boogers and babies

My sweet, dear, precious lifelong friend had her baby yesterday. 

Ohmygosh he's soooo cute. Even in the wrinkly, sort of creepy newborn squishy-ness, he's actually cute.  

Something about seeing someone you love's fresh newborn makes you stop a minute and slow down all the crazy daily routines of life stuff and actually be still. There's something sacred about life so fresh from God, truly a miracle. 

The weirdest thing, I texted her, is driving home from the hospital. I remember thinking that I wasn't sure if they should actually trust me with this human being. (of course it was Mexico, and we were driving away with him laying in my lap, but that's beside the point, or..?)

Remember, you know him better than anyone else on earth, I wrote.

I read her sweet words and looked at that sweet face one last time on my phone, before setting it down for my present reality... Which, happened to be dishes and dinner clean up and two boys to put to bed by myself.  

The first time I held Rainer Marco, I felt so complete. Then, a rush of gratitude that he was here with us. And somehow he has grown at lightening speed into a chatterbox who gives me kisses unprompted at bedtime and loves to play jokes on people like today when he served me a cup of water - complete with plastic straw - filled with rocks from our yard. Man, that glint in his eye. 

Remembering Solomon as a baby is a bit more blurry. I wish I wasn't such a basketcase. I do remember vividly wrapping him in a blanket and swinging him in the hammock until he fell fast asleep, dressing him up in polo shirts for a stroll in the park, and dancing with him in our tiny rooftop apartment. Tonight, as the clock crept closer to 8:00pm and my freedom was within my grasp, I started to feel annoyed at his request for water, another book, the infamous "But I can't get comfy!!"  And, then, the final straw.

"Mommy I have a booger."

"Then get up and throw it in the trash."

"But, I don't waaaant toooooo."

"Neither do I, and it's your booger, AND you have two legs. So go throw it away."

....silence....

......me lost in my own thoughts of warm sleeping newborns and my mint ice cream sandwich hiding in the freezer.....

.....more silence.....

"Solomon? What did you do with your booger?"

"I put it back in my nose."

Then, I just laughed. Such a release of built up stress and fatigue. I couldn't stop laughing.

Kids, man.  First you are sucking out those boogers so the little guys can breathe, and then they are giving them to you like long lost golden treasures, and I imagine I'll soon find them decorating walls and carpet throughout this lovely house.

Arriba los boogers!! 

On being homesick and making a home and all that in between stuff.

I wonder when I'll go into autopilot on I-84 and without thinking ease right at exit 62. Or when my pen will stop hesitating at the zip code line on forms as I repeat it in my mind.  Where do I live, again? I wonder when I'll stop aching at the thought of what we left behind. The ache doesn't mean what we have now isn't beautiful and amazing and breathtaking. It just means what we left behind was also beautiful and amazing and breathtaking...in completely different ways.

I stopped at the mailbox today to chat with my neighbor. She's the sweetest lady, in her mid-forties, beautiful and delicate, kind and sincere.  I commented on the large stack of mail she was holding onto, and she replied that most of it is her mom's mail which is forwarded to her now. A couple weeks back she had shared briefly that her mom passed away last spring, but I didn't know why or how. 

There are days when I'm ok and I go about my day, and then there are moments like right now when I see her magazines and I fall apart. 

Her eyes welled with tears, and she began to weep. 

If you would have told me ten years ago that I would lose my parents in ten years, I would have laughed at you. No way. No way. But, you just don't know. My mom was the healthiest person... stage 4 pancreatic cancer... 3 months, and she was gone. And it makes no sense.

Magically, at that moment, it started to rain. Barely more than sprinkles, and almost as if it was coming down sideways with the wind. The tiny yellow leaves that cover our street swirled up into the air like confetti. Both she and I stopped our conversation to look up into the sky, searching for the cloud to blame. But, the sky was blue and the sun shining, and those droplets kept falling like miniature diamonds. 

Maybe it's my mom, sending her own tears down from heaven.  She laughed and began the string of apologies for crying and talking and taking my time. 

