Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Blogging Again

I finally have time to pay attention to my blog again. I've been super busy and something had to give. Here is what you missed while I was away.

Cainan (and the rest of the class) changed seats and he is now at the yellow table instead of the green table. This is big news.

I found 16 cents and four rocks in the dryer.

Kinley has had 5 different babysitters over the last week.

We haven't been in bed before midnight in 10 days.
Ryker got an A on his first ever written report.

Brian worked after school and weekends (with kids in tow) to finish installing all of the SmartBoards and projectors at the school.

I rehearsed and performed my community theatre play, Blithe Spirit, 9 times last week.

See why I couldn't post anything?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Shakedown

Last May I read an article entitled "The End of the Year Shakedown". It was written by a mom who was brave enough to stand up and say that she was not going to give any gifts to her child's teacher at the end of the year. She felt like it was ridiculous to reward someone for doing their job. No other professional expects his/her clients to lavish them with gifts every Memorial Day. She referred to the new trend in collecting money from all of the kids to purchase one big gift for the teacher as "the end of the year shakedown."

I pretty much agree with her thoughts, and don't give gifts to teachers either, partly because having been a teacher I know that they dread the collection of hand lotion, trinkets and apple shaped pottery more than they cherish them. (And FYI, unless you are a close personal friend they are not going to eat any homemade stuff that you send in. They know where the kids hands have been.) I feel like a card expressing my thanks for a job well done is more than sufficient to show my gratitude. But more disturbing than the required end of the year gifts is the new outrageous "beginning of the year shakedown".

Not only did it cost me $93 to register my Kindergartener for school (including $20 for snacks) I also had to pay $28 for his shots. I'm required to take him to the doctor for a physical which will cost me my $25 copay, and in addition to that there is a new state law that he must have an eye exam ($45) and a dental screening ($65). So for the grand total of $256 he can have the priviledge of attending school....where, by the way, we will be asked to purchase outrageously priced Market Day food in order to support the school and avoid having to participate in door to door fundraising.

Did I mention that I have another child that requires some of the same medical exams and registration fees so that he can enroll in 3rd grade?

Did I mention I paid the public school system over $2000 of my property taxes this year?

I understand the registration fee. I even understand the snack fee. I get why he has to have shots...no one wants infectious diseases running rampant through the Kindergarten....although I don't believe in the chicken pox vaccine, but that's another story. But if he goes blind and all of his teeth fall out it isn't going to hurt another living soul.

You cannot legislate good parenting, Mr. Blagoevich!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Mexico: Cuatro

La Historia (The History)
We were able to do quite a bit of sightseeing in between our work days at Niños. It was wonderful to see some of the famous historic sights in and around Mexico City. Here are just a few snapshots of them. On Sunday we went to Teotihuacan, the site of the Pyramid of the Sun and Pyramid of the Moon. These huge structures were built by the native inhabitants of the region (neither Aztec nor Mayan, contrary to popular belief) in the first half of the 1st century. In addition to the pyramids there are also dozens of other structures and roads. It was quite an amazing site and we had a lot of fun there.

Deb, Anne and I climbed up the Pyramid of the Moon, but they don't let you go all the way to the top on that one. It still affords a good view of the other pyramid and the surrounding areas.

Braving the rain and watching out for lightning, Anne and I climbed all the way to the top of the Pyramid of the Sun. That is no small feet considering we were climbing some of the steepest steps I've ever negotiated at almost 7,000 feet of elevation. Needless to say we were huffing and puffing.

Outside the pyramids there is a botanical garden, of sorts, that is home to many of the native plants of Mexico. I've never seen cacti so big in my entire life. Some of them were 8 or 9 feet tall.

Those little balls at the top of this one are called "tuna" and are peeled and eaten like a fruit. I didn't try one but they supposedly taste like kiwi and have lots of little seeds in them that you have to spit out as you eat it. (See why I didn't try it?)

