Feeding My Baby Sugar

September 10, 2010

One of the things I checked out when we toured Merida before we moved was the baby food aisle as Connor was soon going to start on cereal and then move on to solids. I was thrilled to see Gerber brand baby food jars on the shelves and delighted that there were local favorites like mango and papaya. They didn’t have Gerber boxed cereals but they did have Nestle, so I felt good about the selection I would have for Connor. Granted, I know I should have been ready to assimilate more but I wouldn’t have been able to read all of the local brand labels in Spanish so, being slightly overprotective on what my baby eats, I was relieved that I wasn’t going to have to fret over what I was feeding Connor, after all it was Gerber.

However, I still packed up a box of baby foods and cereals to take with us on the airplane. I wanted a few weeks supply so I wouldn’t have to worry about trying to read any labels right away as I knew I was going to be overwhelmed with all of the other things we had to buy and figure out. We first ran out of fruits and vegetables so I went to the grocery store to buy some. The vegetable section seemed quite limited but was workable. They had mixed vegetables, carrots and peas but there were no green beans, sweet potatoes, and squash, which my other two had loved. They had a couple of other combinations though so I bought what I could and grabbed some fruits and went on my merry way.

Then one day I ran out of the Gerber cereal we brought with us so I bought some of the Nestle canned cereal. I opened the first can of oatmeal and thought “hmm, this smells sweet.” Connor didn’t like it very well so I opened another kind we bought (I wasn’t going to throw the other away; I just wanted to see if there was one that he wouldn’t fight me on). “Hmm,” I thought, “this smells sweet too.” I didn’t remember baby cereal ever smelling sweet so I tried to read the labels. I was surprised to see that the second or third ingredient on both cans was in fact sugar. So, I looked at the labels of the Gerber fruits and vegetables and they had sugar added too. Now, I try to really watch how much sugar my kids eat, so I was taken a back by the fact that sugar was added to all of these things. I cross-checked the US Gerber site just to make sure that sugar wasn’t added to the products I was use to buying Stateside. I was relieved to find that sugar wasn’t listed as an ingredient on the web site of the foods I checked, but frustrated that it was on the jars of food sitting in our pantry. NUTS!!

Back at the store, I read (or best I could read) the back of all of the labels of the baby food jars. Most of them listed sugar but then I saw some Heinz brand baby foods that advertised “sin azucar” (without sugar). I bought what I could and called my mom who was soon coming to visit to place my order. She brought down several boxes of cereal, some of the fruits I couldn’t get without sugar, and some of the old standby vegetables that we had fed Griffin and Abbie. A friend FedEx-ed a few cereal boxes to us to get us through until my mom arrived. We also fast tracked Connor to eating “real” food. I would have never dreamed of doing such a thing with my first-born but I’ve found I’m a little more lax with Connor on some things . . and he’s turning out just fine!

I’m still not sure why all of the Gerber things had sugar added when they don’t in the States. Maybe it has something to do with local tastes but even then, that doesn’t really make sense to me. Anyway, with the help of a few friends and family, Connor made it through and I didn’t feel like I was feeding my baby boy straight sugar (okay, so I can be a little dramatic at times).


Honoring Moms

September 2, 2010

One of the things I admire about the culture in Merida is the importance they put on family. Extended families get together on Sundays for meals and laughter. Whole families celebrate birthdays. Heads of families are esteemed. And, wow, moms get the royal treatment on Mother’s Day.

Mother’s Day is celebrated on May 10, no matter what day of the week it lands on. This year, it just happened to be the day after the US celebrated Mother’s Day. Although we were in Merida, we did the usual brunch out for our Mother’s Day with homemade cards from the kids (my favorite!). I hadn’t thought much about the Yucatan Mother’s Day until I drove Griffin to school on Monday. The streets were lined with vendors selling flowers. There was everything from giant sunflowers to more traditional looking roses. It was fun to see everyone out buying flowers for moms – it felt like the whole city was celebrating.

Griffin’s school had signs up wishing all the mothers a wonderful day and he brought a present he had made for me when I picked him up. Many schools actually had programs for mothers that day too; it just happened that Griffin’s didn’t. Sofie told me that the men in her church went around town to serenade all of their wives and mothers. Ryan’s company even had a special meal for moms with a small gift for each one.

