Michelle Smiles

Teaching my children to question authority, except mine.

Public Service Announcement


My agency friend, Cindi, brought some bug repellant for Sabrina after I talked about her getting bites on her face and hands while she slept.  I have to tell you guys, this stuff rocks!  Sabrina has only had 1 or 2 bites since I started using it.  Burt’s Bees Natural Insect Repellant – all natural oils.


Speakng of bugs, the mosquitoes here have been quite vicious since the rainy season started.  It has rained every day for the past week but the last few afternoons have been particularly wet.  We spent time watching the rain today from our back porch.


Steve will be here tomorrow!!! Woohoo!  We are anxiously awaiting his arrival.


Next post won’t be until after the embassy on Friday.  Sabrina and I are headed to Guatemala City to wait for daddy tomorrow.  He will join us at the hotel in the evening and then the embassy early Friday morning before heading back to Antigua for the weekend.

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The 5 stages of grief


Sabrina, much like her momma, loves bread.  It is one of the short list of table foods she can eat sans teeth.  I stopped at McDonalds for a burger this afternoon and shared my bun with her.  She was so happy with each bite – she grinned and giggled.  She yelled at me if I wasn’t giving her another piece fast enough to suit her.

Then, too soon, the bun was gone.  She was not happy and began dealing with the loss of the wonderful bread.

DENIAL – come on mom, don’t hold out of me…there is another piece, right?


ANGER – How dare you run out of bread for me?


BARGAINING – if I give you my keys, will you find some more bread for me?


DEPRESSION – Without bread, there is no joy in the world.


ACCEPTANCE – Fine.  There is no more bread.  I accept that but I don’t have to like it.


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Insomnia, my old friend


Have I mentioned I am going home in a week?  As the reality (read joy) of this has hit me, my brain has begun plugging back into the real world.  My thoughts are filled with all of the places I want to eat things I want to do, things I need to do, people I want Sabrina to meet and obligations once we return to the states.  The result?  I’m awake at 1:48am knowing I have a wake up call around 7:00am with no snooze button to save me.  While living in Guatemala has had its difficult aspects, life is simpler here.  No whirling thoughts keeping me up at night because basically as long there is water in the house the rest falls into place.  I’ve basically ignored the existance of the world beyond the cobblestones.  I haven’t kept up with the news (is the war still on?).  I haven’t worried about things happening at home because they have been out of my control.  I’ve certainly given passing thought to different things I want to do when I go home but it has all seemed rather hypothetical up until now.  Oh well, if a few nights of lost sleep is the price I pay for returning home, so be it.  Other joyous news:  Steve will be here in 2 days!!!

Okay, a couple of photos for those of you feeling photo deprived.





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So sad


First, sorry to anyone who sent email to the secret blog pal address…I haven’t checked in since I arrived in Guatemala.  Thought I would check it today since SBPs was on my mind.  I was so sad to find quite a few email from people who weren’t having good SBP experiences.  I can only organize – I can’t take responsibility for how people conduct themselves but I still feel badly.  Some people are just trying to get an email acknowledgment that the gift they sent was received but are being ignored.  Others haven’t received anything at all from their blog pal.  They signed up for a fun surprise and received nothing in return.

This is supposed to be a fun experience where we support each other.  Instead people are signing up and not playing by the rules.  I’m disappointed to find that is the case.  SBPs has grown beyond the people I “know” in the blog world so I don’t know much about those who signed on and then didn’t participate.  I’m not sure how to proceed…I don’t want to host something that is a disappointment to others.  I hope those who had good matches enjoyed this round.  I’m not sure how to proceed with the next round to ensure participation…suggestions are welcome.

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SBP – aka Bad SBP organizer


Howdy all…there is a little thing we like to do around here called Secret Blog Pals? And I said that last round would end the weekend of Mother’s Day? Then I forgot to officially call an end to it and do The Big Reveal? Yeah, sorry about that. I didn’t include myself in this round so I tended to forget about it a little until I saw someone post a gift. BUT my smart self did remember to bring my list of matches (yes they are on paper not in some slick spreadsheet) so that I could do the big reveal while in Guatemala. So here goes (if you don’t know who the person is, please email or leave a comment and I’ll see if I can dig up a blog or email address for you):

Ginger –> Shelby

Shelby –> Ashley Mc

Ashley Mc –> Farrah

Farrah –> Kim H

Kim H –> Dottie

Dottie –> Caryn M

Carny M –> Julie P

Julie P –> Lori W

Lori W –> Tiffany

Tiffany –> Stacy B

Stacy B –> Emily

Emily –> Jane

Jane –> Debra G

Debra G –> Deb C

Deb C –> Eleanor

Eleanor –> Corey

Corey –> Shawna

Shawna –> Carrie B

Carrie B –> Carla

Carla –> Art Sweet

Art Sweet –> Amanda

Amanda –> Dana

Dana –> Beth

Beth –> Shannon H

Shannon H –> Sara

Sara –> Shannon Mc

Shannon Mc –> Nicole

Nicole –> Jennifer F

Jennifer F –> Lori T

Lori T –> Jill

Jill –> Chou

Chou –> Tracy

Tracy –> Alleen

Alleen –> Ashley J

Ashley J –> Merrill

Merrill –> Andrea

Andrea –> Leigh

Leigh –> Diana

Diana –> Ginger

Okay, if any of that doesn’t look right, give me a yell. As always, any mistakes are my own. Due to living in Guatemala, going back to PA to pack up my house and then moving to TN, there will be a slight break between rounds. But hey, we all get busy during the summer anyway, right? Hope you all had fun this round and we will do this again in the not too distant future! I’m thinking after the 4th of July we’ll set up the next round – any objections?

