The Name Game

Somedays, it feels like no one ever calls me by name anymore. I think my in-laws are the only people who call me Leslie. Most people refer to me as "La Güerra" or "la gringa". Others just call me "Señora" or "Doña" (Ma'am). And occasionally a few people still call me "Maestra" or "Teacher".

My given name at birth was Leslie Ann Harris. When I married Hubby in the States, I took his last name, so I became Leslie Ann Limon. But when we moved to Mexico, and I introduced myself as Leslie Limon, people commented on the remarkable coincidence that Hubby and I had the same last name.  (In Mexico, spouses don't have the same last name(s), unless they're actually related.)  I kept having to explain that I took Hubby's last name when we married.

This lead to a barrage of questions like:
  • Why would you want to take your husband's last name?
  • Isn't your last name good enough?
  • Don't you love your family?
  • Are you ashamed of your family?  Is that why you changed your last name?

Once I finished explaining the "Name Change" custom, the person asking would proceed to ask me about my apellido de soltera (maiden name), to which I'd respond "Harris". But what they really wanted to know was my second last name. What?!

You see, everyone (and I do mean everyone) in Mexico has two last names. The first last name is the father's last name and the second is your mother's maiden name. For example, my kiddies' last names are Limon Harris. Limón for Hubby's last name, and Harris as my maiden name. (UPDATE: As per a new law in Mexico, my US born children only have one last name to match the name on their US birth certificates. Read more...

The first couple of times people inquired about my mother's maiden name, I had to take a few moments to think about it. In all the years I knew my mother, she never used her maiden name. Not even when she was growing up. She took her step-dad's name when she was little, then took my dad's last name when they got married. Then years later she changed it again when she took my step-father's last name. For the sake of safety I'm not going to reveal my mother's maiden name, but for the purpose of this blog post we'll just say it's Salisbury.

So a few weeks after we moved to Mexico I started to introduce myself as Leslie Harris Salisbury, to avoid any confusion and personal questions. But I hated the fact that I no longer had Hubby's last name. People have enough of a hard time as it is pronouncing both Leslie and Harris. But when it comes to Salisbury, I'm usually met with a big QUE?  It's just too hard to even try to pronounce and even harder to attempt to spell.

I remember when I applied for a job as an interpreter at La Presidencia (City Hall). The hardest part of the application process was deciding what last name(s) to put on the application. Do I go with just Leslie Limon? Do I go the hyphenated route like Hilary and use Harris-Limon? Or do I just follow Mexican custom and use Leslie Harris Salisbury? It was all so confusing! Finally, the person conducting the interview went to ask the Secretario General (Deputy Mayor), who just happened to be my brother-in-law, what we should do. He said the easiest way would be to go by Leslie Harris de Limon. I couldn't use Harris Salisbury, because I didn't have any documents, US or Mexican, with the name Salisbury on them. I also couldn't use Harris-Limon, because Limon wasn't my mother or father's last name. If I wanted to use Hubby's last name I'd have to add "de" to signify that the last name belongs to my husband. I told you it was confusing.

But the tale continues....

Leslie Harris de Limon was the perfect solution to my name problems. That is until Jack was born.  When the doctor was filling out the birth information, I told him my name was "Leslie Harris de Limon".  To which the doctor responded, "No, I don't want your husband's last name, I want both of your last names." So I said "Harris Salisbury", which only lead to the doctor going on and on about what a strange last name it was and how difficult it is to spell in English. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah....

After filling out all the forms, the doctor had me look over them to make sure all of the names were spelled correctly. He then asked me to verify that Leslie Harris Salisbury was my full name. That moment seemed as good a time as any to mention my middle name: Ann.  Bad idea!  Okay, not really, because you do want to make sure all documents are accurate and legal.

The doctor then berated me for not using my full first name - Leslie Ann, even though I counter-argued that Leslie was my first name and Ann was my middle name. But the doctor wouldn't hear any of it. "If a woman's name is Maria Guadalupe, that's her name. Not Maria. Not Lupe or Maria G. It's Maria Guadalupe!" (He was a really nice doctor, but extremely passionate about this name business.) He then suggested that whenever I introduce myself I should do it as "Leslie Ann" not just "Leslie". My apologies to the doctor, but my mother was the only person to call me "Leslie Ann" and that was only when she was angry or I was in trouble.

Now whenever someone asks me my name, I just respond "Leslie" because that is my name.  But if they want my full name, I say "Hi! My name is Leslie Harris de Limon." (No mention of Salisbury or Ann, even though I do add Ann on all my legal paperwork.)

Men, you have no idea how lucky you are!

For more Name Game fun, be sure to read The Name Game: Back to School Edition 

Where did Julio go?

No, not that Julio!

I meant Julio, as in July, the month! 

Where does the time go?

It seems like only yesterday that Julio (July) was starting.  We were anticipating the end of the school year, graduations, the World Cup final and the arrival of my sister-in-law and her family.

Now all of a sudden, it's the last week of July!  Everyone's forgotten about the World Cup.  The kiddies will be going back to school in a matter of weeks.  And my sister-in-law and her family will be heading back the the U.S. in a couple of days. 

