Feeds:
Posts
Comments

THE LAST POST

In less than a week, our Costa Rican Adventure ends and our life in the States begin.  Therefore, this will be the last post on our year-long adventure.

In the dictionary, Sabbatical means “a rest from work, or a hiatus, often lasting from two months to a year”.  We are finishing up our “SABBATICAL OF LIFE” and 11 months was a perfect amount of time.

Before we left for Costa Rica, life got tedious, repetitive and a bit boring.  When the finance business took a turn a few years ago, we knew there was more to life than making money.  We were ready for the search of a much simplier life.  We wanted to be without and go without all of our “stuff”, just to see what life would bring and what opportunities would arise.  We got more out of this journey than we could have ever prayed for:  clarity about ourselves, our family, and what we want out of life.

Being in this country, there are so many things we’ve wanted, and either 1) didn’t have access to them, or 2) they cost a fortune to get.  Some examples are brands of food (i.e. Heinz Ketchup), car parts (that we have brought from the States), sheets for beds (you have to have shipped from another city), and the list goes on.   One specific example is Billy wanting to pick up the phone and call his clients, and can’t.  To make a call, he has to first make sure the internet is working.  Then he re-boots the computer, grabs his headset, and calls through the computer.  It gets the job done, but the call is never 100% clear, and 1/2 of the time the call drops.  As you can imagine, the people on the other end get very frustrated.   For this reason alone, Billy is so excited to get back, talk on a cell or landline phone, meet clients face to face, and work his tail off.

Billy’s experiences with the telephone and his burning desire to work, reminds me alot of Colt McCoy’s childhood football story:  going without, creates the urge to want it even more.  Long story short, Colt’s daddy was a High School Football Coach, and did not allow Colt to play organized sports until he was in 7th grade.  Even though Colt wanted to play football before then, his dad wanted him to have the drive, the fire and the will to want to play.  He didn’t want him to get burnt out early, and not enjoy the game.  When Colt stepped on that football field in 7th grade, he had that burning desire to play football.  He was beyond ready, and the passion showed.  I love that story, and understand it 100%.  We are living it.

As for me, I’m pumped about the little things in life I sooooo took for granted.  I’m excited to go grocery shopping at HEB, buy HUGE pots to cook in (my kids eat more than ever), use an electric mixer, buy all the ingredients I can ever imagine, and travel as much as we can.  I cannot believe all of the wonderful places in Austin and surrounding areas that we haven’t seen or even knew about.  In a way, I feel like our life is just beginning, on a whole new level.  I love it!

The kids are really excited to get back, but always talk about what they will miss here.  They are full of statements like, “Let’s go to the beach everyday until we leave”, “Let’s talk Spanish like crazy so we don’t forget it”, and “We better love this old car because we’ll never have one again”.  Little do they know about the old car thing.  They will have one again………..very soon.  😮

We didn’t move back to Manuel Antonio.  After thinking it through for weeks, we felt it was better to stay in Nosara for the month of May, then head back to Texas.  We are so glad we did!  This past month has been a great time to reflect, relax, and prepare ourselves for the big move.  Here are a few things May brought us here in Nosara:

Friends –  We’ve gotten to know our friends better, had a few more weekends at church, and attended some fun events.  Our sweet neighbor owns a private school, HSBA Academy, and organized a Carnival to raise money for the public school located 1/2 mile from her school.  All of the money went towards a computer lab for Escuela de la Esperanza (my kids’ school).  A school helping another school……amazing!  It was tons of fun and a great turnout.  Other friends had car problems, and with Billy being a mechanic, he was happy to help.  Through that experience, we had the pleasure of spending more time with them, and growing that friendship.  A sweet, sweet family.  The list goes on…………

Work — Billy bought really good headphones to use through the computer, so that’s been a huge plus.  But, he is ready to get back and hammer it hard!

School – We pulled the kids out of public school at the end of April, and I’ve been homeschooling them.  I wanted to make sure they are on track for their grades next year, and are not behind an any subject.  They’ve shown me that they’ll be just fine!

A Safe Home — I’m not sure how you describe this one.  The short of it — my family loves these 2 boys, ages 9 and 11 years old.  They were my kiddos first friends here in Nosara.  They are good boys and have alot of potential to succeed.  They need lots of love, support and trust.  One of our huge-hearted friends is close to the family and agrees 100%.  We worked out a deal:  the kids will work for her doing chores around the house, in exchange for money to buy passports.  Once the passports are in their hands, she’ll let me know, and Billy and I will buy their plane tickets to Austin.  Each will live with us and attend school for 6 months at a time, separately.  They will not come together.  Since we’ve presented this opportunity to them, they have been so happy, wanting to work, and even surprised me with cleaning the dishes after breakfast yesterday morning.  I love the light in their eyes, ready for a bigger picture of life.  I pray they work hard, apply for the passport, and get on that plane!  How wonderful for us……….and for them.

With less than a week left, our feelings and emotions are constantly changing.  But one thing stays the same, our happiness, gratitude, and thankfulness that God allowed us to take this “SABBATICAL OF LIFE”.  People ask, “Now that the adventure is over, what would you have done differently?”  The answer, “Not a dang thing”!

I can’t say it enough, but THANK YOU for all of your support!  We are better people because of our family and friends, and the support y’all have given us along the way.  Thanks for hanging in there during our “frozen” and dropped Skype calls, and for us not returning emails and/or calls in a timely manner.  We love you and can’t wait to see you all!  And to our Costa Rican friends, thanks for making our adventure even better!  There is a special bond with people you meet in another country.  God is awesome to put you in our path of life!  We’ll see you again one day soon and we THANK YOU for your friendship.  We have memories to last a lifetime.

Get ready Texas, we are hungry for some UT Football and good ole’ Texas BBQ!!

Pictures of our last month here:

Pura Vida!

Tiffany

At a Crossroad

Let me start by introducing our new pet parrot, Tica.  A worker found a nest in a tree by his house and asked the kids if they would like a parrot.  Of course, they begged Billy and I, in which we said “Yes, but only while here in Costa Rica.  He is NOT making the trek back to Texas”.  We’ll see what happens.  She’s been a good lil’ bird and loads of fun for the kiddos.  They made her a cage out of a 2 gallon water jug and a stick.  Super creative and cute!

  

A couple of weeks ago, we made our 90-day passport exit to Nicaragua.  After blowing all of our budgeted money for the 3-days in only 1 day, we headed back.  I hope we don’t have a problem during our next exit trip!  We heard Nicaragua was super cheap, so tightly budgeted $350.  What everyone forgot to elaborate on, was ONCE you get there, it’s super cheap.  NOT the traveling by bus, another bus, taxi, and 45-minute ferry for 6 people.  Oh yeah, and the $78 entrance fee at the border.  We stayed in a dirty, super plain $20 hostel for the night, in which the kids saw the room and said, “Mom, are we really staying here?”.  It ended up to be just fine, and the island was cool to ferry up to, with the sights of 2 volcanoes.  I will say, we were super happy to get back to the Costa Rican side.  The little things in life to look forward to. 

