Looking Back at 2012

I like the finality of the end of a year and the beginning of a new one. I know it’s just another day, really, but it feels nice to have a completed chapter in the book. And so, this time of year, I like to think back and see where we were 12 months ago and consider the life changes that have happened.

2012 was a pretty big year for us. I started the year off with a major job that caused me intense amounts of stress, but brought in quite a chunk of cash, so we were actually prepared when Dominic stayed breech and I had to have a C-section.

Obviously, his birth was the biggest event this year. Adding a whole new person to the family is a big deal and this was no exception. My sister visited around that time, as well. She was originally supposed to come for Dominic’s due date, but he was born 2 weeks before her arrival.

We successfully navigated first grade with Dorian and kindergarten with Dante. There were some big spaces where we didn’t do any school because of sicknesses and my trying to recover from surgery, but we did pretty well overall.

The other huge thing that happened this year was that I finally ditched bosses and clients and became 100% independent. It’s been a goal for a while, but I never made enough money to drop the client work. While I’ve had some great clients, deadlines and dealing with the not so great clients were enough to turn me off working that way forever. So being able to transition to just working on my own stuff, websites, Squidoo lenses, books and articles written on spec, has been amazing. While it isn’t a killing and I barely make enough to keep us going (Irving’s music income is our additional money), the fact is . . . I’m doing what I’ve dreamed of for ages!

And now, I have more time to be with my kids and enjoy life because I don’t have deadlines anymore. Much of the income is “passive” so I can not work and money will still be generated, which is a pretty cool feeling. Of course, now the goal is to build on that so that we are able to put something away for a rainy day.

Here’s to a great New Year!

Plans for 2013

This month, I’ve been making plans for 2013. I’ve set some serious goals for myself this coming year and to make sure I can really work on them, I’m trying to set up everything that I can right now.

School: This is one area that we are really getting serious in this year. Dorian is starting Grade 2 in January and Dante will be in Grade 1. This last school year, I had the option of giving Dante coloring and stuff while I worked with his brother. This coming year, I will need to be even more organized, especially with Dominic no longer content to sit in his exersaucer and watch. So I’ve been planning out the school year and collecting supplies.

Work: I don’t have work work anymore. I’m focusing almost entirely on my own projects and only taking the occasional small side job for old clients. So, 2013 is an exciting year on that front. I’ll be working hard on Squidoo, as well as putting out more books on Kindle.

Since I want to get a LOT done (don’t I always) in the new year, I’ve been using December to work on outlines for books and keyword research for Squidoo lenses. That means I can just focus on the actual writing, starting in January. Hopefully that will make everything go faster.

Of course, there is the usual goal to lose weight, which did actually happen this year, but not as much as I would have hoped. More exercise is definitely on the schedule in 2013 and it should be easier since I am far more flexible in my time.

What are your goals for 2013?

Christmas

I know, it’s been and gone. I’ve been busy cooking and making puzzles with the boys and, quite frankly, it’s just not the same without being able to share photos of the kids. But here I am, at last.

We started Christmas just before midnight on the 24th. The boys were really looking forward to getting up for “bombas” and Dorian asked repeatedly if I should set an alarm to make SURE I didn’t forget to get them up. I told him I would be up all night anyway. And I was! This was the first year that I finished up early enough to enjoy the evening, so I played Sims 3 and watched The Walking Dead with Irving. Aren’t we festive? ;)

Actually, my Christmas spirit made a surprise visit when I stopped stressing about making presents and just did what I could and accepted that I wasn’t superwoman.

At 11:30, we woke the boys up. Dorian leaped out of bed and was bouncing around like he was hopped up on sugar already. Dante was a bit slower to get up, but he was excited, too. Dominic was downright confused. (“Isn’t it MY job to wake people up? What are you crazies thinking?”) We bundled them up in their new coats, which Norm and Linda were kind enough to bring down to us, and off we went to the in-laws’.

