Happy Birthday, Shannon!

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This is my friend Shannon with her two youngest, Tabitha and Scotland. She makes the best nachos on the planet. Also, she makes cute babies. I mean, just look at all that adorableness in those sweet faces. (I purposefully didn’t post a picture of all four of her children because I thought that might just be too much cuteness in one post and if you haven’t built up a cuteness tolerance it might give you the ultimate cuteness hangover tomorrow morning.) She introduced me to the game Monopoly Deal, which Adan and I are addicted to. And though she and her husband also love to play games and amicably talk trash while they do so (it’s a family rule that you have to say things like, “You’re going to get served a big helping of humble pie!” while playing games), I have never heard her say a single mean thing about another person in real life. She gets sarcasm. She is a great hostess. Not in the Martha Stewart-candles-and-table-settings-fine-china kind of way, but in a making-everyone-comfortable-and-welcome kind of way, opening up her life as it is. I remember when her eldest Adara was born, friends from church would drop off meals and she would often just put out extra silverware and invite said friends to stay and enjoy the meal with them. Isn’t that awesome? She is never “too busy” to help out or make time for you when you are going through a hard time. I hope to be like her when I grow up. Happy birthday, sweet friend!

 

The day the romance died

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Back when I was single I remember talking to a friend who had been married over 25 years and she said that there comes a time when you just give each other utilitarian rather than romantic anniversary presents because you just run out of ideas. It seemed sad to me at the time to think that the romance would eventually die in a marriage (which that is not what she meant but I took her point a tad melodramatically as I am apt to do). I didn’t ask her what year that happened to them, at what point she started buying her husband new legal pads or whatever. I’m guessing that it’s probably different for each couple. In our case, year three was the year we went from romantic to pragmatic. We decided to buy a new shower curtain for our anniversary and boy, was I ever wrong. Getting utilitarian gifts is awesome! I have derived much more pleasure from a new shower curtain than I would have from expensive chocolates or new earrings. Maybe for Adan’s birthday, I will buy him a humidifier.

Ways in which my life has changed in the past three years

 

For our third anniversary, Adan and I had booked a beach getaway to Barra de Navidad. It’s a bit further out than Vallarta and much less touristy, which can be both a good thing and a bad thing. We loved that it was more peaceful and low-key. The bad part? We found restaurants to be just as expensive as Vallarta but not as good. And as a general rule of thumb, we realized that the more breathtaking the view, the less tolerable the food tended to be.IMG_1404Like this place? Gorgeous view, but the shrimp was just so-so. It reminded me of that stereotype of how really pretty girls tend to not be funny or smart or have a good personality because they just never needed to develop those characteristics. (I for one think this is a wildly inaccurate stereotype. Either that or I just happen to know a lot of outliers). I guess these restaurant owners must think that if you have a lovely view, no one will notice the food.

I mean, I guess there is some merit to that. Look at those views! (Here I refer to both the ocean and the handsome man 🙂

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20170714_110732Went through a bit of a Goldilocks conundrum with my vacation reading… first picking up Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, which was riveting but also highly depressing (explosion at a museum, death, PTSD, murder, substance abuse, orphaned protagonist, etc., etc.,) then Ellen DeGeneres’s Seriously… I’m Kidding, which was too fluffy and insubstantial. Finding the “just right” book to read by the pool can be a challenge. (Big Little Lies strikes that perfect balance of engrossing and funny.)20170715_125826It’s been a bit of a bah humbug sort of month. Just… I don’t know… doubting and anxiety and emotional exhaustion. I don’t often daydream about what could have been or think about how my life might have turned out differently had this or that not been the case, but lately I find myself mulling it over which I know is not healthy or productive. It seems cathartic at the very least to admit to the fact that I’m struggling with it.

Still, there are things in my life that are constant and wonderful sources of comfort. Like thinking that I have been lucky enough to be married to this guy for three years.

20170714_105642My friend Shannon always says, “Marriage rocks!” and I have to say I agree with her. One of the best things about marriage is that by some implicit arrangement you almost never are freaking out at the same time to the same degree. Usually, if one of you is losing it (in this case, me), the other person is calm. And then, once the first person finds their bearings, only then is it okay for the second person to get bogged down in self-doubt and anxiety (okay, again, usually me). In short, no matter what the crisis, you have someone there holding your hand and talking you off the ledge.

Another great thing about marriage is that I can now watch crime/detective shows at night. Once, when we had been married less than a year, Adan was away at an overnight men’s retreat and I watched a few episodes of Elementary and I was wide awake all night, thinking that I would be murdered the moment I closed my eyes. This used to happen to me when I was single even if I happened to just watch the trailer for a scary movie.

