Posts Tagged ‘Dear Mija’

30th July
written by Michelle

If you are new here, these are series of letters I started writing to my daughter before she was born. This was the first one, and this is one her Daddy wrote her. I wrote about her birth story here  and a year ago I wrote this one. I seem to write a lot about raising a bilingual and bicultural daughter and about the hardest part of motherhood . You can read the rest of the Dear Mija Letters here.

Dear Mija,

We celebrated your birthday last month and I still can’t believe you’re two. I have finally accepted that I may never actually start or finish anything that resembles a traditional baby book, so these letters will be what I hold on to for you. I write so one day you will remember what you were like and what kind of things you did, but perhaps equally important I write so I can remember what I kind of mom I am learning to be.

First, I am learning to be the kind of mom that doesn’t compare. The first year of your life I was so eager to know, Am I doing this right? So I looked to see what other moms were doing. I used their routines and parenting philosophy as my gauge. Oh, your 10 month old sleeps 12 hours straight through the night. Great, why isn’t mine? Or your kiddo can be left with loving caregivers and not scream, really? So, why can’t mine? I think I was asking the wrong questions and in turn getting answers that were not helpful. Elena, I don’t want to be the kind of mom who compares your growth and development or my choices as a mama to other moms.

This year I have been paying extra attention to you and less on what everyone else is doing. I know that you have always been active, but now I see how central it is to who you are. You get excited to climb and jump and hang on the end of our table with your feet swinging in the air. And when you get angry or upset you often need a physical response to calm down. You need a tight hug or some swaying back and forth or the natural comfort of nursing. Physical movement calms you down and I smile now, when I think about all of those days and nights bouncing you on the gray exercise ball that we kept in your room or walking with you in the ergo just so you would fall asleep. You didn’t have words to tell me, but you sure made your needs known.

I joke that it took you two years before you felt tired. Because that is just about when you started sleeping well. Right about a year ago we placed you on the floor and you slept better than you ever did in a crib, but there was still lots of bouncing and nursing and waking-ups. Now we have a small foam mattress in one corner of you room. And you nap there once a day all by yourself and sleep through the night. It’s quite amazing. Sometimes at dinner, you’ll even rub your eyes and tell me, “I’n tie.” It still shocks me that the child who took so much work just to get to sleep for two years, now tells me with two simple words that she’s tired. After a quick bath and nursing session, I lay you on your bed, wrap you up in the woven blanket that I carried you with for so many months and we pray. As soon as we say “amen” you start telling me exactly what will happen the next day. I think you’re asking me and reassuring yourself in the same breath. “Mama? Mama, close door..go downstairs…listen Lena…morning come get you in bed…open door….sticker??” Yes, sweetie, that is exactly right. Mama is going to close the door and go downstairs. I will listen to Elena in the monitor and in the morning Daddy or Mama will come get you and open the door. ” After we’ve been through that a few times, I kiss you goodnight and close the door. And you fall asleep. The magic of that is not lost on me.

Elena, you have always been physically strong, often oddly so. Like to the point where I am like, how are you able to do that? Like lift your head up as a 3-week old baby while on your tummy or hang from the monkey bars by yourself at 18 months and lift your legs straight out? But sometimes I think that your spirit is just as strong, maybe even more so than your body. I think the experts and books call this “strong-willed” or “persistent” I just say you have a quite an internal strength. It is both a wonderful thing to watch and a challenging thing to understand.

For instance, you won’t let go of my leg or let me put you down without screaming, if I you know that I am going to leave,  but if I stand next you I have watched you stand up for yourself even to other adults. And you do it, in both English and Spanish. The first time was at a birthday party for your friend Keila. You were 20 months old and wearing the cutest little yellow dress. Our friend Megan touched your back and said something like “Look at your cute dress.” I watched as you quickly reacted and motioned to me that you didn’t like it. I half-seriously told you, honey, tell her if you didn’t like that. And you turned right around and looked up at the adult standing a full 5 feet taller than you and with your arms crossed said, “Dis is Lenas.” She being the kind friend and wise mom that she is, responded, “yes, I am sorry, that is Elena’s.” I just stood there shocked and kinda proud. Where did my almost two-year old find the strength to tell an adult that you didn’t like something? We have talked to you a lot about how you’re the boss of your body, and I guess that idea really stuck.

Then you did it again a few months later at a restaurant when Nana was visiting. When our waitress came to the table to take our order, she greeted you as is quite common in Guatemala, “Hola, Nena.”  You looked at me again with that passion and distress in your eyes, “Mama, no BIG girl.” I nodded, affirming what I already knew. You did not want to be called a baby or nena. I pattered your back, You can tell her, sweetie. And with that you turned around with your head raised high and in perfect Spanish announced, “Soy nina.” 

And I smiled, yes. Yes, you are my girl. And my prayer is that you use that strength to stand up for yourself and for others. I am learning to be the kind of mom who stands next to you and encourages you to stand up for yourself.

Elena, one of my favorite things this year has been listening to how you think and remember things. It amazes me the things that you remember. One our trip to the states in April, I pulled out a bag of chocolate chips and almonds, a treat we don’t have often. You saw the bag and asked, “treat?” I gave you a few and then put it away in order to avoid melting chocolate fingers all over the airplane. In fact I put it away so well, that I forgot about the bag of almonds for the rest of our three-week trip. When I was unpacking one night back at home I found the bag at the bottom of my backpack and placed it on my desk. The next morning you saw the bag and pointed “ai-plane, ai-plane..treat?!” I couldn’t believe that you would remember something you saw once, there weeks ago. Unless of course you are like your mother, and have an extra affinity and memory for good chocolate.

