Spring and kids

Or is it summer? It’s hard to tell these days when the sun is hot on bare shoulders and the temperatures push into the 90’s. But the mornings are crisp and the coffee steams on my porch table. The evenings ask one to pull on a sweater and move dinner outside.

The kids will spend hours playing in the tree fort Ben built, swinging on a rope swing, or reading in the little Spring corner we created that gets just enough sunlight pouring through the honeysuckle and tree leaves. Often I find them clambering up and down and across Ben’s ladders and scaffolding set up. This is usually part of a game involving Nerf guns and swords and a mixed bag of characters: Darth Vader, Han Solo, Spiderman, The Flash, Elsa, Anna, Supergirl, and the occasional baby dinosaur. I get worried when they try to combine the costumes that go with these characters and the ladder climbing, but so far we have not had any accidents. They have only seen Frozen but somehow Star Wars and all the superheros are deeply in bedded in their imaginative play. They love to be read to and we are reading Pippi Longstocking and Mrs. Pigglewiggle along with library picture books and Ayden’s military aircraft and naval vessel books.

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Homeschooling is a continual challenge. We have good weeks and weeks when we don’t do anything structured at all. I blame our lack of routine on Liam who is completely unpredictable. Actually, for the last three weeks he has been predictably fussy, clingy, and will scream any time he is put down. It has forced me into using his nap time (which only happens if he is strapped to my body in a carrier) for doing laundry and dishes and transplanting desperate and dying seedlings into bigger pots. Occasionally I will bounce around with Liam and try to teach letters to the kids but it is exhausting for all of us. Both Ayden and Willow can read easy stories and are great at simple addition and subtraction. They are both so curious and love to be read to so I feel like as long as we keep that up we are in pretty good shape, right?

Our little home is slowly transforming before us. We now have three gardens, 5 chickens and a couple little chicks, and two tabby kittens: Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. The kids are learning about chores and love collecting eggs; we have lost many of them in the excitement. Tom and Huck are the newest addition. I have had to lock the poor kittens in the bathroom just to let them rest a while! Liam is fascinated by all the animals, loves to dig in dirt, and is generally always happy if he is riding high in someones arms outside. One of our chickens up and died a few weeks ago and with the help of some farming friends we butchered her and stuck her in the freezer: a stewing hen for a cool day. I feel now that we have butchered our own animal we can call our place a farm.

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Our family has been incredibly blessed with a community of friends who farm in a neighboring county. We met one couple at the local farmer’s market last year and before we knew it we were part of a lovely little potluck group that gets together every 2 weeks. The “core” group is four couples and together we have 8 kiddos and one on the way. Often other friends pop in to potluck and we have had as many as 14 kids on the grass eating sausages and strawberries! When we pull up to potluck, regardless of who is hosting, the children disappear and we don’t see them again until they are hungry. They climb trees, play with goat kids, run through the woods, swing on zip lines, bounce on trampolines, and jump on hay bales until we pack them into the car late that night. We tuck them into bed with grime under their nails, scratches on their knees, and dirt smudges on their faces.

Ayden is six and a half, Willow will be five in two weeks, and Liam just turned one. So hard to believe! In honor of Liam’s first birthday I finally wrote out his birth story and the link is at the very top of the page.

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update

Lili, the kids, and I made it across the country through sun, rain, snow, closed interstates, wrong directions, dinners with friends, and, finally, a 14 hour push to Great Grandma’s house in Missouri! The kids were troopers.

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We met up with my sister Camille and her husband Isaac and drove South for an exciting soiree to celebrate Lili’s engagement with Brian!

Driving East 057My brother, Tomas, is also here, so that makes 4 out of 5 siblings and let me tell you: anytime my family gets together the party starts! It was non-stop laughter all night! We missed everyone who couldn’t be there and the anticipation for Christmas just keeps growing even after I think there is no more room in my heart to hold all the excitement!

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siblings in bransonBen is driving South to Melaque with our new roaster and all the new gear. Communication is sketchy now but I know he made it across the boarder with no problem – thank you, Lord. Sigh of relief. I know there are other check points along the route and I am waiting impatiently for news…

less is more

I have felt a pleasant satisfaction with life recently. I am content in the pattern and routine that I told you about in the last post and I am enjoying the “change of seasons” which I am experiencing more in the mind and soul than in my actual surroundings. It is still extremely hot and humid during the day and the sun still glares down, like it did this afternoon, in a shaft of almost unbearable severity. Today even the ocean appeared to be annoyed with the sun’s persistent and unwavering glare. Everything about outside said heat. There was a steady breeze that was hot but made being out of doors bearable at least. We ate our curried fish and rice upstairs on the patio and it was pleasant enough – although we did comment more than once how tasty our white wine, thawing in the bottle on the table, was with the meal.

Still, in spite of the heat, I feel the color of the leaves changing and the apples and pumpkins and zucchini are piled on the counter of my mind. My nose feels the bite of a cold breeze and my body feels the pull toward a run with earmuffs on. Weird, huh? I am thoroughly loving it. And by “thoroughly” I mean that last night I made a pumpkin pie from scratch and put on some Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald, and Miles Davis – which in my mind are almost synonymous with the holiday season – and invited friends over for dessert and coffee.

