Posts Tagged ‘friends’

14th June
written by Michelle

High Five for Friday

It’s Friday and I am linking up with Lauren Elizabeth’s High Five for Friday, which I saw on my friend Meredith’s blog: Elevensies. Both are worth checking out.

Now for my 5 things:

1. I am officially on maternity leave! And I must admit it feels pretty good. Secretly or not so secretly I would be happy if baby girl waited a few more weeks to come. I know, I say that now and I am probably going to be complaining come 41 or 42 weeks— but maternity leave (without a newborn or any other kiddos) feels a bit like a mini-vacation : ) I can’t remember the last time I forwarded all email, checked everything of my to-do list and turned over keys, folders, summer schedules, classroom plans, etc. I plan on soaking it up while I can.

2. Monday is Guatemalan Father’s Day- It’s always June 17th- the date doesn’t change like it does in the states. When I asked G what he wanted for Father’s Day he said “A day with his girls.” (insert: awwwwwwww) Why he is so sweet?

3. Walking and doing errands is slowly getting harder and well, slower. Cobblestone streets and little parking around town don’t make it any easier. However, I thoroughly enjoy my “front-of-the-line” pass that I get at every bank in town. It’s like the bigger my belly is, the quicker I get ushered to the front. If you live in Guatemala you know it’s common to wait in huge colas, anywhere from 10-40 min just to go to the bank and if you’re like us you probably have to visit 3 different banks just to pay rent, electricity and any other monthly deposits.  I tend to use this pregnancy perk and enjoy it for as long as I can.

4. I love having visitors and last week my dear friend and her husband came to visit us and explore Guatemala. Having friends in town always makes me go out and appreciate where we live. Thanks Dee and Mike for staying with us, being a part of our life and even taking our dog out :)

5. Two words: TED Talks Since I’ve been home a bit more and trying to rest and I would probably fall asleep if we watched a whole movie, I’ve been enjoying TED talks- 20 min of fascinating information and stories. Just watching it makes you feel smarter. My sister sent me this one: The linguistic genius of babies and my brother shared this one awhile ago: The way we think about charity is dead wrong (a must for anyone in the non-profit world). What are some of your favorite TED talks? Do share- I could potentially have 3-4 weeks here at home.

Happy Friday!

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6th May
written by Michelle


Last week a friend from Texas came down for a few days to visit, before heading up to volunteer at an orphanage in another part of Guatemala. I love having visitors.  For one it reminds to enjoy and appreciate where I live. It’s so easy to just do life- go by the bank, stop at the market, get a haircut, etc and not notice what’s around me. I rarely ever bring my camera when just walking around town. Things like colored walls, tuk-tuks and cobblestone streets all seem normal. But having a friend here allowed me to see things with a fresh perspective- the beauty, the fresh food, the delicious coffee, the slower pace of life.


These are some pictures from my town. Antigua, Guatemala.


All taken by the lovely, Julia.


Walking still feels pretty good for me and the bump. And since we didn’t have a car for the week, we spent a lot of time waiting, walking and…waiting, some more : ) But I guess that’s what you do when you’re a tourist in your own town.

el arco

The things you miss when you just drive by…screen-capture-29

Don’t these pictures make you want to come visit?


Thanks Julia for coming to visit, being super patient and taking lovely photos!


P.S. While waiting for our taxi one afternoon….

the bump

I may have made her pose like this…she’s practicing : )

just to be funny...

Have you ever gotten to take a few days to be a tourist in your own town?

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.

25th March
written by Michelle

I was skyping with a friend last week and sharing how I have had to get used to friends coming and going. Maybe it’s part of living in a tourist town where most most people come from somewhere else and usually use the phrase “going home” in reference to place other than here. Often upon meeting someone new the first question is 1) where are you from? followed by 2) how long have you been here? and sometime before the conversation is over you ask the infamous 3) and how long are you here for?

I spent my first few years living abroad trying to re-create my closest group of friends from the states. I wanted to have a Jen, Ashley and Kirsten here.  I wanted a running friend like Chelsea and a roommate like Maggie here in Guatemala. I wanted to have a mentor like June here. And I thought I could instantly be as close to my husband’s sisters as I am to mine. But I learned that you can’t re-create friends identical to ones you left. You can only make new ones and be committed to maintain the old ones.

I became immediately disappointed upon meeting someone when they casually announced, oh I’m here for 6 months or we’ll be here for a year.

That’s it? I thought. I am looking for lifetime friends and you can only give me 6 months.

It’s easy to build walls, complain and detach when you know someone is only going to be around for 6 months. I realized pretty quickly into our marriage that it was not fair to expect Gerber to be my only friend. He’s a wonderful husband and before we started dating we were friends first and I’d like to believe we’ll remain friends, but he cannot replace girlfriends. I’ve written about the importance of female friends in my life before and it’s a theme I come back to often, because I think learning how to make, keep and grow within friendships is essential.

