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Thursday, December 30, 2010

i hope you are sitting down for this.

Haha. I made a funny. Because, I thought you might want to see where literally every minute of this week has gone (or so it seems): To fixing, painting and re-doing our dining room chairs!

Take a look at the journey:

Here's how we received our [free] dining room chairs. Great bones, as some say. But, I am sure they had at least 10 yrs of use in them, maybe more. And the legs were very brittle... we ended up with 3 of the 7 being out of commission rather quickly.




While Rey worked on the carpentry side of the up-do, I attacked the cushions.


No, that hole isn't from my attack. It was like that pre-attack. And, it allows you to see some of the icky factor.

Happily, we had quite a bit left over from the material we used for the lining of Noah and Aleni's curtains... so, I decided to use that for the new fabric.

Here she is in progress...



You'll have to keep waiting for the results. Because I said.

Here's my manly man taking the sander to the old girl:





Looking like a war horse after its sanding and Rey's installing of an extra brace between those front two legs. Poor thing is even missing an "ear"...


Onto the priming... for which I had two very good helpers:


Dontcha love Noah's bored expression? Like, "Sigh... I do this all the time, but mom's such a camera hog..."


The white paint was left over from doing Aleni's crib. I had a different color in mind for the chairs, but doing the chairs over for free was looking pretty attractive. I remembered that we had some dark green paint left over. I needed to have enough paint for 8 chairs, so I figured adding white and some yellow (leftover from Noah's room) to that might be my best bet.

Are ya ready??

Ya wanna see the finished product, do ya?

Well, since you asked so nicely:



I really, really like how it all came together! And I really, really like how it cost 0 dollars and 0 cents.

But, alas. I must go now. I still have three more chairs to go!!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Seen on a dirt road in México...


Sorry about the bad quality of the picture. But, I took it through the side van windows as we passed this guy.

Yes. He is going somewhere. With 2 sheep strapped to the back of his motorcycle.

Did I mention they were LIVE sheep??

Sunday, December 19, 2010

just whining




I usually feel pretty good when my Mexican friends and neighbors tell me I have adjusted well to Mexican living. And, I usually feel pretty well-adjusted.

However, there are two times I start chafing a bit at the experience.

The first is when we have to do anything dealing with paperwork. Being part of two countries at one time is a tricky game, held together by all kinds of red tape. A lot of the experience has to do with who you deal with in trying to get whatever document you need. You could have a great experience with a really nice, understanding person. Or you could want to run screaming through the city after being made to go in endless circles for no apparent reason.

The other time is when I or my babies are feeling sick.

One thing about "sick" is it tends to make you yearn for certain things--like maybe a certain snack or a long soak in a hot bath. Or, it makes you want those things for your kids.

A major thing is LAUNDRY when the sickies come around. Often, sickness brings with it all kinds of reasons for "soiled" laundry--or just the need for "higher sanitization"... This week finds us with that "need". Each day, I have been washing all bedding... towels... clothes... stuffed animals....toys... all day long and into the night. The tricky part comes with "no dryer".

I generally enjoy not having a dryer and joining in with my fellow Mexicanos in doing our part to save the earth. We have the luxury of mostly sunny weather most of the year, so why not? But, when I am pulling load after load out of the washer, it makes for some interesting creativity in figuring out how to get everything dry on time. Think blankies and bearies. Whew.

Ah, yes! And the times when everything stops because the water tank on the roof emptied from all the washing... and ya gotta wait for it to trickle full again.

So, yeah. There you have it... my moaning for conveniences as I massage my aching back. The "nice" thing about "sickies" is.... Now my house smells like bleach and Fabuloso. It's probably the best time for you to come over and visit, if you're into the clean house thing.

Just excuse my pruney, sandpapery hands.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Noah's Got a Future!!



Perhaps in another post, I will go into more detail with "things" we are dealing with in Noah. Suffice it to say, our little darling has been and is a challenge for this momma that likes everything just to be smooth and happy.

We are at a point where we are looking into different things. Could there be reasons he is doing this or not doing that? Do I need to discipline more or less? Have I been doing everything wrong? Should I change everything or nothing? Is living in Mexico not the best option for him?

Big. Potentially life-changing questions. Questions that were keeping me awake at night. Questions that were making my days unbearable. I was completely overwhelmed.

So, I knew I just had to get away. Had to have a good cry (that's how I calm myself! ha). Had to have some real intense, alone time with God. Needed to get myself to a firm place, because I knew I was in a place that wasn't healthy for me, my marriage or my babies.

Recently, instead of going to church, I stole away in the car. Parked in a field at the end of the street, and just poured out my heart to God.

