Wednesday, December 31, 2008

He made the right decision!

Flavius (the cat) did that is...

We really didn't know how he was going to do when Maximo was born since he had been our baby for three years, being doted on by us and Rosmery almost twenty-four hours a day. (One day I came home from work to find Rosmery sweeping with Flavius zipped up in her fleece jacket that she was wearing!) We found him in a park, about three months after we moved to Peru, covered in fleas and smelling of car exhaust, but cute nonetheless. We thought he was about four or five months old, but the vet claimed he was a malnourished two year old.

Flavius has been super sweet with Maximo and constantly wants to be around him. He'll cry outside the door if we close him out of the living room when Maximo is romping around. After constant tail-pulling, head-butting, and a twenty-five pound body being laid across him, he'll still walk over to Max. He will often plop right down beside him and he has on a few occasions woken him up by going into his room and meowing. He's had to tell Max who's boss a few times, but with nothing more than a gentle nibble on Max's hand, even when Max is relentlessly causing harm.

The bond that these two have (and of course we have with Flavius) is giving me the motivation to go through all the steps to get him out of Peru and into Japan. Today I started this 8 (I hope) month process by getting a microchip implanted in his neck and a rabies vaccine. In 31 days, we go for round two, and then, and then, and then. If you really have time to spare, check out the process (I love the pictorial to help you understand the process).

What cracks me up as I flip through the twenty pieces of paper I printed off this morning is this (it's the header to one of the forms):
I really want to know who is bringing a fox, raccoon or skunk into Japan. It must be at least semi-common for them to put it on an official document.

There's a 180 waiting period after Flavius gets his last vaccination and we get his blood drawn and sent to a lab in the states to test for the antibodies. We're really cutting it close with when we'd like to get him to Japan around the second week of August. We haven't hashed out all the details. He will not be able to come to the States with us when we visit in July (because he can't re-enter another country during the 180-day "at home quarantine") and we'll be totally moved out of our house here with new people moving in, so hopefully Rosmery will be able to help us out or one of our dear colleagues. It stresses me out a bit, but I'm sure it'll all work out... I hope!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Reason I Became a Teacher

We slept in today, all the way to 6:00 am. After our morning milk and coffee routine, Maximo and I went for a leisurely stroll in the neighborhood. We stopped by a neighborhood bakery for some croissants that had the perfect balance of buttery-ness and sweetness. We then meandered around Miraflores nibbling on our goodies while looking at the flowers and, of course, finding every neighborhood dog. It was perfect.

What's fantastic about living in another country, is that there's always something to explore. Going to the grocery store or the market is always an adventure. Maybe we were just lazy when we lived in the States, maybe I never really lived in an urban area where everything I needed was within walking distance. I love roaming around scouting out new cafes, restaurants and stores.

Luckily, I also enjoy my job a lot - I love being a teacher and being around funny, awkward, loving middle school kids and the opportunities we have been given since we started teaching internationally have been amazing.

But really, who am I kidding, having summers off, is the best!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Walking in the Footsteps of the Incas

Yesterday we had a long, yet wonderful day at Machu Picchu. In the morning, we left the hotel at 6:00 am, took at private shuttle to the train station (1 hour and 30 minutes), then got on the train to Machu Picchu (another hour and a half), then took a twenty minute shuttle to the top of Machu Picchu.

We spent about four hours, including an indulgent lunch at the Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge, at Machu Picchu. After our tour, Max, Gloria, Terie and I meandered around a little bit, then had lunch while the rest of the crew hiked Huayna Picchu (the peak that you see in all the photos of Machu Picchu).

Later, we hung out at the train station in Aguas Calientes while everyone returned from the hike and then took the 6:00 pm train home, followed by an hour and a half shuttle back to the hotel.

Needless to say, it was a long day, but the sun came out for a couple of hours, and it wasn't too busy at Machu Picchu so we don't have a bunch of dots in our photos of hundreds of tourists in brightly colored ponchos.

Check out our photos from our trip, here.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve 2008

John and a tired Maximo walking through the marketplace.

We made it to Cusco yesterday quite easily. The sun was shining and we were ready to start our vacation. We walked around the markets and had a little lunch. We met up with a "few" colleagues who are also in town to make plans to go to Machu Picchu tomorrow. It's going to be a long day for Maximo, but I can't wait to go! This will be more fourth time, and it's just as exciting! I hope since it'll be my last time, for a while, if not ever, that we get a little sunshine so I can get some great pictures.
Our hotel, Hotel Marqueses, with a beautiful open courtyard.

We decided to stay in Cusco today because as in most Latin American countries, Christmas Eve is more celebrated than Christmas itself. There's a huge market they're setting up in the Plaza de Armas right now where hundreds of artisans from the surrounding mountains and from the Sacred Valley come into town to sell their wares.

It's drizzling right now and once Max wakes up from his morning nap we'll venture out to see the sights. He seems to be handling the altitude well, which is a relief. Between that and his cutting teeth, we're surprised he's not a screaming mess.

A very overtired little boy yesterday, just before bed, with all his soothing items - his monkey, some milk and his Little Einsteins' World Animals video.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Maximo - 15 months

Max playing with the goodies from the Christmas box from Nana.

Just an update on Maximo... He's changing so fast!

