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

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Toddler Tales

Woo in Puerto Viejo

How to vacation in style and on the cheap

Living in Nicaragua – Vacation from Paradise

We just took our first real vacation since moving to Nicaragua over a year ago. We honestly thought we’d do more of this, but then life happens, and *poof* a year goes by. We are only on a tourist VISA in Nicaragua, which means every 90 days we need to exit the country and re-enter to renew our VISA. This time instead of leaving and entering turn-style, we made a vacation out of it It was well worth the wait, Puerto Viejo – Costa Rica was beautiful! A couple things we learned:

1. Bring your nanny

Nicaragua has strong labor laws, so we’d have to pay our house cleaner/nanny her salary while we were away. So, we decided why not bring her? Since we were going to another country we needed to either pay for an 8 day pass or get her a passport. We decided to go with the passport since this was in the best interest of our future vacations. It ended up costing $50 for the passport and $33 for 3 month VISA to Costa Rica. At the borders we also paid for her taxes ($9) and entrance ($2).

It was great having an extra hand to help with the kids. My husband, Kharron and I were able to have conversations over dinner, go swimming together, rent bikes for a self-directed pub crawl, and go to a movie. Kharron worked some while we were on vacation and having Juanita there meant I could enjoy some individual time with one of the kids while the other napped.

2. Pay for a cuiador

We have 2 dogs and a cat who are used to a certain degree of lifestyle which includes sleeping indoors and meals promptly served. Juanita’s husband is not only a trusted friend, but also cheap labor. It cost us $10 for the 5 days were were gone for him to make sure the cat’s bowl had food, that there was water in the bowl outside, feed the dogs breakfast and let them out for the day, then feed them dinner and lock them in the house for the night. One of our dogs needs to take an incontinence pill twice a day and he even administered that for us so we didn’t come back to a home smelling of urine. Our dogs spend most of the day outside anyway, following our community’s gardener around, so I’m sure they were happy with this routine.

3. Rent a car and make sure you print your credit card’s insurance coverage

This is a mistake we made, but we won’t let it happen again. In Costa Rica if you decline the rental company coverage, they need to validate that your credit card will cover, otherwise they will need to take a very large deposit and you have to pay for their coverage. It would have been very simple for us to print the policy out to give to the rental agency. Instead it cost us a lot more money than intended and a lot of fuss before our long drive.

4. Reserve early

If you’re going anywhere during high season, make sure you reserve your hotel early and compare prices at the various reservation websites. Our hotel in San Jose had a deal running on Expedia the week we were there. We ended up having to move hotels while in Puerto Viejo and our options were very limited.


Azalea hitting the pinata

Birthday Parties in Nicaragua

Azalea Turns 4

I created emails for both of my kids when they were born. My first email to each of them is about the day they were born. I also write to them after life changing events (like moving to Nicaragua), and always on their birthday. Here’s my letter to Azalea:

