Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Our Christmas Projects...

Twas the week before Christmas and all through the house our little bunch was busier than the busiest mouse...

We've laid tile floors, re-set toilets and built these two entertainment centers on either side of the fireplace over the last week and a half! My cute husband has been home for two weeks straight and we are enjoying having him here! In between all of our constructing and de-constructing we have had time to spend with our wonderful children and we have enjoyed a memorable Christmas season as well.

Here are the pictures of the entertainment centers we built and a table that we bought for our anniversary / Christmas. (Note: We did NOT build this one!)

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from our family to yours! We cherish you in our memories, thoughts and prayers!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas Wishes...

I am so very grateful for our four wonderful children. This season, as I was going about getting prepared for Christmas and presents, I found the children's wish list. Among other things one child wrote, "A red jacket for my mother like the one she lost - size Medium in womens" and another child wrote, "A nativity for my mother - she likes them".

I thought I was a great child... but I never remember putting gifts for my wonderful parents on my Christmas wish list! This little discovery brought tears to my eyes and a gratitude to my heart for the sweet kindnesses we all share at Christmas.

So, today I am grateful for tremendous children who are learning that it is as important to give and realize the needs of others are as important or more important than our own!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Another Addition to the Family...

Our family felt the need to balance a bit more the boy to girl ratio - so, on Halloween at the door of Nana & Papa Ballard - our little man received a special little Halloween 'treat' whom he immediately named, "Vader".

Our little man is loving having such a wonderful friend around the house! On the other hand, I am asking myself if all the fuss is worth it? Seriously, people kept telling me it would be like having another child; I found that hard to believe. Yet, now, I find myself in complete agreement - although, I might add... I believe children are easier - at least you change diapers instead of finding little 'presents' around the house! Ugh! Each day I am ready to give this puppy away... but then I see the look in our son's eyes when he runs in the door from school.

If I can hang in there... I think they'll be great friends!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A prayer for the President

My family does pray for the First Family, their safety and the hope that they will have the heart to listen to the collective voice of the American people and the courage to fight for that voice.

Then, I received this email - I thought my friends in the blogosphere might enjoy it as well.

We were in slow-moving traffic the other day and the car in front of us had an Obama bumper sticker on it. It read: "Pray for Obama. Psalms 109:8".

My husband's Bible was lying on the dash board. He got it, opened it up to the scripture and read it. He started laughing. Then he read it to me... I couldn't believe what it said. I had a good laugh, too.

"Let his days be few; and let another take his office." Psalms 109:8 (KJV)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

My admiration...

As I sit here exhausted, tired and simply grateful that our little family has lived another day without my cute husband around - I am finding myself in absolute awe of single mothers! I barely made it through today and I know that I only have to do this for a week or two at a time rather than an indefinite period.

To all of my single friends who are raising children - I cannot tell you how much strength you inherently have. Many of you look toward life with a brave face and solid spirit. You surely have the help of heaven as you raise your little ones and I might even suggest that you may have more help than parents in traditional, two-parent homes - for our Father in Heaven knows how much you truly do need that help!

To my single friends - I think of you so often, cry for you at times and pray for you always. What tremendous strengths you have and what a precious protection you must have from heaven. You inspire me to be stronger, do more and offer my children that well-rounded love that you give daily - the type of love that has the sweetness of a mother and the strength of a father.

You are amazing and, especially tonight, - you have my admiration.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Lil' Gypsy

We have been married eleven years and in those years we have moved 12 times! Yes, you read that right... can it even be possible, yes! Those moves have included apartments, homes, haciendas and hotels! They have taken place in only two states and two countries!

Through all of this I have decided that I am addicted to houses and change! I love finding houses and making them great. It is just fun - it makes me smile and it has allowed me to work on major projects while being a stay at home mother! I just like the fact that I have been able to stay sane (thus far) while raising these four little cuties! Change - is so fun - I love meeting new people and making new friends!

So, this past 6 months my dear husband has begun introducing me to his friends and co-workers as his 'lil' gypsy. Before his new nickname for me I didn't really think much about how much we move... I love change. I love adventure. But, I wasn't sure about the nickname. But, I have decided that I don't really mind too much - if a gypsy loves adventure, meeting new friends and faces, moving around and trying as much as life has to offer as possible - then, I am a "gypsy"!

What this lil' gypsy does struggle with is being left behind while her cute husband travels from Montreal to Mexico - to San Diego and Walla Walla, Washington (ok, he didn't go to Walla Walla - but you can't talk about Washington without mentioning that funny little town). It is hard being the one left behind to single handedly manage or rather love four little children and a new puppy all while remodeling a home! I think I will add resilient to my lil' gypsy attributes list.

These last 5 months while we have been back in Texas I have had a husband for about half the time! I am living the single mother lifestyle - all while attempting to unpack from yet another move! I believe I have the pack / unpack part of life down to a science! I have personally worn brand new boxes out - I think the average life span of a box is between 6 and 8 moves.

We or rather, I, have begun looking at houses again... this one has been great for the past 9 months... but, once the renovations are done I am ready to move on either that or maybe, just maybe, I could stay here long enough to decorate!

Project of the Day...

Since moving back to Texas we have been doing SO many projects - from tiling, stripping wallpaper, laying wood floor, etc. - but none of those are completely done - so, I needed to do a quick project from start to finish. So, I decided to convert the lower portion of a bunk bed into "a galaxy far, far away". This project was quick and easy - it can be done with comic strip characters, 'Spiderman' fabric, or fabric for 'Hot Wheels' cars to play on!

