Wow… Happy Birthday to Me!

I’m a little embarrassed. 

I am a little embarrassed, as it has been nearly ONE month since I last posted.  I feel like this is the difference between being a student and a teacher.  I am always there to remind my students to write every day.  Who’s been around to remind me?

It is, however, a rather important day.  I turn 30 today!  It’s even nationally recognized, and we don’t have school today.  Just kidding.  It’s a Mexican holiday–but not one of the really important holidays (so we’re agreeing to pretend that we have no school due to the nation-wide recognition of my birth.

I can’t believe I am thirty.

I am really going to milk this one for all it’s worth:

1)  I started the day with a chocolate doughnut, chocolate milk, and then a Chocolate Covered Cherry Green Smoothie.  (The last item is actually pretty healthy–but all the health benefits were cancelled out today by the previous two items…)

2)  I woke up at my regular 4:30 to have my “Me Time.” “Me time” is usually spent working, but this morning I’ve used it wisely watching Harry Potter.

3)  I washed the dishes this morning because we got back too late last night (so they were actually yesterday’s dishes), but I won’ be washing any more today.  That means that I will probably have to wash them tomorrow, in case you were wondering…

4)  I will be eating at a restaurant today.  I will also be drinking coffee in leisure with my family.  (Can I just say something about family time?  Everyone always talks about taking dates without their kids.  Maybe it hasn’t been long enough, but we don’t really see the point.  I mean, I waited 30 years to become a mom.  Why would I let someone else watch her so that we can do something without her?)

5)  I will spend an itty-bitty teensy-weensy amount of time working.  This is actually pleasurable, as it is in preparation for my soon-to-be job as literacy coach.  My mentor and vice-principal and I will be conducting a training this Friday on Early Childhood language development.  

6)  I will look for an excuse to have people sing Las Mañanitas to me–and I won’t even feel bad about it.  I’ve waited a long time to have someone sing that to me.  I will be hoping for a mariachi for future birthdays.  

7)  I will celebrate what God has given and I am oh-so-grateful for:  life, love, and family.

Thirty will be great–I just know it!  I don’t feel the least bit sad to leave my twenties behind.  Here’s a little recap though, just for old-time’s sake:  

When I was 20 I moved to Minnesota.  When I was 21 I started college.  When I was 22 I made it a point to watch as many mid-day movies as possible. When I was 23 I graduated and moved to Florida.  When I was 24 I moved to Virginia.  When I was 25 I learned to accept myself.  When I was 26 I lived by myself for the first time.  When I was 27 I quit my job and moved to Mexico.  When I was 28 I met my husband.  When I was 29 I had my precious pichita (“baby” in Chiapas).  

Whew!

I can’t wait to see what the thirties have in store!

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The Pains of Non-Celebrators

Many years ago, (no, seriously…) my sister Jenny and I left my brother’s house in Indiana to drive to Iowa. We left on the 23rd of December, and promptly drove into a horrific freak snowstorm in Illinois. What started as beautiful snowflakes soon became treacherous driving conditions, and my sister’s car slid off the road.

We were able to make it back onto the road, but had to pull off again due to a flat tire. A nice cop came along and gave us a ride to a hotel in Champaign, Illinois. There isn’t much in Champaign. Except Chinese food. How do I know this? Well, everything closes on Christmas Eve. And Christmas. So we were stuck in Champaign eating at a Chinese Restaurant while watching a Law and Order SVU Marathon for two days.

My first thought this morning was, “Oh, it’s Christmas.” My second thought was, “We should go get some Chinese food today.” (We didn’t go get Chinese food–mostly because I think I can cook better than all the restaurants that we eat at. So every time we go, I end up saying, “Next time, I’ll just make this at home.”) The baby and I hung out while Victor went walking all over town. I even had him pick up the goods for stir-fry. Score! Better-than-Chinese-food soon coming to a plate near you!

Our biggest problem today came this evening when we tried to get a taxi. Turns out, all the taxi drivers want Christmas off–go figure! Then the evening culminated with me swearing I would walk home from church in the dark carrying my fat baby rather than pay 80 pesos for a 30 peso fare.

Bah-Humbug! Hope all you celebrators had a good one! Feliz Navidad!

A Letter to Baby on Father’s Day

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Dear Sweet Baby,

You should know, your daddy loves you more than any other man ever could. Someday, if your path leads to marriage, you will began looking for a husband. I am hoping that day will be when you’re older–and wiser about what you should look for in a mate. Oh! how I wish I could tell you to hold out for the right man! But if you’re anything like your mama, you’ll have to find him the hard way.

A couple days ago, I asked your daddy, “Victor Papi, what’s the best thing about being a dad?” He paused for a moment, and replied, “Having a daughter.” My heart melted. You are his treasure, he’ll do anything to give you the best (not the most expensive) things in life. That doesn’t mean toys and electronics, baby.

