Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Pros and Cons of Living in El Salvador

There are things I miss about El Salvador and then there are things I definitely do not miss about living in El Salvador.  I decided to break it down for ya:

Things I miss about living in El Salvador:

- Eduardo!!
- Having extended family around to help with Liliana and keep her entertained.
- The laid-back vibe
- Being able to go to the beach
- The generosity and kindness of the people
- Not being judged for breastfeeding anywhere or anytime
- Not feeling so body-conscious as in the States
- Being able to play loud music any time of day and have it not bother anyone
- Liliana getting to play outside all the time
- Liliana learning Spanish and English at the same time
- Liliana having her brother and sister around to play and bond with on the weekends

Things I DO NOT miss about El Salvador:

- The unbearable heat without air conditioning
- The cockroaches and bugs
- Feeling like I was in jail in my own house
- Not feeling safe because of the violence
- Being sick all the time from the food or water
- Not having access to the foods I want to eat
- Not having money to do fun things
- Being frustrated with the language barrier
- Insanely high gas prices
- Not having any privacy due to extended family always being around
- The air pollution
- The general uncleanliness of the country
- The trash everywhere
- Having to cook outside
- Washing dishes with dirty pila water

Those are the things I can think of right now.  I've been thinking about these things a lot since being back in the States.  This is the first time I have come back here and not want to be back in El Salvador.  I desperately want to be with my husband, but not in El Salvador.  I hope we can all be back here together soon!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Getting By

We have now been in Indy for a little over a week.  I haven't written as we have still been super sick!  Liliana is finally feeling better today and left with her Nana and Pops to go furniture shopping.  I apparently have viral pneumonia and have been feeling pretty horrible.  I haven't been eating and barely sleeping the past few days.  The only way I seem to sleep is to take a vicodin ;)  But I don't like feeling drugged up all the time.  My face feels like it is going to explode with all the sinus congestion and my throat kills!

But enough complaining already!  Haha.  I guess this time being sick has given us some needed down time.  I had hoped to start working right away, but God had other plans for us.  My Grandma is coming from Michigan today to visit for the weekend and my aunt and family are coming up from Bloomington tomorrow.  At least Liliana will be socializing.  I will just be trying to get by.

I'm honestly surprised only a week has gone by since we left Eduardo in El Salvador.  It feels so much longer.  We miss him a lot.  It's been hard with me being sick as my communication hasn't been the best, but we've still been talking all the time.  We're both really good with keeping in touch when we are not together and I love that about us.

Now that Liliana is feeling better, she is loving to hang out more with my mom and step-dad.  She's back to herself today, her independent little self.  She's so adorable!  I think the sickness distracted her from missing her papa too much at first.  It has been so hard being sick without having Eduardo here to help.  But we are making it through and I'm hopeful for our future here for the summer.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Long Journey

Okay so we are still alive everyone.  Don't worry.  I find I get a little (ok, a lot) off on my routines when we travel.  And this trip only made that worse.  We missed our connection in Ft. Lauderdale from Guatemala City and had to stay the night in Florida.  Then catch a flight from Florida to Detroit and Detroit to Indy the next day. It was a long few days, especially after the 4 hour drive to Antigua the day before that.  BUT, we are here!

Unfortunately what I thought was jetlag is a virus Liliana and I seem to have picked up on our travels.  Neither one of us is feeling well at all which is another excuse for not checking in.  I've had a toddler attached to my boob 24 hours a day it feels like ;)  She's finally sleeping by herself in the hammock at this moment in the middle of the night so I can do a quick update.

My parents have sold the house we are in and we will all be moving out of here in a month.  So it's been a little crazy because they don't have a new house yet.  It's definitely going to be an interesting few months here.

Liliana started getting homesick today, asking for Eduardo a lot.  I'm so mad that we couldn't afford a webcam for the computer in ES, so we can't Skype with papito!  Once I start making some money, I hope to send one down there so Liliana can see her papi.  But there are a lot of things that have to happen before I start working.  It's all a mess.

Anyway, I will be writing about all our trials and tribulations of life without my husband in the States and will still be writing about ES as well.  I have a lot in my head , so watch out!!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Big Decisions

I have a hard time with big decisions.  Little decisions are one thing, but the bigger they get the more stressed out I get.  I think so much my head wants to explode.  The past week Eduardo and I have been dabbling in the idea of Liliana and I returning to the States for a while.  We have many reasons for this, but I was really scared to actually take the jump and commit to it.  I can't even remember what the thing was that finally got me, but I woke up one morning a couple days ago and just knew we had to go.  I talked with Eduardo about it and he was supportive.  Not that he wants us to leave, but he has been saying how he would feel more comfortable with us going because of all the violence here at the moment.

