A Year To Remember

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I woke up this morning knowing that today’s date is rather important.  It marks the one year point that I’ve been in Mexico!  I think back over the last year with awe.  In fact, I just read my post from a year ago–I wanted to remind myself what was going on.  Because I remember being a little scared and nervous, but Mama said today, “You didn’t act like it!” I was excited, but nervous.20120101-093628.jpg

I think of just one little year, and all that can be done.  Of course, what I should say is “…all that can be done IF you let God do the leading.”   One year ago, my life was so confusing.  I had quit my job, moved home, and just gotten out of a relationship.  I remember telling my ex’s sister, “I don’t need to date–I know what I want.” And goodness!  I really did know what I wanted, but apparently God knew what I needed.  I suppose that could be the lesson of the year for me:  You may think you know what you want, but God knows what you need.

I was heartbroken when I didn’t get that job in Northern Virginia.  I remember thinking, “Yes!  God is leading me back to where I belong!” When it didn’t work out, it was hard for me to get my thoughts back in the right place.  Then I got my first job in Mexico so speedy quick, there was NO denying that it wasn’t right.My_Cheese

My job was at times frustrating–but overall, stress free!  I thought that maybe it was because I was in Chiapas at a developing school, but then I got the second job in Mexico.  Both placements were in second grade–a grade I had previously taught three years in Northern Virginia.  My students have been polar opposites, but I love teaching here!  I work a normal schedule.  I used to tell people that I worked an average of 60 hours a week, and they would stare like they couldn’t believe it!  In the States, I would go to work early, stay at work late, work on Saturdays and in the evenings–and there was always something else to do.  My summer “vacation” was full of professional development, and  lists of things to do followed me everywhere.  No more.  I have a job.  It is not my life.  I love my job, but I now know that when I leave this job–another will be waiting around the corner.20120302-221758.jpg

And then, this morning Victor said, “Why didn’t your phone work?” He said this just out of the blue, and I couldn’t figure out what he was talking about.  So I asked for clarification.  “In San Cristobal…why didn’t your phone work?”  The weekend we met, my phone broke.  I tried calling him.  He tried calling me.  But it was on the blink.  So, when I decided to go to San Cristobal, I had very little hope of actually seeing him again.  But, I decided, “Well, if my phone works and I get to see him–Great!  If not–I love San Cristobal!”  Literally, the minute I walked out of the bus station, there he was.  He had no clue that I was there–he had just gone for a walk.  Man couldn’t orchestrate something so wonderful (except in Hollywood).20120324-204953.jpg

Life is strange.  I spent the better part of my 27 years planning for the next day, week, month, year, etc.  Not one of those plans worked out.  When I quit planning, and FINALLY reached my breaking point, I remember praying emphatically,  “No more.  I don’t want to make any more decisions–please just lead me to where I belong.”  And since then, I have received more than I could have ever planned for myself.blog

I am just reminded of the poem given to me from our brother workers upon my high school graduation.  The second verse says,

Seeking God’s will cannot guarantee that you will not shed some tears, but they’ll not be the bitter, burning drops from misdirected years.  His plan will never keep from you any pleasure that is worthwhile, so trust him to lead you on a way that holds peace in every mile.

So, yes, I think of myself a year ago, and I remember the fear–not the bravado.  I could have never planned a year full of so many blessings.  The other day, a stranger at the fabric store rubbed my belly and said, “Bendiciones! Bendiciones! Bendiciones!” It’s like saying, “Blessings! Blessings! Blessings!” I know that is what’s in store: more of God’s blessings for my little family’s life.  And that’s my wish for you this New Year’s Eve…

Bendiciones! Bendiciones! Bendiciones!

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Victor and I after meeting Sunday.  No wonder why strangers rub the baby belly, eh?

