Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Feliz Cumpleanos - 4 YEARS OLD!

Our little man just turned four years old and we had a 'FIESTA' for him! The yard was filled with large, bouncing balls with a huge, inflatable crocodile to play on! We had food, fun and a pinata (of course)! My cute husband climbed on the roof of the garage area to hang the pinata! Everyone had a great time and our little four year old enjoyed the cake and ice cream as much as playing with all his friends and classmates! Feliz Cumpleanos y Prospero Ano!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Corrida de Toros (The Bullfight)!

My cute husband and I traveled to a little suburb of a Mexican city to take in a much publicized and heralded bull fight. The setting was lovely, the air was crisp with small bits of rain and the company we were with were knowledgeable about bullfights - two couples were from Mexico and another couple from Canada.

I must admit that I was nervous to attend; as one who cringes at rodeos when the calves are thrown to the ground I packed an entire roll of toilet paper just to wipe my tears! Yet, in the spirit of "Viva Mexico!" We decided to experience one of the areas oldest traditions...

As we were entering the arena we picked up red carnations and white handkerchiefs that were being handed out - "To honor your favorite bullfighter", was the explanation. We passed some blindfolded horses with thick, quilted, bright yellow padding on every part of their body - "Those are the horses for the picadores", we were told. Then we joined the throng squeezing through the doors and walked into the arena. The arena we attended, 'Provincia Juriquilla', is noted to be one of the most beautiful arenas in the country and it was picturesque! The seating was cement benches that wrapped around the entire arena! The feeling in the air was jovial and contagious... we were looking forward to learning a bit more about Mexico!

We quickly learned why the people were so jovial as we passed a group of men while looking for our seats - they held up a type of skin canteen and called for me to open my mouth! "GRACIAS, PERO NO!" I said, wondering what I missed out on... later I found that each satchel was filled with either 'vino' or 'cervezas' (wine or beer)! Ergo the already jovial atmosphere!

First the bullfighters came out into the ring with pomp and circumstance - we would be seeing three fighters and six bulls that night! (My first learning experience... I thought I only had to make it through one bull!) Two were famous fighters from Mexico and the other was a famous fighter from Spain - "Jose Tomas"! Then a man enters the ring with a placard that states the name and weight of the bull! Then enters the bull... and they are huge! Each bull weighed about 500 kilos or 1,100 lbs! Yes, did I say huge? At this point novice bullfighters would enter the ring with bright colored capotes (capes) and the bull would charge them and then they would run behind large wooden shields that protected the entrances to the ring. This practice is for the matador to see the aim, speed and agility of the bull. Then the matador comes out and spars with the bull. Afterward the picadores on horses enter the ring and stab the bull in the back near the shoulder blades. I learned that if this is not done properly it can affect the fight - we saw two bulls lambaste two horses and throw them to the ground and another picadore did not succeed in stabbing the bull and was dismissed by the judges bugler horn and another picador completed that segment of the fight. (All of these occurrences can effect the outcome of the bull fight!) Then three picadores on foot run at the bull while the bull charges them and they place, by hand!, two more pics each in the bull. (Those are the long, decorated lances that pierce the bull and are often pictured when a bull fight is reported or advertised.) Finally, the matador comes out and spars with the bull for a period of time with a colorful capote. After he has sufficiently displayed his abilities to control the bull - to each act of control the crowd shouts, "OLE!"; the matador will then change swords and don the red capote and throw his hat to the floor of the ring; thus signaling that the time to spar is over and it is now onward to the death of the bull.

After a few more passes with the bull the matador stabs a long, curved sword into the shoulder blade area of the bull and then two other novices enter the ring... as the bull charges and reacts to the capotes being waved at him the sword basically dissects his muscles and renders the bull unable to move any longer. At this point the bull collapses and another person comes in and puts the bull out of his misery by stabbing a dagger through his forehead into his brain. The matador is then awarded for his performance - one ear, two ears or two ears and a tail depending on the level of the performance and the manner in which the bull died. After the awarding of these items the bull is then hitched up to a Clydesdale horse and dragged out of the arena. The matador then walks around the entire arena and spectators throw their flowers (or coats, hats, shoes, purses, etc. to the matador and he in turn throws them back - as good luck) and they wave their white handkerchiefs to salute their favorite matador!

