The space explorers meet the Borg

Borg and waffles

On nights when I am home from work, I tell the kids stories before bed. Because they are divided among two rooms, I usually tell two stories.

The first story is for Josie and Joseph, and usually involves me making up something about the two of them as “space explorers,” visiting new planets or meeting aliens or trying to escape from black holes.

The second story is for Jadzia and Ludi, who prefer to have an improv-style story in which they each pick a character for the story (like “a good dragon” and “a bad lamp”) and I have to make up the rest.

Occasionally, though, the older girls will overhear the younger kids’ story and ask me to repeat it for them. Tonight was one such night.

So, I give you a story of an encounter between the space explorers … and the Borg.


Once upon a time, there were two space explorers named Josie and Joseph.

One day they came across the Borg.

“We are the Borg. You will be assimilated. We will add your technological and biological distinctiveness to our own. Resistance is futile.”

“Oh no!” said Joseph. “We have to escape!”

“You cannot escape. Resistance is futile,” said the Borg.

“Oh no!” said Josie. “They can hear us!”

“How can we defeat the Borg?” asked Joseph. “Maybe we could use a slingshot.”

“No, that won’t work,” said Josie. “Maybe we could dump water on them?”

“No, that won’t work,” said Joseph.

Then the space explorers both exclaimed: “We can make poison waffles!”

And so, they made five million poison waffles, and called the Borg.

“Oh Booooooooooooorg,” they said. “Are you hungry?”

“We are the Borg,” said the Borg.

“Are you huuuuungry?”

“Well, yes. We are hungry.”

“Why don’t you beam over here, then?”

And so, all the Borg beamed over, and Josie and Joseph gave them waffles to eat.

Then the Borg became very sick. They all beamed back to their cube, and so the two space explorers turned on warp speed.

They had escaped!

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Remembering Yolanda Salinas Hess

I was surprised this morning to see an obituary in the Post-Dispatch for Yolanda Salinas Hess. I wanted to share a little bit about her brief, but bright, impact on my life.

It started one morning late in Oct. 2002, when my dad told me to read an article in the Post-Dispatch about a new Hispanic bookstore that was opening in St. Ann. He said it had mentioned something about selling Bolivian music.

I read the story and headed over to “Librería Cultura Hispana” to see what sorts of Bolivian things they might have. I didn’t count on meeting a live, Bolivian person.

But that’s just what happened. Almost as soon as I entered the store, a woman descended on me and began chatting. Her name was Yolanda.

She was a whirlwind, extracting information from me: she learned about my Bolivian novia Yoli, and she learned that I designed websites. She told me excitedly that she was from Bolivia, but from La Paz in the highlands. Almost before I knew what was happening, she had talked me into designing a website for the bookstore.

I later sent an email to Yoli recounting my fateful meeting with Yolanda. Here’s how I described it:

She told me “Women from Santa Cruz are so beautiful.” I think she is right! Also, she said that “Bolivian women are like honey, they just stick to you, you never forget them.” … Anyway, she said I should come to her house some time.. She moved to the U.S. when she married an American man. She said it wasn’t easy because of the differences, but that it was worth it. … she also said sometime I should go to this meeting of Bolivians who live in St. Louis. She is going to bring another book about Bolivia to the store, and I will pick it up this weekend.

I spent the next several months working with the store’s owner to make a website. Over that time, I was in touch with Yolanda, too. She told me she had been a silent investor in the store. Unfortunately, the business didn’t last long. This would come back to bite me later.

In Dec. 2002 and Jan. 2003, I was preparing to travel for the first time to Santa Cruz, Bolivia. Yolanda acted as a travel agent and secured the cheapest tickets possible. She recommended that I not eat too many lomito sandwiches and that I try some cuñapes.

