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.        


*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.

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?

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.

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?


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! 


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.


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!)


Wordless Wednesday: Mother's Day

It's moments like this that remind me that EVERY day is Mother's Day.


Me from A to Z

I stumbled upon this cute A to Z questionnaire a couple of months ago on Chronically Vintage and always meant to post my own, but never got around to it.  Well there's no time like the present.

So here is a little more about me from A to Z...

A.  Age:  37
B.  Bed size:  King
C.  Chores that you hate:  All of them!  But if I have to choose just one....folding laundry and putting it away.
D.  Dogs:  I miss my puppy Pingüna SO much!
E.  Essential Start to your day:  COFFEE!!!
F.  Favorite color:  I don't have a favorite.  I LOVE them all!
G.  Gold or Silver:  Silver
H.  Height:  I say 5 foot 6, but I'm really 5 foot 5 and three-quarters!
I.  Instrument: I don't play any instruments.  But I used to play the violin back in grade school.  I always wanted to learn how to play the piano and the guitar, but my grandparents couldn't afford the lessons.
J.  Job title:  Domestic goddess!
K.  Kids:  4 gorgeous kiddies.
L.  Live:  Like every day is your birthday!
M.  Mother's Name:  Brenda
N.  Nicknames:  Güera, Mamá, Honey,
O.  Overnight hospital stays:  6. (That I can remember.)
P.  Pet Peeve:  People who insist on walking on a busy street when there is a nice big sidewalk just a few feet away.  Rude sales/customer service people.  When Spanish/English subtitles in movies are wrong!
Q.  Quote from a movie:  "I'm like a peacock, you gotta let me fly!"
R.  Right or left handed:  Right.  Although I should have been left-handed.
S.  Siblings:  One.  A brother who passed away before I was conceived.
T.  Time you wake up:  6:30am on weekdays and between 8:30 and 9am on weekends.
U.  Underwear: Most days! (Kidding!!!)
V.  Vegetable you hate:  I haven't met a veggie yet that I haven't liked.
W.  What makes you run late:  Making sure everyone else is ready on time.
X.  X-rays you've had:  My teeth, legs, knee, ankles, wrist, arms, ribs, lungs....
Y.  Yummy food that you make:  Absolutely everything!  (In my humble opinion.)
Z.  Zoo animal:  Zebras and giraffes.

Now it's your turn!


Dry Spell

I really hope rain season starts soon.  And when it does, I hope we get copious amounts of rain.

We went to La Presa, our town's reservoir, the other day for a picnic and were shocked to see it's current state.

Before I show you what the presa looks like now,  here is a photo of La Presa back in September of 2009, when it was just one or two rainstorms shy of reaching it's full capacity, .  (Try not to get too distracted by the gorgeous, breathtaking model.)   

And this is what La Presa looks like now.

Shocking isn't it?  In the 11 years I have lived here, I have never seen it this dry.

I've already started to pray for rain.  Now if only I could remember where I left my rain-dance costume.  


Happy Days are Here Again...

There is one upsides to the stuffy, unbearable heat we've been having recently...

Pitaya season is here!  (Happy dance!)

They're a little more expensive than in years past, costing 5 or 6 pesos each, but they are worth every peso!   So sweet and refreshing!

Pitayas make the hottest month of the year a little more bearable.

(Happy sigh!)    


For more information about this amazing little fruit, be sure to read Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Pitayas!

It's ALIVE!!!

For as long as I can remember, I've always dreamed of having a lush green garden, full of flowers and homegrown veggies and herbs.  But every time I've attempted to start a garden something has gone horribly wrong.  Like the time I was determined to start a raised garden in our back patio.  Our dog and cats dug up everything and used the flower bed as a litter box.

So maybe growing plants from seeds wasn't my thing.  I was sure I'd have better luck with a full-grown plant.  So for Christmas of 2010, I bought a couple of Nochebuenas (Poinsettias).  I watered them.  Sang to them.  And treated them as kindly as I could.  But I don't think they liked me, the heat or lack of direct sunlight and air, because they died in less than 2 weeks.

