Spanish Friday: Mis Villancicos Favoritos (en Español)

Today I'm participating in Spanish Friday, hosted by my good friend Tracy from Latinaish. Don't read or speak Spanish?  Don't worry!  Just scroll down a bit for the English translation. 

Estoy tan feliz porque ya estamos en diciembre.  Es mi época favorita del año. ¡Me encanta la navidad!  Las luces que adornan las casas, los arboles de navidad, los nacimientos, las pastorelas, y por supuesto toda la comida deliciosa que se prepara durante estas fiestas.  Pero una de las cosas que mas me gusta de esta época del año es la música navideña.  Yo lo podría escuchar todo el año.  (Y casi siempre es lo que canto en la regadera, sin importar si estamos en verano, invierno o primavera.)  Siempre me pone de buen humor. Y por ser que hoy es Spanish Friday, pensé que seria divertido compartir con ustedes mis canciones navideñas favoritas en español.

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Wide Awake

There comes a time in life when you just want to take back every nice word you ever said about certain things.  That moment has come for me today.  If you ever read through my old blog posts, please disregard every word I've ever written about how much I love "falling back" for the end of Daylight Savings.  I am so not feeling the love for it this year.  Sure, I like that it's already light out when the older kiddies have to leave for school at 7am, but that's it.

My biggest problem with "falling back" this year is that it is turning Hubby and me into an old married couple. Yes, I do realize that 19 years of marriage already qualifies us as an old married couple, but this whole "falling back" business has us feeling and acting almost twice our age.

Before "falling back" Hubby and I would go to bed around 10pm.  He'd watch YouTube videos on his cell, while I read a book on my tablet before falling asleep between 10:30 and 11pm.  Hubby would sleep through most of the night, unless the mosquitoes were bothering us or Lucy was barking to be let out, and would wake up at 7 to take Hope and Nick to school. So most of the time he'd get a full 8 hours of sleep.  I on the other hand only need 6 or 7 hours to feel like I got a good night's sleep, so most days I'd wake up sometime between 5 or 6am.  I'd lay in bed with my tablet reading one of my food magazines or catching up on my favorite blogs until it was actually time for me to get up and out of bed (6:30am).

But ever since "falling back" Hubby and I have been going to bed between 8 and 8:30pm almost every night.  By then we've already worked a full day, closed the shop, had dinner with my suegro (father-in-law), and gotten the kiddies' lunches ready for school the next day.  And in case you're wondering why we don't stay up and watch TV like most people do, we don't have cable or even a TV in the house anymore. (It's at my suegro's house, which is where we spend most of our free-time.)  But I digress.

Hubby's lucky that he falls asleep within 10 to 15 minutes of laying down. So if we're going to bed at 8, that means Hubby's fast asleep before 8:30pm.  For the first couple of nights I would tease Hubby about having turned into old man just like his dad, who goes to bed as soon as the sun goes down.  Those first nights after "falling back" I'd manage to stay awake until almost 10 watching Netflix or The Voice.  But then something changed.  What exactly, I'm not sure.  And now all of a sudden, I find myself falling asleep between 8:30 and 9pm, sometimes even earlier.

Now I'm sure some of your are thinking, "Leslie, why are you complaining? The earlier you go to sleep...the more sleep you get!"  I thought the same thing.  But I was wrong!  My internal clock still only needs 6 hours of sleep.  That means I'm wide awake by as early as 2:30 in the morning!  Most mornings I manage to sleep in until about 4am.  But there are rare mornings, like today, when I'm awake at 2:30am.  It's ridiculous!  Who in their right mind wants to be awake that early?!  Especially on days when I don't need to get kiddies ready and out the door for school.  So...I read, I watch videos, and I toss and turn for a couple of hours hoping I go back to sleep, because the clock is telling me it's too early to get up.  But my brain has a mind of it's own. It's had it's 6 hours of sleep.  Once it wakes up, that's it.  It refuses to go back to sleep.  Hubby wakes up at around the same time, because I woke him up with my tossing and turning, but in less than an hour he's asleep again and stays asleep until his alarm clock goes off at 7am (Monday - Friday).

Of course the really bad thing about waking up at 4am is that by the time 8pm rolls around, I'm completely wiped out and ready to call it a night.  And then 6 hours later, I'm wide awake again!   It's a terribly vicious cycle.  I've turned into my grandparents and my suegro.  Early to bed and super early to rise.

All I want to know now is how do I make it stop?!

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Friday Fragments: This, That & The Other

Half-Past Kissin' TimeIt's been awhile since I last participated in a Friday Fragments with Mrs. Fours at Half-Past Kissin' Time. With so much going on right now, I thought this would be a perfect way to share it all in one place.

Halloween 2013

From my Casa to yours...

