Sunday, April 24, 2016


Another nugget from my drafts folder, for Mother's Day (lightly edited).


... this post has been simmering in my head for a while. In some ways, I feel like a completely different person than I used to be in my 20s. But at the same time, when Valerie was born, I felt as though I had always been a mother. This identity, this way of being me, has always been latent within me somewhere. Now it just came to the surface. Despite the fact that I worried for years whether I would be a good enough mother, it just feels right (most of the time). 

What does it mean to be a mother? During the fall of 2008, I forget exactly when, but it was a Wednesday night and Terry was in Harrisonburg and I was in Ithaca, I remember thinking "this is what it means to be a mother." Wednesday night is trash night. It was cold, and raining, and as I struggled to wrestle both the umbrella and the garbage can, I finally gave up and left the umbrella by the door to carry the garbage can to the road. I was in my pajamas. Valerie was asleep inside. I got all wet. It was probably midnight. I thought of my mom, and of Caroline Ingalls, and thought that my definition of mother is the person who does what needs to be done, because there's nobody else to do it.

There's a really great book by Magda Pecsenye, aka "Ask Moxie," titled You're the Best Parent For Your Child. It's been a really great confidence-builder for me as a mother, lots of encouragement but solid encouragement. Not just "you're doing great" cheerleading but a lot of really solid stuff there.

Our kids are hilarious, smart, surprising, entertaining. I am all too often impatient, tired, selfish, and boring. I love them to death. This has got to be the "toughest job you'll ever love."

With so much love to my Mom and mother-figures in my life. 

Thursday, April 21, 2016


We just got back from a 4-day team retreat, during which the earthquake in Ecuador happened. Three of our team work in Quito with Colombian refugees, and will be providing support in some way, but there is a church-sponsored initiative in the works in coordination with MCC.

Meanwhile, Gabe and I spent some time during the retreat rescuing beetles from spiderwebs and bandaging a cut on his toe.

Friday, April 15, 2016


Today our babysitter was commenting on how much the kids look like me, and like each other. I think the older they get the more their faces are little Jantzi faces, but they definitely have my eyes and my hair. Anyway, it got me onto a nostalgia kick with these old posts where I put photos of the two of them side by side:

Double Take

Sleeping ("Tate Map")

Wearing a white hat that I made

And each one taking a turn in the same footie pajamas

Thursday, April 14, 2016

I like food, and reading

I'm making one of my favorite zone-friendly and paleo-friendy meals for supper:
> pre-cook some chicken
> in a pan, heat olive oil and add sliced carrots and chopped ginger root
> throw in some almonds if you want
> as the carrots cook, add pieces of chicken
> add crushed garlic to taste
> and a squirt of honey
(if you are following the Zone, measure everything to balance your carbs, proteins, and fats)

Gabriel is zooming into reading! He is fascinated by the whole process. And very judgmental about English inconsistencies in spelling. Why is "tree" spelled with a "t" when it CLEARLY begins with the "ch" sound??

On the way to school we often play "I spy... something that begins with..." and so he gets annoyed by the idea that tree, train, and truck all start with "t."

But he loves sounding out the written word. Spanish is so straightforward compared to English spelling. He also likes to spell things out orally, e.g. "Mom, I k-n-o-w!" or "give it to M - E!"

It's pretty exciting to see him learning so fast.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Kid Stuff

A restaurant we enjoy going to here is Archie's, where they usually have a kids' activity as well as the option for the kids to prepare their own pizzas. 

Val was NOT  fan of putting flour on her face, but they have the kids do this because it's cute. They did enjoy shaping the dough and spreading the toppings on.

In a very different vein, during Holy Week we spent a few days in Boyacá where our accountant, Elizabeth C., lives. We all walked down to her family's farmland with some small cousins. I don't have photos of the best part - the kids had a blast throwing stones into a pretty little stream running through the property. Terry and I often say we wish we could live out there!

And one last photo update - from the Lego Festival in February. Everything is Awesome!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Perfect Moments Flashback

I also found this in my drafts folder, and I'm not even sure when I originally wrote it - but Valerie was 3, so Gabriel must have been around 1.


I’ve been very, very tired lately. So I've been trying to pay attention to the small perfect moments with the kids as they come.

Like when Gabriel points at the red circle of light on the ceiling from my headlamp one night and says “sun.” And the way, every morning, he'll step on the floor with his fat little bare feet, sign "cold," and then say "socks." Or the way he throws his arms around my neck, leans back and kisses me, then lunges in again for a surprisingly strong squeeze. And the way he’ll – how can I describe this? – he’ll see something that charms him, and he’ll go into this little crouch with his hands in front of his mouth, squirrel-like, smiling squint-eyed and wrinkled nose, fingers out like little birds’ beaks, and chirp.

