Archive for the ‘Cultural Differences’ Category

Beautiful Imperfections

Right now, life is messy.  Right now, life is hectic and full.

  • Potty training two-year-olds is no easy feat.  
  • There are never-ending crumbs under the kitchen table no matter how often I sweep.mess4
  • Toys, clothes or shoes litter the floors of nearly every room in my home.mess2
  • My eight-year-old daughter refuses to do her homework.20170118_grumpy-morning-mica
  • My husband requires way more attention than I’m able to give him.me-and-amor
  • I fell off my diet 10 times this week.

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Life is a mess.  But it’s such a beautiful mess.  One day, I’ll look back on these days and laugh and cry at the same time, remembering how incredibly blessed I am.

Maybe when they’re teenagers, maybe when they’re grown, I’ll remember these moments of our lives and I’ll see:

  • The same pride in the twins eyes when they receive their high school diplomas as they have right now when they make it to the bathroom in time,twins-and-micaela-playing
  • A clean kitchen and remember how much fun we used to have around that table,micaela-kitchen-table-in-the-backgroundbrooks-and-bella-kitchen-table-fun
  • A pristine, robot-vacuumed floor and pray for grandchildren soon,
    robot-vacuum-cleaner

    By that time everyone, even I, will have a Roomba!

     

  • The creativity of a beautiful young woman of God, who sees the values in free time and enjoying life,20170117_mommy-belle-and-micaela-beautiful
  • Amor and I dating again, getting to know each other all over again for who we are at that time,me-and-amor1
  • In the mirror, a wise, beautiful and soulful reflection,mommy-belle-profile-picture

Sometimes the messiest moments in life are the most perfect of all.

(Written Jan 15, 2017 – Twins 2, Mica 8, Hope 7, Rain NB)

Double Talk Quote: Me to Brooks:  “What do you have in your mouth?”  Brooks to Me:  “umm…cookies.”  Me to Brooks:  “Where did you get them?”  Brooks to Me:  “umm…my mouth.”

Bible Verse: “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” 1 Peter 5:10

Word that has Lost its meaning: perfectionism

Relatable Lyrics:  “All Of Me” by John Legend

“How many times do I have to tell you
Even when you’re crying you’re beautiful too
The world is beating you down, I’m around through every mood

‘Cause all of me Loves all of you….All your perfect imperfections”

Letters of Support

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For the past few months, I’ve been vigorously working on my husband’s immigration case. It involved a lot of writing, office type work, obtaining and making copies of records, and gathering information.  None of it was easy.  But the hardest thing for me was asking for what’s known as “Letters of Support,” which basically vouch that Amor is a good, decent person and upstanding member of society.  I have social anxiety (along with Bipolar Disorder) and for so long, Amor and I have kept his immigration status hush-hush.   Now, however, we had to come out of the shadows (so to speak) and admit the truth to friends and family that (gasp & shame, shame!) my husband entered this country illegally.  He was 16 years old when his brothers first brought him here and he has built his entire adult life in the US.

It was stressful and nerve-wracking for me to announce this and ask for help. But it had to be done, as part of the petition process.  So, I wrote down a list of 25 names of friends, family, and acquaintances.  It was scary to me to think of contacting these people without knowing their political stance or possible prejudices regarding this touchy issue.  But I took several deep breaths, and said a few prayers and started contacting.

The response I received was shocking.  Our community of friends and family were more than willing to help us file by writing for us.  In all, I collected 20 notarized letters!  I saw how kind and generous these people were to take time out of their own hectic lives to invest in ours.  They had to actually sit down and think about me, Amor and our kids, construct the letter, then go get it notarized.  A few of these people, I know had physical health issues.  One had a newborn baby.  Another person is a dear friend whom we haven’t physically seen in over a decade, but we’ve kept in touch via social media.  Yet another had problems getting the statement notarized because her identification was expired but she made it happen!  Each person went out of their way to help us.

I read each letter as they trickled in.  Each one with optimistic affirmations about us and our family.  After gathering them all, I sat down and re-read them.  It wasn’t just the quantity that astounded me, but the quality as well.  These people wrote from their hearts. I know we are in their prayers. Tears of gratitude trickled down my face.

Our case has since been put on hold, for now, anyway.  But we have our paperwork ready at a moment’s notice.  Now, whenever our attorney says to submit, we will be ready and able to move forward.  Thank you, so much for those of you who helped us.  We love and appreciate you all.

