the New Year is fun, don't you think?
I'm not really prone to make insanely long lists of goals at the turn of the year.
(ok, fine . . . I'm not prone to make any list).
But still, I think that new beginnings are awesome;
a fresh start makes me happy.

I think that the joy and hope of a new start every year is
of the joy and hope that God gives us when we embrace his grace, find forgiveness in him, and delight in knowing and following him.  

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 2 Corinthians 5:17


One of our closest metro stations is metro Tacuba - - we use it often, since it takes us almost anywhere we want to go.  People warn us about Tacuba; they say it's infamous for robberies, and that we - being foreigners, should be particularly careful in Tacuba.

So we are cautious when we go - - we are keenly vigilant about our surroundings, we keep the kids close and don't carry anything too valuable with us.

We walked trough Tacuba last week, and as we passed a mama and her boy, I heard her scold him - "if you don't catch up, the white people are going to rob you and take you home with them!"

It made me cringe a bit, but it also made me laugh.
there we go, all worried about the bad guys . . .
and  there goes that little boy,
all worried about us.
(this picture has nothing to do with metro Tacuba ; it is the little market down the street from us - - all decked out for Christmas;  isn't it colorful?)


Also:  My kids have been begging for new school supplies for weeks now (apparently, Malachai has lost all but five of his coloring crayons, Selma's pencil is about an inch long, and if Josu has to erase something in class, he has to borrow an eraser from a classmate.) 

I was able to hold off long enough though, to fill their stockings with with all sorts of school supply delights!

You may call it stingy . . . I call it clever.


Our Christmas was quiet and sweet.  We had Christmas Eve dinner with Barry and Karla. Karla brought over the most amazing scalloped potatoes to eat with our Costco purchased spiral cut ham (salute to our American tradition), and we splurged and bought some jamon pata negra  (salute to our Spanish tradition).  My Spanish friends will be happy to know that I had to force my children to eat the American ham, and I had to make them stop eating the pata negra (uy! no sabeis lo que nos cobran aqui en Mexico por el jamon!)

We spent the last few days reading a lot from The Storybook Bible; have you read through this children's bible yet? It's our absolute favorite  . . . and if you haven't read it yet, you really, really should! (it's available in English and Spanish, so go on! you have no excuse not to buy it!)  We have been marveling about how The God of the universe drew near to mankind by actually becoming one of us . . . and wondering how we should draw near to those around us to let them know about God's amazing rescue plan. 

So, how was your Christmas?  Really, how was it?!  I missed so many of you - - from Spain to California;  I want to know about your Christmas - - who you spent it with, what you ate, what brilliant and thoughtful conversations you had . . . tell me all about it!

Christmas Eve:  we took the metro downtown with Barry and Karla.  We didn't go to see anything in particular  . . . we just went to see.  After lots of walking, and lots of seeing  I proposed that we go eat tacos, but Barry had a hankering for scrambled eggs and suggested we eat at Sanborns.

(goodness, how do I describe Sanborns?  It's maybe like the Mexican equivalent to Macy's?  I can just envision my classy grandma Billie wanting to lunch at Sanborns after a long morning of Christmas shopping!)

So we ate at Sanborns, and I was very glad we did (oh! The light! The tiles! The planet sized pinata hanging from the ceiling!)  I'm wondering if maybe we need to turn this into a Mexico City team Christmas Eve tradition . . . Karla, what do you think?  


On Friday Selma helped me make some sugar cookies to take to the posada we had this weekend; as we floured and rolled and cut she chatted with me:

Selma: "you can cook and Papa can't" 
me: "um, yep"
Selma: " well, Papa can do other things that you can't do"
me: "you bet!"
Selma: "like wrestle . . .well, you can wrestle, but you wrestle calmly"

That girl's got us nailed.


Joshua and I participated in a parent/child Christmas tree craft at Josu and Selma's school last week.  We cut foamy stuff and used hot glue guns and twisted sparkly pipe cleaners into miniature candy canes to hang on miniature tree branches.
The trees were as ugly as all get out,
But I didn't mind coming home with two gaudy miniature fake trees in my arms because I got to meet several moms for the first time, and we had some really good conversation!

