Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

As most of you already know, our first Workaway experience didn’t go as we had hoped. So when we heard back from Susan, a writer, & Dave, a former alternative radio host, documentarian, and lifelong musician in San Rafael, we were excited, but also a bit apprehensive. They were going to be fine with us staying as long or as short a time as we wanted, so we entered San Rafael knowing that if things didn’t quite work out we be able to get out. Fortunately, things with Susan, Dave, & their 13-year-old daughter Tivoli could not have worked out any better.

Tiv, Susan & Dave

Tiv, Susan & Dave

From the moment that we arrived till the moment that we left, we were treated like a new part of the family. We spent the days working and the nights getting to know one another, either at dinner or just hanging out on the patio talking about anything & everything. Susan & Dave could not have been more accommodating hosts and our living situation couldn’t have been more ideal (especially after our previous Workaway situation). We had our own house separate from theirs. It had two bathrooms, two bedrooms, a gigantic kitchen, and a sitting area where we could hang out, read or watch movies. (We apologize for the grainy images of our accommodation – our cheap point & shoot camera was acting up on our last day & the nice camera was charging.)


Our house

The kitchen

Our kitchen

Our bedroom

Our bedroom

Kind of like our last Workaway, Lisa & I had different responsibilities and expectations. I was needed to help Dave with the long list of outdoor projects that he was simply unable to keep up with given their vast amount of land. Lisa, on the other hand, was given the tough balancing act of being a teacher/friend to Tiv. During the mornings they did several fun projects from photography & blogging to bracelet making & painting. Tuesday & Thursday nights, Lisa & Tiv took to the kitchen to cook dinner for the 5 of us. At times it proved to be a bit of challenge for Lisa to keep Tiv focused, but all in all it was a good experience for the two of them.


Our Painting

Collaborative painting by Tiv, Susan & Lisa

Their pets, who we love almost as much as we love Norma & Silverstein!

Their pets, who we love almost as much as we love Norma Jean & Silverstein!

 I spent most of my time outside doing a number of different tasks. Dave and I started off doing most of our morning work together, cutting up logs for splitting & cutting/clearing out quick-growing saplings. As time went on, Dave kind of just let me do my own thing. Some days he had a specific task that he wanted me to get done, other days I was left to my own devices. I did everything from weed-whacking, cutting down trees, splitting wood, & hanging chicken wire (they had a bat problem in their cabana). I also cleared out all the weeds & silt build up in the small canal that ran across their property.


We usually worked until around 12:30 or 1:00. In summer it just gets too hot to be working outside & plus you would be disturbing your neighbors during siesta. In Argentina & South America as a whole, businesses and people pretty much shut down around 1:00PM to take a break from the day and relax. They don’t start up again until around 5:00PM. It is a bit of shock at first to go into a big city or small town for that matter and see no businesses open, but you eventually get used to it and come to expect it, especially when the afternoon temperatures are pushing 100 degrees Fahrenheit.


 Susan & Dave were also gracious enough to take us to almost all the social gatherings of their friends. On Friday evenings they had a few Expat friends over for a friendly, low stakes game of poker. It was a pot luck so everyone brought food. There wasn’t a bad cook among them so we ate some great food. Sunday afternoons, we did pretty much the same thing at a friend of theirs house. Expect the game on Sunday wasn’t poker, but Ba-Chi-Ball. Even though we didn’t have our AARP cards, they let us play. They also took us to a few others parties, including a New Year’s Eve party where was had a great Asado (Argentine BBQ) which included a goat roasting over an open fire and some great people.

Us, Malcolm & Sue At Poker Night

Us, Malcolm & Sue (British Expats) At Poker Night

The Circus - Yeah, that's right!

The Circus – Yeah, that’s right!

New Year's Eve 2013

New Year’s Eve 2013

White water rafting in Valle Grande

White water rafting in Valle Grande

Our time with Susan, Dave, & Tiv was outstanding. They couldn’t be nicer people & they defiantly couldn’t have treated us any better. Our time in San Rafael flew by, but we couldn’t stay there forever. We’ve left San Rafael, but we have more now than when we first arrived. We’ve added 3 new family members that we can’t wait to see again.

SR Family For now, it’s goodbye to San Rafael & hello to Bariloche, the gateway to Patagonia!

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We just wanted to wish everyone in the States a Merry Turkey Day!!!!


