And together we learn

Thursday, April 07, 2011

The sounds of Mexico

So you're going to have to be a little patient with me here. Due to an unfortunate spill a few months ago, the E, R, S, G, and C keys are...fickle. Capricious. They either don't work at all, and I spend many minutes jiggling them, caressing the keys, hoping they'll work. Or they hyper work--giving me a steady stream of rrrrrrrrrrrrr's, when all I wanted was one! Now is a good time--things are moving nicely, but who knows how long this will last? And let's face it, e,r,s,g and c are kind of important letters!

So I'll take advantage of the good keyboard moment to actually post.

Let's talk about the sounds of Mexico for a minute. The sounds of Mexico are...loud. And there are lots of them. For starters, there are the horns. Every time our assistant starts or stops her car, the horn beeps 4 times. This is entirely normal, and no one thinks anything of it. If I try to get into my car by *unlocking the door with the key*, then opening the door--the car alarm goes crazy. You have to use the clicker to unlock. Anything else and you're a car thief. Once I was inside the car in the passenger seat and needed to get out to open the trunk. Bad idea. Loud, long honking ensued for my audacity.

So the horns. There are lots, and they're loud, and it's kind of funny.

There are other great sounds, too. The flag raising ceremony every morning at 7, with drums, bugles, and singing. Raucous, exotic bird calls remind me constantly that we are very far south. The sounds of people calling out what food or services they're selling. Bells from the cathedral ring every half hour, then sometimes for no reason at all (that I can figure).

I live on a little street with 14 row houses-7 on each side. I can clearly hear my across the way neighbors (who speak Cantonese at home, and Mandarin with me, btw) in casual conversation. I hear the small baby kitty corner from us who cries in the evening. I hear tantrums of the 3 year old Chinese girl.

Do you realize what this means????? That every. single. noise. that my preshus ones make can be heard. By everyone out there. And people, they make a lot of noise. Wild rumpuses that would have been normal at home are amplified by our close proximity and tile floors. I nag and plead and hiss and fuss at them, but the noisy is still with us, and that means with our neighbors, also. Sigh. At least they're normally quieter than the car alarms!

Friday, April 01, 2011

So we live in Mexico now. Been here for a month. Crazy, no? Since living in a foreign country is kind of a big deal in terms of life experiences, some kind of a record is probably in order. So, Andrea, Stephanie, Emily, Britt, and everyone else who has been hinting---this is for you!!!

Our maid came today. The one who works for 12 dollars a day. She comes at 7 in the morning with 2 liters of fresh squeezed orange juice. Seriously. Then she spends 4 hours mopping, scrubbing, and washing dishes. She might be one of my very favorite things about this country. 12 dollars a day??? Tell me you wouldn't do the exact same thing if you were here.

We kept the kids home from school today--there was a field trip that we didn't send them on, and sometimes I just miss them. The boys played with water in the sink and the girls had a Barbie extravaganza going on. And of course we watched The One and Only Genuine Original Family Band. I was super smart and packed exactly 4 movies. TOaOGOFB being one of them. I'm so glad I've watched it 15 times now. And also that Calvin thinks the US has 38 states. If you haven't seen this Disney classic yet, it's darling. Just a bit much after the 15th viewing. But there really isn't anything better than hearing Sammy sing all the songs word for word.

Steve took the big kids to the Purissima (farmer's market) late tonight. They bought 3 kilos of mangos for $1.50, 2 kilos of strawberries for $3, fresh pineapple, and apples. Oh, and a kilo is 2.2 pounds. Steve says that when he's weighing the pros and cons of living here permanently, the purissima instantly throws the balance in favor of staying here forever. I'm not quite so convinced, but there are definitely some pretty amazing things about this place.

There. Now the first post is done, and that was the hardest part. Pictures, stories, you name it, they're all going to be flowing here at my little URL!!! What else am I going to do with my life of leisure here?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A perfect, perfect day

It was my birthday!! I love birthdays. Even as an adult, you just feel so darn special to be walking around, knowing that it's your time to shine. Knowing that I could walk into any restaurant and command a free dessert, just by virtue of being born.?It's a giddy feeling.

My darling girls made me pancakes for breakfast, on their own, for the very first time ever. And they fed the little boys and I got to play on facebook. There's bliss right there for you.

Lunch out with the sisters and family people. Huge salads and yummy ice cream. This day was already looking fabulous!

Stephanie came home with me and we talked of weddings and finals and all manner of sisterly things. We had a wild rumpus with the children that ended with a screaming contest (they won), and she fled the bedlam and left me to calm them down. I led the four of them in a nice meditation exercise, complete with deep breathing and soothing visualizations. After many minutes of calm, I used a mellifluous voice to instruct them to open their eyes.

They looked at each other, and without missing a beat, commenced the high pitched shrieking again. Rascals. So much for meditation!

I piled them in the car and we headed for Barnes and Noble. It was such a wonderful drizzly, hailing, thundering kind of day-- the bookstore was the perfect retreat. They played on the train table for TWO HOURS while I sat and read chick novels. Oh yes, I was happy. Then we headed home where I fed them hot cocoa (with marshmallows) and buttered popcorn for dinner. I left all the dishes for tomorrow, and I read books all night.

Seriously, how could this day have been any more fun?

