Wednesday, December 31, 2008

new post tomorrow

need sleep.....

asta manana

fell off the blogging wagon - Wednesday

Yah, a few pictures!  Here is Wednesday.....

My maestro took us on a little walk around town.  We went and visited Juarez Park (no pics, I don't want to press my luck!) and these public lavados (where people wash their clothes).  Most people don't use them anymore, because the water is pretty funky.  But there are a few poor who do, like in this picture.  There is a spring that feed the "baths" (cement sinks).  
After I took this picture the lady on the right charged me =).  TIM!

We learned of an interesting Mexican tradition.  It is customary to give the gift of underwear on New Years Eve, to family, co-workers, etc.
Here at the school the teachers and employees drew names (like a secret santa), and all exchanged their "gifts" after class.
It was pretty funny to watch.  I guess different colors have different meanings.  
The girls underwear kept getting smaller and smaller.....

Here I am with some camels.  I'll explain more later.  I'm in bed trying to get a few hours sleep before I have to get up at 3:00am to catch my ride to the airport.  UGH!

Okay, actually I am here with a camel, an elephant, and a horse.  They were guys on stilts representing the 3 Kings.  Apparently Mexicans celebrate another holiday in early January called 3 Kings Day (or something like that).  While they do celebrate Christmas & Christmas Eve, and they do exchange a few gifts, it is this 3 Kings day where they really go crazy with gift giving.  Kind of makes sense, no?

And here we are enjoying New Years Eve at El Jardin (where everything that's anything happens).  There was a band playing for like 45 minutes, with fireworks going off in between songs.  
Genevieve loves these huuuge spaklers.  They were like 3 or 4 feet long metal ones.  It was a fun night although we didn't stay up to midnight to ring in the new year.  It was freezing, we were not dressed-accordingly, and too late for a 6 year old who had school the next day.  

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Tuesday ~ more fun in Mexico

Another great day here in San Miguel de Allende.  Getting up this morning was a bear.  Can't seem to get on the right time zone.  Genevieve is still awake again, and it's almost 10pm (but her body thinks it's 8pm).  You would think getting up at 7:30am (5:30am to our bodies) and all the walking we are doing would just make her pooped at night.  I get her in bed earlier and she just can't seem to sleep.  Unfortunately I am having the same problemo, but mine is no surprise since I have sleep "issues" in my normal life.

I'm not picking up the spanish as quickly as I had hoped.  Too many people know enough english around here that I can get by without making too much of an effort en espanol.  Kind of defeats the purpose, huh?  But when you are stumbling through your spanish and they clarify what you are saying in english, it's not very motivating.  It's not the case everywhere and with everyone, but the people here seem to be well-educated and have varying knowledge of the english language.

The coolest part about San Miguel is El Jardin, which I've mentioned before.  It's the town square where everything happens.  I love it.  On one side of the square is La Peroquia - huge gorgeous catholic church.  Today we got to see the festivities of a quincinerra taking place.  It was literally like a mini - wedding.  Heck, there was nothing mini about it.  There was a full on "bridal" party with girls in matching dresses, boys in tux's, and even a "groom",which I guess was her date.  There was no expense spared, let me tell you.  

I really love Main St in Pleasanton.  But it holds nothing to a town square.  I think every town should have one.  With little cafes and outdoor seating, a bank, a church, some restaurants, a little park in the middle. It's charming.

No real TIM moments today if you can believe that.  We've decided to walk most everywhere instead of the bus.  I didn't realize that the bus was only saving us a few blocks each way.  

More to write later.  I can only get one photo to upload.  It's of La Peroquia (not sure on spelling).  It's gorgeous at night when it's all lit up, as is the rest of El Jardin.

Adios for now!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Lunes- a good day

Can't get my photos uploaded tonight for some unknown reason, so this will be a picture-less post for now.

Our B&B hostess keeps asking what we want for breakfast each evening, but when I make suggestions she says "no".  So then I ask her what she makes and she answers eggs.  And huevos rancheros (um...eggs?).  So eggs it is.  One of the reasons I picked this place was because I read reviews what a phenominal cook she was, so I'm puzzled.  But TIM!

Today we got up at 7:30 (ouch) and got ready for school.  The school is great.  The people who run it are nice, the teachers are nice, they seem to really have it together.  They are definitely my information source for all my questions.  They take the kids on little field trips to the park, market, and so on.  They include field trips in the afternoon for the adults as well - market, walking tour, cooking lessons, dance lessons (um no) all included in the tuition cost.  
Genevieve is in school from 8:30 to 1:15.  I am in class from 9:00 to 11:00.  So that gives me a couple hours to do all the walking and window-shopping I want without boring Genevieve to death.  