Later in the week we went in to Mexico City to tour El Palacio Nacional (The National Palace). The president doesn't actually live there, it's more like a museum, but there are some government offices there. Much of the palace is devoted to the memory of Benito Juarez, the most famous former president of Mexico. He is considered to be the liberator of the country. We got to see his private residence and the bed where he died. We also learned a lot about the history of Mexico, particularily during the Juarez era.

My favorite part of the palacio was the Diego Rivera murals. As a Spanish major and a Spanish teacher, I have studied and taught the Rivera murals for years. It was awesome to see them in person and stand right there in the palacio where he stood when he painted them. I got a lot of good pictures of all of the murals, but I won't bore you with all of them. Here are just a few. These are 14 feet tall and sometimes 30+ feet wide and they all depict the history of Mexico in different eras.
I wish that I also could have seen some Frida Kahlo works, since she is the other famous Mexican artist that I have studied and taught, but none of hers were displayed in the palacio. I'll just have to settle for seeing her likeness in one of Rivera's murals. (That's here in the red, V-neck dress at the bottom of the mural above.) She was his wife, you know.

Just around the corner on El Zocalo (the center plaza of Mexico City) in the Municipal Cathedral. It is a massive cathedral that looks pretty much just like every other Old World cathedral you can imagine except for the fact that it is crooked. Yep, that isn't bad photography. The whole place is sinking. According to the plumb bob inside the building has moved 84 inches in the past 800+ years. One side (the right in the above picture) has hydrolic jacks under it, but the other side doesn't yet and it is still going down. As a matter of fact, originally you had to climb up 6 steps to enter the catherdral. Now you have to go down 2 steps to go through the doors.
Since I'm not all that in to saints and candles and gold leaf I didn't take all that many pictures of the cathedral. However, the enormous pipe organ (with both horizontal and vertical pipes) was pretty impressive. The other thing that made an impression on me in the church was the sign that said, "No se necesita un celullar para hablar con Jesuscristo. Por favor lo apague." ("You don't need a cell phone to talk to Jesus. Please turn it off.")

We also got to eat at a couple of mexican restaurants (not Taco Bell) while we were out and about. In Mexico City we ate at Sanborn's. The food was good, but the best part of Sanborn's is the atmosphere. The restaurant is located in downtown Mexico City in an old palace. The palace was converted to a restaurant in 1903 and it has been serving delicious mexican food ever since. The outside of the building is completely covered in handpainted ceramic tiles, giving it the name "The House of the Tiles". It is really a wonderful place to eat. And after you eat there is a gift shop and a confectionary shop in the lobby. We got some really delicious chocolates there.

The other restaurant we went to was "Las Tejamaniles". The name refers to the particular type of wooden tiles used on the ceiling (teja) of the building. But, for a reason that wasn't quite clear to me several people in our group called it "The Hole in the Wall". It was a cute little restaurant where they cook out in the open right in front of everybody. They have a big open air garden in the center of the restaurant full of beautiful plants and a fountain. The management gave us all little handpainted clay pots when we left. That is where I tried my first bite of cactus (not bad), had my first chocolate malt (delicious), and used the construction paper that was hanging on the wall in the bathroom as toilet paper (I don't recommend it unless, as was the case here, there is no other option).

Probably one of the biggest cultural experiences we had though was getting to go to an indoor soccer game to watch several of the Niños kids play in their league. (I couldn't get any good pictures through the chainlink fence that protects the fans and the lighting wasn't sufficient either.) Even though I know nothing about the sport, it was so fun to sit and cheer for them and watch them defeat a team of adults at least 10 years older than most of them. Can I just say that indoor soccer is quite a physical and dangerous sport! The boys were excited and happy to have such a big cheering section in the stands and we all loved it too.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


...outside the public bathroom at Riverfront Stadium, or Great American Ballpark, or whatever coporate name it is going by this week.

Ryker: That sink sprayed out really hard!

Cainan: I turned it on and it got me all wet. But don't worry, I've still got my personality, it was just water.

