We spent Thanksgiving in Costa Rica with some friends and also part of the time with some of my family.
The first four days we rented a house in Manuel Antonio. It was perfect with 4 kids in tow. And the best part was that we hired the women that takes care of the house to cook all our meals for us. Best decision ever.
The woman that cooked for us also watched the kids so we could go out one night. A true vacation!
We spent most of the days on the beach, the kids played so well in the sand.
Its not a day at the beach in Costa Rica without copos!
The house we rented had a wonderful pool nestled in the forest.
Our one group shot. As good as its gonna get.
We spent the second half of the week in Cartago. We visited the local volcano.
On Thanksgiving we woke up at 4:30am, left the kids behind and then went on a crazy 6 hour hike in the rainforest and hoping not to run into escaped convicts (apparently 6 men had just escaped the local prison and had been spotted in that rainforest). Also, it rained the entire time. But it was so much fun and we got to see two waterfalls.
After hiking we were treated to an incredible Asian feast. Our Costa Rican Thanksgiving dinner.
We hung out in Cartago a few more days, going fishing, and having a party at Journey A before heading home.
Maybe we should spend all our holidays in Costa Rica. Whose coming next time??
This year I decided that I wanted to read more. I waste most of my free time browsing the internet or watching something stupid on tv. And I really love a good novel. I didn’t set a specific goal, I just wanted to be more conscious of how I was using any free time I had. And I think it worked. Once I started reading some good books I just didn’t want to stop. I finished 32 books and am in the middle of 4 others. It did help that I made three transcontinental flights, amongst many other flights, this year. Below is my list:
Josh’s parents came out for a visit at the beginning of November. They came to meet Laia, but also sightsee as they had never been to California. It was a lot of fun to show them around and for them to see our lives and where we live.
Adelaide had Grandad looking for mermaids in the water with her. They were both calling for Ariel.
A windy family photo.
We visited train town in Sonoma for the first time. The kids loved it. We were all impressed.
Come back soon!!
For Halloween this year Adelaide wanted to be a mermaid. And specifically this mermaid. She asked to look at pictures of halloween costumes on the computer and this is the one she decided on. I ended up making something similar but with fabric. I wasa afraid all the paper products would rip and be destroyed instantly. I also just used shells we had on hand rather than trying to find starfish. She seemed very happy with the final outcome.
For Laia, I pulled out one of A’s old costumes. I had made the bird costume for her second Halloween when she was around 16 months old and it fit Laia great. I re-made the accessories since those did not hold up from the first time around. They are both pretty adorable.
We went to a few different events. Our town has a Halloween parade and downtown trick or treating the girls went to with Josh. And our friends invited us to their church’s trunk or treat. A loved their princess themed trunk (above).
And on Halloween night we went to a neighborhood party and we went trick or treating around the neighborhood with friends. A and her friend Jo held hands the entire time. Knocking on doors and getting candy is a pretty amazing concept when you are a little kid. A loved it!
And just cause I couldn’t help myself, here are each of the girls in the bird costume.
Laia turned two on October 11th, just a few weeks after we brought her home. Because we had just gotten home with her we had a very low key celebration at home with a couple gifts and cupcakes. I make her a flower crown that she happily wore most the day and I snapped some photos while we played outside.
At this point, Laia was not letting Adelaide near her and would scream if she tried to touch her so both Adelaide and I were were so surprised when she reached over and hugged her voluntarily while I was taking pictures. Im so glad that I was able to capture the moment and it has given me such hope for their relationship to develop.
Laia completely refused to sit in her chair and eat her birthday cupcake. We tried several times and she screamed and seemed so freaked out so we gave up and let her open presents instead resolving that we would sadly just skip the cupcake pictures until we realized she was freaked out cause I had taken the cover off the high chair making it unfamiliar. Once we put the cover back on she was happy to sit and eat her cupcake.
Happiest of birthdays to our sweet two year old!
A glimpse into the first few months home with Laia. The transition was a bit harder and longer than expected but overall has gone so well. For some reason I thought I would be back in the swing of things after the first month but it has taken 3 months for us to feel ready to start normal life routines again. Its been good for all of us to grow together as a family.
First day home. Adelaide was that back yet so Laia had free rain of all the toys. She pushed that little stroller around for hours.
First meal sitting in a high chair. So thankful for high chairs!
Making friends with our first visitors.
Adelaide came home a couple days after we had gotten back. Laia was very skeptical and not too thrilled by her arrival. It has taken her quite awhile but she is starting to play and interact with Adelaide and I know they will one day be the best of friends. I just have to be patient.