I love to know people and their stories. I am continually fascinated by the depth of human experience that lies within each of us, hidden behind our normalcy. I love the art of revealing the intricate layers that strangers gradually gift us as we become friends. 

It's hard starting over in so many ways. But, then, gifts like the conversation at the mailbox remind me that it's also a chance for new stories to be written and for old stories to told.

But,

sometimes I just want to eat a ripe mango and go to the park with my friends and then lay in the grass in our itty bitty back yard and watch the palm trees.

Sigh.

Look! The view from a run...

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It's breathtaking here. 

foreigners.

I went to visit a 26 year old brand new mommy yesterday. She is Vietnamese with only some broken English. I brought her a packet of resources and brochures, a tiny pastel yellow sleeper and a pink floral swaddle blanket for her precious bundle. 

With the help of my Google Translate app and creative gesturing, I was able to complete the screening process for our program and even convey complex questions surrounding topics like depression, support systems, and financial difficulty. 

She's been here just a year now, she explained kneeling next to me with her two month old baby cradled sleeping in her arms. There we were in her quiet empty house, just the two of us, awkward with our cultural differences, but not so different, really. 

I didn't try to explain myself, but I hoped that in my eyes she could see that I've been in her shoes, I've been that foreigner with that new babe, somehow making it work day by day. I've been overlooked because interacting with people different than us takes effort, it takes time and creativity. I wanted her to know that she was important, and that she was worth it, to me. I left her with my phone number, the print outs I translated to Vietnamese online, and my most genuine smile. She stood in her doorway and watched as I drove away.

So, we moved.

We've been living in our new house for 11 days now, and I am finally feeling like my head isn't spinning. There is still a list of to-dos (which will likely never end, right?), but we have curtains up and our closets organized and I just ordered the boys' Halloween costumes, so I'm basically superwoman. . . or something.

I'm learning the ins and outs of living productively here in the US of A. Important things like depositing checks with your iPhone and how to properly recycle so that the truck actually empties your bins. Going to the grocery store still feels weird, as I awkwardly try to navigate the aisles of English labels and endless choices, but I haven't had another near-meltdown, so we're good. We are still bleeding money, but that's part of starting over, and it's definitely bittersweet. I feel lucky and blessed to hang pictures on our new walls and drink water from our faucet. Solomon stands on the stool in his bathroom, cupping the water in his hands and slurping it over and over.

"Look what trick I can do, daddy!" {overheard from the other room.} "Oh wow, Solomon, that's like how the Native Americans used to drink water from the river!"

It's the little things. 

My heart swells as I watch my boys play on the sidewalk in front of our house, running barefoot through the grass and to the house next door to play with the neighbors' Chiweenie. (Yes, that's a thing.) This morning Solomon tagged along on his bike for my morning run, and in less than a mile we were on a trail, alongside a creek, shaded by huge beautiful trees, Mt. Hood in the distance. The short stretch of actual road we ran on was glorious as the cars MOVED INTO THE OTHER LANE to pass around us.  I still can't believe it, sometimes. 

The pear, apple, peach, and cherry orchards fill the air with the sweet smell of nourishment, of life, of new beginnings. The views of Mt. Adams and Mt. Hood are breathtaking. I'm sure a time will come when I'll be too rushed to take it in, too lost in my own worries and concerns to appreciate its beauty. I hope not. 

I miss the fruit truck in Mexico. I even miss the noise, sometimes. I miss my friends and my kids' friends, and I miss our nanny. I miss the mangoes.  I miss walking to the plaza and watching the night come alive. 

I do have peace in knowing that we made the right decision, at the right time, for our family. In every change there are things you give up, and there are moments you will wonder if what you gained outweighs what you gave up. The doubt may always be there, but you have to somehow find a way to trust yourself, and move forward. 

You know what surprised me the most in all of this crazy madness? 

I never knew how many things I could feel, so deeply, and all at once. 

 

You're Six.

Solomon, today you're six. 