He is walking like crazy now, actually preferring to walk rather than crawl (this only started happening about a week or two ago, before he was still faster on all fours). He's not running yet, like his little friend, Kate, but he's getting better every time he chases after her!

He's really starting to say words and his babble sounds more like an actual language... In English, he can now say, "cat", "tick-tock", "hot", and "cheese". He's repeating more and more from us. I know he's saying things in Spanish, though I don't know the depth of his vocabulary. I have heard him say, "nana" (which is a generalized term for nannies here, thankfully his grandmother's name too!), and "cayo" (it fell). His understanding of Spanish is much better than his understanding of English, but he does understand a lot, like bringing things to us, come here, etc.. Still no real "mama" and "dadda" directed at us, though lots of babblings of them. But, yesterday in the car he yelled "dadda" to try to get John's attention... we think.

He's eating like a champ sometimes and a bird other times, though he eats at least one HUGE meal a day, usually either lunch or dinner. His favorites lately are: broccoli, black beans, chicken, cheese, watermelon, John's soggy cereal, and bagels.

His mouth his an enormously swollen, drooly mess. He has eight teeth up front and is cutting 4 molars in the back - two top, two bottom. He's doing pretty well with that, considering.

He STILL has diarrhea. Though now we think the virus has passed and now it's just from the teething. (We hope it is anyways!) This is now week two with diarrhea... (ughh) If he still has it when we come back from Cusco, we'll do another stool sample. It's just a big stinkin' mess!

And a few of Maximo's current bad habits: jamming his finger in his nose (yuck!), opening up everything he can - cabinets, and the worst... the toilet, pitching a FIT when he doesn't get what he wants in a timely fashion.

Speaking of which, we've rescheduled our flights and are leaving for Cusco tomorrow. Hopefully the weather won't prevent us from going this time. We plan to go to Machu Picchu on Christmas Eve. I hope this works out more so for Rosmery and Gloria (our maid and nanny) because this is our Christmas/going away gift to them and they really want to go. Unfortunately, traveling to Machu Picchu is pretty expensive for most Peruvians, so many will never, ever get to see it. I do feel a bit funny traveling with them because it looks like we need an army to take care of our little toddler.

Hopefully, I'll be writing from Cusco (the navel of the world, as the Incas' called it) with the next post.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Trip Thwarted

When it's beautiful in Lima, the weather is horrible in the rest of the country. This morning our flight was canceled, as were all flights into Cusco. Tomorrow all the flights are booked, so we're hoping for Monday or Tuesday. John now can't do the Inca Trail because his permit to hike the trail was only for Sunday through Thursday and the Inca Trail is now heavily regulated. He could, however, jump on a bus for 14 hours to arrive there just in time to start the hike (at 3500 meters) - I doubt that'll happen.

Hopefully, we'll leave by Tuesday and spend a few nights in Cusco to celebrate Christmas as a family. Actually, now we can relax and unwind a bit from our long semester. We'll keep you posted.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Beginning of Summer #1

Even though I hate many things about our current school calendar, I do love the fact that I live in a world where I can enjoy two summers. Today was our last day of kids and now we have begun our two month summer vacation.

Tomorrow we're off to Cusco, Peru and Machu Picchu. Maximo and I (and a gang) will be hanging out in the Sacred Valley, in my favorite town of Ollantaytambo, Peru for three days, then we'll head back to Cusco for three days. On Christmas Eve, we'll take the train to meet John at Machu Picchu. He's hiking the Inca Trail and we're going to meet his dirty, stinky-self after his four day hike, then return to Cusco together by train.

It should be fun, though it's always a little bit stressful traveling with a kid - the milk, the diapers, the entertainment. And, I'm a bit worried about Maximo and the altitude, Ollantaytambo being 2792 meters (9, 160 feet) and Cucso at 11,600 feet. This is why we're taking a taxi out of Cusco as soon as we arrive to go down to the Sacred Valley, so we can semi-acclimatize.

I'm bringing a computer, so hopefully I'll be able to post pictures of our journey to the heart of Maximo's birthplace.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Few Seconds of Fame

Recruiting for International Schools, as I mentioned before, is an interesting process. One which begins at least 8-10 months before you are ever planning to move to your new locale. Part of this is due to the fact that it does take a while for the schools to get work visas, apartments, and everything else in line before we arrive. Many administrators are now interviewing before in the infamous job fairs because it takes the pressure off when it comes to the job fair and for our school at least, they may be able to enjoy a little bit of their summer vacation rather than traveling the world going to job fairs recruiting the best teachers.

One of the newest marketing tools for schools is to create a recruiting video. You'll find them on many schools' websites to lure new teachers to the schools. We were asked to be a part of Roosevelt video, mostly because we can represent "the family" (teaching couple with a kid) and the ease and enjoyment of our life here, but I really think, most importantly, it's because we have a B.A. house!

Check out the You Tube video. John just stumbled upon it recently. I don't know if/when they're going to post it on the school's website. But you get to see Los Lemleys, though never head-on, and shots of the house we'll miss dearly next year!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Was I Really This Young?

No, younger! I was ten years old when I started "working" as a mother's helper for a lady down the street. She had a little boy, Adam, and I would go over and watch him while she working in the garden or did other things around the house. I think I started babysitting soon after - middle school maybe? I was a mature kid and pretty responsible, but WHAT WERE THESE PEOPLE THINKING?!

