Semana Santa is Here!

My least favorite time of year has arrived, Semana Santa. There’s a few reasons I don’t like this season, but the main one is that Irving is basically gone for an entire week. I’m not too keen on hauling three kids into Antigua on my own, so I had no plans to see anything remotely related to the processions.

However, my friend, Claudia, had other plans. :) She has two daughters of her own and invited me to come out with them on Thursday, one of the busiest times in Antigua. That’s when the best carpets are set up and the most amazing processions happen. I thought about it, let her know how nervous I am about it and she suggested that her girls could help keep track of wild boys. So it’s a date. I may regret this . . .

As happens every year, the rainy season made its debut last night. Irving was in a procession, so he got soaked! My basil and rosemary plants were sure happy though.

Normally, I prepare for Semana Santa, stocking up on little toys and activities to do throughout the week so we don’t get too stir-crazy, but for some reason this year, I forgot! Oops. So we’re making do with homemade sidewalk chalk, exploding vinegar bags and lots and lots of water in bins for scooping and splashing. Plus, Minecraft, of course.

Dorian was sick most of last week and it looks like he’s rather anemic now, so we are working on that, as well. His lips and gums are very pale and he’s been tired lately. While we will be taking him to the doctor again after this week is over, I’m giving him plenty of iron-rich foods for now. Think my picky eater will go for some liver? ;)

I’m thinking that next year, the boys will be older and it will be even easier to get out and about. We’ll see. Semana Santa may end up being more exciting in years to come, when we can walk the processions with Irving like I did until Dante was born!

In the meantime, I’m going to be working on all the jobs that I foolishly took on and trying to prep some exciting contests and classes for the essential oils. There’s no shortage of things to do!

Are you in Antigua for Semana Santa? What are your thoughts on it?

Bagels, Bread and Hummus

Blue Butterfly Bakery has really been taking off lately. While our definition of busy is 3+ orders on a delivery day, it’s still more than enough to keep us busy! I’ve found myself baking early in the morning, “like a real baker” as Irving puts it.

focaccia in Guatemala

One of the things I’ve noticed is that people are nuts for breads that no one else carries here. It’s something that I’m surprised the other bakeries in town haven’t picked up on. For example, we’re the only ones who make water bagels, or bagels that are boiled before baking . . . aka, the REAL bagels. Just this distinction has quickly built up bagel orders as people hunger for the real thing.

bagels, antigua, guatemala

Our deli section is starting to take off, too! People LOVE the flavored cream cheeses and hummus, so these have been some pretty popular additions to orders lately. Yum!

Blue Butterfly Bakery

However, I recently posted a survey on the bakery page to see what people would like us to add to the page next. There were quite a few replies and everyone wants something different! We may have to integrate quite a few more goodies! (btw, if you’re in Guatemala and want to win some free baked goods, go leave your own opinion here)

What’s next for the bakery? People keep asking if we are going to do a storefront, but that’s not on the agenda just yet. I like the mobile method, and so does Irving. However, we are in talks with a popular local shop over possibly selling our bread there, and we may be participating in Caoba Farm’s monthly farmer’s market! Those are exciting changes that we’re looking forward to. Apart from that, we’ve got plenty of other things going on (like the essential oils, writing, processions, homeschooling, etc.), so the delivery method fits into our life nicely.

So, now you know why I haven’t been as active as I should around here! I’m going to try and write more often, however, since I know people are waiting with bated breath for my every post. ;) Just kidding.

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.

Why We Use Essential Oils

A lot of people have asked over the years about essential oils and where to get them. It’s one of those things that can be difficult to source in Guatemala, or so I thought until I found out that doTERRA has a warehouse here! I recently signed up with them to be a consultant, but my main reason for this was to get cheaper oils.

I’ve always liked using herbs and natural remedies, like basil tea for amoebas and hot lemonade with honey for a sore throat, so essential oils were the next logical step. Even so, I wasn’t sure how well they’d work for us, but it seemed like a good idea to try.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at some of the results. I’ve written the biggest story out under the Essential Oils tab at the top of the page. Dorian has has some seriously impressive results with doTERRA’s DigestZen. But we’ve been using other blends and oils, too.

Lavender

I had heard that this stuff was good for relaxing, but when I put it in the boys’ room, they started to sleep 1-2 hours longer than usual, which is amazing. Dorian sleeps very little and so having him crash for an extra hour is pretty surprising. I found we got even better results when I rubbed a drop on the bottoms of their feet before bed.

