Feathered Aspen


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Oh Costa Rica Part 1

Finding time to write with three children ages five and under is challenging.  Reading is a bit easier.  I have a kindle, and I’m able to read as I’m putting children to sleep or laying next to them, hoping they’ll rest for just a little longer.  I just finished Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, which was really good, and now I’m starting The Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri.  I’ve never been particularly snotty about my taste in books, but recently, I’ve been craving more literary works…  I think it’s craving the same sort of exercise for my brain that I find so addicting in podcasts.

In the past, I spent a lot of time writing as I traveled.  Every evening, I’d write what we had done that day, and for me, that’s been one of the best parts of traveling.  It’s been the best souvenir and also a good opportunity to give shape to my experiences, especially the less glamorous parts…  Having a space where I can spin these shitty, smelly, sticky, disappointing, and uncomfortable experiences into funny tales makes them feel so much more worthwhile, makes them so much more tangibly part of the journey.

On this trip though, it’s been hard if not impossible to carve out those hours.  I know this is just a stage in life we find ourselves in right now.  I have a four month old nursing baby that co-sleeps with me, and though she’d become a fabulous solo-napper back at home, she wants me by her side in these new places.  Traveling with Luna feels very much a full time job.  There are fewer safe spots to set her down throughout the day, and so she’s being held (or slept next to) pretty much 24/7.  In those moments when I’m not holding Luna, I do have the feeling of needing a break, but I’m also drawn to snatching those moments that I can with my older two, feeling a bit starved for their companionship.

The trip has been incredible, but for lack of writing, it feels a bit shapeless to me.  I’m left with impressions and vast swaths of time that feel somewhat indistinguishable.  I think the ocean and beaches in particular give me that time-warp-y sense.  I do wonder if beach bums and sea-side dwellers are more philosophical than the rest of us.  For me, every day feels so similar to the last, with the endless waves, two high tides and two low…  The ocean beckons and then it’s sand and salt stick to you for hours afterwards.  The sun innervates and leaves me useless for anything more than laying in a hammock or heroic attempts at cooking, eating, cleaning up, and bathing my children.  Cocktails at noon seem reasonable, and I worry that I could wear one of those frat-y t-shirts that announces, “I’ll have coffee until noon, then I’ll switch to liquor…”  (or something like that).

In those long, meandering walks along the surf, I collect small, round white shells with a delicate spiral.  Sometimes the center of the spiral has worn away from the sand and the waves, and I fantasize about turning them into buttons, threading them into works of embroidery.  The people are stunning.  Everyone is a deep shade of bronze, with tattoos snaking up their thighs or down their backs and long hair with natural, ocean-given ombres.  The swimsuits cover very little, and I gain a newfound appreciation for these brazen booties; they make the swimsuit that came in the mail for me two weeks before we left barely worth mentioning, though at the time I couldn’t fathom wearing it.

Everyone is young and beautiful.  They lounge on the sand in groups or embracing.  As evening falls, they jog out into the waves with their boards.  Crouched beneath the swells or bobbing past the last break, they pay homage to each sunset.  Back on the beach, people light bonfires and yogis assume their final asanas.

All week, we listen to Xavier Rudd.  He is the perfect soundtrack for this remote and secluded beach.  I first heard “Follow the Sun” during shavasana at the end of a yoga class, and it was about as close to a spiritual experience as I get these days.  I’ve been wondering what the sun is ever since, and I couldn’t help but assume that these bronzed beach bums must all know.

Our casa is perfect.  A three minute walk from the single, dusty road that runs through Santa Teresa, and 200 ft from the beach, it’s location could not be better.  Above, a canopy of green shields us from the sun’s harshest rays.  From the second floor where there are two bedrooms with french doors overlooking a balcony, we can see the ocean, and the sound of the surf and the breezes permeate the air.  Below, there’s an open-air dining and living area with a kitchen and a little pool.

