Monthly Archives: May 2012

Twitter is for Nerds

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I’ve been reading up on things that publishers look for when you’re trying to sell your book ideas to them.  One of the things that several authors with blogs have mentioned is that publishing companies look to see what kind of a market you already have built into your persona- like how many blog followers you have and how many twitter followers you have might indicate what size of ready-made audience you come with.  Of course to me that sounds like their marketing department’s job.  I want to whine, “whaaaat?  Now I have to Tweet too?”  I have deliberately avoided Twitter because it’s so Nerdy!  Here’s 5 reasons why I think Tweeting is for geeks:

1.  The name– If “Twitter” isn’t the sissiest word I’ve ever heard I don’t know what is.

2.  The lack of photos (originally.)  I know that Instigram has fixed that complaint, but back in the day… like way back in 2011… when I was thinking about doing Twitter AND Facebook, FB won my loyalties with pictures.

3.  Constant chatter– I already have a super talkative child that follows me around all day saying, “Hey Mom, hey Mom…”  One of these days I’m going to keep a running count of how many times she says Mom in one day.  Yesterday my husband took notice and commented, “That’s even annoying ME!”  and that coming from the man who rarely hears his own name of Daddy when it’s called .  On Facebook, when someone posts too many status updates in a day- I hide them.  Far too chatty for me.

4.  Follow Me– I don’t know who coined this phrase, but it sounds a lot like what Jesus said to his fisherman-disciples.  So when I read someone’s invitation to “Follow Me” at such-and-such a name, I cringe.  I wish there was a “No thanks” button, or a “I don’t like you so much in person, so why would I want to hang around you in cyberspace” button, or a “you’re so full of yourself, so why would I care what you are thinking every second of the day?” button.  Maybe if Jesus had a Twitter account I’d follow him, just because I already do in real life, but maybe not.  It just sounds like we’re all making our own little discipleship cells.  (I know, there’s a follow button on my blog too, but I can’t help that.  Besides, not many of you have clicked it so I assume you understand what a huge commitment that button represents.)

5.  Clutter on you Facebook wall– I have long since quit reading Facebook status updates posted from Twitter because I hate trying to decipher all the symbols mixed with the letters.  It feels like Algebra to me… and I hated Algebra.  I’m on Facebook to be entertained, so if I have to work too hard… I just don’t.  #I’mlazysosueme.

So for those pathetic reasons, I don’t tweet.  I’ve got enough social media in my life for now… at least enough to prove to my mother that I haven’t died overseas yet.  (She gets a little worried if I don’t show up on Facebook everyday.)  I really can’t think of any way that Twitter could entice me to come to the dark side.  Maybe if they changed their name to something smart like “SmackTalk” or “TimeKiller” that might be a move in the right direction.  But for now, I abstain and heckle the nerds over there on the sissy social networking site.  “You’re on the Jersey side!”

Update:  This is a youtube video of comedian Louis C.K. talking to Conan about this exact same thing.  Warning- One S*** word.

We should combine Twitter with Angry Birds and make “Angry Twits”

A warning for women who use their boobs to get attention

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This is a little story that I hope will clarify something for all those women who use their boobs to get attention.

Many years ago in our days of youth ministry we attended dozens of high school plays.  One sticks out in my mind.  After the play, I was standing in the packed lobby of the school theater.  It was raining and my husband had run out to the parking lot to pull up the car for me.  As I waited, I indulged in a little people watching.  There was a very pretty young girl also waiting at the door.  She was probably about 16 years old, very chesty and wearing a top that showed more than it covered.  Her belly was showing and her low riders were riding millimeters above where her underwear should have been.  She was smiling dreamily at her reflection in the glass.

What she didn’t notice was a really crusty old man standing at her left.  He was looking her up and down with the most vile, ogling look on his face.  While she was day dreaming about that cute guy in her Algebra class, some nasty guy was sexing her up in his mind.  I’m pretty sure I threw up in my mouth.

Here’s the point, when you use your body to get a guy…

You THINK this is who you will attract:

But in reality, you have a better chance of attracting this:

It’s just logistics.  There are waaaaay more nasty guys out there then there are straight, single, heart throbs just waiting around for a girl like you.  And even if Brad Pitt DID see your hot bod, would he dump that other woman for you?

