September 28, 2012

THE STONE OF 2012

Over the past eight years I have had four kidney stones. They usually hit every three years in late summer to early fall. Yes, I kind of keep tabs on these things. This week my most recent kidney stone came a whole year sooner than I expected.


At a blessed four mm I casually passed this little rock with out surgery. Five mm is usually the cut off between having surgery, and sending you home with drugs to sweat things out. I would say all in all we were really blessed. I know you are wondering how any of this could have been a blessing.

Last week when I first felt the stone doing it's thing, Mike was on a fishing trip 12 hours away. So, to have this baby wait for daddy to be here was so nice. And then to be able to pass the stone on my own with out surgery is the icing on the cake. While we were sitting laboring in the ER I felt the stone move into my bladder and the pain was gone. No kidding. See the blessings here?

I am all recovered, well, except for my arm. When one of the nurses was trying to draw blood, she hit the nerve in my elbow and sent a zinger down to my thumb. It is still tender and feels really odd.

In other news...I'm super happy it's Friday. Movie tonight will be Chipwrecked (don't judge), and pizza might even be carry out!

Oh, and I've been holding my stomach in more trying to retrain my muscles to keep it flat. Muscle memory, right?

KIDNEY STONE 2010

September 26, 2012

SERIES\\ MOVING ON


Moving is a pretty big deal. I know I am not the only one that feels that way. I've asked friends to share some tidbits and tips about moving.

Do you like to read? Then you will love today's guest Karey, from Mackin Ink. Karey writes beautifully and is no stranger to moving. Spend the rest of your afternoon reading her blog after you read this, of course.


Q. Where was your move from and to? 
A. We've spent most of our girlies' lives overseas in the Middle East, but had been back in the Washington DC area for a little over two years. We never stay that long...anywhere! So we were itchy. All of us, even though one of us - Grae-Rose, the self-proclaimed queen of her sixth grade and you do NOT leave when you are queen of a place! - did not yet know it. My husband called home one day and said "Jakarta!" and I squealed and said "Yes!" and then I immediately looked on a map to find out where in the world that place was. I swallowed my fear of small islands surrounded by water and probably tsunamis and said "YES!" even louder the second time.

Q. How old were your kids at the time of the move, and how did you tell them you were moving? 
A. Lillie Kate is 13, Grae is 12, and Esme is six. But my philosophy has been the same since they were babies on up with our very first move from Texas to Virginia to Oman and to Jordan and now to Indonesia. I'm of the mindset that we're all in this together. What I know, they know. And when I know, they know, too. We've been like that with them from the beginning, and I have to say it makes for resilient kids.They know what's coming, they're never blind-sided, and I think at some point they begin to trust that everything we do and everywhere we move will be a lovely process and place.

Q. What were some of the challenges with the move, and how did you overcome them? 
A. I don't acknowledge challenges. It's a problem, but I prefer to look at all the crazy fresh inspiration we are going to be gifted, and have faith that the rest will work itself out. It always does. Although there was one move from Jordan to the States when we were a million pounds overweight on our allowed shipment, which translated to about four thousand dollars. That one hurt. My husband kept looking at me with total incredulity when our shipment finally arrived. "This? This is what we paid to ship? Oh, thank God we packed THIS." ("This" was usually plastic and crappy and promptly donated or pitched.) It wasn't a pretty few weeks. He is still bitter, BUT he now contributes more to the packing process! So there is always a silver lining in this cloud of insanity that seems to follow me around!

Q. How have you embraced your new town? 
A. Easily. Everyone smiles here, and it's easy to stay in a good mood when that is happening. Even in traffic. Also, I say yes to everything. Even when it makes me feel whoa-am-I-way-out-of-my-comfort-zone ill. We all realize Jakarta is a fantastic place for us. Even our youngest, Esme, says how chill this place is. The girls are relaxed, they've already found their people, they have freedoms and opportunities we could have never given them in the States, we are all busy in inspired ways...if I'm being honest, I think we're just made for change. I think everyone is, actually. Some of us just don't know it yet.

