Saturday, May 2, 2015

Ruta La Paz 2015!

Each year, our kid's school, La Paz Community School, is host to a great family fun run called Ruta La Paz.  There is both a 5K and a 10K and families of all ages walk, run, push strollers, dance in the streets, and have a great morning meeting and achieving milestones and goals.

This year, on May 2nd 2015, our two youngest both set and achieved personal goals....Marissa, our 12 year old ran the 10K for the first time this longer distance.  She ran with our family friend and her running mentor, Alex.


William, our 9 year old, ran for the first time without his big brother (who is back in the states going to school) and ran with his buddy, Jack, and beat me for the first time.  Darn!  I guess not only will I probably end up being the shortest in the family, now I am the slowest! 

The day started out super early as we left the house in time to arrive early plus our 30 minute drive from Tamarindo to Flamingo where the race was being held.  We got to the plaza at about 6:00am ready for the 6:30am start.  This is actually the fun time....everyone is excited and hugging each other and wishing each other luck.  We put on our numbers and the trackers on our shoes and soon the music started to get everyone even more excited......

And then we were off!

Yes....that's our girl there in the pink tutu!  Go Marissa Go!


Running over the Flamingo Bridge to the Flamingo Beach Road....and the Ruta La Paz (unofficial) mascot....Mr. Brian (5th grade teacher) who ran the race in a tutu with a boom box on his shoulder giving high fives to everyone the whole race!

And not to be left out, Kurt and Zack were volunteers on the photography team for Tamarindo Family Photos and also took videos for Zack's CAS project and for next year's promo video.

Zack running with a go pro over the finish line for the video.....


All in all it was a fabulous day and great fun for everyone.  But, the highlight came at the awards ceremony when we found out that Marissa one FIRST PLACE in the girls 18 and under category for the 10K race with a time of 1 hour 3 minutes.  So proud.  Go Marissa Go!



Team Rauzi signing off until next year!

Photo credits to Genna at Tamarindo Family Photos!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Inspiration for a Life Worth Living....

Forgive me followers for I have sinned....I have not blogged in a looooonnnnggg time!  It is not that I have not thought of head and my notebooks are full of stories and lists and ideas of things to write about and share.  But, such is life in Pura Vida land, and such is our new life now that we are fully cemented into the community of our kids' new school and our surrounding Guanacaste neighborhoods. 

In our first year, I seemed to have so much more time on my hands to chronicle our adventures, both good and bad, with our second year bringing on new commitments (yes, I am happily volunteering again) and a myriad of new and wonderful activities for the kids (surfing, spearfishing, theater, etc.)....along with several new foreign boarding students who have been living with us at various times (more about them later). Less stress and more time to breath can also give us more time to just be, and less time to do....which, is also all good.

But, inspiration has hit me.....I was stopped on my way out of the elementary school last week by a new mom from Canada who has a son in our daughter's 5th grade class and who had just arrived 2 weeks prior.  In her beautiful French accent she asked me if I was the Tanya from the blog....and I (surprised, but all smiles) said, "yes, I am".....(how did she know this!?).  

She then proceeded to tell me 
that a friend of hers in New York 
saw MY blog and sent it to her 
and because of this, 
she is now at La Paz 
and her friend and their family 
will begin at La Paz in the fall!

WOW!  If ever anything was to give me is a story like this.  I could not believe it...not one, but TWO families moved their families to Costa Rica, brought their kids to La Paz Community School, and began a new life, all because they read my blog.  I have been beaming from ear to ear ever since hearing this news and if anything was to inspire me to get caught up with my blog and to keep it up and keep at it every day (not just some days or some months) it is a story of success like this.

So to these two families I say WELCOME and thank you from the bottom of my heart.  Your trust in our advice and stories means everything to me and I look forward to inspiring others and being inspired by those like you who follow suit. 

Being an expat family can seem scary or out of reach to most of us...but, if we can do this, and if our stories are inspirational enough to bring other families to our little slice of paradise, than you can do it, too!

So, let this little story of how two families followed one family be an inspiration to you today if you are even remotely thinking or considering a move or change like the one we made either soon or in the future....because, as one of my favorite quotes says....

"Life is not measured 
By the number of breaths you take, 
But by the moments 
That take your breath away"

....and if your current life is sucking the life out of you, as our previous life sometimes did, then take a deep breath and begin by simply envisioning yourself in a new place, a new life..... 

Next step is look around on our blog and let me know what else is needed for your research, what else you need to take that leap of faith..... 

My next newest addition to the blog will be an FAQ page....because I get a lot of questions and I now see a need for compiling these questions for additional answers and advise for those who seek it....and I hope it inspires you in setting your sights on new goals, to make a new life worth living, and one worth every breath.

Happy inspiration and happy goal setting!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Why Costa Rica?

