October 14, 2014

Sulphur gets in your eyes

when you climb too close to the edge of a volcano. As you may recall, the family visited Volcan Masaya nearly a year ago in an attempt to get a few cool volcano pics. Unfortunately, we didn't get a chance to really hike around too much.

Since Peter and I had the day off today, and the kids rightfully went to school, we headed out towards Masaya to hike a wee bit.  Okay, a lot a bit. We've got a walking competition going on at work, I've got my fitbit, and I figured hiking around a volcano has got to add a few steps, right?  Well, minus the steps you lose when you slide a bit on little, slippery volcano rocks.

We actually tried to get a guide this time, but none were available at the visitor center.  We had no desire to wait an hour and really didn't need one, so headed out to the crater by car.  We parked our lone automobile in the lot, and found a map, albeit slightly confusing.  We quickly found a trail to our left comprised of lots of lava rock and large logs that made a meandering staircase up the hill. This led us to a second trail which was a part of the San Fernando Crater and Trail. 

We wandered a bit to the left of the  crater, which somehow had us start to head back down to the parking area (yes, we probably would have turned around eventually, but...).  We went back the way we came and then headed up a slowly steepening incline.  We reached a midpoint, where a park ranger stood nearby relaxing under a tree, and we realized we had a panoramic view of the San Fernando crater (now dormant).  It was a lush, green, untouched jungle paradise.  

Can you see those people way, way up there?  This is actually quite high up already, so we opted to finish the rest of the trail another day.

Despite our desire to climb even further, we realized we still had to tackle lunch in Granada, as well as a trip to a local leather shop, Soy Nica (they handcraft the items in the back of the store). I'll admit, I was also a teeeeny bit nervous. You know when you are a wee bit high in the air, there are no guardrails, and everything is at your own risk and so you decide maybe not to climb the highest hill? That was today.  I felt a bit wimpish seeing a gaggle of folks hanging at the top, but figured we still have plenty of time here so we can tackle that another day...

We hoped to finish our hike with a trip up the steps to the Cruz de Bobadilla, but sadly the area is still closed off due to fears of a landslide.  We don't want to tempt that fate, of course, so took one last view of the surrounding area, and then found ourselves leaving the park and headed to the lovely town that is Granada....

And just as this blog post was in process, a 7.4 earthquake hit the coast of El Salvador which is not so very far away.  That shake back in April? It was bad, but this was much worse...felt like two earthquakes combined, with the second part being so strong I was sure we were going to lose a major appliance or two.  It woke up Nick, ensured the girls won't sleep tonight, and the poor dog nearly had a heart attack.  No word yet on damages in the area...at least we had a lovely day?


September 25, 2014


A few weeks ago we had the opportunity (at long last) to visit the Flor de Caña factory in Chichigalpa. In my mind, it was a much longer drive, but the reality is that even with traffic, we are a mere two hours from a rum-lover's paradise.  Now, if you know me, rum is not exactly my cup of tea.I tend to enjoy craft beers and wine more than a swallow of rum and realize why after taking the tour yesterday: it's likely just not sweet enough for me.

My office organized the trip (shocking, I know) and we headed out early on the 6th of September.  Peter and I figured the kids would not be too keen on the trip, so they stayed home to hang with friends and our empleada.  While we initially hit a tiny bit of traffic, we soon scooted past trouble spots and hit hit the open road.  Two hours later, after only one wrong turn (well, going a bit too far, but got a nice tour of Chichigalpa when we did), we ended up at the factory.

Now, when one arrives at Flor de Caña (I'm not going to try to give directions, easier just to hire a driver and enjoy the ride), there is a door that is labeled "tour."  That is actually your second stop, as you have to stop at the second entrance, the ticket booth, first, and then backtrack to the actual tour entrance. Oh, and regardless of how many people you have, one person can buy tickets for all. This is much easier than dragging everyone off the bus to pay individually.

