An Ode to Coffee

Oh, how I’ve loved the time we’ve spent together. No matter where life takes me, you always know what comfort I need.

In Minnesota, you partnered with Hazelnut–and I purchased you in the cutest coffee store downtown. Hazelnut always reminds me of Minnesota now. I think of curling up in my chair with a good cup of you while I chatted with my downstairs neighbor. My list of worries was short, but you snuck your way into my heart.

During college, you always perked me up when my feet were dragging. During my 38 credit hour semester, you knew that an original cup wouldn’t cut it–and you introduced me to your stronger side, Espresso. Breaking up with espresso at the end of the semester was hard, and like all breakups, it hurt to be apart. Too bad he was so controlling!

When I moved to Florida, a cup at home lost it’s appeal. I needed to get away– and lucky for me, Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts were always close by. Living on the beach was a hot affair, and I could always count on a little ice, sugar, and cream to take me the rest of the way.

In Virginia, 711’s coffee bar impressed the heck out of me. I learned how delicious you are mixed with seasonal creamers, and I awaited Pumpkin Spice each fall with a heart full of longing (after being apart for so long). I also snuck to take Jenny and Jean Marc’s pods of deliciousness in a single cup. You gave me the power to keep going when life around me wasn’t going.

And then, in Mexico, I was introduced a pure form of you! Beans grown by my in-laws and ground right there by hand. I appreciated all the hard work it had taken to bring us together. I didn’t know you could be so smooth going down! You didn’t keep me awake–even late in the evening I could partake of your glory and still get a good night’s rest.

Oh, dear coffee, what sweet memories you’ve given me!

So when I gag while a pot of you is brewing, don’t take it personal… I still have a special place for you in my heart. Unfortunately, this unborn babe I’m growing seems a bit jealous of all we’ve been through. Stay strong! Before you know it, we will be reunited. (And yes, it will feel so good.)

My Rock-Hard Abs (Question Mark?)

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My Rock Hard Abs?

I like to joke that this is the first time I have ever had a hard stomach. I joke, but really, it’s the truth. I’ve always been a little on the softer side (that’s the nice way of calling myself chubby).

Actually, that’s the thing about being chubby: it’s the first time that society really accepts the fact that you’re carrying around a few extra pounds. It also really comes in handy when you’re trying to hide your pregnancy. No one wants to ask a chubby girl if she’s expecting.

On the other hand, when you do finally let everyone know the news—having people avoid talking about your bulging belly is a pain. Sometimes I want to wear a sign saying: Hey People! I’m not fat right now! I have a bun in the oven! I’m waiting for the days when people voluntarily touch my baby bump. Currently, I have to say, “Hey! Feel this!” Normally , they gingerly prod it with a finger or two. I often grab their hands, and poke it around. I am NOT passing up this opportunity to have people feel my hard stomach.

The good news is that I am really eating rather well. I mean, I won’t lie and say that Victor and I don’t order pizza every once in a while. I also will admit to “cooking” chicken nuggets. I’ve been a little nervous about buying raw meat. I mean, it’s one thing to treat myself for parasites. The last thing I want to do is get some bug WHILE I am growing a baby. So, Victor and I buy frozen meat. We do also buy frozen chicken breasts, but Victor has adopted my fat Mexican nephew’s mantra, “I love chicken nuggets, Nino! I love chicken all day long!”

Unfortunately, yesterday our marriage came to that point that all Blakleys must reach with their partners. “Husband,” I said, “Let me teach you something about Ketchup.” This was necessary, you see, because he proudly showed me the refill for the ketchup bottle. In Mexico, you can buy refills in bags and they are a little cheaper. “There is only one ketchup we buy, and that’s not it” I stated, matter-of-factly. It’s best that he knows where I stand now when it comes to ketchup, peanut butter, and toothpaste…and the attention I need for my rock hard abs.

