Tag Archives: expat

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?)


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…


-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.


-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



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.

image2 image1-1

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

Here We Are

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Rather ask – what makes you come alive? Then go and do it! Because what the world needs is people who have come alive” – Howard Thurman

Two years ago today, May 25th, Shawn and I got married in Holdrege, NE under an apple tree in Grandma Betty’s backyard.

Our wedding day

Our wedding day

Three years ago this month I landed on the farm.  If you had told me then that in three years I’d be married to this guy I had just met and we’d have two children, I would have told you you were crazy.  But, here we are.

My first day on the farm

My first day on the farm

Cows my first day on the farm

Cows my first day on the farm

Tiny cuddles

Tiny cuddles

So much has changed since then.  The weekend I met Shawn was the weekend he got his first five piglets.  All of our pigs now are decedents of Cici, Big Nose, and Muddy, the ladies of that group. What started as a permaculture project, using pigs to work the ground and soil as animal tractors has turned into our livelihood, and business.


We have a business!  Four years ago Shawn started smoking a few chickens to fill a small demand. Now we sell a wide variety of smoked and fresh meats.  Pork, chicken, and soon beef.  We have an official name to our business (L&S Artisan Meats) a cool new logo, and soon a website.  Best part is we’ve held on to the values we started with.  We are still using sustainable, permaculture practices, with happy, healthy animals.

Our logo

Our logo

Rafael and his family no longer live on half of the farm. Our partner in the US decided to sell and they moved a short distance away, but visit often. The house they lived in no longer exists, a new one is being built. There is only one coop left, half of it still holds chickens, but only a fraction of what we once had (they used to hold 20,000).

The fruit trees are slowly growing, but look like trees now rather than sticks in the ground.  The native trees, the Aliso, Poraton have taken off.  We have mora vines, taxo vines, zapato vines, alfalfa, Rocoto plants, kale, achocha, arugula, and dill that all pretty much grow on their own amongst the trees and the pigs. Which is great because we no longer have time to keep up with a garden like we once did.

We, along with some really dedicated volunteers, have built on to the house to accommodate our growing family.

Dek painting the mural

Dek painting the mural


The kitchen cabinets have doors now! Oh and the stairs?  They are no longer throwing people down them.  When Caroline was born Papa Tom built us some new ones.  I remember holding on for dear life walking down the sloping stairs the first day I stayed here.



We’ve had a greenhouse go up, and come down. A chicken coop turn into a carport.  Built an earthbag bodega, built a roof that evolved into a loft for the volunteers, then a butcher kitchen. Built a fancy new entrance with a fancy gate, that was promptly knocked over in an unfortunate chicken manure truck incident, now there’s a not quite so fancy new entrance, forget about the gate.

Building of the earth bag bodega

Building of the earth bag bodega

Adding mulch to the sides

Adding mulch to the sides

What it looks like now

What it looks like now

The mountains still watch over us, and the Big Dipper is still in the wrong spot.  I always used it as an anchor when star gazing in the summer time at the lake growing up in Northern Minnesota.  Nowadays Orion’s belt helps me find my way as the Big Dipper doesn’t break the horizon until after 11.  The fireflies are still mesmerizing, as long as they stay outside.  Piolin is still the noisiest dog, Luna still obsesses over rocks, and Dirk is still the boss of them all.

Shawn fan club

Shawn fan club



Piolin in doggy bliss

Piolin in doggy bliss

Teeny tiny Tony, Tigger, and Cuddles

Teeny tiny Tony, Tigger, and Cuddles

Our evenings no longer consist of playing gin or kings, instead they’re filled with jumping on couches, chasing toddles, diaper changes, bath time, and 8:00 bed times (adults included).




To be honest one day last week after I was particularly sleep deprived and overwhelmed I was telling Shawn about how much I missed our carefree, responsibility less days sometimes, and he put it in perspective. He told me he didn’t, he didn’t miss trying to find things to do to fill time, he said he had a purpose for every minute of the day now, and that he has fun and laughs more, even if it’s just to keep from losing it with the toddler. He’s right.

What will happen in the next two years? Only time will tell, but I hope it’s filled with more of this. (Maybe a little more sleep)



Great group of volunteers

Great group of volunteers

9 month pregnant family photo

9 month pregnant family photo


Brother and sister meeting for the first time

Brother and sister meeting for the first time

Caroline doesn't like headbands

Caroline doesn’t like headbands

Giant Tony

Giant Tony

Being goofy

Best picture ever

We are still working towards our gofundme goal.  If you want to help us out visit our page and donate.


Some places I’ve been:

This is amazing, and should be read by all mothers, especially the new ones.


I’m going to start this today, we’ll see how it goes


I just really liked this one


Little Miss Caroline, Welcome to This World

Where it began, I can’t begin to knowing
But then I know it’s growing strong
Was in the spring
And spring became the summer
Who’d have believed you’d come along
Sweet Caroline
Good times never seemed so good

– Sweet Caroline, Neil Diamond

She arrived Friday, March 27th at 9:25am, via a scheduled C-Section.  She weighed 7.33lbs and measured 19 inches long.  Smaller than Gus, but she rocks the cutest chubby cheeks, and double chin.  

We named her after Shawn’s grandfather, everyone called him Curly, but his name was Carol Dean Geer.  He was one of the most influential people in Shawn’s life, I never got to meet him, but from what I’ve heard he was a pretty amazing guy.  Her middle name comes from my Mom, who’s middle name was Rae Ann, and she passed it down to me, and I’ve passed it down to Caroline.  

So far she’s an eater, and a sleeper, but I guess most newborns are.  She also sleeps all day, and parties at night, working on that now. 

As for me ouch… This time around I’m in more pain, it’s much harder to get up and move around.  But it’s so much harder not to. I miss my little man, he’s so active right now, and I can barely walk across the house.  But he’s having quite the time hanging out with his Papa, and his Daddy.  Their redoing our stairs, you know, cause there wasn’t enough to do.  But I’m impressed at their ability to multitask with Gus helping out, and I am so very grateful for them.  I wouldn’t have been able to do it by myself. Gus can’t even really hug me, and I certainly can’t pick him up right now.  I’m feeling pretty useless right now. 

Let’s talk about Ecuadorian hospitals for a minute.  Keep in mind this is just my experience with them.  They have certain ideas about babies, some are the same as ours in the U.S. Some are very different.  For instance in the U.S. babies are only supposed to be laid on their back, and nothing is put in the crib with them.  Here in Ecuador, they lay newborns on their side only, and they get a pillow and a blanket in their crib with them.  Then there’s the temperature, they dressed her in three shirts, pants, and a blanket, and then pointed a space heater at her.  The room was already too warm for me to be comfortable, I almost lost it. And don’t argue, they are the doctors and nurses and they know better.  

So, we are happy to be home, and learning how to adjust to being a family of four.