North America · 182 Days · 297 Moments · February 2018

México 2018

7 August 2018

Stopped for breakfast at Waffle House, yay! Only in the South! It is a 3 hour drive from my parents' to the Atlanta airport and we are making good progress.

6 August 2018

After a night of vomiting and another episode in the car, Alexia fell asleep in the car. That hasn't happened in ages! Poor girl.
We went gem mining! Super fun. My dad's idea. The girls loved it. Alexia found a blue sapphire (yes the dark little rock she is holding in her palm. And my dad treated her to getting it cut into a star sapphire (round but when the light shines on it, it shows a beautiful star).
Girls happily playing.
Jeff before bedtime. A little screen time with Grandpa Stan.

5 August 2018

Dinner at a nice restaurant on a hill with a beautiful view.

4 August 2018

Went to the Recreation Center. Gameroom, ping pong and pool, mini golf, swimming pools and workout rooms.
Some group pictures after dinner.
Went out to a nice dinner.

3 August 2018

Uncle Evan came to visit and brought his new girlfriend, Riho (pronounced Lee-ho). She is lovely.
Went swimming in the lake. Marvelous. Fairfield Lake
Went for a walk/jog in the hills around the lake. Just lovely. It was misty when I went out but quickly cleared up.
Slept in and it felt wonderful. Catching up from all the hecticness of packing.

2 August 2018

Arrived at my parents' lake house. Just lovely!
Mom and Dad picked us up. The timing was perfect. It was raining in Atlanta and so pretty. Naomi said something so nice as we were landing. She said, Mommy, Atlanta is even more beautiful than San Mateo. These girls have traveled so much, they now have opinions about where we go.
Arrived in Atlanta. What a quick and easy flight. Supposed to be 4 hours but we arrived early.
Off to the airport!
Goodbye Ajijic! What a wonderful six months we have had.
Said goodbye to Kathryn and Steve. We are going to miss them so much!!!
Took a few pictures of the house. We packed up as well as we could but still let some things. Thank goodness the cleaning lady Alicia will come and put everything away.

1 August 2018

Alexia came home. She had been with her friend Yolo for the afternoon. We said our goodbyes to the whole family. Lucía, Ulises, Yolo, Ikál and Iktán. We are going to miss them!
Went swimming one more time. Kathryn came and sat by the pool to be with us and so I got to be in the pictures. 😊
Went to the tianguis for the last time. 😥
Last day of art camp for the girls.

31 July 2018

Went for a jog/hike up to the little chapel for the first time. I had never been there and wanted to make sure I got there before we left.

30 July 2018

Went out with my friend, Tamila, for the first time. Saydi let me borrow her clothes since I dont have anything nice. We got dressed up and went to a new restaurant, Bobby' Terraza. The food was amazing and it was wonderful to have a night out with a girlfriend.

29 July 2018

Went to Open Circle with Kathryn and Steve for the first time. It is every Sunday at 10 am at the Lake Chapala Society but I had never had the chance to go. I asked Saydi to work this weekend so I could make the most of my last weekend, and so since she was with the kids, I got to go to Open Circle. It was very nice. And then Kathryn and Steve treated me to lunch at Cocinart. One of my favorite restaurants.
I love the juxtaposition of the breathtaking landscape and the Brick walls with barbed wire on top. Mother nature's mountains, lakes, greenery vs. Manmade structures like brick walls, barbed wire, electrical poles and cords.
Went for a jog/hike in the mountains early in the morning. I'm going to miss these mountains and the lake. So breathtaking.

28 July 2018

Watching an episode while waiting for the hail storm to subside. Then Yolo and Ikál's parents came to pick them up.
Met our friends at art. Yolo, Ikál and also played with Leila (Tamila's daughter). Yolo and Ikál came back with us to the house to spend the afternoon. I'm going to miss them. They are really sweet kids.
Walked to art class. Our last Saturday in Ajijic. I'm so sad to leave. We finally have met some really nice people and are just settling in. But as Mom said to me, "Blessings brighten as they take their flight."

27 July 2018

Headed back to Ajijic. Had lunch, took an Uber to the Central Antigua and waited for the bus to Ajijic. About 1.5 hours later, we were home.
We escaped! With just under 5 minutes to spare. The theme was Hansel and Gretel. It was the first time I was ever blindfolded. Guided into the room and when we opened our eyes, Naomi and I were in a cage and Alexia and Saydi had their ankles shackled to a hook on the wall. The first challenge was to get ourselves out. We found clues to figure out how to do the combination locks and then get keys to unlock the cage and ankle shackles. Pretty cool! Then on to search for the clues to get the recipe for the magic potion that would turn the evil witch from bad to good. Lots of tricky puzzles (acertijos) but we emerged in the end. It was super fun. Naomi got a little scared of the dark room and the strange sounds, but she did great. Alexia had no problem. And the gamemaster was very helpful when needed. A good experience all around.
Went to Guadalajara to do an Escape Room.

26 July 2018

Took the girls swimming just before the dark clouds moved in.
I picked up Ariana and Charlotte from camp. Got some paletas de uva (grape popsicles) and walked home.

25 July 2018

Went for a run in San Antonio just before bed. The sun was setting and the moon rising. So lovely.
We were invited back to Gabi and Juan's house to see where they live. They live near the seis esquinas (six corners) and have a lovely small house on the same plot of land as many if Gabi's siblings and aunts and uncles.
Picking limes at the party. Naomi found a new little friend she was taking very good care of. (Mario's granddaughter Sofía).
Group pictures from my English Class party.
Invited them to my end of class party for my English class students and their families. It was a wonderful party. We all brought food. American food. We did hamburgers, potato salad and root beer floats. Yum!
Bumped into a friend, Carly, after camp. Her kids, Noah and Thea, are at the day camp with Charlotte. Alexia and Naomi went for one day and then we all went to the Wednesday tianguis together afterward.

24 July 2018

Helped out my friend, Tamila, and picked up her two kids (Dominic and Leila) from the day camp. And Ariana came, too! Then we went to eat lunch at La Plaza restaurant on the Plaza.
Starting to clean up all the toys and figure out what is going to fit in our suitcases.

23 July 2018

My last English class.

