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6 posts from August 2013

August 22, 2013

Little signs...

that our house is finally feeling more like our home. Yes, I know home is where the heart is, but sometimes it's nice to have a few items that just really remind you of your family and not just Drexel Heritage.

 

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UAB or Unnacompanied Air Freight is finally delivered to our house nearly 6 weeks after it arrived in country. It actually beat us to the Managua, if you can believe that.

 

 

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I had just unpacked this when he arrived home from school. Like Christmas...no, better.

 

 

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After two months of waiting, I finally have my new tea kettle, a small moving treat.

 

 

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Hours of play...hours. Best thing we packed in the UAB.

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The cat also found a play spot.

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Stroke of genius: thinking to throw the plasma car into UAB at the last minute. Nick, riding around our extremely not-so-traveled (and gated) street. The little hill just ahead leads to the large, flat area that is our driveway (and play space).

 

 

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Last, but not least, today's DIY project: Nick's indoor playhouse. It's still in process, just needs a bit of decorating and a lamp, according to Nick.

 

 

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China gives the playhouse two non opposable thumbs up.

 

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The only thing that we discovered that had been lost yesterday. 

 

 

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Yep, another tooth. Nick lost his other bottom front tooth while at school.

And the car?  HHE (boat freight/household effects)?  Well, the car is on a boat making its way here and the HHE has been here for several weeks, so it should only be a matter of time.  Now to enjoy a cup of coffee in *my* mug....

August 19, 2013

15 years ago

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I received a late birthday gift for my 26th birthday (yet, somehow I still just turned 29...a miracle!).  Yes, my now not-so-wee Cait was born and today, gulp, she turns 15.  They say time flies, but really...

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An example of one of the many invitations available for those celebrating a 15th birthday.  If Cait were to have a quinceaƱera, I have a feeling the invites would have more of a Star Wars theme, but that's just a guess...

So, to my nearly towering over me, brilliant and insanely talented in the realm of all things artistic daughter, Happy, Happy Birthday.  May you enjoy the day despite the fact the fact that it's been a crazy summer and for the first time in your life, you have to go to school on your birthday. More people to sing feliz cumpleaƱos to you?

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The birthday girl y su hermano.

August 13, 2013

Surprise! Someone is

growing up quickly and it's making me a wee bit sad. Yes, it is my birthday today, but no it's not me.  Well, not growing up at least.

I should thank everyone first for the birthday wishes.  I ended up having a very quiet day at home, minus the incessant banging in the front hall (the former rock garden in our living room is being replaced by a tiled in area and will be a mini-study of sorts).  I was able to get in a run, take a 2 hour nap, and shower before the kids came home from school, so a fabulous day right there.

 

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Watermelon & feta salad, mushrooms & rosemary in a soy ginger vinaigrette and a carpacchio of corvino. Or yummy, as we call it.

Peter decided we should have a dinner out, so we stopped at Ola Verde.  I was even treated to dessert on the house by the owner, Carla.  My dragonfruit cheesecake arrived complete with a glowing candle and was, as is all food at Ola Verde, simply delectable.

We went straight home after dinner as Peter had something *terribly urgent* to do. I was carted off to the family room with Nick where he made several excuses as to why we should just stay there for a few minutes.  Not long after that, I was called into the dining room and surprised by cake and presents!

 

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Surprise! Cake and presents! The kids baked this while we were at dinner. Are they awesome or what? (If you are counting, yes, it's a 2 dessert birthday.)

By far, though, the biggest surprise of the evening?

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Can you see what's missing?

 

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Someone lost his first tooth.

 

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It had been loose for a few days (he was a bit, uh, perturbed when he first noticed) and he spent quite a few minutes really wiggling it tonight. Finally, after much discussion, he decided I could reach in and attempt to gently tug on it (I think the loose-ness was getting to him).  Five seconds later, and the tooth was out.

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As if it wasn't enough he started Kindergarten this week, now this.  Well, it certainly made for a birthday I won't forget and how does one write Tooth Fairy in Spanish?

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August 12, 2013

And they are off....

Well, actually, they are back now.  However, for quite a bit of time today, all three of my children just...disappeared.  Something called a school bus showed up, swallowed up my kids, and the next thing I knew, tears were springing into my eyes as I had just put my baby on the school bus.  All three babies in fact, one of whom is taking AP European History this year.  You know, the one who used to babble on and on about her father working in the "Ombassy" in "Caracalus" is now a high school sophomore.  The middle baby is starting middle school and my uber-wee one started kindergarten.

