Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Not Typical Me

You know, Boobie's birthday is like 2 months away.... a good 60 days according to my countdown. Typically I would start planning his party or activity already, maybe even have a few party stuff tucked away in anticipation for the event.

This year is just a little different. I am not going to be doing the typical me stuff anymore. I am trying to be a little more thrifty and save money. And since I have been so preoccupied with finding Boobie a school and PAYING for it, a birthday party was the farthest thing from my mind. BUT I do love a party and even more so, I love planning them, so it was in the back of my mind the whole time.

Boobie mentioned wanting to have a party at the skating rink in San Pedro. I thought it a good idea. He could invite a few kids (friends/cousins) and I could take them skating, then head over to the Mall San Pedro for lunch afterwards. But Boobie didn't like that idea. He wanted a PRIVATE party! That means renting the entire rink for only his party guests for a birthday skate-a -thon. Yeah Boobie great idea... even more money out of our pockets, Huh? This kid has no idea how much his education costs.

OK, so I decided to humor the idea; what the hey right. Nothing wrong in asking. As I was passing by the rink the other day, I got the number to call to solicit party information. I finally called today (took me a couple of weeks; like I said, preoccupied with schools). Anyway, the price wasn't BAD but it wasn't good either: c90.000 for 2.5 hours of skating for up to 50 people. If I wasn't thinking money for schools at this point, I would have said, "sure sounds fine, lets do it." But then I have to think of food for the party and that's yet another expense.

I mean, it's not a no. I will think it over. I know what Hubby will say, so I won't even mention it to him YET. Of course the other option is having something small here at home, like we did last year. I just need to get all this school stuff situated before I can think of any more money coming of my pocket. I'm still for a few friends going skating then lunch at the mall after, then home for cake. Maybe he'll warm up to that idea.

Monday, January 25, 2010

I Get So Lonely...

Sometimes. I blogged about not having any 'real' friends here before. And it just gets harder and harder for. I guess I keep blogging about it because it's a sore subject for me.

My friend, my closest friend that I had here in Costa Rica, is no longer that to me anymore. She is so distant. Our relationship is strained and she is moving farther and farther away from me. Yes, she leads a different life than I do. She has no kids. She works. And she has family here... TWO sisters AND a sister in law. I just don't fit into her life anymore, like I used to.

She never comes over to visit me anymore. She was on vacation for like 2 months, and I could count the amount of times I saw her (minus the times we hung out as a group with Hubby's girl cousins or at family gatherings). She's never home and when I call her she never answers her phone. When I try to set up a girl friend play date, she always brushes me off... she'll tell me to come one day, but when I call her she doesn't pick up her phone and when I stop by she's never at home. It's like she's trying to send me a message and I think that message is "leave me alone"! :(

I really think I am reading more into it, making my mind play dirty tricks on me. But it's hard NOT to feel that way. I met up with her by accident at Boobie's best friend's house (which happens to be her mom's house as well; she's Boobie's best friend's aunt). I decided it was my chance to catch up with her; shoot the breeze so to speak. Well, the whole time I was there, she was on her laptop, barely making eye contact with me. The conversation was forced and one sided... I did all the talking and she barely responded. I got a little shame faced and ended up leaving. I try to get up with her, but like I said many times before, she's never home and she never answers her phone.. or at least she never answers when I call.

It hurts. And there are days I just wish I had even ONE close friend to talk to. I miss not having any family here, which makes the friend thing even harder. I know I shouldn't feel so lonely, after all I have my kids and Hubby. But it's not the same. And Hubby's cousins are only friends by default. They are related to me in some sort of way and so it's just not the same. They have their true friends and family here to fill the gap for them, so they don't feel too lonely or friendless.

I said in my other blog that a friend will come if I just wait. Well, I've been waiting and so far, no luck. Hubby thinks it's hard for me to make friends because I am not OUT there. Meaning, he has made a few 'friends' and many acquaintances because he works. It's easier to find people you're compatible with when you are either working or going to school. I never thought being a stay at home mom would make it so hard to find friends. If anything I thought it would be easier.

