Looking back on 2010...

Despite the excitement of the New Year, I am feeling a little nostalgic about the year that is quickly coming to an end.  So, let's take a look at some of my Most Memorable Moments of 2010.

You just know that the year is going to be a good one when the family has a great get together during the first week.  (Read: Three Kings and a Full House.)  Or watch the video!

January was also the month I learned a very valuable lesson.  NEVER delete pictures from your camera unless you are absolutely 100% sure that you uploaded them to your computer.  I only wish I had learned this lesson BEFORE Jack's 5th birthday party.

Not much happened in February, just a bout of Cabin Fever and my first cold/flu in over a year.  But it was all made better with a little gift from my favorite kindergartner.

This picture doesn't need an explanation.  I still shudder just thinking about it!  (Read: Mexican Hillbillies.

The arrival of the newest member of our family.  After going through about a dozen names, we finally settled on Chimi.  (Short for Chimichurri!) 

During Spring Break, the kiddies got their first job as paleteros (popsicle vendors).

This was a busy month.  First we went camping at El Rancho.  Reminded me of the many weekends I spent camping with my grandparents. 

And who can forget my rant about Nick's class not having a teacher for an entire month?

I received startling news that my eldest son, Nick, was malnourished.  But after a visit with a nutritionist and the family doctor, we learned that he is only underweight. 

We all had a good, hearty laugh at some of the World's Unsafest Helmets that came through Hubby's shop! 

Ashley learned how to ride a bike.  My nephew graduated from High School!  We had visiting friends and family.  We lost Brownie.  And I fell in love with my new toy

After what had to be the shortest Summer vacation in history, the kiddies went back to school.  And I hung up on the President.

A gruesome creature was inches away from entering my bedroom.

And all of Mexico celebrated the Bicentennial!

I celebrated my 36th birthday.  Ashley celebrated her 8th.  And I struggled with my asthma, which put a damper on most of the festivities.  I wonder if I should have tried the Skunk Lung Tea.

After a couple of weeks, I was finally on the road to recovery, thankful to be alive and for all of the blessings in my life.  Hubby and I celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary.  And I had the greatest day in the history of this blog...I was the featured blogger on SITS

Most of November was spent planning my in-law's Anniversary party.  But I was able to pause for a moment to discover that there is beauty in doing the laundry.  I finally got my dream car.  And Jack participated in his 3rd or 4th parade of the year.

The month started off with a bang...My in-law's 46th Anniversary Celebration Extravaganza. I faced one of my biggest fears.  And this Christmas is one the kiddies will never forget, because of the funny letter my brother-in-law read to them from El Niño Dios (Baby Jesus).

2010 was a pretty good year! 


Keeping promises...

Dear God,
If my friends forgive me for yesterday's "Santos Inocentes" prank, I promise to write every day for a month.


Have you ever made a promise to God in prayer?

Did you keep your promise?

In the Catholic faith, it is believed that if a person doesn't make good on a promise to God (or a saint) before they die, they won't get into Heaven. 

It's because of that belief that the we traveled yesterday to nearby Mexticacan, to help our dear Aunt Nina pagar una manda (pay/keep a promise).  From the edge of the small town we walked about 4 kilometers (although I swear it was more like 10 km.) to the ranch community of El Santuario.

Me and Aunt Nina
Some of the family

My suegra and one of her nieces.

My suegro

Ashley and Jack

Hope and one of my nephews.

Hubby gave Nick a lift

"Are you sure it was only 4 kilometers?"

We made it!

Family members aren't required to help "pay back a promise", but it was a fun adventure for the entire family.  One my little feet will not soon forget.


The End of a Blog

When I started this blog in February 2009, it was a way to keep in touch with friends and family.  I quickly fell in love with blogging, writing, sharing my thoughts and the details of our lives.  

So it is with a heavy heart that I write this post.

December 31st, will be my very last post.

This is something that has been weighing heavily on my mind since mid-September.  And the busy-ness of the last couple of weeks, has really reinforced that idea.  I haven't had enough time to sit down and read (and comment on) some of my favorite blogs, let alone write for my own blogs.

