Archive for December, 2013

31st December
written by Michelle

Why, hello 2014.

New Years Eve is a HUGE celebration here in Guatemala. Fireworks, late night music, parties, the whole shebang…but we’re still in that sleep-is-too-precious-stage-of-parenting so we stayed in. We put Elena down by 7pm, made pasta, drank wine, left the dishes on the table and curled up in bed to watch a movie. Boring, maybe? But perfect for this season of life.

A quick recap of 2013

2013 felt like a year with a lot of changes, good changes, but changes none the less. And we all know how I do with changes : )

We moved. Remodeled our house. Had a baby. Moved back to our house. Went to the states. Came back. Adjusted to life with said baby. And I feel like just now we are on the brink of getting in a grove, dare I say routine, with our two work schedules, home life, an adorable 6 month old…and a babysitter.

This blog community has grown quite a bit this year, which I think is probably due to sweet Elena. You guys seem to really like babies and pregnancy posts. At least most of you : ) Hopefully as I have bit more time to think and write this year, I’ll try and write not just about parenting, motherhood and babies. But let’s be honest, that is what has consumed most of my past year.


The top 5 posts of Simply Complicated in 2013

I blog because I like it. It’s a way to connect with friends and make new ones, near and far. It’s a way to practice my writing and get instant feedback. And I’m always surprised a bit by which posts get the most traffic.

#5  I guess my husband should technically get credit for this post since he wrote A Letter to my Daughter from Daddy 

#4 The One Question I Ask My Students on the First Day of School

(according to google, technically My About Page was the fourth most clicked on page!? But since it’s not a real post I’m gonna skip it. However, makes me realize I really need to update that thing! It’s like 3 years out dated. whoops.)

#3 This one surprised me…apparently, you guys really were interested in my  Pregnancy Update at 31 weeks

#2 A post about Christmas: Tamales, Cinnamon Rolls & Baby Jesus resonated with many of you.

#1. And of course Elena’s Birth Story was number 1. I couldn’t agree more :)

These post didn’t necessarily get the most clicks, but they meant the most to me:

Thoughts on Waiting, A Mini-Spanish Lesson and The Bible

Thoughts on Friendships, Seasons and Being Present

Tears at the Kitchen Table

When You Live Far From Family

And these two guests posts capture some of my thoughts as I enter this new world of raising a bicultural and bilingual daughter:

On Spanglish Baby: Dear Mija: A Letter to My Future Bilingual & Bi-cultural Daughter

And on InCulture Parent: Cross-Cultural Parenting in Guatemala: Rethinking Cultural Norms

I am grateful for you, my readers, both ones I know and those I don’t yet. You make the big, blog-world a little bit smaller. Thank you, for being part of this past year!

Cheers, as we welcome 2014!


P.S. Here’s a little glimpse of our 2013 instagrammed life…ya know, all the highlights, none of the hard stuff : )

27th December
written by Michelle


Dear Mija,

You’re 6 months old and doing fun things like siting up all by yourself, babbling and trying to pull yourself up. We spent a week in California at Nana & Papa’s and you seemed to especially like the lights on the tree and the big closet door mirrors. You weren’t so sure about Santa Claus, but you loved the extra hugs and kisses and I loved that there were extra arms to hold you for your naps. (yes, you still prefer to nap while being held. I have a love hate relationship with this fact)

This year we celebrated Christmas in Guatemala with Mama Hia and Papa Choyo and your tios and primos. In Guatemala Christmas means tamales & chuchitos, warm ponche and plates of grapes and red apples. There are fireworks for sale on every corner and your cousins know all the different types. There are fosforitos and chiltepitos, bombas and pistolitas and my personal favorite, estrellitas. I imagine one day you too will learn all the names for the different types. We went to Christmas Eve service at the church in San Antonio where your daddy grew up. You dressed up as an angel and had your first stage debut. We sang glo-o-o-o-o-O-o-o-o-o-O-o-o-o-o-O-ria (and by “sang” I mean lip-synced because mama’s voice really can’t do too many glorias). And then you slept nicely in my arms through the rest of the service.