"Why did you move to Costa Rica?", or "How did you decide on Costa Rica?" are the two most common questions we get asked and for the most part, a common question I also like to ask others.  It is so fun to hear the responses and so fun to hear what has brought so many people from so many countries to this beautiful land.  Everyone has a story, but what makes it so interesting is that we have not only chosen to live in a different culture/country then where we were born or raised, but most of us are doing this while raising our children and for many of us, that is the whole reason we are doing it raise our kids here or to give them an international experience, or for others, to get off the beaten track or to exit the rat race (or a little of all of these!).

"What is different about Costa Rica?" you might ask....well, we get to see, hear and hold many animals that otherwise we would just see in a zoo, on Animal Plant, or in a picture book.  We get to go to the beach every day if we want....the water is warm and the sun shines every day.  Our kids get to focus on being kids....meaning, they get to get dirty, hold wild animals, run thru the grass, ride bikes in the rain, be free of the worry of the labels and styles of clothing, live a life with less material objects, have less homework, less obligations, and very little of a set schedule.  In other words, to live in a place where family comes first.

So, back to the initial question..."Why Costa Rica?"  So, our story goes like this.....When I turned 40 I had dreamed of going to Egypt, but because of the events of 9/11, it was not a good time to travel internationally.  So, my wonderful husband rented me a big 'ole house in Wailea, Maui and I invited a whole slue of girlfriends to become a "Hula Girl" with me.  We not only had a blast that week (many of us, including myself, were leaving our toddlers at home for the very first time), but we all discovered the value of girlfriends, the value of being able to recoup, and that our kids and husbands back home were just fine without us (in the best possible way, of course!).  Many husbands were taking care of the kids 24/7, including mine, for the first time, and we all loved that there were getting to see what we as moms experience everyday with the kids....the good, the bad, and the ugly.

So, we all vowed to keep taking girlfriend trips.....but, when I got home, I discovered I was pregnant with our 3rd, Marissa and soon after that, I was pregnant with our 4th, William.  So, as you can imagine, the girlfriend trips kinda took a hiatus.

But, on my 45th, when I was still nursing William and unable to go away overnight, I planned a whole day of girlfriend fun....starting with yoga on the beach, a kayak trip out to Angel Island, a hike and  picnic, and a sunset sail around the bay to end the day and "Fearless Friends" we became.  I felt rejuvenated and decided to announce my idea for the next year....Costa Rica! 
Front row sitting L-R:  Kayleen (college, came out from Colorado), Casey (college, came out from Colorado)
Middle row kneeling L-R:  Me, Valerie, Lisa, Elizabeth, Kathleen
Back row Standing L-R:  Dear Debbie (RIP), Julie, Deanna (high school, came from Arroyo Grande), Liz, Wendy, Elizabeth, Denise, Leslie, and Marian.....and this was just the sailing crew from the whole day of fun!
And so it 2008, 7 wonderful girlfriends from just about every phase of my life came with me to become "Adventure Girls" in Costa Rica.  Deanna my BFF from high school and her sister Dawna, Valerie my BFF mom friend from San Fran, Kayleen my great friend from college and sorority sister and her friend the wonderful Marcie, and France a friend of Val's who I had been going to Family Camp with for many years.  7 wonderful friends to celebrate my 46th birthday on the 7th of May in sunny (and rainy) Costa Rica.  Amazing.
Kayleen, France, Valeria, me, Dawna, Marcie and Deanna

 Then, after returning home, I knew I had to bring the kids and Kurt to this magical land full of all the animals our kids love so much (our kids are Animal Planet junkies!).  So, I began to contact a bunch of owners from VRBO and asking for a 2-4 week stay and out of the blue, one of the owners asked us if we wanted to stay longer and housesit their house and take care of his dog.  We took the leap of faith and said YES to a 6 week stay in Play Ocotal, near Playas de Coco on the Pacific side of Costa Rica (I had not traveled to this side with the girls) and in the providence of Guanacaste, or dry zone (which is key when you are traveling to the rain forest).  I booked our tickets using frequent flyer miles (an almost free vacation!) and we left right when school got out in June and returned 8 weeks later in  mid-August giving us 6 weeks in the house and 2 weeks on the road to see the other side of Costa Rica.

Now, this is where it happened.....the starting point of what is now our Costa Rican life.  During the summer of 2009 when we were housesitting the house in Playa Ocotol, we began to run into families at the beach or in restaurants that lived in Costa Rica and our kids began to ask, "Where do they go to school, how do they do that, can WE do that?" and so began our family discussion of moving to Costa Rica.