I'm ashamed to say I had Subway for lunch today, but let me explain why.  I a=only had about 45 minutes to catch a bite before I had to go back to get Genevieve.  So I wanted something quick, cheap, and predictable.  I went back to the over-priced La Terazza because it was convenient, and I had seen someone order nachos the day before that looked yummy.  So I ordered the nachos and a drink.  It was 12:30.  However, I am told that they don't have nachos right now, but I can have chips & salsa, chips and guacamole....... so I ask "you have no cheese?", and the waiter answers oh no, they have cheese, but nachos are on the comida (lunch) menu and they are still serving from the desayuno (breakfast) menu, but you can have a quesadilla con queso (which is on the comida menu).  So they have chips.  And they have cheese.  But they can't make me nachos at 12:30pm because they are still serving breakfast.  But I am allowed to order a quesadilla from the lunch menu.  
So I went and got Subway =).

Genevieve made some friends in her class from Seattle.  The family is staying here for 3 months, taking in the culture and learning the language.  We had a play-date with them this afternoon.  Super nice people.

We came back home for a siesta.  Funny how I really need one here.  I don't sleep, but I do need the rest.  I guess I am doing quite a bit of walking around town.  

Lastly we went to an italiano restaurante for cena.  The food was pretty good, although Genevieve didn't agree (see a pattern here?).  But again she didn't complain, she was just "full" after a few bites.  

We finished the evening with a little shopping and homework.  We got a late start in the evening and it was 10:00 by the time G got to bed - oops.  Need to figure out our schedule a little better.  


I'm here, just not HERE.

I'm posting, just over at my other blog.   Mi blog de familia.  Why am I talking en espanol? Because we're in Mexico!  My daughter and I are taking some spanish courses in San Miguel de Allende.  So I will be at the other blog for a little while.  I really need to combine them, don't I?

Asta luego!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sunday - a new day

We slept in until 11:00am.  Well, I did.  Genevieve got up with the alarm at 9:00, got herself dressed, then realized I wasn't going anywhere and she got back in bed with me.

With a full night's sleep, some daylight, San Miguel was looking much better to me.  

This is the inside or courtyard of where we are staying.  The big wall and metal door on the street is deceptive of what's inside.
I got dressed and we were getting ready to leave for the day.  Then the B&B owner used her key and came into our room without knocking.  Nice.  She apparently needed to get some towels from the closet in our room and thought we were gone.  A simple knock at the door would have told her otherwise.  But This Is Mexico - here on out referred to as "TIM".  

We jump on a bus because Genevieve wanted to ride one ever so badly.  I ask someone at the stop where the bus went, and thought I knew where I was going.  But the bus driver told me to get off somewhere else.  Apparently he didn't go where I thought (or was told) he went.  Our main goal for the day was to find Centro Bilingue -the language school we will attending tomorrow.  Just wanted to find it so we could get there on time at 8:30 monday morning.  
But once again we are starving.  We find a place at the Jardin (the town square) called La Terazza.  I have Genevieve excited about pancakes, but by the time the waiter actually comes to TAKE our order, they are done serving desayuno, and have moved on to the comida menu.   Apparently they stop serving breakfast at 1:00pm.  Who knew.  So we order 1 hamburgessa con queso, 1 order of papas fritas and 1 refresca naranja, (which G was pretty happy with), and the bill is $125 pesos!  That's $10 USD.  CrAzY.  It's freaking Mexico for crying out loud. 

Comida was done, it took like an hour and a half.  Service is slooooooooow here.  Especially for a woman and child.

We went and found the school.  It was closed since it's Sunday but at least we know where it's at.

Now for the fun part.  At the town square (La Jardin. Or El Jardin....I don't know), there was a clown putting on a performance for kids and families.  We sat down to watch.  We didn't understand a thing he was saying but he was apparently quite funny as everyone was laughing.  He had a good audience of about 150 people I would guess.  He then starts asking for volunteers.  4 boys, then 4 girls.  Genevieve (surprised me) and raised her hand and was picked.  As she goes with the clown I call out "no habla espanol!", so he would know.  
The clown lines up 4 pairs by height.  Each pair has a boy and a girl.  He then leads them in a version of "Simon Says". Genevieve doesn't understand his words, but follows her partner and teh ones around her.  He has them put their hand on their partners head.  Then on their partners shoulder.  The he has them go forehead to forehead.  Cheek to cheek.  Everyone is cracking up by now.  Nose to nose.  Chin to chin.  Then he speeds it up and has them do it all over again really fast, and the last thing he says is lips to lips.  Poor Geneveive doesn't even know what he said and gets lips planted on her.  The 2 older pairs balked at the last request, and were dismissed from the game.  The 2 younger pairs were declared the winners and given a prize.  