It was healing, my sisters. I poured out all my inadequacies, so that God could fill me with His all in all. I poured out my failings so that God could take away my guilt. I poured out my fears... and opened His Word.

There literally are tears rolling down my face as I write this, because God is so good to us. He is there for me, even when I am so weak (perhaps especially when I am so weak).

I filled myself up with scriptures directly speaking to those fears... I wrote the scriptures as though they were written for my Noah:
"The spirit of the Lord will rest on Noah, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord..I, the Lord, keep Noah. I water him every moment, so that nothing hurts him; I keep him night and day... Look! It is my servant Noah, whom I uphold. My elect one in whom my soul delights... The Lord will comfort Noah... joy and gladness will be found in him, thanksgiving and the voice of melody... I have put My words in your mouth; I have covered you with the shadow of My hand... Noah will be taught by the Lord and great will be Noah's peace... This is what the Lord says: 'I will extend peace to Noah like a river'... There is hope for your future, says the Lord...."


Those are just a few of the verses I wrote out. But, let me tell you--what a release that brought me! It doesn't mean I am burying my head in the sand, but it DOES mean I have something to hold onto during stormy days. It does mean I have faith-filled words to pray over Noah. It does mean I no longer lay awake--because I know Noah's daddy in heaven has in all under control.

Do you know what? The day after we prayed these verses over Noah, it was like he woke up and knew about double of the words he did from the day previous! Like a light bulb turned on. We were rejoicin', let me tell ya.
Here are a few things Noah's doing at this 30-month spot in his life:

He says most things in English. Except for yes. He always answers "Sí". He also prefers to call hot dogs "salchichas" and puppies "cachorros". :)




He is so good to his baby sister. He has never hit her, although she frustrates him on a nearly hourly basis. If she takes things away from him, he calls for me to come help. When I am putting her down for a nap, he'll come in to check on us. He'll very seriously stand next to me with his finger to his lips. "Shhhh." I'll whisper, "You're right. Thank you!" He'll stand there about 2 seconds more, then walk out, closing the door behind him. If baby cries, he squats down next to her and rubs her hair gently. He says: "Don't cry, baby. Sorry, baby. Are you ok? Don't cry..."

Politeness is increasing: He is more consistent about saying "Sorry", "Pees", "Kane-koo" (thank you)", "More", and "Help".


He LOVES helping. He sees me sweeping, and he brings the dustpan and says, "Help you!" He sees me taking laundry off the line and runs over saying, "Help you!". He likes to water the flowers also. I also love that he is helping with garbage. After I change his or Aleni's diaper, he'll say, "Help you" and then take it to the trash can. He also brings me coins or papers of the floor and puts them in my pockets. He loves "helping" daddy.

He is into STARS right now. He finds them everywhere... on his diapers, on his balls, in books.... wherever. The other night, I opened the back door and he shouted happily: "Stars!!!!" I was sitting with him on the couch in a sunbeam and noticed that he was entranced with the dust floating there. He finally turned to me and pointed, "Stars!"



He was into a big "nude" phase for a while. It was a huge struggle to get him to keep anything on. Now, he just refuses shoes or socks.... but often has me put on up to 6 shirts at one time!

He is a very expressive "talker". He loves to babble excitedly to us, waving his hands around and making all kinds of facial expressions. So cute.

His main "naughty things" at this time are sticking things in the toilet and peeing in "secret places" (he knows he should only pee in the potty or his diaper which seems to have just made him more sneaky...).
He has a MEMORY like nobody's business. Goodness. He has all of his movies completely memorized and pretty much remembers places (like if we drive by a store or a park that we went to one time many moons ago, he'll remember it... Or if we are getting close to a place we regularly go to, he'll recognize the surroundings and start shouting out the destination).

So, there's my Noah post! :)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

For the ladies...

Guess what? I was a guest writer on MomLife Today!

Check it out....

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

try Me in this




Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,
That there may be food in My house,
And try Me now in this,”
Says the LORD of hosts,

If I will not open for you the windows of heaven
And pour out for you such blessing
That there will not be room enough to receive it.
Malachi 3:10


I know talking about money is usually taboo... but, I think that those of you that read my stuff are close enough friends that you'll be "okay" with it.

We are facing a "tight" time financially. It seems that all the bills came at the same time: my visa, the rent and an outrageous electricity bill. We were looking at the month of December and literally wondering how we were going to be able to make it.

We get our support money in once a month. We saw what came in, and saw that it wouldn't really even cover what we owed, let alone have for food and gas.

Then came the issue of the tithe.

Saturday night, we discussed writing an note of "how much we owed God" and give the December's tithe in January. Sunday morning, we decided we should follow the principle of God first, in everything.

