February 20, 2015

Can you spot....

the newly minted 7 year old?   Hard to believe it's been so long since the little guy arrived on that snowy February evening in Reykjavik.  Even harder to believe is that it has been nearly 7 years since we left Iceland...yet the LG to this day still considers his time in Iceland to be a huge part of his life.  So much so that he will happily announce to his friends, "Yo soy de Islandia!"  

IMG_0681

In order to properly celebrate, we headed towards cooler weather for the weekend. Sweaters, and even jackets are welcome for the next few days, while we enjoy a brief respite from the drier weather of Managua, and celebrate the fact that the Little Guy is...well, no longer quite so little...

 

IMG_0679_2

 

 

February 06, 2015

And that's all she wrote

About *that.*. You know...that of which I no longer speak as that would take me back to a time of fear, uncertainty and confusion. Today was my final doctor's appointment with the surgeon. I had the 'gram earlier this week (all clear), a follow-up MRI yesterday (also all clear), and was given the blessing to have only annual screenings from here on out vs. diagnostic exams.

It's been a long, weird, stressful and scarring almost 5 year journey that has been winding down for the past two years and I'm finally, with the surgeon's hearty "Congratulations," this morning, going to consider over. I know I will always have to be *aware* (how I loathe that term)...but at least I'm can feel relief in my quiet awareness.

Thank you to everyone who has been there for me...and God forbid anyone else go through this nightmare, I will gladly be there for you...

For now? Off to get Cait, visit her first-choice college and wrap up our visit to the States...and return to our blissfully normal lives in Nicaragua...

January 03, 2015

Christmas 2014

was a laidback and casual affair for the most part in our household.  We did have a bit of rushing around on Christmas Eve (had to pick up the smoked ham that had been sent from the BBQ place near San Juan del Sur), but by dinner time things were a bit more relaxed.  We had a lovely smoked chicken, and our empleada prepared the side dishes.  We still had a lot of prep work for the next day, so as soon as dinner was cleaned up, Kelsey started in on the cookies.

 

IMG_0381
Kelsey is our resident baker, and her sugar cookies have no competition.

A quick note to Santa and both kids were off to bed....

IMG_0382

though I think one fell asleep much faster than the other.

  IMG_0383

Having already slept in quite a bit, so I could get coffee AND breakfast going,  Nick could not wait for his sisters to wake up the next morning to get that brief glimpse at the tree.  Given that he would otherwise not be able to go into that half of the house, I thought a little peek wouldn't hurt...

 

 

The girls were soon up and ready for presents.  The gift opening always goes quickly, but we  try to get as many photos as possible to share with those who couldn't be with us...here are a few:

IMG_0393

A kickball from Aunt Amanda was a very happy surprise...

 

IMG_0397

as was the Lego idea book from Grandpa & Dibby!

 

IMG_0395

Kelsey was thrilled to find (among other things) baking supplies  under the tree,  cake decorating lessons from a friend in Managua, and

IMG_0401a Gryffindor scarf, courtsey of Grandpa Steve & Nonni!

Cait was pleasantly surprised by her new camera, as well as several movies and art supplies. Perhaps the biggest gift was opened at "Second Christmas."  Second Christmas is quite popular in the FS, and in my thoughts, underappreciated.  Yes, it's nice when everything arrives at once...however, given the tree will be up until the Epiphany, a few late parcels can extend the Christmas joy a bit.  In fact, there are rumors we might have a third Christmas this Monday...

  IMG_0416

Yes, rather extravagant, but she has to have one for school. Her old laptop is MY old laptop and is dying a slow death. She had no idea this might be coming, so whether it was on Christmas Day or Second Christmas, it was a most exciting gift.  Many thanks to Santa Shannon for ensuring its safe arrival!

And there you have Christmas 2014 in a nutshell.  Perhaps the best part, besides being able to share dinner with friends or hopping in the pool if we felt like it (though I DO miss the cold and snow!):  how truly grateful the kids were for each and every gift.  Nicholas savored opening each gift and thanked us (or the giver) profusely after he finished opening each one and the girls were equally as grateful.  Thanks to all who contributed to our holidays through cards, treats or emails, and here's hoping yours were just as relaxing and happy.

 

 

December 22, 2014

La Chureca

10878964_10205498141203050_611168044_o
Peter assisting with the pinata....

Yesterday, we had an opportunity to participate in a family service project. I have been trying to find one for a long time, and bounced many ideas back and forth.  My office ended up coming up with a perfect one that would allow many folks to participate, and given that it is with a long-standing organization, we will be able to continue volunteering while we are here, and supporting financially once we are gone.  