My Spunky Little Girl,

You are such a fire cracker! You have a lot to say and a lot to do.
For your 4th birthday we kept it small and had about six 4ish year old girls come over to the house. Our friend, Sean’s girlfriend (Maggie) taught you all a dance routine to Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off,” and you all preformed for the parents when they came to pick their daughter’s up. We rented a small jumpy house and I made mac & cheese and cupcakes. You girls had a blast playing with your toys and dress up clothes that you hardly ate anything. Grandma Moo came to Nicaragua for your birthday and bought you an abundance of gifts. You two have a very special relationship. You enjoy playing with her. For some reason most of the day you ended up wearing the rainbow tutu she got you, a head band, and face paint. Looking at the pictures I have to laugh that you were topless almost your entire 4th birthday party. I hope this isn’t the start to something!
You’ve recently gone from saying some words in Spanish to trying to put sentences together. Our gardener moved into the garage in our development and you’ve really enjoyed playing with his 8 year old daughter. You ask me daily how to say things in Spanish so you can communicate with her. 
You tell long stories and just started saying, “I’m just joking, Mom.” You make long verbal lists of things in your stories, it been amazing to watch your vocabulary grow! 
You’ve gotten pretty good on your scooter and we take you to a skate park down the street at Surf Ranch Resort. Dad & I love to take video of you there. You are an amazing swimmer. I swear you get better every week. Last weekend we went to a birthday party and you swam all afternoon in the pool with the big kids. People always comment about your skills. You’ve just started going deeper into the ocean. Its so fun to play with you in the waves. You have started taking ballet classes with Maggie and you seem to really enjoy it. I know G’Ma is going to love seeing you in class when she comes to visit soon. Your art has improved so much. Last night you drew a picture and I could tell exactly what it was. You love to draw. You always come home from school with pictures you’ve drawn for me, Daddy, or Titus. I wonder if you’ll grow into an artist one day.
You are very cuddly with me and I enjoy having you in my arms, on my lap, or cuddled up in bed. My favorite time of the day is reading you a book in my bed before your bedtime. You also usually cuddle with me in the morning for a little bit before getting up for the day.
I love you so much my sweet Little Woo! You make life more fun. I’m so proud to be your Mommy!

Sleeping training 2 kids in 1 room can be difficult

How to sleep train two siblings in one room

Two kids, one room

A three bedroom North American style home seems to be hard to find in San Juan del Sur. Both homes we’ve lived in have been two bedroom. There does seem to be plenty of five bedroom homes, but not only is that excessive for our family of four, it is also out of our price range.

With the help of In Nica Now we looked for a three bedroom home to move into initially, but were unable to find one that worked for our family. Having a two bedroom first home ended up not being problem when we first moved here since Titus was still very young and nursing a lot at night. It was convenient to have him in a Pack ‘n Play in our room.

It wasn’t until our second house, and my desire to sleep through the night, that this predicament became apparent. Surely people do this everywhere. While driving past the local’s small shack-like homes, I started feeling guilty that this was such a dilemma for me.  I know a lot of Nicaraguans have to all share a bed or sleep in hammocks and I was fussing over how to put two kids in one room in their own beds!

After some bad moods and a few tears arising from lack of sleep, my husband Kharron Googled some modus operandi. We thought the one that made the most sense was to try to get the kids to go to bed at the same time. This would mean Azalea would go to sleep an hour before her usual time and Titus would have to wait an extra 30 minutes for his bedtime. It also meant a race through cooking dinner, eating dinner, bath time, books, & nursing Titus.

The following night we had it all planned out, taking advise from a blog we found “Its time to sleep train the baby” – I would bath both kids and then nurse Titus while Azalea got to play in the tub a little longer. We would both read books so one person could hold Titus, then off to bed for both. We read and followed all the advise about how to prep your toddler for the crying baby in their room and how often to go in and check on both participants.

First night we missed our targeted time of 7pm by 30 minutes. I don’t mean to say that both kids were asleep by 7:30pm, what I mean is that we didn’t even start the adventure until then. It didn’t go well after that. There were many tears and lots of explaining. In the end once the kids were finally asleep it was time for us to go to sleep as well.

Reluctantly we attempted the same process again the next night, but about half way through it we realized that this wasn’t for us. We let Azalea get out of bed and watch a show while I got Titus to sleep. Then once Titus was asleep and it was Azalea’s normal bed time I escorted her to bed explaining that she needed to be quiet. I bribed her with the promise of a donut in the morning if she didn’t wake her brother.

Now we are settled into our two-kids-in-one-room routine and it is going fairly smoothly. We still bath the kids together, but after bath Azalea gets to watch a show on her tablet or sometimes we have a late dinner. At 7:30pm Titus waves goodnight to everyone and gets rocked in the rocking chair and one last nursing session before being put in his Pack ‘n Play bed. Sometimes he gives a couple cries as I shut the door, but he is usually asleep in no time. At around 8pm I read a couple books to Azalea in our bed, then we brush teeth, go potty and she gives goodnight kisses. She now knows that she needs to be very quiet in her room and she hardly ever wakes her brother.

