Costa Rica trip!

Playa Pelada-- the beach a three-minute walk from our rental house...

Hello everyone!

Thought I'd share some images from the trip I took with Ian and Lil Dude to Costa Rica over spring break.  We stayed at Playa Pelada, on the Nicoya peninsula... bliss... (except for all those times we got lost because none of the roads were marked... and a few other moments (stay tuned for more on that)).

Riding on horseback through the jungle (Lil Dude and Ian did this without me-- I'm allergic to horses, hippos, hamsters, cats, guinea pigs, and bunnies.)

On the beach...

Mangrove swamp!

 Howler monkeys hung out in our yard and woke us up every morning before dawn... they made this low, growly sound that brought to mind a zombie apocalypse.

I love caves... and these were accessible only at low tide, which made them extra enchanting for me!

En route to the caves...

I hardly brushed my hair for two weeks-- the sea and salt and wind made it wild... and then one day, I noticed dreadlocks forming, and finally gave in and had a looooong session with the hairbrush.

The other end of "our" beach... a place where local, ex-pat, and tourist families all hung out together at sunset.

My boys...

Lil Dude is such a creature of the sea... the sand and water could entertain him all day.

He learned to surf from an instructor that looked like a Costa Rican version of young Brad Pitt.

Ian practiced surfing too-- he's still a beginner, but very enthusiastic. ;-)

We hung out at this gelato place in the hot, hot, HOT afternoons...

Lil Dude LOVED the pool at our house... that's his snorkel you see on the right.

Our porch, where I read some magical books and scribbled in my journal and sipped agua de sandia.

Bougainvillea is so pretty... I wish we could grow it in our garden in Colorado.

Hibiscus, too...

We snorkeled here one morning... the most exciting discovery was a giant rusted fishing knife as big as a sword.  Fake pirate fights ensued.

We watched many sunsets from many scenic spots...

I feel compelled to interrupt this series of sunset photos to show you how we afford an international vacation every year.  I present to you my car (which has no hubcaps, a torn interior ceiling thanks to Lil Dude ripping it off as a toddler, and -- in addition to transporting us--it serves as storage for junk for several months/years at a stretch until making it to Goodwill.)

So I occasionally ask myself, Laura, would you rather have a new car or go on yearly international vacations?  Laura, would you rather have hubcaps or pay for half a plane ticket?  Laura, would you rather have that ripped ceiling fixed or pay for the other half of a plane ticket? Laura, would you rather get the car detailed or pay for a night at a rental house in some tropical paradise?  You get the idea. I believe that making travel a part of our lives is largely about priorities.  And really, visiting another country will stimulate your mind and spirit and senses SO MUCH MORE than a nice shiny new car (or the latest technology) will.... Anyway, pardon that rant, and now, on with the sunsets!

Well, actually, I also feel compelled to tell you that although we did experience high levels of bliss on this trip, every day one of us threw a temper tantrum (as with every family vacation we take).  It could be me, Ian, or Lil Dude... and I've learned to accept this as the small price you pay for vacation bliss.  (For example, one day I threw a tantrum about the jackhammer noises thundering from the house next door.  Ian threw a tantrum because Lil Dude and I claimed it was too hot to accompany him on a tidal pool exploration one afternoon.  And Lil Dude threw a tantrum because Ian and I wouldn't clean out all the bugs and leaf debris with the pool net one morning.)  I just feel it's important to juxtapose these sunset pictures with a little grounding in reality, you know?

Okay.  Now back to reveling in sunsets.  It's funny how usually temper tantrums don't happen in the moment you're watching sunsets over the ocean... everyone stops what they're doing and stares at the disappearing sun and just soaks in all that beauty.

Here's to happy travels in your future!


My Writing Life with Baby So Far

Hi! I'm in my trailer with the heater pumping, keeping me toasty despite the chilliness outside. I'm so glad I have this trailer! It's a peaceful place where I can come with my dog Luli and forget everything else and just write. Back in August, in Loveland, when I was on a mini (mini) tour of this trailer, deciding whether or not to get it, the previous owner said off-handedly, "My wife says this trailer has a really good vibe."

