Apr 30, 2011


We were warned from the very beginning not to drink the water here.  We are not to use it to brush our teeth, and we are not even to use our dishes unless they are dry.  

But - the habit of sticking your toothbrush under the tap and brushing was just too much for me to break.  I'd always remember after I'd had the toothbrush in my mouth, or better yet, as I was putting it away.

Well, my habit has come back to bite me.  I was sick last night.  Violently, horrendously sick.  I don't want to disgust you with details, but let's just say that both ends were going so strongly that my body still aches from it today.  

I hurt.  My stomach feels like I've been punched by Mike Tyson, my aching back and arms feel like I've been through boot camp.

So, a little word of advice from your dear friend Hethr:  When in Mexico remember to use the bottled water for anything that will eventually go into your mouth.

Pray for me friends.  I don't know if I'll survive another night like the last one.

Getting lost

A few days ago I was sent with a smaller group of other students to the orphanage to play with the girls and bring some of the donations down to them.  We arrived in a cab, spent a fun few hours playing with them, and then decided we'd walk home to see San Miguel de Allende on the way back.  It was only about a 10 minute cab ride there, so we thought it wouldn't be so hard.  Our teacher even said, "If you get lost, just keep the Parish of San Miguel in your sites because our hotel isn't far from there."

This is our group - very, very lost
Ha, easier said than done.  We found dead end after dead end.  Within the down town area, all the street names are written on the sides of the buildings, this was not the case out there.  We had no idea where we were and our limited Spanish was quite the amusement for the locals that we asked for directions.

We turned one corner and found a little store - bought some pop and tried to ask them how to get back to our street, we just got shrugs.

We walked for about 20 minutes, found a gaggle of children hanging out on their front step and asked them, they laughed and laughed....we asked them where the parish was and got these stares of "you've got to be kidding me" -- they pointed down the street and after two steps, we saw the parish - very far away, but so very obvious that we now understood why we got the looks we did.

We met a man on the side of a street and asked him where we were on our map.  He motioned to us that he didn't have his glasses, so one of my classmates, Gail, pops hers off her head and gave them to him.  He still couldn't find where we were.

Suddenly, I realized that I was missing my camera.  A surge of panic washed over me as I remembered last having it at the place where we bought our now empty pops.  We were torn - do we turn back and try to find it after all those twists and turns, or do we just give it up as a lost cause...that's when I looked at another student, Linda, who had my camera slung over her arm...she even forgot she had it too!  So the hunt to get home was back on.

We knew we were getting close when we went from dirt roads to a new, nicely paved one.  Still nothing looked familiar.  We walked for another 10 minutes or so.  We saw two men holding an adorable little baby on the side of the street chatting away to one another.  We walked up to them, holding out our map and asked, "Donde??"  One of the man looks up and says, "You lost?"  Oh, how sweet it was to hear English!!  He tried to find where we were on the map, told us our map was too old and then said, "You're only about a 10 minute walk from where you want to go....if you know what you're doing."

Right.  We had no idea what we were doing!!  He told us to stay on this road and eventually a cab would come.  He was right.  We all piled into the back of the cab - we were rescued by Alfredo.  With all 5 of us in his car, we made it bottom out on every speed bump (of which there are MANY).  He charged us an extra 10 pesos, but we made it home.

What an adventure!  It ended up taking us more than 45 minutes to get home...but I wouldn't trade in that experience for the world!

Apr 29, 2011

Funny things can happen while in Mexico

Well, I just finished a little mini journal on one of the other places that we visited...but I would be remiss if I didn't recount some of the more ... uh ... interesting experiences that I've had while here.

The first day we went out to visit with the orphans.  4 of the Madres there were having birthdays within a month's time, so we brought a cake and had a little celebration for them....they also had a celebration for us and had made us some lunch (chicken and rice) ... there were little bowls of salsa (ooooh, fresh salsa!) and some other little bowls of roasted peppers.

Our Seafood Surprise
Well, someone asked why no one was eating the peppers.  So, I cut off a piece.  These peppers didn't look any different than the pickled peppers that I used to eat in Saudi...except that they were roasted.  So, I cut off a piece about 1/2 inch thick and a good silver dollar round.  Then, I popped it into my mouth, chewed it up and swallowed it.  "That's not so bad." I said.  Then, a burning inferno came up from the depths of my stomach...it crawled it's way up my throat and set fire to my mouth.  I've eaten (and enjoyed) spicy food before, but this was beyond anything I've ever had.  I could feel the heat radiating through my body...it made me sweat and my face was red for a good 1/2 hour afterwards.  We laughed about it, and I thought it was done.  BUT...then we went walking that evening...even 4 hours after, just the motion of trucking it up the hills here was enough to slosh around the pepper juice in my stomach and I could feel the burn start again.  lol

Then, yesterday my instructor told us about how great this little seafood place was.  "They have this thing that has avocado, some cilantro, some shrimp and clamato juice over it all"  sounded great.  So, away we went. She orders one (grande) and the waitress says, "Mixas??" and Toni says, "When in doubt, say ci!" so...we did.

