Pura Vida

Pura Vida is the law of the land in Costa Rica.  It literally means “Pure Life,” but to Costa Ricans it means much more. It means that no matter what your current situation is in life, for someone else, it can always be less fortunate than your own, so you need to consider that maybe – just maybe – your situation isn’t all that bad and that no matter how little or how much you have in life, we are all here together. Life is short, so start living it “Pura Vida style.”

Our goal for our family vacation to Costa Rica was “Pura Vida.” We were going to go and be all in. Our plan was to experience all that Costa Rica had to offer, the biodiversity, the waterfalls, beaches, volcanoes and rainforests!

It all started when my husband and I were trying to think of Christmas presents for our 26 and 22 year old boys.  They don’t need more “stuff” is what we said, they both are paying back student loans, meaning they are working, going to school and really grinding it out (at least as best as a millennial can do).  So we decided, while we can, to take them with us on a memory making vacation. Costa Rica!

We don’t necessarily like doing the same things. Me?  Give me a beach and a spa and I am a happy camper.  Dad?  He wants a golf course and good Internet to keep working, even on vacation.  Connor?  He wants new experiences and a sports bar.  Alec?  He loves a challenge and meeting new people.  So how to combine all 4 of us and have a great time?  Costa Rica seemed perfect with its rugged rainforests, Pacific beaches and TONS of adventures for everyone!

We zip lined the first day (even though I am not fond of heights) and had a blast! Sailing through the tree tops was exhilarating and we had our guides to ourselves, so on a break, we had the bonus of getting to know these 20-something year old Costa Ricans and found out that the education system in Costa Rica is great!  Many go on to college and the government helps to make that happen!  The kids had a great time talking nightlife with the guides.  Pura Vida!

The second day we beached it, foot race competition between Dad and the boys resulted in the video below…hilarious!  But the unplanned sunset together with some champagne and Neil Young playing in the background provided the perfect night for mama to just “BE” with her boys. Pura Vida!

Third day we drove through 4 hours of small towns, stumbled on a festival and ended up at the Arenal volcano and the hot springs.  Wow!  Sloths, snakes, monkeys and birds provided incredible beauty. And with a total of 8+ hours together trapped in a van with just our family, we had lots of family time to share past travel stories, love it when the boys are captive and they HAVE to talk!  Pura Vida!

Day 4 was crazy cool with white water rafting in the rain forest.  Costa Rica is one of only 2 places in the world where you can white water raft in a rainforest.  We each got dumped out of the boat and we all took a much-needed break by swimming in a waterfall in the middle of nowhere!!!  This was my favorite day! Pura Vida!

 

I got to spend a lot of time together with my boys and that makes mama happy.  I always say I got 3 wishes – John, Connor & Alec.  My boys.  Pura Vida!

Pura Vida may be my 2017 life motto!  What’s yours?

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Unanswered Prayers

Img70317For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a mom.  I dreamed of a little tribe of mini-me’s and all of the wonderful adventures we would have.  Holidays would be the best kind of chaos, family trips would create memories for a lifetime and our house would never have a dull moment.  So, when my husband and I found out I was pregnant after one short year of marriage (SURPRISE!!), I was thrilled that my dreams were coming true.  After a very healthy pregnancy and delivery, we were parents to the most beautiful little boy in the world!  William had arrived and just like that, we were a family of three!!

Chaos definitely ensued, parenthood was more than we imagined it to be and we were totally ready to keep growing our little family.  After a few years, with total confidence, we started planning for our next baby.  We carefully chose when we’d start trying and based on round one, we were sure it’d be just as easy.   I remember thinking, “this family planning stuff is a breeze!”

Well, round two did not go as planned.  In fact, after a year of doctor visits, we were shocked to learn, baby number two wasn’t actually going to happen.  Confirmed by every doctor and specialist in the state, I was not going to have another baby.  To say I was devastated is an enormous understatement. You know that type of sadness that literally hurts your heart and paralyzes you with depression?  That was me.  I was wrecked and deeply mourning the family I never had.  But lets not get into that.  That’s not what this blog is about.

So, after some time, my depression turned into anger.  Then, thankfully, my anger turned into motivation and that’s when I decided to get to work.  We actively researched and prayed about growing our family.  We explored our options, weighed the pros and cons, etc.  We were not going to give up on baby number 2.  So….we decided to adopt!!!   It was a whole new approach, but we were sure it was the right one!

After months and months of planning, meetings with lawyers, approvals, training, etc.,  it finally happened! Someone had picked us!!! I remember getting a note from a young woman telling me she had just had a beautiful baby boy and found our family profile on an adoption website.  She asked if we were interested in meeting and of course we cleared our calendar for whatever worked best for her.   She was kind, well-spoken, funny and full of love.  She had been through so much and still, was only worried about what was best for her baby.  I was so impressed with her selfless approach.  After a long conversation, I remember her letting me hold her baby for the first time and I immediately fell in love.  Like the first time I held William, it was a true, honest, unconditional love that happens so rarely in life. After spending quite some time together, James’ biological mom made what I can only imagine would be the most difficult decision of her life.  She asked us to be his forever family!
2013 holiday card james perf smile And just like that, there he was.  Baby number two.  He was more than we could have hoped for and the perfect person to complete our family.  James had finally arrived and we were a grateful, humbled, complete family of four.

