Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sick Babies

There is nothing worse than feeling so helpless because you have a sick baby.  I remember the first time Liliana got sick when she was a little baby.  It didn't happen very often so it was actually shocking and so sad.  The feelings I had were overwhelming with helplessness and frustration.  I had no idea what to do.  What I have learned since then is that most of the time there isn't much you can do except love and hug on them and I have to admit that when they are sick it's even more enjoyable to do.

For those of you that don't know me very well, I am pretty much anti-doctor and anti-pharmaceutical medications.  You won't find me running to the drug store or making an appointment with our pediatrician when Liliana gets sick.  Instead you will find me calling my mom, giving Liliana homeopathics and looking for answers in our children's health book The A, B, C Herbal.  Sometimes I find what I am looking for and most of the time it helps, but then there are the times that nothing I do seems to help.   That's when I have to sit back and ride out the storm.

I know that when Liliana gets sick, it means that her body is fighting off something that isn't good for it, so I don't usually see at as a bad thing.  Especially when it comes to having a fever.  But, that being said, since we have lived in El Salvador Liliana has been sick more than I think she would if we had stayed in the States and that fact makes me feel so bad, so responsible for her sickness.  I know there are many things that contribute to her being sick more often.  The water, certain foods, her eating more junk than I would normally ever allow and her having parasites from the water.  But knowing all those things only makes it harder, not easier to accept.  

This afternoon Liliana started throwing up and continued to 6 times throughout the evening.  I was home alone and it was really sad for my baby girl.  She wasn't able to keep anything down.  Even her chi chi that she wanted so bad made her sick.  Then everyone came home and she was feeling a little better, happy to see everybody.  Later in the evening the kids went out and came back with ice cream for her.  She had just thrown up from having chi chi and my MIL wanted her to eat ice cream?!  It may sound harmless, but these are the things I just don't understand about people here.  I will most likely being doing a rant on the food habits of Salvadorans tomorrow.

Whether you are in the States or in El Salvador, I suppose there will always be people with differences in opinion on how you should deal with illness.  As moms we all just want to do what it is we think is best.  Problem is there are a lot of moms and a lot of opinions out there.  There are also a lot of uneducated moms in my opinion that are quick to call the pediatrician instead of investigating for themselves what could be the cause of an illness.  After 3 days of Liliana having a fever last week I finally caved in and gave her a tiny bit of some kind of Children's Tylenol or something along those lines.  It instantly broke her fever and though I know a fever is a good thing, I couldn't stand to see my baby suffering anymore.  So I know there is a place for medicine in society, I just wish people could see there are different approaches to medical care and it has to do more with overall health, about food and lifestyle.  But we all do what we can given our individual situations and those things don't mean that we are bad mothers, it means that we are the BEST mothers!

Side Note:  I have a plan to create a go-to list.  When I'm under pressure and in the midst of Liliana being sick or even myself, I tend to go blank about what to do.  Under normal circumstances I could rattle off all my suggestions, but I guess I'm just not good in the midst of the chaos.  So what I want do is make a list for common ailments and then put next to them the things to do.  It will include topical and internal supplements including the Bach Flower Remedies.  It's just all in my head right now, but I'm excited to do all my research and put it all together and post in on the fridge!  

My Cultured Baby

My new blog is up and running and I'm having a blast with it.  I'm posting mainly on the other one now, so  if you are subscribed to this one, check out my other.  It's basically a continuation of this one.  The site is

We are still in the waiting process.  Sometimes it seems like time is flying by and others it's just dragging.  But we are hanging in there and still making the most of what we have.  Again, for all the latest, check out  

Thanks everybody!!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Maynor's Birthday

Yesterday was Maynor's birthday.  He turned 11 years old.  It's still shocking to think that the last birthday Eduardo celebrated with his son was when he turned 2.  So I'm really glad we are here for this.

We picked the kids up in the afternoon and stopped at the "mall" in Sonsonate for lunch which is a rare occasion.  They were very happy to get to eat pizza and Liliana had her favorite Chinese noodles!  We stopped for a birthday cake after lunch.  It would be for the prayer session my MIL was hosting this week.  She hosts a prayer group every week or so.  This is the first time we sat in on the group since it was be held especially for Maynor's birthday.  
The Prayer Group
After the group, we served cake and soda (the only thing anyone drinks here.  GAG!!)  Maynor seemed to enjoy himself and it was a good day.  
The white cake
The chocoate cake
One of Maynor's uncles in the States sent some money for him so we decided we will all go out to dinner tonight and celebrate again.  We are going to Pizza Hut of course, which is a fancy restaurant in El Salvador.  It's the kids favorite and it's budget friendly so there you go!  I will make sure to take a bottle of digestive enzymes with me ;)  
Liliana looking a little sugar buzzed!
Oh, I forgot to add we had gotten Maynor a pair of new shoes and a couple shirts and he was very 
happy with that.  So different than the kids in the States!  Nobody expects much here, so most people are very grateful for what they do get.  It's a nice example even for me.
This photo was taken by Liliana.  I kept having to squat to where she was holding the camera.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


I am not a patient person.  I admit this is one of my many character flaws.  I can trace my impatience back to several things in my life, but I'm going to save the childhood re-living for another day.  The positive thing is that I have learned to be more patient over my time living here in El Salvador, which I consider the Land of Patience, not to mention how my patience has grown since becoming a mother.  But again, that's a story for another day.  