            

Throughout our lives, we come to crossroads, and have to choose which path to take.  Over the past few weeks, we have been staring at the crossroad of moving back to the States or staying in Costa Rica for 6 more months, and still — NO DECISION.  We have had other pressing issues and decisions to make, so aren’t too stressed, but know we have to figure it out soon.  We will weigh the pros and cons, pray for clarity, then put it in God’s hands.  In all reality, I can’t think of a better crossroad to be staring at!   Just curious which path we’ll be on.

The Devil won and The Toomeys are leaving Nosara.  On April 30th, we plan to move back to Manuel Antonio.  A hard decision to make, but necessary.  Billy needs better means of communication for work.  A couple of weeks ago, he drove back to Manuel Antonio to get the rest of our luggage, and realized that’s where we need to be.  He got more accomplished in 2 days, than weeks of being here.  Enough said.

With only 10 more days until the move, the mood is pretty sad.  The kids like school, I like the small community, and we’ve met some really good people.  Friends, acquaintances, neighbors……………….good people, doing GREAT things!   There’s an organization I’ve been lucky to be around, that hits home to my heart:  Surfing Nosara Foundation.  They have events and benefits to raise money for the local public schools.  Just since we’ve been here, I’ve seen them drop off P.E. equipment – sports balls – school supplies – art supplies to Nosara schools, donate clothes – shoes – toys to a small community, and turn my kids’ school water from dirty well water to drinking water .  The water was a huge accomplishment!  Just in time for our departure, since Billy and I were filling up 5-gallon water jugs and dropping them off at the school everyday so the students had a drink for lunch.  Not only are the people behind the foundation good-hearted people, but they are full of love, support and determination to make Nosara a better place.  They start what they finish, and follow through, which is KEY!  I was excited to stick around and be more of help to the Foundation, but instead, I will pray for their success and always be a supporter.  

As for volunteering at the school, I will miss Juanita, our daily talks, her work ethic, and her love for the kids.  She often gets skipped on the payroll because of the lack of school funds (or bad budgeting), but is there everyday, ready to cook and serve the students without complaints.  The last few days of every month, the propane runs out on the stove, so she starts a campfire out back of the school, and cooks lunch for all 106 students.  Amazing.  Juanita has taught me so much about determination, commitment, friendship and hard work.  I will miss her.

The kids have expressed sadness in leaving their school behind.  They look forward to waking up at 6:00 am, getting on their uniforms, eating breakfast, and arriving to school by 7:00 am.  I planned on homeschooling in conjunction with their local schooling, but plans changed.  They read English books and write in their journals, but most of their schooling at home is spent completing their Spanish homework and studying for tests.  The 2 weeks of solid testing was crazy for us Toomeys!  The process was this:  1) Translate the books to english  2)  I learn the material then teach the kids in english 3) We learn the material in spanish 4) Kids memorize questions in spanish for their tests.  After many hours of studying for 9 tests, combined, the kids got 8 A’s and 1 B, and all the highest grades in their class.  My kids were very proud of themselves, and rightfully so.  The teachers were impressed, too. 

One lesson I’ve been subjected to while living in this little town, is the creativity of life.  And how creativity creates happiness, then fulfillment.  As money has been harder to make (with the communication issues), our creativity has been put to the test, and in return, many more experiences to be had and memories to be made.  For example, mango trees are huge and abundant here, producing many mangos.  As we pass a tree, and see tons of ripe mangos newly fallen on the ground, the kiddos will jump out and collect them.  At home, we find yummy ways to cook them:  mango jelly, mango pie, mango guacamole, mango smoothies, or by itself for a snack.   Another example is using our money wisely.  Instead of going out to dinner and spending $40 at a restaurant, we pick up $10 in groceries, head to the beach for sunset, and cook our food over a beach campfire.  We can do this 4 nights a week, rather than go to a restaurant once a week.  A few hours on the beach, many pictures and lots of laughs later, but most of all……..working together and spending time as a family.  Just like we tell our kids, “We are a family for life.  Many people will come and go throughout the years, but we need to be the glue that holds our family unit together.  We need to respect and love one another.  Trust and depend on eachother.  Be the best you can be, and we’ll all be just fine.” 

Not sure where we’ll be in a few months, but we’ll be together and living life.  What an amazing ride we’ve had as a family, as a married couple and as kids.  Thanks for reading about our year-long journey, and for your wonderful comments, stories and support.  We’ll keep you posted on which path we decide to take.

Many blessings to you and your families.  Enjoy eachother!

      

Tiffany

We have been in Nosara for over a month now.  It is probably the coolest place I have ever lived.  Definitely something I have dreamed about and have wanted for my family for quite some time now.  There’s only one problem, the Devil lives here too, and is trying “shoo” the Toomeys out.  Why, oh why, I keep asking?  I just don’t get it. 

I normally don’t like to dwell on the negative, but I wake up in the night thinking about all of this and want to put it past me.  Here’s the “Negative Nelly” list:

* 75% of our clothes are bleached — We were staying at a hotel when we first got here and looking for a place to stay.  We had bags of clothes to be washed from our Panama trip to 9 days being at the hotel.  We had the hotel staff wash our clothes for a fee, and upon return, we didn’t open the bags.  We waited to pull them out until we got into our place.  Not a nice surprise!

* Billy’s computer — After a few days of being in the house, Billy left his computer on the arm of the sofa for a few minutes.  One of the kids came and jumped their hiney on the sofa.  It rolled the computer onto the ground and broke.  Hasn’t turned on since.  My computer is now Billy’s computer.  For better for worse, right?

* My I-Pod stolen — On our way to the beach on Valentine’s Day, we stopped at a little convenient store to grab a drink.  I jumped out, with my I-Pod in my lap, ran in, bought a drink and hopped back into the car.  We drove a couple minutes down the street when I realized what had happened.  We u-turned and drove back to the store.  No I-Pod on ground, and no one standing around (or clerks) had seen it.  Hmmmmmm……….

* No Communication — In order for Billy to make money, he needs to be able to talk on the phone through the internet and send/receive emails.  That’s quite a problem where we live!  The internet is not DSL, so is very slow, therefore not allowing us to talk through the internet.  On top of that, we have a pre-paid internet card, which charges out the wazoo.  Plus, our cell phone we used in Quepos doesn’t work in Nosara because it’s not 3G or 4G.  Sooooooo…….we can’t talk through the internet (unless we go to a restaurant and use theirs) and we don’t have a cell phone.  No comunicacion = no dinero = no bueno.   If we don’t figure this out soon, Billy may have to split his time between here and the States.  I’m totally fine with that, we just need a plan and direction.

* Kids getting picked on — We enrolled the kids in the local public school and last week was their first full week.  Even though they like school, we have many discussions and issues to deal with.  My kids have never been the bullies in school, nor have been picked on, so they REALLY don’t get this mean thing.  Throughout their first week, they have have spitballs blown at them, laughed at numerous times, money stolen out of their desk, pencils poking them in the back, and warnings to be careful because they are cute.  Okay……………as a parent, I was ready to yank them out last friday, only 5 days in.  In speaking with Billy that morning, we talked through our emotions and realized it was good for them to stay in school.  They are learning a different culture first hand.  The other students behavior is sad, but it’s just what these kids know.  We now have a new approach to teach our kids how to behave, and the examples God would love for them to exemplify.  We explain to our kids that there is a reason they are right here, right now, and maybe being a good example is one of them.  We tell them to shower their bullies with kindness, be friends with the same sex first so the other sex isn’t jealous of you, address issues like someone stealing your money, and have respect for the teacher.  We’ve already had a turnaround this week in bullying, so hopefully it will continue to get better. 

