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 Tag:

packing to move

Haven't needed this wind-fighting garment

4 Things I Didn’t Need to Pack For Our Move to Nicaragua

There’s not many on my list, but here are a few things that took up precious space in our suitcases and we haven’t needed.

4. Spanish-English Dictionary

My husband and I both downloaded Google’s Translator and off-lined the Spanish Dictionary so we can access it even when there is no cell signal or WiFi. My little book is collecting dust and taking up space on a shelf…I should probably donate it to something.

3. Extra Toothbrushes

I don’t know know what I was thinking or where I thought we were moving, but toothbrushes are very easy to find and affordable here.

2. Long Sleeve Shirts, Pants & Jackets

Although I have worn my jeans a few times, I definitely haven’t needed 2 pairs of jeans, cargo pants, and leggings. Not once have I put on the variety of long sleeve shirts I packed. I brought a windbreaker-style jacket because I heard it could get cold in the mountains. We haven’t yet made a trip to see the coffee farms so the only mountains we’ve seen is through the window of the car on our trips to Managua. I’m hoping these items will come in handy on our first trip home to the States in October.

1. Socks

I brought socks for running, socks to wear with rain boots, black socks, white socks, thin socks, thick socks. So far I haven’t worn a pair. I run barefoot on the beach, went sock-less the one time I wore my rain boots, and besides that I only wear flip flops and the occasional wedge for date night.

What other moms say:

I asked other moms living in Nicaragua what they brought with them here and haven’t needed, here are their answers that weren’t already on my list: sweatpants, dress up clothes & heels, rain jackets, pharmaceuticals (Advil etc), double stroller, and plates.

Okay, maybe 17

15 Things I’m Glad I Packed for our move to Nicaragua

I asked a lot of questions on Facebook about what we should pack and what was available in Nicaragua. Here’s my top 15 items I’m glad we have.

Nutribullet, Kids Favorite Things, International Phones, Kids’ Books

15. Good Tweezers

I’ve seen tweezers sold here, but if you’ve ever used a cheap pair then you know good set is invaluable.

14. Cream Tartar

This was mentioned as an item by another mom in my article; 12 Things I wish I had Packed. Before we moved I had made play dough for all of our friends’ kids for Christmas presents so I knew the value of this obscure substance. It has come in handy a few times when a toy is needed that crosses language barriers.

13. Affordable Sunblock

We use this stuff like lotion, everyone gets a daily application at least once a day. We sent ourselves a huge box that had no weight limit so I put about 6 large bottles of sunblock in it. I’m glad because this stuff is not cheap down here and its essential.

12. Sheets

When we asked people what we should pack, everyone consistently said, “sheets”. I’m not a thread counter, but we followed the advise and brought a couple twin sized pink patterned sets for Azalea and one queen sized white set for ourselves. It wasn’t until we moved into our second house that we realized what all the fuss was about. The sheets here not only are stiff, but they don’t fit a regular mattress. Our new house came with one pair of sheets and I purchased another set because Azalea now has queen sized bed. Without fail if the “Nica sheets” are used then we all wake up on top of our mattresses, not the intended fitted sheet.

11. Back Up Makeup

Not sure why I even thought to pack this since I spent many weekends without makeup when I lived in the States, but I had heard good makeup was hard to come by and since it doesn’t take up much space, I packed it. For some reason, maybe its because my hair lives in a messy bun or ponytail, but I wear makeup here pretty much every day. Also with a baby in the house, sleep is a luxury and I’m already on my second tube of under eye concealer.

10. Princess Dresses

Not a day has gone by that Azalea hasn’t worn one of her princess dresses. I haven’t seen them sold here, but I also haven’t had to look. She’s worn them so often that they are now looking a little tattered and is on my list of things we need to bring back with us when we go home for a visit.

9. Next Size Clothes & Shoes for Kids

Titus is growing fast and I’m so glad I packed the next size up in clothes for him. I only brought size T3 & T4 for Azalea which were a little big when we left, but she’s fitting in them now. She’s slowly growing out of her shoes so we’ll be picking up on our next trip as well.