Each day, we wake up – Joshua slightly before us to run – and prepare breakfast.  We drink our smoothies laying in the hammock, facing the ocean.  We journey out to the beach, combing the sand for shells and brightly colored pieces of plastic.  Joshua and I take turns diving into the waves.  Initially, the girls are scared (Lu moreso than Lily), but after we have an afternoon of playing in tidepools and sitting in the gentle waves provided by a rocky break, we have a breakthrough, and both girls gain more confidence playing in the water up to their knees, laughing when the tide pushes and pulls at their feet.

I run nearly every day and our sleep is deep, our bodies humming with the roar of waves, wind, and some nights, rain.  One morning, I do yoga, and though I enjoy it, I’m outclassed and the two hours it takes me from door to door feels like too much to ask the family.  I’d like to go once or twice more before we leave, but the daily practice I had fantasized about seems improbable.

Santa Teresa has the most beautiful swath of beach (more than three miles long) I’ve ever seen.  The sand is soft and there are millions of delicate shells, spit forth from the ocean like little jewels.  The green jungle meets the beach, and in the branches, howler monkey jump precariously from limb to limb.  Hermit crabs crawl everywhere, carrying their gorgeous homes along with them.  Mangrove crabs with purple bodies and red legs freak out Lu.  (Everything freaks out Lu.)  At night, vampire bats swoop through the open air dining area of our place, and I shudder, trying to keep my extreme distaste and fear from the girls.

We venture out to the road for groceries and bottled water, but then we scurry back to our little paradise, sweating from the humidity and blazing heat inland.  Here, the breeze and the trees provide a sanctuary from the Costa Rican summer.

To get here, we spent half a day traveling, departing our hotel in San Jose at 6 am, boarding a bus at 7 am, a ferry at 9 am, and then another bus and then another.  By the time we arrived, we were covered in sticky sweat and tears and drool from my teething, very very crabby four month old baby.  Oh god.  It was horrible.  On the ferry, 200 Ticos were looking at me like, for god’s sake, please shut that baby up.  I tried everything, nursing, dancing, pacing…  Nothing helped.

San Jose was more fun than I had expected.  We spent three nights there but only one full day.  Even in the city, I was astonished by all of the green.  Weston and I have gotten into house plants recently, and everywhere I looked, I saw a houseplant I recognized but in it’s full glory and super-sized.  Spider plants as big as smart cars, staghorns as big as birthing balls (haha), birds of paradise with the most stunning red and yellow blooms.  Snake plants lining the sidewalks, palms of every shape and size swaying in the breeze…  Hibiscus and begonias, air plants floating through the rivers and sprouting up along every tree trunk.  Bleeding hearts and pothos, the ‘swiss cheese’ plant and the wandering jew.  Ivy draped over trees and walls and fences, vines trailing everywhere.  Ferns basking in the shade, and bamboo providing privacy.  Fiddle leaf trees and mangos fallen in the street.

On our full day, we visited the Children’s Museum, and we had a wonderful time.  My favorite part was the rooms they had recreated to look like homes from 100, 200, 300 and even 400 years ago.  The girls timidly watched at first, eyes wide and ears full of spanish, but by the time we left, they were weary from playing.  After, we went and bought our bus tickets for the next day, and from there, we walked up to the neighborhood where the kings of coffee had built beautiful and ostentatious mansions.  More affluent neighborhoods reminded me of New Orleans, but the poorer neighborhoods reminded me how far we were from the United States, deep in the heart of Latin America.  We stopped in a cafe and ate, and then we walked home in a downpour.  A couple local women looked askance at us, dragging our children through the rain, but really, we weren’t dragging them.  We were all laughing, taking a shower on the sidewalk, breathing in all that oxygen, and reveling in the warm rain.

After a nap, we walked through the beautiful public gardens, a large market, and then stopped at a grocery store for some snacks for the road.  We ended at a restaurant which was delicious and pricey and far too hip for three children.

Getting to San Jose could have been a nightmare, but though we arrived bone-weary, it wasn’t so bad.  The girls kept tears to a minimum, and they all actually got a bit of sleep.  We left Denver around midnight, arrived in Fort Lauderdale around 6 am, and then boarded another flight, arriving in Costa Rica around noon.  Thankfully, the parenting gods were with us, and we were ushered past the impossibly long immigration line to the one for the infirm and very, very young.