Now I need to figure out how to get only one kid to wake up at a time. Its seems one is always waking the other which makes a zero-to-sixty feel to the start of the day.

American Mindset

Exorcising the North American Mindset

When I first moved to Nicaragua I felt myself getting frustrated easily. I’d put my hands up & mumble obscenities to myself when the the drivers around me did something “stupid”. I’d rush around people strolling aimlessly in the streets and wonder how people could be so self-centered to not notice that someone behind them wanted to walk at a normal pace. I would get impatient with waiters, secretly calculating their low tip in my head. I’d rush my kids through their daily routines, hurry to start the next game, or rush out the gate after dropping off my daughter at school.  My husband even told me I seemed angry a lot. Of course I was mad, why was everyone moving so damn slow?!

It hit me one day as I drove my daughter Azalea to school, passing fields of horses and sheep and hearing her shout out “Caballo!” with glee. Why was I in such a hurry?? Did I really need to be anywhere at a certain time? The drop off at San Juan del Sur Day School is anywhere from 8am-9am, this leaves me plenty of time to go at the natural pace of each morning.

Its taken some mental forcing to change my American mindset from the go-go-go of the North to the more chill pace of Nicaragua. I had to take some deep breaths at times and remind myself that 99% of the time in reality, I am in no hurry. There are only a few times a week that I need to be somewhere at an exact time and that includes the twice a week I volunteer at Barrio La Planta Project. Even there, class usually starts late because the parents of the students are not in a rush.

So now when I drive Azalea to school I enjoy the drive. We sing about the day of the week or practice Spanish words for the animals we pass. I play the songs she requests and listen to her sweet voice stumbling over the lyrics. When I drop her off I stay awhile. I have causal chats with the teachers or other parents. I go for a pleasureful run on the beach before leisurely doing my grocery shopping, knowing I have plenty of time to visit the many shops needed to complete a meal. If my 9 month old, Titus is still asleep when I get home I do some yoga…or not. I read, prepare lunch, or sit on the floor with my baby and savor his delicious giggle. I talk to our house cleaner, Juanita, my Spanish lesson for the day.

If Titus cries when I put him down to sleep, I don’t mind picking him back up.  What’s another five minutes? In Nicaragua, I have five more minutes. Five more minutes to hold my precious boy who is growing up so fast. Five more minutes to imprint his puffy baby cheeks, soft lips, and ridiculously long lashes into the memory of my eyes.  Five more minutes for deep breaths of baby skin. I get in bed with Azalea every night and read her 3 books. I switch off the light and we discuss our favorite things that happened that day. I ask her when she felt sad or frustrated. She opens up to me in ways she never expressed before. I scratch her back, massage her legs, run my fingers through her hair. I cuddle with my ever-in-motion 3 year old, devouring the sensation.

After the kids are asleep I’m usually tired, but we don’t have a TV so the urge to force myself to stay up late isn’t there. I got to bed early and wake up very early. I spend time with my husband over breakfast, lunch, & dinner every day instead of blanking out in front of a TV at night and calling that quality time. With domestic help we are also able to enjoy a date night almost every week.

Exorcising the American mindset did take some time, which means unfortunately, those who visit on a vacation will not enjoy this benefit of living in Nicaragua. To those I say, please do not honk at me when I forget to turn on my blinker because I am in the middle of an epic version of “Let It Go” and be patient when you encounter me aimlessly walking in town. I live in paradise now, where demons go to chill.

The visiting crew

First Visit from Friends

I’m writing this post the afternoon of the morning my friends departed…perhaps not enough time to reflect on their trip, but with events still fresh I’m going to give it a go.