Yesterday, four of my former students and softball stars came over to babysit. They are now in 9th grade and have been begging to come babysit. We have been trying to find a date for months, finally we settled on a date: Sunday from 3-5pm. They are very responsible girls whom I care for dearly.

When Maximo was in the hospital, they came up to the NICU and surprised me with hot chocolate (no caffeine because they knew I was breastfeeding) and a chocolate chip cookie from Starbucks. They brought little balloons and stuffed animals for Maximo. I had stepped out of the NICU to get a breather and post a blog, I think, and found them roaming around the hospital looking for me.

They also came to the house one night after he was born to bring me/him gifts. This was before the hospital visit (they were determined). It was a rough day, so I hid in the bedroom while John took their gifts. All they wanted to do was to congratulate me and see the baby. They are very, very sweet; I'm glad they couldn't fathom what I was going through at the time. Maybe they did, and wanted to give me a distraction, because with the four of them together, that's exactly what they are - a giggly group of teenage girls.

So, today, they got dropped off at 3:00. Max had just woken up from his nap. He was being pretty clingy to me and acting shy and wouldn't really even walk in front of the girls, so I suggested that they take him to the park. The park is only a block away, and I made them promise to be SUPER careful crossing the street. I was nervous, but I knew I had to do it! Ten minutes later, the doorbell rang...

Oh no, I thought.

It was two of the girls wanting to know if I had a camera they could use. Sure...

Maximo came back with all his fingers and toes an hour later, though still perplexed by the gaggle of girls swarming around him. And lucky for me, I have pictures for evidence to see how their stroll went. At least there were four of them, so they could take turns, sunbathing and talking on their cellphones (ha!). They said he was a bit fussy in the park, which surprised me, because normally he's great and is only fussy when he leaves the park. After looking at these pictures, I think I know why... he was strapped in his stroller for most of the time, and couldn't run around with the other kiddos and all the dogs and most importantly, get dirty!It was actually great, because I got a few essays graded that need to be done by Tuesday!

This is as far as these dresses made it

out of my closet en route to the FDR Christmas party. I got two out of the closet in hopes that the wrinkles would shake out. I really wanted to buy a new dress for the party because I don't get dressed up very often and dresses are relatively cheap here, but, thankfully, I didn't splurge. Really, I didn't have time to.

Thursday afternoon I went home early from school because my gut was killing me! I was having excruciating pains in my stomach and I was holding on by a thread. Max had diarrhea since Monday (yes, two days after he semi-recovered from his respiratory infection). We were bringing him back to the doctor to for him to check Max's lungs. He said they sounded great, and luckily as if on cue, Max blew his diaper out. Really, like use all the wipes in your bag, and thank God you have a change of clothes type of poo.

The doctor suggested we send the nasty diaper, err, sample to the GastroLab. They came by our house about an hour later to pick up the "sample". The next day, I got an email with the results, then spoke to the doctor. He has(d) a virus. That's what I think I had too. So, I went to school on Friday, feeling better, but I hadn't eaten anything in 24 hours for my stomach to revolt. Since I was feeling better, I ate something for lunch and dinner, then I felt awful again Friday evening, going to sleep at 7:00 pm. Saturday, I took my NJHS kids to a Community Service project where I was barely hanging on, thinking I could throw up at any minute. John picked me up from school when I made the proclamation, "I can't go to the Christmas party tonight." The thought of talking with a lot of people, steaks, wine, and pisco sours was making my head spin even more. I came home, slept, and felt a little better, thinking maybe we'd at least keep the nanny and run out a do a little shopping. At 3:30, John started vomiting (and that wasn't all). So, I canceled the nanny and we hung out at home, both in bed by 7:30.

Today, we're feeling a little more human. If Max was feeling the way we were on Saturday, while he endured five days of diarrhea, I don't know how he did it. He was a pretty happy camper the whole time, except when he woke up in the middle of the night because he soiled himself.

Now, hopefully we can get through our last week of school and our little Christmas trip to Machu Picchu and Cusco, with our health and minimal stress, then we can relax for two months.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

People My People

People, my people, if you elect me president there will be milk and Cheerios for everyone! There will be more puppies and cats to play with, more rocks to throw and many, many more playgrounds. Every neighborhood would have their own pool and beach for us to romp around in everyday. Babies will rule! And I will supply all the chicken, pizza, watermelon and french fries you could eat!

And a few cute pictures from tonight's bath:

Sunday, December 07, 2008

A Trip to The Barber Shop

Exhibit A:
Maximo lounging this morning eating his Cheerios with pretty unruly hair.

Exhibits B & C:
The Children's Only Hair Salon(?) in the mall. It was a zoo, seriously - there were monkeys hanging from the ceilings and the place probably saw at least twenty kids while we were there (between waiting and getting the cut) for 25 minutes. I don't know if these places exist in the states or elsewhere, but all the seats are cars or toys and they had a huge stock of other toys that they flipped through the kids' hands every three minutes or so to keep them content. They even had two stations for older kids that had a gaming system hooked up to it. Really if your seven year old can't sit still for ten minutes to get his/her haircut, you've got problems. Unfortunately for Maximo, all the cool chairs - the dump truck and military jeep were filled when it was our turn. I for sure thought that he was going into the pink Barbie car, but instead, he got put into the baby Exersaucer that he had to stand up in the whole time because he was too big for it. He really didn't seem to mind, he fittled with the toys and ate a cracker and was pretty calm through the whole ordeal. What amazed me the most was that all the hairdressers/barbers/stylists, whatever they're called, were men except for one. Could you imagine cutting candy-bribed kids hair all day? For one, when the guy was trying to cut hair anywhere near Maximo's face, he kept moving his head. This guy was a saint with a ton of patience.