– Corey & Lisa –

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Photo blog to make up for lack of photos in the previous post . . .

Before leaving Wisconsin, Corey’s folks took us out for dinner one last time!

Norma Jean getting acclimated with her new digs

Catching up with Leader’s Club (YMCA) buddies!

Catching up with high school buddies!

Sorting our inventory (Lisa’s clothes)

Enjoying our favorite restaurants!

Relaxing in Raleigh with the Davis family

Organizing everything (again & again!)

See you in La Paz!

Thank you EVERYONE for making our last few months in Wisconsin & North Carolina so much fun!  It was nice to see you all one last time . . . after a couple of weeks of catching up with family & friends in Raleigh, we’re finally off to Bolivia!

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Silverstein “Stinky” Waller”
June 25, 2007 – April 23, 2012

A few weeks after we got married we got Norma Jean at the Waukesha County Human Society.  After a couple of months of it just being the two of us and Norma, we decided to get her a playmate.  We, the weird people that we admittedly tend to be, came up with a name for our new cat before we even walked into the Milwaukee County Human Society’s doors.  Silverstein, after the band Silverstein which is named after the poet Shel Silverstein.  This was the name Lisa first came up with and Corey loved immediately.  So as we roamed the halls of the humane society we found ourselves looking for a silver/gray cat.  They had a few, however, there was a feisty little one with tiger striping that looked pretty cool.  He was the one and we brought him home. 

Now there are two ways to introduce cats.  The right way: is to lock the new cat in a separate room and let them kind of get used to each other’s smells and then give them short times together, again to allow them to both get comfortable.  And the wrong way: is to walk in the front door, open the new cat’s carrier, and see what happens.  Poor Norma.  We choose the second way. The second Silverstein got out, he began chasing Norma all over the house, generally beating the crap out of her.  After a couple of hours of this we both began to become worried that maybe this wasn’t going to work.  We went to work the next morning hoping that by the time we got home things would have settled down at least a bit.  Luckily, they did.  When Corey got home the next afternoon the two cats were taking a nap together, best friends after a night of all out war.  One thing was very apparent after that first night.  This was Silverstein’s house.

Throughout his life Corey has had quite a few cats.  Not one of them has come even close to touching Silverstein and his incredible personality.  From his loud mouth purring to the place he choose to spend his nights, wrapped around Corey’s head even if that meant forcing him off the pillow.  Silverstein always made his presence felt.  He liked to play it up like he was a real tough guy, but reality didn’t quite match up.  He would always be the first to greet Corey when he came home, unless he thought it was a stranger and he ran away to hide under a chair.  One time we brought a dozen balloons home for one of Lisa’s picture projects and left to do some errands.  We came home to find Silverstein hiding in the kitchen drawer with all the measuring cups and spoons.  We have now idea how he managed to squeeze his fat body in there or why he was so afraid of those balloons.

When he played, he really liked it rough.  Corey could push him to the ground and roughhouse him and he would just lay there purring, happy as could be.  Sometimes Corey would even put his face in jumping range over Silverstein.  He’d jump up and hit Corey with both paws in the face, claws in because he didn’t want to hurt Corey.  

He hated company.  He usually would either hide somewhere in the bedroom or, if he was feeling brave, walk around and hiss at any stranger that got too close.  We originally tried to bring the cats up to Corey’s parents’ for holidays, but Silverstein ended that because he always ended up under a couch, hissing at people.  I guess to others he must have seemed like a big jerk, but he wasn’t like that with us.  I think that’s what made Silverstein so loveable.  He hated everyone, but loved the three of us so much.

One month ago, on April 23, 2012, we had to say goodbye to our little boy cat.  To be honest, it’s been a rough month emotionally trying to get on with a life that doesn’t include Silverstein. Some people may think it’s silly to mourn a cat, but he was one of our best friends & it’s weird to think that it’s just the three of us now: Corey, Lisa & Norma Jean.

Back in January, Silverstein started throwing up and losing his appetite.  We took him to the vet, where they put him on a couple of medications which seemed to do the trick.  He seemed like he was back to normal.  Unfortunately, this didn’t last for very  long.  Within a couple of months his previous symptoms returned, but worse  this time around.  Corey also found a weird peapod-like object in the litter box.  It could have been from either of our cats, but we assumed that it was probably from him since he wasn’t feeling well. 

