Dismount……

A speech teacher back in South Dakota handed us the quoted text below during class. I don’t know who’s the original author of the list, but I’ve always found it amusing.

Lately, I’ve been thinking of all the “dead horses” I keep trying to revive and wondering when am I ever going to let them go and rest in peace.

Do you have “dead horses” in your life?

The tribal wisdom of the Dakota Indians, passed on from generation to generation, says that:

“When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount”.

However, in modern business, education and government, a whole range of far more advanced strategies are often employed, such as: When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to……

1. Buy a stronger whip.
2. Change riders.
3. Threaten the horse with termination.
4. Appoint a committee to study the horse.
5. Arrange to visit other countries to see how others ride dead horses.
6. Lower the standards so that dead horses can be included.
7. Reclassify the dead horse as “living impaired”.
8. Hire outside contractors to ride the dead horse.
9. Harness several dead horses together to increase the speed.
10. Provide additional funding and/or training to increase the dead horse’s performance.
11. Do a productivity study to see if lighter riders would improve the dead horse’s performance.
12. Declare that as the dead horse does not have to be fed, it is less costly,
carries lower overhead and therefore contributes substantially more to the
bottom line of the economy than do some other horses.
13. Rewrite the expected performance requirements for all horses.
14. Promote the dead horse to a supervisory position.

One or three or more….

Growing up, I played with dolls. But I was never big on the “playing house” element of dolls. I didn’t dream of having babies/being mommy. I’d arrange sets and put up theatricals instead, sometimes borrowing my brother’s action figures to beef up the cast, haha. 

As I moved from college to the rest of my life, I was pretty sure I’d become the single, crazy aunt that my siblings’ kids could send their kids to, with all my books and cats.
In a curious twist of fate while living in Colorado, in between job hunting and reading, I spent time on an online forum for geeks and nerds. Everything movies, comics, video games, etc. One of my forum friends became my best friend, years later my boyfriend and years later the Bear. 

It wasn’t until I found myself married to a great guy that I started thinking of Mommyhood. But six years and two miscarriages into our life together, it seemed that it just wasn’t going to happen. With PCOS and the doctors gently pointing out I was reaching the “mature mother” stage of the late 30s, things looked grim. We thought about adoption, but the ever-relocating nature of a military life made it hard to plan. 

A routine checkup a year after arriving to our current duty station told us that EB was on the way. While pregnant with him, someone shared this article with me: “Why miscarriage matters when you’re pro-life”

I have heard almost every single one of the things the author lists, often from those close to me and more than once concerning our loses. 

I have a toddler now and he’s the light of my days; everyday he amazes me with the strength of his life and determination to accomplish things, no matter how small. I live in a constant haze of exhaustion and caffeine fumes but I love him to bits. 

However, there is no doubt that I miss the other two as well. As my due date approached, more than one person said something to me along the lines of “NOW you’re gonna be a Mom”.
And I couldn’t help but start pondering about it. Am I the mother of one child or three? The other two babies might not have made it, but that doesn’t make them any less real to me.

And if I introduce myself as the mother of one, am I denying the other two? I know if I introduce myself as the mother of three and they only see one, they’ll ask about the other two and that will be a very uncomfortable conversation on both sides.

These thoughts keep me up at night sometimes.

Back in October I started feeling sick. My exhaustion was reaching worrysome levels and out of sheer curiosity and because I still had one in the cabinet, I took a pregnancy test. And then the lab at the hospital took another. And to make it a short story……..we found out this last week that we’re having another boy. 

The gentle “you’re getting older” from the doctors now officially reads “mature pregnancy” on my chart and I’ve had some interesting tests done to make sure things are going ok.
I am beyond exhausted now, but excited about the possibilities, with a side of “good grief we’ll be changing duty stations with a 2 year old, a 4 month old and two cats” hyperventilating thrown into the mix. 

After GB (as baby boy #2 will be referred to from now on) arrives, we’ll be done with having kids. It’s good to understand your limitations, haha. 

