereal bowl with Lucky Charms so all was good with them.

maryjon1Meanwhile, Jon and I ate like 16th century kings and played in the ocean like toddlers.  We are one of few folks from Jon’s work that actually go into the ocean, probably because there are always red flags on the beach (meaning you shouldn’t enter) and because you wouldn’t want to hit the waves if you are the tiniest bit intoxicated.  The waves were angry this year, and Jon and I were hurting after a half hour in the water.  We limped out complaining that our shoulders hurt, our legs were weak, our calves were twitching.  It’s not easy getting old and still acting like you’re two.  But we continued to jump in every day we were there.  We may be immobile for the next two weeks but we did it.

I had a rough Wednesday night and Thursday due to some rockin’ gin and tonics.  There was something about the ocean, full moon and 80’s music that made me do it.  And it will be another year before I do it again.  I just don’t have it in me to recover quickly.  I woke up in my dress Thursday morning with Jon laughing at me.  I felt like I had swallowed a cat.  When I stood up, my legs felt like spaghetti.  I was hurting.  I tried to make it the gym to ride the bike with the hopes of sweating some of those nasty toxins out of me but as soon as I pedaled, it felt like someone was squeezing my head in a vice.  It was no use.  I went back to the room and curled up in a ball.  Jon returned from breakfast and shook his head.

The rest of the day consisted of a facial and a massage and lots of steam room and sauna action.  I refused to leave the steam room until I was dripping in sweat.  Those little alcohol toxins were going to be blasted out of my body somehow if not by exercise.  I ate two entrees for lunch.  We sat with Jon’s colleague, Dave and his wife Jen (the “sporty couple”).  They are always a treat with hilarious stories about their kids or their house or some random event that happened to them. They also give us a little glimpse of what M&M may be like in a few years since their kids are a few years older than ours.

By the evening, I was back with the living.  We had dinner at a fish house with Jon’s boss and others on Jon’s team.  We sat outside and chowed down on crab, lobster and apple pie.  One of Jon’s friends, Craig and his wife Julie (the “healthy couple”) sat with us at dinner.  Craig gets on Jon for eating McDonald’s for breakfast; he gasps when he hears Jon order his breakfast and tries to urge him to eat oatmeal instead. God love him.  There was an ongoing joke at the restaurant that Craig and Jon were “together” since they sat next to one another (I sat across from Jon and Julie and Julie and I decided the boys could have each other).  It led to much laughter through the evening in addition to the laughter that came from discussing 80’s tv shows (Love Boat, Dynasty, Eight is Enough, Chips – it was hilarious to hear the names of these shows that we all grew up with in the 70’s and 80’s).

Friday was a much more friendly day to me.  I had not drunk at all on Thursday night and my body thanked me.  I got out of bed ready to take a run in the heat and hit the gym.  Jon and I hit the breakfast bar together, too, which is one of our favorite things to do on these vacations.  For a girl who loves chocolate and bread, I was in heaven, Chocolate croissants, french toast with almond slices, nutella, chocolate donuts, chocolate muffins.  Maria would have been hitting the bar with me five times over if she was there.  We swam in the ocean again Friday and then met up with the president of Jon’s company and a throng of others to have dinner at a Mayan restaurant.  We sat with a good group of folks including Jon’s colleague, Joe and his wife Lydia (the “chic couple”).  They are precious.  Lydia is Sicilian so Joe had some hilarious stories about dinner with her parents.  He also told us the story of why he enjoys Porsches and VWs so much.  Jon wants to follow in Joe’s footsteps and buy a Porshe.  I told him he could if Joe promises to provide maintenance on so it so we avoid throwing thousands of dollars at a car shop when something goes awry.

We were so full after our dinner on Friday night we could barely move.  We packed up some of our clothes for our 8 am departure on Saturday but then gave up and laid on the bed like two beached whales.  When the morning hit, I did one last run to remember the hot weather (I would much rather run  in cold weather) and then hit the breakfast bar with Jon.  We got to the airport two hours early as the hotel requires us to do and then found out that our flight was delayed three hours.  So we had five hours to kill.  We played Gin Rummy and ate Dominos pizza.  It was the bomb even though Jon is up 7-4 on me.  But I did win our one and only game of Crazy Eights.  Yeah, I’m bad.