Nope! That means that he is willing to stay in Mexico as long as necessary, because you need to speak Spanish proficiently. He can’t wait for you to learn all the things a good Mexican (woman) knows.

“Someday,” he tells me, “I want you to teach my baby how to make tortillas. And she needs to learn to put things where they go. I don’t want her to put her things all over the place.” I can’t wait to teach you how to be a Mexican, my love. But you must learn to be American too.

So if you choose to have a Mexican husband, you should let him make tortillas every once in a while. Let him change the diapers, cook the supper, and mop the floor. Because a good American woman lets her husband share household responsibilities.

Giving you the best means that he is willing to stay home with you all day long–even when he’s going crazy being stuck in the house. It means that he washes your cloth diapers Mami bought you, because he wants the best from your head to your toes bottom! It means that he will go with you to get your shots, even though he starts to tear up when you’re in pain. It means that he is willing to cut a trip short to see his parents, because he doesn’t want you to be hot and covered in mosquito bites! Oh, honey, you are so loved.

I see the way your daddy looks at you–and the way you light up when he talks to you. You’ve got a good one, Bebita! Be nice to him, okay? I dread the day you’ll be embarrassed to kiss him goodbye. Or if you become embarrassed about being Mexican. I know teenagers get a little weird, but please be sweet to your daddy always. Give me your mean and snarkiness, I can take it…

Actually, Sweet Pea, if you could just stay loving, that would make us all happy…

Someday, my love, you will realize all that your daddy has done for you. You will think him all day with a heart full of love. When that day comes, don’t forget to call him on Father’s Day. That’s only something your mommy does…

Love,
Mami

P.S. Happy Father’s Day to the first man that loved me. XOXO

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My 42-Day Vacation in Mexico

When I finally came out of the closet (telling the school I was expecting), the first thing I hear about is their “rather generous” maternity leave.  Required by law, I would be taking 42 days before the due date and 42 days after the birth as my incompasidad.  Then, sometime last week, I hear about a NEW law.  Instead of taking 42 days before–I could pile all those days together and have about three months after the baby was born.  Hooray!  That sounds wonderful!

Until Mexico bureaucracy struck again.

It seems that when laws change here, people who should know about them never do.  Oh, people at school were aware.  The school lawyer confirmed it.  And yet, the people who sign off on maternity leave (the government hospital) had no clue.

So, it begins:  my forty-two day count-down.

I won’t complain about Day One.  I slept in.  I went to the store.  I hung out with my husband.  I cooked some Asian food.  I watched some shows online.  I read a book.  But this kind of life can’t continue for long…

I’ve decided a couple of projects are in order:

  1. Make my own Moby Wrap.  Do you know how expensive these are?  Basically, you pay close to $50 for a long strip of cloth so that you can carry your baby the way Mexican women have for centuries with scrap material.  I want to go get the material today to begin my project.  I am having a hard time deciding between a woven Mexican fabric or some kind of knit fabric.  
  2. Make a baby blanket.  I am not talking about anything fancy here.  The main idea is that this project gets finished (unlike many of my schemes).  I want some kind of applique business, but I can’t decide what.  It has to be gender neutral–and I am wondering if undertaking the entire alphabet will be too much.  Probably.
  3. Wash and store baby “stuff”.  I am talking about the diapers I already have mostly.  They say you should wash those a few times before using them to make them more absorbent.  I also have a few baby clothes–we really don’t have that many, and when people ask, I say, “What is the baby really going to wear to begin with?  Onesies?” Usually seasoned mamas will tell me, “They outgrow them so fast anyway, you don’t need too much.”  I bought some Free and Clear (imported) Detergent yesterday.  Turns out Mexicans don’t really believe in detergent without smell.  (The detergent aisle was my enemy when I had morning sickness.)

I can’t wait to begin!  This will keep my mind busy while this little guy incubates a bit more.

School Celebrations

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It’s new for me: celebrating Halloween at school. I mean, really, it’s something I always wanted to do! Alas, our dictator principal told us that we could only have “fall” decorations in Northern Virginia.

But in Mexico, it’s game on! Pumpkins become jack-o-lanterns and scarecrows are replaced by witches, bats, vampires, mummies, and other frightening creatures. Door decorations are over the top–and crepe spider webs hang from the ceilings.

Children come to school in their costumes–scary costumes! Faces are painted and the little goblins are marched around the gym in a Halloween Parade! It’s my favorite part of Ramona the Pest in real life! The baddest witch in the world has nothing on these miniature Mexicans!

Halloween was, of course, followed by Dia de Los Muertos. This was a whole new concept for me: as our dead stay where they belong at home. The kids don’t talk as much about it, but big and small altars are all over the school. Each item on the altar represents one thing or another.

Honestly, I can’t wait until Christmas if this is what we do for Halloween! Christmas in the States was a big no-no too. But rumor has it that we go all out!

