5 Rituals for a Happy New Year

If I've said it once, I've said it more than a dozen times...Mexico is rich in tradition!  And New Year's Eve isn't the exception.  In Mexico, people believe that the way you start the New Year dictates how your life will be during the entire year. The following are just a few of the most popular traditions/rituals that are supposed to guarantee a Happy New Year.

Red Underwear:  Are you hoping to improve your love life in 2010?  If so, then you MUST wear a pair of red undies on New Year's Eve.  They must be new and they must be a gift you received from someone.  If you buy your own red underwear, you will be unlucky in love all year long.  If you're not looking for love, but looking for health or wealth, the same rules apply, wear yellow undies for wealth and green undies for health.

12 Grapes:  At the stroke of midnight you must eat one grape per stroke. (12 strokes equals 12 grapes.)  With each grape that you eat, you must make a wish.  If you are successful in eating your 12 grapes and making your 12 wishes, your wishes will be granted throughout the New Year.

Pack a suitcase: If you're looking to travel in 2010, then pack a suitcase.  Fill your suitcase with the clothes that represent where you would like to travel.  Want to go to the beach?  Pack a few bikinis! At the stroke of midnight, take your packed suitcase outside your front door and leave it there until the last stroke of midnight. 

Sweep your house: At the stroke of midnight, grab your broom and sweep from the inside of your home, out the front door.  By sweeping everything out the door, it is believed that you are sweeping away all of the bad to make room for all that is new and good. 

Money in your wallet/purse: It is believed that if you start the New Year with money in your wallet or purse, you will be financially secure throughout the year.  So stop by the ATM on your way to your New Year's Eve party and fill your wallet with a few bills!

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year!  

With love and lots of hugs,
Leslie Limon

Who on Earth is Carmen Miranda?

When I was younger, my grandmother owned a large console that housed a record player.  (For those of you born after 1975, I suggest you Google it!) 

Gramm had quite a collection of records.  Everything from Nat King Cole to Burl Ives, with a few Lawrence Welk records sprinkled throughout.  (I swear I'm only 35 years old!)  One of my favorite records included a song that I loved to sing and dance to..."Mamá Yo Quiero" by Carmen Miranda

I would sing that song for days!  And I was pretty good.  My impersonation of Carmen Miranda was up to par with Lucille Ball(I never missed a rerun of  "I Love Lucy".)  My love of that song followed me to High School.  I could always get a laugh from my friends by singing that song.

But after marriage and kiddies, Carmen Miranda and her song, almost disappeared from my memory.

Until this morning.

In need of inspiration for their Christmas wishlists, Hubby and I took the kiddies window shopping to every toy store in town. 

We saw bicycles, stuffed animals, trainsets, miniature baby strollers, boardgames, and baby dolls that laugh, cry, sneeze and/or poop.

While my kiddies ran from toy to toy, screaming "Mamá, yo quiero", which is Spanish for "Mom, I want", I noticed that all of the children in the toy store were screaming the same thing..."Mamá, yo quiero!"

With so many chants of  "Mamá, yo quiero", I was reminded of my favorite childhood song, that I have been happily singing all day.

Who knew that Christmas shopping could be so fun!

With Love,
Leslie Limon

*Let's see if I can learn something new today.  I'm going to try to post a video from YouTube.  I hope it works!

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The Truth About the Tooth Fairy

One thing Hubby and I agreed on before having children was that we wanted them to embrace both their Mexican and American cultures. 

With holidays, we celebrate both cultures beliefs. We celebrate Halloween and Dia de Muertos.  For Christmas they receive gifts from both Santa Claus and El Niño Dios (The Baby Jesus). 

But in some instances, we've had to choose one or the other.  Such is the case with The Tooth Fairy.

As a child, I believed that whenever I lost a tooth, a beautiful and magical fairy flew into my bedroom at night. The lovely Tooth Fairy would gently remove my tooth from under my pillow and leave a crisp dollar bill in it's place. 

When Hubby was a child, he too, would leave his tooth under the pillow, but not for some strange, winged creature to take.  Hubby left his tooth for a mouse.  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, The Tooth Fairy in Mexico is a MOUSE!  He is referred to as El Raton de los dientes (The Tooth Mouse).  In some Latin American countries, El Raton de los dientes is also known as El Raton Perez (There's even a cute little movie about him.)