I think that part of the reason for my relaxed attitude is the minimalistic style of life we are living at the moment. We are pouring all available funds into the house/cafe and until we get up and running we will not be bringing any cash in so we are being frugal where we can. One way is to limit those things we indulge in: chocolate, beer, wine, cheese, cigars. Another is to make the most of all the food that we buy. So I have been fermenting, souring, and preserving everything available! It’s like Little House on the Prairies in here! I am discovering new ways to spice up staples like beans, rice, lentils, oatmeal. All of it makes me feel good in a wholesome way. I feel a sense of accomplishment in making our supplies go as far as I can. It makes my heart happy to watch Ayden eating sauerkraut and fish and gulping down raw milk and beet kvass (I have yet to get the hubby on the beet kvass wagon). We all feel healthier with less wheat, sugar, and alcohol. And this comes at a good time since I am packing up to move to the Maya house and every time I pack I find things that we don’t need anymore. It is a season of less. But in this season, less is so much more.

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Day 1

The guys left early this morning for their trip to Guanajuato and Mexico City. Ayden and I sent them off with a thermos of coffee and a few tears. They are going to sight-see for a couple of days in the old, colonial city in the state that I grew up in, Guanajuato, then continue to the D.F. for a coffee expo where they will pick up some of the green coffee for this year’s season at La Taza Negra.

This is the first time that I will have the kids alone for an extended amount of time: five or six days. Today went pretty well. Willow slept in which allowed Ayden and I time to make some rolls, do some dishes, and play with a rope. When Willow woke up the rolls were coming out of the oven and they made a nice snack with our tea. I put Ayden in charge of pouring the milk and passing the buns and we made it all the way through without spilling milk anywhere other than down Ayden’s stomach!

I have a few special things up my sleeve for Ayden’s entertainment later this week.. One day down. So far so good.

There are days..

..when I feel that I just might not make it until bed time. (Especially these days when there is no guarantee of when Willow will decide to finally drop off to sleep!) But then something amazing happens, like a miracle right in front of my eyes begging to be recognized, and the day is redeemed.

Yesterday was one of those days. It was the second day in a row that Willow decided she didn’t need to nap. Oh, she catnapped really well, for all of 30 minutes at a time and only if she had constant motion. But she didn’t do her normal hour plus stretches. I didn’t realize how tiring it is to try to entertain two kids all day! Finally, I gave up on the lunch I had been trying to pull together all day and settled for a terribly boring pasta. I finished up the dishes and wiped down the counters, feeling more than ready to crawl into my comfy bed right then and there. Ben suggested we head to the beach and because I could think of nothing better to do while holding a baby I agreed to go. I sat on a log grumpily staring out at the waves and watching Ayden play with his monster truck in the sand. People walked by smiling at the beautiful, white babies and their mother and I tried to pretend I didn’t see them. I was not in the frame of mind to hold a conversation with a humming bird let alone a human being.

Ayden started walking away down the beach following Ben and Alex who were drifting east with the pull of the waves. I collected the monster truck and my water bottle and followed. A friend of Ayden’s showed up and they started playing in the sand and finally my coldness started to melt as I watched Ayden’s laughing face. Willow woke up and started grinning and Ben started showing off his best body surfing moves while I tried to get a good picture. By the time the sun had set I was feeling more positive. Then the miracle occurred.

As we were walking back in the dusky afterglow of the sunset we literally stumbled onto three little sea turtles crawling from their nest under the sand. There they were! Digging up through the sand getting their very first glimpse of the sun, the first breath of fresh sea air. We drew enough attention to them that others arrived and decided the baby turtles needed help getting out. Soon a hole a foot deep and 35 or 50 turtles were paddling their way through the sand to the ocean. I’m not convinced that they needed us to interfere but that is what they got and as we set them in the wet sand with the vicious waves crashing and threatening just a few feet away I thought to myself, “Is this really my life?”

And I thought it was going to be ‘just another day’… I am so blessed.

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A break

A break is what I have been waiting for.

We took a break with some dear friends who had been away for the summer on Friday night and enjoyed the sunset and sea breeze in Barra. Although, I think all of us would have welcomed something more akin to a gale than a breeze; we were sweating!

We received a welcome break in the weather yesterday when the clouds in our mostly cloudy sky burst open and poured down rain on us all afternoon! Ayden was jumping around the kitchen unsure if he should be afraid or enthralled by the thunder. It didn’t take long for him to connect the flash with the coming thunder and it was fun to watch him wait for the loud crack or low, long rumble. Willow napped really well with the noise of the rain pounding on the tarp outside. We slept comfortably last night.

Today Willow woke up in a dark mood! Yesterday she was a little bit more needy than normal but today she has fussed or complained throughout her time spent awake – which hasn’t been much, actually. She has slept most of the day, though rather fitfully. We are rocking and cuddling her. She wants to nurse but doesn’t want to nurse then loses interest. She will be three months on Wednesday and my guess is that she has hit a growth spurt and is simply a bit uncomfortable. We’ll see how she is when she wakes up. She is napping well right now and so is Ayden – a tall glass of ice water and a nice break.

I feel that my mind has been full up for the last few days. Do you ever get that feeling like you need to find a quiet, beautiful place and just sit there and stare, doing nothing and trying to think of nothing? The ocean has always been that place for me. When I didn’t live near the ocean it was times like this that I yearned for it the most. When trying to make sense of the jumble of noise in my head.

I need the sea because it teaches me.
I don’t know if I learn music or awareness, if it’s a single wave or its vast existence, or only its harsh voice or its shining suggestion of fishes and ships.
The fact is that until I fall asleep, in some magnetic way I move in the university of the waves.

Pablo Neruda, The Sea

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