Monday, August 31, 2009

My Home!

Come Take a tour

A place to have parties

The yard

Boobie's room

Princess's room

The playroom/sun room

I love my house. I will admit, I do have a sort of love/hate relationship with it... but it boils down to the simple fact that I truly do love my house.

It's small and it's many faults do tend to piss me off. It's roughly about 1600 square feet (150 meters). It's lacking a dining room, so no table for family dinners (we use the breakfast bar).

There are no windows on one whole side of the house. The kitchen is inadequate and on the small side and the bathrooms are lacking. There is no hot water throughout the entire house, except for the showers (and even then the hot water is hooked up electrically). And it's only a 3 bedroom, with the rooms being on the small side.

Things are falling apart or have simply stopped working after 3 years. For example, the light in my master bath, and I use the word 'master' lightly as there really is nothing master about it, has not worked in months. The shower in the kids bathroom has no hot water currently. The roof leaks, the walls seep water on one side of the house and a small part of the roof in the sun room/playroom fell out. The list goes on and on. So why, you must ask, do I love this house then. It's simple really: it's my house! And I have come to love (almost) everything about it. From every nook to every cranny, from it's inadequacies to it's strengths.

Home ownership was just a dream back in Boston. One we couldn't obtain.... not while we were there anyway. I never thought at my age, we would be homeowners (at 26 I was still stuck in a rented apartment with no end in sight). Yet it was a dream of mine... the all American one that most people wish about.

The fact that my children will grow up in a home is a big deal to me. The fact that Boobie has his own room is something so special I don't think he even realizes just how special it is. Growing up, I shared a room with my siblings, and there was a time I had to share a bed with them as well. Forget about having my own room... it wasn't until my father moved out and my sister went off to college that I finally got my own room, in high school.

There are a few things about my house that I just absolutely HATE, like my floors. But there are so many other things that I just LOVE. I love my big front door. I love the big windows. I love the paint color and the open layout. I love the hallway. I love the fact that I have an office AND a playroom for the kids. I love the closets (even though we are lacking on closet space, the closets in the kids' bedrooms are pretty big). And I love the yard most of all. It's huge and perfect for energetic kids and dogs. There are so many trees in the yard too. And the grass is so lush and green, I can lay out there for hours. I also love the fact that our house is set far back from the street, away from all the noise of traffic and nosey neighbors.

Ideally, if I could get my wish, I would make the house bigger by adding a second floor and another bedroom, change the floor plan around a little and expand out to the back by adding a porch for lazy days to relax. But for now, I am quiet content with my house. It does need some work after just 3 years (thanks to the guys who built it without caring about doing a good job), but it's a safe place for me to lie my head and after a long day, it feels good to come home.

I was reading an article in the Health magazine I borrowed from the library about how to make your home stress free by achieving that spa feeling. I feel my home is definitely relaxing. When I go away on vacation, I am always happy to come back to my home. I walk in the door and the familiarity hits me right away. Even my kids are happy to come home after an absence. The baby notices when he's home, he knows the surroundings and the scent and is as happy as a baby can be.

To top it off, I keep my home fairly tidy and relatively clean, so it's always a welcome sight to open the door, plop on the couch and relax. It's my very own spa. It's a sanctuary and I love it.

The Blanket

My daughter has a blanket. She carries it everywhere. It's been on vacation a few times, this blanket. And even in the hottest of weather, my Princess will have her blanket next to her for comfort.

How did it all start. Well, quiet simply actually. I was still pregnant with Fatty and as per our nap time ritual, I would lay down with Princess, pop a boob in her mouth and watch her drift off to sleep. She started to twist my blanket in her fingers, ripping off little pieces of the fabric and when I saw how it soothed her (especially since I was trying to wean) I thought, "great, she can use this to fall asleep instead of my breast". Also, it meant I didn't have to lie with her all the time as she had her blanket to help her sleep.

Eventually I gave her her very own blanket. An orange blanket mother in law had given me for her when she was a baby. She loved the blanket and very quickly became so attached, she would not sleep without it. Soon she was dragging the blanket everywhere with her, trips to the library, walks to the store and on vacations. If her blanket is in the wash I give her 'the substitute', a mickey mouse 'rip off''. I guess it feels differently then her blanket because soon after she's wailing for her 'manket'. There's nothing 'special' about this blanket of hers.... just a few pictures of butterflies, that's it.

She does have a sweater with the same texture as her blanket that will calm her down until the actual blanket is materialized. But it's just funny to me, this attachment she has. And I wonder just how long it will last.

I am told hubby used to have a blanket attachment too. Except he didn't twirl the blanket in his finger, he stuck it in his nose. And sucked his thumb. Princess sucks her TONGUE...LOL!I kid you not.

My brother use to have a tongue sucking habit too, but it didn't accompany any type of cloth material. Princess needs her blanket and her tongue sucking and begins to furiously rip tiny fragments off the blanket until she drifts into a peaceful sleep. Each morning, there are tiny pieces of the blanket lying around everywhere, even in MY hair.

It's really funny to watch her with her blanket and habits are oh so adorable. But I have to keep that blanket available for her at all times or else she goes into a rage. Thankfully, I don't wash it that often... and when I do, she's usually just without it for one day or less.

The things we do for love, right.

Cross At Your Own Risk!

I was almost hit today... a near miss if you ask me... and had me on edge for a few minutes after, in shock and anger.

So Costa Rican motorists are notorious for running red lights. Some don't even slow down when they do it... they just zoom right through them as if the traffic signal 'red' means nothing... red here means go anyway, not stop!

That's why no matter what color the signal says, I am always cautious when I cross because drivers here HATE to stop for pedestrians. God forbid they should stop for someone crossing the street (I've had cars pass right by me while standing in the middle of the road waiting to cross with my baby in hand). And the few times someone has stopped courteously to let me cross, the car behind them will just go around and zoom right past, totally ignoring the fact that a human being is crossing the street, not some damn animal (who they rarely stop for either).

So I was crossing. There were no cars coming from the left and a few ways from me is a cross walk. The light was red. I assumed since it was red, I could just cross as the cars were stopped and no cars were coming for the opposite direction. WRONG!!!

Here comes a car, speeding through the red light like a bat out of hell. He saw me, I saw him. I stopped and he had to slam on his breaks so hard he left skid marks and a cloud of smoke behind him. He looked pissed. Arms folded, he looked as if it was my fault. I stared him down, shook my head and proceeded to cross the street. My goodness, excuse me for crossing the street when you had a red light. Sorry I made you stop so dangerously. My fault because you had to slam on your breaks for almost hitting me and my precious cargo.

I swear, the laws here are so lax I saw a car run a red light with a cop car in the next lane waiting at the stop light and the cops did not a thing. I've had to stop crossing on the cross walk even though it was my turn because a car came zooming through.... mind you it's a cross walk, a stop signal and I was half way through it.

I guess lesson learned. I will just have to be more careful next time. If (almost) everyone, even my mother in law, is running red lights, it's cross at your own risk. So watch out.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Let's Go A Walking

What a wonderful Sunday we had today. First off, I am happy to report that my stroller is in good working condition. Hubby's cousin was able to straighten out the spoke that attaches the wheel to the stroller. The wheel itself is still twisted, but it runs just fine. I am as happy as a bee hopped up on honey.

I decided to test out the stroller and take the kids for a walk today. Not too far, about 20/25 minutes to Nova Centro, the out-door shopping mall near the center of town. Why walk... well I use to do it all the time and I figured why not use my stroller for what it was made for. Plus it was a decent day... the sky was starting to clear up, the clouds were parting slowly and the day was cool, not too hot or too cold. Perfect for walking.

