If We were Having Coffee…..

If we were having coffee, I would say it’s a Tim Hortons kind of day. I’d have a coffee and a blueberry muffin. I don’t have that type of muffin often, I have a craving today for some reason. What will you be having? The Red Velvet muffins are my favourite. They have also had a dark chocolate donut on the menu lately. That looks good too.

2014-08-17 12.46.46

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you the week just flew by. This weekend is going to go even faster thanks to Daylight Savings. I enjoy the extra hour during “Fall Back”, but “Spring Forward” always kind of sucks. How was your week? Did it seem to go by quickly like mine?

If we were having coffee, I’d yell you my Mother-in-Law cashed in her Christmas present yesterday. It was a spa trip to get a manicure. She had never had one before. I was a little nervous about going with her since the last time Hubby got together with her, she was asking all kinds of questions about me and my mental health status and so on. She didn’t bring anything up thankfully. After our outing Hubby thanked me for taking her. He thinks she really enjoyed it. I’m glad. I decided to try a new spa this time. it was really small, but it was the best one I’ve been too. There was no skimping on the hand massage! That’s the best part! I will definitely be going back.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you I am nervous to go to work this coming week. I am once again, the sole Ph.D. student in the lab. The other guy was officially gone as of the beginning of the month and the boss has been away since. This week will be the first week she is around without the other guy’s situation on her mind. I just have a bad feeling a whole bunch of work is about to fall into my lap. I’m feeling kind of fragile and I just want to be left alone.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that Hubby and I got a lot done during our March Break this week. Firstly, we did a huge cleaning. I mean the scrubbing and moving the heavy furniture kind of cleaning. We found all of Ewok’s toys. She has been very happy and playful all week. Last night she even got the concept of “fetch” for the first time!! Ewok is such a sweet cat, and the cutest ever, but not the sharpest crayon in the box. I think it’s part of her charm.

Ewok with her Catnip Banana

Ewok with her Catnip Banana

If we were having coffee, I’d tell the second big thing we got done was taxes. For the first time, we decided to go to HR Block and pay to have it done. It is such a frustrating process to do ourselves and it normally takes a whole weekend. My school bursaries usually complicate the process. This year, we got the whole process done in less than an hour and we got a lot of money back. We still had to pay them to do it, but we got so much back that it didn’t really matter. I think I’m going to start liking tax season, haha.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you the most awesome thing we got done was to book our vacation! I am turning 30 this year, so it is a celebratory trip. We tried to book through a travel agent, but it didn’t work. To make a long story short, it was an upsetting experience and the trip almost didn’t happen. We wont be going back to that agent. We ended up booking by ourselves through Expedia. We are going for two weeks and staying a small boutique hotel on the Pacific side. We did the boutique hotel thing for our honeymoon in Belize and loved it. We haven’t tried the all-inclusive type vacation yet. Have you? What did you think? I am not much of a beach bum either, so we’ll be doing some activities; snorkeling, ziplining, river tubing, hiking, hot springs, volcanoes and so on. I am hoping I get to see some turtles and a sloth. What about you? Have you got any vacation plans this year?

(This conversational coffee post is part of a weekend link-up hosted by Part-Time Monster. Join in the fun!)

Share Your World 2014 – Week 30

share your world

This is the Share Your World Challenge. If you missed the last couple of weeks, more information can be found at Cee’s Photography. Essentially, four questions are asked every week and you have to answer them. Simple and fun! (Thanks Cee!)

 

List 2 things you have to be happy about.

1. I’m on vacation!! It is a much needed vacation and a big relief. I’m not as happy as I should be though…I have so much work to do, I feel guilty to be taking vacation. I might end up doing some work while I am off.

2. I just finished a sketchbook for the first time ever! Usually they get lost, destroyed or I lose interest in drawing for a few years and feel the need to start over. I think having the blog has really helped me keep up with it.

finished sketchbook

List at least 2 things in nature you find most beautiful.

Just two?! That’s hard!!

1. The Pacific Ocean. I’ve seen the Atlantic many times, but this past winter was the first time I saw the Pacific. I was hiking along a trail on the California coast outside San Fransisco. Wow! It was impressive. The waves were huge! It was the perfect display of how powerful  Mother Nature can be. The colour of the water was gorgeous too, such a unique shade of turquoise. I’m sure this doesn’t have much of a wow-factor if you live near the Pacific, but to someone who is used to the dark waters of the Atlantic, it is definitely a wow! Even this photo (from Google Images) doesn’t do it justice.

pacific ocean

2. Sharks. Some of you are probably thinking “What?!”. Yes, they can be scary and I wouldn’t want to meet one face to face, but it depends on your definition of “beautiful”. I define it as anything that pleases you senses or mind. Sharks please my mind. The idea of a species surviving from a time before the dinosaurs and with evolving so little is truly amazing. Check out the photo (Google images) below. You can’t tell me it’s not kind of cute. The Shark is even smiling!

shark smile

Note: later found out photo was taken by Andrew Fox and Google had cropped off the watermark.