And now, Exhibit D: ¡Que Guapo!I know they'll grow back, but oh, the curls are gone. He still has a lot of wave. The haircut was a good one, no parts were scalped and he left with both ears intact.

And lastly, here's a picture of Maximo in the park. Maybe one of the only seconds he actually forgot the hat was on his head and wasn't trying to tear it off. He seems like he's turned the corner with his infection. He still sounds like a seal when he coughs, but he's doing it a lot less frequently. Today we went to the park for the first time in two days, I think the longest he's gone since maybe five months. He was tired of doing laps around the house. Today, we had our happy, smiling kid back which was nice. Earlier in the week I really thought he was going to be an only child!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

The (Lack of) Holiday Spirit

As you can see, the blog has gotten a little sprinkling of holiday cheer. This is more for what I can say about our house. I love this time of year, but it seems everything is working against me to get that cheer and warmth into my own life right now.

I know we've created this situation a bit ourselves. We've traveled twice in the past two weeks, I've coordinated two major events at school, and it's the end of the semester. The last month of school is horrendous! At school alone, the calendar is filled with social events, preparing summative assessments (and then grading them, ughhh), assemblies, and then cleaning and organizing my room for summer break.

On to this summer break business, while I love warm weather and am excited about the upcoming beach season and the fact that I'll have two months off and we'll have two "summer" vacations (Jan. & Feb. in Peru and July in the U.S.) again this year, it is REALLY hard to celebrate Christmas when you're walking around in short sleeved shirts and can't even think about consuming hot chocolate or even my beloved Starbucks' Peppermint Mocha. Our neighbors have their Christmas lights on their houses and the stores are brimming with flashy displays and are booming holiday music, but it just doesn't seem genuine to me. I grew up with a Norman Rockwell New England Christmas with fantastic traditions that I shared with my parents and siblings. Christmas for me means, cold air, hopefully snow, big wool sweaters and opening our presents next to the woodstove.

Well, this year, at Los Lemleys, things are a bit different. The only visible sign of Christmas in our house is the Little People Musical Christmas set that Nana sent, set up in the living room (and the pumpkins from Halloween). We are all suffering from colds with Maximo fighting off the worst - a viral infection in his chest which brought us to the doctor on Thursday night and now he is on steroids for a few days to help with the inflammation as well as an inhaler to help with his wheezing.

I've been waiting all week to sit on this couch and do nothing. Hopefully by getting the blog decorated for the holidays it will get me motivated so tomorrow, I'll wake up, refreshed, throw on the Christmas music, and we'll put up the tree and the stockings, even if it will be done in short-sleeves.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Some Reasons We Chose Japan...

  • We get to live in Asia (an area of the world neither of us have explored)
  • Sushi - daily, maybe for every meal
  • Our dear, dear friends live there
  • Maximo gets to grow up with our dear, dear friends' kids
  • Seasons - especially autumn leaves and cherry blossoms in the spring
  • Purchasing a bike with a basket on the front and a seat on the back for Max
  • Max will start school in August '09 and come to school with us everyday
  • We will be able to furnish our apartment from the local IKEA
  • We can actually order English literature through
  • Learning about Japanese culture and history - something we know very little about
  • Cleanliness and order
  • We won't have to own a car
  • Great public transportation throughout the country
  • Being back on a normal northern hemisphere school year
And there are probably many other things we don't even know about yet that we'll love...

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

¡Vamos a Japon!

We've officially just accepted positions at the Canadian Academy of Kobe. We are very excited at our opportunity, and now just have to wait 8 months to start! So, the next eight months will be filled with filling out proper paperwork and sending documentation to Japan to obtain our visas, getting medical exams for us, Maximo and the cat, purging some of our belongings, shipping the rest to Kobe... this seems like a short, succinct list, but I'm sure the process will be a bit overwhelming at times, especially leaving Peru which holds such a special place in our hearts.

I will be teaching fifth grade, which I'm very excited about after teaching middle school for 7 years and John will be teaching IB English in the high school. Maximo will be starting school next year, since CA has an EC (Early Childhood) - 2 program. So, we'll all be going to the same place in the morning and Maximo's classroom will be just down the hall from me. How exciting!

We'll keep you posted on the process. Now we just have to get through the stressful part of the semester - the last three weeks with essays and projects to grade, grades to enter for report cards, classrooms to breakdown for summer cleaning, then we're off to Cusco for Christmas!