We talked about Mexican Christmas traditions; We talked a lot about the posadas - - Mexican Christmas parties in which the the guests reenact Mary and Joseph's search for lodging in Bethlehem:  there is singing and and eating and pinatas, and at some point everyone sings a lullaby to a doll representing baby Jesus.

I'm particularly interested in understanding posadas;  they seem to be one of the prominent elements of Christmas celebration here;  we go to our first posada this weekend  . . . I'll let you know how it goes!

Also . . . it should be documented that yesterday I overheard Josu saying to Malachai:
"what if I was in heaven, and I saw Jesus.  I would probably fall over because he is so beautiful!"

True, Josu; he is beautiful;
so, so beautiful.


I took this picture four months ago, on the Saturday morning after we had finally purchased a dining room table. We had a bit of a celebration breakfast (i.e. I actually cooked something), which I had prepared primarily for my tender Josu, who had been begging me to buy  furniture for two solid months, and who was thrilled that we finally had a real table.

Since that first family breakfast at our big table, both of those glasses have broken and that plant has died. (I'll wait to expound on those details in another blog post)

Really though, I mostly want to stop for a second and marvel at the fact that we have been in Mexico for six months;
six months!
(go on now, marvel with me!)
and I want to tell you how good our God has been to us, because every single day has been filled up with these truths:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;

Lamentations 3:22-24


Aren't these ladies cute?  Judith is the sweet face on the right - - she is a member of a small church plant that our team has been interacting with over the past year. 

Yesterday we spent time with Judith and the church . . . and as the service began four young guys came in - - high on something.  I've never been in a church service quite like that one.  these guys were crazy and stinky;  they danced in the aisles; they called out song requests in the middle of the sermon; they tried to wrestle the microphone out of the teacher's hands so that they could rap . . .
We all fumbled our way through the service;  trying to respond appropriately to the unfamiliar scenario; and at the end of the service Judith wrapped her arm around the most obnoxious one (oh, I don't think this wiry little guy could have been older than 16);  she held him tight and stroked his cheek - - as if he was her own, and she prayed for him.  That boy stood still for the first time all morning; he stopped twitching and his face relaxed; he stood still until Judith finished.

I have been thinking about Judith for the past couple of days; I want my heart to be as bold and  tender as hers.
(please, please God . . . make me bold;  make me tender)


We went to the park last week to collect sticks and rocks to build a lodging of sorts for the nativity set.  It's all a bit precarious, held together by some twine and glue and strategically placed forked sticks; surprisingly, it hasn't fallen down yet (I wouldn't go so far as to call it a Christmas miracle . . . but close!)


a few things:

1. Oh! I forgot I took these pictures of our Saturday morning bible study . . .  we all liked Gaby's ponche, but I think that maybe Josu liked it more than anyone; sheesh, that kid is cute!

2. My next door neighbor knocked on our door yesterday, and told me that the previous tenants in our place had moved out because of the guy that lived in the lot behind us - - every night he would scream and break glass.  Ever since we moved in, she said, he stopped.  She wondered what little stars and angels we had brought with us to make him stop?
I told her that I don't think that we brought any little stars or angels with us . . . but that I do know that God is with us all the time.
(I'm thankful for this poignant glimpse into the ways that God cares for us)

3. I'm feeling like I would like some candles this Christmas season.  My floors are all tile, and my walls are all concrete blocks . . . if I'm going to bring fire into the house, it seems like this is the right year to do it, don't you think? 


Aaaah. Monday;
So, how was your weekend?
We spent Saturday morning with our bible study group.

Did you know that we had a Saturday morning bible study group? Edgar and Gaby introduced us to a group of their friends who had just gone through a marriage study together. A couple of them proposed that - since the marriage study was over,  we lead them in a parenting class of sorts . . . but then, after a rousing discussion over dinner, they put it to a vote and decided that what they really wanted was a study on the church and its purpose in the world.  We readily complied (um, of course we did . . . Jesus, his grace, and his plan for the church is what makes our hearts beat!)  