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Nick as a Mad Scientist & the girls as Monster High dolls

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Jack as a zombie soccer player

Wishing you all a very Happy (and safe) Halloween!


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Café con Leslie: October Favorites

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Welcome friends, to another edition of Café con Leslie.  I'm going to be trying something new for this the last Monday of the month.  It's something I've seen done on a lot of my favorite lifestyle blogs and YouTube vlogs, and I thought it'd be a fun to way to keep track of all the different things I love from month to month.  And I think it fits in well with the Café con Leslie theme, as these are all things I'd talk about with a friend over coffee.

So without further ado, here are a few of my favorite things from this month...

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Books: This month was all about cookbooks for me.  I usually try to limit my cookbook habit to one per month, but this month I went a little crazy.  Even though I'd much rather have the actual cookbook(s) in my hands to flip through and drool over the pages, I prefer to buy the Kindle versions on my tablet (Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1), so I don't have to wait 8 weeks to be able to read them.  The cookbooks I bought this month are Martha Stewart's Cakes, Sprinkles! by Jackie Alpers, Come Home to Supper by Christie Jordan, and my personal favorite Lick the Bowl Good by my friend and fellow food blogger Monica Holland, whose blog (also called Lick the Bowl Good) was one of the first food blogs I ever read.


Music: I'm way behind the times when it comes to music.  I don't listen to the radio, and I don't have cable TV to watch MTV (not that they actually play music anymore), VH1, or Telehit (Mexican music channel).  I don't even have a TV in the house to watch.  So, the way I usually learn about new music is when a friend shares something on Facebook, I read about new albums online, or I hear a song on one of my favorite TV shows I watch online.  Two songs that I'm loving right now, thanks to The Voice (US version: season 5) are Catch My Breath by Kelly Clarkson...




...and Blown Away by Carrie Underwood.




Speaking of The Voice...

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It's my favorite TV show to watch online right now.  Love the Blind Auditions.  Love watching the talented contestants sing their hearts out.  But the 2 biggest reasons why I watch the show are Adam Levine & Blake Shelton. (Swoon!)


Blogs:  Gringo Suelto is a new "expat in Mexico" blog, written by Kim G, a long-time commenter (I'm making that a word!) on many of my favorite Mexpat blogs.  I was thrilled to read (on the Viva Veracruz & Puerto Escondido blog) that Kim now has a blog of his own where he writes about "Boston, Mexico City, and beyond."


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Makeup:  Something I don't think I've talked about here on the blog is makeup.  (Note to my male readers: it's okay if you want to skip over the next 2 paragraphs.  I understand.)  I love playing with makeup.  I'm very girly that way.  I started playing with makeup when I was 4 or 5 years old, and I haven't stopped.  My favorite this month is my Veracruz palette by Bissu (an inexpensive Mexican makeup brand).  I am loving the orange, brown, and gold eyeshadows in the bottom row of the palette.   (I love the blush too!  It's a soft peachy color.  And the black and white eyeshadows are fun to play with.  I'm just not sure what I'm going to do with the dark red eyeshadow.)  I think the colors are just so perfect for fall, and I've been using it almost everyday.


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Nailpolish: Another girly thing I do is paint my nails every week.  My favorite this month has been this rich chocolate brown called Mocha (#53) also by Bissu.   I've paired it with orange, gold, and champagne, and it always looks incredible.   





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Food: The weather here has turned cool and crisp, and that can only mean one thing...Soup season is here!  Time to indulge in all kinds of chilis, chowders, broths, and every other kind of soup imaginable.  While Caldo de Pollo (chicken soup) and Albondigas (meatballs) make regular appearances in my cocina, I've had a thing lately for chilis.  Like this Chorizo Chili that I can't get enough of.  (For those of you interested in the recipe, it's coming soon to the Que Rica Vida website.)

I've also been obsessed with sweet potatoes this month, but you can read more about that in my post about  Sweet Potato Tacos w/ Longaniza.


App: MyFitnessPal - I've used this app off and on for a couple of years, but never for more than 2 or 3 days at a time.  Well this month, with a little push from my BFF Valarie (from This is Life), I've used it more in the last month than I've ever used it before.  MyFitnessPal lets you keep track of the foods you eat and helps you count your calories.  You can set fitness and exercise goals, and it will tell you how many calories you need to consume each day to reach your goals.  So far this month, I've managed to lose 22 pounds this month.  22 pounds!!!  I know it's mostly water weight and that the weight will come off much slower, but still it's 22 pounds and that to me is AWESOME!  I couldn't have done it without this app.


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Miscellaneous: One of my favorite things this month is this Apple Cinnamon scented candle from Glade.  The scent isn't too strong, but it definitely helps set the fall mood.  I love scented candles, but can't always find candles to match the season, so when I saw this candle at our local Farmacia Guadalajara (big Mexican drugstore chain) I grabbed it not even caring how much it cost.  But the scent isn't the only thing I love about this candle.  Hidden inside the candle is some kind of heat sensor light that turns on as soon as the candle is lit.  And it changes colors every few seconds.  It goes from red, to yellow, to green, to blue, to purple, then back to red.  It's super cool and has a soothing, relaxing effect at the end of a long day.  

