Friday, December 12, 2008

Christmas.... Already!

I have to remind myself it is Christmas! The weather is chilly in the mornings - but is about 70 degrees by mid-day and there isn't any snow around and few decorations to remind me of the season. So, I find myself singing Christmas carols in the car to remember that 'this is the season beloved of the year'. My sweet husband downloaded and burnt a CD of some of my favorite Christmas songs to carry me through until we get home!

Then, this morning my cute husband asked if I was excited to leave tomorrow morning - and really, I just am not ready. So, today I have to buy all the teacher's gifts, the gifts for family's stockings from Mexico, I have numerous meetings to tie up loose ends at church, host a 'Cena de Navidad' (Christmas Dinner) at the church tonight, have a final choir practice for the Chrismtas choir and indoctrinate our friends on caring for this house and all before the car service comes to pick us up tomorrow morning!

So, tomorrow morning we are on the way to Christmas festivities - whether I am ready or not! Once we get in the car bound for the Mexico City airport - I think, maybe, then I'll be able to breathe!

I think I'll ask Santa for some more time in the days!

Thursday, November 27, 2008


This morning when our family awoke we realized that we did not have running water throughout the entire house! I still, at this moment, do not have running water in my house... let me tell you what we all do with running water that we take for granted every day - showering, washing your face, brushing your teeth, doing your hair, washing dishes, watering plants, washing your hands, washing your food, cooking your food, flushing the toilet (yes, today I have learned to pour pitchers of our bought and purchased drinking water down the toilet), washing clothes as well as any and all cleaning, mopping, etc.

So, tonight, while you are all sitting around wonderful meals (that you cooked with the assistance of running water) and thinking of all that you are grateful for - please know two things - we love you all tremendously and running water NEEDS to be on the list of things you are grateful for!

Happy Thanksgiving to each of you!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Uninvited Guests

The cool weather of autumn brings with it some uninvited house guests! This fall our family has found five, yes - five! of these creatures! We have found tiny ones smaller than a pinky fingernail and the largest was the size of my thumb! UGH! Not only do they trigger an internal instinct to kill but my maternal instinct has me cleaning under all beds, moving all things off of the floor and constantly, constantly, constantly reminding my children to wear their slippers and shoes when they are in the house! Bare feet are not an option!

Most of these creatures were found on the floor while we were walking... yet, one was found on L's mosquito netting just over her bed! They crawl and climb!

I couldn't get the fumigators here fast enough! Yet, since the fumigators have come we have encountered two more... so, I think I'll be calling them back to fulfill their warranty!

I am so grateful that no one has been stung by them here in Mexico!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Our Prophet

The Mexican saints clapped and cheered when President Monson sang a song from his days in Spanish class!

This video has the excerpt of his song and a picture of both he and President Eyring in their gabánes.

Video Courtesy of

The Mexican Cultural Event - Mexico City, Mexico

Awesome, awe-inspiring and an entire stadium filled with the spirit would possibly begin to describe the Church's cultural event Saturday night in Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, Mexico. Our prophet both sang and danced - while he was speaking to the saints President Monson shared a song that he knew from his Spanish classes back in high school - he sang it and then stated that this was the first and only time that he would sing a solo in a conference of the church! The people roared their excitement as he spoke a bit of Spanish! (If you listen you can hear our reply in the video!)

As the festivities of the night continued with song and dance there was a segment of dance from the state of Michoacahn - the dance is depicting little old men in traditional masks, decorated sombreros and gabánes (a type of woven over covering). The cameras cut to Presidents Monson and Eyring - they were wearing the traditional gabánes and they did a little jig for the saints! Once again, the entire stadium of nearly 100,000 saints roared their approval!

I cannot express how wonderful it was to sit with thousands upon thousands of saints. To hear them praise both the church and prophet in their own language - and then, through the spirit, realize that language will never be a barrier to the faithful - for the melodies were all familiar. The prayers were heartfelt and filled with the spirit. The talks by Presidents Monson and Eyring were both beautiful and specifically written for the Mexican saints.

Our family will never forget the spirit of these amazing saints. We will never forget sitting in a stadium with a prophet presiding at such an awe - inspiring event! We will never forget the opportunity to, with tens of thousands of Mexican saints, wave our white handkerchiefs to show our love to the Prophet of God! Our little man, throughout the event would say, "Mommy can I wave my handkerchief? I want to tell the Prophet that I love him!"

The sheer amount of the youth of this church was beautiful. The costumes, the dance, the song were all gorgeous. The missionary force from the Mexico City Missions came forth singing "LLamados A Servir" (Called to Serve) and again, another wave of the spirit poured forth upon the saints.

Truly, words cannot express the experience! We are so grateful to be here at this time, with these saints and to feel of their spirits as well as the Spirit of the Lord! The event was held at 6:30pm and our family began traveling with our 'barrio' (ward) at 9 am - only to return to our ward building at 2am Sunday morning. But, the hours of waiting, the hours of traveling were insignificant compared to the outpouring of the Spirit of God!

We are grateful!

Video Courtesy of

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Open House - Mexico City Mexico Temple

The Open House of the Mexico City Temple was a wonderful event. Thousands of people went through the Temple grounds in Mexico City - including our family!

The temple lot in Mexico City also consists of the "CCM" or "Centro de Capacitacion del Misioneros"(we call it the MTC or "Missionary Training Center"), a cafeteria, a Church Distribution Center and a large, beautiful Visitor's Center. The grounds are beautiful and are a stark contrast to the neighborhoods and businesses immediately surrounding the temple.