Waterslides at Rincon de la Vieja National Park Summer 2009

Having multiple age groups in our family, we consulted with the big boys first....they loved the idea, but wanted to have their first year of high school and then they would go, so we began to think that in a few years, after they each had completed their Freshman years, we would go to Costa Rica for one year.  In hindsight, we should have done it sooner.  Middle school, while tons of fun, was not so successful for our was lots of homework, lots of activities, and lots of scheduling conflicts.  We found ourselves going in many different directions and doing the whole "divide and conquer" thing most weekends.

But, as Dominic was getting thru his Freshman year and Zack set to enter his Freshman year the following year, we suddenly realized that if we did not do this now, it would be impossible to it make happen.  So, Kurt and I began a stealth campaign....not mentioning a word to the kids or to our friends.  I began with much would it cost us, where would they go to school, where would we live, etc.?  I started with what we knew and what we loved, the area of Ocotal/Coco and began to fan out over the dry zone and stumbled upon this new community school (meaning it is a private school, but it has kids from both the local and the expat communities).  It was not your typical American school (which is the whole reason for going to Costa Rica in the first place) and it was bilingual (another reason).  It was small (perfect), it was new (yes, we seem to be drawn to new schools and schools that build new schools!), it had after school activities and it had sports teams (that I would not have to drive!), and it was in a coastal town right by the beach (perfect!),

We applied immediately.

And we got turned down immediately.

They had room in the grades of our 3 boys, but 4th grade was all full and thus, Marissa was not in.  So, this set us in a tail spin...what do we do?  Do we go anyway?  Do we send the boys, and homeschool Marissa?  Do we homeschool them all?  Not!  We kept the stealth campaign going cleaning out closets, secretly packing things up and taking them to our secret storage unit, holding a garage sale, etc.  And then, while we are away at family camp in July, we get the email that the whole family was in.  Kurt and I had a long, heartfelt conversation via cell phone and we gave ourselves 24 hours to ponder.  When I called him the next day, we both had come to the same conclusion....we had to go, now or never, this was meant to be, this is going to be great!

And so, here we are, not only enjoying our year abroad, but liking it so much that we are staying another year.   "Will we stay longer?", you may now ask.  Truth is, we do not know.  Only time will tell and the beautiful thing about this new life is that we have a lot more time.

First Day of school at La Paz, 2012
William (1st), Zack (9th), Marissa (4th), and Dominic (10th)
First Day of school at La Paz, 2nd year in Costa Rica, 2013
Dominic (11th), William (2nd), Zackary (10th) and Marissa (5th)

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Pura Vida Gammon Family!

The Rauzi - Gammon Families on the day of their departure....
Tamarindo beach day...
one day last March 2013

Isaiah, Zack and Tucker

As the thunder rumbles outside and I sit here waiting for the rain to begin, I cannot help but feel that Costa Rica is also crying for the loss of our dear friends, The Gammon Family, who left Costa Rica Sept. 5th to begin their next family traveling adventure in Florida.  
Marissa and Seraphina at the Witch's Rock Bon Fire

We met the Gammon Family at the La Paz school New Parent Orientation last August and felt a connection with them immediately as they too had left a school and community they loved to pursue an international experience for their children.  In fact, their description of the home they left behind had made me cry.  I felt the same.  Sad to see our wonderful life back home "gone," but also thrilled beyond belief  that we were actually here and had actually made this happen for our kids.  I also cried because I could not believe that I was surrounded by so many families who were doing the exact same thing as us....something that others would consider way outside the box, but for us, it was way inside the box...inside the box of adventure!  I will continually wish for more and more adventures for our kids all throughout their lives, no matter where that takes them (and hopefully we can go visit them!).

William checking in with the big boys.....

One of our favorite "after-the-beach" hangouts.....especially on Friday nights when they have bon fires and Radio Dos reports live with Evan Luck and Joe Welsh (owner of Witch's Rock Surf Camp and Restaurant).  There is no doubt that their cold beers taste good after a long day surfing, but so does their sushi...our favorite is Joe's Barrel roll....kinda like a deep fried California roll with salmon and cream cheese.  Yum!
Sushi Boat...that lasted all of 3 minutes before
they asked if they could get another one...NOT!


A typical day at the beach for the girls...
Seraphina and Marissa
 (who both wish they had each other as a sister)
Over the course of the first half of the year we would run into this family at this beach and we would hang out as our kids were all drawn to each other.  They have 3 kids with similar ages to our kids....Seraphina is 8, Tucker is 12, and Isaiah is 14 and in Zack's class.  Many times we continued the beach fun into the early evening at a restaurant.  Good vibes and good times.

Seraphina and Marissa (the posers!)

William the photo bomber!
Then, last March, after a second break-in at their house, but this time in plain view of the kids, they moved into our guest house.  Nate was in the US at the time, so it was great for Mary and the kids to have an alternative to go to as the kids did not want to return "to the scene of the crime."  Nate returned a few weeks later and they spent a couple weeks looking for a new house.  This time they landed just down the street from us (lucky us!) and so began our fun time as neighbors.
The photo bomber strikes again....