Is it just me or do the days, weeks and months seem to be flying by faster?   

Next thing you know, it will be Christmas!  

The Day I Slept with a Real Slime...

Outside my bedroom window, stands a lovely tree that provides shade and a gentle breeze.  Last week, a swarm of bees threatened to take up residence in that tree.  I was only slightly concerned due to the fact that I am highly allergic to bees.  Fortunately, Proteccion Civil smoked them out.

This week, I've noticed that there are still a few bees buzzing around my tree.  But they aren't the only winged creatures hanging out in the tree.  I have seen at least a dozen beautiful butterflies.

I like butterflies.  Butterflies are pretty.  And I'm pretty sure I'm not allergic.

One day, while observing the butterflies from our bedroom window, Hubby commented that it has been a  while since he had seen any orugas (caterpillars). 

In years past, we have found caterpillars that have fallen from their home amongst the leaves onto my cement sidewalk.  During caterpillar season, one of my elderly neighbors refuses to walk under my tree.  She prefers instead to take her chances by walking down the middle of the street to get to her house or go to El Mercado (the market).  She hates caterpillars.  And I can understand why.

But Nick loves them.  He finds them absolutely endearing.  So much so, that one year he adopted two of them as pets.  He carried them around with him everywhere.  He even named them.  He really loved his caterpillars. 

As the day drew to an end, I tried to explain to Nick that the caterpillars needed to go back to their home in the tree, to be with their family and sleep in their own bed.  Nick nodded and said he would take the caterpillars back to the tree.

That night, we all went to bed after I told the kiddies the story of "The Very Hungry Caterpillar".

The next morning, the kiddies were watching early morning cartoons, while I got dressed and straightened up my room.  I removed the bedspread, fluffed the pillows and lifted back the top sheet so I could smooth out the bottom sheet.  Suddenly, I let out the loudest scream, that would put Jamie Lee Curtis to shame.

Hubby and my father-in-law ran in from the shop to see what had caused me to scream so hysterically.

I stood in the corner of my bedroom and all I could do was point at the bed.

Hubby looked at where I was pointing, then carefully lifted the top sheet to reveal a fat, bright green, half-squished caterpillar at the foot of my bed.

By then, the kiddies had all ran into see what the fuss was about.  Nick made his way to where my Hubby was and noticed the caterpillar.

Hubby then asked Nick why he hadn't taken the caterpillars to the tree like we had asked.

Nick, glanced around at all of us, then explained that he had taken the caterpillars back to the tree to be with their family, who were probably very sad at the prospect of losing two sons.  But then he got to thinking that the family would be so happy to have their sons back, that they would let Nick keep one of them.  And Nick, being the kind, gentle soul that he is, brought the caterpillar to my bed, because the caterpillar could look out the window to see his family, in case he got scared or lonely.

I love my son!  But I will never forget the day that I slept with a real slime! :)

Bits 'n pieces...

It's been a hectic week around here.  By the time I'm able to get on the computer, I'm too tired to think of anything clever to write. (Not that I've ever written anything clever!)

Speaking of my computer, it's still not working like it should.  My friend Katie, from My Cinderella Story, was kind enough to help me try to figure out what's wrong through a series of emails.  (Katie, I can't thank you enough!)  I passed the information on to our computer guy and he said he can fix it, just as soon as he can fit me into his schedule.  Hopefully it'll be sometime soon.

My sister-in-law and her family are visiting from L.A.  They are staying with my in-laws, but my niece and nephew hang out at my house all day.  But I don't mind.  I love having them around and so do the kiddies.  

Today, my in-laws  took Hope and Nick with them to "visit" Santo Toribio.  Then they went sightseeing in Jalostotitlan and San Juan de los Lagos.   I wish we could have gone, but Hubby and I stayed home, because we are in the process of re-upholstering 120 chairs for one of the local high schools.  I swear, I am starting to dream about those chairs. 

And have I mentioned that I am loving my Kindle?  I've already read 2 books and am trying to decide what I should read next.  Any suggestions? 


This is only a test...

I'm discovering that there are lots of fun things that I can do on my Kindle, besides reading. I'm actually writing this post from my Kindle, which I think is the coolest thing since sliced bread!

I just wish had known about this last night when the electricity went out!

I love my Kindle!

Not feeling like myself...

I know I promised to blog everyday this month.  And I have every intention of doing so.  But after yesterday, I feel like I'm walking around in a daze.

Everything reminds me of Brownie.

His passing was so sudden and so unexpected.  We didn't even get a chance to say our goodbye's.

This morning while I was feeding the cats, I cried when I glanced over at Brownie's bowl.  The cats are sad too.  They lay in Brownie's favorite spot all day long.

The very thought of going to the back patio, where Brownie spent most of his time, is too much for Hubby and the kiddies.

We miss him dearly and cherish the good times we shared. Some of which I shared here on the blog in posts like "And they called it puppy love" and "Never Ending Tail".

I miss my friend so much, it hurts.

Farewell, My Friend...

It was a very sad day in the Limon house today. 

Our sweet pup, Brownie passed away this morning.  His passing was a shock to us, because he had always been a very happy, playful and active pup.

