Mi Mexico Monday: Just outside my front door

I really wasn't sure what part of Mi Mexico to share with you today.  I spent most of last week in bed and never left the house.  That's when I realized that I don't always have to leave the house to show you Mi Mexico, I can show you what comes to my door.

All day long, there is something to buy right outside my door.  Morning, noon and early evenings.  Today we're going to focus on the food.

Our mornings begin with a distant call that can be heard a couple of blocks away.  "Alli viene el pollo.  De a kilo, medio kilo, tres cuartos y pollo entero."  That would be Chicken Man.  He rides around town, on his bicycle, balancing two large, plastic paint buckets full of fresh chicken.  (And by fresh, I mean that the chickens were still clucking around his yard the day before.)  

As the morning continues, we are visited by vendors selling nopales (cactus), corn (uncooked), guavas, tepecamotes and one of my personal favorites, camotes (yams).  Doña Maria (not the one from my local tiendita) is the cutest little lady.  She pushes around a large cart filled with her delicious candied yams and sweet potatoes, along with other sweets including, Dulce de Guayaba, Alfajores and Cocadas (macaroons).

If I missed Chicken Man earlier, there's no need to worry.  Doña Josefina, my chicken lady, stops by mid-morning in her adorable John Deere golf cart.


At around noon, which isn't our lunch time, we are visited by Chuy Nieves.  I've written about him before.  He sells delicious homemade ice cream EVERY day, right outside our shop.

That's when the produce trucks drive by.  They sell everything from mangoes and avocadoes to watermelon and tomatoes.  It depends on the what fruits and veggies are in season.  Today they were selling pineapples.  I bought these three beauties for 15 pesos.  (A little more than a dollar.)  


And they even threw in this sweet mamey.



Just before we sit down to eat lunch, we hear the catchy tune of Pan Pan Americano.  It's the Bread Car!



One of the local bakers drives around town selling his freshly baked Mexican pastries.  Mmmm! 



The afternoon brings more of the same: paleteros (popsicle vendors), cooked elotes (corn) and sweet cornbread.  But the highlight of the kiddies afternoon is El Señor Viejito (a kind way of saying old man).  He sells just about everything a kid could want: candy, ice cream and toys!


To end the day, our last visit is usually from La Guëra with her pot of tamales.  Tamales delivered right to my door.  (Sorry for the horrible pic.  I haven't figured out how to take nighttime pics with Nick's DSi.)


I've showed you mine, now it's time for you to show me yours!



Things I miss from the U.S.A.

I've lived in Mexico too long!

It used to be that when people asked me, "What do you miss from the USA?", I could rattle off a Top 10 list in seconds.  But now that I've lived here for ten years, it's gotten much harder.  I even had to ask Hubby for his input, because what I mostly miss is food.

Things I miss from the States: (in no particular order)

Friends and family:  Obvio!  I miss seeing and interacting with my friends and family on a regular basis.  Thanks to Facebook, email and this blog, I still feel like I'm a part of their lives, as they are a part of mine.  But I still miss them.   

Holidays:  If there's one thing you've learned about me, it's that I absolutely love holidays.  You name it -- Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Easter -- I've celebrated them all.  Before I moved to Mexico, I used to send out cards for EVERY holiday, including Groundhog's Day.  I've tried keeping up the tradition of celebrating all of the holidays here in Mexico, but it's not as easy.  Every year, I notice that it's getting harder and harder for me to find that holiday spirit, especially when no one else is celebrating.   

Classic Movies:  One of my favorite movies is "Some Like It Hot" with Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and my all-time favorite actor, Jack Lemmon (I even named my youngest after him -- Jack Limon!)  Hubby and I used to rent old black and white classics all the time.  But not anymore.  Our local video rental place doesn't have any classic American films.  A real shame if you ask me.        

Bathtubs: As I've said before, most of the older houses in Mexico don't have bathtubs.  While I'm thankful for the fact that our rental home has a nice sized shower and running water, there are days that I wish I could relax in a tub filled with hot water and lots of bubbles.  Sigh!

