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

APEC

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

Overtired...

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!


video

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 monkeys.....at 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!
video

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

Hahas

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

SO BIG

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?
Italic
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...

YIPPPPPPEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!
Okay, maybe two...
PRIDE.

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?

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Are you kidding me?

THE CARTSTOPPER
I just came across this on one of the blogs I read. I'm too embarrassed to disclose the name of this blog (Kirsten, shhhh). I've learned in this past year there are ridiculous amounts of gadgets, baby toys and accessories on the market. Living overseas and not being tempted to buy all this crap is a good thing.
Did someone really need to invent this? Is it really that hard to carefully push the cart up against the car before you unload it? Hmmm, as I type this, I realize... there are guys at the grocery stores here that unload for me, so I'm never in this predicament. But really, I don't think this is a big problem, unless you're unloading groceries in San Francisco and your grocery store is on a hill and the parking lot is on an incline. I would (maybe) justify their purchase, but come on.
Truly, I should just invent something like this, sell it for $19.99 and live happily ever after.

Just for the Record...

I HATE EARTHQUAKES! Before "the big one" last year, I used to get a thrill out of them (as long as I was safe). Yes, I know I called my mom 3700 miles away after my first one in Peru, BUT I was alone and on the 16th floor of a swaying building.
Some say "the big one" shook Maximo out. The experience of standing pregnant in a soccer field waiting for a three minute earthquake to end and the combination of being a mom has made me a bit anxious when we get them now.
We just had one - a short one, but a pretty hard shake... When Maximo is with us, I worry. Should we get him out of the crib? Do we go outside if we're close? Do we stand in the doorway? But when I'm not with him - I'm ridiculously anxious. He's with his dad right now, so I'm a little less anxious than if he was home with the nanny, but still...
I "like" predictable natural disasters - blizzards, hurricanes... those I can handle. But criminy!
And still, will it prevent me from taking a new job in an "earthquake zone"? No, probably not.

http://earthquake.usgs.gov/eqcenter/recenteqsww/Quakes/us2008ywcp.php