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Your nose has a splattering of dark freckles, much browner than I remembered them to be just yesterday. Your right front tooth is chipped, and I don't even know how it happened. Was it from something you ate? A bike fall? A fight with your brother? All too soon that broken tooth will be a foggy memory. 

Your eyelashes seem thicker today, enveloping your chocolate eyes like a fur coat. Your arms are lankier, longer, tanner. I've loved the hugs you've given lately; spontaneously wrapped around me, warm breath in my face and your goofy smile, too wide for your face. You probably feel vulnerable, like we all do with these changes before us and within us, needing a little bit tighter, a little bit more frequent embraces.

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Your latest {re-kindled} love is bike-riding. You ask to go to the bike track or the dirt trail by Nonna's house or the skate park, or simply ride old fashioned loops around the neighborhood from the moment you swallow your last spoonful of Cheerios. It doesn't matter if it's 90* outside, you cannot be persuaded to leave your bike shorts - complete with shammy - or your Pearl Izumi gloves behind. This love is real, yo. 

My favorite thing about you right now is your thirst for knowledge and your innocent curiosity. Why do bikes have gears? What is a gear? What is it for? 

Are blueberries healthy? Are tacos healthy? Is everything that grows healthy to eat?

Some observations you've made since we moved back to Oregon... The mailboxes. At first, you were fascinated by all of the shapes and sizes and frequency of mailboxes. They were a mystery to you, and for some reason delightful. Another is the houses, and how they are not behind walls or gates. "Everyone lives in a coto here!"  You miss the corner "tiny store" in Mexico, and let's just say you ate your weight in mangoes when my sister bought some at Costco the other day. 

I think you are really looking forward to our new home, and having routine and some semblance of normalcy. I know that the idea of a new school is still a bit too much to wrap your mind around, so we are still taking it slow. There's time.

You surprise me in so many small and wonderful ways. This morning the doorbell rang, and you bounced up to answer it; for a few split seconds abandoning timidity and just being "you." I smiled. You often feel compassionate toward Rainer and his very extreme emotional outbursts, and instead of resenting him, you seek ways to make him happy. Truthfully, you are often the only one who can snap him out of his tantrums, and it makes you feel important.  Entirely on your own, you decided to give Rainer nearly half of your presents from your birthday party. You love making people happy. 

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Today I asked what you wanted to be when you grow up. Instead of the usual answer of "Ninja" or "Superhero," you thought for a good 10 seconds and then responded assuredly, "A Planter."

"A planter? You mean, like, a Gardener?" I asked.

"Yeah. I want to grow things."

I love you in all of the silly ways, the tickles and giggles at surprise bodily sounds.  I love you in all of the inexplicable tears, the heartaches and disappointments and rubbing tired eyes.  I love you in the drawings and beautifully formed letters, and in the spaceships built with purpose and care.  I love you in the fears, the ones that make the least sense are the scariest of all.  I love you in the hot sun;  jump after jump, kick after kick, throw after throw, ride after ride.  I love you in the enduring drive to learn and grow and just BE. 

"Solomon, don't ever grow up! Promise me! Stay five forever."

::giggles:: "Oh yeah, I am! I'm gonna grow up!" ::giggles:: 

Today, you're six. 

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10 sleeps.

10 more sleeps until we get the keys to our home! OUR HOME. That's going to feel so good.

The high school soccer field = free private water park! No swim suit, no problem!

The high school soccer field = free private water park! No swim suit, no problem!

these boys still don't understand car seat safety by U.S. standards...

these boys still don't understand car seat safety by U.S. standards...

We have enjoyed our time bouncing between our families' homes, sleeping on floors and in guest rooms, living schedule-less for the most part. We've woken up whenever the boys wake up and we do whatever they feel like doing.  There has been lots of bike riding and skateboarding and ice cream and free cookies at the grocery store.

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There has been plenty of shopping, stocking up on new home necessities, and lots of beer sampling and trampoline jumping and walks to the corner store.  I have enjoyed some long bike rides with my sister, and running everyday in new neighborhoods, wherever we happen to be. The digging-through-boxes-every-time-I-need-to-find-something part hasn't been my favorite, however.  It will be so nice to unpack and put things in drawers and shelves and closets.  To make a home for our little treasures. 