I honestly don't know how these people here do it.  It's like being patient really is in their blood.  For example, most people take the bus as the mode of transportation in the country.  Depending on where you are going and the time you have to arrive, more than likely you will be waiting for the bus every day.  Once you are on the bus, you will then have to stop a dozen times for more people before you actually reach your destination.  Which means you had to get up earlier, get to the bus stop earlier just to take 2 hours to get somewhere that's only 45 minutes away.  

Then you have the bank.  That's the worst.  I've been to the bank on two separate occasions this week, which is actually quite unusual for me to even leave the house so it's been exciting.  The first time I went was with my MIL.  Luckily the bank is in the "mall" so Liliana and I could walk around and play on all the rides and have fun.  The reason I say we are lucky is because it took 45 minutes just for my MIL to get through the line in the bank.  Then once she got up to the window, they wouldn't even do the transaction in which we went for.  Of course during the waiting I got impatient.  Liliana had played on every ride twice and there were creepy gang members there freaking me out a little, so I was ready to go.  My MIL?  Well let me tell you...I just couldn't believe that she had waited all that time in line for nothing!  But her reaction?  Not much.  It didn't even seem to phase her, except her saying her feet were tired and that's completely understandable.  She never complained about the bank once!

The second time I went to the bank was with Eduardo.  It was a similar scenario.  He waited in the long line and Liliana and I took to the rides again.  I didn't find myself as impatient this time as I knew what to expect.  I went to check on Eduardo at one point and he had waited in the long line only to find out he had been in the wrong line!  He was very happy about this and was getting impatient.  Ha!  I think the States took away some of his patience.  

Then there's the grocery store.  There's always atleast 5 people in front of you and the person working always seem to be going very slow.  There's the restaurants where food seems to take twice as long to prepare than in the States.  And then there's Immigration and waiting for a visa that sometimes feels like a dream.  That's a true test of patience.  But let's not forget the daily life of just hanging out.  Now that doesn't sound bad does it?  Just hanging out all day, never knowing what will happen next.  Well let me tell you, that's been a whole other post on control I think ;)  

So what makes Salvadorans so patient and myself and lots of other Americans I know to be so impatient?  I really wish I had the answer.  One thing I do know is that it seems as if people down here appreciate life more.  They take the time for the little things.  Nobody misses the afternoon coffee with homemade pan dulce, or sweet bread.  People work the land and live on the land.  They are in tune with all their surroundings.  They don't rush around all day like chickens with their heads cut off.  I first saw this type of lifestyle as "lazy", but it's actually quite the opposite.  It's just so different than the life most of us Americans know that it's hard to adjust to at first.  

People here aren't so self-absorbed and feel as though the work revolves around them.  Come on, let's be honest.  That really is how most Americans are, even if they aren't aware of it.  We get mad about waiting in lines whether it's the grocery store, bank, movie theatre, whatever.  We get mad if our computer seems to be running slower than usual and we can't check our email or Facebook at the exact time we want to.  We get road rage when people aren't driving how we would like or are preventing us from speeding.  How screwed up is that?!  I think Americans have a lot to learn from Salvadorans and other Latin cultures.

But as I said in the beginning, El Salvador has had a positive influence on me.  I feel I appreciate more what I have right now.  I appreciate the people around me and I don't take them for granted.  I appreciate where my food comes from and the lengths everyone around me have gone to for getting that food on our table.  I don't expect everything to be how I think it should be (probably because it never is).

I may still be a slightly impatient person.  Okay, maybe more than slightly.  The States definitely brings it out in me!  But I'm learning from this culture and I'm coming to more of a balance with both worlds.  I love that Liliana is growing up knowing both cultures and taking the best of both!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Liliana and the Moto-Taxi

Our little town of Izalco has introduced something new to the area lately...Moto-Taxis.  They are a mix between a motorcycle and a regular taxi car.  They are bright red and are really small and cute.  They also are Liliana's favorite thing in the whole world right now, which makes me them extra special.

Almost every evening lately my MIL, Ana, has been going on a walk with Liliana to the park in town.  We don't frequent there often because of the gang situation here and it's just not that safe for us as a family.  But for Ana to go with Liliana alone doesn't seem to be a problem.  Anyway, Liliana enjoys these trips oh so much.  It's her favorite part of the day.  They will spend an hour or two hanging out and walking around and THEN on the way home, they take a Moto-Taxi!  So exciting.  The Moto's usually are hanging out around the park so they are easy to find and it's only 35 cents for Ana to ride with Liliana one-way.

