Friday, December 28, 2007

first time feast

I know, it's not people. It's totally carnivorous food. I couldn't resist - it was my first crown roast, my first big festive thing-I've-never-tried before that wasn't a cake or dessert, and it was gorgeous and awesome. We ate Christmas Eve dinner at my sister Jeanna's house, it was a small family celebration (some local family were out of town and our out-of-town guests had yet to arrive) and it was lovely. Crown pork roast with a wild mushroom stuffing and a glazed pear and kumquat garnish a la the holiday issue of Martha Stewart magazine. Now, that is something I never saw coming, me getting excited about Martha. Who knew?

Saturday, December 8, 2007

a lovely holiday of Thanks and more

Augustus, sand and sky
giving thanks, Florida style
extended family for Thanksgiving

Augustus and Uncle Neil in motion

Magdalena, an orange and sunlight

Magdalena helping Ethan clear a fence line

Thanksgiving was a glorious family celebration this year. Neil and Tammy came in from the panhandle and Tim, Dave's brother, came in from Texas. We are thankful for so much, so many blessings, so much love, so much abundance. I was at the commissary, shopping the Sunday before Thanksgiving, and I asked someone working in the refrigerator behind the dairy section if there was more cream. While she went to look it struck me, if this is the worst inconvenience I have, waiting for somebody to find heavy whipping cream, then all is well. I thought, I've never waited in a bread line, never lived through food rationing, never lived in fear of shrapnel. I've also never had these particular thoughts before on Thanksgiving, I guess it's a sign of the times. But that one little pause, waiting, with about five other folks, gave me the opportunity to be even more thankful than I was. I ended up grateful that, when there was no more cream, all I had to do was stop by Publix on the way home. Easy.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Halloween, a birthday kitchen and dancing at Heming Plaza

all the woodland creatures plus a kabuki grandmama
the fairy and the elf
loving the merry-go-round
putting together the birthday kitchen with the birthday boy in his birthday suit
cooking in his birthday suit

Halloween was a wild three time event as well it should be. First, Spooktacular at the Jacksonville Zoo with Tita Jeanna, Little Frida, Magdalena and me as assorted fairies, woodnymphs, sprites and pixies, Augustus the elf, and Abuela the Kabuki character, followed by actual Halloween with Tito Chuchi and Aunt Su-su out at the beach with the best candy I have ever seen, then we wrapped it up Friday at the Library with all the other regular library kids and then a visit to Heming Plaza to show off the babies in full regalia and dance, of course.

Jeanna was dreamy and glowing before the zoo Spooktacular and Halloween. She has been dreaming of all of us together for so long and there we were, Sunday before Halloween, hot gluing up a storm, doing costumes, covered in glitter I mean fairy/pixie dust, having a spontaneously huge family day and event and our kids together like three peas in a pod.

We have become quite the regular members of the Friday afternoon community at Heming Plaza downtown across the street from the library. We go after the library for real city living and there are vendors and folks hanging out and music. We have kettle corn and the most delicious crab cakes and visit Renee at her Farmer's Market. Life is good and rich and full of love and yummy treats, whether the treats are ripe peaches or Halloween candy or dancing to loud synthesizer music in the plaza outside under the blue blue sky, it's all good.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

birthday, congo, some chickens and dancing

Magdalena's photography debut

2 year old beautiful birthday boy

help with candles from the experienced four-year-old

following Tito Chuchi and Abuelo's well beaten musical path

city mouse

a very silly visit with Uncle William

Magdalena's inspired style

When I fall asleep at the proverbial blogging wheel, I have so many images so many anecdotes so much to write that it's overkill. Oh well.

Augustus is 2. He's divine and delicious and delirious and devilish. He's our whirling dervish of love and mischief. He looks at me out of the corner of his eye, sly grin spreading, and bursts into some forbidden action, his determination to be the master of his own destiny exploding out of that tiny perfect big boy toddler body.

Our birthday picnic at the park by the river, a la Tita Jeanna and her floating fluttering balloons and streamers, was a mad success with cake and presents and the single most fabulous ever-lasting game of hide and seek ever played. Dave is the master at hiding in plain sight, Abuela is so tiny she hid behind a sapling, Ethan is the hardest to find, and Jeanna's billowing cigar smoke ratted her out every time. The babies were shoeless and could never wait to be found, screaming out of their hiding places before the seeker was even done counting.

Jeanna, Frida, Magdalena, Augustus and I took a trip out to our friends Manny and Yvonne's rural wonderland to commune with truly free chickens and roosters, guinea hens, turtles galore and a lizard or two and it was such a trip! The kids were mesmerized by the chickens and those crazy red Long Island Red Roosters. Feeding the chickens, being outside the city, taking home small perfect brown eggs, a perfect day for the city mice to brush up on our country mouse aspirations.