This sweet group has been a highlight of my week for the past couple of months. This weekend was no exception: Thank you Gaby for bringing ponche (I think ponche is like the Mexican equivalent of mulled apple cider); thank you Joshua for thinking to offer ponche to the guys outside who are painting our building; thank you Soco and Jorge for coming even after you had a flat tire; thank you Miguel Angel for asking the question "how can we know when it's the right time to plant a church?"; thank you Tania and David for being so disappointed that you couldn't make it to the meeting that you arranged a meal with us later on this week so that we could talk about the study; thank you Jackie and Pedro for hanging out for an extra hour after everyone left to wash my dishes and to provide interesting conversation!

(do you see why I love these guys?)


Selma and I spent some time last week, potting some plants up on the terrace - - I'm pretty sure that whenever we go up to water the flowers or to check on the potato plant that's growing in the compost pot, she thinks that we are gardening.
I wonder when she will realize that I have the world's lamest garden?

Maybe I've got a year, yeah?  I might be able to turn things around in one year . . . .

( I think that Selma looks like cousin Molly in this picture; 
family, what do you think?)


Our Thanksgiving was lovely and cozy.  We were joined by Barry and Karla - - they came with games and wonderful food and good stories . . . it was perfect!

I slept in this morning while Joshua took the kids to school (I'm telling you - - I live the perfect romance novel; I've got it good!), and when the kids came home I found out that they forgot to eat pie for breakfast so I gave them a good scolding,
and fed it to them for lunch.
(that should teach them!)


*watching Josu walk slowly down our driveway and then break into a gallop - - stripping off his jacket and backpack when he realized that the bounce house was for real
* my friend Gaby - - who talked me through the proper etiquette for throwing a child's birthday party in Mexico, and who then showed up three hours early to roll a billion taquitos and hang balloons 
*having ten mamas drink coffee around my table 
*getting to know FIFTEEN of Josu's sweet, funny classmates 

Not awesome:
*when the head of the birthday-candle-lighting-match dropped off into the shirt of a sweet baby girl who was standing close by
(you didn't even know that was possible? Me neither;  but now I know - - and now you know, and we will be better women for it, right?)


Josu was still sleeping this morning when I snuggled up close to him to sing him happy birthday.  He woke up half way through - - and he was smiling (so it couldn't have been too off tune, yeah?)
He said it was pretty good, but he wanted me to sing  Las Mananitas instead.
did it.
I also cooked him his dinner of choice - - eggs and bacon . . . and mangos
I made arrangements for a bouncy castle to be set up in our driveway tomorrow for when when we have his birthday party.
he's going to FREAK out when he sees it. (we avoid bouncy houses like the plague - - they either 1. cost money or 2. have huge lines)

Happy Birthday Josu!


November 20th is the day Mexico celebrates its revolution - - when the Mexican peasants rose up against the president/dictator Porfirio Diaz (that's the short version . . . I'm still learning)

So of course, at Josu and Selma's school the children danced and recited poetry.  Almost every child came with bullets strapped across their chest or with a weapon in their arms;  I guess I didn't get that memo.
So, this week:   On Tuesday we celebrate Josu's birthday, and then on Thursday we will have a thanksgiving dinner with Barry and Karla.  I'm responsible for: the turkey, corn, mashed potatoes, an apple pie and a pecan pie.  Pies are a big deal in my family - - in fact - - I think that probably, as I type this, all of my sisters and sisters in laws in the US are texting back and forth, working out the details of  the 24 hour pie baking marathon they are certainly going to have this week.
I used to be afraid of pies, but last year my sister Rachel discovered an amazing pie crust recipe (no really - - it's perfect!) and now I have no pie crust fears. 
What pies are you making for your Thanksgiving dinner this week?


We were invited to Dani's birthday party last weekend (he's a handsome five year old - - don't you think?)
Gabi and Edgar - - parents of the birthday boy, throw a good party; there were games and streamers, a pinata and a grill.

At the party Joshua and I met a new couple - - Arturo and Olga,  parents of one of Dani's classmates.  We found out that Arturo had lived for a year in San Francisco.  Oh goodness . . . I love talking to people who have been immigrants!  I love hearing about the individuals who befriended them, about the things that made them cry; the ways that their thinking was challenged, and the ways that their lives were shaped by their new country.   (Poor Arturo - - he thought he was just coming for a party; I don't think anyone warned him I would be there to interview him)

That night after our conversation, I laid in bed thinking about the ways that Spain shaped our family (I always cry a little when I think about that . . . I miss Spain), and wondered how Mexico will shape us (that excites me).