Right around this time on our trip was when I started telling you stories. You were 21 months and it was the only way to pass hours in the car and eventually you’d fall asleep to the sound of my voice because I guess my stories have the kind of effect on people. But what amazes me is how well you actually listen to these stories and remember them! When I use the wrong name you correct me, “No, Mama fue Elsita. No Elsa.” Or when I tell a story about Mama and Elena taking the “green train” (which is really a shuttle) up the hill to the new playground, you correct me and say, “No, Mama white train.”

I am learning that you are watching and listening to me, and not just when I tell stories, but all the time. I have since stopped saying “Oh crap” for that very reason.

Elena your favorite things right now are babies, airplanes and beans. Maybe in that order. We got you this baby for you at Christmas time and she goes almost everywhere you do. In fact, we often “feed” your baby and sometimes you hold her up to my shirt for her to nurse and lately we’ve been bringing your baby to the bathroom to go pee-pee. Like I said she goes everywhere.

You have been fascinated with airplanes before you could even talk. I think I count it as one of your first words, right after “ma” (mas) and “agua.” Whenever you heard an airplane you would run to find us while blowing your lips together and pointing upward. Right around 15 months you started asking to look at these two books, No Jumping On The Bed and I’ll Love You Forever. You could care less about the words, but you would flip through the pages to look for the airplanes! Somehow you found a small wooden airplane that made an appearance on each page of No Jumping On The Bed. And I have read I’ll Love You Forever a hundred times and never once noticed that there are airplanes on the wallpaper. But you noticed and pointed them out each time. Elena, you are helping me pay attention and notice new things.

When went to the fair a few weeks ago you played one of the games where you got to choose any prize hanging on the wall in front of you. Even with Frozen stickers staring right out you and soft squishy teddy bears, you chose a plastic airplane as your prize. I smiled. My traveling girl, I have a feeling airplanes will always be part of your story. In your short two years of life you have flown on just shy of 20 flights. It’s no wonder you like airplanes.

If you had to live on just one food group it would be black beans, maybe a close second would be avocado and then some smoothies and Trader Joe’s Roasted Seaweed thrown into the mix. I think your food preferences represent your cultural backgrounds quite nicely. You are actually a pretty good eater, particular about how you eat, but not too picky about what. You love my soups, which makes me happy because I put all kinds of yummy vegetables in there. And my pesto pasta with broccoli (which you started eating as soon as we called them baby trees) is also one of your favorites. Much to your Daddy’s surprise you don’t really like meat. Every now and then you’ll try some fish or chicken, but you are mostly a vegetarian girl, which I can’t lie, makes me smile. You absolutely love your Mama Hiya’s pepian, which makes her heart proud. And I hope one day she’ll teach you how to make it.

Elena, you are one lucky girl to have a Daddy who loves who like he does. No one makes you laugh as much as he does. You constantly announce through your giggles, “Daddy being silly.” The two of you started going to Bagel Barn together for breakfast this year when you both were up early. You call it the “vaca” (cow) and always order “guac-cay” (guacamole), “beans” and “jugo.” And you later tell me that Daddy ordered “cafe.” I think you are becoming his favorite breakfast date probably because you are almost always ready on time. :)

I am learning to be the kind of mom who trusts and let’s your Daddy take care of you in his way, even when it’s different from how I do things.  I can be controlling and so often think that my way is the right way. I don’t like this part of myself. And I think I spent a lot of your first year of life expecting Daddy to do things in a certain way. And that wasn’t fair for anyone. Don’t worry your Daddy and I are always on the same team. We agree on the big stuff, but I am learning that there are some special things that you will do just with Daddy, in Daddy’s way and that is okay, even good.

Elena, you are making us better parents and better people. I feel like parenting the first time around is like starting a new sports team. You’re still figuring our which position you play best and where you need some coaching and you both spend a good deal of time just running back and forth. But I hope the next time around, one day when you have a little sister or brother, we’re going to know so much better what to expect of each other as parents and as partners.

This past year I have loved watching how you connect with people. You learned the names of your first friends and you talk about “Lucy” and “Stella” and “Baby Juni” often. You know the names of everyone on both sides of your family and you often ask me to tell you stories about your cousins, Emma and Sofi. You ask to FaceTime Bean and Bobo and Tia Stephie and you get excited when Nana and Papa call.  You ask about our friends in Coyolate, mainly “Lolo” and “Don Tomas” and “Dona Ruth” and “William.”

Mija, you are an anticipator of what’s to come and always aware of what’s currently happening. If you don’t understand why someone is laughing or why mommy swerved in the road you immediately ask, “What haaappened??” You are cautious in the pool, playful on land and could be equally content feeding your baby or climbing trees and throwing rocks. And I want to foster a love of both. You pick flowers for Mama and Daddy and also really like taking apart the screws on your toy airplane. Sometimes you even bring back screws that you find on the ground at our playground. Which I am not sure if that says more about the status of our local playground or your ingenuity and observant eye. Maybe both.