*I am sick.  I can’t breathe out of my nose, my throat has the pins and needles feeling, and I’m not sleeping at nighttime.  Ughhh!!  The locals say it’s because of all the dust from the dirt roads, so I’m trusting that.  I actually feel a little better than yesterday, I’m just tired. 

*Water Issues — They started a fews days after we moved in.  Tank leak, pump broken, low pressure, etc…  Before school a few days last week, we didn’t have an ounce of water.  That was quite tricky with fixing hair, brushing teeth, kids thirsty, cooking, and so on.  The water pressure is still low, so the washing machine doesn’t work.  Therefore, I am hand-washing their uniforms daily.  The little things you appreciate when you don’t have them!  The pump should be fixed soon, so we are not stressing or getting upset, just working with the resources we do have.  Everyone has been troopers with the low-pressure, freezing cold showers! 

Okay, enough of the “Negative Nelly” list.  Onto better and brighter things.  I really, really like Nosara.  How can you not when the main means of transportation is dirtbikes, 4-wheelers and walking?  Even with all of these yucky things surrounding us, our spirits are high and we continually see all of the wonderful blessings we DO HAVE.  Here’s a few:

* Healthy and Happy — We are all healthy (except for my minor dust issues) and happy.  Both of these are priceless.

   

* Church — We didn’t go to church for 6 months while living in Quepos.  It was one thing missing in our lives.  Through word of mouth, we found a small church here in Nosara that meets every Sunday morning, on the beach, under one of the palapas.  It’s not a preaching-about-Jesus kind of church, it’s more like a Lifegroup or Sunday School.  Coming from a Lifegroup in Austin, this was right up our alley.  We talk about the Bible and how we can individually implement it to live a more, fulfilling life.  All of the families are super nice, and our kids really enjoy being around one another.  One of the families live in New Jersey, homeschool their 2 kids, and loves to cook (good at it too!).  They split the year between Jersey, the family farm in Texas, and a few months in Costa Rica.  Love the similarities!!   How lucky we are to have found this church, and these sweet friends.

* School — Even though we’ve had our issues to address, we are so thankful to have been brought to the school.  It’s a different kind of learning, acting, and social environment, but isn’t that what life is about?  Getting out of your comfort zone to see life through someone else’s eyes?  That’s how Billy and I feel about it.  As long as the kids are safe and happy, it’s good for them.  I am still homeschooling them, just not as much.  I am making sure all are reading English books, writing in their journals and keeping up with math.  One thing I am impressed about, is the Mathematics is on the same level as the States.  Kaitlyn is working on the same 4th grade lessons I was teaching her while homeschooling (i.e.  long division 24500/122 and multiplication 14545 x 871)  The older 2 have homework every night.  It’s pretty time consuming because we use the Spanish Dictionary to help understand, but it’s been great for their Spanish.  The kitchen is one of my favorite places to be, anywhere.  This Elementary School kitchen isn’t any different.  They have 1 person that preps, cooks and cleans for all 106 students.  Her name is Juanita, and she runs a tight kitchen.  It’s been fun to watch and learn from her.  In return, she likes the help from me.  I’m there everyday from 9-11am, doing whatever Juanita needs help with.  After we prep and cook the food, she serves and I do the dishes.  We are a good team!  What I love about her tight ship, is she demands respect from the kiddos.  Here are her rules:  Tuck in your shirts.  Wash hands, dry them.  Stand in line, hands to yourself.  Get food and drink, sit down.  No talking.  Wait until every is seated, say Grace together.  No elbows on table.  When finished, bring dishes to sink.  Say Thank You.  Go back to class.  GOTTA LOVE IT!  One moe silent rule:  eat all your food or Juanita will ask you why you didn’t like it.  My kids learned that the first couple of days of school.  Most plates don’t even have a grain of rice left on them.  😮

           

* Day trips — We are so lucky to have the beauty of beaches surrounding us.  Pink sand beaches, black sand beaches, white sand beaches………….you name it, it’s around here.  The other day, our sweet neighbors and friends invited us to go to a black sand beach, about 40 minutes away, to go spear-fishing, catch scallops, snorkel, grill on the beach and hang out.  A few families were there, and it was fun for all.  A great day trip!

   

*  Food — We have learned a whole new respect for food and how lucky we are to have it.  We make weekly trips to the grocery store, Pali, in Samara, which is about 40 minutes away (30  minutes on dirt, rocky roads).  Since we buy enough food and drinks for a week at a time, we have to carefully plan our meals 7 days in advance.   By the time the next weekly run comes around, we have eaten nearly everything in our fridge and pantry.  There is a grocery store here in Nosara for little items to get here and there, but it’s alot pricier than Pali (a Walmart-owned grocery store).  What a fun family outing each week to get groceries, cross rivers, stop at beaches along the way and sing in the car.  Definitely memory-making!

My prayer for the next few weeks is this, “God, please continue to stay by our side, look over us Toomeys, and “shoo” the Devil out of town.  We love our life here in Nosara, and don’t want the negatively to impact our attitudes and experiences.  Please give us clarity on how Billy can continue to work here, given the internet connectivity issues.  Please watch over the kids and  keep them safe at school, while opening their eyes, ears, heart and mind to all you want them to know and learn.  Thank you for loving us, and for showing us all kinds of beauty that life has to offer.  It truly is a priceless gift.” 

Tiffany

Traveling fools…..

Whew………….It’s been a whirlwind of a couple of weeks.  A trip to the mountains, an adventure to Panama, and finally, to our destination for the next 5 months, Nosara.  We are traveling fools.  Here’s a little something about each.

A TRIP TO THE MOUNTAINS

The idea of the trip started when we invited one of the favorite workers at our Quepos house over for an early dinner after he got off work.  We made homemade pizza and enjoyed a couple of beers together.  After about an hour of talking and getting to know eachother a little more, we found out the following:  he’s 24 years old, has 11 brothers and sisters, his girlfriend works in a restaurant and is 6 months pregnant with their first child, he doesn’t have a car, he likes living in Quepos with some of his sisters and brothers, he’s from San Cristobal Sur in the mountains of Costa Rica (where 5 of his brothers and sisters still live), and he hasn’t been there in over a year.  We asked him if he’d like to go back, and of course he said yes.  After about 10 minutes of talking about the idea of driving him there, we had a rough plan to leave in 3 days.  The only hurdle was he getting off work, in which he’d ask the manager the next day. 

All went as planned, and we were off!

We picked Roberto up at 5:15 am (with full cups of coffee) and started our DAY journey into the mountains.  In our “planning” conversation 3 days prior, Billy and I thought Roberto said his Dad lived about 1 to 2 hours away.  Wrong!  The miscommunication didn’t surprise us (it happens quite often with the language gap) so we just rolled with it.  The trek took 4 hours.  At first, we were thinking, “Wow, this is going to be a looooooooong day”.  Then, the beautiful scenery took over and we were happy to be driving as long as we needed to.  It was truly a spectacular drive.  The terrain was a bit crazy, but we were thankful to have a vehicle to get us through it:  potholes, rocks, mudslides, creeks and lots of hills.  We would stop every so often to take pictures and capture the moment.  The younger kids took turns sitting on my and Roberto’s laps, but preferred Roberto’s for sure.  Let me tell you a little about him.

