Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Family Truck

This crew really, really loves trucks. And each other.
Coming home to your parents' house first thing after a year abroad is a nice way to re-enter. There's good food and loving hugs and kids who follow you around as if you're a queen. There are clean sheets with good thread count, swimming pools, grills, and hours that are filled to the brim with all the good things of home.

It's been two weeks of that, but now it's time for us to pack our (new) truck and get on the road, back to where we've lived for more than a decade. With leaving our family home and going out into the "real" world again comes the knowledge that not every day will be country clubs and 4 o'clock cocktail hour; it will be back to getting insurance, paying bills, packing school lunches, commuting to and from kids' activities, keeping kids from the horrible fate of being bored. Of course, it will also be home -- but with a re-entry into real reality comes the stress too. There's also fear of the unknown, which was once known, and a hope that this time we'll do things even better than the last.

Leaving our mark on the new family truck.
We are fortunate to get to come home to loving arms who send us away in the family truck -- now ours for a bargain basement price -- the very same truck that hauled nearly every single material used to build my parents' house, including giant logs and timbers. Everything, minus the concrete. In spite of that payload it's still in good shape, and now emblazoned with our own mark.

May it bring us home safely, and then back and forth to and from our other home safely many times more in the future...

When you find yourself packing school lunches once again, make the cute lunch note-writing easy with Brighten Ups -- customized notes will silly sayings, jokes, facts, quotes and more. 

Need something to help kids overcome their fear of the dark? Check out this review of Bright Time Buddies -- glow-in-the-dark friends for nighttime.

And when stress wreaks havoc on your skin, help it heal with Manuka Honey Acne treatments.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

I Love the Air, It Doesn't Love Me

I made this photo into a puzzle! Check the link at the bottom of this post.

Scenes like this are why i love the Black Hills. Sunsets over the Hills are always gorgeous and filled with color, and the summer nights are not buggy or humid or muggy or miserable as you wait for the heat to go away.

On the flip side, it is so dry here that for a person whose lungs are used to the tropics, it borders on cruel. I've already spent way too much time languishing as i get over Dengue fever -- and now the dry air is further conspiring against me. The rebelangel experienced the same thing when she arrived here -- my parents thinking she'd come down with strep throat or some other sickness.

It's funny when you look forward to something so much and want it to hurry up and happen... and then when it does, that thing or that place conspires to make you feel worse for doing it.

That's meant a lot of days reading books in bed, watching movies with the nieces and nephews, and far fewer days out in the Hills enjoying the view...

Kids need some encouragement to keep reading this summer? Check out ZipTales, an e-learning resource for kids age 2 to 12+. The link includes a free 14-day trial!

Want to make your own photos into puzzles? Check out this puzzle and this puzzle that I made -- and get more free online jigsaw puzzles at

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Great Outdoors

After a few days of being in that strange limbo of not really being here nor there, i think i'm out of it. I came into the present about the time when i started getting out into the beautiful Black Hills, where my daughter and i are spending a few weeks with our family before we head back to our beloved west coast.

Uphill biking with tween: whimpering guaranteed.
When you are surrounded by the sweet smell of warm Ponderosa pine needles, the great spires of the Needles Highway and the craggy granite of the numerous climbing spots behind Mt. Rushmore, you tend to wake up. When you're swinging from a climbing rope 20 feet off the ground, after having lost your footing, you tend to be wide awake. When you finally make it to the top, you are really, fully present. (Sorry, no photos of that feat!)

When you are huffing and puffing through the grassy trails of the Black Hills National Forest on a mountain bike, you also find yourself wide awake. The pine-needly smells, rocks, boulders, skittering animals, spooked deer and the occasional whine of your child, on a bike for almost the first time in a year, conspire to keep you far from drowsy. It is nice to have the (almost) full faculty of my body again after weeks of Dengue fever -- even if it means lots of sore spots from climbing, biking and eating far too much wonderful, very-much-missed cheese.

Too much cheese and a foreign climate have given me less-than-ideal skin. Fortunately, there are products like Royal Canadian Laboratories' all-natural Mineral Water Spray to help with that...

Have a tween who prefers video games to biking in the forest? Lucky Gameplay's channel has lots of tips, including this one for Minecraft.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Parks and Grass

Splash pad with the niece and nephew
There's nothing like being in a place with very little for families to do to make you really, really appreciate how much your country has to offer.