First off, I must mention the overwhelming emotion that invaded my body at first sight of my friend Carly and her youngest daughter, Willow, skipping towards me outside their hotel.  I knew I missed my friends, but it wasn’t until the echos of my sobs rang through my ears and I felt my body involuntarily convulsing with each out take of breath, that I realized how much I need my friends. Our daughters too ran for each other and embraced in a heartfelt, tender hug.

The first afternoon my husband and I decided we’d take them to lunch at a beautiful restaurant, El Timón, on the bay. Its a great restaurant to showcase the beauty of San Juan del Sur.  Azalea was a great hostess and after lunch showed the girls just how we do it in Nicaragua.

After skipping naps we ended the evening by ordering pizza from Don Mochis for delivery and enjoying their air conditioned hotel.  Azalea was already comfortable again with old friends so she got to have her first friend sleep over.  I’m so proud of her for sleeping through the night and not crying for “Mommy” in the morning. She’s growing up so fast!

The next day was Friday and Kharron had to work, so after a relaxing morning I packed everyone into our car and headed to the beach.  I decided Romanzo would be a good choice since it is fairly close to my house. I had asked Juanita to cook arroz con pollo for lunch, a cheap, but delicious dish that the whole family enjoys. We had a great time enjoying the beach, but the waves weren’t big enough to try surfing. After lunch it was nap time for all!

Our friend, Sean, has a home up on the hill overlooking the bay so we decided to watch the sunset from there while introducing street food to our friends.  We got a selection of meat: chicken, pork, and beef with sides of fried plantains, frijoles molida (mashed black beans), and gallo pinto (beans and rice).  Sean also has a pool of course, so the kids did some more swimming.

On Saturday my husband, Kharron, was off work, so after a traditional breakfast in the mercardo, we all got to enjoy the pool at Villas de Palermo, where our friends were staying. That night we had arranged for two nannies to come and babysit the kids while the adults enjoyed full-sentenced conversations. We barely made it to sunset at HulaKai Hotel, but as usual were stunned by the beauty of Nicaragua. Next we took them to a restaurant we recently discovered called El Jardin.  The food and wine selection is fabulous there.  It is not traditional Nicaraguan food, but the change of menu is welcomed. Of course we ended the night in town at Republika Bar for one last night cap.  I hope our friends enjoyed the evening together as much as we did!

Date night with the Anderson's
Date night with the Anderson’s

On Monday Willow went to school with Azalea at San Juan del Sur Day School for the morning and the rest of their family had fun zip lining at Parque de Aventuras.  Then after naps that afternoon we all went to Surf Ranch for a swim, drinks, and a snack.

Tuesday was Nicaragua’s Father’s Day and Kharron took the day off work. We decided to be a little more adventurous and go see Laguna de Apoyo.  It’s an imploded volcano that created a crater and has filled with water.  The pictures are breathtaking and we’ve been wanting to go. The men used this opportunity to go on a motorcycle ride and the women & kids followed in our car. Unfortunately we made the mistake of inputting “Laguna de Apoyo” in Google Maps instead of one of the hotels along one section of the shore.  We ended up over shooting our turn off the highway and caravaning through the busy streets of Granada‘s mercado.  We asked locals how to get to “Laguna de Apoyo” and found ourselves at its edge on the opposite side of the hotels.  Foolishly, we took the dirt roads around the lake to finally reach our destination tired, dirty, & grumpy. The kids were starving, moms were fed up with wining, and the dad’s bottoms hurt. BUT the views were striking!

On the last full day of their trip we went to what I think is the most beautiful beach in San Juan del Sur, Playa Hermosa.  It costs US $3 to enter, but once through the long dirt road there are bathrooms, fresh water showers, palapas with hammocks, and a restaurant that doesn’t completely gouge you on prices. It is always very tranquil at Playa Hermosa.  It was a great day spent relaxing, collecting shells, and enjoying the warm ocean water.  We also rented a couple boogie boards for $8 each for the kids to try.  We got home that late afternoon and cleaned off in Villas de Palermo pool (shhh…) Kharron met us after work and we spent the evening ordering room service and letting the kids play.

