Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Our Advent Readings this year: "Good News of Great Joy"

Children on board. What a difference do they make when it comes to experience the holidays! Well, at least that's how we feel. It seems like we are dealing with a complete different animal!  I don't think we had ever been surrounded or better being aware of so many community events, Christmas parties, gifts exchanges, parades, presentations, etc, etc, as we are now.  It really feels like upgrading to a new level of "busyness"!!

OK, ok, I don't want to rain on anybody's parade. We are actually enjoying it. We really had a good time putting our tree up, and letting our little one helping us hang the ornaments for first time.  I have a gingerbread house on the counter waiting to be decorated, and a cookie making family event lined up on the schedule. We are looking forward to have a simple family gift exchange and actually this year we are planning to get together with some neighbors to celebrate, which doesn't happen very frequently. So yes, we believe this is a wonderful season to create family memories and reach out to our community. However, it's the crazy-ness and the busyness feeling around the air that gets me.

We are learning that the "crazy-ness" of the season finds its perfect breeding environment in a culture that heavily market on children by selling to their parents the need of making sure every Christmas must be memorable for their little ones. And of course, since we're relatively new to the parenting scenario, we hadn't felt the full force of this phenomenon before. Now, we believe every Christmas should be memorable, however the means and the reasons why our culture wants to make it memorable are way off the real thing. So much busyness makes one wonder "why", if the One that we celebrate CHRISTmas for had such a simple and modest birth. Yet, history changing.

Now, there's nothing wrong with enjoying the "jolly" of the season. However as a family we really want to make sure we make it memorable for the right reasons and in the right way. That's why we are trying to start a new tradition at home with our family Advent readings. We know for sure this is not the only way to prepare our hearts to celebrate the birth of Jesus into this world. But we are trying to keep it simple and not let ourselves be sucked up on the frenzy of the commercialization of the holiday. I feel giving priority to quietly follow these readings at home with our family is going to keep our hearts and minds in check instead of driving ourselves insane with over-scheduling. This year we are using one of the free resources found in Desiring God. We love all the materials they have available for spiritual growth. Their website is such a treasure chest, we really encourage you to check it out! The Advent Study we are following is called "Good News of Great Joy" and they even gave me permission to translate the readings into Spanish to make them available for those of you Spanish Speakers. Click here to go to the translation  We hope this is a handy resource to enrich your Christmas, and help you make your Christmas memorable for the right reason, to receive the best gift that has ever been given in the history of humanity. The Gift of our Savior. May he be always not only the center of your Christmas, but also the center of your life!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Making Greek Yogurt at the Bush's

It may sound funny to you, but hubby really thinks his daily breakfast was directly sent from heaven! He says breakfast can't get any better than the "milk and honey" he gets every morning. You got it, he thinks the kitchen is the "promise land" where his "milk and honey" A.K.A Greek yogurt flows..Now don't ask me about how he fits the "Greek" part in the story ok.

Well, funny or not, I am completely delighted knowing that I don't have to second guess what he wants for breakfast everyday, and that I can provide as much as he likes (And that's a lot, people!) without breaking the family grocery budget. A quart of a comparable quality Greek yogurt from the store is about $4.50. (We like Cabot Greek). So at our normal rate of 6 quarts per month, we save about $14 a month or almost $170 a year saved on just one item! And that's without counting in the added value of having a homemade product with no yucky chemicals added. =)

Plus you can add whatever fresh fruit you want!

Ok, I have gotten enough people asking me about how to do yogurt at home. So even as I know the response is just "You tube" away, I want to share how we do it here for future reference. I will include the little lessons we've learned over almost 2 years of making it home.


This is what you'll need:

1. A big pot: Bear in mind that the more you do, the less work you have to do.  I decided  to use a 20qt pot at home to be able to make 2 gallons of milk which yields about 3 quarts of creamy Greek yogurt. Enough to last us for two weeks.

