27 June 2014

The Beautiful and Not-So Beautiful

Tijuana has a reputation of being an ugly, crime-ridden no man's land full of homeless drug addicts, drunken debauchery, and violence. I know it was like this in the past, but it is really not like that anymore. Yes, there are unsavory places I wouldn't touch anytime after 7 p.m. But there are places in Portland that are the same way. One of the comments I heard most often before I came here was, 'Isn't it dangerous?!' Well, yes, I suppose there are places that are. But there are also places back home that were the same way.

But Tijuana does have it's nice parts and it's ugly parts. It's ugliest part is of course, traffic. The freeway on ramps and off ramps are rather ambiguous, there are more than a million of us ants coming and going around the roundabouts and rolling through stop signs. The other day as I was driving with Krystal to the Line, I apparently made my own lane because I didn't notice that mine had ended. There are unmarked one way streets and of course there is road construction in downtown, where we just park in the middle of a road because there is no through traffic. I swear, who designed this place?!

The second ugliest thing about Tijuana is the Line. I'm finding myself in the line more and more and I don't even have a job yet. Certain things cost less in the US, especially diapers. One time, I wanted to buy Hector a tool set so he could fix things; I went to the Sears here in TJ to see- they wanted the equavilent of $250 when the same exact tool set was at Sears in Chula Vista for $149. I buy diapers and wipes at Target in the US. I don't know if it is import costs or they just know that there are a lot of people who can't cross over the border that drives the costs of everything up. However, waiting an hour at the border idling your car eats up your gas! And Mexico's national gas company, Pemex, isn't any cheaper than San Diego gasoline and American gasoline is last longer. You know you're in trouble when Arco is good gasoline.

Tijuana has a few beautiful things as well; who knew that here in the desert, so many beautiful things would grow? I didn't. Tijuana always seemed a wasteland to me before I came here. Yes, nopales and the cacti are pretty, but so are the palm trees, and the flowers. I have always wanted to live where there were palm trees. When I was 14, my mom bought me a palm tree, but I killed it. I used to keep my wall plastered in PacSun ads and had maps of California framed all over the place. This was once a dream of mine. And I'm living it, sort of. I never imagined that Hector and I would be here because of immigration. I always thought we'd just live down here, have weekend trips to Disneyland. But oh well, I can just lay in the shade of the palms and dream my little dreams.

25 June 2014


You know that one friend you have, that you can share almost anything with? Have you actually met that person in real life, or are they just a Facebook. I am quickly believing more and more in Divine Providence; this is one of those cases.

When I first met Krystal, it was in a Facebook group that discussed Project Life. After a few random posts, we figured out we were both in Oregon. That was the first coincidence. After more conversing we somehow came to telling our life stories. We both had husbands caught up in the US Immigration system. That could not have been a coincidence.

After awhile, Krystal began a blog about her life down into exile in Central Mexico. I watched as her family went through the process; I had stalled my family's progress through fear. I watched this woman, a brave woman who fought for the US, who served her community, leave it all behind and go south to keep her family together. We continued talking scrapbooks and immigration and Mexico stories as she enjoyed time with her family, and I built up enough courage to even make to the border. One day, she added me to a Facebook group that changed my entire life; apparently there was an entire world of women like us, who had to leave the US to keep their family together. I wasn't alone in the world. I had no idea before that. I didn't know all of these ladies came together like that.

And it all started because of scrapbooking.

Well, Krystal is going home for the summer for a bit, and she was passing through TJ on her way home. So I got to spend some time with her! It was great meeting her in person. She has a great bubbly personality and great well behaved kids (unlike mine were yesterday!).

I owe so much to this lady, I swear. Without her, I really doubt I would have ever made it. I was too afraid, too selfish, too me. Her example gave me the courage to do a lot; start this blog, move to Mexico, fight for my family. This lady is special to me, and I wish I could have let her know while we were hanging out.

I knew scrapbooking would eventually change my life. Love ya, Krystal!