Our little group traveled down to Mexico and ended up spending five hours touring the temple, the grounds and the visitor's center! The children enjoyed the time tremendously and loved learning from and speaking with all the missionaries! We ate lunch at the CCM cafeteria - within view of the statue of the angel Moroni!

The tranquility of the temple was refreshing and the children were able to go through another temple open house - to once again see and learn of the tremendous blessings they can receive in the temples of the Lord.

We met a senior missionary couple who are the parents of some friends of my parents... did you follow that? The couple was so warm and welcoming - our children enjoyed talking with them and they were gracious enough to pose in a picture for our little family!

We had a wonderful time and although we were not allowed to take many pictures we hope you enjoy these few of the newly renovated Mexico City Temple!

Dia de Muertos

Each year the children's school has a dual celebration for both Halloween and Dia de Muertos. In Mexico, Dia de Muertos is similar to our Memorial day. These two days are set aside to remember ancestors who have passed on.

A family or group will traditionally build an 'altar'. On this altar they will place pictures of loved ones who have passed on - along with flowers, favorite items of that loved one, favorite food and drinks for their loved one. The children's school made altars for some famous people to demonstrate the tradition and help the children come to know more about this portion of the Mexican culture. The school also had the children prepare candied skulls and cookies...

The altars you will see here are for Marilyn Monroe and Walt Disney.


Our Halloween celebration this year was MUCH better than last year because we knew what to expect and where to have fun! This year the children dressed up for their classes at school and had a wonderful time - there they celebrated both Halloween and Dia de Muertos!

After school we loaded up and drove to a private neighborhood where they annually host foreigners to trick-or-treat! We had great fun! We were trick-or-treating with children from France, India, Korea, Mexico and the United States of America! It was a great experience for the children!

Our little man dressed up as a Jedi (yes, again) but this year it was the thing to do! He not only met a Stormtrooper and Yoda - he actually pulled out his lightsaber to fight Darth Vader! It was definitely the year of 'Star Wars'!

Our girls looked beautiful and had a wonderful time! The only complaint: "All the candy has chile powder on it!" The Mexican people like chili flavor in and on everything... including their candy! The flavors of candy here are extremely different! Our dentist doesn't have too much to worry about - the kids enjoy collecting it and giving it away more than they like to eat it!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Trick or Treat - For some a trick - for others a treat!

Here is a break down of Obama's economic plan that even a child can comprehend! Although I do support various points Obama has made when I saw this I had to laugh! This comic really hits the nail on the head for those concerned about the socialistic tax plans Obama has voiced and various views of the Democratic party!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Noche de Hogar - Halloween Style

We found pumpkins! Finally, we located calaveras (pumpkins) here in Mexico and we were able to have our annual FHE pumpkin carving night! We had a great time and ended up carving a MUCH simpler design than we had planned. (I had drawn a Darth Vader cut out to put onto a pumpkin for my little man... but Holy Cow was it difficult! - Especially with only a little knife, a larger knife and a screwdriver.)

We had great fun and named our pumpkin, Bob!

Programa de Primaria

Our children had the opportunity to participate in their second Primary Program here in Mexico. The children shared their testimonies and comments in the Spanish Language and sang in both English and Spanish. After our little man said, "El hogar es donde siento amor." (The home is where I feel love.) he then looked right at my husband and I and gave us a two finger salute. Then he jumped down from the podium as a ripple of laughter rolled through the audience. My husband and I had to keep from laughing out loud. (It took some effort.) Afterward various members commented on how impressed they were with the language abilities and pronunciation of our childrens Spanish! What a blessing it has been to be here and to be welcomed by these amazing people. We are so grateful for this wonderful opportunity!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Gigantor... Who?

At breakfast this morning we were talking about giants (no recollection as to why) and our eldest daughter asked:

"How tall was Gigantor?"
"I don't know. Who exactly is Gigantor?"
"You know, in the scriptures."
While looking at my husband for some help; "Could you tell me which story?"
"Yeah Mom, David and Gigantor... you know."
"Oh, you mean Goliath."
"Yeah, him."

So cute!

Tip of the Day!

This morning my husband woke up to make our family a wonderful breakfast. He found some of the children already up watching Saturday morning cartoons - then he heard, "Hey Dad; Look at this I am winning tons of money!" The voice coming from the office area was the voice of our little 8 year old daughter. When he entered the office he found her on the computer playing rounds of poker and she was annihilating the computer - she had already won $600!

The tip of the day is to make sure, when you install a new router on your computer network to reinstall all of the security blocks as well! But then again, maybe we could let her practice... we are spending Christmas in Las Vegas!

United Nations Anniversary Celebration

The children's school had a flag celebration and parade of students for the annual celebration of the United Nations Anniversary. Each student was to wear clothing that represented their country. There were beautiful and unique costumes as well as current, modern clothing. Our children chose what they wanted to wear and we did small, floral prints and ginghams with jeans for the girls and Matthew wanted to wear his cowboy clothes to celebrate America's history!

The night before we made some small versions of the American Flag and our little ones enjoyed celebrating America's particitpation in the United Nations. We had a great time and the children have made great friends while we have been here - after this experience their friends will span the globe. We have friends from Argentina, Columbia, France, Germany, Kenya, Mexico, Korea, Japan and Spain - this experience has blessed out lives in so many ways - friendships being one of thos tremendous blessings!

La Casa de la Zacatecana

In Leiu of Halloween's approach our daughter's school classes traveled into the city of Queretaro, Mexico for a mysterious field trip. We visited "La Casa de La Zacatecana" (The home of the woman from Zacatecas) while we were there we heard a ghost story legend that truly did scare many of the students.