2. Milk: As stated above 1 gallon yields about 1.5 qts. We use whole milk, as we don't like using diet products at home, specially diary. We respect other people's choices, but we personally dislike the chemicals added to skim milk, and personally believe that a decrease on consumption of healthy saturated fats can increase your cravings for carbs and sugars, which ultimately make you fatter. If you want to read more about it, you can go here. Or here. I warn you, this is a highly polemical subject. And it's ok if you disagree. You just do whatever you think is best for your family. You should know though, that the consistency of your homemade Greek yogurt will vary depending on your choice. Skim milk yields a less thick product. 

3. A Yogurt Starter: You'll need this just the first time you're making yogurt. After that you can keep reusing your own as a starter for years! We were recommended the brand "Seven Stars Farm". And we really think is the best. Well, not as good as the one made at home. But a second best. =) 

4. A Food Thermometer: We use a digital one with a probe on a cable that we just throw in the milk.

5. A Bowl or two: Depending on how much you're making.

6. A Strainer that fits your bowl(s)

7. 1 piece of Cheese-Cloth or Paper Towels: I like to use cheese cloth not only to go the greener route, (It's washable & reusable), but also saves you money in the long run. Because unless you use high quality paper towel, you may end up with yucky  pieces of paper towel in your yogurt. Bear in mind to never bleach your cheese-cloth, just wash it with warm water and  soap. I normally leave it soaking overnight on  a 50/50 solution of water & vinegar after I wash it.

8. A Heating Pad: We just use the same one we use for aching muscles. I can't recall using it for its real purpose, but just to make yogurt at home! =P

Ok. That's it. Here are your directions:

1. Pour milk in pot

2. Place on Med-high heat on stove

3. Stir: You can stir on an off the first few minutes, but once the milk gets warmer & warmer you want to stir more and more often. Milk can get burned at the botton of the pot, and you REALLY NEED to avoid this. With experience you'll learn how often you need to stir.

4. Measure the temperature: The goal is to take the pot off the heat at 185 degrees Fahrenheit    If this is the first time you're doing this, you want to drop your thermometer in the milk right after the milk starts getting warm. With experience, you'll learn that you can wait until you see bubbles forming around the round edges of the milk.

5. Take off the heat and let sit until temperature reaches 120 degrees: You may want to stir occasionally to avoid the cream to form a crust on top of your milk, unless you want to get rid of some cream. We try not to!

Unless you forget to stir, as you see on this picture..oops!

6. Add 2 heaped TBS of your yogurt starter. 

7. Cover with lid and place on top of your heating pad.

8. Let stand undisturbed for 10 hours or overnight

9. At this point you have regular yogurt and you don't have to do anything else if that's what you want. But keep on going if you want to "greekefy" it. =)

10. Set up your bowl(s), strainer(s), and liners as shown on the picture:

Use a double layer to maximize the straining process. ;)

11. Pour yogurt into the strainers with ladle:

12. Cover and let sit in fridge for another 6-8 hours. 

13. At this point you'll have Greek yogurt and whey. I normally save some of the whey to lacto-ferment other foods. You can get lots of ideas and benefits of lactofermentation on the book "Nourishing Traditions" or the Weston Price foundation website.

Ok that's it. Enjoy with whatever fits you fancy and have seconds!! Or use it as part of many other recipes. Do you know Greek yogurt is the base to make yummy Tzatziki sauce? There's another idea. ;)

Saturday, July 14, 2012

How Losing Taught Me How to Love Best

4 weeks into notes about my slow personal study on 1 Corinthians 13…a few  verses at a time. Different angles, bunches of insights I hadn’t thought about before. Lots of verse references I think the Holy Spirit had timely brought to my intention to think deeply about what I was learning.  I few tears when facing some lessons.  Plenty of questions.  Pages and pages of notes that I would use to type up this post.  All gone in a second.  I lost it all, deleted inadvertently from my Ipad by my own hand, and with no clue about how to get it back.  I would love to say that I felt a natural impulse to just let go quietly and don’t think about it much.  After all, I was studying 1 Corinthians 13, the most quoted chapter about love in the bible…and love is PATIENT, isn’t it? Well I hated myself for a few moments to be honest with you. Why was I so s..silly?