8. Baby Carrier

Anyone with more than one kid knows that keeping up can be difficult. If you can strap one to you, your odds get a little bit better. I purchased the ERGObaby 360 right before we moved because I didn’t want to have to lug several carriers around in case Titus fell asleep or woke up while out. I’m so glad I did! Although we sweat like crazy, it has allowed me to take both kids shopping at the mercado, the beach, to watch parades, and strolling around the town.

7. Tablet

We’re not a plug-in family, but in my family screen time is sometimes necessary to keep the sanity. Since we don’t have a TV, Azalea uses her tablet to watch her morning cartoons. The kids both wake up between 5:30-6am, and the tablet allows time for my brain to wake up while the coffee is brewing. She also plays games and we troll for her favorite songs on YouTube. The tablet has been great for long drives to Managua and I’m sure will be very handy on our first trip back to the States.

6. Men’s Clippers

My husband is his own barber and I’ve heard these are expensive and poorly made here, so I’m glad we haven’t had to make this purchase in Nicaragua.

5. BOB Stroller

This was a big dilemma for me before we moved. I wasn’t sure whether a double or single stroller, umbrella or 3-wheeler would be better. I was so torn that we now have 2 strollers I purchased prior to leaving taking up space in our storage unit back in California. I’m SO glad I made the choice to bring the single BOB stroller. Its small enough to fit through doors and into the trunk of a cab. Its great for street, off-roading, and beach trips. I taught Azalea that the “big girl spot” is the front triangle so now its her favorite place to ride while Titus lives large in the main area. Titus’ car seat fits into the BOB too so if he falls asleep in the car I can easily take him without waking him up.

4. Nutribullet

I planned on making all of Titus’ food, so I packed the Nutribullet since I find it very easy to use and the clean up is simple. I also make smoothies a lot of mornings, so this fantastic device gets used at least twice a day. For some reason I also have a sudden interest in making hummus too!

3. Kid’s Books

We shipped most of our book collection in the box we mailed ourselves. Since books are so heavy and the box had no weight limit, this was the perfect way to get a lot of them down here. I read at least one book to Azalea for nap and at bedtime. She also loves bringing books to school. Titus is just starting to play with the sensory books. I’m thankful every day we have such a variety.

2. International Phones

I didn’t realize this would be at the top of my list of essential items until I lost mine. Having a good phone here helped me navigate Nicaragua using Google Maps, and the Waze app, stay in touch with friends back home using WhatApp and TextNow apps, use Facebook to connect with people here and keep up with what’s happening at home, listen to music via Spotify, take great pictures where ever we went, translate using Google Translate Spanish downloaded, and Skype for international calls. My “Nica phone” often doesn’t work, the camera is terrible, and the memory is too small to download or update many applications.

1. Kids’ Favorite Things

Bringing a few of the kids’ favorite things is priceless. I love wrapping Titus up after bath every night in the same ducky towel I used when Azalea was a baby. It melts my heart to watch Azalea cuddle with her huge stuffed pink frog every night and cart her blankies around the house. I didn’t bring a lot of toys, but watching her play with a toy I bought when we went with all her friends to Disney On Ice makes me smile. Maybe the kids don’t notice, but having a pieces of “home” with us makes this adventure less challenging. It gives us a history, every item has a story behind it and when I miss home I can go back to that moment and cherish it.

What other moms say:

I asked other moms living in Nicaragua what they are glad they packed, here are their answers that weren’t already on my list: underwear & bras, Tampax, bathing suits, toys, Crayola products, painters tape, kids party gifts, computer, extra pair of favorite flip flops, good quality floatie for kids, quality cookware & utensils, good quality speaker, spices, UV shirts, organic sugar-free baby cereal, Chicco portable highchair (attaches to just about any table), spring or half wet suit, printed vaccine record, and health insurance for emergencies.


