Preparing for Juarez

I belong to a few groups on Facebook. I guess one might call them support groups–as they are made up of people like us trying to get visa approval for immigration to the United States of America.

It was there I first learned that my understanding of the process for Victors waivers was incorrect. It was there I learned of the change in processing time for waivers. (They used to be processed in 4-6 months. Now the processing time is officially 13.5-18 months.) It was in one of these groups that I read something welcomed: the calendar of appointments in Juarez was updated to included new appointments for April, May, and June.

We changed Victor’s appointment from July to the last days of April. Now we are preparing for his appointment.

Once the appointment is made, we can start really preparing. Victor will have to have several appointments prior to his actual visa appointment (in which we know he will be denied). He will have an in-depth medical appointment, which costs a couple hundred dollars. The price includes of they determine that he needs additional vaccinations, etc. Some people end up paying around $500 just for the medical appointment. We are going to try to get Victor’s immunizations here at the clinic to save us $250 or more…

Additionally, he has to get fingerprinted well ahead of his visa appointment. If we were like most people, we would also need to rent a hotel room for Victor for around a week. That’s an added expense we are hoping to avoid by staying with friends.

Of course, when it comes to expenses, Victor will still need to pay for the visa appointment ($320) and for the travelogue and from Juarez. Additionally, he will need money for food, etc.

You’ve heard me tell you before this isn’t an easy process–now let me tell you that this is also not a cheap process. We will be lucky if we spend less than $1,000 USD for this step. And this isn’t even our complicated step…

Once he is denied, he will be notified of the waivers that he can file. Together, to file those papers will cost just shy of $2,000 USD. Oh, and you must pay for all of these items in advance. The payment isn’t upon approval–you pay, and really hope you get approved, because who can afford to do it all again?

The money is secondary to the stress that I feel preparing for the visa appointment. There are so many papers required, it feels like a struggle to get them together. Additionally, all documents in Spanish must be translated. That costs around $12-15 per page. Copies of the documents are to be made and labeled for quick access. The originals must accompany Victor–as they might also be requested.

Remember when I mentioned how hard it is to immigrate? I’ve said this before: I am an intelligent, literate, educated citizen…and I struggle. Now, let’s think of all the people who cross the border from a place of desperation. This isn’t easy. It isn’t quick. There is nothing about it that makes this an enjoyable experience for any of us. The only comfort Victor and I have is knowing that we serve a God who has good things planned for us.

On that note I will sign off for now.

Immigration Costs (in USD): I-130 $420+travel costs $300+translations $100+photographs $10=$830 total

Advertisements

An Immigration Update

I’ve avoided writing this post as I wait to figure out what is going on in this crazy world we live in. This morning I read the news while lying beside the girls, and one article stood out to me. A family, separated when the dad of three was deported. He wasn’t a drug dealer, a rapist, or whatever other ugly term is currently in fashion for describing undocumented immigrants. He was a dad of three, working in agriculture in the U.S. with nothing on his record in addition to his immigration status.

The article mentioned that while more immigrants were deported under the Obama administration, the biggest change is the increase in arrests of people who aren’t hardened criminals. It suggested that raising fear in people was the intent. Then it’d said something, about how children are in a constant state of anxiety. Parents are being advised to have “what if” plans drawn up giving legal rights to someone in the event of their deportation.

Families are being split up without getting a choice in the matter, but I have a choice.

I am going to stay in Mexico one more year while we wait on my husband’s papers. I am not going to move the girls away, just because that was our original plan. I will file the papers, and wait.

See, last week we found out that it is taking 15 months for approval on waivers that once took 4-6 months. This, apparently, is due to a shortage of staff in Customs and Immigration . If we file when we think we can, it means that we will be in the U.S. while Victor is here for around a year and a half. Ale would be nearly 7 and Jojo nearly 4. It isn’t worth it…

A friend reminded me of God’s timing a few days ago. And so, again I find myself in the place of realizing how hard I tried to make something happen in a time that it wasn’t meant to happen.

One more year in Mexico is all the difference between us paying for two households, us finding child care for Jojo, us stressing to find Victor a house to move into… now we will have one more year to work on Spanish, one more year to help out here in the meetings, one more year to work on getting ready for this big change that’s coming our way.

