The Past Two Weeks

Life is definitely a rollercoaster. There are times when it’s so awesome, you just can’t help but whoop. And then there are times when you just feel horrible and want the whole thing to stop so you can get off.

The past two weeks have been like that around here. Irving hasn’t had much work lately, which is usually fine, because I tend to have work when he doesn’t. And I did. But somehow, three of my regular clients just stopped paying me. Why? I’m not even sure. I did the work, sent it, and . . . crickets. It was actually four clients, but I managed to get one to pay.

Just after his birthday, Dante started to complain of stomach pain. It came and went, so we figured it was amoebas or something and gave him basil tea. It didn’t help and on the third day, he was in so much pain, he was doubled over crying and the pain was worse when his stomach was pressed. We rushed him to the doctor . . . only to find the doctor was on vacation. With a crying child in the backseat, we headed for the ER. After a somewhat traumatic exam, it was determined that he had an intestinal infection. We scraped up the cash to get his meds and headed home. On the way home, the car died and we got a phone call from our niece saying that Dorian was vomiting (he’d had an enema earlier). Talk about amping up the stress levels!

After about 10 minutes, Irving discovered that the battery connections were loose. With those fixed, the car started up and we took off for home. Fortunately, both boys recovered fairly quickly.

Hospital visits are never easy with children and for Irving and me, they can be a scary reminder of past visits. I can’t walk into Hospital Hermano Pedro without my stomach clenching and my heart starting to pound. Though it’s the hospital where Dominic was born, it will always be the place I ran into with a nearly lifeless child in my arms and that trauma apparently doesn’t fade! Fortunately, Dante doesn’t have those memories, so he was mostly bored while we sat around waiting for test results.

It’s been two weeks and my clients are still non-responsive. While Irving is picking up odd gigs here and there, life with two freelancers in the house can be . . . shall we say, challenging? ? In addition to the previously mentioned issues, our car is broken down and several other things have gone wrong. When it rains, it pours, right?

Fortunately, life is like a roller coaster. You have dips and twists and all manner of unpleasant downs, but there’s always an up again, at some point. Here’s to that up coming sooner, rather than later.


A Day in the Life

Wondering what life is like around here? It varies drastically, but here’s a look at a typical Monday in our home.

5 am: Older boys are up and bouncing around or making stuff in the main room. I get up because it’s Monday and I have bakery orders to fill!

6 am: Get kids working on school while I knead bread. First items are usually in the oven and we munch on the extras for breakfast or one of the older boys will make breakfast for everyone. Dominic bounces out of bed around this time. Put tea in the microwave.

7 am: Check emails, plan the day while bakery stuff is baking, teach kids science and make sure they understand their work. We often do experiments or they work with their electricity kit. Remember tea is in the microwave, reheat it.

8 am: Start responding to client emails and/or working on the day’s assignments. Do some jumping jacks and Follow the Leader with the kids to get our blood pumping.

9 am: Pack up the bakery goods for Irving to deliver. He heads out, boys ask if they can play computer and we negotiate an amount of time and a room cleaning before they can start. Remember the tea and heat it up again.

9:30 am: Sit down to really work on assignments, getting interrupted every few minutes to check something in the boys’ room, chase a lizard out of the house or get a snack for someone. Cat wanders in, wanting to know why he hasn’t been fed for the tenth time yet. Finally finish my tea.

10 am: Get a call from Irving wondering where the new customer is, he can’t find their house. Give him directions from Google Maps. Get morning snack for starving children (and cat).

11 am: Irving is back just in time to take over child-wrangling while I get on Skype to discuss a project with a client. She wonders if my children are okay, hearing them yelling in the background at a computer game.

12 pm: Realize that it’s lunchtime, thanks to Dominic whining beside me on the bed. Rush to make lunch for everyone and enjoy a few minutes of boy humor at the table before shooing them outside to enjoy the sunshine before the rain hits.

12:30 pm: Back to writing.

3 pm: My niece, Sofia, shows up with her dad, who needs to run some errands. Get her and Dominic set up with paints in the kitchen and move the computer to the living room so I can keep an eye on things. Put some rice in the crockpot for dinner and alternate between proofreading a client’s book and preventing paint from flying all over the house as toddlers fight over the water dish.