(July 2016, Twins 2, Mica 8, Hope 7)

Double Talk Quote:  Amor – “I’m too smart for that show” (Ruff Ruff, Tweet and Dave).  Me – “That’s why I watch Curious George.”
Bible Verse:  “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:4
Term that has Earned its meaning:  true friendship
Relatable Lyrics:  Lean On Me by Bill Withers

“If there is a load you have to bear, that you can’t carry, I’m right up the road, I’ll share your load if you just call me, if you need a friend…We all need somebody to lean on.”

Five Under Five

Los Tornados 2

Los Tornados – Leti’s three

 

It was January 2011.  It had literally been days since my father passed away when I learned that my sister-in-law, Leti, had been assaulted by her significant other, again.  Amor made the four hour trip to pick her and her three children (ages 4, 2, and 8 months) up.  The trip back to our home was much longer, as there was a throw up incident on the way, (which ruined the portable DVD player).  Mica was 2 at the time and I was used to caring for her and Hope, who was 1.  I was pretty used to keeping things like toys organized, categorized, and rotated.  But with the addition of three toddler/preschoolers (who only spoke and understood Spanish) all that went to Hades in a hand basket.

Los Tornados 3

Mica & Hope

It was freezing outside so we were cooped up most days with five kids under the age of five inside our small, three bedroom home.  For the first few weeks, Leti spent time cooking and hanging around the house, catching up with her sister (my other sister-in-law), Tia.  All the while, the kids ran wild.  It was a madhouse and I was certainly not used to that kind of chaos.  With Mica and Hope, I had a relaxed routine, which involved eating meals at regular times, scheduled activities, and playtime – my biggest rule being:  put one set of toys away before bringing out a new set.

But these new kids had absolutely no concept of that rule.  And all kind of “Travesuras” (or mischief) ensued.  Destruction was everywhere.  They would pull toys and clothes out of drawers or off shelves and throw them everywhere, without even looking at them!  The walls were colored on, play dough was smushed into the carpet, crumbs on the floor, poop all over the place, nick-knacks broken, stuffed animals’ heads ripped clean off, even electronics destroyed (you wouldn’t believe the toys I found stuffed in the VCR).  I learned that keeping scissors in the van for emergencies was a bad idea too, when one of the seat belts was cut right in half! Leti’s idea of cleaning was foreign to me as well.  I would sometimes come out in the mornings to find the house looking so neat and clean, only to find that everything had been thrown in one big box.  All the puzzle pieces were mixed in together, along with blocks, socks, and rocks.  It’s funny that with all that destruction, my biggest pet peeve was the brand new markers Mica had gotten for Christmas that were thrown in the mix, with the lids off them, all dried out and useless. Leti, herself, nicknamed the brood “Los Tornados.”

Leti eventually found a job for a while, which left me the primary caretaker of the babes.  It took all my imagination to keep them entertained and from going stir-crazy in that house mid-winter.  I turned the living room into a gymnastic play area, with places for them to jump, roll, and tumble.  I turned my bedroom into a dance zone, with disco lights and high-energy Veggie Tales music.  Mica’s room was toy city.  The kitchen table became an arts and craft zone.

I ended up having so much fun with those little ones.  I fell in love with them.  Any time they started to drive me a little crazy, I just looked at the magazine cut-out I had stuck on the wall after one of our craft projects that said, “Jesus Loves the Little Children.”  It was amazing to me that I was able to handle that, even though they only stayed with us for a few months.  I guess God was preparing my heart for what was to come, and at the same time offering a beautiful distraction from the devastation of daddy’s death.

I never imagined that I would one day have my own little brood of “Earthquakers,” but now that I do, I feel blessed beyond belief, regardless of any “travesuras” they come up with.  As always I pray for blessing, protection, and salvation for each of those little ones.  I love you all so much and you’ll be in my heart forever.

Los Tornados 1Los Tornados 7 - Belle, Stephani, EdwinLos Tornados 9 - Edwin dylanLos Tornados 12 - mica grace

Double Talk Quote:  “¿Quieres jugar conmigo?” – Mica, who at the time had not been formally taught Spanish, but picked it up from her cousins.