Q. Do you have and tips for another mom moving her family? 
A. Be honest about everything. Your worries, your excitement, and your hopes. And pack pretty things to sprinkle around your new digs as soon as you get there to make it look insta-happy. I brought mosquito netting canopies, a shiny garland, soft pillowcases, sparkly decals, and quality art supplies in my suitcase. Little things like that make the experience feel like a holiday of sorts. Because who doesn't love a life masquerading as a holiday?

Want more moving tips? Read these...

September 25, 2012

COSTA RICA PART III


There are several river trip tours in the Arenal area. Mike was leaning towards a white water rapid tour, and I thought a float would be just fine. I was declared the winner, and Safari Boat Float was booked.


We were lucky and didn't have any rain while we floated down Peñas Blancas. The sun was warm, but it felt so good. I thought we could splash ourselves cool with the river water, but was advised not to. There were crocs in the water. Um, what? We were floating in a raft!


Our tour group was nice and small, only six of us and the guide. It lasted a couple of hours and we saw all sorts of birds, bugs, and wild life. Howler moneys tried to pee on us, vultures eyed us, the toucans kissed for us, and the poison frogs sang. Oh, the sloth slept and there were no crocodiles in sight that day.


The tour ends with a stop at a local farmer's home, which is just a short hike up from the river. 


The family prepared us a meal of cornbread, fresh cheese, fried bananas and fresh juice. Fresh bananas from the bunch really can't be beat.


COSTA RICA PART I
COSTA RICA PART II

September 24, 2012

HOME\\ THE GREAT ROOM

The floor plan of our home is really nice and open. There are windows along the back of the house that let in the most marvelous light.


Just to the left of the front door is our den and craft studio. To the right are some bedrooms and straight ahead is the great room.


We had three different couches in our last home, and luckily one of them was just perfect for this room. This leather sectional was in the basement of our old house, and is great to seat lots of people when watching movies. 


The great room opens up to the kitchen and dinning room, with the master bedroom just beyond that.

Before we moved I would stay up at night trying to picture our furniture in this house, and figure out what would go in each room. We have been really happy with how our things have transitioned. Some of it could have been a disaster. Our gray couches would never have worked in this room for us.

The walls are a sage green, and have been burdensome to me since we first walked through the house. I like green, just more along the lines of kelly or grass, and not on my walls. 


The builder did some fabulous wood work. From the wood door, to the beams, ceiling, and trim work there is a lot of wood. In our last house I always fretted over the wood floor matching the cabinets, etc. Now I've realized wood just goes with wood. It really works on it's own.

I love the paneled ceiling and would put it in another house in a heartbeat, but I would paint it white. While I might get Mike to paint the walls white for me, we will not be painting the ceiling. This house was built with a definite aesthetic and I don't want to try to paint over that. I think it's better to enjoy what it is.

So what do you think? Wanna come over for movie and pizza Friday night?

See more of our North Dakota home:
THE KITCHEN

September 20, 2012

COSTA RICA PART II

In Costa Rica, there are plenty of tour companies that will happily show you around the area. To keep things simple, Mike and I chose to hire guides for things we couldn't get to on our own. 


Hiking through the Arenal Volcano National Park was something we could handle on our own. With a ten dollar entrance fee to the park, we saved a considerable amount of money not going on a guided tour. The trade off would be that a guide could point out bugs, flowers, and points of interest.


We saw and heard plenty of wild life, and we were able to go as fast or slow as we wanted. Leaf cutter ants were every where.

After the National Park it we went down the road to do some zip lining. I think I've mentioned how unadventurous I am? This was definitely out of my comfort zone, but to pat myself on the back, there were other people really scared that backed out at the last minute and I didn't. Enough boasting.


We suited up with sour smelling helmets, gloves, and rock climbing harnesses and enjoyed a gondola ride to the top of the rain forest. This zip line was made up of eight different cables. The longest being over 2,000 ft long. The ride lasted a mere 45 second because you were zipping along at 50ish mph.

The first four cables were painful. Why? Because it started raining. As you were zipping along, the rain was hitting you in the face. Ever been in a sand storm? Same feeling. Just as I was getting used to the sensation of flying through the sky, the rain let up. No roller coaster feeling in your stomach, well -except for once. This was a lot of fun. We were soaking wet and wind blown in the end, but it was great. The rain also explains the sour smell of the gear.

