Rainy day deep clean

Well, in this little house there is absolutely NO kitchen. It does have a counter at least which is better then our old house. But other then that there is simply a sink sticking out of the wall. So we have filled the space with a fridge, a shelving unit which is ALL of the storage we had for ALL kitchen things and food. - That is tough.

Well, we have lived here for about 3 months and so it was time for a deep clean. We pulled everything away from the wall, emptied all of the shelves and built some new "shelves". In this case it is 2 cement blocks with a board on it. We know have all of our spices and oils on a little shelf by my knees. We cleaned the outside of all the pots and pans and organized all of our utensils. We also built a little side table out of cement blocks to put by the computer.

Once the kitchen was totally clean and put back together we made a great dinner. (recipe on other blog) and took a nice hot shower. The kids fell asleep early and I got to hang out in my clean little house.

I know that I am strange but a clean, well organized room always makes me really happy. I lit the candles and watched a movie. I must say... GREAT NIGHT!

Akilean's 4th Birthday

Today Akilean turned 4!!! He is growing up so fast. He is such a little gentleman. We woke up this morning and the kids ate the rest of the corn bread muffins. They had wanted to eat more yesterday but since they did not eat as many of the veggies from their veggies and rice dinner as I wanted... alas, they had to wait till this morning. But they wasted no time at all in getting to asking me to eat them. Lena has developed a new word. Tomorning. I used to think she said it because she was meaning to say tomorrow but then I discovered... no... this is what she means when she is talking about tomorrow morning. So first thing this morning the kids woke up, charged into my room and requested the mini corn bread muffins that they had been promised.

Our original plan was to head off to a cenote or to the beach for the day before Ruben had to go to work. But as Ruben's work days take him well into the night, waking up early is not a steadily happening thing. We decided instead to let Akilean tell us what he wanted to eat for lunch. With a 4 year old's confidence he stated...HOTDOGS!!!! ---Who are we to tell him no? But we did make good Mexican hot dogs-- not just boring old hot dogs. We would have wrapped them in bacon if we had it but we did not have any. We did however steam the buns, used mayo, mustard, catsup (although not Heinz so in my opinion not really catsup at all) chopped onion and chopped tomato and a little salsa. They were very good!!!! And as you can see from these pictures... so did the kids.

Then it was time for cake and Akilean's present. I bought a train baking pan many, many months ago at the goodwill in the USA and have been wanting so much to use it. I was lucky enough that it was in the box of stuff that Barb and Shannon brought down. So I used that to cook Akilean a cake.
I must say that it turned out a lot better then I thought it would. I was worried because while I love to bake, when it comes to decorating I am afraid that my hands just do not have the energy to do it with any great amount of detail. But it did look very cute. Fair Akilean's birthday we gave him a collection of little plastic tools. As with true Mexican toy fashion many of them have already broken. Oh well. luckily Akilean is so easy going that he is happy to play with them anyway. We once gave him a toy car that lost all it's wheels in a matter of days. And he just happily pushed the body of the car along the floor. No use crying over spilt milk.

We finished the night with a great dinner. (Roasted potatoes and baked chicken- the recipe and pics are on my goddess blog.) And some great ice cream sundays. The only ice creams we can find in the super down here are Hagan Daz (the small pints for almost $10 US and the old school Nestle. The flavor in store right now was napoleon. You know... that strawberry, vanilla and chocolate mix. It tastes like the sort of ice cream that the milk shakes from Burger King are made with. You know... that super strong strawberry flavoring. And we topped it with the crumbs from the cake that the kids have been picking it all day. All in all a good way to end the birthday.

Just another fun Saturday.

Today was a good day. Ruben got up and made coffee and brought it to me in bed which... I must say if the rest of the day totally went to shit- that would have been enough. But it did not. Today was really fun. We woke up and made these little screens for our plant bed- ghetto but they work. Plus they keep the cats out of my fresh barkdust thinking that it is there for their litter box. And the plants themselves are growing like crazy. Then after playing in the yard for a little while, the kids and I headed off to the park.
Akilean has gotten really good on his bike. Lena does not like that her helmet makes her head sweat and I have tried to explain that there is no getting away from sweating here in Mexico. Hopefully soon we will be able to save up for a car and that will make going to the beach a much more appealing option. As of right now it is a 100 peso day just in cab fair and it is down a road that is not safe for us to bike down.

Hobbs has also gotten much much bigger. I went into the kids room the other day and there he was, sleeping as he loves to do curled up by our knees. Then a little while later I went into my room and found him sleeping all spread out on my blanket. And there is another interesting thing... we have actually used our blanket lately. It has been chilly at night.
Beautiful during the day but it has definitely been chilly at night. Other then that there is not much to report. I cannot wait to set our roof set up so that we can hang out up there. the laundry lines are up and the laundry dries so fast. It is great. Again, we look totally trashy but oh well.