Sweet Roberto.  Billy and I can’t figure out if he’s like a son home from college, a really close family friend, or a brother to us.  Maybe he’s a good mix.  All 6 of us Toomey’s love him dearly, along with another worker (the kids “Abuelo”), but that’s a whole other post.  Roberto loves our kids and played with them as much as he could.  Whether it was laughing at their spanish, playing football with the boys, asking for their help around the property, riding his little bike to work so the kids can borrow it for the day, teaching them card games, or bringing them candy……………….he was always laughing and smiling.  He is a great guy, that has definitely brightened each of our lives.

As for the day trip……………..it was great.  His family was super nice, and welcomed us with open arms.  We got home safely, pulling up to our place at 11:00 at night.  The best thing was watching Roberto with his family, and knowing he was appreciative for the ride there and back.  A trip to remember!

     

     

 

PANAMA

To live in Costa Rica without any type of visa or residency, you have to leave the country every 3 months for 72 hours.  We went to La Concepcion, Panama, for our first “exit country” trip and wanted to try a new city this time around.  We ended up in beautiful Boquete, which is located at the bottom of Volcan Baru.  I’m so glad we did!   Our trip started by driving our car to the border of Costa Rica and Panama, then took an hour bus ride to David, Panama, grabbed our bags and switched to a big, yellow school bus to Boquete.  After that 45-minute bus ride, we flagged a taxi down to take us to our bed and breakfast.  We were exhausted.

The owner of the B&B, Rodrigo, is a Texas Aggie alum and a great guy.  He was full of knowledge, and loved to share it with us.  He has a pet toucan, named “Toucee”, on the property that the kiddos loved to talk to and play with.  One day, Rodrigo took us to the new zoo in town, that shelters rescued animals.  The kids had a blast holding the monkeys, talking to the birds, and feeding the goats.  We ended the day at the gorgeous Annual Flower and Coffee Festival.

The next day, we headed out for a walk through the Volcan Baru National Park.  The taxi dropped us off at the beginning, and said, “I’ll be here in 3 1/2 hours to pick you up”.  I almost fainted!  I thought it was an hour WALK, not hike.  We didn’t bring an ounce of water, or have a map to show us where in the world we were hiking to.  “Dear God, please let these 3 hours go by fast” was exactly my prayer!  Well, it was beautiful, the kids were awesome (never once complained about being thirsty) and it went by super fast.  I wouldn’t have done anything different that day.  What a blessing.

      

     

     

 

NOSARA, COSTA RICA

We had a total “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” ride to Nosara.  The 4-hour drive took 6 hours because of all our luggage (in and out of the car).   The only thing missing were the christmas lights strung around the ’86 Jeep Cherokee.  The sad this is, we have to drive back to Quepos in a couple of weeks to get the other half of our loot that didn’t fit.  Oh, the “stuff” you accumulate over 6 months.

We made it here safe and sound.  Nosara is a beautiful place.  The waves are big, beaches are huge, and the town is super chill.  We are staying at a hotel that is 1 block from the beach, so the kiddos are loving life!  We walk to the beach twice a day to surf, look for sand dollars and take strolls on the sand.  We’ve looked at a few houses to call home for the next 5 months, but no luck.  We are praying to find one soon, as frustration is starting to take over. We’ve met alot of Americans that are helpful and nice.  Some expats that live here and some on vacation.  The crazy thing is, we haven’t had to speak spanish AT ALL.  All the locals speak english, so I need to figure out a way to keep the kids’ spanish fresh in their minds.  I’m taking a look at the public schools this week, to see if that’s an option.  The Costa Rican school year starts in February.

When I say “super, chill town”, I really mean it.  This is the first time in my life I don’t care about what I look like in a swimsuit.  Did I just say that?  But, truthfully, everyone here is here to surf or do yoga………….that’s it.  When you surf, you wear a swimsuit.  When you do yoga, you’re half naked.  At the restaurant, at the bar, walking down the street with a surfboard, walking to the bank — everywhere you look, people are comfy in their own skin.  Everyone is smiling and happy to be right here, right now, in Nosara, Costa Rica.  It’s so cool.

      

 

Only 5 months until we head back to the States.  My prayer is, “God, please show The Toomey’s all you want us to know, remember, cherish and learn during this spectacular time in our lives.  We love you and thank you so much for this opportunity.”

Tiffany

Moving on…

First off, I’d like to thank many of you for your thoughts, prayers and kind emails regarding the health of my family.  My dad is doing much better, and healing great.  My stepfather, on the other hand, found out he had cancer shortly after his quadruple bipass surgery.  He has since started chemotherapy, and is doing as well as expected.  He hasn’t been sick from the treatments, so we are thankful for that.   Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers.

Secondly, Billy did a great job holding down the fort and taking care of the kids while I was gone.  I knew everyone would be safe and fed, so I wasn’t hesistant about leaving.  Returning, on the other hand, is always hard for me.  From the moment my kids were infants, they would get angry with me if I left them, even for a day.  They wouldn’t let me hold them, wouldn’t talk to me, and would fully ignore me until they got over it.  Not a good feeling for a mother!  This trip wasn’t any different.  When I returned, the kids and Billy had their own routine that worked for them.  I was out of the picture for almost 3 weeks, and they managed just fine.  During the first few days of me being back, tears were shed from the kids, and comments flew like, “Why is Mom so strict?” and “Mom, can’t you go back to Texas”?  GULP!!  My heart broke, but I totally understood.  I really did.  Billy had to work, so the kids got through the day, pretty much on their own.  They did a great job, then…………….. Mom came home, and had rules.  LOTS of rules.  It was a hard transition for us all, but we took it in stride, and kept ticking.  After about a week, all was good, and life was back to normal.  Whew………….the trials and tribulations within a family.  It makes us stronger, right?

As for my visit back to the states, it was good.  I was glad to be there for my family.  I knew they needed me, and I wanted to be there for them.  Do I miss living in Austin?  No, not at all.  I cherished the time spent with my family and friends, but was ready to get back to my simple life here.  I must admit, I’m already a bit anxious about moving back in 6 months.  I’m not ready, but God has always taken care of my nerves, and we’ll be just fine.  As long as Billy, the kiddos and I are all together, life is perfect.

Lastly, our 6-month lease is up this week, and we are moving on.  I can’t believe we are 1/2 way through our adventure!  Even though we’ve enjoyed Manuel Antonio/Quepos, we feel like our time here is done.  We’ve met alot nice people, some honored to call friends, some family.  We are moving North to a small surf town called Nosara.  When we originally decided to move the family to Costa Rica, we planned on living in Nosara.  After visiting some friends in Quepos, our plans changed, and we knew the kiddos would like to live here first.  We were right.  This was a great place to start our adventure:  it’s touristy, lots of Americans, easy to get around by bus or by car, many places to eat, and absolutely beautiful!  It’s time for us to experience a smaller, more remote, and less touristy part of Costa Rica.

