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!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6hvxucaPHRU


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

video

Translation:
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 Amazon.jp
  • 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

Cartagena!

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.