Friday, November 24, 2006

you gotta laugh

Every week I get a message in my inbox about the progress of my nanowrimo. So far I've been able to ignore it with thoughts of, "yes, I'll get around to it" and "sure, I still have time." But this one, labeled Week Four, really hurt, because I haven't written a word since Week One. [Gulp]

So, without further ado, I am off to write 1000 words or so. I would have liked to get up into the 20k, but of course then I wouldn't be the procrastinating writer wannabe that I already am. At least I got more done than any other year. Of course I won't tell you what that number is. Not until I get over my guilt, at least...

Friday, November 17, 2006

Tin Turns Three!!!!!! Birthday Plans for Tomorrow

3:30 Guests arrive
4.00 Craft station: Create a Christmas ornament
4:30 Game time:
Balloon race - The children put a balloon between their legs, holding it at the knee. They race. First child to cross the finish line without dropping the balloon is the winner. If the balloon drops, the child must go back to start.
Freeze dancing - played like freeze tag. The children dance while the music plays. When the music stops, the children must freeze completely. Anyone who moves is out. Play continues until only one child is left.
Water Balloon Kick - The children takes turns kicking a ball at a water balloon, set about 25 feet in front of them. The first kid to break the balloon with the ball is the winner.
Mini Car Race - Each child chooses a Matchbox car. The children race the cars to the finish line by pushing them along a racetrack. Owner of the first car to successfully cross the finish line is the winner. Cars must cross with just one push.
Duck Duck Grey Duck (In Spanish: Pato, Pato, Ganzo) If time and energy (as well as prizes) left
5:00 Cupcake decorating: The children decorate their own cupcakes using sprinkles, M&Ms, chocolate flakes, shredded coconut, gummies and crushed peanuts.
5.30 PIÑATAS! Each child gets their own small piñata filled with mini toys, chocolates, candies, and suckers.
6:00 Cake time (adults)
6:30 Movie: Cars

We have five kids invited - Daniel, Camila, Emilia, Emiliano and Daniel Endara (the last two being second cousins). Emiliano is only 5 months old, so his mom will have to be his representative!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Do you want to hear something funny? I joined Nanowrimo this year. It isn't the first time. Two years ago I joined, also. What's actually funny is:
a) I think that I have the time to write 50,000 words
b) repeat the above
c) I have already passed my total word count for 2004.

I am at 756. I have gotten a late start. Actually, these 700+ words were written on the first day, but from there I haven't gotten back to it, due to our trip to Ambato (pictures to be posted soon). I decided, however, that I am doing OK. So, maybe I won't finish, but the point is that I got SOME writing done. And it feels good to be a part of the frantic pattering of keyboards around the world.

Even if mine is pattering considerably less than the rest.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Halloween Update

A little while ago the doorbell rang.

“The cable guy, finally!” (As Andres says, the bill knows how to reach us, but when it comes to installation, suddenly the company has no idea where we live!)

The doorbell rings again. A very insistent cable guy.

Open the door. It looks as if a tornado has hit. Jack is rolled over, face down, leaking candle wax all over the stoop as if he were bleeding to death. Candles slowly sputter out on the cfement step. Our solar lights which line the walkway have been knocked over and kicked around. Tufts of grass are pulled up and thrown around the sidewalk leading to the street.

Vandals, you say. Actually, no. Just over zealous trick or treaters!

Yes, there were about twenty kids swarming the door, begging for candy. they had no idea what to say, and only a few were dressed up (I saw a witch, a cat, and a big ugly monster) but there they were! Of course I had to dig around for candy. Luckily I found a bad of Safety Pops, which just happened to be from Halloween last year, but the kids got SOOOO excited to see a different kind of candy that they went crazy! So, Amy, I got to be that house too! How exciting.

So now we know for next year that we will go trick-or-treating. Tin is already talking about it. (It’s going to be a long year...)

PS I will add pictures to the previous post tomorrow at work. For some reason I still can’t add pictures from home. Bummer. Oh, and the cable people finally did make it. And we got cable in our room! Uh oh, I can see now that going to bed early is going to become a thing of the past, and it will get harder and harder to wake up at 5 am...


I’ve never missed being away from the Halloween celebrations back home - until I had kids. Now I think of how they’re missing a magical day - a day to be whatever you want to be, a day to dream, to feel a part of a larger whole, to become part of a community, and - let’s not forget - a day to get sick on candy!

It may seem like a romanticized view of Halloween, but Halloween is that day. A community sharing and participating, a city-wide, country-wide celebration, a day to be someone or something else, and to create. I feel bad sometimes that I’m not giving that to my kids, as part of their cultural heritage. Of course there are many Ecuadorian holidays, but I want them to experience both.

So last night we carved a pumpkin and roasted pumpkin seeds. The pumpkin was grown in Grandma Susy’s pumpkin patch in Calderon, from seeds bought in the U.S. last summer. It didn’t get very big, but the kids didn’t mind (know). They had a blast. Tin even helped poke out the design with a nail. We put “Jack” out on the stoop to get comments from the neighbors - some criticism, some compliments, but who really cares anymore?

After our pumpkin carving experience there was a firework show that could be seen from our house. I still have no idea why there were fireworks, but when Tin heard the noise he asked me where it was coming from. It was foggy out at that precise moment, and, not seeing the firework display, I told him I honestly did not know.

But he did.

“They’re dinosaurs,” he announced. “They’re stomping around with their big feet. Boom. Boom. Boom” He walked around the house like a dinosaur for a few minutes.

“Do you like dinosaurs?” I asked, expecting an emphatic yes!

“No,” he said, wrinkling his nose in disgust. “They have big toes. Yuck.”

Well. So dinosaurs have big yucky toes, do they? Hmmmm.

(On another note, tonight we get a cable connection in our bedroom. Yay! Happy Halloween to us. Hello, Jay Leno, Desperate Housewives, Big Love and the news! Goodbye soccer and Mexican telenovelas!)

