The Mercado Family

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Another Expander

Our orthodontist, Dr. Teifer, loves our family. You know why? Because we have our fourth child in an expander, starting the first phase of orthodontic work. She loves that our children all have such "big, beautiful teeth!" I bet she does!

I was the only of my siblings to get braces, though I think my brother thinks he could he benefited from them, though his teeth aren't bad.  And Jason... he had braces twice. The second one after having jaw surgery! It's no wonder all of our kids have to get all this work done! I reminded all my kids when they got their expanders, especially Erik, that expanders replace the need to break their jaw later on, which sounds completely awful to me. So a little squeeze every night as I tighten the expander is not a bad idea after all.

Erik had a very bad under bite, so he will need to wear his for 9 months, whereas his siblings only wore theirs for 6 months. Since he has a texture issue (hence his sensitive eating habits) he was particularly disturbed when they put the expander in his mouth. The assistant said she thought he was little "traumatized" by the whole thing. They didn't even finish cleaning out the specks of glue, because he was so miserable. He didn't talk the rest of the day and took a few days to pick up on his eating. It's been 8 days now and he's a pro at it. You can hardly tell by how he talks and he can eat basically everything he was eating before, which wasn't a wide variety, but I'm glad he can eat his carrots again! 

Under bite, this is after 8 days of the expander. I think it's already improving.

Expander proud!
Done with braces!

It's always an adventure around here!

Wednesday, July 10, 2019


We were treated to a cruise by my mom and Jim with my brother, sister, and their families too. It was a blast! It had been about 10 years since we last went on a cruise. It's different with four kids all doing their own things, but luckily they had their cousins with them to hang out with so that everyone had some independence and got to do fun activities in good company. I really enjoyed the conversations with family members while eating, swimming, working out, playing games, or just waiting nearby while our kids played.
The sunrise after working out one morning.

Erik played miniature golf, went down the water slides, and did the high ropes course, a lot! He also ate tons of cereal, frozen yogurt, and french fries. Every night he ordered the "pasta of the day without sauce", along with french fries and assorted cookies. The first night he got Jello instead of cookies, and I was surprised that he ordered it. He kept calling it "jelly", which made our server, and me, laugh. Speaking of our server, he was awesome! Or I should say they. When they figured our group of 23 out, they brought extra fruit and french fries every night for whoever decided they wanted more. When kids realized they could order hot chocolate at dinner, they brought out extra of that as well.
First discovery of all-you-can-eat frozen yogurt.

His favorite thing was to combine all the sugar cereals. You'd think he'd start combining other foods as well, like pasta and sauce, but not yet.
Lucid and Edna, our excellent servers!
Francisco, our other fabulous server!

High ropes

Water slide

Swimming with cousins.

Austin did everything with his cousin Peter. The first thing he said when we returned home was that he missed Peter. They did the same things Erik did, except on their own pace. Austin being 10 now and Peter almost 9, made it better for them to have some freedom, though the second night after dinner we couldn't find them for a while when we were supposed to have our pictures taken. We even had the security guard involved at the end, after having paged them. We were still getting used to the ship and just missed them at every place we knew they would be.

During our two hours of dining each night, Austin and Peter talked non-stop, in between bites of spaghetti, pizza, hamburger, and french fries. I've decided that maybe we need two hours of dining each night at home so my slow eaters can eat without me getting on their case the whole time! Or maybe we need cousins to entertain us at the table, or maybe I just need a cook so I can sit and visit and be relaxed at mealtime, as opposed to rushing everyone through!
Swimming in the Tide Pool
Miniature golf

Giant chess


Dinner buddies

Best cousins!
more miniature golf!

I didn't see Karissa or Victoria quite as much. They hung out with some of the older cousins and did their own thing. I know they both tried different foods, which I encouraged them to, and enjoyed some of them, like shrimp cocktail, salmon patties, fillet Mignon, escargot, creme brulet, and others. I told them to try the most expensive foods since Grandma had already paid and we may as well get our money's worth!
Twin glasses with Aunt Karina

Natalie and Victoria

Layla and Karissa

More high ropes, with more cousins.


Dining with style

We enjoyed visiting each night with everyone at dinner.

Penne mariscos

Chocolate chip pancakes

Due to the fact that an adult aged 25 and up had to be in each room, and the fact that the cousins wanted to sleep together, I had Karissa, Layla, and Erik in my room. So I did run into Karissa a little more than Victoria. Austin, Peter, and Nikolas (who's Erik's age) were right next door with Uncle Dan. Victoria was with Aunt Karina and the other teenage girls, Mariah and Natalie. Jason got to be with Blake, Jake, and Calvin. Derek and Missy with their younger two, Kallie and Izaak and Grandpa and Grandma with Andrew.