3:30 pm: Snacks must be had or everyone will surely perish. Popcorn is on the agenda and everyone settles in to watch a movie while I respond to emails and check my social media.

3:40 pm: Toddlers lose interest in the movie and decide to move into the boys’ room, where they promptly get into everything they shouldn’t. Spend time cleaning up after them and getting them to play out in the main room with a few select toys.

4 pm: Work on my essential oils site for a bit, realize that it’s almost supper time and recruit the older boys to chop veggies for it. Wash Sofia’s face and hands, which are somehow black, before her papa picks her up and give her and Dominic some carrot sticks to tide them over until dinner.

5 pm: Dinner! More fart jokes abound, along with some interesting anecdotes about the ducks and chickens next door. Dominic gets up in the middle of dinner to spend a couple of minutes spinning before returning to eat. Sometimes, you just have to move!

6 pm: Irving washes up while the kids use up their remaining energy by running the circuit through the house and patio and yelling at the top of their lungs. I start herding them, one by one, to the shower.

7 pm: Bedtime for Dominic! Stories for all and a dab of “sleepy oil” (lavender) and he’s off to bed. The older boys stay up reading or drawing in their room. I spend my time checking social media and going over client messages for the next day.

8 pm: Big kids are in bed. Irving puts on a TV show for us to watch together as I work on mindless tasks, like adding products to my online catalog or adding tags to a client project.

9 pm: Chat on Skype with one of my salespeople and discuss what we can do this week to increase sales. Lay out plans for an oil event on Saturday and list everything that needs to be done before then.

10 pm: Write a blog post for The Family Oils while watching another show with Irving.

11 pm: Bed.

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.

February is a Month of Birthdays

Most people think of February as a month of love, but for us, it’s a month of birthday celebrations!

My dad and Irving’s brother, Vardin, both had birthdays on the 15th. We Skyped with my parents and the boys had a blast discussing magnets and Minecraft with them.

On the 20th (tomorrow!!!), Dominic turns three. THREE! How the heck did that happen? My baby is certainly not a baby anymore. He’s a little boy who is very active and decisive. I just can’t believe my littlest one is so old though. I’ll write more on him in tomorrow’s birthday post.

On the 25th, Irving has his birthday. We don’t usually do much here, because his mother takes over the birthday celebrations and I’ve learned to just leave it alone. This year, though, I’m not sure what is happening, since she is becoming increasingly unstable and hasn’t been capable of organizing anything. I may actually make a cake for him this year!

Finally, on the 26th, we have our anniversary. After all the excitement earlier in the month, we don’t make a big deal out of this except to reminisce about how we met and maybe a fancy dinner once the kids are in bed. This year is 12 years since we met. Wow.

What is your February full of?

The Bagel Invasion

In the whirlwind of negative stuff that is happening around here lately, (far more than just the Guate-Publications thing) I’ve been baking up a storm, which resulted in a rather funny story.

I’d run out of yeast, so Irving bought me another bag. The first time I used it was to make some whole wheat bread and the kids and I ended up watching this stuff bubble and grow like a crazy alien lifeform. It was amazing. And very, very active. The bread turned out beautifully and I was thrilled.

The other day, I got an order for two dozen bagels and set to work making them. The first batch came out so incredibly puffy that they were more buns than bagels! I thought maybe I had let the dough rise too much or hadn’t put in enough flour. So I made some more.

They came out the same way! I was getting frustrated, since it was after midnight and I still had a bunch of writing to do. Making bagels is somewhat time consuming, of course, so I wasn’t getting a lot of writing done.

I chatted with my sister who suggested that I should try halving the yeast since it was so darn active. Of course. Why didn’t I think of that?

So, I cut the yeast by half and presto! Perfect bagels. I whipped up the rest of them and got to bed by 1:30.

The end result was a whopping 35 bagels that were so unlike bagels they couldn’t be sold. On the plus side, we have lunch for the next week!

Adios 2014 and Hello 2015

Last night, we bade 2014 farewell and moved on to the new year. I know it’s just another day in the long run, but I always get excited for a whole new year, brand-spanking and shiny. Call me silly, but I love coming up with goals and feeling like it’s a fresh start.

2014 wasn’t a bad year, but it wasn’t the best either. Irving was diagnosed with diabetes just before Christmas in 2013, so the early part of the year was spent trying to get his blood sugar levels under control. However, we did well with that and he has been pretty stable.

