Forty One

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So, this is 41. Supposedly once you’re over 40, then you’re considered “over the hill”, right? Well maybe, maybe not. In my 20’s I did consider the 40’s as being “over the hill” and I had a picture in my head of what that would look and feel like. This is not at all what I expected. Man, am I glad.  I choose to make the most of every day.  I choose to do the things that make me feel alive. So, here’s to the 40’s. Bring it on!

*A special thanks to my three favorite people; Steve, Danica and Trey.  Steve made me feel special and let me do anything I wanted all weekend while he did my chores for me.  Trey went rock climbing with me and we had the best time.  Danica gave me the best present by coming home for the weekend to hang out with me.  To each of you… thank you for being you and thank you for being amazing.  You made me feel so very special. 



Ocean Magic

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For me, paddleboading can be a purely magical experience.  This week I got to experience one of those magical moments. The water was completely flat, glassy, crystal clear and calm, the ocean was filled with beautiful sea life, the wind was calm and the moon was full.  It was perfect!  I quickly remembered just how much I love paddleboarding and how grateful I am to live in a place where I can do things like this year round.

You see, two years ago (before my mom’s accident), I was out on the water every single week without fail.  Then life flipped upside down and I just never got back into the habit.  Well, I’m taking life by the horns and I’m changing that.  Doing fun active activities makes me feel better physically and emotionally. Paddleboarding is probably at the top of that activity list for me.  It makes me feel alive! Now I’m looking to add additional activities to this list; mountain bike trail riding and indoor rock climbing.  More to come on that.  In the meantime, I’ll be enjoying more time on the ocean.

Beach Photography

I have been MIA from the blog for sometime; 3 months to be exact!  WOW, how quickly time flies.  Hopefully that will change.  Soon there will be a post about my hair, the debacle and the process to recover.  I know, don’t get too excited.  In the meantime, I wanted to share my most recent little hobby with you.

If you know me at all, then you know I’m a beach lover.  It could be said that I moved my family 1600 miles to be close to the beach.  (well, that’s at least one reason anyway) The beach brings me peace.  It is my happy place.  Ok, after much  babbling, here’s the point.  I got this awesome lens set for my Samsung phone from my brother and sister-in-law for Christmas.  The set came with a wide angle lens and a fish eye lens. My Galaxy s6 Active already takes great photos, but this lens takes it up a notch. Plus, it’s super easy to use.  I can’t stop taking photos.

Here are just a few pics I’ve taken in just the last three weeks.  If you follow me on Instagram, then this will be a repeat.  If you don’t follow me on Instagram, please do.  You can find me at @mamanellie_.

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Costa Rica Day 4 :: Explore

Big Wave Dee Crashed on Beach Dee Gazing on Rocks Dee in the Sunset Dee Running up from Beach Dee with Hands up Epic Sunset Nell in Cave Nell Jump Nell on Rock Nell under Short Palm Nell Victory on Rocks Steve and Trey Out in Water Steve Catching Wave Steve Running into Ocean Steve throwing Dee in Water Trey Catching a Wave Wave in SunsetSteve Gazing at Ocean from Patio

Well if you made it this far, then you managed to look through the ridiculous number of photos I posted.  The good thing (for memory purposes) is that I literally took 2,000 photos on our Costa Rica trip  The bad thing is that I took 2,000 photos on our Costa Rica trip and have to go through each and every one of them.  Honestly, there are just so many good pics from this trip that it takes me at least two to three passes through the photos to decided what to post.

Well, anyway, here you are.  This is day 4 of our Costa Rica adventure.  We rented a house in the Punta Leona gated resort with no rental car.  This wasn’t really an issue since the resort had two amazing beaches, 800 acres of rainforest, restaurants, stores, etc.  But, hey, we figured we should head off the grounds to explore a local town at the very least.  We chose to get a taxi and head to Jaco (pronounced Ha-co).  While the town was a great place to shop for souvenirs and eat a nice authentic Costa Rican meal, there wasn’t much else to rave about.  To be honest, we were pretty disappointed.  But that was ok because we were able to not only begin the day with a quick exploration of the caves at low tide, but also catch probably the best sunset I’ve ever seen while body surfing 5-6 foot waves.

