Sunday, May 30, 2010

Jatun Hausi, Zip lines and Sore backs, Oh my!

A couple of years ago, when my dad came for a visit, we went to a great restaurant, right on the equator, in Cayambe, called Jatun Hausi. The food was good, and there was a great playground for the kids, nice decor, and a swimming pool. Andres's aunt invited the whole family today, in honor of my upcoming birthday! We were going to go west to subtropical Arashá, but heard there were landslides on the road, so changed plans at the last minute and went up north instead.

We got there and Agustín was fascinated by the sign on the door. "It's in English, Mommy!" He decided he needed to see the other side. "I bet it says, Closed," he told me. And he was right!

Some big antique padlocks.

Today was a bit too cold for swimming, but the kids had fun on the playground.

"Nico, why don't you swing?"
"I'm waiting for Tin to come back from the bathroom."

There was a zip line, and after a few runs with Mommy holding onto him, Agustín finally got up enough nerve to go down it by himself.

"Andrés, watch him while I try to get a better picture, please."

Whoops! Where's Tin? Um, what!??? I only got ... his feet?!?

Ouch - poor kid got the wind knocked out of him as Daddy watched him slip from the zip line while Mommy was trying to get the perfect shot. He fell flat on his back, right on a root sticking out of the ground, and hurt his back a bit. He'll live. But he'll be sore tomorrow!

Luckily, we ran into a kid from playgroup, who helped take our mind off of the pain.

You gotta love the look on my mother-in-law's face as she watches Agustín fall...

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Twelve in the bed

Since the age of about two, Agustín has always slept with a stuffed animal. Since Little Brother does everything Big Brother does, Nicolás also has to sleep with a stuffed animal. Or two. Or three... Um, at this point we are up to 9! It is getting a bit ridiculous.

The nightly roll call:
Plomito (Agustín's)
(The rest are Nicolás's):
Big Duckie
Little Duckie
Little Bunny

Plus two kids - 12 in total! Slowly but surely, Nico is running out of room on his side of the bed...

Friday, May 28, 2010

Paper crafts

I will be so happy once Agustin is out of school, as I - I mean, he - won't have any more homework to cram in every night. However, every once in awhile the teacher has a cute project for them to do. Today it was to find a paper craft from the web site (which, by the way, does not exist), and choose one of the animals and make it. Lucky for my son, his mama is WAY into paper crafts, and knew about a cute web site,, where you can make your own cool rockets and robots. As the other parents were up until midnight trying to figure out what the heck the lady was talking about, and surfing the net for some sort of paper craft that would be appropriate for a six-year-old, we had ours done in a matter of 15 minutes! AND, we did two, for good measure. They turned out cute, and Agustin wanted to pose with them - with his "cool" face - before he had to turn them in the next day.

Of course, when no one was looking Little Brother had to get some play time in with them.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Working from home today

I love that I can have my coffee, pop and listen to music while I work. Plus, I am much more comfortable on my own chair, at my own desk, everything spread out. Nice!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Love/hate relationship

For about five years, we haven't owned a toaster. Instead, we've relied on our toaster oven (this is our second in those five years - and YES! I know it's really dirty and needs a crumb-cleaning - try to ignore that, please!). I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with it, however.

  • It is really convenient for making quick breads, cupcakes, etc.
  • It is much easier to turn on than our regular oven (must be something with the altitude, but I can never get my oven to light up right here in Quito - it always "blows up" in my face or just doesn't light, period).
  • You can easily see how things are doing.
  • It is easy to set the temp (it's in Fahrenheit rather than Celsius, like our "real" oven, so I don't have to do any math to figure out the right temp for baking).
  • It cooks things really fast.

  • It cooks things really fast.
  • Toast almost always burns.
  • Food can burn too quickly, so you have to be watching it much better.
  • Things burn really quickly in it.
  • Did I mention that things burn quickly in it?
  • Oh, and I should probably add that it is a bit of an eyesore, takes up too much counter space, and is always full of crumbs, no matter how often I clean it.
  • Almost every time.

Can you tell I am still upset about my burnt toast this morning?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Picture Day

Remember picture day? Today the kids got their school pictures taken, so they had to wear their "good" uniform. Every night, we get the clothes laid out on the bed to help with the morning routine. If only we could pre-feed Nicolas, we'd be set!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Sweets from Manta

My in-laws were in Manta this weekend and brought home some traditional sweets. Yum. Coconut.

After hearing about their trip they made me want to visit Manta. Maybe we can go next vacation.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Madness. Oreo Madness.

