All that and a bag of chips…

Did you know that elementary school students can give the lunch lady their ID number, and they can buy anything they want on credit?

We didn’t.

Last week, we got a notice/bill sent home with our oldest son saying we owed the school $6.40. A little comment was handwritten at the bottom by his teacher… “Ask him what he’s been doing in the morning.” Our children have discovered several great (North) American delicacies… Klondike bars, ice in their beverages, and perros calientes (or as we know them here, “hot dogs”). However one, due to accessibility, taste, and in-expense, has become a favorite of our oldest – chips. he can’t help himself. He’s gotta’ try them all. Cheetos, Doritos, Ruffles, Lays, Wavy Lays (which are Ruffles at a lower frequency), Funyuns, etc… It doesn’t matter. He is a connoisseur.

Obviously the unbridled gluttony is so great that arriving 15 minutes early to school, coupled with this new found quid pro quo arrangement of an ID number for food, “afforded” him the opportunity to augment his lovingly prepared breakfast from his mother with a bag of chips.

To a family that last used a credit card four years ago, this was a hard pill to swallow.

First we had to stop the bleeding. Beth called the school, and informed them that he, nor the other two school-age kids we are responsible for, were allowed to buy anything on credit. We told them that we would pay the debt, but we would need a few days because we wanted this to be a teachable moment. This was super important to me because I feel one of the greatest lessons we are failing to impart to our kids as a culture is how to deal with money. There’s a reason credit card companies are circling college campuses looking for young clueless students to “brand”. Their words, not mine. While I thought the time for these lessons would come a few years later, my oldest forced my hand.

Second is where I came in… treating the symptom. Here is another installment of “Life-Lessons from Papi”. Guest Star: Oldest son.

(translated to English)

Papi – “I got a note from the school saying you owe $6.40. Why is that?”

Son – “It’s because I wanted chips” (or, as he says it “Es que yo quería cheeeeps.”)

Papi – “Sounds good. How did you plan on paying for that?”

Son – “I don’t know.”

Papi – “Well, that’s not going to work with the school. You can’t just tell them, I don’t know how to pay you, and they say OK. Any other ideas?”

(Long contemplative pause… the beginnings of a tear in his left eye)

Son – “Last week they needed pencils.” (Back story – all students were requested to bring a few extra pencils, soap, and tissue paper to class to restock)

Papi – “OK. So if you bring them some more pencils, they will say OK, your debt is forgiven?”

Son – “Ummm…. (attempting to read my face and determine the answer I want to hear) No.”

Papi – “Well, maybe we need to try something like money to pay your debt. Do you have any?”

(Long pause… more tears)

Son – “Granddad gave me a penny last week.”

Papi – “That’s great. You only owe $6.39 now. How do you plan on getting that?”

(The crying is getting a little uncontrollable because he doesn’t know what to say and he is sad that he will have to give up the penny that Granddad gave him.)

Then he had to say the thing he didn’t want to say, but the thing I was forcing him to… “Sorry, Papi.”

Papi – “Well, I go to a job six days a week to earn money to pay for the things we have. It sounds like you need a job. Would you like to begin your exciting career at Mami and Papi Inc.? It pays $1 a day with night and weekend positions to fit your schedule!”

Son – (With exclamation and relief) Si! Thank you, Papi! (I’m not kidding. He thanked me.)

So, all of last week was filled with “special” jobs around the house that I’ve needed to do. Turd patrol was one night. He filled two Walmart sacks with dog crap. Cleaning up the bricks and wood around the side of the house was another night. He vacuumed the house. He vacuumed the van. He pulled all the weeds out of the flowerbed. I also had him sit naked in the bathtub and hold dogs while I gave them a bath. Then he had to clean the bathroom afterwards. At the end of every night, we told him, “you only have $X to go!”

Last Friday, he was finished paying off his debt! We circled back up with him, and again reminded him that if we don’t have money for something, we don’t buy it.

Papi – Do you know why Papi doesn’t have a really cool fast car right now (I was attempting to set him up for success, to say, “Papi doesn’t have enough money for a fancy car right now.)

Son – Because you married Mami, and you had to sell it.


That wasn’t the answer we were looking for, but I now recall sharing that story with him… (I love you beautiful blue 2004 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder GTS!) Don’t worry. I love Beth more!

Sometimes people tell us we are being pretty hard on our kids. We have a lot of fun and laughter as a family, but it is true. We hold them to a very high standard, and there are very real consequences for their actions. My thought is, if I’m not hard on them, the world will be later. We could have gone with the excuse that he didn’t know better, and he gets a pass this time. However, like the previously mentioned college students that rack up thousands of dollars in debt before they graduate, “I didn’t know” won’t fly with Visa and MasterCard. Besides, $6.40 is a pretty cheap lesson in fiscal responsibility. In my life, I’ve made mistakes with money that had three or four zeros at the end (Did somebody say 2004 Eclipse again?!?).

As much as it pains me to see my oldest broken over a nearly negligible amount of money at the age of 7, I will take that in a heartbeat over him dealing with the embarrassment and shame of bankruptcy at the age of 30.

