Category Archives: Family Fun and Bonding

Coconuts to go

One of the awesome things about living in Costa Rica is seeing seeing so many tropical fruit trees growing everywhere, including Mango, Papaya and Banana trees but most of all you see the coconut trees everywhere filled with coconuts. If you are lucky enough the coconuts are low enough to pick without having to climb  up a tall tree which is in itself a great skill some Ticos poses and is a fun thing to watch.

Fortunately for us there are always lower trees which we can pick our own coconuts from.

And believe me the water you get to drink is amazingly refreshing especially when you are on the beach.IMG_1261


Surfing In Jaco

Today the boys got to go for their surfing lesson at 8 am ..Although it was low tide there were some good waves to ride.

The boys were with their instructor _DSC3589Gonzalo who is an awesome surfer and really pushes the boys hard….and they love it.

They both managed to ride a wave after wave….And even waved to the camera while doing it…


I got this one

I got this one


Of course there were also some spills…

Ooooo nooo

Ooooo nooo


Or not

Or not

When it was all over the boys felt great and can’t wait till they go out again tomorrow.

I'm cool

I’m cool


A Rainy Day …Yahoooo!

Today was a great day….Tonia and I were up at 6:30 am…yes I was even up : ), the boys got up around 7:30 and by 8:50 we were out of the door and heading to Budget car rental to pick up our car for the week.

Of course the car was not ready at the time we booked it since they had to bring it in from the airport town of Liberia, so we decided to go to the bank to cash some money which was an interesting process…when you first walk in to the bank you are greeted by an armed guard who asks you what you need then gives you a number and directs you to a seat so you can wait for the tellers to call you.  It is very quiet and formal, only one person is allowed at the teller at a time, and you must have your passport at all times…no one seems to be in a rush though and the teller actually smiles.

After the bank we decided to go for a coffee at a small cafe


(Costa Rican coffee tastes great by the way). and while there we met a couple who happened to be involved with the art community in town and asked me to submit my work for a show…so I am excited about the opportunity. After our coffee we headed back to Budget and picked up our car, the rep was great and very professional although not in a rush…it is so hot here so everyone moves a little slower. 

Did I mention that it is really hot here.  It seems that there is always a layer of sweat on your skin.

We headed to Santa Cruse (a small town about a half hour drive from Tamarindo). For lunch we enjoyed a Fish Casado which is a typical local dish

DCIM100GOPRO was fresh and tasty and with service to match…and only cost about $10. 

While we waited for our meal though we were excited when we heard some thunder….and then the rain came down!…the rain seemed to cool everything down and no one seemed to be concerned about getting wet.  The rain was welcomed with celebration, coming in the midst of a season with not nearly enough rain, and an overwhelmingly relentless heat that need to break.  Yahoo!


The low clouds created a mist rising over the forest on the surrounding hills so I had to stop for a quick picture.

When we got back into Tamarindo the rain started again and the streets were muddy.

Navigating the rain filled potholes with the little Toyota was a challenge, but we made it home and prepared a healthy dinner.

Screen Shot 2015-08-22 at 8.40.55 PM



By the way we still have running water. Another Yahoo!






We’ve Arrived!

After nearly a year since we thought about this big move…we are finally in Tamarindo, Costa Rica, and it is hot…I mean really hot!

The final days leading up to this point were a blur, we had to to clean and deliver our boat to its new skippers. 



Tonia and I then had to pack our home and prepare it for the new family who
would be moving in next month, meet with the bank to take care of our accounts,_DSC2673 meet with the lawyer to sign all the forms for the house sale, and then sort and pack our things for storage. And finally we had to tackle the “packing room”, a room full of the essentials which we would take with us into ten suitcases and four carry-ons. _DSC2759 This was a big challenge as there were so many things we really wanted to have here but had to instead pack away for another time.

To add to the craziness Tonia’s and I had to pick up our passports in MississaugaIMG_1138 (an hour plus drive away from home) the day before we were leaving.  Needless to say we were stressed, but we did manage to do it all in the neck of time…..We arrived within 40 minutes of closing – and were happy to have them in our hands.

An hour later, on August 18, we reached our hotel by the airport and had about a half hour to rest before some friends and family members came to say _DSC2779goodbye to us…we had a great time with everyone, and of course some hard and emotional goodbyes. 

After that we hit the sack and even managed to get a few hours of sleep. _DSC2799

Before we knew it though it was time to get up (3am) and head to the airport. _DSC2803the boys were great and did not complain about having to get up so early. They were so excited. Even after we stood in line for over two hours they were well behaved and able to hold it together.  Thanks to US customs we almost missed our flight…yes we arrived at the gate just over seven minutes before the plane was scheduled to take off…that was crazy.