The bullfight we attended was quite an experience - we saw two horses go down (pictured), one picadore get thrown to the wall by a bull, a matador get thrown about six feet into the air by a bull (pictured is him being carried out by numerous men... and he came back to fight again!), and we saw what the crowd described as 'the perfect hit' meaning that the bull's death would be more quick and with less pain. We learned of the rules and regulations that surround the fanfare and the tradition - but above all I was impressed with the silence of the crowd when the moment of death was imminent. There was a silence that I chose to believe was a silence of gratitude for the bull and the event taking place. After the fights we were informed that the meat from the bulls are given to charities in the area.

I did not need one square of paper to wipe my eyes (which was a shocker to me!)... but I did feel that I had experienced enough of the 'sport' or 'art' of bullfighting to form my own opinion. The conquest of man over animal was a sight to behold... yet, I can't help but wonder if that is the manner in which we are to treat animals. I can't imagine heaven looks upon us paying to watch the suffering and death of animals with favor. For me it is a once in a lifetime moment that I am grateful I experienced yet I left with a conscience troubled as I reflected on my own shouts of "Ole!" while I saw an innocent creature die for my entertainment. Although many colors and art surround this tradition in the end it is the conquest of man over animal at the heart of the event.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Primary Program

This past Sunday all of our children participated in the Primary Program in Sacrament Meeting! It was the first primary program that all the children were in together... it was a day full of great memories. (Mom was teary eyed through much of the meeting!)

It was a beautiful, spiritual meeting. The primary had beautiful, pink hued flowers adorning the entire room with large arrangements on the piano and at the pulpit. The presidency had made pink scarves and headbands for all the girls and each boy received a pink tie! All the children were requested to wear white and they looked and sounded like little angels! Each of our children took part in the program in English and we memorized some of the lyrics in Spanish as well. During the closing song "Love is Spoken Here" - the first two verses were in Spanish and then our little clan sang at a special microphone set up for us - a third verse was song solely in English and the fourth verse was the boys and girls singing their verses in unison! The spirit was beautiful and the children did quite well!

We are so grateful for the kindness of the people in our ward congregation at church! They have done all they can to make us feel welcome! We have been blessed in our lives to know so many beautiful, kind people throughout the world!

Centro de Zoologico (The Zoo)

Our little Band of Explorers went to the local Zoo! It was a unique experience... the animals were more animated than at any other zoo we have ever attended. (We are not sure if this was due to the fact that they had not been fed for a while and we looked especially delicious or simply that they are more active than other animals we have seen at zoos.) Two chimps were swinging around and playing tag while another one was spitting at the audience and a guinea hen walking past! Then we encountered the camels - and we fed them by hand... grass. You must realize that we couldn't quite read the signs that were around the area as they were all in Spanish... so we were hoping that we weren't breaking any rules by feeding them - we do know that no one else was feeding the animals! Oh well, in this case ignorance was bliss! We had a blast and the camels loved us too!

Then we got to the cages with Tigers, Lions, Panthers, Wolves and Bears... Yes, these animals are all quite dangerous and carnivores as well - but do you think that would be cause enough to put up fences or some kind of barrier to separate the public from actually touching one of these creatures? Not here... we could easily have touched Lions, Tigers and Bears... OH MY! Needless to say Mom and Dad gave the kids quite a lecture about losing arms or legs during the outing - we suggested that they not lose their limbs! Oh, and we understood the sign near these animals, "PELIGROSO!" (For those of you who don't have a clue about Spanish that means "DANGEROUS!") As if the large gaping teeth and claws were not sufficient to warn the public of impending danger!

We loved the monkey cages. There were young, baby monkeys racing around after their mothers to be fed - and the mothers running away... imagine that! The male monkeys were just sitting around barking commands at the little monkeys.

Then we saw the littlest stars of the movie, "Madagascar" - the ring-tailed Lemur! Of course our little group sang "We like to move it, move it!" But alas, the lemurs did not jump up and dance... so sad!

We enjoyed the zebras, camels and the peacocks walking around freely! It was a dusty and smelly day (please note the lack of lush grasses in the picture)... but we had a fun time together!

