Sunday, July 3, 2011


He was nearing the end of his shift at The Nordic and was supposed to be counting the money with his co-worker, whom happened to be his best friend. The two of them sat with wandering eyes as green dollars passed through their fingers one by one. He kept glancing at a particular girl in the cafeteria, when finally his ADD wouldn't let him count any more. Letting his co-worker finish the task, he walked confidently up to the girl who was simply trying to eat a bagel and study for an American History test. The two of them exchanged small talk, along with flirtatious smiles and giggles. Two hours later, she walked home with his button bracelet, butterflies in her stomach, and great anticipation for a date to follow that night. As the two of them played soccer later that evening, which was mostly him showing off, they exchanged even more flirtatious touching and giggles. They fell in love, spent every day together, and the rest is history.

It reads magical, right? Yet, one thing made this couple unique from many other relationships. She was White and he was Latino. Although many would argue that race does not matter, being in an interracial relationship brings both struggles and happiness.

Welcome to ICSG, also known as, Interracial Couples Support Group. Let me start off with my personal definition of an interracial couple. An interracial couple consists of two people from different ethnic or racial backgrounds. Asian, White, Black, Hispanic, etc. The possibilities of multi-racial couples are endless. Over the past four years, David and I have developed very deep, lasting relationships with several interracial couples which brings me to this idea of creating an Interracial Couples Support Group. As we have come to grow with each couple, several issues pop out that would be great topics to address at our ICSG nights.
  • Communication: I recognize that all couples struggle with communication. However, interracial couples share similar struggles in communication due to their different cultural/ethnic backgrounds. He speaks Spanish and she speaks English. What is he saying when he is on the phone with his family and friends? (I wish I could understand better.) With the language barrier comes many misunderstandings. With shared values, however, they can be worked through.
  • Citizenship: Many couples we have grown close to are facing the struggles of applying for residency. Our personal experience has been very challenging at times, although God has truly helped us through it.
  • Discrimination: Growing up, it seemed there was pressure from various leaders to marry someone the same race as me in order to avoid different cultural differences that are hard to work through. I believe if both people share similar values, especially religious values, these differences can be worked through more easily than those not sharing same religious values.
  • Mixed babies: I have several names picked out for our children that we hope God will bless us to have someday. However, I fear that our kids might be treated differently when their teacher reads off two last names instead of one. Will my girl with a more American-sounding name be treated differently than her brother with a clearly Latino-sounding name? Will our babies have identify issues? Will they struggle to learn both languages?
  • Traditions: Many couples grew up with different traditions. For example, David grew up celebrating Christmas by staying up all night on Christmas Eve and opening presents at midnight. I, however, was forced to go to bed and wait till everyone woke up to open presents. This isn't so much as a challenge, as it is something fun to talk about at ICSG.
Asian. White. Black. Hispanic. Do race and ethnicity matter when it comes to relationships and marriage? Apparently race is mattering less these days. I found a statistic from the Pew Research Center, who report that nearly one out of seven new marriages in the U.S. is interracial or interethnic. Interracial couples are growing, and I am so grateful for my support system!

I think we are drawn to things that are different from us. I am so grateful that boy in the Nordic got distracted and disturbed my studying four years ago. It is so much fun to be married to someone from another culture. It makes life so much more interesting and vivid. We don't focus on our ethnicity as much as we do on our values and commonalities.

(I think my next support group will be: WTTTH, also known as, Women Taller Than Their Husbands! Another important support group! jk)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


The majority of people are familiar with the slogan - Adidas - which is an acronym that stands for "All day I dream about soccer."

David has a slogan too - All Day Daveed Dreams About Soccer. I am still amazed at the amount these Colombians can eat, drink, and sleep "soccer." If David is not playing in a game on the soccer field, he is playing in a virtual game of FIFA on the PS3. If he is not playing soccer on the video game, he is watching a game on tv. If he is not watching a game on tv, he is watching the highlights of a game on his laptop. And if he is not watching highlights, he is reading about the highlights from an online news article.
Yes, A.D.D.A.S. All Day Daveed Dreams About Soccer. Doesn't it get tiring, my dear?

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Sacrifice of One Seahorse

Seahorses are unique creatures. Not only do they swim upright, unlike most other fish, they are also monogamous and mate for life. Even more unique, they are among the only animal species on Earth in which the male bears the unborn young.

They are mainly found in shallow tropical and temperate waters throughout the world. These fish form territories, with males staying in about 1 square meter of their habitat while females range about one hundred times that area. They bob around in sea grass meadows, mangrove stands, and coral reefs where they adopt murky brown and gray patterns to camouflage themselves among the sea grass. During social moments or in unusual surroundings, seahorses turn bright colors (according to my friend, Wikipedia).

My brother, Brock, is a seahorse.

Each male seahorse has a brood pouch in which the female seahorse deposits her eggs into his pouch. From then, he carries the eggs until they emerge, expelling baby seahorses from his pouch into the water. Once the seahorse babies are released into the water, the male's role is done and he offers no further care.

