Thursday, April 30, 2009

Arrived In La Manzanilla - Wow!

Our arrival in La Manzanilla has been full of surprises.

First, I somehow thought La Mazanilla was closer to Mazanillo. La Manzanilla did not actually show on either of the maps we were using. So when we saw the huge sign for La Manzanilla - happiness! It took us just under 4 hours to drive here.

Then, our rented Casa is fabulous! We are right on the beach which is truly beautiful. The surf is loud and soothing. We have internet wireless service so I can work and will connect to my USA conference calls through Skype.

The next surprise is all restaurants in town are closed due to swine flu. Take out only. No problemo. Our Casa is well equipped to bring food in or prepare meals here.

Final surprise is one of my work laptops died. I cannot get it to boot up. Fortunately, I have a 2nd laptop in which I can work. I am back in USA Monday and have already talked with computer support to get help then.

Adios for now ...

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Going to La Manzanilla!

What to do with the kids with no school?

Take a Road Trip to La Manzanilla!

Going to meet up with Steve from for dinner Thursday evening.

Going to hook up with fellow blogger Mom at as well.

Should be fun …

We will still take flu precautions just as we would here.


6:20 Nayarit Time

All is quiet - I have been up for about an hour working.

But all is not really quiet as I walk through the villa.

Windows are open and birds are singing and I can hear them float through the air in every room.

Sprinklers have been set and turned on as their rhythmic sound perpetrates my balcony window.

The surf is mild as it gently beats the rocks.

Random fireworks sound here and there as our town is celebrating its patron saint.

Oh - Oldest Son sneaks out of bed to give me a morning hug and snuggle up to Husband.

Eeek - on goes the morning kid morning shows in Spanish on Jetx ...

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Youngest Son is 7 Years Old

Event #1 - School Celebration
Youngest Son’s Birthday fell during Spring Break so we took cake, candy and juice to his K3 class on the last day before Spring Break. Husband’s Aunt and Aunt’s Friend were visiting during this time so they were able to participate in this class celebration. The preschoolers were SO enthusiastic and friendly and cute and loud.

Event #2 - Pirate Adventure
Youngest Son has a Sweet Buddy who he was in class with for 4 years before we Moved to Mexico. Best Buddy’s birthday is the day after Youngest Son’s birthday. A couple months ago Youngest Son requested Sweet Buddy and his family come visit for their shared birthday and They Did! Youngest Son excitedly planned to take the Pirate Cruise for their big birthday event. It was eventful alright. Youngest Son was chosen to play the Pirate’s Son in the skit – he was thrilled! During our beach respite, the kids participated in a treasure hunt, played in surf and road the banana boat to many times to count. BUT, Sweet Buddy’s Mom was very, very, very seasick – I felt so bad for her.

Event #3 - Party Shared with Special Families
We invited Other American Family with their 3 boys over for piƱata, cake, swimming and soccer to celebrate with both Youngest Son and Sweet Buddy. We then went to local fish resturant and our 3 families shared a wonderful dinner. Although Sweet Buddy did take a mouth full of pepper dip thinking it was guacamole - poor thing - he was in tears - he did recover but OUCH.

Once again we are blessed with the diversity of our deliberate life. Sweet Buddy and his family live in USA but are originally from Turkey and are Muslim. The highlight of all the celebratory events was the singing of Happy Birthday in 4 LANGUAGES: Spanish, Turkish, Hebrew and English. Wow.

Monday, April 27, 2009

School Closed till May 6th for Swine Flu

We got the calls this morning. No school until May 6th!

According to the information relayed this morning, swine flu reported in Jalisco and Nayarit now.

Oldest Son still sick. We will be taking him to the doctor this afternoon.

Update #1:
Websites recommend NOT going to hospitals, clinics and doctors unless absolutely necessary. We have decided not to go. Do ya sense the yo-yo action here? Since kids out of school we can just wait it out with Oldest Son unless he takes a turn south.

