Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Obviously, I still can't seem to get the pictures coordinated with the wording. You'll just have to figure it out!

More Photos

Jordan, Stephanie and Morgan

The Lapps Family: Sandy, Greg, Mitchell, Victoria and Elizabeth

Mitchell during the atomic fireball challenge---he lost!

Sandy, Stephanie and Mindy

Here is our view from the pool. The villa is set into the side of a mountain---very steep. The ocean is actually closer than it looks. It's supposed to be a 10 minute walk, but believe me, there is no walking in this area!

Vacation Photos

From this picture, you can get an idea of the "open air" concept that I've described. This is the bottom level which contains the pool, kitchen, eating area, and 5 bedrooms.

Friday, July 25, 2008

If it Sounds too Good to be True...

It usually is!!! And that's what I have to say about our vacation!!! Don't get me wrong, it was fun, fabulous, ultra clean, but there's a little more to it than that. Here's the story:

We arrived in Puerta Vallarta, Mexico to HEAT and HUMIDITY. My hair frizzed up and stayed like that for the week. My make-up melted off in 2 minutes flat. After gathering the gang, luggage, and navigating through customs, we piled into a huge van to Villa Mystique---10,000 sq. ft., 8 bedrooms, 9 baths, swimming pool, 4 servants, overlooking the city and ocean. The road to the villa was cobblestone and straight uphill---all winding with parking garage mirrors all over the streets. Near the top, the road flattened out. We pulled up to the house---beautiful doors set amidst lush foliage. The houseman opened the door to the most incredible view. The entire back of the house was open to the ocean. But, it was HOT and HUMID!! The kids quickly claimed their bedrooms and got their swimming suits on. We adults sat around the pool while being served frozen margaritas, the best home-made guacamole and fresh salsa I've ever had---and way more than our family could eat. But, it was HOT and HUMID!!! As I was sitting there, I was thinking---"well, I guess we never have heard of anyone going to Mexico in the summer, obviously because it's too friggin' HOT and HUMID!"

I had ordered a Mexican dinner for that night, knowing full well that it would not be the type of Tex-Mex that we were used to. Still, I thought it would be fun to experience the local cuisine. Of about 6 dishes, everyone managed to find something they liked. For me, it was just the cheese quesadillas---I mean, how can you mess those up? We were all pretty full anyway from the guacamole and salsa, so no one starved. Then, the mosquitoes started to eat us alive. To say I was disappointed is an understatement!! I did not expect the place to be completely open-air---no doors, just some shower curtain type thing to pull to keep the rain out. But, considering the beauty of the furnishings, gorgeous artwork, sculptures, fabrics, flowering containers, etc, it was amazing to me that it all held up to the elements. We were all tired from our pre-dawn flights, so we retired early. The cool of our air-conditioned rooms was a welcome treat. I took a shower, counted the days I'd have to endure this torture and went to bed.

The next morning, I was in the best mood!! I start everyday feeling like I can conquer the world!! Then, when I opened the bedroom door, the HEAT and HUMIDITY hit me all over again! I decided to change the way I was looking at it. We were luxury camping!!! From then on, we had an absolute ball!!! Of course, we had the houseman secure a couple cans of insect repellent---a scent of OFF that was actually pleasant! A huge breakfast awaited us. We lounged around the pool all day. We went to a really nice restaurant on top of a building overlooking the ocean. When we got home, we started the first of a zillion games for the week. There were fans all over the house that really helped make us comfortable in the HEAT. We started the week off with "Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader", went on to liar's poker, modified bunco, charades, picture changes and a guessing game. We even had a challenge to see who could suck on an atomic fire ball the longest. Everyone managed to get through it except Morgan and Mitchell.

On Monday, we went zip-lining through the jungle. It was an awesome adventure, but very strenuous with having to climb flights of railroad-tie stairs to reach each level. There was one section that I didn't think I could make (I have to add here that Jeanne asked me if it was really hot. My response was that I didn't notice the heat at all as I had bigger problems with the climb to think about being hot---besides climbing, you have to carry your "wheel" which weighs 5-10 lbs. in a harness with a helmet). It took 2 hours with about a dozen rides through the valley seeing a flock of parrots, the river and ocean. A great experience that I would do again--even knowing how hard it was.

Butch and Greg played golf twice---expensive, HOT and HUMID. We shopped, bargained, ate at the Hard Rock Cafe and a local Mexican restaurant. We enjoyed being waited on, the pina coladas, and, for the most part, the food. One night, during our game playing, we ordered Dominoe's pizza. Butch about had a stroke when 4 large pizzas were $100 (that was the servants day off, so we were on our own for dinner).

On Thursday night, we went to a Mexican fiesta with all kinds of entertainment. Mitchell said that he learned something about Mexican dancing---"it's just really, really, loooonnnggg!!! It was a bit on the campy side with the dancing horse and all, but the food was really good (for which many family members paid for later in the way of some gastro-intestinal discomfort).

On Friday, the whole family went horseback riding. I decided to stay behind because I had brought lots of reading and my stitching---which I never got to spend much time doing. I enjoyed a relaxing morning and part of the afternoon. When the family all "crawled" in, they said that I had made the right call by staying home. Everyone was completely sore and worn out. Jordan suffered the worst (Jeanne, did I use that correctly?). She had bleeding sores on her ankles because her stirrups were too loose. The trail ride went straight up the mountain through the jungle for over an hour. Then they let the horses rest an hour. All the kids thought a truck was going to pick them up, but they had to ride back down. Steph said that 2 minutes into the descent she though she was going to die---it hurt that much. About half way down, as some of the horses started to run, Butch asked who was up for a Dude Ranch next year. Mindy was the only one up for it!

