Saturday, May 24, 2008

New Favorite Frozen Treats

I now live in a place that is hot at lot of the year, and where most don`t have a lot of extra money to spare. So cheap frozen treats, many of which can be made at home, are very popular here. In fact, lots of people make them at home and stick a sign in their front window announcing that they are selling them, from anywhere from 20 to 50 cents. One of the nice things about making these yourself is that you can control portion size and how healthy it is (or not).

So, I thought I`d share a few of my favorites with you, in the order I tried them.

Bollos (pronounced boy-ohs)
Ok, so the idea here is to use your blender to basically make a smoothie, and then freeze it in a plastic baggie that has been knotted closed. Any fruit, mixed with a little water and sugar to taste. Or you can make milk-based ones - chocolate flavored or with fruit and a bit of sugar to taste. I happen to enjoy the milk-based banana flavor. Like I said, pour it in a plastic baggie and knot it closed. A few hours later, take it out, bite or cut off one corner, and eat it kind of like you would a freeze pop.
One time, I really wanted a bollo, but didn`t have baggies. So I made chocolate milk (with a little vanilla yogurt to thicken my skim milk a bit) in a coffee mug, and stuck it in the feezer. An hour or 2 later, due in part to my impatience and in part to wanting to be sure I could eat it out of the coffee mug, I took it out partially frozen. It was remarkable like a W`s Frosty! Yumm! And I am pretty sure much healthier.

This is simply a frozen, chocolate covered banana. They sell chocolate here expressly for this purpose - it kind of reminds me the kind of chololate you would use for chocolate fondue or a chocolate fountain. But I think basically any easy to melt chocolate would work. Ususally these are made with half a banana, cuz it is easier to work with and generally satisfies you. So, simply cut your bananas in half, and stick a popsicle/craft stick or fork or something similar in the cut end to hold it by. Then spoon the chocolate over it (it seems to stick to the banana better if you spoon it over than if you dip the banana in it), and freeze. Ready to eat in about an hour. Tip : Freeze on a plastic plate or top of a Tupperware or something similarly flexible, as it is easier to get them off the plate afterwards.

Frozen Yogurt
Ok, so here they say paleta, but that basically means any variety of popsicle. So I thought I`d be more specific. Don`t know why it never occurred to me to simply freeze yogurt before, but it is a new favorite of mine. I follow my sister-in-laws advice and just mix in a little milk before pouring into old but washed individual yogurt containers (you could any small plastic cup), and sticking in a popsicle stick or spoon (plastic works). Freeze a few hours and enjoy! Tip: to get it out of the plastic cup, you want to warm the outside of the cup until the frozen yogurt slides out.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

21 days and counting!

(Quick heads up - I double posted today. Thought I´d warn you all, since it is unusual for me and I don´t want you to miss anything...)

21 days from now I will be in Rochester!! For my first visit home since moving here this past December! I am obviously very excited!

I had not anticipated being able to make a visit home for quite some time, considering our tight budget and all. But a couple of weeks ago, my parents informed me that my dad has enough frequent flyer miles for a free ticket home. Yes, just one - I will be coming alone this trip. But my parents want to gift us with a trip up once the baby is born, for the 3 of us, so that we can introduce our little one to everyone back home. So I´ll be headed up again sometime next winter. All very exciting :)

I´ve been waiting to post about the trip until we settled on some dates. At first it was anytime between now and early August (when I will be too pregnant to make such a trip - airlines actually don´t allow people in their last month or month and a half to get on the plane.). Then we narrowed it down to either mid June or mid July, to work around family plans here and there. Then it looked like we would have a hard time using the free miles in July, and so mid June it would be.

THEN...My husband and I went to immigration on Friday to work on getting all my papers in order for continuing to live here. I currently just have a tourist visa, good for 180 days. Meaning it expires June 7th. So we started asking what we needed to do and working on all the paperwork back in April. Then we didn´t have a car for 2 weeks, and so couldn´t get any errands, etc, done. We got the car back last Tuesday, got the pictures I needed taken done on Wednesday, my love went in Thursday to ask the immigration folks about a couple things we weren´t sure about, and we headed in Friday thinking we had everything in order and ready to go.

