January 25, 2016

Our New Place

Late last month, we left our amazing home in Tierra Prometida and moved a couple of kilometers to the east.  We were hoping that we would not have to move, but after offering double the rent and almost everything we own, the home owner said that he just really wanted his home back.  We understood and decided to move back to Tres Ochenta, where we first lived with our host family when we arrived in 2011.  We live right next door and enjoy sharing our days together. 

Pros – Living close to our good friends Pedro, Gretel and her kiddos, Tortilla vendor directly in front of our home, Central location, Second story is cool and breezy, New and clean bathroom, Open design, Smaller meaning much less to clean, 3 minute walk to our favorite sushi joint and pool

Cons – Open design leads to a lot of dust in the house, Less security, No place to hang a hammock, Kitchen design, Miss our old neighbors, No garden, Far from our favorite fritanga, Ant problems

We thought we would share a few pictures of our second floor apartment.  Enjoy!

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This is a view from below.  We are up on the second floor.

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Come up the steps and see our new place.


Brisa hanging out in our brightly painted living room.  This was not my choice for wall color, and sadly Brisa is no longer with us.  The neighbors below have nine dogs (no joke, some are newly born puppies) and a mean cat and Brisa was very anxious living here.  We gave her to our old neighbor who is taking very good care of her.  We do miss her though!


Kevin getting breakfast ready in our kitchen.  We miss our old kitchen as it had excessive amounts of counter space.  We now find ourselves sitting and cutting things on the floor.


Here I am hanging up our laundry.  You can see our neighbor’s roof on the other side.  Being up high gives us a cool breeze, but can also lead to a lot of dust.

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Cloth diapering, they dry very quickly in the direct sunlight.


Our water tank.  This is a definite plus for when the city water goes out.

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This is the view out of our front gate.  Thanks for reading.  Come and visit anytime!

January 18, 2016


The best part of waking up is coffee in your cup!  When I (Kevin) was growing up there was an often played commercial for a national branded coffee company which featured this little jingle.  Go ahead and sing it!

Cassie, Estela and I, along with our friends and family, have enjoyed hiking through the coffee fields before the bright red beans were harvested this year.  I did not have the opportunity to do any harvesting this year but it was a joy to walk through the farms, see the process play itself out and enjoy a few fresh and marvelous cups of coffee!

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January 13, 2016

Favorite Reads from 2015

I (Cassie) really enjoy lying in a hammock, ice-cold water in hand, with a book.  The amount of time I am able to read has changed a bit since the arrival of Estela, but I am still flipping pages and making my way through books.  She and I also read a lot together, but the books are a bit shorter and the content is quite different!

For the past few years, I have kept an ongoing list of the books that I have read in a word document.  As I was browsing through the list to write this post, I realized that I did not enjoy a lot of the books that I read this year, so the list is a bit shorter from last years list.  But I hope that you enjoy some of my favorites and I am looking forward to reading some great books in 2016.

The Girl on a Train by Paula Hawkins - Intersecting, overlapping, not-quite-what-they-seem lives.  The story is told from three character’s not-to-be-trusted perspectives.  I devoured this book in a couple of days.

Accidental Saints by Nadia Bolz-Weber – Bolz-Webber shares stories of herself and her congregation of how God works through imperfect people.  I was unsure if I would find this book to be too similar to her first, but I was pleased to find new and touching stories of how God is working in our world.

Parenting from the Inside Out by Daniel Siegel and Mary Hartzell – This book explores the extent to which our childhood experiences shape the way we parent.  Drawing on stunning new findings in neurobiology and attachment research, the authors explain how interpersonal relationships directly impact the development of the brain, and offer parents a step-by-step approach to forming a deeper understanding of their own life stories, which will help them raise compassionate and resilient children.  This was an excellent read as a brand-new parent.

Rising Strong by Brene Brown - Social worker Brené Brown has ignited a global conversation on courage, vulnerability, shame, and worthiness.  Rising Strong is a book of stories about people being brave, falling down and rising back up.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes – They had nothing in common until love gave them everything to lose.  My heart was not ready for this beautiful and unexpected love story.  It may cause you to question your beliefs on euthanasia.

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell – Don’t let the stigma of “books for teens” fool or deter you. Eleanor and Park is written about teens, sure, but the themes are so universal that anyone.  This is another love story that had me crying.


January 6, 2016

December Wrap-Up


We had a wonderful holiday season here in Nicaragua.  It all started in early December with La Purisima and La Griteria.  The whole month is full of parties, happiness, traditions and religious practices.  There are massive processions, Christmas lights that light up the country and a whole lot of fireworks.

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In early December, I (Cassie) headed to Breckenridge, Colorado for the Gogolen wedding.  My sister married the man of her dreams and I was so proud to stand beside them on their special day.


While I was in Colorado, Kevin and Estela celebrated La Purisma and La Griteria with our neighbors.  We also went to La Avenida Bolivar several times throughout the month to walk the street and see the manger scenes.  They line the street for a couple of kilometers, there are Christmas lights everywhere, loud music, vendors selling their goods and overall, just a great way to spend an evening.


We celebrated Sinterklaas, a Dutch holiday, a few days late.  Kevin is 100% Dutch, so this is something that we have done together for the past few years.  I am unsure if we celebrate it properly, but for us it involves leaving our shoes out the night before and having them filled with an orange, Dutch chocolates and other candies.  Estela seemed to enjoy it, mostly due to the sweets!  We didn’t celebrate my Swedish holiday of Santa Lucia, but will make sure to do that next year.


A lot of holiday baking happened in our kitchen this year.  We spent several late evenings in the kitchen baking our favorite treats.

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Estela and I backpacked a couple hours north via bus to Esteli to celebrate Christmas with our close friends who live there.  Kevin joined us later in the week and we enjoyed a special Christmas dinner with them.

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After our time in Esteli, we continued on an old school bus to one of our favorite places in Nicaragua, Miraflor.  We had not visited in over a year, so I decided to give this trip to Kevin as a part of his Christmas present.  We enjoyed two very cold nights, amist the cloud forest and beautiful terrain.

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A couple of days before Christmas, we held a Barrio Christmas Party for all of the kids.  We had over fifty kids show up, ranging in age from a couple of months to sixteen years old.  It was a chaotic, but joyful couple of hours.  We played BINGO, colored manger scenes, made reindeer ornaments, ate Baho, smacked a piñata and shared gifts.  We already miss these kids!

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Our Christmas Eve was very special.  We had coffee and dessert with friends, Estela enjoyed drinking her warm milk.  Afterwards we headed over to our friend Rodolfo’s home.  We spent a couple of hours there hanging out with his family, listening to Christmas music in Spanish and trying out their traditional relleno.  We then went to our host family Gretel’s home for the rest of the evening.  This included a special dinner at midnight, gifts, laughter and lots of fireworks.

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Christmas Day involved sleeping in (my dream come true), a special breakfast made by Kevin (recipes from my mom), stockings, reading the Christmas story, gifts, naps, a delicious Italian dinner and the new Charlie Brown movie.  It was the perfect day together as a family of three!

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Blessings to you in this New Year!

*Because we are currently in the adoption process and are not yet legal parents of Estela, we are not able to share any identifying pictures of her.  We can assure you that she is adorable!