Craft Shopping:  I really miss being able to walk into a Michael's or a Jo-ann Fabrics to just stare at their wall-to-wall supplies for every craft imaginable.  Especially holiday crafts!  Double Sigh! 

And now onto the good stuff...

Pickles!  I've been here ten years and haven't found a decent pickle yet.  I am able to find those tiny sweet pickles, but I don't care for them that much.  We also have sliced pickles for hamburgers, but the last batch I bought was neon green and pure salt.  No bueno!  What I'd really like is one of those big, juicy, sour pickles.  Yum!

Candy:  Here in Mexico, we have our fair share of candy, including American favorites like Snicker's, Milky Way and M&M's.  We also have a plethora of candies flavored with lime and chile powder.  That's all fine and dandy, because the kiddies love them.  But I miss my American candy classics like Reese's Pieces, Big Hunk, Babe Ruth, Pay Day, Butterfinger...I could go on and on.

Chips:  That's another thing flavored with lots of lime and chile powder...Chips!  I can't eat half of the chips sold here, because they are too spicy.  What I wouldn't give for BBQ or Chili-Cheese flavored Fritos. 

Grape Jelly:  What can I say?  Toast isn't the same without grape jelly.  Sure, we've got strawberry, raspberry, pineapple, apricot and peach.  But my poor kiddies have never eaten a PB&J sandwich with grape jelly.  That to me, is just wrong!

Cookies:  Again, there are plenty of cookies around, including American favorites: Oreo's and Chips Ahoy.  I just wish I could find Nutter Butters and Fig Newtons.  And Hubby wishes we had Twinkies.  According to him, the Mexican counterparts are not even close to being as good as a Hostess Twinkie. 

I think that about does it for my list.  It's getting late and all of this writing about food is making me hungry.

So what do you miss from the States?  Or what do you think you'd miss?

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The family reunion that was never meant to be...

I've raved about how this blog has helped me make new friends.

And I've mentioned how thankful I am to Facebook for helping me reunite with old friends and family members whom I hadn't seen in years. 

But there's one family reunion that I still hope will happen someday. 

My grandparents, who raised me, loved me more than anybody possibly could, but I always felt like something was missing.  I wanted to be like most of my friends who had both their parents in their lives along with grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins.  I had plenty of family on my mom and Gramm's side, but none on my dad's. 

I always wondered what they were like and if they ever thought of me.

So when we finally got internet service, one of the first things I typed into the Google search box was my dad's name.

Google came up with thousands of results, but none were what I was looking for.  Not one to be easily discouraged, I vowed to keep searching.

Two or three times a year, I would conduct the same search, always with the same result. 

In June of last year, just before my dad's birthday, I decided to try to search for my dad on Facebook.  500 million people in the world use Facebook and I hoped that maybe my dad was one of them.

But I didn't find him.

What I did find was a gentleman with the same name, whom I was sure was my paternal grandfather.  I sent him a friend request and included a short message about who I was and asking him if he was the person I was searching for.

He never responded.

So, I turned to Google. 

Again, I found my grandfather.  Sadly, it was his obituary.  He succumbed to cancer in May of 2010.

I was devastated on so many levels.

I hated that I had to learn through Google of his passing.  I mourned for the man I had only met on a couple of occasions.  And my heart ached because I had never been given the chance to get to know my grandfather and be a part of his life.

The obituary mentioned the names of his survivors: his wife, children and grandchildren.  All but one.  My name was nowhere to be found.  I didn't expect it to be, but a part of me hoped that they remembered me.  The obituary linked to a memorial page that included a slide show of old family photographs, including this one of me and my grandfather.


Again, I cried.  I didn't have any pictures of my grandparents and only a handful of photographs of my dad.  To be staring at a picture of me and my grandfather on my computer screen was so surreal.  Suddenly, I was filled with hope that maybe they did remember me. 