FullSizeRender
A very focused Kelsey passing out pizza...

This is not to say there are not many other worthy organizations here, as there are and we already have another group lined up to receive our support this year.  However, there has to be a starting point, and that was yesterday with the children who are assisted by the organization, Pure Heart Children's Fund, which is run by a local couple, Dean and Winnie Peters.  The organization exists to help feed and educate the children of La Chureca (the Managua city dump). While improvements have been made recently to the area to include relocation, there is still assistance needed, particularly for the children.

Saturday was a Christmas party for over 200 children (200 were anticipated, likely many more attended).  It was a crazy fun afternoon of pinatas, lunch and milk (donations from our families), and donated toys and school supplies given out at the end.  In fact, we weren't sure we would have enough, but between the toys that others brought and the toys and supplies we had, there were plenty of leftovers that could be donated to the preschool the Peters are running to assist those living near La Chureca.


In addition to the preschool, the Peters assist with daily feedings for the children.  They feed the children Monday-Friday, and truly give their hearts and souls to this project.  We truly enjoyed our time on Saturday, meeting the children, watching them dance and play, and plan on ensuring that helping out Pure Heart is an integral part of our time here in Managua.

 

November 30, 2014

Our First 5K in Managua

IMG_20141130_065204
Before.....


or 2.64 miles according to Pete's GPS, but if the shirt says 5K, I'm fine with that. Yes, today we *ran* our first  5K here.  I'm not sure when Pete last ran one, but my official recent race (not counting the umpteenth times I've finished the C25K), was  in late 2011.  Sigh.

I've been meaning to sign up for one here, if nothing else as motivation, but I end up not necessarily hearing about them until too late (as in, I need 9 weeks notice to do another C25K) or we are out of town, have an activity, the list goes on.  Finally, I heard about one the past few weeks, and there was going to be a team from the embassy.  I thought about it, forgot about it, remembered, and finally said, "To heck with it, I'm doing it," even if doing it means walking quickly for a bit.  

I'd dillydallied so much that we missed the online sign-up, but the website assured us because it was a free run, that didn't matter. Sure enough, to their credit, it was amazingly easy. We signed up with our names and ages and received our free, very fitted t-shirt, and we promptly switched out our shirts for those.  I was even given in a compliment in said shirt, so a good day right there. 

After a bit of chatting and a few warm-up exercises, we were off!  I had no idea of the route, and was pleased to see since the roads were not completely blocked off, that the police were directing traffic. Part of the path had us running in one lane, while traffic was in the next, however, the cars were mindful and the route was one I would never normally get to run.  I'm hoping a future race will go along the same route, as I'd love to take photos.  We ran just along one side of Laguna de Tiscapa, and could view the statue of Sandino as we trudged  flew along.  The air was clear, no dust, and the heat was not yet too much (generally anything past 8 a.m. can be a wee bit hot...doable, but very, very hot).

I'm not sure of my exact time, as I left Pete in the dust (if you will) about halfway through.  I did a rough calculation and fairly sure that of the 2.64 miles, I ran at least two miles, if not a bit more.  Not going to win me a medal, I know, but a good workout, and we both remembered that 5Ks (especially early a.m.) can be fun!  I was a bit nervous about the whole thing since my latest C25K went a bit wonky a few weeks ago, but this morning put me back on track...now just to find our next race (and maybe I will actually time myself in that one...).

 

IMG_0253
After...early brunch at Pepe Morin. We earned it!

November 18, 2014

Somoto Canyon, Revisited

You know when you have those places that just get to you...you visit them and they somehow just sort of take hold of you?  Somoto Canyon has become that place for our family. If you remember Nick's thoughts from a few months ago, I think it's safe to say it made quite an impression on all of us.


IMG_0160
Last weekend, we had our second annual trip to the canyon.  We used the same tour guides from last year (of course!), and while our family knew what to expect, it was still a new adventure.  We started the day before the crack of dawn at the embassy, and slept most of the way to Somoto.  We arrived by 9:30 a.m., knowing the drill and ready and raring to go.  Once the group was assembled, our cadre of 5 guides plus rode with us to the drop-off point.

IMG_0161 

We had the same hike through the woods to the water, with the amazing views of the water and into Honduras.  Unlike last year, I did manage to lose a third of a toenail on the hike, but worth it for the overall experience.  Within an hour after starting, we were lowering ourselves into the (sometimes) raging rapids for the first time.  The water was much higher this year, giving us faster rides at times, but also a very pleasant and lengthier floating experience mid-canyon.