A new froggy friend at JT's in Tamarindo
(Isaiah, William., Seraphina and Marissa)

The big boys even played on the same soccer team together....all of them having a blast.  Mary and I spent many a hot afternoon watching them play while Nate assisted with practices.  So great to see them in action!
Dominic, Tucker, Zack and Isaiah

Soccer in the intense heat/humidity of Costa Rica was a new experience for all of us.  Practices started during the dry season, so games were held on rock hard, dead grass fields most of the time.  Water was in high demand and they played their hearts out!
Soccer practice in the rain!
La Paz vs. Cartagena

Coco Loco dinner...end of trimester!

Tucker, Dominic and William
Dinners out or dinners was all fun.  Our favorite dinner spots were always on the beach, with a sunset thrown in.  Many times the kids played beach games after dark while we sat and talked.  Hide-and-go-seek, soccer, bowling, sand castle building, Frisbee, etc.  No game was off limits, no matter the age.

In front of Coco Locos, Playa Flamingo....beach sand dune surfing!

Me, Nate and Mary at the Internet Café
(it's really just our back patio...but, it's where we could all get on-line!
Nate the grill Master and Marissa the Ham!
Dance Party!
The kids also flowed seamlessly between the two houses and the one across the street, with lots of bike rides, swim sessions and soccer games in the yard.  We held many an impromptu dinner party and there were plenty of  sleepovers and helping with carpooling the kids...with 7 kids between us (and 4 more across the street with another family!), it was nice to "divide and conquer all the tasks of raising this multi-aged group. 
The kids....William, Tucker, Zack, Isaiah,
Dominic, Seraphina, and Marissa
Whether it was bike rides to get smoothies, the boys rip-sticking or skateboarding thru our house, a game of tag in the yard or on the beach, games in the pool, dinner parties, dance parties (the girl's favorite), the many shows and fashion parades put on by the girls, sweating at boot camp, hiking, stretching at yoga, bottles of wine or tropical drinks, sunsets in Brasilito, Mary's amazing meals,  fishing, boogie boarding, skim boarding, surfing, sea shell collecting, sand castle making, Nate's masterful grilling, or playing 7 Little Words, it was always fun and always easy.
Everyone digging tacos!
Mary's a-m-a-z-I-n-g taco shells rubbed with Coconut oil!
Mary and I had an easy friendship....traveling to boot camp, yoga and hikes together.  We loved getting pedicures from Harlan and shared the same wonderful cleaning gal, Argentina.  We walked the beach many a day together and had our share of lunches out while the kids were at school.  We both felt great about our fun workouts and Mary even devised our own boot camp workout down by the bridge by our house over the summer!  Girls just gotta have fun AND work out (when ya live by the beach!). 
Mary and I hiking at Las Catalinas


Nate, our other neighbor Tony, and Kurt on the beach for sunset
One of our favorite things to do was to run down the street to our local beach for sunset.  It was an easy way to get the kids out of the house for an hour right before dinner, enjoy ourselves and enjoy our beautiful surroundings.  There is just something magical about the sunsets here...even the air is colorful.  But, floating in the warm water with all the kids, at sunset, with a beer in your hand is even more magical!

The girls....inseparable friends!

Sunset chatting....

The girls at one of our sunset runs....

But, as the year ran down, we all felt that it was time to decide....we decided to spend a second year in Costa Rica and the Gammons decided to move to Florida to be near grandmothers and extended family and for Nate to expand on some new ideas for his lumber brokerage business.  Both of our families embarking on another year of travel and family adventure and both of us hoping that this next year (and years to come) will bring us back to the same location....we hope to travel to Florida for Halloween in October and they hope to return in Jan or Feb to visit and have a check-up with the orthodontist.  They have also embarked on a new adventure of home schooling, so we hope the flexibility of this will allow them to travel more and put Costa Rica on their list of destinations!
The boys...Dominic, Isaiah, William, Tucker and Zack

Marissa and Seraphina....the Peace Twins!
Moving and traveling with your family has it pitfalls and one of them is the short or condensed amount of time one gets to spend with friends and acquaintances.  But, as Nate said to me at our last family dinner together, he did not look at this as a passing friendship, but as a lifelong connection that we will all work hard to maintain.  I actually don't think it will be that hard to maintain and we look forward to traveling hook-ups with this wonderful and fun family.

Mary and I being strong and not crying (yet!)

The wonderful Gammon Family!
But, what else can I say that has not already been was a great, great, year and one we will never, ever forget.  Thank you for sharing it with us.  Pura Vida Gammon Family....until we meet again (very soon I hope!).  xxoo