Archive for September, 2009

Scissors on a String

Posted in Mexico on September 29, 2009 by Gabbi El Mas Negro

Living in Mexico keeps you on your toes.  Stairs without rails, scorpions, dirty water, drivers passing on blind corners at blinding speeds.  To the faint of heart, it surely must seem like a risky operation.  But for those of us who have chosen to hang our hats here, it’s just life.  I like to think that these little challenges serve to heighten our awareness of our surroundings and how we move through the world.  Life in the States is so tied up in regulations, warning labels, safety codes, and litigation (or the fear thereof) that it’s easy to move through one’s world in a state of oblivious zombie bliss.

Still, every now and then, I see something on the streets of my little pueblo that gives me pause.  Like the woman driving the ATV one-handed while holding her very small baby in the other; or the guy piping churro batter into a giant open bowl of hot oil teetering on top of a rickety stand.  A few days ago, as we sat eating tacos from the stand on the corner (in and of itself a risky prospect at times), a young boy walked out of his home, stood on the street in front of us, and began swinging in the air, yes, you guessed it – a pair of scissors.  on a fucking string.  Toys for tots?  I think we could use a little help south of the border.



Sunday Kind of Love

Posted in Uncategorized on September 14, 2009 by Gabbi El Mas Negro

the boys hanging upstairs while i slept in



afternoon at the beach



washing away the sand


back at the beach for the cvis surfout party


and wrapping it all up with:

Star Trek (the movie), red wine, cupcakes

Tattooed Love Child

Posted in Uncategorized on September 9, 2009 by Gabbi El Mas Negro

gabyandrea_0044bPhoto by Donna Day Photography.

Check out more of our Family Fotos by Donna Day.

To King Maxxi, On Your Very First Birthday

Posted in love, Maximo, Uncategorized on September 7, 2009 by Gabbi El Mas Negro

Here are a just a few of the things that I absolutely love and adore about you, right now:

  • The many ways you say “Ma-ma!,” with: sweetness, urgency, need, frustration, love.
  • Your face lighting up when I walk into a room.
  • How you call my name when you wake up in the morning.
  • Your need to switch boobs every few minutes when you are nursing.
  • The way you tug on my shirt to get at my chi-chis.
  • How you pop up from nursing in the early morning, look over at your sleeping father, smile so wide in the dark, clap your little hands and say “Daddy!”
  • Your belly laughs when I tickle your neck.
  • Your chuckles when we ask you, “Where’s your weenie?”
  • The way you throw your arms around my neck when I pick you up off the bed.
  • How you lay your head on your Nona’s shoulder and fall asleep in her arms.
  • When you point at each of the butterflies tattooed on my arm, like reading your favorite book.
  • The way you shake your thing, tiny dancer.
  • Your incessant flirting; your sometimes shyness.
  • Splashing in the bathtub, and family baths.
  • Naked time.
  • That your books are your favorites of all your (many) toys.
  • You brushed your own teeth this morning.
  • How you see, analyze, copy, and figure out everything going on around you.
  • When you grab your favorite book from the bin, open it, point to a picture, and look at me with your big brown eyes.
  • Those eyes.
  • Your sort-of fading obsession with carrying around your spoon all day long.
  • How you will eat almost everything I put in front of you.
  • How you would not eat raw zucchini from your food-net-popsicle-thingy.  Duh.
  • When the other baby took your toy, the way you quietly waited for him to put it down, and then quietly reclaimed it.
  • You rub your hands over your arms, mimicking the action of us applying your powder and bug spray.
  • Peek-a-boo.
  • How you squirm and arch every time we put you in your car seat or the stroller.
  • How you light up when your Daddy walks into the room.
  • Playing hide-n-seek with the bedtime books that Daddy is about to read you.
  • You turning the book pages yourself.
  • The way you turn around to climb down, just like I taught you.
  • How you seemed present for each birthday present.
  • You couldn’t get enough of the special cake I made you.
  • The way your Grandparents look at you.
  • How you nuzzle into my neck.
  • How each moment is brand new.
  • How you are so much US, and so much more YOU.
  • How many years we have ahead of us…
  • You are my sun – my Son – and that will never change, no matter how much else does.

Love Always, Mommy

Posted in ¡que comida!, breastfeeding, Uncategorized on September 7, 2009 by Gabbi El Mas Negro

quecomida_logo“4 Leches” First Birthday Cake


Tres Leches cake is a traditional Mexican cake soaked in a mixture of 3 milks: whole, evaporated, and sweetened condensed.  It is deee-licious, and we had our favorite version from Pie in the Sky Bakery (a gift from the bakery owners and our friends, Susan & Phil) for Maximo’s 1st birthday party.  I made a special version for the babe, with less sugar, and a 4th milk – mine.  Of course it had to be booby-shaped.  He loved it and surely would have eaten the whole thing had I let him.  Aside from me, our friend Daniel Brewer was the only other person to brave a taste and claimed to really like it.  I preferred Pie in the Sky’s version.

