Working on the Future

As parents, I think it’s pretty normal to dream of what your child might do when they grow up. When Dorian was a baby, we talked about whether he would be a musician like Irving or maybe a writer like me . . . or maybe he’d be a doctor, since he has so much experience with medical stuff.

With Dante, we discussed the same things. Maybe he’d be a football player, since he loved to kick a soccer ball around. It was his main reason for learning to walk, so he could kick a ball!

As the boys grew, their interests and talents began to flourish. Dante is an extremely active child, great at sports, but he also thrives on art. He could draw and paint all day and never get tired of it. He loves building things and comes up with plans that he sketches out and then he’ll gather materials to build with. His hands are fast and sure and he’s created some stuff that has amazed us, both in wood and in paper.

Dorian runs like the wind and he loves it. He’ll run and time himself on laps, using stopwatches that his grandparents sent him. He thrives on speeding along the track or grass, legs pumping along with arms in the form he learned from his coach. On the other hand, he’s far more obsessed with computers and has been since he was first allowed to use one. He’s better than I am and even fixes issues I run into on the computer.

Dominic is still at the point where he is into everything and hasn’t really settled on any specifics. He loves to paint with Dante and play on the computer with Dorian. He loves music and likes to try playing his papa’s clarinet, but he also likes to spend some alone time designing his houses with blocks and driving cars around. I suspect we’ll see more of his interests later, as they begin to solidify.

Irving and I feel that our job as parents is to help our sons explore their interests as far they would like to take them. That may not be far in some cases, but in others, it might turn into a career. For example, Dorian has recently been telling us that he wants to be a game developer. So, we enrolled him in Khan Academy’s Introduction to Programming class. He’s doing quite well at it and is loving every second. Dante will be taking art from the same site.

I don’t think you ever stop thinking about your children’s future, but it’s interesting to see what was so vague and dreamy now beginning to take shape as they grow and plan for their own futures.

Enjoy Where You Are

When I first came to Guatemala, it was incredible. The beautiful greenery, the colorful dress of the local indigenous people, the bright colored fruit in the market. Everything was amazing and new and beautiful. Well, almost everything.

13 years on, it’s all pretty normal for me. I rush from task to task, schooling the boys, working on my articles and ebooks, hanging up the laundry, bringing in the laundry . . . without really taking the time to stop and smell the roses, as it were.

Recently, I noticed that I’ve been complaining a lot. The rain coming through the roof bugs me. There are a million things that irritate me about living in Guatemala and living in this particular house. I am always thinking of “when . . .”

“When we have enough money to build a house up the mountain . . . ”

“When the rain stops . . .”

“When the boys are older . . .”

Well, it just seems silly. If you’re always waiting for something to happen to make things better it will just end up being a lifetime of waiting, right?

So, I decided to make a point of enjoying the things around me. I do this already with the kids, knowing they’re growing up fast, but what about other things? So the past couple of mornings, instead of complaining about the heat, I thought about how lucky I am to live in such a beautiful country and to enjoy weather that most people have to go on vacation to enjoy. :)

Here are a few pictures I took to remind myself of this.

canicula

church

Seriously, this place is gorgeous! I love living here.

What do you appreciate about where you live?

On Aging

For much of my adult life, I’ve felt 17. I’m not sure why I ended up stuck at that age, but it was a definite point for me. Until recently.

Again, I’m not sure why, but I’ve been feeling my age lately. I know, I’m not that old, but considering that I’ve felt like a teen for the past decade or so, it’s odd to suddenly realize that not only am I 35, but I FEEL 35. What the heck?!

Why do I feel old? It might be the fact that my children are getting older and I’m seeing that this isn’t going to last much longer. Maybe it’s the fact that  look at my in-laws, who have been married for 6 months and are split, shaking my head and thinking up sage advice and realize that I’ve been with my man for 13 years. Or perhaps it’s the fact that all the tourists in Antigua suddenly seem really young and I’m surprised their parents let them travel down here!

Whatever it is, I don’t like it. Not one little bit. I liked feeling young. This feeling middle-aged business is for the birds!

Getting Closer!

I’ve always wanted a piece of land with some animals and some semblance of self-sufficiency. My parents were very self-sufficient for most of my life and I had a huge stack of Mother Earth News magazines from the early days that inspired me.

Life happens though, and while I do live in one of the best countries for homesteading (hello, banana trees!) it just hasn’t been something we’ve gotten into. BUT, we’re getting closer. Irving has finally accepted the idea of getting some chickens. Zanelle has a chicken at her house, which is on a sort of leash, like a dog. I take all my kitchen scraps to it and the chicken is like a little puppy, jumping around when it sees me coming, cooing at me and eagerly grabbing for the strawberry tops and cucumber peels that I toss.