Cat on a hot tin (well Cement) roof

While setting up my new laundry lines up on the roof I noticed that my little cat Hobbs was up there. Now this little cat has certainly shown that she can get almost anywhere so I should not really be surprised. But I am a little bit. There he was bouncing from house to house as if it was his play ground. Not that it is all that surprising. Ruben and I are doing pretty much the same thing. Since all of the roofs are flat we are setting up a little chill area up there. I think that it is going to be very nice. We finally got our little hammock chairs hung up and the punching bag that I got Ruben for Christmas. I hope that this punching bag turns out to be a good workout. We both really need to lose some weight. As soon as we get the roof set up I will post some pics. I still cannot believe that my little kitty climbed his way up and down the ladder. That is such a funny sight.

Home at last

well, I am home from San Diego visiting Mom and Neal. There were parts of the trip that were great and there were parts of the trip that were not. The actual process of getting home had to be the least fun. We had to fly from San Diego to North Carolina- overnight on a totally booked flight, then wait in the airport for 2.5 hours to take the flight to Cancun.
Once we got all of our bags we had to take a bus to Playa del Carmen and then walk about 4 blocks dragging 3 bags and 2 kids to the collectivo and take that to Tulum. then I did not want to spend the 20 pesos for such a short drive so I walked to the house. That part was not easy. But as soon as I got home I saw Ruben... everything gets better when Ruben is around.
I just feel better. Sort of ironic given current situations but he makes everything in me happy. Oh well. We had a pretty fun time playing with the helicopters at mom and Neal's house. It was crazy. I cannot remember the last time the kids laughed that hard.
As soon as I got back I fell asleep for several hours. The travel was really hard and there was a lot of crap on my mind. It is good to be back.

US Airlines accident

Okay I am freaking out a little bit. In a few days I am boarding an airplane to head home to Cancun. I am taking US Airlines and I am flying through Charlotte, North Carolina. Well... today as a flight was taking off our of New York heading to Charlotte, North Carolina hit a flock of birds and made an emergency landing in the Hudson River. I have to say that this is not making me feel very good about getting on a plane. The good news as Mom and Neal put it was a) that it happened today and that the chances of it happening again are very unlikely and b) that the pilot landed the plane with no injuries. But I have to say that I have never been a big fan of flying and now that I have my kids with me I am even more freaked out. I guess there is really nothing that you can once you are in the plane but I am not looking forward to it.

Kick ass monopoly game- even better flight

I must say that I have never been a huge fan of the game monopoly. Probably because I always got my butt handed to me, usually via "free Parking" but the other day I was sitting in the house playing with Ruben, Lena and Akilean and we were playing teams. Well I must say that the kids lost interest pretty quick. They did however love knocking the dice in the little cup and throwing them on the table and counting the dots... first in English and then in Spanish. I must say that it took the first many rounds around the board much longer hen normal but it was fun. The kids then left to play with their other toys in their room while Ruben and I were left to finish the game. I must say that I kicked Ruben's ass. By the end of the game I literally owned every piece of property n the board. And it was made all the better because as Ruben owed a lot of money on my "Lucy and Linus" spot with the dog house on it (it was Peanuts Monopoly) we started to trade chores round the house. It was nice beating him peanuts monopoly and then getting dinner cooked and the dishes done. :) That was great. I must say that it is even then just winning but not having to do some of the household stuff was even better.

This would have been enough of a highlight but it was made even better the fact that the 2nd leg of our flight to San Diego to visit my mom and Neal in was a true travel highlight. Although they were not perfect on the first (of course very long leg) of our travels but the 2nd leg was wonderful... but way too short. As soon as we got on the plane I read the kids 2 Bernstein bears book (I love this series) and awaited our take off. Akilean was asleep by the time the flight attendants finished their first little spiel. Then Lena drifted off and I sat there listening to my cd player (although Sugarland had a scratch) with a wonderful chicken walnut sandwich from Paradise bakery and a HUGE diet coke. Not to be confused with Coca light. Any of my fellow expat diet coke lovers can appreciate he difference. And although it was only a few 45 minutes of paradise (followed by lugging 2 totally sleeping babies through the airport to baggage claim) it was wonderful. I wish it would have been on the first leg but what are you going to do.

Although we love living in Mexico... the coca light is not one o the highlights.

