Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas from the Solis Family!

Here's our Christmas can click on the image to see it in larger format.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Michael's Vocabulary

We still haven't quite figured out which word was really and truly Michael's first (he started saying da-da several months ago yet it seemed to be his general word for everything so I don't think a word counts until there's evidence he knows exactly what it means!), but here are the few words he's using so far...

Da-da (usually said excitedly)
Ma (more acurately--Maaaaaaaaaaa!-- whiny "I-want-this-now" voice...sheesh!)
Tee (Trinity, the name of one of his cousins)
Pa (Grandma, Grandpa)
ba (bottle, bath, ball, balloon)
go (usually said in threes--"go, go, go!"--complete with pumping hand motions)
muh (more/mas (?), music, mouth)
agua (water, milk, juice, dog pee)
wow-wow (dog or anything furry/moving that could remotely resemble a dog)
uh-oh (something he's saying more and more these days) :)
ee (ear)
duh (diaper)
boom (the sound effect that accompanies his jab, taught by Daddy & Uncle Jason)
boo (book)
ot (hot)

I didn't realize there were so many recognizable words he IS using! He still doesn't say "no" but has mastered a vigorous head-shake and swipe of the hand that communicates the sentiment perfectly. I'm still waiting for an obedient "yes" or head-nod--none yet. Some other fun things...he knows that when you say "bye" he is to wave and blow a kiss. If I tell him we're going to brush his teeth, change his diaper, etc, he knows exactly which room to go to (though the cooperation usually ends there). :) I can tell him to pick a book, get his bottle, give me a hug (that one's hit and miss), fold his arms for prayer (also hit and miss), and a few other commands he responds to pretty consistently. And, well, if his needs aren't understood with his few words and hand motions, Michael is quickly mastering the art of the temper tantrum--aaah...toddlerhood.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Home Sick

I'm home sick with the most horrendous (cough cough) sounding cough ever (truly straight from hell) that doesn't seem to be going away any time soon. All my stomach muscles ache terribly, I'm sick of throwing up (not because I'm actually sick to my stomach but from so much coughing!), I am sick of literally peeing my pants from such intense coughing (yes it's TMI but must be included to illustrate how ridiculous this is!) and I treasure the occasional 2 - 3 minutes of "down time" when my body is NOT taken over by a fit of coughing. Is this a "nobody-likes-me-everybody (cough cough) hates-me-I-think-I'll-go-eat-worms" (cough cough) moment or what?

My baby boy is now 1 (gotta get pics up, though first I better send the thank yous!) and has been walking for about 6 weeks now. He seems like he's on the brink of saying real word or two--right now it's lots of babbling and lots of different sounds but no real evidence that when he says da-da or ma-ma that he REALLY knows what he's saying yet. Pretty soon, hopefully!

School's been in session for over 2 weeks now--I have a lot to catch up on in my other blog concerning the launch of two-way immersion. What an undertaking! (cough cough)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

New Blog: Bilingual Ed

For anyone interested in issues of bilingual education, I've started a new blog about my school's upcoming launch of two-way immersion:

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

5K Here I Come

I decided yesterday that it was time to "ponerme las pilas" (literally: put the batteries in me; in other words: get fired up, get energized, recommit, etc) and really get active again. So...I created a VERY transitional 10 week plan that should take me from my current all-but-completely-sedentary state to running a 5K--something I did periodically in college but something I haven't done in at least 2 years. For the most part I've really done a better job with my eating since spring break, but you can only go so far with food while still sitting on the couch. Less computer, more exercise!

I was showing my plan to Sergio and told him I wanted to sign up for an August 29th run here in Mission, and he said he wanted to do it too, which only makes me that much more excited! We've got a lot to do before August 29th!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Vacation Exhilaration & July 4th Musings

I went to bed last night with the exciting feeling that I still have an entire week of vacation ahead of me. It's been a wonderfully relaxing holiday so far. I've pampered myself here and there with a manicure, pedicure, and highlights/haircut. I've got several massage gift certificates yet to redeem--will do that Wednesday or Thursday. Serg and I took Michael for his first beach outing--priceless!

We'll be taking him again as we spend the July 4th weekend back at South Padre Island; Sergio's mom was able to rent a beachfront condo from a friend for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Total relaxation!!

