13 April 2017

A New Beginning's End

"Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end" - Semisonic, Closing Time

Hello readers. I've been MIA on this blog for a couple of months, but I simply haven't the time or the energy to write. This was started as a blog post for the April SOTB blog hop, but I simply didn't have the energy or heart to finish the post, or to write anything else.

In the beginning of April, I suffered a very personal tragedy- I had a miscarriage. It was a very early miscarriage of a surprise pregnancy, but it was still a miscarriage. A very tiny person, who never even saw the light of day, died in the one place that she was supposed to be safe. I've had miscarriages before, this is only the most recent in a list I've been compiling over my adult life. However, this miscarriage affected me rather hard, knocking me down into a world of depression and sadness that I could not brave myself for.

I know that I did not cause myself to lose this little baby. Early miscarriages happen frequently. Hector and I were not even trying to get pregnant; in fact, we were using natural family planning to avoid pregnancy. Adding another child to our family would have been a great difficulty emotionally and financially. Leo is barely a year old and still nurses frequently. As Hector is the main caregiver for our children, two under two would have been extremely stressful for him. Logically, I know these reasons to be true and rational. However, they do not numb the pain and they seem like poor excuses compared to the tiny life that grew inside of me, even if only for a couple of weeks.

My emotional life has not been the healthiest lately, and my life-long battle with depression and anxiety has been waging rather violently in the past few months. I was already battling thoughts of unworthiness and misery before all of this happened. Losing a baby just added fuel of the fire burning in my brain. 

My personal motto is simple: "life goes on". Even when my world crashed down on top of me, I knew that I have to keep going. I don't have time to stop because my family depends on me. First, I named the baby. As Catholics, we believe that the saints in heaven have the ability to pray for us, as our brothers and sisters in Christ, because they are alive in heaven. This child went straight to heaven, and is there and can pray for our family. We don't change into angels in heaven- they are their own beings. We become
saints. I can ask this tiny saint to pray for our family. But she needed a name. I've named all of my tiny saints. Secondly, I force myself to carry on. The day after I started to miscarry, I went to the gym, per my normal routine. I did a light work out, but I knew if I did not persist in my regular routine, I would get stuck in the endless cycle of tears and exhaustion. I sat on the stationary bike and read articles about miscarriage and recovering. I went to work. I carried on, day after day until I gained enough momentum to continue living without forcing myself to.

I really don't know what the life lesson is supposed to be. I sometimes think there isn't one. It's so hard to understand how much grief is possible over someone who was a surprise to her parents, then left so soon. It's comforting to think of my baby in heaven being held by Mama Mary, but I still wish I could have held her here. I've learned by now that life is not about getting what you want and that it is unfair to the extreme. If that is the lesson that should be learned, someone please send a memo to life: you are unfair, I get it; I do not need so many reminders.

20 March 2017

Playas de Tijuana

I had a day off. I get these weekly, like most people, but my days off are usually just as busy, or busier than the days that I go to work. I finally needed to get some air, so I decided that we should go walking on the boardwalk at the beach here in Tijuana. It turns out, the boardwalk, and the adjoining city park that butts up against the border fence is a vibrant and alive place full of art.

First of all, last year there were some very high tides that erroded a huge chunk of the beach away, exposing muddy cliffs. People have taken advantage of this medium to make some amazing sculptures in the cliff faces:
So much love

The sun and the moon

Horses in love

The greatest love story ever told

Love the planet

Unfortunately, I don't know anything about the artists. I didn't even know these were here until I followed Cecilia aross the pebbled beach looking to see if any tide pool/sea gardens have started growing in the rubble from last winter's storms (they haven't). The walk is pretty inaccessible for anyone unsteady on their feet, and in located directly under the cliff at the southern end of the boardwalk, down by the firefighters/lifeguards.

Heading north on the boardwalk means that you run right into the ugly border fence, However, Tijuana is a city with an exploding art scence, and the world is the canvas of these artists. They've managed to take something as ugly as the giant fence and turn it into something that causes people to think about its underlying meanings.
Isn't it already high enough?