And that is about it for my first edition of my monthly faves.  Now that I've shown you my October favorites, it's your turn to show/tell me yours.  What have been some of your favorite things this month?


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Feliz Aniversario? #SpanishFriday

This week I'm participating in Spanish Friday, hosted by my good friend Tracy from Latinaish.  I know it's been awhile since I've blogged in Spanish, but I have a photo I've wanted to share since last year, and being that it's in Spanish I figured it would be perfect for Spanish Friday.  Don't read or speak Spanish?  Don't worry!  Just scroll down a bit for the English Translation. 

El martes próximo mi marido y yo celebraremos nuestro decimo noveno aniversario. (O sea, cumpliremos 19 años de casados.)  Tal vez esto suena mal, pero la verdad es que no tengo idea de como festejaremos tan grandioso día porque aun no hemos hecho planes.  Así somos mi marido y yo.  Siempre dejamos detalles como estas para el último momento.  Tampoco estoy segura de si intercambiaremos regalos o no, aparte del ramo de flores que me regala mi marido año tras año, porque ya nos las adelantamos varios regalos hace unas semanas.  


De lo único que si estoy segura es que mis hijos nos preparan un regalo especial.  Siempre lo hacen.  Los niños chiquitos, Jack y Ashley, siempre nos regalan dibujitos, dulces, y muchos besos y abrazos.  Nuestros hijos mayores (Hope y Nick) también nos regalan algo, pero muy a su estilo adolescente.  Aun no se me olvida el regalo del año pasado.  Era una tarjeta, supuestamente de felicitación, que hicieron especialmente para su padre. 


Café con Leslie: First Day of School 2013


Once again it's time for our weekly coffee date.  I'm sorry I missed last week, I got caught up in all the back-to-school madness and ran out of time to post.  And I really didn't feel right posting our Monday chats on a different day of the week.  I'm weird like that.  I promise to try much harder to not miss anymore of our future coffee dates.

As I mentioned earlier, the kiddies all went back to school last Monday.  They couldn't have been happier or more excited, and neither could I.  I've loved all the back-to-school excitement since I was a kid.  And now that I'm a parent, I think I love it even more.  But...just like every other year when the kiddies go back to school I couldn't help but wish I could freeze time, even if for just a little bit, because it's milestones like these that make me realize how big my kids are getting and how fast the years are just zooming on by.

Nick is now an 8th grader.  (He was a 3rd grader when I started blogging.)  


Speaking of 3rd grade, my youngest son Jack is now a 3rd grader.  Wasn't it just last year when my baby boy started 1st grade?  No? Well, it feels that way.  My sweet little princess Ashley is now a 6th grader, which means in just 10 short months she'll be graduating 6th grade and getting ready to start junior high.  Quick, someone pass me a tissue.  Better make it the whole box.


Missing from this year's back-to-school post is my eldest daughter Hope.  She's the only one of my kiddies who didn't go back to school on Monday.  She actually started at her new high school a few days before.  And in what I can only call the biggest #momfail of the year, I forgot to snap her 1st day of school photo.  I was going to snap a SECOND day of school photo the next day, but Hope suggested that I wait a couple of weeks until she has to start wearing her school uniform to give the photo a more "official" look to it.  So stay tuned next week for Hope's very special "Third and a half week of school photo".

Now that the kiddies are back in school and most of the back-to-school madness has passed, I have a few projects around the house that I want to get started on.  Mostly just going though everything and tossing out or donating the items we no longer use.  And depending on how our rental contract renewal negotiations go this week, I'll also be doing some organizing and decorating OR packing everything up to move to a new house.  For the most part I hope it's not the latter.  But then again, I'm open to a new adventure.  We shall see.

So...what have you been up to this week?


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Café con Leslie: The end of summer vacation


Hola!  Welcome to Café con Leslie, a new weekly feature here at La Casa de Leslie.  Think of it as a weekly coffee date with a good friend, where you catch up on all the latest news, gossip, and whatever else is happening in our lives at the moment.  So grab a cup of coffee and let's chat...

Summer vacation has come to an end.   I still can't used to these short summer vacations.  Six weeks is just too short an amount of time.  I miss the good old days when summer vacation lasted almost three months. Of course, back then I was a kid who spent those carefree days hanging out with friends, swimming, reading, working on my tan, and drinking Pepsi.  I don't know how I'd handle it as a parent with four kiddies to entertain for three long months.  Now that I think about it, six weeks isn't that bad.

