Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Milli's in Preschool

First day of school
In her uniform.

I agonized over this decision for a while, but it seems to be working out great. We chose to send her to a school other than the one Riley and Jane go to, called Tohui. It is only a preschool. Ages 18mo to 6 years (Kindergarten is considered preschool here). She has a Spanish and an English teacher. Her English teacher is Brandy, a friend of ours from Colorado. She goes from 8:50am to 1:30pm every day. She's exhausted at the end of the day, but there is so much more peace in our lives. She was so bored at home and had actually regressed in learning her alphabet and other things we worked on last year. She still says she doesn't like it (something she learned from the other kids), but talks about it all the time and seems happy when she's there. I miss her at home, her constant crafts, and playing with Charlie, but this is good.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Back up to around Christmas

I wanted to post about 3 Kings Day. I think it was on January 6th, or 5th. We did our stuff on the 5th, family night. First, there is this bread called Rosca that they sell in the stores. It has dolls of an infant Jesus hidden inside. You cut it open (the cutting is supposed to represent the danger that Jesus was in from King Herod) and whoever finds the dolls is supposed to make tamales in February for Candlemass Day. Not exactly sure what that is yet.

Here were our doll finders: (plus me)Not sure if we'll do the tamales, but you never know. I'd love to know how to make them.

We also read the part of the Christmas story about the wise men. I don't think the kids had ever heard that part before. Except maybe the "We three kings" song.

Also that night, the kids are supposed to put out a shoe for the 3 kings to leave a present in. In some places they do this in place of Santa. We were unprepared, so skipped this part. Hardly needed more presents.

I loved the focus on the Christmas story that this added and of course the extension of Christmas.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The beach in Melanque

We decided to take my parents to the beach while they were here. We had heard good things about Barra de Navidad and Melanque and hadn't been there yet. They are about 1 hour north of Manzanillo. We were recommended another bungalow to stay in in Melanque, but were wary of the bungalows after our last experience. But this one turned out to be great. The rooms weren't new, but they were clean and included all the usual things, towels, TP, drinking water. But it was the grounds that were awesome. We weren't on the beach, but only 2 blocks away. There was a really nice and big pool, restaurant with a good singer at night, ping-pong table, basketball court, tennis courts, and the kids favorite, a playground with merry-go-round. Keep in mind, this is still Mexico so everything is old, but they tried to keep it all clean and nice. The kids slept in the living room on beds we made out of furniture. Milli especially loved her little nook.

We didn't spend as much time at the beach as last time, but it was still heaven for me. Love the sun, sand and water. Almost no waves at this beach. Riley was disappointed; he brought a boogie board this time.
We ate lots of great food.
We were so glad that my parents could come. It was fun to show them all around Ajijic and let them see how we're living. But we miss seeing them more often.

Another Christmas

We had a great week with my parents. They brought with them more presents than the kids got on the real Christmas. :0 Of course the kids couldn't wait to open them. They all got things that they've played with all week long. And mom brought me and Dave tons of American food and spices. Plus our mail and packages we had sent to their house. I don't know how they fit any clothes in their suitcases. At least they had room for all the souvenirs they brought home.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

New Year and Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta is only a 5 hour drive from here, so we knew we wanted to go sometime while we were here and spend some time at the beach. Laura suggested New Year's Eve and that sounded great. We set off about 3pm. We planned to stay in a small village called Lo De Marcos in Nayarit, about 1 hour north of Vallarta. Laura promised it would be quieter than other beaches, especially Vallarta. We arrive around 7pm. Laura knew the owners of some bungalows, so we booked them. The price was a bit high for Mexico, but this is the most popular time for Mexicans to vacation, and it was a big place with 2 bedrooms and a kitchen, right on the beach. Unfortunately, we didn't realize when we booked it that bungalow is not a hotel, which means we had to provide our own towels, toilet paper and anything else we might be used to at a hotel. Disappointing, but would have been ok had the toilets worked. Also one of the 2 showers had no shower head and the hot water was only on if we bugged the manager to turn on the water heater. Dave wanted to change but being a smaller village there weren't a lot of other choices, much less any that were vacant. Laura promise of a quiet beach was great though. We visited a few other beaches and they were all so crowded.

We spent lots of time on the beach. Riley and Jocie loved playing in the surf which was thankfully very mild. Jane wasn't as brave, but enjoyed it too. We built sandcastles and searched the tide pools for fish. One day the local fisherman brought in a net that was full of 3-day-old fish that they couldn't sell so they let the kids throw them to the birds. Dave enjoyed himself reading a lot and taking pictures and video.

One day we went into Vallarta for lunch and a little shopping.

Another day we went to lunch in a nearby town called Sayulita. It was very touristy and crowded, but also looked like lots of fun. Maybe we'll come back and stay there.

Another afternoon we drove to San Blas and took a boat trip down a river to a crocodile nursery and a freshwater spring called La Tovara. Riley and Jocie were the only one's that swam, but they had fun jumping off the rope swing platform (both were too short to reach the actual swing).
It was very relaxing and fun. The kids loved it almost as much as me. I've always loved the beach. We're thinking of taking another beach trip when my parents get here next week. Maybe Manzanillo this time.
Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve is the focus of the Mexican Christmas celebration. We were lucky enough to be invited to a Christmas Eve dinner at Laura's mom house with some of her sisters and their families. She warned me that we would be eating very late and consequently be up late. I said "no problem, we'll stay as long as the kids hold out."

First, we went to the cathedral in Ajijic to see some nativity scenes that they set up there. Some with kids, others with statues and others with real animals, 5 or 6 in all. Laura said that it's been much better in other years.

Then we went to get set up for dinner, about 9pm. We talked and snacked til about 10:30pm and waited for one of the sisters to arrive. She owns a furniture store and keeps her store open late for last minute shoppers. Apparently there are a lot of those. At about 11pm, we sat down to eat. They had ordered in a turkey and sides from somewhere in Guadalajara and the turkey was a pre-cooked one. Very popular here. But it was still frozen inside so we nuked it and ate. I couldn't help but wonder if the sides were traditional or not. Laura said not. There was spaghetti noodles with ham and a white sauce. A cold, refried bean with some kind of fruit mixed in. Mashed potatoes, but no gravy and an apple salad with nuts. Interesting, though not bad. And fruitcake for dessert. None of the Mexicans ate that, so I wondered if it had been bought for our benefit. Yuk.

Then they exchanged gifts. All gifts are given on Christmas Eve, except of course Santa's and some they give later from the 3 wise men. It was fun to see the family exchange and hug and talk. They seemed very close. 6 sisters in the family, but only 4 there that night. 4 of the 6 married gringos, though 2 are divorced now. One of the sisters' husband was there. David, from New Hampshire. He told us a lot about his kids and watch ours a lot. I think he missed his, 4 all grown.

We were supposed to sing hymns, break a pinata and read the Christmas Story from the scriptures, but by now it was almost 1am and let me tell you, I was doing worse than the kids. They were having a blast. Even Charlie. I even tried to get him to cry, so I'd have an excuse to call it a night. Didn't work. But I think Laura could see that I was exhausted and let me know it was ok to go anytime. So we went. Fireworks were being let off outside and we realized we had not been prepared for a late night Mexican Christmas Eve.