At least it's trying to blend in

Looking up

Mexico is putting these metal signs all over. I love them.

In distress.

The northen-most limit of the Republic


In Memoriam

Two sides of the same wall

I liked this whale. 

Tabasco is an Eden.

I posted this last picture on my Instagram account. Hector had never really been here to the park before, and I had only come this close to the fence a couple of times on my own. We never talk much about the fence, but I thought this image of Hector was rather powerful. There is a life we lived before, and a life we live now. He was glancing through the fence, something I don't ever recall him doing, back at a life that we will never live again. 

Playas de Tijuana is a great, inexpensive escape for the people of Tijuana. Yes, we could drive further south to Rosarito or Ensenada, but Playas is a 15 minute drive, and it doesn't have a lot of the extras geared to tourists. It's a place for picknicking and being with family. Most of our Playas trips are just fun days at the beach. On this particular day, our trip was full of surprises and emotions that we had tried not to feel for some time. 

17 March 2017

52WGC|Week Eleven

So, welcome back to the 52 week gratitude challenge. I have been struggling to keep up with the challenge, but I'm trucking right along. Week eleven's post is a little late, and it asks me to focus on a person who inspires me. I wrote in the intro to my last 52WGC post that I do not like writing about people other than my immediate family, as it is rude and intrusive to their privacy, but today I am writing about someone who has made my life in Mexico a bit more liveable. Hopefully, she'll forgive me and get over it.

My sister-in-law Corrina picked up and moved to Mexico almost right after her husband was deported. She loaded down her car and her kids and moved into the world's crappiest apartment. She didn't speak the language that well. She didn't have a job. She sold almost all of her belongings and said good-bye to Oregon. Her first year in Mexico was probably worse for her than mine was for me. She didn't hesitate to come like I had. It's true our situations of our previous lives were different, but at the end of the day, she was braver than I was. She inspired me to take the plunge and come. Seeing her survive made me realize that maybe I could survive.

I think she might wish that I had a different picture for this post,
but it was in my phone. Ill take another soon, I promise.
When I first came, we lived with her in her apartment. We shared food and tried to make our lives work. We butted heads a lot. It's difficult when ten people are shoved into one house. We moved out and have been pretty solitary since, but Corrina and I still always depend on each other. Sometimes, it's a simple thing, like needing a ride to work when a car breaks down or picking a kid up from school. Other times it's something serious, like being at the ER when the other is too sick to drive, and our husband's can't cross. Sometimes Mexico is not a fun, happy, colorful place. Sometimes homesickness gets the best of us, and there's no one else who can rally relate. Sometimes the culture shock still gets to you, and you have to talk to someone who really understands the sacrifices that you've made.

Corrina is that person for me. We have not always seen eye to eye. In fact, sometimes I wonder if we really even like each other. We are very different people with very different backgrounds and experiences. Her bubbly personality is sometimes more than my poor introverted self can handle. But she is always there when I truly need her. She is family, and that is a precious jewel to hang on to when you've completely uprooted your entire life.

Oh yes, she also inspires me to get off my butt and head to the gym. She'll keep me from premature death that way, I suppose. Thanks for looking out.

12 March 2017

52WGC|Week Ten

So, first of all, I owe you an explanation. I've missed 3 weeks of this challenge. I've been insanely busy, more so than usual. I've been working and doing a lot of stuff around the house that needed some attention. The past three weeks of the challenge also encouraged me to be grateful for a friend. Unfortunately, I don't have any friends in my real life that I'm comfortable sharing about publicly. I can talk about myself for years, but I can't share about those around me.  So, I'm moving on to week ten. Week ten invites me to look at myself and find 5 things that I like about myself.

I have suffered from low self-esteem since I knew what self-esteem was. I can easily pick apart my most obvious flaws, obsessing over the physical features or my lack of social skills. Finding a quality, much less five, that I like about myself is a long walk down the path of self-discovery. I have been able to learn to stop second-guessing every compliment, but accepting that there are good things about myself has taken awhile.