IMG_1143Our flight was uneventful and after a brief stop in Atlanta we finally landed in Liberia, Costa Rica…We even managed to have almost all our suitcases arrive with us! All except for one which stayed in Atlanta for another day…Costa Rican customs was great, they never blinked an eye, and off we went with four carts of luggage onto Costa Rican soil.  As we walked out of the airport we were greeted by a familiar face holding a sign with Tonia’s name on it….it was our shuttle driver who had brought IMG_1154us to the airport the last time we were in Costa Rica…we loaded our bags and an hour later we were in Tamarindo in front of our new home. We were greeted by a smiling condo manager (Liane) and two other gentlemen who helped us to bring our bags up to the third floor…We were welcomed by a plate of cookies, and a bottle of wine being chilled in the fridge.  Thanks so much Liane!  You are the best!

Did I tell you how hot it was?….well lets just say it was really really hot…we were tired, excited, and looking forward to a nice cold shower…….That was not to be though as we found out that our condo did not have running water and there were workers who were installing a reserve water tank in the condo….of course we were told that this would be done in a an hour or so.  Turns out we learned right away what is meant by the term Tico Time….

Now we are in our third day and finally today we resolved the water issue.  Lucky for us we have a pool and the ocean is only six minute walk from here so we are just rolling with it and hopefully we will continue to have water tomorrow.

For now we’ll just say “Pura Vida”…or in another words, take it as it comes, be in the moment, live the good life….


Heading in 2015 – Happy New Year from Our Cosmic Core

This time of the year always brings with it newfound optimism and much personal reflection.  After a tough fall of instability in our lives, feeling overwhelmed at times with it all, and falling into exhaustion – Bassam and I committed to being well rested for the holidays so that we could enjoy being in the moment and making memories with our boys.

We find ourselves at the end of the holiday season, exhausted again – but in a good way.  The kind of exhausted you feel after a full day of skiing down mountains or after an all day hike through a forest trail.  The good kind of exhausted.  Blissful. Satisfied. And sleepy.

The boys, on the other hand, continue to be full of energy and creativity – finding endless ways to play new games with their Christmas toys.

This year we decided that we would start the year off spending time doing those things we love most.  So we planned a couple of jam-packed days that turned our overnight into a trip that felt like were away for a much longer than we were.

Last year at this time we stayed a few nights at the beloved Fern Resort, where we met Kathy and Kya in the first moments we arrived.  Our families connected instantly, and the boys loved that Kya was “adopted just like us!”, and they have asked about her often in the last year.  So on new year’s eve we finally saw Kya and Kathy again, a year since our trip to Fern, and our first stop was at the Skyzone Tampoling Centre in Mississauga.  After the kids successfully jumped themselves into a sweaty, flushed, and hungry state, we headed over to a Korean restaurant, where we sat on the floor to eat and watched our food being cooked in the middle of our table.

_DSC1036 _DSC1038 _DSC1027After a quick swim and some down time at the hotel we got dressed in costume and went to an awesome new year’s party!  All of us were wide awake for the countdown, left with very full bellies, and having had immensely enjoyed spending time with cousins. The Disney theme meant chilli dogs, popcorn, a candy station, and every kind of Disney snack you can think of!  Thank you Aunt Terry, Joe, Sue and family.  It was a fabulous event as usual!
_DSC1040 _DSC1052
The four of us woke up tired but happy.  After another swim and check out, we headed to a cafe, where the four of us could spend some quiet family time together sipping warm drinks and being silly.  We grabbed a newspaper, some herbal teas, a couple of pens, and then we read horoscopes, scratched bingo tickets, solved Sudoko, and completed word searches.

Our last stop was at the Kuni’s – more cousins!  After a deliciously hearty meal – that good kind of tired set in.



This marks the end of the season, but the start of new one…..and us four will be spending some time in the next couple of days deciding on our goals for the year, those things we hope will come true for us, and together, which of those dreams are going to be in the making for 2015!!

We will be sure to share with all of you….stay tuned….we have some plans brewing!

Happy New Year to all! Love us four. xxxx

Catch of The Day

After a few hours of fishing on Lake Simcoe we moored the boat and made our way home excited to prepare our catch of the day.


Lake Perch, a very nice fish to fry. Served with fresh lemon juice, spiced rice and Garlic Lemon Coleslaw.




Fish is salted and ready to go.


A few minutes in the hot oil and we are ready to eat.


One awesome day and an awesome meal.


For the Love of a Child: An Adoption Story

This story is incredibly beautiful, a story of love and devotion that I can never forget, and that I have not been able to get off my mind since I watched it……grab a cozy spot with someone you love, and a box of tissues – you will need it!