We headed off on our walk after 11 am... and once we got there, I got he kids some ice-cream. Then we kind of just browsed around for a bit. I wanted to make a pit stop at Mas x Menos supermarket (Walmart) and see if they had any birthday candles (searching for that perfect number 1 candle for Fatty). As luck would have it, right outside the supermarket, Amnet Cable Company had a tent set up with a promotional give away and face painting. Princess got her face painted like a butterfly and I bought 4 boxes of milk (the juice box kind with the straws) so I could get Boobie the free handi lunch bag with crayons and coloring book.

It was a pleasant day and a nice walk. And on our walk back (another 20/25 minutes), the clouds rolled back in and I could feel little splashes of rain drops. We did make it home before it rained though.... and I felt great having gotten that bit of exercise.

I promise I'll walk more... take the kids out more, especially on lazy days like today. And since I have my stroller back, I promise to put it to good use. After all, those wheels are made for

*side note*
we also managed to make it over to the fair the next town over where the kids enjoyed a few rides and some treats. Boobie and Princess enjoyed their very first candy apple... and we just had to have some fried dough too. I brought home fried chicken for dinner. It was a perfect family outing and a very nice end to the weekend.

Heading out

Enjoying a ride before ice-cream

My butterfly!

Friday, August 28, 2009

I Think I Might Cry

You know my stroller. My beautiful double jogging stroller. My pride and joy. The stroller of my dreams. Well, hubby broke it. *Sniff, Sniff*.

*Sigh*. It's my fault really. I shouldn't have left it behind his car like I did last night. I meant to move it but I just forgot. He never checks behind him before backing up (he's broken a few toys in reverse) so I should have known better.

Well, he backed into the stroller this morning on his way off to work and twisted the wheel and the bar that keeps the wheel in place on the stroller. I don't know if it can be fixed and I don't know if I can use it with a twisted wheel. I am so sad right now.

I can't take my mind of it. I can't think if anything else and I just don't want to function today. I want to crawl into my bed and sob my eyes out. I had so many hopes with that stroller.... I planned on having it (in good shape) until my kids were too big to use it anymore... then I would pass it on to the next generation. What am I to do now? I LOVE this stroller. I don't want another one... not like I can just go and buy another one anyway. *Sigh*

I am praying hubby's cousin can make a miracle happen and fix the wheel. All I can think now is my perfect stroller, though used but in good condition, is now tainted and flawed. I didn't even use it to it's full potential yet and now I might not be able to use it at all anymore.

Why me??????? WHY!!!!!

P.S. I know worse things can happen than losing a beloved stroller.... thankfully one of the kids wasn't behind the car. And I really am not that materially obsessed. But I am allowed to mourn a loss, no matter how trivial it may seem. And so mourn I shall until the stroller is fixed. I'll keep you updated.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Boobie is getting braces. It is going to be a long process, but in a month he'll get actual braces put on four of his front teeth to start spacing them together (they will wait for all his adult teeth to come in to fill his whole mouth with the metal stuff).

It started with a spider like metal 'thing' to space his teeth apart to make room for his adult teeth. He got a few teeth pulled and his cross bite was fixed.

Now that the process is getting closer to him having actual braces, I am so excited for him. And, I have to admit, just a bit jealous. He's so lucky. I want braces too! As a matter of fact, when I was in middle school, it was on my wish list... one of my new years resolutions was to get braces.

I have an under-bite... it makes my bottom lip jut out just so and my bottom row of teeth do not line up with the top row, it actually crosses OVER them. It doesn't bother me to eat or anything like that. But it feels weird to put my teeth together when I smile.

Boobie's orthodontist gave me some brochures on braces, one of them explaining invisalign, which I have always wanted. They are clear plastic looking braces that resemble a retainer... unlike standard braces, you can remove them to eat and brush your teeth but they must be worn 24 hours a day. I know they are expensive but maybe I could do a payment plan. It's definitely something to think about, as I have always wanted perfect teeth.

I know I will have to get some dental work done first though and I HATE the dentist. I haven't been to the dentist in, oh, I've now lost count, a number of years. I fear going because I am just a little embarrassed. And I fear going because I dread the pain (it's funny how when we're younger, like Princess, a dental trip can be fun but as we get older, dentists start to scare the living shit out of us).

I know I need a thorough cleaning, cavities filled (my old ones need re-filling) and I could use a few extractions as well. I hope no root canals though, as I heard those things are a bitch. With the amount of work I need done, it scares me, not just the pain but the price.

I guess it can't hurt to go for a free dental checkup and have the expert tell me what exactly I need, then I can go from there (no sense in scaring myself silly with thoughts of what I think I need done). It might not even be as bad as I imagine. I mean I do brush and floss daily (95% of the time).

Miss Priss

My Princess, I just cannot say enough about her, really.

After watching me countless times putting on my face, getting all dolled up, made up and make up ready, she has decided to mimic my actions as well.

I caught her one day (as she had quietly slipped off) in my bathroom with my makeup case, black eyeliner in hand, putting on her eyebrows, like mommy. I failed to get a Kodak moment out of it, but she looked so funny with black liner all over her eyebrows.

She has now gotten into the habit of using pencils, pens and, yes, even markers as lip sticks. I find her sometimes with red, purple even black lips, puckering up like she's about to hit the town.

I think she'll be wearing make-up at an early age, like me. Though I hope not a moment sooner than I started, in middle school.

My fascination with make-up started out of nowhere... I saw girls in magazines wearing it so I wanted to try it. I was a bit rough with the application at first... not knowing color pallets and tones and such. But in time, I got better. I figured out what worked best for my skin type. Learned, by observing, how to properly play up my eyes and my lips. And when the finances became available, I stocked up on the good stuff.

No one in my family really wore makeup... not that I can remember, at least not on a daily basis and definitely not all out like I do. Just lip stick and maybe a bit of shadow, nothing more. Most of the women, my mother, my grandmother, even my sister go through their day to day lives bare faced.

I loved watching makeup artists do their thing (did I ever mention that at one point in my life I wanted to be a stylist and makeup artist. I even gave serious thought (and almost did) to applying to beauty school...thanks to a snow storm my admission meeting was canceled and I never rescheduled.)

I learned various techniques on make up application, from how to apply liner to selecting the perfect eyeshadow. I learned how to play up the lips but leave the eyes neutral and vice versa. By no means am I an expert though. I do what I can with what I have. But I have been told I apply my makeup very well, though if asked to apply it on someone else I am lost.

When I met hubby I had the problem of 'face masking'. I wore so much makeup, I was worried no one would recognize me without it. I just thought I looked horrible without my 'face on'. Though, back in high school, that really wasn't true. And until recently, I applied so much foundation, too much, to the point where most of my clothes and other people's clothes would be wearing some of my foundation too.

I finally toned it down about 2 or so years ago. I don't wear makeup every single day now... my skin needs to breathe. And I don't pile it on like I use to, trying to hide my flaws. My face is what it is. I go out in public now without foundation, liner, even without eyebrows (no liner to make them look fuller or more defined). Even though I do feel naked, I also feel liberated.

But my love affair with makeup is far from over. Getting 'prettified' is fun. And I like to take my time in the mirror to apply perfection. Since Princess has observed this ritual of mine, I feel maybe she will be like me too. She's already showing interest in makeup by asking me to apply some on her while I get made up.... to which I might give her a little gloss for her lips (Vaseline) and a small dusting of shadow...just for fun.

Princess has a gorgeous face. I just hope she doesn't try to hide it behind all that gunk.