Likewise, Brock is a unique creature. Like the seahorse, he turns bright colors in social moments. In addition, not only has he entered into a monogamous relationship with his wife, he also rears his children. Brock calls himself Mr. Mom. In fact, he has his own theme song which goes a little something like this:

"Mr. Mom,
"He's got it going on.
"Mr. Mom,
"He's pouring bottles all night long."

(It's cooler when he sings it.)

Brock's interpretation of the male seahorse is that the father explodes as soon as the babies are released into the water and dies. Unlike the seahorse, Brock did not deteriorate when his baby seahorses were born. Rather, he flourished.

I remember one afternoon as I walked home from the school bus stop, I passed through our garage to see the window smashed in on a gray spray-painted, Subaru Brat. As I entered the house there was a bright, blinking, red light on the phone. It was a message from someone that my brother was in the hospital. I still remember as I sat next to Maxi and Kelly on the restaurant booth-like seats, my dad describing how bipolar disorder was like a roller coaster. He used his hands to demonstrate moods rapidly going up and back down like the stomach turning Space Mountain at Disney World. Eyes glazed and head pounding, I still remember staring into the colorful fish tank of the waiting room as I tried to grasp the intensity and reality of what was going on from my dad's description.

I remember actually going into the psychiatric ward where they put my brother in a cold, concrete room. Wearing gray sweats and doped up on lithium or some other mood stabilizer, I remember staring at my brother not knowing what to think. Would he recover in a few weeks like he did when he broke his arm?

I was in the sixth grade when this happened. I remember because I was reading The Hobbit and when we went to visit him again I brought in my book. Brock took it from me and started to read the first page of the introduction. He started to underline irregular words and sparked up a conversation that was way too deep for an adult, let alone a sixth grader. He was in another world that day. A world doped up on meds. A world that I hope he or no one else will ever have to endure again.

I can't remember how long he stayed in that facility. Years following his rock bottom moment, Brock ventured on the long road to finding the right medications and lifestyle.

Brock is a seahorse. He is a warrior. I don't know that anyone will ever understand what it is like to battle this mental impairment. Even though I have studied bipolar disorders and other mood disorders, I still can't comprehend what it would be like to battle daily highs and lows. Brock is not like that lithium-doped up person that I saw years ago. He is much better and now has a beautiful wife and two beautiful children. I remember when Maxwell was born I asked Brock, "What is the best part of being a father?" He responded, "I feel like I have a purpose now."

As illustrated in his drawing above, Brock compares his life to a seahorse. But unlike a male seahorse whose role is done when the babies are born, Brock continues to offer care to his baby seahorses. Brock is Mr. Mom. He is Mister Seahorse as Eric Carle so beautifully illustrated. I love what an amazing father, husband, and brother he has become. Bright or dull colors, I am grateful he is in my life.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Radical Acceptance

At what point in a marriage does either person stop caring? At what point does the woman or man decide to "let go" of her or himself and one morning come to find themselves with a double chin, belly bulge, and cellulited butt cheeks? At what point does the woman just stop caring about putting on makeup in the morning and looking pretty for her hubby like she once used to when they were dating? At what point does the competition to please each other stop? No more spontaneous dates, no more flowers, no more long talks followed by passionate kisses.
As I start to think of these questions, I am very scared of this happening. Have I already let myself go? I know at times my double chin appears, my tummy pokes out, and my bum looks like there was a hail storm. Maybe that's a little dramatic, but my fear is there. Have I stopped trying? Do I have an anxious concern for the well-being of my hubby everyday? Some days I feel like there is a volcano in my tummy just waiting to erupt. The slightest move of the tectonic plates inside me could set me off and like a manic bi-polar I just go-go-go until I hit a wall.
Tonight was one of those nights when my brain would not stop circling. Staring blankly into space, I caught my eyes captured in a zone that I often forget exists. Bystanders stretched and ran around me as I sulked in my aura. And here is a picture of my thoughts:

Two circles intersecting just like this. And because of my lack of artistic abilities, please imagine the word "Me" in the circle on the left, the word "You" in the circle on the right, and the word "Us" in between the area that the two circles share. Tonight I was reminded as I stared off into space how marriage is like this illustration.
There is me-time, him-time, and us-time. There needs to be a balance between independence and dependence. Not only do we need to feel like each other is needed in the relationship, we both need time apart to grow as individuals. For example, I need Daveed to provide for the family as I have learned fathers and husbands ought to. I need Daveed to tell me I'm beautiful. I need Daveed to scratch my back. I need Daveed to fix things around the house. On the flip side, I'm guessing that Daveed needs me to also provide for the family. He needs me to cook dinner. He needs me to compliment him and give him attention. This is "us-time." This is us showing our dependence on one another.
The part I am struggling with tonight is me-time and him-time. Tonight I desperately needed a running buddy. I asked Daveed earlier this morning if he would be mine later tonight. However, it did not turn out like my mind wanted it to. What happened to his desire to run with me when we were dating? He used to always run with me when we were dating, why not as much anymore? Was he only doing that to get my attention and to court me and now that he's got me he doesn't have to run with me anymore?
One thing I do in my job is teaching my clients emotion regulation skills. (Side note: some days I feel like I need these skills more than my clients). One of the skills we emphasize is "Radical Acceptance." This skill is all about focusing on what you can control and letting go of what you can't. It's taking a situation that may not be the way you want it and saying, "It is what it is," and dealing with it appropriately. Although the volcano in my tummy wanted to spit out lava tonight, I decided a more appropriate response would be to stare off in space and remind myself of this marriage illustration. Neither one of us is "letting go." (I had to take a deep breath and realize that). Tonight I had to radically accept that Daveed does still care about me, but that he just needed "him-time" and I had to adjust appropriately. It was a sad epiphany, but much needed. I'm sure there will be us-time to run another day.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Three Pizzas Later