I bought 15/32" plywood ($17.95) and 2.5 yards of fabric ($10.82 on sale) - Then layered an old sheet under the print fabric (to insure there will be no splinters in our galaxy) and used a staple gun to put it all together!

Our little man loves, loves, loves all things Star Wars. Thus I decided he needed a full play space for his little Jedi, the Millenium Falcon and various other ships that I cannot name.

The finished product with all the colors and planets was a bit busy for me... but our little man loves it!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

After the Weekend Getaway...

Yes, we are alive - my cute husband and I loved, loved, loved our time at the beach -whether riding horses on the sand (and in the surf) or jet skiing with dolpin pods or just eating out together, alone, without spilled drinks, flying food or requests for more ranch dressing! It was wonderful!

Upon our return home I have learned how to lay engineered wood flooring and with the help of a professional was able to lay about 500 sq. ft. of wood floor in this house! It looks great!

Now, I am preparing to travel this coming weekend to Mexico - where we were headed a couple of weeks ago anyway... but, we hope - this time - that I make it!

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Weekend Get Away...

Every one needs some time to remember, rejuvinate and relax. This weekend my cute husband and I have been able to take some time to do just that - we were supposed to travel into Mexico to close our storage unit there - but due to some red-tape at the U.S. / Mexico border we were unable to cross.

So instead we have found ourselves rejuvinating and relaxing at South Padre Island, TX. So far, this weekend we have ridden a jet-ski over the open ocean and through pods of dolphins; gone horseback riding on the beach; watched the sun dip below the ocean's horizon and enjoyed spending time together and refocusing both our marriage and our focus on our family.

During this time my wonderful mother has lovingly cared for all of our children! We have surprised family - dropping in and sleeping at their home in San Antonio - and our family has been so gracious and loving in each case! We are so very grateful for such wonderful family members - on all sides - and for the time they devote to our little family.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Target Slumber Party Promo

Our girls were asked to be the little models for a 'Slumber Party Promotion' at the portrait studios at Target. We scheduled a little photo session for them and these are the products that will be advertised for Target (along with some other pictures)!

The girls had a blast being models for a night... and the pictures came out adorable - if I do say so myself! Watch out Linda Evangelista - there are some more red heads in town!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Picture Pages!

Our cute little family stopped into a Target Portrait Studio to get the kid's pictures taken. Here is a sneak peek at our cuties...

Monday, August 24, 2009

First Day of School!

It is official! All of our children have begun school this morning. We walked them into their classrooms and they were ready to begin their day - our little man began Kindergarten with a wave and the blow of a kiss. The girls all marched into their rooms, sat down and began listening to the teachers speak completely in Spanish! We are so grateful to have the children in a bilingual school so that we can maintain the Spanish language in our lives!

I thought I would feel a sense of freedom, a bit of elation or at least enjoy the silence... but, after dropping our children off at school and my husband off at the airport it seems that the feelings I thought I would have are not here at all. I miss the children and although the house is quiet - my thoughts are turned to them and what they are doing and if they are enjoying their classes. I can't wait to pick them up!

Happy Birthday to our Little Ladybug!

She is nine! Our little 'L' is not so little any longer! This year for her birthday celebration she, Daddy and I went out to a special dinner and then shopped until the stores were closing around us! We had a great time with our daughter... we laughed and ate too much at the restuarant - 'L' benefitted because I didn't have room for my cheesecake dessert! Then we had a great time shopping.

We had given 'L' a budget and told her of our plans for a date; she coyly asked if she could get "anything" with her money. We unsuspectingly replied, "Yes". After dinner when we asked what store she wanted to go to - "PetSmart" was the answer... UH OH! Luckily all the hamsters had nasty, little tempers that day and the guinea pig was too hairy! Phew... next time we will make sure to give a couple tiny limitations to our birthday budgets!

We love our beautful daughter and we are SO glad that she has blessed our family these last nine years with her wonderful smile, willingness to help, sense of 'style' and her friendship!

End of Summer

For the final week of summer we had a cousins sleepover, visited museums, went bowling and to lunch and celebrated our little "L's" ninth birthday! We have had a wonderful summer - returning from Mexico, traveling to New England, going on a whale watch - and seeing whales jump out of the water, visiting water parks and the library (every week) and spending time together!

Here are a few shots of our fun in the museum!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Living in the 'Project'...

When we wake up in the mornings we are living in our little, family project! Over the last few weeks we have pulled up flooring, painted a bed for our little man, stripped wallpaper and my cute husband and I are in negotiations for a half wall in the entry area and a reading nook off the girl's room. (Basically building a new wall in the entry and knocking a hole and building a header in an area of dead space off the girl's room!)

We are busy, busy... but with only 2 more weeks of summer we are going to focus a bit more on summer fun and a bit less on renovation!

Here are some pics of the fun we have had so far this summer!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

For all those who think you can't...

Often people tell me that it is amazing what our little work crew can do to a home - and that they could 'never do that'. But, here are some quick pics of our current painting, demolition and redesign of a fireplace surround & pulling up linoleum to replace with tile projects.

It is easy enough that our children are doing most of the demolition... it really is THAT easy! (But, it must be done with safety in mind.) The kids love it as well - what child wouldn't love to tear a house apart?

Note to my cute husband: I included pics of all the kids helping and one of yours truly! (Since you haven't seen us in over 5 weeks!)