I’d made mini donuts to take to the family gathering and we blew stuff up and set off assorted firecrackers in the street at midnight and then watched the fireworks in Antigua from our vantage point. We spent some time chatting and eating and then headed home again to have hot chocolate and tamales.

fireworks

mini donuts

And then to put little ones back to bed. Dante and Dominic fell asleep quickly, but Dorian was so excited, he didn’t get to sleep until 3 am. I ended up going to bed and leaving Irving waiting for the kid to fall asleep so he could put the stockings on the beds.

stockings

Of course, everyone was up super early on Christmas morning. Five am, to be exact. I lay in bed, listening to the squeals of delight from the boys’ room as they opened their stockings. Then Dominic woke up and I gave him his stocking. While his brothers got a small tree-shaped bag of candy as their edible, he got a squeeze pack of his favorite pear puree. He was thrilled. “Food? Food?” He wanted to eat it right away!

We finally dragged Papa out of bed to open presents. We may have gone a bit overboard this year, but a lot of the stuff was handmade and a bunch was extra from blog readers and grandparents.

Christmas tree and presents

Dominic was very pleased to find some challenging toys, including a puzzle and this popup in his gifts. He’s already bored with baby toys.

He also got some cars and all three boys got a construction machine (thanks, Norm and Linda!). Dominic is obsessed with anything with wheels, so all he really needed was a car.

The older boys received mostly things for world building. They love to set up their towns and play in them, so we found them some cool buildings and such. I made them a floor playmat and they got Avengers action figures from the grandparents in Canada, as well as some army stuff. We had HUGE areas of the house covered with roads and buildings as they played all day.


(the blue truck is actually Dominic’s, it was commandeered by the Avengers)

Here are a few other things they got . . .

A set of monster finger puppets (Dominic got birds and Zanelle got owls):

monster finger puppets

owl finger puppets

A playmat for their cars:

And I don’t have pics of anything else without excited children poking their heads in. :)

I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas!

Almost Ready!

I’ve been wrapping and sewing in my spare moments. Unfortunately, this time of year, Irving has a lot of work, so that means I have limited time to work. Normally I would sew and such at night, but with the baby in the same room, it doesn’t work so well! So, I’ve been making the most of daytime moments.

Here’s a sneak peek . . . some roads that the boys will be getting. They are made from felt, with puff paint on the back so they won’t slip and slide. There are also curves and crossroads.

We’ve even made some Christmas cookies!

Christmas cookies

And “gingerbread houses.” They’re actually chocolate sugar cookies, slightly over baked so they would be hard. Zanelle came over to decorate one, as well.

We even have a turkey in the freezer this year! And . . . everything ready to start making tamales tomorrow. Yum!

10 Months Old

Dominic turned 10 months today. Ack. He is thisclose to walking, but he prefers to crawl because it’s faster. However, he will hold a finger and toddle halfway across the room without stopping. He also stood up on his own, from sitting on the floor, the other day, but promptly fell down and hasn’t attempted it again.

Vocabulary: We’re seeing a LOT more talking these days. He now gets after people in a very stern voice, complains bitterly (all nonsense, except the name of the person he’s complaining about) and has some serious attitude for such a little person. When he’s defiant, he gives this little chest thrust and a grunt or he just shakes his finger at you and shakes his head to add emphasis.

The other day, we were in Pollo Campero and Dante came crying to the table because Dorian had bumped him on the playground. Dominic quickly took stock, figured the guilty party was Dante and yelled, “Dante! SIT!” And pointed firmly at the chair beside him. Dante burst out laughing and sat down.

Irving has a lot of work this month (which looks like it will continue in the new year, so yay!) and Dominic has missed his papa dearly. After a 3 day absence, Irving was home and he sat down with Dominic to feed him while I took a well-deserved break in the bedroom. I heard Dominic calling me, “Mama? Mama!” so I answered, “What?”

“Papa! Food! Agua!” he told me excitedly. As in, Papa was feeding him. Woohoo. :D

Other words/phrases we’ve been hearing:

“Read it.”

“Me.” (usually accompanied by whatever he wants, “me agua” “me cookie”)

“Give me.”