Once we arrived at the tour door with our tickets in hand, we were led inside to a generous parking area. We were advised to stop at the restrooms first (the tour is 1.5 hours and the grounds are spacious, but no facilities), and then walked over to the engine for the first talk.

Now, I'm going to gloss over a bit, so should gentle readers choose to visit us and go on the tour, they won't feel as though they've heard it all before (and they will get to properly sample 18 year rum!). Once we were finished with the introduction, we were loaded into a mini electric tram.  The company as a whole works to conserve energy where they can, and in fact, the energy they create from the sugar cane processing is enough to fuel the distillery and the sugar factory.

We were shuttled over to our first stop where we watched a short film about the birth of the company.  There were no questions after the film, so we then immediately headed to our next stop:  our first tasting.  I would have loved to take photos of the whole process and the interior of the tasting room, but not allowed for obvious reasons.  

The glasses were already filled when we entered the room and an expert taster waited for us and then proceeded to explain patiently exactly how to taste the rum.  I wasn't sure I needed to sip, as the aroma alone was quite intoxicating.  However, after he explained how our each of our 5 senses plays a part in the enjoyment of the taste, I couldn't help but take a sip...or two.  We finished (some of us) our samples, and then had the chance to view the barrel making facility and followed it up with a tour of a bodega, or storage room filled with barrels of rum of varying ages.

Our last stop was the museum and gift shop.  No photos from the first level, but this sampling, on the second floor, was fine to snap a pic or two.  We finished our trip with a few small purchases (that taste of the 18 year blend sealed the deal for Peter).

We finished our day with a trip to León  for lunch.  While not identical, the architecture was reminiscent of Granada.  We found a lovely hotel, Azul, with an airy and open cafe that serves a wide variety of dishes (from gazpacho to curry) and also carries the famous Erdmann's of Ticuantepe.  

Although a longish day from the driving, the tour was very good, well-worth the money, and our stop in Leon was refreshing.  We had been wanting to visit for a while, and will definitely go back and perhaps visit Hotel Azul again. Lucy, our hostess, and her entire staff were amazing and very accomodating for our large group of visitors, which is always appreciated.

Now, I've just read Erdmann's runs home brew workshops...off to investigate that for my craft beer loving self and perhaps another field trip is in order?

September 19, 2014

Friday Fun!

Today's Friday Fun is courtesy of a foreign body stubbornly inserting itself in my heel and refusing to be plucked out.  A few weeks ago, I was walking around in our den and felt a sharp stab in my left heel. I assumed I had stepped on a random Lego brick, since our floor is carpeted in them, and took a look at my foot.  

Nope, no such luck. I looked, saw a large sliver of glass, grabbed my fine point (technical term?) tweezers, grabbed that bad boy out, washed my foot, put on cream and band-aid and called it a day.  Well, until a few days later when my foot still really hurt and wasn't healing as fast as I expected. The pain went up and down for a few more days and I figured since I walk on my foot each day, well, maybe it was just taking longer.  Last Sunday I decided to go for a walk and while there was a little pain, I figured I could deal with it.  Then I tried to run and I knew there was no way there wasn't something stuck (now well) inside my foot.  Walking was bad, running was awful. Felt like something was digging into my foot (well, yeah...) so cut things short, limped back home and took a good look at my foot.

Oh, and I googled "glass stuck in foot" and of course got all sorts of scary stories. I tried scraping the would with tweezers rather not so gently and...this course of action is not recommended.  By Sunday night the spot that just felt like a small bump was a bigger, redder bump and a lot more painful.  I vowed to make an appointment at the health unit on Wednesday (work and school closed Monday & Tuesday for holidays) and limped around for the next two days.

Three days later it was confirmed *something* was afoot (ha!) and I was immediately given an appointment for x-rays and a visit to the orthopedic surgeon (no joke).  The x-rays (a whopping $42, paid by debit card) were easy, and 40 minutes later I was in the surgeon's office.  Nothing showed on the x-ray, but a little painful pushing on my foot and he confirmed a "foreign body" of sorts was in my foot. They made my appointment for "foreign body removal," refused to charge me until after the procedure, and I left the hospital and went back to work.  Two hours and I'd managed to have x-rays, a thorough consultation, and the commute to and from the hospital.  Not bad!