I signed the memorial page guest book and included all of my contact information.  And then I waited.  I waited for days, weeks and months for a response that never came.

Not content to just sit on the sidelines waiting for an answer, I turned yet again to Facebook.  Only this time, I was armed with the list of names from Grandpa's obituary.  I sent friend requests and messages to my dad's sister, my grandmother and one of my cousins.

I hoped and prayed that I would finally be reunited with my family. 

Everyday, I watch how Hubby's family interacts with eachother: the laughter, the happiness, the love.  I am blessed to have married into such an amazing family.  I wish I had the same thing with my family.

Months have passed and still no word from anyone.  And it hurts.  They probably don't want anything to do with me.  That's why I haven't heard from them.  But then there's that optimistic, Pollyanna part of me that thinks that maybe they haven't read the messages or seen the friend requests.  I know I've overlooked a couple. 

It's that same optimistic part of me, that paid a couple of bucks to one of those online people searches for my dad's email address.  I know.  I know.  Not one of my best ideas, but I had to try.

I sent a short message, to what I believed to be my dad's email address.  In the email, I asked that whoever received the email to let me know if they were or weren't the person I was looking for.

Again.  No response.

Atleast not at first.  I've received a number of emails from that email address.  Just not the response I hoped for.  All I get is a bunch of links to junk like insurance and medicine.

A cruel and frustrating blow.

That's when I finally realized I should just give up.  I've done all I can do.  If they don't want anything to do with me, then it's their loss.

But wait.  You didn't really think that I was going to give up that easily, did you? 

While the emails I get from my dad's supposed email address are filled with useless spam links, I noticed something at the top of each message.  They aren't only addressed to me.  Each one is addressed to my aunt and a number of relatives. 

WHAT THE HECK???!!!


I thought about it for awhile and decided to give it one more try.  So, earlier this week, I sent a message to my aunt's email address. 

I haven't heard from her.  Probably never will.  And that's okay.

I will always wonder about them.  Wonder if they ever think of me. 

I've really done all that I can.  Now it's up to them. 

I do feel kind of bad for them because they will never get to know what a wonderful person I turned out to be.


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Thankful for the bad days

Be careful what you wish for, even when blogging.

I should have known better than to complain about this winter not being cold enough and not having a good reason to curl up under a warm, fuzzy blanket.  Because the very next day, the temperatures dropped and my allergies started acting up. 

Exactly what the colder weather has to do with my allergies, I do not know.

Allergies are never a good thing. 

Allergies lead to sneezing.  And eventually it all leads to an asthma crisis.

Wheezing.  Coughing.  The inability to walk around my house without feeling completely out of breath. 

Not to mention the headaches that come from a lack of oxygen to the brain.

I've spent the last two days, curled up on the couch with my warm, fuzzy blanket, watching tv, reading and sleeping. 

Speaking of reading, I finally finished "I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence".  Oh my goodness!  This book is hilarious.  If you like to entertain friends at your house for dinner and drinks, but think Martha Stewart is a little stuffy...This is the book for you!  I just wish my bloggy buds lived closer so I could put what I've learned into practice.

Bad asthma days are no fun and have the worst timing.  Like right now.  I would much rather be at my in-law's house, celebrating my suegro's birthday with the rest of the family.

That is how I've spent most of my bad asthma days.  Wishing I could be somewhere else.  Fretting over my coulda-woulda-shoulda's.  And complaining about how unfair life can be.    

But not anymore.  After my last asthma crisis, which was a real doozy, I see things a little differently. 

Now I can say that I'm actually thankful for the bad asthma days.  They're life's little speedbumps that serve as a reminder to take advantage of the good days and always live life to the fullest. 

Birthday Boy


Happy 6th Birthday, Jack! 


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One year ago: Unanswered prayers

My 200th post

We interrupt your regularly scheduled Mi Mexico Monday post, in order to celebrate a joyous occasion...My 200th post! 

I can't believe that I've written 199 blog entries. 

When I started this blog, I had no idea what I was doing or getting myself into.  I didn't even know what I was going to write about.

