Sunday, June 10, 2012

Growth...and I'm just not talking about Trees!

With four days to go, Mike is super focused on getting the remaining trees planted on our land in the San Luis Valley. (Personally, I think he is avoiding having to help me pack and purge...but mom's the word okay?) Thanks to friends and student groups from the University of Georgia campus in San Luis, we have almost 300 trees planted on our little slice of paradise! Mike made contact with the University and arranged to have a group of students for a morning come and plant trees, and plant...they did! I think they got about 160 trees in the ground in one day. We are grateful for these student volunteers and the support of the UGA. The next weekend, we had more help from close friends who donated their muscles to a good cause...yes, more tree planting. I consider myself an expert now and have the bug bites and sunburn to prove it. We had a lot of fun and good laughs along the way and the three hours of planting came and went in what seemed like a blink of an eye. How many of the 300 will actually take root and grow is anybody's guess, however we hope that when we return we'll see some growth and can take the next step to perhaps building a little vacation home of our own. Dare to dream.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Sweet Sounds!

One of the sweetest things resulting from this move...listen and enjoy, I sure did! With so many things racing through my mind right now as we are under a week to go here in Monteverde, I find myself thinking of all the posts to the blog that I should have made time for, going through old pics and videos...this is one of them. It needs no introduction or conclusion! Peace, Signed: S

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Proud Mama!

I can't imagine a prouder moment over and beyond what I experienced today as a mother, this is definitely a day to remember, John and Michael's graduation from Prepa! Although some of my family back home think they've been in the Kinder program forever (and you know who you are :) - today they completed the three year journey through Pre-kinder, Kinder and Prepa and the Friends school survived to tell about it!!! It was indeed bitter-sweet! As I sat through the 40-minute ceremony, I experienced moments of uncertainty and doubt as to whether we were making the right decision for our family...leaving this very special community in less than two weeks. The uniqueness of the ceremony was so fitting, given the uniqueness and magic of the school. As I helped prepare the multi-purpose room yesterday for the event, along with other school community members, I took special notice of how the school rallied to support us. High-school teachers and kids hurried in to clear out and carry out heavy furniture, sets of drums, keyboards and cabinets full with art supplies (hence the term, "multi-purpose" room)! Next, in bounced a handful of fourteen year old girls who volunteered to gather hydrangas from the garden to brighten up the tables, while I helped to attach the life size self portraits of each of the twenty or so students in the Kinder program onto the windows that flanked the back of the room. Whille I worked along side another parent and the Kinder teachers, a mom of one of the graduates put the finishing touches on the diplomas that each of the 8 graduating Prepa students would receive In keeping with tradition, the diplomas were transformed into a vibrant wall hanging..a real keepsake to treasure for years to come. In one of my many trips to San Jose over the last few months, I found the perfect fabric as the border and some cute 'bobbles' to finish off each work of art. Each graduate made their own, individual drawing which, along with the diploma itself and teacher/director's signatures, were ironed onto the fabric by a local printer and then finally sewed by the women at "Casem", the woman's coop at the bottom of our driveway. One parent collected bamboo sticks to thread through the top and bottom and there you have it, a very creative and brightly colored certificate.
Each graduate also received a T-shirt with artwork from their classmates, so special and, of course, made with a lot of love! A few songs, a poem and lots of hugs for all! Michael, forever putting a new spin on things! You go kid!
Another sweet moment shared when Juanita's class of 1st and 2nd graders took each Prepa student by the hand and escorted them to the 1st/2nd grade classroom...sort of a 'right of passage' from Prepa (and the guiding hands of Melody, Ellieth and Luz) to first grade and the gentleness of Juanita! As we entered Juanita's classroom, all the kids were perched around a table Juanita had adorned with several items (sort of a memory game), and invited the kids to guess which item had been removed from the table...a nice interactive game to make the kids feel comfortable. At the conclusion of their time with Juanita, each Prepa student received a card given by those kids that had graduated Prepa the previous year! Another way to involve all the students and provide a sense of warmth, comfort and familiararity! As I looked around at the students in the classroom, the trees outside the windows, the blue sky and birds chirping, I was a little sad knowing that the boys would not be continuing at MFS and would be saying goodbye to friends, teachers and classmates, who over the last three years have formed into very true and pure relationships. I remember thinking to myself "Okay, Sally, focus, focus, focus, onward and northward as planned"!
The morning concluded with a snack provided by the parents, cake, empanadas, popcorn, fruit! I brought vegetables, and can tell you that those veggies were not the hit of the party, so I hauled them back home and they made a great stir-fry for dinner! Here's trouble!
Sweet video of the boys receiving their diplomas from John, the Director! YOU DID IT GUYS! So as I look to the future, I again focus on the kids and their school experience and am comforted to know that they received a fabulous start here in the Kinder program at MFS! A sincere THANK YOU goes out to Melody, Elieth and Luz Marina, who are not only awesome teachers, but valued friends! Kudos to you three! We also thank Tricia, their music teacher, who volunteers so much of her time and love of music with these beautiful children. Peace, Signed: S

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Catch of the Day!

