Over the Mountains and Through the…Banana Trees

First of all, bananas technically don’t grow on trees, they’re just big plants. But I digress…

It dawned on me that I never talked about a little trip we took a few months ago into Utuado, a mountain town in the central west coast of Puerto Rico. Please excuse me, I am truly trying to learn the ropes of this blogging thing 🙈.

My little brother came to visit us and he wanted to do something obscure while on the island. He read about Lago Dos Bocas and we decided to go. It was about a two hour drive from San Juan, so we packed my little PT Cruiser with snacks and water, filled up the tank and headed out. Driving out west is so pretty, in between bigger towns lay wide open green spaces, mountains and cliffs. The traffic starts to dissipate, highways are less pot-holey and you can really enjoy the scenery.

We passed through Vega Alta, which is where my husband’s father was born. The girls were very excited to get even just a glimpse of that piece of their abuelo, and stared out the windows in amazement that “he was really born here!?” Funny story: my old landlord sent a handyman to my apartment to do some random work. He knew my last name and asked (my mother-in-law, since she was still here at the time) if she were from Vega Alta. She was perplexed (and not just from what she described as his incredibly fast and unique dialect). He explained that people with our last name live in Vega Alta, that families tend to stay in their regions and you can usually guess where they are from based on their surname. That was really neat, like a little dollop of belonging!

Once you get near Arecibo, you turn southward and before we headed into what our gps showed as the middle of nowhere, we stopped by a roadside food truck.

Satellite image of the area we were about to drive into. All that green!

These food stands dotted every highway we’ve driven on, and they are all so busy! Even in more rural areas, it’s amazing to me how many people come to eat on the side of the road. A huge wood burning grill was set up with dozens of rotisserie chickens dripping their Puerto Rican marinade onto the coals, wafting that delicious scent way up the highway (mmm, is it lunchtime yet?!). Placing orders is always fun, since I still can’t understand spoken Spanish, but I heard the girl in the truck say “medio” which is half so I just agreed. Apparently it came with sides and I awkwardly gestured that I was ok with anything. We wound up with arroz con gandules and boiled green bananas–and a huge serving size at that–for less than $10! A nice old lady handed the girls lollipops, which they gracefully accepted with “¡gracias!” and held until passing them to me once in the car. It’s amazing how persistence and consistency can yield two young children who willingly give up candy on their own.

We split the large meal, most of it for my brother, some for me and a little less shared between the girls. They didn’t care about that lollipop at all, they were just excited I let them eat rice and chicken from a truck! And of course it was all delicious, even the bananas which I’d never previously eaten prepared in that way (I’ll have to learn how to make it and maybe bring to Puerto Rican Christmas sometime!).

Although I never stop to buy food when I go places, I was a little stressed about all the waste from even this quick stop. We had a big styrofoam container, two more styrofoam plates, plastic utensils for each of us, several napkins and a plastic bag. I hadn’t originally intended on stopping for food, so I didn’t have any reusable containers. But I also can’t communicate my intentions if I had been prepared. I can’t even imagine handing someone my empty steel lunch tin and in horrible Spanish trying to convey that I’m attempting to be eco-conscious lol. It’s hard enough trying to do this in the States, in my own language; people still don’t understand and I wind up having to do all this explaining or they will just refuse to fill up my own dang coffee cup! *sigh* I suppose this is when I’m supposed to just take one for the hippie team and try, even though it’s awkward, even though it’s embarrassing and will probably not even work out. But someone has to do this “work” so that it can become mainstream (oh, accountability 🙄)!

After our earth-betraying meal, we headed down I10 which was beautiful enough on its own to take a road trip to witness. We could see nothing but green, only tall misty hills flanking the narrow road ahead of us and behind us. I was driving so I sadly couldn’t take photos, but reflecting on this excursion is a lesson that I need to make a way for more documentation in the future. You live and learn 🤷🏽‍♀️. The sound of coquis, large flourishing banana plants, clouds and rainbows coming and going. It was breathtaking.

At some point we turned onto a side road and wound through hillside communities. Small shacks of homes sprouted up too near the road, their properties inhabited by cows and papaya trees. I had to yield more than a few times to crossing dogs who clearly believed I was trespassing on their land.

Our gps no longer in service, somehow we made it to the lake! It was incredibly quiet here, a few cars parked in the small lot, but no people as far as I could see. A building was near a dock, but neither seemed to be manned. Luckily as we walked toward the dock a man approached us and I clumsily tried to ask if we could get on a boat just to look at the scenery. (Quiero…ir? En el barco. Solo mira. Paga?) A boat was coming up to the dock and it seemed that the gentleman said we can get on and pay the driver, $5 for adults, children free. So we get on and another couple has arrived to go for the ride as well. The driver spoke absolutely no English and did not ask the other riders to pay, so we were confused. But we figured we could pay after we turn around come back, so we strapped into our lifejackets and began the approximately 15 minute ride through the lake to the other side.

It was so lovely! It was a cloudy day so the weather was perfect for just having a look around. The man-made lake is situated right in the middle of towering hills (mountains?). There are several houses sitting in these hills and I can’t even image how those residents get in and out of their properties. The boat service is for locals who live or work on the other side of the lake and it is all very laid back. At the dock, the other couple got off and still did not pay, and we stayed put while I tried to ask for him to drive us back to the other side. I fumbled with my phone translator a bit, but no service way out here! He was very nice but was clearly trying to say we had to get off the boat. His gestures seemed to imply that he had to leave and would return, so we just disembarked.

Wikipedia image of Lago Dos Bocas

The short dock was at the foot of a very steep hill with a narrow path up to a restaurant. We had nothing to do for at least 40 minutes, so we headed to the bar for Medallas. One was served to us completely frozen (I don’t think too many people are in and out of this lake restaurant lol). I ordered a pineapple juice for the girls to share, so at this point it’s the greatest day of their lives 😆.

With time to kill, we wandered around, and it appeared as though one must pass through the restaurant in order to get to a small neighborhood hidden behind it. Camouflaged amongst the rocks of the hill we spotted a toad, to the girls’ delight. A family having finished their meal, headed down to the dock with fishing poles and leisurely caught and released several fish, also to the girls’ delight. What a delightful day they were having lol!

Soon the boat appeared, without passengers which made us wonder even more why we couldn’t return with the driver (was it his lunch break?). He greeted us cheerfully and we loaded back up for a second round of peaceful lake-gazing. We were not asked for payment upon docking but just gave him the fee plus a tip, to thank him for tolerating my accidentally referring to the watercraft as la bota (which is boot, in case you didn’t know 🤦🏽‍♀️ I didn’t realize until later in the day that I had been mis-speaking…no wonder he was looking at me crazy).