Costa Rica, you never disappoint.  What a great way to end the day watching the sky being painted with the prettiest of colors while having a blast in the beautiful ocean.  Perfection.

Costa Rica Day 3 :: Rainforest Adventures

Nell Zip Lining Upside DownDee Canyoning 2 Dee Zip Line Small on Big Mtn Dee Zip Lining Upside Down Handleys in Zip Line Gear Monkey Middle of Palm
Dart FrogMonkey on a Palm Nell and Dee Riding Horses Rainforest Nell and Dee Riding in the Rainforest Nell Canyoning 2 Nell Canyoning Bottom View Nell Canyoning Nell on Horse Drinking  Steve and Trey ATV Top of Mtn Steve and Trey Top of Mountain Steve ATV Face Steve Nell Dee Waiting to Zip Line Steve Upside Down Zip Lining Steve Zip Lining Trey Canyoning Trey Zip Lining Upside DownNell Looking Over Balcony


Everyday in Costa Rica was amazing but day three may have been just a tad better than the rest.

We were told by many as well as read online that you will most definitely see wild monkeys in your backyard.  Up to this point, we had seen parrots and exotic birds but no monkeys.  I will honestly say that I was getting quite disappointed.  On day three, this all changed.  Steve was out on the patio just looking out at the ocean.  The kids and I were inside getting ready for the day.  Steve storms into the house yelling, “Nell, monkey’s!  Nell, monkey’s!  Nell, monkey’s!”  We all raced out to the patio and he was not joking. There were about 30 adorable little white face monkey’s migrating through our backyard.  There was the alpha male in the far left palm tree calling out to the others. There were even a few mama and baby monkey’s.  I probably took 50 pictures but only posted two here.  It was amazing to see.  They were everywhere and just so dang cute!

After watching the monkey’s in amazement we went out on our big rainforest adventure.  One of the coolest things about this trip is the timing.  We timed it perfectly and totally by accident.  Apparently, we were in Costa Rica during the rainy season and during the lowest season.  It was perfect!  The reason why?  Well, one reason is that we went to the 850 acre rain forest adventure park (Ocean Ranch Park) and we were literally the only people there.  How crazy is that?  We ended up getting a private tour with two guides and had the entire rainforest park to ourselves.  Dee and I rode horses to start while the boys rode ATV’s.  We all did waterfall canyoning which is much tougher than it looks by the way, but a ton of fun. Then it was off to zip lining.  Honestly, we added the zip lining on after the fact as we didn’t initially set out to zip line since we had done it before when we went to Mexico.  Man, we were so glad we did. We thought the waterfall canyoning would be the coolest part, but we were wrong.  The zip lining was totally the best.  I really believe it was because we were the only people there and instead of doing just 2 or 3 zip lines, we got to do all 10 with the last one being a half mile long and well above all the rainforest trees.  Also, I am totally convinced that you can live forever if you are stuck in the rainforest.  Every remedy you could ever need resides in this beautiful place.  There was everything from a Bengay plant (it literally smelled like Bengay when you broke the branch), war paint leaves, dart frogs (poisonous frogs used by warriors to rub their poison on their darts) and cancer treatment roots.  I was blown away.

What a spectacular day!  Of course, everyday ended with us peering off the patio overlooking the ocean.  There was nothing more relaxing and peaceful than just sitting there watching the sun set and listen to the waves crash.  Pura Vida!

