Friday, December 14, 2012

Overcoming Adversity

Today I'm embracing the camera with the hubby, Mr. M. This photo is from a few summers ago, but its one of my faves of us. Along with these photos I love I'm gonna share with you an amazing story. Its a story whose main characters are the hubby and his Maker. 
I'm gonna start at the beginning when Mr. M. was born. It was a cold winter day, when resources were scarce but hopes were not. He was born to a family of immigrants, first generation to be born in the United States. His parents worked in agriculture, working when harvest was plentiful and saving for when it was not. They lacked health insurance, sick time, vacation days and all those things many of us take for granted. But they made do, and life was good. As Mr. M got older he could be found on many afternoons playing out in the orchards free from all the cares of the world. 

The harvest was bountiful and the valley was thriving, but it wouldn't always be so. 

We fast forward to when Mr. M is seven and now living in the city, on S. 7th St. He is one of the few spanish speaking children in his school, there is inequality and confusion about this group of people who come (mostly seasonally to the area) to harvest the crops. 
And this is how it went in the years that followed: Mr. M's mom and dad working long hours, and different shifts to make ends meet and be somewhat available for him and his brother. 

The crop began to decline, work was scarce and things were hard. 

Adversity came a knocking harder than ever before. 

His neighborhood became filled with poverty; parents often working swing or graveyard shifts and many youth who were hungry for attention and bored to death at home turned to drugs, gangs and violence. All searching for a sense of belonging. All searching to be "somebody".

All of this became Mr. M's reality, no more make-believe on sunny afternoons out in the orchards, but drugs, gangs and violence took their place instead. And so, many years passed and life didn't get any better. Many friends were lost along the way, and many were changed in irreversible ways. 

As Mr. M. reached rock bottom it seemed that nothing or no one could reach him. 
But when we least expect it, and when we think we have gotten too far from reach, that's when Creator pushes harder to grasp a hold of our hearts and speak truth into our lives. All the lies that had been feed to and believed by Mr. M. were shattered in a moment of Truth. Jesus came into his life and helped him understand that he was destined for greater things. Jesus told him: "follow me and I will show you that you are part of my BIG story. Your LITTLE story is part of my BIG story!". And it was then Mr. M. reached for the Truth and broke free of the chains of death. But not through his own strength rather through the love of our Maker. And finally Mr. M. understood how he was made in our Creator's image: with his charismatic personality and his love for people. He no longer needed to be in control, and to pursue status or power. The Love of Creator would bring a greater sense of self than any of these things ever would.

Its been more than seven years since then, and each day we see how our LITTLE stories are a part of God's BIG story. That story of love for His people.  

This month we are celebrating a piece of Mr. M.'s Little story! He graduated from Warner Pacific College with a Bachelor of Science in Human Development and will be receiving his diploma this weekend! We are so proud of him, and understand that this is all possible because of our Creator who has made Mr. M. in His image. Yes, in the image of the one who Loves us, and wants more for this hurting world. And that is what Mr. M. hopes to do, to go out into the world and use his degree to care and love those in need. Because Creator so loved him.   

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Embrace the camera: M.W and J

A few days ago we went to the park and took some family pictures. We had a really good time, but towards the end of our little photo shoot I stood up from a sitting position too fast and aggravated an already strained lower back. I've been dealing with a lower back issue for about four months and decided that ignoring the problem might fix it. Wrong! The next few days were a combination of pain and self pity. I'm no good at taking help from others, its something I've struggled with my whole life. I've struggled with attitude of: if I want something done right then I have to do it myself. Wrong again! I know this attitude is like 100% contrary to Jesus, but I guess this is another reason why I need more of Him.
So I found myself laying on the couch trying to rest, but instead I began wallowing in pity. I started thinking that this back issue is just one of the many issues that have been making our lives so difficult. Four months ago my MIL suffered a ruptured aneurysm, and we almost lost her. You'd think that her miraculous and rather quick recovery would have helped me to be thankful, but instead I chose to focus on the negative side of things. I've chosen to focus on the negative circumstances surrounding us, and have failed to understand two things.

