2011 Christmas Letter
Nothing much going on here, pretty much the same old thing as every other Christmas letter; birthdays, holidays, fishing, camping….. Oh, we did pack up and move to a foreign country, but other than that things are pretty much the same.
All right enough of that cutesy sarcastic stuff, this has been the biggest life changing year of our young, very young lives. We did it, we packed up the kids, some clothes a little stuff and moved to Costa Rica. We are here and we have been here for about 1/2 year by the time you read this. Now I know what you are thinking, “oooh Costa Rica, big deal, sun, beaches, Pura Vida.” And that’s all true, it is a very nice place to be for the climate. However it has been a very difficult process for us to get here and to get settled. Things are not simple, life is slow and with me not working, it has been a huge change! We have made new friends, become involved in our church and are doing our best to live, and to surf, but there are a lot of things we miss from home, mostly Jo, our family, our great friends, our church and Shyla. We are doing our best to adjust, and so far the best therapy has been the beach.
Jo did not get to move with us, and that makes us extremely sad. We miss her incredibly but we try to talk to her often, and get to Skype with her when she visits the Gross’s house. We appreciate those moments greatly.We don’t understand it, we don’t like it, but we are dealing with it.
Speaking of Skype, we watch our old church services quite a bit from here, it is fun to see everybody and feel like we are still in touch. We really appreciate those who take a second to wave to the camera before service starts, but you really don’t have to say “hi mom”.
Dorian, Alli, Jeremy and Olivia all attend a little private school here called Gold Coast. It is an online school which means they turn all their work in online, and get lectures and help from the teachers on staff. They have all jumped in with both feet and are doing great! Alli is on student government, Dorian is Capt. of the basketball team, Jeremy is playing bball and making friends, especially with guys who love guns, Livy is making friends with the French people and wants to learn French, Spanish and German. Perhaps she wants to start her own country with a new language. They are all getting very good grades and other than the usual teen complaining, I think they enjoy it immensely. The down side, they have to each have a laptop to bring to school, so that brings our computer count in the house to 312 computers. I think we have personally caused about a dozen of the blackouts we suffer in this country.
Dorian and Alli turned 18 and have both decided to go to college back in the good ole USA. Alli wants to go to our Alma Mater, Evangel, and Dorian wants to be by a big city somewhere in Florida, to a school called Palm Beach Atlantic. Alli is thinking about a counseling major and Dorian a sports therapists trainer thingy major. Personally I think he choose PBA because they use the Miami Heat’s therapy room for class. At least they will both be close. So that means by this summer we will have gone from Tra and Glenn makes 10 to Tra and Glenn makes seven. Maybe we will have to change the blog name to Tra and Glenn seventh heaven.
Livy and Jeremy are smack dab in the middle of their teen years. Jeremy constantly reminds us how much he misses snowboarding, his airsoft guns, cold weather and his friends, in that order. However, he has quickly made friends at school and is helping to lead study sessions during youth group. Luckily for us he has also fallen in love with surfing, and is getting to be pretty good at it. I think that he has realized surfing is a social event, where you work hard to get past the breakers to the big waves, lay on your board, chat with your friends and wait for the big Kahuna so you can get pummeled and live to tell about it. But mostly you just talk with your buddies in the middle of the ocean, at least he does.
Olivia seems to be enjoying her first year of school. She has attended several after school events and still has a bit of Tom boy in her. I must admit, when she dressed up for the winter formal, she looked stunning. she truly has become a beautiful woman. She, however is not a huge fan of the beach. So living in a province known for its beaches, not really a selling feature for her. I’m glad she enjoys the pool at least.
Ben is still home schooled, still complains about how much school he has to do, and is still pretty much white. Other than Jake I don’t think anyone else spends as much time in the sun as Ben. However, I think he is the sun’s kryptonite. He is known locally at the Super Massai Boy. You see there is a small market right next to our house called Super Massai. Ben is there on average 3 times a day for eggs, milk, bread, and whatever cool drink he wants to reward himself with. Every time I go in the ladies there scold me that he needs to learn more Spanish. Secretly though, I think they like him. He is also playing his guitar with the church worship team, did a duet with mom and has really taken to surfing. Obviously he takes after his dad.
Kassie and Jake are two peas in a pod. You don’t often see one without the other. Tracy continues to home school them and they are doing well. Recess consists of pool time or Lego time, or sometimes both. They have both become proficient boogie boarders, and daily beg to go to the beach; which, as soon as we get home from, they jump right in the pool. They have acclimated well and are fantastic swimmers, divers, and sand castle builders. They are great kids to be around and everyone mistakes them for Ticos (locals). In fact that has become a common problem around here. When we are somewhere where there are no english speakers, they immediately start talking to the kids as if they are Ticos. Unfortunately, other than Dorian, none of them speak any more Spanish than we do. However, I don’t think they believe us and we are often the recipients of suspicious glances from the locals.
Tracy and I are starting to mold our expectations and life to this new style of living. We are very thankful for our new friends and still badly miss our old friends and family. Our Spanish is getting prettio goodo. Allo youo havo too doo iso addo ano O to mosto wordos ando ito iso perfecto. Not really, but sometimes. We have become friends with one of the gate guards of our neighborhood, Felix. He is a young man, very kind, very inquisitive and has helped us a lot with our spanish. We continue to strive to fulfill our purpose here in the middle of the Americas, and will continue to do so as long as we can. We sweat a lot, we swim a lot, and we crave the tropical breezes. The good news, depending on your point of view, is that now I have a whole bunch of new material for the blog.
Furthermore we have experienced a couple of CHRISTMAS MIRACLES here in Central America. The first is that I have not melted, in fact the fact that I have no hair has assisted me in my ability to cope with the constant heat that I grew up cursing, and now crave and enjoy. In fact, Florida seems a wee bit chilly to me at times. The second, Tracy has taking a liking, nay has developed a passion for sushi, a food she used to despise. This benefits me greatly because I have always liked sushi and she has always hated it. Now, for some reason she can’t get enough, which is great for my tummy and terrible for my waistline.
We pray that each and every one of you have an excellent Christmas and a New Year filled with joy, true joy. And if you ever want to thaw out, which our research shows it takes about 6 months, then give us a call or shoot us an email. If we can fit you in our house we will, if we can’t, we will find you housing. Most of all, we promise you all you need to pack are some shorts, swim wear, camera and a some towels, everything else it optional. Although we are being ripened here in Costa Rica, we will never forget that we were planted and grown in Alaska.
Following is a slide show of 100 photos from last year. I am sure we had better ones, but I got tired and lazy. I hope all the doubles are out.