Willow & Char on Playa Hermosa
Willow & Char on Playa Hermosa

It was great having our friends here and we feel so lucky to have friends willing to make the long trek just to see us.  I know Nicaragua was never on their radar of places to visit, but I hope they found it as beautiful and interesting as we do.

Char asked me while driving someplace, “Before you moved, did you know people wouldn’t have doors and stuff?”  I tried to explain to her that yes, I did.  That Kharron and I had chosen to move here because America was very expensive and in this country I didn’t have to work to afford to live.

I think travel is so important (obviously) for everyone and especially as children.  If nothing else, a “first world” country kid can get a glimpse of how other people live.  Maybe they see the smile on kid’s face as he peaks through the doorway while standing on a dirt floor or hears the roar of laughter coming out of a group of children playing with sticks, a little girls giggle of delight while dressed up in a torn and dirty princess dress, or a little boy’s confidence as he herds a pack of sheep down the road, the laughter from a family sitting outside their shack of a home as they enjoy the evening and each other. Maybe that child just for a second can see that life is not about all the gadgets and screen time, it’s about the love we have for each other and this one life we have to live.  I am glad our friends are among the parents that get the importance of these lessons.

Every class starts with looking through books

Volunteering at Barrio La Planta Project

One of the things I wanted to do while in Nicaragua was volunteer. I volunteered with a women’s group called Contemporary Women of North County for the 5 years leading up to our move and its a passion of mine to help the less fortunate. From research, I knew that there were many NGOs (non-governmental organization) already established in Nicaragua. My hurdle was going to be that I lacked in Spanish, so the options to help were limited.

Once moved into San Juan del Sur, I started to put feelers out for non-Spanish speaking volunteer opportunities. Luckily, I mentioned my desire to the right person and only 24 days after moving, I was “interviewing” for a volunteer position at Barrio La Planta Project. As it reads on their website, “The Barrio Planta Project is an education initiative created to empower low-income children and adults living in Nicaragua. Through supplementary schooling with an emphasis on English as a Second Language and the creative arts, BPP provides means for international communication and exposure to enriching cultural activities that enhance confidence and facilitate community development.”

I started “working” April 7th with the preschool/kindergarten class.  Its only 2 1/2 hours twice a week, but its been great fun getting to know the local kids, feeling comfortable saying “hola” to the parents as I pass them on the street, and learning Spanish from the students. The kids are learning English and so I am free to speak my native tongue with no embarrassment.

Happy morning milk drinker.


Before we left the United States my 3 year old, Azalea would drink almost a gallon of milk a week. Although this was an exorbitant amount, she’s never been a good eater so I was relieved that she was taking in fat & calories.  The first milk we bought in Nicaragua looked like the stuff we drink in the US, but Azalea didn’t seem very interested in it and it sat in her sippy cup for the few days we stayed in Managua.  While staying at Surf Tours Nicaragua I filled her sippy cup up with the box milk they had in their refrigerator but had the same outcome.  Her sippy cup was left all over the resort still filled with milk.  I positive byproduct of the sudden decrease in Azalea’s milk consumption was that she began eating more.

I figured Azalea was just adjusting to her new environment and once settled into a home she’d go back to drinking an outrageous amount of milk.  I purchased again the milk that looked like what we used in the US.  It comes in a plastic half gallon jug and is located in the refrigerator next to the yogurt and other dairy products.  It seemed like this time Azalea was drinking milk again, but only for a couple days and not with the same voracity as she had before our move.  I noticed after a few days of untouched milk, it had already congealed in her refrigerated sippy cup. Yuck!