One of our goals for the next 6 months, is to travel more throughout the country.  Every part of Costa Rica is completely different, and it would be a shame if we didn’t see each region.  We are fully aware of our blessings to be living here, and want to take full advantage of this opportunity.  So much to do in so little time.  How fun!

Here are some of our favorite pictures from November and December:

I hope 2011 brings you excitement, opportunity, simplicity, exploration, peace and lots and lots of love!

Tiffany

MERRY CHRISTMAS

Sending holiday cheer from Costa Rica (with a little help from Kenny Chesney)

May God bless you and your family this wonderful Christmas season!

The Toomeys
Billy, Tiffany, Kaitlyn (10), Piper (6), Hunter (7) and Shae (8)

Finding the Kid

Tiff’s dad had surgery last week and is in the hospital, so she needed to go back to Texas and help him with his recovery.  Along with that, her sister is 9 months pregnant, stepfather had quadruple bypass and uncle had a heart attack in the same week.  They have their hands full holding the fort up North, while I keep the troops happy down here for the next three weeks.  It’s pretty amazing how cool it is to know that no matter what is put in front of you, you’ll be able to handle it.  Not having her has brought a whole new dynamic to understanding our family dynamic.  My wife is absolutely the most passionate, loving and professional person I have ever met.  They say you can tell how well kids are parented, by the way they behave when the parent is not there.  I am so proud of my wife and the things we have done together.

The last few days I have been helping my buddy out at his hotel getting things going.  The kids have had to pretty much take care of themselves for almost a week now, and are so responsible it makes me smile.  I don’t want my oldest daughter to feel like she is responsible for everyone, so I have been giving them different areas of responsibility, but to work together as one team.  They have been helping me at the grocery store and around the house keeping things clean and flowing smoothly.  Tiff is a great mom and I can really appreciate all the effort she puts in raising them and really teaching them about the details of life.  It is critically important that couples are just that, couples.  Not meaning two, but connected, coupled like a train (I think that term got lost or changed over time).  It’s easy to see that even left on their own, our kids have tremendous values and love for each other.  They even get mad at me when I am out of line with one of them.  The others come to their defense, it’s pretty cool.

One thing these guys have showed me, is that life is so much easier when we commit to each other and stick together.  Maybe it’s that we are in a different country and have no choice.  Or that they are without their mom who really is the anchor of their days, but they have a friendship and adhesion that is really amazing when they are on their own.  Being by ourselves right now, I have to slow things down and really put more time into keeping them moving and learning.  One thing I decided, is that I will not get upset with them.  I don’t know why it seemed hard before, but I just don’t do it anymore.  I also try to see things on their level, and laugh a lot more.  Why are these just simple decisions I didn’t choose before?  If there is one thing in my life I could truly have back, it’s the ability to dream on a kids level.  We don’t have to compromise because of money, but instead use the creativity and ingenuity we all have inside.  We grab for excuses and argue for them.  We validate them with non-sense and teach that as a standard.  We don’t need to have any point of view to defend or sell, we can be still and watch things happen.  When I dropped all the opinions, and allowed others to have theirs, all hostility disappeared.  Not that we want life to happen to us, but enjoy and let go in the areas of your life that you can.  Your kids will show you what joy is.  Leave the worry at home, and follow your kids lead.  You will have fun.  Get rid of telling your kids, “you can’t do this” or “don’t do that”, unless it’s really something they shouldn’t be doing.  It’s so much more freeing for everyone.  Trust that they have more to teach you about life than anything you’ve learned.  In fact, you probably (like me) need to unlearn a few things.  I try to ask them every day at breakfast, if you could do anything in the world today, what would it be?  They are never short of answers, and it’s all the stuff that makes boys boys, girls girls and dreams big.

My life to this point (like most people) is about what I would accept.  Not what I wanted, not what my goals were.  It’s what I decided was good enough and rationalized the short coming.  I think for the most part, my ego wouldn’t let me learn, because I knew it all and if I didn’t, I pretended I did.  My wife brought simple truth into my life.  Literally being truthful, completely and  unequivocally.  Good outputs come from good inputs, it’s that simple.  She has taught our kids a very black and white view of life.  They know what the truth is, and they know that life gets harder when we start straying from that road.  I see in our children, the want for things just like any kid, but they have an ability to determine a value in their terms.  They have identities, and like my buddy Tim Speedy said, “You can’t argue with them when they’re right,” and he’s right.  Be a kid, you can be an old one, but don’t whine, don’t complain and don’t make excuses (John Wooden’s 2 sets of 3), and when you hear it, don’t endulge, as it’ll take the good things from you.

This life is the only one you’re getting, so go make a fool of yourself.  Until you redefine what that means, you have to call it “making a fool of yourself”.  The truth is, the things that you want to do, are the things YOU want to do, but want is such a weak word.  The point that you start to pull back is the battle line.  I work with a few pro athlete’s on their mental conditioning, so it’s the only way I can make real connections to life.  Simply put, if your game is stalling out at the same point for the same reason, time and time again, you know exactly what the problem is and what your job is.  You know what you have to work on and it’s typically perceptions of situations.  Don’t fear these situations, welcome them.  welcome them and change them.  When would you stop trying to walk?  You wouldn’t.  Attack what’s in front of you, and redefine what these things mean.  They don’t mean failure or rejection, but instead mean adventure and possibility.  So, do like your kids would, and go play.  One thing is for certain…..you will die at some point.  Know that and fear only regret.  Not that I am an authority on life, I just love to see people happy.  It’s what makes my life full.  It’s like were paid to sit still and do nothing.  Break through the things that divert your focus or control your moves;  those voices in your head, challenge them.  You get one today.  To think tomorrow will come one day soon, is another lie.  Tomorrow will be another tomorrow.  We have about 60,000 thoughts a day.  The sad thing is 95% of them are the same ones we had yesterday.

Remembering what it was like, is what I’m talking about in finding the kid.  I was recently listening to White Lion “Radar Love” and I couldn’t help but think how much life for me is brought back by those hanging, flowing guitar riffs.  The hot summer days by the river in Elmira, New York, praying and dreaming of a bigger life.  We’d get up in the morning, eat and split as fast as we could.  We would ride bikes, fish, swim and anything that came along.  We didn’t care about eating or having money to spend, and were somehow able to fill our days with non-stop play.  We would meet up at Bill Stowell’s house and play basketball, skateboard, and watch movies ’til we crashed on the couch, then do it all again the next day.  I still vividly remember the smell of of the lush green grass at 7 in the morning, the dew glistening in the sun and the cold feel of wet Chuck Taylors on my feel as I tried to step and not slide my feet in early morning air.  Fishing pole in one hand, tackle box in the other, hurrying along to keep up with my buddies on bikes.  The world was ready for us, and we were ready for it.  Getting away from the houses and heading toward the river, we entered our world when the pavement ended to dirt.  Fallen trees ensured that anyone who followed had to do so on foot or bike.  I still can hear the rustling in the bushes and the call of “Annie, go get em”.  Annie was Bill’s dog, and she would flush birds all day long.  We had it made, and would take that vibrance of life to the corners of the world and seek adventure.  But there’s something different about being young, and not having anything in mind but to be included in the fun.  Every minute of those days, we were doing something, or getting ready to do something.  Looking back, I wish I had all the stuff I used to have, but awareness of how lucky I was. 