Most schools in Mexico don't resume until next Monday, but Hope starts at her new high school on Wednesday.  Talk about nerves, excitement, and first day at a new school jitters!  And I'm sure Hope must be feeling the same way.

The kiddies going back to school also means that we'll be returning to a more structured routine.  I couldn't be happier, because I like me some order.  But I'm also a little worried about how I'm going to manage doing the wife and mom thing, laundry and trying to keep my house in order, cooking at my suegro's (father-in-law's) house & cleaning that kitchen, my freelance work, and all those other little things that pop up.   Trying to find a way to juggle it all without letting any of my balls drop, is a daily struggle already as it is.  Add to that all the back-to-school hustle and bustle... I am going to be one busy little mama for the next week and a half.  I'm going to need a lot of coffee.

So tell me...what have you been up to lately?  What's going on in your life?

Thanks so much for sitting down to enjoy a virtual cup of coffee with me.  Don't forget to meet me here next Monday for our coffee date.


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Old School Blogging: 5 Things

This month Old School Blogging is being hosted by Elaine and Alison. They are asking us to tell them five things about us.
5 Things I Have a Passion For:
  1. My family.
  2. Writing.
  3. Cooking.
  4. Uplifting others.
  5. Making people happy. 

5 Things I'd Like to do Before I Die
  1. Use every ounce of talent God has given me.
  2. Figure out what that talent is. 
  3. Write 3 books: a cookbook, a novel, and my memoirs. 
  4. Travel the world.
  5. Celebrate my 50th wedding anniversary with Hubby, our kids, and grandkids.  (Only 31-1/2 years to go!)  

5 Things I Say a Lot

  1. I love you.
  2. Adios. (Because that's how people greet each other in Mexico.) 
  3. Hijos de la chilindrina! 
  4. Honey, I've been thinking.... (I have no idea why these 4 simple little words have the ability to make my Hubby cringe.)  
  5. Awesome! 

5 Books/Magazines I've Read Lately

  1. El Vidente by Paul Feranka (Just started reading it.) 
  2. O magazine
  3. HGTV magazine
  4. Forever, Erma by Erma Bombeck
  5. Bobby Flay's Burgers, Fries & Shakes

5 Favorite Movies

  1. It's a Wonderful Life
  2. When Harry Met Sally
  3. Christmas with the Kranks
  4. Miracle on 34th Street (original) 
  5. The Family Stone

5 Places I'd Like to Travel

  1. Paris
  2. New York City
  3. Tuscany, Italy 
  4. A B&B in Vermont or New Hampshire
  5. Oh, Canada! 

5 People I'd like to tag...
  1. Valarie from This Is Life (Because my BFF hasn't posted in like forever!) 
  2. Jennifer from Life in the Armpit
  3. Nicole from Destination Unknown
  4. Emily from The Real Housewife of Ciudad Juarez
  5. Elizabeth from Hillbilly in Mexico  (Because she really needs to blog more!) 
I hope you join in the old school blogging fun. I would love to learn more about you.

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Pulling the Plug on My Rocky Relationship with My Chromebook

I have a blog post sitting in my drafts folder just waiting to sing the praises of the new Samsung Chromebook I got back in January.  But that post will never see the light of day, because things with my Chromebook started to go downhill almost immediately after I purchased it.

The moment I got things set up on my new Chromebook, it started rebooting itself every three or four minutes.  It would turn itself off and on about 5 or 6 times in a row before it would finally stay on for more than 5 minutes.  But then it failed to connect to my WiFi signal.  So I'd have to turn the Chromebook off yet again.  It then took another 5 or 6 tries to get it to connect to my WiFi signal, which none of my other device (Apple and Android) had a problem doing.  I'm a pretty patient gal so the first few times my Chromebook acted up like that, I gave it all the time it needed to get it's act together.  But then I realized that I was wasting about an hour (each time) just to get the darn thing to stay on.  So not worth my valuable time!

On the rare occasions that my Chromebook would work properly, it handled like a dream.  It was fast and efficient.  I didn't mind that it wasn't compatible with Netflix at the time of purchase, because I didn't need the distraction.  And I was willing to overlook the fact that it wouldn't allow me to claim the free 100GB it promised on Google Drive.  But those instances where my Chromebook worked like a charm were few and far between.

Still I wasn't ready to give up on my Chromebook completely.  I gave it chance after chance after chance.  And time after time I was disappointed.

I thought things were finally going to make a change for the better when Netflix became available for the Chrome OS, but that was just the calm before the storm.  About two weeks later my Chromebook stopped playing Netflix, and I could only get it to connect to my WiFi signal maybe once or twice a week.

I knew we weren't going to last for much longer, so I stopped seeing my Chromebook, except for once a week.  What can I say, I'm an optimist who hoped that one day I would open my Chromebook to find that it had somehow magically fixed itself and would work on the very first try.  But no, that never happened.

