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.
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.
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!