Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Bingo Fun



My Aunt Gretchen is in town recuperating at my parents house from a shoulder surgery. She usually comes to visit for a bit each summer and I thought this summer was not going to be in the cards because of her surgery, but the recovery was a bit worse than she anticipated and my parents drove out to Indiana to help her out and then decided it would be easier to just bring her back to MN with them.

Luckily, her shoulder surgery does not affect her daubing skills! Yesterday we were able to sneak away to Mystic for some matinee bingo. As a bonus, it was free dauber day. Not that I am short on daubers. I for some reason have about 8 of them, all of them are almost full. I guess when you only go to Bingo once a year daubers last a long time.





Neither of us won, but we still had a great time. I decided Mystic should have a "throwback" bingo day when electronic machines are not allowed. What fun is it to play bingo if all you have to do is watch a machine and yell "Bingo" when it tells you to. And furthermore, a note to the general public: If you get a Bingo, YELL it. Own it. These people who just raise there hand and barely claim "bingo" in a mumble voice drive me crazy.

I'll get off my Bingo soapbox now.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Cousins

I'm not sure why I waited so long, but I finally had the Smith girls over for a day of fun. Well, minus Addison. She goes to a daycare during the day, but Ashley and Katelyn stay at their house with their Nanny. I told Kelly to have the nanny drop the kids off at my house and then we agreed to meet up at Canterbury Park later that night to give them back their girls (and bet on some ponies).

We had a fun day. Austin and Katelyn played a fair amount of Minecraft together and the other three disappeared upstairs for the majority of the day. We took a break for lunch and then headed to the park for awhile before I agreed to take them to Minnesotas largest candy store. We got about 75% there before we had to turn around due to a construction back up. There were a few groans but I promised to take them all another day.




I don't think the ponies were favorable for anyone that night but it was fun to catch up with Dan and Kelly a bit. And Addison.

Next year I'll need to schedule these days before summer is almost over. Only two full weeks of summer left.....(that makes me sad).

Friday, August 21, 2015

Trying something new

Both Riley and I are trying something new. I'm trying to use a new app to update this blog. I think there is a chance I would update more frequently if I didn't need to rely on my computer to do so. This app will let me use my phone or iPad. The posts might not be as long, but are hopefully more frequent.

Onto more fun things...Riley is trying horse riding lessons. Yes, that's not new, but the place is. It's beautiful. Located in Jordan and she just had her first lesson today. She did some walking, trotting, posting, and steering. She's in love. After she finished I said "How was it Riley?" And she said "Fine...and by fine, I mean Awesome!"









A quick clip of her first trot (without posting)



YouTube Video




Thursday, June 11, 2015

Costa Rica Day #3-6

The last part of our trip was a lot of the same so I can bunch it all together in one long  post!

Rob and I woke early (6:30!) on Sunday to join a small group of people doing Yoga outside.  It was a good class and definitely had us sweating by the end.  It was like natures “hot yoga”.  Once we all had breakfast it was off to our next adventure.  We were taking those crazy roads back to Liberia and then even more west to our next resort on the Papagayo Peninsula.  I thought the drive back went a lot faster than the drive there but it probably wasn’t any different.

Our second resort was the Four Seasons resort.  Our room…or really, apartment, was amazing.  Right off the ocean with beautiful views and gorgeous sunsets each night.  We were a perfect distance from the pool.  Not too close to be bothered by any noise, but not so far as to need a golf cart to get there.  We arrived just in time to catch a  late lunch and soak up the end of a sunny day.  Since we were on a peninsula, we had ocean views all over.  One side was more of a bay with a little bit calmer waters and the other side had a little bit bigger waves.

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On Monday the boys went and checked out the golf course on the resort.  I’m guessing it was probably the prettiest course either of them have ever played.  And much to the delight of Riley (whom we sent lots of pictures to) they saw plenty of monkeys! I bet they would have played this course every day if they could have.

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For some reason my sleep/wake clock was all messed up on this trip (even though they are CST).  So, each morning I’d wake up too early but I’d go for a hike up to the private homes to try to find the monkeys.  I say hike because the hills were ridiculous.  And on every hike I would get the bejeezus scared out of me by a giant iguana I didn’t see until he scampered away right next to me.