So I'm wondering how many of you have lived in another country;  and of course, I want to know how you have been shaped by that experience.  Tell me! I want to know.


Apparently high-end shopping doesn't start till late morning in Mexico city, and Sears  did not open till 11.  No biggie, though.  Barry and Karla's four years of Mexico City living  have made them a vast resource for downtown breakfasting locations, and they took us by the hand and led us to one of their favorite places. 

I enjoyed going with Barry and Karla to one of their spots (it's where they always go after they have an appointment at the immigration office!); they knew their way around the menu, and were tight with the waiting staff;

and somehow, participating in one of their routines makes  me feel  like I know them just a little bit better!


I love people watching.
here in Mexico, though, it gets bumped up to a whole new level;
(read it carefully - - it does make sense):
I love people watching the people who are people watching us!

This morning Joshua and I are meeting up with Barry and Karla;  we will take the metro downtown to have breakfast and our team meeting on the top of the Sears building.  it's supposed to have a spectacular view of the city.  I can't wait!


I was cooking dinner tonight, and Malachai - - who was still doing his homework,  called out from the other room:
"mama! What animal  is white like our skin? "
and then, before I could offer a brilliant suggestion (because I assure you it would have been brilliant), I heard him mutter . . . "oh yeah, a rabbit . . . "

Turns out, he had to write a poem about someone he cares for.
Here it is:

Mi Hermana
Tus labios como una fresa
Tu pelo como una fogata
Tan bella como una flor
Tu piel tan clara como una coneja
Y tan dormida como una golondrina

(a loose translation):

My Sister
Your lips are like a strawberry
Your hair like a bonfire
As beautiful as a flower
Your skin is as fair as a rabbit's
And you are as sleepy as a barn swallow


Our friends Casey and Alicia  spent last week visiting Mexico City;  they came to see our ministry and to spend time with us and Barry and Karla (because - - oh goodness! can this good news really be true?! - - they hope to join our team sometime next year!)

They  were good sports and followed us every where we took them  - - they squeezed in and out of the metro with us; they ate the food that got placed in front of them (the good stuff and the scary, unfamiliar  stuff); they met our friends and our neighbors; they washed our dinner dishes; they dreamed out loud with us about  how the power of the gospel could transform the city; they confirmed what we have been saying for months - - that our teammates Barry and Karla have a special sparkle that makes every child adore them . . .

Casey and Alicia are back home now,
and we miss them!
(and it makes me happy to think that someday soon Mexico City may be their home!)


And just like that.
Josu started rolling his R's.

That's a big deal around here.


Were you all praying for our dinner with Manuel and his family? You must have been, because we had a wonderful, beautiful night with them!

They did give me a good startle by showing up perfectly on time .  . . I wasn't ready (I was trying to purposely adapt to Mexican culture; I figured that they wouldn't show up for a least another half an hour), but I gave them all cutting boards and knives and put them to work in the kitchen.  And that was lovely - - because they did all the work while I got to ask all the questions.

We loved our time with them. 
We loved Manuel and Juanita's commitment to one another and to their family - - even through some unique life challenges;
we loved their four sweet girls; 
we loved hearing that one story about that time Juanita was crying on the eve of Three Kings day because they had no money to buy their girls gifts - - and how on that day a man on Manuel's trash rout asked him if he wanted a bag of old toys; the bag was filled with dusty, broken boxes filled with unused Barbie airplane and  kitchen sets - - and how Manuel and Juanita stayed up late dusting off the boxes and taping them up to give their girls the best Three Kings day ever.   (oh my goodness, you should have seen the girl's eyes shine - - even ten years later!)

It's been discussed and decided:  We're going to have them over again soon.


(our teammates Barry and Karla are traveling in the U.S. right now;  I am watering Karla's lovely garden while she is away  - - this is kind of a risk for Karla, since I have yet to prove myself as a true gardener;  but - - don't worry Karla! so far so good!)

I ran into Manuel last week;  Do you remember Manuel?  he's our garbage guy.
I caught him sitting on the curb down the street pounding away at a faucet.  was he fixing it? I asked.  No, he was just separating the copper from the aluminum because he could get different prices for each one.  Nice.