Only to have the very immpatient and somewhat annoyed official suddenly start telling us that there are 2 types of visas from which we need to choose, involving different costs, different restrictions, and different outcomes (like the possibility of one day being a permanent resident or citizen here). She explained all of this very quickly, neither of us could quite keep up, forget making a good decision. And to top it off she informed us that we had forgotten one of the papers we needed, and if we didn´t make it back with it same day, it could stall things for 10 days.

Let me just say that one pregnant woman left that office crying.

Well, between the Dr´s appointment we had that morning, my beloved needing to work, and the short hours of the immigration office (they close at 1pm), we weren´t making it back same day. I where before I was slightly nervous about getting all the paperwork done before my trip home, now I was panicked. I begged my family to get some people praying for favor when we took the ´missing´paper in on Monday, as well as asking my Pastor and his wife here to pray. And I worked hard and trusting the Lord and not completely freaking out. I reminded myself that if the Lord could open the door for a trip, He could open the doors for the paperwork as well.

All thanks to the Lord, it turns out there is a very simple, straightfoward process for getting temporary paperwork that will allow me to make my trip, with only a relatively small fee of about $25. So, God willing, I will be in Rochester from June 10th to 25th!
(Umm, I don´t suppose Otrgirl/Jrex, Val, or Becca, or any other out of town friends were planning on stopping in Rochester for those dates...? Just checking....)

At first I was a little hesitant about leaving my husband for very long - we are newlyweds after all, and this will be our first time apart. Plus, he´s gonna have to move home with his mother or something while I am gone, because the man does not cook. But he really wants me to make the most of the opportunity, and it was he who encouraged me to go for at least a week, if not 2. And now my mind is quickly filling the 2 weeks up with all the people I want to see and things I want to do :)

As for the confusion of immigration - please pray. For reasons we do not understand, the immigration office went ahead and started the process for my visa despite missing that one paper and payment, and despite the fact that we never actually determined which we wanted. Of course, they started the paperwork for the other visa, the one we don´t want. So now we have to decide whether to enter into a complicated process of stopping the one and switching to the other, involving re-doing everything.....or going with the flow and waiting till next time around to get the one that puts me on a path to citizenship.

But, at least the door is open for the trip back to Rochester. You all better start blocking out some free time for me ;)

Baby Update

We finally made it to the Drs on Friday. I say finally because it was 6 weeks after our last appointment due to some rescheduling, etc, and felt like a long time to wait to check in on our little one. Plus, I don´t know if I have mentioned that I am basically addicted to ultrasounds! :)

The baby is doing great - on the measurements the Dr took show good growth and continue to suggest slightly early delivery dates (meaning the baby is a little bigger than would be expected for how pregnant I am). The position of the baby prevented us from being able to check the gender for sure - if you remember, last time we went in, the Dr said he was 80% sure it was a boy, but since I was only 3 months pregnant, it was a bit early to tell. So, I´ll be using the male pronouns in part in the generic sense, in part because we think it is a boy.

The baby was lying on his back (picture me lying on my back for the ultrasound, the baby´s back facing my back), bent double so that his feet are up in front of his face. Which explains why I feel almost all of his movement so far in pretty much the same place - he just keeps kicking those little feet.

We were able to see his little arm and hand, and the Dr counted his 5 little fingers. Then we saw his face, and he opened his mouth just as we were watching (my husband´s favorite part). It is amazing to compare the ultrasound pictures from each visit and see how much bigger he has gotten! I don´t understand how the Dr can estimate weight based on an ultrasound, but he says the baby weighs just under a pound already.

