Friday, November 30, 2007

Mexican Food and Christmas

Ok, before I get into the meat and potatoes of what I have to say, I just want to mention that I think I have finally reached the end of my quest to find the best Mexican restaurant in Milwaukee. Having lived in Mexico for a time, and having spent a considerable amount of time cooking with my Mexican host mother, I consider myself to be somewhat knowledgable (read: snobby) about Mexican cuisine. I have been searching for a really, really good Mexican restaurant in Milwaukee to frequent when the urge strikes, and I found it tonight. If you're in Milwaukee, or when you're in town visiting, be sure to check out Taqueria Azteca here in the Bayview neighborhood. It's a very unassuming place, so it's easy to pass it by on the way to a flashier destination. At first I was a little disappointed by the small menu, but when my food arrived, I realized that this place was all about quality over quantity. The portions were smaller than the usual trough full of carbs that I receive at other Mexican joints in the area, but that just meant I didn't leave the place feeling like a walking sausage. The food was heavenly, fresh, and very authentic, the sangria was divine, and the flan was as good as the stuff I had at Sanborn's in Mexico City (it was so good--beyond words). The service was just as good as the food, and the atmosphere was mellow and perfect for a family dinner OR a date night. I have found my new favorite Mexican restaurant, and I'd highly recommend it to anyone who wants a break from the run-of-the-mill places that cater to all of the gringos.

Ok, moving on to the other topic at hand--Christmas. Honestly, I've been kinda concerned about the whole season this year. Yes, it's fantastic to see Gracie get so excited about everything, but one question keeps lingering in the back of my mind: Should I be setting her up for the whole "Santa disappointment"?

I remember the moment I realized Santa wasn't real. I was in 3rd grade, and my class was standing in line outside, waiting to go inside after recess. It was right before Christmas, and one of my classmates announced to anyone that was listening that his parents told him that there was no such thing as Santa Claus. I was crushed...for me, the whole excitement of Christmas morning was based on the belief that a fat old man in a velvety suit was going to somehow sneak into our house undetected, leave heaps of presents under our tree, eat the cookies and eggnog (mmmm...eggnog) that I so thoughtfully left out for him, and sneak back out. Now, this little brat stole that image away from me and replaced it with a strong sense of disappointment and loss.

Now, I had had my suspicions about Santa before that day. I was old enough to notice that the handwriting on the gift tags on the presents from Santa looked suspiciously like my dad's. I also was old enough to question how someone could get into our house after my dad meticulously locked it each night before bed. Things didn't add up in my young mind, but I suppose I kept on believing because it was just more fun that way.

So, now that I am a mom, I've taken my child through the drill...we talk about Santa, I took Grace to the mall to meet Santa and have her photo taken with him, I remind her to be good so Santa will bring her lots of loot, and we watch all of the classic Santa movies. In the midst of it all, I can't help but wonder if this is wrong. Should I be setting my child up for disappointment? Why not just tell her the truth now and spare her from the same kind of sadness that I felt when I heard the truth?

The more that I think about this, the more I realize that one of the most precious things about childhood is the innocence--being able to believe wholeheartedly in something like Santa Claus without wondering if it's real or not...just accepting it, for the time being, at face value and letting yourself get totally wrapped up in the excitement of it all. Even though I was hurt when I learned the truth about Santa, I still look back with immense fondness on those early Christmas mornings filled with excitement and tearing open my gifts with wild abandon. Those memories of joy far outweigh whatever disappointment I experienced.

I suppose that there is little harm in feeding this excitement. After all, soon enough, she will lose that innocence and learn that disappointment is regular a part of life. She will learn the truth about Santa, and the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy, and countless other things, and she will be sad for a while. She might mourn the loss of her youth and long to believe again. And, hopefully one day she will be fortunate enough to have a child of her own, and she will be able to remember what it's like to believe.

That is one of the beautiful things about being a parent. You have another opportunity to experience, through your child, all of the magic and wonderment that you experienced as a child. Except this time around, it's a little sweeter, because you have the privilege of being a big part of that little person's memories.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Back to the Wedding for a Moment...

It's been a while since I have posted anything relating to my recent wedding, and I have some news to report that is tangentially related to the joyous event. So, back to the wedding for a bit.

Aaron and I have promised that we would plan a reception so that we could get together with our friends and family members who were unable to join us at our actual wedding ceremony in Florida. Well, initial plans have been made!!

The date we have chosen for our reception is Saturday, April 19th, 2008. We are hoping that by that time of the year, most of the snowing and icy muck will be behind us so travel won't be too much of an issue. The reception will be held here in Milwaukee at the Sprecher Brewery, so much beer and tasty cream soda will be available for all.