Your Daddy and I haven’t really decided what Christmas traditions we want to keep as a family. Will we get a big tree and decorate our house? Maybe we’ll just do 3 gifts each? Most Guatemalan kids just get one gift- if that- and it’s usually something like new shoes or a new outfit. Will we do fire works and stay up till midnight on la nochebuena? I can make ponche, but haven’t yet mastered tamales. I like the idea of having stockings and cinnamon rolls and staying in our pjs on Christmas Day. Daddy likes the idea of giving gifts that are an experience, like going or doing something together as a family.


Mija, what I want you to know is that no matter whether we celebrate Christmas in Guatemala or in California or weather we eat cinnamon rolls or tamales or both, Christmas is really about something so much bigger.

It’s about a little baby. A little baby who came into the world just like you. A little baby boy who was born in a humble stable, probably surrounded by animals and hay and a tired and very sore mama. A baby boy who was Emmanuel, God with us.
It’s about how God sent his son, Jesus.
Sweetie, I won’t tell you I understand how all of this works. But I will tell you, that when you have faith to embrace this mystery you’ll realize that this little baby Jesus, really is the best gift.
Because if you want to know what God is like, you can look at Jesus.
There is a writer I really like. She has written a few books, but this is one of my favorite things she has written. It’s a Christmas Apology for what we have made the Christmas season into. And she writes about the Jesus that I hope you one day know:

“Jesus, who was born as an oppressed minority in an occupied land,

Jesus who was an immigrant,

Jesus, who surrounded himself with the poor, the sick, the marginalized and the “untouchables,”

Jesus who was criticized by the religious for hanging out with sinners,

Jesus who treated women with dignity and respect,

Jesus who taught his disciples to love their enemies,to give without expecting anything in return, to overcome evil with love,

Jesus who suffered,

Jesus who wept,

[and] Jesus who while hanging on a Roman cross said, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Elena, I hope and pray that your daddy and I can show you who this Jesus is. And that at Christmas time while we’re eating tamales and cinnamon rolls, we will celebrate his birth.


Merry 1st Christmas, Mija!

With All My Love,










22nd December
written by Michelle

When you live far from family, hellos don’t come often enough and goodbyes are always hard.

I know so many of you get it. Whether its a a 4-hour drive or a 4-hour plane flight, there is just something that is lost in the day-to-day absence. And I feel it more now than I ever.

. . . 

I moved out of my parents house when I was 18 and although I had a hard time adjusting to college, I knew I never really wanted to move back. I spent most of my college and post-college years wanting independence and an identity different from my family. When I was single and living with friends in Santa Barbara going home for the holidays and family birthdays was filled with tension. On one hand it was familiar and comfortable, but at 27 I felt like a little kid going back to mom and dads. The more time I spent at home, the deeper my heart ached for my own family. I wanted a husband and kids; the people who would make me into a “we.” I wanted to feel like a grown up, instead of like an adult sitting at the kids table.

And now here I am with my own family. A husband who I love and a daughter who brings me more joy than I knew possible. I am a grown-up, if there is such a thing. And yet I have yearned for my family more in the past 6 months, than in the past 6 years. Is that normal?

I know my parents they have always taken good care of me, but I probably wasn’t always in a season of life where I was able to receive it. But things have changed. Somehow being a new mom makes me tender, and tired and vulnerable in ways I didn’t expect. And it also makes me need my family in new ways.

. . . 

My sisters have become aunts who want so desperately to be a part of Elena’s life. One flew down to Guatemala just to help us and spend time with Elena while Gerber was gone. And the other flew out to California the only weekend she had free to meet her niece and see us. And I bet my brother would do lunch dates with us every day if he could.

I have loved watching my parents become grandparents. They adore and love my little girl, they push pause on parts of their life just to be with her and sing to her and hold her. But maybe even more than how they love my daughter, it’s how they love me that makes me miss them.

