Tuesday, December 4, 2012


So, I'm a little late and it's already December. For those who gag at thankfulness, like me, and thought that we were done with it for another 11 months, sorry. I made a promise and I want to keep it.

22. Face paint. I have some pretty magical pictures of AV and face paint that I would love to show you. I just can't seem to get them from my phone to the computer, so you're going to have to trust me on this one. If the child didn't have enough personality as it is, add face paint and she is out of this world.

23. Mexican traffic. Oh wait. That's a total lie. But, at least I have a car and can drive. So we'll take that as a win.

24. My job. I know I used this one before, but now it's for a different reason. This reason being that I'm pretty certain I'm not getting one single Christmas gift from a child/parent. Weird? Maybe, but that's okay with me. The only thing I might miss a little is never having to buy shower gel, like, ever.

25. Liam. My very first nephew. He recognized my voice when I called the other day, with no caller id or anything. Love that kid.

26. Connor. My very second nephew. Mom said he has two-year-old selective hearing. When she said it was time to brush his teeth, he escaped to the garage to brush the dog's teeth.

27. Sawyer. My very third nephew. He doesn't sleep and his parents haven't exploded or turned into wild animals and eaten him as their prey. He's one lucky kid to have been born to them and not to me.

28. Twilight Movies. Ramon and I went to the movies for the first time since before AV was born. The only movie starting remotely close to the time when we arrived was the new Twilight movie. We had not seen any other movies and loved it. Mostly because we were cracking up the entire time. At one point, Ramon turned to me and whispered, "It's like a cross between Karate Kid and The Incredibles." Sorry, vampire lovers. The scenery was nice, though.

29. 19 days until we are homeward bound. It feels so nice.

30. Christmas decorations. I can finally say that all of our Christmas decor has a story and a purpose. Everything except the icicle lights, but, whatev. I have gotten rid of everything I don't like or want and I'm happy to see it decorating classrooms around school. I have also finally learned how to make a proper paper snowflake. I may spend too much time doing this now.

Had I given you all my thankfulness in November, you wouldn't have gotten that last one. Aren't you happy I waited?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanks, Mexico

I have decided to dedicate the thankfulness for this week to Mexico. I am not always thankful for Mexico. In fact, I am often quite the opposite. So, here is me attempting to be reflective. We'll see how it goes.

17. Thankful to Mexico for giving me the opportunity to become an adult, a professional, a wife, and a mother. These are all accomplishments that I don't always do well, but I've also never done anywhere else. I was a college student in the US, that's like fake adulthood. It doesn't really count as being an adult until you're making all your own money, not raiding your parents' fridge and cupboards for groceries, and buying your own washing machine.

18. Thankful for Thanksgiving in Mexico. It is the one holiday that I can recreate here and it feels right. Every other holiday is off in some way, big or small. The only ever so slight (but horrific nonetheless) accommodation I have to make is the addition of a plate of jalapenos on the Thanksgiving table. It's awful and I make sure it's not near me, but other than that, everything is just right. I can't say the same for Christmas.

19. Thankful that on my drive to work I can pretty much guarantee some sort of strange thing. Like cows grazing in the median of the highway. A giant truck full of pigs. A volcanic eruption. Etc. These are all totally normal and acceptable and I'm thankful that they are. You're not going to see that in Seattle.

20. I'm grateful for our little family of pilgrims from all over the world who have decided to make Puebla or the American School (or some combination of the two) our home.

21. I'm thankful that I get to wear sunglasses every day of the year. That is not something I could ever do in Seattle. Thank you, Mexico.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 16, 2012

A couple more

15. I'm thankful that I'm anal about what time I leave for work. Not only do I miss most of the traffic, but if I leave by 7:02 at the latest, of the 21 minute commute approximately 18 minutes are music. If I leave any later then the last 5+ minutes of my commute are either horoscopes (do people honestly think that a certain color underwear is going to change your destiny?) or the sappy and inspirational daily reflection (if I wanted to cry my eyes out on my way to work, I wouldn't do my makeup. Give a working mom a break, will ya!) 6:59-7:02 is the window anything after that is a failure. It's unnerving that I know this, but I'm really thankful that I do.

16. I'm thankful that my kid loves and responds well to bribes. Maybe this isn't great parenting, but it sure gets things done and done well. Don't want a fit in the grocery store? Bribe her with a yogurt. Want the toys cleaned up? Bribe her with some fruit snacks. Want obedience? Sticker chart. Am I conditioning my child? Probably. Am I worried about that? A little. Is it working? Yes, so questions one and two are pretty much null and void.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Here go some more for you gluttons for my written punishment.