There’s been lots of great posts about friendships popping up around the internet, too. My two favorites were Lesly Miller’s about the value of internet friendship and Shauna Niequist’s post about moving to be closer to friends. Both are worth a read and make for a great discussion. And now I am adding my thoughts about the importance of friendships for certain seasons.

I am learning that there are perhaps a few lifetime friends- maybe your high school best friend or your college girl friends- friends that you remain committed to no. matter. what. And those friends are worth keeping, forever. Some people are lucky enough to live next to their lifetime friends, but I’m guessing most of us stay in touch via emails and random text messages and plane flights and planned weekend getaways.

However, I also am learning to see the value in friendships for seasons. There may be seasons where you’re close to your co-workers, or the women in your bible study or your after-work running group. Some of these friendships may become lifetime friends, but some may simply be friends for a season. And I think that’s ok. I think we need friends who are in our life, like next door or around the corner. Friends who can be physically present to bring a meal over, or let you borrow maternity clothes or stop by the hospital to hold your newest little one. These are things that even your lifetime friends cannot do when separated by state lines and country codes.

This season I have been ever thankful for friends here. New friends, some who are leaving, and some who are staying. But friends who understand the ins and outs of life as a gringa in Guatemala, friends who get cross-cultural marriage, and friends who have had babies here and who can share their stories and advice and tips on where to get breast pumps or bouncers or cloth diapers when Target doesn’t exist. I am grateful for friends to exercise with and carpool with and share this season of life with. Most of us all come from somewhere else and have best friends who live in other places, but I think we recognize the richness to accepting friends for seasons.

Do you have friends in your life who have been friends for certain seasons? How do you remain close to and committed to your lifetime friends?


12th March
written by Michelle


I’ve spent the past three days battling this horrible cold. Today I finally made it from the bed to the couch- big improvements I tell you. But the whole time I kept thinking, How do mom’s do it when the baby is outside the womb? I mean the only decent thing I have done for anyone else the past two days is feed the dog and that doesn’t take much energy or thought. He’s not picky. I did not have to hold or rock a baby, patiently nurse or change yet another dirty diaper. To be honest the idea frightens me, how do sick mom’s take care of themselves and a little one or two?

I mean mom’s can’t call in sick.

I have been extremely thankful that my work is flexible and supportive. I can do emails and coordinating from home and my husband can take over translating and driving and night-time debriefs in a moment’s notice. Those are the benefits of job sharing (don’t worry there are countless other challenges, but I won’t go into them today). He makes me a smoothie before leaving the house and brings home soup for dinner. The dear woman who cleans our house made me the best homemade mint, ginger, cinnamon tea this morning. I’m convinced she’s  like Guatemalan’s version of Martha Stewart. And I’ve had some good friends who have shared their cold fighting home-remedies. My midwife was a phone call way when my fever was up to 100.7 and I tend to appreciate her calm response. “don’t worry your body will protect the baby at all cost. Just may take you longer to get better.” And the little girl inside of me hasn’t seemed to mind so much lying still for 3 days. She’s kicking and flipping as much as ever… and I love it. Every little tap and movement, somehow reassures me and makes me pause to listen to her, to wonder what she’ll be like and pray for her. It’s really the only form of communication we have right now, so I’ll take it.

Somehow bring sick and being forced to rest has also made me realize something. I can’t keep doing everything the way I was doing it and be a healthy mom. I’m sure all moms-to-be discover this ah-ha moment at different points. Probably some at the 1st trimester when your morning sickness turns to night sickness and you have to cancel plans and change schedules, or maybe for some moms at 30 weeks when you have gestational diabetes and sciatic nerve pain you are forced to slow down and put your feet up, and maybe for others it hits you on night 5 of the 2-hour sleep cycle. I don’t think there is any need to compare. For me, it’s been this week. Week 25. For the past 5 months I really haven’t had to change that much in my routine. A few more naps at the beginning and a few more calories in recent weeks, but that’s it. I’ve continued working full time, and walking with friends, making time for yoga class or a visit to the gym. I’ve been making meals and going to the market. Granted because it’s harder to carry large boxes of stuff I have gifted myself my own pregnancy spot right outside the grocery store…yep, on the red-line with my blinkers flashing. It’s totally illegal, and totally working for now. I’ve been up at night reading and browsing the internet, working on some articles and writing projects, but probably not getting as much sleep as I should be. And these few days I’ve realized something probably needs to change.

I want to enjoy these last 15 weeks of pregnancy and I want to be healthy, but I know that means making some changes. Saying no. Asking for help.

