May 26, 2014

Glimpses of Nicaraguan Food

Cassie and I love the food here in Nicaragua and for that we are very thankful as we imagine that life would be more challenging if we did not. Of course there are many food items that remind us of home and we do make the occasional purchase of products imported from the States. However, generally we have enjoyed our adventure into Nicaraguan cuisine; so come along for the ride!

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The basics and staples are sold in bulk in our local market. There are many varieties of rice, corn and beans to choose from as long as a host of spices and nuts. The national dish gallo pinto (rice and beans), from market to pot.

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Even though we don’t eat a lot of meat, Nicaraguans do it quite well. We also find ourselves living the closest to the ocean than we ever have. On Tuesdays we usually head to our market to have our pick of the local and fresh catch.

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Coffee, from farm to cup. I have spent time working in the coffee fields, continue to roast our own beans for personal consumption and both Cassie and I have taken every opportunity to visit the coffee plantations and taste the various varieties available in Nicaragua.

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Fresh fruits and vegetables, which we not only love to eat, but also love to juice and make into smoothies. Not only do we have the opportunity to try many fruits that we have never had available to us, but we are also getting to enjoy some of the freshest, flavorful fruit in our lives.

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Nothing hits the spot on a hot day like a cold Ice-cream — okay I was eating an ice cream every day (its hot here!) until my jeans started to shrink. I have cut back, but we also have discovered Helados Jinotepinos, a gem of a creamery that has been serving up a cool cream since the 40’s. Our favorite flavors are coffee and almond.

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Street food is always tempting as you walk and smell the different flavors of the street. From full meals to snacks, they serve it all.  Pictured are some typical Nicaraguan street food: Raspados (think snow cone but with flavors you most likely have never thought about when thinking about snow cones) and Tajadas (platanos sliced thin, fried and then served with pickled cabbage and cheese).

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To finish this off, our all time favorite, the quesillo which consists of tortilla, pickled onions, sour cream, Nicaraguan cheese and salt.  We add a bit of chili and it is delicious.

May 22, 2014

Sister Visit

Before Cassie and I left for Nicaragua my sister suggested that we take family photos. During our photo shoot my sister shared with us that she wanted to take these pictures for two reasons; she feared that we would never again have the opportunity to take another family photo, and because she wanted something to remember us by because she would not be visiting us in Nicaragua.

Thankfully both of my sister’s fears have been mitigated as family pictures were once again taken and Carrie and Carl came for a visit this past April. We very much enjoyed and appreciated their visit and are already thinking about when we will get to see them again. I have included some of the highlights of their visit for your enjoyment.

There were a bunch of firsts during this trip as we visited a live volcano, Carrie and Carl swam in the ocean together for the first time, Carl and I got our picture taken with a guy with a gun, and Carrie had her first ever fresh coconut!  They also experienced their first earthquake, but we don’t have any pictures of that.


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We took in many of the sights of Nicaragua and were happy to be greeted by some of the more hard to find inhabitants in the country and many of the beautiful picturesque moments. One morning we came across a family of monkeys by the beach and a host of crabs heading back into the ocean. We also spent our evenings watching the sun go down and took in many of the historical sights.





We enjoyed introducing them to our friends and family here, while soaking up the time that we had with them.  It was a great time and we will always remember the many memories that we were able to create and will always share. We miss you Carrie and Carl!



May 11, 2014

Taking Stock

I (Cassie) have seen this format go around on the internet world and thought it might be fun to share a perspective from Latin America.  I saw this here and I believe the original post can be found here.

Making: Decorations for a Baby Shower that we are hosting in a couple of weeks for our neighbors.

Cooking:  Anything with camotes (sweet potatoes).  For the past couple of months I have been obsessed with a wonderful recipe that includes coconut oil from the coast, camotes and a variety of spices.  Yum!

Drinking: A lot of water!  We are currently taking deparasyte medications and we are supposed to drink a gallon of water a day.  Lately, I have especially enjoyed adding cucumbers to my water.

Reading: Paperbacks and my Kindle.  Just finished The Things that Matter by Nate Berkus and I am onto This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett.

Wanting: More time in the day and more sleep at night.

Looking: At the newly paved road in our neighborhood, we hope that our dirt road is next.

Playing: With the neighborhood kids, they have been super into a game called "Arriba."

Wishing: I could make a trip home to visit two of my favorite ladies and their new baby girls.  I would also like to surprise visit my mom and mother in law on this Mothers Day.

Enjoying: The introduction to rainy season in Managua.

Liking: A new podcast called Radio Ambulante.  It is similar to NPR's, This American Life, but in Spanish.

Wondering: When we will receive our adoption call and how this next year will play out.