12 Things I Wish I Packed when moving to Nicaragua


Now that we’ve been living here 5 months, I feel I have a worthy list for sharing. Some of these items have been fetched through my husband’s trips to the US for work and by friend’s visits, but others I still yearn for.

12. Swim Diapers

I did bring a couple pairs of cloth swim diapers, but I fear the day that Titus goes #2 while in a public pool (which we attend frequently) and I have to ask for a bag to put the soiled cloth diaper in. I always have a tinge of jealousy when I see the babies on vacation wastefully changing out of unscathed swim diapers.

11. Bigger variety of clothes/less revealing

I purchased about 10 fitted tank tops in an array of colors from Target before we moved, these have become my daily wardrobe. While I’m glad I have them, I wish I’d packed more options. It turns out, my husband & I go on weekly date nights and my wardrobe was not planned accordingly.
My plan had always been to volunteer, but I didn’t plan my volunteer attire very well.  I’m breast feeding so I’m more well endowed than usual and I feel a little self conscious when I’m working at the preschool/kindergarten class I volunteer at and wearing one of my usual tanks. Most of my shorts feel a little on the short side when surrounded by children, so I only have a few items that I feel comfortable wearing in professional settings.

10. Lots of Affordable Bug Spray (some with DEET)

You can buy Off bug spray in a lot of places, but its much more expensive than in the US and we use it several times a day on 4 families members, so we go through a bottle quickly. In fact we use it so often that I keep one in our bathroom, one in the living room, one in the kid’s bathroom, and one by our bed for middle of the night use. Often times I spray myself down, only to shower 20 minutes later and need to reapply. We only brought one bug spray containing DEET and find the heavy artillery necessary for happy hours or dinners on the beach so I keep that bottle in our diaper bag.

9. Toaster

Another item you can find here, but the price is so high I haven’t been able to justify the purchase. It kills me to know we have a great 4-slice toaster sitting in our storage in California. We shipped a giant box to ourselves here and I wish that I had put that toaster in the box!

8. Board Games

Since we don’t watch TV and Azalea is getting older, I wish we had more family activities. I’ve looked a few game stores in Managua, but they are so expensive I won’t buy one just on principle alone!

7. Waterproof Mattress Cover

Its hard to feel comfortable training your child to sleep through the nights without diapers or Pull-Ups when you do not own the mattress they are sleeping on.

6. Speakers

Our family really loves music, but we have no way to blast it other than the speakers in our computers. Our first home did come with speakers and we didn’t realize how much we used them until they were gone. Definately something we’ll pick up next time we’re in the States.

5. TV

We don’t actually ever watch TV, but I did pack our DVD player and kid’s movies so it was nice that our first home came with a small TV. We also packed our Chromecast which allows us to project Netflix, YouTube and some other sites onto the TV. Our home now does not have a TV so we use our computers, but we don’t have any way to watch the DVDs right now.

4. Head Lamps

After our move I realized how useful these are when there’s a power outage and you’re using your cell phone’s flashlight app to illuminate the generator while yanking on the cord to pull start it. I believe I own two of these somewhere in a box in our storage.

3. Baby food

I made 90% of my daughter’s baby food and had planned to do the same for Titus here, but what I hadn’t planned on is how limited the food options are here. I feel like I feed him the same things week after week. Making sure he’s being introduced to variety of foods has been hard. For some reason the only baby food jars you can buy not only contain sugar, but also are made of the same fruits sold in every market. I don’t need banana, apple, or fixed fruit pre-made! The major grocery store La Colonia just started carrying the Sprouts brand of squeeze pouches, but I think they were about $2.50 each and the contents aren’t worth the price.

2. Good Shampoo & Conditioners

The water here has a lot of minerals in it and so after only a few weeks my hair started feeling brittle. I asked some of the other moms what they do and someone said they only use really good shampoo & conditioner (among other things). The thing is, I haven’t been able to find good quality shampoo & conditioner. I hear some of the salons carry it, but I fear the price tag so I never looked.