La Fortuna waterfall was another activity that we hiked on our own. This hike and the time we spent swimming at the waterfall were my favorite of our entire vacation. Getting to the waterfall is not a far hike, but it is pretty steep. It's a path well traveled through the forest.

There are several look out spots for those that can't make the hike down, or for picture taking. Just around the base of the waterfall are giant basalt boulders perfect for sitting and watching everyone trying to swim against the power of the water. Fifty yards to the left of the fall, separated by a bunch of rocks, is a calm pool to swim in. There's even a sandy area to set up a picnic. Mike and I hiked around and found a nice flat rock to have a snack and enjoy the surroundings. Once you toughen up to the chilly water, it is heavenly. I could have floated in that crystal clear water all day.

COSTA RICA PART I

September 17, 2012

SERIES\\ MOVING ON

Moving is a pretty big deal. I know I am not the only one that feels that way. I've asked some friends to share tidbits about their big move.

Today we have the fabulous Marie from Make and Takes, talking about her family's big move.


Q. Where was your move from and to? 
A. We moved from Utah to Seattle. A pretty big move. My husband had a job change, he now works at the REI headquarters. But we were excited and ready for something new.


Q. How old were your kids at the time of the move, and how did you tell them you were moving? 
A. Our kids were 8, 5, and 2 years old. So fairly young, at a good stage for moving. We talked to them about how Daddy was getting a new job, but that we would move to a new city. We have some family in the area, an Aunt and Uncle and a few cousins, so that made it much more easy for us to move. The kids knew they would be seeing their cousins more often and that helped a lot! 


Q. What were some of the challenges with the move, and how did you overcome them? 
A. One of the biggest challenges was the climate change. It's very wet in Seattle. Luckily we moved during the dry summer and were able to enjoy the sun for about 3 months. But once the rain came and didn't stop, I had to figure out how to deal with the wet and mud. We bought rain boots and jackets and had to figure out how to keep the wet and mud outside and not bring it inside. That was tricky, but I now have a mud room system, no shoes on in the house! 


Q. How have you embraced your new town? 
A. When we first moved here, it was the start of summer. If you can plan your move that way, I highly recommend it. We took 3 months and really got to know our city. We were out almost every day with something new to do. And Seattle has so much to do. Then by the time school started, my kids didn't feel like the newbies. They had already lived here for a bit and felt like they belonged. 

Q. Do you have and tips for another mom moving her family? 
A. My tip would be to involve the kids in every step. Talk about the move. Look up the new city. Make a plan for things to do to embrace it. And when you get there, dive in and get exploring. Help the kids feel like it's their city. Make a list of things to do and go out and have fun discovering! 




Thanks for sharing Marie!

Click here see my fist interview with Jane.

September 14, 2012

THE LIBRARY



The first time I took the kids to our new library I left in tears. There were two options to get a library card. I could pay ten dollars every six months, and only check three items out at a time. Or, I could get a North Dakota driver's license, pay nothing and check out fifteen items at time.

Checking three items at a time would mean someone came home empty handed, and it would probably have to be me. My kids are used to borrowing a ton of books at a time. Plus ten bucks every six months!

Getting a North Dakota driver's license wasn't really on my agenda, especially not the first week I was here. A couple of weeks later I got my library card with my North Dakota license.

Library cards were not always so difficult to obtain in Williston. Word on the street is that with the huge influx of oil workers in town, the library was getting a little abused. Books were not getting returned because of people leaving town. I guess they figured if you were permanent enough to get a driver's license you were permanent enough to borrow and return books.

We borrow fifteen books every time. This week I came home with six just for me. You know, because I can.

September 12, 2012

COSTA RICA PART I

Remember forever ago when I told you I was going to Costa Rica? I know, it feels like an eternity ago. 

Well, I think you are finally ready to see my amazing pictures. All of our pictures were taken with my iPhone. I didn't want to worry about my big camera getting ruined or stolen while I was trying to be adventuresome (this does not come naturally to me.) Lucky for us the iPhone takes great snap shots!

