Thursday, April 21, 2011

Fashion Diva...

The girls are constantly wanting to put on "shows" for us.

I think Ella might already be a pre-teen! Ahhh!

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

How to occupy children at a birthday party....

Ella had her 6th birthday party last month. I was not about to invite 100+ people over (Mexican style), and instead allowed Ella to choose 5 friends to invite to our house.

Parents don't just drop off their children at parties here, and instead the parents stay for the entire duration! So, it is a fun challenge to try to figure out how to keep children occupied so that parents can visit. A lot of hosts here rent jump houses, but I wasn't about to go find out how much those cost.

So, instead I came up with mix of a treasure hunt and a list of games to play! I had "treasure hunt" clues in a jar ("Sleep tight, Ella!"--the bed "'s cold in here!"--the fridge), and each clue led to a note that told them a game to play. When they were done with the game, they would choose a new clue, and find a new game!

Luckily, one friend's older sibling showed up, and she headed up the treasure hunt/ was hands-free for me!

The kids did races with balloons between their legs....

and games like telephone...

Blindman's Bluff...

And they raced to see who could wrap a mummy the fastest!

The final clue led them to the piñata hiding in the closet.

And after all that was said and done, we unveiled a bunch of balloons for the kids to play with. Ella's friends immediately decided to stomp on them and pop them, which left her in tears. That was not what she had in mind.

Otherwise, a very successful party! do people handle huge parties...5 families was enough for me!

The Circus...

I attended my first circus since my childhood (Mom---did I ever go to a circus? I'm thinking maybe...), and it was quite the experience! This flat empty property became a large circus arena almost overnight. I asked Jared how in the world they could set up these tents, and he suggested they still use elephants (as in the Dumbo movie)....

It was a Mexican ghetto circus...and not a cheap one! We went with some friends from church.

This is Ella with a friend from church (His Dad is a Gringo and Mom is Mexican...she is my first counselor in the Primary).

When deciding to name our boy Ethan, we contemplated how many Ethans there are in the US. It is a very popular name...and I like names to be a bit different, albeit not crazy unique. We finally decided that since we were going to be in Mexico, Ethan would probably be the only Ethan around---no problem!

So, guess what Ella's friend's name is?
Yes, it's Ethan.
:::sigh::: So, there are 2 Ethan's in a ward with less than 20 kids :)

The highlight of the circus was the "Chino Imperial" acrobatic group. In fact, they were pretty much the only highlight (except for the lion trainer...but I feared for his life!). In the below photo the acrobat is about to flip through the top ring. Amazing!

There were also some trashy clowns telling potty jokes (in Spanish, but we could get the gist via their actions), and a few horse and camels doing some trained shows. And that was about it.

Overall, I think I would only attend a circus like this maybe once ever 5 years or so (just so my children can say they've been to a circus before). Not too fantastic as a whole, although I could watch the Chinese acrobats all day!

Birthday Cake

How to make a swirly/colorful birthday cake!

Mix the batter, divide it into bowls, and dye them different colors.

Pour them into the pan

Don't forget some fun swirlies at the end....

And bake! When the cake is cut into, you will see all of the colors!

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I'm constantly amazed by how much work is being done on the Ajijic Malecon each day. They are painting and fixing up the concrete walls, sweeping the cobblestone (daily), watering the lawns, and now redoing some of the cobblestone. Of course, it is all done by hand with a wheelbarrow, shovel, and hand-mixed concrete. I'm always amazed by the art of laying cobblestone! Can you imagine filling a whole road with rocks?!

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Poor boy...

But don't tell him that. He's still happy as can be!

Ella was mad about something...perhaps my insistence that she remove the girls clothes after the photos!
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We purchased a raft from Costco last month, and have enjoyed taking the girls out onto the lake. We pack up the raft in the back of our van, drive down the street and turn the corner, and load it into the lake!

Jared does most of the rowing. I am a pathetic rower (I have found 2 separate paddles simultaneously is very difficult)!

The girls jump out and are allowed to hang on to the side of the raft to swim or float in intertubes.

Even Ethan seems to enjoy the ride!

The lake has to be very calm to actually row somewhere.
We once took the kids out and Jared rowed in place for about an hour until we called it quits!
Hey, it's not a fancy boat...but it's water-worthy!!
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I could eat this baby.

Actually, I could eat all of these kiddos some days!