8. I'm thankful for the realization that there is a reason people do this each day. Coming up with 7 in one day is a daunting task. I don't know that I will learn a lesson, but I did only say I was  thankful for the realization.

9. I'm thankful for second, third, fourth, and fifth chances at parenting. As I have mentioned, and many you have observed first-hand, parenting is not one of the skills I would put at the top of my list of killer party tricks. It's more of a work-in-progress or, more accurately, one step shy of disaster. Today involved in episode where it was unclear who was the two-year old, AV or me. It was ugly. It ended. (Thank you, Jesus.) And all is well again after a drinkable yogurt, half an hour sitting on the potty with zero production and a couple episodes of Max and Ruby. We are both new women. Oh, and just for clarification, AV was the one on the potty.

10. I'm thankful that after 7 years in this country, living in the state of Puebla, I will finally FINALLY fly out of the Puebla airport. The airport has one runway, two gates and even though we have a 7 am flight on December 23rd, we still won't have to get there until 6 at the earliest, because any earlier and the airport will still be closed.

11. I'm thankful for hand-me-down magazines. I don't care when their publishing date was and the crappier the magazine the better. Later on I will be reading Southern Living (which is correct in the sense that I live fairly far south and for no other reason) from November 2010 and will love every second of it.

12. I'm thankful for 40 degree temperature changes during the day. It means that even if I'm cold in the morning, I know I won't be in a little bit. It means I get to use air-conditioning and heat in my car every day. It means that it can be 40 degrees at 6:45 am and 80 degrees at 2:45 pm.

13. I'm thankful that I finally have enough money in my bank account to be able to go to the store just because I feel like it and need shampoo. I can buy the shampoo, and about 15 other things just cause I feel like it and it doesn't mean that I now have to be extra careful with my spending the rest of the month. Maybe it's wrong to be thankful for the ability to be a frivolous spender in some occasions, but it feels real nice.

14. I'm thankful for fresh cranberries existing in Mexico. Fi Nuh Lee. I may have spent an arm and two legs for 4 (count 'em) bags of fresh cranberries. I have no idea how many cranberries it takes to make cranberry sauce and I need to make it for three (count 'em) Thanksgivings. I have never been so pumped about this little bean-shaped fruit in my life. The bag says they're a product of Mexico. Just where do you think the cranberry bogs are in this country?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


6. Coffee. I used to be against coffee. Then, I started drinking it. Then, I realized how much I love it. I especially love that the woman who arrives to the office first in the mornings will tell me when the coffee's ready and sometimes will even ask me for my mug so she can serve me a cup. So, I guess I'm thankful for coffee and anyone who facilitates its arrival to me.

7. I'm thankful for perspective. I just about closed my facebook yesterday. I thought grateful messages of joy and love jibberjabber made me want to gag. What is truly vomit-licious is facebook politics. I throw-up in my mouth a little just thinking about it.

Here's my question. When did the USA become a nation of extremists? I've only been gone for seven (7?!) years and all of a sudden you're either a far-right tea-party religious extremist or a far-left moral-hating socialist. Or at least that's what my reliable news source tells me. Thanks again, fb.

Excuse me? I missed something somewhere. If one thing defines Americans, it is a love for our country. Why has this essence of our patriotism been forgotten?

I say I am thankful for perspective because I have had the opportunity to understand myself, my country, my faith from many perspectives; living out of the country being one of the greatest opportunities afforded me. I have heard what others think of us, good and bad. I have reflected on my role as a citizen and representative of my country while abroad. I have lived in two systems, while both democratic, both very different. I can recognize, though not always agree nor completely understand, the point of view of each side.

I firmly believe that there are few, if any, Americans who do not believe in working for the greater good both through and outside of the government. I firmly believe that "the greater good" does not have one definition or one way of being achieved. I firmly believe that people need to take names and labels out of things and discuss issues. Tolerance does not mean we need to agree; it means we need to dialogue and defend each other's right to an opinion.

Number 7 got long. You're thankful today that I'm done writing.

Monday, November 5, 2012

I need this.

Everyone's loving the thankful days of November. It's like the antithesis of Lent when everyone gives up facebook. Nope. In November, we blow everyone's feeds up with what we love and are grateful for.