Anyway, Boobie will be starting a new school soon and I am going to put myself out there. Market ME, if you will.

I will try and volunteer more to get myself noticed (something I have always wanted to do but never took the initiative, mostly because I never felt right at any of Boobie's old schools). Hopefully, with me putting myself out there, a friend will be waiting in the wings; waiting for a friend like me.

We're All Sick

Yup. We all woke up today with little colds... me, Princess, and Fatty. I barely got a full night's sleep last night as I bunked with the little ones and since Fatty could not breathe well, he kept waking up at all hours of the night. I had a little trouble breathing as well, along with feeling a little pain in my throat and a lot of pain in my body. And poor Princess, who woke me up twice in the middle of the night to pee, seemed to have breathing troubles as well.

Fatty woke up with gunk in his eyes and a runny nose. Princess woke up with a stuffy nose and I woke up tired. I hope we don't get hit with full blown colds. I just don't need to be getting sick right now.

Not to add today my body aches so bad, from all the exercise I did yesterday and Saturday. I hope my body does not take that as a sign of weakness and an excuse to get sick. I think I'll try and relax today (after my meeting with the potential pre-school for Princess).

I need a nap.


What a perfect Sunday I had. I tell you, it does not get any better, and when it does, it's just heaven all around.

So Hubby called me Sunday morning and asked me if I wanted to run up to the apartment and meet him so we could hang as a 'couple' for the day. I LOVE couple time as much as I love family time, so I was 'gung ho' and said yes!

After getting the kids showered and fed, I got ready to jog the 30 minutes to San Pedro to Hubby's apartment. It was a good jog. After I showered, Hubby and I enjoyed each others 'company' then headed out for a walk to find a place to eat. We both wanted Jamaican so we headed over to the new Jamaican restaurant in Curridabat (a stone's throw away from the apartment right on the San Pedro line). I forget the name of the restaurant, but it wasn't very creative; something like Jamaican Grill or something like that. It's right across the street from Kai's Cafe (another one of my favorite spots).

The ambiance was perfect. A little fancy on the inside but not over the top fancy where I felt uncomfortable (I still had my jogging clothes on). I LOVED the music in the background... mostly old school R&B, like Whitney Houston, R.Kelly, Boys To Men and the like. I was jamming to the music while I waited for the food and Hubby enjoyed watching the soccer game they had on the huge flat screen TV.

The menu was impressive. I didn't even scan the whole thing. I just focused on the Jamaican cuisine. They had dishes like Oxtail, Curry Chicken and Goat (yum), Jerk Chicken, etc. I mean dishes I had never seen here before and food I hadn't eaten in the 3+ years since I've been here. I was salivating. Hubby ordered the Ackee and Salt fish dish (it was served with rice and beans... rice and peas... and a salad). I ordered the Oxtail and rice and peas (it also came with a salad), along with Te Frio (iced tea). They ran out of te frio so I settled for the frutas drink, which I wasn't too happy with so I switched my frutas for Hubby's Mora, which was delish.

Now the food was OK, satisfying for sure, but they could have given bigger portions for the price... each dish was about C4.000 colones (roughly about $7). While Hubby was still hungry after our late lunch, I was full. But I did wish they gave more Oxtail, as oxtail is a part of the beef with VERY little meat and lots of bone. But I enjoyed the food and look forward to going back and trying out the other dishes on the menu. Next time I'll remember my camera.

Compared to the other Jamaican restaurant we go to, I'd have to give this one a 7 in comparison (for now). The rice and beans was good but the other place makes it better. And service was terrible. I didn't mind as I was reading the map of Jamaica they had on the table with some very interesting information about Jamaica, but Hubby was not too pleased.

After our dining experience, we walked over to the Munos y Nane bakery shop and grabbed some sweets for dessert (I got a chocolate covered cookie and Hubby got a danish). Then I grabbed a drink and we headed back to the apartment.

