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Friday, March 25, 2011

when are babies the cutest?

2 hints:

--it is what my babies are doing right now
--it is not when they discover the toilet paper roll.

... When they are sleeping, of course!

There is something magical about seeing babies sleep, it always gives my heart a little squeeze. I don't know if it only happens when you see your own children sleeping... if so, pardon this post! :)

(Also, sorry about the order of the pictures. They pretty much uploaded backwards from the way I wanted them... and naptime is over, so this is how they are going up!)


Noah, a few months ago




Noah, 5 months old


Aleni, 8 months

Noah, 1 year
Noah, 1 1/2 yrs
Aleni, 10 months. Showing how you sleep away the cold in an unheated house
Noah, about a month old

Aleni, 1 month
Aleni, snuggling with Aunt Erin
Aleni, 2 months
Aleni, 1 month
Noah, 1 week
Aleni, 1 week
Aleni, the night she was born
Noah, 1 week

Noah, 3 months

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

dream reformation.



what is it like when a dream dies?
when the brightening of hope is crushed by
the darkness of failure?

it sounds like the crumpling of paper
ripped from its book, balled, thrown.
it rustles as it settles in with the other rubbish.

it is like a glass that falls to the ground
pieces scattering, irregular and cutting
unrecognizable.

it is tears streaming down cheeks,
fists balled in despair,
head bowed in acceptance.

it is the the hand of God, His voice
saying: "Though you fall,
you will not be utterly cast down."

Monday, March 21, 2011

different eyes





As I've mentioned before, street vendors are a common sight at major intersections here. While waiting for the green light, you can get your windshields cleaned, buy toys for the kid's birthday, a flower for your girlfriend or some gum to cover the garlic on your breath from the salsa you just ate.

While it is an interesting cultural experience, it can also be annoying to have a line of people coming to your window, hand outstretched for money. It can be frustrating to have 2 boys hurling themselves across the front of the car to wash your windshield when you already told them you don't have any cash on you. It can awaken feelings of doubt when people stand at your window, doctor's note outstretched, talking a mile a minute: "Just a little money so I can buy medicine..."

Recently, I have come to know 2 such people personally. And it has really changed my perspective.

One is Orlando. He is originally from Acapulco. He is young, wears sandals, a baja hoodie and wears his hair in a pony tail. He is a wanderer and an artist. He creates beautiful jewelry with great skill and patience--winding a coil of wire into intricate earrings or weaving strings into a bracelet. He is newly married with a baby girl on the way. To make ends meet and save up some money for a house he wants to build, he also does some difficult baton throws at stoplights and wanders through town playing his guitar. He is friendly, easy to talk with.

I wonder what I would think of him if I didn't know him?

The other is Xitlali (pronounced: "Seet-lah-lee"). She is a thin girl, about 15 years old. She lived about a block from us, and I met her and her grandma when they came to buy clothes from us. In talking with her, I found that every day she goes to sell things at a busy intersection in town. Some days she sells a candy her grandma makes, some days she hauls a board featuring many kinds of air fresheners for cars to sell. "I don't come back 'till I've sold everything." She often comes to my house after she gets done, "to see what's new..." I think she also like checking out the gringa. She has 5 siblings and often one of her younger brothers goes with her to sit out at the stoplight all day. He appears to be around 5 years old.

Yesterday, I pulled up to "her" stoplight on the way back from picking up the groceries. Xitlali was perhaps the 3rd person to arrive to my car, and she smiled when she recognized me. I apologized that I didn't have any cash on me, but offered her some of the Cheetos I had. She gladly took some, as well as her little brother. We chatted about things until the light turned green and I pulled away.

I wondered how many times I had scowled at her before I knew her?

In truth, I need Jesus' eyes.

momlife.

I've been honored to have one of my posts featured on Momlife Today. You can read it here.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

ode to babies.



I don't know if it is from lack of sleep due to sniffley babies, but this song choked me up. I also just "discovered" this artist...and am loving her!

Monday, March 14, 2011

why....?

"Why do I ever think it will work?" I moaned to Rey as we pulled out of our friends' driveway.

You see, from our selling stuff--we have met a really nice couple with 2 young boys. Yesterday. They invited us over for supper tonight. At 7. PM. I kind of started trembling inside, because Aleni usually conks out at 7 (or before) and Noah around 8.