....on Facebook last night.

Shouse: I never thought I'd want to see the Vice President in a swimsuit.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Persecuted Church

One of the blogs that I read pretty faithfully is "We Are THAT Family". Kristin shares stories from her normal, crazy life. This is one of my favorites and here is another one. She is an amazing writer. I laugh out loud almost every time I read one of her entries.

Until today. Today I cried.

She has recently met (right in her home town) some refugees from Uzbekistan that were forced to flee their home and families because they were sharing the gospel. As they share their story with her, she is sharing it with us on her blog.

I would really encourage you to read the amazing story of this family and their faith. It sounds like something from 1950s Russia, but it happened just a year or two ago. There is also information on the blog about how to monetarily support this family and the work they are still trying to accomplish in their country even from thousands of miles away.

To read Part One of the series go HERE.
To read Part Two of the series go HERE.
To read Part Three of the series go HERE.
To read Part Four of the series go HERE.

Mexico: Tres

El Trabajo (The Work)

(I've been postponing this post while I wait for more pictures of some of our work projects. The pictures still aren't here but I'm going to go ahead and post it anyway. I'll let you know when I have some new visuals to add to this entry in the Mexico series.)

The 12 of us actually travelled to Ninos to be a work group. We had specific projects that we were supposed to help them complete before school started. We arrived on a Sat. night and after a day of church and siteseeing on Sunday, we were finally able to start our work projects on Monday morning. We were all chomping at the bit.

I was personally assigned to workbook duty. The school operates on a system of workbooks, or paces, that the students complete at their own pace. We transported several new workbooks down with us in our luggage and the groups that had come earlier in the summer had done the same. Those workbooks needed to be filed in their proper location and ALL the workbooks in the place had to be inventoried.

So Deb and Vicki and I sorted and counted and filed and inventoried for several hours....and all without suffering so much as a paper cut. (Unfortunately I don't have any pictures of this to show you.) The workbooks are kept in the school superintendants office. So he was in there making phone calls and having meetings while we were spreading hundreds of workbooks all over his floor. He just smiled and stepped over the piles.

After that was completed Deb and I tackeled the English library, or as it can be more acurately described...the storage closet. Anything that they didn't have a place for or know what to do with they were stashing in the library. There was stuff piled everywhere, making nearly impossible to enjoy the books housed inside. The library was somehow also used as a classroom, even in its current condition, so we really needed to get it cleaned out and organized. This is what it looked like when we began.

We spent two days cleaning, sorting and organizing. We gave the walls some new colorful paint and dressed up the windows. We took all of the books off of the shelves and washed them, then reorganized the books as we put them back. We put all of the teaching materials in one section, all of the videos in a section, all of the preschool books in a section...you get the picture. It wasn't hard, it was just time consuming. When we were finally finished this is what it looked like.
In the meantime Anne, Julie, Maureen and Bunny were painting the MASSIVE living area in Esperanza house. This huge living/dining room was quite the undertaking, especially since the house parents didn't want their hand painted stencil painted over. Yep, they had to trim around the stencil that went all the way around the room. It took them two days just to get that room painted.

Bonnie and Arlene were busy organizing the clothing closet. Churches from all over the US and Canada donate clothing for the kids at Ninos. All of it is stored in a rather small room on the campus at Genesis. Bonnie and Arlene sorted and labeled it according to gender and size. They've made it much easier for everyone to locate the clothing that they need.

The guys in the group, Jim, Donnie and Rick were busy working on the porch roof at Genesis house. In Mexico everything is made of concrete...even the roofs. The previous summer groups had formed up the new porch roof and installed the rebar, but it wasn't quite ready for the concrete yet. There was a lot of "hurry up and wait" associated with the roof project. The guys were able to enjoy some time playing basketball with the boys and get some other smaller projects done while they waited for materials to arrive for the roof job. Actually, even though they worked on it all week they still didn't get to see the concrete go in. I guess the next group took care of that.

