Monthly Archives: May 2016

Jocotepec, Mexico–The Big Fifteen

The La Ola crew

The La Ola crew

My friend Tina is very involved with the children’s shelter in Jocotepec.  La Ola houses and cares not only for orphans, but for abused and abandoned children as well.  This nonprofit  organization, started in 2010 by Bob and Becky Plinke, provides the works (food, shelter, clothing, education, and above all else, LOVE).


Photo by Tina, a woman of many talents.


Another Tina photo.


Yep, Tina. 🙂

It was because of Tina that I was able to help with (and attend) my very first quinceanera!  Quinceanera’s are a really big deal to many countries in South and Central America, as well as Mexico.  They celebrate a girl’s fifteenth birthday and announce her transition from childhood to young womanhood.  In short, a quinceanera is a girl’s “coming-out” party (or formal “debut”).


Becky is such an incredible lady!

Becky is such an incredible lady!


When I arrived at La Ola for Zaire’s quinceanera, I found a crew already busy at work.  The ladies in the kitchen had been working for days to prepare enough food for all the children and the guests.  The children were all dressed in their finest.  There was a hair station, as well as a make-up station.  There was also a coloring station.  I bounced back and forth between helping the kids make thank you cards for some of the guests who had made especially generous donations and helping the decorating committee.




This little cutey’s name is Nathan. He was happy until I took away his scissors, and then he was NOT a happy camper. I’m sorry Nathan!

When I met Zaire, I was instantly impressed by what a lovely young lady she appeared to be.  Although she was quiet, I could tell how excited she was on her big day.  She made a point to introduce herself and thank me for helping.  She was surrounded by friends who could’t have been more happy to help celebrate her special moment.  Before long, they whisked Zaire away so that she could change at a nearby residence and have a very special entrance.




When she returned, her guests were all assembled and eagerly anticipating her arrival.  She looked beautiful.  Aside from her flowing pink dress, she wore  a radiant smile.  She was carrying a small doll and a gentleman took her and danced her to the center of the dance floor.  Once there, she was seated and then a couple of the little girls ran forward and snatched the doll away, which represented the end of her childhood.

Nice picture Miss Tina!

Nice picture Miss Tina!

Thanks for the photo Tina. :)

Thanks for the photo Tina. 🙂

Over the next couple of hours, everyone enjoyed food and exchanged pleasantries.  Zaire and her attendants had rehearsed a dance and they performed it for all to see.  Everyone watched happily and I could see the little girls who would one day have a quinceanera of their own light up with excitement.  It was a very enjoyable day for all, although none as much as Zaire.  What a beautiful, sweet young woman.  Look out world, here she comes!

Photo courtesy of Miss Tina. :)

Photo courtesy of Miss Tina. 🙂


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Spokane, Washington–Happy Birthday Princess Ruby

Birthday number four is a very special occasion for young people.  It will likely be the first birthday that any of them might actually remember in years to come.  More importantly, when done properly, a child’s fourth birthday is a moment when the whole world conspires to prove that life IS in fact all about them.

What better way of celebrating this important right of passage than with a princess party!  When my niece Ruby turned four on May second, a princess party was exactly what she got, courtesy of Great-Grandma Geri and Grandma Kathi.  Not only was there cake and face painting and a pile of presents just waiting to be opened, but there were costumes to go along with all the fabulous decorations as well.

Lords and Ladies of the court

King Erik (and Queen Megan)

Once everyone was properly dressed, Mom (aka Grandma Kathi to the guest of honor) assigned parts in an entirely original play to be performed on the spot.  In this play, Princess Ruby’s birthday cake is stolen by an evil (and hungry) giant and she must go on a quest in order to retrieve it.  I am proud to report that I was assigned the role of the magical seamstress cat.  Meow!

Luckily like all fairy tales, this play had a happy ending and Princess Ruby was able to successfully retrieve her stolen birthday cake.  I think it’s safe to say that her fourth birthday was one she will most likely never forget.  Good job Great-Grandma Geri and Grandma Kathi.  All hail Princess Ruby!  Long may she reign.

Great-Grandma Geri, Queen Megan, Princess Ruby, and Prince Theo

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Spokane, Washington–In Loving Memory of Jerry Pelissier

If I have learned one thing thus far it is that life is full of surprises.  Some are good and some are bad, while others can only be described as heartbreaking.  In 2013, my Grandpa Jerry was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  Anyone who knew him would have said he was as healthy as a horse.  He was walking five miles every day right up until his diagnosis.  Yet his skin had suddenly turned a strange tint of yellow and thus my grandmother insisted he get checked out.

He survived the Whipple procedure (pancreaticoduodenectomy) which is a feat in itself.  All the while my grandmother, who is the strongest person that I know, ran around with his high school football number printed on her clothing.  “Number thirty-four is going to kick cancer’s ass,” she would insist.  The rest of us followed suit.  She was the perfect cheer-leader until he relapsed in 2014.  Then she became the perfect care-giver.

Grandpa Jerry passed away last year when Ryan and I were in Argentina.  He did not want a memorial service so instead, much of our family met the first Sunday in May to run the Bloomsday race in his honor.  Grandpa Jerry loved Bloomsday.  He would often start out with the walkers but this wouldn’t last long.  Every year a burst of competition would hit him and he would suddenly break from the pack.  The last thing you would see was his numbered back disappearing into the crowd.

When my family met for Bloomsday this year, the mood was surprisingly light and celebratory.  Whether this was a result of grandma, ever the cheerleader, or something else, I can never be sure.  But I like to think that he was there with his back cracking hugs and his fantastic laugh.  I like to think that he was pushing us ever closer to the finish line, keeping smiles on our faces.  He was there with us all along, every step of the way, even though he may have reached the finish line ahead of us.

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