It will take me back to our 4th of July celebrations with Grandma and Grandpa Dolman at the beach house on Rincon--celebrations and traditions that turned July 4th into my all-time favorite holiday (yup, it even beat Christmas!) and left me with unforgettable family memories and a deep and sincere love for my country. It's exhilirating to feel such passion for my country and to manifest it through (among many ways) the traditional red-white-and-blue, John-Phillips-Sousa, hat-off-for-The-Star-Spangled-Banner outward shows of patriotism. It 's something that's often equated with what many of my peers consider "unenlightened," didactic, and religious-right conservatism, and their tendency to steer clear of traditional manifestations of American patriotism has given me the chance to think carefully through these traditions and decide what I do or don't want to pass on to my own children. I've concluded that what I feel is a very real patriotism that I've never found incompatible with my political positions regardless of how far right or left I lean on any issue. Nor have I ever struggled to reconcile it with my Australian-American dual citizenship. Getting chills as I listen to the national anthem, insisting that we begin every day at school with the pledge of allegiance, sporting red, white and blue clothing every July 4th, attending patriotic breakfasts and parades, raising the flag in the morning and folding it carefully after retiring it before sundown...all surface-level manifestations of a much deeper love for a country I firmly believe was founded on inspired principles by very imperfect but visionary men. Is it a perfect union? Not even close. Is it a more perfect union than it was 50, 100, 250 years ago? I like to think so. Is there much in terms of policy and politics that I disagree with? Absolutely. However, that's what I feel like I'm celebrating with my outward patriotic displays--the fact that I live in a country where so much happens that I do disagree with, yet I remain consistently inspired by the fact that I and my opponents on issues can argue, debate, demonstrate, and disagree to our heart's content. I hope those who consider such outward shows of patriotism to be ignorant or out-of-style will realize that they don't represent a platform or right/left position but are displays of loyalty and hope for a country that, in spite of its rough and rocky history, has produced visionary men and women each generation who had the courage and freedom to effect deep societal and political change, pushing our nation--ever so slowly but surely--toward fulfilling the ideals that were once simply words on paper.

I'm not your typical straight-ticket democrat or republican...I think less and less of my generation are. I get annoyed with people who try to define me or put me in an ideological box, because it's an outdated framework. Let me lean a little to the left while I simultaneously raise my American flag with pride, sing God Bless America with gusto, and work hard to be a devout and sincere Mormon. I will praise the current administration's stand on education and criticize what I consider complete inaction in the international arena. Some things are black and white in my world, others are not. No matter what, don't underestimate the importance of what happened 233 years ago this Saturday and don't be fooled by those who would have you believe that being proud to be American is backward, ignorant, or out of date.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Recent Pics

I realized I've been posting all sorts of random thought and events, but without pics of my bub!  Milestones reached during the past month (or so)...
* Crawls at breakneck speed
* Pulls himself up to a standing position
* Takes steps to move around furniture (as look as he's holding on with at least one hand)
* Climbs over anything and everything he possibly can (thank goodness no attempts to climb out of the crib have been made yet)
* Claps his hands
* Tries to wave when we wave to him...concentrates ever so hard, wiggles his hand ever so slightly and then finally claps instead of wave
* Weighs in at a little over 22 pounds

Home Sweet Home

We're in!  We've been packing and transporting boxes to our new house for a good week now and can now officially say that we're out of the apartment and into the house!  Once again, Chapa's Moving Service made the process of moving all the "big stuff" relatively smooth and painless (and all at only $40/hr!!) though I should probably add that I was at work all day Thursday as Serg guided the movers--he may not say "smooth and painless" quite as enthusiastically as I did.  Regardless, we're in and are now in the middle of phase 2: unpacking.  Every day consists of at least 10 "have-you-seen?"s or "where-the-#$@-is-the...??".  Unfortunately, I've had hardly any time to unpack with all the end-of-year craziness going on at school.  We'll get there...

Our new house is a pretty simple and unassuming little place and still needs a ton of landscaping work to spruce up the outside, but the inside is fantastic.  3 bedrooms and a study, 2 bathrooms, laundry, garage, and a nice spacious kitchen, the layout is great.  We finally have a real pantry with nice wide shelves and a kitchen you can fit more than 2 people in at once.  The only problem we've encountered so far is discovering that the bedroom doorways aren't wide enough to move Michael's crib through.  We've tried every possible position but there is no way that thing is getting into his bedroom without first dismantling it completely.  For right now the crib is sitting in the study until Serg gets the courage to take it apart and (hopefully) put it back together again in the room.  Until then, it's pack-n-play living for the baby....sorry bud!

The yard is a good size but desperately needs some work.  Within the next month or two we plan to completely till everything and plant new seed, hopefully in time to have a nice little lawn in place before Michael's 1st b-day bash in mid-August.  Serg is already planning the menu for a big BBQ get-together for friends and family, but first we gotta have a place to grill and eat outside!