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Take one*...

Not only was the bus on time, it was, in fact, early and showed up at 6:19 (yes, A.M.).  School starts at an hour in which no one should be awake, much less in school, but this is actually a blessing in disguise as guess who else has to get up at the same exact time to get ready to go to work?  And guess who gets to sleep in on non-first days of school?

 

 

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Happy campers!

Nine hours after they left, they arrived back home.  Nick gave a quick summary of school while getting off the bus, "It was fine, okay, it was all fine!"  A very subtle way of asking me not to interrogate him about the first day I suppose.

 

All in all, things went well and the kids seemed thrilled to go.  After all, we still don't have a car, so it's go to school or stay home and pick up litter/watch tv/color/watch mom pull her hair out and you know, that kind of fun only lasts so long.  I suppose it's also a good thing that the academic year has commenced as I *may* start work soon.  I accepted the job of Co-CLO coordinator and I have oh, so many ideas and very eager to get going. 

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They said to label everything!

 Until I start, however, I have a few other things to accomplish...like labeling everything Nicholas owns that *might* go to school. Thank goodness for Mabel and her labels!

* I know, uniforms, what's up with that?!  I generally do not like them for a variety of reasons,  having worn them for some time in school.  They did not accomplish the task of putting everyone on *equal* ground when I had to wear them and I've always been thrilled my kids could be themselves in school.  However, here things appear to be different and they actually like them, so whatevs, right?

Somewhere in the Middle

is exactly where we are right now.  We are still busy exploring, albeit more on foot than in a car, since el carro just left Baltimore Thursday night (fingers crossed it will be here in a few short weeks), and I am finding myself back in that unique sort of limbo of being neither a resident nor a tourist.

I find myself walking or (even better) running around the neighborhood like I own it, but I still can get lost on the way home.  I pity the poor dogs who appear to be owner-less and worry about the scarily scrawny cats slinking through the sewer. I wonder when I will drum up the courage to head over to the comedora and get my gringo self a true Nicaraguan lunch meal that could feed an army for USD $2.

I envy those who have the grazing cows and chickens. I wonder how one is so lucky to have such a variety of fruit trees in their yard.   A trip to the the miscellania or the pulperia for an extra mango or banana is never necessary, if you have your own orchard.  We were excited to disover both naranja agria and limon in our yard (sour orange and lime), but I still find myself having a pang of jealousy when I run past the full trees, ready to drop the fruit at any moment.

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A sweet pooch making a meal out of a dried out coconut...not an uncommon sight.

Last week, we opted for a leisurely walk through the neighborhood. We have had 2 major holidays in the past 10 days and I wanted to glimpse the church that hosted the reason for the holidays, that is maybe a 1-2 miles from our house. 

While not an easy walk, as one must navigate twisty one lane roads (no sidewalks) that are occupied by everything from tuk-tuks to speeding SUVs, it is definitely an interesting one.  As I've written before, unlike other areas, our neighborhood is a mishmash of housing and life styles.  The moderno y privado condominiums are right next door to a small house of corrugated metal with chickens in the front yard and a clothes line strung from the door to the nearest tree (note to self: reminder to string up clothes line out back).

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Chickens are everywhere here. While I'd love to have a hen in a backyard coop, rather glad the roosters are a mile or more away.

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The new condominium complex...


 

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The house across the very, very narrow street.

 

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A tuk-tuk or moto-taxi racing along said street.


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The entrance to the gravery, as Nick calls it (or cemetery for everyone else). 

 

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Unlike cemeteries in the U.S., many graves appear to be more homemade. Simple crosses clearly carved by hand, and plants dot the tops of the graves rather than elaborate monuments. However, I found them to be more meaningful in that they were likely created by family and friends.

 

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Another grave with a touch of fancy glasswork...

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Las Sierritas Parish Church, where the celebration begins and ends. Well, the celebrating continues long after Minguito returns home, but...

I'd write more on the topic, but I think a better explanation of the holidays can be found here.  While there was definitely a bit of drunken revelry and other less formal celebrations happening, there is a very serious belief in the power of Santo Domingo. I have heard stories of that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.  The kind that make you want to see the celebration up close, inhale the scents and the sights and the sounds of the day.  Now if I can just find a local friend to take me next year so I can better appreciate and photograph the day...