We arrived home late Saturday night and called the kids.  They were so excited to hear from us they couldn’t stop grabbing the phone from one another.  That felt good.  Meg said that Maria cried for me when the night-time rolled around – sweet baby.  Mario got me on the phone to tell me he thought of me when he looked at the sky and he wanted to see me – second sweet baby.  I hung up the phone feeling loved.  The kids reported their adventures when they returned from the farm – Mario helped Peepaw cut a trail in the woods (he showed me his cuts from the thorns); Maria helped Peepaw clean bird nests and found two blue eggs and Meg taught her the process of sewing (that is a talent we need in this house).  Both kids got to go fishing on Saturday when it was a tepid 45 degrees outside. They got some bites but no fish.

mariamarioWhen they arrived home on Sunday, I ran out to greet them.  I got two of the longest, strongest hugs in a while and sat on my knees enjoying them.  Then I got pulled inside to look at Maria’s eggs and to show Mario where the iPad was so he could play on it – he hadn’t been around technology for two whole days!  Maria was by his side within minutes helping him try to buy gold coins to use in his Spiderman game.  And we are back to normal….

Cancun or Bust

Last Tuesday spun by like a wooden top.  Jon worked on the house all day with Jason while also trying to take calls for work.  I sat on a dozen conference calls and cranked out emails in an attempt to avoid having my colleague overwhelmed while I was out.  When I got home, we madly packed our clothes realizing that shorts didn’t have buttons (and of course neither of us can sew) and dresses were torn.  Too bad we didn’t look earlier.  Oh well, we realized we’d be in our bathing suits most of the time.  I packed the kids’ clothes and boots for Grandma Meg’s and Peepaw’s house, and tried to gather some games and toys that both the kids and the grandparents would enjoy.   We put the kids to bed at 9 pm, and as I left Maria’s room, I heard her sniffling.  When I went back to give her a hug, a full-out bawling session occurred.  She begged us not to leave for Cancun.  It was awful.  We did not expect that type of reaction from her.  I rubbed her back and laid with her until her eyes shut.  I walked out of her room softly hoping not to wake Mario.  When I peered in Mario’s room to ensure he was asleep, I was taken aback when I saw him sitting straight up in his bed wide-eyed staring out at me. 

“What’s the matter, pumpkin?”

“I don’t want you to leave me.”

Jon walked in the room and both of us let out a collective sigh. This unexpected emotion from the kids took us both by surprise and we stood there holding Mario between us and rubbing his back.  They actually do love us….  We let Mario lay with us and we are sure that we were both out before he fell asleep.   When we woke at 4:30 am, Maria got up, too.  She cried again for us to stay and it was only when Maggie laid with Maria in our bed that she calmed down.  What a way to leave!

We arrived in Cancun at noon to a beaming sun and breaking waves.  Heaven.  This is our third trip to Cancun – Jon’s company sponsors the trip.  We stay in the same hotel each year, and play in the same part of the ocean.  We eat at a lot of the same restaurants, and hang out with the same group of friends. As much as that may seem monotonous, it is actually very soothing.  We have no concerns about how the hotel will be, whether the beach will be nice, how the food will taste.  We know it is always close to perfect.  The first couple of years I felt a little overwhelmed with Jon’s friends and their wives.  A lot of them know each other well from going to Cancun every year or because they live in the same city.  I am a lone goose.  But this year, I let go of any concern about not fitting in and just enjoyed myself.  And it was the best trip we had in the three years.  Jon and I ate incredible food, played like kids in the ocean, snorkeled, drove a speed boat (Jon felt like Crockett in Miami Vice!), sat together on the balcony listening to the waves, and talked uninterrupted!  I loved diving in the ocean for sea shells; Jon would stand on the beach with the water hitting his legs waiting for me to bring shells to him.  It was a precious gesture on his part. We laughed hard at Jon’s friends’ antics.  They are all hilarious in their own right.  Phil is from the UK and has a quirky little accent.  He is so cool that he could afford to wear white beach shoes and still look good.  Dave is from Michigan and he is your down-to-earth, good-natured guy who always has a funny story to tell about his kids or his wife or their adventures.  Joe is a slick, suave Michigan guy who is always considerate and making sure that people are having a good time.  Their wives definitely make them the men that they are – they are the backbones of their families.  Strong, funny, and intelligent, they always welcome me into their group and make me feel at home.  Those are the three guys and their wives that we hang out with the most in Cancun but there are others who provide us with much entertainment, also.  It’s a good group and the camaraderie and brotherhood amongst the male colleagues is enviable – I wish I had as much fun with my work colleagues as these guys have together. 

