Friday, November 30, 2012

Little Man is TWO!!!

 My body and I do NOT feel like it was 2 years ago that I went into the doctor's office the day after Thanksgiving, because I couldn't feel Luke moving.  Who knew he would be joining our family that day?!  What a little miracle!

 He began his life on earth so tiny and lethargic... and he's been making up for it ever since. 
There is no shortage of spunk, determination, intensity, and laughter inside these walls.  



 Give Luke and ball and he's the happiest kid on earth.  

 "Where'd it go?!"
Well, I better go get it!!


 Joe got home just in time to celebrate Luke's big day, before he had to turn around and leave again.  That was a present within itself.  Luke LOVES his dad.  Dad takes priority over everything else in Luke's eyes.  
 "I'm 2 now, I can do it myself."
 The balls Luke got for his birthday were the biggest hit.  Jake was thrilled, because that meant he could "borrow" the cars and other toys that didn't make the "hot item" list.  
 WE LOVE YOU WITH ALL OF OUR HEARTS, LUKE!  
Happy Birthday :)


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Feliz Thanksgiving!

Doesn't quite have the same ring to it, does it?!   I wasn't really feeling it.  Didn't I say that for Halloween too?  What's wrong with me?  But let's be honest.  Kate still had to go to school today (and she'll go again tomorrow) and Joe left for a business trip yesterday and will be gone through Saturday.  They don't cut down Christmas trees here (something we do every Thanksgiving holiday weekend)  so, how can I get excited?  I love turning on the parade in the morning and smelling that crisp autumn air while I cook.  I still cooked, but it didn't quite have the same feel.  Was really missing everyone at home, WISHING we could be there to celebrate with you.

THANKFULLY, 
I have made some wonderful friends with some gringas down here :)  
They are the most supportive, loving, helpful girls, and they know how important it is to have a family when your own isn't around.  Especially in a strange country. So... we get together :)  Tonight we all gratefully celebrated at the Hamilton's home and it was so nice to feel that support system.  The delicious food was overflowing and so was the fun.

 Drew and Kate go to church together and are in the same class at school.  Grateful for that friendship.  Kate reported proudly one day that they were the tallest kids in their class.  Is anyone surprised?  
 The Schick's and Caudle's
 Mark and Laura Hamilton--the turkey geniuses.  I don't know how they did it.  The ovens down here are TINY and don't cook evenly.  You should have seen the bundt cake I pulled out mine!  Beautiful on one side and sunken in on the other.  So, to cook 3 turkeys and have them taste the way they did, I was impressed!!!
 Small, small world.  So, as soon as we found out we were coming down here, Aunt Kathy sent me a picture of a cute family who she is good friends with, who live here.  I had no idea how I'd even attempt to look this family up...and the hectic beginnings of moving here took over when we arrived, so I forgot about them.  Little did I know, that all I would have to do is show up for Thanksgiving dinner, and the Simon's would be there.  Love it.  So excited to get to know them!
 Where the wild things are ;)
 He must have inherited his gusto for eating from me!
 Favorite past time during the evening?  Dropping tiny toys from the balcony... nice. 
 Just glad no one got hit!

Gringas:  Melissa Caudle, Keri Hedquist, me, Tammy Schick, Kristy Miller, Laura Smith, Laura Hamilton, Elizabeth Lambert.  

Thanks girls for planning a wonderful evening!  GREAT to be together.  I needed it tonight :)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Shadow

Luke loves the boys in this house.  Loves them.  Because he gets to be around Jake all day, he follows him everywhere and copies everything Jake does.  
If Jake thinks he's funny with his popsicle in the bath, guess who else thinks he is too?  
 (I know-- real flattering picture)
If Jake decides he doesn't want to sit on the bench while we wait for Kate at swim team, Luke follows suit and goes and sits on the steps right next to him.  
 If Jake is in a mood (which has been quite regular lately!) and wants to whine and complain, well, Luke will at least join him to have a little company :)  
 Being with Dad is the most extra special treat of them all.  Luke doesn't get to see him too much during the week, so Saturday morning French Toast making is the BEST!
Let's hope he doesn't try and shadow this look:
 I came outside to check on everyone yesterday and found Jake like this.  He had cut one of our plastic bouncy balls in half because it had a hole, and decided it would make the perfect helmet.  Oh, I was laughing so hard inside.  I just couldn't help it.  HE IS SO CUTE.  The kid is something else.  I have yet to figure out how his brain works, but I hope I don't get frustrated too much with the constant inventions and projects that I squash his ingenuity!  
 You rock, Jake.  Just don't sit down at the dinner table and look at the beautifully, yummy salad I have made and moan and say, "Really, Mom!  You didn't even make a burrito?!"  After multiple attempts to have him eat something on his plate, he went to bed hungry.  Remember-- you have a shadow watching every move you make :)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Kermess