So I told him that Joshua and I had been talking, and that we wanted to invite him and his family over for dinner sometime so that they could give us their perspective on Mexico - - tell us what they love about their country, and tell us what things he has observed about our neighborhood.

Manuel seemed particularly uncomfortable with my dinner invite, so I quickly backpeddled.
"it's ok!"I told him "you don't need to come if you don't want to! . . . I know that we have only known each other for a little bit;  maybe you feel uncomfortable coming over?"

"No, no!" he told me
"It's just that people of your class don't usually eat with people of my class!" 

I told him that we don't follow those class rules.

Manuel, his wife, and his four daughters are coming over for dinner tomorrow
I'm super excited.


I buy my eggs at a little corner market next to the kid's school;  this is nice because I can buy them when I'm on my way home from picking the kids up from school - - which is about the time of day when my mind starts thinking about what meals I am going to feed my family during the next 24 hours.

So these eggs don't come in a dozen (nope . . . ); they are sold according to weight - - 1/2 kilo will get me about 8 medium sized eggs.  Also, they come packaged up in a plastic bag. That means that, between having to wrastle three children safely home and my own clumsiness, I can count on at least one of the eggs breaking before I get them from the corner market to my kitchen sink.

(any other questions about eggs?  anyone?  because I'm moving on . . . )

I was talking to a kind friend the other day about how I was adjusting to life in Mexico, and I told her that I think that I can compare my transition into my new culture to meeting someone new . . . has this ever happened to you?  Where you meet someone new, and you notice some flaws about her - - maybe she laughs too loud, or she has crooked teeth (or maybe she is very short and has freckles . . . )  and then, time goes by, and you spend time with this person; you laugh with her and cry with her and pray with her,  and before you know it, she is the most beautiful person you know - - her smile is lovely and her laugh is magical . . .
So I think I'm there:
noticing the flaws;
but I'm also hopeful, because I know that day will come,
when it will all be beautiful to me.


It's Monday morning.
Soon it will be time to pick up Josu and Selma from school;  I'll probably linger on the school patio with some of the other moms while the kids play together for just a bit longer.
And we'll probably talk about our weekends (because that's what moms do on Mondays, I guess)
I need to spend some time reflecting on my weekend before I go;
I've had a rich weekend 
enjoying my family,
enjoying the city,
enjoying the church.
I want to be purposeful about what I share. 


we went to the zoo yesterday;  I was brave and took my camera with me; I don't often take my camera if we venture out in the city - - it seems to attract a lot of attention, which is exactly what everyone tells me not to do if I can help it (ha!  as if I'm not already attracting attention just by taking my children out with me!) 

So I'm wondering (eesh! Am I really saying this?) if I should use that birthday money that I've been saving, to  . . .
buy another camera;
Something smaller
that I can take out with me
into busy public spaces?

Do any of you have a point and shoot that you are crazy about?  please tell me about it! Rant and rave about it, and tell me what you love about it . . . please?


I found out last week that Selma's classroom has a window that opens up onto the street I walk along to pick her up from school.  And, on nice days - - when the window is left open, I can stand by the window and catch snippets of three year old chatter.  Yesterday I stood by the window, and I filtered out all the voices except for Selma's (it wasn't hard - - she yells):

I didn't hear her using any English (hurrah! that's new!);
her conversations seemed to be a fair mixture of Spanish and some sort of gibberish that I believe she thinks is Spanish (she's very cute!)

next week she is in a school play about Columbus' (apparent) discovery of America, and so we are practicing her lines;  she (as one of the natives) says:
siete nativos fuimos llevados a Espana
(seven of us natives were taken to Spain)

She's almost got it.


The boys have been combing their hair before school.
Maybe it's because last month Malachai had a substitute teacher yell at him and tell him he had better come to school with combed hair the next day (or else! . . . ).
Or maybe it's because they heard that nicely combed hair helps prevent a lice epidemic.
Or maybe because all the other boys show up at the school gate with slickety-slick hairdos every morning.

they are very handsome with combed hair
(but I think that I might make a house rule that they are not allowed to comb their hair on weekends)