I was reading a blog just yesterday and it hit me, I've been focusing on the circumstances in our lives that I either can't change or that I think are unfair. There is nothing I can do about most of these circumstance, but there is something I can do about the attitude with which I face them. I think the quote from Martha Washington says it best: 

I am determined to be cheerful and happy in whatever situation I may find myself. For I have learned that the greater part of misery or unhappiness is determined not by our circumstance but by our disposition. 

As much as I want to be in control and to do things myself so they get done "right" this only leads me to the couch to lay for a while feeling sorry for myself. I wish I could just turn on the switch of happy and cheerful but I know this is a process. A journey if you will. I don't think that what Martha meant when she said happy and cheerful was that you ignore the circumstance and act happy, but rather you accept the situation, see how you can persevere, and not let despair take over. You face those circumsance with full awareness of the joy that life is and how no situation is ever permanent. A journey that for me has Jesus in the center. I think that Jesus gives us the strength to get through the difficult times and even when things are really, really bad there is always a bit of joy if only our attitude doesn't blind us. 

So today I choose to face life with happiness and a cheery disposition even if things seem hard and unfair. Because I don't have to do things myself for them to turn out right.

Let's embrace the joy and happyness around us, and also the camera!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Family Pictures 2012

Since before Little Mama was born I've always known I wanted to do annual family photos. Since our finances don't allow for us to hire a professional I've had to get creative! 

This is us last year:
(photo by Cammie Toloui)

Here we are now:

As I mentioned, we had to get creative this year with our family pictures. I purchased a tripod and a remote (the remote ended up not being compatible with my camera so it went back), but the tripod was great. Running back and forth to press the timer button (add to that the timer only takes one photo at a time) made for a challenging time, but who cares? We had fun and got some good shots. 

Little Mama was very cooperative, most of the time!

Undoubtedly my favorite season for photos has to be fall. Its hard to beat all the beautiful colors and the mild weather!

Mr. M. always looking so handsome!

One place I've been particularly interested in taking photos at is the Yakima Electric Railway Museum. I don't know the history of this place, since its only open on Saturdays or something. We were driving by one saturday and we saw a trolly with passangers. Maybe one of these Saturdays we will go and tour the place. 

(all belly!)

We may not have been able to hire a professional but we definitely captured some amazing moments.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Half Birthdays!

Last week Little Mama turned 18 months. I'm already planning her 2nd birthday! That's not an exaggeration! Ok maybe a little. Mr. M. and I agreed we would not throw anything big since we kind of went all out on her 1st. It will be something small for close friends and family, but it will be fun none the less. 

Little Mama,
You are growing up so fast. I've said this before: I was excited for you to start talking and doing "bigger" girl things, but honestly I wasn't ready. Namely those little tantrums that have been surging all the time often! But honestly now, you are such a confident, determined little lady. You are creative and make me laugh. Your little kisses melt my heart, and your tricks, well, I'm catching on. When you say "Caca" and we quickly run you to the bathroom only to realize you just wanted to get off the high chair or out of bed. You got us good, but like I said, we are catching on. You are growing into such a lovely person, I love you so much.


Friday, November 2, 2012

Embrace the Camera: Leaves are Falling!

We recently took a trip to Oregon to see our friends and family. We got to spend two days playing, relaxing, and eating lots of yummy sweets! 
Up until this year I hadn't realized how much I love fall. I might dare say its my favorite season. I think my slow realization may be due to the many soggy, cold days spent in the Northwest. Being away from the constant rain has allowed me to enjoy the changing colors, the crisp air, and the yummy autumn treats. 
Playing in the leaves has been a favorite activity and before the frigid cold hits we are going to spend as much time outside as we can.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Remembering Why I Started This