Carton of milk that looks most like what we buy in the US. Cost is C$55
Carton of milk that looks most like what we buy in the US. Cost is C$55

While at our local grocery store, Palí someone told my husband Kharron, that the milk that comes in the bag is better than the carton.  He happily purchased a bag of milk confident that he had solved our milk mystery. Confused as to how you dispense a bag of milk I poured it into a thermos and eagerly waited for our milk tester to come home from school.  The bag of milk was not a success.  Azalea took one sip and left the sippy cup laying on the sofa. We tried a couple different brands of the bag of milk, using it in our coffee with each defeat.  One day our maid Juanita cut the corner of an unopened milk bag and set it in a bowl in the refrigerator.  Ahhh…that’s how you do it!

Assortment of brands of milk in the bag - C$7.50-12.20
Assortment of brands of milk in the bag – C$7.50-12.20

The last option to try was the raw milk that gets delivered by horse cart, so I spent about 20 minutes one morning searching for a cart to flag down.  Feeling a little uneasy about about not only raw milk, but milk that is kept in a metal container in 90 degree heat, I boiled it immediately when I got home.  The next morning I tested this milk out by putting it in Azalea’s cereal.  She wasn’t fooled for a minute, after one bite she looked up at me and said, “I don’t like this.”  Another batch of milk for our morning coffee I guess.

Horse cart delivering fresh raw milk to people in town.
Horse cart delivering fresh raw milk to people in town.

Finally perplexed by this milk mystery I posted on a local Facebook Mommy page, “Okay Mamas, what’s the deal with the milk here? Which one is the most like home? What is the difference? Bag, carton, box (not real milk?). Which is the best for you?”  My mommy friends came pouring in with advice and I was happy to hear this is a common problem after a move to Nicaragua. It seems most Expat families drink the milk that comes in a box.  Turns out it is real milk, that’s been slowly heated multiple times to kill off the bacteria and bag or box it in seven layers so that bacteria cannot grow in the milk. That is how it can stay fresh unrefrigerated for so long. This milk also touts that it contains no additives.

Small box milk options - C$13-24.50
Small box milk options – C$13-24.50

I’ve settled on buying Dos Pinos in the box.  Azalea recently found a love for cereal with milk and I’m hopeful that this is the stepping stone back to true milk consumption. Although, now that the mystery is solved, I wouldn’t mind if she just continued to eat her calories & fat…

We drink box Dos Pinos - 2% - C$29.50
We drink box Dos Pinos – 2% – C$29.50


Titus enjoying some cantaloupe juice in his walker.

A Typical Day – After 6 weeks of living in San Juan del Sur

We’re starting to feel pretty settled in our routine here, so I thought I’d write about what a typical week day is like for us living in San Juan del Sur.

The kids have both been waking up pretty early and there aren’t many roosters around our home to blame it on.  It seems Azalea or Titus wake up between 5:30-6am every day.  It only takes minutes after one rises, for the other to wake as well. If Titus is the first, I like to enjoy a little bit of quiet play with him in our bed.  He sleeps in a Pack ‘n Play in our room so I let him wrestle around for a while before picking him up and bringing him in bed.  We usually only get about 5 minutes of quiet time before Azalea comes knocking on the bedroom door.  If Azalea is the first to rise, her loud knock will usually wake up Titus, but if not, it is her morning mission to make sure everyone else is awake in the house. Kharron is an early riser and uses the quiet mornings to get work done, so he can be found at the kitchen table on his computer every morning, including weekends.

I’m not sure what to do with kids this early in the morning and before I’ve had my coffee so I fumble with blurry, sleepy eyes to start a show on the TV.  Some of Azalea’s favorites right now are Annie, Finding Nemo, Curious George, Horton Hears a Who, and Dora the Explorer. Once I have her crazy morning energy lassoed to the TV I open up the home’s accordion patio doors so the dogs can go outside and Tasha can go visit her “friends”.  Rigley with his broken arm, gets leashed to the large wood picnic-style table on our patio so he doesn’t go too far and re-injure himself…again.

Rigley leashed to the picnic table in the morning.
Rigley leashed to the picnic table in the morning.