“This!” (often used when he’s frustrated something won’t work.)

“More.”

“Veníte.” (“Come here” in Spanish)

“Papa sleepies.” (when he wants Papa to put him to bed)

“Jump, Doyan.” (when he wants to jump on the bed with Dorian)

I have to admit that it is nice to have another early talker. Dante was so hard for me because he barely spoke until he was 3 and I couldn’t figure out what he wanted. Dominic still has his moments, of course, but often we can understand what is going on with him because he’s able to tell us.

Physical milestones include turning keys to get the cupboard doors open, ripping packages (usually of food, once he’s unlocked the cabinet) open with his teeth, pointing with one finger, and pointing to body parts when asked where they are. He knows teeth, eyes and nose so far. And tongue. ;)

 

Shopping with Kids

The other day, we went to Chimaltenango to get some final shopping done. Irving had to go get some paperwork from Telefonica so we can file our complaint against them at the bank (they refused to give it to us, so this could get interesting) and instead of waiting around outside for him, I decided to take the kids and do the shopping.

I’ve never taken all three shopping on my own. I stuck Dominic in the cart and the other two boys took turns on the back. It all started out fine, but the store was crowded and it was hard to maneuver. The big boys were a great help. Dante carried things to the cart for me and Dorian helped entertain the baby. But even so, it wasn’t long before the little one was back in the sling and I was feeling a bit frazzled. The big boys were hyper, though they were listening to me and the baby was wailing. By the time we made it to checkout, I was wishing I’d waited for Irving!

We made it out fine and met up with Irving who was coming out of Telefonica just then. He’d wanted to take a look in the store, but Dominic was not in the best of moods, so we headed for home instead, with the baby falling asleep two seconds after we stuck him in his seat. Whew! I think I’ll bring help along from now on.

Kids Say the Darndest Things: Episode 53

Me: “Good grief, that’s a stinky bottom, Dominic!”
Dominic: “Yessssss.”
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Dante: “What is that?”
Me: “Meat.”
Dante: “You mean cow?”
Me: “Yes.”
Dante: “Is it dead? Did they kill the cow?”
Me: “Of course it’s dead! They didn’t cut it off the cow while it was alive.”
Dante: “I’m not eating that.”
I wonder if he would eat it if the cow was still alive . . .
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I brought Dominic in from having a bath.
Dorian: “Hi, Dominic, did you have a good bath? Mama, did he cry?”
Me: “No, he was happy tonight.”
Dorian: “Good job, Dommy! I like to hear that you weren’t crying.”
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Me: “What is Dominic doing?”
Dante: “Cooking.”
Ummmm . . .
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Dante: singing a favorite song with “butt” and other choice words replacing the real words.
Me: “Dante, that’s enough. We only use those words in context.”
Dante: “Why are you raining on my parade?”
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Dorian: “I think I’m full so let’s go straight to the zoo and no waffles.”
Dante: “I want waffles!”
Dorian: “Dante, it’s MY birthday. If I say waffles, we have waffles. If I say no waffles, we don’t eat waffles. That’s how it works on your birthday.”
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Dorian: “Dominic is eating Dante’s cake.”
Me: “What? Can you take it away, please? He’s going to choke.”
Dorian: “Um, well, he kind of already finished it.”
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Irving: singing “Do you like waffles?”
Dante
: “Yeah, we like waffles!”
Irving: “Do you like pancakes?”
Dante: “Yeah, we like pancakes . . . but I like waffles more. Can we go get some waffles?”

The Cake

I swear, Google Images is going to be the death of me. Dorian googled “sonic cake” and came up with a rather inflated idea of what his cake should look like.

“I want three layers,” he told me. “With blocks all the way around and grass on top. And on the very top, I want Sonic standing.”

I told him my basic level baking skills don’t extend that far. I showed him a more reasonable cake. It was flat and had some simple fondant work.

“I think I need more than one layer,” he said. “It’s really important.”

“Well, I don’t have the pans to make multiple layers. What about a round cake with a square on top? Or a heart?”

