Hola, Colombia!

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We arrived in Pereira and first thoughts, I think we’re gonna like it here.

On Sunday morning we took a stroll to find food and found that the streets had closed for bikers, there were exercise classes happening in the park, soccer games, doggie play areas, vendors selling fresh fruits and juices (even doggie treats!), and families galore.

I can’t say exactly why, but standing in the middle of all of that, I started to tear up.

I think because it all just felt so normal. So much like the Chicago life we loved. We had taken hot showers with plenty of water, slept sweetly in our high rise rental, and found city people doing city things. It felt like home.

We only have a few days here and then it’s on to Bogota and Medellin. I’m already sucked in to the color, the politeness, the modernness of it all and I can’t wait to see what awaits!

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Packing Light

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Packing day! We’re wrapping up our month in Nicaragua and heading to Colombia tomorrow! If you’ve ever wondered what three people sharing one suitcase looks like, well, here ya go. We each have a row (which is probably more than most travel families, but it *is* me we’re talking about) and the space left on top is for toiletries, shoes, and toys. This, two backpacks, and one ukulele is how we roll!

I wish I had some great tips but honestly, it’s hard. And truthfully, as silly as it sounds, each packer just has to find her way. I can tell you I’m a folder, not a roller. And ziplock bags are your friend. (Forget all those cutesy little travel cases! They eat up too much valueable weight and space.) Oh, and solid tops for the win. (Spice ’em up with some bright jewelry! Shameless plug.)

When I packed for our move to Costa Rica I did it all wrong. (But everyone says they all got it wrong the first time, too. Maybe that was just to make me feel better??) I just waaaay too much stuff overall, and too much of the wrong stuff. Over the past few months I’ve learned (and edited!) a lot and am a lot more comfortable living with less.

After all, there’s something freeing about knowing you can throw it all in a suitcase at a moment’s notice and go!

Speaking of go, I’d better… Catch ya from Colombia!

 

The rest of Granada

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I’ve been hunkering down working on Fosterie, we’ve been sweating tons (did I mention it’s hot here?), and drinking our weight in 2 for 1 mojito’s in town. The month has flown by and looking back probably could have been a bit more productive than it was. (I blame the heat.) We got into certain routines; staying in during the day, venturing out for walks in the afternoon, and catching the breeze on the calzada in the evenings. We discovered a slew of new places that I’ll update on the guide shortly, and for the most part have really enjoyed living in this colorful, happy town. I think we’re a little antsy to move on, mainly/probably because our water situation at our rental was never really improved (bummer!) but also because we’ve got somewhere completely new on the books. South America, here we come. Next stop…Colombia!

But first, a few favorite moments from this month in Granada.

Screenshot_2016-01-10-18-04-16~01IMG_20160123_233953I didn’t do it but it was fun to pretend like I did.

Screenshot_2016-01-04-11-42-46~01Our favorite spot at The Garden Cafe.

IMG_20160124_104105My little girl, looking big.

IMG_20160126_081804 (1)IMG_20160128_083553Because horses clop by constantly, Evelina learned how to click her tongue to make the horsey sound. She would even hear their hooves before we could see them and start making the noise. So cute!

IMG_20160119_172903The worst mani/pedi ever. I mean, seriously, look at that mess! I was going to mention the name of the place until I talked a few ladies who had similar experiences all over town. So I guess the moral of this story is, just don’t. My whole experience was bizarre.

Screenshot_2016-01-10-21-06-48-01IMG_20160120_211422For the first week or so in our new place I thought we just had really loud neighbors. Then we heard about the Nicaraguan equivalent of the World Series happening and realized that the stadium is only a few blocks from home. Cheers, fireworks, horns! And the mascot is a shark so I bought a t-shirt ;) 

IMG_20160203_160452IMG_20160202_095752IMG_20160116_142245 IMG_20160129_215754IMG_20160123_005709I kind of love how in Granada you can just walk up to a pretty little random window like this and buy a snack or a bottle of water. Many families run small “shops” from their living room window or gated front door, you just stand outside and tell them what you’d like. Business hours depend on when someone’s home, and the selection is usually pretty small. There might be a small handwritten sign with a few details, like “agua aquí”, or not. Quite the contrast from running into Target or a 7/11!

IMG_20160127_200934Forever trying to keep her from eating things off the ground…

Screenshot_2016-01-09-07-35-30~01~01~01Representing Tennessee!

IMG_20160201_230145IMG_20160331_095844 IMG_20160116_064042IMG_20160116_083624The neighborhood horse.

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It doesn’t matter where she is, she’s just happy. And that makes me happy.

Hello From The Other Side

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Of 2016 that is!