My parents came to visit us in July and meet their granddaughter. And when they left I sat at my kitchen table in tears, my 6-week old baby in my arms. I flew to California in September for a 2-week visit and on the night they dropped us off at the airport I walked toward security, pushing the stroller, carrying Elena, and tears dripping down my face.

. . . 

And last Thursday was no different.

We said good-bye upstairs by the elevators. My mom held Elena, my dad hugged me and my sister kept biting her lip to keep from crying. I took a deep breath and tried to swallow my tears.

I felt like a kid who just wants to go home. And home is a hard place to define when it’s straddled between two countries.

One home is with my sweet husband and baby girl in a country whose language and culture is still new to me. And the other is in California, in the same house and on the same street where this little girl grew up. And somehow I want my little girl to feel at home in both places.

“You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart always will be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.” -Miriam Adeney

17th December
written by Michelle

Things have been a little quiet around here on the blog. I guess things like work and laundry and oh, trying to figure out how to print my Christmas labels have been taking up most of my time. And then there is this adorable almost 6-month-old girl that is literally quite attached to me…and my boob. She doesn’t yet understand the words “ok, honey it’s nap time. Mama’s gonna write.” We’re working on it. But hasn’t happened yet.

We have been enjoying a week at my parents house. Nothing like a California Christmas and living with a garbage disposer, carpet and within a 5-min drive of Target. Heaven. In all seriousness, I now completely understand why traditionally women lived and worked and raised children among their moms, sisters, and aunts. There is nothing better than watching my mom and sister love and hold and play with my little girl.

Being a mom is hard. And wonderful. And n.e.v.e.r ending.

I put this gift guide together for my friend, Laura’s blog LB’s Good Spoon. If you have a new mom in your life this is just in time for the holidays… or really anytime! Because let’s be honest moms like gifts any time of the year.

Can I get an amen?!

Click here to see the guest post on LB’s Good Spoon.


6th December
written by Michelle


In case you’re new here, I started writing letters to our daughter each month after I wrote this post for  before she was born. Last month her daddy wrote a letter and the previous months you can find here. Enjoy this little snapshot into life with our little girl.

20131201-140215.jpgDear Mija,

I’m typing this letter to you on my iPhone because you are asleep in my arms. You and I have spent lots of time together like this: you sleeping, me on my phone. Sometime around 4 months you decided that the world was too interesting and you didn’t want to miss out. So we’ve had a long month or so trying to get you to sleep and stay asleep. Lately my motto has been “do whatever works”  and what works for us right now is for me or Daddy hold you in our arms or in the ergo for e.v.e.r.y. nap. Everyone says I should soak up these moments and enjoy them, and don’t get me wrong I do, but sweet girl I sometimes want someone to reassure me that one day you will nap all by yourself in your crib and sleep through the night. Whatta ya think? Maybe a good goal for 6 months, eh?

 Just to be fair, even though you really haven’t been the best sleeper, you’re still eating like a champ. For that I am thankful. Breastfed or bottle fed, you don’t seem to mind as long as its mamma’s milk. And one morning with the babysitter we realized you’ll even drink it cold! Lately you have been so interested in what we are eating. You try to grab the scrambled eggs of my plate and when Daddy drinks his coffee you reach your little hand up as if it say, where’s mine?  We let you suck on a banana last week. You seemed to enjoy it. But then again you enjoy putting plastic bags in your mouth. I think next week we’ll try giving you some mashed up avocado just because you seem so eager. Our friends let us borrow their bumbo seat you like sitting up high and watching me make our morning smoothie. You even were a great helper when I made banana muffins.

Elena, my love, it has even be fun to see your personality shine through these past few weeks. I feel like we are getting to know YOU so much better. And YOU, my dear, are not a baby in a book, or a certain temperament to be figured out. No, you are uniquely wonderfully, you. You my dear, are persistent and perceptive. You observe so closely new faces and places. You love being out and about. Your favorite places so far seem to be: parque central en Antigua, walking around Santa Maria de Jesus and any place with loud motos and live music. When someone new talks to you, you usually stare them down for 3 seconds with your big brown eyes and then if you’re pleased, you give them the biggest grin. It’s pretty cute. You are active and strong and rarely lay still. You are babbling up a storm and are very good at exercising your vocal chords.