1. Good Kitchen Knives

My husband and I both agree that this is #1. The knives here are terrible! We were lucky to have two great knives at our first home and they got used not only for cooking, but also as steak knives at the table. I purchased some steak knives when we moved into our new home, but I believe our butter knives may be sharper. Thankfully our friends brought us two knives when they came to visit, but we could definitely use more.

What other moms say:

I asked some other moms living in Nicaragua & San Juan del Sur what they miss or have asked friends and family to retrieve, here are their answers that weren’t already on my list: sports equipment, video games, projector, food processor, slow cooker, mixer, Cream of Tartar for making play dough, spices, maple syrup, a favorite candy or treat, crib sheets, nursing tops and bras, surf board wax, & sunscreen sticks.

We Have Baggage

We had a red eye leaving at 12:45am and got to the airport at 8:30pm, allowing ourselves plenty of time.  A few of our suitcases were over the 50lb limit which would have cost us an extra $200 per bag and a couple were over 70lb which was going to be a lot more. The lady at the “Overweight luggage counter” pointed us to a “Repacking” area equipped with a scale…guess we’re not the first ones to have this issue.

As we redistributed our belongings it became clear that the bags were not going to ever get under 50lbs. I remembered on a flight we once took our luggage broke and they gave us suitcase to use instead.  Must be one that sat in the Lost in Found too long.  Kharron went on a hunt to baggage claim and after a long time came back with a large (free) suitcase.  So our extra cost was only $150 for the extra bag, rather than probably $700 for the extra weight on our existing luggage. Yeah!



Storage – A Game of Tetris

We rented a 20 x 20 storage unit about 50 miles away from our home for the better rate and luckily decided to get it a couple months before we left so we could do several phases of trips.  The first weekend Kharron did 3 trips and used a man at the Uhaul office to help lift everything.  Having a baby has made it very difficult for me to help out in these types of tasks. We got rid of things we didn’t need for the next couple months like my daughter’s bunk bed that she’s too young for, the extra chairs for our dining room table, ….  We also unfortunately moved items we did need; the nail gun, the staple gun, hammer, drill.
Screen Shot 2015-03-15 at 4.21.01 PM

Another weekend after Azalea’s 3rd birthday we moved some large items like our patio furniture and the electronics cabinet for under the TV.

Then a couple of days before we left we did the big move of the rest of our house.  Kharron’s brother luckily helped out and my friend Katelyn did us a big favor and watched Azalea for most of the day while I supervised the Tetris session.  Kharron said several times, “Its not all going to fit.” so I was on high alert that we were going to stack high and make this happen.  After a long game, it did all fit and I did a happy dance to have that part of the process completed.




A Box to Nica

A friend of ours who lives in Nicaragua told us you can mail a 30″ x 30″ flat rate box for $250.  This fact went semi ignored at first mention, but now that I’m packing and feeling the weight of each object I’m thinking this might be the way to go.  There’s several items I’m contemplating bringing and this would mean that I could pack those and much more.  Although you can find all the appliances in Nica, we hear the quality and cost doesn’t compare to The States.  We could bring our coffee maker, Nutrabullet, Azalea’s scooter, books for the kids…

I decided to call the company to see if it truly was a 30×30 and what hours they were open.  I was surprised when the person who answered spoke no English and neither did anyone else at the company. A little taste of what’s to come.  Luckily my neighbor speaks great Spanish so I had him call.  Turns out its true, to the door of our home in San Juan del Sur it will cost $275

The box got so heavy that I had to pack it in the back of the truck because I wouldn’t be able to lift it after it was full.  The company is located in Los Angeles so the week before we left I drove up there and luckily was greeted with a partially English speaker.  He did all the paper work. I brought our lease agreement for our home so I could show him the address since part of it is an explanation that it is located “100 meters from the entrance”. It supposed to take 6 weeks to get to our home.  Fingers are crossed that it makes it!!!