We'll be sending out save the date reminders and some more information, so stay tuned. Check for more updates and other stuff!

Monday, November 26, 2007


We spent Thanksgiving up north with our families. We ate tons of turkey, relaxed, did some serious shopping, and generally had a great time. We also enjoyed the first snowfall of the year. Here are some pics of the weekend:

Aaron and Grace surveying the new snow outside my parents' living room window:

Baby #1, asleep after Black Friday shopping:

Baby #2, asleep after big Black Friday breakfast (if you look closely, you can see the syrup in her hair):

Gracie during her very first visit with Santa:

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Working Non-Mother...and Other News

Being that it's a short work week this week and my parents haven't spent a whole lot of time with Grace since we moved to Milwaukee, Grace is up in Oshkosh spending time with Grampa and Nada while Mommy and Aarie toil away before the long weekend. We left her up in the Valley on Sunday and we will pick her up again tomorrow night at my parents' Thanksgiving feast. So, I am getting a dose (really a reminder) of what it's like working full time sans bebe. And, although it's really fantastic (blech) getting to go to work an extra hour or so early and staying an hour late, it's not all it's cracked up to be. I am finding myself missing my morning visits from Gracie when I am in the bathroom getting ready for work. I miss the excitement I feel when I am driving home, knowing that my family is waiting for me. I miss dropping her off at day care and getting that big hug and kiss. And, although it was quite nice last night sitting down with Aaron and watching "Heroes" uninterrupted, I found myself thinking that it sure would be nice to have my little pumpkin sleeping on my lap. It's not that I'm not happy for some alone time with my new hubby--I am very grateful for it. It's just that he has been working every night this week and my alone time with the hubby has pretty much just been alone time.

So, I guess I'm feeling kinda sad. Even though there is more freedom without a little one running around the house (and I can get my laundry and cleaning done in peace) there is a lot less laughter. I will be very glad to have my family all back together tomorrow.

And in other news...

I finally cleared all of my checks for the interpreter job, so I go in tomorrow to get my badge and then I can pretty much start interpreting when I want to! Yippee! Now I just have to figure out a graceful exit for my current position...Wish me luck with that.

Also, it would appear that something is wrong with me. (This shouldn't come as a shock to those that know me well...I have been hearing for years that something isn't quite right with me.)

Joking aside, I have been having some terrible chest pain lately. I sorta ignored it for about a month, but then on Sunday night on our way back home from Oshkosh, the pain was shooting from my chest down my left arm and was quite uncomfortable, so I started to feel alarmed. Naturally, the first thing one thinks of when one has chest pain combined with left arm pain is, "HEART ATTACK!!!" but being that I am only 29, I guess I shrugged that notion off. (I know, I know, people in their 20's keel over from heart attacks.)

I called the doctor on Monday to make an appointment to have it checked, and much to my alarm, the nurse told me to go to the hospital. I told her that I didn't think that was necessary, since this pain has been going on for a while and besides, I had too much going on at work to leave right away. (I've totally got my priorities straight.) So, I made an appointment for Monday afternoon.

Happily, the EKG I had upon arrival to the doctor's office was normal, so I had not had a "cardiac event". But, something is definitely not right, so blood tests were ordered and I am going in tomorrow for an ultrasound of my heart to ensure my valves are working properly. Since my grandmother has had serious heart trouble for almost 30 years now and my mom suffers from mitral valve prolapse, my doctor is being extra cautious.

My blood work revealed a wonderful cholesterol level (thank you Weight Watchers) but my thyroid levels are a bit out of whack. This is nothing new for me...I have been having thyroid problems since 2001. The wacky thyroid alone would cause heart palpitations, but according to my doctor, it shouldn't cause the troubling shooting pain down my left arm. So, we will see what the echo reveals tomorrow. I'm actually hoping it shows something relatively minor like mitral valve prolapse, because if it doesn't, my doctor has promised to order more scary tests involving catheters and other poky things. No thanks. Wish me luck on that front, as well.

At least the long weekend is almost upon us. Time to be glad for all that is around me.

Monday, November 19, 2007

I Heart Fall in Wisconsin, Part Deux

Another reason why I love Fall in Wisconsin is...Packer games! Aaron's family has season tickets and since a majority of the men in the family were hunting up in the Northwoods this weekend, Aaron and I had a chance to go to the Packer game yesterday. It was very chilly out, but the Packers played so well that I didn't mind sitting outside for three hours and freezing my tail off. Here are some pics from the festivities.