Costa Rica Day 2 :: Explore

Dee and Trey in water Dee and Trey on Rocks Dee and Trey over Pennisula Dee Big Palm Playa Blanca Dee Floating in Water Dee in water Playa Blanca Dee Ohm Underwater Dee Running Road in Rainforest Dee Running Up from Water Family on golf cart Famous Palm Nell & Dee in Water Playa Blanca Nell and Dee over Pennisula Nell and Steve on Rocks Nell Flying from Beach Nell Hanging on Palm Nell on Road Rainforest  Nell Walking down Playa Blanca Over Pennisula Palm Shadow Playa Blanca Rock on Beach Up Close Steve in water Playa Blanca Steve on Playa Blanca Steve Walking Away Playa Blanca Steve waving from House Patio Sunrise over Mountain Sunset Day 2 Trey in Rainforest Trey in Water with Mask Trey on Rocks Trey on Steves Shoulders Trey Walking behind Playa Blanca Trey walking Playa Blanca Tropical Bird on Beach

Day two was spent exploring. And man, we had no idea just how much there was to see.  We rented a house but the house was on the grounds of an 800 acre gated rainforest resort (Punta Leona).  Our adventures included checking out two beaches; Playa Mantas and Playa Blanca, rainforest trails, golf cart trails, multiple swimming pools, local snacks, etc.  Everything was incredibly lush  and tropical.  The beaches were amazing especially Playa Blanca. It was perfect-o. Playa Blanca was separated by a rock structure in the middle where one side was flat for snorkeling and the other side had surfable waves.  The sand was pure white and there was a snack bar with delicious piña coladas. It really doesn’t get any better than this!

Costa Rica Day 1 :: First Impressions

Alligators SizedView from Patio No Rail Steve and Trey Beach Day One River View Pennisula Day One Nell and Dee Hug Beach Day One Nell and Dee Beach Day one

The ride from the main airport (San Jose) in Costa Rica is far from either coastline.  This was just fine for us as we booked a private driver to take us from the airport to our rental house on the central Pacific coast.  The lengthy drive of two hours allowed us the opportunity to take in the countryside, stop at the river to see the dinosaur sized alligators, visit delicious fruit stands and stop at the grocery in the afternoon rain storm.

Once we got to the resort, we were wowed with beauty.  It was a tropical oasis like I had never seen before and that says a lot as I live in tropical south Florida and have been to Hawaii twice.  Lush doesn’t even describe the views.  The view from the house that we rented certainly didn’t disappoint.  The view in reality far exceeded the pictures.  As I looked at the view of the Pacific Ocean from our patio for the very first time all I could think was, man this looks so much like Hanalei Bay in Kauai; horseshoe bay on the Pacific Ocean. I couldn’t take my eyes off this beautiful view.

As I mentioned from my previous post (Costa Rica Day Pic of the Day 1), there were several things learned from our first day.

  1. The grocery stores are intimidating.  Literally everything is in Spanish and we are most definitely a no hablo español family.  It took me a good 10 minutes to find the salt in the spice isle.
  2. The bugs are ginormous! You can see the segments of an ant in great detail from a standing position.
  3. The sun starts to rise at 4:45 am.  The sun glaring in your window by 5 am means that you get up really early.  I am most definitely a morning person so this made me a happy girl.
  4. The sun sets at 6 pm. Love this!  It means that we can go to bed early (by 8:30pm).  Woo hoo!
  5. Falling asleep to the crashing waves and sounds of the rainforest makes for the best sleep of all time.  Listen at the link below.  There is nothing more peaceful to fall asleep to than this.

Costa Rica Pic of the Day 6

Costa Rica Big Wave

Day six; the last full day in Costa Rica.  What a fantastic adventure!  Life certainly has many ups and downs.  I’m so glad I get to experience all of them with this guy by my side.  Costa Rica, you were certainly one of the ups in our life.  Can’t wait to go back and explore more of this beautiful country.  Pura Vida!

Costa Rica Pic of the Day 5

Trey Looking at Ocean from Rocks

Being out there in the ocean, God’s creation, it’s like a gift He has given us to enjoy.” -Bethany Hamilton


Costa Rica Pic of the Day 4

Steve and Trey Catch Wave Sunset

Sunsets and catching waves.  Both were spectacular.

Costa Rica lessons learned today:

  1. 5 and 6 foot waves surmount and break at the shore.
  2. Sunsets in Costa Rica are better than Florida.
  3. Taco bars are awesome.
  4. Sometimes the best adventures aren’t the ones you planned.