Today I dragged Pete along figuring I prolly wouldn't want to drive home and for that whole moral support thing.  Within an hour, I had my foot properly cleaned (slightly unnerving part: I had to lay on my stomach for the procedure....at least I could grip the table tightly when he was moving the needle all around the bottom of my foot?), anesthetized, the "bump" cut open, offending piece of glass removed, insided scraped VERY clean,  had it stitched up with lovely red thread, bandaged, covered with a wrap and after paying $310 for the initial consulation and procedure, I was limping along on my way.  

The best part? I did not kick the doctor or the nurse when he gently inserted the needle in my foot and my other leg promptly shot up in the air and remained there until he was finished.  The doctor was extremely kind and gentle, and even spoke to me in English the entire time. I could have handled it in Spanish, I realize, but when I'm even a tiny bit nervous...somehow the English helps.  The worst part really was the needle .  Of course,  I'm grateful for the needles  if he tried cutting, scraping, sewing, etc., with no anesthetic...

So, there we have it.  Apparently, I hadn't had any weird back issues or random infections requiring surgery recently, so this was my payment to the medical gods this month.  I'm still a bit limpy, but already a lot less pain.  Amazing how much pain a teeny-tiny shard of glass can cause!  

And here is my healing heel in all of its glory....enjoy while I ponder what odd medical issue I will have next month.  So, if you are ever in Managua, and need an orthopedic surgeon, I have a great one for you...actually, I have a long list of wonderful medical professionals. Wonder who I will add next month?

September 10, 2014

Little tidbits

Nick still offers them, but I don't remember them all. I try to file them away in my head, occasionally note on Facebook, or blog them, when I need to just write them down somewhere...

Today was one of those long days and even though I didn't have to stress about dinner, things still seemed to crazy. I was being pulled in several directions and exhaustion and crankiness was setting in quickly.  As I was helping Nick get ready for bed, he started talking about a school project.

"So, we had to write about our favorite place in Nicaragua (said with a perfect accent).  We also had to draw a picture. So, I drew and wrote about my favorite place in Nicaragua which is Somoto Canyon."

I haven't seen the picture yet, but he drew pictures of us doing jumps off the tall rocks and floating in the water.  I have a feeling despite my wanting to continually declutter, this might be a keeper of a drawing.

After he told me about his picture, I realized I was so much calmer and less tired.  As I began to help him brush his teeth, it occurred to me that my favorite place in my home state at age 6 was likely a toss-up between my grandmother's house and the Dairy Queen (we could ride our bikes there).  Nothing wrong with that, but at that moment I was once again reminded that at the tender age of 6, the LG has lived in two states in the U.S. and two additional countries.  His favorite place in Nicaragua is a place I couldn't have imagined at his age, much less traversed through it like I owned the place. Nor did I ever ask my parents weekly, "When we move next time, what country are we going to live in?" 

Those little tidbits sometimes have a very big effect....



August 19, 2014

You say it's your (16th) birthday....

Yep, someone is 16 today! Considering I just turned 29 (okay, again), it seems nearly impossible, but somehow Caitlin has gone from a wee one to...well, see for yourself...



The above photo was taken by our good friend, Janet. Ignore my wacky hair and feast your eyes on baby Cait.



At a whopping 5 days (me thinks) old!  Grandma Judy was in town and snapped this photo while we were hanging by the pool (Dad was at training in West Virginia).  



This was either taken by Janet or her husband, Jack, also a much better photographer than I can hope to be.  Here is our first Christmas card photo with Cait.  Maggie, our bassetdor, clearly felt this whole photo thing was old hat.  