Hubby and I never discussed which of the two would visit our children.  

Since we were already living in Mexico when our children began losing their dientes de leche (baby teeth), it seemed that the obvious choice was El Raton de los dientes.  And we were all content with that idea...until today.

Ashley, my 7 year old, lost her first baby tooth today.  We rinsed off her tooth and placed it in a cute little box that my dentist brother-in-law gave her.  Then we asked her if she was excited about El Raton de los dientes coming to visit tonight.  She looked at us for a second, then explained that El Raton visits boys and El Hada de los dientes (The Tooth Fairy) visits little girls.  

Well, duh!!! Now why didn't I think of that? 

With Love,
Leslie Limon

My Kind of Marathon

The holiday season in Mexico has officially begun! 

December 12th is one of the most important religious holidays in Mexico.  Today, we honored La Virgen de Guadalupe (Our Lady of Guadalupe).

Before I went to bed last night, which wasn't until after midnight, I could hear "Las Mañanitas" being sung to La Virgen at church.   I stood at my bedroom window, listening to the midnight serenade offered to her, followed by a spectacular fireworks display.  As always, I am in awe of the faith and love that the Mexican people have for her.  (Tradition is a beautiful thing!)

But the celebration of La Virgen de Guadalupe is only part of the holiday season. Today also marks the beginning of the Guadalupe-Reyes Marathon. 

The Guadalupe-Reyes Marathon refers to the various holidays celebrated from December 12th to January 6th.  The name Guadalupe-Reyes, stems from the starting celebration of La Virgen de Guadalupe and the final celebration of Los Reyes Magos (The Three Magi). 

During this period, we will also be celebrating Las Posadas, Nochebuena (Christmas Eve), Navidad (Christmas), Los Santos Inocentes (Mexican version of April Fool's Day) and Año Nuevo (New Year's).

See what I mean?  It's a marathon of fiestas! 

While many consider Guadalupe-Reyes a time to indulge in non-stop drinking, I think of it as a wonderful time to celebrate with my family. 

Happy Holidays to all!

With Love,
Leslie Limon
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Celebrating a Miracle

Being an only child, I always dreamed of having a big family.  When Hubby and I started dating, we knew from the get-go that we wanted to have at least 4 kiddies.  Although, 5 or 6 sounded much better to me.

Almost immediately after getting married, Hubby and I were expecting our first child.  We couldn't have been happier.  We told our families and friends, and anyone who would listen.  We picked out baby names, oohed and aahed whenever we saw baby clothes, and visited the OB/GYN.  We were ecstatic waiting for our first child to be born.

But our happiness was short lived.  I suffered a miscarriage in my 12th week.  I was heartbroken.  I tried to find comfort in the kind words offered to me by the hospital staff, but hearing "Many first pregnancies end in miscarriage," didn't help much.  Hubby was right there with me, suffering, holding my hand, trying to cheer me up.

The only thing that got me through that ordeal was the thought of trying again.  Every month, I hoped and prayed that it would be my "lucky" month.  And every month, I was disappointed.  Finally, 9 months later, I was once again "with child". 

After our previous experience, we took things much calmer.  We didn't shout the news from the rooftop; we kept it as our little secret.  Hubby developed the constant habit of asking me how I was feeling.  To be honest, I was feeling really good.  The thought of a teeny, tiny being forming inside of me was the greatest feeling in the world.

All was running smoothly until tragedy struck...again!  (Also during my 12th week of pregnancy.)  Why was this happening to me?  Did I do something wrong?  Was I being punished for something?  I'm a good person, but why can't I have a baby?  A million questions like these ran through my head.  But the worst blow was yet to come.  Before being released from the hospital, my OB/GYN sat with me and said, "You need to get used to the idea of being infertile.  If you are ever able to conceive, you'll never carry it to term."  

At the very moment, I felt as if my heart had dropped to my feet, that the Earth had stopped turning and that I had crashed into a brick wall.  What?  I heard the words the doctor spoke, but I couldn't understand.  Again, the questions started running through my mind...Why?