Verse: Matthew 19:14:  Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

Term that had lost its meaning: organized

Relatable Lyrics:  Veggie Tales: “My Day

“In my bed I start to pray
And tell God all about my day…I had some trouble sharing toys
And during rest time, made some noise
The walls are not for coloring….In my bed so quietly
I rest in knowing
God loves me”

Things I Love About My Husband

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  • He has a loving heart
  • He is generous
  • He knows what kind of food to order me from any restaurant in the city, right down to what veggies to add and what sauces to leave off
  • He maintains our vehicles
  • He fills up the gas tank, because he knows it helps me
  • He makes me feel good about my body
  • He tells me I’m beautiful
  • He’s a good dad
  • He loves God
  • He takes out the trash
  • He does his own laundry
  • He enjoys driving (which I hate doing)
  • He’s a good negotiator
  • He’s a good tipper
  • He doesn’t get grossed out by baby vomit, runny noses or dirty diapers
  • He’s extremely smart
  • He’s very creative
  • He sees possibilities in the seemingly impossible
  • He makes sure we always have plenty of coffee
  • He wants to teach our kids the Bible
  • He enjoys helping other people
  • He makes others feel accepted
  • He values family

“We Were On A Break!”

we were on a break

Remember the “Friends” saga when Ross and Rachel took “a break” and before she would take him back she wrote him a 18 page front and back letter to explain her feelings and her terms?  Needless to say, he didn’t read it, simply agreeing to whatever it said; anything to get her back.  Of course by the time he finally took the time to realize what she had to say, he didn’t agree and the relationship fell apart (again).

A few days before Christmas, my husband decided that he needed a break.  Tensions had been building in our relationship for a long time.  (And The Rain Came Down was written 9/30/2014 and alludes to troubles dating back even further than that) The past few months have been particularly rocky.  He wouldn’t say where he was going or for how long he’d be gone.    During this time, I was understandably upset, yet, I finally felt I could breathe.  The pit in my stomach dissipated.  The stress was momentarily lifted.  He ended up being gone for only two nights.  Maybe that was enough “break” for him, but I needed more time.  I told him he could stay on couch until we got things worked out.  I wrote him a letter and at the end I made a list of what needed to be done in order to end our break.    After angrily skimming the letter he started checking off items, items that had not been, and cannot be accomplished in one day.  I realized that I had pulled a “Rachel” and he, a “Ross.”

Both my husband and I are Christians and believe in the sanctity of marriage.  We have been in couples therapy for a while.  But there’s a pattern with us that I can see clearly now.  I won’t delve into detail but I will say that it is not a good pattern.  There’s peace and then tension, a building struggle, a breaking point, a blanket apology, and a honeymoon phase.  I don’t know if this can be fixed.

I hate to think of my children growing up in a broken home.  But what I hate worse is the thought of them growing up in an intact home with a broken mother.

Again, prayers appreciated.

Double Talk quote:  “I like being irrational.” – Amor

Bible Verses:  “It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife.”  Proverbs 21:9

Word that has Lost its meaning: listen

Relatable Lyrics:  “Family Portrait” – P!nk

“In our family portrait we look pretty happy
We look pretty normal, let’s go back to that
Let’s play pretend, act like it goes naturally ”

(Twins 18 months, Mica 7)

2015-04-06 10.16.50

 

Crash & Burn

The cat and the hat falling

“So how much sleep have you been getting lately?” asked my counselor.  “On average about four hours a night,” I replied.  “You can’t keep going like that, can you?  How do you see this resolving itself?”  “I’m hoping it will just even out and I’ll ease down from being manic into stable.”  (Anyone reading who has bipolar disorder, knows someone with bipolar disorder or knows anything about bipolar disorder, you can laugh out loud here).

I take mood stabilizers and medication that is supposed to help me sleep.  But when I become manic, my brain tends to fight with those medications.  It’s like it overrides them or something.  The meds do some good (four hours is better than no sleep at all), but they aren’t powerful enough to stop my brain train.

I’ve been this way, my conscious self fighting with my subconscious self to sleep, for a few weeks.  I was having other manic symptoms, but all were relatively manageable.  But the tension was building.  Money issues, problems with my daughter’s school work, babies throwing tantrums, keeping up with daily tasks, when the days run into each other; these are all difficult things to manage.  Then there’s my husband.  He is a character.  I love him.  But I’m not convinced he’s not trying to kill me (oh, the stress).