I would love to be able to write everyday, but after a day of cooking, cleaning, taking care of the kiddies and helping Hubby, I am too tired to write.  Or even think.  Most nights, I don't go to sleep until after midnight, because I've sat staring at the computer just wondering what I should write.  Then I wake up completely exhausted and feel terrible that I didn't write anything.

One of the main reasons that I've hesitated in ending this blog, is the wonderful friends I've made.  I feel like I've known you all for years.  Some of you I even consider family.  Then I realized that just because the blog is ending, doesn't mean that our friendships will.  There's Facebook, email and of course, I plan to continue reading your blogs.

I just want to thank you all for sharing the last 2 years with me.  Thank you for being a part of our lives and for letting me be a part of yours.

Before I end this post, I would just like to say...Inocente!

Or as we say here in Mexico...
Inocente palomita que te dejas engañar!

Today is El Dia de los Santos Inocentes.  It's the Mexican April Fool's Day!  Don't believe everything you read or hear today, especially this blog post!  I'm not going anywhere and neither is this blog.  December 31st will be my last post for 2010, but you'll be seeing a lot more of me in 2011! 

Toothless in Mexico

I have a recurring dream where I lose my teeth.  Sometimes I lose only one tooth.  Other times I lose all of my teeth.  I'm not a dream analyst, but I did read a dream interpretation book once and I remember reading that when you dream of losing your teeth it reflects your insecurities about your physical beauty.

I disagree with that interpretation.

When I dream of losing my teeth, it's because I'm really afraid of losing my teeth, because that would mean a trip to the dentist.  And well, I'm absolutely terrified of going to the dentist.

Why?  I don't know.  I've never had a bad experience with a dentist.  I'm just afraid to go.  I'm afraid of the pain they are going to inflict with their drills and sharp instruments, while I lay helpless in their reclining chairs.

It's because of this fear that I refused to go the dentist last month when one of my wisdom teeth started giving me trouble.  After all, it was just a little pain, swelling and sensitivity.  Nothing some over-the-counter pain medication and an ice pack couldn't cure.  (Funny side note: The day my toothache started, I was at a birthday party surrounded by a dozen dentists.)  

A couple of days passed and the pain disappeared.  I was ecstatic to have avoided a visit to the dentist.

Then the pain returned.  This time the over-the-counter stuff wasn't working.  So I went to ask my dentist brother-in-law for something stronger.  Only he had already left for the day, so I asked our close family friend Dr. Manny.  (You've read about him in Jack Goes to the Dentist.)  When Dr. Manny handed me my prescription, he said "If the pain doesn't subside in a couple of days, come in and I'll take it out."

Luckily for me, the pain disappeared after a few days.

Until this last weekend.

That darned tooth hurt like the devil Saturday night.  I wasn't able to go to sleep until 4 o'clock in the morning.  And I was up by 7 because the pain was just too much.  Nothing worked.  I tried pain medication, ice packs and warm compresses.  When we arrived at my in-law's for lunch, I practically begged my brother-in-law to remove my tooth.

I no longer cared about the horror stories I had heard from friends and acquaintances about the immense pain one experiences when having your wisdom teeth removed.  I had even forgotten the story about the woman who bled to death and died in her sleep after her wisdom tooth was pulled.

Dentist brother-in-law prescribed antibiotics and pain medication and said he'd take an x-ray in the morning.

Yesterday morning, over breakfast, bro-in-law asked Hubby about my toothache when Dr. Manny chimed in that he could see me at 10 that very morning.  When Hubby came to tell me the "good" news, I started panicking.  I came up with 20 excuses to get out of going, BUT...the pain I was experiencing far outweighed any fears I had.  So, I willingly went to the dentist.

While Dr. Manny worked on removing my tooth, I waited and waited for the excruciating pain that I'd heard so much about.  I was sure I would feel it, since Dr. Manny had only applied a local anesthetic.  But the pain never came.  All I felt was a minor discomfort and it was nothing compared to the pain I had been feeling over the weekend.

I may have lost a wisdom tooth, but I found this pearl of wisdom to be true...
"There is nothing to fear, but fear itself."

(P.S.) For those of you who are curious as to how much it costs to have your wisdom teeth removed in Mexico...I was charged 200 pesos (less than 20 dollars) and a cake! 