I either hand Titus off to Kharron or put him in his jumpy that came in our box.  The dogs water usually needs to be refilled, coffee gets made, Titus’ diaper gets changed, and Azalea’s initial hurricane gets cleaned. With a cup of coffee in my hand I nestle on the couch next to Azalea, nurse Titus, and enjoy the slow trickle of caffeine processing in my body.

On a typical day the family all has breakfast together.  We may not all eat the same thing, but everyone sits at the table at the same time. Azalea has been eating A LOT of watermelon as well as peanut butter (with no jelly) sandwiches.  Eggs are also popular for breakfast.  I like to make a smoothie with all the fresh cut fruit Juanita has prepared or have fruit with yogurt and granola. Titus usually has some sort of fruit or ground oatmeal (avena molida) with yogurt.  At breakfast Kharron and I discuss the plans for the day or things that need to get done, while Azalea continuously interjects with silly behavior.

After everyone has eaten and gotten their pjs dirty, it is time to dress for the day.  I distract Azalea by letting her pick out what she wants to wear to school while I choose my own outfit.  I’ve learned a trick of putting Titus on a towel in the bathroom sink while I do my hair and make-up.  The toothpaste is usually distraction enough for a quick application. My hair lives in a ponytail because its too hot for anything else and my creativity runs low in the morning.

Kharron departs for work during this part of the morning routine.  He has an office in town where there is less distraction and he can focus on his job… our only source of income. We all give Daddy kisses and watch him climb on his moto and zoom away. Its about this time too that our pool/gardener arrives. We all acknowledge him with an, “Hola Chilo” and carry on with our morning tasks.

Once I am dressed I focus on Azalea, helping her put on the outfit she’s chosen or trying to steer her in a different direction.  She really only wants to wear three things right now – a brick orange flowered long sleeve dress, her long sleeved Elsa princess dress, or her long sleeve white cotton dress.  Juanita is so efficient that at least two of these options is always clean, but its hot and I don’t want her wearing the same thing everyday so this usually becomes our first battle. After the tears have dried, I manage to style Azalea’s beautiful curly hair in front of the TV while Titus is on the floor next to me playing with some toys.

Azalea in one of her favorite outfits
Azalea in one of her favorite outfits

As I’m just finishing my hair masterpiece, I hear the single beep of Juanita’s family moto notifying us of her arrival and Juanita comes through the front door with a, “Buenos dias.” She picks up Titus and I’m able to race around the house putting Azalea’s second storm away, applying sunblock to everyone, and making sure Azalea has a change of clothes, hat, and extra sunblock (and nothing else) in her backpack.  Juanita keeps Titus while I drive Azalea to school.  She likes the music blasting and all windows down except her’s because it blows her hair too much. Azalea’s school starts between 8-8:30am and I take my time dropping her off.  Its nice to have this time with her without juggling Titus on my hip. We say hello to the teachers and Julie, the director.

Hurricane Azalea in action
Hurricane Azalea in action

I go straight home and if Titus isn’t already asleep by the time I get there, then I nurse him to sleep for his first nap. Juanita has been making him a bottle or juice from an orange mixed with water.  She rocks him in the hammock to try to get him down for his nap while I am driving Azalea to school.  After he is down I am free to try to converse with Juanita via my crutch, Google Translate.  If we didn’t shop for the week on Monday, then we talk about whether I’d like her to cook lunch and/or dinner that day and if we need anything from the store.  I’m just starting to feel more comfortable with opening our conversations up to topics of life outside our home.  Kharron and I have been trying to learn past tense and these moments with Juanita are like a daily Spanish lesson.  She is very patient with us – politely correcting the pronunciation, accent, or gender of a word when necessary.  She also gives a kind nod when we have said something correctly.

Titus enjoying some cantaloupe juice in his walker.
Titus enjoying some cantaloupe juice in his walker.