Off-roading with Grandpa!

Off-roading with Grandpa!

I'm so excited to explore Hood River with the boys, discovering the parks and trails and creeks. Google tells me there's an Aquatic center and BMX track, skate park and waterfront playground. There will be swimming and paddle boarding and creek walking.  Endless running trails and cycling loops and orchards longing to be explored. 

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The adventure (still) awaits!

My track workout buddy... (losing his shorts!)

My track workout buddy... (losing his shorts!)

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Panicky Pickles

The other day Mr. P and I snuck away for a few hours to tackle some shopping to-dos. Target beckoned. We complied. 

I needed to find a birthday gift for Solomon, some birthday party items and miscellaneous groceries for a BBQ. 

After a comprehensive walk-through of the entire store (not my wisest moment), I was starting to feel overwhelmed, overstimulated, over hungry and over tired. 

But pickles. I needed pickles. After 8 years of pickle deprivation, you cannot have your burger pickle-less. You just can't. So, despite my urge at this point to run to a dark, quiet corner and hide from the world, I ventured back into the grocery section for the final item on my list.  

Let me just say; I don't recommend the pickle aisle if you are still freshly re-entering the US.  

Sweet relish in a squeeze bottle. Sweet relish in a jar. Dill relish. Spicy dill relish. Mini pickles. Jumbo pickles. Sliced pickles, long ways. Sliced pickles, the other way. Diced pickles. Bread and butter pickles. Sweet pickles. 

I. Can't. Even. 

Ensue: mini breakdown in the Target pickle aisle.  

Send tacos.  

 

Old friends

Some "old" friends from Guadalajara visited this week. Darius was Solomon's first best friend. Last year we spent a weekend together in Vegas over the fourth, and this year they came to Portland. It was awesome watching the boys pick up where they left off a year ago like it was no big thing. 

 

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First things first, blueberry picking... The perfect introduction to the beautiful Pacific Northwest! 

 

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It was fun to see our home through the eyes of someone from Vegas, desert born and raised. The trees took on a new depth of beauty, and the mountains and rivers and waterfalls did not disappoint. 

Next stop: Silver Falls

 

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And you can't visit Portland without experiencing the cycling scene...

we got to watch Uncle Johnny race a criterium, too! The boys' eyes were like saucers!! 

 

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Lastly, some 4th of July classics! 

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Have a wonderful week!!!

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Reunited.

After three weeks apart, daddy is home. It feels right. I'm still in denial that we won't be going back to Mexico when summer ends, but luckily we will have plenty to distract us. 

At the moment, life is piles of clothes in hampers and boxes filled with old photo albums. It's laying our heads down, exhausted at 9:00 pm, on unfamiliar pillows in cool and quiet bedrooms. It's a whole lot of unknowns still, and yet, a whole lot of knowns. We are blessed to have our families who can care for us during this transition. I knew it wouldn't be easy, and it's not... but it's right. It does feel right.  

My heart is still hesitant to fully let down and settle in. I feel in between an old life and a new life, and I am uncertain of where my loyalties lie. 

I bought a car on Wednesday. It was the strangest thing to hand the guy a personal check for my down payment, a piece of paper really, and drive off in this beautiful, foreign machine. It felt weird to be so trusted. I wanted to show them my passport and visa and birth certificate and notarized copies of my drivers license and my bank deposit receipt with a stamp, seal and signature. But, no. A personal check will do. 

I'm not in Mexico anymore.  

And I've already completely freaked out my mom and my sister with my driving. And I swear I'm trying really hard to be normal.  

This is home again.  

((Some pictures of the last couple weeks))

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Picking strawberries

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Hiking with aunt juli

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Taking clothes off (as usual) at the skate park

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Helping uncle john wash his bike 

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Our new car!!

 

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Slack line fun 

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World Cup sticker madness brought by daddy!