My first impulse was just plain discouragement to stop my daily study.  After all I had already put a lot of effort into this while battling a very rough morning sickness. That, I thought should give me enough credit, plus I guess after all that study I had already gotten the point of the chapter right? Well, obviously I had not.  I've had got ZERO credit.  And I guess I needed to experience this little loss to just start getting it.  How is that?

Well, the main point about the chapter was TO LOVE. DUHHH!...Do I really even need to spend the time saying it?  Yes.  That’s one of the main points of the chapter.  Yet I wasn’t getting it.  I was unconsciously thinking that this chapter was about understanding and writing nicely about love, instead of about actually loving.  So basic.  Yet, it happens to me and many more so often! especially when we sign up for a bible study that includes discussion.  I don’t think the Lord wanted me to go thru this study to say at the end, “I GOT IT”, as much as to say “I AM DOING IT”..Ouchh!

Well, this takes me to the second point, which I promise will be pretty short.  After thinking a bit about actually doing the thing..I realized, that for as much as I want to be kind, patient, to not envy,  not be proud, not be dishonest with others, not be self-seeking, not be easily angry, not keep record of wrongs, to not delight in evil, but rejoice in truth, to always protect, always trust, always hope, to always persevere…I CAN'T DO IT. This is something that does not flow naturally. My natural tendencies will always lead me exactly the opposite direction. So that’s when I realized, that the only way that I can actually love this way, is to let God do it thru me. Which means that I will have to take another action step to not just theorize about God, but persistently and confidently  try to get closer and closer to Him so that He transforms me into that perfect prism that can reflect the multiple colors of his love. I am, and will remain being sadly opaque being apart from Him.  Therefore,  this is not a matter of duty or willpower, but of inability. To find fulfillment as I learn to relate to others in the way He intended, I need to love Him first and get lost in Him. Get lost so I can be found.  Get Lost in Him so I can find and be filled with His love to only then be able to irradiate it.  I know this is not an overnight process.  It involves a lifetime of constant effort, some standing up after failures, and some frustration before getting accomplishments.  But I am relieved when I think that as in many places in the bible, 1 Corinthians 13 is a model which God wants us to strive for, not a list of rules by which to shortchange ourselves.  

That’s it. Not a big head, but a big, willing and obedient heart as a goal. The pretty old and beat up line of “Love is a Verb” sinking into my soul, and “The How” I cooperate with God to let that happen. Thanks God for leaving with us the perfect model of this chapter. And because we are saved because of His love and not our own. Let Him take all the credit! Our Dear Jesus…Let us be more like you dear Jesus. Teach us to GET LOST IN YOU, SO THAT WE LOVE LIKE YOU!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Sharing the Baby News Early: Our Healing Experience

 I must confess that I am the happiest and most grateful prego mommy I’ve ever been. Yes, that is in spite of a stubborn and very debilitating morning sickness which kind of feels like an unwanted but necessary companion giving me indications that I am on the right course.  Last week we went to get my first ultrasound done and we were absolutely delighted to see the Baby’s first picture on the monitor.  What a heartwarming view..and sound! That strong heartbeat was like the sound of powerful drums celebrating the miracle of life and telling me everything will be alright! =)

Let me introduce you to Baby Bush # 3..Isn't he/she precious!

 You see, the last week of the past month was not an easy week for me.  As I slowly walked thru every day of the 10th week of my pregnancy, I couldn’t help but remember that was the week my 2nd baby, Jesse, went with the Lord.  I know many of you would silently scream at me with something like this: “Oh, Paola, but it’s so fool of you to dwell on that memory!”  However, I need to say that walking down a bit on memory lane was a necessary stop I had to make now.  In there, I was actually able to cherish the memory of my little Jesse whom I will someday see again, and I was also able to dwell in God’s promises as I confirm the reason why we decided to share the news  of our pregnancy so early.

Here I must say for the sake of the many mommies, some of them I know and deeply respect and appreciate that prudently decide to keep their pregnancy news private until the sensitive terrain of any possibility of miscarriage has for the most part been conquered. To those mommies I extend my heart with sisterly words of love and affirmation as I completely understand how some find it easier to cope with the potential feelings of pain and loss in the privacy of our own hearts and homes.