I went home, in a daze of depression, and cried for what must have been weeks.  Nothing anyone said to me helped.  Somehow, life slowly returned to some sense of normalcy. 

Of course, there were days that the emotional pain was unbearable.  Days when neighbors or people at church would ask if we were ever going to start a family or when we'd learn that a friend or relative was expecting a baby. 

I experienced one such day in January 1997.  Someone close to me had mentioned that she was pregnant with her second child.  While I was so very happy for my friend, I was emotionally distraught.  Not knowing what to do to calm down, I ran a hot bath and just sat there for hours. Being a woman of faith, I took that time to talk with God.   I poured out my heart and soul.  I cried, I prayed, I pleaded, I begged, and cried some more.  I ended that prayer with one simple request...Please God, let me have just one child.

After that day, I felt as if a huge burden had been lifted from my shoulders.  I was laughing, joking, I was my old self again.  And best of all, I had finally come to peace with my doctor's diagnosis.  Hubby and everyone around us, noticed the difference.  I was happy!

Toward the end of March, I came down with a terrible stomach flu.  I went to see my family doctor and told him how I was feeling.  After examining me, he asked if I thought I was pregnant.  I literally laughed out loud, and explained that I couldn't get pregnant.  He decided to run some blood tests anyway and would call me with the results.

April 1st, 1997, the phone rang early in the morning.  It was my family doctor with my test results, "You're pregnant!"   I accused the doctor of being mean.  Really!  He had been my doctor since I was 13 years old, but I didn't think it appropriate for him to play an April's Fools joke on me.  But he wasn't joking!  I was pregnant. 

How in the heck did that happen? Okay, I know how it happened, but how was it possible?  My doctor recommended an OB/GYN.  He called her personally and asked that she see me immediately.

My new OB/GYN was wonderful.  My doctor had explained my situation to her.  She examined me, ran tests and said "We're going to bring this baby to term!  And after that, you can have all the babies you want!"  She ordered complete bed rest for 4 months and tons of vitamins.  I was excited, yet apprehensive, which was understandable.  To say that the weeks leading up to my 3rd month were angst ridden is an understatement. The dreaded 12th week passed without any problems, as did the remainder of my pregnancy.

On December 10, 1997, I gave birth to the most precious little girl, Hope Nicole Limon...my lil' miracle!  I look at her now, and am still so thankful to have been blessed with such a beautiful child. Yesterday, we celebrated her 12th birthday and the miracle that she is!

A Handmade Christmas

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...especially at my house!  I realize that there isn't a holiday that I don't like, but I truly love Christmas: the music, the decorations, peace on earth and good will towards men.

We always wait until the day after Revolution Day to decorate, even though I have been singing Christmas carols since Dia de Muertos.

This year, Hope and Nick put up the tree, with a little help from Ashley and Jack.  (I helped a little too, with the lights.) 

I believe that Christmas memories are made, not bought.  So of course, most of my decorations are handmade.  Here, the felt stockings are hung by the felt chimney with care.

My Santa Claus wreath greets visiting friends and family.

Not wanting Santa to feel alone, we also have his wife Mrs. Claus.  Thanks to this episode of El Chavo del 8, my children refer to Mrs. Claus as Mary...Mary Christmas! 

Even the ornaments on our tree are handmade.  (So is the tree skirt in the first pic.)

These paintings are the oldest of our Christmas crafts.  I drew the scenes on scraps of wood from Hubby's shop and the kiddies did the painting. 

My favorite of all is the true meaning of Christmas.  May we all be mindful that Jesus is the reason for the season!

With Love,
Leslie Limon


Giving Thanks

"Thanksgiving Day comes, by statute, once a year; to the honest man it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow." ~Edward Sandford Martin

Earlier this month on Facebook, I started writing about the things that I was thankful for each day.  In honor of Thanksgiving, I would like to share them with you.

I am thankful for my husband.  He is my best friend.  A loving husband and a wonderful father and provider.  His playful sense of humor brightens each day.

I am thankful for my children.  I love them so much.  Life with 4 kids is often chaotic, but I couldn't imagine living any other way.  My childrens' smiles, hugs and kisses are all the pay this stay-at-home mom needs.

