The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

- Robert Frost

the 1 less traveled by

A move to Nicaragua

Browsing Category:

Toddler Tales

Azalea at Surf Ranch

A letter to my 6 year old daughter

I made an email address for my kids and I send them emails every now and again. Every year I make sure I send them an email around their birthday that captures the previous year and what are life is currently like. Here’s my email to Azalea this year:

The 6 Year Old Princess

My Little Wooski,

Oh my goodness have you’ve grown this year! So many sleepovers and after school “play dates”. And, you finally did loose a tooth! Actually two, the two bottom middle ones. The Tooth Fairy brought you $C150 ($3). The second tooth went missing, but wrote a note to the Tooth Fairy and she put money under your pillow anyway.
We’re still living in Nicaragua. We’ve moved into the house we built. Grandpa stayed with us the first few months so Titus & you shared a room. When he moved into a place in town, you didn’t want to switch rooms so you still share. You seem to like it. Its a big messy room full of toys. We don’t have much furniture yet, so you & Titus roll your scooters around the house. We have a bunch a chickens and baby chicks wondering our yard. Raising them has taught you a lot about life & death. We also are sometimes a kitten orphanage. There’s never a shortage of pets around.
Your best friends are Aryel, Thalia, and Chloe. You are all constantly making plans to hang out with each other. You are a kind and thoughtful friend, everybody likes you. You are really easy to care for when you have friends over. You’re starting to do imaginary play. I’ve even heard you playing with Titus this way. You have to tell him what to say, but he goes along. He’s such a good little brother, he loves you so much!
You sort of repeated kindergarten this year at San Juan del Sur Day School, not because you were held back, but because they were more strict on age. You have a wonderful teacher, Lisa who is also my friend and Chloe’s mom. I’m so proud that you are learning to read and write. You have started to show a big interest, asking what things say and for me to write sentences for you to copy. This year you are reading the little books yourself that Teacher Lisa sends home.
You still LOVE art. You draw pictures all day long. You love to make people presents with your art. For your birthday you got a lot of art supplies and you have made very good use of them. One of the best things I’ve ever bought you is a stack of computer printer paper. You go through pages daily!
You also love to dance and sing and put on shows. We have a speaker called “Alexa” and you can push a button and tell it what songs to play. I think you really like to be in charge and make requests. You are still in dance class with Maggie at MÚÚV Dance & Yoga and she says you are doing very well. You recently gave Titus an adorable ballet lesson. I’ve attached the picture. You also just started taking soccer lessons once a week. It was supposed to be just for you, but Titus has joined in and you two seem to be having a lot of fun together.
Your favorite color is still rainbow. Your favorite foods are hot dogs from a can (*yuck), candy, Ritz cheese crackers, candy, fish, and candy. You really like sweet things. I’m constantly telling you that everything you request to eat has sugar in it.
For your birthday this year you wanted to invite boys & girls so we had a “Roller Party” at the Comunidad Connect Sports Park. Everyone brought their skates, roller blades, bikes, and skateboards. Titus got a wheel with flames cut into his hair for you b’day. You requested rainbow cup cakes again, so Daddy ordered them from a local baker. We ordered a bunch of pizza from our friend, Gaspar’s pizza place, Don Monchis. We invited a few of our Nicaraguan friends, but mostly it was kids from your school that came. It was a very easy and fun birthday party. You got a lot of presents and you were very happy. Your favorite present was a baby doll that Grandma Moo gave you. She made all sorts of clothes for her so you change her in the morning, give her baths, feed her… G’ma gave you a 6 week art class session at The Art Warehouse that you love going to.
I wrote you a birthday message on Facebook. I often wonder if Facebook will still be around when you’re older so that you can see all the pictures of you I have posted. I write a blog about our life here in Nicaragua and I will always save that for you to read later. Anyways, here’s what I wrote on Facebook:

Happy 6th Birthday To My Spunky Little Princess!
You’re my soft place to land when I’m down & my source of energy when I rise. You used to think I knew everything & now you are wise.
You are the beauty I longed to be & the creator I never was. You’re my partner in silliness & my enemy because,
You challenge me in ways I never knew could be.
You have my heart & an unbelievably kind soul. You’re growing up too quickly & I’m getting old!
I love you to the moon & back sweet girl, please forever stay bold.

