Friday, June 28, 2013

7 quick takes vol. 4

1. Tomorrow is my birthday!.  The last couple of years I’ve tried to make my birthday a bit of an adventure (see here and here), but this year I just want to not have to cook or do dishes.  If someone washed my floors for me, I think it would be the best birthday ever.  I want to go out to eat at a new restaurant in Cayo, and I have been looking forward to it for weeks.  Not really because of the restaurant, but for the chance to go out sans kiddos and not have to think about what is for dinner.  I do believe this officially makes me feel old.

2. Miss M is in a stage where she wants to be held on my shoulder at ALL times.  I am loving it, because for a while I thought that I would never have a chance to be a mom to a new baby.  There isn’t much sweeter then a little baby asleep on your shoulder.  On the other hand—well that hand is full of baby.  So not much is getting done around here.  I am grateful for a phone + internet,  and am spending way too much time sitting on the couch holding Miss M and browsing Pinterest.

3.  I am failing cloth diapers.  I think I got sucked into the “cloth diapers are soooo easy” spiel given by countless mommy blogs and forgot that I live in a third world country and nothing is as easy here as it is in the States.   Here are my realities A) any water pressure we have is due to gravity.  Our toilet does not have enough pressure to use a diaper sprayer, which means cleaning dirty diapers by dunking them in the toilet water (GROSS) or taking them outside and rinsing them off at our outside sink (impractical while home alone with a baby and 2 year old). B) we do not have hot water. Thus I can’t do boiling hot pre-wash sanitation super cycles, or whatever it is that mamas in the States swear by to get the diapers clean.  Nor do I have access to special cloth diaper detergent. C) I do not have a drier, everything is line dried.  When it rains for a week straight (this is the tropics, it happens) all laundry ceases to be washed.  So I am dealing with diapers that stink a little even when they are clean, and I’m not ok with that.  Also, I tried soaking the dirty diapers overnight in my washer and holy cow I totally should have known better (I once soaked dried beans overnight and woke up to a nice bubbly fermented concoction).  It took about 4 wash cycles before every piece of clothing washed stopped smelling like the time you went to the beach and put a bunch of seashells in a bag and then found the bag a week later and opened it up…. Yeah. 

4.  A few months ago I read the book Happiness At Home, which was meh and not really recommendation material.  However, it did get me thinking about what would make my house more pleasant.  And the answer was…. bunting.  It makes me happy.  I started in January, and every month I try to make a new kind and hang it somewhere.  This month I did a mini version on a wreath and I love it.

5.  We have horses, and they are nosy.  One may have given Miss M’s hair a little nibble.

6.  Fun fact—this horse was born red
 here he is a couple years ago.  

Now he is totally gray.  He was named Blaise for his white forehead blaze, but now you can hardly see it.

7.  gratuitous cute baby picture.

subtitle:  burping is bliss

Friday, June 21, 2013

7 quick takes vol. 3

Linking up with Jen at Conversion Diary

1. Sunday was Daniel’s first father’s day, and we will never be able to top it, because he got to autopsy a cow.  One of our cows died suddenly that morning, and the vet decided it would be good to do an autopsy, which was probably the only thing that could have slightly redeemed this sad situation for my husband.  (he is a farmer and agriculture / science teacher/ science nerd :)  He came back from 2 hours of cutting up a cow in the rain raving about how cool it was, and how he and the vet had seen things neither had ever seen in a cow before.  They did not figure out what caused the cow’s death, though…. Anyways, the only way to top this on my husband’s scale of things-that-cause-excitement would probably be to buy him a new tractor.  Maybe on his 50th father’s day.

2. Daniel starts summer break next week!!  I have a whole list of projects.  I’m excited for him to be able to spend some more time with the kiddos, the Babes especially.  He idolizes Daniel, and copies him in any way he can.  It’s really cute.

3.  One of our summer projects has started already—we are building a storage shed in our yard.  This might not seem like a big deal, but I live in a 500 square foot house, so any extra space is precious. The plan is to reclaim the under-the-stairs space currently used for storage, and turn it into a Babes play space/ craft nook for me.  I am super excited.

not my house. sigh.  image from here

4. Our upstairs room is one open 10x20 space.  In that space we have 2 cribs, our bed, 2 shelves, 2 bureaus, 2 clothes racks, a wardrobe, and a bunch of random stuff such as our bikes.  Utility rather then beauty is the theme.  This has not stopped me from pinning a bunch of nursery ideas to my Pinterest board.  A girl can dream. 