We are devastated by the loss of our beloved pet. 

Brownie, you brought so much joy and laughter to our lives.  And for that we are grateful.

My newest love....

I've had it for only a week, but already I am completely enamored with my Kindle.

It's is everything I imagined it would be and more.

It's the size of a paperback, only thinner.  You can hold it with one hand.  Or both, if that's what you prefer.

Once you start reading, you forget that you're looking at a screen.  At times I forget that I am reading on a "machine", and try to turn the page of my book, only to realize that it's not actually a book.

One feature that I really like is that you can adjust the size of the text. I've read some books where the text is this small, but with the Kindle you can make it as big as you want.

The text-to-speech feature is also a fun feature.  If you're tired of reading, you can have the book read to you by either a male or female voice.  But this feature only works with English language books.  I tried it with a Spanish language book, and the kiddies thought that the Kindle's Spanish pronunciation was the funniest thing they had ever heard. 

The best thing about the Kindle has to be the free Wi-Fi.  You can access the Kindle store from anywhere.  I took my Kindle to the ranch, which is miles and miles away from civilization, just to see if it would work.  And to everyone's surprise...the signal was very strong.  (Out of the 5 bars that indicate the strength of the signal, I got 4 bars!) 

This is the beginning of a beautiful friendship!

The Impatient Patient...

The congestion in my head cleared, but has made its way down to my chest, where it is making its new home.

I am not a happy camper.

Doesn't this cold/flu know that I have things to do?

I may not be a working mom with deadlines to meet, but I still have responsibilities that need to be taken care of and prior engagements that I do not want to cancel.

It's summer!  I'm supposed to be having fun with my kiddies in the great outdoors, not lying in bed fighting a fever.  I need to fold and put away the laundry that took every ounce of my energy to do and made me even dizzier in the process.   I have appetizers and snacks that I need to start working on for tomorrow.  Not to mention bread dough to make.

Tomorrow! (Sigh!)

We're having a huge family get-together at El Rancho tomorrow in honor of my visiting sister-in-law.  I don't want to be the only one staying home.

So, I'm going to turn in early tonight and hope that this cold/flu has packed its bags.

Under the weather...

I can't believe that I'm sick.  It's the middle of summer!  Who get's sick in the summertime?  This is a time to relax and have fun.  Laying in bed with a fever is not my idea of fun.

But there is an upside to being in sick and living 3 houses down from my mother-in-law.

This morning, I awoke with a terrible, icky cold.  I tried to shake it off by doing some housework and doing four loads of laundry.  (Gotta take advantage of the lovely sunlight!)

By the time we finished lunch, I was feverish and feeling much worse.  I finally got to take that elusive nap and woke up 2 hours later.

I got up to check on Hubby and the kiddies and was surprised to see that Hope had cleaned the table and washed dishes.

The kiddies then instructed me to go back to bed to rest.

Jack was in the middle of "reading" me a story, when my mother-in-law walked in the room with a pocillo (small pot) of tea.  I don't recall what kind of tea it was, but it was delicious!

But the nicest surprise had to be Hope making dinner for all of us.

I ♥ my life!

My Kiddies & Their 1st Job!

I'm still a bit water-logged from a day of swimming and fun in the sun.  So I thought today would be a great day to share one of the photos that I never got around to sharing here on the blog.

It's a pic of my kiddies (along with my 2 youngest nephews) hard at work on their first job.

It was towards the end of Spring Break, when the kiddies were getting tired and restless.  In hopes of cheering them up a bit, we walked them down to the local paleteria (popsicle shop) to buy them a popsicle.  While we were there, the paleteros (popsicle vendors) were returning their carts after a long, hot day of selling paletas.  Hubby and his brother were immediately reminded of the "old days" when they used to sell paletas to earn extra money.

The kiddies' eyes lit up.  They all wanted to sell paletas to earn extra money too.  At first, we weren't too sure if they should.  They're young.  And they don't really need the money.  But after minutes of listening to them go on and on and on about how cool it would be, we agreed.  At least it would be a good life experience for them.

Bright and early the next morning, about 10am, the kiddies were all ready to go pick up their carrito (cart).  The owner filled it with paletas of every flavor, and filled the kiddies in on how much they needed to charge.  Most paletas cost 3 pesos, but there were others that cost 5 and 7 pesos.  (All less than fifty cents.)

Then they went on their merry way.

We didn't allow them to go far.  They were only allowed within a two block radius of our house.  The 3 boys took turns pushing the cart, while Jack and the girls yelled "Paletas!  Hay Paletas!" 

In less than 4 hours, the kiddies had finished selling their paletas.  Most paleteros don't finish until 5 or 6pm.

When they went to return their cart, the owner thought that they had just gotten tired and told them to empty out the cart.  But the kiddies surprised him when they told him that they didn't have any paletas left.  The owner shook their hands, commended them on a job well done and handed them their earnings.  170 pesos!  ($14 U.S. dollars.)

Now tell me, aren't these the cutest paleteros you have ever seen? 

Thru the wringer!

