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Saturday, March 30, 2013

Poverty...

pov·er·ty
[ póvvərtee ]
  1. state of being poor: the state of not having enough money to take care of basic needs such as food, clothing, and housing


Last week, a group of us...mothers, fathers, high schoolers and college kids stared poverty in the face.  We got to see what it looks like, what it smells like, what it wears, how it washes it's clothes and how it lives day to day.  We met poverty and her name was Maria and her kids were Alejandro, Paula, Antonia, Luis and Cesar.



They were the family that we built a "double" for.  A double house is 14 x 30 divided into three rooms.  It has a porch light, a ceiling fan and electric outlets and lights in each room.  The floor is concrete and the walls have insulation and drywall.  Sounds like a mansion to you, huh?  Yeah...me too.

As I have said before, my kitchen is bigger than that whole house, and my livingroom is bigger...

I tell people that going to Juarez and building houses has become my husband's mid-life crisis.  I, on the other hand, am jaded.  I go and I always enjoy it but wonder what I am doing there.  I love helping people have a dry, warm place to lay their heads at night but I struggle with arrogance...of being the great white hope and I know that they will be just fine without me.  If I want to be honest, I felt like that this year more than ever.  I didn't really even want people to know that I was going and what we were doing. 

Then I met Maria...she is 37 and as joyful and sassy as me.  She was yelling at her kids, they were under our feet while we were building the whole time.  She stayed outside and talked with our crew, laughing and joking, telling her story and letting us know that we were changing her world.  I tend to not believe that last line but when I went into her home...I know she was right.

Her house was behind the house we built.  She invited a few folks in to show them around.  I avoided being invited...it helps me feel less.  If I close off my heart, I can work really hard and get alot done without having to think about what day to day life is for folks with nothing.  It is a great way to not feel.

I managed to stay fairly disconnected until the last day.  The work this week was exhausting. 

We started on Monday morning prepping the site for the concrete pad.



We ran into some problems leveling the site and seemed like we shoveled and shoveled to get it to where it needed to be.  Then, the concrete truck came and poured and we got it to the point we could drag a board across it to make it look nice.  Seemed to me that the concrete took forever.  After that was done, the group began building walls in the street.  The "cut" crew was busy measuring and cutting and the wall were hammered together.  The walls are laid out in the street and the group is on their knees hammering...appropriate, huh?

 
 
The walls were built, the concrete was drying and it was getting dark.  Time to go back to the church, make dinner and do a devotion.  A good day but hard...by the end, my hands weren't working and I was so stiff from building that I felt like I was 100.  Poor Terry, right?  What a good person, right?  Well, that night, Maria went into her house with her 5 kids and her husband to sleep.  Didn't phase me because I was so sore and feeling so sorry for myself...

Tuesday came and by the end of that day, the house looked like this...

Then came Wednesday...stucco day and finish day.  We arrived on the site and the pregnant dog had puppies in the night.  Maria ran out of the house with the little puppies in her hands to show us...

 


We all held the puppies and felt bad...who was going to feed these puppies?  How were they going to survive? 

We finished the stucco, the drywall and the house for the most part on Wednesday night.  Our gang was exhausted but very happy to have it finished.  The only thing left was mudding and taping and that would be done on Thursday morning by a skeleton crew while the rest of the gang went to the Orphanage to play with the kids.  In my "closed heart" attitude, I decided to go and work on the house and not play with the kids.  Too hard and I didn't want any part of it.

We showed up Thursday morning at the job site and Maria brought me all the puppies at once.  I sat in the sand with 7 puppies, 3 days old whimpering.  I decided they needed their momma and told Maria and before I knew it, I was standing at her front door of the house she lived in.  I crossed the threshhold to see 6 matresses on the dirt floor against the wall that was made of pallets with  black tar paper as a break against the elements.  The matresses were obviously old and tattered and didn't have sheets.  She invited me into her "kitchen"  which had a piece of carpet on the floor but was mostly dirt that had an old oven and stove with stuff all over a piece of wood that doubled, I guess, as a counter and table.  The momma dog was in the corner on a pillow. I sat down on the floor and placed each puppy to nurse.  There were no lights, no water and I heard that there was a bathroom somewhere.  I walked out of the house stunned and began to think about what she was getting. 

