Butterflies in Costa Rica

We recently enjoyed a trip to a Butterfly Garden near Jaco Beach. It was a real hole-in-the-wall place, but I learned that the difference is really made by your tour guide. Ours was very friendly and informative.

This big, homely guy is the caterpillar for the Owl butterfly.

Our tour guide showed us the neatest phenomenon. He tickled the chrysalis and it wiggled! He told us that at this stage of development there is only a liquid inside the chrysalis and scientists cannot figure out why they react like that.

The greatest defense this butterfly has against predators is it's camoflauge. These two eye spots are what earn the name 'Owl'.

Turned this way, you can see a snake face, another defense against predators.

A small glimpse of the inside of the wings. This was hard to get as they mostly rest with their wings closed.

Costa Rica's most famous butterfly is the Blue Morpho. The blue on the inside is much more brilliant than that of the Owl.

The caterpillar.

Sometimes the Morpho and Owl are confused with each other. The Morpho has seven spots, with the largest being in the center.

And my favorite butterfly picture of the day.

Still trying to figure out what kind he is. Should have asked the guide.


Ever been shopping with a teenage girl?

We have Grandparents in town and they wanted to take the kids Christmas shopping. We went to the Escazu mall. The boys picked out toys from the toy store and then it was Alix's turn. She decided she would like a new pair of jeans.

Anyone who has ever been shopping with a teenage daughter (especially one as picky as mine) can realize what a stressful event this might end up being.

We haven't purchased any clothes here so I don't even know where to look. But we are at the mall, right? There's got to be something! We go to American Eagle and Guess...I went into sticker shock looking at price tags of over $100 a pair. Alix said, "Mom, let's go somewhere else..."

We ended up at the Levi's store. Ok, these are only $50 (Grandma says this is ok, I'm still in sticker shock). She tries on one pair..."Mom, these are too low at the waist. Are there any higher?"

We find another pair...she thinks they might do. But..."Mom, could you go get dad so he can look and tell me if they are too tight?"

She finally found the perfect pair and I was incredibly blessed by this shopping trip with my teenage daughter. Not only was she concerned with her sense of modesty...she still wanted to make sure her dad would be pleased. Double checking her standards against his in recognizing that her senses may have conformed ever so slightly to this culture that we live in.

May she always care what her daddy thinks.


Hickey Anyone?

I was playing Disney's Scene It with the boys a few days ago. We came upon one of the scenes from the movie, The Kid. Bruce Willis was tucking his younger self in bed and they were talking about first experiences he was going to have..."When do I get my license? When do I get my first car? When do I get my first hickey?"

The scene is over and Christopher (age11) asks, "What is a hickey anyway?" Before I even have a chance to get nervous, Seth (age 6) confidently answers, "It's what you use to blow your nose."


Look What Wandered In...

These are just a few extra guests we have found in and around our house over the last year...

This guy was hanging out near my washing machine...

Same one, different view...

We rescued this one from the cat, but to no avail. The boys had a dragonfly funeral later that day.
Another creepy guy. I don't know which is worse, hairy or not.
Geometride Moth (my best guess)

You know it's time for a timeline when...

we were reading about George III marrying a German. Seth gasps and says, "but Americans are supposed to be fighting the Germans!"
(had to take a second and explain that there was no official 'America' yet and that WWII was still a long way off!)



Nathan's Pilgrim House

Seth's. Looks like Seth's pilgrims are Ticos! :o)



This is the first Thanksgiving in a long time that our family has not been together. Alix expressed that she would still like us to have turkey, potatoes, and of course, pumpkin pie. Well, it is hard to make a Thanksgiving Dinner for four people (the smallest turkey I could find was 16lbs.) but I did not feel up to inviting people over and entertaining without Spencer. We had so much food left over! I was thrilled when ChiChi came over as I was cleaning up. He said he wasn't hungry, but I packed up a load of food for him to take home to his family (there are at least 10 people living in his house). He came back about an hour later and told me how full he was. I was so pleased to hear that his family dug in and ate it right when he got there.


Trying Something New

We've been having a little bit of a hard time when it comes to doing schoolwork. Attitudes are just not at their best. Today we tried something new. I have these electronic time tickets from Homeschool with Index Cards that I decided to put to some use. It made all the difference. Seth had a great attitude during Spanish class today (he usually gives Adriana, our sweet, soft spoken tutor, a hard time). It will also be great to teach them to budget and prioritze their freetime. Not to mention, help me to set limits to how much time they are 'plugged in'!