5. How is it that my toddler can climb on top of the table in 10 seconds and grab the forbidden cookie without disturbing anything else or making a sound, and yet without fail his elbow knocks over his drink every. single. meal?


Laundry is taking over my life.  At least it is cute.


The Babes got boots to match his hero.  

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


Saturday dawned bright and clear and windy.  The morning was spent rushing around checking items off my list, decorating and cleaning and taking breaks to feed Miss M and Whoops!  the tent is going to blow away! but somehow it didn't.  The wind battered my carefully considered decorations, and even before we left for church half of my rainbow of balloons had popped.  The border of twisted white crepe paper was so stretched and whipped by the wind it looked a lot like... toilet paper.  Amazingly we all piled out of the house only six minutes late!  And then halfway to church I looked down and realized I forgot to wear my shoes.  Yep.  I left the house in my battered, neon ORANGE flip flops that I wear around the house.  Too late to turn back, so I just laughed and decided it was a fashion statement.

The christening was beautiful, a church full of family and friends.  Miss M slept through the whole thing, and the Babes fussed until the Holy water was poured over his head, and then he laid there and grinned hugely up at our priest.

Back to the house, and miraculously the tent was still there, although levitating periodically.  The 50 or so guests we had did not seem to mind.  They were too busy eating the enormous amount of food we somehow ended up with.  Barbeque, veggies, fruit, chips, fresh goat cheese our neighbors brought, 3 huge cakes and about 100 cupcakes.... we all ate well, to put it mildly.

authentic Belizean BBQing right here. 10 whole chickens, 20 burgers, and I don't know how many hot dogs were cooked here

The biggest hit of the party was the piƱata   I don't think I ever encountered one as a child, but seeing these kiddos attack it with such joy made me wish I could have experienced it.  The babes was scared of it at first, and ran away, until we put his favorite stick in his hand and told him to yell "Vaca! Vaca!" ("cow, cow"-- he loooooves to chase cows around).  Then his face lit up and he spent the rest of the time gleefully whacking, no where close to actually hitting the thing.  Imagine, being 2 years old, handed a stick and actually given permission to smack away!  Heaven.

We are so, so blessed in our family and friends.  Without exception everyone has accepted our babies with as much love and joy as we have.  Miss M was passed around and cuddled and enjoyed by everyone (and continued to sleep through it all).  Everyone sung Happy Birthday to the babes, and the look on his face was indescribable.  It was such a wonderful, wonderful day.   

Friday, June 14, 2013

seven quick takes: party edition

1. I’m knee deep in preparations for a huge party we are throwing this weekend.  We will be combining a celebration of Miss M’s christening and the babe’s birthday, and somehow the guest  list has crept up to around 70 people.  I’m rather surprised at how in-stride I’m taking this, because I remember when Daniel and I were engaged and I freaked out about cooking dinner for his family, which I think was 9 or so people.  I have to say I’m a lot more confident in my cooking skills now.  Plus I’ve outsourced 90% of the food to willing volunteers, so I can focus on decorating details and cupcakes.  Those are the things I really enjoy, and I’m having a lot of fun with everything.

2.  My pinterest board gives an idea of what I’m going for:  lots of bright colors, balloons, and bubbles.  Also a pinata.  Basically designed to blow a certain 2-year-old’s mind.

3. My go-to chocolate cake recipe is Hershey’s chocolate cake.  I usually follow it exactly, and I’ve never had a bad batch.  The last step of adding boiling water seems strange, but the cake is always so moist.  Once I substituted coconut milk for regular milk, and it was excellent, I might try that again in the future.

4. As for frosting, I had several completely disastrous  experiences with frosting + high heat and humidity in the past before I discovered the secret to no-melt frosting.  And the secret is: shortening.  I know, gross, but a) no one can tell and b)it beats the heck out of butter based frostings, which last 2.5 seconds before completely melting into a greasy puddle.  Even without any refrigeration at all, the shortening-based frosting holds indefinitely.   My method is to add things as I go and not worry about following a recipe, but here are the ingredients:
shortening, milk, powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and dream whip powder (not sure if you can get that in the states, but I think it is just powdered cool whip).  Combine  with a mixer, adding liquids or more sugar as needed to get a nice texture.

5. This is the first time I’ve shopped for party supplies in Belize, and it’s been interesting.  Getting a pinata was as simple as popping over the border to Melchor, where multiple shops have a wide selection.  I got a huge (HUGE) traditional star, and boy did I feel authentic carrying it past all the tourists when I went back through customs.  It was all of $10 US.  Helium for balloons is a different matter though-- I’ve been to 3 different stores that sell helium balloons, but all of them are out of helium.  I've been told that the whole country is out of helium, so I guess I'm stuck.

