The Little Boy Who Couldn't Take a Normal Christmas Photo


Remember The Little Boy Who Never Wanted to go to School?  Well, he's up to his old antics again, but this time he just can't sit still long enough for his mommy to take his picture for the family's Christmas card this year.

Jack is still a seven year old little boy who lives in a small, picturesque Mexican village.  And he's still a very active (and healthy) little boy who loves to play soccer, basketball, baseball, and tazos.   Jack's only problem is that he can't take a normal photograph.  It's not that he doesn't like to have his picture taken, it's just that as soon as a camera is pointed directly at his face, his face starts to twitch and scrunches up into a thousand different poses, preventing him from taking a "normal" photograph.


Jack's mommy knows that "normal" is seriously overrated.  It's just that she's gotten used to Jack's three very photogenic siblings, who rarely ever take a bad photo.

Take Jack's oldest sister, Hope, for example.  She's a seasoned professional at having her picture taken.  As well she should be, especially considering the insane amount of self-portraits she takes every other day in search of the perfect Facebook photo.  One shot and we were done!


Jack's other sister, Ashley, LOVES having her picture taken!


She gets extra cute and playful in front of the camera, giving Jack's mommy lots of great shots from which to choose.


Jack's big brother Nick is just as photogenic as his sisters.  But he's currently suffering from a strange case of teenage separation anxiety, and can't bare to part with his iPod.  So wherever Nick goes, the iPod is sure to be there.  Even in our Christmas photos.


But with Jack, it's a whole other story!


Jack's mommy has to take at least a hundred photographs to get one "normal" shot.


And even then, she doesn't always get what she's hoping for.


But Jack's mommy is an incredibly smart (and beautiful) woman who knows that it's much better to be "unique" than just plain, ol' dull and boring "normal".


Jack's mommy think these photos capture Jack's personality perfectly!

What do you think?


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National Blogging Day of Remembrance



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Tonight, Tonight

I'm obsessing over....

Whether I should ask Santa Claus for a laptop or tablet this year for Christmas.  Not that he's actually going to give me either one of those THIS Christmas, but a girl can dream.


I'm working on...


  • This blog post
  • The Food 'n Flix: Julie & Julia Round-Up for my food blog.
  • Editing the second draft of Hope's 10 page book report.  
  • Making my weekly planner for 2013. 


I'm thinking about...


  • How inviting and warm my bed looks.  
  • How cool it is that I can make the minor headings in this post match my post title. Very, very cool!  



Anticipating...


  • Hope's 15th birthday party this weekend at the ranch.
  • Waking up an hour or two later every morning for two weeks during Christmas vacation.
  • Christmas.


Listening to...


  • Hubby's snoring.  (Our bed is right next to my computer.)  
  • The West Side Story Soundtrack that's been playing in my mind since I wrote the title of this post.



Eating....

It's 10:30pm so it's kind of late to be eating.  But I just finished drinking a cup of coffee, decaf so I'm not up all night, to help keep me warm while I finish up a few things before going to bed.


Wishing....


  • Santa brings me a laptop or tablet for Christmas. 
  • That my loved ones' Christmas wishes come true this year.




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New Addition to the Family

Since it's been a while since I've updated this blog and filled you in on all the details of what's going on in our lives, I think now would be as good a time as any to introduce you to the newest member of our family...Little Miss Lucy Lou Limon.


Our new puppy.  We adopted her 2 months ago.  She's almost 4 months old now.  She is cute as a bug's ear, playful, and pretty darn sweet.  Just don't go near her when she's eating!  What's hers is hers, and no one is going to convince her otherwise.  Besides eating, and playing fetch with the kiddies, Lucy's favorite pastime is sleeping.


We're all crazy about her and feel blessed to have her in our lives.

So now that we're catching up, what's new in your life?


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A December to Remember....



I cannot believe that today is December 1st.

The first day of the last month of 2012.

I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but I love the first day of each month.  To me, the beginning of each month is like celebrating New Year's.  I'm always so full of hope and inspiration, which really helps to get my creative juices flowing.  The beginning of each new month is another chance to do all the things I didn't get to do the previous month, plus new goals I want to accomplish. Not to mention all of the special occasions, like holidays and birthdays, to celebrate.  Of course, things don't always go according to plan, or turn out the way we hoped, but still I can't help but get excited excited anyway and hope for the very best.

Some of the things I'm looking forward to this month: 


  • Christmas.
  • New Year's.
  • Las Posadas.
  • Spending time with the family.
  • Yummy holiday food.
  • The kiddies getting a 2 week vacation from school.
  • Not waking up at 5:30am for those 2 weeks.  

That last one, sounds like heaven to me right now.

Oh! There's one teeny, tiny thing I forgot to mention...  

The biggest and most important celebration that I'm looking forward to this month...Hope's Quinceañera (15th birthday party)! 

