Tag Archives: Living abroad

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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

Patience

Patience

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).

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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)

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Great group of volunteers

Great group of volunteers

9 month pregnant family photo

9 month pregnant family photo

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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.

http://www.gofundme.com/nf1w6g

Some places I’ve been:

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

http://www.carrotsformichaelmas.com/2015/05/13/have-you-ever-felt-like-being-a-mother-has-ruined-you/

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

http://awildgreenlife.com/making-traditional-ginger-beer-from-scratch/

I just really liked this one

http://www.scarymommy.com/want-kids-remember-about-their-childhood/

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.  

   

       

Five Months Under Our Belt

“How do you spell ‘love’?” – Piglet
“You don’t spell it…you feel it.” -Pooh

Ugh, I’m embarrassed I’ve neglected writing for so long. I’ve written this blog, the next one after Gus’ 1 month blog 4 times now! But for some reason I just haven’t posted it yet. SO MUCH KEEPS CHANGING! It’s nuts! It takes me a lot longer to write a blog now (you know, the baby business) by the time I feel like I’m ready to publish, its been a month and life is so different. I can’t keep up. Just when I’ve gotten used to something, everything flips around again.

Gus is officially 5 months old. He giggles, from way down deep in his belly. Probably the best sound in the world. What makes him giggle? Monkey noises, his daddy tickling him with his whiskers, leg tickles, rib tickles, fart noises (which he’s got really good at imitating, thanks Daddy) toe tickles, Ecuadorian ladies fawning over him speaking Spanish to him, little tosses in the air, and playing airplane. We have a lot more fun now that he’s less delicate, and more rough and tumble. The gymnastics coach in me had a hard time in the newborn phase, I didn’t know how to “play” with him, and was worried I’d break him.

Smiley Monster

Smiley Monster


He’s rolled over a few times by himself. He scoots when he’s laying on his tummy. He ADORES standing, and pushing off his legs. He stares at his hands intently, and has found his feet. He will put anything in his mouth, my hands, his hands, my chin, toys, clothing, you name it he will chew on it. I’m pretty sure we will be seeing a tooth sooner rather then later. I’ve given him “tastes” of avocado and banana, which confuses him greatly.
Gus and Mommy

Gus and Mommy


Up until about a week ago Gus didn’t pay much attention to any of the animals. Now he watches the cats intently when they walk into the room. Reaches for them, and touches them when he can.

Gus & Cuddles
We visit the piglets, he smiles and laughs when they nudge him. Piglets and babies, you can’t get any cuter than that.

Gus and piglets

Gus and piglets


After a week long protest he’s back to sleeping 8 hour stretches at night, then back to sleep for 3 more. The week he turned 4 months he woke up every.single.hour. I almost lost my mind. We discovered he liked sleeping on his side, and it’s been a lot better since then. Even with my rocking, walking, and nursing him to sleep, all those no-nos I did, he prefers to just roll on to his side and go to sleep. I almost cried the first time he did it. He was fussing nonstop while I was putting him down for bed, I laid him on our bed to give my self a 10 second break, low and behold he rolled on his side and was out like a light. I pray everyday that all our children have the same sleep habits… Not holding my breath though.
(Of course I took a picture the first time)
Beautiful sight

Beautiful sight


We got to go to Quito and he now has his American birth certificate, and passport, as well as his Ecuadorian passport, and I.D. To get his American identification we had to bring in medical records, pictures of us and me pregnant, Ecuadorian paperwork, and sit through a pretty interesting interview. All the Ecuadorian identification was easy peasy. Less then an hour in the passport office. I am very relieved to be done with it all.
Passport photo