Most of you would still probably prefer this though….

shark costume

Show us a 2 of your favorite photographs. Explain why they are your favorite. If you are not a photographer (serious or otherwise), think of a two favorite scenes in your life and tell us about them.

This is a tough one. Not only am I not a photographer, but most of my favourite pictures have me in them. My absolute favourite photo is one of my close family (minus one person, my aunt) on Christmas Eve about ten years ago. I have the photo in my scrapbook. I’m not sure if I want to post it. I’m kind of nervous about posting pictures that I am in. I guess it’s kind of blurry, so you can’t really see me, whatever, here it is.

Xmas family photo

Anyway, we are at my cousin’s place for Christmas Eve and we are all seated around the sofa smiling and laughing. I’m wearing a Santa Claus hat. My mom and sister are looking at each other and laughing about something. My Dad and I are doing the same and my Gran is on the end of the couch kissing my cousin’s golden retriever, Teddy. The photo just exudes happiness. It is one of the last photos I have of all of us together. It reminds me of happier, simpler times…before we lost Gran and before I was diagnosed.

The second photograph is a scene I have A LOT of pictures of. It’s a sunset over the lake at a resort my family used to go to every summer. The best sunsets I’ve ever seen were at that resort. Seeing this photo reminds me of childhood, old friends and happy family memories. It’s the kind of photo that gives you that prickly feeling behind your eyes and nose whenever you see it.

Balsam sunset

List 2 of your best personality traits.

1. Generosity. I think it’s important to be considerate of others, to help others and pay it forward. It’s also a lot of fun to give/make presents!

2. Hard worker. I think (I hope) this makes me valuable to other people. No matter what it is, work, hobbies, relationships…I give it my all. I may get tired, but I keep trying.

Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

Last Week: I lost weight. I haven’t been weighing myself or measuring, but I’ve noticed my clothes are looser and I feel better. Yay Insanity Workouts!!

This week: Vacation.

A Belize Homeymoon – Ruins, Adventure and Caves – Oh My!

Since I’m still feeling ok today, I thought I’d write about something more upbeat. Who knows what tomorrow is going to be like since I don’t have my meds with me. I’ve been reliving my honeymoon today. I’m in Toronto at my sister-in-law’s place and her daughter (who is two) is really interested in travel. She wants to go to the ocean, see lions, fly on an air plane and see a tropical forest. So my husband and I were showing her pictures from our honeymoon in Belize. I know everyone says their honeymoon was amazing, but wow, ours was just wow. It was the perfect combination of adventure and relaxation.

We were away for two weeks, one week in the Belize jungle (at the Sleeping Giant; http://www.sleepinggiantbelize.com/) and one week on the beach (Jaguar Reef). The beach was nice and relaxing. It wasn’t super crowded, our room was beautiful and the beach was great for walking on. I even went on my first snorkel trip! I want to tell you more about the Sleeping Giant in the jungle though. That was the real wow part of the trip.

The Sleeping Giant Rainforest Lodge in Belize; paradise

The Sleeping Giant Rainforest Lodge is an all-inclusive boutique resort. We stayed for a week and got all our meals, drinks and three adventure trips in. We were picked up from the airport by the resort and had a nice drive through the countryside. Belize was my first trip to a third world country, so the drive was a little shocking. The towns were very small and the buildings were falling apart. We came to a sign on the road for the resort and turned onto a skinny little dirt road with more sketchy looking buildings. I remember thinking what have I gotten myself into. We drove a little further down the road and then BAM! Everything changed. The gravel road wasn’t scary anymore, the grass and flowers were beautifully manicured and a gorgeous well-kept building loomed up before us. We were in a tropical paradise.

The resort is quite small, so you get to know the staff and other visitors (if you want to). We had our own private little casista (cabin). We were there for 7 days, we spent 4 of those days exploring the grounds. There is a road going through the grounds you can walk along, if you like walking. It leads through a river and into an orange grove. You may see some locals farther along the road, they usually wave and say hello. There is a pool on the lodge property now. It was in the process of being built while we were there so we went swimming in the river, which I prefer anyway. The river is perfect for swimming. The water is clear, you can see all the way to the bottom which is covered in smooth rocks. The other great thing about the lodge is the food. Breakfast lunch and dinner were all excellent every time. There is a set menu for breakfast and lunch, plenty to choose from. Dinner is fun because it is three courses and in addition to their usual menu they have specials. Dinner starts off with a fresh made soup. It differs every night. We were there for lobster season, so a lot of the main course specials were lobster tails or surf and turf type things. All very good. The third course was dessert (my favourite!). Like the soup, it was different every night, but consistently yummy!