 

Thinking of You This Sunday Morning

My mom has given me some great advice over the last several years (really over my lifetime, but I am only willing to admit the good advice I have received since I realized how smart she really is…), but there is one thing she told me that I am really pleased with today.  See, a couple years ago, I was really bummed because some baby didn’t like me.  I think it was my niece Dyana, but I can’t really remember.  Mama said, “Just feed her–that’s how you get babies to like you.”  Spoken like a southern woman.

So for the last several weeks, Victor and I have been bribing the kids at meeting.  They are the grandkids of one of the ladies, and the youngest is two.  She is a beautiful little Mexican who cuddles up to her abuela and her uncle.  She’s really the one I am after.  Her brother is four, and isn’t quite as shy as she seems to be.  We’ve taken candy from the presents my students gave me.  Mexicans love weird candy with chile on/in it.  She’s quite the mess, and last week when I tried to help her take the wrapper down off her candy–you would have thought that I was sneaking a taste.  Today, however, she gave me a sweet smile when I gave her a kiss (the chocolate kind).  Yes!  It’s working!

I am reminded of a sweet lady and her husband who used to bring us candy and treats on Sunday mornings.  Laura, my elder’s late wife in Tennessee, always remembered us!  I remember her bringing heart shaped lolipops around Valentine’s Day.  She was an amazing woman, and I can’t imagine being at her home for meeting without her being there!

What really got me thinking about Laura and other amazing women I’ve been around who nurtured me (naturally and spiritually) was a verse in Titus.  I know I have read it a billion times, but there is something about reading it in another language that really has made it real to me.  I think it’s because I have to read so slowing and really search for meaning.

That the aged women likewise, that they be in behavior as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;  That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.

Oh! what I’ve learned from you, women in my life!  How to take my service to God seriously!  To love my husband as a helpmate–not the bossy britches I tend to be.  To allow God to work in my family’s life–rather than instruct and preach.  To love this unborn child and want what is best for him–spiritually, as well (if not more than) naturally.  To love others despite their faults–and maybe even more!  To recognize my shortcomings when I begin to judge others harshly–and even to fear the lessons the Lord steers my way after I’ve been particularly stubborn.  To realize that my children won’t be perfect, but that my love will be unyielding.  To understand that a word in season can lift the weary and downtrodden.  To pray, pray, pray for others as you’ve prayed for me!  To recognize a need and seek to fill it–without a show or desire to have reward.  To make sacrifices.  To bite my tongue when it’s hard.  To forgive.  To remember the saints and servants.

Oh!  I could go on forever…  But I’ll end with this:   If ever you doubt the place you have in God’s kingdom, know that this young mama in Mexico has benefited beyond what words could ever explain from your life.  Thank you. 

Shopping For Two

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In my defense, I had just been walking in the park… So, yes, not flattering.  And, yes, I’m huge.  And, no… there’s just one in there.


I have some friends who always shop at Sams and Costco.  You open their fridge and see giant containers of salad dressing.  When I moved to Virginia, my own sister (who lived alone and never cooked), for some reason, had a huge jar of sweet relish.  But most people buy logical items in bulk.  Their second fridge or freezer is full of goodies, and they have wine or gallons of cleaning supplies stashed in nooks and crannies.

Well, I think it’s a disease.

And I think we’ve acquired it.  Maybe Sams infects the store with some odorless gas–the more you go, the more it alters the function of your brain.  So when you go to “regular” stores, you make comments like, “Let’s wait and buy that at Sam’s.”  If this is describing you, we should form a club support group.  Like Alcoholics Anonymous, only it will be Bulk Shoppers Anonymous (BSA).  “Hello, my name is Jania, and I shop in bulk.” 

We hardly buy things at the regular grocery stores anymore.  Well, I take that back.  We really went to town at Wal-Mart yesterday.  But it was mostly on fruit and household items…  (For some reason, Wal-Mart is the only place I can find my contact solution here…)  I refuse to buy milk there–because it’s about 10 pesos cheaper at Sam’s.  I don’t like the way the meat looks or smells, so we buy that at Sam’s.  I can’t find good fresh spinach, so we buy that at Sam’s.  Do you see a pattern, here?