I love you so much my Sweet Princess. You are strong, fierce, and funny. I have enjoyed every minute of watching you grow.
6 year birthday sons for AzaleaAzaleas 6th bday Roller PartyAdults at Azaleas 6th bdayTitus bday hair for AzaleaBallet lessons for TitusReleasing baby turtles in Nica 2017Azalea and orphan kittensAzalea helping Titus with artAzaleas first lost toothMommy and the kids at the Nica Zoo
Titus is 3

A Letter to My 3 Year Old Son

I made an email address for my kids and I send them emails every now and again. Every year I make sure I send them an email around their birthday that captures the previous year and what are life is currently like. Here’s my email to Titus this year:

Can’t Believe You’re 3!

My Little Man,

I’m always bragging about how I email you guys on your birthday and then I forgot to do it this year. But I have a really good excuse! A huge tropical storm attached to Hurricane Nate ripped through Nicaragua on your birthday!
We had been battling the heavy rains for a couple of days, with mud coming in through the back door a couple of nights. Poor Grandpa & Grandma Moo were in town for your birthday. They hunkered down in the apartment they rented. We had planned ahead and had plenty of food, water, and of course birthday presents.
The day of your birthday the winds hit. We got you a “digger” that my parents had muled in for us. The winds didn’t stop you once that thing was put together. You were out in the wet gusts scooping up the leftover gravel from our construction.
Daddy put a damper on our birthday celebration. Our internet went out and Daddy wanted to go check to see if Surf Ranch, the resort down the street had internet. With nothing much else to do in the middle of a huge storm, we all got in the car to accompany him. As soon as we pulled out of our property we saw that a tree had fallen in the road and blocked our way. Daddy decided to grab a machete and saw to clear the tree. While swinging the machete through a branch it slipped out of his hand and bounced off the ground, hitting his thumb when it ricocheted. It was bad! You could see a piece of bone splinter resting on top of his cut. I wrapped it in gauze from the first aid kit we keep in the car ever since your first birthday. The problem is there’s a river that wraps around the neighborhood we live in and it was too full to cross. We had to wait until the next day to take Daddy to the hospital. I think everything turned out ok, but he’ll forever have a “Monster Finger” after your 3rd birthday. Our family is going to have to keep sharp things away from their fingers on your birthday, this is twice on your birthday someone cut themselves!
Sadly, once we were able to leave our neighborhood we went into town and saw all the destruction that had occurred. In the picture below is our friend Joey’s boat washed onto the beach. It is the same boat we were on for Christmas last year. It was truly heart breaking to see this and the other boats all washed to shore. Nicaragua was hit very hard by this storm and there were great efforts put forward to help the locals recover from the flooding.
A few days after your birthday we were able to throw a small party for you. Like last year it was mostly our Nicaraguan “family”. We had our house cleaner, Juanita and her family, the cuidador’s family from our old house, and our cuidador’s family from the house we built, and Grandpa & Grandma Moo. We went to pizza, which is one of your favorites and then bought everyone ice cream from the ice cream shop after. Besides the digger your favorite toy was a remote control bulldozer.
We are now living in the house we built! We still have a lot to do to complete it, but we decided to save on the rent and move in. You and Azalea were supposed to have your separate rooms, but you like being together, so you still share. You still sleep in a crib we had made for you, but we plan on getting you a twin bed like your “Sissy” soon.
Daddy is the one who usually gives you both a bath before bed and then I read to you guys, sing songs, and then either sit or lay with you in your crib while you have a sippie cup of milk. You love to snuggle and it melts my heart when you request it. You’re an early riser and you always want to watch your tablet and “snuggle” in the mornings. You take a bit to wake up, so its the perfect ease into your day.
You’re still absolutely the funniest person I know, and you love being funny. You make me cry laughing on the regular. You have sweet dance moves that are always changing day to day. You’re “its stinky face” makes me laugh out loud. You’re so comfortable in your skin and its amazing to watch you be you.
You just started playing soccer. You were supposed to just be there to watch “Sissy”, but you joined in and are doing a great job! The coach even commented on how fast you are! Of course Daddy is happy that we’re succeeding in making athletes.
You really want to learn how to skateboard. Our friend Sean is letting you borrow one and I think you’d sleep with it if I let you. You started watching videos about skateboarding and you’d really like to jump it.
You favorite foods right now are peanut butter on a spoon (“maní spoon), peeled apple, fresh bread we get from a German bakery, pizza, and the bags of sliced mangos we can buy from the street vendors. You are still a bit shy at first, but are a crazy little boy once you’re warmed up. You still rock a mohawk and are about the most handsome little boy I’ve ever seen. We’re in trouble with you, little charmer.
You’re still a Mama’s Boy and cry most Mondays when I drop you off at your school, Esceula Adelante. It always breaks my heart, but when I pick you up your are always so happy with that magical smile of yours. You speak a lot of Spanish at school and I really love that place for you. You recently graduated up a level and are very proud to be a “big boy” now. You are a good boy and I hardly ever hear that you are acting up. We have an amazing relationship. I love you in a way I never knew I could love someone, even after having your sister. I look at you and I melt. When I’m around you all I want to do is hold your hand and be close to you. You are so fun to be silly with and you always play along with my childish games. You are sensitive and can get your feelings hurt easily, but I think that is part of what makes you you. You have a big heart and I look forward to watching it grow and spread out into the world.
I love you Buddy, and not a day goes by that I don’t tell you that multiple times.
Digger in a hurricaneHurricane BirthdayBoats washed up from the hurricane
Kharron bloody thumbSanta and The Reid FamilyTitus graduates up a levelTitus is always happy at a poolFamily on a vacation to Costa Rica


