Making Tamales

Today my neighbor Luisa showed me how to make tamales. It was quite a process and I’m certain I could not repeat it alone but it was really fun learning from her and working along side her. (I do find it a tad amusing that during our two winters in Mexico I never learned to make them, but I’m happy to be learning now.)
Here’s what we did:
Yesterday we went to La Tapatía, a Mexican grocery store in Portland, and she picked out the ingredients I would need. Chicken, chilies, tomatillos, onion, garlic, anise, and masa of course. 
Last night we cooked the chicken in a large pot with a few garlic cloves and half an onion. After it was cooked, I removed it, shredded it, and put it in the fridge. The broth also went in the fridge to use the next day to make the dough, but since it needs to be cold, it makes more sense to do it the night before.
This morning I placed the corn husks that my neighbor had given me into a bowl of hot water so they would soften.
She arrived around 9:45 in the morning a…

Mother’s Day

I am so incredibly blessed to be mom to these three amazing children of mine. 

They challenge me, exhaust me, sometimes frustrate me to no end… but they also make me laugh and fill my heart with immeasurable joy and a love that I never knew until God brought them into my life.
And I’m thankful for some amazing women in my life that have surrounded me, loved me, and honestly carried me through some pretty difficult times. Ladies, I consider you my friends… my peers (in other words, I’m not trying to call you old 😉)  but I also want you to know that I believe God gifted each of you to me to help heal a deep wound in my heart and fill the void of not having a loving, nurturing mother for most of my life. 
Happy Mother’s Day to all the amazing women and moms who might be reading this… but you women especially will always have a special place in my heart. Thank you for supporting me, loving me, counseling me, accepting me, and for being an example to me of the mom (and someday grandma) I wan…

Safety in Mazatlán, Mexico - My personal experience

We’ve only been back in the states for a little over six months, and already our time in Mexico seems so distant. So “foreign”, for lack of a better word. 
When I think back on our decision to spend two winters abroad, in one of the most dangerous states in Mexico, I don’t have any regrets. But now that I’m safe at home in my own country, I can understand why many of our friends and family thought we were a little crazy for moving our family to Sinaloa.
Nine months ago, after returning to Mazatlán from a quick weekend trip to Oregon for a friends wedding, I was mugged at a popular tourist viewpoint in downtown, or what is commonly referred to as Centro to the local folks. 
It wasn’t the mugging necessarily that shattered the sense of safety that I had felt up until that point. I understand that muggings happen in lots of cities around the world, and in hindsight I definitely could have done more to protect myself. But really, it was what happened after my phone was stolen that caused…

House Envy

I use to have house envy. Before I had a big, nice house of my own, I would lust after my friends houses. I thought that if I had a nice home, I would be happy. 
And I was happy...for a while. 
I loved decorating, I loved having space to entertain and throw parties. I loved having room for guests to come stay. A home office. Portrait studio. 
It was perfect... until it wasn’t.
When we downsized in May of 2016, it felt good. It was freeing to get rid of the debt, and the responsibility that inevitably comes with homeownership. I loved blessing other people with stuff, as we got rid of probably at least 75% of what we owned at the time.
It freed us up to have the adventure of a lifetime with our kids. We spent 2 winters in Mazatlán, Mexico - escaped the cold, rainy weather here in Oregon, and gave our kids a chance to experience another culture, and a huge jumpstart in becoming bilingual.
I’ve been back for 6 months now. The kids and I moved back into the 2 bedroom townhouse that I bought in …

The perfect job👌🏼

So back in May, I registered Kenton for pre-school at a 100% Spanish Immersion school in Milwaukie. I knew I wanted him to go to pre-school since he had already been attending school full-time while we were in Mexico, and I definitely wanted him to continue his Spanish. The only thing I didn’t know at the time was how I was going to pay for it. As any of you working parents know, child care is not cheap and add in the fact that it’s a language immersion school, I was looking at a price tag of $900-$1100 per month. Ouch! 💵 
It was a hard commitment to make, given I had no income at the time! But I knew God was going to provide. I didn’t know how exactly, and that was challenging for me, so the summer was definitly a test of my faith. 
I felt like I should be looking for a job, but I also didn’t want to begin the search too early and then get offered a position that I would have to start during the summer, before the kids went back to school. (I secretly wanted to have one last summer va…

March 20th, 2018

(I wrote this a month ago, but I’m just now finally brave enough to share it here. If you comment, please be kind.)
I’ve probably taken 25 flights over the last year or so, and every time up until now I’ve thought that things would be better if the plane I was on just crashed, and I died, and Rob could collect the insurance money and hire a nice nanny to care for the kids and I could just go to heaven and be with Jesus instead of having to go through all the pain and hurt that comes with getting divorced.
I know that this is completely selfish of me, and I would have never done anything to intentionally end my own life and leave my kids without a mother, but I honestly felt that death was the only way out of the situation I was in. I was not strong enough to leave my marriage, but it had become quite apparent that I was not strong enough to stay either. 
Today I took off on an airplane, on one last solo trip before I become a single mom, and for the first time in over a year, I didn’t pr…

Tulum, Mexico 🇲🇽

The skinny road leading in and out of Tulum is busy with tour vans and people on bicycles (without helmets of course). The combination seems dangerous, especially with the way our driver has been driving, but maybe the danger and the thrill of things like that in Mexico is partly what makes it a fun and different place for people to visit.
The ancient ruins of Tulum are an incredible site! I love wandering through thousand year old architecture for some reason. I always have, ever since I spent the summer in Italy during my senior year of college. 

These here in Quintana Roo are the most beautiful I’ve ever seen, probably largely due to the amazing scenic backdrop of the Carribean Sea. 

After a 30 minute educational tour we were set lose to wander on our own for another hour. Here’s the two minute time lapse version if you want a taste of what it’s like here:

This was our guide for the day. He gave the tour in English and French but also spoke fluent Spanish of course, and 2 other languag…