sometimes you need to drag yourself to the lake... where the temps are (ever so slightly) cooler, the views spectacular, and the pace slower. even though with small kids it might not be "relaxing," it's still what you need.
Even though there is never real "quiet" while in Mexico, there is something to be said about quieting the soul. Taking those few moments to actually see the horizon, breathe in the breeze, and play intentionally with your children.
I want to tell you about this moment because it was beautiful, and I don't want it to be gone and done already. Somehow, with meager words, I want it to last forever.
We ate a delicious meal, sizzling vegetables in a hot molcajete, with warm tortillas and fresh orange juice, overlooking the lake as the sun was perched low in the sky. Fortunately, the boys were hungry enough that they ate in silence, washing down their taquitos with gulps of ice cold naranjadas. As the sun went from yellow to orange, we basked in its beckoning to relax. Solomon watched a little girl, about seven or eight, wading in the restaurant's pool about 15 feet away. There was a glimmer of intrigue in his eyes, a wondering of why or how or when she managed to submerge herself, clothes on, in an ice cold pool, alone. He pondered this, in silence.
Across the table, Rainer was anything but silent. His grunts and squawks were endearing, and also annoying. But his plump thighs overflowing from his light green romper made him quite lovable, and any chirping was forgiven. While Solomon is cautious, Rainer is reckless. While Solomon observes, Rainer plunges in. Quite literally. It took Mr. P's physical restraint to hold that little rugrat back. And, finally, as we've learned many other times in parenting, it's best to release them - to dive in, spontaneously, to their thirst to experience.
Before I knew it, all three of my boys were up to their necks in the water, all their clothes on, teeth chattering, grins from ear to ear. As I watched them splashing and laughing, the golden sunlight reflecting on their faces in the clear blue water, I gasped ever so slightly, searching for my breath in the midst of this perfect moment. All was right in our world in that instant. And I wanted to grasp at the beauty of it, wrap my fingers around it, and put it in my pocket. Somehow, I wanted to be able to dig deep for it on a lonesome Monday, while sopping up spilled milk and blocking out the shrill screams of my demanding toddler. When I need it so desperately, I want that snapshot to be there, at arms reach, to comfort me with its loveliness.
"Writing can be a pretty desperate endeavor, because it is about some of our deepest needs; our need to be visible, to be heard, our need to make sense of our lives, to wake up and grow and belong." (Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird)
There are some things that are just good for the soul. Whether it's the constant buzz of traffic in the distance that's bogged you down, or the clutter on the dining room table. An escape from daily life is necessary from time to time.
Fresh mountain air is one of those soul-foods for me. The sound of horse's hooves on cobblestone streets, and the smell of fresh baked bread in the morning wafting through the plaza as the sun rises above the vibrant brick cathedral... it slows you down. Village life... there's not much else like it. Elderly men with canes teeter slowly through the alleyways, teenagers ride four wheelers in the middle of the street, huge, steaming pots of elote and atole tempt you on each street corner, & men push carts with barrel churned ice cream in various flavors for 50 cents a cone.
It was truly a gift for our family to share a quaint clay-roofed cabin for a couple of days. We built fires in the fireplace, we sipped hot soup, we played on the playground, we climbed the hugest rocks we've ever seen. And, as usual, we took half a million pictures.
Such a divine way to begin 2013.
Have a wonderful Monday! For us, this is the start of routine after a very long respite. Wish us luck!
** I wanted to mention that I'm aware comments are not showing up on the blog, and haven't been for quite some time. I've been working to resolve this, but unfortunately it's taking forever to figure out the issue! Rest assured, that I can see all comments & I do read & cherish them all!! **
Visits from family always come and go too quickly. After weeks of anticipation the time finally arrives, but flashes before our eyes at lightening speed. Sometimes time is cruel like that.
Solomon had no idea his grandparents were coming to visit, and the look on his face when we pulled into the airport parking lot was priceless. He was giddy with excitement and wonder.
During the ten days my parents were here we visited parks, went for bike rides, enjoyed long leisurely runs (my dad and I), ate fresh pastries from the local stand, dined out at bistros, tried new recipes, celebrated Rainer's birthday (!), and spent two days at the beautiful lake resort. Lots of memories, lots of laughter, lots of down time. It was sweet.
