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Tuesday, September 5, 2017

these weeks, years

My baby boy. My first baby boy. Turned 11.

It's like his baby-ness is slipping away, one day at a time. Replaced with a funny, sarcastic, imaginative, interesting person. Imagine that??? Motherhood is a wonder.

My other baby boy, the 18 month old, is getting so big too. Talking up a storm (IMAGINE THAT????) and playing and wandering and getting into dirt all day.

And I am sitting here, writing from my lanai office (see pic below for reference) and good golly, how are the weeks flying by?? The years???

And here I sit. So much on the horizon. So much "becoming" to do.

And oh my gosh. I didnt know where this post was going and then it ended up somewhere amazing and I had a revelation about where I am at these days and then I ACCIDENTALLY DELETED IT AND NOW I AM MAD AT THE INTERNET.


So, here is a summary.

Rambling. Rambling. Rambling thoughts.

Pretty soon this baby, currently playing in the dirt, is going to be 11 and rolling his eyes at me and listening to music in his room and I will be 50 (let us not dwell on that number too long, shall we?) and what will life be then??? Will I have done all these things I have always dreamed about that now seem to be sitting in my lap, waiting for me to pluck up the courage and DO??????

Book writing, so close, I have high hopes for the way I am revising the current manuscript I am working on...still...

Traveling, teaching, training, helping do-gooder-ness. YES. All this IS HAPPENING.

Coffee. Lots of it. Growing and drinking it.

This little farm, once again a thing of beauty. (see inspiration pictures below)

(SIDE NOTE: I am literally looking the other way as baby throws handfuls of dirt into the cooler full of water in the garage...UUUUUUGGGGGHHHHH)

All of these things. ARE HAPPENING.

So. These things. Does all of it make me a "bad mom"???? I feel like it lately, like I am supposed to sit here on this dream coffee farm baking bread and reveling in my June-ness.

But that is not me. Nor has it ever been.

And my family knows it.

And I realized, as I typed it all out before, that this is necessary and good and important for me to do all these things, not in spite of them, not around them, but BECAUSE of and FOR them.

The integrated life.

That came to me the other day as I sat out on the lanai, updating my blog, sending out a proposal for a teaching gig, working on my bio, and thinking about agents...

The integrated life.

My kids, my husband, young moms around me...I want them to see me doing these things, not just blogging about them, but doing them, with gusto, with kids at the table eating brown rice and kale chips and homebaked bread, laughing and talking and writing and drawing and playing and dreaming. Because this is life. It is all of it, it is fullness. And it may not happen perfectly, or simultaneously, but, golly gee whiz (my latest go-to "swear" when I actually want to say something like "dammit all to hell" or something like that...) WE CAN DO IT.

All the things I want to do, have wanted to do, for so long are literally sitting in my lap. And it is both unnerving and exhilarating all at once.

And here is the interesting thing I realized, writing this out before, people have asked me these days, "so you got your farm in Hawaii, are you so incredibly happy or what??????"

To which I say, and acknowledge here, no, honestly I am not. I am reverent. Of this time, of this gift, and so so leery of my next steps in life, because I want to honor what this is and what it means and not mess it up. You know? Like, this incredible gift, these opportunities, have come our way, my way, and I want this integrated life of writing and traveling and teaching and farming to finally come to fruition, and here it is, happening, unfolding really, like I am just a person in this bigger story, and I am just standing here kind of in awe and yes, ready to hustle, and also, fearful of not honoring it all to its fullness.

That sounds cheesy, full of myself I suppose, but its truthful.

In any case. Are you ready to jump off this cliff June??? Let's see if you can fly................
We moved here two years ago this week! And now this spot is home...

my little flower bed by the mandarin tree, overlooking the ledge which will soon
house my kitchen garden of herbs and flowers and good things

20 Sloped Backyard Design Ideas
THIS is my inspiration picture....cant you imagine it?????? below is what we are currently dealing with....

clearcutting "weeds" to reveal the old terraces which will again be beautiful gardens...someday...

this chicken has claimed. we have named her sally. she leaves us eggs sometimes.


marking the occassion---my first time driving kids to school in my PJs

i discovered these plants growing all over are lilies!

these are a kind of tropical apple

i made these overalls for jack!!

giant guava from our tree

my office on the lanai

i did a pinterest thing

all this big stuff??? WE CAN DO IT

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

just sing, sing a song

Sing. Sing a song.
Sing out loud.
Sing out strong.
Sing of good things, not bad.
Sing of happy not sad.
Sing a song.
Make it simple to last your whole life long.
Don't worry that it's not good enough for anyone else to hear.
Just sing. Sing a song.

I recently sang this to baby when he was in a mood, now he asks for it "LALALA?" pointing to my mouth. And it got me thinking...

