Friday, March 27, 2009

Lander's Alter Ego

5 Busy Mabry's Mexican News Service:

Lander, Lander man, Lander the Great, BIG DAAAWWWG!! There are so many superlative names that have been bestowed upon him, but until we went with him to Mexico, he never really let his guard down.

Normally, he displays a demure and generally happy personality. You would think he is a normal 3 year old with normal three year old tendencies, but I have witnessed his true personality. See how sweet and happy he is?

Little did we know that in the dark of night he transforms into his alter ego. He must sneak out of his room and has his driver, yes I said driver, take him to his real gig. Right now his Mom is thinking. “Gig? What Gig? His gig, so to speak, is being an expert mess-maker and playing like he is a 3 year old?!? Just what are you saying Brad!!!”

Well well non believers…I’m here to break the story. I have, with my knack for fantastic and somewhat ridiculous journalism, tracked him down when we were in Mexico, which now is packed to the gills with Spring Breakers.

I snapped this exclusive photo at a late night club in Cancun before the 7 ½ foot tall security guy that works for Lander’s band chucked me back over the barriers and broke my camera. Perhaps I should have paid to get in instead of sneaking in the back door...

Hopefully Star magazine or some other paparazzi driven publication will pick it up for millions of dollars...or at least a few pesos.

Lander is really a ROCK STAR with record deals, hot chicks fainting at the sight of him, and everything! I can’t wait until he makes me a “friend” on his MySpace page!


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Hacienda Kass - Mexico

Our group of weary travelers arrived bumping and thumping down a dirt road to which Bill said, “This is much improved over the last time we were here!” We unloaded the gear, food, and exhausted kids into this absolutely marvelous house. There was a great pool with a waterfall, a rooftop to look out onto the stars at night, and the Caribbean Sea right out the back door. I was at a loss for anything more that we could have wanted… No a Ferrari would have destroyed itself on the road just getting to the house, so I can honestly say I didn’t want one…at that moment that is.

But the next morning, we found something great that we hadn’t even thought might be nice. Of course morning came early. At 5:30am I sat up unable to sleep any longer, and when I did, I saw Bryce pop his head up from his own pillow across the room. We are peas in a pod like that, so we ventured out to see the sunrise.

The morning was brilliantly lit with the glow that most of the world only sees at sunset, and behold on the beach, there were sea kayaks and next to them was a hammock plantation! (Yes, Hammocks do grow on special hammock trees no matter what foolish things you may have heard in the past.)

We sat swinging in the hammocks for a while during which time I sucked back a cup of coffee and then our collective hyperactivity disorder kicked in and we jumped into a kayak to explore Solomon Bay. There was a barrier reef that protected the shore from crashing waves and made the kayaking very smooth unless there was wind blowing. There were coral heads growing sporadically in the bay and brilliantly blue water all around. We snorkeled and went on kayak expeditions daily during our stay.

The pool was also a big hit with the kids…uh…well, maybe more than just the kids.

Ansley definitely models a bit too well for a 5 year old. I think I may let her start dating when she's around 30 with looks like that...

There was definitely a bit of a nip to the water in the pool, but in we went anyway. During our stay we had slosh-ball games with a plastic shovel and sponge balls. Sloshball, think baseball but with rules you make up on the fly while you are forced to hit a spongeball through a cascade of water. The pool was also used for loads of snorkeling and there was even an impromptu belly flop contest. Which, gladly, I did NOT win...but not for lack of trying..ouch. The photo's of this belly flop contest have been withheld from this post to protect the innocent.

Ansley and Bryce each became much more proficient and confident swimmers during the endless hours they spent in the pool. I was glad to see their progress because that will really come in handy as the summer approaches and we get to go up to the lake.

As the days progressed, we all had standing meetings to attend. Hammock meetings that is. During which, you were allowed to sleep, but generally couldn’t because three kids make enough noise to make a jet on takeoff sound practically pleasant. All noise aside, the hammocks were such a hit; we all had purchased a couple by the end of the trip to take home. I hope that by planting a hammock in the back yard, I can grow a few hammock least that's what I'm telling the kids. I know, I know...I will have to apologize for all this in the years to come...