Cleaning supplies…Sam’s.  (We are the people with a three liter container of dish washing soap under our sink to refill our tiny normal sized bottle.)  Toilet Paper… Sam’s  (I think we have enough to last us until after the baby’s born.  True story.)  Cereal… Sam’s  (I can’t seem to pass up the Raisin Bran.  Thank you, Mamaw.  I do walk straight past the Cocoa Pebbles after trying so hard to choke them down for weeks.)  Bread…Sam’s (We get double fiber bread in a two pack for our toast.)

We’ve become professional shoppers, as we know where everything is located.  We have even changed our route in the store, so that by the time we get to the check out line, our frozen items are still frozen.  And somehow, we always go for just a few things and leave with items that we didn’t know we needed.  This was what we left with today:

  1. Milk–  I have a milk problem of ginormous proportions.  It all began when I realized that I could drink a glass while cooking breakfast and then I wouldn’t throw up.  And if I drink a glass before bed, it satisfies my hunger then too.  We wanted a gallon, but opted for two.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  2. Veggies–  Victor and I are on a diet.  Plus, we really miss good salads in this land of burritos and gorditos.  So today we bought a giant bag of frozen green beans (you can’t buy them fresh or in cans here), a giant bag of broccoli (we’ve realized that’s the best part of the mixed veggie bags), a HUGE bag of fresh spinach, a bundle of green onions, a container of tomatoes, and a bag of shredded carrots (such a disappointment–there’s really no flavor).OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  3. Meat–  Today we bought ground beef and thinly sliced beef that I promptly bagged into smaller portions and froze.  The one meat that we’ve decided to keep shopping small for is chicken.  We used to buy the frozen boneless skinless breasts from Sam’s, but I discovered (at my husband’s prompting) that real chicken with bones tastes better and makes better broth.  What I will NOT buy from Sam’s ever again: chicken nuggets.  Ugh.  I don’t think I can ever eat another chicken nugget.
  4. Eggs–  Victor and I eat five eggs for breakfast (together).  At that rate, it only makes sense to buy a sixty-pack from Sam’s.  Today, I discovered brown gunk and feathers stuck to our eggs–which really made me feel like I had chosen well.  Go figure.  I’ve also decided that boiled eggs are a nice snack during the day.  Unfortunately, I am kinda lazy–so that only happens occasionally.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  5. Ice Cream–  Every time we go through the yogurt/ ice cream aisle, we debate buying ice cream.  This is actually the first time that we’ve done so.  Our Sam’s has Starbucks, Haagen Daz, and Blue Bell ice cream, but we chose the Sam’s Club brand of Neopolitin.  NOT a bad choice.  Plus, Victor got really excited about having a gallon size container when we finish to plant things in.  (Yeah, it isn’t really on our diet, but it did taste great!)

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So, after rearranging the refrigerator (the bottom freezes veggies, but it keeps my milk perfect–so I refuse to lower the temperature…), I have decided that another Sam’s trip won’t be on the agenda until next week.  Or maybe when our bag of mixed lettuce runs out…

Push Presents

What I really wanted to name this was The Ridiculousness That Lies In Push Presents.  BUT, I showed restraint (for about two seconds…)

For those of you unaware of this new trend, Push Presents or Push Gifts are presents given to women by their husbands after they deliver a child.  That’s right, all you mamas who never received anything but your babies and some stretch marks.  You should have been delivering during the age of Gimme-Gimme.

I mean, really?!

So the reasoning is (supposedly) that a woman carries a baby for nine months, suffers through all the icks of pregnancy, and then has a “ruined” body to show for it.  Despite the name, pushing isn’t a prerequisite for obtaining a gift.  Women who have delivered by Cesarean are also included.  Husbands are to buy their wife something to show how much they love them for withstanding the ordeal of childbirth.

