Archive | Life in general RSS feed for this section

Te quiero Papi

10 Aug

Sometimes I get caught up in the everyday grind and forget to notice the small big things. Like what an amazing papi sig-o is to z-baby. I always knew he would be, but it’s a joy to see it in action. So just a quick post today to say, ¡Te queremos mucho, Papi!

Te quiero papi

Hecho por z-baby

If you give a boy a dollar…

20 Jul

As I may have mentioned before, I love going to yard sales. I’m not sure what it is… the hunt, the thrill of finding a bargain, the voyeurism of going through other people’s stuff…

I hadn’t been to any for a while and decided to hit one this weekend. As I gathered a few stray dollars I had around the house, z-baby patted his chest and asked, “Bebé monini?” (monini = z-baby’s word for money. I think it’s a mash up of “moneda” and “money.”). So I gave him a dollar and told him he could spend it one whatever he wanted. He was looking for a pocket to put it in but didn’t have one. He was wearing his caballo botas (as he calls his cowboy boots), so I told him to just put it down one of them.

I didn’t find much at the yard sale, but z-baby got the deal of the day. Mixed up with some other stuff were two little figurines, and he started yelling, “¡Caballo! ¡Caballo!” (horse) as soon as he spotted them. When I got a closer look, I realized they were alebrijes, a Mexican wood sculpture usually of animals (both real and fantasy). They weren’t exactly horses, but who was I to argue? There was another larger, signed alebrije, as well, but it was missing a few pieces.

So I had z-baby take the pieces to the woman running the yard sale. He handed them to her and I asked what she wanted for them. In a grandmotherly southern drawl she replied, “For this cutie? I reckon a quarter each.” I told z-baby that if he wanted them he would have to pay her with his monini. He set the alebrijes down quickly and fished his dollar out of his boot and handed it to her. I swear it’s close to the top of the list of the cutest things he’s ever done and it was really hard not to laugh. The woman, however, about fell out of her chair laughing and it only got worse when she gave him his change of two quarters and he promptly stuck them back down his boots. Priceless.

Alebrijes

Z-baby's yard sale find: alebrijes

The next day we went to the flea market, because they run a close second to yard sales and because I’ve found several Mexican produce vendors who sell things I can’t otherwise find around here easily. Not to mention their produce is better. I talked my mom into going with us and she gave z-baby a dollar as we were getting out of the car. He wanted her to carry it since he wasn’t wearing his boots.

We walked around and around and looked at all kinds of junk, including toys, and never heard a peep out of z-baby. Then, as we were rolling past the first produce stand, he started making all kinds of a big commotion, asking for his monini. My mom gave it to him and we both stood there watching to see what he wanted and he went up and gave it to the produce vendor. I asked him what he wanted and he said, “ananana, plat-no.” Bananas. The boy wanted a banana. And that’s just what he got. 🙂

Little surprises

19 Jul

Sometimes… actually most times… it’s the little things that put a smile on my face and make my heart soar.

Sig-o had to go away on an overnight trip this weekend, and I asked him to bring back a few things I can’t get around here. That in itself made me happy.

But he surprised me with one my favorite treats: litchis! It was so totally unexpected. Small but made me melt.

Litches

Not the prettiest I've seen, but sooooooo good!

Ahhhh, litchis! Or lychees. Or whatever. I love them. A lot. When we lived in Mexico, in my husband’s childhood home, we had a big litchi tree growing in the side garden. And I didn’t even know it. The avocado tree? Heaven. The banana tree? Worth the wait. That tree in the side garden? I’d never given it a second thought.

Then one day we were driving through town and I saw a guy selling litchis on the side of the road. I squealed in excitement but sig-o just rolled on by. “Al rato,” he told me, later. Later that day he came through the house carrying a bucket and yelling for me. He told me to follow him and took me to the side garden. And there it was in all its glory. The tree, ripe fruit filled its branches, just waiting. Waiting for me.

