Friday, November 30, 2007


Okay, here's the thing. I've been trying to find time to blog, but this week has been a write off. I finally decided to sit my butt down in a chair with my laptop and type until something came to mind. I really should be cleaning my house (we have company coming tonight) but I've been putting it off. No surprise there. So, instead of a well, or semi-well, thought out post, you're getting the crazy thoughts that pop into my head. Let's see.....

*Yesterday, my husband came home from work at 8:00 a.m. just to start my van for me. Isn't that sweet? He knew I was busy trying to get all three kids out the door, so he drove all the way across town to warm up my vehicle. And he stopped by Tim Hortons on the way and brought me a coffee and breakfast sandwich. I have never felt so loved.

*I'm leading some carol singing at our church banquet tonight. I haven't sung in a month and I'm woefully out of practice. Simon Cowell would laugh me off the stage. Oh, wait. He doesn't laugh.

*Connor's important questions:
Mom, what's Santa's other name?
Mom, do you feel like you're losing your mind?
Mom, how do you know everything?

*My son is special. I know every parent says that, but I can say it with a certain assurance that he is one-of-a-kind. I'm sure the teacher has never before seen anyone like him. He's intense. When he focuses on something, it's 100%. And he's obsessed with superheroes. Obsessed. He actually brought home an empty Kleenex box from school the other day because it had a picture of Venom on it. I can only imagine the conversation that took place:

"Teacher, that Kleenex box has venom on it!"
"Yes, Connor, I know."
"Wow." A pause. "I wish I had a box like that."
"It's just a Kleenex box."
"What are you going to do with it?"

"We're going to use the Kleenexes."
"Yeah, but what about when all the Kleenexes are gone?"
"I'm going to put it in the recycle bin."
"What's 'recycle' mean."
"It's where you put all your cardboard and plastic containers into a box so they can be taken to a place where they're made into new things. It helps save the environment."
"Oh. Well, I could use that box."
"But I need the Kleenexes."
"I mean after they're gone. I could take that box home and use it."
"Connor, I don't think you need-"
"But it's cool. It has Venom on it."
"I know, but I don't think your mom-"
"She won't mind. She knows I like superheroes."

A puzzled expression. A sigh. "Oh, alright."

*The thing that makes me feel most child-like is my love of candy rockets. Those yummy, circular candies that come packaged in rows and wrapped in plastic. They come out in mass quantities around Halloween. I'm hopelessly addicted.

*My hair is at that stage. Too short to do much with, too long to style properly. Ugh. I'm feeling shaggy and, to use Becky's word, frumpy.

Well, that's it. The house cleaning is calling my name. Or rather, Chad is calling my name and asking me what needs to be done. So I better go clear a path to the spare bed so my company has a place to sleep.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A or B

I am convinced that parenting is the biggest game of Multiple Choice you will ever play.

Experts tell you to give your children choices as they grow so they can begin to experience some independence and learn to make their own decisions. They say limit their choices to within your parameters so you can remain in control while giving them a sense of freedom.

That's all fine and dandy, but sometimes I feel like my days are completely made up of A+B=C equations. For example:

  • Me: Benen you can either sleep in your pajamas or your underwear and shirt. It's your choice. Either pick out some pajamas or sleep in your shirt and underwear.

    Benen: Ummm.....I wanna sleep naked.

  • Chad: Benen, these are your choices. You can have an apple, a banana or nothing. What do you want?

    Benen: Alright. I'll have a pear.

You see the problem? I give them choices. I set the boundaries. They keep thinking outside the box.

I keep getting suckered.

But they make me smile. Benen, while standing at the bathroom sink - "Get ready for the awesome power of Benen!"

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Holiday, Part 3

I'm hoping to wrap up the retelling of our adventures with this final post. Since "a picture is worth a thousand words," I'm going to pack in as many photos as I can. There was just so much that we saw and did and it was all so exciting. Also, you can make the pictures bigger by clicking on them, if you so desire.

We spent part of a day driving down the Caribbean coast checking out the beaches and little towns along the way. This picture is of Punta Uva which is considered one of the prettiest beaches in Costa Rica.

