Parents, please vaccinate your children!

When I learned that only slightly more than 80% of the children who attend the same school as two of my grandsons have been vaccinated, I was more than a little concerned! They live in Vancouver where there has been an outbreak of measles this month. Nine cases have been confirmed. The number grew from four to nine in less than 24 hours! At the centre of the outbreak is a family whose three children were not vaccinated due to concerns that the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine might cause autism, a belief that has been scientifically debunked.

It may not be a popular opinion, but I don’t think that children should be allowed to attend public schools or any other kids’ programming if they haven’t been vaccinated (unless there’s a valid documented health reason why they shouldn’t be). Vaccines don’t just protect the people getting vaccinated; they protect everyone around them. The more people in a community who are vaccinated, the harder it is for a disease to spread. Having grown up with a dearly loved brother who was severely brain damaged by measles related encephalitis as an infant, I feel very strongly about this!

Some years ago, popular children’s author, Roald Dahl, who lost a daughter to measles encephalitis at the age of seven, had this to say:

Olivia, my eldest daughter, caught measles when she was seven years old. As the illness took its usual course I can remember reading to her often in bed and not feeling particularly alarmed about it. Then one morning, when she was well on the road to recovery, I was sitting on her bed showing her how to fashion little animals out of coloured pipe cleaners, and when it came to her turn to make one herself, I noticed that her fingers and her mind were not working together and she couldn’t do anything. 

“Are you feeling all right?” I asked her.

I feel all sleepy,” she said. 

In an hour, she was unconscious. In twelve hours she was dead.

The measles had turned into a terrible thing called measles encephalitis and there was nothing the doctors could do to save her. That was in 1962, but even now, if a child with measles happens to develop the same deadly reaction from measles as Olivia did, there would still be nothing the doctors could do to help her. 

On the other hand, there is today something that parents can do to make sure that this sort of tragedy does not happen to a child of theirs. They can insist that their child is immunized against measles. I was unable to do that for Olivia in 1962 because in those days a reliable measles vaccine had not been discovered. Today a good and safe vaccine is available to every family and all you have to do is ask your doctor to administer it. 

I couldn’t agree more! In my opinion, people who refuse to have their children vaccinated are putting their lives at risk. Roald Dahl went on to say:

So what about the risks that your children will run from being immunized? They are almost non-existent. In a district of around 300 000 people, there will be only one child every 250 years who will develop serious side effects from measles immunization! That is about a million to one chance. I would think there would be more chance of your child choking to death on a chocolate bar than of becoming seriously ill from a measles immunization. 

I can only assume that parents who have been blessed with perfectly healthy children and refuse to safeguard their health by immunizing them are completely oblivious to the risk they are running. As a parent who has lost a child and a grandparent who has watched a beloved grandchild fight for life; as a sister whose brother never had the opportunity to realize his potential and a daughter who saw her parents’ grief over that, that makes me livid!

Vaccines save lives! It’s as simple as that. There are no treatments or cures for diseases like measles, mumps and polio. The only proven way to protect your child is with vaccines. Parents, please just vaccinate your children!

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Jeggings and pearls

LogoJeans + Leggings = Jeggings

Early on one of our recent walks around the central core of Coatepec, Mexico a pair of jeggings on a mannequin standing outside one of the many tiny clothing shops caught my eye. These were jeggings with a twist. Not only were they leggings designed to look like tight jeans, but they were studded with imitation pearls. I looked but kept on walking. Later, as we circled around and headed back toward our friends’ house where we were staying, we passed the shop again and this time I couldn’t resist taking a closer look.

Entering the store, I looked around but didn’t see more of the jeggings anywhere. Approaching the clerk, I asked “Hablas Ingles?” (Do you speak English?) and as usual, the response was “No”. Beckoning for her to follow me out front, I pointed to the jeggings. “Grande o pequeño?” I asked. (Large or small?) Though I tend to wear a size medium in most things, that word wasn’t part of my extremely limited Spanish vocabulary yet! “Uno talla,” was the response. (One size) I recognized the word “uno” and that was enough to tell me that this was a one size fits all garment. The clerk took them off the mannequin and I held them up to myself to ensure that they were long enough. They were and my mind was made up. They were coming home with me! It didn’t hurt that the price was only 100 pesos; less than $7 CAD!

With their cozy fleece lining, these jeggings are surprisingly warm. In fact, since returning to Canada, I wore them outside at -27ºC (-17ºF) and didn’t freeze! Granted, I only walked half a block from the grocery store to the post office and back again, but they were plenty adequate for that. It may seem surprising that I was able to buy something this warm in Mexico, but Coatepec is in the highlands where it can get a bit chilly at this time of year. Since their homes aren’t insulated and don’t have central heating the people tend to dress quite warmly.

