12 January, 2017

Local Schools

I'm volunteering at a local school for a few hours each morning.  It has been a wonderful learning experience, both for me and my kids.  
Only Spanish is spoken at school.  
We are all increasing our vocabulary.

The best part though, is the FRIENDS! We have met so many wonderful kids and teachers.

So, as a special educator I have made several observations in this school here in Isle de la Piedre, Mexico.  It is interesting to me to see how other countries and cultures work with children, including those with special needs. 

There are a number of children with special needs at the school, some with physical disabilities and some with other challenges.  Just as in the states, some of the children need/benefit from having a paraprofessional in the classroom.   At this school most of the paraprofessionals are the parent or relative of the child with special needs, and if they are not, they are paid by the family of the child with special needs.  I am not writing to place judgement on their system in any way.  

I see pros and cons to this kind of system.  Pro: the child is working with someone who knows them and their specific needs well.  Con:  The child's parent is unable to get income during their time spent at the school which can lead to financial struggle.  The list could go on...   I just observe.  And the more time I spend in these classrooms the more I love the people.  

06 January, 2017

Here's to Adventures in 2017

Your work is to discover your world and then with all your heart give yourself to it.  -Buddha

Our adventure continues.  We love Mexico.  Living in an RV has its pros and cons.  Overall we are pleased with our situation.  I really miss having a bath tub, but seeing the ocean from my kitchen table is truly a gift. 

The kids have met some friends.  At our trailer park there are kids who to attend the local school, so we decided to give it a try for a month.  Awesomeness.  I volunteer every day, helping with reading and English, and I also get to spend 1:1 time at the school reading with my kids.  It creates a nice structure in our daily routine. (one of the cons of our last location).  Life is good.  

In all situations there is opportunity for joy.  I hope I can focus my lens on the abounding joy around me.  We live on a little island somewhat isolated.  We ride a boat to town if we need something the market here doesn't have-  Or if we need Urgent Care because we just got stung by a Sting Ray.  The boat ride is about 8 minutes and costs 8 pesos.

The island is indigenous- owned by the native tribe.  No one can buy land on the island-  only rent or if you build a structure (ie house, restaurant, laudria) you do not own it..  The tribe owns it.  It is actually very interesting.   No one owns anything here unless they are native.  Most of the island is 3rd world living.  As I drove the kids to school this morning we passed a mother hen with a cluck of new baby chicks.  I ride my bike around a lot more here than I did in Mazatlan.  It is amazingly beautiful.  Definitely my favorite location so far.

Ruby Catherine was stung by a Sting Ray.
It was traumatic and painful.  The venom can cause serious reactions depending on the location of the sting, how deep the barb went it etc...  Ruby Catherine is fine.  We were at Urgent Care for several hours as she received an IV to counter act the venom.  Apparently this is a little more common here than in Minnesota.  Ha.  The doctor was a young (yet quite skilled) woman.  And health care here is incredibly cheap when compared to the US.

03 January, 2017

Villa del Mar

We said goodbye to this lovely little Villa today.  We really enjoyed our time here.  Alfredo the owner was kind and helpful.  The showers were always clean and had hot water.  I could hear the ocean waves from my bedroom window.  What more can a girl want?

14 December, 2016

Schooling on the Road

Schooling on the road has gone better than I anticipated.  Before leaving I had concerns (not so mindful moments) about less than motivated children when it came to academic studies while living on the road.  I feel a weight of responsibility when it comes to providing a good education. I just want to help my kids to reach their highest potential.

Of course much of their education is simply the experiences they are having. One of the beauties of children is that they are always learning.  Whether we are spending a day at the beach or at the market great questions arise (eg how do Jelly fish sting people? How do I say "bathroom" in Spanish?, What kind of fish is that boat fishing for?).  Their questions lead to some fabulous educational dialogue-  and the best part is that they asked the question so they WANT to know (unschooling).

As for the more formal academics, we have gotten into a routine.  The kids do reading, writing, and math in the morning- then they have play time or experience based education- ocean time, or  their jungle fort, or mural painting.  All of which have created some great learning.

