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!

20 January 2017

Looking Out, Looking In

We didn't always live by the fence. When Hector first arrived, he lived in a different neighborhood, close to the border, but not like we are now. Then he lived up on a hill, where we could look into San Diego, but it was in the distance and easily ignored. When I joined Hector here, we lived far enough into Tijuana where I didn't think about the fence at all. Now we live practically pushed up against it. When I open my front door, the fence is right there, staring me in the face. It's presence is a constant reminder of the "here" and the "there".

When Hector was first arrived in Tijuana, I was angry. I was scared. I did a lot of blaming and finger pointing, most of it directed at the United States. How dare they separate my family? How dare they take my children's father from them? What kind of government would intentionally wreck the lives of its own citizens? Every time I visited Tijuana, the fence was a hideous reminder of the life I had lost. I hated the fence, with it's hideous flood lighting illuminating midnight and seen for miles off. I hated the barbed wire, feeling like it pierced my own heart.

After moving to Tijuana, the fence became less of an issue. I began to accept that this was the life that I was going to live. The government just did what it does- millions of times in the last 8 years. The fence became less of a problem as the line to cross consumed my hatred. My job and circumstance began to fill the place that the fence had occupied. I did not look at the fence regularly, and it became a case of "out of sight, out of mind". My feelings toward my situation changed. I no longer blamed the U.S. for my situation. I blamed - and still blame- ourselves for what had happened. I can look back and see all the mistakes that Hector and I made over and over that led up to that fateful day.

But now, there it is. It looms on the bluff just above our apartment, the flood lights pouring in through the screen door. Sometimes the border patrol perches their Jeep up between the fences, and I wonder if they're watching me turning on the gas or leaving for work. They could with a good pair of binoculars. Their cameras are pointed right down the street and I wonder what they could possibly be monitoring that's so interesting. The fence gets a lot of thought, but none at all. It is just part of the scenery, but it makes you think and remember. It is almost like a public memorial. It makes me recall my journey to this exact moment, to this exact place. It makes me think about the evolution of my relationship with the it. But most of all it simply reminds me that my family is all together on one side of it. It doesn't necessarily matter which side it's on.

18 January 2017

52WGC|Week Three

Welcome to week three 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 three of the challenge invites me to focus on my family. Well, I have no issue being grateful for them and to them. My family puts up with a lot from me. I leave my house insanely early to get to work now that I am on foot. I get home insanely late. I am sometimes gone for fifteen hours a day. In that time, I leave before we spend any time together and I get home when every one is asleep. All for a job that feeds them and puts a roof over them. But that is not all there is needed in life. Life is more than food and shelter and basic needs. There are other needs that cannot be met for them while I'm working the way I do. I know this and I lived this with a mother who worked three jobs and I never saw. I wanted for nothing, except maternal affection. I know the effects that this has on a child growing up. But what else could I do in my current state? I must work, and I have to travel far to get there. Hector stays home and has to me mother and father to the kids, which is something that does not come very naturally for either of us. He has to do homeschool and shuffle kids from one activity to the next, all while maintaining a house and caring for Leo, and do it without a car. Sometimes we know we've bitten off more than we can chew, but we're already too late to back out. 

Cecilia has been the savior of us all, helping with the baby, with cooking, and with housework. I'm afraid sometimes that we'll become too dependent on her- she's still only a little girl. She wants to play dollies and visit her friends, but instead she's been having to take up a role far beyond her years. She puts Leo to sleep every night. He lights up when she enters the room. Leo has not once called me 'Mama', or anything for that matter. He says "Cece" and goes to her. He adores her and she him, but sometimes she does not want to be a pseudo-mama. She just wants to do her homework uninterrupted or hang out with her mama. Can I really fault her for that? Without her, Hector would have to put Isaias into public school. Without her, my house would probably never get clean, cars would not get worked on. Hector would probably lose his mind from being forced into a role that he never expected to take on without getting a break, a break that Cecilia's help gives him.