Why then, does it make me want to gag each time I read them? I came to this realization today as I read the fifty-billionth thankful post (I'm that cool on the ol' fb). I'm like the grinch who stole Thanksgiving. Except for the fact that Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday both in the US and in Mexico.

It occurred on me that I might just need to get on board. Not because everyone is doing it, but because I need an attitude check. There has to be something wrong with a person who gets gaggy about thankfulness. There also has to be something wrong with a person who loves to write but hasn't done it since August.

So, it won't be on facebook, and I can't guarantee you it will happen daily. What I will challenge myself to do is give you 30 things for which I am thankful and don't make me want to gag. I can't promise you won't want to gag; that will depend on your own reflexes and tolerances.

Without further adieu, I give you the first five.

1. I am thankful for my job. To clarify, I do not always like my job. I am often overwhelmed and consistently feeling as though I am biting off more than I could ever possibly chew. But then I see kids like the kids I saw today in 6th grade speaking with such confidence and I know that whatever dent, however tiny and insignificant, that I will make, will be worth it.

2. I am thankful for my child. To clarify, I do not always like my child. I'm fairly certain she does not always like me. But, we need each other. She makes me realize how impatient and impossible I am through her own impatience and impossibility. We end up in tears together at least once a week, but it always ends by hugging it out and a big kiss. That makes it worth it.

3. I am thankful for my diet. To clarify, I do not like my diet. It has taken from me all that is holy and delicious- Coca-cola, bread and candy being the main three. It has also taken away over 3 kilos in 2 weeks. For those of you who think in pounds and kilos is gibberish, that's almost 7. Seven pounds. I don't need or want them back and I am happy they are gone and taking friends with them.

4. I am thankful for my husband. To clarify, I do not always like my husband. As with my child, I am certain that he does not always like me. He likes me least when I have not slept well. To his benefit, I don't like me much those days either. He works his booty off. He loves his daughter like crazy. And we  are both aware and inspired by the fact that we have made a commitment to each other for life.

5. I am thankful for my cleaning lady. It costs me less than 20 bucks a week and it means I never have to scrub my toilets or showers. To clarify, I am not against or above cleaning my own home. Sometimes I do it. But, guess what? I'm okay with not doing it. It doesn't make me less of a mom, less of a wife, less of a homemaker. It makes me a realist. And I'm okay with that.

More again soon. I hope you didn't gag.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Starting Over

There are just a lot of moments in my life lately that I wish there was a "Start Over" button.

Have you had a two-year-old before? I swear to you that I now understand why people have a second child before the first child turns two, because once you have a two-year-old, the whole game changes.

If two is any foreshadow for 15, Lord, help me. I'm probably not going to make it.

I know my child isn't anything out of the ordinary and I should be jumping for joy, praising the heavens and thanking all those lucky stars for having a healthy, smart, spunky and beautiful little girl. I should. But, you know what? Sometimes I can't even muster up the strength to be thankful for surviving til bedtime.

Maybe I thought that patience came as part of the deal for going through childbirth? Apparently I forgot to pick that one up when we checked out of the hospital.

Maybe I thought disciplining my own child would be like disciplining other people's children? Let me tell you, I rock at disciplining other people's kids. They are not cute. They are not mine. Mine? I suck. I can't keep a straight face unless I'm so pissed or so at the end of my rope that hurling myself out the window seems like vacation.

Then, she comes over, gives me a pat on the back and says, "I'm proud of you, Mommy. You did a peepee in the potty. Marshmallow?" And other than wanting to punch my own self in the face for being so impatient and psycho, I also want to die because she's just so stinking cute.

Lord, please don't stop giving me those "Start Over" moments. This crazy mama sure needs them.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A balloon

Today we had our first pet.

Today AV's little world came crashing down around her, as well.

It was a puppy. A balloon puppy, but a puppy nonetheless. This little puppy came to us by way of her auntie who got him from a clown on her bus ride home from work. That isn't actually a joke at all. It is completely normal, if not expected, to encounter one or more clowns on a bus trip. They attempt to liven the journey with some jokes and pull your heartstrings and your wallet zippers to offer one or more coins for their humor. And sometimes, you just end up with a tiny blue balloon puppy as a consolation prize for your trip on public transportation.

Ana was stoked. The puppy got a name. I never quite caught or deciphered what the name was, but the wow-wow balloon puppy was instantly a part of her world. He ate lunch with us. He came to get a haircut with us. There was slight panic when he became covered with tiny pieces of hair that stuck instantly and permanently thanks to laws of static electricity. He had ice cream with us and helped us hang up the laundry.