22 July 2018

After Ariana left, Charlotte said she wanted to go swimming. And funny, I had been thinking the same thing. So we went. Perfect weather. Not too hot, but just right.
Got home. Girls played nicely. Made crepes. Yum.
We took Ariana with us for the afternoon. Returned the car, walked to get fresh juice from Señor David, and then lunch at Tacos Suzy. We actually saw Selene with her family and chatted for a little. We invited Selene to our house to play but she was a little shy and decided not to come.
Since we had the car for a few more hours, on Sunday morning we went to pick up Ariana at her grandma, Eva's house. She lives in Chula Vista with stunning views of the lake.

21 July 2018

We gave a ride to a nice family. I was telling them how we have the car for 24 hours and so might as well use it. They were going to walk and take the bus home but were very happy to accept the ride. We piled in and barely fit, but hey, it's Mexico! Took the slow cobblestone backroads about a mile and dropped them off. They live near the elementary school. And their kids went there (go there) but in the afternoon session.
Charlotte and I went to Selene's birthday party. Alexia and Naomi were too tired and opted to stay home and play and watch iPad. Since we had the car, it was so nice to just drive over to the party and not have to walk. Haha! It was close by in San Antonio in a lovely outdoor space. As with most Mexican parties, it lasted for many many hours. We actually arrived super late because of being in Guadalajara, but Selene's mom, Ruth, said to come by anytime, that they would be going strong into the night. We arrived just in time for the four piñatas. Yes. Four! Then the kids played some more and they we did cake and then the kids played some more and they they handed out the goodie bags (which consisted on more candy to take home).
A happy reunion with the girls. They seemed exhausted and after we ate and got ice cream, Naomi fell asleep on the ride home. What a relief.
Charlotte and I drove up to Guadalajara to pick up Alexia and Naomi from camp. We arrived super early and had over an hour to play in the park. Lovely.

20 July 2018

Rented a car so that we could drive to Guadalajara to pick up Alexia and Naomi from their 2nd camp. We asked Matías, our driver, but he already had a full day fare.

19 July 2018

Went on an amazing hike into the mountains. Can't believe we have been here almost 6 months and this is the first time I hiked in the mountains. So breathtaking.

17 July 2018

Went to Chapala to take care of business. Haircut, teeth cleaning and breast exam. All good. All three places for less than $1,000 pesos (about $50). That's how much it would have cost for me to get a haircut alone in San Mateo.

16 July 2018

More pictures of Charlotte at her day camp. All last week. She is having a great time!
Pictures of Charlotte at her day camp. First week (all last week). I realized they post pictures on their Facebook page, so here are some of the ones with Charlotte in them.
Pictures of pictures of Naomi from the first camp (La Cañada) last week. Horsebackriding camp. I got convinced to buy the picture package.
Pictures of pictures of Alexia from the first camp (La Cañada) last week. Horsebackriding camp. I got convinced to buy the picture package.
Dropped off the girls at the meeting point for camp number 2. Acámpolis. The meeting point was lovely. The two red towers in the Parque Metrapolitano de Guadalajara. Wow. Really nice, upscale, very large park in Zapopan (a wealthy part west of Guadalajara). Lots of organized exercise groups doing Crossfit and other types of classes. I felt like we could have been in Central Park in NY with all the fancy people and clothes. Whew!

15 July 2018

Went swimming in the pool next door.
We had one day all four of us. Went to the movies to see Hotel Transylvania 3. Apparently I hadn't seen the other two movies, but it was easy to follow. And actually a pretty entertaining movie. Monsters go on a cruise. What fun!
They got their things together and we got ready to head out. What a beautiful camp.
Alexia was in cabin number 5.
A worker helped us find the girls' cabins. Naomi was in number 2 and happy to see me.
Went directly to La Cañada to pick up the girls from camp. Much closer than the meeting point in Guadalajara. We had to leave Ajijic at 6:30 am to make sure we arrived before the buses left at 8 am. We got there at 7:15 am no problem. Charlotte and I walked around the camp grounds and it was stunning. With the sun rising, it gradually got more light and a little warmer, but it was still very chilly. All the cabins were still quiet with sleeping campers.

14 July 2018

After a full day with me, the girls went to Ariana's grandma's house to swim and play some more. What endurance they have!
Mayra and Ariana came to art class for the first time. Then I stayed and watched the kids. They did a little art and then went off the feed the fish. They played for a long time with rolly pollies (puerquitos) making families. So cute. We then left, went to the malecón, the playground and got ice cream. Then took the bus to west Ajijic to M&J Royal Pizza. Yum. Then took the bus back to the house, played a little more, and then Mayra's mom, Eva, came to pick up Ariana. I was exhausted, but Charlotte asked if she could go to the grandma's house and she said yes.

13 July 2018

We went to dinner with Kathryn. Tp Centro Laguna and then shopping at Walmart. Charlotte was delighted to find a pile of stuffed animals that they were getting ready to sort.
Took the girls swimming. Ariana is a super strong swimmer, and Charlotte was enthusiastic to keep up. They both did a bunch of laps (the width of the pool) swimming back and forth. Happy girls.
We got a person to come and clean our septic tank. It was unbelievable. The level of muck was almost up to the ground. And our front bathroom ever since February hadn't smelled good. Once he finished sucking it all up, there was nothing left in there to see. Just a big hole super deep. We share our septic tank with the other six houses in our condominium. With two houses uninhabitable, that leaves four to share the cost. It was $1,600 pesos total (about $85 USD) so we each paid $400 pesos. I am thrilled. We will see if the smell goes away. While he was working, the entire outside and house smelled awful. We took advantage and poured cucaracha poison down into the septic tank and around the opening at the top. Yippee!!!
I picked up Charlotte and Ariana from camp on Friday at 2 PM. We went to lunch, then ice cream, and made it all the way home walking. It was sunny and a little hot, but we did it.
Charlotte heading to day camp. She has walked there every morning this week with Saydi. One mile each way.

12 July 2018

A picture of Naomi at camp! This week, they are at Campamento La Cañada, which is an equestrian camp on the other side of the mountains. Between Ajijic and Guadalajara.

11 July 2018

Samantha and Ginny head to the airport with Matías driving them. What a wonderful visit it was. I'm going to miss them.
Another beautiful hairdo by Saydi.

