On another note, I think I may have picked up an intestinal critter on our recent trip. It's an easy fix - just 2 pills. The tricky part is timing the walk to the pharmacy between frequent and urgent dashes to el baño. Wish me luck!
I've been playing doctor. I know. Bad idea. But last weekend I was so tired by noon I couldn't think straight. And it just wasn't working with the running around we were doing in Nicaragua. So I upped my thyroid meds without consulting with my doctor. I promised myself I would call him as soon as we got back, but, of course, I still haven't. It's not that I don't take my health seriously, but the guy is creepy. We're talkin oogy bedside manner, old-school practice, obviously grew up on the mission field kinda creepy. If you don't know what I mean, ask me later about the time he made me blow my nose and then proceeded to peer into the tissue full of snot as if he was reading my fortune, or the awkward encounter that included the phrase "Now, make sure your husband understands...he should not be spanking you.....just pounding you lightly." I'm not making this up! Creepy!!! I'm gonna have to call him though. I have been feeling better since I upped the dosage. But last night I couldn't fall sleep, so I think I may have overdone it. Oops. Guess I should leave tinkering with the delicate balance of my internal system to the professionals.
So we made it back from Nicaragua in one piece. It was our second trip there, but the first to the city of Grenada. It is the oldest city in the Continental Americas and absolutely beautiful, having been established and built by Spanish Conquistadors in the early 1500's. It still boasts some buildings that existed more than 400 years ago. Which I think is pretty cool. The trip itself was very memorable and one that I hope my kids will continue to appreciate as they study world history in the future. We'll see. There is one aspect of the trip that I've been thinking about a lot. I thought about it during the long bus ride back to Costa Rica as my two younger children scratched helplessly at a rash that was spreading along their torsos, and then again as I was running to the bathroom this morning. It goes something like this: We do things here, in Central America, that we would NEVER even consider in the states.....never ever ever. Here are a few examples:
A man approached us in the park, offering a "cheap tour" of the lake. "yew rilly gonna lub it.", he said. So, we hopped in his car and off we went.
A wild monkey jumped in our boat. So we fed it bananas of course. Played with it and touched it.
When we got back we were hungry so we bought food poured out on banana leaves from a lady with an ice chest and a big bowl covered in plastic wrap in the park. Then we ate it. (We also ate in a families restaurant/living room, and we ordered food from a one armed/3 fingered guy.)
My kids bought ice cream from a dude pushing a cart with bells on it.
We all walked around in a little cave of a room as dried bat poo crunched below our flipflops.
Cold showers. We had cold showers.
We ate food from street vendors at the steamy, dust covered frontera (the border), including fried chicken and platanos, homemade cheese and tortillas, and I had a torta and a cup of coffee ( which I believe may be the source of this mornings tummy troubles).
So, you see, times have changed for us. I can remember, not so long ago, scolding my kids for touching a dog on a leash without first consulting carefully with the owner, and the stern warning that we do not eat food offered by strangers....ever. And now here we are, sucking down whatever is slopped onto our plate by whichever toothless transient we find on the street. And, as far as animals are concerned, I guess the new message we're sending is "Hey, the more exotic the better - that's what immunizations are for!" I just hope the boys don't cross paths with a panther or a crocodile any time soon, since we have clearly done a terrible job of demonstrating that we should respect certain boundaries. I should mention here that the rash cleared right up. It was a heat rash....I think....
I know, it all sounds very irresponsible. But I would rather experience the world alongside them (while taking a few risks), than imagine it from the safety of home. To see pics of our walk on the wild side, click here. There are 2 albums. Enjoy.