One year passes quickly, and who knows what gifts it has in store for us?!

Thankfulness

My babies are upstairs asleep, with Victor snoozing alongside them.  We’re sleeping as close as we can get, because the nights have been chilly!  It’s been getting down into the 40’s–which is super cold in the desert when the days are still reaching into the upper 80’s / lower 90’s.

I’ve had an eventful Thanksgiving week:

  • We went for our first appointment in the paperwork process for Victor’s visa.  Ale heard me talking about working on Daddy’s “papers” last weekend, and she make him some.  There was a picture of us together (we have to prove we are married enough), and some writing.  She brought them to me proudly, as she had also recruited her sis to help.  I packed them with our real documents, and took them to the appointment.

    Ale’s “Papers for Daddy”

  • Thanksgiving Day was my fifth Thanksgiving in Mexico (the first Thanksgiving, I flew home for a baby shower).  We hosted our fourth Thanksgiving–and this one was the easiest, by far!  The turkey was PERFECT.  The dressing was moist and tasted just like I remember.  The rolls rose in record time due to all the cooking going on, and Ale and I shared a couple while we waiting for the guest to arrive.
  • We celebrated a second Thanksgiving with the workers the following night.  We saved some turkey, but I also made potato salad, more rolls, and fresh gravy.  I had turkey broth bubbling away, so the house smelled like Thanksgiving all over again!  This was a treat–as I have always wanted to have the workers for Thanksgiving.  One of our workers is from Texas, so he also appreciates southern cooking and sweet tea.  That always makes my day.  We also enjoyed great conversation, a good study of the last chapter of Revelations, and the peace that comes on the feet of those that carry the gospel!
  • We have chili in the crock pot simmering overnight–as tomorrow we will have potluck after meeting.  This is traditionally what we do when the workers are in town.  It’s our way of everyone getting a little extra fellowship.  I offered to make tamales, but that idea was rejected.  Then I offered to make mole to go with the tamales that someone else is making.  That was also rejected.  When I offered to make chili, I had to follow it up with the explanation, “You know, the beans that I made before…”  haha! They love my “beans.”

I am looking forward to the rest of this year.  Victor and I will have a six years in Mexico anniversary, followed shortly there after with our actual six year anniversary.  I am still hoping that we will be able to make it to Chiapas during winter break to visit with the abuelitos and primos!  Ale is at the perfect age for a visit to see her family.  She speaks amazing Spanish, and loves to hear all about Chiapas.  She asks questions like, “Mom, do they have cars in Chiapas?”  Tonight I told her that when we go to Chiapas, it is kind of like camping.  That we will probably sleep together on the floor.  She was unfazed, and started talking about roasting marshmallows (we have never done this…) with her cousins over the campfire.

Jojo is talking quite a lot!  She loves to play a game where we say words and she repeats us.  Tonight we were naming all of the family members, and when we got to abuelito, she said “popo.”  Ale died laughing, “Mom! She said ‘popo.’  That means poop!”  Speaking of poop, Victor explains gross things to Jojo, by saying, “Ewww! poo-poo!”  This is so she won’t touch things that are icky on the street, but she has adopted it for anything gross.  She also waves to the toilet overtime it flushes, and says, “Bye-bye, poo-poo!”  This kid…  She brings me so much joy and so much stress all at the same time.  She loves her sis, and has begun to demand equal treatment, by saying, “Me too.”  Sometimes all she says is “too,” but she makes sure that you know what she means!

A selfie with my little booger…

Victor and I are trying to stay encouraged about his paperwork process.  Sometimes it is difficult, as the requirements are overwhelming, and the process rather costly.  Americans have no clue how difficult it is for honest, hard-working people to get permission to work in the U.S.  The people who easily get accepted are people with loads of money, and unfortunately, loads of money doesn’t always equal honest+hardworking.  It’s really an intimidating process, and even more so when you give it a go without a lawyer’s help.  I trust that my friends and family have us in their thoughts and prayers–and I also pray for “the peace of a perfect trust.”

