Monday, January 31, 2011

Eggs Don't Come From Cartons

And chicken doesn't come from a package.  And, your chicken nuggets most likely aren't even chicken!  This blog has been inspired by two great friends of mine, Katherine and Parvati, with whom I've had the privilege of having real adult english-speaking conversations with the last two days.  Thank you ladies.  Something I got from both of these conversations is how grateful I am that my daughter, Liliana, is currently growing up in a country where food is about SURVIVAL, plain and simple.  And that it's actually okay to see where our food comes from.  But I didn't always feel this way.

When I first visited El Salvador with my mom a year and a half ago, I remember they were doing us a huge honor by killing one of their chickens for us to make soup.  We being the Americans we are, were devastated by this.  We didn't want to actually SEE the live animal which was soon going to be our dinner!  I remember my brother-in-law, Mario, telling his mother not to kill the chicken in front of us, to take it around back.  But I was still afraid of hearing it, this poor animal suffering, I thought.

Since actually moving to El Salvador 9 months ago, I have been witness to quite a few of our animals becoming dinner and my perspective has recently changed.  We have a chicken coop out back that is quite large.  We always have several chickens and 4-6 ducks.  One of our hens recently hatched 10 little "pollitos", or little baby chickens.  So we have quite the little family back there.  Every now and then we get eggs from either the ducks or chickens and we make eggs in the morning and we would love to raise enough chickens to never have to buy eggs again.  What I have realized is that we raise these animals in a loving, caring environment.  They have good food and a good home.  When they are killed for food, it is done out of respect and it is done out of necessity.  The people of El Salvador and other third world countries are not consumed with guilt about killing their animals for food, but they also raise them in healthy environments and don't put them in cages with 20 other chickens and pump their cows full of hormones.  They eat meat and eggs because they do what they have to do to survive.  And they actually consume the WHOLE animal.  I have never seen any part of an animal go to waste here.  The kids love all the parts that I still don't like and won't eat.

As humans, we need food.  That's a given.  Our American culture though gives us the idea that as long as we don't see where our food is coming from, then it's okay to eat.  This is actually completely twisted.  I have heard people say they won't eat organic food from a Farmers Market because it is "dirty".  Well HELLO!!  Of course it is...carrots come from the earth as well as all the other fruits and vegetables.  The grocery stores just happen to buy from large producers that spray crap on everything to make them look nice.  Most of them aren't even real anymore, it's all becoming genetically modified.  (I'm realizing this is going to need a new blog post do go more in depth about that. lol)

One of my shifts in perspective happened a couple of days ago with a wake-up call from my husband, which was a pleasant surprise.  I was worried about Liliana witnessing the ducks being killed and feathers being plucked for our lunch party.  We had another incident where she got a little upset by seeing the feathers being plucked and cried "no, pollo, no."  Although she had moved on from that incident, I obviously had not.  Eduardo told me that it's good for her to see because she sees that chickens and ducks (sometimes) are for food and that there is nothing wrong with that.  And you know what, he was actually right!  It's just my limited American beliefs that she shouldn't take part in the preparation of her food and see how it all happens.  Eduardo reminded me that if I'm not upset about it and make a big deal out of it and see it as bad, then she won't.  And he couldn't have been more right!  Our beliefs are what we make them to be.  It's sad how so many kids think that eggs and meat really do just come from the grocery store and have no awareness that an animal gave his life for that.  It's actually shocking.

And it saddens me how the average American child doesn't get to eat fresh fruits and veggies and organically grown meats and eggs.  We as parents need to be more aware of what we are putting in our child's bellies and heads and educate ourselves so we can in turn educate our children.

I'm so grateful for this multi-cultural experience Liliana is getting to have.  She's becoming so cultured!!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Living with In-Laws

More and more people I talk to have lived or are living with their in-laws these days.  Whether it's just for a couple of months or for a more extended time period, it is happening.  I remember when it used to be an embarrasing thing to admit, especially when it's not just you, but you and your husband and possibly even children.  Now when people talk about it, living with immediate or extended family can be seen more as "smart" or "money saving".  Some family member may still charge you rent, while others let you stay at no cost to you, maybe just groceries and such.  Each family arrangement is different, but there is one thing that always stays the with family, whether yours or your significant other's, IS NOT EASY!