A Registry For Baby-to-Be

So, it’s a little awkward to be honest.  1)  I know very little about what I need for a baby.  2)  I feel like I am asking for presents.  3)  Carting items back to the States isn’t much of an option, so direct shipping is a must.  Luckily, it isn’t a steep increase from what I can see.

I’ll admit that I started creating my registry back when only my family new about this new addition.  I was pretty secretive about it, after all, who makes a registry when they’re barely a couple of months along?  Turns out, lots of first time mamas.  We just get so excited, and feel like we should go ahead and jump in!

The thing is, while I feel like I am not a complete novice (12 nieces and nephews, after all), I really know very little about what goes on behind the curtains.  I mean, what does a baby really need?  It eats.  I’ve got that covered (I hope).  It poops.  Diapers–check!  It sleeps.  No worries!  So do I!  So what else will the little guy require?

A lot.

My goal is to keep this as minimalistic as possible.  That’s why I decided to stop now.  I started adding clothes, and I decided I should at least hold off a while.  Babies don’t really need clothes do they? Totally joking.  Don’t call CPS.  But really, I don’t need or want a lot of extra “stuff.” I just want my baby to have what he needs!

So, with that said, the registry is basic.  And still, I ended up with 62 items.  How?

I won’t lie and say it isn’t super exciting.  I like to show Victor items on the registry.  Mainly because as simplistic as I am (trying to be), he was raised with next to nothing.  We laugh about women in Chiapas–because they don’t use strollers.  They carry their babies everywhere!  The only time I’ve seen women with strollers, it has been foreigners.  And yet, I registered for a stroller…  He actually helped with that item, but I overrode his nearly $400.00 choice.  Obviously he had NO idea it cost that much.  They string up hammocks for their babies, and away they swing!

We added a Moses basket today.  Perhaps this is a little over-the-top, but I see this being pretty useful!  I mean, when I am not holding (or feeding) the pumpkin, I’d still like her to be nearby!  Who knew they had a stand that rocks for Moses baskets?  Darn you, Amazon, for making suggestions on what else to add!!

My favorite thing(s) we registered for are the diapers.  Have you seen cloth diapers lately?  Someone today told me that I needed to start stocking up on diapers.  When I told her that we were cloth diapering, she was appalled.  Really, could it be that bad?  I mean, have you seen the advances in diapers?  And quite frankly, we live in Mexico.  Is it really a big stretch to imagine cloth diapering?  I can see where working moms in the States would be hesitant.  But really, what do we have to lose?  The money we save is a factor, but it mostly comes down to this:  (WARNING:  Daddy, if you don’t  want too much info, look away!)  I stopped wearing pads because I hate the way they feels.  They cause rashes, and are quite uncomfortable.  Why would I subject precious, soft, new baby skin to that?  All day long.  For a couple of years.  It’s no wonder they have horrible diaper rashes!

Despite my excitement, I do wonder if we’re headed in the right direction.  Guidance from Moms (and Dads) with experience is more than welcomed!  What does a baby need other than me, my fresh food supply, and a lot of love?

Out of the Closet

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I think I got baby’s seal of approval yesterday. It came in the form of me feeling her for the first time! At least I think that’s what it was… I really thought it would be stronger–like a little knock while she says, “Hey Mama! Look at me!” It was more like this weird stirring down near my bladder.

I’ve decided baby was happy because she’s not being ignored anymore. I FINALLY told the school about her. That was interesting.

I told my principal first. Her response was perfect: while surprised, she said, “Babies are always welcome!” Ahhh, perfect! If only we could have skipped the debacle yesterday of the director telling me I should have told him before he hired me. To which I replied, “Would you have hired me if I had told you?

Well, that’s over and done with, and my baby is happy. So happy that she’s letting me sleep! Sleeping has been hard the last week or so. I have always been a tummy sleeper, and I try to roll over in my sleep. Every time I move I either have to get up and pee–or I’m just incredibly uncomfortable.