Even more recently, we were on one of our hikes and the boys spotted a goat. Now, I’ve wanted goats for a long while. I was raised with a herd of goats on our land and it seems more practical than a cow. Plus, goat’s milk makes pretty good cheese, which I’d love to sell.

Anyway. The boys were talking to the goat and the goat was talking back. Irving stopped to check it out and said, “You know, we could have a goat and take it up the mountain to graze sometimes.” That was all the encouragement I needed! I started to check out the goats for sale in the area and grill my dad about raising them.

While we probably won’t be getting the goats for a bit yet, chickens are definitely coming home soon. Irving will be building a little coop for them. He’s already building me some planters for the fruit trees and herbs I want. Bit by bit, we’re getting closer to the dream.

Yes, I’m a Special Needs Parent

My children look perfect to the naked eye. If you were to see them walking down the street, you’d never guess that I’m a special needs mom. But I am. You’d never guess that one of my kids has serious intestinal issues and struggles daily to stay healthy. But he does.

Dorian was born with an imperforate anus, which basically means his intestines weren’t attached to the outside of his body at all. His poop had nowhere to go. At one day of age, he had to have surgery to give him a colostomy. There’s really nothing in the world that can prepare you for the shock of having a child with an undetectable (before birth) birth defect.

Over the years, we’ve found a new normal. Dorian has had four surgeries in his nine years, which really isn’t that bad, but has been stressful each time. Lately, he’s been needing more and more enemas to keep his intestines functioning. It has been scary. We’ve gone from one enema every 4-6 months to one every week. I started researching alternatives. None were great, but we decided that we would do what was necessary.

Yesterday, we had a visit with Dorian’s surgeon. I was very nervous about this consult, since we were going to talk to him about a Malone procedure.It’s not ideal, but we thought it might be the only chance for Dorian to have a normal life.

You can’t imagine my relief when the surgeon checked Dorian out and told us that he was fine and didn’t need surgery at this point. We discussed the various options and he told us that at this point, a surgery, either to remove the piece of intestine that is not working or to do a Malone, would only lower Dorian’s quality of life. He also told us that he’s seeing a lot of kids right now dealing with constipation, because of the weather!

This is something we never considered, but the hot weather causes everyone to sweat more and that causes light dehydration. When kids don’t drink enough, it causes constipation and eventually, in kids like Dorian, blockages which require enemas.

Dorian was pretty relieved to hear this, too, as you can imagine. He also talked with the doctor about his sugar intake and was told that little boys need the occasional candy, but the first priority is liquids and fiber. :) I love this doctor.

We may not look like a special needs family, but we very much are. It’s easy to see someone walking down the street and think they’re perfectly normal, but we all have our stories and our pain. For us, it’s the stress of keeping Dorian healthy, with all his intestinal issues. It’s harder than it might seem. I don’t write much about this, but Dorian has given me permission to publish more information on his disabilities, in hopes it will help other kids and parents like us.

Setting the Table for Six

Since we had Dorian, I’ve felt that we should have four kids. It just felt right. When I set the table for five people, it felt like we were missing one. Why? I don’t know.

Originally, we planned to have another baby shortly after Dominic. The C-section changed that. It was a horrible experience and a very long recovery. Plus, the doctor said at least 18 months before I could get pregnant again (this was after he’d asked if I wanted my tubes tied while he was in there and I said no, we’re having another). On top of this, the possibility of having another C-section was enough to turn me off the idea of having any more kids . . . forever.

So three it is. And it feels like someone is missing still.

However, we’ve lately had Sofia 3 over nearly every day. She is a wonderful, rough and tumble little girl who has completely installed herself into our hearts. She’s completely at home here and will often turn to Irving or me when she’s hurt or upset, instead of her papa. I can’t tell you how amazing it is to have this little one in our lives. I didn’t know it was possible to love someone else’s baby this much!

Now, we set our table for six or sometimes seven, if her papa is eating with us. The other day, we sat down with four children at the table and Irving looked at me and said, “This feels right.”

We thought we’d have four children of our own, but maybe the fourth is just borrowed.

The Past Two Weeks

Life is definitely a rollercoaster. There are times when it’s so awesome, you just can’t help but whoop. And then there are times when you just feel horrible and want the whole thing to stop so you can get off.

The past two weeks have been like that around here. Irving hasn’t had much work lately, which is usually fine, because I tend to have work when he doesn’t. And I did. But somehow, three of my regular clients just stopped paying me. Why? I’m not even sure. I did the work, sent it, and . . . crickets. It was actually four clients, but I managed to get one to pay.

