Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The best part about Vancouver

When in Vancouver back in June/July we stayed in a cute apartment a bit out of the city. Vancouver was rated the top quality of life city last year and housing costs rate accordingly. This apartment was $67/night, extremely high as far as rents for a studio go. It was in the middle of a hill. A view like this one:

 vancouver view 

was at the bottom of the hill and a grocery store with the most wonderfully high quality produce at the top. Vancouver is a total foodie city, especially if you like Asian food. In addition, it’s very green. Jacob took me to a vegan restaurant called Gorilla Food (pictured below). In comparison, I have to say that Mexico City is actually not vegetarian friendly overall, despite the fact that it’s very easy to make vegetarian Mexican food by substituting meat with beans or cheese. People in D.F. LOVE their carne!

gorilla food

At the travel bloggers conference we attended in Vancouver, we received free tickets to a food convention going on in the same building. It was soooo amazing—thousands of vendors showcasing the latest in kitchenware and with plenty of tasty tidbits to try. Well, we went for broke and bought the Bamix 391200 Hand Mixer DeLuxe White v. It’s a blender that can chop and grind and with the right add ons, even grate cheese and slice potatoes. We use it daily, and although we were assured it is dual voltage it is not, so we bought a big clunking converter that weighs 15 pounds. We don’t need to use the converter here in Mexico.


It was in Vancouver that I started cooking up a storm, and I realized something. It’s funny: I denied myself the pleasure of cooking for my husband because of very strong opinions I have about gender roles and men who don’t help out in the kitchen. Jacob did most of the cooking during our dating life and early marriage. But, there’s something very fulfilling and enjoyable to make food for your husband,  and I relished the opportunity, for what was almost the first time, to cook nightly for Jacob while watching Office episodes. I made a lot of fish—an ingredient Jacob and I can agree on. In those 3 weeks or so, I discovered that the freshness of the produce along with the right blend of spices really can be what makes a dish. I’m told that the freshness of the spice is actually the ultimate flavor enhancer—instead, I’ve opted to carry around in our luggage bags of spices because I never know in a certain destination if they’ll have the spice I want and that would be annoying.

Anyway here in Mexico I’ve decided enough with the variety, I need several dishes and websites I KNOW and can count on in the event I want to have people over. I’m used to trying out new things all the time, but I am ready to have some tried-and-true dinners. What are your resources/favorite dishes for guests? I like allrecipes because it has so many reviewers you can start to tell the good recipes from the bad, but I’d like to know what has worked for other, more experienced cooks. I’ve been using the crockpot here in Mexico just about every night. The produce in Mexico City has not been the freshest, and fish certainly isn’t its forte, but between the Bodega Aurrera (corner grocery), the 7/11, the local market, and Walmart, I’ve been able to get just about anything I could want living downtown in what has been ranked the second biggest city in the world, which isn’t too shabby. I just have to go every couple of days, because I can only bring home what I can carry in my backpack. I guess that is the only time I would prefer having a car. Then again, I could always load up a taxi.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Viva Mexico! And a tribute to Value Place

We went to the Ballet Folklorico at Bellas Artes last night. First we went to a soup and salad place for dinner and I ordered a queso panela sandwich and they gave me a cheese sandwich with jam and lettuce on crumbly wheat bread. It didn’t taste nearly as good as it sounds. Despite sitting up in the Galeria in the opera house, the view was pretty good. It was 300 pesos per ticket. I had to laugh because the baby started kicking right at the end as the dancers started shouting “Viva Mexico!”

women with gunslasso


huge dancers


The baby is already a loyal Mexican and he is probably going to like Mexican music. If you believe that babies like the music they hear in the womb.

