Category Archives: Married Life

10 Year Anniversary Trip

Rebecca and I have just returned from a seven-day trip to Puerto Rico to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. It was supposed to be a five-day trip, but thanks to “Superstorm” Sandy, our flight home was canceled, the rebooked flight was canceled, and we ended up needing to stay two extra nights. We knew that the girls were fine staying at our house with my in-laws, but we missed getting to go home to them when planned.

Other than that, we had a great trip. I wanted to tell you a little bit about what we did, and share some of the photos that we took.

On Friday the 26th (our anniversary date), we flew US Airways from Boston to San Juan, Puerto Rico by way of Philadelphia. The trip was pretty smooth, except for the extra delay before our plane took off from Philadelphia, since they had to plot a route to get around Hurricane Sandy, which, at the time, was churning through the Caribbean. (pics of this leg of the trip: http://gallery.prwdot.org/Travel/Flight-to-Puerto-Rico/26307923_897XBq).

Flight to Puerto Rico

Flight to Puerto Rico

Once in Puerto Rico, we got our rental car at the airport and drove for about four hours from San Juan to Las Marias, a town in the middle of the eastern central mountains of Puerto Rico. Some of that time was due to rush hour traffic getting out of San Juan, but it also had to do with the winding, 25mph roads going through the mountains. They were quite challenging to drive, especially at night! By the end of the trip, though, I had become fairly proficient at navigating them.

Road near the guesthouse

Road near the guesthouse

We eventually reached our destination, Maravilla Mountain, after darkness had fallen. Maravilla Mountain is a vegan/vegetarian bed and breakfast in an incredibly remote location in the middle of the forest. We were the only people staying there at the time, so we had our bedroom, plus a sitting room and bathroom, all to ourselves for the duration of our stay. We had purchased their “all-inclusive DIY” meal plan, which meant that they prepared all of our meals ahead of time and refrigerated or froze them, and we simply heated them up whenever we were ready – breakfast, lunch and dinner. The hosts, Margo and Mark, were incredibly hospitable. Margo’s cooking was delicious and filling, Mark’s woodworking and decor was fascinating, and the house was very comfortable. It was particularly relaxing to sit on the porch hammock-swings at night, overlooking the forest. They also had a massive movie collection, which I learned that Margo had picked out herself, and a huge flatscreen TV, which was great for watching in the evenings. (pics, including photos of most of our meals: http://gallery.prwdot.org/Travel/Maravilla-Guesthouse-and/26307973_c487FW)

Journaling at the guesthouse

Journaling at the guesthouse

In general, each day of the trip followed a similar pattern: we would get up early to go out and do some adventuring, then return home in the mid-afternoon to relax, have dinner, and relax some more. 🙂

On Saturday, we drove southwest to Cabo Rojo, a town on the far southwest corner of the island. There, we hiked up to the Los Morillos lighthouse, and down to a small beach in a cove. The views of the Caribbean Sea and the cliffs of Cabo Rojo were incredible, and the beach was very nice. It even had natural cabanas – the beach was lined with shade trees that provided a place to change into swimsuits and sit when a shade break was needed. (pics: http://gallery.prwdot.org/Travel/Cabo-Rojo/26308166_D57zPR).

Cliffs of Cabo Rojo

Cliffs of Cabo Rojo

On Sunday, we drove northeast to Camuy and Arecibo. In Camuy, we visited the Rio Camuy Caverns, a massive cave system formed by an underground river. We took a tram ride deep down to the entrance to the cave, and had a guided tour around inside the cave. It was very hard to capture in photos, but it was incredible in size and variety of rock formations. (pics: http://gallery.prwdot.org/Travel/Rio-Camuy-Caverns/26308304_hRTszQ)

Rio Camuy Caverns

Rio Camuy Caverns

We then drove to Arecibo to visit the Arecibo Observatory, the world’s largest single-dish radiotelescope. You may recognize it from such movies as GoldenEye or Contact. It’s a massive structure built out in the middle of the hilly northern country (“Karst” country) of Puerto Rico – a huge reflector dish in the ground, three massive towers surrounding it, with cables holding up an array of instruments designed to receive radio signals reflected by the dish. There is a visitor center that explains much of the history and science behind the telescope, and an observation deck that allows visitors to have a good view of the telescope. As a science geek, it was definitely a must-see for me! (pics: http://gallery.prwdot.org/Travel/Arecibo-Observatory/26308901_tnRc9b)