 Lisa noticed blood in his stool one morning while getting ready for work & that freaked both of us out.  Obviously concerned, we brought him back to the vet, where they insisted on saying that it was probably the same thing from January & prescribed the same medication.  If, after that, he still wasn’t better, then they’d do x-rays and blood work.

After that second visit to the vet his appetite plummeted.  We tried every cat food we could find & even caved in, giving him our food: tuna, deli meat, ground turkey, anything to get him to eat.  After attempting to get him in for blood work & x-rays on a Saturday morning with no luck, the vet suggested we buy some AD to nourish him over the weekend and then get him tested the following Tuesday.  We weren’t keen on this plan, but weren’t sure what other options we had.  So, we bought the AD, which is soluble cat food that’s supposed to have an appealing aroma, in hopes that Silverstein would get something in his system.  It didn’t work.

On Sunday morning, April 22nd, we brought him to a 24 hour animal hospital in our area.  By the afternoon we learned that he probably had liver disease.  They kept him overnight & the next morning learned that not only did he have liver disease, but that his small intestine & pancreas were probably infected.  They’d have to do more tests and he’d have to wear an esophageal feeding tube for at least 3 months.  At that point the doctor was going over the costs of all these procedures and we realized we had to let him go.  Around 11:30 that Monday morning we held him while he slipped away. 

Some of Lisa’s co-workers have suggested getting a new cat, but they can’t seem to grasp just how special he was to us.  Have you ever met a cat who purred when you put him in a dress?  Or who smelled something stinky & went back not for one, but two sniffs?  Or whose preferred relaxation method was on his back?  That was Silverstein!  Not a day goes by that we don’t miss him and while we wish we had more time with him, at least we got 5 great years with our baby boy!  

Rest in peace Stinky

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Wishing all of you a wonderful holiday season and a happy new year!

We also wanted to send a special shout-out to our Raleigh family & friends: we wish we could be there with you this year & we’ll see you in the summer. . . Merry Christmas!!!

Lisa's face doesn't normally look like that, but Norma Jean's so squirmy & (after several attempts) this was the best photo of her. Notice that Silverstein, my cat, is on his best behavior! (Boys 1: Girls 0)

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It’s not like this is the first time we’ve ever traveled anywhere, but it is the first time that we were actively looking for ways to improve our travel style.  I decided to do a test drive with both my main pack & my day pack, while Corey just did a test drive with his daypack.  We’re happy to report that we love all three items so far, but it was also a small trip!  But, here are the top 5 things we took away from our trip:

1 – Pack More Efficiently:  For starters, we were only in Raleigh for 13 days & we both overpacked!  We each took 1 to many pairs of shoes (Lisa: 3 & Corey: 2), too many books (Lisa: 4, Corey: 6 – though I did read 4 books, 3 of them were my mom’s & Corey also read 3), I took a bunch of nice clothes (1 set was worn to church) & Corey took way too many t-shirts.  We also ended up bringing our own bodywash, but my parents provided that for us.  I can only imagine all the weight that this extra stuff added to our load!   

2 – Patience:  Without a doubt we always end up near the screaming kid or farting man or nosey chick on our flights.  It’s something we have come to terms with, however, that doesn’t make our travel days very enjoyable.  And, it always seems to happen at the beginning of our trip, because the 2 flights from Raleigh back to Milwaukee were hassel-free.  Anyway, from MKE to EWR (Newark) I had the excited 4-year-old kicking my seat, while Corey had the farting man in front of him & from EWR to RDU we both had kicking kids behind us.  Another 4-year-old behind Corey & then mom was behind me with an infant on her lap, while dad was across the aisle yelling at his wife to control the kids. So not cool!  

3 – Stick to the Budget:  We actually get a silver star this year, but that’s only when you compare it to how badly we did last year!   We went to Raleigh in 2009 where we had a crazy shopping spree, buying jeans, shirts, movies (dvds & theater) & books.  To top it off we hit all of my favorite restaurants!  We were absolutely ridiculous!  This year we still went to my favorite restaurants, bought 4 books (2 each) & saw 5 movies (How do you Know, True Grit, The Fighter, Black Swan & Harry Potter & the Deathly Hollows for the 3rd time), but paid for 3; my parents paid for the other 2.  I realize that some people would still see this as a lot, but besides all the eating out, this is what we enjoy doing while we’re home, so it just makes sense to do the same with our family during the holidays.

