Neither Here, Nor There

21st August
written by Michelle


My Dear Blog,

Hi, it’s been awhile. I mean I know I have written a few posts this past year about Not Hiding Elsa and letting Expectations Melt Away, but overall my posts have been rather sparse. Maybe once a month, maybe. I start drafts and don’t finish them. I stare at the white screen and type nothing. My daughter is sleeping better than ever before but I am writing less. I have been stuck. I analyze the words in my head before I write them. Which is the worst thing you can do as a writer. I know this. I have had so many things I have wanted to write important about: thoughts about being Pro-woman and why I whole heartedly support #Blacklivesmatters. I have wanted to write about race and privilege and my life in Guatemala where as a light-skinned foreigner I am often treated better than my dark-skinned husband who in his own country.

I have wanted to write about the gift of friendships recently and how I dream of writing a children’s book. I have wanted to tell you how wonderful my parents are and how they both came to visit this summer because they love being grandparents. I have wanted to write about how Elena is almost potty trained (!!!) but still nursing and once again I continue to let go of expectations about motherhood. I have wanted to write more about our bicultural marriage and how some days I still can’t believe that I have been living here for over 5 years. I have wanted to write about the prayer I say most nights at dinner and how I am learning to really listen to others,  but also to myself. I want to write about what I am hoping to teach my daughter about the art of awareness and the profound mystery of God and importance of rest.

I have wanted to write about random things like the my favorite birthday gifts for toddlers and how I have found the best natural deodorant that actually works! I forgot to write here about my piece that was published on Scary Mommy’s site. It was one the most fun posts to put together because it was full of reasons why traveling to Guatemala with kids is so great. I have wanted to write how my bilingual child is talking in both languages, correcting my spanish and teaching me new spanish words. It’s both amazing and kind of humblig. I have want to write the story about how we helped start a preschool in Coyolate and what I have learned about poverty and asking the right questions.

But here’s the thing I realized, I have been writing about all of those things. Just not here.

My dear blog, I hate to break it to you but I think you are being replaced by Instagram.

I don’t know exactly when and why it started. But for some reason the simplicity of the space made it easier. Less really is more. The tiny white box offers less distraction, less room for self-editing and analyzing my words and more room to just write. And that’s what I have been doing. With my two thumbs I can now tap out sentences faster on my iphone than on my computer. Ridiculous, right?! But I am writing. And I actually love it. I am sure my long posts are annoying to some, maybe indifferent to most, but for me they are a little place to create and reflect and share my heart.

I know dear blog, you are the better platform in the long run. You control funny things like SEO and keep track of clinks and views per month. You make it easy to search back and find a story or a post from last year. Friends can share a link easily from a blog, but not as much from Instagram. Instagram is like an album of your favorite pictures and some have notes scribbled on the back and some don’t. But you have to go back through and look at each one to find out. But in-between those squares on my screen I found my voice and offer you a glimpse into my life and my thoughts. It’s beautiful and lovely, but long-term not the best way to organize your words. I know this.

I am just not sure what to do about it. Maybe I’ll copy and paste some of my favorite posts over here? Maybe I’ll try to blog from my phone, take advantage of my stellar thump-tap. I am not sure.

Blog, don’t give up one me. This isn’t a break-up, just a break. I need a little time to think and disconnect and figure out why and what and where I want to write. Maybe you just need an updated look, like a fresh hair-cut and I need a few weeks off, you know to let my thumbs rest.

Dear blog, you keep such good track of my life and posts. You make it so easy to remember how last year around this same time we drove down to Nicaragua and spent a few weeks traveling around. Well, next week we’re going back to our favorite little beachside town where we will swim in the ocean, try to help Elena get over her aversion to sand and enjoy the pace of life where the biggest decision each day is which swimsuit to wear. I’m not bringing my computer and I am considering not bringing my phone (I know, gasp!) so you dear blog will just have to wait.

Don’t worry though, I’ll be back. Hopefully tan, relaxed and ready to keep writing more here.

Thanks for waiting,


P.S. In the mean time if you’re not on instagram you should be. There are hundreds of pictures filling up those squares and even more importantly to me perhaps, are words behind each picture. You can click here to see most of my #mysimplycomplicatedinstablogs

1st June
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.*


14th March
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 began.  I have so many ideas about articles and books. But everything gets stuck in my head. I feel like there’s not enough time or there’s always other stuff to get done.

Blah, Blah. I have heard myself say versions of this same thing before. It’s been on shuffle, coming up in conversations for years.

We all know these are just excuses. But the feelings are real. Life in this season IS full. I write for work, a lot. I respond to questions and make schedules and draft project proposals. I write emails to dear friends who live far away and thumb tap Instagram novel length posts. Sometimes at the end of the day my words-for-writing tank is empty. I once went to a conference where one of my favorite writing teachers said the best thing you can do as a writer is use your first words for the most important thing.

