4th Grader!!!

Rosalind and I both started at our new schools today. I mean, I started PD last week, but I got students today. I desperately hope she is having a great day, and there will be a nagging worry in my brain until I can get to her to find out how it all went down. Do you know that she has never eaten in a proper cafeteria? She ate in the classroom in both of her Alaskan schools. Anyway, I’m a little nervous. If it isn’t just vibrating at you out of the computer.

I’m posting these here before social media because I have zero cell or internet service inside my school building. The wifi blocks me from all social media as well.

I promise to come back to post more frequently and with (possibly) more detailed content just as soon as we all get our heads above water.

The Kids Visit ABQ Summer 2018

I feel it might be a waste of time to write out our activities with my niece and nephew in detail because we mostly did stuff with them that we have covered before. We also spent time watching movies, playing endless video games, eating, and just hanging out at the house letting the kids play. I hope they had a nice time. I very much enjoyed having them visit.

Here are a couple of things worth noting.

First, we took the kids back to Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks park for a hike on David’s birthday. On the way there, Emma asked me if there would be snakes. I told her what I believed to be the truth which is that the hike is too busy to be surprised by a snake.  We weren’t even five whole minutes into the hike when we passed a group of people on a small bridge. As we went by, a lady turned and asked us if we had ever seen a rattlesnake. A RATTLESNAKE! Because there was one going by just off the trail. Picture evidence below.

This is kind of like if someone had come to visit us in Alaska and after four years of encountering nothing more than ravens and an occasional moose, we found a bear sitting on our deck waiting to welcome our visitors. I hope it’s like that anyway. I prefer to think we aren’t going to encounter deadly snakes very often.

Second, we ended the week going to our first ever movie theater/dinner/beer experience with the kids. Let me tell you, Teen Titans Go to the Movies is best seen in a recliner with cheese fries and a beer. I suppose all movies are probably best seen that way. I honestly think this was everyone’s favorite activity of the whole week.

Enjoy our picture tour.

 

Delivering On a Promise

This has felt like the busiest summer ever. We didn’t take a single big family vacation this year, but I guess moving and job hunting and visiting family can really add up to a lot of activity. Due to all of the conflicts, we continued to put off something that Rosalind technically earned (financially and behaviorally) about two years ago. We found lots of creative ways to push back this development (like telling her we had to wait until after we moved, but that we would gift it to her at that time), but it finally came time to pay the piper.

No sooner had we gotten back to Albuquerque from dropping the cousins off than we found ourselves with a new family member.

This is Charlie. She’s pretty darn cute for a fuzzy poop machine.

R and R

We made it back to Albuquerque safely if not entirely without the presence of vomit. More on that later. Rosalind is excited (manically thrilled) to have her cousins in her home for a change. She was too young to remember that the cousins used to come stay at our house from time to time before the big move to Alaska, so this feels totally novel to her. It is kind of novel to us too because 10 days at our house is definitely new to all of us.

I’m not here today to recap you on the cousin visit though. I scanned back through my phone to see what previous events I missed telling you about. I never got around to mentioning our first little New Mexico tour! Sergio has to go out from Albuquerque for work from time to time, so Rosalind, Eliot and I accompanied him to Roswell and Ruidoso on one of these trips.

So, here’s a fun fact about me. I have always conflated Roswell and Area 51. I just completely thought they were the same place. Turns out, nope. I think this is due to the fact that I have given alien landings very little consideration in my lifetime. I do consider alien life from time to time; for example, I spent some time chatting with myself over the This American Life podcast that explored Fermi’s Paradox while I drove around Arkansas to pick up Rolo from her grandparents last week. I just don’t spend any time thinking about this stuff unless it presents itself to me. And yes, I do spend a lot of my alone time in the car talking to myself. I’ve learned to just own it. Rosalind has long since stopped asking what I’m mumbling about anymore, and when students tell me they have seen me driving around town, I always ask if I was talking to myself. Most of the time, the answer is yes.