Valerie's favorite game is “boing-boing” – she jumps on the bed holding Terry's hands, then he’ll give her a little push and she’ll fall back shrieking in laughter. She also likes to play “try again” – Terry will lie on his side on the bed, and she’ll jump up, kick both her feet into his butt, and then bounce down again. She braces her feet on the window sill while standing on her head on the bed. She mimics the Tigress's kung fu poses from the Kung Fu Panda movie and has started calling herself "Tiger" from time to time. Three year old exuberance!

She has mastered a 100-piece puzzle, and is actually learning to read – around 40 words she knows by sight, and can spell out with blocks. I was astonished the other day to look at her magnetic drawing pad and see that she had written the word “fox,” completely without prompting or guidance whatsoever. When I lie down with her at bedtime she’ll throw an arm around my neck and say “awwww.”


We have new pets, again! Four parakeets. They are super noisy sometimes, but Val just loves to sit and watch them. Their names are Birdie, Blue, Shine, and Maracuyá (passion fruit).

Thursday, April 07, 2016


I found this post in my "drafts" folder unfinished but thought I'd post it now just because I want to hit my goal of 2 posts a week, even though I once said I wasn't going to blog about work!


Terry just got back from a two-day trip to the region known as el Chocó, on the Pacific coast of Colombia. The photos in this post are all from a previous trip he took to the region. I've been able to visit several times in the past three years and it's always a pleasure.

It's a very hot and humid area - I think even hotter and more humid than Yarina, where Anita and I grew up. It rains pretty much every day. Most of the travel is by river.

It's also an area that has suffered a great deal. Foreign mining companies, guerrillas, paramilitaries, and the elusive coca-to-cocaine industry are all currently active in the area, and it is the small-scale farmers, as always, who are caught in the cross-fire. 

This region of Colombia was originally settled by various indigenous people groups; when the Spanish colonizers found gold there, they brought in boatloads of slaves from Africa to do the difficult work of extracting it from the riverbeds. However hundreds of slaves escaped and established their own communities deep in the jungle, and have been living there for hundreds of years now. So the majority of people in this region even now are Afro-descendents.

One sad result of the cocaine industry moving in is that many people have abandoned their cultivation of food crops, in order to grow coca which fetches an exponentially higher price. So nearly all the food is brought in from outside the region, which means that anytime an armed group wants to flex their muscle, they blockade the area and bring it to its knees.

One initiative that our organization has been involved in for several years is supporting a church-based project for replacing coca with cacao. Currently, the farmers involved are exploring avenues for  marketing their produce. 

It's a big question what will happen in this area once peace accords are signed. Will the armed groups really lay down arms, or will they morph into something else in order to maintain control of narco-trafficking?

They're all flexing their muscles; an armed strike was held last week that basically shut down the whole area. When that happens, people start running out of food since nothing can come in our out.

Just last month the Mennonite Brethren churches in Colombia celebrated 70 years of existence as a denomination here. They've weathered a lot of storms, violence and persecution. Our hope is that through our presence we may help them weather the coming ones.

Tuesday, April 05, 2016


This is what happens when I forget to bring my knitting to a staff meeting
Last Saturday, I don't think I left our apartment complex. I had found an old, worn-out basketball court behind the utility shed and community vegetable garden that I thought would be ideal for sidewalk chalk - and it was! The kids and I drew rainbows and zucchinis and traced outlines of things and ourselves, played line tag and splashed in puddles. It started to rain and by afternoon all traces of our play time there were gone.

The next day I saw the messages and news items about all the crazy political stuff going on right now - the right-wing backlash to the current peace negotiations. Seriously, WHO stands up and says they're against peace???!?

Well... there are those who benefit from the conflict, frankly, so I suppose it really shouldn't be all that shocking.

But it's sad.

There's a sign I walk by on the way home from work, "future site of the museum of peace," with a picture of two dark Afro-colombian hands holding each other, and a beatifically smiling grandmother holding a red rose. I think it is ridiculous. It sentimentalizes peace. Peace-building work, after decades of armed conflict, is not a feel-good proposition. Dealing with the memories of all that pain, the processes of truth and reconciliation, will be extremely hard.

There are signs and graffitis for peace all over the city. I understand the fatigue and how tired people are of the conflict and the heavy toll it has taken on this country. It's hard to see those calls for peace being answered with increased and further violence.

Friday, April 01, 2016

Ah yes...

I wrote a blog post for MCC's Latin America/Caribbean Advocacy Blog, about Biblical perspectives on migration (which caused me to go on an investigative mission to learn whether "Biblical" should be capitalized or not). Enjoy!