I pulled the towel from my cinch bag and we sat in the grass to eat the lunch I’d packed. This is the point where my baby girl told me she needed to poop. Oh, you didn’t have to do that when we were in a restaurant with indoor plumping? “Do you think you will be able to hold it?” She says yes, but I already know she won’t be able to and I’m trying to find a solution. We aren’t near any place she could relieve herself discreetly, and there’s no way she can wait until we get home. Five minutes pass, “I really need to poop!” I remember the bag of trash from the food truck and I empty it, I move the passenger seat of the car all the way back, and have my child squat off the edge of the front car floor, holding the bag beneath her and tell her she can let it rip. Oh, parenting is glamorous as fuck sometimes! But now I’m thanking the food truck for the disposable napkins that are doubling as scratchy TP, and this shit emergency has been solved! There is a dumpster just past the parking area so I can dispose of the *ehem* waste (thank goodness! Because I couldn’t just leave that out on the ground somewhere, and I DEFINITELY didn’t want to drive it home with us 😷).

We pack our things, take a last look around and start to make our way out of Lago Dos Bocas. Not long after we made it back onto the highway, it started pouring down rain, so our timing was perfect. We all enjoyed a nice full day of kinda doing nothing; but doing nothing is exactly what we need sometimes!

Photo credit: Jordan Knox

Learning How to Be in a Long Distance Relationship

Uriah and I have been married for nearing 13 years, together for over 18 😱. We have been best friends since we were nine years old so as you can imagine, having a long distance marriage isn’t the easiest thing for us to deal with. Of course, we are human so there are times we want to stab the other in the eye, but in general we are still very much in love and actually want to spend our time in each other’s company.

The focus of our current goals and therefore our daily activities and extracurriculars revolve around our children. Since the beginning of our parenting careers, we determined that we felt most comfortable taking on “traditional gender roles;” namely, the husband makes the money, the wife raises the children. Obviously, it’s 2019 and if that’s not your style, cool! No judgment from me if a mother works outside the home (as a matter of fact, kuddos to the great moms out there who also hold down a job because I don’t know how the fuck you do it!).

I have always had a problem with being able to accept help from anyone, in any form. I’m a real do-it-myself type of girl, to a fault. So when I was pregnant I painted the baby room and put together all the flat-pack furniture and cooked all of mine and my husband’s meals. And when my flower child was born I never let anyone bottle feed her or change her or babysit her so that I could nap. After our second was born, I still wouldn’t wake Uriah at night to help me, because I believed in our roles. I took care of the babies and the house, and he did an amazing job at providing for us.

Over the years, I added more and more to the list of things my type-A ass had to accomplish by myself, and Uriah worked harder and harder at bringing home the bacon. By the time the girls were school age, they had only been babysat a handful of times in their lives, Uriah was working an average of 18 hours a day, and I was homeschooling and running a small homestead. It felt like I was on my own planet with no other occupants besides my girls. My husband and I didn’t have date nights (though we made a point of taking at least one real vacation a year, because we had to spend some time together), I didn’t spend mornings getting coffee with friends or play dates gossiping with the local mommy groups. We had kind of built individual cages for ourselves. We were not figuratively too busy, we literally had zero time to do anything but work, in our respective roles.

Shit like this happens so quietly, so smoothly. We didn’t even realize we had begun to live two completely separate lives. Now, the girls didn’t suffer missing their Daddy because he actually was able to come to the house and see them pretty often. Since he worked in our neighborhood he could come between calls or while on lunch, or while transitioning to his other jobs. The girls felt like they saw him all day. I just started to get used to his being gone all the time, getting used to my own busy-ness of diy this and garden that.

But as sad as it seems for us to have been so separate, it set us up to be able to make this giant leap to Puerto Rico. As I talked about in an old post, I don’t know if we would have been able to make such a scary decision if I wasn’t already doing.it.all on my own. I don’t know anyone in Puerto Rico, neither of us have any family or friends here. I have no one to lean on but I’d never leaned on anyone in my life (besides Uriah, that is).

So now that I am here and I am truly alone and living without my husband, solo-parenting, HOW are we handling this? Well, at first, I went about it all wrong. I purposely tried to not miss Uriah, hyping up my own independence, attempting to grow a shield around myself.

If I don’t miss him, I won’t be sad and it will be easier to get through this without him.

That approach was working, at a cost. He came to visit and I found myself irritated with him for being in my space. Feeling like I wanted him to go back to Pennsylvania! I never would have imagined I could feel that way about the love of my life! But the mind is sooo powerful, I made myself believe I was better off temporarily forgetting my husband than to long for him. And that is incredibly selfish. While he was alone, now averaging 20-hour work days (no joke!), missing his family like crazy, trying to find a way to continue this cultural immersion yet be physically with us as well, I was pushing him away. We spent our time together exploring new places on the island, having family movie night, eating dinner together. But in my mind I revered him as more of a roommate than as my long lost life partner. I didn’t allow myself to celebrate his return to me, which left me feeling empty when he left–I was sad that I hadn’t taken advantage of loving him more sincerely, and cried that I’d missed another opportunity to do so. Yes, I had succeeded in not missing him! But then was left with the sadness of regret for not missing him *sigh*. Being human is a bitch, y’all!

After having cycled through this emotional torture a couple times, I had to have a heart-to-heart with Uriah and take responsibility for my actions. Self-awareness is the most importing thing in this life! I committed to avoiding self-sabotage in the future. I am making a point to remember his love language and to indulge him when he interrupts “my space.” He has been taking my love of spontaneity more seriously and has been trying to treat me to surprises even from 1600 miles away.

You don’t make it in a happy relationship for two decades without taking care of the other person first. Our marriage isn’t “What can you do for me” but rather “What can I do for you?” I miss him! It hurts, and he is hurting so much! But we can allow ourselves to feel this hurt and let it motivate us to pave a way to accomplish our dreams while under the same roof 🙏🏽.

What Does Culture Even Mean?

We are still pretty fresh into this whole experiment, but I have had my fair share of discouraging moments about whether or not my children are “picking up” their culture, and even whether or not it actually matters.

In an attempt to avoid being completely lost as Puerto Rican newbies, we decided we would live in the heart of San Juan, hoping the tourist vibe would feel like a nice soft landing pad. We can see the airport from our apartment (it’s also much easier this way with all the back-and-forth from Uriah). We live right off the busy highway. We can walk to the beach. But a week into our move and it was clear I didn’t like city life. My imagination had once painted pastoral towns, horses roaming, postcard-type vacation life. But I live with the constant sound of loud cars (reggaeton and exhaust pipes blaring). It feels like there’s more graffiti and litter within a one mile radius than in my whole home town. Evidently I had been mistaken when I thought I would enter a calm old world of boleros and hammock-napping.