We had a lovely visit from Uncle William, in town from Amsterdam to meet his new niece and of course get some Barnas love. Magdalena experimented with various tattoo techniques, perfecting the old little girl effect.

The Houstons have us over for random lovely family dinners, where we eat, play and dance to our hearts content. Magdalena asks to "close the evening with a last dance" before we leave. Who are we to refuse to close the evening with a dance?

And finally, there is just perfect little girl style. We were going for a walk around the neighborhood and Magdalena needed to be properly attired. She has Sunflower, her baby doll, in the pouch/scarf around her waist, a purse for collecting found treasures, and a plastic golf club head for whacking small hard objects. Pure joy.

Monday, October 1, 2007

DNA, butterfly eggs and my rock 'n roll babies

My rock 'n roll babies all ready for their first show with Aunt Tammy and Uncle Neil

Hanging out on Maco, Tita and Frida's porch

lounging lizard and butterfly eggs

Augustus, Ethan, Magdalena and Grandma Fran

"I baking"

We have been Busy. Family visiting, family visiting, party all the time party all the time. Who does laundry? Oh that's right, that's my AOR, I guess I forgot.

(drum roll) The News: it's official, Tommy from Berlin Germany is my father's son, brother to my brother, brother to my sister, and brother to me. The results are in and my daddy was a busy man back there in Germany all those years ago and we are a DNA match. Tommy found his father and his father's family welcomes him like the brother he is. Whew. And that's all I have to say about that. But also that we knew. We knew the minute we met him. You just know, ya know?

So it appears that maybe there was some brain damage after all... I had the brilliant idea of the whole family, you know, including my almost two year old and my four year old, going to a live music club to watch Tito Chuchi aka Anthony my brother play congas with a band he sits in with. Yeah, that is a brilliant idea! It'll be so perfectly toddler and kid appropriate. You'd never know from my lack of preparation and normal parenting caution that I ever worked in a rock 'n roll club. I had my babies, in a bar. A very loud, dark with flashing stage lights bar with very very did I say Very loud music bar. And even after I stuffed their little ears full of bar naps Augustus would not unbury his body from my neck and shoulder, even after I repeatedly prompted him to "go see Tito Chuchi? go see Tito Chuchi? Look buddy, he plays the drums, the congas! Go see Tito Chuchi?" He said nnnooooaaaauuu over and over. After paying $10 for Magdalena to get in, because my four year old is a minor - the baby got in free - we left in less than 5 minutes. Did I mention, however, that both my kids were rock 'n roll fabulous?

We had two wonderful family visits, first from Grandma Fran and Grandpa John. There was swimming and beach combing and feasts and love and projects all around. The next visit was from Uncle Neil and Aunt Tammy. They arrived the night of the Big Show and on the way Tammy inquired, so are there ear plugs for the kids? And then again, walking to the show at 11:30PM, so, do you have ear plugs? Her questions fell on deaf ears, ears attached to a head with a brain imagining some kind of groovy MTV unplugged version of a jam band, candles acoustic guitars and all, so who needs ear protection?

Sunday was the birthday party bonanza, with a two-year-old buddy's birthday and then on to mom's house for Aunt Su-su's birthday party for which we baked our oh-so-yummy buttermilk cake. And for which Augustus had his own plans, baking his own cake! The birthday parties were lovely, Suzanne's ribs were divine, the children were crazy, and we came home and crashed.

We wrapped up our busy 2 weeks with a visit to Kathryn's house and a little National Geographic of our own. Kathryn's yard was alive with lizards and her milkweed was full of butterfly eggs, so you must know that we will be planting some milkweed and butterfly bush coming soon for a butterfly world of our own.

Now on to our not so busy regular rest of the week and mountain of laundry that was clean at some point but now must be re-washed because as it sat so patiently in baskets in our leaky addition waiting to be folded it got damp and musty. So is goes here at Casa Rosita, our little dusty rose pink house of love and green green green lush life.