So Girls and Women, I know you are tempted “to use what you got”.  But please be aware that the bait you use determines the type of fish you’ll catch.  If you use your boobs to attract men, you will only attract men who like to look at women’s boobs.  It’s plain and simple.  And that’s not the kind of guy you really want… even if he does look like Brad Pitt.

Not all attention is equal.  Save those awesome boobs for the man that you caught with your brilliant mind and witty conversation and kind heart.  Then when you’re both old and grey (and less perky than you used to be), he’ll still appreciate your heart, mind and conversation and still love you for them.  It’s worth it to fish with the right kind of bait.

I hate you, Victoria’s Secret

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A few years ago I was sitting on the couch watching T.V. when a commercial for Victoria’s Secret came on.  Normally I reach for the clicker, but since I was all alone I let the commercial play.

Big mistake.  In under 30 seconds I felt terrible about myself.  Just moments before I was completely UNself-conscious, now I felt like a fat slob.  I reached for another Oreo and wondered, “How can a 30 second commercial make me feel SO inadequate?”

The power of those airbrushed images of women with beautiful, plastic bodies was staggering!  Suddenly, what I WAS was not enough.  I was not beautiful enough.  I was not skinny enough.  I was not immune to gravity enough (which doesn’t even make sense!).  My hair was not full enough.  My eyelashes were not long enough.  My undergarments were not sexy enough.  I was inadequate in every sense of the word, in my mind.

So I fought back with the only tool I had available- I posted a snarky remark on Facebook about how much I hate Victoria’s Secret for making me feel so disgusted with myself.  I only received a few comments, but the one from my brother-in-law still sticks in my head.  He simply said, “But Josh thinks you’re pretty great.”  And that’s all I needed to hear.  I only needed to be reminded that my loyal husband was the only one I wanted to please.  And never once has he complained about my figure.

It’s true, I am not what I was when I was 16 years old.  But then neither is Josh.  One time when I was complaining about how Motherhood had changed me, my husband casually asked me, “Which kid would you like to exchange for your youthful figure?”  That brought me back to reality.  I go back to this powerful thought over and over again in my battle against the images that the world tries to convince me to strive for.  I will never look like a Victoria’s Secret model, but my husband and children are not complaining.  So I should quit being so hard on myself.  After all, there’s more to me than the image in the mirror.

Growing old together is the main goal, not hanging on to your youth.

Third Culture Kids- Living overseas with children

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Loving this life! My three monkeys in Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica.

A Third Culture Kid is someone who is not a native to the country that he or she is growing up in- think missionary families, military families or foreign business families.  In our case, our TCKs are not entirely American, nor are they Costa Rican.  They have spent more years living outside of America than inside.  For my kids, “home” is Costa Rica.  Because of this awkward way of growing up, TCKs make a third culture among themselves.  They best relate to other kids that have grown up living abroad.  They seem to “get” each other, regardless of the country they grew up in.

This blog will give you a little taste of what it’s like to be a Third Culture Kid.  This is the opening of the book by Heidi Sand-Hart called “Home Keeps Moving”.

You might be a Third Culture Kid if…

*You can’t answer the question, “Where are you from?”

*You speak two languages but can’t spell in either.

*You flew before you could walk.

*You have a passport, but no driver’s license.

*Your life story uses the phrase, “Then we went to…” five times.

*National Geographic makes you homesick.  (I love this one.  I would also add that walking through EPCOT’s International Village felt oddly normal.)

*You don’t know where home is.  (Indicated by the long pause you get when you ask them “where are you from?”)

*You’d rather never say hello that have to say goodbye.

*You read the international section of the newspaper before the comics.  (what’s a newspaper?)

*You have friends in or from 29 different countries.

*You wince when people mispronounce foreign words.

*You never take anything for granted.  (Except the fact that you live where others vacation.  We are less than impressed when people on Wheel of Fortune win a trip to Mexico or Costa Rica.)

*You speak with authority on the subject of airline travel.  (and know how to handle your passport and fill out immigration paperwork.)

*You know how to pack.  (and wait until the last minute to do it.)

*You feel odd being in the ethnic majority.

*You feel you need to move after you’ve lived in the same place for a month.

*Your pocket money makes you a millionaire in one country and a pauper in the next.

*You’ve had more vaccinations in your lifetime than your neighbor’s dog back home.  (Amen!)

*You consider any travel under 8 hours to be a “short trip”.  (So true!)