Friday, November 9, 2007

A.E. Petsche Co. & Bombardier - "La Fiesta"

Great company, Delicious Mexican Food and a lively Mariachi band for the entertainment all came together for a evening that will not soon be forgotten! The dining was prepared and tables set, and the evening began... We hope you enjoy some pictures of our festivities! Many of our guests are pictured - Claude Martel (Bombardier) and his vibrant wife, Suzanne enjoyed a relaxing evening in the company of friends. Singing with the Mariachis are Nancy Lopez (American Industries), Juan Carlos (Bombardier) and his 'novia' Tania; Real Gervais (Bombardier) and his engaging wife, Suzanne are pictured "playing with the band"; Jimmy and I had a chance to pose with the band! Other guests included Kent Horst, Eric Tremblay, and Steve Dwyer (each from A.E. Petsche). We had a wonderful time and hope to have another 'fiesta' quite soon! Until then, "Viva Mexico"!

Sunday, November 4, 2007


The third largest pyramid in the world was no match for the Ballard Band of Explorers!

This weekend our family visited the site of Teotihuacan with a friend and co-worker, Kent (the man sporting the Indiana Jones Fedora - prepared to explore)! We chose to climb the Temple of the Sun which is the third largest pyramid in the world! The children were excited to explore and were as intent on the top as is usual for this little band! We climbed to the top while enjoying the breathtaking, panoramic views on the Temple's plateaus.

The name "Teotihuacan" means literally; "The place where men became Gods" and here it is said that the "Colossal pyramids were painted red to glow under the Mexican Sun". We were able to see a remnant of the original color during our expedition! This amazing city originally had occupied approximately 10 square miles and was one of the greatest populated cities of it's time. The city grew from around the time of Christ and reached it's peak between 150 B.C. and 450 A.D.; although the city grew and had much to offer by the time it was discovered by the Aztecs it was deserted. In 400 A.D. the city was the sixth largest in the world - yet about 300 years later the civilization fell - leaving Teotihuacan deserted.

Our little band of explorers looks forward to returning and climbing more pyramids and learning more about this fascinating culture... you should come and join us!

Friday, November 2, 2007

My "Pescaditos"

While we are here we are enjoying swimming lessons twice a week! The children are learning so quickly and working on their strokes. The girls have all moved up one level from where they began 7 weeks ago!

Our little man has a story all his own... the first day of class he timidly got into the water and I dutifully sat on the bleachers with all the other parents cautiously watching their children attempt to keep their heads above water. Within a few moments it was very clear that our little guy was not comfortable - the thrashing body in the water with the guttural howl coming from his general vicinity only served to rivet the attention of all students and parents within earshot. I jumped up and rushed over to the side of the pool to find out what was wrong - oh, wait - he is in water, in a swimming class for the first time and with someone he can't communicate with at all! Hmmm... so, in my broken Spanish I told the teacher that I was going to sit by the pool and translate for my son! (Sure...) So the teacher begins to rapidly tell me what she needs for our little guy to be comfortable in the water - oh, did I say rapidly? About that time two or three other personnel had come over to our area and were attempting to communicate with body gestures, hand motions and drawing with a pencil and paper. The audience of parents are still watching and waiting... Finally, it is communicated to me that the teacher wants me to put on a bathing suit and climb in the pool to instill confidence in my son! Seriously, are you kidding?...

No, this is not bathing suit season... no, I was not ready for this on so many different levels... but there I was, a mom, and during the next class I was a mom (a very pasty, white mom) in a bathing suit, climbing into a pool with the audience of parents watching (and I swear they were shielding their eyes from the glare off my legs)! I spent two classes in the water with all the students, my son and his teacher - attempting to translate, working with my favorite little boy in the entire world and generally loving the time with him until I had to climb out of the water in front of the same audience of parents. (I was telling myself the entire time that they were more impressed with my diligence as a mother and would never notice the pasty, white legs; or the untoned thighs or the five year old bathing suit that was not meant to be worn anywhere near public view!) After two classes coaching my son through swimming lessons he gained more confidence in his instructor or rather he was pretty sure she wasn't going to say something in another language and then dunk him underwater. He has gone from that experience to diving right in and swimming around on his own!

I have great kids... daring and adventurous. I call them my little fish - or my "Pescaditos"!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Halloween & Dia de Muertos

"Happy Halloween" & "Que tenga buen Dia de Muertos"! Our family is enjoying a festive Halloween and Day of the Dead celebration Mexican style! We have attended fiestas with Mariachi bands, dancing, food and lots of fun for the adults. The children's fiestas have included painting pumpkins, decorating skulls for the "Dia de Muertos" celebration, huge pinatas of "aranas", and haunted classrooms at their school. Pictured are the children with friends; MariaFer, Andrea (three Andreas are pictured), Constanza, Anna Gabby and our little man with his teacher in costume.