10 July 2018

Met up with Samantha and Ginny for dinner in the Plaza.
Lots of baby birds this time of year. And many find homes in the most unusual places. A nest under the roof above a doorway.
Picked up Charlotte at her day camp. They hopped on the bus to get home. Usually she walks, but when the bus drove right in front of us, we made a quick decision to catch a ride. 7 pesos for me (under 50 cents) and Charlotte rides free!
Went to Cafe de la Casa on Colón, the main drag. Got delicious nachos with guacamole.
Went hiking with Samantha and Ginny. There is an Ajijic hiking group that meets every Tuesday and Friday across from Donas Donuts.

9 July 2018

Last day of school for the elementary school Francisco Márquez. Well, just the parents had to go to pick up report cards and pay outstanding class balances. Can't believe we have been here for five months already. Now that we have tickets going back in August, I'm feeling emotional about leaving in one month. Snif. And with Alexia and Naomi freshly off at sleepaway camp, I'm missing them too.

8 July 2018

Alexia and Naomi are off to camp! Matías, our driver, drove us to the meeting point in Guadalajara. Funny, I have coordinated with him a dozen times about picking up other people, but this was the first time we were in his car. Naomi and Charlotte both napped on the way. We arrived super early this time (as opposed to camp Valle Verde for Semana Santa). People started showing up in droves. There were four buses (vs two last time). Apparently there are about 120 kids going, split evenly between girls and boys.

7 July 2018

I met up with Samantha and Ginny several times. They were shopping on Ocampo in Ajijic and Samantha found more amazing rings. Went to a nice cafe in which 8 had never been before. And of course, the beautiful murals everywhere.
Studying how to make slime. Saydi spent the afternoon with Alexia and Naomi. Charlotte went to Ariana's after the escolta for a long playdate. The slime didn't actually turn out good, despite them following all the directions, proportions and procuring the right ingredients. Alas, they had fun and as always, a good learning experience. In life, sometimes things don't work out the way you hope, even if you follow all the directions.
We finished around noon. Stuffed from a delicious breakfast. A nice picture of me, the girls, Mayra and Ariana. And also a super cute selfie of Saydi and the girls.
Pictures of the Escolta. The procession. First the 3rd grade of Kinder processed with the Mexican flag and anthem. Then they ceremonially passed the flag to Charlotte's class, the 2nd grade of Kinder. Then Ariana held the flag and the 2nd graders marched with it around to end up in front of the Directora (principal) who asked if they were ready to honor the flag as they become the new 3rd graders. They all said yes. Soooo cute! Then Charlotte received her diploma and the principal said some nice words about her. How Charlotte had arrived in February not speaking Spanish and how now she not only understands everything, but can speak, not just words, but full sentences. And how Charlotte's character is coming out with her ability to express how she feels and what she wants and needs.
La Escolta at El Bambú Restaurant. There must have been over 100 people in attendence. We paid a very reasonable amount for a full buffet brunch. And had our own reserved table.
On our way to la escolta, Charlotte's end of year school celebration.

6 July 2018

Samantha arrived. She and her mom, Ginny, flew in from Florida. They are doing a special mother-daughter trip and also checking out Ajijic because it is a possibility to move down Samantha's uncle to live here.
Alexia and I had a special mother-daughter day. We took the bus to Zapopan (Guadalajara) and went to the Tianguis del Sol. Did a lot of shopping, walking, taking buses and Ubers and by the end of the day we were exhausted. I fell asleep on the Uber ride home. Alexia played with her new Ksi-merits dolls. She was in heaven.

5 July 2018

Charlotte's hairdo!

3 July 2018

Last day of swimming. I even went in the pool. And Charlotte decided to do a bunch of swimming from edge to edge without the noodle. She said for me to come see and then once I took the video, she said to send it to Grandma Bernice, Grandma Rena, Grandpa Stan and Grandpa Rick so they could watch the video of her swimming. :)
Naomi and Dana joined Charlotte at preschool for a couple hours this morning. They were super excited!

2 July 2018

Charlotte's first play date at Ariana's house. First, Mayra picked them up at school and took them to Blue Bell's ice cream. And then to their house to play and have a snack. So exciting!
Monday tianguis in Chapala!

1 July 2018

We went to lunch at Pizzeria Toscana
We went to the movies and saw the Incredibles 2. Again!
Hanging out at the house.

30 June 2018

We went swimming next door.
We took Ian and Dana and Martin to our regular Saturday art class at the Lake Chapala Society from 10 am to 12 pm. At 11 am, they had the awards ceremony for the contest winners. Alexia won honorable mention for her watercolor. Received a certificate, a reprint of her painting, a card and $100 pesos. She was so proud. Then we all had cupcakes and cake.

29 June 2018

Ariana and Charlotte playing imaginatively by their tree.
The kids went swimming next door. And we successfully made raspado. A chunk of ice, an ice scraper and fresh made strawberry syrup.
Lunch at Chile Verde and then ice cream at Chaps and Michoacana.
At the malecón and on the beach. The kids found a dead fish and did some dissection. Then collected more bones and fossils to take home. Pretry cool.
Friday morning, first thing, we went to the playground and then horsebackriding! Dana was so nice to say Charlotte could go with her. Ian was a little scared but he made it the whole way. Just a half an hour, but the right amount of time. We dismounted at the malecón (boardwalk).
Ian, Dana and Martin arrived. We were all super excited. We inflated the blow-up air mattress in the living room and Saydi flew back to Merida, so we could all stay with us.

28 June 2018

Fresh made strawberry raspados.
The 6th grades showed off their science experiments and exhibits. Each class got to go through the library and the 6th graders did a great job explaining their projects. Here, this student made a rocket ship. Pretty cool!

27 June 2018

Dance rehearsal for the end of year school performance. It was soooo rainy, half the school didn't come. I messaged the group that we weren't going to go since it was raining so hard and we don't have a car and there were no Ubers available. Another parent took pity on us and very graciously came a gave us a ride.
Torrential downpours. The rain usually stopped before sunrise, but this morning, it kept going. Since we do not have any rain gear, we made a makeshift rain slicker for Charlotte out of a bright blue plastic bag. She wrote her name on it and drew a big smiley face.
Saydi does such an amazing job with Charlotte's hairdo every morning. All the Mexican girls have their hair pulled back beautifully and Charlotte fits right in.

