Teacher Update...

The 4th grade moms were once again called into a meeting this morning.  But this time it was with the new teacher. 

Today's meeting was so different from last week's train wreck.

At the end of every bimestre, the parents (mostly the moms) meet with the teacher to discuss the child's progress, sign report cards and to see if the teacher has any complaints. 

One of the new teacher's first tasks was to grade the 4th Bimestre exams.  She was shocked to see that students who were normally getting 9's and 10's (A's) scored as low as 6 on the exam.  She then explained that it was more than obvious that the children had been without a teacher for almost a month.  So she averaged their test scores with the grades from last bimestre  and was pretty fair in dealing out the grades.  (I say fair because Nick still has straight 10's!)  

The new teacher also reassured all of us that she was going to do her very best with our children, because she understands (and appreciates) the sacrifice that we are making by paying her out of our own pockets.

It feels very good to know that our children are being cared for by someone who cares about their education.


Coming Soon...A Drive-Thru?

I love my small town.  Even if we don't have any fast food chains.  Or a mall.  Or even a large grocery store.   (FYI: All of these things can be found in the bigger cities all throughout Mexico.)   Our biggest store is a Farmacia Guadalajara.  It's like a mini-Rite Aid. (Very mini.)

But I will admit, that I sometimes wish we had a few of these modern conveniences/luxuries. 

One day, while walking Hope to school, I noticed a new construction project underway.  The round arches, let me know that it wasn't going to be a house.  And it has what looks like two street entrances.  Very much like a drive-thru.

I asked Hubby if he had heard anything about what was being built.  Which of course he had.  One of his customers had mentioned that it was indeed going to be a drive-thru.  Yipee!

I was so happy and hopeful, that I started to wonder...Is it going to be a McDonald's?  Perhaps a Burger King?  Or what if it's a Subway?  I read that they just opened one up in Patzcuaro

Then we heard from someone else that it was going to be an automatic car-wash.

But that turned out to be untrue.  (Gotta love the small town gossip mill!)  Finally, we heard from a very reliable source (my neighbor who is supplying some of the construction materials) that it is definitely going to be a drive-thru.  But not of the fast-food variety.

It seems that we are soon going to have one of those Beer Can drive-thru's.

I don't know about you, but this is not my idea of progress.


Doesn't anyone care about the children?

This morning, the 4th grade moms were summoned to a meeting with the school's director, to discuss the current teacher situation.  Well, more like the LACK of a teacher.

Nick's 4th grade class has been without a teacher for almost a month.  La  maestra has been experiencing serious back problems that haven't allowed her to work.  She is scheduled for surgery tomorrow.  She was granted a leave of absence until June 6th.  But it will probably be extended for another month or even longer.

Now, one would think, that in the teacher's absence, the school would provide the students with a substitute teacher.  Not so!  The children have been left to their own devices, with the director and school secretary checking in on them.  Occasionally.

Last week, we all thought that the problem had finally been resolved when the school secretary took over the class.  She gave the kids study guides and had them take their exams for the 4th bimestre.  But on Friday we learned that it was only temporary.

Today, the director informed us that if we wanted the children to have a teacher for the 6 weeks that remain of the school year, we would have to find the teacher ourselves and pay him/her out of our pocket.

We all pointed out to the director that we thought it was the school's responsibility to provide a new teacher and pay her.  But we were quickly informed that it was really none of their business.

Accepting the fact that we were going to have to pay, we asked if the school would be willing to split the costs.  But the director was adamant and said that the school did not have that kind of money.  Which we all find a little odd, because the school collects about 90,000 pesos a year from the cuotas voluntarias.  And that money is matched peso for peso by a quality education program that the school has been involved in for the past 7 years. 

Trying to work out some kind of solution, a few moms suggested that the moms take turns coming in to teach the class.  That idea didn't fly well with some of the moms.  They wanted a certified teacher.

Solution number two, was to see if the local government could help cover the costs of the new teacher.  The director quickly dismissed that idea, because he was sure that the government would not be interested in helping.  But one mom was very persistent and left in the middle of the meeting to see what the folks at City Hall had to say.

Seeing that the school wasn't going to be of help, we inquired as to how much we would actually have to pay the new teacher.  Elementary school teachers work from 8:30am to 1:00pm and earn approximately 150 pesos per day.  There are 35 students in Nick's class, so each parent would have to pay a little more than 130 pesos.  Which isn't a lot of money.  BUT...there are a couple of parents that just don't have that kind of money.  So to compensate, we increased the amount to 150 pesos.

Meanwhile, one of the mom's called her sister, who just happens to be a teacher, to see if she would be willing (and available) to come teach the kiddies.  Turns out, that she is available and can start tomorrow.  GREAT!

