Dos Borreguitas Blog

The Bookshelf: Family Pictures / Cuadros de Familia December 19 2011

The themes in the stories we read are children are often universal, so even if it's about a little bunny wanting to run away from his doting mother, we can still see a little bit of ourselves in the characters. But once in a while you'll come across a book that is more than just something we can connect with. It's a direct reflection of your life, or your family's...

Chopsticks, Please December 06 2011

     We usually eat at home for lunch, but my stomach was rumbling when we were out and the child had it on repeat asking for chocolate cake, chocolate cake, chocolate cake -- an obsession since I bought one for my husband's birthday two weeks ago. She really just means frosting. Or frosting-like substances like Nutella. So we went to Whole Foods and I got her a chocolate cupcake,...

The Bookshelf: El Dia de los Muertos October 25 2011

Earlier this month I picked up a few children's books about Dia de los Muertos from the library. This one, El Dia de los Muertos by Ivar da Col, is in Spanish, and I love the illustrations. It breathes life into everything about Day of the Dead: papel picados, calaveras, pan dulce, cempasuchil, fruta, altares, cemeterios and more than anything else, celebration.

Dia de los Muertos T-Shirt October 21 2011

A few days ago I ran across these calavera iron-on appliques as I was cruising down the sewing/crafts section at Wal-mart. I was shocked, **shocked**, when I saw them just hanging there, completely out of place at this random Wal-mart in Maryland. I probably wouldn't have been surprised if I had been in South Texas or California, but in the DC beltway? I think visitors to my house think my...

Latinas Carrying on Without the Rebozo August 17 2011

When we traveled down to Nicaragua and Honduras last year when the toddler was 9 months we left our regular stroller at home and instead took the Bjorn baby carrier and another baby sling I got from Target. It was an easy decision to make -- all I had to do was imagine the route from my husband's grandmother's house to his aunts' and uncles' houses about two blocks away....

Google Autocomplete Fail: Why Do Mexicans ... August 05 2011

So I was about to do a search for "Why do Mexicans like burros?" as in pinatas and burrito sabanero, etc. etc. to research the post I was about to write -- and I know, that's probably not the best way I should've asked the question anyway, but I was thrown off track by the Google's suggestions for finishing my query of "Why do Mexicans ..." The responses are based...

A Very Vaquera 2nd Birthday July 11 2011

The toddler K loves horsies, can't get enough of them on the carousel at the National Mall, or the bouncing one she has in the living room, or seeing them in her picture books or pulling a princess' carriage. They're her favorite--except when they're real. Then they totally freak her stuff out. Literally, like she's clawing away at you to get her the hell away from them. But no matter,...

Princesa o Mariachi? June 04 2011

No little princess crowns in our house. If the toddler K wants something on her head, it's gonna be this big ole thing. Nothing says good Mexican like a mariachi sombrero.

Egging on the Fun with Cascarones for Easter March 27 2011

When I remember how we spent Easter as children, I remember that weeks beforehand, we'd make the trek by foot across the big international bridge that shoots over the muddy Rio Grande into Nuevo Laredo. It was less than a ten minute walk across, but as soon as we passed the Mexican authorities on the Mexican side of the bridge it was like a whole other world to me, full...

The Zumba Baby! February 09 2011

As we were flipping the channels a few weekends ago we came across a Zumba infomercial and the toddler was totally mesmerized for a second, and then like a good Latinita, she started bailando to the musica. Pretty good for an 18-month old, and she definitely puts her papa's skills to shame. Zumba, for the uninitiated, is "an exhilarating, effective, easy-to-follow, Latin-inspired, calorie-burning dance fitness-party that’s moving millions of people...

"Haciendo Piojitos" to Get Baby to Sleep February 02 2011

It all started two weeks ago when the toddler K woke up in the middle of the night crying. I usually just let her cry it out until she goes back to sleep on her own, but when she kept waking up every ten minutes and crying and crying and crying I decided to check in on her. As soon as I opened the door -- even before I turned...

The Ridiculousness of Telenovelas January 24 2011

My mother is a telenovela-watcher, and every weeknight line-up begins with what we call "El de la que era gorda y ahora es flaca," which translates to Llena de Amor. During the day she also keeps the television on in the background, and apparently the toddler K likes the little "teeny-bopper" (as my mom calls them) telenovelas that air at that time and dances to their music. Oh lordy, so...

How Apple TV Saved the Miserable Month of January January 18 2011

So it's mid-January already, thank Gawd. I am not a fan of January. I literally just brace myself, grit my teeth and push through it. I don't even want to focus on keeping New Year's resolutions -- I just want to close my eyes, plug my ears and lalalalalala my way through it. It's especially crappy now that we live in a place where there's a real winter and there...