I started blogging about four months ago, we'd just moved to WA and all the transition in our lives was making me forget the small details that bring me so much joy. Like playing with my daughter, eating chocolate till our faces were covered in the brown gooey goodness, and laying in the backyard on our favorite picnic blanket watching the birds fly by. So I decided I'd talked about starting a blog long enough, I better just do it. I dreamed that in 20 or so years Little Mama and her sibling(s) would read through the posts and lovingly remember those good times and the mother that took the time to document them. I also dreamed that they would see how we tried to be faithful followers of Jesus and that our Little story was in fact part of Jesus Big story. 
But during all of this something started happening, or maybe its always been a part of why I started this. In one word, Followers. I'm not going to lie, when I read my favorite blogs and they have hundreds if not thousands of followers and they often post material goods c/o of so and so, I feel a small (strong) desire to reach a bunch of people and have them enjoy my story as much as I enjoy those blogs I read. I think, my readership will grow and I can start making it a business and receive free things as payment for advertisement, and oh life would be so fun then. Wow! I've so quickly lost touch. 
I'm not saying that people who make their blog a business are doing something wrong, not at all. What I'm saying is I don't want to covet what they have, I don't want to wish to be them, to write what I think people want to hear. I want to write my Little story that reflects Jesus Big story. And if along the way people find joy, laughter and something good through the words I write then great. If along the way this blogging helps me help my family financially then great, but if not that's fine too. Because being a part of the Big story Jesus is writing for us is worth it, because documenting my Little story for Little Mama and her sibling(s) is worth it. And because I don't want to forget the little things that bring me so much joy.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012


I can hardly believe that more than a month ago I entered the last year of my 20s! When I was in high school I used to think that people in their 20s were so grown up and mature and people in their 30s forget it, oldies! Well, that's me now, except I don't really feel very mature or grown up. Sometimes I feel old, but definitely not mature. 
Actually, to be honest my late 20s have been the best time of my life thus far. I've gotten to do some fun things and grow more into the person I want to be. 
The first great accomplishment was graduating from college (that actually happened in my early 20s but still); first generation in my family to go to a university and be a traditional undergraduate student! After graduation I started exploring my interest in social service working for some great agencies. 

I also found the love of my life during my 20s.
I had my amazing little girl just under a year and a half ago!

So many great things have happened. I can hardly wait to see what my 30s hold. Even more amazing things. 

A while back I discovered a blog called Delightfully Tacky (first blog I started following) and it was then I decided it would be so fun to start my own blog to document the little and BIG things in our lives. 
One day I was reading one of Elizabeth's post about  making goals for the new year. Her concept was a list of sorts she called her 25 before 26 list. I loved the concept and adopted it right away. My 28 before 29 goes like this:
1. Return to my Pre-Prego weight // I'm within 8lbs of it, but I still got my work cut out for me!
2. Throw my friend Dani a baby shower // Totally did that, I even made two really cute diaper cakes, it was so fun!
3. Throw Little Mama her 1st Birthday Party // We collaborated with my older sister to throw her youngest his 1st birthday (since his birthday is the month before Little Mama's) together and it was a huge success! I DIY'd most of my part. 

4. Sign Yasmin up for swimming lesson // Didn't get a chance since we moved to WA right in the middle of the summer.
5. Take E-course on blogging // Yes! Indie Blogger by Delightfully Tacky and Selective Potential
6. DIY TTV Photo Wall // Yes
7. DIY chalkboard // Yes
8. Take sewing classes // I bought a Groupon and completed my classes right before moving to WA
9. Discipline about daily prayer/quiet time // Still working on it
10. Redecorate Yasmin's room // Yes and yes! 

11. Go camping with Mr. M and Little Mama // Sadly NO
12. Go to annual Family-Weekend! // Yes
13. Find vintage stores in PDX // Since we moved that one got a little left behind
14. Attend farmers markets // We only attended one :(
15. Read more // Do blogs count?
16. Attend at least 2 children's clothes resale events // Only attended one
17. Have a BBQ once a month in the summer // We had about 2
18. Start potty training Little Mama // Yes
19. Learn to use Photoshop // I bought photoshop Elements and have done some fun collages and other things, I'm no expert yet, but I'm trying to learn new things
20. Teach Little Mama to sign 10 words // This one proved to be a little challenging, she only learned to sign "more".
21. Start a blog // I started my blog in July, and it has been so much fun!