At that moment, the persistent mom returned from City Hall.  She was told, that the school would have to submit a request for monetary help, along with a copy of La Maestra's leave of absence and the signatures of all the moms.  The request would then be submitted for approval at the budget meeting that was set for that same morning.  She was also told to contact the Secretario de la Delegacion de Maestros (something like a union leader).  The director then scoffed at that idea, saying that the Secretario had absolutely nothing to do with this matter.

Just as the director was once again trying to explain that this is solely the problem of the parents, someone knocked on the door.  Guess who it was?

It was the Secretario de la Delegacion!  He said, "I just received a phone call from La Presidencia (City Hall) requesting that I turn in the request along with the signatures this very moment."

We won't know anything until later this week.

But this is what really infuriates me...What if we hadn't expressed our concern to the director?  Would he have allowed our children to finish the school year without a teacher?  It's not the teachers or parents who are affected by this situation, it's the children.  Who is going to care for them?   Don't they deserve an education?

One Boy. One Girl. (The Story of How I Met My Hubby Part 1)

The sun filtered in as the church door opened.  In walked an elderly woman, who was new to the church.  Behind her, stood what appeared to be an angel from Heaven.  Only this angel was dressed in stiletto heels, a slim, purple pencil skirt and a form fitting, cream-colored cashmere sweater that hugged her voluptuous figure in all the right places.  Her long strawberry blond locks flowed down her back almost to her waist.  The loose ringlets framed her face perfectly.  (Sigh.)  Her face.  How to describe such beauty?  She had the face of a porcelain doll.  Creamy white skin. Mesmerizing blue eyes that any man could lose himself in.  And soft, pink lips that just begged to be kissed.  

No, I haven't decided to write a hot, steamy romance novel.  (Although I do enjoy reading them from time to time.)  This is actually how my husband describes the first time he saw me.  And while it is a pretty accurate description, there is a little more to the story...

Our story begins on a cold, winter Sunday morning.  My grandmother and I were driving around looking for a new church that my aunt Marian had told us had opened recently just a few blocks from our old church which had closed suddenly, without a word.  We drove all over that part of town looking for the new church, but we never found it.

The only church we did find was the tiny Spanish language church where Gramm's third husband had been a pastor many years before.  As we drove by, Gramm described the little church in vivid detail and said that one of her fondest memories of that church was her eldest son's first wedding.  Intrigued by Gramm's tales, I told Gramm that we should make a visit to the church for old time's sake.  And so we did.  As I parked the car on the side street, the congregation began to sing inside the church.  We hurriedly made our way inside, hoping to not cause any distractions.

The moment we opened the door, all eyes turned towards us.  We smiled and shook hands with the people we encountered as we made our way to an empty pew in the middle of the small church.  Some of the older women recognized my grandmother (a former pastor's wife) and waved to her from across the room.  The Pastor also recognized my grandmother and welcomed us to the church.  He then informed us that the young people had just left for Sunday School and that I was more than welcome to join them.

One of the ladies in the congregation escorted to me to a tiny house behind the church.  She instructed me that I didn't need to bother knocking, so I just opened the door to let myself in.

The first face I saw was that of a handsome young man, with very kind eyes, who greeted me with a smile.  He was the Sunday School teacher for the small youth group.  He shook my hand as he introduced himself, then asked if I spoke Spanish.  As soon as I said "Sí", he pointed to a loveseat where I could sit down and join the rest of the class.  It was then that I noticed that there were five young men (six if you count the Sunday School teacher) and another young girl in attendance.  I tried my hardest to pay attention to the Sunday School teacher, but I couldn't help but feel just a little uncomfortable, because all eyes were on me.

When the church service ended everyone in the congregation invited us to return the following Sunday, even the handsome Sunday School teacher. As my grandmother and I left the church, the Pastor walked up to one of the young men from the youth group and said, "You're going to marry that girl someday."

To be continued....


Interview with a Gringa

It seems that even after nine and a half years of living in Mexico, people still find it hard to believe that a Gringa would pack up her things, leave "the comfort and luxury of her homeland" and move to Mexico.  This always leads to a multitude of questions.  I know that some of you have asked a lot of the same questions, so here are my answers!

FAQ's (Frequently Asked Questions)

1.  Why did you move to Mexico?  This is never an easy question to answer.  I usually tell people it was out of curiosity.  During a visit to the States, Hubby's eldest brother kept mentioning how wonderful our life could be in Mexico.  Although we found the idea more than appealing, we quickly put it out of our minds, because I was about to give birth to our second child.

A year later, my in-laws went to the States for a visit and mentioned that my brother-in-law still wanted us to move to Mexico.  We thought about it and finally decided to give it a try.  For six months.  Well, we liked it so much we've been here for almost 10 years.  (You can read the whole story here.)

2.  Do you like Mexico?  I love Mexico!  The food, the people, the culture, the traditions.  I'm pretty sure that if I hadn't liked it here, I would have returned to the U.S. long ago.