And also, because that’s the only song I think they’re allowed to play here in Granada at the moment. Oh wait, just kidding! Also, Bieber’s “Sorry“.

We arrived on the 6th and pounded the pavement until we found a nice (brand new!) apartment just on the edge of town. It felt wonderful to sleep on a brand new mattress with brand new sheets and dry off with brand new towels and snuggle on a new couch to watch a new TV. (Are you sensing a theme here?)

It’s been awhile since we lived in “luxury”, as well as stay somewhere long enough to unpack the suitcase, so we’re kind of being homebodies and taking advantage of cable and WiFi and cooking and all the simple pleasures of having a home, not a hostel or hotel or studio rental. Because as much as we love our Airbnb’s, sometimes it’s nice to feel settled even if it’s only for a month.

But because it’s Central America, there’s always gotta be something and this time it wasn’t just hot water, but water in general. So our new home became a place we had to strategically schedule our lives around. Everything from bathroom breaks and showers to meals and laundry revolved around weird, “There might be water this evening.” and “We have a trickle! Time to shower!” mantra’s. Luckily after 2 weeks it seems back to normal, at least we hope.

Otherwise, we had two friends visit from Costa Rica, I took Spanish lessons for one week (which wasn’t nearly enough but still helpful), and have been strumming on my ukulele daily (in between Evelina’s short naps). I wouldn’t say I can play, more like ‘make noise’ at this point, but practice makes perfect, right?

Plus it’s just as colorful as I remember, which makes me happy.

And oh yeah, and it’s hot. Reeeally, hot. (That I had kind of forgotten about!)

Happy New Year

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Hello 2016!

We welcomed the New Year low-key style in Samara, Costa Rica. Our friends from Chicago were visiting for a bit and were so kind to let us crash at their beautiful rental for a few days. We were able to ring in 2016 watching fireworks from the balcony and ease in to a new year in this quiet Pacific coast beach town.

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We took a very long and bumpy sightseeing drive, jumped in the ocean a few times, watched howler monkey’s from the balcony, listened to the roar of the local rodeo, and had a mini emergency when the condo dog bit a porcupine. (Eek!) It was great to be with familiar faces for a few days and we were pushed to the last minute to find a temporary home for January. After exhausting our options and realizing that our travel budget doesn’t mesh with Costa Rica’s high season, it’s off to Granada, Nicaragua we’ll go. Catch ya later!

Travel Inspired Birthday

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We celebrated Evelina’s first birthday at the zoo in San Jose, Costa Rica. Our wobbly walker was all over the place, pointing and looking like she knew just what to do. A real animal lover, that one.

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Shortly after, we followed it up with a travel inspired party in Tennessee for family and friends. It was held at the airport in a nice spot overlooking the runway, which felt perfect for our tiny traveler.

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The tassel banner was the same one we used at our baby shower and it hangs in Evelina’s room in Tennessee. The travel cases were my Grandmother’s. (Evelina has her feet! :) I stuffed one with pink roses, and filled the other with popcorn.

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I ordered two simple white cakes to decorate myself. The pom banner is from Michael’s and my Mom had the “E” on hand in her craft supplies. The globe and silver plane were also decor Mom had on hand. I was all about using things we already had!

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I cut triangles out of an old atlas to make a banner, printed square prints at Walgreens of our favorite photo’s from this year, and pinned them up with miniature clothes pins.

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The second, larger cake was decorate with a paper pom and tiny paper airplanes.

The butterfly is from…Big Lots!

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I also scooped up her intials at Micheal’s for a buck each! Perfect to use in her room later!

Travel party

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I created a photo backdrop with gold wrapping paper and poms. We took lots of group photos but unfortunately my camera settings were off and they’re not exactly blog worthy, but memory worthy for sure!

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Happy Birthday, E!

We love you!

 

Evelina – One Year

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I feel like I was just posting her first monthly update, and here we are, one year in. And what a year it’s been!

That little face up there, I kiss 1,000 times per day. Watching her personality develop has been one of the biggest highlights of my year. Motherhood is quite a ride. A combination of heightened emotions, a new kind of exhaustion, and amazement. From watching her discover her hands, to feel helpless over her first “boo boo”. The excitement when she started sitting up, and then all of a sudden, becoming a wobbly walker. The change and growth in the first twelve months is really just unbelievable to me sometimes, and I’m so grateful for these moments.

