Central America

Para me? Un orden el ceviche mixto, frijoles molidas con queso y papas tostadas, aguacate, y uno agua…This is my go to order here; essentially mixed fish and shrimp ceviche with mashed beans and chips, sliced avocado, and a water. Occassionaly I mix it up by braving a “casado”, or typical lunch, featuring rice and beans, plantains, a salad, and meat of your choosing. The food is amazing here as long as you stick to plant based options as we’ve learned that ranchers sell their best cuts to the united states; shocker, right? But, despite the limited variety of food at the “sodas” (mom and pop restaurants), we’re loving our adventure and new lifestyle!

And, what an adventure it has been. I researched this freakin’ country ad nauseam for months to find the perfect location for my family. As small as this country is however, there’s damn near 30 microclimates and even more variety in cultures. The country is divided into various regions of beaches, valleys, mountains, and forests. Not only does the climate change drastically every few kilometers, but the animals change, the fruits and vegetable options change, the cost of living, transportation needs, internet access, and so on and so on. After six months of extensive research I chose an area of the country I felt I vibed with and then a community I felt fit our lifestyle needs and then narrowed it down to a house I thought was perfect only to find out on our THIRD visit to it that its infested with mold! Ever stayed up all night holding your baby wheezing, gasping for air? Well, I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy. The morning after our first night there I said, “Hell no! We’re not moving forward with this home”.

The beauty of living in such a tight knit community though is this- I posted on our community app regarding the situation and within minutes a neighbor (whom I’d never even met) invited me over to view her home and offered it up to us for six weeks while she travels abroad. What? Are you kidding me?!  This fairy godmother just literally shook my hand and handed me her keys. That would NEVER happen in the US without lawyers and contracts involved lol.

The home is divine, too! It has amazing airflow, which is crucial in the tropics as most places don’t have AC. The breeze off the river that flows behind the property is surreal and our “yard” is covered with lush grass, tropical trees, and the most exotic plants you’ve ever seen. We can hear howler monkeys in the distance and play “I Spy” a yellow bird in the mornings.

Living in the rainforest comes with a few nuances though that can make it feel like permanent glamping. If you can get over those things, it’s paradise! We’ve embraced the no makeup face, dreadlocked hair from the humidity and the jungle stinch that comes from sweating all day long! The surprise cold shower is humorous, the trace ants have become my frenemies, and I’m learning that the low cost of living only applies when you stick to fruits and ceviche from your local fruit stand. In fact, I’ve stopped by this one particular “fruteria” nearly every night and taken home bananas, plantains, avocado, papaya and ceviche for the following day. My “fruit friends” love to play with my babies through the car windows, “Hola guapo” and “que lingo” as they tickle them and bounce their chunky cheeks.

I’m learning alot about my strength as a mother and a woman. I am capable of living without modern ammenities and I can adjust to differences in lifestyle. I’m also humbled by some of the homes I pass each day and the people I’ve met. Their homes do not mirror any Pottery Barn magazine I’ve ever seen and their clothes have no labels, or even tags for that matter. They don’t wine and dine in the five star restaurants of the capital city and most of them have never been outside of their own villages. However, they are kind, warm, friendly, and embrace life every day for each beautiful moment. They try to speak my language out of respect just like I try to speak their’s, both literally and figuratively. I did not come here to teach them my ways, but instead I am here to learn from them. I want to learn the “pure life” and step outside my comfort zone for a cultural awakening!

Pura Vida,

That Girl

 

What if it Was Weird?

My friends and family often comment on how I eat, what I wear, and my parenting choices. I hear, “She eats weird stuff” or “She’s weird about organic”, or “You’ll probably do something weird when they’re school aged, huh?”, but I don’t make my decisions about my wellbeing or my children’s wellbeing lightly. I make decisions based on research based practices. I have made the concious decision to be counter-cultural and do what I feel is best for my family, regardless of the norm. But, what if I weren’t the “weird” one? What if we flipped the script?

What if it was weird…

What if it was weird to see a kid with a bag of Cheetoh’s and a juice box? What if we were used to seeing kids drink nothing but water and almond milk and playgrounds were covered with half eaten celery sticks or roasted seaweed crumbs.

What if it was weird to see a kid with an iPad or a toy that lit up and sang songs? What if we heard a toy like this and it startled us because it was so odd? We’d gotten so used to seeing kids climb trees, build forts, or sculpt masterpieces from mud that when we saw a toy we stared at it like some kind of escapee from a world beyond.