Santa and The Reid Family

Christmas in Nicaragua

Christmas time in Nicaragua is a lot of fun. We’ve spent the last 3 in San Juan del Sur and wouldn’t change it for paying the expensive airfare to go back to California and be part of the typical American Christmas hustle that no one even seems to enjoy. When I speak with my friends back in the States around Christmas time they sound exhausted. All the parties, family visits, and pressure to get the overpriced “it” toy overwhelms the joy of Christmas.

Nativity scene in the parkThe Christmas spirit is alive and well in Nicaragua. The first sign that Christmas is coming is the lights go up in the central park. The nativity scene is built and Santa can be seen meandering around for photo opportunities, along with his hat-peddling Elf. This year there were coin operated rides as well as a man with a bike who pulled train-like carts.

Drunk SnowmanEvery year Elisha & Gord from In Nica Now host a Sandman competition. This event is great fun for both kids and adults. There is a panel of judges and prizes are given out.

12 Pubs of Christmas




They also host an event, 12 Pubs of Christmas SJDS. This year it was the 4th annual and I heard it was a blast. It starts at 1 pm and the goal is to do 1 pub an hour. Those who show up late, can show up at the designated pub for that hour. My husband and I have never attended for fear of the recovery, but from what I am told, much fun is had.


MUUV Dance RecitalMy daughter takes dance classes at MÚÚV Dance & Yoga. Last year the kid & adult students put together a dance recital. It was so fun to watch. The smaller kids had a Nutcracker theme and had little mouse noses. Tourists and locals got to enjoy this amazing show at the popular restaurant on the beach El Timon.

Last year some of the moms in San Juan del Sur started a tradition by going to see the Nutcracker at the theater in Managua. Its a one night show, so there’s a bit of a scramble to make sure we know what day it is on and get tickets right away. It is such a fun tradition getting all dressed up, going to dinner, seeing the show, then taking over a hotel and playing until late at night.

Nutcracker    Fancy Azalea ready for the playBus ride is always fun
Snow Princess    Kids with Snow Prince & Princess

I’ve helped organize Santa coming to town for the last 3 years. He comes to a restaurant on the beach, which makes for a great photo backdrop. We’re very lucky to have Ralph & his wife in our community who volunteer not only for our Santa, but for other events around San Juan del Sur. They put on quite a show with music and dancing. One of the photographers in our town takes the photos for us.
Reids & Santa 2016Reid Family & Santa 2015
Reids Reading Letters


Santa pinata at cookie decorating partyThe last event of the season is always the Christmas Cookie Decorating Party. In the years past it was held at Gato Negro, an amazing breakfast and coffee shop that unfortunately closed down this year. Lucky for us The Art Warehouse stepped in and carried on this tradition. For only $C10 (about $.30) you can buy a sugar cookie for the kids to decorate. Its a great event to mingle and enjoy the jolly Christmas vibes. This year there was even a Santa piñata that was a huge hit for the kids!