The legend states that 'La Zacatecana' and her husband lived in this beautiful home and were quite wealthy. They lived there with their servant who had been an orphan before they employed him. 'La Zacatecana' had fallen in love with the gardener of the house and her husband confronted her with his knowledge of her clandestine love. 'La Zacatecana' then plotted with her servant to kill her husand, which he did. 'La Zacatecana' then proceeded to kill the servant and bury the bodies in her basement. A short time later, while 'La Zacatecana' was sleeping, assassins entered her home and killed her in her bed - they then took her body and placed it in the middle of the street in front of her home for the people of Queretaro to find. To this day noone knows who killed 'La Zacatecana'.

The home had been bought and sold many times and it is claimed to have the ghost of 'La Zacatecana' roaming the grounds. The legend claims that is why noone has lived in the home for any length of time.

Our daughter enjoyed touring the grounds and hearing about the legend and most of her classmates enjoyed it as well. One of the highlights of the trip was looking in a window at the museum and seeing a 'reflection' of the face of 'La Zacatecana' peering at the group out of a window. We also saw the skeletons of the husband and servant that were down in the basement! We enjoyed hearing of one of the legends of Mexico and being able to enjoy our time together!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Civil Disagreement

I am one who stands on the side of supporting traditional marriage. We are a country that is extremely diverse. I feel that, collectively, we have accepted all forms of diversity as a part of our culture and we have discovered ways for each of us to live together in our society courteously and kindly. I feel that we can continue to live together in this society and allow all people the right to pursue happiness as they so choose, without calling for the change of basic laws.

The issue of legalizing same sex marriage that is now before us will change the bedrock of the founding of our country. I believe that the morals this country were founded upon have been and are being directly attacked. These are the morals that protect not only family but also protect religion, freedom of speech, the right to bear arms, etc.

The rights of citizens will be altered if this measure to legalize same sex marriage passes - parents will no longer be able to teach their chosen religion without being legally incorrect and possibly held in contempt of the law; churches will be in contempt for teaching a strict adherence to the ten commandments and the scriptural teachings of Jesus Christ; schools will have to change curriculum to welcome same sex marriage, polygamous marriages, gender confusion, gender change choices, etc. Local governments, National Laws, Federal Taxes, Insurance providers etc. will have to recognize and cover polygamy, same sex marriages and gender change operations or confusion and the subsequent identity changes that would incur.

Although all of us have the right to choose for ourselves what to believe we must realize that these practices are not the norm. These are the exception. I feel that people need to be educated in a manner that allows them to have an open mind but to be taught correct principles and then allow them to govern themselves in relation to their personal belief system. It has been given to the parents and teachers of religion to insure that our children have been taught sufficiently to then choose for themselves. I believe that options and exceptions to the way a child is reared should be shared around high school age when each person has sufficient understanding to choose for themselves what manner of life they would like to lead.

Let me be clear that I abhor prejudice in all forms; including the prejudice against people who practice various religions; all prejudices against race as well as sexual preference. That said, I applaud the opportunity we have to voice our opinions and to disagree CIVILLY at times.

Crossing this threshold of departing from traditional marriage as the 'legal norm', to me, marks the beginning of the unraveling of the basic rights of the country's constitution. The legal norm was what this country was founded upon - even at the time of the founding fathers there were surely those who had various beliefs regarding race, religion and sexual preference. The constitution supports the rights of all people and when necessary changes have been made in the constitution to insure that all people were treated equally. Those changes were vital and important and in accordance with what the people chose. The constitution begins with "We The People" and the voice of the collective whole was united and became the basis for the forging of our Constitution.

If states choose not to legalize same sex marriage it does not mean that the people are bigots or prejudice; it means that the people are exercising their right to voice their beliefs and that the majority supports traditional marriage. We each have the right to voice our opinions and beliefs and that in no way diminishes anyone's ability to form relationships but it does allow the law to continue to forbid polygamy, marriages to minors and other activities our society deems as unacceptable.

If we begin down this path of legalizing something other than the Constitution's legal norm for families we must understand that we are on a slippery slope that leads towards altering the legal norms for the entire Constitution and all the rights that we as a people have been given will be available for a vote. There are unalienable rights that we have claimed and I would suggest that one unalienable right is that of having a mother and father in the family. I know that is an unalienable right of the human race because God himself mandated the necessity of both a father and a mother, not only in His commandments but in how human life is created. Of this right, I have no doubt. I do not believe that we can continue to destroy traditional families without repercussions as an entire society - all races, religions and sexual preferences combined.

We ask that "God Bless America" and state, "In God We Trust". We state that we are "One nation under God" and that we are "Indivisible". Yet, how can we ignore the basic tenets of the ten commandments by getting rid of families with a mother and father (who we are commanded to honor); allowing abortion to act as a method of birth control when we are commanded not to kill; forgetting to love our neighbors as ourselves no matter what their race, religion or creed are? How can we state that we are 'indivisible' when we have become so divided regarding politics, principles and prejudices?

Perhaps these are the exact reasons why so many question the existence of God - because our laws speak against His existence. Thus, my question is: Do we feel that we can maintain the right, collectively, as a nation to call upon God for protection when we are continually abandoning what He has asked of us?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A hunting we will go... A hunting we will go...

This past weekend our family tried our hand at geocaching! After some initial map confusion (meaning Mom was in charge of the map, GPS system and directions) we were finally able to drive to the basic destination! We parked and walked for a bit along a nice sidewalk...then we turned off the sidewalk and ventured into grass, prickers, cactus and bushes! We had fun following the GPS' directions to locate the cache! When we finally got to a small cliff on the trail we all voted that Dad go down and retrieve the cache!