 Kermess.  I still don't know exactly what the word means, but we went to it this last Saturday--a HUGE festival that Nido de Aguilas puts on every year.  I figured we'd drop in a stay for an hour or so.  Little did I know what we had in store for us!  There were tons of booths on the campus, each with a different countries flag.  Every child attending Nido had his or her country represented at the festival and each booth had yummy food to try.  Different performances were going on the entire day...chinese dragon dancing, hula, mariachi bands... you name it... it was there.  Then we peeked down the hill and saw all of the FUN 
STUFF :)  The kids almost had heart attacks.  I wasn't expecting anything but food :)

 There was a zip line
 Jake was pumped-- it was his first time


Pretty high up for a little dude
 Trampolines, bounce houses and inflatable games...and then there were tons of booths with different activities.  One being....getting a fake cast.  It cracked me up because while we were waiting for the zip line, I kept seeing random kids with broken wrists.  WHAT IS GOING ON AT NIDO?  I'm thinking.  Then I see three girlfriends all talking and laughing together, all with casts.  That can't be a coincidence.  So I asked them.  "Oh, they aren't real.  You get get them put on down at one of the booths."  OHHHHHHHHHHH.  I automatically had a flash back to 5th grade--unbending paperclips and putting them in our mouths, pretending we had retainers.  I guess this is kinda similar... Kate thought this was the coolest thing ever.  So we waited in line for almost an hour.  Worse than Disneyland!  It was crazy.  
She and Jake were pumped though.  
 Showing off the pain...we went to our Primary Program practice right afterwards, and everyone wondered how in the world they both broke the same left wrist.  They were eating it up :)  
Jake liked the cotton candy.  So did I.  Like the faux hawk?  He got a haircut that morning and that's how he came home :)  It was a FUN day! 
 I think we'll make sure we get this one on the calendar for next year as well :)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Humbled

I was invited to a baby shower for a woman at church this last week.  I didn't know who she was, only that her family was very poor.  She has 3 children and was pregnant with twins, but one of the babies died.  She would be delivering both babies in one month, and this shower would be to celebrate the healthy baby girl.  
I found out when I got there, that her family was renting a storage unit and had turned it into their home.  Just this last week, the family who owned the unit, decided they wanted it back for storage, so they were being kicked out.  They were able to find another place, and with the help of church members, move their things into another "home", but it didn't even have a working bathroom.  
It broke my heart. 

I know that we live in a beautiful bubble in the nicest part of the city.  I am aware that most of the families we go to church with live in circumstances such as this woman.  Some just make their homes with materials they can find and when a family member gets married, they simply "add on" to the "unit."  
I came home feeling incredibly grateful for all I have been blessed with.  I sat the kids down and told them about this family, and Kate was horrified.  "Mom, they need to come live with us.  We have plenty of room." 
I felt the same way.

I'm grateful that my kids have an opportunity to experience this so up close and personal.  Hopefully it will instill the habit of being grateful in their little hearts.

Do They Have American Idol in Ghana?

So on the way to school yesterday, Kate announced to Joe that she had only one talent.  "What?!!"  was Joe's response.  "Heavenly Father has given you tons of talents!"  And then he proceeded to name them.  
"Ok, Dad.  But my first talent is singing.  I'm going to sing on American Idol someday."  
The funny thing is that Kate hasn't even watched much of the show-- maybe a couple of episodes--but this needed to be documented, just in case we do get her some singing lessons and she 
achieves this goal of hers ;)

 Anyway, 2 hours later, the boys and I were invited to Kate's music class at school, so we could see what they have been working on.  Let's be honest.  I was invited.  I was the only one to show up with little ninos.  But what was I to do?!  I didn't have anyone I could drop them off with, and I wasn't going to miss this.  Kate really wanted me there.  
So, the class had been studying music from Ghana.  They had the parents sit in a circle with them and they taught us a song as we passed a little shaker around to the beat of the music.  Then the teacher had the students move over to some instruments.  I was in the back, madly trying to keep Luke from banging on the drums and shaking the tambourines, when I heard one voice lead out the group on some chant.  Suddenly I realized that it was Kate!  It was all coming together...why she was so adamant that I be there and why she thought her best talent was singing.   (just turn your head sideways...apparently I didn't video it quite right!)
video
 Here she is with her good friend, Fiona, from Denmark (also toothless in front, but you can't tell)
And here she is in action.  
Way to go, Kate!  I am so proud of you.  Jake asked me to sing the song to him on the way home and I was making up words right and left-- no clue how you were able to remember all of that!!!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

How Do You Know When You're in 2nd Grade?