Long ago, Hope decided she didn't want a big traditional Quinceñera, with a big, puffy dress, a chambelan, and a waltz.  She's always said she would much rather have a BBQ at the ranch with her family and friends.  And well, since it is her Quinceañera, which is the most important day in a young girl's life, she's going to get her wish.  Next weekend!  

We also have a little something special planned for Hope the day after the party at the ranch, but for now it's a surprise.  I promise I'll share more about it later.     


What are you looking forward to this month?


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What I Want on my Altar de Muertos

lacasadeleslie.com

Dia de Muertos isn't one of those holidays that I've always celebrated.  But with each year that passes, I embrace it more and more.  So much so, that I had planned on building my first Altar de Muertos this year for my grandmother, who passed away in December of last year.  But with my suegra's (mother-in-law's) recent passing, the pain and loss is still too fresh for us and I couldn't bring myself to build an altar for anyone.

Earlier today, we visited El Panteon (cemetery) to take flowers to my suegra, and then walked around to admire all of the beautiful altares, with various ofrendas (offerings) that included items like cigarettes, tequila, beer, and pan dulce (Mexican pastries).   Seeing all of the different ofrendas got me to thinking about what I'd want my family and friends to include in my Altar de Muertos, some 50+ years from now.  So, I've compiled a list...

lacasadeleslie.com

Suggestions for my Altar de Muertos:
(In no particular order)
  • A toy laptop and/or tablet, to represent my love of blogging and social media.
  • A camera, because I'm constantly taking pictures.  My hubby jokes that my camera is glued to my fingers.  
  • An American flag, because no matter how long I've lived in Mexico, I'm still an American girl at heart.
  • A Mexican flag, because I've come to love this beautiful country as my very own. 
  • A cookbook, to represent my love of cooking. 
  • A rolling pin and whisk, because I love to bake.
  • A bottle of Mexican Coca-Cola, because it's my beverage of choice. Glass bottles only, please.  No plastic! 
  • A bottle of red wine, because it's my grown-up beverage of choice.   
  • An eyebrow pencil, because I can leave the house without any make-up on, just not  without putting on my eyebrows first.  
  • A Spanish/English dictionary, to remind everyone that I worked as an ESL teacher.
  • Gerber daisies, because they're my favorite flower.
  • A Jack-O-Lantern, to represent my love of American holidays.
  • A Cow, because it's my favorite animal. 
  • Something leopard print, like maybe a scarf, to please my inner Peggy Bundy, who makes most of my wardrobe choices.  
  • Candles: In lieu of the traditional veladoras (candles), I'd prefer vanilla or cinnamon scented candles, because I like things that smell sweet, like dessert.  
  • Food offerings: I'll be happy with pretty much anything, just don't forget to include coffee, chocolate chip cookies, Sabritas adobadas (seasoned potato chips), and Dulce de Calabaza (candied pumpkin).
  • Personal items: Books, movies, and music cd's, because they brought a lot of happiness to my life.  
I know this list probably seems kind of morbid, and in the past, I never would have even considered posting something like this out of fear of jinxing myself, but sometimes I can be a little dark and twisted.  But most of all, I like to think that it's because I've come to accept, appreciate, and really like Dia de Muertos.  

What would you suggest for your Altar de Muertos?

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Celebrating Thanksgiving Every Day in November



Each year for the month of November, I like to count my blessings each day by writing what I am thankful for that day, because I think it's important to be thankful on more than just the fourth Thursday of the month.  It's something I've done for years in my journal.  And in the past years I've done it on Facebook and Twitter.  But this year, I thought it would be fun to keep track of all of the things I am grateful for in one place, here on the blog.

At the end of each day, I will come back to this post to write what I am thankful for.  What are you thankful for today?

30 Days of Thankfulness...

Day 1:
I am thankful that we have a roof over our heads to shelter us from the cold.

Day 2: 
I am thankful for modern-day medicine!  This morning I woke up feeling achy and feverish, with a sore throat and an earache in each ear, and no desire to get out of bed.  But thanks to some cold/flu medicine and antibiotics, I was able to celebrate Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead) with my family.

Day 3:
Today I'm thankful for big, warm, and fuzzy blankets!  I'm still a little under the weather, and with the crisp, chilly weather outside, there is no better feeling than curling up under my big, warm blanket.

Day 4:
I am thankful for the end of Daylight Savings Time!  Here in Mexico, we "fell back" a week before those of you in the US, and I must say that I am loving it!  No more late sleepless nights for me.  By 10:00pm, I can barely keep my eyes open.  And by 10:30pm, this former night-owl is sound asleep.  Zzzzzzz......

Day 5:
Today I'm thankful for a couple of things.  I'm thankful for days that don't go the way I had hoped, even though they wear me out and leave me feeling a little overwhelmed.  But at the end of that bad day, I know I'll have another chance at a better day tomorrow.