What if it was weird to go to someone’s house for a meal and find out they DIDN’T have a garden nearby? “Huh? Where do you get your food? A store? But, how can you trust how it’s grown or where it comes from?” What if grocery stores were weird because we lived in a world filled with community gardens, farmer’s markets and homemade goods?

What if it was weird to see a TV in a home? What if TV was only for the news or public broadcasts so people rarely watched them and instead spent their time with friends and family traveling, cooking, creating, exploring, talking. What if living room furniture was arranged with seats facing inward to inspire conversation and relaxation instead?

What if medicine cabinets were filled with essential oils labeled with the ailments they cured? What if diffusers filled with Tea Tree oil or Thieves oil were in every doctor’s office instead of cans of Lysol and teachers cleaned toys with lemon and vinegar instead of bleach?

What if, just like the circus, zoos and aquariums were things of the past and the only way to see animals was in the wild, in their natural habitat? Instead of paying to see these beautiful creatures in captivity, families volunteered at sanctuaries and rehab facilities or they vacationed to various parts of the world in hopes of spotting them in nature (gasp!).

What if it was weird to see desks in schools? We were used to seeing kids running up and down the hallways for learning materials for a project, or kids crowded around books in the libraries? What if we saw History teachers dressed up like historical figures, science teachers in lab coats, and math teachers sculpting rollercoasters from Kinex as their students calculated velocities. This became so normal that desks made you think they were being punished for severe misbehavior.

What if it was weird to see an adult on a playground? The parents were usually conversing in a nearby coffee shop so seeing an adult follow a child around a playscape meant the child has special needs and needed additional guidance or perhaps the adult is a kidnapper and someone should contact the authorities.

What if it was weird for a school NOT to offer humanities and liberal arts? Maybe we’d get so used to kids being well-read, versed in poetry, fluent in multiple languages, and playing an instrument or two that if a child didn’t have an artistic talent or hobby we thought it strange.

All over the world you’ll find this “weirdness” I speak of. You’ll see prams parked outside of cafes with sleeping babies while their mother’s enjoy coffee together inside. You’ll see responsible, independent children on mass transit going to and from activities with noone concerned about their safety. It’s perfectly normal to see kids getting out of school by one or two o’clock in the afternoon to go home and free play with peers. It’s not uncommon for a child in primary school to be multi-lingual, play a few instruments, write their own music and perhaps paint or sculpt. It’s also common for a school lunch of fresh fruits, vegetables, fish and gourmet cheeses to be served family style to a round table where children serve one another and hold intelligent conversations about their interests. So, why do we think these things are weird here in America? Why do we think our way is the only way and, dare I say it, the better way? We hashtag “‘merica” as if we’re the only ones living well or free, when we’re one of hundreds of countries with freedom and we still make poor choices about our wellbeing.

Why is it weird to live naturally and respect the environment? Why is it weird to eat only what our bodies are designed to process and treat diseases with what grows in our world? Why is it weird to see a Homeopath whose science dates back for centuries, instead of pediatricians who’ve memorized formulas for treating symptoms, rather than preventing illness. Why do we consider it weird for someone to not only think outside the box, but to live outside the box? How can we possibly expect our world and our society to improve if we keep doing the same thing over and over again wondering why things aren’t changing for the better? 

Stay gold, be different, 

That Girl

My Cloth Diaper Wash Routine

It seems like a lot of people shy away from going cloth because they’re scared of the laundry aspect of it. I understand…it definitely sounds disgusting throwing “poopy” diapers into a machine that also washes all of your clothes. This was the reason my own hubby was a cloth skeptic. When I explained how it all worked, he started to see the light and now we are both SO glad we are a cloth family!

(Disclaimer: we do use disposables when we’re traveling or when it may be inconvenient to use cloth & we also use disposables at night because they just seem to hold more without using all the bulky insert layers.)

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Here’s my washing routine in a nutshell:

NEEDS:
*Cloth friendly detergent – Here’s a chart that rates different detergents to be used with your cloth diapers.

*Diaper Liners – We use these…just lay them in the diaper and it allows pee to soak through to the diaper while holding the poo so your clean-up isn’t too bad. They have worked great for us and they are 100% natural!

*Diaper Sprayer – to hose down the poopy diapers if your forgot a liner (been there, done that)…spray the yuck into the toilet then just toss the diaper into your pail to wash later. We use this bumGenius sprayer and it’s a powerful little sucker!

FACT: Before baby starts solids and you are nursing only, breastmilk is water soluble!! You DO NOT have to rinse your poopy diapers first…just throw ‘em right in the washer (so easy, right?!). I know that sounds disgusting, but it’s true! If you are formula feeding or have started solids, you will want to spray with a diaper sprayer first before it makes its way to the pail.