In other news, we were in an earthquake a few days ago. We woke up to looking out the window and seeing the building we live in swaying like a tree in the breeze. It’s a huge apartment complex made up of several towers with an empty courtyard in the middle of it. We hopped out of bed and almost ran out of the room in our underwear. Then we changed our minds, grabbed pants and jackets, and I grabbed two bananas (food is always on my mind.) Then we ran down all 8 flights of stairs in our bare feet. For some reason I wasn’t scared. I have since decided that it’s because we stay at Value Place in American Fork, Utah. Every single time we stay there, there is either a suicide, flood, or fire that involves calling ambulances and evacuating the building. It’s just par for the course. It’s gotten to the point where we just ignore the sirens going off, when we’re there. Turns out this time was nothing to worry about, either.

Thank you, Value Place, for helping me to keep my calm!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Third trimester begins


At the Mexico City anthropological museum in front of the Mayan calendar. I went with a couple ladies from Church.

As a follow up to my last couple of posts, I guess I should clarify that being pregnant is just about the most vulnerable I’ve ever been, which is a bit scary. Despite my best efforts, I can’t really control the outcome. That’s motherhood in a nutshell anyway, isn’t it? I could have an autistic baby, a mentally handicapped baby, a stillborn baby. I could freak out about my diet, sleep habits, toxins in my environment, and every odd change that goes on with my body. My first trimester was spent doing some of this. Especially as I wanted to doubt myself and our ability to continue our lifestyle which I love so much. And because I don’t know what it will be like to be a mom.

But I really believe this: depression is caused by living in the past…anxiety is caused by looking at the future…and peace is found by living in the present. By choosing to live in the present, do my best with what I can now,  and accept that if there are difficulties in the future I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it has helped my pregnancy be much easier.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Why Mexico City?


Why did I choose Mexico to have a baby?

A popular reaction seems to be, “Why not France?” It seems France sounds like the ideal place to have a baby to many people—and it probably is, although I think all things considered I would choose a German speaking country first, but anyway here was my reasoning.

We have international health insurance that covers every country in the world but the US. Adding the US would triple the annual cost. And no, it’s not because US health care is triple the value. US infant mortality rate is the highest of any of the developed nations. So there was no question we would have a baby there without health insurance; a birth abroad was the way to go.

Well, the decision had to be made fairly quickly. I thought it would be a nice gift to give our child dual citizenship. To see which countries offer that, visit here:

It’s mostly countries in the western hemisphere, plus Pakistan, Cambodia, and Fiji. I thought Pakistan and Cambodian citizenship sounded more like a liability than an asset, and Fiji isn’t renowned for its excellent healthcare.

So it was narrowed down to Uruguay, Canada, Costa Rica, and Mexico. None of the Caribbean had high enough quality healthcare to satisfy me. Uruguay was an awfully long flight away (something like 13 hours) to try without having ever visited it before. Canada’s hospitals told me, reserving in October, I might be able to get a midwife in time for June—I was on a waiting list. No thanks.

That left Costa Rica and Mexico. I found a good-sounding doctor, Dr Adam Paer Singer in Costa Rica, who offered water births to American expats. I was leaning toward that option over Mexico because of safety concerns but I left the choice up to Jacob. He thought Mexico sounded more interesting with more choices. Escazu, Costa Rica with population 15,000 did not sound so enticing to either of us.

That left deciding which city in Mexico. Mexico had a lot of options; but which was the best?

I knew one thing—I needed a good social network. In Guadeloupe no one spoke a word of English and I found that adjusting to being pregnant mentally was a big leap for me. I needed English speaking friends, and fast.

Mexico City, I discovered, had an English-speaking—and liberal, from what I read on one forum—LDS ward. It also had a group called Newcomer’s Club. It had the best hospitals in the country, and an American girl I met online recommended me her doctor. Mexico City’s homicide rate is a quarter that of Atlanta’s or Kansas City’s. Its pollution levels, though still high, were down from the infamous levels they were at 10 years ago.

So, we took the leap. I had made Jacob promise not to tell anyone we were pregnant until we were all settled in. I found that I myself couldn’t keep the secret and I spilled the beans. Since then, we’ve had an outpouring of support. Honestly, the people are so kind here and there are many women that I can look up to.