We all have dreams, we just put them at bay until we retire.  You choose every aspect of your life:  what you’ll accept, what you’ll give to others, and in the end how you’ll be viewed as a parent by your children.  You’ll never escape this.  Every parent I have ever talked to, inevitably has some type of guilt about things they could have done better.  But it’s how the kid views the parent that matters.  As parents, we are all heroes when we start out.  You have to work pretty hard to get your kids to not like you.  Coach them, don’t train them.  Draw out their personalities and “raise” them.  I will leave you with one thought:  if you argue with a 2-year old, you’ve already lost.  Don’t stop playing!  Set that example, and your kids will model you.

Billy

Different Perspective

I see Tiff writing on the blog and I just kinda keep to myself.  But lately, I’ve had some pretty major revelations in my life, mainly dealing with how the majority of my time is spent.

I have been in mortgage banking, both commercial and residential, over 15 years.  I’ve considered it my calling, it’s what I do.  Over the last few weeks, I have really been questioning everything in my life, in regards to the value I place on things.  I got caught up in being a motocrosser, a banker, a Marine etc.. and had no real identity outside of the things I did.  Who am I?  Am I just the stuff I do and when it’s over, do I need to grab onto something else for significance?  It seemed to feel like that.  The truth is, what you do is not who you are.  Because when it’s gone, you’ll always be left trying to figure out what life really is for your soul.

I had a pretty bad crash on my motorcycle last year and spent a few months in a wheel chair.  I’m still limited in my shoulder and ankle movement, but it was the best thing that ever happened to me.  Yeah I know, boo-hoo, whoa is me, but it’s not like that at all.  I am truly thankful to be done racing, but I do miss the excitement I felt and don’t know how to replace those feelings.  I liked being in the Marine Corps alot.  I loved and still love motocross, I just can’t do it the way I used to.  God gave me soul that likes to push, so I know there’s something else out there.  But life moves on, and so must we.

Over the last two weeks, I was hit hard with the realization that my job isn’t really getting it done for me from a fulfillment perspective (nor money for that matter).  I love working with people, figuring out problems and delivering an outcome that exceeds expectations.  In doing this over and over and over again for 15 years, I’m realizing it’s not the job I love.  It’s the people I like, it’s the families, it’s the relationships that are created.  It’s the result of being given the opportunity and trust, to perform a service for someone.  Being here has really allowed me (and made me) adapt to not having the luxuries we had in the states.  But most of the stuff I had, I justified the expense or need to keep up.

My gym here consists of some rocks, bamboo sticks, a few chairs, and pretty much anything else I can find to throw, lift, or push, it’s nice to have to be creative again.  The need to be respected in peoples’ minds for who I could make them think I was, is not important to me anymore.  I don’t know why, but I just feel a sense of self like I have never had before.  I am meant to help people, but in a different capacity than before.  Everyday leading up to this one, has gotten me ready for where I am now.

I think the most significant breakthrough came last Friday, when writing.  I made the discovery (a discovery for me), that success is not a destination, success is a path you travel mentally.  It’s truly a decision you make at the snap of a finger to change the way you operate.  You know in your heart and head what’s right and wrong, it’s a matter of doing it.  And more than that, knowing you are successful.  Simply making a decision to be more engaged in your day, down to every small decision.  Even an incremental improvement can go a long way.  Success for me, is dealing with my kids or my wife, and at the end of the day, not regreting anything, always wanting more for them, but not comdemning myself for any of my actions.  It’s not where you end up when a deal gets done, its how you do the deal.    Successful days consist of successful seconds, and those seconds are shaped at the interaction of past and future, called The Now.  Now is the only time you have to create your history.  We burn these seconds everyday and never really have any type of goal or mission in mind.  But beyond a mission, there must be a vision for your life that you design your goals and missions around.  That’s who you are, and that’s what I’m searching for.  It’s not about money, as money is an anchor of security.  It’s about faith, hope and contribution.  Faith and hope that there is something more in store for you by living the successful seconds of your life.  Contribution by giving beyond your self-interest.  You can’t be secure and test faith.  I won’t keep throwing out quotes, but Einstein said, ” The great many problems we face, cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them”.  It’s one of my favorites.

The last few days I have woken up feeling like I am moving the direction I am being called, and will figure out how to make everything else work.  For those who know me, I think they’d say for the most part, I am genuinely interested in people.  I am finally writing a book.  Something I’ve always wanted to do, but never felt like I was qualified.  I’m sure if you ask any writer, they would make edits till the cows come home and, so I guess you just start.  Don’t get it perfect, just get it going.  I know me writing a book sounds weird to a lot of people and that’s okay, but know this for a fact, we were all created for a reason.  I look back at the last 10 years of my life (which has been amazing to look back on),  and can’t remember all of the feelings of stress, fear and anger.  I just remember situations.  Looking back on even a month ago, I can’t believe I would stress over anything.  You don’t recall that stuff later on in life, so why live it now.

Learning is remembering.  Socrates said that, and the funny thing is, I already knew this stuff.  I’ve studied alot of speakers, psychologists, marketing people, and athletes for as much as they could give me on how to succeed, but had no definition of success for me.  Today, I’m sitting here in the cabana with the sun shining, having no real fear I could possibly think of and no real reason to stress.  This is success for me:  content, but ready to grow.  To know that almost every minute of today, I have had an active awareness in how my day went.

Costa Rica is a beautiful place, but when we came here, it was about uncertainty.  It was about wanting something new, and knowing I couldn’t feel as bad as I did when I left the states.  I was lost to say the least.  Not the kind of father I wanted my boys to see, or the person I wanted my girls to marry.  The beauty in life is that things can change in a second.  But don’t wait for it to change, go figure it out, adapt to what comes your way and don’t care what people say about you.  The only reason people gossip or are critical is because they are scared.  Scared to chase anything for fear of failure, so they try to bring people to their level, and does it really matter anyway?  Don’t get me wrong, when we started out on this journey, I had no idea what to expect, but didn’t care anymore.  God’s delays are not his denials, and like it’s been said before, there is always light after the dark.  This post is supposed to be about our Costa Rican experience, and it is in every way.

Billy
toomey706@gmail.com

Missing the States

After 3 1/2 months of being here, the time has finally come…………….I am starting to miss the States.  I was told it would happen sooner or later, and that day is here.

The kids’ clothes are stained, swimsuits falling apart, flip flops broken, toiletries running out, clothes getting tight (all of mine must have shrunk :)), etc…  There is not a nearby place to buy any of these, at least not at reasonable prices, or it’s not what I want.  We are in a touristy area, so prices are hiked high.  I would love to walk into Old Navy, Gap, Barton Creek Mall, Target, Walmart or Marshalls and shop for what I want/need.

Another thing I miss is not being able to cook my recipes.  Either I can’t find ingredients, they are ridiculously high-priced, or the texture isn’t what I’m used to.  We haven’t found a good butcher, so have not bought beef one time.  Another obstacle is the selection of pots of pans.  Not many to choose from.  I’ve really been craving Beer-Ritas lately, but can’t find orange juice nor limeade concentrate.  Plus, the liquor stores were out of Triple Sec.  So sad!  On a good note, we’ve gotten really good at making the local gallo pinto (beans and rice) and every kind of taco to mankind (breakfast, chicken, fish and bean).  I’ve never had so many carbs, but they sure are yummy!