Genevieve later told me that she had fun, except at the end.  She said it was like they were getting married, but didn't get to pick who she married.  =)

(she's talking in her sleep as I type this).  

After that we did a lot of walking around.  We discovered Starbucks - which is sooo weird.

And finally hopped on another bus (which didn't really take me where I wanted to go), to come "home". The plan was to take a little rest and grab a late dinner, which is customary here.  But I was too tired to go back out, so we had a seriously healthy dinner of granola bars, cheese-its, and popcorn.  

I finished off the evening with ichatting Luke, and blogging =).

It's now midnight (10:00 CA time), and I need to hit the hay because the alarm will ring at 7:00 for the first day of school.  


here we go

Okay, yesterday was a rough one.  Let me start at the beginning.  We had a 12:50am flight from San Francisco.  Yes, you read that right - 12:50 in the middle of the night.  So we get on the plane and someone is sitting in our window seat.  Genevieve says "I want to sit by the window", and Seat Stealer who obviously thinks he is sitting in the right seat, says she can sit there for take-off, but then he needs it back because "he needs to get some sleep".  I'm irritated, but don't say anything because he thinks he is being nice.  THEN, a lady comes down the isle and says we are in HER seat.  So I take out our boarding passes and show her that we are in the right row, and Seat Stealer takes his out and realized he in the wrong ROW.  So we get our window seat, although still didn't get much sleep.

3 hours of flight and we get to the Dallas airport where we are supposed to have a 3 hour lay-over.  It's torturous.  I'm exhausted and there's nowhere to rest.  All seats have arms on them so there is no laying down (think they did that on purpose?).  Comfort is not much better than on the plane.  And Genevieve was on an adrenaline high.  Oh, but it gets better.  The 3 hour layover turns into 5.5 hours, as there was a storm in Dallas, and teh plane we were supposed to take was delayed.  Longest 5 hours of my life.  Especially because they kept saying another 15 min.  or 30 min.  or 45 minutes.  Then we got hungry and didn't have enough time to go get food.  LAME.  

We hop on the next plane - which was a teeny tiny 40 seater.  I didn't know this.  I didn't like this. No sleeping on this 2.5 hour leg either. Ugh.  

Finally get to the airport where we see the transportation service holding our name.  Awesome.  But wait.  We can't leave now because we have to wait for another person coming on another plane in another 40 minutes.  So we go to find some crappy over-priced airport food, and use the ATM.  I accidentally took out 200 pesos (instead of dollars - hey I was tired!), and paid a 75 peso transaction fee to do so.  Then I found out that the airport ATM has bad exchange rates anyways and I should wait.  

We go back to meet our transporter, and find out that the extra passenger we waited for, wasn't there.  Great.  We could now start on our 1.5 hour drive to San Miguel.  I ask the driver if he can take me to an ATM (he doesn't undertsand) so I say "bank".  He tells me that they close at 4:00, and it is already 3:45 because we had to wait for imaginary passenger.  

The drive to San Miguel was uneventful.  Genevieve chose to play her Leapster instead of look out the wimdow.  But in all truth there wasn't much to see.  

We FINALLY get to the B&B on the edge of town a little after 5:00.  Driver unloads our bags and knocks on the door for us.  No answer.  He calls the number for the B&B.  No answer.  Me, almost in tears asks "but what do I do?".  To which driver shrugs and says "I don't know. Wait?" And I realize he is also saying "hey look lady, I got you from point A to point B,  you're not my problem ".  So we sit on the cobblestone sidewalk of a street lined with walls, doors, and garages.  I use every ounce of strength I have to not completely lose it.  The one tear that escaped was quickly brushed away as I tried to hold it together for Genevieve.  

I call Luke.  He's worried, but also helpless.  So we wait.  About 30 very long minutes pass, and just as panic was beginning to set in, a car pulls up and a man gets out.  I ask if he is staying here.  He says it's his mom's place and he let's me in.  Apparently the B&B owner went to the store.  In all fairness I should have called to say our plane was delayed.  But I never would have guessed that nobody would be there.  So we were in.  But not in our room, because the son didn't know which would be ours.

