The Haul – Farmer’s market style

Today’s haul from the local farmers’ market: Sol 13 for local honey, 4 for the green fruit, 4 for the tomatoes. I don’t remember specifics as I was trying to corral two rowdy boys and remember my Spanish numbers. I think it was about Sol 40 all together. Approximate US$ 14. Not too bad.

Finding Joy, Beauty and Meaningful Work

365-0593It only takes one little flower to change a day that started with a potty accident, followed by a scorpion in my laundry basket (true story) and a chip in my favorite Starbucks Washington DC mug.  “Here Mamma, I brought this for you,” says my almost four year old with his big eyes and long eyelashes.  That boy is a joy, a beauty (yes yes Captain Jack, he is handsome) and raising him is the most meaningful work I have done in my life.

For as long as I have had the blog, the tagline has been “finding truth, beauty, and meaningful work.”  I was probably inspired by a little poetry when I wrote that, and I continue to live my life that way – find what is true, beautiful, and meaningful to do.  But lately I think I have found truth, and this is it: Be joyful, be prayerful, be grateful.

Joy is my new truth.  It is everywhere, and points me to gratitude, and a life lived contently.  And the older my boys get, the more I find myself praying.  Even if it is Anne Lamott style “help, help help”, “thanks” and “wow.”  I also pray “please don’t let it be a concussion” at least twice a day.  Moms of boys, you know what I’m talking about.

I’m still looking for beauty everywhere. (Not finding it in my gardening endeavors so much – oh, there are bugs here.  Many many bugs.)  There is beauty in the way my boys are developing their own language lately.  Oh yes, and beauty in the roses that bloom despite my neglect and the abundant attention from more bugs.  There is beauty in the rhythm we are finding in our days here.

There is plenty of meaningful work to be done too.  It is no longer what I had in mind when I first write that, and worked hard to make renewable energy available to more people.  But meaning can be found in cooking my family nourishing meals.  Meaning can be found in keeping our budget carefully so we can accomplish our many goals (and travel more!) There is meaning in the everyday work it takes to raise these boys – kissing skinned knees, talking through tough transitions, making my boy’s favorite meal for an upcoming birthday.  I’m also spending much more time writing, and promoting causes I believe in.  Paid meaningful work?  A little scarce around these parts.  Scarce as chicken teeth to use an afrikaans saying.

I leave the profound truths to be found by the philosophers, the poets, and the people with more time on their hands than this busy mom of two busy boys.  Instead, I will find joy, beauty, and meaningful work.

PS: If you need a bit of joy, and a good laugh at my expense, I can help you out.  I “interpret” my son’s homework assignments with google translate.  Tomorrow’s assignment is “asistir con polo de cualquiera de los siguientes colores (rojo, verde, azul, o amarillo).”  Google says: attend polo Mercedes any colors (red, green, blue, or yellow).  For a minute I thought they had gone a bit far with the private school thing, and then I realized it must be a translation mistake.    Google please note: the word siguientes should translate “following”, not, in fact, Mercedes.

Ordinary Days

365-0021We are starting to settle into a rhythm in our days at home.   I try to keep thing at home  slow and peaceful.  Well, as peaceful as it can be with two very energetic and imaginative boys!

The boys are now in school for a couple of hours each day, and that gives me time to catch up on such little tasks as taxes, organizing the house, and blogging.  I enjoy two of those things very much.  The blog is due for a major overhaul, including a foray into self-hosting.  If all goes well, the behind the scenes stuff will be invisible, and the cosmetic stuff will be unobtrusive.

More things I like?  Yes please.  I just got accepted to become a Power of Moms Ambassador!  Those of you who know me know how much I love this organization.  I have been a fan for years, and have learned so much.  As an ambassador, I get to help this “online gathering place for deliberate mothers” grow.  Go check it out, and join Power of Moms (it’s free) so that you can access the great members-only materials they offer.  Just go to  I’ll do a whole post on the Mind Organization for Moms soon!  It is life-changing.

Remember this?  I now have laundry to do every day –  little school uniforms are my favorite.  We also cook every single meal from scratch.  And I mean scratch – if you want frozen vegetables, you better peel, slice, dice, cook and freeze!  Canned tomatoes?  Not a great option here.  While I can’t say I love washing floors, dishes are a sign of a family well fed, right?

The house has been coming together slowly – childproofing installed, little glitches fixed, and the scalding (I mean scalding) water temperature was finally fixed today.  I actually blistered my hand doing dishes! I am also doing 40 bags in 40 days for Lent this year.  One of my favorite bloggers explains it well here.

Next week, another piece will fall in place, as my parents bring the boys’ beloved pup to Peru.  A bonus visit from grandma and grandpa?  We’ll all say “yes please” to more of that!

These ordinary days?  Yep, they are pretty great.

Off to school

ToesThe blog has certainly not reflected how busy we have been around here!  Shortly after moving in, I had to make a few difficult decisions about schools for the boys this year.  The school year here starts in March.  Jack Jr. turns four next week, and that is the starting age of formal schooling here in Peru.

We had very few options, as many schools fill up years in advance, and waiting lists are atrocious.  The American school here will always try to make space for an embassy kid, but it is very far away (and very expensive!)  I really wanted him to have something a little closer to home, and preferable a smaller, more montessori-like school.  My other consideration was spanish.  At the American school, he would have spanish as a second language a few times a week at best, and our hope was that the boys would become fluent in our three years here.

The other option was a “nido”, which is a playgroup/daycare type facility for younger children.  Many of these have phased out the program for four year olds since that age group now goes to schools.  We found one nido that had a program close to our home.  It certainly wasn’t ideal, and I didn’t really like the space much, but some other embassy families used and liked it.  I resigned myself, and bought books (yes, books, for a four and two year old!  For approximately $150!)

At the last minute, we were offered a space for him at another school nearby.  Classes are in english and spanish, and we can walk there.  It is much more structured than I would have liked.  Children get homework, and take exams.  (Again, at four!)  The school supplies lists around here will blow your mind – four tightly spaced typewritten pages with every type of paper – copy paper, toilet paper, tissue paper, to a box of dinosaurs, books, and the inevitable lists of markers, crayons, and pencils.  Shopping for said list without a car, and without spanish has been the bane of my existence since he got in just a few weeks ago.  So far he likes it, and is all smiles at pick up everyday.

Unfortunately, my two year old little guy is now stuck without his brother at nido, and the way he calls for him the whole time is just heartbreaking.  None of his teachers speak any english, so it will be a challenge in the beginning, but emersion is the best way to learn.  (I keep telling myself that when I see their confused little faces.)

While my mommy heart is still not at peace with the decisions we made, we will live with it for the next three years, reevaluating as necessary.  Oh, schooldays.

Do you consider schools when you choose your expat assignments?