settling into life somewhere else

When we started to plan this summers get away we talked about trying out a different location and looked long and hard at Nicaragua primarily.  While this spot is certainly on our list for a future adventure we decided that it might actually be nice to come back to a place that we already knew our way around.  We would spend less time “figuring out” and more time just enjoying.  I have to believe that we made the right decision because while there are always things to hash out during travel it almost feels like we never left.  We caught our first Wednesday night movie at El Chivo, the kids made their own Pizzas at il basilico and having sand in every crevice of our bodies and every corner of our house feels like old hat.

We spent a lot of time the first week kind of sussing out our schedule with the kids which can be a little challenging.  We adjusted to the time change quickly and Fields has been sleeping like a champ.  We seem to have settled into a pretty good routine.  Dewey wakes up and gets a head start on his work before the rest of us are up and around.  We either spend the morning at the beach or pool if we are with the kids or if the kids are with our newest love Yessica, then I drop Dewey to surf and head to yoga.  When Fields goes down for his nap Maris and I are working on a bridging summer workbook and some sight words.  Dewey spends nap time making calls and returning emails and then we head back out to either the pool or beach in the afternoon.  We grab some casual dinner post sunset or grab a slice on the way home from the beach and call it a day.  One of my absolute favorite things about life here is that the sun sets by 6:15 and we are in bed by 9.  Every single night.  (unless I stay up to write)

We are in the greatest little house in an area called Nosara Verde which has 7 homes and a shared pool.  It has been the perfect set up for us and it’s been nice to have other kids at the pool for Maris to play with and Fields to splash water on.  Maris of course asks to go to the pool every day so she can dive for treasure (she just learned how to get to the bottom) and fields runs around all day yelling “beach” repeatedly. While the kids might not agree on what they want to do we think it’s a pretty solid win win.

The house perfectly suited for us.  It’s 3 bedrooms and 2 baths with a large living and kitchen area and a really nice outdoor space which Dewey has deemed his office from 12-2.  We are a quick ATV ride away from the beach which is totally fine since I think we all love riding the ATV as much as we enjoy the places it takes us.  We found a cute little playground around the corner which is conveniently across from our favorite cookie in town.  We have been frequenting The Harmony for Yoga and lattes and Dewey has been in the water surfing every day.  On day one a month felt like it was going to be an eternity and now it feels like such a flash in the pan.  There is something incredibly magical about this place… it’s an absolute must see.

 

 

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planes…

We made it to Nosara on Friday after a long day of travel.  Our flight was at 6am out of Charleston so we got up around 3:45, woke up the kiddos at 4 (both of which were surprisingly happy) and left downtown at 4:45.  I had suggested to Dewey that get to the airport a bit more than an hour in advance given that it was international travel but he poo pooed my idea reminding me how easy it is to sail through our airport.  Jokes is on us.

We had a bit of a strange scenario with this trip because Fields turns 2 while we are here. So he travels as a lap infant on the way down but he will be a ticketed passenger on the way home.  I had called the airline back in May, spent over an hour getting it sorted, paid with a credit card over the phone for a one way ticket and was given a separate confirmation number.  Two days before we left we got an automated call from American Airlines saying that they needed some additional information to get us checked in so I waited to be connected to an agent.  Once I got through I gave them the info they needed (passport numbers and such) and asked them to double check on Fields and his separate confirmation number.  After a brief hold they let me know that the record locator I had given them had been cancelled due to non payment.  I explained that they had taken payment over the phone when I booked it in May so I was not only confused but starting to freak out a bit.  They came back on the line to let me know that the good news was there was plenty of room on the return flight but the bad news was I would need to purchase a one way ticket for him which was now going to be $1100.  This is when I almost lost my cool.  We spent the next hour hashing through the notes with supervisors and I eventually got little man a ticket home for the backdated amount of $170.  Insert sigh of relief…

So we show up to the airport with 56 minutes until our plane departs only to find out at check in that after all my efforts on the phone they failed to finish the final step.  The woman at the desk was incredibly kind and apologetic but it did take us 20 minutes to sort through.  We wrap up and round the corner to a very short precheck line and I’m feeling ok about making the flight.  When my bag goes through it gets pulled aside so Maris and I decide to wait with the bag while they bring someone over to “test” it.  Dewey and Fields continued to the gate assuming we were going to be just a minute.  15 minutes later and 2 alarms on my bag Maris and I are RUNNING to the gate to make the flight.  We had 1 minute before the doors were closing and we wouldn’t have been allowed to board.  We had packed a small roller with my camera and computers so we wouldn’t have to lug them on our backs but when we got to the plane they were out of overhead storage so in a total cluster we handed the bag off thinking it would be available when we got off in Miami.  We shlepped our stuff back to the only open seats (we were definitely those people) when the gate attendant came back with a claim check for our roller that had just been checked all the way through.  Internally I was totally losing it but I think I looked like I was holding it together.  Surrounding passengers may have had a different story.  The flight attendant came back and offered us an upgrade to first class due to all the chaos which we gladly accepted.  I was a little gun shy after our crazy passenger encounter on the flight to Colorado but the honeymooners in front of us were incredibly kind.

