Archive for April, 2013

29th April
written by Michelle

I am home this week car-less and husband-less, hence the extra time for blogging. I did a pregnancy update at week 16 and week 20… so week 31 seems like a good time.

Now that my bump is very noticeable and very round, lots of people touch and comment on it. My favorite is when a Guatemalan women who I may or may not know, looks my way and says “ay, que gordita.”  Someone would never get away with this in the states. It’s kinda like the equivalent of oh, hey fatty…you’re looking good. But for some reason in a culture where women are valued for round curves and most everyone has love handles, I have learned to accept this has a compliment.

ok, the 9 most recent questions:

Do you have a name?

yep, we do. And no, we’re not sharing it quite yet :) It passed the Starbucks test back in January and we just gave a list to both of our families with 6 potential first names and middle names. We wanted to make sure both sides could pronounce her name. So, they don’t know her name either, but they have some ideas.

How are you feeling?

I go back and forth between being really, really excited and then panicking slightly thinking “ahh, we’re not ready…we don’t have diapers, clothes, or anything set up.” Thankfully, I’ve had a pretty easy, not-too-much-to-complain about pregnancy. I blame it on good genes. Thanks, mom!  My lower back gets sore if I am on my feet for more than 30 minutes and I have had congestion/head colds on and off for a few weeks. I think being pregnant really does lower the immune system or something. Yoga has been my saving grace. As well as a husband who massages my back, feet, head, etc whenever I ask. I’d kinda like his treatment to continue even after the baby is here. (hint, hint, honey :) )

How’s the midwife going?

Hannah, our midwife, has been great. She’s got her own-style, as you might expect of a midwife, but she KNOWS her stuff when it comes to babies, birth, moms, and health. We’ve started a 6-week birthing class with 4-other couples and I just love learning about labor and delivery and this little miracle that my body is making. I could seriously consider a career change as a doula or midwife- maybe in my next life. We have appointments every 2 weeks now and one of the things I love is how Hannah talks to our baby as she’s trying to measure and feel for position. I think it’s the cutest thing ever. Baby Girl is head down, which makes this Mama very happy. Mostly our appointments are for Hannah to weigh me, check the baby’s heartbeat and answers all of my bzillions of questions- more recently having to do what happens after birth. I am feeling a little relieved that she provides 40-days post-postpartum care to help with breast feeding, newborn care, and all the post-birth related aches and pains that new moms have.

 Are you settled in your new place?

For the most part, yes. A temporary settled we might say. We’re hoping to spend May getting a guest room set up and making Baby Girl a little corner in our room with her co-sleeper and some kind of changing table/dresser. We are so thankful to have found a place just a few blocks away from our current house…because we still walk back there to do laundry once a week. I call it our Sunday Laundry Party : ) — our new place doesn’t have the right hook-ups or space for our machine. I tell myself, walking a few blocks to do laundry is still better than having to wash everything by hand like so many Guatemalans do.  Construction is well underway at our old house- windows/doors knocked out, stairs being built and a new wall going up! We’re hoping for no big surprises, a quick finish and to be able to move back in October!

Can you feel her move?

Yes, all the time. Although now it’s not so much little kicks and flutters, but this shifting bulge that kind pokes against my ribs and stomach. Sometimes if I’m laying flat in bed…I can see her move her little body from side to side. And Gerber tells me when I am sleeping in the morning, he’ll place his hands on my belly and feel her move. If this kid is a morning person, G has already told me he’ll take her every morning. I love the sound of that!

How’s the daddy-to-be doing?

I think he’s more excited than I am. Maybe because he can’t feel her or sense her the way I can. He talks to her and plays music and calls her by name. I really do believe there is some kind of special bond between fathers and daughters. He has informed me that since I carried her the first 9 months, he’ll carry her the next 9 months : ) We’ll see how that goes. His biggest concern: getting to the birthing clinic, which is a good hour drive from our place. He’s worried about things like traffic, not making it in time and having a baby in the car. For some reason I am not worried about any of these scenarios.

What’s been the hardest part so far?

Maybe the not knowing what to expect. I mean I have read and listened to first time moms share advice and tips- which has all been helpful. But I know the best things I can do is learn to read our baby. Also, I also can totally understand why women schedule c-sections. I mean it would be so nice to just know when she is coming- the fact that there is a 4-5 week window (between 37 and 42 weeks) is kinda driving me crazy. How do I plan if I don’t know when she’s coming???

What are you most looking forward to?

