This is the second in a series of posts I am doing about my growing up years. (They are supposed to be on Fridays in place of my Q&A stuff but I’m a little slow this week.) The first post is back here and it has more pictures (I just added a few more pics. of journal entries I found in a family record book in Salt Lake last week). Sadly, I can’t find one picture of this Mexico adventure. Maybe that’s why I can’t remember a whole lot from it. Luckily I do have my trusty sixth grade journal: But un-luckily it talks much more about how mad I was at my siblings here and there, how nervous I was about starting jr. high, and how much I missed my friends and McDonalds (gag) than it does about the richness of a family adventure. But it gives me hope that even without pictures or anything great written down, this experience did indeed weave rich golden threads into my memory. I had no idea how thankful to be back then. More on why I thank my lucky stars for the adventures we had growing up back here. My parents were always on a quest to help us see the world from every different angle they could think of. They wanted to get us out of our comfort zones whenever they possibly could. In doing so, they sure got themselves out of their own comfort which they obviously thrived on. Much of what they taught us about the world was right within the walls of our own home, but they were quite adept at frugally getting us nine kids to a lot of places that provided experiences we’ll never forget. When I graduated from elementary school (sixth grade) we packed up and headed to “live” in Mexico for a month. We had lived in Salt Lake City for a couple years so my parents must have figured we were getting a little too comfortable. I’m sure they had grand visions of us learning Spanish and all that jazz as well as realizing things like “You don’t have to have shoes to be happy.” (That was one of our “epiphanies” we learned together there.) My Dad had scouted out a place in Ajijic by Lake Chapala (more about that funny exploratory trip that us older kids accompanied him as far as Mazatlan on my sister’s blog over here). The plan was to drive in our big van right down there to the place he had found. We made it as far as Tucson, Arizona and here’s my sixth-grade version of what happened from there (yes, I named my journal Cuthbert): Yeah, I think flying would be better too… These are the main things I remember from the trip: –We had two little apartments that joined with a shared front porch. My older sister Saren and I got to be “in charge” of one of them and take care of three younger siblings there. We thought we had died and gone to heaven with how excited we were. In my mind, we cooked all the meals and put the kids to bed every night but I’m sure my parents were good “helpers.” –On Father’s Day, my sister and I made a special dinner for our Dad but we couldn’t get our gas oven to light. My Dad put his head in to check out why it wasn’t starting. Of course right then it roared to life. My Dad singed off his eyebrows and eyelashes. We laughed and laughed but were so grateful he was ok. –There were big bugs here. Huge fat beetles that could fly lazy circles around us. –My Dad made friends with a taxi driver named Carlos. He took such great care of us and helped us rent skin-and-bones horses to ride along the beach of the lake every now and then. –There was a swimming pool in our complex. We would swim in it every day as one of our exercising “summer deal goals” (something we always did ever summer growing up and that Dave and I do religiously with our own kids now). One day my little brother Talmadge sliced his finger open on a piece of glass in the bottom of the pool. My parents were too nervous to take him to a local hospital to get it stitched up so they let it heal bandaged up as best they could. That little finger still shows that story well to this day because let’s just say the healing process wasn’t so hot. –My sister Saren and I decided to exercise every day. Mostly we jumped on our beds (with a goal to try to soften those rock-hard puppies up) to the sound of Michael Jackson blaring as loud as we could get it. –We had big jugs of “purified” water brought in for drinking. One day as we neared the end of one of those huge jugs we found a dead beetle submerged in there. Nice. –We bought some cool Mexican pottery at a local market that my parents still pull out to use now and then. We made friends with a few of the local kids: We must have learned partial Spanish somehow because this is what I wrote in my journal one day: Max just helped me read it. Very advanced, I tell you. 🙂 We came home and all my journal talks about after that was how excited I was to get my ears pierced and go waterskiing. No wrap-up. No amazing epiphanies. But in my mind it’s all wrapped up and tied with a beautiful bow. Because those little things my sixth-grade mind soaked in taught me more than I could comprehend at that time. Mostly that those sparkling smiles on the faces of those kids we met there were the same as mine, even if they didn’t own any shoes.