And Jesus said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
Matthew 22:21


To be able to get groceries for the week, we decided to round up whatever "non-essentials" (even if some of them made me sentimental) we could find and do a garage sale in front of our house. (I've also found that doing a garage sale is one of the best way to "break the ice" with the neighbors = added bonus!)

Do you know what? When we laid our heads down on the pillow, we realized we were blessed. God had caused the sale to go well. He had given us back all of what we had given Him in the morning.

And added one peso more.

Lord-- We have tried You, and we have seen.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

why, yes i am! thank you!

You remember that one popular song:
"You're so vaaain
You pro'lly think this blog is aboutchoo
You're so vaaaaiiiinnn!"


So, yes. I guess I am. And I do.

Because, I had to get pictures for my Mexican visa a couple of weeks ago. It went with the same lady Rey and Aleni did... and she was just as picky with me.

The requirements for the shot was one straight-on shot and one profile shot. All hair had to be pulled away from the face. No jewelry. No make-up. No smiling.

Talk about out of my comfort zone for picture-taking. I mean, hello. My grand-babies could be looking at this picture years from now... Also, haven't you read that verse in the Bible:

"Likewise, ye women, adorn thyself with the longest hair possible so as to cover the unseemly parts of your face during picture taking."


Anyhoo. I submit one shot. And, being vain as I am, I only submit the profile shot. Because the other one was skeery.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

random weirdness.




At almost all the major intersections of our city, you will be swarmed by people hoping to get a few cents off of you. Guys juggling flaming rods, kids juggling oranges, people selling ice cream, peanuts,toys, whatever. People in wheelchairs or slings asking for help with a medical bill. And, most of all, people jumping on your hood to squirt down your windshield and squeegee it "clean".

I usually just get super annoyed at all the commotion... but, I've actually found it's way easier to have a 2 peso coin ready in your hand to give to whoever is the most persistent, than it is to make a mean face and say, "No, I really mean it--I'm not interested."

So, yesterday I was sitting at the red light, pesos in hand as a teenage guy flung himself over my hood to scrub away on the windshield. Side note: It is rather awkward when you are alone to know where to look at this point. Over him? At you shoes? Anyhoo....

I had grabbed a can of watermelon something to drink on the way out of the store, so I was holding that in the hand that wasn't on the steering wheel. After I gave the kid his money, he leaned his head in the window and said, "Are you pistiando?"

Yes, I left that last word in Spanish, because I had no idea what it was. I assured him I wasn't (how could I be if I didn't even know what it was? haha). "OH!!" He shouted, as he strode off, "I really thought you were pistiando."

Hmmm. Well, thankfully I live with a Spanish to English dictionary (aka my hubby). I asked him what it was, and he said it basically means "Getting drunk."

So, the guy thought I had a can of the good stuff popped open and was slurping it down as I drove through town. It made me wonder what he would've done if I really was drinking a Corona. Told me how dangerous it was? Or asked for his own slurp?

Questions....

Friday, November 26, 2010

charity.

Being where we are and doing what we do means we get to see a lot of "acts of charity". Either as the recipients or the conduits.

In this use of the word-- "charity" often means giving to "less fortunates". People that may not have as much as you have. Often, this "charity" comes in the form of used items.

Some of my friends and I often joke about "missionary piety". Living like church mice. "Oh, yes... I do suck on corn cobs for protein. That's all we have here on the mission field. We use grass to brush our teeth..." You get the idea.

But, sometimes I think people do prefer to think of missionaries--or the poor--as having no dignity because of often being in need. Maybe that doesn't make sense. Here are some examples:

My aunt said that "back in the day", people stateside would send used tea bags to the missionaries abroad. We just talked about how... mmm... how do you say... condescending that seemed. "If you are good enough to drink from new tea bags, why aren't the missionaries?"

We are blessed to be surrounded by people who give of their best, even when it hurts, so that we can do what we do. However, we do see "things".

Like a team who came to do an eye clinic. Free vision checks and glasses! Of course people were excited. Until they found that they were these homemade glasses. Plastic lenses held in by wire twisted together with pliers. Of course the team that brought these did it with the best of hearts. Of course they got blisters as they twisted together those pairs of spectacles... But, seriously. They were like these deformed monstrosities, precariously tilting on the noses of the "blessed poor" that received them. How hard would it have been to use the same energy it took to get all those supplies, lug them to Mexico and make the glasses-- and raise funds to pick up a pile of reading glasses from the Dollar Store?? Honestly, I was embarrassed to be translating, and I freely told the recipients that if they didn't like them, not to feel like they had to take them. One 15-year-old girl came in. She was very cutely dressed and nervous as she took the exam. Then, they whipped out these "coat hangers turned into eye helpers", and I could see her embarrassment.