When I chose this life of being the main bread winner, I knew that I would have to sacrifice a lot. I knew that Hector was going to have to sacrifice a lot. I never realized how much my children were going to have to sacrifice as well. I know that I would not have chose a different life for our family- separation was not an option, but I may have been able to prepare ourselves for this kind of life a little differently. Now we're in the thick of the battles of daily life and I can only tell my family thank you, for making it possible for me to work. I can only continue to care for them from afar, putting in the hours that get me to and from my job, that physically support them. I try my best to give them love and attention on my days off, but I know it is a poor substitue for having your mother there most of the time. We are losing out on time with each other for the sake of a job. I must work so their physical needs are met. I am only sorry that their emotional needs are not, a sacrifice we are all making. 

16 January 2017

The Rainy Season

The rainy season for the San Diego area is technically the "winter" months. It rains a few times usually December through March. Tijuana is not quite the desert, but it is a drier climate than Oregon ever was. I am more acclimated to the rain and cooler temperatures than my peers. Rainy days are the contempt of most natives of this area. I, on the other hand, relish walking in the rain. The cool droplets on my face give me a small taste of home. The cooler temperatures give me a shiver, but the feeling is one of longing for a life that's passed. The rain in Tijuana is rarely the same type of rain that would fall in Oregon. The air is not as cold. The raindrops themselves feel warmer on the skin, and wearing a damp hoodie quickly becomes suffocating instead of freezing. However, the real difference between the rain here is not what it feels like, but the effect it has on the city and its people. 

The major difference is the flooding. Oregon floods, sometimes massively. The rivers and creeks often overflow into wetlands surrounding the waterway. Tijuana is almost entirely concrete. The city is a topographical mess of hills, vallies, and mesas. The streets themselves are victims of the overcrowded, urban environment: there's garbage and debris all over. Usually, it's maybe a piece here and another over there. But come any day with more than an inch of rainfall, and the landscape and pieces of junk in the road become part of a recipe for disaster. The rain washes down to the slick cemented hills headed toward the Tijuana River. The bumps and potholes that can be treacherous in dry daylight become traps for all of this semi-floating junk. All of these things act like a dam, with water filling up behind it.

I don't know if the city was designed by people who don't usually deal with rain, but many places lack any type of drainage at all. The uneven walkways and roads turn into temporary ponds, as water flowing from the hills turns into muddy waterfalls. There's no where for the trapped water to go except wait for the sun to come out and evaporate. The road remain flooded and people have to drive through it, risking car engines, hitting potholes, or splashing pedestrians. Sometimes I wonder why the city was designed like this, but then I recall that it's Tijuana- there seems no point to road design or planning. How can a city just 'deal' like this? There seems to be no urgency or need to try and remedy this problem. No one seems to mind, except that no one really goes out when it rains, save the few of us idiots that still try to go to work. For all of the work Tijuana puts into making themselves seem like a "modern" city, they should at least come up with a solution for the run off.

The rainy season is just one of those annoying things that remind me that however 'modern' Tijuana seems, that it's really not quite. Tijuana is not the U.S. no matter how close the fence is. It's easy to forget, sitting in my living room watching a movie in English, speaking English with my kids and Hector. Sometimes I forget that we're not in Oregon. And then, upon stepping outside, I'm rudely reminded of the reality of my situation. Some things are very similar, like rain. Some things are not, like rain.

12 January 2017

Resolutions 2017

Hi everyone. A couple years ago, a fellow Mexico dweller of my acquaintance started a blog hop. We started a monthly post theme, and a link up. Unfortunately, in 2016 so much life got in the way of writing for so many of us that it somewhat fizzled out. Well, it's a new year and we're resurrecting our blog hop back from the clutches of 2016. While I posted about my One Little Word for 2017 already, there are small goals that I've set for myself for this year.

1. Read a book a week, or 52 books. This is something that I am a bit loose on, seeing that I'm 10 days into 2017 and almost finished with my 3rd book. Reading has always been incredibly important to me. For a book to "count" on this list it has to have a few prerequisites. First, it has to have about 300 pages, and has to be a challenge. I prefer historical fiction, but it's not necessary. I just want to be able to read on the bus, and perhaps have the book last more than two days.

