My, oh My!

Where to start, dear readers…

Life is daily: Ale and Jojo are loving school/daycare.  They love being with other children…and each other!  They greet one another almost every day with a smile and a hug.  It’s just a question of who will wake up the other sis!

Victor is growing his clientele, and has a job or two each day.  He’s also learning who the good customers are–and who he should stay away from!  There’s been a couple times he has needed some help, and eventually I see him growing this into a crew.  We are saving for a little work truck to increase his work area, and hopefully we will register him soon with the government in order to give receipts for tax purposes.

And I am still learning and struggling as a literacy coach!  There’s so much to learn and sometimes it is a bit disconcerting.  I feel so dumb and at the same time, it is incredibly empowering!  Learning what you don’t know and teaching it to others is a pretty cool thing!  I miss being in the classroom, and I would love to be back with kids someday.  I also really want to try out the things I learn!

We are planning a trip home this summer for the first time in two years, and I look forward to seeing my friends and family!  It’s strange and a little scary: the longer you are away from home, the easier it gets to be away from home…

Eek

We are excited for the weekend and family time/adventures.  (Although to be honest a trip to Starbucks is an “adventure” for us!)  We were FINALLY able to visit Parras, the magical pueblo with the oldest wineries in the Americas!  We also took off for a day trip to a local dam/river.  The water in the river was deep enough to allow us to wade and swim.  Jojo, ever the tremenda, walked straight into the river and plopped down on her bottom to play!  Ale is getting confident in her puddle-jumper, but is still rather cautious.
My little family looks forward to the years to come with great anticipation.  The current political climate in the United States isn’t something we wish to return to anytime soon.  We are exploring our options and thinking about what will be best for us–and where we might be able to go while the girls are still young and rootless.  I am not being coy, by hinting of adventures without telling exactly what they are–we truly don’t know what they are!   More than anything, we want to be in a place where we can be helpful for God’s work, be secure financially (Mama still has school loans…), and hopefully learn a new language!  On the other hand, if it doesn’t work out and we stay here for another few years, we are okay with that too!
We will see what God has in store for us–and we know we have to approach each day new and open to opportunities!
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Mama Said (There’d be Days Like This)

You ever have a Thursday that felt like a Monday?

You know, the kind that starts with babies who fuss and suckle all night–then wake up the moment you roll away from them, scream at the top of their lungs, and won’t stop until you crawl back into bed?

Have you ever had a day where you learn so much you just feel dumb at the vastness of what you don’t know in the subject area that you coach others?

Have you ever had a day SO productive it feels more like a week?

Have you ever had one of those days that is so busy you forget to pump your child’s milk until the last 30 minutes of the day–but you know you can’t go ahead and go home, because then she would nurse and you wouldn’t be able to squirrel away her stash?

Have you ever had to leave work, run through the drive through for supper, just to get to meeting on time–only to find out your child fell asleep two minutes before you make it to the meeting?

You know what meeting is like with a toddler who just learned to walk and wants down at every moment and an almost four-year-old who is so sleepy that you spend the first part of meeting waking her up and the next part telling her how you expect her to behave?

Have you ever give Motrin to one kid just to show the other it tastes good?  Have you had to take advantage of a toddler tripping, falling, and crying to shoot medicine into her mouth while she’s down for the count?

Have you ever ended your day by going to the bathroom only to find out that your husband used the last of the paper so you have to holler and ask for some?

And then…you wait…

Until your daughter brings you this: At least it’s time for bed.  Am I right?

Halloween (With a Three Year Old)

Halloween with a three year old means buying grey hoodies to make shark costumes.  It means singing “baby shark, doo doo…” over and over (and over and over…)

Halloween with a three year old means that the night before a school Halloween party she informs you that, no, she is going to be a witch.(duh.) It means she will need a broom.  A hat.  A skirt.  Witch tights.

     
  Halloween with a three year old means she can remove the spider dangling from the witch’s hat, because she doesn’t like spiders.

Halloween with a three year old means giggles ensue when she talks about her calzones that Pablo looked for under her tutu.

Halloween with a three year old means toys have to be picked up before trick or treating.  It means you have to help, because she has forgotten where they go.  (And that the clean up song is for school.)

Halloween with a three year old means keeping little hands busy by gluing notes onto the marshmallow bags you are handing out to neighbors.  It means she will groan with sheer exhaustion when she can’t handle gluing one more.