The drywall mudding and taping was finished, and I was sitting on a bucket at the water spigot washing the tools.  She came out with dirty clothes and two buckets and in her best english, let me know that she was going to wash her kids up for the dedication in the afternoon.  She also took a rope and strung a clothes line and washed her best shirt and pants in a wash bucket and hung them out. 

As I washed tools, she and I talked about her life...her husband who was out of work for three months and just found a job on Monday in El Paso, how she sometimes runs out of money and the kids go without food, how she doesn't feed the dogs and they live on the garbage they find in the street...how she loves her family and is doing her best for them.  We communicated all of this with my terrible spanish and her little bit of english.  She called me "Teresa" and asked me about my "esposo" and pointed to her chin talking about his gray beard.  Sure, I am 10 years older than her but it seems to me that we all want the same things...a warm house, beans on the table and a healthy family.  The rest is just gravy.

We dedicated her house and I watched her as the Pastor spoke.  Tears rolled down her cheeks and her kids were acting up all over the place...she would give them a look, smile and listen again...when the tears started rolling down, I walked over to her an put my hand on her shoulder.  I admired her...and felt honored to be part of getting her family into a stable home. 


As we drove home yesterday, I was so thankful to cross over and be in the United States.  And, yeah, I have a warm house, a few cars, food in my fridge.  I haven't had to worry about feeding my kids or the roof pouring water in when it rains, or even if I could feed my dogs and cats...because I am blessed. 

I told the group I was going to retire from building in Mexico...not gonna do this again.  Done...

Talk to me at Christmas and we'll see if I am still retired...

We'll tawk tomorrow,
I love you all,
Terry

Monday, March 18, 2013

Life is funny...

I can't believe that it has been so long since I have had time to write.  In the last 10 days, I have loved my husband, hated my husband, gained 10 pounds, joined weight watchers, and learned that my  niece is gonna have a baby...

I am one of those people that believe that babies are the most holy and precious of things in this world.  While I am done with them, I love to look at them and wonder who they will become and what they will offer the world.

My niece is sick as a dog.  She is puking and puking and actually is in the hospital to get well.  I told her that when you are that sick, you must be having a boy.  I know its an old wives tale but I would love to have another boy in the family...

I am headed to Mexico with the gang to build on Saturday.  A group of 30 of us will meet in El Paso, Texas to head to Juarez next Monday.  While I  love this kind of thing, I hate to leave my patients.  Not that they won't be okay without me but I won't be okay without them...

My college son got his ears pierced. I thought he was gonna get a tattoo and was prepared for that but not the piercing.  I sat at my computer when he told me and was stunned...humbled...and kind of happy for him.  Seems to me he is exercising his individuality...and honestly, there are so many distructive ways.  Oh, and, I have 7 piercings myself!

We still have all kinds of broken down cars.  Last weekend, my husband and youngest spent most of the weekend under one of the cars figuring out what was wrong.  Tonight, they drove it around and declared it fixed.  One down and a truck, subaru and durango to go...

While Jim was gone to Mexico to build last week, Howie and I had our hands full.  We had to take care of ourselves, get the car out of the ditch,  plow the driveway, take the garbage and recycling out, water the plants, as well as feed and water the dogs every morning and night.  We forgot one thing...

Jim came home on Friday night and we had a nice dinner and put him to bed...he is a 51 year old guy who built all week so he was tired.  Saturday morning, as we were laying in bed talking, he asked, "Did you feed my rabbit while I was gone?"  I gasped and said "No, I forgot!"  I forgot to feed the rabbit.  This thing is old and fragile and lives in Jim's office...I didn't even go in there while he was gone.  He jumped out of bed, ran down to his office, and I heard him talking to the rabit, "Hello, bunny, are you okay?  I  hear you didn't get food or water while I was gone..."  I was ashamed but a little disappointed that the rabbit was still with us.