Also, (though I admit this is true specifically in the context of being married to Adan and not a truism about marriage in general) no matter what you put in front of the man for dinner, he is going to think it’s the best meal he’s ever had. He eats with enthusiasm and is always impressed by how “fancy” the meal is, how I must have slaved over it (even if it’s something I made in the crock pot, which let’s face it, the only thing easier than a crock pot meal is ordering a pizza), impressed as if you’d just sawed a person in half and then put them back together in front of a live audience. He’s too funny.

And lastly, being married to him is a treat because he almost always is the one to apologize first after a fight. I mean, I guess technically this might make him the “bigger person” but I like to think that there’s value in being the one to offer him opportunities for growth.

Full of hot air

We went to a hot air balloon festival this weekend, the first ever in Cajititlan, right near where we live.

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Adan has been to a similar and much larger festival in Leon many times, and once he got to go up in the balloon. I, however, had never been so close to one let alone 45 different ones before.

There were some really fun, creative ones, like this one from Brazil of the ocean:

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Or this one of a bear and an elephant hugging, somehow it was supposed to be promoting world peace and can’t you kind of see why? I mean, don’t you just feel an overabundance of goodwill towards the world right now looking at this picture?
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Adorable blue chicken
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Sponge Bob was there.

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We went with our friends Oliver and Ninette and their kids Renata and Mateo. I have to say the only downside of a hot air balloon festival is that if you have ever read and understood the second law of thermodynamics, you know that they can only fly when the air temperature is cold. Unfortunaly, in Mexico, it’s usually 90 degrees by 9:00 AM so that requires this to be an early morning activity, as in, 6:30. For Adan and I, it wasn’t too big of a sacrifice as we live ten minutes away but our friends had to leave their house at 5:30 to make it on time. They’re troopers, and we want to be just like them when we grow up.

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It was totally worth it.

P.S. The second law of thermodynamics has nothing to do with hot air balloons. It actually has to do with the temperature at which eggs cook.

P.P.S. My friend Jess had her fourth baby, Ezekiel Scott. He is one hansome baby with his adoring older siblings there. She is one happy mama. And I am one totally proud and ecstatic auntie. Proud and ecstatic and in total AWE of my friend Jess, who is a champ.

Fascism explained

Some of our recent adventures in Chapala and Ajijic.

 

(That’s a German restaurant we really like and I admit, at first we were skeptical because I couldn’t name a single German dish outside of saurkraut and bratwurst so I thought maybe that is all they eat there. But we’ve now become very big fans, and we really love their veggie to meat ratio: 20 to 80)

As you can see there’s no unhappy people around.

In fact, I’m pretty sure there’s no sad or irate or despondent people in Chapala at all. I can only imagine two ways in which this might be accomplished: 1) there’s secret checkpoints when you enter the town with happiness security men who keep out the people that are despairing. Or 2) you come to Chapala all bummed out but then ten minutes in this town cheers you up and your glass is now all full of happiness elixir. Either way, people there are happy.

I do have to point out one small detail that didn’t make me jump up and down in joy. We love going to the hotel pictured above. It has a pool with the best view of the lake. It used to be that you could bring your own food and drinks and sit all day by the pool. You are now no longer allowed to bring food and drinks from the outside world though, which hit us hard because we are cheapskates (I mean, frugal). Let me just say that it is totally fascist to not allow people to bring their own potato chips and sandwiches. It would be like not being allowed to bring our own soda to the movie theater (which admittedly is not allowed but we sometimes do when my purse is large enough). Being the rebels that we are, we did manage to sneak snacks in anyway. And let me just say, there is a certain level of ingenuity involved in bringing in contraband peanuts when you are carrying a transparent beach tote.

I have been reading the ever hilarious Mark Twain. I think he must have been the first standup comedian because he clearly had a heart of gold (I mean, he’s dead so I can’t speak ill of him) but his humor is at times… mean? Biting? Sarcastic? Not sure what the correct adjective would be… let’s just say he’s not very politically correct. I’m not sure if he does it on purpose but quite often while being flippant and humorous, he will catch you completely off guard with some sort of truly profound observation about life. Like:

“Many a man lives a long life through, thinking he believes certain universally received and well-established things, and yet never suspects that if he were confronted by those things once, he would discover that he did not really believe them before, but only thought he believed them.”

Here he was speaking about snow in August. But I think it succinctly describes every real encuonter I have had with Jesus.

And then there’s:

“Moralizing, I observed, then, that “all that glitters is not gold.”