Monday, September 17, 2007

our precious Isabel

Isabel holding Augustus, May '06
Our precious Isabel. Those were the opening words my mom wrote for Isabel's obituary. We had finally figured out a name for Magdalena to call her, Tata Tita, a sweet great-auntie, we'd call her. As mama abuela, my mom, explained to Magdalena, she's gone home to Heaven.
Isabel died at 3:10am, Saturday, September 15. She was 90 glorious years old. She had flawless skin. She had trouble with her knees and hips. We have a fabulous photo of her when she was a dancer. She was my Nana Lydia's best friend. She was devoted to our family, her adopted family. She adored our babies. She could be very cantankerous. She was the last of the Puerto Ricanas. She made daddy's favorite red beans in the whole world. She always had ice cream for Magdalena.
Long live Tata Tita, our precious Isabel.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

veni, vidi, vici and ice cream

fine family dinner at fabulous Cap's on the intercoastal

but does he like it? (yes, but this is his pensive Augustus look)

Frida does not give up her cone for anybody

wet fountain feet

Magdalena and I play with Augustus while we shampoo his hair and it is hilarious

more ice cream as big as one's head

We spent one afternoon with my German brother Tommy* and my German sister-in-law Ilona hanging out in San Marco Square, in the neighborhood I grew up in, eating ice cream and playing in the fountain. A more idyllic day could not have been planned. We had quite a few meet and greets and dinner parties to introduce Tommy to the world. I've explained him to Miss Marie, the art librarian who host's family art time at the main library, I've explained him to my book study/club, I've explained him to random people I ran into in the Publix parking lot. Everybody is so warm and accepting.

But you know, Tommy must know. He must have proof. On his last day in Jacksonville, he and my brother went to have DNA testing done. Why do that? We love him, he's beautiful, I'm vested in my new long-lost brother. Why chance fate? But like I said he must know, he says he knows yes in his heart but for all the doubters for that tiny sliver of doubt that exists in us all, whether we care or not, he must know.

And today they left, my mom's house is quiet again. I don't have to go somewhere every day or have dinner with my extended family and guests every night. We miss them already, my brother Tommy from Berlin, Germany and sweet Ilona who makes a to die for salad dressing. And the results will come in and the mystery will be over and Tommy will have peace in his heart. Because his mother told him his father was Fernando Storch, and so he is.

*see earlier post

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

meet Tommy from Berlin Germany

Introducing Tommy from Berlin, Germany with his sisters Connor and Jeanna and brother Anthony

Tommy, Ilona, Frida and Magdalena at Family Art Time

Magdalena and Augustus with Tito Chuchi and Uncle Tommy

So really I don't even know where to begin. Meet Tommy, our brother. As in long lost brother that we didn't know we had. We didn't meet him until August 25th, 2007, but he's been around and looking for us a lot longer than that. He's daddy's son from his German girlfriend from his army stay before he met my mom. He's beautiful and funny and kind and his wife, my sister-in-law, Ilona is beautiful and wonderful and kind also. Daddy would have fallen in love with him, love at first sight. The first time I spoke to Tommy on the phone he said yes, hello, this is Tommy from Berlin Germany. As if he were just one of many Tommys I happened to be speaking to long distance from Germany.

What else can I say about it? Magdalena, Augustus and Frida adore them. We adore them. It is tragic beyond all measure that Tommy found us 3 years after daddy died. It's just all so fraught with emotion and joy and a terrible terrible sadness. Daddy would have loved him. My son, he'd say, my son from Germany. He's a cop in Berlin, you know, my dad would say, taking credit for Tommy's life and beauty and success as if he was responsible for it all. In a way, he was.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

catching up and ditching colds

Augustus telling Sunday all about it

savasanah, Magdalena-comfy style

I cannot imagine where to begin. The kids got over their colds last week and I thought I had escaped unscathed, not true. Having a cold sapped all my late night online time so I have been remiss updating the universe to the wonders of life at Casa Rosita (what I just dubbed our heavenly little slice of dusty rose house in a dripping green world. it could evolve).

Augustus, however, has been busy schooling Sunday in some kind of important lessons, as always. This particular day he was actually sprawled out on top of Sunday, as if the cat were some kind of crazy purring fur blanket.

Our home yoga practice has taken on epic proportions. Magdalena spends more time preparing for savasanah than actually doing asanas. There are blankets, pillows and snacks. How very yogi of us. Nothing distracting during our practice, no way no how. The tail end of this cold is calling me to sleep. Better soon!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

ode to Maya

Jessica, about 5-6 mos preggers, living it up at the beach with one kid

Today Maya slipped out of her saltwater world and into Jessica, Mark, and Ben's eyes hands arms hearts. We welcome her! We sing a song of praise and thanks for Jessica's knowing body, Mark's abundant love, and Ben's curiosity. Rings of joy and heavenly bliss ripple radiate out from a little house in North Carolina and we are bathed in the expanding joy of Maya's new life.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

un paseo with abuela, random fried yummies and garden art

nothing like fresh fried fish from your local fish shack


Magdalena in her element, painting

Augustus reveling with paint

Sunday it was so hot. Phew. My mom called and said come to the beach, it's so hot! I couldn't, having spent the last week neglecting my AOR (area of responsibility), I Had To Do Chores. Magdalena piped up a few minutes after I hung up and said can Abuela come over here? Who could resist that? So I said give her a call and invite her. Ever tell a four year old to go get the phone, a usual that's-not-a-toy-please-put-it-where-it-lives item? So exciting! She dialed the numbers and invited Abuela over herself and was thrilled when my mom said yes. Again, who could resist? So after Abuela arrived she hung out with the kids and read books while I handled my AOR, then we ventured out into the heat of the afternoon for a paseo down to the river with the kids. No stroller, everybody walking, and glorious it was. We found treasures of acorns and wildflowers and watched a striped honey-bee collecting pollen. There were wild-looking hard tree mushrooms and weird growths on the ancient oaks and a canopy of twisting trees leaves branches and dripping Spanish moss above our heads. Heaven.