What happened to just being happy with that new baby? Oh! AND apparently, the gifts are usually determined by the woman and suggested to the man (not a surprise).  This will be my message to my husband:

Dear Husband,

      Because I have carried your chubby Mexican baby in my body for nine months, I have some news for you.  After I push the little gordito out, you must show your adoration by giving me a gift.  I know what you’re thinking: the months of back rubbing and longsuffering (listening to me whine) weren’t enough?  No.

       But I’ve decided that I am going to change the rules.  I don’t want you to purchase me something that I will probably lose or break.  No, no, no.  Instead, you can show me how much you love me by changing diapers for the first several months.  Oh!  And did I mention that we’ll be using cloth diapers?  Be sure to get ready to wash out that icky black poop that babies have when they’re born!

Much love,

Your (fat) wife

Why don’t more women ask for logical Push Presents?  Is jewelry really what you want from your husband?  You know what?  I know that my husband is so excited about this baby–I won’t even have to suggest that he help me out.  In fact, maybe I should get him a Thank-You-For-Dealing-With-Me gift.  Somehow that seems more appropriate…

Home Again… Someday

Maybe it’s the fact that I have two weeks off school.

Maybe it’s because all the Americans have left.

Maybe it’s because I read all five books I checked out from the library.

Maybe it’s because I am pregnant.

But probably it is because all my family is home except for me.

When we were young at night when my little sister had to lay down to sleep she would pitch a fit.  (It’s clear to see that her children have inherited that innate gift of fit pitching…) She would stomp to the living room and whine, “Everyone is having a party without me!”  That’s what it feels like:  Everyone is having a party without me.  And yes, I am indulging myself in self-pity.

I am trying to enjoy my place.

  1. I get to spend all day with my husband.
  2. I get to relax, read, and watch shows on my computer.
  3. I get to sort baby diapers and clothes.
  4. I get to cook.

But really, what that list looks like is this:

  1. I’m in Mexico alone.
  2. I’m in Mexico alone.
  3. I’m in Mexico alone.
  4. I’m in Mexico alone.

Sigh.  Now would be the time for me to find a hobby.  And fast!  My busybody of a husband scurries around here and there painting this, washing that, walking here or there.  And I am perfecting the art of moping.  Only it really is an art because I try to hide the fact that I am homesick from him.

Honestly, I think it is made worse knowing that I won’t get to come home in…forever.  Next summer is looking a little nutty as we have to move to a new house/apartment.  We also need to get down to Chiapas to see Victor’s family.  Thanksgiving is looking good–but it’s just a week.  So the thought of flying home with a 8 month old for a week isn’t too appealing.  That leaves Christmas.  One year from now.  Big Sigh.

If this is what happens to me when I have a little time on my hands, I don’t know what I will do when my maternity leave comes around.  The six weeks BEFORE the baby is born will be long.  I REALLY need a hobby before then…

Feliz Navidad (y Prospero Año y Felicidad)

Can I tell you about Navidad in Mexico?  Well, at least from our perspective (as non-Christmas celebrators).

Last night, all we heard were the artillery shells fireworks.  That was soon replaced by the piñata song “Dale, dale, dale…”  Of course, that was followed up by MORE fireworks.  I actually got a little scared and set the alarm.  (Things in Torreon are a little unstable right now, so when we hear fireworks, we always ask, “Was that gunshots or fireworks?” More about this later.)

Mexicans have been celebrating Christmas since the beginning of the month–in a big way!  They had a day where they celebrated Guadalupe (the virgin mother who appeared on the smock of an Indian guy).  They celebrate the baptism of Jesus, the birth of Jesus, and later–on the 6th of January, they celebrate the 3 Kings.  Last night (Christmas Eve) is called Noche Buena Good Night.  And then, of course, today: Christmas.

I, on the other hand, am just wondering what we should do.

