Sunday, May 29

Nash Turns Two

Dear Nash,
This letter finds me low on energy, full of love and thankfulness, and inspired to blog once again because of your birthday.  You turned two yesterday, and it's remarkable how much you've grown since my last letter to you.  Here are some of my favorite things you do right now:

  • You "jump" over bumps and cracks in the sidewalk by lifting up and grunting.  We haven't seen any air under those feet yet, but you sure try!
  • Your favorite song is Baa Baa Black Sheep.  You ask for "Baa Baa"
  • You think burps are the funniest thing!  After someone burps you say  "scoo you!" and laugh and then try a fake burp yourself.
  • You still love your woobie and pacifier.  Not sure when the pacifier will have to go, but it's soon!
  • You have this favorite past time of trying to slap my belly.  
  • You love dancing, and will often try to dance exactly like June.  Even ballerina style.
  • You get hangry very quickly, and often ask for a "nak" (snack)
  • You always want to be outside and going inside means you will throw a fit!
  • You HATE getting new shoes.  If you have to try on new shoes you will, undoubtedly, throw yourself on the ground and cry for at least 20 minutes.
  • You make animal noises- the cutest ones are elephant and snake
  • You "count" to play hide and go seek.  It sounds like "wuuuun, tooooo, toooo, toooo!"  And when its your turn to hide your either count with the counter or hide around the corner to scare the counter!
  • You absolutely love ducks. 
  • You are creative.  You don't need a car to play cars- a spoon will do just fine!
  • Your hair is crazy and we have started putting it up in a little top knot.  This gets quite the attention ranging from "so cute!" to accidentally called a girl.  
  • You have the cutest face when you are talking about cake, treats, cookies, or ice cream.  You know all those means something sweet is going in my mouth!  When people asked if it was your birthday, you just replied, "Cake!"
  •  You and June chase each other and play monster a lot.  I call it Monster Nash
We are so thankful for you, despite the fact that you throw a fit almost every time it's time to change your diaper.  I'm looking forward to this summer, when we can go to the pool (You dive straight in without fear- I'm doing my best to keep you alive!) and be lazy and be adventurous too.  Daddy says its almost time for his Nash tattoo on his arm next to June's.  Thank you for teaching me to be more laid back as a mom, for going to bed so well, and for kisses that leave inordinate amounts of slobber on my face.  I love you, Nashie.


Sunday, October 4

Nothing Has Changed

When I think of all that has changed in the last 2 months, it's hard to even put words to it.  To begin, I came to a place of hope that I would get a teaching job before we even left for Costa Rica.  I promised myself I would remain content either way, but I felt the Lord giving me the word, "Prepare." And the haste in which this all came about has left me still trying to land on my feet.  I interviewed on a Thursday, accepted that evening, and moved boxes to my classroom the next day.  The firehose of information and expectations that began to fill my mind and time quickly came to wear down my positivity and hope that I would ever feel like I knew what I was doing.

Fast forward 8 weeks.  Each morning, I park in a church parking lot close to my school to pray.  To get my eyes off of my to-do list, which written out on college ruled paper would literally be longer than I am tall.  To read a devotion, so I am staying a student of the Word and just not becoming really skilled at self-help prayers.  To pray for the armor of God to go with me into school, to set a way for the Kingdom of Christ to be advanced as the Holy Spirit leads my feet to step in places where Jesus is needed.

I've come round and round with anxiety and stress. But I hear a song, a scripture, or a prayer... or I have moments where God speaks, and then I know.  I know that Jesus is so relentless to constantly draw my heart back toward Him.  Because He never changes.  My job, my time with my kids, my number of date nights with Kenny- these things change.  My confidence in my teaching ability and my knowledge of the entire profession, these things have been stripped away.  But Jesus is constant.  His Word is an anchor when my ship tries so hard to sail away.   When everything around me has changed, nothing has changed with my God.  He will continue to fulfill his promises each and every day.  Jesus will continue to love me with an unfathomable love, a kindness that leads to repentance.  The Author of Life is always with me.  His strength never fails.  He walked with Shadrack, Meshach, and Abednego in the fire, and He still walks with me in the fire today.  The Sabbath never changes.  It comes every week without fail.  24 hours every week where I do not pick up work.  Nothing has changed.

God is always in control.  Nothing about Him has changed. He is good, and He will always be good.  Jesus, you are a miraculous God, and you will continue to perform miracles.  When I can't figure out how something will ever work out or happen, You are my hope.  Because You never change.  Your presence always brings life. You are a perfect parent, always seeking to teach me and grow me.  You are so faithful.  So when I say everything in my life has changed, I really mean nothing has changed.  Nothing can change the faithfulness of my God and His goodness toward me.