Without having family and a network of friends around us, the six of us spend every minute together.  Even though we love eachother very much, we need time to ourselves.  Billy and I have had 2 occasions away from the kids in 3 1/2 months.  If  you know us, we love our date nights.  We love to hang out with eachother, talk, laugh and just relax.  It’s nice to “escape” from parenting, just for a moment, and be husband and wife.  Thank goodness the kids have found friends to hang out with.  Since they are not in school, they look forward to and cherish their playdates.  Interesting enough, when asked if they want to be put in school, they all say “no” very quickly.  Homeschooling is going great.

Being away from my family and friends is starting to hit me.  My sister is 8 months pregnant, and I can only see her cute belly on the Skype camera.  My friend was in the hospital for one month in ICU, and I could only send emails or posts on Facebook.  Another friend is having marital problems, and I can’t be across from her, holding her hand, with my ears open.  I know being absent makes the heart grow fonder, but when there are people you love in need, I just want to be there to help.  I want to hug them and tell them I love them.  I want to bring dinners, meet for happy hour, or help with their kids. For now, I guess Facebook, Skype and phone calls will have to do.

As for our life here, we are happy and loving the adventure.  We have meet some great friends.  I love how God works and put a set of friends in our path a couple months ago, not knowing they would soon “house” the Toomey’s for 6 days, due to our house flooding.  Last week, intense and historical rains came through Costa Rica.  Mountains moved, roads broke, bridges fell, lives lost, along with over 60 inches of rain in 5 days.  Since water was coming to our door, we decided to leave our property due to flooding and displacement of alligators, snakes, spiders and other living creatures.  We were gone for 6 days, staying down the street at our friend’s house.  It was like a slumber party, day in and day out.  Super fun!  We are very thankful for our sweet, southern-hospitality Texas friends.  Below are pics of a nearby broken road, property an hour before we left, helping our friend cook homemade pasta, and the girls playing a game with their friends.

Just hours after coming home, my fear came true.  We found this fur-de-lance snake on our porch.  Then 2 days later (yesterday), we found another fur-de-lance in our outside laundry room, AND this alligator by the creek on our property, just 100 feet from our house.  Scary!

Even though this is not the happiest post, I love to write in this state of mind, as new emotions are continually coming about.  It is real, it is life…..and it will change.  It might be because Billy has been using my computer for a month because his power cord blew up, my body recovering from parasites, the crazy “rainy season” here, or it just might be that time of the month.  Who knows?

All I know for certain, is I’m so thankful for my marriage, the health of my family, our happiness, and this wonderful experience.  Now that I’m writing this down, I feel a million times better than before I started.  I love how that works!

God Bless you through good and bad days.  Just keep tickin’.

Tiffany

I’m Loving it

While taking a shower the other day, I was giggling and smiling, while singing “DOODOO, DOO, DOO, DOOOOOOO……….I’M LOVING IT”.  You know, the McDonald’s song.  I kept thinking what a perfect song for how I am feeling these days:  happy and simple.

Since my last post, we have had a fun-filled month and a half.  Here are a few of the events: 

* We witnessed a monkey getting electricuted, fall off the electrical wires into the ditch, rescued, then brought back to life through CPR by a worker on the property.  It was truly amazing to witness, and a great outcome.
* Billy got a ticket from the Transit Police for not carrying his Texas Driver’s License while driving (had the Passport, though).  Went straight to the attorney’s office and he wrote a letter.  Glad we met him when we got into town. 
* Saw a huge palm tree (next to our house) get struck by lightning and catch fire.  We watched it burn to the ground.  Luckily, it was raining and didn’t spread
*  One of my favorite memories happened the other day, when I walked around to see where the kids were (they are always helping the grounds crew), and I heard laughing.  Their Costa Rican “abuelo” (grandfather) was wheeling them around in a wheelbarrow yelling “taxi, taxi”.  They were having the best time and laughing hysterically.
* We almost got stuck in a flood.  We were at a friend’s restaurant down the way when it started pouring down rain.  We decided to wait there until the rain subsided a bit.  Bad idea.  As were we driving home, we were watching locals walking/swimming the streets with the water thigh-high on men. 
*  Kids went to a Rainforest Camp with friends and had a great time.  Billy and I walked down the way and spent some time together, drinking coffee in a restaurant, over-looking the ocean, and listening to the SILENCE.  No noice, very quiet.  🙂
*  At the beach, all the kiddos stood up on the surfboard.  My youngest actually had the longest ride.  The boys loved it so much, they put their allowance money together and bought their own.  Actually, my sweet dad was here visiting, and wanted to go in thirds on the board.  Thanks Dad!

We have met many english-speaking families, mostly from the states (2 from Texas).  As we were first running into them, it was surprising and new.  As we continued to be introduced to their friends and running into others, it became “our new life” that we are continually getting settled into.  We have become friends with many, and truly cherish our times together.  We share stories about our past, live in the present, and share dreams for the future.  We cook for one another, invite eachother out to dinner, or show up where we think they are hanging out.  Our kids play and laugh, and can’t wait until the next time we spend time together.  The Gringo community is growing here in Quepos/Manuel Antonio, and we are all here for a reason.  I thought The Toomey’s would be the only family getting away from the “hustle and bustle”, when in fact, there are about 20 other families who had the exact same idea.  It’s a very cool and comforting feeling.  Lifetime friendships, for sure. 

Through our day-to-day experiences while living here, I have learned so much about myself, my kiddos and about life.  I will start with myself.   

MYSELF —

I had my first yoga class this morning.  I’ve talked about going to yoga for years, but had never made the time or wanted to spend the money to go.  Instead, I had a gym membership where I would run on the treadmill, lift weights and take classes.  That is where I justified spending my money for exercising.  Here in Quepos, there is one tiny gym in town.  So small, that my husband who used to work out once or twice daily at the gym in the states, has already canceled his membership.  With the beauty and natural resources here in Costa Rica, why drive to a gym when you have a huge gym outdoors?  Before I get out of bed in the morning, I do situps.  I then put on my running shoes, in case it’s happens to be one of the 3 days a week I decide to run.  On those days,  Billy watches the kids, I grab my i-pod and set out for my 1-1/2 mile run.  I run on the main road where there are 18-wheelers, tourist busses, motorcycles, bicycles and walkers.  The gorgeous mountains are to my right, and the smiles of everyone passing me, makes me smile too.  One of my favorite memories, was the other day when Billy had set up “stations” around our house.  With two barstools, he made a “dip” station for triceps.  With the sofa and a chair, he made a “push-up” station for arms, chest and abdominal.  And for a “really, really hard” station, he was doing pull-ups on a bamboo tree.  I only did one of those.  Geez louiz, that was hard.  Back to yoga….it was wonderful.  I had met an english-speaking family the other day at the Feria (Farmer’s Market) through a mutual friends, and really enjoyed talking to them.  The wife recently started teaching yoga, which made me happy to try it out.  Wow……..what a blessing, as the class was great!  I like being around her, along with working out my entire body (mind and soul).  The gorgeous view of the ocean made it even better.  As I’m typing, I am super sore, but already excited for the next class.