Next Post: The Mayans ain't got nuthin' on us.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Southerners Invade Mexico

We left a cold and rainy day here in Birmingham to make the trek to a much warmer location in this world. The kids were beside themselves with the knowledge that they were going to get to ride on a plane. For those of us that were more experienced travellers, we were more worried about the kids melting down towards the end of the day. The kids didn't realize how tiring and frustrating airports coupled with standing in queues coupled with customs coupled with security coupled with...sigh...

To our pleasant surprise, the kids were wonderful, and it was really nice to have the eternal worst case scenario that plays out in my head proven very very wrong. It usually is wrong...which tells me I should somehow try to modify that mind set. We landed in Atlanta and met our group while the rest of our forces were flying to the "theater of operations" from our Texas Command Post via Mexico City!

We landed in Cancun amidst the throngs of college age spring breakers. I must say that these youthful faces looked younger than I remember looking in college.

Then the real fun began. Would we stay in the drunken meat market of Cancun? NO!

We rented a car and a the ultimate Mexican Assault Vehicle, a 5 speed van! That boxy thing was so sweet, I want one here in the states. We drove that thing like the F1 race car that it wasn't. We pushed the limits of it's suspension and the top end speed. I was waiting for the 4 foul tempered hamsters that powered it to scurry out from under the hood at a stop light leaving us hitch hiking all the way to Tulum...


After a pit stop in Playa del Carmen to grab some authentic fish tacos at a randomly selected restaurant we went to the oddly American oasis of Sam's Club to buy food for the week. When the parade of shopping carts rolled out to the cars, which were already loaded with 2.5 tons of luggage and people, that van turned out to be a very valuable asset. Once we loaded our provisions, we headed further south to Hacienda Kass at speeds a small plane would have been proud of.

Speaking of low flying aircraft, the Mexicans put some ingenious speed control devices across the road called Topes. We had been bumping around on these regularly during our journey south to the house, but now we were flying along with a fully loaded van in the dark. And there it was looming like an asphalt mountain in front of us. BUMP! I yelled as the van was launched into the air. Eric, who had the unenviable task of carrying 36 eggs in his lap to keep them "safe", actually had time to pick them one by one out of the air in front of him and place them back in the package as the van began re-entry into the atmosphere. It was an amazing feat that we only had one escape the package upon landing.

It was lucky I had the camera out to snap this shot while the van was in microgravity...

The rest of the trip to the dirt road where Hacienda Kass was located was uneventful...relative to the low earth orbit, re-entry, and landing we experienced earlier that is. When we arrived at the house, Eric opened his door egg fell to the pavement as our only casualty of the trip. I felt it was a worthy sacrifice to the Mayan Egg God, and I'm sure it helped with our luck for the rest of the trip.

A successful invasion by any standards!

Next Post: Sunrises, Hammocks, and Kayaks.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

What are they?!? The shocking truth!!!

For years, I believed that I had the perfect but not-so-little family. Brenna and I were happy parents of 1 and then 2 and now 3 little kids. The grass was green, birds chirped, the sun shone warmly upon all of us. (Imagine a classic Disney image here complete with angelic choirs)

But I have noticed something strange happening recently. (Cue the ominous music and storm clouds)

I hear constant rustling and thumping throughout the house. I see random objects scattered around the house everywhere like little animals have been in the rooms but ran to hide as soon as I entered the house. The kids tend to sleep in a big pile in one bed for warmth or something. (No, I know the economy is bad but I do have the heat on. I’m not that cheap. Pfft...)

Furthermore, Brenna called me the other day and said that “someone”, I won’t name names but I know where you sit for dinner, had stashed a half eaten sandwich behind a plant. Why? Was my child saving it for later? I know a possible answer is due to the wonderfully brilliant and loving parental figures stating, “Finish your dinner and you can have dessert.” “Done Mom!”, was probably exclaimed with much fanfare within seconds of the stashing of the sandwich.

Then, I was cleaning up the other day, and found no less than 3 sippy cups. One was under a couch, another under a table, and one in a toy box like they had been hidden there for later use. The one from the toy box went DIRECTLY in the trash. Some are just too terrifying to open and clean.