Cute story: While we were on vacation I awoke to some squabbling on Saturday morning and went out to the television area only to find my kids trying to defend why an HGTV television show was more interesting than Saturday morning cartoons! (We watched one HGTV show and then all the cousins enjoyed cartoons together.)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Quotable Quotes

"Goodbye to all you dead guys laying in the dirt."
- Our little Ladybug shouted out while leaving 'Sleepy Hollow Cemetery' in Concord, MA - where Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne & Henry David Thoreau are all buried.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Sights, Sounds and Flavors of New England

While we were have been here, in New England, we have had a wonderful time! We have gone to the beaches in Newport, Rhode Island - Airshows - the New England Aquarium - Old North Bridge - Boston Common & Public Gardens - the site of The Liberty Tree - Tall Ships at Sail Boston 2009 - New Hampshire and more! We have had Canoli's from 'Mike's Pastries' in North End - Steamers & Lobster Dinner at home and TONS of Ice Cream! It has been a wonderful trip - we have enjoyed every day here!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

4th of July - New England Style

I love New England - the sights, the sounds and the parade! Sitting on the curb with my feet dangling into the street I loved sharing my childhood memories with my children. This year's celebration has been very special!

Happy 4th of July!

A place I call 'Home'

I am home! The sights, sounds, smells - the wind in the trees and the breeze in my hair while driving these tree-lined, winding New England roads are flooding my mind with memories of growing up - wonderful fun, dear friends and young romance. The roads are now lined - not only with trees, ponds, fields and rock walls - but also with cherished memories of friends and summers before I truly understood responsibility and the weight it can carry.

Although my home is wherever my family is - I have my own place here - in New England. Here is the place where I began and my personal memories linger. Climbing up the ranger station to look over the lights of my town; Hiking trails throughout the woods here or Franconia Notch; Dancing in the Pavilion on Rowe's Wharf; Watching sunsets or climbing rope courses with friends in Boy Scout Camps; Driving roads; High School Musicals; High School Proms and all the dreams of life, love and all that lay beyond this sleepy, little, New England town.

Since leaving New England I have received educational degrees, traveled and lived abroad, married, had four children, grown and matured (a little) - but returning here it is easy to remember my carefree life.

It has been a great holiday to share with my children - to share places where their mother walked, grew, dreamed, pondered and learned of life, love and service.

I love this place, the thoughts of friends and the tangible memories that fill this New England air. It is as much a part of me as I am a part of my children! This is where I was a child and began to become the woman I am! I am home and I am enjoying every memory in it!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Quotable Quotes

Little L: "Grammie, do we like Yankees?"
Grammie: "No, here in Boston we are in Red Sox country. We don't like the Yankees."
Little L: "Yeah, Yankees Suck!"
(quoting a tee-shirt she had just walked past)

Grammie: "Ummm... we don't use that word."
Little L: "Oh yea,... Grammie, what are Yankees?"

Letterboxing in a Library

One of our first days in the Boston area was damp and rainy - so we stayed inside doing our favorite version of treasure hunting - letterboxing. Our Grammie, our cousins and our family followed clues, filled out a crossword puzzle and solved codes to find this letterbox! We had a great time and enjoyed being detectives!

Funnin' with the Cousins

A couple of weeks ago my cute husband was out of town on business and we had our cousins over to play - there was ballet dancing, spy games, movie nights, make your own pizzas (for dinner), and we had a great time!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

For the Men in my life...

I have been blessed to be surrounded by many men of this caliber. I am grateful for each of their influence in my life - whether it be my father, brothers, father-in-law, friends or ecclesiastical leaders I have been greatly blessed to have had stellar examples of true men throughout my life.

To each of you, I would like to say 'Thank You' with all the feeling of my heart. You have shaped much of my perception of men and I now have the opportunity to pass on to my son the knowledge that you have blessed me with.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Quotable Quotes

"Mom, its like an 'I Spy' picture. If I clean it up I won't be able to play."- Our little man trying to reason his way out of cleaning his bedroom floor.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Zoo

Our family enjoyed going to the Zoo together! We had a great time seeing all of the animals and we were able to get really close to the elephants! It was our little man's first memories of a zoo (in America) and he was amazed by all of the animals - as you can see on his face in some of the pictures. All of the children enjoyed watching the animals interact. We had a great time making memories.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The family who works together...

From Mexico we came home to our next 'Fix this House' project! Everybody is pitching in to make this house a family custom job! From the walls to floor we are changing it all! Our little cowboy chose navy blue and beige and the girls chose a green paint aptly named 'Guacamole'! The other pics are of us ripping the tile off of the fireplace surround and floor - I didn't like the color...

We have the cutest little crew!

Adios Mexico!

On April 27, 2009 I received a telephone call from my husband asking if I could have the house packed and prepared to move our family back to the U.S.A. within 48 hours! On April 30th we were at the airport preparing to return home to America. This was the scene at the airport as we boarded the plane! After a safe arrival back in the U.S.A. and a medical clearance we are now settling back into the luxurious life we know in America! The country and people of Mexico will always hold a special place in our hearts!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

A Mother's Day Note

This Mother's Day I want to take a moment to thank mothers - all mothers - who, from dawn until dusk (and through the night), teach, train, discipline and most of all love the children of this nation.

The greatest accomplishments we will realize will be found within the walls of our own homes as we raise children now who will make a difference in the years to come!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

To my Beloved Sisters in Mexico

Mis Hermanas Amadas –

Les quiero muchísimo – más que palabras decir. Durante mi primer meses en México sentí un gran bienvenida por mi familia de ustedes y este sentimiento crecí mas sobre casi dos años! Agradezco por esta experiencia que les conoce ustedes, mis hermanas Mexicanas, en este evangelio de nuestro Padre Celestial y nuestro Salvador. Agradezco por tu apoyo, amor y paciencia conmigo. Agradezco por tu apoyo de mi familia y especial mis niños! En realidad, tengo una familia Mexicana en este barrio y mi corazón rompe poquito cuando fue a Estados Unidos; fuimos a Estados Unidos pero un parte de mi alma esta aquí permanente – porque aquí aprende más acerca la verdadera de el apoyo de nuestro Padre Celestial y nuestro Salvador. Aprende les ayude por medio de ustedes – cuando recibe este llamamiento yo llore porque solo piense acerca los obstáculos. Ahora en el fin de este llamamiento yo llore otra vez porque yo se están mis amigas, mis hermanas, y mis ángeles. Gracias para ser valientes, para ser parte de mi vida y para ser parte de mi testimonio de hermandad en este evangelio global.