Monday, October 23, 2006

Arghh!!!... or The Idiocy Behind Bureaucracy

I don't know why certain things about living in Ecuador bother me so much. For instance, the long lines everywhere (having to get up at 4 a.m. to get "a place" in a line), the ridiculous rules and horrible inadequacy and inefficiency of virtually every sector - public or private, Ecuadorians' acceptance of that's just how things "are". Well, I am tired of getting in an outrage about the way people are treated, about the DUMB things that you're told when you are trying to do some paperwork, about the fact that SEVEN months after my son is born he is STILL not registered in the book of birth certificates and therefore we are STRUGGLING to get his passport ready for our trip, tired of worrying about the fact that my mother-in-law is losing her land, losing her retirement, losing her job basically because the doctor says she is absolutely NOT allowed to work and the silly government offices will not respect her doctor's orders. And I am most definitely tired of being in an outrage and then told that I shouldn't be. Why do people tell me these things? Isn't it to make me feel outraged? And, if not, then I refuse to get outraged anymore.

So, basically I will just accept my lot. Granted, once Nicholas's paperwork is out of the way, we will have far fewer things to do. Once I get my foreigner censo, which will now be good for like four years or something, I will have less to worry about. And once I get my ID updated, I will not have to worry again until it is time for my driver's license. Of course, all the paperwork seems to come at the same time.

In the meantime, I will be taking some days off of work in order to get all these chores done - as well as waking up at the crack of dawn and standing in line for eight hours only to be told to come back tomorrow cuz the system is down or they are no longer attending. Worse thing is, we have to go through this all at the U.S. embassy to get Nicholas's passport, and it is no better there. You'd think they were run by a bunch of Ecuadorians. Anyway, that's my rant for the day, and - hopefully I will be able to keep my word for it for a long time from now.

By the way, anyone know if standing in line burns calories?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Disappointment at the Polls

What can I say? Eleven years here and I've yet to see a sound decision at the polls. Noboa or Correa? The answer is clear, in my opinion. But HOW could Noboa and GILMAR GUTIERREZ get more votes than Roldos, and for that matter, Cynthia? I think it is time to get rid of the mandatory vote - get rid of the populism, stop letting (making) illiterate people vote, educating people to vote for the candidate who best represents your interests, not the one who gives you two pieces of bread and a baggie of rice. Some say that that shows just how poor the country is... I don't agree. I think it just shows how ignorant the population is, which is another reason to chuck the mandatory vote, also.

Sigh. Here we go again. I doubt Correa will last, and I predict that Noboa will go no longer than three months (He is barely literate himself, in fact, and shows all the signs of brain damage). Of course, I could always be pleasantly surprised.

I’ll Always Hear the Rooster

There’s nothing like a rooster to wake you up in the morning.

Yes, a rooster has gotten loose in our neighborhood.

He’s living in the park behind our house. I suppose he belongs to someone in one of the housing complexes to our north, so I doubt he will be homeless for long. But, in the meantime, he’s made a place for himself up against our back wall.

Roosters are strange animals. Contrary to popular belief, they do not only crow at the crack of dawn. Actual, they crow all day and all night long. I guess they are actually trying to claim their territory by scaring off predators.

In our old apartment there used to be a rooster belonging to the family behind us. After seven years of its crowing (or that of its successors – I doubt that that rooster was allowed to live so long, I’m sure he made it into a soup along the way) I got accustomed to it. And early this morning, when I heard our new neighbor’s fierce crows, I felt oddly at peace.

They are a cultural phenomenon. Ecuadorians don’t seem to notice them at all. The other day I was in class observing one of our teachers when, to make small talk, she asked the students if the rooster outside the building bothered anyone during class. Now, our school is located in the business and tourist district, and the traffic, especially the bus traffic, is noisy and annoying. The class was at the top of the eighth floor, yet she had heard a rooster at some point that morning, and the noise it had made had registered somewhere in the back of her mind.

I didn’t know what was sadder – the fact that there was a rooster in the city, or the fact that this teacher had never had the chance to actually hear a rooster in “real life”, despite being from a small town in the U.S.

The students never noticed it, they said, and even seemed skeptical of its existence. All I could think of was the fact that, inadvertently, she had set herself apart from the others – made herself instantly foreign.

I myself proudly agreed with the students. I had not heard the rooster. I am becoming more and more Ecuadorianized.

Yet I will never fully be Ecuadorian. Last night's intruder woke me from a sound sleep, and I doubt DH even registered his cries. I will, without fail, always hear the rooster. The difference is, now I will welcome his noise.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Picture Time: The Best of Brothers

Picture Time: Agustin

And the other king of the house...

Tin and "his" daddy.

Playing with Grandma Chris's present.

Tin's vehicles, courtesy of Daddy.

Picture Time: Nicolas

Here are some of the pictures of Nicolas that I promised to get up over the weekend. Enjoy!

My little jailbird.

Very drooly.

Just chilling.

Cutie pie.

Yeah for shopping

Well, as my previous post Mission Impossible stated, I had some trouble this weekend getting online and blogging. I had all the good intentions in the world, but life got in the way. One of the big pieces of news I had for everyone out there is that we will be arriving in MSP on December 16, in the morning (on the new Delta flight out of Quito). Yes, we finally bought the tickets (our return is Saturday, Jan. 6). And I am SO excited to be going back home, to see everyone and to do some major Christmas shopping! WOOHOO! By the way, Bati will also be coming, but one day after us (Dec. 17 am). He wants us to pick him up from the airport and go directly to the Mall of America. No goofing off on his part, you see. Gotta get the serious stuff out of the way, haha!

In the meantime, I just HAD to go shopping this weekend. I bought a new Christmas tree, since last year the stand on our old one went kaput - and no one could help me find a new stand. Actually, we eventually found one, but it is too flimsy for our big ol' tree. So I am going to be getting rid of the old and coming in with the new this Christmas - even though we will really only be in our house for a few weeks during the season. (I also got an advent calendar, which should be fun to do with the kids.)

I also decided to "splurge" on a new purse. My old ones are so old that I can't wait a couple more months before we go back to get one. I like the one I found, but I will definitely be purse shopping this winter.

On the Nightstand

I have been reading a lot more lately than I had been. Partly it is Amy’s fault, since she was getting through a couple books a week, and made me feel that old nostalgia. I remember looking forward to summer so that I could read twelve, fourteen, twenty books a week. I was insatiable. I loved it. There are no real regrets - I feel I got my fair share of play in, too. But going to the library and bringing home bags full of books - knowing that I actually had the time to get through them all - was icing on the cake.