Christmas day for my family is usually very relaxing. We spend the morning unwrapping presents, putting toys together, and playing with all the new gear. Last year Azalea got a bike and we practice her riding it. This year Titus got his own scooter, so the kids enjoyed racing around the house all morning. Last year in the afternoon we had an amazing time on our friend’s boat, which sadly fell victim to Hurricane Nate and still lays on the beach in town. This year we spent Christmas with a small group of friends and their families. The kids had a blast playing while the adults enjoyed a relaxing afternoon with no pressure.

I really do enjoy the holiday season here. There is so little pressure to “keep up with the Joneses”. I decorate our small fake tree, go to a potluck dinner, and enjoy my family and friends – just like the Nicaraguan’s do.

Christmas tree 2016Azalea drives the Chrismas boatChristmas on the boat 2016


Ze's finger wrapped up

Injured While Abroad

When I read that the nearest hospital would be 2 1/2 hours from where we would be living in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua, I felt a tinge of unsettling fear. Being a mother of 2 young kids, I’m fully aware that a serious injury could happen at any moment.

Seans viewThis fear got even more real after we moved and I discovered that the way most of the houses with ocean views are built here in San Juan del Sur are with very beautiful, but unsafe patios. I practically have a heart attack each time I find myself in one of these homes with my kids. Rope railing are great for an unobstructed view, but I just can’t see the beauty through the images one of my children plummeting to their death.

Ze's fingerIt took 7 1/2 months before we got a personal look at the free medical system in Nicaragua. On my son, Titus’s, 1st birthday my daughter, Azalea, reached up into a snow cone machine and cut what looked like the tip of her finger off. There was so much blood! We found the piece of finger and put it on ice (but not directly, as a retired firefighter party guest advised us) and rushed to the clinic in town. Knowing this would be a Spanish-only situation, we brought my friend’s Nicaraguan husband who knew where the hospitals were and could speak both languages. We were told at the clinic in town that we could wait 30 minutes, but they would probably send us to the closest “city” Rivas, so we opted to just head there. We parked and our friend carried Azalea through the front door and straight to the back demanding that she be seen. Only two people were allowed in the hospital with Azalea, so my husband had to wait outside in the waiting area. The doctors looked at the piece of finger and determined that there was no bone in it and it was only the pad that she had cut off. They asked if we’d rather they sew it or bandage it. Titus' first birthdayI don’t have a medical background, so why they were asking me was puzzling. We decided that with her screams of pain and intense fear, it was best to only clean it and wrap it. As her finger healed, I was so happy that this was the decision that we had made. She had cut a pretty large circle off the pad of her finger. To stitch it, the skin would have had to pucker and the healing would not have looked as even. We left the hospital in Rivas after about 20 minutes with no bill to pay. Azalea decided she wanted to go back to the birthday party where we had left all of our friends and Titus with my parents. She was such a brave girl and recovered quickly enough to even have a turn at the piñata.