While Titus has his long morning nap I spend my time blogging, researching hotels, what is necessary for VISA renewal, scrolling Facebook for what’s happening in our home town, San Juan del Sur, or Nicaragua, text with friends, or do all those little computer busy work I didn’t have time to do while living in the States.  When we first moved in we had cable, but it never really worked so we cancelled Claro and were going to use a new company called Sky, but haven’t gotten around to it yet.  I’m not sure that I want to add it.  I’m sure I would be much less productive during these nap times if I had the option to space out in front of the TV.

Once Titus is awake I nurse him again while reading my latest book on my Kindle.  Then we usually head out to town to go buy bread at the paneria, fresh fish at the acopia, eggs or water at a pulperia, or say hello to our friends at one of the shops.  Its nice to stroll around the town with Titus happily dangling in the Ergo carrier.  Azalea gets out of school at noon, so Titus and I head over there from town.

We are always greeted by Azalea with a shrill of happiness.  We take our time collecting her art work, backpack, and shoes and say “Hasta luego” to her teachers and friends. On the way home we talk about what her favorite part of school was.  She doesn’t quite get this conversation and she usually says something that doesn’t really make sense or happened on a different day, but I figure its good practice.

Once home, Juanita is finishing up lunch and daddy is home sitting at the kitchen table.  We all enjoy lunch together (chicken, fish, or pork with cabbage salad, beans, rice, or plantains. If she doesn’t have too much to do, Juanita will feed Titus so I am free to eat lunch and enjoy the conversation with my family.  We’ve come to realize that Juanita is very funny, so there’s a lot of really bad Spanish and big laughs during lunch.

After lunch Azalea gets to watch a show on TV and Daddy goes back to the office.  Azalea’s been pretty good about her naps so after about 20-30 minutes of TV she’s ready for bed.  She likes to get in pjs for naps and that is always a process.  I turn on the A/C and if Titus allows for it, I read her a quick book.  Once she’s down I nurse Titus and hope for the simultaneous nap. I’ve been pretty lucky these last couple weeks!

Azalea asleep in her "Princess bed"
Azalea asleep in her “Princess bed”

On Tuesday & Thursdays I volunteer at Barrio La Planta Project 2-4:30pm with the Kindergartner classes.  If all goes well, I leave 2 sleeping kids in Juanita’s care.  I have to admit, on the other days of the week I usually read myself into a nap.  I don’t know if its the heat or the the energy it takes to live and communicate in a foreign land, but I am really tired here.  If Titus doesn’t nap when Azalea does, we dip our feet in the pool or go for a swim.

Quiet swim with my little man
Quiet swim with my little man

Once everyone is awake we relax a little, go for a swim, go to the park, get some ice cream, or meet up with friends.

My favorite part of the day is when Daddy gets home from work. Juanita makes dinner for us about 3-4 times per week, so the early evenings aren’t spent with one of us preparing dinner while the other entertains the kids. Azalea has been loving an early evening swim with her daddy or some days we take Tasha & the kids to the beach for sunset.  On the nights Juanita hasn’t cooked, Kharron will cook, or we pick up “street food”, or meet friends at a restaurant.

Sunset at one of the beaches
Sunset at one of the beaches

After dinner I shower with Azalea and bathe Titus in his little tub.  Everyone gets in their pjs and sprayed with bug spray.  We put on one of Azalea’s programs and I nurse Titus to sleep.  Titus has been going to bed around 6:30/7pm.  We spend some time alone with Azalea before corralling her to her room for 3 books and some cuddles.  Her bedtime is about 8pm.  Lately after books and I’ve switched off the lights, we’ve been discussing our favorite part of the day.  Its been really fun to hear what she has to say and share with her what made me happy that day.

Titus in his little tub
Titus in his little tub

Its not long after the kids are in bed that I too retreat to our air conditioned bedroom to read and fall asleep.  Titus has been only waking up once to eat in the middle of the night, so my sleep has recently gotten less interrupted.  Someday soon we will probably move his Pack ‘n Play into Azalea’s bedroom.  Kharron again uses the quiet nights to get work done and enjoy the solitude.

We have a peaceful life here in Nicaragua.