You’d think I’d won the lottery. We picked buckets full and I think that’s all I ate for days on end. I planted myself under a ceiling fan and ate… and ate. My fingertips hurt from peeling so many of them, but it was glorious. That is, until I got an inexplicable rash all over the outsides of my lips. It looked horrible and itched like crazy and hurt in the sweltering, summer heat. I finally had to go see a doctor but they couldn’t explain it and nothing they gave me helped. It eventually went away on its own, but my gorging on litchis had come to and end. The doctor seemed to think I’d probably had too much of a good thing. I was convinced it was poison ivy or something like it from when we were picking the litchis… but it didn’t matter. They were gone.

Fast forward a few years. We were living in the US again and I bought up a bunch of mangos at the farmers market. Soon after eating them, I got that same miserable rash on my face, only worse this time. A visit to the doctor again and some nosing around and I learned just how allergic some people can be to mangoes (the sap/oil in the peel and bark on the trees). And apparently I’m one of them. Because I tried it a few more times and it got worse each time. The last time I had a bite of mango was six years ago (six sad years). I really wanted some mango and asked sig-o to peel and cut it for me. He made the nicest fruit salad… and within minutes I could feel it starting. But this time it was in my throat, too, and my co-workers had to take me to the pharmacy to grab some Benedryl.

Only later did I put it together. Mangoes and litchis come into season around the same time in sig-o’s hometown. And prior to discovering the tree of all things good, I had been munching on mangos. Not the big mangos you usually see (petacon) or even the yummy ataulfo, but little bitty, yellow mangos that you pop in your mouth, peel and all. Delightful. And a nightmare for anyone allergic to them!

So now, I don’t buy mangoes. I don’t eat mangoes. I can’t even touch mangoes. I dare say I’m afraid of mangoes.

But litchis? Bring ’em on, baby! And that’s why sig-o’s little surprise meant so much. Despite my love for them, I somehow forget about litchis. Maybe because they’re in season so briefly and not easy to find. But sig-o? He thinks of me and that summer each and every time he sees them and buys them for me without fail. How could that not make a girl’s heart soar?

Spoiled… but worth it

14 Jul

Z-baby and I recently spent a month visiting family, so I thought I’d share some of the highlights with you.

First we spent a week in Atlanta with my suegra. We kicked off the week with sig-o’s interview for US citizenship and then celebrated with friends and family that night. Sig-o had to hurry back home to work, so z-baby and I spent the rest of the week just hanging out with la abuela y los tios.

We rode to the top of Stone Mountain.

Stone Mountain abuela

On top of Stone Mountain with la abuela

And played on the playground.

Stone Mountain playground

Lots of climbing to be done

We visited a local game ranch. This was a huge hit with z-baby because you can feed and touch many of the animals.

Game ranch squirrel

Feeding a squirrel with la tía

Game ranch deer

He loved the deer

Game ranch rabbit

Force feeding a rabbit graham crackers

And then we flew to Texas where we spent three weeks. Z-baby has flown many times already, but this was his first flight in his own seat. I decided to get a CARES Harness instead of lugging his giant car seat on board and boy did I fall in love with this thing! It was a snap to install, was easy to carry in my backpack, and he was happy in it — amazing!

CARES Harness

Z-baby in CARES harness (sorry for poor pic!)

The big event in Texas was my brothers’ high school graduation. I was so proud of them! And proud of z-baby for making it through the late-evening ceremony. He did yell out his uncles’ names when he saw them, and whenever someone would blow an air horn he would yell, “Big truck!” But otherwise he did great.

Graduation

Keeping a close eye on things...

We hung out in the Brazos River one Sunday at Hillbilly Haven (I’m not kidding). Just sat in the river in camping chairs with a floating cooler. Pretty low key and relaxing… until the air boat showed up (I’m not kidding).

Hillbilly Haven

Told ya I wasn't kidding! Ahhh... a real hillbilly haven... (I say this with love, by the way -- I was raised a hillbilly in Eastern Kentucky 🙂 )

Z-baby’s tía spoils him rotten and got him some cowboy boots, which he calls both “choo choo boots” (because he wore them when we rode a train), and “caballo botas” (horse boots, because he wore them around the horses, too).