We've got lots of great memories in our cute little apartment on Colorado St, but we're more than ready to make some new ones in our new place!

[pictures to come!!]

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Goodbye Baby Weight, Update II

I've now hit the 30 lb mark--lots more to go, but it's gratifying to see weight coming off in spite of my insane work schedule right now.  I'm gearing up for a much more intensive summer work-out regimen, as I've got to stop losing fat AND muscle weight.  Poco a poquito!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Some of the most intimate and powerful dialogues I have with my Heavenly Father take place while I'm's quiet, I'm alone, and my heart and mind are constantly reflecting on things I don't have a chance to think about or feel when I'm surrounded by people and noise.  Today I felt the renewal of strength that comes with redemption.  I thought about what redemption really means--deliverance, rescue salvation, atonement, advocacy, freedom--and felt a rush of faith as I thought through the examples of redemption from my life, especially the ones that have blessed and, very literally, saved my marriage and family.  Every so often I stand back in awe at the miracle the Savior has worked with me and my was one of those moments.  I remembered a time when, desperate for hope, desperate for redemption, I read the words of President Howard W. Hunter:  "Whatever Jesus lays his hands upon lives.  If Jesus lays his hands upon a marriage, it lives.  If he is allowed to lay his hands on the family, it lives." (Ensign, Nov 1979, p.65)   I remembered the first time I'd dropped to my knees and pleaded with God that His Son find a way to lay His hands on me, on my marriage, on my family, and I remembered the months that followed--many months--where it seemed that this redemption was not to be.  These months were heartbreaking and even hellish, but I learned to trust that my will is and must be subject to God's and that, paradoxically, submission to Him is the water that grows unshakeable personal strength.  I learned that no one and nothing can be saved that doesn't want to be (nor should it) and that redemption was something that must be both granted and accepted.  I learned, as Elder Maxwell once testified, that the Savior's redemptiveness is relentless, something I would not have learned without those long difficult months of wondering and searching and trusting.  I remembered the first time I knew--I mean really knew--that even though I didn't know where life would take me, I knew it would be OK, I would be OK.  That realization would never have come without my life having been pulled out from beneath my feet a few years ago, without having tumbled to my knees, without wondering if I'd ever stand again.  Then I learned what relentless redemptiveness really means.  It's being picked up and brushed off  in the middle of the uncertainty.  It's having Jesus walk you across the water as the winds get wilder and the waves more menacing.  It's knowing you'll be OK even when that's the only thing you know.  It's being so completely dependent on something bigger than yourself that you are quite literally filled with power and hope every time you fall to your knees in prayer and every time you search for answers in the scriptures.

All of this flew through my mind and filled my soul in the minute or two spent sitting at the stoplight on Shary Rd and 495.  The green light (and horn honking behind me) snapped me back into action and I turned left onto 495 and then right to pull up to Michael's daycare.  I rushed in and hugged my beautiful little boy, more grateful than ever for this very real and eternal evidence of the redemption of our family.  

Sunday, May 10, 2009


I wanted to make sure I recorded the notes from a talk I gave in church on Mother's Day.  It has deepened my gratitude for the privilege it is to be a mother:

The Divine Nature of Motherhood




Something with Divine Nature:

1) something that comes from God

2) something that turns us to & teaches us about God

3) something that prepares us to live with and become like God

Elder Holland’s preface to his  May 1997 Conference talk, Because She Is A Mother:  “To the women within the sound of my voice who dearly want to be mothers and are not, I say through your tears and ours on that subject, God will yet, in days that lie somewhere ahead, bring “hope to [the] desolate heart.” 1 As prophets have repeatedly taught from this pulpit, ultimately “no blessing shall be withheld” from the faithful, even if those blessings do not come immediately. 2 In the meantime we rejoice that the call to nurture is not limited to our own flesh and blood.  In speaking of mothers I do not neglect the crucial, urgent role of fathers, particularly as fatherlessness in contemporary homes is considered by some to be “the central social problem of our time.” 3 Indeed, fatherlessness can be a problem even in a home where the father is present—eating and sleeping, so to speak, “by remote.” But that is a priesthood message for another day. Today I wish to praise those motherly hands that have rocked the infant’s cradle and, through the righteousness taught to their children there, are at the very center of the Lord’s purposes for us in mortality.”


The world often characterizes motherhood as anything BUT divine.  Here are some things I’ve learned about the divine nature of motherhood from my mother and grandmother and from the words of ancient & modern prophets…

1)    Comes from God

As men were foreordained to the Priesthood, women were foreordained to motherhood during the pre-mortal existence.