But as soon as I started, I was completely enamored.

I've written about my family.  Our life in Mexico.  My thoughts.  My hopes and dreams.  And the many milestones along the way.

You've all been there when I've needed you, whether it be to offer an encouraging word or a shoulder to cry on. 

You've even laughed at my jokes.

Thank you all so much for your friendship and letting me be part of your lives. 

And thank you for being part of mine.

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A root by any other name


The "mystery food" from last week's Name That Food, is Cassava.  (Also known as yuca, with one "c", not two.)  In our neck of the woods we call them tepecamotes and/or camotillo

The folks at Wikipedia describe it as a "starchy tuberous root".  I think they're more like long, skinny potatoes.  They have a thin brown skin and white flesh.  The taste is even similar to that of a potato, only slightly sweeter.  My favorite way to eat them is sautéed with chopped tomato and onion.  Hubby and the kiddies love them with salt and lime juice. 

If you're lucky, you might be able to find tepecamotes at your local mercado (market).  But we never buy them.  There's absolutely no fun in that.  Hubby, his brothers and all of the kiddies prefer to hike into the wilderness to search for them. 

Here is a video of their latest adventure, to give you an idea. 



Digging for tepecamotes is a lot of hard work, but well worth it.   
 

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Conversations with a five year old

This is a conversation Jack and I have daily when walking to the store.

"Daddy gave me five pesos."

"Really?  That's a lot of money for a five year old.  What are you going to do with all of that money?"

"Buy chips!  If I had another five pesos, I'd have ten and could buy two bags of chips."

"Si."

"And if I had another ten pesos, I'd have 20."

"Yes, you would."

"What if I had another twenty pesos?  How much would I have then?"

"Forty pesos."

"What if I had twenty plus twenty plus twenty plus twenty plus twenty?  How much money would I have?"

"You'd have a hundred pesos."

"Cool!  How much money does Daddy have?"

"I don't know, sweetheart."

"I think he has sixteen pesos.  What if he had sixteen plus sixteen?  How much is that?"

"Thirty two."

"And if he had another sixteen plus sixteen plus one hundred plus sixteen?"

"A hundred and sixty four."

"And what if he had a hundred plus thirty two plus sixteen plus sixteen plus eighty three thousand?"

"I'm not sure.  How much do you think he'd have?"

"Ninety two thousand, twelve, sixteen thousand and four hundred and fifteen thousand!"

"Wow!"

"Is that a lot of money, mommy?"

"Yep.  Lots and lots of money."

"Mommy?"

"What, mijo?"

"I love you."

"I love you too, chiquito."

 And I love our conversations. 


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Where are you, Winter?

Something about this Winter is really bothering me.

But not for the reasons you might think.

While the kiddies were on Christmas break, we experienced a couple of cold days.

On what I consider to be the coldest day this winter, the temperatures dropped to a low 3 degrees.  Celsius.  We don't do Fahrenheit here in Mexico.  But for those of you that do, 3°C is (according to my cell phone) 37.4°F.

To those of you accustomed to negative degrees Fahrenheit, and mountains of fallen snow, 37.4°F may seem like a walk in the park on a crisp Autumn morning.  But for those of us that live in a much warmer climate, 3°C is FREEZING cold!  And the ice on my truck proves it. 


Houses in Mexico don't have central heating.  And space heaters are considered to be bad for your health.

It got SO cold inside our house during Christmas break, that after lunch, Hubby and I would prefer to sit in our warm truck that had been sitting out in the sun all day.  It was actually pretty nice.  We relaxed in our reclining seats.  Hubby played soccer on Nick's DSi, while I listened to music and checked my email and Facebook all on my Kindle.  The only thing missing was a cup of coffee or hot cocoa.  We'd stay in the truck until we were warm and toasty.

It was also during those cold Winter days that Hubby and I vowed that this would be the year that we would buy a space heater.

Then all of a sudden...