Sunday, August 16

Costa Freakin' Rica Day 5-8

Day 5
We went on a all day jungle adventure.  We went with guides way out into the deep parts of the rain forest to zip line through the canopy- about 10 zip lines in all- hike through the jungle, cross a hanging bridge and repel into a small river.  We felt like we conquered the rain forest.  It also rained the whole time.  We couldn't have been wetter if we jumped into a river.  But it was awesome.
Chelsea on a hanging bridge

Kenny on the bridge

Making our way down a stream/river we repelled into

One of our guides- probably telling us to beware of bullet ants

Soaked to the bone.  Kenny's helmet was really protecting him lol

Hiking path through the jungle

Kenny zip lining

Chelsea coming in for a landing

Kenny trying to get off the line

A sweet lady in our party who was a little fearful of the Tarzan swing

Kenny's Tarzan swing

Chelsea's Tarzan swing

Kenny's superman zipline

Chelsea's superman zipline

Our group of adventures

We are so grateful this man shared his pictures and videos he captured with us!

That night we ate at La Pecora Negra.  This was a very memorable experience.  While the food was not fabulous, we were very entertained.  The host and the chef/owner are both Italian and take great pride in the restaurant.  As we were being told the specials, the chef comes out to tell us he just added another special... (imagine a thick Italian accent here) "I take a chicken from my garden, and I cut the breast, and the leg, and I sprinkle a little salt and pepper... it's so delicious. You will love it. It's from my garden.  And the sauce.  You will love it..." I honestly felt bad when I didn't order it!  Kenny didn't order wine, and the chef came to the table to ask about what else he would want to drink and offered another liquor of some kind.  Kenny said he didn't like alcohol and the man look confused.  He asked, "What do you mean?" He was so baffled, I don't think he'd ever met anyone who said they didn't like the taste of wine.  The meal was slow, but the place was set in a garden in the jungle, with candle lights and just a rooftop over the dining room to see out into the jungle.  It was a magical setting for sure.  We noticed three small geckos crawling on the ceiling above our table, and sure enough one fell and landed on the table while we were eating!  Kenny ordered the swordfish because, in the chef's words, "I go to the Pacific, and I pick out the fish myself!" It ended up being a cold appetizer type meal, and my shrimp were really overcooked, but the homemade noodles were a plus.  After the meal, I had to have a tiramisu from a true Italian, and it was really fabulous.  All in all, not the best food, but the best time we had a restaurant the whole trip.
Excellent Tiramisu!
Day 6
Another beach day- still too rough to surf.  We ate again at the American place for breakfast.
We explored a couple different beach areas without a lot of people (we did indeed come upon one nudist- our fault I guess for trying to find hidden beaches!).  I hit my head really hard on a tree trunk when were hiking along the beach, but other than that it was enjoyable to spend time at many different spots on the beach.  This was the only time we did see surfers- 2 of them- and we watched them for a long while.
Black sand by Playa Cocles

Main swimming/surfing area at Playa Cocles
There was a little girl, about 3 years old, at the beach that made me think of June.  I really didn't have the mental energy to sit around missing my kids, but in that moment, I did.  I realized that all these adventures were something I wanted to share with June, and Nash too.  That when you have a family, some things aren't as special unless you can share experiences with them.  Yes of course, the beach was easier to do without a toddler, but I knew how much she would love it, and I wanted her there just in that moment.
More beach/jungle pictures out of order of days though

Leaf-cutter ants

Day 7

A stop for fresh fruit smoothies before heading back to San Jose

We had to travel back to San Jose this day.  It rained the whole day, so the bus ride was so much cooler.  We were supposed to be staying at the same Airbnb we had when we first landed, but I decided I wouldn't do that place again.  I wanted a hotel.  I wanted a big soft bed and 4 complete walls and a big tub.  Earlier in the week I book a room at a Wyndham hotel and was so excited to stay before we had to fly all day the next day.  But I forgot, again, about HOW to get there.  We knew we had to walk the 4-6 blocks to the other bus station, but now what? Which bus to I get on? I used broken Spanish to figure out the orange bus should stop where we wanted, and as we got on board I was so unsure.
This bus? I hope so!

I wasn't too sure

 We had exactly 4000 colones, or about $8 cash.  I hoped it was enough and that we wouldn't get lost.  We used an app called Waze, which is the most popular GPS for the area and again, turned on that precious international data to see where to get off.  We knew it was by a Hard Rock Cafe.  Finally we spotted the Hard Rock and pulled the string, quickly made our way off the bus with our huge rolling suitcase, crossed over the 10 lane highway on a pedestrian bridge and saw those glorious letters W-Y-N-D-H-A-M.  Our room had air conditioning, a huge tub, soft sheets, and free Wifi.  We ate a ridiculously expensive meal in the aforementioned Hard Rock, and then vegged out watching Catch Me If You Can on Netflix.  By the way, Netflix in Costa Rica had several awesome choices that we don't here!
Day 8
It was so so so easy to get on the free shuttle to the airport from our hotel.  We didn't have to figure out how and when and what bus to catch to get to the airport.  Please, the next time you have a free shuttle anywhere, think of me and our bus traveling and appreciate that free shuttle.  Our flights were great, we were so blessed to have our parents both take turns watching our kids.  We were so glad to get home!  I missed my kids, bed, pillow, air conditioning, car, food I didn't have to bike for, clean feet, and dollars.
If you have young children, and want a relaxing vacation, please go to a resort.  An all-inclusive Beauty where you can sleep soundly and sleep in.  Where food is a walk next door and waiters can bring you drinks on the beach.  When you want an adventure, that's like a mix between The Amazing Race and Glamping, go to Cocles, Puerto Viejo and stay at Eric and Lara's bungalow called The Wild Side.  Tell them Kenny and Chelsea say hello, and thanks for the sloth sighting, but they won't be back anytime soon. :)

