Yummo! Smoothie Time!

I bought smoothie goodies several months ago.  Actually, I thought I was buying a gallon of Pineapple-Coconut Frozen Yogurt.  Because why would they sell regular yogurt in a gallon ice cream container?  No, really… why?  Because I now have a gallon of yogurt.  Frozen yogurt.  Sigh.

I came home from Sam’s that day so excited.  I couldn’t wake to make some yummy fruity drinks!  Then we tried to use the blender.  And what we ended up with was a mess.  Turns out the glass part was a bit worn out.

So I borrowed a friend’s blender a couple weeks ago–and I am hoping she doesn’t ask for it back!  I am a smoothie/frappachino/any-frozen-concoction making fool!

This is what we just enjoyed:

frozen mango, a banana, and papaya blended with milk and pineapple juice.  SOOO good.  Actually, I’ve been trying to like the flavor of papaya after I heard of all the health benefits.  Turns out papaya can cure anything that ails you from inflammation to cuts and burns!  Too bad it tastes like trash.  It’s becoming more tolerable the more I try it.  I think we might be on the right road here!

ice, milk, instant coffee, a spoon of cocoa powder, and two spoons of sugar.  Okay, so I know this has sugar in it.  But really, so does my coffee.  So why not blend my coffee into a frozen frappachino?  It tastes better than the Sainted Starbucks (I really do love these guys…) due to the fact that I can drink it in my pajamas while I am harvesting my baby’s bottle AND poking around on Facebook.  Sigh. I really did read that multitasking isn’t so great for your brain… I should stop that.

freshly squeezed lemon juice, half of a lemon, a bunch of sugar, ice, and water.  Frozen lemonada, anyone?  This is really amazing.  I love lemonade–and the fact that we can make it even more refreshing as we continue to live in the desert is a treat.  The actual lime (skin and all) adds a different flavor (my husband says).  Ideally you would strain this out before adding ice.  Ideally.  Or you drink around it.

Sigh.  I love Mexico.  I love fresh fruit.  I love that I can buy drinks like these when I am out and about.  Yummmm.  I am now wanting to blend everything I drink first.  Frozen sweet tea, anyone?

A Hula Party

We have a sweet friend from Mexico City who remembers everyone’s birthday.  She will call, a country away, to wish you happy birthday.  This year she called me about a week after apologizing for having missed my actual birthday.  She didn’t forget it–she just was super busy that day.

I thought that she was something special rare (she is really special), until I moved to Mexico.

No one does a birthday quite like a Mexican.  And it doesn’t matter if you are rich or on limited income, birthdays are really special days.  That’s why I never miss an opportunity to attend a party.  It’s a lot of fun!  These are the essentials of a Mexican birthday party:

  1. Decorations-  I’ve been to birthday parties here where everything is homemade.  The decorations are made from tissue paper folded and cut to create beautiful flowers and poms.  And then there are parties like the hula party–where the parents MUST have shopped in the States.  There were blow up decorations, garland, table center pieces, etc.
  2. Snacks–  On the table tops, botanas are a must.  This at cheaper parties might be delicious and inexpensive chicharron with Valentina sauce.  Swag parties have crackers and cheese, or a popular strawberry and chipotle sauce spread over cream cheese as a dip for crackers.
  3. Drink– Each table often has a 2-liter of soda sitting in the middle with the snacks.  Sometimes, ice is even included… 
  4. Food– MUCH later, food is served.  I’ve been to parties with tamales and gorditas.  Both of these are stuffed bread.  A gordita is like a thick tortilla that has been cut to make a pocket (similar to a pita bread pocket).  This is filled with mixed meats or maybe peppers and cream sauce.  One party I was at served a sandwich with a cold macaroni salad.  On Friday, they went all out with individual pies stuffed with rajas (peppers and cream sauce) and a salad with chopped mango, sunflower seeds, and dried cranberries and blueberries.  Yummo!
  5. A cake– Cakes in Mexico are amazing.  Or at least in Chiapas they are.  I always had delicious, rich, creamy, moist cakes in Chiapas!  Here in the north, they tend to be a little dry.  Cakes also often have a whipped frosting and fruit on top.  Cupcakes are gaining in popularity, so sometimes you can find cupcakes.  Most times layered cakes have jelly in between the layers.  Sometimes they have caramel sauce.  Singing the birthday song is special.  The birthday child stands behind the table as the candles (or sparklers) are lit.  Their family joins them behind the table.  And the group sings “Las Mañanitas” to them.  This is my favorite time…
  6. A piñata–  But the piñata also gets a lot of my attention.  I have NEVER been to a party where the person pulling the rope doesn’t almost get whacked.  They start with the youngest, and work their way up.  You always get a rough little kid with built up aggression that makes the crowd take a step back.  The crowd is bigger when the candy really IS inside the piñata.  At the party on Friday, I saw a mean little boy pick up the leg from the piñata and start hitting his nanny with it.  He literally chased her around the party while she said, “No! David, I am NOT a piñata!”  Piñatas are seemingly harmless when they’re cartoon characters or giant hearts.  But have you ever seem people take turns beating a giant replica of your student?  That is a little strange…

