December 20, 2016

Life Lately

The last time I (Cassie) wrote a life lately, it was June.  Much has changed since then.  Often days, it feels like so much, it is hard to bridge these two very different lives.  We think and talk about Nicaragua each and every day.  There are so many things that we miss – the ocean, fritanga, riding the bus, sweating all day, laid back life, our work, but most of all the people.  We are so grateful for facetime, skype, whatsapp and facebook.  Because of these applications, we are able to stay in touch with many people that we love.  Life on this side looks so different, here is a glimpse of our life lately.


Our friends Marcelo and Isaac came to visit us in Minnesota for a weekend.  They are from Estelí, Nicaragua and were working in agriculture in Ohio before returning to Nicaragua at the end of November.  We so appreciated our time with them, showing them around Minnesota, eating good food, speaking Spanish, conversing and laughing.


Street Art on Lake Street in Minneapolis.  It reminds me a bit of the beautiful murals that cover the streets of Nicaragua.

Photo Oct 30, 1 31 33 PM

We spent a weekend up at my parents’ cabin with some friends that go back to Junior High.  We love this crew!


Estela loved playing in the leaves this fall.  Unfortunately, there are no more.

Photo Nov 16, 6 30 16 PM

Recently, we ate some amazing comida Nicaragüense at our friend Jacquelyn’s house.  We are so grateful to have found this friendship here in Minnesota.


Estela is seeing lakes freeze for the very first time.  Even so, we are missing our Nicaraguan temps.

Photo Nov 24, 5 15 47 PM

We love this little turkey!


While we were in Sioux Falls for Thanksgiving, we ate at Jacky’s Restaurant which serves delicious Guatemalan food.  Estela was so happy to find legit crema, which we bought a gallon of, brought home and she has happily been eating it ever since.


Cousin picture!  These four love being together.


We saw real reindeer.  I think it was my first time too!


Estela and Kevin cutting down our family Christmas tree.


We spent a weekend up north in Nisswa with friends and made a big batch of lefse.  Yum! 

Check back soon for a Christmas update!  Best wishes this season.  Be present over perfect!

December 13, 2016


Chi-Town, My Town, The Second City, The Windy City, The City of Big Shoulders…

Back in October, Estela and I took a girls road trip to Chicago with our friends Mandy and Maya.  We went over a longer school break (go teacher schedule!) and enjoyed time exploring the city, eating delicious food and being with family and friends.  Here is a little recap:

Photo Oct 19, 7 59 50 AM

Pre 7 hour road trip, excited to get on the road.


We stayed with family in Wheaton upon our arrival which required a trip to the Popcorn Shop.


Estela loved filling up her bag with candy!


We spent a few nights in downtown Chicago, this awesome brick wall was right outside our hotel.


It was fun to be on public transportation again after being away from Managua.

Photo Oct 21, 4 46 22 PM

Full days of seeing the city meant taking naps on the bus.


Estela enjoyed her first Dim Sum in Chinatown, it was delicious!


We took our obligatory pictures in front of The Bean.

Photo Oct 21, 5 17 59 PM

Did you know that The Bean’s official name is Cloud Gate?  I did not.


We spent some time at Maggie Daly Park, which was incredible and definitely worth a visit.


We enjoyed the Chicago skyline.  Now whenever Estela sees a large building, she asks if we are in Chicago.


One night, Estela and I went to the top of the Sears Tower, which is now known as the Willis Tower.  They recently built 360 degree observation decks, Estela was brave enough to walk out, however I was a bit hesitant.


Cool street art = Photo opportunity

Photo Oct 20, 9 30 04 PM

We found Estela’s Mini Market!

Photo Oct 22, 1 54 31 PM

We took a wonderful architecture boat tour through downtown Chicago and learned all sorts of fascinating facts, which I have already forgotten.

Photo Oct 22, 3 39 30 PM

We walked Magnificent Mile and did not buy a thing!


A mutual friend is starting up a photography business and offered to take a few pictures of Estela.  We love how they turned out!

Photo Oct 22, 5 34 49 PM

On our last afternoon, we visited Irazu, a Costa Rican restaurant in Chicago.  We were able to eat gallo pinto, maduro, tortilla, queso fresco – it almost felt like we were back in Nicaragua!

Thanks again Chicago for a great visit.  We will be back soon!

December 2, 2016

First Snow


When Estela first saw the giant white flakes falling from the sky through the picture window her eyes grew. She turned, and with an inquisitive smile and a twinkle in her eye, said one small word: ¿nieve?! Her mom and I had told her about these flakes that fall from the sky, a phenomenon that will never happen in Nicaragua because of the heat. I do not have the scientific vocabulary in Spanish to explain what is happening exactly, but Estela knows that the snow is just like rain and that someday when it gets even colder (which I think she might have a hard time imagining) she will be able to walk on the lake when the water becomes ice!


Estela's first snow was little more than a wet dusting. Enough to turn our world white and wash away the greens and fall colors left behind. Soon we had out the sleds careening down the small hill that is currently our front lawn. We went down together, Estela went down herself in all sorts of manners; on her back, on her stomach, backwards, and no hands, with mom, with dad and with mom and dad. The joy was overflowing. Soon we made snow angels, the three of us lying in the white powder moving our arms and legs up and down, up and down as we created the image in the snow. Then we were off to make a snowman. Rolling up three balls of the joyful stuff in appropriate sizes and then fitting it with sticks for arms and rocks to make out buttons, eyes and a nose. Then we were back to the hill for more sledding.


Estela loved it. She loved every minute of it. After more than an hour we thought it was time to go inside, to warm up with some hot chocolate and soup, but Estela was not ready. She was mesmerized by her boot prints and together we walked leaving our mark in the snow behind us as we past. Her small feet leaving little marks as she compared them to her mom and dads. Throughout it all Estela's tongue was out. She was catching the flakes and loving it, telling us that they were sweet and that she was excited for this new adventure into her new world of snow and angles and sleds! 


November 22, 2016


A year of change, a year of unknowns, a year of turns and twists, joys and sorrows. Now we are here, then we were there. A life turned upside down, a year turned inside out. And yet, thankfulness remains, a constant in our lives and for our lives as we think of all the wonderful blessings and joys that outweigh any of the tears and struggles. So thanks to another year, for the wonder and the dreams of all that is to come in the next.


“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”  - G. K. Chesterton

November 15, 2016

Cousins // Primas

For almost a year you talked over the phone together, you stared at one another on Skype as you all sat at the table (normally eating) and listened to adult conversation, usually greeting one another with a kiss or a wave of the hand.  You all just wanted to play, to run, skip and hop.  Now you are finally all together enjoying life in the great outdoors and exploring our wonderful world together.  May you all enjoy a lifetime of happy memories and friendship together!


Estela spent her first night in Minnesota reading books with Ceanna and Abuelo.


Annika and Estela picking strawberries together!


Ceanna, Estela and Ivy looking spiffy in their matching dresses and bows.


Estela with the Van Stryland cousins on a horse and buggy ride.


E for Estela and I for Ivy!


Estela will have one more Van Stryland cousin this spring!


The girls hanging out at the cabin.


These two love being together!


Ivy and Estela exploring the great north woods together.


We look forward to making many memories together!


Halloween 2016 – Bumblebees and a Horse


Hanging out at Palisade Head.


Friends and Cousins Forever!