About Time

Costa Rica has instituted or is about to institute (I am fuzzy on all the little details) a car seat law. I think *YAY!!* it's about damn time.

Back when I first moved here, I rarely saw cars with car seats in them and small children often sat in the front seat. People could care less about buckling up with a seat belt, much less strapping their most valuable assets in the protective enfolds of a car seat. Well, now it's law. So if they didn't care before, they have to care now.

I'm no car seat nazi. I have traveled with my kids in cars without them being * gasp* strapped in a car seat. But I don't make a habit of it... and each time I do that, I feel weird about it. God forbids anything should happen. I just hate to take the risk. But sometimes it's unavoidable or even necessary... just sometimes, not all the time.

Thankfully, I see more and more kids being strapped in and buckled up. Now I see so many cars with car seats, it's almost like it has a become a new trend. It's the new hip thing to do now, having your child in a car seat. And while making it hip is cool, it also poses another problem. Only the upper crust can afford to buy car seats, so it's like the whole "I am better than you because my child is in a car seat " mentality. It can quickly turn into "look at me, I can afford a car seat for my kid and you can't". And for some, it's not just any car seat that will do, it has to be the best of the best... one last slap in the face to whoever can't. They don't necessarily love their kids more and care more for their safety, they just have more expendable income to do so.

According to hubby and mother in law, if you have a car, you should be able to buy a car seat. But I disagree. Car seats costs anywhere from $60 to hundreds of dollars here. That's extra moola that most people don't have, people who are already struggling to buy gas for their vehicles. Sure 60 bucks doesn't sound like a lot, but with an extra $60, I'm sure they could think of so many other things to spend it on... sure maybe not more important but maybe more pertinent. Remember, these are people used to having their kids riding in the car standing up.

I think since the Costa Rican government was late to catch up to the safety game, they should install some sort of program to help families get car seats for their kids, like Boston has. I know more families would want that... to have car seats ready to tote their newborns in and be able to get car seats for their kids. I remember being the only person who had my baby in a car seat while leaving the hospital, even having people comment about it being the 'new thing' to do now. In Boston and I think the whole United States, you can't leave the hospital without first having your child strapped in an infant car seat.

I know hubby's cousin has 3 kids who need car seats and even though he has a car, he doesn't have that extra money to buy THREE car seats, at least not all at once. Luckily, I was able to help him out with one. He was traveling around with his newborn baby without a car seat. Mom held baby in her arms in the back seat.. not safe, not smart. So I gave them Fatty's infant car seat... at almost 1, he'll be needing a newer, bigger, more age appropriate car seat soon anyway.

Besides, they needed that car seat more than I did, and I know we're in a better position to buy a car seat than they are. So now their list has been shortened and they only have to purchase 2 car seats instead of 3. Will they buy them, maybe. How long will it take them to buy them, not sure. If the laws aren't strict enough, people may never heed to them anyway... just look at people running red lights in example of the traffic laws here.

So a program where lower income families can apply for car seats for their children would certainly be nice. And then the law can actually stand for something, not just a suggestion. And car seats don't have to cost a pretty penny. I know the really great ones are super expensive, but Princess has a cheapie one I got from Pequno Mundo that works just fine. Just something where the kids are safer while riding in a car is better than nothing at all.

Having a car seat should not be a privileged thing. It should be a right for everyone who wants to keep their kids safe.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Visit To The Dentist

Say 'ahhhhhhhhhh'

Checking out her pearly whites

I took Princess to the dentist for her very first checkup. Lucky for me, no insurance or payment is required at Asembis, a clinic a few minutes from my house that has very reasonable prices on just about anything medical. The dental checkup is free. You pay for the services that follow.

At 2 years old, Princess is a whole year older than Boobie was when I took him for his first dental checkup, but she did just as great.

Her checkup was less than 5 minutes long and everything looked great. No cavities (and really, that's how it should be at her age) and her teeth are just perfect. Beaming with pride, I left the office with an appointment in 6 months for another checkup. Princess left with a nice tattoo on her arm. All I have to do now is keep her teeth in good condition with daily brushing and eventually flossing too. Oh and I have got to cut her back on sweets. Lord knows she has the biggest sweet tooth. I just hope that in 6 months time, all is the same and her teeth continue to be in tip top shape.

Next up, Fatty. But with just one tooth (so far), I think he can wait a while for his visit to the dentist.

Monday, August 24, 2009

How We Got So Lucky...

I have no idea. Super blessed as we are, I am so thankful for this year so far. But how we managed to go on yet another vacation this year is beyond belief and just amazing.

While we spent most of 2008 on the home-front, barely venturing far enough to get any R and R at all, we've managed three full out, all out, family vacations in less than 6 months this year alone. That's a lot, especially when most people, if they're lucky, go on just one.

It's not like we're rolling in dough this year as opposed to last. Mostly, 2008 was spent with me being pregnant and uncomfortable and it was also a year of poor budgeting on my part. This year, with a new attitude and outlook, we managed a trip to Limon, then Guanacaste and just recently, on the 22nd, we all went on a trip to La Fortuna San of the world famous and always active Arenal Volcano.

It was a trip planned by my brother in law and father in law... a trip we almost missed out on. And what a trip it was. The first time in 9 years I have been on vacation with my in laws. It was a scenic and pleasant trip... made very comfortable because we rented a micro bus (mini bus) that seated up to 15 people. We had so much room for us and our mountain of stuff (when traveling with kids, one must over-pack). Also, with hubby not having to drive, I had him right next to me to converse with and help out with Fatty from time to time.

We made 2 pit stops before arriving to our destination. First one was to check out my brother in
law's newly purchased 1/2 hectare land (roughly about an acre or so). It was about half way to our destination point,

The river just a few feet from brother in laws property

A piece of the property to the left

A view of the property (VERY small piece) from the front

Located in a very small and secluded neighborhood, it looked like the perfect country setting to raise children. I was so in love with the land. It has so much potential and it's so big, the possibilities are endless. But we couldn't stay for too long admiring the property. We had to head off to our destination.

The next stop we made was the center of La Fortuna to have lunch. We had a nice view of the volcano and the park was situated right across the street from the restaurant where we lounged for a bit before and after our meal.

Volcan Arenal

La Fortuna Park

Our hotel, Las Cabanitas Resort and Spa, was modest. It had individual little cabins lined up in a row on neatly manicured lawns, sprinkled with flora and fauna. At the entrance, sharing space with the reception desk, was the dining area, where they would serve us breakfast. There were two pools, a kiddie pool and one for the older crowd, though not too deep. And to our delight, a soccer field right behind us, the wall bordering our cabins. Twice, hubby had to kick back soccer balls over the wall.

It was pleasant enough. Nothing fancy. No frills but perfect for a family, with 2 beds in each room, a mini fridge and cable TV. And glorious hot water, in the shower and from the faucet in the sink. Although La Fortuna was hot enough for a cold shower the day we arrived.

With 7 adults and 7 kids, 4 of them under 4 and 2 babies, we got 3 rooms. Hubby and I were in one with our brood. Sister in law shared with her parents and her two kids and brother in law was in a room with his wife and 2 kids and their their dog Tookie, who they brought with them on vacation.

We played around in the pool to cool off and then headed off to find the best hot water springs. The whole reason to go to San Carlos is to get a good view of the volcano and enjoy a dip in the thermal waters. That was the main attraction for us anyway.... but for many tourists, La Fortuna is an adventurers dream as the town abounds with various outdoor activities like canoeing, white water rafting, ziplining, rappeling, etc.