You know what’s interesting? The one time I’m allowed to have a celebration for a holiday I love, and the responsible me has a plan: my students were amazing. They didn’t blink twice as I taught Math with a green face. It wasn’t a free-for-all by any means: after all, got to keep the munchkins in control!

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Ahhhhh!!!

Life is like a roller coaster. Sometimes you have to just put up your hands and yell when things go topsy-turvy!

This is what is going on (please sympathize):

1). I’ve been sick the last two days–therefore I haven’t been with my monsters precious students. Today was a mixture of happiness (to see them again) and relief (for a two week break).

2). I found a house (hooray!). In an effort to boss organize everyone, I’ve put myself in a sticky situation. I also am determined that my roommate will help me clean up before we leave. I should let it be–but the last thing I want is gossip at school about the state of the house…

3). I don’t have many things to move. However, I’m moving them in my suitcase. I need to figure out the order of things before Monday. My suitcase is going with me to Tennessee.

4). Voy a Estados Unidos lunes. I am coming home. I’m afraid I’ve forgotten fifteen thousand souvenirs. I am afraid I’ll forget my important papers (passport, visa, etc).

5). We are leaving for Colta at 5:00 in the morning to go to Special Meeting. Our special meeting is tomorrow night AND on Sunday! Let’s hope I can understand something I can share with you!

6). I tend to worry about how everyone else feels. This is a problem when you have fifteen different people to coordinate. My Mexican says, “Don’t worry about me! I’m happy if you’re happy!” That tends to make me worry more–because now I have more of a reason to make someone happy. Sigh.

Where is that stupid Choice Theory book?

Happy Birthday to Me!

Mexico heard that it’s a special day: last night there were fireworks! This is not a surprise, they have fireworks all the time. “Todos las noches,” I tell my students, “In the United States, we have them twice a year!

Twenty-eight. Wow.

Last year, for my birthday we went to Los Tios in Del Rey for Mexican/Salvadoran food. I wore a sombrero and ate yummy food with my amazing friends. This year, I am in MEXICO! Craziness!

I’ve been pretty excited about turning 28. It’s going to be a great year, I am sure! I’m starting it off right: new country, new job, new goals, etc. I’m even in a place at work where I am one of the youngest. Most of the young teachers are in their thirties.

Work was cancelled today, so I slept late (7:00), took the longest shower, and have just laid around! It’s great! I think I will go to town soon, and maybe go see a movie. Maybe I’ll buy a new dress or some shoes… Tonight I’m going out with the Spanish girls for dinner, dancing, and maybe karaoke!

Twenty-Eight Things I Want To Do This Year
1). Go to the Mayan Ruins.
2). See the Canyon.
3). Learn to speak Spanish.
4). Swim in the Gulf.
5). Visit Central America.
6). Visit the Zapatista communities.
7). See the old people dance in Marimba Park.
8). Learn to make tamales.
9). Learn to salsa.
10). See some monkeys (apparently this can be accomplished with 1 or 2).
11). Understand the songs I listen to.
12). Figure out how to make more money teaching English.
13). Raise my GRE scores.
14). Learn to make more than black beans and rice in Mexico.
15). Figure out how to get water (you’d think I would know this by now…)
16). Give a testimony in meeting that doesn’t require me asking how to say something.
17). See an active volcano.
18). Learn to knit on a knitting machine the indigenous women use.
19). Run again!
20). See the coffee farms.
21). Ride in the front seat of a Collectivo.
22). Start English classes for the neighborhood kids.
23). Read a Spanish book.
24). Talk to my Mexican niece and nephew in Spanish only.
25). Find the source of music and fireworks.
26). Have a conversation without apologizing or saying, “Hablo poco!”
27). Visit a waterfall that you can swim in.
28). Scuba dive (or snorkel) in Belize.

Here’s to a year of growth and happiness!

Rosca de Reyes

Today we celebrated Dia de Reyes, a holiday celebrated on the sixth of June here in Mexico. The tradition is that while Christmas is celebrated, gifts are given today instead of Christmas. The entire day is symbolic of the wise men visiting Jesus and the family.

The rosca de reyes, a round pastry with dried fruit baked into it, is the main attraction. Tradition says that if you cut a piece of bread, and get a tiny baby Jesus in your slice, you must buy everyone tamales on February 2nd. There’s a pretty good picture on Wikepedia, if you’re curious. We had a special lunch as well, and my favorite taco was a creamy corn and pablano pepper taco. Yum yum!

I’m ready to go home, and I suppose Monday will be mostly a getting-to-know-you day (as well as a getting-to-know-the-rules day, because today I was told that my boys literally climb the walls…) I appreciate constructive warnings, but quite frankly, sometimes it is better if teachers keep quiet regarding students. I do need a bell, I just realized–or a chime of some kind. I forgot to ask for one. Eek!