A Year In Review

Tonight marks my two year anniversary south of the border!  Wow!  It’s hard to believe that I was once that excited young gringa–jaded by the educational system and failed relationships in the north on her way to adventure in Chiapas!  Two years ago, I packed my bags for six months.  My friend made the comment that I could do anything for six months.  “Even if you hate it,” she said, “You only have to be there six months.”  Shortly before this, her husband had remarked that we would soon know where I belonged.  I remind myself of how broken I was–and how willing I was to be placed where God needed me the most.   That was December 31, 2011

20120108-172130.jpgMy first meeting in Chiapas.  These kids were the nephews and grand daughter of the lady who had the meeting.  A lady that we grew to love so much!

20120110-154202.jpgMy second graders at The American School Foundation of Chiapas spoke little to no english.  In order to teach them procedures, I had to make these signs.  I practiced not speaking at all (super hard for me, but effective).  I came to Mexico with a couple of phrases, but I had to learn fast!

My first year in Mexico proved to be exceptional!  Shortly after arriving, I fell in love… with the country!  It wasn’t long before I met my husband and we decided to tough it out.  (It helps when it isn’t that tough, eh?)  I returned to the United States without him–pregnant and hoping to land a job.  And I did!  It just wasn’t in the United States!  Victor and I moved to the northern state of Coahuila, and I began teaching here.  We struggled some those early months–mostly with money and the lack of support that I initially felt from my employer.  That took us to December 31, 2012.  One year in Mexico!

20120121-162216.jpgI always felt like it was rude to take pictures of the indigenous people in San Cristobal.  I didn’t want to be THAT gringa.  This doesn’t even really show a fraction of how wonderful and lively it is there!

20120324-204953.jpgVictor and I met in San Cristobal.  The rest is history…

(Sidenote:  My one year in Mexico is also my husband’s one year in Mexico.  He arrived just a week before me, and we are patiently waiting out his ten-year ban.  It sounds so harsh, huh?)

It’s been strange to read on Facebook status updates how horrible 2013 was for people.  I feel almost displaced from their happiness–but I do understand what it feels like to have several wrong turns on your road to bliss.  How blessed I feel to be in this country with my family!  What a full year this has been!

January 2013

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAVictor and I started 2013 with our civil ceremony.

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February 2012

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Victor and I went to a hotel for my birthday.  Really, it was just so that I could get a good bath.  How nice it was to get in the pool!  I felt weightless (obviously, I wasn’t…)

March 2013

birth.jpgOur little Alexandria swam into the world a couple months later.  Having a water birth was ahhhh-mazing!  Being able to have Ale at home was great too!  I was able to sleep in my own bed!

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAle’s first visit with the workers who were in town for Special Meeting.  She was one week old here!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASpecial Meeting (Ale’s first meeting) with a special visitor who swooped in to save the day!

April 2013

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe took Ale’s first trip to Monterrey to get her American birth certificate and passport.  We met some of the sweet friends, and Victor had his first gospel meeting!  He was astonished by all the young people.

May 2013

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAVictor made his choice to serve God known to our little church.  

June 2013

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAle traveled to the United States where her best friend tried to eat her upon meeting her.

July 2013

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IMG_0642We’ve been to visit both families–and ALMOST all of Ale’s cousins, aunts, and uncles (short one cousin and one uncle).  This is Ale with her abuelos in Chiapas.

August 2013

IMG_0860We settled into our “new” house, and started a new school year.

September 2013

20130918-172659.jpgWe went to Alexandria’s first convention. 

IMG_0834And she cut her first teeth…

October 2013

IMG_1615Mommy’s first work trip away.  Guess who wasn’t upset at all?

IMG_1653Ale’s first Halloween–dressed as the Very Hungry Caterpillar.

November 2013

20131128-222758.jpgMy first Thanksgiving away from home.  Ale’s first Thanksgiving.  And Victor’s first Thanksgiving in Mexico!

December 2013

Ale_Dec3113.jpgAle has made us squeal with joy, and she just gets better everyday.