Dad climbed down the cliff, over some dirt and into - yes, into - some cactus to retrieve the cache! He was bleeding a bit and was in some pain... but, he found it! We were so excited to open it up and add our names to the list of 'finders'! When geocaching it is customary to bring things to place in the geocache and to take something out of the cache. We placed some toys from the children, some American and Mexican coins and we retrieved the stone statue that is pictured! It is a wonderful momento of our first modern treasure hunt! We had great fun - minus Dad pulling an entire cactus chunk out of his leg!

We have already mapped out some more caches to hunt! We not only enjoyed finding a little piece of treasure but the view was spectacular as well! This is a wonderful activity for families to enjoy together - every member of our family had a great time hunting for hidden treasure! Enjoy the pictures and let us know if your family enjoys geocaching as well!

Friday, September 26, 2008

What a difference an idea can make!

Looking at this picture one notices the lovely white home with a blue door... but immediately realize that it is a recycled shipping unit like the one pictured next to it! I recently saw these pictures and read about an idea is an amazing idea with tremendous social implications worldwide! This company is thinking 'outside the box' about living inside a box! Below is pictured the basic interior of these amazing homes.

While living here in Mexico my family has been touched by these amazing people that live happy lives in impoverished circumstances. We have done small service projects to help out these families or single mothers with children; yet this idea is a paradigm shifting, life changing possibility! This company wants to take the old, used, metal storage crates and recycle them to create homes for those who are living in muddy, bug infested, rotting shacks. This ingenuity could quite possibly create homes for millions of homeless people!

Visit to learn more about this ingenious company! I hope that their idea will inspire you! If you are able to donate please do... and if nothing else sign up to learn how these homes can impact millions of people. What a difference an idea can make!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Giving Thanks

I realize that I am sharing these thoughts a couple of months before the official day of "Thanksgiving" but this morning I have been thinking of some of the more mundane things that I am grateful for.

1. Dishwashers - for my first three months here, in Mexico, I did not have a dishwasher although I DID have wrinkled, peeling skin on my hands, two less hours a day to do other things and lots of bubbles!
2. Medical Advice in your own language - Enough said!
3. Monitored Security Systems - With all that is going on in Mexico at the moment I wish I had BRINKS watching my house when I'm not there.
4. Bicycles - Our kids really miss their bicycles! It will be nice to get home and be able to buy some... they are about $170 USD+ here!
5. Crisco or Vegetable Shortening - They don't have that here - a friend just did tell me about it in an 'American' store but the price was over $15 USD for one tub!
6. LDS Bible References - No, Spanish Bibles DO NOT have our cross references. (I hear the church is translating and working on it though.)
7. Target - Yes, Target or any other store that has reasonably priced, cute clothes. I have not bought any clothes for our family here in over a year! (We do our shopping only at Christmas and our quick, summer trips back!)
8. Casual Conversation - To just 'talk' to other mothers or friends requires so much WORK when you are translating everything! (Although, now it is much easier than it was!)
9. Family - We miss you all!
10. Right to Bear Arms - I so wish we could have a gun in the house down here... in fact, when I come home Rey, Michael, David and Jimmy - will you teach me to shoot? Then I can give Angelina Jolie a run for her money! Seriously, I wouldn't mind knowing that I can protect my beautiful children in any given situation. They do make cute, designer guns, right?

Those are the things I am grateful for that I miss having. There is so much in our lives that we take for granted and I am learning first hand what we really need and what constitutes wants! This experience has helped me see how happy people truly are when they have little more than family and friends. It has given me a new appreciation for the tremendous blessings I took for granted everyday.

Take a break today and kiss your dishwasher and your family!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A Gal with Gumption...

Gumption: –noun Informal. 1. initiative; aggressiveness; resourcefulness: With her gumption she'll make a success of herself. 2. courage; spunk; guts: It takes gumption to quit a high-paying job. 3. common sense; shrewdness.

Sarah Palin seems to be a principled woman who is taking the spotlight and the nation by storm! She is articulate, beautiful and brave. She is standing as role model for women everywhere and I LOVE that she is defending her decisions regarding motherhood and pro-life! She is truly giving back to women (in a public way) the choices the feminists pulled away... the innate choice to CHOOSE to be a mother!

Many in today's society look down on the choice to be a mother because it is a 'waste' of talent, resources, time blah blah blah... in fact, I have even been personally asked, "Why did you bother going to college for your degree when all you do is stay home and waste it?" YES, I was actually asked that question!

My answer is - I am here, as a Mother, because that is what I WANT to be. I could be a great many things but foremostly I will be a wife and mother! If women truly have the right to choose anything they want to be then the choice to be a wife and mother is not only defendable but commendable! In this day and age when the world is an open door of opportunity I personally applaud those who choose Motherhood first and truly make a difference!

I am grateful that such stellar, female role models are on the national stage at this time and they have put Motherhood first and then they have fulfilled their roles in the community!

I applaud Sarah Palin and hope we will see more of these women speaking up and coming forth to support the idea of Family First even as they fulfill community roles!

It must be added that I do earnestly hope that her morals, values and principles are as solid in her personal life as they appear to be in her public life. I hope the best for this VP candidate and I hope that those women who are looking to her as a role model will find that their confidence in her is well founded.

¡Bautismo en Mexico!