Too much reflective posting lately, maybe?

I don't know. I have been so pent up this year I think. So little writing. So little creating. Just go go go. And now it is time. Release.

In any case, this little song made me think. You know, its not the big achievements. I am TURNING 41 SOON! Where is the book?? The grand achievements?? The big fat bank account?? Really. It is the little daily things though, that make a life. The daily ins and outs.

Singing your song. Your simple happy song.

That sounds so silly and simplified. I know. But, with me and my "grand plans" brain its hard to be a daily person. You know?

So, this week dada is working crazy hours. And we are still adjusting to back to school and country living (did I tell you about the dead rat in the wall????)

And this Monday I lost my cool. Over. And over. And over. Everyone was crying about 1) shoes, 2) lunches, and/or 3) juice boxes by the time we left for school. And then that night everyone was in tears about 1) friends 2) missing Minnesota and 3) iPad access [and 4) chocolate (ME)].

So. I literally said. "KIDS, dont let the baby die." And I turned my back on all of them to stand at the sink doing dishes for approximately 18 minutes. And I sang. This song. I am not a singer so I shouldnt have been surprised when baby came to stand next to me, looking up in wonder.

And you know what, singing this little song helped. I hear my girls humming it now, even little man (who, incidentally turns ELEVEN on Monday) And he says, we are learning that in ukulele class. (Yesssssssssss....ukulele class......) but we all think its stupid. And I was like. HEY. Sing your song Jack. Be you. That is what its about. What do you stand for? What is your thing? Not your vocation, or your plans in life, but who are you BECOMING??? Find that and BE THAT. (At which point I thought, this is a blog post in which I must further explore this idea.)

As with dreams. Dreams are great. Dreams are not real. Dreams of coffee farms never include rats in the walls or little tiny gnats that invade at dusk every night. Or coffee beetles.

Dreams propel us. They motivate us. But when we get there, to that "thing" we have been dreaming about, it is ESSENTIAL that we let go of those tightly grasped dreams, and experience the thing for what it is, in all its imperfect beauty. This is why motherhood can be so rough that first year. 2am feedings weren't part of the warm fuzzy dreams. Poop on your elbow. Endless worries. None of that. And eventually all new moms have to go through this transition. Some might do it in days, others battle it daily (yours truly.)

So yea. Singing your little song. What is your thing? Your daily joyful song to sing?

I am an empathizer. I see people. (We watched Avatar the other day..."I SEE YOU." Yes. THIS.) I value kindness. And the combination of these two things. Understanding where people are coming from and trying to be there for them. Building bridges. Something like this.

I don't get it right every day. But its my thing, to try at, you know?

So, stagnant manuscripts and coffee beetles and big dreams and plans etc. All those are by the way side. In the day to day, I can ask, as I scrub dishes with gusto as baby covers himself in mud outside with the big kids. AM I DOING MY THING? IN THIS MOMENT? Am I bringing kindness and empathy to this, lets face it, shitstorm of a world we battle in daily. Am I holding those things up for other people and saying, HEY LOOK. ITS A LITTLE SONG, BUT DAMMIT I AM GONNA SING IT MAYBE YOU SHOULD TOO. Or, at least find your own. And, whatever it is, truth, beauty, art, love, like my old neighbor who just took in her EIGHTH foster child. DO THAT THING. Sing it. Show it. Live it.

i love spending my mornings with this little guy.


mango lassi. because i have MANGO TREES

i built a little armoire for myself out of cabinets pulled off the kitchen wall.
hey. it works!

lalalala he says. lalala mama.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

farmer girl June

First off, regarding the miracle that is this farm, I promised the story but... There is too much to say, in the words of Inigo Montoya, let me sum up...

Me, online, night after night, on the Zillow iphone app. Scouting houses, farms. Beautiful houses, falling apart houses. Houses in town, houses out in the middle of nowhere. Knowing it would take a miracle to get into one. But still looking, because its what I do.

So I find this little house. Super close to town, my work, the kid's school but still, a little farm. With coffee. And macadamia nut trees. And all kinds of cool things growing. And a brand new roof. And its been empty awhile, which is a good sign. Why? Because that means the owners might be on the desperate side and interested in "creative financing" which - without tens of thousands in the bank for a down payment - is what we needed.

So we swing by the house one day, with the kids in the car whining "WHERE ARE WE GOING??" down this super steep driveway, overgrown coffee slapping at the sides of the car, mangoes dripping off the trees, literally hitting the roof as we drive past. And then we pull up. Dead weeds. ants, obvious termite issues. But, nobody puts a new steel roof on a falling down house right?

And we start dreaming.