Nicaragua is rife with lakes and beaches, but it's seriously lacking in parks and grass. Sometimes, all you want to do is to pack a picnic basket, lay down a blanket and chill under a swaying tree. Sure, you could try that in Nicaragua, but ants would quickly populate your blanket and the poky pseudo-grass would come to assault you.

When night comes at six p.m. in Nicaragua, it's either go to some plaza and drink a few beers, or hole up in the house and read books and go to bed early. Now being somewhere where there's live music every night, festivals and gatherings nearly every weekend, splash parks open all the time, green grass waiting for picnics, and parks galore to give the kids something to do, it's almost overwhelming.

So when we take these things for granted, all you need to do is remove yourself for a year or so and you'll get that gratitude right back.

Need a forum to inspire your creativity, meet others, or make dream collages and dream boards? Check out the new social site, -- and also see the access code in this blog's sidebar.

New York friends -- looking for things to do? Kudago gives you free things to do in NYC with kids, or without!

Monday, July 13, 2015


Everyone knows about culture shock and reverse culture shock and how it can mess you up for a while. So far, about five days into being back on American soil, i wouldn't say i'm "messed up," but perhaps just "out of it."

There's this limbo that happens for a time, on both sides. Before you leave the place you've been planning to leave, friends say things like "you're already there!" after you've remarked for the fifth or tenth time how you're looking forward to real cheese and the lack of catcalling when you wear short shorts.

On the other side, you tend to observe conversations instead of participate in them fully. You remark in your head about the rainbow of colors of the people -- black, white, Asian, Native... instead of only light brown. You get surprised when you don't have to struggle to eavesdrop on people's conversations or think about how you're going to formulate a certain sentence. You no longer have to think about how to conjugate the imperfect past or the preterite or wonder if you've used some dumb slang they only use in one remote part of one other country, where you don't live. You're suddenly a part of things, you fit in... even if you're not fully participating just yet.

It's like you put yourself in this strange, fuzzy bubble a few days before departure, and you don't unzip the bubble until at least a few days after you arrive. It's not culture shock, per se, but maybe just a haze where you belong nowhere yet. And yet, perhaps you've always belonged everywhere, and that's why it's all so strange...


In case you're in need of a way to find your center and to re-engage, check out the Peace Starter Meditation Relax app on Google Play.

Meanwhile, before you travel, pick up one of Kelly Rose's handmade pencil bags for your kiddo's backpack. One of a kind and made with love!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Moving by Plane

There's something so simple about being able to move by airplane. Everything you need -- and more -- is folded and piled up and zipped into a few bags, stacked neatly by the door in wait of your departure time. You and a taxi driver are able to load everything -- everything you've cared about and cared for during the past year -- into a car in a matter of about two minutes. That's it.
Always ready to roll to the next destination.

It seems so simple, yes, but for me, that "adventure" also included hauling a giant iMac desktop computer on the plane with me. For someone who does video editing, a laptop that snugs neatly into a backpack simply won't do -- and especially for an entire year. So that meant wrapping the computer in bubble wrap, placing it in a duffel bag, and praying for mercy from the flight attendants who were going to see me coming down the aisle with a dog carrier duffel bag, a huge purse that was more like another duffel bag, and this other duffel bag that could barely -- if at all -- slide into that carry-on size measuring thing they set outside the gates.

When you move by truck, you don't necessarily have to pray for mercy from flight attendants or have to pare down your stuff to two suitcases and two duffel bags, nor stuff your little dog under a seat for an entire day. It is a weird way to move, and though it doesn't include very much stuff, it is stressful nonetheless. I arrived back home in the USA very sweaty and sore from lugging a computer and a dog and an extra duffel around customs halls and long terminals in three different airports. But alas, i arrived, and buying a big green salad was one of the first things i did when i was able to put down my burdens.

Moving by plane, though, means unpacking and reorganizing gets easier. You have only a couple suitcases to sort through in order to find all the things you need to restart life. So that's something...

New parent looking for help getting this new part of your life? Read You've Got This Mama: Tips for New Parents.

Looking for a way to get your kids going on a career path? Check out appendTo -- helping kids (and adults) learn about web coding.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Nicaragua, Nicaraguita

We came in the night, when there was little to see but the occasional man walking down the highway, and dusty streets that looked menacing and deserted.
Bye bye Granada...

