Friday, October 21, 2011

Shoe store or closet?

Shoes are so expensive here that we usually stock up when we have a trip to the States. Andrés really gets into getting the boys their shoes for the coming year, and usually goes ahead and gets shoes for other coming years, as well. Consequently, both boys have closets full of shoes in different sizes.

It works great for Agustín - if we forget to have him wear a certain shoe and he outgorws it, it goes directly to Nico. However, if we forget to have Nico wear his... well, then it goes to a co-worker whose son is a couple of years younger than Nico. Recently we had to give her two pairs of shoes - never been worn - from Old Navy and The Children's Place, which were so so cute but just didn't fit anymore.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Gushing over our new faucet

We finally got our faucet fixed. As I thought, we couldn't find the same piece, and there was nothing in white anywhere in the city. According to the plumber, ours was Spanish and the Euro has gone up, so they've stopped importing the white ones. This winter we'll be faucet shopping in the U.S., that's for sure.

It turns out the old faucet was ceramic and very good quality. The plumber almost cried, having to change it. He got all misty-eyed and basically said, "They don't make them like this anymore..." Who would have thought?

On a more positive note, we are enjoying the new faucet. Since it isn't "green", it isn't one of those water saving devices, so water actually comes out of it.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Slipper time!

Nico found some slippers in his closet that used to be Agustín's. They fit him and so we went ahead and put them on and started walking around the house. They don't have names yet (that I know of), but they have already been introduced to Sprinkles.

They've also been pet a lot, just like a real dog.

Agustín, of course, was upset that all of his slippers are too small (note to self: this Christmas in Minnesota, be sure to get the kids slippers), so we took out Daddy's! They are a bit too big but he doesn't mind. I actually think these had to have been Amy's at some point, and she was probably going to throw them away and Andrés saved them. So, just in case, Agustín says, "Thanks, Aunt Amy!!!"

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A small slice of our afternoon

Playing with Bakugans tonight after school. Just a lazy afternoon at home, dragging out toys we haven't seen in a while. Notice how Duckie is never very far behind.

Monday, October 17, 2011

New words for Halloween

Not living in the U.S. means that sometimes my kids are a little restricted in terms of their vocabulary. That, or they get very influenced by mine. I decorated for Halloween a couple of weeks ago, and now whenever the kids go downstairs and see the decoration, I hear:

"This house is so spooky!"

"Spooky stuff!"

"Mommy, this is spooking me..."

And the funniest one yet. Agustín went downstairs for something and came running back up like a bat out of hell, yelling, "This house is seriously freaking me out!"

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Today was a bit warmer, so there was more pool in the morning, before we had to leave for Quito (the ride back generally takes a good 5 hours, and the last part is in the windy hairpin-turn roads of the high Andes, so we like to try to get back before it gets dark, around 6:30-ish). The pool water was quite cold, however, since the sun didn't come out and heat it up yesterday, but if you think the kids cared, or even noticed, you're wrong!

I got some crochet out and worked on some projects I have going at the moment.

(Do you see the use I am getting out of my thirty-one sachel-bag? Yay! I love it!)

Ahhh, what a life. I could honestly live here.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Pool...Ocean...? Pool wins!

The whole way to the beach yesterday, Agustin said, "I don't want to go to the ocean. It's boring. Let's stay in the pool."

I guess I have no problem with that. The pool really is amazing! And we basically had it to ourselves this weekend. And we don't get all sandy, are close to the bathroom, close to the house for Diet Coke and beer refills. But personally, I love the ocean, and we decided that before it got dark tonight, we needed to get down there and check it out (it nevers changes, I guess, but how can we go to the beach and not see...the beach!?)

The tide was high, the water cold (it was not as hot as it normally is, although beautiful weather, nonetheless), and Agustin hurt his foot, which made the two-block walk back to the cabin a bit of a ... trial.

But we came, we saw, we walked (for five minutes). So I got my beach fix, I guess.

No worries. We'll be back in about three weeks, for finados.

(Mmmm, just thinking about colada morada. Yum!)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Over the mountains...

Over the mountains and through the cloud forest, to the beach we go.

The car knows the way to carry us through the fog and winding roads, oh!

I love this time of year. Although summer is my absolute favorite (love. the. heat), the end of the year is so exciting, with all the holidays (Halloween, Thanskgiving, Christmas, New Years, Agustin's birthday, fiestas de Quito, Finados...).

I always loved that song about going to grandma's house with the horse pulling the whole family through the snow (reminded me of Laura Ingalls Wilder, who I secretly always wanted to live like, at least for a few days, lol). But being able to enjoy the beach and the heat and the pool and the ocean in October is wonderful, too. I guess driving through the cloud forests and winding around the warm tropical roads, barely missing the poor iguanas who are just trying to cross the highway, is better than taking a horse through the snow to grandma's house...

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The mochila

The boys have a special mochila they use to store all their Lego Hero Factory heroes. (2.0! 3.0! four point oh!!!!) We bring it everywhere we go, restaurants, to Grandma's house, in the car for car rides.