Guilt: a feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offense, crime, or wrong. I feel guilty.
Yesterday I had two ginormous pieces of STUFFED pizza from Papa Murphy's. Afterward I felt so stuffed that I felt like my stomach was going to get punctured from expanding into my ribs. I was in pain, needless to say. One piece would have been more than enough.
Then again tonight, as if I didn't learn my lesson, I had three pieces of pizza from Dominoe's pizza. These pieces were not as big as yesterdays, but two pieces would have been more than enough, if not one. Following my third pizza (which I only ate to have the flavor in my mouth and because everyone else was still eating), I ate a mug full of LIGHT mint chocolate chip ice cream. I thought to myself, "It's light! Less calories, more healthy, right?"
I came home disgusted with myself so I went to the gym to work it off. As I ran for half an hour I watched the calories ascend on my treadmill. Ten minutes of running worked off the first half of the first pizza. Was it worth it? No. While running, I imagined my thighs thunder like those of an elephant. I wished I had only had one piece of pizza. Why is it that pizza sounds so good anyway? There is nothing healthy about the pound of cheese, buttery crust, or sodium-soaked pepperoni.

Tonight I made a vow to myself as I ran in guilt and pain on the treadmill: eat in moderation and beware of mindless eating. Next time I will eat one piece instead of three. Next time when my body tells me, "That's sufficient," I will stop before I'm full and ready to explode.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Forgotten Chore

Growing up we had dogs. The one dog I remember most was Jack. He was a beautiful chocolate lab and very calm. He would play hard and then nap even harder. Growing up we also had chores. We had to feed Jack, take him on walks, and most dreaded of all . . . pick up his poop. That's one thing I forgot when we decided to adopt Coco in November.

The past winter was brutal as Rexburg winters usually are. We were faced with the predictable fierce blizzards, black ice, knee deep snow, below zero temperatures, and blasting winds. Now four months and forty pounds later, our not so little puppy has reminded us of the forgotten chore. The snow has melted and like grenades on a war field, an atomic bomb has exploded in the field by our apartment.

Let me paint the canvas for you a little further. We did not pick up any poo this winter due to volatile winter conditions. Coco pooped on average four times a day. Times that by 30 days and then times that by another 4 months and we just reached approximately 480 landmines waiting to be stepped on and explode. Now subtract a few landmines that other dogs ate, a few more that were evaporated into the air, and then add on a few more extraneous piles from other anonymous dogs in our complex.

So with spring comes spring cleaning and today David and I each filled a grocery bag full of poop that looked just like the image above times by approximately 480. We both easily picked up more than 10 pounds each of this winters happenings, and that was just the start. I wanted to take a picture to show evidence, but my desire to wash my hands in hot water with lots of soap for five minutes was stronger. This was not a memory I did not want to cherish nor document.

With fun comes work and I forgot that this winter. Those cute brown puppy eyes just whined, "Take me home!" and I did not think about the 480 piles of poop I would have to clean up come spring. I guess the scripture applies to dogs as well:
"For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have" (2 Nephi 28:30).

If we would have picked up Coco's poop daily - here a little and there a little - then we probably wouldn't be having to pick up 20 plus pounds of poop this spring. Although this was not fun, I am so grateful for Coco. He got me through this harsh, depressing winter. Coco is butter on my toast, the cherry on my ice cream. He brought warmth to all those blizzardy days, and smiles to my frostbitten lips. He is worth it!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

My Latina Obsession

I know we're not supposed to have idols, but I have one . . . Shakira. Here are a few things I like about her:
  • Her unique voice
  • Her voluminous hair
  • Her versatile fashion
  • Her spunky music videos
  • Her radiant confidence
  • Her riped abs
Watching her videos gets me all motivated to go work out in hopes to get her rock hard body. Listening to her music makes me feel like I'm a sexy Colombian. Pathetically,some days I even style my hair with a 3 barrel iron because I want to try to get Shakira's voluminous hair, even though Daveed hates it.

My most recent music video obsession is Loca! This music video screams spontaneity and fun! I love the beat and her dancing. I only wish I could understand more Spanish so I could sing-a-long better! For now, I will just dance.