It was still such a nice day (a little cooler than the morning), so Hubby and I decided to ride our bikes back home (I rode Boobie's bike that he had left at the apartment Saturday). Now I had not really ridden a mountain bike before and it's been a while, a long while, since I've ridden a bicycle period. Now imagine me riding my bike on the street... a 10 year old's bike at that. Boy did I need help. So Hubby and I switched bikes. It was a workout I tell you, especially going up hill. And today, in between my legs where I sit on the bike is SWORE. I am in pain still, but it was so much fun I look forward to doing it again (I need to learn). It was so awesome being with Hubby, spending quality time with him and even squeezing in a little activity.

Like I said a perfect Sunday.

Friday, January 22, 2010

We Made A Decision

Or rather, I made a decision. I finally chose a school for Boobie. Here's a hint: it's neither Conbi College nor Saint Benedict. I was losing sleep and stressing about which of these two schools to choose; one that was too far away but more affordable or the one that was closet but a little high in tuition.

Well, in the end, I went with a totally different school and it was just by luck too. Today I decided to visit Colegio Monterrey. I had written it off my list because it was too expensive (c140.000 colones... a little less than $250 a month).

But I decided to go see it all the same, hoping against hope that it would help me with my decision. Well, I called and made an appointment for today at 11 am. Boobie and I headed over there and to my surprise it is pretty close. Not as close as Conbi but much closer than Saint Benedict.

I wasn't impressed with the school at first sight so I thought I would still be battling over my decision of which school to choose after the visit. Well, let me just tell you this: We LOVE the school (the tour sealed the deal) and after a quick meeting with hubby to show him the brochure and tell him a little about the school, we decided to apply. Hopefully Boobie will be attending next month.

I have to call on Monday and set up a meeting for Boobie to take 2 placement exams in Math and English on Tuesday. He'll also have a meeting with the director and we'll find out for certain whether he got accepted. Then from there, it's time for the money to do some talking. We have to pay the enrollment fee of c120.000 colones, the one time fee of c15.000 colones, uniforms (which are fairly reasonably priced), books, school supplies, and the tuition for February. School begins the 3rd, so that does not leave us with enough time to do it all. Fortunately, uniforms and books are sold at the school so that is one stop shopping. And most every where else sells school supplies so I can get my shopping done in just one day.

Now why did I settle for an even more expensive school than my first 2 choices. I don't know. I guess the school just spoke to me. It is HUGE!!! Even bigger than Conbi and Saint Benedict. It has a library, computer and science labs, a ginormous gym and a cafeteria the size of half my house. No joke. Not to mention so many places for the kids to play outdoors (a soccer field, football field, basketball court, a play ground). It hit EVERY single point of importance on my list.

While the price is a bit high, it is still doable and won't stretch us too much, although I'll have to watch my spending from now on. Also, the school is NOT bilingual which puzzles me because they offer, I think it was, 14 lessons in English a week. Just as much as Conbi and Saint Benedict. But the biggest selling point: Boobie LOVES the school, even more than Saint Benedict so we have a winner. I cannot wait for him to start school now.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

It Has Begun

Fatty has discovered the art of spitting. Yup. He's a 'spitter' now. You just gotta love these toddler stages.

He spits in your face, your clothes and takes your hand ever so gently and spits in it.

And of course the reaction he gets only eggs him on to spit some more.

Oh boy. What's next, huh?

Decisions, Decisions

What to do... what to do?

I have been searching high and low for the 'perfect' school for Boobie. After scanning the world wide web, calling about a million schools and visiting 8 of them, I narrowed down my list of choices to 2. The two I chose had to meet my rigorous requirements and pass the tests I set forth for them.

First off, I was looking for a school that would be Boobie's home away from from home for the next 8 years of his school life. I wanted a school he would LOVE, hence do well in and make friends. Not to mention get along well with his teachers. I was also looking for a big school. I am so tired of sending him to these small schools with barely enough room to turn around in without bumping into someone. Also a school that had enrichment and after-school programs and clubs was at the top of my list.