Share your own stories and reactions in the comments below!

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3 Climates, 1 Weekend: Sailing Simcoe

The winds, as predicted, were strong and gusty, and had the cold chill of October despite being mid-August.  The days ahead were meant to be equally fall-like, with rain, low temperatures, and cold nights. But with the rapid dwindling away of summer weekends, coupled with the kids’ disappointment at the possibility of yet another weather-dependent summer trip being cancelled…..we decided to make the trip across Lake Simcoe by sail anyway.  Besides, the wind was coming from the right direction – a north westerly.

We had already forgotten that only an hour earlier we had been arguing about whose load to carry on board was the heaviest, or that we all blamed someone other than ourselves for the temporary misplacement of the dock keys, or the sense of urgency with which we crossed the final chores off the checklist: fishing bait in cooler, wined stored safely, water tank filled, toilet emptied, and all safety gear made accessible.  We had already forgotten that we had been a sweaty, irritated mess of a family, as the waves and the water quickly transformed us into a zen-like peace, where we moved at one with the wind.


Our Sailboat – Mast Confusion – on Lake Simcoe

Krazy Kid, who had never been seasick before in all his three summers as a miniature sailor, played games with the clouds to keep his eyes on the horizon, and his nausea at bay.  Roo played solo in the cabin, unaffected by the constant roll of the boat caused by four foot broadside waves, determined to finish his chapter in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, before bugging someone to join him in a game of Crazy Eight Countdown.






Bassam’s strength was well needed for pulling the ropes, as the wind, now at twenty knots, was shifty and the sails needed constant adjustments.  And I kept my eye on our destination ahead, not yet even in view across the vastness of a lake with no end.  The tiller revealed the force of our lake, and with its constant movement and fierce resistance, it appeared to be announcing its command of our journey.  And all the while, the wind never bowing down, as if to prove its equality in ruling our way, its presence is made known by its constant rush through the sails.  Its brush against our skin, after hours on the water, began to feel like an affectionate rub from an old, wise friend.


We passed by Johnson’s Beach, then Big Bay Point, then Hawkestone, and Carthew Bay along our way, but not without pointing out the obvious and taking a peak of these familiar places through the lens of our binoculars. Eventually, the shoreline on the other side of the lake showed itself, and the tower marking our destination came in and out of view as the bow of the boat bobbed up and down.  Our surrender to the powers that have carried us across our lake have made the five hour journey pass quickly.

Sailing 3


Sailboat 4









A part in the clouds and a window in time makes for two eager little boys who whip off their shirts, happy for the sudden sunshine and their arrival at Lagoon City beach.  The sand is still cool, but the shallow beach allows them the freedom to escape the shoreline for what feels like miles away, uninhibited by swim ropes or lifeguards, just two boys who think they are fish and are living in the moment.


Lagoon City beach is always the warmest on the lake, but the cold winter left the lake frozen too long and the cool summer has failed to warm it up.  It wasn’t this that invited their departure from the beach though, but the dark clouds rolling quickly in and the promise given by the distant rumbling of a storm sure to come.



Lagoon city

Lagoon cityWe spent two nights in Lagoon City, and all the hours of daylight that fit in between.  When the weather settled to a drizzle the boys cast their rods, and when we ran out of worms we found shelter in our 23 foot Sonic, or alternately, the Lakeview Restaurant, right next to where we were tied up – a place to put our feet on steady ground or get a little bit of space from one another’s energy.


Restaurants are typically to be avoided on sailing adventures  – as we strive to keep close to nature and spend hours swimming in the very waters on which we travelled – but this time the Lakeview became part of our limited world and a spot we ran to while jumping between puddles in already soaked shoes, looking forward to a warm tea and a welcoming smile.  There, with the comforting smell of peppermint tea, and the friendly conversation with our server, we began to appreciate that the poor weather had successfully slowed us all down.   Between deals for card tournaments, we found ourselves immersed in the lazy lagoon scene just outside the rain-soaked windows….mesmerized by the continuous, light tap-tap of drops running down to gather in the sills and the seldom passing by of other boats that also decided to test the waters.


And eventually, after a brief inspection of the drenched cockpit and the waterlogged on board barbecue, we lengthened our Lakeview stay and ordered dinner, a bottle of wine, and indulged in one too many turtle cheesecakes.  The food was good – but even better was the feeling of being invited for dinner at a neighbour’s comfortable home, of sharing cheerful conversation and connection with all those whirling around us, and the relaxation in knowing we only had to carry our full stomachs to our gently rocking bed a few steps away.

