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2012: The Practice Run

Today I decided to try out a New Year’s Resolution.  I’d hate to give it a go tomorrow for the very first time only to fail so early in a fresh year. No, I decided I’d rather add it to my tally for 2011.  So today…

I went for a jog.

Now, typically I have a very firm “no jogging” policy. It’s been in place as long as I can remember. I don’t run unless I’m being chased by a pack of wild dogs or the police.  Just common sense, if you ask me.

This strategy was not common sense for my high school basketball coach, who met with me in his office at the beginning of each season to discuss “where I was at.”  What follows? A lot of questions about my off-season training, shoe shuffling and stuttering from me, a few statements that were supposed to inspire or scare me, several direct comments that I was pitifully out of shape, and me skipping happily away.  (I do not have rules about skipping.) 

Nevertheless, I played hard because I love basketball and I do also run when I’m trying to beat tiny, blonde girls from Lexington. After playing entire games back-to-back nights, my coach said kind things about me in the paper like “that was all heart.” I think he was trying to nicely say “she didn’t train at all.” I say it was less about heart and more about my steady diet of Hot Tamales, but whatever.

This fall, though, I had a devastating experience. I signed Billy and myself up for a 5K Scavenger Hunt. Purely focused on the scavenger hunt and not at all on the 5K part, I trained not at all.  When “go” was shouted, I took off running. 

I learned two things: I am no longer 17.  And that my heart has aged accordingly… along with my lungs and legs.

So I walked most of the 5K with my dear husband, who politely strolled with me, though I know he was secretly thinking, “I can’t believe we have to stay with our partner”… in more ways than one.  That day I made a decision: I will not sign up for another 5K. 

But today, I got the urge to be a bit more in shape and the dog needed to exercise and I’m not a member of a gym… so you can see where this is going.  I pulled out my jogging shoes I purchased about seven years ago and have walked in nearly every day since.

All in all, the experience was fine. I was almost hit by a texting bicyclist, but besides that… uneventful. I mean, I couldn’t breath, but I think that’s par for the course.

Will this be a New Year’s Resolution?

Let’s not get carried away. I think I’d rather try this at a less pressure-packed time than January. But it was fun-ish, so we’ll see…

What are your resolutions? Do you also hate running? There's gotta be at least one....

For My Daughter On Her Birthday

I’ve started and restarted this post several times, so sure I knew what I wanted to write, but utterly unable to craft it on paper.  My daughter is one year old today.

I am so joyous and delighted in her little life and personality.  I am utterly exhausted and thrilled to have survived the longest year of my life.  I am deeply honored to be her mother.

For some unknown reason, my reflections on this auspicious day spilled out in poem-ish form:

My dearest Gabriella:

You have opinions and ideas and a fierce independence.
You are a strong girl, and I love that about you.

You laugh when the dog gets in the bathtub and you smile all the time.
You have a spunky sense of humor, and I love that about you.

You are exuberant and wild with enthusiasm, kicking your legs in excitement.
You learned to dance before you learned to walk, and I love that about you.

You have insatiable curiosity and intense concentration when examining something new.
You explore every facet of the world, and I love that about you.

You wave to strangers and don’t miss a beat of what’s happening around you.
You always make people smile, and I love that about you.

You suffered with me… through my short temper… my craziness… and my inexplicable crying. 
I survived with you… through your short temper… craziness… and inexplicable crying.

We laughed a lot, danced dances and sang songs, and we traveled together across the globe.
It’s been a hard year… a good year.
 
Happy Birthday, my little one.  
Happy Birthday, Ella!

Listen, stay alert, stand tall in the faith, be courageous, and be strong. Let love prevail in your life, words, and actions. 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (The Voice)

Traditions of a Bicultural Christmas

I’ve almost never been able to sleep on Christmas Eve. Even in young adulthood, I was too excited.  I would wake up several times during the night and then burst into my younger sister’s room at the earliest hour she had previously agreed to in order to wake her up.

It turns out that Billy also wasn’t sleeping much on Christmas Eve, or Nochebuena, either because this is the time of the major Christmas celebration in Latin America.

The 24th is a busy day, and Billy’s family would spend the daylight hours traveling around the city visiting family and friends, wishing them good cheer. Then, everyone waits together until midnight, ushering in Christmas Day with hugs and kisses and… of course… fireworks.  After these celebrations, presents are opened and a festive Christmas dinner awaits. 

Around 3am, Billy would fall into bed.  I would wake up about two hours later.  So now, like all couples, we have merged our family traditions, and in this case, cultural celebrations for our bicultural Christmas.

The other day on Facebook SpanglishBaby asked families which they celebrate… Nochebuena or Christmas Day? A lot of folks responded “both” and I think we are moving in that direction. 

Last year, we ate our Christmas tamales, albeit at 6pm rather than 2am, and attended the Christmas Eve service at church.  We then waived our inside-the-city-limits-approved sparklers before heading to bed at a reasonable hour.  Christmas morning we enjoyed a special breakfast (my preference over a turkey dinner), read the Christmas story, and opened gifts together.  It was a fun merger of two families and two cultures.

What traditions have you chosen to include in your celebrations? If your family is multicultural, how have you merged different cultural practices? And if your bicultural life includes Latin America, I pose the same question: Do you celebrate Nochebuena, Christmas Day, or both?



Advent: Celebration

What does it mean to celebrate the arrival of the Christ?

Our culture has decided that the Christmas celebration includes lavish gifts, choral productions, and lots of baked goods. We toast and dance at wedding parties. Athletic celebrants dump water on coaches, tear down goal posts, scream and shout. At graduations, we toss our hats in the air.

I like these images. 

Some of my favorite life memories involve arm waving and some form of the phrase “whooo hoooo.”  But as I reflect on celebration this Christmas season, none of these expressions resonate with my heart about the arrival of the Christ child.

Instead, I am reminded of quieter moments after all our wedding guests had departed and Billy and I drove away sharing our amazement that we were married and grateful to begin this journey together. More recently, my daughter’s 1st birthday party was a joyous celebration, but I found myself cuddling her in stolen minutes, whispering my love and delight. There’s something beautiful about celebrating the relationships within the events.

Intimacy…thanksgiving…delight.   

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in a manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.  The shepherd returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. (Luke 2:16-20)

There’s a lot of celebration in these verses. I imagine there is a lot of hugs, arm waving, singing, and the like.  But then there’s this one, quiet verse. Mary is gathering everything and keeping it in her heart. 