Halloween with a three year old means that 30 minutes before it is time to trick or treat, she will change her mind about her costume.  It means she will be a “princess.”  It means you will have to move the bed to find her crown that fell off after she went to bed with it on.

    
Halloween with a three year means they can trail behind the big kids hollering, “Queremos Halloween!”  It means they lug their bag of candy  without help while you watch from the street.

Halloween with a three year old means you stare in disbelief that the neighborhood party starts at 8 and keeps going strong at 9.  Those people clearly don’t have three year olds.  

Halloween with a three year old means leaving the park after she screams at you–a bit embarrassed but mostly glad for an opportunity to use love and logic.  It means you get to say things like, “Would you like to walk or would you like me to carry you?  Would you like a sip of water or would you prefer to go straight to bed?”

Halloween with a three year old means hearing for the first time how little your daughter likes you.  It means she will tell you she wants a different mami, and that she wants to give you to the police.  It means you will have to hide your smile even as part of you dies a little inside.

Halloween with a three year old means that cuddles, laughter, bedtime stories, and hand holding will remind her how much fun it is to be a three year old.  It means that you made it another night. 

  
Get your sleep, mama.  Threeangers are out to get you again tomorrow.  Because Tuesdays everyday with a three year old…

A Letter to My Girls 

  
Dear Darling Daughters,

Words can’t begin to express the joy that fills my heart when I watch you play.  There’s a closeness you have that I pray you will keep forever!  Once I worried about adding another baby to our family, and I find myself in that place of contentment and happiness again.  How could life ever become better, sweeter, than it is now?

This morning I snuck downstairs to start making breakfast while you snoozed happily away.  I don’t worry as much about leaving now that you have each other to keep company.  I cooked, cleaned the kitchen, mopped, and then you, my sweet big girl, appeared.  “I was sleeping,” you said, laughing, “and then Josie woke me up!”  Together we went to get our smiling happy baby ready for our day.

Tonight we sat together looking at photos as I prepared Josie’s paperwork for her American documents.  We exclaimed together over photos of our first baby learning to “read.”  We watched videos of you crawling, eating spaghetti, laughing… And, in a matter of minutes, we watched you grow all over again!  Time passed before our eyes, and while you were busy, your daddy and I talked.  We talked about life before you–how young and skinny we were. We talked about the stories behind the photos. We talked about today:  “Mama, I love you,” you said.  “I love you too, honey,” I replied.  “That’s music to my ears!” you fired back with a sweet smile.  We talked about you playing with your friends and trying out your Spanish for a while.  We talked about you being “too busy to play caballito with Josie.”  

Ahhh… My heart is so full! My cup runneth over!   

Sweet babies, I look forward to what tomorrow might bring: your sweet giggles, the cuddles and kisses, and the memories being made.  I know that tomorrow there will also be a point where my frustration will rise as my patience slowly fades.  I hope that isn’t the moment that you or I remember.  Even as I write this, I remember a moment last week. While grumpy, I managed to keep an even voice as I corrected you.  “Okay, mama,” you said, “I can do that.  Thank you for talking nice to me.” 

You, my girls, are growing before my eyes, and I want to remember every touch of your hand–holding onto mine as you nurse, grabbing my face as you kiss me goodbye…again…and again…  I want to remember the twinkle in your eye when you ask for pancakes.  I want to remember the grunt you let out as you demand attention, and the fullness of your smile when you receive it–pushing up onto your hands, ready to crawl. I want to remember the way you talk to yourself as you play.  And those moments of you together, when you ask me for the millionth time what your sister said with each coo she emits. 

You, my dear, sweet girls, are the sun in our day.  Shine on us.  Let us revolve around you a bit and collect your warmth.  You help our family grow.  You give us light and life.  Shine on, sweet girls.

Until tomorrow, sleep tight in my arms.
Love,
Mama
   

The Golden Hour

Any parent can tell you the golden hour of the day is when the kids fall asleep.  Freedom!  It’s that time where you can read, watch a show, or maybe even just clean up the uneaten food they left all over the table in various bowls… 

This week our oldest had some kind of stomach virus.  (I swear it is because she won’t stop drinking the pool/bath water.) In addition to tummy troubles, she was restless, unable to sleep well, whiny, and overall, not very fun to be around. 