But, I didn't want to get the name of "whiny gringa" so I smiled (tremblingly, I'm sure) and mentioned that possibly we could bring Aleni's pack-and-play to lay her down in for a couple of hours. The new friend said she had a crib, so no worries!

We pulled up a little after 7, and the house was dark. Thankfully, the girl's dad was also parked out front, and he had keys to the house. So, he let us in the house and we plopped on the couch to wait for our friends. The good news is, the dad is a talker and he talked non-stop 'till our friends got there.

The bad news is, they didn't get there for about another 1 1/2 hrs.

I am sure the jaw in my muscle was bulging and the crease between my eyebrows was getting deeper with every minute that ticked by. Of course, the living room was small, with glass things set around at the kids' eye-level. Of course Aleni was wailing by the time they got there. Of course Noah's diaper was full and I was dizzy from walking the 2 of them around and around in circles to try to keep them halfway occupied. Of course the food had to start getting made after our friends got there.

Thankfully, once the friends got there, Noah had fun playing with their boys and Aleni was able to stay halfway manageable with all the distraction.

Ah! I forgot the really funny part. We had actually brought Aleni's sound machine, thinking that would help her feel at home when we laid her down to sleep. Guess where the crib was? In the middle of the living room! I had to laugh inside, thinking about how helpful it was that we'd brought that sound machine. Obviously, Aleni didn't spend more than 1 minute in the crib!

So, now we're back. It's after 10 and we are exhausted and ready to fall into bed.

And, yet again "Mexican time" has been drilled into my ever-hopeful head.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

look what Canela did today.


Yup. She brought six young'uns into the world. Nope. I haven't checked on the boy/girl ratio.

Canela is an outside dog, and today was a super-busy day. Those are my excuses for having absolutely no idea that she was giving birth today. Her home is in a corner of our storage shed, which is also where our washing machine is. This evening, I was throwing in a load of wash and Canela came over to greet me. Then, I heard little squeaks coming from the corner. No wayyyyy, I said. Oh, yes way.

I had been worrying about this whole birth thing ever since I noticed she was pregnant. Images of having to go in James Harriott style, plastic gloves on my hands, kept plaguing my thoughts. I pictured a huge mess, a suffering Canela and a general hoopla.

Instead, I found a calm Canela, clean pups, clean shed. What happened to all the... stuff?? I wondered. I'll just be happy Canela knew what to do. :)

Of course, Noah thinks this is all pretty cool:




Who doesn't love baby pups?? Awww... so cute. And I love that several of them have the white marking on their foreheads....



The darkest one (on the far right) seems to be the one that's the most out of sync with the rest. His drum must be beating to a different song. We'll see how it all works out.

So far, Canela is managing like a pro.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

roots.

Things are bad here. But, I hear they're bad everywhere. It seems like this was foretold somewhere, isn't that true?

The violence here seems to be ever-worsening, ever-growing. It is all most people talk about all day long--albeit in hushed tones, not wanting to be overhead in case one of "them" is nearby. They talk about people being betrayed by life-long friends, about kidnappings and hold-ups. About corruption and senseless killings.

If evil prevails by implanting fear, evil is prevailing here. Many do not want to go out of their houses. We wonder how many of the stories are made up--just to create fear.

One thing that I have always hated here is the news reports. Newspapers here boldly splash huge pictures of dead bodies in the streets, blood and gore. I shudder to think of how young children are here when they first see real violent death at their local gas station newsstand. Yes, they put all those horrific images--but very rarely are there details as to the where, why, how, what is being done to bring justice. No, just sensationalism.

There are actually magazines published completely filled with nothing other than photographs so horrific that even the newspapers wouldn't print them. Rey remembers seeing them as a small boy.

It actually seems that many develop a taste, a hunger, for things dark and gory here. At the local movie theaters, the typical mix of movies is: 1 child movie, 1 famous/American movie, and then the other 5 all depict monsters, or witches, or children looking to be suffering from some kind of possession--blood and gore again.

A friend of mine posted this article, written by a Mexican in a newspaper column here. I loved his perspective, especially coming from a national. It was eye-opening for me. I almost didn't post it because I didn't know if it would be as interesting to others... But, here goes:

By: Carlos Mosivias

"...In a text published by the supplement El Angel... a crime reporter plants a disturbing idea. He writes that the consumption of newspaper images of death, blood and crime scenes are a kind of ritual by which Mexicans continue to show homage to the god Tecaztlipoca. 'It's like in the pages of these magazines we find a corrupt and sick altar to the violent power of a despotic government.'

