Soft Warm Hearts

Why do we celebrate Christmas?  Mary a virgin carrying the Savior of all, riding on a donkey going door to door, until they found a manger to lay their head.

Here in Mexico, although I speak the language, I know nothing.  One day they asked me to bring engrudo to Elaina’s school, I asked “what is that” and they told me “glue”.  The next day, I told the teacher I’m going to buy the glue and I will bring it back to you.  She said no it’s not glue you buy its just flour but you have to cook it.

They were making a piñata, which I thought it was just an arts and craft, until a mother explained that it had seven cones which represent the seven deadly sins. Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy, Pride.

star

Once you BREAK yourself away from those sins you will be showered with blessings from above.

We were invited to a PASTORELA  at Elaina’s school “El Jardin de Ninos”.  Her class was dressed as Angels and the other class as devils.  Parents played out the story of Mary and Joseph, and the children played out the fight between good and evil.

Elaina Ready for her Pastorela

Elaina Ready for her Pastorela

A Patorela is a play, always comic, where the shepherds follow the Star of Bethlehem to find baby Jesus and confront the Devil, who will do everything possible to prevent them from arriving. It is at that moment that the Angel Gabriel intervenes to defend the shepherds where good always triumphs over evil.

We had another PASTORELA in the Town Plaza named EL JARDIN on the 19th.  I only wish I had thought to record it all.  It was very comic, had plenty of music, and singing.  Meet the Devil:

Bushy Eye browed, gun toting, boot wearing, Mariachi

Bushy Eye browed, gun toting, boot wearing, Mariachi

POSADAS, are more serious business, except to the children.  I was invited, but because I am not catholic a bit standoffish.  I am glad we decided to attend.  Day one started in the Church, there was the Rosary Prayer, then right after we formed two lines one of boys and the other of girls in order of height.  We walked singing a few choice songs, the boys favorite is “Los Peces en el Rio”.  We walked the longest route to the house hosting that days POSADA.  Once we arrived they sing at the door “Os Pido Posada”

Verses sung by the people asking     for PosadaEn nombre del cielo
os pido posada,
pues no puede andar
mi esposa amada.No seas inhumano,
tenos caridad,
que el Dios de los cielos
te lo premiará.Venimos rendidos
desde Nazaret,
yo soy carpintero
de nombre José.Posada te pide,
amado casero
por sólo una noche
la Reina del Cielo.Mi esposa es María.
es Reina del Cielo,
y madre va a ser
del Divino Verbo.Dios pague señores
vuestra caridad,
y así os colme el cielo
de felicidad.
Verses sung by the people giving PosadaAquí no es mesón
sigan adelante:
yo no puedo abrir
no sea algún tunante.Ya se pueden ir
y no molestar
porque si me enfado
los voy a apalear.No me importa el nombre,
déjenme dormir,
pues ya les digo
que no hemos de abrir.Pues si es una Reina
quien lo solicita
¿Cómo es que de noche,
anda tan solita?¿Eres tu José?
¿Tu esposa María?
Entren, peregrinos,
no los conocía.Dichosa la casa
que abriga este día
a la Virgen Pura
la hermosa María.

When the doors finally open, everybody sings:

Entren santos peregrinos, peregrinos, reciban este rincón no de esta pobre morada sino de mi corazón. Esta noche es de alegría de gusto y de regocijo porque hospedaremos aquí a la Madre de Dios Hijo.

Then the kids’ favorite part, every single child is given a goody bag, and depending on the family you could get more, a fruit, a drink and/or something to eat.

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Day two starts with a rosary prayer at the house who opened their doors to us, we then form lines and walk the longest route to the next house so fourth and so on until day 9.

They said a Pastor once showed children a nativity scene and asked them what the baby’s bed looked like, they said “Hard”, Then they asked the mothers present, “How do you fix your babies beds?” We all answered “Soft & warm”.  The nine days of Posadas is to soften our hard hearts, so we can be ready to receive baby Jesus.

May you all have soft and warm hearts this Christmas.

Come and Eat

Since I was a little girl, for as long as I can remember we have always had pecan trees. Sadly, the house we are renting here in Mexico has none, but still I love it.

We can sit in the front porch on a cold morning have some hot coffee & listen to the roosters crow through the town.

