Friday, January 28, 2011

Sleep....It's Happened....Twice!

Life is worth celebrating and boy does the Schaefer household have something to celebrate! Ice cream for all yesterday as we relished in our collective good fortune...8 hours of uninterrupted sleep! So this is how it feels when you awake and you are not squished, squeezed, contorted or bothered by a numb or aching arm/shoulder after a night of tossing and turning and sharing your full-size bed with a five year old.

So, to our amazement, it (sleep) happened again last long do I have to wait before I call this a 'win-win'?

Go John Go, thank you for 'loving' your own bed!

Just wanted to share our news and ask for restful prayers! Here's hoping this 'phase' is long-lasting.

Signed: S

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Weather 2010 Summary

Weather Data for 2010

Total rainfall 175 inches, well above mean of 114.
2010 Mean high temp 70, Mean low 60.
Highest temp 84, Lowest temp 50.

Much of the rain occurred from May through October in the form of heavy afternoon downpours. Temperatures do not fluctuate greatly here as we are too far south to receive blasts of Arctic air, and high enough in elevation and surrounded by ocean water to keep temps from getting too high.

After a month of wind, heavy mist and cool temperatures, the Costa Rican “summer” is finally at our doorstep. For over one week, we have had relatively calm breezes and much sun and the trees have finally stopped dripping. Today, it reached 75 degrees and everyone is talking about ‘verano’ or summer. Signs of summer: Many trees are showing growth spurts and the ones that shed their leaves in November are sprouting once again. The leaf cutter ants are working at breakneck speed, building new mounds and trails while carrying off much of new growth in our yard. I’m hoping that the warmth will be a catalyst of growth to the dormant vegetable seedlings that I planted at the New Year. Fewer people hear are wearing hats and I haven’t seen a parka, yes parka, in two weeks. Yes, we are in the tropics, 10 degrees north of the equator but at 4500 feet elevation, it is about 15 degrees cooler here than at sea level. So, a quick ride, maybe an hour down the mountain, and swimming in a stream feels good, while up here, wading up to our knees is adequate. The water in the streams warms on its way down as well.
Signed M

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Second Semester – Here we Come!

It seems a little weird to just now be sending the boys back to school; after all it is the middle of January. Christmas Vacation just now ending on January 19th? A long month off, but lots of family time and fun adventures with friends. I can finally answer the boys when asked, “Is it a school day today?”, with a resounding, “YES”.

Our second to last day of vacation was full of sun, water and sand…yes, a beach! My good friend, Veronica and I were pondering what to do to keep our boys active and busy the last few days of vacation when we ran into an MFS teacher who had just returned from a day trip to Playa Blanca. Hearing the words, “less than two hours away”, our plans were set, we quickly threw together fixins for a picnic lunch, packed swim suits, hunted for the sunscreen and off we went, waving goodbye to Mike as we piled into her car and he headed to school for his first day of meetings with faculty...clearly, we got the better end of the deal. The beach is small with calm seas, however no toilet or potable water, so packing your own H2O and TP is a must! The sun’s rays warming my back rejuvenated me and I delighted in watching the boys hunt for crabs and fish in a small lagoon among the mangroves. Happy to say we didn’t encounter any snakes! I’ll add this to my list of “to-dos” when my family comes to visit in two weeks. So, Auntie Beth, pack your suit and be prepared to bronze up that white Chicago winter skin. Upon our return, we quickly showered and headed off to bid farewell to our good friend Elizabeth and her kids who were, after 18 months here, heading back to the States. I will miss her, as she was a talented, bright light in the community. The packed house was certainly a testament to how much she touched everyone here.

Sunday, we spent the afternoon hiking in San Luis with a friend. I wore my running shoes (big mistake), thinking, “it is the dry season after all”. We traversed a riverbed and found ourselves shin deep in mud in some places…”Slippery When Wet”! You seem to discover muscles you never knew you had as you try to carefully balance yourself over the slimy rocks.

I am aggressively searching for a job and am hopeful I can find something I can do remotely using the internet. I am working my way through a list of 100 US Corporations who have a presence here in Costa Rica. I’m on the “H’s”, so many more hours to go. I remember my days at Harris and JP Morgan, especially the latter, where I spent 12 hours on the phone in overlapping conference calls with NY, Asia and London (meeting in person was a thing of the past), so perhaps working from Monteverde is not so far-fetched, after all, we do have internet, Skype and telephone service ☺. I am very aware that I may be sticking my foot back into the ‘corporate waters” and that does concern me but I would hope I am wiser from this experience and unwilling to jump back into a high-stress/passionless position. Finding the balance is a constant struggle, whether you’re in Chicago or in the tiny community of Monteverde. If we are to stay another year, I need to work, that is a fact, so I press on, using my mornings to surf the net, post for jobs and network. As they say here….”Vamos a Ver”.