We also put lavender on bumps and cuts and bruises. It seems to help them heal faster and is great for relieving the discomfort of bug bites. Dante recently had some issues with bug bites and I diligently applied the oil to see if it might help. It most definitely did. The itch relief was immediate and the healing was considerably faster than usual.

Breathe

This is a blend that is specific to doTERRA and it is SO good. You can use it in place of Vick’s Vaporub, which is what we did. I’ve been avoiding internal use of oils until I have a better understanding of them, but Breathe is also used internally by some. This stuff stopped the boys from coughing all night long and it helped with my coughing, too.

Deep Blue

I got a sample bottle of this stuff and it said it was good for rubbing on sore muscles. I wasn’t sure if it should be diluted, so I added a couple of drops to some olive oil and then gave Irving a massage to help work out the knot he had in his shoulder. He had a procession the next day and texted me to tell me that he felt amazing and the pain he’d had for days was gone. He is even more of a believer than I am.

Other oils I’ve used include oregano and DigestZen for my upset stomach (nausea disappeared within seconds), and Frankincense, which drives me crazy because I dislike the smell, but it is really good on cuts.

If you’re interested in buying oils retail, you can help me out by buying from my site here. Your price doesn’t change, but I get a percentage. However, I’m also looking to build my team of consultants, so if you’re interested in getting a 25% discount, you can sign up under me. There’s no obligation to sell, no monthly minimum for orders, but if you end up recommending them to other people, you can also turn it into a business opportunity.

I won’t get all preachy about this, but I’m definitely going to be recommending essential oils more often and would love to have some of my readers join my team, so I’m offering a little incentive. When you sign up with me and get an enrollment kit, you’ll get $25 in free oils. Just let me know which oils you want when you sign up. You can contact me through the contact form on the blog.

Do you have any experiences with essential oils?

Kids Say the Darndest Things: Episode 88

Well, it’s been a long while since I’ve done one of these, so I figured it was high time. Enjoy!

Dominic: “Mama! The wind is splashing me!”
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Me: “It’s almost Christmas!”
Dominic: “Oh yeah! With Santa.”
Me: “You think Santa is coming?” (we don’t do Santa in our house)
Dominic: “No. We don’t have the right furniture.” (fireplace)
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Dante: “Hey, can I have a nose-picker, please?”
Me: “A what?”
Dante: “For putting glue on my crafts. I don’t know what it’s called.”
Me: “A Q-tip?”
Dante: “Yes!”
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The day after Dominic’s birthday.
Dante: “Is it still Dominic’s birthday?”
Me: “Nope.”
Dominic: “It’s still a little bit my birthday.”
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During a Skype visit with the grandparents.
Dorian: “Minecraft is pretty awesome.”
Dominic: “Paw Patrol is awesome!”
Grampa: “Yes, Minecraft sounds pretty great.”
Dominic: “Paw Patrol is great!”
Dorian: “Also, Gary’s Mod.”
Dominic: “Also, Paw Patrol!”
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Dominic: “My birthday is gone.”
Me: “Yes, it’s over. You can have another one in a year, though.”
Dominic: “No. It’s all gone. They ate all my cake. It was MY cake.”
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Dorian: “I’m so bored.”
Me: “Well, you could read a book. Or clean your room. What about organizing your bookshelf?”
Dorian: “I don’t want to DO something, I want to WATCH something.”
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Me: “Dominic, what do you want for your birthday breakfast?”
Dominic: “Paw Patrol cake!”
Me: “Right, you’re getting a cake, but what about breakfast? Bacon? Pancakes?”
Dominic: “Paw Patrol cake!”
Me: “Ok. How about lunch?”
Dominic: “Paw Patrol cake!”
Me: “Um, and dinner? Want chicken or pizza?”
Dominic: “I want my Paw Patrol cake!”
Me: “Yes, I think we’ve established that.”
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Dominic: “And my birthday pizza?”
Me: “You said you didn’t want pizza!”
Dominic: “I did say that, yes.”
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Dante: “Mama, how do you say ‘ni hao’ in French?”
(For the record, he speaks Spanish and English, with a spattering of Kaqchikel.)
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Dorian: “You know that president guy who hated people with hair? And killed a lot of people?”
Me: “Um, are you talking about Hitler?”
Dorian: “Yeah, I just saw one of his flags.”

