A Letter to My Girls (Who Won’t Stop Talking)

Dear Little Chatterboxes,

Oh! I sure do love hearing you two while you’re playing!!  Until I hear you start to argue.  You might ask what that sounds like with an 19 month old and a four year old.  Let me explain…

Jojo, you are all fire!  I see you thrive on the attention of your sister, even when it isn’t positive!  I watch you run up, grab her toys, and run away.  And I listen to that nonsense talk as you tell her what you think.  Someday, we are going to know exactly what you think!  Until then, you keep practicing that little, “No!” with just as much passion as you use it now.  It will come in handy when you’re older.

And Ale, my little ice princess!  If you would just involve your sister a little more in your play, she wouldn’t wreck havoc.  Yes, I know that is your office.  Yes, I see that you laid out all your supplies on your desk.  But Josie doesn’t understand that the doll stroller is your office chair.  And she certainly doesn’t understand why she can’t use your colored pencils and special office pen!

Oh, now you’re friends again?  Okay, because five minutes ago you were sworn enemies…

Ahhh…sweet girls, you have no idea what is in store for you.

I want you to grow up knowing how to communicate.  I want you to be able to talk to each other about your wildest secrets and your deepest fears.  I want you to hold each other when you are sad, and keep each other in line when the temptations of the world start to call.  I want to see you grow strong, but stay tender (because God can work best with a tender heart, but strength is needed for you to stand up for yourselves…and each other).

I know that someday soon I will need to fuss about how you need to stop talking and just go to sleep.  I know that someday soon, you’re going to start asking for cell phones, iPads, or the latest fad in technology (don’t bother…).  I know that your arguments will grow from toys to bigger issues.  But for the sake of your parents, not too big please…

Girls, don’t forget to lace your words with kindness!  Someone asked me if I would rather have a smart child or a kind child, and without a doubt–kindness wins!  Moments of kindness are what will remind you of your great love for one another.  Arguments will come, but time will pass way too quickly.  Soon you will be like Mama and your aunties.  You will reach the day where you realize it isn’t worth the argument, but it is always worth the love.  More love.  More kindness.  More love.  Less judgement.  More love.

Can we practice this now?

My little girls, you never know where life will take you.  Someday you might find yourselves far away from each other.  Someday you will surely find yourselves without your mama and daddy.  Someday you might complain when your sister pulls up her skirt to show off her legs, then defend her with your might when someone else dares to tease her.  Someday you might decide to share a home and responsibilities.  Someday you might find yourself companions in God’s work (I could only wish this with my inmost desires and prayers).  Someday you might watch your children grow together.

One thing is for certain: for as long as you both live, your sister will be YOUR person.  No one else will know your past, understand your present, and look forward to your future the same way as your sister will.

So chatter away, little lovies.  Chatter away about the rain, your babies, and your chicks.  Chatter away about sharing.  Chatter away as you bathe, play, and eat.  Your chatter fills your mama’s heart with joy, so chatter away.

Love always,

Mama

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A Chicken’s Life

Victor and I are SO looking forward to the day that we don’t live in the city.  We aren’t city people.  I mean, don’t get me wrong: I love trash pick-up, public transportation, and corner drugstores.  But the list of things I want to get away from is so much longer!

When we moved to our new house last year, the greatest thing that appealed to us was the backyard.  Yes! Grass!  Grass means chickens!

So, in February we started looking for some chicks.  And we found some.  And we accidentally killed them. (Don’t judge us…we live in the desert.)  And then we got more.  The most exciting news that I received when I was home in Tennessee was that the hens had started laying eggs.  So imagine my surprise when I came back, so excited, and was attacked by our rooster.  Grrrr…

This week was an eventful week though:  on Wednesday our first little chickie eggs hatched, and so now we have four little chicks.  Then yesterday morning we killed our rooster, so now our backyard is a safe place again! Free from the talons of that tyrant!

We didn’t really know how to go about the killing of that guy… I mean, I remember my grandmother killing chickens.  And Victor’s mom raises and kills her own chickens.  But Mamaw and my suegra aren’t here.  So Friday night, I did my research.  (Seriously, what did we ever do without internet?)  Armed with new knowledge, I told Victor what I had watched and read about–and together, we crossed a line.

