Wednesday, December 5, 2012


It has been seven months since our travels ended.  We are definitely back in the swing of things here at home.  We talk about our trip often nowadays and our memories have sweetened all the hard moments and bumps we experienced along the way.  Harper and Cal still remember a lot and my favorite dinners around our table these days involve a random memory that sparks a list of good times.  Just tonight we looked at the date and realized we landed in Santiago one year ago today and that evoked all kinds of stories...the park at Plaza Peru, our favorite places to eat, the polluted and exhaust-filed tunnel we took into the city that first day, the amazing MIM hands-on science museum, empanadas all the time and of course helado (much better than Penguino!) to wash it down.

Life back in Carbondale is fast-paced and hectic albeit fun.  Although we lost our old dog Sadie just a few months after coming home, we recently adopted a new puppy whom has stolen all our hearts.  We named her Santiago after one of our favorite stops along the trip, and affectionately call her Santi.  She is a good pup so far and her crazy mix of breeds keeps everyone guessing at the dog park.

Harper and Cal have had a great start back in the scheduled and organized life of school.  Kindergarten agrees with Harper quite well and her Spanish occasionally comes in handy even if she won't admit so much.  Her favorite activities at school are digging in the sandbox and drawing.  We have been happy to see that learning to read has come together for her on its own this year as well and now she is trying to read anything she can get her eyes on.  We also really like her teacher Mrs. Salazar and my improved Spanish has helped our relationship grow.  Cal loves Waldkinder preschool and how could he not, especially when so many times in our travels Harper, Danny or myself would exclaim, "Karen would love this!"  All the exploring and random adventures of Waldkinder are a little like a miniature version of our last year- following your curiosities, playing as much as you can and talking together about everything you experience each day.

Danny has jumped back into his position teaching fourth grade, although he gets to see the schooling experience from a different perspective this year with Harper at CRES.  They commute together each morning which is really a special and happy way for both of them to start their days.  Danny and I realized just recently that up until he reaches his technical "retirement" year he will have a child riding bikes with him to school each day.  What a blessing!

I have fallen back into the stay-at-home mom role pretty easily.  Although I loved moving from place to place, eating meals in any and all kinds of situations, or dropping our laundry at the lavadora, I missed our home.  I missed making bread in my kitchen, trading recipes with my friends, picking food from our garden, and cooking with my kids.  I did not miss and still do not enjoy the laundry however, and the lavadora in Canoa looks good to me just about any day of the week.  I have also starting volunteering in Harper's classroom a couple days a week and I've enjoyed being back in a classroom.

The addition of a new brother or sister to our family in early March is the next big adventure the Traveling Stoneleys will embark upon.  Danny and I talked so much about this possibility as we traveled that I feel like this little one was somehow already along for the ride.  He or she will probably tire of our stories and the occasional sit down and rehash of South America traveling through photos and memories, so we are pretty confident another year away is on our horizon sometime. It will have to take a different shape with school-aged kids, but living in a new place for an extended time again has appeal for sure.

We are blessed by so much in our life.  We can see the impact our last year had upon us all and we are grateful to have had so much time together as a family.  Until next time...

Monday, April 30, 2012

As Uncle Eric would say,

“You did it.  You did it.  You finished your travels. You did it.” 

"I am a little bummed and a little glad.  I feel good about leaving and I feel bummed about not being here longer.  I am sad because we are at this place that has a beautiful ocean.  There are also 2 kids here to play with, Kalana and Dakota.  I will miss the pool and the ocean and the kids.  The ocean has big waves and I will miss surfing because I just learned this week and I am getting pretty good.  The pool was fun too because I love to swim under the water on the bottom and I learned to dive off the side in the pool here.  I won’t be swimming in Colorado for a while.
I am glad we are done traveling because I can’t wait to see every single friend and cousin and grandma and grandpa and aunt and uncle.  Chicago will be so fun with Caroline and Tallulah.  In Carbondale I want to see Sadie and when I see her I am going to pet her and kiss her and give her love.  I want to sleep in my room again when I get home.
For now I won’t miss traveling.  I’m excited to be done with being so close to my brother.  I kind of liked, but not so much, having to share a room and sometimes a bed! with Cal in some places we visited."

"I feel really good going home.  I remember in Quito and Santiago and Berito (we never visited any place named Berito!) we ate good ice cream in South America.  I want to see Emily and Renee again and Caroline and Tallulah.  I am going to miss all the beds I was sleeping in in South America but I think that the bathrooms at home will be the same as the traveling ones (Ha, not all of them!).  I want to play with Caroline’s pink bus and my garbage truck when I am home.  And I like all the standers in South America.  Now mom, that’s all I want to say!"

At times this trip felt like we would be traveling forever and now I can’t believe we're done.  We’ve had such a great time all together as a family this year.  I feel like we have grown in ways we might not have at home.  My children have amazed me over and over: speaking Spanish, swimming like fish, making new friends, feeling so comfortable in their interactions with new people, trying new foods, taking care of one another, and learning to roll with all the twists and turns our adventure has presented us.  I am so proud of Harper and Cal and I feel so blessed to have shared this with them.  And as for Danny, there are not words enough to describe how happy and lucky I feel to have had him by my side through out it all.  I can only say that I have the best husband ever!

(Oops we missed him on this time at the computer!) 

Headed back to the States

We fly out of San Jose tomorrow morning bright and early for our three-flight journey to Chicago.  Harper and Cal are VERY excited to be nearing our traveling end.  They can’t wait to play with all of Caroline and Tallulah’s toys and Harper is looking forward to a change of outfits (although Kalana just gave her some hand-me-downs that Harper hasn’t taken off since.)   Even still Harper has her fingers crossed that she and Caroline are still the same size!

The final repacking of the backpacks!!! Yahoo!

Pool Party and Ciao to Jaco

We left Jaco on Sunday after celebrating Dakota’s third birthday.  We enjoyed our first kids’ pool-party and Harper and Cal were totally wiped out afterwards.  Harmony and Randall decorated the poolside in pirate theme and Dakota was one happy kid.  It was nice to share with them in all the fun (and especially nice to taste the really cool pirate ship cake!)
Harper and Harmony
Cal, Dakota, and Hunter splashing around.

Fun times with Dakota and Kalana.  We'll miss them!

Surfing in Jaco

Harper rides a wave up to the beach.

Danny and Harper took surf lessons this week.  They had great teachers named Mike and Andrea.  They made surfing really fun for Harper and made sure to build in breaks and snacks for Harper.  She did well for her first time.  With a little help on the timing she was catching little waves and riding them into the shore.  She played around on Kalana’s board later in the week and was able to ride the little ones in.  
Harper and Mike
Break time
During their lesson, Danny and Mike started in the little surf and then went out into the bigger waves by the end.  Danny was catching some waves and also getting rolled around by some, but he was happily exhausted out at the end.  On one crash he got knocked by the board just above his eye and got a nice little shiner.
Danny rides one in.
The ocean was so warm and the surf in Jaco was perfect for us.  We took a trip to a nearby beach on Friday to watch a kids surf competition and the tide and currents there were so much stronger than in Jaco.  I was grateful we were staying on the tranquil side.  Harper swam a little at playa Estillo and I was nervous the whole time about her being washed out in a riptide.
Harper gives Cal a lesson riding the surfboards they drew in the sand.

Sunday, April 29, 2012


After our night of bugbites Harper’s dolls spend a few nights in the freezer, just in case!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Harper is getting OLD!

Her two bottom teeth are getting ready to come out!
"One day I had a wiggly tooth.  My name is Harper."