2. Write two 500-word posts per week. I love writing challenges. Once upon a time, I wrote fiction and dreamed of being a novelist. Well, my life is quite boring and the inspiration is lacking. Now I dredge through writing prompts on the internet, turning fiction prompts into blog post ideas. I like telling stories, and I want to continue to do that in 2017. I want to be confident in my own story, and feel confident in knowing that it matters.

3. Continue scrapbooking with the Project Life App. Not every story finds its home here on the blog.  My scrapbooks have traveled far with me throughout my life, and they mean very much to me. But, I don't have the time or space for piles of craft supplies. I can just print my pages at the end of the year and put them into an album. It's easier than digital scrapbooking because I don't have to mess with elements or endless .png files. And, as I really liked sharing a weekly post about my December Daily project here on the blog, I think maybe a monthly recap would be a good way to stay up-to-date.

4. Pick my crochet hook up again. This year, I'd like to pick my crochet hook up again. I have a half- finished blanket laying around, and I'd like to attempt a cowl or fingerless gloves. I really like knitting as well, but crochet is so much easier for me. I don't know if I'll be able to finish any wearables, since my experience is about level beanie, but I want to be warm come next December when I'm at work in the late evenings.

So, those are a few goals I've set for myself this year. I hope to maybe do a quarterly check-in here on the blog, simply to keep myself accountable with each of these goals. Please visit the link-up and leave your SOTB resolutions. I can't wait to see what everyone is up to.

11 January 2017

December Daily Christmas Week

This is the last post about my December Daily 2016 project. The other posts can be found here, here, and here

Welcome back for the last post in this series.It feels so good to pack this project away until next year. My work schedule around the holidays left a lot of time for the absence of any holiday cheer: the attitude in the air just lacked the normal, festive jolliness that I'm used to. Either way, here are the last layouts of the project:

December 20

Cecilia and Isaias penned letters to Santa since it became clear that we would not make it to visit him at all. I just photographed the letters, since they wrote them while I was at work. I thought it was a good way to include their handwriting in this project.

December 21

Making a gingerbread house is one of my absolute favorite traditions. We waited till the end of December to do it- our first year in Mexico we made one and it brought a plague of ants. I was nervous about that happening again, so we agreed that the gingerbread house would be kept in the fridge. And fortunately, there were no ants.

December 22

Just a page about a little tradition that my mother started for me- a 'Baby's First Christmas' ornament, and what Leo's looks like.

December 23

We had a nice day just going out to eat. 

Chistmas Eve

This page took forever to make because it turned out so awful, that I didn't want to think about everything again. But, it was made, because I think it's important to record all of life's stories, not just the happy ones.

Christmas Day

A two-part spread for Christmas Day: first a page about Christmas morning, then some nice pictures we took in the park.

Last Page

Hector wasn't really wanting to share this picture, but it's the only family photo we've taken all year. I thought it by itself was a good final page for the album. All that's left is to print out the pages and slip them into an 8x8 album. 

I'm glad to have finished another year of this project, even just digitally. I enjoy looking back through the years, seeing similarities and traditions, as well as the growth and progression of our family. This is one of my favorite projects, and I'm very glad to have shared this process with you, the reader.  

10 January 2017

52WGC|Week Two

So, welcome back to week two of the 52-Week Gratitude Challenge. I started this last week as a way to force me to think of all of the blessings in my life. The theme for week two is my Significant Other.

I know that I am terrible at making Hector feel loved and appreciated for all of the many, many things he does for me. Sometimes we argue and fight, and I think he's the bad guy. Truth be told, when we argue it's because I don't appreciate him as much as he deserves. There is absolutely no way that I could do anything that I do without his support and background help. That doesn't sound very progressive or feminist of me, but since I'm neither of those things, I'm not afraid to say that I depend on him, and that without him, I would fail at everything that I'd venture to do.

