Friday, June 30, 2017

Planning Another Family Getaway

It's that time again: kids are on school break, it's low tourist season and hotels have lowered their prices.  That means it's time to head to the beach.

Just last week, we decided to plan a family vacation to the beach to get away from the daily grind of life and enjoy a few days of relaxation.  It's the perfect time as hotels in Guanacaste are on the cheaper side due to it being rainy season and the kids are on a 2 week 'winter' break from school.

It's just a few days at the beach, a mini vacation, if you will.  Four days, three nights in Samara Beach, Costa Rica.  We chose Samara for a few reasons.  First, Puerto Viejo right now is experiencing their high season so hotels are more expensive. Second, we literally just went to PV a few months ago.  Third, it's been a while since we've been to Samara so we want to go back and see what's new.  Also, with hotel prices as low as they are, it was just the perfect time to visit.   The beauty of living in a country where some of the most beautiful beaches are just a few hours drive away, last minute getaways are a reality so we would be foolish not to take advantage.

We'll be staying at the Samara Pacific Lodge, a nice little hotel located a few minutes from town with a pool for the kids and breakfast included for the 3 days.

Planning this trip was so much fun, but it was also a little bit of work finding the right hotel for our family.  Being a large family, not many hotels have the accommodations we need in the price range we want.

We'll be heading on vacation in about a week and there is lot of preparing that needs to be done before we leave.  But it's always so much fun to prep for a vacation.  We look forward to a few days on sandy shore, trying new cuisine and poolside living.  #Beach life!

Friday, June 23, 2017

The Real Karate Kid?

Does my 8 year old look like Jaden Smith?  You know, Will Smith's son from the Karate Kid movie reboot.

Everywhere we go and everyone we meet, I get the same reaction.  People seem to think my son looks exactly like Jaden Smith as the Karate kid.  I know it's because he has braids but people think he has the same facial features as well.

I am used to my 8 year old getting a lot of attention when we go out.  As a toddler, he got the same reaction from people for his head full of yellowish light brown, curly hair.  Strangers would touch his head all the time just to feel his hair.  People would stop me and ask me if that was his natural hair color.  They wanted to touch his curls and some could not resist the urge to rub their fingers through his hair.

He got so much attention every time we went out that he started to actually hate it.  He couldn't understand why people loved his hair so much.  And why oh why did they always have to touch it (a lot of times without even asking if they could.)  Just walking by, a random person would just rub their hands through his hair as they walked passed.  He got really tired of that really fast.

He didn't like when people compared him to Jaden Smith at first either but now he's actually used to it and takes it as a compliment because the Karate Kid is now one of his favorite movies.

What do you think? Doe she look like the Karate Kid?

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

A Father's Day Filled With Fun

It was a fun, laid back Father's Day this year as we kept the day pretty simple and just enjoyed time together as a family.  Well, most of the family anyway.  While the middle kids were at a birthday party celebrating, hubby and I took our oldest and youngest sons out to celebrate the day at our favorite Japanese restaurant.  It was a relaxed afternoon that included good food and good company.  I could not have asked for a better day.  Oh, and the gifts hubby got were pretty neat as well: a horse painting, a Father's Day drinking mug, a car key chain, a few sweet treats and a few homemade cards.  

Friday, June 16, 2017

One Little Accident Can Change Everything

It's true what they say.  "Life happens while you're busy making plans".  You can plan all you want but you really can't plan for the future because sh*t happens and one small thing can change the course of a person's life forever, or even for a little while.

A few days ago, my elderly father in law slipped out in the streets and fell, breaking his shoulder in two places.  He had plans to go to the movies this weekend and, of course, plans for living his daily life and going on with his daily routines before the accident.  Now he can't even leave the house.

I won't go into the specifics or even go on a rant about the public insurance issues and the fact that he has to wait weeks before he can have surgery to fix his broken shoulder.  I can't even get into all of that in this one little blog.  But it's just ironic to think that something so simple and accidental as a fall can change so much.  In a matter of minutes, my father in law's whole day and seemingly perfect ordinary future had changed.  All the little plans he had went out the window the day he fell.

We have to value life for what it is, fragile and precious.  We cannot take it for granted like we do time and again.  While it's nice to have plans, the future is not set in stone nor promised.  Even the most well laid plans can go wrong.  But not having any plans at all can leave one in a precarious situation.  It can be beneficial to have plans for the future.

For example, my father in law, like I said, is elderly.  That means he should have his financial business in order by now.  When you reach a certain age, we all know it's just smart to start getting things prepared for that day when, well, you no longer reside on this earth.  He should have all that squared away with a lawyer of some sort so that if an accident happens, things can be taken care of swiftly without outside involvement.

After he fell, and could have possibly been hurt worse than a broken shoulder, that got him to thinking.  Who will take over his finances when he is gone?  What about all his assets?  What happens to those when he can no longer be in charge?  He did not plan on falling and breaking his shoulder and being rendered essentially useless.  Nor did he have any plans for his actual future as far as his finances are concerned.