As Agus says, "Mommy, we need to have something to do!"

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Homework Blues...Not!

I know I complain a lot about the amount of homework Agustin gets. Last year wasn't bad at all, but otherwise so far in his school career he has gotten all the teachers who think giving hours of homework is the solution to everything (mainly I believe it is just poor organization - not getting through your curriculum because you probably didn't plan class, but I digress). (And to be fair to some of his teachers, many times it is the parents who complain that "not enough" homework is being given out. What I have come to realize is that since most parents work such long hours, the homework keeps the kids busy and in the house and out of trouble for the entire afternoon, and the parents don't have to worry so much about them. Maybe more homework should be given in the U.S. as well...)

Anyhow, this year Agustin has had about 2-3 hours of homework almost every night (one nice thing about his school is that homework is not given on Fridays - that is, as Agustin keeps reminding us, until seventh grade, lol). Almost every day he gets Math and English (easy peasy - or as Agustin says, "tillos!") , and then maybe Spanish or Social Studies or Science. Some nights he gets reading homework and book reports (which I will not complain about because I am so happy to finally see some reading getting into the curriculum here - and the book reports are just what the teachers should be doing - more like how you can relate the story to your life and what parts of the story you liked best rather than a "test" to see if you read the story or not).

Every night he comes home and we sit down to hours of work... but he is so happy. He loves his homework. He thinks it is fun, and exciting, and there is always some aspect he gets a kick out of (like, "I get to draw a picture!" or, "I have to put this in the right notebook in red ink", etc). That is really something I love about him - he has such a sunny disposition, most of the time, and can find entertainment in anything (I will always remember how at a restaurant he'd take the napkins and fashion them into ships or planes and have "crashing" and "exploding" sessions - anyone who has gone out to eat with us knows what this can be like).

One of his assignments this year is to create a diarama of the solar system. Oh boy, has he been excited about this. We have two weeks to get it done, and so have been taking it slowly. Tonight was painting night, and even Nicolas got in on the action. After everything dries, we will just have to put it together. His favorite planet is Mars now (he is getting over the Pluto disappointment, I think), but I think his favorite part of putting it together will be putting in the asteroid belt.

They really loved figuring out what colors each planet should be. We must have had about 3-4 books open to help us get the right color for each one!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The school routine (at least this week)

This week I am off and so I am in charge of dropping the kids off at school and picking them up again. The drop off takes about an hour - traffic is horrendous! And pick up really isn't that much better, just that it is warmer by then (the mornings have been SO cold) so I am happier. I like to get in the car, which is roasting, and not open the windows or anything, just sweat through it and let the sun beat on me and have my own little private sauna session, until the kids get inside and absolutely melt, crying and whining the whole time that they are going to die because it is so hot.

Well, they really aren't exagerrating. It is HOT!

When I pick them up from school, I have to have a juice box for them (or they melt and absolutely die since they are so thirsty), and then it is off to Grandma Shushu's, where we have a lovely lunch waiting for us. Then off to do some homework. Now Shushu lives just a block away! It is so nice knowing that she is so close. I'm not sure she necessarily likes living "out in the boonies" (or in the south of Cayambe, as my brother-in-law says), but I think she likes being near the kids at least. :)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Strawberry jam

A few months ago, a friend of ours gave us a whole bunch of strawberries and Andres ended up making strawberry preserves. It was such a hit, especially with Agustin, who kept asking us when he was going to make more. So, finally this weekend, we went out on the highway to kind some big crates of strawberries. Up near El Quinche we hit the jackpot - got a huge crate for just $6! And now we have about 4 jars of preserves. Yum!

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Running again

Today I ran, for the first time since our 5K in August. I didn't go for very far, but it felt so good (until later that night). My knees are a bit sore but now that I got the maiden voyage, so to speak, out of the way, I expect I will be able to find more motivation to start running again. Who knows? There may be another 5K in my future, a 5K through the mountains of Quito!

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Traffic Jam

Just yesterday I was talking about traffic in Quito, and here is proof! Came upstairs to see what the kids were working on and, not content enough to experience this in real life every day, saw that they had recreated a traffic jam. Caused, of course, by the accident there in the front. But, no fear! The cops have arrived and traffic will be flowing shortly!

Friday, October 07, 2011

A week finished

A week ago today we finished our teacher training course. Which means I have had vacation all week (other than getting grades in) and don't start work again until the 17th or so! Yay!

This week I will be honest, I haven't gotten much done. I love to just lounge around and do a few things at a time, while I read on my iPod. But next week I will get cracking! First on the agenda is to start exercising more regularly, and second is to get last year's December daily finished. I might have some time to go through the kids' closets. But at least get the very minimum done. I do still have to drop them off at school and pick them up, and with the traffic nowadays, that is really no easy feat.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Being Ecuadorian

One of the things I have always wanted to do since I moved to Ecuador was "blend in". Being "blond" (in the eyes of most Ecuadorians, although I would never consider myself so), it isn't always easy, and when I go out for a run or walk there is always someone who has to stare at me as if I am an exotic animal at the zoo. Always makes me uncomfortable.