Elena, I know as a girl, you will often be praised for how you look; for you curly hair and your deep brown eyes or the cute dress that you happen to be wearing. Those things aren’t bad per se. It’s what our culture will notice first, and I do hope and pray that you develop a deep sense of  confidence to know just beautiful you are. But I am going to work so, so hard to always remind you that who you are and how you use your mind and your strength and your words matters so much more than how you look.

You have always been the kind of kiddo, where it’s a more a battle of will than a question of whether or not you are capable. My sense is this will be one of your greatest gifts and one of my biggest parenting challenges. Sometimes my first response as your mom is want to teach & train you, but every so often I remember sometimes the best thing I can do is pray for you (and myself!) Because more than anything, I hope that I can give you a tangible picture for how God loves us with a mother’s heart; loving, nurturing and guiding us.

Elena, sometimes I feel like being a mom is the best never-ending job there ever was. My sense from talking to moms with older kids, like ones who go the bathroom by themselves and even mom’s who own “kids” are adults and have their own kiddos, is that the conversations change and the needs change, but a mother’s love only grows. I don’t think a mother’s love can be static. I think it gets deeper with each passing year as the ache to hold on and remember is tethered by the growning-up and letting go. Granted you’re only two, so I have a lot more years to practice this. But I can already anticipate it. (geez, I wonder where you get that fine quality?!!)

Here’s the thing, Elena you are my first-born. My journey as a mom began with you and so many of these milestones we will learn together. In the process of loving and caring for your soul, I find my own is being changed. And for that I am grateful. So, from one strong woman to another…Elena, I love who you are becoming and I hope one day you say the same about me.

Happy 2nd birthday, Mija.

With All My Love,


11th August
written by Michelle

If your new here, these are series of letters I started writing to my daughter before she was born. This was the first one, and this is one her Daddy wrote her. I wrote about her birth story here  and I seem to write a lot about raising a bilingual and bicultural daughter and hardest part of motherhoods . These are my way to capture and remember parts of her life and I invite you to read along. This may be last “Dear Mija” letter for awhile, but I am sure I’ll come back to it.


Dear Mija-

In June we celebrated your first birthday. (And our first year has parents! Let’s be honest, both are equally important.)

Elena, you say “Dada” first thing every morning, you are starting to give real besitos and you would eat black beans by the spoonful if we let you. I am convinced the Guatemalan side of you will always prefer to sleep right between me and Daddy and it’s a good thing we live in a country where no one bats an eye if you breastfeed your walkin’, talkin’, toddler because that very well may be us. Your favorite things are doggies, agua and signing “more.” Maybe in that order.

Anytime you see a doggie you make the cutest little “ruff ruff” sound. Oddly in Guatemala, the toilet paper brand Scott has a cute golden retriever as its logo. So you often walk down the supermarket aisle pointing and barking.

Before you said “mama” or “dada” you said “agua.” And it’s still your favorite thing. Washing your hands, taking a shower, playing in the pool…as long as there is water involved you’re a happy camper. We’ve started teaching you signs for “more” and “all-done” around 7 or 8 months and I was convinced that you could care less. And then one day around 11 months or so you ago you just got it! It’s like it clicked and you started signing “more” ALL. THE. TIME. More aguaMore beans. More nena. More books. More, more, more.

When I tell you it’s time to go “night night” you grab your monkey or your nena and start to pat their back and say “shhhh.” It’s pretty much the cutest thing ever. You now sleep in a small corner of your room on the floor, surrounded by pillows and blankets. We call it your nest, and ironically you sleep better now then you ever did in your crib.

You wave to people we see on the street and you love playing with and poking other kids. We’re working on more of the former and less of the latter. You have always liked noise and activity and being out and about. When we go to a birthday party or out with friends you’re as content as can be. But the moment I get you in the car you start to fuss and cry and basically melt down. When you meet someone new you usually give them a stare down at first. When someone talks to you, you listen with your eyes. Serious, focused and intent. When you trust someone you usually grab their hand and a cautious smile comes across your face.

Without intentionally planning it we got to celebrate your first birthday in both countries. First in California with your US family and then a few weeks later with your Guatemalan family. At Nana and Papa’s house your Auntie Christine and Stephanie decorated with an etsy banner that matched the circus theme.


Nana bought Animal Crackers and delicious cupcakes and everything was red, white and yellow. We ate grilled cheese sandwiches on sourdough bread with onions and veggies and drank fancy drinks through pretty straws.

You sat on the floor in your red birthday dress and loved trying frosting for the first time. You opened gifts and tore paper and played with the envelopes while I read your birthday cards.


You are so loved by your family in the states. Your Uncle Andrew was there and Grandma Charlotte came by. I so badly want you to have memories in that home where I grew up. I look forward to the day when you say, “I want go to Nana and Papa’s house.”

In Guatemala a few weeks later, I picked up some balloons and a “Feliz Cumpleanos” banner at the Bodegona. I had you dressed in jeans and little blouse, but when we got to Mama Hiya’s house she surprised us with a huipil and corte that she made just for you. Your Aunt Mimi got you dressed and everyone said how beautiful you looked.


You didn’t look so sure about your new wardrobe, but you were a good sport. Your abuela made pepian for the whole family and we drank rosa de jaimca.