There is SO much more to this story, but you get the point.  I purposefully kept many details out because, quite frankly, much of the story is just too sad.  And also, I want to protect our family’s privacy and the privacy of James’ biological family (who, by the way, are truly amazing.  We love them dearly and still have a wonderful relationship).  However, the reason I decided to share just enough of our story was because I know everyone has their own version of this story.  We all have that moment in life when our dreams are shattered or when depression gets the best of you.  Nobody is immune to heartache. So, I told my story to offer some hope, to whatever gets you down.  Because my darkest moments brought more love and joy than I could have ever dreamed of.  The adoption process reminded me to expect the best from others, not the worst.  James’ biological family proved that there are indeed incredible, selfless, loving people in this world.  And when I was on my knees begging God for a baby, convinced he was ignoring me, little did I know, sweet baby James was already in the works.  I am so thankful that my prayers to get pregnant and have another baby were never answered.  Had they been, our family would be missing a vital link.  James isn’t just another person, he’s the perfect person to complete our family.   It really is true
….some of God’s GREATEST gifts are unanswered prayers.

Family

With hope, gratitude and love,

Erin

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She Said Yes!

Engaged1I cannot believe our little girl is getting married! When I look at her I still see my chubby cheeked little baby that was always smiling.

Engaged2Her fiancé, Tristan, was her high school sweetheart and is everything we could have hoped for in a life partner for our daughter. They met at summer camp when Bailee was trying to set him up with her friend. The more she raved to her friend about how great he was, the more she began to ask herself  “Wait, why am I not dating this guy?”

It’s hard to believe they just celebrated their 7 year anniversary!

We have watched Bailee and Tristan grow up together. After graduating from the same high school and going off to different colleges they eventually reunited to graduate from the same college. They have each started successful careers and have supported each other every step of the way.

Engaged3The big engagement was so much fun! It was full of family and friends, and a moment we will never forget. Thank you Tristan for allowing all of us to be a part of your special moment.

Bailee and Tristan want to share the planning of their big day with all of you and ask for your advice along the way. You can follow my Facebook page for details and to weigh in on some of their wedding planning.  Here are a few of the selections they have made so far:

Engaged4First, who wants to see the ring? Tristan designed this lovely piece with the one and only Sonia Bitton. Tristan worked for months on the design and Sonia added her special touches to make it the ring of Bailee’s dreams. Notice the six pink diamonds on the bezel set to represent the six years they spent together before getting engaged, how sweet is that?

Here is a photo of the lovely industrial style venue of the big day! Its creative, unique and fun, just like the happy couple.

Engaged5

The dress…NO WAY! Bailee won’t allow any sneak peeks at her dress for the big day, but she did suggest we ask all of you to weigh in on helping to pick my dress. The color will be a dark berry shade.

Engaged6

Do you like option A or B? Leave your comment below and remember to follow my Facebook page for more fun wedding updates and to help them plan their big day!

 

 

Congrats Bailee and Tristan. We are so excited for the wedding!

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If at first you don’t succeed, do what your mother told you . . .

The other day a friend asked for my advice and, as I was trying to help, I heard myself say, “Well, as my mom always says” . . . then, I quoted one of her many sayings.  This is when I realized that I not only have a great mom who’s kind, fun, and endlessly supportive, but she’s also darn smart.

Kristine blog 2 mom 2016When it comes to navigating life’s twists and turns, she always seems to know the right thing to do and the right thing to say.  This blog is to both celebrate my mom and share some of her gems with you . . . and I’ve included just a few below.  As you read through these, please think of your own mother and the words of wisdom she’s shared with you, and then please share with me!

 

Smart Quotes from my Mother Marilyn:

Kristine blog 2 1976“We Go By Improvement” . . . This means: don’t kill yourself trying to be perfect.  The goal here is to improve the situation.  For example: You wake up, stumble out of bed, look in the mirror and scream because you didn’t get you beauty sleep (the dark circles, and bags under your eyes prove it). Don’t crawl back to bed because you feel hideous, just be better, go by improvement.  Grab your under eye concealer, comb you hair, put on a bright color shirt . . . just improve the situation. I use this one all the time, as trying to be perfect is exhausting!  But, being better is not only doable, but also energizing.   You can always improve.

Kristine blog 2 mom 1983“Always Pray for the Truth” . . . When you’re confused, frustrated or unsure, look, ask and seek the truth.  You can’t fix a problem with speculations or assumptions.  When you have the truth, you can go forward. If you don’t have the facts, you’ll just make up a story and live in uncertainty.  The truth sometimes hurts, but it’s always a gift.

“Your Intuition is Your GPS” . . . Mom would say “I never worried about you, Kristine, because you follow your intuition, and your intuition is always right . . . so listen when it talks to you, it’s your GPS.” I follow this one to Kristine blog 2 mom 1989this day.  At times, I’ve gone into a room, turned around and left because it didn’t ‘feel right’ while, other times I’ve taken leaps of faith when a surprised opportunity came my way, just because it ‘felt right’. Intuition is God directing you, so don’t try another route.

 “Never apologize for being overdressed” . . . You go to a BBQ, and the dress code is casual. You show up in a pretty sundress with matching sandals, while the rest of the guests are wearing cut off shorts, t-shirts and flip flops. Your ‘casual’ is just different than theirs, and that’s okay!  You never have to apologize for trying to feel, look or act your best.

Kristine blog 2 mom 2009 “We’ll Have None of That” . . . This is my mom’s way of saying: not acceptable. You don’t have to raise your voice, or discuss a situation to death.  If you don’t like something . . . just have none of it.  End the discussion.  Stand for what you believe, and don’t apologize for it.

 Thanks Mom your guidance, love and wisdom . . . you’re the best!

 

Please share your motherly wisdom with me  – I’d love to know the smart things your mother says!

Kristine blog 2 mom 2016

 

 

 

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