Making plans that can change is one thing, making smart plans that are necessary is another.  Life is short.  We only get a number of years on this earth, less than a 100 in most cases.  And life isn't lived, really lived, until you're old enough to make your own decisions.  We have to take life by the horns and live it.  Live for today because tomorrow is certainly not promised, not to any of us.  And since we cannot predict what the future holds, it's folly to try and plan it out down to each passing minute.  Planning smart to secure your future and that of your offspring is necessary, but you must live life and soak up every minute life it's your last because you never know what can happen and it just might be.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Being Present

It feels good to be present in my kids life.  It's one thing to tell your kids how much you care about them and how they do in school.  It's another to show them.  I have always been involved with my kids schooling and activities.  From the beginning, when my teenager was a kindergartner, I made it a point to be involved in his schooling.  If I can't home school, I figured I might as well take on a more engaging role at his school.

It doesn't have to be anything elaborate.  Just volunteering my time a few hours a month is just enough to show my kids just how much I care about what goes on with their schooling.  For example, when my 17 year old was in kinder, I was pretty much at his school on a daily basis volunteering my time in the library or cafeteria.  Recently, I participated as a judge in his school's spelling bee and before that in his school's science fair.  Same goes for my middle two children, who love having me come up to their school.  Last year I was a volunteer face painter at their school's kids day celebration.  And I even manned a table at the school's cultural day festivities, selling typical Costa Rican goodies, including a dish I made and donated.

Attending events and school activities is also a way I immerse myself in what my kids are interested in at school.  Just last week, I was one of the dozens of parents who attended the Student Art Festival and Talent Show, where both my kids were participants.  As a proud mother, I stood and watched my children do things that I never thought they would do in front of such a large group of people.  My son was in his class play, where he had a bit role but a role none the less.  And my daughter participated twice, dancing her typical Costa Rican folklore dance and then a dance number her and a few of her classmates choreographed.

My kids love when I show up and am present at school.  It makes them feel good knowing they have a mom who truly cares.  And I will forever be grateful that I am able to be so involved.  So many mothers and fathers miss out on what their kids are up to in school because of work or a busy schedule.   I know I am truly blessed to share these moments with my kids.  It not only creates fond memories for us to look back on but helps with the bonding experiences we share.

It might not seem like a lot being at my kids' school for something like an Acto Civico (a civic re-enactment of important events that occurred in Costa Rica), but trust me, it means the world to kids. Just being there and being present says so much more than words.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Being A Teen Mom

I was a teen mom, 19 years old to be exact, when I had my first son.  That seems like it was so long ago.  17 years ago now actually.  Looking back on those times as a young mom, it makes me wish time didn't fly by so fast.

I enjoyed being a young mom.  It wasn't something that happened to me accidentally.  My mom was a young mother and I idolized her, so it was natural for me to want to imitate her in that sense. However,  I knew I didn't want to be 15 and pregnant in high school.  That was not a goal of mine.  And I wasn't going to get knocked up by just any random high school boy either.  I was going to wait until I found 'The One", the person I felt was my soul mate to start a family with.  I didn't actually think it would happen in high school, so it's not like being a young mom was something that occupied my thoughts.  But I always wanted to be a mother and I just felt it was in my destiny to be a young one.

When I did find my 'person', my husband, I knew he would be the one to father my children.  And it turns out, he wanted to be a young dad too.  We could have waited and might have benefited in life if we had, but we didn't want to wait.

We got lucky that in our situation, being teen parents didn't end up in a disaster.  We were blessed with a very supportive family and a few very understanding close friends.  And through our ups and downs, we managed to make it out on the other side together.

I have grown a lot in the last 17 plus years as a mother.  In my 30's now, I can look back on some of the mistakes I've made as a young mom and laugh about some of the things I thought or did back then.  Not to say I don't still make mistakes as a mother now because no mom is perfect.  And honestly, I still have a lot of learning and growing left to do.  Motherhood is ever evolving and new situations come up that we need to learn to deal with everyday.

However, It's nice to reflect on the positives and negatives of being a young mom in my teens and an older mom in my 30's.  There were a few benefits to being a teen mom like having more energy and just being young!  The benefits I enjoy as an older mom is having a sense of myself and just being more established as a mother.  But with all the good, there comes a bad side too.  Young moms are judged, constantly.  It's hard not to be pushed into a stereotypical box by society.  There are also a few drawbacks that younger moms face, like financial burdens and school issues to name a few.  And on the flip side, not everything comes up roses for older moms.  A few find themselves exhausted by the daily task of motherhood, not to mention older moms find themselves trying to balance it all because they feel like they should have it all together.

What I've learned by being a mom on both ends of the age spectrum is, motherhood is hard no matter your age.  Motherhood is not something to conquer, it's something to enjoy.  So no matter what your age, just enjoy it.  Because, time flies by way too fast and in no time, you'll be staring face to face with the next stage: being a grandmother.