I am looking pretty forward to having some cute birthday parties for my little girl.  The thing that I love the best about them is that usually the emphasis is placed on spending time together.  Neighbors will join parties in small communities.  Fancy parties that are supposed to end at 7 are extended way past the time.  And I have never seen a child open her gifts.  The gifts aren’t obligatory, and they are placed on a side table as you enter.  That’s where they stay until the child goes home.  I love that!

Is it too early to start planning for March of 2014?  Let’s see…

 

 

 

Take That, Taxi-Man

I like to believe the best in people.  Really.  It’s not that I am naive, but I think it does have something to do with my mama spoon-feeding me Love and Logic.  So despite the fact that I get disappointed again and again, I walk right back through the same old door.  I give people opportunity to do what’s right.

If you are white and in Mexico, someone is bound to take advantage of you.  If you’re a woman and speak very little Spanish, you can bet that will happen more often.  I love this country, so don’t get me wrong.  I love the people!  I love the culture!  I understand that taxi drivers work hard for their money every day.  But it’s just the principle…

One day, Victor and I came home from Sam’s.  We had this sweet old taxi driver, and he chatted with us the whole way.  I’ve learned that the silent taxi drivers are the ones who are usually pretty fair.  Sometimes I will get a taxi driver that wants to practice English, and I always try to chat with them.  (Like with most people, this comes out after I butcher the language a little.  I think they either feel more comfortable screwing up English or they feel sorry for me.)  In any case, this sweet old man charged us 50 pesos for a 23 pesos fare.  And we paid it.  Because he was old.  And sweet.  And you shouldn’t talk back to your elders.

But as we walked into the house, we vowed never again.

It really shouldn’t be a problem here in Torreon.  But it is.  They have a law here that every taxi is required to have a meter.  But they don’t.  The meter starts at 8 pesos.  Often you’ll get in a taxi, drive three blocks, then realize they aren’t running the meter.  This is annoying.  Victor and I have decided not to ride in taxis without meters anymore.  It’s just not worth haggling over.  We don’t even argue about it–we just wait for a taxi driver who is following the law.

I hate that it’s making me resort to my mean American ways.  While Victor tells stories about how my doctor showed up to deliver my baby without gloves (He was appalled that we had to buy the gloves.  Then we were scolded by the doula for buying the wrong size.  How does a doctor go to work without HER tools? he asked me.), I resort to guilt.  (Thank you, Mama.)

Victor will say, “This is your job.  You have to have what you need to do your job.  What if I went to put a roof on a house without tools?”

“Why don’t you have a taxi meter?” I ask.  Regardless of the driver, I always get a story about it being broken, etc.

“Well, it’s the law.  I don’t understand how you don’t have one in your car,” I say.  I tell myself that this helps…

More often than not, I just make a plan on the way home from wherever I happen to be.  If he gives me a fair fare, I will give him a tip.  If he tries to charge me too much, I won’t.  What really gets me though, is when they don’t give me my change back correctly.  This is often the older middle aged men as well.  I am sorry, I don’t buy that they can’t add.  These guys work all day for their pesos.  They can count out change like nobody’s business.  This is also a  take-advantage-of-the-nice-lady act.  I don’t give them tips either.

Victor says I need to call them out on it.  But there’s the whole issue of respect.  How do I tell an old man that he’s being dishonest?  He also says I need to just speak English when they pretend to not understand me–just to show them how it feels.  I say Victor was probably not treated too kindly in the States either…

Today, I finally did it though.  I had an eye doctor appointment.  I struggled out the door of the place lugging my car-seat with my hunk-of-burnin’-love inside.  She was fussy, wanted to eat, and wanted to sleep.  So once outside, I put the seat down and picked her up.  I put my super cute diaper bag inside her seat.  And I waited.  Before long, I heard a honk, saw a wave, and the bright yellow taxi turned around.  The man hopped out to help me.  This isn’t unusual, as I am a woman with a baby.  But he also had a broken beer bottle in the back seat, so I was grateful.

We drove back to my house, and he got out to put my car-seat up on the curb.  Then I asked the price.  And he told me a price too high.  So I gave him my I’m-so-disappointed-in-you look (Once again: thanks, Mom!) and replied with the correct price.  Do you know what he had the nerve to say?

“But I helped you.  There’s no tip?”

Ahem.  Perhaps, taxi-man, you should come into my second grade classroom for a day.  We learn that we shouldn’t expect anything for helping others.  What happened to you?  Did your teacher reward you with candy when you did things that you should do?  I didn’t say this, of course.