We use Ecos Free & Clear Detergent, which is a 4-star detergent for cloth diapers and is easy to buy at Target or Wal-Mart. We also have pretty hard water so I put in a tablespoon of Calgon Water Softener with it as well. You should NOT use fabric softeners with cloth diapers (it can cause a build up that will repel liquid and cause leaks).

Here’s my wash cycle (front load washer):
1. Rinse & Spin on cold/cold. Low spin (no detergent yet)
2. Put in Ecos detergent (filled to the lowest line) and about 1 Tbs. Calgon
3. Run the “normal” cycle on hot/cold, low spin, heavy soil, water-plus, with an extra rinse
4. Line dry in the sun (magically, stains lift right out) – just use the dryer on medium if it’s raining on wash day
5. Once a month add 1/4 cup bleach to the normal cycle.

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Now, you’re done!! I hope this takes some of the anxiety out of going cloth and helps encourage you to give it a whirl!  I think you’ll be glad you did (not to mention the $$ you’ll save)! 🙂

ShopWholeHeart.com sells top brands such as TotsBots, BottomBumpers, Blueberry, and Kangacare diapers! Check them out HERE

Fighting the Good Fight: Raising Kids on Faith

“That’s my brother. My Mom calls him Captain Crazy.” Oops. Guilty mom alert and pretty sure I didn’t mean for the oldest to repeat that. But sometimes it’s not just one kid that’s crazy, it’s all three…and therefore I am crazy too.  Every now and then it is truly insane around here. And by insane I mean the most unpredictable, unthinkable, and what-on-earth-are-we-doing kinds of days.

But we’re fighting a good fight here. A really, really good one. It’s a fight to raise men of faith with character, ambition, courage, and (one of my favs) a healthy sense of humor.

Have you ever just watched a little boy play? Maybe a three year old captivated in his own little world of dragons and swords (squirrels and sticks) with an uncontainable zeal for life and enough energy to run a marathon. Always on the move; jumping, spinning, and throwing himself on the ground. On multiple occasions I’ve questioned my children’s hearing because I literally must shout their names 3 times before they snap out of dragon world with a, “me?” Yes sweet child, you. I am trying so terribly hard to help you tame that wild little spirit.

It feels like a lost cause to correct every single thing that my children do in the course of a day. Why? Because it is a lost cause.  In my mind, constant correction doesn’t tame the spirit, it crushes it. I love, love, love the wild little side of my boys so in these young years! The day to day is tough (understatement of my life) but my husband and I try to focus our efforts on a few broad categories and expect to focus more on specifics as the boys get older (check back in about 7 years for that post). And before friends and family laugh at these, remember that I said we’re working on these; we certainly have not mastered them.

LISTENING: My sweet boys have the biggest and brownest eyes you have literally ever seen. 

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I’ve learned that they have a certain stare that can be translated, “Mommy, I see your mouth moving but I’m not hearing any of your words.” My new approach is to make eye contact, give short and concise instructions, then have them repeat what I said. It works a solid 60% of the time. In my mind, listening and following through will be appreciated by future teachers, will get us closer to being out the door on time (I once heard myself say “put on your shoes” 12 times), and will certainly save my sanity.

RESPECT FOR STUFF: Literally everything falls into this category…toys, utensils, cups, papers, books, trees, flowers, chairs, shoes, floors, cars, etc… Little boys must touch everything…EVERYTHING!! I tell myself that it’s part of learning, which is true. However, breaking things is not ok. One of my pet peeves is things being ruined or broken just because “he breaks everything.” Don’t get me wrong here, my kids have broken, spilled, torn, and squished plenty of things but I try to stay a step ahead of them or at least use teachable moments to constantly encourage respect for ‘stuff.’

ADVENTURE: One look at kid entertainment and you’ll see superheroes, explorers, discoveries, and a whole host of action packed adventure. My sweet boys seem to be “adventurous” in quite scary ways; jumping off couches, scaling high furniture, climbing the door frames like monkeys, or sword fighting using any and every object that is remotely long or skinny. 

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It is truly a case by case basis to figure out what we will and will not approve of for the boys. Some of their suggestions are an immediate ‘no.’ But other suggestions have me coming back to a couple of thoughts; we are raising men and men love adventure and adventure is ideally both fun and safe. Will they possibly get hurt? Yep. Will they possibly build confidence? Yep. Will I possibly regret this? Yep. Will I possibly be overcome with pride? Yep. Is parenting a whole host of difficult questions? Yep.