So, I have started to make an effort to get more reading done. I still have a good ten books or so in my English collection that I haven’t read (lots more in my Spanish collection), and quite a few more I could stand to read again, so it shouldn’t be too hard. One thing that has changed greatly from summer days as a kid, however, is that my self-diagnosed, not ocmpletely-joking-about-it, attention deficit disroder has kicked in and I can no longer keep my mind on one book at a time. So, at any given time, I’m reading 3-4 books at a time.

Right now it is Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress. This is a book I ahve been looking forward to reading for probably the last two years or so, and which I was so excited to find in a used bookstore here in Quito. I have been hoarding it since I bought it about a month ago, but now is the time. I am only a few pages into it, but I feel a little shiver of excitement go up my spine every time I look at its cover. (At this point I am sure even Amy is thinking, YIKES! She’s losing it.)

I am still reading Mosaico. In fact, I’ve only gotten through a few chapters since last time I blogged about this book. I am beginning to think that the problem is in the translation, however, and not the book itself. I just can’t get into it - it feels very flat and repetitive. And that’s too bad, but always the problem when translation comes into play, especially on books that are not best sellers or classics.

I am also reading Four Spirits by Sena Jeter Naslund. It is not at all the kind of book I thought it would be, and is not an easy read. Yet, I find myself unable to put it down. It has some sort of magnetic pull, and the voice, which was annoying at first, has started to grow on me. When I am not reading it, for some reason I miss the characters. This doesn’t usually happen to me with this kind of book, so, without actually realizing yet, I’ve already gottten halfway through it.

And just finished is A Short History of Tractors in Ukranian. A crazy title for a great book. This, on the other hand, was an easy read, but not because it was not worthwhile or mere fluff. It was simply good writing, a great storyline that moved things along, and wonderful, funny characters. Really enjoyable. Too bad about the title, perhaps. When I first heard about this book I had no desire to read it. Then, I found it in the book shop here and decided to go for it, since I had heard so much about it. Definitely a book you could gobble up in one night on the couch sipping coffee.

The last book I am into right now is Mr. Murder by Dean Koontz. Yes, quite a change of genre and voice. It is my car book, however, and car books are very important to have. These are books that you keep under the seat of your car in the event that you get stuck somewhere in line and need a good book to entertain you. It can’t be anything too deep, because you could get pulled away from it at a moment’s notice, and it has to be something not too hard to follow since you may not get back to it for weeks at a time. This used to be my purse book, but since Agustin was born, it has become my car book, since I often get stuck in the car at malls, restaurants, home, etc. while we wait for him to wake up fmr his car nap. So a car book is vital at these moments.

It is an old book, a murder/mystery, and one which I think I may have read when I was younger. I chose it because I liked Koontz’s books when I was a teenager, and I wanted to explore that old fascination I remember having for them. I have been pleasantly surprised with the book so far - Koontz’s writing is sound and actually not bad, and the characters feel less flat than a lot of the other characters you see in that genre. So, a good car book that looks like it will be a good read. (Unlike my previous car books, Meg by Steve Alten and The Millionaire by David Baldacci - both of which have characters that are so predicatable and cliched that they distract you from the plots, which are also predicatable and cliched, but oh well. A car book is a car book.)

I found my library card and got online. My wish list is at 32, but I have thought of a couple more I’d like to put on there. I am sure I’ll end up buying many of them, since I will never get through them all. But I love getting online and dreaming my way through the library’s web site. And that’s Ramsey County.... Hennepin County is even cooler and better.

Next big purchase will be a PDA so I can buy ebooks online and download them instantly. It’s not my favorite way to read, but it is easy to keep up with the new stuff that’s out there, and I don’t have to buy a bookshelf to accomodate them (nor dust them, which is a big plus)!

I guess it’s time to end this post - I’ve been interrupted four times by screaming kids with nightmares/tummyaches/hunger pains, etc.
(Note: This was written the night of my frustration. I am uploading it a few days later.)

Mission Impossible

As you can see, I was unable to blog much this three-day weekend. The kids make it a lost cause during the day, and the baby must be going through a growth spurt because he hasn't slept well, napping or otherwise, in the past three days. I am back at work, and although we expect to be crazy busy this week with registrations, I will attempt to blog again.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Giving up

OK, I give up. Aside from the fact that my browser keeps quitting when I try to upload a picture (and I have a ton), and the snoring from next door that's grating on my nerves, the kids have woken up three times each, and it is only 10:30. Usually the first time they wake up isn't until 3 am or so. I swear, it's like they both know that Mommy is doing something she's been meaning to do for quite some time. Unfortunately, every time they start whining in their sleep, I have to turn off my Internet connection, since I pay for Internet per minute, as well as the phone line, per minute (like long distance). So I can't very well go off to a kid's room and leave the internet on since I don't know how long it will be. What a pain!

Maybe I'll get something else done tonight.

Don't count on it.

Goggles and Garth

Here is Agustin last night wearing his goggles as we danced to Garth Brooks. He really likes any kind of music, which is fun. The only music he doesn't enjoy is music that is "too slow" because it is "too sad."

Get that man a snoring mask!

As I sit here fighting with my internet browser and its incapacity to work with blogger for uploading pictures, I can hear my neighbor snoring through the walls. Very annoying. WAY too loud. Someone help that man and his family...

Guilt in the Form of a Blog

We all have guilty pleasures - something that we know we shouldn’t be doing but that gives us so much satisfaction we do it anyways. One of my guilty pleasures has been blogging. What could be more of a waste of time? I sit at work, and instead of getting semi-important things done (I am not so bad that I ignore the important stuff, at least not yet) I read blogs, search for new blogs, and, if the writing bug has bit, write on my own blogs (yes, plural!). If it isn’t in the urgent box, it probably won’t get done, since Kari is blogging.

Of course Andres thinks I’m crazy. I don’t really care. Other people may think I’m a geek or weird. Doesn’t bother me. I know there are better things to do with my time, but I can drown out that nagging voice at the back of my head. Truth be told, I like blogging. I love blogging. Something I never thought I’d say.

It is a wee bit like having a novel at your fingertips. Maybe if I had access to libraries, (without the horrendous shipping fees, of course), b&n, etc., I would be less inclined to spend my time reading bits and blurbs on the Internet. But since I don’t have this, blogging keeps me updated, makes me feel like I am not so far away, keeps me in the thick of things, so to speak. When I blog and read blogs, I don’t feel so bad about being here. I don’t feel so isolated. And that is an amazing feeling.

