Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Sleigh bells ring, are ya listening...In the lane snow is glistening.

Well in Honduras it isn't. Its more like in the lane, everyone is glistening (from sweat).

**(I know Christmas has past, but I was looking through my pictures and came across these and realized I didn't post about my first Christmas in Honduras. So here it is, a couple of months late)**

I am a four season type of girl. And no not the music group, but actual four seasons. You know, Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall. (all you have to do is call, and I will be there, yeah yeah yeah - oh sorry. It seems that I am having music tourettes syndrome today).

Anyways... I grew up in a state that has four distinct seasons, and without realizing it, I used the passing of seasons as my own calendar. Back to school was at the end of the summer, and I knew that when the early mornings and evenings were sweater weather, but by 10 AM you were sweating rivers, well it was time for back to school. Cool crisp days and the smell of apple cider in the air (or when it felt like it should smell like apple cider), well that means that it is almost Halloween. (also known as that day where you wear an expensive costume and then cover it up with your winter coat because it is freaking cold outside, and you wasted all that money so that the kids can knock on doors showing off different colored tights and maybe next year you can get away with just having them wear normal clothes, a winter coat and colored tight and pretend they are wearing a fabulous and expensive costume but always seem to forget and maybe everyone should just stay home and eat hand out the candy instead)

Once Halloween is over, the days get shorter and cooler, the sky becomes more grey. And that can only mean that it is time for the Christmas decorations to go up at the malls and Main Street etc.

For me the Christmas holiday makes its presence known by the crazed red nosed shoppers at the Mall (OK we all know I don't shop at the mall - lets be honest. The crazed Walmart shoppers), and tons of people trying to find the best parking spot. Black Friday was always a fun time for me too. All of this to me means that Christmas is on its way. And my favorite tradition of all, wrapping presents on Christmas Eve, while talking to my friend Carrie as she wrapped her kids presents. (and the conversations almost always was more - I lost my scissors, I lost the tape. How can I lose the freaking scissors/tape when I just had it right here. OH here they are. Rarely did we actually talk)

However, in Honduras, there was none of that. To be honest, Thanksgiving (which we didn't celebrate this past year, but will this year) snuck up on me, as did Christmas. But it is hard to think of Christmas - for me anyways - when I am wearing shorts, a t-shirt and flip flops. They don't have a Black Friday, and it wasn't until the week of Christmas that I realized that there was Christmas decorations up at the stores of Tocoa.

For my kids, Christmas time meant decorations around the house. A tree, and things hung from the ceiling (that was the only place I could put decorations without the little ones breaking them) and Christmas cards hung on the wall. But my tree and decorations were still in the US, and there is no mail system in Honduras, which basically means no Christmas cards to hang on the wall. They kept asking if the tree was coming because that meant that it was almost Christmas.

All of these things added together, and there was a decidedly non Christmas feel in my house. And I wasn't prepared for the lack of Christmas feel. (although this year I know what I am up against, I know more about what I want to do to remedy that)

And while I am not a big Christmas shopper - where I give the kids tons of presents - I still like for them to have some things to open. But thanks to money being extra tight, I hadn't been able to go shopping for them either. I thank God though for my mom. She sent me a box of things that I had left, plus she threw in Christmas presents for each of them, and she also sent me her Nana box. The Nana box is a box she kept for when the grand kids came over, they could pick something out of the box to play with or eat. (She would fill it with McDonald's - and other fast food - kids meal toys, and lollipops, pens, etc). But since it is usually just my kids that are at my moms house, (my other brothers live to far away) the box was just sitting in the kitchen not being used. So she sent it to me. There wasn't a ton of stuff in there - especially after I separated it into a pile for each of the younger 5 - but it was enough for the kids and they had a great time opening the gifts, and playing with them.

One of the things that Lana, Mick and Isa got were McDonald's Barbies, and while I don't have a picture of it, that was Levi's favorite thing. He would hold one in each hand, and kiss one, then kiss the other, and he would do that for at least a half an hour at a time. The boy loves women - be it real life women, or plastic ones, LOL.

You can see how happy the kids were while opening their presents.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Brotherly love - yuck...

Having grown up in a household full of boys (my sisters were all older and out of the house by the time I came along) I know all about brotherly love. I think I am such a tough (strong - can take pain etc.) person because of all that brotherly love. (think having to play tackle football in the STREET as a form of blackmail - I had to play so that they wouldn't tell mom that I skipped school)

So I get it when I hear my two oldest bickering and arguing. I know that it is normal. And I know that my brothers and I drove my mother crazy with it when we were younger.