The resort

I got a killer head and foot massage on our last day at the beach.  It was the “Organic Massage” and consisted of a scalp massage, hot towels, face massage, foot massage and hand massage.  It ended with a back massage and hot towels on your back and legs.  I thought I had died and entered heaven.  She poured citrus oils on my hair and spread them on my skin during the massage.  I smelled like a lemon when I left.  Jon went jet skiing while I got my massage.  He didn’t realize that there were 10 foot waves to conquer out in the ocean.  He was a hurting puppy when he came back to shore. 

We flew home on Sunday and rested for an hour before we headed out East to pick up the kids from Meg and dad.  They had a great time on the farm, as always.  They rode the horses and played outside.  Maria reported to us that Peepaw cut down two trees and “almost killed himself!”  She loved telling the story.  Mario reported that he almost fell off their horse, Taz but Peepaw caught him.  Maria is learning how to ride Taz better and even steered him herself.  She wants to take horseback riding lessons so badly, which I have been struggling with since I know nothing about horses.  Jon loves the idea because he loves horses. 

M&M with their Mexican flutes

I always dreamt that my daughter would play soccer and softball and all of the other sports I loved to play as a girl.  I have slowly gotten over my preoccupation with what I think Maria should be and realize I need to let her be who she wants to be.  So, horse riding lessons are in her future (of course she picks the most expensive hobby!).  When they rode up to meet us, Maria and Mario had huge smiles on their faces.  They jumped out of the car and gave us gigantic hugs for minutes long.  It was an awesome few minutes.  The ride home was just as awesome with them describing their week to us and listening to us about our adventures in Cancun.  The evening continued to be great with wrestling and airplane and reading books.  We fell asleep with smiles on our faces. 

Then Monday morning arrived.  Back to the grind.  Running around the house trying to get dressed and packed and papers filled out for school.  But I took a deep breath as I loaded Maria’s lunchbox in her book bag.  I stepped back from the table and stared at M&M and Jon in the hallway putting on their coats.  Can I love them anymore?  One thing that getting away does for me is reinforce how lucky I am to have such a warm husband and adoring kids.  Even if we are at each other’s throats at 8 am on Monday morning.

A much needed get-away

Looking out to the waves.

Jon and I took off for Cancun on Wednesday a couple of weeks ago.  It was a nail-biter prior to Wednesday morning at 5:30 am when we took off for the airport.  I got a leg infection on Sunday afternoon – thought it may be a hernia since my left thigh and groin were swollen and red.  I went to the ER on Sunday morning to ensure it was not a hernia and discovered it was an infection.  Luckily, antibiotics kicked in quickly and I felt better by Tuesday morning.  Then it was Jon’s turn to give us a scare.  He came home on Tuesday night feeling nasty with a headache, stomach ache and slight fever.  He never got his flu shot this year, and he felt like it was the flu coming on strong.  We packed our bags up on Tuesday night but in the back of both of our heads we were thinking that the trip would likely be cancelled. 

Jon and I braving the zip-line - we were pros!

Wednesday morning came and Jon got up from the bed to get his alarm at 4:45 am.  He still felt achey and his stomach hurt but no fever.  It was quite the dilemma at that time of the morning – my body had no desire to get out of bed and the fatigue overwhelmed the senses, which were screaming to get out of the 9 degree weather to sunny Cancun!  Jon and I waited until the last-minute to decide to go; called Maggie to come over and get Maria to school, and headed out to the airport.  Seven hours later we were in 79 degree weather staring out at the ocean. 

We had a marvelous time between playing in the ocean, zip-lining through the “jungle” , driving ATVs through dirt paths and ankle-high puddles (got my brand new gym-shoes dirty though – ugh!), and swimming in a cavernous pool of fresh water.  The ocean was our favorite – we both love diving into the waves and getting thrown around.  We agreed that Spring Break should be at the beach if it is warm enough.  Meanwhile, the kiddies were with our beloved parents. 