Every time we leave the house now Liliana is so excited because she might get to go on "el moto."  She claps for joy.  It's super cute.  If we are in the car and she sees a moto, she screams "moto, moto" so excitedly you can't help but laugh.  She never cries if we don't get to ride in one, she usually just says "no esta moto", which basically means "there's no motos here."  She gets it and is fine with that.  She knows there will be another chance.

I'm excited the motos have come to town and I'm grateful for how much Ana loves to take Liliana on walks and gets her out of the house.  I sometimes feel guilty that we are usually so pent up with no where to go and no money to get us there.  The "Moto" is a bright spot to our days and seeing my baby girl so happy and excited brings so much joy to my heart I can hardly put it in words.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Mango Tree

Across the street at one of Eduardo's aunt's house there his a huge mango tree.  It's a great big tree that offers much beauty to our icky street.  In the last few weeks the mangos started growing and ripening.  For some reason, Tia Rosita and her family do not cut the mangos and sell them, which is what everyone else in El Salvador would usually do.  Instead they leave them there and let people take them from time to time.  It's been quite the place to be lately.  The mangos are perfect now and the tree brings lots of fun for boys and girls of all ages.  They stand outside and throw rocks and other things to try and get the mangos down.  This can sometimes take a LONG time as they are very high up.  People are usually quite respectful, but we occasionally get the loud bang on our roof from a hard mango or rock.  But all in all the mango tree brings fun and enjoyment to all around.  I think it's sweet that the family lets people walk by and take there mangos for a delicious afternoon snack for free.
The mango tree has been there for as long as anyone can remember.  I remember Eduardo telling me stories about that tree long before we even married and came to El Salvador.  The sad thing is the Mayor's office is talking about cutting it down!  The street we live is going to be getting an actual paved road in the coming months and the tree may be in the way for some reason.  Eduardo and I do not understand the reasoning as it's not in the way, but everyone else on the "council" is in agreement to cut it down.
Well whether it gets to stay or go, we are enjoying the tree and the fruits its gives right now.  I hope they decide to keep this beautiful gift that serves all the community and see that there's already so much land all over the world being torn down and we should keep what is left.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


I've always felt I have a good sense of my Self and am in touch with my intuition.  You know, those feelings you get about things.  When you just know you should or shouldn't do something or say something.  Well me and my intuition have always been on the same page.  I've always trusted myself to know when something is right or not, although I've always had a tendency to be indecisive.

Well this past year has brought about a lot of change in my life and not all of it I quite frankly care for.  I've become someone I feel I no longer know.  I feel I have "lost" my Self as I did as a teenager.  Within this great abyss my sense of intuition has tended to wander off as well.  Atleast it seems.  Maybe it's not quite as far off as I think it is?!

Every since I returned to El Salvador from my last trip to the States in December, I have dreaded the idea of going back again in March when our return tickets are scheduled for.  I haven't felt good about going.  There are a list of reasons I have, but basically things haven't gone well the last two visits and honestly I fear the worst again.  I know I should be more positive, I've always been a more positive person.  But this journey the past year seems to have gotten the best of me.

Eduardo and I have had many a conversation about the trip in March and in the end it's always come down to the fact that I don't really have a choice.  I have to go!  Though I have pleaded my case and given a downright good list of reasons why I shouldn't go, Eduardo won't budge.  He finally said that I shouldn't go because my attitude is so negative that nothing will go right because of that.  What do I say to that?!  And is it me being negative or me responding to that feeling deep in my gut?!

Is it my intuition telling me that it's just not a good idea to go this time, to just change our tickets and extend my visa and go back in June?  Or has my negativity clouded my judgement and my fear taken over my heart that was once wide-open to the world?

I know going to the States will work out if it's need be.  That's not a question.  The thing is that no matter what the circumstances are there, it's not comfortable for me.  Eduardo and I seem to have maxed out our share of asking for favors.  What we thought would be a year here will most likely be three.  How could we have known that?!  And how can others judge us for the unknown?!  You really can't judge someone until you have walked in their shoes, I understand that statement more than ever now.  I will try me best to ignore this sinking feeling and I know I will get excited about eating good food again and going shopping for the necessities, seeing my good friends.  There's a lot to be excited about.  But something's got me feeling sad and questioning myself.  I'm hoping this is just another bump in the road on the path back to my Self.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Ethnic Baby Dolls

Liliana has always loved babydolls and stuffed animals, but mostly dolls.  I'm a sentimental person so I've always liked the idea of getting her things like that she will be able to keep for a lifetime and maybe even pass down to her daughter.  When she was about 10 months old, I decided I wanted to buy her a special doll.  But what I wanted I couldn't find readily in any store.  I wanted a baby doll that would reflect who she is, which is a bi-cultural baby.  She's not your typical white-skinned American girl.

