Beatsville is in Woodville for now. The pines, Dogwoods in bloom, the floral scented breezes and lakes all inspire. Lately my thoughts have been with the beauty that is around me, my little Walden with my little family. August picks flowers, sticks and pinecones. She throw herself down on the ground and closes her eyes. This is her Papi's home and she's feeling the roots. She's learning to recognize and walk around the ant beds, she hears the trees buzzing and tells you it's bees, she knows not to head for the water.

Here we are on the eve of April, April again. A birth month, April started it all. Our family in April, in Woodville. What was left behind is now behind me, I can imagine no other role or life. What does one really need? It's all right here.


Lent, Spring, time to make capirotada. It's been four years since I have made this simple dessert. It's a favorite, homey, comfort food. In looking up images of this dish, I found that they were all made in casserole dishes and my grandmother would do that. Perhaps inspired by all the cooking shows we watch, after some thought, I decided to try and make capirotada in a spring form cake pan. I also strayed from my grandmother's traditional recipe by topping it with almonds. She never uses nuts in her recipe. I was very happy with the results. It was the first time Jacob or August had ever tried capirotada making my efforts in presentation more than worthwhile.

Disclaimer- This is about me getting mushy about my kid

These past three months or so with August have been truly delightful. This is a word I have rarely used to describe anything until now. Delightful definitely describes all feelings and emotions accurately. She is this little person who is learning to get along in her world and it's a process I find tremendously fascinating.  I have always loved watching how children learn. On Saturday mornings, when I was eleven or twelve years old, instead of cartoons, I would watch the child development programs/documentaries on PBS.  What I learned from them has stuck with me all these years. I watch August as a mother but I also watch her as one interested in how humans learn and grow. One thing I remember so well from those old programs was how a mother's love changes a child's developing brain. Mothers are important, love is powerful.

Over the last several weeks, August has become more friendly and says hello to everyone and to many things around her like ant hills and trees. She wakes up quite happy every morning but not so chipper after napping. Her kisses, smiles and hugs are the best I have ever had and they are these tiny gifts that now fill our days. Her personality continues to evolve and become more and more complex. I thought, if only we could go back and watch ourselves taking shape, I think we'd appreciate ourselves and who we are more. 

The sandbox at the park was so scary for August. I thought it was probably the idea of a sinking ground. How uncomfortable it must be to feel like the ground beneath you may not hold you. Today she threw her beach ball into the sandbox, reached for her Papi's hand and walked into it, slowly, carefully, looking at the sand and watching her feet sink into it. She did this over and over, taking my hand or Jacob's hand. Within minutes, the fears of the sandbox had been purged. Maybe that isn't what she felt but it reminded me of a fear I had of falling through the earth. I was told if I dug deep enough I would reach China. Soon after hearing that, I had a fear of holes and cracks in the soil. I could fall all the way to China, a foreign land, away from my family and everyone I loved. Would they ever find me and rescue me again? I'd be lost forever. Eventually, fun adventures would fill my head as my imagination became less fearful of such things. 

Today we also managed to get August to try swinging on her tummy.  I was proud of her for giving it a chance. She still reaches for us when she wants to go down the slide. Going down the slide alone is a big step that she hasn't taken yet and that's just fine.  I am not quite ready for it either. Her favorite amusement is by far the merry-go-round followed by the rocking, bouncy horses, both of which scared me and made me nervous to see August ride at first but I am also becoming a bit more brave.  She went from sitting to standing on the merry-go-round.

What I have found to be most gratifying are the sudden bursts of discovery August has. Sitting at play she suddenly jumped up and came running holding the letter F from her foam floor mat and said,"This is a F". She then started pointing out other letters: J, X, B O, Y, M, N... Each time shaping her mouth in a curious way, teeth showing, jaws working in ways we had not seen until that moment and with the biggest, most proud smile ever. Then, she dragged out her alphabet book and wanted to go through it with us and pointed out B, C, P... It was a moment I will never forget, huge, and on a quiet Thursday night when I thought that our day was ending and not expecting anything.

When she loves what I make for her to eat she rewards me with a kiss. Mexican rice is her absolute favorite and then there is cactus and recently she surprised us with her love for onions. Each piece of onion brought on watery eyes, a slight grimace, and a sniffle but she kept reaching for another and another then smiled.  We have started adding a bit of pepper to her food and she didn't seem to mind the slightly spicy, guajillo chili sauce on her chicken. She loved the taquito I made her. It was the first taquito she's ever had and ate it while sitting on my lap. 

Yesterday she took the sunglasses off my head then proceeded to wipe them clean using her petticoat. She did this so smoothly, no fumbling. She then handed them back to me as if she'd done this all before, for years. When I taught her how to play the memory game I didn't know how much of it she'd grasp. I was tickled to death when she picked it up after just one lesson. Learning the game and the whole matching thing was more than enough. I have learned to expect anything and try everything. Well, I have learned to really expect anything and really, really try everything. Looking forward to board games. 

Watching August's ever increasing awareness of her world, her personality taking shape and unfolding is daily, it's constant and exciting. I also love being in touch with other mothers and their toddlers through emails, photos and blogs and learning of their experiences. When August reaches for my hand at the park, I am helping her along but she's leading me to yet another epiphany, inspiration, piece of my own childhood or simply the sweetest moment in my life to date

Where were you at 7am?

Those long seconds of thought that happen once I open my eyes in the morning, before I'm fully awake and aware took me through several years of 7am in an instant. I checked the time, tried to remember my dreams but instead was flooded with memories.

I remember 7am in Seminole, OK, returning home after dropping Jacob off at the yard, carrying a sleepy ten month old into our chilly duplex. There was 7am that first summer with August in Del Rio and doing some early morning grocery shopping with her in the sling. She was still too tiny to hold her head up on her own, sleeping so deeply. There was greeting 7am after not being able to sleep because I had pregnancy insomnia. Hearing birds chirp and feeling the sting of a sleepless night in my eyes still makes me feel a bit anxious. The 7am in Indiana was cleaning the juicer to I Love Lucy in room 19.  Once, 7am was a truck stop somewhere in the South. I can't remember the state but I do remember the guard's kiosk, the clean bathrooms and feeling surprisingly rested. The 7am in Baltimore was a walk from room 25 to the hotel breakfast area for some juice and use of the toaster. Sometimes I mingled with the hotel staff, watched the morning news with them.  We became friends after being there six weeks or so. There was 7am at the bus stop a block away from my house in Austin. I always felt the wait for the bus was too long but I appreciated the morning air and looked forward to reading on the bus for thirty minutes or so.

If I dropped in on any of these places at 7am, I don't think much would have changed. After traveling and living in different cities and small towns, adapting to my surroundings, always a bit of culture shock, I have learned that places don't miss me. They continue on and on and never pine or wonder where I am. 

The experience of these past three years has fulfilled that thought I would have while on the way to school in my small hometown. I would pass the same houses on the same streets everyday, setting out at 7am.  Who are these people in these houses? What do they do?  What were other people doing in other places I didn't even know existed? I did want to know what it would be like to live somewhere else, be someplace completely different at that very moment. How would I feel to be so far from home,  everyone a stranger? 

I eventually found out that strange places, strange faces don't remain unfamiliar if you stick around long enough. I made Austin unfamiliar pretty quickly, it was easy to do, it was nothing more than a large town, not the city it is today.  But all those places I have seen since Austin, all the 7am's I have had...it was now 7:09.