This post has turned out to be more of an update than anything else… If you’re still reading, you must love us!  😉

A Letter to My Husband on Father’s Day

Dear Husband,

Thank you.  You probably don’t hear it enough from me.  Today I am feeling so grateful for having you to “do life” with me.  You have a way of making problems disappear.  You put stressful situations into perspective; you are the calm to my storm.  

Today has been a busy Father’s Day for you–moving this morning wasn’t an ideal way to spend our Sunday.  Another house.  A lot more stuff.  A wife and two kids who are all three pretty useless moving things… And then tonight, as you left to play in the park with Ale, I felt my heart swell with happiness.  Your girls love you so much, and I know that there is little you wouldn’t do for them.  

 
I never expected to meet you when I came to Mexico.  I came to bask in my singleness–to regain my power.  I had no idea that you were waiting for me.  You exceed my expectations daily, and I say a silent prayer of thankfulness to have you around me.  You make me a better person with your constant support and guidance.

  

I realize that it is a sacrifice to stay home with the baby again, and I am so grateful!  She is building a relationship with you, and every guy she dates will be held up next to you for comparison.  Furthermore, I leave my babies knowing they gave the best care that anyone could give.   Josie will grow up like Ale: loving her “pops” more than anyone, begging to “hang out” with him instead of sleeping, and one day soon, she’ll greet you with a “Happy Fadder’s Day!”

  
So today, Fadder’s Day, I want to say thank you, my love.  Thank you for your positivity, your strength, and your wisdom. Happy Father’s Day to you.

Love always,

Your esposa

Mommy Sandwich Every Night

  
This week my kid had her first ham sandwich.  I don’t typically buy sandwich meat from the deli counter, and if I ever do–it is turkey.  But my first day back to work called for a sandwich, and after a bite, Ale was a ham lover.  She seems to sense when a sandwich has been made, and after a bite or two, she slides over to snatch it from my hands.

Today she asked for a sandwich, and I told her we were out.  She said, with more than a little exasperation in her voice and eyes slightly buggy, “Do we have peanut butter?  Do we have jelly?  Put it together, and that’s a sandwich!

Now it is the finish of a long day, and I am lying in bed with my sweeties on both sides.  I can’t help thinking that this is the only sandwich I want: a mommy sandwich.  I can hear both of them breathing, and every once in a while, a little snore.  Ale is cuddled in her “big girl bed,” which is flush against our bed.  She has her Barbie (with wet hair after her bath) and her baby lying beside her.  (Baby had to come to bed with us tonight, because she wanted chichi.)

My chichi monster is on the other side of me.  She’s propped up on my boppy with her arms thrown up in the air.  Her binky is lodged between her ear and the pillow, where it fell when her suckling stopped.  She’s already kicked her blanket down below her feet, but soon she will be recovered to ensure her warmth in our air conditioned bedroom.  Her breathing is a bit erratic and is interrupted by little grunts.

Some people don’t like sleeping with others.  They say they sleep better alone.  Babies sleep in cribs with monitors allowing the parents mothers to listen from afar.  It is true that I will wake up half a dozen times tonight.  Josie will nurse at least twice.  But sleeping with Mama means that her stretches of sleep are around five hours.  Ale might have a nightmare; that has been happening lately.  Mami can soothe her right away with a little pat or a song.  Victor will come to bed in another hour or so, and that will wake me up too.  Someone may need a diaper change or a drink of water.  We can’t all sleep like a baby husband, so I will be awake at the slightest change in breathing.

I don’t mind.

Being the middle part of a mama sandwich is the best job around.  In fact, you might say that despite the love we have been showing sandwiches these days, a mama sandwich is still the most popular sandwich on the menu.

A Letter to Our New Baby

Dear Sweet Baby,

I am lying in bed in the middle of the day with you at my side.  You are starting to drift off to sleep, and your eyes keep fluttering shut.    Sissy is busy, and Daddy walked to the store, so we have a few minutes of just you and me. 

   

I can’t believe how much you’ve grown in nearly eight weeks!!  You have started to fill out, and your cheeks are so chubby!  I love watching your dimples when you flash a big smile at me when I talk to you.  