Hmmm. That was a totally useless tangent. What was my point? I’m pretty sure I didn’t set out to highlight that I’m weird.

So now I know that Roswell is not Area 51. I also know more than I ever wished to know about the alien event in Roswell because to pass some time while Sergio worked, Rosalind and I went to the UFO Museum. I, uhhhh, don’t have much to say about that experience. I think if you find yourself in Roswell you should just go. Why not?

Roswell was a good town! It’s one of those places where you have false or no expectations at all, so to find a nice little town is pleasing. The military school is really pretty. On our way out of town we drove through miles of perfectly lined up pecan trees. Lovely.

We spent the next night in Ruidoso. We did wander through the main part of town, but we picked the hottest part of the day. We decided that Ruidoso will be better explored in any other season. It is such a cute place. It feels like a little Colorado ski town and we definitely spent plenty of time discussing whether we needed a second home there one day. Never mind that we don’t yet own the first home. What kind of people go to adorable vacation towns and don’t talk about owning a part of them? I don’t know those kinds of people. I clearly did not spend time taking pictures. Next time.

My biggest takeaway from the whole weekend was that the drive from Roswell to Ruidoso to Abq is legit. Especially the portion from Roswell to Ruidoso. If driving around looking at pretty things and listening to podcasts/audiobooks with your family is also your thing, this is a drive for you! The image below is not representative of the whole drive, but it was an interesting spot where you can clearly see how the lava flowed through.

***Totally off topic for a second: Sergio had to go on a local morning television show this week to promote his legal organization. If you know us at all, you know this isn’t the likeliest scenario in which you might find a Barron. Well, Rolo might welcome the limelight but not her introvert parents. He did great! I can’t decide if he wants me to link it or not, so I’m just going to walk the middle road and tell you that it happened. Perhaps this is the beginning of a long career in the spotlight. Or perhaps not considering he asked me not to watch it live and never even told his child it was going to happen at all!***

Scandalous

I’ve been in Arkansas doing the summer tour of family, and I did not bring the handy dandy iPad setup and therefore have not posted. I’m headed home with three kiddos in tow Friday and should be back to a more regular schedule at that point.

During this two week visit, I had a birthday with a number I haven’t made peace with yet (shoutout to Nikki who gave me a pitch perfect birthday celebration when I totally house crashed her. Petit fours, champagne, and tv binging for the win!).

I have sought solace for my aging sorrows in the warm embrace of others.

Other dogs.

I have been shamelessly cheating on Eliot with the following cast of characters.

Libby the corgi pup came to play nap while my niece was pet sitting.

Mavis and Ruby partied hard with me on my birthday.

Beau listened intently to my belly grumbles.

And sweet Greta dutifully waits her turn everyday for cuddles since Beau is the guest this week.

I would appreciate it if you wouldn’t tell Eliot.

Stuff I’m…

Watching: 

Frasier…again – The funny thing this time is that despite her hesitation, it has totally captured Rosalind’s attention too. Now our endless looping of Frasier reruns is a family affair.

Nailed It – It took a few episodes for me to settle into this show, but Rosalind LOVES it. I’ve heard a lot of kids her age seem to really get a kick out of it. It’s cute.

New Girl – The last half season of New Girl came out in May, I think. I love it when a show gets a last season to wrap everything up neatly, and New Girl delivered.

Incredibles 2 – It didn’t have a chance up to my love of the first one because it is my absolute favorite Pixar movie ever, but it was a perfectly good movie.

Coco – We finally managed to rent this one. It was a very pretty movie with a sweet story.

Reading:

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter – Not knowing what I was going to be teaching gave me a great excuse to read a wide array of YA novels. Now that I know I won’t really need a vast knowledge of YA novels this year, I’ll just have to own up to liking them.

The Hate U Give – Another in my YA perusal.

Less – Not YA! A Pulitzer Prize winner even.

Listening to:

After continually hitting a wall with Ready Player One, Sergio told me to listen to the audiobook version he downloaded when he drove from Alaska. So I did even though my history with audiobooks has been hit or miss. One day while we were waiting to pick Sergio up from work, Rosalind started listening with me. She was completely hooked! This is a habit I will gladly indulge with her.

The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy – We decided she might enjoy some Douglas Adams after we completed Ready Player One. We both read this in our late teens or even early twenties, so perhaps we underestimated the level of satire. She’s enjoying it fine, but the parts that make us laugh don’t always register with her.

A Tale of Two Cities – I added another audiobook to my phone for when Rosalind isn’t around. You’ll be interested to know that A Tale of Two Cities and Ready Player One have roughly the same running times of about 16 hours.

Eating: 

All the green chiles.

And all the Carne Adovada.

Takeout from Grubhub way too often.

Roasted and salted shishito peppers.

Saturn peaches which totally got me to buy them with their super cute exterior but won me over with the excellent peach to pit ratio.

Cotton Candy Grapes! Have you had these? You have to have these! They are excellent! I promise! I understand that they sound gross. They are not. They are also not some horrible corn syrup injected monstrosity. They are just bred to taste this way. I haven’t been able to find any more since my first bag.

Doing:

Not unpacking, that’s for darn sure! Furniture still set to be delivered the morning I leave for Arkansas.

Paperwork for my new job. Lamenting bureaucracy.

Learning my way around ABQ slowly but surely. Getting used to the traffic and speed of life.

Sitting on the floor way too much. Give me my couch! My back begs you!

 

 

 

 

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument

Albuquerque provides us with plenty of opportunities to be outside. Most weekends we park our car in the foothills and take a jog around the trails available just a few blocks from our house. We’ve also managed a couple of small, mostly unplanned hikes when we come across them.

The first hike that we actually planned for was for a place that we had somehow never even heard of. We were intrigued by it just from pictures and descriptions, and then we were extremely pleased to find that it is only an hour outside of ABQ.

A quick internet search taught us some important information. This is information that clearly not everyone bothered to read on the website, the ranger station, or any of the many posted signs around the park, so I’m going to help you out.

  1. It is a popular hike. You will encounter people from all over the country and beyond. If you don’t get there pretty much right when they open up for the day (8 am), you will be waiting in a long line of cars. They pretty much close up shop when the park reaches capacity, so get there early.
  2. No dogs allowed. It is sacred land for the nearby Pueblo. Be respectful of that.
  3. Stay on the trail. No climbing on the tent rocks. There are plenty of natural places to climb, veer off to a smaller trail, or sit on non-tent rocks. Again, be respectful.

We got there around 8:30 am, and they are not kidding about it being a popular place. We didn’t have to wait to hike, but the most you can hope for regarding solitude is a nice buffer distance between the family in front of you and the family behind you. It is a slot hike, so there are several places where everyone clogs up. This does not diminish the experience at all. It just makes it more of a social event than a lot of hikes I’ve been on in the past.

I can’t really express to you how nice this hike was. The pictures never really do it justice either. You’re going to have to trust me that you need to go. It is so gorgeous, and fun, and frankly, it provides lots of shade which you can’t underestimate during a New Mexico July. It is so pretty and kind of odd. Rosalind was not that enthusiastic about hiking when we woke her up early Sunday morning. Her exact words were, “I don’t waaannnaaaaa hike.” It took until the parking lot before her full enthusiasm kicked in at the landscape, and then we couldn’t even keep up with her for the rest of the hike. “Look over there. Look at that. Do you see that? Whoa, look at this!”

If you do both parts of the hike, you are in for 4.2 miles. There is a decent amount of elevation and a couple of very quick places where you have to maneuver yourself over rocks. Otherwise the trail is made up of very soft, squishy sand. It will make you a bit sore in the way taking a jog on the beach can. The second hike that takes you to a small man-made cave is in full sun. I would recommend that you do that part first if you get there early.

Other tips:

  1. Take more water than you think you need. A couple of well-stocked hiking packs are not overkill. You won’t get lost on this trail, so just water and sunscreen should suffice.
  2. Sunscreen up well beforehand and you should be good for the whole hike.
  3. DO NOT under any circumstances go on a rainy day. It is a slot canyon and you will most definitely die in a flash flood. It took us two weeks to get to this hike because of rain in the forecast on our first try. Luckily for you, it only rains about every three weeks here.
  4. Take some cash for the $5 parking fee.
  5. Hats and sunglasses are your friends.
  6. Close-toed shoes are smart. I saw several people that clearly just decided to hike on a whim (which is totally fine), but their sandals were utterly useless in the soft, squishy sand of the trail.
  7. You will be covered in a layer of soft dirt afterward. I could draw in the dirt on my leg on the car ride home. This is only important information if you plan to grab some lunch afterward and are worried about where you can eat with so much dirt on you. We ended up at Freddy’s. Nothing like a little dirt to give you an excuse to scarf down a yummy burger and steal some of your kid’s milkshake.

We could not recommend this hike more. It definitely falls in my top three favorite hikes. Go to there! 5E754C2D-DB4E-465A-B041-B750B0898F87

All Set Up Now

Sorry for the long absence. The reason is two-fold. First, I wake up most days with the thought, “What horrors await us in the news today?” The last couple of weeks have more than lived up to my dramatic thought processes. If you haven’t chosen at least one of the terrors to fight against recently, let me encourage you to do so. We’ve done a few different things and will continue to do so. Yesterday we took part in the nationwide Families Belong Together Rally. It felt quite a bit different than the sub-zero Women’s March from Fairbanks a couple of years ago. Notice how we found the shade.

The second, and far more lighthearted reason I haven’t posted much, is that our stuff still isn’t here. I know! That’s insane! We are scootching toward SEVEN weeks without our furniture. It is supposed to show up at our door on Thursday which is also the same day Rosalind and I go back to Arkansas for a two week visit. Just terrible timing. To add to the insult of the whole thing, our stuff has actually been sitting in a parking lot somewhere in Albuquerque for over a week already. They just couldn’t fit us into the delivery schedule until Thursday. No big deal. We’re just over here with one chair, a beanbag, one mattress, and a memory foam pallet on the floor. No hurry or anything. The point of that rant is actually just to say that I kept thinking I would be able to post using Rosalind’s little Chromebook when it finally got here, and so I just kept putting it off.

After complaining more than a couple of times that I am getting behind on New Mexico posts, Sergio went and gifted me with this snazzy little setup. 18D5F2D3-6566-4811-9057-41292928C79FThat’s right, you guys, I am typing on a little Bluetooth keyboard hooked up to a new iPad as we speak. I LOVE IT. It is SO ADORABLE! I won’t always be using a Yeti cooler as my desk. I hope.

This post will probably be short. We’ve been up to a lot of stuff lately, and I think I’m going to approach it in a couple of posts so that each thing can have the proper attention. At any rate, dinner needs to be cooked and I promised Rolo an hour at the pool, so here are a couple of quick pieces of relevant information that don’t deserve their own post but do need a quick mention.

We bought this car yesterday…  933877F9-952C-4964-A0D7-5C2DEC14EDF3

…because I accepted a job last week. Middle school social studies this time. I’m pleased with both of these developments. We waited to buy a second car until we knew if I would even be employed and needing a car each day, and then when we knew the location details, what that car needed to be like.

And the last thing worth noting is that Rosalind got back from a week at a very impressive Girl Scout Camp in Angel Fire on Friday. She showered exactly one time in the whole six days. C448AAD8-31AD-4CFF-9BE5-BA6AC62A6859

She swears that she wore her retainer every single night though.

Sure she did.

I Will Learn To Take Video In Landscape Mode. One Day.