Some notes I’ve jotted down in my journal:

Lily Says: “Adamos!” (Instead of vamos!) “Calm down!” (Whenever someone starts to get upset or laughs too loudly.) “That’s so creepy!” (When she means so crazy.)  “I think I see a monkey!  And a boat!  This is getting really exciting for me!!!”  “My song is The Rainbow song”  “We need to find research rocks!” “What are you proud of today?”  “I don’t like having yummy blood.”

Lu Says:  “Two!  I can have this one and you can have that one!”  “Are they bad guys?!” (All the time.)  “I want plantains!” “Where Henrie go?” “I wanna see Freyja! I wanna touch her!” “Wrap me up like a pepper.”  “Too scary!” (About many, many things.)

Joshua asked boo:  what would you do if you saw a snake? She earnestly, seriously responded, “I step on it.”  “Bee bah!” (When she gets hit by a wave or jumps in the pool.)  “My song my song my song!” (Whenever she hears Jack Johnson.)

Parents Say:  “Sweet and strong voice” “Give good, get good.  Give bad, get bad.”  “Pull back.”

Stressful experiences:  eating in hip restaurants with multiple children, $$$ meals, staying in a hotel where noise carries, walking along the road with no sidewalks and non-existent shoulders, vampire bats, the ferry ride from hell, the sweaty, sweaty bus ride from Cobano to Santa Teresa, worrying about the girls’ coughs on the journey to CR (all of them had deep, chesty coughs, but thankfully, they were all gone by the second or third day in ST.

Wonderful experiences: walking through coffee mansions, downpour, sound of waves, little pool, howler monkeys, tidepools, beachcombing, runs on the beach, the temperature in San Jose, sleeping with the doors open, flowers in Lily’s crown braid, sweet world traveler Lily on the bus (she was so casual!  Like, I’ve been doing this all my life…  No biggie.), Lily carrying her little backpack with her little owl tucked in everywhere… So cute.  Lu holding hands and just adoring her big sister.

People:  Michelle and Natalie from DC, Sean and Kriya expats living in Dominecal, Poncho, the family from Atlanta, the older parents with a three month old from Rome.

New words:  cascarra, latex, perdido, botarle…

Interview with Lu:  What’s your favorite part of the trip so far?  “Hiking.”  What else?  “Getting my ball.”  (A bouncy ball.)  What do you like to eat in CR?  “Plantains.”  What has been scary in CR?  “Bad guys.” (?) What has been fun?  “Swimming!”  What has been hard?  “Um… Wood!”  (Literalist.)  What do you want to do tomorrow?  “I want snacks!  Right now!”

***

Well, that’s all I have time for right now, but hopefully I’ll be back to write a bit about our time in Manuel Antonio (and then Monteverde and finally Samara.).  Be well! xoxo


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First days in San José

When we headed to the Mayan Riviera two years ago with Lily and and baby Lupine we quickly learned that traveling with children would have to look much different than when we’d previously went abroad.  I remember joking then that the biggest difference is that there is far less time for writing and reading.    The same is even more true now traveling with three kiddos.

We’ve still been having a great time.  Thus far we spent two days in San José, a week in Santa Teresa, and now we’re in Quepos/ Manuel Antonio area for the next week.  It’s been good to go at the kids pace.  Adventure in the morning.  Lunch.  Nap.  Evening walk or swim.  It’s amazing how resilient and curious these little ladies are.

I’m shooting lots of video and plan to make several videos of our Costa Rican travels.  Here’s the first installment from San José.  Enjoy.


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A Costa Rican Menu

We’ve had some really good meals since we’ve been in Costa Rica, but food is pretty $$$ here and – perhaps more to the point – eating out with three children 5 and under isn’t for the fainthearted.  We had Cuban our first night, with arroz con pollo.  Slow cooked chicken on the drumstick with tangy pickled onions and peppers.  The breakfast at our first hotel was pretty insane too, with an all you can eat buffet with plantains, eggs to order, juices, and tons of fresh fruit.  We did lunch at a little cafe and the olive oil was insane and so was my cafe con leche.  For dinner, we sampled tacos and a falafel burrito at a little hipster restaurant.  While we’ve been in Santa Teresa, we’ve eaten out once and had crazy good ceviche with plantains, guac, and fish and chips.  But all of this is spendy and a little overwhelming with a screaming child (or two, or three…  More likely three if it’s after 5 pm.)  So we’ve been making most of our own meals, and we’ve been taking advantage of the super fresh (and cheaper) ingredients…  Santa Teresa is pretty remote, so anything that’s not produced here is super pricey.

