Friday, December 30, 2011


Here are some pictures of Christmas down in Costa Rica! I have no idea why those boxes are there... can't fix it.  Oh well.  Enjoy the pics.
Making Christmas cookies at one of the children's homes. Thanks to Jason and Kerby for organizing this and inviting us!
Kate was very serious about rolling out her cookie dough.
Esteban, the house dad, or "tio", helping the bigger kids punch out cookies.
Esteban, Kerby, Gabby, and Jason on the edge, con "muchas galletas".
Joe told Kate that she needed to do the Christmas-Eve-Present-Dance before she opened her gift.  Here she is breakin' it down!
Going crazy...
Christmas Pajamas!
And giraffe slippers.
In the Christmas spirit.
I made a lemon meringue pie.  Yum!
The set up on Christmas morn.
She wasn't quite sure what to think...
New balance bike.
Twin tiaras.
Mike N Ikes - she at the entire candy-cane container that morning.
More stocking unstuffing...
An edible Christmas.  We went crazy on Kate, but only got junk food for each other!  Doritos and Mountain Dew are super expensive here, so they're worthy to be gifts.  Well, kind of.
Cinnamon roll dough - tripled in size after rising for 1.5 hrs!
On the new bike!
Christmas morning breakfast.
It was a great weekend of family time, gift-giving, cooking, and eating way too much food!  We not only survived our first Christmas here in Costa Rica, but we quite enjoyed ourselves!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


I’m sure all of you are busy preparing for Christmas!  Only 3 days left!  We too have been busy and our days have been full.  Even though I try to plan in advance, there are still cards to make, gifts to wrap, and goodies to prepare.  Here is little recap of some of our holiday festivities and a preview of the upcoming weekend:

Thursday: Kate had her little performance at the daycare/church. She did great and really enjoyed herself, without even crying that much when she saw us.  Her class performed with mini hula-hoops.  It was all a bit unorganized – kids were either crying, free-styling, looking like a deer in headlights, or just randomly moving the hoop around.  It was pretty funny/cute/darling though to see them all up on stage.

The weekend: We went on a double date to Outback with friends on Friday (all the way on the other side of town... Kate had a baby-sitter and kept saying before, "I don't like baby-seeter".  So cute.) We planned our Christmas menu and events for the week, and met the owner of the house we rent here – she and her husband live/work in Mexico.

Monday: We were invited to a Christmas party-BBQ for the construction workers at the Project that our friends the Griffiths put on.  It was a lovely event with delicious food: grilled meat, tortillas, and homemade pico de gallo.  Afterwards, we headed over to one of the children’s homes to have dinner with our friends Candace and Aaron. (We met Candace 8 years ago when we first were down in Costa Rica.  She’s been serving at Project Abraham for 9 years and married Aaron, a Tico, a few years ago.  Now they are house parents).

Tuesday: We had Spanish class in the morning and we went over to the other children’s homes in the afternoon, where Gabby and Esteban are the house parents.  It was a great opportunity to get to know them and to practice our slowly improving Spanish.  We had cafecito and pan with them and our friends Jason and Kerby.  What a treat!

Wednesday: The Gringa Girls’ Christmas Party!  I baked cookies in the morning and then engorged myself on delicious treats at the fiesta, which was held at Candace’s house.  I forgot my camera, but the food and décor were picture perfect!


Tomorrow: We have our last Spanish class before a week off and then we head back to the children’s home in the afternoon to make cookies with the kids (Kerby and Jason are heading this up).  It surely will be a festive (and fattening) afternoon.

The weekend: We will eat… again. And spend time together as a family.  And exchange gifts.  And celebrate the birth of Jesus.

During this holiday season, we are reminded again and again of our many blessings and count you all as one of them.  Thank you all being a part of our lives!  May you all have a very Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Animal Kingdom

When I went to get Kate out of bed early on Monday morning, I heard a strange sound. 

“Joe, what is that sound?”
“I think it’s just a drill or something.” (There is a lot of construction around our street).
“Are you sure?… it sounds more like an animal to me…”

Kate and I started to walk down the hallway towards the kitchen but we only made it a few steps before I stopped dead in my tracks.

“Joe – come here.  Right now.” 