Recently, a church here in the area gave us maybe 20 garbage bags full of clothes to take out to one of our needy communities. I was helping Rey load some of the bags into the van last night to take out to the community they are at today.

An article of clothing fell out of the bag of clothing. It took me a while to figure out what it was. It was red polyester. But, what...?? Turns out it was a sleeve. Cut off of a blazer. That's what I'm talking about. Why? Why put that into a "charity" bag? It's garbage. Put it there.

I did my best grandmotherly voice and limped over to Rey, the sleeve laying across my outstretched hands: "Here, you poor soul. This is the best I have. Be blessed and Cristo te ama [Jesus loves you]." Cuz that's supposed to be the point of our giving, right? To reflect the love of Jesus?

So, I guess... I am just wanting "acts of charity" to really be "acts of agape love = "profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person." (from dictionary.com). Don't give someone garbage and pat yourself on the back. If it's not good enough for you, it's not good enough for "the poor". The poor are humans with pride and dignity. They too want to look good, feel good, enjoy good things.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

And The Shofar Blew & Four Souls


SUMMARY: This book is about a young couple, fresh out of seminary, who receive the call to pastor a small, dying community church. Along with their baby boy, they move to the new community and fast find themselves being pulled apart. The husband becomes driven to succeed as a pastor--which in his mind is found in numbers. The wife is committed to relationships with people, and their relationship with God.

MY TAKE: The first 100 pages or so were hard for me to get into. After that, once Rivers got into the inter-personal issues and the reasons the husband is so driven... the pages started turning a lot faster.

I do recommend this book just because of Rivers look at "mega-churches" and their leaders. How easily it is for "doing things for God" to become "doing things to make me look good". Also, a main point of the book is the affect "ministry" can have on family, if not governed by humility and obedience to God.



SUMMARY: This book is about 4 guys who, upon graduating, find they aren't real sure what they want to do with their lives. They decide to spend the better part of a year traveling around the world and working with missionaries in various countries.

MY TAKE: I felt that the conversations between the guys felt a bit stilted (having grown up with 7 bros... I often felt like: "Guys don't really talk like that..."). However, I LOVED feeling as though I traveled all over the world and getting little tastes of countries as different as Russia and India...

So, if you want to peek into a bunch of different cultures and ministries, this book is for you!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

pet peeve.




Wanna know what gets my goat these days? I'm sure in a few years it will be something else. But, right now, it's this:

When Noah has having some kind of huge tantrum in public because we haven't given him an ice cream cone/a candy bar/whatever he wants... and we are dealing with it... and a small crowd of people forms that are all crooning:

"Ohhhh. Poor thing. What are you doing to him? What do you want, my love? This?? This?? Let me buy you a sucker..."


I don't know, 'cause I ain't never raised kids in the US-- does this happen there? It just makes my blood boil, because it's like: "Thanks for totally un-teaching the lesson I was trying to teach him. Mainly: You can't always have your way."

Why do people stick their noses over and take over parenting here?

Don't get it. Don't like it. I'm getting that angry feeling in my chest...so I better stop writing about this before things get ugly.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

time.




Disclaimer #1: In making my comparisons, I am by no means condoling a life-style that has "on-the-sides". Haha.


Americans all "know" about "Mexican time". The famous "mañana" expression often seems to aptly sum up the mindset here.

I, being married to a darling Mexican man, had many adjustments to make from day one in marriage. Now, I like things fast--even by American standards. I talk fast, eat fast, move fast. Rey is my balancer... aka my opposite. He enjoys taking it slow, doing it well.

Sorting out how much of our differences in the "time area" is personality and how much is culture has been an ongoing process.

Here are some things I've found out:

In the US, the joy is the destination, the goal.
In Mexico, the joy is the journey, the process.

That is why a cook-out can be planned months in advance... but, often the hosts don't go out to buy the meat and disposable plates until the first guests have arrived. That way, the guests (friends) can accompany them in their errands and the time together is s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d out.

We can argue all day long about which perspective is "right" or "better"... But, that's how I've found it to be. I think in the US we can afford to have that perspective because we are able to separate play and work. (Get your work done quickly so you have more time to play). In Mexico, where many of our time-saving devices are lacking, work is literally all-consuming, never-ending. So, they adopt the "play as you work" mindset (since work is never done).

When I was learning Spanish, I learned the word "ahora" = "now". And, when you add "-ito" or "-ita" on the end of the word, it makes it smaller. (ie: "chico" = boy, "chiquito" = little boy). So, I kinda fell in love with the word "ahorita". I mean, if "ahora" is now, "ahorita" has to be faster than now, right? Like, "Dude, I am going as fast as I can to get this to you." Ha. Nope. Here, if someone tells you they'll wait on you "ahora", they are on their way. If they say they'll get to you "ahorita", they're telling you to stick a sock in it. They'll get to you when they get to you.