A quick post to showcase the fish that Raul and Mike brought home last night! Well, can't say that they actually 'caught' it, but Raul had a taste for fresh fish, so off they went 90 minutes away toward the coast to buy fresh fish. The fish was yummy, so we certainly got our fill of protein last night!
Peace, Signed: S

How Many More Days Mom....

Thankfully the boy's enthusiasm for the move is keeping my anxiety at bay! Every day over breakfast, we talk about how many more days until we leave. I wish it was as simple as that and am glad, that the boys see it as such a simple thing in their mind...14th of June we wake up in Costa Rica and lay our heads down in North Carolina...cut and dry...right? For them, maybe, but for me - it is part of my daily routine now to review my To Do List to 'ready' ourselves for the transition. We just signed the contract for a rental house, so we have a place to call home for atleast a year or so before we can again qualify for a loan! What keeps me awake and what fills my conversations with Mike is how different Michael and John's school experience will be in the States. Going from a class of 23 with 3 teachers to a class of what I hear might be upwards to almost 30 with just one teacher! Today, they receive kisses and hugs from their teachers as they bounce out of class and into my arms at noon to tell me all about their day. What will their day look like in Downers Grove, Illinois? What about the bombardment of advertising, TV, games, and hand-held devices that await! Things that go BUZZ and BLING and all that - do we invite these into our house or will be thought of as 'wierd' by our neighbors and boy's classmates, if we do not have a TV or a hand-held game to offer up for play? Will John and Michael be seen as outcasts at school if they can't carry on a conversation about the latest Mario game...or whatever it is. For goodness sake, they are only six years old - do we have to deal with all this electronic stuff right now? So, Mike and I have already started discussing our strategy and how these things will or will not support our family values! Don't get me wrong - a ton of kids here in Monteverde have cell phones, access to their own Facebook page and X-Box at their homes, so perhaps rural Costa Rica is not that far out of touch??? Another thing that has my stomach turning is the freedom they have now to run outside at any time, climb a tree, play in the rain, pick fruit, pat horses, catch leaf-cutter ants, etc. "Dorothy, we are not in Kansas anymore", how do we keep their sense of freedom and innocence while, at the same time, keeping them safe and aware of their 'new' environment. One of our main goals is to keep their curiosity alive without numbing their sense of adventure. I for one, will be bringing my coffee sock home with me and will be brewing my morning coffee using this - and YES, it does taste so much better made this way than the 'Mr Coffee" way. So, as I look forward to being closer to family and having different opportunties available, I am realistic that we will have to prioritize that which is dear to us. We continue to prepare the house, giving away clothes, puzzles, rain boots to kids/families in the zone that can put them to good use...and yes, the rainy season has started and I am pulling out the few crafts we have left to entertain the boys. Two days ago during a rain-out in the afternoon, we brought out all our cards in the house, Sight Word Cards, Spell-om-inoes, Counting Cards, Playing Cards and had a great time building the house of all card houses (a twist on the three little pigs), with Michael being the Wolf, trying his best to blow down the house. It kept us busy for a good two hours!
Today, my Spanish tutor came to collect our dining room table to repair the top. Most of the, well, imperfections, were complements of John and Michael - a pen mark here, a heavy pencil scratching before Edgar took it off to his workshop, the boys and Mike got busy this morning before school sanding it down to start the process. Our moto is "whoever makes the mess...cleans it up." Hopefully a lesson well learned.
Another lesson well learned...if you want to play outside in your socks, you'll find the bucket, soap and scrub brush in the corner of the kitchen! I, for one, have resigned to trying to get the mud/dirt out of their socks - so another good lesson in taking responsibility for their own actions! This will pay off in the future....right?
I am looking forward to the boys Graduation on May 29th from Prepa - it will be quite an event, so I'll make sure my camera is fully charged and the boys are showered and relatively clean :) The boys gifted their stuffed animals "Pooh and Tigger" to a little girl in San Luis. She comes, with her mother, Alba, to our door a couple times a week around 6:30 a.m. selling home-made breads, fresh whole chickens, and other edible goodies. The boys were delighted to leave Pooh and Tigger with Alexandra and know that they will be loved and well taken care of. We thank Danny and Michelle for years to joy these stuffed friends have given our boys and hope Alexandra will enjoy for many more years to come.
Mike is busy finalizing reports for the end of the school year and readying our land in San Luis for tree planting. We hope to get the trees in the ground next week with the help from a visiting student group from the University of Georgia in San Luis! this is what fills my mind today! Thank you to Beth for helping us secure our rental house - we appreciate your Hustle on this! A nice bottle of Red will be waiting for you when we arrive. Peace, Signed: S

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

I this - I that....