24 June 2014

Our Newest Addition

I have to make an announcement to everyone:

Emilia Remedios
Born on April 23, 2014

No, I did not have another baby. Well, sort of. Our family has taken in this little critter and made her our own. Divine Providence has blessed us with this little sweetheart, and I could not be happier. I for awhile have been suffering from baby fever for some time now, and this little one hits the sweet spot, I swear. She is a fantastic eater, a fantastic sleeper, and I am just all around in love with this little baby. If I knew anything about adoption in Mexico, I would keep her forever and ever.

You will probably see her face more and more on my Facebook and Instagram accounts, now that I have made this public. For a long time I've wanted to share this story, and for now I can't share it completely because it is a very LONG soap-opera, but for now just love on her cute little cheeks.

23 June 2014

Things I Do In Mexico

Life on the border in some ways is pretty similar to life in the US; in reality the US is about 5 miles from the house, if that. In many ways, however, life is also different here.

  • I hang my laundry out to dry. I did this sometimes in Portland, but not often because of the weather. I am grateful that we have a washing machine, however, because I actually HATE washing clothes by hand. I have done it, I hate it, and I probably won't go back to it. I'd rather just buy new clothes.
  • I don't eat out. In fact, I don't really eat all that much here. I think the hot weather is getting to me because I just don't feel hungry at all anymore.
  • I sunburn. In Oregon I have sunburned before, but it was only on the very hottest days of the year. Here I turn red just hanging up the laundry. Right now I am nursing some extremely painful burns all over my body. Thank the Lord of Aloe gel.
  • I walk to Church. I did this in Portland, too. In Portland, however, this didn't mean a cross country hike up a giant hill in long skirts and church shoes. No wonder so many people go casual to Mass around here.
  • I spend less time online and on my phone. I can't afford the data coverage to use my phone when I'm not on the wifi. I am finding that when I am out and about with my family, I'm actually paying attention to them, rather than checking Facebook or Instagram. Who knew one could actually go an hour without checking Facebook?! 
  • I cook on a gas stove. Some people love gas stoves and have done this all of their lives. I have not. I really miss my electic stove. Something about the fire and having Cecilia learn to cook just makes me sick to my stomach. 
  • I don't feel any different than I did in the US. Yes, my family is reunited and that is AWESOME, but I don't sleep any better, my body still aches constantly, and I am exhausted all of the time. It's not from work or the lack there of, it just feels like I'm exhausted completely. I am out of emotion here. Maybe I'll feel differently after I've been here more than a week.
Right now, my main focus is spending time with my kids, avoiding the sun like the plague and eventually looking for work of some kind. I am really missing Oregon's cool and comfortable weather. I don't really feel like I stick out all that much in the neighborhood, but I haven't been out a lot. 

I haven't felt like I really want to make friends or meet anyone just yet. There are several mamas in TJ and they know who they are, that I AM most certainly ready to meet and hang out with, but meeting "new" people seems like too much for me right now. Maybe soon I will feel like doing that, but right now I just want to get settled and recover from my burns. 

20 June 2014

Hello New Parish

Hello new parish. I've arrived in Tijuana, but the first thing on my mind after getting my son was getting to Church.
Our local parish is Parroquia de la Medalla Milagrosa (Parish of the Miraculous Medal). On Thursday I went down to see it. It's bells are an alarm clock, ringing faithfully at 6:30 every morning. I can see the bell tower and the doors from our house. It might even be closer to me now than St. Peter's was in Portland.
I wanted to stop in and check the times for Mass, and instead I got reminded that it was the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, the Body and Blood of Christ. The church doors were wide open and the Blessed  Sacrament was on display for adoration.
As Catholics, we believe that the bread and wine are truly transformed into the Most Precious Body and Blood of Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is not a representation of Christ; it IS Christ. We are not adoring a representation of Christ, we are adoring and worshipping the Living God among us, Jesus.
We ended up coming back for Mass that evening and it ended with Procession; a beautiful tribute to our Lord where we take Him out and let the world see Him in all of His glory. It was amazing to be in the streets worshipping God. It's a great reminder that we, as Christians need to be worshipping Jesus everywhere, not just in church on Sundays.
I'm settling in well, I think.

