Monday, September 19, 2016

A Weekend in Savannah!

Back in August when we put our house up for sale we took a little road trip.

Since our house looked PERFECT for the listing, we knew that there was NO WAY we could be living there while the house was being shown. Three kids and a spotless house? No can do. Thank God we went under contract right away because we couldn't really stay out of town too long with Mateo's new school schedule (i.e.: everyday).

Well, we didn't actually make a decision of where to go so when we got in the car Saturday morning (and our buyer was walking down the sidewalk) I didn't know where we were headed.

I mentioned driving to Chattanooga for the weekend because I have heard there are some kid friendly activities (children's museum, aquarium, big red train, and hiking to a waterfall) but really I saw a sweet pair of Barcelona chairs on Chattanooga's Craigslist for $100/each! OH MY! That was a good enough reason for me to go there.

Ernesto vetoed that. He left us to sweat it out.  Mateo will bug you to give up a secret surprise until you cave. So finally Ernesto said "Savannah!"

We have not been there since Mateo was a baby. What a great trip that was!  (look how cute my little Mateo was-who is now almost 5! Ugh!)

What a great town Savannah is! Have you been?

We used our points at the Westin and got a SWEET room up high- right on the river! 
No car needed.  We just hopped on the little ferry in front of the hotel, and five minutes later we were walking the streets.
It was a late night, but these guys held up fairly well.
We were actually just finishing up the final negotiations on our house sale on the ferry back to the hotel.  We were under contract by 1130pm. 
The next day we drove across the bridge to Tybee Island and let the kids do their thing. They are good beach bums.
Apparently baby girls "thing" at the beach is to eat sand. UGH!

Ernesto bought one of these beach tents and it was perfect!  Must get one for San Diego next year! 
We built castles in the sand and ate CAKE BY THE OCEAN!  Ok, no we didn't...but I wanted to.  The kids love that song
It was kind of a long drive for one night, but oh well. Getting to a beach in less than 4 hours is not too bad.  Plus we ate at the Crab Shack in Tybee Island. That is almost worth the tree alone.
What a cool place.  We tore up that seafood platter!
The other highlight to this place? Alligators! Yikes!  Supposedly they are tame though.
 And they do tricks!
 You knew that was fake right? They are not huge, but still scary enough.  The boys loved them and grabbed a pole to start the feeding frenzy.

We had Starbucks and three sleepers on the drive home!! It was the most relaxing part of the trip!


Well, after nine months of searching for a mid century modern house in Atlanta, we are finally under contract living in one!
It all happened so fast - selling our house and buying a new house in a matter of a month! Whew! We closed on the old house at 9am and the new house at 330pm that same day.  NUTS!  But we did it!  Somehow we packed (err...threw things into tubs) and got out of our house in two days after closing.  

If you are familiar with Atlanta, we are near the intersection of Briarcliff and Lavista Rd.  (just 6.5 miles north of our house in Grant Park)  It definitely has a different feel than our old neighborhood.  Good thing?  More space.  I like that we are not on top of the house next to us.  Bad thing? More space.  It will surely be harder to get to know our neighbors, but actually Nextdoor will help with that. And of course getting to know other parents and Mateo's school. Its a new adventure! 

At just under 2000sq ft, this is not a huge house by any stretch. It actually is just 400 sq ft bigger than our last house, but the layout is going to work so much better for us. (At least,I hope!)

Ideas are just racing in my head. I will mention a few here today as there are a lot of changes we want to make.  But the house is totally livable and "up to date." (as long as you have granite, you are up to date, right?! ha - this is something I saw in sooooo many listings while house hunting)

Anyway, would you like to take a tour? 
(keep in mind that these are the listing photos with the previous owners stuff)

Built in 1963, this house creates that "living one with the outdoors" kind of feel that so many mid century modern houses are known for. All of the windows in the back let the light in making it feel spacious and bright. 
Even though the house sits on a .5 acre lot, the back yard is small.  I love that it is wooded beyond the fence (which we will be replacing obvs) but there is a HUGE drop off- so much of the "yard" is  un-usable land . Not ideal, but perfect for a Tarzan swing or zip-line!! Ha! Still, with all the trees it feels secluded and private. Who would guess that we can walk to Starbucks and Whole Foods in less than 10 minutes?!
Small or not, we are going to make this a kick-a$$ entertainers yard. It's actually pretty shaded most of the day (hence all the moss growing) but some of the trees need major trimming so this will help when we go to plant grass/lay sod.