At school, our girls interact with their peers in English, singing American pop songs together at recess, discussing their mutual love for Harry Potter and seaweed chips at lunchtime. While in line during my weekly Costco trip, I notice all the carts filled with organic string cheese and madras lentils. I pass a neighbor every day who is carrying a bag of Burger King breakfast. I suppose I just expected it to be more…Puerto Rican?

And that’s when I got to thinking. Part of my easily agreeing to make this life change was the fact that I’d never felt like I had much culture of my own, and how nice it would be for my children to gain that. In my day to day activities here, the only things I’m seeing that appear to be inherent to Puerto Rico are potholes and indifference to traffic laws. I have traveled to a few less urban areas of the island and although they certainly contain more natural beauty and are generally better maintained (and seemingly respected) than San Juan, I still was confused about where all the Puerto Rican pride I’ve witnessed in my life was stemming from.

I was in the car listening to Latin trap (my favorite genre of music as of the last year or so lol) and I suddenly remembered my Puerto Rican friends from high school and how we would drive around listening to Marc Anthony and La India. We would crank up the volume, each singing along to their parents’ oldies, and it was clear my friends had a genuine love for the old school music. Even though we would go to the under-21 clubs on the weekend and get our innocent twerk on to Ja Rule, they still spent Sundays with their entire family crammed into a modest house, eating pollo guisado and dancing to Frankie Ruiz. Each day I spent with their families always seemed like the best day of their lives.

As far as I remember, my friends hadn’t even been to Puerto Rico, but they still carried this love for their island, their people, their roots. I always found it so beautiful, that loyalty they held for something that wasn’t even necessarily their experience. As I tried to imagine why they loved being Puerto Rican so much and compared it to myself–who couldn’t care less about my cultural background–it struck me that maybe it was simply their familial bond. This might sound obvious to someone reading this, but not to me, not with how I was raised.

I do not have a very affectionate family. We spent much more time cussing each other out than cuddling, we barely ate meals together, and my mom is notorious for cutting people out of her life (which unfortunately is a trait that got passed down to my siblings and I). We just never had any strong familial–and therefore, cultural–ties to anyone. When I first experienced the warmth of my Puerto Rican friends’ family, it was such a novel thing. All that hugging and kissing and laughing. Even their disagreements seemed so full of love, the way they still supported each other, even if the support came with a side of criticism and judgment by everyone within earshot.

I have seen that here on the island as well. People willing to help people. A real sense of togetherness. I witnessed a car accident from my balcony, and the two (I’m assuming) strangers got out of their vehicles and hugged before working out the issue. I see more people hand change (and meals) to the homeless here than I’ve ever seen back home–again, even some charity handed over with a hug and encouraging words.

I think my naïvety of (poor) city life, combined with my American privilege, combined with my lack of familial connection made me think culture was something that could be water-colored onto a vacation postcard. I still am trying to work out what it all means and it’s importance to me. I do want my children to have a sense of belonging to a people, and I need to be conscious that I don’t let my own underwhelming experiences dampen their chances for community. I suppose if I continue to listen to Puerto Rican music–while loving on my girls–and serve them Puerto Rican food–while loving on them–and teach them to play dominos–while loving on them–then those things become associated with family. They become the tangible parts of culture representing the core of it all: love.

Growing and learning can never stop, and taking this leap into a new world will help me to better understand other people as well as myself. Having now gone back to my home town and returned to the island, I have a bit more understanding of the essence of Puerto Rico. I understand that San Juan is a fine place to live, but that I just prefer small towns to big cities. (My first impression of Milan, Italy was the same as here: Eww, so much vandalism! Lol) The outpouring of love I witness on a daily basis from locals to the homeless has encouraged me to do more for people less fortunate than myself. I am more aware of my antisocial tendencies and I want to do better for myself, and for my girls. And I’m hoping the #islandvibes lifestyle can teach me to relax and take care of myself a little more. Vamos pa’ la playa, for the culture! 😉

Going Home for the Holidays!!

Although Puerto Rico is known to be quite the festive island this time of year, we decided the girls and I would head back to Pennsylvania to celebrate Christmas. The girls have really adapted to being away from their home, but they deeply miss their family and friends, and they are super fingers-crossed-pray-your-hardest-prayer-wish-on-a-star hoping that it will be a white Christmas! Eurya’s SEVENTH birthday is coming up as well and we want to throw her a party at home, where we’ve had all of their parties thus far.

Fast-forward a few weeks and we are already on our last few days back in the States, so I’ll do a (not so) little recap!

Traveling from the island back to PA was actually my first time flying on my own. Uriah and I have been together for so long that I’ve always had him with me when I went anywhere. Most of our family still live in the same town as us and I don’t take girls’ trips or anything (I’m lacking in the social sector of my life, because I’m an introvert? An asshole? A sparkly unicorn and no one can sit with me? Still working that one out 😜). I’ve never needed to really go anywhere alone, so this was new for me. And it was a great experience because these girls are my hassle-free little angels! Uriah met us in the airport with flowers and the girls just couldn’t have been happier to be back in his arms.

Once the mushy reunion concluded, it was time for complete chaos. We hadn’t been to Disney this year and we didn’t want to miss our opportunity so after eight hours of being back in our house, we headed to the airport again to fly down to Florida. A quick two day trip to visit Magic Kingdom was just what the (homeopathic 😆) doctor ordered. I got the girls all dressed up like they do in the Bibbity Bobbity Boutique (because hello, I already spent a fortune to be here, I’m not giving you hundreds of dollars to give my beautiful flowers some mediocre bun!) and we had a blast. They were both tall enough to ride Space Mountain so we had to ride, and although I was completely nervous for my Zemira baby (she had to sit alone! And she’s a brave girl but I didn’t know what to expect), they both did amazing and thought it was the best ride ever!

On our shuttle from the rental car place back to the airport, the driver was playing Spanish music that the girls and I knew from Puerto Rico so we were singing along. That in turn made the driver switch from English to Spanish when talking to us which was pretty funny, Uriah said we’re real islanders now lol.

Next to the airport back at home, there’s a discount grocery store so we stopped in because there was no food in the house. I don’t know if I’ve ever been so excited to go shopping! Big bags of fresh organic produce that cost nothing compared to in PR, so many items thrown into our cart, I was literally hugging parsnips. We also bought lots of goodies for Eurya’s birthday party (I remembered that they always sell Halloween themed foods that aren’t even expired lol, and she was having a Halloween party so that was perfect!). A full cart loaded with fancy ass yogurt and all the veggies I’ve been missing, for under $100–damn I love Pennsylvania!

