Friday, November 11, 2011

Sports tournament...and continuing to lose my mind...

Our church had a "Stake Primary" event, which meant that many different congretations in the area were expected to bring their children to an event for children between 3 and 12 years. We are the only ward/congregation that lives 1 hour away (the rest are located in Guadalajara) and it was like pulling teeth to get anyone to come to this event! Who was responsible for making it happen? Me.

Our first problem is that no one has cars. The few that do were either out of town or had car issues that prevented them from driving. Finally, a bishopric counselor volunteered to help, and we stuffed his vehicle and ours full for the hour drive to Guadalajara!

We managed to get 13 kids (and several parents) to the Stake Primary soccer and basketball tournament. They held the event 4 weeks in a row, and asked different wards to play on different days against other wards. The winning teams were asked to return the final week for a playoff.
Here are some of he peeps from our ward...

Two of our older boys (in the front right) getting ready play soccer.

Our family killing time while watching the long event...

Other kids busied themselves by swinging from hanging palm branches...

Ella was so excited and confident about playing soccer. She started the game, but just 2 minutes in she was kicked in the face by a soccer ball, and decided she was done for the day.

It is quite common to play soccer on basketball courts that double as soccer fields. Grass is a rare commodity in the city! This particular court was located behind one of the chapels, on church property.

I admit I was very grateful that our kids did not win either of their games. That way we weren't required to return for the play-offs for the tournament. It was hard enough to get them there the first time, and doing it just a week later would have made us lose more hair! They were not happy we weren't coming back, even just to watch the playoffs. But for real, people. I don't mean to be difficult...but can't you plan an activity that is easier?!
And guess what kinds of snacks the children devoured after their morning of sports?
Green oranges. And they were good!!

Summer lovin'...

Ella found an old pin I bought my first summer in Skagway. Oh, the memories!

We often mind Maiya in odd places for an afternoon nap (in practice she refuses to take a nap, but these things do have a way of happening on rare occasion)...

Ethan in a very typical Mexican high chair. This is pretty much all I've seen around here! It is quite uncommon that they don't have a strap, so we grabbed a bungee cable from the car to keep him tied down. You never know when you might need a bungee cord!!

When in UT, I saw all of my siblings with the exception of Ben, who now lives in Tennessee!

We went hiking to American Fork Falls, if I remember correctly. A simple and beautiful hike!
I know I've mentioned our family's love of Jenga. That love goes well beyond just playing the game...

We celebrated my birthday with store-bought key lime pie :-) Now that is a birthday cake I like!

We decided to let Ella try out a gymnastics class, after about 2 years of her pleading. It is twice the price of ballet, but she is absolutely in love with it. Therefore, we dropped ballet, and now let her go to the gym twice a week. It is exactly 1 1/2 minutes from our house. Can't beat that!

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Life is good...

especially when they love each other!

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Saturday, October 22, 2011


For Ethan's birthday this summer, we went to a friend's house to celebrate the birthday of Ella's classmate and friend who shares the same birthday!
It was a pool party!
It was 4th of July, and "too cold to swim" for half of the Mexican kids there. After all, it wasn't a completely sunny clear day (Ahem. It was probably 75 degrees, still).

Faces were made...

Fun was had by all...

Graduation from Kinder

I recently posted about Ella's graduation from Kindergarten (yeah...I told you I was months and months behind)! You can find the post on my other blog!

Meanwhile, here are a few photos I didn't share there...

Here are the girls sitting on a ledge at the school. That is a gigantic moth on the wall between them!

Here is Ella's Spanish Kinder teacher:
Here are Maiya's teachers for her "Maternal" class (a.k.a. preschool)
And here are the girls with their friend, Pablo. Behind them is a gigantic, AMAZING cake that Pablo's mother made. She is an up-and-coming cake baker, and is quite the artist in soooo many ways (weaving, painting, drawing, etc). Cakes are her new thing, and she made this Alice in Wonderland cake at a special class in Guadalajara with a visiting specialist. Pretty cool cake, huh?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Father's Day

If I'm talking about Father's Day, you can see how behind I am on posting!!

The girls came home from school with adorable gifts for Jared on Father's Day!

They each made a picture that the school then had printed on mugs, along with their photo on the other side.

Ella's picture is of her and her Daddy (I love Ella's red hair photos...they always make me smile!)

And since Maiya's a little young to draw her own pictures, her teachers had her make fingerprints with paint, and then they made the fingerprints into little mini-Daddy's (see Jared working on the computer, working out, listening to music, etc). What a cute idea!

These are definitely a keepsake!
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Our serious student...

Ella is a very serious student. She has to have everything PERFECT, which can make for some rough homework sessions, at times. Overall, she's better better at not throwing fits!!

In Mexico, the children write in cursive, not print. I tried to write a note to the teacher in pure cursive (you know, the "correct" I didn't feel dumb), and realized I just couldn't do it very well. I generally use a sloppy mix of print/cursive/whatever.