Juan Dieguita Appears Before the Virgen de Guadalupe December 12 2010

We celebrated the Dia de la Virgen de Guadalupe -- the day that the blessed Virgen appeared to the peasant indigena Juan Diego in 1531 in Tepeyac, Mexico -- this weekend by going to a dedicated mass at the BIG CHURCH, the basilica here in DC. It was the toddler K's first cross-dressing experience as she went dressed as Juan Dieguito with a mini-peasant outfit. We dubbed her Juan Dieguita. I guess...

Amidst a Drug War: To Go Home for the Holidays? December 04 2010

Every year, my friend Alma's family , like so many other families, has faithfully made the trek down to their hometown in Mexico to spend the holidays with familia -- until this year, thanks to the violence of the rivaling drug cartels. Her take.

My good friend Alma and I didn't meet until college although we were born a few months apart at the same hospital – maybe even in the same hospital bed – in the border city of Laredo, Texas. Her family moved to Freeport, near Houston, when she was four months old and I grew up in a speck of a town not far from Laredo.  Every year, Alma's family , like so many other families, has faithfully made the trek down to their hometown in Mexico to spend the holidays with familia. A few weeks ago while we were doing a back-and-forth email to each other, Alma sent me this newspaper story about Ciudad Mier, a town close to the Texas-Mexico border where the fearful residents have fled en masse because of the violence and murders of the rivaling drug cartels. Her message said, "This town is between our house/town and the border. No signs of a Zetas and Gulf Cartel truce in the near future, most unfortunately for the hoards of people who go back home for the holidays."

For the first time, Alma and her parents and siblings are staying in Texas for the holidays. She said some of her extended family is still going, but they're leaving their cars at the border and taking the bus down. One of her aunts who lives in Mexico closed her tiendita because she couldn't pay the drug groups' extortion fees. She says she wishes the cartels would get on some boats and fight it out in the Gulf of Mexico and leave everyone else out of it.

I am heartbroken about the situation. I know how much these holiday trips to Mexico mean to Alma, and I asked if she wouldn't mind sharing her thoughts on the situation and what these sojourns were like as a kid. This is her take:

As children, visiting Mexico during the holidays meant we could roam free. This was the once-a-year where we’d see our cousins and the extended family, and where we’d play and romp around, buy candy by the pound, finish it that same day, and stay up late, sleep in late -- things that never happened in the States.

We were never certain whether Santa would leave our toys at our U.S. house or the Mexico house, but we knew we were getting something. I remember my grandmother telling me on a car ride to Monterrey that Santa lived in the mountains. Somehow, I never questioned it and the whole North Pole thing. Guessed he had a second house in Mexico like we did.

My family’s house is in General Treviño, population 1,400, and my dad’s hometown is Agualeguas, which is the next town over. It’s mostly ranchers and not very industrialized. Our “claim to fame” is that former Mexican president Carlos Salinas de Gortari has hometown roots there. He actually visited Agualeguas with President Bush Sr. and Barbara. One of my cousins played in the kids’ band that performed for them. And that’s the story of how the town got landing strip.

As we grew up, we formed friendships with the other children of family friends. Some lived “alla en el norte” – Chicago, Detroit, even Wisconsin and Washington. Others lived as close as Houston, but yet we’d spend more time together in Mexico than stateside.

Turning 15 meant we could now go to the bailes with our friends. All the big names in norteño music came to town during los dias de fiesta. On nights when there wasn’t a baile, or wedding or quinceañera – which was almost every night since everyone was back in town – we’d drive around the main drag with the girls in whichever car one of our parents let us borrow. We’d hit the taco stands at 1 a.m. and gossip until 2 a.m. as we sat on the banqueta in front of my second-cousins’ grandmother’s house, which was on the main drag – la calle principal –in Treviño. We’d chismear the night away shivering, until we called “uncle” and went to bed. Or her grandmother would tell us to be quiet because we were waking up the neighborhood with loud laughter.

On Christmas Eve the entire town smelled of tamales. The chimneys were all lit –  just about every house has one in the kitchen, from when houses were first built and they were used to cook – so the smell of mesquite filled the air. Christmas Eve was when we had the family gatherings and parties. My aunt used to have a huge party every year with a huge bonfire in her huge yard.

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For the last two weeks in December, the local carnicerias would drive up and down the streets around 7 a.m., with the windows rolled down and a megaphone sticking out the side, announcing the daily specials. First come, first served for the carne secachicarronesbarbacoamurcillachorizo, etc. All freshly made, ready to be scooped up.

Sometimes it was the town government that announced special events, like a big baile for Noche Buena o el Fin del Año, or a posada. And if the 7 a.m. “commercials” didn’t wake you, then the neighbors’ roosters did, because at least one house on every single block has chickens and a rooster in their backyard.

As kids, I remember my parents and siblings and I would plop into the car to go see the family. Family meant scores of great-aunts, great-uncles, first and second cousins, you name it. It was a full day affair, sometimes two days. We went from house to house, rancho to rancho.