We started the year off with a number of financial setbacks that made me want to throw in the towel on writing and just get a real job. Toward the end of the year, however, things really started to pick up and I ended up working right through Christmas! In fact, I have four jobs as we speak, so that’s not bad at all.

Irving and I had a rocky start to the year, as well, but our relationship has strengthened drastically over the past months. It wasn’t easy, but then again, relationships never are, right? It takes some hard work to make it all happen.

Two of my sisters visited this year, which was pretty awesome. My bakery got off the ground. My brother-in-law, Melvin, got married on the 26th. So in the end, we finished up 2014 on a good note.

Now, here we are, on the first day of 2015 and I find myself eager to get this party started. Irving and I have big plans this year. My sister is getting married this year. Dorian is going into Grade 4 and Dante Grade 3. We plan to do a little traveling in Guatemala this year, if possible, and take more field trips with the boys.

I plan to take the bakery to the next level this year and Irving wants to start his carpentry business. There is no shortage of enthusiasm and entrepreneurship this year, for sure!

Of course, writing will still be a big part of my earning strategy, but I want to add more of my own books and increase my prices a little so I can take the higher quality jobs. That will also leave me more time to teach the boys. Hopefully in the new schoolroom, which we are working on over the next two months!

I’m sure there will be plenty of ups and downs in 2015, just like any year, but hopefully it will be good overall for everyone.

How is your year shaping up? Do you have any goals or do you think the whole thing is stupid?


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.

Dorian Turns Nine

I have a nine year old. How weird is that? Dorian’s birthday was on the 14th, but we celebrated over two days since Irving had to work on the actual date.

First, the cake. Dorian is obsessed with Garfield right now, having read something like 10-12 Garfield books that my sister brought down, in a month! So, naturally, his cake was Garfield. I can’t say how fun it was to do a non-zombie theme for the first time in years!

Dorian requested bacon and eggs for breakfast and we had pizza for lunch. After breakfast, the boys played with their new Slugterra blasters and played with Dorian’s Doctor Dreadful – Alien Autopsy.

Nice and gross. You didn’t think we’d have a birthday without ANY gore, did you? ? The boys really enjoyed playing with the Alien Autopsy, especially with the oobleck stomach contents. There is a vibrating motor under the alien that makes the stomach contents crawl up and look like worms wiggling out and then back down again. It’s actually pretty cool.

Supposedly the candy is all edible, but the stomach was basically tiny cookie crumbs in cornstarch, with water added, so that was pretty unappetizing. They tasted it and then just watched it crawl around for a good 15 minutes. The intestines were far more appetizing and involved squeezing blue goo into the intestinal cavity with a syringe which everyone had to try. That produced a kind of gummy candy that you had to fish out of the liquid . . . perfectly gross fun.

The second part of the celebration was going to Florencia yesterday. We took along Sofia and her parents and everyone had a blast! The kids ran and rolled and played until they were exhausted while the adults supervised and cooked up some meat and potatoes on the built-in grills. It was very relaxing.

My Baby Sister

When I was 12, my parents had another baby, Caily. We were very close until I left Canada when she was 9. Over the past few years, we’ve been reconnecting and she’s down here for her second annual visit.

It’s pretty cool to have my little sister here and to get to know her as an adult. She loves cooking (she’s actually a cook in a restaurant) and we spend a lot of time whipping up food for each other. The rest of our time is spent laughing, catching up on Doctor Who and The Walking Dead and talking about life in general.

Today we’re heading to some ruins and plan to enjoy a picnic with the kids. One of the many advantages of homeschooling and working at home!


Psst, Do Your Halloween Shopping Here!

If you celebrate Halloween, you’re probably starting to grab candy and costumes and get your decorations in order. A lot of people use Amazon for this and so, if you’re planning on ordering online this year, can I suggest using my link? You don’t pay any extra, but I get a small percentage.

Usually, I make money from my Squidoo lenses over Halloween, but since Squidoo shut down, that part of my earnings is GONE. So, if and only if you plan to use Amazon anyway, I’d really appreciate if you clicked on the image below before you do your shopping. Thanks!

By the way, any time you shop on Amazon after clicking an Amazon link on my site, it helps us out and doesn’t cost you a penny! You can always click on the link in my sidebar to get there and the cookie will last for 24 hours.