We settled on Los Lagos resort, at around $10 per person, half price for kids, babies free. It was beautiful inside, with a crocodile 'lake', and a butterfly and frog garden (closed by the time we got to them though) and various fish ponds and wildlife. The resort had a family friendly vibe. But since we were there to enjoy the pools, we did. We stayed for a bit, to get our money's worth. And boy was it worth the money.

The hot water was really hot. I felt like I was exercising the whole time I was in there, my heart racing, sweating like a pig. I had to get out a few times just to catch my breath. But it felt so good. I even went down the slide once. How much fun that was.... what a rush.

Heading back to the hotel, we ordered pizza for dinner (I managed to hungrily polish off 3 slices) and I had 3 cans of Smirnoff Ice, 2 too many for me. After we all had stayed up chatting for a bit on brother in laws front porch after all the little ones were in bed, I knocked out sometime around midnight. I was exhausted!

The Cabins

The pool

Los Lagos Resort

The crocodile

A view of the volcano from Los Lagos

The trip was fun. It was worth it just to enjoy the hot water springs, and see the volcano, if nothing else. But the town of La Fortuna is nice too... although I would not want to actually live there. No matter that the name means 'The Fortune". Just something about being that close in proximity to a live volcano is enough to keep me awake most nights.

As much as vacations are relaxing, they are tiring as well.... the somewhat longer drive home helped me make up some missed sleep. And boy was I glad to be back home. An early morning start on Saturday and little sleep that night with another early morning on Sunday left me drained. I was ready for the sanctity of my own home, where I could unpack, relax and just be.

And as the year draws closer to the end, I have to say 2009 has been a great year thus far. And if we don't take another vacation this year, that's fine with me. I have been blessed enough already.

But already hubby is talking about going to Puntarenas on vacation in September... now wouldn't that be fun...LOL ; )

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I Need New Shoes

This post is not, in any way, reference to the previous post about my Princess, the diva. Yes, she has made me realize just how few choices I have when it comes to footwear. But I think I had realized that a long time ago.

I have lived in Costa Rica over 3 years and I have never bought myself a pair of shoes. Ok, that's a tiny white lie. I did buy a pair when I first moved, but that was over 2 years ago. And I am not counting flip flops and sandals.

Father in law was gracious enough to take me shoe shopping for Christmas last year where I picked out the most darling suede and fur like boots.

But I need more options, like my little diva. I need more shoes.... or more accurately put, I WANT more shoes.

Not to mention the shoes I do have, most of which I brought with me from Boston, are a bit on the smaller side now, my feet having grown maybe a few inches with the 2 consecutive pregnancies.

Hubby has told me to buy myself a pair. But it's been difficult shoe shopping. I can't find what I want for the price I want to pay. I've been looking for a few weeks now for a pair of cute and affordable ballet flats with no luck. The ones I want are either too expensive or don't fit. I don't know why it's taken me so long to find some decent pairs of shoes. I need new boots and new wedges. And even as I lust over certain pairs, I have yet to purchase any of them. Back in Boston, if I saw a pair I liked and the price was right, I bought it. No hesitation.

For some reason, I find it daunting to buy shoes here. It's not like shoes are THAT much more expensive. I have seen shoes for c10.00 ($17) and below. Reasonable in my book. So what the hell is wrong with me? Why do I find it so hard to shoe shop?

I think I know what the problem is. I live in flip flops. Literally. I wear flip flops morning, noon and night, everyday for almost every occasion. I wear them rain or shine. I have 2 that I alternate between. My dressier black ones with the yellow flowers on top and my more casual tan ones with the black straps. I wear them with jeans, with skirts and capris. They are comfortable. And since I stay home most of the time, I don't have much of an occasion to wear boots and such. Besides a birthday party or so here and there, not much going in my life right now that requires me to dress fancy. Not that I ever needed an excuse to dress up before... just picking up Boobie from school was excuse enough.

But somehow things have changes, and I find myself clinging to what's comfortable. My ever trusty flip flops. Maybe I need to buy some fancy new boots or high heeled wedged sandals that are just as comfy as my flip flops. Then I won't have much of an excuse. I promise I won't take a leaf from Princess's book though... one shoe for the day is good enough for me.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Diva

How many times a day does one need to change their shoes... for most of us, one pair for the whole day will suffice. Not for my Princess. She changes shoes constantly, as one pair is just not enough. And I can't say I blame her. With as many pairs of shoes as she has, no wonder she tries to wear as many of them as much as possible, even if it means changing into a different pair every few minutes.

On average, Princess changes shoes about every 5 minutes. She'll get tired of the pair she's wearing and then just head to her room and pick out another pair to sport. And she has to choose. By no means will she let me pick out a pair for her... she is after all a diva and only certain shoes will do.

After seeing this behavior I decided I HAD to document it. How many times does she change footwear? I wondered about this for a week. So, armed with my trusty digital camera, I decided each and every time she decided to change shoes, I would snap a picture and count just how many times day this event occurred. Here are my findings.

First, the evidence. Princess has more than 15 pairs of shoes; more than me, hubby, Boobie and Fatty.

What's a girl to do with this much... the choices, oh the choices! She has a got a pair for every season... rain boots, 'winter' boots, every kind of sandal, dress up shoes and sneakers. You name it, she's got it. She's her own mini shoe store.

The diva and her many shoe changes. I swear, only rock stars do this. One pair just isn't good enough for the whole day... I fear as she gets older, she will be doing this with outfits too.

The pink strappy boots... good choice

Although it was a nice sunny day, she decided to wear her rain boots for a bit.

She just loves these boots.. I bet she feels like a woman in these... mommy even has a pair.

Flip flops, but with a little height. A favorite choice.

The pink sneakers... cool!

And then there was more.

Her current favorite... she wears these more than any other pair.

And a new choice for today.. the dressy sandals.

Seven shoe changes... count them... 7! She did change shoes more than that, but back into a few of the same pairs she had changed out of!

This is not just a one time, one day occurrence. It's something Princess does every single day. I have tried keeping her door closed, but because I tend to prefer a happy toddler to a screaming one, I submit to her demands, sometimes even helping her put on the shoe of choice for the moment. I just wonder how long this 'obsession' will last. Heaven knows, there's only room for one diva in this house. Looks like I'll be relinquishing my crown. LOL!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Mother Nature

With all its awe and grandeur, Mother Nature is not a lady to mess with. She can be calm and serene but she is also one bad ass, big ass BITCH!

After almost 3 years in Costa Rica, I experienced my first real earthquake. It happened back in January (the 8th sometime after 1 pm) and it was a big one. Mother Nature had come out swinging; she had something to say and boy did people sit up, shut up and take notice. When she 'speaks', we listen... and she is never far from reminding us mere mortals just what a bad ass she can be.

When a natural catastrophe hits, it really leaves one feeling helpless... and if by chance, luck or divine blessing, you escape unharmed, you realize just how much respect mother nature deserves.

It was just another ordinary day and I was out hanging clothes on the line when it hit. At first I thought it was a tremor (as we get those a bit, especially around the end of the year). But as it went on, and got stronger I realized it was a freaking earthquake and my instinct was to scream and keep screaming until it finally stopped. My ordinary turned extra-ordinary in a matter of seconds. The quake measured 6.1 on the Richter scale. Thankfully hubby was home with the kids so I didn't feel so alone and scared.

We were lucky. We were far away from the epi-center, so we sustained VERY little damage. A few photos fell off the wall, some shattered glass... nothing catastrophic. But I did sustain my first natural disaster injury when a toppled decorative glass bottle fell off the top of the kitchen cabinet and broke a dish I was holding, slicing my hand.