We had a huge Winnie the Pooh piñata, which I think your cousins were more excited about than you were. We sang to you and ate cake and drank Pepsi.

I made your “cake” with banana bread and cocoa date frosting and gave you water. Sorry, Mija…if I can hold off giving you soda for a little bit longer I will.


And you are so loved by your family in Guatemala.

I love watching you grab your cousins’ hands and walk around the home where your Daddy grew up. I look forward to you learning things about your Guatemalan heritage, things that I can’t teach you.

Elena, as you get older we’ll probably have our own birthday celebrations here at home. And I have a feeling we’ll take some traditions from both families. I imagine you may always want a piñata and ya know, the Bodegona has some half-decent decorations on the 2nd level. Your Daddy and I may get you a gift or two and let you choose a new birthday outfit. I will probably make some half-healthy snacks and I think pretty straws are sometimes fun. I imagine as you grow up we will keep finding ways to honor and celebrate you, and where you come from and who you are.

Elena, each year on your birthday I want you to remember three words:

strong, kind and grateful.

These are three words I hope to teach you and model for you. Three words that I pray over you and the one day you’ll look back and say, my mama taught me how to be strong, kind and grateful.

I want you to be strong in who you are. I want you to have an inner strength to know where you come from and how deeply loved you are. I pray that your strength comes not from what you do or what you achieve but from a deep trust in God. My hope is that your strength allows you take risks, and be the kind of girl who who stands up for what you know is right and is willing to sometimes do the hard thing.

I also want you to be kind. This is something that I have had to learn how to be. Sometimes I think being a first-born means we learn to be bossy and brave, but kindness gets buried underneath being in charge. Elena, my sweet girl I want you to be kind to people, kind to the boy or girl at school who other kids make fun and kind to the old lady you see in the park. Kindness is kind of like of a muscle, the more you use if the stronger it becomes.

Lastly, and maybe more most importantly, I want you to be grateful. I want you to be grateful when we sit on plastic stools and are served caldo de galina, even if it’s not your favorite. I want you to be grateful for the home we have and the privileges that will have. I think you can either choose to live life complaining about little things, or being grateful for the big things. I hope we can always choose the latter.

Elena, I know if I want you to be a strong, kind and grateful girl, then I need to model that. So on your birthday, this is also a reminder to myself, too. Because the truth is I want to be a strong, kind and grateful mother.

Whenever Daddy asks you, “Cuantos anos, Elena?” you hold up your little pointer finger ever so proudly. Uno!

Yes, my dear you’re one. And sometimes I want to bottle up your little finger, and chubby legs and sweet smile and say, stay my one-year-old baby forever. But then I remember what a gift it is to watch you grow and change and learn. And how being your mom is one of my favorite things ever. So here’s to a lifetime of celebrating your birthday…and making me a mom.

I love you, Elena.

 All my love,



P.S. Here’s a little quick 15-second look at the past 12 months, month-by-month!

21st July
written by Michelle

Dear Mija,

You have a spunk and curiosity that makes me laugh and worry at the same time. Our sweet friend took these photos of me and you one afternoon in our neighborhood a few months ago.
















And I love them. I love them because they capture the way you wrinkle your nose when you get excited and the serious glare you give when there is someone or something new in front of you.

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They capture the finger by which you try to command your world  and how you have always been a girl on the go.





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But there are some things photos can’t capture, like the hours, maybe more like the days, I’ve spent rocking and bouncing and nursing you back to sleep for the past 11 months. Or the amount of bean juice that gets plastered on your highchair or in your hair or how I seem to find cheerios everywhere- in my purse, in the car, in the bathroom. Everywhere I tell you.

Photos don’t capture the frantic google search when I’m not sure what rash you have on your stomach or late night text to your Nana reporting “she still has a low-grade fever.” These sweet photos don’t capture your lung capacity or the high pitch scream you let out when you’re so overtired and don’t know how to calm down.
There is a lot of motherhood that can’t be captured in an afternoon photo shoot.




But you know what I hope is captured? How much fun I have being your mom. It’s a lot of work this mom thing. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything else.

Mija, I am so glad I get to be your mom.

All my love,


21st June
written by Michelle



Dear Mija,

Tonight like most evenings I gave you a bath and wrapped you up in your turquoise towel, but I held you a little bit longer. I nuzzled my nose under your chin and you giggled. We sang Head & Shoulders Knees & Toes as I wrestled your legs and arms into your striped pajamas. We read one of your favorite books, On the Night You Were Born.

I can’t help but think about this night one year ago.

Elena, the night you were born the rain pattered against the window. And I remember watching the moon raise higher and higher in the sky. My summer sostlice baby, it’s like you too wanted to enjoy the longest day of the year before you made your appearance. After 17 hours of labor, you finally arrived at 8:35pm. Hannah placed you in my arms, wrinkled, wet and slippery…and just perfect. You opened your little eyes and looked right at me. My heart burst open with a mix of joy, pain and unbelievable responsibility. I am your mom?!



Mija, the night you were born changed our lives in a thousand ways. You ushered me into motherhood at that moment, but it is going to take me a lifetime to keep learning how to be your mom.