I also really wanted a bilingual school. After going to CECR, I was not pleased with their English program at all. Too simple for Boobie and really not enough work to challenge him and keep his interest. It was not a bilingual school, so that said a lot about their English department; it was seriously lacking.

Also at the top of my list:

* Affordability. We're NOT rich. We cannot afford hundreds of dollars a month for school with 3 kids. No way. So my goal was to find a GOOD school that was less than $200 a month, or about c100.000 colones, to start (roughly $176 dollars). Schools go up around C10.000 each year so I had to calculate the rising cost of his education for the 8 years he has left of school and try to find an institution that would not bankrupt us in the future. I know how lucky we are to have great options for private schools here in Costa Rica in that price range. I consider myself blessed, especially when the cost of daycare in Boston is considerably more. And while a mere $200 is cheap in American terms, it's considered quiet a bit of change here in CR. My kids education is important to me, and that is why Boobie is in private as opposed to public school. That is why I try to find good and affordable schools so that I don't compromise my child's education, while also having money left over that we save on education for fun family outings.

*Proximity to our house. While his last 2 schools were within walking distance, I knew I would have to branch out and search for a school that was a little farther away from home, if I wanted to find a good school in my price range. I need the school that I choose to be close enough for me to get to without too much trouble. Very important when you consider teacher conference meetings, events and other school related activities that I will have to attend, and the fact that I have small kids and NO CAR!!!!

* A gym. Boobie complained that at CECR, physical education class would sometimes get canceled due to rain since the kids had no where else to play than outside. They did not have a gym. So I put that on my list for Boobie. I think PE is important and kids need a place to play, both indoors and outside. They need options.

While 2 of the schools I visited were only primary/elementary schools, the rest went all the way to the 11th grade; high school. I weighed my options of sending him to one of the elementary schools since that would enable me to switch him out, once he graduated, to one of the schools I really wanted him to go to.... both of which were full.

However, that would again pose another problem of searching for yet another school once he graduated... although I would have an easier time since I already had all the information I need and know which schools I want. BUT since this will be Boobie's THIRD school, I am hesitant to have him switch schools yet again, even if that means him graduating. I just want him to find stability and be able to make life long friends.

As my search winded down, I set my sights on 2 that stood out the most... and the two that Boobie happened to fall in love with. Bulls eye! They both have pros and cons, not really against each other, just against my list. Now I have to make the decision of which to apply to... and of course hoping that he gets in.

First School: Conbi College
*closer to the house in San Pedro Montes de Oca (about a 10 minute drive... 25 minute walk)
*offers bus service at around $62 a month
*Big... lots of green space, outdoor play space
*cafeteria/audio visual room/gym/outdoor soccer fields and basketball court/school psychologist
*offers Mandarin 3 hours a week
*7:30 to 2:30 every day
*offers scholarship program with affiliated colleges around the world
*20 minute recess and 30 minute lunch
*big classrooms (max 20 students)
*many electives (8 to choose from) and extra curricular activities (6 to choose from)
*separate computer lab
*separate art studio

Second school: Saint Benedict
*farther away from home in Curridabat (about 20-25 minute drive)
*offers bus service (at first the school said no bus service was offered in town, but when I called the bus driver said she could come pick up ds in the neighborhood for around $70 a month)
*Big... lots of green space and play space
*has a gym/all purpose room/cafeteria/outdoor soccer field/play area/library/school psychologist
*offers French
*7:30 to 3 pm Mon-Thurs; 7:30 to 12:30 on Fridays
*two 10 minute recesses. 20 minute lunch and another 10 minute recess
*Around $26 dollars a month cheaper (for tuition and bus service) than Conbi
*Around $56 cheaper for the yearly fees than Conbi (so not a HUGE difference in prices)
*Big classrooms (max 30 but only about 18 right now in ds's grade) and 2 classrooms per grade
*many after school clubs ( 5) and extra curricular activities ( 6)to choose from
*separate computer lab
*separate art studio

My cons:
Conbi is c116.000 a month... so more than I initially wanted to pay for tuition. And they have yearly fees that add up to about $130 dollars. Also, I was not that impressed with Conbi's gym. It looked unfinished to me and dark. Also, there was no library. But I loved everything else.