Also included is a typical altar set up for remembering the dead. At this time of year around tombstones or in a home an altar is erected and a family places pictures of the relatives that they would like to remember and upon the altar they place favorite foods, drinks, past times, toys, etc. to entice their dead relatives to come relive a day with the family - in spirit, of course. It is similar to our Memorial Day in the United States - but quite a bit less somber and more festive and jovial. We have enjoyed this month learning of the different holidays in Mexico and taking part in these traditions.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Tip of the Day!

The other day while in a little tienda I picked up some candles and started to search for the best smell. Numerous people passed me and were just looking at me in a more than unusual way. I began to wonder whether or not they had ever seen an American before or whether or not I had an entire leaf of spinach in my teeth and then I sat a candle down and picked up another one to smell - then it hit me... I was smelling candles with the Virgin Mary pictured on the outside! So, the TIP OF THE DAY: It is considered quite sacriligious to smell candles that are used for Catholic ceremonial purposes. Don't smell candles with pictures of any saintly figure on them!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

GLAMOUR SHOTS Mexican Style...

We thought we would share with you these beautiful glamour shots of each of us! After viewing these pictures I remarked on the close resemblance of these visa pictures to prison mug shots! So, FYI, these are pictures for our visas and no, we are not in some Mexican jail somewhere!

Last week we get a telephone call from the company's lawyer here in Mexico - he proceeds to share with us that our visas are about to expire and then proceeds to give us a few more items that ended up being quite a LONG list of items we needed to get together for our family's visas in order to legally stay in the country! (This is a process that we have been working on since our arrival in Mexico - yet we had most of our paperwork together.) Among the items that were lacking were some pictures. When we arrived at the photography studio in "El Centro" we were asked to remove all jewlery and then they had water bottles to spray our hair and slick it back. But, we thought you might enjoy the most somber looking pictures of the Ballard Family ever - enjoy! (Despite the somber expressions I still think the kids look absolutely adorable!)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

9/11/2001 Remembered

"History is a guide to navigation in perilous times. History is who we are and why we are the way we are." - David C. McCullough

May we take a moment to remember not only those who died in such a tragic manner but also pray for their families, our nation and our country's defenders who are still affected daily by the reality of terrorism. It is my hope that we may each stand taller, act with greater kindness and cherish the gifts of freedom and liberty!

"Comida General" at Wal-Mart

I am a coupon shopper - granted not as savy as some of my friends who are just amazing at the whole coupon game - but, none the less, I am a coupon gal! So, here I am in Wal-Mart just attempting to procure some food for my little family to take in their lunch boxes; I walk down the aisle that looks as though it should have some peanut butter and jelly.... OK, found the Smucker's Jelly... good, the price was over $1.75 USD but I can deal with that. THEN, I spy the JIF (the only brand available) Peanut Butter in a small, tiny, miniscule, little jar (Seriously, it is only 340 grams) - If that information in parenthesis helped you then you are seriously one smart cookie! But, for the rest of us... trust me, it was SMALL and it cost $330.00 M.N. (Pesos) or just about $3.30 USD - FOR A TINY JAR OF PEANUT BUTTER! As I was getting it off the shelf another American walked by (from California) and he said, "Hey, if you buy that with Jelly they'll think you are really weird!" -- Oh well, I have never been one to shy away from a challenge, have I? So, I grab the PB & J, get the odd looks from the shoppers around me and spend way, way, way too much money on some sandwiches for lunch this week!

OK... so, now to the milk. I head on over to what looks to be the milk. I pass the Borden brand (normally expensive but here it is astronomical) and head over to the brands that are from Mexico. I pick up a couple of gallons and look around for the expiration date... and I read, "leche parcialmente pasteurizada". WAIT, WHAT? From what I gather this milk is only partially pasteurized... so what did they do to the other part? Has it been prepared for ingestion? Will it effect your body the same way as the water? And exactly what does pasteurization do anyway? Are my children safe with this on their cereal? Wouldn't a good friend from Saginaw, TX who is fond of natural, non-hormonal milk flip over this label? Do we women really need more hormones from our milk anyway? Yes, all these questions start rolling through my mind standing in the milk aisle! The good news is that we have ingested "la leche" and we are all still alive and functioning! In some free time I need to find out what pasteurization does anyway? But, vitamins A & D have been added!