Tomorrow I leave you and Daddy for the first of many days where I have to go to work.  I don’t want to leave you, precious baby.  I don’t want to think about you growing without me, but I’ve been through this before:  Your first laugh will probably be at your silly daddy.  You will roll over with him as a witness.  You will reach out and grab his nose in wonder.  You will push up on all fours with Daddy watching you.  You will walk with Daddy, talk with your daddy, and play with Daddy at the park.  One day soon, I will come home and hear how big you are because of something new that you’ve done, and my heart will burst.  I will have to fake happiness, while secretly hiding my jealously.

For the next year, you and your daddy are going to be best friends. You will reach for him when you need something.  He will be the one to dry your little eyes and comfort you when you fall down.  Daddy will be your hero, and that’s okay.  He’s my favorite too.

Mama will steal moments with you at night while everyone else is asleep.  You and I will put your sister and daddy to bed; when they are fast asleep, we will get up and sneak out of the room.  We will cuddle together on the couch, and I will nurse you until the sandman visits you with dreams too. 

  
You’re asleep now, my love, and I hope you’re dreaming of me, because you are what MY dreams are made of.  

Love,

Your mama (on the eve of her return to work)

A Birth Story, Part Four (The Birth)

When I booked the reservation at the hotel, something told me that my little girl would cut our visit short.  I completely relaxed during that final day, and perhaps that is what coaxed my littlest love to arrive: a mommy’s body doesn’t cooperate well when it is in a stressful situation.

(*See footnote for explanation of “Ding Dang Baby.”)

My contractions began at around 11pm, and I just continued to read while relaxing in bed.  They seemed pretty steady though, and I mentioned them to Victor about an hour later.  He asked if I wanted to go home.  I didn’t really see the need of abandoning our hotel room until we knew for sure this was it.  I also wasn’t in a hurry: Ale took forever to be born, so I thought we had plenty of time ahead of us.

Ale was asleep, so I just continued to monitor the situation without waking her.  Finally, I decided I would use the app on my phone.  It helped me to realize that maybe we were further along than expected.  Around 2:30am we started the process of cleaning up and packing up the hotel.  Ale awoke and couldn’t understand why we couldn’t go swimming.  She had started the day wearing her swimsuit and tutu, and at this point was dancing around the hotel room wired.  I had been telling her for a month that her sister was “coming soon,” so she was pretty unphased.  That is until the contractions were strong enough for me to need to stop and breath.  “Mama, stop!  Stop doing that!” she said more than once.

Pre-Josie 4

This was our last family photo before Josie was born.  Victor was a little irritated that I wanted a photo during my labor–so there was no time for a retake!

Victor called his mom to let her know I was in labor, and I called the midwife as we were leaving the hotel.  I also notified my mom and sister, as promised.  Clearly it was the middle of the night, as both of them asked me if I was going to go home…  Umm, no, I thought I would I would just use the bathtub here.  

This chat spans a couple of hours.

I not-so-patiently checked out of the hotel.  Contractions were pretty strong, and I had to stop to breath through them several times during the process.   I would feel one beginning, and tell the middle-aged man behind the counter, “Excuse me.”  Then I would turn my back on him, walk to the wall, hold on, and breath for a minute.  When the contraction subsided, I walked back, smiled, and apologized.

The taxi arrived and I joined my family outside.  (My husband must have been a little nervous.  He let my toddler pee in front of the hotel before getting in he taxi.  No time for a bathroom break! No sir!)  The ride home was pretty quick.  I sat in the front seat just to continue making middle-aged Mexican men uncomfortable.

We arrived home and began getting the room ready.  Remember when I said I thought we had plenty of time?  Well, we didn’t prepare the room before leaving for the hotel… So there we were, 3:30 in the morning getting everything in order.  I went through the baby basket and cleaned off the table in our room.  (By “cleaned off the table,” I actually mean I swept everything into a bag and stashed it in the closet.)  I am pretty sure Victor swept and mopped.  Finally, I took a permanent break from getting the room ready to concentrate on getting my body ready.

 My contractions were strong.  I know this next part sounds crazy, so don’t judge me: As a contraction would start, I would imagine a tall skinny man.  That’s what it felt like.  The contraction was like a long line that went down my back.  With my hands braced against the wall, I would start at his head and breath my way down his body.  Weird, I know.  It helped though, a coping mechanism of sorts.  I also nodded my head as I breathed, so I am pretty sure I looked nuts too.