The flight to Colorado went something like this:

We landed in Colorado thinking we nailed it.  Fields did some happy yelling but maybe 6 minutes of tears the whole flight.  Good right?  Wrong…

The woman in front of us stands up while we are getting ready to deplane and turns around to us and quietly says “terrible parents” while shaking her head. I am SO shocked I don’t even know how to react so I start to gather our things while simultaneously gathering my thoughts about what it is I am going to say to her when I see her in the airport.  The family next to us had just finished commenting on how well the kids did and I was totally caught off guard by the crazy lady to say the least.  So I have a million things running through my head that I would like to say to her if I see her only to find her waiting for us at the gate exit to reiterate her feelings.  We board the moving walkway together and while we all move towards baggage claim with her 8 feet behind us the rest goes something like this…

Crazy Lady: Your children were terrible on that flight.  The screaming was out of control.

Me: Really?  I thought we crushed it…

CL: You need to have a talk with that little boy

Me: With all due respect ma’am he isn’t even two so I’m not sure he would totally understand but I welcome you to give it a go

CL: try a cracker

Me: have you seen my snack bag?  do you think I was just relaxing back there with magazines?

CL: I travelled with three children and they NEVER acted like that

Me: Congratulations

CL: You should be ashamed of them

Me: Choose joy today. (I really wanted to say f*ck off but since my kids were watching I took the high road)

We drifted off to find the restrooms and saw her back at baggage claim where her bag seemed to be the only one that didn’t make it.  I wanted to walk past one more time and quietly mention that Karma’s a bitch but instead I just gave her a wave and big smile from across the empty moving belt.

It was a learning experience for all.  While our travel may not always be seamless we are doing the best that we can.  Is there really any other option?

 

the wild wild west

I am laughing at myself this morning.  The whole reason I wanted to start this blog was to document our travels and I still haven’t taken the time to recount our RV adventure and we depart tomorrow morning for a month in Costa Rica.  So as I run around today getting all of our last minute things in order, I am taking 45 minutes to get a pedicure and share some out west adventures.  Multitasking at it’s finest…

Dewey and I both share a love for the mountains, outdoor snow sports and of course travel.  We have independently skied a number of mountains and of course a few of them together as well.  As the kids get older we would really like to find a family mountain that can be our go to for skiing.  We love the idea of seeing different mountains but while the kids are young it seems to make sense to stick to something we know and love and to keep the variables to a minimum.  This was one of the motivators for our RV adventure in May.. that and my husbands love of Recreational Vehicles.

Dewey started researching this trip as soon as I agreed to 10 days in an RV with our family (provided that it had a real shower and toilet unlike the one he promised me in New Zealand).  He found a company just outside of Denver with exactly what we were looking for and as soon as he had booked it the reference books started showing up in the mail.    I gave him a hard time about his love of the real thing but they actually came in incredibly handy with the lack of cell service or wifi.  We planned a loop through the southwest of Colorado and with no real plans other than some places we knew we wanted to see we were starting our adventure.

The travel to get out there was manageable but once we took a cab to the RV rental and waited while we got very mediocre but time consuming instructions on how to use the beast the kids were starting to lose it.  They were incredibly excited and equally ready to get this show on the road.  Fortunately for us we didn’t have far to go once we got on the road.  A dear friend of mine from high school who has shared his time between Colorado and Hawaii was now in Summit County and opened up his driveway for our first night of   “camping.”  We had the opportunity to get unpacked, meet his beautiful wife and almost 3 year old son and spend some time in their gorgeous new home.  We showed up to an amazing dinner, tons of toys, their sweet son (who shares amazingly well) and the kids had an absolute blast.  The next morning we hit up a target to get provisioned for the days ahead and then the Babels followed us up to the hot springs so we could all spend some more time together before our first night in the wilderness.

Post hot springs we headed toward Monarch Ski area and found the most magical camp site thanks to one of Deweys books.  It was opening night (Memorial Day weekend) and I think we were one of two people there using a campsite on a stream.  We set up and it was exactly the way I had envisioned the trip.  Hammock, a cold beer, the kids playing outside, Dewey making a fire and of course smores after dinner.  I try really hard not to set any expectations as I know that can often lead to disappointment but since I had never been on a trip like this I spent a lot of time mapping it out in my head.  This was everything I had hoped for.  By night two Maris let us know that she much preferred the RV to our house.

