Evolution

Live the life you love, love the life you live.

~Bob Marley

 

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Photo credit Wendy Dechambeau

 

Happy First Birthday Marley Jo Geer.  You share a birthday with your Grandma Teresa, and that means the world to me. A day that was once one of sadness has turned into one of the best days of my life.  I can only imagine that this was her way of saying “I see you guys and I’m looking out for you.”

Some would argue that this was supposed to be one of the most challenging years of my life trying to care for a baby, a 2 year old, and a 3 year old. It certainly wasn’t a walk in the park, but after going through the “terrible two’s” twice now, and having a “threenager” I think maybe the next couple, or the teenage years, may give it a run for it’s money. Please, I’m begging you, take it easy on me.

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Before this year I never really understood the saying “The days are long, but the years are short.”  Really everything seemed so long, but this year has flown by in my mind.  Maybe because everything was moving so fast. Your brother and sister always on the move, never ending work and tasks to be done around the farm or house, and you Marley, just seemed so completely content to be along for the ride. You have been the happiest baby.

 

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Riding floppy. Photo credit Wendy Dechambeau

 

You grab attention and hold it anywhere you go.  From the time that you were a tiny baby you find and lock gazes with me or anyone you want attention from.  A quality I hope you keep, but guard well as you grow.  The world is a scary place my dear and I think that you will gather attention wherever you go.  My dream for you is that you use that attention to make the world a better place.

 

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Photo credit Wendy Dechambeau

 

This year we really found our village here.  People went from close friends to family.  They were all here for us.  To help with your brother and sister when I needed a break 9 months pregnant, to keeping us going when you and your sister were in the hospital with pneumonia, even volunteering to brave all three of you so I could have an afternoon with your daddy.  Life without them would have been much more challenging, and there wouldn’t have been as much fun or love.  I’m so grateful you have so many people who love you and protect you.

 

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Tracy and tiny Marley on one of the days Tracy came out to give us a hand.

 

 

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Our Christmas cookie exchange party.

 

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Nancy and Caroline admiring our tiny tree.

 

 

 

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All dressed up like Nancy.

 

And while I am so proud of myself for surviving this first year with all of us fairly unscathed, it is bittersweet for me.

I’m already missing our newborn days together, but watching you start to explore and be in command of your own choices is thrilling.  You already know how to play.  You love to zoooooommmm your cars just like your big brother, and cuddle and take care of your stuffed animals and babies just like your big sister. You adore water, playing in sand, and eating dirt (trying to anyways) and do the best Chris Farley impression.

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Photo Credit Wendy Dechambeau

 

 

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All my girls. One of our first days together.

 

I won’t feel a tiny human move inside my belly again. I won’t again know the anticipation of what a new baby will look like, or the giant decision of what in the world to name another human. But my body is mine again, and it can start to return to it’s own shape.  No more exhaustion, food aversions, or body aches because growing another human inside you is a lot of work.

Marley and me

I can now leave a room for two minutes without worrying.

But you guys are more independent now and while I’ve longed for the tiniest amount of space, that space hurts just a little right around my heart.

Marley, may you be strong, independent, happy, always feel loved, and know how important it is to give love.

Love,

Your Momma

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Did you know that trying to get a one year old, two year old, and a three year old to take a nice picture all at the same time is a little like herding kittens?

 

 

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Things I Want to Remember Today

Caroline took two naps today, first time in about a week.  The beautiful sweet part was I held her for both, and she smelled like bubble gum.  I have no idea how or why she smelled that way. Then this happened before dinner…

  

Although Gus has been potty trained for a couple months now he still wears a diaper for bed and naps.  Tonight was the first night he really protested a diaper for bed.  

Listening to him use the word “deliscious” is amazing.  

They are growing up so fast and I want to remember these last few moments before we become a family of five. 

  

5 Weeks Away

“Watch your thoughts, they become words. Watch your words, they become actions. Watch your actions, they become habits. Watch your habits, they become your character. Watch your character, it becomes your destiny” – Author unknown

This right here, today, is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. 35 weeks pregnant trying to make it through the terrible twos with one babe, and cherish the end of baby hood with another.  Keeping a farm running, and a business and life we’ve worked so hard to create, going.  I know this is all just a drop in the bucket of hard times this life has in store for me.  I know I’ll probably look back at this post tomorrow and say “What?! I had it easy!”  This may be the most contrived post I’ve ever made.  I’m complaining about having, and I feel a little ridiculous, but right now this is my world.

