Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Mountains

This is my friend Laura, she is one of the teachers at the school for our staff kids on campus.  So far I've convinced her that hiking in the mountains on our days off is fun.  I'm working on convincing her that running in the mountains on our days off is even more fun.  For now she lets me run off for a while and loop back to get her.  Last weekend I tricked her into a long hike up a mountain.
 This is me and Laura at the top.  It was the first time she's ever been to the top of a mountain!
See the little dot at the top of the mountain to the right?  That's where the picture of the two of us was taken at.  Yes, we hiked up there.  It was AWESOME.
Here is one of the views looking down into the city of Monterrey.  The view was a little foggy, with a city of about 8 million people there's a lot of pollution.  
Another view from the top of our hike.  Someday soon we're going to hike up to the top of the mountains on the left.

Friday, November 11, 2011

One Year Later

One year ago I started working with the babies at Casa Hogar Del Norte.  It's crazy to think about how much they've grown up in the last 12 months!  First teeth, first steps, first words, first days at school, potty training, etc.  Here are some pictures for you all to see the difference in the last year.  They sure are getting big!  Gaby, Ximena, and Edgar have all turned 3 and headed off to school this fall.  Angel, Alexis, and Carlos are all about to turn 2, and they're not the babies anymore because there are new ones.  
 Angel November 2010
Angel October 2011
 Gaby November 2010
Gaby November 2011
 Ximena November 2010
Ximena November 2011
Edgar November 2010
 November 2011
Alexis November 2010
 Alexis November 2011
 Carlos November 2010
Carlos October 2011

Monday, October 3, 2011

One Year Anniversary

As of today, I have lived in Mexico for one whole year.  How do I even begin to sum up the last 12 months?  They're full of opposites.  In some ways it feels like the longest year of my life, and in other ways the shortest year.  Sometimes I think what have I even done in the last year, and other days I think what haven't I done in the last year.  Days like yesterday I think I don't speak any spanish, and today I'm thinking I can hold my own just fine.  Maybe I can process this with the questions I use to debrief groups who come here.  

What did I learn about myself?  I'm not nearly as independent as I thought I was.  I don't know how to do everything, I make mistakes, and I can ask for help.  I'm also a lot stronger than I thought I was, both mentally and physically.  I weathered the crazy emotions of moving to a new country and learning a new language, and I can run the concrete mixer by myself in 115 degree heat.  

What did I learn about other people?  People are a lot more gracious and less judgmental than I give them credit for.  Not only are my coworkers willing to share in my successes, but in my failures too.  They want to know it all.  The good, bad, happy, and sad.  I have friends who have literally dropped what they were doing to help me, or have known when I was too stubborn to ask for help and stepped in without being asked.

What did I learn about God?  He's got a perfect plan that I often can't understand.  He's got a plan for all of "my" kids in the children's homes, he's got a plan for my friends in the States who are struggling, and he's got a plan for me.  And I'm glad I can trust in his plans, because the ones I made just aren't as good! When I moved here, I thought a year later I'd be back in the states starting graduate school and training for my next Ironman.  Boy was I wrong.


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Funny Boys

These pictures are just for laughs.  Angel and Ramiro were not amused by my girls only time on Friday afternoon.  There was some definite pouting going on since they are used to being with me and getting tons of attention.  I snapped a few quick pictures just because it was so funny!

I had to really discipline Angel for the first time this week, and it was so hard!  He was trying to take a toy away from another little boy, and when I told him no he hit me in the face.  Hitting is always a no-no, and hitting in the face is a real big no-no.  So we sat in the time out corner together and talked about having kind hands.  And I tried not to laugh, because when he gets mad he makes a face like a little tiny old man.  

Friday, September 30, 2011

God Says I Am

Today I took a big, huge, giant step.  Or what felt like a huge step to me.  I started a weekly project with the older girls at Del Norte.  All in spanish.  With the help of a great staff friend who doesn't speak any spanish.  Every Friday afternoon for the next 10 weeks we will be talking about who God says we are.  It's a project I've been thinking about for several months, and just this week felt like God gave me some direction and clarity for what to do.  Each week is a different thing that God made us, with a page to decorate or pictures to take, and at the end of the semester each girl will have made their own book all about who God says they are.  Today I took their pictures for their covers and then we did the first page which was titled "I Am Unique".  After talking about the Bible verse (Psalm 139:14) and how God made us unique and wonderful they filled in their full name, birthdate, talked about who was in their family, and answered what was one special thing about them.  Their only instructions were to keep things positive, and other than that I let them write whatever they wanted.  I want this to be about what they think, not what someone told them, so I'm letting them write whatever they think.  Week 1 went great, and the boys were only a little bit upset that they couldn't join us.  They found a mud puddle outside and got over it pretty fast.
 The girls working around the table with the help of Miss Laura
 Maria is unique because she likes to read
 Debanhi is unique because she fights a lot.  Maybe she didn't understand the positive part?
Rosa is unique because she has a lot of friends
 Paola is unique because she is tall and beautiful
 Kassandra is unique because she is very kind.
 Brenda is unique because she has a lot of brothers and sisters and a mom
 Sarahi is unique because...well, she got bored and left before she could tell me.
Nallely is unique because she's learning English

