October 9, 2016


I (Cassie) have now been back in Minnesota for seven weeks.  It is hard to believe that I have not eaten at a fritanga, sweated profusely walking the streets of Managua or given an "abrazo" to my neighbor in almost two months.  Life here has been busy, and full of transition, however it is a good place to be.  I thought I would share with you the things that I am loving about life here and the things that I am missing about life there.  I tell Estela each and every day that it is okay to love two places at once, and it is okay to be sad about being far from Nicaragua.

Things I Am Loving:

  • Speaking Spanish every day - My new job has me working and interacting with many Spanish speaking students and families and for this I am so thankful.
  • Salads - Kale, arugula, chard, lettuce, spinach - Each of these were very difficult to find in Nicaragua and so we are very much enjoying them here.
  • Being with my family - It is sooo nice to be close again after five years of living apart.  This week, we celebrated my dad's birthday and it was so great to share these moments in person.
  • Time with Estela - After spending each and every day together last year in Nicaragua, this year has been a big adjustment with a full-time job and school.  While I am very happy at my job, I love when the end of the day rolls around and we can spend time together.
  • Skype, facetime, facebook calls - Each of these technological resources have allowed us to continue to connect with our friends in Nicaragua.
  • Amazon Prime - While one click can be very dangerous, I very much appreciate that I don't have to spend time running errands after work.  I still need to look into the ecological impact of this service.
  • The ease of cleaning - We spent hours each day maintaining our home in Nicaragua, laundry also took up a lot of our time.  These tasks are much more manageable here.
  • A bike friendly community – We love being back on the saddle after five years.  Biking in Managua was nearly impossible, so commuting to work on our bikes is a dream!
  • Libraries – These places are incredible resources.  We have already logged in several hours and plan to make a weekly visit.

Things I Am Missing:

  • The heat - Minnesota has been cold, I keep reminding myself that this is only October, it is only going to get worse.
  • Street food - Eating in Nicaragua was sooo easy and sooo yummy.  I miss stepping out my front door and grabbing a bite to eat.
  • Daily Interactions - Estela comments each day that the streets here are so empty compared to Nicaragua.  We miss walking out our door and saying good morning as we walk up and down the streets.
  • The water - While we are now in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, I really do miss the ocean.
  • Busses - I loved hopping on, zoning out and looking at the beautiful land.
  • Daily Pace - As much as we have tried to simplify our life, and have been hesitant on making regular ongoing commitments, the demands and pace of life are much faster here.
  • Sharing life with others – This is similar to daily interactions, but in Nicaragua it is almost impossible to not be dependent on others.  Life requires individuals to depend on each other and thus, you have very regular interactions with those around you.  I miss hopping into a taxi and hearing the drivers perspective on the current political situation or sharing lunch each day with my co-workers.  If I needed gas for the stove, I had to go and find a neighbor.  If I needed to make a phone call, I had to go and buy recarga from the corner store vender.
  • Misa Campesina Church – In Managua, we attended a service each Sunday that beautifully incorporated Jesus’ message of peace, social justice and caring for our neighbor.  We miss that space.

September 29, 2016

One Year Together!

There really are no words.  At 3:45pm last year, our lives changed forever with a phone call.  At 4:50pm, we met one another for the very first time.  At 5:00pm, we played on the park for the first time together.  At 5:25pm, we took our first family photos and at 5:45, we went home as a family of three.

There were many days this year that were filled with uncertainty, we are so grateful that part is over.  Every day with Estela has been filled with laughter and joy, with learning and loving.  This little girl has changed us forever and we are so thankful for her beautiful presence and spirit.

Today we will celebrate with some of her favorites: sushi, swimming and dessert!


We love you sweet Estela!

September 15, 2016

Back in Minnesota

It has been four weeks since we have all been in Minnesota together.  Here is a video that shows Estela and Kevin's arrival which was kindly made and given to us by our friend Mandy.  They arrived the same night that the Gold winning Women's Olympic Basketball players arrived, so it was quite a welcoming!


Since then we have been celebrating and been transitioning to life in Minnesota.  Kevin started to work as a Social Studies teacher at Washburn High School.  He is teaching geography courses as well as an African American Studies course.  Both present different challenges related to class size and that fact that he is a white male teaching a class on African American Culture.  Overall though things are going well as Kevin is enjoying his work and is very much glad to be back at Washburn.  I (Cassie) am working as a Social Worker at Ramsey Middle School.  While it is a new area of Social Work and a big learning curve, I am so enjoying the work, my interactions with students and my ability to use Spanish.  Estela is spending her mornings at a Montessori school and reports that things are going well.  There she is learning new skills everyday, including how to squeeze her own mandarin juice, sing new songs and interact with her peers.  We are enjoying our time with family and friends, as well as exploring the community around us.  We have spent a lot of time outside on our bikes, at parks and running around the lakes.  Life seems full, but we trust it will slow down.

We think about Nicaragua every day.  We communicate with our friends there on a daily basis and we are wondering how to best maintain these relationships.  We miss the food, the heat (some of us), the lifestyle and the people.  It will be a long process, but we are encouraged by the community that we have made along the way.

We have the intention of continually writing in this space.  So come back soon!

September 7, 2016

A Letter To My Bicultural Daughter

Photo Aug 04, 7 49 13 AM

Estela Maryuri,

Your papito and I started to talk about you over ten years ago.  We started the process of finding you five years ago.  Eleven months ago you entered our home and our hearts and just this past week we are now officially a family.  Throughout all of this time, I have often dreaded the day that we will leave Nicaragua and move to the United States.  I know that this doesn’t make a lot of sense, especially after our long in-country adoption process, but it grieves me to think about taking you away from almost everything you know.

In Minnesota, we will not be able to walk across the street and buy fresh tortillas for breakfast each morning.  Much to my chagrin, you will probably eat cereal or toast for the first time, never a pop tart though.  For dinnertime, it will be more challenging to make gallo pinto, although I will do my best to find us red beans.

When we leave for school and work in the morning, you will not see horses and oxen walking down the street with their carts.  There won’t be people walking across the street or waiting at bus stops.  Instead, you will most likely see big box stores and interstate.  There are also a lot of lakes and green trees. 

When you are going to bed at night, you won’t hear loud music blaring from your neighbors next door or wake up to all of the neighborhood dogs barking at each other.  It will most likely be still and quiet.  I can turn on the fan if you need a little noise.

You will no longer sweat 365 days of the year.  You will experience a more drastic change of seasons, you will feel cold for the very first time.

All of these changes are bittersweet.  I so wish that I could keep everything the same for you, raise you in this beautiful country where you will always hear your first language and be surrounded by other Pinoleros, the incredible people of Nicaragua.

Adoption is full of loss.  While we have all gained so much, there is still so much loss.

I do not doubt your resilience in the transition.  I am confident that you will grow by leaps and bounds. 

However, in advance I want to apologize for not being able to keep you in your home country.  Know that I will do everything to help you maintain connections to this place.  We will visit often.  We will communicate regularly with the people that are so dear to us.  We will find ways to continuing eating tajadas and baho and queso fresco.  We will continue to speak Spanish with one another and continue to develop relationships with Spanish speakers in Minnesota.  We will put up art in our home that represents and depicts Nicaragua.  You will always have a piñata at your birthday party and I will sing you Las Mañanitas on your birthday morning.  I look forward to learning and growing with you, know that I am with you each step of the way.