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We spent the majority of our days and afternoons hanging out pool-side.  We did take a road trip to Coco Beach one morning.  This is where we got all our souvenirs in their markets.  We stayed long enough to have some snacks and drinks and headed back.  It was a good place to get our shopping done but otherwise wasn’t much.

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On Monday and Tuesday the activities people told us the waves and current were too strong for any ocean activities but on Wednesday we suited up for Stand-Up Paddleboarding.  It’s something I’ve been anxious to try for a couple years so I was happy to finally have a shot.  I have a bit of a fear regarding the ocean.  I guess I’ve watched too many nature shows with Austin!  I just don’t like not knowing what’s lurking in the sand or water around me.  But I was able to get past the fear and head out there.  Once I got over the waves coming in I was happy to be able to stand pretty quick.  Then it was a quick adjustment to figure out how to steer it and I was on my way.  Kerry and Rob also went out there with me.  Kerry also started maneuvering around right away but Rob had a bit of an issue.  He said he did not stay standing for more than a minute total.  I think he spent a lot of his time paddling on his knees.  We think now that maybe he was just too heavy for their boards.  Anyway, as we were paddling along I took a few glances into the water (it’s harder to balance if you look down) and I saw something spotted swimming below me and realized it was a sting ray.  Yikes.  I tried to tell Kerry to come over and check it out and he yelled back that he had just seen a barracuda.  That pretty much solidified my thoughts that there was no way in hell I was going to fall off the board!  I thoroughly enjoyed it and hope to try again some day.

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After paddle boarding it was time to try snorkeling.  I don’t have a good history with this.  I have been 3 times and all 3 times I have spent the rest of the night and the majority of the next day puking.  I never knew if it was due to the waves/seasickness or too much salt water, or just too much sun.  But, I think I have it figured out now.  Shelly and Kerry have very nice snorkeling gear they brought with and Shelly had been skipping paddle boarding and snorkeling because she was getting nauseous just sitting in the waves on Tuesday.  So, I used her gear and went out snorkeling for about 20-30 minutes.  Well, I decided to go back in because I didn’t think the motion was too much and I thought Shelly should go out and try it.  So, I brought the stuff back to her, told her to go out there and then I headed to the pool.  I got to the pool, laid down, and everything just started to spin.  Yuck.  I didn’t puke this time, but I’m fairly certain it’s seasickness that will keep me from a snorkeling career.   But Rob and Kerry said they saw lots of cool stuff so I’m a bit jealous.  I had Rob tell Shelly that I took back my suggestion and that she definitely should not go out there!

Most of all, we just really enjoyed hanging out and relaxing.

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Sadly, on Thursday we had to go back home.  I don’t think any of us were ready.  You know how sometimes you’re just ready to head home from a vacation?  Well, we were not.  It was just a perfect trip.  (Well, aside from Kerry’s hectic beginning).  The places we stayed were wonderful, the activities were great, the rest was great, the company was awesome….I got to practice some Spanish.  I’m looking forward to returning many times.  I know the kids are itching to go but it’ll be awhile before we take them.  I think you have to be 10 to zipline so we have at least 4 more years before Riley gets there!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Kindergarten Graduation

I’ll get back to the rest of Costa Rica in a bit, but right now I need to update everyone about Friday’s events!  Riley had her kindergarten graduation!  She officially has 4 days left, but the ceremony was Friday.

Here’s our graduate walking in:

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I think she is laughing at me because I could not find her (right in front of me).  I was not anticipating that she’d actually leave her jean  jacket on all day so I was looking for the turquoise dress, not the dark of the jacket.  Anyway, found her!

The place was packed for this event.  It was like a celebrity was in the gym with the amount of paparazzi hanging out.

They all sang their cute songs and then we snapped some pictures.

Here’s Riley with her class:

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I think this is minus a few kids.