Still, with blogging comes many forms of guilt. Aside from just being a guilty pleasure, the onus it brings is at times unbearable. I use the blog to keep my family up to date on me, my kids, my life. But when I don’t blog I feel guilty. I am letting them down. I am reading about the lives of other people, people I don’t even know (I hear Andres’s voice again... 'crazy crazy crazy') instead of keeping my family on top of things. For example, my sister asks for my blog address so she has something to read at work. Since then I may have written what? A whole paragraph?

Shame Shame Shame.

So, if you feel that I am on a blogging frenzy this weekend, it is because I am. I’m making up for lost time. I promise to try to be better.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Plays on words

You know your kid's growing up when he starts getting jokes meant for your husband.

The other day the three of us (Kas was sleeping) were sitting around folding laundry. Tin was "helping" me pair socks. Of course, he was doing more throwing the socks around than matching them, so I asked him how many socks he was matching and how many he was throwing. He answered the second question: "Two."

Looking at Andres, I rolled my eyes and muttered, "Too many." To which Tin let out a guffaw.

"Too many! Too many!" he said, giggling. Then he came up to me and planted a big wet kiss on my cheek. "Mommy, you're silly! Too many..." And he sighed and shook his head from side to side, as if to say, what am I going to do with her?

Understanding puns? Oh no, that kid is no longer my little baby...

Unluckiest person in the world

Sometimes I think that the unluckiest person in the world is my mother-in-law. Not only does she have this crazy disease, polymyalgia rheumatica, she now is having problems getting permission at work to get the rest she needs. Even though the doctor has said she should not return to work (she works at a night school and the cold is really bad for her), because it is a public school, she can only get 7 days at a time (the doctor gave her a month, and then said she'll probably need three months in total to get back to "normal"). At work they gave her the permission, but to get it "legalized" (what is it with Ecuadorians and their love for LEGALIZING EVERYTHING?) she has to go back to the State Department of Education and get it stamped. There, they tell her they can only sign permission for 7-14 days. She goes back to the doctor to get him to rewrite the permission in increments of 2 weeks, and now she is told that they can't do it because it is "past its time." So, three months before she is eligible for retirement, it looks like she will be fired because of this crazy mess. Which means her retirement will be seriously compromised.

All of this is just unnecessary and crazy paperwork, since she was granted permission for the last two weeks - but not the first two (so, the dr. says I have this disease on Sept. 4, but I can't get permission to be sick from Sept. 4 to Sept. 17, but I can get permission from Sept. 17 to Oct. 4?). Also, she has a substitute in her place who she is paying out of her paycheck, so what, really is the big deal? I don't get it and never will, I guess.

On top of this mess, she has decided to try selling her family lot in Calderon. She finally found someone who wants to buy it, ASAP, and when she went to sell it she finds out that the city government has ordered that the lot is only good in order to build schools, public hospitals, or parks on. Not even houses can be built on the property, which contradicts everything since HER house is already built on the property. (Not the first time, by the way, that she has had problems with land in Calderon. She once owned another lot that she had bought herself, and it was taken by the authorities to build the new highway through.)

Needless to say, it really sucks. She is looking for a lawyer (of course the one she was recommended to use is out of the country until December) who might be able to help her, but in the end she will either lose the land or have to bribe and pay off who knows how many officials. And the worse part is that all of this was caused by her neighbors, who under good Ecuadorian philosophy believe that everything yours is mine, and that no one should have anything more than what I have (even though I don't work or do anything in order to get it). They think that my mother-in-law is rich because of the land (which she inherited) and so they wanted her to pay for paving the road that runs around her land. My mother-in-law is a schoolteacher, however, and while not dirt poor is by no means equipped with enough income to finance a city road. They got angry when she refused, and went to the city government and cried and complained that they needed a hospital, and then got the officials to "donate" my mother-in-law's land.

Now, I have nothing against building hospitals for low income families, lahdee lahdee, but the way people go about things is so corrupt that it makes you want to just cry, close your eyes, and give up once and for all on this country.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Long Time, No Write

I've been largely absent this month because of the teacher training course I've been involved in. One of our self-proclaimed "good" TEFL tutors decided to skip out on the program, without warning us at all, and I had to pick up most of her hours. I've been working long, long shifts - up to 14 hours a day, but it is extra income and well paid, and we finish this Friday so it was relatively short-term. Today is another long day, one in which I'll probably get home after the kids have fallen asleep. That is a depressing thought...

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Learning to Manipulate...

Two-year-olds can be so much fun. Not only do they write on walls, pee on carpet, and bring rocks and dirt into the house by the truckloads, but they also begin to learn the fine art of manipulation.

I was downstairs doing the dishes yesterday morning when suddenly I heard screaming coming from the TV room two floors up.

"Agustin! Are you OK?" (You should have seen how fast I ran up those stairs. Who says I'm not in shape?)

"Mom! I wanna pee in the potty chair. MOM! I WANNA PEE IN THE POTTY CHAIR!" Then a realization - yes, of course, he's wearing his big boy pants and he WANTS TO PEE IN THE POTTY CHAIR! Run faster. Almost trip. Keep going. Reach the top.

"Tin! What did you say?"

Staring at the ceiling, playing dumb. "What?"

"What did you say? You want to go potty in the potty chair? Let's go!" (I'm real excited by now. See? I'm thinking. No need to train him. He's figuring it out on his own!)

Blank stare. I ask again, "What did you say?"

Innocent voice (a bit meek): "Come play with me in the tent!"


And that's not all. That very same morning we were downstairs having breakfast. Tin finished and wanted to go upstairs. I looked at his little brother (6-months-old) and asked, "OK, Kas, your brother wants to go upstairs. What do you say? Do we go upstairs?"

Suddenly a small voice, three octaves higher, exclaims from the stairwell. "Yes, mommy, I wanna go upstairs, please." Tin, doing a great Kas impression.

You gotta love it. He's growing up. And, yes, mother, I DO realize that all this will not seem so cute thirteen years from now. But in the meantime, I am so enjoying watching him become his own little person...

books! books! books!