Our tasty tailgate treats (including bottle of Two Buck Chuck):

Aaron enjoying brat #2 or #3 (I lost count):

The Frozen Tundra:

Yay! The Packers are winning!!!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Let's Hear it for The Girls

I just want to take a moment and give some props to two lovely ladies who, without knowing it, totally made my day yesterday. It was yet another cruddy day at work (can't wait till I'm through the approval process for the interpreting job), yet my day was saved by two women: my mom and my best friend, Angie.

(Side note: Naturally, my husband and daughter helped make my day better, too...but I always talk about them.)

It was the middle of the afternoon yesterday, and I was actually on the verge of tears in my cube at work. Fires were flaring up faster than I could put them out, emails were flying frantically into my inbox, my phone was ringing off the know the drill. Then, out of the blue came an email from my mom with totally unsolicited but very appreciated words of encouragement. (I shouldn't say TOTALLY unsolicited. I had emailed my mom that morning complaining about how fat I felt, so maybe she sensed that I was having a bad day.) It was a short email--three brief sentences--but it managed to change the tone of my entire afternoon. And, it reminded me that although things seemed just about unbearable there at work, there are people on "the outside" that love me and that always have my back. So, thanks Mom. You don't know you did it, but you helped make my day.

The second person to make my day was my best friend of 15 years, Angie. She and I try to schedule semi-regular girl dates, and last night we had one such date, where the two of us go out alone to Cafe Lulu and feast on huge Lulu chips and other tasty treats and drink divine Sangrias. I had been looking forward to seeing Angie again and spending some good quality time with her.

Angie and I met back in high school. We both worked at the Pick 'n' Save bakery, and one night Angie called me out of the blue to gossip, and we've been thick as thieves ever since. We were pretty much inseparable in high school(except for the time I thought she was trying to steal my boyfriend...I see now how stupid that was)--we were on the cheerleading squad together, we went on band trips together, we were in choir together, and we hung out every day. Angie was a year ahead of me in school, and I remember when she graduated and went off to college. I thought my world was ending. She left a letter in my mailbox the night before I left telling me how much she was going to miss me...I still have that letter.

Over the years, Angie and I have been through a lot in our lives. We've survived countless broken hearts, graduated college, started careers, bought homes and cars, welcomed babies into our lives...all of those rites of passage into adulthood. And through it all, Angie has always been there, and I hope I have always been there for her, too. I remember the day after I came home from the hospital after delivering Gracie. I needed incontinence pads (I won't go into why...that's another story for another day) and the only person on Earth that I could even fathom asking to buy some for me was Ang. And she did. And then she told me how fabulous I looked, even though I felt like I had been hit by the proverbial truck.

So, our date last night was just as wonderful as I had hoped. I knew it was going to be wonderful when Angie said, "You'll understand this. I had the best afternoon. I went grocery myself." She was right--I totally got it. There's nothing like some solitude in the grocery store when you normally have someone with you whose apparent goal is to do everything possible to prevent you from getting your shopping done. And it's things like this that make our friendship so special--we understand each other, without having to explain or convince. It helps that my husband and Angie's partner have very similar personalities...we have lots to talk, and commiserate, about.

So, Ang, I know you read this, and I want you to say thank you for once again making my day so much better just by being there. I'm so glad that we finally live in the same city again after so many years so we can see each other with some regularity. And, it's true--me+you+lulu chips+sangria+homosexual waiter=fabulous.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

I Heart Fall in Wisconsin

One of the best things about Fall in Wisconsin is...going to Badger games!!! Due to an extremely busy September and October, I was only able to attend one Badger football game with Aaron this year, and that game was yesterday. Aaron and I worked the game into a full day trip to Madison, and in addition to seeing a great football game, we saw a very entertaining play at the Broom Street Theatre and had some great German beer at the Essen Haus. It was a blast, and this was the only occasion that I can think of in which Aaron said, "I have a brat in my you want it?" and it wasn't a metaphor for anything. Pics from the game are below.

Brat the first:

Brat the second:

Aaron, thoroughly engrossed in the game:

Me, all bundled up:

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Gonna Go For It

Well, after some soul-searching and lots of chats with people who I consider to be pretty darn wise (and several glasses of blackberry merlot), I have decided to pursue the interpreting opportunity. I took my drug screen and had my TB test yesterday, so I am just waiting now for the company to get my results and get all of my information together so that I can get started. I am holding off on giving notice with my current job for now until I have a firm start date, just in case this really IS too good to be true. I guess that I just realized that if I am going to spend time away from my husband and daughter, I had better make sure that I am making the most of that time. So, for those that gave advice, thank you. It was a big help!