. . .

We keep driving, as the freeway hugs the cliffs on one side and the ocean sparkles in the reflection out the window on the other.

He looks at me, “So, what do you need to write?”

His questions are simple, so direct. They take the hundreds of feelings and thoughts swimming around inside and get to the essence.

Space, I answer, thinking more about figurative space, like space during the day to set-aside for writing.  

We drive on in silence, both staring straight ahead.

I used to think oh, great. thaaaat conversation ended well, interrupting his silence for an ending. But a few years of marriage has taught me to respect the silence. Usually, it just means he’s thinking.

It’s not an ending, but an invitation to pause.

“What about if we divide the space in the office, so you can have a desk.”

It wasn’t really a question. More of a solution.

When we moved back into our newly remodeled house last year, I had the idea of using the kitchen as my work/writing space. We even got a special bar stool because I was convinced this is where I wanted to write, in the middle of cutting up grapes and making phone calls and picking up those ridiculous letter magnets that never seem to stay on the fridge. I imagined writing between life at the table and the high chair and the kitchen sink.

And I do spend a lot of time in between those places. And I enjoy most of them. But I cannot write there. I have tried.

I tried to set-up my laptop at the kitchen table, after the dishes were cleaned off and the dreaded high-chair tray wiped down and the baby in bed. I grabbed my tea and something sweet and aimlessly meandered through work emails and checking facebook and starting blog drafts. But there was no place to leave my post-it notes with scribbled down ideas or pin-up pictures and quotes for inspiration. There wasn’t any space for consistency.

The other thing that writing teacher said was, writers need to create a place to do their work.

She was right.

Physical space for me is deeply connected to figurative space. I needed an actual location, a desk, a work place to call my own, to take my writing and my time seriously. Of course there is nothing wrong with working from couches with babies nestled next you and kitchen tables and stolen moments in-between nap time and dinner time. That works, and for some seasons, that may be all you get. So dear writer, take it. Make it yours and write with whatever time and space you have.


But I was ready for a desk.

Last week, Gerber spent a Thursday night re-assembling the corner desk piece he had bought for himself. He separated it, installed an extra base and set up a work space for me, next to the window because he knows I love the sun. He made room. He gave me a physical space to write, and maybe equally significant the encouragement that he values what I want to do.  I sometimes think in marriage the most loving thing we can do is create space for your what matters most to your spouse.

So I am now typing this at my desk, my space.


I love how the afternoon sun bounces off one of my favorite pictures from our wedding. We are dancing. You can only see a small corner of Gerber’s mouth, but his eyes are smiling. My nose is scrunched because sometimes just looking at him brings me joy. Elena’s little face is framed in a gold rectangle that I bought for Q10 at a store called Buen Precio. She is my arms and about to laugh. Of course, I love it when she sleeps and takes extra long naps like she is right now, but my heart leaps when I see that girl smile. Probably, because she has her Daddy’s smile.

I am not one for lots of tradition. I didn’t do anything like something old, something new and something blue for my wedding. But I did kind of by accident for my desk. My favorite blue anthro candle sits in the corner. It smells like Santa Barbara at summer time. I don’t even light it that often, I just like to smell it.

I guess that is my something blue.

I have never been a fan of tequila, but one summer in Santa Barbara I went around to bars and asked if I could have their empty Patron bottles after they poured the last shot. Bartenders always were a bit surprised by my request, especially because I was in my gym clothes and never offered to buy any tequila. I explained that I thought they made lovely vases and I wanted to use them at my wedding one day. I collected eight empty Patron bottles that summer. And I did in fact bring them down to Guatemala for our wedding. They were set on tables and by the fountain, filled with white and yellow daisies and wisps of eucalyptus leaves. I never got them all back, but I did save one. And now that one mini-patron bottle sits on my desk to hold the flowers that Elena often picks and hands to me saying, “fo mama.”


After my Grandma died 3 years ago, my mom and aunts invited us to go through some of her things. My Grandma was a German immigrant who became a doctor. She re-used envelopes and washed out yogurt containers to use in place of Tupperware. I think of her with fondness because of her love for reading and letter writing and general resourcefulness. When we were going through her things I told myself I could only bring things back what I could actually use. In my suitcase back to Guatemala I packed this heavy-duty Swingline stapler, which I am pretty sure is older than I am. And a pair of black handled scissors that have the letters “Steel no.28” engraved on the edge. They’re the heaviest, sturdiest scissors I have ever owned. I use them often, imagining my Grandma nodding approvingly because her things are being put to good use.

Those are my something old.

The small clock I splurged on and bought at Pottery Barn after we got married. It is one of those new-antique-looking things. Gerber never understood why I would buy something new to look old. I admit, it was probably over-priced, but now it sits on my desk and reminds me that I have time. Or better yet, that I can make time for what is important. My dad used to always tell me we all have the same amount of time each day. The number of minutes each day is fixed, but how we spend them is not. 

