Continuing our trip out West, we spent a few days in Boqueron, PR and really loved the vibe of this town. Boqueron is located near Cabo Rojo and has a long beautiful beach lined in palm trees and calm blue water that is perfect for sailboats. We are always searching for beaches on Puerto Rico similar to our amazingly spectacular beaches in St. Croix and this one comes very close.
Once we scoped out the beach, we set up camp underneath a beautiful poor man's orchid tree (not sure of the scientific name) that had tons of pink blooms. How horrible to have a beach spot underneath pink flowers?! This was the first beach that we took Penelope swimming at and she was not so sure about the salty water at first. But she soon began kicking around :) With all of our trips to the beach, we are really hoping that she will love it at a young age.
This beach was a prime spot for spectacular sunsets and Aaron even caught a green flash for the first time here. I unfortunately was not watching so I have yet to see one, but he swears that it happened. I will continue to wait for my turn... Surely six years is long enough to wait right? Maybe I need more beach sunsets :)
The saying "Another day, another dollar" speaks to many people. It tells of the day to day boredom of going to a job they don't enjoy only to make the money necessary to live a lifestyle that is centered around work. This ultimately leads to working and waiting all year just to have a two week break from the everyday boredom of life. Should life be boring? Should one have to wait all year for this small break? I think not.
While we were visiting the West end of Puerto Rico, I sat on the beach at sunset and did a bit of self reflecting. How my life has changed in the last year! I feel that things really started changing for me once I contracted the Chikungunya virus. It wasn't until after I recovered from this horrible situation that I began questioning what I was doing and what I wanted. What do I want?
The answer is simple: Happiness.
I believe this is what most people want and it is achievable. Goals and priorities might just need to be shifted. With all the changes the last year has brought, I enjoyed all of them and really do love my life. Days like this one where I am able to watch the sunset and reflect on my life are wonderful and have us simply saying "Another Day in Paradise". If you are one that often says "Another day, another dollar", try making changes so that you love your daily life. Because really we only get one shot :)
Well the holidays are over and we are finally settled back in at home. Almost an entire month away to visit friends and family in St. Croix and Texas and we were thoroughly exhausted. Little Penelope did great on the trip and enjoyed lots of cuddling and holding which we have been trying to keep up with since we got back :)
Aaron's school didn't start for a week so we decided to continue our traveling adventures and head to the West side of Puerto Rico. You know the saying "West is Best!" :) It is amazing how diverse the terrain is in Puerto Rico and following our drive will surely make others fall in love with this aspect of Puerto Rico. Lets go on a trip...
Starting in Cidra, we are surrounded by beautiful lush mountains speckled with the occasional set of pine trees. The weather is cool and the pace is slow.Then, heading through the mountain pass towards Ponce, the lush mountains suddenly turn into soft rolling hills of green and yellow grass. It is almost as if you have entered another world and astonishingly the terrain continues to change as you head even farther South. The rolling hills slowly become rocky and bare with cactus and small bushes scattered about. Aaron and I are reminded of South Texas here and even more so when I suggested a scenic drive that had us passing small farms with cows, old barbed wire fences, horses, windmills, and agricultural plots of farmland. This area is not your typical tropical island wonderland, but to us it beautiful in its simplicity and reminder of the good old days. Heading further West, the road led us straight to an ocean that was just as calm as we were after such a beautiful drive. The drive alone was amazing and our West vacation hadn't even begun yet :)
Before I go into detail of our full trip, I wanted to talk a bit about a small town called Yauco. Nearing this city, you will see a hillside covered in colorful houses and wonder if you hadn't just warped into another country. We attempted to get a picture of the town, but unfortunately this part of the trip was a major fail with many terse words on how to get a good viewpoint for a photo. So, I have borrowed a beautiful photo from someone who had better luck. This photo was taken from Ricardo Ruiz de Porras.
Beautiful right!? We wanted to get some coffee and knew we could find a good cup here since this town is known as the "City of Coffee".
How do you know if you have a good cup of coffee? Does the straw sit up straight all by itself? If so, then yes you have a great cup of coffee :) We stopped at Cafeito, a small open air coffee shop in the town square. This place is great and Buddy and Bonnie got to tag along :)
The coffee shop had a chalkboard with a beautiful saying this trip and on the way back home. Translated, we have
"And when you least expect, everything goes well"
"A life is the color that you want to paint"
We love this shop and completely recommend stopping by if you are in the area. Order a cafe con leche and you will be happy!
After coffee, our trip continued West...