Yahoo! I found another bookstore here in Quito, and really close to work! (Bookstore with books in English, that is.) Most are used, but there is a really big selection and there are actually some pretty recent books. I saw Atonement by Ian McEwan and some Anita Shreve, Barbara Kingsolver, among many. I am so excited, because I got Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon. How exciting! I spent less than $20, too. He also had a huge nonfiction section and Stephen King section. I am not normally a King reader, but once in awhile I just want something quick and scary to read, and his older books are unavailable around here. There were a lot of best sellers, for those who like those kinds of books. And the best thing is that the owner seemed really nice! It's called The English Bookstore and it's on the corner of Calama and 6 de diciembre. Prices range from like $5 to $14.

My really truly FAVORITE bookstore in Quito, however, is Anna's Books on Eloy Alfaro and (almost) 6 de diciembre, in Edificio Sinai. It is the BEST place for books, most new (she now has a gently used section - awesome!), and a great selection of magazines. She always has deals going on, and gets new stock constantly. You can find almost any of the contemporary fiction books there. Only problem is that prices are a bit high - up to $22 for a paperback. But her selection is so great and current that you just gotta pay the price to keep her in business. (I was never one to complain about an expensive book, either.) I could get lost in her shelves for hours.

The one place I do NOT like is the other used bookstore that has been around forever. The owner is a rude, gross American (no offense to other rude, gross Americans). The selection isn't too bad, but I would really rather not hear about the best place for prostitutes in town, nor how much fun it is to shoot the poor Mexicans crossing the borders. I can do without that. I would feel like a felon every time I walked in there.

And what a relief not to have to search the shelves of Libri Mundi. They have beautiful books, but whoever is in charge of ordering needs to get online and find out what people (of course, people like ME!) want to read. I do not need 5 different copies of the Kama Sutra (husband can disagree) nor care to have a $30 version of Crime and Punishment or Shakepeare's sonnets. I don't want to read about every drug addict in the free world and their argument about why they are intellectual for getting high. It can be mentally draining trying to find a book that is actually worth reading the back cover there.

So, keep on coming you book store owners! I want more more more!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


[I love it! Andres is getting the blogging bug! Here's a little something from him that he asked me to publish... too bad there is truth to it!]

I have recently had to experience one of the wonders of development. My workplace, a public institution, decided to follow the book of industrialized countries and downsized its personnel under the lame excuse that Ecuadorian Public organizations are stuffed with employees. I am not going to provide any facts, data or information in order to prove that downsizing is absurd in a public institution since I am just blogging and all I want is to vent. I am just going to ignore all the believers of the private sector who fancy that a citizen needs to pay for the air he or she breathes, and instead I am going write on how this decision has affected my family and me.
As I fortunately belong to the board of this institution, the government decided not to eliminate my job but to cut down my salary. As a good Ecuadorian, I tried to see a solution to the problem without stressing myself to the point of justifying the action of the U.S. Postal workers during the 80´s and 90´s. After talking to my family, we all decided that we would do what people do in the “developed countries”: find a part time job bussing dishes in a restaurant or passing out flyers downtown. In other words, find a “Mc Job” in order to use all the knowledge acquired throughout my 21 years of formal education, my co-authored books and my extensive travelling. Perhaps, my family and I thought I could even apply abroad and find a better job. People in the First World must be dying to hire a Third World countryman to become the CEO of one of its trusts.
As a result of this illusion, I spent several hours searching for the perfect job in a developed country that would not require me to have a work permit, a visa, or even a political point of view. The answer was obvious…

Then my family and I got together and decided to be more austere. Cut down our expenses: no trips to see the in-laws, no Christmas shopping, no shopping at all as a matter of fact, no eating out, and not even turning on extra lights at home. This will have some consequences but if we want to survive as a modern and developed family we need to put up with the fact that my children will not see their grandparents and aunts; that Christmas will be, again, a strictly and only religious merry celebration and that shopping will be saved for when daddy’s public company gives him his salary back.

As a last resort, we thought of opening a free web page and asking for contributions for this poor Third World country family who has almost lost its income. I learned how to blog, and how to open a web user account. However, I did not learn how to make people feel pity for me and my family. The blog account and the web page are up, but no cent has been donated. It’s ok., though; only few fools believed in the Trickle Down theory.

The fact is that I, as well as my family, will need to reshape our expending habits thanks to a reduction in my salary. Please read this blog in case I don’t see you this summer, fall, winter or fall due to our family austerity.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Getting Around

Originally uploaded by kalymiller.

I love going from the mountains down to the coast. Not only do things start warming up, but you can almost feel like you're in another country. Sometimes it is because of the extreme poverty you see. Other times it is because of little things like vocabulary or dialect. But one of my favorite differences between the coast and the sierra is the transportation. Here you can see a bunch of people riding on an open ranchera - the people inside ride with no doors or windows to avoid heat stroke. What I loved best about the ranchera, however, was the piglet riding along. Someone's pet? Someone's supper? Someone's next paycheck? Either way, he was having a blast as the warm coastal air howled around him...

Monday, August 07, 2006

Disposable Cars

I have been largely absent these past few days, and not for lack of things to say. For those of you who know me, you’ve probably heard about our little situation last weekend. I was at work on Saturday, working in the office on a translation, when there was a problem upstairs. I ran upstairs with the other coordinator, making sure to lock the door behind me. I came back about two minutes later, and there was a guy (looked like a thug!) standing by the door, text messaging someone. I tried to open the door, and he started asking me questions about registration. I told him that they could answer his questions upstairs, but he continued pestering me. Meanwhile, I noticed there was someone in the office, trying to open the lock and get out. I stepped back and two guys came running out of the office. I yelled after them to ask what they needed, and they said that the “Teacher” already helped them. Well, there was no “Teacher” around on a Saturday, so I ran after them, calling for the guard (who, of course, came fifteen minutes later: “Do you need something?”… : | ). Meanwhile, the lookout guy started running down to where the cars are parked. I followed him, and he ran back upstairs and out the door. I never caught up with the other two. I think they had another guy waiting in the parking ramp, because later the guard noticed that someone had gotten out of the elevator on the fourth floor (no English classes there!) and stuffed an empty yogurt container in the door, so it (the elevator) wouldn’t move.

Eventually, I got back to the office to see what they had taken. They had gone through all of our bags and purses (things were not out of order but we noticed because all of the zippers were left open) and not taken anything – no money, no credit cards, no documents, no car radios, no cell phones. The only thing that was missing was our car key. [The landlady later told us that she had seen some guys downstairs checking out the cars that morning, and had kicked them out of the building. They came back, obviously, and right at the time that our Saturday students were leaving, so everyone thought they were students.]