Our little family has been following and preparing our food storage (in the U.S.A.), but I have never fully appreciated the purpose of it until coming to an area where acquiring food was so absolutely difficult! I appealed to my husband's "Hunter / Gatherer" instinct and he tried to shop one night and came home with quite the assortment of items. Some were edible... but even he had a difficult time figuring out the "Comida General". So, basically we are regulars at the local SUBWAY - too bad they don't serve breakfast!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

The "Panaderia" Experience

So, now that we are more settled here in Mexico I have ventured out to the grocery store. A word of advice to all of you planning to visit and use your Spanglish, the word for groceries is NOT "groceria" (I know the spelling is WAY off.) but is some other phrase like "comida general" (general food)! I know this because I said I needed to go to get "grocerias"... and immediate laughter from all the Mexicans around me! Well, I found out that I had just told them that I needed to go get some bad words... so, don't use your Spanglish with that word! Use 'comida general'!

Well, I loaded up our mini-van (our 5th rental car while in Mexico) and my four children and I head off to buy 'comida general'. We get to the parking lot of Wal-Mart (yes,Wal-Mart is here as well) and successfully pull into a parking spot without assistance that requires a tip...here in Mexico many parking lots have official looking people that assist you in parking and once they point you into a parking spot they expect a tip and then upon leaving the store they will suppose that your rear-view mirror, your side mirrors and the large back window are not sufficient to assist you in backing out thus they will help you to back out and you will thus be expected to tip them again. But, I digress...

So, we get into Wal-Mart and as soon as I'm in the door I hear, "Son estos todos sus niños?" (Are these all your children?) "Si", I answer. The first time it isn't too bad. We go to the "Panaderia" where all the rolls, breads, donuts and pastries are out on shelves or in large, uncovered bins open to the general public - including curious children who pull their hands out of their mouths just long enough to touch some pastries before moving on and people with illnesses walking by sneezing! In this "Panaderia" you take a tray and some tongs - mind you the tray had been unwashed for who knows how long and the tongs as well - this is obvious due to the fact that there is a coagulating conglomerate of food on the end of the tongs and although I always try to get the cleanest ones there is always something growing on the tip! So, we get our tray and my children attempt to guess what the last people bought from all the crumbs, sugar and glaze left on the try until my daughter attempts to knock the crumbs off by hitting the large, metal plate against a large metal bar (that holds the coagulating tongs). Well, metal plate on a metal bar... you get the picture - my daughter has successfully recreated "The Gong Show" in the Mexican Panaderia at Wal-Mart. A sweet older lady walks up and asks, "Son estos todos sus ninos?" To which I simply nod. (What else do you do when you are the only person who remotely resembles these children?) So, I corral all the children and stuff some into the cart. As I go to turn the cart around I notice an older man drop some bread on the floor, pick it up, and toss it back into the uncovered bin oblivious to the infectious germs that just latched onto the food... the same bin that my daughters just got bread out of! I find myself wondering whether or not the vaccinations in the U.S.A. were enough to ward off the germs at the "Panaderia".

By this time we have spent about an hour in Wal-mart just trying to find food that does not contain jalapenos and that my children will eat. I have spent an hour in conversation similar to:

MOM: "What about this kids?" (Holding up a package of sugared doughnuts. The only sealed food in the area.)

DAUGHTER: "I'm sick of those can we get something else?"

MOM: "Ok, what about this?" (Holding up something that looks remotely tasteful and similar to a breakfast bread.)

SON: "Is that even healthy Mom? Can we just go to McDonalds?" (As if that is the epitome of healthy!)

MOM: "All right, how about these?" (Holding up the closest thing I could find to regular blueberry muffins.)

DAUGHTER: "Sure Mom, I'll get 'em with the tongs. Gimme the tongs (to another sibling)."

SIBLING: "No,I want to get mine first!"

DAUGHTER: "No, I'm getting mine!"

SIBLING: "No, mine! I have the tongs!"

DAUGHTER: "No you don't..." (Trying to wrestle the tongs out of her sister's hands.)

WAL-MART SHOPPER: "Son estos todos sus niños?"

MOM: (While trying to wrestle the coagluating, conglomerating tongs out of my children's hands - but, with a smile...) "Si, mis manos es occupado!" (Yes, my hands are fully occupied.)

