Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Balancing Act!

Cabin Fever has set in after 14 days of straight rain - Mike just informed me that he will enlighten you all on the weather systems we've been having, so I will refrain from 'pouring' my thoughts out here regarding the rain! I wouldn't dare steal his thunder (Oh Stop Already Sally)

Thought I would share some quick pics of John's gymastics class at one of Monteverde's new Yoga studios. A friend of ours started it last year - and the kids (and parents) love it. John attends every week on Thursday at 3:30 for an hour and enjoys practicing his cartwheels, front rolls, balancing, etc.

Last week was a make-up class - only a few students participated as the rain and bad weather kept them from attending so Cath decided to focus the class on acrobatics. It was great fun - sorry my pics are so dark - again, I'll blame it on the weather.

Warming up before class!

John on Nicole's shoulders. Nicole is a teacher at the school and helps Cath with the class. It is great that John knows everyone in his class and the instructors.

Cath's turn to boost up John.

Learning PLANK with Nicole - OUCH!

Okay, I need something a little more challenging now! Come on gals - what ya got for me?

I think they call this the BACKWARD ANGEL...

So, you may ask what else we have been doing with our time...
Mike has been cooking non-stop and enjoying the non-gluten flours I picked up in San Jose two weeks ago. Since he is off gluten, we are enjoying his new experiments in the kitchen with tapioca, garbanzo bean and rice flours. The breads and pancakes that he is making are simply delish! The boys are enjoying them as well and I like the fact that they are eating less wheat products. We actually made a family affair out of making wheat free gnocchi with potatoes and rice flour. Not to mention the gluten free pizza crust recipe he found on the internet. We are hoping that the little organic market at the end of the road starts to carry other types of flours as there are many of us in the community that are getting off wheat. I actually think it is helping with my sinus problems. Oh, how I wish!

I finally signed up for some aggressive tutoring with a local tutor - three days a week for 1.5 hours each. It is a private session so I am loving the attention. I am focusing on other tenses and speaking correctly - I'm starting to speak a lot of Spanish at home now, so I figure I better speak correctly as to not be the demise of the boy's Spanish learnings :0

I will start to get very busy with planning for the Christmas Fair this year. I thought I'd try my hand at working on a different parent fundraiser this year, other than the Walkathon, so I (along with others on the committee) are leading the publicity component. We are hoping to secure the Gymnasium in Santa Elena (where the Saturday farmers market is held) - a BIG change from years past as the event is usually held at the school. Local artisens showcase their wares and the parents make tamales and bring other food to sell. Most items for sale are home-made and make great Christmas gifts. We will hope to pull in more tourists this year with the venue being smack dab in the middle of Santa Elena. Feliz Navidad!

Finally, congratulations to some very special people, Josh for completing Basic Training and Turning Blue! Zach, my God son, Happy Birthday and little Charlie, Happy Birthday!

Signed: S

Friday, October 14, 2011

Soggy in Samara!

A week's vacation - oh, what shall we do? Let's hit the beach and soak up some sun! Sounds good guys - when do we leave? A grand plan, so we thought! Up until about a week ago, the rainy season has been almost non-existent. Beautiful sunny weather, a 'breeze' to dry clothes outside and only a light rain or thunderstorm in the late afternoon or evening. Out came the map, car gassed up, clothes thrown into a suitcase, a caregiver for Tookie, and we're off!

Playa Samara came highly recommended to us as being a great kid-family friendly beach. Hotel Fenix, another great recommendation from some MFS teachers as a "gotta stay hotel" - plans were coming together and we were off by 10 a.m. Monday morning. We awoke Monday to a constant rain which (little did we know), would be the start of a long, drawn out low pressure system which would linger over Central American for more than a week.

The three hour trip to Samara was uneventful, rain constant and me behind the wheel negotiating the slick roads! We arrived around 1 p.m. at Hotel Fenix and were greeted by Phyllis and Bill, the owners, Seattle transplants! The hotel is right on the beach with six rooms (all equipped with kitchens) that face a small pool and garden. Beyond the pool are palm trees, loungers and hammocks which lead you right to the beach. I can only imagine the place splashed with sunshine - but not this trip!