The next day I ran errands for the birthday bash all day with the girls and it was amazing! I couldn’t have asked for better weather: sunny and warm (for PA winter). The streets and stores were empty, because it’s a weekday at 10am, duh! It was so revitalizing just to let the kids run from parked car to Dollar Store on their own without fearing they’d get hit by a car. The slow life wrapped me up like a hand-knitted blanket from grandma as I bounced from store to store without incident. However, I did notice as I smiled and tried to make small talk (I speak this language after all, I should take full advantage of the small pleasure in actually comprehending bad jokes from cashiers) that it’s true that people aren’t as friendly as on the island. I never noticed it before, and it’s not that people were rude, but kindness definitely seems to be more contagious in PR.

That night was the only time we had to get a Christmas tree, and although we normally go to a farm and make a big deal of cutting it ourselves, we just didn’t have the time, so we picked up a precut tree from a street-side vendor, which was refreshingly easy. I set up the tree but pulled out my Halloween boxes rather than the Christmas one (yes, I have several Halloween boxes in storage and only one for winter. I was SO ready for a Halloween party lol). Spider webs and tattered cloths were laid around the windows as well as the tree, which also got some cute purple string lights. Skulls and black velvet pumpkins were placed on tabletops and we welcomed 20-something guests (about half as many as usual, due to being a last minute soirée) to celebrate our first born’s life.

We had fun, E was dressed as Hermione as she’s currently a crazy Harry Potter fan (child has already read the books several times over!), Z was a traditional witch, and I dressed as Ursula from The Little Mermaid (they got a real kick out of each of us being a different type of witch). They had so much fun reconnecting with family and friends that they’ve missed while in PR.

The next day I packed up all the Halloween décor and swapped it all out for my Christmas collection. We had our Puerto Rican Christmas Eve celebration with family, then the four of us had our little family traditions in the morning, then headed to our other family’s gathering (whew, the holidays are just so much, right!?)

Then…I sort of just turned into a maid 😒 When I say that I don’t know anyone who works as much as my husband, that our friends don’t know anyone who works as much as him, it’s truly no exaggeration. This man is always doing one of his handful of jobs, so naturally the house is easily neglected. He’s a tidy guy in general but after five months of much of our home being untouched, it really needed some TLC.

I scheduled all kinds of appointments and errands to be done during our three-week stay back home, so we were pretty busy bouncing here and there (in between cooking and cleaning, of course 😒). Cold and flu season also got the best of us, with at least one of us sick at all times during our entire stay. Unfortunately, our being sick kept us from visiting some friends that we wanted to, which really sucked.

We loved visiting our local market every week for fresh veggies, handmade sourdough bread, raw milk and hipster coffee! The Broad Street Market is one of the oldest continuously operated farmer’s markets in the country, and was one of things I was looking forward to most during my visit.

Uriah was working over New Year’s so the girls and I visited with (our Puerto Rican) friends for their party. That was pretty great because the girls got to experience how their own culture typically celebrates. New Year’s is pretty much a Christmas party and they had the traditional Christmas songs blasting and all the parranda instruments out for sharing. As soon as we walked in, the girls recognized the song playing and started singing along in Spanish and dancing! It was so beautiful to see them get so excited and feel like they were a part of it all, it was really validating that this move is worth it! We partied all night and had a really great time.

Since Uriah and I still hadn’t had any real quality time yet, he arranged a trip to New York City for the two of us over the weekend. The girls got to hang with family, eat cereal, and play video games for the first time lol, and I got to get dressed up and eat and drink and dance and just finally love on my man. It was a perfect weekend: exciting, romantic, revitalizing, chill, wild, playful; a little bit of everything and just what we needed.

The girls were happy to learn that the Pennsylvania Farm Show was back in town for the last week we were home. This is the largest indoor agricultural exposition in the nation (PA is farm country, what can I say 🤷🏽‍♀️😆). I’ve always loved the Farm Show and we’ve brought the girls every year since they were born (even one-week-old Eurya didn’t miss it back in 2012!). We are kind of aspiring farmers ourselves so the animals and way of life of the vendors are very interesting and inspiring to us. But one aspect of the Farm Show that I believe is so valuable is the fact that it is held in our impoverished, urban city. My wannabe farm girl self loves this shit, but even inner city kids get to come and experience this totally different way of life every year. That exposure to a completely different culture could be so significant to people who may not otherwise get an opportunity to view a world that’s so different from their own. Cultural broadening, it’s essential!

We went three times: ate obligatory potato donuts and milkshakes, tried out the new organic pasture-raised pulled pork stuffed brioche cones (yass hunty!), ogled at piglets, surveyed a million breeds of poultry, rubbed alpaca wool on our faces, learned about mushrooms and honeybees, patted giant horses, and watched cows give birth. Yes, they transport any-day-now pregnant heifers to the exhibition for human entertainment education. The mother in me kind of cringes for these ladies, but yoooo! Have you ever watched cows give birth?!

The local children’s museum had a lego exhibit open so we checked that out, which the girls surprisingly freaked about, so that was really worth it (even though I passed out on the bench from pure exhaustion at this point, but we do it for the kids 🤷🏽‍♀️). A few more visits to family and our time back home would be over.

Fast forward again and I’m a couple days back on the island! Both girls were sad to leave their friends and their home. More specifically, they loved that we all just shared a king sized bed for three weeks (Mommy was too lazy to make their beds/do subsequent laundry). I, on the other hand, couldn’t wait to get the fuck out of co-sleeping (literally, why is there always a toe up my nose??). Traveling alone back to PR wasn’t bad at all, again all the credit goes to these amazing lil’ jet setters. But Z was pissed on the plane: she proclaimed “I’m never going to learn Spanish or the culture, I want to just forget we ever came here. I want to stay in Pennsylvania!” Fortunately, once we got to our apartment, nostalgia or something kicked in and she told me she was grateful to be here #moodyjudy.

The car expectedly greeted us with a flat tire, and unexpectedly also had a dead battery, but thank goodness for making friends because our new neighbor helped me get up and running. I had just enough food that I could wait a few days to go shopping, so we spent the weekend at the pool, trying to unwind from the chaos of the previous weeks. I discovered a new bug at the freshly mowed pool lawn that ate me alive and left me itchy for days, but the girls got to test out the mermaid flippers they received for Christmas, so I’ll call it a win!

Puerto Rican drivers did not disappoint and I nearly escaped a fender bender on my first outing since returning; but that ocean, too, did not disappoint, literally leaving me breathless every time I looked out my bedroom window.