It was decided that he would take a bath with AV, too. I noticed as we headed upstairs that puppy's tail was lacking the spunk it had had when I met him a few hours earlier. And then, it happened. Halfway through the bath, all covered in soap, so much joy in her little two-year-old heart.

Puppy became a worm.

Tears. Screams. A sadness so sad that I really tried not to laugh. Really I did, kind of.

A balloon! A balloon! A balloon! A balloon! The poor child screamed.

We had to talk about how the worm, I mean the puppy, was now going to be garbage. It's okay to be sad. It's okay to be disappointed. Maybe someday, some way, another balloon puppy will join our family.

And as quickly as it came, our first pet left our family. Daddy never even had the chance to meet it. I'm pretty sure we're going to stick to non-living pets, thank you very much.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A New Respect

I have a renewed and profound respect for my husband.

Why you might ask? It's not because of the long hours he works. It's not because of his love for his family. It's not because of how he finds a way to balance work and home.

No. It's none of those things.

He cuts the grass.

Our backpatch has newly planted grass. It is growing quite nicely. So nicely, in fact, that it required a bit of sheering. Now, our backpatch is not worthy of a lawn mower. I think a lawn mower might actually be like a quarter of the size of the entire yard. It's not even really worthy of a weed eater (though I'm starting to rethink this). We use scissors. Okay, that's maybe a little bit of a lie, but it sounds so much better. And grass clippers technically are a type of (very big and pretty sharp) scissors.

I took it upon myself to cut the backpatch today. This has been a manly husbandly job in our casa up until today, and as things are shaping up, I think it shall continue to be.

First, it's actually a lot harder than it looks.

Second, you can't get it even. No matter how hard you try, there are sections that are taller than others. When you try to fix it, it then becomes shorter than all the other area around it thus leading you to continue cutting, assessing, re-cutting, raking, re-assessing, cutting, and on and on and on.

Third, I think my forearms are going to fall off at the elbow. You are seriously lucky that I mustered enough energy to actually write this post because I can feel the pain in my arms as I type. Here's to hoping that AV learns to take off her own clothes, change her own diaper, open the fridge and make her own food and grows tall enough to turn on the water and wash her own hair all in the next 2 hours. I'm relatively certain that by four o'clock I won't be able to lift my arms.

On another, much less painful, gardening note, my garden is growing. My Garden Is Growing! I'm considering radish farming as my next entrepreneurial endeavor because those babies popped up so fast in perfect rows and are growing like champs. Nothing like a few sprouts to motivate this amateur gardener. The carrots are starting to look like carrots, the tomatoes are sprouting and the peas are going to need poles soon so they can grow onward and upward.

I can't say the same for the school garden we planted with our fifth graders. One of the maintenance guys took a look at it with my partner the other day and confirmed that our "sprouts" weren't the fruits of any of the seeds we planted but, in fact, grass that blew in and took root in our planter. So, needless to say, I'm working on spring break. We planted new seeds and will be heading to school next week to replant the garden. But, how psyched will the kids be when they come back from vacation and have sprouts all over their planter. Let's just hope they don't notice that they're not the same plants.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Here's to Hoping

I have planted a garden.

This from the girl who, after I stopped getting paid five cents a bag to pick the "little yellow flowers" growing in my parents' backyard, despised just about everything garden related. I can pin it down to a few reasons. I think I was always on weed duty. No one wants to pick weeds. I also know that the dinner menu at the Hickey house from the day the first lettuce is ripe (Does lettuce get ripe? See. I'm a newbie.) to the day the last squash is picked (usually the size of a human arm because it somehow got lost under the leaves for 3 days too long) is salad. That was a long sentence, but the point is the fat child in me doesn't like the memory of constant salad consumption. I'm pretty certain I always got the one bug that didn't rinse away, too.

Those reasons, to me, are enough to be understandably put off by gardening. But, then I had a baby. And then I bought a house. Something about having a baby and having a house ignited the necessity for a garden. Must have plants to eat.

Last August when my Mom "The Green Thumb" came to visit, we went on a special outing to get plants. She chose hardy plants that would be the most likely to survive (aka I might have to try to kill them) and some herbs. Easy enough? Well, today, I can tell you that all of those plants are dead. Everything except for a little pine tree that I planted 4 years ago. Although, Ramon was happy to point out to me that it's probably still alive because (exact words translated) "they live even if you don't water them in six months." Ouch.