At the dinnermesa,



My First Mother’s Day…

Did you know that the day before Mother’s day is national birth-mother’s day?

It’s a day to sit and think about the woman who made my family possible.  It’s a day to think about the woman who my children will always be connected to, who they will look like, who raised them the first few years of their lives.  Although our story isn’t one about sacrifice or a mommy choosing us specifically to mother her children, this is still a woman that I think about and appreciate.  I know her story, where she was, how life treated her, and that she chose life.  She chose life five times & for that she is my hero.  Abortion is everywhere, she could have chosen to end any of our (her’s & mine) kid’s lives.  Lately in society it is sold as the “best/right choice” for inconvenient pregnancies.  The best choice will always be life.  Please don’t make your child pay for your situation, look past the 9 months & see the other option.  Become a family’s hero, adoption is an incredible blessing; it has forever changed our family.

Mother’s day was wonderful, Tyler let me sleep in & he got the kids ready for church, I was greeted with homemade cards & a new pair of sunglasses (thank goodness, mine had broken 2wks before) & 5 smiling kids.  I got to stand up at church when the pastor recognized all of the moms.  My two oldest children accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior, & will be baptized in a few weeks.  We celebrated with our entire family at picnics.  And then we went home & I laid out clothes for Monday, prepared lunches for the next day, picked up around the house, finished the laundry, and straightened the kitchen.  I didn’t mind, because being a mom is a full-time job.  I am blessed to be busy, to have people to care about & pour into.

That night I prayed for their birth-mom, because I know what it is like waking up on Mother’s day without your kids home.  I prayed for blessings on her & to find peace in the midst of loss.  I prayed for my mommy friends that God gives us patience, kindness & strength to do our very best for our children.  I prayed for moms who are waiting for their babies to come home, moms who have lost their babies, moms who are far from their babies.  I prayed for the babies who are without their moms and that they find a Heavenly Father who can fill that mom-sized hole.  Lastly I prayed for more women to choose life, to embrace the role of mommy, & have the courage to think of a life other than your own, & choose a good life for your child.

1 Corinthians 3:16-17  

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?

If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him.

For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

At the dinnermesa,


Adoption, Re-adoption, Adoption…


As Beth previously stated, we’ve been a little busy/lazy, but things keep happening, so we have to catch up! What that means for you is two blog posts tonight.


As you know, our official adoption was on September 10, 2012. We adopted five kids and they adopted us. It was the culmination of 5 years of prayer and an amazing day for all of us. Once we got home a week later we got out of the “get our kids home at all costs” mode and got into the “paying off all costs” mode. Unfortunately, we discovered we had one additional expense… a re-adoption.


What the heck is a re-adoption?  If you try to Google it, you get a bunch of football play diagrams for the “read option”. Sometimes Google gets confused. A re-adoption simply allows the U.S. to mimic the adoption decree that the foreign country issued. We will have an accompanying adoption decree for the U.S. (similar to the Sentencia that we received from Colombia) that will ensure that the kids will be entitled to all of the rights that they should have as our children according to federal and state laws. The other nice thing is it gets a birth certificate for our kids on record so they don’t have to fly down to Colombia every time they need one. Anyway, it’s a good idea, but like most things in life it means more money to spend. We saved up and were planning to have this done in December, but that’s when the washing machine and dryer died (As a side note, a washer/dryer set and re-adoptions for five kids are about the same price). Fast-forward through five fastidious months of saving, and we are ready to try again.

More forms, more money, but heck, we’ve been through an adoption. We know the drill. May 31 will be our court date, so we’ll let you know how it goes.


In the mean time, we’ve been praying, reading the Bible, and going to church as a family, and some stuff is starting to stick with the older kids. Since there are five weekdays and we have five kids, each one gets a different night to lead prayer for the family. When they do, they usually ask Jesus into their heart. Each one has asked Him to come into their heart about five to ten times. Judging from conversations, we felt like the older two were starting to connect the dots. Because we don’t like working without a safety net, we called our good friend, Isaac, who is fluent and Spanish in case we had problems explaining, and we walked them through what “having Jesus in their hearts” really means.

A few years ago, I did a presentation of the gospel using those little transparency slides (for an overhead projector… you 80’s children who went to public school remember the days!). Fortunately, I still had them and used them . Giving credit where credit was due, I ripped this off a man named Joe, who shared this with me during children’s church when I was about 10. To a young, impressionable Tyler, it stuck with me, and I haven’t forgotten it in about 23 years. He has about 12 kids and is currently serving as a missionary in Bolivia (I never thought I would have so many connections to South America).

This is your heart.

This is your heart.

Inside your heart, there is a throne. Whoever sits on the throne controls your thoughts, feelings, and actions.

Inside your heart, there is a throne. Whoever sits on the throne controls your thoughts, feelings, and actions.

When you a born, the person sitting on the throne is "Bad Me". He controls your thoughts, feelings, and actions.

When you are born, the person sitting on the throne is “Bad Me”. He controls your thoughts, feelings, and actions.

Because "Bad Me" isn't perfect, sometimes there is bad stuff in our thoughts, feelings, and actions.