Alma 13: 2 – 3

Men were foreordained to become High Priests in the pre-mortal existence

  2 And those priests were ordained after the aorder of his Son, in a bmanner that thereby the people might know in what manner to look forward to his Son for redemption.

  3 And this is the manner after which they were ordained—being acalled and bprepared from the cfoundation of the world according to the dforeknowledge of God, on account of their exceeding faith and good works; in the first place being left to echoose good or evil; therefore they having chosen good, and exercising exceedingly great ffaith, are gcalled with a holy calling, yea, with that holy calling which was prepared with, and according to, a preparatory redemption for such.


Sister Shari Dew  (Are We Not All Mothers?) :  Elder Matthew Cowley taught that “men have to have something given to them [in mortality] to make them saviors of men, but not mothers, not women. [They] are born with an inherent right, an inherent authority, to be the saviors of human souls … and the regenerating force in the lives of God’s children.” 7

Motherhood is not what was left over after our Father blessed His sons with priesthood ordination. It was the most ennobling endowment He could give His daughters, a sacred trust that gave women an unparalleled role in helping His children keep their second estate. As President J. Reuben Clark Jr. declared, motherhood is “as divinely called, as eternally important in its place as the Priesthood itself.” 8 

2)    Turns us to God & Teaches us about Him

Everything of divine origin, everything in the gospel, turns us to the Son of God and testifies of His atonement.

Alma 34: 14

All things point to the Atonement of Christ in the meridian of time.

14 And behold, this is the whole ameaning of the blaw, every whit cpointing to that great and last dsacrifice; and that great and last esacrifice will be the Son of God, yea, finfinite and eternal.

Alma 13: 2  (see above)

The order of and ordination to the Priesthood themselves teach us about the Son of God, the author of redemption.  Motherhood can do the same.

Moses 6:63

All things have their likeness and all things are created to bear record of Jesus Christ


Motherhood is a type and shadow of the Savior’s Atonement (as are all principles and ordinances of the gospel)…


1)  Physical birth represents spiritual birth through the Atonement of Christ

Moses 6: 59 – 60

Physical Birth represents Spiritual Birth

  59 That by reason of transgression cometh the fall, which fall bringeth death, and inasmuch as ye were born into the world by water, and blood, and the aspirit, which I have made, and so became of bdust a living soul, even so ye must be cborn again into the kingdom of heaven, of dwater, and of the Spirit, and be cleansed by blood, even the blood of mine Only Begotten; that ye might be sanctified from all sin, and eenjoy the fwords of geternal life in this world, and eternal life in the world to come, even immortal hglory;

  60 For by the awater ye keep the commandment; by the Spirit ye are bjustified, and by the cblood ye are dsanctified;


2) Mothers’ sacrifice represents the Savior’s sacrifice

Victor Hugo wrote:  “She broke the bread into two fragments and gave them to her children, who ate with eagerness.  ‘She hath kept none for herself,’ grumbled the sergeant.  ‘Because she is not hungry,’ said a soldier.  ‘No,’ said the sergeant, ‘because she is a mother.’”


3)  Mothers’ role in the creation of physical bodies reminds us of the Savior’s role as Creator under the direction of the Father

Gabriela Mistral, Nobel Poet from Chile, wrote a tribute to the divinity of motherhood and a mother's partnership with Deity in her poem, Meciendo (Rocking).


El mar sus millares de olas

     mece, divino.

Oyendo a los mares amantes,

     mezo a mi niño.


El viento errabundo en la noche

     mece los trigos.

Oyendo a los vientos amantes,

     mezo a mi niño.


Dios padre sus miles de mundos

     mece sin ruido.

Sintiendo su mano en la sombra

     mezo a mi niño.


Holy ocean rocks its millions

of waves in the sun.

Listening to the loving seas

I rock my little one.

Wandering in the night the wind

rocks the wheat.

Listening to the loving winds

I rock my sweet.

The Father rocks his thousand worlds

silent, mild.

Feeling His hand in the darkness

I rock my child.

--Gabriela Mistral

When we understand what a sacred symbol motherhood and what a glorious role we as mothers have, we realize that the phrase I am JUST a mother comes from the adversary.  HE would have us think motherhood is a second rate job.

Shari Dew: As mothers in Israel, we are the Lord’s secret weapon. Our influence comes from a divine endowment that has been in place from the beginning. In the premortal world, when our Father described our role, I wonder if we didn’t stand in wide-eyed wonder that He would bless us with a sacred trust so central to His plan and that He would endow us with gifts so vital to the loving and leading of His children. I wonder if we shouted for joy 12 at least in part because of the ennobling stature He gave us in His kingdom. The world won’t tell you that, but the Spirit will.