Adelaide on the other hand was thrilled to finally have her new sister at home. There have been ups and downs but overall Adelaide loves being a big sister and trying to shower Laia with lots of hugs and kisses.
Our first family outing to the pumpkin patch.
Our first visit to the park with friends.
I didnt make my first grocery store run solo with these two until almost 4 weeks after we got home. That was entirely do to all our wonderful friends who brought us meals. It was such a huge blessing to our family during our time of transition.
See, best friends in the making. Okay, really these kids will endure anything to be able to watch a show.
Its already a new year. I am going to try and catch up on the last few months. I want to try and remember these days as they and not always be so far behind in capturing these memories. The last two months have been full. Exhausting, and hard, but exciting. I am finally feeling settled with Laia. We are finding our groove. She is such a joy and full of laughter. And its wonderful to watch her find her place and begin to shine. We have been so happy to welcome her home and cant wait to witness all the growth that will come in 2014.
After 4 days in Zanzibar, we headed back to Dar Es Salaam, straight to the embassy to pick up Laia’s passport, and then flew home the next day.
Back at the hotel in Dar Es Salaam this was our celebration dinner with visa in hand and plane tickets to head home the next day. What a wonderful feeling!!
I was so ready and happy to be heading home.
Our last glimpse of Tanzania from the air.
We had no idea how Laia would do on the plane, and judging by how the week had gone, we were prepping for the worst. She shocked us and did incredibly well on both flights. She was fascinated with all the buttons and tv screens and loved the headphones. She was calm, made lots of friends, slept some, didnt scream at all, and only cried a few times.
And after 21 hours of flying we made it home. Just like that. A family of 4.
The ocean in Zanzibar was incredible. We arrived in the afternoon and went down to catch a glimpse around 3pm and saw a beautiful ocean with waves crashing at our feet. To be expected.
The next morning we got up and headed down to the water around 10am and were shocked. It was low tide and the waves were crashing about a mile from shore. I have never witnessed such drastic tides.
The same boats from above.
Because the tide was so low, you could walk a mile out and basically see life at the bottom of the ocean. As exhausting as it was carrying Laia two miles in the hot sun, it was one of the most incredible experiences.
On the left is a clown fish in a pool of water a foot deep. It had three baby clown fish about the size of my pinky fingernail with it. The cutest! And on the right is Josh holding a stone fish.
A sea urchin. We saw about 6 different kinds.
Taking a break in a little pool.
You can see how far away from shore we are.
A gathering of starfish.
Two of my favorites.
Local women would spend the morning out in the ocean gathering seaweed and creating these seaweed farms. They use the seaweed for making lotions and other things I dont remember, as well as eating it.
They were working and singing all morning and then as the tide came back in they would head back to shore.
Such an incredible experience. There was a reef near to where the waves were breaking where they said you could see many other fish and large octopus. I ran out of energy and we never made it back out there. We will have to go back again sans kids or at lease when Laia will let Josh carry her too.
After 4 days in Dar Es Salaam, and a successful visa interview at the US Embassy, we headed to Zanzibar for a change of scenery while we waited for the printed visa from the embassy. I was so happy to leave that hotel room in Dar Es Salaam and all the stares and questions from the people there (since our child was screaming the whole time we were there), even if it just meant we were going to a new hotel room and more stares.
We rode on a teeny tiny plane to get there.
Each day in Zanzibar was easier and easier with Laia. She still screamed often and threw big fits, would only eat sitting on my lap, and did not sleep very well but we were all getting more used to each other and she was starting to walk around and play more and more.
This girl loved taking over the whole bed. Josh and I ended up squished together at the edge by morning:)
We stayed at Diamonds Dream of Zanzibar and it was great. The hotel was very nice, the grounds were beautiful, and the ocean was just incredible.
Laia loved playing in the sand and water.
And I loved the view.
One afternoon after I got Laia to sleep and managed to shift her off of me and onto the bed and she stayed asleep, I snuck down to the pool, got a nutella crepe, passionfruit mojito and read for an hour. It was wonderful.
Josh’s view the whole trip. Laia was comfortable with me immediately but wouldn’t have anything to do with Josh, she did not want him close to her and would not let him touch her. Throughout the week she slowly warmed up to him and would play with him a little, let him change her diaper a few times, would sit next to him and hold his hand but still wouldn’t let him hold her. So I carried her.
By the time we left Zanzibar, I felt a bit more rested, not so overwhelmed, and more hopeful as we headed towards home. I really just wanted to get home. Thankfully they had the visa ready a few days early so we were able to head back a bit sooner than expected.