1. I am resilient. I have shown myself that I am brave and strong. I didn't move to Mexico right after Hector's deportation because I was afraid. I knew that I would fail. I feared the prospect of starving, of homelessness, of my marriage falling apart. I eventually did come. And it's been hard. I've faced things that I never expected to face, done things I never dreamed of doing, and gave up parts of me that I was clinging to for dear life. But I've met and overcome every challenge that I've come across. 

2. I have a knack for languages. This skill has come in handy more than I could ever imagine. Besides English and Spanish, I also speak Portuguese, and I'm beginning to learn French. I feel that speaking foreign languages is an important part of any education, because English is not theonly language in existence. It takes me about two years of daily study to become proficient in a language that I am not immersed in. When immeresed, it takes much longer for me to learn the language correctly, because I pick up too much local slang.

3. I am awkward. This is not something that love about myself, but it is something that I think I appreciate. I like being at home. I love devouring an amazing book. I am not a fan of crowded places, or being touched, or carrying on conversations with strangers. It's exhausting. Even ordering food is an activity that takes a giant pep-talk. I am perfectly content with the fact that I need to be alone a lot. I have learned that my awkwardness is just part of my personality, the way that God created me.

4. I am loyal. I am fiercely loyal to my friends, the few that thet are, my work, and of course, Hector. I defend them even when they probably don't deserve it by society standards. I stay in jobs for long periods of time, which is unusual in my line of work.

5. I am crafty.  Not cunning, but I enjoy making things. I've kept scrapbooks since 8th grade. I knit. I crochet. I make party decorations. I have an eye for things like that. I try to add a little beauty to the world every day. I have that talent and I'm proud of it. It makes me happy to make things and share them with other people. 

So, there you have it: 5 things about me that I like. As I age I recognize that I am set in my ways by now, and they're not all bad. 

08 March 2017

0% Luck, 100% Hustle

THREE SOTB blog hops in a row?! I'm on a roll! As I mentioned before this blog hop was started a couple years ago, but me and a group of fellow Mexico-dwellers have tried our hardest to revive it this year. It's now March, and the theme is luck, but I'm pretty sure I'm not Irish.

I don't believe in luck. Perhaps it's my lifelong history of never being able to do something the easy way, or win much of anything, but I quit believing in luck a long time ago. I've spent my life running across people who've found ways to cheat the System, get a break, or even get ahead. But every time I've tried to copy them, I get shut down at every turn. Everything I have, I've had to hustle for.

I don't mind working hard. Well, sometimes I do. Sometimes, I'd like to take it easy, slow down, play hookie from work. But I know that I can't. There's no help for me if I slow down. While Tijuana is exceptionally cheaper than San Diego  to live in, the life of a border crosser is expensive. There's gas and food, buying household necessities, clothes, school supplies, work expenses- the costs of being alive. While my choice to live in Mexico saves me from needing a second job, I lose out on all of the "help" and "assistance" available to my coworkers from the government. I don't know how people who live in TJ manage to get help from the U.S.; most likely through less than honest information on their applications. I don't care if people do this. However, it's not an option that's ever been open to me. My only option is to work hard.

I wasn't always a hard worker. There was a time in my life when I was waiting for a rescuer. I thought that someone would come along and right all of the wrongs in my life. I pictured a life where I'd stay at home making Pinterest projects with my kids. I pictured a life that was very different than the one that I have now. Then, my plans and desires changed and I thought that I could be anything I wanted. I went to college and tried to plan for a future. But then Hector was deported and I began to learn that luck, like happiness, is what you make it.

I get tired. I'm worn out. The daily border crossing is emotionally draining. I get burned out in my career. But I keep going. Money doesn't rain from the sky. God gave me a body, and so I use it to work. Nobody is coming to help me but me. If the Lord sends a blessing that's fine, but usually it's just me and my abilities.

I don't have any luck, I have hustle. I can't stop for little men in green at the end of rainbows. I have to go to work.

07 March 2017

La Bufadora

Mexico is not all spring break parties, cacti, and loud mariachi music; Mexico is a place of rolling, green hills, wine country, and geological phenomena. La Bufadora falls into that last category. We took a little day trip from Tijuana down the coast to Ensenada, then out to this little treasure. La Bufadora is an ocean blow hole. The sea shoots up through a crevice in the rocky shoreline and sprays spectators. People come from all over to see this display of the sea. 