*You’re an expert on jet-lag remedies.

*You have frequent flyer miles on 5 different airlines, but not enough on any of them to get a free flight.

*You can easily guess a strange’s nationality by their accent.

I can truly agree with every single one of those.  Our missionary life is wonderful and different- full of blessings and difficulties.  Last week I stood on a beach with my children and examined a nest of sea turtle eggs that we found.  Then we took 10 steps into the ocean to catch sand dollars.  We live an amazing life and it’s nothing like America (not that we don’t like America, we love it too!).  I don’t begrudge one hardship when I think of all the benefits that come with this lifestyle.

Do you know a TCK or are you an exPat family?  Please add to the list by making comments below.  It’s fun to share our experiences of living and thriving overseas.

Yes, she’s Mexican and yes, she’s supposed to be that color.

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In the hospital, we were all excited to finally have our little Lulu in the family. Notice that they didn't give me a hospital gown. They told me to change back into my own clothes. Weird.

Today is the 5th birthday of our daughter Lucy, our little Mexicana.  Lucy was born on Labor Day, May 1st in Mexico City.  When I tried to explain the pun that I was in labor on Labor Day, it just didn’t translate well.  My friends just smiled politely at me.

Having a baby in a foreign country was the biggest set-up for culture shock that anyone can experience, in my humble opinion.  It was like having a baby in the 1950s with all the modern technology of the 2000s.  I was totally unprepared for my own intense reactions to “the way things are done” in my new country.  Maybe it was the pregnancy hormones, maybe I was just at the brink of “losing it”.  It’s not an experience I recommend to anyone.  I was just glad that I had done this before in America.  I knew what was medically necessary and what was just local traditions imported into a modern medical facility.

The hospital we chose was one of the best private hospitals in Mexico City, and really, they had all the most modern equipment anyone could want… it’s just that not everyone knew how to use it!  For example, my doctor who had studied in America for a while and finished his degree in Spain, had a new 3D ultrasound machine right in his office.  For each visit, I received a DVD with a copy of his ultrasound exam for that week.  It was really cool… but I quickly got the feeling that he didn’t really know how to read the thing and was just playing with his new toy- testing out new features of the machine each week.  It was amusing, but it didn’t raise any red flags yet.

My first hint that this was not going to be the smooth sailing that I planned was when we had our final visit before our due date arrived.  Sitting in his office he said to me, “So, do you want me to do anything else while I’m in there, like tie your tubes or give you a tummy tuck?”  I sat there with a blank look on my face as I contemplated, “how the heck to you do THAT from THAT angle?”  Not that I was opposed to a tummy tuck, but that’s when it occurred to me that we were talking apples and oranges here.  Apparently in our socio-economic class ALL women schedule a cesarean birth, for the convenience of everyone involved and for the esthetics of being bikini ready just days after birth.  I said, “What do you think you’re going to be doing IN THERE?  You just show up and catch the baby- I’ll do all the work.”  Because he was eager to please his only American patient, he nervously consented.

The night that I went into labor, my doctor was on a plane returning from a conference in San Francisco, California.  He begged me to hold on until he arrived at the hospital.  I obliged.  We met him at the hospital and though he was cheerful (and a bit more excited than I expected a doctor to be) he scolded me a bit.  “See this is why we schedule it, so the doctor doesn’t miss it.”  I thought, “I’m sure I could have managed this without you.”

I DID like my doctor though.  When he was in the room, I was sure to get my own way on every detail.  I wasn’t a diva about the whole thing, but I knew that certain things were not necessary so I refused to consent to them- you do not need to be totally naked nor shaved anywhere in order to give birth naturally.  Then I would hear the nurses in the hall way complaining loudly.  When the doctor left the room, the fear of the nurses gripped my heart.  It really is the nurses that kill you or keep you alive.  I knew that.

Sparing the details, at the hour of delivery I had to point blank tell everyone that I wanted my husband in the room with me- so MAKE IT HAPPEN NOW!  They balked, I threw out my trump card:  That’s how we do it in America.  So Josh was suited up and ushered into the room just moments before the anesthesiologist leaned down to me and asked, “do you remember how to push?”  I smiled and said, “watch me.”  I asked the doctor if he was ready on his end and in one push, Lucy popped out.  When my doctor said “WOW!” very loudly, I wondered if this was the first time he had ever seen that done before.

