Sunday, March 27, 2005

Stake president question

Last Sunday was ward conference. For those of you who don't know yet, we now belong to a different ward because boundaries were re-drawn. J is second counselor in the new bishopric. My new calling is first counselor in the Young Women's presidency.

Anyway, during the combined adults' meeting they had for second and third hours, the Stake president, a man I very much respect and admire, asked us if we had any questions for him. I had not planned to ask a question, but then I suddenly thought, "Here's my chance!" I asked him what it was that he knows now that me most wishes he'd known when he was thirty. Our Stake president is nearing sixty and is a prominent neonatologist in Minnesota. He liked my question. He said there was not nearly enough time for him to list everything but he did tell two specific things. He was doing his residency at that time, and he said he was either sleeping or working. That's all he did. He said he wishes he had really felt the importance of his wife and children as compared to his job. Though he knew the importance of family intellectually, he said he had not internalized it. Someone asked him if that would have made much of a difference in his actions since all interns need to work very long hours and have little time to enjoy their families. He said that the way he spent his time for the most part would not have changed at all, but what would have changed was the way he felt toward his family and his actions in the "little things."

The second thing he said he wished he'd known when he was thirty was the joy and sweetness that can be found in church service. He said that at that time in his life he didn't realize that serving the Lord was a privilege and a joy.

Anyway, I just jotted this down because I wanted to remember it.

trip

It's been a while since I've updated--I was trying to get a bunch of stuff done before we left for Mexico. We are in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico right now visiting J's family. We drove here from Minneapolis. It's the first time we try an adventure like this. :-) The longest road trip we'd taken as a family was to Nauvoo, about 7 hrs from Minneapolis. From our home to J's sister's house in Kingsville, TX, it was a little over 21 hours. It wasn't too bad. We left at about 5 am Monday. We did 16 hrs the first day and made it all the way to Fort Worth. The kids were so good. We did buy a portable DVD/tv thing and brought along the Gamecube, too. However, we only used these as a last resort when things got hairy. We really enjoyed listening to some books and stories on CD. We listened to Because of Winn Dixie and some stories from the Arabian Nights. We brought along some healthy snacks and a few treats. We took a cooler with sandwiches for the first day's lunch, and also milk and cereal for breakfast. I'm really pleased with how things went. Maybe it's good to be pessimistic sometimes. I was expecting the worst, and I was happily disappointed.

On Tuesday we arrived at Tia E's house at about 2 pm. That night we watched "The Incredibles" with the family. Again, I was not expecting much and I was, therefore, surprised at how good the movie was. (Lots of media hype makes me very leery of films--I tend to enjoy the quieter, less lauded.) On Wednesday we went to Padre Island. It was lovely weather, and we stayed about four hours on the beach. My children are so funny--they're very tactile. They did bury each other in sand, make sand castles, and wade. However, they seemed to most enjoy themselves looking for little bugs in the grass and rolling around in the warm sand, which is the finest and whitest they've seen. We went to the beach with J's parents, J's sister, and her three sons.

On Thursday we left Tia E's house and went down to the Brownsville Zoo with J's parents. The weather was a little warmer there than last time we went, but it was probably only a little over 80. My children complained about the heat, but did of course enjoy seeing the animals. It's a big zoo. Again, my children showed their weirdness by being much more interested in the little tree caterpillars that were all over the place (can't they spray the trees or something?) than the actual animals on exhibit. Sigh.

Thursday evening we arrived in Reynosa to stay at the home of J's parents. It's a fairly large, comfortable home with a big yard by Mexican standards. Many houses here have only a small patio. Naturally, we had to have J's favorite tacos our first night here. Tacos are a very big deal in Northeastern Mexico. I'm not big on the tacos because they use corn tortillas which I find very bland. I always get a papa asada, or grilled potato, loaded with butter and sour cream. I really prefer the cuisine of central and southern Mexico. There are more complex flavors. One of my favorite dishes is cochinito pivil, a shredded pork dish. I also love the tamales of southern Mexico, which are made in banana leaves. A friend is going to show me how to make them. Every Christmas I make tamales, but the northern kind made in corn husk.

Friday and Saturday were uneventful here. J, Georgie, Ivan (J's brother), and J's father played lots of Risk and Settlers of Catan, board games. Good Friday we had fried fish. Saturday was sweltering so we go out the inflated pool and the kids had fun with that. Saturday we also had a little outdoor fiesta with grilled steak. On Friday I read The Kitchen Boy: The Story of the Last Tsar. It's one of those books making the book club round. It was o.k. If you like DaVinci Code, you'd probably like this book. It's suspenseful. On Saturday I read an infinitely better book: Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. Oh, what joy! I'm so glad I didn't read every good classic when I was a child. I'm not sure Gerogie or Lidia would get a lot out of this book now--it's probably best, even as a read aloud, for older children or adults. It is a truly wonderful book. I need to buy a copy so I can mark my favorite passages. I was a little annoyed to have a library copy and not be free to do that. I need to go through the book a little more slowly anyway. Since I read it all in one day I didn't have time to ponder the best parts.

