30 April 2014

An Apology

So, today I was planning a big post on Part 1 of the Reyes Family Declutter.

However, life has happened, and I have not gotten the post written. I apologize to any readers looking forward to that post. I hopefully will have it up this time next week. I'm going to hit the pillow after a night shift....

Sleepy me.

29 April 2014

Project Life Tuesday: Week Seventeen

Welcome to Week Seventeen of Project Life Tuesday here on the blog! I can't believe we're already Seventeen weeks into 2014. It feels like such a short time, but also a long time as well.

Week Seventeen was a slow week. By slow week, I mean, I feel like I worked the entire time (even though I didn't) and I hardly took any pictures. I think I may have taken 30 pictures. That's it. But some exciting things did happen. Cecilia lost a tooth, my sister-in-law blessed me with a beautiful new niece, and my Daddy, my sweet Daddy, turned 80 years old!

So...onto this week's spread:
For the left side, I used Becky Higgins Project Life Page Protector Design D. It's what I used last week. I'm trying to mix up the page protectors I use, because I have so many and it seemed to me I was only using a couple of styles, and others were taking up space in my binders. The right side is Design C

Exciting happenings around here. Cecilia got her Highlights Club kit; which is a big deal for her. Also, on Monday, she came home from school missing another tooth. She's gonna put the Tooth Fairy out of business. Do you see that top picture on the right. Oh yes, Cecilia decided to PAINT her bedroom walls. That sunburst there is from my stencil- it's 12"x12". It's the entire wall.

This is the left page. It's a bit blurry on purpose, because the journaling is rather private. I highlighted the 2 big events of the week: my new baby niece (Emilia) and my dad's 80th birthday dinner. I used the large perforated cards included in the Rain Edition. They are meant to be folded and stuck into the 3x4 slots on the Design A pages, but I like to use them as large journaling spots. Sometimes I have a lot to say.

Project Life is a memory keeping system designed by Becky Higgins. All products are available on Becky's website or on Amazon.com. Feel free to share links to your own Project Life pages in the comments below.

28 April 2014

Being Brave and Letting Go- April 2014

I have made progress on being brave in April. The class prompt this month was all about "letting go", and I have done quite a bit of that this month.
First and foremost, I have let go of the tightest grip I had on depression and anxiety. I got the help I've needed and I am finally seeing a difference. Usually, if I don't see a difference quickly, I just give up and quit and go on being depressed and complaining about my life, but never really doing anything about it. I've stuck it out this time. I HAD to do something different. I couldn't take care of myself and I couldn't take care of my children. My relationship with Hector suffered unnecessarily. I HAD ENOUGH. I decided to let it go. And you know what? I feel freer. I'm not a super bubbly happy-go-lucky person, but I can get out of bed, get my work done, come home, get things done around the house, read with Cecilia or help her with her homework, and everything is running a lot smoother. My body doesn't ache as badly as it did. I don't feel like a 90-year-old lady. I let go of all of the pain and hurt that I've ever felt that I was hanging onto. I let go of anger and unhappiness. I let go of the fear of disappointing people- this was my biggest fear in life. I cannot change how people feel. I was so busy worrying about how not to disappoint, that I ended up disappointing them by missing the big picture of life

I've also let go my pride and selfishness. I think that these two things walk around in life, hand in hand. I am not better than the next schmuck. I am human, I have faults, I screw up (a lot), and it's time that I quit making excuses for my behavior. I don't deserve anything in this life more than the next person. I had this epiphany of sorts while at The Grotto the other day. Life happens to everyone. I may get good cards, for which I thank God. I may get crappy cards, to which I also thank God because when I do get those crappy cards, instead of complaining or trying to cheat my way into a better hand, I can use my resourcefulness and use what I've got. I've hurt the people I love the most through selfish and prideful behavior. I almost destroyed my family. I wasn't getting a better hand. The grass is not greener anywhere else. I let go of excuses, pride, selfishness, and I'm trading them for honesty, humility, and service to my husband especially, but to God and humanity. I'm ready to have a great life with my husband, but I cannot have that if I think and act like I am better than him, because the husband is the head of the household, regardless of who makes the most money- and I am 100% OKAY with that. I'm tired of having all of the responsibility on my shoulders anyways. I'm ready to have a great marriage.

I am looking forward to continuing my journey with my word this year. In January, I was terrified of BRAVE. But now I know why I needed this word in my life. 

One Little Word is an online class led by Ali Edwards. She encourages participants to choose one word to incorporate into their lives throughout the year, in lieu of New Year's Resolutions. This is my sixth year choosing a word and my second year participating in the class. I will share my One Little Word updates monthly throughout 2014.

27 April 2014

Living Simply

The Pope recently posted on his Twitter that: "A simple lifestyle is good for us, helping us better share with those in need." And I have been thinking about this a lot lately, as I prepare to move to a country that puts less emphasis on physical possessions as it does on being with family, I've decided it time to declutter. I have about 5 weeks(!) until the move, and I know that I cannot take everything that I want to take. So Each week until the move, I am going to be going through all of my things, deciding what can stay, what can go.