Mr. P is at a conference for work. I'm alone with the boys until Sunday.
1 night down, 2 to go.
The instant he got into the taxi yesterday and drove off, a certain hollowness engulfed me. I gave Solo a half-hearted smile & said, let's go inside and play.
But, really, all I wanted to do in that moment was curl up into a ball and cry.
Just being honest. I don't have the faintest clue why it hit me so hard. We've been apart often in our almost 9 years of marriage. A week here, 2 weeks there, even up to 3 weeks apart a couple of times. But, in all of those trips I've always had family around to distract me. This time, I have to buck up, put on my big girl panties, and solo parent.
Even right now in the quiet of the morning, when I'm normally alone anyway while he's at work, there's a lingering emptiness. My heart is fully aware that he is not sitting at his desk 2 miles down the road, but a distance my heart cannot reach.
A part of me hates the way this makes me feel, but another part of me rejoices in the fact that I have a partner in life I am lucky enough to miss to these kind of depths.
see that pic up there?
Let me tell you the story behind it. Grab a cup of tea, put your feet up and get comfy. You're about to join me in rural Mexico.
The other day we had reservations for a cabin at Santa Maria del Oro, deposit paid & receipt in hand, it was 8:00a.m. and our desired departure was in an hour. As Mr. P showered and packed his clothes, I rushed around the house, list in hand, stuffing diapers, clothes, towels and sunscreen into a carry-on roller, setting out oatmeal and honey, making sure I had enough coffee ground, and stocking the nooks and crannies of the car with plentiful snacks. (ranging from Puffs to homemade "trail mix")
We left on time, gas tank full, car weighed down, WeeSing playlist bumpin'. The trip was uneventful... unless you count me squatting to pee on the pavement next to the four lane highway a significant "event."
But you guys. This lake? Is breathtaking. Pre-kids it was probably Mr. P & my favorite getaway spot. We hadn't dared the adventure with our boys yet, and it was time. So there we found ourselves gasping yet again when the lake finally came into view. Even Solo stopped mid-sentence when he laid eyes on it for the first time.
After taking in the view we drove down the winding road to the lakefront in search of our cabin. Solo was doubtful that there really was a road that would lead us to the water, but he complied.
Our cabin was... how do I put this... DISGUSTING.
Dirty, old, nasty. Even Solo was grossed out. He kept walking around on his tippy toes so his feet wouldn't touch the grubby tile floors. Over and over we had to reassure him that we would just stay one night. No, we weren't going to live here. Yes, we still have our other house. Honestly, a few hours in, we started to wonder if this was all a bad idea. Could we really survive a night in a grody cabin with two small boys dependent on us for their livelihood?!?
Thank goodness the view redeemed ... well ... EVERYTHING.
Needless to say, we survived the night. & what followed the next morning was magical.
We set out for a early morning walk after a breakfast of oatmeal and fresh strawberries. Solo sped ahead on his "Gravel Blaster" (bike) and I carried Rainer on my shoulders. We walked down to the dock to find it quiet, calm and completely empty. Of course. At 9:00 a.m. Mexican campers are still sound asleep.
I knew that something had to happen for this trip to step it up a notch. To be memorable. To be magical. Thankfully I had my swim suit bottoms on underneath my skirt. I grabbed Solo (well, first I fished the junebug out of Rainer's mouth and hollered at Mr. P to get the camera ready) and peeled off his t-shirt, threw my skirt on the dock ramp and told him we were jumping in. (He had yet to go in the water at this point) His first reaction was, Cool! But in a quick 2.5 seconds that changed to NO FREAKIN WAY, MOM.
So, I did what any loving mother would do. I picked him up and hurled us both into the lake.
The rest is history.
My last post was Sunday. Today is Friday. Clearly, I'm on "vacation." (what does that even mean for a stay-at-home-mom?)
I thought I'd pop in for a "currently" post (which originates here, I think.)
Currently I am....
Obsessing over... our empty days on the calendar. I know summer is supposed to be all about relaxing and whatnot, but part of me sees an empty day on our calendar and immediately wants to fill it! with something awesome! that we haven't done in a long time! that is superfun!
Somebody stop me.
Working on... helping Mr P start a blog. Wait, what? Yes you read correctly. He's so cute.