Early mornings weren't as cold.  7°C (44°F) is the norm at 7am.  I no longer need to drape my blanket around me like a cape to keep me warm.  I can go about my morning chores without feeling like my fingers are going to break off like icicles.  And the sun shines so bright at mid-day that if you're outside, you forget that it's the middle of Winter.  So warm in fact, that we've even forgotten that we wanted to buy a heater.

This Winter is turning out to be nothing like last Winter.

Last year, it was so cold that we often had aguanieve (sleet).    Hubby worked with the shop door closed.  The kiddies had a few extra days off from school because of the cold.  Our days were spent curled up on the couch, covered in blankets, sipping champurrado and Mexican hot chocolate, while a big pots of soup simmered on the stove.

It was too cold to do anything else.

So, what is it exactly that is bothering me about this Winter?

It's not cold enough!

Don't get me wrong.  I don't like cold weather.  I spend most of my time complaining about it.

I just wish I had an excuse to snuggle under the blankets all day.

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Extreme Makeover Update

In Desperately Seeking Martha Stewart, I asked for ideas on how to decorate my living room.  I loved all of your suggestions and immediately knew exactly what I wanted the room to look like.  I'm nowhere close to being finished, but I thought you'd like to see where we're at in the Extreme Makeover: Living Room Edition.

To refresh your memory, here is the BEFORE pic of my living room.     


As I just said, I had a clear vision of how my living room was going to look.  This was just before the holidays and I really wanted the house to look nice.  No matter how much I cleaned and decluttered, the house still didn't look clean enough.  The problem was with my walls.  All I could see were the fingerprints, hand smudges, food stains and the mixed media murals from the days when my kiddies thought they were Michelangelo and our house the Sistine Chapel.

Hubby and I re-painted our living room and dining room walls in the same Flame Blue paint.  The fresh coat of paint really made a difference.  The only thing left to paint were the arches.  I no longer wanted the pearl, because it attracted dirt and fingerprints way too easily.  What I wanted was a dark brown/mocha color.  The color palette revolved around an accent tapestry that I wanted for my couch cushions. 

In my mind, it was all going to work. Well, atleast it should have.  But thanks to a mix up at the paint store, instead of mocha, I got caramel.   Not exactly the color I was hoping for.  Not even close.


After a few days, I started getting used to the color.  So much so that I had forgotten what my living room used to look like.   The caramel may not be the color I had hoped for, but it still works with the fabrics I chose for the couches. 

All I have to do now is wait for Hubby to get a little free time so he can start on my couches.

In the meantime, I'm starting to have doubts about what I originally wanted.  Last week, I was debating on whether I should change the caramel to orange or purple.  It would look great with my multi-colored dining room chairs.  But then one of Hubby's customers brought in a gorgeous cow print.  Sigh! 
 

Have I mentioned that I'm crazy about cows?



So now I'm having visions of a country & western theme. Tan faux leather couches.  Cow print cushions.  Cowboy hats and boots.  Cactus.  Pictures of horses and John Wayne on the walls. 

What would Martha Stewart do? 


Mi Mexico Monday: Tacos


One thing my small town doesn't have is American fast food restaurants.  No McDonald's or Burger King here.  Although, we do have a Jack in the Box, but I'll save that story for another day.

What we do have is something much better...taco stands on every corner!

Our favorite is at the end of our block, right across the street from Doña Mary's store.
 

Tacos El Cuchas is owned and operated by Hubby's Tio (uncle) Miguel and his wife, Victoria.  They have been in the taco business for more than thirty years. 


Tacos El Cuchas serves only the freshest ingredients and a wide variety of tasty tacos.  Simple favorites such as Bistec (steak), Adobada (chili marinated pork) and Chorizo.  For those of you adventurous, Andrew Zimmern types, I recommend more exotic delicacies such as Cesos (brains), Pepena (intestines), Lengua (tongue), Ubre (udder) and Cabeza (cow head), where you find my absolute favorite, Cachete (cheek).  If you're really lucky, you might even find Tacos de Ojo (eye tacos).  I hear their quite delicious.