The headaches of being a glorified housekeeper in my 2400sf house really made me appreciate my small, easy-to-maintain apartment here. Since I don’t own it, I’m not bothered in the least about the flaws and quirky faucet installations and outdated closet doors. It was really freeing to come back and not keep a rolling to-do list, like all homeowners do. Of course leaving real winter for 80+ degree days is incredible, and we missed latino radio. Leaving and coming back made me realize I don’t miss PA as much as I thought I would, and that I don’t dislike PR that much either. Honestly, if Uriah lived here with us life would be pretty perfect. The girls have also settled back into life here, giddy about being back in school and afternoon trips to the pool or to hang with our neighbors. None of us have a preference at this point of what we consider to be “home” and I’m not personally in a rush to define that one. Maybe no where is home, maybe everywhere is. I’m totally up for whatever path the universe sets up for me!

You’re Selling Our Apartment!?

When we found our apartment back in July, we honestly couldn’t believe we got such a nice place. It was bright and spacious, it was clean and new-ish, furnished and the building had a pool! I had set low expectations before we flew down, so what we ended up with was amazing to me. Three months later, our landlord says she has to sell the property for personal reasons and would like to work with my family to relocate. Obviously since we had a contract, I didn’t have to oblige, so she came to me ready with an alternative apartment in the same building which I could visit the next day. I was not happy about the idea, but I tried to find the positives, and I had sympathy for her situation so I went to check out the new place.

It just wasn’t the same. It was on a lower level, facing the opposite direction, so the view was worse and there was less breeze. The apartment was smaller, was more dated, didn’t have an air conditioner in the living room and had less cabinet space in the kitchen. The bathrooms had tacky cabinetry and inadequate lighting. My previous bedroom was located on the corner of the building so I had an extra window for light and breeze, but this unit was in the center of the building.

The crew of realtors my landlord had working for her kept trying to oversell the positives of this unit to get me to agree. In my head I knew I would say yes–even if I didn’t agree to move now, once my lease was over I would need to find a new place to live anyway since I planned on staying in Puerto Rico longer. At least this spot was already found for me, in the same building so moving would be simpler, and it was ok (with the low expectations I had set, if we’d seen this one first, we would have moved in). Rent was a little bit cheaper, though it should have been, because it just didn’t have the same value as my original apartment. The landlord said she would pay for movers for my things, and that I could continue to use the furnishings that came with the apartment. I asked about transferring utilities, because getting everything set up in the first place was such a giant headache. They assured me that they would help me do it and that it would be easy-peasy since I already had accounts. She would refund my security deposit plus a little bit extra, sort of like a consolation prize 🙄. Everyone acted like they were doing me a favor.

So I talked it over with Uriah, knowing I would say yes, but I came back to the landlord with a few things I needed to help sweeten the deal for me. I asked for an 18 month lease rather than 12 (that would put us exactly at the time school ends, so we aren’t wasting rent payments if we leave the island). I asked to waive rent in November for my troubles (and there were so many!). A few more commodities were worked out and she agreed to everything, we wrote up a contract and started preparing.

The day before I was to move, I visited the apartment for an inspection and to receive my keys. I had stipulated that I needed a proper cleaning before I moved in, hoping to not have another abuelita show up like back in August. However, this time it was the young owner herself, donning a bedazzled blouse and platform wedges, who was tidying up (while living out of her suitcase in the back bedroom). In the time since my first visit, the living room floor had become warped and tiles were lifted. She acted like it wasn’t a big deal: “I will fix this right away, just put your furniture over to the side, it’s just a couple of tiles.” Ok. Then she asked if she could sand and resurface the entire long wall of the living room, so that it was prettier. I told her absolutely not, it’s not necessary. It looked fine the way it was, not to mention I’m moving tomorrow so……! A detachable showerhead installed in one bathroom was missing its holster, leaving the hose to dangle into the tub. The realtor/inspector mentioned that this needed fixed; the landlord was annoyed. The toilet was installed too closely to the tacky ass sink, so the flush handle needed to be forced down, and must be pulled back up manually or else the water will just run continuously. Great. It’s not like I have 6-year olds who will never forget that 🤦🏽‍♀️. The ceiling fan in the master bedroom wasn’t functional because the remote was lost. She didn’t want to fix this (which I gently demanded she fix since I don’t even use A/C and the fans were part of the reason I agreed to move there); but she did offer to wallpaper the closet *wait, what?* Then I learned that the laundry dryer was not vented out, and had one of those stupid boxes that you fill with water. I had used one of those when I was in the process of venting my own dryer back in Pennsylvania and it was HELL. I was so pissed, but I handed her the list of shit she needed to do ASAP and went back to my nice apartment for one last night. Again, I told myself, I’m helping this lady out with her situation and I calculated that we would save several thousand dollars when it’s all said and done, so I can deal with inconveniences.

The next morning, the movers show up (almost 2 hours late), none of them speak English and the first guy is going on and on about police? Google translate finally helps me understand that during the night, someone had broken into the floor I was moving into. They had climbed the balconies along the floor-to-ceiling security bars that cover the first few levels and went into the first lowest level that didn’t have said bars. So it appears I’m moving into the least safe floor of the condominium. Cool. Then I go down to open the door to begin moving, and a cloud of dust hits me. There’s a guy in my new apartment, sanding the MF’ing wall I told her not to sand, and the floor is all ripped up. I tell the movers I can’t move; they tell me they can put everything I own into the back room until the work is finished. The sander says it will be three days until he’s finished; I tell them I can’t live there crammed into a bedroom while he’s working; they don’t understand why not lol. It was actually crazy because they really didn’t want to not move me. The fact that they didn’t see my point of view was so comically absurd. My old landlord (who hired them) was on a plane at that moment so I told them they would just have to wait to talk to her until she landed–but I was NOT moving my things. The new landlord showed up, did some flirtatious negotiating with the movers and concluded that they would come back in three days–December 1st (but only after also trying to get me to just move into a “clean” room while they work 🤦🏽‍♀️). I figured that would be fine because my new lease begins December 1st and the new buyer of my old apartment is supposed to be moving December 1st.

My landlord arrives in Puerto Rico and she calls me “How did moving go this morning?” “Well there’s actually an issue with that…” “What?! Oh, no…well I’m outside, can I come in?” Girl, lol. No, actually I would prefer if you not come to my home, even if it is your property. But I let her in; and why does this chick show up with all her luggage and plops down in the dining chair, ugh. So I tell her what’s going on and she’s mad. She even says “Ugh, I was hoping everything would be in order so I could just lay by the pool!” 😑 She makes a few phone calls while I’m awkwardly waiting for this stranger to get out of my house. I give her the new landlord’s contact information and she finally leaves.

