Not today, Señor Presidente. I have a headache.

Today started like any other day...

Okay, so it was nothing like any other day.  I woke up with the biggest, most debilitating migraine EVER and left Hubby to take care of getting the kiddies to school, while I went back to bed to nurse my migraine.

I awoke only once for a glass of water and ended up answering an INEGI census on the security/insecurity of Mexico.

Still feeling the effects of the migraine, I returned to my room, in hopes that after another short nap I would be cured of this horrible malady.

I had barely fallen asleep when the phone rang. Figuring that it was Hubby calling to ask if I needed anything while he was picking the kiddies up from school, I got up to answer the phone.   Instead of my Hubby's deep, sexy voice, I was greeted by a woman who said, "Stay on the line for an important message from the President of Mexico."  Then a recording of Felipe Calderon's voice said, "Four years ago, the country..."

I didn't bother listening to the rest of the message, I just hung up the phone.  As soon as I did, Hubby and the kiddies walked in the door and Hubby asked, "Who was that on the phone?"
Me:  Felipe Calderon.

Hubby: Ha ha! No, really who was it?

Me:  Felipe Calderon.

Nick:  Really?  What did he want?

Me:  I don't know.  I hung up on him.

Nick:  WHAT??? Why would you do something like that?  What if he get's mad at us?

Me:  Sweetie, I'm sure the President has more important things to worry about than me hanging up on a recorded message.

(Enter Hope who just arrived from school and notices the worried look on Nick's face.)

Hope:  What's wrong?

Me:  Nothing!

Nick:  Felipe Calderon called and Mom hung up on him.

Hope:  (Laughing uncontrollably)  Mom, stop kidding around and tell Nicky the truth.  Felipe Calderon did not call you.

I explained for the third or fourth time exactly what had happened.  Annoyed, Hope turned to Nick and said, "It's just a recorded message.  Everyone hangs up on those."  Hope's simple explanation was enough for Nick and we all continued on with our day as usual.  But it wasn't the last of this conversation.

Nick and a couple of his classmates were chosen to work on the class bulletin board at school.  They all met at our house this afternoon to do some research online.  For some strange reason, my internet connection kept going out.  I couldn't figure out why, but Nick was sure he knew exactly what the problem was.  "See mom!  I told you the President was going to get mad.  And now he's decided to hit you where it hurts most...he's taken away your internet!"

Ridiculous, right?  Yeah, I thought so too.  But as I was writing this post, my internet connection went out four times!  Coincidence?  I think not! 


Back to School!

We survived the first day of school! 

I still can't get over the fact that my eldest is an 8th grader and will be a TEENAGER in a couple of months.

Nick's now in the 5th grade and Ashley is in 3rd.

And my baby, is in his 2nd (and final) year of Kindergarten.

My babies are growing up so fast!  Where did the time go?


Ready or Not...

I've had 6 weeks to prepare for this day.

I spent the better part of this weekend shopping for backpacks, shoes, uniforms and an insane amount of school supplies.  

All 4 kiddies got a haircut.

This is the BEFORE pic!  (You're going to have to wait for the AFTER pic!)

Backpacks are ready.  Lunches are in the fridge.  Uniforms and shoes have been laid out.  And for the first time in 6 weeks, the kiddies were in bed before 9PM.

All that's left to do is set the alarm clocks, get myself to bed before 10:30 PM, then hope and pray that I can wake up in time to take the kiddies to school! 


It pays to go to school. (Or something like that!)

Our summer fun is quickly coming to an end.  And so begins the Back-to-School whirlwind.  There are school uniforms and shoes to be bought.  Backpacks.  And an endless supply of notebooks, pencils and every school supply imaginable multiplied by four. 

Today, I got the first taste of the Back-to-School madness.

Jr. High registration for returning students was this morning at 9.  So last night, before I went to bed, I gathered everything I might need: Hope's report card, birth certificate and immunization record.  It wasn't really hard to find.  I kept everything in the same folder from last year's registration, including one tiny detail I had forgotten...La Cuota Voluntaria!

Almost every school in Mexico has a Cuota Voluntaria.  It's a "voluntary" payment made each school year for repairs, maintenance and whatever else the school might need.  (Just not a substitute teacher! But we already discussed that over here.)  

The Cuota Voluntaria varies from school to school.  The Kindergarten Cuota is only 150 pesos per year, while the Elementary School Cuota is 250 pesos.  At both schools, parents have until December to pay the Cuota Voluntaria to either the Parent-Teacher Association or the school office, and can do so in weekly or monthly payments. 

But the Junior High Cuota is handled a little differently.  The parents must deposit the money (300 pesos) directly to the school's bank account, then present the receipt at the school for registration.  There's no need for the bank account number, because our town is so small there's only one Junior High and the bank tellers know the account number by heart. 

But don't let the name Cuota Voluntaria fool you.  The word "Voluntaria" is a little misleading.  To me, "Voluntary" means that we can choose to pay it or not.  It's not like it's MANDATORY!  Ah, but it is!  Parents are reminded to pay the Cuota Voluntaria at every school meeting.  Some schools (not the ones my kids attend) will actually withhold a child's report card if the Cuota isn't paid by the end of the school year.  Other schools (again, not the ones my kids attend) won't allow a child to attend school if the Cuota isn't paid at registration. And here I thought it was Voluntaria!