Of course, this proved to be the most pivotal trip of my life. Yoli and I got engaged, and I needed to buy rings. But around the time we were looking at rings, a problem arose: somehow I had overdrawn my account. Among the reasons was that the bookstore owner had failed to wire me payment while I was in Bolivia for half of what he owed me for the website, which he had promised to do. Obviously there was little I could do thousands of miles away, so Yolanda helped pressure the owner to keep this promise. But she went further, knowing that he might not come through in time. Yolanda deposited what I needed in my bank account and that made all the difference. She went to great lengths for me over the small amount I was owed, when in fact, I believe she was owed much, much more herself.

Yolanda was well-connected to St. Louis’ various international groups. In 2004, a man was organizing a big World’s Fair Centennial Celebration in Forest Park. Yolanda was part of that, and she brought me in to build the event’s website. In fact, the more I think about it, I realize that almost every small-business Hispanic website I did in those early years can be traced back to that one fateful meeting with Yolanda. The websites are long gone, but Yolanda’s impact remains.

Yolanda was a founding member of the St. Louis Bolivian Society, and of course she invited Yoli and me to their events. Because of my work schedule, we couldn’t often participate. But we did enjoy attending many of the Society’s Easter Sunday celebrations. We looked forward to visiting with Yolanda, who was always warm and welcoming to us.

As our family grew and our lives got busier, we saw Yolanda less and less, but we did stay in touch. She once told me “I remember how I met you a long time ago and I still think of you as the young man with no ties. Look at you now, a great dad and wonderful husband.”

I’m sad to know she’s gone. We will miss her.

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Jadzia: Monarchs, part 1

A monarch butterfly sits on one of our milkweed plants. Photo by Jadzia.

A monarch butterfly sits on one of our milkweed plants. Photo by Jadzia.

(The following story and photos are by Jadzia)

What’s white, black and orange all over? A monarch! This is about Muncher … and another creature.

Chapter 1: In The Beginning

In the begining God created the heavens and the earth. Millions of years later, I go to Mrs.

Spurlock’s class. The first project we worked on was Monarchs. In a mesh was a milkweed plant with monarch caterpillars in it. We watched and studied them. Later, we tagged and let loose Buddy. One week later we voted on names for two butterflies. The winning names were “Jerica” and “Josephina.” We tagged them and let them loose.

Chapter 2: Milkweed

We went to the farmers market and at a booth named “Missouri Natives” I saw a plant. A green-stemed, pink-flowered plant. A swamp milkweed. I begged my mom to buy us one. We did. But my mom thought the winter killed the plant, so next year we bought another one. Turns out our other milkweed didn’t die, so this summer after our vacation we had flowers.

Chapter 3: Arrival Of The Monarch

One day we found a monarch. I didn’t remember the difference beetween a male monarch and a female monarch, so I called the monarch “Melanie.” Later I found out that it was mostly boys coming, I switched to “Mister M.” I took many, many photos of the monarch. Once when I was going to school with Ludi and Josie we saw a monarch.

A monarch butterfly sits on one of our milkweed plants. Photo by Jadzia.

Photo by Jadzia.

A monarch butterfly sits on one of our milkweed plants. Photo by Jadzia.

Photo by Jadzia.

Chapter 4: A Monarch Horror Story

One day when I was taking out the recycling can, I saw a wing. A ripped apart, broken wing. A ripped apart, broken monarch wing. Ludi, who was taking out the trash, saw it too. There were three pieces of wing. One had a head on it. I burst into the house and told Mama. We came out and buried it in front of our other milkweed. My mom told me a Bible verse too. I was still devastated, but I felt a teeny-weeny bit better.

Chapter 5: Meet Muncher!

One regular, ordinary, all-average day, I checked for monarch eggs. Instead, I found a monarch caterpillar. I took a picture and showed my dad, mom, sister, sister, and brother. I told my friend, Jossie, about it. I could only think about Muncher.