We just can’t let the Lord down. And if the day comes when we are the only women on earth who find nobility and divinity in motherhood, so be it. For mother is the word that will define a righteous woman made perfect in the highest degree of the celestial kingdom, a woman who has qualified for eternal increase in posterity, wisdom, joy, and influence.


3)    Prepares us to return to God:  Motherhood is a pre-run on godhood

God finds His ultimate purpose in his role as parent—as should we


Moses 1:39

God’s work and glory is to parent His children as a perfect Father—so that they can enjoy all He has—immortality and eternal life.


Home = great laboratory for godhood

Elder Holland:One young mother wrote to me recently that her anxiety tended to come on three fronts. One was that whenever she heard talks on LDS motherhood, she worried because she felt she didn’t measure up or somehow wasn’t going to be equal to the task. Secondly, she felt like the world expected her to teach her children reading, writing, interior design, Latin, calculus, and the Internet—all before the baby said something terribly ordinary, like “goo goo.” Thirdly, she often felt people were sometimes patronizing, almost always without meaning to be, because the advice she got or even the compliments she received seemed to reflect nothing of the mental investment, the spiritual and emotional exertion, the long-night, long-day, stretched-to-the-limit demands that sometimes are required in trying to be and wanting to be the mother God hopes she will be.

But one thing, she said, keeps her going: “Through the thick and the thin of this, and through the occasional tears of it all, I know deep down inside I am doing God’s work. I know that in my motherhood I am in an eternal partnership with Him. I am deeply moved that God finds His ultimate purpose and meaning in being a parent, even if some of His children make Him weep.

“It is this realization,” she says, “that I try to recall on those inevitably difficult days when all of this can be a bit overwhelming. Maybe it is precisely our inability and anxiousness that urge us to reach out to Him and enhance His ability to reach back to us. Maybe He secretly hopes we will be anxious,” she said, “and will plead for His help. Then, I believe, He can teach these children directly, through us, but with no resistance offered. I like that idea,” she concludes. “It gives me hope. If I can be right before my Father in Heaven, perhaps His guidance to our children can be unimpeded. Maybe then it can be His work and His glory in a very literal sense.” 7


Motherhood—like godhood—is not easy


Elder Holland:  Sometimes the decision of a child or a grandchild will break your heart. Sometimes expectations won’t immediately be met. Every mother and father worries about that. Even that beloved and wonderfully successful parent President Joseph F. Smith pled, “Oh! God, let me not lose my own.” 8 That is every parent’s cry, and in it is something of every parent’s fear. But no one has failed who keeps trying and keeps praying. You have every right to receive encouragement and to know in the end your children will call your name blessed, just like those generations of foremothers before you who hoped your same hopes and felt your same fears.”


Our Heavenly Father understands the pain and worry of parenting.  He watched 1/3 of His beloved spirit children fight against Him during the war in heaven before the world began.  Enoch recorded that the Lord wept over the wickedness of His children on Earth.  God the Father watched from afar—as He had to—as His only begotten was mercilessly crucified and then willingly gave up His life for the rest of the Father’s children.  Yes, when motherhood becomes difficult and sometimes even seemingly unbearable, remember that the path of discipleship—of becoming like our own Heavenly parents—is not easy.  It was not easy for our Father in Heaven, it was not easy for His Son, and it will not always be easy for those who want to become like them.


Elder Holland:You can’t possibly do this alone, but you do have help. The Master of Heaven and Earth is there to bless you—He who resolutely goes after the lost sheep, sweeps thoroughly to find the lost coin, waits everlastingly for the return of the prodigal son. Yours is the work of salvation, and therefore you will be magnified, compensated, made more than you are and better than you have ever been as you try to make honest effort, however feeble you may sometimes feel that to be.

Remember, remember all the days of your motherhood: “Ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save.” 10

Rely on Him. Rely on Him heavily. Rely on Him forever. And “press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope.” 11 You are doing God’s work. You are doing it wonderfully well. He is blessing you and He will bless you, even—no, especially—when your days and your nights may be the most challenging. Like the woman who anonymously, meekly, perhaps even with hesitation and some embarrassment, fought her way through the crowd just to touch the hem of the Master’s garment, so Christ will say to the women who worry and wonder and sometimes weep over their responsibility as mothers, “Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole.” 12 And it will make your children whole as well.”