Costa Rica with Savanna

Savanna and I came back from Costa Rica late on Tuesday night last week. We came back with some coffee and chocolate in our suitcase. But I also came back with a load of great memories of hanging out with this little human.

We stayed at a B&B owned by an older couple. The house was designed by the husband, the garden designed by the wife, situated on their family’s coffee plantation. We were surrounded by greenery. They  had two dogs and two cats, which is the equivalent of heaven for Savanna.

We were fed amazing fresh mangoes, juice from their own orange trees, and locally made cheese every morning. We went to the local farmers market to get fresh produce, drank coconut juice, and ate watermelon. When the monsoon rain started in the afternoon, we would stay in and do puzzles, coloring books, play with the host’s grandson’s toys. We took one cocoa farm tour where we gorged on chocolates made from the farm’s own cocoa fruit, and drank hot chocolate from freshly ground cocoa nibs.

In general, we spent a ton of time together enjoying each other’s company. I tried hard to savour every minute of time spent with Savanna, and memorize her still-baby’ish cheeks. I know how fast this time goes by, and I am in such denial that she’s going to kindergarten in September.Angela Chang Photography Costa Rica San Jose trip

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The house we stayed at

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Farmers market

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A fresh bean. My first time seeing one.

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Giant papaya

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Freshly made tortilla

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Savanna spent lots of time playing in the yard with branches and twigs.

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We did hours of coloring and puzzles.

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Churro filled with caramel. I ate most of it.

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Oranges that are great for juicing after they ripen. The smell of the orange flowers is a.m.a.z.i.n.g.

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Savanna collected walnuts in the yard

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On the cocoa farm tour, Savanna got to crack open a cocoa fruit.

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This is what the inside of the cocoa fruit looks like.

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Dried cocoa beans.

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Once dried, the cocoa beans are roasted to intensify the flavour.

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Then you crack the shells open.

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Grind up the cocoa nibs, make hot chocolate, and give it all to Angela.

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This is a story for another day. It’s a story about how I turned a 2-hour drive into a 5-hour drive on the twisty-est and rainy-est mountain roads in Costa Rica.

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And this is how patient this kid is about her mother’s ability to mess up the Google map directions.

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I am totally crazy about this little human being, and absolutely in love with her.

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Every morning, the sweetest and juiciest mango greets us.

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A stroll on the coffee planation with the B&B host.

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Savanna said, “Look Mommy, I found a heart!”

Day 6/365 {Jump}

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I got to pick up Savanna from preschool today. It was just starting to warm up enough that some of the snow on the ground has melted. The two of us had a puddle jumping party behind the community centre, kicking and splashing, making a muddy mess of our shoes and pants.

Unrelated story. Some guy walked by us and smiled. I thought we made him smile by our silliness. I smiled back. You know, I was being friendly and neighbourly and all. A couple of minutes later, after Savanna and I had enough puddle splashing, she looked up and pointed to the side my camera and asked, “Mommy, what’s that?”

I turned my camera around and looked. To my horror, I realized that the back-up tampon in my camera bag was stuck on my wrist strap, hanging off the side of my camera. This whole time I was taking pictures and jumping in puddles, the tampon was hanging off my camera.

Now I wonder if the guy who smiled at us earlier was actually smiling at us, or was stifling a laugh at me.

Logic prevails, sort of

Savanna: Mommy, there’s no big foot, right?

Me: Right. Big foot is not real.

Savanna: But there are bears.

Me: Yes, there are bears. Bears are real.

Savanna: What if you see a bear?

Me: I’ll probably stay in the car.

Savanna: What if you see a baby bear?

Me: I’ll probably still stay in the car.

Savanna: What if the bear wants to give you her baby bear?

Me: Umm, I don’t really want a baby bear.

Savanna: Do you want a baby person?

Me: Well, that’s not entirely up to me. Daddy said no.

Savanna: But you can just get a baby from your belly.

This year, Savanna learns to ski

Last year, I nearly had a meltdown after the first day of Josh’s ski school. He was frustrated, hungry and cold, and I denied him pizza as a treat. He cried and screamed while I dragged him back in the car so we can go home.

Luckily, Savanna is the second child, and I had learned the errors of my ways by the time she started ski school this year. Her pockets were stuffed with heat packs to keep her warm. We arrived on the mountain early enough to have pizza first, they get a special snack in the car afterwards, AND hot chocolate is ready waiting for them.

All my failures aside, I really don’t think Savanna needed me to coddle her. I remember when I dropped her off at preschool when she was 2, and she walked in without looking back. When I dropped her off at ski school, she gave me a little wave and off she went.

Yesterday was her first class. For nearly 3 hours, she learned to ski in -9 C. I was so cold that I had to go inside the lodge to wait. When I went to pick her up, she was the only one still practicing while the other kids have had enough. Her cheeks and her fingers were frozen red, and she had a healthy amount of snot running down her face. But she gave me a big smile and told me she’s a great skier.

My heart just about exploded with pride.

Savanna, you never have to be a great skier. Your attitude makes you the greatest skier in my books!

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Coming up on the magic carpet

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That smallest girl in the purple helmet is my pride and joy.

Baby. Shower.

Part I

Couple of weeks ago, I attended a friend’s baby shower. I took Savanna with me to the shower. I tried to explain to her that’s a party, but she kept asking me why we are watching a baby getting a shower.

After the baby shower, she seemed quite satisfied to learn that when a woman is expecting a baby, she gets a party with great food, balloons, and gifts. In the car, on our way home, she said, “Mommy, I want a baby shower.”

