Wednesday, August 10, 2011

We've been Approved!!

For those of you who have still not yet checked out my new blog at, check it out!  

On there I have told the story of our recent Visa Approval.  My husband was approved officially on July 26th and we just found out on Monday.  It's a great victory for our family!  We are still finalizing paperwork so it could still be a while until he returns to the States, but atleast we know he is returning for sure.  Again check out for all the exciting and heart-wrenching details.  Let's be honest here...immigration is no walk in the park!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

My Cultured Baby

My new blog is up and running and I'm having a blast with it.  I'm posting mainly on the other one now, so  if you are subscribed to this one, check out my other.  It's basically a continuation of this one.  The site is

We are still in the waiting process.  Sometimes it seems like time is flying by and others it's just dragging.  But we are hanging in there and still making the most of what we have.  Again, for all the latest, check out  

Thanks everybody!!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Soundtrack to My Life

This has been the soundtrack to my life's Beyonce's Broken Hearted Girl. It's a really beautiful song.

My New Blog!

I feel as though I have been cheating on this blog with my new one! I decided to create a blog called My Cultured Baby. There I am going to talk about all things baby-related, but more to do with cultural differences and things like raising a bilingual baby. The blog also has pages that talk about my 2 little businesses I have, Kelsey's Cultured Foods and Esperanza Imports. I've been working countless hours at the computer, which Liliana has not liked btw! But I am very excited for this new little venture into the real world of blogging. Don't you worry though, I am not giving up this blog at all. Even more so, it will make me blog on here more frequently. So check me out at and make sure to "follow" me there as well! There must be a reason for all of this discontent in my life and I really think blogging is going to help me discover what it is. I will let you know if I figure it out any time soon ;)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Christmas in El Salvador

I haven't posted in months it appears and it's way overdue. So much has happened, many things in my life have changed, but still remain the same. I want to start by talking about our first Christmas in El Salvador.
Christmas is celebrated in most Latin America on the 24th, which is Christmas Eve to us Americans. I insisted the kids be at our house so that we could share this special day with them. My MIL and I did the cooking. One of our aunts had given us a turkey the month before and it was planned to be our Christmas dinner. So Ana cooked that in the afternoon with veggies and a tomato sauce, very Salvadoran which I didn't care for too much. I made mashed potatoes and gravy which were phenomenal and my MIL loved! I also made a green pepper and tomato salad that was very tasty as well. While dinner was finishing cooking we decided to open presents. Liliana was very grateful for all the new underwear and socks she received. But seriously, she was really grateful! It was so cute, she kept saying Gracias over and over. The kids were excited too. I'm not sure if their presents are usually all wrapped up like I did. Usually they just get a big box shipped from the States they all go through.
After presents we had dinner all together which doesn't normally happen so that was nice.
The goal of the evening was to stay up until midnight when the fireworks and celebrations start happening. I don't normally drink coffee, but had several cups that evening so help me stay awake past 8! We drank wine and chatted with the neighbors. Aunt Dominga came with her family around nine and that was fun. Her husband really likes to drink with us so we had a lot of fun with him listening to music and laughing while the kids lit off fireworks in the street. Now all this would have been more fun if I could actually partake in the conversations. Eduardo loves to talk when he drinks and he translated some, butI still end up lost. It was a good night though. I stayed up until midnight saw the fireworks and went to bed with Liliana. She had passed out around 9pm outside in the hammock amongst all the noise!

