Can you believe we are looking at 2010 !! For some reason this seems even more
astounding to me than all the hulabalu about the millenium, Y2K  Year 2000
(This just happens to be the only recent picture of me)

tommy and me Maybe it's because I offered my first workshop with photographer Doug Beasley back in 1995, which means that I'm looking at 15 years of our schizophrenic lifestyle and enjoying all of you who have trusted me to provide a meaningful cultural experience along with some art instruction in a pretty interesting, altho dicey, country.  Just last month we wrapped up another 'Spirit of Place' class with Doug celebrating Todos Santos (All Saints Day) with all that fabulous kite flying in the cemetaries. Honestly, some things just haven't changed all that much !!

So it seems appropriate to look back and take stock.  Just yesterday I came across the 1997 schedule. I offered 31 classes over that winter (January 10 thru April 13!!)  including things like "The Art of Fencing' and 'Improv / Instant Theatre' and 'Cartooning/Humorous Illustration'.  Eight of them ran with a total of 27 people joining us. That means an average of less than 4 people in each class.  Wow !!  What I'd give for the energy I had back then !! 

Now I'm more likely to offer one class per session that, through experience, I know will successfully run.  Over the years I dropped theatre, writing and some other classes I thought sounded really fun (but nobody signed up for) and now stick to photography, textiles and some of the visual arts.  To keep ret
urning folks interested,
I expanded areas we travel to within Guatemala ie Xela and Nebaj areas.  This year w
dona filo cookinge ran our fourth itinerary with Karen Searle's Weaving Tour to Nebaj and the Ixil Triangle.  Now we're working on Coban!!

I also hope to travel to new destinations.  Not only more interesting for you, but also for me !!  Boy, do I have the travel bug.  I've had Cuba out there, with great response.  However, it has proved to be more difficult to travel there legally than I had thought it would be.  Visas for educational purposes are only granted to accredited institutions - like colleges and universities. 
Of course we could travel via Mexico, and that's an option, but it's expensive. Also hope to put together a photo workshop to Ecuador with Caroline Bennett - one of my other fabulous helpers now living there.

Speaking of fabulous helpers, Ceci, my helper for past three years, is due with her first child (a boy) soon - early January.  I'm hoping she'll still be able to help out - but of course she'll have to see how motherhood and working go together.  And here's Dona Filo with some of our summer Art for Educators making tortillas in her home.  She's been with me 12 years !!!

joey weavingFor our family news - the kids are doing well. They still have their challenges, but I feel like I've figured out what is helpful for them, and we are moving forward. Lots of exercises and movements (OT, brain gym, swim team etc ) to get that brain snapping.  Needless to say, I'm right in there with them !!

Our biggest transition in 2009 was Jessenia starting high school.  We were both nervous - it was a big change from her small K-8 grade school to the biggest high school in Minneapolis (2000 students and alma mater to Josh Hartnet). Thankfully, SHE LOVES IT !! and is happier than she's been in years.  South High has a great reputation for being so diverse that there is something and someone for everyone.  It has very positive energy and the focus is on helping students succeed - the teachers are really encouraging and allow for individual differences, so that is great for us.  Joey's niche is theatre and she worked on costumes for the recent school play and is in a weekly Fashion Club. Here she finally finished her weaving with Lidia and showed it off at the July despedia.

Tommy is still my ever active sports boy.  I do love being a hockey mom - soccer mom - whatever the current sport is.  I thoroughly enjoy watching the games, hanging out with the other parents.  He's happy, a hard tommy fredyworker (loves his job as breakfast waiter when we are in Guatemala) funny and totally keeps Joey and me entertained.  He just informed me that the reason hockey players wear mouth guards is to keep them from swearing (this was while  telling me about getting hit by the puck and he wanted to swear but didn't because ......)  Here he is with Fredy, one of our helpers who is also a teacher, so he tutors Tommy and they take motorcycle rides for breaks !!

As for me, I still love living in two countries - and introducing and welcoming folks to Guatemala. But there are so many other things I want to do, too !!!  I've a number of books in my head.  I'm good at delving into things I am clueless about and figuring out solutions (did this both with photography and this business) and I'd love to figure out better ways to educate kids, particularly those with academic struggles. However, this is no time to be making career changes and I am hugely grateful that I have a business that give me the flexibility and enormous amount of time it takes to single parent two highly active kids. 
wells nebaj church

I always read all my previous annual letters and it's fun to see the changes (mostly in news about my kids) and notice patterns and similarities.  One thing I've mentioned each year is how much I enjoy the sense of community I feel with all you (especially you returnees) and the folks in Guatemala who are an integral part of our program.  Here's Lidia and Sindy (with her school sweater, some of you are helping her w school costs - she's doing really well !!)  She is now a young woman of almost 20, studying tourism at INSOL, but was just a little girl when we started working together.  Jacqueline would like to attend the same school - so if there are any more of you willing to help out, let me know !!


So, once again, there's our update.  We send our best regards and warm thoughts to all of you who have joined us, and become friends, over these past 15 years.  I hope you are doing well, and, in all you do 'que le vaya bien'.  Thanks for being the wonderful, caring people that you are and we'd love to see you again in Guatemala !!

Abracos grande de Liza, Jessenia and my ever active, and increasingly funny, Tommy boy