 

August 03, 2013

Saying good-bye,

or "See you later," as we often do, is one of the hardest parts about being in the Foreign Service.  You arrive at post, meet many new folks, start to make new friends, and then within days or weeks, it's already time for one of your new amigos to leave post. Sadly, this is happening to us today.  Two new friends are leaving post and we can only hope that my incessant chattering about FS life (and how to find everything you need to know about FS life via a Google search) repaid a wee bit of the kindness they showed to us in our first few weeks.

They not only showed us Granada two weekends ago (how time flies), but one of them managed to carve out a great deal of time during the weekdays, despite her impending move, in order to show us around Managua.  Last Thursday afternoon, she took Nicholas, Kelsey, and I on a whirlwind tour of downtown Managua, to include Parque Historico Nacional Loma de Tiscapa. 

Now, remember as  you read that we are so very new to the area.  While we are trying to get out and about quickly, we are also attempting to settle in and learn as much as possible about our new home.  So, I may not include as many details as I should in these first few posts, only as I am still learning and gathering information. For instance, our first stop on our downtown area was an emergency bathroom stop.

I don't necessarily recommend trying to randomly find a public toilet downtown or at least along the shoreline of Lake Managua.  Easy to locate, it was not!  We eventually found a bar/restaurant that was not open, but had a restroom.  The lone occupant lounging at a table did not mind us borrowing the restrooms, but not sure that will always be an option.

We attempted to drive further up the shoreline, as we heard there was a boardwalk.  It's entirely possible we were already on the boardwalk and didn't know it.  We simply found a bunch of restaurants and bars that were open-ish.  There appeared to be a fairgrounds, and beyond that what *looked like* a water park.  Unfortunately, there was a fee to drive into the park and no information given out about what was actually there.  So, we made a quick u-turn and vowed to investigate online before returning to the possible water park.

Our first real touristy stop was the old cathedral of Managua. An imposing stone edifice that sadly cannot be toured by anyone other than the guards who quietly watch it from inside.  The 1931 earthquake damaged it greatly, and while it was repaired, the 1972 earthquake just about destroyed it completely.  While it is still standing, it is not safe to be toured. I have heard conflicting reports about whether it can or will be repaired, so only time will tell. 

 

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There are rumors of very wealthy couples being able to utilize the cathedral for wedding ceremonies. However, due to it's precarious state, one must follow along a certain path or risk further damage or injury.

 


The old cathedral is located in the Plaza de la Republica, near the Palacio Nacional de la Cultura that houses the Museo Nacional.  We opted to save this for another day, and after ambling around the plaza a bit more, the LG offered a rare photo op.

 

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The LG allows a photo at the War Memorial.

Our tour guide of the day then offered that we might like to visit Loma de Tiscapa.  This was maybe a 1o minute ride, including a windy road up to the top of the elevation (note: it runs 20 cordobas to enter the park).  Up, up, up we went, past a military complex on our left and amazingly colorful playgrounds to our right.  While they are not the fancy-pants playgrounds of the U.S. (slides are metal! Swings are made of wood!) they seem to satisfy those who stop to play. In fact, we had every intention of partaking in the fun, but the kids, well, all of us, were a wee bit hot, tired, and parched by the time we were leaving Tiscapa.

 

 

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That's lake Managua in the distance...

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This is the canopy or where one starts his or her zip line tour over the Tiscapa Lagoon. It goes off to the right for what seems to be an insanely long distance. My stomach hurts just looking at it... maybe next year? Oh, did I mention you can also do the zip line upside down?

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The Tiscapa Lagoon. It really is amazing to view it from the Canopy (beginning of zip line tour).

 

 

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The shadowy monument to Augusto C. Sandino, a hero to many, who was assassinated here in 1934.

 

We also visited the (very few) remains of the former presidential palace.  It was also seriously damaged in the earthquake of 1931 and destroyed by the 1972 quake.  A few walls remain just a few meters from the zip line entrance.  There are also remains of a former prison just a few steps away.  Apparently, "going to Loma" didn't always have the same meaning it might have today. 

The last task of our day was to attempt to feed Nick's leftover hot dog bun to a stray dog hunting around ceramic pots in the parking lot.  Yes, I realize a hot dog bun may not be the healthiest choice, however, the kids were so upset to see yet another starving pooch looking for anything to eat.  We see so many on a daily basis and it's just heartbreaking.  In our case, it may be wallet breaking, as Nick gave me yet another lecture the other day on "dogs with no owners" and how we need to feed them, take care of them...and he always manages to say this when I have just glimpsed from meters away, the ribs of yet another hungry puppy. Not every one appears to be on his or her own, but just so many of them have that appearance.  Another topic we need to learn more about and we certainly have the time.