During one of our afternoons, we took a boat ride out to an island that's just off the coast of Limon. It's a National Park reserve and, with the exception of the Park Ranger, is un-inhabited. The island is made almost entirely of coral.

However, we did not pick the nicest, calmest day for the trip, nor do I believe we picked the most reputable captain. Don't get me wrong, the guy seemed nice enough, but there were no life jackets. Not even a life preserver or round, white flotation ring. Nothing. Nada. Zip. It was during this boat ride that the meaning of the phrase "hysterical female" became crystal clear.

My cousin and I, who had chosen to ride in the very front because 'it's just more adventurous', could not stop laughing. We giggled the entire boat ride from the minute we hit open ocean. The waves were HUGE, but our terror was bigger. Anyone who has seen the movies The Guardian and Perfect Storm, will understand the massive swells our tiny boat was tossing on. There were moments my rear end - MY rear end - actually left the seat while we took a free fall to the bottom of the wave. It was a laugh-or-cry moment. The hysterics took over. I was never so glad to reach terra firma.

However, the island was beautiful, the waves crashing on the rocks, majestic. It's something I'll never forget. 'Course, I had to endure the trip back which included a slow, torturous, tour-by-boat around the island before heading for safer, calmer waters. Here are some of the pictures from the island.

The day we were leaving Sara and Chris's, it poured. I'm talking monsoon-type rains. This is a picture of the area directly below their house. (The houses are built on stilts because of the amount of rain they get.) About thirty minutes before I took this picture, the entire ground was under rushing water. There was a river running through the yard, right up to the saw mill.

I was greatly concerned about getting me and my luggage safely to the truck. One of the workers thoughtfully constructed a path of wood from the house to relatively dry land. I made it halfway, at which point the blonde in me took over.

I didn't notice the rest of the path. Uncertain of where to go next, I took in my limited options (not seeing the curve in the path) and stepped off onto what I thought was soggy, but solid, ground. I was wrong. I sunk TO MY KNEES in mucky, gritty, sludge...and started to fall. I put the other foot down and staggered a step forward before coming to a quick stop and, with it, the shocking realization that I had left my sandal behind. A foot-and-a-half deep in sludge.

Cinderella I am not. I did not handle my single shoe-ness with the same fleeing grace. I let out a frustrated yell that, not only shocked the workers, but gave them a great amount of amusement and entertainment.

We managed to get on our way and headed to Arenal, the volcano. We arrived later that afternoon and decided to hit the hot springs. In protest of their outrageously high prices, we decided to climb down the slope to the bridge where the river and springs run. The rivers are considered public property and are open for use to any who wish to venture there. You cannot, however trespass on the grounds and pools that are nearby. A high-priced hotel bought the small operation and shut it down in hopes of forcing tourists to pay their steeper prices.

Sara and I changed into our swimsuits in the truck - no easy feat for me - while the guys took off down the path to the hot springs. We followed, but with dark pressing in, we couldn't see them. We did, however, spot the guard and, in fear, we retreated. Unsure of where to go, we tried squeezing through the small opening between the chained gate and the barbwire fence.

Sara made it no problem, but it was soon apparent that not even half of me would fit. I called for her to come back and she began to wiggle her way through the narrow opening. The sound of footsteps and radio static drew nearer and we could see the approaching beam of a flashlight. We started to panic, me hissing "hurry" and Sara wiggling faster. She got stuck. Her swim suit caught on the rebar.

Hyperventilation set in. A few more wiggles and she sprung loose. We raced for the bushes where we hid out until the guard had passed and our breathing returned to normal. Then we burst into giggles. It was those nerves again. After we managed to get ourselves into some semblance of order, we decided to try the path one more time. And lo and behold the guys appeared and led us down the slope to the hot springs where we were able to relax and wash away the remaining adrenaline in the soothing, rushing warmth of the water.

We scaled the slope in pitch blackness, got back to the truck and found a hotel for the night where we cleaned up before going out for supper to celebrate Sara's birthday.

The next morning we drove to see the volcano and Lake Arenal. Beneath Lake Arenal is an entire city. The government wanted to create a dam and decided to build it there and flood the town. The people were paid to relocate and below the calm surface is an entire city. I find it a little creepy to think there's a ghost town down there.