La Bufadora is located on the back of the peninsula on the southern edge of the Ensenada bay. To get there, we took a very scenic route through Wine Country, but the simplest way is to head south from Tijuana on the toll road from Playas, through Rosarito, and then keep heading south. Once in Ensenada, follow the signs. Once you pass the city, you come across the town of Maneradero, and you take a right down this inconspicuous road that looks like it goes nowhere. The road twists and turns through camping areas and some lowland farming areas. There are plenty of roadside shops selling home-pickled olives, fresh Olive oil, and fresh honey, along with other canned goods. You follow the road until it ends. There's a parking lot that cost us about $5. From there, you have to walk down to the cliffs. 
Ensenada is a huge port town, and cruise ships headed to Mexico almost all stop there, so there's a big tourist industry in the area. At La Bufadora, you walk down a path lined with people selling all of the usual Mexican souvenirs- ceramic knicknacks, ponchos, knock-off purses, leather sandals, and of course, there's a ton of food. Seafood is the typical choice, seeing that the ocean is about 10 feet away. We didn't stop to eat that day- we should have. The prices were typical for a tourist place: expensive for people who live in Mexico, but cheap by American standards. We also didn't buy any souvenirs because it's the same stuff sold in Tijuana's tourist areas. 

At the end of the path, there's a white building with restrooms- $10 pesos per person. They were relatively clean, but there was no soap to wash with, and no towels to set with. That is very typical in Mexico in all public restrooms. Outside of building, is a path on the cliff edge. There's a lot of nice places to take pictures, and watch the tides. However, at the back of said building, sits the bottom of the viewing area for La Bufadora. Even for a blustery February Sunday, it was really crowded. People all clambered to get a spritz of ocean on their faces. We couldn't get through to even see the water come up, so we had to go higher. 

There was a path that headed up the cliff above La Bufadora someone had built a higher viewing platform. There was almost no people up there except for a few peddlers selling coconuts.  We got a great view, looking down into the waterspout. The kids were more entertained by the hills and boulders above us than by the spraying water down below. Hector's fear of heights made us not stay for long, but we did have some fun climbing around, in places not above stone cliffs. 

La Bufadora is a fun addition to any Ensenada trip, and it made for a lovely diversion from the fast-paced life in Tijuana. I recommend heading out in the morning, because the drive from Tijuana to Ensenada takes about an hour, and La Bufadora is about 45 minutes past that. Bring change for parking and bathrooms. Exchange your dollars for pesos in Tijuana before you leave. The exchange rate in Ensenada is not as good as it would be closer to the border, and out towards La Bufadora, there were no casas de cambio. It is much easier to deal in pesos than dollars, since any merchant can take the dollar at any rate they want. Bring a sweater and mind the safety signs and railings- it's a long way down without a soft landing. Finally, enjoy one of the natural wonders that Mexico has to offer. It really is more than cheap liquor and loud parties. 

13 February 2017

February SOTB Blog Hop- And A Free Printable!

Hey, look at that! I made it to TWO SOTB blog hops in a row! Woo-hoo. As I mentioned last month, this blog hop was started a couple years ago, but me and a group of fellow Mexico-dwellers have tried our hardest to revive it this year. It's February- meaning the theme is "love". I have already written a million times about how much I love Hector, so I won't bore you with that same song and dance. Instead, I thought I'd focus a little bit on my love for the Spanish language. 

I started learning Spanish around 8th grade. Schools still wanted us to know a foreign language and Spanish seemed to be more useful than French in urban Oregon. The class was just basic vocabulary, but I absorbed the words like a sponge. When I headed to high school, I learned to study. I was always an avid reader, but I realized that I needed more than reading the mock conversations provided in my text book. I copied them by hand. I copied verb conjugations repeatedly. I filled notebooks with grammar rules and irregular verbs and nouns. I read the Spanish-English dictionary cover to cover. By the time that I was a senior in high school, I was in a class for native Spanish speakers. I never thought then that the language of my daily activities would one day be Spanish. I learned because I wanted to possess the knowledge. I'd write Hector letters and try to impress him. I'd watch Spanish TV to get my pronunciation correct. 