Chapter 6: Missing: Muncher

When we were walking back from school I mentioned muncher. My dad said that muncher wasn’t on the plant. When I got back, I found it was true. Later my mom and I searched the ground. My mom found him on a leaf of another plant. We brought him in and we set him in a baby doll cradle with white paper and newspaper, plus milkweed.

Chapter 7: Not a dead hummingbird!

One day I saw something. A curved shape. I looked to see what it was, thinking it might be a dead hummingbird. When I checked, I saw another caterpillar! I took him into the house and shouted, “Meet Cruncher!” Cruncher and Muncher live together and will for as long as I can think of.

Until the future, The End.

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Video: Meet Muncher, our baby Monarch caterpillar

A monarch butterfly sits on one of our milkweed plants. Photo by Jadzia.

A monarch butterfly sits on one of our milkweed plants. Photo by Jadzia.

(The following story and video are by Yoli)

Our milkweeds have attracted a lot of butterflies. It’s given a lot of joy to my kids, especially Jadzia. But a few days ago she found a dead Monarch butterfly. She was devastated. I had never performed a butterfly funeral or prayed for them, but it comforted my daughter’s tender heart.

Enter Muncher. Wednesday morning, Jadzia found a Monarch caterpillar. She had been looking forward to finding some. We looked for more caterpillars, or perhaps eggs, but found only this one. She named it Muncher.

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Josie’s last day of preschool

Don Héctor and Doña Lucila arrived late last night, and rose early this morning. Our first day together had a busy itinerary.

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The craziness before the storm

I found Josie coloring Joseph with blue chalk outside. Joseph had stripped to his underwear.

I found Josie coloring Joseph with blue chalk outside. Joseph had stripped to his underwear.

It’s T-minus 8 hours to the arrival of my suegros from Bolivia. They’ll arrive late tonight and stay at our house for three weeks.

Much has happened today:

A surprise airport reunion.

A little boy who turned blue.

A trip to Grant’s Farm.

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“We didn’t forget you. We ran miles just to get back to you.”


Wednesday night is church night at the Renaud Empire. We take our kids to AWANA where they play fun games and memorize Bible verses. We usually go to the service except for the one week a month when we serve in AWANA as parent volunteers.

Tonight I thought it would be fun for Yoli and I to use our short time away from the kids for a mini date night. It had been a long week for me at work. Tuesday and Wednesday are usually my weekend, but I had worked overtime on Tuesday for election night. The weather was nice, and it seemed like a little one-on-one time was just what we needed.

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Thanksgiving in Rolla

Ludi and London

Ludi and London

This year it worked out that I didn’t have to work on Thanksgiving. So we headed to down for a two-day celebration at my brother Justin’s. My youngest brother Jon still had to work Thanksgiving, but he and his wife Brittney were able to join us Thursday evening.

It was fun to have everyone together. The kids had lots of fun playing, we busted out the Jaguar for an NBA Jam tournament, we ate a lovely meal, we watched the Cowboys pull off a win, and we all got home safely again.

I’m thankful for such a nice Thanksgiving.

I didn’t photograph exhaustively, but here’s a slideshow of a few fun moments:

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A weekend away from it all

For many years we have relied on camera timers to take self-portraits. It took a while to get this one right.

For many years we have relied on camera timers to take self-portraits. It took a while to get this one right.

It’s been 10 years of wedded bliss for Yoli and me!

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Ten years


we wrote letters
	and raked leaves

we pleaded 
	and prayed

we vowed in Santa Cruz
	and signed in Coral Gables

we made
	babies and bunuelos

we gained 
	family and friends 
	and facebook

we lost 
	tios and tias 
	and little Jubilee

we endured
	tornados and tantrums
	surazos and suegros

we watched
	Petra and parades

we explored
	D.C. and Del Rio
	Copacabana, Cotoca
	San Antonio, Samaipata

we saved
	and we spent

we loved
	and we left

we gave 
	and we grew

from just me and you
	to those four and us two

vows and visas
looks and laughs
tea and tears 
ten times ten
let us love 
and again
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