But, for the life of us, we can't figure out how to get in touch with the owners. Dada found them online but with lots of addresses that lead to dead ends. So we wait. And one day, some friends are in town, and we tell them about this little dream farm, and they say, let's go see it. We want to pray for you, for a miracle.

So we drive over there, our friends and the kids in the car. And as we swing down that steep drive, we see a car sitting in the lot, my stomach seizes up, oh no, a realtor, or people who are squatting, oh no.

We smile, say aloha, just checking out this listing and the smiling guy who reaches out to take dada's hand stuck out the window says, oh hi, my parents own this place, I grew up here. He proceeds to introduce us to his sister and brother in law. They are all in town for a three day vacation. From Honolulu. And they came up to see the old house where they grew up, just for kicks, for a half an hour or so. And that is when we happened to pull up.

Chills down my arm as I write this.

We chat and talk and walk around, excitedly. He says how they were just saying they need to find a nice family to move in, the old house is so neglected but has so much life left in it, we say, how we would love to be that family, he promises to talk to his mom back at the hotel.

And we drive off. Hopeful. And then we wait. And we hear back. And the conversation becomes real. And then, as we are putting together our "offer" (a creative financing situation, basically rent-to-own over two years kind of thing) that VERY DAY they get their first legit offer in the two years that it has been empty.

Devastated doesnt even describe it.

But after a weekend, we hear back, the other offer was too low, plus, the owner likes us. She wants a family here.

We were amazed.

And, as of August 1, it was ours. IS ours. And sure, yes, we are paying the owners for now, we will get the deed within a year, but we are all contracted up, so it's pretty set (handy that, having a lawyer husband.)

And I poke at the earth each day, planting something, picking something, pulling something up, and I find myself letting go. Letting go of the angst, the uncertainy. Letting the quiet humid air seep into my lungs, fragrant with flowers and growing things.  Letting myself rejoice.

And in the meanwhile, we are scrubbing and painting, shooing away rats out of the attic, digging up years of weeds off of the beautiful terraces that run up and down the property, looking for the illusive patch of bananas, spraying for termites and cockroaches and fire ants.

And I can see us, years from now, here. With a bonfire pit and teenagers laughing on a hammock, a guest yurt in the corner for visiting friends and family, a writing shack, a tool shed, gardens upon gardens, glistening red coffee cherries up and down the hill, writing books on the lanai, teaching and traveling, but always, with a little house on a hill to come home to.

And here is the thing.

Even dreams that come true take work and guts and letting go of perfect and accepting what is (for example, rats in the attic.)

But that is real. And while dreams are good motivators (get off your butt and make it come true) they are dreams. Real is real. And often, not perfect. And sometimes that makes us, in a weird way, not actually want us to have the dream become real. Its easier when its a perfect dream in your head, a lot of times, and not dripping sweat, raking fire ants down the hillside, tripping over years of mac nut shells and working from dawn to dusk day in and day out to make it happen.

But its worth it. As mamas we know this. Our daydreams about parenthood become 2am puke fests and scrambling to make the bus on time and screaming toddlers being dragged off the park and questions about the existence of monsters way past bedtime. But this real is worth it. And we seize the moments of perfect. The rain at sunset. The coffee on the lanai, wearing a silk kimono, breeze in your hair. The bougainvillea newly growing on the hillside. Dedicated time to sit at a cafe nearby and begin - yet another - set of revisions, because dammit I am going to publish this book.

All of it.

More to come. Think of the guava jelly posts! How to set up a tiny house for four children! (Its all about vertical storage) Thoughts on September, the organizing month!

I feel like I can write this all here again. I dont know why I couldnt before. I am just not myself in a condo I guess.

But, I am coming around. And its good to be back.


a mystery tree

makeshift shoe bench

home renovations can be rough with a toddler screaming at your knees UP UP UP

its getting there! we need to tile the floor, after pulling up horrible linoleum...

i picked this from the tree outside my bedroom window. 

all of our furniture? still in storage in minnesota. so the kids got pallet beds for now. 

we have been told to get rid of the beetle borers that infest coffee we ahve to take all of these
huge beautiful trees down to the stump... WAH. :(

in which i photograph myself while eating papaya, yogurt, and homemade granola
while writing this post and baby napping in the other room. home. me. alone. quiet.

documenting homemade granola and yogurt. GO JUNE.

I totally just threw those papaya seeds off the lanai into the dirt below. they will just take
root and grow into trees!

similarly these plumeria branches will root and turn into trees. 

it doesnt look like much but I just planted lavendar, lower right, and hibiscus, and bouganvillea this week. This
patch of mud is going to be a gorgeous flower garden in 6 months!

and this is going to be lawn with a firepit and more terraced gardens above

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