Dominic Turns 3

Hard to believe that it’s been three years since my last little one was born! His birthday was actually on the 20th, but Irving was sick and working and then the rest of us were hit hard with this flu/cold/death plague thing. Wow, is it harsh! I got the worst of it, with a 102.4 fever, horrible aching joints, etc. but Irving said it’s my own fault since I used essential oils on the boys and not on myself. Whoops.

Anyway. Back to the celebrations.

Dominic was dead set on a Snoopy cake for months. He had it all picked out, but about a week before his birthday, he decided he wanted a Paw Patrol cake. And not just a Paw Patrol cake, he wanted a strawberry cake because “I LOVE strawberries!” So, I made it happen.

Here are the shields that I made for the cake, one for each pup on the show (he’s only watched the first season).

Paw Patrol Cake

The finished cake, with a whipped topping covering instead of icing. It seemed a shame to ruin the sweet freshness of the strawberries with sweet icing, so I changed it up a bit.

paw patrol cake

Inside the cake, strawberries with jam and cream cheese filling.

strawberry cake

This cake ended up being much simpler than it was supposed to be. I tried to sculpt puppies to go on top of the cake, but it turns out that I’m not so great at sculpting at 3 am. So, in the end, I stuck printed pups on toothpicks on top, which he pulled off before I even got up. You’ll notice that he took a swipe of the icing, too . . . “I only tried a little bit, Mama!”

paw patrol

Despite this not being my best work, Dominic was thrilled. He was even more thrilled with the Paw Patrol banner that we printed and hung for him. In the morning saw it and ran in to tell me, “Mama, my Paw Patrol is HERE!”

Happy birthday to a very special little boy who has been the perfect addition to the family for the past three years.

baby

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?

Ashes to Ashes

Over the weekend, Volcan Fuego erupted in a major way, resulting in the evacuation of towns around the volcano. While we’re in a safe spot, we still got the fallout from the ash!

At first, it looked like a really cloudy sky. I figured we were going to get a bunch of rain, which is  little odd for this time of year. Instead of raining, however, it just got darker and darker. When I checked social media, I realized that it was ash and we quickly took precautions.

Volcano sky

When volcanic ash falls here, you have to be careful. It’s really not stuff you want in your lungs! We brought in the clothes and shut up the house. The boys were less than impressed to be kept indoors, especially since we couldn’t SEE anything falling.

The next morning, however, they were very excited. “Mama! The concrete looks funny!”

ashfall in Guatemala

Sure enough, the concrete patio was covered with a fine layer of grit. Kinda like snow, but not. The airport had to close and they had soldiers out on the tarmac sweeping up all the ash. Seems rather inefficient, but they did bring in firetrucks to hose things down later on. You can see images here.

volcanic ash

Irving donned a mask and swept up the ash, which is really more like volcanic sand. Once the patio was clear, we still kept the boys inside. They were not happy. Three boys kept indoors in a small box does not make for a cheerful household, so screen limits were lifted.

We now have bright blue skies and the majority of the ash is gone. Hopefully Fuego got it out of its system!

Little Chefs

All three boys are really into cooking right now and I’m all for it! More help in the kitchen? Yay! I do love cooking, but having some help is great, especially when I’m stuck on deadlines. In fact, the older boys are completely capable of making dinner on their own now, from lighting the gas stove (I still peek) to chopping veggies and cooking everything to perfection. And sometimes a tad past, but we learn from our mistakes.

Dorian regularly makes scrambled eggs for everyone except Dante (who still feels eggs are cruel and disgusting). He uses olive oil to keep things healthy, beats the eggs until they’re fluffy and cooks them beautifully. In fact, he can make eggs better than I can!

scrambled eggs

Dante almost always wanders over when I’m cooking to ask if he can help. He loves to cut vegetables and stir things. We’ve been working on seasonings, too and using our nose to help tell when a dish is well seasoned (as well as a taste test, of course).

The other night, Dante helped me with some simple chili and then he made a salad.

mini sous chef

This was the end result:

Dante's food

All this independence is rubbing off on Dominic, too! The other day, I made coffee cake and he helped stir and pour and scrape it into the pan. Later in the day, I heard him scrabbling around at the kitchen table and when I looked, he was scooping a piece of cake out of the pan with a spatula. Except . . . I hadn’t cut it! He’d taken a butter knife, careful cut himself a slightly lopsided square of cake (quite reasonably sized, too!) and then used the spatula to move it to his plate. I was pretty impressed!

At this rate, I figure Mother’s Day with breakfast in bed is imminent.