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Riding bikes for dayzzzz

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Views from my run

 

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Oregon.

in the past 10 days....

I drove back and forth Silverton <---> Hood River three times.

The third time I signed the dotted line... and bought a house!

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I've gone on 8 gorgeous runs.

I've given the boys their first bubble bath.

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I've eaten Thai food and cranberry orange scones and Cookie butter. 

I've organized piles of clothes and shoes and toys.

I've slept each night with two little people snuggled close, breathing down my neck.

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I've watched the World Cup and celebrated with Mexico.

I've accidentally said Gracias 3 times.

I bought an iPhone. 

I've missed my husband. 

I interviewed for a job... and forgot a word in Spanish.

I've been anxious; I've had peace.

One day at a time.

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thank you, México.

Dear México,

I know I get frustrated easily... annoyed... impatient.  But, I promise I'm working on it.  I know it's not all your fault when things go wrong; I know much of it is my spoiled northwestern attitude.  I want to say thank you, before I leave, like a polite houseguest should. I want to say, sheepishly, that I am going to miss you ... deeply. 

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Thank you for the big hearty breakfasts you've made me, the fresh steaming tortillas and enfrijoladas, which you knew are my favorite.  Thank you for the fresh squeezed orange juice, the floating seeds are the best part. Thank you for the sunrises as I drive Solo to school over the Circunvalación bridge. Thanks for thinking of me, then.

Thank you for the wind when I've been hot this month; for bringing me the rain early this year. That was sweet of you, and kind. Thank you for the birds that you've sent to wake me at dawn, I know I've been ungrateful.  Thank you for the girl at Starbucks the other day who called me amiga and linda. I was reminded of things about you that I love. And, thank you for Alberto, our waiter at the pool the other day. He was a cutie.

Maybe more than anything else, thank you for teaching me Español. I promise to never lose it. I promise to fight like a mama bear so that my cubs don't lose it either. Thank you for being my home these past eight years, and for being the first home they've ever known. I promise also to always remind them of that. 

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Thank you for your anthem, and for your flag that my boys can spot from miles away, way up high, noble and proud. Thank you for trying to be better... we don't always see it, but I know you are. 

Thank you for the warm laguna to swim in, for the gentle waves at the beach. Thank you for the palm tree across the street and the limón tree on the corner. Thank you for the ripe cantaloupes and mangoes, and the trail into the canyon. Thank you for the Bosque, and for the Rio Caliente. 

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Thank you for the friends you've given me. The first in my life to truly be like family. Thank you for the memories. . .

I'll be forever thankful.

 

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thoughts on leaving a life.

How many times in a lifetime do you leave a life behind?

It's bittersweet, this time. The sounds and smells and textures and colors. The things. The piles of things that somehow at some point we thought we needed.  The goodbyes that I know are coming. {Oh, my heart.}  All of this that surrounds leaving a life behind. 

When I'm running, I'm looking around instead of down at my feet. I'm noticing the noise pollution, the construction on Mar Egeo, the sun through the trees on Pablo Neruda, the dogs out for walks on Montevideo. I'm not as annoyed when people don't hear me coming, or when I have to stop at an intersection, or by the broken pieces of sidewalk I have to jump over. It's all part of this city, this life.

My pantry is dwindling to nothing, suitcases are piled in the entryway gradually filling up to fifty pounds, the paper chain countdown hanging from the ceiling is too high for us to reach, the chains are so few now. When I see my sister on Friday at the airport, it's all going to become real. The ending that's the prerequisite to our new beginning. 

Listening to Rainer with our nanny in the other room, singing songs in Spanish, counting to 10, naming all of the colors of Hot wheels cars ... these are some of the most beautiful sounds in the world. My ears will miss Spanish. I know we will find it, over there, but I also know deep down it's never the same. 

Here and there. Different kinds of beauty, different challenges, different ups and different downs. In hindsight it will still be beautiful, and it will still be broken.

But, mostly beautiful. 