Baby giving us a " thumbs up, everything's fine here!" =)

However, not all of us are made out of the same pattern. I actually found most of my healing when I was able to externalize my feelings of pain and anguish first to God to be able to shelter myself in the comfort of His consoling presence and promises, and then get assurance and comfort on the empathetic words of those around that loved us and cared.  Now, walking on the brink of my second trimester and dismissing most probabilities of miscarriage, I do celebrate not only baby growing healthy and stronger, but also the reason why we shared the news early.

Basically, we did it first because we wanted to honor the memory of the little one we lost, as we believed that he was a person, a gift given to us since the very first moment of his conception.  In our minds and hearts we should celebrate our babies since the very beginning, knowing that they are conceived long before in the mind of God, and given His breath of life when that incomparable chromosomal fusion occurs. We believe that at that moment a life is given the gift of personhood, therefore a place in creation and eternity, and therefore in our families and affections.

Garrick sharing the news of a baby brother/sister on the way with the world! =)

Now it would be very dishonest of me to say that sharing the news early, an opening myself publicly to a potential unwanted turn of events wasn’t easy. Of course I dealt with feelings of fear.  However, I found comfort and affirmation on the fact that we were celebrating the lives that have been so far gifted to our family and we were respecting their right of finding a safe place in our home, both the one that we can see, smell and touch, and that one that has even a stronger presence in our affections and spiritual selves.

So in closure, I want to celebrate our family of 4, I also want to celebrate all that multitude of babies whose face we never saw, but which will see one day in heaven regardless of whether they were wanted or unwanted, openly or silently mourned. I want to celebrate the miracle of life and the joy that brings to us. I want to thank God for partnering with us to create life with our bodies and for allowing us being born into the role of parenthood through it. What a wonderful thought it is to know that our maker entrust us not only with a little body to train and love, but also with a soul..a potential and very desired piece of heaven!

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb." Psalm 139:13

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

In Need of a Wordy Wash

I’ve heard it said that water is the unique element ensuring the existence of life. That’s the reason why endeavors to explore other planets and galaxies focus among other things to find this sacred elixir. Water has chemical and physical properties that make it critical for the proliferation of life; from the molecular to the macroscopic scale we always see water taking a critical role in the biological world.

Now, biology is not the only context giving water a prominent role. A rapid search of places in the bible where water is mentioned brings up more than 600 references!  Actually the very second verse of the bible says that the Spirit was hovering over the waters”.  In the same way just a couple of verses before the end of the bible we find these words: “Let the one who is thirsty come, and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the Water of life”.  I find these facts fascinating, especially when some time ago I was reading the very well known Psalm 1, and for some reason I was prompted, I want to say by the Spirit, to “hover” on verses  2 and 3. I am copying the verses for those that may not be familiar with them:

“Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the LORD,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prosper.”

It’s interesting that the same verses appear on Jeremiah 17:7-8 where God spoke to the Israelites thru the prophet trying to bring them back to Him.  Now, I remember having heard a few times before of a parallel relationship among “Water”, “Jesus”, and the “Word”.  I have always taken this fact as a given, but never studied the reasons behind it to verify whether it was right or wrong.   However, this time as I focused on these two verses and decided to dive in a little more, I found strong ground for this analogy.  I have also found that this analogy has important repercussions for my life both at the thought and practical level, not only because I want to be that individual who is like a tree planted by streams of water, but also because we are in the endeavor of making our family that kind of a tree.

This is how these two verses stroke a special chord in my heart this time. As I grow stronger into my “mother” role and figure out all about this business of molding a family, -Which by the way I don’t ever expect to grasp fully while here on earth;  I am being reminded of the vital, more critical ingredients to accomplish so.

Now, when you have been a Christian for over two decades, even it takes a lot less sometimes, you start taking lots of things for granted.  You think that you have already heard not all, but at least the most important things and you just find a comfortable place of slow growth which makes you feel comfortable.  I hope that’s not the case of many around me.  But at least it was my place, until I came across with these verses, but this time aided by the Holy Spirit who put a magnifying glass over them and whispered: This is really what you need, if you really want to build your family as this type of tree.”