The Recipe:

“Busy-Day 1-layer Cake”

(adapted from Better Homes & Gardens New Cook Book)

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar (reduced from 2/3)

2 tsp. baking powder

2/3 cup milk

1/4 cup butter, softened

1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla

In a bowl combine sifted flour, sugar, and baking powder.  Add milk, butter, egg, and vanilla.  Beat on low until combined, then beat on medium for 1 minute.  Pour batter into 2 greased and floured ramekins (I used small rounded custard dishes to get a “mound” type shape).  You’ll have enough batter left over for a few more small cake molds, or you could make some cupcakes.  Bake in a 350° F (180° C) oven for about 20-25 minutes, but check them for doneness as baking time will vary depending on your oven, the depth of the mold you use, thickness of the baking dish, etc.  The cake tasted great, even with so much less sugar.  It was still sweet, just not oversweet like most baked goods.

4 Milks Mixture

1/3 cup whole milk

1/3 cup evaporated milk

1 tbsp. heavy cream*

1/3 cup breast milk

*Traditionally, you would use sweetened condensed milk as the 3rd milk, but I skipped this because of the crazy sugar content of la lechera (as it is called here).

After the cakes have cooled, unmold onto a plate, poke with toothpicks, and pour milk mixture slowly over the cakes, allowing it to soak in.  You can frost the cakes with whipped cream (sweetened or not depending on your preference) or leave them as is.  Arrange cakes together on a serving dish, cut a cherry or grape in half, and place one half on top of each cake for nipples.  Voila – 4 leches Chi-Chi Cakes!


Ain’t Love Grand

Posted in family, Gabbi, love, Maximo on September 4, 2009 by Gabbi El Mas Negro

639727468_PaGF6-LLast week Maximo Lobo turned 1 year old.  In celebration, Nona & Nono Villarrubia and Grampa Billy came to visit for the week.  We had a wonderful time with all of them, and were all super spoiled by having so much Grandparent love in the house.  It feels like Maximo does something new every single day these days, and it was extra special to experience his awesomeness with the only other people (along with Grammy Karen & Papa Mark!) who can match (exceed?) our own enthusiasm for our offspring.  Getting to see him settle into his comfort with each of them is always cool to watch.  It’s been about 6 months since he’s seen them, so it’s takes a day or two, but by the end he is so into them all, forming unique relationships with each, and it’s a beautiful thing to witness.  Of course, the coolness of being able to hand him off to people who love him as much as you do and want nothing more than to hang out with him all day long cannot be overstated.  Such a lovely freedom, and a hard one to give up – for Maximo, who was constantly attended to and entertained; and for me, who didn’t have to constantly attend to and entertain.  I remember the early early days… the first round of Grandparent visits during months 1 and 2… how I would find myself feeling almost jealous as I handed off my newborn babe to the waiting arms of his Abuela or Grammy, concerned that I was sacrificing too much of my precious bonding and attachment time.  Now, securely attached beyond a doubt one year later, I have no problems handing my son off to willing and able hands – we get plenty of time together, me & him, and I cherish it.

Gabbi and I have been reflecting a lot this week on how lovely it was to have our folks here, and how different it is to have family visit now that we have a child.  We love our parents dearly, and have for the most part lived far away from them as adults (me more so than him).  I have never felt particularly attached to home as “a place where I grew up,” and moving away was a big part of claiming my independence as a young adult.   I’ve always preferred living away from my parents, for the freedom it gave me.  They are also relatively young and busy with their own lives, so it generally seemed like enough to see each other a few times a year, not to say we didn’t miss each other.  Now that I’m a parent, I find that my priorities and wants have shifted.  Family is more fun – less obligation, more celebration.  We all get along better.  Everyone seems happier; renewed and re-energized by this new life that we all share a boundless love for.  The time flies by and ends too soon, whereas a younger, more selfish me would have grown tired of day-upon-day with parents around.  Now Gabbi & I imagine a time in the future when Maxxi’s Grandparents will hang their hats in our home, or one of their own nearby, at least part of the year.  Because he needs his Grandparents in his life more than a week at a time, and so do we.  For this, we put everything we have into expanding our home so we have an extra bedroom to share with our families (and our friends – come visit now!).  For this, we will keep putting it out there; keep planting the seeds of ideas about making a life here until it can’t help but take root.  And we will keep counting the days until that next visit, which thankfully comes more and more frequently as we all shift our priorities towards Maximo, and find whatever ways we can to get ourselves together.  Fortunately, we can already start ticking them off as we look forward to our big Christmas reunion.  ¡Hasta Navidad!