IMG_0164
His dismay at the paparraza managing to find him in the canyon


We floated, crawled, hugged the walls of slippery rock, swam, and jumped our way down the canyon.  I can't say there weren't a few moments when I didn't feel a wee bit nervous.  There were several times when I felt like the ledges were somehow narrower than last year, or just nearly non-existent.

Finally, at one point, I started to get a bit nervous. There was next to no toehold on one ledge. I had a guide nearby, but he was hanging on next to nothing, and so was I.  Suddenly I looked at the wall, and realized this was one of life's defining moments:  nothing mattered except what I did in the next few moments.  No papers at work, no bills, no worries about anything else...my entire job was simply to hug the side of the canyon and know that my grip on the wall and the tenuous grip of my Tevas (which seemed so much more slippery than my falling apart shoes last year) on the one-inch toehold would magically keep me going. 

It did...and I realized I need to remember that.  When everything feels like it's falling apart, I need to remember the feeling of hugging a canyon wall and realizing that my life really is in my own hands and that it all will be okay.  More to the point, the feeling of traversing the entire canyon and making it through relatively unscathed.  Or more satisfying? Watching my kids traverse the canyon, jump, freeze, cling to walls, be carefully slung over the back of the ever-watchful guides when the rapids are too much for their little legs, and after walking several kilometers through all kinds of terrain, hearing them say again and again, "When we come back here next year..."  And maybe next year, Cait will finally make it? (To her credit, she really gave it a lot of though this year...)

IMG_0165
And we will go back next year...Somoto has taken root in our hearts and just won't let go.  To Brian, Francisco, Franklin, Henry and the rest of our guides and hosts, thank you.  You have twice now given us such an amazing experience and we can't wait for the next adventure...(more photos coming soon...)

 

 

November 03, 2014

Halloween

is one of our favorite holidays, even when overseas. Some might think it's not widely celebrated overseas, but every post we have been at has had enjoyed festivities involving the embassy and local expat community.  It's no exception in Managua, and given that my office runs the Halloween party, we are as involved as we can be.  Due to not wanting to overlap with our school's fall festival, the Halloween celebration took place the last Saturday in October.  

My one despair?  Due to the fact that I was helping to run the Trunk or Treat, Halloween dinner & party, and Haunted House, I didn't actually get to take many photos.  Nick volunteered to decorate the car as Peter was busy doing security stuff, I was working on the party, and the girls were prepping the haunted house.

 

IMG_0064

It's much scarier with a bit of darkness, the strobe light, and the creepy haunted house music.

We ended up having not quite as many folks as last year (logistically a bit easier), but every one of the 160 plus guests enjoyed many handouts at the trunk or treat (until the rain interfered), a catered dinner (with so much leftover that we were able to feed staff that had to work that night), and an amazing haunted house.

I tasked my teen, a few of her friends, and a few adults  with pulling off a creepy, yet original haunted house and they nailed it.  I was the test subject, and nearly had the pants scared off me. I hear they are already plotting next year's theme....

IMG_0063

I'm not actually sure this is considered a costume for Nick anymore, as it's pretty much his everyday wear.  It worked for the evening, though.  Oh, and check out Alan Grant (the paleontologist from Jurassic Park).  If we'd had time for a costume contest, Cait might definitely have won most original.

Now to plan next year's event.....

 

October 14, 2014

Sulphur gets in your eyes

when you climb too close to the edge of a volcano. As you may recall, the family visited Volcan Masaya nearly a year ago in an attempt to get a few cool volcano pics. Unfortunately, we didn't get a chance to really hike around too much.

Since Peter and I had the day off today, and the kids rightfully went to school, we headed out towards Masaya to hike a wee bit.  Okay, a lot a bit. We've got a walking competition going on at work, I've got my fitbit, and I figured hiking around a volcano has got to add a few steps, right?  Well, minus the steps you lose when you slide a bit on little, slippery volcano rocks.

IMG_0019
We actually tried to get a guide this time, but none were available at the visitor center.  We had no desire to wait an hour and really didn't need one, so headed out to the crater by car.  We parked our lone automobile in the lot, and found a map, albeit slightly confusing.  We quickly found a trail to our left comprised of lots of lava rock and large logs that made a meandering staircase up the hill. This led us to a second trail which was a part of the San Fernando Crater and Trail. 

IMG_0024
We wandered a bit to the left of the  crater, which somehow had us start to head back down to the parking area (yes, we probably would have turned around eventually, but...).  We went back the way we came and then headed up a slowly steepening incline.  We reached a midpoint, where a park ranger stood nearby relaxing under a tree, and we realized we had a panoramic view of the San Fernando crater (now dormant).  It was a lush, green, untouched jungle paradise.  