Ella's cursive is officially better than mine (oh yeah, and 100% better than Jared's...because he doesn't write curisve)!
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This is how they sleep...

At our old house, Ella & Maiya shared a queen sized bed. We were a bit fearful Maiya might fall off the side, so we put up a portable bed rail. Maiya used it well (see below).

It was not unusual to sneak a peak at the kids sleeping like this...

And yes, during the hot season it was NOT unusual to find Ella stripping off all of her clothes, and sleeping on top of the sheets.

In our new home, the girls now have bunk beds which they LOVE. Luckly, their sleeping habits seem to be much more normal when they are not side by side!
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Saturday, September 17, 2011

A new blog

Introducing our new blog: "Living Outside of the Box"

Yeah, you read that right. I have a new blog I've kinda been working on here and there (hence the lack of activity here). It's hosted on my own domain, and designed through Wordpress (which has a high learning curve, I might add)! It will be a more generic blog...for example, I probably won't talk about some of the personal church experiences and post a billion kid photos on it.

So, why another blog?

The truth is that I long to also share my thoughts & experiences with people that can relate to me. People that don't read it and think, "Oh...they're just showing off or bragging." There are many people out there, like us, who are expats...and as a whole we like to see what different opportunities and experiences that are available when living in different areas of the world.

The new blog will be my means of sharing our travel and day-to-day adventures living South of the Border! I would also like to share more of my personal feelings about what it means to me to be an expat, share the different "tools" we find especially helpful to maintain some of our comforts, and so on. I know I will post things that my family and some friends won't agree with...which is why my family and many of my friends still live in the US.

Some people have taken personal offense from things I have already written on my blog, when there is absolutely no reason to (why take offense when it isn't intended?!). I feel like I always have to edit what I want to write, to be certain not to "offend" people. But, I want to be honest with myself!! So, please be aware that if you don't like what I don't have to read it!

You'll probably still see me pop up with updates here, as well...when I just can't help but share some random kid photos, etc. But I wouldn't bet on it too often.

So...please add this new blog to your feed:

I have about 4 months to catch up on if I can whoop myself into shape, there are many adventures I will be sharing soon!

If you care to know what we're up to, you can also follow our Facebook page:

Finally, I can share things that we're doing from day-to-day, within the context that we live in Mexico and enjoy each and every day!



Sunday, July 3, 2011

Trompo Magico Children's Museum

"Guadalajara" is one of those amazing words that when spoken correctly, sounds nothing like how an American would say it. In general, locals refer to it as "Guad" spoken with a lovely hacking G (think hacking a loogie, and you're close to the right sound)! I think perhaps I will never say it right...and therefore have settled with my Gringo "Gwad"

Anyways...we have made some wonderful friends in Guadalajara! Earlier this year we attended the temple, and I met a Gringo senior missionary couple who had just started their mission, serving in the Guad temple. I got the wife's email address, and we became email buddies. On a whim, I asked her if perhaps she knew of any young couples that lived near the temple, who might be interested in babysitting for us, so we could more easily attend the temple regularly. She returned to me with an email address for Megan & Hugo, who are some of our new best friends!

Megan is from Washington, and her husband is from a small Portuguese speaking island off of the coast of Africa. They have three children, and our kids are all similar ages! We have officially probably spent 75% of our weekends with them for the past several months. We have been able to do a couple of temple swaps, where they watch our children as we attend the temple, and then we switch and watch their kids while they get to go to the temple.

While doing this switch last month, Jared and I exited the temple and I noticed a younger woman on the stairs with a kid, and my Gringo radar went off.!

We started a conversation with her and suddenly found ourselves making friends with Liesel and David, who live in Puerto Vallerta. They own a Segway tour in Puerto Vallerta and I have seen their business reviews on Trip Advisor (5 Stars!). Everyone LOVES them! Anyone for a trip to PV?!

Back to the story...
They were in Guad for a youth temple trip, but had brought their own car and had some time to kill before heading back to the coast. They asked advice on what cool things they could do in Guadalajara, in which we really had nothing to offer (heck...all we do is shop in Costco!!). They told us about a Children's Museum in the area ("really?! Oh--cool!"), and we agreed to go with them and our 6 kids in tow (remember, we had Megan & Hugo's kids, too!).

Liesel and David (Liesel is from UT and David is from Mexico City) led us through Guad like they were experts (they put us "locals" to shame!), and we found the Trompo Magico Children's Museum without too much trouble.

It was an amaaaazing find! I think it puts the Salt Lake City Children's Museum to shame (although I'm not dissing on is awesome, too!)...but it is less than half the price, and much larger! Admission for kids and adults is $35 pesos (approx $3), and you can pay a bit more to do some super cool activities, if you choose. We stuck with the basic price, and were not disappointed.