Ah...here we are at the first birthday, with Cait delicately eating what was (of course) her first bite of cake and ice cream ever (not).  She also had an amazing decorated-by-hand Winnie the Pooh cake courtesy of Auntie Shannon.  Sadly, I don't have a photo handy (must reorganize photos), but it was almost too beautiful to eat....almost.


Here we have Christmas 1999!  Anyone noticing a trend with the cards?  To answer the obvious question, yes, Maggie posed, and no, she did not mind the get-ups.  I must find the photo of her in her bathrobe (monogrammed, of course).


Let's fast-forward a bit...otherwise, we could be here for days (not that there is anything wrong with that!).  Here we have Cait enjoying the beautiful sands of Curacao in November 2002.  We had moved to "Caracalus" three months prior so Peter could work in the "Ombassy" and managed to take a quick trip over Thanksgiving. While most folks were there for the diving, we were just thrilled to have a quiet beach to ourselves for a few days.



Summer of 2001.  At almost 3 years of age, Cait is enjoying a visit back to the States for R&R.  We were visiting Grandma Judy and on this day, walking around Main Street in Yardley.  Such a lovely little town for visiting.



Here we are at a little petting zoo just outside of Caracas.  We were headed back to the States within a few weeks of this photo in order for me to give birth to Kelsey.  Cait was very much enjoying the summery weather before we had to head back to near freezing temps for a while.

  Kelsey birth019

Just like that...Cait is a big sister to wee nugget, Kelsey, born on March 22.  We had an adventurous medical evacuation that I won't detail here, but suffice it to say, we were very glad to be able to finally return to Caracas as a family in late May of 2002.


And she just keeps growing up...we are now in the spring of 2003. We've been back in the DC area since early August 2002.  This photo is courtesy of Grandma Judy, who visited frequently while Dad was jet-setting around the world with VIPs and such.  


Another photo by Grandma Judy at Cait's 5th birthday, AKA, the obligatory Chuck E. Cheese party. Peter was traveling again, and, hey, if it makes life easier and the kids like it?



Then before we knew it, she was 6 and starting first grade, and riding the bus.  Oh, the wails we heard from Kelsey daily when Caitlin left.  There is no fury like that of a 2 year old who does not get to ride the big yellow school bus...



Less than a month later, she was a flower girl in Auntie Shannon's wedding on the beach.  I remember thinking that I couldn't believe she was already 6....


By the following June, we were living in Iceland.  Just a wee bit of a change, but by then Cait was a bit used to the moving and adjusted quickly to life in Reyjavik.




Learning how to ride Icelandic horses in the snow....Fall 2005.


The spring of 2006 found us all traveling to Germany with Peter. He had a conference, and we had a great time touring!  Kelsey and I went off to investigate castles and the Zugspitz, while Caitlin learned how to ski at Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Pretty cool spring break, if I do say so myself.




Cait sang in an Icelandic girls' choir in the fall of 2006.  In the above photo she is ready for the Christmas concert.  One of the guests?  The president of Iceland!  




Fall of 2007 and her fascination with Laura Ingalls Wilder is parlayed into a project.  The arm?  She forgot to wear her inniskór (inside shoes) one day in school and while giving her sister a piggyback ride, bent over to pick up a coat and two broken bones in her left arm later....


Baby's first glacier?  Lots of changes over the year and Caitlin is now a big sister times two.  Wee Nicholas Quinn made his way into the world on February 20, 2002 (February 19 for those in the States).  This photo was taken our anniversary weekend of 2008, just a month before we were slated to move to....



Recognize it? If you've been to Muir Woods, it would look a bit familiar.  Here is Cait at nearly 10 years old and now living in her 5th home (not counting the wide variety of Residence Inns that we've called home) just outside of San Francisco, CA.



2009 had us traveling everywhere in California, from San Diego to Yosemite. One of the most exciting trips, though, was a mom and daughter venture back to MD & VA for Auntie Shannon's baby shower.


April of 2010 and our time in California is drawing to a close.  What better way to spend it than having lunch at a tea room and then catching a performance of Wicked?