Am I now the mother of 4? 2? 1 with 1 on the way? Musings, musings. 

Have a good day. 

Eating out Mexican

So….imagine you were born and raised in Italy and you travel to the US. Someone invites you out for pizza and when you look at the menu, you notice the Cheeseburger Pizza. Crust, cheese sauce, ground beef and even pickles on top. Depending on how traditional was your upbringing, you might have a moment. Or A Moment.

Food reinventing can be a beautiful thing and there are amazing dishes out there as a result. I’m not a big fan of the crunchy taco, but I love Okinawan Taco Rice. A Mexican hot dog from one of the stands in my hometown, with its carrot slaw, bacon and other yummies is heavenly. Eating at a Mexican restaurant outside of Mexico, is always an experience. Sometimes the experience is exciting, when I find a little gem of a place. And sometimes…..well, let’s just keep it at interesting.

Bear in mind that I grew up in the Northeast part of the country. Think about where you grew up and then about the differences between your surroundings and the other side of your country. Some things might be extremely different. The same applies to Mexico, from its cuisine, to colors, music, speech, etc.

Based on this, it’s very hard to pinpoint what exactly is authentic and what is not.
Am I a chef? Nope.
Am I an authority on Mexican culture? Nope.
Am I an authority on Mexican cuisine? Ha! Nope.
Will I ever eat at places like Taco Bell, Taco John’s, Chipotle, Taco King, etc? Yep. They have food.
Do I fume, hate, b*tch, and otherwise stomp around when I find a non-authentic restaurant? Nope. Mostly, I find them amusing. If the food is good, I’ll continue eating there, I just don’t think of them as “authentic”.

So, why would I venture writing about something I’m not – nor will I ever be – an expert on?
I can only say that when you grow up with something, then someone else makes a mess out of it….it does make you a bit nostalgic to say the least.

Anyway………things that make me smile/frown when visiting a Mexican restaurant outside of Mexico.

THE LOOK:

Once in a blue moon, I’ll catch the show “House Hunters International”. I like to learn about cultural differences, and the show is for the most part fun. I remember one in particular, where a lady buying a holiday home in Mexico kept turning down perfectly nice houses because they were not “Mexican enough”. She kept looking for the “real Mexican experience”.  She ended up buying a very garishly painted, overly decorated home for about a million dollars. As the credits rolled, she excitedly spoke about finally being to experience the “real Mexico”.

Don’t get me wrong, I love color. The day we finally settle down somewhere post-military, I’d love to have a colorful kitchen with talavera tile. And yes, Mexico is a place full of bright and vibrant colors. Paraphrasing a character from ‘Boondock Saints 2’….”I hail from a colorful people”. BUT there’s a big difference between color and visually assaulting someone.

I’ve walked into places that made me want to turn around and walk out. Add overly loud music and then people who seem to be confused about the difference between Mexico and Spain. Yes, we have a history together. No, we are not the same.

BURRITOS:

While there are ancestors to the burrito in Mexico,  the behemoth, overstuffed, burrito as the modern world knows them is an American invention.

I think it was 20 years ago that first time I had one. We were in Colorado and this thing landed on my plate. Neither I, nor other Mexican-born people who came along had a clue of what it was. I think the northwestern Mexican states hail the burrito as their  original creation.

So when I look at the menu at an “authentic” Mexican restaurant and burritos are not monopolizing most of the page….smiley face.

BEANS:

Beans are gooooood. And yes, we like refried beans. We also like them whole a lot. We like a variety of bean types. We like them in soups, over rice, on their own, with a sprinkling of pico de gallo and queso fresco……alright, now I’m hungry.
Whenever my only choice of beans at a restaurant are refried beans, greasily oozing over the plate……sad face.

SOUPS:

IMG_0343

Mmmmmmmmm…….soup. One of my favorite foods. And a favorite in Mexico too. A caldo is basically a heartier soup, and while winter and spring are prime caldo season, some of us will gladly eat a large bowl of it regardless of the temperature outside. Even during the worst part of summer, we’ll sit at the table in flip-flops, sleeveless tanks and shorts, slurping down a bowl and sweating like crazy. A restaurant that offers at least one kind of soup or caldo makes me very happy. Do a Google image search for “Mexican caldo”. You might get hungry.

