Travel, Day 2

On Sunday we flew from DFW to Belize City. Finn immediately fell asleep on the plane — we had barely taken off.

Sleepy Finn on the DFW-BZE flight

It was a good thing for both of us; that boy needed a nap.

We took a different route to the island this time, having a driver pick us up at the international airport, drive us to the grocery store in Belize City, and then take us to the municipal airport. The boys had fun playing in their rocks and jumping in the wind.

Playing at the municipal airport


And here’s our little plane.

The plane, the plane!

We got the same seat (in the back) as we did last year.

On the small plane

It’s really quite a lovely view from the plane.

View from the plane

This time we made a stop on Caye Caulker. It’s a thriving metropolis; here’s the airport.

Quick stop in Caye Caulker

Then back up again and on our way to San Pedro on Ambergris Caye. Armando picked us up in his boat and we got to the house pretty late in the day. The boys and Erin took a dip in the pool while Janice and I unpacked. Then a quick dinner and everyone collapsed by 8:00.

Travel, Day 1

We left town on Saturday, headed first to Dallas/Fort Worth for an overnight and then on to Belize on Sunday. On Saturday morning, I asked the boys to pack up some toys they’d like to bring with us. Finn packed his backpack and by 7:00 a.m. he was ready to roll.

Finn's all packed

I did the rest of the packing, since we clearly have different ideas of what one needs on a trip. We also had some stowaways.

The stowaways

Erin gave them new sunglasses for the trip. Now they’re the hippest kids on the block.

Erin's pic of the  new sunglasses

Auntie Rhonda and Bruce served as chauffeurs to LAX.

The chauffeurs

Finn said his sad (and sleepy) goodbye to Papa.

Finn's goodbye

And then we were off!

Excited travelers

We made it to Dallas about 9:30 with two exhausted boys who wanted a ride.

The boys get a ride

Once we got to the hotel at the airport, Ezra hung out with the luggage.

A little luggage

After a quick dinner in the room, Ezra did book time.

Bedtime stories

It was a very late night, but a good night’s sleep was had. Getting ready for travel day 2.


A couple of weeks ago, my friend Cari asked me if we had plans for Memorial Day weekend. Of course, being the procrastinators that we are, we didn’t, and she proceeded to invite our family to join them at their family’s beach house in Laguna Beach. After a very stressful month, Bruce and I jumped at the chance to enjoy a relaxing weekend. And relaxing it was. Check out this view from the deck (where the kids were having lunch).

Lunch on the deck

Ezra and Finn did a little boating.

The boat

After lunch, the kids changed to swim suits and we hit the beach. Here are the boys showing off their new swim shirts.

Finn shows off his outfit

New swim clothes

Needless to say, they had a blast chasing waves.

Two approaches

Ruby, Ezra and Finn were in and out of the water for a couple of hours.


Here’s a video sample of the beach activities.

Chapin wanted nothing to do with the water, choosing instead to build a house of sticks in the sand.

The kids were pretty worn out and bedtime went better than expected. Since all four were in the same room, we anticipated shenanigans but I think they were just too tired. Here’s Bruce doing bedtime stories.

Story time

The next morning, the kids rose early, had some breakfast and got ready for a busy day. Finn did some exploring with Chapin’s “noculars.”

Explorer Finn

And everyone had a grand time riding bikes, tricycles and plasma cars on the cul-de-sac. We tore them away from their games to go to the aquarium at the Ocean Institute in Dana Point, just down the road. They played in the fishbowl.

Fish tank Ruby and Ezra

Touched some sea creatures.

Getting to touch the sea stars

Checked out the ray. (Finn was not too sure about that guy.)

Finn's not too sure about the ray

And then Bruce said, “At 3:00 they’re doing a squid dissection!” Little did we know, what we thought was going to be a demonstration turned out to be do-it-yourself squid dissections.

Finn and Papa check out their squid

Ezra and his squid

I was lucky enough to be sitting with Ezra, who wanted to do most of it himself, so I only had to cut it open. He, for instance, got to squeeze the lens out of the eyeball. Ick. Bruce did most of the one he and Finn were working on, and Cari handled most of Chapin’s.

Here’s Ezra with the squid ink “tattoo” Bruce gave him.

Squid ink "tattoo"

Ezra was most thrilled, and grossed out, to hear that you can eat squid ink.

That night we went to Cosmo’s to visit Dick, Claire and Alex, and have a delicious Italian dinner. Unfortunately, I was too busy gabbing to remember to take pictures, but I’m so glad we got to see them while we were down in their neck of the woods.