The Mural work is a refurbishment of some art that was fading and chipping away from years past.  We only have 3 paint colors to work with red, yellow and blue.  Mixing has been so educational and fun.  It is still a work in progress.

29 November, 2016

Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico

Grandma and Grandpa joined us for a visit.

Surfs up.

You better watch out.

Weathered in cold, rain and snow
Aged in the hot summer sun
Waiting to be reclaimed
We drift through joy and sorrow as one.

Our paint flecked off long ago,
Newness a fond memory
Cut down, worn, nailed through the heart
Then sanded smooth in new understanding

I’ve long had an affinity
For the provincial, rustic, yet firm
Helpmeet, partner, lover of mine
Did our love adapt, conform?

23 November, 2016

Beach Yoga

Yoga with kids is nearly always an entertaining experience.  I love their creative ideas and movement.

06 November, 2016

Apache Junction, Lost Dutchman State Park, Arizona- Poetry

Not many things
Living Small
Life is good
We’ve really got it all.

We have each other
We have each day
Peace at our core,
Finding our way.

Creativity, Imagination,
Spontaneity, Meditation.

Hikes in the desert.
Feet in the ocean.
Sun on our faces,
Mindful motion.

I know deep within
I don’t need any “thing”.
Simply seek further light
And just practice being.


As time passes by
A reality sets in.
The fear I once had of memories fading…  is happening.

Simple things that I never wanted to forget.
Like when you climbed up onto the kitchen table and ate an entire serving bowl full of pineapple.
Oh my sweet baby.  You earned your nickname “fruit bat”.

As these memories are getting further away from the surface I sense a distance.
A distance that stings me at the very core.

I want you baby.  I love you.  I wish I could hold you even if just for a moment.

And-  then I remember to come back to now.  Back to the moment.  
Live.  Breathe.  Be.
Elizabeth is printed on my heart, and there you always will stay-  And I will keep living, breathing, being.

I am strong.  I am a warrior.  
I live.
I breathe.


26 October, 2016

4 Corners National Monument

Downward Facing Dog
In 4 States at once. <3 span="">

Adho mukha śvānāsana

A girl after my own heart. 

24 October, 2016

Arches National Park

United States of Yoga

Delicate Arch
04 November 2016
Pain in her eyes
Pain in her eyes.
Pain on her brow.
Living with out
her baby somehow.

Braving the dark
Seeking the light.
In Searching for truth
Her candle ignites.

“Life will happen,
No matter how I feel
Time marches on that’s the raw deal.
I will not waste my days
Stirring in thought.
I choose to be present
with all the wonder I’ve got.”

So, she keeps moving forward.
Honoring her bestowment
Relishing small joys
Living each moment.

19 September, 2016

Mindfulness Yoga Classes

Autumnal Equinox YogaMindfulness
September 21 and 28
5:30 pm
Mindfulness: Thinking about what you are doing right now. Living in the moment. The benefits of being mindful are endless, yet, it is increasingly difficult living in a society of mindless activities. Step away from your screens and begin a new life practice. Seize the Power of Now.
Mind Your Body
234 S. Main
Pocatello, Idaho

16 September, 2016

Rabbitstick- Primal Skills Rock

One week of primal living taught me that-  Primal living IS living in the moment.
I love creating, and I also love functionality.  So carving wooden utensils so I could use them to eat with this week was very rewarding.  
I learned so many great skills this week-  and made some amazing friends.

Starting fire with a bow drill.

Death Cafe

Brain Tanning hide
Carving Wood Spoons

Making a Osage Orange Bow

28 August, 2016

Glenwood, Alberta Canada

Uncle Mel at home in Glenwood
with Ruby Catherine.
We love you!   
We love Canada.  
Thanks for your kindness.

19 August, 2016

Mindfulness is...

 Thank you Jon Kabat-Zinn, for your research, dedication and gifts in sharing Mindfulness.
I am grateful.
Watching the clouds,
Observing a flower,
Feeling the sun on your skin,
Making eye contact and connecting with another,
The joy in your heart when your dog is glad your home,
Mindfulness is living in the present moment.

