Monday, December 31, 2012

Border Run to Panama

Every 3 months we have to leave Costa Rica to renew our visas. The last time we left was the end of September, so we were due to leave again at the end of December. Our biggest issue this time is that we have Ally who doesn't have a passport yet. After spending a day at the Registro Civil and the Caja Amarilla, we finally received her Costa Rican birth certificate...isn't it cool?

So we have her birth certificate from Costa Rica, but now we have to go to the US Embassy and get her US citizen born abroad birth certificate, her social security number and her passport. Then we have to get a letter from Costa Rica saying that we are allowed to take her out of the country. Oh yeah, to get her stuff from the US Embassy, we have to get a hand-written letter from the doctor who delivered Ally saying that we are her parents. We've heard this is a whole other long process at the embassy, but that's for another day.


So we have to leave the country, but we can't take Ally. That's an issue. We heard about a town at the border of Costa Rica and Panama that is actually between the two countries so we are able to drive there with our own car, park, and walk between the two countries (check out of Costa Rica, walk across town, check into Panama, walk to the next window, check back out of Panama, walk across town, and check back into Costa Rica). It really shouldn't have been that big of a deal. But we never know. This was our only option this time since the 4 of us had to technically leave the country, but Ally technically cannot. The drive was nice down the coast of Costa Rica and we found an easy parking place right in town. This border town is called Paso Canoas and it looks just like a dirty border town out of the movies. The people were really nice and helpful....but the town was so dirty. And as soon as we arrived, it started to rain...hard. It became a complete downpour and the streets began to flood. There were people everywhere and now there were rivers of trash flowing through the streets. The town was probably the size of half a football field, so we had to walk back across town to our car in about 6 inches of flowing water. I just knew I would see a rat swimming by my feet or something. And, of course, my children were great. They know exactly what to do in those situations. They both become quiet and grab the end of my shirttail and follow. Perfect.

Checking out and back in to Costa Rica was actually no problem at all. It took us a few hours to figure everything out, but the lines were short and the people were nice. The man checking us back into Costa Rica even gave each of us a 90-day stamp, so we're good for another 3 months. Whew. Oh yeah, there was even a separate line for indigenous people who were all dressed in full Indian dress. There are Indian tribes that span through the south of Costa Rica and the north of Panama, so they must have separate rules for them crossing the border. It was very interesting and Emma recognized them immediately from our home school studies of Indians in Central America. Very cool.

We had a hotel on the outskirts of town and it turned out to be a nice clean place. We got there at sundown and Will grabbed us a pizza for dinner. We left the next morning and drove back to stay in Jaco at the beach for two more days. At crazy trip to the border turned out to be a very nice few days away from home. Thank you Lord.

I snapped a few pictures on our way out of town the next day to document the town of Paso Canoas. So, picture all of this with a downpour of rain!

The road to our hotel

Turning right out of our hotel...this was the edge of town

The road going into the town of Paso Canoas

Downtown Paso Canoas

Car wash station to Panama

Road at the other side of town

Since this town is between countries, everything is tax-free. So there is a lot of shopping going on in this town.

Middle of town where we walked back and forth

Parked over on this side

Trucks lined up to enter Panama

This was our walking path through town

Police station

Car wash entering Costa Rica. Every country has these bug spraying wash stations that I don't understand. Can't bugs just fly back and forth across borders???

Costa Rica check-in and check-out station

The line to check in and out of Costa Rica

On our way out of town. These trucks are in line to get into Panama. There's no telling how long it will take each of them to be approved to cross. Border crossing is a crazy thing.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas Visitors - Daniel's

Our next visitors were my parents a few days later. Ally had just turned 6 weeks old and was really starting to interact, coo, and smile. Such a fun time with her!


My parents stayed for 12 days and we enjoyed having them here. The weather was great so they were able to get out with the kids a lot and take them to the park every single day. Emma and Jack loved this! They also picked Jack up from school and took the kids to gymnastics for me. It was really nice to just be able to relax at home with Ally while they spent time with E&J. We didn't have much on the agenda, we just did a whole lot of Christmas and hanging out.Will and I even went on a date night to dinner at Smash  Burger, to see the last Twilight movie (thanks Will) and to Christmas shop for the kids. Very nice.

In front of our house after a walk. Ally loves that sling!

Nana snuggling up with Ally

Pappy and Ally sleeping the day away

Christmas celebration with grandparents...lots of good stuff

Group picture after Christmas program at church 

Went for a drive to the top of Irazu Volcano. Of course it was cloudy by the time we got up there and couldn't see a thing. Mom got a little scared when we decided to off-road a bit on the edge of a volcano!

One of my favorite things to do at Christmas is to take Emma to see the Nutcracker. She loves that ballet! 2 years ago I bought her this Nutcracker when we went to see it in Memphis at the Orpheum. Mom brought it with her and I surprised both of them with tickets to the Nutcracker here. Emma was shocked! Mom asked if it was going to be in Spanish ('s a ballet Mom).

Emma, "Prince" and Me in front of the National Theater in downtown San Jose

Hanging out on the balcony on a sunny day

So fun to have them here

Pappy and Jack played baseball at the park every day

The girls...they're buds

Packing to go home!

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Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas Visitors - Savell's

Our families gave us about a month to get adjusted to Ally before they came to visit. That was perfect timing. We were much more comfortable with her so having guests in our home at this time was fun. Will's parents arrived Thanksgiving night and stayed about a week. They loved meeting their new granddaughter and celebrating the holidays with us.

We put up a little tree in our den and it really looks perfect in there. The grandparents unloaded their gifts and the kids were so excited. We spent a while the morning after they arrived opening gifts and just hanging out together. 

Matching jammies

Dress up clothes

Papaw loves holding Ally in the rocking chair. It ended up being really cold when they were here so we had Ally wrapped up with fleece jammies on most of the time. It was actually only in the 50's, but with strong winds, a concrete house and no heat it feels really really cold.

Mimi holding Ally and chatting with her

Always loving on his sister

Will cutting up pineapple for his dad. Tingle loves Costa Rican pineapple!

Sleepy girl on the couch while we opened presents

Dominoes game begins

With toothpicks just like Papaw

Ally did cry a lot that week. I felt like I was nursing her almost every hour or so. And she was really wide-eyed a lot! I love this picture with Ally's bright eyes peeking through...NOT going to sleep.

After church on Sunday we drove up to Villa Caletas hotel in Jaco to eat dinner and watch the sunset. The kids couldn't handle the drive :)

Sitting at the amphitheater watching the sunset

And it has an amazing pool. Emma adjusting goggles for Jack. I have to explain to them every time that this is a "quiet" pool so be as chill as possible. There are always lots of honeymooners around and I know they don't want my kids splashing all over them!

I don't think they realize how amazing that view is. It's so normal to them now. This time the clouds rolled back and we had an amazing view of the sunset.

Ally wasn't so sure about all of it. Of course she was getting hungry

I love this sequence of pictures. This sums us up pretty well.

And she wore me out after dinner.

A few days later Jack had his Christmas music program at school. I'm so glad his grandparents were there to see him!
Jack's kindergarten class

He looks so much like Will in these two pictures

Jack did such a great job performing! He really likes it and sang his heart out.

Then we hung out at the house a lot.
Mimi and Emma having a picnic on the balcony

Jack always has a popsicle when he comes home from school

Can you find Ally in this picture?

Hanging out in the park

Papaw teaching Emma some math

Sweet grandparents picture with all 3 of them

Sleepy baby

Me with my tiny Ally T :)
Wow she is already changing so much.

We had such a great visit with Will's parents!