This final week of Advent and last week before Christmas, I wish you baked goods and dancing and whooping and hollering.  But I also wish you intimate moments with Christ, whispering all your gratefulness and heartfelt affection.  May we celebrate the beauty of our relationship with Christ and we reflect on the arrival of a newborn baby.  

How do you celebrate the arrival of Christ? 

All of this year's Advent series:
Week 1: Expectation
Week 2: Patience
Week 3: Contentment
Week 4: Celebration

My Dream Life as a Juror


Jury Summons.

It was bound to happen. I mean, I thought I had moved frequently enough to avoid such a call to duty, but I guess my time in Atlanta has been long enough to move me to the top of the list. 

I have actually always really wanted to be on a jury.  I used to go with my students in LA to sit in on court cases.  Yes, you know how they say like “the people vs. your mama”? Well, it turns out everyone except your mama is part of the prosecution team, so you can just walk in and have a seat in the back.  (Now, in LA, I think they have different protocol when its, say, “the people vs. Lindsay Lohan.” I don’t think they let just anyone in….)

Anyway, it probably goes without saying that the whole situation is very un-TV like. The characters are much less “I-used-to-be-a-model-until-I-got-this-gig,” and more “ok….so I looked at this case about 5 minutes before I walked into this room….”

But what is unbelievable is the painfully detailed and slow question asking. I once watched a phone company representative grilled over the minutia of looking at someone’s cell phone records.  C’mon, people! We all know what it means to look at someone’s phone records. We have at some point – whether by choice or by accident – watched an episode of CSI.

So it was this kind of painstaking question-asking that created great suspense and drama in the courtroom of Judge Ito (in case you’re wondering… yes, from the OJ Simpson trial). 

“What did you do next?”
“I walked outside.”
“What did you see?”
“A blue Oldsmobile.”
“Was anyone inside?”
“Yes.”
“Could you see them?”
“Yes.”
“Who was inside?”
“Johnny.”
“Where was he sitting?”
“In the driver’s seat.”
“What happened next?”
“I picked up a crowbar off the ground.”
“Which side of the car where you on?”
“The passenger’s side.”
“What did you do next?”
“I walked around to the back of the car.”
“Are you referring to the trunk of the car?”
“Yes.”
“What happened next?”
“I asked Johnny to pop the trunk.”
“What happened next?”

“JUDGE ITO!”

Yes, that’s right. A juror began shouting in the middle of this blow by blow account of walking through a warehouse parking lot with a crow bar. 

“I think I’m going to throw up!”

Judge Ito shooed her out of the room and quickly called a recess.  Sadly, our group had to leave, so I am left to wonder what was in the trunk, what happened with the crowbar, and what happened to Johnny.  But I soon may not be left to wonder what it’s like to be on a jury.

Given my fanatical love for the movie Runaway Jury and taking students to visit about six court cases, I have constructed the following expectations:

I expect to be sequestered.

I expect to hear defendants being referred to by their “street” names, which I will think is totally inappropriate.

I expect someone to shout “Objection!”

I expect to have my life or the lives of my loved ones threatened.

I expect phrases like “beat me with the trophy” and “I jumped on my scooter and got outta there!”

I expect my phone records to be accessed.

And I expect to disrupt the trial by shouting and running out of the room.

I guess I should call these my “hopes and dreams” rather than expectations because the form I had to fill out asked me what car insurance I have.  Still…. keeping my fingers crossed that at some point I will receive a note with letters cut out from magazines.

Unfortunately, this particular jury summons comes at an inopportune time. I guess if it seems like I'm going to be chosen, I can just mention that I love to blog and if listening to a trial is all I'm doing for a month, that's what I'll be writing about... 

Have you ever been a juror? How did it compare to your expectations? Did you witness things that surprised you about the justice system? 


Advent: Contentment

I am used to celebrating Joy on the 3rd week of Advent… you know, the special pink candle and all…  But this year, I am drawn to a focus on contentment, which I think might be the quieter sister of joy.

Where happiness seems to be something we are endlessly pursuing, joy and contentment hold a steadfast quality that I deeply desire.

I am reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s Committed, which could be described as a sociological memoir about marriage. Something she wrote resonated with me deeply about life in general and this topic of contentment. 

In a world of such abundant possibility, many of us simply go limp from indecision.  Or we derail our life’s journey again and again, backing up to try the doors we neglected on the first round, desperate to get it right this time.  Or we become compulsive comparers – always measuring our lives against some other person’s life, secretly wondering if we should have taken her path instead” (p46). 

But in another book, the good ‘ole Apostle Paul tells us, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” (Phil 4: 11-12) And that secret is…

No, Paul doesn’t really say. Oh… wait. The next verse is the one that reads, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Phil 4:13)

Maybe I thought it’d be more complicated. Maybe I want it to be more mysterious. Maybe I don’t fully understand what it means in its simplicity.  What I really wanted was Paul’s 5-Step Plan for Contentment.  So… I created my own.  Well, it’s only Sarah’s 3 Suggestions for Seeking Contentment through Christ.

Thanksgiving

I know… that holiday’s over, this is supposed to be about Advent. But sometimes I notice that when I’m looking ahead a lot… expecting… that I forget to look around.  This Advent season I am becoming aware of some specific elements in my life for which I am thankful. Some of them, I am realizing, have replaced things that I thought I wanted instead, and I find I have spent more time mourning that loss than giving thanks for the newness around me. 

 Fixed Focus

The difference between the Gilbert and Paul quotes above?  One is focused on looking at self and other people while the other is focused on Jesus.  I want to keep my eyes so firmly fixed on Christ that I do not doubt the directions where He has led me because I see He’s leading someone else somewhere different.

Asking

Maybe I shouldn’t have written anything else in this post except the Philippians verse and this question: Have I ever asked God to help me in my contentment? If Paul is telling us the truth, then God will give us strength to know this quiet peace of being content.

I pray contentment for you this Advent… whether materially, relationally, stationally, or any other context that ends in –ly. And if you have other additions for our “Suggestions for Seeking Contentment through Christ,” I’m all ears!    

If you are keeping up with this year’s Advent series, here are past posts...
Week 1: Expectation
Week 2: Patience

Or continue on to Week 4: Celebration

Ode to Coke

Coke is kind of like my syrupy-sweet nemesis… maybe “frenemy” is the word I’m looking for. 

I love it and I hate it. 