  

I also know that it’s a struggle that has so much waiting for me when (not if, if is not an option) I come out the other side.  But right now as I lay here typing on my broken phone because all of these thoughts are streaming through my head and I need to get them out because I don’t want to lose them, I think “I really don’t want to be an adult tomorrow.”

I know we have all these people too.  These great, amazing, generous people who have our backs.  Who offer help and give support so freely and generously it brings tears to my eyes and gratitude to my heart every time I think about it. Shawn and I were talking about them today, how lucky we are, and how amazing they are.

I know I could call any one of them for help.  But the moments I need help are flashes through the day.  Moments of one babe running for the bathroom, while the other is standing on the counter, while I’m trying to cook lunch and am now too big to move fast enough, too hurt to be in three places at once.  Changing ones diaper while the other is outside angry at me for not turning on the hose, so he wanders to the other side of the farm.  And I curse myself for not calming him down first, not being able to run after him, not being able to carry his sister while I look for him.  Those are the times I need to teleport one of our “people” in to help Caroline off the counter, and Gus to the potty.  To cheer up the Gus, change the diaper, and let me cry on their shoulder, just for that moment.

  

But then it’s lunch, and nap, and during nap I need to work, and the day marches on.  I guess that’s why I chose Shawn to be my partner.  Because I couldn’t imagine doing this with anyone else.  No one else can talk me down from the insane pregnancy emotions like Shawn can, (or incite them.) 

He seems to swoop in at the perfect time and take some of my burden and adds it to the incredible load he’s already carrying.  In just enough time to save my sanity, and let me sit on the couch for five minutes instead of rocking Caroline to sleep, who these days demands we walk her around outside before nap.  A perfect metaphor for the little girl she’s turning out to be.  Warm and bright like the sun she likes to sleep in, but wild and fierce like the wind that’s been blowing so strong here during this dry season.

And so here I sit, and the more I type and think, I come to the realization that though I’m tired and worn out, the world looks much different when I look at it from a different angle.  I see what I have.  We are so incredibly rich, and maybe I should just go to bed and look at things from new, better-rested eyes in the morning.

Before I do that though I will update ya’ll on what’s been happening on the farm and in our lives.

  
The pastures for the piglets is done! Finally, all the work Shawn has put in to it, is still putting into it, is finally paying off. The pigs go into the pasture in the morning, have breakfast for a few hours, go back to the trees for the sunniest part of the day, and have a potato/grain mix Shawn makes them for dinner. 

They graze in an area for a week or so and then move to the next area.  Each area is sectioned off with electric fence, and Shawn has trained them to follow him in and out of the pasture.  It’s amazing to watch and they are all growing well. 

Shawn and Caroline leading the pigs back in from grazing.

L&S Artisan Meats has expanded to Quito.  Right now we only make the trip once a month, the first trip started off slower than we were expecting, but word of mouth did its thing and this month has been much more successful. I hope the progress keeps up as it’s a much needed boost for us.  

Business in Cotacachi has been as good as ever and also continues to grow. We’ve added salami to our product list, and we’ve had comments that it’s the best product we make.

  
Gus  has become quite the wordsmith. He’s really jumped forward in leaps and bounds talking. Mostly English, but some Spanish, and understands both as far as I can tell.  We are going through some growing pains learning to share and get along with others.  Accepting when we tell him no.  But he shows an incredible empathy towards others, especially his sister, and loves playing with her, and his “friends.” He’s potty trained (hallelujah) but in the process of that has decided clothing was for the birds.

  
   

 

What can I say about Caroline. I love this age.  She’s a happy, bright, loving little thing. She wants to do what ever her brother wants to do, this includes “potty training.” A concept she thoroughly doesn’t get, yet insists on sitting on the toilet and avoiding her diaper and pants.  It also includes harassing him at every possible opportunity.  She’s got the “little sister” role down. She tries to jump, climbs on everything, loves to eat, and adores reading. 