I didn’t get to hold Lucy, they showed her to me and then whisked her off to the nursery and threw me into a recovery room all by myself.  After about an hour I decided I wanted my baby and started asking for her.  About 6 hours later, someone brought her to me.  I kept saying, “I want to nurse her”  and they insisted that I didn’t make any milk yet.  I counter-insisted, “bring me a baby and I’ll show you!”  What they meant was, women in your social class don’t nurse their babies.

At some point the nurses wrapped my stomach and my legs in very tight ace bandages.  I wondered if they could see that I didn’t have any stitches on my stomach… and the legs, well, if I didn’t die of a blood clot then I would surely succumb to heat stroke!  When my feet swelled up and turned purple I took off the bandages.  My nurse about had an INFARTO (heart attack).  I just persisted in telling them that I don’t want them or need them so quit worrying about those dumb bandages!  What they were telling me was that women in my class care very much about looking skinny.

The nurses also told me that Lucy was looking a little pale and I should lay her in the sun.  I told them, “I’m a white woman- this is the color of white babies.”  I couldn’t wrap my brain around that one.  I just shrugged.

In addition to all of this, a lawyer came to our room and filled out the paperwork for Lucy’s birth certificate.  That was very convenient for us, but she was terribly confused when we didn’t want to give Lucy the traditional Mexican last name of father’s family name + mother’s family name.  We debated and then stuck to our guns, we are Americans, she will have an American first, middle, and last name.  It about threw that poor lawyer into a fit.

Later in the day, I found myself all alone in the room.  There was a knock at the door and in walked a tiny woman in a Catholic nun’s habit.  She asked me if I would like to take The Lord’s Supper (Communion).  Being a Christian, I knew what that this was part of the Catholic heritage of Mexico, but it was also part of MY religious heritage too.  I gladly accepted.  She gave me the elements (a tiny cracker an a plastic cup of juice), said a prayer and then I took over.  I grabbed her by the arms and burst out in worship to the Lord- the Spirit just took over me!  I started praying in the Spirit.  This poor woman was clearly shocked and overwhelmed by what I was doing.  But I couldn’t help it, I worshipped.  When I released her arms, she left the room shaking from head to toe.

I needed that moment with God to sustain me for the rest of my time in the hospital.

The next day and a half was filled with more new Spanish vocabulary than my sleep deprived brain could absorb.  Hospitals come with their own language and if you don’t know what a Tamiz is (a lab exam for the baby) or a Dia de Alto (discharge day) then you won’t learn those words any faster when someone yells them at you like you are deaf.  Speaking louder and faster does not explain the definitions.

Eventually I broke down and cried, “I just want to go home!  Someone bring me my baby and let’s get out of here”  After hours and hours of asking the nurses to bring Lucy to me, we finally called the head nurse to our room and asked what the hold up was.  Apparently, no one had told us that we must PAY FOR OUR BABY before we would be allowed to have her back.  Josh had to find the person who had our hospital bill, go down to the administrative office and pay the bill, return to the nursery and show the head nurse the receipt, THEN they would start the check list to discharge me and the baby.  No one had explained this to us.  It did not occur to one person that we did not know the hospital procedures.  Not one person bothered to explain step by step what was required of us.  Live and learn.

Even if someone had warned me in advance that this would be a traumatic experience, I think I would have believed that I could handle it.  The next few months were filled with more culture shock moments than I could have anticipated.  Being a new parent in a foreign country means opening yourself up to all kinds of “helpful” advice and vicious criticism.  You will never “do it right” in the eyes of others if you “do it” the American way.  It’s amazing to me just how much culture is subconsciously packed into the theme of parenting.  But that, my readers, is for another blog another time.
She is a child with dual citizenship.  She is a “Third Culture Kid“.  We have had more trouble than you would imagine crossing borders with this child who looks American but whose passport says she was born Mexican.  It’s just a difficult concept to grasp when the color of the kid is “wrong”.  But through this whole crazy experience, our family was blessed with our Bonus Baby Lucy who is turning 5 today.  It’s hard to believe that we have all survived this long.  🙂  My baby is growing up.  We love you Lucy Lu!

Our friends Nely and Izi visit Lucy on her first day home. We violated tons of cultural rules within the first few weeks of her life. It's amazing the child didn't die of a draft! :0)