We celebrated our daughter's important decision to be baptized at the end of August! She chose to have her service in Spanish and her Dad learned the necessary words to perform the ordinance in another language! What a wonderful experience it was - she invited many of her school friends and their families and she enjoyed the support of her grandparents (Grammie & Gramps Smith) being here as well!

The talks were given in both Spanish and English by her parents (who were nervous - but made it through the bilingual talks) and our little Ballard Bunch sang a musical number in English.

Overall, the baptismal ordinance was the same... but the service was unique due to the language differences! It was a spiritual and memorable experience! We are so proud of our daughter's decision!

Afterward she received some special gifts including her first set of scriptures and her first journal with all of the testimonies of her parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins that were sent just for her special occasion!

She is a special, young lady and we are grateful to have the privelege to have her as a part of our family!

Friday, August 29, 2008


I have not blogged for a while... but, to be honest, I have not cooked, cleaned, remembered to do anything useful or been of use to any of my family members for the 4 weeks before my parents visited... and "Why?", you ask... because I have been 'bitten' by the "Twilight" Series books by BYU graduate Stephenie Meyer!

A family recently moved here from America and they just happened to have the first three books in the "Twilight" series. So, I casually borrowed the first one on Friday - Saturday was busy and I didn't get to open it... but, it was a story about vampires so really, I wondered how good it could be? Then, after a full Saturday I opened the book and read from 8pm to 3am Sunday morning! HOLY COW! I found myself in love, enthralled and enjoying the story! After church Sunday I read the entire book, AGAIN! (Seriously, my husband thought I was a bit insane; he didn't get a 'real' dinner on Sunday!) Then, on Monday I reread my favorite parts in between housework, appts., etc.

Yes, I was officially hooked! I read "New Moon" and "Eclipse" on our family trip to San Antonio (twice each) and then finished "Breaking Dawn" for the 3rd time the other day! I have thoroughly enjoyed the books and look forward to seeing the 'Twilight' movie it comes out!

In an interview with one of the actor's portraying a member of the Cullen family on the film set it was stated, "The message is clear, you can choose morality or death!" I love that this is an interpersonal story on love and what it truly can be like... plus, I love the fact that the main female character longs for eternity with her true love! It makes me grateful that I truly have, "FOREVER"!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

We Wish You Were Here!

We are enjoying time with my parents who are down visiting from the Boston, Massachusetts area. We will update the blog when we have some time! We miss you all and wish you were here!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Tip of the Day!

It was this past Sunday afternoon and I was directing a two ward (church congregation) choir; we have been preparing for a new building dedication in September. Their were many wonderful church members at there including the Bishop of our ward.

We practice many of the new songs sitting and then I have to ask everyone to stand - well, the word for 'everyone stand' is 'pararse' - I had made numerous mistakes over the past two months trying to say this word I would say 'pasarse' (everyone pass) or 'pusarse' (doesn't mean a thing)... and THEN, I got it! Finally, I said "Parase, por favor." I was so excited and the choir was cheering (I have seriously slaughtered their language, obviously) and so jokingly I said, "Finalamente, Soy caliente!" which I thought meant "Finally I got it, I'm hot." Well, they ALL just started laughing HYSTERICALLY and wagging their fingers at me and some of the men had incredulous looks on their faces... NOT GOOD! Noone would tell me what I said... just that it wasn't too good - which I could obviously gather from the look on the men's faces and the women laughing and wagging their fingers at me...

So, that brings me to my Spanish class yesterday and I was explaining the entire situation to my Spanish instructor. She just laughed and laughed and then explained that "Soy caliente" means "I am hot" but in an extremely passionate sense! So, my bishop probably got a real kick out of that one! We'll see just how long I stay in the Relief Soceity Presidency!

So, the Tip of the Day is: Unless you are speaking to your spouse, don't say "Soy Caliente"!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Our little band of explorers visited an adorable, colonia town, Tequisquiapan. This little town's square was laid out beautifully. We had a wonderful lunch overlooking the square, listened to music on a type of xylophone (which was the beginning of the end for my husband) - it was a bit loud and methodical. After a lovely lunch we toured the square and the artisians market. The afternoon was short; but we enjoyed our time together and enjoyed visiting this little town. I particularly like the stained glass window in the cathedral - it is pictured above!

Friday, July 25, 2008

My America... crossing the U.S. / Mexico Border

Our little family left early on a dark, cool, Mexican morning to begin our journey back to visit our home; our America. The drive was without incident and my husband had done all the necessary homework to know what bridge we wanted to cross to get home. As we neared the border the road signs that directed us to the international bridges were vague and we had to make a split decision - that decision took us to the wrong bridge. The bridge we were approaching was for commercial traffic only; as we approached the bridge one of the Mexican authorities waved our car off to a turn-around and kindly explained where we needed to go.

As we turned the car around to find the correct bridge I heard one of our children say, "But isn't that America? Right there?" pointing toward the U.S.A. My husband and I explained that we had to go to the correct bridge and off we went... When we finally approached the correct bridge all was quiet as we drove through the check-points with Mexican military armed with semi-automatic weapons. The quiet in our car was amazing and I realized that my children no longer pointed out the fact that we are so alarmingly close to semi-automatic guns. It bothers me a bit that they have gotten used to seeing weapons in their casual, daily lives. We pass through the Mexican inspection and advance toward the bridge spanning the 'Rio Grande'.

One of my children yells excitedly, "There it is! There's the flag!" and I look up with the rest of our family and see the flag beckoning us as we drive home. The U.S. checkpoints were more thorough and we stopped to answer numerous questions - as a Border patrol agent asked me a question my eyes teared up as I tried to speak. He kindly smiled and said, "I understand"; because he realized that I wasn't looking at him - I was looking at the American flag. For that moment it didn't matter that I was from Massachusetts, my husband was from Texas we had child born in another state; it didn't matter whether we were Democrats or Republicans. In that instant we were all Americans and we were being welcomed back to a land that we had taken for granted; a land that we have now grown to love with a ferocity that surprises me.