Thinking about... our friends who have moved away in the past few weeks, and those who will be leaving shortly. Life as an expat has its ups and downs. A definite downfall is the transience of those around us. On July 5th we had our six year "expativersary" (saw that term on Instagram!) And in those 6 years we've said goodbye many times. Sometimes it's not a huge deal, but sometimes it is. Like when the person leaving is your son's best friend.
Anticipating... our summer trips that we finally nailed down! We'll be spending two days at a gorgeous crater lake about two hours away and two days at a cabin in a quaint mountain village about two hours away as well (in the opposite direction). Let's hope my boys sleep well in the new environments!
Listening to... I'll admit Mr. P converted me to audiobooks. I'm hooked. I just finished listening to Beautiful Boy by David Sheff and now I'm a couple hours into Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman. They are both very captivating and interesting memoirs about parenting - the first about parenting a child with a severe addiction, and the second about parenting as an American expatriate in France.
Eating... with more time to cook this summer, of course I've been trying new recipes from my Peas & Thank you cookbook. A few favorites have been the Ginger Pear waffles, Peanut butter cookie dough balls and Teriyaki Tofu. Yummmm.
Wishing... traveling "home" wasn't so darn expensive or complicated or far. Anyone wanna come visit?
So Mexico doesn't celebrate "the 4th of July"... So weird...
(I kid, I kid)
Today we took a little family outing to lake chapala and soaked in the fresh air and lake breeze. Aside from the parking ticket awaiting us upon departure and Rainer's epic car seat meltdown, I'd say it was the perfect morning.
I'm getting around to posting all of my nuggets of wisdom on traveling with little people. Yes I am an expert. And yes my children are angels. (kidding. sortof.)
Travel with toddlers/pre-schoolers:
Rule numero uno - Buy a toy that will be brand new to your child. This is your saving grace and bust it out no sooner than the moment of sheer desperation. Hopefully you can hold out until you are at least boarded the plane and in your seats. For this trip I bought Solo a Disney Cars magnet book. It had about 30 small magnets that he could move and manueuver all throughout the book. It was a great choice because it took quite a bit of time to take all of the magnets out of the packaging, squeee over them all, and then proceed to play with them. The only bummer is they were small so we did lose a few along the way.
I also brought a couple of his favorite toys - small airplanes work great or a few of his favorite cars. Remember SMALL is key. Packing light is super important when you have your children to lug around.
I also packed a small dry erase board (totally thin/flat) and dry erase pen. This was perfect for drawing because he could erase and draw as much as he wanted without fumbling for paper or coloring books.
Pack a snack that your child has never had before! For us it was a fruit roll-up. This SAVED me in the terminal because Solo told me he had to poop then promptly refused after we dragged all our stuff over to the bathroom. I simply whipped out the fruit roll up and bribed him. It worked!
You can also pack a few lollipops as bribery, too. I'm not a huge fan of giving my kid candy, but you gotta do whatever it takes to survive.
Other tips from yours truly:
~ Bring a bouncy ball to play with while waiting at the gate. They are tiny and your kiddo will get out lots of energy chasing it around before getting on the cramped airplane.
~ On the plane ask for a cup filled with ice when the flight attendant comes through with drinks. This is a fun distraction for your child to play with, suck on, rub all over himself, etc. And it's just water, so really harmless.
~ Bring a bottle-shaped sippy cup or two filled with water. They can go through security so you'll have some water to drink while waiting on the in-flight service.
~ Wear comfy clothes - both you and your kiddo. Pack an extra pair of undies and comfy sweats in your carry on in case of an accident or spill.
I think that's it! When your child has his/her own seat it's really a breeze. Try to engage him a lot in talking about your surroundings, be friendly with your seatmates and look out the window a lot. Don't feel bad about getting up and walking around. Anything to pass the time!
Travel with Baby:
Honestly don't bother packing toys for your baby. We all know that their attention span is .02 seconds and it'll just be a waste of precious space. Do, however, pack extra bibs if your baby drools (something I forgot!), be sure to store extra pacifiers in an easy to reach place.
Dress your babe in a zippered footie sleeper. This is comfiest for your baby and easiest to access his diaper. Pack 3 extra.
Pack several wet rags in ziplock baggies for spit up, or clean-up after feeding solids.
Pack a few plastic grocery bags for dirty or wet clothes.