Hay que ir a ver los viejitos, my parents would say. Seemed like a nuisance back then, because children were meant to be seen not heard. So we just sat around and watched the adults talk. Unless we were at a rancho and could go scare up the chickens.

As we became teenagers, we realized that a lot of gossip was had during these adult conversations. So not being heard wasn’t so bad anymore because you got quality chisme in exchange for it. Loss of innocence, I guess, knowing who was having affairs, who was sick, who was contesting a late relative’s will, who was not speaking because of a fight over property lines ...

Now, I appreciate those days and I miss them because a lot of the viejitos are no longer with us. And over the years the number of houses on the “must visit’ list has grown smaller and smaller. Most of the cousins my age have also moved to el norte or to Monterrey for work, and seeing them isn’t guaranteed. In a sense, I wish we could go back to those days that seemed so boring, if only to see them all again.

Now, the viejitos that are left feel a greater sense of loneliness with a greatly reduced number of relatives coming to see them. Today, the standard answer to “when are you coming?” so far has been “veremos, ojala puedamos ir.”

The other day I had lunch with two of my “Mexico” friends – the ones who live in Houston but we spend more time together in Mexico than here. Neither is going this year either. We sat there commiserating over the true loss of innocence of the town, because we’re not sure if our kids will ever be able to romp around town the way we did as kids and teenagers. We always assumed the slow pace of life would be around for our kids to enjoy as well. Always assumed we’d be able to trust in our neighbors and leave our doors unlocked at night as we waited for the kids to come home. We hold out hope that maybe one day it’ll be like the old days again.

Con Mi Burrito Sabanero Voy Camino de Belen December 01 2010

El Burrito de Belen is officially the toddler K's favorite Christmas song, and in particular she likes the Juanes version that's on the Superestrellas En Navidad album. She really shakes her hips to it. Si me ven, si me ven, voy camino de Belen Tuqui tuqui tuqui tuqui/ tuqui tuqui tuqui ta/ Apurate mi burrito/ que ya vamos a llegar! Okay, I like it too. I'm not so into the Christmas songs that...

Baby, It's Cold Outside! November 27 2010

No black Friday shopping for me yesterday. Instead, I took the toddler to play with a friend and have lunch, then we came home and put up the tree. With the husband recovering from surgery on his collar bone, I didn't even attempt to be all supermom and go out and buy a real tree, throw it up on top on the minivan and tie it down on my own....

Happy Sangivin! November 25 2010

There are basically three frames of mind that I live in. Negative. Sometimes, I'm gripey and whiney and complainey. I like hearing myself complain because its cathartic and it makes me feel better and clears my head. I actually really enjoy going to happy hour with other whiners because the conversation -- dripping with conflict -- is much more interesting. Sometimes, I back into my whining. I know that if...

Breathe, Because the Mad Holiday Rush is About to Begin November 15 2010

The full holiday rush is about to hit, so take a deep breath and enjoy the calm before the storm. (I have a really terrible cold and throat ache right now, so it actually is difficult for me to breathe, wah). Thanksgiving is next week, and I know this only because I keep seeing Facebook updates from responsible people who totally pre-plan a menu and shop ahead. If it wasn't...

So Lucky to Have Abuelos Around November 05 2010

I'm away from home again, this time at a conference for work that is fully across the country -- actually, in the O.C. (Orange County). I always miss my little one terribly when I have to travel for work, but I know I am so, so, so, so, so soooooooo fortunate to have my mother take care of my daughter while the husband and I work, or travel for work....

The Perfect Bag for Dia de los Muertos. And No, I am Not a Witch. November 02 2010

In the spirit of Dia de Los Muertos, I think I'll use this bag with calaveras that I bought in Los Angeles a few months ago. I bought it at the same time I got this other bag that I've used as a baby bag for a while now. This will not become a baby bag. This is mama bag. Not planning on doing much of anything this DDLM as...

Trucos o Caramelos, Otherwise Known as Tricotri!!! November 01 2010

Tricotri, otherwise known as trick-or-treat, was fun this year. Spent in Exorcist Reagan's 'hood of Georgetown. Scary!

British Woman Sees Mariachis, Exclaims: A Flamenco Band! October 25 2010

Downtown Madrid is bustling with tourists from across the globe and folks hustling to make a euro. The Plaza Mayor was full of Disney characters, Bob Esponjas, and this strange-looking cabra-peacock thing that is the stuff pesadillas are made out of. There are also lots of musicians -- including these mariachis we encountered at Puerta del Sol in the heart of Madrid. The toddler K started bouncing as soon as...

MADRID: We Found Every Playground and Park in the City, It Seems October 23 2010

We made it back home from Spain in one piece, and I've got to say, the toddler K did great. She's not a melt-down kind of child, and that's no thanks to anything we do. It's just her natural temperament. Yeah, we know we're lucky. I'm sure if there's a number two it will be all hell all the time. This was the first time we take a 'vacation, with...
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