   
 
  
Papa Tom arrives in a month, and my next post will most likely be the announcement of our newest babe.  I can’t freaking believe it! 

My Life is Ruled by Tiny People

You are altogether beautiful, my darling, beautiful in every way.

— Song of Songs 4:7

 

With Baby Geer #3 on the way, (oh yeah? Did I tell you?)

Announcement

I thought I would reflect a  a little, and write a post detailing what my life has become on the day-to-day with two toddlers running around.  So much different than 6 years ago when I was going to parties (aka getting a hangover), rock climbing (miss this), and complaining about being bored (I wish).  So here we go, a glimpse into the glamorous life of the Geer clan.  I’m sure many of you can relate.

Bathroom trips:  Something that is a necessity of life and something all of us do multiple times a day, right?  Well in my life it usually results in crying or death defying stunts. It takes about 5 seconds for them to realize I’ve disappeared and that I will be unavailable for at least 30 seconds.  One of three things proceeds to happen.

  1. Someone sits outside the door crying because I’ve left them out.  This is the ideal situation.  It means no one is trying to die, kill the other, or do something gross.
  2. Someone climbs on top of the table/counter/chair/any high place really so that I have to rush through whatever it is I may be doing. I know this is the case because it’s quiet.  I walked out of the bathroom this morning to find Caroline standing on top of the table.
  3. I am accompanied in to the bathroom where there is the opportunity to play in the shower, unroll the toilet paper, flush the toilet over and over (with me sitting on it of course), or try, to my absolute disgust, to dig through the bathroom trash.  All done juuuust out of reach.

 

Fun! Fun! Fun Mommy!


 

Food:  If you didn’t know, now you will, that…

-A banana breaking in half while peeling it makes it inedible.

-If we are at our house a peel on an apple or peach makes it inedible.  I have yet to figure out why this only applies to being at home, because a peel is totally acceptable in public.

-The only reasonable thing to do when we are finished with food or drink is to dump the remaining on the floor (or me).  Same applies to wrappers or peels.  But only in the house, outside I am handed everything. At least we aren’t littering.

-Everything I have is for sharing.  Food, tools, computers, writing implements. This is not reciprocal.

-If I am wearing clean clothes, this is a big freaking deal.  Everything that anyone in the house under the age of three eats, I end up wearing, because…

Clothing:

-My shirt is a safety line.  Worried about falling? Grab on!  Need help standing up?  Here I am! Feeling happy, sad, nervous or devastated? Here’s my shirt!

-The only acceptable thing to grab on to when throwing a temper tantrum is my pants.  Since baby number three has expanded my waist line, most (all), of my pants have elastic waist.  I have a whole new reason to fear tantrums in public, loosing my pants.

-Talking the two year old into changing clothes in the morning is like negotiating a multi nation trade deal.

-My favorite… if you stood outside our house during a diaper change or clothing changes you would imagine we were torturing children.  Screaming, crying, everything you would expect if I was say, poking them with a fire poker.  But alas all I’m doing is trying to keep them comfortable and to not smell bad, but I’m pretty sure they consider this torture.


Miscellaneous:

-I’ve given up trying to sit on furniture, of any kind pretty much.  This includes eating at the table or sitting on the couch.  Someone always insists on joining me, and then tries to dive off. And then they cry, not worth the comfort.

-I have many children’s books memorized, because I read them 20 times in a row, every night.  Too bad Vice articles weren’t as entertaining to them.

-If I do anything I require assistance.  Laundry involves help emptying the clean clothes out of the basket, while typing I always need help hitting the right keys, and I absolutely can not do dishes with out a small person standing under me or staring at me and trying to crawl on the counter.

Every single one of these moments is peppered with humor.  Either of the absurd situations I find myself in multiple times a day, the variety of faces a one year old can make, or the imagination of a two year old.

 

 There is so much love too.  Seeing them help each other with a task (usually something they aren’t supposed to be doing, but hey?) Give endless kisses and hugs, or the simplest, what would be meaningless to anyone else, gestures that I can never get enough of.  Every moment of this experience is completely worth it and gratifying.  Though I’ll be honest, there are about 50 times in the day I would say I lied to you about this.  I go to bed every night exhausted but overwhelmed with love.