For each solid meal your baby eats have easily accessible a ziplock with spoon, baby food, wet rag, and bib.
Pack one or two THIN blankets (you don't want to be dragging around a huge, thick blanket, trust me.) for swaddling, burping and laying on the terminal floor during your layover.
Other tips from yours truly:
~If your baby is asleep he/she can stay in your pack through security (I use an Ergo carrier)
~Fold down stroller and put it through the x-ray scanner (even the BOB revolution fits!) It's a good idea to keep stroller-clutter to a minimum because of this.
~Even if you breastfeed, pack a few bottles filled with water. It's nice to have the extra drinking water when you go through security. Also - jars of baby food can go through security.
~When booking flights try to pick times that correspond with nap times if possible so the baby will sleep on the plane. NEVER fly red eye.
~Pack baby and child tylenol, small nail clippers, teething tablets, Desitin, and a nasal aspirator in a baggie for your carry-on.
~Have baby wipes and a few diapers handy in the outer pocket of your backpack. (I recommend using a backpack instead of a shoulder diaper bag)
~Use a small (I repeat VERY SMALL-must fit under the seat in front of you) rolling carry on for the things you will access a lot - diapers, wipes, snacks, and toys. Everything else should be in a separate bag.
~Ideally you will pack light enough that nothing has to go in the overhead compartment.
~I have never flown with car seats or pack n plays. I have always been able to borrow from someone at our destination. However, you can check either as a checked bag (the carseat they put in a big plastic bag). I have almost always flown with a stroller, which you keep with you until the door of the plane. (And it doesn't count as a checked bag or carry-on)
~Again, make friends with the people around you so they can hold your baby while you take a potty break!
Anything else you are wondering that I didn't mention?
Time needs to slow down.
In just four days we will be back in Mexico. Crowded, noisy, warm, home.
Just the four of us again.
Here are a few snapshots of life lately. We are so enjoying the warmer weather, lazy mornings, Rainer discovering new foods, and fun holiday traditions.
Have a great week, friends!
And just like that another week flies by.
We've been in Oregon for two weeks now. One more week til Daddy gets here. Time... It soars.
Tomorrow Rainer turns five months. He's eating rice cereal and sweet potatoes. He's rolling both ways and reaching for toys and discovering the world through his mouth. He squeals when you take his clothes off and adores bathtime. Solo is starting to really notice how his baby brother is getting bigger. He asks to hold him now, and they actually "play" together... sortof.
Oregon weather is wacky and we have had snow on the ground two mornings we've been here. In late March. What the what?! Solo is a little scared when it starts "icing" - as he says - and he does not dare to touch the "ice." So we've stayed busy indoors with new toys, our new iPad (wee!), books & videos from the library, bubble baths in the big tub, and cooking with Nonna in the kitchen.
I'm enjoying my one-on-one time with my firstborn. I've taken advantage of leaving the baby with my mom and going on "dates" with Solo. We've gone out to breakfast, to the library for storytime, to the park, out for an afternoon hot cocoa & scone, and to the grocery store to ride the mechanical horsie. The kid's easy to please, I tell you.
I have a post brewing about travel tips with littles... Anything in particular you want to know since my boys & I are now pros? ;)
Happy Friday, friends!
If you've been around here for very long at all you know that I get just a wee wittle worked up about traveling. I told myself when I had Rainer that I would not travel until he was at least 8 months old. I figured by then I'd be home free, well on my way to the one-year-postpartum magical mark of wellness. When Solo was a baby I flew internationally with him five times by the time he was one. Travel became a huge anxiety and insomnia trigger for me. It didn't take long to figure that one out.
One of my very best friends is getting married in Oregon, and I wouldn't miss it for the world. So, come Saturday I will be attempting to get on a very small plane with a 4 month old, a 3 year old, a giant stroller, a kiddo backpack, a mama backpack, and the hopes that our luggage is beneath the plane safe and sound.
I tend to overanalyze scenarios in my mind when I near travel day. For instance, what do I do if Rainer poops and I have to go to the itsy bitsy bathroom to change him, do I leave Solo alone or do the three of us squeeze into said itsy bitsy bathroom? Or what if our second flight gets cancelled and we are stranded in Houston? Me, alone with two kids, no carseats, no cell phone? And what do I do if one of us gets deathly ill between now and Saturday? And what if I can't sleep and I lay in bed having a panic attack? Then what??? Worry much?
