December Family Adventure(s)

It’s taken me two weeks to recover from December, but I’m back. I wasn’t overly-motivated to blog again, but Albin assured me a lot of people were waiting for me to write again. I’m pretty sure that’s not the case, but his undying enthusiasm could not be ignored. For those of you that were losing sleep while waiting for me to post again, this one goes out to you.

My family came down to Costa Rica for Christmas this year and we had a fabulous time. It was slightly nontraditional for those northerners (i.e. the weather was in the 80’s, and we spent our days hiking rainforests and volcanoes), but incredible nonetheless. My house was full, my heart was full, and my children were spoiled.

Our family loves being outside and exploring new places, so we set out every day and did something different. We hit a volcano, the beach, the rainforest,  some waterfalls, and the artisans market downtown. By the end of it, the kids were a mess from not taking naps, my dad was insane from driving the rental car all over CR, and we all needed a vacation from our vacation- but it was totally worth it.

Here are some pictures from our adventures:

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God blessed us with a clear day to see the usually clouded-over crater.

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In the rainforest at La Paz with the babes in tow.

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Clearly the babies were excited about the toucan.

I Married a Good One

It’s this guy’s birthday today and our anniversary tomorrow, so in his honor I just want to tell the world how amazing of a man Albin is. Albin, here are ten (among millions) reasons why I hit the jackpot when I married you:

  1. You are an incredible example of loving your wife like Chist loves the church. You love me well, unconditionally, and wholly. I have learned so much about Christ’s love for the church because I’ve seen how completely you have cherished me.
  2. You love God and lead us well. I can’t imagine having to follow a guy  that wasn’t answering to the Father and wasn’t striving towards a higher purpose.
  3. Your manliness :). You’re sensitive enough to shed a tear and express your emotions, while tough enough to fight a lion for us. It’s good to have a real man who owns up to responsibility, takes care of us, protects us, and sets an example of strength.
  4. You love our kids. Whether its Mariah or our foster kids, you are an image1amazing Papa. They feel secure and treasured by you. Watching you love these babies is basically the sexiest thing ever.
  5. You make me laugh. The voice-overs you imagine up for our dogs and babies are seriously hilarious.
  6. You work hard. You provide for us and make it possible for me to raise our kids. You hold yourself to a high standard and do your thing with excellence. We appreciate you so very much.
  7. Your faithfulness. It is such a blessing to know that my man is going to come home when he says he will, respect his vows, and that he only has eyes for me.
  8. You are generous. You love to give and you give fully. Whether you’re giving your time, talents, or treasures, you don’t withhold and you genuinely care about the needs of others. You are selfless and that is such an attractive trait.
  9. You encourage me. You tell me I’m beautiful even if I have spit-up encrusted hair; you eat everything I cook for you with a smile even if its not good, and you challenge me to pursue my talents even though we don’t have time. It is a blessing to always have someone standing by my side and cheering me on.
  10. I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ll say it again: your Spanish. Nothing like a little love language to stir up some romance. Oh baby when you talk like that, you make a woman go mad…

But seriously, you are one of a kind and I am truly blessed to spend my life with you. It definitely hasn’t always been easy, but its been so worth it. Te amo mucho.

Two Babies: Our New Normal

Not surprisingly, I haven’t had much time to blog over the last few weeks. Having a 13 month old and a one month old in the house has been a little time-consuming. It has been interesting being back to spit-up encrusted shirts and pulling the nightshift again. If I wasn’t a frumpy-frump before, I most definitely am now. In my head, long nights with a colicky newborn and long days with a mobile toddler justify my refusal to wear anything but yoga pants and never fixing my hair (and don’t even get me started about tweezing).

Also, I don’t know if it’s just in my head (or stuck in my nose), but I’m convinced our house smells like one huge sick-nasty diaper. Along with the smell, our house is now an unsightly obstacle course set with gates, clips, and locks in order to keep our curious daughter from trashing the place (even more). Oh, and the used baby bottles strewn throughout the house are reminiscent of a frat house after a drunken party (ex. I found one under the Christmas tree this morning).

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Don’t judge me for having a blow-up pool in my living room (Hannah).

When I do get out of the house, I’m amazed at the planning and strategy that it requires. I’ve been able to successfully cut down the number of hours it takes to get everyone fed, ready and out the door, but I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that while I once lived out of backpack for a year, I now have to pack twice as much gear to do some “quick” errands.

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Pure joy over peanut butter. She’s obviously my child.

Basically, I have a whole new respect for parents. The fact that some moms keep up with things like bathing themselves AND Pinterest is impressive.