What I love about Spanish is how incredibly simple it is as a language. It is phonetic- everything is spelled exactly as it sounds. Of course, it can sound completely different in different countries or in different parts of Mexico. Sometimes Hector and I will listen to people and try and guess where they are from based on their accent. Spanish, because of it's phonetic nature and gender-associated nouns, it is a language that is perfect for poetry and music. It is very easy to rhyme, although no one writes me any sonnets. Music is always part of life here in Mexico, as I'm sure it is elsewhere. There is always something playing somewhere in the background as you go anywhere. 

While I conduct most of our daily business with the outside world in Spanish, we still speak English at home. Isaias still struggles with Spanish, even though we do lessons with him. It's very difficult to give up your mother tongue completely, I've noticed. I've dreamt in Spanish, a sign that I'm bilingual- but I still don't feel bilingual. I have a hard time with Tijuanisms and the local slang here. I struggle with being confident in my language abilities. I say the wrong word every now and again, but I try and I keep trying. That's where real language learning takes place: immersion. I copied textbooks and dictionaries until my hands cramped up and I couldn't write any more, but book learning only takes you so far. Immersing myself in the language, and not forcing the other person to use English, has been the greatest education I have given myself. Words are magic, says Dumbledore, and by learning Spanish, I increased the magic in my life.  

To celebrate Valentine's Day and my love of the Spanish language, I made this printable, with free digital elements found here, for you to download and use for a love note, scrapbooking, or home decor. Just click here and save it to your computer.

Happy Valentine's Day! ¡Feliz día de San Valentín! ¡Feliz día de amor y amistad!

What do my fellow South of the Border Sisters love? Check them out in this month's blog hop:

11 February 2017

52WGC|Week Six- Tijuana Edition

Welcome to week six of the 52-Week Gratitude Challenge. I started this challenge for 2017 as a way to recognize the small things in my life that make it magical and worth living. Other posts in the series can be found here.

Week six of the challenge invites me to take a look at what makes me grateful for the city I live in. Sometimes, it is very difficult to love Tijuana. It is filled with increasing crime, poverty, and sad stories. Children have been hurt and taken from the streets here. The sex trafficking and tourism industry is ripe. There's insane overcrowding in areas near the border. The pollution is awful. The hopeless deported wander the streets aimlessly, dreaming of crossing again. Tijuana is not a place that is historically known as a place to better yourself. Most people have the impression that Tijuana is dirty and crime-ridden. In fact, most people believe Tijuana to be an unsafe place, especially for me as an American woman. Stereotypes are brought about and perpetuated by having a twinge of truth in them. Tijuana has a lot of awful things going on in it's streets. But, Tijuana has grown on me with time, and I'm learning to not necessarily love, but like this place.

Tijuana is a family-friendly place. There are parks everywhere. These aren't exactly like parks in the U.S. It's not a small grassy area with a play structure. These parks are expansive and are fun. There's a zoo, lakes with paddle boats, amusement park rides, arts and crafts, and restaurants. There's an amazing science museum here with all kinds of interactive exhibits that kids can learn with. There's play structures and schools. There's even a holiday dedicated to celebrating children. There's a small aquarium, the IMAX theater, and the history museum. The dirty streets are overpowered by the lively street art culture here. And of course, there's the gastronomy- tacos for days.

But the real reason that I love Tijuana is that Tijuana is where the whole world comes together. I've met Haitians, Cubans, Puerto Ricans, Guatemalans, Salvadorans, American Expats, Canadians, Chinese, Japanese people, and people from all over Africa. Then of course there's Mexicans from every state in the republic and every indigenous group from Mexico. And then the Americans are further divided into groups by our areas of origin, and our reasons for emigration. Then there are the deported people who were all over the U.S. Tijuana is the real melting pot of the Americas. It boasts the title of "Most Visited City in the World", and it's easy to see why. The current political climate in the U.S. no longer lends itself to being the "melting pot" of the world. Tijuana has taken up that torch from Lady Liberty.