The moment after birth when they place her on my chest and we get to meet our baby girl. Ohh, I smile just thinking about it. Also, getting excited about TWO baby showers this month, my mom visiting from California and two friends coming to stay with us!

So, 9-ish more weeks to go. Hard to believe that she and I are going to keep growing! Not sure how my skin will keep stretching, but I trust it will. Next time I do an update I will really be mas gordita. :)

29th April
written by Michelle

Dear Mija,

Your daddy and I have been talking more about you recently because you are kicking and moving quite a lot these days. We wonder what you’re going to look like? Will you have a head full of dark hair? Will you have light skin like me or dark skin like your daddy? Your auntie Christine thinks you’ll be caramel colored. We talk about what it will be like with a newborn in our lives? Your daddy imagines all three of us going for breakfast and walking Pepe at El Cerro. I just imagine being really, really tired.

Mija, we are excited to be your parents, but we know we’re going to mess up. You will quickly learn that we’re not perfect. You’ll see me get frustrated and make loud exaggerated sighing noises from the kitchen when I find more dirty dishes in the sink. Daddy might get mad when I pepper him with a hundred questions as soon as he walks in the door. You’ll see us arguing and sometimes we disagree about what we should buy or where we should go.  But we love each other a whole lot and we hope you’ll see that, too.

In fact I think one of the greatest gifts we can give you is a healthy marriage; not a perfect marriage, but a healthy one. One where you’ll hear us say, “I love you” and “I am sorry” frequently. One where you see us having fun and laughing together, but also one where you know how our voices change when we start arguing and disagreeing.

We are fortunate that this is something our parents gave and modeled for us. Yes, Mija both of your grandparents, still love each other a lot and showed your daddy and I what a lifelong partnership looks likes.

Look at these pictures of your abuelitos:

Hilda y Roduel

They got married 40 years ago on April 7, 1973. They raised four kids and adopted one more. Your daddy says they showed him what sacrifice and commitment looks even when it wasn’t easy. Your abuelo, Papa Choyo, tells me that your abuela was always the strong one of the relationship. She trusted and prayed when he doubted and wondered how God would provide. Your Mama Hilla just smiled when I asked her if she was the strong one. She said, “No, no fue asi. I just supported him and squeezed his leg under the table whenever he talked too much.”


Now, these are my mom and dad, your Nana and Papa.

Mom & Dad

They got married 31 years ago on November 28, 1981. They also had four kids and a few dogs and cats and fish in the mix. I remember Nana and Papa always being honest with us kids about God, money and big family decisions. They didn’t hide things from us or sugarcoat answers. And they didn’t hide how much they loved each other either. My dad, your Papa, would write scribbled, barely legible, post-it notes for Nana, and leave it on her car just to say I love you.  And your Nana would plan and prepare meals and activities for us four kids, so that they could get away just the two of them for a few nights. Something I never realized was probably essential to their healthy marriage.

Your daddy and I are still learning how to do this; how to have the kind of marriage that endures for 30 or 40 years. But I hope you see how your daddy adores me. How he kisses me on the lips before he leaves for the day and how he reaches across the car to grab my hand and say “Yo te amo, Michelle.” How he gets gas in my car and fixes the shower when there’s no hot water and never complains when I ask him to pick up something from the tienda.

And I hope you see how much I love him, too.

Mija, there is a verse in 1 John that says something about you will know they are my disciples by how they love each other. And your daddy and I believe this with our whole heart. We want you to see God in us and in our marriage. We want you to see how much we love each other by how we treat one another and talk about the other person even when they’re not there.

So it may mean we leave you for a weekend with friends so we can have a few nights away. Or it may mean we take time as a family to rest and play and remember how to love each other well when we get tired, grouchy and short-tempered. And it will most definitely mean that we’ll need lots of grace as we figure out how to be parents to you and keep loving and serving one another well.

Our Wedding Day

My prayer is that one day you’ll see a picture like this from our wedding day and say, “oh, the best gift my parents gave me was that they loved each other well.”

Mija, we can’t wait to meet you and be your parents.



(Mija is a Spanish word that literally means “my daughter.” It’s actually written “mi hija.” But when said quickly together it sounds like “mija” and it is said with endearment, kind of like sweetie or sweetheart in English. Female teachers often use it with little girl students. Mijo being the equivalent for little boys. It happens to be one of my favorite Spanish words.)

This is the second letter in a series of letters to my future daughter. The first can be read here.

17th April
written by Michelle

I think I can safely say that moving while 30 weeks pregnant is not one of my favorite things. We packed on Saturday and moved on Sunday. I started by wrapping dishes and sorting books, and carefully placing picture frames and glass vases into separate containers, but by Sunday morning we were dumping entire drawers into plastic bags. Yes, just dumping.

