Tuesday, December 29, 2009

the Recital

Did I mention that my camera broke? Again? Or, should I say, I broke my camera, again? Sigh. It was in my coat pocket on the trip home from NC and somehow the LED screen on the back got crushed. Right? So it is currently in the camera hospital recovering and only Heaven knows how long that will take. So this post is all words, no images but the ones you conjure up in your head. I know I have so many floating around in mine.

Specifically, Magdalena, Augustus, and Frida's first recital. Do you think stage moms are born or made? And exactly what constitutes a stage mom? A mom who is in the wings, doing the dance while her four-year-old son stands smack in the middle of the stage with his hands in his pockets? A mom who apparently was not far back enough in the wings, so the audience was treated to the hand movements from said mom, wildly gesticulating for said son to turn turn turn!

I'm not sure. But I digress as per usual. Let's start with Magdalena. Did I mention A Star is Born? No? Well let me. She is so super fabulous and gorgeous and heavenly. I know I know, I am so her mom, and I will rave about her till the cows come home. She was the picture of the six year old ballerina in pink tights, pink leotard with soft tu-tu skirt, hair slicked back in a bun. Divine. And she did her dances beautifully and smiled and waved at us when she saw us. Pure joy. And her point really does rock, the first thing Jeanna said when she saw her on stage was, OMG, look at her point!

Frida and Augustus were in the third performance, their one and only. As they took their places on the stage, behind the curtain, Augustus said "I thought we were going to be out there" as in in front of the curtain. So. Cute. All the adorable girls - he's the only boy - in the class were wearing their pink tights and leotards and red Christmas headbands and Augustus wore a white button down shirt, a red bow-tie, and black velvet pants and he was to-die-for darling! When the music started as I was frantically doing the dance in the wings (ahem) Augustus covered his ears and said very loudly "It's too loud" over and over and over until they turned it down a bit, which of course got loads of laughs and applause. Frida was having trouble figuring out who she was going to follow: Augustus or Miss Alexandra. Would she stand there, looking terribly cute but not dancing a la Augustus, or would she follow her heart and dance? We all know. Frida is committed. When she could stand it no longer, she burst into dance, the dance she had practiced so hard to master. And master it she did. Perfectly she did that dance while my darling Augustus did a few little moves, and then put his hands in his pockets and basked in the glory of being on stage.

Backstage, after the performances, there were roses for all, then a trip to the coffee shop for celebratory Hot Coco with Whipped Cream, Scones, and a Cappuccino for this mama. Sigh. How lovely and perfectly wonderful it all was.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

29 photos, or - Gymnastics; Our Lady; Thanksgiving; North Carolina and Snow


Augustus, Frida and Magdalena took gymnastics this fall. Is it a rite of passage? Must all small children at some point take gymnastics? Maybe. Ours did. Magdalena took to it like a duck to water. Fell in love with Miss Brook, the instructor, fell in love with the balance beam, the bar, the tumbling, fell in love with the other tumblers. Loved it loved it loved it. Frida took a minute to warm up, then she also was all about gymnastics, much like dance, she was committed. Augustus, well, Augustus...not so much. He liked it, then wouldn't go to class, then went reluctantly, and was glad when I said "this Tuesday will be our last gymnastics class" (it was a twelve week series).

This is my favorite photo. I am enchanted by Magdalena's point and concentration. But I'm supposed to be ya see, I am her mama.

Our Lady

The week of Thanksgiving I was blessed to have the Blessed Traveling Virgin, Our Lady. She blessed our home and honored our thanks and gave the whole affair an air of Grace. I was and still am Thankful.