I'm not sure what direction this blog will go. I hope to keep writing; to document our journey from one life to the next, and the changes and growth that my boys endure. If you are in Mexico, I hope you stay in touch. And if you happen to find yourself in Hood River, let's be friends! 

running the pablo neruda hill this morning.

running the pablo neruda hill this morning.

hoping

In this very moment my husband, my other half, is waiting in the office of his potential future place of employment for his day-long interview/presentation/panel/observations. He's wearing his light gray pinstripe Express suit, probably a darker blue shirt and silver-toned tie. Black shoes. Black belt. He's got his shiny new MacBook Pro and his notes folded neatly in his pocket. He's rehearsing his introduction in his head that he's faithfully practiced 37 times. The next few hours will define the course of our lives. 

We've been down this road. The anticipation, excitement, plans made, homes googled, kindergarten applied for. And, then, the letdown. The shock. Not understanding why. I know in retrospect we will understand more and more, little by little. The puzzle will fall into place, and we'll look back and think, "Ahhh, yes." It wasn't meant to be.  We'll see those little details that we were blind to before. I hope.

One thing we learned from last time is it ain't over til the fat lady sings.  Of course, you can't help but hope and wonder and get all giddy about the possibilities. But, the truth of the matter is, you never know what they're thinking, do you? You never can understand or anticipate all the different factors being weighed in this crazy process of acceptance or rejection.

I hope he's not nervous. I hope he feels confident and ready and strong and smart. Because he is.  And he deserves this more than anyone I have ever known. 

 

 

interview with Rainer Marco

I found this "interview" on my phone that I had done with Rainer to document his 2 1/2 year old Favorites. But, then of course I forgot to post it, so here it is a few weeks late:

Favorite color: Pink!

Favorite food:  Fanfich  (sandwich)

Favorite movie:  Robots

Favorite toy:  Salo's 

Favorite game:  Rawr game

Favorite treat:  Chocolate! (oco - lot - tay)

Favorite car:  Car bue!  (blue car)

Favorite train:  Tomás

Favorite book:  Mommys

Favorite animal:  Rirraf.  No! Bacallo!  (giraffe/caballo)

Love this little man.


for ryan

"Mommy, can I hold your hand?" he whispers, as I lay in the dark beside him, waiting for the familiar and comforting heavy breathing. 

"Yes, always and forever." I slip my hand in his, and a brief 30 seconds later I feel his body twitch ever so slightly, and I smile.  He's going to be six this summer, and I know by now he should be able to sleep by himself in his own room, in his own bed. This is silly, I often think.  But the days where he needs me are numbered. 

As I laid awhile and held his hand, my thoughts wandered to 3 year old Ryan Cruz Saldana. I had just stumbled on his story through a photo on Instagram. On Friday he was tragically hit by a car in front of his cousin's house while running to retrieve a frisbee.  The thought of how it could have been Rainer... It could be me grieving.... I shuddered.

Just last week I was at the park with my boys. We were ready to go home for dinner and my arms were full, carrying bikes and water bottles.  Rainer ran a few meters ahead of me toward where our car was parked, across the street.

"Wait for me! Stop at the curb!" I felt a little tug in my heart to watch him closely. When he arrived to the curb, all of the sudden his little body stanced as if to run directly into the street. I literally screamed as loud as I could. It was instinct. My shout startled him and he stopped suddenly, giving me just enough time to reach him and grab him. 

A car was coming at just the right time and would have hit him. His tiny body was between two other parked cars, and the way the sun was shining, there is no way the driver would have seen him. My life could have crumbled in a split second. My heart pounded for a good while after the incident. It could happen to anyone, any one of us.

Ryan was an only child. The emptiness that is enveloping his parents cannot even be fathomed. His mommy has to endure Mother's Day without him, and it's heart-breaking. 

Let's pray for the Saldana's, and if you want, you can release red balloons on Sunday to show your support for his momma. Tag your pictures and posts #redballoonsforryan. You can also follow @redballoonsforryan on Instagram, where an auction is being held tomorrow (5/10) to raise money for the family's expenses.

Happy Mother's day, lovely friends. Love well, love often.