Not only is Tijuana this big mixture of people from all over, but they are kind to me. We are all immigrants here, from one place or another in this city. I live here, but I am not from here. Tijuana has given my family the opportunity to keep my family together. It's given my child the opportunity to go to school. It's given me a place to start my life over with minimal hassle. It's given Hector a type of freedom he never knew and helped him connect with himself and his Mexican background. I am grateful for this city, it's people and it's customs. Tijuana is such a mixture of everything: near and far, old and new, developing and modern. Tijuana is a welcoming place, even if it doesn't look like it at first. I am grateful for the city that adopted me when I was made to leave my home and was sent adrift in this world.

09 February 2017

Unnecessary Tragedy

There are children kidnapped every day, all over the world. They are taken by a non-custodial parent, another relative, a family friend, or complete strangers. We don't like to think that these things happen. We hear about them happening on the news and we think "how terrible", then we move on about our day. We get AMBER alerts on our phone, but rarely do we see the suspect car. But sometimes, there is a case that completely rocks us to our core, and changes us and our thinking. For me, it was the case of Ashley Pond and Miranda Gaddis.

Ashley on the left, Mirandaon the right
They were my age (13), lived in the next town over, and they disappeared from the school bus stop at the end of their driveway in the morning daylight. Ashley disappeared first. Miranda disappeared 6 weeks later. There were searches. They had a spot on America's Most Wanted a few times. They were both found 8 months later burried in their neighbor's yard. My parents took me to the memorial that had sprung up around the house where they were found on the police barricade. I brought a bouquet of grocery store flowers. We had to park several blocks away because there were so many people and news crews to get through. The fencing put up around the property was completely covered- no one could see through to the police working behind it. In the aftermath of that experience, I was much more careful about how I went places. I was more aware of my surroundings and even of people that I knew.  I didn't visit people's houses except for a very select few. Their faces were always in my mind, and have remained so- they are never forgotten.

For Cecilia, the case that will forever alter the course of her tiny life will be Memffis Marroquin de Leon. On November 14, 2016, ten-year-old Memffis was walking home from school in her uniform. She called to tell her mom that she was two blocks away, but she never made it. An AMBER alert went out for her, but nothing came of it. Days went by and her face showed up in every Tijuana Facebook group, in every telephone pole, and in every business front. I made her Missing Person poster my Facebook cover photo. I followed the case with obsession. As Christmas approached, I began to beg God to return her. There was a rumor that she had been seen in southern Mexico. I began to pray that maybe she was sold into the sex trade or was being held for ransom somewhere. As awful as that sounds and as traumatizing to her it would be, I was praying that she was alive and would be returned to her mother. The trail went cold, but we kept sharing her picture and her mother and the community kept looking.

On the morning of Friday, February 3rd, the badly-decomposed body of a girl matching Memffis' description was found in an abandoned lot about 2 miles from where she was last seen. She was wrapped in a garbage bag. The news was devastating to the community- but Memffis' mother kept saying that she would continue searching. However, on Tuesday, February  7th, DNA results confirmed that the body was in fact beautiful Memffis, and the continued autopsy showed that she died from asphyxiation on or around the day she disappeared and had no signs of sexual abuse. As the news came in, I felt the despair in my gut overtake me. How does a mother go on living after this? How can someone do this to a little girl?

Personally, this case is one that has completely shaken me the way that Ashley Pond and Miranda Gaddis had. I have a ten-year-old daughter, who doesn't look all that different than Memffis. The reason why Hector does not hold a job outside of the house is because I don't trust anyone with my children. Hector and I being without the children is so very rare that I don't remember the last time it happened. This horrific case has solidified my reasoning to never let Cecilia, or either of the boys, leave anywhere without a parent. We drop her off at the gate for school, and we pick her up at the gate. There's no reason for her to go anywhere without us. Visits with friends have to be supervised by one of us. We're considering homeschool for middle school for Cecilia and continuing homeschooling for the boys as well. I'm not ashamed when people accuse me of 'sheltering' my children. That's my job- to protect them. And since I know that the world is a scary place, I will do everything in my motherly capacity and power to make sure that I don't have to live the nightmare that mothers of missing or dead children live. I beg God in my prayers to never take my babies from me; to never have to bury one of my children. If God takes my child from me, I cannot stop His plan, but I won't give them up without a fight. I weep for Memffis, Ashley, and Miranda. I weep for their mothers. And I weep for this world, because there are people in it that do such things to children.

