Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Losing our kitten Tibbs

This is Mike...
Though we knew the day could come, it was still very difficult to finally let go. Last week we noticed blood in Tibbs' liquid food and decided to take her to the vet. Because of lock jaw, Tibbs had not opened her mouth in well over a month and her gums and teeth were deteriorating. We opted to do an X-ray to see if there was anything that we could do for her. The X-ray confirmed that Tibbs' upper and lower jaws were fusing together and the lower jaw was actually twisting as well. Our vet said our cat was most likely in severe pain and recommended putting her down. We scheduled Tibbs to be put to sleep several days later so that our kids could absorb the loss of their lovely playful kitty.
   On the morning of Tibbs' final day Zoe was so strong and said she wanted to go to the vet and hold Tibbs' paw while she was being put to sleep. Elise and I asked Zoe if she was sure and she replied, "That's what a mom would do for her child, right?" The tears rolled down everyone's cheeks. We were so proud of Zoe but also realized that if this was handled the wrong way, she could be scarred for life. We watched Zoe wrestle with Tibbs and asked her what she was doing and she replied, "I am not letting Tibbs sleep right now because she's going to have the rest of her life to sleep."
   As the long, sad, heartbreaking moment came for Tibbs to go the vet, the girls asked for more time, just one more day with Tibbs, while sobbing. There we were, in our front room, I was holding Tibbs and my kids were so overcome with emotions that they dropped to the floor and eventually laid face down on the tiles wailing, wishing this would not happen. We asked Zoe if she wanted to go, but this time let her know it would not be easy. She sadly asked between her sniffles and gasps for air, "What should I do? I don't know what to do." Elise and I said, "We think you and Sierra should say good by to Tibbs right here and let daddy take her to the vet." My daughters put Tibbs between them and we group hugged tighter than ever before. Elise could not help but join the girls in their sorrow and tears. I took Tibbs outside, closed the door and proceeded to walk to the vet. As I walked down the street, the crying and wailing could be heard over a hundred feet away. While walking to the vet, I thought of a million reasons to turn around and go back but none of them had Tibbs' best interests in mind. She was in pain, we were all in pain, this had to be done.
   Tibbs, you were always such a goofball, jumping on Zoe's face or nibbling on her toes in the early morning hours. As much as Zoe complained about you waking her up, she loved the attention just the same. Thank you for being with us. Though our time together was short, we loved having you as a part of our family. As, Zoe, your human mommy said, "You have the rest of your life to sleep." May it be with peace.

We hope you get a nice kitty hammock in heaven too.


Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Accidental sleepover

This is Mike...
We got picked up by Anais' dad, Leroy,  to go check out their farm for a few hours. We toured the horse property sipping Cuba Libres, before you knew it, it was midnight and everyone was still up laughing and chatting. Time just flew on the farm, like no other. Since nobody wanted to drive on the night roads we just crashed at Leroy and Anna's house. I slept on the hammock, Elise on the couch both of which were on the patio. Sierra slept on the living room couch, and Zoe slept in Anais' room. In the morning it probably looked like a war zone with people all over. We slept well even though the roosters started early and the sun shown brightly. Country air is special and we all needed the greenery and the nature. The girls were extra excited when, Oreo, the squirrel came by for a morning romp. Oreo lost his mommy when he was tiny so Leroy and family took care of him and weaned him. To this day, Oreo still stops by to make a splash from time to time. You can only imagine how excited the kids got when their forest buddy returned.

Nothing makes you laugh like having a squirrel on your head

Magic and a hammock

This is Mike...
Zoe's kitty, Tibbs, is still struggling to open her mouth because of lockjaw. We continue to feed Tibbs a liquid diet so she can get the nourishment to continue on. It is amazing how this little kitty has brought us together. In caring for another, we have learned so much about each others fears, hopes, and understanding about how the life works. Having the "Big" conversations with the little people can leave you speechless. Speechless because they "Get it." Speechless because they are wise beyond their years. Speechless because there is a basic truth, a basic fairness that they understand. Sometimes adults just don't get it, because we lost the magic, the magic of believing. The magic of a fairy godmother that watches over your shoulder. The magic of cuddling a sick kitty, in hopes that if you love more, the pain can go away.
   We grow older learning to cope. According to my kids, coping is not listening to your heart, its putting your heart in a box to protect it. All of these years I thought I was strong and stoic only to hear I was putting my heart in a box. I am honored to have heard my kids talk about life, death, love and how there is not enough magic in the world. I am so proud to have heard the truth.