4 – Take (More) Pictures:  For anyone who doesn’t know, I majored in photography & I used to be one of those people who brought my camera with me everywhere. . . I mean that, EVERYWHERE!  So, I brought my camera with me & had intentions of keeping it on my person during our trip.  But, I took zero pictures.  You read that right: zip, nada, zilch!  I’m so angry with myself & this is definitely something we both need to work on considering that we plan to bring 2 cameras (1 nice, 1 point & shoot) for the big trip.  Photo score for this trip: F.

5 – Love Each Day: While we weren’t watching movies, playing video games or reading, we were enjoying each other’s company.  It sucks that we only get to see each other once a year & I think it’s important to enjoy the little things because our time together is so short.  We all had a great time & I think one could argue that there’s never enough time, so A++ for not taking it for granted!  Too bad we don’t have teleporters like the Jetsons!  

Now, we have a better idea of what to expect for our next trip.  We’ll be putting more effort into packing less & sticking to the budget, while packing an extra case of patience for the crazies we will inevitably encounter while on the road.  We hope that everyone had a Happy New Year and that this next year brings joy & happiness!

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It was balanced when we put it up, but the kitties feel that the tree is their playground! See the little kitty in the corner?

I know we have been bad about blogging, but it wasn’t until my buddy Gillian sent me an email wondering how things have been that I knew it was time to drop a line.  Honestly, we’ve just been really, really busy!  I realize that’s no excuse for not staying on top of the blog, but that’s the problem with having a travel-oriented blog when we’re just saving right now. 😛 

Between work, Christmas shopping, planning for a trip to Raleigh and not to mention all the other normal parts of our daily routine – laundry, cooking, eating, sleeping, reading, crocheting – we’ve been busy & pretty exhausted as a result. 

Work, work, work: I have a huge project at work that needs to be done before we go out-of-town, so I’ve been working my butt off to make sure it gets done.  It’s not a very hard project, but it has me working in the vault, where there’s no insulation or heat, getting together contact information to send out invitations for a big event in February.  (If you’re new to this blog, then you should know that we live in Wisconsin & that we’ve been between 0 & 20 degrees F this past week – in other words it’s flippin’ cold back there!)  Then, there’s Corey with his 4, 10 hour days and his additional 8+ hour weekends tiling.  Friday was his 20th straight day of work!  I have no clue how he does it.  Luckily, that was his last tile job of the year & this week he only has to work Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday.

It hasn’t all been boring work stuff.  Here are some fun decoration photos.  Please note our ridiculous cats in the tree! 

Norma Jean



I made these cute little crochet ornaments, but the cats have decided that those are there only for their amusement!

Crochet Ornaments

On to the shopping portion: Shopping for my parents was easy.  We’re all so happy to see each other that the gift aspect really isn’t that important.  Can’t tell you what they’re getting, cause the read the blog!  Corey’s parents are another story.  We ask them what they want & they either say nothing or I’ll get back to you & never do.  So we end up hounding them for weeks until they finally make a decision.  And, that still leaves his brother, Jared & his aunt and you can’t forget that we also need to get at least 1 thing for each other.  This year we decided to get each other more Christmas presents than last year.  Last year we still hadn’t saved a dime, so in an attempt to get the ball rolling we decided to get our passports in order as a gift to each other.  This time around we put a $60 (ish) cap on the amount we could purchase on each other.  It’s always fun to get a surprise from your love on Christmas!

What’s a travel blog without a bit of travel?   We’ll be leaving for Raleigh on Christmas day.  My dad inadvertently taught me one of the best holiday travel secrets.  If you want to beat the crowds and have a better chance of getting to your destination on time, then you should travel on fill-in-the-holiday day!  The first time we went to Raleigh we left mid-week right after Christmas, thinking we’d be fine.  Boy were we wrong.  Our first flight was delayed, making us miss our second flight & flying to another city in hopes of catching the last flight from Newark to Raleigh.  Our original plan was to be in North Carolina at 1 PM, but we didn’t get there until 3 AM.  We would have made it there faster if we drove!  That’s not to say that everyone who flies on Christmas day travels worry/hassle free, but it seems to be a more relaxed bit of people traveling & in general the flights seem to be on time.  Anyway, we’ll spend this Christmas Eve at the Waller’s in WI & Christmas Day with the Davis family in NC. 

We hope you all have a wonderful holiday season!!!!

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