As Julia sat on the computer 'researching' her facts I dug into the closets and brought out all of our Guatemalan treasures. Both girls were drawn to my bed as I open each bag and drew out the many items we had purchased at the markets in Antigua and Chichicastenango.
One bag contains the most special items of all...the outfits and toys that the girls had with them when they were put in our arms for the first time!!! Mari twisted and turned her teddy bear with it's rattle in the tummy as she bemoaned the unfair nature of the clothing. You see, Mari was almost 3 years old when we were finally made a family and her foster family had dressed her in denim overalls and her shoes were clearly left over from her foster brother Benjamin!!! At only 7 months old, Julia was still a tiny baby and her foster family brought her to the hotel all decked out in a traditional traje with adorable baby sandals.
Now I had always planned to make a shadow box of their little outfits so this seemed like a good time to get started! Pouring salt into the wound I started with Julia's for the simple reason that it could get double duty as a 'museum' item for her project as well as a 'memory' item for our family. As I opened the huipil and prepared to iron it I found a tiny little spot where Julia must have burped up some milk....the memories were almost overwhelming!!! How long has it been since I've had to spot clean the neckline of a baby's shirt??? Then the heat of the iron released a strong smell from the falda...the pungent smell of burnt wood filled my nose. In that instant I was standing back in Guatemala!!!! I could so strongly remember that smell of burning wood as we traveled around the country. All afternoon as I worked on the shadow box I relived those precious days in a country that means so much to this family. As I gaze I the finished product I must agree with the scientist who first noted that the sense of smell is the strongest trigger of memories!