Mindfulness is not…
Chatter in your mind,
The thoughts you have of your annoying neighbor,
The things you say in your mind about others,
Worry about things that may go wrong at work,
Fear about things that will NEVER happen to you.

Our whole life is made up of moments. 
How will you spend your moments? 
All we ever have is the current moment that we are in- 
It is a gift.  Are you at peace with your Present?

Lizzy's 1st Birthday

I began my journey in Mindfulness 6 years ago, as I read Geneen Roth's,  Women, Food and God.
As with most things if life, learning to be mindful is a process that takes effort over time.  I have put much effort into practicing mindfulness- living each moment.  It is not easy, I am human, I still have to kindly reminding my chattering mind to live rather than anticipate, or fear.  Kindly, non-judgmentally bringing myself back to the present is something I work on everyday.

And now after losing my daughter, Elizabeth (Lizzy) in 2014, I see even more clearly the value of mindfulness.   All of  my efforts to live each  moment are a blessing.  Before she died-  I strived to be present with her, to love her (verb), to enjoy her.  And now that she is gone, heart wrenching and difficult, I have used mindfulness to brave the darkness.  To be in the moment with my pain.  I have let myself grieve rather than bury it deep inside.  Is this difficult?  Absolutely.  I brave darkness everyday, I feel pain and hurt, and longing.    Yet somehow, I also feel peace.

What is the alternative?  Burying my pain.  Not allowing.  Pushing it away.  Pretending it doesn't exist.  This just creates underlying fear and  anxiety- the opposite of peace.  And no matter what the pain of losing my baby girl exists.  pretending, pushing it away, only creates fear. The opposite of peace.  I choose peace.   I choose to live in the moment.

16 August, 2016

You Are My Sunshine

Grandma Ardy and Elias 2006

Grandma Ardy died at her home today after suffering a second stroke.
She was a light in my life, her kindness will be remembered. Her mother sang her the song "You Are My Sunshine",  she then sang it to her children and grandchildren.  Years ago I rewrote the lyrics as a birthday gift to her.  And then updated them again for her funeral.

You are my Sunshine, my only sunshine.
You make me happy, when skies are gray.
And now you know dear, how much I love you.
We’ll be together again one day.

I love you so, Sweet Grandma Ardy.
Your kind heart stands supreme. You fill my cup. It runneth o’er.
You are remembered in my dreams.

We are all blessed to know and love you.
Your sweetness fills the heart.
We feel your spirit, and know you’re near us.
May your love from us never depart.

Your gentle kindness it overcomes me.
I am so grateful for your love.
You are a blessing sent straight from heaven.
For you, I thank God above.
Happy Anniversery to my best friend.  My life partner.  I love you.

02 August, 2016

Māori hangi - a real taste of culture

The Bean Family invited us to join them for a Hangi-  or Haangi
We love the Beans-  
Māori honor the earth and recognize that the earth is the giver of all life, from the soil came food and that same food was cooked beneath the earth.
Our food was burried with hot coals-  Here Eric lifts out the feast basket-  Pork, Chicken, Potatos, Sweet potatos,  Good people, good times.

01 August, 2016

One Month on the Road

We're in Idaho.  One month on the road went by quickly.  Lots of events.

-We said good bye to Grandpa Henry

-Grandpa Henry died

-Grandma Ardy had a stroke, we spent time with her at University hospital in SLC

-On our drive to get on our ship to AK, our truck broke down in Burley, Idaho.

-Grandpa Cory came to save us and brought us his Prius

-We stayed with our dear friends from old days in Kansas-  Mat and Karin Bean in Gig Harbor, Washington

-We made it to our port and set sail to Alaska

-Alaska, green. therapeutic.

-Canada-  Vancoover, BC Harker-Armstrong Family Fun

-Olympic Peninsula, Yurt Camping Cape Disapointment Harker-Armstrong family

-Astoria, Oregon

-Portlandia, OR- VooDoo Donughts

-Back to Idaho to get truck fixed