I'm trying to heed my own advice and stay.in.the.moment. One moment at a time. Deal with the scenarios as they happen. It's much easier said than done. If I have to take a sedative to sleep Friday night, then so be it. If I have to ask strangers for help, then they better be nice. If our flights are delayed then we will play. If I am exhausted by the time we get to Portland (guaranteed) then I will hand my children to my parents, and I will sleep.
And sooner or later, the wheels of the plane will touch the ground and we will all have survived.
I love this self-portrait challenge from The Paper Mama - it's so true that we (mommas) hide behind the camera more often than not, and why not expose ourselves - our true selves - more often?
Losing these last five pounds of pregnancy weight. I've lost 10 pounds already since the beginning of January. Woohoo! My deadline is March 10th...wish me luck (and self-control).
Getting Rainer to sleep better (although nothing I do seems to help), frequently exposing Rainer to a bottle (in hopes that I can sleep again someday), running a 5k without nearly passing out, and purging our closets (bye, bye maternity clothes!)
Our remaining two years(ish) in Mexico...where life will take us next. How to be a good parent to an ever-changing 3-month-old and a very mysterious 3-year-old (what is going through his head!?) and what should I give Mr. P and Solo for Valentine's Day?
Our trip to Oregon next month - I'll be traveling alone with the boys & staying with my parents for FIVE weeks! (Mr. P joins us for two weeks) I'm most looking forward to: cool weather, sleeping in a big comfy bed, drinking my pap's coffee, seeing my boys be loved on, and running on wide, smooth sidewalks. I'm most dreading: the time change, the 7+ hours on a plane alone with two kids, manuevering the airports alone, and the potential Solo freak-outs when he can't sleep with daddy.
Brett Dennen, The Civil Wars, Mat Kearney, Adele, and Tattoos on the Heart by Gregory Boyle (Audiobook).
Lots of delicious vegan recipes from my new Peas & Thank You cookbook (thanks, Jess!) - Carrot Cashew Ginger Soup, Spicy African Peanut stew, Black bean soup, Summer succotash quesadillas, and my momma's spinach/mushroom/zucchini lasagnas (she froze three for us!)
Spending time with my husband wasn't so impossible with two small kiddos.
(I miss you, honey.)
(lookie! it's me as I type this! Love Photo Booth :)
I can hardly believe almost a week has gone by since logging in here.
My momma flew in on Sunday evening to spend three.whole.weeks with us! Needless to say, we're stoked! And it couldn't have been better timing since Solo has been sick all week, and now baby Rainer has caught it. (Last night I was up probably 15 times with him. I think that calls for TWO cups of coffee today, no?) This week with both boys home all day & sick would have been all kinds of brutal without my momma here to help.
But also? In a weird & twisted way I'm happy in my heart because dealing with a sick baby all night and still being able to get up, get dressed, and go out to enjoy my Saturday means I'm well.
I'm really well.
So, there's that to be thankful for. Can I get an amen?
And, since I'm having fun with Photo Booth...
This got checked off the list yesterday...
That there is Rainer Marco's Mexican passport! How adorable is he?!?
Baby boy is going to take his first trip to Oregon this March. He's pretty pumped... as you can see in the photo.
Have a great weekend!
Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico.
In this picture I am about six weeks pregnant with Solo. Mr. P & I were at the end of a 3 week backpacking trip through southern Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras & Belize. Here, I am on the verge of the most life-changing experience I may ever encounter. Yet, I hadn't a clue just how much life would change, how much I would change. How there would come moments, days, weeks, months, years, when I would be hardly recognizable. Laying aside self for the tiny human depending on me. Relinquishing self to an illness set out to rob me.
Eventually, I reached the point determined to discover again the woman in this picture. The lover of nature, adventure, travel. The explorer of people, culture, language. The thinker, the writer, the wife, the friend.
And now I've come full circle. I'm at the beginning of an experience, caring for our second tiny human, that I really have no idea how much will change our lives. And, for a season, it may be hard to recognize that woman in the picture as me - with dark circles under my eyes, spit up on my shoulder, hands full of a noodly infant.