Monday I had to retrieve my camera from Artoga, Magdalena's last week camp, so we went for a random lunch at this fish shack out at the beach. Did someone say deep fat fried fresh fish? Oh Heeeeellll yes. And french fries. And conch fritters. yum. And oh yeah, sweet tea. Pure Heaven.

Tuesday we met our buddies Donna and her boys Jake, Liam, Cameron and Ace at the Cummer Museum and Gardens to beat the heat with an indoor playdate. And maybe get some culture while we're at it. The museum was fun but really it was the gardens that rocked. On the way out the back of the museum to the gardens is a kiosk with little clear plastic lunch boxes that have bright yellow signs on them: MAKE ART NOW! So we MADE ART NOW! Each art kit came with a little bottle of h2o, water color paints, a water color paint brush, cut paper, paper towels and directions/instructions for the uninitiated. We needed no direction. We sat down by the river to attract what breeze there was and hunkered down for some making of art. Now.

Life is to perfect to pass up the details, the little moments of Cameron's blue car painting, the zinnias trying to out-burst each other with color, the devotion of a four year old girl, the fun of running up and down a museum hall that echoes, squealing with delight. Who can resist that?


Magdalena and her big girl buddy Andrea rockin the inversions.

Monday, August 13, 2007

So many firsts and traditional headwear

Magdalena as River in the Artoga production of an adapted African myth.

Augustus with traditional headwear

So many firsts. Magdalena's first day camp, first adapted play, first performance, first bevy of big-girl friends (every day when as we arrived I would hear shouts of Magdalena's here! Magdalena, come over here! Magdalena, come do handstands, Madalena, Andrea's *her best big girl* in the art room), first broken heart at the realization that camp would actually end. Magdalena lives NOW. Friday night, snuggling in for sleep, she just cried and cried with complete abandon because we weren't going to camp on Saturday. Then she stopped, and said can we see Abuela tomorrow? I always heard my children would be my greatest teachers, I just didn't realize that they would teach me on every level, in every aspect of living.

And Augustus, well, he thrills us daily with his innovative grooming and accessorizing habits. He favors the off-the-shoulder overall or tank top, multi-colored markings for his face and hands (good for his petroglyph reproductions) and brightly colored skirts or scarves or material on his head.

Life is so so so delicious.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

unexpected Burque blessing

Ron, Ethan, Augustus and Magdalena after our impromptu feast
We had an unexpected dinner guest and how lovely it was! Ron called from Orlando around 2:30 asking "how far is it to your house from here?" and then here he was. What a gift a blessing a lovely meal and company all the way around. A little taste of New Mexico on Gable Lane. I don't realize how baby/toddler/child centric my life is until I catch a glimpse of it through someone else's eyes, notably Ron's. We were eating and it hit me that I am in total baby/toddler/kid mode 24/7/365. And for me it is a good thing.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

emerald green light and elephant ears

Augustus and Magdalena under the emerald green elephant ear

lush green and the lovebabes

Sigh. I wrote this post in the wee hours last night and Poof! it disappeared between "publish" and "you have successfully posted, view post".

Anyhoo. Me and my man got to go on a bona fide date Saturday and divine it was. We saw the super blockbuster Bourne Ultimatum and it was a fabulous thriller we loved it. We stood around Ethan's truck after the movie talking about the movie talking about stuff not kids not bills not career not the guard/school/active duty conundrum not life partner/husband/wife Stuff, but stuff with a little "s" and who knew how great that could be. Then off to Barnes and Nobles for good coffee and expensive magazines and oodles of kid-free grown up mellow at the coffee bar time. So so so good. Now we're recharged for another year or so. HA! I don't want to wait that long again.

Sunday showed up resplendent verdant green in our little corner of River Forrest (I found out that's the "historic" name of our neighborhood) with the man trimming back the jungle that is Florida and the chirrens creating magical misty green gardens. Huge elephant ear leaves fell over from weight and Augustus and Magdalena had sunshades to sit under and mats to sit on. Add water and outside kid furniture and all is carefree goodness no worries and freeplay.