Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Getting crafty at home

Brandon, as many of you know, loves disc golf. It is one of the major things that he misses. He has gone to a park to throw and has also set up bamboo stakes in the yard for targets. Now he is working on creating a practice basket out of bamboo. He has put many hours (he thinks 20) into it and is now on his 3rd prototype…he is still not completely sure what the finished product will be. Here are a few photos of prototype #1.

We also decided that we would try home haircuts for Brandon. I gave one friend a really bad haircut in college so I was a little apprehensive. Prior to taking the clippers to his head I watched a few youtube videos…seemed fairly simple.  Both Brandon and I are pleased with the first cut and know that with practice I will improve.

I did fix the left side...can you see poorly faded patch?

The dog food situation here is not ideal. Our dogs have always eaten high quality (expensive) dog food. We have not found a dry dog food that is of high quality here and so we have been feeding them a pretty cheap dry food and supplementing it with our produce scraps.

Jackson seemed to be doing alright with this but Kirby smelled….really bad. Both of the dogs are old and have bad breath but the smell that Kirby was putting off was something else! We decided to try making some dog food to see if that would help the smell. They have been eating our DIY dog food for 1 week and we both feel that Kirby smells much better. Mondays are now dog food preparation days around here.

Veggies (carrots, sweet potato, zucchini) 

Rice and beef

Finished product

Pretty exciting stuff happening down here! All are welcome to come hang out with us!


Katie and Brandon

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Lake Atitlan

This past weekend was sunny and beautiful! I haven’t been swimming in the lake since September 15th (I remember the date because it was our anniversary). Brandon takes Kirby down to swim off of the dock directly in front of our house pretty much every day. There is a small sandy beach there but it is a gathering place for the plastic and trash that washes down from the village. Some days the area is clean and other days not so much.

If you walk 2 minutes farther past our house there is a rocky patch that opens up to a lovely swimming spot. This is where you would have found us this past weekend!

The lake’s health is at risk due to population growth and lack of water treatment around the lake. We tried to find a current article describing the lake’s current health but were not able to find one…hmm.  The community and villages surrounding the lake depend on it for food and drinking water. If the lake dies so does the communities way of life.

This link takes you to some interesting info regarding the lake (click on the word lake folks).

In our home we have a water filtration system that we use for cooking, drinking, brushing our teeth ect. We also have a vegetable wash that we use to thoroughly clean any produce that we buy. There is a Watershed Authority that partners with a local University that puts out water safety notices that alert when we can and should not swim in the lake. It is currently safe!


Katie and Brandon

Friday, October 23, 2015

Hammock part two

I did get dressed today folks...jeans even! Happy Friday. I hope you are relaxing where ever you are.



Thursday, October 22, 2015

Nesting, hammocks, and junk food.

Brandon and I had a brief chat with a local by the name of Pasqual last week while waiting for the boat to Panajachel. He asked us about us, we asked about him, and then the conversation turned to the weather…not snow but rain. He was pretty certain that the rain was finished (it hadn’t rained in about a week). Guess what happened two days later? The rain began again. And it rained ALL day. This was our first ALL day rain and when your only mode of transportation is walking or boat this means that you stay indoors.

I had just gone through a “rearrange the little furniture we have" moment and so we spent the entire day on the double bed that I moved into the living room watching How I Met Your Mother.  I had put the bed in the living room because the furniture we do have in the living room is adequate but not super comfy.

Bare belly picture for my mother...she is not a fan of bare belly pics. 

The following day we decided to brave the rain that had turned to a drizzle because we were going stir crazy. We decided to go to Pana for breakfast and to get lots of junk food. We picked up 5 sleeves of the most amazing cookie (Chiky), 4 bags of chips that are the closest tasting we have found to Doritos, a large bag of candy that sort of tastes like laffy taffy, and 2 snicker bars. The total was around $9.00. We both had a great time. It was nice to go to Pana without a major grocery mission.

We of course made it home for Brandon to watch the Packers win.

Back to the rearranging of furniture: I believe that I am in the nesting phase of pregnancy along with trying to make items that aren’t ours feel like home. I decided that I would like a hammock chair hung in our living room. I find hammocks to be very comfortable and I thought it would be a great substitute for a rocking chair.

Cruz, the Guardian, made sure that the owners approved and then he went to Pana for us in search of hardware to hang the chair. We all had thought that a heavy -duty hook would do the job but he ended up discovering that we needed to have something stronger (you know…to hold the pregnant lady). He had a welder rig something up for us. 

We went to Pana to purchase the hammock. I do not like bargaining with folks but that is how it works here. I do feel that I did get a fair price but it took much back and forth and lots of sweat on my part.

Brandon with the hammock in hand...look how skinny he is folks. I'm not sure what that is on his legs...not there in reality. 

The hammock was hung today. We have a hook inside and outside!

Cruz hard at work. It got REAL dusty!

I will post a photo of myself in the hammock tomorrow when I have put some clothes on. I am still currently in my robe…whoops!

The nesting ended with us moving the double bed back into the guest room, using the other guest room as a closet for both Brandon and I (this allowed us to remove the wardrobes from our bedroom making more room), moving the couch back to the living room, and testing out the suitcase co-sleeper creation.

It's gonna work.

Back to how it was...

With the hammock.

We are continuing to make it work with what we have and we are loving this life! Spending our days together is fantastic (with some not so fantastic mixed in). 

Things we are looking forward to:
1.     Trip to Costa Rica on 11/3/15. We need to renew our visa before little person arrives.
2.     The arrival of Katie’s mom on 12/18/15.
3.     The arrival of our son…date yet to be determined.
4.     The arrival of Brandon’s parents on 1/22/16.
5.     The arrival of Mari and Randy on 1/24/16.
6.     Charlie and Colleen are planning to visit…
7.     Continuing to learn about this place.


