Muncie Local: Water Bowl

Here’s another attempt to explore Muncie and see what it has to offer. For the past few days I’ve been craving for Vitamin Sea and I’m almost positive there isn’t a legit beach close by so I started googling swimming holes, public pools or lakes within the area and after a good while I finally came across Water Bowl. I’m surprised it’s not one of the first few things that came out in Google search considering that this place has been here for awhile (since 1970). Let’s just say I found a local commercial for this place on youtube from 1988…that’s just 2 years after I was born and on there they say…

“Come Join us here in Water Bowl, the hottest place in Muncie”

And it did seem very enticing, possibly “the place to be” in the late 80s to early 90s but I guess the hype eventually died down maybe due to people getting tired of it, or bad marketing strategy or there wasn’t enough publicity, maybe there was a change of management or it lacked maintenance…one can only speculate but it’s still there, its open, they still have events once in awhile and its been running all these years so in a way they must be doing something right. I was just a bit surprised that there were only a few people there considering that it was still summer.

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Online they have a good rating of 4+ stars and to be honest, the place was actually pretty good. Come to think of it I was pleased that it wasn’t packed, I’ve noticed that I’ve developed a disliking for super crowded places, I don’t know of its my age showing. Haha.

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There were lounging areas surrounding the swim area and they didn’t charge for those so you could occupy as much chairs and tables as you wanted, I guess they’re banking on people being considerate of one another. Admission was reasonable too, here are the current rates from their FB page.

Admission Prices for Fishing and Swimming
$5.50 per Adult
$2.00 per Child (13 and under)
Children under 3 are FREE

Camping Prices
$10.00 per Adult
$5.00 per child (13 and under)
3 and under are FREE

Season Pass Pricing
Single Pass $150.00
Family 4 Pass $250.00

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Pregnant mama concealing her bump. 😀

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The main area and the snack shack.

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The sand there was pretty okay but it could still be a lot better if they imposed rules like “no pets”, “no eating” and “no smoking” close to the swimming area (or maybe they had them but weren’t strict enough to reinforce them). I noticed 2 cigarette butts close to where we were hanging out (i’m sure you’ll see at least one if you stare at this photo) and a woman got away with not throwing her burger wrapper which eventually flew into the water and I had to pick it up. The swing area had one dog poop probably because they allowed pets within the vicinity.

I’d be more confident to have my baby play on the sand and build sand castles if they paid more attention to cleanliness. In my opinion, the water was pretty clean though.

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Me with my mini-me

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The pirate ship was a pretty cool attraction for kids but it wasn’t running when we were there. The slides are supposedly water slides, I could tell based on the holes on top of the slides. She still had fun playing on the ship though.

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Oh yeah, they have fishes swimming by the shore and these are the small ones so if you wiggle your toes they come closer thinking its bait or worm. I think if you go further down you can even fish. I saw a boy with his fishing pole and he caught a fish twice the size of my hand.

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To those interested to visit Water Bowl, here’s the

Address to Google: 6811 North Old State Road 3 Muncie, Indiana

Those who use Waze, I suggest you use Google Maps for this place because Waze hasn’t updated their map and I got lost twice, It kept making me miss a turn and I had to drive 15 minutes more when it recalculated.

But to sum it all up, it was a fairly good experience, a perfectly relaxing day for me, Marie and Cassie. If the weather is right and you should happen to be in the area, make sure to drop by.

~Rhea

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Muncie Local: Moore-Youse House Museum

The first time people found out that we were eventually moving to Muncie, Indiana for Marco’s new job, they were all like “Where is that? or “What’s there?”. A handful of people have heard of the place but for the majority they probably think its in the middle of nowhere (although our common go-to phrase has been “its 50 minutes away from Indianapolis” and its worked out just fine). Contrary to popular belief, Muncie isn’t as small as you think and I have heard of 2 famous people from this side of town (Woaaahhh) so I think that should count as something right? There’s David Letterman, the late night talk show host and Jim Davis, the creator of Garfield and if you still haven’t heard of any of the two that I mentioned then….I guess you google them. haha.