I fared pretty well. So now to create my 29 before 30 list!

1. Bake at least 5 different pies
2. Learn to make Flour Tortillas
3. Find quality spanish language books for Yasmin
4. Eat something green everyday
5. Shop more purposefully (LESS!!)
6. Pay off credit cards
7. Improve Credit Report
8. Establish my family in our "home" church
9. Discipline about daily prayer/quiet time
11. Continue learning about the blog world through Blog Love
12. Read more fiction
13. Finish Little Mama's potty training
14. Connect with a Mom's group
15. DIY some cute accessories for Little Mama
16. Start a vegetable garden
17. Go camping
18. Attend Family Weekend
19. Attend library readings for toddlers
20. Have a girls weekend with sisters and some friends in PDX
21. Establish monthly dates with Mr. M.
22. Start preparing for Baby #2!!!

Wish me the best :)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Months Go By

Today Little Mama turns 17 months; I cannot believe that in one month she will be a year and a half.

Little Mama is so amazing, she now says about 30 words: Mami, Papi, Tio, Tia, Ambo (Rambo, Abuelita's doggie), mas, no, si, Cuqui, agua, leche, luz, pelo, ojos, uvas, caca, gracias, pie, pan, perro, gato, queso, and more. Its so fun getting to watch her learn all about life.

Precious, she is so precious!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Embrace the Camera: Kisses from Little Mama

I'm not going to lie, I haven't LOVED every stage of development of Little Mama. Don't get me wrong, the moment I laid eyes on her it was love at first sight. But when she was just a little pea laying in her swaddle blanket I couldn't help but feel a sense of urgency for the time when she would look at me and smile, or give me a kiss, or tell me she loved me.
I guess maybe I'm pretty selfish, but I really struggled through the days when all she'd do is sleep, eat and poop. I was pretty adamant about nursing, and good thing I did because it was an amazing way to bond with Little Mama that eased the struggle I felt in those first few months.

I think it has to do with her being my first, and me being so completely oblivious about what to expect. I didn't suffer baby blues, but it was hard pouring so much of myself and not getting much in return. I think that's pretty indicative of what it is like to be a mother (listen to me, giving these little pearls of wisdom about motherhood, haha, because I know so much). But seriously, motherhood, such a selfless act. You give, give and give and get so little in return. Makes me think of how Creator loves us. This love that gives and gives, and gets so little in return. My only hope is that as I continue to inhabit this earth I would show Creator that I see all the goodness that has been poured over me. I want to show our maker that I am thankful. That I am thankful for all the smiles and kisses from Little Mama.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Embrace the Camera: Beach Fun!

A few weeks ago we went to our annual family weekend at the beach. We took a few days to enjoy some sun and play in the sand. This year we went to Depoe Bay. We had a lovely time. I will post some more pictures later, but for now here is Little Mama and I.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

FRIENDS: When Nothing Else Will Do.

I have to admit that I've never been really good at making friends. I married an extrovert and quickly realized that his need for attention and being around others was one of the things I loved and found most challenging about him. But wait, this isn't about him, or me really, but essentially it starts with me.
My sisters are two of my closest friends

When I was very young I was extremely quiet, I would get very embarrassed when I had to talk to people and every time I was the spot light I would turn bright red. Things didn't change much as I got older and may have actually gotten worse. I had very few close friends in middle and high school and basically kept to myself as much as I could. I don't know why my social skills lacked so much, maybe it was my lack of confidence or some strange childhood trauma (yes I know, everyone blames their parents! haha)

When I entered college I was so afraid that I would be the lonely loser sitting in the back of the class hoping to disappear. But as luck would have it (or mostly just our Creator being gracious) I started getting out of my shell. My journey through college helped me to learn so much about myself, my character. As it turns out my shyness as a child didn't turn out so bad, I'm an introvert and that's ok. 

