Friday, March 27, 2009

A lot has happened in a year

It occurred to me the other day that it was over a year ago when hubby and I flew up here to look at houses and look through the school - and I suppose when I started this blog. The picture at the top of this blog was taken in early March...

We hadn't moved up here yet, one year ago, but we were gearing up to it, and all the panic and depression that ensues during that kind of upheaval. I have some friends who are going through the exact same thing as we did a year ago, and I feel for them. That was the hardest part. I have been trying to help them as much as I can, but there is only so much I can do... time does the most and I must say that after almost one year up here, as much as I complain about the weather... life is so very much easier now and I am thankful for being where we are.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Blahh!!!

Ok... I know the other day it felt like we made it through winter... but now we are snowed under AGAIN! Make it stop already! No seriously, everyone in town is not enjoying this lengthy winter and so many people keep saying that they are sure this must be the end of it, and yet it keeps coming... so we are going down to the coast for spring break and get away from it for a bit. We are all very excited to see everyone again and are trying to work it so that we can see everyone. Hopefully by the time we come back winter will ACTUALLY be receding... one can hope!

Friday, March 20, 2009

We made it.

Today is the first day of spring, the spring equinox... we made it through our first winter. It is still winter here according to the weather, but I know that it won't last long, so it doesn't feel as depressing as it did a month ago. In fact we are getting snow as I type this, but yesterday was a magnificently sunny day that melted snow piles into huge puddles and reminded me of the mud season we are about to begin (where are my rubber boots?!)

The days are already much longer, the sun rises and sets at around 8 each day, which is really nice. The days are long enough that we can go play outside after Maria gets home from school, in fact the kids are anxious to get their bikes out, although I think it best if we wait until the sidewalks are clear of ice.

So it feels like we are in the home stretch and we are almost there. It is spring.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Time for Some Escapism...

Winter is hanging in there, long after it has lost its welcome. I really think that I was very patient with it, I certainly don't expect it to be gone, just milder... is that really too much to ask? Apparently it is, so maybe today I will think of Mexico...

The colourful bus that took us to the park

One of the highlights of our trip (well actually there were many, but this is one...) was going to Xcaret (the "X" is pronounced "Ish"). We didn't really know what to expect on this excursion, but we knew it was kid friendly so we thought it would be good.

Arriving at Xcaret!

We, and our friends who met us in Mexico, all got on the bus early in the morning and less than 1/2 an hour later arrived at a zoo... well it was crazy busy anyway! After finally filtering our way in (they made us all trade in our sunscreen for bio-degradable sunscreen to protect the animals in the park...) then we had 4 kids and 4 adults who all wanted to see something special in the park... This place is huge and has so much to see it was hard to know what to head to see first and what was where... you would be walking along and see a sign for something really cool so we would wind up veering off here or there... but we had requests to see the manatees, the bats, the dolphins, the underground river and the sharks, everything else was a bonus... and a bonus it was.
The mining caves right near the start of the park

The Mexican cemetary

Xcaret had so many things to see and we saw so much, I am sure we missed some cool things, but we do not feel like we missed out on anything. One of the highlights for me was seeing the traditional Mexican burial ground with its labyrinth of graves and its Mary shrines, but it was also very cool to see a tapier.
The Tapier

The Iguana that scared Maria... she was standing up leaning on the wall looking in at the leopard and didn't see it and it was RIGHT in front of her!

The leopard was huge and very impressive

However, after walking around through the jungle-like park all morning, we were COOKING hot so we decided to head for the underground river. The park gives you a lovely pink life jacket and snorkel equipment if you want, they also have you put all of your belongings into a duffle bag with a lock on it, you keep the key and they take the bag to wait for you at the end of the river.

They have a turtle release program to give the turtles a better chance at survival, these little guys are sooo cute!

After doing all that you go down some stairs into a small canyon and you choose... a river that is completely underground - i.e. cave the whole way or a mixture of cave and open air. Michael is still moaning about the fact that he would have rather done underground entirely, but I for one am glad that we went for the mixed route! So we all hopped into the water which was quite chilly and for 45 minutes floated along through caves (which kind of freaked me out) and through mangroves and even past some animal enclosures, including the manatee area, so there were also fish swimming about. We were not able to take our camera into the river, although we did have Maria's underwater camera, but the pictures did not turn out well, so just believe me that it was very cool.
They have photographers here and there along the river to get pictures of all the people so this is one of two that we have. Maria was further along the river swimming with her friend Katie!

After the river we came out and had some lunch, while being serenaded by an amazing mariachi band. We then spent a while checking out the bats, butterflies and the aquarium, where we saw so many different creatures it was incredible.

The Blue Morphos Butterfly was the highlight in the butterfly pavilion

About this time we were debating whether the kids would be able to handle the show that was to cap off the evening. The show was to be two hours long, starting at 6:30pm and we would then have our bus ride home... and this was on top of a very busy, long day. We decided we might as well give it a whirl, the kids were still in good spirits and it would be a fun memory for them.

So we hustled back all the way across to the other side of the park and just made it in time for the show. The show was really quite cool. There was a demonstration of the Mayan ball games that were played long ago, then they did a brief show of the history of the area and then musical numbers from different areas of Mexico. It was very entertaining, and just a little too long for the younger two kids, they each fell asleep during the show... but that was ok too. Part way through the show, we became aware of a loud pounding sound, and soon realized that it was not raining... it was down-pouring. The large grass roof on the show arena kept out most of the rain... but then we had to make a run back to the bus, and we got SOAKED! It was a blast...

The ball game where the players are not allowed to use hands or feet to shoot the ball through the rings... this looked tricky, but the one with a burning ball looked very impressive to the kids!

Some music and dancing at the show

Ahh, I almost got warm there! Now back to our regularly scheduled, long-lasting, winter...

We had a blizzard on Saturday and today it is -29... sigh.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

These Boots are Made for Walking

One of our concerns of moving up here has been our dog, Suki. Suki has never liked being cold and it was really difficult to get her to go outside when it was cold and rainy... we had no idea how she would do in the REAL cold.

She has actually done quite well, much better than we expected. She is much more willing to go outside in the dry cold and since we don't get much rain, it hasn't been an issue. The only problem she has had is when it is -30 or colder her feet hurt. There were a few times when she went outside and would be limping and whining after a quick pee, so there was no question of going out for any longer (not that anyone wants to be outside when it is -30 or colder!).

So Nana decided that Suki needed some boots. Yes, our dog has boots, but these boots aren't made for walking... more like dancing :)

video