Once the painting was done at Esperanza and the English library was ship shape, we took on some new projects. Anne, Julie, Maureen and Bunny tackled the teeny tiny preschool room. They repainted it and sorted and washed all of the toys. They purchased new storage containers for the classroom and reorganzied everything. They found 40+ puzzles that were all mixed together in a giant bag. We spent our afternoon and evening trying to put them together. I think there might have been 15 that actually had all of the pieces. They threw away a lot of junk and replaced it with some new, nice toys and educational materials. Julie even bought some sheets and made them some curtains and a toy hammock for the room.

Deb, Vicki and I sorted the toiletries that had been donated. Each house has it's own 50 gallon drum at the main complex. When donations come in (like the 50 tubes of toothpaste and 30 sticks of deoderant that we brought...thanks to CVSing) they have to be sorted into these drums. Because they were going to be transitioning into different living arrangements (more details on this later) in just a few days the items in the tubs were no longer divided correctly. For example, there were exfoliating lotions and nail polishes and hair accesories in the barrell for Bethel house but all of the girls were moving in to Genesis house. So we had to dump everything out and start again, adding the items we had brought too.

The most exciting work I did while I was there was translating. Vicki was interviewing all of the staff at Ninos in order to study their educational system and provide them with feedback on how to improve it. Many of the staff did not speak English, so I had to tag along in order to translate for Vicki. It was so much fun to get to talk to, and learn from, the people working at Ninos. It was great practice for me and it was comforting to discover that I haven't forgotten everything I learned. I enjoyed speaking Spanish so much. One day I translated for 3 hours straight. It was great!

In the end I felt like we had accomplished a lot for the mission...even if we never got that roof done. Their facilities are certainly cleaner and more organized than they were before. Hopefully they could appreciate the improvements that we made to their buildings while they were on summer vacation.

Monday, September 8, 2008


Cainan has taught Kinley how to meditate.

Not in a sit-very-quietly-and-think way, but more in a sit-indian-style-with-your-hands-out-stretched-and-your-fingers-making-an-"o"-shape-while-you-hum-"oooooohm".

I have no idea where he learned that (SpongeBob is my number one suspect though) or why he does it so often that Kinley picked it up, but it is totally hilarious.

Note: Since I orginally wrote this post I have been informed of two things.

#1: "Indian style is no longer an appropriate term. Now (according to Ryker and Cainan's teachers) we are required to call it "pretzel style" or "criss cross applesauce sitting".

#2: Cainan learned to meditate not from SpongeBob but from Paige...our neighbor girl and authority in all things, according to the boys, by virtue of the fact that she is older.

Manic Monday

In light of the current campaigns and upcoming elections I thought this one was appropriate for today.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

This is the Part Where You Say Awwww!

Roses from my hubby.

So, he plucked them off of the bushes in front of the house. So what?

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Ivy League All The Way

Are my kids bound for Harvard or what?

Ever since the Olympics they can frequently be seen fencing...in full armor I might add. And their favorite bathtime activity is to mix up imaginary chemical compounds that they have named "Soylene" and "D2R". (I'm hoping they're imaginary anyway.)

They're never going to get dates are they?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Mexico: Dos y Media

I realize this doesn't exactly give you any insight in to my recent trip to Mexico but I hadn't posted an entry in this series in quite a while and it is one of the favorites of all my relatives that read this blog. Also...I thought it fit somehow.

I promise part three in the series tomorrow, but for now here is Mexico: Two and a Half.

At Grandma and Grandpa's House.....

....they would have never gone to Mexico.

They would have supported me and been proud of me but they would have been nervous about my trip. It is something they never would have considered doing themselves...for two reasons.

#1) Grandpa refused to go to St. Louis even. He did travel very occasionally to South Dakota, where he liked to look at farmland just for fun, and once he drove all the way out to Utah to visit his brother. But he didn't like cities and he took two lane roads whenever possible. Even my sister living there had no influence over his decision to NEVER go to St. Louis...and his grandchildren usually had a pretty strong pull over him.