Monday, December 01, 2008


While most Americans automatically think drug cartel, kidnappings and terrorism when they hear the word "Columbia", our weekend in Cartagena was everything but.
At La Popa (not the Pope) the "stern" shaped hill overlooking the city

Max dangerously close to a drop - all for a good picture (that wasn't that good)

The view from our hotel

Los Lemley Boys on the top of the Wall

Cartagena is located in the northern part of Columbia on the Caribbean Sea. Our hotel was located in an area of town called Bocagrande and we stayed there most of the time except when we ventured into the historic walled city. Cartagena is a great balance of gorgeous stonework and colonial architecture alongside beautiful beachfront. The weather was warm, okay, very warm, which made our little red cheeked babe a bit ornery at times, but he did great. Once you stepped out of the hotel, there was a decent ocean breeze, but it was quite steamy there. Definitely, perfect vacation weather. We meandered around town in our flipflops and summer clothes all weekend.

The food was amazing. Our hotel had an amazing spread in the mornings, so much so, that we decided to eat there for two of our lunches - for the convenience of being close by at nap time, but also because the food was fantastic! Which it should have been since lunch cost us each about $30. There was great fish, different breads, potato dishes and interesting empanadas - like a cheese, ham and pineapple one - yumm! Maximo ate fish three out of the four days and truly devoured it! There was a great pizza place across from our hotel, which we went to twice because it was so good and kid friendly. I ordered the same thing twice, and now I need to duplicate it here because I can't stop thinking about it - a pizza topped with ham, arugula, mushrooms and blue cheese... I am salivating as I type the ingredients! We also went to a great little shack on the side of the beach one day that was recommended called Kiosko El Bony - which was run by a famous Columbian boxer, Bonifacio Avila (he was actually there, probably in his sixties now, but in great shape!). It was so good - Max and I shared a fried fish with plantains and coconut rice while John ate shrimp and rice. Despite the heat and sometimes crushing humidity, everywhere we went served soup and most Colombians had soup with their lunch. They looked delicious, but I couldn't go near a soup in that heat.

We found the Colombian people very hospitable and genuine. I actually felt safer there than I do in Peru (not that I feel unsafe here, I just didn't worry about my handbag, etc. when we were out to eat). Surpisingly, Colombia is maybe even more baby friendly than Peru! Our waitresses and acquaintances doted on Maximo and claimed that he like the "morenas" as he flirted with them every time they walked by us. We were always ushered past long lines just because we had a little boy in our arms. After a long day of travel with a little kid, it definitely makes a difference. I wish all countries had the same law as most South American countries do - which has preferential lines for elderly, preggos and people with kiddos in ALL public places, ahhhhh.

I could write a lot more, but after a long, horrendous travel day (I may post more on this later, when we're ready to laugh about it), I feel this isn't that well written and I'm not going to drag it out. I just wanted to share our travels and let our moms you all know we made it back in one piece.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

While many of you were eating turkey around a table with your loved ones, we were enjoying the sights of Cartagena, Columbia. After a long travel day yesterday, we arrived at our hotel at about midnight Wednesday night. We had our family record for sleeping in at 7:30! After, we had a fantastic breakfast in the hotel, then Max went down for a two hour nap. We then strolled around the historic district for a while.

This will probably be our only post while we're here because wireless in our room IS VERY EXPENSIVE! We were going to upload a few pictures, but the computer keeps freezing when we try to upload the photos, so you'll have to wait until Sunday night (if we get in on time).

So, in short. Cartagena is beautiful - nice beaches, a gorgeous walled city and the food is great!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Interviewing in my Barefeet

It's 7:57 am, John has taken Maximo out for a walk and I'm suddenly feeling anxious. I have a follow-up interview with the middle school principal and assistant principal of a school that John and I interviewed with together two weeks ago. Then it's 8:05 and I think, oh, no, I hope I didn't miss my interview because I didn't correctly figure out the time change. I send the principal a message that I'm ready, he says he's running a little late, and he'll be with me in a minute. I pace the room a few more times and pick up Maximo's toys, not that they can see them. Then the fated ring of the Skype call. I accept the call and the interview begins...

The wonders of technology are allowing us to interview half way around the world from our living room. Skype is a wonderful, wonderful thing that allows us to keep in touch with our family and friends, especially for Maximo to regularly see grandmas, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Currently, it is also allowing us to interview for jobs. Through Skype, interviews feel a little less intimidating, though I often find myself walking the line with keeping it fairly formal and professional, even though on the other side of my laptop is a sea of Maximo's toys.

The funniest thing is actually preparing for the interview. I would normally wear one of my suits for an interview, so I keep with my tradition, as though it's my lucky game day uniform. The good thing is that you only have to look good from the waist up, so I decide on jeans for the bottoms, and a shirt and my suit jacket. I then check how I look on my video camera and realize my gray suit with a black shirt looks a bit blah, so I change for a green v-neck and my tan suit jacket. So, I'm ready to go. Thankfully, Skype only transmits sight and sound, because I forgot to brush my teeth and my morning breath combined with the cup of coffee I downed before the interview would have probably cut our conversation short. I think the worst thing about a Skype interview is that you have to look at yourself the whole time you're talking to the other person - so you can see yourself figiting, that hair out of place, the crooked picture hanging behind your head.

The interview went well. Though much of this process a big game of positions available, other applicants and time. We are trying to procure jobs early, so we don't have to go to a job fair in February. By accepting jobs in the next few weeks, which we'd like to do, we are closing the doors on many schools who only recruit via job fairs or have a late date for their teachers to give their intentions. Luckily, we have two promising leads now. We have an interview with the other school on Tuesday night and we hope to have jobs by the first week or so in December.