The next part of commiting to this venture was buying the plane tickets.  That is the most stressful thing I ever do. Having to commit to a day and time and shelling out so much money scares me.  But I took the leap of faith and did it.  Today I bought our plane tickets.  We will be flying out of Guatemala as it's significantly less expensive.  I'm excited about it because we will go the day before and head to Antigua, which we LOVE.  I can also buy all the artisan stuff for selling in the States.  A lot of the bead jewelry I buy is made in Antigua and we're excited to meet with our friend we met there who owns a store.

But I'm also sad.  This is never what I intended to happen.  I never wanted to leave Eduardo alone here and I never wanted to separate him from Liliana.  I have to admit I start crying every time I'm alone for even a minute.  It's breaking my heart, but I know it must be done.

I can make money at the farmers markets through the summer selling my Cultured Veggies and selling my Artisan crafts.  I hope to make money to take care of things like going to the doctor if I need to and seeing a therapist, which will help our hardship case as well.   But I also have to pay back the plane tickets and still buy the next round so we'll see.

I don't have an exact plan, but maybe it's better that way.  We will stay with my mom unless it doesn't work out and then I have a back of plan of staying with my best friend.  My thought is we will stay for 2 months, but I'm open to more or less time depending on how everything goes and how Liliana handles it all.

So we leave this Wednesday coming up!  We will head to Guatemala on Tuesday.  Since we are leaving before Eduardo and my anniversary we will have a day to celebrate just the 3 of us.  And then we are on to Indianapolis.  Well first Ft. Lauderdale, then Atlanta and then Indianapolis.  It will be crazy, but I'm praying we make it through.

I will write more about all this and our reasoning, but wanted to share our big decision with you all!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Another Tooth Pulled

After a month of trying to get into our dentist here in ES, we finally got Liliana in for her dental work on Saturday morning.  We knew from the brief check-up that the two molars that were filled before had cavities again.  The fillings had come out.  Also, one of the two front teeth was going to get a crown since the tooth the dentist had built kept chipping because the tooth underneath it was clinging to was too tiny.  To read more about Liliana's teeth from the beginning, check out Liliana's Teeth and Liliana's Dental Surgery.  

We got there around 8am.  Luckily the dentist is only 2 blocks from our house:)  The dentist had hired a different guy to put Liliana to sleep and we were all a little nervous about it.  He does things differently than the first guy we used a while back.  The first time they put her to sleep completely.  It was really traumatic for me because they had to stick a tube down her throat and pump oxygen into her lungs the whole time.  This time the guy gave her a shot and it knocked her out right away.  It was different because it puts you to sleep, but not as deep as the other method and is supposed to have less side effects and she could breath on her own.  They still monitor he heart and everything, which was a relief.  I have to say this way was better because it wasn't traumatic for Liliana and when she woke up it was just like she was waking up from having a nap instead of really freaked out.
We snapped a couple pics for before and after, but it was hard to do.
The bad news is that when she went in to look at the front tooth, it had a huge whole in the back and was unable to be saved.  Also, one of the side teeth she has is super tiny.  The infection was taken out, but it looked really bad, like it's not being taken care of.  We asked if we should just take it out and the dentist agreed because she said it will be really hard to take out later since it's so small.  So the poor baby had 2 teeth pulled and 2 cavities filled.
The tooth on the right got removed.
Eduardo and I were devastated about pulling the front tooth because she is now left with 1 front tooth out of the 4 on top.  It's been bugging her a bit because it's rubbing on her lower lip, but I think it just needs time to adjust in her mouth.  We beat ourselves up for a few minutes in the waiting room and I had a little cry doubting our parenting abilities, wondering what we could have done differently to avoid all this.  After a few minutes, Eduardo reminded me that there's no point in thinking what we could have done.  We have to move and and see what we can do from here.

The dentist told us that Liliana's teeth decay 3 times quicker than anyone else's, adult or child.  She is just blow away at the rate of decay in her mouth.  So that means we need to be even more diligent about taking care of them.  They need to be brushed every time she eats, even snacks.  Especially if it's crackers or cookies she said since that stuff stays in your teeth longer.

So we have been good about it so far I think.  It's not easy because Liliana fights us every step of the way, but we are doing what we have to and as a good friend told me "someday when she is older she will appreciate the lengths you went through to save her teeth."
Daniela and Liliana with her 1 front tooth!  Still beautiful as ever!!
I think she is still detoxing all the anesthesia, medication and infection that was in her little body.  It took a while to stop the bleeding and the holes are still healing.  She threw up a couple times the following hours after the procedure.  I think it was a reaction to everything.  She wakes up at night and tells me not to take her to the dentist...poor baby!  I think she's having nightmares.  And she's also teething her molars!  But she's healing well and getting better.  And I know without a doubt, she will be feeling so much better getting all that infection out of her body.  I think we will see major improvements in her weight gain as well.  We already have.  Hopefully we can avoid any more complications.