For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Psalm 139: 13-15

As I look at my life I realize that despite my insecurities I have been blessed with amazing friends. They have all come at different times and through different circumstance, but they have been exactly what I've needed. When I needed someone to help me enjoy life and not take things so seriously one of these lovely ladies was there. When I needed spiritual guidance one of these lovely ladies was there. When I needed someone to help me get my head back in the books one of these lovely ladies was there. When I needed a shoulder to cry on one of these lovely ladies was there. When I needed to be challenged about my views and believes one of these lovely ladies was there.

I am who I am because of who Creator made me to be, because of the grace of my maker who gave me the support and encouragement that I needed when I needed it. When Nothing else will do, our Creator's love is there through friends.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Keeping Perspective

Its been about a month since I had the opportunity to post. Life has been full of unexpected challenges and I just haven't been able to find the time to sit down and share about what has been going on (nor have I been really ready to). When I started this space I did it with the intent of documenting the daily happenings and as a way to provide myself a creative outlet. But here I am letting time pass me by. 
So today I decided it was time to make the space and share what keeps me going. You guessed it, those two little loves of mine. In the midst of the chaos and the hardship Mr. M and Little Mama provide a fresh perspective on life. 
Six years ago I met the love of my life; he came quite unexpectedly as most wonderful things in life do. After a year or so of being in community we realized that we had very similar ideals, hopes, and dreams and that we didn't want to be apart any longer. We skipped the traditional dating and got engaged, we married four months later and began life as Mr. & Mrs. M. 
We've had our struggles as a couple, but love, a sence of humor and our Creator has seen us through it all. 

Two and a half years into our marriage we decided to add an addition to our tribe. 
Yasmin Alisandra was born on April 27th.

This little lady has changed our lives in an incredible way. It is amazing to see ourselves and our parents in her. She is teaching us about love, about patience and about remembering to have a little fun. She and Mr. M are so wonderful I couldn't ask for a better pair to make up our little tribe. 

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Your Refrigerator, Ma'am, is Broken.

This post is gonna start out pretty ridiculous and kind of wordy, but I hope you keep on reading and make it to the end. 
For the last four weeks our Tuesdays have been pretty routine, not very eventful. Today started out much the same way all the others did. Our wake up call, Yasmin, sounded off promptly at 6AM. Mr. M. graciously offered to prepare breakfast and I took Yasmin for pottytime, and after that was said and done we made our way to the kitchen to see what Mr. M. was cooking up. 
As I walked into the kitchen things started getting interesting. There was a huge puddle of water by the fridge that Mr. M. hadn't notice and we began to investigate the root of the problem. We quickly realized the freezer temperature was no longer at 0 degrees F, but had climbed to 38. What? The ice dispenser was leaking and the contents of the freezer where thawing out. The temperature kept climbing. 

We quickly pulled out the manual and tried to resolve the issue, but after nothing worked we called the manufacture and requested a house call before all our goods went bye-bye. They obliged and we continued our day...ok maybe it wasn't that easy. First I freaked out, I may have said a few cuss words and then I pleaded for Mr. M. not to make the drive to Portland for school today. Three hours away he'd be and I'd be left with spoiling food and a needy toddler, I couldn't possibly make it through the next 48 hours alone. 
You might be thinking, wow this girl is quite the drama queen, and I'm sure there is truth in that. But my side of things is this: we got caught up living outside our means (a very prevalent issue in this country). Once we remembered that God (yes we are trying to be followers of Jesus) doesn't want us to live this way or share our devotion, we made the choice to sacrifice some comforts. I do not work outside the home so as to be more free to focus on caring for my family, meaning we only have one income and we still want to be able to pay off our debts plus help God's work and our extended family. A budget that doesn't always seem to balance out. In my own self-absorbed way I thought, well I've been giving up comforts left and right (we sold our 1400squarefoot home and moved to a 950squarefoot apartment only to have to move to an even smaller place) I should be able to have a little something. So that's were this lovely little fridge came into the picture. I told Mr. M., I will give up as much as we need, as long as we splurge on a fridge with an ice maker and ice dispenser. Its not asking for much, right? Well it might not be, but who am I to bargain with our Creator? 
I started reading this little book called Not a Fan. that in one section asks the question: What disappoints or frustrates you the most? The answer to this might tell you where your heart really is. My answer is financial difficulties and when my very prized items (fridge) that I feel I deserve to have don't work the way they should. I'm supposed to be following Jesus and I'm worried about having a fridge with an ice maker? I guess I'm still holding on pretty tightly to my material things, thinking they might be able to bring me happiness or something. What a wake up call. Don't get me wrong, I know material things are mostly necessary, but if a person falls apart because they don't get to have those things they want or they're willing to compromise their values to obtain the things they desire then I think that's where it gets a bit tricky. Following Jesus doesn't come without a price, but the alternative is much harder to swallow. I've got to trust that Jesus is calling me to a life free of financial burdens or a rat race that has no end. I've got to trust that my life has a greater purpose than all the pretty shoes I could own or the great car I can drive. 