School search second clue: Both countries are five-letter words with two As.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


A Perfect, Extended, Chill weekend...

We went about sixty kilometers south of Lima for a beach weekend. We stayed at one of my colleague's beach house, with another family. The location is great for kids - a functional apartment right on a low-key beach with small waves (which is hard to find in Peru). The weather was overcast in the mornings, but got quite sunny in the afternoons.

Maximo had a GREAT time. He was walking all over the place and was gung-ho about going into the ocean which was fa-fa-fa-freezing cold. John and I took turns standing in the wake with him, after about two minutes the pain from the cold eased into numbness, which made it more tolerable.

As you can see in the first pictures, the weather was a bit crummy when we first got there and the water was excruciatingly cold, so I didn't put Maximo in his swim clothes, assuming that he wouldn't charge for the ocean. He was sandy and soaked within minutes; the rest of the weekend, he pretty much stayed in them!

Here are some of my favorite pictures of the weekend:

What is APEC?
We had a long weekend holiday from school due to the Asia-Pacific Economic Convention being hosted in Lima. There are 41 dignitaries in the city right now, including G.W., to discuss trade and whatever else presidents talk about.)

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Normally it's Maximo who's the overtired, overstimulated one. The past two weeks it has been me. This month, which is flying by, has been an exciting one. I've been crashing and going to bed anywhere between 9:00 and 9:30 pm, but have been waking up anywhere between 3:30 and 5:00 am. If I wake up - to use the bathroom, because a car alarm goes off, whatever, my mind then starts racing about...
  • Recruiting (which I'll save for another post - as of right now, we're looking at 2 (hopefully 3) exciting leads... the two more promising leads are in cities whose names are four letter words - that's your only clue right now.
  • Has Celia posted yet? Our friends are adopting from Russia. I'm walking that fine line between being excited for them and stalking them via their blog.
  • PP - I had a BIG exhibition night at our school on Tuesday night - MYP Personal Project Exhibition Night in which I am the coordinator. It was the first year our tenth graders created these end of program projects. It's been a lot of hardwork since March, but the kids did great and the night was perfect.
All of this on top of the normal hum-drum of being a teacher, parent and planning/going on two vacations this month and one next month (I know, the horror).

Now the Exhibition Night is behind me, so I have to wait until we are offered jobs/accept contracts; Jon and Celia safely have Denis in their home. At this point, I can return to my normal worry-wart stage, which still allows me to sleep 8-10 hours a night - hours in which I need to be human a happy functioning mother, wife, friend, sister, daughter and teacher.

Five Steps to Success

Last Wednesday, we went for our one year (adjusted) assessment with the physiologist at the physical therapy clinic. We really like the doctor, he looks a little like an aging Magnum P.I., which is fine by me (I've always had a minor crush on him, though he's bit old for me!).

Anyways, he watched Maximo walk (holding my finger) directly to the ball pit. (Hence our new purchase). Where he continued to stand next to it and chuck balls out one at a time, glance at the mirrored wall, giggle to himself and continue throwing balls out of the pit. We tried to coerce Max to play with some of the other toys, to crawl and climb, which he does quite well, but he just screamed bloody murder when I tried to move him away from the ball pit.

Dr. Rivera saw enough of Maximo's movements to say that he seemed perfectly normal and his movements and language development seemed fine. He then said as soon as Maximo takes five steps by himself that we could discontinue therapy. Why five? Don't know. He seems really close. One of the problems is that he wants to move too fast by himself. I doubt he's going to have a long walking stage - he's going to go from crawling to running - oh boy!

We'll see Dr. Rivera for probably our last time in May.

Note: This was written last week, but I needed to proofread it and revise it, AND it's been one of those crazy weeks, so here it is one week late with an update:

Check it out! He's now walking all over the place, though a bit unstable at times... but definitely he has conquered the five step goal! Yesterday was our last physical therapy appointment, hopefully FOREVER!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Spoiled Rotten

As far as I can tell, Max is a "baby" which as about as close to a specific age as I think most fathers can ever determine-Baby, Boy, Teen, and get Outta the House are the specific age categories. In the Baby phase, Max can do whatever he wants. At this stage of development, our role is to react whenever he cries because his cries are based on survival-if he cries it's because he's hungry, sleepy, sick, too hot/cold. Lately we've been detecting that Max may have reached the age of "Boy" because now he throws temper tantrums if we don't hand him the cordless phone/book/cat/toy in a manner that is quick enough to suit him; so now we have to learn to say "No". Having a spoiled child is one of our greatest fears, and it's a real test of will power not to succumb to those big tears, wailing cries, and down turned mouth.

A case in point: this weekend we took a trip to the Zoo. As soon as we pulled in to the parking lot we knew that the day was going to be magic-consider the first exhibition we saw: there's not even bars on his cage! It was a Porkus Driverus-a common prowler of the Peruvian highways.

Once inside the gates, Max was thrilled by the other animals-how much like his cat Flavius they all seemed! Maybe if I climb over this wall, I can play with them and we'll have such fun. Why is Daddy holding me back? LET ME GO!!! LET ME GOOOO!!!!!! AHHHHHHHHHH!!!! And so it continued. First the sea lions, then the otters, then the one point, I seriously considered letting him play with the pumas. But we all made it home safely and Max had a big nap.

