This Place We Call Home: Christmas Time Poetry

This Place We Call Home

place we call home Christmas time

This place we call home is
Magical,
Sparkly
Majestic
Tranquilizing

This place welcomes them
Home
Year after year
For decades
Sometimes with arms that change
Sometimes that grasp too tightly
Unsure when to let go
There to heal

This place we call home
Scented with pine, cinnamon
Melting wax
A balm redolent of family
And the essence of hard work

This place  showers all who enter
With possibility
And hope
Cleansing the exterior
Revealing
A mantra of self-confidence
And absolute belief in the power of
The mind and body
To learn
Heal
And love

This place
This mountain
This home

Welcome
Let us embrace
Nice to see you again, it cautiously whispers
I’m home

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Friday Photo-Things I Would Not Have Seen

He left in the dark this morning. I woke to dark, torrential rain, not sure what time it was. The rain thundered on the roof, and I pulled the covers up. A winter Saturday, and for the first time in 12 years I was not in Tahoe for opening day of the ski racing season. My broken boy quietly slept in his downstairs room, arms flung out to the side. 600 miles away, my college girl prepares for her own ski day, without us. I lit a candle, grabbed my journal, and started wondering about what I was missing.

I grew restless as soon as the light crept through the window. I pulled on my yoga pants, laced my tennies and grabbed the dog leash. Enough is enough. I needed to shake it off. I let Cola take the lead, desperate to find the message from the Universe, looking for things I would not have otherwise seen.

Raindrops on red
Raindrops on red
Palms praying
Palms praying
Message from Santa
Message from Santa

 

Black and yellow
Black and yellow
Damp ducks
Damp ducks
Running through gold
Running through gold

This life, these moments. The Universe reminds us to be present where we are. To remember the things we would not have seen.

“But the beauty is in the walking — we are betrayed by destinations.”
Gwyn Thomas

l

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Friday Photo: It’s Just Like Life

fall trees in California

It was the juxtaposition here that caught my eye; the hovering between the change of seasons, between permanence and the fleetingness of the moment. I ride by these trees every day, hurrying to school, never stopping to look up or notice.

It wasn’t until this month, when the light changed and the air cooled that I really noticed them – that I really stopped, looked up, and paused. It was the position, really, between the durability of the palm with its strong backbone, its wide, graceful fronds against the fragility of the pistache, finger-thin branches freeing themselves of vibrant red and yellow and orange debris.

It’s just like life.

One minute, we’re enduring life, riding the bumps and bruises and crests of the moment. We’re holding fast, occasionally throwing our arms up in glee, knowing that the immutability of what we know to be real is there to keep us safe. Strong. Comforted.

And right next to us, close enough to touch, a blaze is extinguished. A force at once vibrant and animated, slowly shedding its color in preparation for the next season. The next stage. To go dormant, to conserve its energy for what is yet to come. Fragile. Fleeting.

Both equally exquisite. Both equally elusive. Both equally extraordinary.

It’s just like life.

So I stopped my bike and snapped a photo.

Friday photos are a snapshot of life, a moment in time, an image that lingers. They’re my attempt at capturing the extraordinary in the ordinary – taking a pause to breathe in the moment in this wild and fleeting life.

p.s. – I think you might enjoy these Friday Photo moments from weeks gone by, when I captured a last gasp of summer, Dia de los Muertos and a harvest. Click over and take a look, and please, let me know what you think.

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Travel with mamawolfe: The Simple Life in Nicaragua

simple life in Nicaragua

There is something to be said about the simple life in Nicaragua. Every morning here starts out the same: I wake up, roll out of bed, and pad outside with my journal to listen to the morning sounds of doves cooing, roosters crowing and coffee percolating. If I closed my eyes, I could almost imagine I was home – except for climbing out of a sweaty bunk bed tangled in mosquito netting, swinging in a hammock, and the scent of burnt debris, it is eerily similar to Davis.

And that’s when reality sets in.

Traveling in Nicaragua is hard for foreigners. We’re constantly on guard to keep from eating or drinking the wrong things. We’re vigilant about drinking water to keep hydrated, spraying DEET to ward off malaria and dengue, and we sanitize like it’s going out of style.

But some of my favorite parts about traveling in Nicaragua are really the simple parts that are so very different from living in the US.

13 7 24 Nicaragua Casas Viejas 2 002 (59)

The truck rides

I absolutely love riding up the dirt road in the back of the pickup truck. The only rules? Stay seated on the pavement, hold on, and only 10 gringos in the back at once. Easy enough. I remember my terror the first time here at the thought of my children riding in back without seatbelts; I soon realized that the back of the truck was the most comfortable.