To get to the point, our key is an electronic key with a remote control, and opens the doors and turns off the alarm automatically. Which means the thieves can now open our car and steal it. Well, for the past week we’ve been talking to the car company and other mechanics, and basically what we’ve been told is that we cannot change the micro chip of the car, which controls the remote. Which means that, for about $1000, we can change the key and all the locks, but the thieves will always be able to get into our car because they have the remote control, and that cannot be changed. In other words, they may not be able to take the car immediately, but with time they can hotwire it and take it anyways.

Not such a good system.

We’ve asked for advice from at least ten “experts,” and what they have all told us that the only real option we have is to sell the car. This month we make the last payment on it, and we are also waiting to get our contracts renewed, so not a good time for us to be buying a new car.

I don’t know what we should do. Actually, I guess I do, but I didn’t want to be forced into buying a new car. But what’s worse: save some money right now but be worried about leaving our car at work (since the thieves obviously know where to find it) and possibly have it stolen, or sell it, get what we can and use that money to buy a new car?

Sigh. As my grandma would say… It’s always something!

Friday, August 04, 2006


Originally uploaded by kalymiller.

The other night my father-in-law gave us a copy of a homemade video that some of his friends near Ambato took the day the Tungurahua began exploding. It was impressive. I was really glad to see it, since I hadn't seen any of the images on TV when it was happening (having two little kids means that all you see on television are Barney and Elmo). The explosion was much bigger than I imagined. If I can figure it out, I will try to put a clip up on the blog. Until then, here is what the volcano looked like about four months before it exploded. It is now about 200 meters shorter, and isn't so cone-shaped. (It has actually been somewhat active for the past seven years, so has been slowly reshaping itself over that time.) This picture was taken on the way down to Baños. We happened to witness quite a few ash clouds that day.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Mirror Mirror on the Wall

Originally uploaded by kalymiller.

We finally got some mirrors installed in the bathrooms. This is no small miracle, considering that small mirrors with no frame can cost $35 or more, and the people who make the mirrors often decorate them with frosted swans and flowers. I suppose that increases their cost/value, but - not my style at all. But after poor Mom and Dad had to check their images in the reflection off the TV, we felt a little embarrassed, and with the next check set aside some big bucks to get some mirrors made. Luckily, we found these medicine cabinet types for only about $79 at a hardware store. We had to put them together, but Andres is good at that kind of stuff. Medicine cabinets are hard to come by here so they actually look pretty cool in our bathrooms, and they are very practical since we were hiding the medicine under towels in the linen closet for want of a better place to put it. Now we have them on the highest shelf... and Agustin cannot get to them. That feels good.

Interestingly enough, I didn't mind not having a mirror around. It was peaceful in our house with no mirrors, and though I've never been a vain person, it got me away from worrying about what I looked like or how my clothes looked on me. Of course, that is probably why every time I saw a picture of myself I would give a little gasp, haha! Well, we are back in the land of living and mirror-life - no more lala land mirrorless house - and actually we have even found some cheap ($15) full lengths that we bought too. So now there is no excuse not to make this diet work...every time I pass by my bedroom door that mirror reminds me...

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Big House = Big Money

I have figured out a new mathematical equation. For those of you already with houses, you're probably like...
duh, Kari, how original.
But for those of us just getting out of those teeny-tiny (as Tin would say) starter apartments and into something with more than three floors (that are your own, mind you), the bills can be quite overwhelming. And that is without the need for heating or air conditioning! Just the electric bill is over three times what we spent in the apartment, the phone bill is higher (probably because I am using the Internet more, but also because now we are in a "rich" residential zone, where there are more taxes, whereas before we were near the poorer residential area Comite del Pueblo, so prices for basic services were lower). In our apartment we didn't have to pay for water, since the monthly dues took care of that, but here in our new house we pay like $20 a month. Gardening and upkeep, cleaning supplies to clean five bathrooms (don't laugh Andres - even if I don't clean them regularly I DO buy the supplies!), even furniture and wall hangings to try and fill up the space a bit! It is so weird to go from an apartment where you could barely move to a place where your voice actually echoes for lack of "stuff." It is quite fun, in a way, because I no longer have to fear those U.S. shopping sprees (that is, until the house gets cluttered again and we have to sell it and use it for storage and get our very own mansion).

One thing we finally decided to splurge on was sitting paraphenelia. Mom and Dad both experienced how awkward it was to visit while using the stairs and coffee tables as chairs. We plunged in and bought a beautiful sofa set, a la St. Albans, very soft and suede-y (dry clean only and please do not get it wet... Aargh! what?!"@# With two little boys? Oh no, what did we get ourselves into...) and definitely worth the price of a car!

Whew! We'll be paying that one off for some time. At least our guests have somewhere to sit (did you hear that my sisters? You can come and visit now because you have somewhere to sit).

Plans to buy a matching set for the third floor, but once the kids are a little older. As it is, the ones up there match now, too, due to the artwork (with non-removable pen, of course) of my little 2-year-old.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Mom and me

Here we are - Mom and her little bookworm (shhh, don't tell anti-book daddy!)

You know you're obsessed with books when...

1. the first thing your eyes are drawn to in magazines are the books on shelves and tables
2. you get a small magnifying glass out to read the titles of those books in the magazine photos
3. you feel like you lost your best friend when the local English bookstore closes for the summer
4. you browse the virtual bookshelves of other Library Thing subscribers
5. you secretly buy books instead of running an errand and hide them in the corner of a room of your house to later pull out and put on the bookshelf so that no one really notices them, especially since you haven't yet read the last one you bought (saving it for a special occasion)
6. you hoard books like candy, saving them for this unforeseen "special occasion"
7. you sometimes pull books down off your shelf and just run your hand over the cover, leaf through the pages looking at random sentences, and imagine what's inside
8. you do the above in bookstores, also, occasionally generating looks of bewilderment
9. you experience a rush of exhiliration every time you purchase a book
10. you get onto various times a day to see if your recommendations have been refreshed
11. you get REALLY excited when someone reads a book you recommended them
12. you go home to visit family and friends, traveling almost 4000 miles, and then spend the majority of your time in the library
13. your husband doesn't want to even hear the word book
14. the only thing that can quiet your two-year-old boy down is getting out a book (usually about cars or trains) and reading together (he doesn't let me read to him - we just sit next to each other and read our own books simultaneously!)
15. you write a blog entry about this addiction!