I checked out fine as well, with all of our minor questions being answered with, ´that´s normal´, or ´try this simple remedy´. I only gained 2 pounds in the last 6 weeks, for a total weight gain of 3 pounds since our first appointment 2.5 months ago. Our first appointment wasn´t until I was 2 months pregnant, and I am not totally sure how much I weighed before that as I hadn´t had the opportunity to weigh myself since I left Rochester in December. But I don´t think I gained much before that first appointment either. So here I am, just past the halfway mark of the pregnancy and only up something like 4 pounds. Which amazes me since I feel a lot bigger. I mean, I have the noticably protruding stomach and all. I would be slightly concerned at such little weight gain, as all I´ve read suggests I should have gained closer to 10 pounds. But since the baby appears to be healthy and growing well, I´m just grateful to not be putting on too much too fast. far so good :) We are more and more excited to get to know this little one, enjoying that we can feel him moving now (did I mention yet that my beloved has even felt the baby move a couple of times already?), and knowing that he can hear us talking to him. Speaking of the baby moving, I can´t be sure since this is my first pregnancy, but I think he sure moves alot! I´ve read where if the baby moves less than 10 times over the course of a few hours, you should check in with the Dr. My baby moves 10 times in under a half hour! Repeatedly throughout the day! But I like having that little bit of connection with him and feeling like I know he is ok.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A little bit about life lately...

We finally have a car again! Woo hoo! 2 weeks after it broke down and almost as long in the shop (basically just waiting to do a simple repair until the part arrived). But it has been an interesting couple of weeks, and more poor husband`s feet are about to fall right off! He still had to make all his client visits, but by bus and foot.

In the meantime, I have become an official bus rider, making my first few solo rides in the last few days. Gives me a new level of independence, as I could go visit my in-laws or the Pastor`s family by bus now even if my husband is busy working. Admitedly, it takes much much longer by bus, but it is better than nothing!

My other big news of late is that I am definelty feeling the baby move these days! All of a sudden, a week ago today, I was sure that it was the baby I was feeling, and ever since, I have been feeling him a lot! Very exciting. And yesterday morning, he was kicking unusually strongly, and my husband could feel it already!

Thanks to the car issues, the lastest Drs appointment, that should have been last Thursday has been postponed 2x, and we will finally go this Friday. So you can expect a baby update soon :)

Ok, all out of time - until soon...

A little more on `Life Here`...

Of course, after writing that last post, I thought of several other things I should have mentioned...

For starters, it has been hot here since sometime in early March. By hot I mean generally a high in the 80s, somtimes a bit more. It is a very different type of hot than back home in Rochester. For one, it is dry heat - Saltillo is almost a desert. In contrast, the sun is way more intense here. Unlike people in Rochester who try to soak up every minute of sun they can, those who live in Saltillo rarely spend time in the sun on purpose if they can help it. The nice thing is, this city is apparently known for its natural air conditioning - there is almost always a breeze, and since we are in the mountains, it pretty much always cools off at night. Somewhere around late afternoon or early evening the breeze and air turn decidedly cooler, and although sometimes the houses stay warm for a while, we almost always end up pulling up the covers in bed at night.

On a related note, although I have become an even more religious sun-screen user (with very high SPFs), it is only mid-May and I am already the color I normally am in mid to late summer back in Rochester. I have a feeling I will be discovering new shades of tan I didn`t know I could reach.

Probably in part related to the differences in weather, and in part because people here operate on much smaller budgets, houses here are not made anything close to air-tight like they are in Rochester. So lucky me sometimes finds all manner of insects inside the house without a clue as to how they got in - we`ve had plenty of flies, several crickets, and assorted other bugs I don`t know the names of. I`m not overly squeemish about bugs, but I do generally leave the bug killing to my husband.

Also thanks to the random cracks in the house (especially around window and door frames), lots of dust/dirt gets in. Yes, more gets in because I like to have the windows open, but even closed, dirt gets in. In part this is a function of where we live and the construction going on around us - it is less of a problem for people in well-developed neighborhoods. But you would not believe the amount of dirt I sweep and mop up on a regular basis, and more so after a strong wind or storm of some kind.

And I think my final note on life here will be on church. I miss being able to enter freely into worship - I`m often trying to remember what the song is saying. Ok, often may be a bit strong, as my Spanish is improving. But you get what I mean. And it is a struggle to understand the sermon. I have always been more of a visual than auditory learner, so I have to work to keep up with sermons in English. If I don`t make a real effort, take notes, etc, I don`t remember much afterwards (in English). So I haven`t felt very fed here yet, although I think I am starting to understand enough that maybe I will try taking notes soon and see how I do.