The tacos are made to order.  Once your meat of choice is cooked, it is transferred to a tree trunk chopping block, where it is chopped finely into bite-size pieces. 


Tacos here in Mexico are served in two corn tortillas, instead of those crunchy taco shells that are so popular NOB (North of the border).  But don't forget the toppings!  You can add your choice of chopped onion and cilantro, cooked Peruano beans, shredded cabbage and sliced radishes.  No taco would be complete without the salsas.  You can choose between the very mild green tomatillo salsa, or the extra spicy red tomatillo salsa prepared with Chile de Arbol Yahualica.  (The world's greatest Chile de Arbol.)  And to kick it up a notch, you can top it all off with some caramelized onions and a fire roasted chile pepper.  You know, in case the three alarm salsa isn't packing enough heat for you.    

Mmmmm!  Now that's what I call good eats!


Be sure to join me next Monday for more of Mi Mexico.






(P.S.) In case you're wondering...these tacos are very easy on your wallet!  Doesn't get much better at 5 pesos per taco.  That's about 40 cents (U.S.).  We're able to feed our family of six with 5 dollars.

Quiet time...

Ssssshhhhhhh!

Be vewy, vewy quiet!
 
Everyone in the house is sleeping.

Everyone, except for me.

This is my favorite part of the day.  It's my quiet time.  Time to do whatever I want.  Some nights I choose to read a book on my Kindle.  Other nights I might curl up on the couch to watch a movie or one of my favorite TV shows (Glee!).  But for the most part, this is my preferred time to write.

I've tried to write at a more decent hour like early morning or during our 2 hour lunch break.  But there are too many distractions: Hubby, the kiddies, housework, the shop, homework...you get the idea.  Plus, my lunch break is when I read all of my favorite blogs and catch up on email and Facebook.

But if I wait until everyone is asleep, I can enjoy a cup of coffee (decaf), sit in front of my computer and type to my heart's content, with absolutely no interruptions. 

What about you?  What is your favorite time of day?  And just for my bloggy friends, what time of day do you prefer to write?   


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Why I love my Kindle: Reason #4

I have loved to read from the moment I learned to put two syllables together.  I wanted to read everything I could get my hands on.  Library books.  Sunday comics.  The Highlights magazines at the doctor's office.

Getting through the required reading list at school was never a problem for me.  I knew my public library like the back of my hand. 

As I got older, my love for reading continued to grow.  Whenever my grandparents would drive to Mexico, I would visit the library the day before and stock up on books: romance, humor, suspense, history and memoirs.  As soon as I shut the truck door, I'd have my nose in a book.  On those long road trips, I easily read a book a day.  Sometimes two.

Getting married did nothing to hamper my love for reading.  I couldn't wait to have children to pass down my love of books.

I bought a ton of books and kept buying whenever I could.  Of course, this was way before we even thought about moving to Mexico.

When we made the BIG decision and had to pack up our belongings, I cried when I realized that I'd have to leave my books behind.  I gave my cookbooks and children's books to one of my dearest friends who had two little girls at the time.  The others, I gave to my grandmother, my mom and the Salvation Army.

I did manage to stuff about two dozen children's books into our suitcases to read with the kiddies.  But as time passed and the kiddies grew, they grew bored with reading the same stories over and over. 

I purchased a couple of children's books in Spanish for the kids, but they were more like picture books than stories.  I wanted something more age appropriate for my school aged kiddies.  When Hope started elementary school, I was curious to see what books were required reading for kids in Mexico.  But there weren't any!  It's only been in recent years that the teachers have encouraged the kids to read for both their school work and as a means of recreation.

A few years ago, the school opened it's own library and my kiddies began to read whatever books caught their interest.  Most were Goosebumps types of books, but I was just happy that they were reading and starting to really like it.

It wasn't until we finally took the kids to get their library card at la biblioteca (the library) that I noticed that they loved reading as much as I did at their age, especially Hope.  But I still wished they had a bigger (and better) variety of books to choose from. 