What we didn't know was that "mixas" meant that your lovely shrimp dish was mixed with octopus, clams and something that looked like leftovers from an anatomy class.  It was a horrifying concoction that came to us!  I tried, I honestly tried to eat it....but even after trying to dig out just the prawns, I couldn't do it.

What an experience!!

Apr 26, 2011

Reflections on Day One

Wow. There are not a whole lot of words for what I experienced today. What an amazing place this is; it is visually stunning.Your senses are overwhelmed by the majestic beauty of it all. I woke up this morning to the chirping of birds and the babble of water outside my window. I sat on the patio, alone, as the world woke up around me. The streets began to come alive with cars going to and fro...a dog barked...a cat stretched lazily and curled up in a pool of light from the breaking dawn. I was inhaling peace with every breath.

Eventually, the casita owner and the rest of the students woke up – we were served breakfast (so good!) and given an overview of our day. We were to be given a presentation at 10am, and then out to the orphanage by noon. It didn’t seem like too much, and I now understand why.

The morning’s presentation was given by Dianne Hart of Feed the Hungry – this place does SO much more than simply feeding the hungry. They have invested into the schools by building kitchens so that the students can have meals. Then, they needed to hire cooks to make those meals, and they 2 women from each municipality to hold the positions. On top of feeding the hungry, they also educate parents and communities about healthy eating, preventing malnutrition and teaching them how to grow community gardens so that they can plant and grow their own fresh vegetables.

They’ve also expanded and have started a scholarship program where they pay for the children to continue their education. In places where most children didn’t go to school past grade 6, they now have them in grade 10. The students have goals and ambitions now (architects, dentists, nurses, chefs) and they have hope. Hope is the most promising thing.

Her presentation was moving and stirred my soul. Please consider donating to their cause (you can choose if you’d like your money to go towards the educational or the nutritional aspects).

We had a bit of a break and then when right to Casa Hagar Santa Julia – oh my gosh...this place literally moved me to tears. The Madres have taken in these girls, most of whom are not orphaned, but abandoned. Some are removed from their homes due to violence (physical or sexual)....their stories are just horrifying. However, the Madres don’t want you to focus on the girls’ past; instead they want us to look towards the future – what can these girls be? Why were they chosen to be here? How can we help them to become strong, proud women?

We got a simple tour of the centre – it’s beautiful. The girls are learning self-sustaining life techniques such as cooking, sewing, jewellery making and more. They are all quite self sufficient and polite. I was amazed at how “together” they are. The older ones looking out for the younger, the younger ones polite and well-behaved. They were thrilled that we were there (they are so starving for motherly attention) and it was just an amazing thing to sit back and watch. They served us lunch (delicious) I ate a roasted chilli pepper (not the best idea!) and then we had a birthday “party” for the Madres (4 birthdays within a month!) – it was fun, it was heart warming, and it was so memorable.

When we left, Robin (a volunteer there who is essentially the translator for us all) told us, “You are all in our hearts, you are a part of our family.”

I sobbed. I tear up just recalling this now.

Today was a day that I will not forget any time soon.

Apr 22, 2011

10 years ago today...

Take another walk with me down memory lane.  10 years ago today, I was 42 weeks pregnant...yes, forty-two.  I was as big as a house and slightly depressed that I could no longer wear any maternity clothes other than a pajama -- which was made of polyester.  That wouldn't have been so bad except for the fact that I was living in Saudi Arabia and the temp on that lovely day was around 35*C (or for my American friends, 93*F).  I was large, I was hot, and I was swollen.

However, I had a doctor's appointment that morning.  The previous 2 weeks I'd gone I was told "You're 3 cm dilated, you'll have that baby any day now!"  I'd stopped believing my doctor and her enthusiasm.  This time, I walked in and her face dropped, "You're still pregnant?!  Get out of here, go to the hospital, it's not safe anymore!"

