Saturday, January 29, 2011

Blogger Catharsis?

Last post on roller-coaster parenting I was in a very difficult, depressed state.  Questioning life choices and my own sanity.  Three days later I'm amazed by the level of patience, calm and coolness that I've managed to keep with the kids.  A snow storm hit on Wednesday and snow days have left me home with the kids instead of going to work on Thursday and Friday like normal.  Kaio's getting over a cold so we stayed in the house most of the time.  Lame-o since this is perfect snow man building snow!  We did go out for a bit (bad idea cause he got sicker after that).  Here is the snow bunny we built.

Snow and kids do not make a conducive working environment!  I only got a few work things accomplished.  And, lovely, while I was in a meeting with my boss, Kaio starts insisting, "Mom clean my butt, mom help!" over and over again.  I'm muting the phone in between my sentences.  Yeah not so classy.   Luckily for me over the week I was able to do enough to maintain the illusion of productivity - the theme of my post-children career.  

Work At Home Mama keeps her cool for three days straight.  The headline should read.  
Could it be that my last post expressing incredible difficultly with controlling my emotions and maintaining patience was cathartic?

Especially yesterday, Friday, when Mari stopped at home only for a moment in the evening to have dinner before heading out to poker night with the guys.  I decided to put on a movie and keep the evening activities low key.  We watched FernGully.  The dishes still sitting in the sink unwashed, the mail spread across the counter in unorganized piles, and remnants from the day's activities still all over the living room floor.  My compulsion was to clean up the ubiquitous mess: turn on the movie to sedate the kids and start cleaning.  Inevitably they would loose interest in the movie and I would not get enough stuff cleaned and I would get frustrated about things not working out.  The new cool mama in me said 'no.'  and I just sat on the sofa with them and we watched the movie together.  

After the movie was over, I gave them the choice of dinner or a bath.  They were hungry, but didn't want to try the food I made: roasted peeking duck and mixed bean stew.  The moment became a stand off.  "I want to take a bath, I don't want to eat."  I said, "ok but I want to see you guys try it and take at least three bites, then we can take a bath."  A huge surprise to myself, I stayed firm but playful.  After a trip to the potty and an attempted escape the kids finally tried the food.  Nene declared the duck 'delicious' and ate all hers plus Kaio's.  Kaio ate and enjoyed all the beans (he had a bunch of the duck for lunch so that was fine).  Score family!

she chose pink, violet, and orange to paint with while Kaio played a Thomas computer game
After such a win, I was patting myself on the back for staying so cool in the face of dissent.  And just as my inner monologue declared victory, Nene pooped in the bath tub!  Ugh.  Now this made me mad.  The bath full of dechlorinated water with an added cup of dead sea salt, all contaminated.  The third time in recent history that she's done this.  No one to help me.   I yelled at her.  I said, "bad."  I pulled her out of the tub and didn't get her a towel.  When she said she was cold, I squatted to her level, looked at her and repeated, "The bathtub is not a toilet.  The bathtub is not a toilet."  Purposely trying to make the situation slightly traumatic in the hopes that she will remember the gravity of the situation and control herself next time. 
So then when the kids did not want to take a shower, I dragged them there.  Stern but not frantic, I insisted they get in the shower.  Once they were in there, they were very happy and played together.    I went downstairs to get some clean clothes for them and got this gut feeling like I needed to go back and check on them.  Nene had found my razor and was pretending to shave her legs!  OMG.  please don't make the stupid mistake I did and put your kids in your show without kids proofing it.  Luckily no one was hurt. 


Thomas carrying a load of bananas to the bakery

We all went to sleep together on their bed's bottom bunk. A happy little family.
lots of snow to shovel




Playing with snow and warm beet juice

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Roller-coaster Parenting

"You are great birth control."
"No, but your kids are adorable."

That's what an old high school friend said to me on Saturday when I met her for lunch at Bus Boys and Poets in NW DC.  I took Nene with me, and she threatened to flick on and off the restaurant lights once she discovered she could reach them from our bench.   First time she giggled when I shook a finger, then when she tried again I had to pull her away.  I know my dear friend intended her words harmless and playful, but I couldn't help feeling slightly offended.  I covered up with a joke.

I wanted to recoil back into a world filled only with holistic mamas, where I spend most of the time.  But every once and a while I try to poke my head out and get in some quality time with those girl friends of ages.  Those friends forever.  Of whom I was the first to have kids.