After writing yesterday's post about my current laundry dilemma, I remembered that I never got around to telling you how I used to do laundry when I first arrived in Mexico.  I swear, it almost killed me!

Look, if you will, at the picture at the top of this post.  See that big, round contraption that the woman is filling with water?  That's an old-fashioned washing machine.   Only they're not that old-fashioned.  This type of washing machine is still very popular throughout Mexico.  It is available in a variety of colors for less than 2000 pesos.  (A little more than $150 U.S. dollars!)

My mother-in-law has one.  And as many of you know, we lived with my in-law's for our first three years in Mexico.  A part of me was somewhat excited at the prospect of doing laundry the old-fashioned way.  After all, I had seen a washing machine just like this on "I Love Lucy".  How bad can it be?

Well, let me tell you!

The first thing you have to know is that there are steps/guidelines that need to be followed.  It's a much more complicated process than you might think.

1.  Fill the washing machine with water.
Sounds like an easy enough task. The woman pictured above is using a water hose to fill her washing machine.  Unfortunately, I wasn't as lucky.  The faucets in my suegra's home aren't fitted with any type of thingamajig that makes attaching a hose possible.  Hubby went to every ferreteria (hardware store) in town looking for any kind of attachment, but none of them worked.  My suegra and I tried filling it with the hose anyway, with me trying to keep one end of the hose attached to the faucet, while my suegra would hold the other end of the hose in place in the washing machine.  It didn't work!  It was much easier to fill the washing machine with buckets of water.  Lots and lots of buckets.  But at least we got a good arm workout.

2.  Add the dirty clothes.
Let me let you in on a little secret.  You really don't want to go through all the hassle of having to refill the washing machine with water after every load.  Most people use the same water to do 2 to 3 loads of laundry.  Start by washing the clothes that are the least dirty, which in most cases is the whites and light colors.  Followed by the dark colors.  And at the very end, add anything denim and the men's work clothes.  Just be sure to add more soap for each load.

3.  Add the soap.
Thanks to powdered detergent, this is the easiest step in the entire process.  My mother-in-law told me that she used to have to melt a large bar of soap (either Lirio or Zote) in a pot of water.  She would then add the soap water mixture to the washing machine.

4.  Turn the washing machine on and let it do it's thing!
Another very easy task that requires no explanation.

5.  Remove the laundered clothes from the washing machine.
It's important that you know that this type of washing machine doesn't have a spin or rinse cycle.  So you have to wring out the clothes, place them in a bucket and transfer them to the lavadero (wash sink).  Most models of this type of washer come with a wringer, as did my mother-in-law's.  But her's never worked.  So we had to wring out the clothes by hand.  A very easy task with the whites and baby clothes.  Not so easy with jeans, towels and bedding.  

6.  Give the clothes a good scrubbing in the lavadero. 
The clothes got a very good cleansing in the washer.  But you're always supposed to give them another scrubbing in the lavadero, using the jabon (soap) Zote or Lirio that I mentioned earlier.
    (A lavadero much like my suegra's.)

    7.  Rinse the clothes in the lavadero.
    After you've given the clothes a good scrubbing, it is time to rinse.  This you do with the help of a cup or small tupperware-type dish at the lavadero.  Make sure you rinse well and give the clothes another good wringing.

    8.  Add the fabric softener.
    Now that your clothes have been thoroughly cleansed and rinsed.  It's time to add some fabric softener to make them smell even nicer.  If your load of laundry isn't too big, you can fill the right side of the lavadero with water, add a splash or two of your favorite fabric softener and let your clothes soak in the water for 5 to 10 minutes.

    9.  Rinse again.
    With the new "No Rinse" fabric softeners available, this rinsing isn't necessary.  But when I lived with my in-laws, we didn't have those fancy fabric softeners.  So we had to wring out the clothes again.  Empty the lavadero.  And rinse the clothes as described in step 7.

    10.  Wring the clothes and hang them up to dry.
    We are almost finished with our first load of laundry!   All that we have to do is give the clothes another good wringing, then hang them on the clothesline to dry.  For heavier items such as jeans and bedspreads, we would wring them as best we could, and place them on a plastic chair to let them "drain".  And an hour later, we would hang them on the clothesline.

    11.  Repeat steps 1 through 10 for every load of laundry!
    You mean there's more?  I'm exhausted from just explaining the entire process!

    12.  Empty the washer and rinse it out.
    After you've finished all of your laundry, lower the hose located in the back of the washer to remove the dirty laundry water.  You can empty the water directly into the drain in the patio, or fill buckets and empty them into the nearby bathroom.  Don't forget to add a couple of buckets of clean water to rinse away all of the residue from the dirty laundry water.

    13.  Sweep and mop the patio.
    This last and final step might seem like an odd one.  But my mother-in-law's patio (where the laundry is done) is in the middle of the house.  We all walk through there multiple times per day.  The patio has cement tiles, that are extremely slippery when wet.  So one must sweep the water that will inevitably "drain" from the clothes that are hanging on the clothesline, into the drain that is located in the center of the patio. 

    So doing laundry the old-fashioned way isn't so easy after all!  It's a lot of hard work.  It is a very time-consuming process.  And I can't believe I lived this way for 3 years.  But I will say this, the clothes do come out much cleaner than in the "modern" washing machines.