I understood it so clearly then. Verse 3 says that we will be planted by waters and verse two exactly explains what the waters mean, nothing else but the Word of God.  I know this sounds extremely basic for most Christians.  But the way verse two questioned me was:  Am I really, really delighting myself in the Law of the Lord?  Am I meditating on it day and night? My automatic answer would’ve been “yes” if I thought about my Sunday school and church attendance, and maybe reading some books here and there, and some periodic bible reading...but then, I realized that the right answer was a whooping “No”.  I shouldn’t call that type of interaction with the word a “delight” if I compare it with other activities I have no problem spending hours and hours on…like watching a movie for example.  Now I am not trying to advocate the legalistic side of things here, but what I was thinking is that if I want to become the type of mother that God wants me to be and if we want to build our families to be forts in God’s kingdom, we have to make sure to plant them right by the waters.  We have to make sure that our daily lives are completely drenched by waters of the Word of God, not only receiving third party interpretations, but having a relevant one on one relationship with it, looking for it, as I look for water to satisfy my physical thirst.  We need to desire it as the psalmist says: “As the deer desires rivers of water, so my soul desires you, O God”. Psalm 42:1.

Now I said that there was an analogy between Water, the Word and Jesus. I’m not trying to make a theological discourse here.  I don’t have the training for that. However, Jesus was very straightforward to describe himself as the water of life when talking to the Samaritan lady in John 4. There are many other places on the bible supporting this truth, but I have not enough room on this post to list them all. What about Jesus as the “word”?  Well, John 1:1 is also very clear stating that “in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…and the Word became flesh”. The Greek translation for the Word in that passage is “Logos” which has a much greater meaning that just the written word.  However, the portion of His word that God has made available to us is the bible.  In other words, if I were to die tomorrow, and would like Garrick to learn who I am, what I think, etc, then I will write an autobiography and give it to him.  It’s impossible to condense God’s mind in just one book, as the bible says “Who can know the thoughts of God”- 1 Cor 2:16. However He reveals to us in the bible enough of Him or Jesus, which is the same, so that we can deeply know Him and His plans.

Therefore, my questioning becomes even more acute now. Why if God revealed himself thru His Word, and He’s stated that His word is Christ himself and He wants me to regard it as vital for my life as my body needs water, I don’t drink enough of it? I’ve heard that a human being can’t survive without drinking water for more than five days, but I have been certainly been able to go without the Word for far more than that. When thinking about this I remember an old illustration of a master teaching his disciple how much God wanted him to desire Him by holding him under water until he wrestled his way up for a gasp of air. God wants us to need Him as much as we need air to breathe. I actually recall singing a song like that at church before. But do I really do?

I know responding to this question is very personal.  I really don’t want to put a guilt trip on any one, -except a good one on my children when they are old enough to read this post.  And I know different people may respond in different practical ways to it. Some may decide to start doing topical studies, others, may join a bible study group, yet others may want to continue with their one verse devotional readings. Whichever way the Holy Spirit may prompt for a more significant interaction with God thru his word is better than just sitting once a week listening to someone else talk about it or plainly not doing anything at all. In my case, the application to this soul searching exercise resulted on my commitment to a very old a proven habit: Reading thru the bible in a year.  I was amazed to find how many wonderful resources there are out there to help you do this, especially online.  A resource I am using is the You Version app, which has a tone of neat features besides a strong online community to support you.  I am not going say that it’s been easy nor that I am constantly caught up with my reading, but knowing that I’m walking forward with my commitment and reading thru verses and stories that I haven’t read in years, wrestling with passages and slowly trying to dive in into them sometimes in prayer and only the lead of the Holy Spirit, and some others with the help of bible study resources like”Logos”  has been very eye opening and spiritually rewarding.  I feel great about cooperating with God on my way to put off self and put on Jesus (Rom 13:14), to let Him cleanse me and renew me by the washing of water thru His Word (Eph 5:26). Not that I have to do anything to gain his favor or grace, but because I have them already and because of that I want to know Him more and get closer to Him. Because I want him to plant me and my family by His streams of waters, and want to bear much fruit to bring glory to Him. And because I also want to lead by example and hope my children will do as they have seen me doing.