Zoe bought Tibbs a hammock so she can rest with her favorite teddy bear.
Zoe bought her kitty, Tibbs, a miniature hammock so she could relax in kitty comfort. She spent her hard earned money, on a mini-hammock for her kitty. I find it so cool that she spent $12 on a hammock for her cat that I can hardly contain my smiles while typing this post. In the ultimate sign of appreciation though, Tibbs uses the hammock all the time. Looks like Zoe knew best as I was the one who thought she'd regret buying the hammock and tried talking her out of the purchase.

Penas Blancas border crossing

This is Mike...
Well we finally had to extend our tourist visa as 90 days was upon us already. We did, like the thousands of others do, and crossed Nicaragua's southern border with Costa Rica at the Penas Blancas check point. This time was different than past crossings for us, as we did this by foot instead of by SUV.  First of all, there is a 72 hour period you are supposed to leave Nicaragua for prior to re-entering. Of course we just walked over to Costa Rica and immediately back without any hang ups. On the Costa Rica side they did want proof of continuation of onward travel so a bus ticket or similar might come in handy at the border. The border guards looked at my kids in the eyes and let us in without further adieu. Many of the people entering just said they were with TransNica and they seemed to be OK without supplying any proof.
   The border is choked up right now with migrants from Cuba, Africa, and elsewhere. Nicaragua has closed its acceptance of these people since an incident about 3 weeks ago on the southern frontier where refugees shot at the Policia Nacional. In fact, right now anyone going to and from San Juan del Sur needs to carry their passports to get through the check points. Nicaragua is not going to allow the acceptance of anymore economic migrants passing through its borders, ultimately bound for the U.S. This move has exacerbated the problem of undocumented migrants on the Costa Rican side of the border. We were shocked to see the men, strong men, gangs of men just standing around waiting and waiting. This is a recipe for no good and the Costa Ricans have heavily armed police now patrolling their frontier. Likewise on the Nicaraguan side of the border there is now a strong military presence. One of the things we most like about Nicaragua is usually you never see the military and very few police. Unlike Mexico where police are everywhere, Nicaragua is a very safe country and it is unusual to see military or police. The refugee crisis is not just in Europe but now in Costa Rica.
   We were happy to get back into Nicaragua in under 2 hours and back to the easy-going pace compared to that of the tension on the Costa Rica side. In fact, if you did not know better you would think Nicaragua was a cleaner richer country if you just looked at the border. I hope Costa Rica can figure out what to do with all of these migrants before the men get restless. If you are traveling through the border there are enough police to make it feel safe, for now at least. I would probably not recommend traveling with a family at night through the border as the walk is 600 meters through unlit portions of struggling humanity. Costa Rica, with limited resources, truly has its hands full right now and I felt so bad for them.

No man's land between Nicaragua and Costa Rica

Walking over the border.

Truck are checked for migrants and other contraband.

The first time we saw Nicaraguan military at the border.

Strolling Granada with kids

This is Mike...
Since the weather cooled off, thanks to recent rains, we decided to pick up one of Zoe's friends and stroll down to the lake. The Calzada, the main tourist road in Granada, ends on the lake at a pier. There is a nice set of paths and play areas just before the guard shack. Past the guard shack are many beach restaurants as well as access to Marina Cocibolca, which is at least another 5 miles further down the road. Here are some random google images of the marina area 
   As with most public areas around the world you need to keep an eye on your belonging here. This area has a high concentration of homeless people, so nighttime strolls along the beach are definitely frowned upon by the locals that we spoke with. In the day however, it is safe enough for family activities. In fact, the girls had their end of year school party here. The Nicaraguan government is pumping millions of dollars in this area to revitalize it. Tourism numbers keep rising each year, in Nicaragua, and as we have see on the Calzada, Spanish is sometimes seldom heard. Thus as more visitors arrive and bring money, so too are their expectations of having a clean boardwalk to stroll along.  These improvements are a good boost for the community and visitors alike.

