We woke up before the girls came into our room this morning and got dressed so that we would be ready for them. Aracely and Yoselin were the first in. We wished Yoselin a happy birthday immediately. It's hard to believe she's 9; when we first met her she was only 4! She opened her card and gifts and even let Aracely open some. Aracely seemed as excited as Yoselin. Yoselin especially liked the robot eraser. They took the stickers that I had used on the wrapping paper and stuck them to our foreheads. Then they settled on the bed with us and watched videos on the netbook. Yasmin and Eddy came in too. Josue came over and we played the memory game. Eventually even Vanesa and Paola joined us in our room. It was nice to have all the kids together, which doesn't happen on school days.
Paulina came in to tell us all that breakfast was ready, so we headed over to the dining room and sat at the table with Mario and Humberto. We had fried eggs with salsa, black beans "on parade" (standing beans as opposed to refried), cream to go with the beans, and coffee. It was delicious. The kids played the bilingual memory game at the table. Eddy played wth his Duplo blocks.
The kids wanted to go to the tienda (neighborhood store). Yoselin had 10 quetzales burning a hole in her pocket. She was excited to share the money with the other kids, but we insisted that as the birthday girl, she get her choice first. She chose a bag of Lay's potato chips. Being an imported name brand, they are more expensive than domestic brands, and the kids very rarely get to have them. She didn't have enough money to spring for Lay's for all of the other kids, so we kicked in the difference, and everyone left the store happy. We are always amazed at how eager the kids always are to share what they have. It is a great quality.
A new party store has opened up next door to Humberto's office. As we walked past it, the kids went inside. We followed them. The store had everything from wedding and baptism attire to rainbow curly wigs to glasses with a plastic nose and moustache attached. There were white styrofoam cutouts decorated with gold glitter for wedding and baptism parties. Yoselin, Eddy, and Aracely tried on the curly rainbow wig and a rainbow punk rock wig. We thanked the clerk for her patience and headed back to the house.
Paulina took Yoselin and Vanesa to the market to buy them each a new outfit for their birthdays. We held down the fort while they were gone. Craig went into our room to give himself his daily shot. We realized that Yasmin and Aracely, who were in the hall, saw him through the window of our room. We wanted to talk to Humberto before addressing it with them, since we didn't have the Spanish words to try to explain it.
We played with the kids in our room. The kids couldn't get enough of the computer. Josue liked the sea lion snorkeling video from the Galapagos, and asked to see it many times. Aracely set all of the bilingual memory cards out on the floor. She and Eddy were using the second camera to take pictures.
With mom and eldest sister gone to the market, Yasmin and Aracely instigated a water fight at the outdoor sink. They splashed and threw water on one another, and both ended up absolutely soaked. They quickly wrapped in towels and got into some dry clothes before Paulina got home with Yoselin and Vanesa.
Several different activities were always going on at once with so many kids. At different times we played cards, played with the bilingual memory game, and played catch with the velcro balls. Mario distributed some adorable little marshmallow animals on a stick that he bought in Solola yesterday. He even gave one to Craig and I. We played the bilingual memory game, and we played catch with the velcro balls.
Paola and Paulina made lunch. They mixed and patted home-made corn and cheese tortillas and cooked them on the griddle between the burners on the gas cooktop. They sprinkled yellow cabbage and salsa on top, almost like a little pizza. They were delicious. And Paulina made fresh lemonade to drink. Yum! For dessert we had a fresh fruit called a pitaya. Its flesh is a gorgeous magenta color, and its texture is similar to a kiwi. Humberto said that July was pitaya season. Interesting! We have eaten it several times, but didn't know that it was seasonal. I guess when we came in November and January for baptisms, we hadn't noticed its absence. All other visits had been in July.
Humberto had wanted to take us to his family's farmland to see their corn fields and coffee plants. We were excited at the prospect of seeing it. We had seen their local plot of land across the river, but never the more expansive farmland where his father was from. But with all of recent rain, there had been a landslide and the road was impassible, so we were not able to do it this afternoon.