My favorite tradition in the whole world, because I was a part of it's origin, don't ya know: The now hallowed tradition of Pie For Breakfast on Thanksgiving! Brilliant I tell you, brilliant! It all started years ago up in Troy, NY. I was nannying/hanging out with one of my favorite family's on the planet, the Pollards - one of whom is Magdalena's Godmother by the way, PJ - when one fateful Thanksgiving I was doing a Storch/Cuban-American-like-the-way-I-grew-up style Thanksgiving - stuffed turkey marinated in sour orange, garlic, olive oil, oregano and salt; black beans & rice; yuca. PJ and Bruce had baked the pies, and I think they were ready on Thanksgiving morning and it's all a bit fuzzy but I believe it just seemed like the most appropriate thing in the world to do, wake up, make coffee and enjoy bits of all these gorgeous pies just waiting to be eaten! There might have been more to it than that, but it's been a loooooong time since I lived in NY and that memory suits me just fine.
Anyhoo, on to the present. Ever since then it has just seemed such a perfect way to start Thanksgiving because really, who has room for pie after all that yummy food? So start the day with it I say! I made our now officially favorite Breakfast on Thanksgiving Pie, Peach Raspberry Pie, with Fresh Whip Cream. I also made two Homemade Pecan Pies, mmmmm....super yummy. During the rolling of the dough of one of the pies my friend Joseph said - insert your own Southern accent here - what'r ya doin? Making the pie crust. Like from flour and eggs and all that? Uhh, close, flour, water, salt and lard (real lard by the way, the kind you have to refrigerate that is YES better for you than butter or any kind of fake shortening and makes a crust so flaky that "it will shatter at the touch of a fork" thank you Joy of Cooking). And also two special request pies this year, a Coconut Cream Pie (extremely sweet, but quite delicious) for Ethan and a Tart Cherry Pie a la Magdalena. All served with heaping dollops of Fresh Whipped Cream. Ethan was our man on coffee, serving up Cafe con Leches as fast as he could make them, and Americanos to boot. I could not imagine a more auspicious start to the most glorious of days, our American Thanksgiving Day, I mean don't we all have so much to be thankful for? Whew. That's a post unto itself.

And just in case you forgot or were fooled by that gorgeous snowy photo in my blog title, yes we do live in Sunny Florida and yes, it was like 65-70 degrees, and yes we did enjoy a bit of Frisbee in the street, thank you very much! Some of us still in our p.j.'s and some of still Peter Pan. Yes, still Peter Pan. Because he can.

My latest favorite photo of our darling little Ariella with her Bulu, checking him out. Seriously.

Friday, after the hordes had departed (22 for Thanksgiving dinner, it was divine! So. Much. Family!) we had a bit of time with our extended Clan Barnas for some one-on-one mama/papa/Ariella time. Much needed, much enjoyed.

North Carolina
Aaahhhhh...North Carolina. Not just North Carolina, but western North Carolina, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway, on a mountain, in the woods, in the most glorious house with the most incredible of families, the legendary Familia LaShell. Oh how we do love those LaShells. Since moving to Florida (we met when we were all living in Alamogordo, NM), we have had at least two or three visits a year with the LaShells and we love and cherish each and every one. They've visited us three times, and we've visited them about the same. And every time it is a revelation. Do you have those people in your life who are just such a good fit, yet so very different at the same time? For me, that is the LaShell family. I can honestly say I don't know if I laugh with anybody as much as I laugh with Jessica. She is so easily made to laugh when I tell stories of our family antics. And when Jessica laughs, it is so easy to join in. We tend to belly laughs, we do. And that is such joy, I cannot tell you. And they are oh so fiscally responsible. And they eat so well, Paleolithic style. Really. Pick it, gather it, harvest it, hunt it, milk it, or really just don't eat it. Talk about eating around the perimeter of the grocery store! They inspire me they do. They rearrange my brain molecules they do. They give me perspective and love and warmth. And they are moving back out west to park range in Lake Meade, Nevada so a final fare-thee-well visit was in order.

When we first met, Magdalena was just a year and Ben still in Jessica's belly. Now Magdalena is six and the youngest is two, and there are four of the most fabulous children you can imagine. Notice Magdalena, she chose not to bring her Tiger Lilly costume but her Sleeping Beauty costume from last year and notice, shockingly enough, that Augustus is still wearing Peter Pan! Wait, no, I'm mistaken, he is Peter Pan!

Last year we visited on about the same weekend, and Magdalena learned the joy of picking and then eating fresh kale. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Fresh Kale, Good!

Mark is reader big guy extraordinaire. He plays, he plays he plays - upside down backwards inside out - then he settles settles settles and enchants. Did I mention he built the glorious house we stayed in? He's the whole package baby, all that and a bag of homemade organic grass fed delicious jerky. That my children ate like it was candy, candy I tell ya.