I'm also thankful for my job.  It gives me something else to think about besides housework and homework.  I couldn't ask for better students. And I love the fact that I get to drink a glass of wine while on the job.

Day 6:
I'm thankful for my Hubby's sense of humor and his ability to make me laugh over the silliest and simplest thing.

Day 7:
I'm thankful for cups of hot tea, that help soothe and relax me after a busy day of being a wife and mom.

Day 8:
I'm thankful that our truck is still running and that the only problem with it was that it ran out of gas.

Day 9:
I'm thankful for my father-in-law and the time my kiddies get to spend joking and listening to their grandpa's stories.

Day 10: 
I'm thankful for getting to sleep in on Saturday mornings!

Day 11:
I'm thankful for hot showers and coffee.  But I'm most thankful for gas.  Without it, I wouldn't be able to enjoy the first two items mentioned.

Day 12:
I'm thankful for Hubby's shop, which provides us with the means to pay for the roof over our heads, the clothes on our back, and the food in our stomachs.

Day 13:
I'm thankful for my wonderful kiddies and the time we get to spend together.

Day 14:
I'm thankful for care packages filled with goodies from the US.  And I'm thankful for the wonderful friends who are a tremendous blessing in my life.

Day 15: 
I'm thankful Facebook for allowing me to reunite with old friends and family members with whom I had lost contact with.  And I am thankful to have those people back in my life.

Day 16: 
I'm thankful that one of my students is a doctor, who changed my inhaler to something that is really helping with my asthma! YAY for being able to breathe!

To be continued....


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How Leslie Got Her Blogging Groove Back

Once upon a time, in a quaint picturesque Mexican pueblito, lived a fabulous and stunning American housewife named Leslie.  She spent her days cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, chasing after her four little kiddies, and caring for her hardworking Hubby.

Our story begins around the time that Leslie discovered the Internet.  It was a thrilling and somewhat scary world, filled with wonder and lots of helpful information about everything you could possibly imagine.  Leslie was fascinated by it all and spent what little free-time she had searching for recipes and stalking friends on MySpace.

Then one fateful day, Leslie discovered the wonderful world of blogging.  It was a world like none she'd ever seen before.  Regular, every day people, from all walks of life, writing about their lives and experiences and sharing it with the entire world.  Leslie remembered that one of her childhood dreams was to become a writer.  But Leslie was weary of starting a blog, especially after having read so many chain emails warning about the dangers of sharing details about life with total strangers online.  It wasn't until one of her best friends from high school convinced her that starting a blog would be another great way to stalk track down old friends.

Leslie started her first blog, The Limon Family Blog, where she wrote about her life as a wife, mom and expat living in Mexico.  Leslie quickly became so enamored with blogging that she started a second blog where she still shares all of her cooking adventures.  After having blogged for one whole year, Leslie felt like a full-fledged blogger and decided to take things more seriously by purchasing her own domain and renaming it, Motherhood in Mexico.  Leslie continued to blog about her life and family for another two years  

And then one day, Leslie lost that bloggy feeling.  She could no longer muster the words, or the energy to continue blogging about her life, no matter how fascinating it was.  She hoped it was just a phase or a case of Blogger Burnout.  But as the months passed by, Leslie still wasn't feeling like her regular bloggy self.  She tried to push herself to blog anyway, but eventually she realized it was time to make  one of the hardest decisions she's ever had to make...it was time to end her hugely successful blog.

Not even a week had passed after pulling the plug on her blog, when Leslie started to  experience blogging withdrawals.  Leslie panicked and decided to start a new blog, where she would write all of the blog posts she'd ever dreamed of about any topic she wanted.  And thus, Leslie Writes It All was born.

Leslie wrote a couple of blog posts, and planned to write even more, but stress from worrying about her daughter's future and education, along with the regular busy-ness of being a full-time stay-at-home wife and mom, Leslie's desire to write was usually pushed to the back burner.  It was pushed so far back that it eventually fell into that big black hole behind the stove, where people forgot it was ever there.

And then tragedy struck.

Leslie's mother-in-law passed away.  This tragic event reminded Leslie how short life was, and got Leslie to thinking about what kind of life she wanted to live.  Leslie didn't want to look back on her life some 60+ years from now, and see that all she ever did was cook and clean, no matter how much she loved to cook.

Leslie thought long and hard about what brought her real joy in life, besides her Hubby and children, and suddenly saw a glimmer of that bloggy spark that had once shone bright for all to see.  Leslie remembered the reasons why she fell in love with blogging in the first place.  It was because she loved to write.  She loved to tell stories.  And she loved that her children and her future grandchildren would have a place to read all about their family's adventures and history and to see what a fascinating woman Leslie really is/was.

So...Leslie has dusted off her old blog posts and has given them a new home, La Casa de Leslie.