Any Guesses??  :)

This is Gabriella.  One of Kate's best friends here.  They both came to Chile within a week of each other (Gaby from Peru) and started school the same day in the same classroom.  A few weeks later, we found out we even live in the same complex!  Now that the girls know that walking is an option, they see even more of each other.  I love it.  

Time Trials

I have been waiting to find something at Nido de Aguilas that we can get the kids involved after school that we are really excited about.  Joe and I were talking about the activities we should look into, and we figured we would try to find similar ones that they were participating in back home, so when we come back, they can slide right back into them.
I heard that the school had just opened a new aquatic center last year.  I figured I'd do a little research and find out how their swim team worked.  I got a nice email from the head of the center saying that the swim team is year round and they had time trials back in August, but he'd be happy to have her come down and do an individual time trial.  We arranged for this past Friday right after school.  Kate wasn't too thrilled.  She's freaked out that everyone will only be able to teach her anything in Spanish.  I explained that the coaches had to speak English to be at the school, but she still resisted.  When Friday came, we picked her up and of course it was cold and rainy-- the first one like it in weeks.  She resisted, but walked with us up to the pool anyway.
 Yes, that is a frog prince head, gold crown and all, on Jake's head.  He was adament that he bring it and when I suggested we leave it in the car to "keep it safe" when we went to pick Kate up at school, he gave me this shocked look and said, "No!  It's protecting my ears!"  From the wind, rain and cold?  Maybe... but I have a feeling he had some story going on in his head that day.  

Anyway, by the time Kate finally got in the pool, she was smiling from ear to ear and so was I.  "This pool is WAY warmer than the one back at home, Mom!"  It was beautiful!  I knew we had found something we'd be excited to get involved in.  Spencer, the head of the center, explained to me how the program worked.  It sounded intense.  They have a junior and senior team.  Each one is divided up into the A, B, C, and rest of the alphabet teams :)  The A team is the fastest and always competes in the meets.  The B and C teams are encouraged to swim in the meets and the other teams do not--they swim solely during the week.  

Kate did her 4 laps for the time trial and I thought that would be it.  But he decided to throw her into one of the practices that was going on to see how she'd do.  When the 1 1/2 hours (wow!!!) was over, she hopped out of the pool and walked over to me and said, "Did I make the team?!"  I think she was pumped.  
It was pouring when we got outside.  Of course I didn't bring an umbrella.  Jake kept saying, "Good thing I have my frog hat!" And Kate was happy to put anything over her head (although I didn't think it'd be a big deal, seeing as she was wet anyway!).  
We were 5 minutes from home when my phone "dinged."  I looked at it and found an email from Spencer telling us congratulations, that Kate had made the B team!  Yahoo!  We were so excited!  She'll be practicing on Tuesdays, Thursdays and certain Saturdays, for an hour and a half each time.  That is a long time for those little arms and legs.  I can't wait to see how it goes.  Way to go, Katie Pie!  We are so proud of you!

I had put Jake in a little swim class last week, purely to meet other 4 year olds.  One of the moms told me about it and I thought it'd be a fun thing for him, even though he already knows how to swim.  I took him once, and I didn't realize the instruction was all in Spanish.  The other kids didn't know how to swim yet, but Jake went for it.  He was so excited to be in the water, he was all over the place.  The poor instructor kept telling him patiently, "Venga!  Venga!!"  Come here, come here!  But Jake, knowing no Spanish, was jumping off the side, swimming in the opposite direction and over the lane lines...totally oblivious... oh boy.  I decided after one lesson, this wasn't for him.  I think this Frog needs to be swimming at Nido too, with a little English.  A class opens up right after Christmas :)

Arctic Cat

I love this thing.  Jake was surprised with it for his 4th birthday from Momo and BG.  Trouble was, our yard was too small in Pleasanton for him to "go for it."  He was constantly having to make 20 point turns :)  Since our amount of space has expanded, the car has gotten MUCH more use because he can cruise all over the backyard!  And that is what he does.  That is what THEY do.  The boys.  This is so typical.  Jake looks like a 16 year old, cruising around town, picking up "materials" and throwing them into the back of his truck, and his younger brother is PERFECTLY content to enjoy the ride.  Luke climbs right into the passenger side and has no desire to drive (yet!).  He puts his hands in his lap and smiles the entire time.  I look out back and see their two little heads going back and for on the lawn and it makes me smile inside and out.  