We got into a pretty good routine right from the start.  We would show up to a campsite early afternoon, get all set up, do some exploring, early dinner and early to bed.  We would wake up, eat some breakfast, do a little exploring and hit the road for the next spot around nap time. This seemed to work really well for keeping the kiddos happy and we were never in a hurry which happens to be my favorite part of vacation.  I feel like so often in our daily life we are hurrying for whatever reason from one thing to the next and I love not having an agenda on vacay.  From there we went on to Crested Butte and had the most incredible day together.  We parked in town and walked around, grabbed coffee and cookies then rented some bikes for a big old family bike ride.  I biked with a pull behind and Dewey had some sort of kids seat with pedals that attached to the back of his.  Both kids gave each one a try and enjoyed it thoroughly.  Fields couldn’t reach the pedals so he decided to take a nap instead.  We had a late lunch that day before hitting the road to find a place to sleep.  We ended up in Gunnison at one of the most magical places I’ve ever seen on the Blue Mesa Reservoir.  This is where it all kind of sunk in for me.

Dewey and I cooked dinner while the kids played and when we sat down to eat at the picnic table I had this aha moment.  In our house we tend to eat at the kitchen island all facing the stove and when we were sitting at this picnic table looking at each other I realized that we never do this.  It changes the conversation and the intimacy of course and right there by day 3 I felt totally comfortable in an environment that I was so unsure of going into the trip.  I was sure that someone would be trying to crawl out of the RV window to get some personal space by the end of the week and instead I ended up totally embracing the tight space and what it was creating for us as a family.

We continued on through Ridgway and Ouray taking that afternoon to explore town and hike Box Canyon Falls.  It was the first time we put both kids in a pack and thank goodness the hike was short because I’m a bit of a sissy when it comes to toting a child and I’m pretty sure Maris lost her cool over which color pack she got to ride in.  Regardless, the waterfall was beautiful and like every else mother nature shares with us, humbling.  We had another killer camp site that night up a little higher on the mountain with an incredible view of town below.  We had a couple of deer visit our campsite while roasting marshmallows which was our second close encounter with wildlife.  It was a really neat experience for all of us but especially the kiddos.  The deer weren’t even scared away by little man screaming “horse”.

From Ouray we made the haul to Telluride which while I hate to choose favorites deserves a post of it’s own.  We fell in love.  Hard.  We ended up staying in Telluride for the next 3 nights because we just couldn’t bring ourselves to leave.  We even missed seeing a good friend of Deweys in Durango who coincidentally grew up in Telluride and totally understood why we just couldn’t manage to get out of town.  When we finally wrapped up in Telluride we decided to head back to Denver, turn in the RV and check into a hotel for the last 2 nights to get clean and repack.  We also knew that nothing was going to top the place we just left so we threw in the towel so to speak.  The kids had an absolute blast in Denver and I was super impressed by the city.  We did the aquarium, the children’s museum, Elitch Gardens and Dewey even squeezed in a trip to REI.  Maris was sad to see the RV go but she was quickly distracted by her new love of rides and roller coasters.  We crammed it all in, reorganized our very dirty clothes and got uber clean before heading back to the East Coast.  It was certainly one of the best experiences we have ever had as a family and I will cherish these memories forever.  It’s a trip I hope to repeat and most importantly a type of travel that I hope our children grow to love.  After all that’s the reason we do it.  “We travel not to escape life but for life to not escape us.”

 

 

 

 

 

the great sleep dilemma

I feel like “sleep” or the lack there of has been popping up everywhere lately.  It’s been in articles, blog posts, even memes and I’m certainly hearing about it from friends.  Most importantly I’m living it.  We were blessed with our 2nd child being a naturally “good sleeper” whatever that means but our first born, not so much.  We struggled a bit in the beginning with which sleep training “method” to use and while we half assed a couple of them for a few days or so we never fully committed and never really cared at the time.  Dewey has always loved having a kid in our bed given that I’m not a big snuggler but we never really committed to co sleeping either.

Every night one of us or both of us will lay with Maris reading books and then ocasionally one of us will fall asleep with her for at least an hour.  If it’s Dewey, he struggles to fall back asleep once he officially goes to bed for the evening and if it’s me then I’m just crabby waking up to get back in my own bed.  Then, what used to be sporadicly has now turned into an almost every night routine of Maris calling for me (ONLY ME) sometime between 1:30 and 2:30 am and asking me to come in and snuggle with her.  I kindly oblige most nights but I’d be lying if I said that at 2am I’m not feeling some sort of frustration about our habit.