It is the holidays and time to bring out the Coquito for some holiday cheer. This heavenly rum drink will surely make anyone feel the Christmas spirit and is sold everywhere here in Puerto Rico this time of the year. We first experienced this drink in St. Croix and are happy to see it here as well. You can purchase store bought versions or homemade Coquito from passed down recipes. What is this "Coquito" you might be wondering? One answer would be heaven. But for the more detailed definition:
From Wikipedia, "Coquito is an eggnog-like alcoholic beverage traditionally served in Puerto Rico. It is made with rum, coconut milk, sweet condensed milk, egg yolks, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves."
It is oh so good and I think it is definitely not frowned upon to have a bit of Coquito any time of the day. I bet it would be wonderful to make ice-cream out of this drink too... Tempting... To spread the cheer, we are planning to bring a few bottles to Texas this Christmas when we visit family ;) Happy Holidays!
The town of Cidra had their annual Christmas lighting event last Saturday night and it was so much fun! I am so glad we decided to go last minute. Even with the drizzling rain and chill to the air, everyone was happy and the community vibe was great. Before all of the lights were lit, a group of kids sang Christmas songs and there were lots of small booths selling food and trinkets. We even had nachos! Living on an island like St. Croix, one does not get this treat as often as we did in the states :) Reminds me of football games...
When the lights were finally turned on, huge fireworks filled the sky and we were literally right underneath the fireworks. It was amazing! The last time we were this close to fireworks was when we paddle boarded next to the pier in St. Croix on July 4th and got a bit too close for comfort. The Christmas lights were spectacular! A huge castle surrounded the stage, all of the trees were lit, and Santa was inside the "Santa Sphere". It has been a long time since we have seen lights like this and it definitely put us in the holiday spirit. Puerto Rico amazed me again :) I really am going to miss the town of Cidra when we have to leave this summer.
We have lived in the mountains of Puerto Rico for eight months now and there are so many things that we love about Cidra. The weather is phenomenal, the pace is slow, the land is lush and green, the people are friendly, and so much more. At first I was not thrilled by the neighborhood roosters, dogs, and frogs that decide to produce a full blown music production at all hours of the day and night. But, I am now used to these sounds and actually like them now. I am even okay with the occasional firework show that our neighbors decide to partake in without warning.
But, in the last few months, something awful has been occurring. A sound that makes my dogs shiver with fear for days. A sound that makes me jump and hide under the covers. Yes, that is correct, I actually do that when deemed necessary because we all know that covers protect one from ghosts, monsters under the bed, nightmares, and anything else that is scary. This awful sound is possibly what creates nightmares. What is ruining the perfection of our eternal Spring wonderland? Thunder....
Not just your everyday thunder. This thunder sounds like the Gods are fighting with 100 ton boulders. I have never in all my life experienced thunder like this and we have some pretty intense thunderstorms in Texas! It is terrifying! Once I see the flash of light, I hold my little dogs tight under the safety of my covers and brace myself for the sky to collapse. The entire house seems to shake and I wonder if the concrete roof cave in. Did every electron in existence just simultaneously collide? It is so scary...
It is now the rainy season, so the thunder will probably stick around for another month or so. Maybe I will be used to it by the end? Until then, I will be keeping my covers close for protection.
Is it necessary to play it safe or does just winging it work out well? On a recent road trip, we stopped at a convenient store to get some coffee and snacks before heading to the beach. While I waited with Penelope in the car, a man walked out of the store with a coffee, turned left, and started up a nearby ladder. And nobody was there holding the ladder for support! This is something Aaron never allows me to do even though I claim to be very safe when climbing, and plus, all I have to do is jump back if it start falling right?
Upon closer inspection, I realized that the ladder was supported by a small rope tied to the building. Must take picture! Now I know what to do to convince Aaron that I can handle roof projects by myself :)
To make the scene even more interesting, the man was outfitted with a large hat and cloth wrapped all around his face so that only his eyes were showing. When he came out of the store, my first thought was that he had robbed the place (and stole a coffee) and was using the ladder as his quick escape plan. But, after living on the islands for a while, I know that it is not uncommon to see this head gear for those who work in the sun all day, so I knew he was harmless. These little reminders that island living is always interesting.... I love :)
Sometimes things just don't work out like you had planned. After spending a full day at government offices to apply for Penelope's birth certificate and social security card, we headed to the beach to relax and enjoy a beach picnic. We arrived well before sunset and laid out all of our gear: beach mat, beach chairs, cooler, diaper bag, beach bag, and towels. The tide was up more than usual and Aaron suggested moving our gear over a bit just in case a big wave came through, but I didn't think we would need to worry about any of that. Wrong...