I need a nap. Not like, I would enjoy a nap, or a nap sounds nice right about now, but like, I NEED a nap. My eyelids are droopy and my minds all in a fog and my body does not want to move another inch. Not one inch. And even though there are lunch dishes in the sink, and the younger boys are already home after an early release from school, and I have about 38 things that I really need to get done today - despite all that - I think I'm gonna lay down for 20 minutes. Because I am exhausted. I might make an appointment with the doctor to adjust my thyroid medication. I'm that tired. But I think the more likely culprit is the way in which things are done around here. I prefer to lay the blame for my ransacked life force squarely on the back of the retardedness in which we live. I think it makes me tired that I have to take a walk, a bus, a car, and sometimes a taxi in order to make it out to start English classes in "el precario" by 9:00am. Which means that to get to a place that is probably only like 5 miles from my house, I have to leave by 7:40. Ick.
And then there is the Spanish....*groan*.
I like that I am being forced to learn a new language. Really I do. But OH MY GOSH is it tiring! It just sucks the energy from me - leaving me useless, nearly catatonic, and occasionally drooling down the side of my face. Please pray that this would begin to improve for me. Steve has been working alongside Latinos for almost a year now. His Spanish is absolutely impressive (I'm both super proud and super jealous of him) and he seems to be past this exhaustion stage. That's what I want. I want to be like Steve. To have a full day of Spanish and come home in something more than a vegetative state. That would be really cool.
Well, since I spent 20 minutes writing a blog instead of taking a nap, I guess I'll have to make some coffee, smack myself around like one of the three stooges, and do a Flash Dance style running jag through the house. That should wake me up just enough to finish the laundry, play with the boys and throw dinner on the table before I pass out, utterly spent, at 8:15.
Okay then, here I go.....
We've enjoyed a quiet weekend at home. Really quiet. I'm talkin' 11 hours of TV, a board game, and 2/3rd's of a novel kinda quiet. As completely lame as that may seem - I liked it. We all liked it.
It wasn't that long ago that the notion of spending an entire weekend at home doing absolutely nothing worth a poop seemed like a figment of the imagination. Something that only happened in the books we hoped to read some day when we actually had time. It used to be that if we had only 3 major activities, such as a soccer game, a birthday party and a Cub Scout wiener roast, we felt like we got off easy. "Wow", we would say, "What a relaxing weekend!" And then, of course there were weekends that were really off the hook. The t-ball, wedding, pool party, youth event, award ceremony, prayer breakfast, visit the in-laws weekends. Weekends that left us so exhausted we couldn't wait to lay our heads down on Sunday night knowing that simple, predictable Monday was awaiting us.
The completely uneventful weekend has taken us a long time to get used to. Learning to enjoy and actually appreciate our boredom has been an unexpected challenge. Although much more so for Steve and I than for our kids, who, given the choice of vegging with Scooby Doo or running errands like a Grand Prix driver amped up on crank, will favor the world of Hanna Barbera every time. In the beginning this drove me nuts! "Why" I would screech "don't you want to join the world of the living?". "We NEED to get out of the house!" "It's not healthy to sit here and rot all day long doing nothing!" To which they would reply with a quick glance in my direction, eyebrows raised, mouths closed and immediately return their attention to whatever infomercial, anime marathon or lifetime movie they were watching. After much coaxing, cajoling, bribing, and in the end, a stern announcement from Steve that "anyone not ready to leave this house in the next 5 minute can say goodbye to their TV privileges for the rest of the week", they would scramble to their feet and be ready to hop in the car in record time. At which point someone would ask "Where are we going?"
See, we no longer have a long list of places to be each weekend. No one is awaiting our arrival, expecting our presence, or anticipating our participation. We don't have places to go and people to see. At least not usually. And for my kids, after a long, hard week of speaking Spanish, playing by the rules of another country, riding buses through the big city, practicing futbol, and generally getting by, nothing is exactly what they want to do. It was my sense of uselessness that forced them into the car for some pointless outing in the rain. My discontent at having nothing to do. And it took me about 6 months to finally get used to it.
Now I love it.
I love staying in my PJ's til noon, watching the news next to Steve with a cup of coffee in the morning. Letting the kids watch cartoons until they are so bored with them that they decide to draw or paint or read, to play cards with each other, or practice the guitar or do whatever. I like the silly conversations that happen when there is no agenda and no one is in a hurry. If we want to we can go somewhere - walk to the farmers market, go to the mall, play basketball down the street - but only if we want to.