Friday's has a special on weekends where kids eat for free. But that isn't the reason we go a lot. The reason is, according to Nicolas and Agustin, Friday's has "the best food in the world." Agus always gets the chicken fingers, and Nicolas used to get the chicken fingers but lately has been enjoying the hamburgers. (Both the kids tried a hamburger for the first time in Ambato a few months ago - in La Oasis - and since then have decided that hamburgers are delicious. But they eat them completely plain - no condiments or cheese - just the bun!)

Even better than the kid's meal, however, is the Oreo Madness. Even though Agustin cleans his plate (plus the garlic breadsticks they serve as you wait for the food), he always has room for the Oreo Madness. Last time we ordered a regular serving, to share as a family, but it came up short. This time we got wise and ordered a whole one just for Agustin.

He opened his mouth wider than I've ever seen it go! If only his dentist could see him now! She wouldn't dare say he has a small mouth.

He really liked it.

As they say, the proof is in the pudding!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

A glimpse into the past

I was dead sick today and had to give a workshop in the afternoon in the valley. Andres packed up the kids and drove me, since I was so out of it I never would have made it driving myself. On the way home we stopped at the grocery store and Andres went in to get a few things while the kids and I stayed in the car waiting for him. I was out of it, but suddenly I looked over and saw Nicolas sitting in the driver's seat and drinking from Daddy's water bottle. The look on his face reminded me of when - not all that long ago, really - he used to drink from a bottle. I felt sort of sad, missing my baby, until I realized that in all reality it is just over a year and a few months ago that he quit the bottle. (A little embarrassing for a four-year-old)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Surprise hugs

Came around the corner today as the kids were getting ready for bed and saw this. I don't know where it comes from sometimes, but every once in awhile the kids get really close and get along really well and hug and console each other.

Looks like this weekend might be one of those times...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The evening routine to make the morning routine a lot easier

This is what the front door looks like every night before bed. We have everything ready - the kids' backpacks, the bag for the after school change of clothes and shoes. And my stuff! Wowee - sometimes I have more than them - laptop, books, folders/pens and stuff for workshops. Putting it all at the door before bed makes it easier in the morning. What would really make it easier would be putting it in the car the night before, but for some reason that never seems to happen!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Pancakes for supper

The kids sure like pancakes. When all else fails, offer pancakes for supper. Plus, you'll get a lot of help if Nicolás is around.

Of course, not always the best dinner, so serve with a side of fruit to round it off.

At least it goes down fast!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Mommy, I want a cupcake!

Tonight, around 7 p.m., we were just finishing up homework and starting on supper, when Agustin saw some cupcakes in a magazine. He almost never asks for special treats, and isn't much of a sweet tooth, if you don't count donuts and an occasional piece of chocolate, and I suppose because he is also spoiled*, I decided to do a Martha Stewart and whip up some cupcakes. Easier said than done, as the batch was for 4-5 dozen and I only have a 6-cupcake tin. I am still here, making cupcakes, and he is long in bed. But he did get his cupcake before bed, and all was good in the world.

(He said to me, as he cleaned up his plate, "Thank you, Mommy, for making me cupcakes so late." Sometimes I can't believe that kid, he is so sweet and thoughtful!)

* I really should stress the part about how he almost never asks me for a special treat like this, whereas little brother is constantly asking, throughout the day: "Mommy, I want brownies!". Or, "Mommy, make me a chocolate cake!". Or, "Mommy, I want a sucker!". This goes on about every 15 minutes, and wouldn't be so bad except that by the time you make or go out and buy whatever it was he wanted, it has suddenly changed and something new is on the menu. Which now results in a lot of "no's" from this poor, tired Mommy!

ETA: Thanks, FB. While I was catching up on everyone's FB lives, my last batch of cupcakes burned... :(

Monday, May 17, 2010

A Clean House

Last Friday I had to work late (day trip to Ibarra with my boss and the sales rep) and we got back into Quito around 8 pm. Andres thought I might invite my boss in, so he did some power cleaning and straightening up. Because it took him so long, he made a deal with the boys - keep it clean for at least a week (I have since then tried to extend it to forever, but I guess a week is a good enough start!). Here we are, three days later, and doing OK, at least on the first floor.

Good job, boys!

Sunday, May 16, 2010


Need a handy tip? Any time the kids (or husband) want to eat something that makes TONS of crumbs, if it is still light out - send them OUTSIDE!

This is typical in my house.

"Mommy, we want barquillos!"

"Ok, out you go."

Not having to sweep up 6,000,000 pieces of barquillos is a good thing. Of course by morning we will be invaded by the birds, as they eat up all the crumbs in the yard. It'll be a regular Alfred Hitchcock around here at 6 a.m.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Another arts n' crafts morning

The kids were my guinea pigs for a demo class I was preparing for this afternoon, and in the book we were using, there was a section on decorating a box. They saw it and immediately it was, "We want to decorate a box! We want to decorate a box!" Out came the arts and crafts, and now I have two decorated boxes sitting around the house that I will never be able to throw away. (They become very attached to their crafts projects.)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Mac n' Cheese

Dinners around here are usually pretty low key. Tonight it is Mac-n-cheese. The kids love to help with it, so I like making it, too, because I get lots of help from the kids, watching to see if the pot is boiling over!

