October FFO

I was so excited to post about our new foster baby last week that I didn’t post about our family outing for October. By the way, all is going well with our precious baby. Besides the exhaustion that comes from waking up to feed a baby every three hours during the night and then chasing around a one year old all day, we’re feeling great. He is a really chill baby and sleeps well. He’s putting on weight and already losing those skinny, little chicken legs he had a week ago. Albin and I like to think we’re experts in growing chunky babies, so it shouldn’t take too long for this one. We’ve only gone out a little bit, but I love to see how people look at us. Surely they think Albin and I breed like rabbits with these two little people in tow. I LOVE our little family of four.

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Anyway, I committed to documenting our family adventures, so here it goes for October. We decided to make a weekend out of it since I was also celebrating my 30th birthday. We drove south down to a beach on the Pacific coast called Dominical. From there, we explored several different places and tried out a lot of new foods (coconut ceviche and berry stuffed french toast with coconut syrup…life changing). We had SO much fun together as a family and of course I was able to satisfy my deep need to get out the city and try new things, so it was a win for everyone. I’ll highlight our two favorite places:

First, we went and explored Playa Ballena (Whale Beach), which is know for the beach shaped like a whale’s tail and also for the common whale sightings at this beach. We didn’t see any whales, but we did make the trek out to the whale’s tail, which is only possible during low tide. We explored in the rocks, swam and played in the sand. Mariah loved it and Albin is so happy that he finally has someone that will play with him at the beach. When we left, we asked a local how to get to an overlook to see the tail from a distance. We went up a scary mountain road, but it was well worth almost losing our transmission (jk).

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The picture I took…

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The picture I wish I took… Photo credit: youtube.com

The next day, we hiked the Nuayaca Waterfall. Amazing. It probably ties for first place on my favorite waterfalls in CR list. The hike was 8 km and pretty strenuous, probably around an hour and a half each way with a lot of hills. Once again, the waterfalls were well worth the trek. Absolutely breathtaking. I would definitely recommend it.

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I didn’t take this one either… photo credit: tripadvisor.com

Overall, the trip was a total success and I’m so thankful we got a chance to get some hiking in before we received our tiny, fuzzy baby. We’re not quite sure what November’s adventure will look like, but honestly, just leaving the house and running errands with those two littles seems pretty adventurous to us :).

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Short Trip to ‘Merica

Sorry I’ve been MIA recently… we decided to take a short trip to good old Ohio. October is a month of celebrations (which is making me very pensive and I will share why soon), so we kicked off this month with a few parties. First we had my beautiful cousin Sarah’s wedding where we danced it up in a sweet barn. My old-lady knees are still sore from too many rounds of Cotton-Eyed Joe in heels. Of course my Latino lover was a hit on the dance floor and was recognized for his mid-dance poses he likes to refer to as the “statue.” lol

Next, we celebrated my little cousin Grace (for whom my daughter Mariah Grace is named after) because she has finished her 2.5 long years of chemotherapy and is cancer-free. We are so thankful that the Lord healed her and so her parents threw a “no-mo-chemo” party to thank everyone for praying. Watching her take her last chemo pill that day made me want to break into song and do another few rounds of dance moves. She has fought a long battle and won. Praise God.

Besides that, we’re just doing normal ‘Merica stuff. I’ve eaten my fair share of Chipotle and Skyline Chili while haunting the aisles of TJ Maxx and Carters. I haven’t been home for fall in a long time so I am doing all things pumpkin. I had a minor breakdown in Meijer’s because there were SO MANY baby food options. Costa Rica has a whopping six kinds of premade baby food, so I usually make all Mariah’s food myself. When I got to the baby food aisle here, I literally stood there for 20 minutes deciding while other moms tried to maneuver around me in my dazed state. I couldn’t decide, so I bought a bunch to stock up for travel days, the beach, etc. I even got a bunch of those awesome little puffs for the plane. Here’s the best part: Mariah hasn’t liked any of it. She gags on the puffs (are you kidding me?? What kid doesn’t like puffs?), and she turns her head away from the baby food. Go figure.

While she wasn’t loving the millions of food options, she was loving shoe shopping with grandma and grandpa. I was loving it too because now she is stocked up for the next year and grandpa covered the bill (bless ’em).

