The Beginning of Family Traditions

From the time Baby Taco was born, I’ve been on a mission to start holiday traditions for her to look forward to each year. We’ve already taken Baby Taco apple picking at the start of the Fall. We drove out to Pennings Orchard one weekend and had a blast!

pennings orchard ny apple pickingBaby Taco and her little friend checking out apples.

pennings orchard ny apple picking2 pennings orchard ny apple picking3ST realized his love for Jona Gold apples on this trip. We’ve never even seen this type of apple in stores!

Pennings Orchard also had a small farm where children could feed the chickens and goats. Super cute.pennings orchard ny apple picking4 pennings orchard ny apple picking5

Baby Taco was too young to interact with the animals, but she liked seeing the apple trees and coincidentally, apples are currently her favorite food! We went about a month ago and have just finished our huge sack of apples. Kim made apple sauce in the crock pot and it was the best I’d ever had! We want to go one more time just for the apples – they’re crisp and deliciously sweet.

We were planning on pumpkin picking too, but the crappy weather  put a damper on those plans.

Anyway, this year, we’re headed to El Paso to spend Thanksgiving with ST’s family. So I’m already researching and planning Christmas traditions. :-)

One thing in particular that I’ve been excited to make for Baby Taco is an Advent calendar. Growing up, we never celebrated the Advent, at least, not in a way that I could understand. A couple years ago, ST and I started attending a new church that focuses on Advent season as much as Christmastime itself. That got me thinking about how I could get Baby Taco into the holiday season.

I spent a ridiculous mount of time on Pinterest researching Advent calendars. I found a bunch of beautiful but very expensive fabric ones. Even Starbucks makes an Advent calendar each year. Ultimately, I decided I wanted to make one for Baby Taco each year and I plan to copy Mindy Pitcher’s amazing idea using toilet paper tubes!

diy advent calendarMindy Pitcher’s awesome upcycled Advent calendar

Each night in December, ST and I will read Bible stories to Baby Taco and we’ll open one of the tubes to uncover a little treat. I’m thinking about buying hair clips, onesies, and other small items to stuff in the tubes. Kim has also gotten into crocheting, so I’ll ask her to make some mittens for her. I plan on using my favorite flash sale sites to hunt down the cutest bargains: Frugaa, Tanga, and Jane. My craft stash includes a ton of tissue paper and I have already massed quite a collection toilet paper tubes! I will of course make one for Leela too and fill it with all her favorite treats!

First Family Vacation to Playa del Carmen

I love everything Mexico: the food, beaches, and vibrant energy of the people. Years ago, my mom took my sisters and me to Cancun. It was the first vacation we’d taken together in fifteen years. Then, I found me a handsome Mexican man and married him. We haven’t stopped visiting since. So it only made sense for us to take our baby girl on our first family vacation. :-)

Since we were a large group (8 adults and a baby), we decided to do something new and rent a large condo. Tommy found the magnificent El Taj and it was very luxurious indeed: marble floors, a gourmet kitchen, outdoor jacuzzi, and outdoor grill.

playa del carmen family vacation el tajThe spacious condo 

Our goal was R&R. We love being adventurous but with Baby Taco, we knew we had to slow down our pace. So we rented a car, bought groceries from the local Mega, and got acquainted with the hotel’s wonderful pools and beach club. On our first day, we meandered over to an adjacent beach club and lounged around for the afternoon.

playa del carmen famiy vacation1We purchased the Uppababy G-Luxe specifically for the trip and it held up well. Baby Taco hates being in a stroller but tolerated this one enough to nap in it. 

playa del carmen family vacation6When our little girl finally awoke from her slumber, she felt sand for the very first time!

playa del carmen family vacation3She does this thing where she squeezes your arms with her tiny, chunky hands. I LOVE it. :-P

playa del carmen family vacation5

playa del carmen family vacation2

The location of our hotel was great. It was right by the beach and a block away from Avenida Cinco (Fifth Avenue). This is where all the bars, restaurants, clubs, and shops are. Its pretty awesome. However, the heat is blistering during the day so we couldn’t stroll for long without turning around. Souvenir shops are souvenir shops and after we saw one, we saw them all. My mom likes browsing souvenir shops though and acquired a little collection of knick knacks for herself and her friends.

There was a small park where performers climbed up a ridiculously high pole and then jumped down. Crazy!

playa del carmen fifth avenue4 playa del carmen fifth avenue3 playa del carmen fifth avenue2

It was so hot but also very beautiful.

playa del carmen fifth avenue

All in all, this was a successful first family vacation. Everyone came back tanned and well rested. We probably won’t visit Playa del Carmen again though. Although its a gorgeous place – all of Mexico is beautiful – it was too busy for us. There are boats docked everywhere to take tourists on fishing, scuba diving, and snorkeling trips. The gasoline fumes from their motors made me nauseous; not to mention they took up a lot of space on the shore line. ST, my sisters, and I are BIG on beach bumming so this put a damper on our vacation somewhat. Nearby Cozumel was a disappointment as well – the beach is very rocky, so you can’t go in unless a boat takes you miles out. The shops and streets are surprisingly run down and the entire are seemed a bit depressing to us.

Plus, ST has such a severe case of motion sickness he could barely tolerate surfing lessons when we were in Hawaii. So taking the ferry to Cozumel and then taking a boat out to snorkel was a pretty bad plan, although we had a great time. :-)

We’re already looking forward to visiting other parts of Mexico and Disney World! Next stop: El Paso for Thanksgiving!

Happy Birthday, Aunt Kim!

aunt kim and baby taco playa del carmen family vacationMe and Aunt Kim at the beach in Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Dear Aunt Kim,

I am so happy, thankful, and lucky to have you as my aunt. From the moment you found out about me, you supported my mama and daddy every step of the way. You loved me from the moment of my birth and your love grows for me every single day. You spend so much time with me; caring for me, teaching me, and simply enjoying me that I reach out my arms to you with delight every time I see you. I giggle at your silly faces and goofy sounds. I laugh hysterically when you tickle me and jump up and down. I am such a happy girl and you are a big part of the reason why.

I am so fortunate to grow up with a strong and intelligent positive female role model like you. You work so hard doing a tough job. You are responsible and dependable. I want to grow up to be just like you.

I hope that this new year will be filled with pleasant surprises and new adventures. I hope you take risks and that they pay off. I wish nothing but the best for you with all my heart.

Thank you for being such a wonderful aunt to me.

Love always,

Baby Taco

Well, hello there.

Let’s Be Friends.