Hector and I met when I was just shy of my thirteenth birthday. I had known the very second that I laid eyes on him that he would be the most important person in my life. It seems strange to me now that a twelve-year-old child would have such a life-altering epiphany, but at the time it seemed completely normal and rational. Throughout the years, friendship budded into romance and here we are, but during those early years, Hector saved my life. He saved me from taking a path of self-destruction and misery. I may have wandered across that path a few times on my own, but I never walked along it for very long. It's much the same now. Hector saves my life quite regularly. I make terrible decisions on my own. I really have spent most of my 20s feeling completely unprepared for adult life. Hector, on the other hand, has been an 'adult' since he was about 13 years old. I can barely remember to pay bills or save a few bucks. Hector is like my personal assistant, always cautiously watching my spending and reminding me that money is not infinite.

Hector has always watched over me and protected me, even when he didn't protect himself. He always had a plan and a back up plan, in case anything went wrong. He's saved me from a million different car situations. He has turned into quite the mechanic; I've saved thousands of dollars in auto repairs over the years because Hector can do anything given the right tools and YouTube. Perhaps it is a gift that was hidden for years or he's finally found a vocation; either way, he's put me back on the road and on my way to work.

Hector gave a lot so that I could do something with my life. He has always taken the back seat and taken over domestic duties so that I could go to college or go to work. We've never had to put our kids in a daycare, because he was willing to sacrifice his freedoms and goals for them. Our mutual mistrust of everyone else drove us to that decision, but it made our family stronger.

Hector has been the one true friend in my life. Most people from jome have forgotten me here in Mexico. I don't blame them- long-distance friendships are just as difficult as long-distance relationships, and they get lost between the waves of life. Most people that I've met here in Mexico are too busy with their own lives, and I with the time spent in line or at work to try and make friends. Hector is my link between my past-life and the now. He knows everything there is to know about me, and because he's my friend, he's not afraid to tell me about my own ugliness. I appreciate that honesty, even if I don't like it. That's what true friends are for, after all.

Of all of the things that I appreciate about Hector, the intimacy between us is high on the list. It's not just physical intimacy that I could write about  (I won't), but the kind of intimacy that develops in long-term relationships. Passion fades away a bit with time. Infatuation with one's partner also dims. What is left is a deep understanding of the other person, knowing their soul and thoughts with just one look. I complain of a deep and profound loneliness when I go to work. As much as I joke and laugh with my co-workers, I can never be my true, uninhibited self with them. I must always watch my mouth, afraid to offend or say something that could turn into office gossip. With Hector, there is no need to hide myself. Every joke is an inside joke- we understand each other completely without words. There's something very fulfilling just sitting next to your person on the couch, just watching a movie. A million words are spoken in the silence: that is the greatest gift to give one's spouse.
Hector is my husband, my counselor, my mechanic, my protector, my banker and my best friend. He's the lighthouse guiding me on my journey through this world. He's the rock that I use to steady myself on this planet. In Emily Brontë's work "Wuthering Heights" Catherine speaks of her love for Heathcliff: ...My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary..."  He and I are the same, blended into each other by time and experience. How could one not be grateful to have that in this life? I am eternally grateful that the Lord has given me such a man to love in this life, and that he continues to love me in return.

03 January 2017

52-Week Gratitude Challenge|Week One: Why?

Hi! I found this challenge on Pinterest and decided to incorporate it into my blogging calendar for the upcoming year!

I am an over-dramatic psycho most of the time. If anything deviates from the perfectly planned outline in my brain it throws me into an unhealthy obsession with doom and despair. I sulk away into a self created cave of misery, languishing over how everything is ruined, even if the end result is unchanged. I work myself into a frenzy of stress, reaching the point where it has physical effects on me. I get headaches and my blood pressure shoots sky-high.

Not only does this turmoil affect me- it affects my family as well. As I contemplate how my family for some unknown reason cannot read my mind, the stress makes me short-tempered and I usually blame everyone around me for everything that is not "just right". I don't see the cool Lego whatever that Isaias made; I see my homeschool room a mess. I don't see the help that Cecilia gives; I see my house a mess. These are qualities of my personality that I do not like. My entire life I wanted people to see my accomplishments, but only my failures shine through enough to be remembered. I do not want that for my kids. My obsession with perfection wears on their personalities and self-esteem. I can see it in their behaviors- little bouts of ungratefulness that could only have resulted because of a learned behavior. I can bear the stress of my obsessive brain, but I cannot bear the misery it causes my family.