I spent the past week in the wee hours when you were soundly sleeping on the floor going through thousands and thousands of pictures. Yes, thousands. So the fact that I’d dwindled this video down to 200 is pretty dang good I think. When I look back over the past year of pictures I remember how dark you were when you were born and how your little tongue almost seemed too big for your mouth. I remember how since day one your preferred place to sleep was (and still is!) wrapped up tight in some one’s arms. Man, I carried you around everywhere because it was the only way you’d nap. I forgot how bald you were for a while and how intent your deep brown eyes were. It’s still the thing people comment most about. Your eyes and your gaze and your ability to stare down anyone.

Elena, I look at these pictures and see how loved you are by grandparents and aunts and uncles and friends. People here and people there have loved you and me and your Daddy well this past year.

So, tonight, June 21, I pause and remember one year ago.

I remember the night you were born and I have a new appreciating for the word birth in “Birthday.” 

Elena, it has been the greatest privilege to be your mama during this past year.

Happy 1st birthday mija!

All my love,


8th June
written by Michelle


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If you’re new here I have been writing letters to my daughter each month titled, Dear Mija. It all started with this letter I wrote over a year ago on Spanglish Baby’s site.


Dear Mija,

People often ask me how old you are and I keep wanting to say, oh, she’s 10 months. But the truth is, it’s June and you’re almost a year old! (ah, I can barely believe it!?) But since I am behind on these letters, in my mind you’re still just 10-months old.

At 10 months you discovered the wonderful world of pointing. And you do so with such an intensity about you. Your finger may be tiny, but your will is strong. You will keep pointing until someone takes you to what you want to see.  9 times out of 10  you are probably pointing at a water fountain, an animal, someone’s eyes or when you want me, your mama. This is all cute and fun until we are sitting tightly wedged in an airplane-window seat and you think it would be fun to point at and then poke the eyes of the poor man sitting in the middle. Sorry, kind sir.

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Your favorite things are playing with water, pulling books off of the shelf and laughing with Daddy. You like to eat whatever we are eating and clap along when we start singing your favorite song “los arboles se mueve.

Elena, we spent most of your 10th month traveling. First in Ohio, then in Chicago and then in California. When I think of this trip the first 2 things I will remember are:

One, how you squealed with delight whenever we let you walk.

You’d wrinkle your little nose and grip your hands around our fingers and just GO! You walked around grass fields, and church buildings, down the cement streets of Chicago, on the sands of California beaches and maybe your favorite, on the soft carpet in people’s homes.



And two, how every night we put you to sleep on the floor.

Yep, we tried the pack n play, but you preferred the floor. So there we put you, right on top of the carpet, wrapped tightly in the Guatemalan cargador your abuela gave me before you were born. We placed some pillows all around to make you feel cosy and left the baby monitor nearby to hear when you woke up. Somehow I am sure the SID police would not approve, but hey, it worked.

But there is something else I became astutely aware of on this trip. As your mama, I spend lots of time thinking about the kind of world that you’re growing up in and in your case, the two worlds you are a part of. The Guatemalan world where we live and do life, and the US world that we visit and buy things from. I realize your Daddy and I probably will feel this tension more than you, because for us it’s new. We’re trying to navigate two worlds and two cultures and although we do it just fine most days, without giving it much thought. I know deep down, it’s like the static of an old radio. It’s always there. Quietly humming in the background. And some days it feels louder than others. The awareness that how you’re growing up is so different from how both your Daddy and I grew up.

And often I wonder, what will feel normal to you?

Elena, you’re growing up with more pairs of shoes than your Daddy ever had. And you’re barely even walking. Your Daddy had one pair of shoes for the whole year and those were for school. So when he came home from school he had to take off his black leather shoes and walk barefoot around the dirt floor. And your Daddy’s family didn’t have hot water, or even running water like we do. So the fact that I give you a warm bath every night before bed is still such a foreign idea to him. And he’s probably right, most little kids in the world don’t get a warm tub of water to bathe in every night.

But I did growing up.

Nana gave me and my sisters and brother a bath almost every night. So it seems totally normal for me. Growing up it was normal to run outside on the grass barefoot because we wanted to. And when we had to put on shoes, we had a whole closet to choose from. It was normal to have lots of choices about everything: from toys to ice cream flavors to which backpack color we wanted for each new school year. But when your Daddy was little he didn’t get to choose his backpack color each year. When your Daddy was just starting school, his older brother was going to jr high school and your Daddy remembers how his brother gave him his old backpack. It had a hole in the bottom and a broken zipper and your Daddy had to sew it so it would work. And he told me that even then, he could only open it half way or everything would fall out. There was no choice about it, it was just all he had.

One of the biggest challenges your Daddy and I have faced is deciding how we want to raise you because you see, we grew up so differently. Usually he wants to give you nice, brand new things. Things that he didn’t have growing up. And I want to get you borrowed toys or gently used hand-me-downs because I want to be resourceful and thrifty. This is part of the two worlds where you come from. Two very different socio-economic worlds. Socio-economic is a fancy word that adults like to use when talking about money.  So instead of saying rich and poor, we say different socio-economic levels.

Will you appreciate running water and hot water at that? Will you know what a dishwasher and a garbage disposal are? Will you feel comfortable walking the aisles of Target one week and then walking to the tienda the next?


Mija, to be honest sometimes I wonder, will you feel more comfortable with the luxuries of the rich or the simplicity of the poor? Maybe both? or maybe neither? These are questions I ask myself.