Craig told Humberto that the girls had seen him give himself his shot this morning. Humberto gathered the girls together and explained that Craig has been diagnosed with an illness that attacks his nervous system and that he has to give himself a shot every day to control it. They immediately seemed sad, troubled by the idea that Craig is sick. Their empathy was very sweet. We asked Humberto explain to them that he isn't in any pain and that the medicine is mostly preventative.
Throughout the day we took every opportunity to wish Yoselin a happy birthday and make reference to the fact that she is now nine years old. This was the first of the kids' birthdays that we had ever gotten to spend with them. The kids wanted to use the computer, so we went into our room and they watched videos. Eddy rebooted the computer on purpose when we had told him not to, so we had to take it away for a while. We decided to move the action into the dining room, and gave the kids a Domino Express set. I had had one as a kid (it was called Domino Rally then) and loved it...brightly colored plastic dominoes that could climb stairs and cross bridges. Some assembly was required, and Craig read the directions and helped to instruct the kids. There was a spring action loop-the-loop that was controlled by a tiny rubber band. Craig showed Vanesa how to operate it, and then she taught Eddy to arm it. Josue would knock the dominoes down before anyone finished setting them up. We all helped to set up the dominoes into an elaborate pattern and had a lot of fun watching them fall.
Aracely came in crying and went to lay on her parents' bed. I went in and comforted her even though I didn't know what had happened. We eventually coaxed her out to the dining room and into a card game with Craig, Vanesa, amd myself. Aracely is now able to follow rules and take turns. She had matured a lot in the past year and we are very pleased with the progress she made at school. However, she can still be sneaky, and Craig caught her cheating and taunted her. She taunted him right back.
Now that everyone else had finished playing with the dominoes, Paola sat down and examined them herself. That seems to be a common strategy for her, being patient and allowing the initial novelty interest of the others to pass.
Mario came home and joined us at the dining room table. Yoselin played Jenga with him. Then they used the Jenga pieces as blocks and built towers. For dinner we had black bean soup with cream, veggies, garlic bread and tamales homemade by Humberto's sister-in-law. She makes them every Saturday. Everything was delicious. We had tea to drink. Even though today was Yoselin's birthday, there was no birthday cake. Tomorrow there would be a party honoring both girls, and Yoselin was very patient.
The kids watched videos and looked at pictures on Mario's iPhone. Yoselin showed us the new outfit she had gotten at the market today. There was a stylish blouse with tattoo-art style heart with wing motif on the front, and it had a little black crocheted shrug around her shoulders. She also had a nice new pair of jeans. She had chosen a very cute outfit and we looked forward to seeing her wear it.
Aracely drew in her notebook. She is able to draw a lot of things - flowers, pigs, etc. Last year she could only draw abstract thngs and very simple stick figures. She also writes letters of the alphabet. She wanted me to draw a "Winnie Pooh" like I had done on our last visit. The only reason I had been able to di it then was that I had been looking at their Winnie the Pooh blanket as a reference. I said that I would need to copy it again, that I couldn't do it from memory. She went into her room and dug out the Winnie the Pooh blanket and brought it to me so that I could draw it for her.
Humberto and Paulina played with memory game cards with Yoselin and Eddy. Humberto said something to Vanesa and Paola and they disappeared for a short time. They returned with Gatorades for us and ice for Craig's medication. The ice was a small plastic baggie of drinking water which had been frozen, which sells for 1 quetzal. It did the job quite nicely in the little cooler.
Eddy was being careless with the second camera (holding the strap in his teeth), and before I could even say anything, he dropped it on the floor. He then quickly picked it up and ran into Humberto and Paulina's room to hide and check if it was ok. I followed him in. When he saw Craig watching us through the door he slammed it. When I tried to get the camera from him, he laid on top of it to keep it from me. I told him he could use it more tomorrow, and he finally relented. He handed it to me crankily, and he had even had a nap today! This was a sign that it was time for bed. We said our goodnights and headed to our room.
Craig, Yoselin, Yasmin, and Eddy
Paulina and Eddy
Aracely and Craig
Eddy at the party store
Paola preparing lunch
Paulina preparing lunch
Assembling the Domino Express