When we decided that the grass in our back patch needed to be changed, I excitedly suggested that we make a place for the garden. He looked at me, looked at the planters either empty or home to a dead plant, and looked back at me. "We" decided that the whole back patch would be grass for now. Oh yeah, I call it a back patch because I don't think it can quite be classified as a yard if it only takes about 3 steps to get from one end to the other.

I may not have a place in the patch for the garden, but I do have 6 plastic planters of various sizes. Having something other than dead plants in them was motivation enough for me to try again. That and a packet of seeds costs like a buck. We went to home depot (hard h sound from the back of the throat and please pronounce the t at the end) and AV chose peas, Ramon chose cherry tomatoes, and I chose radishes, carrots, parsley and basil.

I have no idea if I planted them correctly because the packet told me how to plant them by using centimeters of depth and distance apart from each plant and centimeters still are pretty much gibberish and not a real measurement in my book.

The good news is I remembered to water them today. The other good news is that I have them in the front so I have to walk by them at least twice a day which is conducive to watering, as well. The other other good news is that we got water finally over the weekend, so there's actually water with which to water them.

I planted approximately one dollar worth of seeds. If I get at least one dollar worth of vegetables out of the project, I'll call that a rousing success.

Here's to hoping.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Sometimes it's just still the 3rd world.

I may drive a nice car.

I may make a decent (which is a very relative term) amount of money.

I may have a Master's degree.

My husband may have just been promoted.

We may have a new home.

...But, sometimes, some days, it just really kicks me in the face, to put it nicely, that I'm living in the third world.

How many of you have ever had to think about how and when the water gets into your pipes? How the water gets from the magic water world somewhere deep down under the Earth's surface into the shower and the toilets?

I'm willing to bet that not many.

Here in the C-wow (We'll call it C-wow since I'm also willing to bet it would take you about fifteen minutes to figure out how to pronounce Cuautlancingo, the name of the city where I live.) water is supposed to come in on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. We have a 5,000 liter cistern built under our driveway/front yard. 5,000 liters sounds like a serious amount of water, and it is. Topping it off every other day also sounds reasonable, if not more than enough. I would agree with you up until the little factoid that I failed to mention. The water is not always opened on the days when it's supposed to be. In fact, the last time I heard water falling was over a week ago and it only lasted for about 45 minutes. Before that, it had been over a month.

Now, since we've already paid the year's worth of water, a whopping 75 bucks (we got a discount for paying early. Cha-ching), I had the 1st world expectation that water would abound and everything would run like clockwork. 6 years in Mexico and I just can't seem to learn that things don't work the same way. The government offices which are half painted one color and half painted another, are open from 8:30-4:30. There is one person who can solve the problem. I called on Tuesday at 4:15 and got transferred, I mean hung up on. I called again at 4:16 and dialed the extension for the management and got the extension for the warehouse. I called again at 4:17 and the one person who could solve the problem wasn't in the office. But, I was assured that the message would be communicated and a solution would be found.

I have learned enough to doubt that response. On Wednesday, I rushed home after work, choked down lunch, grabbed AV and tried to get to the office before 4:30. I miraculously got there at 4:29. The one person who could solve the problem left at 4:28. Another message was taken. This time in a ratty, ripped up notebook where they wrote my name (and by my name I mean Ramon's name because after trying to spell and say my names for the last 6 years, I've opted to just use names that can be comprehended with ease), my (Ramon's) phone number and our address with a very detailed explanation. "No water, Solve." I left with the promise that the one person would get in contact with us first thing.

Today is Thursday. No water came in. The person didn't call. And Ana has learned what a washcloth bath and a bath in a bucket are. I have used the water from warming up the bucket bath to rinse off my dishes and we are considering the possibility of letting "yellow mellow," if you know what I mean. I am adamantly anti-mellow.

While this sucks as much as it does, I remind myself that I've lived a privileged life. I've never wondered where the water in the pipes comes from and when it might stop coming. Until 6 years ago, I opened the faucet and drank the water that came out. There are many (probably a majority of this planet's population) that have doubts about when and how they will get clean water, if clean water is, in fact, a plausible reality. Challenges call for creativity and open-mindedness, who would have thought that AV would get such a kick out of the washcloth and bucket baths?