I tried with different plants, both indoors and outdoors, but they all met with the same fate.  They died at the hands of Leslie, the plant slayer.

Accepting that my thumbs aren't even the palest shade of green has been a hard pill to swallow.  Gardening was my dream.  And although I knew it would never come true, I never completely gave up on my dream.

After I finished painting the living room and Hubby had started work on reupholstering the couches, I mentioned to Hubby that all our living room needed now was a couple of plants.

Hubby looked at me as if to say, "No way!  You've killed every plant we've ever had!"  But what he really said was, "Honey, you know you aren't good with plants.  Maybe we should buy some artificial ones."

But I wasn't hearing it.  Once I have my mind set on something, absolutely nothing will convince me otherwise.  So I tried to convince Hubby, "What if we go to the nursery and explain to them how hot our house gets and that we only have one window?  There has to be some plant, besides a cactus, that can survive and maybe even thrive in these conditions."

Later that morning, we all headed down to the vivero (nursery) that's just down the street from our house.  So many lovely plants and trees to choose from!  I wanted one of everything!  But Hubby shot me a look that said, "Don't even think about it!"  We spent a good 20 minutes talking to the owners of the vivero, explaining exactly what we were looking for.  They walked us around the grounds, pointing out our options.  On our way to the vivero, Hubby and I agreed that we should buy just one plant to start with.  If I could keep it alive for one whole month, we would go back and get another plant.  

The plant we chose is called a Moises.  (I have no idea what it's called in English.)  As soon as we got home, I watered it.  And kept watering it every other day, just like the owners of the vivero suggested.  I was so happy and full of hope.  But after the first couple of days, the leaves looked as if they were starting to wilt.  I was heartbroken.  I couldn't believe that this was happening again.

But I wasn't ready to give up that easily.  This plant HAD to live!  My lifelong dream of having a garden depended on it.  So I started to water my Moises every day.  By the end of the first week, the little white flower had dried completely.  BUT....the green leaves started to perk up.  And before I knew it, new leaves were sprouting, along with a new flower.

It's been a full month and my Moises is still alive!  I don't want to jinx things, but I think this plant is going to survive.

 And maybe one of my thumbs will turn green after all.  


Games Kids Play: Pikachu

There is a new game causing a sensation on all of the playgrounds throughout our small town.  It's a game called Pikachu.  It's named after that cute little yellow Pokemon character, but the game itself has nothing to do with the cartoon or video game.  Pikachu is a combination of Patty Cake and Rock, Scissors, Paper.

To play Pikachu, you start with a round of clapping while singing:
Pica arriba, pica abajo
Pica al lado, pica al otro...
Then you start playing Rock, Scissors, Paper.  But instead of saying "Piedra, papel o tijera", you say "Pi-ka-chu!"  The first player to win a round of Rock, Scissors, Paper gets to pinch the cheek of his opponent.  The first player to win two rounds is the winner.  But before the game ends, the winner grabs his opponent by both cheeks, moving his head around while singing another chorus of:
Pica arriba, pica abajo
Pica al lado, pica al otro..
The game ends when the winner slaps both of his opponent's cheeks.

It's a lot more fun than it sounds.  My kiddies LOVE it!

To give you a better idea of how the game is played, here's a video of my kiddies playing Pikachu!


Día de la Santa Cruz {Construction Worker Day}


There is always something to celebrate here in Mexico.  Between national holidays and local and religious celebrations, there's pretty much something to celebrate every single day.  Especially in May.  Here are just a few of the holidays celebrated this month:

  • May 1:   Día del Trabajo (Mexican Labor Day)
  • May 3:   Día de la Santa Cruz (Day of the Holy Cross) 
  • May 5:   Cinco de Mayo (Anniversary of the Battle of Puebla) (This is NOT Mexican Independence Day!) 
  • May 10: Día de las Madres (Mother's Day)
  • May 15: Día del Maestro (Teacher's Day)
  • May 23: Día del Estudiante (Student's Day) (For teens who are too old to celebrate Día del Niño)
And those are just the ones I remember off the top of my head.  I'm sure I missed a couple.  