As I write this, I realize many things that I have had to learn about life in Guatemala, will just be normal for you.

When we take walks in our neighborhood, I realize it will be completely normal for you to hear megaphones blaring “zeta gas, zeta gas” around town. And you will know how to wash your hands in the pila without someone having to show you. You will think it’s totally normal to see 3 or 4, or even 5 people piled on one motorcycle.  You will understand the nuisances of vinieravine and vengo better than I ever will and you won’t ever have to ask someone to explain to you the meaning of the national anthem. You will just get it. Because you are Guatemalan. And I hope you feel Guatemalan.


But I also hope you will feel American. I want you to learn the pledge of allegiance, and get excited for the 4th of July. I want you to know the joy of seeing the mailman put a letter in the mail box addressed to you and the excitement of coming home and finding a package at your doorstep. For as silly as it sounds I want you experience good customer service and be able to return something that didn’t fit. I want you to be able to check-out books from the public library and visit The Grand Canyon and Yosemite National Park. I want you to feel connected to the United States, because it my country. It’s where I come from. But it’s also your country.

I often wonder, if we live in Guatemala, will you feel American?

They say there’s a word for kids like you, kids who grow up in more than one culture or country. They call them third culture kids because they often identify with a way of life and living that is different from both of the cultures of their parents. I know this can he helpful in making sense of the blending of countries and cultures, but I don’t always love the idea because it sounds like an “other.” Like you’re not from either place, or either culture. Instead you’re from some other third culture.

But as I’ve watch you grow and observe the world around you, I realize there is something that transcends national identity. It’s your spiritual identity. And one of my hopes and prayers for you is that you would come to know Jesus, but not an American Jesus or a Guatemalan Jesus. But a Jesus who loved people, all people. A Jesus who lived simply, befriended outcasts and challenged the status quo. A Jesus who forgave people instead of wanting to get even. A Jesus who loves you, even more than I do.

Elena, that is where I want you to get your identity. First, as a child of God, a follower of Jesus. And then second, as a a blended-beautiful-bi-cultural-American-Guatemalan girl with probably a bit of third-cultureness.


Mija, it is both a wonderful and terrifying thought that this; our family’s life, will become your normal.

All my love,


11th April
written by Michelle

Dear Mija-

You’re 9 months old. You love giving slobbery open mouth kisses and big smiles showcasing your two front teeth. You like grabbing zippers and pulling necklaces and turning the lights on and off. You’ve got peek-a-boo mastered, your favorite foods are black beans and apples and you can babble dah, dah, dah all day long.

As you get older, you’re probably going to realize that I struggle with control. Meaning, I like to feel in control. And the truth is right now there a lot of things I can control about your little life. For the most part, I control what you wear and where we go. I can usually make sure that you at hormone free chicken and organic eggs and that the only beverage, besides breast milk that touches your lips, is water. But deep down, I know there is so, so little I actually control.

Maybe that’s the first myth of motherhood: Admitting that I, in fact, am not in control.

Elena, there are so many factors about your life that I can’t control.

I think by nature mamas want to keep their kiddos close, like a mother duck who tucks all her ducklings under her wings. I sometimes want to scoop you up and keep you next to me forever. Which I realize sounds silly and absurd. Because I know one day, I will have to let go. That’s probably one of hardest things moms have to do. It goes against every ounce of our being.

A lot of this may not make any sense to you, at least not yet anyway. It didn’t make sense to me until I became a mom, and it was then that I realized what your Nana, my mom, must have felt.

Let me explain.

You see I think as parents we have expectations for our kids. Expectations are a funny thing. They often they lay hidden under years of prayers and piles of unspoken hopes and dreams. And sometimes you don’t even know you have them until something happens that is different than you expected.


I know for Nana, it was a bit of surprise when I told her and your Grandpa, that I wanted to take a leave of absence from work and come to Guatemala for a year. We sat around the oval table on Christmas Day when I announced my decision. They were supportive, but it was probably a little different than they were expecting.

Then half a year later when I told them I was falling in love with your Daddy, they listened, asked questions and welcomed him into our home and family. But I know it was different than they were expecting.

And then your Daddy and I got married, and your Nana and Papa were so happy for us. But I was making my home in a country and culture and language so different from theirs.

I know it was different than they expected.

Then one evening over a sushi dinner a little more than a year ago, your daddy and I told them that I was pregnant with you. They were going to become grandparents! And they were so excited, but I could sense there was also a twinge of sadness. They were going to become grandparents, but their first grand-baby was going to live far away.

Your Nana, is really wise women and she was sharing this story one weekend at church. She preached a message about how sometimes as parents we have these expectations for our kids. She shared how she realized that she had certain expectations as a mom. She naturally assumed that one day she would be a grandma. She imagined herself coming over to take you to the park and stopping by for birthdays parties and dinners together. In her expectations she imagined us maybe being a drive away, but at least a drive in the same state. I am pretty sure she never imagined me, her daughter, living in another country, another language and culture, and raising her grandchild here.

It’s different than she expected.

And you know what?