We spent the day in Ashville and an incredible cold windy and yummy day it was. Traipsing up and down windswept gray sky hilly Ashville, with leaden snow clouds above and yummy hot coco below, who could ask for more? I could actually. I could actually ask for the two hats I almost bought my children. Two hand-knitted hats. Two hand-knitted, one hand-spun, then hand-dyed, then hand-knitted hats that were incredible. Two hand-knitted wool hats for my children who live in Florida that would have put me back $95. It was close, I'll be honest. Were we living in a climate that might require said wool hats more than three days a year, I'd have gotten them. I know I know, wool breathes. It doesn't have to be that cold to wear them. They were gorgeous and did I mention hand-made? With love? Couldn't justify it, but I can justify buying those connected needles and figuring out how to knit a cotton hat myself. I'm pretty handy and I started knitting a couple of years ago, just haven't in a while. We'll see. I'll show them to you here, if I ever do get to them. Maybe in the spring.

Back to the homestead with bundled up outside play, a walk down the mountain road to see Blue the goat, and get some of that fresh mountain air flowing through our bodies.

Maia. How can I describe Maia? Here she and Augustus are hugging for the sheer joy of it! For the sheer wonderfulness of life that is being little and having company and meeting new friends. As I mentioned, there were four children: Magdalena, 6; Ben, 5; Augustus, 4; Maia, 2. Four days, in close quarters, all over each other, in the tub together, and not one - not one - intervention. It was bliss I tell ya! Every now and then Jess or Mark would have to help putting a tent together in the bedroom/playroom, but otherwise it was four children in heaven. And the interesting thing about Maia is that she is just over 2 years old and almost as verbal as our sweet Frida, 3 1/2, and has such an innate joie de vivre that her joy is infectious, positively transforming any moment into one of infinite possibility for play and joy. And she engaged Augustus like a champ and he was enchanted by her, positively enchanted. And Jess and I saw and said "It is good".

And finally snow. Snow. Snow, do you hear me, snow! Aahhhhh glorious yummy freezing cold snow. Unexpected blessing of snow. Thursday, when we went into Ashville, our waiter at the best Mexican/Caribbean fusion restaurant I have ever eaten at, Ever. Salsa's. Eat there. Now. You can thank me later. Anyhoo I digress as per usual. Our waiter said that flurries were predicted for late Friday/Saturday. I said SHUT UP! NO WAY! He said yeah, seriously. So pray I did and blessed we were. Saturday was our day to leave, Mark said snow was predicted above 3000 feet at 4am Saturday morning. I went to sleep Friday night, looking out the window at the leaden sky praying, c'mon snow! Saturday morning I was the first one up and I ran downstairs like a 6 year old on Christmas morning and threw open the front door and snow. Wet, intermittent imperfect snow but snow. So up I ran to awaken my sleepyheads and shove them outside in p.j.'s and hats and scarves because I thought this is it, get it while you can. I didn't foresee the beautiful, fluffy flakes to come. The blanket of snow on everything. The children getting bundled up before breakfast and then again after breakfast to have snow-ball fights and make snow cones. I didn't foresee the perfection. Then again, I rarely do.

Yes, Augustus is eating snow directly off the chair. Better than the car!

Thank you snow! Thank you earth, sky, water, heaven, God! Thank you! We are blessed.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Fall, Floriday style

The change of colors in the fall, a la Casa Barnas. 'Cause that's how we roll.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

giving thanks. everyday

I've been doing this (almost) daily post leading up to Thanksgiving on my facebook page. It's a daily entry on being thankful, having gratitude, which for me really translates to being present. When I'm present, when I'm in the moment, oh the gratitude. It's unavoidable really, an all-consuming reality, this gratitude. I don't actually live there in . I have moments, flashes of grace, a halting of the race in my heart and mind and I'll think, oh yes, this is perfect, this life. This blog has always been a realization of those moments for me. Soul Expanding Life and Loose Ends Flying gives me a place to stop and document the grace, and the facebook page has upped the ante in an interesting way - a daily 420 character or less gratitude post. Get in get out, go where the action is, short and sweet baby.

I fell away from blogging because I had an expectation of the posts. An expectation that they be a certain way or a certain thing, so I found myself resenting the time and effort, hence the avoidance. Could I be more predictable? What the break in blogging gave me was a fresh perspective and a reminder of why I'm blogging, who I'm blogging for, and the payoff for me, my family, my friends and the random readers that might visit. That payoff is a document, visual and written, of our pedestrian mundane glorious and grace-filled life. And that, it seems, is enough.

