October 27, 2016

Estela is 4!

On September 24, 2016 we celebrated Estela’s birthday for the first time as a family.  When asked what kind of party she wanted to have, she excitedly said a party with farm animals.  Estela’s first few years of life were spent in a very rural part of Nicaragua, which is known for its dairy and cattle.  She has better horse riding skills than I will ever have.  Estela has been excited about vacas, caballos and chanchos since the day that we met her, so we thought it would be a fun theme to go with.  We tried to avoid the traditional red checkered farm look and instead went with pinks and golds, pallets, hay bales and a lot of flowers!


We planned for the party to be outdoors and hoped for a sunny day, the weather worked in our favor and we had a great afternoon celebrating.  When guests arrived, they got into their attire.  The kids came with farm animal shirts, my amazing mom sewed cow bibs for each of the babies and we made party hats for all of our guests.


Kevin was in charge of the dessert table.  He made a variety of fun treats including cow spotted rice krispies, a chocolate espresso stout cake and a giant cow cupcake cake.  There was also horse manure and cow tails for people to try.


We set the yard up with a variety of fall activities.  We didn’t have a full petting zoo, but some of our friends brought their rabbits.  There were coloring and art projects available for all.  We also played a variety of games, including a relay which involved parent and child cooperation.

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Kids got to pick a farm animal from the fenced pen and adults went home with a homemade sheep soap made by my special aunt.


In Nicaragua, no party is complete without a piñata.  We brought a pig piñata back from Nicaragua for Estela and she was excited to share this tradition with her friends and cousins.


Kevin made her a special cake to enjoy at the end of the party.  Per custom in Nicaragua, she wanted her face pushed into the cake while she was blowing out the candles. 


We had a great day celebrating four years of life for Estela.  We are so grateful that she is our daughter and that we get to experience life with her each and every day.  Thank-you to our family and friends for celebrating with us!


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Party Supplies:

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.