We did quickly discuss the option of putting in "baby dentures" in the next year or so.  Eduardo and I discussed it right away and are pretty sure we will be getting that done on those 3 missing teeth.  It won't affect the big teeth coming in and it will look a lot better.  Since she will be like this for another 6 years or so, I think it would be best.  Maynor had the same thing happen to him when he was around 6 years old and he told me how devastating it was to only have 1 front tooth.  Hearing the anguish in his voice alone made me want to get the dentures.  It's not so bad in El Salvador, but honestly in the States people are way more vain and judgmental about appearances and for Liliana's sake I don't want her going through that.  I'll let you know what we decide when that day comes!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Quotes on Motherhood

"When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts.  A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child."  ~Sophia Loren,Women and Beauty

The heart of a mother is a deep abyss at the bottom of which you will always find forgiveness.

 "We never know the love of the parent until we become parents ourselves." 
- Henry Ward Beecher

"The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother."

"Children and mothers never truly part. They're bound in the beating of each other's heart."

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Words of the Week

I decided I will do a post each week on the new words Liliana is learning.  She is learning at such a fast rate.  I am completely in awe and blown away at all the new stuff that comes out of her mouth every day.  I always have to stop and have her repeat things to make sure I'm hearing it right.  And sure enough, it's a new word.  She's learning in both English and Spanish.  It feels like she is learning more English right now, but I think that maybe it just feels like that to me because I don't speak very much Spanish or understand even all of her Spanish words.  Eduardo has been telling me some of the new phrases and words she is saying in Spanish, but I find it harder to remember everything he tells me.  With the English stuff, there's no thought process at all.  I just remember.  I also want to add that Liliana has also moved on to phrases, not just words.  She's putting words together now really well and forming full sentences.  So cute to watch a 2 1/2 year old speaking!  So here's what she's come up with this past week or so:  (lots of words ending in "-ing")

Come in
Come on
I'll be back
See ya later


I also have to add that the -ing words are coming out just as -in at the end of the works, like walkin, talkin, cookin, washin.  It's like she has this accent at the end that's really too cute for words.  It makes me laugh every time.  

Friday, May 6, 2011

U.S. Citizen Mtg at the Embassy in ES

I went to a "Town Hall Meeting at the US Embassy in San Salvador on Wednesday afternoon.  I went with my good gringa friend Sarah who is living in El Salvador for the same reasons as us.  She had gotten an email about the meeting and let me know about it.  It was for any U.S. citizens residing in El Salvador.  We thought this might be a good opportunity and decided to check it out.  

There was a large room full of people, mostly elderly and other people there working for various organizations. We seemed to be the only ones in our situation present. The talk lasted about an hour and a half. They went through each head of the departments who got up and spoke about what they do, how they contribute to ES and so forth. 

The last person to speak was the representative for DHS, The Department for Homeland Security. She said she works alongside Paul Mitchell. She basically is "the woman" who decides the fates of all of our lives. She went on to tell the group how last year they processed 15,000 immigrant cases. Not approved, but processed. She also stated how the wait time is currently at 12 months, which to that I gave a "look" to Sarah because we all know that's not the truth. That's about all she said about it during her little introduction, but we got to meet face-to-face with her after the meeting!

Sarah and I had a one-on-one with the head of the immigration cases! We each spoke about our individuals cases and asked questions. There was so much to ask and so much going through my mind. I asked if our case would go more quickly since we already went through 6 months of AP, Administrative Processing,  for hubby's tattoo. She said "no", but the cases are put in order by the date you pay the waiver fee. This was big news. Not for us because they wouldn't let us pay until after the AP was over and we turned the waiver in, but that's a different story than what everyone on Immigrate2US hears. What I've heard there is that it's the date in which DHS receives the waiver and she said that's not the case. When they receive it back at the embassy they put it in order by the pay date. Interesting!  Again, for us that's only a difference of 1 week, but I guess even a week is better than nothing.

We also discussed the wait time since she was adament about it being only 12 months. She said the reason the date they are working on on the Embassy website is for October 2009 is because they had over 200 cases for that month alone. Out of those cases, they have processed all but 27 cases and those that they haven't processed from October yet are "more complicated". She said they cannot change the date on the website until they have completed the rest of those 27 left. That's why the website seems to stay the same all the time. She said they have moved on to other months and that she herself has been processing cases from June 2010! This news is really good to hear. At least they truly are moving ahead.  But she said it herself. It just depends how "complicated" the case it. So yes, they get processed in order, but if there's a "complication" it could set you back months I guess.

