Crazy - it's already that time of year when our calendars fill up with farewell dinners and parties; it seems only yesterday it was holidays and fundraisers. Humans love to wax on about the passage of time, and I suppose I'm as hooked as anyone: measuring months by how much this or that kid has grown, or who's packing up and splitting town for the season.
Every so often, I have to remind myself of the reasons I wanted to move to Mexico, principal among them being to slooooooooow down, take time to enjoy the details, relish the beauty of life, be with my family. See, I am, by nature, not a relaxed person. Regardless of how much quote/un-quote "work" I have at any given time, I am perpetually driven by one agenda or another, be it personal, creative, work, or other. So it is that I find myself rushing from one thing to the next, always in a hurry to get onto my next planned task.
With so many mid-March birthdays upon us, I thought I'd share a favorite recipe for "Birthday Soup." Our version of Birthday Soup is so coined because Maximo and I love the story of Birthday Soup from LIttle Bear, by Elsa Holmelund Minarik (with illustrations by family favorite, Maurice Sendak)... and also because this soup is so yummy and sweet that it is almost as good as birthday cake.
The idea of a "planned community" conjures up any number of thoughts and corresponding gut reactions depending on your personal p-o-v. For me, I can't help but think back to my parents' house in the suburb of Federal Way, Washington, with the HOA's strict rules about acceptable "Northwest colors" that qualified as exterior house paint. Refreshingly, not all developments are about conformity to the mundane, as I was reminded while chatting with Fred Geisler and Laurie Keith, the developer couple guiding the vision for TierraLuz, a new eco-community in Sayulita's not-so-remote jungle.
Last week my dad turned 60 and we had the honor of hosting 20+ friends and family that flew in for a week of fiesta and fun. Being a wedding planner, I see lots of groups coming through town and living it up in general revelry, so being on the reveling side of things was a particular treat and joy, especially because we were all celebrating my amazing father.
While many adults I know would be happy to lounge on the beach doing nothing all day on their Sayulita vacations, sometimes the kids require a little more structure and stimulation to keep them engaged and happy. Fortunately, Sayulita offers plenty of activities to keep the kiddies from slipping into boredom, like surfing, boogie boarding, horseback riding, and our local zip-line canopy tour. Adding to all of this fun is the newly hatched Sayulita Sea Camp, an educational and entertaining program for kids age 4-10.
How cool is this? My favorite shop in town has teamed up with my favorite kid to showcase her art. Astrid Vanya Dea-Sherman's exhibition of her "Bird" series of paintings is now showing in Sayulita's own Revolución del Sueño boutique. The series of seven paintings feature a stylized bird character in bright solid colors with stark black outlines. The images are rendered in acrylic paint on slabs of salvage wood found on nearby Litibu beach.
Recently my husband and I, along with our two sons ages 5 and 3, hopped on a plane from Calgary and headed down to Sayulita for a little winter getaway. The town was chosen as a wedding site for my in-laws; at first I was a little apprehensive as we had never traveled with our kids anywhere that wasn't in a resort setting or at least 10 minutes away from a Wal-mart. But it was important that we be there and Canadian winters are harsh so we decided to go for it.
If you're looking to improve your Spanish skills, reading children's books enespañol is a great way to expand your vocabulary and language comprehension. Kids' books are generally succinct, clear in their wording, highly descriptive, and accompanied by illustrations that explain what's happening, mas o menos. Bilingual books, with text in both Spanish and English, make it easy to "look up" unknown words, but with some basic Spanish knowledge and the context of story and pictures, even a Spanish-only kid's book is generally grasp-able.
Living in a foreign country, I find renewed appreciation for the traditions of my home, my family, my youth. There's something extra fun and rewarding about taking a ritual out of its well-known context and sharing it with those who either are completely unfamiliar, as well as those who perhaps have their own memories and experience to draw upon.
Moving to Sayulita was the realization of a major dream for us, way back (almost-five-years-ago!) when. A dream of forging a new life, away from the rat race, in a place where we would have context, have a chance to offer something of ourselves to a growing community, and - most importantly - find more time for each other, the family we wanted to grow, and the ongoing pursuit of dreams.
Seriously? Only 2 weeks left ‘till Christmas? I guess it's time to get shopping. Lucky for us Sayuleros, Sayulita is becoming quite the shopping mecca, with no shortage of opportunities to spend your holiday dollars locally, and to find chic, original gifts while avoiding the crowds and traffic of Vallarta. Here are a few of my fave picks - old and new - for family gift finding:
D-I-Y is all the rage in weddings these days -- little crafty details created with love in lieu of store-bought décor and favors. My wedding group last week put an original spin on the Do-It-Yourself trend by spending one of their vacation days volunteering at Costa Verde International School and the public Kindergarten.
Ah, the birthday party - such a rite of childhood, filled with ritual, joy, celebration, and... sugar. As a parent - let's be honest, as a human - I tend to obsess on sugar. Having quite a sweet tooth myself, I hope to instill in my kid a more balanced relationship to sugar, sweets, and all things junk food.
Vallarta nightlife, a phrase that conjures up images of foam parties, sky lounges, and... dance theater? Having an aversion towards driving on highway 200 at night, my impressions of Puerto Vallarta are skewed toward the daytime, and my days there are mostly filled with running errands, shopping, and (lately) Ameca bridge traffic.
We always used to hear from the old-timers that one day in mid-October, it just suddenly cools off and dries up. It seemed far-fetched, but after five Octobers, I'm a believer. Last weekend was as hot as ever, but Monday morning came on cool, crisp, and humidity-free (you know the season has changed when it's cooler outside than in your AC'd bedroom...). The week has been gorgeous, I was able to blow-dry my hair without sweating, and I am actually wearing a (very lightweight) sweater as I sit here typing, in the middle of the afternoon.
October - it sneaks up on me each year. September always seems so slooooow, with its hot hot heat, rains, and sparse times. Septi-hambre, the locals call it. Some days it seems like September might drag on forever - some years, more so than ever. Then suddenly autumn has arrived. The sun is shining, the rains have tapered off, the ocean is clearing up, and - could it be? - it feels a degree or two cooler.
This summer, for the first time since we moved to Sayulita, we left. Not for the whole season, but for a solid 4 weeks - a substantial break from home and work life. We spent time with family and friends -- disconnecting from our computers, jobs, and daily responsibilities while reconnecting as a family unit. After a week in the mountains without internet, we returned to civilization and were shocked to learn of the devastation happening in Sayulita. Feeling helpless from so far away, we were intensely moved by the mobilization of our community that came together to help those in need, provide mattresses and devote days cleaning out mud-filled homes.
This "Back to School" week marked the beginning of Costa Verde International School's third year in operation. With a new directorial team at the helm, four new teachers on board and a host of other changes and new programs, the CVIS team is excited about the year to come. I stopped by last week before school started to chat with new Academic Director Julie Brenninkmeyer about what's in store for the CVIS community this year.
With just 10 days left before the school year starts in Sayulita, it's time to make the most of these long, hot summer days with the family. Here are ten fun ways to fill your last school-free days with the kids, in and around Sayulita: