Letter to Camille: January 2018

Hello my sweet girl! It has been almost two months since I last sat down to pen (type?) a letter to you – my longest stretch thus far. But not for lack of material: we’ve been to Mexico, celebrated Christmas, been to Disney, and even played in the snow in Savannah (?!). You made your school’s Quiz Bowl team and moved up to a higher level in your Youth Orchestra. You’ve grown and grown some more.

And as you grow, I keep asking myself if I should continue these letters in this forum. You’ll always be my baby, but you’re also growing into a young lady. So far you’ve given me your blessing to write about you here, but in a blink you’ll be a teenager and likely won’t want your mom recounting every milestone on her mom blog. How embarrassing.

You’ve read many of the letters from when you were younger, but not the recent ones. I don’t hide them from you but don’t specifically show them to you either – I feel they’ll mean more when you can reflect back on them later, with hindsight. But how strange is it that others are reading my letters to you, and you’re not? Not yet?

So why do it? Selfishly, I love looking back at the letters and remembering little details about your childhood that I’d otherwise surely have forgotten. I was never into scrapbooking or even making photo albums, but with these letters I feel I can capture little slices of this precious time and bottle them up to enjoy again later.

And of course, I picture you with these letters one day. Reading them when you’re a young adult, reminiscing about your younger years. Reading them as a parent, perhaps. Reading them whenever you miss me. Reading them and feeling how much you are loved.

For now, I plan to keep writing, though maybe not every month. And at some point, if it feels like I should stop publishing these, then I can always write to you privately. Like so much of this parenting stuff, we’ll learn as we go, and adjust.

Now, on to the fun stuff. Back in November, we finally put fresh stamps in our brand new passports on a Thanksgiving trip to Mexico. Our first stop was San Miguel de Allende, to visit the Rogers family. We became friends when we all lived in the same town in Costa Rica. From Costa Rica they moved to Mexico, and we’d been itching to visit them there.

The town was so beautiful, with gorgeous colonial structures painted in vibrant colors lining the cobblestone streets. An impressive cathedral towered over the town center where vendors set up markets. While the grown ups did some shopping, you and your buddies Mason and Ellis chased pigeons through the streets, happy as could be.

It was like no time had passed between our families. We ate together, strolled the town together, and even got to watch Ellis play a soccer game. As we bounced around the old streets in their car, the three of you kids were thrilled to ride in the hatchback – something we’d never allow in the US. Your legs dangled over the back seat while you squealed and laughed as you were jostled around. I loved watching you be so carefree.

On Thanksgiving Day we said goodbye to the Rogers and headed for some family time on the coast in Playa Chacala. When we booked our vacation, we were looking for a small, quiet beach town with an authentic Mexican feel.

We scored high on “small” and “authentic,” but maybe not so much on “quiet.” Chacala is a tiny town spanning about 9 blocks along a beautiful bay on the Pacific coast. While we were there we only saw a handful of other foreigners, but that doesn’t mean the place was empty. By mid-afternoon the beach was full of locals, splashing in the waves, playing beach soccer games, enjoying roving Mariachi bands. Our home was right on the ocean with AMAZING views, and we enjoyed soaking up the town’s vibe.

We were at the beach 5 nights, but for you I think that was about 3 nights too many. After the blissful reunion with your friends in San Miguel, it didn’t take long for you to be bored in Chacala with just me and Dad for company. We swam in the ocean. You read books, and even started writing a book of your own. You drew and you colored. And then it was only noon on day 2…

We decided an outing was needed, and I’d read that the area was close to an old ancient Aztec site full of petroglyphs, or rock carvings. So we hired a guide to show us the way.

And it’s a good thing we did – guides aren’t required, but we’d never have found it on our own. We drove slowly along a tiny dirt road leading away from the coast and toward the Sierra Madre mountains, until the road turned into a path and then became undriveable. From there, we slapped on the mosquito spray, grabbed our water bottles and hiked the rest of the way in.

We saw many different types of petroglyphs, from carvings that served as maps, to calendars, and even a creepy sacrificial stone. The most beautiful spot was the King’s pool, where the Aztecs placed rocks to create a tranquil pool for ritual cleansing.

The whole beach portion of our trip, you bemoaned the fact you were missing four days of school. I’d already talked with your teachers and had no concerns myself, but you hated the thought of missing some hypothetical key assignment.

But as I watched you hopping along the stones around the King’s pool, or observed you and the guide discussing native plants, all I could think was what a fabulous field trip this was. Travel is a marvelous educator, and I was fairly certain your teachers would agree.

Then it was time to return home, to the US, to school, to work, and to the promise of Christmas. We had a wonderful holiday, capped off by a trip with the Gaddy family to Disney for New Year’s Eve, as is our tradition.

We came back from Disney in time for a shocking snowfall – it had been about 30 years since the last measurable snowfall occurred in Savannah. The day started off rainy as we watched the skies, willing the drops to turn into flurries. Just after lunch the snowfall began, and we pulled on coats and gloves and skipped around the neighborhood, giddy with delight. You and your Dad had snowball fights, and then set up a snowy Star Wars scene on the back deck. We tried (and failed) to sled down one of the golf course hills. You made a snow angel.

The snow stuck around long enough that school was cancelled for three days. THREE SNOW DAYS! It. Was. Glorious.

I love all the pictures we took, though even without them I can’t imagine we’d soon forget our Savannah snow.

From a hot beach in Mexico, to snow on our southern palm trees, it has been a good few months. I’m thankful for all of it, and especially for you. I love you, sweet girl.

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