Exactly 2 years later on Titus’ 3rd birthday we had a tropical storm that was connected to Hurricane Nate whip through Nicaragua. Our internet went out with the high winds and we decided to head over to the resort, Surf Ranch, down the street to see if they had internet. They use the same provider as we do, so if their’s was still up, then it was something having to do with our home system and not the company. As soon as we pulled out of our property we found a downed tree blocking the road. Tree across the roadWith little to do that day, my husband decided to go get our machete and saw to try to unblock the road. It was raining outside, so the kids and I made fun in the car while Daddy worked on the tree. (pic) Once a large piece was cut free we tied it to the car to drag it away from the road. There was one small final branch in the way, and Kharron used the machete to slice through it. Easier than expected, the machete glided right through the branch and slipped out of Kharron’s wet hand. Unluckily, it bounced off the dirt road and ricocheted back, hitting the knuckle of his thumb. I heard him shout, “I cut my thumb! I cut my thumb!” As he walked towards the car clutching his wrist. I could see drops of blood rolling off his hand. There was a small white sliver of a bone resting on top of his open knuckle wound. Kharron bloody thumbWe have a river that wraps around our neighborhood, so when there is a lot of rain it gets high enough where we cannot leave until it goes down. Usually this is just for an hour, but in the middle of this tropical storm, it might be days until the rained stopped. Knowing we were stuck, uncharacteristically calmly went to the back of our SUV and retrieved a medical kit my mom had left us after Azalea’s finger incident. I rolled the kit out, assessing my options, and went for the gauze and medical tape, wrapping as tightly, but gently as I could.

It was 30 hours before we made it to the Rivas hospital. We had no translator this time, but hoped our years of being in the country would get us through even the medical terminology. Immediately the doctors started talking about admitting Kharron into the hospital for 3 days. The Rivas hospital is dirty and full of cats in the outside corridors. It is not someplace one wants to sleep even for 1 night, forget about 3. We started looking at other options and called Vivian Pellas, the private hospital in Managua. They would not be able to see Kharron until the next day, so we decided if the doctor was just going to do a local anesthetic, then we’d stay and have it cleaned and stitched in Rivas. If they wanted to put him under and do something more severe then we’d wait the day and go to the better hospital. The doctor ensured that he would do a local and just clean and suture it and Kharron would only have to spend one night. We agreed and I left the hospital to run home and get our own sheets, a pillow, and a change of clothes for Kharron. When I got back an hour later they told me he was still in surgery. I waited outside the door for over an hour. Finally they wheel him out in a chair with a huge bandage over his thumb. He told me that they put him under and he thought they put “clavitos” or “little nails” in it. We asked the nurse wheeling him, but couldn’t get a straight answer. Kharron started to get pretty serious about not wanting to spend the night. We asked for a prescription for the antibiotics they were going to give him and to sign him out. Reluctantly they handed over the paperwork, but refused to give us a prescription.

Kharron thumb with pinsTwo days later we headed to Managua for an appointment with a joint specialist. He unwrapped Kharron’s finger for the first time since his surgery and we could immediately see that it was infected. He took x-rays and noted the fracture. He performed surgery right away. Removing some of the infected skin, cutting further down to find the tendon and reattach it (that’s right, the first surgeon never attached it), and removed one of the 3 pins. We left the next day on a two week trip back to California. Kharron spent every morning re-wrapping it and making sure that the sore stayed dry.  A few days after we returned to Nicaragua we went back to the doctor to get the pins taken out. We had a good laugh during this appointment as the doctor not only told us about another Gringo patient of his from San Juan del Sur, but actually showed us pictures from her arm surgery. The doctor-patient confidentiality is slightly more relaxed in Nicaragua!

26613004_10213610307506264_759965024_oKharron saw a new physical therapist in town a few days after getting the pins removed. He still cannot bend it, but we are told that this is normal and fingers heal slow. He now has a Frankenstein finger and is forever changed by Nicaragua and Hurricane Nate.

When you hear a country offers free public healthcare, before getting getting too excited, it is important to understand what level of care is provided. In my daughter’s case, the incident was mild enough that using the national health system was sufficient and I was appreciative that even as a foreigner we were seen and cared for completely free of charge. On the reverse side I was severely disappointed by my husband’s care. After the first surgery and waking up surprised to have pins in his thumb we heard lots of stories about how that hospital is known for cutting off fingers and experimental surgeries. I feel sad for a majority of the locals who have no other choice but to use the public healthcare. How hopeless they must feel at times when receiving improper care at a dirty hospital. I quote the surgeon at Vivian Pellas who said while looking through our pictures from the Rivas hospital, “It is a shame. Cleanliness doesn’t cost anything.” One of the bacteria Kharron had was something you can only get from hospitals. Now that is sad.