    Now go hug your washing machine!

    Airing my dirty laundry....

    It's summer!  But it is also rain season in Mexico.  And the past couple of weeks have been nothing but cloudy days with lots and lots of rain.

    Don't get me wrong, I love the rain.  But I do have one very serious problem that just keeps getting bigger...


    Six people.  Changing clothes daily.  (Sometimes more.)  And no sun to line dry the clothes.  Add to that, towels and bedding, and you've got Mount Washmore.

    Why not throw the clothes in the dryer?

    Most people in small town Mexico don't own a dryer.  Many don't for economical reasons.  Some have no where to put one.  (Which is my case!)  And a lot of them have no interest in one.  The few people that I know that do own a dryer don't like to use them because they are bad for their electric bill.  Light guzzlers.

    Why not go to a lavanderia (laundromat)?

    Whenever my grandparents and I would travel to San Luis, Sonora, we always did our laundry at the lavanderia, which just happened to be owned by one of Gramm's nieces.  I grew up thinking that lavanderias were commonplace in Mexico.  But I was wrong!  Although I've seen lavanderias in many places throughout Mexico, there isn't one in my small town.  There was one for about 2 months, but it closed it's doors due to a lack of business. 

    Then why not wash your clothes and hang them indoors to dry?

    I only do this for certain types of clothing.  I did it when I had to wash the kiddies' school uniforms.  And I do it with the socks and undergarments that I wash by hand.  The downside is that it takes most clothes more than a day to dry.  And after a day of dampness, they start to smell weird.  Not bad.  Just not clean.  Plus, the damp clothes hanging around the house aren't good for Nick's asthma.

    So what are you going to do?

    The same thing I do everyday during the summer.  I'm going to wake up early, hoping that it isn't going to rain.  Run a load of laundry.  If it isn't raining, I'll hang the clothes on my clothesline in my back patio.  If it starts to rain, I'll hang the clothes on hangers and hang them on my shower rod, along with the socks and undergarments that I washed by hand the night before.  If it stops raining, I'll run the clothes outside, hoping that it won't rain again until the clothes are dry.  But if it does start to rain again, I will bring the clothes back to the bathroom to continue drying on the shower rod.  It's a vicious cycle!

    And on the rare days that the sun does make an appearance, you can find me participating in my own marathon trying to get as much laundry done as humanly possible!

    They played. We watched. Spain Conquered.

    During the past month, I have been witness to injustice.  I have been angered by unfairness and bad judgments.  I have mourned the loss of loved ones.  I have seen heroes fall.  And I have suffered the agony of defeat.

    But I've also seen greatness unfold before my very eyes.  I have watched David defeat Goliath.  And I have felt joy and happiness like no other.

    This month has been full of passion and intensity.

    Soccer is one of my favorite sports to watch on TV. 

    It all started years ago, when I sat with Hubby to watch Mexico play during the World Cup in France back in 1998.  During those 90 minutes, Hubby explained every play and answered every question I had.  I didn't fully comprehend, but my interest had been piqued.

    It wasn't until Korea/Japan 2002 that my love for the game blossomed.  Why else would I wake up to watch matches that aired at 2:00am?  By then, I was capable of discussing any given game with detail, facts and stats, with very little mention of how cute a certain player was.  (Hello Beckham, Figo and most of the Italian team!) 

    Every four years, my love, admiration and respect for the game continues to grow. 

    This year's World Cup was no different.  For the last 30 days, I've lived and breathed futbol (soccer).

    But now that it's over,  I am left with just one question....What am I going to do now? 

    What an amazing day!

    It's late.  I even contemplated not writing a post today.  But I just have to tell you what an excellent, wonderful, awesome day we had today.  (Even if it is going to be a very short post!)

    Our day started with a 10 o'clock Mass.  But not just any Mass.  It was a Graduation Mass for my 17 year old nephew, who graduated from High School.  Followed by the Commencement ceremony at noon.  And finally the Graduation Party/Dance in the evening.

    But our day didn't end there.  When we returned from the fiesta, we were surprised to find a van with California license plates outside my in-law's house.   My sister-in-law and her family had arrived from L.A.  We weren't expecting them until early tomorrow morning.  They're 32-hour trip was a safe and problem free journey.  (Thank you to those of you who mentioned them in your prayers!)

    We visited, hugged and laughed for an hour or two.  And will continue to do so for the 3 weeks that they will be visiting!

    I'm going to end this post now, because I really want to go play with my new Kindle! :)

    Siesta, Interrupted...

    (Not my bedroom!)

    No rest for the weary?

    I'm not to sure if we qualify as weary, but we sure aren't getting much rest!

    In Mexico, we have 2-hour lunches.  This gives us plenty of time to eat and if we're lucky, we can take a little nap.  Yes, the famous siesta!

    But there are times, no matter how tired you might be or how inviting the bed looks, you just can't seem to rest.  The universe just isn't willing to let you take that lovely nap that would help you to recharge your batteries.

    1:50 PM:
    Hubby closes shop a little early and we all enjoy the wonderful meal I've prepared.