23 June 2018

A fun day. Play date all day with Ikál and Yolo.

22 June 2018

What animal is it? Mosaic on our walk to school.
Nighttime routine. Adorable sisters cuddling together. Hmm. Now, to find a little spot for me. ;)

21 June 2018

Fourth grade lining up to go home for the day.

20 June 2018

Yolo and Alexia writing on my board after school. They love drawing on the board.

18 June 2018

Avispa! I finally learned the word for wasp. Not to be confused with Abuja, or bee. Wasps can sting many times as they keep their stingers, whereas bees can only sting once because their stinger stays in their victim. And thus their life ends. Alas.

17 June 2018

Back to the Plaza and more ice cream, of course!

16 June 2018

Dinner at Cafe Adelitas in San Antonio.
Malecón, ice cream and then back to the hotel room for more Trouble. And reading books.
Art class at the Lake Chapala Society.
Got up early and walked over to join them for breakfast. Beautiful view of the lake from the breakfast patio. And an even better view from their balcony roon.

15 June 2018

Went to see Grandma Rena and Grandpa Rick's hotel room at La Nueva Posada. Very nice. Alexia gave us massages and Grandma Rena brought trouble. The game. Haha!
Ice cream at the Plaza. Yum!
Yes, real peacocks at the restaurant.
Grandma Rena and Grandpa Rick came to visit! We went out to eat at the Peacock Garden.
A wagon wheel for a window. Walking to school a new way, we have recently been discovering new things. Fun!

13 June 2018

We went to the tianguis and took Yolo and Ikál with us. Then met Saydi and Charlotte there.
Final exams! I gave my students all the topics that will be on the exam. Many of them understood. Some, not so much. Alas.

11 June 2018

Ariana came over after school for a play date. We have been having her over a lot and Charlotte loves it.

9 June 2018

Alexia at Kathryn's doing a pop up card to give to Grandma Rena for birthday when she comes.
Saydi showing the girls how to do something on YouTube.:)
On Skype with Grandma Rena.

31 May 2018

Went out to dinner, just me and Kathryn and Steve.
Getting my classroom ready to teach English at Alexia and Naomi's school for the month of June. Yay! Here is a picture of the staff at the school.

30 May 2018

Third and final stop, Parque Agua Azul, just next to the museum. The kids played at the playground. We bought them all ice cream and snacks and water. And we just hung out. By then I was exhausted. Eventually, we walked back to meet the bus. And even though we walked pretty far to find a good spot to be picked up, we still got pulled over by the traffic police. Argh. Several parents got off to talk with them, including Yolo and Ikál's mom, Maestra Lucía, who is the 3rd grade teacher. The police scolded them for letting us board the kids on a busy street. They threatened to confiscated the bus, but finally let us go after the driver handed them a 500 peso bill (about $25 USD). Seems really sketchy and not cool to me, but hey, this is Mexico. I've heard a lot worse can happen with corrupt police officers. So we each chipped in 40 pesos on the ride back to collect enough money to reimburse the driver a d give him a small tip.
Second stop was the Paleontology Museum. It was fascinating. The museum was donated fully by an individual with his private collection. The wooly mammoth bones were found in Lake Chapala near Ajijic just about 20 years ago! So cool. We ate lunch in the auditorium. We had all pitched in some money and one of the mom's made a chicken pasta salad. Yum!
A group picture. There were 25 kids and about 16 adults. Most of the kids are in 1st grade, but some siblings came along. So I decided to have Alexia come because I thought it would be a good opportunity to have a nice educational outing. Her friend, Yolo, came too, so it worked out and we all had a great time.
More fun workshops and exhibits.
First stop: Trompo Magico. A children's museum which means "Magic Top." Lots a great hands-on science exhibits and workshops.
Naomi got her hair done in a nice braid by one of the moms, Monica.
First grade field trip to Guadalajara! The bus pulled up and I was laughing inside my head. Looked like a bus from a long time ago. Haha! But we made it ok.

29 May 2018

Walking to school one morning, the girls were carrying on a lovely conversation. So sweet. Bookbags missing from the picture because I was possibly carrying them. Haha!

28 May 2018

After four months of living here, I just discovered this stand. They boil fresh vegetables and serve them hot. And you can have them put on cream, cheese, salt, chili and lime if you'd like. Amazing! And a plate full only costs $35 pesos (less than $2 USD!!!).

26 May 2018

We went swimming next door. Our neighbors, Betty and Hank, are so welcoming. They even gave us extra shirts for the girls' friends. Alexia didn't go swimming. She stayed back in the house and took a nap. Turns out she had a fever. Poor girl.
The girls' friends, Yolo and Ikál, came with us afterwards and spent the afternoon with us. We went to lunch at La Plaza restaurant just off the Plaza. Then to Chaps for ice cream. And then walked home and the kids got to watch a movie.
We went to art class and stayed for chess at LCS (the Lake Chapala Society)

25 May 2018

We went to Kathryn's to show Jeff all her beautiful artwork and her mural.
We left the house.
We did some karaoke on Youtube.
Jeff came to visit for Memorial Day Weekend. He was very touched that the girls had made a cake. 😊

24 May 2018

They made a cake for Jeff! Impressive. It was Saydi's idea. Yesterday, they researched recipes, made a list, went to Walmart to buy ingredients, etc. And we even borrowed a few things from Kathryn. This morning, they woke up extra early to put the frosting on and voila! The only challenge was that it took a really long time to bake because our oven doesn't really close fully and heat comes out of the sides as well. The wooden cabinets were way hotter than I thought was appropriate, so that may be the first and last time we use the oven. But that's ok. What a wonderful project.

23 May 2018

PE class (parent participation) followed by a parent meeting to discuss and plan the field trip we are going to go on. After discussing many options and calling several places, we decided on going to two museums in Guadalajara and doing a picnic lunch in the park in between. Very exciting. We will see how it goes.

20 May 2018

Saydi took Alexia to Guadalajara on the bus and they had a fantastic day together. We brainstormed the night before and discussed with Alexia (and Naomi, who decided to join Charlotte at preschool instead). There is the zoo, the aquarium, the museums, etc. Alexia said she wanted to go shopping! Saydi said there is a big tianguis (market) in Zapopan on Fridays and so they did that, ate out and went to the movies. What a treat. By the time they got home around 9 pm, we were all fast asleep.