Monday, July 17, 2006

All set

Well, as many of you know, Bati is back in MN and has already made his first trip to the cabin. I am sure he is excited about that.

As for me, I was very depressed on Saturday, thinking about all of the Minnesotans outside roasting on their decks. Hearing that it is hot even at night didn't help. How many times have I made a trip back just to enjoy that humiliating, opressive heat? And instead got fifty-degree weather? Well, it just figures that you all would have a *great* summer without me. And that we'd be planning another winter trip. Bet this winter will be really cold, off the records...

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Daily Zeitgeist for my Family

Hey everyone. If you're not getting enough photos of my boys, please scroll down and check out the flickr photos daily zeitgeist. I'll try to keep this updated. I'm sure Andres will help.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Soundproofing walls

Any ideas on how to soundproof walls? Our new neighbors are finally moving in (at very odd hours of the night...those poor kids need to sleep, I say!) and they are not what I would call "quiet." It looks like it will be a long ten or twenty years (by which time I hope the mommy screams and crying and ball throwing and drum pounding will have stopped and our lovely new neighbors' kids will have moved out of the house... or at least have decided to sit down and watch TV instead of triggering car alarms and house alarms and tears from me as I try to drown out their noises at 1 o'clock in the morning).

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy 4th

Oh, and I should probably say Happy 4th to family and friends. Have a nice time at the cabin...without me! (Here I am, slaving away at work ... read: posting on my blog!)

Just flea bites

So, no, I am going to assume Tin doesn't have chicken pox. Last night he had a few pimply-looking things starting on his neck, but this morning they were gone and his belly marks are fading fast. No pus, no scabbing (yet), only a few marks on his leg, in a straight line where his sock ends. I guess our first hunch - FLEAS - was right. Now, how do you get rid of fleas? (Pretty sure he picked them up in Calderon - the weather has been dry and hot...perfect for those bloodsuckers, and he was playing in the same area where the dogs take their naps during the week... Glad it probably isn't chicken pox because I didn't know what I would do with the baby in that case).

Monday, July 03, 2006

Chicken Pox?

Uh-oh. We'll see tomorrow, but I think it may be...

Friday, June 30, 2006

Doctor's Visit

Yesterday I stayed home from work and took the baby to the doctor. We were behind - his three-month appointment was supposed to be around the 6th, but time has been so scarce lately, not to mention money (as usual!). The doctor said he's perfect. His tear ducts are still blocked, though, so I will have to bring him to an eye doctor to check it out. Also, he needs to get more food. Of course this has me worried... I've noticed for the past few days that his diapers aren't very wet. Of course I suppose this has to do with not getting quite enough milk, but of course I am worried again about failure to thrive and CF and all that. I don't know why I can't quite believe the tests that came back negative. I can't believe I am such a nervous Nelly about my kids - I never wanted to be like that. Anyway, the doctor was fine and excited about his progress in terms of his motor skills. He got vaccinated for meningitis, too, so was a little fussy last night. Good thing is that the Tempra we gave him made him sleepy and he slept pretty well. I am a little frustrated by the fact that he was such a good eater and now seems to be rejecting the bottle. I think it may have to do with the fact that I am back to work and he misses me. Agustin never really did, but Nicolas cries nonstop every Monday. I feel so guilty, like I am a terrible mom...

On another note, poor Bati isn't so happy in IA. He is going to ask for a transfer, because of reasons I won't go into here. I just wish he were having a better time.

My heart feels so heavy right now. I'm glad it's Friday and I will have all weekend to spend with the kids.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Creatures of Habit

There’s something to be said for falling into a routine. Before I had kids, I felt like this was the curse of getting old – having a daily routine. I’d remember doing my neighbor’s paper route and feeling sorry for the older couples who would wait for their morning paper to arrive every day at the same time. They would get so upset if you were even minutes late. My father-in-law has always said we are creatures of habit, but I never wanted to believe him. I kept busy, mixed things up, didn’t want to fall into a rut. Then my first child came along and spontaneity became chaos. It took us a while to establish a routine, and then came the second and the routine was disrupted again. But these last few months with my two kids felt so right once we got back into the routine: get up, make bottles, get clothes for the day ready, make beds, get dressed, eat breakfast, bath for the smallest, and then the playing begins… I felt so calm, so… capable, like now I could truly do anything if I could handle this growing family. Now I’m back to work and the routine (at least mine) has been broken, and once again I feel like I’m free falling…

Monday, June 26, 2006

and another

I can't just put one picture up. I have to add this, too.

Candy for Your Eyes

Here's my little one. Had to get a picture up since Agustin already has a couple.

Things to do:

(UPDATE 7/6: So, I got through the laundry, but of course have more piled up. Maybe not a great thing to have on a to-do list. I scrubbed one wall, but that pencil is NOT coming off so easily. I guess I'm just getting used to having it there. Did our sales tax forms but not the income tax forms yet. Went to the doctor with baby but need to go again soon. Raked leaves, but again, there are more... and last but not least, I did manage to get over to La Braisilia. I got one more box out of there, got the electricity turned on, saw that at least there are no mice or cockroaches. It's a huge, daunting task, let me tell you.)

1. put away laundry
2. pack up maternity clothes
3. scrub (5) walls... Agustin got loose with a pencil
4. develop pictures
5. schedule doctor and dentist appointments and make time to actually keep them
6. go to the post office
7. wash car
8. rake leaves in back yard... happy to be next to the park, not liking the shedding eucalyptus
9. fill out tax forms for our local taxes... HUGE headache since when we moved everything was misplaced
10. go over to La Brasilia and clean some things out, dust, vacuum, etc. Poor neglected little apartment.

I'll keep you updated on the ones (if any) I get through. (I tend to spend more time writing to-do lists than actually doing the things on them!)