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My Lofty Goal

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I’ve often said that I married my dad, but what I want to talk about today is how much I’m like my mom. Before I get started, I will preface by saying I inherited some of her amazing qualities. She’s a loving and amazing woman…who sometimes yells.

I’m not saying anything we haven’t already talked about. In fact I asked why we do this.. Why do we begin yelling when we get frustrated or angry?. She said this: “Because I did.”

My poor husband.

Now before you start feeling sorry for him, you should know this doesn’t happen a lot. In fact, it’s happened twice. That’s two times too many. The first time, I became a mad woman. I started killing ants with my fists while hollering. The last time I started cleaning and and hollering.

I’m just going to stand up for myself and tell you this house doesn’t bring out the best in me. The ants are the biggest problem. Now that it’s getting colder there is a steady stream of them right across the floor–out of one wall they come and in one wall they go. I try to be patient with these wise creatures, but then my rage takes over.

So, without a blink, I made myself (and my husband) a vow. I’m really going to try self-control. I know it can be done. I’ve learned how to stay calm at school–now I’m going to practice being calm at home.

Wish me luck, people. We’re still looking for a house and it’s getting cold. That’s a recipe for disaster breathing in and out while counting to ten and self-talking my way back to peace…

My Brother-In-Law

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Once upon a time, my brother-in-law was just my sister’s boyfriend.  I remember it like yesterday…

Sidenote:  I’ve written about my sister before.  She has a heart of pure gold (except for the little black corner where punching-your-sister-in-the-gut lives…)  She has been through her share of country song experiences, and we’ve even written a country song about her experiences.  Luckily “My Husband Is A Lyin’ Cheatin’ Whore” isn’t the title of this song.  If there was ever someone who deserved to be loved and treated like a fairy princess–she’s it.

Enter Jacques Cousteau.

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Love is Patient.  Patience is plentiful in his petit french heart–hence the reason why he was so longsuffering with Little Sister (Me).  I found it humourous that he is from France.  I proceeded to call him every French name I could think of.  I ran out after Pepé La Pew, Jean Valjean, Napoleon, and Jacques Cousteau.  I also used up all the French I remember from class (“Zut!” and “Ferme la bouche!”).

Love is Kind.  As their relationship continued, so did his patience.  I drank up all his fancy coffee.  I slept on his couch.  I went “shopping” in his kitchen cabinets.  I complained about my hairy pup niece (whom I love dearly).  I watched his tv, used his internet, and held nothing back.  He kindly accepted me and the key I had to his apartment.  When I quit my job, he encouraged me and allowed me to spend every waking moment camped out on the couch.

Love doesn’t envy.  My sister has been loved.  She has a husband who cooks, cleans, does laundry, shops, and most important–accepts her family as his own.  After all, Jean Marc didn’t just (have to) accept me as his new sister–he has a whole slew of new siblings, nieces, and nephews.  In our family, that means that sometimes the girls get to hang out without the boys.  That means that sometimes the nieces and nephews sleep with the aunts.  That means that sometimes, you steal away with the Mama Bear to have supper without your siblings.  They say when you marry someone, you also marry their family.   It’s a good thing he has accepted us for the crazy nuts we are!  I’ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts…

It always protects…  Recently we all got fired up over an experience that Jenny and Jean Marc had.  Someone was oh-so-ugly to her–and who stepped in?  Jean Marc to whisk them away on a magic carpet back to the sane side of the river (Oh, why would you ever CHOOSE to live in Maryland?).  Despite the fact that my sister is fierce, it is always nice to know she has someone to look out for her.  After all, I’ve lived with that chick.  If you don’t buy her groceries and fix her food–she doesn’t eat.  

..always trusts…  A word of advice to my brother-in-law–don’t act like you don’t trust that girl.  There’s no one more loyal than she.  And you totally don’t even get points or sweet compliments for this.  It’s a given…always hopes…  Despite the fact that your lovely lady has muttered nothing but disregarding statements about marriage…always perseveres. Which brings us to now.  Here’s to fifty years, you two.  Much love!

Bon appetit!  (My third French saying…saved the best for last!)

P.S.  Apparently I have zero pictures of you…and about a billion of my bratty sister.  Hopefully the next fifty years will remedy that!