Titus at the school bus stop

A Letter to my 2 Year Old Son

I made an email address for my kids and I send them emails every now and again. Every year I make sure I send them an email around their birthday that captures the previous year and what are life is currently like. Here’s my email to Titus this year:

Two Years Down

Hey Buddy,

I’m behind on writing you this email. You turned 2 years old 4 months ago.

We’ve had a fun this year living in Nicaragua. You’ve started going to preschool at school in town called Escuela Adelante. You cried a little at drop-off for the first month, but now you march right in and I have to pull you back for a kiss. I really love the little school you go to. Most of the kids are Nicaraguan who’s parents want them to learn English so there is a lot of Spanish spoken there. It truly is a bilingual school. You have a special connection with your Nicaraguan teacher. You guys always play a game of who owns your backpack. Its in Spanish, “Mia!” “No mia!” “Mi mochila.” “No, mi mochila!” Its really cute. I love hearing you speak Spanish.

Your language has progressed amazingly! You were speaking about 50% Spanish, but then Azalea became your hero and you like to say what she says so you started speaking mostly English. Our house cleaner, Juanita, was worried because she didn’t understand what you were saying anymore. Recently you started speaking more Spanish again and to my surprise, you already can distinguish between who to speak which language to. The cuiador to the development we live in has a daughter who is 9 and a son who is only a few months older than you. You and Azalea hang out with them a lot and I think this has really helped your language.

We bought 1.74 acres of land in Sept and we’ve started building a 3 bedroom house and a small studio/cabina G’ma is building. We spend a lot of time at “the property”. You love being there. There are a ton of dirt piles for you to play with your toy tractors in. You and Azalea find sticks to play with. Daddy & I love watching you guys play with things you find in nature. We hope to build 3 more cabinas, then one day sell it as a bed & breakfast…or maybe we’ll hold on to it, you never know.

A typical week day is that you kids wake up around 6am. We leave the house for school around 8am. We take Azalea to her school bus stop first, then get you to school around 8:30am. I work with Daddy, go to the gym, or do errands while you’re in school, then pick you up at 11:45am. We either run errands together, go to the park, or go home for a little bit before picking Azalea up at 12:45pm. Daddy comes home everyday at 1pm for lunch. The only thing we can get you to eat these days is tortilla with peanut butter. You call it “tortilla maní”. You and Azalea usually watch your tablets while Daddy, Juanita, and I eat. Then at 2pm your nanny, Grethel (pronounced Gretel) comes and Daddy & I go check out the progress on our property, then go to work. Juanita goes home for the day at 2pm. You nap most of the time Grethel is with you, from about 2:30pm to 5pm. I get back at 5pm and after you wake up we usually play with the neighbors until it starts to get dark or I need to start cooking dinner. You got a bike for Christmas, so now you & Azalea both have bikes. You just started being able to get the peddle all the way around and you are so proud of yourself! Daddy gets home around 6:30pm most days and we eat dinner together. You might as well be a vegetarian so you usually either eat another tortilla with peanut butter or possibly rice or pasta. Sometimes you’ll have soup. The only meat you will eat is chicken on the bone or bacon. Daddy and I trade off giving you and Azalea a bath together. Daddy is the one who reads you books and puts you to bed. Its a special time he gets to share with you. Also when I put you to bed it takes an hour. You make me get in your crib and lie down with you, sing you songs. Sometimes I fall asleep with you. We’ve been trying to get you in bed around 8pm, but some nights its as late as 8:30pm or 9pm if we went out.

We had a very mellow birthday for you this year, especially after last year! We just had Grandma Moo, us, Juanita’s family, and the Nicaraguan neighbors come over for dinner and cake. It was nice having a small party with the local people who love you. You and our friend’s son, Gasparcito have the same birthday so you had a big party at your school. You got your tablet as your big birthday present and it was perfect timing for you.