This is my something new.

In my blue Mason jar I have my favorite stabilo pens that I first found, 11 years ago in a German post-office while studying abroad. At the time I don’t think you could find them in the states. They felt special, something strictly European. Now you can get them on Amazon and at any little libreria, even here in Guatemala.  There is a cork board right above my desk with our most recent Christmas picture pinned up and a card from my mom, with the word Joy penned in pretty calligraphy. I like the word and the colors match my space with swirls of blue and grey and turquoise.

There are still a few things to add and organize. I need to buy a chair and I’d like this print or this one.

But I am writing.

My motto recently has been start with what you have, where you are.

So I am. I am writing from my desk. With the words and space I have, when I can.

I have been reading, Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones and it is quickly becoming one of my favorite writing books. She is direct and wise and so cleaver. In her chapter titled, “Writing Is Not a McDonald’s’ Hamburger” she says:

“Give yourself some space before you decide to write those big volumes. Learn to trust the force of your own voice. Naturally, it will evolve… but it will come from a different place than your need to be an achiever. Writing is not a McDonald’s hamburger. The cooking is slow, and in the beginning you are not sure whether a roast or a banquet or a lamb chop will be the result.”

I am learning to trust my own voice. And to keep letting my writing evolve and accept that like fine cooking, it is a good, sometimes slow process. And that that is an ok thing, because we all know, I really don’t like McDonald’s hamburgers. And I am guessing you don’t either.

There is something powerful and even dare I say, transforming in writing down your stories. Giving words to the emotions and thoughts that swirl around inside. Somehow writing them down, creating space for them to be, helps me. And maybe, just maybe, whispers to someone else in the quietness, “it’s ok, me, too.”

. . .


P.S. There’s still a big open space between our two desks. Gerber and I want to find a big world map to hang in that shared wall space because we share a love of traveling and seeing the world and we would most likely not agree on any other kind of art. I would want inspirational words and lovely lettered quotes and he would want landscapes of far off mountains and oceans and motorcycles. A map seems like the perfect compromise, amiright?! Any recommendations for a finding a large (like 4 x 5 foot) world map print? Do share!

P.S.S. Thank you for reading my words, encouraging my writing and following along here! If you’re not following along on facebook would you do me favor and like this page. Thank you, from the bottom of my writers’ heart.

29th September
written by Michelle



This is not a “how to get your kid to eat broccoli post” because the truth is, I just don’t know. Elena still won’t touch it. Just like I don’t think there is one way to raise kids, there is definitely not one way to feed kids. I feel fairly confident that usually by 5 years of age most kids can eat by themselves without a bib (can I get an, amen?!) and usually eat a variety of food options. With that being said I think the years between 1-4 can feel like a daily struggle or battle for some.

Just like there are kids who are naturally good sleepers and dream nappers, I think there are kids who are naturally good eaters. If you have one of those, just count your blessings and ignore this post :) For everyone else here’s what I have learned, I tend to think there are three type of kids: 1) those like I said who are naturally good, easy eaters 2) those who are semi-adventurous eaters, but have strong wills and 3) those who are very picky eaters and have strong wills. Elena probably falls into the number 2 category.

So, here’s a little background. Elena has always been a good eater. I mean she came out of the womb, rooting her little mouth, looking for something to latch on to :) She was (is) a good nurser, has always gained weight and was super interested in food around 5-6 months. We tried the whole puree route and to be honest it was just a struggle. She didn’t seem to like the consistency and I wasn’t too keen about having to prepare something separate from her. By default, we started baby led weaning. We just started giving her bigger pieces of whatever we had to gnaw on starting around 7 months. It just worked for us. She was pretty content to hold and suck on a piece of apple or try and gum a piece of sweet potato and I loved not having to blend and puree baby food. Around 8 months she figured out the pincher-grasp pretty quickly and was quite a happy girl being able to pick up her frijoloes one at a time. We still did some soft foods, but only those that naturally come like that, like avocados or oatmeal. But chicken, carrots, watermelon- all big pieces.

Then right around 12 months she started wanting to do everything ALL.BY.HERSELF. Which is hard, especially when most 12 months old aren’t quite coordinated enough to scoop, and spoon and fork things by themselves. She also started refusing certain foods that she had always liked before. She would throw food when she got frustrated or squish it up in her hands. Let’s be honest, we were all a little frustrated. Since they say you should choose your battles, I knew I didn’t want eating to be a battle.

I would say my motto for baby feeding has been: easy and healthy. It’s actually kind of my motto for cooking in general. I also wanted to give Elena food that we ate. Partly because it seemed easier, and partly because it seemed healthier. Win, win no?