Because “Bad Me” isn’t perfect, sometimes there is bad stuff in our thoughts, feelings, and actions.

What do we do about all this bad stuff?

What do we do about all this bad stuff?

Jesus is perfect, and His death on the cross covers the bad stuff in our lives when we accept Him as Savior.

Jesus is perfect, and His death on the cross covers the bad stuff in our lives when we accept Him as Savior.

That gets rid of the bad stuff, but the main problem is we still have "Bad Me" sitting on the throne in our heart.

That gets rid of the bad stuff, but the main problem is that we still have “Bad Me” sitting on the throne in our heart.

That's why we ask Jesus to come into our heart and to help us with our thoughts, feelings, and actions.

That’s why we ask Jesus to come into our heart and help us with our thoughts, feelings, and actions.

When Jesus is on the throne of your heart, that makes him Lord. Pastor Johnny says it is impossible to ask him to be your Savior of your life without asking him to be Lord of your life too.

When Jesus is on the throne of your heart, that makes him Lord. Pastor Johnny says it is impossible to ask him to be your Savior of your life without asking him to be Lord of your life too.

Of course, sometimes as Christians, we still have problems with “Bad Me” wanting to take back control, but we try hard every day to keep Jesus there, where He needs to be.

That’s it. So simple a child can understand, and, at the same time, so overwhelmingly amazing that Biblical scholars and grown men can’t.

After walking them through it, I asked them if they understood. “Si, Papi”. I told them if they needed some time to think about it, that would be OK, but if they were ready, we could for-real ask Jesus into our hearts. Both said yes!


While it just cost me some time and money to bring these kids into my family, it cost God His only Son to bring them into His. Amazing love.

So Beth got the best Mother’s Day present (not her new Fossil Sunglasses that me and the kiddies picked out at my company store). We got to take our oldest son and daughter up on Sunday to tell the pastor that Jesus lives inside of them!

(I’m trying not to steal Beth’s thunder too much… she keeps promising a Mother’s Day blog).

Before I make everybody cry (myself included), I’ll tell you a joke my brother told me a few weeks ago. On Easter Sunday, during the children’s time, a pastor tells the kids that it is Resurrection Sunday, and asks if any of them knows what the resurrection is. One kid raises his hand and says, “I don’t know, but if you have one that lasts more than four hours, you need to see your doctor.”

At the dinnermesa,


A little homework advice…

So this will be a short & sweet blog post, I owe you an emotional Mother’s Day post (& it was an AMAZING day) but there’s no time for that right now, this week is crazy busy!

So homework time is still hard.  Lately the biggest problem is worksheets.  My oldest son struggles with reading comprehension, & I don’t know if it is actually understanding what the instructions are saying or if it is “I am in such a hurry to get it done I don’t bother reading it.”  Needless to say it can take us anywhere from 1-2hrs to get through a eight-question 1st grade level worksheet.

So I definitely did not solve the problem but we worked on following written instructions in a fun way.  After another 1hr worksheet, with both of us getting frustrated, I had him go do his 15min book reading in my bedroom while I wrote 10 instructions for him to follow on our family white board.  After reading he came out, & I showed him the list, he immediately said “more homework (in a whiny voice)”.  I explained to him that every year in school he was going to receive more written instructions & that Mami will not be with him in class to explain everything to him & that he has to learn to read & understand what he is reading (without pictures).

Dejectedly he read the first instruction…”go ask mom for a hug.”

He read it 5 times & finally looked at me & read it to me.  Frustrated I told him, “yes you read it but did you do it???”  (I know great patience right, just trying to be honest with you).  He read it aloud 10 more times & read it to me 10 more times…then it happened he came over & asked me for a hug!  I gave him a hug, told him good job & to move onto #2.

It took him about an hour to finish all of the tasks but he did it.  And not once did I have to explain what the instructions were, I did have to give him words of encouragement, & if he asked me “Mom is it saying to do (fill in the bank)?” I would answer “yes”.  But he figured it out.  We still have a long way to go, but I think that we were both encouraged that he can do it, it will take more time, it won’t  happen on the first try, but he can do it!


The list of instructions…

The list in English:

  1. Go Ask Mom for a hug
  2. Use your gun (Nerf) and go shoot the door
  3. Find 5 stuffed animals & line them up smallest to largest
  4. Put away the stuffed animals
  5. On a piece of paper write your brother’s names
  6. Draw a line under your brother’s names
  7. Under the line write your sister’s names
  8. Make your paper into an airplane
  9. Fly your plane 5 times onto the sofa
  10. Give the plane to Mom & sing her Happy Birthday

Again nothing profound, I have no teaching experience, I am just a mom trying to help her kids be successful.

Work & Airplanes

Completing his instructions with his paper airplane. (Middle son is vacuuming because he didn’t have a great day in school: when we don’t follow instructions from our teacher we come home & practice following instructions from Mami.)

And just so you know it’s still fun & games over here too, every day after school the kids race to the door & cram themselves in between the door & screen door & freeze…they are being iguanas (really it’s hilarious).  We have also been listening to Christmas music for the past 2wks, because it’s their favorite (just like their Mami).

IguanasAt the dinnermesa,