Wednesday, October 29, 2008

the park birthday glory, celebrating Allie and Augustus

Autumnal birthdays, Florida style.

The Pinata, a la Rose, Franco and Dominic. This could be Frida's first pinata...I'm not sure. She was game to go for it!

After our trip to Key West, on the way home, we stopped at my cousin Nick's house. There was a fabulous Huge birthday party happening, replete with fondant style cake and bouquets of mini-flower cupcakes in festive colored buckets on all the tables. The pinata was a work of pinata art, and my two were way too shy to get up under the pinata with the other, oh, 20 or so children, or take a turn whacking the pinata, so their cousin Danny did them so right. He got right up under the pinata and as it broke open and showered candy, he started scooping up handfulls of candy and throwing it back at Magdalena and Augustus. There was so much candy, so many children, so much chaos, and still, thanks to sweet sweet Danny, we were candy rich.

Allie scores the final shot, with playdough raining down for all.

Monday, October 27, 2008

giveaway glory be

Click on the title. Go ahead, see what happens. I dare say, even if you don't have a 2-4 year old girl, you might know one!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

bearded pumpkins and a sleepy goodmorning goodbye

Did you all know that pumpkins, in a hot, humid environment, if carved on the 20 of October, won't last until Halloween? Well, now we know that also. But I have to say, other than the buzz of the flies covering the pumpkins, I think they look a bit ghoulish now, with the added effects. I just have a feeling they'll be more like surreal pumpkins come Halloween, think melting clocks, and I know I won't be reaching into any of them to light a candle.
Here is my sweet sleepy family. For Magdalena, even a slight dampness is cause for a fabulous coat, while Augustus is obviously impervious to any weather at all. Ethan didn't look this sleepy, but it was early. For us at least. We gave lots of kisses and hugs goodbye. We'll see how all this goes. Ethan said I couldn't just jump in the Mitsu and drive out there next week. Who me? Ok, I promise. I'll wait until December.
Until then, Ethan, until then we'll keep you close.

celebrating three years three times, as it should be

Augustus's birthday fell on the Sunday of our last day of our NC trip. We woke up and had a lovely birthday breakfast of pancakes and sausage and hot coco and cafe con leche (for the mama!). The first thing Augustus saw was a gorgeous homemade card from Magdalena perched atop his Skuut, a two wheel bike without pedals, tied with a big white silk bow. I have to give you visual details because, somehow, that morning went without photos. He just kept saying thank you mama, thank you.
He and I were the first to awake and we had a bit of time together to ourselves that morning. We talked about the day he was born, how he came into the world, how excited we were to meet him. The yearly rediscovery of the the birth story is such a sweet way to celebrate their birthdays. They love every detail and want to hear it over and over.
Augustus was so sweet and shy about the bike, like Really, this is for me? We read his card, and checked out his Skuut, and he got on it and rode it around the cabin until we sat down for breakfast. After our eats, he and Magdalena and papa got all bundled up and went outside and rode and rode and rode. They came in pink-cheeked and breathless, told me all about it, and back out they went.

We had our homeschool buddy party at a park, and my camera was at home. Pictures to follow soon. Anyway, there was an incredible home-made pinata a la our lovely Rose, Dominic and Franco filled with playdough - that Rose, she is somthin' special. We had the most beautiful table full of food, a feast for our October birthday celebrants (Allie also). The children played at the playground, but after snacks they wandered off into a bit of uncleared beautiful natural Florida right behind the picnic area. They played games and make believe play and made up stories and plot lines, and we, Rose, Eleanor and I, spoke of our blessings and our gifts in this life, and how totally awesome our children are. It was a good thing.
We didn't have an official birthday cake yet so after the party, Magdalena and Augustus and Frida made (with a little help from me) Augustus's special request bd cake, chocolate cake with chocolate icing. It was probably the simplest cake I know how to make, but also one of the best. But this was one so so full of love because of who made it, and enjoyed immensely by all.

Then came the family celebration, at abuela's house with Tito Chuchi and Aunt Susu, Tita and Maco and Frida, and of course, Clan Barnas.

Aunt Susu and Abuela had the party ready to go, a decorated door and the perennial party favs helium balloons awaiting the birthday boy. No current Barnas birthday party would be complete without a cake that I cannot construct the way I want and a last minute save. Did you know you couldn't put liquid cake batter into springform pans? Well, I didn't. Now I do. Ask me how I know. Nevermind, suffice it to say that this is a rocket ship cake. Really, it is. Augustus believed me, and he loved it even though it wasn't standing up the way it should have been. Suffice it to say that thank goodness Eleanor suggested trying to make the cylinder jelly-roll style or I wouldn't even have had a cylinder cake form when the springform pans failed me.