So, merry me, I took along my hospital admittance papers and we drove to the hospital.  I walk in, all cheerful and happy and "yay we're having a baby" only to be stopped by a nasty old doctor who just dripped evil.  "I don't care if you're 50 weeks pregnant," she cackled, "you're healthy, the baby's healthy, go home!"  Then she got on her broom and flew away.  Well, not really, but that's essentially what I imagined.  :(

I softly cried to myself and began to waddle my way out of there, leaning on Mr. Delusional and trying to keep my wits about me.  And then a nurse came up behind me and said, "Dr. McWitch is off duty at 5, why don't you come back at 530?" and I heard the angels sing.

So we went home.  We were in the midst of moving from a 2 bedroom to a three (literally across the hall from one another, it was the kind of thing where you pick up a piece of furniture and move it to where you want it in the other apartment...no boxes or packing or any of that hogwash, so I moved some stuff around, Mr. Delusional got the bed put together and I took a nice, long nap.  Later on, we had some supper and then drove back to the hospital.  Dr. McWitch was gone and a new doctor was there.  She smiled and said "Of course we can take you.  There are a lot of women who are laboring right now, so you can just rest in your room until it's less busy."  I loved her.

I got to my room, read a little bit...painted my toenails....read some more...then they delivered a supper to me...it was 7pm.  They gave me a full chicken breast, mashed potatoes, gravy, a cup of tea and a small can of pop.  I inhaled it all.

Finally, around 1030 they were ready for me.  They wheeled me upstairs, we argued about how to induce (I wanted them to break my water...they said it was dangerous, etc, etc.  I eventually got my way).  Shortly after 11, they broke my water...the doctor tutting all the while.  I had instantaneous and very strong contractions.  The doctors and nurses decided to have a tea, because I was going to be "a while" before I delivered.

Around 1130, I told Mr. Delusional that I had to push. He pushed the call button.  The nurse came in with her tea cup in hand and said, "Oh, you're not ready to push yet, Mama, but I'll check you..." and she proceeded to lift up the sheet covering my legs....at which point here eyes popped and her tea cup dropped and she shouted, "Doctor!!  She's crowning!!"

At 1135, my beautiful baby girl was born.  Very white, very chubby (those extra 2 weeks in utero really showed) and very, very hungry.

Happy 10th Birthday to my beautiful Iman.  Love you forever!

Apr 21, 2011


So, a while back I was contacted by Agoo Apparel Inc about a review opportunity for some Agoo leggings.  I said sure, and here is my honest and fair review:

The package came in early March, simply wrapped up in grey shipping type plastic.  Inside was a pair of the Agoo Bamboo Leggings - bright green with little lizards all over them.  I couldn't have been more excited to get a "boyish" pair!  They are super soft and were way beyond my expectations.  I've used other leggings before, but they just can't compare to the Agoos!

Let me just do a quick review of leggings in general, and then why I like the Agoo so much.  Leggings are fantastic things for little babies - especially those that like to crawl around in a diaper and T-shirt (like my Adam used to) - and the thing is, his legs were always cold. After chatting with some friends about this, I discovered little leggings that he could wear.  They're great - they keep their legs covered enough to be warm, but (apparently) aren't bothersome to little dudes.  They're great under shorts/skirts especially on spring fall days.

I thought that leggings were only good for babies, but I soon discovered that my older kids were snagging them to wear on their arms (for the same reasons as you put them on the babies!)   They'd head to school on a spring day -- too warm for a jacket, but still a bit too chilly in the morning to wear just a shirt.  They'd mix and match the leggings that I have and were the talk of the school.  Everyone wanted them.

The Agoo Leggings, however, are even better - I cannot describe how soft they are.  They have been through the wash many times and have not faded or shrunk (a major reason it took me 6 weeks to review - I wanted to put them through the ringer!)  They are fantastic.  They are also bigger than the other brands that I have.  This means that they fit Adam's 3 yr old legs/arms and come up to mid-bicep on my older kids (as opposed to the other brands which barely made it over their elbow) -- those extra two inches are fantastic!  I also noticed that the elastic isn't as tight...some of the other ones that I had would leave some harsh red marks on Adam's chubby thighs, and though he's no longer a baby with chubby thighs, I don't think the Agoos would have left any mark on him.

All in all, they are a fantastic product - very happy with them -- especially right now - they are great chickenpox-on-the-arm covers!  My little man is stylin without itching!

Apr 19, 2011

What Next?

So, as if my life hasn't been stressful enough lately - with my last class forcing me to look within myself to places I'm not really comfortable going and then talking about it in a public forum (sort of -- it was for all my classmates to read).  Then the cost of this Mexico Practicum just keeps skyrocketing (passport fees, immunizations, travel insurance, etc) I hadn't really planned on these additional expenses....Then, to top off the list of monetary woes, my bursary for school ended...2 weeks before the new course was up to be paid.  :(  Ahh...such is life.