Usually when we travel, Marco and I take it as a challenge to find out what’s good about the place. He usually searches for good food places and hole-in-the-walls while I try to see the “Things to do” in the area which usually involves museums, art galleries, vineyards, parks, zoos, places that are more or less baby friendly since we’ve had Cassie. It’s no surprise that I’m treating Muncie similar to a place of travel, I guess you could say I’m trying to get to know the place, right?

So for our first stop, the Moore-Youse Home Museum.

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From my understanding, this home is said to be the oldest standing house in Downtown Muncie. It was built around the 1860s and was family owned for years until it was donated to the Delaware County Historical Society in 1982. The hours open vary depending on which website you happen to stumble upon so I suggest that you call 765-282-1150 to confirm. They also carry different information concerning the admission prices, some will say $2/ person (which isn’t much, really) while other websites will say its free of charge and donations are appreciated. Personally, during our visit they didn’t charge us anything for admission but we made sure to provide a generous donation.

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The room to the right, as soon as you enter, contained pieces of artwork and posters from a local artist named Eugene Mumaw. I understand that this was a temporary exhibit and I’d have to say that I enjoyed it immensely as he was the man behind the local theater’s historic posters for 30 years.

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Upstairs, two rooms were restored and allowed for viewing and I was pretty excited to see how they set up the place. The thing I love with house museums is the idea of getting a chance to peer into how these people lived their lives in the past, of course a good imagination is somewhat required but the environment or room, rather contributes a lot. They showcased the master bedroom and the children’s bedroom.

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I found the children’s bedroom very intriguing and rather creepy (although I am a big fan of “creepy”) because it had a good amount of eerily placed dolls all over the room as you can see for yourself. I’m pretty sure my brother Paulo would have freaked out, he’s such a big baby when it comes to dolls and clowns.

After taking time to check out the little vintage bits and baubles they had in the second floor, we headed back to the first floor to check the last room that we haven’t been into.

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An assortment of historical displays from US naval uniforms to intricate hand sewn/ embroidered dresses and accessories.

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As for the museum being kid-friendly, let’s just say my one and a half year old survived the place, older kids would do fine too as long as they don’t do anything crazy like jumping on the vintage beds and breaking the antique items they have on display as these items are very accessible. For tweens and teens, there is a chance for them to find this place very interesting, and its not really an extensive look-back into history so I doubt they would even find the time find it boring.

If you happen to be in town, I suggest you come by and visit this house museum. Here’s the address to type in your GPS:

122 E Washington St, Muncie, IN 47305

Enjoy!

~Rhea

Houston Local: BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir

It always amuses me when people say “I’m bored”; I feel like theres so many things to do in this life that even our time on this earth would not be enough. It might be just a matter of perspective and I’m trying to raise Cassie to see things the way Marco and I see it. As much as my little family and I would like to travel and go on a lot of adventures I truly believe that not all adventures entail money (well, maybe gas money), that’s when being resourceful kicks in.

Unconsciously, I’ve been on a mission to prove my point, locally this community has a lot of things to offer and its a matter of learning how to take advantage of it. We’ve visited the Houston zoo for free but you’d have to know that they do that mostly on the first Tuesday of each month, Thursdays are usually free admission days for museums especially the Children’s museum where I’d like to take Cassie soon and then there’s one and a million parks here in Houston and the near outskirts that are waiting to be explored.

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir was a gem that we discovered 17 minutes away from home. It’s a local Hindu temple that opens their doors to visitors even those of different religion and their architectural construct does not fall short from what India is known for. I could go on and on about our visit to the temple but I’ll let the pictures speak for itself.

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The first photo we took as soon as we entered the premises, I had to tell him to stop acting all goofy since we were in a temple and all

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I though that the temple would be a good place to take pictures of Cassie but she fell asleep right before entering the gates

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Today’s #OOTD

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The fountains opposite side from where we entered

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Steps going up to the Mandir (temple), no photographs and no shoes allowed beyond this point

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Had to check out the intricate details up close, that college class I took on India really taught me to appreciate not only their architecture but everything else that’s embedded in their culture

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Coming out of the mandir. The walls, the ceilings, the floor and everything else was breathtaking, if only we cold’ve taken pictures inside.