And this isn't the first time I've been told I'm good birth control.  The sad part is that the kids were acting relatively mildly behaved!

The weekend passed so smoothly and nicely.  A totally lazy weekend in the house with the kids listening to popular Brazilian music, building with legos, a yoga class, a dinner party with friends.  I felt elated, in love, and surrounded by love.

Then the last couple days have been really tough and backwards.  I lost my temper two days in a row and flipped out on Kaio; yesterday because he poured soup in the salt grinder, and today because he spit out the food I cooked him on to the chair and floor.  I try so hard to stay cool and calm in the face of defiance and whinyness.  But I guess my patience erodes and unexpectedly I find myself erupting with frustration.  I think I act like Homer Simpson when he strangles Bart! "Why you little!"

It only happens with Kaio.  Our personalities are so similar that we both fight for control.  Lately I've been trying to recognize when I'm ordering him around, and realize that he has the right to say no, and that I should let him make his own decisions and not force him to do things just because I want him to.  But then when I relinquish control and let him do his thing, I find myself getting mad at him for not helping me or participating in the activity.   Am I ridiculously immature or what?

Like yesterday, we were setting up a little kitchen for Nene.  I tried to get the kids involved with following the instructions, finding the right pieces and screwing them together.  Kaio did one thing and then ran away.  Nene stuck around saying, "my kitchen, my kitchen."  She was stoked and helped as much as possible.   The kids had been playing with the faucet piece while I was assembling and when Nene napped, I asked Kaio if he would find it for me.  He declared "No" and ran off downstairs.

A bit later he came upstairs and asked me to help him reach a movie above the DVD player on the mantel.  I told him I wasn't going to help him since he didn't help me.  I felt mad at him; stubbornly angry.

Tonight the same thing happened.  After he spit out my food and I flipped out and ordered him to bed, I was depressed and holding a grudge.  I didn't want to talk to him or pay any attention to him.  Why should I spend so much energy on him when Nene acts precious and is there sweetly begging for me to play with her?

Putting them to bed, Kaio asked, "Mamae, are you happy?"
"No, Kaio I'm not happy."
Kaio: "Are you very sad?"
Nene: "No, she's mad."
Kaio: "Are you sad?"
Nene: "No, she's mad."
Kaio: "You are sad?"
Nene: "No, she's mad."

My belly held pangs of a rancor.  A black cloud of bitterness, regret, and inadequacy.  The kids need me, but I feel like such a dud of a mother.  With one hand on each of them I sat in the darkness, waiting for their sleep.  Kaio curled up in my lap.  Why can't I keep my cool?  Why can't I let it go?

In researching homeschooling, I've been subscribed to all these great blogs lately; Magic and Mayhem, Small Things, and Teach Mama.  I'm so amazed by how well planned and equipped these mothers are for their day.     I want dearly to be there but often feel like I'm barely treading motherly water.   Maybe I'm not cut out for this, or maybe there is something wrong with me.   I don't know, but yesterday evening while cleaning the messy house, I was daydreaming about being childless.  Daydreaming about my girlfriends with boyfriends who get home from work and curl up on the sofa with a book.  Who spend as much time as they need at the grocery store picking out the right cheeses for fondue.  Who make recipes with lots of steps.  
How far removed I've become from that reality.  

I know that's horrible.  This time these thoughts lingered even as I pushed to repress them with positive ones and hopes of a tantrum free future.  I quickly remembered that this parenting.  And your kids will always find ways to challenge you, no matter who you are, you are not immune.  Life with kids never gets easier, just different.  We get the child we deserve (old Brazilian saying).  And I need to stop dwelling and sulking and just deal with the feelings of love and anger.  Deal with the manic depression of the highs and lows of parenting.  Then when the kids are older, moved out and all we have to talk about is our aging bodies and health problems, we'll reminisce in the nostalgia of the dept to which our kids made us feel. 

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Should you let a child choose their own name?


video
About a week ago Nala learned to say Kaio's name correctly.  Now she calls him 'Kaio' instead of the beloved, "Kako" which had rubbed off on all of us.  I have to say I'm a little sad to not hear that sweet rendition anymore.  It was so cute and contagious, that even Kaio did not main and would sometimes refer to himself as 'Kako.'
I've also been thinking about what to call her.  It seems that everyone on has a different version of her name.  Kaio and I call her Nala
Mari calls her Na-na
Mom calls her Lini
She calls herself Neh-neh, which means baby in Portuguese.

