Poetry & Words, Theology

When I was a little girl, I didn’t live on the prairie


When I was a little girl, I didn’t live on the prairie or in the suburbs or in wide-eyed city lit by neon signs. I didn’t know apple pie was supposed to be American. I never saw a baseball game. I didn’t have a picket fence, or a dog, or any of those things that are you supposed to make you American. But I didn’t live in America, either.

When I was a little girl, I lived in the middle of a brown and white house right smack on the edge of a street called Taborska right smack on the edge of a city called Ljubljana. Our front door didn’t have a doorknob. It had a door handle instead, which was long and narrow. It kind of looked like someone had taken a capital L, turned it sideways, and jammed the short side into the door. Our landlady lived downstairs, so we called her Grandma Downstairs. Petra and Alenka, her two granddaughters, lived up the stairs. We called them Petra and Alenka. Much later when I grew up into a lady and lived maybe a million or seven miles from there, I had a daughter too and I named her A. Alenka. It sounds like music. But that didn’t happen yet, because I was still a little girl.

I had one brown-haired mustached dad and one strawberry blonde mom, and a brother who got himself locked in the spare room once. The L-shaped door handles were very good at getting locked and very bad at opening up again, so while I cooked horseradish and dandelion soup in my cardboard kitchen, I prayed for a replacement brother. The original brother was unlocked before I’d finished praying, but God sent me a second brother a few years later anyway.

I didn’t have a dog. Once I had some tadpoles, which sounds nice, but really they looked more like their other name, pollywogs. Sometimes we had a goldfish. He was a very possibly magic goldfish. Sometimes he swam right out of the bowl and was missing for a long time before he popped back into the bowl. My dad was not a goldfish but he had blue eyes on the front of his head and an extra pair of eyes on the back of his head. The extra eyes were just as good at seeing as the forward-facing ones. He had a stack of heavy books next to his bed. Since it was dark when he woke up, I’m not sure which eyes he used to read.

I don’t think my mom and dad could see very far from the middle part of the house where we lived, but as I was still a child and hadn’t yet grown eyes in the back of my head, so I could see for miles. The red clay rooftops sparkled like tiny crests, like little ocean waves in a red sea. Of course, the Red Sea isn’t actually red. I know this because I am very nearly six years old, and I know almost everything there is to know, particularly important truths such as how one person cannot see one’s own face, no matter how tangled up one gets trying to turn one’s eyeballs toward it.  I tasted the sea in Greece once, although I probably shouldn’t have because there was quite a lot of rubbish floating in it. It was a rather green sea. All the books I’d ever read said seawater was supposed to be blue, but I guess they hadn’t been to Greece.

Things don’t always end up the color they set out to be, anyway. There’s a man who sometimes who comes to visit the cats and chickens and sour cherry trees downstairs, and I think his hair started out brown but it’s beginning to have grey bits around the edges. I think to myself that it’s the same kind of grey as the sardines heaped up on the tables near the bridge in the city. The sardines started out with a silvery flash of green, I think, but mostly they end up grey, too. There are big cement columns stuck into the ground at each end of the bridge down by the sardine tables. They are grey, too, like most of the things in our city, but the dragons on the top are a kind of sad, flaky green that looks like it used to be happy. Mom says the dragons are made of copper but I don’t thinks she’s right about that.  I saw a picture of a copper penny once, in an American book, but it wasn’t green at all. Our friend tried to each me about pennies. I didn’t listen. I just looked at her when she talked, and watched my head head bob up in down in the reflection of glasses she wore to cover up her glass eye.

I didn’t need to know about American pennies, anyway. I didn’t live in America. Maybe someday I would, and there would be plenty of time to learn about pennies then.

Life in Photos, Poetry & Words

LIFE IN PHOTOS :: But now I am mostly at the window watching the late afternoon light…

1000px - Barefoot on a wooden chair, Late Summer

1000 px- Looking out the window in late summer

“…You tell me it is too early to be looking back,
but that is because you have forgotten
the perfect simplicity of being one
and the beautiful complexity introduced by two.
But I can lie on my bed and remember every digit.
At four I was an Arabian wizard.
I could make myself invisible
by drinking a glass of milk a certain way.
At seven I was a soldier, at nine a prince.

