Tag Archives: family

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

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Camping, crabs, and dirt

11 May

Last week we took z-baby on his very first camping trip. Sig-o and I love to camp, but it had been awhile since we had actually done it — since I was pregnant with z-baby, in fact. So we were thrilled to finally share this piece of our lives with him.

We decided to stick close to home in case he didn’t take to it well, and camped at a nearby state park. This is what I call posh camping… and it was perfect for z-baby.

We told z-baby what we were doing and he helped us pack up. But when we talked about going night-night outside, he just looked at us like we had lost our minds. But he did have fun playing in the tent as we set up camp… he liked it so much we had a hard time coaxing him out.

Tents

Color coordination not intentional, but kinda cute

We sat around and relaxed, but found lots to do, too. There was a great little playground, and I’m not sure who enjoyed it more — z-baby or the dog.

Playground

No, you go first!

Then the camp hosts lent us some crab pots and we went crabbing for the first time ever. It was so much fun!

Crab pots

Crab pots

We didn’t have meat for bait, but we had some fried chicken. And we all know how much crabs like soul food… right?

Baiting crab pot

Baiting the crab pot... with fried chicken

So we baited them, tossed them in, and waited.

Watching crabs

Watching crabs at low tide while waiting to check the crab pots

And would you believe it? We caught our first crab!

Crab in pot

There's a crab in there!

We caught a few more that we tossed back because they were too small. By the time we were getting the hang of it, z-baby and the dog were ready to move on (go back to the playground, that is). But we did enjoy one crab as an appetizer that night!

Crab on grill

Yum!

Z-baby and I also took a few nature walks. We focused on textures and looked for things that felt different — leaves, pine cones, thorns, marsh mud, moss. He wasn’t so sure about this at first, but picked out some pine cones on his own to take back to Papi.

Luna hiking

Doggie leads the way

Once he let his guard down enough to touch some new stuff, he must have been feeling adventurous. He waited, of course, until he was freshly bathed… and then he became one with the dirt.

In the dirt

Testing it out

Cars in dirt

Driving cars in the dirt

Dirt on hands

Showing off his dirt

And what could be a better way to end our evenings than with roasted marshmallows and smores?

Marshmallows

Double yum!

The first evening it took z-baby a bit to realize we weren’t kidding about the sleeping outside part. But he got over it and had no problem with it. He even slept though our dog obnoxiously whining, growling, barking, and generally being a restless pain in the butt the e-n-t-i-r-e night. We knew it would be rough when some deer came up into our camp area before we were even in the tent. And then all hell broke loose when some raccoons came up and stole the backpack with all the dog food in it because someone (ok, me) forgot to put it up high enough where they couldn’t get it. Oops. She drove us so crazy that sig-o put her in the car to sleep sometime in the wee hours of the morning. And then we went to buy more dog food.

We had so much fun we stayed an extra night. It was a perfect get-away that we greatly needed, and some nice family bonding time before z-baby and I take off for a month-long trip to see family. Can’t wait until we get home and can do it all over again!

Going with your gut

1 May

For those of you visiting from the Multicultural Awareness Blog Carnival, welcome to The Vaca Loca! I’m so glad you could stop by and hope you enjoy your stay!

I’m originally from Kentucky, and besides Speedy Gonzalez and The Three Amigos, I didn’t grow up hearing much Spanish spoken. I started taking Spanish in high school, and it was there that the universe started opening little windows for me and laying out paths that would ultimately lead me to where I am today — married to a man from Mexico and trying to raise a bilingual baby.

I consider myself fluent in Spanish, but not fully bilingual. I think in both languages, dream in both languages, feel in both languages… but English is still by far easier for me. This became especially apparent after having my baby. I spoke to him in both languages, but when it came time to comfort him, coo at his cuteness, and play baby games with him, English dominated. Complicating matters was the fact that I had postpartum depression, which utterly exhausted me and left me with an abysmal emptiness. And it’s when I’m tired and weak that my Spanish suffers the most.

My husband and I had talked early on about how we were going to go about teaching both languages to the baby. The one-parent-one-language method felt forced to us. And since we now live in the US we knew the baby would be getting an overwhelming amount of English no matter what. So we planned on just using Spanish in the home and with Spanish-speaking friends and family. The effect that my postpartum depression had on this plan only exasperated me more and fueled my feelings of inadequacy when it came to raising a bilingual baby. But we pressed on, adamant that he learn Spanish. We quit worrying about the “right” method, and just did what felt right in our guts.

My little z-baby is now two years old and his language skills are really starting to blossom. My husband speaks to him almost only in Spanish, and I speak as much Spanish to him as I possibly can. Some days this means no English. Others it means about half and half. And z-baby? He understands both beautifully. And he speaks some of both, though he has yet to string sentences together in either. He picks and chooses the words he uses. For some things he only uses Spanish — the alphabet, numbers, colors. For other things, it’s only English — parts of the body, apple, move, bed. And for yet other things, it’s what suits his fancy in the moment — ball/pelota, agua/water, kitty/gato, comer/eat, basura/trash. He’s let loose a perfectly conjugated verb or two in Spanish (cayó and ¡ya voy!) and chastises the dog in English (Bad gur!). And I’ve even noticed recently that he asks my husband and me to pick him up in Spanish, but asks my mother in English.