And Riley with her grandparents:

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Austin and Ellie also came from their classes to watch the big event (but then afterwards they promptly disappeared to wander the halls talking to past teachers)

And there’s me and my baby girl:

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Rob was pretty sad to miss this but he had planned his annual trip to watch the Braves with his dad and brothers months before we ever knew the date of kindergarten graduation.  I sent him plenty of pictures and Riley and Rob are going to have a special celebration together when he gets back.

Here’s Riley with her second mom:

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She absolutely LOVES Mrs. Addler and is going to be really sad to not see her every day.

And a couple shots with some of her buddies from the year:

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And one final piece of information she shared with me directly after the program….she lost her first tooth!  I was shocked only because it only became lose the night before.  She was so excited to have a loose tooth on Thursday night she must have wiggled it non-stop.  She said at lunchtime her friends and teacher told her to twist it and she did and then she just pulled it right out!  I thought Ellie was fast with her 3 days, but Riley has set a new record!  (Austin would go months with a loose tooth).

It’s been a fun weekend.  More later on how we ended it!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Costa Rica–Day 2

 

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Since we were up at 3:00am the day before and travelled until about 4pm, we were pretty tired and all went to bed early in hopes of Kerry making it safe to our hotel.  I think I woke up at about midnight and thought…”what if he still isn’t here, had car trouble (or worse) but couldn’t get ahold of any of us because we were dead asleep”…I checked my phone and Rob’s phone, saw no missed texts/calls so I just went back to bed assuming the best.  We were happy to see him in the morning ready to go!

Our hotel in La Fortuna  (Arenal Springs Resort and Spa) was great!  La Fortuna is situated close to the Arenal volcano so the area is well known for their natural hot springs.  It’s a popular tourist stop to visit the natural springs, but I opted to find us a hotel that had it’s own springs.  I’m sure it isn’t quite as “natural” as the real thing, but they claim they leave all the natural minerals and what not in the water.  A lot of the hotels in the area are made up of many small cabins rather than one large building.  Our cabin was recently upgraded.  The main bedroom had the above spa or “personal hot springs” as the bell boy said.  I’m not sure anyone would really take the time to fill that thing up.  It was huge.  The same bedroom also had an outdoor shower, and indoor shower, another Jacuzzi in the bathroom and a large sitting area.  The adjoining room was also a nice sized room with it’s own full bath.  Hammocks for each of us and beautiful views! 

We were all up pretty early so breakfast, and coffee, was first on our list!

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Kerry cracked open this unknown (at the time) fruit to find a slimy glob of seeds.  We did ask what it was before he tried it, but even knowing what it was, I’m not sure I would have been able to eat it.  He said it was delicious (it was Passion fruit).

We had reservations for our zip-lining tour on this 2nd day.  It was about 25 minutes from our hotel and the majority of the drive is a pot-hole ridden dirt road.  Horrible conditions, but I think  Rob truly enjoyed the drive.  We had a large SUV with full coverage insurance so he took the road at a good speed and passed several cars going way too slow!

We zip-lined with Sky Adventures in Arenal.  Here are the stats on the zip lines:

  • Sky Tram: 4100 ft. (1250 m.)
  • Zip Lines: 8
  • The longest cable is 2493 ft. (760 m.)
  • The highest cable is 656 ft. (200 m.)
  • Duration: 2.5 Hour Tour
  • Located in the Rain Forest
  • Average Temperature: 82 °F. (28 °C.)
  • Wind Speeds: Up to 10 mi/h (16 km/h)
  • Altitude: 2460 ft. (750 m.)

A brief safety lesson and we were on our way!

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First we take a tram up to the top.  I tried to use my mad Spanish skillz with the guide, but was only half successful.  I realized that for the most part I am understood, but then they rattle something off back to me in Spanish and I get lost in the first few words.  It’s still fun to try.

Here’s a picture of all of us after the first real cable (there is a small practice one before a crazy plunge over the ravine).  The guy taking our picture couldn’t stop shaking.  Interestingly enough, Rob actually had a work connection with him.  Rob always find someone he knows…and although he didn’t “know” this guy, it still counts in my book. 