I LOVE my things. I will fully admit it. This is probably not the attitude I should really have, and I know that. I have spent a large sum of money, acquiring things that I like. I have bought clothes, scrapbooking supplies,  books, dishes, toys for my kids, decor items, Christmas decorations- almost anything you can think of? Why? I wanted it. Simple as that. Do I have a shopping problem? Yes I do. It's frustrating and scary to be thinking that I am going to be decluttering and getting rid of things that I worked so hard to have. I want to be able to take EVERYTHING with me to Mexico. I've even considered getting a U-Haul to drive down to the border, but that doesn't make a lot of sense to me. I can't take everything. 

So over the next few weeks you will see me decluttering:
  • Toys
  • Clothing
  • Hobby Items, including scrapbooking materials, art items, and possibly books.
  • Papers and things I've held on to for no apparent reason
  • Furniture
I figure that these are most of what I have. If I can break the emotional bond I have to most of this junk taking up space in my life, then I will be able to move on to the next chapter of my life, lighter and freer than I ever have been. Please join me on this journey, because I will need LOTS of emotional support, and please tune in on WEDNESDAYS as this will be the day I will be posting my progress- see you on Wednesday when I will tackle the immense piles of kid's toys that we've amassed over the last 7 years or so.

26 April 2014

Border Stories Saturday: Borderland

Awhile back, a friend of mine posted a link on her personal Facebook page, and I thought I would pass it along to my Border Stories Saturday followers.

It's an app produced by NPR and can be accessed here.

Take some time to check it out and learn something about the places where our country connects with others. Did you learn anything? I know I sure did. I never realized how many things were left behind during crossing. Did anything stand out to you?

25 April 2014

Faith Friday: The Greatest Man I Never Knew

Welcome to Faith Fridays here on Mars! On Fridays on the blog, I share a post celebrating my Catholic Faith. Thank you for joining me here! 

So, I found all of the JPII images on Pinterest
Besides being a great Reba McEntire song, these are the words I usually use to describe Bl. Pope John Paul II. The fact that I have seen this man be Pope, die, and be canonized in my lifetime, let alone in about a decade of my lifetime, simply floors me. I knew that the man would become a saint. There was no way someone so good couldn't possibly be holy. When he died, I wrote my high school Junior Research Paper on the man. I cried. I literally shed tears for a man that I had never even met and who probably had no idea who I was. I remember going past my local parish and seeing the black flags, a symbol that the pope had died. I was filled with dread and sorrow. For the first time in my sixteen years, I truly knew what sorrow felt like. I wandered around dazed and confused- I had no idea how the Catholic church would continue without him. I thought the whole world was going to fall apart.

He traveled more than any other pope. He held the second-longest papacy. He showed total forgiveness after his assassination attempt. He was humble, modern, but held steadfast on the Church's teachings and Tradition. JPII to me is simply what a Catholic is. He was a compassionate, merciful, and humble leader who help end communism in troubled times and brought me about to the Church. On Sunday, Divine Mercy Sunday, he will be canonized as Saint John Paul the Great. Which he was. He was great. He was the leader the Church, no, the WORLD needed for all of those years. Truly a Holy Man, I am simply honored that I got to walk the same Earth as he.

The canonization process can take years- hundreds for some (like Saint Juan Diego, the man to whom Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared) or just a few years, like JPII. Officially, to be recognized as a saint, two miracles must have been brought about through intercession of the person, after their earthly death. They will be granted a feast day, where we as Catholics celebrate their lives and their holy work, and churches can be built in their honor.

The Image of Divine Mercy that Jesus instructed St. Faustina to have
painted and venerated. [source]
This Sunday is also important because it is Divine Mercy Sunday. On February 22, 1931, a polish nun named Sr. Faustina had a vision of Christ in which he instructed her to paint his image in a certain way. Over the next seven years, she had many more visions of Christ, in which she recorded in her Diary, which included her conversations and instructions from Christ. He ordered her to pray the Divine Mercy Novena, the Chaplet, and to observe the Hour of Mercy, which is 3 o'clock in the afternoon (also the hour of Christ's death on Good Friday). Divine Mercy Sunday was proclaimed as the Sunday after Easter by JPII in 2000. Sr. Faustina was also canonized on that same date [source]. The Divine Mercy is truly the entire message of Christianity- that we are all sinners, but Christ's love through His Passion and Sacrifice, can redeem us all, if we accept it.

How are you celebrating the #2PopeSaints/Diving Mercy weekend?

24 April 2014

Surviving Long-Distance Marriage, Part 4

Welcome back to my marriage series on surviving a long-distance marriage. This is part 4 of the series. Other posts in this series can be found here. To find out more about how we ended up in a long-distance marriage, click here

How do you parent from a distance? This is something that has been hard to tackle. Upon Hector's deportation, all of a sudden, I went from stay-at-home-home married mom, to single-but-not-single mom. I told Hector in his first phone call to me, that I was going to keep the kids' lives as normal as possible; how do you do that when their dad has been ripped from them? This stuck with me as my mission, and one that I may have spent too much money on. I took the kids to the zoo. I signed Cecilia up for all kinds of extracurricular activities. I made us into a busy family. Cecilia started school. We had birthday parties. We did all of this, and I left out Hector, because I was selfish. I wanted to be supermom who had it all handled. 