What sold me right away on this house is the high ceilings.  
I told you I bought a 10 ft white Christmas tree on clearance from Target last year right?  Well, that is the main reason I started house hunting. I needed taller ceilings! Ha!  That was I said when people asked why we were moving from Grant Park.  Yep, it will fit perfectly here! 
Looking out to a forest view is awesome! So peaceful too!  Of course the peace and quiet ends at the windows for us.  See that fireplace in the middle? (that the couch is blocking??!! hello?)  Oh yeah!  That makes a great running track. As you might imagine, high ceilings and hardwoods make for great acoustics.  
I know the walls/ceilings seem light and bright in the photos, but they are painted a dark beige. Boo!   They were photo shopped for the listing, but feel a bit drab in person.  I am delving into the confusing world of white paint choices right now... Why is white so hard? It's white right?  The more I look, the more undecided I am.  I bought three samples and I just have to pick from those (Ill show you in another post!) and be done with it. 

The light wood floors are great (albeit squeaky)! I will NEVER EVER have dark wood floors again.  Ever! The dirt can just pile up on these and I dont even notice!  I just LOL while typing that. Yes, I'm still going to sweep my floors, but it won't need to be done daily or heaven forbid twice a day! 
Ain't nobody got time for that!

Even though the kitchen is not totally open to the living area, it has great flow. The dining area is large enough to fit my 60' round table too, so I'm happy about that. 
Yes, that chandelier is SO out of there! Also those upper cabinets above the peninsula are goners too. 
Well, actually the whole kitchen is going to be removed. I know, I know, before you say "but that is a nice kitchen!"  Let me say...It is a fine kitchen.  The cabinets are great quality and solid wood (cherry I believe).  The are in great condition too (unlike our old kitchen's flimsy builder grade Home Depot cabinets) but they are not my style.  More importantly though, they are not meshing with the style of this 1960's house. Tell me, would Don Draper look right standing in this kitchen? Definitely not. 
I have surprised myself by loving the easy clean up of the vinyl floors, but you know they have to go. Another downside. Electric stove.  Its the worst! You think I burnt a lot of tortillas on a gas stove?  I am for sure going to break my record with this thing.  It takes forever to heat up, it gets too hot, you try to reduce the heat and...blah blah's gone! (unless of course it costs $10k to get gas run to our house...then we will just suffer it out)
Although there is no on suite in the master, it is huge and I am not caring at all. 
Please try to look past all of the fabulous decor here, and notice the windows, window windows! 
We did put our bed in the same location and one afternoon, Ernesto was camped out playing his golf game on his phone and "enjoying the relaxing view" from bed. I think this will probably happen again. (and again, and again)
The 2 bathrooms are not terrible.  With white tile and light gray walls, I can easily wait for a remodel, 
That strip light however, will bug me. See the little vintage one in the shower? That one is cute.  
Oh! The previous owners left the plastic curtains (window & shower) so I have been reviewing my chemistry.
This will be Paloma's room, the only other bedroom with ours upstairs.  It is light and bright and big! I can't wait to get it all set up. 
On the downstairs level there is a family room (with another fireplace!), two additional bedrooms and a laundry/storage room.  
There is built-in shelving on either side of the room, and even though my first reaction was "Im getting rid of those" my sister had the idea of having doors made to cover them and wha-la! Instant covered storage! (Thanks Fred!)  This set of shelves below are right at the sliders to go out to the back yard and carport, so will probably be a main entrance for us.  Again, my sister's idea (master organizer and user of every square inch), but these could be utilized as a make-shift mud room and each kid can have their own door! Jackets, shoes etc can all go here.  Paint them out and they are going to be awesome!  I AM GOING TO BE SO ORGANIZED!!! 
Parkay? No, parquet.  No. it's vinyl and although the flooring is not in horrible condition, I really want to put hardwoods down here.  I would like it to have the same feel as upstairs (with lower ceilings ha) and I feel clean light hardwoods (and some paint) will do the trick. 
There is a HUGE closet with floor to ceiling shelving over to the left too, and that has been designated as "the toy closet." Yes! Ideally I would like to keep all toys down here.  Yeah right. That will happen. 

Outside, a cement patio is under the deck .  We will put some kind of water barrier under the decking because you KNOW I will be on the hunt for some vintage rattan furniture! Oh yeah! 

The second bath is plain and simple.  An easy fix really. New vanity out of vintage chest...and ....well that is about as much thought as I have put into this room. 
Here is the boys room. Big Windows. They will totally be sneaking out of those in 10 years. 
It's a great size room.  Ernesto is going to build bunk beds in the corner to free up floor space. The boys are pretty excited about it. 