Last night, I saw my niece reading Dracula, I thought to myself, "Finally!  Someone's reading something good!  Something I read when I was younger.  Why can't I find those kinds of books for Hope to read?"

Then this morning, while reading my Kindle, I began to wonder if there were books in Spanish for my Kindle.  I immediately checked the Kindle Store and found that there were Spanish language books available, including some of the classics!  Hope's choice for her first Kindle book...Little Women.  She began reading it this afternoon and read for an hour before going to bed. 


I think we're going to need another Kindle! 

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Billy Goat's Grudge (Part 2)

Last year, I told you about the horrible effect a plate of Birria (Stewed Goat) had on my Hubby.

The sounds and images of that night still haunt me.  The guttural moan.  Hubby's body crashing to the ground.  The sight of his naked body lying face down on our bathroom floor.  (Read: Billy Goat's Grudge)

It took me weeks to recover from the fright of seeing Hubby lying motionless on the ground.

I made him promise never to eat Birria again.  We had two little ones at the time and I was too young to be a widow. 

Hubby kept his true to his promise for a few years.

Occasionally we would attend a party where Birria was served, but Hubby always declined a plate, no matter how much he loved it and longed to savor the rich flavor.

Of course, there were those who tried to convince Hubby that no harm would come to him.  Even worse, there were others who tried to convince him that the pain, stomach problems, sweating and fainting were all a small price to pay for such a delectable dish.

Again, Hubby was pretty good at ignoring the convincing arguments.

Until one day, his own mother offered him a plate of Birria for breakfast.

It was her birthday.  How can a son refuse his mother on her birthday?  Besides, I was at home tending to our one year old son and would be none the wiser.

Hubby paused for a moment to reconsider his hasty decision, but the intoxicating aroma of the stewed goat meat, tomatoes and spices proved too much for him.  After the first bite, he wondered how he had denied himself this pleasure for so long? 

In a matter of seconds, Hubby forgot all about that night that he passed out in the bathroom.  He laughed and joked with the rest of the family and enjoyed the delicious meal his mother had served.

Not even thirty minutes had passed, when Hubby glanced at his watch and noticed that it was time to open the shop.  He thanked his mother and bid everyone farewell.

Somewhere in the twenty paces that it takes to get to our house, Hubby had an unsettling feeling in his stomach.  It was barely 9am, in the middle of January and Hubby was sweating like it was a hot afternoon in May.  Hubby was not feeling well.  The sidewalk and street were spinning in circles around him.  He raced to the bathroom, where he spent the next 20 minutes embracing the porcelain throne.  

Hubby was glassy eyed and weak.  My sister-in-law and I helped Hubby to the bed and called the doctor.  By the time he arrived Hubby was unresponsive.  The doctor struggled to find his pulse.  It was faint.  Hubby was very ill and needed an injection to cure him of his intoxication.

What was supposed to be a celebration for my suegra's birthday, turned into a silent vigil.  The family took turns watching over Hubby as his body lie still in our bed.  On more than one occasion, my suegro had to leave the room, because he couldn't bare to the sight of his youngest son lying motionless and unresponsive.

It wasn't until 8 hours later that Hubby began to move and open his eyes.  The doctor checked his vitals, then explained to him what had happened.  The doctor then instructed Hubby to NEVER eat Birria again, because he might not be so lucky the next time.   

Not everyone has such a strong reaction.  Hubby's is an isolated incident.  But the kiddies and I aren't willing to take any chances.  To us, Birria will always be Death on a Plate. 

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A tribute to Gramm



Today (January 12th) was my grandmother's 94th birthday. 

I had hoped to write a post commemorating this special occasion, but the words wouldn't come.

In their place came memories and tears.

My grandmother was always there for me when I needed her.  She loved me unconditionally.  She loved me when my parents decided they no longer did.

She provided me with the home and family I always longed for.

She is my grandmother, my mother and my friend.

Everything I am today is because of her.