The next day we planned to leave early, but just couldn’t drag ourselves away. Rob and Bruce took the kids down to the tide pools, leaving Cari and me with a quiet house and a nice conversation. The kids had more fun, came home starving and inhaled their lunch on the patio.

Lunch on the patio

One of my favorite parts of the weekend was watching the kids meld their different styles of play. My boys’ superhero play became superhero/princess play with Ruby. There was even a wedding between Queen Ruby and Iron Man’s alter ego, Tony Stark (played by Ezra, of course), complete with a bouquet of flowers picked from the neighbor’s yard and a procession down the cul-de-sac. Their imaginations and flexibility floor me.

Finn passed out in the car while we were still on PCH and slept the entire ride home. Ezra didn’t nap and had a spectacular meltdown about 5:00. All signs of a great trip! Thanks to the Bannings!!

(All of my pictures and videos are here.)

Anza Borrego Camping Trip

Friday marked the last day of school before Spring Break and the first day of our camping trip (organized by some Aveson families). We shared campsites with the Bannings, Heffernans, and later the Brownsteins which was super fun. And we had the most amazing campsite ever. When we checked in, the Ranger said it was one of three sought-after campsites at the campground (the Borrego Palm Canyon Campground). Here’s one of the reasons why:

Bruce and Bren solve the world's problems

Check out that structure! There was even a fireplace in it. The rest of the site was enormous and the views were spectacular. We really lucked out.

The Heffs arrived first (being organized enough to leave right after school ended) and set up a tent for Lucy and Charlie.

Lucy & Charlie's tent

Ezra made himself at home right away.

Ezra's happy place

Finn was very helpful in setting up our tent.


After arriving kind of late (about 6:00), we spent the evening getting organized. The Bannings arrived about an hour after we did. We had dinner, the kids ran around like crazy people, the Heffs left for their hotel a few minutes away (Jerri is NOT sleeping in a tent!), and we all crashed. Finn was the lone exception in our tent; he needed some convincing that it was well past his bedtime and he needed to cooperate.

On Saturday morning we were up bright and early, of course. The morning sky was beautiful.

Morning sky

It was pretty warm already; the kids were in their element.

Finn in his usual

Kids at play

Finn's closeup

In the later morning hours, we were trying to get organized for an outing when the Brownsteins showed up. They’d lost their campsite as no-shows because they’d gotten out of Pasadena late, so we welcomed them into the fold. While they set up camp and had a late breakfast, we went on our day trip. We tried to hike to a calcite mine but didn’t quite make it. At one point we juggled cars to drive on the dirt road. Here are our passengers packed in. (Ezra’s checking his loose tooth.)

Ready for some off roading

Here we are at the beginning of the hike.

On the hike

Fearing mutiny, we decided to give up and head out to see the Salton Sea. There we stopped at the local AM/PM for something cold. The boys chose Freezes.

Having a freeze

The Salton Sea looks pretty amazing from a distance.

The Salton Sea

Closer up, it’s a little grim.

Lots of dead fish

And the town has fallen into disrepair. Here, Bruce leads the children to their doom.

Bruce leads the children

Back at camp, the kids played “school.”

Playing school

Rob offered showers.

Bruce showers

And we got ready for the Aveson potluck. The sky was amazing again. Cari dubbed it the Anza Borregalis cuz she’s clever like that.

Evening sky

After the potluck we went to the campground’s campfire and chat. We were late, but what we heard was interesting. And, more exciting, along the way we saw a baby snake (Bruce did some research and determined it was a Desert Threadsnake) and a scorpion. The kids were thrilled and a little nervous. I was thankful that Cari and Ruby had decided to stay back at camp. It might have been Ruby’s first and last camping trip.

In the morning, the kids got a little play time and I got a picture of Ezra’s injuries — he had tripped over a tent stake in the dark and done a face plant the night before.

Ezra took a spill

There was more bike riding.

Finn gets a ride

And some final digging in the dirt while the adults broke camp.

A road for Chapin

Finn played ball with a new friend (the little sister of one of the kindergartners).

Finn plays ball

And then we were off.

Packed up for home

Not without its challenges, but a very successful trip!


We took a one-night camping trip with the Heffernans this weekend to Refugio State Beach (just north of Santa Barbara) and had a blast. The kids got to go in the ocean, dig in the sand, ride on the bike trailer, climb trees, roast marshmallows, eat s’mores and hotdogs, and sleep in tents. Here are some pictures and a couple of videos.

Time to Head Home

We started the long journey home on Saturday, September 4th at about noon when our original taxi driver, Armando, picked us — and our boat-load of luggage — up.