WAL-MART SHOPPER: "Claro!" (Clearly.) Hmmm... I wonder how the woman meant that?

Finally, the family gets the muffin things onto the glaze, sugar crusted silver plate after the children have been threatened within an inch of having them work in the Wal-Mart parking lot directing traffic as penance. We grapple our way up to the "Panaderia" clerk and I hear, "Son estos todos sus niños? Es normal in Estado Unidos?" (Are these all your children? Is it normal in the United States?) At this point I just clench my teeth and smile as I have no earthly idea how to ask her is what normal in the United States? Four children? Siblings enacting a WWF Tournament in the middle of the bakery in the U.S.A.? or the entire "Panaderia" experience with the uncovered bins and people throwing food from the floor back into the bins? So, I simply just say, "Si, Gracias por tu patiencia." (Yes, Thanks for your patience.) That is the first stop of the trip to get "Comida General" - not "Groserias"... but, by the end of that trip I am sure I could have used some "groserias"! Thanks heavens my mother taught me better!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Horses, Soccer and Discovering History

This past week our family went on a horse carriage ride! Our caballero's name was 'Pablo' and our horse was 'Palomo'! The children had a great time and each had a turn using the reigns! We rode through some of the Mexican countryside and enjoyed the scenery.

We also decided to try the national pastime - soccer - as a family! We had great fun! The girl's team beat the boy's team! Yeah!

One adventurous day we all decided to follow an Acqueduct here in Mexico. We started the morning at the site of the original spring and followed it to a convent in the city. The water ran into the city using only gravity and was distributed into cisterns in the convent and there distributed throughout each room of the convent. All the designs used only gravity to direct the water!

We are having fun discovering this unique and historical country!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Mas Mexico!

"I didn't say it in Spanish then, I said it in Texas!" - Our little M explaining the language difference between Mexico and America.

"Mom, I can color in Spanish" - M during Primary with the "crayones" with the spanish names on them.

"Es muy bonita!" (It's very pretty!) - L telling another girl in Primary that her picture was colored well - she did this all by herself!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Our Adventures in Mexico!

Here are some pictures of our time in Mexico! The scenery is beautiful and we are enjoying exploring in this new country. The kids have found secret back staircases and courtyards that are beautiful but seemingly rarely visited. We have had a wonderful time thus far.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Una Semana en Mexico!

We have been here for one week. Our luggage has finally caught up with us and yesterday I got lost in the city for the first time driving! It was quite the unnerving experience - not knowing where I was, not knowing how to ask and knowing that I will not fully understand whatever I am told to remedy the situation and have four children along for the adventure as well! But, obviously as I am writing this entry... we are fine! I am just grateful prayer is international - I was impressed to call the one person we know in the city and have her speak to someone in a parking lot to explain where I was and then she gave me the necessary directions to get to where I was going! I was driving "Crazy Mexican Style" (a term adopted from our cultural specialist) and the children love to say it while we are on the road.

Driver's Ed here is a completely different experience. Some of the rules are: 1) When a vehicle has their hazards on anything is possible - Watch out! (i.e. - cutting across four lanes of traffic to exit, stopping mid lane to let someone off, or driving backwards on the highway - Yes, I have seen it!) 2) Pedestrians do not wait for traffic to slow - try not to hit them. (It is a bit like the game Frogger!) 3) At stop lights expect to be sold anything from windshield wipers, fresh fruit, and popsicles to upholstery needles! Oh and watch out for the silver man juggling fire! 4) Focus, focus, focus! while trying to decipher all the signs in Spanish!

Yesterday we went on a lovely horse and carriage ride around the grounds of the hotel. It was quite a bumpy experience as the roads are paved with cobblestones! Our caballero was named "Pablo" and the horse was named "Palomo". The children each had an enjoyable time holding the reigns!

We have been exploring and have found lot of fun areas that are just beautiful! Our family is enjoying our adventures in Mexico!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Hola de Mexico!

Hola to all of you from the country of Mexico! We have safely arrived... at least our persons arrived - the luggage didn't fare as well. We still are waiting on five bags to make it to the country! But, each of us are here safely, and for that we are grateful.

Our children have commented often on the beauty of Mexico and currently they are greeting everyone they see from our hotel windows with "Hola" and I am hearing "Hola" returned from many people! I wonder if Mexico is ready...