My heart explodes as such displays of bilingual communication. And it’s those moments that make all the hard work worth it, and make it easier to put up with the daily aches and pains of what it’s really like to try and teach our baby Spanish and English. So what does the daily grind feel like anyway? Well, a little something like this….

  • It means translating for grandparents and abuelos
  • It means walking through stores and jabbering away in Spanish while you get stares from everyone (both Latinos and non-Latinos)
  • It means actively seeking out books and activities in Spanish (this is the only gift we ever ask for from Mexico now)
  • It means learning the words for things you may never have had to use before
  • It means getting your Spanish corrected more frequently
  • It means learning songs in Spanish and making up new ones
  • It means always being aware of the balance between how much you use each language
  • It means not beating yourself up when you slip into English
  • It means second-guessing e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g you say — “Did I say that right? Is that masculine or feminine? Is my accent off?”
  • It means loosening up, letting go, being persistent, and having patience

But most of all, it means trusting yourself and going with what feels natural in your gut — and isn’t that the ultimate lesson in parenting, no matter what language you do it in?

******

A big Thank You to Bicultural Mom for hosting the carnival!

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.

Shake it off

17 Apr

Late this afternoon we decided to shake off a tough day and go kick around a soccer ball. While we’ve lived in this town for almost a year now, we’re still figuring some things out, and where to find pick-up games of fútbol is one of them. We had recently found a campo by accident not too far from our house so we decided to give it a try. No one was there today, unfortunately, but we still had lots of fun.

Sig-o and z-baby were dressed for a serious day of fút, sporting the uniform of el Tri (la Selección Mexicana/Mexico’s national team).

sig-o "tri"

Z-baby "tri"

They took special care putting on the new tacos (soccer cleats… a $2 consignment sale find!).

tacos de fut

They ran.

jugando fut

They kicked.

kicking

They got stuck in the net.

stuck in the net

And got lost on the field.

perdido en el campo

Z-baby even stole my camera while I was trying to nail sig-o with the ball practicing my shot and took his very first self portrait.

z-baby self portrait
And then they called it a day.

Remembering eggs…

12 Apr

Today we colored Easter eggs. We’re a little early, I realize, but since Mamaw and Papaw are going home tomorrow, I figured we should go ahead and get started.

Coloring eggs were always my favorite part of Easter. I remember doing them with my Mamaw and can still see the little cups we used, the bright colors, the unwieldy little wire spoon, the smell of vinegar (I still love the smell of vinegar!). So I was very touched to see Mamaw and z-baby carry on the tradition. Still feeling a bit sentimental, so I thought I’d share a few photos.

Staking claim to their eggs

Coloring eggs

Can you smell the vinegar?

Coloring eggs

Coloring eggs with a little help from Mamaw

Coloring eggs

Say what?

31 Mar

When I started this blog, I only told two people about it: sig-o and my sister. My sister has had full access to it from the beginning, whereas sig-o only reads it if I ask him to. They’re still the only ones who know about it.

When thinking of what to name the blog, The Vaca Loca immediately came to mind. Loca? Because I felt like I was absolutely losing it at the time due to the postpartum depression. Vaca? Because sometimes (and sometimes still) I felt like that was all I was and all I was good for — a dairy cow, lactating for little z-baby. The Vaca Loca? Well, it was also a little shout out to Manu Chao (me likey mucho!). I knew my husband got it, and I thought I had told my sister what it meant, too (she doesn’t speak Spanish). But maybe not…

The other day I was talking to my sister on the phone and z-baby came up and wanted me to read him a book in Spanish. There was a picture of a cow so I asked him, “¿Qué dice la vaca?” He responded with a cute little, “Muuuuuuuu.” My sister said, “Wait, what did you just say?” I said, “Vaca. You know, like my blog.” There was a long pause. Turns out she thought my blog was called The Vacay Loca, as in the crazy vacation.. And I get it. It never would have dawned on me, but I get it. And I thought that was cute.

Even cuter though was when she visited for Christmas. Z-baby calls all his aunts tía regardless of whether they speak English or Spanish. So one day my sister finally asks, “Why do you all keep talking about tortillas all the time?” It took me a second but then it hit me… we kept saying things like, “Lleva la bolsa a tu tía… Dale un beso a tu tía… Este vaso es de tu tía…” Said fast enough and enough times and yeah, it sounds like we’re obsessed with tortillas! I had to laugh. (Love ya sis! And rest assured that I’m laughing with you!)

Anyway, it made me laugh, so I thought I’d share it with blogdom. We have bilingual mix-ups and blunders with the family all the time… and with a toddler who is talking more and more every day, we’re sure to have a lot more to come.