If we believe historians, ... we would note that the Aztecs ate the flesh of their enemies and made human sacrifices in ceremonial rituals.

When societies that have practiced cannibalism evolve to a certain level of complexity and development they tend to severely condemn these practices in order to make them disappear, since at a certain point the practice puts at risk their own development. However, for some unknown reason we Mexicans never gotten rid of our rituals and they have symbolically remained until now. We see it in our traditional celebrations on November 2 ("The Day of the Dead"), in our fatalistic conception of the world and in other other aspects of our daily lives.

We tend to enjoy enjoy watching fights/boxing, we go to cock fights, we diligently take our turn to go see a dead body in the street, we line up to see horror movies with candy in our hands (to enjoy ourselves more) and, well, our inclination for this sensationalism seems to in a repressed way show our inheritance. It is important to note that the before-mentioned examples are ways of showing the aggression and violence, not the causes. However, our governmental regimes and decadence have turned us into a society familiar with and, in some ways, avid participants of the violence.The difference is while some actually are doing the violence, the rest of us are watching, listening and reading about it.

'The central point of [one of these violent magazines] is that it belongs to the same moral system as the crimes they write about. It forms a part of the same cultural structure."

..The truth is, even in the most stellar news programs, the violence is present. It is, without doubt, a sign of the times.

Another person dead in Juarez, another fallen in the street, students killed, babies killed... and--in the middle of it all--showing that we have one of the most ineffective police forces in the world. And why not? It also belongs to the same info structure that as those who are producing this stuff.

The tabloid/sensational writer is just doing his job. Reporting word by word, retelling the acts--their eight columns contain death: the photograph explodes into sight and the the vocabulary is exaggerated, sensationalistic, melodramatic as is characteristic of this genre... It is not the press's fault that in case after case so called public opinion only wants them to dig up details--not to look to promote justice.

Could I say it more clearly?


It made me think about something: Perhaps all this focus by the culture on gruesome violence is actually grooming violence in the next generation. What I mean is-- would not kids longing for greatness notice all the attention evil-doers get? The complete absorption in violence and ugliness? It would have to seem that becoming a part of the same violence would practically be a ticket to stardom!

It just made it so clear how easy it can be to take a stand against violence--starting from our own homes... our influence on our friends. Refusing to engage in the on-going dialogue of who did what. Refusing to be interested in the gore. Making a point of praising and lifting up those who do good.

It also made me see how deeply rooted darkness is in the country and how much it needs Jesus!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

it's not about what i do.


I love this blog post. I remember coming to this realization with Noah. But, I gotta admit there are days I feel like I am not living up to what I perceive are God's expectations of me. Do any other mommas of young ones struggle with this?? I feel like my "alone" times are so few that all I want to do many times is stare at a white wall and nibble on my nails. There are times I feel guilty coming to God in prayer, because I know I haven't even opened my Bible in days.

It is comforting to know that God knows me. Is there with me in my tiredness. He hears my "prayers" of, "Thank you!" or "Help!"--and they count. It kinda makes ya want to spend more time with Him, no? Once you get it out of your mind that He is mad about your "lack" in the spiritual department.

There truly is no God as marvelous and perfect as ours.

curiosity

It killed the cat, and it's killin' me! (In the figurative sense, of course.)

Being a foreigner in a country can get old. Then, imagine being a foreigner in a town where you can count the other "white people" on one hand. Yes, you become quite the head-turner. Quite the sensation.

I know some people say, "That's great! Use it to your advantage!"

But, sometimes, I just want to be invisible. I just want to wander around, window-shopping and lost in my own thoughts--without having to constantly try to side-step teethy señores who want to tell me my Spanish is great and where am I from?

I want to open my mouth without everyone in ear-shot freezing. I want to ask where I can find something without some snooty girl saying she can't understand my accent.

I want people to come visit me because they want to be friends, not because they want to see what kind of place the gringa has... and once they have found that out, they never come back.

I want not to be thought of as the representation of an entire nation. I often feel I am "bearing" the reproach of what someone perceives of Americans (example: American girls are generally thought of as being very "loose" morally... so, it can be hard to get other girls to open up since they think you are going to try to steal their man. It can be too easy for guys to approach you because they think you'll be open to them.).

