Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Introducing a New Blog (for the nondescrimating reader....Grandma)

Part of homeschooling is having Wes starting his own blog that he'll be posting to regularly.

  • Creation
  • Keyboarding skills
  • Writing (convention) skills
  • Reflection (okay, this is stretch goal!)
It's been fun for me to see what he comes up!

Read his deep thoughts at https://weswrite.blogspot.com/.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Lessons I Learned: Family Travel

1.               We really can easily travel with carry-on only.  Each of us had a rolling suitcase and a backpack, and if anything, we still brought too much.
2.               Cookie o’clock makes good times better and turns around bad moods. 
3.               When you feel surrounded by too much rich (digestively and financially) food, making a PB & honey sandwich for lunch really hits the spot.
4.               Washing clothes in a sink and hanging it out in the tropical heat is an easy way to keep up on laundry and pack less.  I brought a bag of powdered detergent this time, but only because the detergent strips I had ordered hadn’t arrived in time because of the snow.
5.               The whole family appreciated the First Aid kit I brought, but Piper, especially, was in bad shape after I forgot to pack a sunburn ointment. (Note to self:  First Aid kit items listed below.)
6.               Just bring microwavable popcorn, packets of instant oatmeal, gum, and granola/protein bars.  Oh, and tea bags.  I love having my favorite teas available to me.  One of the hotels we were at had expensive and unwelcome options for kids’ dinners and we just need an easy alternative.
7.               Have appropriate cash for tips—lots of tips.  Make people happy to assist you, especially when you are at a language and cultural disadvantage.
8.               Headphones for everyone—cheap is okay, if you are just trying to use them on the plane.
9.               Everyone gets a small-ish laundry bag to carry their own dirty clothes in. One of them should be a waterproof bag. This is for the wet swimsuits that haven’t dried by the time you need to travel, and to be used as a plug if a sink doesn’t have its own stopper.
10.            Figure out a way to sleep better on the plane.  I hate the idea of packing neck pillows to drag about the world, but I may have to better prioritize sleeping, especially when trying to hold a child or two while they try to sleep.  
11.            Always carry water bottles—spill proof preferred.
12.            Figure out ways of at least starting a long journey with healthy food, especially veggies.  
13.            Avoid American Air when possible.  
14.            Have just one person (in our family, Dwayne) always in charge of the all the papers and passports.  I’m not responsible enough and can be generally careless and distractible, so putting the passports back safely in the same spot is something I mean to do, but Dwayne actually does

First Aid Kit packing list:
  • Band-Aids, assorted sizes
  • Antibacterial cream
  • Sunscreen
  • Aloe Vera, or sunburn ointment
  • Insect repellent, spray and wipes
  • Anti-itch cream
  • Insect sting relief
  • Chewable Pepto-Bismal
  • Chewable Children’s Tylenol
  • Handwipes
  • Alcohol wipes
  • Asthma inhalers
  • Vomit bag (didn’t need it, but there were a few legs I was glad it was there if I needed it)
  • Infant nose bulb—handy for so many things!

So quoted

I was at the State of the District breakfast this morning, and our superintendent put this quotation up.
 You can choose courage, you can choose comfort, but you cannot choose both.
Why is it encouraging to be reminding choosing the right thing is difficult?  That would take more depth than I have, but it fits my life right now as I prepare to home school Wes for the rest of the school year.  

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

A Final Good-Bye to Costa Rica

I only did this the last two mornings, but getting up at 6am with the sun was the perfect time of day! If I wasn't such a night owl, I would love to embrace the quiet mornings that are still the perfect temperature.

This doesn't look like an ordinary hotel.  And it's not. Here, the sun is rising on the main part of the hotel, where the office and primary restaurant are located.  See how private each "villa" is?

Piper is definitely my morning buddy!

The girls somehow got away with fruit, fruit, fruit, and chocolate cake for breakfast. (Wesley had a bacon omelet every single day. Sadly for him, he does not care for tropical fruit.)

We couldn't decide if they made the bread-iguana every morning (no one ever dared be the first to eat it), but the iguana and turtle joined the pastry table every morning!


Good-bye, Costa Rica!

Monday, February 25, 2019

Pura Vida: Don Ramirez

Reading a thesis on differentiating lifestyles by SEC (wealthy, middle class, poverty-level) several years ago, I took a "quiz" about which category I was most comfortable in.  [Knowing which were the best places on which days for food free meals or services was something that I couldn't check on the poverty quiz, but knowing how to get a library card and file paperwork with insurance companies landed me in middle class lifestyle.]  The only question I remember from the Wealthy check list is having a favorite restaurant in another country.  

Well, we're extraordinarily wealthy, because Dwayne and I "discovered" Miguel's Don Ramirez on our third night in Punta Islita.