The sense of time

It does take some getting used to, this idea of Nicaraguan time. ‘Hurry up and wait’ is how we Americans seem to operate. As long as we make it safely, and everyone in the group is accounted for, time isn’t really something paid a whole lot of attention to. The only rule I’ve heard our host say is to not be driving after dark-it’s not as safe.

simple life in Nicaragua

The food

Most of our meals are prepared by a restaurant owner named Enrique. He has his own restaurant right around the corner, and we eat breakfast there every morning. Lunch and dinner are either brought to the work site (lunch) or to the Seeds of Learning compound (dinner). Simple and delicious, Nicaraguan food is a combination of savory and sweet, little salt or spice, not much dairy or cheese. The fruits are fresh, squash and corn plentiful, and nearly every meal comes with freshly made corn tortillas. The kids love the soda here – nothing artificial about it. Pure cane sugar!

Everyone worked!  There were NO power tools.
Everyone worked! There were NO power tools.

The activities

Each day here is some sort of combination of hard manual labor when building the school, connecting with the community, and working with children.

In Nicaragua we don’t use power tools or pre-made anything – we make our own mortar, cement, and rebar, and it is not unusual to see men working entire days with a pickax to remove one large boulder in the way of a new wall or foundation.

The people of Casas Viejas and Ciudad Dario couldn’t be more friendly and hospitable. We get a fair share of strange looks (19 white people walking down the street surely must look odd in these small, remote communities), and cat-calls (chellita! chellita! are the favorites), but considering the US’s checkered past with Nicaragua during the Reagan years, they really do welcome us warmly.

The children here really do seem happy with the simple life in Nicaragua. Although we bring crafts, they really enjoy coloring books, puzzles, Monopoly and chess games, Legos and playing catch. Not many kids here are plugged in or tuned out. Their favorite use of technology seems to be having their picture taken- “un photo” echoes through my ears every afternoon.

the community prepared songs and dances for our arrival
the community prepared songs and dances for our arrival

The focus on the family

Nicaraguan houses are simple and conducive to socializing with the family and their neighbors. An open door is an invitation in Nicaragua, and each evening we see families gathered on the sidewalk in front of their house, or inside their front room, having conversation and simply spending time together. Often they will draw us in, asking us questions or making friendly comments. In the rural areas, the same sense of connectedness happens with parents and kids sitting outside in the shade, in the crotch of a tree, or on a rock in their garden.

So while I admit I do look forward to a bit of air conditioning, purified tap water and a hot shower, I will certainly miss much about the simple life in Nicaragua. I guess that’s a good reason to come back.

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Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Nicaragua Packing Party

Seeds of Learning packing party

Today was our official ‘packing party’ for our trip to Ciudad Dario, Nicaragua. We leave tomorrow night! The receiving of the donations and packing of the supplies makes the trip seem so real…this is the exciting part for me!Seeds of Learning packing party

Why a packing party? Well, as part of our trip, we collect donations of school supplies, books, office supplies, crafts, and other items that are usable to the schools built by Seeds of Learning. This year, in large thanks for the interview and article published in The Davis Enterprise, our community stepped up and donated so many supplies that they filled my car AND sixteen suitcases, duffel bags, bins and boxes.

Seeds of Learning packing party

I wasn’t sure if we would fit everything, but thanks to our expert packers (and soon to be school construction workers), they managed to get each box and bag tightly packed – and no container weighed more than the 35 lb. weight limit.Seeds of Learning packing party

Let’s see… 35 lbs. each, times 16 boxes…thats 560 lbs of supplies! WOW!Seeds of Learning packing party Seeds of Learning packing party

I was astounded at the outpouring of support from our community, as well as cash donations from others living far away, that helped us gather such a huge amount of materials. Cameron packed dozens of brand new backpacks – the kids in Nicaragua will love having something new and all their own to take to school each day!

Seeds of Learning packing party

Linnea and I packed dozens of children’s books, all in Spanish. I got excited just reading the titles – I can’t wait to read them to the children in person! Many of these donations meant a lot to the owners, and we appreciate you giving up those parts of your children’s childhood to help the Nicaraguan kids with their education. I promise they will be well used and well loved for many years.

Seeds of Learning packing party

Tomorrow night, we fly out on a red eye flight from San Francisco, California to San Salvador, El Salvador – about 5 hours. After a short layover, we fly to Managua, Nicaragua-just under an hour of flying time. When we arrive in Managua we’ll be met by Seeds of Learning staff, and will drive nearly two hours to Ciudad Dario, where our adventure really begins.

Seeds of Learning

Thanks so much to all the supporters of our 2013 trip…we couldn’t do this work without you. Think good thoughts for us, and stay tuned for updates from the work site and around Nicaragua. The nineteen of us, as well as the Seeds of Learning staff and the people of Nicaragua thank you.

Adios! ¡Hasta pronto!

 

English: Territorio soberano.
Territorio soberano. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
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Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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