And that was the deciding factor. (I've learned that my major decisions are usually made irrationally). This trailer DOES have a good vibe. I felt it then, on my mini-tour, and it was validating that his wife thought so, too. (It's old-- I love imagining all the adventures it's been on over the past half-century...)

So, every day for a few hours while either a babysitter or my husband is watching Baby (who I will tell you about in a moment), I come in here with my steaming teapot, light the heater, and settle in to write and drink lots of tea. First, I usually just sit a few moments and let myself sink into the oceanic sounds of the heater's breath, and then I write a little in my journal.

I've been choosing a few lines of Rumi poetry every day to muse about in my journal, which helps to center me and get me focused on the story at hand. (In the manuscript I'm working on, the main character's mom is a flighty hippie-chick who is always quoting Rumi...) I have a rough draft of the manuscript at this point, but I'm trying to deepen the characters and explore the subtleties of their relationships. I've been taking a character every day and writing heaps of details about her, about the facets of her life and mind and heart, exploring her memories and dreams. I think it's a good way to ease myself back into this manuscript after a month of practically no writing. Which brings me to... BABY!

(I'll call him Baby since my mother-in-law pointed out that maybe I shouldn't use his name on a public blog (on accounta all you crazy stalker types out there-- you know who you are...) And I noticed that other writers tend to not mention their kids' names on their blogs, so I figured I'd follow suit.)

So... Baby! He's almost ten months old now, and he's been with us for six action-packed weeks. The funniest thing he does is give long, slow zerberts (aka raspberries) to the leather sofa, which sound like extremely loud farts. Seeing how funny I find that, he tries to entertain me by zerberting other unexpected objects, like the wood floor. I can't figure out if some kind of five-second rule applies there. I don't want to be a hyper, overprotective mom (for those of you who've read Red Glass, I have a good dose of Sophie's germ-phobia in me, and I've sworn not to impose it upon my child...). But is he crossing a gross-ness line with the floor zerberts? That's something they don't specifically deal with in the What To Expect baby books. Hmmm... I'll ask my mom when she comes to help out next week.

The most inspiring thing about Baby, as relates to my writing (because after all, this is a Writer's blog, not a Gushing-New-Mom's blog) is how fascinated he is by the patterns he's begun to discover in this world. He takes delight in swinging the bathroom door open and closed, open and closed, mouth parted in rapt wonder. Or playing peek-a-boo. It's enthralling to him that when you pull a cloth over your face, and lift it up, your face is STILL THERE! It's worthy of smiling and laughing and clapping his hands in wild abandon.

In my writing, I want to approach life with this freshness, this joy over the simplest things. One of the best things about reading a good book, I think, is that it reminds you that the world is an endlessly fascinating place. It strips the jaded parts of you away, and makes you feel like everything is new and mesmerizing.

I'll end this post with some nice news about my books. Red Glass is one of 7 finalists in the Cybils Award! This is a Bloggers award in its second year. The more I learn about this award, the cooler I realize it is. It's a really big honor. And speaking of bloggers, there have been some lovely reviews of Red Glass by bloggers, which I've posted on my website. (Just click the link, then click Reviews, then scroll down to the Online Review section).

I have an hour of time left in this trailer before my baby-sitter leaves, so I'd better delve back into some book-writing now.

Thanks for reading, and have a joyful, adventurous new year!

P.S. These pics are from our trip to Guatemala to pick up Baby-- they were taken in the town of Antigua. There's a Bird of Paradise flower, which looks amazingly like a bird's silhouette, doesn't it? There's a white church with cacti growing out of the corner, which my husband and I thought was cool. There's a clay face pot with what I guess is a replica of ancient Mayan pots? There's a red house with plants either growing from the roof or perhaps sticking out from a hidden courtyard.