So I surfed the internet to see what I would find.  What I found was Lola.  She is pictured above and we chose her name ourselves.  I loved her right away because she is a bedtime baby and I thought that was an extra special touch.  With all the traveling we would be doing, I knew we could always take Lola as a constant presence in Liliana's life.  So, we ordered her!  We got her from  It's a great website for Ethnic Baby Dolls.  They have Hispanic, African American, Asian Dolls and more.  And they have more options than just the one above.  I highly recommend it.

Now, while Lola stays in the bedroom, Liliana prefers a more lifelike baby to play with during the day.  My mom had gotten her a twin set of some baby dolls that she loved.  But, they couldn't come to El Salvador with us.  I wanted a small doll that I could easily fit in my purse or carry-on for our back and forth trips.  This Mini Baby Doll from Target is perfect.  I was pleasantly surprised to find this baby comes in 3 different colors and had different eye colors.  I just had to search the pile for what I wanted. I got my tan skinned, brown eyed baby for Liliana and she adores her.  

The following dolls I found while doing research last night on Hispanic dolls and what all the options are.  There are quite a few to choose from really, but only these few I found really are what I would want for my baby girl.  So here's my wishlist and/or recommendations:

This first doll (above) comes from  I love her because she's all wrapped up in a blanket, which Liliana loves to do with all her dolls.  And she doubles as a puppet!

Next up is this little lady below.  I'm not sure if I would actually buy it, but Liliana is so motherly to her babies that it might be cute.  Here's what they say about her:  "Little Mommy Baby Ah-Choo Hispanic Doll: Baby Ah-Choo is all stuffed up and needs girls tender loving care. Girls will love to squeeze the dolls tummy and watch her sneeze, then help her get better with the interactive thermometer that checks her temperature, plus medicine, measuring spoon and a box of tissues. Baby Ah-Choo Hispanic is bilingual too."

This next doll is something I really want!  You can see her below. Check out Dolls Like Me‘s philosophy: 

“Children need to see the world the way it really is. They need to begin to develop global understanding, cultural awareness, and self-esteem as early as possible–and children of color need positive images that look like them.”
My next doll has been very controversial because it's a doll that actually breastfeeds.  I think the controversy is ridiculous because nursing is a natural thing and most children that experience and see their mother's breastfeed attempt to do it to their babies at some point anyway.  Why not encourage and support their curiosities?!  It's not yet available on the English website, but the Spanish website lists a whole bunch of stores, mostly in Latin America.

Now, American Girl Dolls are famous, mostly for their cost from what I have heard.  But they also seem pretty fabulous.  They have a new Itty Bitty Baby shown below that I really love that comes in a darker skin tone for Hispanic babies.  You can buy the baby alone or with all the extra stuff, which I know Liliana would go crazy for!  Below the Itty Bitty Baby are the only other 2 American Girl Dolls I would probably ever purchase.  They are Josephina and Kaya.  I like their look and their cultural backgrounds.  I think it's so cool they come with books and accessories!  Their website is

Here are a couple other websites that have Hispanic Dolls you can check out that aren't listed above: and
Liliana sleeping with her favorite baby (it laughs and cries)

Liliana playing with her dolls at Christmas.
Liliana with her Dr. Seuss stuffed animal.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Hammocks for Babies

Liliana hanging out in the hammock (May 2009)
Soon after Liliana was born, Eduardo's mom sent us a small baby hammock from El Salvador.  Eduardo told me how everyone uses hammocks for their babies to sleep in down there and we should try it.  Liliana has never been a very good sleeper, so we gave it a try.  Also from the beginning, she has always needed to be moving to go to sleep.  We tried everything before giving in to letting her be moving.  People always told me not to get her used to having to move otherwise it would be the only way she would go to sleep.  Well guess what?  It was already the only way she would go to sleep so we went with our guts and put her in the swing, swung her in the carseat, bounced her and anything else you can think of including putting her in a hammock.  (I will have to dig up the pics of the original hammock set-up)
Liliana falling asleep in a hammock at the beach (May 2010)

Eduardo hung our first hammock up in our bedroom above the bed.  She liked to go in there sometimes, but in general wasn't a happy baby for many months so didn't really want to be anywhere.  After a while she got used to the hammock and especially loved when it was warm enough to put one outside.  When she was outside, she would fall asleep in the hammock quick!  This is how I know she is my baby and loves the summer and not winter ;)  