2011 found Cait doing all sorts of crazy things like turning 13...a teen, at long last!  Which means that things like high school couldn't be too far away....


2012 found a few more changes headed our way.  We'd learned that we would be moving to Nicaragua (yea!), however, it would only be after Peter spent a year in Kabul (boo, of course).  Cait received a little end of 8th grade gift in the form of a trip to Iceland for a week to visit old friends and  old haunts.  


2013 and so many changes, yet as usual she handled them with grace.  From Peter's return from Kabul, the move to Managua, a new neighborhood, school, friends, language...and perhaps the best: a wee kitten named Kai adopted a few months into our tour.

And now...


Now we have nearly 16...




Artistic genius (well, please, I'm still on stick figures...)



Yep, the artistic thing again...maybe it's just because I'm her mom, but her talent just stuns me.  Our plane to Chicago (this summer) was delayed, so I sent work-related emails and played words with friends...she sketched for hours.


The above photo was taken during our mom and daughter trip to Chicago. Given that we knew a license and a car were not necessarily going to happen for this birthday (an issue with a lot of FS kids), we figured a fun trip would be the next best thing.  Cait and I spent 4 days in Chicago and she was able to meet up with a friend from Managua to attend a couple of Starkids Shows (and they met Joey Richter!).  Okay, I didn't really know who he was before that night, but it was a Very Big Deal and I respect that.

It's now 12:18 a.m. MGA time and technically her birthday. Of course, I'm thinking until it's 9:34 a.m. (11:34 a.m. VA time) she is not *quite* 16.  It's her birthday, though, right?  So, it's time to say...


Happy birthday, Cait. Happy birthday to my firstborn artistic moves-every-few-years and likes it.  You've had a crazy life, but you've adapted with grace in a way I still cannot match.  We love you so very much, Little C. Happy, Happy 16th Birthday!




August 03, 2014

Monumental Attractions

We had a whole lovely trip (or several) trips to DC proper planned on this R&R.  Unfortunately, nasty little things like doctors' appointments conspired to suck away nearly three full days that could have been spent anywhere from beside the swimming pool to hanging at the Washington Monument.

As much as we had hoped to spend more time in DC, we ended up with precious little time there. We swung through on Thursday afternoon, very briefly, on our way to VA to pick up Kelsey.  With a few minutes to spare, enjoyed seeing the Lincoln and the mall with 1.5 million tourists (while crowded, nice to have our home metro area appreciated by so many).   Perhaps the most amusing part was driving in, managing to park near State, and having Cait shout as she saw the Department, "Hey, that's where they have Bookfair!"  That's my girl...

We took the requisite photo near Lincoln (Nick refused, but since he's been there more than a few times)...

  Photo 5

Then walked over look at the Reflecting Pool and Washington Monument.

  Photo 2 (1)

And, last, but not least...Nick's other favorite, the Einstein.  I'm going to have a whole album just of Nick and Albert.

  Photo 3

Maybe our next visit will give us more time and we can finally go up in the Washington Monument or visit Air & Space again.  However, even with our short time there, at least we had a few moments to stand and reflect.  Given our lifestyle, not a bad thing to do every so often.

July 08, 2014

In a stunning turn of events,

this time last year, I was asleep. Stunning primarily as it was the night before our move to Managua, and I never, EVER get more than three hours of sleep the night before a move. I mean, standards, right?

Somehow, despite the insanity of the year, the fact that I had semi-major surgery 6 weeks before the move, and that I almost broke my toe the day before (thank God for the ice packs we had forgotten in the freezer), I logged almost 7 hours sleep on this night last year.  We had a late enough flight that we could haul ourselves in our car from the Salty Dog 'stead  back to our house and still have 45 minutes before the Super Shuttle showed up to take us to Dulles.  Ironically, yesterday I made our reverse Super Shuttle reservations to take us from BWI to our first stop on our R&R on Thursday. Have I mentioned that I am so very excited vacation (well, some vacation, some business...how it always goes) is almost here?