But one way I try to counter this is to always know more about Ecuador than the very own Ecuadorians do. Know more about their geography, history, food and culture. It helps that my mother-in-law is a great cook and Andrés's family loves to travel. I get to experience a lot of dishes that are not always so easy to find here in the big city, and I have seen a lot of small towns and out-of-the-way places.

And I have learned how to make many traditional dishes, those dishes that only Grandma knows how to make. One is bala de verde (bolón is the much more popular version, but bala is from Esmeraldas, where Andrés's father's family has roots). To make bala is quite easy - put the plantain in the pressure cooker, and cook until soft. Then mash it up with a big rock and add cheese, then eat as is or, more typically, fry it up. (Bolón is different in that the cheese is put in the middle of the plantain, like a hot pocket. I prefer bala, with the cheese mixed throughout.)

I can be proud of the fact that I, unlike many other Ecuadorians of my age or younger, can make things like dulce de zambo, sopa de pan, bola de verde, empanadas de mejido. I love the fact that Andrés and I can go to the market and ask for the zambo, and when the lady at the stall asks what we need it for, we can tell her "to make dulce de zambo". And she looks at us, very skeptically, and asks, one eyebrow raised, "Do you really know how to make that?"

The answer is, yes, yes we do!

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Lego Hero Factory...We Build Heroes

Auntie Jennie bought each of the kids a Lego Hero Factory Hero this summer, and started what is now a full-blown craze. We have read the magazines, visited the web sites, and seen the movies (wherein Nico realized that his green guy, Breez, is a girl. Resigned to his fate, he sighed and said, "That always happens to me." And, poor guy, for some reason, it does. But he loves her now, and every so often pretends she is a boy.)

We got more heroes, some of which are 2.0 (3.0 is coming out this fall, I've heard), and now it is a mix and match frenzy around here. The kids love taking them all apart and putting them back together into new hero creations.

The only thing they say they are missing are the "bad guys". :)

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Candy break

At this rate I will never shed those extra pounds that I packed on this summer. We opened up a box of Mike and Ikes and Mommy was more excited than the kids to dig in!

Notice our new Ikea bedspread? It was about time. But white? Again, what were we thinking!!!???

Monday, October 03, 2011

Just when you get a little vacation time...

the kitchen faucet explodes. (Gross, I know I need to scrub that sink, sorry!) Anyhow, Andres was doing the dishes tonight when suddenly the arm of the faucet decided to make like a rocket and just flew right off of the arm. Apparently plastic fixtures inside a faucet are not such a good idea - this is the second time we have trouble with this sink, mainly because our pipes are copper and so the water stays way too hot on the first floor (and never quite hot enough on the second and third floors) and the fixtures within actually end up melting down over time.

Ugh. I know what tomorrow will be - searching for a white faucet that matches (which I am sure we will never find) as well as looking for a plumber who might be able to come over and install it.

Until then, we will have to be real careful on the amount of dishes we dirty :(

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Back to the old grind

Well, the summer's over, school has started and we are finally getting into a routine (looks like another homework-heavy year, about 2-3 hours a night for my poor Agustin, although he is taking it like a trooper and always comments on how fun his homework is), the teaching course has finished and some of my other obligations are over with, and this next week will be time to stay at home and:
  • decorate
  • clean
  • clean
  • organize and sort
  • and clean.
My poor house has been very neglected lately.

Needless to say, my basil and dill did NOT survive our extended vacation, so another project is to go ahead and start new plants.

Because I am so far "behind", and my sisters have written about all the good stuff already on their blogs, I will just bless you with a mini collage of some of our best moments this summer...

State fair moments - always a highlight!

Hanging out with my SUPER smart, SUPER cute, amazingly funny and quirky little nieces!

Trips to the Home Depot to do minor fixups on the new houses!

And one of the houses!

Junior Science Camp at Mommy's old school.

Spending time with my four beautiful and fantastic sisters!

Catching up with dear friends.

Playing a game of marbles up at the lake!

A visit to the Saint Paul Cathedral.

Finishing a 5k, beating my old record of never having run one before. I ran the whole way and made it under 45 minutes!

A couple side trips. To:

Mora... such a quaint, picturesque little town! Andres liked all the Scandinavian touches.

and to Hinckley... (the kids LOVE to stay in hotels - really, I guess, what kid doesn't?)

A behind-the-scenes look at the Grandpa Dan Show!

Como Zoo

The Pine County Fair and Parade! Oh, the candy!

Some moments with everyone's favorite grandpa, the one and only Grandpa Dan!!!

A pre-wedding popcorn party...

Swimming and lunch at Hannah and Hailey's.

Lots and lots of trips to the library!

A little time with the Miller/Mars side of the family.

A great dinner, just Andres and the "girls" :)

The toys up at the cabin!

Tractor rides

Lots of time spent with our beloved Legos.

A visit to Chuck E. Cheese's.

Pontoon rides (even getting stuck out on the lake was a bit of an adventure!)

And, back home, the clean up afterwards!

Whew! What a great, awesome, amazing summer!!!!!!