Loving: All of the fresh and juicy watermelon that we can find at our local market.  We can finish a whole one each day!

Hoping: To slow down and create more down time in my day to day life.

Marveling: At the way that I have grown and changed over the past couple of years here in Nicaragua.  I am so grateful for this opportunity!

Needing: A better attitude about public transportation.  Sometimes I really dread riding the bus!

Smelling: A plate of fresh tostones cooked by my neighbor for Kevin's birthday.

Wearing: A dress, they are lifesavers in this heat.

Following: The new app for El Nuevo Diario.  I find that I am reading a lot more Nicaraguan news, which was a goal of mine for this year.

Noticing: That the dust is subsiding and I don't have to wipe down my counters as often.

Knowing: That each day is precious after hearing news of a friend here who has terminal cancer and only six months to live.

Thinking: About my trip to Bluefields, Laguna de Perlas and Kukra River in this upcoming week.  It will be exhausting, but I am looking forward to the work as well as the people that I will meet.

Feeling: Fortunate to stay an extra year in Nicaragua.  Our end-term date will now be December of 2015.

Bookmarking: Lots of pages in the Storyline Workbook by Donald Miller.  We are completing the module course with a small group of friends here.  It is thought-provoking, challenging, but so helpful.

Opening: My front gate and sharing our lives with the community around us.

Giggling: At silly political videos my dad sends me via e-mail.  I am not sure that we will ever "agree" with one another.

May 5, 2014

Our Adoption Timeline

We wanted to share the timeline of our Nicaraguan adoption and the different steps we have taken to get where we are.  We will admit that it has been a lot of work, but step by step, it has not felt too overwhelming.  We know that it will all be worth it in the end!

2005-2012 - Talked and talked about the possibility of adoption “someday.”

August 15, 2012 - Met with Jessica, an adoptive mom living in Nicaragua and she provided us with some wonderful resources.  We began following up with recommended lawyers to see how we could proceed in the process.

August 18, 2012 - Celebrated our five year anniversary at a fancy hotel and wrote our first letters to our future child(ren).

August 27, 2012 - We began our residency process as we were hoping to proceed domestically in Nicaragua due to lower financial costs.

December 13, 2012 - We find out that proceeding as residents may not be the best option due to a law that requires three years after placement in country with the child.  We would love to stay here for three more years, but are not guaranteed that our work will keep us here for that amount of time.

December 14, 2012 - We contact a possible agency in MN to see if they can assist us with a home study during our visit home.  They say yes!

December 2012-January 2013 – While home for three weeks, we complete our home study appointments and paperwork.  It is crazy busy, but very worth it.

February-March 2013 – We spend a couple of months completing grant applications and hope that this hard work will pay off.

April 10, 2013 – Our home study is officially approved.

March-April 2013 – We have several adoption meetings with lawyers and orphanages to further understand the adoption process in Nicaragua.

April 15, 2013 – We send off dossier to the Nicaraguan consulate in Miami.

May 6, 2013 – We receive back authenticated and certified documents from the Nicaraguan Consulate.

June 4, 2013 – We have an appointment with Carolina who we later decide will be our lawyer. She reviews the process with us and provides information for next steps. We hand in our paperwork to the translator, Katherine.

June 5, 2013 – We have an appointment at the Nicaragua Supreme Court to get the official seals on our paperwork for the Nicaraguan side.

July 19, 2013 – We receive back USCIS – I-600A approval from the U.S. Government.

July 23, 2013 - We receive translated documents from Katherine, our translator. 

July 25, 2013 – We have an appointment at Mi Familia to review our documents. We meet for a couple of hours and a Social Worker looks over all of our papers. She informs us of two changes that we need to make, but otherwise lets us know that we are almost done!

August 1, 2013 - We are grateful to be back in the States for weddings as we have two more documents to finalize.

August 27, 2013 - We receive the final notary translations.

September 5, 2013 - We have our final paperwork meeting with Mi Familia to turn in our documents. We have everything in order and receive a “Constancia” document stating that everything has been turned in for final review and acceptance.

November 28, 2013 - We were officially approve by the Mi Family Consejo to adopt two children in Nicaragua. We are thrilled and one step closer to meeting our future kids!

January 30, 2014 - We receive our first call with a proposal of a sibling group of three. It was hard to say no, but we felt like it was best for our family and look forward to another call.

February 7, 2014 - We met with our Social Worker, Marisela to review our desires and hopes in finding our future kids. We had a very positive meeting with her and look forward to future work with her.

April 16, 2014 - Our one-year home study update is completed. This involved conversations with our Social Worker, resubmitting fingerprints and additional education hours.

Currently – We are waiting for a match!