So since she calls herself that, her friends at daycare call her that too.  Her name for herself has remained persistent for months now, even since she has learned pronunciation of more difficult words.  Could this mean she chose her own name?

I did ask her a couple days ago and she said that she wants to be called Nene.  Should I start calling her that?   Should I let her choose her own name?  Isn't that how Peekaboo Streak got her name?  I had a friend in college who officially changed her name from Jessie to Chloe.  She said she felt more like a Chloe than a Jessie.

I do believe that kids adapt their personalities to their names, like how owners start to look like their dogs.  I thought Nala was a pretty cool name, based off of Simba's girlfriend from the Lion King movie.
But I think that I'm going to call her what she wants.  Nene it is.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Where'd the money go?


Hitchhiking on a fishing boat (Ecuador to Peru)
Five years ago I considered myself very thrifty.  In fact, in and after college I lived off a few bucks a day, walking instead of taking the bus, hitchhiking rides around the West Coast, eating rice and beans and pasta with spaghetti sauce from a can.    I always loved shopping at thrift stores.  I worked at a coffee shop that got me a couple hundred bucks a month, and I worked during the summer as a bartender, which paid the rent.   I really made due with little money but still managed to drink good enough beer and visit some beautiful places.  For a while after college I worked at Yosemite as a cabin maid, cleaning the guest cabins.  My friend, who convinced me to work there, showed me the ropes and how to save as much money as possible.  I learned that often ordering two sides is cheaper than a meal and can be enough food.
Cathedral in Quito Ecuador


Children living high in the Mountains (Hiking through the Andes in Bolivia)
I got to spend a lot of time meditating, drawing, writing, and doing yoga naked on top of mountains - above the heads of tourists who probably weren't looking.  My days off were spent hiking to peaks and waterfalls.  I really got in shape mentally and phisically, and then realized that I needed to move outta there.  I was fearless and I hitchiked rides with strangers.  Heard interesting stories, like from an off-shore banker on Jersey Island near England.  Being a psychology major, I just ate this up. 
Jesuit Mission (Bolivia)
Inti Rymi festival (Peru)
Sunset over Lake Titicaca (Bolivia)
waiting for a boat while men play cards (Peru)
Playing with kids while spending a few days with the ruler of the Ashuar Indians on route to Peru
Learning Cana with the Quechua Indians (Ecuador)
Erupting Volcano in Ecuador
My friend told me she was hurt that I decided to leave Yosemite so soon.  But after slaving for a 4 year degree, I just couldn't take cleaning rooms seriously. 
After that I traveled like a free spirit to Canada, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Brazil.  I stretched $1800 over  1 year, subsisting off of odd jobs, deal hunting with a Lonely Planet guide. braving the elements, dealing with being uncomfortable, and the kidness and intrigue of strangers.  I also had a credit card and charged everything that I could.  Still, I think my bill at the end was around $2000.  And that seemed like a lot of money to me!
Island on Lake Titicaca (Bolivia)
Now-a-days our monthly  mortgage is over $2400.  Up untill about a month ago I grasped on to the illusion that I could still consider myself thrifty.  Mostly because I still shop at thrift stores and check craigslist before buying anything new.   But who am I kidding?  I'm not thrifty at all.  Our monthly credit card bill are enormous.  Really, where does all this middle class salary go?  We sure don't have much to show for it.  Looks like it all goes on food.  Isn't that crazy!  I know I could find cheaper food if I had time to deal hunt, if I had time to cook every day, if I had time to grow more of our food, or if I wasn't such a nut for organic.  Then there are things like getting to the store to buy clothes but nothing is on sale that day.  Well that's the day that I have a babysitter so that's the day I need to buy the stuff.  I just can't be strategic with my shopping anymore, I'm too much of a disorganized wreck for that!  So we end up spending a little more.
Island on Lake Titicaca (Bolivia)
Then I heard on the radio a few weeks ago this guy, Eduardo Porter, talking about the cost of things, "The Price of Everything."  He affirmed that families pay about 20% more for goods and services for the convenience and time saving  factor.  It's true, it's not just me!  
Llamas eating at Machu Pichu

Lake Titicaca Bolivia
Well that is reassuring but it sure isn't cool.  I really got to tighten the belt, safe money and be responsible. Man how much being an adult sucks sometimes!