All the stuff from the medicine cabinet dumped into a bag.

The entire contents of the sock and underwear drawer thrown in another.

Totally my style.

Thankfully, the house we found to rent is in the same residential community so our move was just one block away. But one block away might as well be 10 miles when you’re carrying bags and baskets and loading up the pick-up truck for the 5th time. Let’s be honest, the guys did most, all of the heavy lifting, while I spent the better part of the afternoon dumping out the contents of bags and trying to organize the bottom kitchen cabinets without squishing my growing belly.

A dear friend brought us over dinner at 6pm: Chicken sandwiches, a bowl of guacamole with chips and two fruit smoothies. A perfect Sunday night dinner. I am convince sometimes love looks like strong arms that lift and carry and move your fridge, and other times love is a meal left on the table after a long day. I had never thought about bringing friends dinner at the end of a moving day, but it was the most nourishing moment of our day.

By 8pm, after 12+ hours of working, our conversation had deteriorated to:

 “Have you seen my socks?”

- “In the plastic bag.”

- “Which one?”

-“I can’t find the towels.”


 -“My back hurts.”

- “Mine, too.”

 Clearly moving brings out my good side : )


I was so hot, irritated and sweating that I didn’t even take a single pictures to document our move. But as we fell asleep Sunday night with the fan blowing directly on our faces I realized this is where we’re going to bring our daughter home. This is where we’ll spend the first few weeks as a little family of three, probably groggy with exhaustion and pure joy. This is where we’ll host grandparents and friends and visitors who will come to meet out little girl.

We still don’t have internet at the house and our stove is not yet connected. But we’re getting settled. Poco a poco. I feel the sudden urge to get rid of half of the stuff the crowds my closet and clean the house and make space;

Space for this little girl who is coming in 10 weeks.

Space for little girl clothes and a bassinet and some place where we can change her bzillions of poopy diapers.

I think they call this nesting, right?

Well, baby girl there is space for you here. We’re making this our home for now…and in 6 months we’ll move back to our other home : )

And I let you know what’s easier…moving with a 30 week pregnant belly or moving with a 4 month old strapped to my chest :) Somehow I have a feeling I have no idea how easy I had it this time around.



My first nesting arrangement: The house is still rather unorganized, but there is space here for a picture of the newest little member of our famila.

10th April
written by Michelle


Before we even found out that I was pregnant one of the things I really wanted was maternity photos. I just love how a growing, round belly and a glowing mama look. However, living in Guatemala, where child raising and the whole baby culture is so, so different, I’ve learned to let go of certain expectations.

Pinterest inspired nursery? Probably not gonna happen.

Last minute trips to Target? Just not possible.

I asked once at local photography shop if they knew anyone who did maternity shots and they looked at me as if I had just asked “do you know anyone who photographs dancing cows?”

So, I let it go.

But then in February I went to a missions conference and there was this cool, young, photographer from the states who was doing FREE portraits for individuals and families. I signed up for a slot and asked him if he ever does maternity photos.

I did one just last week. Come back at 6.”

So these photos are taken on the shores of Lago Atitlan, one of my favorite places in Guatemala, at the perfect time of day where the light makes anyone look good. I read that you’re supposed to take maternity photos at 34 weeks, when you’re belly is nice and round and you can still squeeze into your maternity pants. But…hey, you work with what you got.

And I got some great photos of me and our little girl at about 23 weeks.

Special thanks to Dave Christenson Photography.

{if anyone in the Pennsylvania/New Jersey area is in need of a great photographer check out his site:}

dear mija

Maternity Shoot at the Lake

5th April
written by Michelle

I know, I know we are well into April, and I’m a few days too late to link up with Hopeful Leigh, but here’s what I’ve been into { March edition } enjoy!


Cooking and Eating:

Let’s be honest I have been doing more of the latter, the eating. I have tons of great recipe ideas and pins, but my desire to eat often overcomes my patient to cook.

But, I did make this delicious Spinach-Basil pesto from good ol’ Martha Stewart. I have been trying to eat my greens and this seems liked the perfect pesto to just throw in some spinach. Perfect over pasta with fresh tomatoes and chicken.

It’s mango season in Guatemala, so I also made Shauna Niequist’s Chicken Margo Curry from her new book: Bread & Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes. It was delightful and a complete meal served over rice. Perhaps, the best part…even better as leftovers! My favorite: stuffed inside pitas, with a yogurt mint sauce.