I don't know that I will ever see the flag of the United States again without thinking of that moment and of all that I have taken for granted. But, I have no question that "This is my country; Land that I love". God Bless America!

Texas Family Reunion

Our kids had a great time playing with their cousins - we wish we had more time to stay and visit! We had a great time visiting the museum, playing water relay games, having 'Dinner Theater' nights, bouncing around the trampoline and spending time with our family!

Aunt Tammy and Uncle Glenn were great! Thank you tons for opening your home to a riduculous number of people - I am still amazed that we all were able to get ready for the day before 10 am!

Our family had a great time and we loved making such great family memories!

San Antonio Children's Museum

One of our most recent adventures took us across the U.S. / Mexico border by car! We decided to drive up to San Antonio to spend some 'family time' with the Ballard family and get some good ole' shopping done!

Before the rest of the family got into San Antonio, TX our little group went and played at the SA Children's Museum. We had tons of fun - from the 'airport' to the huge human bubbles - we had a great time together!

Last Day of School!

The kids have done it! They each have shown SO MUCH COURAGE and determination! This school year they overcame so many changes - a new home, a new country, new friends, a new language, new customs, and a new school! We are so, so, SO proud of them!

The first day of school there were teary eyes and questioning looks as we left them in their classrooms. I cried most of the morning wondering whether or not we had made the right decision in coming to Mexico! But, then, seeing all that they have accomplished my husband and I are amazed at the strength of our little family! What amazing children we have been blessed with and we wanted to share with you the smiles of the Last Day of School!

Mexican Beach Party

Water, a bounce house, music, food and fun made up our Ladybug's Birthday Beach Party! Our little one doesn't officially turn eight until August... but we decided to have her birthday a bit early because many friends are moving after the school year was completed!

We had a great time - my husband and Ladybug put together a great CD of music - she chose Beach Boys, Cheetah Girls and High School Musical music! The music was blaring and we had a great time! She even chose to honor the Mexican tradition to allow her friends to shove her face into her cake! (Of course, I think that is a very odd tradition and a bit gross!)

Feliz Cumpleanos!

Kindergarten Camp

Our littlest lady finished her Kindergarten year and the school decided to send the class out in style! The Kindergarten classes had an overnight camp at the school themed after the Egyptians! They made their banner, played paint wars, made hieroglyphics and each received a lovely necklace. Our little gal had a wonderful time with all her friends and made some wonderful memories! We are so proud of her accomplishments - her teacher has informed us that she is completely bilingual! Her only struggle has been learning to read in both languages - often we will hear her pronouncing English words but we won't recognize them because she is using the Spanish pronunciations! So cute... our little blonde Mexicana!

The Mexican Riviera

Our family took a few days out of life to go and visit Ixtapa (a resort city on the Mexican Riviera) and Zihuatanejo (a nearby fishing village)! We had a wonderful time walking along the beaches, body surfing in the waves and enjoying evening swims in the resort pool overlooking the sunset over the ocean. It was a beautiful and relaxing trip!

On the trip my cute husband bought me my first 'Loco Coco' (Crazy Coconut) - it was a coconut that had been prepared and a straw stuck into it! The natural coconut juice was good... at first... but there was SO MUCH JUICE - I ended up sharing it with my whole family and after the juice was done (well, after we dumped out a BUNCH of juice) we brought it back to the resturant and they opened the coconut and gave us the 'flesh' - and it was soft - very different than the type of coconut we have in the United States.

Our girls got their first beach braids... that they termed their 'Mermaid Braids'. They wore them for about a month afterward! (They were a bit attached.)

We had a great time in Ixtapa and we will be returning soon with my parents - we'll have more pictures at that time because one of my sweet, darling children happened to 'play' with my digital camera and I found most of our Ixtapa pictures gone and in their place pictures of a computer screen! Lucky for them that we are planning on going back! You would think that they would each use their own cameras and leave mine alone... but no... not when Mom's camera is beckoning to them!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Flag Ceremony Honoring our Swim Team!

Our swim team was honored at a flag ceremony. Here is a picture of those team members who could attend the ceremony - notice all the medals! I had no idea that one of my teammates was world-famous until this the national competition! She (far right) received eight medals (all in her hand) and broke the current national record for the 100m crawl in her category! She is definitely both an inspiration for me and a force to be reckoned with for the rest of the swimming world! Another teammate (middle front) is 63 years old and she LOOKS GREAT and took many medals for her category as well! I only hope to look that good when I am her age! We all have a great time together and we enjoy practice time, races and team breakfasts. They are amazing ladies.

Mi Familia es como un arbol...

Our little Ladybug participated in a flag ceremony at her school about families. She prepared (with the help of Mom) a poster depicting our family and explaining that families are like trees - they get strength from their roots and the branches grow to protect us. Her class was very excited to participate in a flag ceremony and she did a wonderful job sharing her portion of the ceremony in Spanish! Great job Ladybug!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day!

I have been blessed with some of the greatest men life can afford to share and I would like to take a moment to express my appreciation for them!

Primarily, My father - Words cannot express the gratitude and love that I have for my father. He has raised four children but has always remained wise; he has laughed with us through our teenage years (and cried) while never being less than exemplary; he has weathered the storms of life and never lost faith, hope and charity; he has guided us through life with his love, all the while planting seeds of testimony in our lives; he has guided us through birth onto baptism, missions, eternal marriage and now into families of our own with a quiet strength; he has truly blessed our lives as nothing less than a "Father"!