Mr. Ballou said I could go further than that, and lay it up among my treasures of knowledge, that nothing that glitters is gold. So I learned then, once and for all, that gold in its native state is but dull, unornamental stuff, and that only lowborn metals excite the admiration of the ignorant with an ostentatious glitter. However, like the rest of the world, I still go on underrating men of gold and glorifying men of mica. Commonplace human nature cannot rise above that.”

I’m still struggling with that one myself.

The Eagle has landed!

You know how studies have shown that remodeling your home is significantly more stressful than just having a swarm of soccer hooligans come over and completely trash it? (Yes, the scientific term for when there is more than five hooligans is swarm). After unspeakable mess and not having a functioning sink for four days, what do we have to show for it? A finished kitchen. Voila!

Before:

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Now, I can relate to new parents who bring their babies home from the hospital and just can’t stop staring. If you know me even a little, you know that I don’t do well in a cluttered environment. Adan and I used to love watching the show Monk and I think he mainly found it endearing that he thought the main character to be a slightly exaggerated version of his wife. Needless to say, I’m thrilled that each week, there is a little more order to our home. We couldn’t be happier with our kitchen. Really, we tried but it is just not possible.

In other breaking news, we saw the movie Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them and were pleasantly surprised. I do have one caveat, though. I know the movie came out a million years ago but if you haven’t yet and are considering letting your kids watch it, I should warn you that it’s pretty scary and probably not appropriate for children under the age of 25.

There is this one bit of dialogue that I especially liked:

Newt Scamander: Now, there’s absolutely nothing for you to worry about.

Jacob Kowalski: Tell me, has anyone ever believed you when you told them not to worry?

Newt Scamander: Well, my philosophy is that worrying means you suffer twice.

I can relate because I tend to be in the camp that loves to suffer twice. Case in point, when I think about having kids, the very first thing that comes to mind is worry over what will happen if they can’t find a job in their field when they graduate from University. It takes a lot of calisthenics to work up to this level of finely tuned worry so don’t feel bad if you haven’t taken the time to worry about your as-of-yet-unborn children’s post-graduate careers.

Where was I? The movie was written by the ever so talented J.K. Rowling and though it takes place in the same world as Harry Potter, you don’t necessarily have to have read or watched the series to understand. (It does, I think, give you a deeper appreciation for the details if you have, though, and certain parts will seem funnier for it). Adan hated the movies and never read the books but was still entertained by Fantastic Beasts.

J.K. Rowling is, of course, full of these little gems in her dialogue. You know what I mean… wisdom wrapped in humor, ensconced in truth, with an outer shell of something so obvious that you marvel that you hadn’t thought of it yourself. I leave you with this example, my favorite Dumbledore-ism from the HP series: It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.

It’s pronounced A-Hee-HEEC

From a recent date night in Ajijic.

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This town is just oozing with charm (does that make it sound too much like a festering sore?). I mean, just look at that mural of the dancing and serenading chickens. Isn’t that the funniest thing you’ve seen since Trump was elected? Also, it’s pretty much a full-time job trying out all the fun, local, independently-ownded restaurants. Our current favorite is Gossip’s Kitchen (presumably because the kitchen is right in the middle of the restaurant) where I had possibly the best jambalaya I’ve had outside of Louisiana (full disclosure: I’ve never actually been to Louisiana but you know, eating there is a life long dream…right up there with eating in Singapore. Full, full disclosure: I have only ever had jambalaya on maybe two other occasions in my life so maybe my range of comparison is somewhat limited.)

As I may have mentioned, we have moved to a pretty rural area. I mean, people don’t churn their own butter or anything but there are free-range cows walking about. To be perfectly honest, we have had a few panic-stricken moments of buyer’s remorse since we moved out there but for the most part, we’ve been loving the slower pace of life and Adan’s significantly reduced commute time. And we are making steady progress on the house. We don’t have light fixtures yet but our kitchen cabinets are getting installed this week, which is the most exciting thing to happen to me since the fifth Harry Potter book came out (that one, I remember, was a particularly hard wait because a) such a cliffhanger and b) it seemed to take longer than the other ones.)

Some of you have expressed concern over our internet situation. Yes, thank you for your prayers. We are currently living without Netflix and, I won’t lie, it is as hard as you would imagine it to be. And then some. Netflix withdrawal is a very real and painful condition.

This was a long weekend for us here in Mexico so Adan made chilaquiles this morning and simultaneously won himself Best Husband and Best Chilaquiles Ever Award. So I guess that is a testament that life can and does go on in the post-Apocalyptic, post-Netflix world that we are residing in.