Technically this is the fourth bedroom.  It does have the closet and window, but it is small. 
We are still debating what to do with it.  One thing I know is that it is the only room that I can afford to wallpaper. So get ready for some pattern in here! 

Well folks. There you have it.  Welcome to our new abode. Get ready for some changes to happen.  All of which will be documented here on VivaCindy. Yes.. more house posts and a continuing of cute kids pictures and ramblings here on the 'ol bloggy blog. Stay tuned! 

We are not even CLOSE to being settled in, but mi casa es su casa! Come visit us!!

Monday, September 05, 2016


Sooooooo. FINALLY! Isla Mujeres!
We have been back in the ATL for over a month now, but Isla is still fresh in my mind! What a trip!!
This is a LOOOOOOOOOONG post with picture overload (I should have made a video) so grab a cup of coffee and relax...this could take a while.
If you are following me on Insta, then you saw some sneak peaks of our adventure. But on the bloggy blog, the last thing I posted was all about Cancun and us boarding the ferry to Isla.
15 minutes later we stepped onto "the island of woman."
Isla Mujeres is 8 miles off the coast of Cancun with ferry boats running every hour. ($12)
We caught a 2pm ferry and came out on the main drag. My first thought - passing all of the shops and tourists whizzing by - was Oh no. A mini Cancun. No Wait! Actually this was my first thought....
HOT HUSBAND Michelada! Have you guys had one of these drinks? Oh my! So refreshing and so very Mexicano! I'm not sure EXACTLY what they put in it, (beer, Clamato juice, lime, hot sauce and maybe some Worcestershire??) but it is muy muy rico!! This stand is right outside the ferry dock...and they serve 'em BIG!
Ernesto is always the navigator on our trips, so I just followed him down the strip along the beach.
The road was very clogged with taxis, motorcycles and tourists on golf carts.
Besides that, the little cheesy tourist shops were one after the other. But as soon as you turn into the little streets it was the cute little Mexican town I was promised [by my friends Manuel and Lucia].
Talk about curb appeal. Isn't that river rock walk awesome?! The wood door and snake plants in the weathered pots? Yes!
And this one. Pink and Aqua! And how about this good 'ol combo of turquoise and white?! LOVE!
I could have a whole post of Mexican doors I love!
Cool doors and cool walls.
I don't think the mosaic wall was finished, but it is still cool. And check out this awesome mural!
Everything is so bold and colorful in Mexico-I just love it!
Since we were arriving on Isla, but didn't find an apartment ahead of time, Ernesto took the liberty of booking a hotel for a few nights online so we had a place to go right away. Smart man.
Chi-Chi's & Charlie's is located right on Playa Norte beach near the Centro of town. (North end of island)
It was a small hotel with 3 levels and all rooms facing out to the ocean. Although the above picture might lead one to believe it was on the modern side. It was not.
Seriously. This is the check-in desk guys.
Ha! So Mexico.
Yes the location was awesome, but I could not get over the the RUSTIC room. When I overheard Ernesto say he was pre-paying for a week, I had to step in.
"We can't stay in this room for 7 NIGHTS mi amor!!! Let's just do three and see what happens." We saw apartments for similar prices. Not right on the beach, but with a kitchen! A bedroom!
Mateo loved it though and he didn't even notice the difference from the Westin to Chi Chi's. Oh to be a kid again. What he did notice, and what eventually became "the silver lining," was this out our front door.
The water was gorgeous and as you can see, a popular hangout for many yachts.
Mateo also noticed there was an outdoor shower. (Which they used daily.) Fun stuff!
Don't get me wrong. I have stayed in this [type of] room 5 million times over the last 20 years. (Right mi amor? Joanne? Kate? Maureen? Lauren?) Bare bones. Beds, shower, toilet. Sand and beach right outside the door and a little casual open-air restaurant outside. I LOOOOOVE places like this.
The only difference between this and the others I have stayed in over the years? I have NEVER paid $100/per noche!!! What?? Oh! And also I never had 3 small kids in tow.
And I'll be damned...traveling with kids is "somthin' different."
It was a cool place, but it was smaaaaaaall for 5 people. Luckily the kids could step out to the front "yard" and play in the sand.
The kids made friends next door and ran around outside, but there was little to no hanging out in the room.
They were bouncing off the walls by 7 am and we had to get outside. We tried to stay out of the hotel until almost dark, when we knew they would immediately pass out. It worked every time.
This tactic also ensured we were out to see the beautiful sunsets...another benefit of sleeping feet from the ocean. The kids played until it was dark and we trekked "home" in one minute flat.