    2:15 PM:
    We've finished eating.  Kiddies get to watch TV, while I clean the table and leave the dishes soaking in the sink to wash later.

    2:20 PM:
    Hubby lays down to rest, while I sit at the foot of the bed trying to figure out what's wrong with my computer and maybe do some blogging.

    2:30 PM:
    Hubby is sleeping soundly.  And he looks so relaxed.  The sunlight is streaming in through the bedroom window, making the bed look even more enticing.

    2:35 PM:
    I can't take it anymore!  I can work on the computer later.  I could really use a nap.  Let me tell the kiddies to turn down the t.v. and to play quietly while Hubby and I take a nap.

    2:37 PM:
    I kick off my sandals, let my hair down and lay down to take a nap.  (Sigh!)  The bed feels even better than it looked.  (Sigh again!)

    2:42 PM:
    The kiddies turn the TV up way too loud, startling both Hubby and me.  I get up and ask them to turn it down.

    2:45 PM:
    Lay down again to take a nap. (Sigh!) I really need it!

    2:55 PM:
    One of Hubby's customers knocks on the door to drop off 4 chairs.  Hubby is still sleeping peacefully and he looks so cute, so I get up to attend to the customer.

    3:00 PM:
    Customer leaves.  I check in on the kiddies; all is well.  Since it's only 3 o'clock, I still have time to enjoy a nap.

    3:15 PM:
    El Panadero (bread man) knocks on the door and of course, all of the kiddies are starving.  So I get up, let the kiddies pick their bread from the basket and then pay Bread Man.

    3:17 PM:
    Kiddies want to eat their pastries with a glass of milk.  Serve kiddies their milk.  Glance at clock and decided that even though I may not get to take a nap, I need to lay down to rest for a while.

    3:25 PM:
    Phone rings.  It's a wrong number.  Ugh!!!  I was so close to falling asleep.

    3:26 PM:
    It's more than obvious that I'm not going to be able to nap or rest, so I lay down to read a book and fall asleep minutes later.

    3: 40 PM:
    Hubby wakes up, then whispers sweetly, "Enjoy your nap."

    3:45 PM:
    Hubby opens La Tapicería (our upholstery shop) and lets the kiddies ride their bikes.  The kiddies make tons of noise getting their bikes out the front door.

    3:55 PM:
    The kiddies scream, "It's raining!"  I think to myself, "That's nice.  Nothing like taking a nap while it's raining."  Then I suddenly remember that I did 3 loads of laundry earlier and the clothes are outside drying on the clothesline.

    3:56 PM:
    Jump out of bed.  Begin desperate search for my sandals.  Make mad dash to the back patio to bring in my laundry.  No point in going back to bed now.  Might as well get to work on those dishes.

    4:00 PM:
    My inner Scarlett O'Hara declares, "Tomorrow is another day!"

    Frog Tails to cure just about anything???

    It's summer and the kiddies are out of school.

    While my kiddies will be spending most of their time playing outside, someone is bound to get hurt, fall off their bike, scrape something or get hit with a flying soccer ball.  As a mom, I do my best to soothe my babies and nurse them back to health.  Be it with band-aids, ice packs and kisses.  But most times that's not enough.

    "You forgot the magic words!"

    Ah, yes!  The magic words that have been spoken by every Mexican mother and grandmother throughout the ages.

    I remember my grandmother nursing my cuts and bruises when I was kid.  But it wasn't until after she would recite the magic words that I would begin to feel better.

    "Sana, sana, colita de rana.  Si no sanas ahora, sanas mañana."
    (Heal, heal, frog tail.  If you don't heal now, you'll heal tomorrow.)

    Okay.  So it loses something in the translation.  But believe me, in Spanish, there is nothing these magic words won't cure!

    Suspended in time...

    The gang's all here!  Well, most of them.  The others will be arriving this weekend.  (Please pray that they have a safe trip.)  

    My kiddies have a couple of friends and cousins that come to visit every Summer from the U.S.  My kids, the visiting kids and the some of the neighborhood kids all gather at my house to play, watch t.v. and help me bake cookies or cupcakes.  It's a fun tradition that we look forward to year after year.

    What amazes me most is that as soon as the kiddies reunite, it's as if time has stood still for an entire year.  There's no, "Oh my goodness!  Look at how you've grown!" Which is usually my reaction.  It's just a group of friends getting together to laugh and play, as if the year apart had only been a couple of hours.

    Summer...what a lovely time of year!

    Expecting the worst...

    A storm is a brewing and I'm not talking about the rain season.

    My computer is dying a slow and painful death.  Slow for my computer and excruciatingly painful for me.

    My computer is barely 18 months old and already it is causing me problems.  WHY???

    It's been acting up for about a month.  The screen would freeze.  It wouldn't upload my pics from my camera.  It would beep occasionally.  And yesterday, as I was waiting for my computer to start, it stopped and showed me a blue screen.  Then it tried to restart itself, only to encounter the same problem over and over.  I turned it off.  Let it rest a while.  Then turned it back on.

    The only way I can use my computer is if it is in SAFE MODE.  (Which makes me a happy camper!)