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Casa Hogar Del Norte Update

A post without pictures!  I wanted to share a little update on my favorite children's home, Casa Hogar Del Norte, since the summer ended.  After working there 3-4 days a week this summer I realized that one of the ways we can best care for these 42 abandoned kids is to take good care of their caregivers.  There are 6 caregivers and 1 cook at Del Norte who share shifts, so there are 4 caregivers during the day and 2 at night.  For 42 emotional, abandoned kids, ranging from 11 months to 13 years old.  Obviously these women are exhausted.  Combine the need for caregiver support, my work last year with the babies and toddlers, and my social work background with older kids and what do you get???  My new schedule!

I now go to Del Norte 2 or 3 mornings a week to do early intervention and developmental activities with the littlest ones.  This obviously really helps the little ones and frees up that caregiver to get "household" things done while all the older kids are gone at school.  On those days I arrive around 9:30, get the babies changed and take them to the play room until noon, feed them all lunch, and then settle them for naps.  Then for fun I hang around with the older kids for lunch just to spend time with them.  On Fridays I go in the afternoons around 2:30 to spend time with just the older kids while the little ones are asleep.  We are going to make "Who Am I" or "Quien Soy Yo" books this fall.  Each week we'll add a new page until the kids aren't into it anymore or we run out of pages.  I'm excited about the new projects, and it's keeping me very busy and speaking a lot of Spanish!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Independence Day

September 16th is Mexico's Independence Day.  The Del Norte preschool kids had a school program that I got to go to.  They said the pledge, sang the national hymn and the state song, and then each class had a song and dance.  My favorite part was that after the show there was a "parade" around the neighborhood.  The word parade is pretty loose, the kids sat in the back of pickup trucks with balloons and the adults walked around behind them.  It was a great time, and the kids were excited that I took pictures of their performances.  They all crowded around the camera afterwards to see what they looked like.  It was a really fun day, and I was really proud of myself for going without another American to a Mexican holiday celebration.  I'm getting a little braver and doing things that force me to speak only in spanish without anyone to help me out if I get stuck.  
The "parade" around the neighborhood

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Zoo Days

A few weeks ago I helped a group from New Life Garage Church take a few kids from Del Norte on a field trip to the zoo.  I had a blast taking Ramiro around and looking at the animals.  I don't think he's ever been to a zoo before, and he was a little freaked out.  We'd get to the new animal, I'd tell him what it was called in English and Spanish and he'd say, "si, VAMONOS!" or yeah, let's go!  I told him I thought the rhino smelled bad, and he wanted to know what smelled worse, the rhino or little Angel's diapers.  I told him it was a toss-up.  After the field trip we headed off to Carls Jr. for hamburgers, fries, and an ice cream.  It was quite an eventful day!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Summer Vacation

I apologize for the lack of blogs lately!  One of the reasons I've dropped off the blog-planet was because I went back to the States for 3 weeks to spend time with family, friends, and do some fundraising.  It was really fun, and I desperately needed to rest.  I slept so much while I was home that my mom asked if I had mono.  Nope, you're just that tired after a summer here at Back2Back!  Here are a few pictures from my time in the States.  I also went to Indiana to visit my friends, but of course forgot my camera.  
 I rode my bike, swam, and ran a lot with my family.  I miss my triathlon days so much!  While I was home my dad did a 102 mile bike race and my brother did a 2 day 150 mile race.
 I got to hang out with Angie, she joined the family for some swimming, cook outs, and a Reds game.
 Spent quality time with my "little" brother, since he was living with my mom and dad for a month before moving.
Mom accompanied me on a 3 day cross-country drive to Mexico.
During our cross country drive we stopped in San Antonio for the afternoon to take in the riverwalk and a family favorite, the Alamo Imax movie.