The next day, our ACTUAL Christmas, not much happened. the family had slept over and so there were lots of people still hanging around. Eduardo had stayed up until 3am or so and we were recovering from the night before. It was actually a pretty relaxed day. I can't say I missed having christmas in the States, it was more of a feeling of wishing I could start some family traditions, but there's always more time for that. Liliana and I started our first one of making banana muffins together. I've decided every Christmas Eve she and I will make batches of muffins. We made 4 dozen this time and it was so fun to do together!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

La Antigua

After a couple failed attempts to enter Guatemala, we finally got through on Thursday morning. We followed the road to Guatemala City and ended up in Antigua several hours later. It's about a 4 1/2 hour trip from here. Eduardo and I had high hopes for the trip since we were taking Ana and Cristina with us to help with Liliana. We had several reasons for taking this trip. For fun of course, but the main reason was to attend the New World Crafts Feria. The fair ended up being a major disappointment, but I did make a couple of good contacts of artisans in El Salvador that I plan on getting a hold of soon for some Christmas ornaments I will take back to Indy in November.

A major disappointment to the trip was when we got to the border and they would not let Cristina in Guatemala without a passport because she is underage. Ana had planned on just putting her on a bus if it didn't work out, but because we switched crossings to Ahuachapan, they do not have a bus service up there so Ana decided it would be best to help her get back home. This was highly disappointing and Liliana screamed and cried the minute they got out of the car. She also continued to scream and cry the ENTIRE trip, which is very out of character for her. Nothing we seemed to do seemed to please her and if it did, it was momentary. That is how the whole 2 days went.

Now on with the good parts! Antigua is absolutely beautiful. It ranks high on my list of favorite cities of all time. We are already planning our trip back, but with nannies next time! We will be going to get Cristina a passport. Other than the beauty, it was so fun. There are cobblestone streets throughout the whole city and it's perfect for walking everywhere. We never even felt the desire to drive. There are little shops and cafes lining all the streets and it's so quaint. The city is catered to foreigners so we saw them everywhere. It was actually a little shocking. And it was so safe! That was the best part. We were able to walk around at night with no problem and felt completely safe the whole time, even in the central park. There are a bunch of old ancient churches that are stunning. We didn't get to visit the museums, but plan on that for the next trip. We got a hotel for $40, but once again I think I will look for something else better next time. There are a bunch of options.

I also was able to do more shopping for my goods to take to the States at the Mercado de Artisanias. We found some GREAT deals and some very cool things. I have a whole collection of childrens' things now other than clothes. I even found baby slings! We met a nice guy that owns his own store that sells the beautiful beaded bracelets I had gotten last time, but in Juayua. He and his family make everything themselves and he is willing to ship to me here in El Salvador. That was a great connection. I wish I could go back again to pick up necklaces and matching rings as well.

So I highly recommend Antigua for a wonderful trip. You can also take little side trips to Tikal and Lake Atitlan and other places from Antigua and you can take English speaking tours. I think my mom is now planning her next vacation!!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Liliana's Dental Surgery

As soon as we returned to El Salvador, my first priority was to get Liliana's teeth worked on. We arrived on Monday and met with the dentist on Wednesday. Lucky for us she is only 3 blocks from our house! She sat us down in the chair and examined her teeth. She said straight off that she thought she could save all 4! That we wouldn't have to have them all pulled like the other dentist wanted. Also, she said that she does not recommend doing root canals on children so yound because they usually don't stick and are very painful. I was so happy to hear this because both my mom and I had very bad feelings about the whole root canal thing. The dentist said what she would do is go in and remove all the decay and "rebuild" the teeth. This sounded like a much better plan! And, she said we could put Liliana to sleep! Yay. Not that I wanted my child put to sleep, but it seemed like the best option for the extent of the work that needed to be done. The icing on the cake was that her fees were only $130 and the fees for the specialists to come from San Salvador to put her to sleep were $200. Only $330 total!! Crazy. I was jumping for joy. Now I'm sure you must be thinking there is some kind of catch, but there's not. She has all the latest up to date equipment and everything. And she is the nicest person ever! I totally loved her. So we obviously made the appointment and it would be for Saturday at 9am.