Growing up in Hawaii spoiled me when it comes to tropical places. I'm always comparing, and saying things like, "Oh, this is just like home. Green trees, over grown vegetation, come on show me something new!" Bratty, I know, but don't walk away yet.

It's the culture, people and the food that I really love to experience when we are traveling. Costa Rica was nothing short of amazing for us. Our trip was spent in two different towns.


First stop: La Fortuna. It's a small town close to the Arenal Volcano. Which is still an active volcano. You can see steam spitting out of the top of it.


We rented a little car and drove from the Liberia Airport to La Fortuna. There are lots of companies that offer transportation, but we wanted to be able to stop and take our time along the way. After we arrived we realized our iPhone GPS wasn't working, so we rented a GPS as well. It was totally worth it. There were many times we would have thought we were on the wrong road if it hadn't been for the GPS.

Renting cars in foreign speaking countries isn't for sissies. Mike speaks Spanish fluently and that made a huge difference for us. While lots of people speak English, it's best not to assume, and we were not in resort type areas. 

We booked our trip on the shoulder months, aka the rainy season. This saved us a bit of money on our hotels. The rainy season can be a bit rainy. Did you notice the picture of the pothole up top? When we were driving into town, it was raining cats and dogs. Our little rental car hit that pot hole at 30kph. What happened next could be classified as a small disaster. Pothole + speed = flat tire. To top things off, the car jack was not with the spare in the trunk. Don't forget about the rain. Mike was walking back and forth moving suitcases, looking for all the tools, and looked like he jumped in to the ocean. We determined there was not jack. A nice, local guy, in his pick up stopped to help us. Mike was able to explain in Spanish what the issue was. While they were changing the tire in the rain, another driver hit the same pothole and pulled over right behind us. When we finally got to the hotel we looked a little worse for ware. We told one of the staff about the tire, and missing jack. He laughed and told us the jack was under the driver's seat. Lo and behold, there it was. Maybe if there had been a manual in the glove box we could have found it, but there wasn't. Now you know, if you can't find the car jack, look under the driver's seat.




After the tire and rain ordeal, a nice hotel was very welcomed. We spent three nights at Nayara Hotel & Spa. Each room was freestanding, and completely surrounded by lush plants to feel like you were totally alone. There were indoor and outdoor showers, a personal jetted tub and hammock on your deck, and air conditioning. Each room also had a picture perfect view of the volcano. This really was a lovely hotel with great staff. I would stay here again, with kids too.


The town of La Fortuna itself is only a few city blocks with the Catholic Church at it's center. There are more than enough shops and restaurants to occupy a few days. The top photo is our awesome rental car in front of a party store. All good towns have a party store.

We wanted a legit Costa Rican dinning experience, and it took us a long time to find someone that wasn't trying to pamper us. Local eateries are called Soda _____ fill in the blank. We ate yummy empañadas at Soda Pito Pito.

The last photo is our bill from a restaurant. Notice the address. It says it's halfway between the Catholic church and Alamo car rental. I think the postal service there must really know their way around.

September 11, 2012

HOME\\ THE KITCHEN

I never did a house tour of our last home mostly because I didn't think anyone cared what my house looked like.

This time around, I am sharing pictures of our house because I know my family is dying to see what it looks like. So, please pardon my lack of interior style and look away if you think it's hideous. You can look else were if you would like to see lots of amazing interior photos that leave you feeling covetous and inadequate. 

Over the six years we owned our first home, we were able to make it into exactly what we wanted. Just about every surface in that house was redone by us. From the yard, basement, slate, subway tiles, custom deck, teak wood flooring, and several coats of paint we did it all. Leaving that house was really hard for many reasons. One was because I felt like we had finally got it how we wanted it. Through the six years we discovered our likes, dislikes and overall design aesthetic. 

On the upside, we were able to sell our home to Melissa and Chris. They appreciated the work we had done to the house and I know they will love it every bit as much as we did. 

Now to North Dakota...

When shopping for homes in ND our pickings were slim. We were truly blessed to find the home we did, and when I start complaining about the wall colors, the slate backsplash, or how masculine the house is I have to remind myself to be grateful. I'll share more on the housing situation soon.