6.Miss M will wear the family christening gown, sewn by my mom and worn by all my siblings and myself.  It is absolutely perfect.  As for traditions from Daniel’s side, we will be having the Mass at the chapel that his mother built, and where all the grandchildren have been baptized.

7.  As for the Babes, he will be wearing a mini guayabera.  The cuteness factor is 1000, but as it is white, my strategy will be to put it on as we are walking into church, and probably peel him out of it as soon as we leave.  His current hobby is picking up handfuls of dust from the dirt road and pouring it onto his head.  Enough said.  

Thursday, June 6, 2013

7 quick takes

Here’s the thing, I want to blog, I really do…. I write blog posts in my head all the time, but they never make it to the computer, cause when I sit down my mind turns off.  So I’m going to try joining up with the 7 quick takes linkers.  It is what it says- every Friday, I’ll try and blog about a few random things, and not worry too much about pictures or telling a coherent story.  Cause right now I would not describe myself as coherent.

taking pictures with my left hand requires a serious face

1.     First and most important, little Miss M.  Sorry to post a teaser picture and not follow up (although if we are real life friends, go check my facebook page for lots of pics!).  Miss M is one month old today!  We  have been her parents since she was only 30 hours old, and if everything goes right we should be her long term mom and dad.  I don’t like to write a lot of details or use certain words to describe our situation here because Belize is such a small country, and I am quite recognizable (how many skinny gringa girls with goats in Belize?  Not that many.)  so to prevent certain google searches from linking to my site I’ll continue to be a bit vague on that front.  Miss M is the most laid back, chubby little kiddo and we love her to pieces.

2.     And of course we still have the babes, baby K, who will be 2 years old in a little bit.  That means that in the last 8 months we have gone to from childless to having 2 under 2.  We have the lost brain cells to prove it.

3.     For example, today has been the pinnacle of my brainlessness.  I decided to start a wash of cloth diapers (more on that in a bit) which involved turning the hose on to fill our washer since we use a vat with no water pump and I have to fill the washer manually.  An hour and a half later my husband came home and discovered  the filled washer….and  the solid 2 centimeters of water covering our entire bathroom floor since I forgot to turn the hose off. 

4.     Miss M is a good sleeper, but she is still a newborn and gets up a couple of times a night.  I do not do well with lost sleep.  I made it through college and grad school without pulling a single all-nighter because my brain does not function that way.  Anyways, about the advice “sleep while the baby is sleeping”… how does that work when you also have an almost 2 year old?  When people meet the babes, the #1 comment is, “wow is he energetic!,” [followed by nervous laughter as they mentally cross fingers hoping we will never ask them to baby sit].   My father-in-law had 7 children, 5 of them boys, and after our weekend visit he kept repeating in astonishment, “that boy has been here all afternoon and he has never stopped moving.”  Yep.  No naps for me.

5.      Cloth diapers.  I have not figured out how to adapt this to Belize quite yet.  We are part-timing it, doing disposables at night and when going out, and cloth during the day.  Mostly to save some money and also because we have to burn all our trash and wet diapers are a nightmare to burn.  Anyways, my problem is what to do with wet  cloth diapers.  I’m nervous to throw them in a water-proof bag until I do wash cause I don’t want a moldy mess.  Here people throw them in a bucket to soak until washing, but having a bucket with water around the babes is a no-go.  Most likely it will end up dumped on the floor, but I don’t want to take the chance of him falling in either.  Right now I just throw them up on the line when I get a chance each day but this sometimes leads to a buildup of stinky wet diapers hanging out in the bathroom till I go outside.  Ideas?

6. On to goats.  We are down to 6, from about 20 (we downsized to our best), and we are finally seeing the benefits of almost 5 years of breeding.  The babes drank powdered milk when he came to us, but a few months ago we were able to switch him to goats milk exclusively.  We saw a change in a week, no joke.  His skin cleared up, he looks sleeker, and his digestive troubles stopped.  He’s gained more weight in the last 2 months then he had in the previous 6 months.  We are so fortunate and so happy that we decided to get into the goat hobby years ago.

7.    And finally, I realized that I first came to Belize almost 9 years ago, which is the longest I’ve been in any place other then the town I grew up in.  Maybe in another 9 years I will finally have this living-in-Belize thing down pat….

Edited to add:  aaaaand just to cap it all off, I published this on Thursday instead of Friday, and it seriously took me half a day to figure out why no one else had put up their Friday posts... 
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