My garden

It has been a little project of ours to get a garden growing down here. Since we live in an area with a pretty constant water supply (at least for plants) and a year round growing season, it seemed only natural to grow some veggies and what not. Since we are on a very tight budget (living off around $500 dollars a month) we do not have the money to buy pots and such for the plants. So we got an idea from my friend Jordan to use cement blocks as a boarder and use the holes in the blocks as places to grow herbs. Before filling the holes with soil, we raked the grass and used all of the dry clippings to put in the bottom of each hole. This did 2 things, 1) we used half as much soil which helped the budget and 2) it allows for some drainage. We had 1 or 2 blocks break apart so we smashed them into smaller peieces and also put those into the holes as well. Anyone who has lived here or been here during rainy season knows the down pour so we did not want our seeds to flow away.
We are currently growing cantaloupe, watermelon, pumpkin, sweet corn, a few types of tomatoes, several types of peppers, radishes, lettuce, celery, bunching onions and bulb onions, and a few different herbs. We started by putting the seeds in a towel and keeping it moist so that they could germinate. The did a great job and are now ready to be moved to the garden. The kids are really excited There is still a lot that we want to grow but I will need to head to the states to get the seeds I want. Here are some pics of our project.

While preparing our yard for this project we moved our cooler that had been sitting since our latest trip to the beach and we found that a little friend had been living there. Here is the frog that has been living in the wheel of our cooler for at least the past few days. The kids had been playing with the hose so they are totally wet. We have had a really good time finding all sorts of crazy animals. I have 1 video of this crazy animal that I am jsut dying to know what it is. I will post it in another entry to see if anyone can tell me what it is.

The Party Continues- Jordan and Sammy are here!!!

Jordan and Sammy (our friends originally from SF but now live in Oxkutzcab) and their kids came to visit us. We had such an amazing time. At first we just hung out at the house and caught up. It has been many years since all 4 of us were together. Then we decided to head down to the beach to get in a few minutes of ocean and make a fire for dinner.
Well, when we got there- the kids wasted no time running in to the waves and dancing on the beach.
And the boys wasted no time hauling boulders and large pieces of wood and things that we needed for our fire. As for us wives (and Lola :) we got right to the business of setting up our cozy little area to sit in.
It was great. The boys made a terrific dinner and a perfect fire- the kids were having a blast - covered in the sand and even though it was long after sunset- the moon gave this bright blue light on the beach. And it was really warm. It was great. We ate pork, chicken (possibly turkey legs - not sure)hot dogs and a huge steak. All served with tortilla, grilled onion and salsa. The boys had set up everything that we needed to make a larger bomb fire closer to the ocean and it was a beautiful fire. We even had people come and ask us for our logs so they could start their fire- it was a really fun time.

The next morning after breakfast, we headed off to a cenote that I have really wanted to go to, Cristalino. It is one of the least expensive to get into and considered a local spot more then a tourist location. You can take your cooler, food and everything. It was amazing. So beautiful and as you can see the kids had an amazing time. The water was so clear that you could see all the way to the bottom as though it was 3 feet down. In fact at many places it was much much much deeper then that. There was a beautiful little cave that the kids kept hunting for treasure in. The kids made friends with many locals that made their way though and swam and hung from the rope for hours.

Ruben has as much fun as the kids while jumping from high points to the cheering kids below. It was amazing. The water is fresh and you can feel the minerals in the water. My skin has never felt better. I cannot wait to bring my mom and brothers here when they come. They are going to love it. Kennedy and Akilean (like usual- had all the people oooing and awing over them) it is so cute.

The Bitch of Playa

We had a pretty good laugh yesterday. I took the kids up to Playa del Carmen for the day to help Barb and Shannon get into their hotel and we hung on the beach. We found a little spot and sat down and sent the kids off to play in the water. About 45 minutes later a much older woman and her 2 friends came and sat in the beach chairs they had rented behind us. After a few minutes of her bitching to her friends, she leans over to us and says "you know you guys, it was very rude of you to sit here right in front of us." Totally shocked that this person felt some entitlement to the whole beach I simply told her "mame, i am sorry you feel that way but you rented your chairs, you have your chairs, and beyond that you really have no say at all in where we sit." Barb and Shannon were pissed. It was funny to us all at the same time. I got up to go with Lena for a few minutes and this woman moves her chair and covers where I was sitting and all of my stuff. Determined to not let it bother me I said "mame, i am very sorry if we bothered you and disturbed your day." this is where I got pissed. Her response was "well, you did, my whole day is ruined." First of all - not accepting someones apology is just plain rude. all I could say to her is how sorry I felt for her as that is a terrible way to live. Then Barb and Shannon and I went on with our conversation. Barb asked me if a lot of people were like that. I said that Ruben and I have had the experience that people who come on vacation have some sense of entitlement to more then what is true and fair. She interjects with .." I live here. and that I should rent a chair." I told her I live here as well and sitting in the sand is no problem for me. She then suggested that I got to the public beach. I politely reminded her that I was a public beach and that there is no where on the beach that I would sit that would not be in front of someone- she said that that would be fine- but not her. So the real issue was she felt entitled and that her comfort or preference was more important the the other people on the beach. She then repeated that she lived here. I then told her that if she was from her she should be smart enough to not come to 10th and 5th on the busiest week of the year if she does not want people around her.