Maria enjoying a tractor ride (altough her face says differently!)

Maria stayed with her Pee-paw and Mama Meg.  She got treated to her Uncle Jack’s concert on Friday night and the farm on Saturday and Sunday.  She went on two hikes with her Pee-paw, both lasting over two hours.  That kills me!  I ask her to walk to school a half mile away and she whines the entire way.  Something about that gorgeous farm….  It helped that there was ice coating the creek – Maria loves cracking it.  Mama Meg played barbies with her (what a saint!) and cooked up some yummy food.  Meg is the only relative I know that actually vetoes certain barbies going out to the farm!  It seems that she refuses all the sluts and bimbos so I gotta give her a shout out – way to keep Ri real!  Mario stayed with Grandma Ionno and Papa Ionno.   They spoiled him like mad (as they always do) and he was in heaven.  It is his second home up there.  He sat on Papa Ionno’s lap one night and ate mini Nutter Butters while they watched basketball.  Mama Ionno cooks him whatever he wants, scratches his back softly (Mario scolds me everytime he comes home from Mama

Mario and his Grandma Ionno

Ionno’s house that I don’t scratch his back as good as Mama Ionno!), rocks him to sleep, and lets him wrestle her.  He is the king of the roost in that house, for sure. 

I treated Maria and Mario to COSI when we returned from Cancun.  We spent 6 hours at that place!  They saw geckos, entered a submarine, played in the kids area, changed the weather, and got shocked by electricity (supervised by a real scientist – not a torture device for being bad!).  I was pooped, as always, when I got home with them but the kind of pooped that intertwines accomplishment with exhaustion, gulping down life with drop-dead fatigue.


My sister just wrote a superbly astute post about the dichotomy of travel.   I have tried to find a way to express my longing for the familiar the second I step on a plane to leave home, and I have failed miserably.  She captured it elegantly and beautifully in about two paragraphs (yeah, she has to one up her big sis – if it’s not through running, it’s through writing).  Her  blog is   She talks about “the missing feeling” that she gets when heading out on a trip.

I get that “missing feeling” in different variations when I head out on a trip but I always get it.  When I left for Cancun on Wednesday morning, I got it as soon as I woke up to take a quick run.  I always complain about the running routes in my neighborhood because there are only so many directions that you can take.  Therefore, you would think that I would be excited about a new place, warm weather (it was 20 degrees when we left Columbus on Wednesday), and gorgeous running scenery.  Instead, there I am pulling up my running pants and slipping on my sweatshirt thinking “Why did we schedule this trip?”  What happened between the time that we scheduled the trip and the day the trip occurred that can cause such a divergence?  Then, I am out running and thinking back to two days ago when I was giving Maria and Mario a bath and Mario splashed water all over me and Maria and Maria hit him in the head and he pinched her back and I yelled at them both and Maria yelled back “I don’t like you mom!” with her hands crossed over her chest and Mario splashed me again in the face.  I walked out of the bathroom into the hall, glared at Jon, and asked him to remind me of that moment if there was any time during our trip that I started to miss home.  So, a momentary wish to get away hit me but then – before I even hit the next block – that aching pain for home comes back.

Nevertheless, I arrive home and don that smile of mine as I do my last-minute packing.  “This trip will be so much fun” I pronounce to my hubby.  I continue the back and forth through the trip – experiencing moments of sheer delight in being in Cancun (diving against the waves of the ocean, playing with the dolphins, enjoying a meal without any little person throwing food on me or interrupting me every second) and experiencing moments when I miss my babies and my Columbus life (there were so many kids in our hotel reminding me of Maria and Mario with every turn of the corner).   But, in the end, as I sit here ready to board a plane back home tomorrow morning, I cherish these past five days away.  It has refreshed me, drawn me closer to my hubby, allowed me to appreciate all I have, and most of all, given me a new experience to tuck away in my pocket.  I typically take trips that involve lots of hiking and exploring and sleeping on hard surfaces but this one I spent lounging next to an ocean and eating at fancy, upscale restaurants.

It was nothing like my home life and that was what made it so pleasurable and satisfying.  But, in less than 24 hours I will be back in such a life with my babies – seeing things just a tad bit differently – and forgetting how I could ever have experienced that “missing feeling.”