IMG_0025
Can you see those people way, way up there?  This is actually quite high up already, so we opted to finish the rest of the trail another day.


Despite our desire to climb even further, we realized we still had to tackle lunch in Granada, as well as a trip to a local leather shop, Soy Nica (they handcraft the items in the back of the store). I'll admit, I was also a teeeeny bit nervous. You know when you are a wee bit high in the air, there are no guardrails, and everything is at your own risk and so you decide maybe not to climb the highest hill? That was today.  I felt a bit wimpish seeing a gaggle of folks hanging at the top, but figured we still have plenty of time here so we can tackle that another day...

IMG_0020
We hoped to finish our hike with a trip up the steps to the Cruz de Bobadilla, but sadly the area is still closed off due to fears of a landslide.  We don't want to tempt that fate, of course, so took one last view of the surrounding area, and then found ourselves leaving the park and headed to the lovely town that is Granada....

And just as this blog post was in process, a 7.4 earthquake hit the coast of El Salvador which is not so very far away.  That shake back in April? It was bad, but this was much worse...felt like two earthquakes combined, with the second part being so strong I was sure we were going to lose a major appliance or two.  It woke up Nick, ensured the girls won't sleep tonight, and the poor dog nearly had a heart attack.  No word yet on damages in the area...at least we had a lovely day?

 

September 25, 2014

Rum-tastic

A few weeks ago we had the opportunity (at long last) to visit the Flor de Caña factory in Chichigalpa. In my mind, it was a much longer drive, but the reality is that even with traffic, we are a mere two hours from a rum-lover's paradise.  Now, if you know me, rum is not exactly my cup of tea.I tend to enjoy craft beers and wine more than a swallow of rum and realize why after taking the tour yesterday: it's likely just not sweet enough for me.

My office organized the trip (shocking, I know) and we headed out early on the 6th of September.  Peter and I figured the kids would not be too keen on the trip, so they stayed home to hang with friends and our empleada.  While we initially hit a tiny bit of traffic, we soon scooted past trouble spots and hit hit the open road.  Two hours later, after only one wrong turn (well, going a bit too far, but got a nice tour of Chichigalpa when we did), we ended up at the factory.

Now, when one arrives at Flor de Caña (I'm not going to try to give directions, easier just to hire a driver and enjoy the ride), there is a door that is labeled "tour."  That is actually your second stop, as you have to stop at the second entrance, the ticket booth, first, and then backtrack to the actual tour entrance. Oh, and regardless of how many people you have, one person can buy tickets for all. This is much easier than dragging everyone off the bus to pay individually.

Once we arrived at the tour door with our tickets in hand, we were led inside to a generous parking area. We were advised to stop at the restrooms first (the tour is 1.5 hours and the grounds are spacious, but no facilities), and then walked over to the engine for the first talk.

IMG_7513
Now, I'm going to gloss over a bit, so should gentle readers choose to visit us and go on the tour, they won't feel as though they've heard it all before (and they will get to properly sample 18 year rum!). Once we were finished with the introduction, we were loaded into a mini electric tram.  The company as a whole works to conserve energy where they can, and in fact, the energy they create from the sugar cane processing is enough to fuel the distillery and the sugar factory.

We were shuttled over to our first stop where we watched a short film about the birth of the company.  There were no questions after the film, so we then immediately headed to our next stop:  our first tasting.  I would have loved to take photos of the whole process and the interior of the tasting room, but not allowed for obvious reasons.  

The glasses were already filled when we entered the room and an expert taster waited for us and then proceeded to explain patiently exactly how to taste the rum.  I wasn't sure I needed to sip, as the aroma alone was quite intoxicating.  However, after he explained how our each of our 5 senses plays a part in the enjoyment of the taste, I couldn't help but take a sip...or two.  We finished (some of us) our samples, and then had the chance to view the barrel making facility and followed it up with a tour of a bodega, or storage room filled with barrels of rum of varying ages.

IMG_7518
Our last stop was the museum and gift shop.  No photos from the first level, but this sampling, on the second floor, was fine to snap a pic or two.  We finished our trip with a few small purchases (that taste of the 18 year blend sealed the deal for Peter).

IMG_7522
We finished our day with a trip to León  for lunch.  While not identical, the architecture was reminiscent of Granada.  We found a lovely hotel, Azul, with an airy and open cafe that serves a wide variety of dishes (from gazpacho to curry) and also carries the famous Erdmann's of Ticuantepe.  

