Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Survival at Home

This is my man doing his thing. I am so incredibly proud of him and how hard he is working. Right now this hard work means a lot of travel and we're adjusting. Being home alone with 3 kids isn't easy anyway, but it feels doubly hard being in a foreign country.

I know that he is working, but sometimes I wonder if it looks a little like this...

Or this...

Or even this...

And my life at home feels a whole lot like this....

And this...

I know it's not completely true, but it feels true! Will has traveled to India, Guatemala, Honduras, USA, Cuba and many trips to the campo of Costa Rica in recent years. We've developed a method here at home that has become quite routine for us when Will is away...especially for long periods of time. Here are my thoughts on surviving at home:

  1. Go on a "fun" grocery run- Obviously I blogged about this yesterday and you can read about that here. We go to the grocery store at the beginning of the week that Will's gone and, as Emma says, we buy a whole bunch of things we don't need. That just means we buy food that we usually don't buy. The kids think this is so much fun and plays well into dinners of Lucky Charms and frozen pizza. Win/win.
  2. Complete one achievable task- This doesn't mean clean out every closet in your house or repaint the kitchen. Keep it simple. Clean out one closet, organize a few pictures, write some blogs (obviously that's mine this time around), or wash the car. It will make you feel slightly productive without it being overwhelming.
  3. Read a mindless fiction book- Think about what you would want to read on the beach or find something you can escape into. I would not recommend mysteries or thrillers! I figured that out the hard way. Then you just can't sleep at night.
  4. Watch a show your husband won't- I always have big plans to watch an entire series on Netflix, but that doesn't seem to happen with small kids and that seems like an overwhelming task to me (remember #2). So I stick to shows like Gilmore Girls, Downton Abbey, Ace of Cakes and 19 Kids & Counting.
  5. Eat off Paper Plates- That's especially huge for us here with no dishwasher. Cups and silverware are much easier to quickly wash at the end of the night without scrubbing. Side note: Will's favorite joke - "How do you fix a dishwasher? You slap her". Hahaha...well, he's the one who washes dishes at our house so the joke's on him.
  6. Have something to look forward to at night- Save that dessert or glass of wine for after the kids go to bed.  You might even want to save your whole dinner for after the kids are in bed! I did that last night and skyped with a friend while eating. It was wonderful.
  7. Don't make beds that week- This is my kid's favorite rule. When Dad's away, we don't make beds. Why? I don't know. Just thought that sounded fun and different. Will actually couldn't care less if we ever made beds around here.
  8. Have one family event planned- We try to do one different/special/easy-to-manage thing while he's away. Last time we went to visit some friends in another town. This time we had a jammie day all day on Saturday. I also promised that we would go to the park every day this week at 4:00. The park is next to our house and that really keeps them from asking me all day when we can go. It has also kept them from asking if friends can come over. If they want to play, they can meet us in the park at 4:00.
  9. Keep activities simple and low-key- Do the things you normally would do and it's okay to cut some things out if life gets out of hand. I opted out of attending women's bible study this morning because it felt like we had been rushing around for the past two days. I just wanted to complete one full day of uninterrupted school with Emma. This also means don't add crazy things like a camping trip or Disney World.
  10. Dinner can be foods that seem like snacks- Popcorn, peanut butter sandwiches or frozen waffles can be a dinner. Or make things that your man wouldn't eat. For some reason, mac & cheese with sausage in it sounded really good to me the other night so I made it. Will would hate this, but the kids and I loved it.
  11. Exercise- This keeps the depression away. Even just a little bit helps.
  12. Call one friend a day- It's difficult for me to jet out and see anyone, so sometimes just calling one person a day keeps loneliness away and let's you have adult conversation. For me, I like doing this at the end of my day. So nice right before bed.
  13. Talk to the Lord- Life feels really out of balance when Will's away. But this sense of weirdness makes me remember to talk to the Lord constantly throughout the day. And I have always really enjoyed reading my Bible right before bed, and I'm able to do that when Will's gone. Dependence on the Lord is key and reminds me why we're here.
  14. Leave a few lights on & take a Tylenol PM- I leave the hallway light on and a light in the den. This just makes me feel better when I'm up with the kids at night. I also take a Tylenol PM which helps me sleep so I don't freak out when I hear a cat walking on our roof. I only take one because this is inevitably the night when a kid will wake up puking.

And that's my complete list. Please share some other ideas if you have them!

Monday, February 25, 2013

It Still Shocks Me

I've lived here for a year and a half, and it still shocks me. So I need to blog about it to get it out of my system. If you want to eat like an American, then you will pay for it. We are very careful with our groceries most of the time, but when Will is gone for a week, Emma and I go on a "fun" grocery run. This is when we buy American products that we normally wouldn't buy along with some other staple items to eat on that week. We have a good time, but I want to scream at the cash register when we check out.