I guess the thing is, I don't mind people being curious about me. It's just I mind the "impersonal curiosity". In other words, usually they aren't curious in that genuine "let's-be-friends" kind of way. More like curious in the "pay 5 cents to see the circus act" kind of way.

But, it's ok. I know I'm interesting. It's hard being a star. Hahah.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

girls

Here's an article that anyone who has girls or works with girls should read.

I have been thinking a lot about what messages I may send to Aleni about womanhood. From watching me, what will she believe about being beautiful? Being loved? Having worth?

I want Aleni to grow up into a confident woman of God, whose beauty radiates from within. The beauty that comes from knowing that she is adored by and belongs to her heavenly Daddy.

So far... it seems my little girl is off to a good start. ;)



Friday, March 4, 2011

don't you?

When you are out and about, looking for a new shirt to wear, don't you always carry around a bottle of the good stuff? At 10 in the morning? Don't you?


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

she's a diva


To be fair, our van has had a hard life. She was a wonderful gift at a much needed time. However, she is annoyed with us right now because it seems we didn't get the "hello-Windstars-are-for-driving-on-paved-roads-only" memo. Or the, "treat-me-gently" memo.

She has taken us all the way from here to Nebraska, through a snowstorm in Missouri (above) and to Illinois... and then back here. She has driven us the 9 hours to the border and back. More than once. She has taken people to and brought people from different airports.

She has been transporting wayyyy more people than she was made to carry (hey, it's Mexico. Why take more vehicles when we can all sit on each other's laps?).

She has been jarred, jostled and jolted along "roads" featuring pot holes as big as she is and rocks the size of her tires.

So, around the end of October, Van said, "Enough already! If you won't stop the abuse, I'll make you stop!" The transmission went out.

Ooohhh. Good one, Vanny. Because, we didn't have anything to fix the transmission with-- so Van sat out in the street in front of our house, chuckling to herself beneath her ever-thickening blanket of dust.

In December, we found a super-cheap mechanic who promised success. When he was finished with his repairs, we found that the brakes stayed clamped on. Rey tinkered with that a bit, with no luck. And then, Vanny struck again and the transmission went out. Again.

In January, we received a gift to be able to repair the van. So, we hired 2 better mechanics... and they worked in the afternoons in our front yard. All of Van's guts were laid out in the lawn and the mechanics literally took out the engine and a bunch of other big parts as they fixed the old girl.

About a week later, she was ready to go. Maybe the 2nd day Rey had her out, the van wouldn't start. So, back to the mechanics she went.

And, then her brakes kept clamping on.

Then, her suspension had to be fixed. I think she may have a crush on one of the mechanics. Not too sure.

About a week ago, maybe the second time I was driving her, I started her up, and made a U-turn on my street to head out. I heard a "clunk"... and then the car stopped working. I rolled to a stop, and got out to investigate. From back of the van stretched a long line of oil on the street... ending at a piece that had fallen off of the van. It seems like it was a cap of some kind for one of the oil tanks. So, she was out of commission again for a few days while Rey found the parts to fix it. And, the first time Rey drove her--the same piece fell off again. So, Rey fixed her. Again.

Now, she is running again. But, to start her, you have to do this fun little "back-and-forth" game, where you try to start it in "park", and then you try to start it in "neutral" and you just keep going back and forth like that until she decides to run.

She also does these super dramatic coughs and convulsions whenever the air conditioner is turned on.

Sistah, if you keep it up... you may just have to find yourself a new family!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

life they always dreamed about.


"You married someone. You made a commitment. Who are you as a spouse not to be a great partner? Because you are going to significantly... not ruin... but, not give the kind of life that you promised to that person you married. And that is a long time. I don't want to be a bad husband and ruin my wife's life because I'm lazy or I don't want to listen. It's a big responsibility. I want you to think about being responsible enough to love that person that you took a vow with and to give them the life you promised." --Matt Titus



I stumbled across this gem will watching a video excerpt of Matt and his wife giving some advice to spouses.

It spoke to me. Gave me a little shove in the right direction.

I am now taking responsibility for my actions, reactions, attitudes. For my part in creating the life Rey dreamed about when he dreamed about life with me. For becoming that person, that wife, that momma, that friend, that God has dreamed of me becoming.