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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Ciudad de los Niños

One thing that made our Stripped Down Christmas possible, was that when we approached the children with the whole we're-not-going-to-be-exchanging-any-presents-this-Christmas thing, they seemed to embrace the idea of it, especially when we told them that we were going to be giving to a local orphanage instead.  We explained that we'd go shopping and get them some things the orphanage needed while we were there, and if possible, we'd all go in person and visit the orphanage to deliver our the goods to them.  In the spirit of Christmas, it's all about giving, right?  
We were overjoyed that none of our children even hesitated with their answer.  Yes, they wanted to forgo their own gifts and give.  They wanted to visit the orphanage and see what it was like and were willing to not receive gifts.  So they seemed to really be okay with the whole better is to give than receive, right?  But 'cause I'm a mama, I worried wondered, would they really embrace it when Christmas morning came and their really was a lack of gifts under the tree?  Can they embrace it when they are 15, and 11, and 6 years old?  I kept reminding them of plans as December rolled along and sharing my pride and enthusiasm for our upcoming Christmas plans.  
As we soon found out on the morning of December 25th and 2 days later when we went to visit Ciudad de los Niños, that oh yes, the children got it.  And the embraced it.  And my heart swelled more than I thought was possible.  
I'll blame it on packing and traveling with a LOT of kiddos, but it didn't dawn on me till the day before, that our orphanage visit might trigger some deeper issues for our little ones.  After all, they hadn't been in such a setting since VietNam and China.  I reached out and Facebook and want to say thank you so much to all of you that replied with some great suggestions to help prepare both them and me for our visit.  I prepped them the best I could.  
Once we were there, we painted some nails some really fabulous shades of pink and blue and with lots and lots glitter of course.
 The big boys played soccer.  
The big girls scooped up the little ones and stuck out their tongues.  Tongue sticking out seems to be a universal language. 
We blew bubbles and tried our best to coax out some smiles.  
One thing was very apparent to me, that Ciudad de los Niños is a family.  We were outsiders in their home. Orphanages and the people within them, make their own new families, knitted together from many different places.  
And it was a personal blessing to me to feel this.  
Not sure if it was because I prepped my little kiddos or maybe I never needed to in the first place, but I had a talk that evening with Tess, Jude and Mimi as I tucked them into bed.  They seemed to understand where they had been and just what it was; a home for children whose first families couldn't take care of them.  
A family.  
A new family.  
Yes, just like "Bietnam" Tess.  
And he following morning Jude asked if we could please go back soon to visit with his new friends some more. 
And with that I knew Stripped Down Christmas 2013 was a success for us all, in more ways than I had even hoped for.  


  1. That's so nice! What part of Mexico were you in? How does one find out about where the orphanages are located? I'd like to take my dear daughters from China down there in the spring. :)

    1. We were in Mazatlan, Deborah. My in-laws spend a good deal of time there, and they asked around and eventually found a contact. It was kinda just good luck and asking the right people. It was a WONDERFUL experience that I would highly recommend!

  2. How are you just am amateur and not a pro?! You are so much better than the professional photographer who did our family portraits.
    Wish i lived in AZ so we could have sunshine & family portraits by you!


    1. Well Mara, I think you're my new best friend! THANK YOU! I'm actually in the process of starting a business to do a very few paid sessions. Wish me luck and thank you so much for you vote of confidence!


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