Leslie hopes that you'll stop by every now and then for a visit.   Make sure to subscribe to follow by RSS, so you don't miss a single post.

Leslie promises she'll try to stop referring to herself in the third person.






the boy genius


I know every mother in the world thinks her children are the smartest kids to ever walk this planet, but I'm not like most mothers, and all four of my kiddies are really quite brilliant.  Especially my eldest son Nick, who is like boy genius/rocket scientist/something-something-physicist kind of smart.

Of course, I noticed how smart he was as soon as he was born.  By the age of two, he had a rather extensive vocabulary.  But it wasn't until he was in kindergarten that others started to take notice as well.  His teacher would wait to hand him his worksheets until AFTER she finished passing them out to the rest of the class, because when she gave it to him any sooner, he was done by the time she finished handing out all of the worksheets.  Even when he was the last to get his worksheet, he still managed to finish before any of his classmates.  And not only were his answers always correct, his work was always very neat and detailed.  At his kindergarten graduation, he recited a very long poem he memorized in just one week, impressing everyone in attendance that day.  A certain local politician, who was in attendance that day, still talks about that poem every time he sees Nick.

When Nick started first grade, his teacher immediately noticed that there was something different about him, compared to the other kids in his class.  "He likes to think outside of the box, and looks at things from a perspective that most people would never even consider."  (I may be paraphrasing slightly.)  When Nick finished second grade, that same teacher wanted Nick to skip third grade and go straight to fourth grade.  As much as I liked the idea of being the mother of a real-life Doogie Howser, Hubby and I decided that we would just let Nick be a regular kid.

Over the years, Nick's continued academic excellence and intellect continues to amaze me.  And sometimes it even amuses me.

Not too long ago, I walked in on a conversation Nick was having with Hope.  I don't know exactly what they were talking about, but the conversation ended with Nick throwing his hands up in the air and exclaiming, "It was an ISOSCELES triangle!"  Hope just stood there in all her teenage coolness and indifference, looking at her younger brother as if he were from another planet, while Nick was doubled over with uncontrollable laughter.  I didn't understand the joke either, but the way I see it, any kid who can find humor in an isosceles triangle HAS to be some kind of a genius.    

Nick is always asking questions too, and not just about science or whatever other topic he deems interesting at the moment.  One time Nick asked me, "Mom, what's the nicest way to break up with a girl?"  He didn't even have a girlfriend at the time!  He just wanted to know for future reference.

I'm something of a genius myself, so I try to answer any and all questions the kiddies might have as best I can.  If for some reason I don't know the answer, I consult my good friend, Señor Google.

But every once and a while, the kiddies come up with a question that I have no idea how to answer, like the time Nick asked me, "Mom, do you think I'm Einstein reincarnated?"

Where does he come up with this stuff?  

And how do you even begin to respond to a question like that???

I wonder if Einstein's mom went through the same thing with little Albert?





How to register your US-born child as a Mexican citizen (in Mexico)


Did you know that the Mexican constitution states that any child born abroad to Mexican-born parents has the right to Mexican citizenship? It's not mandatory, nor is it necessary to live in Mexico, but it does make enrolling your child in school (in Mexico) much easier.

It's really quite a simple process, you just need the right paperwork.

What you will need:

  • Certified copy of the child's US birth certificate
  • Apostille
  • Notarized translation of the birth certificate and Apostille
  • Mexican-born parent's birth certificate OR copy of Credencial de Elector (voter card)

Important things to know:
  • To obtain an Apostille, you MUST have a certified copy of the US birth certificate!
  • If the birth certificate you have is NOT certified, the Apostille request will be sent back to you. 

In some states, like California, obtaining a certified birth certificate requires the parents or grandparents of the child to pick up the birth certificate.  No one else!  Unless it's the spouse or a sibling over the age of 18.  No friends, cousins, aunts, uncles, or even great-uncles.  If the parents are unable to request a certified copy in person, perhaps due to the fact that they've lived in Mexico for the last 12 years, they can request one by mail, but the application form must be notarized.  If you are outside the US, you can get the application form notarized at the nearest US Consulate.  

With international express mail, the process can be done quickly, but at a cost.  It cost me $20.00 (US Dollars) to have a single piece of paper delivered to Mexico by international express mail and it took a week to get here.  Without express mail, it probably would've taken a few weeks shy of forever! 

If after all that, you still haven't obtained a certified birth certificate to request the Apostille that will allow your child to attend high school, freaketh not.  There is still hope.

If the only birth certificate you have is the copy you were given after your child was born, please know that it is not certified.  But like I said, that's not a problem.  You can send that birth certificate to your local registrar's office (in the US) to have it certified.  Again, you can use either international express or snail mail.  Or better yet, you can hire a lawyer, whose mother will be traveling to the US and will send all of the necessary requests by mail in the US.  US snail mail is still cheaper and faster than some international express mail services.  Once your lawyer's mother has all of the necessary paperwork, she will send it all down with a friend of the family, who is travelling to your small town to visit.  