Arecibo Observatory

Arecibo Observatory

On Monday, we drove southeast to Guanica to visit the Guanica State Forest, a dry forest on the southern coast. After winding up a mountain road to a parking area, we took a hike down one of the trails. It started out looking much like our own forests and ended up looking more like a desert. At the bottom of the trail, we walked along a road and eventually came to a beach with a view of the Caribbean Sea. It was a sweltering day, and we ended up quite hot and sweaty, but we got to see some incredible plants and ocean views. (pics: http://gallery.prwdot.org/Travel/Guanica-State-Forest/26312477_BTvMwL)

Guanica State Forest

Guanica State Forest

After we left the forest, we headed back towards Las Marias and the guest house, but on the way, we stopped in Mayaguez to visit the USDA Tropical Agriculture Research Station (TARS). The TARS performs research and experiments in a variety of agricultural areas. They make a big point of saying that they are not a botanical garden, which basically means that the layout of their grounds was not chosen to be particularly aesthetically pleasing. It was still very cool to see all of the cataloged tropical plant species that they had. (pics: http://gallery.prwdot.org/Travel/USDA-Tropical-Agriculture/26312520_kNJc74)

USDA TARS

USDA TARS

Monday night was our last night at Maravilla Mountain, but our rebooked flights were on Thursday, so we still had to fill up Tuesday and Wednesday with activities. On Tuesday morning, we drove to our hotel in San Juan. We had booked a room at the Borinquen Beach Inn, a small motel in the Isla Verde area of San Juan. It was the cheapest hotel we could find that was near the airport. It also happened to be close to the beach – just one or two minutes to walk there from our room. It was definitely not a fancy beach resort, but it had the basics that we needed. It was also right across the street from Taco Bell and Walgreens, so we had access to cheap food to help save money during this unplanned portion of our trip. 🙂 (pics of Isla Verde, the beach, and our hotel: http://gallery.prwdot.org/Travel/Isla-Verde/26312786_h829L7)

Borinquen Beach Inn

Borinquen Beach Inn

After checking in, we drove to Old San Juan to explore its historical sites. We visited Castillo San Felipe del Morro, a fort that was built by the Spanish in 1539 and occupied by them until it was won by the Americans in 1898. The views of the old city and the ocean from the fort are incredible. (pics: http://gallery.prwdot.org/Travel/Castillo-San-Felipe-del-Morro/26312569_bvczk5 ) We took a free tram from El Morro to Castillo de San Cristobal, another fortress in Old San Juan. Where El Morro was designed to protect against sea attacks, San Cristobal was built to protect from land attacks, right at the entrance to Old San Juan. (pics: http://gallery.prwdot.org/Travel/Castillo-de-San-Cristobal/26312618_WrqdMH)

El Morro

El Morro

We also walked around Old San Juan a bit, and had a meal at Cafe Berlin, a restaurant with Puerto Rican, international, and vegan/vegetarian cuisine. Rebecca had a veggie sandwich while I tried mofongo, a Puerto Rican specialty. It was tasty, although I probably wouldn’t choose to eat it often. (pics of Old San Juan: http://gallery.prwdot.org/Travel/Old-San-Juan/26312743_5kQ3cj)

Street in Old San Juan

Street in Old San Juan

On Wednesday morning, we drove to El Yunque National Forest, the only tropical rain forest in the US national forest system. As the island goes, it’s a relatively small piece of land, but it seems pretty big when you’re driving through it. We went up an observation tower to get a great view of the forest, we hiked down a trail to a waterfall, where Rebecca took a dip in a natural pool, and we visited the El Portal Rain Forest Center, which had a video presentation narrated by Puerto Rico native Benicio del Toro. (pics: http://gallery.prwdot.org/Travel/El-Yunque-National-Forest/26312825_cvGtw7)

Peter in El Yunque

Peter in El Yunque

On Wednesday afternoon, we went back to Old San Juan again, as I wanted to visit the Pablo Casals Museum. We first went to the location as listed in our travel guides, but found a sign saying that it had moved to another location (or, that’s what I thought it said). So we asked around and tried to find its new location. We were pointed in the general direction of another art gallery which this museum was said to have moved into, but after walking around in circles for a bit, we finally learned the truth – the museum was in the process of moving, and neither the old nor the new location was open. In any case, we had a nice walk around Old San Juan. The architecture of the art museums we walked around was beautiful, and I’m sure that the next time we have a chance to take a trip to Puerto Rico, the new location will be open.