Notice in the background that big round of bread? Andrés has been making some awesome peasant bread! It is much much much better than store bought, and spongey and perfect for the altitude, where bread can be very difficult to make correctly.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Pico y placa - the start of a love/hate relationship

My pico y placa day is Thursday, because my license plate ends in 8. That means that I cannot drive my car inside the city between 7-9:30 a.m. and 4-7:30 p.m. I am not a fan of this measure the city has taken to try to reduce the traffic, for many reasons I don't care to get into here (it'll just get me all worked up). Because of this, however, my boss has said I can work from home on Thursdays, when possible. I did today, and loved it! If this is the way it is going to go, I may just decide that pico y placa is a great thing!

Notice how I still do not have a "real" license plate yet. Every month since I bought the car (Oct. 2009), they have said the license plates will be in "next month". It's been 7-8 "next months" and still no license plates. Even though an announcement came out in the paper saying that the license plates are finally ready. Nope, not ready.

Needless to say, there are a lot of people driving around the city with papers instead of real plates!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The internet is slowly taking over my four-year-old's mind

Today Nicolas was drawing on a piece of paper. He has recently learned how to draw an umbrella, and has been practicing those a lot. He has also learned how to draw thick lines and color them in. Today he was doing both when he finished with a flourish. He picked up the paper and showed it to me. "See Mommy - I signed it. W w w dot com. That's what they say on TV at the end of everything!" (He said it originally in Spanish - "w w w punto com". So cute!)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Meet Plomito

Agustin's favorite stuffed animal. He sleeps with him and dresses him and holds him when watching TV. He gets a bit offended when we say Plomito is a donkey, but can't quite figure out something else for him to be, so prefers to say it in Spanish: "burrito". The diminutive can make any word sound sweeter!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Having trouble with Blogger

Besides the fact that my pictures on iPhoto suddenly won't show up when I'm logged into Blogger, I have been having trouble getting online to blog a little.

This is why.

Someone has been planted here, day after day. Someone who gets home 2 hours before me. Someone who loves his computer.

I have to wait until after 9 or 10, when I am too tired. (Not so much the night owl anymore, am I?)

So sorry

So sorry for the post yesterday. It was a real downer. But thanks for letting me get some stuff off my chest! It is really therapuetic to write stuff down for me, and I feel 100% better today. Plus, Andres is going to help out with the presentation tonight, the part of helping Agustin remember. I shouldn't worry so much, but I do. I don't want to! I need to work on that.

Sending only good thoughts to all of you!

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Happy Mother's Day (The Real One!)

ETA: (I finally got the picture to work!) The boys were really tired today at the end of the day. We spent the evening relaxing a bit in front of the TV, watching Lluvia de Hamburguesas, (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs).

I have been feeling very overwhelmed lately. I feel like I am in a constant state of panic. One thing is my job - it's got me in a state of perpetual worry, and I haven't adjusted real well to the whole schedule we've been on for, oh, the last 7 months! I feel completely stressed out all the time, and the only solution I can come up with is that maybe I need to spend more time with the kids. I know financially that it isn't really an option, but at the same time, I don't know how to continue on at this pace. The traveling I do throws me off my schedule and it takes days to try to get back on my "game". I don't like not knowing what my schedule is from day to day, and I hate not being the person in charge of it. I stress out completely if a workshop or presentation comes up last minute, and often I just feel so overwhelmed by it all I could just cry nonstop!

Mornings are too crazy, no matter how much I try to get everything prepared the night before. Someone is always pooping, puking, or spilling something just as we are walking out the door, so getting up earlier never seems to help. And to make matters worse, it takes over an hour to get Nicolas to eat something. It is a constant battle and most days I can't even get myself ready, so I walk out of the door with my hair wet and some barrettes to clip it up as it dries.

Already I am stressing because tomorrow I've got to drop the kids off at school (can't do it earlier than 7:30), and then have to try to get to the office to pick up someone who will be taking me to a presentation (she can't use her car tomorrow because of pico y placa). She, of course, wants to leave the office like 7:45 to be there on time, but I probably won't make it there until 8. (Bad bad traffic at that time, even WITH pico y placa). She wasn't happy when I told her, but seriously what am I expected to do? I can't leave the kids earlier than 7:30 (they start at 8 and the school doesn't open until 7:30), plus I don't think it is fair to make them be at school that early. Now of course I am stressing that we will never make it on time. I guess I just have to let go and say who cares?