But all in all, not bad. And watching the news that afternoon, I thought the worse had been over and Costa Rica escaped unscathed. But no one really knew the extent of the damage, until the next day... and the country fell into mourning as the death count rose higher and higher. Each day after that, people were either missing or found dead. All Costa Rica had been affected, the quake so strong it even shook parts of Nicaragua as well.

Over 30 people died. A whole restaurant fell off the side of a mountain, killing everyone inside, including children. Roads were split open, cars and buses thrown off the sides into ravines and ditches. Once crystal white rivers were muddied, the result of mudslides. Whole roads disappeared, bridges swept away, towns cut off from civilization and people trapped. Many were injured and many lost their properties. And as I watched people weep over their lost loved ones and precious belongings, I could only pray and thank God we had been spared.

I had witnessed Natural disaster before and been in the midst of the aftermath. The mess is always a pain... recovering bodies, cleaning up, trying to put back all the broken pieces. And the fear lingers. We had aftershocks for days, leaving me on edge. It was all just devastating.

The first strong tremor I felt in Costa Rica was when I was pregnant with Princess. I had felt tremors before but this one felt like it was on the verge of becoming an earthquake. It was 10 'o' clock at night and I noticed the photos atop the entertainment center dancing, the pictures on the walls shaking.... my first thought was, how was I, as pregnant as I was, going to carry my 7 year old sleeping boy to safety? Thankfully it, it never escalated into an earthquake, and was gone as quick as it had come.

But how do people different react to disaster? Why am I such a basket case when it comes to things like these. I don't react, I freeze up. Me. A strong woman who bore 3 children naturally. I become like a meek little child in the face of potential danger.

I respect Mother Nature, all her joys and awe and wonders. But I know deep down lies the darkness. So why don't we do more to appreciate and take care of her. Why do we deface her, pollute her, poison her, maim and kill her wondrous creations. Why do we fill her with waste and garbage and leave her to rot in so many places? Why aren't we trying to help her heal faster? Is it because we think we're bigger than her. When it comes to nature, we know nothing. We're just as clueless as a 5 year old in a calculus class.

But just wait. She's like a woman on PMS when she's wants to be... and when she erupts, there is no place to run for cover.

The Bus System

Unlike Boston, the buses in Costa Rica run pretty often, depending on the time of day and the day of the week. They run on average about every 15 to 30 minutes, but by chance or on schedule, you can get a bus every 5 minutes around rush hour on the weekdays; in the mornings when most people are heading to school and work or in the evenings when most everyone is coming home.

I have never had to wait more than an hour for a bus... not even on the weekends, when the buses run a little less frequently.

And unlike Boston, the buses in Costa Rica go practically EVERYWHERE... even to the beach!!! If you live in a bodunk suburb and you have no car in Boston, you're either stuck around town or forced to take the Commuter rail. Not here. Although Costa Rica has no commuter train system to speak of (though I did hear there is a train from San Jose to Sabana), the bus will take you wherever you need to go.

My sister in law took the bus to Guanacaste. A 5 hour bus ride... she says it's 4. She went to Liberia, the center, and had no problems. The bus schedule is clearly posted so as not to confuse and so you have a clear idea of what times the bus operates. We've also taken the bus to Jaco beach once before. And when we went to Puerto Viejo, Limon, there was a bus stop, to and from San Jose, just a few hundred feet away from our hotel. Talk about convenient.

Although taking the bus isn't as convenient or time efficient like having a car, it is effective in getting you to your desired destinations, most of the time.

Watch out for traffic though, as traficc in Costa Rica is horrendous, even rivaling Boston. When you can get stuck in traffic here on at 1o am on a Saturday morning , you kow it's bad. But I prefer being in traffic on the bus than in a car.... way less stressful.

There are no paper scedules to follow, dictating route or time of arrival and departure for each bus. You kind of just figure it out, and when busses run so frequent, who needs a schedule anyway? ALso, unlike Boston, their 'schedule' is pretty much on point. I have spent up to an hour and more waiting for a bus in Norwood on a Sunday. Frustrating, especially when the schedule shows that same bus was supposed to arrive in 45 minutes.

Another great thing about the buses here, as if I haven't sang their praises enough, is that they are cheap. Where I live, the fare is c235 colones. That roughly translates to less than .50 cents. Sweet!

Many times I wished I had my own car to run around in (especially with 3 kids, what a blessing that would be), but I am thankful for the bus system. I get where I need to go and get there safely.

I mean the system isn't perfect, by any means. Boy do I hate those damn electronic bars they have placed at every single door on every single bus. It supposedly counts the number of people that get on and off the bus.. a way to keep track of the bus fare. But seriously.... get another system!!! When I had to pay for my 2 year old daughter, I wondered why they don't just set a damn age limit and be done with it. In Boston, I believe under 4 was free, 4 to, I think, 11 was half price. To avoid paying for my daughter and my stroller, (yes, sometimes I had to pay for my stroller as that electronic bar counts it as a person) I would have to lift them both up in my arms and wiggle my way though the very tight opening, made even smaller by the bars.

Also, someone please get those bus drivers a more effective way to store their money. They actually use a huge sponge with opening cut into it to store the various coins. The sponge is strapped next to the driver with a belt like strap. Instead of those electonic bars, get an electronic money dispenser like in Boston and call it a day.... however, that poses another problem. Something I love about the buses here, is that they actually give you change. Unlike Boston. In Boston, if you give the driver $2 dollars, even though the fare is only a dollar, you don't get your change back. Sorry. But Here, if you give c2.000 colones when the fare is only c500 colones, you get back your change. No fuss, no fight.

They are behind the times too with the old ass buses from a million ages ago. They work, but they pollute like nobody's business. I noticed the police got brand spanking new cars, courtesy of the Japanese, or was it the Chinese government? Well, can someone pony up the change for some more up to date, newer buses? Hey, Mass, send some of your buses this way... except leave that automatic fare collector behind... I like getting my change back.

And if I have the extra loot to spare, I can just jump in a taxi.... start off fare, less than a dollar and I never pay more than $10 to get anywhere I need to go in taxi, ever!

Friday, August 14, 2009

I love To Talk

In case you haven't noticed how long winded I am (look at how much I write), I LOVE to talk. I can talk for hours. My uncle used to call me motor mouth because I would talk non-stop. He told me I should be a lawyer because I talked so much.

Back in school, public speaking was my thing. While most people are terrified to speak in public in front of a lot of people, I look forward to it. I relish in the attention... all eyes on me. I feel so important because everyone is listening to what I have to say. No wonder I won the class presidency twice. I have a voice on me too... when I speak people are sure to listen. Even as I delivered my salutatorian address on graduation day, as long as it was, not a single person stirred as I spoke. It was my last 'hurrah' and I wanted to go out with a bang.

Talking should be my speciality. I can talk another person's ear off. And beware, I can debate you to your grave too. I use to look forward to my doctor visits because I loved all the questions they asked. I got a chance to focus on me and talk for a bit. Even therapy was fun. Are you kidding... someone who gets paid to listen to me talk about myself... heaven!!!!!

So it's no wonder my Princess loves to talk too. Boy does she think the world revolves around her. Just her her mama. When I was little, I loved to entertain guests. While my shy sister would hang off to the side, slinking away from the spotlight, I grabbed it by it's neck and shone it directly on me. I would 'flirt' with the company and on cue, like some damn monkey, I would even dance, showing off my skills. There's a picture of me dancing, and I remember that day like it was yesterday.... the picture makes me smile.

So, was I just starved for attention... you know that whole 'middle child syndrome"? Did I crave it so bad, I felt I was nothing if I wasn't the center of everyone's universe? I aimed to please as a child, and although it sometimes sickens me to think of all I did just to get into people's good graces, I remember how much I loved being adored. I wanted to be the favorite. So I was ever present... and always with my mouth open. Look at me, listen to me, love me. Poor me!