I love it because… well, it’s delicious.  It’s all fizzle-y and soda pop-y with bubbles and sweetness.  (I should definitely get a gig copy writing for the Coca Cola corporation.)

I hate it because… well, it does nothing good for me, my waistline, or my teeth.  Even if the Coke museum practically guarantees you’re basically drinking a glass of water with a little sweetener in it, I’m not buying it. 

My travels in Central and South America have assured me that I am not the only Coke-lover in the world.  In fact, Mexico is hailed as the country with the highest per capita consumption of the drink. 

Still, just because the bright red can made it across the border doesn’t mean everything is the same.

Temperature

Imagine my surprise one hot summer in Guatemala when the guy behind the counter asked me if I wanted my Coke cold or room temperature.  Um…. room temperature Coke? Um… no, gracias. 

Fancy Factor

Argentina kept Coke in the fridge, but ice was a little trickier to come by.  When we requested it, it might be carried to our table in a silver bowl with scalloped tongs.  In our own apartment, we acclimated to chugging chilled Coke from wine glasses. Now home in the States, I have missed swirling Coke around in a sophisticated cup.

To Go

When we pulled over at a roadside restaurant driving through rural Guatemala, Billy was overwhelmed with glee ordering me a coca para llavar (Coke “to go”).  Since restaurant proprietors receive money back for returning the glass bottles, they naturally poured my Coke into a plastic sandwich bag and gave me a straw. 

Coke = Coke

I’m from the South, where “I’d like a Coke” can naturally be followed with the question, “Which kind?”  Because Coke can mean Coca Cola classic, but it can also mean Sprite, Dr. Pepper, Cherry Coke, or even Pepsi.  It’s a substitute for other regional terms like soda, pop, or carbonated devil juice.  You’ll rarely catch Billy drinking anything other than the real thing, but after four months in Argentina, I couldn’t wait to drink a big cup of Dr. Pepper… with ice. 

So my relationship with Coke continues. I pseudo gave it up for a while, but since I had a baby, I’ve been on a steady IV drip of sugar and caffeine.  I think Coke and I are set for the next 18 years. 

Advent: Waiting Patiently

This toy is neat.  Hmmm… I think I’m a bit thirsty.  Yes, that’s it.  Hello? Mom?  I’m a little thirsty.  Yes, my throat is dry… it’s actually becoming parched.  

Mom.  Please intervene quickly.  My mouth is dry as a desert in July.  Bring milk.  Bring it quickly please.  I think I’m in the early stages of dehydration.  Yes, my skin has lost all elasticity.  I am so thirsty!  

Bring milk!  MOM!  DO YOU HEAR ME?  Maybe if I start banging stuff.  Thrashing around?   

MOM!! MILK!  MILK! MILK! I CANNOT LIVE ANOTHER MOMENT!... [choke. gasp.] End Scene.

When I started praying and asking where to focus this Advent, waiting patiently kept coming to mind.  But I have nothing to say about patience because I possess absolutely none.  My daughter did not come by her stellar theatrics accidentally.  That gift was from me.

But watching her escalate from content to desperate in five seconds flat has also made me wonder what God must see when He looks at me.  It also causes me to reflect on what He might desire of me when it comes to waiting patiently.

Silence

For crying out loud… would you please stop crying out loud? I am preparing milk as fast as I can scoop and level! Sometimes I want to explain to my daughter that I am in the process of meeting all her needs beyond her wildest dreams, but the whole experience would be a lot more enjoyable if she could just chill out and stop screaming for a moment. 

When I feel desperate for an answer from God, I make a lot of noise.  I pray passionately, begging God for a response.  I talk with my peeps, weighing every angle and detailing every possible action and reaction.  Maybe I should stop talking, see that God is working, and wait patiently for His results. 

Stillness

Even if my daughter were silent… the arching back, the supersonic flapping arms, the flailing that usually ends with banging her head on something… these motions still convey all her anxiety, her panic, her desperation. 

My wringing hands, my tears, my obsessive hair twirling probably don’t align with Scripture that says to be still and know that I am God.  My body betrays my inability to wait patiently hanging onto trust that God will arrive in my situation.

Awaiting the arrival of Christ this Christmas season, I desire to wait patiently.  I am seeking ways to incorporate stillness and silence even though I am sometimes feeling desperate for Him to show up, to hear me, and to respond. 

How do you wait patiently on God?  How do you make space for still silence in the pace of your life?

See the first in this year's advent series here. Continue to Week 3 (Contentment) here.  

The Simple Drama of Black Friday

“Sarah… will you be crazy with me?”

Who can say no to that question?

Especially when your husband is smiling at you with big brown eyes promising you the same romance and adventure as when he asked you to marry him….

And that’s how I ended up at Wal-Mart at 1am on Black Friday.

I’ve never really “done” Black Friday before… except once… when my family was staying in a hotel across the street from a shopping center. I vaguely remember sitting on the floor of an electronics department at 5am or something trying to decide about a camera.

If there’s one thing I know about myself it’s that I’m indecisive, which does not bode well for a person on Black Friday when quick, bold ACTION is required. This year was nothing different as I was fretfully debating our purchase of a TV all the way to the store. After all, aren’t “my kinda people” supposed to “Buy Nothing” on Black Friday in silent protest of all things materialistic. Are we even supposed to own a TV at all?

I preemptively established a code word “Avocado,” which I informed Billy could be loosely translated two ways. If he heard me shouting it faintly from behind, he should assume it meant “Stop walking so fast and turn around.. I’m being trampled by a mob!!!” If I’m bellowing it loudly while chasing behind him towards the check-out line, my meaning is “Don’t be that crazy! Why are you buying such a big TV? Avocado! AVOCADO!”

The parking lot was packed and when someone crashed into the cart return while trying to beat us to a parking space we weren’t even planning to pull into, I knew it was going to be my kind of night. The energy was palpable and new friends just a “Can I borrow your sale paper?” away.

Stores have really gotten a handle on the whole mob scene, though, so it was less “let’s-race-to-electronics” and more “please-wait-in-line-here.” That’s fine… it gave me the opportunity to pick up some diced tomatoes while Billy stood in line.

It was during my store-wide browsing (which was impeded by the maze-like line routes set up all over the store) that I learned we were in line ONLY for the bigger TV of the two between which we were debating. I scurried back to my husband who had moved up in line.

“How is this possible?” I asked him since they had yet to start selling people TVs. He gleefully detailed how the masses can’t follow directions and when they were handed a ticket, they rushed layaway only to be told they must return to line. Billy took advantage of the foolishness of mobs to move closer to the front.