He based his decision on the one time he did go to St. Louis. For his 8th grade class trip they took all the kids to St. Louis. They rode all the way there (a 2 hour trip) in the back of a truck and had an awful experience. Even when we reminded him that he could now travel there inside a comfortable and air conditioned car he didn't want to.

#2) Grandma travelled more often. She went to California and Arizona and Detroit to see her sisters. She took the bus and she even flew, something else my Grandpa never did. But she wouldn't have gone to Mexico because of ....well, the Mexicans. My Grandma is prejudice; not in the sense that she would ever be cruel or degrading to anyone, but in the sense that she has very strong and stereotypical opinions about various groups of people.

She believes some of the standard ones like "southerners are lazy" and "the Irish drink to much", but she also has some of her own very unique theories. She believes that people who have horses will go broke and are always on the verge of financial ruin. She believes that young men who get married while in medical school do so to get some woman who can work and put them through school and then when they finally become doctors they dump their wives and run off with nurses. She expounded on these theories on more than one occasion...which is why I remember them.

But the one that takes the cake is one I heard her say only once, 20 years ago, but it was so outrageous that I remember it to this day. My aunt and her family were moving to Bloomington. A "northern" city over 3 hours away from Grandma's southern Illinois home. They had purchased a house but it needed new carpet. My aunt had arranged for the carpet to be installed before they moved up there, meaning while no one was home. My Grandma was lecturing her (mind you she was approx. 40 years old, but you're never too old for a lecture from Grandma) on the dangers of letting strangers into her house. She topped off the whole discourse with the phrase, "You know how those northern carpet layers are!"

I wish I could remember what happened after that. Did my aunt laugh out loud? I can't imagine how she kept a straight face. I laugh every time I think about it. But knowing my aunt she probably just said, "Oh, mother" and moved on. She was kind of used to it by that point.

On August 28, 1979*:

My aunt Amy started school that day and so did Grandma. She was studying to become a nurse. Grandma's college schedule was 8-11, I.N.S (whatever that is), 11-12:15, English Comp, 2-3:50, Anatomy and Physiology, which she notes sounds interesting. My parents and sister and I took a load of beans to St. Louis (I guess we were just sitting on the floor in the truck cab. I know it only had two bucket seats.). Grandpa worked around the farm and Uncle Shannon killed 2 grey squirrells for Grandad (my Great Grandpa) for his birthday. He turned 78 that day.

*I realize that this is supposed to be an "on this date in 1979" feature but on Sept. 4, 1979 my Grandma was sick and threw up. (Maybe it was the squirrell meat?) I didn't think that would interest most of you. So I gave you an entry from a different date.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Mexico: Dos

Well, today is Works for Me Wednesday and since I'm in the middle of my series about my recent trip to Mexico I thought I'd share with you all how mission trips work for me.

La Mision (The Mission)

Ninos* de Mexico is a non-profit mission directly supported by churches in the U.S. and Canada. In 1967 they began taking in children from the Mexico City area that have been abandonded, abused and/or orphaned. They then care for these children until they are adults and out on their own. They have children's homes, a Christian school, a medical outreach and a church plant within their mission.

In addition to donations from churches that pay for the teachers' salaries, facilities and other needs, Ninos also operates on a sponsorship basis. Through their H.U.G.S. (Helping the Underpriveleged Get Started) program individuals sponsor a specific child. This involves corresponding with the child and sending a monthly support check...usually around $25. Each child needs at least 6 sponsors in order to cover his/her room and board, clothing, shoes, and other basic needs.

My church is one of the many churches that supports the Ninos mission. Within my church there are several people who participate in the H.U.G.S. program and sponsor children that are currently living at the home. So we take a trip to Ninos every other year in order to:
#1 complete some much needed work projects at the facility
#2 show the staff and children at Ninos our support and love

#3 show the members of our congregation exactly what Ninos is all about and encourage their continued support

#4 to allow sponsors to visit the children they have been supporting over the years.