I have calmed down a bit since then. Do I still search for fame where I can be front stage and center? Sometimes. Before I settled on my passion to write, I wanted to be a broadcast journalist. What better profession for someone who loves to talk and loves the spotlight. Maybe one day, I'll dabble a bit on tv, who knows.

I love to blab away. It's me, it's what I do. But I like to think it's not as bad as it was when I was a bit younger and more naive. I am not in high school anymore. I am a woman now. An adult (that word scares me). So I am more subdued. I can handle taking a back seat now, where as before, it was difficult. And I know (well I like to think I know) when to shut up.

I'm So Proud Right Now...

Of my son. Today, I watched as Boobie swam the entire length of the olympic sized swimming pool without stopping, something I can't even do. I was so proud of him, I could barely stand it. My face lit up with the biggest smile. I can't believe this was the same kid who could barely swim 2 strokes without stopping just a few weeks before.

I knew him joining the swim team would pay off, but I had no idea I would see such results so soon. His teacher is proud of him too and has noticed a positive change in his behavior as well. I can't wait for him to start competing. Although he expressed fear of competition because he doesn't want to lose, I know it will bring out the best in him.

I could just burst with pride. Not only will swimming teach him about endurance and humility, but the skills he learns and the friends he makes will last him a lifetime, this I am sure. I'm so glad I could give this experience to my son. And I look forward to watching him grow and progress.

Gearing Up For Mother's Day

I have it good. I get to celebrate 2 Mother's Days... the 'real' one in May and Costa Rica's in August.

When I say the real Mother's Day I mean to say the one I grew up celebrating my whole life. The one I celebrated in the States and the one I identify with.

Even though I think Mother's Day in August is a bit weird, I am not complaining... I get 2 and that is all I care about...LOL.

Since I don't watch much local TV I haven't been bombarded too much with advertisements; Getting the perfect gift for all the mother's in one's life! Ideas on how to find that perfect gift! Ways to make your mom feel her something nice! I'm sure they do all the commercials and local morning shows have a special segment dedicated to Mother's Day... just like in the states. I have seen a few stores, a lot of stores actually, with signs for Mother's Day and gift packs galore, laid out ready for their customers to grab up. Some stores are even having specials for Mother's Day, a way to entice more people to shop, shop shop and buy, buy, buy. Using the forever desired 'discount' as a way to lure you in.

I was unable to be with my own mother for mother's Day back in May. The only mom I feel I have to shop for is my hubby's mother, my mother in law. Since she was born and raised in Costa Rica (though she lived many years in Boston and celebrated Mother's in May like the rest of us), I have a feeling her country's Mother's Day means more to her.

So while stores are getting ready for the influx of customers ready to spend loot on their moms, wives or grandmothers, I am getting ready to try and find my mother in law something special. Nothing extravagant but something really really nice.... that perfect gift. I know I have a lot of gifts to choose from, I just have to choose the right one. Wish me luck.... I have just one day to shop.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Happy Birthday To You

Today is my mother in law's birthday and I had completely forgotten... again. Thankfully I was reminded early enough that I could run out and buy her a gift.

Sister in law came in today to let me know that her brother's wife had called and informed her that they would show up at 6 pm to surprise mother in law with a cake. At that point it dawned on me... It's her birthday and I had to get her gift. I had been so preoccupied with Mother's Day coming up, her birthday had totally slipped my mind.

So sister in law decided she would cook Arroz con Pollo (rice with chicken). And I decided to go along with her to pick up the ingredients and get a little gift for mother in law.

Shopping for my mother in law is a task. It's either hit or miss, a 50/50 chance of getting the right gift. I hate getting her stuff for her kitchen sometimes because she has a lot of everything already... unless it's something I see her 'eyeing' specifically: like the canister set I got her for Christmas because I saw that she wanted them. I am hard pressed to find her something she will actually love.... and it's even harder because she is such a good gift giver.

I remember one year I got her a nice blouse. It was a bit too big so I had to return it... but instead of telling me to get a smaller size, she asked for something else. I don't blame her; if it wasn't her style and would end up sitting in her closet, I am glad she voiced her opinion on it.

I usually try and get her something she'll use... most likely body creams, perfumes and lotions. So I set out to find her a nice gift pack, filled with smelly lotions and perfumed powders. Something nice, not too 'young' and something she would defintely use. But with the different selections to choose from and the different prices, ranging from pretty cheap to pretty expensive, I was 'con-fuddled'. I couldn't pick just one. And then I didn't want to be stuck with something that she might not like and to have wasted all that money...

I went to Mas x Menos (owned by Walmart) and struck out. My next bet was Hipermas or one of the many little stores in my town center. Thankfully Hipermas had a better selection of gifts to choose from with a much larger price range (Hipermas, also owned by Walmart is bigger and therefore has a larger selection of 'stuff'.)

I looked at everything, just to give myself an idea of what my mother in law might like. I looked in the household section, scanned the shoe-wear department and even checked out more perfume gift packs. But it finally came to me... what about a nice elegant purse for her to wear! I know she likes purses, who doesn't really? (don't answer that). After not finding anything that struck my fancy with body splashes and scented body creams, I headed to the purse section. I was looking for something affordable yet stylish. Sleek, but user friendly. It took me a few minutes but I finally settled on a nice, small, simple black suede purse that I knew she would like to have... something to wear on evenings out when the occasion called for a more formal look.

I was proud of my purchase (admittedly more so because of the price tag) and even threw in a small gift pack of scented heart shaped soaps as a finishing touch.

Now I look forward to trying to find her something for Mother's Day, just one day away.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

I'll Admit It

I hate to wash my hair. Yes, I said it. I HATE to wash my hair. It's a chore. And if you had my kind of hair, you would understand.

If that statement makes me 'gross' so be it.... I really could care less. I have VERY thick, kinky hair. Tight curls that get entangled from root to ends so easily, it's like trimming a hedge with toe clippers when I try and comb through it. It's a lot of hair. And as proud as I am of it, I also sometimes hate it.

I don't have smooth, flowing silky hair like those models on the TV commercials. You rarely see people with my kind of hair selling hair products... but they should as we're the ones that need it the most. Something to soften our hair, make it easier to handle and give it some shine as an added bonus (and yes I know those products exist for my hair type but it would be nice to see it advertised on TV once in a while... with a model like me to make it convincing).

The only place I feel I could get some good hair advice that pertained to my hair type is in a magazine geared towards women of color, like Jet or Ebony or a specific 'black' hair magazine. Alas, I have yet to find any of these types of magazines In Costa Rica... or maybe it's because I am not really looking. I have resigned myself to having unruly hair and I feel it is my destiny to deal with it. So hence, I HATE to wash or style it.

So when hubby's sister, here on vacation for 2 months, volunteered to style my hair for me, I was elated. But I was a bit on the fence as well. It would mean I would have to wash my hair... and make sure all the kinky tangles were gone... which takes a good couple of hours.

I need at least half a bottle of conditioner to smooth out my hair to get it soft enough to comb through. And I must do it in sections, which makes it easier than combing through my whole head at one time... plus it's less time consuming.

While getting ready to wash my hair, there is one obstacle I have to overcome, which is washing my hair while I have the little ones. You can't very well spend 2 hours in the shower while you have a baby and a toddler running around. I was lucky enough that the day I finally decided to let my sister in law style my hair, Princess was going on an outing with my mother in law and the baby was due for a nap. Plus with sister in law gone for a few hours too, I had more than enough time to wash my hair without feeling rushed so I could do a thorough job.