    I did some research and learned that the blue screen that kept popping up is called THE BLUE SCREEN OF DEATH!  And that it's not a question of IF my computer is going to die, it's WHEN! 

    I enlisted the help of my friends on Facebook and they were all of the same mind-frame..."Back up your files and photos!"  I wasn't too concerned about the photos, because I've been working on that already.  But one can never be too safe.  So I went through all of my pics, once again, organized them and made a couple of more back-ups!

    One good thing did result from this dreadful situation...The wonderful memories that the pictures evoked.  I even found a couple of pics that I've been wanting to post here but never got around to doing it.  Which is a great idea if you're stumped on what to blog about.  Go through old pics and well, you know how the saying goes, "A picture is worth a thousand words."

    So...if for some reason you don't hear from me via my attempt to blog daily, know that it is because of a certain imminent disaster.

    The beginning of the end...

    And so it begins.  The last  week of school.  I have been dreaming about this week for a couple of weeks.  I long for the days of summer vacation when I don't have to wake up early and rush out the door to walk the kiddies to school.

    The end of the school year activities began today.  The kindergarten moms were invited to observe their kiddies while the teacher showcased some of the things they learned this year.  Of course, Jack was the brightest and smartest.  But if you ask the other moms, I'm sure they'll say the same thing about their child. (But we all know the real truth!)

    There were no sad goodbyes, because today was only the last day of Jack's first year of kindergarten.  In Mexico, children attend kindergarten for 2 or 3 years, depending on their age and/or date of birth.

    That is when I came to a startling realization.  Next school year will be Jack's last year of kindergarten.  But it will also be mine.  I have been taking my kiddies to that same kindergarten every day for 7 or 8 years. The Jardin de Niños has been such a huge part of my life for so long and it's almost over.  Where did the time go?  And who allowed my kiddies to grow up?  Sigh!

    Fourth of July in Mexico...

    Regular readers of this blog know that I love holidays.  And that I try to celebrate them in my home, so that my kiddies can learn about their American culture.

    Although I love the 4th of July, it's not an easy holiday to celebrate here in Mexico.  It usually coincides with the last day of school, and there are always a ton of things to do for the end of the school year activities and parties.  (My kiddies like to volunteer me to make cakes and cupcakes!)

    This year I was determined to celebrate the 4th of July.  And that's exactly what we did.  Yesterday, a day early.  Sundays are no good because we spend them with my in-laws. 

    I made hamburgers and a delicious apple pie!   Doesn't get more American than that, does it?

    It doesn't matter that I have lived in Mexico for almost 10 years.  I am still very proud to be an American.  Old Glory is waving in my living room.  And I cry EVERY TIME I hear The Star-Spangled Banner, whether it be while watching the Super Bowl or World Cup Soccer.

    Happy Birthday to my beloved U.S.A.  God bless you!

    I wish you all a very Happy (and safe) Independence Day!   

    Lazy Saturday Afternoons...

    To paraphrase a line made famous by Tom Hanks in "Forrest Gump":
    "Saturday afternoons are like a box of never know what you're going to get."
    It's one of the things I love most about my small town life in Mexico.  You never know what's going to happen next.  We're not very big on planning things.  We love spontaneity and last-minute plans.

    We didn't have anything planned for today.  Just relaxing and spending time together as a family.  That's really all one can do when it's cloudy and raining.

    But Mother Nature surprised us all this afternoon.  The rain stopped and the sun came out from its hiding place behind the dark clouds.

    Perfect weather for riding a bike.  Hope and Nick were off on their bikes before we had a chance to notice the lovely sunshine.  Ashley and Jack took a little longer because they couldn't decide between their patin del diablo (scooter) and their bicis (bikes).  Ultimately, they decided on their bicycles.  But Ashley had a special request.

    My lil' princess declared that she was ready to learn how to ride a bike.  So Hubby removed her training wheels.  Then with no help from us, (she insisted on doing it alone) she slowly made her way up the sidewalk to Abuelita's house.  It took her a couple of tries to get the hang of it, but she did it.   She taught herself to ride a bike.  I'm so proud of my little girl! 

    But the fun didn't end there.

    A couple of kids from the neighborhood came over to play.  One of the boys brought a huge bag of marbles to play with.  My Hubby loved playing marbles as a kid, so he didn't hesitate in joining in on the fun.

    They played for a little over an hour.  Then it was time for dinner and showers.

    An hour later we were all sitting snugly in the living room in our p.j.'s when someone knocked on our door.  It was Hubby's eldest brother and his two teenage sons.  They just happened to be in the neighborhood, so they stopped by for a visit.

    I ♥ lazy Saturday afternoons!

    Driving Miss Leslie...

    This morning, I did something that I haven't done in almost 8 years.

    I drove a car!  Well...kind of.

    I hopped into Hubby's pick-up, put it in neutral and rolled it forward a whole meter!  (That's a little over 3 feet.) 

    Okay, so maybe it doesn't really count.  But it is the first time that I have been behind the wheel in 8 years. 

    Has it really been that long???