CAMARADERIE: I am not competitive; never have been, and never will be. But these boys? I can’t even count how many meltdowns per day we have over who is the ‘winner,’ the first, best, fastest, tallest, loudest (my middle child always win this one), and the list goes on. The only real loser of these conversations is me! So we started to focus on brotherhood, teamwork, camaraderie, and we made a shift to encouragement over competition. 

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And let me tell you, it has been GLORIOUS. Good attitudes make winners and bad sports make losers. Talk about a good fight! Fingers crossed that this one pays off when high school sports begin.

Don’t misunderstand me here, we do a whole lot more parenting than these four things. But life with boys can quickly become a crazy house full of little minions that don’t listen, break everything they touch (which is going to be everything), run wild in dangerous ways, and allow natural competition to break one another down. We certainly don’t get it right every time but we’re trying and we’re fighting the good fights.

From the battlefield,

Mommy Pigg

 

 

 

Ready or Not, Here He Comes: A Mother’s Birth Story

It was March 1, 2015, 6:30 am on a Sunday and I was awakened by a gush of something warm and wet… Oh crap! Did my water just break?! I was 36 weeks and 4 days pregnant with my first baby and my husband was on a fishing trip 4 hours away. This can NOT be happening!

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How fitting that I found out we were pregnant while Frank was fishing and I might give birth while he is fishing, too! Oh Lord… Trying not to freak out, I called my mom and told her to come over. I took a shower, finished packing my hospital bag, paid bills, changed the litter box, and fed the cats. Oh, and I called Frank and I called Frank and I called Frank. Of course, he wasn’t answering. He was wade fishing and his phone was in the dry box on the boat! Did I mention that I was trying not to freak out?!

While I was waiting for my mom to arrive at my house, I prayed. I prayed HARD! I prayed that God did not let Bruce come until Frank got home that evening. I’d cross my legs as long and as hard as I needed to, but this baby MUST. STAY. IN.

After a few tests and listening to the sweetest heartbeat in the world, the nurse let us know that my water had not broken, I was not effaced and was only dilated .5 cm. March 1st was not going to be Bruce’s birthday after all. I must say, I felt a mixture of emotions. I was relieved that Frank wouldn’t miss his birth, but I was also disappointed because I was more than ready to meet our sweet baby boy.

Fast forward to 3:00 pm that same day… While at Target, I started getting really sharp cramps. I thought it was just from the nurse checking my cervix at the hospital, so I wasn’t terribly concerned; however, they were painful enough for me to want to go home. If you know me, NOTHING can get me out of Target before I’ve walked around the whole store 30 times!

Once I got home, I took a bath and the cramps continued to intensify, so I Googled what contractions felt like. Ya, I know… Google solves everything! Throughout my pregnancy I never had Braxton Hicks, so I had no idea what I was up against. I quickly realized that I was most definitely having contractions! Oh crap! Did I mention that Frank had only recently left the coast to head back home?!

I downloaded a contraction app on my phone and began timing every time I felt a contraction. What did we do before smart phones?! During this time Mom called to check on us and I told her I was having contractions. I didn’t want to ask her to come over since we had already gone to the hospital once that day and it was a false alarm; but, she must’ve known I needed her, because she rushed back over.

We called the hospital again and the whole time the contractions were getting worse and closer together. Holy cow! I thought I was going to die! I could barely stand up! At this point they were five minutes apart for over an hour. It was definitely  time for us to go back to the hospital,  because I was absolutely, positively in labor! On our way, Mom called Frank and told him to come straight to the hospital because my contractions were now 3 minutes apart! We were having a baby!

We arrived at Cedar Park Regional Medical Center, for the second time that day, and were taken straight to triage around 6:30 pm. The same nurse who was there that morning was there still. She checked my cervix and I was 100% effaced and was 3 cm dilated! They admitted me and prepped us to go straight into Labor and Delivery! Frank FINALLY arrived around 7:00 pm! Oh, thank you, God! My contractions even eased up a bit once he got there.

Labor

While in Labor and Delivery, they had to treat me as though I had Group B Strep, because I hadn’t been tested for it, yet. I needed to get the complete bag of antibiotics before I could get my epidural and let me tell you, I was NOT the most patient person. Hurry up! I NEED DRUGS! NOW! I kept asking Frank and my mom if the bag was empty and they LIED! They kept saying, “Almost. It’s almost gone.” Side note… It finished emptying an hour AFTER Bruce was born!