I responded with my news that we were waiting for the bigger TV and maybe we should change lines because don’t we value simplicity and shouldn’t that mean a small TV or should we even really be here buying a TV at all?! AVOCADO! He looked at me, held up a slip of paper and dismissively said, “I already got a ticket.” Case closed.

We were now in line behind a woman who can only be described as an SNL sketch of a Wal-Mart customer… frizzed out perm, NASCAR t-shirt and all. To hear Billy tell it, she was also wearing a sweat band, jogging in place, and frantically warning the layaway rush mob of the error of their ways. I can neither confirm nor deny this.

Calmly and orderly, we were eventually awarded our TV and allowed to pay practically pennies for it at checkout. Billy did leave me alone with it while he went to acquire cables. When someone rushed me wanting to know how much I paid for it, I felt fear I might get punched, elation of the drama of it all, and moral ambiguity about if this was God telling me to give it away. I was not punched, nor did I pay it forward.

So now we have a new TV. I believe I was disdainful of it for the appropriate amount of time before I have decided to embrace it fully. Because let’s be real… it’s simply awesome.

Advent: Expectations

Advent snuck up on me this year.  Ironic?  Maybe...  But my hope is that by writing another Advent series this year, Christmas won’t catch me by the same surprise.

Last year, the anticipation of my own Christmas child walked alongside preparations for the celebration of the Christ child’s birth.  When I reflect on that journey this year, I wonder: How can you prepare for or even anticipate something that is unknown… when you actually have no idea what to expect?  I was waiting for a baby last year, but I actually didn’t have a single clue what I was getting into.   

My response is to create my own expectations despite my cloudy understanding.  And I think I do the same with Jesus.  When we anticipate His arrival, how do we wait in expectation without forming our own limited expectations?

This year I find my self in a place of waiting for the unknown.  I sense that something new is around the corner… like aching knees before a rainstorm… but I don’t know exactly what it is.  So we’ve been praying a lot and asking God to show up… to guide… to direct.  But, of course, I have all these preconceptions and directions for God in that process.

So as I reflect on awaiting the Christ child, I wonder how much of self I still must purge from my expecting.  How do I come before God and say: I’m expecting you to BE… in your own time… in your own way… on your own terms…? 

The reality is that if my expectations aren’t met, I am often disappointed.  But the very nature of expecting God includes an element of expecting the unknown, which means I must approach the Christmas season with humility and reverence. 

This first week of Advent as I dwell in expectation, I am simultaneously asking God to remove my expectations.  Expectation should be a posture… not a checklist. 

God, grant me the mercy and grace to wait on YOU this Christmas.    

What expectations do you place on God?  How do you respond when they are not met?  How are you waiting in a posture of expectation this Christmas?

Continue in this year's advent series here.  

Thanksgiving Lessons

The day before Thanksgiving I threw caution to the wind and braved the grocery store. 
After witnessing several moms navigating the narrow, crowded aisles with carts led by a massive, plastic car for two children to drive (have you seen these?!), I made an important decision.

When Ella asks to ride in one of these monstrosities, I will use a proven strategy my parents perfected when my sister and I asked to go to Disneyworld.  I will tell her she’s too little.  I will repeat this mantra until it becomes appropriate to switch it up and tell her it’s for little kids and that she’s too big.  That’s my plan… we’ll see how it all works out…

This was one of my Thanksgiving lessons, but the season has of course, also encouraged me to reflect on what I am grateful for this year.

This year has been a tough one… the adjustment to parenthood, four months outside the country, and several areas in life where I have experienced “unsuccess” (“failure” felt a little too dramatic).  My expectations have been shifting to the point of obliteration. 

I find myself glad to be nearing the end of 2011, yet not sure exactly what to expect for the future.  Still, I know that God calls us to give thanks regardless of our circumstances, and as I appreciate this year, I am grateful for how God has revealed His deep faithfulness.  I have felt connected to God in new ways and through these difficult seasons have experienced renewed positivity and joy, fresh ideas, and greater confidence and purpose in following God.

Give thanks with a grateful heart.  Give thanks to the Holy One. Give thanks because He’s given Jesus Christ, His son.  And now let the weak say I am strong.  Let the poor say I am rich because of what the Lord has done for us.  Give thanks.

What are you giving thanks for today?

Photo credit: Dave Di Biase

     


Bringing Home Baby

This past weekend, two related things happened:

1. I started planning my daughter’s 1st birthday party, which (shockingly!) is only a few weeks away.

2. While looking for a notebook to write in, I came across this detailed log, which tracked every feeding and diaper (including content descriptions) of her first days at home.  Needless to say, this obsessive practice didn’t last long…


These two events take me back in time to eleven months ago when our family made our great escape from the hospital and embarked on parenthood those first, wild days. 

Our stay had been marked with unexpected events that were rapidly chipping away at my fragile confidence of early motherhood.  An unplanned C-section… a daughter who screamed so loudly when hungry that even the lactation consultant was shouting, “Just give her the bottle!”… and a NICU doctor that informed me he could not release my daughter into my custody because I wasn’t feeding her fast enough.

When they finally placed her in my arms, five days after birth, we were ecstatic, disbelieving, and eager to get home as soon as possible… which was perfect timing, since the hospital staff had told us it was time to leave. 

The great thing about leaving the hospital is that they load you up with goodies before rolling you out the door.  Our wheelchair/cart was piled high with diapers, bottles, formula, snot suckers, pacifiers, and anything else “baby” you can imagine.  Still, I felt somehow like I was stealing it.

My adrenaline was pumping as I waited for Billy in the freezing cold.  I was kidnapping my baby and fifty diapers… we needed to get out of here! When he arrived, the nurse helped us load the car.  I hadn’t thought to bring any bags, so loose items were spilling off the cart and rolling on the ground while we tossed duffels, pillows, three bottles, a jacket, one snot sucker, two more bottles, and a thousand other miscellaneous items into the car at rapid speed. 

It turns out we should’ve practiced for this moment because when we laid Ella into her car seat, we discovered we had no idea how to work it.  There were nylon straps, various items that appeared to need to “click” somewhere, ambulances racing past us, and a nurse waiting in the desperate cold for us to finish up.  Finally, I blocked her body from the view of the nurse I was sure would take her back if we proved unworthy, tossed a blanket on top of her, and shouted to Billy, “Go, go, go!” 