But now I am mostly at the window
watching the late afternoon light…”

-an excerpt from Billy Collins’ On Turning Ten

Little Style, Poetry & Words

LITTLE STYLE :: I Toss My Butterfly Net Across Her Laughter, To Remember This Moment (brought to you by Fabkids.com)

Aveline for FabKids.com children's clothes on Oaxacaborn.com - A monthly outfit sent corresponding to your style profile -Children's fashion style blogger

Aveline for FabKids.com children's clothes on Oaxacaborn.com - A monthly outfit sent corresponding to your style profile -Children's fashion style blogger

Aveline for FabKids.com children's clothes on Oaxacaborn.com - A monthly outfit sent corresponding to your style profile -Children's fashion style blogger

Aveline for FabKids.com children's clothes on Oaxacaborn.com - A monthly outfit sent corresponding to your style profile -Children's fashion style blogger

Aveline for FabKids.com children's clothes on Oaxacaborn.com - A monthly outfit sent corresponding to your style profile -Children's fashion style blogger

Aveline for FabKids.com children's clothes on Oaxacaborn.com - A monthly outfit sent corresponding to your style profile -Children's fashion style blogger

I get a little grumpy when it feels like the world is spinning without me, and it seems that way every time the seasons change. Northern California had its first rain on Labor Day, and the red clay drank up the water thirstily, the dust sliding from the waxy Live Oak leaves and running in rivulets into the cracked earth. I know the scent that thirsty ground gives up, and I know the coolness that falls in those drops.

Soon in the Midwest, the mercury will dip and everyone will pull open the bottom dresser drawer, reaching to the back into the sea of only-just-abandoned knit socks. The apples have already started to fall, red and green and sweet-smelling, tumbling from the crooked branches into the leaves and grass. I know the way an orchard apple tastes, seated on the crumbled stone remains of a farm someone once loved and lost.

And I know the faces belonging to all the laughter that rings from the Sierra Nevada in the West across to the northern end of the Mississippi, and I know the threads of family that tie us all together.

And sometimes it seems that everyone, everywhere, just keeps on spinning, dipping from summer into fall and through the winter and back up into spring, while Florida trudges steadily through the humid fog, and I with it. I lose track of whether it’s March or whether it’s September. I lose track of the hemisphere. In the constant green, the constant jungle, the constant rain, the passage of time seems as fluid as the tropical rains that turn sidewalks to streams.

But there is always somewhere I see time. I see it daily, in her rapidly growing face, I see her changing quickly, changing out of my reach and control, changing like the waves that never stay the same shape or height — unless I seize the scene, grasp it breathlessly with the grip of lens, and press it into a stolen moment, flat on the page.

This is what I do with my Aveline Alenka, my little ocean of joy. I toss my butterfly net across her laughter, I blink and remember her golden face for a moment, tucking it away into photographs.

And these photographs sail from the headwaters of the Everglades up to the Land of 10,000 Lakes, and across to the Golden State, and they sail into the hearts of waiting family, who see and feel and hear the passage of time through these colors infused with life.

We see the passage of time together, and we are connected. We are connected like the rain that falls across the Sacramento Valley, like the snow that tumbles down the Minnesota pines, like the steam that rises up off the Everglades. We are connected, for we are family, and no side effect of meteorology or geography can ever change that.

Disclosure of Material Relationship: I received a sample Fabkids.com box in exchange for my participation and promotion. All the photographs, opinions, and experiences shared here are in my own words and are my own honest evaluation. Please be assured, I only accept sponsorship opportunities for brands I personally use would recommend to close friends and family, and I will always disclose any such relationships.

Fabkids.com is a subscription service based on your style preferences, allowing you to receive a personalized 3-piece box of children’s clothing and accessories each month. Unlike other subscription box services, Fabkids.com lets you know what that month’s shipment will be ahead of time, so you’ll always love what shows up on your doorstep. Find out more about the styles, outfits and options available — for both boys and girls! — at Fabkids.com.

Life in Photos, Little Style

LIFE IN PHOTOS :: Clouds, Mud, and Florida in the Spring

Upside down puddle reflection via Oaxacaborn
Front stoop after a Florida rain via Oaxacaborn
Rain boots in puddle - reflection - via Oaxacaborn
Portrait toddler and palm tree puddle reflection - via Oaxacaborn
May 2013 - Poco Nido and Puddles
Toddler with muddy hair via Oaxacaborn
Poco Nido wellies reflection in puddle via Oaxacaborn

Today, we decided this was the best way to handle the clouds and the humidity and the mud and the rain.