That night, I asked everyone to write down their favorite activity and memory from the week. Little did they know that they were doing the journaling for one of my vacation layouts! I'm always thinking!! Anyway, I turned it into a game. I read each one and everyone had to guess who they think wrote it. A few of the favorite memories were:

*Elizabeth playing charades and acting out Solja Boy and YMCA---over and over again when it was her turn.
*Catching a glimpse into the mind of a 12 year old boy who said his favorite memory was when the "balloon man" at the Mexican Fiesta wrote "mucho, sexy babe" on Aunt Mindy's balloon hat.
*Grammy speaking Spanish to the cab driver---asking "Que hora es?" (what time is it), only to have the driver respond in English, "I don't know". Jordan totally cracked up.
*Stepping into our air-conditioned bedrooms at night, a cool shower and clean sheets.

We had the best time and decided that it doesn't really matter where we go, as long as we are together. We'll all be together again next Friday for another week. One of our favorite family traditions is spending the first week of August here at the house lounging around our pool, as a last "hurrah" before school starts. And the games continue...

Check out Villa Mystique here---I'll post some pictures later:

Friday, July 11, 2008

On the road again...

So far, my summer has been one long vacation! Starting with Memorial weekend in Indy, New Orleans, Wisconsin, the beach, St. Louis and now tomorrow, we leave for a week in Puerta Vallarta, Mexico. We're all looking forward to it. We've rented a house with a pool and cook, maid and houseman! Sounds and looks too good to be true. We'll see.....

I'll report when I get back---maybe even while I'm there.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

A Few Photos

1). Jackie's engaged. Greg and she have set the date for September 19, 2009. Notice Jackie's beer---she just pretends to drink!

2). Truly the most beautiful ring I've ever seen and huge! The picture doesn't do it justice.

3). The cutest little pregnant couple---Jessica and Mike. Baby Max is due to arrive in October.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

St. Louis is Not a Vacation Destination

Here's how it went down. I arrived yesterday afternoon. I was reminded that I had to get "stuff" out of the trunk in the garage. Well, last time I was here, mom "enticed" me with the knowledge that there was genealogical stuff I might like to have in there. I took one look at the trunk with stuff piled to the ceiling on top of it, completely boxed in around it, also piled high and decided that even if the Shroud of Turin was in there, I wasn't going for it.

Jeanne came over for dinner and went out with me to get to the trunk. Turns out, it wasn't so hard after all, because most of the boxes were empty! Seems like I inherited my box issues from my mother. We unburied the trunk and started hauling the stuff inside for mom to go through. Jeanne and I discovered what is going to be our family competition on Saturday. Mom had prom pictures for each one of us---and are they hilarious!!! Talk about hideous dresses---oh wait, that's a category for the competition (but Janice is going to win that one "hands down" for her floor length purply plaid floral number).

After Jeanne left, mom said, "yeah, I've been meaning to clean out my garage". Translated: "Barb, will you clean out my garage"? I learned a long time ago, my mother never asks for what she wants, just hints as in "I've been meaning to hang these pictures, move this stuff, inventory my safe deposit box---translated: "Barb will you, blah, blah, blah. Since I live away, I always take the hint as my sisters, Jeanne and Jennifer have to do everything else.

Fast forward to today. Bright and early this morning, I started on the garage. Mom was a little nervous about what I was going to do. She was hovering until I made her go inside. I promised that I wouldn't throw anything away (I lied about the boxes). I also promised that I would not look at the private papers she had stored in another box (okay, I took a peek---I really don't care about the make and model of the phones she has). Don't get me wrong, my mom is the queen of organization---always has been. She doesn't keep a lot of junk. It wasn't that hard of a job except that it was a garage. Thank goodness it was only a one car garage. Sweep, sneeze, drip (as in sweating), sweep, sneeze, drip, etc.---you get the picture. I also discovered little mouse droppings, but won't tell her that. When I finished, I had a pretty significant pile of crap and crud. Now what should I do with it---no dustpan. Even unbelievable to me, but I scooped up a bunch of it with my BARE hands. With the rest of it, I have a choice, sweep it into mom's grass, or the neighbor's grass. I chose the neighbor's. Not really. Okay, yes, really. What the heck, they were still sleeping. By the time they see it, the garage will be closed and they'll have no idea where it came from.

I've also been assigned lamp shopping as Jeanne has reached her frustration level with that and Jennifer has reached her---I'm going to jump off a cliff if I have to take mom shopping one more time---level. She had the unfortunate task of taking mom mattress shopping a while back and needed two stiff gin and tonics to survive the ordeal---with nary a mattress bought.

Okay, sure, I can get the lamp. Then Jeanne hits me with all the stipulations---can't cost more than $64.00, can't be made in China, has to be the correct shade of antiqued brass to match the other lamp and so on. I must say, I'm pumped for the assignment and I have an ace in the hole! Jennifer has some Made in the USA stickers to only be used as a last resort. We wouldn't want mom to catch on that all the stickers look alike!

I get along shopping with mom pretty well. I just treat her like a little kid. My last assignment was shoe shopping for my niece, Jessica's wedding. I took her to ONE shoe store (none of this driving all over tarnation for me). I found a place and told her to sit down. I asked her what size she wore and proceeded to find shoes---not too tall of a heel, no sling backs or open toes, no made in Taiwan, not too slippery, ivory---not beige, white or taupe, preferably cloth since they look more formal, etc. She found two pairs she liked and couldn't decide between the two. She asked if I was taking her somewhere else, I said "no" and made her buy both pairs. She returned the pair she didn't wear the following week.

I've also taken her bra shopping---should be pretty simple----doesn't need anything sexy, just utilitarian. Took me about 5 minutes. I just tell her what she has to buy. End of story. I predict the lamp shopping will be pretty much the same. Maybe she complains about how bossy I am, what do I care, I'm gone.