Because I’d rather sleep than write, I’m going to jot down a few highlights from the last several weeks:

  1. Our fuzzy foster baby gained almost 2 pounds since coming to us a month ago (I told you we were chunky baby experts). His pediatrician is so impressed by how strong and healthy he is despite his prenatal circumstances. Praise Jesus.
  2. I have become a ninja when changing diapers. Baby boy parts cannot be trusted under any circumstances. #peeEVERYWHERE
  3. My mother in law has been a HUGE help to me and has even spent the night a few times. We have started to really work as a team and our relationship has been strengthened immensely through this.
  4. I’m starting to really enjoy watching how people curiously approach the subject of our babies’ ages. When we’re out in public, it’s almost a guarantee that someone will casually start a conversation for the sole purpose of finding out just how soon after Mariah’s birth Albin and I got back to making babies. I usually let them do the math in their heads before I mention the tiny one isn’t ours.
  5. I’ve spent somewhere around eight hours over the last two weeks waiting in the public health clinic lines to get fuzzy registered, screened, and checked up. Thankfully, this time around wasn’t nearly as complicated as it was with our first foster daughter since now the staff know how to handle temporary custody cases. I only had to go semi-postal on one miserable secretary that tried to override a doctor’s order in scheduling our next appointment (I still don’t know why she became so belligerent). I called her out and she became sickly sweet when she realized that I wasn’t some clueless foreigner and that I was doing a public service for a high-risk newborn. It’s rare that I’ll pull out my gringo directness on a Costa Rican, but when it comes to my kids…
  6. People have been incredibly generous with clothes and baby boy items. Friends, family, and even a Pharmacist from the free clinic have showered us with clothes and diapers. God bless.
  7. Sometimes I get in the fetal position and hold myself when both babies are trying to out-cry each other.

I can’t deny it’s been chaotic with two littles under 13 months, but I wouldn’t change it for anything. Waiting in lines, dodging streams of urine, and fielding lots of curious questions are a small price to pay when I consider the privilege it is to get this little guy off to a healthy start in life. I am thankful that I can be a stay at home mom and love on these kids even if it’s not always pretty. I love falling into bed at night knowing that every ounce of my energy was spent loving on the precious lives God has entrusted to me. I know that we’re right where God wants us right now and that’s a good place to be.

Our First Car (First Year Fails: Part IV)

Our first car was an old, faithful ‘92 Nissan Sentra. Albin and that car had a profound love for one another. I, however, learned to drive a stick in Costa Rica in that car, and I’m pretty sure it never forgave me. I have a lot of not-so-fond memories of Albin trying to gently teach me how to go over muertos (speed bumps are appropriately called “dead bodies” in CR) and me freaking out and stalling every time.

About the same time we were going through our apartment disaster, it came time to perform the annual car revision. You have to pass the revision in order to get a little sticker in your window that says you’re good to drive. If you get caught without the little sticker, you can lose your license. Even though our car wasn’t in the best shape, we weren’t too worried and assumed we would pass the revision.

It failed.

I’m not a car person, but something about a hose was messed up. We got the hose fixed and about a week later we went back to do the revision again.

Failed again.

The second time, it had something to do with the muffler and too much exhaust. That little fix was a bit more expensive and time consuming, so it took a few weeks. After that was fixed, we took the car back for a revision.

Failed.

Are you kidding me? Why were they picking on us? There were much crappier cars out there and they were passing! I was starting to get mad. It was a conspiracy! We switched mechanics and this guy claimed that he had all the tools to do the revision in his shop so we would have an idea if we would pass or not. I can’t remember what he found, but he fixed that up and it wasn’t cheap.

By now, our car saga was gaining some fame. Every day we had people asking if our car had passed or not and people were recommending mechanics to us by the dozen.

This next time we were sure our car would pass, so Albin was going to swing by and do the revision quickly after work. That day, I was anxiously eating my fingernails because we were getting precariously close to the expiration date on our sticker. Since we’d spent all of our money on fixing up our car, our dogs, and on buying antibiotics to fight the pneumonia we got from our rotting apartment, one more tab from the mechanic wasn’t in the budget. As I was sitting there praying that the car would pass, I get a call from a defeated Albin announcing that we had yet again FAILED.

FAILED! WE FAILED REVISION FOUR TIMES. Who does that?

Not only did we fail the fourth revision, but Albin said that as he was in the revision and they were running the tires and engine to check for exhaust, the car literally blew up and smoke started furiously pouring from the hood. He said it made quite a scene and the guys just stopped the revision right there and Albin dejectedly pulled away. He then told me that he was currently on the side of the road and that we might be a little late to Bible study that night because the car kept exploding and overheating.

Two hours later my defeated man walked into our rotting apartment and said that he didn’t think we would make it to Bible study. I started laughing hysterically, mostly to keep from crying hysterically.

We switched mechanics (again) and after paying for a bunch of new parts and slyly avoiding all traffic officials who would happily fine us for driving far past our revision date, our car was ready to go. We both went to the revision and it was the most agonizing process ever. I got an ulcer while we waited for the results in the parking lot. Albin went back in to get our score and came out slowly.

“Well?” I screamed.

He shook his head sadly and just before I was about to lose it, he started to smile and shouted, “We passed!”

Tears of joy were flowing. I jumped into Albin’s arms and we raised a holy hallelujah. We were celebrating like we’d won the lottery. I’m sure those revision workers got a good laugh that day.