I don't know if I've always been kind of ungrateful or if I simply did not recognize it. Everything in my formative years was handed to me. I never wanted for anything- not just necessities, but wants as well. I went to decent schools that I complained about loudly, to anyone that would listen. I always had opportunities open to me, and most of them remained ignored. Perhaps I thought that Hector and I were going to get papers no problem, but Mexico was never a thought of mine. Now sitting in our house here, I complain a lot. I complain about the kitchen and it's lack of counters. I complain about the thin walls and uneven floors. I complain about the leaky roof. Hector usually puts me in my place here in reality, but eventually I'm right back to complaining about something new.

For 2017, my intention is to invite magic and enchantment into my life. To do this, I need to start by recognizing the things that are already magical and enchanting in my day to day. I need to focus less on the brushstrokes, but stand back and see the entire painting. I need to thank God for his goodness, even when it's not very easy to see. So, to do this, I will focus on being grateful for one thing a week throughout the year. Maybe it will help me transfor this ugly personality trait of mine into something beautiful that promotes health and healing to myself and the people around me.
If you want to join in with this challenge for 2017, leave the link below in the comments section. I look forward to reading what you are grateful for.

01 January 2017

One Little Word 2017

Every year, I select one word to guide my actions and thoughts for the upcoming year. This is based off of Ali Edward's One Little Word concept. I've done this for 8 years now, and it's amazing to see where my One Little Word takes me each year. 

In 2009, my very frst One Little Word was downsize. It meant to be a word to help motivate me to lose weight, but I ended up downsizing the amount of toxic people in my life. In 2010, my word was pray. Hector and I suffered two miscarriages in 2009, and I was praying for a baby. That baby came in 2010 as my Isaias. In 2011, my word was learn. I wanted more knowledge. Instead, Hector got deported and I had to learn to be an adult, a single parent, and how to function without him. In 2012, my word was shine. I wanted to polish myself, learn who I was, and shine. I did find some of the light inside of me. In 2013, my word was adventure. I was going to move to Mexico. But I backed out at the last minute, terrified. In 2014, my word was brave and I accomplished my goal of getting my butt to Mexico. 2015 started out with some hard times, so my word was humble. This word changed my life because it allowed me to learn to find God.

My word for 2016 was small. I now see life as a series of small actions, each with the opportunity to be done with great love. It's exhausting to do big things and give them your all, but I can do the small important things.

2016 was a rough year, not only culturally, but personally as well. Leo joined our family and we returned to Mexico. I returned to work. We not only had to adjust to having a new baby, but also to being a family. Leo was a HIGH needs baby, which is enough to make you feel like a terrible parent. Cecilia had a rough time while I was in Oregon, then when I've come back a lot of the "helping" falls on her. It seems like we've been plagued with car troubles, with something always going on. We haven't been able to get ahead. I've lost any time I've had for my old hobbies, or even just self renewal. My introverted self is screaming out from inside of me, begging me for some self-care. The world has been full of wars, martyrdom, corrupt politicians, and is very depressing.

My word for 2017 is MAGIC.

I was drawn to this word about a month ago after reading a book from the fantasy genre. There's magic in this world to be sure, but I don't take time to look. I'm not converting to Wicca or taking up witchcraft by any means. I need that  light-up-your-life, wish-on-a- falling-star, chase-dragonflies, get-lost-in-a-book kind of magic.
To invite more magic into my life, I'm starting with advice from Professor Dumbledore: "Words re, in my not humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic". Starting now in January, I want to write more. My goal is two 500-word posts here on this blog, each week throughout the year, starting with this post. This blog was the unfortunate victim of my exhaustion  in 2016, and I hope to remedy that this year. I also hope to be giving monthly updates as to how magic and I are getting on.

What plans do you have for 2017? How do you find magic in your everyday life?