We were exhausted.  And getting hungry.  After we got settled, it was close to 7pm.  We are assured the town is VERY safe, then told of a restaurant in walking distance.  So we go.  And it's dark.  And creepy.  And I'm doing the exact thing I said I wouldn't do.  Out at night alone in the dark.  Tired, hungry, and waiting for the banditos to jump out of the bushes.  However all was uneventful.  Found the restaurant.  Food was pretty good.  Genevieve didn't agree, but didn't whine and complain at least.  Poor kid is going to starve here.

Get back "home" and settle in for the evening.  And just about cry myself to sleep, thinking what have I gotten us into?

Saturday, December 27, 2008

blogging again!

I'm going to be on here a bunch in the next few days. You just wait and see.  
I'm in Mexico.  Just me and Genevieve.  
Details tomorrow.
I'm lonely.  And overwhelmed.  
It's weird not having another adult to rely on.
Trying to get some sleep.
Signing off for now.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Still here

I have been MIA a bit lately.  Just wanted you all to know that I am still alive and kicking.  I have been preoccupied with being a parent with some hard decisions to make.   I have to keep reminding myself that while this current issue/opportunity/situation is a big deal, there are so many people in the world that have much bigger decisions to make - like if they should buy food or medicine this day.  Or whether they should continue to raise their child with meager means, or turn them over to an orphanage.  I need to keep it in perspective.  That's my mantra lately - perspective.  Sometimes that's hard to do.  Especially late at night when I can't turn my brain off.

So that's where I've been.  I'll be back soon.  

Friday, December 5, 2008

$10 Friday AGAIN. And next week too!

It's that time again.
Where we all come together to make a difference.
Where there is power in numbers.
Where our own $10 won't change the world, but our $10's collectively will.
So go be part of a bigger something.
Something bigger than yourself.  

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Christmas~ Like never before

Thanksgiving is over, and now the Christmas shopping has "officially" began.  

But this year is different.  

This year we will not celebrate with overindulgence and  abundance.  

At least not in the traditional paper & bow wrapped  excessive gift-giving sort of way.

But we will give.

A little something for each of our family members, and a lot of something for those in the world who don't even have the basic necessities of life, let alone a list of extravagant Christmas wants.  

I am being very deliberate with my shopping.  No last minute gift cards, no random purchases just to have something to wrap and give.

My goal is to only purchase gifts that will help others.   One way to do this is to make a donation in the name of someone on my gift list.  The list is endless of great organizations & charities we can give to, but on the top of my list are 

Water For Christmas - drilling and providing a life source in villages who don't have access to clean water.

Rohi Childrens Organization (an orphanage & school we support and have visited in Kenya).  They have a gift catalog where you can purchase specific gifts based on your desires and budget - like goats, desks, bicycles, etc.  You can contact them about getting a gift catalog.

If it were just up to me I would probably stop there.  I can be quite extreme sometimes, but my darling  husband helps to keep me a little more balanced.  I think he was picturing our kids on Christmas morning reading a little note about how we built a chicken coop in Rwanda as their Christmas gift.  And as much as they really do seem to be getting it this year, they are still kids.  And gifts are good.  Just not in the excessive, over-indulgent, above-all-else sort of way. 

I'm convinced we can have it both ways.

So we will also be buying some material gifts to give.  I'm still trying make my dollars work extra hard.  There are a lot of places out there that give all proceeds to great causes.   And when that's not an option, I will at least be purchasing fair trade items, knowing that my purchase provided a decent living  wage to someone.

I will not be going to big box stores.  Not once.  That's my goal, anyways!

At the risk of my family members potentially seeing some of their gifts ahead of time, I'm going to list some of the great places I've found for some unique gifts.  

Check out these yummy soaps from Zambia at Samba Naturals

These tiny dolls made by HIV+ women in africa at Little Travellers 
Or how about Tom's Shoes who gives a pair of brand new shoes to someone in need with every pair purchased.

The best part about this kind of shopping?

It's done from the comfort of my home.

On my couch.

In my pajamas.

Doesn't get much better than that!

Monday, December 1, 2008


Sheri K for $100!!!

I am so excited for you!
I would love to see this hanging - do you know where you are going to put it?

Contact me so that we can figure out how to get this awesome work of art to you.

Thank you Randy Lipsey for loving the Berry's in this tangible way.  I know they are feeling blessed by so many of you that are helping to bring their kids home forever.