I mean, I assume businesses are closed.  We aren’t exchanging gifts.  We don’t know anyone here.  So, this is my Christmas agenda:

1)  Finish this blog

2)  Place an order online for some baby diapers

3)  Call my mom

4)  Start a new book (I’ve read two this weekend…)

5)  Walk out to the main street to see if anything is open

6)  Watch a show online

7)  Cook some veggies (Yesterday we didn’t eat nearly enough veggies)

8)  Repeat #3

9)  Continue #4

 

Most Mexicans will really be living it up today.  Us?  Well, we sang each other Feliz Navidad… does that count?

The End of the World

I keep hearing all about the end of the world from everyone in the States.  I remember even learning about the Mayan calendar in seventh grade.  Can I tell you (as the wife of a Chiapanecan-Mayan) there isn’t a lot of hoopla here?

In fact, everyone seems rather unconcerned.

Now, if you remember the earthquake from last spring?  That was something they got concerned about.  But this?  Pssh.

It surprises me how flippant people are making jokes about the end of the world.  I mean, I don’t correct anyone or anything–but I can’t help thinking we should be a little more sober.  Perhaps that is just the way they handle it…

I think about the end of 2012 and it is hard to believe!  I have been here almost one year.  Wow.  This time last year, I was crying in my pillows searching in vain for a job.  Now I have a husband, baby on the way, and a job I love.  That’s amazing.

Trusting in God really makes all the difference in the world.  I feel like I can say that in retrospect.  The other day my husband and I were talking about the future, and he said, “Everything is going to be okay?  I like it when you say, ‘Everything will be okay…'”  I guess that is my new mantra.  Trust God.  Everything will be okay.

So, I suppose that is my message for the last post before the Mayan calendar ends:  Everything will be okay.  Take it from me.  Whether you are a die-hard believer in 12-21-12 or not.  Keep Calm Trust God and carry on.

 

Deck The Halls

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The other day, I continued to reveal my goodies from my trip to the States during Thanksgiving.  (Yes, I still have items in my suitcases…don’t judge.)  I walked out into the living room, and said, “Victor, do you want to hang these up?”

I was referring, of course, to these window clings that I found in a box of classroom items.  I used to purchase items AFTER Christmas that I knew I would need the next year.    I always have pencils, cute paper, etc.

Well, my husband very seriously says, “Oooohhhhh, those are nice.  But we don’t have anywhere to hang them.”

We do have windows, people.  So imagine my surprise/ confusion.

Then he continued, “Wait…”

And he walked over, and hung them on a nail on the wall.

I decided that maybe I should explain we peel them off the paper and stick them to the windows.  So, I showed him, “No, honey, they work like this…”

“Oh, that’s good,” he said, “but don’t they look better on the wall?”

Oh, dear.  Something tells me that my life will never be boring with a husband like this.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA And so it continues to hang…

Bad Advice

You know, the one thing I am really glad for is the training that I received in Fairfax County Schools.  It’s really hard to learn to be a good listener, but it is something that I keep trying to work at.  A lot of this is because I’ve had several people say to me recently, “You don’t really listen when I talk to you.”  I do.  I really listen, but I am my Mama’s daughter.  I also think.  And talk.  And not often on the same topic–but they are totally connected in my brain.

So recently, I’ve been just listening and biting my tongue.  Or at least I try.

I learned in Fairfax County some good techniques for allowing others to talk.  In our mentoring class, we learned that people really aren’t looking for advice or help solving problems.  They really just want to talk about it.  And quite frankly, we usually have our own solutions to our problems.  We just have to work through them in our own time.

I am trying to keep my mouth shut.

I don’t want to give unwanted advice, but really I try to keep it shut when people start giving ME advice.

For example, at our Christmas Posada I was drinking water.  Duh.  I am pregnant.  So, no, I really don’t want your wine based drink.  And what?!  Only five percent alcohol–that won’t hurt me?  And you drank it while you were pregnant?  I am sorry, I’ve met your child–this isn’t convincing me that this is okay.