I left in the night too, or early morning rather, when there was little to see but everything. Beyond the black i saw the friends sleeping in their colonial houses, the yellow cathedral lighting the way in the center of the city, the children rising early from the barrios to milk the cows before school, the cyclists and runners lacing up sneakers to exercise before the heat of the day. I saw the mountains, the lakes, the forests and the dusty plains.I heard but could not hear the sounds of the bombas, the bachata sweetly playing for breakfast, the mothers calling to children and chasing away the neighborhood dogs, hoping for a morsel of morning gallo pinto. I saw Nicaragua in my mind's eye as if she were actually visible. I felt but could not feel Nicaragua, Nicaraguita, one last time.

Two hours later i saw her getting smaller and smaller as we rose up in the sky and flew away from her -- her glassy lagos inside and between volcanoes, steaming and barely glowing like put-out matchsticks. She became poetic in my mind's eye again, as she could not as i was waiting to leave her.

So it is with so many things -- you think you want away, away, but the moment you do so, you see all the reasons you could have stayed.


Let your kids bring their worlds to life with the Quiver app, bring your coloring pages to life in 3D. Simply print, color, play!

Monday, July 6, 2015

The Dengue Diet

Such a short time before i go, and Nicaragua has designed to humble me as much as possible. What i thought was a pretty standard virus -- the kind you can catch nearly anywhere -- lingered and lingered until i realized that all of my symptoms were exactly in line with that more dreaded ailment: Dengue Fever, brought on by a silent, day-biting mosquito. Aedes Aegypti is not like the bird-size mosquitoes we have in Minnesota. It doesn't buzz around your ear and it doesn't swarm just after a rain. It bites in the early morning and just before dark, on silent wings, so you don't know it's coming.
Meanwhile, this guy awaits a really good walk.

Our house is well screened in, and i am diligent about keeping said screens closed -- but as they say, it only takes one to get you sick. At its worst, Dengue can cause hemorrhages, bleeding from the eyes, and other macabre symptoms. Even the mild cases can cause fever, muscle and joint pain, and a pain behind the eyes, all lasting for a week or two. As someone who almost never skips the morning coffee, i'd thought that pain behind the eyes was a lingering caffeine withdrawal -- but nope. Dengue.

Even the name evokes images of voodoo and violent deaths inside grass huts. If i said it didn't freak me out a little to be going through this alone, with very few friends left in town (they've all gone for summer) and even my daughter gone, i'd be stretching the truth.

The other thing about Dengue is that it makes you tired, far longer than the fever and the body aches last. Like imagine taking out the trash and then needing to go in and rest. As you can imagine, this is not how i imagined spending my last days in Nicaragua -- getting so up close and personal to my bed that i began to damn the firm mattress and the low thread count sheets in this rental house for not being there for me. Washing laundry and packing my bags became something i'd do mañana, mañana...

On the bright side, i have my class reunion coming up and i could have stood to drop a few pounds. Living here, where there just aren't the number of social activities that we're used to back home in Portland, drinking a few cold Toñas (beer) on a patio somewhere becomes the nightly entertainment. Mariachis will come and sing you a tune for some cash, street boys will bring you flowers they created from palm fronds (for money), and a street dancing troupe will pass the hat to show you their acrobatic dance -- but still, drinking -- and dancing -- takes top bill. I knew i needed to slow that down... so in the spirit of drilling down the drinking, looking forward to yet another new life, and slimming down before i slipped into a sleeveless white pantsuit for the reunion, i had to welcome the Dengue diet, just a little. We have to look on the bright side, right?

Need a bit more humor in your life? Two things for you:

Driving Grandpa is a book about a spunky grandpa and the grandson who drives him around. Check it out and give it a review on GoodReads! 

Need a funny gift? Check out the Stinky Candle Co. -- horrible stinky candles in flavors such as wet dog and ferret breath.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Up North

In summer a lot of Minnesotans pack their cars, hitch up the boat and go "up north" for a week or more -- where lakes, boat rides, fishing and escaping the humidity take up the majority of the days. Just before i came to Nicaragua, i too was "up north" in Minnesota. This year, about the same time of year, i was also "up north," but up north in Nicaragua, once again trying to escape the humidity. Here, "up north" means high mountains, coffee country, cool air (a welcome relief) and lush forests.