From the top:
Eleanor's delightful Apple Pie With Stars. Yum.
My favorite Soren on the planet, more than Kierkegaard.
Wow, I guess I didn't realize it was still Halloween. Oh wait, it's not. That's right, Augustus told me in absolute intense seriousness - mom, I'm turning into Peter Pan in real life.
What Eleanor has dubbed the "Seasonal Susan", with the season in full swing.

I am thankful.

Friday, November 13, 2009

and a bit more...

Some pre-Halloween celebrating at Tita's house for pumpkin carving and preparing for Samhain. Which I recently found out is not pronounce Sam-hain, strangely enough, but something like sa -wayn. Feel free to correct me, I don't have all the little pronunciation keys on my keyboard or if I do I am not going to hunt them down. I digress. A celebration of harvest and fall and Jack-O-Lanterns.

This year Magdalena decided that she actually loves touching and feeling and scooping out the pumpkin guts. Oh what joy! And the picture of Frida, long hair and naked body and hands in the pumpkin? Well I do seem to remember an almost exact same photo of her mama from years ago. Aahhh, the cycle of life. It is good.

Finally, our Halloween Eve sojourn to the Zoo Spooktacular with Butterfly Tita and Tinkerbell.

Here we have the Captain of the Lost Boys aka Peter Pan, Butterfly Tita, Tink, Mrs Darling and Tiger Lilly. Did I mention that life is good?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Oh Halloween, the glory of it all! The history of the traditions, the Jack-O-Lantern from Ireland, the apples from Rome, the Day of the Dead, all Hallows Eve, All Saints Day, All Souls Day. What a rich and storied history of rituals and cultures all coming together to be celebrated and re-enacted and explored. And don't forget the Treats, of course! We can talk about it all, we celebrate it all, we reference the history and what tradition came from which culture, but basically, for my two, it comes down to one thing: Candy. Sigh. Sugar wins. As I guess sometimes it must.
Here we are, in preparation for our tricking and treating.

The Wicked Witch, Glenda the Good Witch, Mrs Darling (mother to Wendy, Micheal and John), Peter Pan, Tiger Lilly, Dorothy, Sunflower Lulu, the Magical Blue Fairy, Tinkerbell, the Fantastic Rainbow Fairy, Sunflower Liza, and Toto to!
Children, rapt at the prospect of Treats!

The best house on the block, of our entire journey actually!

Friday, October 23, 2009

recent bliss

My man rocks the house, as we all know, and one day last week I came home and Voila! a new digi camera had arrived! Yippee! So I downloaded the last of the photos from Tita's camera, will run through all the most recent magic that has occurred, and get on with the business of life and documenting the bliss of it all.

Seen here with George/Jorge, my darling Cuban cousin whom I adore, with whom we mourned the loss of his wife with, recovering and living life to the fullest again. Happy. And gorgeous. And successful.

Now on the to meat of the daily matter, life back in Chez Barnas and the homeschool groove getting up and running. And It Is Good. Yes, it is. As part of our regular weekly co-op, we've joined a children's studio. Frida and Augustus take a ballet/tap/jazz class and I tell you tap has been a revelation. Is there anything as powerful as making music with your feet? Behold the hoofers~

Augustus in all his dance glory

Frida has recently taken to watching dance videos on YouTube, and interpretive dancing her way through life. Then we put her in dance and gymnastics classes and well, now she interpretive and studied dances her way through life. From the first second of the first class, Frida has been committed. I mean C-O-M-M-I-T-T-E-D. She does exactly what the instructor says to do, and watches herself do it to make sure she is doing it correctly, and her determination is visible. Last week the instructor, miss Alexandra said, Frida is a natural. She's going to be a wonderful dancer, you can see it already. Right I said?

And now, may I present to you, our most fabulous newly minted four year old, flanked by his sister and cousin, wearing their oh-so-fabulous aprons from Grandma Fran? Perfection.

At our darling Eleanor's house, celebrating Augustus' birthday with the crew, simultaneously making a double batch of cupcakes for later celebrations and Allie's birthday the following day.