And can we just agree that there is nothing about feeding a baby is clean? The floor underneath her high chair and that white wall you see in the pictures is always kiiiiinda dirty. And I feel like one of us is always cleaning off her high chair tray. Thank you, Gerber!

Ok, so here is what has been working for us (at least for now, the 12-15 month stage):

1) Make Eating Fun

In the long run, I want my daughter to have a healthy sense of eating and food. So if that means for now, we make food sometimes about play I am ok with that. I mean eating should be enjoyable, right? I think they key is having something different or an element of surprise. Sometimes it’s this doggie puppet, sometimes a monkey or sometimes just an extra fork :) For whatever reason, when her doggie helps her eat her carrots it’s a hundred times more fun then I when I say, Elena eat your carrots. (Warning: choose something that can be easily washed. She’s been pretty good about knowing she can’t hold or touch these animals, but every now and then they get smeared with bean juice L

2) The Beauty of the Dip

Have you ever seen your little one try to scoop out their yogurt with a spoon and then by the time they bring it to their mouth it’s all dripped off onto their bib. Yes? Like 1000 times, huh? Me too. Solution: Dipping. Again, long run I would love for my daughter to know how to use a spoon. One day she will, but in the mean time we do lots of dipping. Carrot sticks in hummus. Toast in yogurt. Chips in guacamole. You get the idea. Works best when the “dipping item” is cut long and skinny, like the size of your pinky finger. Elena is a pretty indpendant dipper now :) Also, if I would have know about these  earlier I may have gotten one for her. Genius. Pure Genius!


3) Freeze it

ok, so this probably only would work with yogurt. I mean who wants frozen guacamole?! I found in Elena’s effort to eat independently she loved when she could hold something and since she loved yogurt, I poured just regular old strawberry yogurt (no mixing, no adding- although you could make your own flavor with plan yogurt and fresh fruit- but remember my motto? Easy and Healthy :) into ice cube trays, added a popsicle stick cut in half. And voilà yogurt “ice-creams” for days. This is a typical afternoon snack on our house.


4) The Art of Turn Taking

ok, this one is not efficient or quick…so do it when you’re not trying to get out the door. Ironically, I have also found it’s one of the best! Maybe because so much of our little ones’ lives feels out of their control, and this give them some deciding and a sense of control in “feeding someone else.” So it started by just taking turns…I would say, “Elena’s turn!” and Elena would then feed me whatever she wanted from her tray (another reason to give kids something you would also want to eat). I mean she would literally put it in my mouth. And then I would say, “ok, Mama’s turn!” And then I would proceed to put whatever I choose in her little mouth. (this works well 90% of the time with food she already likes). I think she so enjoys the “game” of getting to feed someone else that now sometimes we also include a little Fisher Price person who was hijacked from may parents house. Elena likes to “pretend” to feed this little guy. And you know what, it works. She pretend puts food up to his mouth and then she feeds herself. Sometimes I try to turn the other way in the kitchen so she doesn’t catch me looking at her and stop. It’s pretty cute. She’s eating independantly and the Fisher Price guy is easily washable.

5) Use Real Glass

So I would have never ever thought this would a good idea. But one day will skyping with my sister, who is a Montessori preschool teacher, she saw Elena trying to unefficiently “spoon-up” (is that a word?) her smoothies. She told me, try giving it to her in a clear glass. Not a plastic sippy cup, but a real glass, GLASS. She said they start their toddler class drinking water or juice from real little shot glass so they can learn to use a cup and—this is key- SEE what they are drinking and how much is in the glass. She said kids learn really quickly not to throw it because it will break. I was so hesitant, but decided it was worth a try. To date we have had no broken glasses (although a few close calls and I do stay right by her when she’s using them). I now put her smoothie in a clear 4 oz. glass each morning and she just drinks it! It still amazes me. Sometimes we’ll do yogurt in the glass as well, because ya know the whole spoon-bib-yogurt mess.

6) Soups

I guess I never really thought of soups as toddler friendly food, but I make a lot of soup so Elena has learned to eat it. And it really is pretty independent eating food. I find soups with chucks of veggies and meat or beans work better than pureed soups, but that’s probably cause Elena has never really loved purees. Usually I set one of our cute Anthro mini bowls on her tray with soup in it. Elena pulls out all of the veggies and/or chicken with her fingers and eats those and then drinks the broth! (She must have learned that from the smoothie drinking?!)  If you can get your little one to drink the broth then there are so many good nutrients in there depending what vegetable or bone/chicken broth you use. I try to cut up the vegetables into sizes Elena can eat with her fingers or stab with a fork, so usually soft but not mushy works well. I’m usually amazed at what she’ll eat in soup, that she would never eat raw. Carrots, celery, zucchini, peppers, onions, kale, etc. Maybe because soup has more flavor than just raw veggies? Makes sense. Our current favorites are this Tortilla Soup Recipe and this other chicken veggie soup that I make. 