Katie and Brandon

Friday, October 16, 2015

It's the little things.

I am really beginning to be aware of how much easy access we had in the United States. Anytime I felt like I wanted or needed something we just jumped in the car and went to get it. Simple. Here…not so simple.

I believe I have mentioned before that there is no such thing as running to grab something quick. If we forget butter or toilet paper it is a minimum 1½ hour outing. Also, to find what you are looking for is another challenge.

The lighting in our rental is adequate but not ideal. I really like soft light in a room. It makes me feel cozy. The rental’s light is harsh and bright. Brandon always made fun of me for the amount of lamps we had and that I had a lamp on in almost every room of the house in Minneapolis.

When we first met LindaBlue (our midwife) I asked her if she knew of any place we could buy a table lamp. She shared that lamps are very hard to find around the lake. That we could for sure find one in Guatemala City but good luck finding one here. We looked and looked and she was correct.

At our first prenatal visit at Linda’s house we shared with her how we loved the amount of light her house had. We again talked about the lighting situation in our rental. She shared with us that many people use white Christmas lights as lighting here and that we should have someone bring us a few strings from the states…. yesterday she gifted us a string!  I cannot tell you how happy this simple string of lights made me and also the impact it made on the coziness of the room.

It is a bit dorm roomy but we love it! I am hoping to scrounge up two more strings. 

Another exciting thing that happened this week is that the Guardians from the properties around our house put an addition onto the dock in front of our house! The lake is low and this has made our dock very high. Getting on and off the taxi boats is a major challenge due to the height and many taxis don’t seem to want to stop…at least not for us…they stop for the locals every time! The addition is lower and also has a step that Brandon and I used as a bench last night to watch the lake as the sun went down.

 We are very excited because my mom and Brandon's parents have booked flights to come visit us! Come on down folks. We will show you a good time...screaming baby and all!! 


Katie and Brandon

Sunday, October 11, 2015


Brandon really loves to observe the weather. He took this photo tonight from the dock in front of our house. Sleep tight all and have a fantastic Monday!


Katie and Brandon

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Quick update

I received my last anti-rabies vaccine today folks!! In total I received 1 tetanus shot and 4 rabies shots. Word of advice for anyone visiting Late Atitlan: if bit by a dog go to the local community health clinic in the village that you were bitten for treatment!

Katie and Brandon

Friday, October 9, 2015

Another week has come and gone.

I did my hair for the first time since being here. Brandon asked if I had somewhere fancy to go...I just wanted to see the progress of growing out this pixie cut. I can get a small ponytail with the assistance of some bobby pins. I know this is very exciting for you all.

Sorry I'm not smiling...I'm no good at selfies

Before the move I created the year long budget. We had a loose budget at home, but having 2 incomes and no children we really didn't have to live too strictly. Living here with no current income and a child on the way (we are making some money on our home but that is going into savings) we are tracking every cent we spend.

The month of September was a challenge for me as I was cautious about spending money on anything that was not considered a necessity.  Brandon and I reviewed the spending after the first month and decided that we really do want to make the most out of this year and if that means spending more than we budgeted for we are ok with that. We don't want to sit home and miss out on experiences.  So this month Brandon has taken over tracking the spending and he brought home 2 snicker bars not a necessity but oh so good!

Hard at work on the tracking of spending

I believe I mentioned previously that when were were here in January I met a woman who was born and raised in Santa Cruz. She now teaches in their government run school. She had asked me then if I was interested in helping her teach. We exchanged information and agreed to connect when we arrived in September. We have connected and are beginning to work together in the afternoons with some students who want to learn English and are not able to attend school due to the cost.

There have been some bumps as I missed 3 days due to trying to find medical care for my dog bite, they didn't meet for class for 1 week due to the festival celebrations, and this week they are out for some other reason. The plan at this point is for me to return on Monday. I'm sure you all know that I am not a teacher and have never taught anything. The first time I arrived for class Marta told me that she would like me to lead the class in an English lesson. I panicked a bit but we made it through. I came home that night and emailed our good friend Jill who teaches English to adults in Minneapolis. She was amazing and sent me many resources that helped me to create plans for moving forward. I am so grateful to her.  Another bonus is that I get my exercise walking up to Marta's home...the village is a steep climb up the mountain.

Marta's house where I attempt to teach English is up there


Katie and Brandon

Friday, October 2, 2015

Getting out and about.

Lake Atitlan is comprised of many beautiful and unique villages. Santa Cruz, the village that we live in, is not connected to any other villages by road. There is a lake front path that takes you to the next town over, Jaibalito. The path does require some fitness, coordination and at times is not for the faint of heart as you are hiking up some steep terrain.

Our destination on this day was a little boutique hotel/restaurant on the water called Club Ven Aca. It took us about 50 minutes to arrive. We ate lunch, I had a delicious hibiscus tea, and then we relaxed in the pool before hiking back home to Santa Cruz.

San Marcos is a village that requires us to take a 20 minute boat ride to visit. This village is connected to villages to the West of it by roads (Santa Cruz is to the Northeast). Even though it is connected by a road, you get around San Marcos by walking down thin foot paths that run through the trees until you arrive at the center square of town. San Marcos has a well connected ex-pat community with a Waldorf School, many boutique hotels and restaurants, yoga opportunities, massage, spiritual healing, and meditation.  It also has a beautiful spot to enjoy the lake. 

We are loving the beauty and amazing opportunities/experiences we are having!


Katie and Brandon