I also know when my two oldest - my 13 and 11 yr olds - argue and bicker (over nothing, and over everything - today was among other things, yogurt) its normal. I get it, really I do. But I refuse to let it drive me any more crazy than I already am. The only problem is, how do you stop it? Let me tell you it takes some creative thoughts, but I finally found a way to get them to stop. And it works 99% of the time.

First off let me tell you that they have always had a love/hate relationship. They either love eachother, or they hate eachother. And it can change second to second. When they were younger (5 and 7) they would go at it - fist fighting, and it took me forever to get them to stop. What finally worked was I used masking tape and taped off a square on the floor, popped popcorn, and Lale and I sat on the couch and made them stand inside the square. I told them that if they wanted to box, then fine they could box all they wanted to, but we wanted some entertainment, so we would watch. After I made the boxing ring, they just stood there looking at eachother and refused to hit eachother. After that, there has been no more physical arguing - except maybe the occasional 'accidental' pushing and the like.

Now that they are preteenagers/teenagers they prefer to use there mouths to get at eachother. And there are days I swear it would drive me to drink. I hate it. I mean if you want to argue, the least you can do is make it over something big. And Im sorry, the fact that she said sorry she stepped on your foot is NOT a reason to get an attitude. Neither is the fact that he ate a cheesecake yogurt, and left one for you. (Yes I did say LEFT one - not ate them all, but LEFT one).

Well a little over a year ago, I realized the BEST punishment for all of this brotherly love. It is sort of like the forced apology, but only 100 times better. I just call it the Brotherly Love. Oh kids, if you dont shut it up, you will get the Brotherly Love. Usually just the threat of it is enough to shut them up. It is rare that I actually have to make them do it.

Today was one of those days. And look how happy they were to demonstrate how much Brotherly Love they have... (just check out the expressions of joy)

Yes thats right, I make them hug. But it isn't just any old hug, oh no. It starts out as a 5 minute hug. And if they argue or make any comment while doing that hug, the time doubles each time I have to talk to them. If after the hug, they continue to have issues, they will have to hug again, and again and again until they can learn to get along. And each time they have to hug the time is doubled from the previous time. So it goes 5 min., 10 min., 20 min, 40 min. and so on and so on.

The first day I used the Brotherly Love we made it to 20 minutes before they realized that I wasn't playing. After that day, usually just the threat will work, but on the rare occasions that I have to actually resort to it, 5 minutes seems to cure the attitudes. Plus now that they are older, I can add the threat of posting pictures of them hugging online (I wouldn't do that though - would I??) and it has been rumored that I have told them I would record a video and put it on youtube too. Oh the horrors of being a teen and having me for your mother.

HEHEHE - never underestimate the power of embarassment. Really. I always threatened my kids that if they acted up in school, I would be the parent who would show up in curlers, a muu muu and flip flops and would sit next to that child all day long, hold his/her hand between each class and basically embarass the living daylights out of said child. The threat seems to have worked so far - and they know that I would gladly do that too, LOL.

After they were done hugging, I made Jordan take off her robe (it was cold in here) so that I could take a comparison picture of the two of them. Look at the difference between them in Honduras, and them here in the US.

What a difference fast food makes, LOL.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Ari - Day 12

I love this picture of Ari - she looks so chunky - all cheeks.

You can see in this picture, that she really isnt nearly as chunky as the previous picture makes her look. Look at how teeny tiny her legs are.

Life with Ari has been good. She is a good baby, a good sleeper and just an all around joy. I thought for sure that she would be a more high maitenance baby, but not at all.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Being Blessed

When we decided that I would come to the US, Lale and I made a game plan. Ok, I made the game plan (I am all about making lists and having plans - he is all about just tell him what to do and it gets done - sort of) but we agreed on what needed to be done. So besides coming to the US to have the baby, I also came to work for 3 months to make some extra money so that we could finish some things that needed to be done on the house.

Here lately though I have been feeling frustrated because things just arent going the way that I wanted them to, nor as I planned. I knew before I got here, that there just werent alot of hours at work, so I knew that I wouldn't be making tons of money. But I still had my plan. I wanted the back porch finished, I wanted a pila, (no I NEED a pila), I wanted to put tile on the floor - I promised Mickey I would do that for her, and if there was enough money after that, then there was some other things on my honey do list.

