Dorian Turns 10

I can’t believe my son has been around for a whole decade. Where did the time go?!

Dorian’s requests were simple this year. He wanted a can of whipped cream, but didn’t think it was available here, and a Geometry Dash cake. Pretty easy, right? Well, it was, until I burned the cake! He suggested I cut off the burned part, which I did. Then I iced the whole thing, thinking icing would be easier than fondant for such a basic design. Boy, was I wrong!

The completed cake looked . . . iffy. It was dry and not that tasty, but we survived. I’d added sprinkles to the inside of the cake, so it looked pretty, at least.

Fortunately, the rest of the day was much more of a success! We got Dorian his can of whipped cream and he was thrilled! Everyone had to have a mouthful, of course.

He also received a BeanBoozled game, which is pretty much the weirdest thing I can imagine. The kids have watched countless YouTube videos on this game and loved it. So, I got a friend to bring me one from the US. Basically, this game is full of jellybeans in various colors, but there are good and bad flavors. When you eat a green one, for example, it might be lime or it could be grass clippings. Brown is either dog food or chocolate pudding. Buttered popcorn or barf (yes, there is actually a barf jellybean. EW!). Needless to say, they had a BLAST playing this game. I didn’t dare touch it.

They also got giant LEGO figures to play with, from Star Wars. Then we packed up and headed to our favorite park, Florencia, for a cookout and some playtime. We took along my brother-in-law, his wife Alejandra and their daughter Sofia 3. Everyone enjoyed eating churrasco and the kids ran around like crazy in the forest and on the playground until they were thoroughly worn out.

Dorian is 10. And he’s VERY happy about it.

Happy Birthday, Dante

I’m running behind these days! Dante turned 8 on the 16th and I’m just now blogging it. Oops. Things have been a little insane here, but that’s another post.

Dante spent a lot of time planning his birthday. Despite this, his requests were simple! A cake, a piñata, and a cookout at Florencia, as well as macaroni and cheese for dinner were what he wanted. Easily accomplished!

He had a terrific day and even told us that it was the best day of his life! Gotta love it when kids are so easy to please. :)

Here is the cake he requested.

For his gift, we filled a box with all sorts of craft and art supplies, everything from markers, crayons and scissors to fancy papers, a mini stapler and stencils. He was THRILLED!

The trip to Florencia was a fun one, though we thought we’d be rained on. It stayed perfect though, cloudy and cool without rain. We roasted potatoes, made chirmol with grilled tomatoes and onion and grilled some delicious beef with chimichurri sauce while the boys ran around and explored the forest.

Nature Time

One of the things I miss most about living here is the lack of nature around me. Sure the neighbors have banana trees and coffee plants, but my patio is concrete and our bit of land is so small that there’s not really room for much. I miss standing in the middle of the forest and feeling the calmness of living things around me.

Lately, Irving has been taking the boys on hikes so I can get more work done. This has made it easier for me to work, but it also allows the kids to get a taste of nature that they don’t really get at home. They headed up to the piece of land on the mountain where I eventually want to live and they have been having picnics there. It’s a popular place to hang out . . .Melvin and Sofia 3 have been visiting, too!

The best part is that the kids are getting some serious nature time, which is pretty awesome. Now I just need to get away from the computer and head up with them!

Semana Santa is Here!

My least favorite time of year has arrived, Semana Santa. There’s a few reasons I don’t like this season, but the main one is that Irving is basically gone for an entire week. I’m not too keen on hauling three kids into Antigua on my own, so I had no plans to see anything remotely related to the processions.

However, my friend, Claudia, had other plans. :) She has two daughters of her own and invited me to come out with them on Thursday, one of the busiest times in Antigua. That’s when the best carpets are set up and the most amazing processions happen. I thought about it, let her know how nervous I am about it and she suggested that her girls could help keep track of wild boys. So it’s a date. I may regret this . . .

As happens every year, the rainy season made its debut last night. Irving was in a procession, so he got soaked! My basil and rosemary plants were sure happy though.