Ah, the ambivalent use of time words. "Mañana" isn't "tomorrow", as the dictionary will tell you. It is "sometime in the future. Pretty definitely not tomorrow."

My little comparison to how the two cultures see time:

Americans see time/the clock as the boss. The controller of our world. We have an obligation with time.

Mexicans see time as the girlfriend on the side. She's there, you gotta keep her happy but you don't talk about her all out in the open like that. And she definitely is not calling the shots. They have a love-affair with time.

That is why here friends can drop in any time without notice, and spend half the day at your house and be happy. Or, they can come by your house without notice, and you are out--so they don't see you. But, they are happy. They can think of someone else to go visit.

So, as we know, we often see Mexicans as more laid-back and less stressed out in regards to time in general. But, as Americans, we can often point out how much more a project would advance or how life could be made easier if they adopted our perspective.

But they won't. Just like we won't adopt theirs. It's just how it is.

Disclaimer #2: I do not profess to be the keeper of all knowledge on this topic. Just my observations. Humble observations. Mm-hmm.

Monday, November 22, 2010

bringin' home da bacon.

Today is Monday. Sacred Monday. It is a day that calls out to me all week with promises of down time and together time. It is our day off. On our standard-issue missionary calenders, Mondays are surrounded by halos (totally discount that last sentence). Don't spit on my Mondays.

So, today Monday Rey and I awoke to the babies sleeping in. Ahh, Great start. Even better, a little thing called date-night (sung to a trembling falsetto) shimmers in the evening. It is going to be a great day.

Our cupboards were just like Ole Mother Hubbards, so I had a brilliant idea. The kids are still sleeping, so why don't I squeak out and get the grocery shopping over with? That way, it would just be done and not take a chunk out of the day--basically no one is at the stores in the mornings. I shoved a hat down over greasy bed-hair and ran.

Our van has been "fixed" about 3 times in this last month. It still has some major issues though--causing me to creep through the town at 20 mph the whole way to the store. "It's ok," I thought, lifting my chin optimistically, "It is a beautiful, quiet morning..."

I pulled into the store parking lot and literally ran through the store, filling the cart with the weeks' necessities. I had a day off to get back to.

Ah, I will need to go into some explanatory ramblings at this point. So, we lost our debit card last week, which means--no cash. I got a new one ordered, but it's looking like it could be around a month before we get the mail again. I was thinking we could just use our credit card and transfer from our checking in that marvelous thing called online banking. That will work for a month, right?? Oops. Forgot we live in Mexico. Where at least 70% of the businesses here don't have credit card machines. Got the brilliant idea to "PayPal" some money over to our partners-in-crime here, my aunt and uncle, and have them be our ATM machine for a while. Last night, I transferred money to them... and I knew it takes about 3-5 days for them to get it. I called our bank just to make sure our credit card would be fine for use (we've used it before, but in the last couple weeks it hadn't been working). They said, "Yep. No problem."

Back to today. The cash register. Got all rung up... and the card didn't swipe. "Try it again," I say, trying not to feel the judgmental from the line behind me, "I just talked to the bank and they said it will work." Nope.

So, yes. This was the morning I ran out without a cell phone. And, it doesn't really matter--because we don't have cash. Great. So, I start to walk out, and then stop by customer service to see if a manager could work some magic. Bless her bones, she tried. I stood there for at least 45 minutes, watching my milk curdle on register 14, and she came back with, "Sorry. No can do."

Big sigh. Ok, thanks. I went back to the register to tell the girl that I would indeed come back with money. Please don't put my groceries back. She gave me a spacey smile, "What groceries??" What? Turns out, they were almost being put away, but I saved them just in time. My precious groceries. "Please keep them here. I'll be right back."

I run out to the van. Turn the key over. Can you guess?? The van is dead. Won't do anything but click. No cell phone.

I run back into customer service. A girl that had seen me standing there those 45 minutes came over. I told her my plight-- "Can I please use the phone to call my husband?" "No, these phones are for in-store use only." (Although I had seen the manager calling the banks from that phone). I told her I had no money, my car wouldn't start and it would just be a few seconds of a phone call. Was there no phone I could use?

I could tell I was already gone in her mind as she said, "No." I said, "Ok, I guess I'll start walking then." She said, "Yep." (in Spanish, though).

The closet place to walk to was my aunt and uncle's house...and besides, they were our ATM. I was going to just have to ask for a cash advance. And for a vehicle. Or a ride. Or something.