I've got to trust that my life is better off in Jesus' hands.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

An Unlikely Discovery

While we were out tracking down berries the other day we came across an unlikely little bag of flour with the name Indian Fry Bread Mix on the front. While I don't really know the history of fry bread, I do know this, it is absolutely delish. 
About six years ago I had my first introduction to fry bread and I was captivated. You can eat fry bread in many ways, but I particularly like the fry bread taco. (Being Mexican, I love anything taco). The little bag of fry bread mix was extremely easy to prepare, just add one cup of water it said. Except I must have added too much water or this simple recipe tricked me because it came out all gooey and I had to add more flour. After I resolved the little mishap we were on our way. I fried the little tortilla like patties and they came out great. We topped them with refried beans, ground turkey, tomato, avocado, lettuce and cheese. 

And then we had a feast! 
While fry bread tacos are not particularly healthy (particularly meaning not at all), we definitely enjoyed this discovery. Who knew a roadside fruit stand could yield so much greatness?

Friday, July 27, 2012


Yesterday Mr. M., the little mama and I took a drive to the country (ok the country is like 5 mintues from downtown here in the Palm Springs of WA, but it was still "a drive"). 
I woke up with a need for fresh picked berries, but the orchard I wanted to go to posted on their website that U-pick wouldn't be open until the second week of August. I told Mr. M that we should just take a drive and see if we found a roadside fruit stand that had berries. He obliged and we were on our way. 

I've always thought myself a city girl, but these last few weeks I've really found a new love for this small town we moved to. Maybe its the yummy berries we found, I don't know, but ask me how long it took us to eat ALL the berries? Not long, not long at all.

I hope the summer is treating you well, we love picking berries around these parts. What summer activities do you love to do?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Embrace the Camera: Spokane Adventure

Mr. M. recently had a work event to attend in Spokane and Yasmin and I tagged along. It was a short little trip, but one we thoroughly enjoyed.
We spent one whole day playing at the Riverfront Park (riding on the gondola, sliding on the giant red wagon, and playing on the blocks) and eating yummy food. We also made a pit stop at Target (where I found some awesome moccasins for winter on sale) and Apricot Lane (where I bought these great flats I'd been scouting out online at more than half the price!)
It was a fun time with the two people I love the most.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Life Lately

Since we moved from Portland OR to Central WA about three weeks ago we have been constantly on the go. Despite all this running around, life has been wonderful. 

This past weekend my parents, younger sister and niece came to visit. We had a blast.

We enjoyed some pan dulce (Mexican sweet bread), a picnic and of course some great backyard fun including a BBQ.

We got the girls a kiddy pool and filled it up with lots of water. It was Yasmin's first swim in a kiddy pool so we filled it up with luke warm water from inside (so as not to traumitize her from her first outdoor swim). We ate some yummy Paletas (Mexican popsicles) and I even made my favorite cookies, Polvorones

 It was a lovely time and now I miss my family so much. It is definitely a bummer that they live far away, but it helps me cherish the time we are together that much more.