Exie in Mexico and Amarillo at 1

Whoa! Okay, who didn't get the school uniform right for the dance?
Whoa! The flying horses are fun, but you can't wear a costume there.
Sukie and Exie Danielle gets kissed.
Exie may be from a wholesome football hating family, but she has been corrupted by the Longhorns, Jeannie Simon, Robert and Kathy Lyons and Sukie.

October 31, 2005

Well we’ve had a busy past few months.  After a successful archaeological field season in Espita from June through July, we took a vacation in the states to see family for the month of August.  We went to the O’Brien family reunion in Canyon, Texas, then to Grove City and Newcastle, Pennsylvania for Kam’s grandmother’s memorial service and family reunion of sorts.   From there we went back to Amarillo for a memorial service / family reunion for my great Uncle William.  Then we spent two weeks on Martha’s Vineyard, where I won first prize for my blueberry pie at the West Tisbury Agricultural Fair.  We also went camping on a lake in New Hampshire with mom and her boyfriend Dave.  While my friends Kim from Vanderbilt, and Teresa and Pat from grad school in Buffalo visited, we ate lobster every single day in one form or another. 

We flew back to Mexico the first week in September and moved to Merida, a large city of about 600,000 people (1 million including suburbs).  We found an incredible art deco house to rent at a decent price in an older neighborhood full of both deteriorating and newly restored mansions.   Our house has 20 foot high ceilings and gorgeous traditional tiles, a covered patio and an open patio, a guest room, two bathrooms, an office, a workspace, two bedrooms, a laundry room, and a housekeeper’s quarters with its own bath, hot water, and cable.  Our neighborhood is very central and has a children’s park nearby that Exie loves.  We are close to downtown with all of its old cathedrals and museums.  We are also pretty close to a fantastic zoo/children’s park that is a lot of fun with a huge playground with a real airplane turned into a slide and a pond with rentable boats.  There are parks all over town and every day of the week there are concerts or dance performances.  We get all the mainstream American movies.  We have Sam’s, Office Depot, Costco, WalMart, Chili’s, and a number of other American chains. 

Exie is now 15 months old and has just completed her first week of school at a neat old Catholic school about a 10 minute walk from our house.  She has loved it from the beginning.  On her first day, she ran in the classroom door to join the other children and never even looked back!  Not one tear was shed.  She even has a little Catholic School Girl uniform she wears every day.  She is also enrolled in Gymboree classes (music and play).  She has a good friend Daniela, who is a couple of months younger than she and lives across the street.  Exie has another friend, Sasilu (“moonlight” in Maya) who is almost 4 years old and visits regularly.  We have a live-in nanny/housekeeper, Pati, who has been a huge help with cleaning and childcare.  Exie absolutely adores her. 

We have an enormous yard that we are in the process of taming and planting.  It is full of avocado, mango, guava, lime, and bitter orange trees, and a pitaya cactus.  (Pitaya is Exie’s favorite fruit).  We have iguanas living in our yard, bats that fly around at night, a flock of parrots that frequent our trees. We’ve had one scorpion, a terrible infestation of ants (they even made a nest in Kam’s modem and my digital camcorder!), a few giant cockroaches (we’re not talking palmetto bugs –they’re bigger than mice!) and lots of mosquitoes.  I returned to the states at the beginning of October to pick up our cat, Ceebie Geebie, so she’s down here now too.  On the flight up, I met a mother from Merida who has 3 little kids and has since included us in regular playgroup in the park across from her house.  Between all these classes and playgroups, Exie has been to 4 Halloween parties this week and has a birthday party on Saturday to attend. 

Exie has accumulated lots of new talents.  The day she began walking confidently on her own was the same day she learned the word “No!”, so she is well on her way to independence.  She loves playing futbol (soccer), kissing people and things (especially with a wet or sticky face), reading, dancing (favorite song is “Gasolina” –a popular song in Latin America at the moment), running, roaring like a lion, playing in the dirt, standing under the drain spout after a heavy rain, taking a bath, brushing her teeth, meeting new people, running after the cat, playing chase, rolling in the grass, and “going on errands” (carrying her little purse and saying Bye Bye).  She has constantly has bruises on her head because she always runs and falls.  She always has to have things in both of her hands –if I give her a cracker I have to break it in half to give her two pieces.  She sleeps very well in a hammock.  She made her first drawing yesterday.

She points and grunts a lot, but is also learning new words in Spanish, English, and Animal: Bye Bye, No, Uh-Oh, Hi, Ball, Baby, Mama, DaDa, Ceebee, Hola, Agua, Ven (“come”), Woof, Moo, Meow, Hiss, Roar, Howl.  Her first sentence was “Uh-oh Da Da”.  One mother asked me if she watches Teletubbies (she doesn’t), because she says Uh-Oh all the time and they’ve never heard it in any other context than that TV show.  Her new word yesterday was jugo (“juice”).  She has learned to blow kisses.  When you ask how old she is, she puts up one finger and says “one”.  She’ll be a flower girl for a friend’s wedding in January in Puerta Vallarta.

She wouldn’t keep a barrette in (she would take it out the second I put it in her hair, ripping out hunks of hair with it, and then trying to put it back in by herself), so yesterday I finally bit the bullet and had her hair cut with bangs at a great salon that is especially for kids (“Winnie Puh”).  I was worried, but it actually looks cute.  We also went to her first movie last weekend, Tim Burton’s “Corpse Bride”, and she absolutely loved it!  She sat still for 30 minutes straight –the first time in her life!  And she clapped several times in the movie and said “agua” in one part where they were pouring wine into a glass (agua means any liquid for her).

Life is very good in Merida.  Hurricane Wilma was uneventful for us –just some heavy rains.  We lost only a bunch of bananas on our tree, so we were very lucky. 

It’s finally cooling off, which is wonderful (“cool” means 85 degrees in the day, 70 at night).  Yesterday at the mall, after Exie threw off her shoes and I put them away, some old ladies were lamenting, “poor baby –she doesn’t have any socks!” –like she was on the verge of frostbite because of her neglectful mother! 

We’ll be in the states between Nov 13th and Dec 6th for 2 conferences (archaeological conservation in Williamsburg, VA and archaeology in Washington, DC) and Thanksgiving in Amarillo.  We’ll be spending Christmas with Mom, Jane, Aunt Mary, and cousin David in Merida.


first year