We pulled over at a gas station down the street to strap her in correctly.  Ella was fussing and crying out when she suddenly made a sound.  Billy looked at me.  “She just said, ‘Help!’” 

Apparently, spending the first five days with professional caregivers had been okay by Miss Ella. She panicked now realizing she was clearly in the hands of amateurs  who couldn’t even buckle a car seat!  It turns out that her being in the baby nursery had spoiled us as well.  We got home and quickly realized, “This is it… we’re on our own.” 

Thank God for my mom, who decided to give us the first night off so we could recover from the tumultuous hospital stay.  I’m still not entirely sure what happened, but I know I woke up the next day to find an empty crib… my daughter sleeping in a twin bed… my mother passed out on the bedroom floor… and empty baby bottles strewn everywhere.  It was like a scene in a movie… or a little baby frat house.

It has certainly been a wild ride, and I’m excited to celebrate her birthday in a few weeks.  I’m sure I’ll be writing more about that as we get closer.  I can’t believe it’s almost been a year.  Then again, I also can’t believe we made it through that first week.

You Have the Right to Remain Silent

Strangely… I have had several opportunities to be arrested.  Wait… opportunities?  Is that a tricky way of saying “I-have-broken-the-law-and-not-been-caught”? 

Oh, no. I could never handle the guilt of evading the law. I’m more a “turn-yourself-in-while-crying-hysterically” kinda girl. 

Nevertheless, because I have encountered so many passionate, deeply caring people in my life, they have often made decisions to engage in civil disobedience.  Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. are often cited examples of leaders who encouraged groups to nonviolently disobey unjust laws in a stand of protest against injustice. 

I have never chosen to get involved in these actions, and part of my reason is because some of the opportunities have not been focused on breaking unjust laws, but rather organizing mass arrests of a minor law in order to draw attention to an important issue.  I understand the premise, but I have abstained.

Lately, though, I cannot get away from punitive, mean-spirited state laws passed in Alabama and Georgia this summer.  I think about them often.  (Is this not normal?)  My heart aches that states have chosen to deal with this complex, intertwined, personal issue with such broad-sweeping, bitter strokes.

But I have also started thinking about the unintentional opportunities of these and any future harsh laws. It turns out I may get arrested after all…

Because I will not follow any law that says I cannot welcome the stranger into my home (aka harboring an illegal alien) or drive friends in my car (aka transporting illegal aliens).  The Bible told me to care for my neighbor and to welcome the stranger.

If I have to choose between God’s commandments and man’s… well, I choose God’s.  I try to respect the law, and I am in no way advocating all law be ignored.  Immigration is an issue that does need to be addressed on a governmental level.    

However, I will not check the papers of guests on my doorstep as if that screening will determine how I treat you.  No, I will not.  And if that’s breaking the law… well, there you go…

It is my hope that the “lines in the sand” being drawn by politicians will actually have the unexpected result of mobilizing formerly silent or unengaged peoples in the church to stand up against injustice.  Now we’re starting to have some laws worth breaking!

I might just wait a minute before turning myself in, though…

Photo Credit: Penny Mathews

Lessons from Cross-Cultural Marriage: The Power of the Holy Spirit

The service had ended and I was walking down the church aisle drinking from a water bottle. The people around me chased after their children. The worship band packed up instruments. And a woman stood on the stage giving what I assumed were general announcements in Spanish.

Then my brain translated her saying “the girl that only speaks English.”

Earlier in the evening my monolingual skills had been introduced to the church, so I knew it was me. Confirming it, a boy of about 10 walked up to me and said, “She’s talking to you. Go down to the front.”

Oh, dear.   

Nervously, I walked towards the stage, making frenzied eye contact with my husband who was helping pack up the band.  What I had believed to be announcements, I now realized were prophecies.

Sure enough, the minister was speaking enthusiastically in my direction, and I couldn’t understand a word. Thankfully, a 14-year old boy near me generously translated, which became awkward when he started talking about God blessing my womb.

A couple of weeks ago, I began a three-part series on lessons from a cross-cultural marriage.  Therefore, today I give you…

Lesson 3: The Power of the Holy Spirit

I grew up in churches where the Holy Spirit wasn’t necessarily talked about. I don’t think anyone was particularly avoiding the topic, it just never seemed to come up.  The Holy Spirit did come up the first time I met my future mother-in-law, and it has been a major area of faith and spirituality that I have learned from marrying a Latino. 

Billy has talked me through services where worshipers fell to the ground and he pointed out to me how Godly leaders can guide and direct this activity. He has taught me to listen to prophecies, hold them loosely, and to give glory to God if they are fulfilled because that is the proof that it was from God.  He is emphatic that you do not connive or manipulate a prophesy to become true.  If it is from God, it will be true.

Billy has witnessed modern-day loaves and fishes being multiplied to feed more than is humanly possible.  He has prayed for people with leprosy and seen God decide to heal.  It’s incredible to hear these stories of God’s power, and it encourages my spirit and faith with fresh fire.

When I hear him talk of being in the Spirit’s presence, I am captivated with new longing to know God.  Miracles, prophecies, healings… these are not areas of Christianity with which I am familiar or, quite frankly, often comfortable.  However, I cannot deny that they are Biblical.  And though there are certainly manipulators and deceivers out there, I cannot throw out the baby with the bath water, if you will.

This area is probably one that has been the most transformative, most exciting, and most frightening for me.  I definitely cannot say that I can speak confidently about the work of the Spirit.  I can, however, recommend some books I’ve read: Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire by Jim Cymbala and Forgotten God by Frances Chan.  I will also add that I believe this is one of the most powerful things that the American church could learn from immigrant congregations in our midst.   

What role has the Holy Spirit played in your spiritual walk?  What is comforting or exhilarating to you?  What is unsettling or frightening?

If you'd like to read the rest of this series, start at the beginning.

Corn, Coffee, and the Inspiration of Immigration

Last week I had the fun privilege to speak to group of college student leaders at the NCMSLC conference.  I was asked a question about how to approach immigration at a time in our country’s life where the working poor and middle classes are struggling.

I gave an answer, but as I’ve had more time to reflect, I think I want a do-over.  So here goes…

I don’t really think that the US economic system should shoulder the responsibility of creating jobs for anyone who decides to come here. I’m not saying that I don’t think it could, but I don’t necessarily think it needs to.

Many immigrants I have met would prefer to remain in their home countries.  They miss their families and the lives that they had built at home.  So there is an element international economic development that enters into the equation.