Today, we were rewarded for our patience because he finally began to walk. Not just baby steps. Full fledged walking across a room with pauses where he picked up some lint and ate it then kept walking.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Drumroll Please...

Yesterday in the park, just after talking with a mother of another 14 monther who wasn't walking. Maximo saw a dog he wanted to tackle and took off... He took about 20 steps by himself. I was shocked! Of course, I had no camera and no witnesses besides the stranger next to me.

Here's a mini-movie of our little walker, it's only about three steps, but you can see that Little Man is on the move... YIPEE!

Also, sorry for my dolphin-like voice at the end - I'm just a little excited!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Pit

This past week we went to the physical therapy clinic (more on that later). While there, Maximo could not be torn away from the ball pit. He lead me right to it, then shook my hand free and started to methodically remove each ball from the pit. When it was time to do anything but hang by the pit, he yelled so everyone in the whole five story clinic could hear.

So, John and I decided to buy him an early Christmas present and get him a ball pit. I know we're leaving in eight months or so, and this is not the most practical thing to ship, but, it was nice to spoil him a little bit today. Before the pit, all of Max's toys fit into a 1 1/2 foot x 1 foot basket - he definitely hasn't been spoiled in the toy department - but has quite a few that he's content. Neither of us want a house cluttered with a bazillion toys and Max seems content with what he has. We showed it to him tonight after his bath and he gleefully played in it until exhaustion set in and he was carried to bed.

Friday, November 14, 2008


Just some funnies from our lives these days:

This is what happens when you blink while drinking your coffee around a toddler.

John and Max were playing under/on the massage table. I wish the pictures were better, it was really funny.

And, I'm still trying to get photos of a couple of other things...
- Like Maximo and Flavius. Maximo is getting a little more lovey with Flavor, but is still a bit rough. Lately he just lies totally on top of the cat any chance he can get. And if the cat is walking around the room, Maximo will crawl full charge at him and headbutt him. He's kind of like a bull charging the red cape. The one unfortunately thing is Maximo will go for any part of the cat's body and his head is at the exact level of Flavius's anus.

My last tidbit for the night: tonight John gave Maximo dinner. When I came down, the kitchen was tidied, the refrigerator cleaned out and Maximo was contently full sitting in his highchair with the trash can pulled up next to him. Maximo loves slinging food as he eats, so John decided to see if he'd throw it in the trash can. The plan worked, a couple of garbanzos in the mouth, a couple in the trash, which he continued to do throughout his dinner. Problem solved. Maybe John can train him so he won't be as messy as I am!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Springtime: Peru Part I

I am not staying true to my original intention of this blog, to expand upon Lo Maximo, including our lives as overseas teachers and our daily happenings in our host countries. While Maximo is an interesting specimen to blog about daily, I'm trying to branch out a bit and include our expat lives. Don't worry, the blog will remain super-saturated with Maximo, grandmas not to fret.

Springtime in Peru, well, is an anomaly. The weather here is strange and one must always dress in layers to be comfortable throughout the day. Before we moved here, we saw that it pretty much remains between 50 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit - that sounded pleasant... and it never rains! This sounded doubly intriguing. While I do love a full blown Southern thunder and lightening storm, planning trips to the park or picnics and cookouts are much easier when there's no chance of precipitation.

Anyways, it's supposedly springtime here. As you can see, trees are starting to shoot green leaves and the weather is changing. It's still strange to me, even after three years that the seasons are flip flopped. I often confuse my kids when I refer to "summer", because in my world (that scary place) I have two summers, one in January - February and one in July. I do like that.

To me, there are really only two seasons here in Peru - the sunny season: December - April and the gray season: the rest. We do get a few sunny days (a couple of hours on a few days) during the gray season, but not too many.

The sunny season is great on the immediate coast - really blue skies, a cool breeze coming off the chilly Pacific. Inland, even a ten minute drive east from our house, it's a hot, sticky, dusty mess. Therefore, school during this time, is not great. I normally wear flip flops all summer long. Here, your feet are COVERED in grit and grime in minutes, regardless of where you are.

The gray season is damp, a cold that sticks to your bones and feels much colder than the 55 degrees it really is. Many mornings, it's quite misty, enough to have to wash your car twice a week, definitely not enough to wash anything away from the streets. When it's cold here, it's cold and there is no escaping it. There is no central heating and air in any homes, very few places have it - maybe the movie theater (I think that's it). One is likely to find me about 5 minutes after getting home from work during the "winter" in sweatpants, my slippers, and a sweatshirt, because once the cold and dampness get in - I can get it out of my body until I take a steaming hot shower.

So right now, we're kind of between the gray season and the sunny season. It's important to wear layers and always have sunscreen handy, because when it's sunny here, it'll scorch your skin in minutes. I wear spf 30 here daily, which is a huge jump from the girl who use to douse herself with baby oil, spray Sun-In in her hair and layout at the beach or in the yard for a full day.

