Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Our Unexpected Mexico Evening

So I have concluded that I do indeed like to take the path less taken. This may seem obvious but it has taken me awhile to recognize this fundamental characteristic. Last night was a night not like many others but like so many in Mexico – unexpected.

Husband, Oldest Son, Youngest Son and I take off on our bikes to get tacos in our marina village. We chug over cobblestones, slip on sand, zip through the marina and arrive at the village square.
First we bike to music place where we have seen lessons being given. We are looking for new guitar teacher for kids. We meet Edgar the Guitar Teacher. Yes he can take on Oldest Son and Youngest Son. Three 1 hour lessons per week for 200 pesos. Great. Edgar the Guitar Teacher does not write down our name or take or any money. Just bring kids next week. Done. Gracias. See ya next week. So simple.
Oldest Son and Youngest Son spot friend and follow her to her grandmother’s house next to Art Gallery which is next to Edgar the Guitar Teacher.

We go to Art Gallery. We bought raffle tickets last week and won a CD and print. We pick them up and guess what? Art Gallery Owner is holding Auction next door at coffee shop at 7. We say we will come back. Now Art Gallery and Auction implies something grandiose. This is a small, small Art Gallery and the Auction is bordering on junk …

Oldest Son and Youngest Son lose track of friend. Where is she?

Taco Stand is next stop and we bike down the street. Oh drats. Closed on Mondays. We decide to try a place not visited before that has Mexican food and is across from Art Gallery. We bike back down street. Youngest Son orders pork stew – he is the best eater ever! I got wonderful sopes and Husband has surprisingly good shrimp. The cerveza and soda goes down smoothly.

Oldest Son and Youngest Son look for friend again. She's gone??

Time for the Auction. There are about 11 people including us and 63 items! Oldest Son and Youngest Son have the best time browsing, looking at list, determining prices.

The Auction begins! Art Gallery Owner is from France and speaks English, Spanish and French. He is very entertaining. I cannot help but wonder how this Art Gallery Owner makes a decent living.

Oldest Son vies for a stack of 5 books and snags them for 50 pesos:
- Animal Farm by George Orwell – 35th Printing
- In Cold Blood by Truman Capote – Hard Copy, 1st Printing (Obviously we will not allow Oldest Son to read this one)
- Edgar Cayce on Prophecy by Mary Ellen Carter
- Erewhon by Samuel Butler
- Art by Clive Bell

Youngest Son acquires a small ceramic mask for 30 pesos.

Youngest Son tries for a little truck but is overbid. Oldest Son swoops in at 40 pesos to lock in for his brother!

Oh the thrill of it all! We leave at item number 39.

Oldest Son and Youngest Son give up on finding friend.

So now it is dark. We bike back home on a different route through more cobblestone streets, sliding on sandy dirt roads, stopping to pee (it is nice to be a boy), pushing our bikes over mounds of rocks and arrive safely at our villa.

I had a great time.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Oldest Son is 9

Oldest Son is in his last single digit year. Motherhood is a bittersweet experience for me. My greatest joy is seeing the boys progress through life. With each step forward, my job as their mother is being fulfilled. However, I do mourn the loss of the infant, then the toddler, then the small boy …
We had series of celebrations for Oldest Son:

Best Buddy and His Family from USA were visiting us and Other American Family (family from our same area in USA who we moved down with.) Oldest Son invited Other American Family 9 Year Old Boy (an his brothers too), Best Buddy and a Mexican Friend for swimming, Spiderman piñata and cake. American Family 9 Year Old Boy and Best Buddy stayed for sleepover. (Mexican Friend’s mama was not comfortable with Mexican Friend spending the night.) The 3 boys had a wonderful visit – a special time for Oldest Son.

At Oldest Son’s School we took a Tres Leches cake up at lunch time for all the 3rd Graders. Youngest Son joined us as well. The kids sang Happy Birthday in English and then Las Mañanitas in Spanish. Very sweet.

On his real birthday (actual date) we and Dearest Friends (last day of their visit) went to the Zip Lines over the canopy which was super fun. At home, we had a cake which Other American Mommy had made for Oldest Son - so kind! Unfortunately, Oldest Son was at the front end of a stomach virus. After opening presents, he asked to go to bed – a sure sign that our grown up 9 year old Oldest Son was feeling poorly.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Yep, We Shower Less

In Mexico, we just seem to take fewer showers (I showered Monday and Thursday!)
Why is this?