About you – You are still the happiest person I know besides your father. You have such a great smile, its the best thing to wake up to. You would rather run than walk anywhere, but you still enjoy “uppy” when we’re in town walking around. Sometimes you’ll walk yourself and we play “salta” and jump over every crack in the sidewalk. The only shoes you will wear right now is your sister’s pink Crocs. I was going to buy you something like them, but in a “boy color”, but I decided to just let you rock them. Why not? You’ve also gotten really good on Azalea’s pink scooter. You whiz around the resort by our house called Surf Ranch. We just got you a cool mohawk helmet. Speaking of, you have had a mohawk most of your life. I just recently cut the back off just to try something different, but you’re definitely a cool kid. You love saying, “Hola” out the window to strangers we pass in the car. You can be shy at first, but when you warm up, you know no strangers. You are a handsome little guy, and people love interacting with you. You are pretty much potty trained for poops, you like to bring your tablet with you, or a toy and take your time. You tell me, “Go away Mommy.” when I come to check on you.

We have a really special relationship, you’re a bit of a Mommy’s Boy right now and I think sometimes it makes your dad a little sad that you’re always calling for me, want to be on my lap, want me to put you to bed, read you books, etc. But from what my friends say, that’s normal. Personally I love our close bond. Living here in Nicaragua where I don’t have to work full time I’ve been able to spend a lot of time with you and really enjoy watching you grow. We play together and are goofy every day. I love you so much and I tell you all day, every day.

I’m writing you this email while sitting next to your dad at the office, he says, “Whattup?” We share an office with a friend named Sean and he says, “Hey.” You are surrounded by so many people who love you near and far.

Love you my Little Buddy,


Escuela Adelante  Steam Roller
Titus' 2nd birthday  Halloween 2016
Christmas 2016  Christmas on the boat
Potty and rifle   Monte Verde Costa Rica
Blowing out candles

Azalea Turns 5

Letter to my daughter after her 5th birthday

Hey Little Woo,

First off, I can’t believe you’re 5! I feel like your officially a kid, not a toddler. Of course I also don’t feel old enough to have raised a kid. : )
All you really want to happen this year is for your teeth to start falling out. You have a little obsession with this and the tooth fairy coming. I’m listening carefully to what the tooth fairy does so I know what to do.
We’re still living in Nicaragua and in fact, just decided to stay an extra year. I’m hoping this will create more memories for you here so that will always remember when you lived in Nicaragua as a kid. We’re building a house that we’re going to move into in the next couple months and then when we move back to California we’ll rent it. G’ma is also building a casita, so she is here while we try to get both finished enough to live in.
At school you’re slowly learning to read and write. Teacher Lisa is always telling me how smart and kind you are. You guys just learned about weather and evaporation. You really loved the science lessons, and I’ve loved listening to you tell me everything you have learned and teaching your brother.
You’re such a good big sister to him (most of the time). He looks up to you so much and just thinks the world of you. He even wears your old pink shoes, probably knowing that they were once yours.
You’re taking dance still with our friend Maggie. She too says that you are doing so well and are beyond the other kids your age. I love watching you perform and you always get a very proud look in your eyes.
You absolutely love doing art. You draw several pictures a day at the house and even more at school. There’s a new art studio in town so for your birthday we had your party there. You seemed to really like it and all the kids got to paint their own creation on a board and take it home. Your pinata was The Little Mermaid. We went to Rivas to pick it out with Grandma Moo one day. I let you pick out all the candy and toys that we put inside of it as well.
You’re getting bigger and more responsible. You now have 1 chore, to feed the dogs, and you are very good at it. I give $C2 ($.20) each time. You use the money mostly to buy chips for yourself, Titus, and the neighbor kids.
You still say your favorite color is rainbow. Your favorite food is fried fish eyes, canned octopus, and tomatoes with salt. You are a very strange eater, but a lot like G’Ma. You still love unicorns, so Grandma Moo hand sewed you a giant stuffed unicorn. You also still love dressing up, so we had a princess closet made for you. It looks great and it makes it easy for you to see which dress & accessories you want to wear.
You like a lot of undivided attention, I think its how you feel the most loved. You were so sweet this morning, I told you last night that I wanted to get some cuddles from you today because I didn’t get much yesterday. The first thing you said as you walked into my bedroom and woke Daddy & I up was, “Okay Mom, you’re going to get your cuddles now.” It was so cute that you remembered and I loved lying in bed with you, breathing in your smell and feeling your skinny body snuggled against mine as I slowly began to wake up.
I love you my Baby Girl. You made me a Mommy, you challenge me daily, and you are what makes my life great.  Looking forward to another year of watching you grow.
Azalea painting  Titus painting
Showing off their art  Pinata time
Unicorn from Grandma Moo  Princess Closet present
I'll never forget this moment and that feeling

Weaning a Toddler off the Breast

The Big Wean

At 18 months, I decided it was time to wean my son off the boob.  Well, actually before we moved to Nicaragua, Titus’ US pediatrician suggested that since we were moving to a foreign country, that I breast feed him for at least this long to ensure he was getting enough vitamins, nutrients, and disease fighting substances.