Magdalena opened her very delightful Princess flower garden from Uncle Neil, Aunt Tam, and the darling Ariella and is awaiting the blossoming of her flowers as we speak. And Augustus had a very astro oriented day!
We had our family celebration at our favorite park on the river, complete with magical silver stars, cake, ice cream, pressies, and much fun. It was so windy, the only way to light the special Happy Birthday candles was to do so under the table, protected from the wind. And here we are! Happy Birthday my darling son!

After an epic game of hide and seek, with some brilliant statistical maneuvering from Tita Jeanna - she used a ladder to climb a tree to hide and while not so successful because no one move the ladder, it was a very creative and innovative move; she also hid in plain sight in a group of people enjoying the park right across the sidewalk from us, brilliant and totally successful, I never saw her - hot coco with whipped cream, and a brisk fall day, we thanked the universe for a perfect day at the park and went on home.

Celebrating Allie's seven year birthday at her ballerina themed b.d. party with our regular crew.
Being a homeschooling mama, I will admit that most of Magdalena's friendships have been the arranged kind, as in, I meet a mama I like, we start hanging out and homeschooling together, and tell our children - here are your friends! We are so so soooo lucky that a park very close to our house offers homeschool p.e. once a week for preschoolers, and then separated age groups of boys and girls. So there we were, on Tuesday, present for Frida and Augustus's pre-school p.e. class, and Magdalena said, but mama, who am I going to play with? Enter Marlena. Sparklie, beautiful, middle child of a family of eight children, all boys save for her, and you could practically see the sparks fly! Magdalena and Marlena hit it off bigtime. They came to me and Marlena's mama and said, y'all need to put each others phone numbers in your mobile phones because we really like each other and have sooooo much in common and want to hang out. Where's your phone? Did you get her number? Okay okay, yes darling I got it. I present Marlena, Magdalena's first made-on-her-own-friend, at their first playdate together at the zoo. And a lovely time was had by all.

Have I raved about our homeschool group lately? I mean, have I really and truly gushed about these families, these women, these children? Have I really and truly put to words the unbelievable creativity, love, respect and rhythm that these mamas provide to our children? I haven't? No, you're right, I haven't because I've been too busy living it to write about it. So let me gush. Every Monday we gather, and the rhythm begins. Led by Waldorf mama extraordinaire Jen and hosted by amazing young mama extraordinaire Eleanor, we gather. We have a few minutes of hang out and get re-acquainted after the weekend, sit and give thanks and snack on delicious wholesome protein, veggies and fruit. After a teeny bit of free time time later, the littles - four of them -get dressed out for dance class and off we go to the studio. While we're gone, the big girls do a specific art or craft or handwork project, related to whichever seasonal celebration we're acknowledging. Then the big girls dress out, go to the studio for an afternoon of ballet/tap/jazz or Spanish class, ballet, and musical theater and the little ones regroup at E's house, do the same craft or art or handwork stepped down for their little hands, and then have lots of free play time outside while us mamas hang out and usually knit, sew, cook, work on whichever project we have going on, until supper.

Here they are, working on their gorgeous wonderful quality wet-on-wet water colors of resist-wax pumpkins for our All Hallows Eve fall festival.
After supper, we round up the littles, go pick up our respective bigs, and head home after a full day of creativity, community, love and learning. It is beyond words, how wonderful our day is, how beautiful the rhythm and flow, and how easily everything moves along with song and gentle words when the children have a knowledge of what is expected of them.

Earlier today I received one of the most dear phone calls I've ever gotten in my life. The phone rang, and I heard, ya know, I wanted to tell you that I realized you are one of my favorite people on the planet. And the person telling me that happened to be one of my favorite people on the planet. And she happens to be my sister, bonus.
Which got me thinking of so many of my favorite people on the earth. And got me thinking about how blessed we truly truly are. I mean, if you had told me, about 15 years ago that this would be my life, I would have probably thought you totally coo-coo. Who knew I'd be so blessed? Who knew I'd be so blissed? Who knew I'd find my way? Who knew I'd be blessed with such an amazing husband and such delicious children? Who could have predicted that one? Maybe the Magical King of Neverland, Augustus aka Peter Pan aka King Fancy Pants. And I'll leave it at that.