My Father-in-law - When we first met his smile spoke volumes and I knew that I was welcome in his home and family. In the years since I have been welcomed into this family he has been blessed with great joy and endured trials and sorrows but he has never lost his focus on strengthening his family. He is a tremendous example of perseverance, endurance and continuing on against the odds. He is quick to find the best in others and to share with them what he sees. The greatest gift he has blessed me with is that of his son and the unshakable values and principles that he taught in his family. I find it hard to express my gratitude for the man who taught and guided his son - my husband! He has been a stellar support and friend in the adventure of marriage.

My husband - His faith, knowledge and radiant spirit attracted me immediately and those traits have never diminished. As he has become the Father of my children we have had our tests, yet his counsel and wisdom have always rung true and I have never gone wrong when I have followed his counsel. I could not ask for a better example for my children to grow up with - their father is full of faith; he works diligently for both business and church; he cares for all humanity and will serve and help whenever the opportunity arises; he loves our children unconditionally; he loves me and most importantly he loves the Lord; he serves our family as the best husband and father we could ever hope for!

Thank you each - your lives have touched the lives of myself and my children and I am blessed and better because of who you are! I love you!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Saturday is a Special Day...

After a morning of WORKING HARD in the house for three hours - the kids were mopping floors, dusting, vacuuming, doing laundry & dishes, and watering ALL the plants. The kids and I decided to go and have some fun!

We visited a children's play area and the kids enjoyed the bumper boats and the swinging ball (as pictured). The children ALL got dizzy playing so hard - but we stayed for three hours and played and played! (Today they have blisters on their hands from too much fun!) 'Daddy' was able to come and visit with us for a couple of hours during the lunch period - it was nice to see him because he has been SO busy lately.

After a day of cleaning, playing, and a fiesta for a friend's birthday our little ones fell into bed after their showers and had a HARD time waking up for our 8am sacrament meeting!

Friday, May 23, 2008

National Masters Swimming Competition in Mexico!

Well, today was the big Mexican National Swimming Competition - and am I ever glad that I approached it as a fun activity to enhance my exercising schedule BECAUSE there were 2,200 swimmers competing! It was great fun. I didn't come in either first or last in my heat... somewhere in the middle - which was a success, I thought, considering there were swimmers there with official Beijing 2008 training gear... they were going to the Olympics and they were there at the National Competition! Granted, that shouldn't be surprising considering they will be representing their country in a few months... but, when you are a mother of four children just in it for the experience and exercise it definitely is an EXPERIENCE to be in a competition with Olympians! (Just for the record I was not in their category or anywhere close!) So amazing - they cut the water so quickly... it was really amazing to watch them in person!

I performed the breast stroke which is nearly my weakest competitive stroke. (My butterfly still looks like a fish with one fin cut off flailing through the water...) I did 50m in 1:05 minutes (which is REALLY SLOW for those of you who have no idea how long a minute can actually feel). I am attributing my time to the fact that I was competing with a jammed toe... but, more likely I was just slower than the other swimmers in my heat... oh well! In the spirit of fun and experience it was well worth it! "Viva"!

UPDATE: When I was commenting on the Olympic swimmers at the National Competition my trainer informed me that although there were great swimmers at the tournament there were no Olympic swimmers - when I told her about the shirts she replied that they were selling those shirts outside of the complex! So, don't believe every tee-shirt you see!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Congratulations Dr. Smith

This past weekend my brother graduated with his doctorate degree! He and his amazing wife have attended school for the last eight years. They have three beautiful children and are a wonderful example to many who wonder whether or not it is possible to have a family while going through graduate school! (Please note that I did mention that my sister-in-law is amazing - that is much of the reason why my brother was able to balance school and family!)

My brother has worked diligently to receive his education, serve in church and be a wonderful husband and father. He has stood as an incredible example to his family, friends and all who come in contact with him! It is amazing to me that my little brother who I played with in the sandbox, pushed around in a wagon (once which fell over and he broke his arm... which none of us believed for a time) and who would kindly help grab hair pins or make-up for me when I was getting ready to go out has completed such a fantastic goal and will now have the privilege of shaping the minds of students and contributing to the knowledge of the world through his reasearch. Both his colleagues and students could not ask to know a better person - for they will learn not only from his words but also from his life.

I am so grateful for my family and for the fact that their lives are exemplary both privately and publically! I, for one, wish to thank them each for who they are because they have made a difference in my life as well as have impacted all those around them.

Why did the chicken cross the road?

I don't quite know the answer to this age old question... but this week while taking the kids to school I have had to literally stop the car twice to let 'the chicken' cross the road! Lucky for the chicken I wasn't running late getting the kids to school this morning!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

OUCHes and Hairspray!

OUCH! OUCH! OUCH! I apologize sincerely to my brothers, sister and my cute husband for all the times I told them to toughen up and handle a jammed body part! I have told my husband on one particular occasion when he was in similar (or worse) pain to 'be a man' and handle his injured foot. In my defense I didn't think it was a real injury - it turned out that he had to have surgery under sedation to fix that problem! I obviously judged that one wrong...

Yesterday, after playing a rousing game of water soccer (soccer on an inflatable soccer field with water dousing the entire plastic field - see !Dia de Familia!) I realized that when I catapulted my body into a sprawl of people while I was kicking at a ball I definitely hit something other than the ball... I hit, full force, the heel of another person!