Recibimos mucha consolación en esta escritura: “Tus amigos te sostienen, y te saludarán de nuevo con corazones fervientes y manos amistosas.” (D&C 121:9) Espero para este día con ustedes. Les quiero muchísimo!

Quiero compartir mi testimonio – porque es un regalo más precioso. Yo sé nuestro Padre Celestial vive. Yo se que nuestro Salvador, Jesucristo, vive. Nos aman completamente y por eternidad. Esta iglesia y esta obra es el obra de Dios y nosotros estamos sus soldados en este gran plan. Estamos hermanas y hermanos literalmente en una gran familia – esta familia incluya todas personas, culturas, y naciones. Agradezco por esta experiencia, en México, porque aumentan mi testimonio acerca la familia de Dios. Yo se que tenemos una profeta sobre la tierra – Presidente Thomas S. Monson. Agradezco para este conocimiento. Yo se que el profeta Joseph Smith restará este evangelio y transducción el Libro de Mormon. Yo se que las escrituras tienen las palabras de Dios y el dirección para nuestras vidas. Esta iglesia es verdadera – que gran oportunidad! Hermanas, mientras trabajan aquí, en México – voy a trabajar en la misma obra en Estados Unidos. Pues – adelante, mis hermanas amadas, con fe!

Con todo mi respecto y amor.
Tú hermana en el evangelio – para siempre,
Hermana Andrea Ballard

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

"Born in the U.S.A."

We are on our way home! Yesterday at 9a.m. my cute husband called and asked if I could pack the family within 48 hours... the answer, of course, was "No, are you crazy?" - so, I have a little more time than that. But, the long and short of it is that I am organizing giving our precious feline friend, Suess, away; donating school uniforms; calling friends for items they want to keep and packing all at once! We'll be coming home with 12 suitcases...

Our little family lasted through drug search and seizure raids in our own neighborhood run by the Mexican military; rumors of drug wars; evidence of drug wars - and now a microscopic germ is sending us packing - literally! I have shed tears upon tears - due to this situation we cannot even physically say goodbye to these beautiful, wonderful people we have grown to love!

My only hope is to hitch a flight back with my cute husband's business trips when the epidemic clears and finally say 'adios y les queremos muchisimo'!

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Swine Flu Virus

Our N95 masks were securely in place, full bottles of hand sanitizer in our pockets and an agreement not to touch any hand rails or handles was spoken of before my cute husband and I stepped foot on Mexican soil again yesterday. The scene that greeted us in the Mexico City airport was one that could have easily been from an 'end of days' movie - thousands of people were wearing masks - military personnel handing out masks to everyone who came through the gates while they juggled the automatic weapons in another hand; announcements were running throughout the airport asking all people to wear their masks and immediately report to an on-site health clinic if they had any symptoms. The warning was obvious and serious - we wound through the airport with little to no contact with people and met our driver to take us home.

We have made it home safely and have just been notified that school and public gatherings (church, sports events, etc.) have all been suspended until May 6, 2009. We are sequestering ourselves in our home until we know more of what is occurring with this virus!

These are some of the sights we saw - I did not have my own camera (although I wish I did). These pictures are from the AP.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Quotable Quotes

"Why does Jesus have long hair and why is he wearing a dress?" - our little 'Fresita' asked Sunday while coloring in her Bible coloring book.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Spares & Strikes

Spares & Strikes - you better believe it! (Although I should disclose that the rails were in the upright position...) Our kids were bowling up a storm and enjoying spending time with another American family here in Mexico! We had a great time together and lots of fun!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

This Easter Sunday...

It is my prayer that we remember our Savior, renew our commitment to live as He would have us live and resolve to live in that manner.

With a heart full of gratitude for the gifts of our Savior we wish all a blessed and happy Easter Sunday.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Una Granja Mexicana - Mexican Farm

We had a hee-haw time one afternoon at a farm here in Mexico! The children played with ducks, chickens, bunnies, cows, goats, sheep, horses, etc. We had to leave just before the children had a chance to milk a cow! Aw shucks!

We had a farm-tabulous time!

General Conference Weekend

Our little bunch enjoyed our last General Conference Weekend in Mexico. While we have been here among the Mexican saints we have learned, grown and come to love these people. We will miss all of the wonderful members of the church here in Mexico.

During conference weekend the stake centers are packed to capacity and tents are brought in to cover the parking lots to accomodate all of the members that want to listen to a prophet's voice. It is a wonderful sight to see and a great blessing to have the opportunity to be a part of this community of saints!

We 'gringos' meet in the High Council room to hear Conference in English. Our children will probably miss their comfortable chairs and a table to write on during the October conference of 2009.

Picnic with my Lil' Man!

While his sisters were off playing at friend's houses - my lil' man and I began Spring Break with a picnic. We had a great time together and we brought TONS of bread for the ducks! These ducks were daring... was the days old, crusty bread enought for them? NO! They were after the Subway sandwiches - there was absolutely no duck etiquette code being observed. This was not a flock of geese for the faint of heart - nor was it the place for flip-flops!

