Saturday, August 22, 2009

Ring, ring, why don't you give me call?

Two years and one day after moving to Costa Rica, and (drumroll, please!) we have a landline! Erin can now call her friends without me nagging about the cost of the cell phone bill. She's the main reason I wanted this line, and now it's finally installed. It's almost hard to believe.

I'd been working on contacting the right people to get my line installed for so long, and I finally made some headway shortly before I left for summer vacation.

In June, the construction company came out to make the final connection for our phone and discovered something odd and problematic—though our neighbors have phone service, no cable existed for our house. We arranged for the cable to be run (which entailed digging up small patches of neighbors' yards) while I was in the States, and on August 11 the electrician would return to enter the house and make the hook-up.

Unfortunately, the construction fellows decided not to begin digging until August, when I had already returned. So I watched as a guy with a shovel carved a hole into my grass, then groaned when he told me my neighbors to the left did not want the little piece of their yard dug up, despite them realizing that we sit with no landline.

The good news? The land to be disturbed is "common property" in the front of the house and so the electrician was able to do what he needed, regardless of the neighbors' wishes. He and a girl—I thought she was his sweetheart only to learn she is his daughter—visited my house on and off for a week, working here and there. One day, close to noon, I returned home from the store to find her napping in my driveway as he sat across from her reading the newspaper. Surprise!

Finally, on August 18 the phone rang. The electrician was calling me from my own kitchen with his cell phone, standing with a sheepish grin on his face.

¡Pura vida!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Back home again, in Costa Rica

Summer has come to an end, and we've jumped right back into our lives here in Central America, sleeping in our own beds, swimming in the neighborhood pool, and reconnecting with friends we haven't seen in a while.

School started on August 17—the second anniversary of our move to Costa Rica. I had hoped we could go to Pane e Vino for pizza as is our little tradition, but Lauren got her orthodontic expander that afternoon and was having a hard time eating much of anything. Regardless, I enjoyed taking the day to reflect on the previous two years and think about what's ahead for our third, unexpected year here in the Central Valley.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Summer memories

We had such an amazing summer in Wisconsin, it's hard to believe the time has flown by so quickly. In addition to what's been mentioned in my previous blogs, here are just a few of our favorite memories ...

The Dells
Everyone loved the Dells! Highlights included Noah's Ark and the Rick Wilcox magic show. We were astounded at the amazing performance from this professional magician and his beautiful wife—both Wisconsin natives, too. The girls got a poster of the pair and had them autograph it after the show.

It's a wild, wild life
Lauren's favorite animal—by far—is the duck. We went to Wildwood Park in Marshfield with Dan's parents and everybody got a chance to feed the ducks and geese. The girls couldn't believe how Dan's dad was able to scratch the goose's back. Lauren was in heaven!

In addition to the ducks, we saw plenty of deer, rabbits, wild turkeys, birds—including brilliant orioles and finches—beavers, otters, and of course farm animals. We still refer to Holsteins as "Ovaltines," in remembrance of Lauren's misnomer from toddlerhood.

Oh sure, you betcha!
Though Dan is a Wisconsin boy, he doesn't have much of that terrific accent we Wisconsin folk are known for. I, on the other hand, tend to pick it up again the longer I'm home. Dan and the girls got a kick out of hearing me slip back into "Uff da!" (a wonderful little Norwegian expression), "don'tcha know," "oh yeah," and "you betcha!" And don't forget that long "o" sound, too. (Think a much toned down accent from the movie Fargo and you'll have it.)

Norwegian everywhere
I grew up in an area with heavy Norwegian influence and love how prominent it still is there. It was fun going to the Barnes and Noble and seeing the row of Lena and Ole joke books on the shelves. It was also fun enjoying lefse and polsa (mmmmm, lefse!) at the art fair. While we were there, we even heard a woman talking about her recent visit to Norway. And Dan couldn't believe how many Olsons, Petersons, Larsons, Johnsons (and the list goes on) there were in my middle school yearbook. Uff da!

MOA, baby!
Yep, we hit the Mall of America again this year. Awesome bargains, great rides, yummy food—big fun! We shopped our hearts out this summer and came back to Costa Rica with our suitcases full and our credit cards still smoldering.

Great Grandad
La Crosse is known for its beautiful bluffs and rivers, and Grandad bluff is the most prominent in the area. Seventeen years ago on a freezing, snowy January night, Dan proposed to me on Grandad under the American flag. This summer we decided to go to the top of bluff, stand under that flag, and enjoy the view of Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa.

Beautiful babies (and other terrific family members)
We enjoyed so much time with our families this summer ... both sets of parents, siblings and nephews (no nieces!), aunts, uncles and cousins ... and to our delight we met two new little members of the family this summer, fraternal twins Jack and Michael. Erin, who turned 12 this summer (and begged me not to blog her birthday!), is now a Red Cross-certified babysitter and had a chance to help her aunt and uncle with changing diapers, feeding babies, and entertaining her little cousins. She did a great job! As for me, I already miss cuddling my sweet nephews and feel so blessed to have spent some time with them.

Preserving the past
One of my favorite things about spending summer in Wisconsin is that my girls are learning about their own family history. They see where Dan and I grew up, went to school and church, got married, and even where their grandparents grew up.

Each year we visit the iron foundry that my family has owned and operated since 1876. The kids love to see Grandpa and Uncle John, but they are also being exposed to something important to their heritage. Once in a while we find a foundry-made piece of history in the community, such as this 1898 water fountain (known as a bubbler in Wisconsin) outside the Onalaska library.

Hard to say goodbye
We were sad to leave our families and our beautiful country; this was our least favorite part of the summer! It means so much to me for my daughters to have this time with their family and to learn about their home away from home—which Wisconsin is for us no matter where we go. Thanks to everyone up north who shared this incredible summer with us. We'll always cherish the memories. We love and miss you!