Simply Complicated
16th July
2015
written by Michelle

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I wrote this post a few months ago, but like a lot of things in my life right now, I never finished it. It seems appropriate for today as my little one sleeps upstairs, the sun is just peaking up over the side of the volcano and I’m walking out the door for another long day way.

. . .

Last week I sat at the gas station before heading out for my 90-minute commute. I live in a country where they pump your gas for you, so I had time to send a quick email to a few close friends:

“I have to work 10-hour days this week and I am leaving Elena for the whole time. It feels hard and long. Would appreciate your prayers and good thoughts for this anxious-mama. Thanks!”

I second-guessed it as I wrote it. It sounds silly. Lots of moms leave their toddlers for work or a weekend away, I rationalized to myself. This was not anything special or serious. There was no pending phone call from a doctor or serious health concern. Why am I sending this? I should just go.

I ignored the should’ves and tapped “send.”

. . .

Gerber and I live in Guatemala, where I usually work part-time at an office, 5 kilometers from our house.  I leave my 19-month-old little girl in good hands each morning and my mama’s heart rests assured that I could rush home in a moments notice if I needed to. But this felt different. I would be 90-minutes away on bumpy, dirt roads that make it impossible to speed back in the case of an emergency.

 

I had just stopped naptime nursing the week prior, knowing that I would be away everyday this week. I had called two local friends with cars and asked them to be on call if our sitter needed anything, you know, like a ride to the HOSPITAL?! When you live in a country without reliable ambulances and emergency rooms you think about these things.

. . .

A few hours later my phone buzzed with kind responses to my panicked email. From their living room floors and kitchens and stolen moments in the bathroom, my friends responded. They emailed, they prayed, and they checked-up on me throughout the week.  There wasn’t much they could physically do because we were separated by time zones and country lines, but somehow knowing that they were thinking of us, made me feel less alone.

In motherhood and in life, you can’t qualify or quantify feelings. What’s scary and hard for one mama, may be a breeze for another. Motherhood leaves no rooms for comparison. Just like the small humans we care for, us moms have unique personalities and different struggles. Here’s the way my mom explained it to me once, Michelle everyone needs help, we just need help with different things.

I am big believer in asking for help; from dear friends, from a therapist, from my own mom and sometimes yes, still occasionally from Google.  In no other time in my life have I felt the need to ask for help as much as in this season of motherhood. And I imagine you may feel the same way?

Is it hard? Heck, yes. Does it feel vulnerable? Always. Does it mean ignoring the voices that say, “c’mon that’s silly, no one needs helps with that?” Yep!

But the results are real. Connection. Support. Love. Wisdom.

Maybe sometimes that’s the power in asking for help; it lets someone else in. It acknowledges that I can’t do this alone; I am not super woman or super anything. I am human, I am a mom and I need help.

. . .

In case you were wondering, the week went well. My daughter did fine, I did fine and thankfully there were no trips to the emergency room.  I came home on Friday afternoon to a lovely scribbled drawing that my daughter and our babysitter did. You’ll see she asked our sitter to draw an airplane (which she loves) and her mama and dada (who I am sure she missed) and if you look very, very closely, you’ll see the mama has two little dots on her. Oh yes, those are my “chiche” (pronounced “chee-chay” in Spanish and loosely translates to “boobies”) So yes, she must have missed those as well.

In fact, I will probably send my dear friends a separate email in a few months, asking for help when I am trying to wean her.

1st June
2015
written by Michelle

 

Hi! It’s been awhile since I’ve done one of the posts and I had so much fun putting this one together. Some good stuff for summer and traveling with little ones and some of my favorite links around the web. Plus, a few healthy recipes for the kitchen and some of my other favorite things:

On The Road: Traveling with a Toddler

We spent most of April traveling with a toddler. I mean we spent hours in the car and stayed in different people’s homes every few nights. We attempted eating at restaurants and waited in airports for flight delays. It was wonderful, and really exhausting.

Best kid-friendly iPad caseMy mom got us this traveling kid-friendly iPad case which velcros to the back of your seat for the perfect movie watching set-up. And older kiddos can hold on to easily because of the “grips” on the back for playing games or with apps. Obviously, you know, that we primarily used it to watch Frozen 17 times a day. Thank you, Disney for brainwashing my almost 2 year old.