Well I went to work, with my list placed on the first page of my calendar/day planner so that whenever I was missing my kids, I could look at the list and know that I was doing something for us. Each paycheck, and my taxes were sent home, and things were getting done. The only thing was, it wasn't anything on my list. Other things came up, and talking to Lale, we decided that the money was better spent on some other things. And school for Isa and Mickey, with the uniforms, books, and what seems like weekly extras has taken up a bit more than I had planned for. (for all those weekly incidentals). And I didn't take into consideration that I also had to use that money to take care of my household here - food, school stuff for Jordan and Andre, clothes for them both etc. etc.

Add to that, that Ari came 5 weeks early, which meant that I am not able to work those last 4 weeks that I was going to work, which means I am out close to $1000. And that just got added onto the stress. Now I had to get stuff for Ari, clothes for Johan, Isa, Mick and Lana, and some stuff that I had on my list for the house. Plus I have to send this box of stuff down. All of that takes money, and that money is no longer coming in. And it is frustrating. Beyond frustrating. That frustration (and I am sure being hormonal after having a baby didn't help either, LOL) began to eat away at me too. I was thinking about how I am up here for nothing - other than health care for me and the baby - but that I wasted all of that time working, and for what. 4 cows and another truck? (the money went to more than that - but that was what I Was focusing on). Why couldn't Lale just do as I asked and finish the back porch/build the pila/buy the tile etc. etc. It didn't matter that I was in agreement that we spent the money on other thing, I just focused on what I didn't have. What wasn't done.

Then a couple of days ago, I came across a blog post in my google reader. A post on the Hayes blog. It is titled A Borrowed Thought. I read it, and it made me cry. It made me realize how very truely blessed I am. When Ari was born, I really didn't have anything for her. I had 2 outfits I think. And they were to big - since at 34 weeks she was approx 6 pounds, we had bought a couple of 3 month clothing knowing she would be big (I mean she still had 6 weeks to grow!). But other than some to big clothes, bottles, a can of formula and a boppy pillow, I had nothing for her. My mom took some money and got me a couple of onsies that would fit her, and my friend Carrie, and my sister in law Gloria each brought me some clothes for her when they came to visit at the hospital. The clothes they brought are to big for her now, but she will grow into them soon. And they will be great for Honduras too. I then remembered that I had some cousins that had some premies, maybe I could get a couple of outfits to tide me over until Ari was big enough to fit into the clothes that we have. So I sent them an email asking if they had a bouncy seat (mom sold mine while I was in Honduras), a monitor, and maybe a couple of peices of premie clothes. I got a yes from them, and an offer for baby clothes bigger than premies. And Jennie, whom I love dearly, and who has basically been my BFF since we met back in Feb 2006, when we were both pregnant, she sent me a HUGE box of onsies, and a couple of outfits of clothes that range from newborn up to 6-9 months. I am so blessed. God does provide.

On Monday, when I went to KFC to pick up my check, I got some lunch for me, mom and Levi to share, and while we were eating I said to her I have to get Johan some pants and shorts because his clothes don't fit, but I have to figure out where the money is coming from. Not five minutes later, my manager, Danielle, asked me if I knew anyone, or if I could use boys clothes size 5T and up, because she was going through her sons clothes and had a couple of trash bags filled with jeans and shorts and some shirts that she would gladly give me. I told her yes, that was perfect for me for Johan. I figured that the 5 would be a bit big - he was a 3T when I left, but we would have them to grow into, and I could get away with just buying a couple of pair of shorts. Well, I called and talked to the kids today, and I asked my neice to check Johans pant's and guess what size they are. Thats right, a 5T. It looks like I need to buy nothing for Johan either. I am blessed. God does provide.

Also reading that blog post from the Hayes, it made me realize, once again, that there is a reason for everything. And while things are not getting done according to MY plan, they are getting done according to HIS plan. Tile on the floor, well that money will come when it is time - again He does provide.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I fought the law, and the law won... (tons of pics today)

The law of gravity that is. You know, when I tell people my what has happened to me – breaking my ankle/foot/leg while chasing cows, then what happened this past Friday, I really look and sound like a clutz. But I’m not. Not really.