Then there are the issues around the house - the leaky sink (now fixed) and the broken dishwasher (still broken) which means that I'm still doing dishes by hand.  This breaks my heart....and wears away my skin.  No kidding here folks.  Check it out -- those are the fingers of Yours Truly, and the skin is literally sloughing off.  It's a very unpleasant feeling.  I tried doing a home hand treatment that I have called Instant Manicure, when that didn't work I tried another one that I'd forgotten I'd bought but discovered way back in my drawer BeautiControl Paraffin Treatment (no, this isn't a Beauticontrol ad, I swear!) Anyhow - that one worked a bit, but it's still bugging me.  If you have suggestions on how to fix this, please let me know (it's only on my hand that holds the sponge...weird huh?)

So, as if all of this wasn't enough, on Friday, Isaac started complaining about his sore throat - again.  This is the eighth time he's had tonsil issues in the last year.  It's frustrating...I tried putting it off, hoping against hope that it would go away - it didn't.  Then, this morning when Adam woke up he had spots all over him.  Big, red, itchy spots.  My mind instantly went to the irrational Bed Bug paranoia that I have.  I tried to brush it off, but by supper time, the spots started developing little rings around them...not a good sign!  So off to the doctor we trudged...Isaac indeed has tosillitus, and Adam?  He's got chickenpox.  Yeah...chickenpox.

What's coming next?  I only have 4 days left before I leave - please, dear God, please let them go smoothly!!

Apr 17, 2011

6 days

I'm leaving in just 6 days.  I'm so excited that I could just burst right now.  I've been trying to contain it because Iman's birthday is on Friday --- I can't be more excited about my trip than her birthday now, can I?

Anyhow - while I'm in Mexico, I have another course starting.  The instructor is just awesome and has already posted up the first 4 units.  I really want to get at least 2 of them over and done with before I go (that's totally do-able) BUT...

(there's always a but, isn't there?)

But, I'm so excited that I can't even really concentrate! This course is on children with special needs, and normally I have a lot to say on it (it's something that really interests me a lot) but all I've been able to do all day long is run over the list of things I want to do in my head:

  • recheck my bag - do I have everything (good thing I did that, because I almost forgot my pajamas!)
  • write out a list of "things" for my mom while she's here (she's awesome and taking care of Adam.)  This will include things like his normal routine, his likes/dislikes, how to turn on the TV and switch it to the DVD so she can get a little reprieve now and then... etc
  • write out a list of things for my older kids to do (feed the fish, clean their rooms, not make grandma never want to come back....you know, the usual).
  • try to get that stupid sink fixed
  • ^^ ditto for the dishwasher.
  • write a note for Mr. Delusional to remind him that the light in my oven has been burnt out for months, and the dryer light just burnt out today.  
  • remind Mr. Delusional to buy me printer ink so I can print out my reports to take on the plane.
  • oh yeah, print out my boarding tickets
  • ask for more donations (hint, hint peeps!)

  • let my mom know how my deep freeze is organized so she doesn't get lost.
  • laundry - clean underwear is essential in this house!!
  • Ironing....not cause I want to, but because I don't even want to face it when I come back.
  • birthday party for Iman on Friday (daytime with a few of her friends, evening with the whole family)
  • Saturday = family fun day/time spent together before we leave day/try to get to sleep because I have a long day of plane rides and apparently a bouncy, jiggly, vomit-inducing bus ride to the casita the next day.

Yeah...and I'm trying to get some homework done.


I got this recipe from a girlfriend of mine a while back (maybe a year or two ago??) - anyhow, they are absolutely fan-freaking-tastic cookies.  So delicious!  I hope you enjoy them as much as everyone I've made them for does!  These cookies are moist, chocolate morsels with a banana flavor burst!  So good!

Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 cup butter/margarine
1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs

1 tsp baking soda
3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
2 very ripe, mashed bananas
1 package (2 cups) chocolate chips

Cream the first 5 ingredients together in a large mixing bowl until fluffy.
Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.

Drop by spoonfuls onto baking sheet (I use parchment lined for easy cleanup) and bake in a 350* oven for 10-12 minutes (mine usually take 14 minutes)

Apr 13, 2011

Dishwasher Woes

I've mentioned before about the issues with my dishwasher.  My lovely Mr. Delusional fixed it many times and has made me a very happy woman each time.

This time however - it was beyond his fixing abilities.  Sometimes it was filling, sometimes it wasn't.  There was no rhyme or reason to it.  We pulled the whole thing out thinking that perhaps the hose was kinked, but nothing worked. I gave up and have been doing dishes by hand for the last week or two.

