In celebration of Grandpapa Steve's 70th birthday he treated the kids/grandkids to a week in a Puerto Vallarta villa. 

The outrageous cost of airfare around President's Day prompted us to extend the vacation. Leaving on Wednesday was so much cheaper than leaving on Saturday that adding three days to the trip ended up being the same cost. Therefore, we began our holiday with three nights at the Hyatt Ziva, an all inclusive resort. The location, pools and beach were wonderful. We loved the way the space was laid out and enjoyed the secluded nature of the beach. There were some terrible meals as well as some lovely ones. The kids ordered Shirley Temples on demand and hit the buffet for Mac and cheese on the reg. We didn't participate in most of the resort organized activities but I encouraged Ty to join a football competition when they offered up a spa gift card to the winner. He was victorious and I very much enjoyed a quiet morning using the prize. Hazel did a sunset painting class on the beach in this same white dress, which was an incredibly sweet sight.

We've stayed in hotels locally but our tropical vacations thus far have always been to houses or condos, so I was excited to see what we thought of being at a resort with the kids. It was a perfect add on to a week at the villa but we concluded we wouldn't travel to Mexico solely for that. 

From the Hyatt, we made the two mile journey down the road to Casa Milagro for a dreamy seven days with Grammy, Grandpapa, Chris, Kari and the girls. The villa came with a staff of four; Pepe, Vincent, Tony and Marta. They were incredibly kind and went above and beyond to make sure we were well cared for. Vincent made our meals and Pepe served them with freshly mixed drinks. Tony raked the sand for us, put out chairs and umbrellas, and brought a cooler of drinks to the beach around noon. Marta keep the inside sparkling clean. There were seven bedrooms and each couple had a beautiful balcony view. What made the villa work so well was the way it was laid out. The beach, pool patio and house were all so close together that everyone could be doing their own thing. When kids needed a break inside nobody had to sit with them and we could all come and go from the beach as we pleased. 

Between the six kids (as well as Chris and Kari) there were a fair share of ailments including, but not limited to fevers, vomiting, burns, ear infections, rashes, dog scratches, jellyfish stings, sunburns, scrapes, and sand flea bites. 

Highlights were family time, touring downtown PV, playing card games, playlists on the beach, boogie boarding, beach walks, ice cream at the beach bar, selfies with anyone who fell asleep and free flowing pitchers of Pina coladas and margaritas. 

Also, nature. 

We saw whales breeching, Venus, Jupiter, multiple phases of the moon, string-rays, a manta-ray, iguanas and pelicans. The sunrises and sunsets were magnificent and I gained a new appreciation for twilight. 

Being in a foreign country where they didn't know the language was an impactful experience for the kids. Now that we have current passports and a renewed appreciation for how valuable it is to be outside your home country, I'm hoping this is just the beginning of their international travels. 

I am incredibly grateful for the bond the cousins share and family that loves spending time together. Thank you, Grandpapa, for a week filled with core memories that we'll cherish for a lifetime.