In El Salvador however, living with extended family is a way of life.  It happens a lot of the time.  People don't rent as much, atleast in the small towns, as they do own.  But not the type of own with a big mortgage payment.  Their homes have been passed down through generations and is seen more as the "Family Home."  In ES, living with your family is not seen as you being "broke" or "slacking off" even if it's well into your 20's.  It's seen as respectable.  Often when a man gets married, the wife will move in with him and his family and even raise their children in that setting.

Now let's get to the realities of living with family for an extended period, whether it's in the United States or in El Salvdor.  I have had the fortune of living my mom and her husband for 6 months right before we made the move to ES, to save money for the trip.  I also have had the fortune of living with my husband's mom in her home for the past 9 months.  Our grandparents lived with us as well until they both passed on since being here in ES.  We also have an uncle next door, an aunt across the street and another uncle next door to him.  As well as lots of cousins and their children and grandchildren that visit on a daily basis.  But now I have digressed.  What I'm trying to say is that both of these living experiences have been blessings for us as I don't know what else we would have done, but it's also caused strained relationship.  Living with family also has it's costs.  I am going to discuss the pro's and con's of the shared household.  Some of these may only pertain to El Salvador and some only to the States, but here is my personal experience:

  • You can save money on rent or not pay rent at all.
  • If you have children, there is usually someone else to play, entertain, help them.
  • Other family members may help with cooking meals and cleaning.
  • You get to feel enternally grateful to have family that loves you enough to want to help.
  • You no longer have a "personal life."
  • There is no longer such thing as "alone time with your significant other."
  • You have no control of when guests come and go and they can even stay the night without you knowing or approving.
  • The other family members always know how you are spending "your" money and they usually have an opinion about it.
  • In-laws may give your child food you do not approve of even if they know you do not approve.
  • In-laws may feel the need to give unsolicited advice on how you should be raising your child.
  • In-laws may end up feeling resentful for giving things up for you to live with them.
  • You may not like the way others act or vice versa.
  • Your relationships may not ever be the same again.
As you can see, my con's list is definitely longer and I actually could have expanded upon it a lot more.  But the thing is that even with all the con's, the several pro's are stronger and may even equal it all out. It's all a completely individual experience and each family is different.  I have been lucky enough to have family that has been willing to help us out in our time of need in the States, but quite honestly I won't do it again.  Too much has happened since then and resentments have arised and have caused friction because of the living situation.  Gaps have grown in relationships and it makes me really sad that's it has gotten to this point.  In El Salvador, we will continue to live with my mother-in-law well after the point that we don't necessarily have to because at the end of the day, despite all my complaints and moments and even days of wishing we lived alone, watching my happy baby play with her abuela (grandma) and play with her cousins, brother and sister so happily is worth it all for me.  And it always helps me to get some work done!  Also because living with family is so common here, it's not such an issue.

All in all living with family has it's ups and downs and it's pro's and con's.  At the end of the day, what I have realized is how blessed my family is to keep having more and more of our family willing to help us, especially during this process of immigration for us.  I really don't know what else we would have done.  I'm grateful for my brother-in-law that now lets me stay in with his family when Liliana and I go back to the States and I'm grateful to the rest of my family that help in countless ways, whether they realize it or not  And I'm grateful to my friends that have stood beside me through the tears and the complaining and all the not nice stuff.  You truly are the greatest blessings in my life.  But don't get me wrong, I will have my days like today where I want to shut the doors on everyone, but they are wide open so that I can keep my heart wide open (and I'm still working on that part).

What is your experience of living with family?  Has it been positive, negative or both?  I would love to hear your experiences too!  Leave me a Comment!!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Soundtrack to My Life

This has been the soundtrack to my life's Beyonce's Broken Hearted Girl. It's a really beautiful song.