I sit in front of the computer.

I sit in front of the computer.

Wait until the sun is out for a glass of Ice Cold lemon-aid, picked straight from the Lemon Tree or you may prefer Micheladas.

We have four.

We have four.

Elaina & J enjoy guayaba right of the tree. He also likes the alcoholic drink made from the punch. I don’t like it either way.

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Would you like a banana? Shake?

It has more of these. Banana Palm.

It has more of these. Banana Palm.

I don’t know how many have tried or like cactus. In the 16 years I have been married I never ate anything green. That’s until Manuel was born and J got tired of me acting like a spoiled little girl. He made me try everything including cactus with egg. I suggest if you haven’t tried cactus, don’t unless J makes it for you FIRST. Then you will know the difference between the good stuff and the bad stuff. We trimmed it because it was over powering the yard; we were frightened for our kids. You don’t eat the big brown tusks just the small new green ones.

It used to take up a quarter of the yard but we trimmed.

It used to take up a quarter of the yard but we trimmed.

We also have mandarins, easy to peal great for mommies who hate pealing; just pull and toss at the kids.

Easy Cheesy

Easy Cheesy

Someone get me a fig Newton recipe, please.

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J wanted us to make it here in time to try the Pitaya, but we were just weeks to late. I’m looking forward to see them grow on these!

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Confession, we do have pitayo for growing pitayas but my neighbor’s is much prettier to look at. I did take the picture from my yard, but we only have one with arms.
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Helloooo Papaya.

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Okay, one more confession, I took this picture from my yard too, but it’s so close to the fence that some hang over into our yard and I do plan on having some and if you visit so will you.

this one is ours.

this one is ours.

This is your invitation.

No Sombrero, No Pancho, No Service

When I packed to come to Mexico, I totally stereotyped what I was going to need.
Mexico is supposed to be hot. RIGHT? Who told me this? Why would I think this? I didn’t bring myself a sweater; although I did bring the kids sweaters, I left their jackets. Every morning, it is sweater wearing weather, EVERY SINGLE MORNING. One of J’s first questions when we started to unpack clothes was “did you bring me a sweater”, to which I responded “why would you need a sweater”? Some nights, especially, nights when it has rained it gets way too cold for just a sweater. Keep in mind its rain season here. I wear a Pancho to beat the cold and I haven’t seen another Pancho. Not one, not even for sale. We are cold.

Speaking of rain season, J asked me to bring the kids plastic rain boots. Did I listen? No. I thought, Mexico was HOT and DRY. Daily, Elaina has her feet wet from playing in water. I am sick and tired of washing shoes, tennis, & sandals for all three of them because of mud. Even the shoes are sick and tired of being washed; they have now started to disintegrate.

When it came to shoes, I only packed sandals for myself. To think I left my heels in clear plastic boxes and I have a little bit more than a few. I didn’t bring one pair because I thought there would be no where to wear them. This is definitely what bothers me most because at every Quincenera, women are dressed up, in heels and I show up, real classy, in sandals.

I now understand, why they say tourist stand out like sore thumbs.

I look more Mexican than J does!

I look more Mexican than J does!

Remember after J got picked up, I immediately stopped combing Elaina’s hair and it looked like a birds nest? Remember that I also stop putting shoes on her feet? I would tell friends and family “she better get used to it because that is going to be her life from now on”.

Tsk. Tsk. Tsk. Naïve.

The ladies wearing prom dresses at Wal-Mart on a Tuesday night should have given me a clue.

Houston We Have A Problem… In Mexico!

The school Lauro Montenegro started Monday the 17th, at 8 AM. They were not frightened but I felt teary eyed with a knot in my throat as I walked away. I just thought how my kids would have such a difficult time understanding, how they had no table or chairs to sit at for lunch.

We dropped off Elaina at Emiliano Zapata the Kinder School a block away around 9 AM. We ran into some six graders who were sent out from Montenegro to notify parents that there was a meeting and we had to return to the school. I immediately interrogated the kids: Who was sent out of the school? Was Johnny sent out? I went to the school and J went looking for Johnny at home. Gladly Johnny was not sent out, and the meeting was about making the school “Tiempo Completo”. We were explained the kids would be at school from 8 AM to 4 PM instead of 8 AM to 1 PM. If we agreed the government would in turn make a kitchen and possibly a lunch room! Most of us were in.