Yeah, you read that right, I have been doing my dishes by hand!!!   

I know that there are people out there who don't have dishwashers and my complaints, to them, are likely whiny.  I did dishes by hand for far too long.  I hated it.  So, when we moved to our house and it had a dishwasher, I was in Lazy Hethr Heaven!  (too bad it also didn't come with maid service....ahhhh... that would be so sweet!)

Anyhow - back to me and my whining.  I've now been doing dishes by hand for a few weeks.  With the daycare kids here, that means that I usually do about 4 or 5 loads of dishes a day.  I. Hate. This.

So when I woke up this morning and saw the big red circle around today's date on the calendar, I did a little squeal of glee - today is the day that the dishwasher repair man was coming!!  The kids and I spent the morning coloring and baking and waiting for the moment the door bell would ring.

Finally - around lunch time, the van pulls up - the kids swarm him and the poor man is bombarded with questions:

  • What's your name?
  • What's in the bag?
  • Why do you have a band-aid?
  • You're not allowed to wear shoes in Hedr's house, you gonna take them off?
  • Why do you have an orange screw driver?
  • Can I see your screwdriver?
  • Oooh - he has a flash light!  Can I play with your flashlight?

It went on for quite some time. Eventually I was able to feed them, wash them up and put them to bed -- meanwhile, Mr. Repair Man is tinkering around.  At this point, he's taken apart the entire machine - front cover is off, bottom piece is off, racks and screws and bits are all over the place.... and he's on the phone.  I hear him say "I've tried everything, I just don't know what's wrong with it."

Uh...so not the words I wanted to hear, hun!

A few (5) phone calls later, he's figured out the issue, and has to order a new part (water intake valve and also a new mother board 'just in case') and he leaves.

I still have no working dishwasher - I have to wait for the part to arrive and for a new service call to be booked.

Hethr's not happy.

Apr 8, 2011

Score 1 for Mr. Delusional

We discovered this weekend that two of the tires on our SUV had holes in them...one a screw, the other a nail. Mr. Delusional took it into the repair shop to get done. All that time, I was worrying about how much it would cost. Two new tires...at I don't even know how much a piece!!

He comes home and says, "Can you believe what they charged me for the tires? $80!!"
Me: "Really? That's awesome!"
Mr. Delusional: "What? Awesome? For a simple patch? I could have bought a patch kit and done it myself for less than that!"
Me: "A patch? Like Micky Mouse does on his cars??"
Mr. Delusional: "Micky Mouse....really??"

Touche, my love. Touche.

Apr 4, 2011

It's only Monday and my Eye's Already Twitching

I thought that I would have a myriad of posts during spring break...however, it was quiet here.  My mother came and took my kids for 4 days (yes, all three kids for 4 whole days!) and with one daycare child sunning himself on the beaches of Cancun, another too little to cause much disruption, and the third happy to have me all to herself, it wasn't that bad.

Mr. Delusional and I enjoyed some much needed husband/wife time together as opposed to the usual mommy/daddy thing.  There's a difference.  A big one!

Anyhow - my mother eventually brought my kids back (yes, she had developed a bit of a twitch!) and soon after, my chosen son was back here (nicely tanned and full of stories) we were back into the swing of things.  Again, it wasn't that bad because my older two were here and each on loves to be the little mother hen to the daycare children. I was more like an observer than a caretaker.
However, all blissful things must come to an end.  Spring Break is over and we're back to our daily routine...and we didn't miss a beat.  Iman and Isaac each asked to be woken at 530 this morning to exercise with me.  No, I didn't bother waking them that early (I'm not that delusional!), but thought I'd wake them at 630 so we could have breakfast together.  That didn't happen.  They slept through their 7 am alarm....they slept through my 715 "wake up, you're going to be late" and their eyes barely flickered at my 730 "get up now before I get mad!"

We then had the mad dash for "I have nothing to wear" and let's not forget that "there's nothing to eat."  Eventually we got through the hair combing, face washing and teeth brushing and they were off.

Apparently that was the sign for Adam and the daycare kids to go totally psycho.  They fought over toys, they fought over noise, they fought over spots to sit, they fought over who was fighting.  It was horrible.  Then, as if someone waved a magic wand, they were nice and wonderful again....and a little while later, it was back to the fighting.  Needless to say nap time came and there wasn't even a fight to get into bed.  Everyone was very happy to crawl under their covers and grab some much needed sleep.  

They should be waking up soon - I'm hoping they're in a good mood -- we're off to hop in puddles regardless of smiles or tears!
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