Your lawyer will make sure everything is in order, then type up the translation, add a couple of signatures and seals, and you are good to go.

Bright and early the next morning, about 9am, take all of the necessary paperwork to the local Registro Civil office.  It shouldn't be too hard to find.  It's somewhere inside the Presidencia Municipal (City Hall).  The attending clerks will look over your paperwork to make sure everything is in order, then ask you to return tomorrow to pick up your child's new Mexican birth certificate and CURP (Mexican equivalent of Social Security card/number).  

Just make sure they understand that your child's name must appear as it does on their US birth certificate.  There is to be no tacking on whatsoever of an extra last name! 

Fast forward 24 hours and voila!  Just like that your child is now a Mexican citizen, with just one last name.  And not a moment too soon.  You still have 24 hours left until the deadline the school gave you to turn it all in.  Phew! 

Registro Civil charges a little less than 100 pesos, per child.  But knowing that your child will be allowed to attend high school for the next 3 years and that your other two US-born kiddies won't have this same problem in the future, is absolutely priceless.   

Any questions? 








  




Hope's First Day of School???

I really tried to take things calmly and just relax that weekend after I wrote my last post, but I'm a worrier by nature, so I spent the entire weekend worrying and stressing about whether or not Hope would get to attend the first day of school.  Our lawyer still hadn't received the Apostille, so Hubby took Hope to the high school that Monday (August 13th) in hopes that she would be able to attend school anyway.

I stayed home anxiously pacing the floors like the madwoman I've become, watching Nick, Ashley and Jack, who slept soundly in their beds because they still had a week left of summer vacation.  I don't think I've ever been so nervous and anxious in my 37 years on this planet.   After what felt like an eternity, but was really only about 20 minutes, Hubby came home with good news...Hope was allowed to attend the first week of school.  

I was ECSTATIC!  But, there was a catch.  If we didn't have the Apostille or Mexican Birth certificate with just one last name by that Friday, Hope would no longer be allowed to attend, and would have to wait until August 2013.

Naturally, more worrying and stressing ensued.

Later that Monday morning, I went to visit our lawyer to see if the Apostille had arrived yet and was disappointed once again.  I was devastated and heartbroken.  And I felt so helpless.  I could feel my daughter's education slipping from my hands.  I was so depressed by it all, I couldn't muster the courage to visit the lawyer the next day, to see if the Apostille had arrived in another packet of papers he was expecting from the US.  Hubby went in my place and as much as I have tried to hope for the best in this whole situation, I was bracing myself for the worst.  Part of me didn't want to answer the phone when Hubby called, but I did anyway, because I'm a grown-up and I had to face the music sooner or later.

I get choked up just thinking about what happened next.  Mostly because I had lost all hope and faith.  Because through every hurdle and obstacle we've faced, we'd always encounter a bigger obstacle to overcome, and I finally reached the point where I knew better than to believe it would ever be any different.

The first words out of Hubby's mouth when I answered the phone were, "It's here!"  I was stunned and in shock and couldn't believe that the moment we spent the last couple of months waiting for was finally here.  I burst into tears of overwhelming joy and happiness because my daughter would be able to continue with her education.  That was after all the sole purpose of this very long journey, no matter the stress or obstacles.

Later that afternoon, we went back to the lawyer's to pick up the Apostille and translation.  Then bright and early, Wednesday morning we dropped off all the paperwork at the Registro Civil (Civil Registry) and were told to come back at 10am the next day to pick up Hope's Mexican birth certificate with just ONE last name and her CURP (it's like a Mexican Social Security card/number).  By 11am Thursday morning, all the paperwork had been delivered to the high school and Hope's education secured.

A huge weight had been lifted from our shoulders and it felt like the Heavens had opened up and a choir of angels was singing "Hallelujah".  Again, I cried, because it had been a very long and winding road to get to this point.  In the end, all the pain, heartache, sleepless nights, and stress was all worth it. And we are all stronger for having gone through it.

But the best thing of all, is that Hope gets to attend high school.

When did I get old enough to be the mother of a high school student?




on pins and needles...

This time of year usually finds me giddy with excitement, buying new backpacks, shoes and  uniforms.  Stocking up on notebooks, pencils, and every other shiny school supply that catches my eye.  But not this year.  I'm nowhere nearly as excited as I should be.   All because of two last names and the uncertainty of whether or not my eldest daughter Hope will be able to attend high school this fall, which actually starts this Monday (Aug. 13th).

