Thursday, September 29

Our Shelter

We waited all afternoon to hear from George. After much anticipation, we finally heard him slide his credit card key into the hotel door, which caused the girls to scream then hide, giggling the entire time. The smile he entered with said it all. 


After another meal in a sterile restaurant, we arrived with tired eyes in the dark with rain falling hard and the thunder rumbling even harder. The garage door hummed open, powered by our new opener, a free gift with our purchase. The kids piled out of the van and in they rushed in to fill their new home, their refuge from the world, with their echoing shrieks and extremely tired, nearly over the edge of sanity energy. It was all so surreal, such comfort from the storm. 
And all I could think about was hanging Christmas stockings, and decorating the girls room, and just how far we've come from the tiny space we started out in together on our tiny island. 


We've learned so much about each other and life leading up to this moment, and we now know that any space is perfect for us, that we can make any situation work, hopefully even one as perfect as this. 
Crackers were spilled, a rug was laid, diapers changed and a tantrum was thrown by our littlest girl who is testing the water of what her will is capable of in preparation for her second year of life. And then we had to say goodbye the place we will call home, leaving remnants of us behind, to head back to our hotel room for one last night. 
Tomorrow our journey as a family begins continues, in a house on a canal down in Louisiana. Our permanent shelter from the storm.
And I can't enjoy this moment without taking a moment to give thanks for the support, advice, encouragement and absolute love from all of those who helped us get here. We are blessed beyond words, not for things like houses but for you.

Monday, September 26

Together at Last

We have made it. We are here, its warm, and we are in the South, deep in the South. I guess I wasn't really letting my mind accept that we were migrating to this special part of the country, where the southern drawl, sweet tea, spicy food, and southern charm have a way of making you feel all warm inside. Yes ma'am. Where college football matters, and alliances and rivalries for the given teams run thicker than blood, much to George's delight. This place is an explosion of purple and gold.


I might have a little thing called culture shock going on but I am trying to embrace it all because, well, this is home. I thought I had acclimated back to state side living from island life but I must say, this place is overwhelming me. Cement and strip malls and traffic are constantly clustering my mind causing George to realize what a slow, simple, small town island girl I really am. 


But my refuge from it all-our new house, which is not technically ours yet. Fingers crossed we will be walking through the doors with suit cases in hand Wednesday. George out did himself in the house purchasing department. We have been to visit our new digs and the only part I didn't like was leaving. It might be my oasis from it all until my senses acclimate.


And the girls, well they never cease to amaze. They endured the nearly 900 mile trip beyond all expectations, which I am sure made the mini van driver (their Pop) a happy guy. 
Elsa seems to be adjusting to hotel life quiet well. And she nearly downed an entire plate of grilled alligator yesterday. Yeah. Who knew? 
Nyah loves her new house and has been consuming the local black beans and rice like it's her job. Finally, the real thing, not the out of the box stuff I constantly force down her. But Elsa is still partial to her grandma's seasoned rice and beans. And I am sure its just a matter of time before Nyah picks up a little Creole accent of her own.


And Jude, our sweetest little guy, managed to discover his thumb a couple days before the trip and really became attached during his hours spent in the car seat. Though he detests his car seat, he hung in there during the trip with a little help from the thumb. I know we are not going to appreciate the orthodontic bill down the road but for now, his new discovery proved helpful. And if you're counting, yes, that makes two finger suckers in the family. Genetic? Who knows?
Now, I have to get back to the business of figuring how to set up whole house hold from nothing and prioritize the most needed (with George by my side). I have a feeling our wallets are going to be begging for mercy. 


But for now, a few Louisiana factoids, compliments of Wikipedia that interest me.

  • Louisiana State Crustacean-crawfish
  • Louisiana State Reptile-alligator
  • Louisiana State Drink-milk
  • Cajun-descendants from French speaking French Acadia (present day Canandian Islands of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia).
  • Creole-French, Spanish and eventually enslaved Africans born in Louisiana.
  • Creole (the special meaning)-the name associated with free people of color from the relationship of European white men with (enslaved) African women (the men often freed the women and educated the children from these relationships). After the Haitian Revolution, this population grew to include French speaking immigrants and refugees from Haiti.
Finally, this rich land of mixed races, mixed cultures, and mixed languages is starting to make sense. French influences from every direction. Can't wait to see and learn more for myself and my children.

Thursday, September 22

Many Thanks

We arrived during the early days of summer, a little sad to leave our island life behind and a bit uneasy about the future, relying on our faith in the universe, each other, and our families to help us through. Having no doubt that everything would work out, as it always does.

And we were not let down. Like always, life kept moving at a rapid pace and as I look back, I realize how much we have accomplished, how much we have grown. 