18 June 2014

World Cup 2014

Let us appreciate the fact that it is world cup and I'm NOT nursing a newborn or pregnant. This is an oddity for me.

Welcome to World Cup 2014. Yesterday Mexico tied scoreless against Brazil. It was a hell of a game; I haven't seen Mexico play that well in a LONG time- thanks to Ochoa and his amazing saves. I have never been in a place where a game is on, where everyone is so excited,jumping up and down and screaming. We were sitting in a waiting room of a doctor's office watching the end of the game. Every doctor and nurse in the clinic was in the waiting room, watching the game, dressed in their Tri jerseies, right along with all of the patients. And none of the patients cared. They were right there, absorbed into the game as well.

Wowzers. It was a crazy game. Now allof Mexico is making memes about this guy. Some of them are pretty good:

And my personal favorite....

You're welcome. Let's see if Mr. Ochoa and keep Mexico in the running to actually win the World Cup...

17 June 2014

The Journey Into Exile

I made it to Mexico. I am now in Exile.

It feels strange to be here on Mars. I mean, every time that I have come to visit, we have been rushed, trying to accomplish everything in just a few days. That rush is gone. Yes, there is a lot to do here, but there is no time limit, there is no rush to get it done.

The trip south was not what I had planned. A few days before we were set to leave, my dad's car had some troubles: it would not be ready in time.So what had I done all of that packing for? Why did I try to control it so much?

Sunday afternoon, I boarded a bus headed south with Cecilia and as much as I could crammed into 3 suitcases. It was pouring down rain in Portland,as if thetown was crying for me. I pulled away from the bus terminal and I didn't look back. I didn't look out the window. The bus was already full of people headed to other parts of Mexico from places further than I was. I just cried as I watched every memory I ever made fade away.

The bus had no shocks (it was a cheap Mexican line) and I was crammed into a little tiny space with 56 of my closest strangers for 24 hours. It wasn't actually too bad, and by the time we pulled into LA, we were not strangers anymore.

Cecilia of course was bored the entire time . She slept, I didn't really sleep. I didn't take a lot of pictures because I wanted to make sure that my phone was going to not die on me.

Getting through Aduana (Mexican customs) was easy and because I was only taking clothes and a few other things, I didn't have to declare anything. However, it was a struggle to get all of the bags through and back onto the bus on the other side. Once in Mexico, Hector was waiting for me at the Central Camionera, or major bus terminal in Tijuana. I had to actually take a DIFFERENT bus to that place from the line, and when I got there, I said goodbye to anyone else I had made the trip with.

The trip south was a lesson for me in patience and humility and charity. Patience because even in the US, the bus left 2 hours late: Mexican time. Humility because even though I had planned to bring all of these things with me, I ended up with 3 suitcases of my most precious posessions that I absolutely could not live without. It doesn't matter how much I was trying to hold on to- it was still left behind. And of course charity, because even though some of the people on that bus tested my patience and other virtues I strive for, I still looked at them as children of God, on a journey, just like me.

I am no better than anyone else. I too, have left it all behind to become a stranger in a foreign land. I am now an immigrant.

14 June 2014

Sponsored Post: Faith Folders

Awhile back, Lindy over at HolyLearning.net put out a call for bloggers to use her products. I approached her about this offer, and I selected one of her Faith Folders to try out.

These Faith Folders are lapbooks, or small booklets of information, all put together in a notebook or file folder. These are becoming more popular with homeschoolers and I've seen quite a bit of these on Pinterest. I've been using this method since May, and I think they are wonderfully interactive methods to teach children about different subjects.