We stayed the first night in what they call "the Deluxe Room"! It has a TV in the bedroom, air conditioning (which we did not use) and a redone kitchen and bathroom. Very nice, but we actually preferred the other room we had the last night of our stay which was less 'fancy', no air conditioning, but with all the creature comforts of home. All the rooms had a great view of the pool so I could keep my eyes on the boys splashing around while doing the dishes or pouring myself a glass of wine. Guests had access to the hotel's bodega (storage room) to help themselves to the fridge or laundry services - all that was requested was that you be on the honor system and write your room number on a receipt book which hung from a nail "2 beers, Room #5"'s that for trusting souls!

We would have loved to see the fisherman out on the water reeling in the catch of the day, but the fishing boats remained on shore due to the rocky seas.

We managed to get in about three hours of beach time over the 2 1/2 day stay! The storage room at the hotel had quite a variety of boogie boards to choose from - so the kids made their selection and they were off to conquer the surf! Oh, yes, the surf - well, it was a deep chocolate color, no turquoise/blue waters to be seen on account of Mother Nature. The waves were quite fierce due to the wind and rain, so I was all eyes looking for my two cocoa colored boys in the murky waters. They loved the experience and exhausted themselves - a great match!




John gives a THUMBS UP to Michael for a great ride!


Luckily we had loaded the laptop with some Magic Schoolbus movies, so when the heavy rains came, we had some down time and also enjoyed playing some card games. I was able to enjoy an hour's run to Playa Carrillo which was about 3.5 miles down the road. This beach was a classic, lined with palm trees and opening up to a expansive view. We ventured to Carrillo by car as well and got out to explore a bit before we again ran for cover from the rain. You can barely see John as he blended in with the rocks and dark sky with his camo attire. The surfers were coming out of the woodwork as the rains and winds picked up, braving the elements in hopes of catching the perfect wave.

Although the hotel was right on the beach, the rain soothed us to sleep rather than the ocean waves and breeze. Maybe next time!

We headed back up the mountain, it was slow going as the dirt road was covered with new pot-holes and rivulets! The rain continues and has not stopped since Monday (and here it is Friday). I just sent Mike into Santa Elena with our wet laundry to have it dried at the local bookstore (which also rents out their dryer for a small charge). For you Chicagoans, think of this as a winter blizzard (you really want to WANT to go out, make sure you have plenty of food stocked up and break out the card games, crafts and books). We read today online that the heaviest rains are yet to come tomorrow! Where is a wood stove when you need it?

Oh, and the Hermit Crabs - we are making a home for them and Mike is already investigating type of habitat and food they need to survive. I say, 'find a river and dump em'! Yet another saga...

Signed: S

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Bird Meets Cat!

Allow me to make the introductions...."Snowball meet Tookie"!

Last week, as we crossed the main road by La Colina on our way home from school, we spied a white fluff ball in the middle of the road. You can probably guess how this story ends - Kitten makes it way to the Schaefer house (the kids will tell you she followed us home), truth be told, she had some help, let's just say by two pair of eager hands! I knew I had a short window of time to find a caring home for our new friend, before my cat allergy kicked into high gear. I made an agreement with the boys that “Snowball” (it was either Snowball or Whitey) could spend one overnight with us before she had to go. I got to work quickly, made some calls and kitty was turned over to a loving family with two little girls, who I am sure, are showering her with an abundance of TLC.

The introduction...

Come on...stop being so stubborn and say hello to eachother!

Eye Contact...making progress!

Hey, What's that White Stuff in your bowl? All I get is Papaya, Avocado, Bananas and Egg? Hello...I'll have what She's Having!

Come on over Tookie - all ya gotta do is lean over and let your beak do the work!

I guess ya can teach a Toucanet New Tricks!

Hop on Kid, take a load off!

Who has the Upper Shoulder?

One Kitten Out the door, a dozen hermit crabs Enter!

Signed: S

Monday, October 10, 2011

Kin to a Barn Raising!

A tree planting party? Now that’s a first! So, when I saw this invitation on my Facebook page, I jumped at the chance to spend the morning in lower San Luis at my friend, Karen’s farm. The invitation read something like this….

Hi everyone,
You are invited to come to our farm next Saturday for a tree planting party! Our farm is within the Bellbird Biological Corridor, and since last year we have been working on reforesting a degraded part of our property with native trees. This year, we are focusing on our lower pasture, which we hope to convert into an agroforestry area which will include organic coffee and fruit trees, as well as native trees.