Filling the horses' water in caballo botas

And then we went camping at the Kerrville Folk Festival. So much fun! We camped on the Medina River so we always had a great spot to swim and bathe. Until the place’s owner let their dogs loose and we couldn’t do anything without causing a big ruckus. Hmmm… sounds a little like Hillbilly Haven.

Z-baby in a hammock burrito

A quick bath for z-baby

We spent a lot of time hanging out with the tios. He calls them Tío Fuchi and El Otro Tío Fuchi.

Playing with El Otro Tío Fuchi. Notice the matching outfits. Not a coincidence. He's Texas A&M bound and proud.

Z-baby and Tio Fuchi. He's headed to Texas Tech (on an academic full ride, no less!), and z-baby's sporting that gear, too!

And we can’t leave out la tía. Did I mention she spoils him R-O-T-T-E-N? As in, cowboy boots, train rides, first donuts, first Oreos, feeds him Cheerios with chopsticks…

Here comes trouble...

And last, but not least, Grandpa. Or “Pawgaw” as z-baby says. Z-baby and Pawgaw stayed busy together: they made pizza, jumped on the trampoline, fed the horses, rode the pick-up around the pasture, researched Big Big Loaders on ebay, and watched tractors go by as they ate breakfast together. Pawgaw even got off the interstate one day just to get closer to a school bus he saw going down a feeder road so that z-baby could get a closer look. Yeah, we’re still paying for all that spoilin’!

Jumping with Paw Gaw

Just say NO to crack!

3 May

Yesterday z-baby and I went to the neighborhood pool for the first time this season. I was so happy! I wasn’t planning on going until sig-o could go with us, but I just couldn’t wait. We even had the pool to ourselves for a long time before a bunch of people showed up. Z-baby had a lot of fun and his skills have improved significantly despite not having been in a pool for about 7 months. He kicked like a pro, blew bubbles, jumped in from the side, and went under water without barfing (yipeee!). And he was much easier to get changed after all the fun — not at all like last year when he would run around like crazy and try to get back in the water at the precise moment that I pulled my dress over my head.

I threw our swim clothes in the washer last night and as I pulled them out this morning I was bragging to sig-o about how well it had gone for us and how much fun we had. And then I saw my bathing suit. Oh mah gah…

Swimsuit

See how it's dark on the right and dark on the left? And see that sunlight coming through the middle? Yep. That's where my crack was shining through in all it's glory, too.

Now, I’m not a big worrier about how I look, but I am opposed to showing the world my butt crack. Holy hell! I had no idea my ass was totally on display yesterday! And what about all those people? Ok, the tiny teens in their tiny bikinis were probably laughing their tiny asses off, but what about the mom with twin toddlers? She couldn’t mention to me that my bathing suit was one little underwater bubble from splitting wide open?

I told a mom at the playground the other day that her fly was down… Where’s the karma? Where’s the love?

That’s so Gringa

28 Apr

The other day I was preparing pasta for little z-baby. One of my favorite kitchen shortcuts is to use my kitchen shears to cut his spaghetti. Just snip, snip, snip and you’re done! I was happily snipping away when sig-o walked by and chuckled, “Ok. That is so Gringa!”

I was stopped cold in my snipping tracks… So Gringa? Me? Well, yeah. I had to laugh… sig-o and I have been together for so long that we sometimes forget that he’s Mexican and I’m American, that we’re different both as individuals and because of our cultural backgrounds.

Like once when I asked him what he wanted to get to eat and he replied, “How about Mexican?” for like the millionth time. With exasperation in my voice I asked, “Don’t you EVER get tired of Mexican food?” To which he replied, “Uh, noooo. It’s just food to me.” Oh.

So here are a few other things (not sure that I agree) that sig-o says also make me “so Gringa.” 

