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!