Our kitchen has great tall cupboards, and the microwave is above my head. A step stool is always in the kitchen. We have a fabulous farm sink that is a blessing and a curse. It's great that it can hold a ton of dishes, but it's a pain that it can hold that many dirty dishes. Oh, and the rustic edge on our granit counter tops are fancy, but they hurt when you bump into them. Some of the counter is at my shoulder height.


I love how open the room is, it's a lot like our old kitchen and dining room. When I am washing dishes I can look out at our wide open view and watch the kids in the back yard. I have no plans to put window treatments here. When else am I going to have no neighbors behind me? Privacy is non issue here.

September 10, 2012

BOOM TOWN\\ DOWNTOWN WILLISTON

Williston was founded in 1887 by James J. Hill,  and named after his friend Daniel Willis James. The town is a little over 7.5 square miles, with the downtown area taking up just a few city blocks. Downtown is where you can find the movie theaters, a handful of shops, and several small eating establishments.


This is not a downtown that you worry about parking garages or meter maids. Crowds are kind of non existent.

Do use caution when crossing the street. Just about every vehicle is a big truck. More on that another day...

September 07, 2012

FINALLY FRIDAY


I think a holiday on a Monday makes me more anxious for the next Friday. Do you feel me?

Last night I declared every Friday pizza & movie night. The kids asked for how long, and I said for forever. Until the day I die. Davis responded, "Oh good. I'll bring my kids over on Friday's when you are old." Hmm. We might just have to change locations to his house when I'm old, but we won't worry about logistics right now.

The weather has started to cool down here on the prairie. I wonder how long fall lasts around here? From what people say about winter, I hope autumn is good and long.

Well, cheers to the weekend, and pizza & movie night.

September 06, 2012

THE NEEDLES HIGHWAY, SOUTH DAKOTA

 The rest of our long weekend was spent in Rapid City, which is three hours south of Medora. Just out side of Rapid City is Mt. Rushmore, Custer State Park and several scenic drives through the Black Hills. Our last visit to this area was spent looking at Mt. Rushmore, and this trip was all about the scenic highway.


From many of the stops along the highway you could look over at Mt. Rushmore. On the drive there are several tunnels you drive through, and three of those tunnels are made to from Mt. Rushmore.


The Needles are granite rock formations that you can drive through. Some of these tunnels are a tight squeeze. Like the photo above. I didn't pay attention to the width of the tunnel until I saw the people in front of us touching the walls.


Our last stop along the scenic highway was Sylvan Lake. The kids took off their shoes and waded in to the cool water throwing rocks and looking at the fish. There were people canoeing, sunbathing on the beaches, and a wedding too. After a hike around the lake we stopped at the general store and enjoyed some ice cream.

This was a really pretty area of the Black Hills. We will be visiting again.

September 04, 2012

MEDORA AND THEODORE ROOSEVELT NATIONAL PARK

For the long weekend, we packed up and hit the road. Our first stop was a place called Medora, ND. Medora is famous for several things. One is their Pitchfork Steak Fondue. Vegetarians, please look away.


Hundreds of rib eye steaks are skewered on to pitchforks and deep fried in oil. This isn't your fancy pants fondue. This is cowboy style. Ever wondered what deep fried steak tastes like? KFC. No joke. They must use the same oil.

The second thing Medora is know for is their musical. It's a family friendly western style musical that's been running for almost 50 years.


Oh, and let's not forget the Theodore Roosevelt National Park South entrance is in Medora too. There are huge fields of prairie dog towns, bison, and wild horses.


Davis and Tess were sure they would catch a p-dog, but those suckers were too quick. You could hear the prairie dogs frantically chirping to each other when they saw the kids approach.


We finished off Medora with some homemade ice cream and a pound of Jelly Belly's for the road. Pear and buttered popcorn are our favorites, but we tossed in some very cherry, and berry smoothie to round things out.


Medora is North Dakota's number 1 vacation spot. With that being said, if you are in the neighborhood, you must stop and have a visit.

Tomorrow I'm sharing the second half of our trip...