When I first visited El Salvador, there was a hammock hanging in our bedroom.  We would put Liliana in there and swing her and it would be the only way to quiet her down.  I was definitely sold on the hammocks after I visited the land of the hammocks!  
Liliana happily swingin in the hammock (May 2009)
We went a while without a hammock in our room when we stayed with my mom for a while and I would carry Liliana in an Ergo Carrier on my back so she could sleep.  It was the only way she would.  Now we are in El Salvador and the hammock is just our way of life.  Sometimes Liliana will go down for a nap in bed, but mostly in the hammock.  She even asks for the hammock now when she is sleepy.  It's great.  She will sleep for a long time in there.  And if she starts to stir, we just give her a little swing and it's back to sleep.  She even goes in the hammock at night.  We of course still have one over our bed and at some point during the night she asks to go in there and will sleep for several hours.  It's always nice to get the bed to ourselves at that point ;)

Liliana in a hammock at the beach (May 2010)
The best part about hammocks in El Salvador is that EVERYONE has one or two or three.  But atleast one.  So if we are at someone's house for a while and Liliana gets tired, we just put her in the hammock and there you go...a happy sleeping baby.  We also have 3 hung up at our house so visiting little ones have a place to sleep.  Now if only I could get everyone in the States to have a hammock in there house!  Hmmm...
Liliana sleeping with her baby (Nov 2010)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Stand By Your Man

I was having a phone conversation a couple days ago that got me thinking.  In the convo we were talking about my next trip back to Indianapolis and how long Liliana and I would stay.  We travel back to Indy from El Salvador every 3 months.  I only get a 90 day visa each time I enter the country which I could extend, but the main reason I go is to make money to bring back to our virtually economy-less country.  The trips have been hard and I prefer to go for the minimum amount of time necessary.  The main reason is mostly about Eduardo.  I know Liliana is good at adjusting to new situations easily, but the international travelling takes a toll and after about 2 weeks, she is good and ready to be back home, which is now El Salvador.  

From the beginning of our Immigration journey, we knew Eduardo would eventually have to leave the U.S. and return to El Salvador to apply for residency from his home country.  We were nervous about that idea, but we were in the beginning stages of applying.  When the time got closer, the decision was fairly easy.  It was scary, but easy to make.  We both completely agreed that the best choice for our family was to stay TOGETHER no matter what!  I had read so many stories about other families being literally torn apart by immigration and I was determined not to let that happen to our family.  Eduardo's other 2 kids had grown up never knowing their papa and I was certainly not going to let that happen to Liliana.  Eduardo and her have always had a good strong bond and I wanted to see that continue to build.  It was hard saying goodbye to everything I have ever known and coming to a country I hardly knew, but I was willing to do whatever it took to keep us together.  That was what we are trying to do in the long run anyway, so why not stay together through it all?  

I understand this situation is not possible for everyone.  We are lucky Liliana was still a baby and not in school and I have a flexible at-home job.  Staying in the States trying to work full-time living on my own with a toddler just wasn't an option.  I saw no way to make that work without compromising my values as a mother.  And to this day I still won't compromise in certain aspects of our life.  

I'm not saying Eduardo and I have been the perfect happy couple in ES either.  Far from it actually.  This journey has tested our relationship far beyond anyone's comfort zone.  But we continue to rise about it and keep our heads up.  We know we can get through this and come out on top.  I know that if our relationship can sustain these couple of years, we will last a lifetime.  

Back to the phone conversation!  I was saying how it would be nice if I did have a place in the States I could go to for a couple months with a car to work.  We have been struggling financially and I am willing to do whatever is necessary to put food on the table for my family.  From the other end of the phone I got this reply:  "You wouldn't do that even if you had a car and apartment here because you just aren't willing to be apart from Eduardo."  I was taken by surprise by this comment.  Am I meant to feel guilty that I don't want to be separated from my husband?  Am I supposed to feel guilty that I want my daughter to grow up with her father through these vital early developmental stages?  I just haven't been able to get that comment out of my mind.  Yes, I will do whatever I have to, but I feel I have already given everything to keep us together.  What more can I possibly give?  And why should I feel bad about it?  I think the fact that we want to be together is a good thing!

Yesterday we went for a visit to one of our aunt's houses.  They had been in town and we gave them a ride back out to el monte.  I commented to Eduardo that Tia Minga and her husband Don Nacho are always together.  They go everywhere together all the time.  They have 8 children, have lost 3 and have endured so much in their lives, yet they have stuck together in a way I don't know if I have ever seen before.  He had even gone to the States one time and came back because he couldn't bare to be away from his wife.  Many saw that as a stupid move, but I see it as more romantic.  When I mentioned how supportive Don Nacho is of his wife, going everywhere with her and helping her in every way, Eduardo said they have always been like this their whole lives.  He said "it's because they love each other so much."  That really hit home and I respect them as a couple so much and aspire to be a couple like them even as we get older.  No matter what happens in our lives, I know I will always stand by my man.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Skin Color