I am thankful for my in-laws, Hubby's parents and siblings.  Not only did I marry an amazing man, I married into an incredible family.

I am thankful for my friends and family.  My life is richer for knowing them.

I am thankful for the internet.  It has allowed me to stay in touch with the family and friends that I left in the States. 

I am thankful for Facebook, because I have been able to find "lost" family members and re-connect with old friends.   

I am thankful for my health and the health of my family. (Especially this year!)  I have yet to experience any serious problems with  my allergies and asthma. 

I am thankful that we have a roof over our head, clothes on our backs and food on the table.

And I am thankful for my blogs.  I have made many new friends and hope to make many more.

I hope you all had a Happy Thankgiving!

With Love,
Leslie Limon

Let's Talk Turkey

If there is ever a time that I feel a bit homesick for the States, it is during Thanksgiving.  I love Thanksgiving!  It is my favorite holiday of all. 

In the 9 years that I have lived in Mexico, I have celebrated Thanksgiving 4 times.  Not because I don't want to, but because Hubby and I have a niece whose birthday often falls on Thanksgiving.

The few times that I have celebrated Thanksgiving, a very important element has been missing.  Turkey!  Not a frozen turkey in sight!

One year, Hubby drove me and the kiddies an hour away to Tepatitlan, our nearest "city", to hunt for a frozen turkey.  My search was somewhat successful, because I did find a turkey, but it wasn't the kind of turkey I wanted.  It was a smoked turkey.  Forgive me, but I like to add the flavor to my turkey.

Another year, Hubby and I were talking with one of our neighbors about Thanksgiving. (FYI, these neighbors lived in the U.S. for many years and celebrate many of the customs.)  During the course of our conversation, I mentioned my yearning for a turkey.  My neighbor, kindly offered me one of the turkeys from his ranch.  A live turkey!!!  All I had to do was kill it, pluck it and clean it.  No, gracias!  I want a turkey, but not that bad. 

Finally, last year, I got to eat some turkey.  The above-mentioned neighbors invited us to spend Thanksgiving with them at their ranch.  It was one of the best Thanksgivings I've experienced.  And not because of the turkey. 

With Love,
Leslie Limon
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Cañadas de Islas

Our last stop on the church tour was Cañadas de Islas, a large ranch community that belongs to Mexticacan, Jalisco.  The church itself is located high atop a hill that offers a spectacular view of the Mexican countryside.  Cañadas de Islas is a 20 minute drive from Yahualica, but there is an extra 10 minute ride to reach the church. 

At first sight, this church captivates you because it is so different from the more traditional churches around Mexico.  Have you ever seen a circular church?

Believe it or not, this church was built from start to finish, in 2 years.

The inside of the church is simply breathtaking.  My lil' camera doesn't do it justice.

The stained glass windows are made with the images of the Mexican Martyrs, hence the name El Templo de Los Martires.  Underneath their names is an image of the weapon used to kill them. (Click on the pictures for a closer look.)

Amongst the Mexican Martyrs are San Roman Adame, who was killed in Yahualica.  And San Toribio Romo, who baptized my hubby's grandmother.  (She discovered this fact a few years ago.)

If you're ever in Yahualica, be sure to visit El Templo de Los Martires.  Just remember to wear long pants, because "NO SHORTS ALLOWED".

Even the entrance/exit sign catches your eye.

I truly enjoyed our day trip.  It's hard to believe that of all the places we visited, we were never more than 45 minutes away from Yahualica.

With Love,
Leslie Limon

El Molino and San Felipe

Next stop on our church tour was El Molino, another ranch community that also belongs to Nochistlan, Zacatecas.  It was a 10 to 15 minutes drive from where we ate lunch.   

The first thing that caught my eye (and the kids') were the wheel-shaped objects in el jardin (plaza).  My brother-in-law explained that years ago, El Molino was famous for making molinos (millstones). 

The church in El Molino is El Templo de la Virgen del Rosario.  (The Temple of the Virgin of the Rosary.)

 Inside the church.  I liked that there were giant rosaries on the wall in honor of La Virgen del Rosario.

Our visit to El Molino was short and sweet.  And since there is another rancho (ranch community) nearby, we decided our next stop would be San Felipe, which belongs to Mexticacan, Jalisco.

