Friday, August 28, 2015

The Budget

Summer fun at the Washougal River -- for free. Except gas. There's always gas.
If i had one big gripe about living on the west coast -- and probably living in the US in general -- it would be the speed at which i bleed cash.

When you live in a foreign country in which there simply aren't that many outings, attractions or hobbies for kids -- and adults -- to take up, you're sorta OK with chilling by the pool all day and going to bed early.

Here, there are things to do every day and every night. Every major street has its street fair, art night, boutique sale, hobby-inspired gathering, freak show, happy hour and more, just begging for you to go drop cash.

Meanwhile, kids activities aren't cheap either. Outfitting this kiddo for soccer -- let alone for a school year in which she had almost no appropriate clothing (loose tank tops and short shorts that fit over bikinis won't cut it in this climate) has been a total drain. Eating all the yummy food that is lurking around every street corner or on the shelves of the grocery store -- every non-GMO, grass fed, organic bit of it -- is like an evil plot set against my savings account.

If i had a budget before this -- a dash at diligence and austerity that some doe-eyed, Latin America-living expat dreamed up -- it is sadly, sadly gone by the wayside. Meanwhile we are living in our friends' basement -- one step up from living in my parents' basement. De-moted.

At the very least, we do still have good weather on our side, where we can hop out to one gorgeous river spot or another and soak up the sun while we watch little muttering streams of water pass through rocks, and jump off cliffs and just generally forget the conspiracy of living on the west coast -- that conspiracy of things to do that means there's never enough...

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And at least there are coupons to help pinch some pennies. T Coupons is an excellent source to find coupons and sales to save thousands of dollars. 

Monday, August 24, 2015

New Friends, Old Friends

This entire crew slept in one house. Plus more!
When you travel -- and especially when you do it the long, slow way -- you make a lot of friends... friends who will be with you for the long haul.


And then those friends sometimes come to visit when you move elsewhere, and they make friends with your other friends, and all of a sudden the web of friends is wider and it starts to cover the whole globe, anchoring it into a network that crosses and re-crosses borders, hopping over Prime Meridians and Equators and International Date Lines and time zones.


It's not a visit to Oregon without waterfalls.
It was like that this weekend, with the friend who i met in Nicaragua, who's from the Netherlands, visiting with her friend from the Netherlands who she met in Nicaragua. All of a sudden we were having a joint birthday party for the friend and me, celebrating with other friends who'd visited Nicaragua, friends from Mexico in the mix, and many of my Portland people blended in and making friends with the Nicaragua-Netherlands-Mexico crowd.

It's a web that doesn't necessarily need to be defined or fully described -- but the ultimate effect is fun times and teaching the kids about this wide world and where we belong in it.


Which is everywhere.

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I love what Kate is doing with her t-shirt campaign. At the top of the page, it says "The Mind of a Child is Where the Revolution Begins." Yes indeed! Check out her cool t-shirts, aimed at reminding people that Every Child is an Artist.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Portland Trees


These pics definitely don't do it justice, but it only took a few moments under the trees to remember why Portland -- well, Oregon really -- is so great.

Tall trees that invite you to come and sit, take a walk, throw around a frisbee.

Sprawling parks with views of the mountains beyond, dark blue, medium blue, sky blue mountains, fading until the farthest peaks are just a faint white line.

Crunchy gravel on clean paths, littered only by English ivy.

People playing tennis, swinging, biking, running, sweating, close but far away from the traffic of the streets.

Views.

Peace.

Quiet.

Dogs, those faithful companions.

It might be tough to be back in the United States, but it's still nice to be back in Portland.





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Thursday, August 13, 2015

When your dog doesn't know you

There's probably a country song out there about the sad day when even your dog doesn't love you.

You know, since all country songs seem to revolve around trucks, losing women and the loyal dog, a really, really sad country song would of course involve losing the dog's loyalty.

I'm not sure whether i've lost her loyalty, but in the time that we've been gone, my old dog has lost most of her hearing and a good portion of her sight. When we were reunited on our first day back in Portland, she hardly reacted at all. It was a bit disappointing, because in times past she's rolled around on the floor and sneezed and whined when i came home, even after a weekend away.

The old lady's daytime past time. And night time.
This one, though, i have to chalk up to the fact that she's 14 and senile and probably just a little bit peeved at me for ditching her during her twilight years. Honestly, any time she'd come into my mind when we were in Nicaragua, i'd quickly say a prayer that she'd be there when we came home, and then just as quickly put her out of my mind. When you've had a loyal companion for this long and then you have to make the choice between her comfort and your daughter's global education (OK yes, that was an optional choice, but still) it is not fun to have to decide to ditch the loyal pup.

