Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Can you spare some change?

Today I have been inundated with change...like the money.

We are having a shared Thanksgiving activity between sixth and first grade. This requires each of the over 400 children to bring change and for all of the teachers to count it. Can you imagine counting over 150 bucks in nickels? Fun, huh.

Then, I decided to run "quickly" to the grocery store before heading home. I grabbed to couple things I needed and lined up in the "10 items or less" line. Of course, the person in front of me had to argue the difference of 3 pesos on a pair of socks, so they sent me to a different line. I line up and the lady in front of me has to argue the price on her 3 for the price of 2 toothbrushes and decides to buy 3 instead of 6, which required the teller to make a return on 3 toothbrushes. She then proceeded to pay her over 50 dollar bill with, that's right, change. Count out 50 bucks in nickels while you have 5 people in line behind you, puh-leez.

Ghandi said "Be the change you wish to see in the world." I'll change by using less change, I think.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Moving on up

Ramon and I are moving! I've lived here since 2006 and have made many memories in this little place. We live on the 4th floor, which means lots of stairs. If at 21 weeks pregnant, those stairs wear me out, I don't want to find out what will happen at 30 weeks or worse, with a carseat and stroller!

An apartment opened up in the same complex where Ramon's parents live, so we'll be moving from Cholula to Puebla at the end of the month. It is a 3-bedroom apartment, on the first floor, and it gets lots of sunlight which will be great during the winter. (Yes, it gets cold. No, we don't have heat) It will also be nice in the spring when I have to go to work, because Ramon's mom will be watching Baby Alvarez.

But, before we move out, I want to share some pictures of our first Casa Alvarez. I'll be excited to have more space and more closets! Fitting two people's things in one closet and one kitchen has been quite the headache. (Which is partly why there's no pictures of the bedroom, it's kind of still full of boxes and wedding presents)

What you see is what you get. This is the view from the front door. The only thing missing is the bedroom and the bathroom. When you think your house is small, it's not!

I won't miss the fireworks. I won't miss the constant bell ringing. I won't miss the marching bands. I won't miss the chickens, goats, etc. BUT, one thing I will miss? The view! This was taken right out the kitchen window and I've been blessed with some beautiful sunsets behind the Popocateptl!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Neighborhood Saint Day

This weekend marks the feast day of the saint at our little neighborhood church. The church is San Dieguito, and I would tell you more, but I can't find any information. Anyway, the way of celebration seems to me to be quite a combination of Catholic and native ways. It all started on Thursday night, or was it Friday morning? I don't know, I was trying to sleep. A man set up his keyboard and huge speakers and started singing the Mañanitas (like Mexican Happy Birthday) to the church and then continued to sing for a couple hours more, pulling out classics as well as pop music. Then, the fireworks began. You might think, Cool! Fireworks. But no, they aren't the pretty fireworks. They're just big huge loud bangs. Today, the drums came out. Drumming, drumming all the live long day and a man playing something that looks and sounds kind of like an oboe. This will likely last all night long. So now, we've got music, fireworks, drums and oboe-man.
I've included pictures so you can see the view of the festivities from Casa Alvarez. As you can see, we have a straight shot to the church (built in the 1600's) so there's nothing to muffle the noise!
View from the kitchen...

Zoomed in on the drummer and oboe-man. Mind you they are not playing a particular song, it's basically just lots and lots of noise. No real beat, no tune.

The bright side, at least it's a nice view! The Popocateptl letting of some steam.

San Dieguito, pray for us. (and I wouln't mind if you asked God to let me sleep through the drums, oboe-man, and fireworks tonight!)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Gringa's Guide

As Gringas in Mexico, my friends and I have joked about writing a book. This book would share real experiences, real situations, and real advice that you can't get from the Lonely Planet! I was thinking about this today and what kind of chapters might exist in this book.

Ch. 1 Why?...Why Not?
This chapter would be dedicated to answering all of the why questions that surface in the first year abroad. Why does the bus sometimes come for in a row and then not for 20 minutes? Why

Ch. 2 The Weirdest Thing Outside Your Door
This chapter is pretty self explanitory. Each participant would recount the strangest things they've seen on the street in front of their house. My experiences would include tigers and monkeys in a truck selling tickets to the circus and a boxing ring blocking the intersection.

Ch. 3 Say What?
This would be for all of those special little comments that are made by people who think they're being nice or knowledgable but you really want to sock them in the face. Examples would be, "Te ves más llenita" meaning "Wow, you got fat." Another would be upon inquiring why grown children live at home into their forties, getting the response "Es que las familias norteamericanas no son unidas, por eso no entiendes." This means, "US families don't care about eachother, that's why they don't live at home."

Ch. 4 Doing What Will Make Me Sick?
Illnesses in Mexico are just as intriguing as the culture. There are so many things one must learn in order to survive. Walking around with no shoes makes you sick. Getting mad after eating avocado makes you sick. Wind blowing on your back makes you sick. The list goes on and on...