Passport photo


So What’s Been Going On At The Farm You Ask?
We had a new litter of piglets born to CiCi. They were adorable of course. There was one little guy we were worried wouldn’t make it. He was either kicked in the mouth, or was born with a defect, but he had a really hard time nursing. We’ve been feeding him milk in a bowl and he has since started thriving. He’s still the littlest one but he sure has a lot of spirit.
CiCi is the only pig left of her generation. Saying goodbye to Muddy was really difficult for me. I had to leave the farm for the day.
Muddy’s piglets are getting really big. They aren’t quite as friendly as their Mom and Aunts and Uncles were.
We’ve had to say good bye to some cows. Sabastian, Two Horn, Salvador, One Horn, Mercedes, and Josephine have all been sold. We still have Loki and Perdida and are hoping they will make the next generation of cows for the farm.
The garden is back in full swing and it’s beautiful. We’ve been going behind the pigs and planting. Most everything is still seedlings but it’s really exciting to watch everything grow.
Josephine, Mercedes calf

Josephine, Mercedes calf


Escape!

Escape!

CiCi and her new brood

CiCi and her new brood

Newly planted garden looking pretty good.  Can't wait for everything to grow

Newly planted garden looking pretty good. Can’t wait for everything to grow

As for me…?
Of course everyone says that the first 6 weeks are the toughest. Things have certainly fallen into a routine, but I don’t think Gus has gotten any easier or harder. What I think changed was me. I became more at ease with what life as a mommy is. I’m not nervous or anxious about much anymore. I no longer worry that he’s sick or hurt when he cries, babies cry. Most of the time he’s just a little bit bored, or teething, or hungry, or tired. All of which I am confident that I can fix now.
Gus - Brent_03

Gus - Brent_02

Gus - Brent_01
Christmas was VERY tough for me. I had this little being and his great daddy, both were incredible, but I was a little lonely and homesick. All holiday seasons since my mom died have been bitter sweet, but this one seemed more intense. I read an article about having children after the loss of one of your parents, it really resonated with me. I can’t find the blog again, I wish I had kept it, but it talked a lot about how having a child reopens the wounds of loosing a parent. I look at Gus and think about how much my mom would have loved him, and how much I wanted her to see me as a mother. As Gus grows more and more people say he looks like Shawn, and I agree, but when I look at his eyes I see my mom, and I’m grateful.Gus floor

Officially Eli Gustavo Geer , But It’s Gus to Us!