We were ready on Saturday, though I was feeling very sad about what Liliana was about to go through. Dentists aren't fun for anyone, especially a 21-month old. We arrived at 9am, but unfortunately the specialists from San Salvador were running on El Salvador time and were going to be late. We went back home with instructions not to feed Liliana anything until the appointment. This proved more difficult than I thought because I was starving, but didn't want to eat in front of her. She also was very tired, but I was told not even to nurse her so she wouldn't go to sleep. They didn't want her to throw up from the anesthesia. We finally went back at 11am.

I sat down on the chair with Liliana on my lap. She cried the minute we walked in the room. She wasn't so thrilled the first time we were there and must have remembered. They gave me the gas mask to put over her face. That was very difficult to do when she was scared and crying. Poor thing. I held it over her face and asked how long it would take to kick in. They replied "2 minutes". Soon after she fell limp in my arms. It was actually very sad to see her in that state. The assistants helped me lay her down on the chair. They then put an IV in her arm. They traded off pumping the bag with air to keep her lungs breathing normally. It was crazy to think her life layed in their hands. We could also monitor her heartbeat and I was reassured by that. Eduardo then told me I should leave the room because I wouldn't want to see what happened next. They needed to put a tube down her throat to keep anything from going down. I didn't know at the time, but they also taped her eyes shut to keep them from opening and drying out and her nose to keep her from inhaling any toxic stuff. I left the room and sat in the little waiting room crying.

About 10 minutes later Eduardo asked if I wanted to come back in the room. He had stayed in the whole time. We were given the option, which was great. The dentist had taken a look at everything and said she could save 3 of the front teeth, but would have to pull 1. I was as okay as I could be with the idea, especially since I was glad it wasn't more than 1 tooth. She said she would rebuild the other front teeth as well as 4 or 5 more that had been decaying. She said it was a good thing we took her in because another month and it would have been a bad situation.

I caught a glimpse of Liliana at one point and couldn't handle to look again. The sight of her taped up was way too disturbing. I was so glad Eduardo was there with us. There's no way I could have gone through all that alone. At one point, I saw Liliana's body start to shake violently. Apparently it is very common for them to start to wake up. That's why they insert the IV in the beginning so they can add to it to put her back to sleep. Again, I started crying when this happened. Everyone was so sweet. They told me it was good to cry, that it helps to release the stress. What doctor in the States would tell you that?!

After all was done, it was time to wake Liliana back up. She was bleeding from where the tooth had been pulled, but would stop soon. She was very groggy upon waking and she tried to cry, but couldn't because her throat was too dry. It was so sad. She finally woke enough to be scared and one of the assistants told me to come close to her and put my face next to hers so she can smell me. She immediately calmed down and started to fall back asleep. I then sat there for a while with her until she fully woke up and was very upset at this point. she had gauze in her mouth trying to catch the blood that couldn't have tasted very good. We went out into the waiting room and then we paid and left. She calmed down and fell asleep in the car. We got home and she was very groggy. I nursed her and put her in the hammock and she slept for 2 1/2 hours. The doctor called while she was sleeping to see how she was and then called again later in the evening. I thought that was super sweet of her. She woke up later and was still bleeding a bit, but mostly was just mixed with saliva. Her other teeth looked bright white though. The dentist had done such a great job. Liliana was then showing off her "new teeth" and I was so glad she didn't seem too traumatized.

She has been a little fussy since then, but mostly back to normal. I think it's just all the medication being flushed out of her. This is a baby that has never had even one medication or immunization in her life, so who knows what side effects the anesthesia had on her. She is well on her way to recovery though and did so great!! I am very grateful to everyone that helped and to Eduardo for being there :)

Friday, September 3, 2010

Liliana´s Teeth

Liliana has had little brown spots on her teeth since they started coming in at 5 months. Over time I have asked a couple of dentists about it. The first one told me that it´s common and something that actually happens when the teeth are forming in utero. The 2nd told me not to worry about it. Boy was that the wrong advice! When we were back in Indy, I expressed my concerns with my mom because I have noticed the spots have been growing and it seems like chunks of her eye teeth are even coming off. I wasn´t sure what to do. Brushing has always been something that has not come easily for us and I have to admit I have neglected it somewhat.