Long story short....
Here in Mexico, it's customary for Mexican-born parent(s) to register (as Mexican citizens) their children who were born abroad so that they can have dual citizenship.  It's rarely ever been a problem.  BUT....as is the Mexican custom, when those children born in the U.S. only had one last name on their birth certificate, Registro Civil (Civil Registry) would add the mother's last name to the child's, because no one in Mexico can have just one last name.  But as of last year, that custom has become a big pain in the neck.  Kids born abroad and registered in Mexico, should only have one last name, or however it appears on their American birth certificate.  If the last names on the Mexican certificate don't match those on the original American birth certificate, it's pretty much null and void, all because of that darn second last name that was tacked on by the Registro Civil.  If that child hopes to attend high school, any and all paperwork, including official school certificates, CURP (which is kinda like the Mexican social security card), and the incorrect Mexican birth certificate, need to be corrected to reflect the last name on the original birth certificate, not the two last names Registro Civil decided to give the child.

If you know anything about getting paperwork done in Mexico, then you know it's not an easy feat.  To have the official documents corrected, one must have a certified birth certificate (which isn't the one you were issued when your child was born) with an Apostille, and a notarized translation.

We've been able to correct almost everything, but we still have to obtain a Mexican birth certificate with just one last name, if we want Hope to attend high school as a Mexican citizen.  We're just waiting for the Apostille to arrive.

Hope could attend the high school as an American citizen, but each year she/we will be required to pay between 7 and 8 thousand pesos per school year, as opposed to the couple of hundred pesos the Mexican citizen students have to pay.  If Hope wants to attend college, she will also have to do so as an American citizen, because that's how she attended high school, and she'll/we'll be required to pay somewhere in the tens of thousands of pesos per semester, depending on the school and major.  But we'd still need the Apostille as a way to certify that the American birth certificate we submitted is the real deal.

If Hope were to attend this year as an American citizen, she'll have to attend as an American for the 3 years she's in high school.  If, like us, you were thinking that Hope could attend the first year or semester as an American citizen, then switch to being a Mexican citizen once all the paperwork has been corrected...No can do!  She'd have to repeat the first year.  No changing paperwork at all, at any time!

The last couple of months have been very stressful for all of us, especially for me and Hubby.  It's what I think about all day, every day.  And it's what keeps me awake every night until 2 or 3 in the morning, when my brain is too exhausted to think anymore. The uncertainty is what's really killing me.  Because without the Apostille, Hope won't be allowed to attend school at all!  And she'll have to wait until next year to reapply.

I've tried to remain positive and think that everything will work out.  But D-day is upon us!  School starts on Monday for first year high school students.  I hope and pray with all my might that our lawyer is right and that the Apostille will arrive on Monday.   We've fought and worked so hard.  I'm not ready to give up hope.

To be continued....






(P.S.)  In case you're wondering, we're having all of Ashley & Nick's paperwork corrected as well, so when it's time to enroll them in high school, we won't have this problem.

The Half-Naked Housewife



My grandmother warned me that this day would come.  Back then, I was a know-it-all teenager who couldn't imagine ever doing something so potentially embarrassing, even if it was in the privacy of my own home.  But this week, I've come to realize two things:

  1. Gramm was right about everything!  
  2. There's a reason why people say, "Never say never."  

I grew up in sunny southern California, where during the summertime the temperatures would rise to over 100F.   It was so hot, my mom would attempt to fry an egg on our sidewalk every summer just to prove that living in SoCal in the summer was like living on the surface of the sun.  I wasn't phased by the heat at all.  I wore tank tops and short-shorts and drank tall glasses of iced tea and frosty cans of Pepsi all day to stay cool.  Gramm on the other hand, hated the heat.  She started to sweat from the moment she got up at 6am and kept sweating until she fell asleep watching the nightly news at 10.

Because we had air conditioning and a fan in our little trailer, and because I rarely ever broke into a sweat, I didn't understand why Gramm was always sweating and thought it kind of gross.  All morning long, Gramm would splash her face with cold water and wrap a cold dish rag around her neck to try to cool down.   But by noon, she just couldn't take it anymore.  So...she'd rip off her blouse and continue to finish her housework in nothing but her bra and dress slacks.

I was absolutely mortified!  "Gramm, please put your shirt back on!  What if one of our neighbors sees you?  Or worse yet, what if one of my friends stop by for a visit?"  I was sure I would die of sheer embarrassment.

"Ay, m'ija!  This is my house.  I can walk around in my bra if I want to.  You're still young and don't understand these things.  But just wait until your a little older.  One day you'll be so hot that you won't even be able to wear clothes and will decide that cleaning house in your bra is the only way to stay cool."

Yeah, whatever!  I knew Gramm had no idea what she was talking about and I swore I'd NEVER do something that was sure to embarrass my kids, like clean the house in my bra.

Fast forward to some twenty years later...