Costa Freakin' Rica Day 3-4

Our view from our porch was really beautiful.

Day 3
Our host left coffee and a french press and I enjoyed a little quiet morning.  We biked to Puerto Viejo to get breakfast.  It was about 20 minutes, and it was already hot, but the breakfast was good.  Our host said it was an "American" place to eat, but it was a top 10 on Trip Adviser and yes, it was American, but yes it was good.  This was my first clue to myself that I might not really want an authentic Costa Rican experience. Then off to the beach finally... yes! We traveled so far to get some of the best beach in the world right?!  Kenny can learn to surf in one of the best surfing spots in the world!  Well... maybe not.  There were several surf boards leaned against trees on the beach, but no surfers in the water.  We asked two guys who were there to rent boards out to tourists and they both said the water was too rough to surf in today.  They wouldn't recommend trying especially if you were new at it.  Try tomorrow, they said, but it was the end of the rainy season and more than likely, the water would be too dangerous for all week.  Hahahahah.

 All I can do at this point is laugh to myself.  Like nothing is panning out like we thought it would, except for our "American" breakfast of french toast and waffles.

We DID get boogy boards and were able to have some fun riding waves in where the yellow flag was posted for cautionary swimming.  That was fun, especially if Kenny and I caught the same wave and rode it together.  The beach didn't have any lounge chairs or umbrellas, it had sand and water.  It also had huge trees that made for shady spots right up to the water and little crabs would peak out of their holes if you waited long enough.  There were cliff points we learned you could climb to and see the water majestically crash against the rocks.  (Now, the path up to that point was jungle hiking- lots of things I was afraid of- like snake holes, giant ants, spiders... but this wasn't the dense rain forest and if I put on my brave face for 5 minutes we were through it)

We found a store and got a few groceries to have at the house.  We biked to dinner- a place called La Casita Azul.  And indeed, it was a little blue house.  It was a good meal, but as we sat talking, I confessed to Kenny that this vacation was not what I expected.  I teared up as I was facing the disappointment that I wasn't really relaxing and sleeping and having no responsibility.  I was constantly figuring out how to get somewhere, how much something cost, dealing with a language barrier, and was constantly hot with no relief.   I felt like a spoiled American tourist who wasn't appreciating the beauty of the jungle, the different lives of locals, or the experience of traveling.  This being my first international trip, it took away the idealization that other, foreign places are more exciting or beautiful than the place that I live.  Kenny helped me think of this trip as a adventure, not a romantic, relaxing trip to the beach.  I just had to get my mind in a different place and change my expectations.  And I did.  After this dinner, I had more fun with where we were because I just had to think of it as adventure.  I took no chances with my sleep that night, and took a heavy dose of melatonin so I could sleep well.  It was really nice.
Sunrise- the only morning it wasn't pouring down rain. 

A little capybara-type animal that I saw a couple of times outside our house.

Day 4
We visited the Jaguar Rescue Center (which does not actually have jaguars). They rehabilitate animals for release into the wild.  It was really great to see all these native animals.  I'll never forget the biting pelican, the sloths, toucans, weird looking owls, and the bird without a beak.  But seeing a vet work on 4 giant sea turtles that had just been brought it because of injuries from people was really incredible.  2 of them were able to be released the next day, and the other two were staying longer to receive care.  Our guide was of Basque decent, but I don't remember her name.  She had such a passion for the animals, especially a puma that was having seizures and receiving care there.  She teared up when caring for this puma, because she wasn't sure what was wrong or that animal would survive.  It was really moving.

 We also made friends with other tourists who had rented a car, and we all drove to another beach. (Their car had AC! It felt incredible!)  We had two very nasty food choices this day- a place called Soda Maxi in Manzanillo and Flip Flop in Puerto Viejo- a gross tourist trap.
Manzanillo, Costa Rica
 We also were in Puerto Viejo at night for the first time- which is a place known as a party town.  True to it's reputation, 2 pedestrians offered weed to us in about a 5 minute time span.  Well actually, KENNY was offered weed and special brownies in a 5 minute time span.  Must have been the long hair...