On the weekends, a local guy sets up a trampoline and a bunch of little bikes, cars and push toys for the kids in the Zocalo (town square). And [for a small fee] the boys were ALL over it.
Anything motorized fascinates them. They did a great job driving, but when it turned into bumper cars, which was a no-no, we had to call it quits.
They lasted about 10 minutes on the trampoline, but every minute counts. (Note to self: must get a trampoline!)
As you might expect, the food was delicious in Mexico! We ate some sort of seafood everyday. Some meals we enjoyed casual street food..... Bacon wrapped hot dog anyone?
The street corn (with mayo, lime, cheese and chile powder) has always been my favorite. I went out a couple nights to search this cart out.
Turns out there is more than one. Ha! Must . Eat. Corn.
Other times we sat down somewhere.
La Lomita. Ernesto actually found good online reviews for La Lomita, the first restaurant we visited.
The portions were HUGE, but really the best thing about this place was the decor and the cold beer served in FREEZING terra cotta cups.
I love the hand painted walls....and this little tanned mexicano....
We tried a lot of cute colorful places. (And we squeezed our big a$$ stroller everywhere!)
Baby girl ate whenever and wherever she pleased.
BEACH, BEER & BREASTFEEDING!! Multi-tasking is the name of the game when you are a mother.
Also isn't that visor the best?! Even big enough to shade my baby girl. The last one I had (also bought in Mexico) lasted several years! I wore it all Summer and people always ask where I bought it. $5 in Mexico. This one was $7 and still a darn good deal for such a sturdy handmade hat.
I wore it all day every day. Also. The braids. Essential when mixing long thin hair with salty ocean water and humidity. Dreadlocks can sneak up on you quick!
For 70 pesos (less than $7) this dear lady sprayed some potion on my hair to detangle it and braided two frenchies TIGHTLY. Like tight enough to make me wince. But those babies stayed in tight for 5 days! Talk about low maintenance!
On our first morning at Chi-Chi's we found a cute little restaurant called Rubens.
We devoured a traditional huevos rancheros breakfast outside in a little shady courtyard. The boys were playing with their muchachos (Imaginext figures) being their loud crazy selves...and this is when we got lucky.
There was a nice couple sitting at the table next to us. At one point I shook my head at her as to say 'please forgive my crazy kids.' They gave us a knowing glance and said "no the preocupes, tenemos cuatro hijos."(translation: don't worry, we have four kids)
That comment got the ball rolling and after chatting a bit we found out they own several properties around the island. THAT is serendipity! (we found out their kids are adults now! Ha) After our breakfast she offered to show us a two bedroom apartment.
We immediately loved it! It did not have a pool, which was one of our "must haves," but it did have the most character of any of the apartments we saw online. Soooooooo Mexican. Plus it was right in the middle of the action and just a short stroll to the beach. We LOVED it!
We also loved the owner too. Plain and simple. Pia was the friendliest, most genuine person. We were mistaken as family a couple different times. I think we have the same spirit, but we also look like we could be related right?
And her "story" is the best. She is Swiss and came to Isla Mujeres when she was 22 on vacation with a girlfriend....met her husband and never left. She raised 4 kids on the island and adapted to island life. Which included riding a scooter with all four kids (while breastfeeding one of them! Ha!). Coolest. Lady. Ever.
She took us around the island for several hours in her little van and was the BEST tour guide. We probably would've never seen this secluded beach complete with secret caves in Sac Bajo.
We still had a couple nights (pre-paid) at Chi-Chi's, so we told her we would get in touch with her in a few days. Despite not having a pool we just WANTED to rent from her because she was such a wonderful person!
BUT after staying in that little hotel room with our crazy energetic boys for 3 nights, we were actually ready to pack up and leave. We decided we would just stay another couple nights at the Westin in Cancun and fly home. Yes, we were giving up! It was tough!! Keeping the boys occupied and under control, making sure baby girl got to sleep even a little during the day, while going out to eat every meal WORE. US. DOWN.
The boys had been begging us for Lucha Libre masks that we passed in all the shops everyday. We promised they couple pick a couple out before we left, but in the end they picked these Superman/Spiderman capes.
HOW they wore those in that HEAT is beyond me. Their LOVE of superheroes is that strong. We packed up everything up and started walking to the dock for the 130pm ferry.
We were almost there when I got a text from Pia saying that her two bedroom was still available for the week. Ernesto and I looked at eachother and said. What the heck!? Let's go!! We made a left off the main drag.....
And looked for the huge tree at the entrance of Sol Dorado.