I have wanted a baby for just about forever. Why didn’t anyone tell me that this isn’t the most glamorous experience? When will I start glowing and stop gagging?

Doing His Thang

My husband is quite efficient. Really, the biggest problem is that he is bored out of his mind while he looks for a job. Today I came home and thanked him for cleaning and doing the clothes. He said, “I mopped the floor. Three times.”.

Poor guy. It is a hard-knock life when all your experience is in another country. Luckily, his local I.D. should be here soon, and that will help make him look stable.

What’s amazing though is what he shows me. One day, he took me out back to show me his plants. We only have a little soil, but he planted beans, watermelon, and cucumbers. This is the coolest contraption:

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The top is where he pours the water. It slowly filters through the remaining pots. Finally, it is contained in the last container, where it may be reused.

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I am waiting for our fruit trees to produce. This is a tangerine tree we think. We also have a pomegranate tree but it only has a little fruit. Our neighbors bananas hang pretty close to our wall–Thou shall not covet your neighbors bananas. Lucky for us, another neighbor (with whom I teach) has a grapefruit tree that is heavy laden. Even better: she hates grapefruit! She also has a tangerine and a lemon tree. I can’t wait to help her eat those goodies!

Victor and I are hoping to have a patio garden after winter. I look forward to seeing what else my husband can do!

And Two Become Three

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When I first met Victor, one of the first things he said to me was, “I am almost thirty-two years old and I don’t have a son.” I thought it was rather endearing, after all, I had just turned twenty-eight and was very aware that Momma was my age when I was born. I am her fourth natural child.

When we visited his family, we heard the same thing. Victor has no children, but his brother and sister are younger than him and they each have a child. I would just laugh, and tell them the same was true with me. My little sister is expecting her third child.

Seems our luck has changed. And oh! how I can’t stop singing, “Just Victor and me–and the baby makes three. How happy are we, blue heaven!”

Here is a video from today’s appointment (which by the way, cost a whopping $31.45 USD…I really feel like I am sticking it to the American health care system!) Video If you don’t want to watch the whole thing, skip to about 4:35. It’s my favorite part.

Pretty amazing, right? We read about two becoming one, but I am so happy that two are becoming three!

P.S. The doctor confirms March 12th, 2013 as the expected due date!

A New Convention–A New Home

How do I begin to tell you the amazing weekend that Victor and I had?

Of course, a convention weekend couldn’t start smoothly.  The chance to cause major upheaval is something the enemy doesn’t pass up.  So, while Victor and I found bus tickets to Monterrey, then to another little town–we did have some hiccups.  Some hiccups that could have been disastrous.

We had instructions to call our friends when we arrived to Monterrey, and let them know when we would make the next destination.  We did this, letting them know we should be there by 9:45 (later than I had hoped…)  Unfortunately, both of us were waiting for a bus terminal.  Not some dinky stop on the side of the road.  So, 45 minutes later (10:30 pm), we finally ask when we will arrive.  The bus kindly let us off, and instructed us to take a bus back the way we’d come.  So, we did.  We really didn’t know if we would get to Allende and find out that the workers (our ride) had left.  Lucky for us, they were still there.

Once to the grounds, we separated our things, and had a quick night snack.  Both of us were hungry after traveling for 8 hours on the bus.

This is where my luck changed.

The bed they had for me was in the dorm room with the younger girls.  Every night they lock the doors, and how lucky I am they did!  I got to sleep with the old ladies!  And with an air conditioner!  And fans!  It was amazingly wonderful.  They doted on me the next couple days–even though I struggled to communicate.

Our privilege was beyond words.  It was Victor’s first [real] convention, and I wasnt quite sure what he would think.  He loved it, and while the questions people asked were strange at first, he soon just fit right in.  He told them all about our past (and future!)–as well as about our families.  At one point, I looked for him before breakfast, and found him sitting up out-of-the-way with this old man just chatting away drinking coffee.  It really warmed my heart.