My point? When you turn on your faucet tonight and water comes out, take a second to say thank you.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Extreme Laundry: The "Your Dryer Can't Do This" Edition

Alternate title: When OCD and laundry collide.

We've talked about laundry.

We've talked about how it is one of those chores that has some sort of connection to Mother Nature.

We've talked about how I might become a dryer owner in 2012.

If I do, there will be one thing I miss. Only one. And, I'm really not that sure how much I'll miss it.

Laundry hanging in the Alvarez household (at least when it's me doing the laundry, which it probably is) is quite the undertaking.

I have a method that must be followed. It's because I'm a visionary, you see. I envision myself 4 hours later (or 24 depending on the weather) taking down and folding said clothing. Since laundry is an all day undertaking, there must be some way to make the process simpler.

Now, I'm not so sure I've made this simpler, but I have made the process interesting.

Enough introduction? I thought so.

When the laundry is finished washing, the hanging process is key. I hang all the clothes by type. Starting with PJs. I don't know why I start there, but I always do. I hang up all the PJs, first all the one pieces (btw, we're talking AV's clothes. Ramon and I don't wear footie pjs anymore.) Then all the separates (matched, duh.) Then come the pants- hung by one leg. I don't hang them by the waist because that's the thickest part and will stay wet longer. I don't hang both legs; that takes too much space. After come the onesies. Hang white onesies, then t-shirts, then long sleeves. Last come the socks. I match them from the start. The only break those little pairs get from each other is the free for all in the basin, then it's every one partnered up as it should be.

I know what you're thinking. "I knew she was strange, but, like, whoa, crazy pants. Sorry for her husband."

But, think about it. When it comes to folding, the organizing is already done for me. I don't have that disgusting bed or floor or couch piled high with clothes (don't lie, you've all been there and some of you are there right now and reading this instead of folding.) The laundry practically folds itself. That may or may not be a blatant lie, but, you've got to admit that the plan is pretty ingenious.

And that, my friends, is something that you never knew your dryer couldn't do. When, God willing, a dryer becomes a member of the family, I just hope AV is old enough to fold her own clothes. I mean, I hope I can sacrifice the OCD laundry hanger in me...

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ash Wednesday

Today marks the beginning of Lent. I think it more often is like the Catholic's New Year's Resolution. Plus, it marks a sad day for candy makers and coffee pots worldwide. 

Not in my house, though. I know myself and Jesus well enough to know that one way to get me to the peace found only in Christ is a big fat Snickers bar or a caramel macchiato. 

Being the good Catholic mother that I am, I took Miss Ana to church this afternoon. At one of the convents/schools in Cholula (aka the city with 365 churches, one of every day of the year, no joke) the friars give out ashes all day long. I don't know that they are officially called friars, but they wear brown robes and rope belts and look just like Friar Tuck, so friars it is. Ana and I walked in and she got psyched. One of her favorite things to do is go and see Papa Dios. 

She liked it right until the exact moment the friar slapped some ashes on my forehead. 

Screams. Tears. Yelling.

Apparently she doesn't like so much that from ashes we have come and to ashes we will return. Or maybe she doesn't really want to repent and live the gospel. I don't know, but what I do know is that church has some excellent acoustics. Those screams reverberated with great magnitude.

In my case, my Lenten goal is to get out of bed when the alarm goes off every morning. Want to know why? I knew you did. I've learned about myself that I have a hard time separating the happenings of the world around me with my personal outlook on life. Meaning that since this has been a hard year at school, I've begun to convince myself that everything else pretty much sucks, too. The drivers speed, cut me off, and I begin to believe that people really only care about themselves. Which, in reality, is so not true. 

I have a beautiful and loving family both near and far. I have a child who rocks my world. I have a husband who loves me. I have a job where I have potential to grow. I have friends both near and far. I have a roof over my head that isn't just a roof but our own home. I have dreams that are coming to fruition. I am challenging myself to grow as a teacher. And I have two new pair of shoes and when I wore one pair, my feet weren't bleeding or killing me at the end of the day.  

There is so much good.

There is so much hope.

My goal is to get up every morning and remember that. Not dread the day ahead, but be thankful that I have a day ahead of me full of possibilities. There is always the possibility that the day will completely blow, but there's also the possibility that it will rock. 

Plus, if I get up earlier, there's more time to drink coffee before work.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

She might be a Gringa after all.