These are just some of the things to see.
Waterfall selfie.

Waterfall cave for picnicking.

Creative planters.

Tree tunnel.

Living roofs at Selva Negra, a coffee plantation owned by Germans.

1980's throwback, Sandinista style. 

Single parents: Need some help planning your next Orlando vacation? can help! Get discount tickets and low-price vacation rentals by using the site.

Ready for a new home? Building one? Gehan Homes helps homeowners design and build their new homes, and guides them through new home construction.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015


In Nicaragua, everything is amplified.

I don't just mean literally -- but i mean that too. Speakers tend to run on the giant end, hoisted onto trucks where they troll the streets making announcements about cell phone deals and funerals. Music is amplified from stores, restaurants, gyms, plazas, homes, hotels... loud.
Swam in this water the day before the sickies. Culprit?

But in a more literal sense, other things are amplified too. If you get a cut, it could turn into a nasty infection quick. If your dog gets in a fight, it could quickly amplify into an all-out little dog war between him and the neighbor dog. If the sun sits on your face for a short time, you'll feel the burn quickly, and you'll burn bad if you're in it for an afternoon.

That kind of thing.

It's also the same if you just happen to get some kind of bug. Virus, bacteria, whatever -- it's going to be amplified.

I can't remember the last time i was laid out in bed for four days with an illness. A puky virus here and there, a quick blip of raised temperature once in a while, yes, but never this...never this barely out of bed, can't keep down water, body ache from lying down too much kind of stuff. I was out so long, i kicked my caffeine habit. I couldn't have even drunk a cup if i wanted to.

On top of the tropical virus raging on, the other thing that was amplified was my sense of homesickness. I was so ready to power through the last week or so here; to work, to go out and see things, to pick up those last few souvenirs for friends, to take photos of the streets, and then to leave. But being sick and not having my daughter, my mom, or many friends around to take care of me made me want to LEAVE all the more.

It's scary to pick up a virus that you know nothing about, no matter what the circumstances, but when you do it when you have the lowest number of friends in town that you've had all year, it's even scarier. Like what if that one friend wasn't around to catch your call when you needed to go to the hospital? What if what if?

Everything is OK now and i seem to be on the mend, but still, even the what ifs are amplified in Nicaragua. 


And if you're looking for a way to teach math facts & logic to homeschooling kids through games, Magical Methods is for you! The training kit is designed for kids ages 4 to 7.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Moody Monday

It's Monday, but with a lack of any routine, it doesn't feel like it. Outside the neighboring children pad past the house, on their way to school, dogs bark, motorcycles rev up in the distance, and the local flour processing plant kicks up its usual hum. But inside this house, everything is quiet.

I know i should be enjoying these last couple weeks of solitude and the lack of places to be. I should be soaking it up and using this time to get stuff done -- organizing the thoughts in my head and finishing off the novel i started when i got here. But with the bed on the opposite corner of the pool empty, it all seems so empty.

I came here, mostly, for my daughter and for her education in this wide world. So with her out of here, i barely have energy left to try anymore. I can't say i'm entirely looking forward to the financial strain and the general stress of finding a new place to live and returning to my U.S. life, but this place also doesn't feel right anymore either.

In a couple days i will muster the energy to head to the mountains with some friends -- a welcome respite from the heat. Up there in coffee country, everything is mas fresco, they say, and maybe it will bring back some of my mental energy and help me start looking ahead...

We may be headed to coffee country, but that doesn't mean i'm not in the mood for some tea once in a while... If you are too, check out Teasenz, an online retailer and wholesaler of authentic Chinese tea, sourced from traditional tea regions and shipped to your door.

And if you're traveling in the Adriatic and looking for something to do with your kids, check out this helpful site of things to do in Dubrovnik with kids -- it looks gorgeous there! 

Saturday, June 20, 2015


Now is the time of the year when i'm usually alone -- when my daughter goes to her grandparents' for a summer of tennis, country clubs and swimming. Most years, i spend it biking around town, catching up on work, and of course, living more like a single person would.