I tried to fix things with my Chromebook.  I really did.  I reset the factory settings.  I cleared the caches.  I reported issue after issue.  And I did everything else the Chrome help center said to do.  I have finally reached the point where I want nothing to do with my Chromebook.  All it's ever done is cause me heartache and misery.  So I'm pulling the plug on my Chromebook.  And to quote Taylor Swift, "we are never, ever, ever getting back together!"


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Monday Night Musings

I'm not really a big fan of Mondays.  Unless they're part of a 3 or 4-day weekend.  Then...I love Mondays!  Actually it's more of a love-hate relationship.  For the most part I hate them, but there is one teeny, tiny thing I really love about Mondays.  It's the unofficial first day of our week.  It's when we get a fresh new start to a brand new work week.  It almost feels like New Year's.  (I'm the same way with the first day of each month too!)

At the beginning of every week, I make a list of things I have to do (doctor appointments, parent-teacher conferences, etc), things I want to do (dye my hair, breakfast date w/ Hubby), and goals I have for the week (drink 2 liters of water each day).  It doesn't always have to be big things.  I find it's the little things that make me happiest.   Since I've done a horrible job of keeping up with this blog, I thought I'd share some of the things I'm looking forward to this week.

Tug-of-war (2012 Camping Trip)

  1. It's Holy Week in Mexico, so that means it's time for our annual camping trip!  It's all I've been able to think about.  I love camping!  I know I've mentioned that I used to go camping in the mountains with my grandparents every weekend.  I used to have such a great time when I was a kid.  It makes me so happy that I still get to enjoy camping after all these years, and that the kiddies get to experience some of the same fun. 
  2. I want to redecorate my "office space" in our master bedroom.  Right now it looks just awful.  So dull and boring with both my desktop computer and my Chromebook stacked on my tiny, hideous mini-desk.  Not a very pleasant environment to work in at all.  I want something that is pretty to look at, but I also want something that inspires me, all at the same time.  And I really want to move the desktop computer out of my room, so the kiddies don't stink up the room now that the weather is heating up.  (Trust me on this one.  My room is small and only has one window!)  But first I have to figure out how to install another phone jack so I can move the modem/router/whatchamacallit-thingie along with the desktop.  Until then, I'm perusing Pinterest for decorating ideas.  
  3. I'm really looking forward to finally getting rid of whatever virus has been floating around our house all month.  Jack started with it, but it only lasted a day.  Then Hubby got it for about a week.  Just as Hubby was getting better, Jack got it again.  This time it decided to hang with Jack for about a week.  Then Nick got it for like 3 days.  Then we had a small 3-day window where nobody was sick.  I thought that was the end.  But no!  Nick and Ashley both got sick last week with very high fevers that would not go down, so they ended up missing 3 days of a 4-day school week.  Hope wanted to get sick so she could have a couple extra days off from school, but no matter how much time she spent with her little sister, she did not get sick.  But guess who did get sick?  Me!  It started with an earache.  Then a sore throat.  Then it escalated into a bronchial & ear infection, that felt a lot like walking pneumonia.  My lungs were killing me!  But thanks to some awesome meds this last weekend, I'm all better.  Sore, but no longer sick.  I should be fine by the time we go camping.  And I hope it's the last we see of that darned bug! 
  4. I need to dye my hair!  My roots are showing and they're completely gray!  If I had a peso for every person that's said, "OMG, Leslie! Look at how many canas you have!"   Well, I'd have a whole lot of pesos!  Hopefully, I'll be able to dye my hair BEFORE we go camping this week.  Otherwise, whenever we look back at the photos of this year's camping trip we're all going to wonder, "Who's that viejita (old lady) that went camping with us?"  
  5. Blogging/Writing: At the beginning of the year, I set aside 2 hours each morning (from 10 to 12) to dedicate to writing and blogging.  It was perfect because Hubby was busy working in the shop, while the kiddies were all at school, so I was guaranteed no distractions.  I loved it!  I felt so happy and full of creative energy.   But then I started encroaching on my own writing time to do other things around the house.  And before I knew it, a couple of months had passed since I last sat down to write anything!  I really miss my writing time.  I may not be the greatest writer, and not everything I write gets published here on the blog, but when I write I feel this creative rush, and I feel like I've accomplished something.  As soon as we get back from camping, I'm taking back my writing time!    
  6. Easter!  Because we're usually camping on Easter Sunday, we haven't celebrated a gringo-style Easter in like 4 years.  (Gasp!)  Well, this year it looks like we'll be home on Easter Sunday, so I'm trying to gather up supplies so we can celebrate Easter.  I don't think I'll be able to make Easter baskets, but I do want to dye Easter eggs, and have an Easter egg hunt.  And if I'm not too tired and sore from sleeping on the hard, dirt floor all week, I'll make us a nice Easter dinner.  
  7. Did I mention that we're going camping?  It's all I can think about!  I've got dozens of lists all over the house, on my computer, and on my iPod: Games & activities, groceries, menus, kitchen & baking stuff, bedding, clothes, batteries & flashlights, last minute items, things I can't forget, things I probably will forget, stuff we'll never need or use but I'm taking anyway just in case....  
  8. Coffee!  I love coffee!  I drink a cup (or two) of coffee every morning.  But the cup of coffee I enjoy most is the one I drink while watching the sunrise at the ranch!  I can't wait to wake up and see the pot of water boiling away on an open fire.