Between eating our lunch and fending off the hordes of attaking ducks and geese - I was able to get in these few pictures!

Show & Tell - Seuss, the Cat!

Our little 'Fresita' (Strawberry) took Seuss, our Mexican Persian Cat, to Show & Tell at school! All of the children loved Suess and although he was a bit nervous he did great!

We could not have purchased a better cat! Our children treat him like a baby - dancing with him, slinging him over their shoulders, dressing him up, wrapping him in blankets,etc. - not once has he hurt our children! Quite amazing for a street cat who showed up at our door one day - our little Cat in the Hat!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

April Fools Day!

Well, after our ER incident - I completely forgot about April Fool's Day and to play a joke on my little ones! (Darn it!)

Someone else must have thought of it... because when I went to pick two of our girls up from their swimming classes our eldest daughter was walking out with her towel tightly wrapped around her and the swimming instructors walking with her.

I was intrigued to find out why she wasn't showered and dressed - but, it turns out someone took off with her clothes that were in a locker! The poor girl was a great sport about it - although a little embarassed. Hmmm.... I hope it was an April Fool's joke - because they took her favorite jeans from Christmas and a favorite shirt from her Grammy & Gramps!

I think when I come home I want a sewing machine that does embroidery - I am seriously going to embrioder ALL my children's clothing with our last name in inconspicuous places!

The Emergency Room!

Well... on the eve of April Fools our entire little crew was in a Mexican Emergency Room with blood pouring off of our littlest daughters head. (She is OK!) BUT, while she was showering a large tile fell off of the wall and collided with her head before it broke the tile floor below - it fell from ceiling height (about 9 ft. or so) and it had to have some definite momentum going to crack the tile floor.

I was walking down the hall to check on bathtime when I heard a blood-curdling scream - the kind that stops your heart at the same moment your feet launch into a sprint. I found our little one wrapped in a towel just crying. When I asked what happened noone knew... and then I saw the blood - "Sargeant Mom" took over at that point - everyone was directed to dress, put shoes on and get Daddy while I dressed our little one and carried her to the car - of course, all the while applying pressure to the head wound.

When we finally got to the ER we were wheeled right in and attended to immediately! I have to say how grateful I am that this event happend after we had been in the country long enough to speak the language. Could you even imagine walking into an ER where noone spoke your language and were going to inject your child with something and stitch them up? (I have said before how grateful I am for medical advice in your own language and I have to amend that to say how grateful I am for understanding a language when medical advice was necessary!)

When all was said and done our little 'Strawberry' had stitches and a bandage wrapped around her head. She has received both medical attention and a priesthood blessing. She is doing fine - and she is a little trooper! We are so grateful that the damage was superficial and not worse! She had me take pictures of 'the bloody towel' for show and tell - so, she is going to be FINE!

We are so grateful for all the thoughts and prayers in our behalf - we have been blessed beyond measure during our time in Mexico - and we were blessed again the other night.

Monday, March 30, 2009


"Do you guys want grilled cheese and soap for lunch... I mean, sopa (soup)?" - My cute husband taking lunch orders.


We had a day at the 'estetica' or beauty shop and all of our little ones came out looking adorable!

Here are the photos:

Feliz Cumpleanos Daddy!

This month my cute husband was away from us for his birthday! (He was signing on our next house back in the United States!)

The day he came home the children led him from the front door to their birthday surprise! They helped make the cake, decorate the cake and buy and wrap his present. Each little one also made a special birthday card - some of the cards had even been colored with make-up!

Happy Birthday Daddy! We love you!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Eight is enough... plus one!

This is what the breakfast table looked like for 5 days this month while some friends of ours went on a vacation! We had 9 (yes, nine) children living in our house! The ages ranged from 2 years old to twelve years old! After every meal I washed between 11 and 22 dishes with TONS of silverware! Every night after bathtime I washed 11 towels (because we only have 12 towels to our name while here in Mexico)and we went through 2-3 cereal boxes in one morning - it was pancakes and fruit after that!

We had a blast! The kids were all great - but I had a 2 year old again - 24 hours a day (only for 5 days) but - Wow! that can really remind you of ALL the things that I don't miss during those first few baby years! (But, for the sake of full disclosure, it reminded me of all the cute, little things that we do miss!) The kids loved having playmates around 24/7 and I realized, that if necessary, I could really mother more children... But, only if necessary!

But, for better or worse, we all made it!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Cerro de las Campanas

Our little band of explorers traveled to Queretaro this past month to visit 'El Cerro de las Campanas' or The Hill of the Bells. It is named for the sounds the rocks make when you hit them - when the rocks are struck with other rocks they sound like church bells ringing! It was very interesting.

In 1867, during the French intervention in Mexico, the city of Queretaro was the last capital of Emperor Maximilian I of the Mexican Empire. The Mexican Empire was defeated and on June 19 Maximilian was executed by a firing squad on Cerro de las Campanas together with his Generals Miguel Miramón and Tomás Mejía. Inside the church at the top of the stairs are three marble cubes - these marble cubes represent the exact spots where Maximilian, Miramón and Mejía stood while they were executed by a firing squad. (I found out that they were not executed in the church... that was built later.)

The huge, garganutan statue that you see pictured (with my cute family standing next to it so that you can see just how large it is) is of Benito Juarez, one of Mexico's greatest leaders. The phrase on the statue translates (roughly) to: "Between individuals, like between nations, the respect of people's right is peace."

A legend states that if you are on this hill and hit one of the rocks three times that you will one day be wed! So, all of our children hit the rock... I did to; but I already found my 'Prince Charming'.

