Pacman makes a comeback

We went to Leon this past weekend for our nephew’s 5th birthday. He wanted a Pacman theme so his naturally creative mother threw all this together (she is the creative genius behind this piñata). If I ever have children, I plan to just shamelessly copy + paste all of her party themes and crafts.

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Us with two of our nieces and the birthday boy. Love the expression on his face.

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The time Charlie’s Angels visited Mexico City

Kennetta, Jess, and I took a trip to Mexico City…. I want to say it was 13 or 14 years ago..?

We stayed at a hostel somewhere in Zona Rosa for 100 pesos a night or something ridiculous like that. Once in a great long while (usually when I am moving house and should be busy packing but would rather procrastinate), I pull out old pictures from the shoe box they reside in and whenever I see these I laugh because I remember how the three of us were walking around Parque Chapultepec and one of the street vendors saw us and shouted after us, “Hey! It’s Charlie’s Angels!” To this day, I get a kick out of that. I can’t believe he is the only one who’s ever noticed my striking resemblance to Lucy Liu.

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Beautiful back yards

Matt and Brenda have a great yard. It is large and green and peaceful. IMG_1390IMG_1393IMG_1394IMG_1391Brenda is the Queen of Repurposing. She bought that Mary statue at an auction (which people fondly refer to as One-Armed Mary, though you can’t see her handicap very well from the angle of the shot) and then that dome you see covering her? That’s an old bathtub she found.

IMG_1392Isn’t it awesome? I love seeing what people do with their yards in Idaho. When I was up for Daria’s graduation in June, this is the sort of taxing thing you would have found me doing:

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Becky and I enjoying the yard and the 20 minutes of sun! (it was unseasonably chilly for June)

Adan and I talk about having a garden some day. For the moment, it is made up of one baby lime tree. When Adan brought it home and planted it, I joked that we would probably have college-bound children before it bore fruit.

Speaking of college-bound, I was in Idaho for Daria’s high school graduation, of course.

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her graduation party!

She is off starting college. Seems like just yesterday that she would sneak into my room in the basement in footie pajamas and steal all my chocolates. IQ9A5240 I am incredibly proud of her because she’s such an accomplished and intelligent young person. But more so because she is accepting of people’s differences and kind to others, which I think is more important. Can’t wait to see what trail she blazes for herself.

 

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.

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.

Guidebooks call it the quintessential Mexican town

We visited Guanajuato on Christmas day with some of Adan’s family. As the title suggests, most books call this charming little town a must-see spot. I have to say I agree, though I am not sure I would use the word quintessential to describe it. But who am I to argue with the Lonely Planet people?

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There are troubadors that give tours around town in the evenings. And petrified mummy corpses from the naturally ocurring minerals in the soil. Also, in the 1600’s huge quantities of silver were mined here and those old mines are now a Unesco World Heritage site. And it played a key role in Mexico’s war for independence. I don’t know, is that what makes for a quintessential Mexican town? We didn’t hit any of the abovementioned touristy attractions because we were more in the mood to meander and beause we had small children with us but just walking around the town is fun.

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University of Guanajuato, and I’m guessing the architect was ahead of the game and didn’t want to encourage obesity in the student and sightseeing populations.
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Adan with our adorable nieces. In case you can’t tell from the picture, all three of the subjects are total hams. I mean, just look at them.

 

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This Christmas season flew by and didn’t really feel very Christmassy, to be honest, mainly because we didn’t put up a tree and that completely threw off the Christmas feng shui. We had a good reason for not putting one up, though. We are buying a house and will be moving next month (insert fireworks and chessecake!)! It seemed like too much to ponder a big move and also putting up and taking down a tree. Especially when we are debating curtains and light fixtures and all the decisions that come with a house. Still, we are beyond thrilled and for the first time in my life I can happily browse at Home Depot for longer than two minutes. Buying a house is without a doubt the third major life event that has made me feel All Grown Up. Right after getting married and getting a Costco membership (in chronological order, of course, were we going by order of importance, the two would be flipped).

Also, for another Christmas miracle: Becky’s baby was born and it’s a boy! Grayson Beau. He is just perfect.20161214_120910-1And on that very happy note, the curtain drops on 2016.

A perfect fall day in Chicago

In case you were wondering, this is what a perfect fall day in Chicago looks like:

20161112_160440Adan and I were up there last weekend and we had unbelievable weather considering that it was mid-November. We spent the entire day walking around the city, we could not get enough of the views.

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The architectural boat tour. Yes, just like in the movie My Best Friend’s Wedding. Yes, it was freezing to be on the water, even on the mildest of November days. Yes, totally worth it.

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Our amazing tour guide and even more amazing friend, Marisa.

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there were quite a few couples getting their wedding pictures taken. can’t imagine a more gorgeous backdrop.

The city is in a state of euphoric jubilation because apparently this happened not too long ago, after a rather long dry spell:

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We kept seeing homages to their victory:20161112_142829

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We were the walking definition of tourists. Witness Exhibit A: the Bean. Believe me, it does not get any more touristy than this. I’m pretty sure there wasn’t a local Chicagoan to be found within a five mile radius.

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Exhibit B: stopping foot traffic in all sorts of inconvenient places to take pictures. (Not pictured, the multitudes having to dodge around us as we posed for this shot)

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Exhibit C: eating all of the typical Chicago foods.

This was Adan´s favorite thing about Chicago, their hot dogs.
This was Adan’s favorite thing about Chicago, their hot dogs.
This was mine, Korean burritos.
This was mine, Korean burritos.

(We, of course, also ate and loved deep dish pizza. We are not stupid.)

Exhibit D: riding the L to get downtown from Marisa’s house:

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Look at us, we’re dying of excitement to be riding public transportation in Chicago!!

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The perfect fall day was followed by perfect fall night in Chicago:

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As if all this were not enough my-cup-runneth-over, I also had a few days with my friend Jess:

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This is me with her two older kids, Colby and Reagan. We took them to see the movie Trolls, which they both highly recommend you watch.

Not pictured (because it was way past her bedtime) is her youngest, Gracie, who is two years old and has the vocabulary and verbal skills of a trial lawyer (not even joking), the face of a baby panda (is there anything cuter than a baby panda? This is not a rhetorical question, I really do want to know.) and the energy of the Energizer bunny (would probably leave him behind in the dust). I had the best time hanging out with them.