The weekend was one of those where one hour runs into the other, and one day into the next, and so it happened that we were sailing the distance back to where we came from.  Today it was an eight hour journey across the lake and down the bay.  We found ourselves at one time flopping and floating and sunny and windless (seizing the moment, we jumped off the boat into the chilly water and dared one another to do the same) and at another time in the strongest of winds, heeling so much that our sails were in the water (and letting out exhilarated hoots and hollers for the speeds we were reaching).

DCIM100GOPROAs we rounded the last bend and arrived back, slowly maneuvering through the marina to settle our Sonic back in its space, we knew this was a trip without a climax, and that our laundry bag was so much heavier going off board than when it came on board – not just being weighed down by wet bathing suits and evidence of incredible wet sailing, but also by memories of rain and dark clouds, and the irony of being forced to be idle in our ever moving tent on the water.


We roll into the dock, and in that very moment we spot, first by our ears and then with our eyes, a Bowrider leaping the length of the bay, and we smile at one another – knowing that a weekend journey for us would only take that noisy boat about 40 minutes.   I had thought all this time we had been somewhere else, and had been focused on the making the best of a wet weekend, on exploring old territory in a new way, and in the last hours, on my eagerness to reach home.  But now, as I stared towards the distance from which we came, and watched that motorboat quickly shrink from my vision as it sped away, I realized….despite our hours on the water we had never actually left home….It was in this moment that I experienced the peak in our trip, the break in our wave…Lake Simcoe was our backyard playground, the giver of adventures, the tester of our strengths, the enforcer of the rules of unwinding, the trickster in creating illusions with the passage of distance and time, and the wise teacher of the all the gifts right here at home.

Being Adopted at Eight Years Old: By Random Roo

Why Being Adopted at Eight Years Old is Really Hard


When I was 8 years old I was adopted. The reasons why is could be hard to be adopted at 8 years old are you are learning the rules with each family you live with, you are not as good at listening to the rules, you might be adventurous but your adopted family might not. You might also cry a lot because you miss your birth parents, or you may feel like you hate your forever family.

My experiences like these is that it is harder to learn the rules and you get in trouble a lot. When I transitioned it was really hard that we couldn’t live with our adopted mom and dad right away. This was confusing. This was also hard because we would get excited and then have to leave each other. Leaving our foster family and my foster brothers and sisters was hard because I spent a lot of time with them. Once I was at mom and dad’s we used to hide behind things and climb up things, and get in trouble because we didn’t know the rules. I also fought a lot more with my brother at that time, because we were both learning so many new things. I was nervous in the beginning because I didn’t know what I would get in trouble for and what I wouldn’t.

Why Being Adopted at Eight Years Old is Really Awesome


The reasons why being adopted at eight years old is really awesome are that you might be really adventurous and your adoptive family may love adventures too. If you are really active you might have a big yard to go out in all the time or being able to do things you didn’t do before like travel to new places or go camping.

I have had all these experiences with my adoptive family. When I transitioned it was really awesome because we would see Mom and Dad and go for walks through the forest together. It was really awesome because it was a surprise that we were going to be adopted by mom and dad, who we had met once before at McDonald’s. When we got our Welcome Books from Mom and Dad my brother and I were really excited. I was really excited when we had our first sleepover and when we loaded up our boxes to go to our new home. I was really happy because I knew that if someone was adopting you it must be because they really wanted you. When I first moved home I was really picky with food and Mom and Dad made us everything we wanted to help us feel safe. That was cool. We would go to fun places together and I felt really safe with Mom and Dad.




Sunny Sundays and Lemonade Stands: Saving for our Trip Fund

Random Roo and Krazy Kid have been brewing a plan for their lemonade and cookie stand for a few weeks, and have been patiently waiting for a weekend day at home that was hot enough to entice customers.  Today they set quickly to work manifesting their little dream  – creating a  sign, bringing out the table, making ice, borrowing straws from the neighbour, setting up comfortable chairs in anticipation of a long day at work, and finding an empty jar to hold their float.

CLICK HERE: Mom spots our first customer

Lemonade standMama is very proud of their hard work and dedication – keeping close to their stand for HOURS, yelling out advertisements, washing cups carefully when needed, recruiting friends to help them, and treating all their customers with welcoming hospitality and excellent manners.

CLICK HERE: An exciting start!

At the end of the day we ceremoniously added the money they raised to our trip fund jar!  Today marks the inspiration for new ideas and the start of many fund-raising projects.


It has been SO MUCH fun to see their smiles and their eyes light up as they watched their hopes grow in a jar, and to see them get that bubbling up feeling inside because they believe what they have been dreaming about is now truly possible.  I hope they keep today forever in their memories of childhood summers and that when we finally have enough for our next family trip, that they feel the same pride in themselves that I feel for them today, knowing that it was THEIR focus on THEIR dreams that allowed them to manifest a new adventure.


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