And you, would you join me to let God plant a forest by the waters? I hope you do. Or maybe you're already doing it and you can encourage me and others do the same!

Monday, March 19, 2012

So, Rocks Actually Do Talk!

So he pitched the little stone...it fell just about three feet away from his feet.  His “Mouth wide open: Hah!-gotcha!” kind of smile as the rock hit the floor brought my husband’s words back from some time ago when discussing the kind of toys our son would need.  It was just Garrick and me, but it certainly felt as if hubby would’ve been there too saying: “Oh don’t worry Honey, all the child will need is a just a rock to play with”.  Ha, ha!..Well, I guess he was partially right.  

Here was Garrick, completely oblivious of the swings or even his mommy, but just completely delighted by flinging and picking up his rock.  He would throw it over the rail of the gazebo, thru the slates of the gazebo, on top of the pavers of the gazebo, on top of the sand or he would just hurl it ahead and pick it up from the grass.  All the while giggling with delight..so funny.  No play ground needed or any other toy. Just physics as his ever increasingly interesting friend.

One of my favorite things from posting..entertaining you with Garrick's pictures! =)

It was a very simple moment for mommy and son...but so heartwarming!  And Insightful!  It reminded me that God wired humans neatly to naturally learn.  The simplicity of the moment made it so perfect!

There a few lessons that I got from it that I want to share:

 1.  One of the best gifts I can give my child is my being willing and available:
Had I been busy trying to get done with laundry, or responding to emails, or face-booking  I would’ve missed it.  I feel weird about saying this, but I really didn’t do much.  I just took Garrick for a walk around the lake and let him drive the way. We talked a little when he pointed things out for me to tell him what they’re called.  But the meat of our experience was those 20 minutes right after he picked up his rock and headed towards the gazebo.  I was silent for mostly the whole time.  Yet I heard his heart talking loudly to mine:  Mom, thank you for watching me play. Thank you for bringing the whole of you to BE here.  I can see that this will be a recurrent theme throughout our whole life.  And I hope that I will never forget, especially when he hits the teen years.  Something tells me that he would always take my company better than a set of clean socks, I want to say most of the time. Well, I know, I wish this would preclude me from doing laundry for good...but dreaming is for free right?!!

So mom please, be quiet! I'll do the reading today! =)

2.   Children don’t need expensive, fancy featured toys or places to have fun:

I have just learned that investing money in lots of toys is just not worthy.  I know marketing tells you differently. And 24/7.  I really can’t imagine how much more of a hassle would be to clean our house if I listen to them!  Plus I don’t know if my son is a little different, but he normally plays one to two minutes with a toy and then moves on to the next activity.  Which normally is more exploring, climbing or wondering freely - I know probably a boy thing. Or he would prefer to explore the REAL, “non-toy looking “items around the house. So I have just opted for using homemade toys, made out of ordinary things around the house or when I do buy something is more likely from the consignment store.  However, I am still trying to constantly remind myself, that not any amount of toys would make them more appealing to Garrick than playing with his still favorite toy: Me.  And with this I don’t want to give a guilt trip to anybody.  I struggle with this one myself.  Especially when I’m peeling that potato and he loves to hang on to my leg and try to pull me away from the kitchen to play with him!

Are you sure this bike ride is just taking us 20 minutes mom? You're kind of slow...:P

But one of the neatest ideas I learned some time ago is the “daily 20 minute 1 on 1 rule”.  If I can at least get in 20 minutes every day of uninterrupted, unrushed, meaningful interaction where he has my full attention, then I feel accomplished.  A lot more accomplished than if he had played with expensive toys all day long.  Some days I can do more, some days I make it to bed and realize I couldn’t get it. But at least knowing that I’m mindful of it puts my heart at peace.  I know there is a place for toys.  And I also use them sometimes; otherwise I couldn’t get anything done around the house! And I also know that either incidentally or eventually he would get more and more into playing with artifact as he gets older. Maybe one day he’ll like to play with robots as His daddy does, or something else.  I know that there may be a time where he wouldn’t find me as appealing as a play mate as now…and I know that I will miss that. So for now, I’ll be it!