Not wanting to be around the very negative environment that this woman carried around her, we got up to get a bite. Many of the people around us were simply laughing at this woman who was being so rude and high faulting. I had a good talk with a woman near by, some jewelry store owner who splits her time between New York, Playa del Carmen and Mexico City (where her husband is from) After commenting on how beautiful and obviously special my kids were (which just made my day) she said that she wanted to get up and tell the woman to shut up and stop being a bitch but then she said to herself..."no, do not be a New Yorker" we both chuckled and I simply said thank you for the thought but that the difference between that woman and me is that she lives her life that negative and I simply do not have time for it. After we held back Shannon enough to where she was not going to bitch slap this woman... we decided to send the woman a drink. We sent her over a glass of wine, watched her try to see who had sent it and then I walked over and told her that we meant no offence and that we hope she has a better day. What I was really saying was ..."do you have any idea how much easier it would have been for you to simply be nice." She could have simply said to us in the beginning, hey guys, would you mind scooting over a little bit, we would not even have batted an eye lash. We would have happily moved over, but she chose to be a bitch. If there is one thing that I have learned from my behavior in my younger years and watching some of the people in our lives now, it is that these people do not approach things in a positive way. It is undercut, rude, manipulated and many times just plain bitchy. Oh well. Hopefully that glass of wine chilled her heart a little.

Moral: do not be bitch and always accept someones apology.

2009!!!! Here I come

As with every start to the New Year myself, like everyone else is running around analyzing their lives trying to figure out how they are going to fix the things they do not like. I think the biggest thing I want to change this year is not so much the end result but the journey. I am not sure if I will ever reach each of the goals that I set for me and my family, but I definitely want to change to way I try to reach it. I think 1) I'll have a much better chance of getting there and 2)If I do not reach it I want enjoy the time I had while trying. Below are the traditional "new Years Resolutions and then their translated journey oriented counterparts.

1) lose 20 lbs. Okay- this may never happen. I mean I live in the land of fresh corn tortillas, beans, rice and lets not forget Tequila.

2) Do not yell at my kids. - Again, this might not happen. But I am going to try.

3) Become a citizen. And get the kids citizenship.

4)Build my house. Yeah this would be killer. But then there is the reality of being broke, being busy, being in Mexico and not knowing the process here yet.

5) Start our business. Well, this is really dependant on #3 and again, for the same reasons as #4, broke, busy and having no idea what we need to do.

6) Clean house everyday. Every mother is laughing right now. This is impossible to do even if you had 8 hands, let alone the failing 2 that I have.

So here are the translated daily goals I will have every morning.

Today I will...

1) Live a more active lifestyle. When I hang the laundry on the roof, do some stretches and yoga poses and some sit up. It does not have to be a whole huge routine. This is where I have failed in the past. Just a few moves, but frequently. Nothing that is going to make me immediately hate it. I need to get a bike and get over my fear of the kids on their bikes. Simply play more!

2) Have more positive times with the kids. More cooking together, more reading together, more working on the computer together. I think I will get lucky and that this will turn into more well behaved kids and therefore will need less yelling. I get way too stressed out about the kids being well behaved. I think that this one goes hand in hand with #1.

3) Make steps to attain permanent status. Okay... one thing I have learned here is that very little can be accomplished in just 1 trip. It usually requires several trip. And I am not just talking immigration, but trips to the bank, trying to pay my electric bill, EVERYTHING! So this is better served as breaking it down. Get docs translated to Spanish (by a certified translator no less) Get the kids done as they are more a matter of paperwork. And at least get what ever the first requirements are for citizenship, satisfied.

4) Get out with Ruben and start clearing the land, get docs from Ejido for land and start title process. Also get bids for the house design so we know what we need to do.

5) Work on website and business plan This is also a big part of #3. I am going to do a travel tourism blog about Tulum and try to generate revenue. And Ruben and I want to get our business plan finished.

6) Enjoy the small steps that if taken every day will remain small and enjoy the process rather then loath it. Okay- this is something that in trying to be a domestic goddess - 1 handed- I want to wake up early (this is my favorite time of day here)- And since the traditional sense of meditation does not work for me, I realized that while I am doing my dishes and laundry - this is when I have found myself meditating. I have to focus so hard on what I am doing as to not tweak my hands that I cannot really focus on much else. Every other worry gets put to the side.

7) Be better to my body. I need to drink more water, use more natural products and take care of my skin. I think again I need to enjoy the process more if I give into it rather then loath it. Eat with a lot more fish and even more veggies.

So long story not so short... There is my start to 2009! Keep posted to see how I do.

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