Liliana just a few days old
When Liliana was born she had very dark skin.  I was actually quite surprised.  As she grew her skin seemed to lighten up, but was always a little darker than the other babies we knew.  Now at her ripe age of 2 years old, she seems to have the perfect skin tone.  People have always commented on how perfect her skin is going to be.  Well I have to say it's quite perfect now!
Liliana and her American friend Pearl

Having a mixed baby always seems to be a conversation starter.  In the States, I always found people's reactions to seeing Liliana quite interesting, especially if she was out with Eduardo and myself.  People would look at me, him, her, back at me and so on.  Eduardo was actually just saying the other day how this hasn't much changed since moving to ES.  It still happens whenever we go out.  But whatever, that doesn't bother me.  What's interesting in the States is when people see that she's obviously not just your typical American baby and this seems to make them uncomfortable.  Some women notice the mixed color right away and comment to me because they too have a mixed baby.  Whether it's white/black, white/hispanic, white/asian, whatever.  It's noticeable.  And I must say, not in a bad way.  Mixed babies are pretty cute!
Liliana and her friend Elise
In the States, Liliana is usually darker than her other friends.  She's not super dark, but she's not white either.  She's more tan.  In El Salvador it's not as noticeable.  There are people here with a broad range of skin color.  Some are really dark skin, some are in the middle like Eduardo and then there are people with really light skin.  I sometimes even think those people are white, but they are pure Salvadoran.  I obviously get noticed when we are out for my fair skin and strawberry blonde hair.  But if Liliana is not with me, people probably don't stare at just her!  ha.  
Liliana and her Salvadoran friend Sophia
These are the kinds of things that become realities for you when you are in a mixed family.  My aunt is married to a Korean and they have two beautiful children.   I remember the stories she used to tell me about what it's like to be in a bi-cultural relationship and they weren't always the nicest stories.   I suppose there will unfortunately always be prejudice and always be people who stare at us and make comments.  But I'm proud of who I am, I proud of who my husband is and who our beautiful daughter is becoming.  We are proud of our heritage and love the blend of cultures in our life.  We sure did make one amazing Cultured Baby!
Liliana and Sophia at the beach

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Online Friends

An online friend of mine got their APPROVAL of her husband's visa from Guatemala yesterday.  I just found out this morning.  I couldn't be more happy for them.  Her son has been staying in Guate with her husband while they wait and now they can all be reunited soon!  We also have had 2 APPROVALS from El Salvador on the Forum within the last week, so I would say it's a good time for approvals.  It's such a relief to hear about other friends getting approved.  When I used to hear of approvals, I would usually just feel jealous, but since I have gotten to know people better and formed friends through my online forum, I feel a huge relief when I hear about their approvals.  I am so grateful for this forum and for Facebook, for which I would be a wreck without.  Thank God for the invention of computers and internet!

We will be coming up on a year in El Salvador in April.  Our journey still seems like it's going to be a while.   I have to admit I am slightly jealous of the faster processing times of other countries.  It just doesn't seem fair that because my husband is from ES, we have to wait extra long, TWICE as long!  But we are here and one thing I've learned is that complaining and dwelling on it doesn't get me anywhere.  So I will be happy for my friends and continue on.  Hopefully a year from now, we will be getting our approval and will be celebrating our victory!  Until then we will carry on figuring out how the hell we are going to make it through the next year.  I admit I am anxious for a change, even if that change is here.  We need a sign that we are moving ahead in our lives, as we seem to only be getting bad signs all the time.  Will we ever catch a break??

Saturday, February 5, 2011

My Step-Kids

By the time I put Liliana down to sleep last night, the words for this post just wouldn't come together in my mind, so it's given me more time to think about everything.  This post is all about step-children and being a step-mother.  I know it's always a different situation for each family, but this is my experience so far.  
Maynor, Liliana, Daniela and Diana (our niece)
  To sum it up, being a step-mother has been frustrating to say the least.  I will give you a background to the children to understand where they are coming from.  Eduardo and his girlfriend got pregnant with Maynor when he was 18 just out of school.  She was still in school.  They got married and little over a year later had another baby, Daniela.  When Maynor was 2 years old and Daniela about 6 months, Eduardo went to the States to be able to provide a future for his family.  At the time he left, he and his wife had already split up.  He left the kids with her feeling that it was okay to leave because they atleast had their mother.  Then a year or two (not sure) later, Eduardo found out that his now ex-wife had left El Salvador and headed to the States as well, leaving the children behind.  This news was devastating because he had trusted her with them.