Today, we decided this is how you embrace what you’re given.

Today, we made the Fed Ex man look at us sideways and made our retired snowbird neighbor burst out laughing.

These are the things which fill a muggy, dark afternoon spring to overflowing.

Boots: c/o Poco Nido | Tank & Leggings: Thrifted

Poetry & Words

Chapter One: Maybe I Will Write A Book

Chapter 1

When you ask some people where they are from, they’ll tell you where they were born. But that’s not how my story begins — even though if I were to tell you that story, you’d hear about a noisy little town in southern Mexico, and American parents, and how I would have been Micah if I would have been a boy.

But I always think of my stories as starting when I leave a place. So when I think back to the beginning, I think of standing on my seven-year-old tiptoes under the unrestful Yugoslavian dawn, reaching up to hug Babica goodbye.

That’s where it all started for me.

That’s where I learned to say goodbye.

Poetry & Words

WRITING & WORDS :: Go, Dog, Go!

Josiah and Aveline - Sunday morning breakfast and reading

When I was a little girl, my grandma recorded herself reading Go, Dog, Go!, and mailed me the cassette tape and the book. I listened to it
and over
and over again.
Despite the many, many miles between America and Europe, I believed she was right next to me, inside that tape player.

This morning, as Josiah was trying to eat breakfast, Aveline sat down next to him.
“Bo’? bo’?” she asked him eagerly, holding out her very own copy.

So right now, I’m listening to him read it
and over
and over again to her.

A different country. A different voice. The same story. The same memories.

Go around again!

Poetry & Words

WRITING & WORDS :: Do not put that potato chip in the outlet, and other toddler tales.

Aveline pokes the imperfections in the sidewalk as she walks. Every.single.one.

Well, walks are really more like runs. Runs-and-pokes. So, the more accurate way to say it is that she sprints, screeches to halt, and spins around at lightning speed to inspect the little pokable hole.

All this happens with a lot of squealing, and a steady stream of Aveline-words, many of which start with “z” and sound very French.

Aveline poking at a hole in the sidewalk - Toddler wearing handmade feather headdress with brown feathers and triangles

After a rain, it’s even more exciting. There are dozens of dime-sized (and smaller!) dimples in the sidewalk, each filled with warm rainwater, each just the right size for a one-year-old index finger.

Walks take a long, long time.

Aveline pointing to a crack in the sidewalk

I like this growing-up thing that she’s doing. I like it a lot. I can make her a sunbutter and jelly sandwich, cut it in half, and hand it to her. She can eat goldfish–well, goldsharks–while we run errands. And when I change her clothes, she stands up and holds on to my arms, points her tiny toes, and tries to stick her feet into the leg of her pants. They usually end up in the wrong leg, but still. She tries.

These are good, growing-up changes.

Even when she tries to put a potato chip in the outlet.

Even when she suspects we are about to leave the house, and frantically empties two whole dresser drawers in search of her shoes.

Even when she licks the sidewalk.

Even when she, concerned about the state of her diaper, yells “dirty, dirty, dirty” loudly in the grocery store.

(The other words in) her little vocabulary delight me. Dance. Songs! Socks. Seeee?? Puppy. Seeeeeee? Poppity. See?

And every time she says “seeee?” in her girlish voice, I get a little peek of what the the world looks like through her eyes.

She’s helping me experience childhood again. She’s helping me see that there is something to squeal about in ant-sized puddles, in the extra jelly on the side of her sandwich, in the way the wind lifts up and tosses back her hair.

Thank you Lord, for helping me to see your beautiful world like a child again.

Life in Photos, Travel/Moving

happy mother’s day

this year, with a little tiny daughter of my own, i truly say the words happy mother’s day with more conviction, awe and admiration than ever before. so, happy mother’s day, mom. you’re the best mum a girl could ever dream of.

1980s in Oaxaca, Mexico  mom & i, great grandma/pa, grandpa in oaxaca, mexico

1980s in Europe mom, dad, andy & me in europe. greece, maybe? i’m not quite sure.