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Last time I was at this place they told me they were making a bar towards the end of the zip line tour.  I thought they were joking since the guides tend to make a lot of jokes.  But, they weren’t because this time they  had the bar.  As of now they were just offering us some fruit juices, but it was cool anyway, a good place for a photo op I guess.

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Careful not to take a big step back!

It would be fun to take some pictures while ziplinging but I would be way to scared of dropping my camera.  But, the views are absolutely amazing.  And, we got a rare glimpse of the top of the volcano while we were there.

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We all thoroughly enjoyed the zip-lines!  We headed back to the town of La Fortuna afterwards to walk around a bit and grab a bite to eat.  Shelly took another great picture of the volcano over the town.

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After all the excitement it was great to go back to the hotel and relax in the hot springs.  We had some sushi poolside and I made friends with the waitress who didn’t speak much English….more Spanish practice.  Everyone we met in Costa Rica was very nice and helpful.  Pura Vida!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Costa Rica–Day 1

Back in February, when we were enjoying our vacation to Florida (rough life, I know!), Rob’s sister, Shelly, proposed another trip to us.  Costa Rica!  I believe the conversation went like this: “Do you guys want to go to Costa Rica?” and before knowing any details I immediately answered “Yes!”.  And once we had the details, it just got better.  One of Shelly’s friends from medical school has a time-share type arrangement with the Four Seasons in Costa Rica.  His family lives there for 2 months every year so that their children can attend summer school in a nearby city  and work on their fluency in Spanish.  Well, this year they were unable to make it for the first week of their allotted time so he offered it (free!) to Shelly and Kerry!  It is a three bedroom, giant, beautiful condo and the Affield’s offered for us to join them.  To sweeten the deal and make the decision easy, Rob had enough frequent flyer miles to get us free flights.  Combine this with the enormous help from both sets of grandparents and we were on our way!   We left May 1st and stayed until May 7th.

Originally, we weren’t sure if the condo was going to be available until Sunday, and we were arriving Friday, so we made plans to travel inland before ending our trip at the Four Seasons.  This is the same thing I did last time I went to Costa Rica.  And, I would do it again.  We flew into the Liberia airport and then traveled east to the middle of Costa Rica.  The middle region is a lot more lush and tropical.  Like a rainforest.  Unfortunately, the drive is horrible.

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The road conditions are actually pretty good.  For the most part, they are well paved.  But, they are tiny.  Two lanes the whole way (no shoulders), and what this map fails to show is the constant hair pin curves as you wind your way through the rainforest.  And it seems that after every hairpin curve is a one-way bridge.  Sometimes, there are just random road blocks cemented into the ground with a warning a mere 10 feet before the block.  And to add to the chaos, there are random animals:

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Right before the driving got really bad, which coincides with the lake, we stopped for lunch….and margaritas!

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It’s the same place I stopped a few years ago when I made the drive.  Creature of habit I guess!  But the food was delicious, and so was the margarita.

We only stopped one other time for a picture of the lake.  I have to say though, pictures never do the view justice.

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Everything is so lush and green in this area.  Quite a contrast from the coastal towns.

I think it ended up taking Rob about 3.5-4 hours to make the drive.  He did an excellent job navigating it all, it would have taken us much longer with me behind the wheel!

And here’s why Kerry is not in any of the pictures.  While the Affield’s were packing their bags on Thursday night, Shelly happened to glance at the passports before she packed them up and realized that Kerry’s was expired!  It was 10pm and their flight left at 6am the next morning.  I can only imagine how that all unfolded but, in the end, Kerry flew to Atlanta with Shelly as planned.  Once in Atlanta they parted ways.  Shelly came with us to Costa Rica and Kerry headed downtown to the Atlanta passport office.  He had made an appointment online the night before for 10am.  He said the place was busy but within 4 hours he had a new passport.  He then changed his flight (for the second time) to fly into the San Jose airport and arrived there at 7:40pm.  He then hired a private taxi to make that horrible drive, in the pitch dark, to La Fortuna, where we were.  He said his taxi driver made the drive in less than 2 and half hours.  That would be insane.  But, he made it to us at 10:30 that night.  Amazing. 

Day 2 coming up….