I know how your Daddy and I are choosing to live is also very different for your Mama Hilla (ee-ya). We may live in the same country, but I know for them it feels like we’re far away. Traditionally in your daddy’s town the youngest son would living with his parents and when he gets married he would bring his wife to live with them, too. You see, I’m pretty sure your abuela imagined playing with her grandkids and preparing lunch over the open fire with her son’s wife. She has never directly told me that, but your daddy has explained it to me. She probably had an expectation, and how we’re doing life is different than she expected. Sure, we go over to visit and stay and eat lunch, but when the rest of the family lives within walking distance, the fact that we get in our car to drive away only magnifies the miles.

Your grandparents on both sides love you dearly, but I know sometimes it’s hard.

The way that were doing life, where we have chosen to live and how we are choosing to raise you may look different than they expected. But maybe what I appreciate most is that they could have tried to control and manipulate us, but instead they chose to let go and trust us.

There is a lot of love involved when you really trust someone. And I think they were both able to do this because they can trust in a God who is bigger than language and culture and location.

Elena, when I hold you at night and your sweaty head rests in my arms and your little legs curl up on my lap, my heart just stops. I know you’re going to grow up. And I realize as your mom, I probably have a whole host of expectations for you. I have hopes and dreams and ideas about what school you’ll go to and who your friends will be. I probably have expectations about where you’ll live or where you’ll go to college or what career you will pursue. And then sometimes I imagine one day you’ll want to get married and you’ll become a wife and mom and I’ll become a grandmother…and then I realize I ned to stop.

These are all my expectations. I need to let go.

Sometimes I imagine what my mom must have felt like. I try to imagine how will I respond if one day you grow up and meet someone, let’s just say, from Korea or Turkey, or some foreign place where I have never been and don’t know the language. How will I support you? How will I respond if one day you fall in love and become a wife and mom far away from me? What if you life turns out different than I expect?

I swallow hard. And my heart hurts just a little.

But I try to remember that I will choose trust, over control.

And ultimately I trust a God who loves you so much more than I do.

I think part of trusting involves letting go. And I’m pretty sure it’s the hardest thing I will have to do one day.

So, sweet girl. I am sure one day I will learn how to let you go. But for now, I pray that I get to hold you tight for awhile longer.

I love you, mija!

All my love,


P.S. I may need to re-read this letter to myself in about 18 years.   


24th February
written by Michelle


Dear Mija-

If there was such a thing as the prime of your baby-ness…this would be it. You are in this incredibly fun, interactive, scootin’ and crawlin’ and pullin’ up stage, but not yet waddlin’ around the house. You are curious and observant and content as long as there is something or someone to play with. This month you learned how to take naps while in your stroller and you stopped crying whenever we put you in the carseat, and…drum roll please…you started sleeping in your CRIB at night! And going to SLEEP all by yourself! (can I getta hallelujah?!)


It’s been a big month for you, Elena.

Sometimes I worry that I am going to forget how sweet these days are with you. I take bzillions of pictures and try to send videos to our family back in the states, but there are things that pictures and video can’t capture.

They can’t capture…

the way you burry your head in my neck right after I swoop you up from the bath and wrap your turquoise towel around you.

or the way you grin and wrinkle your nose when Daddy walks in the room.

How even when your eyes are asleep, your little lips keep rooting and looking for something to latch on to.

Or how don’t sit still. You are always moving or looking, or pulling or grabbing.

Or how you squeal with delight, and maybe a little fear, every time I push you on the swing.


Before you grow up and start walking and talking and becoming a big girl, I want to remember you as my baby.

I want to remember:

-your sweet chunky thighs and the way your belly hangs over your diaper. And the wrist rolls. Oh, the wrist rolls.


-how you make kankles look so good.

-how you stare. If there was a contest for a staring game, you would win. hands down. When we take you to a new place you can lock eyes with someone from across the room and just stare them down. It’s unnerving and intense and just what you do.


-how your favorite toys are not really toys. You will search under a pillow or stand up against the couch just to find the remote or Mama’s iphone. You love Daddy’s sunglasses and cardboard paper towel rolls and straws. And you could pick grass all day long if I let you.


- how you like books, but mainly just to chew on. The truth is you are drawn to screens. TV screens, iphone screens, etc, etc. Last week you even figured out how to turn on the TV?!


-how we took you with us to the community where we work. And amidst the heat and humidity and shade of a mango tree you were the happiest I’ve seen you. Swinging back and forth in a hammock, your little bare feet poking out, watching the kids play and your Daddy work. It was one of my favorite days this month.


-how you stick out your tongue and close your eyes, when I try to sneak some guicoy into your mouth. So far we’ve learned that you’re a happier eater when you feed yourself. Which means you make a mess, but there’s not extra cooking, puree-ing, or spooning. So Mama’s just fine with that. You love apples and sweet potatoes, you’ll eat carrots and avocado and could care less about zucchini and guicoy.

-you don’t cry when you get your shots. Your abuela said your Daddy was like that, too. You most certainly don’t get it from me. I flinch just at the thought of needles. However, I think it also might have something to do with the fact that I breastfeed you while Dr. Sandra gives you the shot. I thought this was “normal” but when I asked some of our friends in the US they looked at me funny. So Elena, lucky you, we live in Guatemala, where I pull out the boob for you when you get your shots and everyone is happy.