When I used to grocery shop at Aldi, I could literally fill my cart for about $60.
Will made frequent runs to Kroger to get the 5 for $5 items.
I would clip coupons for name brand stuff we enjoyed like real Pillsbury cinnamon rolls (they don't have those here...my family has struggled with that).

Not too difficult....until we moved here.

There are no off-brands of things. You pay about double for most items because they are imported.

I haven't seen coupons. Today I noticed some "specials" but it was for maybe 50 cents off. Whoopdedoo.

And I have to throw in that gas is around $6 a gallon and not one person here complains. To have a car is a privilege in this country. And sometimes there just isn't any gas. Get over it. There might be some tomorrow.

Anyway, back to my shopping experience today. Here is a picture of the stuff we bought:

Wanna take a guess at how much it was? 

It was a grand total of 88,418 colones. That's $177.05! Yep, still shocking.

As you can see, nothing I bought is in bulk quantity.

I would like to break it down here to get an even better idea:

Jiff Extra Crunchy Peanut Butter (first time I've seen it here) - 3115 $6.24
Individual Lime Gatorade - 775 $1.55
Individual Lime Gatorade - 775 $1.55
Strawberry Yogurt with chocolate bits (1) - 650 $1.30
Strawberry Yogurt with chocolate bits (1) - 650 $1.30
Pops Ice Cream Sandwiches (6 in a box) - 2125 $4.26
Package of String Cheese - 4400 $8.81
Life Cereal - 2475 $4.96
Quaker Oatmeal Squares Cereal - 2545 $5.10
Activia Vanilla Yogurt (4 pack) - 3005 $6.02
Activia Vanilla Yogurt (4 pack) - 3005 $6.02
Pantene Naturals Shampoo - 3075 $6.16
Pantene Naturals Shampoo - 3075 $6.16
Pantene Naturals Conditioner - 3075 $6.16 
Pantene Naturals Conditioner - 3075 $6.16
Suave Childrens 2 in 1 Shampoo/Conditioner - 3965 $7.94
Nestle Cini-Minis Cereal - 2830 $5.67
Bananas (6) - 699 $1.40
Nature Valley Peanut Granola Bars - 2995 $6.00
Nature Valley Yogurt Granola Bars - 3045 $6.10
Scott Toilet Paper (12) - 5350 $10.71
Bag of Gala Apples - 3400 $6.81
Ritz Baked Crackers - 2845 $5.70
Green Tea Bags with Honey - 1790 $3.58
Diet Arizona Green Tea in can (1) - 700 $1.40
Diet Mountain Dew can (1) - 475 $.95
Diet Mountain Dew can (1) - 475 $.95
Gallon of Milk - 2150 $4.31
Frozen Tyson Dinosaur Chicken Nuggets - 2555 $5.12
Jacks Brand Chocolate Edible Straws - 475 $.95
Spicy Tuna Roll Sushi Dinner - 5170 $10.35
California Roll Sushi Dinner - 3390 $6.79
Eggo Frozen Cinnamon Waffles - 2945 $5.90
Colgate Toothpaste - 1345 $2.69
Colgate Toothpaste - 1345 $2.69
Bag of 4 Oranges - 1834 $3.67
Small Can of Cashews - 2820 $5.65

Total: 88418 $177.05

I will only vent about this once. Even though it's expensive, I am thankful that these products are available here when we want them. Other missionary friends of ours in other countries don't even have the option. We only shop like this when Will is away, and I'm sure this post will give him a heart attack. Don't worry Will, we'll eat it all!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Ally - 3 months old

Since Ally will be 4 months old tomorrow, I figured it's about time I posted her 3 month old pictures. She is just the tiniest and cutest thing in the world and so happy and laid-back all the time. Maybe she really is a true tica and lives life "pura vida". She sleeps really well and nurses about 5 or 6 times a day. At her 3 month doctor's appointment she weighed 9.9 pounds and was 23.5 inches long. Such a tiny peanut but super strong! She really is our "Tiny T" and brings us all so much joy.

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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Pictures in the Park

A professional photographer was here in November visiting her sister and offered to take pictures for other missionary families one day. It was such a kind gesture and I was praying that Ally would behave. She was in quite the crying stage at this point, but it went really well. We met at Parque Bosque close to our house and she snapped a few that turned out great. I wanted to capture the dynamic of the 3 of them in the beginning stages of this new life together as a family of 5. We are very blessed.

Emma - 8 years old

Jack - 5 years old

Ally - 1 month old


Friday, February 22, 2013

A Night to Remember

The month of December was insane with fireworks. I'm talking, like every single night for hours and hours. And these aren't measly little bottle rockets. These are the mega mumbo jumbo ones! Our house would shake, dogs would bark, babies would cry...you know how it goes. And it was every night. And we had a frightened boy who has a teacher who told him fireworks are dangerous, a daughter who is a light sleeper, and a one month old baby...enough said. At least once the baby is asleep, she's asleep. What a different kind of experience the month of December was for us!