Llama Shamen at Machu Pichu Peru

Lake Titicaca


Another thing I don't have time for anymore..... taking beautiful pictures.  

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Ski Vacation w/ Kids

In front of some slopes in Lake Placid ,NY



As much as I did not want to shell out $85 for a day of childcare, I have to say that it was totally worth the opportunity to ski on the slopes all day long.  The clear air, mountains, blue sky, snow covered trees and peaks.  Being outside, completely focused on the nature and the slopes served as the greatest parenting therapy.  It felt like one of those therapeutic retreats.   So I'm gonna say that next year I will not even think twice about putting Nala in the daycare and putting Kaio in the Ski and Play.  I'm such a a cheap skate that the extra money was really hard to swallow.  But I'll just have to factor it into the cost of a ski vacation. 
The first day we rented skis for Nala and Kaio and took them out with us.   Mistake.  Nala's too little.  As much as she loved ice skating, skiing seems too fast.  She started crying on the bunny slope area.  I returned her gear after just an hour.  She really did not like going fast and being out of control.  I think we'll have to get one of those harness leashes for her and teach her how to break before she'll enjoy skiing.  
On the other hand, Kaio loved going fast out of control.  He loved skiing when we would let him on his own.  The first day he had a grand old time with Mari out on the slopes, but he would not stop or wait, he would just launch himself away and wipe out eventually.  It scared and frustrated Mari, who doesn't have much patience for Kaio's shenanigans. 
I was determined to get some skiing in on these world class slopes, so the next day we threw some money at the problem!
Kaio with instructor teaching him the pizza break technique
We put Nala in the daycare and Kaio in the ski and play, where he had two ski lessons during the day  and the instructors taught him the pizza breaking.  But all the technique in the world wont help you if you lack judgment!  He just didn't want to stop, ever.  On our last run of the day, I took him out and let him free ski to the lodge, without holding him back.  He skied straight into a trash can. Crash!  He wasn't going fast, and I let him do it because I thought that when faced head-on with an impending object, then he would start to break.  But he didn't, he just kept going full speed.   Crash! 

There were some women near by who gasped, "Are you ok?!"  we were asking.  

He shook himself off, "That was fun!"  

One of the women cracked up hysterically, "He's so cute."
A frozen waterfall
'He's something'  I was thinking.  God please help me teach him some sense before he grows up and auditions for Jackass.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Not the Most Interesting Subject

I've been undergoing a major dental transformation.  My holistic dentist, who practices gentile dentistry (meaning sans tooth extraction), gave me an ALF (Alternative Lightwire Functional) appliance to expand and align my bite and skull bones.  He also gave me a head piece to wear at home that pulls my upper jaw outward.   Mari jokes that I look like a gladiator.  I'm super embarrassed of the big, awkward, metal junk attached to my face.  Plus it kind of inhibits cuddling in bed.  But he has been very supportive and accepting of the added baggage.  I feel pretty lucky that he doesn't mind me looking like a gladiator.  I mean, I know that is how marriages are supposed to be.  But they not always are; my dad used to call my mom fat.   So I'm glad that Mari can look past the shell and see what is on the inside.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