It is about a 3-mile hike to the ATM house, on windy, uphill streets. Thankfully, it is uncommonly warm today or I would be adding frostbite to my list of woes.

I got to the relative's place... and asked to use the phone. Rey answers. "Why did you walk to the Glick's house? Why didn't you call me from the store phone." Grr. "Oh, I forgot to tell you. If the van doesn't start in park, put it into neutral and it will." Double grr.

I asked my aunt if she could forward me the money. "Oh!" she gasped, "Your uncle took it over to Rey like 30 minutes ago!" Foreheads were slapped all around.

My uncle said he'd give me a ride to the store, pay for the groceries and then follow me to our house, where Rey could reimburse him. We got to the store. The van started, but my uncle found he was short on cash.

So, we drove out to my house, got the cash from Rey and then drove back to the store.

The only hiccup upon getting to the store (you knew there had to be one, right?), was that the store people had put away all the cold things I had in my cart. So, I had to do my "cold shopping" again. And, by this time the store is wall-to-wall people getting stuff for their afternoon meal.

Stood in line at the register. Again. Paid. And, went home. Any guesses on arrival time--since the whole point was to save time and whatnot?? Almost 1 pm. Goodbye half a day.

Ah. The super-dooper funny part about this post is the title. See, I hardly ever buy bacon... but, today I did. So, I mean I brought home the bacon. I mean, I li-ter-al-ly brought home the bacon (have you seen "Date Night"? The book club scene? Come on. Go rent it.)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

agression.




I was reading an article about another school killing. This time it was a jealous boyfriend killing his ex-girlfriend. It made me think about the other crazy killings that have happened in recent years. Kids killing teachers; kids killing jocks; kids killing people they felt looked down on them; kids killing just to make a statement.

It also made me think about the fact I've never heard of anything like that happening here in Mexico. I asked Rey, and he said he hadn't either (and he should know--he is a complete news junkie).

I began thinking about the "why" of that. First of all--what is the difference in the way the majority of Mexicans raise their children and the way the majority of Americans raise their children?

From what I've seen here... generally Mexicans view children as an appendage to be dragged around wherever they go. I see teeny babies given Coke to drink in their bottles. I see little kids sleeping wherever their bodies fall while mamá shops or the folks are dancing the night away at a wedding. I see groups of adults loudly talking about the faults and bad behavior of their children in front of those same children. I hear children being told to shut up, that they are stupid and to hurry up. I see kids playing in the street with explicit songs blaring from their parents' radio.

I also see generally self-contained kids. Kids who don't expect a lot out of life or out of adults. I see kids who are much older younger.

It seems that in the US, we do all we can to shelter our children and let them know they are the center of our universe. That the sky is the limit and that they matter. That nothing should stand between them and their dreams.

I, of course, think as an American and am often angered and horrified at the "parenting" I see going on here. (This morning, I heard a woman cackling to her friends about how her daughter tangled up one of her necklaces so she sent her to bed without supper. What? Really?)

But, I wonder if many Americans, then, are not allowing their children to learn about "no's" and disappointments. If they aren't teaching their children they can't always have what they want, and to deal with it. If we aren't teaching them that they are children, and we are adults. Could that be part of the reason for then all this aggression when kids hit adolescence? When kids can't be sheltered by mom and dad and start feeling the sting of rejection and disappointment?

Now, flip side of this coin here in Mexico... I would have to say probably 1 out of every 2 women I talk to has been/is being abused by their husbands. Many marry young (try 15-years-old young) and have no guidance in marriage. The boys still want to be "players" and are out on the streets most nights even after being married. It seems that the men here think it's their right to hit their wives. The norm. So, obviously--there's aggression there.

Hmm. So, in the US it seems that many children are not taught to weather/expect disappointment. While adolescence, then, may be stormy... they tend to get it together somewhat by the time they are adults.

Here in Mexico, the children often don't experience tender, unconditional love or reasonable discipline. This keeps them in line until they have their own roost... which they tend to run the same way their parents did. Perhaps, then, adulthood here is the time that they feel they can take out all the aggression they received from their parents?

Obviously, I don't think "the Mexican way" is right in this regard... But, it does make me think that it's ok--actually necessary--for my kids to experience no, to experience disappointment. To know it is a part of life. To teach my babies that it isn't "all about them".

I don't have a pithy ending to this post. Just some cultural musings... :)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

furniture facelifts.

Yes. Around here, just about there is any time the kiddos are locked away in their rooms--paint brushes come out.

I know you saw Aleni's crib in her "room reveal"... but, you just gotta appreciate the sweat and tears that went into it.

We got this crib for $20 on craigslist about 18 months ago. I have wanted to paint it white since then... but, Noah was using it every day and I knew it would be a several day project. Now that he transitioned into his big boy bed, I figured this would be the best time to do it--before Aleni got it.