For me personally the trip was a chance to use my education and my skills as a Spanish teacher and Spanish speaker and serve God at the same time. I knew very little about Ninos when I went. I knew that it was an orphanage and a school, but that's about it. This is what I learned:

Ninos is located in Chicoloapan, a "suburb" of the gigantically sprawling metropolis of Mexico City. It is an orphanage in the sense that they take in and care for orphans, but it is so much more than that.
Ninos is committed to raising these children and caring and supporting them until they are mature adult Christian professionals. They are raising Mexicans to be Mexicans. They are not americanizing the kids. Their goal is for their children to be productive members of their own society and culture, who can also further the cause for Christ in their own country as ministers and as lay workers. For this reason, children who are placed at Ninos cannot be adopted. Once they arrive at Ninos they will not leave (unless by their own choice) until they have accomplished the goals stated above. This does bring about some unique issues, however.

First of all, the Mexican government is on an adoption kick right now and only wants to place their children in orphanages where they can be adopted. This comes and goes with the whims of the government officials, so it will likely change before too long, but in the meantime the government is reluctant to place children at Ninos.

Secondly, there are "children" living in the homes that are up to 23 years old. There are no age limits at Ninos. As long as a child wants to continue his/her education he/she can remain at Ninos. So there are houses with children ranging in age from 5 to 23. This is quite a challenge for the houseparents as you can imagine.

In addition to the homes, there is a Christian school on the campus of Ninos. All of the children in grades pre-K through 9 attend this school. Right now there are approximately 30 children in the school. High school students attend a local private high school. Ninos strives to give the children a basic education that will allow them to continue on to the university or technical school of their choice after graduation. The school faces many struggles as they educate the children.

When the children arrive they have usually been abused in some way (physically, mentally, sexually, or all of the above) and/or abandoned. Some have been shuffled around through other children's homes while others have lived alone on the streets for years. I met children who were chained up during the day while their parents worked. I met 5 children who were abandonded into the care of their oldest sibling...an 8 year old girl. I met children who had watched their parents die before being taken in by the state and placed at Ninos. These children have not been to school. Sometimes they don't even know the alphabet or how to read or write...and they might be 10 or 12 years old.

This makes "school" as we know it an impossibility. Students can't be placed by age or size. Their instuction has to be very individualized. That is why there are 23 year olds entering high school, and that is why Ninos is so special.
No child at Ninos will be left without a spiritual or academic education. He/She can achieve as much as they desire with the full support of Ninos. They always have a home, siblings and houseparents standing behind them as they strive for success...no matter how long it takes. Dr. Noe is a good example.

Dr. Noe came to Ninos in its early days along with his 9 brothers and sisters. He lived and studied there until he was 30 years old. He then went away to college where he became a doctor. He is now the physician for Ninos and their medical clinic out in the mountains. His sister, Isais, is the Spanish teacher at the school. These children were raised by Ninos and now use their lives to help other children just like them. And they aren't the only ones. Lorena, one of the houseparents, is also a former Ninos child, and her husband, Luis, is the son of former houseparents so he grew up at Ninos too.

Ninos is an incredible organization that, like all missions, faces extrordinary challenges. They are changing so many lives for the better, and introducing so many children to the love of Jesus Christ while rescuing them from a life of poverty and abuse. I absolutely fell in love with the children and the mission.

The theme verse at Ninos is Psalm 27:10 "Though my mother and father forsake me, the Lord will receive me." The kids all have shirts that say "RECEIVED" in big bold letters on the back to remind them that they have been received by their heavenly father and he will never forsake them.

Please pray for the children and staff at Ninos. If you are interested in sponsoring a child go HERE. If you just want more information go HERE.
Whatever else you do, never miss an opportunity to go on a missions trip. You will not come back the same. Your view of God and his work will be forever changed. We all need to see His hand at work in far off places to remind us of his immeasurable love and power.