As I’ve been eating and Joshua and I have been trying to take our meals up a notch because it’s a vacation, I’ve thought about how menu planning can get into a rut or how some of my friends and I like to trial out recipes with each other and then repeat them because we know they’re tasty and imitation/inspiration/whatever, it’s just nice sometimes to not have to plan it out all by ourselves.  So here’s my little gift to you:  a three day menu plan.  Vegetarian, fresh, yummy, cheap, no waste, and Costa Rican vacation inspired.  It’s all about the lime, mostly about the pico (salsa), and pretty easy to prepare.  Hope you enjoy!

Grocery List

  • Purple Cabbage
  • Cilantro x2
  • Red Pepper x2
  • Tomato x6
  • Mango x4
  • Pineapple
  • Onion x3
  • Melon**
  • Limes x8
  • Avocado x4
  • Bananas x6
  • Salad Greens
  • Feta**
  • Milk (or half and half for your coffee)
  • Dozen Eggs
  • Corn Tortillas
  • Can of Refried Beans
  • Black Beans (from scratch or canned)
  • Rice
  • English Muffins
  • Raisins
  • Dried Coconut

Menu

Breakfast 1

Open Faced English Muffins

  1. Arrange avocado and tomato slices over half of the open faces, sprinkle with squeezed lime juice, salt, and crumbled feta (**or queso fresco).
  2. Arrange sliced banana on one and small cubes of pineapple on another, sprinkle with raisins, coconut, and squeezed lime juice.

**Add protein:  poach an egg and layer onto your savory faces.

**Add yum:  mayo, cinnamon, peanut butter, or honey, respectively.

**Save: dehusked and cored pineapple, 1/2 the avocado, 1/2 the tomato, and 1/2 the banana for later…  Don’t bother with a juicer for the lime, just squeeze 1/4 over and save the other 1/2.  Place all of them in a bowl and stow in refrigerator.

**Start: Rinse and soak 1-2 cups of rice in 1:2 ratio water.  Rinse and soak 3 cups of beans in 1:2 ratio water (DON’T add salt – this toughens the skins, yuck)

Snack 1

Smoothies

  1. Add a cup of pineapple, 1/2 a mango, and a banana to your blender.  Add two cups of water (and some ice, if you prefer).  Blend and serve.

Lunch 1

Refried Bean Tacos with Mango Salsa

  1. Open and warm refried beans in a frying pan with a little bit of olive oil, salt, and lime juice.
  2. Dice 1 onion, 1/2 leftover mango, 1 tomato, and cilantro.  Add juice of one lime and salt.
  3. Arrange on warmed/toasted tortilla: spread of refried beans, salsa, feta (**queso fresco) and coconut for garnish.

**Save: 1/2 the refried beans, any remaining salsa.

Dinner 1

Everything Salad

  1. Slice 1/2 the purple cabbage into thin strips, dice red pepper, add remaining salsa (toss in another diced tomato if not much left).  Wash and add salad greens.  Top with olive oil, lime juice, salt, coconut, a handful of raisins, and feta.

**Save: leftover salad, leftover greens.

**Tip:  don’t mix greens…  Leftover will keep better.

Breakfast 2

Scrambled Eggs

  1. Onion and red pepper sauteed, add eggs.  Serve with a couple of slices of avocado and 1/4 of a lime to squeeze over everything.

**Still hungry?:  add a warmed tortilla and queso fresco.

Snack 2

Smoothie

  1. Add 1 cup of your melon (I used papaya, but papaya tastes like ass in the US, so I’d go with something more delicious.), one banana, and a handful of pineapple.  Cover with water and blend.