Well my mom spoke with a dentist friend of hers that was extremely concerned that we get her in to see a pediatric dentist ASAP. He said it is a common problem and knew exactly what it was and told us to google ¨Bottle Caries¨ online and we would find pictures and everything. I googled and was horrified at what I saw. I was very concerned and went ahead and scheduled an appointment with a pediatric dentist in Carmel. We were able to get in right away, but I was nervous about it because Liliana´s not too fond of strangers in general, so to have someone´s hand in her mouth wasn´t going to be fun.

We arrived at the office and it had a wonderful Alice in Wonderland theme. Liliana loved playing until we went in. The dentist had a look and cleaned her teeth. She screamed and cried hysterically the whole time. We then went back for x'rays, which was equally unenjoyable. I was able to hold her the whole time though. The x'rays showed a lot of decay. It was really bad. She said the two eye teeth could not be saved because they are crumbling and there is too much decay. The two front teeth are questionable. She said she would just have to go in and see if there is enough to save and if there is, she will do a baby root canal and hope that is sticks. But there would be a chance it could blow up if it didn´t! If they were too bad to save, she will just have to remove them as well! I started crying at this point. I felt so bad for Liliana and what she must be going through and how it will be without teeth until she is older. The dentist said that she already has a predisposition for this problem and because Liliana nurses to sleep, the milk stays in her mouth and the sugars slowly decay the teeth. This can happen to bottle fed babies as well. I asked how the procedure would be. She told me that they cannot put her to sleep because that would require a hospital visit. I was horrified at the idea of her being awake for the whole thing. They said they give her some kind of amnesia so she won´t remember, which I think is a crock, and some laughing gas. Then she said for more ¨high stress¨ babies like Liliana, which equally pissed me off that she would say, they basically put them in a straight jacket to keep them still! What am I supposed to say at this sounded horrible, but I coudn´t keep her in pain. I made the appointment for the following week. The price would be about $2000 for the whole thing.

After some fights between my mom and I about what I should do, I went back and forth. Eduardo and I finally had a chance to have a long conversation about the whole thing and decided we would get the work done in El Salvador. He really wanted to be there for her through the whole ordeal. He then spoke with a dentist here in Izalco that he really liked and I felt really good about the decision. I also knew that it would be a fraction of the cost of the States, which appealed greatly to us. It was hard over the next month to know Liliana was in pain and was hoping we made the right decision. Mother´s intuition is always best!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

My Time in the States

I was in Indianapolis from July 25th to August 30th. Liliana and I had a much needed break from El Salvador for nearly 5 weeks. Unfortunately our time in the States wasn't quite how I had envisioned it to be. But there were also things that were nice surprises, which seemed to equal it all out.

My first order of business when we arrived was to sell all of my Central American Imports that I had been collecting over the months in ES. I had a couple of Open Houses and ended up doing a Farmer's Market as well. It started out somewhat slow and I was feeling down about it, but then things picked up and I come out on top with it all. I am now excited about my new venture and am looking forward to the treasures I find during this stint in El Salvador.

The second order of business was to make Cultured Veggies. This would help fund our plane tickets home. I busted my butt for 4 days while my mom and stepdad were in Chicago. It was a struggle while trying to entertain Liliana at the same time, but we did it and made 7 batches of veggies in those days. I was very proud of myself for that accomplishment. I then ended up doing 2 more batches later in the trip. My mom agreed pay me in full for all the veggies which was a HUGE blessing that I was not expecting! Thanks Mom!!