The kids were most entertained by the festivities in Wal-Mart. The Wal-Mart closest to our house in Merida had hired a mariachi band to serenade all of their employees who were mothers. The moms were sung to and then given flowers by a man who I assume must have been a manager. They walked around to every department. The kids loved it (they danced along) so we were groupies and followed them for a bit. Of course, the one day I forget my camera!

I didn’t see anything over the top or absurdly grandiose that day but it was just a lot of small little gestures that made it feel like a special time for the women in Merida. More so, it felt like the whole community was celebrating moms. What a neat day!

A Birthday Party Like No Other

August 24, 2010

Towards the end of the school year Griffin was invited to a birthday party for one of his classmates. He was so excited to go but I was quite nervous. I usually look forward to chatting with other moms at such events but I still couldn’t hold an intelligent, fluid conversation in Spanish (more than “Como estas?” and other small talk type stuff). My apprehensiveness melted away though as I watched Griffin have a ball interacting with his buddies from school. I was impressed with his ability to communicate in both Spanish and English and to just jump in and play. Plus, I was totally mesmerized by the set up of this birthday party.

Griffin and I arrived shortly after the party started at 5. We were the first ones there, which wasn’t surprising . . . nothing here seems to start on time. Most of the other guests didn’t arrive until after 5:30 but there was plenty to keep Griffin and the birthday boy entertained! The parents had rented a bounce house, a foosball table, a putting green, a preschool sized basketball court, a ring toss game, artist easels, a ball tank, and a sound system that played shows of “Ben 10” (the party theme). “Holy cow!” I thought but that was nothing compared to what happened next.

Shortly after 6 an MC starts talking into the microphone. I only understood a bit of what he was saying but all the kids went to the front and sat on chairs. I quickly sent a text to Ryan “There’s an MC at this party!” as I was surprised that on top of all the fun games, there was an MC. That wasn’t all though! The MC soon introduced “Ben 10” and a costumed character walks out. Then three other costumed characters join him (I don’t know their names as we’ve never watched the cartoon but then learned Griffin had at school but that’s another story). So, for the next maybe 45 minutes, the MC and four characters entertain the kids with dancing, songs, games and contests. Griffin was out of control dancing and laughing and the characters seemed to take a liking to the wild little gringo. Anyway, as we were watching one of the other moms said “He’s having so much fun! Hasn’t he ever been to a party like this?” She then filled me in (yeah! she spoke excellent English so I could easily chat with her without floundering for words) and apparently, this kind of party is very typical with entertainers and lots of games and activities for the kids.

After some more open play time and dinner, it was time for the piñata. When Griffin heard this it was like a crazed fever took him over. He ran around to the different spots where people gathered yelling “Pinata! Pinata!” And, not just yelling, but this little guy was so excited he was doubled over screaming. I tried to chase after him to calm him down but I just stopped in the middle and started laughing aloud as I watched my little man run around like a maniac. I truly had to look like a crazy lady laughing out loud by myself in the middle of the yard but I couldn’t help it.

Of course, this was an authentic piñata event! There’s a song the crowd sings as each child took his turn swinging the bat at the character (so different than the pull string piñatas we’ve had at our preschool parties). I feared someone was surely going to get clubbed accidentally but no one did and Griffin gathered his bag of sweets.

I was an hour late already to be at home to put Connor to bed so somehow I convinced Griffin to go before the cake and presents (it was already past Griffin’s normal bedtime too). Bribing with a treat from the piñata may have been involved.

What a fun night! My husband learned from co-workers that birthdays are BIG deals here . . . it’s a day to celebrate you! Even as you get older and become adult, family and friends still gather around you to celebrate your special day. Personally, I love birthdays and try to go all out for my husband and kids. Granted, it’s never been quite such a production like this party we attended but the intent is the same . . . shower the birthday kid with fun on their special day.

Blondie Ballerina

August 19, 2010

I made two different attempts to enroll Abbie in a dance class in Merida. She had taken lessons before we moved and loved it. We thought maybe it would be a nice transitional piece for her – something she had enjoyed “at our snowy home” and would still able to do now that we were in Mexico. (The kids always referred to our house in Minnesota as our snowy home, even after the snow had all melted back in the States).

My first try was at the gym we joined in Merida. They had a great kids center that not only provided daycare while we worked out but had programming that included swimming lessons, dance classes, Tae Kwan Do, and other organized activities. I was forewarned though that the dance teacher and staff in the kids center only spoke Spanish but that it was okay that Abbie started classes.