I think I am beginning to understand the idea behind the Sabbath. The idea that, when you work as hard as my kids do all week long, it's okay - and even beneficial - to just take it easy at the end of that week. To sit around and enjoy each other, and to look back on that week (as God did his creation) and say "Whew, that was a lot of work. I think I'm gonna chill now." In fact, I feel a bit more challenged to make my weekdays count. To make them full and exhausting and rewarding so that when I relax with my boys on the weekends, I will know that I worked as hard as they did, and that my day of rest - laying around, watching TV, reading a mindless novel - will also be a day of reflection on a week well lived. Praise God for simple pleasures and kids that teach their parents how to enjoy them.
Costa Rica is making me a better cook. I sorta liked to cook before we came, but the limited choices and outlandish prices here have forced me to turn it up a notch in the kitchen. Haha, get it? Okay, anyway, It also seems that without a ready supply of cheap eats (there are evenings that I long for Papa Murphy's like a spurned and jilted lover) and in the absence of stuffed and frozen tortellini, the days of the 5 minute meal are over. Now, I have to say, I've never had an interest in becoming the next Betty Crocker. And I've rejected the notion that all Moms have to make scrap-books and do crafts in order to fulfill their title. Truthfully, I'd rather drink a Margarita than make one. But here, if I want a Margarita, it's gonna start with a handful of fresh squeezed limes, a warm and drizzly simple syrup, and a dash of orange juice. In other word, If I don't make it happen, it ain't gonna happen. Here are some examples of what seems to be a culinary transformation that has taken place over the past year:
Before/Folsom, CA After/San Pablo de Heredia
Papa Murphy's combo Homemade risen crust, hand cut veggies, cooked&crumbled bacon, sliced ham, and maybe some freshly roasted red peppers
Grilled Cheese & Campbels Tomato soup Fresh Basil/Tomato soup, made from a roux base with fresh garlic, torn basil, hand grated parmesan cheese, and stewed tomoatoes (the grilled cheese is the same, but it cost more here)
Bottled Salad Dressing Carefully measured blends of herbs and spices, stored in ziplock baggies with instructions for adding oil, vinegar, cream, or buttermilk written clearly in sharpie.
Breakfast Sausage Ground pork, rosemary, fennel, salt, pepper, brown sugar, crushed red pepper, garlic. *this one's still waiting in the freezer, but it's day is approaching quickly
So, you get my drift. I still want yummy food and I can't afford to buy it here. Or, it doesn't exist here. Either way, I have found that with a little ingenuity and a lot of goopy, egg covered, flour sprinkled, oil spattered elbow grease we can still enjoy sitting down together at the end of our day with a hot meal that we LOVE. Don't misunderstand - we still have "breakfast for dinner" nights on those occasions when I just don't have it in me to whip up a cheesy alfredo sauce or can't stand the thought of chopping a pile of onions or washing a million dishes. And we still head for MCD's when we're so hungry we can't think. But, overall, I think we eat better than we did in the states. Fresher, simpler, yummier food.
Today, I made pumpkin bread - from a pumpkin! I kid you not! The boys and I chopped up their Halloween Jack-o-Lanterns, baked them, scooped out the flesh, and pureed it into a disgusting, baby food like substance. This morning, I baked 2 loaves of pumpkin bread with ribbon of sweet cream cheese flowing through the center. The house smelled AMAZING! And, oh my Gosh, did it feel like fall for the first time in more than a year!!!
But wait - Before you start to imagine me bent over the stove in an apron with my hair braided into a bun, madly stirring some concoction to perfection, remember - I fully endorse fast-food, frozen food, and generally pre-prepared junk. Which, should I ever return to live in the US, I will fully embrace once again. But, from this point forward, when I put a home cooked meal on the table, it's gonna be quality. Just call me Suzie Freaking Homemaker!