First, we spent one day not knowing there was a tiny little town within walking distance of the hotel.  Then we spent another day thinking that there was only one restaurant in that little town (because I was pretty sure that the girls and I had walked the entire town by turning left at the only corner in town and walking up to the church).  But poolside gossip said that if you went past the grocery store, and up that street (that was a street?!?!), and kept going long past where you think you'd ever find a restaurant, you would come to the best little place at the end of the world.

There we found Miguel, who had converted part of his house into a bar and restaurant.

The Heavens sang.  And we ate there every night he was open until we left, so 3 out of the 4 days until our Tuesday morning departure.

First, it cannot be overstated the pleasure of eating outside (because no CR restaurant wastes space with indoor seating) after a screamingly hot day in a warm night with bright, bright stars above.  The kids aren't confined to hard tables for a two hour meal, and Piper quickly found a friend.

Dwayne found a cocktail (or two!) he liked, and I had the best sangria of my life.  And in the best fashion of lemoncello in Italy, Miguel always brought out a shot of his own making at the end of the evening, after the bill had been settled. Cheers!

Miguel's enthusiasm for food and people was contagious, and even though we knew we were going to start with one of each of his 6 small plates (unique each night), we still loved to hear him describe them.  On Sunday, his brother was there to make his lovely, lovely chicken, named after the sibling himself.  We toasted him through the open window to the stove top.

It was foodie, local, fresh, delicious, unique, thoughtfully and aesthetically prepared, and less expensive than the stuffy meal at the hotel restaurant.  It's actually a spot I can imagine taking everyone I love to spend time with there and making the experience twice as wonderful.  

And since Miguel and his wife had 3 of their own children, he straight up asked Wesley if he wanted a bowl of noodles instead of anything on the menu.  Yep, even the kids adored this place!

While I just assume we won't make it back to Costa Rica because there are so many other places to see, this little spot would be a reason to tempt me to revisit this little part of Central America. 

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Pura Vida: horseback riding

The hotel offered quite the menu of complementary activities, and I think by the time we left, we had done them all.  Horseback riding we did twice.

It was about an hour ride, and it was a treat to run into Howler and white-face capuchin monkeys early in our first run.  The guide said seeing either was not uncommon (and Howlers, as we experienced, are really easy to find as you just have to listen for a while), but seeing them in the same trees is unusual.  

We rode through a mango grove, skirted near the macaw reserve, saw cashew trees, and plodded past cattle.  To saw it was scenic understates the experience, and to have the horse do the hiking for me did not go underappreciated.  

Piper really enjoyed her first horse, Raphael.  He was ass-stubborn and liked to go his own way.  He was also a beauty, and not terribly dissimilar to Piper in any important way.  
Eventually, we made our way down to the beach and laughed at how each horse approached or shied away from the water.  The stable didn't really produce many swimmers!

When we went a second time, Wesley and Kyla elected to stay behind.  There was no way Piper was going to miss another chance at riding.  But even that glow was quickly replaced when we got back to the barn and she met the stable dog.  They quickly fell in love with each other, and a picture in my heart--if not on the camera--is the two chasing each other through the tall grass outside the barn, both with dopey (and adorable) grins on their face.  

Pura Vida: Siesta! (We may have called it Cookie o'Clock)

We loved our villa/triplex/hotel room at Punta Islita.  While featuring no waterfall showers and fireplace jacuzzis, it was roomy with the best and most private backyard.  

A hammock...

...and a plunge pool!  It may have felt a little useless if it was just Dwayne and I, but this little plunge pool was probably responsible for about 30% of our family happiness at Punta Islita.  The very first night, they all jumped in after dinner.  

I struggle with relaxing on most vacations (there is so much to see and do for this overachieving doer!).  But, while there was a lot to do, we could manage an activity or two in the morning and then another one or two things much later in the day, leaving several hours for siesta in the middle.  

We certainly spent time in the family pool and getting sand down our suits while boogie-boarding in the ocean, but we also learned quickly how to enjoy down time in our own place.  We bought what we needed to make PB&Honey sandwiches, cut up one of the many pineapples, papayas, or melons we had bought earlier, and had lunch together out on the patio.  Wesley and Piper spent a lot of time in the bitty pool, while Kyla alternated between plunging and audiobooks.  I read and read, and Dwayne snoozed and read.
We roused ourselves for Cookie O'Clock (Co'C), and opened a pack of whatever new-to-us Costa Rican cookies we bought at the mini-mini mart. We liked Co'C so much that it will be a family custom when we travel the world next year.

Truly, if we could just teleport home (bypassing airports and red-eyes), we would come home relaxed as sleeping puppies.