These are just my preliminary ideas, but you get the picture. I think that we could really make some money and take over the culture, travel sections at Barnes and Nobles across the country!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Doubting Shannon

A few weeks ago, my good friend Stephanie called me to tell me that she'd sent me two packages. One had a childbirth workbook and a drawing from Lucy. And the other? Two bags of candy corn pumpkins and a can of pumpkin puree....Essentials for survival, of course.

I was excited when two weeks ago I got the package with the books. Though, I'd be lying if I wasn't bummed that the pumpkins didn't arrive. I invented a whole story to myself that some customs agent in Tijuana was eating all of my candy pumpkins and finally resigned myself to the fact that I would never see those delicious pumpkins...

Until today! Three weeks after she sent it, I got another package! Needless to say, one bag is already almost gone.

So, I'd like to apologize formally to the imagined customs worker who I so meanly portrayed as a pumpkin stealer in my imagination. Dear Mexican Mail Service, I'm sorry. I promise not to doubt you again....about pumpkins.
I just so happen to have a picture of Steph on a Mexicano Postal Bike taken on the day of my wedding. I kind of hope this bike delivered my package. Love you, Steph!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

December Plans

Early this morning, while most of you west-coasters were sleeping, I was buying a plane ticket. Thanks to kayak.com, my new best friend for flights, I was able to get a flight for the 27th to the 30th of December. It's going to be another seriously quick trip, but that was how we could make it work this time. I will be going on my own this time, though I'll be bringing Baby Alvarez for his 2nd trip to the US in his short little lifetime.
So, clear your calendars ladies and gentlemen, that is if you're interested in seeing me. Here are some things I'm looking forward to in my whirlwind trip:

Mom and Dad's House...
I love hanging out with Mom and Dad, the Christmas tree, the stockings, and, all of the CHRISTMAS COOKIES!

Seeing the rest of the family...

Last year was fun with the snow, but I'm hoping for a green Christmas this year. It will make seeing everyone and running errands so much easier.

Erin and I playing in the snow last year.

Justin and Liam and their matching hats from Aunt Donnie.

Caitlin and Josh opening pressies.

Other things I'm looking forward to...

-Seeing friends, hopefully!

-Eggnog Lattes (decaf this year!)

-Salted Caramel Hot Chocolates

-Garden Delights at the Bellevue Botanical Garden

-Target and Baby's R Us, AFTER CHRISTMAS SALES!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Baby Update

Ramon and I went to my 4 month check up yesterday. Baby Alvarez is doing great!

The doctor was surprised by how much the baby grew this past month. He/She was awake and moving around while the doctor used the doppler to hear his/her heartbeat. It was the first time Ramon got to hear his baby's heart beating and he was really exited about it. In 2 or 3 weeks we will have our ultrasound to find out if Baby Alvarez is Al or Ally. It will be a great Thanksgiving present!

I'm pretty excited because so far I've only gained 2 kilos, which is about 4 1/2 lbs. So far, I haven't had any crazy cravings or aversions. Although, I can't go a day without an apple and I really don't want ham. We'll see if I'm still as lucky for the next 5 months!

The bad news is that my doctor is going to be taking a bunch of time off next year to spend more time with her daughter and grandson. Good for her, bad for me. So, I have to come up with a list of doctors so that she can recommend a new one to me. I think it's funny that she told me this right before she took my blood pressure....

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Family and the Holidays

There are a lot of things in life that make you adjust and readjust your definition of family. My definition of family for the first 12 years of my life was Mom, Dad, Erin, and Caitlin. Then, along came Justin and our family grew. 3 years ago, the family grew even more with the arrival of Liam. This past summer, both Ramon and Joshua joined our family.

I've also now joined Ramon's family. Sometimes, though, I kind of feel like I've left my family in order to begin a new one. Ramon and I aren't two individuals anymore, we're one family with a little one on the way.

When I get out of class for Christmas break, I can't just hop on the soonest flight and spend 3 weeks at "home" with "my family." My awareness of this changing definition of family has become more acute as we approach the holidays. It took me a while, but I've adjusted to the fact that I have to work on Thanksgiving. I won't wake up Thanksgiving morning to mom in the kitchen already cooking away and dad looking through the basement for Christmas lights and hanging them. I've adjusted to the fact that Thanksgiving will be made by me, on the Sunday after, and I have to have a bowl of jalapenos between the turkey and the yams.

What's been the hardest, and it's a challenge I haven't ever faced, is the changing definition of Christmas and family. As Ramon and I look at our finances, how little or much that we make, and the financial requirements of the year ahead, (buying a reliable car, moving to a bigger place, paying for hospital bills and everything a new baby requires), flying both of us to the States at the busiest travel time of the year just isn't as easy as it was last year when it was only me.

It's hard for me to believe, and even harder for my raging pregnancy hormone infested self to come to terms with the fact that I may not be in Bellevue or have "my" family around me this December 25th. Nothing is decided definitively yet, but I know the challenge that awaits me. I need to be okay with whatever happens. If we get to go to WA, I can share my family traditions with Ramon. If we stay, he can show me his. Either way, we'll get to know eachother even better and start making family traditions of our own.