More on my Mexico series coming up later this week, so stay tuned.

For more Works For Me Wednesday go to Rocks In My Dryer.
*It drives me crazy that I couldn't put the tilda over the "n" each time I wrote "Ninos" in this post. Just know that it is there in my mind and that the word is pronounce [neen-yos], NOT [nee-nos]. If anyone knows how to do this in blogger please let me know. (For the record Mexico should have an accent mark over the "e" too, but we'll let that slide for now also.)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Mexico: Uno

La Comida (The Food)

Since this is Kitchen Tip Tuesday I thought I'd tell you about the food I experienced on my recent trip to Mexico and leave you with a recipe too.

First let me say that Mexican food is not spicy. Salsas of varying degrees of heat are served alongside every meal...but the food itself is just well seasoned, not hot. Unlike Panama where I had pretty much nothing but chicken and rice for 3 weeks straight, we had mostly beef in Mexico. We did have beans at almost every meal and rice pretty often too. When the week was over I realized that I had eaten sour cream on practically every meal while I was there. (Mexican sour cream is runny and more like yogurt than our sour cream. It is a really great flavor.)

Of course the fresh fruit there is amazing and so delicious. One day we had nothing but fruit for our "snack". We ate mango, pineapple, apples, bananas, grapes, oranges and cantloupe that we had purchased fresh from the market the day before. Which brings up two topics of interest; #1 the market and #2 the "snack".

The open air market in San Vicente was quite the experience. It was loaded down with fresh produce of all types....including fresh meat. There was no shortage of animal apendages and organs. There were mountains of fresh chiles and fruits. There was a knife sharpener and a flower girl trying to make a living. It was noisy and smelly and everything you would expect from a market in Mexico. I loved it. The pictures scattered throughout this post are all from the market.

The "snack" is a small meal eaten at noon everyday. In Mexico you eat breakfast in the morning and then a "snack" at noon. Then around 3:30 you eat lunch and around 7:30 you eat supper. On our first full work day there we were all hungry at noon so we chowed down on our "snack" of tuna salad and crackers. So when lunch rolled around at 3:30 we were not really all that hungry for the plates full of tostadas topped with refried beans and italian beef and Sopa Codojito (macaroni noodles in a tomato broth) on the side. Of course Victoria, the sweet little cook, had been so nice as to fix us this feast that we had to eat it. After that we learned that no matter how much food was offered at "snack" we needed to eat just a little of it. There was a whole lot of eatin' goin' on down there.

I liked absolutely everything I ate while I was in Mexico. The Mexican oregano that we used was especially delicious. You dump a little of it in your hand and then you grind it between your palms and let it fall on your food. It was so good that I brought a bottle of it home with me. It is a lot more flavorful than our dried oregano. I also brought home Tajin Salsa En Polvo (which bascially means 'salsa powder'). It tastes a lot like seasoning salt and they eat it on their fruit, especially on fresh pineapple. It was very good but a little too salty for fruit in my opinion.

I can't say that I really tried anything new (except cactus, which tastes like asparagus kind of), but everything was cooked or combined in a different way. One day we had tuna salad....but their tuna salad has fresh cilantro, tomato, and onion in it. It was super delicious. We also ate "Alambra", which is shredded beef, bell peppers, carrots, and onion all baked with cheese on top then served over beans. Of course we also ate the standard tacos, burritos and quesadillas too.

My three favorite meals were Tamales, Cilachiques and Picadillo. I'm not normally much of a tamale fan but these were really good. We purchased them from a local pedaller and ate them for breakfast. I had a strawberry and a pineapple tamale. They were excellent. If I can ever find a recipe and way to make them I definitely will. Chilaciques is shredded chickened (very well seasoned) over homemade tortilla chips and rice and covered with cheese, green salsa (made from tomatillos) and sour cream. Picadillo is basically a beef stew without the broth served over rice. Beans were offered as a side dish with both of these meals.