Zoe climbing a coconut tree during our stroll on the boardwalk

You'll pass the fine art gallery as you walk towards the beach

Walking back into town along the Calzada.

Zoe and Anais playing in a courtyard while enjoying ice cream.

Who doesn't like chocolate ice cream all over their face?

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Cruising lake Cocibolca

This is Mike...
For Lia and her family's last day here in Granada we decided to go to lake Cocibolca, on the booze cruise. Lia and the kids had a blast jumping and sliding into the lake from the second story of the boat. I, however, just swam in the water as I still have to watch my ribs as they are tender and sensitive to quick movement. Elise could not make the boat trip as she was still recovering from a stomach bug. Thankfully though, Elise finally shook the bug and is back  her stride. It was unfortunate Elise wasn't feeling well for a couple days while one of her best friends was in town.

Lia loved playing around with the kids and showing them that moms can jump too.

Lia and Timothy in the lake

Chase's last big vacation before college starts.

Someone landing in the water at just the right moment.

Lia jumping off the boat and showing the young ones how it is done.

Timothy and Chase having a light snack for lunch.

Timothy jumping off the boat after watching his mom do it.

Sierra coming in for a landing.

Kids having a meeting.

Tough kids on the boat.

Chase enjoying the views over lake Nicaragua

Getting ready for the swim session.

Enjoying the last few weeks before Chase goes off to College.

Snack time aboard the boat.

One of the many islets in the lake.

Anya steering the boat between the islets.

Great time with some cool guests

This is Mike...
We had some wonderful guests over here last week which made accommodating them a breeze. All of the kids were all quite emotional when it came time to leave. I guess its a good sign when everyone wanted to spend more time together even though it was time to go. Below are the pictures and videos from their, and our, week of fun.

In the video above, my girls are doing a zipline section with a guide. Sierra was videoing the action with her GoPro helmet and even gave her thumbs up during the ride. Zoe on the other hand enjoyed the carefree ride giggling and laughing down the line.

Below are some pictures of us ziplining near Mombacho National Park. 

Lia doing the upside down ride

Sierra doing the upside down ride taking pictures with her GoPro mounted on her helmet.

What the forest looks like upside down zipping through the branches.

Zoe doing the reverse upside down superman

Elise could not make it out because she had a stomach bug.

Below are some pictures and a video of our day at Laguna de Apoyo.

I am holding the paddle board so the kids can try to knock each other off of it.

Elise just cruising along on a tube

Zoe diving to depths unknown in the crystal clear lake.

Anya having fun under water.

View back to the resort from the floating dock

Tim was very happy to have some family time with his wife and kids.

Tim and Lia twisting the board so the kids would fall off into the lake.

Above, is a video of Sierra demonstrating how to jump off the floating dock (the sound quality is poor because the GoPro was in it's waterproof case)

Below are some pictures of Granada and the neat things to do and see around town.

Sight seeing on the road just outside Granada
Time out on the town

BBQ food for all to enjoy

Elise and Lia at the Mombacho cigar factory

The kids thought they were just having fun but in reality they were making memories too.

 Below are some picture of our trip to Masaya volcano.

Boiling crater
Lia, Anya, and Zoe posing at Masaya's rim
The caldron of liquid magma below

Below are some pictures from our time in San Juan del Sur and surrounding beaches.

Tim enjoying the sunset at Playa Marselle in the Aussie's house.

Two brothers, Chase and Timothy, walking along the beach

Sierra enjoying the sunset.

Walking along Playa Marselle

Zoe enjoying the open space.

Inside the very welcoming Aussie's house.

Girls posing on driftwood.

Sierra and Anya at a 900 year old petroglyph