Here's what we started out with:



I started primering it during a nap time. That nap time was cut short, and this crib stayed like this for about 2 weeks (not outside... but, half-painted):


Then the fine ladies from New Life came along and finished primering... and helped kick me back into gear. Say it with me: Spindles of doom. Seriously. This thing took forever to paint because of those crevice-filled things.

But, in the end... I was happy:



Yes, yes. I know. You've already seen this picture. But, hey. It's my blog. So, there.


The other furniture make-over we just finished was our dining room table.

You may remember when some good friends gifted us this dining room set...


Here we were still in the middle of tearing into the dining room walls also.

So, I decided to paint over the lovely lady. Before you gasp in righteous indignation at the mere thought of desecrating wood with paint... let me point out this table had seen better days.



It needed paint. Nay, I say, it cried out for paint.

I decided on a mocha color, echoing the color of some of the flowers in the dining room curtains. (Oopsie, you're also getting a sneak peak on what's going on in our dining room decorating these days too!)


Isn't it just a delicious color? I kept feeling the urge for Starbucks as I painted.... Here she is after the first coat:




Why yes, I do keep a rattle nearby for those little times I need a pick-me-up. Always. Thank you.

Both Rey and I agreed that we felt like we were doing the wood a favor by painting it. It was sooo dried out and bleached looking.




It took us 3 coats of paint and one of varnish, but here she be in all her radiant glory:




We are really happy with it, and have mad plans for the chairs and the condiment/napkins holders. All in due time.

Monday, November 15, 2010

getting emotional.

Naners, 1 week old


So, it's that time. Weaning. Sniff. I can't believe how sad I feel about it this time around. I literally feel like I'm loosing something dear to me.

Noah never liked nursing, and I ended up pumping and giving him bottles. It was a constant struggle to feel like he was getting enough to eat and I was keeping my sanity.

Aleni has been a good nurser from the beginning. I guess I just feel like it is such a sweet momma-daughter time before she goes to bed. I guess the obvious question is: Why wean, then? Well, we recently found that Aleni is pretty underweight for her age group and were told that possibly what she was getting from me wasn't nutritional enough for her age.

Also, I have been feeling soooo drained of strength and energy the last couple months, and wonder if nursing could have something to do with it.

Another thing is, for a while now... Aleni has been waking up every hour or 2 to eat. Talk about a loooong night. So, that kind of confirmed to us that maybe she was hungry.

I've been trying to get Aleni to take something in a bottle or cup for a long time, and she seemed to know not to give up on the good stuff. ;) So, I've just been continuing to nurse and continuing to offer "other options".

When Aleni decides to leave something behind, she just does it. It was literally from one day to the next that she transitioned from Gerbers to finger food. And, now I have almost a week's worth of Gerbers in the cupboard that she won't touch.

Yesterday, Rey was playing with Aleni, and she grabbed one of Noah's bottles and just started slurping it down. So, I quickly heated up some milk and swapped bottles. She drank just fine. Since then, Rey has laid her down for her naps with her bottle. She has done totally fine.

I didn't want to give her the bottle for the first couple times, so she wouldn't get confused. This last nap she took, I was the one who gave her the bottle and she didn't even think twice about bottle or nursing. She just guzzled down the bottle and went to sleep.

Aww. My baby is growing up. Sniff.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Noah & Aleni's Rooms.... Revealed

(Take a deep breath, my friend... you are reading this blog's 100th post! Ok-- now, you can read on...) ;)

Enjoy checking out these pictures of our "befores and afters" of Noah and Aleni's rooms. We were so blessed to have help from Connie and Marilee from New Life Church in Morton, IL.

Noah's room first:

It was a robust mix of dark brown on bottom and hot pink on top:


Here it is primered:


Annnnnnnd, here's the cheery yellow-orange it is now. (Don't those curtains, sewn by auntie dear, look so great?) :) The room is so happy now... I am planning on doing light gray ceilings later.



Here are the lovely (and tired) workers:


Noah's big boy bed. I should've done a panoramic shot of the room so you could get the whole effect. Ah, well. There will be more pictures.


The little fella conked out on the couch while waiting for his room.



And, now Aleni's room:

The drab and boring brown it was:


Connie is modeling another angle of the before room.



Got me some inspiration... and looooove this room now:


Remember these pillows I made?? Well, I made them with Aleni's room in mind and love how perfectly they go with the walls.


So, that's where we are now with the kiddos rooms. Got me all kinds of plans. I want to do Noah's room in a "transportation" theme. I'm thinking of going with all kinds of things that move, most likely antique versions of cars, bikes, trains, etc. In Aleni's room, I want to do the pastel jungle animals. (Limes, pinks, aquas). We have a height chart in that theme and she loooves staring at the animals. Should be fun!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Zzzzz.