The straw that broke the camel’s back:  sickness.  I don’t know if my body was just too weary to fight it off or if my brain was just to exhausted to keep trying, but I got sick, very, very, sick.  I was in bed in excruciating pain for several days.  It started Sunday night, mid-fight with Amor.  I suffered through to Tuesday night but then I became bed-ridden, until Friday morning.  During that time, my mom bought flowers, and she and my sisters took care of my little ones.  Amor “did his own thing.”  I wondered if this is how it would be if I died.  That made me cry.

One doesn’t usually ease back into a state of normalcy after being manic.  There’s usually a big crash into depression.  At least being sick gave my body a chance to stop and get healthy and actually sleep.  Hopefully it was a blessing in disguise and I won’t sink down low. I want to celebrate Christmas and rejoice with my little ones and see the look on their faces in wonderment.  I want to and I will.  I will not let anyone take that away from me.

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Double Talk Quote: “The only reason I’m still here is because I am a responsible person.” – Amor

Bible Verse: “The thief (Satan) comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10

Term that has Lost its meaning: loving marriage

Relatable Lyrics:  “Stomp” by Kirk Franklin

“Lately I’ve been going through some things that’ve really brought me down.  I needs someone, somebody to help me come and turn my life around… Jesus, Your love is so amazing.”

Just In Time

paperwork

Just In Time:  To Avert a Financial Crisis

Over eight years ago, Amor and I became debt-free and we made a pact never to use credit again, unless it was to purchase a house.  We kept that promise, for the most part, until six months ago when my van (that I use to transport the kids) needed maintenance that we couldn’t afford.  The interest-free credit card (as long as you pay within a certain time frame) was too juicy an offer for Amor to refuse, so despite my objections, he fixed it up.  “You want a van to drive, that’s in working order, don’t you?”  Yes, yes, I did.  Around that time, he also borrowed a large sum of cash from a friend for  lawn equipment, in the hopes that he could work part time doing yards and bring in a decent income.

In just this past month, Amor and I have racked up thousands of dollars of debt to family and friends.  We paid off the car repair loan, just in time.  But not the “lawn friend loan.”  And then…

  1. The lawn mower broke.  We had to pay the repair man just to tell us that it would cost more to fix it than it would to buy a new one.  Not only is this an added expense, this has severely impacted our income.
  2. Amor’s work van didn’t pass inspection, so we spent a ton of cash to try to get a waiver, only to have it brake down completely.  Again, we paid the repair man just to tell us that to get it fixed costs far more than its value.
  3. My van started running hot, and we discovered that the radiator and water pump were shot.  It also needed all new tires.
  4. The deadline to file some paperwork for Amor’s immigration case is almost upon us.  (We just found out, it had to be filed within a certain time frame).  The filing fees for the paperwork plus attorney’s payment, plus other fees and expenses for necessary items (such as passports for me and the kids) add up to thousands of dollars!
  5. My computer crashed.  We rebuilt it from its original disks, but it’s missing programs that I need that are expensive and it needs a new battery.

I always pray for God to keep things running smoothly.  But naturally speaking, things are bound to break.  Due to normal wear and tear, these things that need fixing should have broken down long ago.  I believe God has supernaturally kept them running, until a time when we could afford for them to break.

This month, if all goes well, I should be getting an inheritance, one that has been a long time coming; over 11 years to be exact.  It’s no fortune, but hopefully, (prayerfully), after tithing, it will be enough to cover these costs and get us back on our feet, with a place of our own.

Dear God, thank you for your provision.  I believe that you know what we need before we do and will give us favor.  Help us to use what we earn and what are given wisely.  I praise you and thank you, Father, Amen.

(Written Nov 3-5, 2015, Twins 16 months)

Double Talk Quote:  Distracted:  “You’ve got to put your shoes on first, before you put on your socks” – me (other way around, mommy!)

Bible Verse: Luke 12:24 & 27 -Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!  Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

Term that has Lost its meaning:  done deal

Relatable Lyrics:  Counting Stars by OneRepublic

“Lately, I’ve been, I’ve been losing sleep
Dreaming about the things that we could be
But baby, I’ve been, I’ve been praying hard,
Said, no more counting dollars
We’ll be counting stars, yeah we’ll be counting stars”

 

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