Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Unbraiding and Squish Factors

Do we look any different, more conversant in Spanish perhaps? Can you tell which photo was taken the night we left for Mexico and which one was taken the morning of our return 4 months later? Since we arrived in San Diego as the finale of our summer 2008 bicycle trip down the Pacific coast of the USA, and re-staged there for our semester in Mexico, it seemed fitting we were back again to transition from travel to life in this country just to the north of Mexico. This time we arrived at my sister's much less hot and sweaty. (She lives among some tremendous hills that challenged us a little on our last day of bicycling in August.) And this time we made our entrance in sombreros rather than bicycle helmets.

Transition week in San Diego included reworking our wardrobes (the kids got taller so none of their pants fit and we needed clothes for colder weather), and Dana getting her ears pierced and her hair unbraided - it took her mom, aunt and grandma working together quite awhile to get out the 49 braids. Noah and Dana were also pedal-boating with the grandparents, pool swimming, bowling, doing art projects and playing Playmobil with cousin Alexi, and choosing books from the library book sale. Tom went out on a few mountain bike rides, we mailed our camping gear back to Bellingham, and we got used to dollars not pesos. Winner of the nightly word game Quiddler got to eat a grasshopper spiced with chile, since we brought back a few from Oaxaca as a present for my brother-in-law. Word is they're crunchy like a sunflower seed.  Only with a little squish in the middle.

Arriving in 3-degree Michigan, the snow is not squishing. It is making that squeaking sound underfoot that signals it is darn cold. Snow is good news here, as Tom's parents' 50th wedding anniversary event is at a cross-country ski resort, and there are big plans for nordic races, sledding and skating. Happily, there's also a hot tub and a place I could order the anniversary cake from. 

We'll be "deep in family" as Noah once said of this group when he was little, with his uncles arriving from North Carolina, cousins from Portland and New York and Michigan, his Michigan aunt and uncle, and his Maryland great-aunt and uncle. Group meals for 20, options in outdoor fun, and family. Another kind of adventure. Maybe we'll even propose word games and chile grasshopper prizes.

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