Let me back up for a moment and explain that we have this strange solarium in our house.  It’s totally enclosed, like a giant glass cage with a floor of pebbles.  Everyone who comes over jokes we should get a pet iguana or turtle to put inside.  It would be perfect for that.
The random "solarium" or "cage".
The roof.  It looks pretty enclosed, right?
Well, on this particular morning, we did have a “pet” inside.  I guess it’s not as “enclosed” as we thought.  This stray cat that we had seen just a few days before had somehow managed to jump in through the bars from a side roof.  The sound we were hearing was an animal – the sounds of the low growls and deep meowing of this newcomer cat reacting to our cat Fernando, who was very concerned about having another feline in the house.  The cat was also hissing and batting at Kate through the window any time she got close… 
El gato.
Scared and mad.
Fernando going at him.
We strategized over breakfast how to get him out without a consequent attack that would result in contracting rabies (Joe’s fear, not mine).  Joe finally ended up agreeing that opening up the little door to inside of the solarium and letting him sprint through the house towards the open back door was indeed the best plan, so that’s what we did.  Kate and I went behind closed doors, while Joe, with broom in hand for ultimate protection, let the felino out – and luckily all went as planned!

This was definitely an interesting start to our week!

To top off the start to our Monday, we ended with discovering something from the animal kingdom that was far more disturbing than having a random cat in our house: giant, brownish-red, ants.  By the hundreds.  Crawling out of the wood surrounding the chimney and dying in droves.  We had our yard sprayed for ants just last Thursday and all weekend we kept on seeing these huge ants crawl across our floor sporadically.  We’d rarely seen this big of ant in our house; thankfully our ant problem is with much smaller ants.  So this was kind of weird to suddenly see all these huge ants marching across the tile. 

Then on Monday evening we discovered where they were coming from.  I think I was arranging something Christmas-y on the mantle when I suddenly noticed a huge pile of dead ants in the corner by the chimney.  They were coming up from this crack and many were still struggling for survival, lying on their backs squirming around.  It was so gross!  We cleaned them all off, only to find a hundred more in the same spot just hours later… and they continue to come up!!
This doesn't truly show the quantity of the hormigas - it genuinely was a couple hundred!
We swept them up... and then more crawled up the cracks.
 We’re still not sure what’s going on – probably the spray poisoned their nest underground and they were trying to move away from it and ended up inside our house.  A few of them survive and we find many staggering desperately around on our floor before they are squashed and crunched by our shoe.  So we continue our extermination efforts… at least they are dead or dying and not alive and thriving!!

Yesterday, Kate had her “end of the year” party at school and today is the last day and her “Clausura” Christmas performance is in the evening.  We also have a big meeting this morning with all the other people volunteering down here at the Project.  The meeting is to discuss the vision for the Project in the following year.  We’ll post an update and hopefully some cute pictures of Kate in her performance this weekend!  Until then, here are a couple random pictures of Kate “dancing”, top off, tutu on!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


We spent the weekend helping out at the children's homes because one set of house parents was out of town.  We played with the kids, helped to prepare meals, and practiced our Spanish.

In the other house, the "tios" (aunts/uncles - what they call the house parents) were making the traditional Costa Rican Christmas cuisine: tamales.  If you've never seen one, it's a whole bunch of comida rica (like maiz, garbanzo beans, green beans, carrots, pork, etc.) beautifully wrapped up into banana leaves, tied off, and then boiled in a pot over a fire for two hours.  It takes hours of prep work and we were just lucky enough to witness the preparation and even luckier to eat one later.  These are truly a work of art!
Emilia cleaning the banana leaves and Kerby trimming them.
Inside the tamale
Wrapped and ready to be cooked.  Like little presents.
Los ninos.
Kate enjoying being pushed in el carrito.
Lovin' the computer - even the baby!
Kate taking a turn pushing Caia.
Joe's curls - that's where Kate gets hers from!
Crazy, big hair.  Time for a haircut.   

In other news: We've been having "concerts" lately at home.  Kate says, "I wanna dance!"  We say, "What kind of dancing/music?"  She says, "Dirty Dancing!"... because we've been rockin' out to the awesome Dirty Dancing soundtrack lately.  We sport headbands and use maracas for mics.  Oh, bring on the memories of my childhood when my cousins and I would sing our hearts out to Wilson Philips' "Hold On" using our hairbrushes as microphones.  Like mother, like daughter I guess...
Kate singing her heart out.

Just look at her face!
Underwear on the cabeza is a new trend around here.  Especially during breakfast.