Update #2:
It appears we made the right call NOT to visit doctor. Oldest Son had a good day with not much fever and feeling okay. He is fast asleep in his own bed. However, Husband did try to secure olsetamivir (as recommended by our USA Dr friend) in case we turn up with symptoms or have a known exposure. No luck. Little to be found in Nayarit and if there is any it is at the hospitals.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Oldest Son Running a Fever

Oldest Son has a fever. I looked up Swine Flu symptoms. He gets fevers often so probably nothing to worry about but he is sleeping with me tonight so I can keep him close.

Sunday Update:
Still running fever. We are watching for congestion as trigger to head to the doctor.

Back in Mexico

I have been in USA for past 11 days. Back in Mexico. Happy. Happy. Happy.

I have reached Platinum status on American Airlines since moving to Mexico. I underestimated how much time I would need to spend in USA for work related needs.

Platinum status, while great, was not one of my measures for success in our year abroad. There have been many surprises this year.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Passover in Mexico

Tradition! (Can you hear the sound of Fiddler on the Roof?)

In a Mexican frame of mind, we prepared for Passover. We combined family traditions and items from home with substitutions and transitions in Mexico.

Passover is the 8 day Jewish holiday of freedom. The Passover Seder recounts the Book of Exodus at a very fun and festive meal celebrated with stories, songs and prayers.

The Seder
is celebrated especially for the children. It is important for Jewish children to be and feel involved in the celebration of Passover. Much of the ceremony is based on the commandment in the Bible that says, "And thou shalt tell thy son."

Here are the highlights of our Seder

Horoset: The night before, Oldest Son, Youngest Son and Husband make horoset with apples, red wine, almonds (substituted for pecans), matzah (brought from USA) and black raisins (substituted for golden raisins and dates.), sugar, cinnamon and lime (for lemon.) They have been doing this since the boys were born.

Place Cards: Youngest Son uses his artistic talents to make place cards with dot paints, ink stamps, stickers and love.

Flip Charts: In our 1st Passover Seder years ago, Husband made flip charts (reading right to left of course) to help our non-Jewish guests follow along. Husband’s Aunt and Aunt’s Friend, both Christian, were the perfect audience.

.... 10 Plagues: How many ways can you show the 10 plagues? Oh so many …

Seder Plate: Our Fish Platter suffices as we patch together all the Seder necessities.

Haggadah: For the first time, Oldest Son reads and leads the Passover Seder using his children’s Haggadah and marked with post-it notes just like Husband's. The Haggadah stresses the importance of the Seder as "a spectacle meant to excite the interest and the curiosity of the children." Everything in the Seder is meant to make the children curious and to ask questions.

Exodus: In addition to the telling of the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt via the Seder, Oldest Son and Youngest son perform the entire story in costume. Oldest Son’s turn to be Moses this year and Youngest Son is oppressive as Pharoah. I, of course, am the narrator.

Elijah: We always set a place for Elijah in hopes he will join our Seder. Mysteriously Elijah seems to speak to us from behind the bamboo … wait where are the kids? Oh my, Elijah drank his glass of wine? Really?

Hillel Sandwich: One of my favorite Passover foods is the Hillel Sandwich made with matzah, horoset and shredded horseradish. Shredded horseradish can not be found in Mexico so the horseradish mayo substituted beautifully. The Hillel Sandwich represents "bricks-and-mortar" -- broken matzah held together by bitter herbs and haroset. The matzah was once whole. So too, the Jewish people can become crushed and divisive. But we are held together by our common links to Torah and our shared historical experiences. Hillel (born in Babylon) was a famous Jewish religious leader and one of the most important figures in Jewish history. He is popularly known as the author of: "If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?")

4 Questions: At the Seder it is the youngest child at the table that answers the 4 questions asked at Passover. Youngest Son answers these questions with his finger puppets to help!

1st: On all other nights we eat all kinds of breads and crackers... Why do we eat only matzah on Pesach? Matzah reminds us that when the Jews left the slavery of Egypt they had no time to bake their bread. They took the raw dough on their journey and baked it in the hot desert sun into hard crackers called matzah.

2nd: On all other nights we eat many kinds of vegetables and herbs.... Why do we eat bitter herbs, maror, at our Seder? Maror reminds us of the bitter and cruel way the Pharaoh treated the Jewish people when they were slaves in Egypt.