There are A LOT of things I'll miss about Peru. The weather in Lima will not be one of them. Right now, I'm currently counting down the days until summer (as most teachers do) for two months of freedom (our last summer in Peru) and for a little sunshine to warm my soul.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Haircut #2

Last night in the bathtub, I trimmed Maximo's hair for the second time. I was hesitant to cut it, but he had a bit of a mullet in the back and when his hair was wet, it came down over his eyes and ears. Yesterday, when he woke up from his nap, it was frizzy and crazy.
I'm in love with his hair. He got the hair that I always wanted. I've been plagued with super straight hair, and for many years had my hair permed (many years, like 5-7, thank God it was before digital pictures, and only a few pieces of evidence lay at my mother's house in Connecticut).
So, it was a bit traumatic to cut his hair tonight - and a little for him since I stabbed him with the scissors, but a lot for me. We were going to take him to the "little kid hair salon" (there are a billion here), but they just bribe the kids with candy, no thanks.
Hopefully his curls will perpetually spill out of his scalp, so no matter how much I cut, they'll still come back, because they're gorgeous. I promise this infatuation won't get too out of hand - it's not like I'd make a wig out of my son's hair or anything, hmmmm.... Okay, maybe if I start going bald or have to undergo chemo or something - he'd do that for me!

Saturday, November 08, 2008


I've been meaning to post this all week, but it's been a bit hectic, like most weeks are and since Max goes to bed at 6:30-7 and then I'm in bed by 8:30-9, it doesn't leave a ton of time to get things done.
We went to Dr. Z's office this week for Maximo's 14 month check-up. We received a glowing report! He now weighs 10.275 kg (22 lbs 10 oz) and is 77 cm long (30 inches). These are both in the 35 % for a fourteen month old. For a twelve month old, he's in the 50% for weight and 75% for height. So, it looks like he's catching up. Yipee!
After his weird virus/breathing scare, we've had a good couple of weeks - he's been fun to play with, eating well and going to bed surprisingly easy...He's been a lot of fun to hang out with. He thinks everything is funny and LOVES to be scared. When you scare the living cr*p out of him, he looks shocked for a minute, then cracks up. He's also just figured out how to put things together - for example, he has blocks that have a whole through the middle and stack on a pole; this week was the first time he could actually put them back on the pole. He has been able to pull them off and chuck them around the room for a while, but now he's fascinated with putting them back on. He loves putting things in and outside of containers ALL THE TIME. He's also getting super duper close to walking. Last night he actually took two steps by himself. He was holding on to his crib and wanted to get to the nightstand for something and he let go and took to steps to get there. It was very exciting to see! Next week we have our appointment with the physio doctor, we're curious with what he has to say.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Taco Night at Los Lemleys

Tacos (or Tex-Mex) aren't common in Peru, but Tex-Mex is a cuisine that John and I LOVE! At least once a week, we make something at least semi-tex-mex: black bean or refried bean burritos, tacos, fajitas, quesadillas with whatever we have in our cupboards or 'frig'.
A couple of weeks ago, John shared his chili with Maximo. I was waiting for the "fallout" (literally) from Maximo scarfing down a bunch of black beans, but there wasn't one, so we've given him beans a few times since. He's picky about his beans - not the red kidneys, the cute black ones.
When I was a kid I loved taco night. It wasn't super often that we had taco night, but it was so much FUN! I felt so big assembling my own tacos in whatever proportions I wanted - they were always heavy on the cheese. I loved the electric skillet my mom used to brown the meat in and the soup bowls filled to the rim with diced tomatoes, shredded lettuce, cheddar cheese, salsa and sour cream. Fond traditions and family memories like this always make me wonder what Maximo is going to find special and hold dear to his heart as he grows older.
So, tonight, while we ate our tacos, Maximo ate/smeared/threw quite a large quantity of guacamole, tortilla, black beans and ground beef. Here's the evidence.

An eating utensil? What do I need this for?
And a bit of water to wash it all down with - and start the pre-wash of his clothes

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

I've got one word for you...

Okay, maybe two...

Looking Back at Halloween

You may wonder why I hyped up Halloween so much, but then only posted pictures of Maximo in his costume... you may not care either way, but let me explain anyways.
John had a few ideas that he was throwing around, and put his above ensemble together in about 10 minutes at home (an amalgamation of Jack and Piggy from Lord of the Flies, which he just finished with his 10th grade class).
I, however, had big dreams. I scoured the internet for the perfect costumes, since really I can get anything I want made here. I couldn't really find a good one for Luciana to make, but I was pretty content with my plan B - A tornado.
So I was going to wear a black shirt and pants and sew black strings onto my shirt and tie little farm animals, vehicles, trees, people onto the ends of the thread. When someone would ask, "What are you?" I'd spin and all the objects would swirl around me (are you picturing it? Cute, creative, right?). Then I thought I'd blowdry my hair, use a little hairspray to really get that windblown look. Then I bought a spider web and stretched it all out and wound it around me to try to get the funneling look.
Let's just say it looked GREAT in my mind. Let's just say it didn't look so great in real life. Thankfully, I don't think anyone got pictures of me. As John said best as I stepped into the car on the way to school, crushing parts of my costume in the car door as I closed it, "Jule, your hurricane looks like it got hit by a hurricane."
To see how "big" Halloween is at our school, check out some of the kids' costumes here. And that's just the middle school pictures, the high school and elementary were just as good. John said he saw a little elementary kid dressed up as a toilet. How do you get your kid to wear that?