I said, “Savanna, when you are pregnant, Mommy will throw you a shower.”

Savanna said, “What are you going to throw at me?”

I said, “I’m not going to throw anything AT you. I’m just going to throw you a party, as in, organize a party for you. But anyway, it’s way too soon to talk about this now. We’ll wait till you are having a baby.”

Part II

This morning, Savanna announced at breakfast, “Mommy, I’m going to have babies.”

Being still sleepy and not completely with it, I said, “Oh yeah? Why’s that?”

She said, “So you can throw a party at me.”

Because camels are super cool

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(drawn by the super talented dude I married)

10 years ago, when I turned 30, I wanted to do something big to celebrate a new decade. I rode my motorcycle solo from Vancouver to Halifax, camping along the way and eating meals out of my camping stove.

10 years later, things look dramatically different at home. Josh is 5 1/2 and Savanna is 3 1/2. I can’t justify taking off for 2 weeks by myself. The truth is, I don’t think I would do that ride again. I was dog tired last time after 6,200 km, and I was a lot younger then.

My craving for interesting travel never stopped. I feel like this is the right time now to start doing some more interesting things again, involving the kids. Unfortunately, Cliff has to work, and Josh has school. That leaves Savanna and I to plan a girls’ trip on our own.

Savanna and I have agreed that riding on a camel in Morocco would be pretty interesting. We also convinced Sherry that camels are super cool, so she’s coming too to check things out.

I’ll report back in two weeks and let you know if camels are in fact super cool.

Baby boss

The other day, Savanna wanted me to get a toy for her. She said to me in a very bossy tone, “Mommy, get my unicorn!” No ‘please’, no ‘thank you’.

I said, “Savanna, please don’t talk to me with that bossy tone. Ask nicely and I will be happy to get it for you.”

She said, “I’m not bossy tone.”

I said, “Your tone was bossy. Let’s not forget, Mommy is the boss at home. And even then, I always say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. You are not the boss. I’m the Mommy Boss. Daddy is the Daddy Boss.”

She said, “I’m the Baby Boss.”

She wins.Savanna

Baby forever

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Ever since Savanna was a tiny baby, she would point all her fingers like this when she’s carried upstairs after falling asleep in the car. I remember taking lots of photos of her hands like this.

Now that she’s three, she still does the same thing. There are not very many baby-ish things left about her, but this still makes me smile and think about her baby days.

Sometimes I ask her, “Savanna, will you be my baby forever?” She’ll humour me and say, “Yes, Mommy. Goo goo ga ga.” That funny girl.

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From toddler to preschooler: Savanna turns three

Last night I asked Savanna, “You are turning three tomorrow. How about you don’t turn three? How about you stay my little baby forever?” She shook her head and said no.

Damn kiddo.

Today, she turned three.

Dear Savanna,

First thing every morning, you come to my side of the bed and whisper in my ear, “Mommy, I want an apple.” Every morning you eat an apple, or grapes, or banana, or blackberries, or whatever fruit we have. Then you’ll eat cereal or oatmeal. Then you’ll have some scrambled eggs, and finish up with some milk. Breakfast is probably your favorite meal of the day.

You love make-up and accessories. If I don’t put some eyeshadow on you when I’m doing mine, all hell breaks loose. And I remember your death-grip on the mannequin in the store because you had to have those necklace and bracelets. You are the girly girl that your grandma always dreamed of having.

Right now you are very much into Frozen. You sing “Let it go” out loud on a regular basis. You come and tell me, “Elsa froze my heart,” and collapse into my arms. You pretend you’re going to kiss me, pull away the last second, and say, “I’m Prince Hans.” You are so into anything related to that movie, that this morning Daddy and I slaved over making you an Elsa cake for your birthday.

You are a tough little nut. When we took you and Josh trick or treating, you climbed up and down stairs of all the houses we visited, block after block. Even when Josh was tired out and asked to go home, you kept trucking on without a word of complaint. If I took you out on foot, I never have to worry about you not being able to walk the distance.

I love how compassionate you are. Every time Josh gets hurt, you rush to him and say, “Are you ok, sweetheart?” And you pat him on the back or on the head. If I stubbed my toe or something, you’ll run to me and smother me with kisses.

You will try to do something by yourself without asking for help, get frustrated, and end up in tears. We’ve been constantly talking about using your words and ask for help. Lately we’ve seen some great improvements, where you would ask for help to zip up a jacket, or take off your helmet, or get a toy beyond your reach, then you would smile and say proudly, “I used my words!” Yes you did, baby, and I’m so proud of you.

You are not always the most expressive, except for when it counts. One time I came home after being away a whole week for work, you threw your arms around my neck, buried your face on my shoulder, and just chanted, “Mommy, mommy, mommy…” for a long while. When I put you to bed at night, sometimes I lay down next to you on your bed, and you always puts one arm around me and say, “Mommy, don’t go. I love you.” I am completely defenceless when you do that.

This summer we put you in swimming classes, but you didn’t like it. But even though you don’t enjoy swimming, I know you tried hard and endured it enough to finish the classes. I would never expect you to excel at everything, or enjoy everything. I want you to know that I am so proud of how hard you tried.

I see so much of myself in you, that often I have to remind myself that you are your own person. I love watching you play, explore the world around you, and grow into the little kid I have come to respect. Even though you are petite and still fit in 2T clothes, your personality is larger than life.

You have changed my life from the moment you came out of my belly. I am so thrilled you are my daughter, and I cannot imagine you being anything other than exactly who you are today. Happy birthday, my girl.

Love,

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