7) Accept The Mystery

Elena hasn’t figured out how to use a straw. She still refuses egg. I’ve tried it scrambled, hard-boiled, fried…she can even pick it out when we hide it in somewhere and CHEESE! The girl doesn’t like cheese. I am not sure why? She has no problem digesting egg when it’s in muffins or baked goods and she does fine with dairy as far as I can tell. So it’s a mystery to me. But I have learned that part of my job, as a parent is to accept who she is and her preferences. I can keep trying to introduce her to new foods or make her try it, but at some point I’ve learned it worth repeating “ok, for this season my child doesn’t like ____ (and fill in the blank) and then let it go. It’s not worth stressing over or trying to figure it out.

So, there you have it 7 tricks that have been working for us. Now go enjoy lunch by yourself… if your little one like mine is napping! :)

Are you feeding little people at your house? What’s your favorite trick? I love to learn from other parents :) When did you start doing family dinners where kids actually stayed sitting for more than 10 minutes?

{note: please realize I am neither a doctor nor an expert child feeder, just a mom trying feed healthy foods to her kid. If your child has allergies or any kind of food sensitivities please follow whatever advice you’ve received from your medical professional. Baby feeding can be so stressful and hard especially if you child is not gaining weight or has food sensory issues. Those are separate issues that I am not qualified to address here.}

2nd July
written by Michelle

This really could be titled, What I’ve Been Into…oh, March, April, May aaaaannd June. But for the sake of brevity we’ll just call it June.

I love seeing what other friends around the blosphere are into. Here’s  some great tips from Lesley & Sarah and we’re all linking up with the wonderful, Leigh Kramer’s What I’ve Been Into.


I’ve been loving my Mother’s Day gift to myself Earrings from Noon Day Designs & these simple, gold, Target sandals from our recent trip to the states.

Speaking of shoes, Elena has gotten tons of compliments on these shoes from Me In Mind (seriously cute baby shoes, that stay on!) And have you ever heard of, it’s like Zappos’ outlet. Yesss! My brother’s sweet girlfriend found a pair of shoes that I had been searching for after I posted this picture on instagrm picture. She found them on this site for HALF of what I paid at Nordstrom Rack. #winwin #freeshipping

Also, in June my iphone went for a swim (again!) in the toilet. When we got my new phone Gerber made me promise to get one of those bulky, un-cute waterproof cases. I wanted this one, but it was back-ordered. So I ordered the next best one, which was half-the price as the Lifeproof and so far it’s been great!

For the Little One:

Well, most of you know Elena’s main thing this month is she now sleeps on the floor, but we have also been loving these No-Spill Bubbles. Basically, they are every a independent toddler’s (and mama’s) dream. I would even consider buying this mini pack for the next time we fly. Also, I started rubbing coconut oil all over her each night. I wanted something to rub on her body and hands that I don’t mind if she also ends up “eating.” And she loves that instead of me saying, no, no don’t touch that, no, don’t put it in your mouth… I let her stick her little fingers right in the plastic tub of coconut oil.


Well, besides lots and lots of World Cup Games, we’ve been making our way through Baby Einstein.  (it’s the only way dinner gets made). My two current favorite yourtube videos are #likeagirl and this one, which tells women to stop apologizing so much. Notice a trend????


Most of my reading these days are 500 word or less posts. I loved this NY Times piece about Raising a Moral Child and What 16 people Couldn’t Believe About America until They Moved Here! I laughed really hard while reading why Jaime Worries for the Mommy Bloggers and and this: If Black People Said the Stuff White People Say.

We tried out airbnb for the first time while in Chicago and would most definitely use it again. This post makes me want to take a year off and just travel. And this post on marriage makes me want to practice being kinder and more generous with my spouse. For anyone who has ever considered sending their kids to a Spanish immersion school, this post by Bronwyn Lea makes a wonderful case for it!

I am slowly making my way through two {non internet} books: Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes, recommended by my friend Sarah and for book club this month, Where’d You Go, Bernadette: A Novel.

I’m also super excited about new collective blog called Coffee + Crumbs started by Ashlee, a friend and writer and mother. Go check it out.

In the Kitchen:

Usually my normal mantra is cook once, eat twice. (amen, for leftovers, eh?!). But when my husband is gone for 5 days at a time, it goes something like this: cook once, eat 4 times.

So I made Kale and White Bean Soup last week and lots and lots of salads. Speaking of salads, do you ever use your Kitchen Shears to “cut” your lettuce? No, try it. Just drop your lettuce into a deep bowl and start snip, snipin. Easiest way to get small, bit size lettuce strips. I also use them to chop off a few bits of cilantro or basil. And they have come in handy when I am trying to one handedly cut Elena’s carrots and zucchini into bite size pieces. No need for a knife. Just bring out the scissors.