All Grown Up...

It seems like only yesterday that we brought Hope home from the hospital. 

I had waited so long to hold her in my arms.  Holding my sweet baby girl opened my eyes to a love I never knew existed.

Every time I looked at her tiny hands and fingers, I would envision her growing up: crawling, walking, going to school, learning to ride a bike, learning to drive.  Then I'd wish that she could stay a baby so I could hold her close to me forever. 

But she had other ideas.

As the days and weeks passed by, she observed the world around her.  She grew a little each day and started doing things on her own.

She lit up the room when she laughed for the first time when she was 3 months old.  

At 5 months she sat up all by herself.

And at 6 months she began to crawl.
Then she got her first teeth.  She wanted to bite into everything she saw.  Cookies were her favorite.

So it was no surprise that her first words were "ma-ma", "da-da", "no" and "cookie".

She took her first steps just days before her first birthday.

She loved Angelica from the Rugrats cartoons and Elmo.

Then she became a big sister.  I could see that she too had discovered a love like no other when she watched over her baby brother.

The older she got, the more curious she was about everything she saw, heard or touched.

Weeks before her 3rd birthday, she moved to a land far, far away, with Mommy and Daddy.  She learned a new language.  And embraced her new way of life.

Then came kindergarten.  She had a hard time separating herself from Mommy and Daddy, but ultimately loved the time she got to spend with her favorite Tia (aunt) and the new friends she made.
Once she was in elementary school, she learned even more, like reading and writing.  As the years passed, she became even more independent.

And now, all of a sudden she's in Junior High, almost as tall as I am and has even started to wear a little make-up.  My baby girl has grown into a lovely young lady.  I see a lot of Hubby and myself in her, but she is her own person.  I admire her strength and confidence. 

Today, my baby girl is a teenager.

Happy 13th Birthday, Hope.  I couldn't have asked for a better early Christmas present.  I love you.   


Anniversary Celebration...

On Saturday, the entire family gathered together to celebrate my in-law's 45th wedding anniversary.  Hubby's sister and brother, who live in California, flew in for the celebration.  It was the first time in 22 years that all six siblings had been together. 

The celebration started with a Mass.  Everyone arrived thirty minutes early to reserve their seats up front and to coordinate things like the entrance and to iron out other minor details.

Nick, Jack and Ashley were sitting quietly in the front row, when a woman motioned to Nick for him to join her in a room located by the altar.  It wasn't until my in-law's made their entrance into the church, that I realized why Nick had been summoned.

My son was the Altar Boy for the entire service!  I was completely shocked and couldn't have been prouder of him.  Everyone congratulated him on a job well done.

Nick wasn't the only one of my children to participate in the Mass.  Hope was asked to read from the scriptures, along with my niece and my sister-in-law.

Ashley and Jack participated in the offerings, along with the other grandchildren.

And at the end of the service, Hubby's eldest brother gave such a touching thank you speech, that everyone applauded when he finished.   

After the service, a few of our closest friends and family joined us at La Presa for a little get together.

We feasted on Carnitas with all of the fixings, then a small cake for the happy couple.

Los musicos (the musicians) serenaded us throughout the entire party.  Even hours later, when almost everyone had gone home.

It was a great time had by all.  And a celebration we won't soon forget.

Maybe for their 50th anniversary, we'll have a BIG party!


Happy Revolution Day!

Handkerchief:  8 pesos
Horse:  25 pesos
Shirt:  49 pesos
Jeans:  98 pesos
Boots:  159 pesos
Carrilleras (Bandoliers):  30 pesos

Seeing Jack dressed up as a Revolucionario for the Revolution Day parade: Priceless!

Viva la Revolucion Mexicana!

(A big thank you to my friend Nancy for providing me with the English word for Carrilleras.)

All I want for Christmas...

Dear Santa Claus,

I know it's a little soon to be writing you, but I'm kind of hoping that you'll bring me an early Christmas present. 

You see, I'm a mom and a blogger.  And I live in Mexico.  Interesting things happen almost daily.  I like to capture those moments in photographs, for both my family and my blog friends.   My camera isn't a fancy one.  It's a point and shoot Sony something-or-other.  Even though I'd like a new camera someday, what I really want is a set of rechargeable batteries. 