Or the English-speaking couple we went out with the other day: When I asked the age that students are REQUIRED to attend school in Mexico, I was told, “They don’t have to go when they are three (some are just two), but I highly recommend it.”  Really?!  You are recommending an education plan for my unborn child?  I am sorry, but how long have you worked with children?  You’re recommending what I, a teacher, should do with my kid’s schooling?  Hmmm…  Thanks, let me tell you how you should build that building your architect firm is working on.  After all, my vast knowledge of buildings (I’ve been in them all my life…) should really help you out.

Oh, one I really love.  When I make a comment regarding my food/beverage intake:  You get to tell me how much sodium and sugar is in that?  Really?  Because I tell you what a good breakfast is for you everyday?    Oh, I appreciate that your Mom had high sodium problems.  And that she takes shots everyday for her diabetes.  But why do you get to tell me that I shouldn’t eat that?  What do you know about MY health?  Let me tell you what kind of junk is in that fake chicken broth you make.  Never mind.

Oh, yes!  I love it when you tell me what I should do in my classroom with my students.

Please!  I can’t wait to hear about what I should take for my baby!

I will definitely find out the sex of my unborn child now that you’ve outlined all the reasons why it is a better choice.

Your vast knowledge of the Mexican culture really will help the relationship I have with my husband!

Oh, the fact that you don’t talk to your mom really makes me want to listen more to what you have to say about my relationship with my family!

Thanks for telling me all the facts about c-sections and why they are a good choice.  Now I don’t want a natural birth anymore!

Your baby was perfectly healthy drinking formula from birth?  AND she’s really intelligent?!  Well, now why would I want to suffer sore nipples after knowing that!  I am so happy you’ve told me that after asking if I was going to breastfeed!

Oh, yes… Keeping your mouth shut really IS the best choice.  They were right:  I’m not looking for your advice.  However, check out these awesome listening skills!  I bet you think I am going follow every word you say!

Oh…You Speak English?

I really came close to making a big mistake.  I was under the impression that Victor and I are the only English speakers in birthing class.

Nope.

I’ve been getting frustrated.  You see, this is the way birthing class goes:

  1. Walk around on my toes.
  2. Some stretches and light exercises.
  3. Breathing Work.
  4. Partner massage (my favorite).
  5. Birth Lesson.

One through four aren’t that bad.  I actually really enjoy it–and feel like the breathing exercises are helpful (despite the fact that I have a cold and can’t quite cut it…)  Four is by far the best part of the day–as we stretch out on labor balls (I don’t really know what they’re called.  This is much better than my previous experiences with them where I was doing sit-ups and ab work…) and our partners massage our backs.  Sigh.  My kinda class…

Well, then part five comes along.  This wouldn’t be that bad, except I am a nerd.  I love to learn new things–and I read ALL about pregnancy, birth, and lactation.  I’ve read interest articles, research articles, opinion articles.  I’ve watched videos and documentaries detailing everything.  I have a mom who (according to Victor) really knows her stuff.  And so, while there is a lot I haven’t experienced yet, I am doing my best to stay educated and informed.

Not the case with all mothers.

Our lessons are constantly interrupted with questions like, “If I drink a lot of milk will it help me produce more milk?” And “Is it okay to drink beer to help my milk come in?” And “If your boobs are bigger, does that mean that you will have more milk?BIG SIGH.

The worst part is that the class is from 7-9 p.m. and that is already encroaching on my sleepy time.  Then we walk home, shower, and by the time I FINALLY crawl into bed, I am a big brat.  So the whole time, Victor listens intently, translates the ridiculous parts, and then laughs with me quietly as we scoff at silly questions.

Last week, the instructor/midwife asked a bored-looking teen soon-to-be-father if he had learned anything, and he replied, “No.  We watched this on YouTube.” Another time, the same kid said, “We read all about that on the internet.” So see!  I am NOT the only one!

Of course, he doesn’t mutter in English just to find out when he leaves that the two couples that attract the most negative comments speak perfect English…Perfect.