 

 

Farm Life

So what’s been going on at L&S Farm over the last few months other than growing a new family member?

Well… life hasn’t been easy, there has been quite a few ups and downs, but things are looking up, dare I say it too loudly for fear of jinxing us.

We have 12 pigs who are coming of age which will be great for business.  We had two new litters of piglets born in the last few weeks totaling 16 new piglets.  They are adorable.  We have one more mama almost ready to give birth and she is huge.  It will be exciting to see how many babes she will have.


We have successfully plowed and planted our large field in preparation for all these piglets.  They will be raised on a rotating pasture system, moving from fenced off area to fenced off area eating the high protein crops as they go. We lucked out with the timing of planting.  Shawn’s been keeping track of the rain and moon cycles for the last few years, and successfully predicted a good time to plant.  It’s rained nearly every day since we put the seeds in the ground and a week later the whole field started to sprout.  I can’t wait to watch the process happen the way I know Shawn has been planning for the last few years.  He’s also been training the pigs to come when called and Caroline has started using the call too, it’s freaking adorable.  How cute is it going to be seeing this little blonde head leading the pigs out to pasture.

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We’ve also had the opportunity to experience how truly lucky we are to have our people around us here.  The last few months would have been devastatingly hard if it weren’t for our friends.  From helping kid watch, to helping build fences (in more ways than the obvious), bringing us food so we could have a small break, and even just listening ears and solid advice. I feel so blessed and lucky to have these people in our lives.  There were many times their kindnesses had brought me to tears.  So I say from the bottom of my heart

Thank You.

 

Some interesting links for you:

The life of a Russian Rhythmic gymnast

Today I Lived and You Did Too

AwakenWithJP

We Are Growing!

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. – Marianne Williamson 

So trying to write blog posts, on an IPad app, with a little human has been getting the best of me. It’s like she can zero in on the tiny little button at the top that says “post” and hit it, perfectly. So, yeah, sorry about all the mis published posts.

Anyway, as I was saying…
Holy Moly Caroline turned one last weekend!  This year has flown by, seems like Gus’ first year lasted an eternity.  But I guess time flies when you’re having fun, or so exhausted, busy, and frantic you don’t notice. Same difference.

No party for her, again so different than Gus.  We had a big shin dig for him, with about 40 people in attendance.  Gus cared more about the balloons.  What I thought would be a great big celebration, was kinda a great big pain in the ass.  So we decided to go low key with birthdays from here on out, until they will remember them. Very multiple children of us.  

For Caroline we had our neighbors over for cupcakes and ice cream, and a fish fry with the volunteers for dinner. It was a good day.

A cupcake of her very own.

Caroline is walking and climbing on everything.  Nothing will stop this girl.  She loves to eat, and “play” with her brother. Which essentially means she harasses him a lot (this is going to drive me crazy). She points and indicates things she wants, and has no problem getting down and dirty. Her favorite foods are broccoli, cheese, and noodles (she prefers spaghetti over short noodles). 

  

Caroline had her one year photo shoot with our dear friend Wendy. Here’s some highlights…

   
    
    
 
Gus has started “school.” A place called a guarderia, which is like the state run preschool/daycare.  He loved it at first, but recently the novelty has waned a tad.  He’s resistant to getting dressed and going in the mornings (not that that really means much, he would prefer to run around naked all day if we let him) but once we get there he loves it, and it has brought about really positive changes.

He’s talking more and is more independent.  We love the teachers, and the fact that he spends time with other kids and adults, hears Spanish on a consistent basis, and has exposure to a new environment. It’s a great anchor to our community as well. He’s even started using his pleases, one of my proudest mommy moments to date. 

Though, like I think happens often when children start spending time amongst a lot of other children, he’s been sick since the very first day. It came to a head last weekend and both kids ended up in the doctors office with ear infections. We will be keeping him home this week, hoping he will get really healthy and strong and reevaluate the plan.
  

As for me, well I’ve had a few breakthroughs myself. I’ve driven to Ibarra to run a few errands by myself in the last couple months.  This doesn’t sound like a big deal at all, but for me it was life and perspective changing. 