I strongly believe that leggings are not pants and that they should be worn with tops that are long enough to cover the buttocks and crotch. I’m undecided where these new jeggings are concerned though. Clearly, the pearl studded imitation pockets on the front and the details on the back are meant to be seen.

 

Screen Shot 2019-02-11 at 6.02.45 PMPearl embellished clothing has been very much on trend for the past year or so. I’ve seen sweaters, dresses, jeans, and even shoes adorned with imitation pearls. One of my favourite fashion bloggers, Josephine of Chic At Any Age, wore this cute pearl studded beret in one of her recent posts.

Adding faux pearls to a garment that you already own would also be a simple DIY project. I’d thought of doing that to a pair of jeans, but now that I have my pearl studded jeggings, I won’t need to!

Historic Mexico City

On Wednesday morning we took a taxi into Xalapa and then a bus back to Mexico City. Arriving at our hotel in the historic centre of the city a few minutes after 3 o’clock, we checked in, dropped our baggage in our room, and headed out to explore our surroundings. We had about four hours before dark to see as much as we possibly could!

About six blocks north of our hotel, we came across the expansive Plaza de la Constitución. There was a protest of some sort happening just off the south side of the square, but it was the amazing Metropolitan Cathedral (or to give its full name, the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Assumption of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven) on the north side of the plaza that completely captured our attention.

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Latin America’s largest and oldest cathedral, the imposing structure is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Mexico and one of the country’s most treasured architectural masterpieces. Built on the site of Templo Mayor, an ancient temple in what was the centre of the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan, it includes much of the stone from that original structure. Construction of the cathedral, which incorporates several different architectural styles, spanned three centuries from 1573 to 1813! The bell towers house a total of 25 bells, the largest one weighing 13 000 kilograms!

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After a quick peek inside the Cathedral, we moved on. The Palacio Nacional, home to the offices of the president of Mexico as well as the federal treasury, is located on the east side of the Plaza de la Constitución. The palace’s main courtyard is surrounded by a three level arcade and has at its centre an enormous fountain topped by an elegant bronze statue of Pegasus, the winged stallion of Greek mythology.

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It was the Diego Rivera murals, painted between 1929 and 1951 and depicting the history of Mexico from the Aztec era to the early 20th century that drew us to the Palacio Nacional. The enormous staircase murals, located between the first and second floors, are sometimes compared to an epic poem including the legendary pre-Hispanic past, the Spanish conquest, and the more recent past. Tucked into the mural over the left staircase is an portrait of Rivera’s wife and fellow artist, Frida Kahlo (wearing a green dress and a star necklace).

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Nine more murals chronicling indigenous life before the Spanish conquest of Mexico cover the north and east walls of the second level. This series of panels was intended to go all the way around the second storey, but the project was incomplete when Rivera died in 1957.

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After leaving the Palacio Nacional, we wandered the nearby streets enjoying the sights and sounds of this small part of one of the world’s largest cities.

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To the north and east of the central plaza, we discovered the remains of a portion of the Templo Mayor that was excavated between 1978 and 1982.

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Continuing our walk, we eventually came across a long pedestrian street lined with shops and restaurants that included a number of American chains such as Old Navy, Starbucks, H&M, and Forever 21. Though it was a midweek day at suppertime, the street was full of people. Photos hardly do it justice as without sound they fail to fully capture the festive atmosphere. On one block a young boy played an accordion, on another a trio of men in traditional costume played lively music on stringed instruments, on yet another a boy played guitar and sang. In each case, of course, they had a hat or container out to catch the coins of passersby.

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We stopped for a quick bite to eat in a tiny Mexican restaurant and dessert from Santa Clara, a Mexican ice cream shop chain. Then as the sun slipped below the tall buildings surrounding us, we headed back toward our hotel. We had to be up very early the following morning to catch our flight home.

And that’s a wrap folks! After a fantastic visit with our friends in Mexico, we’re back home on the frozen Canadian prairie revelling in the memories of another wonderful trip completed.

Colour trends for Spring 2019

LogoRegardless of whether or not the groundhog sees his shadow on February 2nd, when the calendar turns to February, I begin to think about spring. There’s probably plenty of winter left where I live, but as I revelled in the vibrant colours of Coatepec, Mexico over the past couple of weeks, my mind went to the colours that are going to be popular in spring and summer fashions this year.

If you bought into the yellow trend in 2018, you’ll be pleased to know that it’s still very much on the fashion agenda for this year. It showed up on the runways in many shades from the palest pastel to bright lemony and deep yellows.