Parting shot of the lil lady, under a Nicaraguan martyr
This year though, i'm still in Nicaragua, where the dating scene is pretty sad for people my age -- and where i am more content just to stay home and enjoy the afternoon in the AC. I go outside to sweat and walk the streets a bit, but truth be told, i am sort of biding my time until it's time for me too to go home. In short, i'm over here.

I have a list of things to do and places to see while i'm still in Nicaragua... even the nice museum down the street from my house that i have yet to visit after 10 months here. But for the most part, i am loving being sola...


For those who are less-than-content flying solo, two things to check out:

First, Music Match 2 Love, which connects music lovers with others with the same tastes -- opening soon!

And also, The Catholic Guide to Dating After Divorce -- written to help people find love again!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Global Citizens

Something strange happens when you spend time wishing for what you're going to do after the thing you're currently doing. While you wait, you make friends... and all of a sudden what you thought you wanted to escape is what you want to stay with you.

Those are the kinds of experiences i've wanted to teach my little rebelangel on this grand adventure of ours.
She's been waiting and wishing for the time to come when she would head back home to the United States and leave Nicaragua behind -- but when the time was almost near, she cried her eyes out. Mostly, on account of the good friends she was going to leave behind, and one in particular. She'd been so focused on getting the heck out of here and getting back to her old friends, her bike, her sports teams and her old routines, that she hadn't even considered that she'd made a life here that she'd also miss.

Maybe it's strange to wish for that exquisite type of pain for your child -- to want her to feel that complex feeling of wanting to be in multiple places at once. But behind the obvious pain of coming and going and saying goodbye is the knowledge that you have options. You no longer live a life that is tied to one city or one school; you are now a global citizen, complete with all the joy and pain that comes with it. There is gratitude and wisdom in that title, and yes, also heartache.

But it was worth it, wasn't it, my dear?


Far or near, when you're looking to connect with other parents for advice on parenting, check out this platform on the Android App Store which encourages communication and working together between parents.

Did you know that you can write an ebook and start selling it on the Internet? You can start a new income stream for yourself and family. One piece of the puzzle is about delivering your ebook to your customers. Check out DIPPEC, a php Paypal script that can help you sell digital products.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Nica Scene: Driving in Nicaragua

I don't get to do it often, but when i do, there's always something to report about driving in Nicaragua.

Here in this country, driving is a privilege that is not given to very many. In the campo, (country) you're far more likely to know how to handle the reins of a pair of Brahma bulls than you are the wheel of a car -- and in the city, you're probably far more likely to have a heavy steel mountain bike be your steed.
Nica driving feat: backing onto a ferry in a full-size truck.

As a result, the larger roads are in pretty good shape -- but since many people aren't drivers, they really have no idea that drivers don't always have full control of their vehicles. Young men frequently sit on the edge of the pavement of the Pan American Highway, (stretching from north to south in this country and all of Central America) checking their phones while truckers speed by inches away. One flick of the truck driver's wrist and there would be no more phone, no more young man.

On the side streets, boys toss baseballs from one side of the street to the other, over the hood of your car. Most times they're using a tennis ball (they're cheaper), but still, it's disconcerting. Meanwhile other young kids walk side-by-side in the streets, waiting for a horn to signal to them to move to the side. In the rainy season, you'll need to drive ever-so-carefully past the large tents set up in the street, placed there as a cover for the people attending the velas -- funerals that go all night, kinda like a Latin American version of shitting shiva. It might be just be, but it seems that the rainy season seems to mean an uptick in the number of velas.

Horses pull out weedy grass from the paving stones, not caring that you're driving past. Dogs barely escape the whizz of your wheels as you drive 100 kilometers per hour past them. And everywhere, on nearly every street corner, are tire repair places, (called Vulcanizadoras -- in homage to my family namesake, the god of the fires) fixing up sad old tires one more time, one more time.

Driving at night here is literally not for the faint of heart, as pedestrians seem to pop out of nowhere and set your heart to pattering, glad you didn't hit them. Hitting a Nica, even if it wasn't your fault, is a sure way to stay in the country for an extended vacation, courtesy of the country's welcoming penitentiary system.

Indeed, driving in this country is a privilege not afforded to all... but maybe it's better that way...

Need a way to be seen in the dark? BlazeBands are great for strapping on your kids (or adults) and help everyone be seen better by cars day or night while playing, running, walking, biking, skateboarding, you name it.