Furthermore, my family has been amazingly supportive. It was probably unexpected, to find out I was having my baby in Mexico, but if anyone has had reservations they’ve kept them to themselves which I very much appreciate.

I feel good about our situation here, the hospital, the doctor, our friends. We even have a Crockpot and an office. We live almost directly across the street from the opera house; and our dentist, eye doctor, favorite restaurants, phone company, the world famous Zocalo are all within walking distance. It’s maybe as close to settling down as we’ll ever get? We’re very grateful that this leap into Mexico has turned out to be a good choice—so far.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

My #1 Pregnancy Pet Peeve

I used to think it was funny to see the things pregnant women complained about. And I have to say the majority of them don’t bother me.

Things like, being asked if you’re carrying twins, wanting to touch the belly (although no one really asks me that I guess), commenting on belly size, getting advice for the future, etc.

For me, first runner up of things that rub me the wrong way is the joke cracking about how I probably have to pee because I’m pregnant. Or, if I do go to the bathroom, people say, “Of course she has to go! She’s pregnant, after all.”

For whatever reason, I am not going to the bathroom any more than I did before I was pregnant. It just so happens that I actually have to go to the bathroom, pregnant or not.

The thing that seems most universal and therefore what I have increasingly less patience with is the uber-sympathetic “How are you feeling?” I can get asked that as much as ten times per day. Notice the attachment of the word “feeling.” No one just says how are you anymore. It’s how are you feeling, as though they are expecting me to feel bad, when in actuality I feel completely normal. My first trimester I was very tired, it’s true, but after that I have been doing everything I normally do. To get such overwhelming sympathy all of the time would probably be nice if I didn’t feel well, but, I guess I’m lucky and pregnancy turns out to not be so bad. I used to get back aches worse than I do now, but Jacob found me this awesome adjustable desk so I don’t have to sit straight up while working.

As an extension of this is just the worrying people do in general, telling me things I shouldn’t be doing. If there’s one thing I seem to lose patience with, it’s people expressing anxiety about me. I know it’s meant well, but I do much better with people expressing confidence, support, or admiration. The only person I really like to say to me “I was worried about you,” is Jacob.

I’m hoping this is how adjusting to life with a baby will be as well. People have told me over and over the things I won’t be able to do once I have a baby. I want to be as get-up-and-go as ever. Public transportation, frequent flying, new languages, adventure activities—I want to keep doing them all and say—“What? It’s just a baby!” Just like now—I can do everything I could do before with maybe just a little extra huffing and puffing. So far I’ve hiked a volcano, moved to a new country, took 10 flights from the Caribbean to Central America to the US, attended Spanish school, mastered the Mexico City bus system, bargained for groceries in Mexican markets, moved up levels in the Kinect game Dance Central, and ran a couple product launches while pregnant. What? It’s just a little extra belly weight!

hiking guadeloupe

Guadeloupe in the Caribbean

Monday, March 5, 2012

Thoughts on entrepreneurship

zapposFor a while now I have been doing the customer support for The Jump Manual. It’s really strange that I have been able to step in and take Jacob’s spot, but really he created a flawless organized method to do it. So now I am training someone else to take my place.

My Dad gave Jacob this book for Christmas. I ended up reading it, and it turned out to be the perfect training for someone new to customer support.

Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose by Tony Hsieh, CEO of

This book is an autobiography of a self-made millionaire (billionaire?) who started entrepreneurship at a young age. I’ve read it before, and I’ve started to wonder if it’s true: are entrepreneurs born that way or can you become one? Many people believe that not everyone can be one.

I know that I am constantly amazed at how Jacob has this sort of inborn sense of what will and what won’t work in a business. He always has this incredible drive to teach himself new skills and take the business in the right direction. He has always had the vision, like the author says in the book:

“I always fantasized about making money, because to me, money meant that later on in life I would have the freedom to do whatever I wanted. The idea of one day running my own company also meant that I could be creative and eventually live life on my own terms.”