So where did that leave the kids?  She had left the kids in the care of her parents and had papers even written up.  The kids would then travel back and forth on the weekends, but not all, to Eduardo's mothers house.  I'm not sure if it was always like this, but it has been as long as I have known Eduardo.  So the poor children basically have grown up with their grandparents, only knowing their mother and father via telephone and webcams for the past 8 years. 
Liliana and Daniela
When Eduardo and I first got together, the knowledge of him having children didn't bother me too much.  Because our life was in the States it didn't really affect me.  He would send money every couple weeks and I knew he talked to them on a regular basis, but they were here I was there.  It was kinda "out of sight, out of mind."  Then when we decided to move to El Salvador, I knew things were going to change A LOT.  I was nervous as to how it was all going to work out, especially with Eduardo and I having our own child now, which upset the kids at first.  

Since being here for the past 9 months, we have had our share of ups and downs with the children.  It took them a while to warm up and there is still a long way to go with both Eduardo and myself.  They still live with their other grandparents and come here on the weekends.  Sometimes when they come, they are really happy to be here with their hearts wide open, but more than not they come somewhat reserved and stand-offish.  It has always been extremely frustrating for me.  Probably the hardest and most frustrating thing about being here are the kids.  It's hard because I cannot communicate with them and I desperately wish I could.  We try the best we can, but it's all surfacey stuff.  What makes it worse is that Eduardo's communication with them is not good and I wish sometimes that he would try harder to heal those relationships.  I don't always approve of the things that go on here, especially when the kids are involved, but I am often told "it's not my problem or business."  This is really hurtful because I want to open my heart fully to these kids and do all I can for them, but it's hard to feel to the desire when that's the response I get.  The kids are very close with Eduardo's mom which is natural.  She is basically their mother, but that relationship I feel hinders Eduardo's relationship with them.  
Fernando (a cousin), Eduardo and Maynor
I also feel that people in El Salvador just accept the way things are, they aren't into self-improvement or therapy or trying to heal relationships.  Atleast that's what I see.  Things are the way they are and that's it.  But that's such a frustrating attitude to me.  I have not been myself or the person I want and aspire to be since moving to El Salvador, but I do have the desire to be better and to improve my relationships, particularly with Eduardo.  I feel we need to model the behavior we want them and Liliana to see, but we don't.  Our communication has been terrible since moving here and we've grown distant.  I know that does not help in growing closer with the other kids.  But Liliana adores them and is so happy when they come.  She acts as the bridge between them and me and I think it helps to keep things light.  I am hoping our relationships can all change, only time will tell.

I had filed for residency for both Maynor and Daniela to be able to go to the States.  We paid the fees and were moving right along, but have come to a halt.  Their mother is refusing to sign the papers for them to get their passports and without passports they cannot get visas.  Everything has been put on hold.  It's very sad for them because they thought they were going and were so excited about it.  Now they know it probably won't happen for a long time.  I hope someday to be able to fly them back with us and take them to the zoo and to amusement parks and all the experiences of living in the States can bring.  They deserve that!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Nursing a Toddler

This seems to be a topic on my mind and of discussion a lot lately.  Then after reading this great article Breastfeeding until Age 3,4,5 or more on I couldn't resist sharing my story thus far.

I always knew I would breastfeed and I always knew I would practice "child-led weaning" where basically the child decides when he/she is ready to wean.  But what I didn't know is what nursing a baby over the age of 1year old would be like.  For the most part I love nursing.  I love that Liliana still wants that special time during the day and night where it's just her and me.  Sometimes she plays more than not and sometimes I find that humorous and sometimes I don't.  One thing I know is that Liliana's nursing is teaching me patience and teaching me the value of what "extended nursing" is doing for our relationship.  I understand that it's not for everyone and have questioned myself at times, but I know that we will not stop until both of us are mutually ready.  There have been times recently when I have been frustrated by night-nursing.  It can be wearing on me and I find my irritibility a little more high when I haven't slept well. But in the last couple of days I have come to peace with it again.  I always remind myself how soon it will be that Liliana will be off all the time too busy for all the mami time, so I want to savor our "special" moments.

One of the great things about nursing a toddler is when she is throwing a tantrum or upset, she can sit down and have "chi chi" to calm down.  Sometimes she is too wrapped up in her tantrum to even nurse, but when she does, it's an instant calm.  The other thing is that Liliana has never eaten a whole lot.  She grazes all day long so I guess it's hard to tell, but she's always been on the smaller side.  I feel confident in the fact that I know she is getting a lot of what she needs from breastmilk, though she does still take her supplements and loves to!

The thing I loved the most when I first visited El Salvador was how open everyone is about nursing.  Most women nurse their babies and toddlers and it's not a big deal.  Nobody wears cover-ups to be discreet and noone is ashamed of nursing and they shouldn't be!  It's so different than how a lot of women feel in the States where I still get looks on the plane for nursing and get comments from family.