I guess mom’s really can’t call in sick, but I do think we need to learn to call for help. The closer I get to motherhood the more I realize how important it is to have girlfriends, other moms, family, babysitters and a spouse who I can ask for help.

I don’t think motherhood was meant to be done alone. I am thankful for sick days when I am reminded that it can’t be.


photo credit: digital journal (I wish my profile was that cute)  :)



6th May
written by Michelle

Carrie and I met online.  Really, she is proof that blog friends can become real friends.

We both were following this blog written by a women who knows what cross-cultural marriage and coming-going looks like. Carrie and I were each writing our own fiveminutefridays when one day I got a comment, asking if I lived in Guatemala?


From that comment on, we became friends.

We found out we both speak myers-briggs, enjoy coffee, and doing crafty DIY projects. When we met she was months away from marrying her husband-to-be and I was weeks away from getting engaged to mine.


And she gets what some people just can’t.

The beauty and challenge of doing life in a culture that is not your own.

The crazy, in-betweenness of feeling at home, but still being an outsider.

The wonderful complexity of navigating marriage not just between two people, but between two cultures.

I never understood until being married just how important it is to have other people in your life as a couple. The first thing I’d say to newly married couples is find some friends who will tell you your not alone, who will laugh at you when awkward things happen and will encourage you to keep going.

Today Carrie and Mardo celebrate their first year of marriage!

I am thankful for their honesty, their friendship and their example to how to live together.

 {It is an added bonus that they like The Office,  live music and having dinner together every Tuesday}


Felicidades a uds! Vamos a estar aqui para celebrar su segundo año!

{i think this is the secret to a happy marriage: sharing desserts like this }

What’s your advice for the 2nd year of marriage?

20th February
written by Michelle

Thanks to Beyonce for making this phrase popular and oh-so-catchy. But, I know what you’re thinking. Michelle, you’re not single anymore.  

Somehow it seems that once someone “crosses over” to this other world called marriage you lose the right to speak about awkward first dates, lonely nights at home or being single.  However, in my defense I have spent more of my adult life single than married so I think I have something worth saying. I remember well- very well- what it feels like to be single. So, single ladies- here me out.

I have been married all of 3 months. Just enough months to realize that marriage is wonderful in so many ways, but it takes work. A different kind of work than other relationships. And in these 3 months I have also realized that marriage is no replacement for female friendships. (some of you are saying, duh, obviously not)  I have listened to married friends and mentors and wise women three times my age always tell me this-


but maybe it’s like most things in life, you don’t always believe it until you’re in it.

Since being married I have probabaly enjoyed my female friendships just as much if not more than ever-- a 2 hour skype sesh with one of best friends in California. The kind where the topics change quickly, interspersed with laughter and “wait, wait, do you remember when____?”  A long email exchange from a friend who is honest about where she’s at so it gives me permission to do the same. And an afternoon walk with a friend here where you lose count of how many times you passed by the same street because the conversation is that good.

I have learned these are the kind of relationships that are so important. And I think all too often dating couples, newly engaged and recently married people forget this. Or when we’re single we think- well, I’ll hang out with these girls for now, but once I’m married my husband will fill this role. wrong.

It think it’s safe to say your husband or your future husband will never, ever be one of your girlfriends. It doesn’t matter how caring or thoughtful he is, he will probably never want to sit in on the couch in his pjs and gush about how great that movie was or discuss what color nail polish you should paint your toes. In fact I’d bet money on it.

I sometimes wonder if we place too many expectations on this one person- in this case one man. One person cannot be your best friend, your sole supporter, your lover, your counselor, your partner, your advice-giver, your empathizer, etc. It’s just not possible people.  And I don’t really think it’s healthy either. Don’t get me wrong G is a wonderful husband and we’re enjoying figuring out marriage together, but I think he would agree with me. He can’t and doesn’t want to be all these things for me. In fact he knows, as do I, that I am a better version of myself when I have time with girlfriends.

I mean there are some things that only a girlfriend is going to get. And it doesn’t matter if you’re single or married, divorced or dating. Something about having those female friends who have experienced similar stories of cramps, uncomfortable gyno appointments, hilarious waxing stories and painful birthing stories. Those female friends who know you and your heart and have seen you at your best and at your worst and can tell you when you need to change. Those are the kind of women you want to keep in your life- it doesn’t matter what you’re marital status is.

Do you agree? Married Ladies? Single Ladies?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

7th September
written by Michelle

There are many things I appreciate about Guatemalan culture— a value of helping people in the moment, over finishing a task at hand, an emphasis on sharing no matter how much or how little you have and the ability to show up and be present.

Most Guatemalans are good at showing up. They get that sometimes the best thing you can do is: just. be. there.

literally. physically. just show up.