Normally I have cute, little feet - but now, one toe on my right foot is SO swollen and SORE! OUCH! I was SO SURE I broke my toe... but of course my husband who has actually broken parts of his body before examined my toe and declared that I had only 'jammed' it. OUCH! So, today, I hobbled around church in my most protective, least restrictive high heels! I have to say, I am exhausted from walking around in pain! NO FUN! Of course tonight there are the mandatory 'extra' meetings! I may just wear a sneaker to it...

Then after church I made lunch for our little ones and our son walks in with plastered hair. At first I thought it was just water... then I touched it! You could drop an anvil on my son's head and I don't think it would crack the layer of hairspray on this child. I asked how much hairspray he used and he replied, "TONS, Mom, TONS!" At least he has good aim and his eyes aren't permanently damaged!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

You Know you've been in Mexico too long when...

My husband's Top 3 Encounters that have helped him realize we have been in Mexico for a while...

1) Your daughter while playing Star Wars on the PS3 says:
"Dad, go play Juan!"
"Who, do you mean HAN Solo?"
"Oh... yeah, yeah!"

2) Another daughter after bringing the new cat, Suess, food says:
"Here Jesus!"
"Who, isn't the cat's name Suess?"
"Oh, yeah Suess."

3) After our little Strawberry was using her Spanish at dinner Jimmy turned to me and said, "I think she speaks Spanish best - because I didn't understand what she was saying!"

Have I Done any Good in the World Today?...

Over the last few months I have pondered about what I can do to make a difference while we are here in Mexico! (Having all the kids in school for half the day makes me feel that I need to do more in my day now!)

English Classes:
I was reading in "Preach My Gospel" and in the section regarding learning your language it stated that all people, if given the opportunity should learn English. I then realized that I could teach English while I was here... so, for the last month I have been pulling together the curriculum, making handouts for the public, scheduling the missionaries to attend as translators, working with our ward and preparing to teach these classes.

This last week was our first class and we had four Spanish speakers - we were communicating back and forth about everything from English verbs to how to speak about hydraulic systems and marketing! We had a great time and the two hours flew by! The students all took handouts and were excited to share this free service with friends and family. (So the next class promises to be larger!)

I had a warm, tingly experience after class...a young man approached me and asked why I would do this for the people. I shared my testimony of service and that we are all here to help one another; I could tell that he was grateful for the opportunity to learn; for him it will open doors otherwise closed in the business world. I hope for those who come to the classes that their lives will be better because they are able to communicate with more of our Father in Heaven's children.

As I was preparing these classes I expressed my surprise to a friend that of all the languages in the world the church would request that as many people as possible learn English; the sister to whom I expressed this thought stated, "Andrea, English is the language of the Restoration."

I had not considered English in that manner until she made the comment. I have not before realized HOW GRATEFUL I AM TO SPEAK ENGLISH! In all the world, no matter which country I have traveled into I have always been able to communicate and I have not realized what a blessing that has been in my life! In fact, I have never considered not being able to communicate - granted, I have worked HARD here to learn and communicate in the Spanish language but it was never a worry for me.

But of course, talking has never really been a problem...

Parent In-School Volunteer Program:
The second endeavor that I have undertaken to begin here is a Parent Volunteer Program in my children's school during school hours. In the U.S.A. I would volunteer weekly in the children's schools - but here when we visited all the schools and I asked about the volunteer programs they looked at me as though they didn't understand English (which they all did). They do not have parent volunteers in school here although they do have groups similar to the PTA - and they weren't quite sure what to do with me. So, I began working with the principal of the Pre-School and Elementary levels and I have begun working in the classrooms (I have been working in our children's classrooms which is COMPLETELY UNHEARD of here because the administration believed that with a mother in the classroom that children will not listen to the teacher - so they have been assessing my children's reactions while I am in the classroom as well). I have also been providing the school with example handbooks of instructions for volunteers, badges, sign-in sheets, etc. This year the program will be by invitation only and will serve as a pilot program. We hope everything will succeed and that parents will be excited about being more involved in the lives of their children in the schoolroom!

Our own Dr. Suess...

A little gray and white cat found our home and we have 'adopted' this little cutie. She is strictly an outdoor cat and she fits in well with the ducks and rabbits - we are rapidly becoming the Granja de Ballard - Ballard Farm! She is a friendly, little cat and we have enjoyed having her or him around (we haven't gotten close enough to distinguish). Our little man named the cat, "Suess" - we all thought it fit perfectly!

!Dia de La Familia!

When you put together families, food and tons of water you get a day of wet, crazy, fun! Our family had a fantastic time at the Family Fun day sponsored by our chlidren's school! There was four types of games that were played by differnt 'teams' in a rotation style! We played water balloon volleyball; submarine (a pair of people stand one behind the other the head of the 'submarine' is supposed to pull bandanas from the 'tail' of other submarines and the tail is supposed to protect the team's bandana from being pulled); water soccer on an inflatable, wet, soccer field and traditional Mexican games! The families had a great time together and we learned some traditional Mexican games - one was a mix of duck, duck goose and Red Rover and the other was a type of 'freeze' game.

The children enjoyed the water games the best, of course! The water volleyball game was a big hit and the water soccer game was mother's and children against fathers (hmmm... wonder whose idea that was?) probably the father's! Sufficed to say the father's team won - the women and children's team had plenty of goal attempts but my dear husband was the goalie and did his job extremely well - so well that other mother's were telling me to go and distract my husband! We had tons of wet fun!

The school mascot was walking around and posed with the children for one of our pictures! We had fun with all the other students and their families.