Let me be clear here: Victor killed the jerk, but then he left him, hanging up on the fence and went to work.  So it was up to me to do the rest of the work.  It’s no joke.  They make it look so easy on YouTube!!  And I made quite a few mistakes.  But once the feathers, head and feet are off a dead chicken, he just looks like something from the grocery store.  I won’t lie and tell you that it was easy.  Somehow I cut the wrong bone, and I am covered in cuts on one hand from trying to clean out the cavity.  But, I did it.  Let me tell you, if people had to do this every time they wanted chicken, there’s no way we would eat as much meat as we do!

So, last night we had beans cooked in chicken broth.  I have boneless skinless breast and thighs in my fridge, and two chicken legs are ready for roasting.  Not to mention, that mama hen starting laying eggs again two days after her pollitos hatched, so we had egg sandwiches for breakfast!

Ahh… the urban farm life…  And such a peaceful one without listening to that gallo singing to us all day long!!

Peaceful

Today at school we were talking about a young teacher who moved to the Marshall Islands to work. She’s been posting the most amazing photos of the sunsets and sunrises from her constant life vacation. Today they were captioned with a comment about the peaceful time before work.

We were discussing what peaceful times for us entail, and it took me too long to think of peace in my life.

Now, keep in mind that I have a sick baby who kept me up all night. I am also taking steroids for my uveitis, so I am a pretty jittery person these days. And then add to the fact that I am never alone. Like never ever alone.

I sleep with people. I bathe with people. I go to work with people. I am with people all day long.

Friday I had about 20 minutes alone: I stayed at school after my office mate left and didn’t call for my ride until the last minute that I could. I knew that Victor was home with fussy Jojo, but I selfishly took 20 minutes. (I mean, I was working…but still…)

I think I need to work on defining peaceful times in my life–or preplanning? In any case, this mama needs some peace, and morning sunrises on the beach aren’t an option for me…this year.

When Life in Mexico Just Becomes Life

When I quit my job (six years ago) and moved home to Tennessee, it was with the plan that I would spend a few months with friends in Mexico.  That plan went quickly from spending a few months to actually getting a job in Chiapas–but still with the plan to return to the United States in July of 2012.

You know that trite saying that if you want God to laugh you should tell him your plans?

My six months in Mexico has turned into (nearly) six years in Mexico.  My sabbatical-of-sorts has given me an amazing husband who serves the Lord and two little girls who keep the laughter and love bubbling in our home.  My trip-turned-life has allowed me to grow in my professional life as well, although that is perhaps the less important of these three gifts.

Somewhere along the way, Mexico stopped being funny writing material, and just became normal.  Now it’s the United States and their customs, way of thinking, and lifestyle that seem so foreign to me!!!  The people in the United States live to work and the people in Mexico work to live.  The people in the United States fill up their time with screens and activities that keep them away from their families–and even when they are with their families, the screen is a buffer of distraction.  The people in Mexico have family at the core, and everything else is secondary.

Our life in Mexico is peaceful, which is ironic considering my state is on a restricted travel list for government employees.  Our days are spent with my girls playing with their babies, the rooster crowing at all times of day, and the smell of something yummy wafting through the house.  During the week we buzz to school and daycare, but the evenings are our time–and we aren’t too tired to enjoy them!

When I write, the core is usually a place of great emotion.  When I have emotion that I can’t quite process, it’s hard to put that down into words.  This summer was full of surprise for us, as I found out that I will have to return to Tennessee to teach in order to keep my license.  As I prepare for my final year in Mexico, I no longer am experiencing Mexico firsts, but rather my lasts.  My last conventions. My last first day of school.  My last Independence Day. My last…

And so I find myself coming to this place again to write with a different lens: Yes, life in Mexico is just life, but it is coming to an end as our future unfolds before us.  I am trying to stay positive, as I know that God has good things planned for us.  (And how fitting that the same message that comforted me when I came here is comforting me as I prepare to leave here…)  I know that there are opportunities in the United States that will be good for our family, and that God is taking us back in his time.  I know that there will be ups and downs as we face the challenges of this year.  I know that someday, we will look back on this time as if it were a minor series of events.

Ah, well, what is life if it isn’t “a fine mingling of holding on and letting go?”