Summer Lovin’

I’ve been out of school for a few weeks now, and I am reminded how hard it is to be a stay-at-home mom.

In any case, I’ve enjoyed getting to see my kids grow and interact with one another and the people around them.  Days are full with a routine that I’ve come to enjoy:

When I wake up, I can smell the coffee wafting upstairs.  This lets me know that Derek is already awake, and he pushed the button.  I roll out of bed, throw on some leggings with a skirt to keep a few secrets from all my friends.  By now, Bubbles is barking, anticipating his walk.

I struggle into my tennis shoes, reminding myself that 1) I need to stretch 2) I need to lose weight.  I hurry outside to cajole the pup into sitting through his excitement.  I clip on my fanny-pack full of baggies for poop (How low has mankind stooped to pick up canine poop?), money for tortillas, and doggie treats.  I begin my audiobook and fitness tracker, and Bubbles and I set out.

If you’re like me and you struggle with exercising, you should download an audiobook.  It’s amazing to WANT to exercise so that I can find out what happens next in my book.  Nerd alert?  Currently I am listening to The Zookeeper’s Wife.  That’s because I couldn’t find a good young adult novel quick enough the other day.  It’s nice to pretend I am grown-up for a change.

Bubbles and I trot along the street, following the shade when we’ve left the house too late.  I remind myself that I need to leave earlier tomorrow.  We say hello to dogs, runners, and domestic workers on their way to work.  We greet the guard at the school and wave to the groundskeepers who daily water and clean up the pristine lawn.

Finally, we turn back towards the tortilla shop, buy the beans and tortillas for breakfast and head back home.

Once home, Bubbles gets fed and watered.  A handful of dog food goes with me to chicken coop along with the scraps from the day before.  I collect eggs and turn to go back inside to begin breakfast for the day.

Our houseguests and friends enjoy a Mexican breakfast, as does my husband.  So breakfast consists of fresh salsa, tortillas, beans, and eggs.  Occasionally it includes bacon or hotdog sausages.  Sometimes we make migas–where old, cold tortillas are cut into pieces and fried with eggs and onions.  Afterwards, I clean up and we have a little study or sing a couple hymns before Victor heads off to work.

The girls and I do some chores or go shopping for groceries.  Then it is time for a nap.  Jojo and I nap, while Ale hangs out.  I can’t figure out why she isn’t tired like we are.

By the time we get up from our nap, it’s time to prepare Mexican lunch (2:00 p.m.).  Sometimes the girls and I will eat before our nap if the workers are heading out for visits in the area.  Victor pops in at some point and eats, or we take him lunch wherever he happens to be.

Cleaning…more dishes…more chores… and it is time for Mexican supper (8:00 p.m.).  On evenings that the workers are visiting for supper, we eat like Americans around 6:00 p.m. then we head out to walk or play with the dog.

The girls each have their little moments of hilarity.  Jojo is speaking more English now, in addition to the Spanish that rattles out all the time.  She asks for us to pray in English (Engish) when we sit down to eat or pray in the evening.  She says, “Coco-Mijo” in the place of con permiso or “excuse me” in Spanish.  She calls Ale, “my baby” and her daddy, “mi Victor.”  When Victor loses his patience with the dog or Ale, she will say, “Daddy, tu a babe!”  She means to say, “She’s a baby!”  She loves me to sing a song about Bubbles at night, followed by a song about herself.  She tells her sister what to do, and will mock her at every opportunity, “Mami, mira! mira!”  Look! look! she says–then makes a face as she copies her sis.

Ale has started to ask me questions like, “Mom, how does it feel to be a mom?” or “How does it feel to be a teacher?”  Today she told me, “Mom, I don’t know when I get big if I will be a mom or not–but what if I don’t know how to cook?”  We’ve been reading chapter books when Jojo is asleep, such as Junie B. Jones.  She’s growing to be such an amazing kid, which makes her little fits with her sister sting even more!   Last night, she was washing dishes, and her sis was climbing up beside her to play in the water.  Ale kept saying, “Mom, I don’t need Jojo’s help!”   She begs us for a cell phone (WHAT?!), and walks around with rectangles of plastic or paper pretending that she’s texting, taking selfies, and playing games.  She will even pass it to Jojo in the car to watch videos.  If there’s one thing I am proud of, it’s that: the moment where she says, “Be quiet, Mommy, I have to talk to Karen,” then proceeds to talk, in Spanish, to her neighborhood friend on a Jenga game piece that she decorated to look like an iPhone.

The girls play babies together, which is a nice change.  They have a cocina and a bathroom area in their play corner in the living room.  Jojo throws a fit at night or when we leave, demanding that she has her baby AND the baby blanket.  They play like one is the mama, one is the babysitter.

Victor’s dad is a little sick right now–we aren’t quite sure what’s going on.  One doctor said he has cirrhosis of the liver, and another said he has something wrong with his prostate.  Neither of these reports are good news, so understandably, the family is pretty worried.  The problem is, in order to practice medicine in these remote towns, you don’t always have to have a medical degree.  We want him to visit Tuxtla to see a real doctor, but we don’t know what the family is planning to do.  Victor’s been a bit preoccupied with worries about his dad, and is trying to work as much as he can to be able to send some money to Chiapas.

We still haven’t sent Victor’s waivers, so no news on the immigration front.  We are waiting for August when I receive another paycheck–and the retention money the school saves from my check each month to cover the cost of teachers who take off in the middle of a contract.  When that comes, we should be able to submit his waivers, so stay tuned!

Summer days are quickly passing–and one day I know I will look back on this time fondly.  IMG_5585

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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!  😉

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!

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.