I decided to watch her first class from behind the frosted glass window to see how it went. It was an open class for all ages but most of the girls were probably around 6 or 7. The other little dancers were intrigued by the new little blondie. I started to get nervous though as one girl tried to pick up Abbie in a cradle position like she was a baby doll. Abbie wobbled and almost fell backward on her head. I could see Abbie started to feel uncomfortable as the little girl kept trying to pick her up or tried to move her feet into different positions. Abbie almost fell over several times but wasn’t sure what to say so just stared at the girl.

I was antsy watching and I knew Abbie was uncomfortable so I tried to go in and tell the staff what was going on. Sadly, I wasn’t able to communicate what was happening. My Spanish was still very poor at this time. I think they thought I wanted to go in the room to watch which wasn’t allowed. Fortunately the class then ended. I tried to also then talk to the teacher but she was slightly annoyed at my broken Spanish, well, at least that was my feeling. I left disheartened and decided maybe Abbie should just try the gym’s swimming lessons since Griffin was really enjoying his classes.

After a few months, I decided we should look into a dance class for Abbie again. Griffin had school as “his thing” and I think Abbie was longing for something to be “her thing.” I had seen a dance studio close to our house that advertised “Open Enrollments.” I know in the States students don’t usually start in the late spring but wasn’t sure how it worked in Merida so hoped maybe they did take new students year round. An HR specialist at my husband’s work previously offered to help with such things, so I contacted her to see if she would be wiling to call the dance studio and find out some more information. A few weeks passed and I hadn’t heard back from her so one night I loaded up Abbie and headed to the dance studio. By then I figured I could stumble through a conversation and hoped that maybe someone there would speak a little English and together we could figure it out. No such luck on finding someone there who spoke English, but I was able to find out everything I needed to know. The woman at the dance studio was very nice and patient with my limited Spanish. She explained a little and then said to just have my husband call her and she would give him more detailed information. I laughed and said my husband’s Spanish was worse than mine! She smiled and said we could just come the next day for a trial class.

Abbie loved the class. She was able to easily follow along with the other students and smiled for the whole hour. Luckily, we were able to sign her up for the rest of the current term which ended in June. She loved taking the classes and the other little girls were very nice and easily befriended her. The only problem with the dance class was that the studio wasn’t air-conditioned. Griffin, Connor and I sat to watch Abbie twice a week in class with only a ceiling fan to keep us cool in well over 100 degree temperatures! We were all red faced and hot by the end of class – several times I stripped Connor down to his diaper to keep him cool. But, Abbie loved the class, talked about it nonstop and practiced at the house.

Instead of a recital, the studio held a public viewing during the last class at a larger dance studio. The girls wore black leotards, pink tights and were to have their hair in a bun (with her baby fine hair Abbie had the world’s smallest bun!).

Enrolling Abbie in this dance class was a big win for me. I felt I finally found something for Abbie that was missing. I also was thrilled that I was able to figure it all out by myself in Spanish. That’s not to say that I am anywhere near fluent or even intelligent sounding in Spanish but I at least got done what I needed to do. It was so frustrating to feel so limited in what we could and couldn’t do because of my inability to communicate so, yeah, finally, score for me!

A Must See if You are Going to the Yucatan

August 10, 2010

I don’t think I could really have an authentic blog about having lived in the Yucatan without talking about the Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza. (I know I previously mentioned that we like Uxmal better than Chichen Itza but these ruins are still super spectacular and definitely worthy of a visit).

We’ve actually been to Chichen Itza twice. The first time we took my mother-in-law when she came down to help us settle in. We figured we should show her something other than the inside of our house in Merida and Wal-Mart on her first trip to Mexico! We also took my mom and my aunt one day as we passed through on our way to Cancun.

Even though we took the guided tour each time, our visits were totally different. The first time it was quite gloomy and our Mayan guide kept telling us “it’s going to rain in 75 minutes,” “50 more minutes until it rains,” and “we should continue on as it’s going to rain in 20 minutes.” He was spot on! As our tour ended, it started to sprinkle and then rain. I am glad he was quite the weatherman as it would have been hard to sprint the grounds with three kids in tow! The second time we went we got to see a whole different area of the grounds. It was a beautiful day and we could have explored the site for hours, however, the kids weren’t up for it. They were concentrating on the ice cream back at the tourism center.