Enough about me!  What are you looking forward to this week? 



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Super Bowl Predictions 2013

This time last year I conducted a sophisticated scientific experiment to see if I could predict who would win the Super Bowl.   The results obtained by my team of highly qualified experts weren't the ones we hoped for, but in the end they proved to be completely accurate because the Patriots lost to the Giants.

My team (the Patriots) didn't make it to the Super Bowl this year, but in keeping with tradition, I've dusted off my state-of-the-art technology (the kiddies' PlayStation 2) to find out who will win the big game this year.

Dramatic drum roll, please....


According to my advanced scientific method the winner of this year's Super Bowl will be the San Francisco 49ers.  As a California girl, I couldn't be happier with the results, and see no need to conduct any further experiments.

Will you be watching the game today?  Who do you think will win?







Let's Talk About Sex (Education)...


Can you believe it's the last week of January, already?  Not only is this the last week of the first month of the new year, it's also the last week of Hope's extended Christmas vacation.  One of the perks of being a high school student in Mexico is a two month Christmas vacation.

Last year, I didn't know if Hope was even going to be able to attend high school this school year.  And now she is days away from starting her second semester of 10th grade, where all new books, subjects, and teachers await her.  I never thought we'd get to this point in time.

As thankful that I am that Hope was finally able to attend high school, there was a short period of time when I wasn't sure I wanted Hope to attend high school after all. 

You see, for the first seven weeks of the school year, the 10th graders were only given three subjects to study: Learning Abilities, Science Comprehension, and Human Sexuality.  These subjects would only be covered during those first seven weeks, after which they'd start their regular curriculum with subjects like math and Spanish.  The most memorable of the three subjects was of course Human Sexuality, especially the homework assignments.

I don't consider myself a prude at all.  Sex is a natural, beautiful thing that I'm not afraid to talk about.  I know that someday my sweet, innocent kiddies are going to grow up and have sex.  I've had "the talk" with my older kiddies and answered their questions, honestly and to the best of my ability.  And I'm all for kids these days learning about sexual responsibility, safe sex, birth control and all that good stuff.  I just wasn't prepared for how it was presented to my young, impressionable daughter who was only 14 at the time, unlike most of her classmates who were already 15 and 16 years old.

The first assignment was to watch a documentary called, "Why is sex fun?"  I'm not gonna lie, my first reaction upon leaning about that first assignment was, "Oh hell no!"  I thought a Human Sexuality class was to  educate and inform the kids and teach them to act responsibly, not encourage them to go out and have sex because it's FUN.

I watched the documentary first, to make sure Hope wasn't going to watch porn or something.  Turns out the documentary was more of a scientific explanation of what happens in the brain, our blood stream and the rest of the body at the moment of orgasm.  Not too bad.  But the documentary could use a different title.

Another assignment was to list 10 forms of birth control.  Again, I'm no prude, and a firm believer in safe sex, but come on, we are talking about my 14 year old little girl.  Within seconds I rattled off a list of what I consider to be acceptable forms of birth control:
  1. Birth control pills
  2. Abstinence
  3. Condoms & spermicides
  4. Abstinence
  5. Intrauterine device
  6. Abstinence
  7. Abstinence
  8. Abstinence
  9. Abstinence
  10. Abstinence
Can you blame a mom for trying?  Eventually, I gave Hope a real list of 10 different forms of birth control, that only mentioned abstinence once.

Later that week,  Hope had to write reports on each of the 10 forms of birth control we listed.  I thought that should be a safe enough task since she'd be using Wikipedia as her main source of information.  I was wrong!  Turns out, Wikipedia in español includes some pretty racy (and graphic) photos, illustrations and paintings.  Not exactly what I wanted my child to be looking at.  But I handled it with as much grace as I could muster.

Another assignment was to compile a list of sex toys.  Yes, you read that correctly...SEX TOYS!!!  There was no freakin' way I was going to let Hope Google "sex toys"!  So I gave her a list of the tamest sex toys I could think of, all the while hoping and praying that she didn't ask me how I knew about these things.  Hope must have felt the same way, because all she kept saying while writing the list down was, "Ew! I don't even want to know how or why you know about these things!"