Then there is the whole worry I have about the kids' school. There are days that Agustin does homework for 2-3 hours, and it also means 2-3 hours of attention for mom and dad. We have to sit with him and help him and keep him on track. On top of all of this added homework (the teacher is obviously trying to cram in everything she couldn't finish before the end of the school year), Agustin also has been doing all these special projects. It might be OK for a teenager, but for a 6-year-old it just means extra work for mom and dad as well, and the stress is really getting to me. This Tuesday Agustin and I will be presenting something on the telegraph, but we haven't really had time to prepare anything since just taking care of his regular homework is so time-consuming. On top of it, I don't see them much during the week, and this last week I barely saw them at all, and then yesterday the program took all day, and today with it being Mother's Day and having everyone over to celebrate, we simply haven't had the time or energy to work on it. Now I am stressed out that we have to do it tomorrow, between 6 and 8 pm, and also try to cram some dinner in during that time. I hate this feeling, this feeling of never being able to stop and reflect and take things slowly.

I feel like I am drowning. I feel like a little kid who is trapped. I don't feel like an adult some times. Now we also have pico y placa to keep things confusing and complicated, and I just want NO complications for a while. I really hate pico y placa.

I don't know how much more I can take, quite honestly.

I know this was a bummer of a post for a day when other moms are being treated to breakfast in bed and all, but today was stressful and not relaxing and I don't feel prepared for the beginning of another week. And the thought that I will be working the next two Saturdays also has me stressed and on edge.

On a happier note, I got to see and talk to my mom and sister on Skype tonight. That really brightened up my day, so thanks to them! Love you!

I will have to get a picture up later - for some reason I can't get iPhoto to load my pictures on Blogger tonight.

Good night.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

Today the kids had a big Mother's Day program planned for their school, so of course, Nicolas thought it was Mother's Day today, and would hear nothing else. So instead of fighting against him all day, we just went along with it.

Nicolas was a mariachi and Agustin a Zuleta indian from the north of Ecuador. My mother-in-law helped me find the costumes this week since I was in Ambato and couldn't do it. (And if we left it to Daddy, he would probably have wrapped some paper colored with a black magic marker around Nicolas and a white sheet around Agustin and called it done. He isn't into the details too much, needless to say!)

It took some convincing, but eventually Nicolas let me put a mustache on him.

The mariachis were the hit of the program. They gave all the mothers a serenade, and did a great job. I think I can see Nicolas doing this for a living some day. He really got into the guitar. And you'll notice that we had to get a "real" guitar after all. The paper one Daddy made didn't make it through rehearsals.

Nicolas did not forget to brown nose his mother all day. I got more hugs and kisses than any of the other mothers in the crowd, that I can be sure of!

After sitting for over 2 hours, it was finally Agustin's turn. He was a bit sleepy after sitting in the hot sun for so long, but a big stretch and yawn should do the trick.

Afterwards, Agucho posed with David, his best friend.

After the program we had lunch at TGI Friday's. The kids absolutely LOVE this place, and even ordered the Oreo Madness dessert - and ate it all (mom and dad had a hard time trying to sneak in a bite or two!)

Friday, May 07, 2010

Power scrapbooking!

Had a blast today doing some heavy scrapbooking. The house is a mess now and I've got stuff everywhere, but man did I have fun! I can't wait for my trip to the U.S. to get more stuff. I am being ruthless and using as much as I can before I go, so I will have PLENTY of room for all the new stuff!

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Oh Oh it's magic!

Whenever I go on a trip, I try to get a little something for the kids. Most places I go to, it's hard to find something, so they usually get a candy bar or something (not that they mind). But in Ambato, there is a MALL. Yes, a mall, believe it or not! They are that hip! Anyway, I had a little time over lunch and decided to go to the toy store at the mall. I picked up a tic tac toe game for Nicolas and got Agustin a little magic kit because lately he has been expressing an interest in magic and whether or not it's "real". It was a hit with both boys!

The best part of the kit was the magic thumb, which conceals the red scarf. I will try to get a video up of the kids performing this trick, but the effect of the fake thumb (which is about double the size of a normal adult's thumb) on a little kid's hand got hysterical giggles out of them every time. They laughed all night watching each of us perform the trick!

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Another day, another dollar

In Riobamba yesterday, but this is about all I saw of the city. It was a rainy rainy, cold cold day, but I did get a glimpse of Chimborazo towering above me as I left the city in the afternoon. It was amazing and took my breath away, but I was driving and the road was slippery and full of hairpin turns, so I couldn't get a picture. Some day!

Back at the hotel, I had dinner with "Boy"*. Nice not to have to eat alone.

*That's what the kids call their grandpa, by the way... :)