I had been chemically straightening my hair from the time I was 13 to the time I was around 23 or 24. In all that time, I had maybe missed a few months of appointments. But I was diligent and faithfully went every 2 weeks to get my hair washed and styled and every 6-8 weeks to get it 'permed out' and trimmed. At $40 every two weeks and about $60 every 8 weeks, my wallet was starting to squeal in agony.

The longer my hair got, the more money it cost and the longer it took to style. Going to the salon that often is supposed to be a treat, a luxury. How many women, average women, go to the salon every 2 weeks to get their hair professionally 'did'? Not that many. But I didn't look at it like a luxury or a treat. While sometimes it was a good time for some 'me time', it was beginning to turn into just another task I had to accomplish.... wash clothes, make beds, get hair done....

I would be in the salon for hours getting 'beautified'. And with beauty comes pain. The chemical they use literally burns your hair straight. Once the white creme was applied to my whole head, I would sit for a few minutes, waiting for the chemical to work it's magic, straightening my curls one kink at a time..... and furiously burning my scalp in the process (more so if you had recently been a little scratch happy). Of course, it didn't burn me to the point where it was too much to bear (lucky for me, I was not tender headed). As soon as the pain got unbearable, I would signal my hairdresser and she would come and wash my hair out with no delay. Ok, so the process wasn't always that painful but it was never pleasant.

But I loved the way my hair looked afterwards... so light it felt on my head, like cotton. It was flowy and shiny and straight... like a white girl. And after years of chemically processing my hair, I realized what I had been trying to achieve. I was trying to be someone that I was not. I started longing for for my natural 'curls' again. My natural kinky hair. But for years, I had been too afraid to go back, for fear of what might happen. I had read that going from chemical processed hair back to it's natural state would be hard... lots of hair falling out in the process.

But my wallet was begging me to stop with the salons. I also wanted to be in charge of my own hair. The expense was killing me and I knew I could benefit financially. But I also longed for the independence. I wanted to wash my own hair, style it and trim it. I wanted to be like those girls on TV. And for a while as I grew my hair out, and let my natural strands grow in, it was fun. I liked doing my own hair. I had followed a guide on how to go back to natural. It was in a magazine specifically geared towards women like me. It had advice on how to safely grow out the chemical and the many options we had while enduring this process. So I braided my hair and in between washes, would wear it curly and up in a ponytail.

After my hair fully grew out, I would wash it almost daily and comb through it, which was not too bad. But daily washes were beginning to wear on me. My hair, being like one huge bush, took the bulk of a whole day to dry naturally. I would pull it in a high, super tight ponytail and wear it almost dripping until the outsides dried. But once I let it out of the ponytail, the inside and near the scalp was still a bit damp. I also hated the way my super tight ponytails were eating away at the sides of my head. So I fell off the wagon, so to speak, and I would wait longer between washes, until I as going so long, washing my hair had become one big pain in the ass chore.

The first time I got the opportunity to have my hair straightened (without chemicals), I jumped at it. I needed a break from the ponytails and the bushy-ness. It was for my baby shower for Princess. My friends sister generously offered her services and took on the daunting task of giving me a good blowout. Armed with her trusty blow dryer and hot iron, she gave me a look I had not had for over 2 years.... long, straight locks.

She offered to do it again a few weeks later. This time, she washed and combed out my hair for me. And she spent an even longer time making my hair obey, lengthening each lock with her heating tools. I was so pleased with her end results.

So when my sister in law offered to blow dry and hot iron my hair flat, I so wanted to accept. I craved the ease of having straight hair... just getting up in the mornings and throwing it in an easy, loose ponytail or letting it flow free. I was tired of my hair. But I dreaded washing it.

Like I said before, it takes a couple of hours. And the process is not fun. But the end result is always nice.

After 2 days, yes, 2 days, the task was complete. We started later than anticipated after 5 pm. With crying and fighting kids, diaper changes, bathroom breaks, dinner break and consoling kids, we decided to take a break last night around 9 pm and pick up in the morning. Many man hours later, I had semi straight hair, but straight enough for me, and now I look forward to the ease of styling it in the morning.

Lets just hope that this time I don't let weeks go by before I wash my hair again. I know how much easier the process gets with frequent washes and conditioning. but it's so easy to fall off that damn wagon than it is to just stay on it. So I'll keep my fingers crossed that this time I can follow through.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

It's That Time Again!

I cannot believe it. It's that time again... time to plan another birthday party.

I just realized that my fatty will be 1 in a month. How on earth did the time fly by so quickly. I thought I had more time, but as it turns out I have a little over a month to plan his first birthday party... and the planning starts today.

I spent all day on the internet (on and off of course) looking for party venues, party supplies, and just party stuff in general. I called a number of places to see what they offered as far as activities, food, and fun. Some were pretty reasonable, but others were just plain ridiculous. In Costa Rica, it seems they try to compete with American prices when it comes to indoor party fun for kids. $500 for a party package??? Insane! $300 and they don't even include food????? No thanks!

I was thinking of just hiring a clown and doing a 'smallish' party at home. But then I figured by the time I bought the food, all the decorations, the cake, the pinata and all the candy to fill the pinata, goody bags, prizes... the party would end up costing me just as much if I had just rented a spot. And it will be that much more stressful if I do it myself... the clean up, the cooking, the entertaining, all those kids in my house.... heaven knows I don't know how to throw a 'smallish' party. And what if it rains... September is one of the rainiest months in Costa Rica.

So I searched the web, my best tool so far, and narrowed my choices down to 2 places. Two very promising places.

My first choice is the Children's Museum. What more fun could a child have? It's the Children's Museum, fun is it's middle name. I had always wanted to have a party there, but figured the price was too steep. But after spending over *ahem* $400 on Princess's first birthday, I figured I would do myself a favor and save myself the headache of planning a party by having someone else do all the work for the same price.

They offer a lot for just under $300 and if you want to add more, say food for the adults, a pinata, ice-cream and facepainting, it still comes out to less than $400. Not bad. Plus someone else plays hostess, playing games with the kids and doling out prizes. Also, they give all the guests a tour of the museum. Not a bad deal... but I was still looking for something better and cheaper.

The second option I have is a place called Dreams. Located in Heredia, it's a bit farther than I would like. Some of my guests don't have cars, so I'm not sure if they would want to trek all the way to Heredia for a birthday party. Anywho, location aside, the place looks fun. It has a moonbounce, something I think every party should have (and something that has eluded me for both of Princess's parties since both times I rented a moonbounce they canceled. Plus I never had a chance to rent them in Boston for Boobies parties since they were so expensive). Dreams even has a zipline (canopy) and rock climbing for kids. It's defintely kid friendly, with all it has to offer and they have 'babysitters' who watch the kids while they play so the parents can sit, relax, talk and enjoy themselves.

For $215, they don't offer a lot... just hotdogs for each child. But I can bring my own cake, pinata and food... at no extra charge. They even have a kitchen. So I figure if I throw in an extra $15o and cook my own food, buy a cake at Pricesmart (a Bj's/Cosco type wholesale club), buy the pinata and fill it with inexpensive candy, the total package would only cost me roughly around $360. Not bad, not bad at all.

While I am thinking a month is enough time to plan a party, it's not. Picking the venue is just half the battle. I have to BOOK said venue and pay for it (not before crossing my T's and dotting my i's first though). People are planning parties left and right (Costa Rica is full of kids, don't you know) and booking these places as I type. At Dreams, they only have one time slot available for the date I'm looking for and if I don't want to lose out on that spot, I have to book ASAP. As soon as I've reserved my party place though, I can just sit back, relax and put my mind at ease while the planning gets done for me. I just wish I could make up my mind about which place to HAVE the party.