At the time of this posting, Memffis' killer(s) have not been found.

04 February 2017

52WGC|Week Five

Welcome to week four of the 52-Week Gratitude Challenge. I started this challenge for 2017 as a way to recognize the small things in my life that make it magical and worth living. Other posts can be found here.

Week five (already) invites me to think about and reflect on something someone gave me. Well, my parents win this award. They recently brought me a car. It's not a new car. It's old and has a few quirks . It's not fashionable or flashy. But it gets the job done. I get from Point A to Point B.

 Nothing beats taking a bus and a train, then a 2-mile walk in the midst
of a terrible rainstorm...
As I wrote before, my car gave out on Christmas Eve. We tried and tried to repair it. However, we have not been able to find the replacement part for it. Either they no longer make it, or the car was somehow custom built. I have been walking about 3.5 miles a day to get to work, and I've been enjoying the weight loss and I feel really good about myself. In fact, I'd keep walking if I did not get off from work so late.

...except maybe walking in the dark.
I've been dependent on my co-workers and friends for rides after work, either to the San Diego trolley  or even to the line. But I really hate depending on other people. Hector and I are very solitary people. We don't usually ask people for anything if we can help it. It's embarrassing to ask for help when I try so hard to be self-sufficient. However, the busses quit running before I get off from work. I have to ask for a ride because it's a two-mile walk in the dark otherwise.

So my parents brought me a car. They want me safe. I am insanely blessed to have parents like them. They drove all night across two entire states to bring me a way home. I don't deserve it, really. I tried to talk them out of coming. They are old and I'm old enough to buy my own car or not. But the kids of course, love being with Grandma and Grandpa. The car is a huge help so we can find the parts to fix the other car. We can get groceries. It's not a shiny car, but it's the thought put into it by the givers that makes it priceless to me.

03 February 2017

Falling Leaves in January

I am an Autumn girl. I love the cooler temperatures, the leaves of fiery red and golden yellow, and that twilight glow as the nights approach earlier and earlier. I was born in October and I grew up in an area of proper seasons. Upon moving to Tijuana, with it's semi-arid climate and lack of leafy trees, I quickly realized that autumn was not a part of life here. It seems to me that there are two seasons: summer and the rainy season. Summer is extraordinarily warm for me and my pale skin; I have to hide from the unforgiving sun as much as possible to avoid burns. The rainy season is just like summer except that it rains a couple of times and that the temperatures are a bit more tolerable.
Currently, it is the end of January. I can buy a bag of fresh citrus fruit or a flat of strawberries on any street corner in town. This is a place of a truly-endless summer. Everything is in season at almost any time. I can get any fruit or vegetable at the sobreruedas market at any time of the year. One might consider that a perk to living here, and they'd be right. But I am not a summer-loving child. Endless summer is not pleasant for me. I need the fall.

There is time when some of the trees do lose their leaves. With the massive rainstorms that we've had, there are even some naked trees along my walk to work. The colorful, but dead leaves lay scattered across the pavement. The trees themselves look alien compared to the bougainvillea vines that are in full bloom that twist up the trees and sides of buildings. The blossoming hibiscus flowers and the blue skies almost make me forget that this is winter. It's a joke that there are parts of the country where one can experience every season in a week; here in Tijuana/Southern California, I've experienced all four seasons at one time. I was walking to work and it was hailing, while there was blooming flowers and fallen leaves underfoot.

I missed my opportunity to celebrate the fall. In September and October, the weather was still hot and the leaves weren't even beginning to change. It didn't give me any urge to crochet something warm or bake or store food up. However, part of moving to a new part of the world means adapting to change. Perhaps it's time to rethink about how I celebrate the seasons. The air is cooler now. The leaves are falling down now. It is now fall- in January.