The bathroom was nice because it was dark and private, but at this point it felt good to stand up.  I didn’t want to bend over, lay against the sink/wall, squat on the toilet, etc.  It felt good to stand straight pushing out to my sides with both hands against the doorframe.  My midwife arrived and did a quick check on the baby.

She, her crew, and Victor worked in the bedroom to get the pool set up and filled.  I literally didn’t see my husband again until the baby was born.  My labor was requiring all my concentration, and I didn’t have a break or all the time in the world to chit-chat like I did with Ale.  Finally I asked if the tub was ready, and continued my labor there.

I have sweet memories of Ale during this time.  She would check on me during contractions.  A couple times I remember her getting right down in my face and smiling a big, fake, slightly terrified looking smile.  I was aware that she was there and needed some reassurance.  I would smile back (I think, although it was probably more of a grimace.), tell her I was fine, and let her know baby sister would be there soon.  She joined me, bathing suit and all, in the birthing tub.  My midwife showed her how to pour water on my back during the contractions.  At some point, she got out and fell asleep in the next room.  Later I found out that she refused to remove her bathing suit before sleeping.

In the pool my contractions changed.  They weren’t a tall, skinny man anymore.  They morphed into a short, fat man.  Instead of long pain, it was horizontal and stretched across my back.  The short, fat man wasn’t nearly as nice as the tall guy. The coolest thing is that depending on my pain, my midwife knew where the baby was.  She didn’t make me get out of the water to check the progress, because she could tell the labor was progressing.  She also didn’t check to see that I was dilated, so I have no idea how far along I was.

It seemed like I was in the birthing tub for hours.  Later, Tirsa (the midwife) told me it was only about an hour.  I laid down a while, like one might in a bathtub.  Then Tirsa said it could help to change my position and move my hips.  I would ask questions like, “Why is there no break?” “Why does it only hurt on one side?”  She would just answer, and we would rest until the next contraction.  She applied counter pressure to by lower back and hips during the contractions, as well as pouring the warm water over my back.  I was on my knees while lying against the side of the tub.  I remember somehow working my way from one side of the tub to the other.

I didn’t voice these thoughts aloud, but in my head I thought, “Never again.” “I understand why women like drugs,” etc.  When I started getting the urge to push it seemed unreal.  With Ale I would push, then fall asleep in between contractions.  With Josie, there was no time!  I remember telling everyone I felt like I needed to poop.  (A bit embarrassing now…)  Tirsa said, “That’s because your baby is coming!”  Someone got my errant husband, and he held me at the end.  Three contractions back-to-back and Josie arrived!  I was on my knees, so they helped her swim between my legs to the front.  I laid back, and put her on my chest.  Wow.  That feeling.  Even writing about it now makes me tingle inside.

IMG_1251

The hours after her birth were amazing too.

I had watched this really inspiring video about the breast crawl, and I wanted to see if it worked.  We moved to the bed and placed Josie on my chest.  It was totally cool!  Within 30 minutes she latched onto my breast.  I delivered the placenta, but it was just placed into a bag alongside of us.  I don’t remember when we cut the cord, but it was so calm in the room, it wasn’t a big deal!  I moved to rest against the wall, and we continued to work on breastfeeding.  I had (mistakenly) thought that after nursing Ale for 2 years and 4 months, I would be a pro.  Wrong.  Feeding a newborn is no task for the faint-hearted!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I feel like I should reiterate how calm it was.  Maybe I felt calmer because it was my second baby, but the general atmosphere of the room (and the people present) was peaceful with Josie.  I had a home birth and water birth with Ale, but it wasn’t exactly the calmest environment.  In fact, Josie’s entire labor was MUCH calmer.  When it was over, I almost immediately felt like I could do it again.

IMG_1226

Ale meets her sister, Joselyn Victoria.  (Josie’s name is a combination of my brother, Joseph, and my sister, Jenny Lyn.  Her middle name is in honor of her Papi, Victor.)