Saint Benedict's big drawback is the distance... a problem for me and the reason I have yet to apply. Other than that, I think it's the front runner. The price is right and it offers just about as much as Conbi, though Conbi WAS our first choice. I was not too impressed with the cafeteria like I was with Coni's cafeteria though. It just looked so small. And while the brochure says the school has a library, it was not shown to me on the tour.

My pros:
I have to admit Saint Benedict's price is a big seller. I mean for the size of the school and all they offer, I was surprised at how low the price is. A mere c88.000 a month plus they allow you to pay December's tuition in installments each month along with the regular tuition; you end up paying c96.000 a month and then not have to worry about paying December at all, or all at once. And while it baffles me why schools have you pay for December when the students get out in November, I am used to that now. Also, while the gym was not that impressive, it was big and Boobie liked it. Another plus: the school offers intensive English, which Boobie needs in order NOT to lose his English...12 to 13 lessons a week in English. Impressive!

I really love Conbi's location; a perfect school setting. I also love the look of the school and the office was HUGE. And like I said before I LOVE their cafeteria. It was so much like the cafeterias I am used to back in the States...except it had seats inside AND outside... options that I love.

It has been a tough decision trying to decide which school to choose. But after I do choose, it's then up the school to accept Boobie and that in itself poses another problem. While Conbi only requires 70 or above on a child's report card, Saint Benedict requires 80 or above in conduct. I will think it over some more, then select the school I think is best for Boobie... Boobie is rooting for Saint Benedict. We'll see how the application process goes and of course I will keep you all updated. I am so excited!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Palmares Fiestas

Palmares Fiestas have begun, one of the biggest and most anticipated events in Costa Rican culture. I was lucky enough to have been invited on a girls day out to the Tope, the horse parade on Thursday the 14, the first day of the fiestas. In total it was about 12 of us, all females.

The very start of Palmares fiestas begins with the big horse and cowboy/cowgirl parade. It's a day of fun, drinking, western wear (wanna-be cowboys and cowgirls dressed to the nines in cowboy boots, hats, skirts, jackets, shirts, etc), more drinking and general having of a good ole time.

more on Palmares Fiestas

When I got invited to Palmares, I had no idea what it was, really. I assumed it was just like Zapote. It's similar, with all the rides, but Palmares is maybe 3 times bigger than Zapote fiestas and much more fun. There were so many people. It took me over 30 minutes just to go to Pali (the supermarket, which on a normal day should have taken me just 5 minutes) buy a bottle of water and stand in line. Then to get out of the parking lot of Pali was a whole 'nother story. They ended up closing Pali early... they just did not have the capacity to accommodate that many people all at once.

I had such a good time, except near the end of the night when all I did was wait around. Waiting for 5 females to retrieve the van, 3 girls who went to enjoy the 'fiestas', and 2 missing sweaters. I was very happy I went though. It was good to get away for the day, take a break from my household and motherly duties for a few hours and just hang. I didn't get a chance to drink, like everyone else, but I still had fun just the same. And as soon as I got home, at around 1 A.M, I went to straight bed (after checking on my kiddos first : ).

Look at the amount of people. I left my house before 8 A.M. We got to Palmares sometime after 10 A.M, just so we could find a spot before the parade began at 1 P.M.

A few of the girls.

The parade is about to start...

The famous dancing horses... how they get these horses to dance is beyond me but it is so cool to watch.

HSBC (the bank) had a lot of people wearing their sashes... I guess they spent a lot of money on sponsorship (and advertisement) for the parade.

Check out the people on the roof. Insane!

A pirate on a horse.

This horse had hearts on it's butt! And 'shoes' on it's hoofs!

Elton-Tico... that's his name (the Tico Elton John). A somewhat 'famous' funny character at the fiestas.

Some of my ladies were brave enough to get on a horse, or 2.

