Mexican Domestic Goddess

Heading West!

Travel, CampingJacqui Skemp4 Comments

For the sake of documenting, and because a whopping two people asked, I’m going to be sharing a bit about our recent adventure from Minnesota to California. 

IMG_0363.jpeg

People in Minnesota have given me a hard time for leaving during the summer because we’re supposedly missing the best season, but I disagree. I will gladly take a hot California day over a sticky, humid Minnesota day. We usually fly out to visit my parents in Los Angeles. Seeing as this year our youngest is now old enough to require his own seat on a plane, we did the math and figured that while it would cost a smidge more to drive out. We opted for the road trip route instead. Then we decided that not only would we be driving our way west, we also wanted to camp our way there! My husband was the only one of us who had done any camping, and while I have family members who are avid campers, I had never done it myself. 

IMG_0033.jpeg

Our good friends did a big road trip from Minnesota to California and back again last summer, and after months of pestering Susanna,  she finally wrote out a series of posts about the trip. You should definitely read her blog posts on the subject because they’re loaded with info about things your need, and routines that make camping and driving with kids smoother, along with lovely journal entries about their travels. 

I also found these posts (here and here) on The Art of Simple really helpful and inspiring. Side note, I recently contributed to The Art of Simple and you can check that out here

IMG_0124.jpeg

Some general thoughts about road trips with kids. While we did drive a total of eighteen hours to Texas and back this past Thanksgiving, we did it in two days. That’s a lot of driving in one day for three little people, and really two big people as well. On that trip, time was of the essence, so we really didn’t see much and booked it to our destination. So we loaded up the car with books and coloring stuff, and we brought an Ipad for the kids to play with as well as ours that had a few movies on it. This time we did bring ours, but it never made an appearance. Our trip this summer was unintentionally screen free, because I ran out of time to charge the ipad. I think it helped that we had shorter driving days. I’ll also be sharing a post about how we kept the kids entertained. If you’re flying, I’ve written a post about things that have helped us maintain our sanity here

Our travels spanned several days, so I’ll be breaking up the trip into several posts. But all in all, I can easily say that we loved camping and driving with our kids. We fully intend on doing more trips both east and west of Minnesota. 

A Few Thoughts on Poverty and Generosity

Jacqui Skemp2 Comments

This is in response to a beautiful post by Kristin Levine, which you can read here

DSC_0746.jpeg

When we were newlyweds, our car broke down and was no longer drivable. We had next to no money, and for almost two months we got around thanks to the generosity of friends and family. Fortunately, I was able to bus to school, but my husband had a forty-five minute commute and public transportation would have taken him two hours. Our good friends loaned us their car on the weekend so we could get to mass and do grocery shopping. A girlfriend of mine who worked at the same school as my husband would drive out of her way to pick him up and give him a ride. The parents of my husband’s childhood friend not only loaned us their personal vehicle, but they also rented a car and asked us to drive it for a while and let them know what we thought about it because they were considering buying one. Everyone should get a chance to drive a Fiat 500, because no car in the history of cars is cuter. Eventually a friend of mine sold me a rather junky jeep for practically nothing because he was leaving the country, and that thing lasted about a year longer than I expected it to.

Ah, the infamous Jeep. The driver side door only opened from the outside, and sometimes the window would freeze shut. It burned through a quarter tank of gas a day, and if memory serves me right, it cost almost $75 to fill up. But there was no car payment, so we called it a wash. I was very pregnant in the middle of winter the year the door decided it would not longer stay closed, as in the latch no longer did the latching it was supposed to do. The sun was exceptionally bright that afternoon, and it caused a rare midwinter thaw, so that the ice that was resting on top of the jeep started to melt. After I had managed to secure the door with twine so I could drive back to work, the melted snow started to seep into the car right where the windshield met the roof. It was raining inside our junky jeep, and tears were running down my cheeks and onto my pregnant belly. If you’re not laughing at that image, you should be. It’s absolutely absurd.

Instead of spending that spring break on a babymoon (just kidding, I can’t even imagine Ian agreeing to that) we spent hours on craigslist looking for a car. It was dinged up on the side, and the back door had to be manually locked and unlocked, but it worked, and it was efficient, and 6 years later it’s still serving us well. We are now a two vehicle family, completely due to the generosity of our parents, our family, and our friends who expressed no hesitation in their willingness to give to us in some form when we were in need.

When I read this article this afternoon, I was really convicted. Many, many people have been overly generous to us in times of need, both financial and emotional. I can’t say I have been as quick to give of my best, but I want to change that. We are not in a place to donate large sums of money, or time, but we are working hard to get to a position where we can bless others with any abundance we have. In the meantime, I know I can be generous with my time, love, patience, and choosing to assume the best of others.

The biggest problem with poverty is the shame that comes with it. So, when you give the best you have to someone in need, it translates into something much deeper to the receiver.

It means that they are worthy.

-Kristine Levine


On Being Kind of Brown

Jacqui Skemp11 Comments
DSC_0419.jpg

“That’s racist” we would say. My friends would jokingly call each other out. But that’s what racism was to us. A joke. Because when you go to a school where more than ninety percent of the people there share the same cultural background, you live in a safe bubble, and generally assume that people don’t think less of you for how much melanin is in your skin or what story your DNA tells. I really thought, it can’t be real. Maybe in some backwoods place people still hate, but not in the places I live.

Almost four years ago I met my son, whose skin is the color of cafe con leche, but a little more cafe than leche. He has my father’s green eyes, a gift from his father before him. Unlike his brother, when I was out and about with him, no one asked me if I was his nanny. And when I took my two boys out, I was frequently asked if they were brothers, and when I said yes, I know tongues were held. I knew what the next question was, but I let it sit with people, allowing some shame to seep in. It’s not your business if they both come from the same paternal line. But yes, we did have two children with different skin tones. If you’ve ever met a Mexican family, you wouldn’t be surprised. Our nicknames acknowledge our awareness. We call her morena or preita, and we call him güero. Terms of endearment. You can do a google search.

I used to find it funny that when I took my blond, blue eyed doll of a baby out people assumed I was his nanny. I mean, I’m not very dark, but I do get asked “so… what are you.” But when my second son was born, and since then, I have had numerous encounters that I chalked up to “old people can be crazy” but then I started to wonder if that was really all that there was to it. Sure my boys are loud, but so are my friend’s kids. I’m a little louder, but I know plenty of white women who make me feel like a whispering mouse. When I really started to take a closer look at all these encounters I saw two common threads running through… they were white, and I am not.

I really, really, really don’t like to cry racism. I really don’t. Because I still can’t wrap my head around the idea of someone not respecting me (or my son, or anyone) simply because of some preconceived notion about people who share my genetic background. And yet I do wonder if there’s something there that I’ve chosen to ignore. I wonder why it is so easy for some people to give me a dirty  look, or let me know how they think I should control my kid, or why they think they have the right to wag their finger and insult me. Don’t we bleed the same red?

I have lived in dual worlds from the beginning. Born American with Mexican heritage. Not brown enough for some, or pale enough for others. Too much of a gringa for those in the home country, and yet not quite fully immersed in American culture. I know that this is the reality that will be passed down to my children, though I suspect the inner tug of war might not be as present in their lives.

Maybe my encounters have zero racism, and people are just… awful sometimes. But maybe my suspicions carry some validity. I am not looking for sympathy. I suppose I just want to add to the conversation that racism doesn’t always look the way we expect it to. But damn it, it hurts anyway.