Since he is my last baby, this event was bittersweet for me. I had been preparing myself emotionally for “The Ache” for months, as Sarah Bessey so eloquently put it in her article, “In Which I am Learning to Live with the Ache“.  Some nights I loathed the experience, especially when I had to excuse myself from a social gathering so I could go isolate myself in his room and quietly rock him to sleep while breastfeeding. But I have always been thankful that I was able to produce enough milk to sustain both my kids for the first year of their life. Breastfeeding forced me to slow down, look into their eyes, touch their skin tenderly, and hold their tiny hands.

As with Azalea I gave myself a month to completely wean. Titus was feeding usually 4 times a day, so I planned on just dropping one feeding a week. This had worked well with Azalea and I was able to transfer her to milk out of a sippie cup with extraordinary ease. I worried Titus would be a bit more of a problem since he wasn’t a huge lover of milk and never used a pacifier.

The first two days went great. My plan was to drop one of the afternoon nursing sessions, whichever naturally seemed easier, but both feedings dropped in the first two days. The morning and night time feedings were a bit more difficult. I continued on & off with these two, and sometimes the before nap feeding for the next 8 months.

For me, I found that when I was only nursing him once or sometimes twice a day, it didn’t seem that important to me to cut him off anymore. The pressure was lifted. It didn’t have to be a well thought out plan with a definitive ending. Some mornings if he woke up early and I wasn’t ready to get up, I’d nurse him in bed, trying to get a few more minutes of sleep. Our nanny put Titus down for a nap several days a week, so I was off the hook for a lot of those feedings. Then Kharron, wanting to spend some extra time with his son after being away at work most of the day, began being the primary bedtime parent for Titus. On those nights he got a bottle of milk with Daddy. On the one or two nights a week Kharron was tired, had something else he needed to do, or I wanted to spend some quiet time with my Little Man at the end of his day, then I would give him a bottle of milk and when that was finished, nurse him to sleep.

Recently one night after I gave him the bottle and he asked for “Boo boo” I declined. My heart melted when he replied with a sad little “Why?” But as a mom, I felt like we were both ready. His long body draped across mine was starting to get awkward and harder to hold comfortably to my breast. If not held just right his head would not hit the wood of the rocking chair and his legs would roll off of mine. I whispered to him, “Its time” and he settle into the crook of my arm and fell asleep.

Titus and MeThree weeks ago I breast fed for my last time. I hadn’t realized it was the last. There was no special moment of taking it all in, a mental note, a saying goodbye to this motherly duty. As much of a task this sometimes was for me, I will have “The Ache” for those quiet moments him & I shared. I know that its okay to ache, its part of real life. It means I’m loving my life, loving it enough to notice the transitions.

Dino Park

Dinosaur Park in Nindiri

IMG_20161130_112606Azalea’s school, San Juan del Sur Day School, has been studying prehistoric times. They’ve learned about cavemen, fossils, and dinosaurs. The teachers of the classes for kids ages 3-5 decided to take a trip to Parquesaurio de Nindirí to see the local park that had 5 dinosaur statues in the grounds. I jumped at the opportunity to volunteer to chaperone.

We took the one and a half hour trip in a rented big, air conditioned van. It was a great field trip! This community park is open to the public with no entrance fees, and has the added bonus of these giant dinosaur statues. It is situated about 30 minutes outside Managua, so a great stop if you are making the trip to and from Managua to San Juan del Sur or other more Southern towns. I also hear that the dinosaurs light up at night!

Dino Park Bronto  Dino Park TRex

Dino Park2  IMG_20161130_120129