Ibarra is our “big city” to the North about 30 mins.  It has a mall, a big grocery store, and is where the clinic is where the kids were born. You have to drive on the PanAmericana highway to get there, the closest thing to an interstate we have (except speeds top out at about 50 mph). You can find many things there, many things we need for the business especially, that you can’t find in our little Cotacachi.  But boy was it overwhelming to me.

From my old perspective it was a scary drive, a confusing place to drive, and debilitating if I should get into trouble as I had no confidence in my Spanish.  So up until a couple months ago Shawn had to run all the errands there, even having to go to all of my doctor appointments with me. 

It wasn’t the first trip, but the second when I realized that I was comfortable.  This wasn’t a foreign place anymore, this was home.  I know this place.  I’m comfortable here, and I’m not overwhelmed by running errands or trying to communicate any longer. I can navigate this world like I could navigate my world when I lived in the U.S. It’s a liberating feeling, I didn’t realize how uncomfortable I was until I just wasn’t anymore. 

 

Photo Credit Phillip D’Aflisio. Mt. Cotacachi from the pigs perspective

 
Farm life has been rolling along nicely.  12 new piglets, and their momma, Dulce, have rejoined us at the farm.  Dulce was sold to our vet Danny when she was piglet. She is a fantastic momma and we recently purchased her and her recent litter of piglets back from Danny. Dulce has quickly become the 600lb boss of the farm, and her piglets are characters for sure. 

Photo credit Phillip D’Aflisio, volunteer extroidinaire

We’ve started a new project this week as well. We are turning all of our unused space into good quality pasture to support the two new litters we are expecting in a little over two months. The hope is that the new piglets will be raised entirely on pasture. We’ve had happy, healthy pigs and although business has been great for us, we’ve had a hard time getting ahead with the feeding program we’ve been using.  This will be an exciting opportunity that will be great for the farm and the pigs. Like everything in farming though, it’s a bit of a gamble for us. Keep us in your thoughts that everything grows well, and works out as planned.

Photo Credit Phillip D’Aflisio. Mt. Imbabura behind the volunteer loft

Here’s some things I’ve been reading.

This Vice article made me so incredibly home sick.  It’s been over a year since I’ve been home.

Here is a quick glimpse into some of the amazing fruits we have here in Ecuador.

This Article boosted my confidence in the way we’ve been raising our children. 

She drank from a bottle called DRINK ME
And up she grew so tall,
She ate from a plate called TASTE ME
And down she shrank so small.
And so she changed, while other folks
Never tried nothin’ at all.

 

It’s funny how time passes.  I look at the clock and an hour passes in what seems like seconds, at other times five minutes feels like an eternity. How is Gus two already?!

Oh!  The dogs are barking.  Is someone here?  Wait, it’s 2 in the morning, I hope no one’s here.  I hope they aren’t chasing the cats.  Should I go outside and check?

Is that someone looking through the window?  Nope, just my plant.

I wonder if Gus is cold?

These are the thoughts and conversations I’m having with myself while I’m up in the middle of the night with a certain baby.  Who hates to sleep.  I may be loosing my mind.  I wonder how long someone can keep it together running on so little sleep, because I don’t think I’ve slept an entire night since Gus was born nearly 2 years ago.  And I’m positive I’ve had, at the most, 4 hours of consecutive sleep at a time since Caroline was born 7 months ago.  Lately (like for the past month) 2 hours at a time is the norm.  And this girl likes to party.  We have little parties a few times a week in the middle of the night.  She will decide that rolling around like a mad women is much more entertaining than sleeping.  Because her crib is too small for such shenanigans, she prefers my bed.  It’s my job, apparently, to make sure she doesn’t dive off the bed or suffocate herself.  Usually these parties last about an hour or so, that’s about the time she tires herself out and we are allowed to go back to sleep.

Good thing she is so darn cute

 

How can something that feels so rewarding, be so boring, exhausting, and infuriating all at the same time?  Hello parenthood, I hate you and I love you.  But I’d love you even more IF YOU WOULD JUST LET ME SLEEP.

So it’s been awhile since we last spoke, I’ve been trying to keep everyone alive, while also not succumbing to madness from sleep deprivation. Priorities.