Armando (our original driver) picks us up to start the journey home

Ezra enjoyed his favorite seat on the boat.


Jamma and Amy were ready.

Jamma and Amy are ready

On the gravel runway at the San Pedro Airport. We had to get out of the way of an oncoming plane that had just landed. And apparently someone crossed the runway on a bicycle, too! Just like LAX.

On the runway

Up in the air over San Pedro.

Up in the air

Finn promptly fell asleep on the 20-minute flight.

Finn fell asleep (it's a 20 minute flight)

Next up was the Belize City to Dallas leg. Once we got there, we checked into the Hyatt at the airport and stayed overnight, enjoying the cool air and comfy beds. The boys took a long bath after having only had showers for two weeks. They brought their little toy sharks, stingrays and coral pieces Jamma had given them into the bath and played for at least a half-hour.

In the morning, we realized at 9:00 that we had been wrong about our 11:20 flight time and that we were really on the 9:30 flight. So, needless to say, we missed that flight and had to get on the next one which was at 1:30. After the initial panic, we settled down, packed up, and checked in for the flight with an hour to kill. Luckily DFW has a monorail which runs around the airport, so we took the boys on that for quite a while. They loved it. Ezra liked to sit in front and drive, giving a play by play account of what we came upon.

Riding the monorail in Dallas

Finn had fun

Finally, it was time to board the plane. Upon take-off (literally as we were going down the runway), Finn fell asleep, so I got an hour to read my book in peace.

Finn fell asleep upon takeoff from Dallas

The boys did really great with all the travel. Bruce kept them busy by making pirate hats, a treasure map and swords out of newspaper.

Bruce made pirate hats and swords to keep the boys entertained

One more bus (to Lot C at Burbank Airport), and then we were driving home. Great timing that the next day was Labor Day because we were exhausted! But what a vacation!!!

San Pedro

Bruce and I took the boys into town one morning to do a little shopping and have lunch. We rented a golf cart and hit a couple of gift shops before stopping for lunch at Daniel’s restaurant on the water.

Lunch in San Pedro

Finn made a connection with our waiter, Emerson, and went back twice to talk to him (although Emerson thought Finn was telling him he was going to throw a big party, when really he was telling him he uses the big potty). Finn was disappointed in the misunderstanding, but he got over it.

Finn chats up Emerson (our waiter)

Upon returning the golf cart, the boys were excited to see a parrot on the roof and made me take a picture of it.

The parrot at the golf cart rental place


Another highlight of our trip to Belize was a snorkeling excursion all six of us took (with our guides, Daniel and Manuel) to Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Alley. The day started off with Daniel spotting a couple of dolphins in the water, so we stopped the boat and watched them play around for a while. The boys were delighted.

We rented snorkeling gear in town and made an attempt to get the kids to try it. They liked wearing the masks and snorkels in the boat …

Ezra and Finn check out each other's look

… but neither of them was interested in putting their faces in the water. I think we should have tried the masks without the snorkels first, but even that may not have worked. They both did spend some time in the water, and thanks to Jamma staying behind to watch them near the boat, Bruce, Amy and I got to go snorkeling for quite a while. Hol Chan provided a huge array of colorful fish, coral and marine life. I’ve never snorkeled before, and this trip was really breathtaking.

Next, we went to Shark Ray Alley and saw — wait for it — sharks! And lots of them.

More sharks!

Bruce and Amy got right in the water, while I stayed in the boat to comfort Finn who was mid-meltdown. (It was late in the day for him and he was ready for a nap.) Eventually, he calmed down and all three of us got in the water (although most of the sharks were gone by then).

Here’s Ezra.

Ezra swims in the ocean

Here’s Finn.

Finn swims in the ocean

And here’s me with a starfish.

Me and the starfish

Not surprisingly, Finn passed out on the boat ride home.

Sleepy Finn on the boat home from snorkeling

Daniel and Manuel started up the barbecue and proceeded to make us the most delicious dinner ever. It could be that we were all starving since it was about 3:30 and we hadn’t eaten since breakfast, but seriously, it was good food. Here’s the lobster and fish awaiting grill time.

Fish and lobster for dinner

And here’s Daniel making a big salad on the dock.

Daniel works on the salad

All in all, a perfect day in Belize.


The boys were very curious about the coconuts that surrounded our little island paradise, and we finally asked the caretaker, Sergio, to open one for us. He went one better and opened two of them — with his machete! Here’s video — first for the water and second for the meat.

Finn really loved the way the first coconut was like a big cup.

Finn and the coconut Sergio opened

Ezra loved the coconut meat.