Future Location of the Pablo Casals Museum

Future Location of the Pablo Casals Museum

On both Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons, and on Thursday morning before leaving, we spent time swimming, or rather trying to dodge huge waves, in the beach behind our hotel. The late afternoon was a nice, quiet, not too hot time to enjoy the warm Caribbean water.

The Beach

The Beach

At last, on Thursday morning, we drove to the airport, dropped off our rental car, and got ourselves to the gate for our flight. We had learned the previous day that our rebooked flight put us into first class, an experience that neither of us was accustomed to. We boarded the plane and sat in the first row (seats 1A and 1C), and enjoyed our first class experience… nice food, big comfortable seats, first on and off the plane… really nice, and at no extra charge, I assume due to the fact that we’d been bumped from our flights. (pics of the first class experience: http://gallery.prwdot.org/Travel/First-Class-Experience/26312992_vcNNrx)

Getting to know your first class seat

Getting to know your first class seat

We made a smooth connection in Philadelphia, had a quick flight to Boston (coach class, but still very comfortable), and zipped out of the airport, to our car, and drove home as quickly as possible. We arrived home to finally see our girls again, and to thank Nonni and Grandpa for hanging in there with the girls for two extra days.

Overall, it was a great trip and a great way to celebrate our 10th anniversary.

Honeymoon Photos, Revisited

Those of you who have been around our blog for a while may recall that we switched photo gallery software a number of years ago. When we made the switch, we started from scratch with the new gallery, without any of the old pictures. We have often missed having many of the galleries, since they’re linked in some of our older posts, but the process of re-uploading them and editing each post to include links to the new galleries is quite time-consuming.

That being said, there are some galleries that I miss more than others, and one of those is the gallery of photos from our honeymoon. For those who are counting, that was almost ten years ago!

We traveled to the Andalucia region of Spain and visited Marbella, Malaga, Granada, Italica, Seville, Ronda, and also crossed the border into Gibraltar. It was one of my favorite trips and I’m looking forward to having the gallery back online for easy access. We haven’t traveled quite so far abroad since we’ve had kids. I hope that we’ll be able to again some day, but for now it’s nice to have these photos to look back on.

Rock of Gibraltar

Rock of Gibraltar

The galleries are:

  1. Day 1, Charles de Gaulle airport (yes, we were there for a while)
  2. Day 2, Marbella and Malaga
  3. Day 3, Italica and Seville
  4. Day 4, Sevilla and Ronda
  5. Day 5, Gibraltar
  6. Day 6, Granada, the Alhambra and the Generalife
  7. Day 7, Benalmadena and heading home

I know we’ll enjoy looking at these photos again, and maybe you will too!

Frugal Haircut

Sometimes you have to spend a little money to save a little money. This week I spent $15 on an electric hair clipper set. We’ve talked about it several times in the past, but had never actually laid down the money.

So, today, for the same as it would cost for Peter to go to the cheapo haircut place, I cut his hair for him. Luckily he sports a really basic hairstyle so it wasn’t too hard! Even still, taking the first swipe was a bit nerve wracking for me. I think it came out pretty well.

The best part is that we broke even on the clippers with just one haircut and all the following cuts/trims will be 100% free.

29 years of BecTasticism

Happy birthday to the best wife a man could hope for, and the best momma a girl could want. Here’s to the woman who keeps the house running smoothly, keeps the kid happy, and keeps us lean, mean and green.

Becky polys the stairs

And let’s not forget, the one who did a killer job polyurethaning (is that a verb?) our stairs! I love you!

Five Years

Wedding Day
Five Years Ago

The Woods
Three Weeks Ago

Five years ago, I had no idea what adventures were in store for us. I didn’t know we’d travel all over the United States, let alone take a trip to Russia. I didn’t know that we’d start living greener, more simpler lives. I didn’t know that we’d have a wonderful girl named Catherine, or that my job would provide for all three of us with extra to spare. I didn’t know that we’d buy a condo in Danvers, or that my ideas of fun would change to include stacking up blocks in a nursery.

All I knew is that I loved you and wanted to spend the rest of my life with you. Here’s to many more years of discovering what that life will bring!

Winter Winds

There are a few places in our apartment that allow the wind to whistle through. Normally it is no big deal (and it saves us from the risk of Carbon Monoxide poisoning!) but during this cold snap we’re having it has been very noticeable.