There is no mistaking that my little AV is a Mexican through and through. The kid loves beans. She loves tortillas. She practices the recording from the Pan de Dulce VW bus that passes by. And, the way she says mommy sounds more like mami...and yes, there is a difference.

I was scared there for a while that my little Mexican-American might be more the former than the latter. By scared, I don't really mean scared, but nervousness bodes well for making a story just that much more enticing.

I think 2012 will be the year for AV to own her inner Gringa.

Let's start with peanut butter. Any good American (and by American, I mean someone from the USA since that's what we generally call ourselves, not because I think that the only Americans are from the USA. Take that, global perspective. Booya) grows up on PB sandwiches. Today she snacked on PB and Ritz crackers and was in heaven. Hello, little Gringa, I think I love you.

Delicious is one of her new fave words. It's not so easy to please her little palette these days, so when I hear a delicious, I'll take it. I've gotten a full on, eyes closed, looking towards heaven, can hear angels singing delicious response for three foods: the aforementioned Ritz and Skippy, Hamburgers complete with Kraft cheese slices, and fish sticks.

Fish sticks? Really, AV? You won't eat a nugget, you won't eat any other form of meat (excepting the burger), but you'll devour 5 fish sticks in one sitting? I don't even know and I probably don't want to know what part of the fish makes up the "stick." But, it's protein and if we count the ketchup as a veggie, we've got ourselves a meal.

Good thing Lent is coming up, amiga.

Ranch dressing. Does it get more gringo than that? She tried it for the first time yesterday. Dipped, sucked, dipped, sucked, dipped, got yelled at, gnawed a little on the ranch vehicle, I mean carrot stick, dipped. Classic American Kid.

Even though my little Gringa prefers to say "papas" instead of "potatoes," says "mira" but won't say "look it," and would a million times rather go the the "calle" than go out for "a ride in the car," she's got that Gringa in her. And I love it.

Friday, February 10, 2012

An Ode to Bad Spelling

Let it be known that I used to be one of the world's worst spellers. So bad that in a 6th grade spelling bee, my teacher gave me the easiest word and I spelled it wrong. Mammal is not, in fact, spelled mammel. Damn you, schwa and your undeterminable "uh" sound.

Let it also be known that I also was in high rankings for one of the most gullible people on the planet. My mother had no problem convincing me that playing Scrabble on a Friday night was just about the bees' knees when it comes to a wild night. It was not until (too) much later that I found out that she was tricking me into learning to spell.

I am now a pretty darn good speller. In two languages at that. Which is why I probably love (a little too much) all of the spelling mistakes I see around me. People also just don't have the same relationship with spell check that I do, I guess.

Por ejemplo. There's a little store around the corner that sells all sorts of things like furniture, lamps, mirrors, etc. It's called Deyabu. Gosh, why do I feel like I've seen this word before? Oh yeah, I have seen this word before it was just spelled déjà vu when I saw it last.

Or how about this one for you hungry folks. This little place not only has Laounch-to-go where you can get some succulent barbecued quail or rabbit, but you can also get your car washed. That's normal. But, that's not all. If while you dine or your car is being washed, something is found to be failing, you can take it to the auto shop that also doubles as a cock fighting ring. And, as if car washing, quail dining, car fixing and cock fighting weren't enough, you can also get some new plants for your house at the nursery. Much more than laounch-to-go, I'd say.

Maybe your lunch and car wash turned into a wild night at the fights, once you've picked up a plant as a peace offering for your spouse, (which btw I just tried to spell with a c, bad speller in me won't completely die), you'll want to take her out for a drink. If she's a spelling enthusiast like yours truly, her first look at the menu will be to see how this particular restaurant has chosen to spell the drink traditionally known as the Bloody Mary. What will it be? And, yes, I've seen all of these and I'm not inventing. A Bloddy Mary sound good? Or maybe you'd like a Bloody Merry. That sounds pleasant. Or perhaps a Vlodi Mari would be most exotic.

My sister's most favorite bad spelling came in the form of an internet reference from one of my students my first year of teaching. The rule was that the poster had to have a reference. What do any wise fifth graders do in a pickle when they've  realized that they may have missed that tiny detail? Why, they shall invent the website themselves. I still do wonder what I'd find if I looked up www.unaitstats.com or www.childlavorinunaitstats.org. If you can't figure it out that would be United States dot com and Child Labor in United States dot org, naturally.

So from one mammel to another, all I can say is that spelling, once you figure out how and embrace the fact that you once couldn't, can bring you much more joy than you could have possibly expected.