I realized tonight that I never actually blogged about our journey to Managua.  We've had so many internet and computer issues, that it's been hard to keep up with the basics, much less the truly momentous occasions.  At long last...our move to Managua (sort of) in pictures!


Our favorite "Fur-in" service gato praying that the journey was over...
Luggage? What luggage?
One of my favorite photos from the day....my eager travelers.



Never hurts to review that safety information....
Departing Miami and getting ready to say hasta luego to the U.S.



 The luggage made it....


and so did the weary travelers.




Within the hour, we were in our new house (for the next three years)....


And someone instantly felt right at home....



June 30, 2014

One Dinoia flew the coop

for vacation a couple of weeks early and suddenly the house seems so quiet.  Peter woke up well before the crack of dawn this morning to get cash for our intrepid traveler, the traveler herself was up a few minutes later, and I dragged myself out of bed with just enough time to get dressed and make myself a cup of coffee before our ride showed up to haul us to the airport.

Despite having only decided to pack around 10 p.m. last night, Cait managed to mostly fill two duffles and a carry-on for her flight today.  She tried to take more, but I reminded her gently that she is going TO America and therefore she should wait to savor the lower prices and overwhemingly display of choice that is anywhere in the U.S.   She agreed and thankfully came nowhere near the weight limits.

It's not her first trip traveling overseas by herself,  but her first time connecting by herself and she opted to actually use the unaccompanied minor service (available with American until age 17).  I had a terrible experience with the same sort of service once when I traveled at a young age, and thus always preferred to be on my own.  However, she was a wee bit concerned about passport control, luggage pick-up, and navigating the airport in general and I never dealt with any of that until I was an adult.  After much discussion, we opted for the service and I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised.

If you ask nicely, you can get the direct line from BWI to Target...

The cost was $150,  but that guaranteed assistance to the gate in Managua from the airline instead of us (and that included sailing past 150 or so in line at security), help with passport control, luggage pick-up, drop off, and connecting in Miami, and then assistance at BWI.  Not my cup of tea, but she was far more comfortable and in all likelihood will have no issue connecting by herself in the future.  Oh, and having her phone reactivated early ensured the moment she landed in Miami, she had a way to reach us if necessary.


"The Eagle has landed."

And now we have merely 10 more days until we have our pickup and then we are off to the U.S. for a 3.5 week holiday....well, journey that will hopefully have more pleasure than business.  Not exactly a vacation like we originally planned, but we will have a little over a week or so of fun with friends, Cait and I will escape to Chicago for three days (an early birthday treat for her),  and our favorite beach is calling us for a 4 day trip.  I can almost hear the waves and taste the beach bbq....

June 13, 2014

Take One LG,

add a cap, a gown, a little Louis Armstrong...and pass the tissues, his mom is in tears. 

Today was Nick's promotion ceremony from kindergarten. Yes, kindergarten. Not college or high school, but kindergarten.  I went along with the pomp and circumstance, buying a new outfit (to include shoes he will likely wear once), and purchasing a photo package before the event even started.  However, I still didn't think it would affect me. I'd take a few photos, nod and smile, but think to myself, "It's ONLY kindergarten."

Until Louis started crooning What a Wonderful World as the graduates lined up to walk in. Let's just say thank goodness I don't touch mascara with a 10 foot pole. I would have been a complete mess.  


The LG walked in with his usual smile and confidence. He sat with his friends, sang a song, accepted his diploma, and goofed around while waiting to depart.  It was a short and sweet ceremony that really revolved around parents running to the stage to snap that quick photo...and while they are adjusting the camera, instead of a 6 year old, they suddenly catch a glimpse of an 18 year old...or a 21 year old...and realize just how life is suddenly going by so darn fast.

The image is gone and there is the Little Guy again in all of his 6 year old glory.  Happy and ready to take on the world as a newly minted first-grader.  I take a deep breath, shove my Puffs back in my purse and realize I have...

only a few hours before I need them again.  Apparently awards ceremonies make me as verklempt as graduation ceremonies.  This morning was about Nicholas, and this afternoon revolved around Kelsey.