Monday we did have to separate from cousins for our excursions. Our family went zip lining and horse back riding in Amber Cove, Dominican Republic. Karina and Nikolas came with us since her bigger kids went on a waterfall slide/cliff jumping excursion which had an age factor. Our "bus" ride there was like the Jurassic Park ride, according to Erik, which was pretty accurate. The zip lining was thrilling! The youngest two somehow got to the front and we had some other people we didn't know in front of us parents for while. Those boys were brave! Before horse back riding, we were treated to a delicious, authentic Dominican meal, including mangoes. Mango trees were everywhere and mangoes were all over the ground. Nik followed the workers' lead and ate about 7 straight off the ground! Then he proceeded to have a plate of mangoes for lunch! He did add a few things later, but all Austin had was beans. I forgot to ask Dan about the toilet situation in their room that night....
Erik was matching Grandpa that first day off the ship!

Nikolas and Erik

Getting ready to zip line!

Eating a mango off the ground!
 Horse back riding was more scary than zip lining. I hadn't been on a horse in about 25 years and never had much experience with them to begin with. None of us had! Karina was smart and told them she was a little afraid so she got a very sturdy horse! Karissa's horse was very hungry and ate mangoes and branches the whole ride. Jason's horse, Pablo, was un poco loco and it seemed he had control issues from the beginning. A little over half way, though, his horse got mad at Karissa's horse over food and they started fighting. Jason got a kick in the leg, but jumped/slipped off his horse ASAP before any more hooves came at him! The guide traded horses with him after that...

I got to take pictures of Victoria, Austin, and Erik before getting on my horse, which was good because I didn't want to let go to take anymore pictures once I got on mine. However, we had a few minutes after Jason's accident, so I snapped this one of Karissa. You can see her horse still has his head down to get more food and Jason in the background on the ground, assuring our guides that he was ok!

The Jurassic Ride back. We were leaning away from the branches coming into the bus!

Our excursion group

Tuesday was another exciting bus ride to Coki beach in St. Thomas with the whole group. The water was nice and there were tons of fish! Missy purchased dog biscuits for us to break off and drop in the water. The fish came right up to the surface to get it! We also saw lots of iguanas and observed them for a while.
Our group, minus Andrew and Grandpa, ready for the ride, on the the wrong side of the road!

Grandma dancing to the music.

Blake giving Erik a thrill.

Fish, right below me!

Observing the iguanas.

Getting closer to the iguanas.
Austin, after getting to close and getting spit at by the iguana, running away!

Wednesday was San Juan, Puerto Rico. Jason was our tour guide, of course. Ironically, his cousin was in the states when we were there, so we couldn't see her this time, but Jason did well. They had some construction going on, so we had to go the long was to El Morro, the historic fortress. On the way we went to a cathedral, built in 1521 (it is the second oldest Cathedral in the New World). Our 23 split up after that and some of us went to lunch and shopping, and some back to the ship. We enjoyed our Puerto Rican food, as usual, and shared the experience with Derek and his family.

Fountain representing the people who came to settle Puerto Rico (Africans, Spaniards, Taino Indians)

My girls got more artistic shots of this.


El Morro moat 

Where prisoners were kept in the fortress.

This reminded us of Pirates of the Caribbean, Izaak being the doggie with the keys in his his mouth. 

Izaak and Victoria

Puerto Rican food!

Thursday was Grand Turk and an easy day at the beach, right off the ship. It was easy and the water was perfect. Derek found a sunken boat and many of our group swam over to see it. That was an exciting moment. I enjoyed swimming in place for two hours. I found from previous cruises that in order to eat all the delicious food, I need a good work out each day, plus walk the stairs (which you do a lot of on a cruise), and get in any other movement possible, like swimming or dancing. So, my two hour treading water was just what I needed!
Beautiful water!

Sand castles with Kallie

Stretching with Kallie

Karissa's photo shoot of Victoria.

Karissa's sand creation cat and dog.

Final note about the cruise: our cruise director was hilarious! He was a great entertainer and also kept us informed about what we needed to know.

Thanks Mom for a great trip!

Girl cousins

Fruit Loop french toast

Credits to Natalie for the next few pictures!!

The whole crew!