At the top of Xunantunich

Three days out of the 7 we were there, we went on “Adventures”. Our first adventure was a trip to some Mayan ruins, Xunantunich and Cahal Pech. Our guide was great. He pointed out all sorts of wildlife on our way to the ruins; giant iguana, leaf-cutter ants, howler monkeys, he even picked up a tarantula so we could
get a closer look. Xunantunich was quite impressive, Cahal Pech was interesting, but it was still being excavated. Our guide led us through the grounds giving us the history and explaining what all the areas were used for. We even climbed to the top of one of the temples. This was an adventure for me because I am afraid of heights. When we got to the top, I stood far away from the edge with my back flat up against the wall. I was happy there, but no, my husband wanted a photo of us with the lovely view in the background. So I cringed and got on my hands and knees and crawled out to the edge. Standing at the edge was not happening, no way! The things I do for him.

Our second adventure was…exhilarating. If this doesn’t make you feel alive, I don’t know what will! We decided to go on a waterfall expedition. Some of the other visitors at the lodge were talking about it. They enjoyed it, said it was a great hike. We like hiking, so we decided to give it a shot. It was completely not what I expected!! I was thinking hiking in the forest, looking at pretty waterfalls, swimming in the pools at the bottom and maybe hiking up to the top, things like that. Nope, not at all. We did hike in the forest, see pretty falls, and swim, but it was all done in a cave! Yes, waterfalls in a cave!

The cave was dark, we had to rely on the light from our head lamps. The water got deeper the further we went into the caves. I was scaring myself silly by thinking about all those horror movies that take place in caves…like The Descent...eek!! We got to the first of six water falls inside the cave. Water was shooting out of a hole in the wall of the cave. It was quite a beautiful sight. Next, the guide started hooking up ropes and telling us to put on harnesses. We were going to climb the waterfall, straight up the path of the gushing water. Suddenly it was so beautiful anymore.

Wincing as I hit the water in the dark cave. I almost decided I couldn’t do it at this point.

I went first and my husband followed. Being afraid of heights, I was nervous, and with the water coming straight at you, it was hard to see where to climb, but the guides gave me good instructions and I made it. I was waiting at the top for my husband and he was taking much longer than I had. So I looked back and there he was dangling from the rope swinging back and forth through the falls. He had fallen. It was a little funny, I tried not to giggle as he finally pulled himself up through the hole at the top. That helped, He had fallen and was fine, so I wasn’t so scared anymore. We climbed up five more falls after that. My adrenaline was pumping, it was awesome!

Climbing up the waterfall

When we reached the end of the line, the guides turned us around and said time to go back. And how do we go back? We jump down the falls! WHAT?! My fear of heights was back to haunt me. There was no security of being tethered to climbing equipment this time. This was a free jump. I stepped up to the edge of the falls for my first jump. I felt like my legs were full of lead and my stomach was jumping up into my throat. The guide was beside me. He took his head lamp and shone it at the pool below. You see where I’m shining my light? He said. You have to jump there because here, here and here, there are rocks. Are you kidding? Not only am I afraid of heights and I have to jump off a 20 foot waterfall, I have to propel myself forward to miss the rocks directly below. Thanks buddy, that makes it so much easier to jump. I counted to three, took a gulp of air and jumped with all my heart. I did it for all six waterfalls. I think I’ve earned bragging rights. What an experience!

 

A view from inside the cave

Our third adventure was a walk in the park compared to the waterfalls. It was still exciting though. We went cave tubing. It is exactly what it sounds like. You sit in an inner tube and let the river’s current take you on a tour through the caves. Since I had been in the caves climbing waterfalls the day before, this was just fun, not scary at all. The caves were dark, but there were areas where the ground had caved in and you could see vegetation coming in and some sunlight. What a sight! We stopped halfway through the trip for a picnic on a river. The water was a beautiful turquoise.

Our picnic spot – look at the colour of the water, wow!

I’ll let you in on a secret, Belize is the only place in the world that has cave tubing. At least that’s what our research told us. When we were looking at honeymoon locations, I suggested Belize since my wedding magazines were recommending it. My husband immediately said no way, Central and South America are off the list. Then he figures out Belize is the only place to cave tube and suddenly that’s the only place he wants to go. Go figure. You can do cave tubing on cruises in the area too, if you are a cruise person. Another little secret…….we did 7 miles of cave tubing with the Sleeping Giant, cruises only do two miles. It turns out the Sleeping Giant is friends with a resort that owns some of the cave properties, so we get the whole tour while the cruise people only get to see whats on public property. They have to pay more too!

What an amazing trip!

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