Spring, which is usually my busiest time with workshops, was very quiet.  A huge bummer financially, of course, but in the infinite wisdom of the universe it provided me the time I needed to move out of our house near San Francisco after 14 years (we moved in when Tommy was two weeks old). Here I am with Ileana, who helped enormously, as I packed the last of our things while a driver was waiting outside to take me to the airport.
 I imagine many of you have already had the experience of downsizing.  Man, we accumulated a lot in those 14 years !!
I sorted, sold stuff, gave away much more and thought three weeks would be plenty of time to do the move. Even on our last day I took stock and thought - ok, this is doable.   But, at the end of the day I gave up. It took another trip down - working all day every day for another week to finally move to our own little spot in Santa Ana. It's only three rooms, no kitchen, and we wash our dishes in the pila outside, just like so many other Guatemalans.  But no more rent, right in time for when I couldn't really afford that rent anymore anyway!  

Ceci moved back to Antigua in October with her son Nicola.  We are so happy she is back and will be able to work with us again!!  Homeschooling Tommy was not going so well in November, so I asked her to come and tutor him daily.
 Tommy worked much better with her than with me (surprise surprise) and he is great with kids.  She brought Nicola with her to our new house. Click here to see
... so fun !! 

Edith, too, is still in Antigua with her children.  She works full time as a receptionist for an immigration office just a block from the park, and we see her quite often.  She is having surgery next week ... gall stones removed.  I wish i had more pictures for you !! There are plenty on their facebook pages .. and I promise to do a better job with images in the coming year.  
Big news on the Lidia and family front - Sindy had a baby girl this November !!  Otra tejedora (another weaver) for the family.  She's healthy and happy and doing well.  Jacqueline is still in school studying cooking and has one year remaining.  She continues to love it and did her practica at the Hotel Santo Domingo - quite fancy !!  The family gets some financial help from one of our participants, David Forgay, for schooling but could use a little more ... if anyone is so inclined, please let me know.
Dona Filo and her family of 10 children and numrous grandchildren are also well, although Dona Filo does have surgery coming up, possibly this month, and she's nervous about it.  She needs to go into the city public hospital (Roosevelt) for it - which is scarier than if she could afford a private hospital.  The smaller hospitals in Antigua don't have the equipment needed for her surgery.   Please keep her in your prayers.  
(Filo and daughter Irma and Tommy selling our trinkets for 2 Q each from the back 
 of her house).
I got together with Calixta in December and she is trying to self publish her master's thesis as a book.  Work is slow for her, as it is for all of us (she usually finds contract work as a social worker). Everybody is scrambling financially.  It seems the people I've employed are all single mothers (like me) and I learn from them every time I am in Guatemala.  Ceci, Edith and Dona Filo meet the challenges of loving and providing for their children without outside support with much more grace and humor than I seem to possess.  If I had it to do over again, I'd have raised my kids in Guatemala. Kinder, gentler, less stress and all the kids seem happier, more connected to each other and their community.    

A highlight of 2013 is that Jessenia graduated high school.  That event is milestone marker for any student, but it definitely took more of a concentrated effort to get my special ed girl through our educational system.  She loved her high school, but it's a relief for both of us to be done !!  She is happier now and, to be honest, much more pleasant to live with.
We called Flori her birthmom, who is very proud of Jessenia.  She is the first in the family to study past 3rd grade, let alone graduate high school.  We celebrated
 with a grand, well attended open house and somehow it managed to take my focus for the entire spring.  Jessenia is attending a transition program for special ed kids this year and plans to study floral design in the fall.  
My hope is this will free me up to pay more attention to Tommy and his education, or so far, lack of education.  Minneapolis public schools has been a disaster for him and my top priority now is to find a good place for him for high school, and help him hang on to his kindness and good heart (which feels like it is slipping with teen age male rage hormones). He is still passionate about soccer, hockey and carrying in processions.  He spent time in November volunteering at a school near Antigua through Ninos de Guatemala.  He loved it and they loved him.  The kids are sweet, respectful, positive, well behaved and motivated to learn.  What a change from his Minneapolis school friends!! They asked if he could return in January for start of the Guatemalan school year, and possibly put together a soccer program for the kids.  I did mention that he's only 14 yrs old and supposed to be in school.. but added, yes, he'll be back.

 So, not too much info regarding business. We held our July Sequel Weaving trip with Karen Searle with a wonderful group of people.  This is my favorite part!  Sharing Guatemala and my friends with people interested in learning about and experiencing new cultures.  Here's participant Sue Grodberg when we visited Magna this July in Santo Domingo Xenago.  

I hear from many of you that you'd like to return to Guatemala but haven't found the right workshop or opportunity.  Our old familiar workshops are not filling the way they used to.  So please let me know what new ideas would bring you back to Guatemala.  I'm offering the Mayan New Year (Wajshakib 'Batz) in Momostenango again in May.  It is a very cool experience .. think about it.  

And, I know, I know, Cuba and Ecuador.  Moving houses in Antigua was big.  Now I need to sell my house of 20 years in Minneapolis and downsize here, too. I need a clear brain to tackle a new location... and that just hasn't happened yet.  Hope this isn't too long, but so many people to report on !!  I do love the community I created with this business.   
 We think of you all fondly and send our best regards and warm thoughts to all of you who have joined us, and become friends, over these past 19 years. 

May 2014 bring us all more happiness, love, health, work and money (quote from ceci) 
 Abrazos fuertes de Liza, Jessenia, Tommy, Ceci, Edith, Dona Filo, Lidia, Calixta 
and all the rest of our friends in Antigua ....