19 May 2018

Then I had all six kids and we left LCS and went to lunch at M&J Royal Pizza. Yum! The kids and I ate every last bite of two pizzas and a salad. Then we continued walking home and had the kids over our house. What a lucky surprise that Iktán stayed so that Charlotte had someone close to her age. Their parents came to pick them up around 6 pm and I felt good that the girls had had a full day with their friends. Then we had a nice dinner and watched a new show on Netflix - The Worst Witch. Not as good as our favorite series, Just Add Magic, but still good.
Art class at LCS (Lake Chapala Society). We invited Yolo, Ikal and their little brother Iktán. They all came and really enjoyed it.

18 May 2018

Charlotte had her friend, Ariana, come over for the first time. And it was Ariana's first playdate ever! The girls had a great time. Naomi actually decided to go to preschool with Charlotte on Friday (there was no school for her). She had so much fun. The teacher told me she was surprised how talkative Naomi was compared to how quiet and shy Charlotte usually is in class. Charlotte asked if Naomi can go back to play with her at school again. So sweet!
Went for a nice long walk by myself. Bumped into John Wade, my neighbor from Canada who just moved out and is staying for a few nights at a hotel in the village. Walked down the malecon. So beautiful. Talked on the phone with Rena :). Made it home all sweaty and hot. Time to drink water and my fresh squeezed juice!

17 May 2018

Yolo and Alexia did a creative project at Yolo's house and made a gift for their teacher. They were thrilled to bring it in and give it to him. Earlier this week was Día del maestro, Teacher's Day.

16 May 2018

Alexia and Naomi had their first play date where they went to some one else's house to play (without me!). Alexia's friend, Yolotzin, and her brother, Ikal, who happens to be in 1st grade with Naomi, live in Chapala and had them over all afternoon. Their mother is Maestra Lucía, the 3rd grade teacher at the school. And the kids are very sweet. They had a great play date.
Naomi's first grade teacher had a parent meeting for the 4th parking period. Her teacher is really good and Naomi is doing really well.

15 May 2018

No school on Tuesday (for Teacher's Day). We had a leisurely morning working on homework and then Saydi took the girls to Chapala to go shopping. We thought about taking them to Tobolandia, the water park, but then since it got so late, we offered that they could each use the 90 pesos (5 dollars) shopping instead. They used their funds for snacks and food and then went to a beauty supply store. Happy girls!

14 May 2018

Our first group playdate! With both Alexia and Naomi inviting friends over to our house. After weeks of feeling frustrated about not knowing how to do it, I spoke with Saydi and she said that when she was a kid, unlike in America where the parents organize play dates, she and her friends would plan their own play dates. So, I told the girls to pick a friend and invite her over. And it worked! What a lovely play date.

13 May 2018

Skype call with Grandma Rena, yay!
Kathryn came to Alexia and Naomi's smoothie shop. Alexia made her a pineapple mango smoothie all by herself and it was very tasty. Then Kathryn and I went to the movies and saw Overboard, the remake. Silly but cute. We enjoyed it.

12 May 2018

Art class on Saturdays from 10 am to 12 pm at the Lake Chapala Society. A local artist brought his art and showed the kids how he does it. Pretty neat. Then we went to the entrance to buy fruit. They sell it there every day and the fruit is so delicious. The girls chose blackberries. Yum!
Horsebackriding with Kathryn, Steve and their friend Robert who was visiting from Savannah. What fun!
Waiting at the park for Pancho, my horse guy! I called him to reserve 6 horses for 1 hour each (100 pesos per hour per horse - so under $6 per hour!) I said 9 am, and he came at 9:15 am. Pretty good for Mexican time. ;)

11 May 2018

Lipstick for everyone! Even on Saydi's arm. Lots of kisses and giggles.
On the bus back from Chapala. We went to CFE (Comision Federal de Electricidad) and after 2 hours got nothing done. As usual, haha! Then we went to Soriana, the supermarket, and bought toilet paper, paper towels, etc. Carried everything back on the bus. Good thing we had three sets of arms to carry it all.
Naomi's Class's Mother's Day Celebration.
On the way to the Mother's Day celebration at Alexia and Naomi's school. Alexia did face painting for some of the kids. She is so good!

10 May 2018

Charlotte's preschool's Mother's Day Celebration. She decided not to participate and I support her choice. I was sad not to see her dance with her group, but feel it takes a strong will to stand up in life for what you want (or don't want) and go against the current. So many times in life kids are forced to do things they don't want to, and we grow up conflicted as adults. Children seem to have less confusion and guilt.

9 May 2018

Alexia invited Soyuri over to play. Her first playdate with a Mexican friend at our house. I'm so proud!
I love going to the market (the tianguis). Chapala on Mondays and Ajijic on Wednesdays. I haven't yet tried the others on other days in other towns but have heard they are good, too.
Gym class on Wednesdays for first grade. Parent participation required. And it is a lot of fun! This session we are doing basketball. And one excerice was for the kids to team up and protect that ball like their baby while the parents tried to steal it away. Whew!

8 May 2018

Naomi's gymnastics class. She is doing well, and more importantly, is excited about going. She has class on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons and because we have Saydi, I am able to have special time with Naomi. We go, just the two of us and catch the bus together.
Walking home from school. The girls were ahead of me side by side and I had one of those proud moments where they appear so mature, I can picture them like that, years from now, just hanging out with each other walking and talking.

6 May 2018

Huevos sorpresa! We did a craft project and made our own surprise eggs for the first time. We have bought them many times at the malecón, and this time we made them. First we had to empty out the eggs. Then wash and let them dry. Then we painted the outside. And then filled them with confetti and closed them up with a piece of tissue paper and glue. And voila!
Watching iPad. Doing some Karaoke on YouTube. Pretty cool!
Horsebackriding again! Alexia and Naomi went with just Pancho for a stroll. Charlotte didn't want to go, so we stayed back at the house.
Our lovely neighbors gave us a plate of ripe fruit. The couple is Mexican and she is 86 and he is 91. They stay at home mostly and have visitors (some of their kids) come sometimes. Mangos, pineapple and mini bananas. We ate them all up.