As you can see, today is Día de la Santa Cruz.  What many people don't know is that this celebration is also known as Día del Albañil (Construction Worker's Day).

To celebrate their special day, los albañiles get the day off from work, WITH pay!  (Very few people get to take a day off with pay here in Mexico.)  In our small town, it's customary for the owners of the construction sites where these guys are working to host a Carne Asada with lots of beer and tequila, just for their workers.

So ladies, if you've been looking for an excuse to hug that hunky construction worker, today is the day!  Just tell them that it's in honor of El Día del Albañil.  

Muchas felicidades to all of the albañiles (construction workers) on their day!


A Work in Progress....

During my six week absence from this blog, I managed to keep myself busy with little projects here and there.  But there's one BIG project that I'm still working on: redecorating my living room.

Some of you might remember that I started this project a couple years ago in Desperately Seeking Martha Stewart.   The kiddies were still pretty young and going through a Michaelangelo / graffiti artist phase.  The entire house was their canvas.  This was also when they refused to use napkins.  Wiping their smudgy little hands on the walls was a much more effective.  It drove this mamá a little crazy, so I often found myself repainting the walls the same light blue color that clashed with the cement floor tiles.  Then there was the off-white accent wall.  Looking back at it now, I think it looked pretty nice.  But I remember how much of a nightmare it was to try to keep it clean.

That's when I got the brilliant idea to redecorate.  I had tons of ideas.  One of which was to repaint the white accent wall in a dark mocha.  But thanks to a mix-up at the paint store, I ended up with a peanut butter color.  It was no where near what I wanted, but I was determined to "make it work".

Then it was time to move on to the next step in our Extreme Makeover: Living Room Edition.  It should have been an easy enough task, being that Hubby is the best upholstery dude ever.  But we could never agree on a fabric.  I wanted vinyl, he wanted plaid or something else I considered equally hideous.  It also didn't help that every time Hubby worked with a new fabric, I wanted to include it in our design.  Like this cow print that inspired a country western / Bonanza / John Wayne theme.

As the weeks passed by, Hubby and I started to agree with the kiddies who thought the peanut butter color looked more like icky brown poop.  It left us feeling uninspired and we gave up on wanting to make over our living room.

Fast forward to almost a year and a half later, when out of the blue, Hubby mentioned that the walls needed repainting and the couches were in dire need to be reupholstered.  My heart skipped a beat in excitement, but before I let myself get carried away, I told Hubby that I wouldn't mind painting as long as we could get rid of the light blue.  After 8 years of living with the light blue walls, just looking at them made me sick to my stomach.

That's when Hubby turned to me and said the words that every woman, who's about to redecorate, wants to hear....
"You can paint the walls any color you want!"
I was ecstatic and I ran straight to the paint store, where I picked up about a thousand swatches.  I thought I'd have a harder time deciding on a color, especially with so many choices.  But in less than an hour, Hope and I knew exactly how we wanted to redesign our living room.

This is what our living room looked like just a few weeks ago.  Not very different from the pics above.

And this is how it started to look with the Turron and Rustic Red colors we chose.

Once I started painting, Hubby and I ran into a bit of a problem.  I wanted him to reupholster our couches in a dark chocolate vinyl.  But Hubby wanted something totally different.  The fabric he had in mind wasn't all that horrible, and since it is his living room too, I agreed to let him reupholster the couches however he wanted.

Ta-da!!!  What do you think?  Hubby still has to finish the love seat and the ottoman.  And I still have to finish painting the entryway and dining room.   And then we need to add a few decorative accents.  But I think we've made some real progress.


I'm baaaack!

I can't believe it's been a month and half since my last post!  I knew I had taken an extended vacation, but I didn't realize that it had been SIX weeks.  This is the longest I've ever been away from this blog.

Vacation time was nice, but I'm ready to get back to blogging.

I know I've said that before, and then I only write one or two posts a month.  But this time I really mean it.

To help me get back in the habit, I'm going to post every day this month.  Not because I feel like I have to, but because I want to.  I even signed up with NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) on Blogher to help hold me accountable.

I can do this!

I just have to take it one day at a time and hope for the best.