Ezra really likes it

Day Trip to Lamanai

Bruce and I were lucky enough to get away for a day trip to see the Mayan ruins at Lamanai. It was an amazing (and amazingly long) day. Our trusty guide, Daniel, took us on a boat, a van, and another boat until we finally reached Lamanai. Here’s a map to show where things are. (We started on Ambergris Caye.)

The journey itself was really informative — on our first boat we saw lots of mangroves.

The mangroves

Once we stopped at this little village …

The first stop on the way to Lamanai

… we took a van on perhaps the bumpiest ride ever to our next boat. We picked up two more passengers (there were three couples total — us, a couple from New York, and a couple from London) and headed out. First, Daniel took us to see some spider monkeys — and he lured them right out of the jungle and into our boat!

She walked on board upright

Only the female came on board, but she quickly made a friend.

The female spider monkey made a friend

Then we continued on the rest of the jungle tour (we saw a variety of lizards, birds and bats, but no crocodiles because the river was already high due to early rains). Finally, we reached Lamanai.

Lamanai welcome sign

The ruins were amazing, and Daniel told us there are hundreds there that haven’t even been investigated. This is the tallest one — Bruce and I climbed about half-way up before being spooked by the steep stairs (and the thought of getting back down).

Long shot of the tallest ruin


We ventured out for dinner one night by walking up the beach to a restaurant called Mambo. We got there at 5:30 and were informed that they don’t serve dinner until 6:30. We didn’t want to go home, so we just killed an hour — first we enjoyed cocktails and appetizers on the beach (and Bruce and Finn utilized the hammock).

On the hammock at the restaurant

Amy took Ezra out on Mambo’s dock where they saw a huge stingray. Here’s Ezra showing me how big it was.

Ezra showing me the size of the sting ray he just saw in the water

After a while, Bruce took Ezra and Finn inside for a variety of activities including playing pool.

Playing pool at Mambo

Finally, it was time for dinner. The boys had pasta and didn’t end up eating much (they had filled their bellies with vast quantities of orange juice instead), but they thoroughly enjoyed sprinkling their entrees with parmesan cheese.

Finn sprinkles parmesan on his pasta

When we were done with dinner, it was pitch-dark and we took up the restaurant’s offer to take us home in their boat. I admit to being slightly terrified by the fast boat ride in the dark. The boat dropped us off at the dock before ours because the water is too shallow at our dock, which meant that we still had a little walk home in the dark. Luckily, Jamma had thought to bring flashlights (she is no rookie) but it was still an exciting walk, and we saw this guy on the way.



On his first full day in Belize, Bruce took the boys out kayaking. First, the sunscreen.

Bruce’s version:

Finn gets ready for kayaking

Jamma’s version:

Jamma's liberal application of sunscreen

(She is determined that no one gets a sunburn.)

Finn got the first ride.

Finn gets the first ride

Then Ezra.

Ezra's turn

Then all three Moisions went back out. The boys had a great time.

Three Moisions in a kayak

Bruce Arrives

After five days of swimming, digging in the sand, and relaxing, the boys anxiously awaited Bruce’s arrival in Belize. We waited for our water taxi to take us to San Pedro so we could rent a golf cart and get to the airport.

Waiting for the water taxi to take us to Papa

The taxi was about 40 minutes late … but Ezra and Finn enjoyed hanging out with the older local boys (the son of the property’s caretaker, Sergio, and his friend). Here they are retrieving a snail from the underside of the dock. (Finn wasn’t too sure of the whole process.)

The local boys show Ezra and Finn a snail they found

Finally — Papa arrives! (And Jamma makes him drive the golf cart.)

Papa's here!!

Next we headed to Fido’s (a restaurant/bar) for a quick cold drink. The boys had pineapple juice, while Bruce got into the swing of things with a rum punch.

Finn enjoying some pineapple juice

Then we headed back to the house.

The boys get a front row view on the boat back to the house


A few shots of our beautiful surroundings.

The view from our balcony

Our house!

View from the pool

View up the beach

The dock next door

Island Boys

The boys are quickly getting used to our lifestyle here in Belize — swim in the morning and afternoon, rest during the middle of the day, maybe a stroll up the beach in the evening. They haven’t worn anything except swim trunks or underwear since we got here (that part’s not so much different from home, really). They love that the pool is surrounded by sand and Jamma brought a whole bunch of new sand toys.

Ezra’s favorite digging spot:

Ezra's favorite digging spot

On the dock yesterday evening:

Ezra on the dock

Island boy

Walking up the beach at dusk:

Walking up the beach at dusk