We live at the beach and will get hot and sweaty anyway?

Most of our family and friends are not around to notice?
We are not going too many places that anyone cares?
We are in bathing suits much of the time?
We swam today or maybe yesterday?
We have a manana attitude?
We all stink?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

March 26th - The Day We Knew Would Arrive

Yesterday we get a note from School saying we have a meeting at 8:10 this morning with K3 teachers for Youngest Son. I quickly re-scheduled a meeting. This is the first time we have been invited to what appears to be a parent teacher conference!

We show up at the school this morning and two other sets of parents arrive with us. Maestra Spanish and Teacher English pass out report cards and samples of school work.

Maestra Spanish does most of talking so I cannot understand anything. Husband translates when he can.

Good News First: Youngest Son gets the highest marks (E = Excellent) in all academics. Maestra Spanish says he learns rapido!

Bad News: All the parents gathered are parents of children whose conduct needs to improve. Since back from winter break, Youngest Son has been talking and playing too much in class. Now he still got a MB (muy bien) in all his conduct marks (E is highest then MB, B, P) so he is still within an okay zone - so far.

Comment #1: Husband and I are somewhat amused that the 3 rowdy children are being discussed in a group setting with all the parents together. We have no issue with this approach. But - you guessed it - the politically correct USA schools would never handle this way.

Comment #2: If I was staying here another year - I would HAVE to learn to at least understand Spanish as spoken. It is a yucky feeling to not be able to understand anything being said - especially when it involves my child.

Comment #3: The Day We Knew Would Arrive. We knew when Youngest Son was comfortable in Spanish that his true spirit would surface. Youngest Son likes to amuse his friends and himself. Youngest Son exudes a joy for life and living it to its fullest. He is outgoing, fun and appealing. But. Youngest Son likes to do what Youngest Son wants to do. Arrrggghhh. So now we will shift into higher parenting mode to make sure he does not fall down to a B or P ...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Just Another Day In Paradise: Scorpions & Surfers

We got a call at 7:30 am this morning. Other American Family Dad got stung by a scorpion on his hand while picking a swimsuit up off the floor. (Other American Family is from same USA community as us and we caught their coattails to move down here last year.)

Other American Family had anti-venom serum and needle in house and Other American Family Mom administered it to Other American Family Dad. They dropped their 3 boys off at our house on the way to the hospital so we could take boys to school with our kids. The hospital gave him more anti-venom serum for later and sent him home. Other American Family Dad is in pain and cannot feel his hand at all. The numbness may last a long time – so the doctor says.

We have not seen too many scorpions around our home – thank goodness!

Our Dearest Friends from USA arrived yesterday.

We dropped Dearest Mom, Dearest Dad, 13 Year Old Girl and 11 Year Old Boy off at local surfer village this morning. They had a great time in typical Mexico fashion. Dearest Mom had a series of negotiations with several surfer dudes for lessons and somehow started at $250 pesos per hour and ended at $500 pesos per hour. No that is NOT a typo – they ended up paying more but a good time was had by all anyway. 13 Year Old Girl did lots of “beach shopping” acquiring a silver opal ring, a ceramic bowl and a sarong without moving from under her umbrella.

Oh, they also noticed that the cerveza cost less than the fruit juice. Welcome to Mexico!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Solucion Inyectable

In Mexico, the distribution of pharmaceuticals is handled VERY different than the USA.

First, most pharmaceuticals can be purchased without any kind of written prescription. This can be quite convenient at times.

Second, when you do go to the doctor it is common for them to use a shot versus pills to treat the illness. It is this practice that created a most unusual family scene.

Husband - standing with pants "dropped"
Oldest Son - cowering with a smirk on corner of bathroom
Youngest Son - overly anxious to be in the middle of all the action
Me - Syringe in hand, uncomfortable and nervous

The doctor had given Husband the first of 3 shots this morning and instructed him to administer the other two at home. Yikes!

Mexico - always an adventure!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Change through Knowledge

I just read:

In the Land of Invisible Women: A Female Doctor’s Journey in the Saudi Kingdom
by Qanta A. Ahmed, M.D.