That night (after relaxing by the pool because I am the one that needed it with all this craziness), the realtor calls me and says she found a new apartment in the building to look at since everything went wrong that day. Someone else was looking at it right then, but if they didn’t take it, I should. I didn’t think having to wait until the 1st was such a big deal, but apparently they really needed to keep this buyer happy and wanted me out. So now I’m nervous, like, I hope the other person doesn’t rent this place, I hope it’s nice!

She calls me back around 8pm (on a school night lol) and says to come up and see it. It’s near the top of our building, still on the opposite side of the beach; however, since it’s so high, the view is great: you can see the lagoon and the mountains. It’s the same size as my current unit, and it is still on the corner, but the opposite corner so there’s actually a better view of the ocean than I had! All the appliances are new, the bathrooms are new, and all the ceiling fans work lol. Rent is a little higher than the crappy unit, but still cheaper than my first unit. Yes! Give me the lease to sign now!

All the drama doesn’t end right away though lol. The movers come the next day and they start. I had previously asked my landlord to make sure the movers bring boxes and she laughed, like Puerto Ricans don’t use boxes when they move? But she said she would tell them to have some. Of course they show up and they don’t have any boxes 😒 So I start packing my smaller things into reusable grocery bags while they begin loading the big furniture. The kids are in school, Uriah is in Pennsylvania, I’m going back and forth moving my things. These guys are in slow-mo while I’m working my ass off, when I shouldn’t be working at all really (since our agreement was the landlord would arrange to have my things moved). But hours later, it’s getting done.

While I’m in the old apartment, the new buyer and his family show up and wanna look around. Sure, I don’t mind that you’re all gawking while I’m pouring sweat, trying to hurry and get out of here while you all ask questions. Then when I’m in another room someone comes to me and says “Hey, I didn’t see the gate key over here [on the keys hook], do you have it?” Yo, why are y’all in my keys? First the landlord’s unannounced visit, now this; how invasive can people get?

A bit before I have to stop working to pick up the girls from school, the old landlord shows up because she is curious to see my new apartment. Apparently, people can get much more invasive (this isn’t normal behavior right? Or am I just really that introverted?) lol. She’s going out of her way to be extra loud with her oo’s and ah’s. Then she comes to me, while I’m still hauling ass, to say that she had her math wrong when she gave me the amount she would refund me once I move. That “consolation prize?” Oh, that was an accident, I meant something else. Lady, we have a contract is all I can think. The last thing I want to do is start arguing about money when I’m so close to being done with it all, and this LAWYER comes to me to say she made a mistake?! At first I just said “I verified with you twice that the figure was correct, and you confirmed.” She still just said it was a mistake, and I couldn’t help but feel like she was trying to play me–a lawyer should know that, mistake or not, we had a contract. Sensing my hesitance, she changed the subject for a moment and asked in a concerned voice “Do you know anyone who can come clean?” because things were still dusty from the new floors and bathrooms. No, of course I don’t. “Well here, here’s $40 because you’re not gonna be able to cook in here tonight. But yeah, my math was wrong, I’m sorry.” I was still frantically working while we’re having this conversation and I just ignored the cash in her outstretched hand. I told her I still had to hurry and run downstairs to grab more things and I had to think, but also “That figure was agreed upon and I was anticipating that payment.”

As I went down to grab more items, all of the things I could say to her were going through my mind, like how I was doing more work than the movers had done (because they actually left after moving the big items, smh). But mainly just that we have a contract, simple as that. By the time I came back I guess she decided to just give in and said she’d “figured it out” and gave me my check. I guess the $40 was off the table 😂

We both went our separate ways, I picked up the girls and they helped me go up and down four more times to finish getting our things. On the elevator we met a family with children who live on our floor. A few days later we met them again at the pool and they invited us to hang out and the girls are just so ecstatic to have “new best friends.” This whole crazy situation was really not even unexpected of Puerto Rico. But in the end, everything always works out just the way it should. We are a week into this spot and it is more than I ever expected, we are so blessed and so grateful!

Four Month Update

My little flores and I have lived in Puerto Rico for a third of a year already 😱 So, how’s everything going?

In my previous post about some of my concerns before moving down here, I mentioned a few not-so-serious issues on my mind. One of those concerns was my fear of driving around and getting lost in a strange busy city. This has catapulted to become my biggest problem living here. I am not getting lost (thank God for gps!), but I never could have imagined the way people drive down here. I have adapted to this aggressiveness behind the wheel, but the lacking infrastructure (traffic lights still out; POTHOLES!) and disregard of traffic laws by drivers, I cannot get used too. I like to say that Puerto Ricans are really good at being bad drivers. Meaning, although stop signs are barely acknowledged and 6-direction intersections have broken traffic lights, there are surprisingly few car accidents (at least that I have noticed). As a police officer, Uriah has developed a new understanding of why a Puerto Rican in the states might drive the way that they do lol (seriously, it’s worse than what I’ve seen in New York, Miami, and LA 😆).

I was worried about my garden back home, but surprisingly it’s been very “out of sight out of mind.” Uriah did bring me a huge bag full of produce that was flourishing without any of his assistance (in October!) so that was a treat. But I probably won’t mind too much what’s going on in my yard–that is, until summer when I go home and find that it’s all a dying mess 🙄.

Our dance parties have sadly dwindled down to nothing. Our apartment was so loud next to the highway, we could barely hear on our tiny speaker and we don’t pay for (expensive) WiFi here so it’s hard to stream my usual Pandora, etc. anyway. We have actually moved into a different apartment (long story, and the reason this post is late) and it is much quieter, but now my phone service is horrendous! I moved to a damn dead zone and we’re currently considering changing providers 🤦🏽‍♀️.

The funny concerns about our hair have actually made an unexpected turn for the worst. Here I was living my regular mom-of-ethnic-children-who-have-never-been-to-group-school-before life and I forgot that *gasp* headlice were a thing. So when they showed up at home itchy on a Friday and I saw tiny creepy crawlies in my baby girls’ heads I was mortified! I had never known anyone to have had them before so I went google crazy and THANK GOD I actually got rid of everything over the weekend. I spent literally every minute in their hair, over and over, checking and rechecking, times a million. Now I check EVERY day and I tie up their hair for school. That was a (granted, short but terrible) nightmare that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. Being paranoid of lice is my life now 😑.

Besides the bullshit, THE GIRLS ARE LEARNING SPANISH!! It’s adorable, they come home and they say little phrases and they’re more willing to practice and it’s so great to see that something is happening. They are also leaning to drum traditional bomba rhythms and little boriqua folk songs and it’s just so cute! They

will say greetings to strangers without fear and it’s just beautiful to see them grow in confidence. We still have a looong way to go, but it’s very exciting to see them start to slip into the language and culture of Puerto Rico!