Just after his birthday, Dante started to complain of stomach pain. It came and went, so we figured it was amoebas or something and gave him basil tea. It didn’t help and on the third day, he was in so much pain, he was doubled over crying and the pain was worse when his stomach was pressed. We rushed him to the doctor . . . only to find the doctor was on vacation. With a crying child in the backseat, we headed for the ER. After a somewhat traumatic exam, it was determined that he had an intestinal infection. We scraped up the cash to get his meds and headed home. On the way home, the car died and we got a phone call from our niece saying that Dorian was vomiting (he’d had an enema earlier). Talk about amping up the stress levels!

After about 10 minutes, Irving discovered that the battery connections were loose. With those fixed, the car started up and we took off for home. Fortunately, both boys recovered fairly quickly.

Hospital visits are never easy with children and for Irving and me, they can be a scary reminder of past visits. I can’t walk into Hospital Hermano Pedro without my stomach clenching and my heart starting to pound. Though it’s the hospital where Dominic was born, it will always be the place I ran into with a nearly lifeless child in my arms and that trauma apparently doesn’t fade! Fortunately, Dante doesn’t have those memories, so he was mostly bored while we sat around waiting for test results.

It’s been two weeks and my clients are still non-responsive. While Irving is picking up odd gigs here and there, life with two freelancers in the house can be . . . shall we say, challenging? ;) In addition to the previously mentioned issues, our car is broken down and several other things have gone wrong. When it rains, it pours, right?

Fortunately, life is like a roller coaster. You have dips and twists and all manner of unpleasant downs, but there’s always an up again, at some point. Here’s to that up coming sooner, rather than later.

 

What About the Boys?

WARNING: This post is a little heavier than my usual posts.

As I was growing up in a family full of girls, we were taught that our bodies are ours and to say “no” to someone who wanted to touch us inappropriately. We learned about sexual abuse and were taught to be vigilant and to watch out for each other. This is good and certainly something all parents should talk to their children about. However, as a mother of boys, I’ve been noticing something . . . most tips and ides for discussing abuse revolves around girls. While girls are more at risk for sexual abuse, 1 in 6 boys is abused before they turn 18. So it’s important to talk to your boys about this issue, as well.

Today, I’m going to look at a darker side of things, though. Talking to your kids about sexual abuse is very necessary, but with all the information about the Duggars in the news right now, I started thinking. What if your child is the abuser? We talk a lot about preventing abuse, but from the standpoint of protecting our children from other people . . . what about protecting your child from BEING the abuser?

No parent wants to think of their child as being capable of something like this, but 40% of young sexual abuse victims are abused by older children. While it’s easy to skim over this and think that those children have been abused, that isn’t always the case. So, I started thinking about how to talk to children, especially boys, though it is certainly not limited to them, about consent and abuse from the other side of things.

How do you teach children about this subject without going overboard? I started to do some research and with the help of some friends, I found some websites that seem very useful.

The Good Men Project: This site has a lot of great info for raising boys, but this page talks about teaching consent from toddlerhood through the teens. I think this is extremely important! It works both ways. Children should respect other people saying “no” and should also be respected in this way. For example, not forcing children to hug or kiss someone is a way of respecting their consent or lack thereof. You can ASK, but not force. By giving them the power to say no or stop, you teach them that these are important words. The site has a lot more info on how to teach that, age by age.

EveryDay Feminism: This site has an excellent page (linked) that talks about teaching children about consent. There is some very important information there, including teaching them the difference between an enthusiastic yes and a non-response.

If you have any other useful resources, please share them in the comments and I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic.

Happy Birthday, Dante

I’m running behind these days! Dante turned 8 on the 16th and I’m just now blogging it. Oops. Things have been a little insane here, but that’s another post.

Dante spent a lot of time planning his birthday. Despite this, his requests were simple! A cake, a piñata, and a cookout at Florencia, as well as macaroni and cheese for dinner were what he wanted. Easily accomplished!

He had a terrific day and even told us that it was the best day of his life! Gotta love it when kids are so easy to please. :)

Here is the cake he requested.

Five Nights at Freddy's Cake

For his gift, we filled a box with all sorts of craft and art supplies, everything from markers, crayons and scissors to fancy papers, a mini stapler and stencils. He was THRILLED!

The trip to Florencia was a fun one, though we thought we’d be rained on. It stayed perfect though, cloudy and cool without rain. We roasted potatoes, made chirmol with grilled tomatoes and onion and grilled some delicious beef with chimichurri sauce while the boys ran around and explored the forest.

food