Sunday, August 21, 2016

Pico de Garza

My diligent little students continue to LOVE school! This last week they also started after school swimming lessons twice a week which has been fabulous. Audrey is officially a swimmer and is gaining confidence all the time. Reid also swims and is able to kick his legs and travel short distances in the pool. Redick is making great progress and will catch up in no time. He's a bit more of a perfectionist and I think he's taking his time learning the skills so that he will be able to swim well when he goes for it. They all have wonderful teachers and Mitchell and I are looking forward to our first parent teacher conferences this week. 

Right about the time we moved Redick's artistic ability began to explode! Right now some of his favorite activities are drawing Pokemon characters and coloring in the lines. He is very careful and loves the feeling of satisfaction when he takes his time and is proud of the result. 

This week was the 3rd anniversary of the founding of the Nicaragua office with the company Mitchell works for. Of course we had to celebrate! Most of the employees and their families were able to spend the day on Saturday at a resort called Pico de Garza. It was a fabulous time!

At the base of the volcano Mombacho is the city Granada. Granada was founded in 1524 making it the oldest city in Nicaragua and one of the first settlements in the Americas! We didn't spend any time looking around Granada this trip so I'll talk more about that in another post. We did, however, go straight to Lake Nicaragua. Lake Nicaragua is the largest lake in Central America, it even has fresh water sharks! Out in the lake off the coast of Granada are over 360 tiny islands that were formed as a result of a massive landslide off of Mombacho. Many of the islands are privately owned. Some are built as residences, resorts, stores, hotels and even a school! We boarded a small motor boat called a Lancha and headed for the island resort Pico de Garza.

Layne is learning the smile for the camera. I think he is just the cutest!

Aboard the Lancha!

This is half of our crew for the day.

On the Lancha! *Reid applied his sunscreen all by himself!*

It's hard to see (I was trying to take pictures while also making sure that my 3 curious little boys didn't fall overboard) but that mountain in the distance with clouds around it is Volcan Mombacho.

When we boarded the Lancha we were able to have a 1 hour tour of the islands. This blue building is a school for the kids who live on these islands! Our lancha captain lives on an island and his son rows himself to school and back every day! According to our guide this is the only school in the world on it's own island!

Ready for adventure!

Pico de Garza!

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We were greeted with a fresh coconut as we stepped on to the island. Coconuts are hollow in the center and grow filled with clean water that is naturally sweetened by the coconut meat. One coconut palm produces between 8-15 coconuts a month year round! They are abundant to say the least!

It was a really tiny island but there were plenty of places to explore!

The boat ride wore this sweet baby out! He took a 2 hour nap in this comfy hammock while we swam at the nearby pool. There were 4 pools at the resort!

Mitchell and the kids took kayaks out on the lake. 

This was our pavilion for the day. Lunch was catered by the resort and was delicious.

We stayed the perfect amount of time on the island! No one was ready to go and we all left feeling happy and excited about the adventures of the day! We can't wait to go back!

BIG NEWS!! On the boat ride back to the port Audrey lost her first tooth! She has been eagerly waiting for this day for several years since one of her best friends started losing teeth when they were in Joy School together. She was on cloud 9 singing and smiling and exploring the new hole in her smile all the way home!

Sunday, August 14, 2016


The biggest news of the week is that the big kids started school!! Let me tell you, we were all looking forward to school! Last Sunday evening Mitchell asked each of the kids if they were nervous to start school in a new place and not a one of them said yes. They are so ready for some more diverse social interaction (apparently they need more than just mom and baby brother) and they are really looking forward to improving their Spanish. After the first day I asked Redick and Reid what was their favorite part about school and they both, in unison, said "Everything was our favorite!" We all shared that excitement all week long! Don't they look so adorable in their uniforms?!

With the start of school we also implemented a little more organization and structure to this crazy tropical life. R&R get out of school at 11:45. When they get home they change clothes, eat lunch, clean their room and do one chore. When they finish all of that it's about time to pick up Audrey at 2:00. She has the same routine of change clothes, eat snack, clean room and do a chore. Once their responsibilities are complete they have earned activity time. Some of our afternoon fun activities include collecting Pokemon (yes we joined that bandwagon and we love it!), swimming, watching a movie, riding bikes/scooters outside, playing with friends etc. So far, so good on our routine! I even overheard R&R talking about a brilliant idea one of them had "How about we just keep our room clean all the time? Then we won't have to clean it!" 

Mitchell snapped this picture on the first day when we dropped her off! 

I made my first authentic Nicaraguan dish! It's called Piñón. Essentially, it's shepherd's pie within a sandwich of sauteed platanos and baked. It's going to be a regular staple, very tasty!

Of course, I've been making rice and beans all along. Layne is definitely a fan!

Friday was my birthday! It was a really lovely day! While the big kids were at school I got to talk on the phone with one of my very best friends then Layne took a 2 hour nap! I completely absolved myself of any other responsibilities I may have had and sat out on the covered patio enjoying the breeze as I read a good book on my Kindle. R&R helped me pick out a cheesecake at Costco and I even splurged on some delicious pre-marinated mahi mahi filets for an easy, no-prep dinner at home. When I walked in the door of Costco the bakery was just bringing out freshly baked hot cinnamon rolls! You know what that smells like! Yummmmmmm. I took it to be a sign that even the Costco bakers wanted to wish me a happy birthday! Who am I to throw a birthday gift back in their faces? We went home with a pan of those as well. When my sweet housekeeper Carla came, she and I enjoyed a warm cinnamon roll and chatted a bit before she cleaned the bathrooms and mopped the floor. I love her! Mitchell surprised me by showing up at home 2 hours early and when I told him how much I had enjoyed my quiet morning reading he took all of the kids to the pool and tucked me in bed with my book for a while. The evening ended with a heartfelt and so appreciated letter from another dear dear friend! I am so blessed!

In honor of my birthday I picked our family excursion for Saturday. We drove to Matagalpa to go for a hike. We were going to also tour a farm but we didn't get to that since we had so much fun on our hike! 

We arrived in Matagalpa and on the top of a tall hill was a large blue cross. Since this is definitely a Catholic country there are lots of religious statues and icons everywhere, especially on the top of tall hills! It caught our eye and we decided to try and drive to the top of the hill and check it out before we found a hike to take and hopefully see a waterfall. We just started driving uphill. Haha! No directions, we just always chose the road that went up! After a while we saw a guy on the side of the road and I asked him if we could drive to the cross and he said yes! He told us to keep going on that road and we would see a little house and we could ask the caretaker there. A little way up the road we saw a sign indicating that there was hiking, camping and a waterfall up ahead! We found the caretaker and he told us that we could hike to the cross and that there would be a waterfall on the way. Perfect! He said he thought the kids would be fine on the hike. So off we went!

It was a steep and difficult but absolutely GORGEOUS hike! We were solidly in rainforest and it was amazing to see the variety in plants. Many plants actually grew out of other plants! There were aloe vera plants literally rooted in the limbs of tall canopy trees and snake like cactuses draping all over the forest. The hike turned out to be harder, steeper, longer and much more difficult than we anticipated. In fact, on the way down Mitchell and I both agreed that had we done this hike alone first we would have definitely said it was too hard for the kids. This is the best part: the kids did AWESOME! Seriously. No whining, no crying, no asking to be carried, no wandering off the trail, no lagging behind....nothing but smiles, laughter and a huge sense of adventure! It was wonderfully impressive! It was a perfect day.

We live in a postcard! So beautiful!

The view of Matagalpa from the top of the hill.

Layne is mastering the art of the selfie.

This was a really beautiful place with a lovely statue of Mary.