You Can't Fire Your Mom

Living with mom is mostly great.  We have a live-in babysitter who sometimes folds our laundry, and if we're out of cooking oil or apples then it is only a trip downstairs to borrow them.  My mom lives in the bottom level of our duplex and splits her time between here and her brother's house in Florida.  The main problem is that grandparents have different 'parenting styles' and that means that when she is in town we have full time spoilage going on.  She's a big TV watcher.  So the kids go downstairs knowing that she'll turn on Nick Jr. and feed them strawberries and bread.  As hard as I try to convince her not to give the kids sugary foods, dairy, wheat, meat with nitrates and hormones; she continues to be their pusher.  Yes, a pusher.  She comes home from work with a pizza from Costco and starts asking Kaio, "Can I get you slice of pizza, honey?"  She needs to fill his belly up, no matter what type of food.  I've tried to explain the concept of nutrient rich foods vs. bleached, processed, chemically sprayed, pasteurized products but this seems to be quickly erased from her mind when faced with a good deal at Costco.
She literary told me, "But, he wants to eat the jelly, I can't stop him."  I was like, "yes you can, you are the adult."  So she started buying organic strawberry jelly, gluten free bread and Rice Dream.  But she is still not there yet, not investigative and suspicious of food labels.
I made her a raw goat kefir smoothy after she was feeling rotten post antibiotic regimen.   She then went to the supermarket and bought loads of kefir, which is great, except when she started giving it to the kids.  It looked like a green-washed brand and was sweetened with added sugar.  It tasted more like an ice cream than something healthy.  The kids quickly began fixated on it and drank loads and then did not want dinner.  It is difficult for me to compete with that and not be a bad guy.
I know I'm on the extreme end of the healthy eating spectrum, but I don't want my kids eating factory raised chicken and beef on a daily or even weekly basis.   I have to be on top of her constantly. She even sneaks them things and says, "don't tell mommy."
I've tried buying her snacks and food to give them and giving her books to read them and puzzles as an alternative to TV.  But there is always going to be this gap between what we each think makes a healthy body and mind grow.  She's my mom, I can't fire her.
We live really blessed with the loving contribution she makes to the kids lives.  I just wish that I could bring them up on exclusively healthy foods.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Living a Riot

He insisted a coat was unnecessary


Oh man have I been looking forward to the days when the kids would play together, independently without needing prompting from me and Mari.  Looking forward to being able to relax on the sidelines.  Well that day has certainly come, but with some added consequences!  

The kids are great friends.  They play together, laugh, hold hands, hug, wrestle, turn into partners in crime.  They even sleep in the same bed now (both on the bottom bunk).  But, lately more trouble has been brewing.  They are such buddies that they keep each other super hyper.  They don't stop playing at night.  I can't get them to sleep.  One of them will start talking and then the other, back and forth.  If I walk away for a minute then one will climb over to the other and they'll start tickling or giggling.  For the last couple nights they have been up until 11pm.  I don't know what tactic to take! 

If I leave the room, then they play with even more rambunctiousness.   If I stay in the room, they keep still but turn into chatter boxes.  Two nights ago, Nala would not stop talking even when I asked her to be silent.   They were having a riot.  I sure didn't want to be the party pooper, but it did start to tick me off as the minutes passed.  They were girlfriends having a sleep over.  


I Need to figure out how to put them to bed now with this new energy that has surfaced!
They cleaned all the leaves off the deck and hauled

Monday, January 3, 2011

Need a Baby!

I don't know what has come over me the last few months, but I can't manage to muffle the urge to spit out more children.  The thoughts come constantly.  What is the deal?  Could it be that I'm madly in love with my husband? Could it be that my daughter is not a baby anymore and is so freeggin cute?  Could it be that I'm part of Holistic Mom's and surrounded by mothers having babies?  Could it be the biological clock-a-ticking?  Maybe it's because I'm bored with my job.  Or maybe things are finally starting to get under control with the kids and I need to add another layer of challenge.

I don't know, but I need to stop craving a baby.  We have things so good right now with date nights at the brew pubs and dancing out on the town.  Plus I'm at a turning point in life and need to figure out the direction before welcoming in another member.  Like, homeschool or public school? Stay at home and homeschool the kids, or move away and enroll in Masters of Acupuncture program?  That is a major decision.  I thought for sure I wanted to homeschool, but then I was reading over my last year resolutions and my dreams of healing people through acupuncture.  Last night I started to realize that homeschool could be an 18 year commitment.  I would be home making and teaching babies until I'm over 50. Do I want to start studying acupuncture that late?  Will we be able to afford graduate school at that time?  Maybe it would be best for me to put them in public school for the first couple years while I study acupuncture and then after I graduate I can practice acupuncture part time and possibly homeschool them too?  There is so much to think about around that because we will need to move to a region with an acupuncture program.  So, for once, I am going to plan for what is best for me, the kids, and Mari.  So we live a successful future.

In the mean time I have found the perfect redirection of my mothering breeding force: we're going to raise quails!  Oh what a relief to find a healthy release of this energy.

Why Quails?
our little (messy) screened in porch
They are small, efficient at producing eggs and protein, make pretty noises, and not considered livestock.  Here is a convincing article about it.  In our county we could not legally raise chickens without more land.  But, quail should be ok.  Actually, I haven't verified that.  But I don't care!  They make pretty noises so I doubt our neighbors will be bothered.  Plus, we can keep them on the back screened in porch instead of needing to build a pen under the porch.  The porch gets attacked by stink bugs during the warm months. I hope the quails eat them up.