My love, my heart, my new reason for existing is here. “They” say you will never feel love for something like you will for your child. It’s true, I didn’t believe them, but here I sit, after 10 days of fretting and worrying, and loving, and living for this little bundle of cuteness, I’m totally enamored and in awe of him.
I actually went into labor on my due date. We went in for an appointment early in the day. They checked to see if I was dilated (I was 1cm), NOT a pleasant experience, and hooked us up to a monitor. In the 40 minutes they monitored us I had about 5 contractions, but I couldn’t feel them. Gus’ heart rate was dropping too low for my doctors comfort so I was told to come in at 7am to be admitted the next morning. I didn’t make it that far.
By 8pm that evening I was having contractions I could feel, by 11 they were intense and 5 mins apart. By the time we left the farm they were 3 mins apart. We arrived at the hospital in Ibarra at midnight. Doc Viteri arrived shortly after, I was still only dilated 1 cm, he estimated I still had about 8 hours to go. Holy WOW contractions are intense! A couple hours later I opted for an epidural. Women who can do this without one, I commend you.
Unfortunately, after the epidural everything came to a screeching halt. I stopped dilating, and my contractions slowed down.
By 5:30pm – ish the next day, yup 18 hours and a few doses of pitocin later, (Nov. 6th, my dad’s birthday and Shawn’s brother Nick’s birthday) I had still only dilated 8cm, the doctor decided to break my water. As soon as he did that Gus’ heart rate dropped very low, and they rushed us in for a Caesarian.
Definitely not my ideal birth plan. In hindsight had I known the epidural may have had that dramatic of an effect on the progression of my labor, I would have tried to tough it out. But who knows, if my water had broken naturally if Gus’ heart rate would still have been unstable, they might have had to do the c-section anyways? Lots of ifs. But we made it, and we’re grateful both of us are healthy and happy.
The hospital stay was better then I expected, well, except for the very first night. They didn’t have enough hospital rooms, so Shawn and I got a bed in a “room,” in the emergency department, (they stored things there too, so one might have called it a closet as well.) Shawn slept on the most uncomfortable looking set of chairs, poor guy. I’m a lucky girl, he held my hand, reassured me, and was my rock through the whole thing. I commend myself for making such a good choice in husbands.
A note on a few things.
First, circumcision is not a common practice here. So we were thinking about whether or not to have Gus circumcised, and asked the doctors about it. Our doctors didn’t do it, turns out a urologist does them here, and the method was different then the way it’s done in the U.S. It was also a very expensive procedure in the grand scheme of the Ecuadorian health care system. One of those situations where I wish I was armed with more information, and a better grasp of the Spanish language. Something I definitely need to work on so that I can be a better advocate for my children. It’s not fair to always rely on Shawn for communication.
Second, the administration at the hospital is similar to the administration most places in Ecuador. It was our responsibility to keep track of most of our records. It’s our responsibility to register Gus’ birth, and we need to do it with in 30 days. I wonder how many unregistered births there are here?
Finally, payment for everything is expected up front. We literally couldn’t leave until we paid our bill in full. Could you imagine if the U.S. worked that way? Keep in mind that we opted for expensive health care, but our 3 night hospital stay, which included a c-section, meds, food, doctor fees, the whole 9 yards, came to a grand total of a little more then $2000. Almost $700 of that was Gus’ circumcision. Not much compared to American standards and we were satisfied with our care.
As for the last 10 days, there have been ups and downs, mostly ups. I am lucky (knock on wood), my newborn sleeps about 4 hours at a time at night, and we’ve fallen into a routine of going to sleep around 8, waking a couple times in the night, and then sleeping until 5:30/6:00 in the morning. We have some bumpy moments at meal times. It seems when I’m eating he wants to be “Gus Grumpy Pants.”
So here are a few things I’ve learned about being a mama in the last 10 days:
1. If you projected baby noises, the cute coo ing ones, over a sound system, you could end wars.
2. Meditation is necessary to breast feed.
3. Hormones are intense, and make you do crazy things, even when you are completely aware they are crazy. Like irrationally checking over and over that the baby is breathing, that there is nothing that could get in the way of his breathing, and that he’s laying in a safe position, and that noise you heard wasn’t him choking, and, and, and… Holy crap for the first few days at home I pretty much sat and stared at him.
4. Reading, researching, is no substitute for advice from those who have come before you (I miss my Mom.)
5. All of us that are first borns are tougher then those who have come after, we absorb the mistakes of inexperience, go ahead and argue with me Abbey.
6. Little tiny beings can get really dirty quickly… How?
7. I may not be so great with high stress situations when it comes to my kids.

Lastly, Shawn’s dad, Papa Tom, has been staying with us for the past two weeks. He left yesterday, boy were we sad. It was amazing to have him around. Sometimes I feel like we live on our own little island out here. I know I talk about missing family and how important they are to me a lot, and I know that our families are just on the other end of the phone/Internet, and have demonstrated they would do anything for us, but actually having someone around was different. I felt safer, and comforted by his presence. He helped us out so much, from taking care of the animals, to bringing Shawn PB&J sandwiches in the hospital, to holding Gus so I could eat and everything in between. I realized I have this beautiful family because Shawn and I have amazing families.

So here we are, the beginning of the Shawn and Lindsay Geer family, brought to you in part by the collaboration of the Geer and Numedahl families.

Our very first picture together.

Our very first picture together.

Looking like a little angel.

Looking like a little angel.

He's already looking at me like that.

He’s already looking at me like that.

Kittie protection

Kittie protection

Gus and Daddy post bath

Gus and Daddy post bath