But, this time around, there is the confident knowledge that she'll be back. She'll be changed, for sure, in ways that are still unknown, but that woman up there? She's still in there somewhere.
This weekend is a celebration of Mexico. Tomorrow is independence day. If you've been reading along for awhile, you know that this is our 6th year in Guadalajara, that we have a love-hate relationship with Mexico, that our sons are/will be Mexican by nationality. We grew up here. We became parents here. We've overcame struggles and defeat and even depression here. Even though we have our days filled with frustration, our hearts will always have a section that's red, white and green, smells of carnitas, and is filled with the sounds of tropical birds, mariachi and bus horns.
Here are some scenes from the past year in Mexico as I browsed through our photo library. Enjoy!
I haven't written any words in a week. I didn't really take an intentional week-long break from the internet world, but sometimes if it just happens, you gotta go with it.
We had a lovely 11 day vacation in Santa Barbara. We enjoyed a few quiet days just the three of us and my Grandma, then we spent the weekend with my bestie and her boyfriend...whom we enthusiastically approve of! Finally, the trip ended with a chaotic but fun-filled week with my entire family. Solo was entertained from the moment he opened his eyes in the morning til he collapsed in bed (with me) at night.
I ate way too many sweets and splurged on a daily Americano with cream. I tried to go on a long walk everyday, soaking in the quietness and the smooth sidewalks beneath my feet. Solo loved spending hours playing at the playgrounds and in the sand. He swam with his cousins and mastered the art of head-dunking and belly flops. Mr. P soaked in the spa, practiced taking pictures, and went on long barefoot runs.
We ate our fair share of self-serve frozen yogurt (sooo cool!), Indian and Italian cuisine, and of course, In-N-Out. We watched Modern Family episodes and played Skip-Bo. We held hands. It was divine.
But. It's good to be home. Or, as Solo has said at least 10 times already, "I'm happy I'm home." I must admit, I did have my almost-regular-back-to-Mexico-crying-meltdown last night. However, it was short-lived and after some reassurance from Mr. P and a good nights sleep, I press on.
It's good to be home.
Every year we go to Santa Barbara, California to see my Grandma, my aunt and my cousin. We've gone every year since Solo was just a pea growing inside me, and we hope this is just the beginning of a lifetime tradition for our little family.
Solo loves it there. He adores the beach. He loves riding the tram downtown. This year he will have a blast speeding around on his two wheeler. And this year, there will be the added surprise of having his cousins join us there, aunts, uncles, Nonna and Grandpa. We are talking - Solo Heaven. (We haven't told him yet)
Last year's visit - exploring Great-Grandma's beautiful backyard, early morning jammies.
What a difference a year makes. Look at those chubby cheeks!
On the beach, a cool April afternoon.
Mr. P, sharing a dance with Grandma Betty at the senior center.
As much as travel can be an anxiety trigger for me, I still love the excitement and anticipation that comes with preparing and packing for a trip. I love the checklists, the clean sheets we leave on our beds, the last minute emails of confirmation, and finally telling Solo what the heck is going on. I love the taxi ride to the airport, the waiting in line to board, the lurching of my stomach as we lift off. I love the squeals of delight from Solo, the energy he exudes, the unknowns. As much as it is harder to travel with kiddos, it is more fun. I'm much more aware of the gift it is to trust a jet to carry us from here to there, where our loved ones are, where memories, still unknown to us, are waiting in patient anticipation, to be made.
See you soon, SB.
What are your family traditions? Do they include an annual trip to the same destination? Do you still treasure memories from these trips as a child?
In Solo-boy's two years and 10 months of life he has been on 9 international trips, which would include approximately 34 different airplanes and flights.
He is a dual citizen.
(Becoming officially "Mexican")
He has two passports.
One of which we will renew for the 3rd time on Monday. Which, of course, has this pregnant lady all nostalgic.
(An early attempt at a passport photo for his first US passport. Fail.)
(The photo we will submit on Monday for his third passport renewal, taken yesterday.)
I hope this is just the beginning of a lifetime of adventure, travel, exploration and cultural curiosity. I hope you always know, without a doubt, that Dada and I support your wingspan... however wide it might be, however distant those wings might take you.
You are the adventure of our lives.
Can't wait to get on that plane with you on Sunday, my little traveling buddy!