The entire time I felt like my insides were being ripped apart by a vicious grizzly bear! Contractions are NO joke! I was also getting pretty pissed at my nurse, because she didn’t seem to have any sense of urgency. Didn’t she realize that I was currently in the most pain ever to exist?! At times, I wanted to claw her eyes out!

Suddenly, at 8:15 pm I felt that feeling that every mom talks about; the need to push. Guess what? The nurse wasn’t in the room and the doctor hadn’t arrived yet! I yelled and Mom ran to get the nurse, who was casually strolling into the room to see what all the commotion was.  She went to check me and was shocked when she exclaimed, “She’s complete!” What?! Complete?! That means I’m 10 cm! That means… NO EPIDURAL! Oh crap! The doctor came skidding into the room just in the nick of time, because Bruce came fast and furiously at 8:36 pm!

I’m not going to lie, I think I was more excited that the pain was gone than the fact that Bruce had arrived, until I laid eyes on him! I couldn’t help but think, I did that! I delivered that perfect 5 lbs 8 oz little man without an epidural, without any drugs at all!  That was so not a part of my birth plan, but it was God’s plan and that’s always the best one!

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I would love to hear your crazy delivery stories!

The Best Daddys Make the Best Grampys

Growing up, I’ve always been a Daddy’s girl. Mom and I would butt heads and I would run to my dad, bat my eyelashes, and get what I wanted. Every. Time. This could be because my dad wasn’t around a whole lot. He worked long hours and when he came home he was usually too tired to play; however, his opinion was the one that mattered the most to me. He was the one I always wanted to impress and never disappoint. We always shared a very special bond and I would NEVER have it any other way.

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My dad is a quiet soul. He observes a lot and doesn’t talk much. When we were younger, many of my friends would make it a challenge to get him to talk more; however, over the last several months I’ve seen a huge change in him. He’s developed a deeper relationship with Christ, doesn’t work nearly as much as he used to, is more present than ever before, and has never smiled so much or so big in all my 31 years! He has been the most amazing Grandpa Geoff to Malcolm and Addison and the best Grampy to Bruce.

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Before Bruce was born, my dad wrote him a letter that I want to share with y’all. I was given this letter at our shower only 2 weeks before Bruce made his surprise appearance. I refused to read it in front of our guests, because I knew it would make me ugly cry! My dad has always had a way with written words, but this letter took my admiration for him to a whole ‘nother level. This letter encompasses who my dad is and why we are so very blessed to call him ours!

“Hey there grandson, Bruce Geoffrey, this is your Grampy here, counting the days until your arrival. Not quite six weeks more until we get to see you in person, to hold you, to love on you, and to welcome you into this world. I’ll be there when you open your eyes, the gray haired one… Your Grandma and I are so excited in anticipation of your arrival. We talk about you everyday!

I have a couple of areas where I can provide you guidance as I am a very seasoned veteran of this world and have had my share of life experiences.

1. Always follow the rules, even the little one as they are typically there for a good reason. You might not always agree with them, but rest assured that someone before you has already chosen not to follow them and suffered the consequences.  When you follow the rules, life usually works out okay…

2. Choices you make will create your successes as well as your failures.  The point being is that you need to consider the territory ahead and decide which pathway to follow.

3. Follow your conscience in determining what is right from wrong.  You may not understand now, but you will quickly learn to be mindful of your inner voice.

4. Be advised that if a situation arises where your Mother calls you by your first and middle names, that you have probably done something wrong and will be held accountable.

5. Seek the advice of your parents and grandparents, too. They have been around a lot longer than you have and are more than willing to share their journeys. Whether you believe it or not, they ARE smarter than you for many, many years to come.

6. Pay attention to what is going on around you and in your heart to create opportunities for good things to happen in your life.

7. Respect your parents as they love you and only want what is best for you.

8. Remember, Grandson, that Grandma and Grampy with always LOVE YOU too, because that’s what grandparents are made to do, just as your parents will.  We will always love you unconditionally, through the good times and the, let’s just say, the more challenging times.

There is no doubt in my mind that you will have the opportunity to teach me a thing or two as well.

One last thing for now little fella, I want to thank the Good Lord for blessing us with the opportunity to do one of the most fun jobs in life’s mature years; being a grandparent. I can’t wait to meet you, hold you in my arms, and rock you!”

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Crying ALL the tears… How did we get so lucky?! This year on Father’s Day, I can not wait to celebrate the man who has been the BEST Daddy to me and has become the BEST Grampy to my son! I love you all the way to my back, DADDY!

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