Today, Easter Sunday (Happy belated Easter, everyone!) we went to church in the morning. J's parents are also members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. There were only about 35 people, including the 6 members of my family, at the service. For some reason they have very small units here. After church we went to the ranch of some neighbors of J's grandmother. It was windy, but fun. There were baby chicks there, rabbits, and a mangey puppy my kids would not leave alone. We had to keep telling them to not touch it. Luckily, J had his favorite substance on hand--that anti-bacterial hand cleaner. We ate grilled chicken, watermelon, and pineapple. We hid Mexican Easter eggs (filled with confetti) for the kids to find. Once they've found all the eggs, they break them of people's heads and out comes the confetti! Needless to say, this was a big hit. On the way back, we stopped at another ranch to see some goats, a horse, many dogs, and even some ostriches! The kids were really impressed. I noticed that the dogs on the farm, about ten, were not your typical border collies, but were many different breeds, some quite expensive. There was a white horse with a bad eye. The young ranch hand told us the horse was actually a retired performer--he danced with a group of dancing horses but had to be retired when he hurt his eye. When we were walking back to the truck, J's uncle mentioned that that this ranch belonged to a narcotraficante. So. We had an authentic boarder experience. I suppose it would have been more interesting to actually meet said narco, but I think I prefer "safe" to "interesting."

Tomorrow J and I are going down to Monterrey and leaving the kids here with their grandparents. I can't wait. It will be REALLY nice to get away for a few days. We'll come back Wednesday. Friday we start our return trip back to Minneapolis.

I hope no one gave up reading my blog while it was stagnant for a few weeks. I'll try to be better at keeping it up.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

"getting the sick out"

I just went to say good night to Marcus. He asked if I could lie down with him for a minute and I said I felt sick and needed to get ready for bed. He said, "That's o.k., Mommy. I'm going to put my hand over your mouth." I replied, "What do you mean?" He put his hand over my mouth and then made a gesture as if he were grabbing something from my mouth and then throwing it away. He said, "I'm getting the sick out." I laughed and then he started grabbing at my arms. "Now it's coming out of your bones," he said. Georgie and I both kept laughing but Marcus never cracked a smile. He grabbed "sickness" from my arms, shoulders, and hair, and then pronounced that I was all better. That kid!

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

what's going on

I have wanted many times this past week to sit down and write in my blog, but things have been so hectic that I haven't had the chance. Last night I looked through the curtains to our back yard and saw that our porch light was on and the ceiling fan, too. I wondered how long they'd been on. This afternoon I crashed for about an hour and a half while Georgie played with the kids. When I woke up Bertie had cut her hair (just a tiny bit, thank heavens) and licked all the frosting off the remaining cupcakes. Those two events sum up the type of stuff going on around here lately.

Last night the school board approved our city's new Spanish immersion to start next year with kindergarten! I was so happy, as were many other supporters at the meeting. We let out a big cheer. It was a close vote. There was a lot of opposition to it because they just finished making 3 and a half million dollars worth of budget cuts this year. Anyway, we are now anxiously awaiting our "yes" letter saying that Marcus's name was chosen in the lottery. There were more applicants (89) than spots available (75) so they've done a lottery. I sure feel bad for the fourteen who will get a"no" letter! I will feel especially bad if we turn out to be one of them.

We visited Park Spanish Immersion last week and loved it. The principal even said we could set up an appointment for Georgie to take the proficiency exam, which makes us think she may see an opening coming up. This is a school with long waiting lists, but as the children get older they are unable to find students to take the places of children who have moved because few can pass the proficiency exam. So, the door is open a crack. G and I have been working intensively in Spanish. Personally, I think she could handle it. What I don't know is how much of a stickler the principal is going to be about the proficiency exam. She was telling us that the students need to be able to write essays in Spanish at this age, and G would struggle with that. I think G would quickly be able to speak only Spanish in the classroom and would understand what she hears and reads. Anyway, we go again to the school on Friday morning to observe the first grade class and meet with the principal. At the time she will explain what the exam is and set up a time for G to take it.

We have decided to not continue with homeschooling next year, even if G is not able to go to Park Spanish. I don't believe that my other children will be interested in homeschooling, as I explained in another post. I had thought I would just continue with G, but I'm finding that I can't mesh the homeschooling paradigm with the "regular" school paradigm. I feel stretched too thin. I really feel (after much thought and prayer) that we must simplify our family life by either homeschooling everyone or sending everyone to school.