Pastels in other hues including soft pinks, lilac, light green, and pale blue were also seen.

Intense, saturated colours including bright orange, coral, magenta, bright reds, mango,  neon green, and royal blue dominated the runways though. If yellow isn’t your colour, you may want to add some of these to your spring and summer wardrobe.

While one of my fashion goals for 2019 is to steer away from the greys that have dominated my wardrobe in recent times and bring in some more colour, I’m in love with this season’s neutrals. Amongst them are buttery off-whites, creamy tans, and beiges.

Brown continues to make a comeback in beautiful toffee hues as well as darker shades.

Two of my favourites neutrals of the season are moss green and a very dark navy that’s being called Eclipse.

As always, before you go out and buy a new wardrobe filled with this season’s colours, shop your own closet. What do you already have that will carry over from previous years? Also, be careful to choose the shades that look best with your natural colouring.

Churches of Coatepec

Everywhere we go in Coatepec and the surrounding area, the colour and architecture of the churches practically insist that I stop to take photos! Over 90% of the population of the area adheres to the Roman Catholic faith, so Catholic churches are everywhere.

In the nearby city of Xalapa, the Catedral Metropolitana de la Immaculada Concepción, or the Xalapa Cathedral as it is more commonly called, is one of the oldest buildings in the city.

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Every small town has churches that are equally spectacular. Santa Maria Magdalena is the patron saint of Xico and the church that bears her name is absolutely stunning.

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A little further away, this beautiful church overlooks the central square in the smaller town of Teocelo.

Here in Coatepec, the stately church of San Jéronimo is located in the central core across the street from the Parque de Miguel Hidalgo which is always a happening place.

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I don’t know the names of the other churches that I’ve stopped to photograph, but there are many!

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We specifically walked up a steep hill to take a closer look at this one this morning.

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But this is my favourite of all the ones we’ve seen in Coatepec. Not only is the architecture exquisite, but I love the Calvary motif high above the entrance.

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By contrast, less than 10% of the population is evangelical Christian and they meet in much more modest buildings. The Pescadores de Hombres Compañerismo Christiano (Fishers of Men Christian Fellowship) congregation meets in this building a few blocks away from where we’ve been staying.

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A church on Sunday morning and Wednesday evening, it’s a cochina economica (cheap kitchen) the rest of the week where you can buy tacos for 10 pesos (69 cents CAD) apiece.

 

Who’s your style icon?

LogoIs there someone whose style you admire or whose outfits you love? She could be a movie star, a character in your favourite show, a colleague, a next door neighbour, or even your sister or your mother. What is it about her style that resonates with you?

I get a lot of inspiration from the fashion blogs that I follow. I’ve provided links to several of my favourites here and here. Some of them have a similar personal style to my own.

Last Friday I wrote about how to use Pinterest to help you find your own personal style. As I added images to my style board, I noticed that photos of Kate Middleton kept cropping up. That’s when I realized that, in spite of the fact that she’s young enough to be my daughter and we don’t look anything alike, we have a similar personal style. She wears the same classy casual look that I admire and strive for. If you can identify someone whose style is similar to yours, you can use them as inspiration for outfits of your own. Again, shop your closet. Don’t try to copy your muse exactly. Instead, take ideas from her look and see if you can make them work for you.

Here’s an example of how I tried to emulate one of Kate Middleton’s looks using items from my own closet. The jacket is new and I hadn’t worn it this way before. Without Kate’s inspiration, I might never have thought to.

She looks like she’s saying, “Hey, look at you! I like your style!”

Hiking in January!

The last time we came to Mexico, we took a taxi about 9 km from Coatepec to the smaller town of Xico where we enjoyed a lovely lunch. Today, we went a little further past Xico and down a very rough cobbled stone road to go hiking. Hiking, in January! What a treat!

The last time our friends went hiking in the area, they were able to take a trail down to the bottom of Cascado de Texolo, but today that trail appeared to be closed. Instead, we crossed a suspension bridge and took a trail that climbed to a ridge high above the valley.

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Cascada de Texolo

In many ways, the hike reminded me of hikes we’ve done at the BC coast and in the Rocky Mountains except that the plant life was entirely different. Instead of forest, we were hiking through jungle.

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As we climbed higher, we could see a building perched on the edge of the ridge above us. Could it be a restaurant? If it was, we decided, we’d have lunch there.

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Sure enough, it was and we did! The food was delicious and the view was amazing.

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I had to pinch myself and remind myself that it really is January as I enjoyed the brilliant flowers along the trail.