**Wanna be healthy?: add a cup of leftover salad greens.

Lunch 2

Tico Sandwiches

  1. Toast remaining english muffins.
  2. Warm remaining refried beans, spread on muffins and return to toaster with feta on top to melt.
  3. Add remaining veggies from salad last night or avocado and tomato with lime.

**Start: cooking your beans 4 hours before dinner.  Cooking your rice 45 minutes before dinner.

Dinner 2

Buddha Bowls

  1. Leftover heaven!  All about presentation, people.  Scoop of rice, scoop of beans, leftover salad OR make a whole new mango salsa.  If you’re feeling crazy, whip up this sauce:  1/2 avocado, 1 lime, 1/2 cup of cilantro, salt, garlic, olive oil, blend and drizzle over bowl.

**Save:  rice, beans, leftover salsa, leftover sauce.

Breakfast 3

Rice Pudding

  1. This would be really good with milk!  Add two cups leftover rice, one cup milk (or half and half, and if you don’t have enough, just mix with a little water), and one to two eggs in a frying pan.  (Butter please).  Cook until egg is incorporated.
  2. Add raisins and warm for another minute or two.
  3. Serve with coconut, sliced banana, and cinnamon.

Snack 3

Smoothie

  1. Chop up your remaining fruit and toss in blender. Voila!

Lunch 3

Guacamole and Bean Tacos

  1. You got this.  Leftover beans from last night.  Dice an avocado.  Dice a tomato.  Dice an onion (dice some garlic, if you haves it).  Mix, douse in lime and salt.  Add beans and guac to tortillas (maybe some queso!) and serve.

Dinner 3

Buddha Bowl

  1.  Don’t let anything go to waste:  the beauty of these ingredients is that they all go together, even the onions AND the fruit.  Don’t forget the lime.  Make more sauce, if you want.  REMEMBER leftovers are palatable if there’s a little effort made for presentation… I don’t mean to be gender essentialist or anything, but men, in particular, don’t seem to get this 😉 –

 


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Lily turns 5

Lily turned five last Wednesday.  On the Sunday just before her birthday, she biked all the way around Sloans Lake with me as I ran.  Which was kind of the best.  I have honestly dreamed of the bike/run daughter/mother combo since before Lily was even born.  On Tuesday, there was a celebration at Lily’s school, and the teacher told a sweet story about star child Lily looking down and picking us, making her way over the rainbow bridge and gathering the gifts of memory, storytelling, and friendship along the way, and then arriving in this mountainous land.

On the day of her birthday, we had the Ps over for french toast, whipped cream, and fruit salad.  Afterwards, we met an old college friend of mine and Lily biked along the Clear Creak Trail.  That night, we ate Spanikopita at Lily’s request and then we paid a late evening visit to Sweet Cow for some ice cream.  When Saturday rolled around, we walked up to get biscuits, played at the playground, and then headed back to the house to get ready for our party.  We cleaned, shopped, and prepped food, and then at five, our guest began showing up.  Joshua made pizzas and I made a strawberry cake.  At least, it was supposed to be a cake, but then when I took it out of the bundt pan, it crumbled and looked as though I had dropped it 😦  Oh well.  The kids pretty much devoured the whole thing and no one was complaining!

It was funny.  We had talked about throwing a party in the beginning of March, and then life with three little kids just got in the way.  Just two weeks off from the party, I sent out some text invites and what felt like a casual party thrown together at the last minute evolved into 37 people (I think the final count was 17 kids and 20 adults).  It’s so strange how when Lily was born five short years ago, she was pretty much the only kid I knew.  We had moved to Denver just a year before, and our village felt more like an island.  It feels a little surreal to host a party like that, with kids running amok and our house and yard bursting at the seams.  Surreal and pretty awesome.  I’m so grateful to know other families with kids!

Lily is definitely growing up.  Just tonight, she dressed up in her new (…ly thrifted) dance costume for her little neighborhood dance class.  I scooped her hair up in a high ballerina bun, and oh my.  The girl looked like a teenager to me.  Why do all of my children insist on growing at rapid speeds?!  Like, can we please slow down a bit?  And then before bed, she came over to me and Luna and then leaned in and cooed, giving Luna smooches and snuggles.  Luna looks up at her with a huge smile and coos right back at her.  It’s pretty amazing.