We ended August saying goodbye to Sam and Amy.  They became our family, and the moment they left their presence was missed.  We were back to teaching the ways of the farm to new volunteers every couple weeks, I had to adjust to being able to take care of Gus full time.  Amy and Gus went on adventures every morning while I took care of Caroline and worked on my end of the business.  So many adjustments.  Sam knew the ins and outs of the butcher business, and I don’t think we will have anyone cut bacon better than he did. Frankly, life seemed a little empty there for awhile.  You can follow their adventures on instagram at karmathekombi.  I know they will go far, and I can’t wait to watch.


We’ve had some really interesting and great volunteers come through in the last couple months.  Andres and Amy from the U.S. And England.  Cami and Dennis, a French couple.  Tim from New Zealand,  Elaine and J.J. from Ireland (Elaine could be my best friend if only she accepted Tuna in to her life) Sam from the U.S. and Adrienne and Lawrence from Canada.

Shawn and Gus got to go to the United States for a couple weeks.  I was very jealous, and it was very quiet around the house.  The quiet was especially felt in the mornings and evenings.  No one dancing on the couch, asking to go for a walk or play “choo choos.”  (And that’s just Shawn) I thought the quiet would be nice, it wasn’t.  I realized how wonderfully full my life is.  Isn’t there a saying about this?  “You don’t realize what you’ve got till it’s gone,” or “absence makes the heart grow fonder.”  All those apply.

They got to spend time with Grandma Betty, Grandma Jesse, and Gus got to hang out with all of his cousins, Aunts and Uncles, and of course his Nana and Papa.

 

Isn’t this how everyone travels?

 

Go Gus! Proud Mommy over here.

Something very cool happened while they were there.  I am apart of a Mommy Group on Facebook. We all have babies the same age as Caroline, well they put together a care package for me that Shawn’s mom picked up.  It really was such a cool and amazing thing.  All these ladies I’ve never met in person pull together and help each other out. So much love and support, I was honored.

While they were gone our good friend Washington helped the volunteers harvest honey from the hives.  So far its been a great year for honey, the bees have been busy.  The volunteers who helped learned a lot and Washington really enjoys teaching.  My house smelled amazing too.

 

Photo credit to Amy (of Amy and Andres) some honeycombs from one of our hives

We think it was such a successful honey year because we had some late rains at the beginning of the “dry season.”  Ecuador has two seasons, Rainy Season (during the North American Winter) and Dry Season (North American Summer).  The rains encouraged the Eucalyptus trees, which are abundant here and from which the bees get 99% of their honey, to bloom late.

Big Momma had some heartbreaking news (our big sow).  We thought she was pregnant, but as the time for her to give birth came and went we realized something was wrong.  Dany (our vet) came out, turns out it was a phantom pregnancy.  We just can’t catch a break these days. Everything else on the farm is trucking along.  We have 10 “piglets” running around. Everybody had their pastures moved around some, and the rainy season has begun which is always a refreshing change.

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Caroline has started to eat solid food, sits up by herself for the most part, and is starting to be mobile.  I fear crawling is only about a month away.  She loves her walker and bouncer, and really likes running over her brother.  From his screams you would think it was a train running over him, and he was tied to the tracks because he doesn’t get out of the way. She does this adorable thumb sucking thing too.

 

First food!

 


  
Gus is quite the jabber mouth, he adds more words to his vocabulary every day, and practices them constantly.  We’ve started preparing him for potty training, which has also added some great words to his repertoire. He loves trains, and trucks, and spotting airplanes flying overhead. He will help you out doing anything you ask him to.  Wanna dance? Just turn on some music and he’s there ready to bust a move. He can jump, pretend to be a frog or bear. You’ll know if a dog or cow is within your vicinity as he promptly moos or barks when one is near.  There are quite a few cows and dogs on our drive to town.

 

Helping with lunch

 

Finger painting fun

 

Some of my girlfriends and I are throwing a Halloween party and Gus will get to get dressed up and go trick or treating. I am not going to miss this particular tradition with my kids, and we are so lucky to have friends willing to help. I’m sure I’ll have lots of pictures to share.