All I did was teach my kids to value things more than family and that they are too busy to pay attention to their dad. We numbed Hector's absence with activity, all while neglecting that Hector still wanted to "dad" them. How to remedy the damage I did?

  1. Have the kids ask their dad for permission: A sleepover at a friend's house? Going to the grocery store with Grandma? These are all things I can yea or nay myself, but I have Cecilia ask her dad for his permission. I want her to know that he is still in charge, even if he isn't physically here with us.
  2. Skype: Cecilia and her dad play a game that they call "Question Time". It's kind of like 20 questions, but Hector types out the questions and makes her read them to practice her reading, and he gets to know about how her day went, what she likes, ect. They get to know each other that way.
  3. Discipline together: I am a screamer. I'm not proud of it, but I tend to yell at my kids and freak out more than I'd ever like to admit. If Cecilia needs a talking to, I have her dad do it. He can communicate a lot more calmly with her than I can, and if he decides on a punishment, I can carry it out for him. If I need to I can put her in time out, but she'll just cry and whine. If Dad also decides she needs a time-out, then she goes and pouts in the corner. This lets her know that Dad and I are still a united team.

These simple little steps have helped tremendously. Not only does it help Hector stay involved in the kids' lives, but it gives me a break from having all of the pressure on me. The more decisions he can make for the kids, the less I have to make, so I can concentrate on working and taking care of the physical needs of the children and household. When I was trying to make all of the decisions, I was stressed, unhappy, and I yelled, even more than I do now. I had to give up some of the control, and my life with my husband and my children, even separated like we are, is much happier.

How do you split parenting in your house? Does one person make all of the decisions or is everything equally split? How do you decide who is in charge of what? What effects does that have on your family dynamic? Please share in the comments below!

P.S.- I'm linking this post up over at Lewis Lane Designs Tuned In Thursday Link-Up. Thanks for stopping by!
Lewis Lane

23 April 2014

Colors of Mars

Mars if supposed to be the "Red Planet" but my Mars is much more colorful. I'm missing TJ a lot lately, probably because outside looks a lot like this:

No thank you. So, to brighten up my days, I've put together a post of some of my most colorful pictures of Tijuana I could find: 

Ahh...that's better. I can't wait until I can stay on Mars full-time and live in the sunshine. Just looking at these pictures make me happy :)

22 April 2014

Project Life Tuesday: My Process

Welcome to Project Life Tuesday. We're just cruising right along with 2014 and I'm loving recording my family happenings weekly versus monthly (what I've done in the past). Today I'm going to walk you through my process of how I put together a spread. I tried to record a vlog, but my phone doesn't like that. Hopefully in the future!

I approach my Project Life a bit differently than most people I think. From what I've seen, most people pick their photos, then their cards, then their page protectors. I only use one kit, so my choice of cards are limited to whatever I find in the Rain core kit cards that I have. I like to limit myself to one kit, rather than mix and match my Project Life kits because I don't want scrapbooking to take a bunch of time. I want to put the spread together and be done with it. That is why I chose to use Project Life. I don't want to spend hours away from my kids on my hobbies, especially when I'm all by myself. Anywho, my first step is choosing a title card for the week (I actually have already done this for the next several weeks and they are all in the album- saving time). With that being said, I pick out which page protectors I'm going to use for the next week.

But how do you know which photos you are going to take? What if they are the wrong direction? Well, I adapt my photos to the page protectors. This helps me limit the time I spend going through my pictures. When the week is over, I go through my photos and I pick them out on my phone, edit, send to Walgreens via Printicular. I pick them up on Monday at the Walgreens down the street from my job. After I pick out my page protectors, I pick out my journaling cards and I do all of the journaling for the week. I hand-write all of my journaling, not because I have awesome penmanship, but because it saves time. I use whatever blue or black gel pen I have laying around, which are multiple. I love blue ink.

Then I slip in my photos last, if I need more journaling space, I cut apart these cards into cute shapes and journal on them, then glue them to my photos. This is the most artistic thing I do. It takes the longest, but I find it serves it's purpose. All of my little doodads serve a purpose of journaling. I don't spend hours embellishing. That is why I chose Project Life. You can still have an awesome album without all of the hard-work.

Now, since Week 16 included Holy Week celebrations and Easter, I decided to add an insert. Instead of buying a pack of specialty page protectors, I made my own for my insert: 
Step 1. Pick out a Design A Becky Higgins Project Life Pocket Page

Step 2.- Cut the page in half, just to the RIGHT of the middle divider line.

Step 3. Add pictures and voila! A 6x12 insert for Easter day. 

Now, a look at the completed spread:
Left Side: 
Front of Easter Insert:
Back of Easter Insert:
And of course, the Right Side:

Well, I hope I've been able to inspire someone to think outside or inside of the box and find a simple way to choose their photos and get them down into books. 

Project Life is a memory keeping system designed by Becky Higgins. All products are available on Becky's website or on Amazon.com. Feel free to share links to your own Project Life pages in the comments below.