The third project I ended up taking on was to clear out our 10x10 storage unit we have been paying for to keep all our things while in ES. Well it became very clear that we couldn't keep paying the $75/month for the unit and we had to find another way to store our things. The whole experience was extremely emotional for me. My stepdad hauled van loads of boxes back and forth to the house and their living room became my storage shed for a week and a half. I went through box by box sorting and rearranging all our precious items. I was able to par down a lot and get rid of a lot of clothes and household items. It quickly became apparent I wouldn't be able to keep much though and that was very saddening. Even harder was having to tell Eduardo we couldn't keep all the things he had worked so hard for to buy for our little family. He didn't take it well. Over time though different friends stepped up to help me out! Thank you to Mandie, Sara, Mario, Grandma Judy, Dad and Mom for offering to store different items for us!! It is greatly appreciated more than you know. I also ended up having a Garage Sale too in the end. I was able to make some money and that helped too. My dear Grandma Judy came down from Michigan to help me prepare for that and that was such a sweet surprise. We had a great time talking and she enjoyed her time with Liliana.

My brother moved back from Oregon while we were home. He came to visit us the week before we left and stayed for a couple days. It was really neat to see how quickly Liliana warmed up to him and was playing and letting him carry her around with ease after just a couple hours! I know he loved it. I'm glad we had that time.

Last but not least, Liliana and I went with my mom to Chicago for a day trip. It was a super long day, but were able to visit with a doctor that put us on a regimen to help our allergies and help with several other issues she and I are having. While in Chicago, I got to meet with a fellow I2US member named Amy. She has a son the same age as Liliana and it was really nice to chat over dinner and meet someone else in a similar situation as we are. Nice to meet you Amy!!

Being away from Eduardo was particularly hard for Liliana. After the first week she seemed to realize we were not leaving and asked for "papa" constantly. Every time the phone would ring, she would try to answer saying "papa". It was hard at times, but very sweet. There were days (many days) when she had trouble sleeping. The only way she would go to sleep is if we had Eduardo on speaker phone and he and I would just chat and she would fall asleep next to me. The nights he wouldn't answer were frustrating though! It was a good break for all of us though and I think absence does make the heart grow fonder :)

Our trip had its highs and lows, but all in all it was a good experience. I didn't think I would make it through at times, but as always I pushed my way through. I think Liliana was put in my life to get me through the times that would otherwise seem hopeless and impossible. She gets me up in the morning and pushes me through the day and I am thankful for that.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Reverse Culture Shock

My mom came down to ES on July 8th and was there until the 25th. We went to a beach house for a week and various other places. All in all it was a good time, but not without it's challenges, which seems to be our life since moving to ES.

On the 25th Liliana and I flew back to Indianapolis with my mom. It was a surprisingly good trip. Liliana didn't even fuss at all. She slept most of the time and played and ate when she wasn't. She sat on my lap and we were lucky to have mom next to us.

The first week here was incredibly difficult. It was like reverse culture shock, which I wasn't expecting to experience so intensely. All of a sudden all the things that bugged me about living in El Salvador, I had a new appreciation for. While there I couldn't stand living with so many people all the time, but then coming back and spending most of the first 2 weeks alone, I realized how valuable having family around is. There are always people there wanting to help with anything from taking care of Liliana to cleaning dishes to running to the mercado (market) for you. I took so much of that for granted while being there. I am deeply grateful for this experience so I can have a different perspective during my next trip back.

I also have been struggling with merging the two cultures. I so wish that I could take the best of both worlds and make one perfect world! It's been so difficult to like and dislike both countries at the same time. Sometimes I am not sure where I belong.

One thing that has become very clear is that Liliana and I do belong with Eduardo no matter what. It's been good for our relationship to be apart, but it's also been hard. We both have our ups and downs and it's not always easy to be available for each other via Skype or telephone. But we make do. Liliana asks for "papa" every morning and night and it breaks my heart. She misses him more as the days go on. I will be able to buy or tickets tomorrow for our trip back in two weeks. Although there are things I am not looking forward to about our life in El Salvador, I am looking forward to being a family again. Home really is where the heart is and my heart is in El Salvador right now!