For Elena’s birthday I used Robin’s vegan raw frosting recipe for her cupcake. I thought it was great, but Elena seemed to prefer the store-bought frosting that we used at her “early” birthday party at my parents house. Of course. 

I’ve been making water keifer for over a week now and just got my first scoby for kombucha. My husband thinks I may have officially crossed over into crunchy, hippie land. I said not worry. I will still shaves my legs.

And for my Local, Guatemala, Friends:

Bread at the Bodegona! I know you’re not going to believe me that anything blog-worthy can come from the Bodegona…but just trust me. The new bread “station” by the milk and yogurt corner now has this sesame covered, thick, hearty sourdough loaf for Q11. I mean it’s not Epicure, but it’s really good.


P.S. Just in case you haven’t seen this #likeagirl video. Here is it (I maybe not-so-secretly wish every teacher, coach, parent, brother, mentor, & neighbor could watch this)




13th June
written by Michelle

We have been back in Guatemala for almost 2 weeks and I juuust feel like we’re getting back in the swing of things. We came back from a whirlwind 3-week-loving-summer-trip to a rainy, cloudy and flooded Guatemala. Then the baby got sick, I got mastitis (again!) and we welcomed our first group for the summer.

I have realized all the coming and going doesn’t really get easier the more you do it, I just now know what to expect. And I can expect that it always takes me a week or so to settle back into Guatemala life. It’s a rainy Friday night and the baby is sleeping (on the floor nonetheless- but whatever, she’s asleep!) so here are five quick things before I too fall asleep (in my bed, not on the floor: )

1. My iphone is gone. I tried to bring it back to life. But sadly after it’s 2nd toilet swim and intense rice treatment it’s officially dead. And I realized just how much I miss it. Is that pathetic? I miss my phone. Like a lot. I use my phone like it’s part of me. I keep my notes, my contacts, my pictures, my email, my calendar, basically my entire life in that phone. God bless Steve Jobs and whoever created istream because I think all of those things are backed-up somewhere. But for now I am using my frijolito and cursing myself just a bit for keeping my phone in back pocket. Do tell, where do you keep your phone so it does not fall into the toilet??

2. I’ve had to say good-bye to THREE dear friends in the past month. One friend left in May, another last week and another one leaves on Monday. Needless to say I’ve been a little sad. When I moved to Guatemala 4 years ago I was prepared to say good-bye to friends when I left Santa Barbara. I was prepared to set-up skype dates and write emails and work to maintain  friendships. But what I wasn’t prepared for was the revolving door of good-byes here. I think since moving I have had almost 10 close friends leave. That’s been hard. I loved this post about Staying Well: 10 Tips for Expats Who Are Left Behind. And for my friends who are leaving I liked what he said,  “Leaving is a PROCESS- not an event.”

3. You may have already seen it, but an article I wrote was published over at Relevant Magazine last week. One of my favorite writing instructors said writing and publishing is kind of like dating, you have to keep putting yourself out there. It has to be the right piece and the right time. I think this piece was both. So thank you for those of you who shared it or commented on it. One of the best parts has been some new connections & friends like Tim over at and Maria who lives in Haiti and blogs at I love how social media works like that.

4. The World Cup! I know, I know…you’re thinking, Michelle, I didn’t know you were a soccer fan?! Shh.. I’m not, really. But I live in a country whose love language is soccer and my husband and my first date may have been to watch a World Cup game 4 years ago. I have loved being part of my friend Sarah’s group of #worldcupwives. Follow along on twitter for some hilarious commentary. Also, if you still don’t know who is playing who and how the teams and groups work use THIS!  It has helped me make sense of the whole World Cup.

5. Our afternoon walks have been replaced by Baby Einstein videos. It’s true. I have given in to the world of television and technology and I must admit it’s kinda wonderful. The rains have made it tough to take our usual afternoon walk so I have been setting Elena in her high chair with an array of food options on her try and Baby Einstein on the computer. And guess what? She loves it! I have never seen a little one so engaged with the screen before. When the teddy bear or kitty cat comes on the screen she starts pointing and yelling, “ahhh, ahhh.” These are her current two favorite: Babies! and Music! I would have taken a video but alas no iphone (see #1) She watched 20-30 minutes of this and I make dinner. #winwin

ok, one last one….I made brownies this week for an afternoon play date and I forgot how you’re supposed to use a plastic knife to cut them. Have you ever heard this? I have no idea why it works, but I swear it will save you and your brownies from frustration. Use a plastic knife to cut brownies, always. You’re welcome.

ok, so maybe that was 6 things on a Friday.

Happy Weekend!


25th February
written by Michelle


I’ve heard it said that North Americans take security for granted, like Guatemalans take the weather for granted.

And I think it’s kinda true.