So what do you guys think, do I look smart?

Yes I do! Especially when I'm next to daddy!

3.  Learning is a natural experience:

So just 20 minutes of free play with a rock and he learned that objects make different sounds when falling on different grounds, He also learned that the more strength he applies to his throw the higher the rock went, etc. No kidding, when we came back he started playing with his balls at home more purposely.  I know I have to work on preventing accidents...like broken windows! I know. Working on it! But this rock was really a talker. It confirmed even more that children learn naturally without much rigorous planning or tedious structure.  They are happily absorbing the world and finding out how it works. That’s their primary job.  And as an over-controller freak in recovery, this gives me lots of peace of mind.  Such a timely insight as we go thru the process of learning about home education.  

So mom, are you sure this is the best way to learn to play basketball?

We recently went to a Homeschooling conference where I was introduced with a little more detail to the education philosophy of Charlotte Mason.  And it seems like it goes somewhat on this direction. The Ambleside website, which is very helpful to understand her ideas says:  “Charlotte Mason felt that that children could and should learn by dealing with real things in their real world rather than an artificially manipulated environment.”  I don’t even want to dare to explain her teaching philosophy as I am just starting to learn about it, but I was recommended a good book as a starting point: For the children’s sake. I hope to learn lots from it as we learn more about different teaching approaches.

Ouch mom! This snake can really teach me about pain right?

For now I am enjoying the adventure of holding Garrick hands as he discovers his world. I am glad to know that my “facilitator/teacher” role will change during his learning years. But I know for sure that at this point no “Gymborees”, “ lab-schools” ,” creative play-times” or any other of these programs would make my child learn quicker.  My constant interaction with him and my giving him a natural rich environment with meaningful experiences will help him develop the skills and abilities that are naturally wired on him.  Naturally wired to develop at a very unique pace and way.  No need to rush anything.  No need to worry because he didn’t start walking as such and such age, or has uttered so many words by such time, or has been potty trained by 3. I know there are legitimate cases that justify further exploration of a delay. But before we get to that, let’s the children move freely within the natural gray-area of the development path.  Let’s give them the benefit of doubt grounded in their great developmental plasticity, before they’re labeled, before we let concern overwhelm us.  Let’s leave their little personalities blossom as we make the most of every natural teaching moment.  Let’s enjoy this wonderful gift of our mothering journey.  Let’s for now just enjoy listen  to the rocks talk!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The 10 Things I Learned About Traveling Overseas with a Baby/Toddler. (Part 2)

Earlier this week I posted the first 5 lessons I learned about traveling with my little boy. I hope you found those helpful. Here it's the link to them if you didn't get to check them out before. Let's now pick up where we left off.. Ohh, and I hope you get to enjoy the pictures! =)

If you're curious about how Colombian folk music sounds like, take a pick at this video. It's a beautiful song about going back home after many years: "El Regreso" - "The Return". Can't tell you how emotional I got when I listened to it back in Cali!

Ok, now let's get to the meat! =P

6.  You really don’t need that 50pd packing allowance for your child!

I think I actually failed this test.  I confess, I over packed for Garrick.  And definitely, it was not necessary. Once over there, we discovered that just a 3 or 4 outfits were the handiest for most of the activities we planned, and those were the ones we kept on using.  I admit it made a big difference to have access to laundry since we were staying with family.  However, I think that I didn’t need that 3 week worth of outfits I took with me.  Nor many toys, children can be entertained with just about anything.  Interesting, how most of the time they rather play with the non-toy item or even a person, than a toy. So really, really, travel light!

The oldest church of the city located at the area where the city was founded.