We were both thoroughly enjoying the relaxation when all of a sudden a large rogue wave came crashing through and covered our entire picnic spot.Everything was soaked! I grabbed Penelope before she could be washed away to sea (just kidding of course) and Aaron tried to collect all of our gear before the next wave came through. There we were frantically grabbing our entire wet picnic and trying to decide if we should salvage the day and move to a new spot when a swarm of noseeums came through and began having dinner at our expense. Fail! Now we really were running around like a couple of crazies :) Time to leave! So... we enjoyed our picnic in the safety of our car before finally deciding to drive further down the beach to find a new spot.
On a positive note, we were able to catch the sunset a bit further down the road where the bugs were not so bad and grabbed some good photos. So it wasn't all bad... Always good to remember that things aren't always perfect and you might have to improvise :)
Our first outing as a family and of course we chose the beach. We arrived right at sunset and captured some amazing photos of our two week old Penelope's first sunset. Not much longer until she will be playing with us at the beach! Can't wait!
Delivering my baby girl Penelope was one of the most trying, painful, and rewarding experiences of my life. Choosing to opt out of pain medications required extreme focus, strength, and willpower. There were many moments of self-doubt during the labor, but I succeeded and truly believe this decision has helped give me a strong and immediate bond with my child. When I look at her, I see an immense accomplishment as well as a perfect baby girl. This birth story documents the labor and delivery of Penelope’s arrival on September 20, 2015.
It is Tuesday, September 15th, and I am becoming anxious with the anticipation of labor beginning and being able to move forward from the pregnancy. I began to have many questions. Will she be healthy? Will I be able to handle the labor without medication? Am I strong enough to do this? Will I turn into a crazy woman from the pain? I had taken many classes on the birthing process and had a doula, Camille, who was going to come to my house when the labor began and be with me during the entire delivery at the hospital. Since we were in Puerto Rico where Spanish is the primary language, having a doula to help translate if needed was a huge relief for me. I feel prepared and ready.
My due date was September 17, 2015 and my little girl was going to be at least 8.5 pounds according to my last sonogram. I began having contractions on the 16th and 17th, but they were far apart and not regular. Then, nothing happened on Friday the 18th. Was she not ready yet? The only change I experienced was that I was extremely tired during these three days and took many 2-4 hour naps. On Friday night, Aaron and I went out to eat at a new restaurant and had a wonderful time. I was feeling great and was dancing to Oldies music all night just like my normal non-pregnant self would do. We assumed this would be our last date night before becoming parents and we definitely took advantage of the time we had.
It is now Saturday the 19th and I was awakened to a strong contraction followed by my water breaking at 6:00 am. After sending a text to my doula, I went back to sleep knowing that I had a lot of work coming up. At 7:00 am, I woke again to another strong contraction and lost more fluid. Then again at 8:00 am, but hardly any contractions were following. I ate a light breakfast and went back to sleep. At 12:00 pm, we decided to visit my midwife and see how far I was dilated since nothing was progressing. I was dilated to 3 cm and the fetal heart rate was strong. Since I was at the clinic, I got a quick chiropractic adjustment to hopefully help my baby turn from the posterior position (facing my belly) to the anterior position (facing my spine). I really didn’t want the back labor that comes with a posterior position! Plus the adjustment felt great J
After discussing my progress with my doctor, we decided to go to the hospital and get induced at 6:00 pm to limit the risk of infection. Unfortunately, the on call doctor, who was not my regular doctor, didn’t arrive until 10:00 pm and I didn’t receive the Pitocin until around 10:30 pm. Frustrating… And I was still only dilated to 3 cm. Since my water broke that morning, we had a time limit before a cesarean had to be performed. Time to get the show on the road! Almost immediately after the IV was in place with a low dose of Pitocin (6 ml), the contractions started. And they were in my back. Lovely… I was hooked up to a wireless fetal heart rate monitor, so I was fortunately able to move around the room freely. Thank goodness because laboring in bed was extremely uncomfortable from the start.
Camille, my doula, tried many techniques to try and spin the baby to the anterior position during the contractions, but I continued to have back pain despite the efforts. We turned on calming music and I immediately started using my birthing ball and varying positions to try and help the baby descend. After an hour, the contractions became much more painful and closer together. I was starting to get the hang of breathing through each contraction and focusing my energy on opening my cervix and moving her down. Deep breath in. Deep breath out while using my stomach muscles to push down on the belly during the breath. We were able to talk in between contractions for about another two hours and then I was completely focused on getting through the contractions. It is now 1:30 am and the pain is severe. My back felt like someone was trying to break my lower spine and my belly was as hard as a rock. Each contraction began as a burning pressing pain in my lower back and radiated to the front of my belly. As they progressed, the pain became more and more intense. Camille and Aaron continued to offer supportive words, water, Gatorade, and change of positions. The positions that I liked most were using the birthing ball in a rocking motion, squatting next to the bed, and leaning against the top of the inclined bed. In no way could I handle the contractions lying down. This meant that I was also getting an extreme leg workout in addition to an ab workout and was becoming tired quickly. I had been working squats into my daily routine while pregnant to prepare myself for this and am thankful that I had strong muscles.