27 January 2017


It's been awhile since I did a post like this. This is really a check-in for myself. I like to look back at the things that occupied my time and mind in the past and compare it to the now. Is it still important? What's changed? What hasn't changed?

Reading: The Fiery Cross, by Diana Gabaldon. It's book number five of the Outlander Series. I found the Starz adaptation of the first book on Netflix and I was instantly hooked. So, my mom gifted me the series for Christmas.

Watching: U.S. Netflix is a little different from Mexico Netflix, but I have managed the first three seasons of Vikings. I've only seen the first few episodes, but this is a binge-worthy show.

Listening: My taste of music in general has changed very little since I was about 12 years old. I have been listening to a lot of techno and house music, since the beats make a good walking rhythm.

Making: I'm going to finish a Christmas-colored double crochet Afghan this year. Hopefully it will be done soon. There's so many more things I want to make, but this project has been one that I've put down and picked back up too many times.

Feeling: Too tired. The walking I've been doing since the cars died in Christmas has been really good for me- I've lost 15lbs. However, a 3.5 mile walk every day before an 8-hour shift is starting to wear on me. I need some good rest days.

Planning: I've got a big week coming up next week. There's a lot going to be going on at home and at work, and I'm trying to figure out how I'll handle both.

Loving: I'm totally in love with Tacos de Pescado and I want to do a blog post soon about this Tijuana street favorite.

Enjoying: Public transportation. I have always enjoyed buses and trains especially. This last month has been a real treat in it's own way. I get all of this spare time to ride around and discover new places, just on my way to work.

The last time I did a post like this I was still in Portland, living there, having yet reunited my family. The woman who wrote that post seems like a ghost almost. If I saw her, I don't think that I should recognize her. So many things are so different. But, I suppose that is the point; Everything changes, but life goes on.

25 January 2017

52WGC|Week Four

Welcome to week four of the 52-Week Gratitude Challenge. I started this challenge for 2017 as a way to recognize the small things in my life that make it magical and worth living. Other posts can be found here.

Week Four of this challenge asks me to focus on one family member that I'm thankful for. Well, I'm obviously thankful for all of these people that I share my life with. This week happens to coincide with Leo's First Birthday. I can't believe that an entire year has gone by since he flew into the world and joined our family. He's definitely made life more magical since his arrival, so I'm going to look back at his first year of life. Leo arrived after a long induction, but a quick active labor, in January 28. Hector and Cecilia were in Mexico, I was in Oregon. Our family was separated temporarily, but it was an obvious gap between us. Leo's arrival filled that right up.

When Leo was just 2-months-old, we headed home to Mexico. It was a difficult drive, but we survived and made it. Having my whole family together simply took the cake. I thought my heart would burst from joy. That is what life was supposed to be about.

Leo was a difficult baby up until very recently. He cried all of the time. He wore on our nerves. He was clingy and unhappy most of the time. Hector and I were losing our minds trying to figure Leo out. Instead of driving a wedge of contempt between us, it brought us closer as a couple and strengthened our family.

The hardest day of our lives was the day I had to return to work. I was so miserable being away from my baby. It was hot. It was lonely. The absolute worst part however, was trying to pump enough milk for his little self. We had to supplement for a little while, and that made me depressed. I had been blessed with an oversupply of milk when both Cecilia and Isaias were babies, but not this time. I had to deal with trying to pump and my feelings of inadequacy. Ouch. It was rough.

About a month or two ago, Leo began walking. He says "DaDa", "Dog", "Do-Do" (Gordo, a nickname for Isaias) and "Cece". He still does not say "Mama", but I guess I have to live with it. He likes to climb into boxes, wear scarves, and watch animated farm song videos. He thinks Cecilia is the greatest person in the world. His favorite food is fried potatoes. He has 6 teeth (4 on top and two on the bottom).

Leo has been the icing on the cake of our family since his arrival. His laugh is pure magic and his smile is like sunshine. I am so thankful he's here. Happy bithday, Hermoso Boy!