Normally, I prepare for Semana Santa, stocking up on little toys and activities to do throughout the week so we don’t get too stir-crazy, but for some reason this year, I forgot! Oops. So we’re making do with homemade sidewalk chalk, exploding vinegar bags and lots and lots of water in bins for scooping and splashing. Plus, Minecraft, of course.

Dorian was sick most of last week and it looks like he’s rather anemic now, so we are working on that, as well. His lips and gums are very pale and he’s been tired lately. While we will be taking him to the doctor again after this week is over, I’m giving him plenty of iron-rich foods for now. Think my picky eater will go for some liver? ?

I’m thinking that next year, the boys will be older and it will be even easier to get out and about. We’ll see. Semana Santa may end up being more exciting in years to come, when we can walk the processions with Irving like I did until Dante was born!

In the meantime, I’m going to be working on all the jobs that I foolishly took on and trying to prep some exciting contests and classes for the essential oils. There’s no shortage of things to do!

Are you in Antigua for Semana Santa? What are your thoughts on it?

Visiting with the Grandparents

Yesterday, I was getting some water for Dominic when my Skype went off. I missed the call, but when I checked, it was my dad. I called him back and the boys came running in to talk to their grampa.

The call was a spur of the moment thing, so my dad could show the boys some of the new chicks my parents have. A couple of weeks ago, a baby goat joined us for a Skype visit with my parents. Video makes it easy to share ideas back and forth and while I email my family on an almost daily basis, Skype takes things to the next level.

We may not be able to visit Canada as much as I want to, for financial reasons, but I love that my family can still have a relationship across the miles. Even Dominic, who has never met his grandparents in real life, talks constantly about Gramma and Grampa and their little farm. To him, they are part of his life, despite being several countries away.

Sometimes, I think about what would have happened if I’d been born 100 years ago and had traveled. Letters would have been the main method of communication and would have taken so very long. I’m definitely thankful for technology.

Dominic Turns 3

Hard to believe that it’s been three years since my last little one was born! His birthday was actually on the 20th, but Irving was sick and working and then the rest of us were hit hard with this flu/cold/death plague thing. Wow, is it harsh! I got the worst of it, with a 102.4 fever, horrible aching joints, etc. but Irving said it’s my own fault since I used essential oils on the boys and not on myself. Whoops.

Anyway. Back to the celebrations.

Dominic was dead set on a Snoopy cake for months. He had it all picked out, but about a week before his birthday, he decided he wanted a Paw Patrol cake. And not just a Paw Patrol cake, he wanted a strawberry cake because “I LOVE strawberries!” So, I made it happen.

Here are the shields that I made for the cake, one for each pup on the show (he’s only watched the first season).

The finished cake, with a whipped topping covering instead of icing. It seemed a shame to ruin the sweet freshness of the strawberries with sweet icing, so I changed it up a bit.

Inside the cake, strawberries with jam and cream cheese filling.

This cake ended up being much simpler than it was supposed to be. I tried to sculpt puppies to go on top of the cake, but it turns out that I’m not so great at sculpting at 3 am. So, in the end, I stuck printed pups on toothpicks on top, which he pulled off before I even got up. You’ll notice that he took a swipe of the icing, too . . . “I only tried a little bit, Mama!”

Despite this not being my best work, Dominic was thrilled. He was even more thrilled with the Paw Patrol banner that we printed and hung for him. In the morning saw it and ran in to tell me, “Mama, my Paw Patrol is HERE!”

Happy birthday to a very special little boy who has been the perfect addition to the family for the past three years.

Playing Games

One of the games that I got for the boys for Christmas was Spot It, a game that looked like it would be fun and had tons of great reviews. My sister brought it down after I had it sent to her house and I saved it for Christmas.

The game was much smaller than I expected, but it turned out to be just the right size for playing. Each round card has a bunch of images on it, in all different sizes. There are five different games you can play and everyone here has their favorite. Dante and I really enjoy The Poisoned Gift.

To play this game, you each get a card and the stack is turned upside down in the middle. You have to match an image from the middle to one of your opponent’s cards and then put the card from the middle on their stack. The person with the fewest cards at the end wins. You have to be quick and super observant!