Which place will be more fun, which will give me more bang for my buck? Which one will the kids like more. Which one will help me save (i.e. not regret how much money I spent).

I know there has to be a better deal out there, but how do I find it. I have searched the far corners of the net... and I don't know too many people who have parties at places like these so that I can ask their opinions. The ones that do have parties like these have them at far more expensives venues. Plus I don't know Costa Rica and all it has to offer, as far as party rentals go, so I am relying on my only source of information which, right now, is the world wide web.

I know how much I want to utilize the Children's Museum for a party, it's my dream. But is my dream going to cost me in the long run? I guess I'll sleep on it and compare both places a little more tomorrow. Then I'll make my decision this weekend. There is just one more hurdle I must cross... telling hubby. He hates how much I spend on birthday parties and he's going to need a A LOT of convincing.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

My Little Fatty

Well, I knew this day would come and I longed for it. He is crawling everywhere and pulling up on EVERYTHING! The little booger is so troublesome now, it's actually hilarious how defiant he has become. He can get around on his own now (though he still loves the arms of his mommy), so he thinks he is his own man.

He prefers monopoly. He pulls on the cart I keep the games in and pulls down the monopoly game, even after I repeatedly hand him Memory. I guess Memory is too 'juvenile' for him. LOL.

He pulls out all the National Geographic books off their shelves, making a huge mess, pulling, pushing and even ripping a few in the process. I say no, and he looks at me with that debonaire smile of his and goes about ignoring me.

It's enough to make me scream or laugh... and the best thing I can do is remove him from the situation, to which he will just crawl back into or let him be and whip out my camera.

Monday, August 3, 2009

My Confession

I have a confession to make. Ready? Here goes. When I was a sophomore in high school, I became anorexic. I don't know if the term is "I became anorexic" or "I developed anorexia". Either way, I did have an eating disorder. I can look back now and laugh it off, only because my anorexia was not so bad. I didn't go too far, to the point where I was emaciated and on the bring of death, and I was able to help myself out of it. But the more I think about it and think about how easy it was for me to be anorexic, I wonder if I would ever be susceptible to anorexia again.

It was the beginning of 10th grade and I had to go to the school nurse to get a general exam and a clean bill of health so I could participate in sports. As a cheerleader, it was a requirement. It wasn't my first visit to the nurse... I was in volleyball and had played softball the year before so I knew the procedure. Everything was routine and as it should be, except my weight. When it came time for the nurse to weigh me, I was shocked at the results. According to her scale (the same one I had used the year prior), I had gained 10 pounds in 12 months. *Gasp*!!!

I was healthy and to look at me, she couldn't even tell. She assured me that it was mostly muscle, seeing as that I was pretty lean and was active in sports. She told me not to worry about it. But I did. I couldn't believe I had let myself get so 'fat'. And I was going to do something about it.

Not sure how I settled on anorexia as a solution to my problem... it must have been something I had read about. But I figured it was my best bet. I was young and dumb and I needed to lose those 10 pounds and fast.

I started slowly. No one can just starve themselves from the get go... at least I couldn't. I had to ease myself into it. I love to eat so it was really hard, at first. I would skip breakfast, which was easy to do since I was not really a morning person or a breakfast person to begin with. Then soon after, I would skip lunch as well. Eventually, I was up to not eating anything at all for the whole day. I was surprised how easy it got to just not eat, especially when the urge to eat was gone and the painful hunger pangs had subsided.

I was going a whole week without eating. And I was also exercising every single night before bed... this on top of any other sports activity I participated in at school. I didn't have money for a gym membership so I exercised in my bedroom with barely enough room to move around, but I did it. I felt I had to. I turned on the radio and danced my heart out, to my own choreographed steps and improvised moves.

Pretty soon, I noticed a change. It was paying off. I was losing weight and I thought I looked great. But I couldn't stop. I still needed to starve and exercise for fear of the weight creeping back up. I even remember my step sister commenting on how flat my tummy was... the 100 or so sit-ups I was doing a night had chiseled my stomach into a four pack. I was so proud. And so I would not stop... I was not about to stop and give up what I had gained. A rocking hard, skinny body.

But my family started to notice and not the good stuff. My sister caught on to me and tried to warn me. There was no more fat on my body lose and so the next place for me to lose any fat were my breasts. That did not sit well with me. I was already small and I did not want to get any smaller. But even then, I still couldn't stop. The mirror didn't lie. While I looked good, I thought there was always room for improvement. My grandmother staged an 'intervention' before there were really interventions. It involved my father, my grandmother and my stepmother.

My grandmother complained to my father just how stick thin I was getting; she was worried. She had also noticed that I refused to eat dinner each night, with the excuse that I wasn't hungry (she was really mad because I wouldn't eat her food). I didn't think I looked THAT thin at all. I looked fine. If anything I could stand to lose 5 or so more pounds, I thought. She pointed out how thin my legs looked and begged my father to talk to me. It didn't do too much good, as whatever my grandmother and father said at the time went through one ear and out the other. But to quell concern and shake off suspicion, I did start to eat. Besides maybe a fruit for the day, I would eat dinners on Fridays. But it got to the point where I was looking forward so much for Friday to come that the hunger pangs started again. I remember being so dizzy with hunger while at a cheerleading game, but refusing to eat a morsel because I looked so damn hot in my outfit.

After a while. I gave myself permission to maybe eat just one meal a day, but I would double my exercise time. Eventually though, I just got tired. I'm not exactly sure when that point of revelation came, where I realized that what I was doing was dangerous, but I think it had something to do with a conversation I had with my sister. She was telling about my metabolism and just how much starving would affect how it worked. I had a good metabolism but if I continued to starve myself, it would be hard for it to work properly in helping me burn off fat. In turn, it would be hard for me to lose weight the RIGHT way, as my body had gotten so used to being starved it was accustomed to holding on to fat in fear. I also was aware for the first time that if I went any further with my starvation, I could die.

I also realized something. It wasn't about weight, it was about something else. Low self esteem, maybe. Although I had always been a confident girl on the outside I still felt like I didn't measure up in many ways. It was about control. I couldn't control much about my life at 16, but I could control what I ate and if I ate at all. It was about feeling inadequate and maybe even a little depressed. my teenage life was filled with angst, rage, rebellious behavior... I needed an outlet to express myself. Not eating was my way of doing so.

Thankfully, I didn't need professional help at that time. I had the support I needed to overcome my illness. My sister, mainly, who understood the root of my problem and helped me talk about it. My fears about getting fat, not feeling like I was good enough. She helped me get it all out in the opening.

Now, why after all this time, do I feel the need to bring this up again. Well, one of many things. I was watching entertainment TV this weekend and it really struck me how many people, famous and otherwise, suffer from eating disorders. It's not as publicized as other illnesses, but it is deadly and so many suffer in silence. I was lucky. I got help before it was too late. To this day I have no idea how much weight I lost, or how far I went, starving myself to perfection. I never stepped on a scale throughout my ordeal. Numbers lie, and I feared seeing the numbers would push me over the edge. I feared all my work would be for naught.

Today I would say that I am beyond anorexia. Or any other eating disorder disease. I am far from perfect, but I am working on myself. Of course, I still look in the mirror and see that there is room for improvement and of course it doesn't help that I have had three kids since that time and am still struggling to lose the 'baby fat'. But I would like to think I am above starving myself. I would like to think that I learned my lesson. But I still worry that one day, it might seem too easy to just not eat.