CHEESE:

We like cheese a lot, and it’s present at all tables, from light snacking to main ingredients in our meals. Fresco, Panela, Oaxaca, Asadero, etc, etc. Receiving a plate of food that has American Cheddar cheese, ears a major sad face.

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For the most part, that’s about it. I’m not picky about salsas, nor things like tamales (in my mind, anything other than my late Abuelita’s banana leaf wrapped tamales is doomed to failure. It doesn’t matter if the restaurant has magnificent tamales. I’ve eaten them but…..they’re just not the same. Most Mexicans have someone in their family who makes the best tamales and nothing else will do).
I’m not a drinker, but a restaurant that understands that there are more beers in Mexico than Corona is nice. Same goes for regular beverages. Anyone who has a decent horchata or agua de jamaica (slightly sweetened, iced hibiscus tea) gets kudos. The day I find a restaurant outside of Mexico that serves Escuis de Hierro, I might fall in love. Guacamoles with lime in them are not my cup of tea, and it’s always a bonus if I can order in Spanish and be understood.

Funny story…when the Bear and I were still dating, we went to a Mexican restaurant in town. The food was pretty good, the staff was mostly Mexican and at some point, I must have said something in Spanish and the waitress heard me. From that point on, she spoke to me and me alone, ignoring the Bear – who doesn’t speak Spanish -. Everything from “how’s your meal?” to “would he like more water?”. Far from being annoyed, the Bear found it hilarious and has decided that any Mexican restaurant where he gets ignored so they can speak Spanish to me gets extra points. Halfway through our meal, one of the cooks walked out, snuck up to our table and after making sure no one could hear her said: “We got some of the good salsa in the back, would you like some?”. I’m not the greatest spicy eater in the world, so I thanked her but declined and told her her the food was great. After she left and I translated to the Bear, he busted out laughing. We went back to that place a few times before we changed duty stations.

So there you have it….going to a Mexican restaurant.

Have a great week!

 

 

The Bu in the Jo

As I mentioned before, I love the ideas behind the Midori, the Bullet Journal (a.k.a. Bujo) and Hobonichi. 

I talked most about my Fauxdori in the previous post, but do I bullet journal? What happens to the Hobonichi?

By their powers combined, I schedule things. 

This is pretty much what it looks like:

  
 Anything that has a specific date, goes on the dated side. 

I use one of the right hand columns for meal planning, although I usually write the meals after the week is over as a log of what we’ve eaten and to give myself an idea of what works/doesn’t work. 

The remaining space on the right goes to my weekly checklist. Right now, it’s mostly an ongoing thing: 2 laundry days a week, vacuuming, etc. I add part of our pre-moving schedule: paring down, donation items, etc. Thibgs get migrated/cancelled depending on how things are looking up. 

And that’s about it. Nothing fancy, just keeping myself accountable. 

2016 planner setup

Around this time last year I was awaiting the arrival of three planners. All three bought on a sleep-deprived crazy moment.

A couple of months into the new year, I’d decided that I had chosen poorly and needed to plan for planning. I found the Midori, the Bullet Journal and Hobonichi. And my goodness, are they beautiful.

Over the year, messing around with layouts and ideas, I came to realize that what I needed was a weekly task layout and a way to keep track of long-term plans and random information. I love random information.

So this here…..is my starting setup for 2016.

A Hobonichi Weeks and a wide Fauxdori/Vandori from VanHook & Co. I love the tri-color pen that comes with Hobonichi planners.

Although I loved my forays into Hobonichi-hood, as mentioned above, I need a weekly layout. The Weeks let’s me have the lovely Tomoe River Paper, and a dated planner that fits nicely in my purse.