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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Spring Parade

Ella and Maiya's school had a Spring parade for the parents in March. Like all school events, the parents went all out for decorating the kids bikes and dressing them in costumes:
In comparison, we always look like half-put-together...
The girls rode their scooters and wore some princess dresses.
Here is Ella with her best bud, Alex, who is the only other American in her class. Alex has lived here for 2 1/2 years and is also fluent in Spanish!


I have posted before on this blog to show you my piñata creations. For Ella's birthday, I began to wonder if my pinata creations could possibly match up to the piñatas that are made in Mexico. Before embarking on this difficult task, I decided I should check out the prices of piñatas first.
I was surprised to learn they run between $40 and $45 pesos (yeah, about $4). Hmm...the reason I made my own pinatas in the US was because the pinatas were about $20 each (for cardboard you're just going to beat up?! Give me a break!). In this case, I gave in and let Ella have her pick of the local fare:

She decided she wanted Strawberry Shortcake who was hiding the back room, in need of repair. Her hair and clothes were spotted and bleached from the sun, and she needed some new crepe and tissue paper. I wish this photo showed her condition better. She was sad.
We took her home and did some surgery until she looked like this:
The kids happily beat her to a pulp for Ella's small birthday party (5 friends only).
Happy 6th Birthday, Ella!


For this past Christmas we gave the girls a Jenga game. Can I just say it is an extremely age-appropriate game which we all enjoy playing together?

How not to drive...

Maneuvering down narrow village streets can be tricky. In downtown Ajijic, most of the electric poles next to the street look like this...

El Templo

Through the generosity of friends watching our children, we were able to go to the temple in Guadalajara last month. A High Councilman's wife watched Ethan in Guadalajara, while the girls were picked up from school by our good friends in Ajijic. It was crazy to figure out the baby swap with the High Councilman's wife, because our Spanish-speaking friend who was going to go with us cancelled at the last moment...and we were left to make do with what little communication we could articulate between the two of us. Traffic in Guadalajara is nuts--and resulted in a very long day (6 to 8 million people can do that to you). Overall, Etha
n ended up being without us for nearly 6 hours (fyi--he refuses a bottle). We are hoping to locate someone to babysit him closer to the temple, so he only has to be away from us for 2 or 3 hours!

KFC in Mexico

Would you like some Jalapeño with your mashed potatoes?

Chapala Carnival

We went to the "Chapala Carnaval" (yes, it is spelled that way) last month. We arrived in the late evening just before dark, and found the whole park nearly empty. Vendors were just beginning to set up for the night. One vendor told us the crowds would start around 8pm, and continue until 3am or so. Until the crowds began to arrive, wWe scoped out the animals, got some food, and prepared ourselves for the festivities and mariachi noise!

An almost perfect family picture.... :::sigh:::
The toppings on the table at a burger/hot dog joint:
The rides at the Carnaval weren't nearly as cheap as I remembered from two years ago. This ride was $3, so we just watched the other kids get into these giant balls and roll around on the water. Pretty cool "ride," in my opinion! Most other rides were $10-$15 pesos apiece ($1-$1.50 USD). Yikes!
We have started to give the girls a small allowance. They have a chart they fill out daily--and they get 1/2 a peso for each item they do right that day (clean up, talk nice, don't hit, listen, take a bath, etc). They have a hard time hitting all of those goals, but they love the chart and the bribery does work in shaping up their behavior throughout the day. The money doesn't add up really fast--but every week they might earn $1 to $1.50 or so. They saved up their money for a few weeks to go on rides, and then we also chipped in so they could enjoy some activities.
Their giant bounce-houses are awesome. They usually include multiple levels of trampolines and balls. As always, our children are show-stoppers when we walk around places like this. Hard to hide their pale skin and bright hair!
Maiya really enjoyed driving the ghetto bus.
And let me tell was SOOOO ghetto :)
For the first time ever we let Jared do one of the carnival games to try to win a stuffed animal. He popped a balloon and we thought he had won. But, alas, no reward. I guess we were wrong, and we didn't know the rules. Language barriers!
The highlight of the night was watching the Ballet Folklorico from Guadalajara. They did a small show with traditional Mexican dancing, and all of the kids were glued for quite some time! We saw the performance at night, so it was hard to get a photo. Here's a photo I found online of the dancing with their beautiful and colorful dresses:
I don't have the patience to let my video upload for the predicted 349 hours, so instead I will just link to a video of one of their performances that is already online, here:

Overall, we had a fun (albeit expensive) night out with the kids!!