Dos Borreguitas Blog

¡Mucha Lucha! December 27 2010

I saw these ¡Mucha Lucha! plush dolls last week in downtown Laredo at a toy store called BB Toys -- written in the same font as Toys 'R Us. Yeah, so I was thinking ooh, **deal** if it's a rip off store. It was two days before Christmas, crazy crowded and a madhouse in there -- probably because a lot of shoppers just aren't crossing the border nowadays because of...

Why Do Mexicans Always Have Tamales At Christmas? December 26 2010

So they have something to unwrap :) It's a joke, but we sure did have ourselves a lot of tamales today. And they were delish, and indeed, best thing I unwrapped all week. Feliz Navidad a todos!

Dolls I Won't Be Buying December 24 2010

Saw these dolls while out shopping earlier this week. Looks like they came straight off the street corner. Seriously, that mangy fur coat and dress that's barely past her vajeen. Dios mio. And I'm not even conservative. In the Christmas spirit, it's ho ho ho all the way!

At Home Remembering What I Had Forgotten December 22 2010

Spending Christmas at home, or my "home" in South Texas reminds me of the details that I love and loathe about this place. *** Stickers -- cadillos -- are everywhere. Como una vieja chismosa metido en todo. Get on your shoelaces. In the carpet. In the car. In the towel I am drying myself off with. In the toddler's pamper, what the? I thought cadillos were a fact of life...

Matisyahu: Do You Believe in Miracles? December 16 2010

I've had this fantastic, soul-filling song playing in my head for the past week. It's my new favorite holiday song, and I say holiday because it's not a Christmas song -- it's a pop song about Hanukkah. It's by Matisyahu, a Hassidic reggae artist from Brooklyn. He wrote this really great essay on NPR -- and is interviewed in the accompanying radio piece on All Songs Considered -- about the...

The Bookshelf: Spanish Board Books We're Reading (17 months) December 15 2010

Our nightly reading to the toddler usually begins with Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See?. No offense to Brown Bear, he's wonderful and all, but I really do want to try to do as much reading as I can to the toddler in Spanish. So after revving up in English, everything else I read is in Spanish. Problem is, it's slim pickings for Spanish books here in the U.S....

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...

Dear Santa -- Bring Batteries For All Those Comatose Toys Lying Around December 07 2010

I'm thinking of sending the Big Man in the Red Suit this letter: Yo, Santa: I would like several boxes of batteries for Christmas for all those comatose toys we have lying around. See, the husband loves to buy toys for the toddler that use batteries to dance, sing, light up or do general foolishness. It's probably a guy thing. I try to avoid them as much as possible because...

The Bouncy, Inflatable Burro December 05 2010

  My Mexican eyes deceived me today. When I first saw this inflatable, bouncy horse (and I am just realizing its a horse as I Google it), I totally thought it was a cute little burro. It does look like a burrito, right, with its short legs and big ears? Hello! I'm not the only one that sees burro pinata, right? See the resemblance: This little inflatable burro belonged to the...

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...

The Year the Grinch Stole Our Christmas. And the Day the Kid Stole My Purse. November 29 2010

I was sitting at the bus stop outside the Metro tonight, the last leg on my daily commute home from work, when I started with the flashbacks. The first was of something that happened two years ago. I was six months pregnant at the time, and it was dark and cold outside as I waited for my husband to pick me up from this same spot. I was tired, so...

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...

Great Bilingual and Spanish Children's Gifts From Etsy November 23 2010

Just a few days before the holiday shopping hell fun begins. Joy! Actually, I like shopping, but I usually do better online or in focused stores (Sephora) or boutiques. I feel totally overwhelmed every time I step into catch-all stores like Target or Wal-mart, or even Macy's or Marshalls, because I feel pressure to get through every department and not linger too long in any one. OMG, and Ikea --...

Latinas Kicking Asphault! November 21 2010

I have to give props to my fellow Latinas -- some who are also mamas -- who have done the full and half-marathons in the past few months. I've seen quite a few friends and acquaintances tell of their successes kicking asphault via Facebook, and it makes me totally happy to see it. I really didn't have high expectations for running the Philadelphia half-marathon this Sunday other than to finish...

Running in Philly: I See Slow People (Me!) November 20 2010

I remember seeing "I See Slow People" on the back of an older man's shirt while running a ten mile race last spring, and it made me chuckle. It was my first real race, and at that point, I looked around and realized that I was definitely a back-of-the-packer. And it was okay, because as far as I was concerned it's this group that wears the shirts with the most...

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...

Ya Me Canse De La Cocina November 12 2010

Not that I do that much cooking anyway -- just whatever I can throw together after work with minimal prep. But this is definitely going to be a take-out or eat out weekend. I'm tired, and I need to hit up the grocery store. With the toddler we don't even bother to go to nice restaurants anymore. We stick to Baja Fresh, Qdoba and Chipotle, mostly. Better known as, Bueno...

Does this Baby Sling Make Me Look Fat? November 10 2010

The Wall Street Journal has an interesting essay and blog post that came out this past weekend on the Madness of Modern Motherhood -- a critical view of the phenomenon of mothers who spend every moment attached to their child.  They breastfeed, sleep with them, wear them in slings, cover their tushes in cloth diapers, make homemade baby food and totally attune their own schedules to fit baby's needs. This is...

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!

Mimi La Gusanita Dice: Mueve el Culito! October 29 2010

Mimi la Pequena Gusanita tells your child: Mueve tu Culito!
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