Invisible coloring book + Marker: When Elena wasn’t watching Frozen, she was coloring. My sister, who is a preschool teacher, is always thinking of the most thoughtful gifts. The best thing about this is that 1) no markers stains on their hands, the rental car or you! and 2) little ones who are still learning how to hold a maker can actually do it because the “colors” just appear when you scribble. Win all around, Elena got the Frozen one but they have lots of other options, Nemo, Thomas the Train and Doc McStuffins. I wish we had more because this is seriously the easiest thing to pull out while waiting at restaurants.

Smallest, cheapest bath time entertainment: I had to google these because I don’t really know what they’re called. I remember playing with them has a kid though. I call them, “sponge animals” I think amazon calls them grow capsules. Either way best $5.50 you can spend for your next trip. They’re super tiny and so easy to pack, but kids find them mesmerizing. Perfect bathtub entertainment especially because we were in different people’s homes every night and i was not about to bring any bath toys. We plopped one of these little guys in the tub and Elena watched it “open.” We still bring some of the ones who made back with us into the bath every night.

No-Spill Bubbles: I’ve mentioned these before, but they are seriously the best bubbles we’ve found, because little hands can do it all. by. themselves. which we all know is so much more fun than us holding the precious bubble container or worse, them holding it and us saying “now be careful, be careful, don’t spill the bubbles” on repeat. Ahhh. NO more. Seriously, these are amazing. And you can refill it anytime.

In the Kitchen

My parents had the Coolest garlic peel remover and my mom sent me home with one! No more stinky garlicky fingers.

Green Soup: I posted this pic on instagram and got lots of questions about this green soup. My friend Laura posted the recipe for Broccoli-Cheese Spinach Soup, but in our house we just call it green soup. What I love is you can really add ANY vegetable in there, cause it all gets blended up. And you add as much or little cheese as you want – depending on your preferred level of cheesy-ness.

These zucchini muffins + mini chocolate chips. You guys know me I totally altered this a bit and used what we had on hand and threw in some shredded carrots, too. Do you see my cooking strategy…throw in extra veggies or chocolate chips when in doubt?! :)

I still make this Spinach-Basil Pesto almost weekly because its the only way Elena eats broccoli and Gerber and I love it too.

Have you heard of Chia seeds?! Here they’re called “chan” (rhymes with shaun”) and Elena likes to poor them her our smoothies. They get blended up and you can’t even see or taste them, especially if you make any kind of berry smoothie. They are loaded with omega-3s and protein and all those good minerals like magnesium and iron. I get ours at the local mercado, but if I could I would order these. I always feel good that when Elena only eats pasta and Cheerios the rest of the day, at least we’ve got some healthy stuff in her system from our morning smoothie!

On the web

This post from The Toast is one of the most beautiful and poignant pieces on bicultural identity. Of course it makes me think of my little girl and I try to imagine if she writes an essay in 20 years, what will she say?

Have you ever wondered how to explain privilege: These comics do an excellent job.

The is one of the best posts’ by my friend Anna, about debunking the motherhood myth that you can have it all.

I also loved this post by my friend Ashlee because I am SUPER interested in trying a capsule wardrobe. Although we don’t really have seasons in Guatemala so I think I’d have to make some adjustments.

In this post, Do Kids See Color? Cara shares how she is “not passionate about racial equality because [she] married a black man [but she is] passionate about racial equality because [she is ] passionate about human beings.”

Along the same lines, this was a super interesting (and very long) piece from the nymag about racism, education, and asking if racism be stopped by third grade? 

The founder of The Root Collective, Bethany Tran, makes me want to be a more conscious consumer with her piece, Where It Was Made MattersYou know how much it cost you, but do you know how much it cost the person who made it?” 

Also, I loved this video about how cities are making us sick. For anyone who cares about city planning and development and health this is a must watch.

On The Kindle

First, did you now most library have an online check out site? My expat and international friends you will love this. I go to my local Santa Barbara library website and type in my library card # (you have to already have a library card) and then I can search the available titles, and “check them out” for 3 weeks electrically. Then book appears in my kindle, just like magic. The only bad thing it also disappears in 3 weeks like magic even if I’m not done with it.

For book club, All the Light That Was Not Lost

For me, Raising your Spirited Child

Making my way though, Jesus Feminist and Misreading Scripture With Western Eyes

I really miss reading real books, like holding it in my hand underlining with a pen, folding corners, etc. Reading is interactive for me…but I won’t complain, the ease and convenience of being able to download any book, anytime is not lost on me. I can’t imagine living overseas away from book stores and internet even 10 years ago.