In the past month or so you also discovered toys and it’s been so fun to watch you play. You really like Sophie the Giraffe and anything that makes a crinkle-plastic bag sound. You seem to like butterflies and anything that is small enough to fit in your mouth. Sometimes you reach for one of your books, and I get so excited, “oh my daughter already loves books” and then you proceed to suck on the corner. Sometimes when I show you two toys and say “which one do you want?” You grab both. I like that about you, mija. You seem to know what you want.


And have I told you that you have the sweetest little laugh?  Yes, you do. You laugh the most with me and Daddy, especially when we play peek-a-boo. (But we usually say it in Spanish and it sounds something like “chee- wa”) You are also at a stage where you are grabbing and reaching and putting anything and everything in your mouth- my hair, your fingers or the corners of pillows, tend to be among your favorites. When we lay you down under the activity mat, you get really frustrated. You grunt and lift your shoulders and head off the mat trying so hard to sit up. You’re almost there, but you you still need someone’s hand on your back so you don’t fall over.


Elena, I have loved watching how you see the world. I can see you taking it in, trying to understand how things work.  When you take a bath I use a little plastic cup and pour water out in front of you. You reach out your little chubby hands and try to grab the water. I can tell you’re confused. Why can’t I hold the water? It’s a very good question. I can see how that’s confusing, huh?




You and your Daddy have a such a sweet relationship. You love grabbing his beard and spending mornings together. One morning I came down the stairs and in walked Daddy carrying you in the Baby Bjorn.. You were still in your pajamas, bundled up with a hat on and Daddy had pan frances in one hand and eggs in the other. He made us breakfast. Mommy loves those kind of mornings. Some afternoons I find you two on the couch, you arching your head backwards so you can see the TV!  On Saturday morning I get to go to yoga, because Daddy wants to spend time with just you! I foresee lots of breakfast dates with you and daddy in the future.


Mija, this month:
-you discovered your toes.
-had your first cold and ear infection : (
- slept with us almost every night after 12am
-went to your first water park and played in the pool
-spent lots and lots of time in the ergo and the cargador.
(I have decided that always wanting to be carried makes your a great little traveler, but not the best crib sleeper)
-you spent a weekend at one of your Daddy’s and my favorite places: Lake Atitlan
- you started blowing spit bubbles and your learned how to squeal with delight.
(and sometimes you like to wake-up and practice at 5:30am)


Elena, I like this age. You are so curious and interactive, but not yet mobile. You are still in the lay on a blanket on the floor stage and cuddle in bed stage. You’re not scooting or crawling just yet. And you’re acting more and more like a little person, but you’re still tiny enough to by my baby. Sometimes while we sit in this chair I smell the top if your head and breathe in the sweet, soft baby smell . Your soft, tender fingers rest on my chest and sometimes when you get startled the reach up and grab my chin.

I never want to forget how soft and smooth your little fingertips feel against my skin.

Or your chubby thigh rolls

Or how your brown beautiful eyes get so big when someone talks to you

I sometimes stare at long dark eye lashes when you sleep.

I love watching how your little mouth knows right where to latch on even when your dead asleep.

And how you fit right between my shoulders and legs, curled up like a little c, when I lay next to on my side.

I want to remember how your skin tends to change shades depending on the light or what color you wear and which Instagram filter I use :)

Guatemalans think you’re “bien canche” and gringos say you’re “tan,” but I think you’re just perfect.

You’re hair is darker than my hair ever was as a little girl, but not as black as your daddy’s. I’m still hoping it grows.

Your Auntie Christine is a little worried you may have inherited the Acker baby-bald-gene.

I’m hoping you’ll at least have a little pony tail by the time you’re 5!


Elena, I really love being your mom. It is by far one of the greatest joys, and hardest things I’ve done so far.


With all my love,