After the meeting I rushed home to make the boys lunch, and walked right back to get their soup to them by 11 AM through the gate. Kids then went and scattered all over the school grounds and found spots on the floor or ate standing up. The boys and their group of friends sat on a cement floor near some steps.

I then got to go home and relax for a few minutes, okay half an hour. Then walked back to the school at 12 AM because Johnny’s teacher had to leave early and he was being released as well.

We went home and walked yet again to the school for Manuel’s release at 1 PM. Yes 5 times in 1 day. That’s a problem.

Let’s back track a bit. Elaina was excited she was going to school, we used to walk by daily and she always wanted to be picked up to look inside her school. She would ask when she was going to go there. She would ask why it wasn’t open. She had a hop in her step as we walked to school on Monday, that’s until she heard the screams from inside the school. She was wide eyed and second guessing as to why she wanted to go there so bad. Then the teacher pulled her in and I heard her yells and saw her little hand trying to reach out as the teacher closed the Iron Gate.

After school J asked her if she was going to cry the next day. She answered a simple “YES”. The next day as I dressed her I asked her again if she was going to cry, she was much braver and told me “Mommy I not going to cry”. Unfortunately, when we arrived they told us not to take her back until Friday because there were 45 children and only one teacher.

Now the real problem lies here. I came here promising to be good but I have broken that promise. I have now gotten in a dispute with the director and another mother from the school. Why? Well because apparently me asking for our 50 kids to be watched during lunch and recess time was too much for me to ask from the 5 teachers. When I volunteered to watch them during the allotted time the director was insulted. I miss MORALES ELEMENTRY in Pasadena, Texas.

Lastly, yes Manuel has been stung by a bee twice on different days, once on the finger and the other on the lip. Yes, Elaina has been bitten by a rodent. We can now add Scorpion to Elaina’s list. Big Surprise and the bigger surprise is that she took it better than a MAN. I love these kids!!!!

Today….. I ache all over and I am not even sick….

One Down & She Can’t Get Up

Remember how I prepared before we came? I took them all to the doctor. I told the doctor we were coming to Mexico and that they would initially need diarrhea, pain, and mosquito medicine. I got plenty of it & I forgot it all in South Houston.

I know, Super Mom, I am on top of things.

We did better than I expected. I think I have the weakest immune system of all and I have been sick to my stomach a bit, it hasn’t taken me completely out of commission. I remember I used to get knocked out when I visited Mexico with my mom as a child.

Elaina got sick. She cried and cried the night LOBO died without knowing he died. She didn’t actually cry for him as she was sick the days after too. I don’t know who gave her the bad news or why, but she had not seen him and days and was probably so sick to even ask.

The good news non-emergency medical care is free here. We have a clinic here in town right in “La Plaza” called Seguro Popular. The only thing is that I have to wake up early go wait in line only to get an appointment later the same day. There is no calling for an appointment. You have to physically be there and if they fill up they start filling in for the next day. I was the second one there, as I got there right at 8 am. I got the 10:30 appointment. Turns out she has “Maldelorin”. Well when they say it, it sounds like one word. In reality it’s three. Mal del Orin (sick of urine). She had some sort of bladder infection. Good News: Free Doctors visit and free medicine.

My entire fault she was sick. I was giving her baths every day. The tub would fill up with clean water and she would sit in it. Apparently, in Mexico the P trap does not exist. Even though it would be filling up with clean water the dirty water used by all the previous bathers does not go away it sits right under the drain. I was bathing her in dirty water. I know disgusting. I mean really someone could have told me.

Johnny and Manuel Healthy as an OX! Hope it lasts.

The Real World Mexico

El Jardin

El Jardin

Everyone would have thought this is my kind of town. I mean I am a party girl at heart. Well at least I used to be before I had kids. J has really got me used to going to bed at 9 P.M. Every night we now take a stroll to “El Jardin”, also known as “La Plaza”. It’s almost expected we make an appearance every single night. You have to have a good reason not to go from the extended family. And there is a whole lot of family you have to answer to. It’s like a party every night, especially on weekends. We went to the first of many “Quincenera’s”. Our first Saturday here and they have given us the long list to come. Well into September and that’s when the “Fiestas” start. I don’t know the difference but you will be the first to know.