But it's not all bad.  If you're like me, in that you have a large family, these Cuota Voluntarias can add up to a lot of dinero.  I have four kids in three different schools.  And this is actually where the schools are very understanding.  If a parent has more than one child attending the same school, they are only required to pay ONE Cuota Voluntaria!   

And we all know that...A peso saved is a peso earned! 


Married to the man in the magazine...

I am so proud of my Hubby.  I can't sing his praises enough.  He is a wonderful husband, an amazing father and my bestest friend in the whole wide world.  He's sweet, gorgeous, kind, generous, cute, funny and did I mention that he's pretty darn handsome?

And now, he's famous.

A couple of weeks ago, one of the local magazines came to the shop to interview Hubby.  They asked a few simple questions like how many years he's worked in the upholstery biz, where did he learn his craft and what he likes most about his work.

This is a proud wife moment that I just had to share with the rest of you!

(P.S.) I apologize for the grainy picture.  It was the best I could do with my son's Nintendo DSi.  (Click here for the complete explanation.)

What's in a name? (Part Two)

Continuing with yesterday's story...

We are all pretty happy about the shop's name change.  Tapicería El Boy.  Named after our son.  (Our only son at that time.)  Hubby had new business cards and receipts printed up for the shop.  Everything was going smoothly and business was booming.

Since most people knew that we lived 3 houses down from the shop, customers would knock on my in-law's door looking for Hubby when the shop was closed.  Which is very common practice in Small Town, Mexico.

One day, Hubby and my in-laws had to leave for the day.  As did my dentist brother-in-law.  That left me home alone with Hope and Nick, attending to customers and patients. (In case you're new to the blog, my dentist brother-in-law works out of the second floor of my in-law's home.) We had just finished eating lunch when someone knocked on the door.  I figured it was one of my brother-in-law's patients who was late for an appointment.    I opened the door and asked the gentleman what he wanted.

The man, who was in his mid 30's asked if El Boy was home.

This simple question completely startled me.  Why was a 35 years old man asking about my 2 year old son?

Being the protective mother that I am, I was very defensive and asked him what he wanted with my son?

The man looked at me almost as shocked as I was, then asked if I was El Boy's mother?  To which I answered, "Yes."

The man, who looked even more confused, shook his head in disbelief and said, "Wow!  You look really good!  You must have been very young when you married.  I never would have guessed that you were his mother."

At this point I was thinking, "Okay Mister, small talk and flattery is nice, but it's not going to get you anywhere near my son!"  But before I could say anything, the man then commented that I must also be El Dentista's (the dentist's) mother.

What??? I was really confused!

I quickly explained to the gentleman, that the dentist was my brother-in-law, NOT my son!  

Then, in a cartoon-like, light bulb moment, we both realized our confusion.

It turns out that the man thought El Boy was my Hubby's nickname.  I quickly explained that it was actually our son's nickname, and then we started laughing all over again at the confusion. 

Never in a million years did it cross our minds that people might think that El Boy was Hubby's nickname.  And now, when someone asks for El Boy, I always make sure to ask, "Which one?"


What's in a name? (A must read before opening your own shop in Mexico.)

My friend Alice from Southern Living (a fellow Mexpat), left a comment on my Working Woman post, asking about the name of Hubby's shop.  Instead of answering her in the comments, I decided to share the story with all of you.

After our first week in Mexico, Hubby went to Guadalajara to purchase the equipment necessary to open his own upholstery shop.  For the first two months, he worked out of my mother-in-law's saguan (entrance/hallway).  When we finally rented a local (shop), the first order of business was to name the shop. 

Most businesses in Mexico have simple names, starting with what kind of business it is.  If it's a butcher shop, it's called a Carniceria followed by the name the owner chooses, usually his own name or a nickname.  Since Hubby's business was an upholstery shop and Hubby's last name is Limon, Tapicería Limon (Limon Upholstery) was born.

Hubby had been working at that local for almost a year, when the tiendita (small store) 3 doors down from my mother-in-law's house closed it's doors.  Later that week, my suegra received a phone call from the owner of the house/tiendita, who lives in the U.S.  She wanted to know if Hubby was interested in renting the shop.  (Not the house.  Just the shop.)  The rent was half the price that Hubby was paying for at the other shop, and it was closer to home, so Hubby could see the kiddies more often.  Of course, it was an offer we couldn't refuse.

During the move, the shop sign suffered a terrible accident and could no longer be used. 

When Hubby went to visit the local cerrajero (welder) about the sign, the welder asked Hubby if he still wanted the name Tapicería Limon.  Hubby pondered the idea for a moment, then told the welder to hold off on the name until after he consulted with his business partner.  (Me!) 

Allow me to let you in on a little secret...Hubby and I NEVER liked the name Tapicería Limon.  We thought it practical, but we didn't like it.  

