Happy Siblings Day! (Hug an Only Child)

According to the Facebook posts, today is National Siblings Day.  I don’t know exactly who thought this one up–but I suspect that it is a day for people to share cute photos, and therefore, it came into existence after social media decided to take over the world.

I’ve been thinking a lot of family lately.  We took a trip last weekend to a neighboring state to visit with some of the isolated friends that live there.  There are two families and no one else for miles around.  The first family has five kids and the second has twelve…  Yes, you heard me right… twelve…  It is that family of twelve that recently gave us our latest sister worker.  Both families live humble lives on farms, and the way they work together to survive is admirable.

Sometimes we talk about how selfish it is for us to have had Rocky here in the city–when all he wanted was a place to run around and smell.  It feels like that with Ale too.  She was in her element on the farm!  She wasn’t afraid of wondering in and outside with the others.  They took her to watch the cow being milked, and later the baby lambs drinking from bottles.  She would come inside the kitchen (which is a separate entrance from the interior of the house) and ask for a drink or a snack.  How I wish that we had some land she could play on!

And how I wish she had family nearby.

Sweet Ale doesn’t have siblings yet, and that is always painfully apparent when she is with other children.  She really loved one of the babies (10 months), and kept trying to feed her a bottle.  Another little boy would grab her by the hand and pull her off to look at the animals, and it wasn’t long before she asked to see the “coco.”  (Cócono is another word for turkey.)

Because she doesn’t have siblings, Ale has learned to play alone.  But watching her entertain herself makes me think of how I would play with my siblings and cousins.

Ale is content.  She is building blocks and singing to herself as I write this.  She has never had a brother knock down her towers of blocks–and she doesn’t yet know the pleasure of singing with her sisters.  She just finished swimming outside in her plastic pool, and it won’t be long before we head to bed.  Ale doesn’t know what it is like to have a brother to hang onto, but she hangs onto us in the pool.  She will be sleeping with us too–because I can’t bear to have her sleep in her own bed without a sister to cuddle.  And tomorrow, we will read countless books together, because she has to learn the right way to read before a little sibling begs for story-time.  She just brought me a piece of plastic cake and I pretend to eat it, but one day she will know the joy of making mud pies in the back yard with siblings in tow.  Ale doesn’t know what she is missing, but I sure do…

Happy Siblings Day!


Food is My Love Language

I have a friend who always tags her foodie pictures with #foodismylovelanguage.  And I get it!  Because there are a few of us who show others how much we love them by feeding them every opportunity that arises.

I love preparing special meals for our visitors–surprising whomever I can with a meal from their homeland.  I had a game night for Minnesotan friends from work where I made Tatertot Hot-dish.  Ick.  They loved it.  I didn’t.  When our visiting worker from the Dominican Republic vetoed Italian food, I cooked an all day affair which turned out to be Sancocho.  Sometimes I like to ask if anyone wants something special–and I have whipped up everything from chocolate chip cookies to cornbread and beans.

I don’t just cook foods from other places for other people though–often I will think of someone, then cook a food that reminds me of them.  For example, I have been really homesick for Chiapas lately.  I normally visit there during the summer months, but we are skipping our trip this summer.  What came out of my kitchen as a result was black beans and salsa–which we ate with tortillas and fresh cheese.  I roasted the onions and peppers on the stovetop before adding the blacked parts to my tomato pulp (procured by “shredding” the tomato flesh on the cheese grater).  The more time consuming the project is, the more time I have to think on them!

This morning I made homemade cinnamon rolls–too many!  I still have a pan of cinnamon rolls sitting in the kitchen!  There’s a gallon of iced tea on the counter-top, and buttermilk just waiting for some biscuits to be made tomorrow.  Our basil plant needed to be cut back, so I made a friend’s pesto recipe a couple days ago (and shared the frozen pesto leftover with another friend who stopped by to visit).

I may not be able to be all the places that I am thinking of today: Virginia, Tennessee, Chiapas, etc.  But each memory inspires something new to happen in my kitchen.  Memories of those places are taking over my mind–and dancing across my plate.  Oh, yes! I do believe that food is my love language too!

Spring Break Shananigans

In Mexico, Spring Break is a nationally mandated vacation for schools–and every year all students in the entire country are out of school the same two weeks.  This is our first week of Semana Santa, or Holy Week.  For Ale and me, this is the fifth day that we have played Play-Doh, cleaned the kitchen, and picked up toys all before 9 a.m.  In between all of those activities, she goes on speed dates with whatever books are lying around.

Ale Reading2  Ale Reading

I am so enjoying my time with this little stinker.  She is really coming to life in the language department–although so much of what she says is so unclear.  (It is hard work learning two languages at the same time!)  I think I am hearing more right now because all she is hearing is English.  I can’t wait until this summer when everyone around her will speak English.  It will be interesting to see how she grows during that time!  Right now she is speaking Spanglish with the best of them!  “Mira a mi hand!” she will say.

While I am enjoying her liveliness during our time together, I find myself really short on patience by the end of the day.  It is really making me stop and salute all of the single moms and stay-at-home moms out there!  Whew!  I think I would need to take up exercising or drinking if my whole life consisted of cleaning and repeating myself fifty times a day.  On the other hand, I feel like I am missing so much of her growth when I only see her from 3:00 to bedtime.  I guess you just bloom where you are planted!  Every situation comes with a long list of advantages and disadvantages…

We bought one of those blow-up swimming pools this weekend.  Luckily, it is big enough for the three of us.  Even luckier, the back patio is walled-in, so our neighbors can’t see us “swimming” in a plastic pool with our daughter.  In our defense, it is quite relaxing to just lie there soaking in the sun.  It’s like an outside bathtub!  (Bathtubs aren’t a popular thing in Mexico, so it has literally been 8 months since I have had a bath instead of a shower.)  I told Victor that next time we have to empty the water, I am going to fill it up with hot water and go out to read a book by myself.

In the meantime, I’ve made a point to read my bible each morning as I am drinking my coffee.  Today is Day One of Proverbs–starting over is always really nice.  I read something new every month!  I remember that when I came to Mexico (three years ago!!!!) this is what I was doing.  I had started reading a proverb each day several months before I arrived, and there was so much comfort and encouragement in those chapters!  Being with Ale renews me with the knowledge that she sees everything I do–and wants to do the same.  I want her to see me doing the things that are beneficial, singing the songs that have sweet messages, and praying before bed and meals.  A mama’s work is never done…