Me sporting my best "I'm-so-over-this" face


It seems that everywhere I look, I see tired moms. Maybe it's just the groggy lenses I am looking through... But, it does seem that way.

On the one hand, it really makes me feel good to know that I am not the only one that has to give myself a pep talk before swinging my feet out of bed. It makes me feel like I am part of a community of home-front warriors who are tired in the battle, but still going onward.

As I was thinking about this, a friend posted this link...which further verified my thoughts of "We're all tired these days".

It could be this time change thing that is hitting so hard, but--as I told Rey a couple of days ago--"I am so tired of being tired. I can't remember when I didn't feel tired."

My Noah can be a ray of sunshine, but when the forecast is stormy--the house trembles. He's had a few days of storms lately... and by bedtime I am completely drained of every ounce of energy and the prospect of another day similar to that day overwhelms me.

Yesterday, for example was highlighted by numerous (and seemingly unprovoked) meltdowns... the couch also had its own meltdown. Let me explain: Noah (as I mentioned before) has decided clothing is a burden and yesterday afternoon stripped down to his birthday suit. It has turned cold here and it was definitely too cold to be a la naturale. After struggling to get clothes on him, I decided to just switch our space heater on for a few minutes and buy myself some time to brush my teeth before getting the kids together to head over to my aunt's house. About 4 minutes later, I came back into the livingroom to find a column of smoke rising to the ceiling. Noah had pushed the heater over against the couch and now there was smoke rising, red embers in the couch and a big black hole melted into the upholstery. The up-side to this story is we are planning on getting the couches recovered anyway. Some day. But, grrr! Not what you want to find.

So, I know that my strength comes from waiting on the Lord and clothing myself in His joy. I know that joy comes from choosing what I focus on. I know that focusing on God and His strength, His faithfulness is what will get me through today. In this season of life, I am finding myself too weary to do almost anything that required more brainwaves--such as deep Bible studies. I am not pretending that is correct, but that is honest. So, I am doing what I can to listen worship music or sermons as I do the mundane things, like washing dishes or scrubbing dried banana off the high chair tray. It really does help.

I also know that remembering that what I am doing matters will help me. If I focus on what God has given me and where He has me, rather than chafing in its limitations to my personality and mobility--I can find peace, contentment. If I remember that we are raising up men and women of God, that we are helping to shape lives and guide souls... I will not soon discount my occupation. Reading this helps me to regain focus.

I know that this is a season. A precious season. So even if prying my eyes open and shuffling to the kitchen seems like climbing Mt. Everest today... I can remember that what God is doing in me can only be done this way. And I can pray that what God is doing though me is a good and perfect work in the gifts He has loaned me.

So, my momma friends: I write this not only as a confession of where I am... but hoping that it helps you too. We are amazing in our work, far-reaching in our influence. We may be tired, but we will not give up!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

you can't fool me.

You might say otherwise... but I know this is what you get when you pick up a package marked "1/2 chicken" at the supermarket:




I am not sure I even know what those organs are... liver? The evil Chicken Heart?? Haha.

All I know is, it took a lot of will power to overcome the gag reflex when I was pregnant and cooking up chicken.

Eww.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

that's how.

So, ladies... many of you have asked: "So, I kinda like this guy--I think he might be an engineer. How can I tell?"

Well, just sit yourself down and listen to the fool-proof way to find out: Let him make hamburgers for you. How do you know this? you may ask, breathless at finding out the answer might be a short trip to the kitchen away.

Because, my dear, the guy I've been flirting with for the last--oh--6 years just gave himself away.

This afternoon, we decided that hamburgers sounded like a good choice for lunch. After I batted my eyelashes at him, the hunkster took over the hamburger making.

Everything seemed "normal" as he reached into the bowl and began forming balls from the meat. (Please discount the messy kitchen in the background. I have to give the maid a stern talking to.)


Then, he began carefully smashing...

And smashing....

And smashing....


It was around hour 2 of the smashing that little "engineer alarm bells" began tinkling in my subconscious. But, any last doubt was whisked away when he pulled out this:


When I saw that anything less than the perfectly round hamburger patty was unacceptable for this chef that I knew. I mean, I knew. And, that's how it will be for you. (You won't mind because he'll be flexing his muscles for you as he cuts out his circles)



He will probably thoroughly clean the excess meat from the plate--depositing it back in the bowl--before hunting for one last tool:


The perfect scraper for delivering the perfect patty to the perfectly heated griddle.




And, when you sink your teeth into these little perfections, you'll smile to yourself. You'll know.