Homeschooling.  I was in the mindset to homeschool my children, but didn’t know what to expect.  The TOOMEY TREEFROGS are awesome!  We start school every morning with ME, “School has started.  Good morning everyone.” and KIDS, “Good morning, Mrs. T”.  From that moment on, until school ends 2 1/2 hours later, they are all eyes on me.  They listen to every word that comes out of my mouth.  They raise hand for ideas and questions.  They say they like my swimsuit that day, or my hair looks good (which it never does), or even says “Thanks for teaching us.  It’s really fun.”  I actually enjoy having the 2 roles, and making sure they learn what they want to learn, and learn it well.  The other day was Columbus Day in the states, so we decided to research Christopher Columbus.  We learned that on his 4th voyage he explored the lands of Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama.  Oh my, how excited my kids were that he was here in Costa Rica!  We read excerpts from his journal throughout his voyage.  All in all, God has blessed all of us with this amazing opportunity of a “different” kind of learning.  And loving it, is always a plus.  Not to mention, their individual learning styles are being met.  I loved the other day, when my 1st grader said, “Mom, I want to learn multiplication”.  I busted out the flashcards I use with the older two, and he sat there for 1 hour learning with me the 0’s, 1’s, 2’s, 3’s, 4’s, and 5’s.  The funny thing is, he already knew most of them, and I had no clue!!  He had watched the older 2 during school, and picked it up.  THEN, my kindergartner a couple of days ago asked to learn multiplication.  She now knows her 0’s and 1’s.  So cute!

One thing I’ve learned about myself is that I LIKE SIMPLICITY.  I like living on clothes that fit in one suitcase.  I like going to the grocery store and having a choice of 2 kinds of beers, 2 kinds of ice cream, 1 ketchup and 5 kinds of tortillas.  I like having a “gym” in bamboo trees, on busy roads, and with barstools.  I like wearing makeup once every 3 months.  I like that the property management wants to include your daughter in their employee birthday fiesta.  I like hanging with people you just meet, that would do anything for you at anytime, like bringing car parts back from the states, or driving 30 minutes with you to take care of a transit ticket.  I have never lived a simple lifestyle, but I love it.  It’s me.  Whether we stay here or move back next summer, I will always carry the simplicity with me.  How lucky I am to be so young and have experienced it.

MY KIDDOS —

Everyone loves their kids, and thinks they are amazing.  Well, I’m no different.  Aside from being their teacher, and seeing how smart they are, I love being around them and seeing their minds, dreams and visions grow daily.  My 4th grader has a 105-page daily journal so far about her experiences here in Costa Rica.  She could write a book with her details and honesty.  My 3rd grader always plays the “what would you rather me do?” game, saying stuff like, “when I’m older, would you rather me 1) buy an existing hotel and restaurant and change the food in the restaurant, or 2) buy it, tear it down and build my own restaurant, how I really want it.”  An entrepeneur in the making.  My 1st grader has learned to control his emotions.  He was the most challenging before we left, crying when feeling every emotion:  happy, sad, hurt, and scared.  That lil’ boy has taught me so much about control, it’s amazing.  The other kids now ask him how he “changed” and how he controls his emotions.  What an example.  My kindergartner is the youngest, and has the youngest attitude for sure.  That being said, she loves to spend as much with me as she can.  She’s my little helper, that loves to cook, clean, do dishes and laundry by herself……….without asking.  She loves to surprise me with her good deeds, but also likes to throw the “momma is so proud of me” attitude in the other kids’ faces.  All of my kiddos are speaking spanish, on different levels.  My older 2 are fully engaged in spanish-speaking conversations, and my younger 2 can understand some, and speak some, but aren’t as confident quite yet.  They are all teaching me words I do not know after 6 years of spanish classes.  It makes me so proud to watch their little minds in action — so willing to learn something foreign and new, and truly enjoying it.

Onto unfamiliar sicknesses with the kids.  During the past 3 months here, we’ve been to more doctor office visits than the last 3 years in the states.  With all the kiddos combined, we’ve had 3 swimmer’s ears, 2 dengue fevers, and 3 staph infections.  We’ve come to realize that our bodies need to adjust to this rainforest climate, and we WILL contract their local sicknesses while living here.  Dengue fever can be serious, but it’s alot like the flu in the states, and is worse in adults than in kids.  My kids had high fever for a couple of days, one had diarrhea, headaches, and an upset stomach.  The other a minor upset stomach.  The only reason we knew it was dengue fever is because we had blood work done, and the white blood cell count was low.  Other than that, we would have never known.  As for the staph infections, they are quite annoying.  With all of my kids sleeping in the same bed and sharing the same towels, it spread quite rapidly and was hard to keep under control.  We are finally healing the last 2 red sores.  During these sickly times, my kids stayed positive and never complained.  They understood they would be fine and it would soon pass.  What troopers.

One last note about my kids.  This moving experience has made me realize that my kids will be JUST FINE wherever they are in life.  They have learned to “take the bull by the horns” as well as “go with the flow” whenever necessary.  There are days when the kids need to speak spanish to ask for what they want.  And there are days when we tell them we were going to the beach, and the rain prevents it.  Living here, you learn to adapt, be patient, be understanding, but also ask for what you want.   What a great way to live life.

ABOUT LIFE —

Life can get stagnant doing the same thing day in day out.  I know it did for me.  Dreams get smaller, patience gets tested, and life gets boring.  Little things seem to matter, when in fact, they don’t matter at all.  Our car is a good example.  It’s a 1986 Jeep Cherokee that is definitely a fixer-upper.  Billy has worked on it since the day we bought it.  It has always run, but not very well.  This car would have lasted 1 week with our family in the states, and we would have gotten rid of it.  Either it wouldn’t have been “safe” enough, too unreliable, or the “look” would’ve been uncomfortable to drive.   Here in Costa Rica, we are so thankful to even have a vehicle.  A couple of times, we have looked forward to going somewhere, only to have a change of plans because Billy found something wrong with the car.  One lesson my kids have learned very quickly is plans do change.  All you can do is figure out what the problem is, try your best to solve it, and realize………….there is always tomorrow.  Don’t stress, it is what it is.  This tico lifestyle has rubbed off and our stress is very minimal.  When we are driving down the road and see a 3-person family on a bicycle (with groceries), we are very thankful for our 1986 car.  And thankful for my hubby’s mechanic skills.  🙂

Even though this simple lifestyle is treating me well and we are all happy, there is still more I’d like to do here.  I want to find a church.  I want to volunteer within the community, and find my niche of how I can help others.  Those opportunities will present themselves when the time is right, so for now, I will be patient and keep enjoying our very lucky life here.  I will continue to look forward to the times I run into locals and friends on the streets, on the bus, or at the local grocery store, give them a hug, say “buenas” (which is a local “hello”), have a conversation, then walk away with a smiling heart.  As our life here is being established and falling into place, I pray we continue to open our hearts and minds to the endless opportunities.  I pray we allow God to walk alongside us, every step of the way.  Life is alot sweeter when He does.

DOODOO DOO DOO DOOOOOOO…..I’M LOVING IT!

Tiffany