I’ve been noticing recently that Lily seems ready for something new and challenging in her life.  I see her pushing the boundaries and occasionally provoking her little sister or other friends, just to see the dramatic reaction, and I really think the uptick in these behaviors is the result of feeling a little bored.  With school just two days a week and a lot of our routines being the same for the past couple of years, she’s outgrown a lot of her toys and worn out many of the activities.  Biking has been huge because it’s been a new challenge, and it’s been fun to see her keep trying and get better and better.  First is was starting on her own.  Then it was stopping with the back pedal.  Then it was better traffic awareness and slower stops.  Now it’s going uphill.  And the pace that she masters these skills is kind of mind boggling to me.  She’ll literally be a different biker at the end of just one bike ride.  She’s now gone around the lake with me three times, and one day, she even covered 7 miles.  It’s kind of crazy, and I think it’s just an example of how ready she is for new challenges and experiences.  She’s more than ready for kindergarten in the fall, and I think this trip to Costa Rica will also be a ton of fun for her.

Some fun facts about Lily at age 5:

  1. Birthday Menu:  French Toast with whipped cream and berries for breakfast.  Spanikopita and ice cream for dinner.  Strawberry cake at the party.  I was joking that she is quite the menu planner!
  2. Loves to run and bike.  She often requests to join me on my run, either for a mile in the beginning and then I’ll drop her off at home before I go around the lake, or now she’s biking the whole way :):)
  3. Adores playing outside.  I really credit Waldorf for this, but Lily is so happy outside.  She is so confident in her creative play outside, and I have to say watching her ease outside just fills me up.  Whether it’s mud, dirt, sticks, rocks, water, or whatever else she finds, there’s endless entertainment just being outside.  She’s also pretty resilient with all sorts of weather.  Rain, snow, wind, or sunshine, she’s happy outside.
  4. Enjoys her dance and yoga classes.  She loves reliving her “Silver Bells” performance from the holidays and will often ask us to play the song so she can dance.  Ellison is in yoga with her now, and she loves being her “yoga mama.”
  5. LOVES swimming.
  6. Still adores stories.  These days, she likes my made up stories about Ernie the Gnome.
  7. Loves playing with her sisters. Plays with Lu for hours and loves holding and sitting with Luna.
  8. So loving.  She adores her many grandmas and grandpas, aunties and uncles.
  9. Branching out her fashion sense.  It used to be that skirts and dresses were her only loves, but these days she’s happy in leggings and a long sleeve top.  She’s also growing like a weed and all of her leggings are capri length…
  10. Lily is such a joy, especially one on one.  She’s a great conversationalist, and a wonderful companion.

Oh Lily!  I love you so much. Thank you for making me a mother.  I’ll never forget the day you came into my life, how the song Heavenly Day started playing and how you looked into my eyes for the first time.  These past five years have been the best years of my life.  You’ve taught me so much, and I can’t imagine our world without you.  You’re a gift.  You’re loving and interesting, plucky and creative, a good friend and a wonderful sister.  Thank you for being you.  Hugs and kisses, Mom.

 


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Spring Flowers

My favorite tree in Denver. It smells like heaven, and it’s shaped like a wisteria vine.

This was such a nice morning. The blossoming trees and the tulips were so lovely and it was nice to spend time with my mom (the girls have started calling her Grammy 💕).


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2017 Behind the Rocks 50 Mile Race Report

I had a blast running the Behind the Rocks 50 miler this year.  I was nervous going into the day having run hard the weekend before at the Salida marathon.  This was the first time I’d run back to back weekend races.  I wasn’t sure my legs had recovered and would be able to hold up to the dancing on the slickrock.  I felt a bit sore and haggered for most of the race, but I was able to keep to moving and have fun.

Moab will always hold a special place in my heart.  Running here is magical.  Enjoy the race video.  Apologies for the shaky segments.  I really need to get a gimbal.