This past Friday I went to my moms house, like any other weekend. We did our normal stuff – she took me to run errands – and then after I put Levi to bed we went to Walmart. I had to do some window shopping for the baby. I mean after all, I only had 4 more weeks until I was going to be induced. So I wanted to get an idea of what I wanted to get for baby girl. My foot (the one I broke in Honduras) had been bothering me all day, so we kept our trip to Walmart short and headed home. Around 10:30 I decided that I was going to take a shower before bed and hoped that it would help my foot feel a bit better. So I did what I had to do to get ready for bed – you know, brush teeth, take meds, etc. etc. and around 11:00 was ready to get in the shower. I had the water on already so that it would be the right temperature, I opened the door to the shower, stepped in and then fell. I landed on the door track on my shin. It hurt like crap and I wanted to cry. But the funny thing was, as I was falling I tried to grab the wall (um smooth wall – nothing to grab onto, LOL) and in doing so, I knocked down the shower head – in this shower they have one of those hand held shower heads that you can take down, and so when I knocked it down, I was so worried about it spraying OUT of the shower, that I was only thinking of shutting the door so that I wouldn’t flood my moms bathroom. I wasn’t worried about me or anything else at that moment.

Lovely shots of the bruises from me falling...


I finally got up (my previously broken foot wasn’t co-operating) and even though my leg hurt, I took my shower. I then got out of the shower, got my nightgown on and went and sat on the bed. Within 5 minutes though I realized I was bleeding. No it was not my leg, it was the baby. I freaked out, jumped up, took off my nightgown (because it had blood all over it) wrapped myself in a hand towel – ok, so I didn't exactly wrap myself in it, but when I grabbed the towel, I didn’t realize it was a hand towel, and being fat and pregnant, and trying to cover myself with a hand towel, well I am sure I looked funny as hell. Anyway, I am running through my moms house a little after 11, naked besides the hand towel, and everyone is sleeping, and I am literelly gushing blood all over the house, and I am yelling for mom to wake up because we have to go to the hospital. She gets up, comes with me to the bathroom and I tell her to please get me some underwear and put some pads in it so that I can wash myself off again, get them on, and we can go. So she does, and I do, and then I get dressed and come out into the bedroom thinking my mom is ready to go to the hospital. I sat down on the bed and had to laugh.

My mom, who was thinking more clearly than I was, was still in her pj’s with rubber gloves on, and had the carpet cleaner and a brush out. She was cleaning the blood up off of the carpet. I am sittin here hurrying her along in my mind, and laughing out loud because she is cleaning the carpet. If It was me, I wouldn’t have thought of that. But she was right on 2 reasons. 1) She has white carpet, and do you know what happens when blood sits on white carpets??? Exactly. And more importantly 2) Rob was going to stay with the kids while she took me to the hospital, but I had woken up Jordan to come and sleep in the room with Levi in case he woke up. And if she woke up and saw all of that blood, she would have had a fit and been hysterical not knowing what had happened.

So we get the carpet cleaned up, and we make it to the hospital. I knew that I was going to have this baby that night, and I was ok with it. I was just worried that maybe something had happened to her and I prayed that she would be ok. So the doctor comes into the room and says it looks like you have had a placental abruption, and we are going to do an emergency c-section because the baby needs to come out NOW. And like that the room was filled with doctors. I made sure though that I spoke up and said what had been on my mind, and what was needed to be said.

“If you are going to cut me open, then I need you to tie my tubes”

The doctor asked me if I was sure, and I assured her that yes, 8 was enough, and if I was going to have any more children, they would be gifted to me, I would not be birthing them. So it was agreed. She told me that when I was in the OR signing the consent to surgery forms, she would also have me sign the consent to a tubal form. Only as they were putting me to sleep, they had yet to bring me the tubal forms. I had signed the other forms, just not the tubal. I was yelling that they either bring me the forms now, or they had better do the tubal, and I would sign them when I came too. They brought then as I was falling asleep, and I barely remember signing them. I just know that I did. And they keep telling me that they did the tubal as well. I guess I will see with in the next year if thats true or not, LOL.

The next thing I remember is waking up and the doctor askin me if I was in pain. Like a dummy I said No. Um, I was still under the influence of the general anesthesia, but yeah I was in pain. You just sliced me open, took out a baby, tied my tubes, and then stapled me back together. Do you even have to ask? Just give me the feel good meds man.

The next thing after that I remember is them telling me that the baby was ok, she weighed 6 pounds 2 ounces, and that I couldn’t see her now, but I could see her in the AM. I cried and cried and my mom finally went and took some pics on her cell phone of the baby for me. I really couldn’t see much, but I felt a bit better, and calmed down enough to go to sleep. I am sure whatever meds they put in my IV bag helped me calm down and sleep too. I don’t remember much else about the rest of the night except I was mad because I wanted someone to take off the massage leg things they put on your legs. It was hot in the room, and those things just made me that much hotter. But no one came into my room from 2:30AM until after 8AM.