"It is a substantial book and should be savored by readers who feel as I do, that the more we know about the inner workings of countries the more understanding we have of their policies and their view of us." http://reviews.armchairinterviews.com/reviews/in-the-land-of-invisible-women-a-female-doctor

"In the Land of Invisible Women gave me a lot to think about, and just not about the complexities of Saudi Arabia but also my country’s, the U.S.A., interactions within the Middle East."http://bookchronicle.wordpress.com/2008/10/16/nonfiction-in-the-land-of-invisible-women-by-qanta-a-ahmed-md/

Much of what is revealed in this book is difficult to read as an American, a Jew and a woman. However, it is important for me to try to understand other belief systems just as I would like others to try to learn about mine.

Tolerance. Understanding. Equality. Acceptance. Someday ...

Friday, March 13, 2009

Differences in Kid Philosophies

It is common for us to compare and contrast SOB and NOB.

Winners and losers.
In Mexico childrearing, we have noticed that the concept of winning and losing is portrayed realistically.

For example, every 2-3 months Oldest Son has a week of Spanish exams and a week of English exams. The exams cover math, science, grammar, spelling, history and personal responsibility. The grades are shared with all students after each exam. The scores are totaled and there are 1st place, 2nd place and 3rd place diplomas awarded in 2 school wide assemblies – one for Spanish diplomas and 1 for English diplomas. It is a big deal. See somes pics above of today's assembly. (Oldest Son received a 2nd place diploma in Spanish a couple weeks ago – his first Spanish award! And, of course, he received a 1st in English today.)

At Halloween, there was a costume contest where winners were chosen by applause. Even the preschool winners were selected this way.

The Expo had a winning Country Group who gets to go to the movies as a reward. Interestingly, the preschool Mexico group won which was well deserved – their dancing was incredible!
The kids all seem to handle in a good natured way. There are no trophies or prizes for all or for just participating as is often the case in the USA.
Call me harsh but I think this real approach teaches important lessons about sportsmanship, effort, acceptance, humility, joy, pride and disappointment that should be absorbed in appropriate doses early in life. It is a good thing.

Futbol Sensibilities.
Oldest Son and Youngest Son are now playing soccer after school with boys their age. They meet a couple times a week at the school grounds. The coach (who only speaks Spanish) has the boys practice skills and then scrimmage among themselves. No weekend games. No uniforms. No snacks. No hovering parents. No car pools. No trophies. I guess you can tell I like this approach. It is an appropriate level of extracurricular activity for boys under the age of 11. And selfishly, it is also easy on the parents. It is a good thing.
Lovely friends arrived in from USA tonight. We said our Shabbat prayers with them. A Jewish man staying with his friend walked over from next door to wish us Shabbat Shalom – he had heard our prayers through the open doors … Shabbat Shalom to friends and strangers alike …

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Back In Mexico

Back in Mexico. It was a rough trip in USA this time.

Lots of work so very busy - ya know - working.

Pa, see http://movingkidstomexico.blogspot.com/2008/06/dedicated-to-pa.html, my grandfather, had to be taken by ambulance to the hospital. Thankfully he is out of ICU and on to a full recovery.

I am in decompression mode right now. Thrilled to see Oldest Son and Youngest Son. Oldest Son is in book heaven since a friend sent him many great tiles to borrow and read.

We have two sets of visitors arriving over the next week starting tomorrow.

Glad to be back in Mexico and on the Blog.

Monday, March 2, 2009


The last month has been so nice to work from home in Mexico even if I am still over the top too busy.

Friends visited us from the USA last week and I was able to travel back with them this afternoon.

So here I am. In the USA.

Left Oldest Son sick with a fever.

Youngest Son arrived home this afternoon and forgot I told him good bye this morning. He was a little sad.

I miss Husband. Husband misses me.

Yes, reality is ... well ... reality. Reality is having a job to support our family and being darn thankful to have it.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Digna Ochoa

I just completed reading Betrayed The Assassination of Digna Ochoa by Linda Diebal. This book primarily deals with the murder of a Mexican human rights lawyer in 2001 and the cover up by Mexican officials to present it as a suicide.

This book clearly goes to the underside of Mexican human rights abuses. It discusses in great detail the torture, murders and disappearances of Mexican citizens. It spends a great deal of time outlining the plight of indigenous Indians.

A disturbing and intense book. A disturbing and intense topic.