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It does make a beautiful background thus acquiring that unofficial nickname of “Houston’s mini Taj Mahal”

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…he just had to pose that way. Ugh

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The temple vicinity is very friendly to visitors, they have signs and guides all over the place

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Family photo by the structure across the mandir, thanks to a friendly temple-goer who randomly offered to take our picture

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Color pop against the plain white details. Can’t get enough of these carvings.

I was a bit disappointed that Cassie slept the entire time because I wanted her to explore the grounds and run around to check out the fountains but on the other hand I’m glad she slept so Marco and I could appreciate the place without any crazy distractions, haha. We can always bring Cassie  back here next time. If you’re a Houston local, this place is a must-see but before you come visit please check their website and familiarize with their rules as this is a sacred place to them and a place of worship. Before you leave the area, please visit their gift shop, make a donation or try their daily vegetarian lunch buffet (we have yet to do that). Oh yeah, I hear that they light up the temple at night and it looks magical, you should definitely drive by to check it out.

Well, there you go…that’s another thing to do here in Houston. I don’t think this place will ever bore me. Enjoy!

~Rhea

Destination: Little Rock, Arkansas

The search for a possible residency program for Marco continues and I honestly shouldn’t call it search since we don’t really have the final say where he ends up in but he ended up getting an interview in Little Rock, Arkansas and since it’s a city and state that I’ve never been to and the drive from Houston wasn’t too long of a drive, Cassie and I tagged along.

When I was single and younger, I made a bucket list to visit all 50 states before I turned 30 and needless to say I failed doing that. I’m not saying that I’ve given up on that list, I guess my priorities just changed throughout the years and it wasn’t like I wasn’t in a long distance relationship for 7 years ( up to this day, I still don’t know how Marco and I did that) so our savings went to our wedding sinking fund, travel costs and what not so I’ve only managed to go to a bunch of them (not even half).

Ever since Cassie was born, we’ve been blessed to have traveled to a few more places for family visits, reunions and Marco’s interviews and so far she’s been to 7 states (including this) and 1 international destination. Not bad for a year old who won’t even remember half the places we’ve been to (but I guess thats why mommy takes a billion and one photos all the time, right). The only wonderful thing about not having ticked of that particular thing on my bucket list is that I have the rest of my lifetime to do that but I won’t be alone this time, I’ll have my little family with me and we’ll have our own adventures together.

To whoever is reading this, this isn’t a “travel blog”. Yes, it may just give you ideas on where to go, food places to go to, things to try out but it won’t consistently give you a breakdown or a rough estimate of how much to spend or a detailed review of a hotel or B&B ( well, it might, maybe when I’m ranting or raving about things) but so much of my posts are personal thoughts that I’ve allowed people to have access to. This is somewhat a personal online journal of mine, I’m sure I’ve said this before but I’ll say it again, my entries are mostly there to keep track of memories. For a person who wanted to be on stage and memorize lines for a living, I suck in remembering details, dates and people. I’ve explained this to my husband before, I only remember things when they strike some kind of emotion within me, I remember little details based on what I felt at that particular situation and that’s how its always been. Okay….enough ranting, without further ado here are photos from our recent travel to Little Rock.

Old State House

Address to Google: 300 W Markham St, Little Rock, AR 72201

Anyone who’s read a few of my past entries know that I have a thing for historical landmarks and buildings so you would understand how delighted I was that we found this in the heart of the city. The weather seems perfect in the photos but it was actually quite chilly when we went to visit. That one I didn’t quite anticipate so its a good thing I wore leggings under my skirt or else I would’ve been sporting Marilyn Monroe the entire time.

This building with Greek Revival Architecture contains a hodge podge of Arkansas history.

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Cassie and Daddy being silly at the museum

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Reading up on some Arkansas history on the spot

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Old school Clinton Memorabilia

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We’re not big on politics so it was intriguing for us to have found out that the Clintons were originally from there. Of course they had an entire section dedicated to their rise to power and the role they played starting with local politics.

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We found out that they had a play place for kids after we toured the museum so Cassie got to spend a few minutes playing before closing time.