Our trips to Chichen Itza are definitely worthy of a slideshow so I hope you enjoy the following photos but I also wanted to share some fun facts about the ruins. It was visiting truly awesome places like this that made me wish our kids were older to be able to remember (and appreciate) the places we get to visit. But, anyway, here’s some noteworthy tidbits from our visits:

1) As late as the 1970s there was a highway that ran right by the iconic “El Castillo” pyramid. Can you imagine driving down the Interstate and looking out your window to see a giant Mayan pyramid right off the road? Maybe I am in such awe being a Mid-Westerner who normally sees barns and cornfields driving across the states.
2) The Mayans had built a road away from the grounds by the pyramid and had painted it white so that the moon would reflect off of it and light their way.
3) The “ball courts” on the Mayan ruin sites were not meant for sport but were a religious ritual.
4) The acoustics they incorporated into the structures at Chichen Itza are truly AMAZING. For example, at the ball court, the teams’ high priests sat on opposite ends of the playing area but because of the acoustics they were able to talk to each other from their designated spots (more than 500 feet apart). The sounds echoed back and forth.
5) The Mayans did not predict the world would end in 2012. In a nutshell, it’s the end of a calendar period, not the end of the world.

Chichen Itza is an easy day trip from Cancun so if you’re planning a vacation there, look into taking one of the many bus tours out to this ruins site. Better yet, look for one that incorporates a stop at a nearby cenote. It’s truly fascinating and worth missing a day on the beach (and I love the beach so I don’t say this lightly).

My First Cooking Lesson

July 22, 2010

The first meal Sofie taught me how to make in Merida was chicken fajitas. My Spanish was still very poor at the time so to learn, I basically just watched because if I had a question, I wasn’t sure how to ask it! We made it through the lesson and although I was admittedly skeptical about trying them, they turned out to be fantastic! My hang up was how she cooked the chicken as usually in the States I think of fajitas as having grilled or seared meat, but she boiled the chicken! And, of course, there was no “fajita seasoning” packet involved. So, if you read this and are skeptical like me, please make an adventure of it and try them. They are wonderful and super easy to make! My caveat to the recipe is that there is no actual recipe with exact measurements, there’s a lot of winging it involved and you just have to cook them once and then make adjustments the second time you try them! No worries though, I’ve found there’s a lot of fudge room so no matter what, they still turn out good!

Sofie’s Fajitas
1 to 1 ½ pounds of boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 sour oranges*
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/3 – ½ pack of bacon, sliced into small pieces
Chicken bouillon
2 green peppers, sliced into strips
1 onion, sliced into strips

Cut up chicken breasts into bite sized chunks. Squeeze the juice of 2 sour oranges over the chicken chunks. (*I don’t know if you’ll be able to find sour oranges or “naranja agria” in the States. If not, Sofie said to use limes but be careful because they are much more sour than a sour orange would be so use more sparingly). Salt and pepper chicken to your liking and set aside.

Saute onions and green peppers in a bit of butter. When they are close to being done, add in the sliced bacon bits and cook until done. Then add the chicken chunks to the onion/pepper mixture. Add in some water, you don’t want to cover the mixture but just have enough to cook it. Add chicken bouillon to water and boil until the chicken is done. Keep an eye on the pan as you may need to add more water.

Serve in tortillas.

I have made these for my family many times and they are a hit even with the kids (of course, they refuse to eat “the green things” though). I also served them to my brother’s family and my sister’s family when they visited and everyone looked at me funny while I made them but loved them after trying them. It’s not a traditional recipe so you have to play around with it a bit especially if you can’t find sour oranges (although check the International section of the grocery store shelves because I have seen bottled sour orange juice in Merida) but I encourage you to make an adventure of it and try cooking Sofie’s fajitas!

The Help

July 13, 2010

Have you read “The Help” by Kathyrn Stockett? The book, which is set in Mississippi during the civil rights movement, tells the story of a young white woman who wants to be a journalist and is advised to write about something that disturbs her. So, she enlists the help of several black maids in her town to write a book about their experiences working for people who trust them to raise their children but not polish the silverware. I thought it was fabulous so if you’re a reader, I would highly recommend it, but maybe I loved it so much because I now have a different perspective on having domestic help. Granted the circumstances are very different and the relationship is very different, but the book did make me think about having someone work in your own home.