Yeah, either that, or you're a nerd like me.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Things I Might Become

I've decided that there are some things I might become in 2012. Some people may call these resolutions, but since we're already in February and resolutions generally have to be things that are good for you, I have decided they shall be named, Things to Become.

First, I might become one of those people who drinks a coffee and a coke every single day. This coming from the girl who has spent hours a week making all natural baby food, from a girl who still spends hours a week making homemade yogurt, and girl who just recently converted her entire cleaning supply closet to all natural cleaners. (Except bleach and Ajax, because nothing's really ever clean without them). Back to the coffee.  I've been drinking decaf since I was pregnant enough to not vomit it all over myself and others. Over share. You don't mind. That means we're at about 2 and a half years of caffeine free. So, since I drink decaf, that means I can have more. Plus, I have a new reusable Starbucks cold beverage cup, and it's getting close to the hot season.

Coca-cola, on the other hand, has just about nothing in it that could remotely be considered good for you. But, let me ask you, have you ever had Mexican Coke? If you've had it out of a glass bottle at a side of the road taco stand, then you, my friend, have drunk the nectar of the gods. I like how Coke changes my perspective on life in general right around 11:34 am when I've just finished the morning round of students and the probability of my giving a few students atomic wedgies from the flag pole are a little too high.

Second, I might become something other than a fifth-grade teacher. I wish that statement meant that I was becoming like a principal, or a yoga instructor, or, I don't know, rich. But, alas, I think I shall turn my sights on another grade. I've been teaching fifth grade for five out of my six years in Mexico, with one year in sixth grade. I can tell you a few things from this experience. I don't like sixth graders. I love fifth graders in August. I don't love fifth graders from April-June. I have had two years of rough groups and rough times and although I love the curriculum, am comfortable, know what I'm doing and have zero desire to pack up my classroom and lug it across the school, it might be time to become a different-grade teacher.

Third, I might not become a hunchback. Not that there's anything wrong with Quasimoto or however you could phonetically or non-phonetically spell that name, but I think it's time to improve my posture. I'm a lump. Gut out, shoulders hunched. It's gross. So, whenever you see me, tell me to stand up straight. If I don't see you a lot, it'll be a nice reminder. If I do see you a lot, expect a sucker punch to the stomach after about reminder number five. Fair warning.

Fourth, I might become a member of a mom group. Now this one is less of a might and more of a plans are already in the works. Anyone who is a parent knows that the job isn't easy. Anyone who has lived in a place other than "home" knows that that's not easy, either. Now put together parenting with a different cultural set of priorities, ideals, remedies, etc and you can get yourself a recipe for parenting disaster or, in my case, CMM, Consistent Mothering Meltdown. I am lucky enough to have a small group of ladies around me in similar parenting situations. Another perk is that they're my friends and I like them and their children. Which, btw, is not easy to find. Either you like the kid and not the parent, or like the parent and the kid's a whiner. Anyway, I've got myself a group of gals and we are going to make this happen. And believe you me, I can't wait.

Sit up straight, Shan.

And last, but most certainly not least, I might use 2012 to become a dryer owner. Mother Nature, if she reads my blog, is probably gasping right now at my display of sheer lack of environmental mindedness. But, Mother Nature, if she does read this, go take a look at a few extreme laundry posts and maybe get your act together before judging. Becoming a dryer owner is pending access to available financial resources. And by that I mean, would it be weird to start a fund?

See, not resolutions? Not once did I say that I am going to exercise every day and eat only raw foods and buy organic. But, if they do sell organic coke, I could maybe get on board if it tasted just right.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

A Few Things

A few things have become apparent lately. Like, it's become apparent that maybe I'm not really a blogger anymore. Here's how that happened.

I got a BlackBerry.

That means I now have a facebook and email machine wherever I go. That, in turn, means that I don't really need to turn on the computer as often. The not turning on the computer severely diminishes the guilt felt when noticing how many of my other friends have posted in the time lapsed between my last ramble.

But, here's the thing, it has also become apparent that my friends on facebook are either one of two extremes and that makes reading facebook a little exhausting. With 2012 bringing with it elections in my two countries and, according to the Mayas, the end of the world as we know it, I'm finding it apparent that I need to find something other than the fb to occupy my time.

Since you all loooooove to read the most purposeful and life-bringing musings that I have to offer, I think I shall turn my attention back on blogging.

You are welcome.