5 May 2018

Having fun at the malecón. What a beautiful boardwalk, park and lake.
Playing at the skate park. In the giant bowl. I'm too scared to go down in there for fear that I won't be able to get out. We have seen kids get stuck. Charlotte and I enjoy watching Alexia and Naomi.
Exercise machines on the lake.
Horsebackriding fun! With Pancho.

4 May 2018

Ice cream and raspados (shaved ice). Our favorite!

3 May 2018

Grandma Rena's letter arrived. It only took six weeks! My friend said some her letters take eight weeks, but those are from Bufallo, NY, so maybe the extra two weeks is getting from NY to NJ. Haha! Or maybe we just got lucky.

2 May 2018

Happy girls all ready for bed and getting to watch a "capitulo" or one episode of something on Saydi's laptop.

1 May 2018

Alexia's portraits of Kathryn side by side. The one on the right was done a few weeks before the one on the left.
Painting outside with Saydi. So nice to be back in our house in Mexico!
We are back in Mexico. Nice to be home. Again. 😊 Guess who fell asleep just as we were landing!?! Charlotte is so cute.
On our way back to Mexico! Made it through security and are on the plane ready to take off. Yippee!!!

30 April 2018

Dinner at Little China Kitchen. Our favorite!
We visited Grandma Rita and she was very quiet. But did speak when we did a Skype call with Uncle Robert. She said, "Oh, that's Robert. I love him very much! Oh, I love him." She smiled and then she was quiet again. She ate some chocolate covered almonds, was very calm and then we said goodbye.
We picked up my Dad from swimming at the Y and then went to my Grandma Rita's.
We had a wonderful day with Jeff on Monday. He did music with the girls, we went to the dentist (A and N got their teeth cleaned) and then went to pick up my Dad at the Y.

29 April 2018

Hosted our Havurah. Ian and Dana came, too. We walked to Beresford Park and then went home and sang happy birthday to Sivan.

28 April 2018

Playdate with friends. Naomi had Sterling, Charlotte had Olive and then Alexia went to Cecelia's house. First, we all went to the Lego club activity at the mall. Then, took Alexia to her friend's and her off. Then, went to a burrito place (can't actually get burritos in Mexico and I was craving one). And I spoke Spanish. Fun! Then, we went home and kids had a couple more hours to play before they were picked up.

27 April 2018

We visited their old classrooms. Naomi, her first grade class with Maestra Pati and Alexia, her fourth grade class with Maestro Castellanos. They were so happy to visit and the kids were ecstatic to see them.

26 April 2018

Arrived at SFO. California, here we are!
Good thing we arrived 2 hours early at the airport. Took a long time but we are on the plane! Yay!
On the way to the airport to visit Jeff and Grandma Bernice and Grandpa Stan. Yippee!

25 April 2018

Kathryn and I went to the movies and had a wonderful time. Wednesday is 2 for 1, so instead of 50 pesos, it was 25 each (under $2)!!!
Walking to my English class, I took Camino Real where the horses are and the light was coming in so nicely I took this picture. Then went to teach my class and took a picture of the mansion. Stunning. A nice American woman who has lived in Ajijic for 18 years, hired me to teach English to her cleaning lady and three of her children. They are doing really well, I'm so proud of them. English is a hard language to learn!

22 April 2018

Our friend and neighbor, Kathryn, patiently posed for Alexia to do her portrait. Kathryn is the one who lent Alexia an amazing book on drawing portraits and Alexia has been studying it and doing some impressive portraits.

18 April 2018

Wednesday morning, Samantha and I walked Alexia and Naomi to school and then went to the tianguis.

17 April 2018

Samantha arrived! Met at her at the airport, no problem. We walked back to the highway to catch the bus. Had a lovely ride on the bus. It even stopped in a couple little towns along the way that I had never seen before. Then we went to lunch and headed home to see the girls. We inflated the brand new queen size air mattress and it worked. Cozy and comfortable.
I took the bus and then walked less than a mile from the highway to the airport to pick up Samantha. What a pretty pedestrian bridge. It was so easy, I arrived an hour early!

7 April 2018

Pictures from camp. We go pick up the girls today at 3 PM in Sante Fe. Can't wait!

5 April 2018

Third round of pictures from camp. Love how they keep posting pictures regularly and how Alexia and Naomi are in some of them. Yay!
After 5 hours at the museum, I was ready to go home. Charlotte would have stayed longer, but I was exhausted. We took the same bus home, having to climb up a zig zag pedestrian ramp to get over the highway to take the bus back the other way. Arrived at Sevilla and took a picture of this pretty structure.
We made ice cream in a little bag by shaking it in ice and salt. Then we left the older kids activity area (ages 6 and up) and went back downstairs. We were going to go to the play supermarket but then Charlotte spotted the Lego area. We stayed there for an hour. By then, it was starting to get crowded. We went to the food court to eat and then back to the museum to play in the smaller ages 3-5 only section. That was amazing with a lot of activities and guides. This is by far the best children's museum I have been to. The quality of the hands-on activities and the gentle and inquisitive nature of the guides was impressive. They roped off each activity and only let a couple kids in at a time and did one-on-one questioning and attention. Alexia and Naomi would love this museum. If we come back to Mexico City, this is definitely going to be top of the list.
We arrived early at the children's museum and it was amazing. For the first two hours, there were very few people there. We were able to do a ton of hands on activities. We build a tower out of foam blocks. We made a pretty design with a pendulum. We made a rocket ship that would hover in a wind tunnel. We made a superhero Cape. And we made paper from pulp.
On Thursday, Charlotte and I went to the Papalote Children's Museum in Chapultepec Park. We took the bus and got there in no time.

4 April 2018

We went to Xochimilco. And went on a boat on the floating gardens. Trajinera. So much fun!
We had lunch at Coyoacán in one of the squares. Lovely. We bought the kids bracelets with their names on them. The man made them for them right then. And the kids got to watch and learn. Pretty cool. Then we got in the tour van and headed to Xochimilco.
We went to the Frida museum. We got lucky getting there early because after waiting in line, there were hundreds of people. Our tour guide said we lucked out walking through the rooms and the gardens and having so few people. That usually it is much more crowded. By the time we left it was mobbed.
We walked through the two main plazas (yes there are two side by side). They are beautiful. Then we met up with Lori and Ray and kids and went to the Frida museum.
Charlotte and I decided to meet Lori and Ray and kids at Coyoacán, a lovely town at the southern part of Mexico city, where Frida Kahlo lived. We took the Metro and then a little bus to the town center.
More pictures from Camp Valle Verde! Here are the ones that Alexia and Naomi are in. Other pictures had water skiing on the gorgeous lake, archery and arts & crafts. Looks like they are keeping busy.