You see, we have two women who come to help with the housework on alternating weekdays (only one is here at a time). Sofie comes two days a week and Sandra, who is Sofie’s daughter-in-law, comes here the other weekdays. It sounds so odd to say we have household help but honestly locals look at me like I’m crazy when I say that we have help but not a nanny. Here, it would be totally normal for me to have someone to do the housework and then someone else to help with the kids. But, I feel that taking care of my kids is my job and I love it.

Sofie and Sandra don’t speak any English so we’ve had a few problems communicating but it’s getting easier. My Spanish is improving and we’ve kind of gotten in a groove where if I’m stumbling for words they can guess what I am thinking. I can understand more than I can speak so sometimes it’s easier if they jump in and then I can say “yes that’s it” or I can go on to try to explain things better.

Friends from home have wondered what they would possibly do since we have help 5 days a week but honestly if you could see the floors here, you would understand. I don’t know how, but the floors are so dirty here. Sofie and Sandra sweep and mop everyday and then the next day they do it again and still get a pile of dirt in the dustpan. It amazes me. I know the house isn’t quality construction but it still amazes me that the dirt accumulates so fast on these tile floors. Honestly, it’s bad! Sofie and Sandra didn’t start until a month after we moved in and although I tried my best, I just couldn’t keep the floors clean! We had to wash the kids feet every night because they would just be black from walking around inside the house. So gross!

We were so blessed in finding Sofie and Sandra to help us. They are two fabulous, kind and very sweet women. I’ve heard though that we really lucked out as not all help here is as wonderful as these two women. They’ve helped me with my Spanish, they adore the kids and the kids adore them, they do a great job tending to the house, and they’ve taught me how to cook a few Yucatecan meals. Hmm . . . I think it’s time to share a recipe . . . I’ll start working on that for my next blog . . . who’s hungry for a new twist on fajitas?

The Money Pit

July 1, 2010

Have you seen “The Money Pit?” It’s an 80s movie where Walter (Tom Hanks) and Anna (Shelley Long) go house hunting and find a great deal on a beautiful mansion. It was a fabulous house until they moved in . . . as they enter their new home the front door falls off, then the staircase collapses, then the bathtub falls through the floor, etc. Well, that’s our house in Merida. Honestly, I’m not writing this to whine though. The problems have gotten so ridiculous that I now just laugh (granted, it’s kind of a crazed laugh, but it’s a laugh nonetheless). Anyway, here’s our version of “The Money Pit”:

1) Ryan came down the week before the rest of us only to find two toilets were broken and the pool had a leak in it.

2) The morning after we moved in, I was greeted at breakfast by a scorpion walking out from our pantry. It was the first of many scorpions, large spiders, cockroaches, etc. that we’ve encountered in this house.

3) We discovered that a majority of the doors and window casings were so poorly constructed that you could see daylight through them, which led to other problems (see bullet above).

4) After trying to dry a load of towels several times, we discovered that the dryer vent was piped through the wall into a very small crawl space so the heat really had no where to go so the dryer was more or less useless.

5) Our stove leaked gas and we had to argue with the landlord’s plumber that it was not normal to smell so much gas when you turned it on. We ended up having to hire a different plumber who said that all six gas valves on the stove were shot.

6) The first time it rained after we moved in we discovered our house is like Swiss cheese. My son’s room had water cascading down the walls only to pool on the floor and soak his small rug, a crack in our bathroom ceiling dripped like a second shower, a steady stream of water poured from an upstairs cable box, a river flooded under our laundry room door and one window redirected the rain onto our kitchen floor.

7) Instead of central air, we have several wall A/C units. As the kids and I played one day shortly after we started needing the air, one unit started spitting small ice chunks out at us.

8 ) Twice now, I’ve gone to turn the water faucets only to find we have no water. The first time it was because a small valve at the front of the house had gotten turned off somehow (which surprised the person who identified the problem because such a crucial valve was placed so illogically). The second time it was because the water pump burnt out.

The craziest part of all of this is that in Mexico, the renters are in charge of all maintenance, not the landlords. I’ve had to muddle my way through conversations with numerous repairmen in my limited Spanish. Fortunately, the maintenance staff at my husband’s work have gone above and beyond to help us solve some of these problems. I am pretty sure we might have gone crazy a few times without their help.

Now, there’s a lesson for us in dealing with The Money Pit, I’m just not sure what it is . . . maybe it’s to be thankful for a job done right the first time, maybe it’s to really appreciate your home, maybe it’s to be sure your kids pay attention in their foreign language class as you never know when they might need it, or maybe that it’s we should all go above and beyond to help people because you just don’t know how much your help really means to them.