Star of India Restaurant

Address to Google: 301 N Shackleford Rd, Little Rock, AR 72211

As cheesy as their name sounds and as plain and boring as the outside of their restaurant looks, I swear to you they are, if not the best, one of the best Indian restaurants we’ve been to. I’m no foodie but I’d like to think my husband is because he does love to eat all sorts of food and Indian cuisine is one of his favorites and he was extremely impressed. The ambiance was pretty legit and as we were dining you could see a lot of customers were coming in and we were actually lucky to have walked in early because by the time we ended our meal the place was packed. What I’ve noticed is that these customers were regulars, locals who just kept coming back and you could tell because the owner or the host rather addressed almost every single one of them by their first names and he somewhat knew their life story.

I was impressed with their customer service and did I mention that the first thing they did when they saw us walk in with a baby was put us in an area convenient for us and Cassie, they placed a large manila paper under her high chair discreetly saying “babies are babies, let them make a mess—we are ready”, unlike those snooty restaurants who claim they’re open to families but they give you a disgruntled look when your baby starts making a mess while eating. Oh and before I forget, they’re only one $ sign…super duper affordable, besides with the kind of food that they served us and their impeccable customer service I was willing to pay more. We will definitely be back if we happen to be in town.

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Choctaw Route Station

Address to Google: 1010 E. Third St.reet Little Rock, AR 72201

Upon picking up Marco after his interview, this little brick red building caught my eye. I wish we had more time to explore it but since I was so intrigued and we couldn’t go in to check it out I had to look into it.

This old building used to be a railroad passenger depot of a train route that no longer exists. They restored the building and converted it to a library under the Clinton School of Public Service.

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Leo’s Greek Castle

Address to Google: 2925 Kavanaugh Blvd, Little Rock, AR 72205

Now this is what I’d call a hole in the wall, the place seemed shady or maybe it seemed that way since it was night time and we weren’t familiar with the territory. The building structure was old, others might even consider it run down but inside it was quaint and clean, food was cheap and the gyros were to die for. Yep, the ratings don’t lie…so far every food hub we’ve tried here in Little Rock was a success.

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The Old Mill

Address to Google: 3800 Lakeshore Dr, North Little Rock, AR 72116

If you like classic movies then you shouldn’t have a hard time recognizing this place in the opening credits of Gone with the Wind. This picturesque mill really looks like it popped out of a fairy tale story book. I would have loved to explore the vast area surrounding the mill but we were on a tight schedule, I still can’t believe theres no admission cost to this landmark, it stands plainly in the middle of T.R Pugh Memorial Park. You won’t miss it.

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Our little bunny dozed off, she missed the whole thing.

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Big Dam Bridge

Address to Google: 7600 Rebsamen Park Rd, Little Rock, AR 72207

The first time I heard about this bridge I thought the name was a pun, I don’t know but I find it hilarious that they named it the BIG DAM BRIDGE. I’d have to say though the bridge was entirely true to its name. This bridge is said to be the longest bicycle and pedestrian in the entire US and no, we didn’t try to cross the bridge, we just took pictures. Haha.

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Junction Bridge at Little Rock River Market District

Address to Google: 200 Ottenheimer Plaza Little Rock, AR 72201

It’s not just another pedestrian bridge, this old railroad bridge is said to be 150 years old and it’s another convenient stop for tourists to take pictures since its located in between the River Market District and North Little Rock (must see areas in Little Rock from my understanding). Let’s not forget that there are also unique art installations/ pieces that are hard to miss.

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David’s Burgers

Address to Google: 200 Ottenheimer Plaza Little Rock, AR 72201

Who doesn’t love traditional American burgers? We went to the one within the River Market District coz it was the closest one at that time and we knew we had to try it out before heading home to Houston because consumer ratings varied from 4 stars to 4.5 online and true enough it didn’t disappoint, best part is the menu is $10 and under.

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And that wraps up our Little Rock trip. 😀

~Rhea

Destination: Big Bear Lake, California

January 2-4, 2017

Seeing snow while spending the holidays in California was like the cherry on top, the Mendezonas planned a skiing/snowboarding trip to Big Bear but I was more excited that Cassie was going to have her first snow experience. I was already assuming that she would fall in love with snow so quickly given the fact that she has a current obsession with things cold (ice, A/C, freezer, ref…and the list goes on) also explaining one of her all-time favorite expressions “told told” (cold cold).