I closed my eyes during most contractions and I believe everything was a bit fuzzy when I kept them open. Close to the 4-hour mark, I began to have an urge to push so we had the doctor come and check how far along I was. I was extremely tired and half delirious at this point, but we were all thinking I was close so I felt some relief. When the doctor checked, I was only dilated to 6 cm. I felt like my heart dropped after I heard this. I couldn’t do it. I wasn’t strong enough. I was defeated. I wanted to cry. An epidural wasn’t an option at the hospital and I couldn’t go home. I know that Aaron and Camille saw the look of despair on my face and I am sure Aaron was trying to figure out how he could possibly make this better for me. Tears were welling up in my eyes and I felt like there was no escape. How could I handle 4 more hours of this?
Camille kept whispering that she knew what I was thinking and that I could do it and that I would start progressing faster soon. Aaron kept telling me that I was strong and that I could do it, but I couldn’t shake the self-doubt. I can’t remember if they suggested it or if I just passed out on my own, but I began sleeping between contractions for over an hour. I remember apologizing and saying “just one more sleep” many times. When I woke to an extremely strong contraction, I was wide-awake and they both reminded me that we had a deadline and that I had to try and help the contractions along.
Rested, it was easier for me to endure the contractions since I had more energy. We began squatting again since this position helps the most in pushing the baby down. After an hour, I remember looking at Aaron and telling him “this is so hard”. The pain was so intense that I don’t believe I could have shouted obscenities or screamed. I simply tried to get through one contraction at a time. The relief that came from the end of a contraction was so wonderful that I began focusing on the break to get through the pain. It is now about 5:00 am and we are 6 ½ hours into the labor. I am starting to feel the urge to push, and this time, I couldn’t stop myself from pushing with a contraction. The doctor came in soon afterwards, but told me I was only at 8 cm and that I had to wait to push. Wait?? How??
Thankfully, the nurse told me that if I had the urge to push we would just see what happens and to push when I feel like it. She was not at all interested in the doctor’s opinion of me waiting longer if my natural instincts were kicking in. I wasn’t making any progress lying on the bed so we got back to the squatting position next to the bed and the nurse sat on the floor to monitor the progression. I am pretty positive there might be a hospital policy against this, but I am extremely grateful that she allowed it because I could feel progress with each contraction. No longer were the contractions as painful and I had a huge adrenalin rush. After pushing on and off through about 8 contractions in the squatting position, the nurse said it was time to get on the bed and do the final pushes. The end was near! I don’t remember having back pain during the pushing and can only assume the baby turned in the correct position. I just remember only thinking of pushing. I wasn’t even thinking of the baby. Just pushing. Aaron and Camille helped me hold my legs high up close to my chest and I pushed with all I had. About 4 pushes and the head was out. Ring of fire!!! I actually didn’t know that we were already this far and when they told me just one more really hard push and your done, I was ecstatic. And they were right. Just one more push and she was out.
The nurse quickly handed my baby to me. She was purple with gooeyness all over her and a full head of hair. But most importantly, she was crying. I was crying. I remember looking at Aaron and exclaimed how big she was. It was amazing how the remaining contractions were such minimal pain once she was delivered and how small my belly was. My legs were shaking uncontrollably, but I had a tremendous feeling of relief. The doctor then came in and stitched up a small tear I had and delivered the placenta. It was over. I did it! I can’t believe it really. But I did it! And I was starving!
Penelope Marie Boswell was born on September 20, 2015 at 6:04 am at Hospital Menonita in Cayey, PR. She weighed 8 pounds 8 ounces and was 20 inches long. Becoming a mother was a magical experience for me and I had an immediate bond with my little girl. I was totally and completely in love from the moment I held her.
I couldn’t get enough of her and practically held her constantly. She was perfect and she was mine. I am so thankful for the support I had from Camille and Aaron during the labor and from the nurse during the delivery. If it wasn’t for them, I know that I would not have been as calm as I was during the process. I feel that my relationship with Aaron is even stronger now because he gave me my precious little girl and we now have a family of our own. My heart feels swollen with love and I am extremely happy. Penelope, I love you with all my heart. You are one of the best things that has ever happened to me. I can’t wait to show you the world.
Theresa and Aaron
This blog is dedicated to our life here in St. Croix and the experiences we have each day.