Wrapping Up the School Year

June 27, 2010

Griffin is actually still in school. June 29 is his last day. A week ago his school had its end of school year festival. These festivals are a BIG deal here . . not a little choir concert or 5 minute show. It’s like a theatrical production with acting, singing and dancing. We had to order a costume and pay a theater rental fee. Every school here does them. A mom from another school in Merida told me her 3 year old daughter even had costume fittings. Like I said, these festivals are a BIG deal.

Griffin’s school did the musical The Wizard of Oz. I was totally in awe as I watched, especially considering the cast was made up of 2-7 year old kids (although I guess a teacher did play the Wicked Witch). Anyway, the oldest kids at Griffin’s school are in Kinder 3 (equivalent to maybe first graders). They played the main characters but then Griffin’s class was dressed as duplicates. Griffin was a lion (and I must say, the cutest little lion ever!).

Griffin's lion debut. The 'Single Lady' Dorothys are in the background ready to begin.

I’m not even sure how to explain how they did the production but it was fairly high tech. They had a movie screen at the back of the stage that they played clips from the movie on and other special effect videos for the backdrop. Depending on the scene, they would have various props on stage. The main characters lip synced the story (in Spanish of course) and then would pause and each class would do their part in the play. For instance, Dorothy and Toto came on and did the little “We aren’t in Kansas anymore” scene and then the youngest children at the school, maybe 1 ½- 2 ½ year olds, who were all dressed as Toto did a little dance to “Who Let the Dogs Out.” It was too cute! I took pictures even though it wasn’t my child!! The story went on from there with the kids lip syncing and then different characters/classes dancing to songs. I was extremely impressed with the kids ability to lip sync and act out their parts – they were only maybe max of 7! Abbie was glued to the program the whole time and Connor even cooperated.

Griffin talked about the program, his “lion dance,” for months. He would show me bits of his part in the play but his favorite was to show us the dance to Beyonce’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” song that a group of girls dressed up as Dorothy danced too.

It’s been a good school year for Griffin. I am so proud of him. He has been such a trooper. He’s accomplished the two main reasons we started him in school here. He’s been much happier as he has friends at school so he’s getting the socialization he needs. And, Spanish is already floating in and out of his vocabulary as he effortlessly says things like “Cual quieres mommy (Which do you want)?” as we sit down to play.

It’s My Turn For A Temper Tantrum

June 21, 2010

Shortly after we moved to Merida, I realized that my happiness level was directly correlated to the number of “creatures” I found in our house. Finding ants makes my happiness level dip. Seeing a scorpion walk across the floor makes it plummet. I am sad to report that in the past few weeks my barometer has been quite low.

Roughly two weeks ago, I saw a snake on our front door step. This was the same day I found a cockroach in my beach bag. Since then, my husband saw a cockroach crawl under Connor’s crib but by the time he tried to hunt it down, it had disappeared. Within 15 minutes we found two cockroaches in my husband’s dresser (I saw the first one on the side of the drawer as he pulled it open to get out a pair of shorts). He tried to pass it off that one of those must have been the same one in Connor’s room but I doubt it. Then yesterday I found a tarantula (slightly smaller than the one on Home Alone) literally right outside our front door. Today as I was pulling open my drawer to get some socks for the gym, Ryan saw a cockroach on the side of my drawer. After pulling apart the dresser, he found another one. And these aren’t tiny cockroaches – think tropical climate 3+ inch cockroaches. All of these cases follow countless others (large spiders, scorpions, geckos, beetles, cockroaches, ants, centipedes, millipedes, and more that I just can’t identify) but these are just the most recent. I am just not a bug person – seeing a few ants back home last summer led me to buy ant traps, new cleaning supplies and a Broom Vac. I am seriously at the point of tears.

I know I could find an exterminator here that could get rid of all these little pests as I think the DEET allowance is unregulated. The problem is however that the toxicity would be too high for my comfort level. Our attempts to manage the critters as safely as possible for the kids (spraying only the outside of the house, mopping daily, limiting food to the kitchen) don’t seem to really be working. I fear the upcoming rainy season because I’ve heard it only increases these unwanted guests.

If I could only now throw a temper tantrum like my toddlers . . . I know it won’t get me anywhere because hers don’t either but maybe parents deserve to have a temper tantrum once in awhile as we too get to the point of overwhelmingly frustrated. It’s my turn.