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Finally, we did a little early birthday celebration because Mariah will be turning ONE! soon and I will be celebrating the big 3-0 soon. As you can see, she wasn’t a fan of the sombrero they put on her at the Mexican joint. She was, however, a fan of the guac and beans they served up and was far more excited about that than any sweet potato, turkey, and apple parfait that Gerber whipped up. Saludos!!

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Family Adventures (aka let’s keep mommy sane trips)

I’m currently loving life as a stay-at-home mom. Who knew? I thought I would be restless, but I really enjoy it. I’m so thankful that my husband works hard so I can stay home with Mariah. Most days I’m pretty content to be home all day, but there are days that I get a little stir crazy. Some days Albin pulls in the garage to find all four of us (i.e. Mariah, Rocky, Luna, and me) all waiting at the door poised and ready to jump on him in our excitement.

On one such day Albin came home and saw that crazy look in my eye and made an executive decision that we needed to all get out of the house more. He told me to set aside at least one Saturday a month and plan for a family adventure. Well, that spoke right to my heart since experiencing new things together is basically my love language. In fact, when we first got married I struggled a lot because I had just come off of an 11-country mission trip that was a constant adventure and suddenly I found myself settled down with a 9-5 job. It was ugly.

Anyway, back to the present. We decided to go through a Costa Rica guide book and write down places we’d never been and wanted to go. I also found this great website called “Two Weeks in Costa Rica” which details the travels of a couple that moved to CR after falling in love with it during a vacation. We found some new places and made a point to set apart a Saturday that didn’t involve cutting the grass, birthday parties, or other usual Saturday tasks.

Both of our family fun outings (FFO’s as coined by my parents) so far have been to waterfalls here. There are a lot of beautiful waterfalls in CR and taking a day to hike to them satisfies some innate need I have to explore. Not to mention we’ve really enjoyed being together as a family and getting out of the city. It’s something small that has gone a long way to make all of us a little saner. Totally worth it. I used to travel all over CR during my first two years here, but now our calendar always fills up with everyday stuff and sometimes it is so easy to just settle into mundane routines. I want to document them on my blog for my sake, but also maybe it will motivate you to get out there and plan some FFO’s with your family.

Here are some pictures from our August trip to Las Cataratas Los Chorros:

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September trip to Catarata del Toro with some dear friends:

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Our Non-Honeymoon (First Year Fails: Part I)

I decided that following my last post about the miscarriage we had after our first month of marriage,  I’m going to post a series of blogs about our first year of marriage. You may think I’m being dramatic when I say that our first year was an epic fail; but in this case, I’m not being dramatic. The only two things that didn’t fail: God (because He doesn’t), and our actual marriage commitment (oh, but it came close). Our honeymoon, my residency, our health, our communication, our living situation, our dogs (at first), our Nissan Sentra, my job– they were all a mess. Some of those circumstances were comical (or at least they are now) and some of them were devastating blows to our marriage. Either way, by the time we got to our first anniversary, we felt like we’d been married for ten years. During that time, people who didn’t know us well would continually give us the provocative eyebrow raise and make references about how we were in the “honeymoon period,” but really had no idea that we were barely surviving that special sexy season. Then they would say, “Just wait until year seven, then it really gets difficult.” I think we died inside just a little bit every time we heard that.

Lest you fret that this series of blogs will be entirely negative, this first entry is pretty light and comical, mostly because it was RIGHT after we got married. I can also say that even though a lot of crappy things happened our first year, we did survive, and we’re stronger for it. We’ve struggled immensely, fought hard, and loved well. We’ve come to know each other in amazing ways and have a profound respect for each other now that we’ve seen how the other responds to difficulty. Most importantly, we’ve learned that Christ is the center of our marriage and have come to understand that He is the only reason any marriage is truly successful. I hope these posts are encouraging to any of you who aren’t living a Facebook photo-worthy marriage or feel like you missed the boat on the good old honeymoon period …

Albin was able to get two weeks off for our wedding. He flew to Cincinnati, we got married six days later, flew back to Costa Rica three days later, bought a bed and settled into our apartment for one night, and then spent the next night at my suegra’s (mother-in-law’s) house for our excursión the next day. Excursión sounds so much more exotic than it really is. Basically, appliances are expensive in Costa Rica since they have an import tax placed on them. To get around the import tax, there is a tax-free zone, called “Golfito,” in the southern part of the country. It’s very common to go to Golfito  through an excursión, which is when a company with a bus takes care of your transportation and lodging for your trip. Each person is allowed to spend $1,000 in Golfito per year, so my suegra and Albin’s abuela (grandma) went with us so we could divide up our money to buy our big appliances (found out later that everyone is allowed to spend $2,000 per year, which means suegra and abuela didn’t need to go after all). Back to the story.