May is the hottest month of the year here in Mexico.  I haven't stopped sweating since Mother's Day.   No amount of ice water is ever enough to quench my thirst or help me cool down.  And clothes just make it worse.  They're clingy and make me feel even more miserable.  Especially pants.   The only clothes I can tolerate are summer dresses.

This last week really has been one of the hottest.  EVER!   It's too hot to sleep.  Too hot to cook.  And too hot to clean.  But...someone has to do it.  (That someone being me.)  When it came time to mop the house, I couldn't take it anymore.  It was too hot.  I was drenched in sweat from head to toe and my dress was clinging to all the wrong places, making it extremely difficult to move around.  It was at that very moment that I knew there was only one way I was going to be able to get the job done.  I set aside my mop for just a second, and ripped my dress right off and then continued to mop my entire house in just my black lace bra and matching half slip.  And I didn't care if anyone saw me.

I felt glorious and free and kind of sexy all at the same time.  I was so happy to finally have found some kind of relief from the intense heat that I refused to put my dress back on until I finished cleaning up after lunch.

And I liked it so much that I'm already planning on doing the same thing tomorrow.  (If the heat continues.)

If Gramm could see me now, I'm sure she'd be laughing out loud saying, "I told you so, m'ija!"







a princess by any other name....



I have been married to my Prince Charming for 17 years, and up until now we've lived happily ever after in this land far, far away.  Our castle isn't all that big, and we don't have any royal servants, so I'm forced to clean the castle AND take care of my own kids, all by myself, while the prince is out "ruling" our kingdom.  I'm not complaining, but sometimes I wonder what my life would be like had I been one of those princesses from the other side of the tracks over in the Land of Disney.

Growing up, Cinderella was always my favorite.  Like any good rags-to-riches fairytale romance, she had a heart of gold and was always willing to help others, even though she had to deal with her evil step-mother and her aesthetically challenged step-sisters, before being swept away by her prince.  I want to be rescued from a life of scrubbing floors as much as the next princess, but what I don't understand is how she can still associate with those furry little rodents?  I've encountered quite a few rats and mice in my castle and it's never been a pleasant experience.

I think it might be fun to be Jasmine, daughter of a sultan and married to that bad-boy-turned-prince, Aladdin.  But I heard through the royal grapevine that Aladdin pays more attention to that flying carpet of his, than he does to Jasmine.  And he's always out monkeying around with his boys, Abu and Genie.

Belle is another of my favorite princesses.  She has beauty and brains.  And she's not afraid to get a little dirty.  But poor thing, all she does nowadays is read.  Beast never wants to leave the castle.  He still has some unresolved traumas from that magic spell he was under.

I don't think I could ever be Ariel.  I like swimming in the ocean and all, and I'm sure my Prince Charming would be more than appreciative of my fine tail.  But, HELLO!  Human skin starts to wrinkle after 10 minutes in the water!  Can you imagine how wrinkly I would be from the waist up if I were to attend a family dinner with King Triton and my sisters under the sea?  No, thank you!

I wouldn't mind being Snow White, though.  She is the apple of Prince Charming's eye.  He dotes on her every whim.  And the seven dwarfs absolutely adore her.  I bet they never ask her to help find their missing socks.

But if I had to choose one Disney princess to live the rest of my life as, I would pick Sleeping Beauty.   That girl gets plenty of beauty sleep!  And she doesn't have to lift a finger around the castle, because she's got THREE fairy godmothers to take care of everything for her.

Now, that's my idea of living "happily ever after"!







*This post was inspired by Mama Kat's Pretty Much World Famous Writer's Workshop.  I chose prompt # 4:  If you had to choose a Disney princess to live the rest of your life as…which princess would you choose and why? 






Sleepless in Mexico

Hi!  My name is Leslie.  I am a night owl.

I can never fall asleep before midnight, even knowing that I have to wake up just a few hours later to start my day all over again.

I didn't always used to be like this.  Believe it or not, there used to be a time when I thought going to sleep at 10:30 was really late.   And I couldn't stand to be the last one to fall asleep.  But somewhere along the line, things changed.  

According to my journals, I started staying up late about 6 years ago.  Back then I thought it was just insomnia, but now I'm not so sure.

Some might blame it on the caffeine I consume in coffee, Mexican Coca-Cola, and iced tea.  But the times that I've given up my favorite caffeinated beverages for Lent, my "problem" persisted for the 40+ days.

Others might blame it on the computer.  I'll admit that it is quite the distraction, keeping me up late at night, like tonight.  But back when my problem started, I didn't even have a computer.  And it's not always the computer that keeps me awake.  Some times it's a movie or TV show that I've been wanting to watch, or a good book that I just can't put down.  Or maybe it's something crafty that I'm working on.  And in the cold winter months, it's watching over a very sick Nick that keeps me awake at night.

