The Happiest Place on Earth...

Disneyland calls itself "The Happiest Place on Earth", but I happen to know of a little place that is even better!

Whenever we get the chance, (holidays, weekends or just on a whim) we all climb into our pickup trucks, endure a bumpy 20-minute ride down dirt roads to reach our destination...El Rancho (the ranch).  But I like to refer to it as little piece of Heaven on Earth!

Located in what some might call the middle of nowhere, lies this rustic, turn of the 20th century home.

El Rancho has running water, thanks to this pozo (well), built by my mother-in-law's brother.

Although there is electricity, there are no TV's to be found, no cable, no phone and no internet.  But who needs all of that stuff anyway?  There is so much more to do and enjoy.

My favorite thing about the ranch is this clay oven,

where we bake everything from Pollo y Papas en Adobo... better-than-gourmet pizzas.

 Don't want to cook in the oven?  Then fire up the grill!

While waiting for lunch or dinner to be served, head on over to the sitting area to chat with family and friends...

...and enjoy a drink or two.  Tequila, anyone?

Then sit back, relax and wait for night to fall.

 (Sigh!)  Life is good!


Billy Goat's Grudge..

Looks good, doesn't it?

Friends, let me introduce you to Birria.  (The State dish of Jalisco!)

It is prepared with slow-cooked goat's meat and served with a spicy tomato salsa.  It is a dish loved by many.

But to Hubby it is death on a plate. 

The first time I learned about this was during our first year in Mexico, when we still lived with my in-laws.

My mother-in-law purchased some Birria at the Mercado (market) to serve for lunch.  I don't like Birria, so Hope, Nick and I ate something else, while the rest of the family enjoyed a big bowl of Birria.

Hubby woke up later that night complaining that his stomach hurt.  It was 2 o'clock in the morning, so I didn't pay that much attention to him.  

He got up and went to the bathroom where he kept moaning in pain.  Then he let out the loudest and longest moan I had ever heard.  I will never forget it because it sounded like a bear crying out in pain after he's been shot.  Just horrible.

The moan was then followed by a THUD and a lot of noise because the broom, mop and bucket had fallen over.

I jumped out of bed to see what had happened.

Seeing my husband passed out on the bathroom floor was the worst feeling in the world.

The ruckus had awakened the kids and they were also startled by the sight of their dad.  I tried to assure them that Daddy was just being silly and sent them back to bed.

I attended to Hubby and got him to wake up.  He was dazed and confused.  And he had no idea how or why he was on the bathroom floor.  To make matters even scarier, Hubby fell face first, so his nose and mouth were bleeding.

I managed to get Hubby up and out of the bathroom.  I sat him down in our rocker and cleaned him up a bit.  Then I noticed that he was trembling and sweating profusely.  Not really knowing what to do, I decided to run downstairs to wake my in-laws.

When I made it down the stairs, my father-in-law was standing at the door and directed me to the kitchen.  My mother-in-law was awake making a pot of tea and already had the medicines necessary on the table.  She had also passed out, but managed to land on the sofa.  She came to when she heard the noise upstairs.

She calmly explained that it had been the Birria.  "It can have that affect on people, but we still eat it because it's so good!" 

I ran back upstairs to give Hubby the tea and medicines.  In less than an hour, Hubby was feeling much better and was able to go back to sleep.  I on the other hand was a nervous wreck and spent the night tossing and turning.

Hubby awoke the next morning in good spirits, but a little sore.  He had his dentist brother take a look at his teeth because they were hurting pretty bad after the fall.  All of Hubby's teeth were loose and had it not been for his braces, they would have fallen out!

I didn't like Birria before this incident and now that it had knocked out my Hubby and almost knocked his teeth out, I never wanted to see Birria again!

But we would meet again...


The Mexican Hillbillies...

One of my best friends from High School jokes that my life in Mexico is a cross between Little House on the Prairie and I Love Lucy.

But after she sees this picture, she's going to start comparing me to another famous TV family...The Clampetts!

Apparently, mice and rats aren't the only critters wandering around in the large empty lot behind my house.  This little fella was found in my next door neighbors house.

And he just had to share the news with my boys.

Nick walked into my house with that thing and said, "Look Ma, dinner!"

No, gracias!  


10 year old gotta love 'em!

Y'all come back now, y'hear?


Father-Son Moment...

*I've been told that I don't share enough family photos on this blog.  So, I will do my best to share atleast one picture a week in "Snapshot Saturdays".  If you're a blogger, feel free to do the same! 

Hubby and Nick bonding over bikes.

A Never-Ending Tail

It's a never-ending saga....

This morning, I was sitting at my computer, reading and writing happily, while the kiddies were at school, when I heard it.  That horrible scratching noise.  Only this time, it was coming from my bathroom.  I got up and started making lots of noise.  Flushed the toilet two or three times and let the water in the sink run for a minute or two, hoping that this was enough to flush whatever was lurking in the drain pipes far from my house.

Pleased that I had acted immediately and effectively, I returned to my computer.

A few minutes later,  I heard another noise.

Something had knocked my little wastebasket over.   I screamed and Hubby ran in to see what was wrong.  He inspected the bathroom and didn't find anything except the wastebasket turned on its side.  "Maybe you scared whatever it was with your scream and it ran away."