First of all, Americans tend to be very generous, and especially Christians.  So I encourage people to find local organizations creating jobs for local people in Mexico and Central America.  If you know of any, please leave them in the comments. And as I come across them, I will share the information as well.

But we must also take some responsibility for US policies that have actually benefited the US economy at the expense of other countries’ economies.  NAFTA, for example, made it cheaper for Mexican people to buy corn for government-subsidized US farmers than from local Mexican farmers.  Therefore, numerous Mexican farmers went out of business, migrated to Mexican cities, and eventually, many continued on to the States.

You may have different opinions about specific policies and their benefits and challenges, but the simple reality is that if US policies damage neighboring economics, then migration is inevitable. 

One very simple way to counteract this is through Fair Trade products.  Guatemala is a giant exporter of coffee. If we actually pay for our coffee what it costs to brew that cup, then maybe that farmer can survive off the crops he grows in his home country.   

The beauty of just economies is that immigration would become a choice people can make, weighing their personal economic options, and not a survival necessity. 

And lastly, I would add that I love that God uses the metaphor of the Church as a body, each with a different function and role. What I enjoy about sharing with college students is my hope that as I tell my story and start a conversation around immigration that this role may inspire an amazing young leader to harness their specific creativity and expertise to explore new solutions and ways to support immigrants. 

We are a body.

Lessons from Cross-Cultural Marriage: Women in Leadership

It’s not uncommon for English only speakers to throw out the word machismo (or some pronunciation similarity, usually trying to fit “macho” into the mix) when Latin gender roles come up. 

Merriam-Webster defines machismo as an exaggerated masculinity. This attitude certainly exists in subcultures throughout the world, including parts of Latin America.

But that’s not really what I want to talk about. Billy always told me that growing up in the city, his experiences were very different around gender roles.  I welcomed this news since I don’t necessarily fit into the stereotype of a traditional housewife. (Today I googled how to clean an oven after living in this house… and using this oven… for over two years…)

However, my relationship with Billy has made me realize how much I often limit the leadership roles of women, especially in the church.

Lesson 2: Women in Leadership

A blog post from the National Hispanic Association of Evangelicals shares how women are playing an ever-increasing role in the Latin church.  I love this quote:

"Hispanic Christians value one thing over the cultural dynamics and stereotypes of the people. We value the anointing. We value the presence and ministry of the Holy Spirit. More important than gender is the testimony of God. Our people will follow whoever is carrying the mantle regardless of gender," stated Sergio Navarrette, superintendent of the southern Pacific Latin district of the Assemblies of God.

I would never have said that I was against women preaching.  I’m not.  But I am unfamiliar with it, and so my true confession is that sometimes it surprises me and sometimes makes me feel a bit uncomfortable. 

Not Billy. He is familiar with seeing women in leadership roles in church. In fact, on one of our recent trips to Guatemala, he was excited to introduce me to his longtime mentor who we had prayed with over the phone in the past.  I loved meeting her… and hope to get to know her more in the future.

I have appreciated how Billy’s comfort with women pastors and church leaders has pushed me to acknowledge my ambiguity around the issue.  I appreciate that the Latino church can be an example of inclusion and affirmation of the anointing of women.

Another area where my connection to Latino culture has challenged my perceptions of women leaders is in politics.  This year, we spent four months in Argentina, where Cristina Kirchner (pictured above) has been president since 2007.  It was fascinating to see her on TV, regularly addressing the country.

In fact, if you are like me, you may have no idea that other Latin America countries – Nicaragua, Peru, Brazil, Costa Rica, Chile, Panama – have all had women presidents.  And I’m not even including Europe, Africa, or Asia (the first woman president in the world led Sri Lanka).

You could say that the US could learn a few things about women in leadership from other countries.  I know I have been grateful for how Latin America has pushed me to think more broadly about the roles of women in church and politics.

To read more posts in the Lessons from Cross-Cultural Marriage series, go to the beginning or read on!   

Word Wars for a Bilingual Baby

At ten months of age, the Backpack Baby seems to be hinting that she might like to try and say her first word. 

She chatters all the time.  Only recently did I realize that these cries, coos, and sputters will eventually be words. 

I have begun to wonder if her first expressions will be in English or in Spanish.  At first, I had imagined it would be English, assuming that she has heard it more at home and outside… that and I often wildly accuse Billy of not speaking enough Spanish to her.

However, lately I have noticed that she responds more when being spoken to in Spanish.  It then occurred to me that I am at work all day while Billy may actually be filling her head with Spanish.  And then there’s the four months of these ten that she lived in Argentina… and the time spent with her abuelos in Guatemala… and of course Sid, El Niño Scientifico.

It’s on.  The contest for the first word in our OPOL Challenge.

It seems, however, that Ella has decided to play it safe in this grand battle.  We think she is starting her verbal journey with “Daisy”… the name of the dog.  Right now it sounds like “Deh-dee,” so we’re not totally sure, but she’s looking at the pup and shaking her legs in wild enthusiasm.

She feels a special kinship with Daisy… they play together, they crawl together, and they lick the same bowl.  It makes sense that she would choose Daisy as her first word rather than engage in her parents’ War of the Words. 

Any other bilingual babies out there?  What were the first words?  Was one language favored at first over the other?

Lessons from Cross-Cultural Marriage: Entrepreneurial Spirit


A friend once said to me that all marriages are cross-cultural.  And there is certainly some truth to that statement.  The journey of marriages raises all kinds of questions like, “What do you mean you’re unfamiliar with a family songbook?”

Recently, I have been giving some thought to lessons I have learned specifically because I married a Latino immigrant.  I have written in the past about greeting others and kissing them on the cheek, but I decided to consider other ideas and begin a short series over the next few Thursdays. 

I will note that it’s certainly possible that a person could learn these lessons outside of a cross-cultural marriage, but my experience frames these traits within that context.
  
Lesson 1: An Entrepreneurial Spirit.

I am a relatively practical person and like to thoroughly think things through.  I’m not necessarily a risk-taker like one of those people who drives without headlights at dusk…  

However, in the four years of my marriage, Billy and I have made multiple attempts to start businesses or launch projects.  At this point, most all of them would not be what the average person might consider “successful,” but don’t worry… we have many more ideas in the works!

The city of Dayton, Ohio recently documented that immigrants are twice as likely as others to start new businesses in communities.  It’s one of the reasons this city is reaching out to immigrants with hopes of spurring their local economy. 