As a matter of fact beans were served in some form or another with every meal. And if we had them one day we had the leftovers "refried" the next day. Literally you throw the beans into a skillet of hot grease and fry them as you smash them with a big spoon. I actually got to do this when it was my turn for breakfast duty.

We all took turns cooking breakfast for our team. Sometimes it was Mexican food and sometimes it was french toast and bacon. No matter what we always had yogurt on the side. (The bacteria in the yogurt helps keep your stomach on the straight and narrow.) The day I cooked we made Molletes. They were very good but they seemed like more of a lunch food than a breakfast food to me. Here is the recipe I promised you.


hoagie rolls
leftover beans
butter, melted
swiss cheese
Cut rolls in half and brush insides of each piece with melted butter. In the meantime "refry" the beans in a hot skillet. Then spread beans generously over rolls and top with a slice of cheese. Bake in a 350 oven until hot all the way through and cheese is melted. Serve with salsa and of course, sour cream.

Que te gustes! (I hope you like it!)

More in my Mexico series tomorrow. Stay tuned!!

Recipes Galore

I just found a great new site.


It is basically the same as allrecipes.com with one majoy improvement. It gives you the nutritional information on every recipe!!! I mean, it shows you a label exactly like the ones on the packaged products you buy. It's great!

This is a huge thing for those of you on Weight Watchers or any kind of diet. Now you can check out the calorie, fat, sugar and fiber content of your homemade foods. Cool, huh?

Monday, September 1, 2008

Happy LABOR Day!

I've never participated in a meme (sounds like 'dream') before, but this one was sent to me and sounded fun. So in honor of Labor Day.....

How long were your labors?

Ryker: 8 hours
Cainan: 12 hours*
Kinley: 2 hours

*My doctor had another looooooong surgery to perform before he could get to me so he kindly asked the nurses to turn off my pitocin and let me "rest"...doctor code for wait for 8 hours.

How did you know you were in labor?

The doctor said, "We're going to induce you today," and they plugged in the pitocin.

Where did you deliver?

St. Luke's Hospital in Chesterfield, Missouri....I highly recommend it....although when I had Kinley they had no air conditioning...so maybe avoid going into labor immediately after city wide power outages.



*Except for #3. When you give birth 17 minutes after your water breaks there really isn't time for an epidural. The last words I said before I started screaming incoherently were, "I'm not doing this without an epidural!!!!" I guess I was wrong.


Nope...I'm really good at dilating. I've made it to 5 cm without noticeable contractions and while going about my daily life none the wiser every time. (Contractions somehow always eluded me though. I've never had one that wasn't pitocin induced. Weird, huh?)

Who delivered?

Dr. Houck*

*Except with Kinley. She was delivered by the first nurse, or resident, or orderly that got to my room after I let out a blood curdling scream as she came zooming into this world. I have no idea who it was. Someone very fast.

So yes, I gave birth in a plain old bed, in a room with no air conditioning or lights, without any anesthetic, and without a doctor. How very pioneer of me. Brian just wishes he would have remembered to bring the stick for me to bite down on.

If you want to play along with this meme, just cut and paste the questions into your own blog, then go to Rocks in My Dryer and leave your link.

Music To My Ears

As I sit here typing this I can hear the roar of the lawn mower outside the window. When I turn and look out at the nearly completed lawn I see Ryker buzzing along happily as he mows off the last section.

I've been waiting 25 years for someone to take over my lawn mowing job.

Hallelujah! The day has finally come.

Now how will I ever get a tan?

Manic Monday

This just reminded me too much of recent events. I couldn't pass it up.

I'm Healed

My computer is healthy again and I'm ready to start bloggin'.

Sorry for the week's absence. I've got a lot to tell you about my trip to Mexico starting tomorrow.

Unfortunatley Brian's laptop is still at the doctor's office, poor guy.