3.  Was it hard getting used to living in Mexico?  Oh yeah!  It was very hard.  I cried myself to sleep almost every night during the first six months.  My new life in Mexico wasn't bad, but it was very different from the life that I was accustomed to in the States.  And I missed my grandparents and friends, terribly!  BUT...I adapted and finally fell in love with life here.  *For those of you who have just moved to Mexico or are planning on moving here, it does get easier as time goes by.  Just be patient!  

This quote from Maya Angelou sums it up best:  "If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude."

4.  Do you miss the United States?  Yes.  And no.  I miss my friends and grandmother the most.  And I miss certain traditions/holidays that aren't celebrated in Mexico. 

5.  Does your family visit you?  Sadly, no.  My grandpa did come visit me 6 months after I moved here.  Pappy wanted to see where I had moved to and he wanted to be sure that I was being treated well.  He and my grandmother made another visit in March 2006, to meet their newest great-grandchild. (Jack.) 

Pappy passed away 3 years ago.  My grandmother, who suffers from Alzheimer's, is living in a rest home.  (My wonderful Uncle looks after her.)  And my mother passed away 3 months after my grandpa.  So, I really don't have any family that can come visit me.

6.  Do you visit the United States often?  No.  My last visit to the States was almost 8 years ago.  I don't mean to sound crass, but there is nothing for me to go back to.  (See question #5)

7.  How did you learn to speak Spanish so well?  First of all, people almost never believe me when I tell them that I am 1/4 Mexican.  Then I go on to tell them the story explaining that I had to learn Spanish when my grandmother married Pappy, my step-grandfather, who was Mexican and spoke no English at all.  (Click here to read all about it.) 

    Waiting for Pitayas

    Something's not right.

    In the 9 years that I've lived in Mexico, I've always had something to look forward to in May...Pitayas.   Last year, we were treated to this delicious fruit a week early.  (Learn more about Pitayas here and here.)

    But this year, something is seriously wrong...It's May 13th and we don't have any pitayas!



    You like me! You really like me!

    During my absence from Blogland, I received not one, but TWO blog awards.  The first was given to me by Clementina of A Little Cup of Mexican Hot Chocolate.  If you're looking for good ol' fashioned Mexican food, Clementina has some great recipes.  Reading her blog is like reading one of my favorite books, "Como Agua Para Chocolate" (Like Water For Chocolate).

    The second award was given to me by one of my newest friends, Kerry of Butler Way.

    Kerry and her hubby Paul blog about everything.  They also post daily pics of the results of their recent weight loss.  And best of all, they think I'm an interesting person and wrote a post all about me.  (They have excellent taste!)   

    Both of these awards require that I write 7 to 10 things that not many people know about me.

    It's easier said than done. 

    10 things you may not know about me...
    1. I had a brother, but he passed away before I was born. (He fell out of his crib and broke his neck.  This is reason Numero Uno why I never put my kiddies to sleep in a crib.)
    2. I was 13 years old the last time I saw my dad.  And he didn't even say 'Hi".
    3. I spent a lot of my childhood in bars, casinos and bowling alleys.  (My mom was a bartender and often took me to work with her.)
    4. I was expelled from school when I was in the 3rd grade, because my mom punched the principal.  (She thought it only fair, since his son knocked out my two front teeth with his foot!)
    5. My first crush was on Donny Osmond!  I even had the Donny Osmond doll that came with a silver microphone that you could stick in his hand. 
    6. I was thisclose to being adopted when I was 10.
    7. I had to relearn Spanish when I was 11.  I completely forgot it after living in Texas for 3 years.
    8. I was a cheerleader in Junior High.
    9. I have psychic dreams.  (I will tell you all about them one of these days!)
    10. I am currently trying to lose some of my excess weight.  And I'm even documenting the process on another blog.  
    So, what are some things that I don't know about you? 


    Mother's Day Festival Numero Dos...

    Today, I attended yet another Mother's Day Festival!  This time, it was Ashley's turn to do a little dance. She looked so cute in her costume.

    The dance was very cute too.  Although the kiddies were a little confused because they were supposed to dance to the song "Guadalajara, Guadalajara", but the person in charge of the music played something else.  The kiddies were real troopers and started dancing anyway.

    So here, for your viewing pleasure is Ashley's second grade class doing a little Baile Folklorico.   Enjoy!!!


    Happy Mother's Day!

    No, I'm not a day late. Mother's Day in Mexico is ALWAYS celebrated on May 10th.

    This year, Jack participated in the Mother's Day Festival at his Jardin de Niños (Kindergarten).  His class danced to the song "El Baile de los Juguetes" by Cri-Cri.   Jack was very cute in his cat costume that I made for him.

    I did videotape his performance to share with everyone.


    As luck would have it, when I came home to play the video for Hubby and my in-laws, all I got was a big "ERROR!"  I really hope that I don't experience this same problem tomorrow with Ashley's performance. 

    I hope all of my mommy friends had a wonderful Mother's Day.

    Now, I leave you with the only video that I was able to salvage from that day.