3 April 2018

Pictures from camp! Yippee! They posted some pictures and Naomi is in two of them and Alexia is in one. I'm so relieved to see them looking ok. And the kids and counselors look like nice happy people.
Walking home, we went right past the Four Seasons Hotel. So I told Charlotte we had to take a picture and show Grandma Rena and Grandpa Rick. Right across from the park!
We exited the zoo into the park and there were tons of vendors set up with food, drinks and more tchotchkes! After getting ice cream, I told Charlotte she could pick one thing to buy, just one. After careful selection, she chose the mermaids, las sirenas. Then we kept walking and headed towards the exit of the big park. We saw a beautiful monument. El monumento de los niños heroes.
Charlotte and I went to the zoo. El zoológico de Chapultepec in the nearby park. Just a couple miles away, we took the bus part of the way there, then had to walk a bunch through the park to get to the zoo. We went through one section of the zoo and saw many animals sleeping. Apparently it was nap time. Haha! A few were moving around slowly.
French toast and cantelope for breakfast. Then a Skype call with Grandma Rena, yay!

2 April 2018

We took the Metro home. The green line two stops and then the pink line four stops to Sevilla. Bought some fresh watermelon. Charlotte got excited today about taking pictures and she took some really good ones. Then we traded and I got to take her picture, that's why there are a bunch of pictures of just me or just her. Pretty cool.
We met up with Lori, Ray, Samantha, Noah and Yeiyei (what the kids call him because that is the name for the paternal grandpa in chinese). We walked through Alameda Park and then happened upon a book fair (Feria de Libros). Bought some toys for the kids. Yeiyei is very generous and has treated the kids (including mine) to all sorts of little toys. They love it. On the other end of the park is the Palacio de Bellas Artes. It is a beautiful building. Then Charlotte and I were done and ready to leave. We said our goodbyes and we walked around a little more just the two of us before heading to the Metro.
We went to Alameda Park, which is really nice. They had a bunch of vendors setting up (it was still early). Normally they only have vendors on weekends and one weekday, not Monday, but they were there today because of Semana Santa. Charlotte got a nieve (ice cream) that was still partially liquid. They told us they weren't ready yet, but we didn't mind. They needed to add the ice and salt around the metal containers and then shake the canisters to make the nieve freeze. Amazing.
We got off the first bus at Auditorio near Chapultepec Park (gorgeous expansive park by the way). And we paid 6 pesos to get on a second bus - a city bus that has CDMX (Ciudad de Mexico) on it. Ours was a covered double decker and we got to sit right in the front row at the top level. Originally we were only going to take it a few stops to go back to our rental at Sevilla, but once we started going down Paseo de la Reforma, a gorgeous wide boulevard with periodic roundabouts with sculptures or structures, we decided to stay on the bus longer.
After our terrible Uber experience, I decided we would find a bus to take us back to Mexico City. It was 4 pesos and a lovely clean local bus that made a bunch of stops and we got to take our time heading back to the city.
Off to Spring camp! Alexia and Naomi left this morning for camp Valle Verde. It was a hectic start but we made it to the bus before it left. They are now in Valle de Bravo, about two hours from Mexico City. This is Naomi's first sleepaway camp. 5 nights and we will see how it goes. I'm so proud of her. She packed weeks ago and is so on top of her things (as is Alexia, too). The girls boarded the bus and initially were going to sit together, but then a counselor had Alexia sit one row behind with another girl and she sat with Naomi. That made me feel good that they did that so the girls could meet other people. There are around 50+ campers and 20+ counselors, so a very nice ratio. I just learned from Giny (Lori's former au pair who is Mexican from here) that it seems that this is a camp for more wealthy kids. There is a term people use here to refer to the priveledged kids. They are called Fresas (strawberries), which I think is funny. They even have an accent (search Youtube). Haha!