Augustus shared the spotlight at his party with his papa. The celebration was also a bon voyage of sorts for my man. The party was Friday night and Ethan left early this morning for a three month technical training school in Texas. We had, in both his and Augustus's honor, ribs smoked with love by Suzanne and Anthony, and heavens they were delicious! We feasted, celebrated the third anniversary of the birth of Augustus, then sat at under the stars and listened to the ocean while the wild rumpus of Halloween parades began around us - abuela gave each child a Halloween flashlight, pumpkin head, skull head and Frankenstien head. The smokers smoked big stogies, we told stories, hilarious jokes I should have heard before but don't remember, and enjoyed each other tremendously.

Monday, October 20, 2008

pookie Halloween and ghostly moans

A couple of weeks ago we didn't have our costumes nailed down, so we ordered these gorgeous Lyra shimmering color face/body coloring pencils, just in case we needed them, and gorgeous and shimmering they are. We had a test run in the backyard with flowing capes and pistachios, but it appears we may not need them after all, except for Magdalena's pink cheeks.
Somehow, in our not-media-overloaded world, the Disney princess theme has taken root and Magdalena has decided she Will. Be. Disney. Sleeping. Beauty. No ifs ands or butts about it. A mama made Sleeping Beauty dress is in the works, and it will be lovely and comfortable and a Sleeping Beauty Princess dress, with accompanying fresh flower crown and some kind of embellished fancy shoes. Augustus has declared Max the King of all Wild Things to be himself, and it is a perfect fit. Many a night, especially the other night after he had been a wild thing with a grand finale of Magdalena's harmonica in the toilet, I thought about saying "WILD THING, GO TO BED" the way the mama does in the book, but thought getting the harmonica out of the toilet and cleaning it took precedence.

We went to a small pumpkin patch near our house to hunt for the perfect pumpkin and lo and behold, they closed right as we pulled up. I knew of a pumpkin patch across town that a friend of mine had told me about, I conveniently forgot the words fall festival preceded with a pumpkin patch, so we ended up at this wonderful fall festival with a huge bouncy slide that the babes rode over and over and over, with Ethan going up with Augustus. I'm not sure which was more delicious: the look of sheer terror/pure joy on Augustus's face as he sped down the slide, or the look of pure joy on Ethan's face as he raced behind him. We rode the slide, enjoyed the chill in the air, and took our time perusing pumpkins looking for just the right one for each of us. Augustus chose a white one, which are totally new to me, where have I been?

I remember two years ago, meeting our NM buddies Jon, Nora with Jubi in the belly, and Zephyr at the Maize Maze in Las Cruces, with the entire Simmons clan clad in overalls. Magdalena and Augustus matched them, Ethan and I did not. Has it really been two years?

In the top photo, Zephyr and Magdalena are holding hands. I recently read the Nora's blog here: and see that the Simmons family is still rocking the matching overalls. I got all nostalgic for our time together, and am plotting and scheming to have access to Nora and Jon's pantry of put up goods, live in their rhythm, soak up their love and have many many opportunities to shoot photos of our children playing together this holiday season. Stay tuned.

pumpkins Magdalena, Augustus, Papa and fading slightly, Mama

Monday night we got busy carving and the fruit of our labor is gloriously spookie and festive and Halloweeny. Magdalena's favorite thing to say is (in a ghostly voice) "ghostly moans". So the theme this Halloween is Poooookie (the way Augustus says "spooky) and ghostly moans.

Ghostly moans to you.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Didn't I mention the apples?

So I didn't mention the apples? Straight from the orchard? The not-certified-organic because they just grew in an old orchard near my friends Jessica and Mark's house and they were picked by Mark and his son Ben? How did I forget the apples?

We were to go over to Jessica, Mark, Ben and Maia's house Saturday before heading to Ashville. I call Jess and she says, well, Mark and Ben are out at this orchard where the apples are just rotting of the trees, so they're picking some. Some apples. So Many Apples. They had such an abundance of these beautiful, perfectly imperfect apples, I cannot tell you. Ethan called them "real" apples, as in, not the facsimiles we see in the grocery store, but real apples that have crazy skin and some have lumps and bumps and some (horrors!) have real worms living in them.

I have a friend here who has an orange tree in her back yard that basically produces all year round. Think about it. Never having to buy a fresh Florida orange. Just go on out back and pluck one from the tree.

It may seem elementary, or pedestrian or mundane, but we haven't had a garden since we moved here and I miss just picked fresh food, that isn't bought anywhere - farmer's market, health food store, green grocer, co-op, but that is just bounty from the earth. I was stunned by the apples at Jessica's house, maybe I over estimate, but to me it appeared there were hundreds.