I know who you are as well, Mr. Cup-Stasher, as you are the only one left in the house using them. You can’t fool me, Hahahahaha! Cough…ahem

This morning, I was looking out the window while pondering the rustling and thumping sounds in the next room, and I had an epiphany. I saw a small furry animal scampering around leaving stuff in its path across our deck. Then it went and buried a nut or some other questionably edible object it had found so that it could conveniently forget it.

And then it came to me… (A thought came to me, not the animal I was watching. Seriously people...)

Dare I say it?

Dare! Dare!! Ok…name the movie that came from.

My Disney-esque family is actually three fifths squirrels. GASP!!!

It seems that anyone in my house under the age of 7 exhibits an uncannily squirrel-like pattern of behavior. The constant random motion, the constant chattering noise, the ability to instantly hide when I get in sight, leaving a big fat mess, tearing up the house (anyone who has had squirrels get into the house can attest to the truth in this), sleeping in a big “nest”, the ability to get into anything they aren’t supposed to, and hiding food all over and forgetting it.

I am shocked and strangely fascinated by this revelation. I need to continue to observe the patterns of these oversized, minimally furry, and tail-less species of squirrel to confirm my hypothesis. I will certainly monitor and record the behaviors over the next years trying not to disturb these amazing creatures in their natural habitat…which is, only semi-conveniently, my house.

I’ll be like the Jane Goodall of this potentially un-recorded species of squirrel. Oh, how very exciting…

Maybe I should put a call into Discovery Channel or Animal Planet? I probably won’t call animal control… just yet

Bryce does love Star Wars... perhaps another similarly squirrely trait? You decide...

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Time Machine

I decided to put on my iPod’s 80’s playlist for the commute to work today. Now realize that I am not the committed cycle commuter. I don’t frown upon people driving SUV’s and wear hemp clothing and such.

Unless that SUV happens to be a gold half hummer/ half pickup that is owned by that clown that nearly put a mirror on my shoulder in a desperate attempt to get to a red light faster than me.


I had a serious case of déjà vu when I got going out on the road this morning. I heard songs that I really hadn’t listened to in 20 years. Back when riding a bike to school or to a friend’s house was the best method of getting around. And WOOSH! (that’s onomatopoeia for a time machine sound if you didn't know) It felt like I was in the exact same world as when I was riding back when those songs were actually on the radio. It was really kind of cool. I was 11-13’ish again riding to school.

Yeah, I know…how is that any different than any other day with me?

Only now I was cycling to work…with a laptop and gym clothes jammed in a backpack instead of 40lbs of books and the worries of how I was ever going to ask that cute red headed girl to go for a chaperoned pizza “date” on Friday.

I smiled the whole way.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Southern Snow

We had a substantial snowfall over the weekend. Substantial in the Southern sense, that is. It was enough to cancel everything, empty the shelves of bread and milk at the stores, have motorists crashing into each other like the kiddy bumper car rides at the fair, and be completely gone by 4pm. The only thing remaining from 3-5 inches of snow yesterday morning was our snowman.

The Snow-trooper.

It was pretty funny to be building it and have my oldest son fly into view and tackle it ala Terry Tate in the “office linebacker” ads.

I had to include one even though it really isn't even close to the subject of this blog post... Hey, I have a spastic brain, what can I say? They apparently don't make drugs that can fix it...

The day was spent in a constant parade of little kids squealing that it was snowing, dressing in whatever was within reach, running outside, then running back in soggy and cold to receive hot chocolate from Mom. Of course on the way to get the hot chocolate they would drop their soaked clothes all over the hallway. I swear, do kids have an ejector button on their shoes and clothes? The hallway would be clean-ish (as clean as anything ever is in a house with 3 kids) then they would run in, and BOOM! There would be clothes and shoes everywhere.

As a side note, Aiden’s clothing ejector button seemed to be malfunctioning because multiple times during the snow ball fights, he would be seen standing there, snowball in hands, and his wet pants would have fallen down around his ankles. He had this “What do I do; because I’m certainly not putting down the snowball to correct my pant issue” type of expression. I can agree that it was wise to not put down the snowball. He needed it for protection from his older siblings…

There is one thing to be said about the snow, it is pretty...