1 April 2018

After an exhausting day at the pyramids, we went over to Lori and Ray's Airbnb and the kids got to spend their last night together. The apartment building was really nice and we went down to the kids play area first and then went swimming in the indoor lap pool. And I went swimming, too! They generously made pasta and shared it with us so the kids could eat. Then we left and took an Uber back to our place. Charlotte fell asleep and transferred to bed no problem. Alexia and Naomi and I stayed up late labeling their clothes and packing their bags to be ready for camp the next morning. They were both begging me to go to bed by the time we finished. They were both out like a light the moment their heads hit the pillow. I did a little cleaning and finished laundry (thank goodness we have a washer/dryer in this apartment). And then I went to bed.
We finally made it back to the car and then drove to the town to get food. There are a ton of places to eat right outside of the pyramids, but our driver wanted to go to the town to get less touristy food. We ended up in a rotisserie chicken place and we all had some chicken, rice and fresh tortillas, and our driver had the beans. We made it back to Mexico City, the driver stopped at Farmacia Guadalajara so we could buy special anti itch ointment for Alexia and Naomi for their mosquito bites. Then he drove us to Lori and Ray's place at Revillagigedo 18.
We walked all the way to the Pyramid of the Moon, and it was impressive. I decided not to have us climb that one because we were all exhausted and the sun was super hot. I knew we need to conserve what energy we had left for the long walk back to the Pyramid of the Sun. And then to the car. But I do remember climbing the Pyramid of the Moon with Evan almost 20 years ago. I think we went in or around the year 2000. And being there reminded me of being there before. What a beautiful city.
Then the shopping began. There were a ton of vendors set up selling all sorts of tchotchkes. We restrained ourselves and only bought some jewelry, bow and arrows, and paletas (popsicles).
We started our descent but Alexia and I weren't ready yet. We sat down on the steps and just enjoyed the amazing view of the ancient city below. We had climbed the Pyramid of the Sun, and then there is a whole courtyard below and then a long expansive stretch flanked with platforms that leads to the slightly smaller but still impressive Pyramid of the Moon. Naomi, Charlotte and Domingo waited patiently for us at the bottom.
We made it to the top! Whew! We began taking pictures and then a strong gust of wind started blowing. After hiding her face from the camera initially, Charlotte instantly forgot about her shyness with the wind blowing, and she started laughing contagiously with her hair blowing all over the place. Good thing they had an orange net set up a few feet from the edge, because that wind would have been strong enough to blow people off the pyramid. Yikes!
We got back in line and continued climbing the next two sections all together. Me, the girls and Domingo, our driver. We saw Lori on her way down. We had seen Ray and Noah earlier as Noah needed to go pee and there are no bathrooms on the pyramid. Haha!
At the first landing, about a third of the way up, they called me. Alexia and Naomi are so good. After looking for our friends and not finding them, they went back to the entrance of the park and asked the security personnel to call me. They were then able to have a security guard accompany them up the first section of the pyramid to meet us. We stepped out of line to wait for them and I was so happy to see them and so proud of them. I asked Alexia how she knew to call me and she said because that is what I always tell her to do if she is lost. To go to someone who works there and ask for help. :)
We started climbing the pyramid after waiting in line for less than one hour. But still no sign of Alexia and Naomi.
We waited in line to climb the pyramid. It was pretty long but moved fast as it snaked around 3 sides of the pyramid. Lori and Ray were at the front of the line when we got in line and so I told Alexia and Naomi they could try to go to the front of the line and climb the pyramid with their friends. Little did I know how crowded it was around the other side of the pyramid and how it was nearly impossible to find anyone, even if they were just a few feet away.
Teotihuacan. We went to see the pyramids! Our Uber driver from the night before had offered to be a private driver for us. He said he could charge us 120 pesos an hour and after Alexia negotiated him down to 100 pesos per hour, I realized it was going to be our best way to go to Teotihuacan. We treated him to food (snacks, drinks, meals), but even so, it was well worth it because we ended spending the whole day together (10 hours) and it was very helpful to have another adult. He parked the car before the entrance to Gate 5. A short walk to the entrance through little stands. Instead of paying the 45 peso fee to park, we paid 15 pesos to the guy who had a stand nearby. It is common here in Mexico. We paid him at the end and in exchange, he "let" us park there (even though it is just the side of a street) and he keeps an eye on the car for us. We got raspados (shaved ice) and some tacos de bistek (beef tacos - girls' favorite). Everything was double the normal price, but just fine.

31 March 2018

We came home and put away all the groceries. Lots of food, toilet paper, laundry detergent, rubber gloves, soap, sponges, rags, etc. Enough to get us through the week. Yay!
We took an Uber to the supermarket late at night. We were in desperate need of groceries, and I knew we couldn't wait any longer to get foodm
Arrived at our apartment rental (through Airbnb). Address: Sevilla 12, Apartment 22, Juárez. The cleaning lady, Roxi, met us at the apartment and showed us around. Then she left and I ended up calling the host to ask a few more questions. We did a video call and apparently he is as good looking on video as in person. Our host is a body builder/model and flies all around the world. Right now he is in Paris, and decided to rent out his apartment while he is gone. It is a tiny second floor walk-up, with windows that look out into the interior cramped view of other apartments. But it is very quiet. We are on the border of La Rosa/La Roma just north of La Condesa. All very safe, nice and relatively weathly neighborhoods. We are just 2 blocks from the Sevilla Metro stop and just 1 block from the main Paseo de la Reforma Avenue with lots of buses. And a few blocks from the park (Bosque de Chapultepec) which means Woods of Chapultepec. Very centrally located.
Mexico city is big! Charlotte took a great picture from her window seat. You can see the Chapultepec Park at the top left of the picture and then the Paseo de la Reforma, the main Avenue coming out of the park going to the top right of the picture. Just where the shades part is (must be under a cloud). We took some pictures from our Uber ride to our apartment. A very big city, just like New York, with tall skyscrapers, graffiti, wide streets and lots of people hustling and bustling.
On the plane from Guadalajara to Mexico City, or as they say here, to México. Big city, here we come!
We arrived at the airport with time to spare. Interjet offers one free checked bag per person so we each checked a bag. That was amazing. Much easier to go through security without the regular rolling carry-on bags.
On the way to Guadalajara airport. After 7 days in the area with our friends, we went to GDL to take a flight together for the first time. I've known Lori and Ray for almost 14 years, but taking a plane together has never come up before. We took 3 Ubers to the airport so we swapped Alexia for Noah so Alexia could be the Spanish speaker in one of the other cars. And Giny was the other Spanish speaker in the third car.
Massages for everyone! Both sets of kids, Alexia and Samantha, and Naomi and Noah, offered services of various types. By far the one we all took them up on was the massage. They charged 4 pesos per message which lasted a good few minutes. And they were very good massages! We left generous tips and by the end of the morning, all four of then had earned a bunch of money. They were very proud.

30 March 2018

We drove to the nearby town of Teuchitlán and got ice cream at our favorite place. Michoacana! Then we picked up fresh roasted chicken to go and drove back to the rental house in Guadalajara. We had several hours there alone and it was super relaxing. The girls played so nicely and I even got to read my book (Palabras que nunca te dije - a fiction book written in Spanish by Maria Martinez)
We left the circular pyramids and walked back down the long road to the parking lot.
A second very large circular pyramid looks like a hill covered in dirt and trees. That pyramid is unable to be restored because back in the 1940s (before the American archeologist came here in the 1960s and then restoration began in the late 1990s), they actually took a lot of the stones from this pyramid to bring down and build the highway. We climbed the falling apart pyramid and Alexia was disappointed that we could climb the "real pyramid." I was sad, too.
The main circular pyramid was impressive. And it is surrounded by 8 rectangular platforms. There is a hole at the top where they used to put a pole and then do a dance for the gods. Maybe the rain or wind gods. Not sure. But they had houses on top of each of the platforms from which other people would participate in the rituals. The pyramids are much older than the Mayan pyramids. These date back 2,500 years. The civilization thrived at the time. There were about 80,000 people in the whole surrounding area, and about 20,000 lived here in this city. There are around 600 circular pyramids in this area. Although these are by far the biggest and the only ones that have been excavated, and that we can visit. The pyramids were for the gods, and the people lived nearby in houses that were built out of something like modern day brick. But not stone like