Many of you know that I am engaged to a handsome and adorable Guatemalan man (who may not be thrilled that I just called him adorable on the public blog-sphere : ) Because we live far away not many of you actually get to know and interact with him on a day-to-day basis like I do.

There are many reasons I like this man, but one of them is that he is great at showing up. In the moment, when there is a need, he’s the person you call. You need someone to help you tow your car? Gerber will be there. You have a question about paperwork for immigration? He’ll drive you there. You’re making dinner and don’t have avocados. He’ll go buy them for you. He is incredibly loyal, generous with his time and the kind of person you want by your side— always.

And I know he isn’t like this just for me, but for a lot of people. Last night he found out that his friends’ grandmother passed away. So he went to show up. To just sit with his friend. To just be there. I learned that it is customary with a relative dies in Guatemala to have what’s called a velorio (loosely translated- a wake) . Family and friends gather at the family’s house and stay up all night, drinking coffee, eating pan dulces, talking, sitting, and just being together. I imagine the first night after a loved one dies you don’t sleep much any ways- so it seems nice to know you will spend that night with people who care about you and can mourn with you. People who will show up.

I want to be the kind of person who will just show up. And I think in order to just “show up” it means being willing to change, quick to adapt and ready to help in the moment. Often my “style” of helping is to plan ahead—something like, ok, I’ll be there on Saturday morning…or… sure, I can help you write that letter next week. It’s what I called: Planned. Ahead. Help. I know there is nothing wrong with this kind help. But it’s not really the same as “showing up.”

Showing up is something you do now. in the moment. today, not next week.

Because when you think about it, the times we need someone to show up the most are often the times that are not planned.

21st June
written by Michelle

If they say you can measure your wealth in friends, than I feel like I am one of world’s wealthiest.

I just came back from a whirlwind trip to California where I learned the difference between a sample show and a trunk show in the wedding world. I learned that if you ever move overseas, you should sell your stuff before you go. And that every season of life, whether single or married, staying put or moving, engaged or divorced…


we. need. good. friends. [period]

There is something important and significant about having good friends. I mean, we don’t choose our families*, but we do choose our friends. And last week I was once again reminded what good friends I have!

(*don’t worry family, I would choose you guys, but this is a post about friends. You deserve your own post some day!)


I had friends who took me to breakfast and said “my treat.” Friends who drove to my storage unit just to bring me a latte. I had friends who celebrated me and the recent engagement, and others who sat and listened to my fears and worries about what’s next.


I had friends who gave their time, two hands and an extra trunk to help load up boxes. Friends who endured 5 hours on so cal freeways just to come to a dress fitting with me. I had friends who let me take over their living room with boxes, clothes, dishes and basically everything I ever owned. I had friends who helped make “Moving Sale” signs and other friends who sat with me and gave me that you-gottta-get-rid-of-that face.


I had friends who lent me a phone for the week and a bed to sleep in. Friends who prayed for me. And friends who brought me a #10 sandwich from Panino. And I had friends who woke up at the ungodly hour of 5am on a Saturday to help set up for a garage sale and others who stopped by to just say hello.

These are the kind of friends that make life rich. And these are the kind of friends that I often miss in Guatemala.

These are the kind of friends that I want to be for other people. A friend who can help with the practical, leave room for the emotional and simply show up when needed.

Thank you, dear friends. I am wealthy because you are in my life!


9th May
written by Michelle

I met Dee-Anna 7 years ago at an unlikely event. We have never lived in the same city or attended the same church. Our friendship has spanned across boyfriends and breakups, job changes, roommate changes, weekend visits, road trips and LA traffic, intentional phone chats and skype dates and seasons where it was just plain difficult to keep in touch.

We have moved across town and states and now countries. And Last week she flew down to visit me!

For 5 days we lived together. Hung out. Walked around. Drank Coffee. Hablamos en español. She came with me to my classroom and met people who are important to me. She got to know Gerber and see why I love him. We dined in-style and ate avocado tomato toast not once, but twice. We traveled to the lake. Laughed and told jokes. We made time for naps. And tears. Played silly Spanish games in the car. We listened and encouraged and told stories that start with “Remember when…”

I am convinced friends like Dee-Anna are a rare and special gift. And it reminds me how worth it is to show up and be part of some one’s life even when miles and jobs and busyness can create distance.

“..because there are things you can’t know, and questions you can’t ask, and memories you can’t recover via email and voicemail [and skype]. It’s about being there, about being there to really see what’s exactly the same and what’s totally different about each of us.” (Bittersweet, Shauna Niequist)

Thank you, Dee-Anna. Thank you for coming. And bringing with you the best gift possible- your friendship.