But here is what has been interesting lately;  One of our aunt's here in ES has 8 children and nursed them all.  Her youngest is a couple months older than Liliana.  He recently stopped nursing and since then, my MIL seems to think it's now time for Liliana to stop as well.  That's fine.  They can have their opinions, but that part that bugs me is that my MIL is constantly telling Liliana how yucky "chi chi" is and how it has poo poo and other yucky stuff on it.  Thank god Liliana doesn't buy into it, though she did cry the first few times her abuela told her that.  Now she just says "no, abuela" and continues to nurse.  There are lots of other cousins (3 and 4 years old) in the family still nursing so I know it's very common here and nobody looks at me funny anywhere we go still, it's just this idea my MIL seems to have gotten in her head.  And like most things that happen here, I am told to "let it go."  This seems to be where my blog comes in!  Here I get to write whatever I want and feel good about my choices as a mother.  I don't think I'm perfect, but to Liliana I am and that's all that matters to me.

Liliana and I will continue our nursing relationship until we are ready to stop and I will keep you posted when that will be.  She is currently 26 months old and going strong!  I love that this is the one place Eduardo really feels he has no control over and doesn't really bother me about it at all.  Ha!!

Yes, nursing a toddler can test your nerves and be frustrating, but it can also be rewarding.  As long as we both have mutual respect for the relationship it will continue.  I know especially in the States, nursing a toddler is "taboo", but there are so many women out there that are doing it and not saying anything.  How sad is that?  Women feel they have to hide their breastfeeding?!  This will be added to a future post about why I'm not sure how I feel about my own country anymore.

Happy Breastfeeding!!

Taking a break to nurse on the beach!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Trip to the Beach

Liliana ready for the beach!
Our Uncle Lalo from across the street came over last night and invited us to the beach today.  He offered to pay for the food and we just pay for gas and extras.  How could we resist such an invitation?!  So we got ready and left this morning at 9am hoping to get there in time to get a cabana right at the front overlooking the ocean.  Well that certainly was not a problem and turned out there were far less people than the last time we went on a weekend.  We went to Playa Metalio just off the highway to Guatemala and only about 30 minutes from us.  There are several restaurants to choose from, but we opted for The Blue Mary.  You pay $1 to get in and it was $5 for the cabana.  We took our own hammock so we didn't need to pay for that.  We also took drinks and snacks for the all-day excursion.  It was a great day.  We all indulged in the fish of the day, a platter that included the whole fried fish, salad, potato salad, rice and tortillas.  All for $5 a plate!  It was delicious.
This beach happens to be the nicest I have experienced in San Salvador.  The other ones I have been to have black sand that's not even soft enough to play in and lots and lots of rocks.  Not much fun I would say.  This beach is wonderful.  Palm trees line the beach for miles and the sand is just what you would hope for.  And no rocks!  

The only disappointment is that Liliana still doesn't like the ocean.  She absolutely LOVES water.  She will play outside at the house in the water for hours.  She's always loved baths and showers and likes going to the pool or the nearby rivers to swim.  But the ocean, that's a whole other level of water loving for her and she hasn't quite gotten there yet.  I can imagine how immense it must feel to one so little.  And the waves going in and out and making such noise must be a little overwhelming.  I am hoping one day soon she will begin to love it as much as her mami does so we can take long walks on the beach, collecting seashells and walking in the water.  Not to mention playing in the sand, which she absolutely hates as well!  She won't even walk barefoot in it, let alone play in it.  I'm not a fan of sand stuck all over me, but running my feet through it and playing in it is fun.  Like I said, someday soon she will hopefully beg me to take her to the beach.  She loves going now, just won't go in the water or near the sand ;)

Days like today make me grateful to live in El Salvador and not be in Indiana during this winter season!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

La Mercado

The bounty of freshness I bought at the market today!
All this for $12.00.  Time to get cookin'.
One of my favorite things about living in El Salvador is the availability and variety of fresh fruits, veggies, meats, fish, breads and anything else you can imagine on a daily basis.  Every city and town here has a mercado, or market, that is open from the wee hours of the morning to late afternoon.  There are vendors that sell everything you can imagine.  It's like a huge Farmers Market.  I've always loved going to Farmers Markets in the States, but here it's a whole other experience.  Some mercados I don't like to attend as they line the sides of very busy streets and intersections, but our mercado here in Izalco is just the right size and has the right amount of safety for me.  I like to go every few days and stock up on the fresh produce I will cook with the following days.  Since the mercado is open 7 days a week, you can always find what you need.  And days like today are extra special when I found that okra and beets are back in season.  Two of my favorites!  I will be posting some recipes of what I make with various vegetables in the future.  

As well as the mercado there are street vendors you can buy from along any road anywhere you go.  And my favorite are all the people that walk by our house every day selling things.  We literally will go a week without leaving the house simply because we don't have to.  Everything comes right to us.  It is custom to eat bread and coffee every afternoon around 4pm so you will hear ladies walking around with their big baskets full of pan, or bread, every afternoon and in the evenings, yelling "pan."  Liliana has always found this quite humorous and still enjoys mimicking them.