Instead, I just said, “Well, don’t help me if you’re going to charge me extra.”

Take that, taxi-man!

Duke it Out

My husband and I don’t fight.

I remember one time my Mom said that my ex and I weren’t communicating if we didn’t disagree every once in a while.  So, I’ll be clear: we disagree.  But we don’t fight.

In fact, the last thing I like to do is fight with my husband.  He’s way too sweet.  And even when I am right, I feel like a big bully if we get into it.  This is a problem, because, occasionally, I do get a temper.  And when I have a temper, I never really come out looking like the sweet woman I like to be around my husband.

I don’t know if this is hormones or just the ebb and flow of our relationship, but these are the things I’ve gotten mean about:

  1. When we’re walking with the stroller, and he walks so much faster than me that I am left trailing after him and the baby.
  2. Dish Network.  We’ve been trying to cancel it.  Turns out they really ARE difficult about getting out of a contract.
  3. The way that the dishes get stacked.
  4. The way the clothes are left for me  to hang up.
  5. The way he makes the baby’s diaper.
  6. The way I spend time after work.
  7. When it’s too hot at night.
  8. Finding a house where we won’t suffer all summer.
  9. Traveling.
  10. Our “junk” room (where he puts things when he doesn’t know where they go).
  11. When he asks where things are without REALLY looking.
  12. How much the baby sleeps.

Poor guy.  I know that I am being irrational.  I really thought before that I would love coming back to school at the end of the year.  Forget that.  The end of the year is really no fun at all.

Sigh.

When will my hormones balance out?  When will we be settled enough for me to stop worrying?  And when will I stop feeling bad for telling him, “I told you so.”  Funny, that used to feel so good to say to my sisters.  With Victor, I just get, “I know.”  It kinda takes the wind out of my sails.

Breath, Jania.  This too shall pass…

The Vaccine Question

Is there anything sadder than seeing your baby cry her eyes out when she gets a shot?  Oh, how I am dreading tomorrow.  Victor can’t handle it.  And I don’t want him to have to.  Because my heart breaks in two–and he is much sweeter than I am.

I am avoiding the government hospital.  I don’t want them to give the baby the TB vaccine.  It creates a scar on the arm from a huge blister that pops.  And our doctor said that it was really an unnecessary vaccine due to our lifestyle.  We got her Hepatitis B shot through the office, but they tend to get a little pricey.  They are free through the government.  So, we have debated bucking up and heading down to our local hospital for free vaccination

Victor said to me last night as we were discussing our options, “Jania, the baby is healthy.  Why does she need to get a shot?”  He didn’t have his shots when he was little.  They lived out of town–and things like doctors were a commodity.  In fact, he visited the neighbor day after day when he broke his arm.  The neighbor would pull on the arm, and wrap it up.  He had no medicine.  No cast.  And he can remember lying in bed crying at night.  To this day, that arm is weaker–and you can feel the lump where the bone didn’t heal correctly.

He also had whooping cough and in his words was a “bad Mexican.”  Good Mexicans don’t get sick.  He was always sick.  He shaved years off of his poor mama–causing her to worry about him with all of his mishaps.  But he was lucky.  She buried three other sweet babies who became sick.

So will we be getting the vaccines?  You betcha.  Because a moment of crying is so much better than the idea of living without my littlest love.  Sigh.

Dear Mama

One of my favorite songs by the Carter Sisters and Johnny Cash  video

Dear, Mama, now that we’re older
We can see the load on your tired old shoulders
Mama you’re a trooper, Mama you’re a soldier
Mama, you mean a lot to me

She always got me out of bed early Sunday morn’
And took me out to church
where I could learn about Lord
Mama tried to tell me how my life was gonna be
But I was young and wild,
and it was hard for me to see

Dear Mama, now that we’re older
We can see the load on your tired old shoulders
Mama you’re a trooper, Mama you’re a soldier
Mama, you mean a lot to me

Mama, I want to tell you one thing for sure:  you always taught us right from wrong when we were younger. And if we had listened to you then i know we would have saved ourselves a lot of problems. Now that we’ve grown up and we’re all so much older, we realize that you always knew exactly what you were talkin’ about, Mama. And you sure do mean a lot to all of us.

Dear Mama, now that we are older
We can see the load on your tired old shoulders
Mama you’re a trooper, Mama you’re a soldier
Mama, you mean a lot to me
Mama, you mean a lot to me

‘Nuff said.

My First Mother’s Day

Feliz Dia de Las Madres!

My taxi driver chuckled today when I asked if it was “de las Madres” or “de las Mamas.”  Perhaps it was my American accent, or maybe it was the idea of it being the day of mamas.  In any case, it was a fantastic day!