Putting my personal experience in the context of a larger picture, I easily recognize that Billy has carried an entrepreneurial spirit into our life together.  Before we met, he had owned and operated a taco cart, started a business creating personalized merchandise for other businesses, and organized a touring hardcore Spanish Christian rock band (narrow genre = faithful following). 

In fact, something I heard at the recent G92 Immigration Conference asserted that people who migrate are self-selecting.  In other words, it takes a certain kind of risk-taker and challenge-embracer to actually take the step to relocate to another country.  It very well may be one of the reasons why these same individuals are so likely to start businesses.

I deeply appreciate the city of Dayton’s creative and innovative approach around the issues of immigration.  In a time when many states are choosing to criminalize immigrants, it makes a lot of sense to me that others might ask, “How can we engage the strengths of those traveling here to improve our society for all?”

In our family, it means you can be on the lookout for the next new business plan over breakfast!

For the next post in this series, click on!

Dreaming the DREAM Act

You may have heard of the DREAM Act.

This past weekend I attended the G92 Immigration Conference at Cedarville University in Ohio and heard from several “Dreamers.”  I thought I knew what the DREAM Act was before I listened to their stories. 

They were four amazing young people from around the country.  All of them were college graduates.  All spoke perfect English and were raised in the US.  And all of them were illegally brought to the States by their parents when they were children.

I had thought that the DREAM Act was a way for undocumented students to be allowed access to federal aid for college.  It turned out I was wrong and it is actually much more and much less than that.

I say it is much less because it doesn’t provide any access to aid for undocumented students desiring to go to college.  Students still have to pay for their school with private scholarships or personal funding, and in some cases, are required to pay out-of-state tuition in the state in which they’ve lived most of their life.

However, it is much more because it opens up a path to legalization for theses students that isn’t currently available to them in any way.  One of the Dreamers explained that the Act has several prerequisites:

1. They must have come to the States before the age of 15 and lived here 5 consecutive years.
2. They must have graduated from a US High School or obtained a GED from a US institution.
3. They must have “good, moral character.” (This qualification seems to be somewhat ambiguous and fluid from what I’ve read, but is being generally interpreted as no criminal history.)
4. They must attend 2 years of college or serve 2 years in the military.

The DREAM Act would then qualify them to obtain probationary status, which they maintain for 10 years before becoming legal permanent residents.  After that, they must wait another 5 years before they can apply for citizenship, which includes voting privileges. 

Personally, I don’t completely agree with all of the qualifications or the 15 year wait to be able to vote, but I am thrilled at the opportunity this legislation could open up for some young adults who are hanging onto this DREAM Act with all their hope for the future.

The young lady who shared at the conference expressed that she has lived in the States since the age of 6 and has a college degree in Social Work, but is unable to get a job because her of her status.  This breaks my heart deeply.  

Regardless how you feel about the choices parents have made, these are children of America who want to contribute to society in legitimate ways.  As you feel led, please let your Senators and Representatives know that you care about the DREAM Act.  We are moving into another polarized, radical, people-ignoring year of political ridiculousness.  Please let your politicians know that this is an important piece of legislation. 

P.S. You can go to votesmart.org to find out who represents you in your area.   
P.S.S. As with all things immigration, some states, such as Illinois and California, have passed their own DREAM Acts, which open some doors for Dreamers, but still cannot offer legal permanent residence.

How to Buy Fruit Without Going to Jail

One of the things I miss most about Los Angeles is mobile food. 

A hot burrito served out of the side of a truck in a 2-hour limited parking space.  The divine scent of grilling hot dogs wrapped in bacon as you walk by the park. 

And my favorite… the fruit cart. 

A rainbow-colored umbrella and ripe, delicious watermelon, mango, coconut, and pineapple.  Who could ask for more?  What I wouldn’t give for one of these street vendors in South Atlanta on a hot day. 

In my neighborhood in LA, the cart nearest our apartment was staffed by Spanish-speakers.  So one day as Billy and I were heading their way with focused purpose, I announced that I was going to order in Spanish. 

I had tried this once before while alone.  Things began to get convoluted when my order was complete and the vendor wanted to squeeze lime juice and sprinkle salt on my bag of fruit.  When I kept saying, “No, thank you,” he became more animated in his gestures and descriptions of these additions.  Finally, I had to express something to the affect of, “I understand you, but no thank you.”  Yeah, that’s pretty much how I speak in Spanish… awkward and blunt… well, sometimes in English, too.

So with renewed enthusiasm to flex my bilingual muscles, I walked up to the cart and ordered sandia, piña, coca…  It was the coconut request that caused the fruit seller’s eyes to widen and my husband to start shouting, “No, no, no,” which I can translate into English, so I knew there was a problem.

Turns out coconut is coco and coca is coke which, similar to English, is slang for cocaine.  When you ask someone on the street… in South Central LA… for coke… it could lead you to unexpected places. 

It was probably a good six months before I tried to speak Spanish again.  I mean, it’s one thing to be blunt and awkward… it’s another thing to get arrested. 

My experience, as with my past second language encounter that got me in trouble, turns my heart towards my immigrant friends.  I have my own personal translator who can shout “no” before things get out of hand.  But this has happened to me at least twice (and I’m sure as I keep writing about the past and living the present, more will emerge), and I can’t help but wonder how often this happens to Spanish speakers who try to speak English and say something they don’t mean? 

What about you?  Have you made potentially disastrous, or at least amusing, mistakes when speaking your second language?     

Sticks and Stones and Words Can Hurt Me

Every time I write a blog post about my husband Billy, I get his approval before I share it online.   

Whether it’s amusing anecdotes about how Spanish and English mix up in our marriage or a recent opportunity to share a guest blog about his immigration experience outside this site… I always ask.

I ask because I would hate to embarrass him, offend him, or represent him in a way he would not choose to represent himself.  Our relationship is more important than any story.

Bob Lupton, a veteran Atlanta urban minister, just released a book called Toxic CharityIt’s a powerful challenge that sheds light on traditional charity activities that often unintentionally harm the very communities and people that they hope to help.

One area he draws attention to is the way ministries represent their neighbors and friends.  Often we tell of personal details… victimization, poor choices, tragedies… that our friends would not typically use to introduce themselves. 

We rarely ask the youth we mentor, the English language learners we tutor, or our community neighbors and partners to read our newsletters, our books, or our blogs.  We should.