Saturday, June 24, 2006

What I'm Reading

I recently finished The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. Before that it was Caramba! by Nina Marie Martinez (not to my liking at all - it felt completely contrived, and the author did a terrible job of incorporating magic realism into the plat. The characters were very flat, and when she tried to get them to do something out-of-character, it felt unreal. Total pop culture overload - gay/transvestite hairdressers, the macho Mexican mujeriego, two best friends - one with a phobia, prom-like dances, evangelical mariachi bands, prisoners on parole for drug dealing...just too much squeezed into an already poorly written novel). I really enjoyed Kite Runner, though. I like that kind of story, especially the ones that make me cry or feel complete despair (I know, it’s masochistic). I can’t imagine what it would be like coming back to your home country after so many years and finding it reduced to rubble.

Another recent read is The Dogs of Babel by Carolyn Parkhurst. Andrés picked this one up for me while he was in Tampa, and I loved it so much I read it in one sitting (really really late at night of course). It is the story of a man who loses his young wife and, while trying to deal with the loss, makes some discoveries of his own. The best part was the whole talking dogs angle - horrifying. (It sounds strange - I know, talking dogs? Not usually what I read. But it was so believable and well written that I cried at the end for Lorelei) A very poignant story, written in beautiful, flowing prose. One of my favorite all-time reads.

Oh, and I’ve also recently read Around the World in 80 Dates by Jennifer Cox, an ebook I bought for Andrés’ palm. I never thought I’d like an ebook, but it was nice to always have it around. I could pull it out while in line at the supermarket, or on break at work, or sitting in the parking lot of the department store with two sleeping kids. The book itself wasn’t so great - pure chick lit and a really light read. I was expecting more of a travelogue, but mostly she just talks about the dating scene (something I am not familiar with and not really interested in). Anyway, perfect ebook material. I’ve also got Bill Bryson’s A Short History on Nearly Everything on ebook. A lot of interesting facts and figures that can be instantly bookmarked with the touch of the stylus.

Currently I am reading Mosaic by Soheir Khashoggi. 5 don’t think it’s got a U.S. printing yet, and my version is actually in Spanish. I’m halfway through it and at a point where the author just seems to be saying the same things over and over again. It’s about a woman whose husband, from Jordan, kidnaps their two youngest children and brings them to Jordan to protect them from Western culture. I thought it would be more about the arguments behind the kidnapping (homosexuality, cultural decadence) and also more of a travelogue, but so far it’s just about the main character sitting at home waiting for her husband to call with news of their children. I’m stuck where she has hired someone to help her kidnap them back.

We’ve got the CEC-EPN library up and running, so I’ve decided to check out my allotted books. I chose The Chamber by John Grisham (an easy read, something to pass the time) and Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt, which I hope will be more riveting.
As you can see, after nine months of not having the concentration needed to read, I’m trying to catch up.

World Cup...Go Ecuador!!!!

Something else I should mention...
The World Cup has already gotten underway in Germany, and there is World Cup fever everywhere in Ecuador, since our national team is participating for the second time in a row, and this time has gone on to the next round of finals. Everyone is very excited about tomorrow's game vs. England. Should be fun.

On a different note, I'm having a bit of homesickness today, since I just heard from my mother and once again, as expected, everyone is up at the lake. what I wouldn't give to be on Lake Pokegama with them...DH (dear husband) is planning a trip at Christmas but more snow! No thanks. I'd rather get sunburnt. Of course I need to do some serious dieting before the swim suit goes on...I've got this great blog with South Beach Diet recipes taht I think the whole family will be trying...

weekend woes

Here I am again, at work on a Saturday. After three months of maternity leave, you'd think I'd not mind getting away from it all for a bit. That's not true, though, since weekends really should be for the family. I don't mind working weekdays, actually love it because the being cooped up in the house with two little ones can just about make me lose my mind, but weekends are a time to relax, rest, get things done, clean the house, play outside with the kids at a LEISURELY pace, go shopping (yah!)... not work. We're here administering the toefl exam, interesting but not what I want to do on a Saturday for FIVE or SIX hours.
Back to my blogging escapades. I have found bloglines, which is great. I've been figuring out how to add some cool stuff like random books from my library on my blog. It's looking better and better each day. I'm working out how to link within a text, too. All I really need now is to get some pictures up of the new addition to the family!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Pigeons be gone

Yes. We have a pigeon problem. These birds are the rats of the bird world. Rodents. They sweep in off the rooftops and cast shadows over my windows, creating a Hitchcock-type effect throughout the house. They sit in our window boxes and hanging plants and destroy the flowers. What to do? I found this solution on the blog Boing Boing and was thrilled to realize that I am not the only one with this problem. Now... do they ship overseas?

Friday, June 09, 2006

Who am i kidding?

I've been playing around with blogrolling and some other search button thing, of which I forgot the name, and nothing is publishing or working. Even my last post didn't publish. Is this a lost cause for me? Why am I so techologically challenged? I feel completely out of the loop...

Did I Say Procrastinate?

I didn't, but that's what has happened. I said I was consumed with the drive to write, that I could think of nothing else, but then beautiful baby boy comes along and writing has been put on the back burner. Although, I am here, right? Which means that the writing monster is starting to stir...

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Early morning snack

Sunday morning Agustín woke up with Daddy in his bed. He (Agustín) had been tossing and turning all night after a wild and crazy night of chasing wind up toys with Maria Emilia. Andres went to lie down with him so that we could both get some sleep, and ended up falling asleep himself. In the morning they both got up so quietly I had no idea either were awake. There in the kitchen was Agustín, sitting on the counter eating crackers - no bottle, no cereal, but crackers. It is so funny to see him deciding on the things he wants. Normally he would never accept a cracker from us that early in the morning, but this particular morning was different - he decided that a cracker would be his breakfast!

Monday, February 13, 2006

When to Blog

OK, so nobody visits the site because I don't keep it up. I am truly sorry. I guess I have just been using this blog as a way to learn more about blogging. Sometime in the next year I would like to create a blog for writers. I have been reading Mridu Khullar's blog, Jennifer Weiner's, and others', and find them completely inspiring. It is so great to get online and find writers from all over the world. I am determined to get some writing done this year, for my own sanity, but if I can round up a few extra dollars doing it, that would be great. Since we are not getting paid on time and funds are short around here, I need every penny I can get.
I know. Most of you are saying, "What! With a new baby on the way? C'mon, get real." But seriously, for me it is now or never. I have been hanging onto this dream for too long, and it's got me obsessed. One thing that would be great fun would be to write a children's book for Agustin and Nicolás. Not something I would normally be interested in, but how fun would it be to custom-create something for your sons?