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Training to foster


I’ve receive a few emails and a few questions on message boards about fostering tips in Guatemala. I do my best to pass on the tips others gave me – good shoes, a good baby carrier, etc. But what I wish I had before I came was some advice on preparing to foster not just packing. So here is my list – feel free to add your own items in the comments.

1. Walking. You will be walking A LOT. If you aren’t accustomed to walking, work yourself up to a couple of miles. Then add 16 lbs strapped to your chest. Then add 8 lbs of groceries and water in each hand. Then add different sized large rocks and small boulders to your path to simulate the cobblestones.

2. Coat yourself in sweet smelling oils and perfumes. Then shut yourself in a chamber containing 1374 mosquitoes. This will get you used to living with no screens in your windows. The little suckers don’t just attack at night.

3. Find a road construction crew – preferrably one with a jack hammer. Record them and play it back at night while you try to sleep. This will help prepare you for sleeping through loud trucks, chickenbusses, and fireworks (why? because it is Tuesday).

4. If you don’t speak much Spanish, take a mime class. Mime is of great help when trying to obtain things you need in stores where no one speaks English and they don’t understand your awful Spanish.

5. Prepare your dinner. Hold a cat in your lap and have someone spray it in the face with water every 90 seconds. Make sure you don’t drop the cat. Try to eat your dinner while holding onto the cat. This will help you to prepare for eating with a squirming baby on your lap.

6. If you plan to take a stroller to Antigua, there is a learning curve to driving one of the jogging strollers. You can’t really steer it like a normal stroller.  Try to find a narrow sidewalk that is just wide enough for the stroller then add a constant stream of people to dodge and curbs that vary from 1 to 9 inches.

7. Begin licking random public surfaces to help your body become immune to new bacteria you may encounter in Antigua.

8. Practice walking in your flip flops without making a sound. Your baby might sleep through the firecrackers outside of your window but noisy shoes will wake her instantly.

9. Find a truck stop where they keep the big rigs running all night. Cozy up to an exhaust pipe and breath deeply. You will spend the first 2 weeks blowing diesel fuel out of your nose constantly. Then you will become concerned when you don’t notice it anymore.

10. Wipe all conversational topics from your repetoire except those pertaining to: PGN, Pink, your agency, poop, and naps.

Steve will be here a week from today!!


I have been lax…I haven’t posted any photos in a couple of days.

Last night, Cheri and Eliana invited us to have dinner with them at a local steak place. It was a beautiful restaurant. And of course great company.


The hanging flowers were lovely


There is a play ground for kids


But weirdly, the dining area is built over a pool (this is a photo of the floor)


But a lovely courtyard in the middle


Sabrina has been Miss McWhineypants so not a lot of smiles from her the last few days


And I thought I would try out the timer feature on the camera for today’s self portrait – try not to be blinded by my incredibly white knee


Sabrina has learned to clap this week so she is showing that new skill off.

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Miss Yucky Face*


Krista shot this video while Sabrina was being fed some kind of concoction that she was not too fond of. She ate it like a champ, but the faces she made during the process are priceless… she even found time to throw Aunt Lulu a few of her award-winning smiles.

*Edited to add this was the home made veggie baby food that I made. Green beans, peas, and carrots. She hated it.

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It really is the little things…


She slept through the night (although got up earlier than I would have liked) AND took a long enough morning nap to allow me to shower and dress without feeling like I was racking up future therapy bills in the process.  It has been weeks since she didn’t wake up screaming during my shower.  Ahhh…

Now I am getting silly and hoping maybe the whining will lessen today.  I feel so bad that her gums hurt but man that whining gets old after 3 or 4 hours!  Good thing she is so cute!

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Someone buy me a calendar


Last night was the first night Sabrina has slept through the whole night in awhile.  So I’m happily enjoying my sleep…when my doorbell starts ringing insistently.  I ignore it thinking there is no one that I want to see enough to open my door.  Then out of curiousity, I crack open my eye and look at the clock.  It is 6:27am.  Which makes me wonder why anyone would ring my bell…which starts my brain whirling a little.  I suddenly realize it is Tuesday and we were supposed to leave for Guatemala City at 5:30 am for Sabrina’s embassy physical.  CRAP!

I run to the door, apologize profusely to the driver, see I have 13 missed calls from my agency rep and run back in the house.  I throw on pants, snatch a bewildered Sabrina out of bed, dress her, and we are off.  The car seat straps are being held onto the car seat cover by safety pins and aren’t threaded through the actual seat at all – lovely.  I realize 1/2 was to GC that while I did think to put water and formula in the diaper bag, I didn’t think to include a bottle.  Sabrina is not pleased by this fact.  I am sitting in the car, fighting car sickness (no time for dramamine this morning), and imagining we are going to be late to the appointment which will result in them telling us “sorry, too late, everything will have to be rescheduled so you won’t be going home in 2 weeks after all”.

We arrive right on time only to discover the doctor isn’t in yet – he arrives an hour late.  I explain to the driver that I forgot a bottle and ask if he would mind going to buy one.  He agrees and returns with 2 bottles of water.  At least I know that I had the right word for bottle.  I explain again – this time inserting the word baby in front of bottle and he returns with a bottle.  Sabrina is much happier.  We sit in a room with many foster moms and babies.  I feel gross – I didn’t even brush my teeth.  Finally, we see the doctor for about 4 minutes.

Back home by 10:38am – both feeling a bit dazed.   I didn’t forget that Sabrina was supposed to see the embassy doctor on Tuesday, I just forgot that today was Tuesday.  All that is left now is our embassy appointment on June 1st.

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