We met new friends, greeted old friends–and found connections in places we didn’t expect.  We look forward to our sister workers returning to Torreon.  We must buy another bed soon so that we have plenty of space.   On a sadder note, we meant to take pictures of the thatched roofs, the grounds, and our Sunday best–but time got away from us.  We snapped a picture on the bus ride back to Torreon.  More pictures next time…

The Weekend Ahead

Our bags are packed. We’ve got everything except a tie. Turns out the men don’t wear those to convention here in Mexico.

I. Can’t. Wait.

The convention in Torreon was really more like a special meeting–only the size of a union meeting. This convention near Monterrey is rumored to be pretty big (about three hundred people).

I am mostly excited because this will be Victor’s first real experience with convention. I am pretty quiet about it–I don’t want to paint a picture for him. I want him to love it like me, but because HE wants to. So, I answer questions as they come, and explain what an amazing weekend it is in the States. I listen as he tells me the things he learns (he understands what’s going on much more than I do…). Seeing the life and wonder makes my heart happy.

It’s great spending time with my husband. Last night I realized we’ve only KNOWN each other just over six months. Wow. No wonder my friends freaked out a little.

Sigh. Whatta life! A year of change can do wonders for a body!! One year ago I was happily basking in my freedom! And now? I am slowly becoming Mexican from the inside out…

Problems in Paradise

Last week was a week that I don’t care to ever relive.

We started out with very little money, and tried in vain to get money to Mexico through Western Union.  It was nothing but a hassle–a hassle that did little to life stress from my shoulders.  Without my debit card, there was a little I could do to improve our situation.  It also put a damper on my traveling plans: Turns out that no, you can’t rent a car without a card.  No, you can’t make shuttle reservations without a card.

“This is just life,” I told Victor, encouragingly.  “For everyone or just us?” he fired back.  So, it came down to the last day before payday–and we had fifty pesos between the two of us…

Friday morning I had a flight booked to Georgia to be a bridesmaid in my sister-from-another-mister’s wedding.  Priya has been a saint through this whole Mexico experience, and really has freaked out very little (considering there have been some minor inconveniences…)  This is why I didn’t share the following prior to her wedding:

At 10:30 Thursday night, I realized that I had left my passport in my classroom at school.  Furthermore, I had also kindly left my keys and i.d. for my substitute to use.  So, after buzzing around the house in a state of panic, I sent a note on Facebook to my principal.  Lucky break #1: She sent a cab to the house to pick me up, gave me her keys AND a note to the guards for me to be able to access my keys and classroom (and ultimately, my passport to travel…)

Overwhelmed with gratitude, but forty pesos poorer (from the taxi ride), we returned home and made a plan for the next morning.  See, I still didn’t know if I would be able to access my paycheck at the bank.  Sometimes there are delays or hangups, and money doesn’t end up where it should.  Lucky break#2: at 5:15 a.m. we were able to withdraw pesos for the weekend.

On to the school!  This was complicated.  The school is really amazing: a pool, tennis courts, basketball courts, computer labs, etc. so it is heavily guarded.  It is also fortified with tall fences and gates to keep out unwanted pests.  I was on the wrong side of that gate.  I explained my situation to the guard, but he wasn’t really willing to take my word for it–or the principal’s note.  While he went to check with his boss, an older guard showed up.  In broken spanish, I explained what I needed, and after a tiny argument between the two of them–I was granted access.  And an escort to my classroom.

I made it to the airport with minutes to spare–and went through security and immigration without a hiccup (Lucky break: #3).  I only had to wait for my plane at the gate for 15 minutes, and then off we went.  On to the next stresser.

With no cell, I really had no way of knowing if my reservation in Hilton Head was taken care of.  Lucky break #4: it was.  My sister had called, and I was the only one on the shuttle!  This was a bit irritating after the rigmarole that I went through when I wanted to reserve a place.  Apparently, I really should have called 24 hours in advance.  Psh.

On to the weekend and the blessings that awaited me…