And, speaking of spending time away from loved ones, I am remembering this week why I hated being in a long distance relationship. Aaron left for a week-long business trip on Sunday, and I am missing him terribly. This is the first time we have been apart since I moved down to Milwaukee in August, and frankly, it sucks. Yeah, it's only for a week and then he's back for good, but I guess I was getting used to being able to see him every day and it has been awesome. I'll think twice before feeling annoyed the next time he gives me a tutorial on folding his polo shirts.

Sorry, things got a little heavy there for a moment. To lighten things up, here's a cute pic of Gracie. Enjoy!!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Here we go again...

I have been having a career crisis of sorts for the past year or so. I am a Spanish teacher by training, but my favorite job so far has actually been in sales. I worked for three years for a paper company up in the Fox Valley as an account manager, and I absolutely loved it. I loved the people and the company's culture, it was challenging, and, most of the time, it was rewarding. Unfortunately, during my last year of employment at this company, management changed and things went downhill quickly. I ended up leaving just a little over a year ago and I have been bouncing around ever since.

As much as I loved my job in sales, there was one thing missing. In my entire three years working for this company, I only used my Spanish-speaking skills a handful of times, and that made me sad. After all, I worked so hard in high school and college and as a teacher to improve and hone my skills, and I found that the phrase "use it or lose it" applied to my situation. I was rapidly losing my skills, so my new career goal was to find a position where I would be using Spanish at least half of the time.

So, I was offered a position as a recruiter with a staffing company. I was told when I was hired that I would be using my Spanish skills as a large number of this company's hires were Spanish speakers. Well, this turned out to be true, much to my delight, and I congratulated myself on a brilliant life decision. Unfortunately, about six months later, the company transferred me to another branch out in the middle of NOWHERE, and although the move was a step up for me career-wise and meant that I would be using Spanish at least 90% of the time, I just wasn't at a point in my personal life where I could relocate to a place where I would be far away from both my family and from Aaron. It just didn't make sense for me and for Gracie.

Back to square one. I found a great position with an interpreting company in the Fox Valley as a medical interpreter. Perfect! I would be using my Spanish skills all day, every day, and as a bonus, I would be helping people out and making a difference in the world. And, I loved the job. The only problem was that the position was in Appleton, and Aaron was in Milwaukee. Here we were planning a wedding and we still had no firm plans to actually be living in the same city by the wedding date. We tried to work out a compromise wherein we would live halfway between Appleton and Milwaukee and we could both keep our jobs. It sounded like it would work until we went apartment hunting and I realized immediately that neither one of us would have been happy with this arrangement. We each would have been commuting over an hour each day, and we would be moving to a small town that didn't have anything to offer either of us. The only solution that made sense was for Grace and me to move to Milwaukee. So, I left my interpreting job behind in Appleton and left for Milwaukee without having a new job lined up.

This brings us to the present. Readers of my blog know that I took a position as a recruiter with a marketing firm about two months ago, and I have been less than happy. I'm find myself in another position where I am never using my Spanish skills, which is even more of a crime now after being an interpreter and having worked really hard to learn even more stuff. I guess the job would be okay if I at least enjoyed the climate in the office or derived any sort of enjoyment or fulfillment out of it at all. I just don't. It's not for me, and I took the position because I felt like I needed to bring money into the household to take some pressure off of Aaron. I realize now that he really wasn't feeling pressure to begin with and that taking a job for that reason was a bad idea.

I realize this situation is my own fault. By nature I am quick to jump into things without putting a whole lot of thought into it, and I realize looking back that this is what I have done more than once over the past year. I know now that I should have sat down with Aaron and thought about the big picture before jumping from job to job. I guess if I had done that, I would have moved to Milwaukee a year ago and found an interpreting job here. Hindsight is 20/20.

Aaron, being the caring husband that he is, has noticed my unhappiness and my mini-panic attacks every Sunday night before having to go back to work on Monday, and he took some steps to help me out. One of his coworkers has siblings that work for an interpreting firm here in Milwaukee, and he got me a name and phone number for the agency's owner. I had an interview and skills test with this company on Friday, and I was offered a position with the company as a medical interpreter. I could make my own hours, work as much or as little as I would like, and make quite a bit more money than I am at my current position. And, I would be in a job where I would be both using my Spanish and making a difference again.

So, here I am, wanting desperately to take this offer but worrying that changing jobs yet again will leave a horrible black mark on my resume. Lately, I have resigned myself to the idea that I might always be one of those people that hates their job but does it anyway out of a sense of duty. Problem is, I don't want to be one of those people and frankly, I feel like I deserve more.

I need to make a decision soon, because I don't want this opportunity to pass me by, and I don't want this hanging over my head forever. I think I'll have a glass of wine now and think things over a bit.