I’ll never forget my first year here I heard a coffee farmer, named Felipe, share his story. Sitting in the center of a group of white, idealistic college students, he shared how his life had changed since joining this coffee cooperative 7 years earlier. He shared about how he now has a stable income. How he and his wife are working together to grow, pick and roast coffee to earn an income for their family. He by no means is rich by the world’s standards, but he has stability. And in the developing world, stability is worth more than gold when trying to get out of cycle of poverty. While he mentioned things like now he was able to send his kids to school and pour a cement floor to cover the dirt that previously existed, I’ll never forget what we was most proud of:

 Y ahora tenemos una puerta.

 A door.

 He nodded his head as if trying to remind himself that it was in fact true.

“When we had saved up a enough, I took down the piece of metal that rested over the doorframe went and bought a real door. With a lock.”

 A door. With a lock.

“We slept better after that. We felt safe.”

I had never before been thankful for a door. Never even given it a second thought. I, like probably most of you, I grew up in a house with a door and a lock and an expectation that I was safe. I had never thought about what a door provides. Behind a locked door there is security, rest and peace of mind. Can you imagine for most of your life living in a place where there were not such things? Not sleeping well because you knew someone could easily knock down the corrugated metal that leans on the doorframe. Fearing that anyone, at anytime, could enter your home and take what little you had. I think sometimes those things- the fear, the insecurity and the uncertainty, are what separate the poor from the rich. Those feelings run deep and affect they way you live. I have always had the privilege and security of a door. Even now I live behind two metal doors and a wall. But just outside my neighborhood are doors like the one in this picture. Yesterday while Elena and I walked along, I snapped this picture. Wondering how my life, or her life, would be different if this would have been our front door?

19th February
written by Michelle

I know the idea of a weekly project is to have… umm, weekly pictures & posts. But these days, I always feel a little behind, so why not combine 3 into one, right?

Week 5: My mom was visiting and I snapped this while we strolled around Antigua one morning:

We loved having Nana here. She did lots of rocking and playing and holding (for Elena) and washing, cooking and cleaning (for me!) I think she wishes we lived closer to her town, but for now she makes more frequent visits to our town and for that I am so very thankful.

Week 6: Last week had a medical and dental team here and we took a Elena for the first time to the community where we work. The days were hot, long and rewarding. I was a little nervous about bringing Elena out in the middle of no where with dirt floors, dusty roads and sweltering heat. But she did great. I swear she was more content being outside under a mango tree, napping in the hammock and playing with the kids than she ever is at home. Ironic, no? This was the moment we drove home and took a second to appreciate the stillness and tiredness that comes at the end of day when you’re body and heart feel tired and full.

And This Week (wee7 ): Elena and I both enjoy our {almost} everyday afternoon walks. We usually find a neighbor watering his lawn, visit the playground or walk to buy some fruits and veggies from our friends. This is Monica. She has two sweet little girls, 18 months and 3 years, who come and help her sell her veduras in the park. Whenever they see us coming they say “hola, nena. hola, nena.” (hi, baby girl). Elena gets a free ride and I get some fresh fruits and veggies without having to drive to the store.


What’s been happening in your town recently?


Are you new here? This idea of Project 52 started here and was part of my new years goals to appreciate the little things in my neighborhood. You can see the previous weeks here.


27th January
written by Michelle

It’s week 4 of Project 52: My Town. If you’re new here, every Tuesday I take one photo, once a week of something in my town.

Today it’s our local tortilleria. Most Guatemalans buy fresh tortillas at least once a day if not more! We usually buy them once or twice a week. In every town throughout the entire country there is a local mill, where women take the kernels of corn, add some water and grind them to make a masa. They walk back to their homes carrying plastic tubs full of fresh ground corn balanced on their heads. And in every town there is a tortilleria or two where every day, three times a day, women stand around a hot comal and roll, pat, and flip tortillas. There is a rhythm and efficiency to it that I love to watch.

Traditionally the belief is that before a woman can get married she has to learn how to tortillar. (make the perfect tortilla). My mother-in-law has tried to teach me a few times, and basically I fail every time. Thankfully, I didn’t have to abide by that tradition.

But, I must say, there is nothing like fresh, homemade, warm tortillas.

And as part of my New Years goal of appreciating the little things in my town. I am documenting the things that make my town unique or special or fun. But I realized this week that I don’t want to just document things, but also people. So I added a note in my favorite note app- titled People in My Town. And this week I typed the word Tortilleria, and underneath the names: Isbael & Yolanda.

I don’t know about you, but it’s easy for me ask someone’s name once and then forget it 3 minutes later. And then I feel bad to ask it again next time I see them. So I am going to write them down. And hopefully in 52 weeks I will have a note filled of names of people who live in my town.

How do you get to know new people in your town?

P.S. When I asked Isabel and Yolanda if I could take their picture, I told them I wanted to show my friends and family in the U.S. how Guatemalans make tortillas. They thought that was pretty funny.