On our first weekend here, we found a big Farmer’s Market to attend because that’s an activity we all enjoy. This one is right downtown and is a really nice mix of produce and souvenirs. I was pleased to see that we had any number of options for Aguas Fresca that day, and I’ve been pleased to see them available nearly everywhere since. It’s kind of like how I can get green chile added to just about anything anywhere. I love that. In fact, before the market we grabbed breakfast at The Kolache Factory, and mine was green chile brisket. Yum.

Albuquerque has an unexpectedly excellent botanical garden. I figured it would be nice enough, but I was really blown away by how much it actually had going on. We initially bought the combined ticket for the garden and the aquarium, but the garden took so long that we left the aquarium for another day. This was an easy decision because we decided to get a season pass for the whole BioPark (also includes the zoo), and they were nice enough to apply our daily fee to the season pass total, both of which are totally affordable anyway. Here is a little picture collage from our day at the garden. I found the over-sized garden for kids and the preserved (working) farm in the middle to be especially charming. Rosalind was also a big fan of the colorful and friendly koi.

NOW! Here is a video from the Bug-arium. The ant exhibit is one of the craziest, coolest, and most effective animal displays I’ve ever experienced. It’s up there with how the Prague Zoo just lets bats fly freely all over your head. The video doesn’t show the best part which is that the ants have an overhead branch that takes them throughout the whole exhibit, and you can just follow the busy little guys the whole way. You will definitely feel itchy while in the Bug-arium. It’s not an extensive place, but there is plenty to make you squirm and squeal. I doubt that many people go to the unassuming bathroom at the back of the Bug-arium, but let me give you the tip that if you do go to that bathroom, and wash your hands afterward because you aren’t gross, then you will get a fairly unwelcome (but kind of ingenious) surprise. I won’t ruin it for you, but just know that I left the bathroom going, “NOPE, that is UNNECESSARY!” But then I also took Rolo back in to show her what happens.

We highly recommend the botanical garden. There’s plenty of shade even for a hot ABQ day, but we happened to be fighting a cool drizzle most of our day.

The next cool thing we did with Rosalind in mind was take her to the single unlikeliest event I could think of happening during an Albuquerque June. An outdoor Ice Cream Festival. It actually serves as a fundraiser, and while there was a foam party (as evidenced below), and a few bouncy houses, the real draw is the fact that you can eat up to 21 different Blue Bell Ice Cream flavors. We didn’t really know how it functioned and bought ten tokens and an additional ten samples. It turns out that what we bought was TEN FULL ICE CREAM CONES on top of ten samples. We had to give most of our tokens away at the end. It was super fun before it was kind of nauseating and hot. I will definitely go back next year, but I will be smart and take more sunscreen, a hat, and probably even a parasol. We will also be smarter about how we purchase our tokens and tickets, but since it was a fundraiser, there is really no harm in realizing that anything more than 1 1/2 ice cream cones per person is way more than enough.

You can check out video of Rosalind throwing herself 100% into the foam party below.

She learned quickly that foam parties are far better in theory than in practice, and I think we might have headed off her need to try out a boozy foam party in the future. Good.

 

Postlet

I started a real post the other day, but I haven’t been able to get Sergio’s computer back home since then. I’m still stubbornly refusing to post real updates from my phone, so here we are again with a non-entry.

I amend my former statement about Albuquerque heat. There is a point of “too hot to enjoy outside” here as well. This last week has taught me that anything between 98 and 102 degrees starts to feel like you are baking in a dry oven. I still stand by the fact that if you can find shade, a breeze, or be outside before 8 am or after 6 pm, it’s not just manageable but actually really nice.

We’ve eaten outside WITH SERGIO more than once! And he enjoyed himself!

Anyway, Rolo has been in a morning art camp at the Albuquerque museum all this week. I have spent most of my time dropping people off and picking them up again throughout the day. She has very much enjoyed her time in this camp. She has pulled me out of my comfort zone by making instant friends and requiring me to engage with their parents and make play date plans. Dear Future Rosalind, when you one day question my love for you because I’ve done something awful like ask you to clean your bathroom, always remember that I talked to other humans just for you and against my will. Love, Your Introvert Mom