It’s been a challenge to me to be reminded to think this way because I love to tell the stories.  I’ve always joked that I have no stories of my own… I just share other people's lives.  But the relationships are more important than any story… even if it’s a really powerful one.

The dignity of the people we share life with in our communities must be respected. 

Why I Don't Speak Spanish

Well, I mostly blame God.

There I was… a nerdy 8th grader praying fervently about an important decision in my life.  Should I sign up to take French or Spanish?  Most of my friends were taking Spanish because… well… it was smart and practical.  For some reason, I felt inexplicably drawn to French. 

So I was praying.  I pretty much knew my future hung in the balance and if I was irrationally leaning towards French, God must have a plan.

So I jumped in.  8th grade… high school… college… I learned French.  And I have spent the rest of my life trying to forget it. 

It was in the middle of college that I began to realize that a good percentage of my closest friends spoke Spanish as their first language.  I would sit at the table in the cafeteria, pick out various words I recognized, and make up my own entire conversations around these stray nouns.  Fun? Yes. Real? No. 

I can say that there are many similarities between French and Spanish, which have aided me in my quest to learn Spanish.  But as I sat in a wooden chair during Spanish language school in Xela, Guatemala guessing pomme  for every piece of fruit until a picture of an apple was finally shown and I practically shouted it with smug satisfaction and was still wrong…. did I truly feel that it has been less than helpful.

But I absolutely LOVE language… it began with an obsession with English that still continues.  In fact, I once made an announcement that I would never date someone with English as a second language because I needed word jokes and nuisances were too important to me. 

As with most sweeping statements I make, God laughs as He brings them around to bite me.  So He introduced me to a super smart bilingual guy who can make word jokes in two languages, leaving me scrambling to keep up.

So I enjoy my “late-in-life-according-to-bilingual-recommendations” challenge.  And it’s fun to try to learn language alongside my daughter.  Right now, we are watching Sid, El Niño Scientifico, and the repetition and juvenile target audience help me to learn new words and have Spanish songs dancing through my head all day.  I still nurse wild fears about her bilingualism and that she will one day weave Spanglish word jokes with speed and accuracy that will wow and terrify her papa and me as we both scramble to keep up. 

But, you know, there’s a lot worse things a 3-year old could do….

Did you take a language in high school or college?  Has it been useful?  Do you wish you’d taken something different? 

Photo credit: Dog Madic



Baby Bottles and Conference Calls

Tuesday I stayed home with my daughter all day.  We walked to the bank and the coffee shop.  We watched Gilmore Girls.  I chased her around the room while she squealed with glee.  We ate shredded cheese and danced to the Black Eyed Peas.  It was a GOOD day.  And I loved it.

Yesterday I went to work.  I crossed items off my to-do list and embarked on Day 1 of the Catalyst Conference.  I engaged in good, funny conversations with my boss.  I met amazing and creative Christian leaders.  I learned about organizations and the inspiring work being done across the country and the globe.  It was a GOOD day.  And I loved it.

I suppose I am what they call a “working mom.”  And sometimes I feel tension in holding dual roles. 

I worry that I’ll miss my daughter’s life, that she'll barely recognize me two weeks from now.  Or I fear that I will not be able to fully focus and create at my job.  But I also can’t imagine life any other way because I enjoy the fullness of each role so much. 

So I continue pursuing both, hoping that my family life will enhance my work as I find myself laughing more and playing more and becoming less likely to engage in unimportant drama or tangents.  And I hope my family will enjoy the coworkers and friends my work brings into our lives and that the joy I gain from diving into projects will spill into my home. 

So, for today, I’m spoon-feeding yogurt in the morning, texting the babysitter during a workshop, and coming home late after a day of introductions and conversations.  And, for today, I feel quite content. 

How do you balance work and ministry and family?  What are your fears?  What do you feel your work life adds to your family life and vice versa? 

Forbidden Fruits: 4 Toys You’ve Gotta Taste

Star-shaped teethers.  A yellow, plastic hammer.  Soft, stacking blocks with brightly colored illustrations.  A spunky caterpillar with multi-textured sections.  Forget it.  Your child (read: my child) doesn’t want to play with these things. 

That’s why I’ve created “Forbidden Fruits,” a new toy line for the crawler in your life.  Using a focus group of one, I have watched and learned what a child really wants to tinker with during playtime.

Bland Square with Cord Extension
 
I often wondered how my nine-month old could survive on a one hour nap during a full day.  Recently, I discovered her secret when I found her amping up for the day sucking on the end of a phone charger.  This experience inspired my “Bland Square with Cord Extension” product.  While you might think bright colors and squeakers are the way to go for babies, you’ve simply drunk the Fisher Price kool-aid.  Your little crawler will seek out this cord-based toy with its dark coloring and lack of noises or moving shapes over and over again.  It’s classic.

The Silver Bowl

You may not want her to grow up with a silver spoon in her mouth, but what about a silver bowl in her hand?  The best teachers in life come alongside us, and from her angle, Fido is the only other one on all fours.  So if the dog loves the bowl, it must be worth looking into... and maybe touching… and eventually, I imagine, licking.  

From the moment her knees hit the ground in the morning, you’ll find her pounding towards The Silver Bowl, eager to run her hands along the authentic, dried drool.  For a fun game, race her to it for the parental classic “swoop in and snatch.”  This challenge increases baby brain function as enthusiasm builds and her memory development will bring her crawling furiously back tomorrow. 
 
My First Slow Cooker Cookbook

Board books are for babies.  Introduce your tot to a collection of recipes bound with plastic.  Originally for adults, these former wedding presents now make the perfect baby shower gift.  Paper pages allow for crinkling or tearing, which, let’s face it, never gets old.  And with enough commitment and fine motor skill dexterity, the plastic binding spine can be disassembled to create small curls.  (They fit easily between your lips for transport while crawling.)

Gear Girl Gift Kit  

Sometimes a kid likes to get her hands dirty.  And what better way to do that than to work on bikes?  It’s rare to find a bike mechanic who takes the time to touch and feel each gear anymore… you know, really work the grease between her fingers.  And when’s the last time one bothered to get on hands and knees and really get an eye in there?  This kit will help your baby learn how to do all that and more.  Safety tips are included to prevent pulling up on a bike… which will most likely lead to disaster.

Forbidden Fruits… there’s something about “no” that makes you wanna say “yes”

If you’re a parent or have ever babysat, you’ve got products that should join our line.  C’mon now… what are they? 
A Life with Subtitles. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.