Wanna join? Take one photo of something, ANYTHING, in your town. Post it on instagram or facebook or twitter or on your blog or whatever social media platform you prefer. Use the hashtag #project52mytown. I’ll post mine on Tuesday. Be sure to leave a comment below with a link to your blog or picture.

25th January
written by Michelle

chocolate chip cookie in a ramekin. the after. I forgot to take a picture of the before.

One of the reasons I love blogging (both reading and posting) is it immediately connects you with a whole new sphere of friends. It’s like walking into someone’s home and going, mmm, I never thought about doing that before. I like seeing and learning how other people do life, you know the different ways other people get things done, the shortcuts you take, he recipes you make over and over, and little things you keep in your car or purse.

My friend Becca, from While You Were Napping, recently wrote a “What’s Working” post on her blog last week and I LOVED it. So, I am adding my own:

Here’s What’s Been Working for Us Lately:

In the kitchen:

1) Baking Cookies in Ramekins- It’s been a long week. Solo-parenting…started sleep training…you get the picture. I love homemade chocolate chip cookies, but don’t often get around to making them. I’ve become a big fan of prepping once, eating multiple times! So next time you make your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe, roll up half the dough in saran wrap, place it in the fridge and then when ever you want a warm, homemade cookie, scoop a little bit out into a ramekin, bake for 8-10 min and enjoy! I may or may not have done this every night this week (remember husband done, still sleep training, etc). It has become my new favorite way to eat a cookie.

2) Baked Garlic -Parmesan Chicken- this is one of those no brainer, easy, but good dinners. I make it at least once a week because we always have these things on hand. Just dip in olive oil & garlic, rub on breadcrumbs and cheese and some herbs and bake. It makes great leftovers and I bet you could even cut the chicken into little strips for toddler size hands.

Around the home:

3) Water Bottles, Water Bottles, Water Bottles- I am notorious for carrying around my water bottle and then leaving it somewhere and then having to run out to the car at 10:30pm looking for it. I know, I know first world problems. I have started leaving one upstairs in the bedroom, one downstairs by the kitchen and one in the car. I fill them all up at night and have water for the next day. Nursing moms, gotta stay hydrated, right? This brand and water bottle is my all time favorite- leak proof, easy to clean, and for some reasons babies like playing with it?!

4) Pretty Flannel Sheets- Have I told you how I love the Treshold line from Target? Well, I do. Whenever I’m in the US I linger in the aisles, imaging my house decorated with cute, affordable, Treshold things. And then I snap back to reality and remember my two suitcases. Now I know many of you are in this thing called the polar vortex and I won’t even begin to say I know anything about cold outside temperatures. Buuuuuut, even though I’m in the land of eternal spring, it does get down to the 50s sometimes 40s at night here, and with no indoor eating and cement walls, let me tell you, it gets cold inside! When’s the last time you slept in 50 degree weather, huh? So, last month we ordered these pretty, orange flannel sheets. Not too girly, husband approved.

5) Propolis- prop-a-what? You haven’t heard of Propolis? (pronounced “pro-puh-lee”) I hadn’t either until I was visiting my family in December. I started to come down with a cold…sore throat, running nose, blah. My sister, who lived in Italy, said families there use it when someone starts to get sick. You can read more here or here, but basically it comes from bees and it’s strong, healing stuff. I put 20 drops in a spoonful of honey and seriously sore throat, running nose wee gone the next. It will now be a regular in our medicine cabinet. Usually sold at a Whole Foods or your local health food store.

For the Baby:

6) THIS Carseat Activity Bar - my mom bought this for Elena after our first trip to the US when she cried for 90 min straight as we sat in LA traffic. not fun! Needless to say my child doesn’t like her carseat. Granted we are not consistent about putting her in there when we’re here {shocking, I know. don’t judge. Most people in 3rd world countries don’t ever use carseats. I know, I know..gasp!} Regardless, this has helped cut down on crying and fussiness in the car when she’s in her carseat.



7) EASY way to convert pdf-> jpg - I don’t know much about graphic design or coding, but I do lots of editing, writing and emailing for work and always get stuck when I have a pdf file that I want to save as a jpg. Voilà! All you do is click on this website, upload your pdf and then it emails you a link to download your jpg. love, love it!

8) The Notes app on the iphone- Now, I know there are fancier note taking programs like Evernote, but I actually love the simplicity of the electronic yellow notepad. Did you know you can link it right to your gmail account, too? I have like 120 different notes, but they come in so handy. And I can search and access them from my gmail. I have ones with Elena’s medical info, one ongoing one with things we need at the grocery store, blog ideas, things to do for work, the wifi passwords from different cafes and restaurants, etc, etc.

ok, there you have it. That’s what been working for us.

Do share. What has been working for you?