I have so enjoyed looking back over the photos.  The following photos are of the hours/days following Joselyn’s arrival:

 

 

 

IMG_1261

Josie is one day old! (Yes, she’s at McDonald’s.  We took her sister there after registering Josie’s birth with the powers that be…)

IMG_1266

IMG_1284

Ale’s special Big Sister cake that she helped to make. (Because only BIG girls get to cook with Mami–not babies.)

IMG_1295

IMG_1300

Daddy and Josie!

 

IMG_1307

Sister still likes to poke the baby’s cheeks! I blame that on old Mexican women who always grab her cheeks. 😉

IMG_0837

Abuela and Josie; My mother-in-law is something special.  Upon meeting Josie, she THANKED me.  It still makes tears come to my eyes to think about it!

IMG_0855

Los Abuelos! Having them here for Josie’s birth was really special.

IMG_1316

IMG_1317

Sweet girl…

* “Ding Dang Baby” is from a Jacqueline Woodson book, Pecan Pie Baby.  I read the book when I was pregnant, and I sat and cried in my office.  It is all about a sister who isn’t overly excited about the birth of her sibling.  She calls him a “Ding Dang Baby.”  I was really worried about Ale being hurt or feeling replaced by Josie.  After reading the book to my mom, we often referred to Josie as the “Ding Dang Baby.”  This is an AMAZING book, by the way.

** I am SO happy I have these text messages with Mama and Jenny.  Not only do they remind me of details, but they provide quite a bit of comic relief!

Love in the Sink–Year Three

IMG_5629

Today is our anniversary–three wonderful years! We were talking about going out last week, and I mentioned getting a babysitter for Allie. “Or,” Victor replied, “We can just take her with us.”

What was unexpected was that we would wake up today forgetting it was the anniversary, rush out the door to catch the bus to school, then receive a call from daycare that the punkin’ is sick…again… (Daycare will be the death of us…) The family anniversary date is on hold for the time being.

In any case, I love my sweet husband with that big ol’ heart! These three years have been so full of love for us–sloshing over the side like Ale’s bath water! He never ceases to amaze me with his high moral standards, kindness and compassion for others, and his love for his family. Here’s to another three years!

My cup runneth over…

IMG_5882

Two months of Silence

My two months of silence have another name: Summer vacation. Well, make that summer vacation plus really bad customer service at our local Telephone and Internet provider.

We finally made it back to Northern Mexico, and we are now in our new house. This is the sixth place Victor and I have lived together in two and a half years. That’s a bit nuts. When we were getting ready to move here, all I could think was, “Whew! We won’t have to move again until we go home!” At least, here’s to hoping!

My little Ale Cat is growing up. She is starting to talk, place, and get a little crazy hyper. I feel like there have been a couple times this week where she was slap-happy-sleepy-drunk. She is a lot of fun.

IMG_5095.JPG

I’ve started back to work–and I am in my new office! I had a hard time the first couple days. I felt like I was playing dress-up. It feels good now–except ai feel like I have to prove something to my teachers. I have been working super hard the last couple weeks, and worrying a little too much. My second case of iritis since I’ve been in Mexico struck on Sunday. My doctor complemented my ability to self-diagnose. The funny thing is, I was hoping the whole time that I was wrong.

I immediately began to try to calm down. And I had Victor shop for some inflammation fighting foods. It just so happens that they are also delicious… Beets, spinach, and sweet potatoes are accompanying each meal.

My sweet husband is working hard chasing after Ale and getting us settled. I know I’ve said this before, but he is so long-suffering…

IMG_4901.JPG

I am a lucky gal.

IMG_4925.JPG

Oops! A Passport Problem

I know I have to trust him with this, I said. I was explaining to my friend what was going on in my head while I let my husband handle the baby’s passport paperwork. Normally I take care of important paperwork, but I was feeling more than a little overwhelmed. We are moving houses. I’m moving to an office for my new job. We have end of the school year madness at work…

So, he did the research.
He made the copies.
He got the doctor’s signature/letter of health.
He printed what we needed.
He paid for the passport.

I only had to do one thing: make the appointment. I made the appointment–it’s for June 24, 2014. That wouldn’t be a problem, except I will be leaving Mexico this Friday, June 20th…