Our incredible girls fell right in and quickly learned the ways of an Indiana summer, our healthy baby boy was born, a Dad went away and went to work, strength was found, a birthday was celebrated, discoveries of big living were made, independence was gained, memories were shared, sibling bonds grew, and though some of the days were long and we felt so far apart, I think we've made it. 

Autumn is here, the corn is tall, and its time to go and do it all again, Louisiana style. I am so glad we got to enjoy these last few days of Indiana at her best. I am confident that the drastically different places their parents are from now hold a special place in these girls' hearts. Many thanks to our family, the friends we've made, and to you, Indiana, for the memories. You have been nothing but good to us. Until next time...xoxo.

The Anticipated Saturday Morning

I originally wrote this post way back in June, a month before Jude's joined our lives (which is hard to imagine, seems like he's always been with us) and before George left and I went at it alone with our three. I came across this unposted moment today and as I read it I couldn't help but get a tinge of excitement knowing that soon enough we will be enjoying these sweet Saturday mornings again, together, all under the same roof. Slow, private, unplanned Saturday (mornings), which I reference below, are by far my favorite day of the week and favorite time with the most cherished in my life. I can hardly wait.


***
I think it might have happened, a little pseudo routine might be forming in our life, just in time for our newest family member to arrive and make everything all wacky again, but in a good way. Obviously we can't wait.


I am only realizing our routine because I have acutally had a window of time to write each morning or go crazy on some projects.


Our unintentional routine goes like this, George gets up (early) with the girls then I get up, make breakfast (our favorite meal of the day which go all out for, daily). George then takes the girls "side" as Elsa calls it (outside) and I clean up at my own pace and chill while the girls are screaming and running outside. Pretty awesome.


And what else is awesome, this masterpiece.

Yeah, perfect with breakfast. Big up to you mother nature, you were definitely showing off with this big ol' melon. This juicy, sweet perfection makes a pregnant momma happy. How did you know? Well of course you knew, you are the ultimate Mother.


Everything is going so smoothly, George leaves tomorrow to pick up our long lost vehicle at a container port in Miami so I will be on my own for a few days. I am sure I will really realize how much I have been depending on him and asking of him when he's not around because lately he has been doing, well, everything. He's pretty awesome like that.


I am going out to play now, I am sure there are some bubbles to be blown.

Wednesday, September 21

Apple Orchard & Pony Rides

We began our trip through the beautiful Indiana country side, with its vast fields of flat nothingness stretching on forever, passing the occasional farmer picking his corn, as we made our way to the apple orchard. 
In my mind, I could think of no better way to spend our last weekend here then with family at Appleworks, a true Indiana treasure and something I couldn't let the kids leave Indiana without experiencing. This place might grow the sweetest apples on Earth.
A few carmel apples and apple dumplings later, I think the girls are definite fans of the apple orchard.

And as the girls rode these ponies I couldn't help but think back on Nyah's first and only other experience riding an animal at a street fair in Christiansted.
Thankfully the ponies behaved much better than this crazy jackass donkey.

Tuesday, September 20

Moving Day

The much anticipated day has come, the movers are here and are packing up our lives at warp speed. 
 I am not really familiar with the concept of "movers" and am definitely not familiar with the idea of someone else actually packing my stuff for me. But yeah, I could get used to this. Where were these guys when I was in college (my Dad is asking himself right now, as he shlepped my stuff back and forth from Florida with a smile on his face)? 

I am so thankful for these guys right now because though we don't have much stuff (Nyah and I moved to St. Croix with two suitcases and a pack n play and came back stateside with those suit cases, some boxes, and a few kids) I can't imagine doing this alone, and with no George. 


So I am playing director for the day while my grandmother is playing with the kids. They keep coming out and sneaking peaks of their "stuff" going out the door. Nyah was a little bothered by the anticipation of the commotion this morning but is pretty excited now that the guys are here. So we will be making do out of suit cases for the next three days until we hit the road.


Now, I must get back to my directing duties.

White House Fruit and Oat Bars

In preparation for our upcoming move/adventure/roadtrip I have been stocking up on things to occupy the girls to hopefully avoid any meltdowns, and obviously healthy snacks are a major part of that. Actually, snacking is key to keeping everyting irie.


Along with the popcorn, fruit, goldfish crackers and such, I will also be adding this tasty, chewy, sweat treat to the snack sack, created by Bill Yoses, straight from the White House kitchen and published in the New York Times (will also include the recipe below). 
I am constantly testing granola bar recipes because the girls love them and I can sneak so many healthy things into the bars without them knowing. I mean, Elsa thinks these are "coookies" and honestly really, that's all right with me. 


My sister in law recently shared an awesome granola recipe with me but it would be freakishly messy in the car and I get anxiety just thinking about the clean up (and flashbacks). But this is hands down the best bar recipe I have found and perfect for travel. We are talking pure chewy goodness here. 