-Some afternoons around 4pm when Mama is tired and it’s not quite bath-time, but too late to drive into town, we take a walk. Sometimes we look for the big kids who are playing soccer or running around. We stop to watch. You sit memorized in the stroller for 20 minutes, content as can be! So I pull out my phone and do emails, also content as can be :) Win for both of us. When there are no big kids playing we go hunting for water. You love watching our neighbors water their lawn and it’s a great day when we find a sprinkler going. In fact you seem to just really like water in general. You like washing your hands and playing in the bath and after you’re done eating, I bring a wet washcloth over to wipe off your mouth and you like that too.


Mija, you have always tried to be bigger than you are. When you learned to roll over, you wanted to be able to sit. When you learned how to sit, you wanted to crawl. And now that you’ve learned how to crawl you, you want to be up, standing and walking. Sometimes I want to say, slow down. Stay little. You’re still my baby.


For about 3 months now I have been trying so hard to figure out how to get you to nap in your crib, but this month I just accepted that for now you, you nap best in mama’s arms. So instead of viewing naps as “my time” to get stuff done, I now view naps as “our time” together. Peaceful, sweet and restful. This morning you napped in my arms, nestled against my chest, your sweaty head resting in the fold of my arm, and I just looked at you and marveled. My love for you is deep and wide and like nothing I’ve ever known before. Sometimes it still surprises me, just how much I love you.

All My Love,

















21st January
written by Michelle

Dear Mija: 7 months

I could write about how you’re on the verge of crawling and how your sweet gummy grin now has TWO tiny teeth poking through. Or I could mention how you love bath time and sticking your hands under the running water and how you’re leaning to feed yourself sweet potatoes, avocados and bananas.

But I want to write about something else.

We’ve been getting in a bit more of a routine around here and most mornings between 9am and 12pm I leave you with the babysitter. At first, Daddy preferred I bring you and the sitter to the office. But that got to be too hard. You’d see me and every time you cried I’d run out and feed you. Obviously, I didn’t get that much done and you had no place to play. So, now we started leaving you at home. And overall it’s been much better for all of us.

Until last week.

I was holding you on one hip and carrying my shoes in the other hand. There was coffee to be re-heated, a diaper to change and a pump to put together in order to leave you a bottle.  In walked the babysitter, with her jeans and red zip-up hoodie, her hair swept up in a ponytail. She smiled at you and you squirmed your little body away from me and reached your two chubby arms right out to her.

And my mommy heart broke a little bit.

You wanted someone else, besides me. You reached for her, away from me.

Of course, my head says I should be thankful. We have a babysitter who takes such good care of you. She plays with you and reads you stories and holds you up so you can see yourself in the mirror above the dresser. It’s what every mom wants. Someone who they trust, someone who their baby likes. It would be so hard to leave you if every morning you cried when the sitter walked in.

But I never anticipated the opposite.

I texted my friend: “Elena reached for the babysitter this morning, right out of my arms. I know I should be thankful, but of course I feel like a bad mom.”

Should I stop working? Am I am bad mom for leaving my daughter? What if she always reaches for the babysitter over me?

One day Mija, if you’re a mom, you too will probably have some of these thoughts and questions. I don’t know much about motherhood just yet, but I do know there is not just one way to do things. Moms do lots of different things, some moms stay home with their kids all day long, and some moms work from home. Although I think all moms work, just some moms get paid. A lot of moms work outside the home and leave their kids. And some Dads stay home with the kids and sometimes it’s a little bit of everything.

I often hear moms talk about this thing called work/life balance. Sounds like some perfect equilibrium that others have found, but I haven’t. The truth is I don’t think life is like a scale, it’s not something to be categorized, weighed and measured. Especially not things like motherhood and work and home and family. I think the moment you chose to be a mom you automatically give up any idea of balance.

There should be a brochure that reads—warning: this journey of motherhood may lead to or cause a full, beautiful and very unbalanced life.

Elena, I know you’re still little, but I want you to know why I am choosing to work outside the home. The truth is I like working. I like that my ideas and knowledge and gifts are being utilized. I want to keep serving with our organization because I believe good things are happening for Guatemalans and North Americans and I get to be a part of that.

But the truth is, I also want to be an example for you. I want you to see me teaching, planning and leading. Especially since we live in a machista society, I so desperately want you to know that women can work and lead outside of the home as well as, inside the home. I want you to see women who are directing schools and programs, women who are leading and pastoring and practicing medicine and engineering and accounting. I want you to know that women can cook and clean and stay at home, but not because they have to, but because they choose to. And there may come a time when I’ll chose to be home with you all the time. But right now I am choosing to be your mom and keep working.

 So today, I am thankful that I have the privilege to choose. I am thankful that we can afford childcare. I know there are many moms who would like to work outside of the home, but the cost of childcare is so high it doesn’t make sense. And there are probably other moms who would love to stay-at-home with their little ones, but have to work outside the home. Both situations seem hard.

My sweet girl, deep down I trust it’s good for you to have mornings with the babysitter and some evenings with Daddy.  I have to trust that some afternoons when I plop you on the carpet and try to pull out my computer it doesn’t mean you’re going to grow up feeling ignored.  I have to trust that when you kick your little legs in excitement and reach for the babysitter, it means you’re going to have many adults in your life who love you and teach you things. And I think that’s a good thing.

And I have to trust that no matter how old you get or how ever many babysitters or teachers or coaches you have in your life, you will still need me, your mama.

You know, maybe this letter is just as much a reminder for me, as it is for you.

With all my love,



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,










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,