I know that, on my own, I would not have been able to do what he has done. It’s much easier to have someone tell you what to do rather than to start something on your own.

But I’d like to think that entrepreneurs aren’t just born, that they can be trained, too. Because I’ve began to realize there isn’t anything quite like having your own business to develop and take to the next level. Especially as a married couple, it is quite wonderful to have a shared vision and a project that we are always working on together. When we first got married, I barely knew what “SEO” was. Really that meant I didn’t know a large part of what made Jacob tick! Now Jacob can tell me all his ideas and plans and I can actually give meaningful feedback because I know the terminology.

What do you think? Are entrepreneurs born or made? Could anyone be a successful entrepreneur with the right business model?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Thoughts on Osama bin Laden

Note: I wrote this a while ago and never published it…


I got into a discussion with someone who believes that the war in Afghanistan should go on indefinitely on my Facebook page. He unwittingly proved my point exactly by what he said, though he didn’t know it.

My point was that it is dangerous to go to war in a part of the world in which we do not culturally understand. That most Americans do not understand Islam because they do not have Muslim friends. That this war had created a lot of racial prejudice against Muslims. (You know how everyone was freaking out about whether Obama was a Muslim when it was election time? As if that mattered? So what if he were a Muslim?)

This guy responded that he had read the book: “Understanding Arabs” (a textbook written by an American woman) and therefore he was confident that he understood Muslims.

Of all people, I think Mormons should never say something like that. Because one of our biggest pet peeves is to be told what we believe by non-LDS people. There’s a lot of negative propaganda out about Mormons, and even stuff that is not negative is likely to be inaccurate if not actually written by an active member.

I commented on Youtube on Obama’s speech announcing the death of Osama bin Laden:

“I wish that he would go into more detail about why we are at war in Afghanistan, when Osama was actually in Pakistan, and if he really believes that al Queda can be completely destroyed by a land war there when it exists all over the world.”

Someone responded on Youtube: “You ***** idiot, we’re in Afghanistan to kill terrorists and Muslims in general, are you part of al Queda or something?” And that very response, I’m afraid, is not unusual.

Another Facebook conversation I saw completely justified this war because he believed that this was the war between Good and Evil before the Second Coming as prophesied in Revelations—and the Muslims, of course, were the Evil.

The guy who supports the war in Afghanistan kept referencing Captain Moroni from The Book of Mormon which, to be honest, sickened me.

It sickened me because he was using my religion to justify bloodshed of people he did not know.

That doesn’t seem all that different to me than the group of Muslims who use their religion and the Koran to justify war against the west.

I could have a religious reply, but I really don’t like quoting scriptures back and forth—it reminds me of the amusingly self righteous editorials in the Provo newspaper.

It’s one thing to suggest that maybe—maybe--religiously you are justified to go to war, but unfortunately it seems most religious people don’t suggest it. They are supremely confident that they are correct with the confidence which comes from having God support you—the scriptures say so, or so they believe. This is true of many different sects. Christianity is, it seems, no different.

That saddens me.

Maybe—I don’t know for sure, of course—maybe God doesn’t take sides of wars—maybe God would rather we found another way of working things out than killing each other.

In any event, I wish people would leave religion out of whether we should be at war. Otherwise I could become quite cynical on religion being a negative rather than a positive social force. Because when people are fighting because they believe God wants them to, that’s a very powerful motivation, whether you are Muslim or Christian or Jewish. And that seems to spur fighting on rather than realizing that maybe neither side is “right.”

Anyway, read this article for a Muslim perspective on the killing of Osama bin Laden:

The US Needs to Focus on Not Creating Any More bin Ladens

American Muslim Voice founder Samina Sundas on her reactions to the killing of Osama bin Laden

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