Buying batteries isn't my problem, but keeping them is.  Of the last pack I bought, I only used 2 for my camera and the rest of the batteries were used for remote controls, wall clocks and an endless number of battery-operated toys that you brought my kids in previous years.

Had my children not used my latest batch of batteries for evil their toys, I would have been able to capture the once-in-a-lifetime moments from my brother-in-law's birthday party last weekend.  How often do you attend a party where one of the guests, with the voice like one of The Three Tenors, sings with the quarteto?  It was a spectacular performance.

My favorite moment from the party, that I still can't believe I didn't get on film, was when the quarteto was taking requests from the couples at the party.  Everyone had a song or two that they wanted to hear, but Hubby drew a complete blank.  Instead of suggesting song titles to my Hubby, the lead singer asked for my name, then huddled with the rest of the band for a few minutes before singing a song they wrote just. for. me.  "Leslie...tus ojos...tu voz...tu sonrisa...Leslie..."  (Leslie...your eyes...your voice...your smile...Leslie...)   Sigh!  It was the most beautiful and romantic song I had ever heard.  One I will probably never hear again. 

If I had rechargeable batteries, I'd never miss another moment like that.  I would make sure to keep my batteries charged, just like I do with my Kindle.  (That's how I was able to keep the party guests informed with up-to-the-minute news of the Pacquio vs. Margarito fight.) 

So please, Santa...Could you bring me some rechargeable batteries before Christmas?  I wouldn't want to miss something special that could happen at any of the celebrations in the coming weeks, like my in-law's anniversary extravaganza and Hope's 13th birthday.

Not only would you be helping me, but you'd also be saving the planet.

I promise to make you an extra batch of those delicious cinnamon cookies that you love.

Hope to see you soon. 

Mama's Losin' It

There is beauty in laundry...

Yesterday on Facebook, I mentioned that I am thankful for the pile of dirty laundry, because it means we have clothes on our backs to keep us warm.  And today, thanks to the combination of the crisp morning air and the bright sun, I watched the way my patio filled with steam while I hung my laundry to dry.  There is beauty to be found in all that we do. 


Friday Fragments

More bits and pieces of what's been going on as of late.   

*We bought a new car!  (When I say new, I mean new to us!)  It's a red Ford Explorer circa 1992. (The year I graduated High School!)  I've ALWAYS wanted one since I first rode in one when I was in college.  It was love at first sight.  The only downside is that it's a stick shift.  Remember, I don't know how to drive stick!  (See Driving Miss Leslie)  But I think I'm finally ready to learn! 

*Speaking of driving...I actually drove today!  I helped Hubby deliver a little Nissan truck that he did some work on.  Nick went along with me for the ride and spent the whole time praying.    

*My health is much better.  I went for a short walk yesterday (my first in almost a month) and didn't get all wheezy.  Same thing happened today.  I was actually able to walk to pick up Jack from Kindergarten.  Bye-bye coughing and bronchial spasms.   

*My in-laws' big 46th anniversary extravaganza is just 3 weeks away.   Hubby's brother and sister will be flying in from California!   This will be the first time that all 6 siblings will be together at the same time in I don't know how many years.   

*Tonight, while I stood on my sidewalk talking to Hubby and my eldest brother-in-law, I saw a shooting star.  At first, I thought it was a falling airplane.  Then I thought it must be a cohete (firecracker). When I finally realized what it was, I couldn't think of anything to wish for.  How is that possible?!  My first shooting star and no wishes whatsoever!  Of course a minute later, I had a few wishes, but I'm not going to tell you about them, because if I do, they won't come true.

What would you wish for?

    Mommy's Idea


    Day of the Dead...

    Everyone knows I love holidays.  Christmas.  Thanksgiving.  Halloween.  Easter.  The list goes on and on.  So it might come as a shock to learn that there is one holiday that I haven't fully embraced...Day of the Dead.