What I like about this game is that kids can play it without needing to read or anything. It’s all visual. In fact, it would work in any language because of this, too. Plus, it forces you to think quickly and process the information rapidly. I suspect this is even more helpful for adults than kids.

We all enjoy playing. Irving and Dorian are particularly competitive. Dominic takes his time, but usually gets a few matches in and is thrilled with his lot. Dante and I are a tad slower, but we hold our own and even win sometimes!

There are a bunch of other versions of the game, too, which we might just have to try out!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

I’ve been lax with posting, mostly due to the fact that I have been run off my feet with work, while simaltaneously fighting off multiple illnesses, baking up a storm for the bakery and getting ready for Christmas. It’s all done now, except for the work, which keeps pouring in. I’m hoping that means a successful 2015! In the meantime, I thought I’d catch you all up on the holidays around here.

We always have pjs for the boys to open on Christmas Eve, but this year, they added a bunch of other gifts for . . . ME! :) I was so thrilled.

I was making tamales when Irving came in and suggested that it might be faster and easier if I used a food processor. I said I was going to get one and he said, “That would be so much faster and easier if you used your Christmas present.” Heh, so guess who got to open her gift early? Here it is, in use on Christmas Eve.

That night, we got the kids up for the midnight burning of bombas and fireworks. Normally we go to the other house, but recent events have put us even more at odds with Irving’s mother and his father no longer lives here, so we just hung out in the space between houses, stopping in just long enough to drop off gifts for the Sofias and pick up the ones for the boys.

On Christmas morning, the kids were super excited, of course. The older boys opened their stockings and went to play outside so we could sleep in until six or so, when Dominic got up. He was very confused as to why there were MORE gifts. He kept saying that he’d already opened his and the presents were all done.

Here are my gifts from the boys. Dante made me a stand up fireplace and Dorian wrote me some stories. So cute!

The kids got several games this year. In fact, most of their gifts were shared! We’ve had a lot of fun playing Candyland and Spot It over the past few days. These are awesome games because all three kids can join in the fun.

You’ll recall that we were also making the kids some gifts. They turned out really well!

All three boys got hobby dragons (like hobby horses, but cooler).

Dominic got a set of wooden cookies for matching. He loves playing with these and has been building houses and towers, as well, not just playing matching games.

If you’re wondering why these pictures are such lousy quality, it’s because my camera is on its last legs and most of these were taken with my phone camera . . . which is not very modern. :)

On the 25th, we had Melvin, Alejandra and Sofia 3 over for Christmas dinner. Then, we went to their wedding on the 26th! Pretty cool. We’ve decided to make it a tradition to have our own Christmas dinner, despite attempts from my MIL to ruin it all. It was so much fun being with people we enjoy being around! Plus, Sofia is really getting to love being around her cousins and they all adore her.

Works in Progress

As usual this December, I’ve been slammed with work. Last minute projects that everyone wants finished up before the holidays, but I think this year has been even worse than last . . . thanks to being on Elance. I’m still finishing up a couple of projects and Christmas is just a few days away.

We ended up finding some awesome deals on some games for the boys this year, so they’ll be getting several. I’m very excited because I actually found a copy of Candyland for them to play. They’ve been obsessed with it since they found a mod for Candyland in Minecraft and have asked to buy the game for months now. Well, I found it and cheap, so there will be some very happy little boys on Christmas morning.

However, we do like to give them some handmade stuff, too and despite working so much (Irving has been working nearly every day, as well) we managed to come up with some fun ideas. I designed these dragon heads to become hobby dragons and Irving cut them out of wood.

Irving took the boys to his band’s Christmas party today so I could work and while they were gone, I put some paint on the dragons. They’re far from being finished, but I think I’ll make it.

We are also making a wooden cookie matching game for Dominic, since many of the games are a bit too old for him yet. I saw it on a Montessori website and figured we could easily make them. Irving has cut out 24 wooden circles and sanded them, so now it’s up to me to get them painted by Christmas! I figure I’ll sew up a little bag to put the cookies into, though a cookie jar would be more appropriate.

Are you handmaking any gifts this year?