Those seven weeks were filled with assignments regarding every aspect of human sexuality imaginable, that a lot of times pushed me way outside of my comfort zone, especially when it came to explaining it all to my little girl.  But knowledge is power and I just had to keep reminding myself that it's better for her to learn about this stuff now and with the right information.

But there was one assignment that pushed me over the edge.

"Mom, guess what our assignment is for this week?"

"Do I even want to know?"

"Don't worry, it's not bad!  We just have to look through the Kama Sutra and write about 25 sexual positions."

Considering all of the other assignments Hope had brought home in the past 6 weeks, I shouldn't have been as shocked or surprised by this particular assignment.  But I was and it led to one of my Ricky Ricardo-like outbursts...

"Nothing bad?! Oh my freakin' God!!!!  Are you serious??!  What is your teacher thinking?  Is he insane?  Who in there right mind would have a bunch of horny and hormonal teenagers flipping through the Kama Sutra?  No wonder there are so many pregnant teenagers around here!  Is this why I fought so hard to get you into school?  Mira que tiene cosa...."

I marched into the shop and demanded that Hubby drive up to the high school, so we could give the campus coordinator/principal who was teaching the class a piece of our minds.  Hubby was just as ticked off when I filled him in on the details of Hope's homework assignment.  Just as Hubby was about to start the truck, Hope, who was watching us from our front door, burst into uncontrollable laughter.  Evil, doubled over, tears streaming down her face, on the verge of rolling on the floor kind of laughter.  Bwahahahaha!

Hubby and I weren't as amused, but thank goodness she was only joking about that final Human Sexuality assignment.  I'm just glad it's over and I really hope the second semester starts with good old-fashioned subjects like reading, writing, and arithmetic.


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Technical Difficulties...

No need to adjust your computer screens, friends.  In the next few days you might see some of my older posts, originally posted on Motherhood in Mexico, showing up in your blog readers. When I transferred those older blog posts to this new blog, some posts got lost in the process, and I'm doing my best to retrieve them.

Thank you all so much for your patience. And I apologize for any inconvenience.

Update: I found the culprit!  Two and a half months of posts were missing from 2010.  The original files have been found and restored on this new blog.


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Christmas in January {Friday Fragments}

Mommy's IdeaThe Christmas tree, stockings, and felt chimney have all been packed away and put in storage, for a couple of weeks now.  But still, it's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas.  In January.  Exactly one month after the real holiday.

This week, I got a new toy.  The Samsung Chromebook that I've been dreaming about for ages.  My compadre, Nick's godfather/Hubby's brother-in-law, brought it down with him from the States, and Hubby paid for it.  I've had it for two days and I'm really loving it.  (Most of the time.)

I got a new writing gig. (And a paying one at that!)  Signed the contract and sent in all the necessary paperwork yesterday.  (Details to come later, once my first articles are published.  Sometime in early March.)

I have running water and a functioning water pump for the well.   For most of December we didn't have running water, due to problems with the pipes.  Our friendly neighborhood maintenance guy fixed the problem on Christmas Eve.  Giving me running water for about a week.  And then the water pump broke.  We called the water pump guy, but he never showed up.  We called another water pump guy, and he never showed up either.  And then we called yet another water pump guy.  He actually did show up.  But upon further inspection of the water pump, said he'd be right back with the proper tools, and then never returned.  Yesterday at lunch with my visiting sister-in-law, I mentioned my broken water pump and how I had a couple tons of laundry to do, but couldn't wash them because I don't have any running water.  This morning my sister-in-law told Hubby that her hubby, my aforementioned compadre, would be by to fix the water pump later today.  And fixed it is.  I have two tinacos (water storage thingamajigs) full of water and my washing machine is on it's second load of the day, as I write.

Today is Jack's 8th birthday.  My little boy is growing up.  He'll always be my baby because he's the youngest, but the fact of the matter is that he's not a baby anymore.  It breaks my heart that he's growing up so quickly.

And as if all that weren't enough to make me feel like it's Christmas in January, today I received a bunch of Christmas cards in the mail from friends and family.

What have you been up to?


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In pursuit of happiness...

Every year I come up with a long list of New Year's resolutions to make sweeping changes from one day to the next, to rid myself of all my vices and bad habits, only to forget all about them a few short weeks later.  Some years I pretend I'm too cool for New Year's resolutions, but then secretly make a list of resolutions anyway, and then proceed to forget about them about a week or two into the new year.

This year, I've decided to stop torturing myself.  No more New Year's resolutions that I'm never going to keep.  And no more feeling guilty about not keeping them.

For 2013 I'm only going to focus on one word: Happiness.

It's not that I'm unhappy, but the stress and heartbreak of 2012 took its toll on me and my usual happy-go-lucky attitude.  I felt weighed down and overwhelmed.  I lost my joy and forgot what it was to have fun.  I didn't even feel like I was actually living, but just going through the motions.