Monday, March 23, 2009

For Nana, Papa, Grammie & Gramps

Here are pictures of your adorable grandchildren (do I sound biased?). As you know, they are growing very quickly - and I know that since we are living here, in Mexico, you have felt distanced from them... so, here are some snapshots to love while we are away!

Here are some fun quotes recently asked -

"Mom, what is America like?" - our little man (who was only three years old when we left the U.S.A.)

"Wow, this is like the Sacred Grove - only with horses!" - our Sunshine (while riding horses in the mountains of Mexico)

"I believe that having a dog helps kids grow up better, don't you agree?" - our Little Ladybug trying to convince us she needs a puppy.

"Mom, we need another baby." - our little Strawberry trying to convince us... well, you get the picture - I bought her some more dolls.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

We've come a long way baby...

We officially fit into Mexico... ok, well we are still obviously 'gringos' - the pale, white skin and the little red heads give that away - and each day various Mexicans approach the children to touch their hair and comment on their beauty; BUT, we now feel comfortable in situations surrounded by spanish speakers and we don't think twice about most things - church, grocery shopping, ordering food at resturants, eating at places before we were scared of, talking on the street, etc.

Speaking of eating at places we were once scared of - this picture is of my cute husband's favorite Mexican resturant. Seriously. Whenever he and I meet for lunch or whenever he chooses where our family goes for a weekend meal - it is here! The food is absolutely great, the people could not be more kind and once you get over the 'open air' atmosphere (meaning an occasional fly near or on your meal - you will NOT ever get a discount due to a fly in your soup) it is a great place.

We were here a couple of weekends ago and I took a picture for memories sake... but then, I thought, this picture says a LOT. When we first arrived in Mexico we ate at Chili's, Dominoes Pizza, McDonald's, Burger King, Sam's Club & Costco - and paid an arm and a leg to do it (A meal at McDonald's here cost our family around $40 USD). Now, we'll eat just about anywhere - the food is great and of course, "When in Rome..." (or Mexico - "VIVA!")

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Mexico City Temple

This past weekend my husband and I traveled with our congregation to the Mexico City Temple. It was a wonderful, uplifting and beautiful experience.

We traveled in buses with the members from our area; leaving at 5am. When we arrived at the temple the parking lots were filled to capacity and there were long lines to attend the sessions in the temple. It was wonderful to see all the faithful Mexican members of the church literally lining up to take part in the learning and the supernal beauty that is part of the temple ordinances. My husband and I waited for approximately 2 hours to take part in a temple session. We were able to sit with and quietly visit with the members - we enjoyed immensely their testimonies, their spirits and their dedication.

Although it was a unique experience to attend a session completely shared in the Spanish language - we were each able, once again, to learn something new and to appreciate to a greater extent the absolute magnitude of having a worldwide church! What a blessing it was to take part in an international experience within the temple.

Below is a video produced by the LDS church and shares why temples are built in the church. If you reference the Holy Bible you will find that temples were (and are today) the great symbol of heaven and becoming closer to our Father in Heaven.

If you have question - please watch this video and reference your personal scriptures - look in the Holy Bible for how temples were used in the ancient days and you will find, for yourself, how the LDS church uses temples today.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Our little Iron Man...

Our little man participated in a Mini-Olimpiada - he was chosen to represent his school in the regional races - along with five other students.

He did a wonderful job! I was able to be on the course with all the students (instead of in the stands) because of my great Nikon D90 camera - the administrators of the mini-olympics thought that I was a school photographer - so, I asked the school if I could take pictures for them and I had my pass onto the field... I represented the school and took tons of pictures of all the students - but I have to admit I took a few more of one particular racer!

All the children did a wonderful job... but, of course, I am biased toward this adorable little boy!

Tula Ruins

A couple of weekends ago our band of explorers visited the site of the ruins of 'Tula' with the 15 ft. statues in stone - the Atlantes. The Toltec civilization lived here and the archeologists believe that the orders of the jaguar and eagle warriors and the practice of massive human sacrifices are likely to have begun here.

If you will look at some of the pictures of the reliefs you will notice the theme of a human being devoured by a serpent. This wall is located on the main temple grounds and depicts human sacrifice.

I find the symbolism of the serpent very interesting in this depiction for numerous reasons - first, these ancient peoples thought that they were worshipping a God through human sacrifice; second, in our Christian scripture there is an immortal that is also depicted by a serpent; third, human sacrifice is not practiced as worship to God the Father and his Son. Thus, I thought it was very appropriate that these ancient peoples who practiced human sacrifice to appease the 'God' were representing that immortal being as a serpent. The same being they are depicting in their reliefs, I believe, is the same being that is represented in our Christian literature as a serpent.

Our band of explorers had a great time visiting the museum and the pyramids and seeing the ancient statues and reliefs! We hope you enjoy learning a little about the Toltecs from our experiences! Adelante!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


Monday was the celebration of a Mexican National holiday. Our family had a leisurely day at home, eating out on the terrazas and enjoying the warm Mexican day. Finally, we got a bit wrestless (in other words Mom had to get out of the house). Our little band of explorers decided to go Geocaching!

We followed our GPS guide by car until we had to park and go at it by foot... all the children had turns being the guide and then... we found the box!

It is so exciting for the kids to find the geocaches. It is a treasure hunt for them, every time! It is a great acivity and we all enjoy 'hunting' together! The walking time usually makes for some great time to talk and visit with the kids as well as teach them a bit about orientering!

We had a great time together and hope you enjoy our pictures!