The third night, I literally gave my husband a high five as we walked home from a friend’s house.  The girls BOTH fell asleep in their strollers on the way home.  I began mentally planning what to do to fill up my golden hour.

Then the little monsters woke up.

I tried all my normal tricks: breastmilk, singing, fake sleeping, the silent treatment.  We took them out for another walk at 11:30pm, hoping they would fall back asleep.  Immediately I should have known we were in for a long one when Ale, looking around at all the dark houses, exclaimed loudly, “Heeeeey! What’s going on here?!  Why are all these people asleep?!”

Here are my monsters today. They took a break from plotting my nervous breakdown to be sweet with each other.

Pure Joy

There may be no greater delight than…

  • Watching my girls giggle together
  • Seeing them cuddled next to one another with arms slung above their heads fast asleep
  • Hearing the old one talk to the new one 
  • Hearing the new one coo at the first one
  • Dreaming of the fun they’ll some day have–telling secrets, sharing sorrow, growing in love

  Ahhh…how sweet it is!
  

The Places You Shouldn’t Write

I am a literacy coach.  It is literally my job to promote reading and writing.  I love seeing the way Ale is growing as a young reader and writer, and I try to encourage her to “write.”  I rejoice in watching her fine motor skills develop as she, now purposefully, grips her pencils.  I bought crayons long before she had the strength to make them show up on paper.  She has had notebooks for years that we carry along for busy hands.  She has an art box from my dreams overflowing with colors, stickers, and scraps of paper for her to glue.

Unfortunately, in our family, it has become a common question: “Ale, where can you write with that?”  She always replies, “Only on paper!”  That’s because we’re discovering all the places that we shouldn’t write, and our list grew again today:

1). Walls.  Beware of the quiet child with markers.  Watch out for sneaky glances as three year old hands hide markers in the folds of her skirt while backing out the room.  And finally, if someone tells you to stay as she runs the opposite way, you should follow.

2). Tables.  Just because your paper is on the table doesn’t mean you should write on the table…

3). Couches. The couch has its own rule book.  Food and drinks aren’t allowed there.  Play Doh is also on the list.  Shoes aren’t welcome anymore either.  

4). Books.  This is hard to explain.  It IS paper.  There are pictures.  Some books are for writing.  Others aren’t.  Most aren’t.  So, back. Away. From. The. Book. With. Your. Markers! 

5). Babies.  Don’t do it.  Of all the places you’ve written, this may be the one I least expected.  You shouldn’t write on babies…

This is what I came home to this afternoon, with an excited three year old telling me she “painted” the baby.

My Worries as a “Teacher Mom”

My biggest kid is starting school next year.  (Here in Mexico kids start around age three in preschool.)   I have been a little concerned about something, and tonight I decided to write about it:

What if my kid is worse than I think?  What if she isn’t always the person I see her be, and she morphs into a school monster?  (Some kids are totally different in the privacy of their own home…) What if I can’t see how she really is through my mom-blindness?

This is seriously worries me.

I think mom-blindness is a real thing.  It doesn’t matter how big your kid gets; once they engage in an altercation with someone, the mama bear emerges with claws blazing.  Sometimes we think bears only attack when provoked.  That’s where the expression comes from, right?  It’s the don’t-pick-on-my-baby response that every mom has.  

That’s all fine and dandy, but guess what?  This morning I read about a guy who was attacked in his tent while he was asleep.  When they recovered his possessions, everything was chewed to bits.  With no true cause, the bear attacked a man and all the inanimate objects in his tent.

What if I am a mama bear when I shouldn’t be?  Like, maybe MY kid is at fault and not the other person sometimes.  

I have tried to explain to daycare some of Ale’s “quirks.”  She doesn’t talk until she’s comfortable.  She is fully potty-trained, so I can’t explain why she doesn’t tell you she needs to go.  She didn’t have a sibling until three months past, so maybe that is why she doesn’t share.  But what if all of these are just excuses, and my kid is just that kid with a crazy teacher mom.

What if I make too many excuses for my child’s behavior because of mom-blindness?

I am making it my purpose to be less subjective.  I will try to take a step back and consider my kid’s potential for misbehavior when analyzing what other people say.  I will try to see the situation through their eyes.  I will try to see past my innate love for my child, to see the real her (faults and all).  Then, I will love her anyway.