This rabbit, Jack, has lived with us since the Queen was in 6th grade when we picked him from a box of bunnies at Safeway.  The Queen is almost senior in college!

Life is funny, isn't it?  We can only keep our heads up and forgive ourselves for the mistakes and move forward.  It's the only thing I can do so I don't stay in bed...

Although, last weekend while the boys were working on the car, the bed was soft and the cat was purring so loud that I had a hard time getting out of bed after my nap...

We'll tawk tomorrow,
I love you all,
Terry

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Baseball season 2013...


My youngest, who I sometimes refer to as the little prince, started high school baseball.  He loves the sport and although I don't want to be "that" mom, I think he is pretty good.  Not good in the "go to college on a scholarship, be in the bigs" good...but pretty fun to watch and will make the plays and throw strikes more often than not.  But, I am his mother...

Photo: Hey Rockies fans and fans of productive teenagers...
Conifer Baseball is selling Rockies tickets again this year.  Here's the info:

BOGO tickets for May 31 at 6:40 pm against the Dodgers and you get Father's day, June 16th at 2:10 against the Phillies free.  The pair is 39.00.

All proceeds of the ticket sales go to the Conifer Lobo Baseball program.

Below is my favorite Conifer baseball player...








We headed out to Fort Morgan to play the Mustangs...a team from the Eastern plains that has a reputation for being good...and they are.  The town has a lot of open space, a train that runs through the middle of town and a stench of cows like no other.  The boys got out of school at 10 and we headed east.  The drive was almost 2 hours and we stopped at a McDonald's in town for the bathroom and lunch for some of them.  We got out of the car and the stench was overpowering...Let's just say that cows do not smell too good.

Howie pitched the first game and was "lights out".  I could tell he was a little nervous but found his rhythm and started knocking them down.  I was proud of him.  I counted pitches on the palm of my hand and runs on my thumb (I am "that" mom).  He pitched 4 flawless innings but I could tell, first game of the season, he was starting to fatigue.  Jim, is the assistant and first base coach, and living the middle aged dream, so you would think I would have an in.    I wandered over and let him know that his son was at 65 pitches and looked a little tired...he may be pressing his luck by leaving him in. 

Of course, that was exactly the wrong thing to do because I am the wife and supposed to sit down and shut up and watch the game...

Let's just say that he pitched a little too long and he has a sore arm and shoulder today.  But Howie was thrilled to pitch the whole game and I was proud of him.  

Now, spring in Colorado is a funny thing.  If you live here, you know exactly what I am talking about.  We were supposed to play a game on Saturday...well, not we, but the team, but the forecast was ominous and there would be snow and probably a lot of it.  The Varsity head coach sent the JV home and the big boys stayed the night.  My JV player was disappointed but honestly, it was the right thing to do.

We headed to Subway to have dinner before the big drive home  and for some reason, the stench was overwhelming.  I said to Howie as I covered my nose, "Is that you?" and we laughed about how anyone could live in a place that smelled so bad all the time. We ate our dinner and headed out.

I had gotten about 15 minutes into the drive and my son was snoring.  This big boy, 6 foot at least, was curled up in the passenger seat sound asleep.  Every so often, I would hear a big gulp and snore but he didn't stir...my guess is that he was tired.

This morning, he talked about how he could have pitched better and  was analyzing his game...a thinker.  This kid is like an idiot savant with sports, he knows stats and who played where and what college and his performance...he loves sports.  

This afternoon, we went to Sports Authority for a new bat.  We were going to go to Dick's sporting goods but as Howie said to me, "Ma, let's got to Sport's Authority because you don't like Dick's right?" and then we both chuckled and went on about how sometimes I like Dick's but "not today in the mood I am in". Then I said, "I thought you  liked Dicks...not that there was anything wrong with that" and we laughed and laughed...  

I know, I am not the best mother but sometimes you can't sacrifice a good laugh.  And, I know my teenagers hear much worse things at school!!!