The school’s new building project is ‘on-hold’ as the Meeting stops to consider the big picture and how this project fits within their master plan. Holding now is the smart and prudent thing to do, as “pushing” in a community such as this, would be fatal. There is a four-hour workshop planned for this Saturday at the school to work on their long-term vision. I’ve been personally invited to attend by a few, so Mike will enjoy a day at the beach with Veronica and friends as I stay back this time to participate in this visionary meeting.

I am stretching my thighs and hips as I set out on my daily walk, down the Trocha to San Luis in attempt to prepare my legs and lungs to start running again, It is hard to run when you can’t breathe due to allergies. Anyone who knows the Trocha, knows this is no cakewalk – it kicks my butt, and I thought I was in decent shape. It is straight down about 3 KM and then back up. I know longer have to stop three or four times on the way up, so I must be getting stronger. I don’t look forward to turning around when I reach the bottom (in all honesty), but uphill is certainly more forgiving on the ole knees! I still can’t believe Raul (Gaudy’s husband) can run up in 16 minutes…are you kidding me? Maybe someday, but for now, I am a proud 46 year old just knowing I make it down and back in one piece each day. The vistas are divine, especially now that the weather has just (within the last five days or so) turned calm, hot, bright and sunny. Walking down into the valley of San Luis, there is a sharp contrast of the blue sky, the gleaming waters of the Gulf of Nicoya against the many shades of green in the surrounding forests, pastures and valleys that ARE San Luis.

Mike enjoyed a day with the kids and other families last weekend as they caravanned to a river ½ way down the mountain to frolic in kid-size waterfalls and enjoy the outdoors. This is truly what I love about this place – the “play” is pure, natural and quite often, spontaneous! No plastic toys, buzzers, bells, whistles, cables for video games or TV needed.

Speaking of cables, the boys have been enjoying the zip line. We’ve since added another rule to the “Zip Line Guidelines” Poster that is taped to the inside of the main door of our house “No Doubles”….this we learned the hard way ☺

We had the pleasure of watching a little 2 ½ year old girl for four days as her parents had to leave town to take care of a medical situation. I sort of cringe when I say this….but….”What a difference a third child (of a different age) makes”. She completely changed the dynamics of the house (for the better). Mike saw my maternal instinct kick into high gear as I doted on this little one and enjoyed having another female to balance out the boy-ness in the home. I had a most difficult time relinquishing the little princess back into the arms of her parents. The boys immediately fell into the big-brother role and were so protective and gentle. Mike is glad to know that I was ‘tongue and cheek’ when I said, “perhaps we need to think about adopting a third child?”….for all you wondering out there….we are just fine being a foursome! SIGH, SIGH, SIGH!

The boys are signed up for Karate-Do at the local Bell Bird School. We are hoping the school can secure the 10 kids needed to have the teacher take this on. Mike attended the orientation a couple of weeks ago and was very impressed with the teacher – of course, the boys are eager to practice their kicks, we, on the other hand, are all about the discipline and self-control that is so much a part of this art.

Wilford Guindon continues to struggle with his health and is back in the hospital in San Jose. The Guindon children take turns being with him and are very thankful for the prayers from near and far.

Last night, I got a call to be formally asked to support the newly formed Religious Education Committee under the Meeting. This would entail planning and coordinating the Sunday morning worship time for children – I am eager to learn more about the program and how I can contribute.

I also hear from one of the boy’s teachers that there is a church in Cartago (near San Jose) who has an interest in starting something here in the zone. I think the church is affiliated with the Baptist church, so I may be planning a trip down to Cartago with Miss Elieth to check it out.

Well – if I want to get this posted, I better close for now – the kids are off to the beach and my 4-hour workshop at the School starts in 45 minutes.

P.S. - Mike is in a baking mood (good for us) - lots of wheat bread with yummy seasame seeds and Irish Soda Bread! I married the right guy!

Signed: S

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Zip Lining = Hours of Fun

I wish I had more ZIP in me right now, but it is late and I have a big day ahead of me searching for a job, so this post will be short and sweet.

Zip line is fully functional, perhaps, more importantly Zip Line Rules created by and communicated to the kids; flooding of neighborhood kids....only a matter of time :)

Stay tuned for more detail...


Signed: S