An ex’s mom told me that once: “We don’t always like what our kids do, but we still love them.”  I understand that better now than ever before.

So, I will love her.  But I don’t want my love to ever enable her misbehavior to continue.  I want to be able to correct my child and love her at the same time.  And I want eyes that see clearly through it all.

  

A Letter to My Three-nager on Mother’s Day

Dear Three-Year Old,

Today is Mexican Mother’s Day.  My day.  So I’ve decided to come clean:  You aren’t always fun.

This occurred to me today as you jumped back and forth on the bed, routinely pinching my cheeks as if I were a cute little kid who caught your fancy.  When I scolded you gently for hurting me, you laughed, dancing away out of my reach.  Once you found the eyebrow brush, you were back: sweeping my hair into my eyes with that vicious little comb giggling as I fought back the urge to scream.

When did we get to this place, you little shit sugar plum?  Aren’t you supposed to wait another 10 years before you get on my nerves?

While I am at it, what is so fun about drawing on the walls??  I mean, I get you coloring books.  I get you giant white paper.  We bought you an easel.  We bought chalk and fun crayons.  So why did you sneak out of the room with the black sharpie hidden in your skirt-tails, then quickly uncap it and write on the walls before I could get to you?  What’s the deal?  (And on walls made of concrete and flat paint, no less.  There will be no magic eraser magic enough to remove your masterpiece.)

You know what else?  It’s “Mudder’s Day” today.  What I really wanted was to go to Starbucks and eat a piadini with spinach and egg whites.  Those sandwiches are what my food dreams are made of these days.  But where did we end up for “Mudder’s Day” supper?  Happy Chicken.  YOUR favorite place.  And then, you little booger, you didn’t eat three bites.  Full disclosure:  next “Mudder’s Day” you are going to eat a muffin for supper so that I can have what I want.

Little girl, you better count your lucky stars that these “no fun” moments are out-weighed by the super-fun moments.

You made us giggle behind our hands today as you scolded that poor little boy at Pollo Feliz.  “No gritas a tu papa y tu mama!” you told him, with a tone of firmness hidden in your sweetness.  Really, my love?  No yelling?  That’s the message you are going to send to another kid when our days, of late, are filled with your shrillness?  And what’s the deal with the Spanish?  Don’t you know I have been worried sick that you will be another Mexican kid who speaks no Spanish?  Now you decide it is the moment to unleash the skills of your linguistic-ness?

 It’s a good thing that “No” means the same thing in English and Spanish, because that is the most common word you are probably hearing right now.  No, you can’t take your sister down the slide.  She’s only three months.  No, you can’t put the balls from the ball pit in your mouth.  No, you have supper on the table, you can’t have ice cream instead.  No, that’s your third cup of juice, drink some water.  No, you can’t wear your tutu to meeting.  No, you can’t pour the shampoo in the bath to make bubbles for Barbie.  No, Sissy can’t be pulled on like that–she doesn’t like it.  No, you can’t stay up with Daddy, we have to sleep.

Sigh.  Mama’s tired, Ale.

We didn’t even bother to hide our amusement as you became the server at the coffee shop.  I have no idea how you dreamed up a “peanut butter surprise,” but it could be from the three times in three days I’ve caught you eating peanut butter from the jar with a spoon. You might have your Papi fooled, but I see through you, Punkin’.  Today Daddy kept saying, “Ale is really beautiful, Jania.”  Ummm hmmm…  Back and forth you marched, Sassy Britches, in and out of the room asking questions about how we wanted our peanut butter surprise.  Those eyes were twinkling with all the mischief in the world.  (BTW, watch out, World…)

 
Daddy’s right, Love, you are beautiful.  Even in those moments when I wish you would just go away and let me wipe my tush in peace.  Or take a bath without you.  Or make bread without giving you jobs to keep busy.  See, even in those moments, I want you there.  It’s like you are the best and the worst part of my days all wrapped up in a ball of constant chatter and energy.  And if you weren’t there, it wouldn’t be the same.  It wouldn’t be “Mudder’s Day.”

No, you aren’t always fun.  But, just when I think I can’t take it anymore you do something adorable.

Thanks for making my day, Dear Child.

Love,
Your “mudder”

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.