There were 14 Mendezonas and half of us haven’t encountered snow long enough or don’t live in snow. Period. It’s a good thing the L.A-Mendezonas had enough snow gear for the rest of the Mendezona boys while Mami made sure the ones who didn’t have snow gear had one especially the babies. We even visited the snow gear outlet store a few days before the road trip. Wow, I didn’t think staying warm and comfortable at the same time would be a lot of serious work . I guess its different when you take solo skiing trips, I remembered my first trip to Colorado a few years back and packing wasn’t this crazy but when you prepare for a family of 14—it is a PRODUCTION. Imagine all the snow boots, all the thick jackets, all the thermals, all the mittens, all the gloves, all the snow goggles not even counting the snowboards and the ski equipment, yes, it was definitely a production.

Day 1

Our drive there has got to be one of the least boring drives I’ve taken in my life, not because Cassie was screaming until almost half way through the drive but because the scenery was absolutely breathtaking. For some reason snow makes things look so magical.

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3 cars and 2 hours later the Mendezonas made it to their Air bnb cabin in Big Bear and the boys were in charge of most of the hard labor of carrying the luggages up the stairs. (photo below for reference, hahaha).

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The kitchen and dining area. Excuse our luggage.

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The living room by the fireplace

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Bedroom on the 1st floor

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Upstairs bathroom had one of Cassie’s favorite animals—Owl.

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The loft upstairs aka the boys area

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The second floor’s very own cozy nook

Once we kinda got settled in and we semi-explored the house, we headed out for late lunch at this local place that was called Mountain Munchies. It might have presented itself like a hole-in-the wall but service was excellent in the form of our server being really patient with us.

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What I got, chicken Fried Steak. It was meh.

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Our view from outside the diner.

After late lunch, we headed out to a play area where the kids could play with snow but Cassie was fast asleep so I decided not to wake her up so we decided to stay inside the car to keep warm. The remainder of the day was spent on cooking, running errands, settling down and family bonding time over random movies by the fire place. Oh,  and marshmallows by the fire place.

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This one is out cold and missed playing with snow.

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What dinner preparations looked like

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These two cousins bonding over giant marshmallows

Day 2

Of course we tried to follow our planned schedule to leave by 9am for our snow activities and of course we failed miserably. Did I mention there were 14 of us and 2 bathrooms? One thing I’ve learned from situations like these is the “Early bird gets to bathe in hot water”, I’m telling you icy baths are no fun especially when they’re least expected.

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Good Morning!

Our view outside the cabin.

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The girls and one little pikachu photo bomber, my godson Teo. Haha

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She just wanted me to put her down so she could play with snow

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“let go of my hand mommy”

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Chilling (literally) by the side snow with these cuties while waiting for everyone to head down

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Photo op before heading out to the slopes

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Two hours and thirty minutes after our planned time we made it there.

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We parked our snowboards. What a stash, haha.

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And even then we still took long in buying our lift tickets and renting out snowboard boots and what not

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This one wasted no time and started exploring

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Ordering lunch to this view

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Cassie wanted to see the view for herself

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The scenery from up the slopes

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Cassie: It’s about time daddy

Marco, finally came down after a few rounds of snowboarding and he decided to play with the kids in the snow

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Me and Pilica with the babies

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Mami and Mikel had to make a miniature snowman to stop Teo from crying, he loved it but wouldn’t take a picture with it. (Yes, that’s beans and mac and cheese. )

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Although someone gladly posed next to the itty bitty snowman. Haha, Hi Dieg.

A short recap of today’s events, most went snowboarding, some went skiing, one got sprained and mami and I stayed with the kids. The highlight of my day was seeing Cassie go crazy over snow, she loved it so much that she’d get mad at me for taking her back to our waiting area. In fact she loved it so much she was willing to go with anyone who could take her back to the play area even if it wasn’t mommy.

Day 3

Everyone else had the rest of the morning to do more snow activities but Marco, Javi, Mami, Pilica, Anya, Cassie and I had to go down first since Marco had to fly to Houston earlier a day before me and Cassie for an interview.

~Rhea