They have many many different rooms (so many that they actually give you a map), and even have activities/rooms for older children, in addition to the younger. We stuck to just one of the giant rooms, and the kids stayed entertained for several hours (we had to drag them away in the end). They did their grocery shopping, played nurse, cooked in a kitchen, went fishing, could read books, build with giant blocks, and the list went on...

Ella with her shopping list of produce...
Dr. Ella...
The fishing hole...
By far the coolest section was the BUBBLE place. It was soooooo cool! This is the ceiling...
A fairly short line waited to go into the giant bubble maker. The large metal ring is lowered into the bubble pool below, and raised to form a giant bubble around the person standing there. The kids liked to pop it by touching it, or watch it expand by gently blowing on it.
Also VERY cool was the crazy wire contraption that even kids were allowed to operate. It made a huge bubble that would then fly above your head until it popped.
And of course, many many other opportunities for making bubbles!
They close this bubble section every hour for 10 minutes to clean up, and start the mess again!

Anyways, it was such a great fun-filled day! Jared thinks we should start hanging out at the temple more often...because we tend to meet the coolest people there :-)

I agree!

Ballet Class...

Ella has been begging for ballet classes for approximately 2 years (since we last lived here). When I discovered 3 of her friends attend a local class, and that the cost is only $250 pesos/month (less than $25), I decided we should give it a try.
The first day of class she jumped into the class of 6-9 year olds, she proved she is a natural! She had good form, posture, and keeps her feet turned out like a pro! She is the smallest in her class (although another girl comes close), but she tries hard and really looks forward to class 2 times each week!
POP QUIZ: How do you say "ballet" in Spanish?
Everyone here seems to say it as: "Bah-lett"
I guess they didn't stick with the whole French thing...

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Star Day

The last quarter of school, every child is highlighted on their very own "Star Day." On this special day, the parents of the Star child are invited to come to class and do an activity with the children. Some parents may choose to play a movie, make some crafts, play some sports, etc.

Since my girls love to make beaded jewelry, I died some pasta noodles (super easy and cheap--food coloring and rubbing alcohol!), purchased some stretchy necklace cord, and we made noodle jewelry in both girls' classes.

All of the kids in both classes really seemed to enjoy it (even the boys, which I was a bit worried about)!

Here is Ella and her best bud, Alex (the only other classmate who has 2 Gringo parents). Alex has been living in Mexico for nearly 3 years, and is now fluent in English and Spanish.
The view of Ella's classroom. The kids all wear uniforms--a school polo shirt and navy bottoms of choice (skirt, shorts, pants, or even a dress).
It was kind of funny to see how the different children managed their noodles/beads. This beautiful little girl (with a Barbie doll Mom, I might add...) separated hers by color and type. She was the only one!
In Maiya's class the children tried very hard to bead the noodles. "No puedo," they exclaimed ("I can't"), as the teachers and I assured them they could! With a bit of help, all of the kids managed to walk away with at least una bulsera o collar (a bracelet or necklace).
One of Maiya's best buds, Jimena:
Maiya's teacher helping some of the children glue noodles to a sun clip-art I printed out, just in case some of the kids wanted to do it, too!
A view of Maiya's classroom. This is the youngest group at the school, and some of these children are still in diapers!
Maiya's entire day is in Spanish. She is picking up a lot of the language, and her teachers tell us she seems to understand almost everything.

She has also mastered the Spanish roll of the tongue. It is ridiculous how she applies it, though. She rolls EVERYTHING, even when seemingly impossible.

These are some words she manages to roll (don't ask me how): could, would, hurt
You try it, see if you can pull it off!
When Maiya is playing pretend and talking to herself, she almost always talks in "Spanish." I must put it in quotes, because it is not true Spanish. Sure, I hear plenty of Spanish words, but she also sticks in Spanish-sounding gibberish, too. It is cute to hear her make up words, but have them sound Spanish instead of English.

Also, about 50 times a day Maiya gives us a Spanish translation for a word. If we are talking about a computer keyboard, for example, Maiya would say something like this:

"My teachers say ______" (insert a true Spanish, or made up Spanish-gibberish word).
I applaud her when she is correct, and when I know it is just Spanish-sounding gibberish, I just say, "Oh, Really?", to which she confidently says "Uh-huh!"

Overall, I am hearing both of the girls use much more Spanish, lately (even Ella)! They often respond with simple answers in Spanish...and I am discovering already that they are teaching me! I am so excited for them to be fully bilingual. What a huge blessing and benefit this will be to them in their lives!

Now if only I could manage to become bilingual this quickly, too! How jealous I am! Fortunately, I am understanding more and more, but I really lack the skills and knowledge to put the sentences together (I need to study more). The exciting part is that I now find myself thinking in Spanish...or at least challenging myself to figure out how to say a particular phrase in Spanish...which is a good first step!