Zemira in Lares, Puerto Rico

My Husband is the Shit: an Appreciation Post

Seriously, he’s the man.

A decade ago we had a whim to move to Puerto Rico. Today, I am here with my amazing children as they live and absorb their culture, just like Uriah had always dreamed. Without a college degree or a trust fund or any type of leg-up or hand-out, he has managed to work his ass off to be able to afford this traveling and organic lifestyle.

He never cared much about the environment or health food, but when I slowly implemented all these “hippie” things into our lives, he rocked with it. When I stopped cooking him fettuccine alfredo every other night (which was bomb, btw) because we needed to get our health in order, he didn’t throw a tantrum and order takeout. He ate the damn baked chicken and broccoli! When I said breastfeeding is best for our baby, he proclaimed “Free the nipple!” When I wanted to use cloth diapers, he learned how to prepare the homemade baby wipes. When I left my flourishing elderberry bushes before I could harvest them, he (very painstakingly) plucked, dried, bagged and transported those berries down to PR for me!

Just being a good daddy to baby E!

I too, have a list of things I do for him, and it’s this mutual selflessness we have for each other that is so beautiful and what gets us through our current long distance situation. He can’t stand being in Pennsylvania without us. We call/text/FaceTime every chance we get. He works so much that he is barely ever inside our home in PA–the way he wants it because “a house is not a home” and it hurts him to be there. He is looking for flights every day, trying to see if he can squeeze just a day or so in real quick to see us.

Even from 1600 miles away, the way he supports his family, emotionally and financially, is so tremendous. Ten years ago we wouldn’t have guessed he’d be capable of single-handedly sustaining two completely separate lives. Groceries and housing and vehicles in two different parts of the world, with children in a Montessori school who live at the beach and eat açaí. None of this is easy, it actually keeps getting harder at the moment. But he presses on and gets it done. One day we will reach the culmination of this current adventure and we will take another vacation in Colombia. And my hard-working husband will lay down on a boat while I serve him fruit and our girls chat in perfect Spanish with the skipper. And we’ll live happily ever after, because everything this man says he’s gonna do, he does it!

What’s For Lunch??!!

Even though it’s more difficult to find organic options in Puerto Rico, I still am committed to my daughters’ nutrition as my first priority. But I’d also like for them to get some of that good comida típica that tourists are over here drooling about!

Puerto Rican markets tend to have the same items: Caribbean root veggies (yuca, malanga, yautia, batata, ñame, taro); plantains/bananas; pumpkin; chayote; eggplant; recao; star fruit; passion fruit. There are also usually sprinklings of mangoes, coconut, quenepas (I previously assumed I’d find more of these!)

At first glance it seems abundant. Then you think “What the hell can I do with all this taro root?”

Back home I was used to buying kale and the like by the large bunchful, fresh snow peas, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, apples, and berries–staples of our health. But finding greens or apples is quite the feat here, and if you do find them, they may not be fresh, or very expensive, or both 🙄.

Uriah brought me the fresh 2lb bag on the right, it cost $4. Here, I paid $5 for that shitty small bag on the left.

Against my desire for sustainability, I get most of my produce from Costco. That’s the only place I’ve found organic mixed greens, and at a decent price. I can purchase avocado oil, organic riced cauliflower (frozen, along with other frozen organic produce), sprouted sandwich bread, organic one-ingredient apple sauce, organic eggs, chicken and yogurt (though I know these items to be subpar than what I was used to in PA).

Uriah can bring me food when he comes: lots of dry goods like sprouted popcorn, various flours, beans, seasonings, supplements; random treats he finds at discount grocers (think Rx Bars and dark chocolate); and even frozen items he can pack in a lunch box (SO thankful for the frozen pure açaí he can bring from home).

The only thing I know what to do with all those Puerto Rican roots is make pasteles, which are great but they are time consuming to prepare, I don’t have the freezer space for extras (a requirement for pasteles making!), and I have no idea how to find pasture-raised (etc.) pork.

Oddly, even though many of the plantains are grown here they cost 2-4X as much than in the States, but they are wonderful! I use them to make tortillas, thickener for soups (like how you might use potato), for grain-free baking (I have a go-to plantain donut recipe that is amazing!), and of course tostones (crispy-chewy flattened green plantain slices you dip in garlic sauce 😋). The girls love when they get tostones in their lunch and all the other Puerto Rican kids know exactly what that mojito (garlic sauce) is for!

Plantain tortillas!

I had no idea eggplant was such a staple here, and I still need to figure out how they are traditionally eaten. But I have been making a “sauce” from the roasted flesh that I think is pretty tasty as a sandwich spread! I got the inspiration from an Israeli dish, sort of like baba ganoush, but not.

I am excited for chayotes! I’ve never eaten them in the States, though I was already aware of their existence. Another veggie I had no clue was a staple in Puerto Rican cookery, but am now going to incorporate into our meals. You can eat them raw or cooked, they’re like a firmer, sweeter more pear-like summer squash. So far I’ve made soup of it and the girls were fans!

I make whole chickens only, using the carcasses to make bone broth. The broth is usually used to cook my sprouted beans in, which are served any which way–on a tortilla, with sprouted rice, over salad, as a dip, made into patties…we eat beans a LOT.

After the main eight portions of chicken are eaten, I will pluck every.last.remnant of meat left on the bones (which is usually a fair amount! Stretching meals 101 😉) and often make chicken salad from this (with yummy homemade ranch dressing), or soup or enchiladas.

That same ranch dressing I often use with canned bone-in sardines (very nutrient dense food that I brought from home, but I’ve found is available here at Costco!) for something similar to tuna salad. The girls aren’t the biggest fans of sardines TBH, but I’ve been feeding it to them since they were babies, and I will continue to because it’s just that good for them.

A school lunch of lentil pasta and pesto, sweet peppers, yogurt and dark chocolate.

I’m still getting used to packing school lunches, since the girls have never been to school outside of home, but it’s fun for me to come up with balanced meals (in their cute little tiffins 😍). If I should talk more about what I’m packing them, or add recipes, or if YOU have any suggestions for me on how to use some of these local ingredients, leave me a comment and let me know!!