30 minutes later we were all breathing easier in our new SPACIOUS apartment.
We walked to the grocery store and stocked up for the week. We made a delicious dinner that evening and took a short stroll for gelato afterwards. Yes yes yes! This is what my plan was all along. LIVING in Mexico not visiting! (Just like Airbnb says in the commercial)
We really did LIVE in Mexico. Just like at home, our mornings were full of cartoons and a drawn out breakfasts. The big difference though - all cartoons in Spanish and not once did they say they wanted English. They just knew Mexico = Spanish.
I mean these guys were so comfortable here that one morning I walked into the bathroom and saw this!!!
WHAT? I had to call Ernesto in and take a picture! Ha! He actually has never done this at home, but I guess like father like son?!?!!
Baby girl crawled all around the CLEAN Saltillo tiles and slept like a baby!
I kept doing a happy dance and Ernesto said "I am so glad we didn't leave." It was just perfect and relaxed.
The apartment was right around the corner from Avenida Hidalgo, the main pedestrian street in the Centro where you will find boutique hotels, restaurants and tons of shops filled with Mexican art, textiles, pottery, blankets, etc,
I am a sucker for these embroidered works of art by Otomi Indians. I probably didn't get "the best deal" on these (because I was in a touristy area) but I still felt like it was well worth the money, considering the amount of time spent to complete one piece (all by hand of course!).
You may have seen this picture on Instagram too...
It is from an awesome place called Zama. We played here a couple different days during the week. Lounging, swimming and eating. Since our apartment didn't have a pool, we came here to switch it up from the beach. Zama is an open-air beach club/restaurant/lounge with 3 big swimming pools right on the ocean (obviously)
We camped out all day on the comfortable lounge chairs and dipped in the shallow pools...
And jumped in the deep pool...
Nothing wears kids out more than sun & swim, right parents??
It was HOT HOT HOT too so you wanted to be in the water pretty much the whole time. If you weren't, you were sweating like a dog. Paloma fell asleep while nursing and she was drenched. Look at her hair.
That is sweat! And Marcelo was sweating this much while sleeping. Not moving a muscle!
At one point all three kids were sleeping and Ernesto and I thought we had died and gone to heaven.
Our whole trip to Mexico was "planned" with the idea that the boys would be doing a Summer camp or something similar to practice their Spanish. Well, with nothing planned ahead of time, we left in to serendipity (again!) and what do you know...something presented itself!
We were introduced to a woman who does a Summer art camp for a few hours each afternoon. Perfect! There were about 10 kids and of course it was all in Spanish.
We dropped them off one day and we took Paloma to Play Tiburon.
We were expecting great seafood. Can you guess what we ordered? Yep! Ceviche AGAIN! ...and it was RICOOOOOOOO!!! Boat loads of tourists are brought to Isla from Cancun to spend the day, and Playa Tiburon is one of the stops. The place was crowded, but that didn't bother us. With our table/toes right in the sand and chasing the ceviche with a cold beer, we thought it was perfect!
Alone time with this little Bebe is never a bad thing!
While over on the Sac Bajo side of the island we visited the GranjaTortuguero (turtle farm) and the boys were quite interested.

They saw kids holding turtles and wanted to do the same. They were a little hesitant when I handed the turtles over.

Their faces crack me up. They were a little jumpy at the slightest movement of the turtles while holding them. About two seconds after this picture, Mateo drop his turtle. Pobrecito! Well, that is one reason they have that hard shell right? He seemed fine as he scurried turtles do.

Our last day on the island we spent lounging here.....

Oceanvs was awesome. Right on the beach with waiters attending to you all day. Ceviche please!!!!

We figured that since we were leaving Isla Mujeres and HAD to pass the Westin hotel to get to the airport, we might as well stay another couple nights. It was such a great spot.

This visit our room faced the lagoon side instead of the ocean, but it was still a gorgeous view!

We walked down the beach to a rocky area and the boys filled up a cup with snails and crabs that were hanging out on the rocks.
That was fun, but I recommended setting them free a couple hours later. The boys were adamant about letting them stay overnight in our hotel and we would let them go before leaving in the morning. Well, notice the before and after pictures.....
ESCAPED. They were ALL OVER the balcony. The boys couldn't believe it.
We left them for the maid. So bad I know.

That made me laugh writing that. Good memories! Oh Mexico! Until we meet again!

(Next year-for a more "well-planned" trip! Yeah right!! )



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