Our visit to San Felipe was even shorter.  The church was closed, as was el jardin.  Surprised us all.

Check back tomorrow for the last stop of our church tour.  You don't want to miss it!

With Love,
Leslie Limon
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Las Huertas

The first stop on yesterday's day trip was Las Huertas, a small ranch community that belongs to Nochistlan, Zacatecas.  Many, many years ago,  Las Huertas was full of orchards of every fruit and nut tree imaginable.  But due to many of the men, and ultimately entire families, migrating to the United States, the orchards disappeared.  There are still many houses and families that reside in Las Huertas.

Las Huertas is a 25 minute drive from Yahualica. 

This is a picture of the wall around the church and the entrance gate.  Upon arrival, we were greeted by a kind gentleman, Secundino Quezada, who acted as our tour guide. Our pleasant experience wouldn't have been the same without him.

The church's name is El Templo del Señor de la Misericordia.  It was one of the first churches built by the Franciscanos over 450 years ago.

I loved the inside of this church.  It wasn't overly ornate and felt so warm and inviting.  Many of the churches that I have seen in Mexico have marble floors, but this floor was made entirely of wood. (Click on all of the pictures for a closer look.)

This shrine/altar to La Virgen de Guadalupe is located outside in the church's courtyard.

The church's courtyard has about 12 orange trees.  The scent of oranges made me feel as if I was still in my hometown of Redlands, California.  A truly wonderful feeling that I can't describe.  (Sigh!)


All of the trees were full of sweet oranges.  So of course my hubby and brother-in-law wanted to pick some oranges.  We were informed that the oranges are sold for a peso each to benefit the church.  Hubby picked 2 large bags and paid 50 pesos.  The kiddies enjoyed catching the oranges and got a kick out of seeing grown men playing in the trees. 

Don Secundino informed us that we could find an ojo de agua a very short distance from the church.  An ojo de agua is like a natural spring of water.  I expected to find a large well of sorts, but all we found was a medium sized hole in the ground full of crystal clear water.  And next to the ojo de agua was what my hubby and brother-in-law called El Periodico (The Newspaper).  This is where all of the women used to gather to do laundry (by hand) and catch up on the lastest gossip news.  Next time we visit, I'm bringing my laundry.  There are enough lavaderos (wash sinks) for everyone to pitch in.

We were all having a good time joking about the lavaderos when we noticed that the entire area was surrounded by these little reddish green plants.  My father-in-law yelled that it was "Caquiste!"   We already had a run in with poison ivy a few years ago so we made our exit post-haste.

Be sure to tune in tomorrow for more on our day trip.

With Love,
Leslie Limon

One Fine Day

This weekend was a 3-day weekend.  This Friday, November 20th is the Anniversary of the Mexican Revolution.  But the Mexican government decided to go the American route and celebrate or "observe" the holiday the previous Monday.  Government offices, banks and schools were closed today.

We had no plans for this puente (3-day weekend).  Hubby worked on Saturday and we spent Sunday with my in-laws.  Our only plan for today was to spend a lazy day at home, maybe watch a movie or two.

Then my brother-in-law and his family stopped by to see if we wanted to join them on a picnic.  The plan was to do some sightseeing at a nearby town, then find someplace to enjoy our picnic.  (More about that town tomorrow!)  

Which we did.  We crossed a few bridges.

Saw some cows. (I heart Cows!)

And a horse riding down the road.

We finally stopped at a little resevoir called La Presa del Molino.

Beautiful!  Not an easy place to get to, but what a view.  We sat under a few huisaches (thorny trees), feasted on Pollo Rostisado (Rotisserie Chicken) and enjoyed the scenery, while the kiddies played.  We sat mesmerized watching the campesinos gather what looked to be hay.  (Click on the photo for a closer look.)

While we talked about the 450 year old church we had just visited, we began talking about the other towns and churches that were nearby.  A new plan was hatched!  We ended up visiting another 3 towns and their churches.  (More about all of them this week.)

What we thought was going to be a lazy day, turned into one magnificent day trip.  (We even crossed the State line.)  Don't you just love last-minute plans?  I do!

With Love,
Leslie Limon