Let's get a load of these and hand them out on the Pan American highway!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Sunset San Juan

Infinity pool at Pelican Eyes, San Juan's luxury resort
 It's been a fun week of showing my parents around Nicaragua.

It's always interesting to see things through someone else's eyes -- to notice again the dust and grime, but also to see other people's impressions of Nicaraguans (friendly and jovial, for the most part) the food (not quite as good as Mexico maybe, but basically good and wholesome) the roads (could be better, especially near the beach) and the accommodations in the various towns (not much in the way of luxury places -- it's more of a backpacker or mid to low-range tourist destination)

We are devoid of many of the creature comforts we
The sunset view from our casita at Pelican Eyes
have back home, but we still have amazing sunsets, gorgeous beaches, and "experiences" galore. (If you're looking for a way to get those creature comforts you love at a discount, check out iherb, a site where you can get low prices on vitamins, supplements, non-toxic household items, and more, all at a discount!) 

There's good and bad, different and same -- and one of these days really soon, there's going to be no more of this life -- at least for a while. I took this photo of the last sunset over San Juan that my baby is going to see for a while... Maybe even until she's of backpacker age and can travel here herself...


Next time you're on the road, check out the Motor Club of America's roadside assistance program -- helping people get tows, credit card protection and more. Great for single parents or anyone who needs a helping hand... And speaking of insurance -- if you're in need of more life insurance (and most people are!) -- P Seth has you covered! Send him an email at

Monday, June 8, 2015

No Hay Lugar Como Hogar

Check out this girl.

This is her, long before there was Spanish or theatre or living abroad in her life. She was total love then and she still is now.

Getting ready with Grandma
Today, she's celebrating her success in playing the lead in the school play - El Mago de Oz -- or The Wizard of Oz, as it's known in English. In this version, all of the dialogue was in Spanish; all the songs in English. She and the rest of her cast members are all comfortable enough in both languages to toggle back and forth throughout the production.

 It's just yet another wonderful way she's experienced life here and lived it to the fullest -- these last moments of being an expat kid straddling two worlds.

Posing with some of the cast
At the end of The Wizard of Oz, there's that famous line, "there's no place like home," or in Spanish -- "No Hay Lugar como Hogar." You can bet that when this girl was saying it in the play, she was thinking of how in a few short weeks, she'll find out how true indeed that really is...


I really admire single mamas who have the gumption to go out and live life to the fullest -- like Katie does. She's written a book, Single Momma Doesn't Have to Mean Drama, which ya'll should definitely check out!

And while we're featuring books written by mothers -- here's another one worth a review. Mummy's Still Here is a sequel to Jeanne D'Olivier's novel Mummy Where Are You? This one is the story of how a mother who reported the sexual abuse of her son and eventually lost her child to the alleged abuser. 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Company's Coming

This morning i am stocking the house with a good supply of coffee and snacks, trying to get some last-minute work done, and just generally tidying things up. Company's coming!
One of my favorite shots of Laguna de Apoyo, and great friends!

My parents will be here for the next two weeks, which means lots of fun times exploring Nicaragua and taking them to all the great vacation spots we have around here. There are so many -- and after spending most of the past month holed up in Granada, i'm really looking forward to it.

Laguna de Apoyo, Pacific Ocean, Masaya market and volcano, Cocibolca isletas, Corn Islands (and the Caribbean -- yay!) here we come!!

No good coffee near you? Check out the Arabica Wild "Noble Luwak" Indonesian coffee -- a top quality option which supports animal protection too!

And if you're still on the fence about moving abroad or working for yourself, here's a way to make money while you're online. Sign up, view ads, get paid.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Gratitude Moment

This is a pretty old picture (like a few months old, in the Casa Bambu days) but it reminds me of something i've been thinking of today: How grateful i am that i get to stop and take photos like this in the middle of the work day.

This is me, fresh out of the swimming pool, with my reading glasses on top of my head, about to get back to work. In a bikini.

When i'm here, i'm often thinking about being elsewhere -- when really, here is a pretty good life. I can live this "laptop lifestyle" and still have money left over for fun stuff, and time left over for midday swimming sessions, even in January.

That's a pretty good life indeed...


Kat also gets to live the laptop lifestyle -- and she's helping others do the same! Check out her site, WizMumi, to find out how she's helping people work from home.