Monday, February 2, 2009


Thanks Grammy and Gramps for giving me the 'CUTIE' paint project. I loved it. Mommy and I made it with paint, glue and sparkles.

Mariposas y Caballos (Butterflies and Horses)

This weekend our little band of explorers traveled to the state of Michoacahn, Mexico to visit another Monarch Butterfly reserve. We had a wonderful time! As we began our trek we passed a corral of horses... of course that opportunity cannot be passed up! So, we purchased two horses (although my muscles tell me today that we should have purchased four) and our children had a wonderful time riding up and down the mountain! My husband and I walked along the horse trail - which I would venture to guess is a LOT more rocky and dusty than the walking trail! My knees, hips, ankles and toenails hurt! Yes, I did say 'toenails' while coming down the mountain (and trying to keep up with the children on the horses) my toes continually hit the front of my tennis shoes... so, therefore my toes are even hurting!

Our little man loved horseback riding - as well as all of our girls! All the way up the mountain my husband and I fielded questions regarding buying a ranch in Texas! (Which we would all love... but it will be farther in the future, if possible at all.) Little man barebacked it and he felt like a 'real cowboy'! All the children were full of life and enjoying the ride. At one point one of the horses with two of our girls on it reared and my heart almost stopped. The girls held on tight and stayed in the saddle! I began to wonder just how tame these horses are... or did the 'owners' just find these horses wandering in the mountains? Nevertheless we had a great time!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

High Up in the Clouds...

On a beautiful, clear morning our little band journeyed high up into the mountains of the Sierra Gordas. As we climbed the mountains we realized that the clouds were getting closer and closer - then, when we rounded a curve and ascended the mountain we found ourselves IN the clouds!

My cute husband pulled over because all of the children wanted to touch the clouds and walk in them! (Little did we know that we would be in the clouds for the rest of the day!)

After driving through muddy, rocky terrain on a narrow stretch of mountain we finally came to Toluquilla - another city of ruins. Here we hummed the tune to 'Indiana Jones' as we looked through the fog to discover a lost city! Seriously, we really felt like we were in a movie! It was great fun... and we have some of the cutest little movie stars - oh, and one really mangy dog that the kids named "Noodles" - the kids were NOT allowed to touch him! You could smell this poor animal about 50 feet away!

Las Ruinas - Ranas

As promised I am posting some of our weekend journeys! The roads in Mexico are generally safe and of sound structure - yet, every once in a while you will see a road that is NOT safe and is obviously beginning to erode. We took a picture of one such road on our drive. Please note, when looking at this picture that traffic has NOT been stopped for repairs and to the right of the road is a drop of probably a mile or more into a mountain ravine - noone would survive...

But, nevertheless, our little band of explorers took off to hazard the unknown and visit some less known ruins in the Sierra Gorda mountains. These ruins consisted of about 150 various structures, including 2 ball courts (which you'll see in the pictures). The city is very impressive and we enjoyed spending time exploring together. Our children noticed that every 'house' (what we assumed to be homes) had a stone structure inside and we surmised that this structure must have been where the fires was placed in the home.

We had a great time and we hope that you will enjoy looking at these pictures! (Note: we were playing with our new camera... so, you'll be privy to some pictures of our children. How did you ever get SO lucky?)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

5 mile mark

I have finally reached a goal - I swam 5 miles (8 kilometros) last week and I am on course to continue that goal weekly! Just thought I would share the joy!

Monday, January 26, 2009

America - "We, the People..."

Teotihuacan, the Mexican Riviera, the Missions of the Sierra Gorda mountains, the ruins of ancient cities and beautiful, romantic historical, Mexican towns – for nearly two years our young family has had the privilege of living in and learning about the country of Mexico. We have been touched by the simple sincerity of these people, the beauty of the countryside and the unique history of this culture.

Yet, when our family visits home and sees once again the Star Spangled Banner of the United States of America soaring on our border – I shed tears. These tears are tears of gratitude; gratitude for our freedoms which are not shared by many in our world. I shed tears of joy; joy to be once again in my land – the land of my birth. As the tears fall and my words are choked back I realize that I have come to love America more because I have been blessed to live beyond her borders and to see what our dear country offers us, her citizens.

I love that we have the right to bear arms. I love that we have the freedom of speech. I love that our religions are not mandated. I love that our government works to provide programs to help the downtrodden in our own country and around the world. I love that we can serve our country if we have the desire to serve. I love the collective goodness of our people. I love that our citizens are traveling around the world to help others in need – whether it be through churches, foundations or government. I love meeting Americans in foreign countries and hearing of their efforts to serve and make a difference in our world. I love that I belong in America and I love that America is a part of me – no matter where I am in our world.

As I have encountered the world I have come to respect the values, views and voices of wonderful people – I found that we have common interests and similar hopes. I have found that people view America as friendly and at times frightening; hopeful, helpful and at times hurtful. America’s arm of fellowship is often stretched out to welcome, to assist and to aid others. Yet, I know we can do better. America’s hope for democracy and free people throughout our world is a true and just cause – it is worth fighting for. America is full of hope and our land symbolizes that hope for so many in our world. We must live up to that expectation.

America is a country; America is a symbol; America is a beacon; but above all America is a people.

It is my hope that with all the division that we feel as Americans – whatever the root cause of our division – I hope that we, individually, can see past our disagreements and realize that ultimately we are Americans. We must learn that our disagreements can be civil. An argument can be stated and left in the hands of our fellow citizens for deciding. We must trust and respect one another sufficiently to realize that the “voice of the people” will either speak for us or against us individually; yet, that voice is the voice of America collectively. We must respect not only the voices of those who agree with us – but respect the voices of those who do not agree The ability to declare our stance on issues, listen to the views of others and then vote according to the mandates of our conscience is at the heart of our democracy. We are “the people” and we are the voice of America. .