The next thing we both asked affects us a lot. We asked if living in El Salvador while we are waiting will have a negative effect on our cases and she answered a definite "yes". I guess I already knew this, but it was hard to hear. She said if you are living in El Salvador then what is your hardship? You're already proving you can do it. And danger in ES and issues like that, they don't even take into consideration! I told the gangs coming to our house and being afraid for our safety and her response was "that happens to all Salvdorans every day." I wanted to scream at that response. It got me feeling very depressed. 

I've already felt we don't have any real major hardships and now I feel we have even less. I guess the fact that we go weeks barely being able to eat and my daughter and I are sick all the time are "normal" things to experience and that doesn't mean we need to go back to the States! Uggh!!!  The definition of "extreme hardships" is such a fine line and a really shitty one!

She was a nice lady, but she definitely told it like it is. She didn't sugar coat anything. She did take down Sarah's information since it's been a year since they turned their waiver in and said she would look into it, but didn't take mine since it hasn't been a year yet. 

I'm really glad we went, but I've been feeling really down again.  I had some renewed hope for a while and it seems to have gotten thrown out the window again.  I'm constantly racking my brain trying to figure out what hardships I can prove and how.  I've even thought about having people write personal testimonies about their experience of me since we've been in El Salvador to show that I simply cannot live here forever.  I'm going to send an email off to our attorney and get her opinion and then go from there.  I have medical things that I could use, but we don't have the money to even go to see doctors to get the letters we need.  The system definitely knows how to put you between a rock and a hard place!  

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Gang Threats

Tuesday Night:
This has been my #1 concern about living in El Salvador.  It's no secret that gangs in El Salvador are growing by the day and the violence continues at an alarming rate.  Until now we haven't had a problem since we've lived here and I've always felt blessed by this.  We have always been quite cautious about things, not overly exposing ourselves.  Well maybe we have gotten too comfortable.

This morning a guy came to our tienda early in the morning asking to speak to Eduardo.  He was gone for the day and my MIL told him that.  I don't have all the details, but basically he said he needs to speak with Eduardo and he will be back.  He said we need to pay him $2000.  She said we don't have that kind of money and he said he has seen our car parked outside and we can sell it and give him the money.

Maybe this is why it's almost 3am and I'm still awake.  I can't stop thinking.  This happened once before to my MIL the winter before we moved here.  Long story short, she called the police finally and after a while they found out the men were actually doing everything from Guatemala and they supposedly caught them.  I used this information in our I-601 Waiver Packet, but we couldn't get evidence from the police because there wasn't an "official report" filed.  Such a crock!  And without evidence my word doesn't mean much to the Department of Homeland Security and that means even with threats to our lives, there no real reason my family should move to the US or why we can't live in El Salvador.  The politics of our immigration system is infuriating.

So where does that leave us now?  I'm not sure.  We will have to wait it out and see what happens over the next few days.  It's just so frustrating because we hardly ever leave the house as it is.  I go to the mercado maybe once every 10 days or so and just to the grocery store every few days.  Poor Liliana begs to go out of the house and on walks and screams because I won't take her.  But this is why.  It's just not safe.  That's the reality.  The reality is people are watching us ALL the time.  Our car is kinda flashy for El Salvador standards and I'm obviously very white skinned.  So we stick out like a sore thumb.  Eduardo thinks we've gotten too comfortable, but I think we've just gotten too stir crazy.  Thank God I can blog!!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Bilingual Blog Carnival

Hey, I found out about this blog carnival tonight that I want to share.  It's all about bilingualism!  Very cool.  I haven't had the chance to read all the blogs yet, but want to share them anyway.  Hope you enjoy too!  Remember, just because you only speak one language in your house doesn't mean you can't be bilingual.  Open up the doors to learning a new language.  It can be fun for the whole family!  I'm blessed that my daughter is growing up bilingual and there are so many advantages to it.  So check out what these fabulous bloggers have to say about the subject:

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Liliana's Green Golashes

My mom recently got Liliana a new pair of green golashes for the rain.  I remember last year I wished we had a pair for her during the rainy season in El Salvador.  It can rain for 2 months straight and it gets really muddy and our street turns into a river.  It's been raining a little bit each day for a few weeks now and Liliana hates the rain, but LOVES her rain boots!  It's so adorable.  She even wants to wear them around all the time.  I think it's because they are super easy for her to get on and off by herself and they must be really comfy.  We will definitely be investing in more rain boots over the years :)