Cranberry Thanksgiving Poll

The black object, on the right. What do you think it is?

UPDATE: I emailed the Devlins (children). After a couple emails I received this response from their daughter:

"It is believed to be an antique coach lantern.Best,Wende D. Gates"


Famous Quotes

Seth: "Murphy's not a dog, he's a spic -r- spaniel."

Nathan: While coloring an Indian picture, "I know there is Indian on dad's side. That makes us half Indian and half pirate!" (Blackbeard is on my side of the family)

Alix: "Now, which dishes did you want me to wash?"

Christopher: I sent a funny email to my mom which she read aloud to Chris. He says, "I didn't know my mom was funny. I've never heard her say anything funny before."

Spencer: I hear this as I am listening to phone messages, "Hey, the phone is going straight to voicemail. You might want to listen to messages."

Alix (again): after falling off my bed, "It's higher than it was before!" my response, "Well, it's not any more narrow!"



Last night I was waiting for paint to dry on my bed. Since Christopher and Spencer are out of town, I just decided to bunk in with the younger boys. We had an extra bunk on their new triple decker bunkbed, so everyone just moved up one.

After being mysteriously busy in their room for a while, Seth comes in and tells me they are ready! I go in to find that Seth had cleaned his room, made his bed and even set up a couple of bed buddies for me! They were all giggles while I was tucking them in. Finally, I ask, 'Does this feel kind of like a sleepover?' They grinned and the answer was a resounding 'yes'! I felt so blessed to be welcomed in with such excitement, and that they would be pleased with something so simple. (apparently we don't get out much :o)


My friend, ChiChi

*photo by Nick Wisda
A year ago this week we met Chichi...

The first time he came over with a couple other friends and we ended up playing Monopoly. What an experience! Playing Monopoly in Spanish while trying to keep everyone from stealing from the bank, and they were constantly lending money to each other! The game seemed to go on forever. Needless to say my first impression was that he was quite a little punk!

Shortly after, we were sitting playing another game and Christopher came down to tell me goodnight. I tell him 'love you'. Chichi asks, what is that? So I translated what I had said to Christopher. His puzzled look led to talk of his relationship with his mom. And I realized that this was such a foreign concept, that someone would say 'I love you' before you go to sleep at night.

There were many troubles during his childhood. One of the two guys that might be his father is a drug addict who lives in a box, the other is dead. Then when he became a rebellious teen his mom said she didn't want him anymore. He was able to move in with his abuela, who is a wonderful woman who loves the Lord, but as they basically share a house with his mom and 7 siblings, he is constantly faced with the rejection of his mother.

Over the course of the year the Holy Spirit has been working on his heart. He is eager to learn and thrilled to have a relationship with Jesus. He was disappointed, though, because he said he would fall asleep sometimes when he prayed at night. I told him it was ok. The Lord knows his heart and understands how tired he is. I just hope that right before Chichi drifts off to sleep, he can hear the Holy Spirit whisper 'I love you' in his ear.



I found these buggers on my oregano. Can anyone help me identify?

ETA: Identified! Cabbage Loopers

Try Try Again

I understand that I have totally neglected this blog-thing. I guess I was intimidated. I don't know. Like I had to impart some spiritual, missionary wisdom as I wrote (you know, like Spencer's Ramblings. Talk about pressure!). The result? I didn't write anything. And who wants to read about my so-called-missionary life anyway? I am not going out and preaching on the street corners every day or holding all night prayer meetings. There are some weeks I don't even leave the house.

So what do my days look like? I am home with the kids. We read a lot, homeschool, read some more. We are doing better homeschooling here than ever before. I have fewer distractions and am not spending my days running errands. The result? We are learning together and I am getting to know my kids. What else do I do? I cook. It seems like there is often a group of people here and they are always hungry. There is no calling Domino's for the 5-5-5 deal here. So I go in and make beans and rice, or sometimes rice and beans.

Then there are those moments when ChiChi will come by and has had a hard week. He likes to talk. He is excited about his new relationship with God and comes in with all sorts of questions. But this is getting long and I want to give ChiChi justice when I share some of our conversations. The point of all this? I guess there is no point except that I am going to give it a go again.