Although a longish day from the driving, the tour was very good, well-worth the money, and our stop in Leon was refreshing.  We had been wanting to visit for a while, and will definitely go back and perhaps visit Hotel Azul again. Lucy, our hostess, and her entire staff were amazing and very accomodating for our large group of visitors, which is always appreciated.

Now, I've just read Erdmann's runs home brew workshops...off to investigate that for my craft beer loving self and perhaps another field trip is in order?

September 19, 2014

Friday Fun!

Today's Friday Fun is courtesy of a foreign body stubbornly inserting itself in my heel and refusing to be plucked out.  A few weeks ago, I was walking around in our den and felt a sharp stab in my left heel. I assumed I had stepped on a random Lego brick, since our floor is carpeted in them, and took a look at my foot.  

Nope, no such luck. I looked, saw a large sliver of glass, grabbed my fine point (technical term?) tweezers, grabbed that bad boy out, washed my foot, put on cream and band-aid and called it a day.  Well, until a few days later when my foot still really hurt and wasn't healing as fast as I expected. The pain went up and down for a few more days and I figured since I walk on my foot each day, well, maybe it was just taking longer.  Last Sunday I decided to go for a walk and while there was a little pain, I figured I could deal with it.  Then I tried to run and I knew there was no way there wasn't something stuck (now well) inside my foot.  Walking was bad, running was awful. Felt like something was digging into my foot (well, yeah...) so cut things short, limped back home and took a good look at my foot.

Oh, and I googled "glass stuck in foot" and of course got all sorts of scary stories. I tried scraping the would with tweezers rather not so gently and...this course of action is not recommended.  By Sunday night the spot that just felt like a small bump was a bigger, redder bump and a lot more painful.  I vowed to make an appointment at the health unit on Wednesday (work and school closed Monday & Tuesday for holidays) and limped around for the next two days.

Three days later it was confirmed *something* was afoot (ha!) and I was immediately given an appointment for x-rays and a visit to the orthopedic surgeon (no joke).  The x-rays (a whopping $42, paid by debit card) were easy, and 40 minutes later I was in the surgeon's office.  Nothing showed on the x-ray, but a little painful pushing on my foot and he confirmed a "foreign body" of sorts was in my foot. They made my appointment for "foreign body removal," refused to charge me until after the procedure, and I left the hospital and went back to work.  Two hours and I'd managed to have x-rays, a thorough consultation, and the commute to and from the hospital.  Not bad!

Today I dragged Pete along figuring I prolly wouldn't want to drive home and for that whole moral support thing.  Within an hour, I had my foot properly cleaned (slightly unnerving part: I had to lay on my stomach for the procedure....at least I could grip the table tightly when he was moving the needle all around the bottom of my foot?), anesthetized, the "bump" cut open, offending piece of glass removed, insided scraped VERY clean,  had it stitched up with lovely red thread, bandaged, covered with a wrap and after paying $310 for the initial consulation and procedure, I was limping along on my way.  

IMG_7557
The best part? I did not kick the doctor or the nurse when he gently inserted the needle in my foot and my other leg promptly shot up in the air and remained there until he was finished.  The doctor was extremely kind and gentle, and even spoke to me in English the entire time. I could have handled it in Spanish, I realize, but when I'm even a tiny bit nervous...somehow the English helps.  The worst part really was the needle .  Of course,  I'm grateful for the needles  if he tried cutting, scraping, sewing, etc., with no anesthetic...

So, there we have it.  Apparently, I hadn't had any weird back issues or random infections requiring surgery recently, so this was my payment to the medical gods this month.  I'm still a bit limpy, but already a lot less pain.  Amazing how much pain a teeny-tiny shard of glass can cause!  

And here is my healing heel in all of its glory....enjoy while I ponder what odd medical issue I will have next month.  So, if you are ever in Managua, and need an orthopedic surgeon, I have a great one for you...actually, I have a long list of wonderful medical professionals. Wonder who I will add next month?

BlogHer '12 VOTY eBook

Get moving!

AAFSW

Fun!

Twitter

  • Follow diplomom08 on Twitter
My Photo

February 2015

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28

5 Minutes For Mom

  • WAHM/SAHM Blogs

Can you spare


  • WindButton

Find this blog at

Hop on over to

  • Expat Women—Helping Women Living Overseas

mom blogs

Subscribe in Bloglines

Blog powered by TypePad
Member since 11/2005

Sitemeter

Stats


My Other Accounts

Facebook Twitter