Got a baby in your house? Lots of my friends have been having them since i left the US -- so i get to come home to all sorts of new faces! If you're in need of a handy gift for the babies in your life, check out this baby bear teether blanket and all the other stuff available on ComfyBabyToys.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Ladies Night

It seems that no matter how hard life seems to be, it all gets just a little bit easier when you have your ladies to lean on.

Great service in the Intercontinental sushi bar
When i arrived here in Nicaragua, i was quickly introduced to a great group of ladies who love to laugh, play games and just generally cut loose. We've been loyal to our Thursday night ladies nights for quite some time, and indeed, that just makes life so much sweeter.
Elevator dancing

Action shot of getting ready in the cool AC
This week though, we decided to take ladies night up a notch and head to the capital city of Managua for a night in one of the city's nicest hotels, complete with employees opening doors, sushi, a sprawling pool and a delicious breakfast buffet. Oh, and tons of air conditioning. (If you're in need of your own AC unit, check out Neil's reviews for the best portable air conditioners here) When you live in the constant heat, a room blasting with AC is just pure heaven. You almost never want to leave.

The Hotel Real Intercontinental is not a place where you have typical Nica worries like "how long is it going to take to get another drink around here?" ....did i leave the house clean so i don't have to come back to a disorganized mess? (if you need some help organizing a colonial house, check out these handy FECA suction cups, great for tile walls!)...or even "what about bed bugs?!"

Nope. Just luxury, like you'd find anywhere else in any big city in the world. (In case you're dealing with a case of bed bugs in your part of the world, check out Defensive End, a natural solution for that ugly problem)

Mimosas poolside. Are we really in Nicaragua?
Getting out of the city was filled with its usual doses of pre-trip anxiety -- can i get it all done? Will we all be ready to go on time? Will the kids behave? But that was quickly washed away -- like the moment we got out of town.

Then it was time for a luxurious dinner, live music at Quilombo, a cool artist's enclave, and dancing the night away at Chaman, a bar whose building is literally a pyramid. It's everything a good Latin American club should be -- with a clean white blacklit dance floor and good DJs inside, and outside, a live salsa band to mix it all up.

The next morning it was lounging in our AC enclave, great breakfast, and to top it all off -- mimosas. What ladies night would be complete without mimosas in the morning?

We might all be back to our lives today, but we're all still dreaming about the best ladies night ever...

Before i sign off, i have two great e-books to tell you about. First, check out this ebook that gives you tools for eliminating stress and anxiety from your life.

In this crazy developing country, (where mimosas and AC are far from the norm), I can definitely use some of these tips!

Second one: If you're a homeschooler (like many of my expat friends are), these ebooks can help you design curriculum based on the months of the year. Super handy and stress free!

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Mother's Day #2

When you're living in a country that is not your own, you get to pick and choose among the holidays you want to celebrate. Don't like Christmas? Go somewhere that doesn't have it! Love Mother's Day? Celebrate it twice by living in Nicaragua.
Happy Mother's Day, Nica style

Today is Mother's Day in our adopted home, and so that means i woke to yet another Mother's Day card left on my bedside table. On American Mother's Day i awoke to breakfast in bed and made calls to my own mom. Today, i awoke to the sounds of music drifting from some city park or another, which, in grand Nicaraguan fashion, will be celebrating a single-day occasion over the entire weekend.

Extending holidays as long as possible is just how they roll. Yesterday it was the Feria de Madres at the mall, complete with displays of all the material goods you could buy for mama. Last night it was live music in the central park and all the satellite parks around, with loud music competing for dominance across the airwaves. Today, it will be mothers bustling from this kid's house to that one -- a lack of taxis as a result -- plus fireworks, food, and Nica ladies coiffed and dressed in their finest heels. Naturally, these mamas who become mamas at an early age and have lots of kids deserve a day of recognition.

Me, the expat, gets two days...

New mom? Check out the 6-in-1 and 4-in-1 beds that make putting babies to bed more comfortable at any age -- offered by ComfortBaby. 

Mom with a statement? Check out the inspiring, uplifting and empowering tees offered by the GreaterThanTees Etsy shop!

Mom with kids with special needs? Download the Words for Kids free app -- meant to help kids with autism link objects with words.

Happy Mother's Day -- again -- everyone!