Well, it would have been MUCH better had my darling husband been home, but he was on a business trip. I think we did a pretty good job of living the day well, and now I have all the fun of celebrating again when he comes home!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Been served

Why is it that some things are ever so much easier in theory than they actually turn out to be? Why is it that I thought that keeping up with the miles and miles and miles of flower beds around my home would be a piece of cake? Cause I sure did, at one point. Not so much anymore, but there was definitely a time I thought this wasn't a laughable prospect.

The children I have, while excellent for some purposes, really are terrible when it comes to major weeding. Crazy, right? I totally thought they'd be able to assist me in this not-so-hard job. In retrospect it's all perfectly clear--the madness. But at some point this all made sense.

So the yard got away from me in a big way last year. And this year when I went out to attempt to tame it, it wasn't pretty. The field that is my backyard turned into flowerbeds of field, and they don't lend themselves beautifully to hand weeding. Heavy machinery, maybe, but that's not really an option.

So after many many hours of trying to make my yard a presentable place, I realized this was a job far beyond me. I called in help, in the form of two little 11 yr old neighbor girls. They worked diligently for hours and made a tiny dent.

The next morning I got a call from my neighbor. She told me she does a once monthly family home evening for a group of youth, and could she please bring 25 kids over to weed my yard and clean my toilets?

First reaction: shame, embarrassment, mortification, and guilt.

Second reaction: flooded with relief and gratitude.

Third reaction: gotta clean my entire house and the yard to get it ready for people to come over! Crappy!

Last night we went from oceans of beds looking like this:

To oceans of flower beds getting shown who was boss:

My darling sister contributed beautiful cheesecake pops left over from a wedding she catered. I made sure to tell them all the origin of the fancy schmancy treats. Cause going to someone's house to do service when you think they've been spending their time supposedly dipping chocolates and putting pretty pink chocolate flowers on each one of them instead of doing their own darn weeding? That's just a bit awkward. With the provenance of the goodies accounted for, everyone felt happy.

Still a bit chagrined that I'm a project, but oh, so very grateful that this Sisyphean task is now under control!!

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Spring is in the air. Literally.

Despite the inches of snow on the ground, it really is spring. I know, because it was Easter, and that definitely means spring. Of course we did all the normal activities--bunny baskets, dyeing eggs, talk of the resurrection--the usual. But now I'd like to present the more...unique way that sister Andrea came up with of celebrating the vernal onset. I present to you, the chick flick.

It started out innocently enough. I was incredibly crafty this year, so I planted wheatgrass and nestled some darling little chickies in it. Festive centerpiece, no?

Then Andrea (it always always starts with her. We're not sure if she's just mischievous, incredibly easily amused, or a combination of the two) decided to use her spoon to try to launch the chick into the grass.

Then we all had to try, because that's just too random to not be fun.

We got pretty good. Look at the height on these babies!

Tyler (now fully clothed--TMITYS did not come to Easter dinner) concentrates on getting just the right trajectory.

My sister in law Catherine took the photos. Apparently it's a little tricky to photograph paper chicks as their being flung across the table, but she did an incredible job. Must. Not. Covet. Her. Camera. She photographs and blogs at

Easter randomness. What else would you expect around here?

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Sunday, April 04, 2010

Happy sigh

Sound of Music is on tv tonight. I'm sighing a happy sigh. Could there possibly be anything more romantic anywhere than the gazebo scene?

There's a Sound of Music sing a long in a local theater every Christmas. Anyone want to come?

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Fool's Gold

I know I mention it a lot, but I love my family. Here's yet another reason why I think they are some of the most enjoyable people on the planet.

April Fools is a favorite holiday for my mother and my kids. In fact, they've been including the auspicious day in their prayers (please bless that it will get here fast and that we'll laugh all day long). The pressure was on. For my kids I gave them banana splits for breakfast, then taught them the classic French game where you try to stick a fish on someone's back, then yell 'Poisson d'Avril' and laugh hysterically. This game was a hit, except they wanted to say it in English, and somehow 'Fish of April' is just not as funny.

But I digress. The real story, the real blog post here is the one you're wondering about. Why on earth is there a picture of a man in a yellow speedo running through the house???

Let me 'splain.

For the last 20 years, my mother has had a scapegoat. Diet Coke open in her cart at the store? Wasn't her, it was the Man in the Yellow Speedo (MITYS). Bag of chips consumed? Him again. He was the convenient answer to any bad behavior she didn't want to fess up to. This MITYS has been confusing poor innocent checkers at grocery stores all over the west for many years.

Thanks to my amazing sister Andrea, her intrepid husband Tyler, and the awesome purchasing power of Amazon, the MITYS was able to make his first live appearance.

We had just bowed our heads for the prayer of our wacky dinner where we have to eat spaghetti and salad with crazy kitchen utensils, when the MITYS burst through the back door, snatched up the pot of spaghetti, and disappeared through the front door. It all happened in a flash; all I had time for was a shot from behind. Perhaps that's best, though, for everyone involved!

I think my favorite part was watching him stash the pot in the garage, grab his pre-hidden ratty bathrobe, and run up the street at lightening speed, barefoot. Only Tyler.

The kids were a bit mystified by the whole thing, but they didn't let that dampen their enthusiasm for eating spaghetti (recovered from the garage) with whisks and beaters.

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