When we left town a year ago, we left our rented house to our friends who rented it and were already in the house when we departed. The morning we left the house was relatively free of furniture, and my friends said the old lady dog scrabbled around the empty house, sniffing, poking at the windows and looking for us, knowing we'd gone and wondering whether we were coming for her. I haven't been able to speak that memory until now, because it was just too painful to recall. Now that we're back, it's kind of OK to bring it up. 

These days the old lady mostly days around on a cold floor, struggles up steps, pants around the house when she's ready to go outside, and growls a little when the little dogs get too close to her food. In short, life is mostly about sleeping. After a lackluster reunion, she chooses to sleep near me over any other people in the house, so i guess she knows me and remembers me... but i've missed out on the year when she went from a somewhat peppy pup to an old, old lady whose friends and family quietly wonder whether she'll make it to her next birthday...

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Need a fun quiz in your life to lighten the mood? Try the NewsUp How Well Do You Know Barbie quiz.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

That Frantic Feeling

It's the first week of what i could call "real life" here in the U.S., and it feels like real life has hit hard. It's not so much anything in particular.
Te extraño, Nicaraguita.

It's more of a feeling that i can't quite describe. Like everyone here is frantic to get to the next thing, to get something else done or fit into their lives. Like my kid all of a sudden wants expensive things and asks for them every morning when she wakes up. It's like everyone is wanting things they don't have and they're desperately scrabbling to get them.

I'm not used to all this. I haven't cleaned my own toilets in a year nor taken out the trash nor worried about money nor been worried about keeping up. Living in the second-poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, i was kept up. Now i'm back to being in the back-middle of the pack.

This has me thinking all sorts of desperate thoughts like maybe i should scrap this freelance thing and go get a job, or maybe i should find a boyfriend to take me out to all the restaurants i've missed out on. It's true that i'm feeling that frantic desperate unsatisfied feeling that i haven't felt in a long time, and i don't like it.

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Need a job to fill in the gaps? The Weekend Jobs site has some helpful tips on starting your own blog for money.

Ready to find that love that's been right around the corner all this time? The Single Parent Dating site has a review of the top five single parent dating sites -- check it out!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Pickathon 2015

 Anyone who's been to Pendarvis Farm for Pickathon, the annual summer music festival, knows the iconic image seen here to the right. The sails above the main stages provide shade in the heat, which always seems to blaze over this festival.

This year our homecoming in Portland was very brief; we spent a day or so in town and then quickly went to this other "home" of ours -- this dusty, forested, bustling home where we get our fill of great music, reconnect with friends and just generally have a great time.

This year, it was allegedly "boring" for my tween, even though i let her bring a friend along.
What can you do? You bring your child back to the country for which she's been pining all these many months, and then to the festival for which she has so many great memories, and all she can do is tell you that it's boring.

I think she was being a bit dramatic... but what you gonna do?







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I had forgotten that on top of being rife with great music, Pickathon is also rife with gorgeous men. Where are they the rest of the year? In case you need some help in that department, Two to Mingle might be able to help out...

Homes

Traveling here and there and then back again has a way of making you realize -- again -- that home is not just one place. Home has always been that way for me, an Army brat with a new place to live every few years, but after living in Portland for the better part of the 2000's, i guess i kinda forgot.

There are lots of kinds of homes.
Little dog in his nest in the truck-home.

There are homes that are yours and that you pay for. There are homes that are your family's, and will (almost) always be open to you. There are homes that are large and expansive -- like the way i like to call "The West" my home, with its wide open skies, its sweet pines and firs, and its many looming mountains. There are homes that are countries -- like the USA and Nicaragua are now to both me and my daughter. Germany, China and Mexico have also counted among them for me too.

Then there are mini homes within homes -- like the school my kiddo will return to, the neighborhood that has welcomed us back here in Portland. All these homes and more have we seen in just the span of a few weeks.

BONDSWELL

There are even online homes that give people places to belong. Bondswell -- a new website -- is one of those types of homes -- where creative people from all over the world can come to gather and find other people who want to take part in the same type of creative pursuits as you do. Whether you're a writer, painter, graphic artist, gamer, video professional, traveler, nature lover, or any other type of creative person, you'll probably find someone with whom you can bond on that site.

(Note: There's a big fat link on the side of this blog to Bondswell -- and its early entry code -- in case you want to check it out)

There are all kinds of homes out there; some you can see in real life -- others that take shape in pixels. But they'll all help you along in this wild journey....


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...

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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...

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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 JSPuzzles.com.

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.

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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.

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Need a forum to inspire your creativity, meet others, or make dream collages and dream boards? Check out the new social site, Bondswell.com -- 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

Reentry

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...

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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...

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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.

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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?

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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. 


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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

Sick

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. 

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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...

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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

Sola

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...






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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?

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