I can live with that.

Once again, I returned to my computer.  And Hubby left because it was his turn to attend Hope's parent-teacher conference.

I was catching up on Twitter when I caught something out of the corner of my eye...A rather large mouse or a very small rat.  It was grayish brown and round.  He kind of reminded me of Gus from Cinderella.  Cartoon mice are one thing, but having a real rat creeping out from behind my vanity dresser is not something I like.

Again, I screamed.  But no one came to my rescue.  Hubby was at the Junior High and my dad-in-law had left to pick up Jack from kindergarten.  (I'm getting over a bad asthma crisis, so I am housebound.)

So I stayed at my computer, hoping that I could come up with a brilliant plan to catch or get rid of the rat.  Then the rodent decided to make another appearance.  Now the little pest was peeking out from underneath my computer table.  AAAHHHH!  You guessed it, I screamed again and ran out of my bedroom faster than Usain Bolt at the 2008 Olympics. 

My only option was to enlist the help of Junior, my cat.  He might be great at hunting and killing the mice, rats and lizards out in the back patio, but he hasn't had much luck with the ones indoors.

Junior remained locked in my bedroom for about an hour, while I was in the living room waiting to hear squeals of torture.  But everything was as quiet as a church mouse.  (Sorry, I couldn't resist!)

Hubby came home and strategically placed the mouse trap next to the vanity dresser.

After lunch, I returned to the computer to print a few things that Hope needed for school tomorrow.  That's when I saw the horrible mini-beast.  Again.  Somehow he managed to elude getting caught in the mouse trap.  I screamed for the fourth or fifth time today and Hubby came running.  By then, the little fur ball had returned to his hiding place behind the vanity dresser.

My brave knight in shining armor jeans and sneakers, moved the vanity to see if he could see the rodent.  Hubby moved the dresser atleast 3 feet and saw nothing.

Hubby asked if I was sure that I had seen a rat.

What?  Are you kidding me?  Am I the only person in this house that sees rats and mice???  I was starting to feel a little like Haley Joel Osment in The Sixth Sense.

Hubby was moving the dresser back to its place when he finally saw it.  Then he asked where the cat was.  "Hiding under our bed!"  I had no idea my cat was such a scaredy cat! 

I guess the rat was scared too, because we didn't see or hear from him until 8pm.  Hubby and I heard the rat scratching behind our closet.  Again, Junior was fetched.  This time we tried to see if some of Cesar Millan's psychology would work on him, but he wouldn't have it.  Junior preferred to seek shelter under my bed.

Hubby wasn't happy with Junior at all.  He had Nick banish Junior to the back patio.  While Nick was taking Junior out, Hubby had the rat in sight, but couldn't reach him.  Just then, Nick opened the back door to let Junior out when Brownie, our dog, ran in.  He made a beeline to our bedroom and noticed that Hubby was trying to get at something behind the closet.

Brownie started barking.

The rat got scared and ran out from his hiding place and was immediately captured by Brownie. My hero!

The End. 

For now!

You Say Tomato, I Say Jitomate...

Comparing life in Mexico to life in the United States is like comparing apples to oranges.  But I have been in Mexico for so long that I barely even notice those differences anymore.
Then there are days like this Tuesday when I'm reminded, not so much about the differences in lifestyle, but about some of the small cultural differences.  

Just before going to bed on Tuesday night, Hope suddenly remembered a pending Geography assignment.  She had to make a list of the traditional costumes and foods for each of the five continents. 

Yes, my fellow American friends, in Mexico we are taught that there are FIVE continents, as opposed to the 7 we are taught in the States.  (In case you're wondering, the five continents are Asia, Europe, America, Africa and Oceania.)

When I first learned about the five continents thing,  I really had a hard time understanding it.  As usual, I argued with Hubby about this, while he just listened patiently.  I went on and on with what I believed to be valid points of argument.  What about Australia and Antarctica?  What's Oceania?  And why did they group together North America and South America?  Hubby's only response was, "Why do you think the Olympic flag has five rings on it?"

As smart as I know I am, I didn't have an answer.

Hubby then explained that Mexico isn't the only country to think there are only five continents and that's why there are five rings on the Olympic flag, to represents the five continents.  Ugh!  I hate it when he makes sense! 

So there you have it, one tiny difference between living in Mexico and the U.S.

(P.S.) While writing this, I was reminded of another interesting tidbit which I will share later! 

    Farewell Winter..

    The wind is blowing. 

    The sun is shining bright.

    Days are much warmer. 

    The zancudos (mosquitos) are buzzing.

    I have been cleaning like a madwoman.

    And all six of us are having troubles with our allergies and/or asthma.

    What does this all mean?

    One thing....Spring is just around the corner!  And I couldn't be happier.

    There was a time when I preferred the cold winter weather, but that was before I had kids and before I moved to Mexico.  Winter's in Southern California aren't that cold.  A little wet, but that's about it.

    But Winter's in Mexico are a different kind of cold.  So cold, that you can feel it in each and every one of your bones.

    Most houses in Mexico don't have heating.  We depend on blankets, jackets and lots of hot tea or coffee to keep us warm. 

    After this Winter, my ninth in Mexico, I have vowed never to complain about the heat and humidity again!  (Atleast for now!)