I wish I could have been there to celebrate with her.  And in a way I was, thanks to my wonderful Uncle who emailed me pics of her birthday celebration.  

Happy Birthday, Gramm.  I cannot find the words to express how much I love you and how much you mean to me.

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What a difference a day makes!

The kiddies went back to school yesterday. 

With all of my careful planning, making sure school uniforms were ready, lunches packed, backpacks and jackets ready, our first morning back to our "normal" routine ran smoothly, as did most of the day.

What didn't run as smoothly was our nighttime routine. 

No t.v., computer or video games are allowed after 8:30 pm on school nights.  This is when the kiddies have to double check to make sure homework is done, teacher's notes are signed and that everything is ready for morning. 

Then it's time to brush their teeth and be in bed by 9:00 pm.

My kids are pretty good about following their routines.  As soon as their heads hit the pillow, they're fast asleep. 

But what I always forget to remind myself is that the first day back to school is always the hardest.  The kids are so wound up and have so much energy, plus they've gotten accustomed to going to bed an hour later, that getting them to sleep at 9pm is my very own Mission: Impossible.

Last night, I thought my kiddies would never fall asleep. 

At 9:00 pm, they were still running around the house, refusing to go to bed. 

By 9:15pm Hubby convinced the kiddies to crawl into their beds, but they were playing, laughing and squealing like preteen girls at a slumber party. 

At around 9:30 pm, I started to get a little angsty and worry that this was going to be an everyday occurrence.

And just when I thought I was going to have to get tough with them, they were all sleeping soundly.  Looking at their angelic faces as they slept, I forgot all about the terror they caused just minutes before.  Although I was still a little worried that we'd have a repeat performance the following night.

So tonight, I braced myself for the worst. 

And you know what?

No problems whatsoever.  They were all asleep by 9 o'clock! 

Sigh!  The joys of motherhood.


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Mi Mexico Monday: Our shop

I think it only fitting for the second of what I hope will be many Mi Mexico Mondays, that I share with you a place near and dear to my heart...our tapicería (upholstery shop).

When we stepped off of the plane in Guadalajara ten years ago, we had our children in our arms, a couple of suitcases full of clothes and a thousand dollars in Hubby's wallet.

With that money, Hubby hoped to open his own upholstery shop.  He learned the trade when he first arrived in the U.S. and worked in upholstery the nine years he lived there. 

Three days after we arrived, Hubby traveled with his eldest brother and a family friend to Guadalajara, where he purchased a sewing machine, an air compressor, a few tools and an armful of fabric swatches.

A little over a week after our arrival in Mexico, Hubby set up his upholstery shop in my suegra's saguan (entryway), and started on his very first sala (living room set), with my suegro as his ayudante (helper).

Little by little, Hubby's business began to grow and he applied for and received his business license.

There were a few obstacles to overcome.  Most had to do with the difficult and unreliable suppliers and how business is conducted in Mexico.  After several trips and meeting with suppliers in both Guadalajara and Tepatitlan de Morelos, we preferred to do business with the one in Tepa.  The service was reliable, personal and hassle free.  And still is after 10 years.

Shortly after our first month in Mexico, Hubby rented a local (shop).  The new shop was huge and we all worried that we wouldn't have enough work.  But God is good and as word got around town, Hubby had plenty of work to keep him busy.

When the opportunity to rent another local (much closer to home) arose, Hubby jumped at the chance.  Our only concern now, was that the local would be too small and that we might lose some customers with the move and name change.

But nothing could be further from the truth.

In the ten years since Hubby opened his shop, he has maintained a steady flow of business.  I have learned more about upholstery than I ever thought possible and I'm able to help Hubby whenever he needs me.  (Read: Working Woman)

My suegro is still Hubby's right hand man.



But now, even the kiddies lend a helping hand.  It truly is a family business.



Here is just a sample of some of Hubby's handiwork.








So, if you're ever in the neighborhood, stop by for a visit.  I might even be able to get you a discount!

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