Yeah so I told this guy to take a pic of me and my ladies; well he took the liberty to snap this pic of his friends with MY camera. The nerve! Oh well, I saved it so I could post it here. LOL.

Pic with the ladies... although 3 were missing.

And without fail, when you mix booze with a crowd, you get a fight. Not to worry, there were a million cops on hand; and it happened right in front of the red cross to boot.

The 'toro': this is one big bull.

The parade ended at 6 pm, then the fiestas REALLY began. Again, look at the crowds.

Still having fun.... but the waiting game was wearing on me, I was ready to head home.

If you get the chance, check out the Palmares Fiestas:

Capital: Alajuela
Km from Palmares to San José: 54 km

Try not to miss it!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

It's A Miracle

Someone please pinch me because I must be dreaming.

All three of my children fell asleep before 8:30. All THREE OF THEM! Princess fell asleep before 8... fatty woke up from a short (and late) nap to eat and then went back to bed around 8... and when I went in to check on Boobie (who I had given some 'homework' to do in prep for starting school next month), he was fast asleep as well.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!! That is my sigh of relief. A whole night to just be... I hope hubby comes home soon so we can spend some quality time together

Ok, NEVER MIND!!! Someone pinched me too damn hard. Princess woke up.

Monday, January 11, 2010

I Miss The Sun

Oh where o where did the sun go?

Oh where o where could it be?

For I do miss thee, oh mighty sun...

Why won't you come out and play with me?

Yes, the sun is in hiding again. For the past 2 days or so, it's been rainy, cold and cloudy. Dark and depressing... weather fit for winter time in Costa Rica, in months like September, October and November. This is not fit weather for January... summer time. Yet, alas, we have been experiencing this dark and moody weather on and off this month.

I missed my jog due to weather conditions today and yesterday, we stayed inside pretty much all day. The kids barely left the house today. And only ventured out yesterday for a few minutes on a short errand with me. I am not complaining too much. At least it's not snowing or below freezing. I can still get away with wearing a skirt even in this type of weather. But I do miss the sunny mornings. I was getting used to the summer time weather. I hope it hasn't passed me by so soon.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Let's Test Out The Chalk Shall We

I put a box of sidewalk chalk in Princess's stocking for Christmas. I decided we would have some fun with it this day. It was a gorgeous sunny day and we had nothing better to do... so we played with chalk... old school style.

Zapote Fiestas

How do you know for certain that the holiday season has officially ended in Costa Rica? Well, for one thing, once the Zapote Fiestas is over, you can tell for sure.

Zapote is a town in San Jose and every year they have one of the BIGGEST 'fiestas' during the Christmas season. It runs for about 2 weeks, starting Christmas Day and ending just after New Years. It kicks off with a parade and each night, the main attraction is the arena where they have the 'running of the bulls'.

Not really running with the bulls like in Spain... more like running AWAY from the bulls. So many brave (or stupid) people get in the ring with the bulls and try to provoke them into chasing them. They try to touch them too, which I think can garner you some cash if you do. Many many people get hurt and I can venture some may have even died from this dangerous sport, but it is one of the main attractions that draws hundreds of people every year.

Zapote fiestas also has the typical carnival atmosphere and feel, with rides, games, food and entertainment. I always get some 'fried dough" when I go. They also have candied apples, cotton candy, fried chicken and other not so good for you fare to scarf down while waiting in between rides.

This year hubby and I squeezed in some time on the very last day to enjoy the fair, without kids. We were only able to go on 3 rides (together), but we were there for over an hour... go figure. It was nice getting out with him, as couple, even for that short period of time. We had a blast and I look forward to it next year.

Haunted House.

Hubby, barney and BJ...

Popular Tv characters to draw kids in... take a photo with them for a small fee.

This was a tame ride.

The crowds...

This ride was pretty damn good!

Wanted to test this ride out, but just didn't feel the need.

More crowds...

The ship... my favorite ride that night at Zapote. Hubby, A and myself thoroughly enjoyed this ride.

Feeling the love at Zapote.