Our first thought was to name the shop after one of the kids.  (We only had Hope and Nick at the time.)  Tapiceria Hope or Nick didn't really have a nice ring to it.  We then considered using Hubby's nickname, Tapicería Poncho (Poncho is the nickname given to men named Alfonso.)  (Yes, that is Hubby's real name!)

I don't recall exactly who had the idea, but someone suggested that we use Nick's nickname, El Boy (The Niño).  

Tapicería El Boy.

Now that has a nice ring to it!  And we absolutely loved it!  The rest is history.

But our story doesn't end here.  But you'll have to wait until tomorrow to read it!


Working woman...

For months, I've been noticing that I've had to help out in Hubby's upholstery shop more often than usual.  In more than a couple of blog posts, I've mentioned that things have been pretty hectic.  And they haven't showed signs of slowing down.  But today I came to a shocking realization.

Hubby's shop isn't busier...I am!

The reason that I'm helping out more in the shop is that I know a lot more about the upholstery biz than I used to.

Back when Hubby opened his shop, I swept the floors and handed Hubby his tools, like a nurse passes surgical instruments to a surgeon.  Then it was on to loosening and/or tightening screws of car, truck and motorcycle seats.  Soon, I worked my way up to ripping seams and dismantling the seats.

The one thing I refused to attempt was the sewing.  Sure, I knew how to sew using my Grandmother's old Singer.  But Hubby had a big, strong, industrial sewing machine that was extremely intimidating.  I was afraid that I was going to step on the pedal too hard and end up sewing my fingers together.

After plenty of gentle pleading and cajoling, Hubby convinced me to start sewing.  I began by sewing the straight lines for the car seats.  Then I graduated to cushions.  (I'm an expert. Really! Click here to see for yourself!)  Now, I can sew an entire seat cover all by myself.  

Then it came time to learn how to use the big guns.  Staple gun, that is!  I'm pretty handy with a staple gun, if I do say so myself.  Have you seen my dining room chairs?

The only thing I haven't learned how to do is re-upholster couches.  But that day will come.  And when it does, Hubby just might have to change the shop's name from Tapicería "El Boy" to Tapiceria "El Boy y La Gringa"!

Sidewalk Romeo and Juliet...

"O Romeo.  Romeo.  Wherefore art thou Romeo?"

I know exactly where Romeo is.  Every evening, he can be found sitting on my sidewalk, underneath the tree outside my bedroom window, gazing into the eyes of his beloved.

One of my neighbors that lives across the street is a young girl in her mid-teens.  Let's call her Juliet.  Juliet has a young suitor (the aforementioned Romeo) about the same age, who comes to visit her every evening, after they both get off from work.

They spend hours talking, giggling and enjoying each others company.

Young Romeo is a romantic at heart.  He often serenades his fair maiden, by playing classic love songs that we're big hits in the 90's, on his cell phone.  I now know every word to Bryan Adams' "Everything I do", in both English and Spanish.  

Tonight, Romeo played a different tune for his lady before he left...Hermoso Cariño.  (A very romantic song made famous by Vicente Fernandez.)

Over the course of the next 30 minutes, Romeo must have realized that a cell phone could never do justice to such a romantic song.  Because he returned for a few minutes, only to blare the song from his truck's radio.

But even that wasn't enough!

Romeo quickly returned once again, with a couple of friends.  One of which was armed with a guitar and the other with a recorder.  (A flute-like instrument.)  The trio then belted out a live performance of Hermoso Cariño, proving that romance is not dead!  

Everything I know about blogging, I learned in the last 30 days!

On July first, I decided that I was going to challenge myself to write (and post) everyday for the month of July.  I may have missed a day or two.  Or six! maybe I did only write 25 posts instead of 31.  It was a great learning experience and I'm glad I did it. 

I thought the hardest part of this challenge was going to be finding things to write about.  But that wasn't the case at all.   Inspiration is all around.  My Hubby and kiddies are my biggest inspiration.  Conversations with friends, family and even strangers often produce a blogworthy topic.  Pictures and/or household items trigger memories.  So do newspaper headlines.  Even the tiniest detail of your everyday routine.

You might be thinking, "Well, if inspiration is all around why didn't you post every single day?"  I have no other reason than my family.  There is nothing more important to me than my family.  I'm sorry, but I just couldn't miss camping out in the living room with the kiddies, my nephew's birthday party and visiting with my sister-in-law and her family!  

There were plenty of nights when I stayed up past midnight, trying to finish my post for the day.  I wish I could be one of those well-organized bloggers, who has a bunch of posts written days or maybe even weeks in advance.  But alas, I am not.  I am more of a blog when the mood strikes me kind of gal.  And hopefully after this 30-day challenge, the mood will strike more often. 

Another thing I realized is that I want this blog to be a place that makes people happy and brightens their day, because that's just the type of person I am.  Last week was an important first for me, I wrote a post that was meant to be a rant, but could come across as downright depressing.  That night, I laid in bed tossing and turning, debating whether or not I had been too hasty in hitting the "Publish" button.  Something didn't feel right.  So after much debate, I deleted it.  And now I feel much better about myself.

That said, I walk away from this 30-day challenge a more confident blogger.  I am still smitten with this blog.  And I hope you'll stick around to read all that I have left in me to write.