Well, in typical blog fashion, somehow I feel better for having shared all this with you! Hopefully it is somewhat interesting to read :)

Monday, May 5, 2008

On Life in Mexico...

So sorry! Last time I posted, which was a very long time ago, I promised to get more posts up. And I actually started this post a week ago - but couldn´t finish because my time was shorter than I thought. And then, due to car troubles and the related fall out, I haven´t been on since. Finishing this post was on the top of my list for today,and then for the longest time I couldn´t sign in to Blogger. But I am in now, and hopefully have the time to finish this. Maybe I´ll post it unfinished if my husband comes for me - some news is better than no news, right? :)

I´ve been meaning for ages and ages to write an update on my life here and how I am transitioning, etc. Back when I first wanted to write it, I had the post half written in my head already. A lot has changed since then, but I don´t want to put it off any longer. So here´s hoping this post at least half way flows! ;)

First of all, I know that it is easy to use the blog to dump frustrations at times. And so you all get to hear about tight money or my naseous stomach sometimes.

But what I really want to be sure to say is how very happy and content I am here in my new life. I can´t tell you how many times I think in a week (or sometimes in one day) - how is it that I am soo blessed? Or - I can´t believe how very much I love my husband and he loves me! Or - Is this life really possible or only a dream? Will it last?

I really am very happy married to this man. I know he isn´t perfect, and we´ve already had assorted issues to work through, things from past and present, areas we don´t necessarily agree on. But overall, we are a really good fit for each other. He takes such good care of me - I´m not sure if I could have told you before I got married that I was looking for that feeling, but I sure am content now that I feel I have a husband to cares well for me. And somehow, although I tend to see where I fell short or the things I haven´t gotten done yet, he says the same about me. Do you know what a good feeling it is to have your husband take your hand to pray before a meal, and every single day include a thanks to the Lord for giving him his wife, and the coming child?

Now, as I´ve alluded to in other posts, his job is very demanding and low-paying... obviously I´d love to have a little more time with him and a little less tight of a budget. Really, as far as marriage goes, the biggest change I´d like to make is having more time with my husband. But I think that´s a pretty average for the course kind of request, one that lots of wives have. And in my case, it is one my husband echoes (sometimes the husband chooses to not be home for whatever reasons). So most of the time I don´t even give it that much thought. I just try to make the most of the time we do have together.

Switching topics, everyone always wants to know how my Spanish is coming. Honestly, I feel like I am coming along. I actually go places sometimes without my dictionary (and haven´t regretted it yet)! :) I usually can make myself understood and understand without too much mental effort at this point. I feel like I still have tons and tons of vocab to learn, but I have enough under my belt to get by. I often find myself thinking in Spanish, which they say is a sign of fluency or something to that effect. Of course, lots of times I get half way through the thought in Spanish and realize I don´t have the vocab to finish it and wonder why I am not thinking it in English. But Spanish is beginning to take over to the point that when my husband and I are trying to pratice his English, I am the one that keeps slipping into Spanish!

Talking to strangers and on the phone used to be the biggest struggles. Well, I can´t remember the last time I really struggled to understand/be understood by a stranger. And the other day I found myself talking to one of my closest friends here for 2 hours on the phone!

Speaking of friends - that seems to be another one of the biggies that people ask about. That particular friend has probably become my closest friend. She is in walking distance, and has made a point of telling me how she gets frustrated when I don´t come to visit her in a given week. (She has a baby and a child who needs to be walked to and from school everyday, so its a little harder for her to come to me...) I think second in the running is my sister-in-law. We´re close in age and connect well. And it helps that I get to see her regularly since we always head over there at least on Sunday´s after church (all my in-laws pretty much live together/next to each other). There´s others I´d like to get to know, but it is a bit hard to go visiting (we only have one car, and my husband has it all day for work) - which would help get a foundation started. Little by little I am getting there thru just the little bits of conversation at church.

Hmmm, those are the big points I think. If I missed something obvious, leave me a question in the comments to answer next post. I´m gonna go ahead and post this now while I still have time and everything. And hopefully I´ll be on more consistently again and able to post again soon!