The tradition of trick or treating and getting dressed up for Halloween is not something they practice here.  Shortly after Halloween, on Nov. 2nd is the Day of the Dead.  The indigenous bring a meal to the cemetery and have a meal with their ancestors, remembering and celebrating them.  They make bread in the shape of babies and horses, and a drink called Colada Morada out of the tiny wild blueberries that come in to season this time of year.

November and December bring visitors!  An old roommate and good friend is coming down in the beginning of November.  I think it’s been about 3 years since we’ve seen each other. I’m ecstatic to show her around our paradise, and meet her husband for the first time.

Shawn’s family comes in December, and we are going on vacation!  The Mindo cloud forest, sightseeing in Quito, and the beach for a few days, who hoo! We are using AirB&B for the first time, I’ll let you know how that experience goes, but the thought of my two children sharing a room to sleep in is already giving me anxiety. But who knows maybe Caroline will figure out this sleeping thing in the next two months and it’ll all go smoothly. (Hopes and dreams eh?)

 

Here’s what I’ve been reading/watching:

This fed my adoption bug – The Child I didn’t adopt

This is pretty rad, a language that’s around us all the time as it’s the native tongue of most of our neighbors, this Girl rocks out some Michael Jackson in Quechua.

Cotacachi from the air – so cool

My Unique Perspective 

We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.
-Anaïs Nin

I’ve had many friends and family ask me what my daily life was like. Until recently I didn’t understand the question. So I’d been meditating on it for awhile. I started to compare my life to the average Americans, and realized there were quite a few glaring differences.

Foremost has nothing to do with where we live, but our unique lifestyle. For the most part Gus and Caroline have had both their parents home with them. Shawn and I both work, with Shawn doing the lion share of the work pertaining to our business, he’s the “creator” of our products, and does the accounting, but I do a majority of the administrative work, taking orders, sending out weekly emails, and organizing deliveries. Caroline stays with me almost 100% of the time, but Gus spends an hour or so hanging out with his Dad in the morning, sees him for lunch, and awhile in the afternoons too. But if I ever need a hand all I have to do is open the front door, give a holler, and most of the time I’m lucky enough that Shawn can stop what he’s doing and help me out. We have also had, at any given time, between 2 and 6 volunteers staying with us. So there are lots of “playmates.” 

We’ve been fortunate enough to have Sam and Amy staying with us for the last 7 months while they prepped their Volkswagen Van, or Kombi, as they are called here, for a cross continent adventure. And while there are great volunteers that come and go (Gus loves to show off for the new people) no one compares to Amy for Gus.

  
Another aspect is cultural. In the land of eternal spring, preserved items are hard to find, and so is planning for the future. Tomorrow will come and you’ll know what you need when you get there. Same is to be said for things like work and retirement. I think it’s a beautiful thing that in this culture taking care of your family is your future. Children live with their parents much longer, and take care of their aging parents, in return most help take care of their grandkids. Although the cost of living is low, so are the wages, and there isn’t much room left for savings.

Finding something to pop in the microwave, or even buying canned soup is really hard to do, and for us not financially smart. There are “grocery stores” here, but why buy canned fruit for more than I would pay for fresh fruit at the market.

There is also no such thing as a one stop shop. We generally hit up at least four different places to stock our kitchen for the week. Fruits and veggies come from the market, eggs from the butcher across the street from the market. Pasta, cheese, chocolate, coffee, and milk from a place called Tia. The closest thing to a grocery store here. Bread from the panaderia (bread store). We could possibly buy all these things from one place but we would be paying more, sacrifice quality, and have to travel 40mins North to the city of Ibarra. On top of all these places we go to just for our weekly supplies there’s an infinite amount more small tiendas, or stores. I buy wine from one, and butter from a different one. As convenient as a Walmart or Target might be, it would kill part of the population in a place like this where many people don’t drive, and no one buys in bulk (we buy the largest packs of diapers we can find and they are individually wrapped for resale, because only shop owners would buy that many diapers at a time, and they still contain less than the packs you find in the U.S.) These little tiendas support their neighborhoods full of little old men and ladies who walk to get food and household supplies everyday. Living in the moment.

 

My weekly grocery haul. I spent $50, but the the 60 eggs, milk, or yogurt I also bought that day aren’t on the table. The box back right side is full of tomatoes.