It wasn’t until after 11AM that I was able to see my baby girl. She is so tiny. But for one that is 5 weeks early, she was pretty big. 6 pounds, 2oz and 19 inches long. She is darker than the rest of the kids, I think maybe even darker than Johan. So it looks like her and Johan are the only Spanish looking kids out of the bunch, LOL. And I just might be lucky enough to finally get a child with curly hair. But I wont hold my breath.

Oh, and her name… Well, let me introduce you to – Ari Geronima Santos Leon. (pronounced ah-ree heh-ron-E-ma) My pretty little girl.




Levi loves his baby sister - but for only 2 or 3 minutes at a time...

Jordan loves her baby sister all of the time...

Andre does too...


Look how little her arm is...




She is on a king sized bed. She looks so tiny. Well she is tiny, but still...


We are home now, and we are all doing well. Ari has jaundice, and while her numbers are still going up, they have slowed down in how fast they are going up, and the Dr. thinks that it should peak tomorrow. We will go in on Friday for her 1 week check up and if needed, we will have her blood drawn again.

Monday, March 2, 2009

When love isnt enough

Alot of people think that when they are planning on moving with (or following) their spouse that everything will work out fine with little to no problems. They figure that there love is enough to get you through the bad times. That's what today's post is about.

I was not naive enough to think that in moving to Honduras, that life would be all sunshine and rainbows and butterflies. I knew that there would be some major adjustments - I just was surprised at what we had to adjust to. Its nice to think that love is all you need. It would be nice if love would be enough to get you through the adjustments that are going to happen. Unfortunately, it isn't that easy.

Alot of people come to Honduras thinking that yes they will have to adjust to a new life, but that adjustment will be easy, and in the parts that aren't easy, well the spouse is there to help make things easier. The problem is, alot of time the spouse is adjusting to home again as well. Adjusting to the difference of reality, and what they remembered home to be. Some things are second nature for the native spouse, and they forget that the other spouse has no clue what to do, or what they are talking about. That becomes frustrating after a while - for both people.

In moving to another country, you are moving to another culture. Even if you think things aren't going to change - maybe your spouse is one way in the US, so you expect them to stay that way once they are home - they always do. Maybe not a huge change, but going home will change a person. They feel more comfortable in there own hogar (home), and they will change. Alot of times there is frustration at how there home land has changed, and how corrupt it is - and how people are content to just let the corruption go by without doing something about it. And they have no way to deal with that frustration, and that will change a person - decepcionado. (disappointed). These are things that people don't think about. Or they may think about it, but they don't realize how they impact a relationship.

When you are in a relationship, sometimes you take your frustration out on your husband/wife because they are there. And when your husband/wife feels frustrated because they see how people are content to deal with corruption, they have no way to deal with that frustration and it can eat away at a relationship.

Money problems also can affect a marriage. Here in the US there are money problems, but in Honduras they are magnified. While the dollar will go farther than a Lempira, alot of times you are not living on a dollar salary. You may be living on a better scale than alot of those around you (everyones situation is different) but alot of couples are still struggling. And struggling in Honduras is way different than struggling in the US. Added to the fact that usually it is a Honduran man and a gringa (or other nationality), and the man feels responsible for the family and sees that life is different in Honduras, and will think how much better life could be - material wise - in the US, and that thinking will add to the frustration.

So you see, there are a lot of things that aren't such a big deal, but when they are all put together they add up. The bickering can break down the communication between a couple, and if it isn't dealt with, it can cause problems. Unfortunately, due to many different issues, it isn't dealt with. I don't know the exact statistics, but I do know that there are many couples that come here with stars in there eyes, and in the end, the marriage fails. Or they end up moving back to the US a little more jaded. It takes a lot of hard work to get past it.

I don't always say something about this to people who are moving because it usually doesn't make a difference. Those people will say (to themselves - and sometimes out loud) well our love is strong enough. We can get through it, no problem. And no amount of me (or anyone else) saying that its hard will make a difference. Most people have to see for themselves. I pray for each couple that moves here because I know how hard it is, and how at times it is easier to say to yourself - is it worth it? Did I move thousands of miles, just to watch my marriage end. Is it easier to just say good-bye? I pray for there safety, there understanding - with each other, and with the surroundings, and with everything that is going on. I pray that they have patience with each other, and pray that they can make it past the adjustment period with there marriage intact and stronger than it was before they moved down here. And I pray that they don't become a statistic.