This past week I mentioned to her that when we get back from Costa Rica we are going to work on her falling asleep by herself and not calling for me in the middle of the night.  She looked at me with these adorable sad little eyes and said “but why mommy?” To which I pulled out some hoopla about how none of her other friends do this (terrible tactic I know) and she is about to be 5 and blah blah blah.  Honestly as I was saying it crossed my mind that I don’t actually have a good reason to change our current pattern.  Dewey and I had discussed it a bit and felt like it would give us a little more “us” time if the kids went to bed by themselves but to be fair we get a lot of us time and not a lot of one on one time with the kiddos.  Some of the best talks I have with her are right before she falls asleep.  It’s not rare that she and I will chat for 30 minutes about her day, things we are grateful for or just silly things that she likes to make up and banter about.

She’s not going to call for me forever.  And while it can be frustrating in the middle of the night, waking up in her bed does start every day with a smile.  I worried for so long about what other people said about what I needed to “fix” about her sleep and I’m learning to just embrace it.  Like anything else in life that doesn’t mean it’s always pretty but it sure is full of love.  Even on the ugly days…

today is a new day

I find Mondays to be particularly challenging. I realize that I am not alone in that sentiment and that in general Mondays can bring a case of the bummers but for some reason I really struggle emotionally on Mondays.  After a weekend full of fun it’s hard to transition back into the rhythm of schedules.  Maris loves to sleep in. She can sleep through absolutely anything and for extended periods of time. So while she may be excited to start a new camp or see friends over the summer, getting her up and out of bed is a huge undertaking… which unfortunately starts my day with a bit of stress and frustration. I continually remind myself to breathe, to let her wake up slowly but each time I start a new week I find myself losing patience early in the day and being exhausted* by the time bed rolls around.

We got Maris off to Art Camp at the Gibbes yesterday and Fields spent the entire ride home saying “sissy, my turn” as he is dying for a go at camp. Once we were home he walked around the house looking and asking for Daddy and Sissy. I realize that Mondays are just a dramatic change from being together as a family all weekend long but for some reason I still take it personally. I did manage to distract his search by taking him to the new Sea Turtle Hospital at the South Carolina Aquarium yesterday, which was absolutely incredible. He LOVES turtles so it was a temporary break from asking for everyone other than yours truly.

I managed to get them both out of the house for an impromptu play date late in the afternoon after countless fights over who was allowed to play with what toys and where. Maris is incredibly particular about her things, a trait that she unfortunately acquired from yours truly.  By the time Dewey got home from work I was ready to clock out. I climbed into bed where both kids proceeded to climb in and jump if it were a mini Skyzone.  I took a deep breath and started to cry. I wasn’t entirely sure why but mostly because I was having one of those guilty mom moments where I just felt like I could have done better. I could have had more patience and been less stressed out and just let the day happen instead of trying to control every moment. Maris jumped off the bed, grabbed me a tissue and hugged me and kissed me until a smile snuck out and she was reassured that I was indeed “happy with her.” We agreed to do better tomorrow. Both of us. She with her listening and I with my patience. So today is a new day…

* top 5 most used words list as curated** by Dewey

** also on the list

nothing to lose

I’ve been on the fence about starting a blog ever since my sister took the plunge and began documenting the life of her beautiful family about a year ago. She doesn’t write every day but her writing is so inspiring and her stories always make me feel, think and generally smile. It is one of the things that I most look forward to seeing in my inbox. I’m not an incredible writer, and I’m pretty sure most people don’t care about my stories but she has motivated me to start writing for the sake of remembering this time in our lives. If nothing else maybe my kids will thank me. Or maybe they will think I was crazy… either way it will be documented.

We just returned from an incredible 10 day RV trip around southwest Colorado and there were so many “I don’t want to forget this” moments that now seemed like an appropriate time to start writing. My mother actually mentioned before we left that she recently ran across her journal from our families two-week summer trip out west when I was 12 and it aided in my inspiration to do this. I considered journaling as well but since my handwriting is rather illegible that kind of defeats the purpose since no one would be able to read said memories.

After a particularly rough flight from Colorado to Chicago (more on that later) we were heading up an escalator with Fields under Deweys arm fighting us to get down when the man in front of us took notice.   He turned around with a smile and he said to us “Take a picture. You are in the Chicago airport and you have a child under your arm with filthy feet and you think you will remember this but you won’t. Take a picture. These are the moments.” So while I don’t have a picture of my screaming little man with filthy feet, and to be honest I would have been just fine with that memory fading, I’m thankful for that kind man and his encouraging words.  So here it goes…