    I'm afraid so.  The last time I drove a car was during my 3 month visit to the States when I was pregnant with Ashley.   I still remember the first time I got behind the wheel.  Hope and Nick were both shocked and concerned that their mom was about to drive.  Nick even voiced his concern by suggesting that maybe Pappy should be the one to drive.  As soon as they saw that I actually knew what I was doing they clapped and cheered for me from their carseats. 

    So, you're probably wondering why it's been so long?

    There are a couple of reasons as to why I haven't driven in 8 years.  One being that I live in a small town.  EVERYTHING is within walking distance.  The market.  The kids' schools.  El Jardin (the townsquare).  Churches.  Banks.  Post Office.  Hospitals. Etc.  And even if I wanted to drive, I would have a hard time finding a place to park in El Centro (downtown) and would end up parking the car back at my place.

    But the main reason I don't drive is because I don't know how to drive a stick-shift.  (Excuse me for a second while I hang my head in shame.)  

    Years ago, when I first learned to drive I did so in a Datsun with a manual transmission.  But then I went to live with my grandparents and every car they owned was an automatic.  So, I forgot how.

    In the last 8 years, my Hubby has tried very hard to teach me, but I just don't get it.  Maybe it has to do with the fact that even though I'm 35 years old, I have a hard time distinguishing my left from my right.  (I was supposed to be left-handed, but my mom insisted that I do everything with my right hand.)  And the whole clutch concept is just too confusing for me.  Three pedals to choose from, really?

    When do I  push the clutch in?  When do I  let it out?  Do I push it in /let it out all at once?  Or am I supposed to do it slowly?  And why does the truck roll backwards when I'm about to step on the gas???

    Now do you understand my problem?  And don't get me started on the gears!

    Maybe the first book I need to buy for my Kindle is a "Stick-shift for Dummies" kind of book!

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    Resolutions Revisited...

    I can't believe that it's already July 1st.

    We are halfway through 2010.

    Where did the time go? 

    It seems like only yesterday that we were ringing in the New Year and thinking of our New Year's Resolutions.

    Resolutions???  If you're anything like me, you've probably forgotten all about them.  But then I remembered that I posted them here on my blog, in hopes that I would see them through.  I'm still not sure if that was one of my smartest moves!

    So let's do just that, let's see how well I'm doing with my resolutions.

    1. Exercise:  Part of me wants to laugh out loud.  Exercise and I have never been the best of friends.  So it was no surprise to me that I didn't get started immediately on this one.  But the good news is that a few months later, I began walking 60 - 80 minutes a day.  It may not seem like much, but it's contributed to my losing a little over 20 pounds in the last 3 months.  So...not bad!
    2. Sew:  I do plenty of sewing everyday, only it's in Hubby's shop.  My pile of fabric keeps growing and growing.  Sadly, the only thing I've made this year was Jack's cat costume.   I need to get to work on this one.
    3. Write:  I never realized how much I enjoy writing until I started this blog.  There isn't a day that goes by that I don't come up with at least 2 or 3 things to write about.  But life has been terribly busy and by the time I have time to write, I'm too tired.  Then I later kick myself for not writing.  I'm tempted to follow in my friend Theresa's footsteps and challenge myself to write everyday for a month.  What do you think? 
    4. Keep in touch:  Tsk, tsk, tsk!  I'm still not doing so great at answering email as soon as I get them, but I do try to do so before the week is over.  But I could definitely do better.
    5. Back up photos:  This is one I can check off of my list.  I have last year's pics nicely saved on 2 separate discs.  (You know, just in case I lose one!)  This year's pics aren't backed up yet, but I'm doing a great job of keeping them organized. 
    6. Garden:  Sigh!  If you only knew how much I want a garden.  I admire the pics my friends post on their blogs and on Facebook and wish that I had one.  I've got seeds.  Pots.  And the desire to have a spectacular garden.  The only thing holding me back at the moment is the lack of dirt.  But I think the gardening gods are on my side, because the "dirt guy" drove through the neighborhood yesterday, taking orders and will be delivering a bag sometime next week.  Keep your fingers crossed!
    7. Read:  Thanks to Amazon's Kindle for PC app, I am still reading a book a month.  Sometimes even two.  My only complaint is that I have to be sitting in an upright position, which can get a little uncomfortable.  But I've solved that problem.  I just ordered my very own Kindle.  I just hope it gets to my sister-in-law's house before she leaves, so she can bring it with her when she comes to visit later this month.  (Please pray that it does!)
    8. Be a better person:  This is something I strive for on a daily basis. 
    Recent events have reinforced my belief in making daily resolutions.  Sayings like "Live each day as if it were your last", "Carpe Diem" and "Don't put off for tomorrow, what you can do today" come to mind.  I don't know about you, but I'm guilty of putting things off for later.  And waiting for the right time to do something special.  Life is too short to not live it to the fullest.  I want to start doing the things I've always wanted.  No more waiting for the right moment.  No more worrying about what others might think of me.  We don't know how long we're going to be in this world, and when my time comes, I don't want to look back at my life and regret not doing or saying something.

    So before I push "Publish", I just want to say thank you to all of you who read and comment on this blog.  You have all made my life that much more special.

    God bless and take care.