Raising Nice Kids Has It’s Downfalls

Before I ever became pregnant and even when I was a new mom to two young girls, I never wanted to homeschool. Prior to my conversion to the “crunchy mom” world, I was one those people who thought homeschooling was a curse upon children, dooming them to become awkward uneducated weirdos. Truthfully, I didn’t put that much thought into it, I just regurgitated what all the other “normal” people thought about homeschool. Even after I had my children and became more natural-minded (a homebirth under my belt and everything!), I still wasn’t convinced this was the way to go. I had a lot of researching and personal un-learning to do before I abandoned scare tactics like “socialization” and saw the indoctrination of the conventional school system for what it was.

Do not misunderstand, I fuck up in a lot of areas of my life! I am quite flawed and I am 100% ok with that. But my mothering is the one aspect of my life that I do not cut corners, make excuses or give up in. If I learn something that you’re “supposed” to do to help your children, I implement it permanently. Breast is best? Sure, you can nurse for 3+ years. Babywearing makes you feel more connected and reduces tantrums? Alrighty, no stroller! Food dyes damage your brain? I’ll never serve you any (except maybe from a macaron while in France, c’est la vie 🤷🏽‍♀️). Obviously everyone parents differently and that’s fine. But I get obsessive, imagining how everything they experience in their very young life could affect their future. I’m an overthinker, overworrier, overplanner about my girls 100% of the time. (I’ll get back to you in 20 years and let you know if it was worth all the trouble 😉)

By the time they were preschool age, I knew I couldn’t handle putting them in conventional schools. I can count on one hand all the real tantrums Eurya has had in her life (one of them was during a flight while I was heavily pregnant, so that was great 🤦🏽‍♀️). I followed all the advice on how to raise an emotionally intelligent child and it worked!! She talks out her feelings, doesn’t overreact to small inconveniences, is extremely empathetic, doesn’t act out aggressively when things don’t go her way. It’s amazing! Zemira needed a bit more time than her sister figuring out emotional regulation, but she has it down now and it is such a blessing! Seriously, no terrible twos (or threes or fours) over here!

(Read the book How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk. I parented like this since birth and it truly works!)

When we go to birthday parties and kids scream and kick, my girls watch like it’s a strange reality TV show. If some child is mean at the playground, they have no idea why another human would behave that way. We have set an example as parents that we respect each other ALL of the time. My husband and I argue sometimes, of course. But we never yell or get aggressive. We never curse in our house (my kids actually still don’t know that curse words exist at nearly 7 and 5.5 😬) and we always use manners and are above and beyond kind to each other.

But that’s not the real world! We know we can’t keep them in a bubble forever and we don’t want to. I started cursing at age 8 and shit all went downhill from there 😆. I am a realist and am very aware that my perfect angel girls are gonna get into a lot of imperfect mess, and soon! And it’s stressing.me.out.

They are in school now, with outside influences I cannot control. They come home every day telling me something inappropriate that a kid has said. Something mean that a kid has done. About the cliques (cliques already at 5, 6, 7 years old? In a Montessori school?!). They make friends with an 8 year old who the next day says she’ll never talk to them again because of some trivial thing; Eurya concluded “I know that she doesn’t mean it, she just has to get more emotionally mature, like me!” They want to keep being friendly to these kids that “flip-flop” so that they can set examples of how to be nice. *aww*

Now I have to be mature and bite my tongue when I want to say “What a little bi***🤬!!” lol. I don’t want kids being mean to my babies! One student said she didn’t want to be friends with my girls because they are “too happy and that’s weird.” 🙄 So far, my girls aren’t hurt by it. They’re so nice that they don’t even always understand when kids are dissing them. And I come from a whole different world–we used to get into fist fights at this age in my home town’s public schools. I don’t want my girls to be walked all over, and it irritates the shit out of me that this is going on in a Montessori. However, this is life, and adversity will teach them things! This is just another milestone in my mothering, in their growing up; new opportunities for each of us to learn and adapt.

May they continue to be kind humans who don’t let the world steal their joy!

WTF Do You Do All Day?

Inquiring minds want to know 😉 A day in the life of Tiara:

6am: Wake up, check my phone (I am NOT a morning person and screen time helps me get up) and text my husband.

6:05-7:05am: Get breakfast ready, eat and get us dressed and out of the door. I keep cold brew coffee in the fridge, the girls’ lunches are always pre-packed, their clothes are always laid out the night before. We eat eggs and green smoothies every day, brush teeth, brush hair and go!

7:05-7:45: Getting out of our building, into the car seats, on the road (traffic 😩) and to the school. FaceTime papi, lots of hugs and kisses.

7:45-8:10: Commute back home. Some days I will run errands instead of going home.

8:10-8:30: Coffee! I also make fresh oat milk and clean up after breakfast.

My brother snapped of pic of me making my milk while he was visiting.

8:30-9:30: Read and write.

9:30-10: Breakfast #2.

10-11: Cook for later.

11-12:30pm: Clean up after my cooking mess, and clean random things that need cleaned in the apartment.

12:30-1: Have lunch, mess on my phone, text my man.

1-1:50: Have more coffee! Do more cleaning (why is there always so much to clean?? Oh, yeah. Kids 🙄).

1:50-2:20: Go get kids. In typical Island fashion, even though school is out at 2:15, it is a good day when they aren’t released to me after 2:20.

After school. And Zemira’a RBF, just like her mama!

2:20-3:00: *reverse, reverse!* Hugs and kisses, getting into the car seats, FaceTime papi, on the road (traffficc!), and into our building.

3-3:30: Snack time (my kids are slowww eaters) and after school dishes (74 lunchbox pieces are so cute, until it’s time to wash them).

3:30-4:30: Kids’ time. They do what they want, I sit with them and try to inconspicuously pry out of them what has been happening in school.

4:30-5:30: Homeschool-y things: workbooks, reading, violin practice (very loosely practicing at the moment 😒).

5:30-7: Getting dinner ready and eating, slowly, together at a candlelit table, talking about our hopes and dreams 😍. Favorite time of the day!

7-7:30: The girls get ready for bed, have showers, and lay out school clothes while I clean up after dinner and make school lunch.

7:30-8pm: FaceTime papi, cuddles and goodnight!

I try to go to bed at 8pm as well (I’m so old lmao), but it’s usually more like 9 or 10. I’ll shower if I need to, talk to Uriah, have wine, a face mask, or whatever else. But I have terrible sleep and even if on paper it says “sleep from 8pm-6am”, I actually toss and turn and wake up all night (Fitbit confirmed 😒), so I do try to call it a night super early.

That’s a typical day. I was going to the beach in the morning, but my to-do list was growing. I was trying to work out, but my to-do list was growing. I was shaving my legs, but my to-do list was growing *sings SZA: “I’m sorry I’m not more ladylike, I’m sorry I don’t shave my legs at night.”*

More TMI in the next installment, everyone! ¡Buenas noches!