I knew a few weeks ago that an award ceremony was to be held this afternoon, but wasn't sure if my presence was needed. I had no idea what the ceremony would entail, how many awards would be given out or if Kelsey even wanted me to show up.

Then I received the email and there was no doubt about my attendance. The email that reads, "Your child will receive an award," and you know, come whatever or high water, you'd best be there.

After Nick's ceremony, breakfast, dropping him off, racing into work, working, and then hurrying back to the school, I found myself back in the same covered athletic area, waiting for the ceremony to begin. I realized I had no idea what awards were on tap until I asked for a program.

A few minutes later (not a moment too soon, as it was, well, warm to say the least), the program began. It was fairly short and to the point, and started off with Presidential Awards for Academic Achievement for students in the 6th grade class.  Lo and behold, look what my Wee Nugget won with her hard work and dedication.

I would be proud of her this year whether or not she won an award.  However, the fact that her work was recognized...well, cue Niagara Falls. It's been such an unexpectedly different year.  We've had some weird years in the past, but this one takes the cake for keeping us constantly on our toes and wondering what will happen next.  

For now, though, I'm basking in the glow of knowing that while my kids have had a more interesting year than we planned, they have all made it through relatively unscathed.  Here's hoping next year will be a little calmer and if all goes well and we actually finish planning our R&R soon.  We  might even have a wee bit of a real family vacation this summer during that trip that will have us calm, rested, and ready for whatever life throws us during the next year here....




May 21, 2014

We've had our share

of interesting anniversary celebrations over the past few years.  Last year's was, well, not really happening.  We ended up having a dinner out a few days after Peter came home, but for the actual date, he was still in Kabul. May 2012 was equally crazy, thanks to his impending departure for Kabul, and the 'gate, as we call it.  Nothing like a little excitement to get things going right before a PCS!

While Peter was here for the anniversary in 2011, it is safe to say I was still in a funk. I had only just finished radiation, and that whole spring/summer was sort of a depressing wash for me.  Knowing we were bidding on Kabul due to my inability to stay healthy during his Iraq tour didn't help matters.  Even 2010 was nuts, as we were just weeks away from packout and our trip back to the Virginia area for his UT.

So for the first time in years, we were...no, Peter, was able to plan a weekend away.  We were not stressed (relatively speaking), we are healthy, we are not moving (not even bidding this summer!), and it was only one night so we figured the kids could deal.  We both had a busy work day on Friday, so our weekend actually began Saturday morning, when we packed up and headed off to the area of Tola.  Our actual destination was the Aqua Wellness Resort.  I can't describe it better than they can, so please click through and see what they have to offer.

I had *liked* them on Facebook years ago, upon learing about our assignment and have been eager to go ever since.  It was approximately a 2 hour drive through somewhat rugged areas (an SUV here is never a bad idea).  We passed through the usual rural areas and our only scare was a goat who decided it simply must run in front of our car as we drove through its town. No tragedies, and on the way home, same story but with pigs.  We arrived, found security easily, and then drove up a windy road. One has to be careful, as there isn't much signage. If you see the small, brown sign that says "recepcion," follow it, as that's your clue you have arrived at Aqua Nicaragua.

Yes, this was our suite. Bedroom on the right and kitchen area on the left, with the pool in between.

We checked in and after being given a description of the facilities, the classes, and the hours of the restaurant, we were led to our "room" (see above).  Apparently, they had to upgrade us due to our original room being renovated.  Oh, gee, okay...

Obligatory selfie.


The pool was small, but lovely...especially after a hard day of lollygagging about on the beach and being tossed about by the waves.

I was apparently so excited to have a whole night to ourselves, that I forgot to take a photo of the room.  It was a high ceiling-ed wonder with everything designed in a gorgeous wood fashion with the exception of gorgeous metal hooks in the bathroom area.  Even the floor of the shower was constructed of wood planks. The bed was a comfy, king-size masterpiece that had (with the screen doors open) an impressive view of the surrounding woods and the ocean.  Nothing like napping with the doors open and hearing nothing but a few birds chirping and the roar of the ocean in the background.