We are a country; we are a symbol; we are a beacon; we are “the people”. We can stand as a hope to the world.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

A night on the Town... Phantom Theater

While we were in Las Vegas for Christmas we saw "The Phantom of the Opera" in the Phantom Theatre at The Venetian! It was spectacular, of course. It was my husband's first time to see the musical and so I dutifully held back all my remarks until the end of the performance! (That took some work!)

This theatre was designed and the show directed by Hal Prince specifically for this musical. The theatre itself plays a role in the musical and it is just spectacular. I don't want to write any spoilers... but sufficed to say, if you are in the Las Vegas area - it is worth your time to see this classic!

The hotel itself was lovely to walk around in and listen to the gondoliers sing as they floated on the water. The artwork was breathtaking and the ambiance was enjoyable.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Inauguration Day!

On January 20, 2008 I woke up to a morning of business as usual, scriptures, waking children, making breakfast and lunches, warming up uniforms in the dryer, dressing our cold, little children (because there is NO heat in homes in Mexico), getting my swim gear ready and driving the kids to school.

When I got home I checked email and CNN - Inauguration Day! I turned on the television and finally found a CNN channel that was in English. As I began watching the crowds gathering for this historical day I decided I would go and dismiss the children from school so that they could watch history unfold in their own country - even though we are living abroad.

I picked up the children and my sweet husband surprised us by coming home to view the Inauguration. So, there we all sat, in Mexico, a little family from America watching history take place back in our home country! I have to confess, at that moment I wanted to be home, in America, to celebrate freedom and democracy! I have found that living outside of her borders engenders a greater love for all that we have inside our great country!

Although opinions differ, factions can divide and political parties spar it seemed to me that our nation was celebrating together - not solely to welcome in a new president - but to usher in a moment in the history of our country that will change our children's history books! Together, as Americans, we portrayed to the world that we have risen above the mistakes of the past. Now, it is my hope, that together, as Americans - not Democrats or Republicans, Believers or Non-believers, Black, Brown or White - but together, we can form a "more perfect union". I sincerely pray for our new President - he has been blessed with this privelege "by the people" and now it is our turn as 'the people' to make our voices heard and hope that he truly does govern "for the people".

Our anniversary!

Each 'wish list' of mine has as one of the desired items 'a memory' - every year at Christmas or my birthday or our anniversary my cute husband sees this item on my wish list and I think it vexes him a bit... but, this year he bought me a fabulous gift that will capture and preserve all of our memories! I am SO excited to begin playing with it that I can hardly wait!

Yes, you can feel my excitement! The Nikon D90! Seriously, I haven't had it in its carrying case too much! I now have pictures of my children sleeping - just because I wanted to take a picture of something! Now, I just have to find the time to read all of the manuals!

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow...

Our little crew took off out of Mexico City bound to have a great Christmas vacation - our stops were Salt Lake City, UT; Las Vegas, NV and a short visit in Dallas, TX!

Our first stop was a week in Utah - where we stayed with my sister's family and met, for the first time, our new neice/cousin! She is SO cute! While there we had a wonderful time sharing the beauty of Temple Square with our children. They loved the LDS Church Museum (with the children's section entitled, "I Am A Child of God"), the lights and nativity displays on Temple Square and our visit to the Church Administration Offices to give President Monson a welcome plaque reminding him of his time in Mexico during the re-dedication of the Mexico City Temple.

We were able to visit both family and friends - we visited my husband's great aunt and his great uncle! We enjoyed spending time with them as we don't have the chance to see them very often. Our whole family also enjoyed a wonderful Monday night with dear friends from Texas! We had a great time and we are looking forward to hosting one of the families here in Mexico in May!

I was able to visit a roommate from college as well as a mission companion! Our three youngest children got to visit with Santa Claus! (Our eldest didn't want to sit with Santa... the years are flying by!) Our youngest son and daughter's visit with Santa was sweet and adorable. Our second eldest daughter, when asked what she wanted for Christmas stated, "A cell phone, MP3 player and a laptop." At that point Santa looked up at us and just said, "Good Luck"! Thanks Santa!

It was a wonderful start to our Christmas holiday to remember our Savior and to visit our dear family and wonderful friends - those are the true gifts of this life!

Our family

Here are some pictures of our family! We were all able to spend Christmas together at my brother's home in the Las Vegas, Nevada area!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Have You...

When we arrived home in Mexico we found that our internet was down - so, we just now got it up and running again! I will be posting photos from our wonderful Christmas vacation to Utah - Las Vegas, Nevada and Dallas, Texas!

Until then, my mother sent me a fun little activity to start off the new year... here it is and I would add that you could place at the bottom something you would like to accomplish this next year!

Have You...

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band (only if "Rock Band" counts on the XBOX 306 with my family of 'closet rockers')
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland/Disney World
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped - I did do a zip line off of a bridge spanning a river!
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing/rapelling
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David in person
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted/sketched
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood item
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person - too briefly
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Read an entire book in one day.
101. Fallen in Love
102. Lived outside the United States of America
103. Seen a performance on Broadway
104. Swam in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans
105. Competed on a team

This year I will give blood for the first time ever, ever, ever... I think it is a wonderful act of service... I am just scared to death of needles! Yet, after having four children I am sure I can endure a needle to give service and to experience another life event! I also have never read the Bible in its entirety... I will do that this year as well! I'll let you know how it went during the beginning of 2010!

Have fun choosing your new life event you want to experience this year!