Because if they are good enough for Sasha and Malia, then they are good enough for Nyah and Elsa.


***
White House Fruit and Oat Bars
2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup mixed seeds, such as pumpkin, sunflower, flax and sesame
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup maple syrup
Pinch salt
1 1/2 cups mixed dried fruit, such as raisins, cherries, apricots, blueberries, pears, figs and cranberries (use a few kinds, and chop them up if they’re big)
a shake of cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 350F and line a 9×9″ baking pan with parchment paper or foil, letting a few inches hang over side of pan. Spray with nonstick spray.
Spread oats and seeds on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven just until golden and fragrant, 6 to 8 minutes, shaking pan once.
In a small saucepan, combine brown sugar, oil, honey, maple syrup and salt over medium heat. Cook, stirring often, until smooth and starting to bubble. Transfer the toasted oats and seeds to a mixing bowl. add the dried fruit and cinnamon and pour the hot sugar mixture overtop. Stir well with a heat-proof spatula, then spread into the prepared pan.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Using the overhanging foil or paper, lift out of pan and place on a cutting board; cut into squares or bars. Makes about 2 dozen bars.

Sunday, September 18

Her Big Brother

Not quite sure how much longer, "Hold muh bebeJude," is going to work out for these two. I'm just saying. But she is enjoying it while it lasts.
And her latest display of affection towards her brother-using him like her blankie. Let me explain. 
Since Elsa was tiny, she has been completely good to go if she has her two middle fingers on her left hand and her receiving blanket. Fingers in mouth and blankie caressing her face and all problems are solved. 


But her latest self soothing habit? Fingers in mouth and then taking Jude's hand to rub her face. And she is so content, calm and comforted while doing this ritual. It might be the most innocent and genuine display of affection I have ever witnessed. 


He soothes her. She loves him. He has the ability to stand in for her main squeeze, her blankie. It doesn't get much sweeter than that.



Saturday, September 17

Freckles

Nyah and I had the most interesting conversation the other day while were chilling on the couch, enjoying our alone time together, conversing about life while the two other young-ins' were napping. The conversation was going really well when she suddenly stopped dead in her tracks and with such concern asked me, "Mom, what is on your face?" 


I immediately started whipping around my mouth thinking I had chocolate or ketchup or who knows what on my face. I am kind of a mess lately. And she was all, "No, there. What is that on your face?" And I kept wiping and asking, "What, where?" And honestly I was getting a little nervous because she was looking right at something.  


"Dots," she said. "You have polka dots on your face."


"Ohhhh. No babe, those are called freckles."


After a little giggle from her, we were on to the next topic. Probably something about tying a rope to her new house so she could pull it or something. She is big on this idea lately and I am afraid I don't quite get what she is talking about. But I'm trying.


So yesterday I was packing up and organizing and cleaning behind the couches (hello, total jackpot by the way for Nyah, she had a serious reunion with her toys each time I would move the sofa to reveal her long lost doll shoes and blocks and everything else) when I finally realized Nyah had wondered off and was being way too quiet for way too long. I finally called for her and out of the bathroom she finally came with the cutest little smirk on her face. 


"Look Mommy, I look like you now."
Sometimes I wonder if she is listening. But I am quickly learning that she is listening. To everything.


And so this is how she spent the rest of yesterday and part of today because she of course picked the special kind of markers to make her freckles. The kind that doesn't wash off with soap and water or even vigorous rubbing. 


Oh how I love this creative and funny little freckled face girl. 

Friday, September 16

Summer Shots

After Nyah was born, I was pretty adamant about having professional photos taken every three months. Not sure what made me think this was necessary, but after buying all of those adorable shots I realized that if I bought them then I should probably display them, and thats when the house became a total Nyah shrine. So I decided to back it down a bit.


We haven't had professional photos of the kids taken since last summer and with a new addition to the fam, it was definitely time. So after a little persuasion from my mom (thanks Mom) and finding the perfect photographer from a friends photos on Facebook (thanks Facebook), we went for it.

I have been posting a few of the shots here and there taken by Amber Berninger of Modern Relics Photography but here are the rest of my favs. I am so thankful she was able to capture so sweetly this special time in our lives.








And soon after, all hell broke loose. They stopped cooperating, got a crazed look in their eyes and were just completely over it, and I honestly can't blame them. But it was fun while it lasted.




**The story behind Elsa's saggy britches and too short dress is completely my fault, I take full responsibility. I bought the girls & Jude new outfits for their photos and being (what I thought) was a proactive and diligent mother, I wouldn't allow the girls to wear their new things (after much begging) until we got to the photo shoot. I didn't want anything to get dirty. It wasn't until we arrived and got the kids dressed that I realize that Elsa's "dress" was actually a shirt resulting in the exposure of her last minute, too big diaper cover. Lesson learned.
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