It's safe to say we had a bit of the beach to ourselves.


We noshed on ceviche and fish tacos, soaked up sun, were tossed about the waves, had a beachy beverage, napped, ate some more, enjoyed the pool...you get the picture.  We relaxed!  It was amazing...quiet, refreshing, and just what we've needed for a long time.


I drank my frosty beverage while Peter checked on our dinner reservations or some such thing... 

I even managed to finagle a massage combo.  A relaxing, but thorough massage followed by half an hour of foot reflexology.  Oh, and a glass of freshly-squeezed calala juice (passion fruit). I just can't get enough of calala....


The view from the massage area. I highly recommend visiting....

Now, while I was thinking about this trip, I realized it seems in some respects (well, minus several airline flights and about 6 days) similar to our honeymoon. It was the first time in a very long time that we've been able to truly relax on a trip, for a variety of reasons.  It occurred to me that not only did I not ever really do a honeymoon scrapbook (which I'm now going to tackle full throttle), but, of course,  I couldn't blog about it.  So, how about a little look-see at that journey?


Yes, we spent 8 days in Ireland!  Peter actually wanted to travel State-side, but I had never left the country (minus one trip when I was three) and I was desperate to do so. Ironically, I had this awful nagging fear that we otherwise never would leave the country and I would spend my whole life living and working in the States without seeing the rest of the world.  Funny that....

Now, it's been a few years, so pardon the condensed description.  Also, it's a honeymoon tale so, really thinking that a basic review will suffice.  We landed in Shannon, rented a car (first time for Peter driving stick on the opposite side of the road...fun!) from Dan Dooley rent-a-car and headed off to see the Cliffs of Mohr.  Peter posed with a scruffily cute mutt and his owner near the Cliffs and learned quickly you don't actually pet the dog, you just pose with him.  The Cliffs? Utterly amazing...

Maybe outside Bunratty Castle? Oh, why I didn't keep a diary....

We spent the night at Dromoland Castle and it was just beautiful.  Perhaps the only negative was Peter packing up the car the next day and forgetting my overnight bag in the parking lot.  He promptly remembered upon our arrival in Dingle.  Oops.  I mean, who really needs a toothbrush or what-have-you, right?

It was a windy drive to Dingle, but the town was amazing and the views were gorgeous.  We were doing the B&B route, so spent a lovely night in a local house and couldn't help but get take-out fish and chips fresh from the sea.

I think the sign says it all....


We spent the rest of the trip driving throughout the country. We passed through Kilkenny, Cork (where my ancestors on my father's side hail from), Dublin, and Waterford.  I wish I had a better diary of the days (though I prolly still have the itinerary somewhere), but we were so busy just seeing, driving, and soaking in everything Ireland had to offer.  


Can't tell I had to remove this photo from a collage to scan, can you?

We ended the trip with a night in Shannon.  We had a rather sumptious dinner at Bunratty Castle and spent the last night at hotel in Shannon.  Somewhat ironically, Peter ended up back in that same hotel on an SD trip about 5 years later.  

Obigatory touristy photo.

Oh, to recreate that honeymoon at some point.  It's not a trip we have planned right now, but there was so much we saw and yet, how we wished we could have spent so much more time there.  I suppose there is always next year's bid list....

BlogHer '12 VOTY eBook

Get moving!




  • Follow diplomom08 on Twitter
My Photo

October 2014

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
      1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30 31  

5 Minutes For Mom

  • WAHM/SAHM Blogs

Can you spare

  • WindButton

Find this blog at

Hop on over to

  • Expat Women—Helping Women Living Overseas

mom blogs

Subscribe in Bloglines

Blog powered by TypePad
Member since 11/2005



My Other Accounts

Facebook Twitter