My book club just finished this travel memoir: Little Princes: One Man’s Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal. If you liked Three Cups of Tea, it’s a similar theme, but I thought a much better story development and a bit more down to earth.

Also, have been making my way through a Christmas gift from my mom, Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within. For any writers or people who wish they wrote more, this is a must! Simple, encouraging truths and much to think (and write) about!


Best of the blogsphere:

Easter was over a week ago, but in Guatemala we get a whole month long celebration. Aly, a friend and fellow expat, wrote a great post about re-evaluating how we celebrate Easter and why.

I don’t know Ellen, but she is wise beyond her years. At 19 she wrote a sincere, honest post about Same Sex Marriage and how maybe all we are called to do is love God and love others. period. I so deeply wish that more men and women who are homosexuals heard this message, and not the one that most Christians preach.

Christena is a women and writer that I met via twitter and the blogword and her posts are always insightful and challenging. She looks at issues regarding social class, race and reconciliation. If you work or serve in a community with people who are different from you, or you just want to be a better listener then you have to read her post about Listening Well As a Person of Privilege
Ashleee, a writer and one of the best photographers out there, looks at social media and wrestles with it’s purpose and intent. Are facebook, instagram and twitter soley self-serving mechanisms that portray happy, perfect pictures that make other people feel like crap? Or is there some thing worth sharing? I have asked many of the same questions myself. Read her post and join the discussion.
I stumbled on this blog through someone else’s and I loved his wife’s post about stretch marks, motherhood and beauty: These are the Lines of a Story.


FREE Stuff on the web:

I love free stuff, especially printable-shareable-on-the-web-kinda free stuff because it’s accessible by ALL- even people without a US IP address. (If my computer wasn’t so smart-damn, IP address-Pandora and Hulu would work here.)

Teachers and really anyone who works with little kids this site has TONS of printable flashcards- letters, colors, numbers, emotions, parts of the body, shapes, etc. It’s also is a GREAT site for anyone teaching beginning ESL.

And what a cute idea is this— downloadable (is that a word?) and printable stickers for a monthly photo or onsie with your little one. I just might try to do this once a month with our Baby Girl.

Pillows and Bathrooms:

Any pregnant mama will understand: I now sleep with no less than three pillows. One for my head, one in between the legs and one under the belly. I know they make fancy body pillows but I’m worried if I got one there would be no room left for Gerber. For now, I’ll choose him and be thankful that my three pillows are working : ) Now, on the subject of bathrooms— let me just say pregnancy makes you appreciate stores that have free, public bathrooms. I now plan my errands around which places that have access to a bathroom- the bank: no. the local grocery store: nope. Cafe Barista, Dona Luis, and Cafe Condesa: yes, yes and yes! (apparently I make lots of stops at coffee shops and panaderias : )


Baby Girl:

Have I mentioned that I love, LOVE etsy- especially the baby stuff. My friend Carrie sent me this link for a super cute diaper bag/tote and I have been eyeing this hat, his “you are so loveable” baby sleep sack and this washable changing pad.

Two friends, Meredith and Becca both swear that this lovely necklace is ideal for new moms, because get this, it’s baby-proof?!? I mean they say your baby can pull, tug or chew on this thing. Sounds like a win, win. Maybe it’s really more for me, than Baby Girl, but I’m adding to it my wishlist regardless.

By the way this is one of the best lists I’ve found of the top 50 etsy baby shops.

Bilingual Resources:

I’ve been searching for more online resources and so far Spanglish Baby and Inculture Parent have been my favorites. Check out these links for great list of spanish/english kids books and a fascinating article about bilingualism how introverts and extroverts learn language.


ok, that’s it for now. Happy Monday!

4th April
written by Michelle

Dear Mija

Months before we were ever pregnant I begin wondering and reading about how to raise bilingual and bicultural kids. I soaked up any stories, tips and ideas from other moms and families that I could find. Then my friend Sarah, from a A Life With Subtitles, introduced me to SpanglishBaby. Let me say it is a GREAT resource for parents, teachers, or anyone who works in a bicultural/bilingual setting. It feels like walking into a friend’s living room and finding 10 other moms who are navigating this unique territory, nodding their heads along with you, saying “yeah, me, too.”

I like how the internet can bring people together and sometimes make you feel a little more connected, despite the miles between.

I was honored yesterday that they posted one of my pieces; a letter I wrote to my future bilingual and bicultural daughter. You can read it here on SpanglishBaby’s site.

{photo credit: Dave Christenson}