For starters, the weather turns very nice. It's a bit windy, but the rain has finally stopped and it's sunny and 80 degrees every day. It really is amazing. Next there is no Santa Claus here so the malls look a little different. (Baby Jesus is the one who brings a gift for each child.) And then the fireworks are just hard to describe. We had heard that New Years Eve will be unlike anything we've ever seen, and we just weren't sure what to expect. We had a low-key New Year's Eve day watching a Duck Dynasty and Billy the Exterminator marathon on tv and playing Wii games. We had barbecue for dinner and put the baby to bed. Will and the kids went to the park to shoot fireworks with the Gault's and this freaked Jack a little too much. He was really serious about people getting hurt from fireworks and a few got a little too close to Danny. Jack was pretty upset. So we gave Jack the option to go to bed early so he wouldn't be terrified at midnight. He took us up on that offer and went to bed at 10:00.

Then, around 11:45, it started. There were huge major fireworks going off from every household as far as you could see. We have an awesome balcony where we shot off some of our own and watched the skies explode. It was indescribable! So so beautiful! Even in the background you could see fireworks going off on the mountains all around us. People were honking, cheering, yelling and happy as could be. There were even Chinese lanterns being released all over the city and it looked like something from the movie Tangled. Emma was thrilled! It lasted for about an hour and we were frantically calling people to try to give others a glimpse of the awesomeness.

It was truly a night to remember.

Happy New Year!

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Friday, February 1, 2013

Jack Turns 6

Our handsome Jack My Man turned 6 on December 26th. I have always wanted to feel sorry for the boy having a birthday the day after Christmas, but he actually loves it. There's so much excitement going on anyway during this time, and then there's an entire day devoted just to him right after the holidays. He thinks it's great! When we lived in the States I had birthday parties for him in the summer on his half birthday, but he has always been confused about this. He says "but Mom, it's not my birthday". So, we're switching it back to when his real birthday is. It may drive me crazy having all of that going on at one time, but my boy is worth it. We always let him pick whatever he wants to do on the day of his birthday, and then we had a little party with some friends a few weeks later. This is all about his fun day he picked out.

We went to see "Wreck-It Ralph" at the movie theater. It was a really cute movie! All cartoons are dubbed in Spanish here, so that was a bit challenging but we got most of it. And at one point Ally woke up and just sat in my lap and watched the rest of the movie. It was really funny!

Then we went to the Zapote fair that was next door to the mall. During the month of December, we have a fair and nightly bull fights down the street complete with fireworks and lots of traffic. The kids begged to go last year but we never did, so we offered that to Jack for his birthday and he was pumped! It's definitely a whole lot cheaper than the fair in the States. First of all, it's free to get in. They had police checking everyone's bags as we walked in though, so of course the women's line was super long.

Can you find me? And no, I'm not the girl with the cell phone in her pants.

Yep, I'm the glowing white girl completely disgusted with how long I had to stand there...and I didn't even have a purse with me

Here's my birthday boy!

Typical fair...with stray dogs and port-a-potties you had to pay to use. At least that keeps them clean though!

Fair food...quite different

You could pay to have your picture taken with random characters...there was even Barney the dinosaur walking around. Does anyone even watch that anymore?

Will talked Emma into riding her first upside down roller coaster

Will made her ride in the last seat because that's the fastest...poor girl

She did come off with a headache, but she loved it

Sweet kids

Jack wanted to ride a roller coaster too, but something a little smaller.

They had fun

Old-school bumper cars

The kids loved this random spinny fun house thingy. There was a ticket booth at each individual ride you chose. At least that keeps you from having to buy tons of tickets for no reason. And each ride was about a dollar or less. Like I said, WAY cheaper than the fair in the States.

Worn out after fun fair time

Jack's favorite thing in the world

And he wanted to go to dinner at Denny's after because they sing to you. They actually forgot to sing, but I don't think he remembered. He got the huge baseball pancakes and coke. He was a happy guy.

Then Will made him baseball cupcakes at home

And we sang really loud to him

But he really loved it. Haha see Will's mouth in the corner?

Happy 6th Birthday Jack!

Jack, you are such a joy in our lives. I love that I have one special boy that's my middle child who molds everything in our lives together perfectly. You are a kind-hearted boy who cares about others and loves to make others happy. You have a giving heart and I love to see you making things for your friends and family. You are a natural leader and everyone enjoys being around you and being your friend. You are very serious about rules and order and safety (you even opted out of New Year's Eve fireworks because you said they were too dangerous). You are very smart and eager to learn which has been fun to watch. You are such a kind and gentle spirit with your baby sister and she loves to just look at you and smile. Ally always looks for you when she hears you in the room. I love the kisses you blow to me at night and the sweet way you randomly tell me you love me. We have challenges as we strive to be the best parents we can be for you and help mold you into a strong man of God one day. Jack, we love you with all of our heart. There's only one Jack-my-man.