My New Blog!

I feel as though I have been cheating on this blog with my new one! I decided to create a blog called My Cultured Baby. There I am going to talk about all things baby-related, but more to do with cultural differences and things like raising a bilingual baby. The blog also has pages that talk about my 2 little businesses I have, Kelsey's Cultured Foods and Esperanza Imports. I've been working countless hours at the computer, which Liliana has not liked btw! But I am very excited for this new little venture into the real world of blogging. Don't you worry though, I am not giving up this blog at all. Even more so, it will make me blog on here more frequently. So check me out at and make sure to "follow" me there as well! There must be a reason for all of this discontent in my life and I really think blogging is going to help me discover what it is. I will let you know if I figure it out any time soon ;)

My New Blog!

After days and days of sitting and staring at the computer, figuring out all the little tweaks of creating a blog, I am finally writing my first post.  Yay for me!  While I have a LONG way to go with all the tweaks and lots more info to add to the pages, it is now atleast viewable.

I started a blog in February 2010 titled To El Salvador and Back to chronicle our journey through the immigration process.  It was mostly for friends and family that wanted to know where we were at in the process and in location.  I wrote about our  9 day drive from Indiana to El Salvador and what it has been like living in another country, but mostly just my personal feelings about it all.  Feel free to check it out!

In this blog I want to branch out and get more specific.  I want to share about topics I feel passionately about and about cultural differences between the USA and El Salvador.  I will share experiences, feelings, pictures and sometimes even recipes.  I hope you will enjoy my blog and that you will keep coming around!  Don't forget to "Follow" me through our life in El Salvador and our journeys to and from the States.  Upcoming topics include:  Raising a Bilingual baby, Potty Learning in ES, Breastfeeding and the Cultural Differences, Hammocks for Sleeping, Life Expectations, Visa Requirements and Much More...

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Christmas in El Salvador

I haven't posted in months it appears and it's way overdue. So much has happened, many things in my life have changed, but still remain the same. I want to start by talking about our first Christmas in El Salvador.
Christmas is celebrated in most Latin America on the 24th, which is Christmas Eve to us Americans. I insisted the kids be at our house so that we could share this special day with them. My MIL and I did the cooking. One of our aunts had given us a turkey the month before and it was planned to be our Christmas dinner. So Ana cooked that in the afternoon with veggies and a tomato sauce, very Salvadoran which I didn't care for too much. I made mashed potatoes and gravy which were phenomenal and my MIL loved! I also made a green pepper and tomato salad that was very tasty as well. While dinner was finishing cooking we decided to open presents. Liliana was very grateful for all the new underwear and socks she received. But seriously, she was really grateful! It was so cute, she kept saying Gracias over and over. The kids were excited too. I'm not sure if their presents are usually all wrapped up like I did. Usually they just get a big box shipped from the States they all go through.
After presents we had dinner all together which doesn't normally happen so that was nice.
The goal of the evening was to stay up until midnight when the fireworks and celebrations start happening. I don't normally drink coffee, but had several cups that evening so help me stay awake past 8! We drank wine and chatted with the neighbors. Aunt Dominga came with her family around nine and that was fun. Her husband really likes to drink with us so we had a lot of fun with him listening to music and laughing while the kids lit off fireworks in the street. Now all this would have been more fun if I could actually partake in the conversations. Eduardo loves to talk when he drinks and he translated some, butI still end up lost. It was a good night though. I stayed up until midnight saw the fireworks and went to bed with Liliana. She had passed out around 9pm outside in the hammock amongst all the noise!

The next day, our ACTUAL Christmas, not much happened. the family had slept over and so there were lots of people still hanging around. Eduardo had stayed up until 3am or so and we were recovering from the night before. It was actually a pretty relaxed day. I can't say I missed having christmas in the States, it was more of a feeling of wishing I could start some family traditions, but there's always more time for that. Liliana and I started our first one of making banana muffins together. I've decided every Christmas Eve she and I will make batches of muffins. We made 4 dozen this time and it was so fun to do together!