This little guy scurried out of the bushes at the sound of the truck and confidently crossed the road and approached the vehicle. Obviously he's well fed by tourists.

Here are some pictures as we drove through the mountains to the pacific coast.

And here are some pictures of the resort where we stayed. I took these while sitting in a lounger by the pool. Oh. So. Nice.

Our room was in a building a short walk from the pool. We passed this fountain and pond on the way.

And here's the local wildlife that lives near that pond.

A herd (?) of monkeys, about thirty of them, were crossing through the trees and palm leaves right outside our room.

The resort also had a bird enclosure, butterfly farm and snake...thingy, that we visited. The snake picture was for my husband. It gives me the heebie-jeebies, but he thinks it's cool. The big white lump on its head is a tick. How gross is that?!

This is one of my favorite pictures. This little guy was hanging out above the bird enclosure. He was just chillin' while he watched all the tourists below.

And last, but not least, these were our furry friends that liked to join us, either in the restaurant for lunch or at night around the pool for a snack.

And that pretty much sums up our trip. We had a very interesting flight back and two days after arriving home I was out shoveling the snow off my van.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Holiday, Part 2

I was finally able to get some pictures to upload. What a process. Anyways, we stopped in Limon at this hotel restaurant for lunch. Here is the view from our table. It was wonderful to sit out under the leaf/grass roof on the balcony and see the ocean below you. And about ten steps away was a beautiful white sand beach.

We arrived at Sara and Chris's place in the afternoon and decided to go for a swim in the river on their farm. The water was cool/warm and refreshing. It started to pour rain while we were swimming, but it was a warm rain.

We visited this little bar that's right on the ocean. These people run the bar from their home and just casually open for anyone who shows up. It was an awesome way to spend a relaxing evening. Here are some pictures of the place.

This little guy lived in the ceiling. The crab was caught by the guy fishing.

Ahhh, this is the life. Bliss. Peace. Heaven.

The following day we took a hike through the rain forest that is Chris and Sara's land. They are in the lumber business and own lots of jungle. Here is some of what we saw.

Oops, that was a tiny lie. When I say 'hike' I mean Sara and I rode the horses while the guys hoofed it on foot.

This is the Lookout and the view from up there.

These are pictures of a frog mid-jump and finally, after many attempts, holding still.

This red frog is poisonous.

Yup, that's right. Spiders. The one on top is called something like 'Golden Web Spider' because its web has a gold shine instead of silver. The one on the bottom is just another spider. And that's Chris's arm that it's on. It actually crawled all the way up to his neck. *shudder*

Sara and I are standing on a vine that wraps around a massive tree. We climbed up on the vine because, well, it's just awesome. The thing is HUGE! Okay, honestly? I wanted to feel like Tarzan from the Disney movie...without the loin cloth of course.

This is a hollow tree. From the front it looks completely normal, but from behind you can see it's completely hollowed out, right up to the top and right down into the ground. And those black dots you see on the inside are bats. Bats! I'd like to say I took the picture myself, but the truth is I wouldn't get close enough. I had no desire to fall down that hole and have my own "Batman Begins" experience, thank you very much.

And finally, we came to a stream where we tied up the horses. We followed its winding path which led us to this oasis. It's a tiny waterfall and swimming hole. The day had been HOT and it was so refreshing to jump in. Okay, ease in is more accurate. The water was cool at first, but perfect once the heat of the day was washed away.

I have so much more to share - swimming in the ocean, beautiful beaches, monkeys, volcanoes, the resort - but I think this is enough for one post. Blogger is still being difficult and it has taken me hours to get these photos up. And I'm beginning to feel like one of those people who pulls out all their pictures and then proceeds to bore you with the details. So I'm gonna take this in steps; a little today, a little tomorrow.

One other thing. We ate at some of the coolest little restaurants and I got to try some great new food. But I have no pictures of that. When I asked the others if they would care if I took pictures of my food, I was met with strange looks all around. My husband stared at me like he couldn't believe what he just heard and I began to feel like some of the native wildlife being gawked at.

But enough for now. Until next time!