Then there are those nights where I try to force myself to go to sleep early.  (By early, I mean 10 - 10:30.)  I lay down, but spend the next couple of hours tossing and turning with a million thoughts racing through my head.  I've tried counting sheep.  Drinking chamomile tea and/or warm milk.  Breathing and relaxation exercises.  And forgoing my afternoon nap.  But still, I don't end up falling asleep until after midnight.

The more I try to figure out why I stay up so late every night, the more I'm convinced it has something to do with the fact that the late-night hours are the only hours of the day I have completely to myself.

Whoa!  Wait a minute!  That actually makes sense to me.  I could really be on to something here.  But it's late and I'm beat.  I think I'll just sleep on it.        
 

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*This post was inspired by one of the many writing prompts from Mama Kat's World Famous Writer's Workshop.  

Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda's!

The other day, Hubby and I were talking about how different our lives now compared to when we first moved here 11 years ago.  Then Hubby asked me a couple of questions that got me thinking:

  1. If you had to do it all over again, would you?
  2. What changes would you make (if you had to do it all over again)?

To answer Hubby's second question, yes, there are a few things I would change.  I like to call them my Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda's.

Shoulda's:
I should have visited Yahualica at least once before making the decision to move down here.  It might have made it easier for me to adjust, had I visited to get an idea of what I was getting myself into.  But then again, if I had visited, I might never have moved to Mexico.

I should have left the kiddies' collection of Disney VHS movies and brought my cookbooks to Mexico.  Who knew DVD's would actually catch on?!  And what am I going to do with that box full of VHS tapes that I have stored away?

Woulda's:
I would have had more fun.

I would have spent more time acting like a tourist in our small town, going out and about, exploring and travelling to surrounding pueblos and ranchitos and having fun.  But instead we settled into the two upstairs bedrooms of my suegros' home, Hubby opened the upholstery shop our second week here, and I turned into a Mexican housewife, mopping and doing laundry the old-fashioned way.

I wouldn't have cried myself to sleep every night for the first six months.

I would have enjoyed life more.

Coulda's:
I could have decided not to move to Mexico and continued to live my comfortable life in the States.   But had I stayed...I might never have known the joy and happiness that these two little cuties bring to my life.  Because had we stayed in the U.S. we might have decided to have another child, someday.  Maybe!  But we would have definitely stopped after baby #3.



So...to answer Hubby's first question about whether or not I would do it all over again?  The answer is YES!

What about you, my fellow expats?  What are your Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda's?  Would you do it all over again?


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Happy Mother's Day

Because I know that most of you who read this blog celebrate Mother's Day today, I want to wish you all a very happy day.

Even though I already celebrated Mother's Day earlier this week, I will be celebrating again today by remembering my two moms (who are no longer with me): my mother and my beloved grandma.

Gramms, my mom, & me (1979)

Happy Mother's Day!
Feliz Día de las Madres! 


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Mother's Day Festival 2012

On Thursday, we celebrated Mother's Day here in Mexico.  My kiddies all had the day off from school, because most of their teachers are moms who deserve the day off from work, and also because we have another extremely long holiday weekend in honor of both Mother's Day and Teacher's Day (May 15).  (The kiddies don't go back to school until next Wednesday!)  However, we all did have to go to school today for an hour or so, to attend the big Mother's Day festival.

As usual, there were traditional dance numbers like the Jarabe Tapatio, and timeless, heartfelt songs like Señora, Señora and Mamá Hoy Quiero Decir Te Amo, that bring us moms to tears year after year.  


There were two numbers that really stole the show.  (In my honest, humble, and unbiased opinion.)  The first is this traditional dance number performed with machetes, by a couple of Nick's classmates, who also happen to be his best friends.  I think they did a very impressive job of dancing with their machetes.




But my favorite number of all was the one performed by Ashley's 4th grade class.  (Again, I'm completely unbiased.)  They performed the popular children's classic Los Padres de San Francisco



Such a cute little number that I just had to share.


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Mother's Day 2012

Last year for Mother's Day, the men and kiddies in the family decided to take all of us moms out to dinner to celebrate our day.  We had so much fun last year, that we did it again this year.  Here are a few pics from our get together tonight.

From left to right: Hubby's aunt & her husband,  my suegra (MIL) and suegro (FIL)


Hubby's maternal grandmother

We had dinner at Gabacho's, a pizzeria here in town, where we dined on everything from salad and steaks to pizzas and hamburgers.  The waitress mixed up a couple of orders, but that's to be expected when serving a party of 23.



And then we toasted to all of the wonderful moms in our lives.  (The kiddies had non-alcoholic beverages.) 

From right to left: Nick and one of my nephews enjoying their Pink Panthers

Ashley & Jack LOVE piña coladas


Hope drinking lemonade & Hubby drinking a margarita


For those of you moms who celebrated Mother's Day today, I hope you had a lovely day.  (((Hugs!)))

Salud! (Cheers!)


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