If you’re interested in using this company, the information is: Central de Envios / 213-383-9300 /

I <3 Bubble Wrap

Pictures & mirrors all packed

I have a new found love in bubble wrap!  This stuff is amazing! It sticks to itself, protects all my fragile items and comes in HUGE rolls!


Toddler Tales

Last night I succumbed to my daughter’s request to “lay with me for a couple minutes”.  I had read this article about laying in bed with your toddler the previous day while daddy was away at work and had promised the next night when daddy was home that I would lie with her. I had posted the article on Facebook and the comments were very inspiring, talking about how when my friends take the time to lie in bed with their kids, that’s when they have the best conversations.  So after daddy read books I passed Titus off to Kharron and snuggled up close to Azalea in her toddler bed.  I asked her about her day and we discussed how the next day we were going to take a load to storage.  Looking up, I couldn’t help but think of the task of having to dismantle her never-been-used loft bed that was currently her room’s monkey bars.  I told her about how when we move back from Nicaragua that she will be so big, she won’t fit in her bed anymore and that Mommy is going to buy a mattress for the bed above us.  I pointed out the ladder I had draped over the unused wood mattress panels and how she would get to climb into bed at night and Mommy could climb up there too.  She could fit even more stuffed animals on that bed!  I explained how tomorrow we would have to take it apart and put it in storage so it could wait for us to come back. She seemed to take it well and today before pulling it apart, I let her take her maiden voyage up the ladder.


Finding Renters When Moving Abroad

The home we’re leaving behind

Taking pictures, posting our house on Craigslist, and showing it to potential renters has reminded us how truly lovely our home is.  I used to look at every floor board scuff or nail hole with disdain, now I see sweet bitterness as I remember how it was created and add it to my mental “Fix It” list.

I recently redid our daughters room, complete with chandelier, pink flowery wallpaper, bright pink curtains, new closet organizer, and a loft bed she hasn’t used.  Its going to break my heart to have to tear apart the unused bed and pack up all her toys & stuffed animals.  Worse, I’m worried that it will break her heart! I’m not procrastinating this task, but I dread the tearful outcome.  Should I do it while she’s away at preschool or in front of her??  She’s only just turning 3 years old, so I’m not convinced she will understand what is occurring.

We decided on a family to rent our home.  They have a 10 year old son and a 2 year old daughter, so we’re hoping they will fit into our amazing neighborhood and enjoy their time here as much as we have.  They are allowing us to keep some shelving up, the flat screen TV arm brackets, a corner cabinet, the plants, and our 2 chickens.

This is the first time we’re becoming landlords and its under strange circumstances.   One of the families we interviewed didn’t like that we were just looking to rent for only 2 years.  They wanted to “dig their roots in” and thought they wouldn’t be able to do that knowing we were returning.  Other people had a lot of questions about whether we might come back prior to two years. Our simultaneous answer was that we will definitely be gone for 2 years, whether that’s in Nicaragua or another country.

We’re truly going to miss this home, our neighborhood, and our wonderful neighbors.  We’ve created lasting friendships for both us and the kids in this neighborhood and we know we are blessed to live here.

luggage stuffing

Packing To Move Abroad

Is it too early to pack?

My husband & his family are making fun of me, we are 2 months out and I’ve already began packing the suitcases.  Actually I’ve barely started packing, but started accumulating items for the move; scourging the thrift stores for extra large suitcases (since we’re only bringing 6), scanning Craigslist for boxes & dog crates, sending group texts to neighbors to collect newspaper, buying packaging tape…  Its true, I am a planner, but with all there is to do “I don’t feel like this is too early!”, I say with a defiant stomp…well, at least that’s how it gets played out in my head.

I’d like to do more, but Kharron isn’t convinced that getting our storage space this early is necessary. I’ve never done a move like this.  When I moved from Northern to Southern California, everything I owned fit in my Honda.  I didn’t have kids to worry over, I didn’t have a whole house worth of belongings to compact into a 15 x 10 space, and I couldn’t just call my mommy if I forgot anything.

Now my and Ze’s closets contain no shorts nor sundresses…I think that’s a fair start.