Can't believe I've been back from Chicago now for over a week - talk about a whirlwind trip. 17 hour trip there, and 17 hour trip back - oh my aching back! My biggest accomplishment had to have been the mastering of the Iphone and the Ipad! Has all this happened since I've been away! I thought to myself as my sister handed her I-pad to me..."here, try this it is really cool", thinking to myself "ya, right, another wireless gadget, just what the world needs", but boy was it awesome. I think the best part of it was having it on my lap while I sat on the passenger seat of the car last Saturday morning as we weaved in and out of streets looking for garage sales. A touch and slide of the finger and I was managing just fine locating directions for the finest sales in the neighborhood. Here's my four day run down. Thursday 6:30 a.m. - hugs and kisses to my three boys as I waved goodbye to them as I boarded the bus for the 4 hour ride down the mountain to the airport. 12:30 - San Jose to Ft. Lauderdale 8:20 p.m. - Ft. Lauderdale to Chicago 11:15 p.m. - Beth's House 11:20 p.m. - Glass of Wine Friday Looked at rental house in LaGrange Coffee at Starbucks (with Iphone and Ipad neatly displayed on our table) Returned to Starbucks to claim my purse I had left (not use to carrying a purse I guess) Garage Sales - SCORE - bedroom set, a couple of chairs, lamps Whole Foods Good Will Store to buy Sally some non-Monteverde clothes Barnes and Noble Home - Wine, Dinner and Movie Saturday Looked at rental houses in Downers Grove with Realtor More garage sales Lunch with a good friend in Naperville on our way to look at some beds for the boys Purchased the two twin captain beds for the boys YA HOOOOO! Standard Market for some wine sampling and to buy fixins for dinner Home - Wine, Dinner, Movie Sunday Went for walk with Beth Figured out how to get the bedroom set into her garage Target to buy some 'trinkets' for the kids (mom can't come back from a trip empty-handed) Drive to Orland Park for early dinner with Mom Schaefer, Margie and Jeanine Back to Western Springs to load up the bedroom set Wine, Dinner Monday Re-invent Sally (from Monteverde mom/volunteer to Corporate 'wanna-be') Interview suit, make-up complements of my sister Buy train pass and ride into city Buy umbrella - managed to leave the house without one 3 hour interview and yummy lunch (beats beans and rice) Home, Wine, dinner and packing Tuesday Up at 3:00 a.m. Taxi - 3:30 a.m. San Jose Airport 11:00 a.m. Wait for bus - 2:30 p.m. Bus Ride up the mountain - comatose 7:00 p.m. Home to little brown house - 8:00 p.m. All in all, a very productive trip. Working on securing a rental house as we speak, talking with elementary school, working my way through mounds of school enrollment requirements, reviewing YMCA, park district internet sites for day camp and soccer camp opportunities. So far, Michael wants to do soccer or skateboarding camp and John gives his thumbs-up to fishing camp! Sending thank you letters out for interview, working on Visa paperwork to bring a friend over to live with us for a year to learn english and to help with the boys, purging and cleaning house for new tenants and keeping the family running! ONE MONTH COUNTDOWN and feeling READY! June 14th here we come! The sole photo from my trip - me and Zach, my nephew!
Peace, Signed: S

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Monteverde in Under 8 Minutes

Thanks to my talented neighbor, Adrienne, for making this wonderful video of this year's Monteverde Friends School Walkathon. This year, I opted to work a station with the family (Famous Station #7) handing out watermelon and words of encouragement to participants. Other years I have run the 13K route, but my body told me I better listen to it this year, so that I did and enjoyed spending the day with my boys. Enjoy the video and hope, through this, you can understand why we love this community so much. Smile for the camera Mike!
They sure look like they need a cool slice of watermelon! Good friends of ours from the school, take a break to refuel.
There were quite a few folks that saddled up and went by horse - Massimo (first grader) rides with his dad, Paco! Giddy-Up Now!
John stamping a walker's number to make sure she gets credit for walking all 13 kilometers. Good work John!
Michael's no fool - he makes sure he has entertainment for the lulls in the walkers - a perfect spot to set up hotwheets!
Peace, signed: S