We spent the night at my suegra’s and slept in abuela’s single bed (this was the 5th night of marriage, mind you) the night before our expedition. At 5 a.m. we got to the bus stop and a large and in-charge Tica woman named Doña Adelita welcomed a big group of us. We arrived in Golfito in six hours with no problem. We were greeted by a wall of humid heat the minute we got off the bus. By now you know about my sweating problem, so you can imagine. Doña Adelita got up and gave us the “rules.” That day we had three hours to make all of our purchases. We would leave promptly after three hours and head for the border of Panama, where we would spend the night in their “accommodations” and have a chance to shop at the border crossing (i.e. seediest place in the Western Hemisphere). The following day we would return and have two hours to pick up our purchases and get them ready to be shipped back home (it was a rule).

I don’t know how to even describe how this all went down. If you remember the game show “Supermarket Sweep,” then you’ll have an idea. We literally had to run from place to place, comparing prices, bargaining, and buying in 100 degree heat. It was so stressful. Three hours may seem like a lot until you realize you have to compare, bargain, and buy your washer, dryer, oven, microwave, fridge, pots, pans, toaster, blender, Crockpot, and television–all in different stores. On top of that, add in suegra and abuela giving their opinions and telling us what to do, Albin trying to translate everything since I was lost in life, and the lack of sleep due to just getting married. Just imagine me panting and sweating with a deer-in-headlights look on my face as all that bartering and opinionating is going on in Spanish. In literally no time, Doña Adelita was blowing her foghorn and saying it was time to go. Right now.

We shuffled onto the bus headed for the border. Absolute chaos at the border. We eventually arrived at our accommodations which weren’t anything comparable to a hotel, motel, or Holiday Inn. It was an 8×8’ room and it was ghetto. My suegra and abuela graciously took the bunk beds so we newly-weds could take the double bed (6th night of marriage), locked the door tight, and tried to justify in our heads that all of this was completely normal.

The next morning, Doña Adelita rolled up at 5 a.m. and we went back to the free zone to pick up our items. I swear it was hotter than the day before. We secured all of our items and got all of the receipts in order to go through what is essentially a customs line. As we neared the front of the line, Albin started frantically shuffling through the receipts. He couldn’t find the one from the washer and we wouldn’t be allowed out with our new washer without the receipt. Utter panic ensued. We lost our place in the long line and went running to every store trying to find the receipt. So. Much. Sweat.

As abuela guarded our purchases, we ran around rabidly trying to ignore Doña Adelita’s loudspeaker notifying us that we were about to miss the bus. At the last minute, we found that blessed golden ticket at one of the stores and ran back to the line, begging Doña Adelita not to leave us. She had mercy on us and we were able to get our appliances on the shipping truck.

Back on the bus, I passed out immediately and slept for about two hours. Up until this point, the bus was air-conditioned and was the only respite from the unbearable humidity. Naturally, the air-conditioner was overworked and went out. The windows of the bus were airtight (due to it normally being a bus with AC), so there was no air flow. We started stripping. Then the bus driver had the brilliant idea to turn on a movie to distract us. It was reminiscent of Saw III. Between the gore in the movie, the boiling bus, and the curvy mountain road, someone was bound to get sick. Of course it was the lady next to us. She started throwing up and you can imagine how that went seeing as the windows wouldn’t open. People were moaning the whole way home.

The good news is that we made it home. There was a problem with the shipping truck and we didn’t receive our appliances for four days, which wasn’t a huge problem at first since we slept for two days straight. Things started to become dire when our clothes from the excursion started rotting and smelling up our apartment along with the food that couldn’t be kept cold due to no refrigerator. Oh, and did I mention it was Christmas? We went to Denny’s for Christmas breakfast. Sigh.

Moral of the story: Go on a real honeymoon.  Seriously, I know there was the whole thing about not having enough money, or time off work or needing the appliances, but we TOTALLY regret not having a honeymoon.