3rd: On all other nights we don't usually dip one food into another.... Why do we dip our foods twice tonight? We dip bitter herbs into haroset to remind us how hard the Jewish slaves worked in Egypt. The chopped apples and nuts look like the clay used to make the bricks used in building the Pharaoh's buildings. We dip parsley into salt water. The parsley reminds us that spring is here and new life will grow. The salt water reminds us of the tears of the Jewish slaves.

4th: On all other nights we eat sitting up straight.... Why do we lean on a pillow tonight? We lean on a pillow to be comfortable and to remind us that once we were slaves, but now we are free.

The 4 Sons: Each "son" asks a question regarding the meaning of the Passover Seder. Oldest Son was the Wise Son (of course) and can you guess which was Youngest Son? We hand out "son" hats and each Seder guest reads the following:

The Wise Son asks, with genuine intellectual curiosity: "What is the meaning of the statutes and laws that G-d has commanded?" The wise son seeks to understand the essence of the laws. In modern times, the wise son is the truly unique student, who eschews his own ego and is only concerned with grasping the truth. Yet even with a rare mind like his, the wise son must be positively challenged rather than pampered.

The Wicked Son is intentionally vague when he haughtily asks: "What is this service to you?" To you being the operative phrase, since the wicked son is choosing to separate himself from the Jewish community. In today's day and age, the wicked son is a metaphor for children who are more concerned with fitting in than honoring their family's values. With the right educational approach, a "wicked" son could easily be turned into a "wise" one.

The Simple Son asks plainly: "What is this?" While the simple son is definitely not an intellectual, he has a kind and generous heart. He is asking questions because he wants to do the right thing. But his understanding of Judaism - and life in general - comes from experience, not from books. In today's day and age, the simple son is the energetic, highly active student, who needs a more kinetic-based approach to learning. To grow as a thinker, the simple son must have all of his senses engaged in the learning process.

Finally, the fourth son is the one who does not know how to ask. He is not a simpleton - he is apathetic. He's so laid back he doesn't even care. In modern times, the fourth son represents the student who cares far more about his Game Boy than his studies. Not only does the fourth son not care, he doesn't even listen. The challenge is to turn his heart - to turn him on and tune him in to learning.

The Four Sons live in all of us: Sometimes we are genuinely searching, other times we are rebelling; sometimes we connect through our heart first, then our head, and other times we are just too tired, stressed or burned out to care anymore. The lesson of the Four Sons is to appropriately nurture that spark for learning that lives within all of us.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Octopus Hunting & Night Out

Yesterday was a perfectly wonderful day.

Octopus Hunting
Husband’s Aunt, Aunt’s Friend, Oldest Son, Youngest Son and I spent the entire afternoon at the pool and beach in front of our villa. Reading, relaxing and playing.

When the tide goes out there are lots of rocks and tide pools. Not great for swimming but full of all kinds of sea creatures. We spotted a Mexican Man with 4 Mexican Boys picking through the rocks. Youngest Son traversed the rocks to find out what they were doing. They were hunting for octopus. Youngest Son and Oldest Son hung out with the Mexican Man and 4 Mexican Boys for over an hour and 7 octopuses were collected – dinner for the Mexican Man and 4 Mexican Boys. This is exactly the kind of unplanned experience that I appreciate so much about living in Mexico.

Night Out
Husband, Husband’s Aunt, Aunt’s Friend and I went to our favorite sea side restaurant for pasta, fish and lots of wine. We watched the sun set, talked about interesting topics and did I mentioned we had lots of wine?

Good Times.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Overheard: Girls Again

Oldest Son: "I wonder when the girls are going to wake up?"

Husband's Aunt and Aunt's Friend arrived yesterday. I am guessing they are in their 60s ... just girls in the eyes of a 9 year old.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Wash Your Own Dishes!

Kids' School: Area where all students wash their own dishes after lunch.
Wonder how our Fancy Private School in USA would view this approach?
I think it is efficient and simple while teaching responsibility and useful household skills!