She sent us home with a fair share of her bounty and I wanted to capture an image of what we had to share and as I was shooting our dwindling crop out came little hands to help themselves to a few, then a few more.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

change, it'll do you good

Just a little change, ya know? After I posted the fall post, and it was surrounded by all that luscious green from my summer set up, I thought, hmmmm, that doesn't feel quite right. So here's the fall and for now set up. The photo is of Augustus and Magdalena, bundled up in the hammock on the porch of our family's cabin, oh-so-aptly named A Family Affair. Whaddaya think?

it's Fall somewhere, and we went

Heaven, pure heaven. Yup, that's where we were, for four glorious days, we were in a little slice of heaven also known as Balsam, North Carolina. We went for a family getaway before Ethan gets away for three months over the winter. Oh my goodness, but I do believe we're having a Key West post redux, as in "I grew up coming here and now I get to share this same beauty with my children and my family and we get to create our own traditions" kind of redux. My my but it does appear that we are blessed.
This is a shot that does not do justice to the being there of it. The photo feels much greener that it was when we were there, the golds and pale reds and almost pinks are lost in a sea of green, but they were there, we saw them. And brought some home in a bag. This is just above our cabin, just up Cabin Flats Road, smack dab in the middle of the Great Smoky Mountains. And it was so officially Fall. As in while we were on our walk, we could hear the leaves falling.

Augustus wanted to climb a mountain, and he wanted it and wanted it and asked when do I climb the mountain? When do I climb the mountain? When are we going to climb the mountain? So climb the mountain he did, with papa and Magdalena, just up the side of the mountain a bit, from the road, but really that was all he needed, until we went hiking and he really got to climb a mountain.

The view of the valley, shrouded in mist (yes I wrote shrouded in mist, because it was), from our porch.

Up the Blue Ridge Parkway from Balsam is Waterrock Knob, and what a gorgeous site it was. Fall was all around us!

Up the mountain from the visitor's center is a wonderful 1/2 mile hike, perfect but I mean perfect for us, with two littles who wanted to climb and run up a mountain. The hike was not difficult, but there were lots of rocks to climb on the trail and lots of rocks to jump from slide down climb up, oh-so-perfect for mountain climbing billy goat children.

As we ascended, we entered into a cloud. Magdalena: I didn't know that there were trees in the clouds. I didn't know there were mountains in the clouds. I can climb this by myself, because I'm the five year old.

Can you see it? We're on a mountain! In the fall! I know all you westerners live in the mountains, but we live at sea level, and it was like 85 degrees here today, and my yard is lush and green and doesn't know what "Fall" means, so this was something to behold.

We hooked up with our friends who live outside of Waynesville, our old NM buddies Jessica and her son Ben and darling newest addition Maya and headed to Ashville for the Western North Carolina Nature Center's Hey Day which you can check out here:

Ben had a "hayday" burying Augustus in the hay. And again, these photos do not do justice to the wild fun these children were having in the hay. It was a "hay jump" and I am going to copy that for a party. Who knew jumping around in hay was so much fun? Well I've got a witness and it is.

photo op
Did I mention that we are blessed? Did I tell you how wonderful and beautiful and gorgeous and calm and soul satisfying being in North Carolina for four days with my family was? Did I mention how incredible it was to have four uninterrupted days with my family? Sans computer, movies, phone (mostly) and any and all outside distractions? Did I mention that we had Ethan to ourselves for Four entire days?

Sigh. Wow. Words, oh you know, they just don't do a thing justice. Ethan and I turned off all the lights in the cabin and sat outside on rocking chairs after our darling babes were asleep and talked. And listened. To each other, to the crickets, to the acorns falling, to the leaves falling, to the light patter of rain. In almost total darkness. And then we just sat. Yeah, I know. Wow.

Magdalena and Augustus put their shoes on and climbed down the old stone and cement stairs and explored. On a mountain. In the Fall. With jackets and scarves and hats. Because it was chilly. I'm in awe and I could write for another hour, just little words strung together to try to document it, to try to share it, but it all falls short. But I know, you know. Our perfect imperfect life, and all it's attendant blessings.

Monday, October 6, 2008

national Hispanic month

Las Puertoricanas dancing

and dancing

and singing, accompanied by three drummers

Did you know that September 15 - October 15 was National Hispanic Month? I didn't. And it is a bit weird, ya know, that we get 1/2 of one month and 1/2 of another, although that fits in some ways, at least me. Ethan is always busting my chops that I identify as "Cuban". He says "your at least 1/2 Puerto Rican also". Which is totally true, we are. But as I almost always reply, "well yes, we are, but culturally, we're Cuban".

So last Wednesday we went to the monthly Jacksonville Art Walk, a downtown event with artist and arts all over the place! It was so awesome to be downtown with our buddies Mandy and Henry who we don't get to see nearly enough these days, and be in this hullabaloo with vendors and artists and folks everywhere.

I spot a woman with what look like Flamenco shoes on and say, are you going to dance? Do you dance Flamenco? To which she replied, not Flamenco, she said something like Ballet Folklorica, which I remember from NM, and she said they were dancing at 6:30. So off we went to watch the dancing, which was ok but really the Puerto Ricans took the cake! They were live! Live with drums! Dancing and singing and totally heating up the crowd. The women were so gorgeous, wearing plaid skirts and matching head scarves, they were all heart. And the drums, well, how can you dance without live drums?

Ethan would have been proud, as would have been Titi Feli, Tata Tita Isabel, and my Nana Lydia, all from Puerto Rico, when the leader of the group opened up by saying, "Are there any Puerto Ricans out there?" and up shot my hand, and I raised Magdalena's and Augustus's also, saying, we are!