Last year I wasn’t a mama.  I bought my mama a sweet coffee cup–and this year, I am going to buy myself one.  After all, you only get one a year!  Or do you?  (insert maniacal laugh here…)  I am referring to this wonderful thing called being-a-mama-to-a-Mexican-American-baby.  That means the best of TWO worlds–including (but not limited to) TWO Mother’s Days!

My neighbor greeted me this morning outside and reminded me with a hug and a jovial, “Happy First Mother’s Day!”  Ahh… That sounds good.  I returned the greeting, but didn’t realize as I headed off to work what was in store for me.  See, although I was in Mexico last year, I wasn’t a mama.  And even though I love my mama dearly, the grandness of this day was a little lost on me.  Not the case any longer.

I got hugs as soon as I walked through the door of the school.  Women I don’t even really know were hugging me and telling me congratulations.  I love greeting with a kiss now, but I remember it being so strange a little over a year past.  My students walked in the door with their arms spread to shower me with their love.  I received some candies and a new wallet/purse from the school.

And I left with my head a little higher.

Then I got home.  Snuggled my baby.  And reveled in this amazing job.  There is nothing in the world that has ever made me feel like this.  It isn’t the attention, the presents, or the pride.  It’s the sweetest baby in the world staring up at me with big Mexican eyes–making me fall in love with her over and over and over…

Feliz Dia de Las Madres! 

BeFunky_ale one week.jpg

Dear Baby From Mama

Hi My Sweet Little Girl,

I am watching you smile sweetly at your daddy.  He’s whistling and making funny noises at you while he tickles the space between your eyebrow.  I am glad you still have space between your eyebrows, but I am thinking that won’t be the case much longer.  I won’t pluck them though–not until you’re old enough to care about them.  And if you turn out looking like this we will celebrate your beauty.

Frida_Kahlo_(self_portrait)

I see you getting bigger and more observant.  And I feel the pressure.  Because, Baby, I want to be the best mama I can be.  I know I’m a novice when it comes to being a Mama.  But to be the BEST?  I know what that means:

It means that even when I want to save you, I have to let you fall.

It means that when you fall, I show you empathy and give you a shoulder to cry on.

It means that I will continue to sit in a closet and pump you bottles for as long as I can, because I know it is the best nourishment I can give you!

It means that I will swallow my jealousy when you flirt with your Papi–because every girl needs a daddy like your daddy and my daddy.

It means that I will sing “Tell Me the Story of Jesus” to you, even when you begin to request “#1” every time we sing.

It means that I will make sure you get to meeting, even when I think of a billion excuses for myself.

It means that I will set you up for failure now while you are young, so that I can “Love and Logic” you into a successful adult.

It means that I will support your Daddy when he gets after you (even though it isn’t the way I would do it).

It means that if you want to be a car washer, “starving artist”, or bicycle mechanic, I will support you.

It means that if you want to be a teacher, doctor, lawyer, or indian chief, I will support you.

It means that if you want to quit your job and move to another country, I will support you.

It means you will have my unconditional support (this statement is invalid if you ever decide to drop out of high school, smoke cigarettes  or do anything harmful to your body.)

And when you do stupid things (because I know that you will–even though I am dreading the day that happens), I will still love you–but I will (try to) allow you to suffer consequences.

It means that when you get hurt roller skating down a ramp, I will rush you to the doctor and love you up.

It means that when you’re sick, I will clean up your throw up without letting you know that you’re disgusting–and I will sleep next to you to be there in case you need me.

It means that if ever you do need me (while you’re living your own life in some remote place), I will move heaven and earth to be there.

And, Lord help us all, when you start getting hormonal–I won’t make you feel like an alien.  Even though you will most assuredly act like one.

It means that I will probably embarass you one day.  There is no way I will be the “cool mom,” and you will pretend that you don’t know me.  But I will show you how to love yourself by not caring what others think.

It means that I will teach you to love unconditionally: the old, the sick, the weirdos, the unfortunates, the privileged and the poor.

And when I get old, I will hide my weakness from you–to give you extra time to love your Mama.

It means that when our roles are reversed, and you’re giving me a bath–I will probably complain and worry that you’re wasting your time on me.

When I look at you, Ale, I see how perfect God made you.  And I mean it when I sing, “I really think that God above created you for me to love.  He picked you out from all the rest, because he knew that I’d love you the best.”  I love your chubby cheeks, and if they stay chubby when you’re 29–know that you are beautiful despite what the magazines say.

I know that one day, you will grow too big for your britches.  Your Mama won’t be the light of your life.  You’ll make plans to be the complete opposite of me in every way that I annoy you.  But if there is one thing that you should accept and adopt–let it be this love I have to you.   Because THIS love is a legacy.  I come from a long line of loving ladies, and like it or not, that love is concentrated all on you.

Love always and forever,

Your Mama

babyMy baby at 7 weeks.