Nana

Nana to me is my sweet grandma who lived 2 minutes away from me when I was growing up.  She is the one whose recipe I'll be using to make my own Spaghetti sauce down here, because the stuff we had tonight made me nauseous.  I think I'm turning into some crazy pioneer lady because I'm realizing they don't have a lot of "convenience" foods.  Everyone just makes things from scratch.  Better for us, right?  Maybe I'll even lose a few pounds while I'm at it, because it'll take so long to make everything, I won't be eating round the clock!  I can dream...
Anyway, as soon as we got here, people started talking about "Nana's."  I quickly learned that they aren't grandma's-- they are maids.  Some people have Nanas that live with them, some have one that comes 5 days a week, some Chileans even have 3!  One to do the cooking, one to take care of cleaning the house, and one to take care of the kids.  Wow.  I thought it was silly...I don't need one of those-- Kate will be going to school, which just leaves me to teach Jake--that'll give me a TON more time than I ever had before.  But we quickly found out that Joe would be working PLENTY and if I ever needed anyone to watch the kids for me, so I could go help at school or go to appointments or if I needed someone to help me when maintenance people came to the house, it would be nice. (Service people NEVER come when they say they are going to.  So if they happen to show up while I'm off to pick Kate up from school, I'm out of luck until they feel like showing up again.)  
We decided to try and find a Nana for 2 days a week.  I figured that was plenty.  We found a WONDERFUL woman named Sandra and she comes on Mondays and Thursdays.  She helps me with my cleaning and ironing (YEAH!!!!!!!!  Joe's shirts have never looked better) and I can run errands with Jake when Luke is down for his 3 hour nap because I know someone is there.  DOUBLE YEAH!!!!!!!!!  I hate waking up the babe.  
I also get to practice my Spanish all day when she's here because she doesn't speak any English.  

We had a classic moment this week.  I was getting ready for my Spanish tutor to come over (doing some last minute homework), Luke was sleeping and Jake was showing Sandra one of his famous "pwojects."  He was going on and on in English about what it was and what it could do.  
Sandra said something back to him in Spanish.  He looked at her and just laughed and exclaimed, "I have no idea what you're saying."  

Almost peed my pants.  Wish I would say that once in a while.  

Some Days are Just Rough

For the most part, I'd say our transition has been relatively smooth.  I really don't feel like it's been this horrific adjustment for all of us.  Sure there are things we miss-- ready to add a few more differences down here?
1.  No garbage disposals
2.  No screens on any window or door (dust is unreal)
3.  I can't pump my own gas
4.  Toys/jewelry being swiped at church (2 different times)
5.  No Fritos, brown sugar, chocolate chips, jello pudding, cake mixes...
     or GOOD SPAGHETTI SAUCE
6.  Soda and candy is the weekly "snack" at church in nursery
7.  Prices for any service get jacked up as soon as they know
     what barrio you live in

Anyway, last Monday I woke up with a total mental block.  I couldn't understand anyone's Spanish and I didn't want to.  I wanted to throw out a joke here and there while I was out and about to see someone smile, and I'm just not quite good enough to casually throw cute comments around.  Frustrating.  I was sick of digging up soggy cereal squares mixed with oatmeal out of the sink and tired of the dirty, dusty floors. Nothing huge.  It seems as if Jake woke up on the same side of the bed, because he was moody.  Kate came home from school and told me about a little misunderstanding one of the girls had with her at school, and she started bawling saying, "I just want to play with Gracie or Elise or Reagan...you know, my normal friends..." She wrote a story for homework all about a girl who was looking for a friend for a month and couldn't find one.  It absolutely tore me apart.  

Jake finally looked at me and said, "Mom, how many more days are we going to be here?"  

I laughed as I tried to do some quick mental multiplication.  Decided to give up on that and give them hugs instead.  

"A few more, Jake.  A few more."   

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Felt Like Home... Almost

The day after our hike, we decided to check out the coast.  One of the most popular spots, Valparaiso, we heard would be ridiculously busy, so we opted to head North to the water instead.  On our way, Joe and I said at almost the exact same moment, "I feel like we're driving through Half Moon Bay and down
Highway 1!"  It was great!!!  We kept hearing that Chile resembled California quite a bit, 
but now we were seeing why.  
 First, we stopped in Maitencillo and checked out the sand (too cold to dive in) and 
had some yummy empanadas.

 We found the perfect little beach that had TONS of big shells.  The kids were in HEAVEN.

 Miss you guys sooooo much!


 Doesn't the rocky shore look just like NorCal?!
 We took a break from our intense shell collecting excursion to have lunch at Puntamai, a great place right on the water.  Typical Berryhill excited about his food: 



 He can't say much yet, but sure has plenty of facials to explain exactly how he feels.

Check out the hair on these roofs!!  It must be the thing here, because we saw it everywhere!

 We drove north just as the sun was going down.  I'm so glad we did, because we discovered Zapallar.  We'll be coming back.  It was unbelievable.  



Perfect day with my family.  I felt completely renewed on our drive home. Discovering new places and new things...it does something to me.  Can't wait for our next long weekend :)