The Vandori gives me what the Midori system is loved most for…being able to morph into pretty much  whatever you want. During 2016, I have about 2-3 main events that will take over my life, one of them being our impending move later this year; and although we still have no clue where we’re going yet, there is about a million and one things to do, including reducing the moving load.
Part of the ‘not knowing where’, includes not knowing what size of house/apartment/abode we have to prepare for and reducing what we have is a must. When we arrived in Alaska we had about three pieces of furniture and they were the kind that could be pulled apart for travel. We have acquired a few things in the last 3+ years and have to figure out how to move with them, yay! A part of me is glad my husband is close to retirement.

So my Vandori has three inserts: brain dump, planning move and long-term goals. I decided to start a “100 things in 10 years” bucket list kind of projects and it’ll travel with the Vandori for the coming years. The inserts are two May Designs notebooks and one Moleskine cahier. I wish the May Designs were cheaper and had less pink in their layouts, haha.
The triple rivet bookmark I got from Hobonichi as well.

 

And that’s about it for my super duper fancy planning. I still don’t do stickers, washi or fancy pens. I like to doodle from time to time, but that has to wait until I have actual time. Exciting my planning is!

We did acquire a large desk calendar and hung it from the wall, so we could ‘sync’ our appointments and plans a little more easily.

I hope your 2016 has so far been great for everyone!

Happy New Year! / ¡Feliz Año Nuevo!

I hope 2015 has been wonderful for all of you. If it hasn’t, remember it’s now over and you get a brand new year. Ok, technically, the New Year starts tomorrow, but for some of my friends, it’s already here.

A new year…..all the posibilities, all the great things that will come our way.

I wonder where will technology lead us? I’ve found myself doing a lot more analog things than before, though I haven’t given up on all the shiny doo-dads on my desk. New year, new ideas…….such as the invention of the book. One of my favorites, and hopefully, a good laugh to start 2016!

Feliz Navidad

It’s been a hectic time in our home with the holiday season, cleaning, plotting, planning and possibly scheming.

Wherever you are, I wish you a Merry Christmas. It is lightly snowing, both the Bear and EB are napping and I’m enjoying a rare quiet time, catching up on things.

If you have another name for this celebratory time of the year, I hope you’re having a great time as well :D

God bless.

Color outside the lines

I was at the checkout line today and the guy in front of me was buying a stack of small coloring books. I made the comment that it’s great to see adults coloring too and a little sheepishly, he admitted that half of the books where for him and the other half for her daughter in grad school. Coloring books for grown ups have recently become a very popular option for people in need of a little “me” time. Call it meditation, call it zen, call it personal time. Some people think of it as a passing fad. And who knows? For some people it might be.

I find it lovely. One of the best pieces of advice I got when getting my Psychology license was: “Get a hobby. Your profession is a stressful one and you need a way to unwind or you’ll burn out too quickly”. So I did theatre, drawing, and writing. I may not be a practicing psychologist anymore, but the advice still stands.

You need to find a way to unwind. For some people it’s retail therapy. For some people it’s running a marathon. For some people it’s grabbing a handful of colored pencils or crayons and coloring a page.

These days, my ‘unwind’ moments are rare and far between, but for the most part, I try to write a little, draw a little and when time allows, I bake bread.

Do I do coloring books? I have one and haven’t had a chance to open it yet. Overall, although I’ve done it in the past, it’s rare for me to color what I draw. To me, the catharsis happens in the laying of the line work. I started using pencil a lot in past years, but ink will always be my favorite. Good ol’ fashioned ballpoint pens. I know there’s erasable pens in the market, but I really enjoy those that you can’t erase. I like drawing a couple of lines and knowing that I can’t erase it. I either have to make it work or turn it into something else. I start out with a basic shape (which became a game at some of my workplaces. Yelling accross a room: “I need a shape!” “Square!” “Thanks!”), then just keep adding lines and shapes at random. The resulting doodle can be big, small, pretty, ugly, and usually confusing to anyone but me. I’ve lost the practice of it, and definitely need to get back to it and unwind.
What do you do to relax?