We have about 100+ more trees to get into the ground before the rains truly dry up, and if you'd like to help us out next Saturday morning, we'd love to have you!!
If you can make it down, please bring:
* Long pants and rain boots (long grass with potential critters)
* A shovel
* Gloves if you have or want them
* Hat, sunscreen, bug spray, etc.
* Items for potluck lunch as well as plates, utensils, etc.

We'll have lemonade and snax flowing to keep the planters full of energy

*** We are also hoping to put in a simple friendship garden near our house, made with cuttings or "hijos" of plants / flowers that our friends have in their gardens at home. If you have cuttings or favorite plants that you'd like to add to our space, we'll find a special place for them

Mike had already committed to a Saturday morning activity with a local conservationist and a group from the Monteverde Institute measuring trees (sounds right up this science teacher’s alley), so I loaded up the boys and headed down the Trocha to the San Luis valley. We gathered our boots, shovels, sunscreen and cold tuna salad (everyone needed to bring something to share for lunch), picked up a friend and her son on the way, and arrived at Karen's quaint bungalow (their little house on the prairie well before the afternoon rains).

The trees were purchased (for a donation, I think) from the University of Georgia’s campus in San Luis. After lathering up with sunscreen, I headed into the pasture with my shovel in one hand, and my trusty camera in the other. The host family welcomed us into their home and provided instruction as to what and where to plant. In some places the grass was so high, one of the guys had to power up the weed-whacker to make room to dig the holes. A mango tree here, an avocado tree there…I sure hope we can sample the fruits of our labor in a few years ☺

All in all, there were about 10 families that participated and boy, did we have fun. The older kids quickly shed their jeans for shorts and tees and headed for the river just down the road. Hours later, they appeared, wet, dirty and exhausted, but still had left over energy to practice their acrobatic skills they are learning in gymnastics class. The younger ones enjoyed the tree swing, getting in on the fun of planting and playing with little Christopher’s toys.

We’d plant a little and chat a lot, plant some more and then retire to their home for some homemade lemonade, snacks, fruit, and homemade muffins to feed the hungry work crew. Their little bungalow was so comfy, with air flowing from the back porch through the house and spilling out onto the front porch. I escaped with just a few Chigger bites and just barely rosy red shoulders.

We planted about 150 trees that morning and enjoyed the fellowship with our neighbors. I reckon this is how things happened years ago, when community members would show up to support and help with whatever was the need for the day.

We loaded up and headed back up the Trocha with several sleepy boys and one tired mom! But, wow, it was worth it.

A quick little update on Tookie –
He is thriving and is enjoying his new outside platform, which hangs from our front tree. Although we still have to keep an eye out for him, he enjoys spreading his wings out in the sunlight. He is spending a few days with a friend as we head to the beach tomorrow for a couple of days of R and R (hopefully).

We are fighting a bad virus, John suffered with a 103-degree fever Thursday when I quickly loaded him into the car and drove him to the clinic. Good news is that the clinic took us right away, bad news is that it took John projectile vomiting on himself, me and all over the waiting room floor in order to get us in promptly! Nice work John! He even scored a hospital smock on the way out, as the nurses could not bare the thought of him putting back on his shirt covered with...well, PUKE. After 2 hours at the clinic, we both enjoyed a nice shower to rid us of the vomit and then to bed. He is feeling much better, however he has shared this with Michael now, who has slept the day away and is fighting his own 102-degree fever. So, our plans to head to Samara beach tomorrow morning may be derailed due to sick kids, but the sand and sun will be there later in the week if we choose to reschedule. John is putting his smock to good use – add the cardboard shoe insert from their new soccer shoes, a rubber band and he is ready to play doctor and check out Michael’s symptoms. John says, “mom, bring on the tea with oregano and mint” – a sure fire way to kick the virus.

Good news - we are here in Samara and LOVE the FENIX hotel, right on the beach with kitchenette and all the amenities. The rain has been coming down in droves since we left Monteverde at 10 a.m. this morning, however the boys frolicked in the ocean and we got in the pool despite the downpour. I can't hear the ocean breeze over the sound of the rain! Praying for sunshine tomorrow!

Signed: S