The Ventura fires

December 6th, 2017

Fires along the 101, where I was this morning, driving from Santa Barbara to LA. Only a few yards from the freeway and dozens of them burning. I was alone and taking photos out the window, one hand on the steering wheel, the other holding up the camera, foot pressed hard on the gas pedal.

Long story, but I spent the night in a hotel where all the other guests had been evacuated. After dinner, they gathered around the pool with plastic cups and bottles of wine and I heard one of them say: “Less house, more home.” Which made sense, in all its terrible and profound truth. Everyone so impressively brave.

I made it to LA for school in record time. The 405 eerily deserted. California in flames.




Kallie and Maya

December 4th, 2017

We met Kallie and her daughter Maya in 2003, as we like to say “on the calle” in Antigua, when Maya and my daughter Olivia were babies in arms and Kallie and I each had moved to Guatemala to finish their adoptions.

Now teenagers, Maya and Olivia remain close friends–”oldest” friends, in fact–and Kallie and I share a bond that’s forever. Our families met up this weekend and remembered those days, and our other dear friends who fostered. xoxo



Road trip

November 25th, 2017

The Friday after Thanksgiving we drove up the California coast from San Diego, destination Santa Barbara. We planned to see the exhibition Guatemala from 33,000 km: Contemporary Art, 1960-Present. I had checked the SB Museum of Contemporary Art website to confirm the museum was closed Thanksgiving Day; however, in my enthusiasm, I may have missed it was closed the Friday after, as well.

The photo above shows us standing outside the locked doors.

But the day was not lost. Santa Barbara is a gorgeous city and the kids loved shopping in the Black Friday mix. We also toured the Santa Barbara County Courthouse, a National Historic Landmark, and surely one of the most beautiful public buildings in the U.S. Meanwhile, we continued up the coast as planned, through Solvang and to Cambria. Today, we toured Hearst Castle.

Thankful. ~



November harvest

November 19th, 2017

Late November morning harvest of tomatoes, raspberries, and Meyer lemons from our backyard.

I’ll never ever get used to the miracle of going outside, picking a tomato or raspberry off a vine, and eating it. I know, that’s called food and farming and gardening, but, to me, still, a miracle!



This happened

November 5th, 2017

This happened that hasn’t happened in a while. A cashier at a café looked from me to Mateo and back again and asked: “Where’d you buy him? Macy’s or Nordstrom?”

Sometimes I’m not up for the teaching moment and this was one of those times. Mateo was out of school because of his concussion. A big hot chocolate with whipped cream was going to be his treat for being so brave during the EEG. The best laid plans.

During nights that I’m organized, I write in my journal about what occurred that day, and find I often write about comments made to my kids, or things they heard, that they tell me–about adoption, about being from Central America, about our family and their birth families, about building a wall. These things have become my obsessions because whatever affects my children affects me.

November is National Adoption Awareness Month and, speaking for myself, this is my awareness: there is not one facet of my life that is not affected by adoption. Adoption permeates my thoughts, my behavior, my subconscious.

Adoption awareness cannot be contained in a month. Adoption awareness is forever.

BTW, Mateo is fine, recovering nicely. xoxox



Mateo and Charlie

October 27th, 2017

Two weeks ago, Mateo fainted, smashed his head on a tile floor, and suffered a concussion. I was in the kitchen cooking dinner, and when I heard him crash, thought the TV had fallen off the wall. The thud was that loud.

He’s feeling better now–lots of rest, quiet, and hugs with his bestie, Charlie. (EEG said all good; sometimes kids faint apparently.) Mateo will return to school Monday. I’m relieved he’s well enough, but Charlie will miss his good buddy.



Pew Research on international adoption

October 20th, 2017

Here’s a link to the annual report from Pew Research about the state of international adoption. Bottom line: “Americans adopted around 5,370 children from other countries in fiscal year 2016 – 77% fewer than the peak in 2004 and 66% fewer than in 1999… (By comparison, Americans adopted about 53,500 U.S.-born children through public agencies in fiscal 2015…)”

My children came to me at a moment in history that no longer exists–in the early 2000s, during a wave of adoptions from Guatemala. They belong to a specific cohort–of 29,805 children adopted from Guatemala.

Everything about my children’s lives is informed by the fact they are adopted.

There’s no judgement in that sentence, just a statement of what is. Change one thing, change everything. Truth.



Father Stanley Rother is beatified

September 27th, 2017

I’ve posted before about American priest Stanley Rother, who was assassinated in 1981 by Guatemalan military in Santiago Atitlan during Guatemala’s 36-year armed conflict. Called Padre Aplas by the faithful he served, Rother is the first U.S.-born Catholic priest to be beatified.

In this beautiful and moving article, Guatemalan People Celebrate Father Stanley Rother’s Beatification, Mary Jo McConahay (author, Maya Roads and Ricochet) tells the story of Stanley Rother, from his Oklahoma boyhood to his life among the Tzutujil Maya to his death by masked assailants in the parish where he lived.

At the Catholic ceremony in Santiago, one cofradia sacristan said of Rother: “He talked about equality of people and equilibrium, that people should love each other, like the harmony of our Maya cosmovision–he said this was the word of God.”



The Fosters

September 17th, 2017

We got a TV. A very large one, and cable access to go with. First thing Olivia and Mateo did was download the entire season of “The Fosters.” They’d seen excerpts on YouTube and wanted to watch in its entirety. Not for young children, but my 12- and 15-year-olds and I love it. Mateo said, “I like it because it’s about adoption and has Latino kids in it.”




We got a dog

September 4th, 2017

We got a dog. A three-year-old Wheaten terrier mix, from a shelter in San Diego. Charlie has been with us three weeks, and we cannot imagine life without him. The kids adore him. Tim and I adore him. We’re outside more; we’re laughing more. Charlie brings out the best in all of us.

Why didn’t I agree to this sooner? Mateo has begged for a dog for five years! Here’s a post from August 2014 with a letter he wrote in 2012.

My post from August 2014:

One of the benefits of clearing out clutter is that stuff you forgot resurfaces, including this letter my son Mateo wrote me in January 2012. In it, he addresses a theme that remains ongoing: his pining for a dog. Reading Mateo’s letter helped me realize he’s wanted a dog for at least two years, a very long time in the life of a nine-year-old. Not that I’m planning to relent and get a dog. Just that Mateo’s desire is not new.

My son’s writing feels so energetic. His spelling and punctuation could use a copy-editor, but I love his voice.

Mateo’s letter, 2012:

Dear Mom,

I think Olivia an me shood get a DOG!!!!!!!!!!!

BECAUSE it will giv us xrsize.

If she didn’t want to do it I would do it for her.

Il give them a bath evry day.

If it’s a school day il do it after school.

If it’s a weekend il do it after brakefast in the morning.I’l take rely good car of the pupy.

“I promis promis promis”

Please Mommy i beg you.

yours Truly


– What can I say? We had a lot going on. But I’m a passionate convert: If you don’t have dog, think about getting one. Yes, a dog requires work, and yes a dog will be another job for you. But a dog will likely give you this as well: sweetness, loyalty, and unconditional love. That counts for something. xoxo