Well, not anymore!  If there was one thing that 2012 really drove home for me, is that life is too short not to live it happily.

I know I have no control over what may (or may not) happen to us this year, but I can control how I let it affect me.  Whatever it is that 2013 has in store for us, I know eventually we'll get through it.  The key is not to let it steal my joy and happiness, or prevent me from having fun.

What's your word for 2013?


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A look back at 2012...

Because of me closing my old blog and starting a new one and restarting the new blog, there isn't much to share this year in regards to the top posts of 2012, because I didn't do much writing.

So...I'm just going to go ahead and give you a quick, month-by-month view of what 2012 was like for us.

The year 2012 in review...

January:


  • 2012 took off like wildfire. A real wildfire.  In my backyard! On New Year's Day.  Thankfully no one was hurt and our house suffered no damage. 
  • I thought the fire was symbolic of the new year, burning away the old to make way for the new.  But looking back on it now, that fire was clearly an omen of doom.  
  • I was still mourning the loss of my grandmother who passed away in December 2011.  
  • We celebrated Dia de Reyes with the family. 
  • Jack turned 7.  

February:



  • Our puppy Pingüina was killed in a hit-and-run accident.  
  • The kids got lice.  
  • We learned there was a problem with Hope having two last names on all her Mexican paperwork and only one last name on her American birth certificate.  If we didn't have all of her elementary school transcripts corrected, Hope wouldn't get to graduate Junior High.

March:


  • Jack lost his first tooth. 

April:


  • We went on our 3rd Annual Semana Santa camping trip. 

May:


  • We celebrated Mother's Day en familia! 
  • Ashley participated in the Mother's Day festival at school. (Watch video here!
  • We learned that Hope needed a Mexican birth certificate with just one last name to be able to attend high school. 
  • My first request for an Apostille was denied, because the birth certificate I had for Hope wasn't certified. This caused more stress, a panic attack, and hives. 
  • I pulled the plug on my very popular Motherhood in Mexico blog.
  • I started a new blog a week later, in case I got the urge to blog again. (And then I renamed the new blog a couple of months later!) 

June:


  • We celebrated Father's Day. 
  • Hubby participated in his first marathon! 
  • We were told that Hope could attend high school as an American citizen, but would still need an Apostille and would have to pay about 8,000 pesos per semester.  
  • More stress and worry ensued!

July:

Nick & his madrina (godmother),  our cousin Rocio
  • Nick graduated from 6th grade. 
Hope & her padrino (godfather), our law student nephew, Ivan! 
  • Hope graduated from junior high (9th grade).
  • My sis-in-law came to visit from the US with her family and a nephew. 
  • My mother-in-law's house got an extreme make-over due to a pipe leaking into the well.
  • We hired a lawyer to see if he could help us get all the necessary paperwork for the kiddies' new Mexican birth certificates with just one last name.   

August:

  • Nick started junior high.
  • Ashley started 5th grade and Jack started 2nd grade. 
  • I started teaching again.

September:


Doña Esperanza, Descanse en Paz 
  • Felt extremely happy and optimistic after months of stressing and worrying about Apostilles, Mexican birth certificates, and last names.
  • I turned 38.
  • Ashley turned 10. 
  • My suegra (mother-in-law) passed away suddenly, leaving us all devastated and heartbroken.
  • Hope had a panic attack at my suegra's funeral and had to be hospitalized. 

October:


  • Hubby and I celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary.

Hubby is THIS MANY years old! 
  • Hubby turned 40!
  • Nick became a teenager. (And apparently I lost his birthday photos.)
  • We celebrated Halloween, even though Jack and Ashley were the only two that dressed up.

November: 



  • Our small town celebrated Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead) like never before! 
  • Ashley participated in the Revolution/Physical Fitness Day Parade

December: 


  • Hope turned 15. (We celebrated her Quinceañera with a party at el rancho.) 
  • Nick (my 13-year old) maxed out our credit card by spending more that 3,500 pesos (which is equal to 3 months rent) on his iPod and is now grounded for a very long time.  (Thank goodness we set a monthly limit on that card!) 
  • We took our Christmas card photos and had a very Merry Christmas! 

As you can see, 2012 was one heck of a year.  (And not always in a good way!)  As happy as I am to say goodbye to 2012, I am thankful for the lessons it taught me.  I walk away from 2012 stronger and with more confidence in myself as a wife, mom and woman.  I know exactly what I want out of life and I'm no longer afraid to say so.  I'm thankful for the friends and family that stood by us through each and every trial we faced this year.  But most of all, I'm thankful for my husband.  This year we grew even closer together.  He is my rock, my best friend, and the love of my life.     

Happy New Year to all!  May this New Year be filled with love, laughter and happiness.

XOXO

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