Mommy I'm comfy with this outfit, can I wear this tomorrow? I always look prettier than my background anyway! =P

7.  Pack light so that you can pack bunches of diapers!
I actually learned that diapers are a lot cheaper in the U.S.  We actually brought a lot, but not enough. So we ended up having to buy diapers twice, for at least three times the price we pay for them here.  Arggh! Lesson learned!

That's right! Lite and easy is always better!

Thanks daddy, this Yummy "Salpicon" is just what I needed to fill my pamper up! =)

3.  Bumps and scratches are just part of the deal, not the end of the world

Maybe most of the veteran mommies out there already got over this one. But I actually had to cross this river while being there. Garrick’s first bloody boo-boo..arghhh, and it just happened while he was right next to me.  You know how blood makes everything a lot more dramatic than what it really is. So this happened to be just a little cut on his lip, which he forgot right after enjoying a popsicle.  It was funny to see him getting ready to go back and play in the very steps that he tripped on.  All he wanted was to toddle as a good toddler and keep up with the rest of the children. So the lesson here is to expect small accidents and to not panic when little ones do their job: Play, run, stumble and fall. Oh, and they will!  It was funny how right after the incident the seasoned mommies in the family surrounded me and calmed my heart by sharing their children’s first accident story.  The good news is that I also learned that mouth wounds heal pretty quickly too! =)

this is at my great school. I used to go down on thsi very slides as a child..here doing it with Garrick, 30sms years later!

Cousins goofing around..they could make a toy out of almost anything! =)

4.   Foreign germs may speak a different language but aren’t really any more harmful

I have to admit. I’m a recovering “germafobic”.  So I actually had to work on this one a few months before leaving.  Not only to apply it while traveling, but at home.  Interesting to see how both dads over there and here celebrate their children’s first time eating a little bit of dirt! I know, Yikes! But it’s true. Men tend to be more relaxed regarding germs and dirt.  But the fact of the matter is that unless you’re in a third world country where potable water and basic hygiene is not available, you shouldn’t be over concerned about this. As I said, babies grow overseas into healthy adults as well.  And Infant mortality rate is not higher than that of the U.S in many other countries.  Actually there is a current controversy regarding vaccinations in the U.S, and many of the comparative data comes from other countries where there are not compulsory vaccinations laws. However, most countries, and most people from developing countries follow regular vaccination schedules.  If that gives you any relief.  I learned to be a little more relaxed in that area and saved myself a lot of stress.  I have to admit that I was especially careful while in the airports.  

Mom can you please take me to the laundry please. I am all "germed up"! :p
Exploring the local arts & crafts at a very traditional area in the city called "Loma de la Cruz"

Bet you can't see this type of lanscaping anywhere else! =)

♫ We are family! ♪♫

With my dad and sister in the little family country house..

Isn't the view gorgeous?

5.  Relax and Enjoy, you’re enriching your child’s life by exposing him to the world
I can’t tell enough of the enriching experience this trip was for our family.  I can’t wait to start putting the pictures together on a special album and reminisce with Garrick.  We live on a world with greater possibilities, but also that feels smaller by the power of the internet.  Children now more than ever before grow to be aware of a globalized world.  So giving them early exposure to different cultures and languages actually helps to spark their curiosity and desire to learn different things.  I was completely delighted to hear Garrick repeating words in Spanish after his Spanish speaking cousins.  It was truly music to my ears. He doesn’t get the same exposure here, though I am working on it.  But I do encourage you if possible to look into bringing cultural diversity into your child’s world. And if your means allow for an overseas trip, go for it! I hope that some of these tips are helpful to you.
Dancing to the beat of  "Salsa" with my brother!

Our minute of fame! =)

Exploring a little timeless town out in the country..

Dave playing "Futbol" for first time..=)

Garrick speaking the language of the "Guacamayas"

At a museum of Colombian History..

In closing, let me just share that it was very special to hug and to love face to face all those who my heart had just kept in its memory for so many years.  I will never forget going down thru memory lane with my husband and son, both visiting for first time.  I think that getting a firsthand view and taste of my roots & heritage united us more as a bicultural family. I know we will always treasure our first trip to Colombia together.  Hope I get to hear about your traveling experiences too! Feel free to share any tips that you have picked up along the way!