I mentioned to Peter last night that the windows seemed particularly drafty lately. He looked at me and said, “maybe we should put the storm windows down”.

Well, duh! It has been so warm this winter that we hadn’t even swapped out the window screens for the storm windows. What were we thinking!?!

I went around today and put the storms down. We still have some wind that sneaks in, but the place seems much more air tight. Sometimes the easiest solution is right under your nose and you don’t even know it!

Remastered

Earlier this year, I started a project to go through all of the photos from our wedding and honeymoon, take out some not so good photos, do some cropping, retouching, rotating, and color editing, and then upload them to the site. I got a bit sidetracked after Catherine was born, but I finally finished up. Here, then are the results! I left the originals alone so that you can compare. If you have already seen the photos, why not go back and relive the fun? If you haven’t seen them, check them out for the first time! I had hoped to finish this up by our anniversary, but oh well! 🙂

Here are some examples:

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4/5

Today I have two lovely women to celebrate!

ppp|The Wood Women|ppp

I would like to wish a very happy fourth anniversary to my wife, Rebecca. You’re the greatest wife a husband could hope for, and the best mom a dad could want!

I would also like to wish a very happy five month birthday to my daughter, Catherine. I love watching you grow and learn new things. I am looking forward to many more happy years of getting to know you!

All my love to the two most important women in my life!

A Busy Weekend

It’s Sunday night, and Becky and I are finally settling in to watch the season premiere of The Amazing Race. Hooray! But here’s a summary of the rest of the weekend:

Friday

Friday night, I sent Becky and Catherine out of the house for the evening. They went to have dinner with Nonni, and I spent the evening cleaning the apartment. Floors, carpets, bathroom, kitchen, the whole works. It needed to be done.

Saturday

Beverly Hospital hosted a birthday party for babies who spent time in its Special Care nursery. There were some activities for the older kids, as well as photos of all of the babies born in the past year or so. We saw a few of the nurses and doctors who worked with us while Catherine was in the nursery, and we recognized a couple from our childbirth class, as well as another couple who had twins in the nursery while we were there.

We also ran into Dan Cederholm, author of Web Standards Solutions and Bulletproof Web Design, and proprietor of SimpleBits, at the party. I wasn’t expecting to see him there, but as we were walking around, I spotted a guy with a computer-ish shirt, then saw his name tag… aha! I don’t think I would have recognized him without the name tag. His baby, Jack, spent some time at the Beverly special care nursery. We struck up a conversation with Dan and his wife Kerry. They’re quite nice folks, and Jack is as cute as can be. Check out his great hair! We ended up meeting them for lunch at Panera, since we were all under the (mistaken) impression that lunch would be served at the birthday party. 🙂 We had a nice time chatting about life as new parents.

Here’s a few photos of Catherine from the party.

After lunch, we headed home to get ready for Art and Leanne‘s wedding. Our friend Beth was all too delighted to come and watch Catherine while we were at the wedding, so after we gave her the low-down on Catherine’s relatively simple needs, we headed down to Braintree for the wedding, and then to Boston for the reception. It was a very classy affair. We had a good time sitting at the “CBD Table” at the reception… 🙂

You can see the wedding photos here.

Sunday

After church, we drove out to Worcester to have Sunday dinner at Grammy’s. Catherine got to meet a few new Quitadamo relatives, we had some delicious meatballs and pasta, and helped Grammy out with a few housekeeping tasks. Those of you with Family access can see some photos from today.

Phew! Thankfully, we don’t have anything planned for next weekend. If we’re lucky, we’ll get to relax a bit. 🙂

Peter-ism?

So tonight, Becky and I are watching Bee Season, a drama about a father who tries to avoid his failing marriage by immersing himself in his daughter’s spelling bees. In the opening scene of the movie, a helicopter is carrying a large letter ‘A’ across San Francisco Bay. It’s hanging from what appears to be a very thin cable. The scene cuts back and forth between this helicopter and our family riding in a car across one of the Bay bridges, with the daughter looking up out of the window. Eventually, we find that the helicopter safely delivers the letter to a large sign being assembled to read “Port Of Oakland”. In any case, as we are watching this scene, the following interchange transpires between Becky and me:

  • Peter: I bet that “A” is going to drop on their car.
  • Becky: I don’t think it’s that kind of movie.

I guess it’s sort of like a Jeremyism. 🙂