So we went to Sports Authority...no Dicks today... and ended up getting him a new bat...a fancy one and he was excited.  I mentioned that it isn't the bat that does the hitting, it's the player, but that is beside the point.

We'll see how the season and the hitting comes along...I mean, it is really hard to watch your child struggle and that may be how it goes...or it may not.  Either way, I will be in the stands, trying to be positive the whole season, hoping for the big hit or the crafty pitch to win the game.

But honestly, I can't tell you how cute I think he is in that uniform, how proud I am that he is on a team, playing with a bunch of guys to win...trying to do his best, deal with adversity and it is obvious he loves what he is doing.  For me, Mom, that is what makes my world go round...and I don't have too many more years left...

We'll tawk tomorrow,
I love you all,
Terry



Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Queen is 21...



My daughter turned 21 on Monday.  We headed up to Boulder, picked her and her brother up for her birthday dinner.  It is a rare time that we all get to be together and I have to count my blessings...these kids of mine do love each other...


When the kids were little, I made each kid a birthday crown and they wore it for a picture.  For some reason, I had to make one for the Queen...it was a sweet reminder of days gone by...

We headed to Walnut brewery in Boulder.  Christie was thinking she wanted to go to the Nepalese restaurant but didn't want to listen to her brothers complain about the food.  I encouraged her to pick whatever restaurant she wanted but she caved when they started to talk about the after effects they thought they would have after eating at that restaurant...

We sat down and ordered drinks.  Jim ordered a dark beer, ordered me the beer I always drink...and the boys ordered the customary Doctor Peppers.  The waitress turned to the Queen and asked her what she wanted to drink...silence fell over the table and she said, "I'll have a beer...Dad, what kind of beer would I like?"  Jim, in his customary cool style, told the waitress to bring her some samples of beer he thought she would like and she could choose.   She picked the same one I was drinking and sipped it through the meal.  The boys were mesmerized at how she was having a beer with us and it was no big deal.  We ate our dinner and talked about life at college and how it was to be 21, how nothing has changed really and how she really needs to get ready for her spring break trip.  It was a wonderful night and so sweet to be together...

You see, my whole life changed the moment that I heard I was going to have a baby.  I took my last drag off of a cigarette in the back of Swedish hospital while I was on the phone calling for my pregnancy test results.  I didn't have a drink of alcohol and I gave up sweet-n-low.  I began to understand what it meant to be responsible for another human being.  I thought I had it down...

Then, she was born and I felt as though I could understand a little bit of what God's love is for us...to understand immediately that I would lay my life down for her, change everything plan I had if it meant being with her and wanting to spend every moment looking at her.  Honestly, I think Jim and I worshiped her for the first few months.  We were stunned with the gift that was given to us to care for and try to raise into a compassionate, kind human being.

Through the years, this kid has taught me so much.  In second grade, when she wasn't invited to a party that all the other girls in her class were, she took it with grace and mercy.  I was devastated and called the mother to let her know that I could not believe she would leave my kid out and my Christie calmed me down and told me that it was okay...that she was fine and she would be okay.  I didn't believe her but she was just fine.

I watched her through the years as she stuck to her beliefs and her plans.  She worked hard, played hard and was almost rigid in what she believed.  If she wanted to learn the french horn, she did,  to be the drum major in high school, teach herself the guitar, become fluent in Spanish .. all that too.  If she wanted to be on the soccer team, or the swim team or run cross country...she did it.  She just kept plugging along and made her way.  When she decided to paint a picture for her friend, she planned it out and did it and I cannot tell you how beautiful it is.


My Christie Lou, words cannot express how lucky I feel to be your mom, to have spent time watching you grow, change and learn...your life changed my life for the better and I would not be the person I am without your influence.  

May you have many more years of learning, loving and being the most amazing girl..may your compassion, grace and sense of what is good, right and holy keep you doing what you love to do.

I know you are going to change the world...because you have changed my world!

I love you, 
Mom


We'll tawk tomorrow,
I love you all,
Terr