  

A local walking her cows home, Mt. Imbabura is in the background. a common sight for us.


 

Another way to put our lives into perspective in comparison to what our life would be like in the U.S. Is the language barrier we deal with everyday. It’s been three years since I’ve lived in a country where I didn’t get a little bit nervous just going to buy groceries, or felt independent enough to go to the doctor by myself. I’m feeling a ton more confidant now a days, a relief because having to have your husband come to doctor appointments with you to translate is no picnic for either of us.

I took Spanish classes from a volunteer who stayed with us, did Rosetta Stone before I started traveling (which was pretty useless) and have been using the duo lingo app, but I’ve learned the most about the Spanish language from my doctors visits and hospital stays giving birth to my children, talking with my ladies at the market, and correct letter pronunciation from my kids diapers. I can talk more about body parts, pain, medications, food, babies, and animals than I can small talk or feelings. Like most people who are learning a second language, I can understand much more that I can say, but I’m beginning to think a lot of this has to do with feeling self conscious. There are a few friends I can communicate pretty easily with, yet with some people I completely clam up and can’t get a sentence out.

So what does this all mean for us? It means my children will be bilingual and I will have the opportunity to learn a second language. That even though we sacrifice certain things (we will never be rich) our children will have a fantastic environment to grow up in. A meal will never be quick or simple but we will have an abundance of inexpensive, fresh, preservative free food. That there are a lot of our favorite things we miss from the U.S. but a trip to a big grocery store will always be exciting.

  

Time to update you on the farm! Here’s what’s been happening in our lives.

One of our Poroton trees is in flower for the first time and the blooms are gorgeous.

  
   

 Our egg laying chickens have actually started laying eggs!

  

“Short tail” one of our mama pigs is expecting a litter at the end of August.

   

A couple of our new ladies

 

I made my first successful batch of Ginger Beer, it was sooooo tasty.

  

Gus has upped his talking game. So far we can only understand about a quarter of the things he says, but he babbles a lot. My favorites are “ciao” “where’s dada?” And “what’s that?” He can put his rubber boots on himself, still working on getting them on the correct foot. I love that his favorite movie is Dumbo, and he’s started at least trying veggies.

 

This kid has some fashion sense. (note the boots are on the wrong feet)

  

 

Caroline has rolled over once or twice. Babbles, smiles and laughs, blows bubbles, and is starting to really like baths. She’s not a fan of napping alone, and it looks like she’ll be an early riser like her brother and father.

 

A lil hammock relaxation

  

 We feel extremely blessed that we have so many caring people in our life who have helped our family in so many ways over the last few months. 

 One that stands out is our gofundme campaign. With the money raised we were able to purchase pigs to fill in part of the gap that was left by the loss of the two litters of piglets, this ensures the farms future until the end of the year. It helped us get through the birth of Caroline so Shawn could take a week off, and I had time to recover from my c section. We built a new shelter and moved the smoke house closer to the butcher house, the space was also used to make a more comfortable common area for the volunteers.  We are now working to buy a walk in cooler, and will need a few more pigs to get back on track to start out the new year. If you are able to help us out in anyway here is the link to our gofundme me page http://www.gofundme.com/nf1w6g

We feel so lucky to have our beautiful friends Dave & Patrice, they are our family away from family. They’ve given advice and encouraged us every step of the way, and we love them.  Patrice built us this gorgeous website for the business as well.  Check it out http://lnsartisanmeats.com

The farm has its own instagram account at lnsfarms.  My hope is that the volunteers who stay here will tag us in the photos they post and we can see farm life from all perspectives.

Here are a few things I’ve been reading:

I need to read this every morning

http://www.whenathome.com/did-i-love-you-enough-today/

Good to remember

http://www.powerofpositivity.com/20-things-you-dont-owe-anyone/

One of the most incredible moving things I have ever seen

http://denali.littlethings.com/denali-dog-love-story/

Just gross

http://www.msn.com/en-ca/foodanddrink/foodnews/finally-the-fda-admits-that-nearly-over-70percent-of-us-chickens-contain-cancer-causing-arsenic/ar-AA8cWca