First Break on the way to La Presa

First Break on the way to La Presa

Sunday we were supposed to go to a Baptism in Verdia, J’s birth town but we skipped it. Not my idea, I would have much rather have stuffed my face with free food and beer. The boys wanted to go to the “Presa” which is a man made watering hole up in the mountain. J said it wasn’t far so we decided to pack some water and take a hike. Hmmf. I know his plans were to leave me there for dead. I almost died twice. I wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction. I made it up that hideous mountain. Thank God for that boost the last quarter of a mile. We walked back down, much easier walk.

At el Picarete without the zing for the kids.

At el Picarete without the zing for the kids.

Culture shock understatement: We kid around about it being 12 O’clock somewhere. Here people wake up like zombies, and first thing on their mind is “El Pajarete”. You can have you fresh milk, with coffee, chocolate, and a shot (that’s an understatement) of alcohol. J and I can’t hang with these folks. I don’t know one person from home who could hang…. Okay I know one person, and she lives in Austin, TX. Then we hear them nightly just outside our window as we hit the sack still at it. I told him he better get up for work as we truly living the “Vida Broka”. I doubt he will ever hear Grandma Isabel say “Juan Billetes” again.
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It’s safe for you to visit. No danger here… sorry there is one danger. It has taken lives of cows, bunnies, trucks and yes people. The Train. Sadly we are like thirty feet from the tracks.

Meet our pets. Yes two dogs, two chicks, and the newest addition the kitten. Still they want the bunny and the donkey.
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Lost Count Of My Blessings!

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When everyone else is counting blessings, we have lost count. We are together since Saturday, July 6 we crossed the border into Mexico around 11 am. I saw J standing there waiting for us on the bridge between Matamoros, Mexico and Brownsville, Texas.

Let me tell you, when crossing the border you MUST declare what you have over your limit. The kids and I are allowed $75.00 each. Had J crossed with us because he is from Mexico he would be allowed $300.00, but he didn’t. In reality we were only allowed to cross $225.00 without paying taxes. We had well over $400 in just tools, my laptop, Johnny’s computer, camera, two bicycles, a flat screen TV, and the top of the truck was loaded with about 8 Large luggage’s. We declared TWICE what we had, I had more than allowed. At BOTH stations, they let us threw without paying.

We were going through a small town, chatting, and we didn’t notice the drop in speed limit. A State Police stopped us for speeding; we were going about 20 above. He told us because our truck was not from Mexico he would have to take up the truck until the fine was paid, or else we would never pay the ticket and disappear. Then after talking to J for a few minutes, he said to be more careful and to watch for speed limits.

While our stay at the first Motel, J did not sleep a wink. He almost didn’t let me sleep, the last time he woke me it was like 3 AM, telling me it wasn’t safe. Apparently, there were some guys who kept walking to the front of our room, stopping, and walking away. I saw them, but I told him, do you think God would let them steal from us after all he has done? When we woke up the next morning, nothing had been touched.

Then, close to Guadalajara, at a road block, we were asked to pull over that our bicycles were being illegally transported. Although, super secure to our front grill, he said it was “Article 300” that bicycles could not be transported in the front. Had I had the opportunity to talk to him, I would have been thrown in Jail. J did all the talking and again we were sent on our way after he tied the bicycles in the back on top of the cooler.

All theses close calls we were let go without a MORDIDA. What Mexico Police is known for, a payoff.

Then there was the most perfect weather. Beautiful! When we started to fear overheating, God gave us rain.  When we started to fear the wet road, he then gave us sunshine. Always there with what we needed.

We have now walked J’s hometown, and a cute little town it is. The kids have met their Visabuelos (great grandparents) Mama Lupe and Papa Angel. They have met an infinite amount of uncles, aunts, and cousins. Everyone here seems to know us even people we haven’t been introduced to. While J was at work I took them to the soccer field and we were stopped and asked if we were Manuelito’s family. They have all been expecting us. Glad to say we feel welcomed and right at home.
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Unlike the story my dad told me the first time he visited my mom’s town of Durango, we do not have to go potty in the pig pen, or use corn husk as toilet paper. Phew! He had me scared at first.