The cartoons were in Spanish this morning and our little ones were amazed that "Arthur" and "Franklin" spoke Spanish! The Spanish language is surrounding us and the children have heard little else thus far - so this morning our M said, "Mommy, can I still call you just Mommy?" So sweet! Our E has commented over and over how beautiful the trees and land around us are - and our L announced that this is better than Texas! (Sorry Nana and Papa...) All in all they are adapting quickly and enjoying it.

Our day involved a lovely breakfast in an authentic Mexican resturant; there were foods that were utterly delicious and others that will take some getting used to. We have changed our little five passenger Jeep (yes, for a six person family - When in Rome...) for a fifteen (yes, 15) passenger van! The extremes were available - not too many options in between. So, here we are... the little American family in the middle of Mexico trying to learn about these wonderful people and not be too noticeable... Here are some of the great quotes of the day:

"Daddy, someone is going to yell TAXI soon!" - L (in reference to our oversized vehicle - the children each got their own bench!)

"They are surrounding me and talking Spanish." - L (at McDonalds with a group of girls following our children around the play place.)

"ADIOS!" - The same group of girls that all ran to the entrance of McDonalds to say goodbye to our family as we walked out!

"Que tu vive?" (Where do you live?) - a little 4 year old trying to figure out what I was saying.

"No!" - the answer we got all day when we asked, "Tu hable ingles?"

"Mom, you'll just have to get used to orange." - E trying to calm me down after seeing our new home.

"Dad, I went SO high out of my seat." - M telling his Dad how he caught air in the back of the van going over the speed bumps.

Monday, July 9, 2007

July 4th at Medieval Times

This year's fireworks displays were canceled due to inclement weather. (In Texas that generally means flash flooding, torrential downpours or tornados!) We had the torrential downpours and flash flooding the entire week of July 4th - to the degree that we were rerouted to our home a few times due to washed out roads just by our home. The creek near our home had risen over ten feet and had white water rapids while our street looked like a river itself draining into the 'creek'.

So, we decided to be untraditional and attend the "Medieval Times" exhibition! What an amazing time it was. We all had great fun dining with our hands while watching the Andalusian horses perform, Falconry demonstrations and the entire tournament of the realm. The tournament had six knights with jousting, sword fighting and traditional tournament games. Our little 'knight' came home from the evening and immediately went to find his knight costume and wielded his new sword. The girls loved seeing the knight's battle for the love of a 'real princess'. After each game in the tournament the knights would throw flowers to the princesses in the crowd and our girls were thrown a flower! They were starry eyed...It was true love as they cheered the red and yellow knight!

The evening was a great success and on the way home we found that other cities had not canceled their celebrations of the 4th - so, we chased fireworks and got to see Fort Worth's beautiful display!

Saturday, July 7, 2007

"Houston, We'd Love to see the Temple."

Today our family hopped in the car and drove to Houston for Mary and Cagan Randall's sealing in the Houston, Texas temple! What a day! The kids were great - considering they were in the car for hours each way. We were able to attend the sealing and visit with our friends and then we loaded back into the car to come home! Although it was quite a bit of driving we felt it was worth it to be there, feel the spirit, and have our children attend another temple wedding. Our eldest loved the Houston temple and the beauty that surrounded it. While our two youngest loved walking on the 'hidden pathway' to the left of the temple doors.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Shamu and "Sea World"

This weekend our family took an impromptu trip down to visit Aunt Tammy, our cousins, and Shamu! Our children loved being with "Z", their cousin, and were so excited to go to spend time at "Z's new house"! They played in every room in ther Aunt's new house! (They can't wait to go back again.)

Our family was so excited to go to Sea World! We enjoyed feeding the dolpins, riding "Shamu's Express" rollercoaster, the ferris wheel and the paint mixer (Sea World's version of the teacups). But, by far the experience that had our children awed and amazed was watching the new show "Believe" starring Shamu. Our son clapped so hard and fast; he was so engrossed in the show that nothing else could get his attention. Our little A loved it so much that she asked to wait until the entire stadium had cleared out so that we could walk down to the tank and look at Shamu up close. E and L decided that they want to swim with Shamu when they grow up. We had a wonderful time! That afternoon we went back and played in the "Lost Lagoon" waterpark - My husband relaxed and the kids and I got soaked! We did wave pools, "Splash Attack", "Sky Tubin" and all the kiddie pools we could find. M just kept saying, "Again, again."