    It's one of the few holidays that my Mexican grandparents didn't celebrate.  November 2nd was just another day.  There were no colorful altars built for deceased friends or relatives.  No offerings with their favorite foods and beverages.  No sugar skulls.  Not even Pan de Muerto.  I knew nothing of the existence of Dia de Muertos

    It's not that my grandparents didn't care about the deceased, because they did.  There were countless visits to the cemetery, to tidy up the graves of my brother and Gramm's third husband, when I was a kid.   Weeds were pulled.  Tombstones were washed.  And fresh flowers were placed at each grave.  While we worked, Gramm would tell us stories about the deceased.  I loved hearing the stories about my brother.  They always made me feel so close to him, even though I never met him.  Same with Gramm's third husband, my mom's stepdad.  Although, I do remember freaking out everytime I washed his tombstone, because Gramm's name was on it.  (Sidenote: Gramm is to be buried with her third husband when her time comes.  The tombstone already has both of their names on it.  All that is missing is the date of Gramm's passing.) 

    I've gotten off topic a little, but the point is that I was taught to remember, respect and care for the deceased.  But I never learned about Dia de Muertos.

    During the six years that Hubby and I lived in the States, no mention was ever made of Dia de Muertos.  Not by Hubby, his relatives, our Latino friends and neighbors nor by the people at our Spanish language church.

    We arrived in Mexico just days before November 2nd, and the holiday passed, practically unnoticed.  It wasn't until the following year that I learned that Day of the Dead was such a large celebration.  It was the only thing the news programs talked about.  I searched all over El Mercado that year for sugar skulls, with no luck at all.  No one I knew had built an altar, but I noticed a steady flow of people taking flowers to El Panteon (the cemetery).  And I got to taste my first Pan de Muerto.

    I got to build my first miniature Altar de Muertos the year Pappy passed away.  But like the other two that I've made since, it was for one of the kiddies'  homework assignments.

    Like my grandparents, Hubby's family doesn't celebrate Day of the Dead.  Not because they don't care for the deceased, but because they believe we should shower our loved ones with flowers and gifts while they are still alive to enjoy them.  And I couldn't agree more.

    So, while I may never get to take part in a big Dia de Muertos celebration, my thoughts are filled with memories of those that are no longer with me.

    Godspeed to all of you! 


    Halloween 2010


    With Love from Cavegirl, Nerdy Boy, Snow White and El Chavo del 8.


    Witch Parking?

    I saw this earlier this month in El Jardin (the townsquare) and couldn't resist taking a picture. 

    Now if only I could come up with a clever caption!


    Desperately seeking Martha Stewart...

    I need your help.

    For months, I've had a few ideas and plans for my living room.  Big plans.  A la Extreme Makeover.  Easy on the extreme.  

    During the owner's visit in August, she gave us permission to paint the walls, if we wanted.  She chose the Flame Blue before we moved in and I've maintained it by touching it up every year to cover up the artwork and fingerprint smudges left behind by my mini-Picassos.

    I love light blue.  It's my favorite color, but it kind of clashes with the black and off-white mosaico floor tiles.

    I can craft.  I can sew.  I'm even somewhat creative.  But when it comes to interior design, I'm completely clueless.  I don't know if I'm supposed to match the decor to the wall, the floor or the furniture.  Last year, we started to re-upholster our couches.  The gold and navy blue really clashed with the walls and floor.  Hubby re-did the loveseat in a peanut butter faux leather, although it looked amazing, it didn't look right in our living room.  And we put the project on hold.

    I painted the arches that separate my living room and dining room a neutral pearl color to see what it would look like with the floor.  It looks nice.  It matches with the floor tiles.  But it's not me.  I need color!  I'm just not a neutral kind of gal. 

    After I finished my multi-colored dining room chairs, I considered doing the same thing with my couches...Having Hubby upholster the couches in a chic off-white faux leather and the cushions in bright colors.  But the light blue walls really throw me off! 

    It's not in my budget to repaint the entire house, but painting an accent wall here and there is!  But what color?  Do I leave the pearl?  Do I want the accent wall to play off the light blue? 

    Or the black and white tiles?

    Or should I keep the blue walls, and just add a black trim to the top and bottom, like this room I found on BHG (Better Homes & Gardens)?

    What is a girl to do?  We spend most of our time in the living room, watching tv, reading, playing, etc.  It has to be family friendly, but I want it to look nice and put together.

    Any suggestions?