Here is what life looked like in month twelve:

Stats:

  • Weight: 21.5 pounds
  • Length: 23.5
  • Eyes: blue
  • Hair: blonde
  • Size:  size three diapers.  Size 9 – 12 months in clothes.
  • Looks: Like Alex and various family members on certain days. So interesting!
  • Personality: Happy and ENERGETIC. She’s a girl on the go! She got a heart full of love, kissing or patting on people and objects.
  • Nicknames: Juice, Juicy, Jubish, Bubishta, E
  • Feeding/Sleeping:  Still getting formula but loving solids, too. Potatoes, green beans, fruit smoothies, and bites of anything we’re eating are her recent favorites. She doesn’t seem to like cold foods at the moment, even food she likes otherwise. Bedtime is around 7-8pm and wake up is at 6:30/7am. She takes a decent morning nap but afternoon rest is hit or miss.

 

Likes:

  • Animals. The pointing, the “mwah”-ing, it’s just too sweet!
  • Walking! She took her first steps on November 2nd and life became a big game of chase ever since.
  • Laughing. Especially a big, over-exaggerated laugh like her dad.
  • Remote controls, Christmas ornaments, plastic kitchen items
  • Giving hugs! And they are the best, head laid on the shower, maybe a pat or two, kind of hugs. The BEST I tell you.
  • Reading book.
  • Rubbing baby powder on her belly after shower.
  • Putting things in, and taking things out.
  • Discovering everything. 
  • Events and excitement. She is definitely an extrovert.

 

Dislikes:

  • Playing alone.
  • Blankets. She has a 6th sense for kicking them off in her sleep.
  • Sitting in high chairs.

 

Other highlights and happenings this month: 

  • Trips to Playa del Carmen and Cancun
  • Pointing to “ask” for things.
  • Pigtails!
  • Shaking her head “yes” and “no”.
  • Saying a few words: bottle, baby, bubble (which all kind of sound like “babu”), Ellie or (“eh-yi”) for her elephant paci, mama, dada, and a very high pitched “ki-ki” when she sees a kitty.
  • The 7th and 8th teeth.
  • Discovered the fun of parks. Slides and swings are ok, but grass and dirt are better. :)
  • First Thanksgiving.

Adiós, Mexico

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Tomorrow we leave Mexico and we’re pretty sad about it. If everyone were as nice as Mexicans the world would be a better place. From helping us with our limited Spanish to lending a hand when needed, we’ve been touched by the kindness we’ve felt over the last few weeks. From Puerto Morelos, to Tulum, to Playa del Carmen, and finally Cancún – it’s a little hard to believe we’ve been here for more than a month, the time truly as flown. The days were a blur of baby life, beach moments, and spreading the buzz about my new biz, Fosterie.

In a few days we’ll celebrate Evelina’s first birthday (and if you think I’m shock that this is happening you’d be correct.) Then, it’s time to head home for the holidays (and hopefully cool off a bit.) I can’t think of a better way to close out this year than spending time with my family in Tennessee. We started this adventure almost six months ago and as wonderful as it is, everyone needs a little break once in a while.

Birthday updates and more coming this way soon!

Thanksgiving & Grace

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If I could only choose one thing to be thankful for this year, it would have to be this little girl right here. At this time last November, I was in the final days of pregnancy. And this year, we’re a little less than a week away from celebrating her first birthday. (And, no, I have no idea how that happened either.)

I never could have imagined anything quite like this motherhood journey. The amount of love. The instincts. The savoring of every moment so much it hurts. Every age and stage is bittersweet. From the first moment I held her, the first time she smiled, rolled, sat, stood, cooed, crawled, and most recently, walked. It’s a year of never-ending firsts that happen all to quickly. A new skill or funny face, transformed or forgotten for the next. Don’t blink or you’ll miss it, they said. I didn’t blink, but I already miss it.

This is my last “first” holiday with her and I’m emotional about it.

Alex asks me why I always want to cry when we talk about her growing. And I really don’t know. I’m happy she’s happy. Healthy. Smart. And sweet. As much as she’s learning, also am I. The love she brings to this life is as tangible as reaching out and grabbing it. She has Evelina Grace’d my life with the hugest blessings that come in the form of petite moments. Seeing eyes light up at her first baby doll, experiencing my parents as grandparents, my friends as “aunties”, her tiny, tender hugs, the joy she (and we) find in simple things.

It’s a love so pure and astounding that I think maybe I fear one day it’ll disappear, as quickly as her cute snorty face laugh, or her tiny kicking chicken legs all day every day until one day they just didn’t. But then she started giggling like a little girl and it made my heart smile even bigger. And she stopped kicking because she decided to walk. When she holds my finger for support with her tiny hand my insides turn into a puddle of mush. And maybe that’s why I cry. Because I’m so happy about what she’s done that I forget to think about what’s to come. And because I don’t want to forget a single second of it.

I am so grateful for the “firsts”. And glad they were the first of “many’s”.

So here’s to the past, the present, and everything beyond.

Happy Thanksgiving from me and mine to you and yours!

(And thank you for reading the words I write and supporting me here and elsewhere. It truly means more than you know.)