Recently, I have been really into teaching Cecilia about the Catholic Faith, so I thought this would be the nice opening into our next unit to study, the Holy Mass. I selected "The Things I See In Church". I downloaded the PDF file and at first, I was truly overwhelmed at the SIZE of the file; it was a long, long one. However, after reading through the first couple of instruction pages, I found that Lindy has created several options for the consumer:

  • Blank pages/picture only that your child can fill out on their own
  • Black and white options
  • Color options
  • Pre-filled in pages where your child just read about the item being discussed. I went with these for the most part.
After printing out all of the pages of the smaller booklets, I began to assemble the folder: This is the first time I've used the file folders to do these kinds of activities. During the month of May, when Cecilia and I did a unit about Mary, I used her notebook pages. The manila folders are not necessary to this project, but they do help make it much sturdier than notebook paper.
Beginning to assemble the cover and the booklets.
I must admit that printing out all of these little booklets used a lot of ink and a lot of paper. I think when I do this again, I would use a copy store, just because I ate up a cartridge. 

A lot of the little booklets have things inside of their covers. To do this, I printed out the two sheets,  cut them out, and glued them back-to-back:

The cutting/gluing/assembling process did take some time, maybe about 2 hours. But it took me a little while to figure out how all of the pieces went and were arranged. I started gluing them all over before I realized they actually have little places to go inside the folder. 

Here's a look at the final product, and a video I made (rather proud about this one). Never mind my stuffy nose and terrible breathing; I have horrifying allergies:

I really am loving this project and Cecilia was super excited when she saw it. We're going to be going over this in quite some detail on our trip south.

For TWO weeks, you can visit Lindy's site and make a purchase of any of Lindy's wonderful products using the coupon code "andrea", you will receive 15% off your order!

This is a sponsored blog post; I received the product as compensation for this post, however, all of the thoughts and commentary are mine and my own feelings and thoughts. 

13 June 2014

8 Years Old

8 years ago, at 2:42am, Cecilia Marilyn came screaming into my 17-year-old life and flipped my entire world upside down and around. I was terrified that in no way could I ever take care of a baby.  I didn't feel love at first sight, just simple terror at the magnitude of the gift that had been bestowed upon me.

Motherhood didn't come naturally; some days it still feels like it never came at all. I am not maternal. I didn't ooh and ahh over little babies; mostly I avoided them like the plague. Cecilia was no different. I was exhausted- obviously. I had read too many parenting books about attachment parenting and how exclusive breastfeeding was going to make me the best mom on the block and blah blah blah. Clearly none of them ever had postpartum so badly you have to give the baby to your parents and walk away because you imagine yourself hurting the baby. I guess they never had to deal with colic that went on for MONTHS and a baby who never slept through the night until she was almost 4. But right there, in the beginning, I felt like I was drowning. Hector helped out when he could, and it was AMAZING to have a partner- but I felt i a thousand times worse when he would go home to Yakima.
Even though I knew I had screwed up and was a teenage mom, I also knew that my baby needed to be baptized. She was baptized just before Christmas in 2006.
In 2007, we made the haul up to Yakima for awhile. It was in Yakima that Hector and I had the happiest times of our lives; Cecilia's colic FINALLY passed, she learned to crawl, we were normal. 
When we threw her 1st birthday, we were in for a shock. I had never known how much work actually went into a kid party! Holy mole! It was a great party, even if 40-50 people showed for a one year old's birthday.
After she turned one, then she turned 2, then three. Now she is 8. It's true that time flies and it only goes faster the older you get. I'm so glad that soon we are going to be in Mexico, where we can finally celebrate Cecilia's birthday semi-on-time because we haven't in years. Maybe she'll even get a birthday party? I am just glad that from now on, I am not going to be doing birthdays, or any milestones alone.

And Miss Cecilia, my pious child; I hope that you always, always remember to hear the call of God in your life. I do hope that you aspire to the consecrated life of being a Bride of Christ, but if you are called to the vocation of marriage, then you should follow that. Always remember that it is not our friends, our toys, our clothes, or our food that make us who we are; it is our heart and with your heart, I always pray you hear the Lord's call. I love you so much; you made me a mother and I will always recall the times when it was just me and you and I didn't think either of us would survive. We did survive and we thrived. I love you and happy birthday.

Here's a photo dump of all of my favorite pictures of Cecilia: