During our first year in Belize (last year), we wanted to establish Belizean Residency (you can think of this as a green card…we will still be citizens of the U.S. but, as residents, we no long need to deal with student or work visas). In order to apply for residency, you cannot travel outside of Belize more than 2 weeks during the year before you apply. This restriction did not feel terrible during our first year because we were busy working at the resort and the kids were busy with school. But come holiday time last year, our first Christmas in Belize, I think we all felt homesick.
This year, after successfully submitting our application for Residency, the travel restrictions were lessened and we were able to travel to the States for Christmas. First, the kids and I flew to Minnesota to visit my family, then we flew to Florida to meet up with Ryan and his family. So we got to see both grandparents. Ryan did not join us in Minnesota because although the kids REALLY wanted to see snow, Ryan REALLY did not. Unfortunately, a Minnesota December does not always provide snow. There was some snow cover, but our sledding attempt was on crunchy snow due to rain.
It’s funny to visit your hometown as a tourist. The kids have only been to MN a handful of times and not ventured much outside of Nana’s house, because they were always pretty young. For this visit they are 8 and 11. Time to hit the Mall of America. I showed the kids a couple of videos of the MOA, highlighting the amusement park and stores before we left Belize, and it got us all excited.
Day 1 in MN was amazing. We headed to the Mall around 10am with my mom. Rex was the perfect age for all the roller coasters. He kept doing that thing where you finish riding a roller coaster and then RUN SO FAST to do it again. The kids had unlimited ride wrist bands, so Rex was a roller coaster mad man. Fay only like one or two of the rides — she didn’t want to get too scared so she hung back a bit while Rex ran around. We also visited the LEGO store and I visited the Apple store to see if I could get my phone battery fixed. I probably don’t have to point out that there are no Apple stores in Belize, so I was determined to fix my iPhone while visiting the States.
We had a lunch date with my sister and my niece, Natalie. I had a poke bowl, yum. There is not a lot of opportunity for sushi or poke bowls in Belize. After lunch, we did some more shopping, and a few more rides and finally headed home to my mom’s.
Day 2, we spent the morning with my Dad. My dad is a lover of books like Fay, so we decided to go to breakfast and then to a comic/book/game store. It’s the kind of store that has Dungeon & Dragon game nights and just about every card, board or dice game you’ve ever heard of. Its called Source Comic and Games. Dad bought the kids books for their Christmas present. Fay and Rex also gave their presents to my Dad. Rex made magnets with his face on them. Fay made book marks with pictures of her, Rex, Ruger and Smith. Dad love them all.
Day 3 we got in our car and drove to Buck Hill for some snow tubing. The kids have not seen snow in 2 years and Fay was so excited. Which is why it was SUCH a crippling disappointment when we learned snow tubing was closed due to last night’s rain. We were told this when we arrived at Buck Hill. The look on Fay’s face was complete and total devastation. She didn’t know how to deal with the disappointment after anticipating this day for 6 months. She would not even been consoled by a donut and hot chocolate. (Rex accepted this consolation though!)
We decided to find a place to go sledding. Why not try Theodore Wirth Park, where I used to sled as a kid? We bought some sleds at Target and drove to the Theodore Wirth. By the time we arrived. we were desperate to salvage the morning. ANY semblance of sliding down snow would work. We were told there was a small area groomed for cross country skiers, not meant for sledding, but if we stayed to the side, it would be ok.
The sledding was pretty bad, you couldn’t catch much speed, we were on constant lookout for skiers (so as not to get run over) and it was cold. But, it was worth it and I think disappointment tears were narrowly avoided. Plus it was pretty cool for me, to have my kids sledding down the hill I used to at their age!
That evening we had MN Christmas. Mom got the same bookmarks as Grandpa. Gumpa got a a drawing from Rex and both got Beaches and Dreams t-shirts.
After 3 days in MN, we had a EARLY flight to Florida to meet up with Ryan and his family.
Ryan’s mom and dad recently bought a place in Naples Florida so this would be our first time seeing it. Ryan’s brother, Andy, and his family live nearby in Ft Lauderdale. So we got to see them as well. The first day in Florida, we all got together to exchange Christmas presents with Andy’s bunch so we could see them before they left town. It is so important and fun to get the cousins together. We live so far away now and I want the kids to know each other as much as possible.
The next couple of days we enjoyed movies and plays, shopping and eating out. We saw Elf, the musical. We went to an outdoor Christmas service on Christmas Eve where Fay got to pet the camel. They had a live nativity scene as part of the service. And SUCH beautiful music.
More Christmas gifts and fun on actual Christmas Day. Then, the day after Christmas we met friends from NYC who were also visiting Florida. They drove 3 hours to see us because we haven’t seen each other since we moved to Belize. It was such a treat.
And that wraps up Christmas 2018. It was strange to be away from the resort for such a busy holiday time, but it was so nice to be with family. We’ll probably have that feeling a lot in the coming years, being onsite owner/managers who need to get away once in a while.