He wasn’t thrilled, but he picked a heart, “because it means you love me.” Then he told me how it should be decorated, with blocks and checkerboards and hoops. I suggested he wait and see what I came up with. I said I didn’t want him to be disappointed if I couldn’t make it the way he’d pictured it.

“Don’t worry, I won’t be disappointed.”

Well, the big day came. I baked the cakes and for once had no problems with them. They turned out perfectly. I made marshmallow fondant. It was awesome. I did all this in 2 hours that Irving was here, because he had to work from 2 pm on. So the decorating was for the evening. I iced the cake around 5 with green icing and waited until the kids were in bed to work on Sonic.

When I went to knead the fondant, it was rock hard. ROCK hard. I checked how to fix it. Microwave for 5 seconds at a time. Except our microwave broke RIGHT after I’d made the fondant. Just poof, stopped working. I talked to my sister on Facebook and she suggested the oven. I tried that and it melted on the outside and was still hard on the inside. I tried a double boiler, nada. It was a wash. I could slice it, though, so I cut out a heart to put on the top layer of the cake. Painting with food coloring just bled, though.

Unfortunately, I had no icing sugar left. I couldn’t exactly leave the house to get any, either. I texted Irving in tears and he called his brother, Vardin, who tapped at the kitchen window half an hour later with a bag of icing sugar in his hand. Aw!

Dominic had come down with a cold and couldn’t sleep well, since he was stuffed up. I put saline in his nose, but he was very upset and clingy. So I found myself mixing icing with a baby on my hip at midnight. I had to keep sticking it in the barely warm oven because it was so cold in the house that the icing hardened every few minutes.

Finally, I got Dominic to sit in his bouncy chair for a second while I frantically traced Sonic and tried to make a copy in icing. My sister, Che, told me about this method where you pipe onto a piece of waxed paper and freeze it. So I tried that, melting the icing every few minutes and tossing string cheese at the fussy baby to keep him busy while I did it. I had to use Ziploc bags, since I don’t have any icing tips or bags. This worked surprisingly well, though!

The icing image went into the freezer after I pressed the last few colors onto it, once again holding Dominic. I went into the bedroom and got him to sleep in his bouncy chair while it froze and once he’d fallen asleep, I blew up balloons and hung them.

It was time to flip the image onto the cake. In theory, this is an awesome method. In reality, it’s probably pretty great, too, if you have time and the ability to focus on the job. As it was, I didn’t pay attention to the back thickness and it was thicker in the middle than the edges. And so, when I flipped it, the image was wonky and bent and broke in several places. sigh. I put it back together as best I could, painted some fondant rings with old brass food paint and left it at that.

In the morning, Dorian told me it was perfect and he loved it. Aw!

The Big Slide

We went to the zoo for Dorian’s birthday. I had some free tickets for kids since Granada put coupons on their chocolate bar wrappers. These tickets came with a free pass for the giant slide at the “amusement park” beside the zoo. The boys were VERY excited about this.

Until they saw the slide up close.

They decided it might be a bit too scary. Mama agreed. I figured I’d just give the passes to a couple of other kids and we’d go check out the merry-go-round or something.

Then Dorian turned back. “Wait. Maybe I could try it. I do like slides.”

I was nervous. “Maybe you should wait until you’re older. It’s awfully high.”

Dorian shook his head. “Nope. I’m seven now. I’m old enough. I can do this.” I think my heart just about stopped. I gave him the ticket and then he said. “Maybe Papa could come with me.” Whew!

So Irving and Dorian climbed all those flights of stairs and Dante stood at the bottom and said, “I’m glad I don’t have to go. I don’t want to die.”

They got to the top and had to wait for some other kids to go. Then Irving spread out the sack, sat Dorian down and sat behind him.

And away they went!

They reached the bottom in no time and Dorian was beaming. “That was AWESOME! I want to go on something else scary!” He was determined to hit the roller coaster, but it was for 12 and up, so he had to settle for playing table hockey instead. Poor Irving was shaken. He doesn’t like heights and he said the slide was a bit much for him!