  1. Mis calzones (underwear) — They’re cheap. And I know it. But I can’t help it ya’ll. It’s a habit I picked up in college. When you don’t do laundry as frequently as you should… you solve the problem by just going and buying some cheap Hanes Her Way. While I do do laundry regularly now, I still have over 20 pairs of the cheapies. Though not the same ones from college… geesh!
  2. My obsessive planning — I plan everything. I even plan when I’m going to plan. Visitors coming? Trip to take? Picnic in the park? Lists make me happy. And there’s no way I would be able to not plan at least meals when I know my suegra is on her way for a visit. Of course, she always brings enough food for an army and takes over my kitchen anyways… but it’s the thought of not being prepared that would drive me to insanity. Sig-o tells me not to worry about it. I tell him I’ll add that to my list.
  3. The way I worry about everything — A close relative of #2. I worry too much about things. Like seat belts and firecrackers and not waking the neighbors. I’m not as bad as I used to be (except for when the postpartum depression was in full-swing… then it was BAD). And it all seems to be relative to place. In Mexico, I’m still a worrier, but I let a lot more slide.
  4. My immersion blender — Since sig-o and I have been together, we have been through countless blenders (lots of salsas, lots of aguas frescas…). And I got tired of them always breaking down. Or just breaking. We had a collection of mismatched bases and jars that did us no good. So one day I tossed them all and got a sleek little hand blender for a change. So what? It’s worked well so far, and I’m sure we’ll go back to the other kind as soon as it gives out, too.
  5. The way I watch TV — When I sit down to watch TV, I could also be reading blogs, playing Words with Friends, perusing recipes, making lists. And I may or may not have the volume on. But when sig-o (and everyone in his family) sits down to watch TV it’s like zombies sucked his brains out… he sits and stares open-mouthed at the blaring screen and can hear no other sound around him. Commercials are even worse. They’re not something to be muted, but rather something to lean into, the main attraction. I could strip off my cheap calzones and he’d never even flinch.

On borders and growing up

20 Apr

Borders. They have caused sig-o and I much grief over the years.

In our early days, the problem was usually separation. Either I was in the US and he was in Mexico, or I was in Mexico and he was in the US. At one point we even found ourselves to be ilegales in each other’s country, he in the US and me in Mexico — ¡qué cosa! But we were young and distance did make the heart grow fonder and we weathered the bumps together.

After living in Mexico for over three years, we came to the US to finish out a long and drawn out process to get sig-o permanent residency and ultimately citizenship (which we are still in the process of). Then the issues turned more towards family. No matter where we decide to live, one of us will always be separated from family. Luckily, sig-o’s mother, sister, and brother all live in the states now. But it has caused many headaches, heartaches, and punches to the wallet to both get them and keep them here. This is an on-going struggle, and one that gets harder and harder with the passing of every new piece of racist legislation.

Now that we have a baby, matters feel even more complicated. We’ve always known that we would return to Mexico at some point. We want our child(ren) to spend part of their childhood in both countries, to not just hear our stories but to know in their heart and feel it in their gut what it is to be Mexican, what it means to be American.

Borders. They have separated us, united us, and taught us lessons in patience and humility. They have watched us grow into adulthood.

When sig-o and I first met, he was a mere 19 and I was only 21. We have been together for almost 13 years now. And in those 13 years we have literally watched each other grow up. Some of the change has been subtle over time. But sometimes you can see it unfold before you in an instant, catalyzed by events beyond our control.

This weekend we learned that one of sig-o’s young cousins passed away after a difficult battle with leukemia. Sig-o was understandably upset, and as he is an extremely sensitive soul, he took the news quite hard. It’s these moments that borders make you feel so helpless, so far away. Mexico isn’t even on the other side of the world… but it may as well be when you can’t be there.

But it’s not just about the border. Technically, sig-o could have hopped on a plane and been with his family within six hours or so. But we really couldn’t afford it. And it was at that moment that I saw the change, saw the pain in my husband’s face and felt his heavy heart as he made the sacrifice for his family — for me, for the baby — and stayed. I watched, my own soul troubled, as he came to terms with his decision, growing up just a little bit more before my very eyes.

It’s hard straddling a border. It’s even harder growing up.