On Netflix 

Parenthood: ok we’re only on season two and it’s just taken us a while to get into it. Does it get better? Gerber describes it as emotionally overwhelming. I just smile, and am like welcome, to white-upper-middle-class American life.

We watched The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and loved it. Just funny, cute and easy to watch.

We watched Wild. Didn’t love it…or hate it. But I bet the book is better.

We are making our way through movies that got nominated for Oscars. We’re like a year behind. But, still. We watched Imitation Game on the plane. Two thumbs up. Next up on our list is, Selma and American Sniper.

On My Wishlist

Do you ever keep a personal wish list? Since we try to keep a budget and only buy things that fall more into the  the needs list than wants, sometimes I make a virtual wish list. It’s kinda like fantasy football, but only fantasy shopping. I click and save and imagine how well all the players…I mean, pieces would look together :)

One of these Made by Mary gold bar necklaces. I think I would get the word amor. What about you?

Cup of Jo posted about this nail polish and I love that it seems simple, versatile and one coat is enough!

I’m in love with these SonnetJames dresses.  This one and this one are my favorite and I have heard wonderful reviews of these sandals. So cute and comfy for summer, right?

I’ve been in the market for some kind of brown leather purse/bag that is big enough to hold my laptop when I go to work, and can also just be a cute purse with a few toddler essentials thrown in. Any ideas? We’ve been done with the diaper bag for while now, but somehow I have ended-up just carrying around Elena’s monkey backpack all.the.time. Not anymore. Mama wants a real purse. Maybe I can gift myself one for her birthday? You know like my 2-year becoming a mother anniversary gift? Is that a thing??? I may just start it.

What have you been into recently? And favorites I should know about? Do share!

Linking up with the lovely Leigh Kramer.

*Affilante Link Disclosure: When you click on some of the links and buy something, it means I get a teensy tiny percentage that supports my coffee fund or maybe even a wishlist purchase.*

 

27th May
2015
written by Michelle

 

On Monday my mom posted this photo of my Grandfather in honor of Memorial Day. I knew that he had served in WWII, but I had never paid much attention to the dates. He left for Europe, less than year after he and my grandmother has been married. It’s […] Continue Reading…

30th April
2015
written by Michelle

When we were in the states a few weeks ago, a sweet mom, whose own kids are earning drivers’ licenses’ and college degrees, pulled me aside one afternoon after seeing how much Elena talked about “Frozen.” (which she affectionately calls, “Oafen” and may or may not have watched a total […] Continue Reading…

14th March
2015
written by Michelle

 

 

Last December as we cruised down 101 freeway, enjoying the rare moment with Elena asleep in her car seat and one of not signing wheels-on-the-bus, I started talking. Gerber drove and started listening. A usual pattern we find ourselves in; the talker and the listener.

I want to write more, I […] Continue Reading…

20th February
2015
written by Michelle

This one has been in my draft box for-ever. In fact, I would be embarrassed if you knew how many half-started  blog posts are sitting in my draft box right now. (ahem. maybe close to a 100). I figured maybe part of my goal for the year should be to publish some […] Continue Reading…

19th February
2015
written by Michelle

Sometimes it’s hard to write about things when you’re in the middle of it, like with marriage. I haven’t written much about our marriage recently because well…one, it’s not just my story to tell. Even though I am more of an open book and will gladly share what I’ve […] Continue Reading…

3rd February
2015
written by Michelle

I am so excited to be guest posting today over at Rachel Pieh Jones’ blog. I kind of think of Rachel as an expert in cross-cultural living, mothering & writing as an expat living in Djibouti. And if we’re ever in the same country I would jump on the chance to grab […] Continue Reading…

19th January
2015
written by Michelle

 

Yikes. It’s January 19th. My computer tells me I started this draft on January 6th– so, here we are 13 days later.

I remember well in my years before moving to Guatemala and becoming a mom that I would carve out a few hours at the end of each year […] Continue Reading…

3rd January
2015
written by Michelle

 On Monday night we boarded a redeye flight from California to Guatemala. We’ve done this numerous times before, the difference being this time the little baby we thought would sleep was wide awake. We sat on the runway for a while before being giving the clear to take off. […] Continue Reading…

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