I already found a cage on craigslist that is perfect.  Plus the guy who is selling it also has the incubator and other equipment for hatching eggs.  I'm so stoked with anticipation of the pitter-patter of little quail feet.  The kids will love to see the babies crack through the eggs.  

Then, there is more.

I also registered Mari and I for an Intro to Beekeeping class.  It is not far from here, on Saturday mornings for 8 weeks.  The class is provided through the Beekeeping Association of Northern Virginia.  They are letting Mari and I take it together with only one registration fee, which is so cool.  So this year should be a whole new ball game in self food production.

And you know who I have to thank?  


Michelle Obama.

No, I'm serious.  as ridiculous as that sounds, she inspired me.  Last night Mari and I were watching Iron Chef America (with the holidays, I actually had a moment to veg out in front of the TV).  And they were here, in DC, filming the show.  They went to Michelle Obama's White House garden to pick ingredients for their cooking contest.  All the veggies for the show came from the White House garden, and all the meat and fish was locally and sustainably sourced. How cool is that?  Even the honey for the show came from the White House apiary.

So if the First Lady can do it then we can do it.  Yes we can!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Ode to My Family

Lately I've been revering in their uniqueness and how strong their personality traits are already.  Wondering if these traits will continue into their adult lives.  Well, here they are, my kids:

Kaio is four years old.
a lover, who will look you in the eyes and try to make you laugh, kiss you repeatedly if you are hurt until you crack a smile.  Affectionate, concerned, shares the good moments with the people he loves, likes to hug and squeeze and play in tight spaces, never takes anything seriously, loves trains, interested in how that works.   Good at puzzles, video games, spacial thinking, building with Legos.  Loves Uncle Mike and his grandma.
Doesn't like to follow directions, but likes to figure things out himself.  Stubborn, wants justice, insists on being in control.  Climber, jumper, daring, adventurous, independent, not afraid to stray from the pack.  Always ready to get up and go out for a walk or trip.  Loves riding the school bus.  Likes learning on his own terms.  Does not like to sit still. Frustrates easily but very determined and persistent. 
Afraid of masks and monsters.  Likes airplanes, helicopters, bugs.  Likes to sleep late.  Loves going to parties, but does not like being around too many strangers.  Takes a minute to get comfortable in new situations. But is friendly with new people in small doses.    
Speaks in Portuguese some of the time and understands most phrases.   
I think he'll be a rock climber activist who likes to travel.  

Nala is two years old now.
Precious.  Gentle, delicate, happy. Loves being held upside down.  Interested in music, especially drumming.  Wants to follow in the footsteps of her big bro, but more carefully calculates risk.  Very girly.  Likes dresses and princess shoes, jewelry, makeup, baby dolls, purses, shopping carts, cell phones.  Loves to draw and paint with both hands.  Clingy and loyal to her mom and select others.  Likes to dance and watch dancing.  Wakes up early. Eats everything.  loves bubble baths.  Adjusts easily to new situations and groups.  Convinces her big brother to go play with her.  Party animal.  
Asks for foot massages at bed time.  Does not like to be alone.  Stays close to mommy and follows directions and instructions.  Easy going.  Speaks in sentences in English but only has a couple words in Portuguese.  Uses words to argue when she does not want to do something.  Listens attentively to instructions, answers questions, asks questions, likes to learn.
I think she'll be a musician, artist, and good student.  

And here is for my lover

Mari is a 27 year old Accountant.
loving.  Caring, receptive, honest, trustworthy, a good listener.  Always ready to go.  Always affectionate.  Funny and light hearted.  Likes watching the History Channel and shows with commercials targeted at old men.  Likes mowing the grass, cutting wood, and making trips to the grocery store or hardware store.  Brewing beer and wine.  Interested in politics and leans Conservative.  Philosopher, debater, thinker.  Likes to relax and enjoy the day.  Works for money not for pleasure. Under achiever but dedicated to his responsibilities.  Wants to sail, ride motorcycles, travel to exotic places, live off the grid, learn more languages.  Likes reggae music, international music, dub, alternative, singing karaoke, cooking and grilling.  Doesn't like to clean.  Need to be prompted to do chores, etc.  
I think Mari will be a teacher, brew master, entrepreneur or business partner in some new thing

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